Thugs of Hindostan (2018)

Director of Dhoom 3, Vijay Krishna Acharya thought he could pull off another bad film on Aamir’s shoulders. This time round he had Amitabh Bachchan as well, but even after the big budget and supporting cast, he made a sub-standard film with no pace or thrill.

What worked for me is having no expectations, thinking I will hate it. What surprised me is that the film wasn’t that terrible, but definitely belongs in the bad category. Some jokes and scenes aside, and the excellent special effects, it was a predictable film, with not one or two, but three long scenes where I felt the film will end, but on it went.

Katrina has a few lines, and very odd outfits for the year 1795. Fatima Sana Shaikh has a few more lines and scenes. The action looks artificial, and the story is a rip off of Pirates of the Carribean, as are the characters and slapstick approach. The issue here is the backdrop of slavery and imperial rule which make it a serious affair, don’t work with the forced comedy.

Aamir is decent in a role which doesn’t demand much, and Amitabh, the man is faultless as an actor.

Should you watch it? No… the treatment is worse than formulaic, it’s stereotypical 90s where main leads dance in front of the villain.

Save money. He directed Tashan too. This makes 3 bad films. Wake up Yash Raj Films and Aditya Chopra.

1.5/5

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Secret Superstar (2017)

Aamir Khan does it again. He embraces a sleazy personality in a small role and lets young Zaira Wasim shine. Like Dangal, he takes a back step and lets the story be the hero, something other A-list stars should consider as well.

The film addresses many stereotypes and pokes various elements of the glamour and film industry. Debut director Advait Chandan doesn’t waste time with trivial details and gets to the core, very quickly.

The plot is designed to make you uncomfortable and tense, much like wringing a wet cloth. The casting is brilliant, Raj Arjun as the father, Meher Vij as the mother and Farrukh Jaffer as the Grand mother, being pivotal with their actions and inactions, their silence and their words. Little brother Kabir Sajid is adorable and friend Tirth Sharma is endearing.

Zaira has enacted a role many older actresses would find challenging. She balances projecting her own circumstances and being compassionate with ease. It is a heart warming tale, with a message baked right into the title, and not as straightforward as you would expect.

Aamir Khan shows a sensitivity with children and stories which gets better with every film. This film walks the right rope between gut wrenching and liberating with panache. Watch for the superlative performances and simple story.

3.5/5

Dangal (2016)

It took precisely 2 minutes to be drawn in to the world of Mahavir Singh Phogat. And there we stayed, engaged, spellbound and with insights into playful and emotional times, witnessing the staggering growth of the family, especially the girls, Geeta and Babita.

It is such a delight to see Aamir playing his own age, not romancing someone half his age, showing tremendous dedication to his craft with the weight gain. It was especially satisfying to see that he wasn’t self indulgent, we didn’t see him in every frame and he has limited lines. His presence as the patriarch is enough to demand constant and uninterrupted attention. This has been his most mature performance.

The focus and pride of the film are the girls. To start with, the younger Geeta and Babita played by Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, who quickly show us how crippling the burden of carrying their fathers’ dream is. There is a larger picture, which even Sakshi Tanwar, who plays their mother, cannot see. The girls grow to become formidable wrestlers. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra are a product of discipline, their father’s foresight and rigorous training.

The film is tight, crisp, relevant and interesting. Never once does our attention waver. We didn’t want to miss a word, and devoured the authenticity and challenge presented. The decision taken by the father to transform and train his daughters is phenomenal in the time, place and circumstances he was in.

We have seen many Aamir films, but not a film which has Aamir in the feel, vibe and pulse of its every fibre. As mentioned before, he isn’t there in every frame, but you can sense the loyalty to the story in his unique manner at all times.

There are many sequences that stand out, and once is definitely not enough to process the film. The audience is educated about wrestling so that we too root for them as spectators of the actual fight. Director Nitesh Tiwari has made the message loud and clear for girls and women, and their families, to empower their destinies and live to their fullest potential.

A 7-course gourmet meal, with every flavour imaginable. Rich, pure, real and deep, it will tap into an adrenaline you didn’t know you had.

4.5/5

Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

It’s holiday time and the destination is ‘human relationships’. The ever falling and rising of the waves and changing landscapes mirror the complex weave of the Mehra family, who take us on a cruise which turns inward.

At 170 minutes it prepares you for the long haul but it doesn’t seem so. You have a back ground score which relaxes the tension, you have characters which are developed to a depth and breadth rarely seen and you have an adorable narrator.

Having played Ranveer’s beau in Gunday, Priyanka has beautifully transitioned as his sibling in this film. Not only is she sensitive and understated but powerful as well. Ranveer plays the young under achiever with abandon, while Anil Kapoor the male chauvinist and Shefali his silently suffering, Delhi society wife. The family is a reflection of a typical wealthy North Indian set up, but there is much more substance. Not about designer wear or artificial projection of wealth, but classy, elegant and focusing on the issues that lie within.

We have Farhan, Anushka, Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab providing able support, amongst a host of other characters. But it is the story and writing (by Zoya, Farhan and Javed Akhtar) that deserves special mention. From tense to chill out to comedy to love, they excel in all (pun intended).

The feelings of love are rekindled, romance is handled in a fresh light. Vulnerability is shown differently and so is the breakdown of relationships and the consequent mending. Nothing seems forced or farcical, it’s real family drama which you get to witness at a leisurely but not boring pace.

The film is rich visually, sweeping views which are breathtaking. Director Zoya Akhtar should take a bow for handling such a complex drama, while presenting it lightly and giving ample development to all her key characters and making the film about the contemporary family.

