Movie Review: 1921

Movie Review: 1921

Horror can never go out of fashion, despite the fact that many horror films in recent times like DOBAARA, RAAZ REBOOT, THE FINAL EXIT, MONA DARLING, ALONE etc haven’t done well. Vikram Bhatt, the horror expert of Bollywood, who made several scare fests in the past has now come up with 1921, as a follow up to the 1920 franchise. So does he manage to give a chill down the spine this time? Or does he fail in giving audiences a scare? Let’s analyse.

1921 deals with a couple’s battle with extreme paranormal activities created by a ruthless and cursed spirit. Ayush (Karan Kundra) is from Mumbai (then Bombay) who plays the piano really well. The kind hearted and rich Wadia (Vikram Bhatt) tells him to go to the city of York in United Kingdom to learn music. He offers to sponsor Ayush’s fees and in return he has to be the caretaker of Wadia Manor in York. Ayush hence goes to UK. In the mansion, he starts having piano sessions where listeners are asked to pay him if they wish. Wadia’s niece Mehar finds out about it and confronts Ayush. A scared Ayush begs her for forgiveness. She asks for a private piano session and attempts to seduce him. In the ensuing madness, Mehar is accidentally killed. Ayush is petrified as an evil spirit starts to haunt him. At this point, he learns about Rose (Zareen Khan) who can communicate with the dead. He asks for her help and Rose readily agrees as Ayush’s music has helped her heal old wounds. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

1921 comes at a time when audiences have in a way seen it all when it comes to stereotypical horror films. Vikram Bhatt himself has made several such flicks and in that aspect, 1921 doesn’t offer anything new. Few sequences do give a scare but that’s about it. The romantic track is lackluster and sans any sizzle. There comes a point in the first half when Ayush reveals the truth to Rose by writing a letter and Rose too shares things about her life to Karan in a letter. This bit is quite nice and also the intermission point that raises curiosity. But things go downhill in the second half.

Vikram Bhatt’s story is intriguing till the point that all the cards are not laid out on the table. Once that happens, it turns out to be disappointing as it gets too complex after a point. Vikram Bhatt, Tanya Pathak and Esha Desai’s screenplay is routine and nothing extraordinary. Vikram Bhatt’s dialogues are filmy as always. Vikram Bhatt’s direction is ordinary and doesn’t bring any novel value. The horror bit is underwhelming. Even the masses, for whom the film is primarily targeted, will give it thumbs down as even they have been watching Hollywood horror films in dubbed versions and they are much ahead than a film like 1921.

Zareen Khan gives a fine performance and gets a chance to display her acting prowess. She is in much better form here than in her last release, AKSAR 2. Karan Kundrra gets a bit over the top but has a good screen presence. The actor playing Nafisa leaves a mark. The actor playing Vasudha and Dina Shaw do a good job. Vikram Bhatt is strictly okay in the cameo.

Harish Sagane’s music is disappointing. Music plays an important part in the film as Ayush is shown as a reputed performer. Also his music heals Rose. But the songs don’t do justice to this aspect. ‘Sunn Le Zara’ and ‘Aanewale Kal’ are a bit memorable. The rest – ‘Kuch Iss Tarah’, ‘Yaara’ and ‘Tere Bin’ are forgettable. Sangeet and Siddharth Haldipur’s background score is dramatic.

Prakash Kutty’s cinematography is alright. Kuldip Mehan’s editing is tacky. Iain Andrews’s production design brings alive the bygone era. The film is shot in some beautiful locales but using the same location again and again takes away the sheen and brings to the fore the low budget element of the film.

On the whole, 1921 is a routine horror drama that offers nothing new. At the box office, it may find some audience during the weekend but later on, it will find it difficult to sustain.

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Movie Review: Kaalakaandi

Movie Review: Kaalakaandi

The maximum city Mumbai is unique and unlike any other metropolis in India. The manner in which people of different strata of society have no choice but to interact with each other and have a symbiotic association is a part of the city’s DNA. DELHI BELLY writer Akshat Verma’s directorial debut KAALAKAANDI attempts to throw light on this aspect of Mumbai but in a quirky way. So does it manage to entertain or prove to be a disappointment? Let’s analyse.

KAALAKAANDI is the story of how people from diverse backgrounds converge in one maddening night in Mumbai. Rileen (Saif Ali Khan) finds out that he’s suffering from stomach cancer and that he has only a few days to live. Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) is dating Zubin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) and has a flight to catch. She goes to meet Ayesha (Shenaz Treasury) as it’s her birthday. They meet in a club and sadly there is a raid by cops. Tara realises that she’ll get late for the flight thanks to the raid and subsequent investigation and makes a daring plan to escape. Waris (Deepak Dobriyal) and Amjad (Vijay Raaz) work for the dreaded gangster Raza (Asif Basra). They make a plan to get rich overnight by deceiving Raza. Angad (Akshay Oberoi) is Rileen’s brother who is getting married the same night to Neha (Amyra Dastur). He gets a call from his ex-girlfriend Selina (Amanda Rosario). She tells him that she is in Mumbai and wants to meet him immediately. Angad immediately agrees. How all these tracks make an impact on the lives of the characters that night forms the rest of the film.

