Posts Tagged ‘ Kareena Kapoor ’

Udta Punjab

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Udta Punjab
Release date: June 17, 2016
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Kareena Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Manav Vij, Suhail Nayyar

On the Pakistani side of the Punjab-Pakistan border, a discus throw athlete is brought along to catapult a package of “brown powder” into a farm field in Punjab. On the Indian end, another athlete of her own merit chances upon this thrown contraband while she works as a farmer. The state of non-cricket playing athletes bares stark similarities on both sides of the Line of Control.

A heavily-tattooed pop star glorifies the use of substances, like his western and other global counterparts have done for decades now. He doesn’t have a damaged past that forced him into drug abuse, heck, he had a glorious past. But the life expectancy of all that early glory makes him obsessed with his own cock, figuratively and literally.

A young kid, from a presumably healthy household, starts using just because the drug is too accessible and all his friends are doing it. Another addict is turned into one by brute force and sheer fatality.

A junior police inspector questions his senior if they are also going to turn into powerless bystanders to the Mexican drug mafia like contagion of the Punjabi drug nexus, to which the latter throws open a public display of authority by faking to seize a large consignment of the popular poison, and let’s the carrier of the said consignment get away after grabbing more money and lashing out a few slaps.

These are the central characters of Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab. Kareena Kapoor’s public helping Dr. Preet Sahni is a collateral to the thoroughly set-in system. There is hardly any glorification, or a positive sentiment attached to the depiction of drug consumption here, and that should give away the intent of the makers. The film keeps bouncing between a dark comedy and grim introspections of the central characters.

The protagonists lead their separate lives, constantly a part of the narcotic environment, where the number of enablers is shockingly high. A political under current runs along the narrative of the film, which isn’t set as the central plot of the film, and it isn’t even treated so. The film doesn’t even finish with a grand exposé to unmask the bad guys disguised as ghosts at the hands of Scooby Doo, or Jackie Chan.

In one slightly contrived romantic moment, Dr Sahni says to Sub Inspector Sartaj (Diljit Dosanjh), there are two wars against drugs going on. The first one is the obvious one, and the second one is the one that people around us are constantly fighting. The urge to have that another hit of their choice of drug. She helps young kids and adults get out of the circle at her rehab center.

Udta Punjab, the film concentrates more on its characters to tell a story of a larger problem. Therefore it focuses more on their individual journeys and how they fall in and out of cocaine/heroin. Amit Trivedi’s powerful music is always mixed with story progression, thereby cutting off some of the most memorable work that he’s done in recent times. Da Da Dasse, Chitta Ve, Has Nach Le and Ikk Kudi are given some footage, whereas Ud Da Punjab and Vadeeya hardly get to be heard.

Chaubey and Sudip Sharma have woven Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poetry masterfully with a track in the film. Shahid Kapoor as the erratic, and eccentric Tommy Singh, the Gabru MAN, is an eclectic mix of lunacy, and joy. He is the comic relief, and the emotional conditioner, with his one sequence with his uncle just before the halfway mark. The limp in his walk, the slow motion mic throw at one of his audience members, the trembling of his fingers with a gun in his hand, Kapoor owns his character completely.

While Kapoor is supported by Satish Kaushik and Suhail Nayyar in his performance, Diljit shows an earnest spirit with his Sartaj. Even he is supported by a pleasantly vanilla real world snow-white princess like Kareena Kapoor and Manav Vij as the vindictive senior police officer. Alia Bhatt on the other hand, has a deglamorized appearance as compared to the rest of the cast, and perhaps the most complex part of them all. Entrusted with the most heartbreaking character arc, and a particularly very disturbing sequence, Alia pulls off the Bihari accent with a twang and grounds Tommy’s hedonistic ego in the only scene that they share.

Sure, there are kinks with the slightly overlong political angle, but Udta Punjab is so relentless that there are moments where you would want to laugh like a hyena, and yet can’t get yourself to do it because the said moment is very painful at the same time. To inspire humor and sadness, and empathy in the same breath is the greatest achievement of this film.

Screw the censor board.

My rating: ***1/2 (3 & 1/2 out of 5)

Brothers

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Brothers
Release date: August 14, 2015
Directed by: Karan Malhotra
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Jackie Shroff, Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Shefali Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ashutosh Rana, Kiran Kumar

Amongst the innumerable remakes that spring up in Hindi cinema every year, I can’t hold the remake against the original as a huge chunk of these films are unknown entities for me. I happen to be acquainted well with the film that Brothers is adapted from, i.e. Warriors. The 2011 original was supremely grim, slightly contrived and largely dramatic and ruthless in its handling of  severed bonds and their consequences.

