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



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.


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.


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.


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.






Dear Zindagi Review – Oh Dear !Life Lessons..



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.


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.


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


                  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.


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.





Shivaay Review – Breathtaking visuals, but lacks soul.


                  POPCORN ENTERTAINMENT RATING : 2.5/5

The much anticipated Ajay Devgn starrer Shivaay arrives this Diwali, and with much fanfare and hype surrounding the film ( it has been in the making for the last 2 years). And Shivaay starts with a bang, with a breathtaking   introduction of Shivaay, the mountaineer  descending the surreal mountains amidst the terrific background score of Bolo Har Har.  This visually outstanding  introduction scene sets  the tone nicely for an adrenaline pumping action adventure extravaganza to be unfolded . But despite a simple yet compelling premise, Shivaay ends  up as a half baked and humdrum film exposed with a shallow story.

With a plot loosely based on the Liam Nesson action flick Taken, the film evolves around a highly skilled mountaineer Shivaay ( Ajay Devgn), whose 8 year old mute daughter Gaura ( Ebigail) gets abducted on the streets of Bulgaria. The  father’s vigorous search and scour for her daughter and their emotional bond forms the crux of the story.


Shivaay’s biggest strength is its jaw dropping canvas and terrific execution of action sequences, which are simply outstanding. Special mention of the avalanche and an elongated car chase sequence which will blow your mind away. Also, Shivaays transformation into a mean machine on a killing spree is well portrayed. But the film falters miserably on several accounts, the primary being its duration. With a running time of almost 3 hours ,  Shivaay exhausts you with an overstretched climax and a poorly weaved out screenplay. With almost every frame focussing on emotional strings of a father daughter relationship, it gets overtly weary since you fail to connect to the characters. Also, overindulgence on action sequences (especially in the second half) with inconsistent characterization and some implausible logic adds chinks to the already debilitating armour of this film.  The love story ( Ajay Devgn and Erika Kaar) is nicely shot but ends up being amateurish due to lack of chemistry.

To say Ajay Devgn is the heart and soul of Shivaay would be an understatement. With a powerful presence in each and every frame of the film,  Ajay Devgn rides high on histrionics and renders a compelling performance. Menacing to the core in the impressively staged action scenes and equally vulnerable in poignant moments, Ajay proves yet again his mettle as a terrific actor.  And this is where he actually fails as a director since the supporting cast looks unwarranted in the scheme of things. Veterans like Girish karnad and Saurabh Shukla are completely wasted, and Vir Das is reduced to a caricature.  Sayeesha Saigal is noteworthy in her debut, though she doesnt get much scope to prove her acting chops.  Ebigail James is pleasing as the mute child, and Erika Kaar is strictly ok.

Inspite of mouthwatering locales and exquisite canvas, Shivaay ends up being a contrived and superficial effort. Just walk out after the first half, to avoid the noise and exhaustion of Shivaay.


MS Dhoni :The Untold story review – Watch it for Sushants class act




Starring : Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam kher, Rajesh Chawla, Bhumika Chawla, Kumud Mishra, Disha Patani, Kiara Advani

Its difficult to portray a biopic on an inscrutable personality like Mahendra Singh Dhoni – the dynamic lad from Jharkhand ,who through his dogged determination and sheer focus ,rose to the highest echelons of the Indian Cricket team. Armed with a calm and impervious  demeanour and inspite of achieving paramount success, Dhoni still remains  an enigma for the billions of his admirers. MS Dhoni : The Untold Story traverses his meritorious journey from a small town boy to India’s most successful captain,    but it terribly falls short of providing a discerning insight to one of the most fascinating cricketing brains of Indian Cricket.

