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

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Sui Dhaaga (2018)

Director Sharat Katariya presents a simple story with hurdles for the common man who wants to achieve a dignified livelihood that resonates with him.

Mauji (Varun) and Mamta (Anushka) play a married couple caught in the routine struggles of life, when they are faced with some challenging circumstances. How they deal with them and create something they are proud of, forms the crux of the film.

The wealth of the film is in its supporting cast, ably led by the lead pair. They give the flavours required to move the narrative forward and evoke our connection with their plight. At just over 2 hours, it’s concise and authentic.

3/5

October (2018)

Shoojit Sircar has made a variety of film genres and done justice to them all. This time round, he describes a few pages of the books of various people’s lives, in a way which will seem out worldly to many who watch it.

You may never know about what happens in the film if it doesn’t happen to a close one or yourself. But now you have a chance to see how it can change a life. It’s a story where love didn’t need a label or reason or season.

Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu play 21 year olds in a management trainee program in a 5 star hotel. How their seemingly unrelated lives get enmeshed by a twist in fate weaves a deeply nuanced tale which is moved along by minute detail.

Short at 1 hour 55 minutes, it feels long because of the subject matter, but it makes you think. It’s a delicate tale which is difficult to balance, but the imagery provides much needed perspective.

A moving and introspective film.

3.5/5

Badrinath ki Dulhania (2017)

The ‘Varun-Alia’ couple are back! This time round, though it looks all song and dance, it has many ‘in your face’ messages.

While people may not agree with the story or the methods, I felt the messages were strong and relevant. It’s Jhansi, a 10th grade pass Badrinath is smitten with Vaidehi. She is not interested. But he doesn’t get that. Why? Because that’s how he has been brought up. The first of many changes which have to take place in Indian mentality.

Issues of dowry, the male child, women’s rights and respect are thrown in the face of male and societal patriarchy. Challenged by the duo in the film, though they may not seem current in the metros and larger cities, they are still prevelant in many parts of India. See this as a nudge to those people who need to stand up and fight for doing the right thing.

Peppered with some pretty song and dance, some comedy and friendly bonding, but the issues stay intact. Till the end. A great supporting cast who play their characters very well, complete the story.

It was a well made sugar coated medicine and will do its job!

3/5

Dishoom

At its best a ‘kuch bhi’ silliness, at worst a no brainer, abandon logic, zero logic flick by Rohit Dhawan, where Varun Dhawan entertains sporadically with his silly antics. John Abraham is wooden, but it serves his character well. Jacqueline is eye candy who has her promised item number. Poor Akshay Khanna is a laughable villain and Rahul Dev even more so. Akshay Kumar’s cameo steals the show.

1.5/5

ABCD 2 (2015)

An ensemble effort by a cast to present a sequel of an energetic first film. We get to see a lot of dance which is strung by a hair thin plot.

The result is an extended dance show, where we feel like judges who are to view the moves non-stop and possibly pick a favourite. My favourite? The fact that even though it was cliché, it got away by being sincere.

There isn’t much in the way of acting, but some brilliant ideas and concepts for the dance segments, and movement, of course!

A formulaic feel good film, it uses 3D to its advantage.

3/5

Badlapur (2015)

The extent of damage caused by grief is seen in this intense film which keeps catching you off guard.

Director Sriram Raghavan has gone a step further in this tale of revenge, where we see gory scenes and details and have no time to digest them.

Varun Dhawan has portrayed the character of a man that spans more than two decades, playing a care free young man, a responsible married man and the rest that follows. He has a spectrum from a ‘happy go lucky full of life guy’ to a ‘raw menacing wide eyed freak’. There is a complete transformation and an unforgiving streak which make him unpredictably scary.

Nawazzudin Siddiqui on the other hand is perhaps the anti-Varun, dealing with the proceedings in the moment. He is non chalant and unaffected. The audience was stretched to process both of them.

The film is brilliant in exposing small moments from new angles which add a rich texture to the story. An ensemble cast effort, every member has played an important part.

The climax is the best part of the film. You don’t know how you arrived there. You don’t know how things will move forward. But the Indian audience has to be spoon fed so nothing is left to the imagination.

A dark grisly tale which is a highlight in varun’s career and another feather for Nawazzudin.

3.5/5

Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania (2014)

While watching the introductory credits you realise all the new names which are associated with this project. That itself gives you a feel that you can expect something different. Debut director Shashank Khaitan has spoofed cult films, giving his venture a contemporary twist.

We have a feisty young heroine with an emotional young hero. Reversing traditional gender roles, he gives the audience a few laughs and many romantic moments. The chemistry is explosive, with appropriate music. Varun has found a niche for himself, whilst Alia continues to do what she does best. Together they are an unpredictable Jodi. Many scenes are well written with everyday language, mirroring our own individual experiences. Varun’s relationship with his dad in particular, is endearing.

Ashutosh Rana looks great on screen and Varun’s two pals, Sahil Vaid (Poplu) and Gaurav Pandey (Shonty) embody the loveable, dependable, partners-in-crime buddies we all adore. Siddharth Shukla looks every bit the way he is supposed to, but hardly gets any screen time. Overall it was entertaining and light, with just the right running time.

Fresh, crisp and fun!

3/5

Main Tera Hero (2014)

David Dhawan is back! And he offers us a 6-pack cocktail of all his popular heroes! Varun manages to go over the top and entertain, not annoy. We see shades of Govinda, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Shahid Kapoor and hams and styles of many others in this comedy caper.

While coerced love brings the twists and turns, its the one-liners and silly character traits that kept us laughing throughout. The music was good and this time round, they attached logic to some key details in the plot.

Short at 2 hours 8 minutes, it also stars Illeana D’Cruz, Nargis Fakhri and Arunoday Singh who may not be spot on with comic timing, but do a decent job. The real laughs were provided by Anupam Kher, Saurabh Shukla, Rajpal Yadav and Shakti Kapoor, when ‘Seenu’ (Varun) wasn’t up to his antics.

A fun, light watch.

3/5