The one shot ‘gallan goodiyaan’ song is my favourite 🙂

4/5

Rang Rasiya (2014)

A classic example of a poorly positioned and badly marketed film, it speaks about a history which we may not be aware of and should all know.

Artist Raja Ravi Varma committed a blasphemous act thanks to which many Hindu’s are able to worship but they don’t know who he is or what he did.

Director Ketan Mehta focussed on his liberated sexual ideology which didn’t garner much of an audience, though the film was much much more than that. So much so that Randeep Hooda has been nominated for Best Actor in the upcoming Filmfare awards. His role was complex and his performance was balanced.

The film has a sweeping landscape with very rich and diverse production values, stunning art and cinematography, the continuity of which seemed jaded in places.  Screened in 2008 in London it was finally released in India in December 2014 after a long fight and many hurdles from censors.

Nandana Sen has shown rare courage for scenes which require a sincere abandonment. The fault lies with the director, where language is not in check for the period and smaller but important nuances have been ignored. They were in check during Mangal Pandey, possibly due to Aamir Khan’s involvement but even then it could have done with more authenticity. This was the films biggest weakness.

It is a film which is a lot to do with how we depict gods and goddesses and celebrate our ‘human privilege’ of enjoying sex rather than just as a means of procreation. Taboos and social prejudice have been touched upon, but it seems as a rushed job in the end.

A rare opportunity to make an impact which was lost.

2/5

PK (2014)

Aamir Khan redeems himself from the Dhoom 3 debacle after his sincere and comedic performance in pk.

What looks like a drama on religion is actually a very clear message about how to be human. And it’s even more effective when told from pk’s character. It shows us how complex our lives are especially when it comes to matters of faith and love.

Though the message isn’t new, it has been told with a zest and humour which made it more appetising and definitely less preachy. Anushka Sharma plays the reporter and comrade Jaggu with an ease of a seasoned actress. It was nice to see Sanjay Dutt, Boman Irani, yesteryear Pyarelal aka Ram Sethi, Saurabh Shukla and of course Sushant Singh in short but effective roles.

Not relying on special effects or long winded theories this film goes straight to the heart of what it means to be human and have faith. While pk mimics the actions of those around him, he asks an age old question. He provides a fitting answer too, in a signature ‘finale mass media’ Vinod Chopra Raj Kumar Hirani way.

They have come up with a concept which is very delicate and a potential time bomb of a subject in a country like India, but they have walked the tight rope well. Since the ‘perspective’ is pk’s, its ownership too lies with his species. The writing is crisp, light and doesn’t leave anything unexplained. Logic and reason take center stage in a debate which was engaging as it was entertaining.

In the end it took ‘no understanding of ourselves’ to reflect what we have become and how we can still save ourselves. That was the films larger message amongst it’s many commentaries, all of which are sensitive, appropriate and not tipsy but very much in their senses!

4/5

Bang Bang (2014)

Much awaited Hrithik and Katrina starrer. And yes, Katrina does star in this film, unlike Dhoom 3, where she had a blink and miss role. Sorry a lot of Dhoom 3 references are going to come up in this review, for I felt cheated by both.

So they say you must leave your brain aside for some films. I didn’t think this would be one of them. Especially when they credit the source, Knight and Day, in the opening titles. But when they try to pass off the desert of Abu Dhabi as London in broad day light, you realise you have to hold your brain with your pop corn, in your lap.

Thankfully the movie doesn’t take itself seriously, like Dhoom 3 did, where you actually felt like shooting everyone on screen. Here things happen, because its convenient and of course the cinema goer doesn’t have intelligence, “so we can do anything”, thought the makers. What surprises me is that big stars are now doing such films, and audiences are consuming it.

Hrithik does what he does best – dance. His body is chiselled and bronzed to the point of looking unattractive, and doesn’t match his back story at all. Katrina, yo-yoing from size 8 to 16, has a few funny bits, but overall has character issues. She can’t make up what side of herself she is on. Action sequences are well shot, as are the various locales. But did the film warrant its 140-160 (figures differ) budget? Not at all. Caricature support cast move along the ‘fantasy’ plot, sorry not worth mentioning, except the cute grandma.

Director Siddharth Anand (maker of Salaam Namaste, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Anjaana Anjaani) has delivered what may appear to be a ‘crore-crazy’ film, but it lacks severely in content.

Sad to say, but Hrithik has pulled an Aamir.

1.5/5

Dhoom 3 (2013)

Sorry this review is late, it’s the last one of the year and I could have saved a lot of people time and money, but I guess some divine force was protecting me, until yesterday.

Aamir Khan mentioned he did this film because he liked the script. I would like to see ‘said script’ and ask him squarely, “Why did you do this film?” Frankly I am shocked that he agreed to do it. I guess screen time was the carrot they dangled in front of him. Batman himself would be envious of the motorbike that Aamir has, and his set up would rival that of Iron Man.

The film was flat from the beginning. Basic story telling had taken a back seat. Where was the complication? The motive was so weak. There were fundamental, gaping holes in the screen play, logic was not meant to take a back seat here, but it did. The heist and everything about it lacked reality.

Touching the 300 crore mark as I write this, it makes you wonder why such films do well and other really good ones don’t. The film was well shot, the choreography and spectacle scenes were great to watch. But you don’t take anything home with you, except the feeling that you have been cheated. Aamir is expected to perform well, but here it seemed like a clear recipe for spinning money, which worked. The action scenes are laughable though the effects are decent, it leaves a lot to be desired.

Aamir has done better and more varied work in the past, this time round it was average. Abhishek and Uday are mere props. Katrina has 3 songs and 3 scenes I think, great dancer, that’s it. She also had a hell of a time at ‘the wake’. A joke you will get if you sit right till the end. In which case you also have my condolences.

2/5