Archive for category Hindi – Bollywood Movie Reviews

Badshaho – Movie Review


Image result for badshahoDirected by Milan Luthria, film Badshaho is set during India’s emergency era of 1975, about 27 years post independence, when a few laggard prince and princesses were still struggling to hide their collections of gold, silver and other precious artifacts. During that time Rani Gitanjali’s (Ileana D’Cruz) palace in Jaipur is raided and she is arrested for withholding gold without declaration.

Rani Gitanjali is a political maverick and she understands how the game is played in politics. She believes that despite government seizing her gold, it is more likely to fall in the hands of corrupt political leaders, especially the one she has spurned. She gets the news that the gold is to be transferred via road to Delhi in a truck. Gitanjali arranges with her trusted prior bodyguard Bhawani Singh (Ajay Devgan) to intercept the transfer and seize it back from Major Seher Singh (Vidyut Jamwal), the officer in charge of the transfer. Bhawani Singh recruits help from Gitanjali’s trusted friends and helpers, Sanjana (Esha Gupta) Guruji (Sanjay Mishra) and Dalia (Emraan Hashmi).

Image result for badshahoThe journey between Jaipur and Delhi is marked by many twists and turns, obstacles, and revelations of heart thumping secrets. Emran Hashmi has done a fabulous job and keeps us riveted with his banter and jokes. Esha Gupta and Sanjay Mishra also give great performance. As always, Ajay Devgan’s performance suits the role of more serious, slightly angry, goal focused hero. So focused he is in serving, he says, जुबान और जान सिर्फ एक ही बार जावे. Ileana’s performance is also good. Specifically telling is her slightly awkward, distant stance every time she interacts with her subjects. Story is fast moving and holds the interest. Unfortunately, it seems like the budget ran out before this riveting drama can be brought to a meaningful climax. The end feels abrupt and takes away from what could have been a thrilling end where not only corruption meets justice but trust and friendship are rewarded. Perhaps the waiting airplane could have been put to good use to create such an end!

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.2  

 

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Punjab Nahi Jaungi – Movie Review


“Punjab Nahi Jaungi”, a beautiful film coming out of Pakistani Cinema is brilliantly directed by Nadeem Beyg. Not only the accent is lovely to listen to but the dialogues are beautiful.  Writing credits go to Khalil-ur-Rehman and Qamar.

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiSoon after Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed) returns home to Faisalabad after earning an MA, he plunges headlong into finding and then acquiring his “Heer”. Coincidentally, Amal (Mehwish Hayat) has also just returned to Karachi after completing her studies in London. Fawad’s mother makes the journey to welcome Amal, daughter of close family friends and instantly likes Amal and plans with her husband and father-in-law to ask for her hand for her son, Fawad.  Fawad receives Amal’s photo and instantly falls in love with her. Meanwhile his cousin Durdana (Urwa Hocane) is in love with him and unsuccessfully tries to win his love.

Here Amal rejects Fawad’s proposal as she explains to her grandmother, Bibouji that she is against feudalism.  Lest anyone imagines that this will turn into a typical feminist movie where a young woman fights the system to win her love, let me assure you that is not how the story proceeds. On the other hand it is also not a non-feminist movie. Sorry for the double negative.

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiSo you may ask, “is it a feminist movie or is it not a feminist movie”? In truth, it is a love story where a woman is stronger and smarter than any men she encounters. In fact, all women are stronger than the men around them. While there is one short moment where Amal tries to make her husband a CEO of the company she grows, she does not try to dumb down herself and no one in her immediate circles thinks any less of her. It is a story where she does not have to take on the feudal system that may seek to keep her closed behind a veil. And yet when the men in her life misbehave, they learn fast about the fury of the woman scorned.  Any attempts that are made by the family members are not to change HER but HIM. As the misbehaving man is explained that mistake is his and therefore he has to accept her decision because he can’t succeed going against her because after all.. “ महोब्बत में औरत से कोई जीता नहीं है और नफरत में औरत से कोई हारा नहीं है.”

