Badla

In the 90s and early 2000s Bollywood wanted you to leave your brains at home before going to the theaters. Now they are not only encouraging you to bring it along in its most alert state but they are also asking you to fasten a belt around it because the jolts and plot twists may make it go for quite a ride.

Granted Badla is a remake of The Invisible Guest, a 2016 Spanish movie, but I’d rather see a well copied story than a bad original one. Watch this movie carefully and don’t go to the bathroom. If you miss a few scenes you will be out of the loop of constant puzzling together the pieces of the rather convoluted story. Once unraveled it seems like the most logical course of happenings – given the circumstances – but the journey of getting there is what makes this movie so watch-worthy.

Amitabh Bachchan for once was not annoying as he has been in his recent movies like 102 Not Out. He is believable in his character, looks the part and acts the part. Taapsee Pannu is good as usual but her lack of emotions during the three hour ‘hearing’ makes her character a bit one-dimensional. Amrita Singh had a great comeback with this movie though I have never been a big fan of her acting even in her hay days.

Save the few irrationalities (the South Indian accented boyfriend trying to pass as an Ajay Mehta and the otherwise rather simple father’s brain on steroids) the movie is well made, captivating and tightly told within the confines of a single room and some flashback shots. (8/10)

Badla

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Uri: The Surgical Strike

It boggles my mind to see what extents of pain and sacrifice military men and women endure to protect their country and for all practical purposes earn their living. It’s unfortunate that they are not nearly as celebrated outside of their own circles as successful people in business, entertainment and other industries.

Just like Rustom and Raazi, Uri also has the charm of Military etiquette and decor. In this case though it is nestled among sheer courage and brute force. My favorite part of the movie is Vicky Kaushal’s impeccable acting. Watch out for the scene at his brother-in-law’s funeral where he is standing tall like an Army man is supposed to but without speaking a word he emotes a whole litany of feelings. Now that is art!

Vicky Kaushal doesn’t have the most typically attractive face but he sure is one of the most handsome and most skilled actors in Bollywood right now. TDH of Mills and Boones fame finds a meaning in him.

The movie is a great entertainer showing both the strategic and physical demands of an Army job and for the first time ever you see our Army men making use of modern technology – drones, infrared trackers, signal blockers, etc.

The climax is made using excellent videography putting the viewer in the middle of the surgical strike – as close as you and I will likely ever get to a heart-pumping situation like this.

The only ‘huh?’ moment was seeing a highly skilled Army Intelligence agent deployed as a surveillance nurse at the protagonists home for a while but then something had to be done to get the Bollywood romance going. (8/10)

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Baazaar

I am surprised Jains all over India haven’t created a ruckus about the misrepresentation and straight out disrespect of Jainism in this movie yet. Disclaimer: By no means am I claiming that there aren’t immoral Jain business people out there. There are a dime and a dozen for all I know. However, we Jain clearly don’t sit in opera houses to chant Michhami Dukkadam with our butts in cushy chairs and our hands waiving through the air. Also, temples are not places where business is conducted and cops and their likes walk in and out with their shoes on as they please to disrupt meditative practices.

Aside from that the movie had a solid plot, some good dialogues, great background scoring and a refreshing cast. Rohan Mehra was the perfect choice for the Allahabad ka middle class ladka who quickly grows on you as the big city ways groom him. This was his first movie so he may not be in the league of his co-actors just yet but he certainly has potential. What a great movie and role to be launched with!

A shrewd business sense, greed and hunger to succeed is what this movie is all about. It is no secret that “too much” education makes bad businessmen. Some of the most successful businessmen are the ones that have a raw edge to themselves where sophistication is replaced with courage, curiosity and a ‘what-have-I-got-to-lose-attitude’!

Saif Ali Khan may not look like a typical Gujju businessman but he stood his ground. Despite never making it mainstream I feel Chitrangada Singh is one of the most attractive actresses out there. If only I could age like her. Radhika Apte is putting the make up industry out of business with her not-pretty-but-you’ll-still-notice looks. (7/10)

P.S.: No. Angadiyas don’t put 40 carat diamonds in 10-year-olds peanut wrappers!

Bazaar

Andhadhun

This. Is. Entertainment!

100 Shah Rukh Khan’s kurbaan on one movie like this that is a nail-biting thriller from beginning to end with top-notch writing, screenplay, acting and directing. I saw this movie at an 11.15 pm show because despite it being in week 3 it’s still sold out show after show – deservedly so! The normal me needs to put matchsticks between her lids to stay up past 10 pm these days but this movie had my heart beating at elevated rates for the entire 2 hours and 30 minutes of its runtime well past midnight.

Thrillers are usually a bit serious or even edging the dark but Andhadhun dexteroulsy managed to take a highly macabre subject and turned it into borderline comic scenes. Triple salute to the director for walking that tightrope between thrill and smiles so eloquently.

