Reviews

Ittefaq review – The film falls short of being a perfect whudonnit thriller

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A remake of the original 1969 thriller with the same name, Ittefaq is a modern day reboot of the Yash Raj classic and an addition to the genre of murder mystery thrillers churned out from Bollywood.  While newbie director Abhay chopra crafts out a visually arresting thriller with some interesting twists and turns, the film falters with uneven pacing and a shoddy climax.

This stylishly made thriller comprises of two deaths, two suspects and various possibilities.  A best selling author Vikram seth ( Sidharth Malhotra) is on the run and is a primary suspect for killing his own wife. The same night, he lands up at Maya’s ( Sonakshi) house where her husband is murdered inside the flat.  Enters Dev Verma ( Akshaye Khanna) , the police  officer who gets the charge of investigating this convoluted double murder case, and gets into the act  to dig out the veracity of both the accused and their versions  of that fateful night.

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Laced with an intriguing premise, the film carries on at a brisk pace and keeps you engaged for the most part. The narration oscillates between past and present, with  the suspects weaving  their side of the story alternatively.  But the film starts losing steam in the latter portions with contrived circumstances coming to the fore.  The big climactic twist, although well shot, is not entirely convincing. The director also fails to gear up the film with the required sense of  urgency and tension which could have elevated this film to be the perfect thriller of this year.

But more than the mystery engulfed in Ittefaq, the bigger mystery for me was  why we see so less of Akshaye Khanna on the big screen. He is absolutely brilliant in the film. As an unfathomable officer unravelling the truth  of this complex murder case, he is a mirror of grit and gumption in the film’s more authentic intense scenes. Watch him chiding his juniors in the crime scene or interrogating the suspects in the jail’s locker room – you just dont want to move away your eyes from him .   Equally convincing is Sidharth Malhotra, who blends vulnerability and passion in equal measure to weave out an honest act.  The same cannot be said about Sonakshi though, who comes up with an enervated and one dimensional performance, with she doing very little to invest energy into it.

Ittefaq is sleek and stylish, but its not compelling . And thats a bad news for a film which promises to be taut thriller. But the good news is that we have Akshaye khanna in Ittefaq, who makes up many of the films flaws with his bravura performance.

 

     POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING – 3/5

 

 

 

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Reviews

Golmaal Again – It has some genuinely funny moments

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The 4th installment of  Golmaal promises what the comedy franchise has been churning out for the last 11 years – mindless entertainment . As the films tagline says , no logic only Magic, Golmaal 4 doesn’t dissapoint on the no logic count, as the film is frequently funny which keeps the viewers engaged in laughing out loud.

The good old gang of five — Gopal (Ajay), Madhav(Arshad), Lucky (Tusshar), Laxman (Shreyas) and Laxman, again! (Kunal) – are back with a bang, and this time in a haunted house.  Joining the  gang this time is  the clairvoyant Anna Mathew ( Tabu), who has the ability to see and talk to spirits . Its predominantly through her eyes that the film unfolds, with Parineeti (Chopra) , Prakash Raj  and Neil nitin mukesh playing other critical roles.

Like the previous installments of Golmaal, the highlight of Golmaal Again is the solid camaraderie between the male leads .  Whether its the lisping Laxman ( a terrific shreyas) or the prankster Madhav ( Arshad) ,all five of them create a  riot on screen. Watch the scene where a lisping  Laxman ( Shreyas) tries to send a scared Gopal ( Ajay) to sleep by singing a lullaby , and you will fall off your chair laughing . Ajay too, is in great form, playing the role of a bully who is horrified of ghosts. The film is resplendent with sharp and corny dialogues-  “Din ko dus dus ko dhota hai. Raat ko dar dar ke sota hai,” Johny Lever efficiently reprises his role of Pappi who loses his memory at the drop of a hat, and Sanjay Mishra delivers some of the best lines of the film with his usual panache and flair.  The film also smartly  derives most of the humour involving  an ageing Ajay falling in love with a much younger  Parineeti, with clever references to films like Lamhe and Cheeni Kum. Director Rohit Shetty additionally introduces  a horror angle this time which heightens up both the entertainment and emotional quotient.

While the first half moves at a brisk pace , its the second half which gets pedestrian for most of the time, when a backstory is revealed . The proceedings ranges from funny to average in this part, leading to a over the top climax.

