MAMI 2017 – LIST OF FILMS I WATCHED

MAMI 2017 – LIST OF FILMS I WATCHED

I’ve had a super tied up week, I’ve shifted to the other end of the city, Diwali preps were on my head (mom is over-enthu), then there’s work ANNDDD my favourite annual festival MAMI. Unfortunately this year I couldn’t catch films everyday. But I made up for the loss, over the weekend. Watched around 10 films over Saturday and Sunday and tried catching one movie per day, on weekdays. I’ll quickly leave their names here and what I thought of them in brief.

Remember, irrespective of  taste and preference movies deserve to be watched and judged only and only by the one who has watched it. As I always say movie-watching is an intimate and highly subjective affair. You know best what you’ll end up liking, but here are all the films I watched in order of my preference, from the least to most favourite.

 

The Hungry – Campy, OTT and a waste of some brilliant actors.

Kaccha Limbu – Based on a Marathi novel, it’s a good attempt but again extremely exxagerated performances and story-telling.

Sweet Country – Period Western film. Great plot but excruciatingly slow.

The Square – A satirical comment on how the elitist see the poor, in a bizarre humorous manner. But it fell apart pretty soon after setting up a kick-ass premise.

I Am Not a Witch – A satirical take on superstitions. It’s layered with dark humor, some might like it more than me.

Thelma – A unique concept about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality, faith and much more. Started out differently and took a different turn but very gripping none the less.

Most Beautiful Island – Ana Asensio wrote, directed and acted in this film about the struggles of an immigrant in the States. It was nerve-wrecking and nail-biting in parts, I wish she had indulged more once the suspense is revealed. Should be watched though.

It Comes at Night – Gripping. Thrilling. Scary. I’m a sucker for horrors and thrillers so I’m being a little biased.

Killing Ground – I loved the non-linear narrative. A good thriller. Cold yet satisfying.

Ask the Sexpert  – This one was a special experience because this was the only docu I was able to catch and Dr. Mahindra Vatsa came in after the film for a QnA.
It’s a brilliantly made documentary over 4 years, it’s hilarious and shows both sides of the argument thoroughly.

Redoubtable – Listen! A film about Godard with Woody Allen-ish treatment, who’d wanna miss it? It’s satirical, humorous and gives so much insight into the person that Godard was. One of the most entertaining films I watched.

Loveless – Piercing. A beautiful story about a bickering couple who team up to find their missing child. Through long shots and longer pauses, I was forced to feel the pain of separation. Don’t wanna give away much, but you must watch this one.

Mother!  – What the fuck did I just watch!? Aronofsky makes Black Swan look like child’s play in front of this one. Please watch, your mind will be blown.

April’s Daughters – Extremely unsettling and bizarrely entertaining, this one’s one twisted story. It’s my fourth favourite film for a reason!

Bad Lucky Goat – This one has a very simple narrative and a sweet plot line. Maybe because I’d say stories like these, I loved it so much. There’s beauty in simplicity and Bad Lucky Goat is a beautiful film.

The Florida Project – Sean Baker’s film-making journey all the way till this film is heart-warming. Read up if you can. Florida Project has the most endearing characters that break stereotypes and urge you to look deeper into the part of the society that we judge way too easily. It’s a heart-warming story of a badass mother-daughter duo.

Last Flag Flying – Yes! I’m a huge Linklater fan. No, I’m not partial towards this film because of him. Last Flag Flying has some brilliant performances, a simple yet gripping story line and mind-blowing scenes and dialogue. From politics, to race to alcohol to virginity, you name it and it’s been discussed in the most entertaining manner in the film. What a delight!

 

So these are my most and least favourite movies. If you read up on them you’ll know that some of the ones I didn’t like much are critically acclaimed or have high ratings, so don’t really go by my judgement. I have biases towards human everyday stories so I end up enjoying them more. But I hope you do try and catch atleast a few from these. How I’d love to hear from you!

P.S: I finished Mindhunter today and I won’t be exaggerating if I told you it’s my most favourite show, in a long long time.

