Movie Review: Badla

The first thing that strikes you about this movie is that Indian film makers are more than capable of churning out good flicks without the whole song and dance routine that seems to encapsulate Bollywood movies as a genre. Badla (Revenge) is a prime example of that. An adaption of the Spanish movie The Invisible Guest, Badla is fairly well-tuned game of cat and mouse played between Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. But who’s toying with whom is the question that gets answered all the way in the last scene of the movie. And it’s worth the wait.

Based in London and in and around green but grim parts of England, the locales lend themselves to building up the tension in the movie. For once AB doesn’t have bombastic dialogues and fiery rhetoric that dominates the scene. I for one, like this older avatar of AB. His stock-in-trade character of ‘Vijay’ seemed very hackneyed and cliched and without much depth. Not sure calling him fine wine would do justice to his craft, but it’s great to see an actor embrace so much variety at his age and not get typecast to being a grandfather or only an old guy in his movies.

Taapsee with the stubborn tilt of her chin and non-compromising stance comes across as a woman who’ll fight tooth and nail to prove her innocence. She’s another actor who soaks up the essence of every character she plays. She’s defiant, she’s brash and she’s selfish and yet you don’t end up hating her. She’s quite human.

What could have been better was the entire role Amrita Singh played along with Tanveer Ghani (her husband in the movie). They had zero chemistry and their banter was trite and banal with both they seeming to be reading their lines for an audition rather than doing their final takes. One remembers the fiery Amrita of Chameli ki Shaadi and Aaina and wonders where that spontaneity has gone. Her somber dialogues too, fall flat and her emoting is not what it used to be.

Tony Luke (Arjun) is fairly believable as a self-serving, adulterous husband who’s trying to make the best of a bad situation. But one wonders if someone like Vicky Kaushal might have brought more gravitas to the role or even been perfect for it.

But this is one movie that people should watch because the lapses are very few and they don’t impact the flow of the movie enough to break our attention away from what will happen next. You remain hooked, wondering who’s going to walk away as the winner and who gets to have their Badla in the end. Although truth be told, things begin to present themselves fairly quickly in terms of what’s what. It’s hardly The Mousetrap. The ost is subtle and has hummable songs with AB rapping on the opening song Aukaat.

What is evident is this- more directors like Sujoy Ghosh, Zoya Akhtar, Soojit Sircar, Aditya Dhar (Uri), Anurag Kashyap et al should be making as many movies as they can and travesties like Zero and reboots of Judwaa shouldn’t be allowed. Bad things happen in the world these days, let’s not add to more trauma for the unsuspecting people out there. Make good movies people, like this one!

Rating: 3/5

Movie Review: Luka Chuppi

Image result for luka chuppi poster

What happens when you don’t want to get married but test drive being married by living together? What happens when you get caught being ‘pretend-married’ and have to play out the pretense? What happens when you try to get married for real to make things legit but realize that life is conspiring against you? Luka Chuppi happens. But it doesn’t happen all that well, unfortunately.

Set against the backdrop of militant love jihadis who are hellbent on making sure that every relationship kowtows to societal norms and any deviations are dealt with harshly; Luka Chuppi takes on a rather contrived and elaborate path towards a happily ever after.

Kriti Sanon is a little too well put together to be convincing as a small town girl. Her body language, mannerisms always bring to mind airline attendants who wish you a pleasant flight or people in the hospitality business who smile as they give you your room key and wish you a very pleasant stay. Rather fakeish.

Image result for fake smile gif

Kartik Aaryan is a bit more believable but not much. He’s scruffy and has hair (along with Aparshakti Khurana) that’s reminiscent of the scene from There’s Something About Mary.

Image result for something about mary hair gel gif

Apart from a few genuine laughs sporadically sprinkled here and there, the movie goes from one choreographed mishap to another. The rest of the cast however, is pretty damn good. They’re convincing small towners and never deviate from being in character. Vinay Pathak, Aparshakti Khurana, Pankaj Tripathi, Alka Amin, Atul Shrivastav bring a strong, wholesome and realistic small town flavor to the movie and are the glue that holds things together. Guddu (Aaryan) and Rashmi (Sanon) are effectively the leads but they are far more accurately described as props.

