Review: Secret Superstar is path breaking and ‘Baahubali’ of Hindi films

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Movie Review: Secret Superstar

Ratings: Four stars and beyond

Cast: Aamir Khan, Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Tirth Sharma, Raj Arjun, Shaan and Monali Thakur (guest appearances).

Director: Advait Chandan

Rating: Four stars and beyond

Every Diwali, a string of movies jostle for space to cash on the moolah at the box office and on very rare occasions, a small masterpiece slowly struts its way to stand tall and win hearts. This movie is Secret Superstar, a winner in all aspects, be it the brilliant performances, superbly woven script, screenplay and an endearing charm through the uniquely written characters.

Secret Superstar is a gem that will find its way among the best films churned this year in the Hindi film industry. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it, the ‘Baahubali’ of the B-town.

There is one legend who never ceases to amaze. No prize for guessing, it’s the maverick Aamir Khan who proves once again that he is not just a legendary superstar but knows the pulse of the audience by heart.  An actor who has always given a chance to newcomers by lending credibility to good cinema through the sheer belief in a project, be it a Delhi Belly, Dhobi Ghaat or Peepli Live.

Narration:

Secret Superstar is the story of a middle-class Muslim girl Insia (Zaira Wasim) who secretly nurtures to be a pop idol and she wears a burqa to upload her first song on YouTube. She is helped by her mother Najma (Meher Vij) who incurs the wrath of the husband Raj Arjun, an orthodox and violent man. Secret Superstar narrates Insia’s journey who is helped on her way to stardom by the maverick and narcissist singer, Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan).

The film belongs to Zaira Wasim and as Insia, she is simply terrific, thus proving to be one of the best finds by her mentor Aamir Khan. The girl will go places and case in point is the innocence and vulnerability portrayed with utmost ease.

Meher Vij plays the battered woman Najma where she brings depth and intensity in showcasing her vulnerability. She is simply brilliant. The chemistry between Najma and Zaira as mother-daughter is one of the highs of the movie coupled with the conflict in the climax that has been handled with maturity by director Advait Chandan.

Of course, the romance between Zaira and Tirth Sharma playing Chintan is refreshing and takes us back to the teen days as kids. The director injects freshness in the innocent romance scenes that break monotonous moments if there is any.  Raj Arjun delivers a composed and restrained performance as the chauvinist husband.

Coming to the man himself, Mr. Perfectionist Aamir Khan plays the ‘has been’ singer Shakti Kumar and showcases the various shades of wickedness, crass, lust or loud act in a convincing manner. The costumes, be it, the tacky jeans or tee-shirt may appear stereotypical in places but Aamir Khan lends so much charm to this act to make it one of the coolest characters enacted in recent years. This act is the film’s USP that audience irrespective of age or gender will love. He gives an entirely different shade to the Gabbars or various characters played by Shakti Kapoor. Somehow, Aamir Khan reminds us of his cameo song, I like you like I hate you in Delhi Belly or Ghulam.

Director Advait Chandan gently touches the issues that women face in everyday life and how voices are stifled through violence. The climax scene where Meher Vij gives it to her husband bears a powerful impact that drives home a valid point, look at the aggressor straight in the eyes and show no fear.

What’s Not!:

The main drawback in the movie is the lack of foot tapping numbers taking into account that Secret Superstar is about pop aspirations, music, and dreams. Except Mein Kaun Hoon and Mere Pyaari Aami, the film lacks the kind of music that gel with the film’s theme and it fails to stay in the mind for a long time. There are few cliché sequences, right from breaking the laptop or father’s plan to force his daughter to get married to a much older man in Saudi Arabia where he is settling for a job.

Final Words:

Secret Superstar comes as a breeze of fresh air that captivates the audience, in particular, the young generation and shows what drama is all about with the right dose of emotions, laughter, and aspirations. Of course, Monali Thakur as herself adds to the freshness of the theme. The movie will pave the way for the rightful place of pop music and define its place in Hindi cinema in years to come. Secret Superstar is path-breaking.

