Archive for category Hindi – Bollywood Movie Reviews
Thappad begins with the routine family life of Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) a happily married housewife and her husband, Vikran (Pavail Gulati). Vikram works in a reputed company and is aggressively focused on climbing the corporate ladder that will ultimately take him to London, as the head honcho. Amrita is aware of how much his career means to Vikram, and is fully focused on supporting her husband. Her life revolves around looking for his comfort and attending to his mother, Sulochana (Tanvi Azmi).
Vikarm is elated when he is selected for the desired role and throws a celebration party to his friends. During the celebration, he gets the news that another white man is deemed more appropriate and Vikram would be reporting to him. Vikram has a heated argument with one of his superiors Rajhans, who was attending the party. When Amrita comes in the middle and tries to stop him for escalating the argument, Vikram’s anger turns on her and he slaps her. This thappad begins a chain of events and forms the core theme of the movie.
This movie is a MeToo moment for me and is personal for me in several ways, although for me, it wasn’t the first thappad and lack of apology. But after I let go of the first thappad after tearful apologies, the apologies became less frequent and genuine and then disappeared, and thappads became more routine. In a changing India, Amrita refuses to brush off this single incident of violence and public humiliation. When she questions her life choices and finally her marriage, Vikran propelled by anger and bad advice, transforms a no contest, mutual consent divorce into a full blown court battle. That was another MeToo moment for me and a reminder of the time when my appeal for mediation was thrown out and the accusations and fake accusations were launched, casting me as an abuser and mentally unstable. It is easy to be charming in public and in periods of happiness, but as a society and in family units, we need to ask a question, how do people react under stress and outside of the public eye, and do women get to bear the brunt of family stress and do they lose their right to be happy, one smile at a time?
The movie does not make light of a thappad, nor does it make a thappad bigger than what it is. Instead, what the film does is to serve as a thoughtful reminder that abuse should not be an acceptable aspect in a relationship and love, respect and happiness are closely tied together. Amrita says, मुझे वहां रहना नथी जहाँ पे मेरी वेल्यू न हो and she says, “I want to be happy and when I say, I am happy, I don’t want to look unreal”. Even while making a compelling case for a woman’s right to genuine happiness, the movie does not downgrade into men bashing thoughtlessness. And even when the movie focuses on happiness which would be at a higher level in Maslows’s hierarchy of needs, the film does not fail to show the struggles of women like Amrita’s maid, who are battling domestic violence at home on a daily basis, while working in low level jobs.
What is working so beautifully in the movie is that the dialogs are natural and low key. Huge kudos to Director Anubhav Sinha and co script writers Sinha and Mrunmayee Lagoo to not just stir up passions but make this a strongly worded film of significance. Tapsee Pannu is fabulous in conveying the impact of her experience and her dilemma without getting acrimonious, loud or overbearing. Her restrained acting with impactful dialogs serves as moments of reckoning about the assumptions and expectations surrounding women’s roles in Indian society. The entire cast including Kumud Sharma (Amrita’s adoring father), Pavil Gulati (Vikram), Ratna Pathak Shah (Amrita’s mother), Tanvi Azmi (Amrita’s mother in law), Maya Sarao (Amrita’s lawyer) and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan (Amrita’s maid) show the restraint and deliver a powerful film. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being perfect), I rate the film as 4.9.
Good Newwz is yet another beautiful comedy coming out of Bollywood, after a series of lovely recent comedies, including #LukaChuppi #SkyIsPink and #ZoyaFactor . Current genre of Bollywood films depict real issues facing Indian society, in a light-hearted manner.
In Good Newwz, two couples are trying to get pregnant, with some professional medical help. Deepti (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Varun Batra (Akshay Kumar) are upscale, high-flying married couple, engaged in their respective careers, while trying to conceive a baby, after 7 years of marriage. Meanwhile, Honey Batra (Diljit Dosanjh) and his wife Monika (Klara Advani) are “the Batras from Chandigarh” and are trying to get pregnant, after 6 years of marriage, numerous tries to conceive, and a couple of miscarriages. Both couples soon find out they are “happily pregnant” —— or are they?
Director Raj Mehta maintains a tight pace, keeps preaching and emotional drama lighthearted and to a minimum, and presents the challenging situation, as naturally as possible. It’s a beautiful movie. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.6.
Inspired by the steamy bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the movie “Book Club” offers for the fainthearted, the best comedy, minus any actual S&M action. A group of senior women, Vivian (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) choose to read the steamy bestseller and the result is a superbly funny comedy. These women are not the only high profile star cast. The men who enter their lives also make a fine cast and also deserve a special mention; they are, Mitchell (Andy Garcia), Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), Arthur (Don Johnson), George (Richard Dreyfuss), Tom (Ed Begley Jr.).
The desire for intimate companionship for seniors and perhaps for women more than men, is often relegated to the trash heap, in the channels of intimacy. While in some cultures, desire for intimacy among women may be a matter of amusement or may be discouraged in the espoused interest of safety, in others, it is actively frowned upon, banned and even punished.. (Watch my review of a similar Bollywood movie “Lipstick Under My Burkha” http://bit.ly/2p5b2Xm ). Cold showers is a remedy often prescribed in India, for any “wayward thoughts of intimacy”.
