Category Archives: Movie Review

Jagame Thandiram Movie Review: Weak Script, Careless Editing Make Dhanush-starrer a Bore

Kartik Subbaraj’s Jagame Thandiram, starring Dhanush sets itself a lofty goal, but begins to limp in the first few minutes due to its weak script.

Jagame Thandiram

Director: Karthik Subbaraj

Cast: Dhanush, Aishwarya Lekshmi, James Cosmo

Tamil cinema still, in this day and age, believes that a film must pack into its runtime every aspect of life and living or just about. Director Karthik Subbaraj’s almost three-hour long gangster adventure mostly set in London, Jagame Thandhiram, just does this, giving us a taste of dances, fights with bullets narrowly missing one’s ears and the radical side of British politics. Yes, you heard me right, with some of that country’s leaders trying to stop immigration of especially brown and Black people – with special reference to Sri Lankan Tamils — and deport them.
Immigration may be a pressing issue in countries across continents, but that a young man from Madurai – who runs a “parotta” eatery by the day turning into a sickle-weaving thug after sunset — should pop into London to “sort” things out appears farfetched, even with our thinking hats off. And this young man is none other than Suruli, played by Dhanush (who is increasingly copying father-in-law Rajinikanth’s mannerisms), a small-time gangster from Madurai.

With his marriage being called off at the eleventh hour, Suruli becomes an even bigger desperado willing to place his neck on the block, and flies to London.. While Suruli is turning the city into a bloody mess, I began to wonder what the heck Scotland Yard was doing! Come on, England is not the badlands somewhere in Africa or closer home. But with blazing guns and whizzing bullets, Suruli vanquishes the foes, taking on dozens of men singlehandedly to emerge supreme. This is imagination gone berserk.

Penned by Subbaraj, the movie is just a one line plot: Suruli is hired by racist British mobster, Peter (James Cosmos), in faraway Madurai to kill his rival, Sivadoss (Joju George), a Sri Lankan Tamil. Suruli’s girlfriend, Attila (Aishwarya Lekshmi), is at best a flower-vase on the mantlepiece, but she does turn him into a Sri Lankan Tamil sympathiser, and it takes just one weepy story from her to convert our man.

The film sets itself a lofty goal, but begins to limp in the first few minutes. Scripted shabbily and edited with little care, it fails to invest in this theme. Instead, it goes all out to make a hero out of Dhanush, who has been coming up with the same, jaded performance for a long time. He probably has potential, but would need a good and imaginative director to get him out of his comfort zone. And, the kind of bloody violence that Subbaraj dishes out can be difficult to stomach, and his tendency to be another Quentin Tarantino is a pointless exercise.

Shaadisthan Movie Review: Memorable Performances Make It Relevant and Meaningful

Shaadisthan, starring Kirti Kulhari, is refreshing storytelling powerfully backed by sensitive and memorable performances from the lead cast.

Shaadisthan

Cast: Kirti Kulhari, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Rajan Modi

Director: Raj Singh Chaudhary

Here’s something you don’t see every day: a non-preachy, uncliched feminist story. Directed and co-written by Raj Singh Chaudhary, Shaadisthan is a moving drama about women breathing under patriarchy.

The film follows a conservative couple Sanjay (Rajan Modi) and Kamla Sharma (Nivedita Bhattacharya) from a small town of Rajasthan and their teenage daughter Arshi (Medha Shankar) who are forced to travel with four young, rebel musicians Freddie (Apurva Dogra), Jigme (Shenpenn Khymsar), Imaad (Ajay Jayanthi), and Sasha (Kirti Kulhari) to Ajmer for a family wedding.

As their contrasting ideologies collide inside a camper van, they reluctantly begin to share parts of their ordinarily segregated lives. In Sasha’s world, women can do whatever the hell they want to do. And for Sasha, that means a songwriter, a musician and a free spirit. On the other hand, Arshi is not even allowed to speak and verging on the breakdown, thanks to her father who is planning to marry her off as soon as she turns 18.

Chaudhary’s Shaadisthan is also about the roles of stay-at-home mothers from small towns of India. Kamla has been ignored, her spirit broken. It’s a tribute to the realness of the film and Nivedita Bhattacharya’s earnest performance that you end up wondering: What kind of life did Kamla dream of, this generous woman who ended up with a regressive partner and no room to breathe? Nivedita beautifully depicts the fears, insecurities, and pain that women deprived of social and economic independence go through. She slips into the skin of Kamla’s character so well that you feel for her throughout the movie.

