Gehraiyaan (2022)

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Chhapaak (2020)

Meghna Gulzar gives us a brilliant film which compels us to think. Deepika delivers one of her career bests as ‘Malti’, an acid attack victim survivor.

We get to examine what has enabled the crime, the plight of the survivors, the flaws in the legal system and the wonders of medical science.

Exceptional direction and acting makes this not a ‘poke in the eyes to make you cry’ but a ‘stab in the heart to make you think’. The haunting background score helps to further that cause.

It was an emotional and empowering viewing that makes you strongly want to burn away the prejudice.

4/5

Padmaavat (2018)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has attempted a film about a subject that should have been a matter of pride, but has now become a matter of protection.

Padmavati, rechristened Padmaavat, is a tale about an ethereal Queen, and everyone who saw her, or didn’t, was mesmerised by her beauty. Her marriage to the King of Mewar and the subsequent interest in her by Emperor Khilji show us the inner workings of politics, power and war.

The director is no stranger to scale, or aesthetics, and he has gone a step further than his previous epic Bajirao Mastani. The film needs atleast two viewings to take in all the details, metaphors, costumes, dialogues and expressions.

Deepika Padukone is the pragmatic Queen who represents not only courage and dignity, but rules of engagement as well. Though her physical beauty is striking, it is her resolute and visionary thinking that make her truly remarkable.

Shahid Kapur is perfect for the role of King Ratan Singh. He embodies the characteristics of Rajputs in every manner of his being, reserving his reactions to only necessary situations. He, like Deepika, speaks volumes with his eyes.

Ranveer Singh portrays every sin in one personality in a menacing and convincing way as Khilji. Achieving a spectrum of disturbing, violent, obsessive and repulsive actions and gestures shows his growth as an actor.

The Indian Republic Day is when India adopted the constitution 70 years ago, which is a living document. An opportune day to write this review. Let’s honour our freedom and those who fought for it by rebelling against forces who want to harm our country and it’s creativity.

It’s a film of pride, of choices, of honour, of valour and a celebration of everything Indian. Everyone must watch it, and exercise their democratic right to.

4.5/5

Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Master story teller and aesthetic genius Sanjay Leela Bhansali finally presents his long nurtured dream on celluloid. For fans of the director, and the cast, the wait was worth it.

Bajirao is played surprisingly well by a solid Ranveer Singh, who has mastered the accent and developed a body language which is believable and appropriate. He balances being the deft leader of an army, a devoted family man and a doomed lover.

Mastani, a warrior princess, an ethereal beauty of Persian descent, who else could play it but the girl with the magical touch? She can do no wrong, and this time, Deepika Padukone mesmerises us with the grace of royalty and the fierceness of a soldier. A talented danseuse aside, she emotes mainly with her eyes, speaking volumes on love, strength and pain. Kashibai, full of dignity that befits the ‘First Lady’, has the trickiest role.

Priyanka Chopra has the edge of a senior artist and shows us another mastery of accent and gestures, the other side of the spectrum from ‘Quantico’. She has a tough act of balancing herself in the face of her husband’s new love and political turmoil, which she does with a stoic humility.

The director has used dialgoue sparingly in the film, as actions and ambience speak the unspoken. Great care is taken for no scene or emotion to be melodramatic. Instead they are understated to make a far greater impression.

Costumes by Anju Modi weave their own story, while the sets and the mood is earthy, opulent, muted yet grand. The Aaina Mahal will be remembered for the resonance with its historic counterpart and its spellbinding magnificence. Bhansali has stepped way out of his comfort zone with his colour pallette. His adept treatment of war, romance, drama and politics, and the music as well, makes him a complete director.

A supporting but stellar cast comprises of many members, but the one that shines the most is Tanvi Azmi, who plays Radhabai, Bajirao’s mother, who has an impact with just her presence. Her actions are pivotal and her acting is flawless. Milind Soman has a short but important role, with one influential speech which he delivers effectively. Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Vaibbhav Tatwawdi support the drama.

Undoubtedly this year’s best film, it ticks all the boxes. It’s not heart wrenching like Mughal-E-Azam, but will choke you for sure. To be enthralled by music, grandeur and emotion, witness a movie which recreates history to become part of it.

4/5

Bajirao Mastaani…
Two lovers united by one sword…
Touching the breadth and depth of cinematic extravagance…
Will share more once I have processed the beauty and majesty of my experience…

Tamasha (2015)

I would like to start with a big pat on the back of director Imtiaz Ali who had the guts to make this film. A commercial canvas as large as this exploring minute, nurtured passions and ambitions is truly commendable.