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Film Review: The State vs Jolly LLB nails it to perfection

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Film Review: The State vs Jolly LLB

Director: Subhash Kapoor

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Anu Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla

Rating: Three and a half stars

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Image credit: Google/http://static.dnaindia.com/sites/default/files/2016/12/16/529334-jolly-llb-2-poster-collage.jpg

At one glance:

Enter Jagdishwar Mishra, aka Jolly LLB, making way on his scooter in the world of two-pieces lawyers lingering on the streets like an open market. He is innocent and doesn’t flinch in doubling as a clerk and help in the house of senior advocate, Rizvi. It is always a tough job to live up to the expectations of a super successful franchise and that too, situational comedy, or for that matter, a legal satire. The trio of Akshay Kumar-Saurabh Shukla-Annu Kapoor lives up to the expectations. The State vs Jolly LLB is a must watch for the verdict is positive for highlighting the flaws of the legal system and lawyers dallying tricks, in a light-headed manner.

The real hero of the film is the tight screenplay that brings all the elements together and boosting the narrative coupled with the one-liners that brand Akshay carries forward. Akshay Kumar is the hero of the masses and he doesn’t fail in his comic antics. He is near perfect as the commoner-cum-jolly Lucknowi seedha saadha lawyer, who doesn’t shy in fooling a helpless woman Hina (Sayani Gupta). The story gathers steam from there and doesn’t look back, moving at a frenetic pace. As the wronged woman whom the system has murdered, Sayani Gupta as Hina Siddiqui is terrific, explodes on-screen and shines in the brief emotional scenes. Certainly, the girl has a brilliant future as an actor.

Back to Akki, he is simply brilliant as Jolly and his terrific one-liners are the show stealers, ‘Kya aap baata sakte hai ki Salman Khan ki shaadi kab hogi? Beta jo vakeel paise wapas kar de na…woh vakeel hi nahi hota… dekhna Pushpa, main aise aise cases jeetunga ke duniya kahegi…woh jaa raha hai Jagdishwar Mishra aur uski biwi Pushpa Pandey Rolls Royce mein…Pushpa!’ He simply nails every single scene that comes his way and his terrific comic timing simply elevates the film. The good ole’ commoner goofy Akshay is back. In short, our Khiladi Kumar is in splendid form and at his exceptional best.

As the judge, Saurabh Shukla is simply hilarious and is quite a show-stealer, whether practicing the dance moves for his daughter’s wedding, watering his plant or discussing Manish Malhotra’s lehenga. He’s one of the best reasons to watch the film and as one watches Saurabh-Annu Kapoor-Akshay, the makers must take a bow for this almost perfect casting in this courtroom satire. Annu Kapoor plays the evil lawyer, in charge of defending accused inspector Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra) for sending an innocent man in the guillotine of death and swapping him with a terrorist. Annu Kapoor gains the upper edge in the initial court proceedings and during the  conflict with Akshay outside the court. It’s the trio that holds up The State vs Jolly LLB giving the film the high moments that soars above the prequel, making us forget the initial outing.

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Huma Qureshi is one of the most talented artists in the film industry for whom I have immense respect for. She is an electrifying talent but sadly, in this outing, Huma as Pushpa doesn’t have much to do. But, she has her moments, be it when Akshay is shot and she yells, or the whisky drinking wife, served by her husband in Lucknow. Of course, one of the scenes that highlights her chemistry with Akshay is strengthened by this dialogue, Tum dekhna Pushpa, main aise aise cases jeetunga ke duniya kahegi…woh jaa raha hai Jagdishwar Mishra aur uski biwi Pushpa Pandey Rolls Royce mein…Pushpa!

The second outing does suffer from minor glitches, be it the film’s length which could have been chopped off or the chasing scene in Kashmir where Jolly fled with one of the witness. Of course, there are certain scenes in court which was exaggerated like Anu Kapoor’s dharna. But, it has been executed so well to push further the envelope of satire that no one is complaining.

Final Remarks:

It’s a herculean task to live up to a super successful sequel and director Subhash Kapoor has accomplished his task brilliantly with a water tight script, screenplay and narration. The word boring simply doesn’t exist in the director’s dictionary. The holi song, Go Pagal, is pictured in a delightful manner. Of course, Akshay Kumar nails it in the climax: ‘Iss duniya ke sabse bada jaahil ne kahan tha…ishq aur jung mein sab kuch jayaaz hai. Kyun ki agar aisa hai, to phir border par sipaaiho ke sar katne wale bhi jayaaz hai aur jawan ladkio par acid fekne wale aashiq bhi.’ Jolly LLB 2 is a satire that sends a powerful message highlighting the plight of commoners when Senior advocate Rizvi during a disciplinary committee to bar Jolly from practising says, if we start barring lawyers there won’t be any in court knowing the conduct of most of the them. Bang on.

