Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017)

Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017)

Nothing works!

Nothing. Not SRK’s arousing looks, (yup still manages to make me swoon) not Imtiaz Ali’s desperate attempt at handling mature love, not Anushka Sharma’s accent.

It’s really tough for me to say this because the man has given us Love Aaj Kal, Jab We Met, Socha Na Tha, Tamasha, Highway and Rockstar (I liked it).
So WHY, WHAT didn’t make it work?
Was it the absence of AR Rahman’s magic? Maybe not.. the songs were decent. Way toooo many, but bearable.
Was it then, star power? Bigger the star, more the interference in the writer’s vision of telling the story?
I can’t reason.

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Character motivations are vaguely defined because of which I couldn’t gauge why Harry was so frustrated with all that pent up anger? He’s lonely, he says, and keeps thinking of Punjab. For the longest I thought there was a back story there. Harry drowns the loneliness and cynicism in women and strip clubs. He’s bruised and hurt, by what, we don’t know.
BUT WHAT IS SEJAL’S DEAL? Is she a bimbo, sly, smart, but dumb as per the writer’s convenience (She sees Harry cry.. sings an entire song with him.. then inquires ‘casually’ why he was crying.
CINEMATIC LIBERTY I GET IT!)

Sejal, who feels the excessive need to explain the meaning of her stereotypical gujju name, meets Harry, ‘a lost tour guide’ (ohohoho whattey pun) because she accidentally loses her engagement ring on the trip (where her entire fam and fiance Rupen were along with her). Rupen fights with her for losing the ring and let’s her stay back in Europe to look for the ring – there – established fiance is a dick. Okay.
BUT that isn’t good enough a reason for me to believe her asking Harry if he finds her ‘laayak’ (worthy), meaning, let’s just say it – is she fuckable, or is she ‘sister material’?
THE VERY FIRST NIGHT THEY MET WTF! hs4

But when he tells her that she isn’t like the ‘other girls’, she’s to be protected and taken care of. To which 90% of the country’s women and Sejal took offence – but obviously for completely opposite reasons.
Sejal wasn’t pissed coz Harry was being a sexist pig characterising women based on their personal choices, she was pissed coz he thinks she ain’t fuckable.

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TO WHICH, MY FAV – HE TAKES COUNTER OFFENCE COZ YEH LADKIYON KI PROBLEM KYA HAI, COMPLIMENT DO TOH BHI ATTITUDE DIKHAATI HAI..
And then starts a series of meaningless episodes of running away from goons (you guessed it right SEJAL CAUSED THE TROUBLE CUZ WOMAN WILL SHRIEK WHEN GOON YELLS AND GIVE AWAY HIDING PLACE.. COZ.. WOMAN), discussing some sweet-nothings in between and not taking hints from a tharki confessing his extremely tharki behavioural pattern.
I wonder if they were seeking to be killed by goons.

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They go on some more random ring-hunting trips, meet more comical goons, get outta situations like pros coz SRK BRO, and eventually Sejal finds the ring in the most obvious place because – yup. Brews amidst all this a lusty love affair, with the awareness that once the ring is found she’s gotta go to badass Rupen to marry the fuck outta her arranged marriage. Got it. Umm but no!

Blurring the lines of fidelity can be justified, made to be felt for if tricky love is handled maturely. Gulzar did it in the 80s with Ijaazat. Imtiaz Ali has done it in the past, then why go so wrong this time? And I don’t mean it has to be serious and melancholic, watch the second season of Master Of None, a comedian did it so beautifully!

It hurts when SRK, who’s atleast trying to make different cinema (I mean Salman who doesn’t even try and gives hits) is failing at this back-to-back. It hurts when the man who gave us those iconic moments to be cherished writes superficial characters and pointless moments, and it hurts when an actress who talks so openly about gender bias in the industry can’t see through the casual sexism.

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If you must, watch it for SRK’s sexy midriff, Anushka’s glam looks, Safar and Europe.

JHMS on IMDB

Gangster (2006)

Gangster (2006)

The purpose or the objective of writing this blog was never to criticise, thrust my taste on the reader, or in any way preach about screen-writing. The reason, however, was to communicate my feelings for a piece of art with you who connect with my thoughts and sometimes initiate a conversation.
Film watching is such a personal experience. It’s so pure and impactful, if you let it control your senses. It’s almost like praying. A good film devours your conscience and makes it its. It leaves behind an impression on you, it makes one a more refined and intellectually aware soul. And hence, making a film is such a huge responsibility.