KAALAKAANDI’s first half is quite interesting and funny. The characters are introduced neatly and director Akshat Verma handles the multiple tracks well. Saif Ali Khan’s track takes the cake as it’s hilarious and brings the house down. The manner in which he starts hallucinating is very well done. Shockingly things go downhill thereafter. The film stops being funny and gets boring. Tara-Zubin’s track ends on a sweet note but this is not something we expect in such a film. Waris-Amjad’s track goes out of control and difficult to comprehend especially the way it ends.

Akshat Verma’s story is promising to an extent but then goes haywire. The plot had the potential to be the next 99, SHOR IN THE CITY and even DELHI BELLY but sadly the writer fails to do so. Akshat Verma’s screenplay is engaging till the first half but then doesn’t engross. Akshat Verma’s dialogues are funny and witty, especially the ones mouthed by Saif Ali Khan and Shenaz Treasury. Akshat Verma’s direction is fine for a debutant. But with such a poor script, there’s little he could do to salvage.

Saif Ali Khan is the best thing about the film. He delivers a crazy performance and it turns out to be the sole novelty factor about the film. Akshay Oberoi is sincere and gives a decent performance. Sobhita Dhulipala handles her difficult part quite well. Kunaal Roy Kapur is fair and raises laughs in his entry sequence. Deepak Dobriyal gets to shine but Vijay Raaz doesn’t get much scope. Shenaz Treasury is hot and raises laughs. Shivam Patil (Jehangir) leaves a mark in the Emraan Hashmi sequence. Nary Singh (Sheila) is quite an endearing character and does very well. Amyra Dastur is cute but is hardly there. Asif Basra is menacing. Neil Bhoopalam (Ustad) plays a unique character, unlike anything he has done in the past but has limited screen time. Isha Talwar (Rakhi) gives a good performance but one wonders why she is clicking pictures all the time.

Sameer Uddin’s music is nothing great. ‘Swagpur Ka Chaudhary’ is slightly memorable while ‘Kaala Doreya’ is forgettable. Background score however is funky.

Himman Dhamija’s cinematography is neat. Nidhi Rungta’s production design is authentic. Shan Mohammed’s editing should have been slicker. VFX is terrific, especially in the scenes where Saif is hallucinating.

On the whole, KAALAKAANDI has a promising first half but goes completely downhill. At the box office, it has slim chances of becoming commercially successful.

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Movie Review: Mukkabaaz

Movie Review: Mukkabaaz

Over the last few years, we have had several films on sports [CHAK DE INDIA, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG, MARY KOM, M.S. DHONI: THE UNTOLD STORY, DANGAL, SULTAN, SAALA KHADOOS] and most of them have been fairly successful at the box office and have been loved as well. These flicks also tackled several issues apart from showcasing the sports element. But not a single film has talked about how sports is often taken up by people to get a stable government job. Anurag Kashyap’s latest outing MUKKABAAZ talks about this aspect and several other issues faced by people in present-day India. So does it manage to make a great impact or tank? Let’s analyse.

MUKKABAAZ is the story of a lower caste youth who faces innumerable hurdles when he falls in love with a girl from a higher caste. Shravan (Vineet Kumar Singh) is a low caste boxer in Bareilly who falls for Sunaina Mishra (Zoya Hussain). Sunaina however is the sister of the local goon Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Sheirgill) who vehemently disapproves of this match not just because of the caste disparity but also because Shravan had assaulted him once. Bhagwan Das is a powerful authority in the boxing federation and he ensures that Shravan never gets selected for the district championship. Shravan then goes to Varanasi and trains under Sanjay Kumar (Ravi Kishan). He is desperate to win so that he can get a job in the railways and thereby also ask Sunaina’s hand in marriage. This obviously is not going to be easy and moreover, Bhagwan Das has still not forgotten the humiliation of being assaulted by Shravan. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

The first thing that one notices is that MUKKABAAZ doesn’t seem like a typical Anurag Kashyap film at all. This is in fact his most commercial film till date. The film is replete with clapworthy dialogues and action scenes. At the same time, the film talks about a lot of issues plaguing the society. The caste hierarchy that forms the backbone of the society in rural areas is well presented. On the flipside, the film is too long at almost 150 minutes. The execution is scattered at places and scenes don’t play out in a flow. This coupled with the fact that songs start playing every few minutes at a lot of places doesn’t make the desired impact.

Anudeep Singh’s story is beaten to death especially the hero-villain track. However Anurag Kashyap, Vineet Kumar Singh, Mukti Singh Srinet, K D Satyam, Ranjan Chandel and Prasoon Mishra’s screenplay ensures that one doesn’t get a déjà vu of similar action and sport films in the past. Their dialogues are witty and acidic, making the right impact.

Anurag Kashyap’s direction is not his best as he fails a bit at several places in keeping the flow organic. A few scenes start and end incoherently. Also it’s brave of him to speak about beef related lynchings. But he keeps it extremely subtle and doesn’t even use the word ‘cow’. Hence, those who aren’t acquainted with these shocking incidents won’t understand properly what’s going on. But on the positive side, some sequence are handled deftly like the scene where Sanjay Kumar and Bhagwan Das meet for the first time, Shravan threatening his railway boss, the very last scene etc.