Kirti Kulhari’s filmography is full of female-led stories. Take Falak Ali in Pink, Inspector Dalbir Kaur Bagga in The Girl on the Train, Advocate Anjana Menon in Four More Shots Please and her most recent award-worthy performance in Criminal Justice. But when she strips off the makeup and is embraced into the hippie group of young men to embody Sasha, the actress really roars as a woman. A scene where she schools Sanjay for calling their music “shor (noise)” is easily one of the best moments in the film.

However, Sasha’s feminism often comes across as privileged. She is educated, financially independent who can afford to leave her family and travel anywhere and everywhere, but she doesn’t realise that it’s not easy for Kamla to fight the entrenched societal sexism and patriarchy the way she does. Kamla is a non-working middle-class woman who is constantly facing an existential threat wherein freedom could mean loss of security and protection that patriarchy offers. Sasha reeks of privilege and naivety of the real world outside her insulated bubble when she tells Kamla, “Women like us fight so that women like you don’t have to fight in their world.”

Medha channels a teenager’s vulnerabilities and simmering frustrations with utmost honesty and sincerity that acts as a catalyst for the family to address issues they’d rather leave unspoken. Besides, the men of Shaadisthan- Apurva, Shenpenn, and Ajay- deserve a special mention for delivering memorable performances. Their camaraderie with Kirti seems extremely natural and real. Rajan Modi brilliantly plays the strict patriarchal father who thankfully has a change of heart at the end.

Shaadisthan is refreshing storytelling powerfully backed by sensitive and memorable performances from the talented cast. PS: Its women look exhausted by the end, but also freed, open, honest- just as they should be.

Shaadisthan is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

The Family Man 2: Raj and DK Explain Why There are Long Tamil Sequences in the Show

The Family Man 2 features long sequences in Tamil. The creators–Raj and DK–explain why they chose to keep it this way.

The second season of web show The Family Man, featuring Manoj Bajpayee as a constantly deceiving detective, is making all the right noises. The creators—Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK—opens up about how lying adds a dimension to Bajpayee’s character.

“The irony in the first part was that Srikant lied and Musa probably believed him, but guess what, Srikant also bought into Musa’s lies so convincingly. In this season, Raji straightaway caught his lie and spoke the truth,” said DK.

To this, Raj added, “What’s amazing is that the character of Srikant Tiwari is so flawed. You’re not only lying to your wife and kids but even to Milind who is going through PTSD. We don’t know if it was real or not but probably he lied there as well. It’s not for effects but for the greater good as per Srikant. The idea is to accept the flaws, and as long as there is some integrity then there is a hero.

DK said, “I can also imagine and we were aware of it. For us, we wanted to tell a story in the most authentic way. We had to have a character speaking in Tamil and everybody speaking in their language for that matter. But purely for the length of the scene, you can’t start cutting down them. Thinking that there is too much Tamil, so let’s cut it seems like compromising the character in the milieu. We had to give it the same time and treatment as a character that’s speaking Hindi. For example, if you want to know more about Prime Minister Basu or Milind, you give them the time to speak their mind, so we deliberately did the same for the Tamil characters in the story. We gave them the time so that people could understand their motivation and feel their emotions.”

Sardar Ka Grandson Movie Review: Arjun Kapoor Does a Sunny Deol in Pakistan

Sardar Ka Grandson

Cast: Neena Gupta, Arjun Kapoor, Rakul Preet, John Abraham, Aditi Rao Hydari

Director: Kaashvie Nair

First thing first—Sardar Ka Grandson has nothing to do with Son of Sardar, they are different films.

This one is set in and around Amritsar occasionally drifting inside Pakistan. Amreek Singh (Arjun Kapoor) is a goofy, happy go lucky kind of a guy doing odd jobs for a company run by his girlfriend Radha (Rakul Preet) in Los Angeles. His grandmother, who everybody fondly calls Sardar (Neena Gupta), is a 90-year-old loud and boisterous industrialist. She has been a victim of the India-Pakistan partition and wants to see the house she built with her husband in Lahore for one last time. So, what’s the big deal? Well, the Pakistan government has blacklisted her for an angry outburst at a cricket match in Mohali against a senior official from the neighbouring country. She can’t go to the house but the house can come to her. Amreek has now taken it upon himself to bring the same house from Pakistan to Amritsar for Sardar.

The basic premise is definitely absurd but it also intrigues. On paper, it might have sounded easy to change the phrase homecoming to ‘home is coming’, but it’s much more than just an idea. It can fall flat if not done convincingly. Also, it’s tricky to shoot films with many crowd scenes. It can go both ways. You have to manage the sentiments despite quick transitions.

