Posts Tagged ‘ Rajesh Sharma ’

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story

m-s-dhoni-the-untold-story-poster

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story
Release date: September 30, 2016
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla, Rajesh Sharma, Kumud Mishra, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani

Growing up, I was quite the anti-establishment/contrarian kid. I opined that the world’s greatest batsman isn’t that. Triple H wasn’t boring in the early 2000s. Shah Rukh Khan isn’t the demigod that he is. One among a long list of such views was that Mahendra Singh Dhoni isn’t all that heroic. Especially, after assuming the captaincy of the Indian team. Sure, he was winning it all, but then he wouldn’t often put himself in the line of fire when the situations demanded. Rather, he would only promote himself up the batting order when things are safer; then came along April 2, 2011, the night of the World Cup Final, and all of my doubts were vanquished by him.

I grew up to realize that Tendulkar definitely is the greatest batsman, Triple H was indeed boring then, and Khan is a demigod. Dhoni played up the order, struck his helicopter shots and won us the cricket world cup, and along the way earned my prized lifelong fandom. M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story builds up to this lovely crescendo, thereby avoiding all mention of the few clouds of controversy that came to surround the franchise he plays for, and is “coincidentally” the vice-president of the team’s holding company, India Cements.

There isn’t much to his initial cricketing abilities, as he’s picked up for wicketkeeping due to his goalkeeping skills in the school’s football team. Post that, there isn’t much either, as he’s shown saying that he likes batting better, and one day, he wows the people around him with his genetically gifted (?) batting display. Without rhyme or reason, Dhoni (Sushant Singh Rajput) is soon, the best batsman that pre-Jharkhand Bihar has to offer. What’s missing in the technicalities, is made up for by in the way of shifting the focus to the people around him. Be it his hesitatingly supportive parents, the local sport merchandise seller’s belief in getting him sponsorship for a kit, or his friends who pool their savings and take turns to drive all night to help him reach a particular destination.

Dhoni finds supporters in his employers too, reminding one of an era gone by, where people actually cared for others’ aspirations, or even acting as just a gentle source of inspiration. The origins of the Captain Cool monicker attached to the man aren’t established, it’s just the way he is. Sushant Singh Rajput, though, pulls it off excellently, only as he can. His struggles are easy to empathize with, earnest in will, and purely inspiring. Much like Dhoni himself, the state and national hero.

The post intermission half depicts the ascension of the man, and changes in haircut and him filming endorsements at usual intervals. Then, the part of the “The Untold Story” comes in to play, where Priyanka (Disha Patni) comes across a fairly new, yet popular, to the scene MS Dhoni on a certain flight and asks him to get her an autograph from another player. He falls for the whole, “Oh, she doesn’t know me. This is so fresh.” profile, and then there is another romance in quick succession, when he again, to no one’s surprise, falls for another girl who doesn’t recognize him. Women come in only as romantic interests, and their relationships aren’t even different from each other. The other women besides them, Dhoni’s sister (Bhumika Chawla) and a coach’s wife exist only to serve tea, and act as cheer leaders respectively.

With only a single mention of the IPL, and the names of senior players muted in a team meeting, the film hardly scratches below the surface of the news reports that we may have come to read in the past. Some of the real Dhoni’s personal traits, like his wit, his curt replies to media queries, are very well reflected in the reel Dhoni. The film humanizes the most successful Indian cricket captain to a fair extent, when he introspects the state of his life and his railway job, disappointment at missing out a crucial flight, and the loss of a loved one. What the film fails to shed light on, and disappointingly, are his leadership qualities, his instinctive decisions that he has gone to make on the field, and even his dynamics with any of the other cricket team members.

Every time he is in the dressing room, or the hotel, he is always alone. It’s difficult to comprehend if it’s a deliberate attempt to show him as a lone wolf, or just plain cinematic liberties being exercised.

A heavily talented ensemble cast lends much credence to even small parts, right from a school coach, to his co-employees in the railways. Dhoni, the man, epitomizes a lower to middle class family’s character, a small town youth’s growth to a national hero, and a temperament that perfectly spells out a vanilla good boy, with an undying resolve; and these are the only parts Neeraj Pandey seems to concern himself with.

Hardly bold or risque, unlike M.S. Dhoni’s cricketing persona, the film is a good compilation of the greatest hits of the man’s life, until it comes undone towards the end of the second act of the film. Sushant Singh Rajput and the rest of the cast, rise above the decisions of the makers, quite similar to how Mahi, and his teams did, over the years, in spite of the political mess the cricket control boards found themselves in.