Vineet Kumar Singh has delivered some great performances in films like GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, UGLY etc. But here he gets to play the main lead and rocks the show. He looks dashing and has worked hard on his body and also he gets the emotional quotient right. One of his most memorable scenes is when he’s blasting his father. Notice how he starts with being sarcastic and then suddenly tears come into his eyes. Zoya Hussain doesn’t speak at all and communicates merely through sign language. She masters it very well and even otherwise, she does very well. Jimmy Sheirgill is quite great in the villainous role. His eyes do a lot of talking and that’s quite a feat. Ravi Kishan (Sanjay Kumar) has a late entry but plays the crucial part with panache. Shree Dhar Dubey (Gopal Tiwari) makes his presence felt. Rajesh Tailang (Shravan’s father Vijay) is fair. Other actors who leave a mark are the ones who play Sunaina’s parents, Shravan’s sister, the cop and the junior coach. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is alright in a song.

There are far too many songs and most are forgettable. Also they are placed in such a way that one won’t be able to recall them. ‘Paintra’ sounds great but it’s relegated to the background and the dialogue overlaps during this track. ‘Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye’ is the best of the lot and serves as a theme song. ‘Haathapai’ is interesting while ‘Chhipkali’ and ‘Saade Teen Baje’ leave some impact. Prashant Pillai’s background score is much better and dramatic and elevates the impact.

Shazia Zahid Iqbal’s production design is authentic. Rajeev Ravi, Shanker Raman, Jai L Patel and Jayesh Nair’s cinematography is gritty and also neat, as per the demands of the sequence. Aarti Bajaj and Ankit Bidyadhar’s editing could have been slicker and smooth. Vikram Dahiya and Sunil Rodriguez’s action is a highlight of the film.

On the whole, MUKKABAAZ is Anurag Kashyap’s massiest film till date. It scores thanks to the performances, dialogues, action and some well executed sequences. But the long length, incoherent direction combined with a low buzz plays spoilsport and would surely affect the prospects of the film at the ticket window.

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Movie Review: Jumanji – Welcome to The Jungle (English)

Movie Review: Jumanji – Welcome to The Jungle (English)

Jumanji Welcome to The Jungle (English) review images

Back in 1995, we saw the release of the Robin Williams film JUMANJI. The film which was an adaptation of the 1981 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg went on to become somewhat of a classic with fans across the world. Now decades later, we see the release of a standalone sequel of the film that features Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale. But will the new age film live up to expectations or will it, like so many other recreations, be a washout is the question.

Titled JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, the film follows four high school kids who after being sent to detention, discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. Once in the game, the four discover that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever, to be played by others without break.

First off, being a standalone sequel to the 1995 film JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE sees a paradigm shift in how the game is played. Unlike the previous film that featured a board game, the new version of the film sees the game being adapted to suit gaming sensibilities of 1996 with Jumanji now featuring as a console based game. But it isn’t just the mode of playing that has changed. In fact, along with it, so have the visuals and story line evolved incorporating new age filmmaking and storytelling abilities. This massive change from the previous film gives JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE plenty of space to work within to provide viewers with a celluloid adventure in the heart of the jungle. Though at first, audiences who have watched the Robin Williams film will be sceptical, the makers of the new film have done a great job in developing a sequel of sorts, while at the same time not affecting the original.

However, given the fact that the film resides firmly within the genre of action, adventure and comedy a sore thought that pops to mind is that most of the gags and comic elements might be disclosed in the trailers, leaving next to nothing new in the final film. But in the case of JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, it comes as a surprise to see that while the trailers of the film have been quite entertaining, the makers of the film have retained enough meat and comic element in the film that will keep the viewer engrossed. Screenplay writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers with assistance from Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner have done a good job of interweaving the thrill of a jungle adventure with well-timed humour and ample doses of slapstick comedy. Similarly, director Jake Kasdan has done a tremendous job of developing the new version of JUMANJI into something that is light and entertaining. Unlike the previous film that featured a rather dark time travelling angle, the new one is much lighter making for an easy viewing experience for kids. Another high point for Kasdan is the way he has managed to tell the story of JUMANJI while simultaneously adapting it to resemble the format that a level based video game follows. This not only makes the film compartmentalized with each section featuring its own high points, but it also gives the audience a new adventure to witness as the segments progress.


Coming to the acting, with a cast comprising of Dwayne Johnson as the nerdy hunk Dr Bravestone, Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon, Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar, and Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, one does not realty expect performances that are worthy of being nominated for awards. However, given the storyline and the humour element in the film, there is plenty of space for ham-acting that makes for an entertaining watch. In fact, in more instances than one, the kind of over the top hamming is a mandate that adds to the overall humour element. With that said, another point that needs to be mentioned is, though humourous, most of the comic element in the film surrounds Jack Black’s character that has undergone a sex change from being a self-centred bimbet in real life to a fat middle aged man in the game. However, despite this, the cast has performed well in their given roles managing to entertain while keeping the audiences in their seat.