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Film Review: Raees is sure shot ‘masala’ bonanza

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Movie Review: Raees

Producer: Red Chillies Entertainment & Excel Entertainment

Director: Rahul Dholakia

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mahira Khan, Atul Kulkarni and Sunny Leone

Music: Ram Sampath

Rating: Three and  a half

In recent times, Shah Rukh Khan is exploring all avenues and taking risks few actors would to shock his audience and treading on the less traveled path with films like Fan, Dear Zindagi and now Raees. The best part is that from a creative angle, his choice of films are ringing in benefits where he is experimenting big time and pushing himself to the next level as an actor.

Director Rahul Dholakia is the same man who gave us the hard-hitting and one of the best movies ever made in the history of Indian cinema, Parzania and when he teams up with SRK, there is bound to be novelty in the way the film is crafted. On the onset, I must confess my fascination for movies or novels that revolve around the life of gangsters and find them particularly sexy with the power play, conflict, and the old-age victory of good over evil, providing the director or narrator comes with a kickass story, paisa vasool pace and, of course, histrionic performances.

The film takes us back to the 80s where Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) want to succeed on his own terms as a bootlegger and shows his mighty power that makes his people love him to death and his foes loving to hate him. Shah Rukh incarnates the Robinhood of the reel in a modern fashion and incarnates material aspirations. It somehow reminds me of his role in Ram Jaane, one film that I loved but which was built more on the commercial premise. Alternately, Raees is one film that marries commercial and realism in varying degrees. In short, the film’s USP is built skilfully on the conflict between Raees and Jaideep Majumdar, brilliantly depicted by Nawaaz.

The dialogues are cleverly written and designed to tap the pulse of the masses, ‘Baniye Ka Dimaag Aur Miyanbhai Ki Daring’ and ‘Ammi Jaan Kehti Thi, Koi Dhanda Chota Nahi Hota Aur Dhande Se Bada Koi Dharam Nahi Hota’. It stands as the stuff that would garner seethis, taalis and coin throwing on the screen. Now, that’s what mass appeal is all about and makes us remember the heydays of masala in the 80s and 90s. Raees is very masaledar with all the box ingredients, whether it’s the sets recreating the 80s to give it an authentic feel or the cat-and-mouse game between SRK and Nawaaz.  The pace and the action sequence that leads to jumping from vintage car to flock of goats and slaughter-house and meat mandi in ‘Bombay’ ups the quotient and sends an adrenaline rush. The pace is swift and tautly helmed by Rahul Dholakia.

The movie belongs to Shah Rukh Khan, right from the word go and he carries the film entirely on his shoulders, delivering in raw intensity, showcasing his acting repertoire. King Khan gives depth to his character Raees and it’s something he hasn’t done in recent times. SRK showcases his mettle in the scene where he assaults the Chief Minister who takes the Rath Yatra out. It’s a huge gamble to play Raees and he does so with gusto. He is matched at every step by Nawaaz as the obstinate cop and his dialogues, for instance, Dhandha band kar le, Warna saans lena bhi mushkil kar dunga’, in the first half is a sure shot winner. Nawaaz is simply magnificent and sensational playing the cop and the clash with SRK is top-notch. Atul Kulkarni delivers a notable performance. Mahira Khan looks glamorous and performs decently.

On the flip side, the terrific pace in the first half slows down to post the interval and except few songs like the recreated Laila main Laila and Zaalima, the rest doesn’t live up to the expectations. However, the climax is sensational and unfurls in high-voltage entertainment where Rahul Dholakia packs a punch in the treatment meted out. It’s not the run-of-the-mill type but works wonders for the audience. The director is the real hero in extracting the best in SRK and Nawaaz that makes Raees a sure-shot bonanza for the audience. A rare gem that comes once in a while and something we haven’t been treated to in recent times. Sunny Leone deserves a mention for her sensational dance number where she scorches the scene. Raees is a sure shot winner. I love the dialogue, Dhande mein koi HinduMuslim nahi hota’ which says a lot on humans and makes a perfect pitch for unity in an age if intolerance. You cannot afford to miss Raees. Battery sala!