 

 

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Dunkirk

FeaturedDunkirk

I have such weird mixed feelings about this film that I was almost bailing out, but since I haven’t updated anything in a long long time I must go ahead.
Firstly, life has been chaotic. In a positive way, hopefully. Apologies for being MIA.

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Okay.. Dunkirk. Um.. to be honest, I’m not a Nolan worshipper. I have nothing against him, I mean I’m not a blind-mindblown-obsessive-Nolan-fan like most people I know. So my take is going to be fair. Subjective, but fair. I have really liked his previous work but I’m not one of those who’d wait to go watch his films FDFS in IMAX 2D ONLY. You get the gist.

The battle of Dunkirk was an evacuation war fought mainly between France and England against Nazi Germany. The entire film is based in the 1940s focusing on this evacuation process through the sea.

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What follows are some thrilling moments of fear, love and deep angst. Brothers willing to go to any extent for survival. One’ll get to witness some intensely gripping war tactics. Fighter planes, sinking ships, men lost – all in the name of war!

Nolan’s films are known for their larger than life cinematic visuals. This one too doesn’t fail to captivate all of one’s senses.  d4

Background score by Hans Zimmer was hands down the best thing about this film!
The film does get slow in places but remains engaging none the less.
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The beauty of the film is its subtle non-linear narrative, which keeps one asking for more.

Not one of his strongest but I’m glad I know now about the glorious Battle of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk on IMDB

Birthday Blues

I’ve been awfully lazy, relatively busy (thankfully) and amidst all this binging on movies – here the worst part comes – I still haven’t updated my blog.  I apologise to me and you, and promise to be less lazy and more efficient this year.

This year?

I turned 25 on May 29th. I’m dreading my ’29 and 29th’. But I was also dreading my 25th. Mainly because like all of us do, I too began comparing my years of achievements with my age index. As if it’s a math solution, a tried and tested formula.
I was extremely low on the day, mainly because, I was older and felt the public gaze filled with expectations and disappointment stare right through my soul. My mother told me at my age she had had my sister, my friend’s mom told me that it’s high time to marry now. My boss told me that aww I’m still a baby. But it was I who told me things that affected the most.

I began pondering over how that 15 year old Sainee imagined a 25 year old Sainee to be.
She thought she’d be a super successful criminal psychologist (was obsessed with Maya Dolas) or a Vet , she’d be married to SRK (but in a platonic kinda way), she’d be loaded and would shop at the drop of a hat. She’d have boys all around her but she’d break their hearts instead of getting hers broken.

10 years since then, she grew up to understand that she wanted to write instead. She secretly loved acting but because the society judged one so heavily on their looks and body type, a then, overweight Sainee chose not to mention it.
She realised that money is a tough commodity to have and once you have it it’s tougher to let go. Plus, she isn’t a big fan of shopping.
And more often than not heartbreak isn’t in one’s control.

So to me and you, if you’re older and worried that you’re not wiser. If you ‘still’ hate your job, or ‘still’ don’t have one. If you’re ‘still’ acting stupid in your relationship and if you’re ‘still’ making up your mind whether or not you want that career option, or that dress or that piece of cake.

There is no such thing as a ‘still’. Because there’s no age limit and time limit to learn and grow and to suck and fail.

I’m going to promise myself on my 25th that I won’t compare my life with someone else’s. We’re all going through our own individual journeys and it’s silly to compare two completely parallel journeys with one another. Besides, who decides what achievement is the parameter of ‘achieving it all’. What’s that ‘all’ anyway?
The more we achieve, the more we want. I’m not asking to not want, I’m an overly ambitious girl too, but 25 isn’t too late, or too early. It’s just another year gone. Just time passing. *repeats to herself*

I’m going to run behind happiness and if my happiness is success, or lots of money or a rickshaw wallah not refusing to take me to my destination, I’ll have arrived!
One day at a time.

We’re all special. Despite of what the society says.
Hang in there and keep at it.

Age indeed is just a number.

