Hercules (2014)

Written by Abhikendu Deb Roy

Ratings: 3.5/5

In today’s world, we are so caught up with our hectic schedules that we do not have time to respect sentiments. ‘Hercules’ teaches us how to cling on to our memories and march forward into a new future.

Director duo Sudeshna Roy – Abhijit Guha are back with their satirical comedy drama film ‘Hercules’.

Haru, played by Parambrata Chatterjee, is a peon at a Govt. Office, who prefers to stay back at home to going to work on a working day. He, hereditarily, is the owner of an age-old house, which is being eyed by a Building Promoter Mr. Bajoria for the construction of a mall.

Saswata Chatterjee’s Mosh is the “Para’s Gunda” who is the middle man for Bajoria-Haru faceoff and tries to lure Haru into handing over the plot to them.

How Haru, single-handedly, saves his plot from being converted into a mall is all about Hercules. There is obviously a romantic angle in this ‘jomi dokhol’ story, exactly where Paoli Dam’s Meenu comes into play.

The synopsis might have a huge ‘Bhooter Bhobishyot’ hangover, but the underlying layers and the subplots make this all the way more interesting.

Director duo Sudeshna Roy – Abhijit Guha successfully execute the simple tale of Haru, penned down by Padmanabha Dasgupta. It might seem that the story has been loosely inspired from Tagore’s poem “Dui Bigha Jomi”, translated beautifully in modern times.

Parambrata has a double role in this movie and it is quite a pleasure watching him on screen. The best moments of the film are when the two Parambrata’s are having a conversation between them.

Paoli, who even though doesn’t have much to do in this film, is good enough in the scenes she appears in. Saswata has been a veteran in playing the role of a “Para’s Gunda” and is a riot in every scene he comes in.

The makers have tried to keep the film short and crisp, the running time being 1 hour 52 minutes. The first half is so engaging that you are craving for the next moment to arrive. The pace of the second half drops a bit and is a bit dragging, nonetheless ending it just when it might have had got on your nerves. The edit team has surely done their job nicely.

The music by Neel Dutt is ho-hum and could have been done away with. Two songs popping out of nowhere post-interval is also a negative point to the not-so-engaging second half.

Since the story mainly revolves around an ancestral house, the outdoor shoots remain limited. The art director must be applauded for his immensely beautiful portrayal of the age-old house. Usage of similar camera angles is one of the few flaws in the technical department of the film.

Hercules is the story of a timid man, entangled with the memories of his ancestral house, coping up with the pressures of the ruffian.

Hercules is the present day analogy of the middle class man trying to cope up with the pressures of the party politics.

Hercules is the resurgence of the hero within Haru. Hercules is the resurgence of the hero within us.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SexTP15yGfI

The hundred-foot journey (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5

The hundred-foot journey is a very well cooked film, tender and succulent, a perfect fusion of the spicy Indian masalas and the subtle French cuisine.

The film is an emotional drama, a journey of a young boy Hassan (Manish Dayal) from being a good cook to a world famous chef.

But not so fast.

The hundred-foot journey unfolds itself in a slow pace; lures the audience to get accustomed to the Southern French countryside to get introduced to the characters and be a part of a beautiful story told to perfection.

The Kadam family spearheaded by Papa (Om Puri) opens up an Indian restaurant at a hundred-foot distance from an already established French restaurant owned by none other than the ever-competitive Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

The battle begins and the battleground is their respective kitchens.

And what follows is a food fest.

At one end we have the delicate French sauces to entice you and on the other hand the aromatic Indian spices to create magic, believe me you will want to eat on both sides of the street.

And then of course though somewhat predictable, the aromas of the two cultures finally blend in and the result – a couple of sweet love stories.

Superb acting by Om Puri, he is undoubtedly the spine of this film and also provides the needed comic reliefs in regular intervals.

Helen Mirren is as usual at her best, Charlotte Le Bon, Manish Dayal all acted brilliantly. And if you care to remember Juhi Chawla’s cameo as the mother who made Hassan realize the essence of good cooking.

A.R.Rahman’s music perfectly compliments the superb visuals by cinematographer Linus Sandgren.

The last half of the film is a bit stretched but then again it’s probably necessary for the desired conclusion.

Overall the film has a sense of tranquility that tends to stay with you, one of those movies that leave you with a pleasant smile.

Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake – the producers.

The hundred-foot Journey comes from one of my favorite directors Lasse Hallstrom who has pampered us earlier with amazing movies like What’s eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House rules, Chocolat, Hachi: a dog’s tale and many more.

So I went with lot of expectations and came out of the cinema hall hungry yet satisfied.

Totally worth it.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEO1TWeM5JU

Mardaani (2014)

My Ratings: 3.5/5.

