Thugs of Hindostan – the title is a hint, stay from being thugged!

A rebellious army of so called ‘thugs’ fighting against the East India Company with a mission to take revenge for their destroyed monarchy years ago. The story begins with a dumb to death backstory of this single objective of the ‘Thugs’. These group of interestingly dressed warriors, is led by a  guardian, Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) and his ally, a former princess Zafira (Sana Shaikh).
What follows thereafter is a tedious narrative  so predictable that not a single drop of water gets you by surprise.
The only person having a ball in this 2 hour 45 mins hour long stretch is Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan) himself.  Placed at the center of attention but not entertainment , Khan’s energy is straight out of AAA. His eye rolling can make a non die hard fan almost dizzy. Everyone else is misplaced in this saga, picked up from their own original pieces and put awkwardly together. Katrina for one is in her Chameli and Sheila hangover but punished with some unfitting music and dance moves(let’s call them that). Try as you may to approve of all this in the name of her drop dead gorgeousness but nah! Watching a 76 year old Amitabh fence swords is a quite a sight, sadly even that doesn’t land the punch it is expected to. Fatima’s role is missed in a blink.
The music and choreography is bizzare to say the least. The action sequences, the CGI, dialogues, twists, nothing is worth your buck.  Ambitious big-ticket entertainer but dull as a dishwater, yes we feel truly thugged!

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Sacred Games – Finally a compelling & brave web series for the evolved Indian audience

Gripping pace, gritty visuals and graded background score. All this unveiling the stories of two men in parallel timelines, intertwined in the undercurrents of Mumbai’s dark corners.

The opening scene is a disclaimer of the brazen recital that is to follow. The first few minutes set the premise for the best use of a censor free medium. You now know this is for the brave-hearted content hungry audience all set to binge.

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Sanju – Made from the heart, but is this only the first part?

The last time we saw Ranbir Kapoor (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) he was still in his never-ending phase of playing Man-child roles and lip-synching heartbreak songs that top lists. His talent remains unquestionable despite his choices. So when Rajkumar Hirani announced a biopic of his most favourite actor with RK, it was the best of both worlds. The first look of Sanju had the fans, critics, and media going berserk with praises.

The three men of Sanju are outstanding – Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal. If it was called a father-son drama or a friendship story, it would be fine. But here’s what has led to my disappointment.

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Love Per Square Foot – Refreshing, Likeable, could have been less glossy though

The opening frame has Sanjay Chaturvedi  (Vicky Kaushal)  standing on top of his modest railway quarter terrace,  as a portrait of a fairly ambitious millennial, visualising his superpowers through a middle-class lens. This frame to start with is a beautiful balance of dreams and absurd pursuits of reality that are to follow.

The story begins with a promise to embrace reality. Sanjay is a Software Engineer in a bank, Karina D’Souza (Angira Dhar) works in the loan department of the same bank. Both belong to middle-class backgrounds, fighting the day-to-day drudgery of space restrictions in Mumbai.

They both come from culturally opposite households. One from a ramshackle Christian house, in which plaster keeps falling precisely on top of someone’s head, while rest of the place is kept looking like a nice pastel backdrop. The other from a box like a conglomerate of kitchen, hall and bedroom where new guests take over an inmate’s bed every other day. The narrative is filled with plenty of believable characters, peppered with honest quirks keeping the first half’s charm top notch.

In the second half, the Director chooses to hold up the Bollywood wand turn every aspiration into reality in the blink of an eye. This removing of struggle from a Mumbaikar’s life is where the story starts to lose its spell. The realization of dreams moves very fast without the pace in the narrative as such. The shift of focus from ‘square foot’ to ‘love’ is also sudden and misses to maintain the momentum of the first half. There is no gradual love, but there are instances of rickshaw and local train romance that attempt to compensate for the lack of reality. Owing to the talented actors, the chemistry comes naturally despite lack of any build up. Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar make for a delightful pair, keeping us interested in their lives, despite the forced Mumbai-ness.

What works brilliantly though, is the stellar cast. Pathak sisters together are a riot to watch. Ratna Pathak as Mrs. Blossom is so effortlessly accurate with her Bandra-Christian lingo.  ‘Kanpuriya’ Supriya Pathak and Raghubir Yadav light up the screen with their innocent middle-class act. They are all stubborn yet forward-looking and accommodating like most Mumbai parents. These three together and little moments of joy are half the reason for Love per Square foot’s magic!

Undoubtedly it is some refreshing writing and overall a likeable watch. Only if it’s heart would have stayed in the non-Bollywood Mumbai, the emotions could have soared higher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PadMan – great subject, average cinema

In the era of Netflix and binge-watching, we have many a web series and short films on all possible ‘taboo’ subjects (including periods) that commercial cinema still shies away from. Hence the spirit and intent of Padman are worthy of applaud. Of course, you need a powerful star to bring this subject forth and a ton of marketing gimmicks to justify the empowerment and liberation part of the message. But sadly that alone cannot guarantee a good cinematic experience. Continue reading