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

Shuddh Desi Romance

Shuddh_Desi_Romance_poster
Shuddh Desi Romance
Release date: September 6, 2013
Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma, Tarun Vyas

Romantic liaisons are as much a part of the Indian youth’s ordinary lives as much as the internet or mobile phones. Or the lack of public bathrooms all over India. Hey mom & dad, no, I’m not a part of that youth. Also, this same public denial of being in a relationship with someone, is rooted to a conscious mentality which makes us look down upon couples just holding hands or even sitting next to each other.

And there are few, who aren’t shy of the stares and glares, they are just scared of being restricted to just one person for the rest of their lives; or the ones who don’t deem the wedlock to be the be all and end all. You could fit into in any of the above categories, I know I do. To go slightly overboard, the same Indian women who dote on Barney Stinson/Charlie Harper’s flirtatious television persona, have very contradicting double standards in actuality.

Shuddh Desi Romance puts some of the above apprehensions in a tier-2 city (Jaipur) setting with its characters desperately trying to break out of their cultural and traditional limits. Raghuram (Sushant Singh Rajput) is running away from a lot of things: his name, his relationship status, and a fixed job. Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) is independent, speaks out her mind and has trust issues. Tara (Vaani Kapoor) has compromised on her ambitions to get “settled” into a familial discourse.

The three protagonists here depict common dilemmas faced by a major chunk of youngsters all over. It is the same emphasis on the title characters more than the plot that creates interesting dynamics in the otherwise overused love triangle format. Both Raghuram and Gayatri work with Goyal (Rishi Kapoor) and pose as guests at lavish weddings. Thus focusing on the inherent hollowness of grand Indian weddings.

As the emotional conflicts are takeoffs from our ordinary circumstances and so are the lines, Gayatri’s simple “Kya hai?”, Raghuram’s flirtatious “I don’t mind.” and Tara’s relieving “Ek thanda dena” prove to be gems in a situational context. The three have their own defense mechanisms, their own comfort zones and their own vulnerabilities.

SDR doesn’t thrive on being preachy in its conclusion, unlike its promotional posters. Perhaps the film lags in the second half in comparison to the first, but the charm and wit never runs out. Even when an incident of unfaithfulness is encountered, they simply talk it out in a closed room.

There aren’t much stock roles, and that works to the strength of the film. Chopra stands out amongst the lot in her performance, her composure, her grit are both captivating. Rajput is disarming and yet naive at the right moments. The two Kapoors (Not biologically or lawfully related to each other. Yet.) are good foils to the dominating presence of Rajput and Chopra.

More importantly, will Shuddh Desi Romance, with all its favoritism towards live-in relationships, cast a spell on your commitment-obsessed girlfriend or your parents who are insisting you to get married? It may. Or it may not. And that is the whole point here, the makers gradually shift the spotlight from the characters to a basic storyline at the end. It becomes about how two like-minded commitment phobics can mutually coexist.

For me, SDR is an extremely likeable film with a balance of realism and introspection. Extra points for the fresh music score.

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

B.A. Pass

ba_pass_poster
B.A. Pass
Release date: August 2, 2013
Directed by: Ajay Bahl
Cast: Shadab Kamal, Shilpa Shukla, Geeta Aggarwal Sharma, Vijay Kaushik, Anula Navlekar, Raveena Singh, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajesh Sharma, Happy Ranjit, Deepti Naval

In the setting of urban Delhi, a much known topic of repressed women sexuality and its coming to the fore is cultivated with a haunting feel in the bylanes of a railway colony. B.A. Pass presents the story of a boy who feels cheated by the world around him.

Inspired by Mohan Sikka’s “The Railway Aunty”, director and cinematographer Ajay Bahl’s film has young Mukesh (Shadab Kamal) as the grieving orphan who has two younger siblings to look after. He finds himself relocated to Delhi, fighting poverty, jostling to sustain himself and eventually gets his sisters to live with him. Through a midsummer’s ladies soiree, he’s introduced to Sarika (Shilpa Shukla) the desirable wife of highly placed Railway official, Khanna (Rajesh Sharma)

Mukesh tries to stand on his own feet by getting pamphlets printed endorsing himself as a home-to-home private tutor. Sarika gives him his rites of passage to a sense of authority and financial independence. Hesitatingly, he finds himself in a huddle of middle-aged customers asking for his services to be fine tuned and customized as per their whims and fancies. Life in the shadiest strata isn’t smooth and soon starts getting difficult for our protagonist too.

