Our mind plays all kinds of tricks, often dangerously merging the line between reality and imagination. And we poor mortals, dazed and confused and tortured by our own conscience, desperate to restore some comfort and tranquility. But alas! peace cannot be reclaimed that easily.
The story of Professor Saurabh Sharma (Manav Kaul) is one perfect example of such a psychological discord, intensified by his wife gone missing, and he himself being an insomniac doesn’t seem to help either.
Entangled in-between the police officer’s inquisitions and the advancement of a flirtatious student, and also under the influence of the the unending sleeping pills, the professor’s life looks more distorted than ever.
Disturbing? Yes, thank you very much!
Be it the blood-filled bathtub mysteriously clogged by a bundle of human hair or a chopped up human finger under the cabinet, Maroonisa dark and trippy psychological thriller that seems to have it’s roots deeply embedded into our human psyche; stimulated by that part of our unconscious brain that deceives our consciousness, and makes us vulnerable yet so dangerous.
Overall an intelligently made film, based on one single location, entirely interiors. With only a handful of characters writer/director Pulkit have managed to weave an intricate tale of murder, betrayal, love, adultery and insanity!
Superb performance by Manav Kaul, he portrayed the tired and delusional man desperate to find his wife, with enough conviction.
Devyani Cm as the young seductress and Sumeet Vyas the hot-tempered lover-boy are really good but one particular actor needs a special mention, Saurabh Sachdeva playing the character of Inspector. R. Negi was simply brilliant!
Self-empowerment of rural women – Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala!
My Ratings: 4/5.
Seldom issue based films (especially in Bollywood) suffer from striking a balance between telling a story that is both entertaining as well as didactic.
And that is exactly where Leena Yadav‘s remarkable film Parched comes out as a winner!
Dealing with four rural female characters in the lead – Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Bijli (Surveen Chawla) and Janaki (Lehar Khan) and then of course their struggle in a male-dominating society being the core of the film, Parched has done an incredible job in charming the audience, mostly through it’s unapologetic dialogues (thanks to Supratik Sen) that ranges from being real, straightforward to vulgar!
The film through each of its feminine-character’s remarkable journeys efficiently tackles so many women-oriented social issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, education, child marriage, dowry, status of the widows, choice of asserting her sexual preferences, fertility prejudices, prostitution, even the importance of rural small-scale businesses and then of course the independence of women on the whole!
Such powerful acting by everyone in the film but electrifying Radhika Apte surely leads the pack.
Through the lenses of ace cinematographer Russell Carpenter and the appropriate melodious music by Hitesh Sonik, Parched has definitely managed to tell a fascinating story, most importantly something very different and genuine.
The backdrop being Rajasthan, and essentially dealing with strong women characters, Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta‘s epic film Mirch Masala (1987).
But i guess the real success of a film like Parched will be when the women of rural India can get to watch it and enjoy as much as the urban multiplex audience did!
Powerful message in Bollywood style, and yet very entertaining!
My Ratings: 4/5.
‘Perfect film for our society boss, aise film aur banne chahiye yaar’ – these were the exact words of a man sitting in front of me in the cinema hall right after the end titles of the film Pink.
According to an Indian Express Article dated at the beginning of this year, the number of rape and molestation cases in India were recently at it’s peak. Unfortunately it’s a known fact.
Inspite of maximum cases not being reported, in Delhi alone last year (2015) there were six cases of rape and 15 cases of molestation registered every day!
Indian filmmakers have been tackling such grave and challenging social issues for a long time now; portraying them in a sensible manner and creating awareness through films like Ankush (1986), Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980), Damini (1993), Dahan (1998), Bawandar (2000), Grahan (2001) and more.
But then, coming back to the latest release Pink, this movie has somehow managed to sum up all the significant problems of our current Indian society and put them raw on a platter. And furthermore the film also succeeds in reminding us that the solution to these problems are very much within us (basically our mind-set) and can be countered only if we realise and act on it.
