Movie Review: Waiting

Waiting: A beautiful catharsis

Some movies just touch your heart and make a lasting impact, “Waiting” is one such movie which explores the grim reality of life and shows us how we can have a positive outlook in such situation…

“Waiting” is a story of two strangers Shiv Kumar (Naseeruddin Shah) and Tara Deshpande (Kalki Koechlin) who meet in a hospital waiting room, both are in the same situation, Shiv’s wife Pankaja (Suhasini Mani Ratnam) is in coma for last 8 months and Tara who is newly married, her husband Rajat (Arjun Mathur) has met with an accident resulting in coma due to severe head injury. How Shiv and Tara cope up with their respective situation is what the movie is all about….waiting movie

Story & Screenplay written by Anu Menon, Atika Chohan & James Ruzicka beautifully showcases two different generations and their thought process through the two principal characters Shiv and Tara. Shiv represents the older generation, who is more composed and has hope that is wife will recover, because for him the person with whom he has spent 40 years of his life is the most important hence he does not want to let go his relationship. On the other hand Tara who represents the present generation, who is impatient and practical and thinks that if her husband cannot return to normal life then trying to save him is futile. The writing beautifully captures the essence and the ideology of both the generations and justifies the same as well. Both the characters Shiv and Tara are written with a lot of depth which is the highlight of the movie. Other than the principal characters even the supporting characters like the Doctor Nirupam, or the Ishita, Tara’s friend or Girish employee of Tara’s husband’s are very well etched. Where the movie is a bit of a downer is its pace which slows down a bit in the second half. But kudos to the writers they keep the essence of the movie intact without taking the regular Bollywood track as a climax, it may be abstract for many but then it sums up the title and premise of the movie…Overall a good job as far as the writing goes…

Atika Chohan dialogues lifts up the screenplay, she gets the character’s dialogues bang on, whether it is Shiv’s dialogues which is more restrained or Tara’s which is care free and more verbose, or of other characters. Atika has paid special attention to the premise of the characters and then written the dialogues, and kept the language also as per the characters, where the dialogues needs to be in English it is in English, where ever it needs to be in Malayalam it is in Malayalam and where ever it needs to be in Hindi it is in Hindi…and there has been no effort to translate the dialogues to make the audience understand… really a commendable job…

It is the performances which takes the movie to another level. Naseeruddin Shah as Shiv is just PERFECT, there no other word to describe his performance. Naseer yet again proves his brilliance as a performer. Kalki Koechlin as Tara, the free spirited girl in a grim situation gets her act spot on. Tara’s character was a complex one but Kalki just breezes through the portrayal like a fresh air, undoubtedly one of the noteworthy performances of the year so far. With “Waiting” Kalki makes her presence felt in Bollywood. Rajat Kapoor as Dr Nirupam, portrays the cold and calculative doctor with panache, another brilliant performance by the actor. Rajeev Ravindranathan as the simpleton Girish takes your heart away with his underplayed performance.  It was a pleasure to see Suhasini Mani Ratnam after a gap as Pankaja, Shiv’s wife who is in coma, though she has a relatively a small role but she brings a freshness with her performance and her Hindi brings a smile to your face. Arjun Mathur as Rajat, Tara’s husband brings the required chemistry with Kalki as the newlywed, and was a delight to watch… Ishita played by Ratnabali Bhattacharya also does a good job though she does not have much to do in the movie. In a nutshell the performances make the movie a must watch…

Kudos to Anu Menon first for choosing this subject and second for narrating it beautifully with balancing the two points of views portrayed by the principal characters. She balances the emotion quotient well without making it melodramatic or over the top. After her not so successful “London Paris New York” and her short story in “X-Past Is Present”, Anu Menon comes to her own with “Waiting”….impressive job…

The two principal actors Naseeruddin Shah & Kalki Koechlin takes the movie to a different level with their superlative performances…I will go with 4 stars…

Movie Rating: (4 / 5)

Movie Review: Phobia

Phobia: A Phobia which thrills

Phobia Movie ReviewPsychological thrillers are not that common in Bollywood, the last psychological thriller which made some impact was “404” directed by Prawal Raman in 2011…post which there has not been any psychological thriller in true sense in Bollywood until “Phobia” now…

“Phobia” tells us the story of Mahek (Radhika Apte) an artist who after an unfortunate incident suffers from Agoraphobia which starts affecting her life and near & dear ones… so she starts living alone in a flat, where she starts experiencing and seeing weird things…is it some kind of ghost or is it her imagination…well this is what the movie explores…

Written by Viki Rajani, the movie explores the darker side of human psyche and the story borderlines between a horror and a psychological thriller, well hats off to Viki who balances it well. There are enough twists and turns and surprise elements which will make you glued to the seats. The characters are also quite interesting like the weird neighbour Mannu (Ankur Vikal) or the full of life teenager Nikki (Yashaswani Dayama). Viki uses all the elements which can be used for a horror movie to scare you, but slightly falls short. But the movie keeps you guessing right till the end..The main issue with “Phobia” is its wafer thin plot and a climax that is too abstract. There are many questions which remain unanswered or not explored well…In short the movie fails to tie up all the loose end at the end…But it was a brilliant attempt nevertheless…

It is the performances which make the movie a worth watch, beginning with Radhika Apte who plays the title role of Mehak, she does an outstanding job and it is her performance which is responsible keeping the viewers glued till the end. It is a complex character no doubt but Radhika Apte’s effortless performance just makes it realistic. Satyadeep Mishra who plays Mehak’s boyfriend Shaan, plays the perfect foil to Radhika’s complex portrayal. His performance is honest and to top it all believable. Another good performance is by Ankur Vikal who plays the weird neighbour Mannu, his portrayal is so apt that you will keep on guessing his real intentions…Nikki played superbly by Yashaswani Dayama brings the much needed breath of fresh air to the otherwise tense narration, the newcomer does impress and how…Nivedita Bhattacharya as Anu, Mehak’s sister is a brief role but she does complete justice to her character with a performance.. Overall the main highlight of the movie is its performances…

Pawan Kripalani does a decent job for a psychological thriller, which is not a mean task to make to begin with…full marks to him for not going the mundane way and sticking to the concept and format of Psychological thriller. Kripalani creates the necessary tension required in a thriller quite well, but I still think his “Ragini MMS” was his best till date….

“Phobia” is a Radhika Apte show all the way and she will not disappoint you even for a minute…I will go with three stars…

Movie Rating: (3 / 5)

Movie Review: Sarbjit

Sarbjit: An Inspiring Story, But Falls short to Impress

It is raining biopic this month first it was “Azhar” and now “Sarbjit”. “Azhar” failed to impress the critics and audience alike, will “Sarbjit” be successful in winning the hearts is the big question…

“Sarbjit” tells the heart wrenching story of Dalbir Kaur (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and her struggle to get her brother Sarabjit Singh (Randeep Hooda) back to India, who by mistake crosses the LOC and is arrested by Pakistani soldiers and is falsely convicted for terrorist activities in Pakistan. The movie chronicles Dalbir’s fight of 23 years to get her brother justice.Sarbjit Movie Review

Written by Uttkarshini Vashishtha and Rajesh Beri, the screenplay tries to capture the sorrow and pain that Dalbir and her family went through for 23 years to get Sarabjit back to India, but fails to be realistic in the bargain the so called sorrows and pains look forced and plastic. Another problem with the writing is the flow which is not very smooth it just jumps from one year to another not specifically capturing the real struggle which Dalbir Kaur went through, it just puts the incidents in a chronological order as far as the happenings are concerned. The writing is hell bent on only getting the emotional quotient right whereas in a biopic or for a real life incident it is essential to capture the facts correct, but unfortunately the writing just does not do so. It is clear the script lacks research and is written from a single point of view. But there are few sequences which do touch your heart, like when Sarabjit’s family visits him in the Pakistan or all the moments of Dalbir and Sarabjit does make your eyes misty. Other than a few sequences the overall writing is very average and “Sarbjit” misses the mark due to this. The dialogues written by Uttkarshini Vashishtha are apt but fail to uplift the scenes other than a few….

“Sarbjit” boasts of some earnest performances, starting with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who plays the central character of Dalbir Kaur with earnestness, but as an audience you will not connect with her, first her Punjabi dialect sounds forced and second you feel it is Aishwarya all the way and Dalbir gets lost in the persona called Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. I would say the casting goes completely wrong, frankly speaking missed Vidya Balan, I think she should have been the best suited for this role. Randeep Hooda who plays Sarabjit steals the show and how, every scene he is perfect, from a mischievous youngster to a convict to a frail old man especially in the jail sequences, your heart just goes out to him. In every scene he gives 100% and it shows thanks to the transformation he has gone through for the role, it won’t be a too much if I say it is Randeep Hooda’s show all the way. Richa Chadha who plays Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet does not have much to do but where ever she gets a chance she shines and makes her presence felt, she shows a few scenes are enough to make your presence felt for a good actor Darshan Kumaar as lawyer Awais Sheikh from Pakistan has a brief role but he impresses in his few scenes. Rest of the cast also do a good job…

Omung Kumar in his second biopic seems more in control but the script just fails him. He does get the emotional quotient correct which was somehow missing in his first “Mary Kom” but fails to impress overall. The biggest mistake was casting Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Dalbir Kaur, her star presence just steals the real essence of the story, and it just does not work. Another issue is lack of research which blatantly shows as it lacks realism, I think Omung Kumar should have done some more research on the subject which is needed in a biopic or real life incident. Overall Omung Kumar should take a break from biopic and try to get the finesse in his direction…

Music does not play much importance in the movie but it fails to impress as well. Though there are a list of composers like Jeet Ganguli, Amaal Mallik, Tanishk Bagchi, Shashi-Shivam and Shail-Pritesh but the songs just do not touch your heart, a simple case of too many cooks spoil the broth…

Cinematography by Kiran Deohans is good and captures the nuances well from the Paddy fields of Punjab to Govt Offices of Delhi to the grim of a jail.

Production design by Vanita Omung Kumar is impressive and gets the details correct right from the Punjab village house to the jail, all are well designed…well Omung Kumar could not have got this wrong…knowing his past experience with set design…

Costume Design by Shahid Amir & Neetu Singh helps to build the characters well with their eye for details from the Phulkari to the Prison clothes all are done well…

“Sarbjit” could have been an inspiring story but it falls short….I will go with 3 stars…one extra star for the brilliant performance of Randeep Hooda and the story of inspiring story of Dalbir Kaur & Sarabjit Singh…..

Movie Rating: (3 / 5)

Movie Review: Azhar

Azhar: A Caricature Than a Biopic

Azhar Movie ReviewBiopics are sensitive themes, if they are not handled with utmost care it becomes a caricature, well “Azhar” falls in that category…”Neerja”, “Mary Kom”, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” are some of the best biopics of Bollywood….

“Azhar” chronicles the life of famous cricketer and ex-captain of India Mohammad Azharuddin from his Hyderabad days to his glory as a cricketer and his fall due to the controversial match fixing case and his lifetime ban from cricket, the movie specifically emphasizes on Azharuddin’s controversial match fixing case and his second marriage to Sangeeta Bijlani. Not much has been explored on his life as a cricketer….

Story & Screenplay by Rajat Aroraa tries to leverage the controversial side of the cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin’s life, the court case in particular for match fixing and his lifetime ban from cricket. Azharuddin’s life had enough happenings for a Bollywood adaptation but Rajat fails to put all the events in a cohesive manner, the screenplay looks like an amalgamation of incidences from the cricketer’s life. The court room sequences which constitute the major part of the movie are the worst written scenes of the movie. Other than cohesiveness the writing fails to connect on an emotional level which is extremely important for a biopic. One of the major issues of the movie is how the characters are written, other than a few characters like the central character Azhar, or his wife Naureen, or the defence lawyer Meera Verma, other character come out more as caricatures than a realistic portrayal. The only good thing about the writing is the love story track of Azhar and his first wife Naureen, it is cute and it pulls your heart strings, albeit briefly. Azhar’s second love story with the Bollywood actress Sangeeta falls flat and looks forced, it just does not delve on the emotional quotient at all and to make the matters worse the actors Emraan Hashmi and Nargis Fakhri who played Azhar and Sangeeta respectively have NO chemistry….Even for the match fixing case the script remains on a superficial level, rather at the end you feel the movie was made to make Azharuddin look like a messiah.. The saving grace of the writing is Rajat’s dialogues which has been his forte and he does not disappoint, but the bad script overshadows the good dialogues…Overall the movie fails in the writing department from the word go…

The performances also does not help the movie, other than Emraan Hashmi who plays the titular role of Azhar, Prachi Desai who plays Azhar’s first wife Naureen and Lara Dutta who plays the defence lawyer Meera Verma, rest of the cast just fail to make any impact. Amongst the three, Emraan Hashmi impresses the most in the way he has copied the body language of the cricketer and does complete justice to his character, he is definitely a good actor which he has proven time and again, remember his performance in “Shanghai”, one of his best, I just hope he gets a better movie where he can showcase his talent well. Prachi Desai brings the poise required in her role extremely well and says a lot through her eyes, another actress whose talent is yet to be exploited fully. Lara Dutta as the fiery defence lawyer Meera Verma does a crackling job, rather I must say in the court room scenes she is the saving grace. Nargis Fakhri as the Bollywood actress Sangeeta only pouts in the name of acting and has the same expression throughout the movie whether she is sad or happy, she looks completely out of place and sleep walks through her role, one of the worst performances of the movie. Kunal Roy Kapoor as Azhar’s lawyer and friend Reddy is a catastrophe, his dialect is the most confusing whether he has a gujrati twang or a hyderabadi twang in the movie, and he looks lost throughout the movie just like his character. Gautam Gulati who debuts in this movie as cricketer Ravi acts as if he is still in “Big Boss” with his over confident swagger. Karanvir Sharma as Manoj with an awkward wig tries hard to play the antagonist, but I must say fails miserably, he hams throughout the movie. Manjot Singh as Navjot looks like a cartoon character thanks to the BAD writing and fails miserably. Good actors like Khulbhushan Kharbanda, Shernaz Patel, Varun Badola and Rajesh Sharma are wasted…

The music of the movie fails to create any impact…

The director Tony D’Souza also known as Anthony D’Souza fails miserably in putting up the biopic…Tony should have stuck to his masala fares like “Boss” & “Blue”…both failed to impress the critics or the box office…

“Azhar” is a bad attempt in creating a biopic and the movie fails in many levels prominent being writing and performances…I will go with 2 stars…

Movie Rating: (2 / 5)