Ugly (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5.

People are like coins and when they are tossed up in the air, there is a good fifty percent chance of them falling their ugly side up.

The film Ugly reveals this hidden side of us, the rotten core of our human nature, the ugly truth of our society; and who better can orchestrate such a dark film with such perfection than Anurag Kashyap?

Director Anurag Kashyap has this exceptional talent of illuminating those gloomy, dark tunnels of our human minds where other filmmakers seldom dare to focus their beam. His debut film Paanch then Black FridayNo SmokingDev.DGulaal, even the Gangs of Wasseypur series – the characters in all these films seems to celebrate the violence and the dark passion in them.

And Ugly is no exception and probably the most dark film recently made in Bollywood. 

A thriller that revolves around the kidnapping of a little girl and the rigorous search that follows. A nasty tale of mayhem, greed and corruption that doesn’t spare anybody – none of them comes out clean and innocent.

Ugly contains hardcore violence and abusive language – not at all advisable for the children.

But then again there are a few awesome moments of black humor that serves as the much needed relief moments for the audience.

The only known faces are the ever-angry Ronit Roy and to some extent Tejaswini Kolhapure (she was launched in Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch which unfortunately never released). 

Most of the other actors are relatively new but every one gave very natural performances – especial mentions Rahul Bhat (the estranged father), Vineet Singh (the friend) and Girish Kulkarni (the ideal local police head).

The background score does it’s job i guess but i wouldn’t complain if it was more on the grungy side. The camera angles, especially the typical ‘chase sequences’ have the trade mark of an Anurag Kashyap movie.       

Overall a very real, hard-hitting film made with enough passion and courage; though it’s difficult to admit but Ugly is a perfect snapshot of our current society.

P.S – the film Ugly was waiting to release for almost a year now since Anurag Kashyap was fighting a case in Bombay High Court against the Censor Board as he refused to add the anti-smoking disclaimer in the film.

PK or Boycott PK – that is the question?

PK or Boycott PK – is that really a question?

written by Souranath Banerjee.

I originally planned to write a review on PK (the latest Aamir Khan, Rajkumar Hirani blockbuster), a light-hearted comedy with an important social message; though i felt the same message was conveyed in a much better way in Umesh Shukla‘s OMG: Oh My God! a couple of years back.

Then again i liked PK and especially Amir Khan’s exceptional performance.

But to my surprise i stumbled upon the fact that some people recently took the social media with the sole intention to convince others to boycott the film!

On Twitter and Facebook, the hashtag, #BoycottPK is used for such propaganda. They are the so called ‘Hindu fundamentalists‘ who are crying foul about the “portrayal of Hindus” in the film; some of them even accused PK of promoting ‘love-jihad’!

According to these religious guardians of our society the film PK insults Hindus and Hinduism. They also claim that just because the other communities – the Muslims and Christians are generally more aggressive in their forms of protest – the Hindus are repeatedly made the soft target of such religious slanders.

It is also blamed that Lord Shiva is specifically being insulted in the film as referring to the comic sequence where a man dressed as Lord Shiva is worshipped and also being chased by the character PK as he mistook this man to be the real God himself.

Then again some others point out that a blooming love story between an Indian girl and a Pakistani boy (as shown in the film) is spreading a wrong message and probably even encouraging Love Jihad!

FIR has been launched against the team of ‘PK’, against the lead actor, director and the producers. A plea to ban PK on the grounds of religious sentiments being hurt and picturing nudity was also being made which was very recently rejected by the Supreme Court.

Wow! Is this really happening?

Though such accusations and allegations are both surprising and irritating but still one should listen to their perspective as well (or else down the line we will be called the next fanatics). After all, in our free, secular, democratic country everyone is entitled to state their own opinion and are allowed to voice their grudges and views no matter how doltish they may sound.

For me a film should firstly be treated only as a form of entertainment. And the huge box office collection (more than 50 crore in the first weekend) simply proves that PK is VERY much entertaining.

Then again as many good films often does, PK highlights some social issues, especially the corrupted ‘business-side’ of all the religions, and attempts to unmask the con God-men or ‘dongibabas’ (unfortunately to be found in every religion) who exploit innocent people both financially and emotionally. PK emphasizes that we should love and protect our one and only creator, our God and not our individual religions.

