Posts Tagged ‘ Ranveer Singh ’

Befikre

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Befikre
Release date: December 9, 2016
Directed by: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Akarsh Khurana, Ayesha Raza, Armaan Ralhan

Yashraj’s common tropes of using a European destination for chastising the underlying, now sexual, then romantic, experiments of the Indian protagonists; invoking elaborately choreographed dance-offs to ease out tensions in love stories, or making the lovers acknowledge their actual sentiments for each other; and clinging on to straws of traditionalism, while reaching out to the new, morally and culturally progressive; they all find a place in Befikre. In the middle of these cliff notes, there is some humor, much anguish, and an underhanded indie rom-com like “carefree” approach to deliver a film without a hokey antagonist.

The film opens with the much-talked Labon Ka Kaarobaar where innumerable hetero couples kiss, there’s diversity in the kissers’ colors, shapes, and sizes, but not in sexual orientations. Every thing is picture-perfect straight, and then Dharam (Ranveer Singh) lands in Paris, and his flatmates are two very attractive gay women. Dharam being the virile, sex-crazed lad, vividly imagines himself in a threesome with them, winking at the viewers and himself. Could this point to a desi-retelling of a forgotten American Pie sequel, or perhaps something more real that actually turns out an intriguing character study? Sadly, neither.

He gets out to ‘party’ on his first day itself. Even with his well-formed biceps, tailored denims that grip his butt perfectly, and a healthy hairline, he faces rejection. This scene was empowering to watch in particular. More like a soothing Aditya Chopra petting our heads in wistful consolation. Springs in Shyra (Vaani Kapoor), the local, who knows the bars and the city in-and-out. They hook-up over a “dare”, a plot device that’s conveniently brought up again and again to help the protagonists in making bad decisions and some memories for their characters.

Gradually, they decide to live-in together, and mutually pledge that they won’t become the conservative husband and wife, nor do things that conventional lovers do. It is this oath that keeps resurfacing whenever they are consumed with the thought of confronting their feelings for the other. It’s frustrating to watch them see past versions of their younger selves, popping up with a song and dance in French, and yet, commendable, at the commitment to the tomfoolery and the showmanship. If this film had fifteen more minutes of ditty-dancing, it’d qualify as a full-blown musical.

For the lack of any real friends, Dharam and Shyra confide in his professional, cough boring cough, comedy routine and her aloo paraanthe. There’s the usual aggrandizement of grandeur in the way of beach vacations, holiday sea cruises, cosmetic perfection, except for the little black bush of hair in Ranveer Singh’s armpits, leaving hardly any scope for any frame to appear slightly sad, or even melancholic. But can we really blame them for this plastic manufacturing?

Aditya Chopra serves us what he thinks we would like to dish up, at the fag end of the year, in the throes of soft kisses and extremely mellifluous music, a film that is not particularly hollow, just like the millennials that are his target audience and the film’s primary characters. If it weren’t for their superhuman dancing finesse, the baffling excesses, and that mess of a Priyadarshan film-like climax sequence, Befikre could have passed off as a decently watchable experience. A balance that Imtiaz Ali has mastered, Aditya Chopra flounders with this time around.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Bajirao Mastani

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Bajirao Mastani
Release date: December 18, 2015
Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Milind Soman, Aditya Pancholi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi, Deepika Padukone, Vaibbhav Tatwawdi

Newspaper gossip columns and bytes from the “entertainment” industry have a way of finding ways into our lives, how much ever we may resist their passive charms. There have been colored headlines talking about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ambitions of making a magnum opus on the relationship between Bajirao Ballal Bhat and his wives Kashi Bai and Mastani. After publicly confessing of giving up on this project, Bhansali creates, right from his first scene of the film, a masterful universe from the eighteenth century.

The opening sequence is an open court where the appointment of a new Peshwa is in order. The Chhatrapati (Mahesh Manjrekar) indulges his political adviser (Aditya Pancholi) and his war-chief (Milind Soman) over their debate of who should be elected. Without song and dance, and armed with only a thumping and catchy background score and his sword, emerges Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) with a freshly buzzed head and a mouth full of memorable lines. His instant wit, will and skill seal the deal for him, and the decision is accepted with a warm ovation. Mr. Bhansali takes a detour from his usual ways and gets his film running at a good pace right from the start.