To the director’s credit, Sardar Ka Grandson works because of its core idea but then the actors fail the project. It’s heartening to see Kaashvie Nair attempting something as audacious as uprooting a house and then re-planting it in Amritsar, but the scenes demand more urgency from the actors. Most of the times, they look relaxed and don’t convey the earnestness the situation merits.

They also remain short of establishing a delectable chaos inside Sardar’s house. I am not even talking about the fun quotient here, which is mostly missing.

Neena Gupta and Arjun Kapoor try to shoulder the responsibility but couldn’t do so for a longer period. It needed more secondary characters to rise up and take guard. With De De Pyaar De, Rakul Preet has proved that she could be quite handy in situational comedies, but she has been grossly underutilised.

John Abraham and Aditi Rao Hydari’s cameos could have been extended. They look more in charge of the developments than the lead pair. Hydari, in particular, has evolved a lot in recent times, and this is another good performance from her.

At 139-minutes, Sardar Ka Grandson feels like a stretch, but you can always watch it for Neena Gupta and the audacity of the idea.

Bringing a House from Pakistan: Arjun Kapoor on What Intrigued Him About Sardar Ka Grandson

Arjun Kapoor describes his Sardar Ka Grandson character, Amreek Singh, as a ‘mumbling-jumbling idiot

In Sardar Ka Grandson, Arjun Kapoor is playing Amreek Singh who wants to bring an old house from Pakistan to Amritsar to fulfil his grandmother’s last wish. He says that the role interested him because of its absurdity.

Arjun says, “Sometimes, somebody tells you something so bizarre that you are interested in hearing the concept. How have they written it? I thought it’s not possible but let me hear it. By the end of it, after I went through the process, I stopped doubting anything. It has got a very nice fairytale quality. You always wish somebody to go to this extent to make dreams realise.

He continues, “It was a role which had certain overlaps with my kind of humour, tongue in cheek, one liners, making people smile, having an opinion about everything and you know, being a bit of over-smart buffoon. He might think highly of himself but in reality, he is a mumbling-jumbling idiot who doesn’t know where he is going or coming from.”

I am sure I have been through such phases in my life where I was a bit like that. I think I still have that thing somewhere in my subconscious but yes, it’s always fun to play relatable and believable characters. It was a nicely written character and there are many boys like Amreek who can’t handle their personal relationship with their girlfriends but then they go to any extent for their families,” adds Arjun.

He goes on, “In a way, Sardar Ka Grandson starts from where most films end. The romance is over and the guy is in a situation where he puts his grandmother’s lovestory on priority. There are people who would take their partner for granted but would go to any extent for strangers.

Radhe Overseas Box Office Day 2: Salman Khan Film Earns About Rs 9.3 Crore in 2 Days

According to the latest report on Boxofficeindia.com, the Salman Khan starrer has raked in nearly USD 1.3 million overseas in two days.

Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai couldn’t get a wide opening in Indian theatres, but the film has been entertaining fans in cinemas overseas. According to the latest report on Boxofficeindia.com, the Salman Khan starrer has raked in around USD 600k on its second day, taking its total overseas collection to nearly USD 1.27 million (Rs 9.3 Crore approx) in two days. The action entertainer is said to be getting a good boost from the Gulf, where it garnered USD 475k on day one and around USD 400k on day two.

With these figures, ‘Radhe’ is expected to cross the $1 million mark for the weekend in the Gulf. Interestingly, his 2019 film ‘Bharat’ had crossed this figure in one day, but the market was not affected by the pandemic at the time. Going by the present momentum, ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ is expected to cross the USD 2 million mark at the end of its four-day weekend.

The film is being watched widely on the pay-per-view format in India. Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai is said to have become the most watched film on Day 1, garnering 4.2 million views across various platforms. In India, the film released on ZEE5 with ZEE’s pay per view service ZEEPlex; along with leading DTH operators and it released theatrically in international markets on May 13. Fans of the superstar made it the most-watched movie on the first day itself, sending the servers crashing. Salman took to Twitter to wish fans on Eid and for watching Radhe.

Salman Khan Wishes Happy Eid, Thanks Fans for Making Radhe ‘The Most Watched Film on Day 1’

Salman Khan’s Eid release Radhe is said to have created history by garnering 4.2 million views across various platforms on first day of release in India.

Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai is said to have become the most watched film on Day 1, garnering 4.2 million views across various platforms. In India, the film released on ZEE5 with ZEE’s pay per view service ZEEPlex; along with leading DTH operators and it released theatrically in international markets on May 13. Fans of the superstar made it the most-watched movie on the first day itself, sending the servers crashing. Salman took to Twitter to wish fans on Eid and for watching Radhe.