The story-line doesn’t seem too complicated at the first glance – three independent working-girls Minal, Falak and Andrea (Tapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang) get mixed up in a brawl with a group of rich influential guys (Angad Bedi, Vijay Varma, Raashul Tandon and Tushar Pandey) who had the intention to sexually harass them. The girls did protest but can they eventually fight back against the corruption and the feudal mentality of our current male-dominated society?
Who will help these girls win their battle for justice? (Hint: an actor named Amitabh Bachchan)
Superb performances by Mr.Bachchan as the cranky lawyer Deepak Sehgal wearing his spooky mask and all, probably one of his best roles in the recent times!
Tapsee Pannu and Kriti Kulhari have also displayed such amazing acting capabilities, subtle yet so natural!
Then of course we have Piyush Mishra as the challenging lawyer
against Amitabh Bachchan in the dramatic court scenes, always a delight to watch him perform!
But according to me the true success of Pink is not because of the film’s overall brilliance in the acting department; the real heroes are the writer Ritesh Shah and of course the director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury who has managed to balance such a sensitive topic so well.
A story so powerful yet disturbing, an emotional biographical tale told in Bollywood style, that promises to wring your soul to it’s full potential!
My Ratings: 4/5.
In the year 1990, Sarabjit Singh, an Indian by nationality, a farmer from Bhikiwind, Punjab, (a village located by the Indo-Pak border) crossed the border my mistake and strayed into Pakistan.
He was captured by the Pakistani Army/Police and was wrongfully convicted of spying and terrorism.
Sarabjit was tortured and made to surrender himself as Manjit Singh (the real terrorist in question) and was also compelled to confess on crimes that included a series of bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad. And soon enough he was dutifully condemned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and sentenced to death for crimes he never committed!
Though his sentence (death by hanging) was postponed for several years by the government of Pakistan, but unfortunately in-between the political rivalry between two neighboring countries an innocent life was sacrificed and his family ruined for ever.
Now obviously this biopic Sarbjit is based on this unfortunate man’s life but interestingly enough the film is told more from the perspective of Sarbjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur.
Dalbir Kaur (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), a lady of true courage and determination who gave her entire life fighting for her brother’s freedom! And then of course there is Sarbjit’s wife, Sukhpreet Kaur (Richa Chadha) and their daughters Swapandeep and Poonam Kaur who stood by Dalbir and was devoted to Sarbjit through out his life.
The film has such a powerful story that needs to be told and I must say director Omung Kumar have done justice to it. A few unnecessary songs here and there (though melodious), a few over-emotional dialogues (typical Bollywood style), but overall the film is a sincere attempt to portray the terror, agony and injustice that a man and his family had to endure for no reason at all.
Aishwarya has done a pretty good job being the heartbroken sister with a resolution, though I felt she was not the perfect choice for Dalbir Kaur’s role, somehow maybe she was a bit less Punjabi in comparison to the other actors.
At least better than Priyanka Chopra being casted as a Manipuri boxer, but again in India, stardom plays a huge role behind a film’s success – right?
Richa Chadha again proved herself as an exceptionally talented actress; through her body language and even in the rare moments of silence she managed to convey a lot of unspoken emotions.
But trust me, the real star of the film is none other than Randeep Hooda!
Such a versatile actor and a power house of talent; specially in the jail-scenes in the second half of the film, it is a real treat to watch him perform.
Darshan Kumaar has a brief but interesting role and he did make his presence felt.
A good script, superb acting and most importantly a great ‘true’ story to tell – Sarbjit is a film definitely worth a watch.
No surprise that the Censor board of Pakistan has banned the film as ‘anti-Pakistani’!
Yes, a highly anticipated film (among the non-comercial cinema
lovers) Nil Battey Sannata is finally released and it’s superbly entertaining, very emotional and most importantly a film that perfectly resonates our society.
A young mischievous girl Apeksha aka Appu studying for her 10th class board exams, when asked about her future career plans replies to her mom Chanda (who by profession is a ‘bai’ or house maid) –
‘Ek engenier ka beta engenier banta hai, ek doctor ka beta doctor, toh bai ki beti kyaa banegi?’