Bajirao leads his battalion to a smart victory in his first battle, proving his mettle to one and all. While he carried on with his conquers, his younger brother Chimaji Appa (Vaibbhav Tatwawadi) creates a new rambunctious home to complement Bajirao’s laurels. The home and the Aainaa Mahal are marvels of wonder, almost worth the price of the ticket just by themselves. Kashi (Priyanka Chopra) garnishes and adorns it with her conceding love and admiration for her husband. The two of them have a delicately playful and intimate relationship which is faced by the attractions of Mastani (Deepika Padukone), the love child of a Rajput King and his Muslim wife.

Mastani is the princess of Bundelkhand, out to seek the help of the brave Maratha warrior to fend off the claws of the Mughals. She can fight, and do Kathak, and elude swords with swords of her own. Her introduction to the dynamic brings the conflict along with it. A Muslim second wife cannot be accepted in a kingdom based on establishing a Hindu state. The Brahmins of Pune and Bajirao’s mother (Tanvi Azmi) along with Chimaji stand together in opposition of his union with Mastani. The entire drama between the wives, Kashi and Mastani, is handled with grace and tact.

Wars are shot in magnanimous scale, moments of passion between Bajirao and Kashi with warm diffusion, yet there’s an old school approach of keeping the second wife Mastani physically disconnected with her lover and just an amount of “obsessive” platonic love between them. Perhaps, to stay safe from more allegations and stupid “my sentiments are hurt” litigation suits against the film. If you’re denied of watching this film by the way of a protest against the film, then it’s just your bad luck.

Yes, there are cinematic liberties and a fair disclaimer before the film begins. There’s a Dil Dola like number where Kashi and Mastani dance to their heart’s content with the poetic undertone of being involved in a Rukmini-Krishna-Radha love triangle. Bajirao stomps and swirls in a shoddily-penned war celebration song. But then, Bhansali compensates for these excesses by giving us powerful exchanges between the protagonists and lines of dialogue that will be remembered for quite some time in the near future.

The beauty of it all is all-encompassing with the film’s cinematographer, Sudeep Chatterjee’s lens captures Bhansali’s vision immaculately. The color palette isn’t as diverse as that of Ram-Leela (2013), but the limited number of permutations and combinations are put to use smartly. Be it the rain in the times of war-cries, the golden glow on Mastani, or the earthy shades around Kashi, they all add to the mise en scene in more ways than one.

Ranveer Singh ascends to new heights of stardom with his all guns blazing display, with his impassionate Marathi diction and the swashbuckling flamboyance of a great mass-leader. His character is the center of the attraction for the two women, and the actor himself is the center of the movie. He holds the film strongly with good supporting actors subordinating the ranks beneath him. Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone’s characters are treated with equal importance, the way Bhansali did back in 2002 in Devdas. Chopra infuses a strong energy with her spirited Kashi Bai, Padukone is the glum, poetry-quoting, wronged lover to the hilt.

Bajirao Mastani is dramatic, and it’s poised. It’s majestic and it’s cruel. It is, undoubtedly, the film to watch this weekend.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Dil Dhadakne Do

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Dil Dhadakne Do
Release date: June 5, 2015
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Parmeet Sethi, Vikrant Massey, Ridhima Sud, Zarina Wahab

If Karan Johar were to make Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in the year 2015, and on a Mediterranean cruise, there’s a probability it could had have been closer to Dil Dhadakne Do. Pointless, unnecessary comparison aside, it would have had to cut down on some healthy jingoism and overt flash and the melodramatic razzmatazz.

2015 calls for a crisper, and a lighter hand at the job. 2015 calls for Zoya Akhtar to play with a family drama, which has bits and parts of relative predictability, with dollops of individual charisma and charm. The Millionaire Mehras, Neelam (Shefali Shah) and Kamal (Anil Kapoor) have an ordinary marriage crumbling on the inside, and a business that’s faced with a similar fate. To salvage one of the two, they host a wedding anniversary party on an exuberant ship which will take their guests around Istanbul.

Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is being prepped to take over as the heir once the Kamal steps down. Kabir tries. Kabir falters. Kabir flies a plane to get over it (!?).  Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) is the driven-away daughter who’s grown on to be a successful businesswoman, post her halfhearted marriage to Manav (Rahul Bose) The Mehra parents are obviously discriminatory.

Along with being discriminatory, or sexist, they’re hypocrites just like every other human being, as their pet Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan) points out. They are bigoted and dysfunctional, just like an ordinary set of old folks, no matter how rich or poor they may be. This is where the perennially impeccably dressed Mehras become fallible and vulnerable characters. What Zoya Akhtar doesn’t try to do out of her way is to make the supremely flawed parents become likable and utterly revered seniors from Baghban, instead she keeps them humane and grey.

The children bear the brunt and the fruits, of which they’re frequently reminded of their obligation towards the fruits they’ve cherished all their lives. They are asked of life-altering compromises in return at times. Ayesha and Kabir, as siblings, have grown past the age of petty fights and name-calling. They’ve graduated to silently understanding what the other feels, knowing where the other deserves his/her support, and when to let them handle the screw-up of the day.

The strongest relationship is shared by the siblings and the performances put in by Singh and Chopra enthuse the deserved spirit into their characters. Ranveer’s Kabir is cool, urbane and witty and not at all over-the-top boisterous showboarder; he’s the younger of the two and thus, fairly rebellious. Priyanka’s Ayesha is the older, much matured sister that knows her parents won’t give her credit where it’s due. Yet, she’s moved past that and is coping with a modern (go on, read modern as millennial, you internet-junkie) loveless marriage. And both of them run away with as much as they can by unrelentingly extracting from their screen time.

Anil Kapoor sportingly wields strands of grey hair and slips into the self-serving megalomaniac Kamal’s skin. He personifies the faulty patriarch. Shefali Shah’s Neelam is dealt a rough path. She’s stuck in a marriage, like many other women from any background find themselves, where the wife is being taken for granted and hence in turn, detonates the bomb of passive-aggression, forever. Shah is simply brilliant throughout, especially in the scene where she’s exemplifying the decorum for her son.

Dil Dhadakne Do is heartbreakingly authentic and harsh in the moments where the family is struggling to come to terms to the ground realities of their current lives. All the millions in the world can’t give you complete control over the events in your life. It’s here that the film earns its ticket price. It takes a set of elite, classic “10 percent” haves and makes them not seem stumbling drunks, addicts or weeping bags of douchebags. They manage to deal with it, albeit in stylish suits and on lavish locations.

Light humor and powerful cameos by Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar and the entire ensemble cast ensures there’s no seasickness on this voyage. How could I not make a sea metaphor!
Special mention to the single-shot approach on the song Gallan Goodiyaan. The song starts off as annoyingly loud and then seamlessly transitions into a fun number.

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

Finding Fanny

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Finding Fanny
Release date: September 12, 2014
Directed by: Homi Adajania
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Arjun Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur, Anand Tiwari

Deepika Padukone’s voice narrates the story of a bunch of people from a place called Pocolim in Goa, which you shouldn’t bother looking for on a map. Perhaps telling us how it doesn’t really matter if the space exists or not, but paints a picture of how things go at their own pace in this sleepy yet colorful surrounding.

Ferdy (Naseeruddin Shah) is an overgrown choir boy who still hasn’t given up on singing for the church. Angie (Deepika Padukone) catches a rooster from a flock of chickens with her bare hands, and says sorry to him before chopping his head off. Rosalina (Dimple Kapadia) is a hardnosed voluptuous queen bee to the people of Pocolim and a compassionate mother-in-law and a doting mother-like figure to her cat and anyone who needs her. Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) is a fledgling painter who’s obsessed about his muses until he’s done painting them. Savio (Ajun Kapoor) is a scorned admirer of Angie who’s inherited 10 dentures and a crumbling house as his family’s legacy.

The five of them leave for an inadvertently selfless road trip in Don Pedro’s car, chauffeured by Savio, which is motivated by Angie’s intentions to help Ferdy know of what happened to the only woman he loved in his life, and what could have happened if his letter professing his love for her had reached the woman. Angie works the wheels around and makes the group of five oddballs assemble, even for their own selfish interests. The premise is thin, and every time Angie says it out loud, you cringe a little.