Last night, was one such mind-stimulating night. I was sleepless, restless and my joints ached. I laid in bed wondering what I wanted to do with my life, where I wanted it to go. And such existential questions. Through theseI reached a point where I questioned myself ‘WHY AM I SUCH A LOVER OF ANURAG BASU’S STORYTELLING?’
For the ones who know me, know I’m obsessed with Life.. In a Metro. That film changed my life! It changed me. It made me want to tell stories about love and loss, and so much more. But as I turned in bed ignoring the pain, I strained my forehead to think deeper and it occurred to me that I began looking out for Basu’s work almost after my favourite show on Zee, directed by him called ‘Koshish.. Ek Aasha’. Further racking of brains got me to ‘Gangster’. The only non-SRK film whose dialogue I knew by heart.
At the age of 14!
And so, I re-watched and reminisced Gangster!

You can stop reading now. This post may or may not get long, tedious and obsessive.

shSimran (Kangana) is lonely and suicidal. She hasn’t seen Daya (Shiney) , her soulmate who is a gangster in months. She trusts Akash (Emraan) and confines into him. Akash, a singer in a bar, claims to be in love with her. Daya returns begging for another chance. Madly in love with her, he can go to any extent to make her happy. What happens next affects these 3 lives abundantly and tragically.

I was 14 when I read the tagline of the film and it stayed with me – ‘She fell in love with him when she betrayed him.’

Gangster felt a little aged to me on my 7th or 8th watch after almost 6 years. Kangana was so raw and unkempt. She’s done a great deal for herself ever since.
But without being biased, I must admit that the emotions, the pain and the tears didn’t age. I was watching the film very objectively, at first trying to avoid my joint ache. But as the songs pulled me into their world of love and melancholy, I found myself yearning for Daya with Shruti. Understanding her selfish plight to want to have a peaceful family and her trust for Akash. And, I found myself hoping for her to protect Daya against all odds.

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It was the scene when Daya sends her a letter from prison telling her he understands why she did what she had to, and gives her some money and her passport to start afresh.
That selfless love, that fucking hurt!

Dialogue writing is poetic – trademark Basu. And the most obvious scenes like finding out one’s pregnant – the casual puking and realising – has been done with newness.
Make-up was campy in places, and Emraan was annoying in parts – some dialogues were too dramatic. But overall it didn’t feel like it’s been 11 years since Gangster released.  08sl3.jpg

Watch it on Amazon Prime, if you must.

P.S: Shiney Ahuja was the finest thing that had happened to Hindi Cinema, be it Metro, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi or Gangster. Too bad whatever happened.

Gangster on IMDB

Hindi Medium (2017)

Hindi Medium (2017)

I had heard a lot of good things about the film. Of course, it has Irrfan, it has to be a smooth watch and Saba Qamar was my favorite actor, from that show on Zindagi called ‘Maat’. My mom and I used to obsess over it!
So when I watched the trailer I was excited to see her doing an Indian film. hm3.jpg

First, let me start with things that worked well, Deepak Dobriyal is so fine in the film, the only character who could move one. Irrfan’s comic timing lifts up the film to a significant level. Saba looks pretty and barring a few times she overacts, she’s decent to watch.

I can’t really get myself to reach a conclusion on whether I liked the film or detested it.
After discussing it at length, I came to understand that certain punches, or conflicts in a narrative take cinematic liberties (take us into a make believe world or exaggerate reality) but they’re limited to a few.
Or there are films/shows that create an alternate universe, or an exaggerated version of our universe. For eg: Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai has characters who are over the top judgemental, or naive, or silly respectively for the sole purpose of comic relief. I believe it when Maya Sarabhai starts insulting Monisha at the drop of a hat, because that’s the universe of the show.  hm1

What Hindi Medium does is the opposite. It tells you that our universe is actually exaggerated. The poor are kind and rich are evil. Ofcourse, they’ve used a lot of such instances for comic relief but with that they’ve jumbled up emotions ans drama as a ‘fact’ of life. Poor Deepak throws himself in front of a car to earn some bucks for his secretly rich friend Irrfan, coz poor people have big hearts.

Too much stereotyping and labeling happened by the end of the film. Saba’s character is so flawed. She literally uses her husband to get her way. She’s inconsiderate and selfish and has no arc, till somewhere in the end where the rich sponsor the poor coz they’ve seen poverty up close only to realise that paisa pairon ki dhool hai. 

If I keep aside how in your face the drama is in the film, I enjoyed Irrfan’s nonchalant personality. The kid is very cute. And some scenes are hilarious!
Don’t expect much and you’ll be entertained.

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Hindi Medium on IMDB

Rangoon (2017)

Rangoon (2017)

I crave for the mesmerising trio of Vishal Bhardwaj, Gulzar Saab and Rekha Bhardwaj on the big screen, but even their greatness couldn’t save Rangoon for me. Nope, nor did the gigantic sets, elaborate costumes and scenic locations. rangoonf-min

It’s a Vishal Bhardwaj film, so yes, expectations were high, but it’s a different kind of feeling. I, for one, *want* his films to do well. I have too much love for him and his cinema to criticise it, but as much as I tried Rangoon kept falling apart. The final blow were the last 20 mins. The movie escalated from illogical to bizarre. As much as I want to discuss the last 20 mins (because THAT bizarre) I wont, as I want you to watch the film. You may like it and show me why I should too!