 

 

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Moving on, here are the films I watched and you must too –

Angamaly Diaries (2017) (You’ll have the time and hunger pangs of your life)

Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017) (Hated and loved by equal people, I was in the latter group, ob)

A Death in the Gunj (2017) (It’ll leave you with a pit in the gut)

Chi Va Chi Sau Ka (2017) (Great scene writing.  Complete family entertainer!)

 

Thirteen Reasons Why..

Thirteen Reasons Why, is a show on Netflix, adapted from a book of the same name by Jay Asher.

This show isn’t for the weak. You know why? Because contrary to popular belief suicide isn’t a tool of the weak or ‘an act of cowardice’ as people fondly like to comment, while they casually turn their heads around to the unbearable pain one is feeling.

A couple of weeks ago, Arjun Bhardwaj, 24, jumped off the 19th floor of Taj Lands after recording a video ‘5 steps to commit suicide’. The steps were pretty simple – Drink enough to get high to get through it, write notes for your loved ones “because you don’t wanna leave just like that”, Eat, but that’s optional, and so on.
He said, “See you on the other side” moments before he jumped. He was casual about it. As if he were so sure that there wasn’t any way out of it. The pain of death seemed the least painful to him that moment.

And to Hannah too!

Arjun was mocked on social media (post his death), called names, ‘a privileged drug abuser’, ‘He had a room in Taj what could he be possibly going through?’, ‘Attention seeker’, ‘Loser’, ‘Coward’ – it didn’t stop here – some were happy that a coward like him isn’t breathing anymore. Because, of course, committing suicide is for the ‘weak’. Right.

If you’ve watched the 13th episode, you may recall, on her way to the post office Hannah bumps into someone from her poetry class who tells her they miss her at the poetry sessions and they even wrote a poem about how much they miss her – here, Hannah had a friend to help her – but by the time this help reached her she had made up her mind. An act of the weak, to be so strong willed? I think not.

You’ll say everyone goes through what she went through in her teen life, no shit, we have our own ways of bullying, fat shaming, slut shaming in India too. I’ve had a tough college life myself. I hailed from a modest school, I entered this big world where people watched what you wear, where you go, whom you kiss. I fucked up way too many times and I wasn’t spared. Although, I loved my years in college, a part of me couldn’t wait to get out and start afresh. Away from the tags, the name calling, the boys who were assholes to me, but I was slut shamed instead – and you know who shamed me more than others? My own mind! My morals and my principals, which were so different from how I was being perceived.
You say Hannah could’ve moved on? No she couldn’t. And she shouldn’t. She should fight! But she needs us to do that. She needs to speak to us and we need to trust her.  She has the right to be heard without being objectified and judged. Or rather, had.

Just to think how many people I must’ve hurt. How many of them probably in some way or the other asked for my help and I shut them out, thinking they’ll ‘move on’. How many friends I have judged and called names.
But you know, to be extremely honest, I don’t know how much of that concern stems from ‘wanting to help’ and how much of it comes from ‘I hope I’m not on their tapes.’
And that’s what’s fucked up with us humans. We offer help but we keep the best advice for ourselves. And it’s never enough. Sure, Hannah was depressed, a series of things didn’t work out for her and she didn’t have it in her to pull through. But your explanation that she’s weak, is not enough. We, as a society, are a bunch of depressed people trying to pull one another down fearing that if we don’t then the world will be a better place to live in.

Clay sent out that picture of Tyler to get back at him for what he did to Hannah and how’d it end? A bully is afraid of being bullied too. A bully also, as they call it ‘has a weak heart.’

I’m sure Arjun didn’t jump off Taj to make a fashion statement. To show other people wanting to end it, that, this is how you go in style! Insensitive much? Go see the ton of haters on social media shaming him for being depressed. I don’t know what happened to Arjun, why he didn’t wish to live but he didn’t have help, he couldn’t find it at the right time. Sure, he did drugs but these are means to pull through for longer, the issue is deeper. We’d know if we’d ask, instead of judging from afar.