Now this particular line though delivered in casually by a girl says a lot about our current Indian society. It portrays the general mentality of a kid coming from a family below the poverty line whose dreams to become a doctor, engineer or collector is automatically restrained and are forced to be moulded according to their financial/social status.
The film makes us question that being a single mother and that too from a poor financial background, is it too ambitious for Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) to dream a better future for her beloved daughter Appu (Riya Shukla)?
Though the film essentially revolves around the social issue of education and it’s importance in our community (especially for the women) but the real brilliance of Nil Battey Sannata comes from the unique relationship between a mother who sacrifices her life’s happiness to give her daughter a decent education and her daughter who being too immature and naive doesn’t able to value her mother’s sacrifice (or so it seems to be).
Nil Battey Sannata though predictable at times has been made with great care and sensitivity, and it does manage to pull the right strings to make the audiences all chocked up and teary-eyed by the end.
And then, the superlative acting by Swara Bhaskar (she has always been my favorite and a real performer), Ratna Pathak (sheer perfection), Pankaj Tripathy (brilliantly funny),Riya Shukla (immense potential) and a couple of other child actors – such exclusive natural performances are the real reason for the film’s success.
It ends with a dialogue about achieving your dreams that instantly reminds us of The Pursuit of Happyness, but then Nil Battey Sannata is definitely a film to watch and get inspired from.
If you like good films with simple human sentiments – don’t miss it.
For some, this film will remain as a happy childhood memory and for others, it’s simply a nostalgia!
My Ratings: 4.1/5.
The incredible story based on the jungles of India comes first hand for the Indian audience as The Jungle Book gets its release in India one week before any other country of the world!
The heroic survival tale of an abandoned “man cub” Mowgli, a wild kid in an underwear who can easily converse with all the wild animals in the forest!
And why not, since he has been parented by the wolves, Akela (the alpha male wolf-pack leader) and Raksha (the sensitive mother wolf), and then, Mowgli’s best buddies are none other than Bagheera (the protective black panther) and Baloo (the lazy mischievous bear)!
Mowgli’s life is mostly all fun and adventures unless he ends up face to face with Kaa (the hypnotic python) or King Louie (the power hungry orangutan, the King of the apes), but then, there is someone who doesn’t want a man-child in the jungle, the notorious Shere Khan (the one-eyed evil tiger) who desire to eat Mowgli alive!
All our favorite characters leaping straight out from the pages of Rudyard Kipling‘s collective fables (novel), and this time they are not mere cartoons (as our childhood memories made us believe), but they are all dramatically alive and unbelievably realistic in this brilliant CGI drama.
A confession though (most probably a collective confession of all those who were lucky enough to enjoy their childhood in the 90s); my instant recognition of the ever-popular character Mowgli and his friends neither comes from Kipling’s famous novel nor from the original Disney animated classic masterpiece The Jungle Book (1967).
It’s actually connected with the Japanese Anime television series called ‘Janguru Bukku shonen Môguri’ which was later dubbed in Hindi as ‘The Jungle Book’ and was aired on the one and only Indian channel of the time Doordarshan way back in 1993.
Ah! those lazy Sunday mornings and the unforgettable title song composed by none other than Vishal Bhardwaj and written by Gulzar!
And the impact of that TV series is the sole reason for me to watch the latest Disney Jungle Book film in Hindi! – probably the first time ever I have intentionally seen a Hindi dubbed version of an English film and it’s totally worth it.
The young debutant actor Neel Sethi has done a great job playing the central character but the most astonishing feat is undoubtedly the computer graphics used to create the hyperrealistic animals and the locations, the exceptional quality achieved by the combined effort of the studios Weta Digital, MPC and Digital Domain.
The film although it narrates the same old story but overall it’s a much darker version of the original tale; some intense violent moments and chilling chase sequences that makes the film frightfully dramatic (specially from a kid’s perspective).
Make no mistake this film in India is Certified as ‘U/A’ and for the right reasons too.
