Movie Review: Luka Chuppi

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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.

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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.

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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: Raazi

Meghana Gulzar’s making a name for herself in tackling the tough topics people talk about, wonder about but don’t always want to dramatize for a Bollywood consumer; their usual diet being movie that have 5 songs, dancing on mountains and always a happy ending.

With Raazi she achieves a narrative that doesn’t falter, she touches on patriotism without becoming rabid and she coaxes good performances out of her already capable cast.

The movie however, isn’t superlative. Alia’s fear, vulnerability and soldiering on in the face of danger is portrayed well enough. But is it a very taut performance? Not entirely. Her constantly looking around and observing the comings and goings while she spies, is a bit obvious and repetitive. Her guilt at the extreme step of taking a life is also portrayed quite convincingly. People who help her shine are actors I hadn’t come across earlier but who clearly are good at their craft viz Jaideep Ahlawat. Arif Zakaria is underutilized in his role. He of the expressive eyes and the rhetoric, could have been given a better deal in this movie. He’s sadly almost a prop.

Soni Razdan, Rajit Kapur, Shishir Sharma come in when they’re supposed to, do their bit and leave but barring Shishir Sharma they don’t really have any meaty roles or dialogues and are around to hold up their bit in the story.

So what’s good about the movie? The dialogues, the OST (Dilbaro is a song one can listen to again and again), Alia, the locales, the restrained story telling and not portraying Pakistan as the Devil’s Incarnate all adds up to an interesting watch. And with each movie, Alia proves how effortless she can slip in and out of roles in movies like Student of the Year, Highway, Badrinath ki Dulhania and Raazi. She has a good range of emotions and brings a freshness to her characterizations.

Will wait till the next Meghna Gulzar movie to see what else she has up her sleeve. This movie? 3 out of 5.

 

Movie Review: Veere Di Wedding

I almost didn’t watch this movie. Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor aren’t quite the draw for me personally. Add to it, the reviews had been less than stellar and I didn’t want to watch a badly made chick-flick when I could use those 2 hours to sleep or read instead…color me pleasantly surprised!

Now this movie isn’t a must-watch or even a repeat-watch but for a one-time watch with a buncha gals or even guys who get the Punju colloquialisms, it’s worth the money. The rest of the movie is about relationships. Between friends who become family. Between parent and child and definitely between a woman today and the world around her.- Bottom line? It’s entertaining and that’s what’s to be remembered about movies. Thought-provoking or not-they serve to entertain.

Is this movie hatke? Well…it is woman-centric for one. Guys are a part of their lives the same way they happen to be in real-life rather than a larger-than life reel-life man with bulging muscles who romances onscreen for a 3-minute song spanning from Switzerland to Botswana with 5 attire changes which often includes a sari pallu longer than Princess Diana’s wedding train. Phew! Head-spinning global lau (Gujju-ishtlye love).

This is a story about women who are believable; especially in this day and age. There are plenty of them out there who run from marriage, structure, socially sanctioned relationships and having to do Mata ki chowki at the drop of a pin! And Bollywood being Bollywood, would have them all be from the upper crest as well so impromptu trips abroad are also viable.

I was watching this movie with a Dally-based (aka New Delhi) friend (she’s a veere too I guess if one goes by the definition in this movie) and she, amidst gales of laughter, assured me the depiction of Wast (West) Dally (Delhi) was a very apt caricature.

And let’s not even get to the bling…if there’s no bling, there’s no big fat Indian wedding at all. All families have their skeletons and dirty secrets, every couple has stuff that rips at their seams, every girl is prevailed upon at some point in her life to “get-married already” by her mother. Same as the characters in VDW.

I’d read somewhere that the F-bombs in the movie seemed contrived or excessive. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. My gal pal reminded me how “unpolished” my own speech was before the advent of motherhood. It contained allusions to human anatomy and mothers and sisters quite a bit. Something I engage in now primarily while driving.

I think people should watch this movie. It’s fun. It has a lively pace. It’s not excessively dramatic or melodramatic and I made a fun memory watching it with someone with whom I have a 17-year-old history. That’s what makes this movie relevant. It won’t win Oscars. But it wasn’t meant to.

I left the theater dancing and laughing. Paisa vasool.

 

Movie Review: Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety

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First question? Why did I watch it and 2) Why am I bothering to review it either?

