Brahmastra – Part One: Shiva (2022)

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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

Love per square foot (2018)

Is an interesting take on the property choices for young people in an expensive city like Mumbai.

Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar speak of dreams, independence, having their own space and home.

What follows is a cute story, where the Pathak sisters entertain in their own way, while we have tiny nuances of Mumbai which are part of its charm.

A new age tale of love and belonging.

2.5/5

Jagga Jasoos (2017)

Jagga Jasoos: Anurag Basu’s Barfi was a stellar film. After a 5 year wait, we get to see his much delayed project Jagga Jasoos.

The film has a fresh creative approach, a musical with a reason for being so. The only question is, does it work? The plot is fantasy, with a bit of suspense and history weaved into it. Again, will it hold the attention of the adult audience?

Jagga is played endearingly by Ranbir, who gives us an act which is not uncommon. He looks young, as the role demands it, and the chemistry between him and Katrina is evidently missing. Katrina, on the other hand, feels out of place and sync in the film. She has a few cute moments, but is seemingly not at ease.

I feel the film was marketed incorrectly. At times I felt like I was watching a teletubby episode. It works very well as a children’s film, in which case it wouldn’t require the talents of established stars. Maybe a launch pad for new actors would have brought the budget down and probably finished it quicker.

All in all, the film moves very fast, with the pair getting in and out of sticky situations in a blink. The plot can’t make up its mind, so let’s not look for logic here, just an easy breezy light hearted fare with a musical overload.

2/5

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

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

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

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

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