Kedarnath (2018)

I was looking forward to this film as I have always been intrigued by Kedarnath temple. Having done most pilgrimages in India, this is one I am yet to do. The devastating events in 2013 were relived with dignity and terror in equal parts, as the film showcases devotion, love and divide effectively.

One word for debutant Sara Ali Khan, Phenomenal! She clearly has the genes for acting, a complete natural, but also looks so similar to her mother Amrita Singh in many scenes. She’s feisty just like her, and has tackled a character graph in her first film with ease. She displays a range of emotions flawlessly, so much so you wonder is this really her first film. If she makes the right film choices, she’s our next Alia Bhatt.

Sushant Singh Rajput is very good in a role that demands both balance and abandon. He’s endearing as the ‘pithu’ and loves with such surrender that he wins you over. There is one particular scene where they share their vulnerabilities. I haven’t seen such depth and purity of romance in a long time. Both leads are true to their characters till the end of the film, which makes it a delight to watch.

Abhishek Kapoor has managed to walk the tightrope with success, presenting a love story within the framework of devotion and a natural disaster. The scenes depicting the floods and cloud burst are executed very well. The film is short and to the point, with excellent music and lyrics.

I really enjoyed it.

3.5/5

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M.S.Dhoni (2016)

Neeraj Pandey, director of A Wednesday, Special 26 and Baby had a daunting task attempting to make a biopic of someone so young and so loved. So he did what was commercially viable, he played safe.

The story writes itself. With such a subject matter it is easy to falter and easier to stay on course. While the film is good, it isn’t exceptional and the same can be said for the direction. It stretches in parts, especially in the second half, but not to the point that you lose interest.

You wonder how come everyone Dhoni encountered was nice, and why the story telling didn’t dwell in any controversy or grey areas. The story has its share of trials, but none that break the viewer to the point where confidence is painstakingly built back.

Performances are good across all actors. Sushant is stoic, reserved, humble and polite, all the glimpses of Dhoni we have to come to know. His family, his personal life, his friends and coaches etc, all feature great acting, but could have had better writing.

The film is mounted on a large budget, owing to the seamless morphing of Sushant’s face onto Dhoni. It’s done extremely well at the box office, and the real reason, is the true hero of the film, who makes an entry in the closing shot. Dhoni, who is grounded and looked up to by all of us, carries this film, like many matches he has won, effortlessly.

3/5 (1 for every hour 😉)

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)

Recreating mid World War 2 Calcutta was no easy task and director Dibakar Banerjee rose to this mean feat with bonus points for keeping it real and keeping us guessing.

The film solves its initial case very soon, getting into a web of deceit and far larger sabotage plans than could be imagined. A pure ensemble effort, the script and story were clearly the heroes.

Authentic sets, costumes and small nuances aside, the cast played distinct characters which lured us, confused us, shocked us and infuriated us. The maze of hits and misses results in a tame climax because that’s what it required. The gangster rap like contemporary back ground score worked brilliantly with 40’s Calcutta.

Sushant Singh Rajput does what he should, without going over the top. Anand Tiwari emotes brilliantly, whereas Neeraj Kabi gives a layered performance. Swastika Mukherjee provides the glamour and mystique of the era and Divya Menon shows us the strength of a Bengali woman.

A case that unraveled many cases and a sleuth that did justice to them all.

3.5/5

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

Shudh desi romance (2013)

Catching true ‘desi’ flavours of an ‘it’s complicated’ romance set in Jaipur, the Shudh part refers to the irony of choice and chance.

Brilliant comedy that works for many well-written scenes, it’s stringing all the scenes to make a complete story that seems to be the problem with this recipe.

The makers were smart not to have more than two songs, because that would have slowed the humour down. 

We haven’t seen very many ‘feisty and fiercely’ independent girls on screen, and Sushant had his work cut out for him, to match Parineeti and Vaani. 

The three leads play complex yet straight forward, romantic yet detached, caught in the moment and doubting the moment so well, that you can’t help but relate to them. Rishi Kapoor is hilarious, bringing an Anu Kapoor Vicky Donor quality to the story, and the four of them provide comedic situations galore!

The writing may get some flak, so will the end, but I felt it’s justified. What matters most is that you could laugh and yet empathise with ALL of them.

Watch without a bathroom break!

3/5