Their individual traits keep being manifested as they drive further. Often raking up age-old classic comedy shticks and lines of popular deadpan sarcasm, Homi Adajania and Kersi Khambatta place them in a way which makes them seem fit for the characters mouthing those one-liners. Nothing is absurdly serious in the journey, not even death. Finding Fanny prods you to not take life seriously itself, in a whimsically metaphoric way.

The resolution of the final act is too candid and simple, representative of the entire film itself. The resounding message in the end isn’t an unheard or unseen one, yet it’s delectably enjoyable. Mathias Duplessy’s Goan undercurrents to the film’s background score and music soak you in the free-flowing atmosphere. Adajania doesn’t delve extensively in establishing Goa’s aesthetics and lifestyles with his DP Anil Mehta, instead they reduce the clutter by just focusing solely on the protagonists.

Yes, ‘protagonists’. Finding Fanny isn’t just the story of one protagonist, it very well breaks the Bollywood barrier of sticking to one character’s defeats and victories. It’s the collective lives intertwined simply to form a no-frills outright comedy fest with an underline of love. All the mentioned actors are so drenched in the atmosphere of the film, it’s almost as if Pankaj Kapur has always been this sleazy lech, or Mr. Shah has been this fumbling loverboy. Finding Fanny creates a space where you almost forget that all five of them have played so many roles outside the canvas of this film; which in itself is terribly commendable.

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

Ram-Leela

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Ram-Leela (Goliyon ki Raas Leela: Ram-Leela)
Release date: November 15, 2013
Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Supriya Pathak, Abhimanyu Singh, Gulshan Devaiah, Sharad Kelkar, Richa Chadda, Barkha Bisht, and Raza Murad! (though only in a cameo)

Goliyon ko Raas Leela, which translates to a fair of bullets — holds true for a major part of the film, there are bullets being shot absolutely no reason. In my estimate, more random birds in the air must have been killed with guns than actual people. And that’s some figure, given the strong mafioso orientation of the film’s characters.

Ram (Ranveer Singh) is the comparably non-violent black sheep of a strongly violent Rajadi family, he runs neon-lit shady video parlors in a fictional village of Gujarat. Promenading through the small nooks, he dances with his roaring 6 (or 8?) pack abs, doing pelvic thrusts and never hiding his overt sexuality. This sexuality forms the bond between the rival Saneda’s wildly swaying daughter, Leela (Deepika Padukone)

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In a setting taken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Ram-Leela’s first meeting is passionately raw and extremely, er, hot! A blood-soaked kiss (not down there) is just the start for this combustible couple. They incessantly text each other, exchange cheesy conversations just like any other contemporary new couple would. They click umpteen selfies and even talk about posting them on Twitter, only if they’d dropped an Instagram reference…

The love affair is everything right with the film. The drama surrounding them? Not quite. There are three dance numbers in the first half, making you wish for the interval to arrive at many points, but it doesn’t. Two more in the post-intermission part, testing your conviction and commitment to the film. Support characters like the two respective sister-in-laws Rassela played by Richa Chadda and Kesar done by Barkha Bisht, have more than one dimension to them, thus helping for a stronger depth. They aren’t the cruel bhabhis of our love stories, they are intelligent and somewhat righteous.

The men, on the other hand, are simply high on testosterone, and their lives are also shortened. Gulshan Devaiah’s Bhavani is the only male character with more to do, yet there isn’t much writing in his evil intentions. Writing, perhaps is the weakest department here. The raunchy jokes in the first half get increasingly boring (for me at least) owing to their lack of originality. Even strong players like Dhankor (Supriya Pathak) has so little rationale to the choices that she makes and the cold-heartedness that she portrays. The former jokes do help in lightening the subsequent grim climax though.

The violence isn’t in action as much as it is in its loudness. There isn’t much gore or blood, even if there are some real nasty things going on. Bhansali and his cinematographer S. Ravi Varman use masterful shots to make you feel the violence by minimalistic actual violence. They also paint greatly vivid pictures by using a diverse color pattern with their lighting. The rumored extensively long shooting schedule of 200 days seems justified by the production design, costumes and locations. Unfortunately, the same amount of detail is missing from the screenplay.