The first half, the essential half, the one where you introduce characters, their motives and set the pace of the film – went by in a jiffy. Edit cuts were abrupt. There was barely any time spent with characters for me to feel for them. Can you believe it, I’m saying this about a VB film? The master of love and loss, unfortunately, couldn’t make me feel for his characters. Logic compelled me to understand what the writer wants me to feel for the character but not even once did the characters pull me into their world of love, war and deceit. I watched like an outsider.

Gandhi’s ideals, the INA’s goals, people for and against it, British India – all these concepts are simplified and explained very well. Saif Ali Khan aka Rusi is a film producer with a prosthetic hand that opens up on the press of a button. That added to Rusi. I’m glad that was thought of, because besides that very little thought was given to him. Saif, with whatever little he got to do, did a fine job. Specially in the second half, he’s evil, cunning, kind, helpless all at once.  rangoon1.jpg

Julia is the most annoying woman ever! I’m sorry, I love Kangana but her dialogue delivery was highly difficult to comprehend. Oh Julia looks gorgeous but that’s not enough. She dances weirdly, and what was sad is that she causes some serious damage to the narrative due to her stupidity. I hate it when women characters are made to do something silly, like while the goons are behind her in a chase sequence she stops to stay with her lover. I am a woman and I would have ran to save the country over a guy! Stop making women look so dumb!
The film is set on her, and she isn’t one bit likeable. 06rangoon-lead

Shahid Kapoor aka Nawaab Ali is the only man I’ve seen who makes a moustache look hot! Shahid has caught the part of being a soldier really well, he’s strong and soothing. I loved him the most. Unlike Saif’s character which is underwritten, Shahid’s character has no character of his own.

I’m going to mention a hypothetical story, you tell me if it seems weird to you too – Two people met at their work place. A boy and a girl. The boy’s job allotted by his boss- the girl’s boyfriend, is to constantly overlook the work of the girl. Obviously the girl doesn’t like him because he’s constantly on her back.
Now one day, the office goes for a picnic and this boy and girl get lost with a Japanese chef (for some reason). The girl wants to go back to her colleagues but is stuck because there’s a cake fight going on and they have to hide. The next day, the girl and boy get drunk over way too many rum balls made by the chef and start making out. The girl in a jiffy forgets that she has a boyfriend, she hated this guy 2 mins back, she met him 1 day ago. Just like that! ran3

Now Rangoon to me, felt just like this hypothetical story. It was superficial and boring.
The British guy who played the British Officer Barry delivered eye-twitching monologues in Hindi. There was no way I’d take a man seriously who spoke like that! He was so annoying that he even annoyed death and came back. He and the Japanese soldier were given way too much screen-time.

Look, I enjoyed the songs specially Bloody Hell and Yeh Ishq Hai. Sunidhi Chauhan’s cameo was cute. The acts that the troop performs to keep the crowd entertained were well done. Making of films in 1930s to the high-society parties, it all felt so vintage and classy.

But nope, I’m not buying that just because Julia does her own stunts, she’ll jump upon a fast moving train and do dangerous, out of character stunts.
Characters appear and disappear from no where.
But what got to me, was the sheer audacity with which Julia got away for her unfaithfulness. Rusi got no closure and the woman was far from apologetic.

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Watch it for the large sets, VB’s visionary India during the times of British Raj and the fascinating ways of film-making and entertainment back in the days.

Rangoon on IMDB

89th Academy Awards- My Predictions (And Winners)

89th Academy Awards- My Predictions (And Winners)

This year (2016) has been better! For me, and thankfully for the Academy Awards. There were a variety of films nominated from every walk of life. I was running behind time, and just about 5 hours before the ceremony managed to finish watching all of the major films.
Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester By The Sea have my heart!

So just like last year, here is my wishlist of Oscar predictions (P), these are the ones I really wish win. I’ll also mention the ones which won in reality.

Writing (Original Screenplay) P – Manchester By The Sea
Winner: Manchester By The Sea

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) P – Hidden Figures
Winner: Moonlight

Visual Effects P – Jungle Book
Winner: Jungle Book

Sound mixing P – Hacksaw Ridge
Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Sound editing P – Arrival
Winner: Arrival

Production Design P – Fantastic Beasts
Winner: La La Land

Film Editing P – Hacksaw Ridge
Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Direction P – Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)
Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Costume Design P – Fantastic Beasts
Winner: Fantastic Beasts

Make up P – Suicide Squad
Winner: Suicide Squad

Cinematography P – La La Land
Winner: La La Land

Animated Feature P – My Life As A Zucchini
Winner: Zootopia

Actress in a Supporting Role P – Naomi Harris (Moonlight)
Winner: Viola Davis (Fences)

Actor in a Supporting Role P – Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Actress in Leading Role P – Emma Watson (La La Land)
Winner: Emma Watson (La La Land)

Actor in Leading role P – Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Picture P – La La Land
Winner: Moonlight

This year’s Oscars was no less than a well scripted thriller with an underwhelming ending.
None the less, we’ll wait to see what happens next year.