And the good thing about PK is that it’s not at all preachy, the film offers a comical take on these serious issues of our society and still has a huge impact on the audience.

It is such an irony that a film like PK with a strong message against religious biasses should fall prey to such bigoted religious controversies.

As a sensibly religious guy who also likes to watch films, I humbly request the people (with accusation lists) to please watch the film again but this time with a broader mindset.

I am sure these accusers, at least many of them are not really ‘religious fanatics’ as many newspapers and news articles tag them to be. I think they are simply sensitive people who are soft in their hearts as well as in their heads.

In the style of Rajkumar Hirani‘s earlier films they all need ‘jaddu-ki-jhappis’ and ‘thank you’ cards tagged with colorful flowers.

Let us all remember that God is above all religions and all we can ever do is pray for peace and harmony; and keep watching films of course.

P.S. – Did you guys take into account the free additional publicity PK is getting from these ‘BoycottPK’ groups ?! (just a thought).


A few articles which consist of the various tweets that both accuses and supports the film and the supreme court verdict:

Hackers and Hollywood and The Interview

Hackers and Hollywood and The Interview.

Written by Saikat Bhattacharya.

Hackers and Hollywood and The Interview – a topic that combines both the film industry and terrorism; the Global security and our creative freedom.

It’s heartbreaking to see how a creation of someone is getting demolished by terrorists masked as hackers. A multinational company like Sony surrenders to terrorism when it decides against the release of their film The Interview last week.

Starring James Franco and Seth Rogen the film The Interview is a satirical comedy where two American reporters apparently plans to assassinate the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. 

The film was due to be released on 25th December 2014 in the US theaters but due to terrorist threats the cinema halls didn’t risk screening it and finally Sony Pictures had to cancel it’s release.

It’s not a defeat of a single film or a company against cyber terrorism, but if one could see the larger picture here then it’s a defeat of the whole system of a county or even the world.

If a group can hack a company like Sony in and out then they can do the same with Government files and security articles from any country without any trouble. So what’s next?

This incident may not be the dramatic destruction of a building falling down or multiple loss of human lives but it’s certainly has all the signs of a bigger threat unfolding in the future.

So keeping all the personal agendas aside, the US Government and Hollywood should join hands and take this matter the upmost priority. There is much more  at stake than a few leaked embarrassing emails and awkward personal remarks.

They should make sure the movie gets released very soon so that terrorists who are behind this incident doesn’t get encouraged and plan for a bigger massacre in the future.

Media also has to play a key role and be decisive before broadcasting any news to the public which might create internal chaos and wrong impression in the our minds. Unity to deal with this kind of issues is very important – the US government, US media and US citizens should help out Sony to get out of this mess.

I myself being an artist, a film lover and a citizen of India feel threatened by this incident. I fear that one day my office or my bank account or my country’s secrets will get hacked in a similar way and the government will be as helpless as the US government is now as the current situation.

I hope US, being claimed as the super power should investigate and eradicate the source of this hacking and closedown such illegal activities as soon as possible.

All the other countries should also participate in this war against cyber terrorism, help out and take precautions. Make this world as safer place and restore creative freedom.

Article by George Clooney on Hollywood Cowardice:

Article containing the statement from Sony Pictures:

Byomkesh Phire Elo (2014)

Written by Abhikendu Deb Roy.

Ratings: 3.7/5.

Byomkesh Bakshi is a brand who has been adapted by several filmmakers across the country. Bakshi is not exactly a detective, instead a truth seeker as they call him.

Byomkesh series have an underlying layer of the social issues of that period sandwiched between the whodunnit thrilling cases. Social sattire, wearing the mask of a thriller drama, is precisely what you’d call Byomkesh Bakshi.

Director Anjan Dutt chose Saradindu Bandopaddhyay‘s ‘Benishonghar’ as the plot for his latest release ‘Byomkesh Phire Elo’. This is the third among Dutt’s Byomkesh films and undoubtedly the best of them all.