The OST is nothing outstanding either with 2 songs repackaged from an earlier era.

This movie is worth waiting for…till it airs on Netflix on Amazon Prime. It’s no barrel of laughs but is entertaining in its own smallish way.

Rating: 1/5

 

Movie Review: Deep Blue Sea-2

Verdict: Spare yourself. Seriously.

Sharks are beautiful creatures with rows of serrated teeth and soulless eyes that would scare the bejesus out of anyone who saw them up close and personal.

But they are worthy of that respect that comes with fear. They aren’t the Jason or Freddy of the scary creature movie world. They are the Damians and Michael  Meyers who stalk silently and without too much brouhaha. Because brouhaha isn’t classy. It’s massy and doesn’t have enough gravitas.

I have proved again and again I have rather low standards when choosing movies. I’ll usually watch anything once without feeling too snobby about it. But when a movie is so ridiculous that it just makes you want to throw things at your beloved telly, then there’s truly something rotten in the state of Denmark. Note: Author has no idea about the sudden and inexplicable segue into Shakespeare. Let’s put it down to the brain getting scrambled by this movie.

Back to the ranting! I usually screen whatever movie my child wants to see especially if it’s beyond a PG rating. Deep Blue Sea is something he’s not seen yet so I was wary about the part-2 since they usually go OTT trying to get people to like it as much as the previous one. But this installment of the movie is a joke. With baby bull sharks being confused about their sharky heritage and acting like a bunch of piranhas instead. Yech.

The acting is so sub-par that is doesn’t behoove me to mention it at all. With the movie copying the iconic scenes from the 1st movie you are just in a hurry to switch it off and move onto something like White Chicks to restore your faith in creature flicks.

 

So, will TO be allowed to watch this film? NO! If he has to hurt his eyes by watching crap, I’d rather he watched Sharknado. It has the distinction of ‘being so bad it’s actually good’!

A Bit Of Silver And Grey

In the last couple of years my reading material has been fairly unchanging. It’s been the likes of John Sandford (love his work), Carl Hiaasen (cannot get enough of it) and some new authors I came across courtesy the Kindle store. Amongst them Jana DeLeon stood out because while her work wasn’t “hardcore literature” it wasn’t silly fluff either. It was a humorous and quite likely an accurate look into the lives of people in a small town on the bayou in Louisiana.

Each character is well-fleshed out without cutting corners and being lumped into a group of hicks and rednecks who keep chewing tobacco and spitting on the ground. I mean stereotypes only take you so far after all.

The chief amongst them are two old ladies who were counterintelligence back in ‘Nam and came back home without anyone having cottoned onto their true colors. Over the years they’ve become older, more idiosyncratic but are still sharp as tacks and quick on their feet…most of the times.

I’m mentioning the old people here because in the books I’ve grown up reading, old people are relegated to a secondary status. It’s the cheerful grandma who bakes cookies or the grumpy grandpa who eventually gets the sulky teen to realize some truths about life. But these characters are not always flesh and blood. They are bit players. They add flavor but in a restrained manner.

The other series of books which recently caught my attention are by Amanda M. Lee about a family of witches who live in a small town in Michigan. Notice the small town motif? They have a great aunt at the helm of the family and while she’s not an evil witch, she isn’t above bewitching things to punish others or to get her own way. Whether it’s selling her home made hooch (again something in common with the old ladies of the bayou) or growing “glaucoma medicine” aka pot, under the eyes of the law, or wanting a pet pig she’s a character all by herself and rightly so.

The eccentricities that the old people can lay claim to because they’ve seen their share of things in life are nothing short of mindboggling to banging your head against the wall in frustration-types. And you just can’t make them back down and play ball with the rest of the lot. Not in real life and not in stories either.

Am glad that this segment of people have found their representation in books because we’ve had enough of rosy cheeked grandmas and fairy godmothers. We haven’t had enough of crocodile-walking, bike-riding, dentured women who can’t read without their bifocals and can down moonshine with the best of them!