P.S: I couldn’t write about any of these films because I realised I had to finish watching them first. I will skip them but if you’re reading this, please watch – Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, My Life As A Zucchini,  Sing (Short film), O.J: Made In America (Documentary) and Manchester By The Sea. These topped my list!

 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2016)

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2016)

I’ve been unwell on and off for the past 3 months. I brought in the new year with a chronic stomach infection because of which I couldn’t savour any of those fancy dishes my friends and family were hogging over. I was hoping to get better in 2017 but in the first month itself my health got worse. I had severe pain in my right kidney and I was admitted in a hospital. The infection had reached my kidney. The treatment is still on, but after a week I was discharged. This was day before. All I could think of on the hospital bed was all the films that have released while I’m stuck in here. The first chance I got, I went and watched a film. It had to be xXx because – Deepika Padukone.
I cannot ruin my OK Kanmani experience by watching OK Jaanu and I had watched Haraamkhor a year back at MAMI.  mv5bzgmwogmymtgtzjdhms00ndg4ltgxyzitmdcwzwfhmtrmzwywl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynza1njy5mtu-_v1_ql50_

Covered in a big fat hoodie I sat in a theatre atPVR Lower Parel eagerly waiting for Deepika Padukone’s grand Hollywood debut. She did create magic when she came onscreen but there were only few such instances. The entire film rode on Vin Diesel’s deserving shoulders.
Also, the thing I realised (not being anti-national) while watching the film is that Indians are in majority average looking. I’m smitten by Deepika, precisely because there are very few women as perfect in every aspect as her, but suddenly in Hollywood every other person’s drop dead gorgeous. I mean Ruby Rose is equally hot! So kudos to Deepika for still looking so irresistible. She’s throwing knives and kicking butts, all while being a seductress. She’s kept her Indian accent intact and hasn’t forced any Videsipan on herself, which is commendable. But there’s nothing more to her character. mv5bymnmndaxmtetnmrjmi00ytm5lwi1mzitytrlyzgynzfjoguzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynji0mjk2mtu-_v1_ql50_
She’s Vin Diesel’s love interest but she never takes decisions. If her character didn’t exist, the film would go on as is. 

Vin Diesel did a fine job! He’s cute and charming and ferocious all at once. The action scenes aren’t too monotonous or repetitive and they didn’t feel too draggy.

Same old, group of heroes save the day – insider is the culprit – find and defeat insider – save the world while you’re at it – lose a few good men – get the girl.
There’s nothing new to this story but it was done in style.

It’s a good Sunday afternoon chill scene at home.

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I really really hope Deepika bags something better for her Hollywood dreams to work out!

xXx: Return of Xander Cage on IMDB

Rock on 2 (2016)

Rock on 2 (2016)

This one’s a sequel to the 2008 super-hit Rock On!! I wish there wasn’t a part two to this film.
Rock on 2 is everything from painstakingly superficial to excruciatingly boring.
It literally is a musical version of Satyagraha

In screen-writing we’re taught to avoid  a few tools to drive a narrative. A couple of them are Voice-overs and flash-backs. Unfortunately, both are excessively and shabbily used in this film, to a point where in this one scene a stage is destroyed by some mobsters and the V/O says ‘the stage was destroyed by the mobsters and so were our dreams!’ THANK YOU VOICE-OVER I WOULDN’T HAVE GUESSED IT IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU!

Farhan Akhtar’s dialogue writing couldn’t save it. Neither could Pubali Chaudhari’s screenplay.


Shraddha Kapoor is gorgeous and a wonderful singer. Just that.
Arjun Rampal is hot! Just that.
Prachi Desai and Shahana Goswami are there only for nostalgia sake.

The film tries to say way too many things in 2 hours – leaving me disconnected with every character by the end of it. Adi (Farhan) has to resolve a number of conflicts to redeem himself – it gets exhausting.

AND WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SEXUAL TENSION BETWEEN ADI (Farhan) AND JIYA (Shraddha) THROUGHOUT THE FILM!
HE IS MARRIED, WOMAN!

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I watched Shut In a couple of days back. A weird amalgamation of horror and thriller. A weirder twist than an Abbas-Mustan film! Thought nothing could get weirder than Shut In  until I watched Rock on 2.

Save your money for Dear Zindagi I say!

Rock On 2 on IMDB