Image result for punjab nahin jaongiWhile the message is deep and the story is poignant at times, it is also a comedy with many funny moments and fantastic dialogues, delivered at the right moments. One such dialog is about a moment of infidelity. At one point, Amal’s husband feels envious of her business success and turns to the villainess, holds her in intimate embrace and says “please help me”. It would have been the start of infidelity but it got interrupted by Amal’s entry. Amal is furious and insists that he is guilty because his intention was bad. She takes her case to her family and her husband’s family. Almost everyone rises to her defense against her husband and quotes the sentence “please help me” as evidence of the infidelity that would have happened.

Nadeem Bayg’s direction is flawless. The story of respect for women is beautifully told without over dramatization or examples of grave injustice to women.  Maywish Hayat wins over hearts with her graceful, effortless performance.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.8 .

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Bajirao Mastani – Movie Review


Scattered among pomp and circumstance, palaces and palkhins, jewels and rose petals, is a romantic tale of love and loss, religious disharmony and scenes of gruesome military battles, excellent dialogs and typical Bollywood songs. But lest you are expecting a historical saga, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film does not deliver much of history.  In fact, Shiv Sena took a huge objection to “distorting of facts” including of Bajirao dancing to the Bollywood song “Vaat Lavli” and they appealed to hold the release until some scenes were cut from the movie, to no avail.

 Jumping off of the historical character, the film focuses on Peshwa Bajirao Ballad (Ranveer Singh), a brave warrior of the 18th century Maratha regime, and his relationship with the warrior princess Mastani, (Deepika Padukone).  History attests to the fact that Bajirao’s second wife Mastani never found acceptance in her new home because she had a Muslim mother, and her chief opponent was Bajirao’s widowed mother (played by Tanvi Azmi).  

Lest we are too quick to judge that despite his rock solid relationship with his first wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), Bajirao not only fell in love but exchanged oath of marriage with Mastani, marriages with several women were not uncommon among the 18th century royals.  (Also as per historical facts, Mastani did not just come on her own seeking the love of a man who had touched her heart, but instead was promised in marriage, by her father to Bajirao, as his appreciation for the help Bajirao gave in saving his kingdom).  Mastani was a brave and courageous woman in her own right and her dialogues “मस्तानी ने अपनी तक़दीर खुद लिखी है”, “इश्क़ की इबादत के लिए इजाजत की जरुरत नहीं है” and tongue in cheek response to her mother-in-law sending her Ghunghroo to establish her reputation as a courtesan “हमें तो आपकी हर चीज़ अज़ीज़ है, चाहे घुंघरू हो या आपका बेटा” do great justice to her character.   

Religious tolerance and acceptance had also existed and relationships existed between Hindu and Muslim families.  Emperor Akbar’s marriage to Jodhabai and also Mastani’s own Musalman mother’s marriage to her Rajput father (and the mother’s willingness to become sati on the funeral pyre with other women of her husband’s janana, if he would be killed in a battle), are examples of such relationships.  However, as Moghal kingdom’s differential treatment of Hindu subjects and their ambitions were on the rise, Hindu kings also aspired to unite and consolidate a Hindu India.  It is unfortunate that women not only bear the brunt of communal divisions, religious discord, and prejudices but often do so at the hands of other women, a fact that still rings true today..

Overall, I give an A+ for the dialogues “हमने मस्तानीसे महोबत की है, अईयाशी नहीं”, जो महबूब को देखे और खुदा को भूल जाये वोह है इश्क़”, “पराये से क्या शिकायल करनी, घाव तो अपने के चुभते है “, “अगर हमने उन्हें जाते हुए देख लिया तो हमारी जान भी चली जाएगी उनके साथ “, “हम देखना चाहते है दिल्ली के तख़्त पर मराठा का लहराता ध्वज”.  Kudos to script and dialog writers, Nagnath S. Inamdar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and Prakash Kapadia.  But in the end, Bajirao is not a phenomenal historical story as it could have been, but yet another Bollywood film in the mold of  lovers being kept away by villains.  I rate the movie as 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent.  This is a movie that you will enjoy, if you go in with the right expectations.      

 

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“Dum Laga Ke Haisha” – Bollywood Movie Review


Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a beautiful romantic comedy that offers the laughs amid touching, tender moments, as a young couple, forced into a marriage by the family elders, tries to find what is in their own heart, and in the process finds a way to each other’s heart.  Brilliantly written and directed by Sharat Katariya, the scenes flow seamlessly, without appearing excessive or contrived.