Answers: 1) My kid’s school still hasn’t opened so am just gasping for things that distract me and we’re both (mother and son) tripping on Bom Diggy Diggy  song from the movie so why not? 2) I just wanted to see the misogyny that’s been touted so much in this movie.

If someone wants mindless entertainment where you laugh, wince and tap your feet to peppy songs and the Punju dialogues that seems to be a staple of any Bollywood movie; this movie isn’t a bad choice. With the emphasis on the word ‘mindless’. However, the ‘bros before hoes’ notion is played to the hilt here which can and probably does annoy most women. But keep in mind women do behave in the manner shown…controlling…taking over her bf’s life out of the goodness of her heart and for his overall improvement.

Get it tight with a girl and she’ll have your family history out of you because she wants to interface. A guy? Not so much. He’ll want to make-out, have fun and keep it light. And this movie does the same but the conclusion could have been handled better with all parties coming to an agreeing-to disagree funda. Most movies of the Housefull and Golmaal ilk are mysogynistic in their portrayal of women-props, quasi or totally slutty and barely able to keep the clothes on their bodies and perpetually getting into sinuous movements to entice the musclebound moron of a guy or the deadbeat kinds aka Tusshar Kapoor and Riteish Deshmukh et al.

But all lecture aside, let’s move onto the movie which is about Titu (Sunny Singh) who’s a nice guy but makes the same mistakes with the opposite sex all the time and gets his heart broken. Enter his BFF Sonu (Karthik Aaryan) who steps in to clean up the damage and often preemptively tries to brings things to a closure with the kind of girls he thinks are going to be problematic. Their bond is tight but then enters Sweety (Nushrat Bharucha) – who becomes Titu’s fiance and has the social sanction to make changes and integrate herself deeper and deeper into Titu’s life and loosening Sonu’s hold on his friend. Neither wants to back down and at the grand finale, ultimatums are given and one is followed. Alok Nath as a non-sanskari grandfather is refreshing-ish.

Sweety isn’t shown as a harpy but from Sonu’s point of view she’s making changes which aren’t needed and more importantly, his space is diminishing in his friend’s life and the cause falls squarely on the girl. It’s a major power struggle and shows people as selfish, grasping, needy, insecure and afraid of change. It’s misogynistic if one really wants to see it only as that and nothing else. But how many Bollywood mainstream movies showcase its female talent to its proper extent anyhow? Maybe 1 in 10 if that?

Watch this movie without judgement especially if you’re the kind of person who has also watched Race 3 and sat through the Welcome-2 without flinching! It’s entertainment pure and simple. No one said anything about it having to be classy as well.

Movie Review: Blackmail (2018)

A madcap black comedy that’s refreshing amongst the usual Bollywood shtick of songs and dance-that’s Blackmail for you.

But before I lavish too much praise on it, the movie does suffer towards the end with too-much-a-good-thing syndrome in the form of the same idea being circulated once too many times to keep being interested. Scroll down for the spoiler…

Irrfan Khan is a disenchanted man who seems to have become one of the many rats in the rat race. Zombie-like he stays put at work because going home to his wife doesn’t seem like a balm either.

The one day he does deviate from his late night routine and heads home to catch up with his wife forms the crux of the rest of the story unfolding.

Finding her in bed with her old boyfriend (Arunoday Singh in a musclebound quasi-moronic but humorous turn) shakes him out of his funk and instead of getting mad, he decides to get even; by blackmailing her and her boyfriend. But seldom do things go the way they’re supposed to.

With an oblivious-to-his failings boss (played obnoxiously and ably by Omi Vaidya) and co-workers who get him in deeper trouble by jumping on the blackmail bandwagon; Irrfan’s character is a person everyone ends up feeling sorry for. Even his fetishes of spending “quality time” on and for himself in the loo with the filched images of his co-workers’ spouses don’t deter us from rueing his unending bad luck of getting blackmailed by every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Others in the cast like Divya Dutta (playing Arunoday’s wife) add a punchy feel to the movie and keep the pace from slowing down too much.

Go watch it just to do some “shake-my-head” gestures at a bunch of selfish people; some of whom do get their comeuppance.

Movie Review: Pari

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This movie is Prosit Roy’s love affair with the older parts of Calcutta, the bits that make it stand apart from every other city in India. It is strangely enough, also an ode to the nail cutter and umbrellas. Never has the humble implement of hand and foot hygiene received so much spotlight neither, for that matter, has so much water fallen on the city of Calcutta.

