The Romantics (2023)


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.


Hichki (2018)

Inspired from a film called ‘Front of the class’, which is based on the book of the same name, this gem is directed by Siddharth P Malhotra.

Rani proves yet again that all a good actor needs is good writing. She has portrayed a variety of memorable roles in her career and this will be counted as one of her best. She tells us about Tourette Syndrome in exactly the way it should be spoken about, a tic which doesn’t alter intelligence or life expectancy.

The supporting cast is aplenty, with the teenagers and school staff front and center, and her family in the background. They essay their roles and transformation so seamlessly, that when the film is coming to an end, you want it to go on and on.

Everyone has teachers who have left a lifelong impression on them, I was blessed to have a few, and this film is a salute to the ones who never gave up on their students. Their efforts mould lives and build futures!

It’s a feel good film which deserves to do well, and has many meaningful messages about equal opportunity, acceptance and tenacity.


Befikre (2016)

Befikre: Aditya Chopra has made a frivolous, silly film where he fails to create romance. He establishes the ‘Frenchness’ of the movie, and you accept it, hoping he will stick to it. But he, like the film, can’t make up his mind, so the audience is subjected to a volley of baseless proceedings.

Cliche. That’s the word I would use to describe my experience. 90 minutes into the movie, I was hoping something, anything would redeem it. But it went further downhill. The film has been directed with careless abandon, much like its name. Kissing incessantly does not equal love, romance or even intimacy. Using the backdrop of Paris it was shoved down our throats but even the Eiffel Tower couldn’t turn the scene.

Ranveer Singh is his usual self. High on energy, good performance, a natural. But the story doesn’t back him up. Vaani Kapoor has difficulty emoting, which makes her look uncomfortable on screen. That is successfully transferred to the audience. Poorly etched and written, they did their best in a script which only demands patience.

I dare you to watch this film. (Ironically a pun you will understand only after you see it. But don’t tell me you were not warned).


Sultan (2016)

Director Ali Abbas Zafar had a tough task to take the helm of a Salman Khan Eid offering. The audience is expecting a big feast… And the film delivers a tasty one! It has broken the fast of empty cinemas with an onslaught of advance bookings, and is full all weekend!

The story is simple yet powerful. Thankfully, there is no gender bias present. Salman re-invents himself, though age isn’t always on his side in many shots. But he is relentless. Producer Aditya Chopra has tapped his winning formula; Make him humble, kind and goofy. He is all that, with a Haryanvi accent which doesn’t get annoying. His journeys of transformations carries the film to its climax.

Anushka Sharma is the perfect match for Salman in the film. She matches his intensity, is independent and her own person. Her character is very well written, a strong woman with a mission.

Amit Sadh starts of as a corporate dude and ends up a man with a heart. Randeep Hooda propels the film forward, giving Salman a new lease of life in his second round against life. His third and final round, becomes a challenge for all of us, where the climax connects directly to each individual.

Fight scenes leave an impact, but would have been stronger with a shorter film length. Songs were varied, one or two not required, but the title song was memorable. The film maintained an individual route, never becoming melodramatic or patriotic, which was its biggest strength.

A perfect family film for Eid, an important message for boys/girls, men/women, parents/children in our country and a life lesson for all of us to fight our arrogance, pride, failings and fears.


Dum laga ke haisha (2015)

Rarely does a movie come along which is so complete and true to its craft, that you feel you have lived it with its characters. The newest offering by Yash Raj does just that, by recreating haridwar and hrishikesh in 1995 and introducing us to Prem, Sandhya and their families.

There is not much to be said when every detail screams authenticity and the characters are so well written and acted that stereotypes and prejudices parade in front of you with muted abandon. Issues of patriarchy, weight, gender, skin colour are all dealt with in ‘by the by’ manner. It was interesting to see the concept of and reasons for love, marriage and relationships in general.

Performances by the ensemble are top notch. Duration of 2 hours makes it quick and crisp. Direction by Sharat Katariya is brilliant.

Give it a go!


Mardaani (2014)

Director of Parineeta, Laaga chunari mein daag and Lafangey Parindey, Pradeep Sarkar brings us a short, crisp, no song, female cop drama/thriller. A very tricky proposition. Did he live up to the challenge? He knocked it out of the park!

Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukherji) is a Crime Branch officer in Mumbai. She isn’t a total rebel but sometimes works outside the orders that are given to her. She stumbles upon a racket when a 12 year girl goes missing and follows the case with valour, strength and shrewdness. She faces obstacles, but does not breakdown. She is all Man.

The context here is of course not based on gender, but on characteristics. Of being resolute, strong (physical and mental), of protecting the ones who we pledged to protect and doing the right thing. While women have been given a more nurturing role in our society, it is forgotten that most times they are the ones who instil the above qualities, or other attributes, in their offspring.

Rani Mukherji has shown shades of this calibre before, but here it’s a full blown, A-rated, no sugar coating drama. She has trained to do action scenes which look realistic and her body language is not masculine but firm. Tahir Raj Bhasin plays a convincing and menacing bad guy. A host of supporting characters move the film along swiftly, giving our mind no chance to wander or disconnect.

The film is hard hitting. The scenes are bold and difficult to watch. The crimes violate not only the body but the soul as well. The punishment? You have to watch the film to see how its meted out. The language isn’t bad just for the sake of being so. No scene or act is done for effect. Everything leads to the conclusion, which has a valid and appropriate message for the public, the police force and all Indians.

The movie resonates deeply. Yes there are some loop holes, but in the larger picture, the heart, soul and head of the film leave an imprint in your mind. Must watch.


Gunday (2014)

A strong back story which starts with the creation of Bangladesh, shows us two young boys who are dealing with the consequences of being hungry refugees. How they survive and grow to be  proud powerful goons in the 80s, forms the riveting beginning. Bikram and Bala, acted in true 70’s style, by Ranveer & Arjun, exude excellent camaraderie on screen. Gunday is almost everything a period film should be in today’s age.

Priyanka plays a sexy cabaret dancer, who is wooed by both young men. Irrfan represents the law that is having a good time chasing them, more for the audience’s benefit than his own, rather than just arresting them. The first half goes by with entertaining amongst some over acting. The second half becomes more hamming, but still manages to retain the mood.

After an unnecessary song, shot ‘a la dil tu hi bata’ from Krrish 3, I was wondering what is Priyanka doing in the film besides looking stunning. She later established exactly why, in one powerful scene. The complications continue and have been given a fitting end, incorporating cow boy, Italian mafia, dramatic Bollywood cinema, all-in-one.

A ‘paisa vasool’ flick, stylised and shot well by director Ali Abbas Zafar.


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.