Insecure young man, Prem Prakash Tiwari (Ayushmann Khurrana) has nurtured his own version of a perfect life partner, a beautiful slim girl.  His family, led by his overbearing father (Sanjay Mishra), chooses a girl for him, based on reasons that are purely practical.  An educated girl from a good family would help uplift the family economically by bringing in an extra source of income.  After all, Prem is deemed a failure by his father.  Their attention is drawn to Sandhya Tiwari (Bhumi Pednekar), who is educated and aspires to be a teacher.  Sandhya is also plump but then looks are often relegated to the least useful category, when arranging a marriage.  

Tiwaris and Vermas get together, through an intermediary, and arrange a marriage between their children, Prem and Sandhya.  Prem throws a fit and refuses to marry a girl who is plump.  His father scorns his lack of educational success and admonishes him that he is no better, “dasvi to nikal na paya, juhi chawla ke sapne dekh raha hai”.   In the end, the unwilling groom is compelled to acquiesce to the marriage.  Thus begins an awkward relationship, between a reluctant husband who despises being forced into the marriage and the girl who dreamed of love.  Prem laments to his friends “mere ghodu baap ne zindagi barbad kar di meri” and later resolves, “mein kuch karunga aur apna astitv banaunga”.

Sandhya is educated and has plenty of spunk.  When she found her husband mocking her in public, she leaves Prem and his family, and files for divorce.  The clever girl, appropriately defines the problem for the judge, “ji prem ka vivah tha sandhya ke saath, lekin prem to tha hi nahin”.  As the bitterness between the couple has reached the breaking point, much to the chagrin of the families, the couple is forced to look for deeper, more lasting meaning of love.  After all beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and sometimes, in the well groomed muscles, as you will find out :).  

It is a fun, light-hearted comedy.  Khuraana and Pednekar are fantastic, in their roles.  Their life appears to evolve naturally, without feeling contrived.  I rate the movie 3.7 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent.

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“Bahubali: The Beginning”- Bollywood Movie Review


Director S. S. Rajamouli’s “Bahubali: The Beginning” is first part of two part series.   Shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu, and released in a dubbed Hindi version, overseen by producer/director Karan Johar, it is a Bollywood version of Hercules/ Superman movie.  South Indian actor, Prabhas, as Bahubali, with his sheer muscular physicality, can single handedly fight armies, while defending the helpless, whereas the gentler side in him is moved to lift a two ton Shiva lingam out of the earth and bring and position it under the waterfall, so his mother can fulfill her oath of pouring water over it 116 times.

In the history of Indian cinema, Bahubali, with a budget of reported $40 million, is the most expensive production, to date.  Post release marketing has also been extensive.  Bahubali boasts the largest film poster in the world (a 50,000 square-foot billboard in Kochi).  Now Bahubali is expected to break box office records in India and around the world.  

Believed to be orphaned as an infant, Bahubali miraculously survives a murder plot, and is found by a local village woman, who raises him, as her son.  Growing up, Bahubali is pulled by the lure of the mountains that surround the village.  Despite his mother’s admonitions, he keeps attempting to scale the high mountains ,and finally succeeds.  High up, near the clouds, he meets the love of his life, Avanthika (Tamannaah) who belongs to a rebel group, seeking to overthrow a kingdom that is wrongfully usurped by its current king, and rescue the queen, who is held prisoner.  Bahubali proclaims his love for Avanthika and promises to take on her cause.  Bahubali is then called to fulfill more duties, than he might have bargained for, and the adventure will continue in part 2.

I rate this movie as 3.8 on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being excellent.  It has action galore.

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan – Bollywood Movie Review


Bajrangi Bhaijaan – Bollywood Movie Review

Director Kabir Khan’s “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” is a feel-good movie, a fairytale of sorts, where the audience is moved to overlook its many flaws, in pursuit of its worthy goal, overcoming prejudices and stereotypes about religion, nationality, food and more, and in favor of doing the right thing, in favor of peace between nations, and between people divided by political hateful propaganda and misinformation.  