Hannah went to the Counsellor, she went to her parents, she went to Clay – what’d she get in return? I know, I’m not blaming these people for not identifying her pain. We’re all in pain, we’re all going through shit. Her parents had to fight business competition. Clay’s massive ego blinded him to see her sadness and the counsellor was a judgemental male who thought he’d seen enough teens have consensual sex and call it assault, so the best thing to do was to move on. Hannah was bent and broke, one episode at a time.
Yes, she was touchy and sensitive and she cared a bit too much. So what?
Instead of asking the likes of Hannah to move on, instead of shaming an unhappy boy, why don’t we start being good to others instead? Why can’t we be kind?

I took home a great lesson from ‘A death in the Gunj’ when I watched it recently. Intellectuals stood outside nodding their genius heads, congratulating Konkana Sen Sharma on being a wonderful story teller. Some more nodding. Discussing how great the film is (which it is) and ‘moving on.’
The film talks about depression, and the act of kindness, that we all unanimously lack. WE do. I do. I lost a friend at 21, he was my classmate. He didn’t end his life, he incurred a fatal illness when we were 19. I wasn’t there for him. Maybe in the beginning, for a while. But I wasn’t there for him. I meet his mother now, I justify it to myself that I was going through a ton of my own shit, I was just 19 – scared and confused. And I ‘move on.’ But I hate that I do. When my friend was breathing his last, his mother tells me, he looked at her with a certainty that he won’t wake up and he seemed content, he seemed happy about the last few breaths he was taking.

He was going to a better world. I believe him.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with mild clinical depression. I wasn’t suicidal, because I am weak. I’ve been asked questions like ‘Are you depressed, did you break up? It’ll go away in a few months.’ I stopped telling others after this incident. I didn’t share it with my family, friends, colleagues. I knew no one would understand. Because I look ‘normal’. We all do. And we shouldn’t. Because we’re not!
A number of things hit you hard and you just can’t bear it any longer.
Break up was a heavy player in my life, but when I look back it started many years ago. Every male gaze, every stare, every comment, every failed attempt, every snide remark on being fat, every rejection, every replacement – it all built and built and added to a pile on my shoulders that was way too heavy to carry.
I applaud the ones who bounce back, but some don’t. I couldn’t. And I feel no shame in saying I couldn’t. Do I deserve to die then? Am I asking for it? I think not!
I think it’s time to blame others. It’s time to say sorry for your actions. Just how Clay said, ‘we could’ve saved Hannah.’

I thankfully found support within my family and things got much better. It’s a great feeling to bounce back, something Arjun couldn’t experience.

So here’s this small thing I wanna do (small because I don’t know how many people would read this), if you want to talk, just random stuff, you wanna break away from your routine, make a friend. Here’s my email id – sainee1@yahoo.com

I’m here to listen and share. No judgements.

I want to do my thing to make this world a better place to live in.

Help me?

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Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man (2016)

I intentionally skipped this one at MAMI this year. Everyone said it’ll release eventually, but it didn’t. Yesterday, I finally chanced upon this film.
I’m somehwhere between ‘Leave me alone, can’t talk right now’ and ‘WHAT DID I JUST WATCH!’

I’m mindblown!

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Swiss Army Man touches layers and layers of the human psyche. Your deep, hidden worries about life and death and being lonely and living like a loser – the worse, dying like one. A hopeless Hank (Paul ) meets Manny  (Daniel), the dead body, while he’s stranded on a deserted island and is about to commit suicide. In the first few minutes, you’re convinced Manny is dead. A plethora of questions start hoarding your head. Where is this story going to head?
Oh man! It heads on this surreal journey where Manny, the multi-purpose-tool- dead body, gives Hank’s existence a meaning.

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The beauty of this film is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. When I look at it from the POV of society, I see a manic depressed, hallucinating because of lack of food and energy, slipping towards necrophilia?
But when I see it the way Hank sees it, it’s pure and unreal. It’s beauty in its rawest form.
And I prefer to see it the way Hank does!

