New Amsterdam (2018-)

Based on the book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer, this show is aspirational alternate history and I look forward to every minute of it.

There are many problems, many perspectives and some solutions, which are either tough or not in the radar of our imagination. The stories are humane, the characters layered, the situations complex, fast paced but with enough time to process.

Medical dramas have to tread carefully, and they have set the bar very high in terms of content, compassion and sensitivity.

M.S.Dhoni (2016)

Neeraj Pandey, director of A Wednesday, Special 26 and Baby had a daunting task attempting to make a biopic of someone so young and so loved. So he did what was commercially viable, he played safe.

The story writes itself. With such a subject matter it is easy to falter and easier to stay on course. While the film is good, it isn’t exceptional and the same can be said for the direction. It stretches in parts, especially in the second half, but not to the point that you lose interest.

You wonder how come everyone Dhoni encountered was nice, and why the story telling didn’t dwell in any controversy or grey areas. The story has its share of trials, but none that break the viewer to the point where confidence is painstakingly built back.

Performances are good across all actors. Sushant is stoic, reserved, humble and polite, all the glimpses of Dhoni we have to come to know. His family, his personal life, his friends and coaches etc, all feature great acting, but could have had better writing.

The film is mounted on a large budget, owing to the seamless morphing of Sushant’s face onto Dhoni. It’s done extremely well at the box office, and the real reason, is the true hero of the film, who makes an entry in the closing shot. Dhoni, who is grounded and looked up to by all of us, carries this film, like many matches he has won, effortlessly.

3/5 (1 for every hour 😉)

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015)

So let’s acknowledge one thing first, the Barjatyas and Fox Star have spent money on the production, and it looks good, mostly.

Besides that there is little to talk about. But as its customary, it shall be discussed, in the hope again, to save your time and money.

Rajshri productions usually focus on family dramas and this is no exception. The tension though, lacks depth and meaning, looking lacklustre with caricature like characters. Random scenes, a weak plot, a supporting cast that wasn’t utilised well, and some misfits were cast too.

Salman Khan has more chemistry with Anupam Kher than with Sonam Kapoor. She does what she does best, look good and mouth some dialogues. The cinema erupted into laughs when she was crying, so that’s the verdict on her acting ability.

Deepak Dobriyal provides some comic relief. Swara Bhaskar is regressive, Armaan Koli laughable. Neil Nitin Mukesh looks princely in a role which suited him well, but lacked dimension.

The songs are abysmal baring the title track. Songs used to be Sooraj Barjatya’s strength, but over the years, that too has dwindled.

Was it as bad as ‘Mein Prem ki Deewani hoon’? Let’s just say they are tied, and leave it at that.

1/5

Daawat-e-ishq (2014)

What could have been a witty spicy dish turned out to be a half baked badly prepared main course with two good side dishes.

Side dish 1: Aditya Roy Kapur : refreshing in a clean role, a guy with his heart in the right place, doing the rare balancing act from the beginning.

Side dish 2 : Anupam Kher : a cute, supportive single father who plays along, albeit not to convincingly, but endearing nonetheless.

A talent like Parineeti was good in parts but suffered because of a whimsical characterisation. Her motives, her plan, her agenda and purpose all were warped. So many key things were ignored to move the story along. Short at 2 hours, it could have been a crisp sweet savoury act, but failed to excite any taste buds.

Director Habib Faisal explores the subject of dowry, a very sad state in India. But aren’t those who give dowry just as much to blame? He is associated with some good films as a writer and director, but this one seems as a misfit in that list.

An offering from Yash Raj which will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

1.5/5

Main Tera Hero (2014)

David Dhawan is back! And he offers us a 6-pack cocktail of all his popular heroes! Varun manages to go over the top and entertain, not annoy. We see shades of Govinda, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Shahid Kapoor and hams and styles of many others in this comedy caper.

While coerced love brings the twists and turns, its the one-liners and silly character traits that kept us laughing throughout. The music was good and this time round, they attached logic to some key details in the plot.

Short at 2 hours 8 minutes, it also stars Illeana D’Cruz, Nargis Fakhri and Arunoday Singh who may not be spot on with comic timing, but do a decent job. The real laughs were provided by Anupam Kher, Saurabh Shukla, Rajpal Yadav and Shakti Kapoor, when ‘Seenu’ (Varun) wasn’t up to his antics.

A fun, light watch.

3/5

Mahabharat (2013)

Director Aman Khan who also made the animated film ‘Krishna’ in 2006 brings us this tale in 2013. The interesting approach was to have the character’s facial features match the actors who were doing their voiceovers. The tale is known to all, but it was compressed well to fit the 2 hour film format, covering all the highlights.

It is very expensive to make good quality animation films, and takes a lot of time. When Hollywood releases such movies, their estimated production budget can be anywhere between $100 – $150 million dollars. The aspect which suffers here is the very unfinished and amateur animation which we are forced to consume. This could very well be a rough draft brief to an animator, but alas, it is the finished product.

There will not be a market big enough for such a film, though ‘Bal Ganesh’ and ‘Ganesha’ were a rage with children. I understand why much money couldn’t be pumped into the film to give it the look it deserved. Close up shots show us major faults and lack of expressions, such important details for an epic like this.

It can be educational for children, but even the stellar voices cannot save the film for adults.

2/5