The music evolves with the growth of our protagonists’ characters. From the thrust-banging of Tattad Tattad to Ang Lagaa De‘s sensual ‘lovemaking’, it just suits perfectly. Hallelujah, Priyanka Chopra have some mercy on us! The picturization length could have been shortened in the synchronized dancing part which would have also helped reducing the film’s mammoth of a runtime. The end may put you off, probably due to its recent presence in so many films off late. It’s not repetitive, but rather a bit illogical. There’s storytelling logic missing in a few more places as well, and I better leave them unexposed as they might give away more of the plot.

Ranveer and Deepika look their parts and make you wish you were a part of the Ram-Leela universe, and maybe steal away either of them or both depending on your sexual preferences. Deepika’s every hip snap gets you swooning, turning up in your seat. Their kisses (probably chopped) are involving and tempt you for their next liplock. The Gujarati accent is present and its done well. It interferes with authenticity with the infused Hindi and that’s a personal grouse.

The actors, production designers and everyone except the writers and sound recordists/mixers/engineers try their best. Underwhelming to an extent, surprisingly entertaining even with the heavy end, Ram-Leela is just in the middle. Hey, Raza Murad’s back too!

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

Lootera

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Lootera
Released date: July 5, 2013
Directed by: Vikramaditya Motwane
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Adil Hussain, Arif Zakaria, Vikrant Massey, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Shirin Guha

As one of the two on-the-run men is fallen, and the accomplice manages to escape, snowflakes start falling. A pensive autumn tree losing its leaves being looked upon from the misty windows of a house in Dalhousie. The restless fiddling with a light switch depicting a young lady’s constant reveling in the same. These are just a few from a series of charmingly beautiful visuals from Lootera.

Set in newly independent India of the 50s, in an affluent zamindaar household of bright and sunny Calcutta, Pakhi Roychoudhry (Sonakshi Sinha) is an aspiring writer with gleaming eyes and perfectly tucked in saris. She is playful yet contained, portraying an innocence of a bygone era. Cushioned by a formerly royal lineage, she makes time to cherish the smaller things.

Varun Shrivastav (Ranveer Singh) is a state archaeologist in search for ancient figures and in that pursuit lands in front of the Roychoudhry house. He starts his excavation on the property and finds a soft spot with the hospitable hosts. He creates a wooden canvas on his every assignment, and on being asked about his interest with blank canvases, he reveals he’s waiting to draw an eventual masterpiece.

From a head-on collision in a chance encounter to charring Varun’s hand deliberately; from stealing glances to sitting next to each other by the lakeside and whispering sweet nothings; from being passionately in love to forcibly injecting asthma curing drugs– it is this natural progression of Pakhi and Varun’s story that renders an intimate and uncontrived vibe to it. Abstaining from heavy declarations of feelings, Lootera thrives on situations and their power of carrying them through without unnatural dialogue.

Motwane and his cinematographer Mahendra J. Shetty elicit a vibrantly enthusiastic feel to the first half and at the same time juxtapose them with darker shades to consistently maintain a contrast that goes with the different characters. Open spaces are highlighted as diligently as the confined rooms and windowpanes. Amit Trivedi’s music and background score is more of a match tailor made for the film.

Sonakshi Sinha delivers one of her most valuable performances as she ranges between being young and chirpy, and morbid and gloomy. She is in such form that you’re often distracted by her expressions from her ethereal appearance. Ranveer Singh is not on her level here though, but even that’s enough to hold your attention. O. Henry’s short story, “The Last Leaf” is finely woven into the film’s narrative, so much that you relinquish a certain emotion and start cheering for one of the protagonists in a certain scene. (I don’t give away any spoilers.)

As much adjectives I’ve used up to this point to describe Lootera’s brilliance, I’m still left with a few more. But I’d rather not delve in the depths of its excellence again for that will simply not end. There may be a blemish or two, which I won’t tell you.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

P.S. Excuse the shoddy rhyme in the last line and go watch Lootera with compassion and all silence.

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