Abir Chatterjee is comfortable as Byomkesh Bakshi. He looks and feels the part aptly. Saswata Chatterjee as Ajit has hardly a few scenes but stands out in them all.

While the rest of the ensemble cast of this film play their part fairly, the extremely talented actor who needs mention here is Koushik Sen. He seems to be a natural as the drunkard son-in-law of the house and we surely wanted more screen time from him. He is one helluva performer.

Anjan Dutt has always been a master of shooting in the ancestral houses and by-lanes of North Kolkata, adding a 60’s feel to it. It was a plain sailing ride for him to have recreated the era through the consultation of his art director. The use of different colour tones to distinguish between the time frames is plausible.

The film, kept limited to a couple of hours, makes the screenplay more intriguing and appealing for such a thriller. Adventure has never been the forte of Byomkesh Bakshi, but is present in situations which help him deal with his ongoing case.

Neel Dutt does an amazing work with the original background score of the film. The trademark ‘Byomkesh Theme’ by Neel is something we had wanted throughout the film but sadly creeps up only at the end credits.

Final Verdict: Anjan Dutt’s third Byomkesh is an all-in-all interesting thriller with almost all the elements required present in it. It is however saddening that Abir who is so much in his comfort zone playing Byomkesh, has switched roles to Feluda and will not play the role of Bakshi in future. You must go for this adulterated thriller during your Christmas Break, but surely not with your little Santas.

Badshahi Angti (2014)

Written by – Abhikendu Deb Roy.

Ratings: 3/5.

They say, when you watch a film, you must never draw comparisons to the novel it has been adapted from, nor should you keep the previous installments in mind.

But, inevitably, when you hear the nostalgic tunes composed by the master Satyajit Ray himself, you are bound to get reminded of the frames from Rajasthan and Benaras as portrayed by Ray.

Director Sandip Ray is back with another adaptation of his father’s detective novel series ‘Feluda‘ with a totally new Feluda in Abir Chatterjee and a fresh face Sourav Das in Topshe, the sleuth’s nephew and stalwart partner.

It is a big challenge to fill in the shoes of Soumitra Chatterjee and Sabyasachi Chakraborty, as the famous sleuth Prodosh Chandra Mitter. Expectations were soaring high from him, but Abir is inconsistent as the private investigator.

Badshahi-angti-posterOne of the major notable characteristics of Feluda is that his eyes does the majority of the talking. Unfortunately, Abir falls short in that aspect. Feluda is a far more composed character with an amicable personality.

After the likes of Siddhartha Chatterjee, Saswata Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee and Shaheb Bhattacharjee, newcomer Saurav Das handles the role of Topshe and disappoints us to the core. He looks the part but his dialogue delivery and expressions are worth criticizing, so much so that he becomes irritating and superfluous. Topshe was clearly missed in this installment of the series.

Apart from them, the rest of the cast are worth a watch, with Paran Banerjee impressing us with his new look.

Shot vastly in Lucknow, cinematographer Sirsha Ray handles the frames nicely and brings to us the Lucknowi feel through his lens and vision. The historical monuments like the Bara Imambara looks amazing the film, but the Bhool Bhulaiyya within the Bara Imambara could have been shot in a wiser manner.

Also, the special effects look very amateurish and surely needed a better supervision. Subroto Roy manages to keep the film crisp and tight with his editing and wraps up the film within 110 minutes.

I cannot and I should not comment about the ‘Feluda Theme’ as it still gives me goosebumps, no matter how much remastered it may be. The rest of the background score by Sandip Ray is ho-hum and could have been improvised upon to make the pace of the film alive.

badshahi-angti-poster2Sandip Ray tries hard to recreate magic on screen yet again with his father’s legendary works, but he somehow cannot keep up to the expectations, specially with a newer and a weaker cast.

The script is a rip-off of the ‘Badshahi Angti’ novel by Ray. So it doesn’t really give us a chance to find flaws and it is one of the major reasons that this Christmas release may and will find takers at the box-office.

Sandip Ray keeps the suspense evolving till the last reel of the film unlike his previous installments and tries to instigate the audience to use their grey cells.

