Sacred Games (2018)

Based on Vikram Chandra’s novel, Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane capture gritty Mumbai, the gang culture and political backdrop of the time with brilliant story telling.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui narrates and acts the character of Ganesh Gaitonde with unerring ease, hypnotising audiences with his life story, and leaving us wanting more at the end of the season.

Saif Ali Khan has a role that he can finally sink his teeth into, intense, on edge with a past that is yet to be revealed.

Such a show is an ensemble effort, every actor and location adding to its grim reality. Not one character was average, everyone acted their parts authentically.

Fast paced, full of eye opening moments and well edited back stories, there is a rationale for everything and everyone. Can’t wait for season 2!

4/5

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Lust Stories (2018)

Lust stories are four short movies exploring different stories where people explore intimacy in marriage, extra-marital affairs and a ‘no strings attached’ scenario.

It was definitely a step forward for both the actors and the directors Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar and Dibakar Banerjee who have been able to direct and present this content thanks to a web release on Netflix.

At 30 minutes each, they were slices in the lives of the many characters played by a great cast, all of whom which give the viewer insights about how and why we may do and feel the way we do.

3/5

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.

4/5

Shaandar (2015)

After the wonderful film ‘Queen’ you expect Vikas Bahl to come up with something half decent, at least. They had a budget. They had two big production houses. They had good talent. And what did we see? No humour, no plot, poor dialogue, some weird music, misogyny and image issues galore, tasteless comedy and pathetic story telling.

A GRAND INJUSTICE!

A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME!

NO RATING!!!

P.S. I feel I have done a good deed by saving all of you a lot of money. Send happy thoughts my way! Lots of them!

Bombay Velvet (2015)

The list of cinematic geniuses which director Anurag Kashyap thanks in the beginning gives the audience a sense of foreboding.

There are many questions we ask ourselves while seated in a near empty cinema (head count 24). Why didn’t such a cast and crew demand better numbers? Why did they spend so much? None of these questions are answered though, as a series of uninspiring events unfold on screen. The chemistry between the pair is lukewarm. Their back stories, though sad, do not evoke emotion. The antagonists make us wonder why their characters aren’t etched out.

A lot of attention has gone into recreating the era, and any points the film gets is because of the sets, costumes and music. The performances are good, but not supported by a strong story. The plot is weak and the lack of depth on screen leaks into the audiences’ hearts and minds as well. Ranbir is apathetic, Anushka is intense and Karan Johar’s first film shows him as a restrained actor. He should stick to directing.

A colossal loss of money, talent and time.

2/5

Ugly (2014)

The state of society, relationships and humanity is aptly summed up in the one word title of this dark film. The irony of the story lies not in the tragedy or the problem at hand, but what evils it gives rise to.

A failed marriage, a child abducted, a depressed mother, a frustrated father, an ambitious step dad, two opportunist friends and one idiotic sibling. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? They do not even describe the tip of the iceberg, for this tale grips you and shocks you on many levels.

The performances make the film powerful and as always director Anurag Kashyap smacks reality hard in your face and doesn’t give you any time to recover. You just go with it because stopping would mean accepting the trauma and shock of how depraved human beings can be.

Made in a very small budget (the key to success these days), it has a large cast. Ronit Roy does what he does best; angry and unyielding. Tejaswini Kolhapure is shown as reeling from addiction and depression. Vineet Kumar Singh has the largest use of profanity with the best act of helplessness. Rahul Bhat is caught between truth and fiction. Various others support in their own way, testing your patience and keeping you tense.

A brilliant eye-opening reality.

3.5/5

Hasee toh Phasee (2014)

What seemed like a rom-com in the promos turned out to be a dramatic and disjointed film on screen.  

Sidharth Malhotra showed promise in his debut film because he was given a good character. This time round, his dancing has improved and his emotions are understated, delivering some tricky lines without going over the top. But he was simply the ‘male lead’. This was Parineeti Chopra’s film, and her performance was superlative. His character should have been developed and kept in sync with how they show him as a child, matching up to his co-star in every way.

The music leaves much to be desired and the production doesn’t bear the dharma productions trademark, although KJo makes an appearance, hoping it would add some value, but it doesn’t. Peppered with some very good scenes and humorous / emotional moments, it lacked the screenplay and story to make it a film to take home.

2.5/5

The Lunchbox (2013)

There are films and there is film making. This movie is the latter and much like it’s name, serves a varied palette of delicate flavours which have to be eaten fresh!

Every nuance of the film, every frame, has a story which completes the recipe of this 109 minute gastronomical delight.

From the invisible ‘aunty’, the annoying colleague, the repressed house wife and the lifeless government worker, the scenes are packed with intelligent insights and a very high emotional quotient, supported by a strong undercurrent of humour and realism.

You can’t help but wonder why our realities are such, but you are hopeful that change is occurring. Awe-inspiring performances by 
Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bharati Achrekar and Lillete Dubey mirror many facets of human relationships in such a short span of time.

Written and Directed by Ritesh Batra, who should be applauded for his craft, one of the many brilliant lines of the film, which struck a chord deep and strong was, “You forget things if you have no one to tell them to.”

Skip every meal, but not this one.

4/5

Bombay Talkies

Celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema, this film is a talented tribute by 4 directors; Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap. Four stories that cover totally different genres, social spaces, dreams, aspirations and goals. What ties them together is the string known as ‘our world of films’.

The story by each director is short, yet complete. The well written characters are played by a confident cast. Urban, rural, modern, conservative, everything is weaved in effectively with a message. As each story begins and ends, you feel you have had a balanced Indian meal, a little bit of every spice and food group, giving you complete nutrition and satisfying your palette.

There is a well shot and fitting song at the end, featuring many of our favourite actors and actresses, either through a montage of their previous work or live in the song. That was the best dessert for such a meal. A proud moment indeed for our cinema and the ones that enjoy it.

It is a time capsule worth watching.

4/5