Heavily lit by hues of neon and lavishly laid out middle-class spaces, Bahl constantly maintains a compelling frame throughout the film. As Dibyendu Bhattacharya’s character describes the city of Delhi as deceptive and heartless, this holds true right till the end. Armed with powerful performers like him and Sharma, the focus doesn’t entirely lie on Shukla and Kamal.  The support cast has individual characters with their own depth and makes it easier to move away from the sex scenes.

The dialogue is restrictive and the few light moments are awkwardly phased out, making them appear forced for viewer gratification. Kamal and Shukla are particularly restrained, perhaps especially instructed to do so in order to refrain from appearing as raunchy or sleazy. Nonetheless, Shukla’s sensuality oozes right from the start only for her character to remain insidious.

The subtle undertones leave you searching for some heavy drama, and the second half serves exactly that with Mukesh’s breakdown and sparring confrontations. The climax may be predictable, but leaves you with a gloomy sense of how the outcasted sections of our society cannot even find solace in law and order amenities and how the moral compromises of the more accepted sections bear life-altering consequences on the less privileged.

B.A. Pass will make you gulp down a lump of vacuum, even if in an underwhelming manner, it makes a lot of right moves in untouched territories.

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

Ghanchakkar

ghanchakkar_poster
Ghanchakkar
Release date: June 28, 2013
Directed by: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi, Rajesh Sharma, Namit Das, Parveen Dabbas

Raj Kumar Gupta’s take at comedy, i.e. Ghanchakkar is a murky tale of  a bunch of equally eccentric characters placed in an odd setting together.

Sanju (Emraan Hashmi) is a whiz safe-cracker who is stealth even in his personal life. His wife is the massively fashion-obsessed, heavily Punjabi Neetu (Vidya Balan) always experimenting with her cooking and wigs alike. A sudden call from Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) shakes Sanju’s daily activities out of a self-imposed ban on doing any more robberies.

Idris (Namit Das) is Pandit’s shady accomplice. Armed with a gun, he likes to bully people while the two hold ‘business meetings’ in Mumbai’s local trains during the night. Their introduction is creepy and unfunny. The lines aim for some comic peaks, eventually falling into the valleys. The motive seems unclear here, or perhaps I was fooled.

After their robbery plans go right, there’s a glitch: Sanju has stashed the mega-millions somewhere and due to an accident is suffering from a partial memory loss problem. This memory loss leads to the actual major conflict of the film, ranging from him forgetting his former accomplices to suspecting his closest ones of fleeing away with the money. The said patch leads to interesting situations and laughter fits in bits and pieces.

Vidya Balan carries off her part with expected integrity and power, even Hashmi has the befuddled look throughout perfectly. Rajesh Sharma and Namit Das carefully evolve from the ghoulish beings to parallely stuck pawns in a larger game. The cast may be limited but never falls short of delivering. Setu’s cinematography of a space-crunched Mumbai is shockingly expansive and preys on dark themes. Shockingly, Amit Trivedi’s soundtrack compositions are limited and his dubstep background score is covered more.

The film’s inherent spirit keeps fluctuating from amusing to plain flat, and plain flat to whimsical. You expect it to carry on the same track but it doesn’t. There’s simply not much physical searching for the money, and there’s more of let-me-recall-what-happened-three-months-back-by-sitting-on-my-hands. It makes you want the film to end early, and with the predictable approach that the makers choose to unveil the big bombshells you are outright unimpressed and disappointed.

Blood and gore are used in moderation, and with the silenced cuss words, it appears as if the producers wanted to play safe. Ironically the self-censoring isn’t detrimental to the plot’s success. I will be lying if I don’t admit breaking into an anxiety attack induced by laughing at the phone-sex sequence, but that’s one of the three main highlights along with the individual performances and the cinematography. The writing tries very hard to transcend through the next level, only to stay in mediocrity.

Ghanchakkar aims for greener avenues and ends up straying into dry lands. The flaws aren’t as grave, yet they end up one-upping the innate wit and smartly placed pop references.

My rating: **1/2 (2 and a half out of 5)

Special 26

special-26-poster
Special 26
Release date: February 8, 2013
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam,  Kajal Aggarwal, Divya Dutta

A quartet of conmen who conduct heists while pretending to be government officers are the gutsy fantastic four of Neeraj Pandey’s reality inspired suspense-thriller. Though embellished with a few quite passable songs, the film runs for a long time without feeling slow and boring.

As each character is introduced at the start, Ajay (Akshay Kumar), P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher), Iqbal (Kishore Kadam), Joginder (Rajesh Sharma) present themselves as no-nonsense CBI officials on a mission to raid a minister’s house. They’re accompanied by Inspector Ranvir Singh (Jimmy Shergill) and Shanti (Divya Dutta) with a small troop of constables. Soon the raids increase and the victims refuse to report these instances. Ranvir Singh & Shanti face the brunt and are suspended from duty.