Despite the usual flawless acting by Salman Khan and gorgeous Kareena Kapoor in supporting role, in this movie, it is Harshaali Malhotra who steals hearts.  Malhotra plays the role of a little deaf girl, accidently left behind in India, by her Pakistani mother.  Bajrangi (Khan), a truth loving, Hanumaan devotee, puts his entire life on hold and his future well-being at stake, to undertake the arduous journey to Pakistan, to bring the girl back to her homeland, to her parents.  Aided by the Pakistani folks, Bajrangi makes the journey where stereotypes fall by the wayside, and individual human relationships transcend national hate.  

I rate the movie as 3.9 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent.  Even though I don’t rate it higher than 4, I would say that this is a must-watch movie, just to see Harshaali Malhotra.  Her gorgeous winning smile, beautiful eyes, and playful gestures will steal your heart; whether she is pampering little goats or following Bajrangi until he accepts her responsibility or silently pleading him to lie to the authorities (which he principally will not), or making sweet innocent gestures of “OoofOOO here he goes again” when Bajrangi will stick to the truth and incur the wrath from the border patrol.  I would watch it again, just to see this cute little girl.

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Expectations – Hindi Poem


मानते थे प्यारमे पराये भी अपने होते है
ये सोचकर कुछ बीज हमने भी बोते है

थोड़े से हम नादान थे, थोड़ा गुमान भी था
कहते है प्यारमे जनाब, सब सोते है

दिल गवांकर पाने की ख्वाइश रखते है
बेकारसे ख्वाब लेकर दुनियामे लोग रोते है

ज़िन्दगी अब आखरी साँस तक ले आई
पराये को अपनाना क्या, अपना भी हम खोते है

यह काफी नहीं की पराये भी चंद क्षण साथ देते है?
अरे पगले, वरना पराये भी कभी अपने होते है ?

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Mardaani – Hindi Movie Review


Rani Mukerji as Senior Inspector of Crime Branch, Shivani Shivaji Roy, is fierce, fantastic, and fearless in “Mardaani”, social problem focused, action packed film, directed by Pradeep Sarkar and produced by Aditya Chopra of Yash Raj Films.

Shivani is in hot pursuit of a teenage girl whom she has rescued once and has come to love her as her own daughter.  Clever in picking up clues, Shivani carefully seeks out her sources from the underworld.  She treats one of her sources to a lavish meal and he offers crucial information, in turn.  She thanks him saying, “mutton aur kolhapuri ke badle me achhi information dee re tune” and he responds, “bacchi ke liye dee hai, khane ke lliye nahi”.  Now it is up to Shivani to follow the trail and unmask the moneyed kingpins spearheading the brisk business of human sex trafficking.

Shivani’s fearless ferocity to catch these nasty warlords of the worst kind of trade, is accompanied with some sleek dialogues.  Walt, a grand mafia of sex trafficking tries to get Shivani to get off her pursuit of him.  She tells him “mein gaanv me peda hui thi.  mere ghar ke paas ek jungle tha aur usme bahot janvar rahte the, isliye janvar ki muje achhi pahechan hai.”  When she catches Walt, he says nonchalantly that he can bribe people and get out of jail.  She beats him and he asks if she will do encounter (a word used when a criminal is killed in police encounter, in India).  She is equally nonchalant and responds “jab koi ek marta hai to use encounter bolte hai, aur jab pachas log marte hai to use public outrage bolte hai”, cleverly setting the stage for what is to come next.

English: Savlon Sabsey Favourite Kaun Awards

English: Savlon Sabsey Favourite Kaun Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rani’s performance  is superb, alternating with emotional intensity, as she sees her family getting caught in the cross-fire, and fierce determination to catch the dons of the underworld and save the girls kidnapped by them.  The film is dealing with an issue of great societal significance.   India is the world’s largest hub for sex trafficking, with over 40,000 children abducted to ply the trade.  Every 8 minutes a girl child goes missing.  This film has action, mystery, and stays focused on its goal and does not get sidetracked with romantic interludes or glitzy songs.  Acting by everyone is perfect including Tahir Bhasin, Sanjay Taneja, and Jisshu Sengupta.  But it is Rani Mukerjie who carries the film, plunging straight into business.  On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate it as 4.9.

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“Mary Kom” – Movie Review


Based on the life of the Indian boxer “Mary Kom”, the film produced by famed Sanjay Leela Bhansali and directed by Omung Kumar, is a typical underdog success story that leaves you feeling uplifted.

