The Fame Game (2022)

The waters of fame run deep, to win the game you have to play long.

What starts as a case of a missing superstar, quickly becomes an unravelling of her whole family and many of those around her.

It has multiple layers and messages, all communicated with ease, but in their own time. The entrapments of fame are evident throughout, with little done to hide or mask them.

Madhuri has given a brilliant and understated performance and is ably supported by a stellar cast, all of whom do a splendid job in portraying their respective arcs. No character is two dimensional and they all have more going on than meets the eye.

The verdict? A riveting display of the realities of the business, the families of those involved and how their struggles and backstories are never known or thought of.

Loosely based around many theories of stars in Bollywood and perhaps on their real lives too, it is a must watch with all doors open for a second season! Bravo to the creator Sri Rao and directors Bejoy Nambiar and Karishma Kohli.

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.

2.5/5

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

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.

3.5/5

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!

3/5

The Ghazi Attack (2017)

Debutant director Sankalp Reddy brings us a tight film with enough pace and tension to make the two hour running time educative and entertaining.

An ensemble cast effort, everyone plays their part. The one that stands out the most is Kay Kay Menon. His character has a graph and a back story which make the others look a little underdeveloped.

Rana Daggubati has a strong ‘junior’ presence, while Atul Kulkarni supports effectively. Taapsee Pannu has the privilege of being the adult female on board the submarine. Rahul Singh manages to incite hate in the short time he’s there. The late Om Puri has a stoic role to suit his stature.

It was a refreshing change to see such content made well and play out decently. Our film makers and audiences should diversify what they make and watch. The film is still running which means it has people who appreciate it.

3/5

Ok Jaanu (2017)

Shaad Ali directed Saathiya, Bunty aur Babli, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Kill Dil and now this. What was this?

Mumbai has never looked better, but look for anything else and you will be disappointed. Adapted from the Tamil film ‘O Kadhal Kanmani’, the prolific Karan Johar and Mani Ratnam forgot that live in relationships are no big deal in Mumbai.

Moving on, we have some cute moments, in an otherwise sleep inducing movie. Humma Humma stirs us awake as the proceedings become a lullaby again. Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor are at best mediocre in roles that don’t require much else.

Naseeruddin Shah and his wife Leela Samson are a great example of a loving relationship, endearing characters in an otherwise dull tale.

1/5

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

Kapoor & Sons (since 1921)

A complete 3 generation family film, finally! Serving tears and laughter in equal measure, we were tense, smiling, applauding and hoping throughout.

It may start off as a regular film about a family that has drifted, but old issues quickly surface and adults do what they do best, project those issues on to others.

The camera work is ‘intimate’, as if you are walking around and watching the events unfold live in front of you. Complete with twists and turns, the film has no dull moment. The writing left the audience surprised at regular intervals.

In terms of performance, Rishi Kapoor and Fawad Khan tie for being shining beacons in the ensemble cast. The former played an adorable cool grandfather, while the latter knocked the ball out of the park! Brilliant layered portrayal. The film belonged to them.

Ratna Pathak Shah and Rajat Kapoor as the parents portray instability and recklessness in strong doses, clearly carving out personalities for their sons who have developed just so. Siddharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt are their usual selves with a few intense moments.

Dharma productions and Karan Johar continue to be the flag bearers for family films with a strong message. This multi layered and faceted story is testimony to young director Shakun Batra’s evolution.

Must Watch!

3.5/5

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!