Another major advantage for the new JUMANJI film is the advancement in technology and filmmaking capabilities that have greatly enhanced the viewing experience. Thanks to this, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE features some top grade visual effects and CGI that are seamlessly merged with the live action sequences. From the rolling jungle tree tops to the high octane chase sequences and of course the massive animal stampede, the CGI sequences are well developed.

On the whole, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE features a well-adapted storyline and screenplay that has been more than decently directed thus making for a fun watch. With well-timed humour combined with slapstick comedy, the film is certainly worth a watch.

However, at the Indian box office, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE will grow with word of mouth, as the latest Salman Khan flick TIGER ZINDA HAI continues to enjoy massive support from the audience.

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Movie Review: Tiger Zinda Hai is a high-octane masala entertainer

Movie Review: Tiger Zinda Hai is a high-octane masala entertainer


The festive season and the year-end is around the corner and it’s usually a time when a big, event film hits the theatres. This year it’s the turn of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif starrer TIGER ZINDA HAI and it has a lot of factors going in its favour. Apart from being the sequel of the blockbuster EK THA TIGER [2012], the film boasts of an excellent star cast, slick, action-packed trailer and chartbuster music. So does the year end on a high with TIGER ZINDA HAI? Or does the film disappoint? Let’s analyse.

TIGER ZINDA HAI is the story of an Indian and Pakistani spy coming together for a greater cause. Tiger (Salman Khan) and Zoya (Katrina Kaif) escape from the clutches of ISI and RAW and then they start living an idyllic life somewhere in the snow-covered ranges of Europe. Meanwhile in Ikrit, Iraq, Abu Usman (Sajjad Delafrooz) emerges as the head of ISC which turns into the world’s richest and the most dangerous terrorist organization. The Americans are angry and they launch an attack on Abu and his convoy, and it injures Abu. At the same time, a group of 40 nurses – 25 Indian and 15 Pakistani – are heading to the hospital where they work. Abu’s men force the nurses to take an injured Abu with them for immediate treatment. They also take over the hospital and keep the nurses as hostage. The Americans then decide to launch an airstrike on the hospital within 7 days. Hence, the Indians have just a week to rescue the nurses. Infiltrating into the high security ISC region is next to impossible. The senior officer of RAW, Shenoy (Girish Karnad) suggests that Tiger should be called in as he’s the only one who can successfully complete this mission. Tiger is found and he takes up the job. How Tiger manages to infiltrate the ISC area and rescue the nurses forms the rest of the film.

TIGER ZINDA HAI begins on an engaging note with the sequence of James Forward (Tyler Gowardhan). It very well establishes the terror unleashed by Abu Usman. Tiger’s entry as expected is clapworthy and will be greeted with seetis and taalis. The entire wolf sequence is akin to international standards and it truly makes you feel that Hindi cinema has indeed come of age. An unexpected bit in the film is of the marital problems faced by Tiger and Zoya. Of course, the fun enhances once Tiger reaches Iraq and makes a plan to get to the hospital. The introduction of Firdaus (Paresh Rawal) adds to the fun. The market sequence before the intermission point is quite extended but also highly entertaining. The fun continues in the second half but the pace drops a bit here. Also, the film gets a bit unconvincing which could have been avoided. Tiger and his team didn’t seem that injured that they had to be rushed to the hospital – they could have been easily treated in the refinery itself. Perhaps the makers should have shown them extremely wounded maybe. Moreover, the manner in which Zoya and Firdous convince the Americans to side with them and also Zoya commanding the Americans is difficult to digest. The narrative gets scattered in the middle, however the film picks pace in the last 30 minutes. But thankfully, the positive outweigh the negatives easily. The climax is again quite lengthy but it’s brilliantly done and gives audiences their money’s worth.

Neelesh Misra and Ali Abbas Zafar’s story is a great blend of emotions, action, romance, humour and also patriotism. At the same time, it serves as a nice, organic sequel to EK THA TIGER and that’s definitely praiseworthy. Ali Abbas Zafar’s screenplay is highly engaging. Ali Abbas Zafar’s dialogues are simple but highly effective. The English dialogues are used at a lot of places but again, these are simple ones and the scenes are scripted and directed in such a way that even if one doesn’t understand English well or reads the subtitles, one can still comprehend what’s going on. Ali Abbas Zafar’s direction has a mass appeal and at the same time, he ensures that the film looks like a class product. He establishes the world and characters in no time and gets going with the story instantly. The romantic bit between Tiger and Zoya is also well depicted. One of the most interesting aspects is the entire India-Pakistan angle and it’s sure to leave audiences smiling and even in tears at some places. A very brilliant message of peace is given in this flick and that’s sure to be appreciated!