But it is not just in the realm of physical intimacy that this film delivers. Loneliness and craving for a companion who may be at similar stage in life, is often one of the most significant need among senior citizens. The film scores on addressing both of these issues, the significance of companionship and the need for physical intimacy, and shows how they sometimes (but not always) go hand in hand. Very likely these women have been doing book club for years. Maybe the right impetus, right circumstances did not arrive until this moment when all of them are intrigued with the thought of exploring the idea of intimacy and provide mutual encouragement. It matters but little, as long as they seized the moment.
Using the steamy book as a stepping stone, these women explore the aspect of physical intimacy; and at first kicking and screaming and later gently, glide into the cozy realm of emotional intimacy. They all at first, seem to concur with Vivian that “emotional connection is highly overrated” and make a pact “we shall not go gentle into the good night”. Brilliant and witty use of metaphors supplies an endless stream of humor. These feisty, fearless, independent women who provide companionship, solace and support to each other, fight the focus on softer, gentler aspects of intimacy with the opposite sex, for as long as they could. But in the end they find that physical intimacy is that much more satisfying and joyous when they are or if they are also able to find emotional connection. Even those among this feisty group, who can’t find intimacy, get it. Sharon sums up about love (and it is rephrased here), love does not happen because the person is intelligent or pretty and it’s not the sun or the moon or all the meaning we load onto it; love is just a word, until someone gives it meaning, and you find that someone when you put yourself out there. \
It is a beautiful movie and on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it 4.7 – in theaters now.
Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, 2017 Bollywood film, “Lipstick Under My Burkha” gives an intimate, powerful glimpse into the lives of four women; Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) draped in burkha at home, helps her parents in sewing burkhas, but outside she does a quick identity change and steps into her jeans and sings Led Zeppelin songs; Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma) lives the story of a submissive wife with her chauvinistic husband at home and excels at her secret job as a saleswoman during the day, Leela (Aahana Kumra) works as a beautician and finds solace in sex, and Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) is the respected Buaji to her family but in the lonely hours of the night, dreams of men and has clandestine phone sex.
Stories of these women unfold in the midst of a background narrative of Rozi, a fictional heroine in one of the racy romance novels that Buaji hides in her religious tomes and reads in her spare time. These four women live their lives on the the thin line between reality and dreams. They have to routinely lie, cheat and steal to rob few moments of joy from their unbearable lives.
Their stories are poignant and touching and at the same time, ordinary. For the most part, Indian society exhibits a great deal of hipocrisy. While hipocrisy in Indian society extends to practices and observances around religious rituals, behavior around elders, and observance of class and caste, most prominent and often shocking hipocritical norms and double standards are observed in expectations and prescribed rules of behavior specific to each gender. While a man lusting after a younger woman or having an affair outside his marriage may be looked down upon, it is considered much less severe than if a woman may have committed these offences; and how a society punishes a woman for the same offense if often far more harsh. Similarly, while most boys and men have freedom to wear clothes they choose, and have wide degrees of professional freedom, it is simply not so for women.
This movie offers a window into the lives of ordinary women who strike deals with societal restrictions on a daily basis with alternating periods of acquiescing to the norms and restrictions and determinedly enjoying periods of bliss when they can. But the beauty in this movie is that it is also poignant in where this journey ends for these women, in the movie. While it is unclear how life will eventually unfold for each of these women, these ostracized women come together as comrades; they talk, laugh, and read and discuss Rozi’s fictional story. What is abundantly clear is that it is not the system that will change to accommodate them. The change will have to come from them and from their greater understanding and support of each other; that change only begins with dreams but it will take enormous commitment and courage on the path to greater fulfillment of the promise.
As Rihana reads last few pages of Rozi’s story, she comments
ye story bhi juth bolti hai, hamari life kharab ka deti hai
Translation: this fictional story also tells us lies
and Usha responds ……………
juth bolti hai shayad sapne dekhne ki himmat deti hai
Translation: It tells lies but gives us courage to dream
And narration continues……….
Khidki ki salakhe ab rozi ko rok nahi sakti. Rozi ne bar savare, aansu ponche aur chokhat ke bahar kud padi. pinjde me bandh sapno ki chabi akhir rozi ke dil ke andar hi thi.
Translation: Bars on the window can’t stop Rozi any more. Rozi combs her hair, dries her tears and jumps out. Photo of dreams locked inside the cage was after all inside Rozi’s heart.
Sometimes dream is a genie that is hard to push back in a bottle. As Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, “I have a dream” that started the process of change in the American society. Dreams help us imagine the possibilities and pave the path for courage and commitment required to change what has been until then normal. This is a beautiful movie and on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being excellent), I rate it 4.8. This review is slightly late for women’s day but still in the window of women’s history month :). Wishing all warrior women who drive the change on a daily basis and all courageous men who dare to dream of fair and inclusive society, a very happy women’s month.
Directed 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).
The 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
“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.
Soon 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.
So 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.”
While 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 .
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.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews, Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports on August 24, 2015
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.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews, Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports on August 18, 2015
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.
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.