Sacred Games (2018)

Based on Vikram Chandra’s novel, Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane capture gritty Mumbai, the gang culture and political backdrop of the time with brilliant story telling.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui narrates and acts the character of Ganesh Gaitonde with unerring ease, hypnotising audiences with his life story, and leaving us wanting more at the end of the season.

Saif Ali Khan has a role that he can finally sink his teeth into, intense, on edge with a past that is yet to be revealed.

Such a show is an ensemble effort, every actor and location adding to its grim reality. Not one character was average, everyone acted their parts authentically.

Fast paced, full of eye opening moments and well edited back stories, there is a rationale for everything and everyone. Can’t wait for season 2!

4/5

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Trapped (2017)

Director Vikramaditya Motwane makes a small budget film about an incident that becomes a big deal in Shaurya’s life.

We have all seen movies where a person or people survive in adverse conditions. But how would you stay alive on the 35th floor of an abandoned building with your personal and professional life at stake outside?

Rajkummar Rao (Shaurya) is his usual self, dependable with his own style of histrionics. We question our modern existence so much, with many ‘what would I do?’ instances. He plays the naive, to the desperate, to the forsaken to the risk taker very well.

It’s not entertaining as it is thought provoking. You definitely learn a new thing or two about survival in a city tower if nothing else.

3/5

Udta Punjab (2016)

Director Abhishek Chaubey gives us his third outing after Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya. He has written and assisted a host of other layered films. It is grim, dealing with the reality of a difficult subject by all groups involved.

I am going to breakdown the review by performances, because each one is worthy of mention. I start with Alia Bhatt. Her journey, though tragic, is full of hope for those who want to fight addiction. The makers haven’t resorted to any meaningless display. There is enough for the imagination to feel her anguish.

Shahid Kapoor is his best eccentric self. An accidental rockstar, he represents many like him, who are lost in the labyrinth of drugs. He is self obsessed and dependant, but eventually evolves. His uncle played by the talented Satish Kaushik is representative of the many adults who put a veil on the reality of their kids. He is supportive of his evolution but also of his destruction.

Kareena Kapoor Khan is refreshing in a strong character role. She has a solid attitude without any qualms or fears. It was a delight to watch her real talent being tapped without any head tossing or melodramatic gestures. She shows she is a mature actor, the face of many in the war against drugs.

New actor Diljit Dosanjh represents the vulnerable, wayward and corrupt ways of the law which have to unite in the war against drugs. The fact that anyone tried to ban or censor anything in this film is proof that the reality was being suppressed. But Truth always Triumphs.

Bravo to the producers who stuck their battle and the Supreme Court for passing it with a minor edit. The language takes a little getting used to but it isn’t there for effect. It’s the harsh truth. This could be the plight of ANY drug user in ANY state of India and all those who facilitate it and fight it.

4/5

Lootera (2013)

Director of ‘Udaan’, Vikramaditya Motwane brings us a fine, period romance, set in the 1950s. Having assisted Sanjay Leela Bhansali, you get glimpses of the aesthetics and detail which only SLB brings alive on the screen.

It is a delicate balance to make a film like this work on screen, and from the first frame onwards, the directors weaves a world, gently holding your hand, taking you along with his story. Once that is established, the story unfolds at a leisurely pace. I won’t call it slow, because it is appropriate for the period it is set in. There are dramatic and emotional high points in the film which are intense and heart wrenching.

Though I am not a fan of Sonakshi, I have to admit the girl looks the part, but more importantly does a complex role in an understated and confident manner. Ranvir Singh is in a very different avatar from his previous films, very soft spoken and restrained, which he does well.

The story is predictable but beautiful. Part of the plot is based on O’Henry’s short story ‘The Last Leaf’. The music is soft and melodious, supporting the plot well. Most times songs are part of the background and the expressions of the lead actors carry the tunes.

The locales that have been captured, the cinematography and the ‘visual story’ that runs parallel to the plot is the highlight of the film. The way the changing landscape and seasons have been presented shows the many levels this deep tale has.

Overall, it was a rich experience, definitely not for the masses. It would be like serving Creme Brulé to people who only like Jello.

3.5/5