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Movie Review: Wazir is a thrilling game

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Film Review: Wazir

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, John Abraham (special appearance), Neil Nitin Mukesh (Guest appearance) and Manav Kaul

Producers: Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raj Kumar Hirani

Story: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Director: Bejoy Nambiar

Rating: Four stars

 

A game of chess is all about making the right moves. What if your next move fails to trap your target? There is no going back in chess and perhaps, more in real life. The Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s produced Wazir and executed by Bejoy Nambiar is a thriller about chest, friendship between Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) and Pandit-ji (Amitabh Bachchan) united by a common destiny to avenge the enemy. Heart pounding action and engrossing narrative, Wazir notches up the thriller genre to an octane level and spinning the web, churning surprise after surprise to make it one of the most delightful and best offering in recent times. Simply breath-taking and mesmerizing.

Sizzling Quotient:

The Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar chemistry in Wazir remains the forte of the movie and both actors complement each other with utmost ease. Amitabh Bachchan is a maven at chess and as Pandit-ji confined to the wheel chair, he is sensational and delivers an outstanding performance that will fetch him several awards this year. The raw intensity and his eyes muscle doing all the talking, Bachchan doesn’t need to wave through his hands and legs to make a powerful impact on the audience. It’s a sheer delight to watch him perform in Wazir where he calls the shots. Farhan Akhtar plays a suspended ATS officer Danish Ali who founds in Pandit-ji an ally and he is effortless in all the scenes in the movie. It’s a treat to watch him perform and he is at his natural ease, displaying angst and loyalty for his friend that will fetch him accolades. Aditi Rao Hydari doesn’t has much to prove in the movie and the coy actress puts a good act.  In a cameo, John Abraham plays the part he is asked to in a decent manner while Neil Nitin Mukesh is fine in his one scene.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a master story teller and creates one of the most gripping screenplay and narrative that keeps the audience glued. The screenplay is fabulous and tight that makes Wazir one of the most entertaining thriller of the year  and credit to Bejoy Nambiar for executing the film in a heart pounding from start-to-finish. The first half is simply breath-taking and post interval, the movie takes off where it left. Very few films can do that and the narrative is not lost. The climax gives one goose bumps and doling surprise after surprise. That’s the catch about Wazir. The rippling effect is psychological and if one doesn’t follow Wazir, it takes a huge effort to get swayed back in the movie. Brilliant cinematography, sharp editing and fine technical aspects makes Wazir a winning fare for the audience.

Stand up scenes

-It’s an celluloid experience to watch Bachchan and Farhan playing chess in the middle of the night and getting swayed over Vodka, throwing light moments over Russian women. The scene is sheer delight and the frame competently captures the friendship between Big B and Farhan to make it one of the best scenes.

-The scene where Bachchan hurls a shoe on the car of the minister’s car and sitting stoic like a statue on his wheel chair is sensational. Simple expression but plain effective cum powerful. That’s acting at its best. What more can a lover of cinema asks?

-The climax where Farhan rushes to watch Bachchan leaving a video message for him leaves one spell bound by its rich execution and emotions displayed by actors. It’s a novel concept making actors interact, one sitting and the other speaking in a video message. It’s the Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s touch.

Fizzling out show:

There is a lack of chemistry between Farhan Akhtar and Aditi Rao Hydari during the romantic moments they share on screen which is a pity considering that the latter has a huge potential as an actor. Aditi has very less scenes and she should have been given more space to prove her worth. She can do wonders where she showed in the few scenes that she is not only naturally photogenic but excellent.

Director Bejoy Nambiar has brilliantly weaved Wazir, giving it the sharp edge worthy of a thriller and I’d call it the director’s cut keeping the scenes and narrative tight-cum-engaging. One can see the Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s touch, in particular, in the scene where Bachchan hurls the shoes and it reminds me of the novelty of capturing emotions that he did in Eklavya. Remember the screen that went blank! The amazing song Atrangi Yaara, sung by Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar,  with Vidhu making an appearance, in the end credit, is sensationally beautiful and one is hooked to it. A perfect ode to friendship.