Karan Malhotra willingly waters down every ingredient of the film, to accommodate two excruciatingly grating and intolerably long flashbacks and one of them is, to put it politely, quite useless. David (Akshay Kumar) and Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) are, you guessed it right, brothers. According to the film’s technicalities, foster-brothers, but yeah. The wedge driven between them is drawn by their alcoholic father Gary (Jackie Shroff) who is a former “underground fighter”.

The sons take off individually in their father’s flight and grow up to be… “underground fighters”! David has a family and is therefore forced to lead a more secure lifestyle. His daughter has an ailment which is mentioned verbally thrice in the span of thirty minutes and is almost forgotten thereafter. The film overloads itself with stereotypes and works up a formula for the order of proceedings, and that is how it plays out; emotions before the interval, and all the fighting humdrum after.

To be fair, the original film didn’t boast of being very innovative in the first place, but Brothers just goes on to kill any blemish of innovation or experimentation which could have possibly existed. It bludgeons your intelligence with mediocre storytelling, awful commentating and it thrashes your ears with its jarring background score and the painfully unimaginative soundtrack. The extensive length of the flashbacks rule out adequate screen-time and thus any scope for showing any range for the actors.

Jackie Shroff gets to be around as the bumbling, incoherent drunk and he’s a perfect 8 (8 because the film has obviously lowered its own set of expectations). Jacqueline looks good and talks her own limited Hindi. Who could have thought this would have been an achievement for an actor in a Hindi film! Kumar and Malhotra look their parts and immerse themselves in the often technically unsound action sequences. Kareena Kapoor does a faux striptease.

The film’s climax, which was very emotionally touching to see in Warrior, stands overwrought here as there is no empathy for the two pieces of beef grappling on the screen. You’re asked to feel an ocean of grief and a few more things when they fail to earn any of it.

My rating: *1/2 (1.5 out of 5)

Gabbar is Back

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Gabbar is Back
Release date: May 1, 2015
Directed by: Krish
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Sunil Grover, Ishita Vyas, Suman Talwar, Jaideep Ahlawat

The opening credits start with shots of Gabbar/Aditya (Akshay Kumar) from the film alongside animated titles and a song called Warnaa Gabbar Aa Jaayega. The next ten minutes of the film go on about hovering around his beard, fingers, and other bodily features while he creates a list of “the ten most corrupt ‘Thasildars’ in Maharashtra”. Yes, they managed to spell Tehsildar incorrectly, and no one rectified it in a hundred post-production processes. The deliberated introduction is rather pointless, because the opening credits go over and beyond in introducing him.

The film is the Hindi remake of the Tamil film, Ramanaa, which makes it the third remake of the ‘original’. A. R. Murugadoss wrote the dialogues for the original and now he adapts the entire screenplay in this remake. None of the above two facts can compel you to watch this film though. A ham parade ensues right from the beginning where a lawyer (Shruti Haasan) spews “Google stats” all the time. If a lawyer like this were to ever get you bail, she would end up forcing the judge to imprison you forever.

Gabbar keeps targeting corrupt officials from different departments of the government and is also an athletic physics professor in a college where the students ham too. GabbarAditya has some unearthly abilities too, which are absolutely ludicrous and yet absolutely common, just like the remakes of South Indian films. The film’s most unintentionally funny running gag is where Sunil Grover as a police constable tries to make a suggestion to his bosses on how they can catch Gabbar, and all four of them shut him up in different ways.

I could see those four senior inspectors trying to shut everyone in this film up all day long.

I could just stay better off by trying to pretend they shut up too.

Audience-pandering scenes galore and boring action sequences that never gather the required steam and unoriginal and stoneage SMS forwards used as “witty one liners” further aggravate the proceedings. The Chitrangada Singh item number is gawdy to look at, but Chitrangada is not.  Did I tell you that the police officers ham too?

If Gabbar is Back were a sandwich, you’d die of a stale ham overdose.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Satyagraha

Satyagraha_Poster Satyagraha
Release date: August 30, 2013
Directed by: Prakash Jha
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Indraneil Sengupta, Ajay Devgn, Amrita Rao, Kareena Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal, Vipin Sharma, Vinay Apte

Satyagraha, Prakash Jha’s take on corruption and its deep roots in our administration, has a lot to offer. Star power, acting prowess and a country background to evoke sympathy for a topic that is consistently in the headlines are the things already working in its favor.