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Talking of performances, Salman Khan delivers a terrific performance yet again. Salman is the lifeline, the real treasure of Tiger Zinda Hai. He sinks his teeth into the character and, in several sequences, peels off the mask of superstardom and brings the actor to the fore. At many places, he underplays his part which goes very well with his spy act. Also, his interaction with his family is a delight to watch. Salman disappointed audiences in TUBELIGHT but in TIGER ZINDA HAI, he compensates for it very well and audiences are sure to enjoy his performance. Katrina Kaif thankfully is not an arm candy. She has a very crucial part and even she gets to be a part of clapworthy action scenes! She looks like a million bucks in the song ‘Dil Diyan Gallan’ and also seems quite cool in the action avatar. Sajjad Delafrooz pitches in a remarkable performance and plays his villainous part very well. The film would not have been half as successful if he had given a shaky performance. His face, body language and poise give a clear message that he means business. Watch his confrontations with Salman – the good versus evil clash is truly brilliant. Paresh Rawal is terrific and he’s sure to be remembered for a long time for his performance. He also contributes to the laughter quotient. Angad Bedi (Navin) is fine and shows his worth in the climax scene. Kumud Mishra (Rakesh) essays an interesting character with élan. Paresh Pahuja (Azaan Akbar) leaves a mark despite lesser screen time. Child actors Jineet Rath (Hassan) and Sartaaj Kakkar (Junior) have important parts to play and do very well. Girish Karnad is as usual while Anant Vidhaat (Karan), who did a good job in SULTAN, gives a credible performance. Anupriya Goenkar (Poorna) gets the most scope among the nurses and she shines. The rest of the characters do a fine job.

Tiger Zinda Hai has several strengths: An engaging storyline as well as an enthralling screenplay that’s powered with clap-trap dialogue.

Vishal-Shekhar’s music is melodious and well woven into the script. ‘Dil Diyan Gallan’ is very sweet and endearing. ‘Tera Noor’ is the best picturized song of the film and it’s great that such a song is used in such a contrasting situation. ‘Swag Se Swagat’ is a chartbuster and played in the end credits. ‘Zinda Hai’ and ‘Daata Tu’ are missing from the film but no complaints! Julius Packiam’s background score is dramatic and exhilarating and raises the tempo of the film.

Marcin Laskawiec’s cinematography is captivating and gives the film an international feel. Rameshwar S Bhagat’s editing is simple and at places, slick. Tom Struthers’s action is not too gory and would be loved by the masses. Rajnish Hedao’s production design is very authentic. Same goes for YFX’s VFX (Yash Raj Films’ VFX department) – it will serve as a benchmark for Indian films from now on! Alvira Khan Agnihotri, Ashley Rebello and Leepakshi Ellawadi’s costumes are also quite real and very well researched.

On the whole, TIGER ZINDA HAI is a high-octane masala entertainer that stays true to its genre and delivers what it promises: King-sized entertainment. At the box office, the audiences will give the film an epic ‘swagat’ as it is bound to entertain them thoroughly. This one is a SURE SHOT BLOCKBUSTER and nothing can stop it from setting new records. Get ready for the Tsunami at the Box Office.

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Movie Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi (English)

Movie Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi (English)

Star Wars The Last Jed review image

Making a sci-fi film of late has become considerably easier with the advancements in technology. However developing a script and story that truly redefines the genre and holds the viewer in rapture is something that only a few have perfected. This week’s release STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI that comes as the eighth instalment in the epic Star Wars franchise boasts of both these aspects, good visuals coupled with a good script and story. But will the film that already enjoys a massive cult like fan following set new benchmarks at the Indian box office is the question we analyze.

Before we start, since STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is a continuation in a long line of films, there will definitely be throwback references to the previous films, so just in case you think of taking the time to watch this part without an inkling of the previous, you will be left with unanswered questions. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI starts off with the Resistance led by Princess Leia on the run from the First Order that have taken over the galaxy. In a bit to expand their reach across the galaxy, The First Order under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke and his lieutenants Kylo Ren and General Hux, have all but obliterated the existence of the Resistance. In the meantime, Rey who had set out on a quest to find Luke Skywalker and being him back to lead the resistance finds the Jedi master who has long since cut himself from the force. Will Rey manage to convince Luke Skywalker to return to the Resistance and fight against the first order? Will Kylo Ren surmount his inner turmoil and become a worthy heir to the Darth Vader mantle? Will the Resistance be vanquished leaving the tyrannical First Order to rule unopposed are some of the questions the film answers.

Much like the previous films in the series, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI boasts of some of the best cinematography that leaves viewers agape. Coupled with this, the seamless visual effects (VFX) and well developed characters, tight script and good screenplay work magic on the big screen. Right from the start, the viewer is transported to the galaxy the previous films have developed, the expanse of the void where the intergalactic battle plays out is awe inspiring, just like the foliage and real world locations that have been used in the film. Though the first half of the film does come across as a bit slow in pace, the happenings on screen do keep you hooked. However, post the interval the pace of the film picks up greatly with light saber battles and of course a grand revelation that Rey happens across. It is here, in the second half of the film where characters that have been laid out in the first come into play. Adding another layer to the film is the lineage it comes from, with the multitude of characters who in this final hour assemble to restore the balance.

