Brahmastra – Part One: Shiva (2022)


Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is synonymous with portraying strong women and their point of view. This is a tale which shows the heroics of Gangubai, a woman wronged by love, who rights the life of many as she fights the good fight.

SLB has struck to the brief. There is grandeur in the details, which form the backdrop for the talents of the entire cast. The highlights are Alia Bhatt, Seema Pahwa and Vijay Raaz. The performances grip you, the writing entertains, enlightens and jolts you, the songs and turning points give you hope in a world which has been cast aside.

We get glimpses of the lives of many such women, their back stories and tragedies, but the film doesn’t dwell on that. It’s always looking forward, as did the protagonist in real life, while imparting many life lessons, philosophies and truths in her candid manner.

Different from his earlier films but with his trademark for the dramatic, this one is another feather in his illustrious cap.

A must watch for its strength and dignity.


Kalank (2019)

The film sets its period tone from the beginning, weaving its story slowly and introducing its characters.

The plot moves at a languid pace, some sequences are brilliant while others lack a punch. All actors have done their part well, Alia Bhatt, Madhuri Dixit and Varun Dhawan have a larger emotional spectrum. Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha and Aditya Roy Kapur lend able support. The story and dialogue don’t support them as they should have.

Director Abhishek Varman presents an aesthetic film which could have done with better editing and writing. It was sad to see many talents get wasted, their characters not well written and scenes and songs which drag on or are not required.

30-40 minutes shorter with crisper lines, the film would have had more appeal. As it stands it’s an average fare.


Gully Boy (2019)

Zoya Akhtar grows from strength to strength, presenting Dharavi in a way which we have never seen before. She makes a complete film, which has everything one can hope for.

Ranveer Singh shows us that he’s an ever evolving artist. We don’t know what he will grow into next, but every act, every effort, every film, is different. This time round, a demure introvert Murad has a story, a voice, which needs to be heard. And we all sat on the edge of our seats, rooting for him, and his humble talent while he discovered himself.

Alia Bhatt is a fiesty, crafty, intelligent Safeena, who knows what she wants and will do whatever it takes to achieve it. Their chemistry is palpable, and her inadvertent comic timing is perfect.

Siddhant Chaturvedi, who plays MC Sher, is a wonderful friend, mentor and guide to Murad, selflessly helping talent. The film wouldn’t work without the supporting cast, friends, family members, rappers, Kalki Koechlin, who have their own share in Murad’s journey.

The beauty of the film lies in its balance. In the way rap has been woven into thought, at times sublime like poetry and at others like ammunition for a comeback. Either way, the film is pure art, and presented so, unapologetically.

Not many films make me nostalgic, but this one did, for Mumbai, it’s struggles, the gift that it is, and the possibilities that lie there.

This film should be watched in every gully, suburb, town, city, village and country! #TeraTimeAaGaya


Raazi (2018)

Rarely do you have a taut thriller which doesn’t make any grand statements, but builds drama slowly, without fanfare.

The beauty of this film is how director Meghna Gulzar hasn’t once shown a bias or chosen sides. You see the plot unfold in two households, both are nice and fair with one thing in common, their love for their country. It’s so balanced that you feel for the other without thinking or overprocessing.

Alia Bhatt has taken on a difficult role, bringing out nuances which we haven’t seen yet in her diverse acting range. Her youth is her biggest strength, as she has more time to develop and explore her acting prowess.

Vicky Kaushal plays an understanding sensitive man, ably supported by a stellar cast, all of whom do their part well, without resorting to histrionics.

You walk away from the film strangely diminished, happy for the outcome but sad for the many unsung heroes.

A worthy watch.


Badrinath ki Dulhania (2017)

The ‘Varun-Alia’ couple are back! This time round, though it looks all song and dance, it has many ‘in your face’ messages.

While people may not agree with the story or the methods, I felt the messages were strong and relevant. It’s Jhansi, a 10th grade pass Badrinath is smitten with Vaidehi. She is not interested. But he doesn’t get that. Why? Because that’s how he has been brought up. The first of many changes which have to take place in Indian mentality.

