Shakuntala Devi (2020)



Tumhari Sulu (2017)

Debut director Suresh Triveni shares a nuanced portrayal of Sulochana and Ashok’s life, with their son. Their simple existence and humble home don’t ask for reflection, just admire the art with which multiple messages are slipped into one frame.

Vidya Balan is a powerhouse of talent, proving yet again that she’s on top of her game. Very few would attempt a role like this and succeed, but she hits the ball out of the park. Her portrayal of Sulu, and her chemistry with her husband is endearing. Manav Kaul is a revelation in a meek avatar, as a doting husband and father. Their pair proves opposites attract!

Neha Dhupia as Sulu’s boss shows a vulnerable side and the rest of the supporting cast, who are perfect in their roles, move the story along with precision towards its fitting end.

The film succeeds because of its taut writing and honest emotion. The humour is real, not silly or vulgar. It was a delight to watch and deals with many prevelant issues. It exceeds all expectations!


Begum Jaan (2017)

Begum Jaan: Vidya Balan is back, in a bold and unapologetic film which speaks of a highly marginalised section of society, the oldest profession in the world.

Director Srijit Mukherji touches on many difficult issues, teaching us about the history of that era. At times the placement of the cast looks like a theatrical production, at other times the odd angles and half face shots don’t work.

The movie suffers from an inconsistent mood. Performances are ranging from average to good, with nuances into the lives and back stories of the 11 prostitutes. What could have been a stellar movie just misses the mark on leaving a lasting impression. Many scenes and instances are very intense, waking us to the realities of the time, but they are not strung together well. The censorship of language even though it is an ‘A’ rated film further weakens the impact.

The end result? A good film with many messages and a strong social stance. Stories of major influential women in Indian history are shown as montages, adding to the strength and courage of the protagonists.


Kahaani 2 (2016)

Sujoy Ghosh has written an interesting story, but it wasn’t as gripping or shocking like his first.

The story unfolds slowly, but you have glaring evidence where it’s going. That said, it was still a good watch, because he kept it short. The film has a fine cast which doesn’t become melodramatic, though there are some intense moments.

Vidya Balan is herself. Nothing out of the box or different this time round. Sometimes her performance seems ‘textbook’. Arjun Rampal is strong, while Jugal Hansraj in a special appearance is effective. The supporting cast is competent, especially the little girl.

The film is taut and simple, some alarming revelations and a selfless social message make it entertaining.


TE3N (2016)

Director Ribhu Dasgupta brings us an unusual and unique set of circumstances which lead to two kidnappings and three people who try to unravel them.

Amitabh Bachchan is a beaten old man, a grand father who is not sprightly or happy. He has one mission and will leave no stone unturned to achieve it. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a priest but has a past he doesn’t want to face. Instead he hides behind the will of God. Vidya Balan is credited as a special appearance but is pretty much present through out. She plays the cop who wants to believe but needs proof.

While the premise of the climax is understandable it’s not entirely believable. That said, it is still a good film with some moments that really make you think.


Bobby Jasoos (2014)

Vidya Balan is back in many avatars to subtly amuse and investigate the going-ons in her neighbourhood. She is a budding detective, trying to get a decent case to make her independent and tickle her skills. Her accent is adorable and her antics unpredictable.

The strength of the film lies in its simplicity. It doesn’t pretend to be anything big or dramatic, it is sincere, funny, true to its socio-economic setting with characters we can relate to.

Bobby a.k.a. Bilquis is one of 3 sisters in a conservative Muslim family in Hyderabad. A boisterous rebel, she gets a mysterious case and takes us on a short 2 hour journey in the nooks and crannies of the old city area.

She is ably supported by a host of characters; Ali Fazal, Tanvi Azmi, Kiran Kumar, Arjun Bajwa, Zarina Wahab, Rajendra Gupta, Prasad Barve and Supriya Pathak as her ever understanding mother, quite a departure from ‘Dhankorbaa’ in Ram Leela.

Debut director Samar Shaikh presents us a refreshing story that entertains in an endearing way.


Shaadi ke side effects (2014)

Sid and Trisha, played naturally by Farhan and Vidya, tell us a story not told often or well, for the Indian audience. A lot of aspects are touched upon in this film, how married couples can keep their intimate lives fresh, what changes after having a child, what women and men go through, independently and together, when they become parents.

These and many other nuances of relationships and how they evolve is shown very well on screen, with the right amount of humour and drama. It is only in the end that it becomes a little melodramatic, but they steer out of that zone quickly. How such a film would end is tricky and a very fitting conclusion prevails, where there is equality of the sexes and a twist to think about.

Director Saket Chaudhary, who made ‘Pyar ke side effects’ is back with a fun sequel in this ‘shaadi’ counterpart. Watch to be lightly entertained and come out with a balanced view of life after marriage and kids.


Mahabharat (2013)

Director Aman Khan who also made the animated film ‘Krishna’ in 2006 brings us this tale in 2013. The interesting approach was to have the character’s facial features match the actors who were doing their voiceovers. The tale is known to all, but it was compressed well to fit the 2 hour film format, covering all the highlights.

It is very expensive to make good quality animation films, and takes a lot of time. When Hollywood releases such movies, their estimated production budget can be anywhere between $100 – $150 million dollars. The aspect which suffers here is the very unfinished and amateur animation which we are forced to consume. This could very well be a rough draft brief to an animator, but alas, it is the finished product.

There will not be a market big enough for such a film, though ‘Bal Ganesh’ and ‘Ganesha’ were a rage with children. I understand why much money couldn’t be pumped into the film to give it the look it deserved. Close up shots show us major faults and lack of expressions, such important details for an epic like this.

It can be educational for children, but even the stellar voices cannot save the film for adults.


Ghanchakkar (2013)

After directing films like ‘Aamir’ and ‘No one killed Jessica’ one wonders what possessed Raj Kumar Gupta to make this film. Sometimes I thought he was bored, or had an idea for a short film which should have been made with unknown actors. Since UTV had produced his first two films, he thought they would turn this non-idea and pull crowds to the theatres with the Dirty Picture team.

A sham! A fraud! I felt cheated and barring the few forced laughs, I did not enjoy Vidya screaming. Emraan on the other hand, did a good job of what he was supposed to do. Rajesh Sharma and Namit Das lend able support, but nothing, I repeat nothing, can save this film. Save Money, Petrol Prices have just increased again!