But then, the success of yet another version of The Jungle Book only confirms our love for Mowgli, a character so unique and universally acknowledged as Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s Tarzan, and also that the adorable wolf-raised-kid will always have a special place in the hearts of the Indian audience!
Marathi Cinema and Nana Patekar both at their best form.
My Ratings: 4.2/5.
Maharashtra is one of the very few states which has managed to enrich the tradition of theatre in India through all these decades of our ever-increasing love for Cinema.
Then again, the accessibility, the flow of money, the immense popularity/fame and the ability to create the impossible – all being in favor of Cinema, could theatre ever compete with the popularity of a film?
Probably not, but keeping aside the Theatre Vs Cinema debate for another time, let’s acknowledge the fact that screenplays which are essentially based on significant dramas have always given birth to films of great quality and popularity!
All exceptional films built upon extraordinary plays from all across the world!
And recently, reputed Indian film maker Mahesh Manjrekar made a film Natsamrat (language Marathi), adopted from an iconic Marathi play of the 70s by the same name,written by famous Marathi play-writer Kusumagraj.
Interestingly, this remarkable film is not only special for it’s theatre adaptation but then, Natsamrat itself is a tribute to the grand tradition of Marathi theatre!
An aging theatre artist Ganpat Ramchandra Belwalkar (Nana Patekar), versatile and renowned, takes his leave from the stage and expects to lead a peaceful retired life with his devoted wife and caring children (and their extended family) but soon finds out that with growing age and fading popularity nothing remains the same as expected.
In between the articulate poems and the priceless extracts from many famous plays, the film masterfully brings out the emotional story of an aged couple who has become a nuisance to their own children, a mere botheration and a reason of embarrassment in their modern lifestyle.
Then again, the film is also a celebration of friendship, of human relations, bondings, emotions and pure empathy.
But of course, the prime reason to watch Natsamrat is none other than Nana Patekar and his exceptional performance.
Like everybody else, I have been admiring Nana Patekar as a class actor in many of his earlier films like Ab Tak Chhappan, Parinda, his recent Hemalkasa and even his over enthusiastic character in Krantiveer but with this role as the ‘Natsamrat’ he has given his lifetime best.
A cinema not just about gay rights, it’s about humanity.
My Ratings: 4.2/5.
On the night of 8 February 2010, two men forced their way into a house in Aligarh where two adult people were having consensual sex. These hired goons who later claimed to be from a TV channel, took pictures and videos while illegally invading the privacy of someone’s bedroom, and in the process humiliating and even beating up the residents.
It was the house of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, and he was ambushed by these local TV-channel camera crew while having sex with a rickshaw puller; gay sex to be specific.
And effectively the very next day, the 64 year old professor Dr. Siras, specializing in Marathi literature and also the head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University, was suspended from his post because of his illicit misconduct resulting to such a scandal.
Fortunately such an act of atrocity, discrimination and injustice was noticed and denounced by those few, who still believe in terms like justice and equality. With the help of efficient lawyers a case was filed against the University and eventually the verdict was in favor of Dr. Siras. But probably, the man was too heart broken to enjoy his victory.
The film Aligarh is a sincere account of Dr. Siras’s life; a calm and composed man by nature, a poet who won the literary award by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad in 2002. He loved to listen to Lata Mangeshkar songs with a few many drinks at night till he gets drunk.
And Manoj Bajpayee as Dr. Siras has given the performance of a lifetime. Such emotions in his eyes, the way he talks in a slow intellectual manner, his overall body language, even the way he moves his feet enjoying the song ‘Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha’ in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice – pure brilliance!
Based on the last two months of a man who was the victim of the university campus politics, framed by his own colleagues out of utter jealousy, a man whose life was turned upside down just because he was a homosexual.
‘I spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. But I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay’
Dr. Siras was a man who loved his life and expected to be loved back.
The film Aligarh has managed to keep alive his sentiments, it has the same poetic feel that so resembles Dr. Siras’s nature.
A biopic that speaks of bravery, of courage, of Neerja Bhanot!