Issues of dowry, the male child, women’s rights and respect are thrown in the face of male and societal patriarchy. Challenged by the duo in the film, though they may not seem current in the metros and larger cities, they are still prevelant in many parts of India. See this as a nudge to those people who need to stand up and fight for doing the right thing.

Peppered with some pretty song and dance, some comedy and friendly bonding, but the issues stay intact. Till the end. A great supporting cast who play their characters very well, complete the story.

It was a well made sugar coated medicine and will do its job!


Dear Zindagi (2016)

Gauri Shinde is a nuanced story teller. She delved into language, empowerment and touched the surface of human relationships in English Vinglish. In Dear Zindagi, she dives in to more complex human behaviour, patterns and emotions.

Dear Zindagi is a film I have been waiting for Shah Rukh Khan to do. A simple film, which involves him being SRK a la Swades or Chak de. Mature, understanding, introspective and a subtle sense of humour.

The film starts with, ends with, belongs to and is completely Alia Bhatt. She has delivered such performances before, but for a young actor to hit the ball out of the park every time isn’t easy. She does it like a seasoned player.

Supported well by a host of actors who all enter, exit or endure Alia’s universe, the film is a refreshing tale on seeking advise or direction. Ali Zafar and Kunal Kapoor are memorable, while Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayama are adorable reality checks.

A small film with a big heart, it encourages us to talk and listen.


Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)

Karan Johar plays the heart strings like a pro in this witty, filmy, fast paced movie. Surprisingly filled with laughs galore, the humour is like a buffer for the emotional quotient.

He usually romantisizes a city in every film, here the chosen ones are London and Vienna. A lot of memories are resurrected in the moments that have been strung together delicately, which are nostalgic, leaving a lasting smile on your face.

Anushka Sharma is as sharp as a tack, her lines and attitude keep you on your toes. She embodies the free spirit without an anchor, because she doesn’t need one.

Ranbir Kapoor is getting more nuanced with every performance. Tamasha was a fine act, this one ranges from sublime to pure abandon. He demonstrates the anguish of unrequited love from your best friend.

Aishwariya Rai Bachchan has a difficult role to play, which she does with ease. This should have been her comeback film, but better late than never. She looks and acts every bit the poetess.

The film has a mood, which it keeps intact throughout, a sense of security, of comfort, of a chemistry that goes beyond the physical attraction of people.

Karan Johar has stepped away from his usual grandeur and into the vast and unchartered territory of the blur between love and friendship. He didn’t get lost, but navigates us out of the labrinth of complex emotions into a love which has no name.

Bravo! And Happy Diwali!


Udta Punjab (2016)

Director Abhishek Chaubey gives us his third outing after Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya. He has written and assisted a host of other layered films. It is grim, dealing with the reality of a difficult subject by all groups involved.

I am going to breakdown the review by performances, because each one is worthy of mention. I start with Alia Bhatt. Her journey, though tragic, is full of hope for those who want to fight addiction. The makers haven’t resorted to any meaningless display. There is enough for the imagination to feel her anguish.

Shahid Kapoor is his best eccentric self. An accidental rockstar, he represents many like him, who are lost in the labyrinth of drugs. He is self obsessed and dependant, but eventually evolves. His uncle played by the talented Satish Kaushik is representative of the many adults who put a veil on the reality of their kids. He is supportive of his evolution but also of his destruction.

Kareena Kapoor Khan is refreshing in a strong character role. She has a solid attitude without any qualms or fears. It was a delight to watch her real talent being tapped without any head tossing or melodramatic gestures. She shows she is a mature actor, the face of many in the war against drugs.

New actor Diljit Dosanjh represents the vulnerable, wayward and corrupt ways of the law which have to unite in the war against drugs. The fact that anyone tried to ban or censor anything in this film is proof that the reality was being suppressed. But Truth always Triumphs.

Bravo to the producers who stuck their battle and the Supreme Court for passing it with a minor edit. The language takes a little getting used to but it isn’t there for effect. It’s the harsh truth. This could be the plight of ANY drug user in ANY state of India and all those who facilitate it and fight it.