To give due credit, the biopic works wonders at several levels. Director Neeraj Pandey weaves out the early life portions of Mahi’s life in small town Jharkhand beautifully. Blended exquisitely with authentic characters and set up, the first half is an absolute delight to watch. A young Mahi is discovered by his cricket coach on the school football field, who persuades him to focus on keeping wickets. Though Mahi shows immense passion for sports, his skeptical and caring father (Anupam kher) insists he stays focussed on his studies and gets settled in a decent government job. But buoyed by immense support from his mother and sister (Bhoomika) and bunch of loyal friends, Mahi stays on track to achieve his dreams, despite of debacles. He graduates to become the TT collector in Indian Railways in kharagpur station but  struggling to maintain his rhythm in cricket, he leaves his job to champion his ever lasting dreams to play for Indian cricket team.  The film soars till this point but trudges to a hackneyed and a boring second half where the focus entirely shifts on Mahi’s two romantic episodes (Disha Patani, Kiara Advani) , which come in quick succession and completely stumps the film. We never get to know how Dhoni became the Indian captain, and how he channelises his strategies during key matches. His interaction with fellow cricketers is completely sidelined, and his controversial decisions gets fleeting prominence in the film, which is a shame since Neeraj Pandey never exploits the immense potential that the script could have achieved.


Sushant Singh Rajput performs a role of lifetime as Dhoni. He flourishes in each and every scene of the film, and is absolutely impeccable as a boy who is determined to achieve his dreams. Getting the rhythm of a cricketer bang on, he eternalizes the minute nuances of Dhoni, including his body language, cricketing shots, his frustrations and unflustered demeanour.  Its a riveting performance which keeps you invested in this onerous 3 hours 10 mins long film, which has a climax which every indian will cherish to rewind on big screen once again – the 2011 world cup final.

The film works primarily due to a fine package of accomplished actors led by Rajput, and brilliantly executed cricketing scenes. Special mention of the VFX enabled scenes which enlivens the real matches with Rajputs portrayal of Dhoni.

Despite its drawbacks, you will still end up rooting for MS Dhoni : The untold at the end because of the one man who has been inspiring millions of us, everyday : Mahendra Singh Dhoni.















PINK Movie Review – Dont miss it ..

Disturbing , deeply moving and highly compelling..PINK retriggers  a brutal  reminder of a misogynist layered society we live in , where modern and  independent girls are automatically misconstrued as licentious and immoral.  In a extremely powerful and subtle narrative flourished with terrific performances from the entire cast, the makers drive home a point of paramount significance – when a women says No, it means No, irrespective of her past sexual escapades or being coquettish. No means No.


In a mix of  impeccable and smart storytelling, PINK relies on a series of events smeared in accusations and conversations, which had taken place one fateful night in a resort in Surajkund. The three women in question – Meenal (Tapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari), and, as she’s routinely described, “the one from the North East”, Andrea (Andrea Tariang)- are room mates and independent working women, who hang out with their group of male acquantainces in the resort, when something terrible happens. While the girls escape to their south delhi home, disconcerted  and tensed, the male counterparts rush to a hospital with one of them seriously injured.  The men, using their political connections in intimidating the women who spurned their advances, get Meenal arrested on an attempt to murder and other two for soliciting them that night. Enters Deepak Saigal ( Amitabh Bachchan), a retired lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder, who signs up as the defence lawyer for the harassed women for the trial.

There is a seamless transition of the film, from a nerve wrackling thriller to a engaging and riveting court room drama. The confrontation between prosecution and defence , and their witnesses is one of the best seen in recent times. Every frame of the courtroom drama unravels a dark yet honest truth about male prejudiced society and a feudal mindset our women faces on a daily basis.  Each and every character , from small to main roles has been written and enacted in flesh and blood. All three female protagonist portray their vulnerable characters exceptionally. Its a giant leap for them to deliver such a strong and connected performance in a socially relevant film. Amitabh Bachchan is a  class act. He uses his deep baritone voice to great effect, and one cant stop yourself from cheering him at the end. Angad Bedi, in a negative role is  menacing to the core, and the rest of the supporting cast elevate the film to great extent.

Its very difficult not to get impacted after you come out watching PINK. It can be the story of any Indian women anywhere, not just in Delhi. It serves as a wake up call rightly summed up during the course of the movie – “Its important to save our boys and not our girls”. Subtle yet powerful and deeply thought provoking, PINK is a must watch for everyone.