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But what keeps the film going is its terrific energy derived from its principal cast and crisp editing, bright locations and some peppy numbers. Golmaal 4 is definitely not original neither it has any logic, but it was never meant  to be like that.  If you want to have a blast and laugh out loud this festive period, Golmaal 4 will surely do the honours. Its the best of this Golmaal franchise.

    POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING – 3.5/5 

Reviews

Raees Review -Despite hiccups, the film keeps you entertained.

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POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING – 3.5/5

Its often difficult for filmmakers to keep a even balance between a good story and its relevant treatment. Raaes, directed by Rahul Dholakia  and starring Shahrukh in the lead role, gets the balance right for most of the part, as he constructs a engrossing tale chronicling the rise of a small time bootlegger to a scandalous liquor baron of Gujarat. Its heartening to see Shahrukh , (who is also the co producer of the film)stepping out of his comfort zone and churning out a fascinating drama which moves at a breathneck speed in the first half, but loses a bit of steam post intermission due to irrelevant sub plots . Yet, there is lot to appreciate in this film.

Set in the 70’s , the film unfolds in a small city of Fatehpura in Gujarat, where we are introduced to a poor and diligent  boy  Raaes, who through his sharp and temperamental  mind , wins the heart of a local bootlegger and starts working for him. Possessing an ambition to scale up, he branches out to start his own business. He rises to to the top to emerge a liquor baron and a revered figure,  with his baniye ka dimaag and lots of daring and in the process, he faces obstacles and ultimately his nemesis in the form of ACP Majumdar ( a terrific Nawazuddin)

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The first half is riveting stuff, as we see Raees extrapolating  his business ruthlessly. He aces all the right moves to emerge as a menacing and revered figure in the illegal liquor trade industry. But post intermission , the film slackens and loses focus. Predictability steeps in shape of venal and corrupt politicians and how they use the same trade and tricks to stop the juggernaut of Raaes, who becomes the messiah of the poor people .  But its the fascinating duel between ACP Majmudar and Raees that keep you hooked to the proceedings till the end.  The soundtrack of the film is another high point of the film, which keep the story well oiled throughout.

Nawazuddin Sidiqqui, playing the indomitable cop  with a dogged determination to pin down Raees  is absolutely outstanding . The witty repartees and the constant contest between the two are the high points of the film. Mahira Khan, playing the love interest of Raees exudes confidence and is charming in  a role  which actually, could have been done without her. The usually dependable Zeeshan Ayub delivers a committed performance as the sidekick of Raees.

But Raees, expectedly, belongs to Shah Rukh, who brings in  all his  swagger and style and mixes it with the right notes to deliver one of his finest performances till date . Playing the antagonist  with grey shades and  a heart of gold, Shahrukh is in command right from the first scene till the end.  Menacing as the ruthless gangster and holding is own in poignant moments, he pitches in a finely nuanced portrayal completely devoid of his usual mannerisms.

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Raees is flawed, yes, but its worth it for its sheer entertainment value.Watch it for Shahrukh and Nawaz as they deliver ample bang for your buck.

Reviews

“Dangal”Review – Take a bow!Aamir and the girls will win your hearts.

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         POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING – 4/5 

Straight up, Dangal is one of the finest sport films coming out of Bollywood stable in recent times.  Based on the real life story of the wrestler  Mahavir Phogat and his daughters,   Dangal not only chronicles their  ardous journey to reach the highest echelon in a male dominated sport of wrestling,  it also strikingly depicts their gritty battle against a parochial society with a feudal mindset of gender prejudice.

When former wrestler Mahavir Phogat ( Aamir Khan) has to renounce his  dreams to pursue his single minded purpose of winning Gold for India, he resolves to train his young daughters Geeta and Babita as professional wrestlers  . The daughters go through the  grind under an unrelenting father and against all odds, achieve historic milestones to bring glory to India.

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A riveting tale of grit and gumption, Dangal is richly textured with an engaging screenplay and terrific writing.  Director Nitesh Tiwari nicely blends a healthy mix of emotions and poise with the right doze of tongue in cheek humour, never resorting to any sort of artifice. In this process, he successfully creates the right atmospherics and several poignant moments between the father-daughter duo. Though there is no scope for  surprise here in the story, since the Phogat daughters  journey is a fact known to everyone,  you are absolutely transfixed right from the opening scene till the rousing climax . The local dangal and wrestling championship matches are excellently crafted, and despite the usual contrivances expected from a Bollywood sports film, you end up rooting for the battered and courageous daughters . dangal2

The new girls are absolutely top notch. Both the younger and senior versions of Geeta and Babita ( Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar) are brilliant in their intense physical transformation and in the nail biting wrestling sequences. Their emotional delineation , especially with their father,  is heart wrenching.  Sakshi Tanwar as the supporting wife and caring mother is effective in a subdued role. Aparshakti Khurrana, as the nephew of Senior Phogat and a tortured brother of the girls, is a delight to watch. He enlivens the screen with his terrific comic timing .

