Sui Dhaaga (2018)

Director Sharat Katariya presents a simple story with hurdles for the common man who wants to achieve a dignified livelihood that resonates with him.

Mauji (Varun) and Mamta (Anushka) play a married couple caught in the routine struggles of life, when they are faced with some challenging circumstances. How they deal with them and create something they are proud of, forms the crux of the film.

The wealth of the film is in its supporting cast, ably led by the lead pair. They give the flavours required to move the narrative forward and evoke our connection with their plight. At just over 2 hours, it’s concise and authentic.

3/5

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Sanju (2018)

From the moment this project was announced I was wondering how the subject would be treated, and how it would be balanced entertainment.

The way it was handled by Raj Kumar Hirani, no surprise there, was superlative. Not only has he managed to say one side of the story (as we know there are always many sides) in a remarkable way, but he’s done justice to all the characters, big or small.

Manisha Koirala is beautiful as the late Nargis, so much grace and spontaneity, she was perfect for the role. Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt was one of the three main pillars of the story, dependable and stoic, he was every bit the actor and person so many admired. Jim Sarbh was effective in a short role, as were Anushka Sharma and Dia Mirza. The second pillar, a fast rising actor Vicky Kaushal is a talent to be reckoned with. He holds his own in the frame with Ranbir and Paresh and has an exemplary presentation of his character ‘Kamli’.

The third pillar, Ranbir Kapoor, is someone who can never be accused of bad acting. He’s flawless in a role which walks the right rope portraying a living actor, who has been admired by many, so much so that the audience erupted in applause at the end of the film. He has shown a struggle with drugs/alcohol, the relationship with his parents, the underworld and his love life with such sincerity that it almost seems we are voyeurs to the real life of Sanjay Dutt.

This film is heart touching, reveals some facets which may be fiction, or fact, but make for good story telling. At the end, what is truth but a perspective and who knows it, but the ones who have lived through it? The film raises a very important point about media and how news is created. Something for the world to be wary about.

Do stay for the end credits song. It’s the icing on the cake.

3.5/5

Jab Harry met Sejal (2017)

Finally! After a while I liked SRK as a romantic lead in a fun film which didn’t take itself too seriously. Imtiaz Ali has a certain way of story telling, and indulges you with glimpses from his past patterns.

Anushka is far and away one of the best talents we have in this industry, she is the life of the film. Her range of emotions make you laugh and cry with equal ease. Her portrayal of Sejal is dramatic, naive and very funny.

SRK has done a role stepping outside his usual realm, yet being unapologetic about it. He is real, and from the credits scene onwards, he establishes what Harry is all about. He hits the humour home every time, deriving it from his apathy towards the bizarre situation he is in.

The story is convenient to drive the plot forward and show you stunning Europe. The logic isn’t strong, but the moments that make up the interactions between the couple are super. The chemistry is intense and some of the songs are well placed and soulful.

The title is a rip off and the story is oft repeated, but watch it for the banter between the two, which is the best part of the film, and let’s you sail effortlessly from start till end.

3/5

Phillauri (2017)

Debut director Anshai Lal creates a warm tale filled with love, comedy and above all a story. Good content is key, the small budget is an achievement and coupled with good acting and music, this film is a complete package.

Anushka Sharma is cute as the friendly ghost, understated and controlled, involuntarily tethered to Suraj Sharma because of ‘marry a tree manglik ritual’. It isn’t that simple of course, there is a back story, and a fulfilling one at that.

Diljit Dosanjh is appropriate in the role of a village singer, with a progressive arc to his character. Mehreen Pirzada is supportive and charming. Lots of scenes are communicated only via expression, which involve the audience at a deeper level.

It is refreshing to see solid content presented in an entertaining way, keeping the aesthetic and emotional quotient high. The film integrates history, music and love in a unique way.

3.5/5

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!

3.5/5

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.

3.5/5

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

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

NH10 (2015)

A thriller that takes you by surprise and raises more questions than it answers, it describes a birthday no one should have. The violence that is perpetrated by women on women and how they stand and watch as it happens is shockingly real.

Issues of honour killing and treatment of women in our villages is brought to the fore by an adrenaline filled Anushka who reveals a new menacing actor inside her. What was meant to be survival turns out to be a complex web where caste, power and barbaric treatment call the shots.

A film that keeps you breathless and engrossed in a way which is rare for Hindi cinema, using sound ( a team of five have worked on it) to accentuate every aspect. Be it fear, action, emotion, motion, day dream or tension, we can feel every nuance. It is captured and presented brilliantly by director Navdeep Singh.

Actor Darshan Kumar who showed us his docile side in Mary Kom unleashes a monster inside him. Neil Bhoopalam gives adequate support and Deepti Naval gives us a short yet intense performance.

What do we do in such a situation? What instincts take over? Who will help us? And how do we help ourselves? People broke in applause as a way to release the tension built in the film, which would have worked even better without an interval.

Given the current climate the film will be and should be seen by ALL.

4/5

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