It’s everyone’s story. There will be some part, or more, that you will identify with. How we don’t chase our dreams, or why we conform to society. How we don’t realise when we became part of the race, a race that nobody ever really wins. How we have to find ourselves first, before hoping to find love. And how we have to be our true, genuine self to achieve anything of value in our life.

This and a lot more is woven into the film. A wise man had once told me ‘there are only 5 stories, it’s how you tell them’. This film says similarly, on the outset, but manages to give you the essence and learning of many stories.

Deepika is the golden girl with a magical touch. She outdoes herself in every role. This film shows her depth as a young actor. Careless abandon, intense pain, unrequited love and everything in between is natural and effortless.

Ranbir Kapoor is back! It was refreshing to see the spectrum of his talent after a while on screen. His suppression, his angst, how his passion spills into the life he has created for himself shows that he still is one of the best actors we have. He embodies everyone’s story.

The movie shows a philosophy of life, true to many Indians, on screen, in an eccentrically real way. It’s a class film, where many supporting actors act as sign posts and turning points. Vivek Mushran is a revelation! Beautiful locales and soulful music complete the Tamasha.

3.5/5

Piku (2015)

The high strung story of a hypochondriac father and frustrated daughter leaves us agitated, entertained, in splits and in reflection.

Amitabh plays the constipated feminist with élan, while Deepika aces the angry, caring, unapologetic daughter. Their interaction leaves you exasperated. Enter Irfaan, who is the catalyst of balance in their chaotic lives.

Though the film seems to be about bowel movements, it’s a clever metaphor for bottling issues, anxieties, suppressed  relationships and the delicate stage of life parents reach. It passes messages strong and clear, without pretence or censorship.

A fun film, it takes getting used to. Once you have caught the pulse of the characters you settle in. Sensitively made by director Shoojit Sircar, with an able supporting cast.

A difficult topic to bring to the table, handled in a matter of fact manner.

3/5

Happy New Year (2014)

Shah Rukh Khan is the newest member of the ‘Crap Crore Club’. Aamir with Dhoom 3, Salman with Kick, Hrithik with Bang Bang and now this spectacle which lacks soul or originality.

Am going to keep it short. SRK looks scary and the macho image looks forced. Deepika is gifted with accents, she entertains like she did in Chennai Express and looks fab. They all have convenient back stories. Boman plays a 50 year old Parsi with a few ticks. Sonu Sood looks great and does a decent job, while Abhishek shouldn’t have agreed to the not-so-funny puking. Vivaan Shah makes a confident debut.

Needless to say common sense was left out, focusing on scenes and songs strung together to hopefully entertain. Some unexpected laughs did escape my mouth, but overall the long length and illogical proceedings made it tiresome. Dubai looks great.

If you haven’t got enough of Reality Dance Shows on TV, watch this.

1.5/5

Finding Fanny (2014)

You have to give points to Homi Adajania for sheer courage to make a film like this for our audience. And a pat on the back of our audience, who have appreciated the film, which has crossed 24 crores in the domestic market.

Some have called it ‘off beat’, some a ‘dark comedy’, for me it just seemed like a ‘slice of life’. A very strange slice, of 5 people who at the very least project their own insecurities and desires and at the most are as vulnerable and idiosyncratic as any of us.

The project is to find fanny, or Stephanie, an old lost love. But it turns out that the 5 (6 if you count the cat) actually find themselves, without meaning to. There is no big realization or epiphany. It is simple, mundane, albeit not entirely ordinary and in those moments we have laughed. Which I think is very difficult to achieve, and more difficult to create.

Dimple Kapadia clearly stole the show, her character having a graph of extremes. Naseeruddin Shah, our love lorn bachelor, plays his emotional and dreamy character very well. Pankaj Kapur, gave us a theatrical performance of an eccentric artist, whereas Arjun Kapoor did what he does best, underplayed, intense, with some great dialogue delivery. Deepika Padukone was perhaps the buffer, the stabiliser between all of them, the glue of sanity, and as always, she delivered an honest performance.

This film HAS TO BE WATCHED IN ENGLISH. The Goan lingo won’t work otherwise. Great writing by the director and Kersi Khambatta. Watch out for unexpected laughs, some very witty lines, expressions and situations.

3/5