But Dangal derives its core strength from Aamir khan, who unsurprisingly, delivers a sterling performance yet again. As an  ageing, battered and bruised national time winner turned coach  Mahavir Phogat, Aamir’s performance is devoid of any sort of vanity, hitting all the right notes in a thoroughly measured way. He brings a distinct sense of vulnerability in his characterization, with greying hair and pot bellied physique.  Watch him in one of the  agonizing scenes where he wrestles with his arrogant daughter and gets  bogged down to ground , losing his breath – it will choak your throat and bring tears to your eyes.  Dangal is one of the actors best performances, and proves yet again why he is considered the best amongst his peers.

Encompassing of towering performances from its entire cast and inspired by a spirited lead actor, Dangal is a winner all the way.  Highly relevant in current times, Dangal is undoubtedly the perfect end to 2016.

Reviews

Kahaani 2 review – Balan’s terrific act keeps you glued in this uneven thriller!

kahaani-2-review-1                            POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING : 3/5 

Straight up, Kahaani 2 is no way  related to its enormously praiseworthy 2012 prequel Kahaani . But one can easily gauge  the commonalities in terms of aesthetics and texture of the film, which are absolutely spot on. But though director Sujoy Ghosh derives a conundrum on a intriguing base to his much awaited sequel  , Kahaani 2  falters due to sloppy writing and underwhelming climax, after a gripping first half.

Kahaani 2 begins on a terrific note, with a riveting plot unfolding at a brisk space. Vidya Sinha ( Balan) is a struggling middle aged lady  staying on the outskirts on Kolkata. Her only objective in life is to get her paralyzed daughter Mini get treated in US. But her life turns upside down when she  meets with a horrific accident while searching for her missing daughter one night. Enters Sub inspector Inderjeet singh ( Arjun Rampal) who starts investigating the case and untangles the mystery surrounding Vidya Sinha and her past when she was Durga Rani Singh.

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The makers weave out the plot perfectly, with a engrossing  narrative  alternating  between past and present. The actual core  of the story gets  terrifying and the simmering tension unfolding in Vidya’s life gets so  absorbing that you just cant take your eyes off screen. Adding to it the authentic mix of superbly crafted  atmospherics  and you know we have a winner on hands. But its the second half where the writing becomes sloppy and circumstances starts getting contrived . The pacing  gets  slow and the twists and turns becomes predictable. One is in for a huge disappointment when the film reaches its crescendo of climax because you might have  already guessed what it is going to be.

But what keeps you glued in this unsatisfying thriller are its performances , especially by its leading lady Vidya Balan, who is in a superlative form after a string of failures. In a completely deglamorized look and without any artifice, Balan delivers a knockout performance which is so genuine that you will end up asking more of her. Its a brutally honest performance by an actor who takes huge strides with this act.  Arjun Rampal ably supports her with a impressive act, efficiently internalizing the emotions of a caring husband and an officer who mostly goes with his gut feeling.  Jugal Hansraj , Manini Chaddha and Amba Sanyal lend credibility in their short supporting roles,  but a special mention of Kharaj Mukherjee here, playing the reporting officer for Rampal. He is an absolute delight to watch on screen.

Kahaani 2 lacks consistency and fails to clutch on its grip on the engaging premise it so skillfully builts up in its first half,  but its definitely watchable because it has so much going for it . Just watch it for the brilliance of Balan , and i am sure you wont be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

Reviews

Dear Zindagi Review – Oh Dear !Life Lessons..

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         POPOCORN ENTERTAINMENT – 2.5/5 

I have always felt that portraying a slice of the life film on big screen is a complex equation. The basic intent of the film is actually known beforehand – to make the viewer consume a zipped in life enrichment cocktail . But its the execution of the film which can make or mar such a film.  Right from the day zero when the refreshing promos of Dear Zindagi were revealed, one had a fairly good idea what this cinema is going to offer. And straight up, Dear Zindagi definitely has its moments, but the weak links outnumbers the strong ones and you end up a tad disappointed at the end.