I fully expect the sales of nail cutters and umbrellas to go through the roof post people watching the movie.

The devil is invoked. He of the run-of -the-mill horned-head fame and blood thirst, comes (excuse the pun) and impregnates women (poor, low-income…take your pick) whose gestation period lasts for all of one month (the only bright spot in the movie) and then a belly button-less and umbilical cord-less child comes forth into the world. Their goal? To increase the progeny of their father. But all banality aside, the Devil needs his flesh and blood to aid in eventual world domination. The world domination bit isn’t referred to but why be the Devil if you can’t rule over the world, am I right?

That in a nutshell is Pari. The tagline claims that it’s not a fairy tale but fairy tales are replete with angst-ridden, unhappy characters who utter curses as easily as they breathe.

So why is this movie not a write-off? Because the cinematography sets the tone and mood of the entire movie without having to resort to cheap gimmicks of blood and gore to live up the “horror” genre.

The by-lanes of Calcutta, the moss-laden walls, the sooty shutters and a slightly sleepy, lethargic ambience lull you into the story only to be jarred from the calm and into the world of the preternatural. Compared to RGV’s Bhoot and movies of it’s ilk, Pari doesn’t rely on a sudden loud noise which has you clutching your heart in fear.

Anushka Sharma’s vulnerability makes you wish the bad juju doesn’t catch up with her and gulp her down. This movie is Anushka’s vehicle but she has to work at being creepy and you feel sorry for her plight. She can be de-glam but she still has to nail being ferocious.

The rest of the cast is passable with Mansi Multani (Kalapori) and Rajat Kapoor standing out for their respective roles. They are by turns creepy, scary and the chief ingredients needed to bring in a bit of shiveriness to an otherwise droll “horror” movie. Kapoor with his fake eye, stoic and almost amused-countenance is a true reflection on how normal people can become evangelical and take on a mantle of evil themselves under the guise of the greater good.

The role of the crone playing Kaali Pori (Mansi Multani) has been enacted well with her entry coming in sporadically to scare the life out of Anushka. That and her sing song voice while she plays the conduit for the demon is well portrayed.

The male lead-Parambrata and Ritabhari (Piyali) do justice to their roles with the former playing a person with values and morals but still dragging his feet throughout life and becoming proactive when you least expect him to. He seems confused through most of the movie and even his repentance at the end seems to fall flat.

But all this dissection aside- kudos to Anushka for not going the expected path of KJo-type movies alone. She can emote and emote well.

Pari is all about her. But I give it half a thumbs-up because a horror movie shouldn’t just be about pathos…it should be a bit jarring. Pari fails to do that.

Movie Review: Rustom

It’s good to watch movies. Good or bad. Gives one an idea about the kind of things film makers are thinking about and if they do have the pulse of their audience. With Rustom they succeeded in breaking out of the run-of-the-mill Bollywood masala grist and yet failed to craft a taut film that makes the movie goer sigh/nod in appreciation.

Based quite obviously on the Nanavati case that rocked the India of the 50s, the movie has a very staged look and feel with the characters not quite coming across as convincing in the roles they are essaying.

Akshay Kumar looks good in uniform. For a man his age he is in fine form physically but is rather wooden. He doesn’t come across as a Parsi at all and wears his uniform throughout the movie without it ever getting creased or dirty even while he’s incarcerated. Full marks to the jail dhobi!

Illeana D’Cruz looks pretty as a picture. Wears simple and elegant sarees and is quite effective as an ornamental prop. She neither carries the weight or punch that the role requires.

Esha Gupta smoulders like a femme fatale would and is by turns slutty and pull of pouty attitude. If attitude was the only requirement that the role had then she aced it and how! Barring that, she too has very little meat in her role and comes across as a spoiled rich socialite and not much else.

Arjan Bajwa is quite well cast. You can feel the smarminess come off him in waves and I can see him getting typecast as a Lothario in future projects.

People like Sachin Khedekar are rather miscast and arereduced to being ranting buffoons who really don’t belong in a biopic; even a loose one.

Anang Desai, Kanwaljeet Singh and Usha Nadkarni in their supporting roles add the necessary flavor and yet, despite it all, the movie leaves you wanting.

It doesn’t end in a manner which satisfies but neither does it disappoint in toto.

A bit of a limbo of a film and yet it’s good to see Khiladi Kumar embrace more roles of this ilk. He’s moved way past his Churake Dil Mera days...