Final Verdict: There is always a sense of nostalgia when it comes to Feluda. So you might give this a watch this year-end just for the master’s story. Jatayu (read: Santosh Dutta), you were severely missed


The Theory of Everything (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5.

Biographies are always tricky since the director has to walk on a tight rope to maintain a balance between the genuineness of the character (on whom the film is based on) and the obvious cinematic liberty required to make the film entertaining.

And James Marsh (who earlier has some experience with tightrope walkers – remember Man on Wire?) has done a superb job with his latest film The Theory of Everything, which is a biography based on the personal life of world renowned physicist Stephen Hawkings.

theory-of-everything-poster4The Theory of Everything tells the emotional story of Stephen Hawking and his then wife Jane Wilde; a courageous love story that bloomed and strengthened in spite of the fact that Stephen was diagnosed with ‘motor neuron disease’ very early in his college life which eventually (as predicted) made him completely paralysed.

Apparently based on a book written by Jane Hawkings titled ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen’ the film captures the different stages of their love life with incredible honesty. 

During the screening of the film Stephen Hawkings had tears in his eyes as he watched Eddie Redmayne play his character with extraordinary authenticity and brilliance.

Mr.Hawkings also mentioned to director James Marsh in an e-mail that certain parts of the film are so realistic that he thought he was watching himself. Now that’s something!

Stephen-HawkingStephen Hawking was so impressed that he allowed the filmmakers to use his original voice; he also lent his Medal of Freedom medallion and his signed thesis to use as genuine props in the film.

Outstanding performance by Felicity Jones as Jane Hawkings, a lady with tremendous courage, who dared to stand by her lover/husband in remarkably tough situations. 

Though based on the life of a world famous scientist The Theory of Everything deals very less with science and more with Stephen’s personal sentiments.

It’s not a film celebrating Stephen Hawkings as the best physicist of our recent times but it’s about honoring him as a spirited individual who knows how to appreciate life against extraordinary odds. And that is one of the main reasons of the film’s success.

A few emotional scenes are so touchy that i bet you will have a tough time taming your tear bags.

Theory-of-Everything-Poster3Beautifully shot by Benoît Delhomme and awesome music by Jóhann Jóhannsson; the film is surely one of the best biography’s of this year. 

Already nominated in four categories for the Golden Globes and also predicted to be nominated for the Oscars – this is a film that shouldn’t be missed.

A few words of Stephen Hawkings about life and hope:

There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.


The Trip and Trip to Italy

My Ratings for The Trip: 3.6/5 and Trip to Italy 3.4/5.

The Trip (2010) and it’s recent follow-up Trip to Italy (2014) are probably the most entertaining road movies of the recent times,  intelligent comedy dipped and coated in sarcastic British humor.

The combination of good food and exploring new places can’t get better than this.

Warning: The Trip and Trip to Italy contains heavy dosage of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (both playing themselves) and their funny impersonations (sometimes irritating though) as they travel around trying out fancy cuisines.    

Michael Winterbottom known for films like A Mighty Heart and 24 Hour Party People  seems to have found the perfect recipe for such light hearted genre of comedy.  It’s more of dry, tongue-in-cheek kind of humor, very much dialogue-based but entertaining.

Since there is no proper storyline in both The Trip and Trip to Italy, it’s all based on the performances of the two lead actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and the chemistry between them. And they are surprisingly fresh and natural in their performances at being themselves.

With only a hint of their personal lives as the back story they have managed to smooth sail both the films with their classy charm and funny imitation skills (of mostly Hollywood actors).  

Interestingly both these films doesn’t follow a proper written script, most of it is based on improvisation. Then i have to say it’s damn well improvised.

There is also a popular TV series The Trip made by the same director with the same star cast and with similar plot that recently ran it’s second season successfully.

I am afraid that probably more of this ‘Trip’ films (same actor-director combo) may come up in future.

Though i find both the films funny enough (the first one more intriguing and fresh) but frankly won’t be too excited about another sequel. Good films and their characters shouldn’t be over exploited or else they often tend to loose their charm.