The word Mardaani if translated means ‘like a man’.

And when such feminist words are used as a film title, there is a high probability that the director goes totally over the board in order to portray the heroics of the on screen femme fatale.

But i must confess that the latest Yash Raj-Pradeep Sarkar collaboration, the film Mardaani is surprisingly balanced and realistic.

Of course you have to endure a few melodramatic action sequences and tacky dialogues from the lead character Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji).

But overall Mardaani never stretches the suspension of our disbeliefs too far (a rare quality in the recent so called commercial Bollywood film genre).

Superb acting by Rani Mukerji and more importantly very good selection of script. Such daring roles (like her character in No one killed Jessica) suits Rani perfectly.

Really impressed by Tahir Raj Bhasin‘s performance who also calls himself Walt (Breaking Bad huh?) and probably one of the coolest villains of our times.

A perfect opponent for the brave senior inspector from crime branch Shivani Shivaji Roy to tussle on throughout the film.

Priyanka Sharma (very natural) and Jisshu Sengupta (though in a cameo) also made their presence felt in Mardaani.

Some of my friends have this feeling that Mardaani is the desi version of Liam Nesson starrer Taken.

Well, i have to admit both the movies are  on children trafficking and in both the films the protagonists go after some organized human traffickers gang when one of their close relation is being kidnapped.

But nevertheless Mardaani has managed to infuse the Indian sentiments and successfully portrayed the horrors of the alarmingly high rate of children trafficking in India.

Finally a film that is based on a serious issue and also handles it in a serious manner.

Director Pradeep Sarkar has done a great job and Rani Mukerji plays a hundred times more realistic cop than the likes of Chulbul Pandey and Bajirao Singham. 

Artur Zurawski done a decent job with the camera and no complains with the editor Sanjib Datta.

Crisp dialogues, fast story telling and decent characterizations make Mardaani enjoyable.

A perfect modern take on the concept of ordinary girls transforming into Goddesses Durga or Kali to vanquish the evils from our society when the need arises.

Worth a watch.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04E-jHtWrDA

Highway 2014 (Bengali Film)

Written by Abhikendu Deb Roy.

Ratings 2.5/5.

“Amra kara? Manush na Mukhosh?”

Highway is all about realising how precious your love is and indoctrinates in clinging on to your relationships.

At times being interesting while most of the times being a bore, this Highway is a bumpy ride with several potholes, hither and thither.

Directed by newcomer Sudipto Chattopadhyay, Highway starts off on a low note, with most of the actors looking pretty jaded, but garners a little interest and grabs a few eyeballs as the film progresses.

For the first 15 to 20 minutes, the viewers are left in a maze, having a faint idea of the destination in this long-stretch of road. The film could have been handled in a much more mature way, had it been handed over to a well-experienced filmmaker.

Parambrata Chatterjee and Koyel Mullick have been paired together for the second time. However, the Param-Koyel pairing was much more influential in Hemlock Society – the spark clearly missing out in this film.

Needless to say, Parambrata, being a gem of an actor, is to lookout for in this film.

Gaurav Chakraborty, who has an extended cameo, appears quite beguiling in his ‘Ranbir Rockstar Kapoor’ look. Singer-actor Silajit Majumdar has an amazing charm as a middle-aged widower poet, the character being highly opposite to his real life ebullient personality.

Dipankar Dey overdoes his role and doesn’t justify the character which the director had imagined originally. Sabitri Chattopadhay and Rita Chakraborty stick to the characters and do all the magic with their expressions.

Director Sudipto Chattopadhyay, who also has been credited for the screenplay, must have penned down the story for a short film. The roots of the plot are weak and could have been handled in a much better way.

What is ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ about Highway is the music. Anupam Roy does wonders with the soundtrack of the film – almost all the songs being highly audible and a pleasure to our ears.

The background music is also another aspect of the film you cannot ignore; it makes the long drive in the never-ending Highway a bit more interesting.

Highway, almost entirely shot in Darjeeling, captures the hilly frames of the Himalayas in a rather alluring manner. The viewers are enraptured by the sceneries portrayed all throughout the movie and credits must be given to R Dee for the cinematography.

The Kolkata leg of the film (which is hardly 2 minutes altogether) projects the usual Victoria Memorial, Maidan and Princep Ghat sequences. Rabi Ranjan Moitra, the editor, should have devoted some extra time for this film; though the film’s running time is a bit less than 2 hours but it actually seems to be a real long ride in the Highway.

Final Verdict: Lack of experience, weak storyline and unnecessary sub-plots spoil the flow of the film. A perfect casting and some good music save the film from drowning.

