Posts Tagged ‘ Radhika Apte ’

Manjhi – The Mountain Man

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Manjhi – The Mountain Man
Release date: August 21, 2015
Directed by: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Ashraf-Ul-Haque, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi, Gaurav Dwivedi, Prashant Narayanan

If you belong to the internet generation, which came across Dashrath Manjhi through a shared ‘viral’ post, you’ve seen him through the one dimensional spectrum of greatness that is alluded to him. And if you’ve managed to stay unaware of him, he, almost singlehandedly, broke a mountain in Bihar. The why, and the how of this fact makes up the entire film.

Again, it was a ‘viral’ post that put this man back into popular discourse, and each of these posts are manufactured for certain motives, and Manjhi – The Mountain Man reeks of a similar vibe as well. Right from the initial few minutes, where a voiceover explains things to you, and until the introduction of the adult Dashrath Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and he’s made to look like a complete jock. Sure, it was done to make him appear “entertaining”, but it doesn’t feel organic. It’s almost uncomfortable to look at.

On his first day back in his village, he chances upon Phaguniya (Radhika Apte) selling handmade toys by the bus stand. Here starts the shaky romantic angle and more hokey attempts at meshing shallow humor. The love story is quite believable and has some flesh in it, but the gag-like moments in the first half appear to be mere tools for making the film just commercially viable.

The film starts earning its ticket money when it gets serious. The serious “parts” keep showing up in between as the film paces in non-linear fashion. The parallel tracks make things confusing as at one point the film seems to be telling you three separate stories about the same person, simultaneously. Sandesh Shandilya’s background score and music is cussword-ing awful. Instead of adding to the moments on screen, it subtracts legitimacy with its unimaginatively titled Phaguniya sounding off every time Dashrath thinks of her. The generic sounds would have passed off in a student short film, not here.

The drama is powerful and even smart in spurts, one such scene is when the country’s then prime minister comes visiting to Manjhi’s hamlet. The whole sequence doesn’t overstay its welcome and is satirical in a subtle way. His struggle to survive, after facing abandonment on multiple fronts, in the mountains in extreme conditions is very well depicted. The earlier back and forth between the parallel tracks makes the film’s tone difficult to grasp. Once it leaves that approach and simply focuses on Dashrath’s journey, it starts to become compelling to watch.

Siddiqui is wasted in pulling off antics similar to the ones that he’s excelled in Gangs of Wasseypur and The Lunchbox. I’ll say the same thing again, he finds new strengths when he does things that he hasn’t done before; when he shreds the persona of being a goof. That, precisely, is the issue with the entire film. It tries to be many things that it shouldn’t have bothered to be. It casts Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi as the classic antagonists, to add more subtext to the plot, and to perhaps offer opportunities to build character actions and choices.

Manjhi – The Mountain Man isn’t as daunting and taxing to watch as breaking a hill, but it’s surely less effective as a film than what it could have been.

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

Hunterrr

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Hunterrr
Release date: March 20, 2015
Directed by: Harshvardhan Kulkarni
Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Radhika Apte, Sai Tamhankar, Sagar Deshmukh, Veera Saxena

I never wrote about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood last year. One reason for that was I didn’t watch it firsthand in a theater. Uh, that is the only reason. Boyhood was a great experience in the natural evolution of a character and  spontaneous development of the story. Though, a common grouse raised against it was the lack of a coherent ‘plot’. I couldn’t relate my ‘boyhood’ with the film’s because I am not a white male born and brought up in the US. Hunterrr is my relatable Boyhood.

The film opens with his friends chiding him for being a constant sexual predator always on the hunt, to which Mandar (Gulshan Devaiah) responds that sex is a basic human need, just like defecation. He presents sensible and hilarious points in favor of his argument. This is six months prior to the current day, when he has voluntarily forcibly quit his promiscuous ways and has given in to the pressures of having reached a certain age in a middle-class Indian household, i.e. arranged marriage.

He starts seeing women, often making them recoil and cringe in disbelief when he comes clean about his “some” casual encounters during college. He’s told by his cousin Dilip (Sagar Deshmukh) that it’s a process where he’s required to do the opposite, because “Arranged marriages are virgin-folk’s playground.” He pulls a pretense of being a dating-rookie in front of Tripti (Radhika Apte) who tries to be truthful about her troubled past, but Mandar says it doesn’t matter. He knows it doesn’t matter, because he isn’t telling the truth about his own escapades. Soon that reluctance turns into fear, of losing Tripti. Yet, he struggles with the idea of monogamy and keeps shielding himself from the reality.

Along with the current day, there are flashes from his teenage years, how he spent his summers with his cousins in the village. How he stained his sheets for the first time, and how he got his head shaved by the cops. How he got kicked out of his college hostel, and why he left his new apartment. All of these events have an underlying element of sex and humor to them. Some are innocuously hilarious, and some heartbreaking, none of them crass.  The fact that the acts of adolescence transcend into recurring instances of betrayal and dishonesty for him, prove to be Mandar’s undoing.

Hunterrr is written and directed by Harshvardhan Kulkarni, who’d previously written last year’s Hasee Toh Phasee. He creates zany characters out of his surroundings here as he did in HTP as well. Mandar’s shirt-ripping friend, or be it the one who falls in love with a bar-dancer or even his mother’s flawed pronunciation of certain English words or his father’s grumpiness about everything; they’re all fleshed out to infuse life and wit to a story which could have turned out very different than what it has, if it weren’t for them.