Irrespective of Wazir’s box office collection, it doesn’t diminish the Vidhu Vinod Chopra-Bejoy Nambiar-Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar combined effort in starting the year with a bang. If you haven’t watched Wazir, hop on for you cannot afford to miss such cinematic brilliance.

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Film Review: Dilwale an ode to SRK-Kajol sizzling chemistry

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Film Review: Dilwale

Director: Rohit Shetty

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Vinod Khanna, Kabir Bedi, Boman Irani and Varun Sharma

Produced by: Red Chillies Entertainment

Rating: Three and a half stars

It’s King Khan teaming up with Kajol in Rohit Shetty’s mad caper and one expects power house of energy and laugh riot. Dilwale also marks the return of Kajol on the silver screen and in the mind of many, it’s her sizzling chemistry with SRK represents the film’s USP and brand value. Has Rohit Shetty been able to create the magic of DDLJ, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Karan Arjun for that matter? Quite an unfair comparison for Rohit Shetty belongs to a different genre of cinema whose aim is to entertain in leap and bound.

My verdict: The prospect of Dilwale is boosted by the sizzling Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol chemistry who stood apart in this entertaining flick and like in all Shetty’s films, there are guns, cars and villains flying everywhere but, in the end, it does what a masala movie does best: entertain merrily. For me, Dilwale is a winner that has only one objective: Reach out to the masses and is high on entertainment package.

If there is one power couple on silver screen that sizzle, it’s Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. When Rohit Shetty brings both of them together in Dilwale, it’s a sensual cracker that makes everything fade in comparison to the terrific actors that both SRK and Kajol are. Make no mistake, Dilwale is all about high voltage fun and Rohit Shetty leaves no stone unturned to portay SRK-Kajol sizzling chemistry at its best. What a delight to watch both actors gelling in every possible frame and every time, they are together, it brings the screen alive! Together, they are sublime and sensational, winning the heart of fans cum admirers in every frame. Both SRK and Kajol add to the unlimited fun, carrying the film to escalating height to make it a winner all the way.

The scene where Kajol reveals her true self to SRK, as the don’s daughter remain the forte of the movie and is one of the most captivating scene, raising the energy to an octane level. Kudos to Rohit Shetty for pumping the adrenaline rush. The song, Gerua, reminds us of Suraj Hua Madham from Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham, showcasing the terrific SRK-Kajol chemistry. SRK is simply charming, charismatic and electrifying as Raj and Kaali while Kajol plays Meera to perfection and is the soul of Dilwale. Varun Dhawan stands his own ground in the presence of stalwarts and his one liners are simply terrific. He provides the laugh in his natural act while Kriti Sanon is photogenic and decent. The supporting cast is lead by Boman Irani who puts an effortless, first rate act and is heart warming to see actors like Vinod Khanna and Kabir Bedi staging a comeback.

On the flip side, one can argue that Rohit Shetty could have chosen a better script with Dilwale, bringing together after four years the couple of the decade and the writing tends to move at snail pace in parts of the movie. I bet it’s got to do with the fact that Rohit Shetty’s forte is brainless comedy but Dilwale is a blend of romance and slapstick comedy. Somehow, the two stand in conflict that makes Dilwale stumble to a certain extent. The film is also a tad too long that makes it stagnate in part. Johnny Lever humor appears to be forced on the audience and the actor has become boring, predictable and irritating nowadays.

The Ramlal-Pogo joke is simply hilarious referring to SRK-Kajol and Varun telling his brother, played by SRK, Mein aapka mang ka sindhoor bharna chata hai provokes peal of laughter. On the whole, Dilwale has a sole aim: To entertain. The movie received lots of flak but it never posed as its ambition to educate people or belongs to a different kind of cinema. It’s entertainment in its best form. The songs of Dilwale, be it Gerua, Janam Janam or Tikur Tukur are breath taking and it’s one of the best soundtracks delivered in recent times. Dilwale is a cherry on the cake for the super sizzling and palatable SRK-Kajol chemistry, Rohit Shetty’s direction and terrific one liners.