Talking about performances, the cast is impeccable right from Daisy Ridley as Rey to Benicio del Toro who is there in a rather limited role as the Master Code Breaker. While Ridley has evolved quite a bit since her last outing as Rey in the franchise, her evolution is plainly visible in the way she handles her mantle and deals with the situations. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren wasn’t quite appreciated in the previous film, however in The Last Jedi, Driver has more than managed to fill the void left behind by Darth Vader, and emerges as a worthy successor.  Mark Hammil, Oscar Isaac and Carrie Fischer as Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron and Princess Leia do a perfect job with their characters. Similarly, John Boyega as Finn, the deserting Stormtrooper, does a stellar job of being the accidental hero who wears his heart on his sleeve.

With the cast putting up stellar performances all around, the scripting and story of the film are left with a major onus of being able to keep up. Rian Johnson and George Lucas who have written and developed the characters of the film prove to be more than capable of interweaving each character’s story line with the main subject. In fact, the flawless progression of the story despite the slow moments and the interspersed comic element (which could have been better) make for a wholesome watch. Director Rian Johnson has done a marvellous job of capturing the galactic adventure on a large scale and assisting him with an impeccable background score is John Williams. Interestingly, the background score of the film merges well with the onscreen progressions transporting the viewer into the Star Wars world, while at the same time building up the tempo for a hair-raising climax.

On the whole, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI that aims to please sci-fi fans and of course Star Wars fans across the world could well be termed as one of the new age classics or at least one of the best sequels ever made. However, the lengthy run time of 2 hours 32 minutes might act as a spoiler, but the feeling of grandeur and thrill that one witnesses more than makes up for it.

In the end, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is an intergalactic saga that is definitely a must watch. Being the only major release of the week and given the huge popularity of the franchise, the film should well at the Indian box office.

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Movie Review: Fukrey Returns

Movie Review: Fukrey Returns


FUKREY in 2013 came sans much noise but emerged as a sleeper hit thanks to its quirky writing, the lovable Delhi vibe and engaging execution. Hence, it was no surprise that FUKREY RETURNS was announced and it’s interesting that the same star cast has been retained. So does FUKREY RETURNS manage to be as good as or better than its predecessor? Or does it pale in comparison and fails in its endeavour? Let’s analyse.

FUKREY RETURNS tells the story of the Fukras and the madness that ensues after their arch nemesis comes out from jail. One year after getting Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadha) arrested, the gang of boys – Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Choocha (Varun Sharma), Zafar (Ali Fazal) and Lali (Manjot Singh) are enjoying their time. But all hell breaks loose as Bholi is released from prison. She wants to avenge the humiliation that she had to face thanks to the Fukras and hence she compels them to be a part of an illegal initiative that involves conning the entire city of Delhi. How it leads to major problems and how the boys come out it forms the rest of the film.

FUKREY RETURNS begins on a great note as the opening credits are well done and sets the mood for the film. The dream sequence that follows is hilarious. The film moves swiftly as there was no need for character introduction since viewers are already acquainted with them. One expects fireworks (pun intended) after Bholi attacks the boys with crackers. But the plan of conning Delhiites is not properly explained and moreover, it moves too quickly. The plan is too silly and anyone could guess that it’s bound to fail. As a result, the convincing factor is not there despite the fact that logic is not to be taken seriously in this series. Moreover, all characters in FUKREY had some role to play in the film. In FUKREY RETURNS however, many characters don’t have much to do. Varun Sharma steals the limelight and Ali Fazal shockingly has very little to do. As for Priya Anand and Vishakha Singh, the lesser said, the better. Thankfully, the film has lot of positives. The one liners are hilarious. At several places, scenes are very well executed. The film picks up well in the second half and the climax is quite intriguing.

Vipul Vig’s story is wafer-thin and takes the same formula used in FUKREY. Vipul Vig’s screenplay however is nice and the quirkiness is added well in the script. It could have been however a bit simpler in the first half in the lottery scam sequence. Vipul Vig’s dialogues are one of the highpoints and are sure to get lot of applause and whistles. Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s direction is in the same space as part 1 and works for most of the film. Even FUKREY had logic kept on backseat but the director had balanced it well by ensuring that it didn’t get too unconvincing for its genre. But in FUKREY RETURNS, few scenes get too illogical. For instance, the way the boys used to hang out in Delhi zoo despite being closed and even play with tiger’s cub is silly but thankfully later on, this aspect has a connection in the film. Also, this is a clean film that can be enjoyed by the entire family. That definitely gives FUKREY RETURNS a bigger appeal.

Talking of performances, Varun Sharma takes the cake. He has a bigger and more important role and he rocks the show! Few scenes didn’t have relevance to the principle plot but still one won’t have complaints as Varun brings the house down. For instance, the sequence where Varun meets his date in the zoo and then the scene where he says how his father acquired him. Pulkit Samrat is decent and performs ably. Despite Varun, he manages to maintain a strong position. Ali Fazal gets sidelined although he gives a genuine performance. Manjot Singh is lovely and does raise laughs at places. Richa Chadha yet again gives a powerhouse performance. She is enjoying playing the badass Bholi and it shows. And there’s a surprise in store for audiences in the climax with regards to Bholi that will surely be loved! Pankaj Tripathi (Pandit) has a crucial role and contributes to the laughter. Since the release of FUKREY, Pankaj has become quite popular and in regard, he doesn’t disappoint as his screen time is quite a lot. Rajiv Gupta (Babulal Bhatia) is too good in the villainous role. Priya Anand (Priya) is cute and sadly doesn’t get much scope. Vishakha Singh (Neetu) is okay in the cameo. The actors playing the Chief Minister and Priya’s father are decent.