Just like an Abbas Mustan movie Andhadhun makes your eyes pop out (pun intended) with surprise every two minutes. The characters get under your skin and you start living the thoughts of each one of them thanks to excellent acting by every single one of them and masterful directing by Sriram Raghavan.

Love how Tabu is picking a few but very interesting roles such as her role in Drishyam and now this one. Her character is relentless yet so circumstantial. Every move of hers shocks you but at the same time makes you laugh a little.

Ayushman, is among my Top 2 favorite actors. He and Rajkumar Rao can be served any wildcard role and they’ll blow it out of the water! The ease with which he becomes one with any role he is asked to play is commendable and the reason why I’d anytime prefer watching a movie of his vs the overhyped Indian “stars”.

It’s been about 20 hours since I have watched the movie but I am still in awe of how every scene and dialog in the movie was strung together masterfully.

Do yourself a favor and go watch this on the big screen! (10/10)

Andhadhun

Race 3

By God (Bhagvan/Allah/Jesus – or anyone else you may believe in) RACE as fast as you can in the opposite direction of the ticket counter.

Imagine…you go to a restaurant once and get served Paneer Butter Masala, the second time you go you get served Kadhai Paneer. With your expectations as high as they should be by this time on your third visit you are served a plate of rotten stinky onions. Yup, that’s exactly what happened to me here. After watching Race and Race 2, both of which were some of my most favorite thrillers, Race 3 was so anticlimactically bad that I am never going to trust another Race sequel blindly. And yes, there will be another sequel as announced by Salam Khan in the closing scene. Please just don’t let him be part of it!

The Race series is known for its plot twists, style, polish, glamour and class. Enter Salman Khan! The plot twists are still there but some of them more obvious than the sun rising from the East. Style, polish, glamour and class all gone to the dogs. All that’s left is Salman Khan cleaning the floor with his homegrown dance moves, dialogues that are cringeworthy, and his front-seat-whistle-inducing antiques.

Race is supposed to be an out and out thriller but since Salman took over he had to add his forced humor to the mix. The Bhojpuri dialect totally robbed the last graces off the plot and made this one a big dud!

I almost slipped off my plush movie theatre chair when the song “I found love” came on. Was this satirical content as part of the plot? The five words skirting my tongue the whole time were “Is this $#!+ for realz?!” … I found love … I found love in you … Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez super awkwardly posing on rocks and lifting their booties to twist their legs…I can’t get it out of my head!

Costumes likely didn’t cost much. Jacqueline’s designer ordered a bunch of monochrome bedsheets from Amazon, tore them up in different places and hung them on her. Salman and Bobby were rolling in some desert shirtless last I woke up to check how much longer until I can go home.

Overall, this movie served as a solid dose of diphenhydramine (main ingredient of sleeping pills) for me. I slept through about 30% off it and suffered through the remaining 70%. (1/10)

 

 

 

race 3

Raazi

After a six week hiatus & figuring out why I have more <randomstringofletters>@outlook.com blog followers than Donald Trump has typos in his tweets I am back!

I may have been slacking with writing reviews but rest assured I was on the top of my game watching movies! Let me start with the best:

Raazi, a beautiful play on word, signifying a young girls’ willingness to marry an unknown man, join an unknown family, call a rival country her new ‘home’ and her willingness to put all on the line to become a spy for her motherland. A deep bow of respect for real life Sehmat whose heart beat for more than just her own wellbeing.

Alia Bhatt is putting nepotism claims to rest with yet another talent-filled portrayal of the protagonist. What a nice contrast to pelvic thrusting, half-clad, dunked in a pot of make up heroins! Mind you, this wasn’t an easy character to play. It was equal parts grief and determination, confidence and sub-ordinance, hope and despair, courage and fear. Yet she brought each of these to life without flinching an eye.

Vicky Kaushal was a true surprise. How handsomely he slipped into a Pakistani army man’s, a son’s, a brother’s and a husband’s character. Ouuff! It’s not the first time I am asking and also not the last: “Where do they make men like these anymore??” Accomplished yet humble, not sappily romantic yet loving and caring in ways that don’t need words…

The direction was powerful, subtle and had just the perfect amount of patriotism, pride and clever.

Bonus: If Dilbaro doesn’t get you crying at “Babul ki Duayein Leti Ja” levels go get your eyes or your heart checked! (10/10)

raazi

 

The 15:17 to Paris

Maybe Clint Eastwood is just trying to burn through his money in his Golden years now. There is no other rhyme or reason why he would choose to make a movie like this. The 15:17 to Paris is based on the true story of three American soldiers that prevented a terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. By no means am I diminishing their heroic feat but what could have been told in a 10 minute YouTube clip turned into a 1 hour 36 min ordeal that was entirely unnecessary. The story starts with the childhood of these three boys in elaborate detail which has absolutely nothing to do with the incidence on the train, goes into how they all join the army, shows them awkwardly traveling through Europe with the last 15 minutes actually showing the incident on the train.

Bad acting, awkward dialogues and a script not worth the paper it’s written on. (1/10)

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