You might just want to give this Highway a miss. Instead, grab a DVD of the Hindi namesake (Alia Bhatt starrer) and warm up your couch.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYqS6pIA6lo

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5

Guardians of the Galaxy is the ultimate surprise package for superhero movie lovers!

Director James Gunn has successfully created a very entertaining galaxy where you can completely loose yourself once your 3D glasses are in position.

Peter Quills (Chris Pratt) the self-proclaimed ‘Star Lord’ is our witty protagonist who cruises in his spaceship – a charming thief by profession.

And then we have Gamora the sexy assassin (Zoe Saldana), Drax the destroyer who is hungry for revenge (Dave Bautista), Rocket the gun-crazy talking raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot the humanoid tree with very limited vocabulary (Vin Diesel).

In the process of stealing the Orb that contains mysterious powers Peter Quills meets these other not-so-human characters. Eventually they make a weird but awesome team and try their best to save the galaxy from the evil/powerful Ronan (Lee Pace).

Will they able to protect our planets and be known as the Guardians of the Galaxy?

Watch the film and you will know all the answers – probably the best Sci-Fi films of our times.

Maintaining the humor throughout, Guardians of the Galaxy boasts some of the most amazing space-action sequences. A perfect balance of VFX thrills and emotional story-telling.

Actors like Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly and Djimon Hounsou play short but entertaining roles in the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy has a certain uniqueness that sets it apart from the other Marvel comics-adapted films but then again, it also has some of the distinctive features to excite the Marvel fan following.

A film that should be watched only in 3D to get the best look at our galaxy and it’s guardians.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CqymRQ1uUU

The Rocket (2013)

My Ratings: 4/5.

The Rocket is a heart-touching Australian film selected in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2014 Oscars.

Set in Laos (Vietnam) The Rocket is the tale of a 10 year old boy named Alho (amazing performance by Sitthiphon Disamoe) who is desperate to prove himself ‘lucky’!

Being a twin Alho (though his twin brother died in child birth) is considered unlucky from the time he was born (especially by the highly prejudiced elder generation people). And after a terrible accident and a few unfortunate events Alho’s fate seemed to be sealed.

But then with the support of his little girl-friend Kia (Loungnam Kaosainam) and her half-baked uncle Purple (Suthep Po-ngam), and also with his father’s approval Alho does manage to turn things around in his favor.

The kid’s luck flies high like a rocket in the sky.

The Rocket not only narrates a family drama with great emotional details but also reflects the poor conditions of the majority in the post war Vietnam.

Many people may perceive the film as a political drama but according to me the political aspect is very intelligently kept as a sub-layer in the film. Evidently the story of Alho and his near ones is the focus of the film.

Directed by Kim Mordaunt The Rocket is shot almost in the documentary style realist manner and such natural performances especially by the kids – the moments of innocence will absolutely melt your heart.

Great performances, superb story-telling and most importantly a film that is true to itself.

Hard luck for you if you miss this film, believe me.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9dHw423U7Q

Lucy (2014)

My Ratings: 3/5.

Director Luc Besson, who has made awesome films like ‘Leon: The professional‘ and ‘The fifth Element‘ has come up with his latest – a Sci-Fi called Lucy.

Morgan Freeman in his deep, smooth voice explains to us that an average human being  only uses 10% of their brain capacity. And if somebody somehow uses more than that – the possibilities are endless but unknown.

And that very unknown is explored through the dangerous tale of Lucy who by accident could push her brain capacity to it’s maximum.

But honestly the story, the director or Morgan Freeman for that matter is not the focus of the film; like most of the rest of the audience i went simply to watch Scarlett Johansson.

A hint of age but still Scarlett looks absolutely stunning.

It is said that Angelina Jolie was supposed to play the lead role Lucy but when she opted out Scarlett Johansson came in.

Anyways, due to some unavoidable circumstances Lucy is used as a drug mule (of course without her concern) by some Chinese gangsters who speaks nothing but Korean, leaded by Mr.Jang (Min-sik Choi of the Oldboy fame).

And this blue-colored drug which she carries is no ordinary one, it eventually makes Lucy’s brain capable of performing to it’s full potential. Wow!

Defying all those blond-jokes, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) becomes the most intelligent person in the world (just joking).

But unfortunately the film isn’t as smart as Lucy.

The basic problem lies in the fact that when a person becomes that intelligent and attains such a height of consciousness what exactly is expected from him/her?

Lucy with all the incredible powers does several unbelievable magic tricks throughout the film, which most of the times doesn’t seem logical and often in a way questions her intelligence (like in the very basic level).

Cool VFX, sexy Lucy but an ordinary outcome.

You need not have to engage even 10% of your brain power for this film.

Film trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVt32qoyhi0