In the UAE, on its opening day with theatre capacities running at 50%, the film is said to have collected USD 379,000, which is not only higher than Salman Khan’s last film Dabbang 3 (2019) but also a higher opening day collection than Godzilla vs. Kong.

Radhe also demonstrates the success of a hybrid release and shows an effective model of releasing a film during these tough times. This would be important not just to the stakeholders of Radhe but to the entire film industry of the country that is reeling under the impact of the pandemic.

Shariq Patel, CBO – Zee Studios, said, “The film has won over audiences and through this unique and never-seen-before distribution strategy we could ensure the widest possible ‘opportunity to see’ this high-on-entertainment, quintessential Salman Khan movie at a place and time of audiences’ choice. With unprecedented circumstances comes the responsibility to make innovative choices that will pave the way for future business models and Zee is at the forefront of it.

Here’s How to Watch ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ at Home

Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ will be the first big-scale entertainment film of Bollywood that will have a multi-format release on May 13.

Actor Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai is slated for a theatrical release worldwide on Thursday (May 13), adhering to the Covid-19 protocol issued by the government. However, the tent-pole film is opening at a time when India is going through an extreme crisis and most producers have pushed back their releases.

Salman’s fans are much excited about the movie which was due to release on Eid last year but was pushed owing to the pandemic and cinema closures. Finally, this year the movie is getting released but fans are worried about how to watch it since most cinemas across the country are non-functional owing to the pandemic. In cities where there is no lockdown, many still want to stay home during this testing time.

But fret not! Looks like one of the most loved actors also thinks about the health and safety of his fans and so he has planned the release of the film on digital platforms too.

Those interested in the movie can watch it on ZEE5 with ZEE’s pay-per-view service, ZEEPlex. Those using DTH platforms like Dish, D2H, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TVcan also avail the service of ZeePlex at a price of Rs 249. Using ZeePlex, a user can book and watch the first day of the show from the comfort of their homes.

Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai will be the first big-scale entertainment film from the country that will have a multi-format release. In a recent interaction, Salman too said he would not encourage theatre owners to screen his upcoming film as he does not want people to say that they got infected with the virus when they went to watch the movie. He added that he is even incurring losses because of the nearly non-existent theatrical release of the film in India.

Jaaved Jaaferi’s Commentary in Lava Ka Dhaava Takes Us Back to Takeshi’s Castle Days

Jaaved Jaaferi’s new Netflix show Lava Ka Dhaava reminds us of his commentary days from the popular children’s show Takeshi’s Castle.

Seasoned Bollywood actor Jaaved Jaaferi has a special place in the hearts of the late millennial and early Gen Z kids of India. During the late 90s and early 2000s, Jaaved showed his cool dance movies in Boogie Woogie, was a part of fan-favourite kids films like Jajantaram Mamantaram and most importantly, won hearts with his commentary in the Japanese show Takashi’s Castle.

Takeshi’s Castle was an adventure-based game show where the participants would have to navigate difficult obstacle courses. Some of them included scaling high walls, others had to cross a pond through ‘skipping stones.’ The show was also made interesting by the presence of ‘royal guards’ or pranksters who would try to stop the participants from completing the round successfully. However, no matter how many people won these obstacle courses they would always lose in the ‘final showdown.

Takeshi’s Castle was an integral part of our childhood. It was a super interesting and unpredictable show. But for us Indians, what made the show so special was Jaaved Jaaferi’s commentary. The actor was relentless, using his sense of humour and voice modulations to make puns and jokes about every situation. There were also segments called ‘Jaaved’s Ridiculous Replay’ where we would see a contestant falling repeatedly, added with a quirky thing that the actor said. The show was a riot, thanks to the actor.

Hence, we were excited when we first learnt that the actor is hosting a similar game show. The show, which released on Wednesday, is called Lava Ka Dhaava. It is a Hindi dubbed version of the American show The Floor is Lava. It is also a high-pace obstacle course where the participants have to go from one corner of a room to the other without falling in make-believe lava.

The concept of the show comes from the popular game and meme of the same name. In viral internet videos, a person could be heard saying, “the floor is lava,” and their friends would scarmble to find any furniture they can climb on.

This show takes it to another level. While the lava is make-believe, it is still hot and intimidating. The contestants, who play in teams of three, have to jump across rotating furnitures, slippery rocks and even insect infested walls to go to the other corner. It is also time-bound, after five to six minutes, the stairs that help you get out of the lava room start dissappearing, making the exit next to impossible.