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Man-O-man! Daniel Radcliffe is a dream to watch! He’s picked up the nuances of a corpse SO WELL! He’s surpassed any great performance of his from the past. He isn’t a tad bit Harry. You won’t even think of that. All you’ll know and see is Manny. Manny who has absurd special powers, my favourite being where he uses his bodily gases to ski in the ocean.

sa4Paul Dano is always a treat to watch! He’s your unconventional guy. The one who could easily suit the role of a lost, beaten down young guy. The challenge for him was to deliver beyond that image. He’s nailed it to perfection. Paul made me laugh, cry and feel so so so much for him.

My favourite moment of it all was when this girl he’s been in love with for a long time, but has no guts to confront, asks him, what is her photo doing as his phone’s wallpaper?
He says, with utmost honesty, ‘I was sad, and you looked so happy.’

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Swiss Army Man is easily amongst my top 10 favourite movies of all time!
It’s delightful and it’s deep and touching, and it’s gross in parts too. Each time I re-watch it, it’ll have a new meaning for me I’m sure.

Written and Directed by Dan Kwan (as Daniel Kwan) and Daniel Scheinert, don’t miss out on this experience.
Too many Daniels have killed it in this one. 

Swiss Army Man on IMDB

Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight (2016)

Divided in three chapters, Moonlight portrays the internal and external struggle of an African-American man living in Miami, through different stages. Chiron goes by the name of ‘Little’ when he’s young mainly because of his lanky body and low self-esteem. Conflicted and lost within he finds comfort in Jaun played by Mahershala Ali who is a drug dealer. Chiron is stuck between his addict mother and his bully classmates.
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With every step, every moment spent quietly in the bath-tub, every word he chooses not to speak; one can feel the pit in his stomach. All the 3 actors who play this character have picked it up right where the previous one left. He grows up a lost and scared teenager. With no friends except Theresa to talk to, who is disliked by his own mother.
In Chp 3, Chiron or Black, is a drug dealer who’s heart is still back home where he left it last. 

mv5bzmy3y2zimwqtzdhlmy00nmzjltgyowmtmzqxm2uzztnkmzlll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndgwndg1nzq-_v1_ql50_sy1000_sx1600_al_What stayed with me post watching this film was the kindness with which Chiron’s sexuality is handled by Director Barry Jenkins and writers Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film gets slow at some points, sometimes too slow but it picks up efficiently.
Dialogue writing works wonders! There are some extremely innocent and hard-hitting scenes, my favourite is the one where Chiron and his friend Kevin have a moment sitting on the beach smoking a J, slowly allowing each other to open up, knowing deep down that being gay is mocked by their neighbourhood but giving in despite of all that. mv5bodayzdg4zwitn2q1mi00mmiyltk4zdytyzbknmflngm2nzexl2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndgwndg1nzq-_v1_ql50_sy1000_sx1600_al_

Chiron builds himself from scratch to fit in. But his heart belongs elsewhere. My heart melted when he so vulnerably confesses to Kevin that he’s never touched another man. His longing, his pain, his journey is so touching and genuine. Not a moment felt disconnected or forced.

Moonlight has been nominated for 8 Oscars and I’m totally hoping that Naomie Harris gets one for her effortless performance. 

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So here’s a confession (I’m not homophobic) –

Last year was an overdose of LGBT movies with (wonderful) films like Carol, Pride, Danish Girl, Aligarh, Tangerine, Girlhood, Don’t Call Me Son etc, one needed a change. But Moonlight felt so different. Love here is treated like love, barring all societal permissions. It felt unadulterated and it didn’t need any justification or upliftment. It needed only self-approval.
Apart from dealing with one’s sexuality, Moonlight also touches sensitive layers of mental health, brittle self-esteem and depression.

Take out time and watch Moonlight. Savour it. Slowly.

Moonlight on IMDB

Raees (2017)

Raees (2017)

This is the first time that I read a number of reviews before posting my opinion here. Majorly because I really liked the film, and I wanted to know if there were any valid points to make me dislike the film. Let me assure you, there aren’t any.
Firstly, anyone who hasn’t written a feature length script, or gone through the challenges of directing and producing a film, keeping in mind all the possible hindrances that come along the way, one – however reliable, shouldn’t hold any weight-age in our minds when we’re deciding whether or not to go watch a film.