Kaira ( Alia), an intelligent photographer with a mind of her own, is a independent woman every girl of todays times will relate to . Her free spirit and bohemian approach towards life lands her in a big mess – a string of failed relationships with men and a disillusioned outlook towards life. Not to forget, our girl has a torrid past which makes her insecure , and a negative bond with her parents. Enters Dr Jehangir Khan ( Shah Rukh), a therapist who helps her heal and fix her inner fears through the lens of optimism and hope.

Gauri Shinde, who made the endearing English Vinglish back in 2012, helms the directorial hat here and sets up the pace of the film nicely, showcasing Kaira’s desperation in scaling up her career and filling in with  some humorous banters along the way with her group of close friends.   But you cant fail to notice how the director bungles up the promising premise with a bland and a over stretched out second half which tests your patience with innumerable monologues .   Kairas angst towards her life is not properly fleshed out , and her inconsistent  relationships with men too are not built  properly. The narrative gets tedious , and it takes the tone of sermonizing which disconnects you from the proceedings going on screen.

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But its the terrific performances derived from the central cast  where Gauri Shinde needs to be lauded . Alia Bhatt is exceptional to the core here, never ever hitting a false note. As a women dealing with her inner demons , Alia brings Kaira alive with the right amount of vulnerability and anxiety without a dollop of artifice. Watch her in the emotional outburst scenes during the pre climax portions and you will simply end up admiring her. Shahrukh Khan is suitably restrained as Dr Jehangir, without his usual  mannerisms . It is a dignified portrayal from a superstar who never takes the driving seat and allows Alia to take centre stage. The onscreen chemistry between the two lead actors is highly refreshing, as they bring their own level of comfort and candour to the front. The rest of the men ( Angad, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar) dont have much screen time, but i was thoroughly impressed by the gang of buddies who were effortless in their performances.

Sadly, what this cast deserved was a solid treatment and screenplay, which would have done wonders to the film. In one of the very important scenes of the film, Jug (Jehangir) says “Genius is one who knows when to stop“. Hope the makers would have adhered to this logic as well while making the film.

Reviews

Ae Dil Hain Mushkil Review – Laced with terrific performances , this one is a winner all the way..

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                  POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING : 3.5/5 

With his latest emotional roller coaster Ae Dil Hain Mushkil, Karan johar finally comes off age from his rom com days (Kuch kuch hota hain) to a more matured take on enduring and platonic emotions of friendship and love. From  Pyaar dosti hain to dosti main sukoon hain,  ADHM revisits the theme of unreciprocated love with an honest and sensitive take on human relationships.

Ayan  ( Ranbir) and Alizeh (Anushka) hook up at a bar and end up being friends , with lots in common- both are crazy about bollywood songs, making fun about each others partners and both want to live life Kingsize. Complexity arises when Ayan gets attracted to Alizeh wants more from the relationship . She just wants to keep him as her best friend. Ayan is heartbroken, both seperate and find solace in different partners. Alizen with her ex  Ali ( Fawad) and  Ayan  with a divorcee – poet Saba ( Aishwarya).

Staying well within his comfort boundaries  of a ravishing star cast, exotic locales and soulful music, Karan Johar weaves out a complex yet  a genuinely engaging drama  of love and friendship which is bound to stay with your hearts and mind for long. You might get a sense of deja vu of karans own films in several scenes, but the authenticity of human emotions is sublime here through a  richly layered story which is weaved out with several poignant moments . The humour is laced with candour, and heartbreak is welled out with subtlety and  no superficiality.The chemistry between the two leads is so infectious and zany that you simply end up loving their banter, jokes and arguments. Though the film slackens a bit during post intermission , it pitches right up with a slight twist which i am sure will bring tears to your eyes towards the climax.

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But the biggest strength of ADHM lies in  the riveting performances of its lead couple which keeps you invested throughout . The hugely talented Anushka Sharma is a definite treat to watch in every frame, pitching all the right notes  . She echoes the complexity and honesty of Alizeh with absolute  remarkability.  Aishwarya in a extended cameo of a poet justifies her role, and the same goes with Fawad Ali who is perfectly fits the role of a DJ. But its Ranbir kapoor who hits it out of the park with a superlative performance. His facial canvas encompassing emotions ranging from confusion to heartbreak is so heartening that you just cant take away your eyes from him. This one is a masterstroke from this magnificent actor.

 

Ably supported by a deluge of soulful tunes and music, ADHM provides a platform for a hero who loses out in love, yet wins the heart of love and affection of the viewer. Just go and watch it for the bravado of Ranbir and Anushka.