A Suitable Boy – TV series (2020)

Only Mira Nair could have done justice to the poetic saga written by Vikram Seth, and she does so wonderfully.

Striking a balance between story telling and setting the mood for culture, family dynamics, heartbreak and new love, she captivates the audience while weaving a tale, drawing us in to the lives and choices of the many characters.

Though the 6 episodes cannot capture the entire content, they have however bottled the essence of the story, touching on all the key elements and relationships which form the drama, romance and strife in the plot.

Excellent performances by the entire stellar cast, the most noteworthy are Ishaan Khatter, Tabu and Ram Kapoor. But each and every one puts their finest theatrical foot forward.

Watch it for the detail, the feelings, the authenticity and the fine character portrayals and even finer direction.

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Extraction (2020)

Chris Hemsworth and director Sam Hargrave give us exceptional action in Dhaka where a a drug lord’s son is being held after he is kidnapped.

Randeep Hooda is a pleasant surprise, supported well by Rudhraksh Jaiswal. Kudos to the little kid who threatens Chris not once but twice in an action sequence, he was memorable!

Thoroughly enjoyed the setting and pace of the film. Streaming now on Netflix.

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

Rang Rasiya (2014)

A classic example of a poorly positioned and badly marketed film, it speaks about a history which we may not be aware of and should all know.

Artist Raja Ravi Varma committed a blasphemous act thanks to which many Hindu’s are able to worship but they don’t know who he is or what he did.

Director Ketan Mehta focussed on his liberated sexual ideology which didn’t garner much of an audience, though the film was much much more than that. So much so that Randeep Hooda has been nominated for Best Actor in the upcoming Filmfare awards. His role was complex and his performance was balanced.

The film has a sweeping landscape with very rich and diverse production values, stunning art and cinematography, the continuity of which seemed jaded in places.  Screened in 2008 in London it was finally released in India in December 2014 after a long fight and many hurdles from censors.

Nandana Sen has shown rare courage for scenes which require a sincere abandonment. The fault lies with the director, where language is not in check for the period and smaller but important nuances have been ignored. They were in check during Mangal Pandey, possibly due to Aamir Khan’s involvement but even then it could have done with more authenticity. This was the films biggest weakness.

It is a film which is a lot to do with how we depict gods and goddesses and celebrate our ‘human privilege’ of enjoying sex rather than just as a means of procreation. Taboos and social prejudice have been touched upon, but it seems as a rushed job in the end.

A rare opportunity to make an impact which was lost.

2/5

Highway (2014)

What can you expect from a young actress who plays a rich spoiled kid in her first film? Her second film also starts off the same way. ‘Poor little rich girl’ wants to get away from her abundant and opulent life. Get away she does, when she is kidnapped.

From gun shot to gun shot, her performance left me flabbergasted. I was more in shock at how well she acted, how she managed to portray a deep, meaningful character, with so many layers, without saying or doing much. A few glimpses into her world and we were drawn to her story and plight in an instant. She had two very powerful, long, emotionally packed scenes, which she knocked out of the park!

Randeep Hooda, donned the character of the scruffy, unkempt captor so well, with a convincing command over the local language. He has one scene which displays his emotionally caged Mahabir, who matches Veera’s echoes of hurt and childhood suppression. She develops the Stockholm Syndrome towards Mahabir and some of his gang, perhaps as a reaction to the lack of unnecessary violence.

Cinematographer Anil Mehta has captured time and tide in sweeping montages, showing Indian landscape and highways as never seen before. The journey seems endless, yet not pointless. Director Imtiaz Ali has gifted the audience a long nurtured story, which takes you on the winding road within, as it does on screen.

A brilliant set of performances with a visual treat which puts you in a reflective state.

3.5/5

Bombay Talkies

Celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema, this film is a talented tribute by 4 directors; Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap. Four stories that cover totally different genres, social spaces, dreams, aspirations and goals. What ties them together is the string known as ‘our world of films’.

The story by each director is short, yet complete. The well written characters are played by a confident cast. Urban, rural, modern, conservative, everything is weaved in effectively with a message. As each story begins and ends, you feel you have had a balanced Indian meal, a little bit of every spice and food group, giving you complete nutrition and satisfying your palette.

There is a well shot and fitting song at the end, featuring many of our favourite actors and actresses, either through a montage of their previous work or live in the song. That was the best dessert for such a meal. A proud moment indeed for our cinema and the ones that enjoy it.

It is a time capsule worth watching.

4/5