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Let me begin by saying, Raees isn’t a perfect film but it is a good film.  It even gets very good in parts. But you don’t have to believe me either. Believe yourself by watching it!
I personally hate it when people thrust their opinions on others and ask others to ‘not watch a movie’ because ‘they didn’t like it’. Movie watching is subjective, so don’t let any critic play you. Please.

I, unfortunately missed the first 5 mins of the film which was a flashback into Raees’s childhood. When I saw Raees all grown up, I saw this Gujju-Mumv5bzjlmy2q1mdetytfjmc00zdmwlwi5njetm2qxzjg1zjkxndlll2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjq2mjq5nzm-_v1_ql50_sy1000_cr005571000_al_slim bootlegger who is hungry to make it big in Gujarat. SRK (after long) has delivered a fine, fine performance. He’s scary and sexy, all at once.
There are debates on whether he being a negative character should be glamorised and called the ‘hero’. I read them all and then tossed them into a bin. Life was simpler when Baazigar and Darr released. We watched a wicked Vicky Malhotra throw his girlfriend off a roof and still wished he got justice for his dead father. Why? Because it is a god damn film. It’s entertaining because it is supposed to entertain.

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Yes, Raees could’ve been very different, perhaps more intense and less campy but I can’t deny that I also was thoroughly entertained watching Sunny Leone do a Shimmi.
If we had to see a mundane or morose story, we’d peep into our own lives. Why’d we spend our hard earned money if we can’t feel larger than life? mv5bogjizwu2ndqtzgrkni00m2ixltkxzjgtm2u2zja0ytm0zgi5l2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm1njkwmdi-_v1_ql50_

Mahira Khan is cute and acts only when needed.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is fire! He surrounds and captivates like no other. His entry scene is the best that has been written. He isn’t there a lot but when he is, he owns the scene. He’s playing a workaholic, rigid, unintentionally hilarious cop who is at loggerheads with Raees.
Raees, played by Shah Rukh Khan is a fearless bootlegger who believes (and explains dramatically) that no work is big or small as long as you don’t hurt others. He goes on doing his illegal business of selling alcohol to Gujarat (which his moral metre doesn’t call ‘hurting people’), he hurts the bad guys aka whoever comes in his way (but only in self defence.)
He jumps over terraces, climbs up lampposts and even though he’s such a big guy, he prefers catching them traitors all by himself. Why not! Raees is an extra-ordinary man living in ordinary circumstances. Now, although the chase sequences were way too many and unnecessary and the songs were boring (except Laila) the film wavered and yet held itself together because of a strong base. Which brings me to the writers. mv5bngvmotg1mmetotqxmc00nwuzltgwy2etnmuxmjizmdblnmvkl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm1njkwmdi-_v1_ql50_

Now, I am nobody to comment specifically, but studying and writing my own has taught me a bit about writing scenes, dialogue, character building etc. I can now unfortunately catch certain writing issues. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I would’ve loved a lot more movies to a greater extent had these things not played in my head.

Robert Mckee, in his screen-writing book ‘Story’ has mentioned the skill of using objects to add subtext to the narrative. More the subtext, more the connection and better the film!
Raees got me there. Rahul DholakiaHarit MehtaNiraj Shukla and Ashish Vashi have used objects from a match-box to a carom board to a kite to even spectacles – for the impact!
It wasn’t the story but the scene writing that elevated the narrative for me.
If I had to nitpick, the background score that gushed in each time after Raees said a whistle-worthy dialogue got a bit annoying. But somehow on exactly those moments the entire theatre clapped and hooted for that man, and just like that I too joined them.
Let a movie devour you, with its shortcomings. Unless, it is as unbearable as Hamari Adhuri Kahaani , then walk out. mv5bytdmmwm3otqtmwi5yy00ytm1ltlmzditmwixzjyznzy1yjqyl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm1njkwmdi-_v1_ql50_

Raees  is a good attempt at a decent film.Watch it for flawless Nawaz, for the ‘actor’ SRK, for some big actors doing cameos, and for the beautifully captured Gujarat.

Raees on IMDB