The songs don’t serve much purpose. ‘Mehbooba’ is foot tapping while ‘Tu Mera Bhai Nahi Hai’ is relegated to the background. ‘Ishq De Fanniyar’ is missing from the film and ‘Peh Gaya Khalara’ is played in the end credits. Sameer Uddin’s background score is impressive.

Andre Menezes’s cinematography is neat. Manohar Verma’s action is real and not over the top. Mayur Sharma’s production design is top notch. Dev Rao Jadhav’s editing is simple. The VFX is brilliant, especially in the tiger scene.

On the whole, FUKREY RETURNS is a fun, clean film that works despite the illogical and slightly unconvincing plot. With no other significant Hindi movie in theatres around, FUKREY RETURNS definitely has a chance of excelling at the box office.

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Movie Review: Tera Intezaar

Movie Review: Tera Intezaar


While a horde of films of Sunny Leone released in 2016 like MASTIZAADE, ONE NIGHT STAND, BEIIMAAN LOVE, in 2017 the actress was often spotted only in special dance numbers in some popular films. However, this time around, resuming her role as a lead actress, Sunny Leone is expected to scorch the screens with Arbaaz Khan in TERA INTEZAAR. With a new pairing on board, let’s find out if the film manages to entice the audience or not.

The story revolves around Raunak [Sunny Leone] who is on a desperate hunt for the love of her life Veer [Arbaaz Khan] who has been missing from two days. In a bid to find him, Raunak comes across a form of an exorcist [Sudha Chandran] who is referred to her by her sister and brother-in-law [Hanif Noyda]. Raunak goes on to reveal all the details about her story to the exorcist, about how she came across Veer who is a painter and had made her painting even before she met him. As they fall in love amidst beachy locations, Raunak being a gallery owner who also organizes exhibitions, expresses her desire to exhibit Veer’s paintings to the world. To crack a deal she sets up his meeting with her gallery’s permanent clients Vikram [Arya Babbar] who does business with his partners who are his girlfriend Alina [Bhani Singh] and Bobby [Salil Ankola]. Veer, who doesn’t want his work to be misused, quite reluctantly decides to show one of his works to the business partners headed by Vikram but this only leads to further drama in Raunak’s life. A sudden attack by the partners, who become greedy to acquire all of Veer’s works that are apparently worth millions, leaves Raunak unconscious after which Veer goes missing. The rest of the film revolves around Raunak’s desperate attempt to find the truth behind Veer’s mysterious disappearance and also the disappearance of Vikram and his business partners.

With scenic locations as a backdrop for musicals and the sexy scenes of Sunny Leone, the story written by Anwarullah Khan is too dishevelled. While the screenplay written by Raajeev Walia in the first half is haphazard, the second half looks half-baked. The editing [again by Raajeev Walia] ruins the experience of watching the film as many scenes seem disconnected from each other. In an attempt to show two parallel tracks simultaneously, one where the four business partners are stranded in a jungle where they encounter bizarre experiences, and on the other, Sunny Leone aimlessly running and roaming around the streets, the scenes fail to establish a connection within the first half hour leaving one extremely confused. Although the makers attempted to create a good amount of suspense in the plot, they have failed to retain logic in the story. The film also deals with a few supernatural elements and a series of twists that forms the climax. But it just seems unbelievable and has multiple loopholes.

The direction [Raajeev Walia] fails to impress. The titillating scenes are few and fail to ignite the required romance on screen. They look forced in a desperate attempt to act as a crowd puller. The dialogues aren’t impactful and are unintentionally funny. The film also tries to switch between genres ranging from love story to action to horror but fails to hook you to the story.

Talking about performances, the main leads Arbaaz Khan and Sunny Leone try their best but fail to portray any chemistry. Sunny Leone’s performance is decent and she does a fair job considering that the role is quite different from her previous films. Arbaaz Khan too manages to do a decent job but his character is quite blurry. Arya Babbar, Bhani Singh and other actors seem to be a part of ‘ham-fest’ whereas Sudha Chandran’s role in the film seems to have taken a cue or two from her daily drama TV soaps.

Not giving out too many details, TERA INTEZAAR that tries to be a love story is set against the backdrop of ‘supernatural’ elements and hence has also tried to make use of VFX. It fails however miserably to say the least. The cinematography by Johny Lal is strictly average.

Probably the only saving grace for TERA INTEZAAR are few of its romantic tracks. While ‘Mehfooz’ falls in the usual romantic genre and retains the soft music feel that seems to be the current flavour of the generation, ‘Abhagi Piya’ and‘Khali Khali Dil’ too add to the soothing atmosphere. However, the Punjabi flavoured dance number ‘I am a sexy Barbie girl’ is devoid of Sunny Leone’s usual charm.

