Jayeshbhai Jordaar (2022)

Advertisement

Gully Boy (2019)

Zoya Akhtar grows from strength to strength, presenting Dharavi in a way which we have never seen before. She makes a complete film, which has everything one can hope for.

Ranveer Singh shows us that he’s an ever evolving artist. We don’t know what he will grow into next, but every act, every effort, every film, is different. This time round, a demure introvert Murad has a story, a voice, which needs to be heard. And we all sat on the edge of our seats, rooting for him, and his humble talent while he discovered himself.

Alia Bhatt is a fiesty, crafty, intelligent Safeena, who knows what she wants and will do whatever it takes to achieve it. Their chemistry is palpable, and her inadvertent comic timing is perfect.

Siddhant Chaturvedi, who plays MC Sher, is a wonderful friend, mentor and guide to Murad, selflessly helping talent. The film wouldn’t work without the supporting cast, friends, family members, rappers, Kalki Koechlin, who have their own share in Murad’s journey.

The beauty of the film lies in its balance. In the way rap has been woven into thought, at times sublime like poetry and at others like ammunition for a comeback. Either way, the film is pure art, and presented so, unapologetically.

Not many films make me nostalgic, but this one did, for Mumbai, it’s struggles, the gift that it is, and the possibilities that lie there.

This film should be watched in every gully, suburb, town, city, village and country! #TeraTimeAaGaya

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

Befikre (2016)

Befikre: Aditya Chopra has made a frivolous, silly film where he fails to create romance. He establishes the ‘Frenchness’ of the movie, and you accept it, hoping he will stick to it. But he, like the film, can’t make up his mind, so the audience is subjected to a volley of baseless proceedings.

Cliche. That’s the word I would use to describe my experience. 90 minutes into the movie, I was hoping something, anything would redeem it. But it went further downhill. The film has been directed with careless abandon, much like its name. Kissing incessantly does not equal love, romance or even intimacy. Using the backdrop of Paris it was shoved down our throats but even the Eiffel Tower couldn’t turn the scene.

Ranveer Singh is his usual self. High on energy, good performance, a natural. But the story doesn’t back him up. Vaani Kapoor has difficulty emoting, which makes her look uncomfortable on screen. That is successfully transferred to the audience. Poorly etched and written, they did their best in a script which only demands patience.

I dare you to watch this film. (Ironically a pun you will understand only after you see it. But don’t tell me you were not warned).

1.5/5

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…

Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

It’s holiday time and the destination is ‘human relationships’. The ever falling and rising of the waves and changing landscapes mirror the complex weave of the Mehra family, who take us on a cruise which turns inward.

At 170 minutes it prepares you for the long haul but it doesn’t seem so. You have a back ground score which relaxes the tension, you have characters which are developed to a depth and breadth rarely seen and you have an adorable narrator.

Having played Ranveer’s beau in Gunday, Priyanka has beautifully transitioned as his sibling in this film. Not only is she sensitive and understated but powerful as well. Ranveer plays the young under achiever with abandon, while Anil Kapoor the male chauvinist and Shefali his silently suffering, Delhi society wife. The family is a reflection of a typical wealthy North Indian set up, but there is much more substance. Not about designer wear or artificial projection of wealth, but classy, elegant and focusing on the issues that lie within.

We have Farhan, Anushka, Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab providing able support, amongst a host of other characters. But it is the story and writing (by Zoya, Farhan and Javed Akhtar) that deserves special mention. From tense to chill out to comedy to love, they excel in all (pun intended).

The feelings of love are rekindled, romance is handled in a fresh light. Vulnerability is shown differently and so is the breakdown of relationships and the consequent mending. Nothing seems forced or farcical, it’s real family drama which you get to witness at a leisurely but not boring pace.

The film is rich visually, sweeping views which are breathtaking. Director Zoya Akhtar should take a bow for handling such a complex drama, while presenting it lightly and giving ample development to all her key characters and making the film about the contemporary family.

The one shot ‘gallan goodiyaan’ song is my favourite 🙂

4/5

Gunday (2014)

A strong back story which starts with the creation of Bangladesh, shows us two young boys who are dealing with the consequences of being hungry refugees. How they survive and grow to be  proud powerful goons in the 80s, forms the riveting beginning. Bikram and Bala, acted in true 70’s style, by Ranveer & Arjun, exude excellent camaraderie on screen. Gunday is almost everything a period film should be in today’s age.

Priyanka plays a sexy cabaret dancer, who is wooed by both young men. Irrfan represents the law that is having a good time chasing them, more for the audience’s benefit than his own, rather than just arresting them. The first half goes by with entertaining amongst some over acting. The second half becomes more hamming, but still manages to retain the mood.

After an unnecessary song, shot ‘a la dil tu hi bata’ from Krrish 3, I was wondering what is Priyanka doing in the film besides looking stunning. She later established exactly why, in one powerful scene. The complications continue and have been given a fitting end, incorporating cow boy, Italian mafia, dramatic Bollywood cinema, all-in-one.

A ‘paisa vasool’ flick, stylised and shot well by director Ali Abbas Zafar.

3/5 

Ram Leela (2013)

Guns blazing, Gujarati swear words, a 500 year old animosity of two warring sides and of course what blossoms between all this is: LOVE. An Eccentric, Sexual and Mad drama unfolds.

Not Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s (SLB) traditional film making style, he has stepped well out of his comfort zone of ‘tender love stories’, ‘social protocol’, ‘clear and slow progression’, ‘witty and U-rated dialogue’. Here the pace is fast, the language is harsh, many times lined with crass double meaning. Violence which was missing in most of his films is not only present but not easy to watch at times.

SLB is an unforgiving perfectionist. In the past we have seen beautiful sets and locations, which exude a dominant colour palette with undying symmetry. This time round, there is imperfection, a myriad of colours and an aesthetic sense that makes a scene alive without the feeling that you are watching a perfect set. He has done the music as well, and the songs are as always filled with metaphors, a visual treat to watch with some difficult dance moves. His direction makes all this seem as part and parcel of the film, but for once the story, songs or sets don’t dominate, its the acting of the 3 main characters that steals the show. We start with number 3:

Ranveer Singh is a director’s actor. He has manifested on screen what the director wanted him to, but somehow doesn’t seem man enough or strong enough to match up to his co-star, who seems to be wearing the pants. He is ‘supporting’ his female lead, a phenomenon which is usually the other way round.

Supriya Pathak Kapur is a spectrum of talent. To play Hansa Parekh in Khichdi and Dhankoraba ‘Baa’ in this film, you see the same eyes soften you in one, and terrify you in the other. Her restraint and explosions in the same sentence show you not only the character but her acting diversity.

Deepika Padukone has not grown as an actor. She has leaped to the moon. Her 4th big release this year (Race 2, YJHD, Chennai Express) she is the raw, sensual, hopeless in love energy which SLB has managed to capture on screen. You can’t take your attention off her expression, dance and threateningly seductive voice and body language.

A Ram Leela is traditionally performed on the street for all to see. Here as well, the story takes place in front of people at most times, for them to witness the tragedy.  This film is a tribute to the over the top rendition of India’s most famous story, with an ‘Adult’ SLB twist. An appropriate credit to Romeo & Juliet has been given right at the beginning, so either dance the dance while you watch Ram Leela or curse Shakespeare until it is over.

3.5/5