This isn’t a film about a heterosexual man’s sexual emancipation, heck Mandar isn’t even portrayed as a player, or a sex-addict who has to jam his tool into every crevice and nook he spots. He does whatever other teenage boys do: he lusts for an older woman (Sai Tamhankar) more than his own girlfriend (Veera Saxena), he boasts of his adventures to be put on a pedestal by his classmates, he tries to be an ass to one of his exes when he discovers she’s moved on. He isn’t a creature of magnanimous importance, he’s just a lurker and shockingly confident at times. Or maybe that’s his ‘thirst’ that gives him the audacity to approach women, which he lacks in a different setting.

His character lacks a sexual growth which was required as he says he’s a ‘hundred not out’ at the crease of intercourse. Obviously, it would have made it even harder to get a censor certificate, but it’s the constant need of keeping the film “as clean as possible” which dilutes the content on the screen. The film relies on Khamosh Shah’s strong soundtrack to convey what it possibly can’t in grim or candid scenes, and the constant back and forth of the timeline of events is at times distracting and even unnecessary. The music is amazing and the non-linear sequence is fun, but not when it’s excessively exploited. The film resorts to some traditional contrivances and cliches to get out of certain situations, which increases the running length, yet displays the ease at which Kulkarni operates at the helm.

Like every other good film of this year so far, the casting and the performances of everyone from the main leads to the bit players simply prove to be great catalysts. Gulshan Devaiah gets to show off a varied range from his repertoire of emotions. He’s sweet and then he’s slightly deplorable. Radhika Apte turns in a natural showing of whatever she’s asked of. She isn’t hypocritical of other’s life-choices, and she’s a chick who teaches Mandar how to check out women discreetly (sad). Sai Tamhankar as the older Jyotsna is supremely imposing yet her character remains shallow in writing. They infuse more than what’s written for them. The kids playing the younger versions of the characters are as good as the adults.

Hunterrr is the perfect illustration of how a young vaasu might grow up with his imbecile infatuations intact. We’ve all heard and talked about men who are like Mandar, we just don’t care about how they end up. It isn’t how every man is, it’s how most of us fantasize of being. Not the most pleasantly relatable Indian Boyhood perhaps, after all.

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

Badlapur

Badlapur Poster

Badlapur
Release date: February 20, 2015
Directed by: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Yami Gautam, Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vinay Pathak, Huma Qureshi, Pratima Kazmi, Radhika Apte, Ashwini Kalsekar, Murli Sharma, Divya Dutta

In a war, there are excesses. In the modern world, these war crimes amount to conviction and greater ignominy. Badlapur harbors on being a metaphoric representation of that. Two forces of Raghu (Varun Dhawan) and Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) against each other, the initially wronged force goes to extents that go far beyond the narrative of a hero’s struggle (revenge here)

Raghu’s wife and kid are victims of a bank robbery outrun involving Liak and his partner. Liak is caught and jailed, Raghu is caught in the web of his misery and jails himself in faraway Badlapur until he exacts revenge. Liak is unrepentant, and unwilling to give up his charade even in prison. Raghu plots and schemes his vendetta methodically by tracing everyone who is beloved to Liak.

Right from the beginning, there are no shades of white and black attached to the supposed protagonist and antagonist; the deeds of the protagonist border on misogynistic and outright psychotic, and even the antagonist might claim that even he wouldn’t go so far.Kanchan (Radhika Apte) and Jhimli (Huma Qureshi) are women who defend their men for any crime they may or may not have done. Raghu viciously uses their vulnerability to inflict pain and humiliation on the men they love.

The cause behind the revenge is sympathetic, yet the revenge itself isn’t as sympathetic. All of this imbalance in a conventionally stacked universe is what makes Badlapur greater than it actually is. Extensively shot in rainy conditions, the mood is rightly kept grim and so is the look on Raghu’s face. All of the ensemble cast, which is lined up to relay good performances, have quirks and traits that flesh their individual characters with broad strokes.

Varun Dhawan is being lauded for “making a brave choice” by playing Raghu, rather it should be the other way round. His portrayal of Raghu lends credibility to his  so-far-one-dimensional acting profile. Nawazuddin Siddiqui cannot be ever praised enough for his performances, and I am not even going to try to read out his strenghts as Liak. As neither Dhawan’s part is a complete pity-case, nor is Siddiqui’s Liak an entirely unlikable bad guy.

Sachin-Jigar’s background score sets the mood perfectly well for the ghastly acts of violence and/or the relatively new (for mainstream Hindi films at least) moments of hate-sex. The violence on display in this quite literal revenge porn is scarce and powerful, owing to its intricately shot techniques. Director Sriram Raghavan extracts long continuous takes in confined spaces such as a basement, a bathroom and an open street, thus rendering a chaotic feel to the order of events.

Badlapur also traverses a time period of almost twenty years in its runtime, and yet doesn’t resort to cliched flashbacks to the start of the story or any other overused instruments of raking mystery. Raghavan smartly touches upon incidences of solitary confinement for Liak in prison and yet doesn’t delve indulgently. He knows that this is the age of understating, and throwing melodrama out of the window, and he executes it darn well.

In all its glory, Badlapur is adamant on hammering the point by ‘telling’ and not ‘showing’–breaking a basic rule of filmmaking. Though, this isn’t the only rule it breaks here. Only this one seems slightly unpleasant at the end with a character verbally spelling out what the climax means.

This here, is a very fun filled revenge story, except the definition of fun is slightly different.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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