Manav Raghavendra (Ajay Devgn) is an ambitious youngster with a capitalistic mindset, who is ironically best friends with a socially benevolent bureaucrat in the making Akhilesh Anand (Indraneil Sengupta) whose father is an upright system-bashing retired school teacher Dwarka Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) Quoting cliches and going out on a limb against Manav’s existence, Dwarka drives him out of their home and poor Manav can’t even attend Akhilesh and Sumitra’s (Amrita Rao) wedding. Flash forward a few years down the line and both Akhilesh and Manav are in their desired positions.

Tragedy soon strikes and the Anand family faces the ignominy of paying up bribes for their deserved rights and payments. This is where the premise of an impending revolution is laid, as the promises made by the partisan leader Balram Singh (Manoj Bajpai) turn out to be void. In the absence of a second-in-command for the awakening, a small time baahubali Arjun (Arjun Rampal) and the returning tycoon Manav offer support. Incorporating the Satyendra Dubey case and the inception and the eventual falling out of the Jan Lokpal committee,

Satyagraha has less to offer on the shock factor, but the focus at how the decisions and the internal conflicts of the members of the committee develops an interesting story. The individual characters’ dilemmas show how possibly the actual Jan Lokpal could have possibly disintegrated. As much as all other of Jha’s recent films are laced with an antagonist with an underlying dumb sense of humor, Balram and his lackeys possess the same traits.

The screenplay is testing at times, the drama starts gripping you around the halfway mark. The best part about Satyagraha though is that all the characters have shades of gray, they commit mistakes and they realize (of course it’s the good guys I’m talking about) there is character growth and a graph which is clearly visible. And as for the actors, they put in great effort to play their parts right. But there’s a certain level of phony air surrounding the film which simply doesn’t let go till the end. Like Bachchan is emaciated right until the climax, but suddenly cuts a different figure at the end. The sound quality of the dialogue is suddenly very low. The extras appear clueless.

Consequently, Satyagraha is a good drama with some usual staple typecasting and unimaginative lines. Not the best film about the concerned topic, surely competitive.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

Bombay Talkies

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Bombay Talkies
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shubhangi Bhujbal, Naman Jain, Ranvir Shorey, Vineet Kumar, Sudhir Pandey

To type a personal paragraph(s) on what I love about films or not to type: that is the question.

Indian cinema, since its inception in 1913 has come a long way. Be it technically or professionally, whether it has made advancement in telling contemporary stories in a hard hitting fashion is not to be passed upon here. Bombay Talkies tries going in for the latter parameter and that is why you should love the film in its entirety for.

There are four directors with their own separate films, not all of them exactly revolving around cinema’s impact on us, but taking on different characters’ struggles and individual tales of varying emotions. The first one is Karan Johar’s film hedlining Rani, Randeep and the fresh Saqib from Mere Dad Ki Maruti. It starts off with a pumped up confrontational opening and his camera chasing Saqib.

With a style uncharacteristic to his, Johar maneuvers a telling tale of dysfunctional relationships and the society’s collective inability of accepting things as they are. He operates in a urban setting with the idealistic middle class mentality and equates it to the high classes’ apparent double standards. The actors save the plot from becoming clunky at times.

Dibakar Banerjee explores the chawls of Mumbai, where his protagonist (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has a pet emu named Anjali. Oh how I love his subtle comedy! Nawazuddin plays an uninspired actor and a failed businessman (sic) with limited means to support his family. It’s his apparent gumption and the inner battles that form this amusing feature.

Sadashiv Amrapukar comes out of his spiritual and literal dumpsters to give him a reality check, obviously laced with good lines. It’s the ending that simply transcends into another dimension of its own. It is divine, fulfilling and succulent. The detailing is so brilliant along with Nawaz’s simmering performance, you rejoice every moment of his swaggering presence.

Post interval, Zoya Akhtar follows up with her story of a small family whose patriarch wants his son to get ‘tough’ by making him attend football sessions in school by sacrificing the daughter’s allowance for a history trip. The boy is enamored by Katrina Kaif and wants to emulate her dance performances in his fantasyland.

The approach for establishing plot devices is a bit faulty and rushed at times, but what Akhtar captures beautifully is the sibling’s relationship. It’s a simple I-look-your-back-you-look-mine one, but it’s charming, delightful and uh, heartwarming! Kaif delivers a special message in a fairy outfit and that is an added incentive to the joyful end of this film.

Indians love their films and they worship their actors with reverence and treat them as an abstract family member. Kashyap’s film is just about that. A son carries a jar of Murabba for his father’s idol (Amitabh Bachchan) to Mumbai. The reasoning for this task is what crazy fan fictions are made up of. Vineet Kumar plays the Bachchan obsessed Sudhir Pandey’s son Vijay.