The show is interesting to watch. It is basically like watching any other American game show like wipe-out. However, we cannot deny that Jaaved’s involvement in the show makes it a lot funnier. Of course, there are some jarring moments, like how the audience is supposed to pretend that the actor is actually communicating with the contestants, or the times where it seems like he is reading out of a script to synch it with what the contestants are saying. The language spoken is also too literal instead of colloquial to separate it from the original version. Hence, ‘Spider-Man’ becomes ‘Makdi Manav.’ It also gets a little repetitive after three episodes.

That being said, Laava Ka Dhaava is a fun show to watch. It is amusing to see people bring out their most competitive side only to slip and fall in fake lava. Since we are also living in trying times, a show like this is exactly the mindless and hilarious distraction we need.

Not to mention, this is the closest we will be to reliving our childhood days where the evenings would consist of us watching Takeshi’s Castle and MAD on Pogo. Jaaved Jaaferi is an amazing actor, who has done some amazing work across genres. However, Lava Ka Dhaava has reminded us of his sharp commentary skills and we hope he does more shows like this soon.

Raat Baaki Hai movie review: Annup Sonii, Paoli Dam’s ZEE5 film confuses vagueness for intrigue

Paoli Dam walking down a staircase of a palatial haveli in a perfectly draped sari, somewhere in Rajasthan (the film doesn’t bother with specifics), might make for an intriguing start to a whodunnit. Dam, who was the best thing about Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbul, uses her deceptive presence to a similar effect here in Avinash Das’s Raat Baaki Hai. However, the final impact is far from what one might expect. Or depending on your opinion of Zee5, barely surprising. Not for her own fault, Dam’s character, Vasuki, is infuriatingly simple. Having made a career out of playing the Tagore-ian character, who mopes and pines at the dressing table while looking like a million bucks, Dam’s eeriness is short-changed in the Zee5 film. Using her soft voice to cajole the leading man, Kartik (Annup Sonni, the numerology evidently not working for him) into dropping his guard, the film would have worked significantly better if it dug deep with Dam’s character. Instead, it takes the easy way out and plays out like a conventional murder mystery, where murders look awfully synthetic, and the mystery barely makes it past the first act.

A Bollywood star, Vaani Kapoor (Dipannita Sharma), also referred to as Vaani Chopra at one point, is found murdered in a hotel room. She had gotten engaged to her beau, Kartik, only a few hours earlier. Kartik we’re told, is a writer. Anyone familiar with the hierarchy in the film industry, understands the natural conflict here between an A-list actor and a lowly writer, a conflict that the makers don’t seem interested in. Rahul Dev is tasked with the role of a greasy investigator, who uses all his interrogation scenes to showcase his deadpan face. Dev’s Rajasthani-afflicted delivery isn’t consistent, but there are simple pleasures in hearing the expletives roll out of his tongue. Following up on the acts of the likes of a Jaideep Ahlawat and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Dev is understandably below par. His detective abilities are also questionable, considering how he fixates on a producer attending the engagement, instead of looking for Kartik, who seems to be fleeing from the scene.

The flashbacks in the film are lazily expository, only to colour the characters in shades of doubt. The final ‘reveal’ is incredibly facile too, something most viewers will see from a mile away. The vapid, leftover royalty of Rajasthan has been an interesting and recurring trope in recent films and the OTT space, especially in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster franchise, and also in last year’s Aarya.

It’s no coincidence then, that Avinash Das’s film looks like a derivative version of Raat Akeli Hai, a film that also borrowed its title from a popular Hindi song, much like Avinash Das’s film. It’s an oft repeated pattern in recent films, like when the makers of Malang went out of their way to pay homage to ‘Aaj Ki Raat Koi Aane Ko Hai’  from 1982’s Anamika, via Anil Kapoor’s character. Directors probably think these add a bit of retro cool to the films. One fails to understand it is if they do go through the trouble to doff their hats to an era behind us, then why can’t they also write a story worthy of being a tribute to that era?

The only decent thing about Avinash Das’s Raat Baaki Hai, is its run-time at 89 minutes. At least, it ensures that we’re not wasting more than 89 minutes on such a basic ‘mystery’. The last half hour is particularly painful to endure, when the whodunnit suddenly morphs into ‘Here-is-why-I-did-it’. Characters go to great lengths to explain how they ‘chanced upon’ (not very subtly) the most bizarre clues, and what their motivations behind the murders REALLY are. The plot-points here are so contrived, that you can see smudges of the screenwriter’s ink, putting four and four together to make it 44.

Das started out promisingly as a filmmaker with Anarkali of Aarah, and after that, he’s been at the helm of Netflix’s She and this wreckage. Raat Baaki Hai is the kind of film where someone changes into black turtlenecks, black trousers and black boots before going out to murder someone. It’s the only moment when the film woke me up, and drew a laugh out of me. Alas! There aren’t even enough of those.