On the whole, TERA INTEZAAR has a jumbled plotline that lacks logic and fails to establish any connect. It neither succeeds in telling a supernatural story nor does it manage to act as a quintessential love story. At the box office, the film will struggle to survive.

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Firangi Movie Review: Fails to leave a lasting impression

Firangi Movie Review: Fails to leave a lasting impression


Making a period film that is set in the pre-independence era is no easy task. Recreating the mannerisms, setting, costume and prevalent atmosphere of that time is a feat which if done well, turns out to be a visual spectacle. With FIRANGI, debutant director Rajiev Dhingra attempts just that. But will the film that stars Television’s funny man Kapil Sharma entice the audience or will it like so many other period dramas be lost in the history, is what we analyse.

FIRANGI starts off with a voice over by the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, who details the settings and atmosphere of the pre-independence era and India’s fight for freedom. At the same time, the narrative describes the setting of the quaint little town where the film’s lead protagonist Manga (Kapil Sharma) lives. From there on, the film follows Manga’s struggle to land a job within the police for the British forces where he fails repeatedly. However, Manga has one special gift; he is able to rectify any spinal ailment with just a kick. This special ability lands Manga the much elusive job with a local British officer Mark Daniel (Edward Sonnenblick). However, unfortunately due to his new job, his marriage proposal to a neighbouring village girl Sargi (Ishita Dutta) gets rejected since he is now classified as a British slave. Making matters worse, the local king, Raja Inderveer Singh (Kumud Mishra) is intent on usurping the village land where Sargi lives, to set up a liquor factory in partnership with Mark Daniel. As part of this plan to usurp the village land, both Raja Inderveer and Mark Daniel come up with a plan to gain the land with rightful consent of the villagers, by tricking them. Manga, whose love also lives in the same village, tries his best to appeal to his master to save the land. However matters go from bad to worse with Manga getting stuck smack in the middle of the unintentional mess. Will Manga save the village land? Will he marry the love of his life Sargi? Or will the British officer Daniel and Raja Inderveer be successful is what forms the rest of the film.

Starting off the film is slow, and meanders along without any semblance of a story or plot line. For almost the first hour of the movie, the camera simply follows Kapil Sharma’s character Manga as he goes about his ordinary life. It is only towards the interval where things begin to pick up with a story being formed as the relation between the various characters shown on the screen in the first hour come in contact with each other and a sinister plot evolves. However, though the film begins to pick pace post the interval, the onscreen proceedings slow down again drastically. With long drawn out sequences and a placid screenplay, FIRANGI becomes a drag. However, it does manage to perk up again towards the last half hour. Coupled with this, the lack of catchy music, weak writing, screenplay that goes all over, and most importantly the lack of comic element greatly diminishes the film’s appeal.

Talking about direction, debutante director Rajiev Dhingra seems to be heavily inspired by Aamir Khan’s LAGAAN. From the film’s main plot points, its presentation, the storyline, and narration using Amitabh Bachchan’s voice before the start and at the climax, FIRANGI in many places seems eerily similar to the Aamir Khan starrer. Though Rajiev Dhingra does decent for a debutante director, one wishes that he had worked on the script harder and reduced the length of the film, especially in the first half.

Coming to the performances, Kapil Sharma does not do what he is known for. He doesn’t play a comic character; instead he is very serious and intense in the film. Audiences who will venture into the theatres expecting TV’s funny man to be at his best will be sorely disappointed to see him offer almost no humor in his film. On the other hand, Kapil’s romantic scenes with Ishita Dutta are highly intense at times. In fact, in certain areas his performance comes across as more intense than even Shah Rukh Khan’s romantic moments, but this may not necessarily work in his favour and may backfire on him. The lead actress of FIRANGI, Ishita Dutta, on the other hand, doesn’t get much scope in the film. She has a small part in the first half and is completely missing from the second half of the film, only to emerge during the climax scene. With little to no dialogues and meagre screen time, Dutta’s role is virtually non-existent. However, Monica Gill gets a slightly meatier role in the film and does a decent job. But her British accent with a sudden desi twang seems rather odd.

Ironically, the comic element in the film does not come as much from Kapil Sharma as it does from the rest of the cast that includes Rajesh Sharma, Inaamulhaq and Vishal O Sharma, who do a stellar job as supporting characters. In fact, one can easily say that the supporting cast shoulders the responsibility of carrying the film along with Kapil, while bringing in much needed comic relief to this otherwise dull story. The actors playing British officer Mark Daniels and Raja Inderveer Singh, i.e. Edward Sonnenblick and Kumud Mishra, have pivotal roles and play their parts very well.

As for the editing, the film should have been much shorter, especially in the first half which goes nowhere for almost an hour. In fact, the lengthy run time of the film could have been cut down drastically had the editing been crisp. Editor Omkarnath Bhakri could have done a much better job in this department. Navneet Misser does a good job with the cinematography, getting the setting and locations right. Unfortunately these alone cannot help save the film.

On the whole, due to its weak script and lack of comedy FIRANGI fails to leave a lasting impression. Besides this, the long run time of 161 mins will leave the audiences impatient and restless. At the box office, the film will face an uphill task of enticing the audiences, given the lack of buzz surrounding the film.

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