He makes his trip to Mumbai from Allahabad to realize there are just a two dozen strong other Vijays hanging outside Bachchan’s house, awaiting their chance to have a few moments with The Man. Again, the finish scene with Kumar’s return to his father is purely frolicky.

Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap work a dark and cheery screenplay respectively; not their customary styles, which could cause some disappointments or surprise among their loyal viewers who could be expecting something more of the usual. I count it as one of the film’s strengths and a welcome change.

Altogether, Bombay Talkies is a great tribute that doesn’t focus on being one. And that is why it turns out to be so good.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars) 

Dabangg 2

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Dabangg 2
Release date: December 21, 2012
Directed by: Arbaaz Khan
Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Raj, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod Khanna, Manoj Pahwa, Deepak Dobriyal

Before I start appraising/berating this movie, I’d just clarify that I am not going to waste any words and be all ‘straight to the action’ just like Bhai Salman or Salman Bhai.

Salman Khan’s character Chulbul Pandey is transferred from a small town to a comparatively larger town, and that’s what you expect from this sequel to Dabangg, to move to a higher level. But no. Director/actor Arbaaz Khan takes up the same mould as that of the first part and fills up the screen with almost repetitive gloss. There’s no room for the evolution of any of its characters, for example: Sonakshi’s still the same coy Indian bride, rather subsided, belittling everything that her “Thappad se darr nah lagta” line did in the prequel.

The plot is pretty much your standard 80’s ‘story’. Chulbul Pandey’s transfer to Kanpur ticks off the political bigwigs and goons alike, and a new ‘villain’ is born as Bachcha Thakur (Prakash Raj) and his brothers. One thing leads to another and just those two things happen and holy shit, you have the climax in front of you and you don’t even feel that major fight sequence brewing. There’s the shirt ripping too, but when you notice how desperately they’ve got to remove them, you’ll laugh. I laughed!

The only saving grace (?) could have been the lines and dialogue. But there’s not one memorable line that you’ll take along with you. So, a commercial entertainer without a thumping build towards the climax and all around short in most of the departments isn’t even a good ‘no-brainer fun flick’, right? Right!?

I know I am right. I leave this review the way I am leaving it so that you know how I felt when this film got over. INCOMPLETE. (Start singing this Backstreet Boys number, people)

P.S. Extra half star for the Fevicol item number.

My rating: *1/2 (1.5 out of 5)

Talaash

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Talaash
Release date: November 30, 2012
Directed by: Reema Kagti
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shernaz Patel, Raj Kumar Yadav

Chronicling the length and breadth of Mumbai on a usual evening in the city, colourful shots of twinkling lights and sea waves and ending the opening titles with a junkie smoking by the roadside who looks on as an actor’s car has a weird crash. This is how Talaash’s pace is set right at the start.

From there on, the talaash (search) for the reasons that caused a freakish mishap begins. As pieces of the impending mystery start piecing together, Inspector Surjan Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) realizes it wasn’t just a one-off accident. There are no obvious pointers to the regular drunken driving incidents as well. There are a lot of layers on the entire case. Surjan has a few personal and family issues too. As he publicly accepts, his wife Roshni (Rani Mukherji) is inflicted by a problem, he doesn’t quite figure out that it’s he who needs to ease up his knots.

As his interrogation leads him to further witnesses and more evidence, he’s acquainted with Rosy (Kareena Kapoor) who is a prostitute. Her character is so well-etched (never mind a few cliche lines) it brings the required mystique and adds another dimension to the characters she interacts with, including the drab and dreary Surjan. It’s these interactions that hold and release much of the pressure, but the same distracts from the actual search into the inner battles of our protagonists.

Talaash depends on a strong belief of the writers and the director, but the same beliefs could not go down well with many viewers who are looking for a hard-hitting totally realistic thriller. Sure, the imagery with beautiful shots prove that the camera work is impeccable. The persistent problem is of the path that the makers have chosen to demystify the story. After a point, you realize what’s happening and you don’t have to wait anymore to hang onto the edge of your seat.

The music is exemplified by the opening and haunting Muskaanein Jhoothi Hain, there are two more full fledged songs, out of which one looks like a square peg in the circle hole. But it’s not too painful. Rani and Aamir bring the poised demureness needed for their characters, while Kareena is simply indulging and enjoyable in all her moments with her seductive charm. The ensemble cast of Nawazuddin as a crippled shady guy Teimur , Raj Kumar Yadav as a junior to Inspector Surjan and Shernaz Patel as the creepy neighbour are all good.

Overall, Talaash is an attempt at classic suspense but a bit lost in the shuffle of letting every character attain closure and answers to their inherent questions. It borders on being a smart film and a thrown opportunity.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

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