Maja Ma (2022)

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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

Gulaab Gang (2014)

Debutante director Soumik Sen took on a huge task to show women’s struggles in villages and vigilantes who protect them. It was a casting coup, with Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla coming together on the screen for the first time. The subject is tricky and not a sure fire hit with the audience and it bears a striking resemblance to the Gulaabi gang lead by Sampat Pal Devi. A court order which put a stay on the release which was lifted on Thursday, confused viewers and really hurt Friday numbers.

The film shows us an anarchy of power, where women have strength but don’t seem to train for it. They sing and dance as merrily as they mete out justice. They weave saris, string baskets, teach the alphabet and are every bit the alpha male, who comes away unscathed from a fight scene.

Madhuri serves us several shades, a handful of which we haven’t seen before. She is powerful, yet soft, strong yet emotional, a total contrast to what she should have been shown as, to believably play Rajjo. Juhi on the other hand, is a consistent negative character. She serves us with shocking lines and crude actions in her trademark sickly sweet style and is a revelation. She clearly stole the show.

Overall the film is peppered with predictable events and some un-required dances. How they dole out punishment is fun to watch. Released at an appropriate time, it just may meet with an audience who appreciates it in parts.

Happy Women’s Day!

2.5/5

Dedh Ishqiya (2014)

Khalujaan and babban are back, not with a vengeance but with the 7 stages of love. While the chemistry and ‘loyalty’ between the Naseer and Arshad was the highlight in the first film, here it provides the comic relief.

If ‘Ishqiya’ was raw and rural in its appeal, this film is the stark opposite with beautiful Urdu poetry and Lucknowi manners. But I wish they would have retained the utter twisted nature and punches that were thrown at the audience in Ishqiya, in this one too. Here we were stabbed, but with a nawabi etiquette.  

Madhuri enchants with her dance and beauty. Her character has various shades, suits her age and her diction of the lyrical Urdu is perfect. Huma as Muniya is the raw woman who actually makes a man doubt his manhood. Together they make a sensual team who are a force to reckon with for our fraud duo.

The true hero though, of this film, is the authenticity. From the location, to the sets, the costume, dialogue, the colour palette and music, everything is original and transports you to an era where the story and its characters are not only believable, but comical too. The plot unfolds slowly, the language shocks, entertains and romances the audience, while we know there is more to the niceties than meets the eye.

Director Abhishek Chaubey, Producer/Dialogue writer Vishal Bhardwaj and Lyricist Gulzar get full points to create the ambiance, which is peppered by manipulation, love, lust and revenge.

3/5

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Director Ayan Mukherji brings a variety of emotions and nuances of relationships alive on screen, in this closeted musical film. I guess he had hoped but not imagined that all the songs would be so well received, but they are not the only reason this film is good. Here goes…

The writing of the film is meaningful. You have a lot of depth packed into a few dialogues, scenes are short and crisp and so much is said and inferred with body language and eye contact that this doesn’t seem to be a second film of a 29 year old director. People have found the first half packed and fun and the second half slow. Well, the pace was meant to be a slower, and yes I found both halves in appropriate speed limits.

It is difficult to make Deepika look different, or act different, but they have achieved that. She has communicated silently, mostly using her eyes, which is a feat for a young actress. Kalki is a feisty young girl, and fits her character to the T. Aditya is suffering from a different addiction this time, but the last one made more than 100 crores at the box office, so go ahead, indulge! Ranbir, is, well, Ranbir. The perfect combination of genes, talent, looks and sheer hardwork, this man is flawless.

The songs are catchy, fun, different and well shot. I think it was a masterstroke idea to get the crowd revved up by starting with Madhuri’s item number. The womans’ still got it and we get a tiny peek into what entertainment awaits us.

We get to see some beautiful locations around India and the world, which act as mere props because the story is stronger than the visual. A Karan Johar production through and through!

The spectrum of human emotions served delicately, this film is friendship, love, family, work and passion!

4/5