Go silver!

Movie Review: Gully Boy

Image result for gully boy poster

For everyone who’s been told something’s impossible, unattainable and to get their head out of the clouds because reality bites; Gully Boy is the answer.

Zoya Akhtar’s latest offering takes us deep into Dharavi, without any of the gore and gristle but without adding any glitter either. Ranveer Singh (Murad) shows how deeply he can get under the skin of a character and make it his own. From Simmba to Gully Boy, he peels off layer after layer and shows us how well honed his craft truly is.

Synopsis: Murad, a college-going young man from Dharavi, makes space in his cramped tenement for his mother, younger brother, grandmother and father (Vijay Raaz) and his father’s new, younger wife along with his dreams, hopes and burning desire to be someone. Being a rapper is as alien a concept to the people of Dharavi as are aliens themselves. You either lie and cheat to get ahead or you keep your head down, work hard and join the rat race because money, food in the belly and a roof over your head cancels out having dreams and aspirations over everything else.

His childhood love, Safina (Alia Bhatt),is spirited, unapologetic and unabashedly in love with him and his dreams. Their chemistry is spot on and very real.

How Murad tries toeing the line, doing what is expected out of him and still tries to be true to himself and acknowledge that having a passion is life is not only ok but essential, forms the crux of the movie.

The lingo, the people are all perfectly typecast although there are times when the movie seems to  move slower than one would like. Friendships, loyalty and dreaming the impossible and achieving it are all the takeaways at the end of the reel.

The music: is middling between mediocre to decent. The tunes are catchy, the lyrics are worth pondering on and the acting seamless and without much of histrionics.

One may not like rap as a genre, or even the rappers with their yo-yoing all over the place and hoodie pants, but Gully Boy shows the poets that live within.

Rating: 3/5

 

Lost In Translations#501

TO has an accent. We’re not sure which country it belongs to. It’s a relic mishmash of whatever animated programs he’s grown up watching. 

He, however, doesn’t know Hindi; a language he loves listening to songs in. His pronunciations are decidedly foreign and poor dear Alexa often has problems deciphering what he wants.

The new addition on the playlist is Dilbar. TO pronounces it as Dill(the herb)+Bar(the place where people go for a drink). Needless to say Alexa’s response of, “I don’t know about the DILL-BAR. Dill is a herb ah blah blah and bar is either blah blah blah”, wasn’t unforseen. By moi. TO was part- disappointed and part-annoyed that Alexa wasn’t “getting” it.

I was called in to speak Alexan and translate the song name into something darling Alexa could make sense of and finally when the song played I got the epithet of “My favorite mother’ and a hug…the rewards of a job done perfectly.

Hang on…I have to go again…someone’s trying to tell Alexa that there’s something called  ‘Abytoepaarteeshoeroueeaye’. My translator’s ears are picking up signs that it may be Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. I’d better unconfuse the gadget before she blows a fuse.

Ta!

Lost In Translation#498

Kids extrapolate things based on their own frame of references. Mine does it quite a bit and even more so with words of a different language.

He loves music and at different times we have played hosts to quite a few different earworms of his. One of his old favorites reemerged due to a shuffle in his playlists and we were both humming along with it when he started off with that singsong tone he singsongs more whenever he has a question to ask me, “So A…is the Bulleya song about…?” And I reacted with a mother’s instinct and one honed from dealing with these particular gems- “No baby, it’s not about bulls. It’s about a poet and thinker (because early morning rushes are rushed enough without stopping to explain what a philosopher is) whose words have been put to song and who people sing about.”

And sure enough, came the expected rebuttal which led to this bit of head scratching fun-” But it says Bulleya…BULL-eya. Are you sure it isn’t about bulls?”Am positive! Baba Bulleh Shah didn’t have anything to do with bulls.” “Baba??” That’s what you call P (his nickname for my dad). Why is he called Baba?” “GO TO SCHOOL. BYE BYE. HAVE A GOOD DAY. LOOK IT UP ON WIKIPEDIA.”

Mom over and out. Oh how I miss Red when he’s out of town.