My Ratings: 4.1/5.
‘Let me do my duty as you are doing yours’ – a line told by a purser (air hostess) of Pan Am Flight 73 to a group of armed terrorists who had highjacked the airline at the time, while she wanted to provide water to all the terrified passengers!
How many people have the nerve to stay calm in front of some extremist gunmen and have the audacity to ask to let her serve the people and eventually save 359 lives by sacrificing her own?
Well, Neerja Bhanot had it in her and that’s why though she is no more among us but her legacy still inspires millions across the world.
22 year old Neerja was just like any another girl of her age, originally from Chandigarh but settled in Mumbai with her two caring brothers, a motivating father and a typical over protective mother – a perfectly bonded Indian family. By profession she was an air-hostess who loved her job, and also a part time model. She was young, she was vibrant, she was a Rajesh Khanna fan; she was enjoying her life, she was in love.
And unfortunately on 5 September 1986 she was in that fateful Pan Am flight boarded to fly USA from India via Karachi where it was hijacked by some terrorists who were backed by Abu Nidal Organization (Libya).
Directed by Ram Madhvani, the biopic Neerja, highlights the particular events of that tragic day, how a young girl almost singlehandedly managed to stop the flight from taking off which spoiled the highjaker’s plans and eventually saved many lives by displaying exceptional valor and heroism.
Interestingly at the very beginning of the film, there is a dialogue reference from the film Anand (1971), a past Bollywood classic where the jovial, spirited protagonist dies in the end. This is probably an indirect hint to the audience, a message that foretells the fate of the bubbly and cheerful leading lady Neerja herself.
Sonam Kapoor brilliantly portraying the role of Neerja Bhanot, her performance being to the point and natural, I guess she has finally proved all her critics wrong about her acting capabilities.
Also supported by great performances of Shabana Azmi (as Neerja’s mother Rama Bhanot) and Yogendra Tikku (as Neerja’s father Harish Bhanot). Even the terrorists and the crowd in the flight, the allover level of performance was spot on and most essentially believable.
The cinematography by Mitesh Mirchandani needs a special mention because it gives the film the much needed realistic feel.
Neerja Bhanot (1963 – 1986) as we all know did sacrifice her life while shielding three children from the bullets of the assassins.
The film Neerja is undoubtedly well made and does justice to one of the youngest brave-heart of India, but more essentially it helps Neerja’s valiant story reach more people than ever.
The basic script of Wazir was written as early as in 1994 and later around 2004, the film was supposed to be producer/director Vidhu Vinod Chopra‘s first Hollywood venture, with Dustin Hoffman in the lead!
But then it had to wait for another 12 years to be finally made by director Bejoy Nambiar and released as a Bollywood thriller last Friday.
The film Wazir has no doubt an innovative concept.
If you have played chess you must be knowing that Wazir (meaning the ‘minister’) is the most powerful piece on a chess board and using this as a metaphor the film title has been conceptualized. Actually there are several references of chess being repeatedly associated with the film’s story line.
And then, watching two of the most talented actors of our industry sharing screen space, Amitabh Bachchan (as the old crippled vengeful Pandit Omkarnath Dhar) andFarhan Akhtar (as the traumatized officer of law Daanish Ali) brilliantly complementing each other with their effortless performances is indeed a treat for the audience.
But unfortunately a cool concept and great star cast doesn’t seem to be enough to create a cinema of superlative order.
The story has too many illogicalities that are difficult to ignore, too many convenient routes taken by the script writers (in total nine writing credits including the dialogue writers!), and on top of that the ending becomes predictable after a certain point of time.
May be a bit of more pace/thrill and a tinge of less emotional drama and background songs could have worked better.
Overall a decent first half that drags into a wobbly second half and then an unsurprising ending!
In spite of creditable camera work by Sanu Varghese and appropriate editing by Vidhu Vinod Chopra himself, the film simply doesn’t satisfy you to the fullest.
Hope 2016 brings many more quality films that will eventually quench our thirst for better cinema.