This is a story about dogged determination that enabled Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, Indian boxing champion to deliver killer punches to life’s obstacles that came between her and her love for the sport, including the insensitivity and bureaucracy of the Sports Federation.  It is also a story of quite but solid love.  Often when one spouse commits to a certain lofty goal, the other spouse picks up the slack.  Here the supporting spouse is the husband (Darshana Kumaar), who takes care of the household chores and babies, to allow Mary Kom the time and space to pursue her passion.  Mary Kom wins medals and championships all across the world, even as she struggles to strike a good work life balance.

English: LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (Feb. ...

English: LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (Feb. 15, 2011) Master-at-Arms Seaman Rhonda McGee, left, spars with Patricia Cuevas during an exhibition match in the preliminary rounds of the 2011 Armed Forces Boxing Championship. Competitors from each branch of service square off Feb. 15 through 18 and the action will be televised on the Pentagon Channel. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Priyanka Chopra in the lead role is superb and plays her role persuesively.  Acting by Darshan Kumaar, Shishir Sharma and Zachry Coffin is also excellent.  It is a heart-warming story of passion that is fully pursued.  It enabled an unknown girl from a rural area of Manipur, to become a five-time World Amateur Boxing Champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each of the six world championships.  Nicknamed “Magnificent Mary”, she continues to pursue her passion while balancing her role as a mother, wife, and daughter.  On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.7.

 

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“Lunchbox” – Movie Review


The Lunchbox is a romantic film, set in India, written and directed by Ritesh Batra, and produced by Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, and Arun Rangachari.  The film was jointly produced by several studios that include DAR motion pictures, UTV Motion Pictures, Dharma Productions, Sikhya Entertainment, NFDC (India), ROH Films (Germany), ASAP Films (France), and the Cine Mosaic (United States).

Saajan and Ila (brilliantly played by Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur) are both prisoners in their unfair, boring, routine lives.  Saajan’s wife has passed away; he is lonely and is stuck in a boring, laborious accountant job, with little prospects.  Ila is young and is stuck in a loveless marriage.  Thanks to her neighbor aunty, Ila tries to spice up her marriage; both literally and figuratively, adding spice to her husband’s favorite foods and beautifying her looks to make herself more attractive to her husband.

A collecting Dabbawala on a bicycle

A collecting Dabbawala on a bicycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ila and Saajan’s paths would never cross, but for a rare mixup by Mumbai’s Dabbawala.  Dabbawalas are part of a lunch delivery system in Mumbai, India, where they collect hundreds of thousands of dabbas (lunchboxes) with hot food prepared at homes or in restaurants, and deliver them to the employees at the workplace, precisely at lunch times.  As famously studied by Harvard Business School, Mumbai’s Dabbawalas are famous for their ontime delivery, every time, and they do not mix up.  But one rare mix up creates this conundrum where Ila’s spiced up food reaches Saajan and Saajan’s humdrum boring dabba from the restaurant gets delivered to Ila’s husband.

As Saajan gets a taste for spice and Ila gets compliments and gets hooked on Saajan’s little notes, and as the mix up continues, the old adage “ignorance is bliss” no more serves either Ila or Saajan.  They both now yearn for more spice and desire to break free from their prison cells of loneliness and despair.  How will it end for Saajan and Ila?  Well, that is hardly the point.  There are rarely neat little, perfectly pictured, resolutions to many of life’s conundrums.  On the other hand, sometimes a door opens, or you may come to a point where you face two paths and need to choose one.  One may not walk out the open door; Ila may or may not walk out of her marriage, into Saajan’s arms; or Saajan may not choose the path of getting involved with a younger woman in distress.  And yet, it is the opening of the door or knowing that you are making a choice of a path, that makes all the difference.  As Saajan later repeats the brilliant piece of advice he heard from his young and perky colleague at work (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), “sometimes the wrong train can take you to the right station”.  While to do nothing, to remain stagnant, is a certain death, sometimes it is simply the process of conscious movement that may create opportunities.  And both Saajan and Ila are getting restless; to do nothing, is not an option for them anymore.

The film was screened at International Critics’ Week at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and later won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award also known as Grand Rail d’Or.  It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.  This is a beautiful film; heart warming, realistic and tender.  I rate it a 4.5 on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being excellent.

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