Overall witty and amusing, the best thing about The Trip and Trip to Italy is that these films never try too hard to make you laugh but does make you laugh for sure.

Jessabelle and The Babadook (2014)

My Ratings for Jessabelle: 2.5/5. and for The Babadook: 3.5/5.

Seems like a festive week for the horror genre enthusiasts – a rare event when two horror films Jessabelle and The Babadook releases in the Indian theaters on the same friday!

Coincidentally both the films have a connection with past accidents that somehow affects the present lives of the two female lead characters – Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) in Jessabelle and Amelia (Essie Davis) in The Babadook.

But the similarities end there. Jessabelle and The Babadook are completely different both in content and the style of execution; and also in their horror coefficient.

jessabelle-poster2A young girl named Jessabelle, after a tragic car accident becomes crippled and goes back to her childhood home. She finds some video tapes made by her deceased mother and eventually comes to know of the existence of a spirit, which was supposedly waiting for her to come back.

Who is this spirit and why is it haunting Jessabelle? No spoilers remember?

Directed by Kevin Greutert, as the posters and the trailers say, Jessabelle comes ‘from the producers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity.’  I wish this kind of advertisement was enough to scare people out of their wits but unfortunately it isn’t.

A predictable ending, and in spite of good performances by Sarah Snook and Mark Webber, Jessabelle  offers only a few moderately eerie moments that too if you are really willing to be scared.

Babadook-poster1On the other hand The Babadook creates a much better atmosphere for psychological horror.

This film is hyped as one of the best horror flicks of the recent times, and also a psychological thriller almost as good as Polanski’s Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby.

I wouldn’t go that far but The Babadook is undoubtedly one of the better made horror films that successfully turns a scary fairytale into a psychological thriller.

Directed by Jennifer Kent, both the mother Essie Davis and the child Noah Wiseman has acted brilliantly (very well casted as well).

But most importantly the execution of the film, the editing, certain camera angles and the music makes the spooky moments more terrifying. I guess the cinematographer Radek Ladczuk, the editor Simon Njoo and Jed Kurzel for the music needs to be mentioned especially.

A bit repetitive after a certain point but never the less The Babadook is entertainingly horrifying.

So what are you waiting for? Before the year ends make sure you get a good dose of scare.

Do enjoy the horror flicks.

Sulemani Keeda (2014)

My Ratings: 3.8/5.

Sulemani Keeda is the most fun film i have seen in the recent times. A film that is not afraid to explore the simple moments of life and turn them into something hilarious.

The story revolves around Dulal and Mainak, two struggling writers who share a room and their ideas; desperate to make it big in Bollywood.

Gonzo the son of some big producer, the actor waiting to get launched for the last 20 years finally hires these two fresh talents who promise to deliver some ‘out of the box’ ideas.

And then of course Dulal’s love interest Ruma adds some more twists in their lives.

sulemani-keeda-3The USP of this film is exceptionally natural acting and awesome dialogues. The writer-director Amit Masurkar has done a tremendous job, and the fresh cast of the film entirely lives up to the challenge.

Naveen Kasturia (Dulal), Mayank Tewari (Mainak), Aditi Vasudev (Ruma), even Karan Mirchandani (Gonzo) and Krishna Singh Bisht (Pokhriyal) – all have given superb performances. 

Especially the chemistry between the two lead characters, the sensitive, moody Dulal and the street smart, horny Mainak is the spine of the film. Full-on entertainment.

Sulemani Keeda though apparently seems to be a light hearted comedy has also dared to touch a few very sensitive subjects. For example the ability to compromise with your ethics in the professional struggle; then the iconic disturbance in friendship when a girl comes along; and also the realization that loving someone doesn’t always mean being together with that person.

Perfect use of music by Arfaaz Kagalwala and Anurag Shanker, decent  editing by Khushboo Agarwal and cool camera work by Surjodeep Ghosh. Great teamwork.

In the midst of dirty poetry and some adult jokes, lots of flirting and friendly galis (slangs) Sulemani Keeda comes out as a winner.

A so called ‘indie’ film which fortunately has a genuine sense of humor and doesn’t throw cheap slapstick jokes at you in the name of comedy.

Go watch it.