Actual CBI officer Waseem Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) is a straight-faced man who doesn’t like her wife’s cleavage showing. Hey, that’s in the actual plot! He’s contacted by Singh after he starts his private investigation against the gang’s various outings across India. Soon, two teams are set up and the fight to the finish ensues. The fake CBI are now up for a ‘final’ raid with a mega scale and that’s where the Special 26 is established.

The plot isn’t too thrilling itself, but it depicts the finer traits in a subtle but detailed manner. For example, the scene where the group lands to loot a place that is already being raided by authentic officials. This shows the over-confidence and charming capabilities of Ajay, but at the same time shows that they go in unprepared to steal millions. The latter detail, probably undesired, shows pivotal flaws in the narrative.

The writing isn’t too great, with another basic flaw at the end, and without any fresh or impactful lines. But all of these shortcomings are compensated by the many individual characters and performances. Akshay Kumar’s character is the flashy one, and disappointingly we don’t get to see much from his acting side, though the rest have been given meatier roles. Kher, Shergill along with Sharma and Kadam are subtle and particularly suiting.

Whereas Kajal Aggarwal who plays Ajay’s love interest doesn’t have much to do. The same goes for Divya Dutta’s character, she’s almost reduced to a caricature. Bobby Singh’s cinematography is pleasing, yet mundane at certain moments. There are filler music videos which don’t serve much purpose except for providing a breather to the much relaxed narrative; thereby becoming pointless and not required.

All in all, the film isn’t too high on adrenaline nor filled with any jump-out-of-the-seat points but yet manages to remain pact and entertaining. Special 26 isn’t a classic, though it’s fairly good at what it aims to do and is entertaining.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5) 

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana


Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana
Release date: November 2, 2012
Directed by: Sameer Sharma
Cast: Kunal Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Rajesh Sharma, Vinod Nagpal, Rahul Bagga, Dolly Ahluwalia, Munish Makhija.

Chicken, fun flowing cinema, a man who doesn’t wear underwear, Amit Trivedi doing Punjabi music – what else do you need to instantly like this film? Ah, never mind. I’ll write out the reasons more extensively, because hey, review blog!

The story starts in London where Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor) is “livin’ it up” and is ironically a lot of money DOWN in loans to Shenti bhai (Munish Makhija) He’s given a limited period to repay him back and this makes Omi land back to his family home in Punjab, India. He’s greeted with changes and a new servant with a cool heavy name. His doting grandfather Darji (Vinod Nagpal) is now demented and doesn’t remember anything much, except for his dhaaba, Chicken Khurana.

Chicken Khurana is also the name of this joint’s most famous presentation, with a secret ingredient that only the old man knew and now is suppressed inside his retired mind. Omi’s aunt accepts him with love and treats him as he never did any wrong while stealing money from their own house and running away to London. His cousin Jeet (Rahul Bagga) is about to be married to Harman (Huma Qureshi) and there are buried emotions between her and Omi which leads to awkward or odd encounters.

And there’s Titu Mama (Rajesh Sharma) who claims to be mentally retarded at his sister’s life. He doesn’t like to wear underwear – boxers/trunks/ANYTHING! He eats, pees and lives the life of a hero. Or let’s just say, my hero. Days pass on and the noose tightens around Omi’s neck and he’s desperate to find a way out of his debt situation. After scrounging for a few days, he finally gets a light of hope when he’s offered one crore rupees (Rs. 1,00,00,000) for his grandfather’s secret recipe by their age-old rival Kehar Singh (Vipin Sharma).

Kunal Kapoor plays the part of a somewhat-wannabe-UK-return-Punjabi finely except for his stiff voice in volatile sequences. Huma Qureshi (gasp) looks as good as she did in Gangs of Wasseypur and depicts the transition of a pissed off doctor to a helping cook gracefully. The ensemble cast is as good, with the plot not being irrationally complicated the straightforward story moves on with no big glitches except for a few certain long conversations that could possibly give away the grip on your attention.

LSTCK isn’t just a comedy, it connects with you in its limited emotional sequences so much that you might even shed a precipitated liquid from your eye. The film is fun, unpretentious and does what it aims to do: entertain you. Anyone else saying otherwise is probably a douchebag that I won’t like for the rest of my life.

So, chicken, cinema, Titu Mama and Amit Trivedi should make you go watch this light and connective film.

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

%d bloggers like this: