Movie Review: Rangoon

Rangoon: A Beautiful Canvas without the soul

Rangoon-Official-ReviewVishal Bharadwaj the ace film maker has mastered the art of narrating complex stories on human relations and he is a master in adapting Shakespeare’s work in Hindi movies. All of Vishal’s adaptation of Shakespearian work has been a critical and box office success.

With “Rangoon” Vishal tries to keep it simple with a triangular love story in Broadway style with a back drop of World War 2 and Independence Struggle in 1944. “Rangoon” set in 1944 tells the story of Julia (Kangana Ranaut) a successful actress who is controlled by her mentor Rustom Billimoria a.k.a Rusi (Saif Ali Khan) a movie baron who started as an actor, but due to a fatal accident had to retire as an actor and became a film producer. A much married and pro British, Rusi thinks Julia is his property which he bought when Julia was 14 years from her mother in Rs 1000, in a nutshell he is obsessed with Julia. Julia on the other hand thinks Rusi’s obsession as love and dreams of becoming Mrs Billimoria one day. In the mean time the British Major General Harding (Richard McCabe) comes up with a proposal of sending Julia to the Burma border in order to entertain the soldiers there to Rusi which he agrees. Jamadar Nawab Mallik, a soldier in the British army is given the responsibility of taking care of Miss Julia in her trip to Burma Border. In the course of many events in the journey Julia and Nawab fall in love. What happens to Julia’s love for Rusi, how does Rusi react to the liaison of Julia towards Nawab, and is Nawab hiding a secret, is what the rest of the movie is all about….

Story by Matthew Robbins has too many sub plots namely a triangular love story, the world war, the INA and their Japanese alliance and the freedom struggle. The screenplay by Matthew Robbins, Sabrina Dhawan and Vishal Bharadwaj himself is a case of too many plots spoil the screenplay. “Rangoon” suffers from an identity crisis, neither is it a full blown love story, neither a spy thriller, neither a movie on world war and neither a story a story of INA and freedom struggle. Though primarily more emphasis is given to the triangular love story of the principal characters of Julia, Rusi and Nawab but the sub plot fail to blend with the love story that is intended to narrate, which confuses you what exactly the movie wants to convey. The other problem is the narration; the format is like “Casablance” meets “Chicago” which not only makes the movie leisurely paced due to too many songs but it also stretches till the point of exhaustion. The first half is still tolerant as far as the pace goes but in the second half the songs in a drop of a hat just tests your patience. The worst part of the screenplay is its climax which suddenly goes ballistic and melodrama seeps in and you feel you are transported to the 80’s genre of Hindi movies. In the last 30 minutes of the movie the patriotism is almost thrust down your throat till you scream “Bloody Hell”. One thing that the script gets right is its three principal characters, especially the character of Julia which is the most layered and complexed, it oscillates from being a child woman to a matured woman, next is the character of Nawab which keeps you guessing his moves and motives till the end, the third being the character of Rusi Billimoria, the suave and shrewd movie baron who oscillates from being obsessed  and being in love with Julia, his insecurities and his eccentricities due to Julia are relatable. The worst character of the movie is Major General Harding who becomes more of a caricature than menacing what with his Urdu shayari in British accent, which I thought was entirely unnecessary and extremely out of place. Too many characters also play a spoil sport in the narration; some of the characters just do not make any sense in the overall scheme of things. Overall an extremely average writing, not expected from Vishal Bharadwaj.

The dialogues written by Vishal Bharadwaj oscillates from being serious to funny to out rightly outlandish, especially the dialogues of Major General Harding and his Urdu shaiyari was extremely annoying. The patriotic dialogues sound amateurish.Rangoon-Movie-Review

“Rangoon” is a must watch for the performances of the three principal characters, starting with the portrayal of Julia, the complex of the three has been portrayed beautifully by Kangana Ranaut, she does not only look great as a vintage actress but acts effortlessly, you just cannot take your eyes off from her when she is on screen. Kangana yet again proves she is an actress par excellence. Shahid Kapoor who always does wonders in a Vishal Bharadwaj movie, gives a restrained and impactful performance as Jamadar Nawab Mallik. Shahid acts more with his eyes in this movie and each of his expressions creates more depth for his character. At the end it is Nawab’s character which stays with you, thanks to a brilliant performance by Shahid Kapoor. Saif Ali Khan who did wonders with his last association with Vishal as Langda Tyagi in Omkara, gives yet another riveting performance as Rusi Billimoria, though his screen time is less as compared to the other two characters, but still he shines as the shrewd and obsessive movie baron with flying colours. Richard McCabe as Major General Harding hams and his urdu shaiyari is hardly funny and looks caricaturish, one of the worst performance of the movie. Other actors like Gerson Da Cunha, Shriswara, Rushad Rana, Gajraj Rao, Atul Kumar, Satoru Kawaguchi, Alex Avery do not have much to contribute but they do well in whatever little screen time they have.

It is the technical team which make “Rangoon” a treat to watch. Cinematography by Pankaj Kumar is the best thing to have happened to “Rangoon”, it looks amazing and every frame is a master piece. Production Design by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray is spot on as per the period, right from the re-creating Mumbai or should I say Bombay of 40’s, the buildings to the cars to the train to the match box, the intricate details by Subrata and Amit cannot be missed, undoubtedly award winning. Costume Design by national award winner Dolly Ahluwalia again hits the bull’s eye, from the skirts to the suits to the army uniforms; all are researched and as per the period depicted, brilliant work from Dolly. Overall the magicians at the back ground make “Rangoon” a visual extravaganza.

Vishal Bharadwaj who normally gets it right, just losses it to his indulgence in making “Rangoon” a desi “Casablanca” in Broadway style movie. It is the writing in a Vishal Bharadwaj movie which shines; unfortunately “Rangoon” fails to shine as far as the writing goes. Somewhere you feel that Vishal  is confused what he wants to convey, and the ridiculous climax just destroys the little credibility the movie had. Undoubtedly “Rangoon” is one of the weakest works by Vishal after “Matru ki Bijli Ka Mandola”.

Music which is Vishal Bharadwaj’s forte shines in this movie as well, but too many songs mars the freshness in the narration. Though the choreography of “Bloody hell” and “Mere Piya Gaye England” by Sudesh Adhana and the choreography of “Julia” and “Tippa” by Farah Khan are note worthy. Melody wise and poetry wise “ Alvida”  and “Yeh Ishq Hai” stand out, what with Gulzar’s beautiful lyrics. Again the combo of Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar creates impact.

“Rangoon” is half baked visual treat, with some brilliant performances by Kagana, Shahid & Saif…I will go with Three Stars…

Movie Rating: (3 / 5)

Movie Review: The Ghazi Attack

The Ghazi Attack: A befitting salute to The Indian Navy

The Ghazi Attack Movie ReviewWar movies are very few in Bollywood, and there are very few directors like J. P. Dutta in 90’s or Chetan Anand in 60’s who take the pain to explore the subject. War movie genre that is inspired by real life incident was last seen in “LOC” in 2003.

“The Ghazi Attack” dares to explore the genre, but this time it is the Indian Navy which is explored which I think is for the first time in Bollywood that a movie on Indian Navy has been made, so apt tag line “First Under water War Movie”…

“The Ghazi Attack” is inspired by a classified mission of the Indian Navy in 1971, which resulted in destroying the submarine from Pakistan named Ghazi.

Written by Sankalp Reddy, Niranjan Reddy & Gunnam Gangraju, “The Ghazi Attack” has been written in a thriller format which keeps you engaged throughout the run time of 2 hours and 5 minutes. The script is full of twists and turns, though we all know the end but hats off to the writing team who keep the surprise element intact. A proper study has gone behind writing of the script which comes out quite obvious as most part of the movie the procedures, the discipline and code of conduct of the Navy is correctly portrayed. Each character has its significance in the script and no time is wasted on unnecessary sequences which are irrelevant to the subject. Though at the end there is a bit of chest thumping patriotism which as per my opinion was not required in such a realistic theme. The dialogues written by Azad Alam is apt and to the point which consolidates the crisp narration. The writing creates the required patriotism without going overboard on emotion and melodrama.

Other than the writing the ensemble cast adds up to the movie watching experience. Rana Daggubati as Lt Commander Arjun Varma looks and acts like a naval officer, his looks blends with the character and he acts well. The crackling performance comes from Kay Kay Menon who portrays Captain Ranvijay Singh, a straight forward and extremely ruthless captain. Kay Kay Menon lives the character throughout the narration and never goes overboard which was risk for such a character, but he fares with flying colours as Captain Ranvijay Singh. Another performance which creates an impact is of Atul Kulkarni who plays Executive officer Devraj, his underplayed portrayal wins the hearts of the audience, this is the second winner for Atul after a brilliant performance in “Raees”. You would end up remembering both Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni after the movie gets over. Taapsee Pannu as a Bangladeshi refugee has a miniscule role and her presence does not make any difference to the narration. Rahul Singh as the Pakistani commander Razaq Khan, brings the required cunningness and shrewdness in the character and never goes overboard with his menacing act. Rest of the cast Om Puri, Nassar, Milind Gunaji , Bikramjeet Kanwarpal and many other actors who play soldiers do a brilliant job making the movie a delight to watch.

Debutant director Sankalp Reddy hits the bull’s eye with his first movie. He keeps the narration as realistic as possible with a thriller edge which keeps you glued till the end. Such movies have the risk of looking like a documentary, but Sankalp makes the movie as entertaining as possible. He has extracted some brilliant performances from the ensemble cast. Welcome Sankalp Reddy to Bollywood, we look forward for more such riveting cinema.

Amongst the technical side there are Five things that stand apart, one the production design by Shivam Rao, who has successfully created the set of the submarine so well that you feel that you are inside a real submarine and not a make believe. Second is the editing by A. Sreekar Prasad, which is so razor sharp that you never have a dull moment throughout the movie. Third is the VFX, which is the biggest star of the movie, it is not completely at par with Hollywood but still it does not disappoint, and makes your experience memorable. Fourth being the costume design by Ashwanth Byri, he gets the men in uniform bang on without any frills. And last not the least is the cinematography by Madhie, which adapts to the mood and the narration of the movie well.

“The Ghazi Attack” is a salute to the Indian Navy and a must watch for every Indian, I will go with Four Stars…

Movie Rating: (4 / 5)

Movie Review: Irada

Irada: Fails in its IRADA to Entertain

Brilliant Concept and a compelling cast are two ingredients of a good movie, but if the screenplay and execution falters both the ingredients is just a waste. Well “Irada” is such a catastrophe.

Irada-movie-review“Irada” tells the story of small town of Punjab where a PPFL, a  Pharma company owned by businessman Paddy Sharma (Sharad Kelkar) has a supremacy in the city and the state, having the CM Ramandeep Braitch (Divya Dutta) under his influence. The company does reverse boring to dispose the chemical waste, wherein the chemical waste of the Pharma Company is drilled inside the ground which in return has contaminated the water and soil. Unaware of all this ex armyman Prabjeet Singh Walia (Naseeruddin Shah) and his daughter Riya (Rumana Molla) lead a normal life until Riya is diagnosed of cancer and she dies. On the other hand a journalist who has evidence of PPFL polluting the city is killed and Maya (Sagarika Ghatge) his girlfriend goes pillar to post to unravel the mystery of the killing of his boyfriend. In the meantime there is a blast in PPFL and the reverse boring plant gets destroyed, to investigate a NIA officer Arjun Mishra (Arshad Warsi) is sent for investigation. What does Arjun find in his investigation and who is responsible for the blast is what the movie is all about.

The concept of Eco terrorism has been explored first time in Bollywood, and it has an element of novelty, but the screenplay unfortunately fails to live up to the novelty. The movie could have been a great thriller but the sequences look scattered and has no logical graph in the events depicted. How the blast was planned and executed is completely written in haste. The characters are also not fleshed out properly and they end up looking like mindless caricatures. The pace is also an issue; it has a lazy demeanour to the pace. Some shocking facts have been highlighted like the cancer train or the reverse boring etc, but a weak narration loosens its impact. The climax looks too amateurish to be true. Overall the script is only able to scratch the surface of the issue, unlike “Udta Punjab” where the issue was researched and presented well. Somehow it is the dialogues which are so well written that it somewhere redeems the bad writing. But the overall script fails miserably.

“Irada” has an impressive cast and their performances do not disappoint. Naseeruddin Shah as Pramjeet Walia does a brilliant job with all earnestness. Arshad Warsi as the NIA Officer Arjun Mishra yet again proves that he is a brilliant actor but it is teh movies that fail him. He is definitely an underutilized actor who has been ignored by Bollywood. Divya Dutta as the CM does her first negative character with brilliance and her cold demeanour gives her character the depth required. Sagarika Ghatge as Maya is good but she gets overshadowed being surrounded by such brilliant actors. Sharad Kelkar as the shrewd businessman Paddy is excellent, another actor who trying to make his mark slowly and steadily. Rajesh Sharma as Jeetu the GM of the company yet again gives a brilliant performance, but I feel somewhere Rajesh is getting type cast in the roles that he is doing, he needs to do some different roles as well. Rumona Molla as Riya has a brief role but she successfully portrays her character with near perfection and could stand up to the stature of Naseeruddin Shah with whom she had all her scenes. It is the performances which redeems the movie to an extent.

Debutant director Aparnaa Singh takes a topical subject and a brilliant cast but fails in execution which hampers the movie completely. I would say Aparnaa loses a brilliant opportunity in creating a riveting cinema, due to its faulty script.

“Irada” fails to live up to its expectation but the performances save the day to an extent; I will go with Two and a Half Stars…

Movie Rating: (2.5 / 5)

 

Movie Review: Jolly LLB 2

Jolly LLB 2: Right Mix of Realistic & Commercial Cinema

“Jolly LLB” released in 2013, set a trend for court room drama genre. Based on the real life incident of hit and run, the movie was a commercial and critical success.

“Jolly LLB 2” is a sequel of the same, but with an absolutely new story of police fake encounters which are rampant nowadays. The story shifts to Lucknow for the sequel, and tells the story of yet another lawyer Jagdishwar Prasad Mishra a.k.a Jolly (Akshay Kumar) who though a LLB, but works as a Man Friday for the renowned lawyer Rizvi (Ram Gopal Bajaj), doing odd jobs for him. In course of things Jolly comes across Hina (Sayani Gupta) who is struggling to get a lawyer for her husband’s fake encounter case and she wants Rizvi to fight the same. Jolly gives false promises to convince Rizvi to fight her case and takes money from her. On knowing that she has been duped by Jolly, Hina commits suicide. All hell breaks loose on Jolly, whether he redeems himself as a lawyer and a human being is what the rest of the movie is all about.

Written by the director Subhash Kapoor himself, the story is engaging and the screenplay fast paced. Subhash definitely has studied the law practice very closely, as he gets the nuances of law and its practice absolutely bang on. One the biggest plus for the script are its well defined characters. Each character no matter how small it is has been included for a reason. Another plus is the pace of the movie; it does not have any dull moment and keeps you glued on till the end with twist and turns thrown in to pep up the narration. What Subhash gets absolutely right from his writing is the emotional quotient, it is neither too overpowering with melodrama, neither it is too subtle for a commercial movie; the balance is absolutely in right proportion. The script has the right mix of realistic and commercial cinema. Though I thought the movie could have been concluded with more finesse, as there are a few loose ends which are not addressed. Another dampener is the songs which slows the pace a bit. The dialogues also are apt as per the narration.

jolly-llb-2-Movie-Review

With a good script it is absolutely essential to compliment it with strong performances, and “Jolly LLB 2” does not disappoint, rather it fares with flying colours. Akshay Kumar who played Jagdishwar Prasad Mishra, gets his act bang on from the first frame, his dialect his body language suits the character to the T. Akshay Kumar yet again proves that as an actor he has grown tremendously and his endeavour for doing good impactful roles has paid off. Annu Kapoor as lawyer Sachin Kantilal Mathur, gives a crackling and memorable performance. I would request Annu Kapoor to do more movies so that we can see the glimpse of his brilliance. Saurabh Shukla reprises his role from the prequel as Justice Sunderlal Tripathi, and yet again gives an impactful performance justifying his National Award for the prequel. Another performance which stands out though being a small role is of Sayani Gupta’s portrayal of Hina Siddiqui, her portrayal consolidates the narration and her presence is felt even when her role is over. Kumud Mishra who plays the cunning and shrewd Inspector Suryaveer Singh, does justice to his character of an antagonist. Huma Qureshi as Pushpa, Jolly’s wife does well, though her character does not create any impact on the narration. Rest of the cast comprising of Vinod Nagpal, Vishwa Mohan Badola, Manav Kaul, Ram Gopal Bajaj, Sanjay Mishra, Gurpal Singh and Brijendra Kala do an excellent job.

Subhash Kapoor proves that the success of “Jolly LLB” was not a fluke and that content is the king. Subhash not does an exemplary job as a writer but also as a director for extracting some brilliant performances from the cast. Though “Jolly LLB 2” may not be a movie with technical finesse, but overall Subhash has a winner, which will impress the classes and the masses alike.

Music of “Jolly LLB 2” is nothing to write home about. Editing by Chandrashekhar Prajapati needs a special mention, as his razor sharp editing keeps the pace in check, though the songs could have been edited. Production design by Gautam Sen, keeps the aesthetics as realistic as possible, especially the court room set.

“Jolly LLB 2” pulls the right strings and eventually entertains as well as addresses some stark realities with ease… I will go with FOUR stars….

Movie Rating: (4 / 5)

12 Years Of Black

“Black” which released on 4th Feb 2005, has become an iconic movie for Bollywood..

Written by Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Bhavani Iyer, “Black” was loosely based on the English movie “The Miracle Worker” which released in 1962. It told the story of the bond and relationship of a deaf & dumb girl Michelle McNally (Rani Mukherjee) and her teacher Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan). Dialogues were written by Prakash Kapadia.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali thought of the idea of “Black” while preparing for his first movie “Khamoshi-The Musical” which released in 1996, but it was only after “Devdas” which released in 2002 that Sanjay actually went ahead with “Black”. It is said that Sanjay Leela Bhansali wanted to make “Bajirao Mastaani” after “Devdas” with the cast comprising of Salman Khan as Bajirao, Aishwarya Rai as Mastaani and Rani Mukherjee as Kashi Bai, but due to personal conflict between Salman and Aishwarya the movie was scrapped, so Sanjay decided to make a low budget quickie and that is how “Black” was made.

12 Years Of Black

 

The principal cast comprised of Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukehrjee, Ayesha Kapoor, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Shernaz Patel, Nandana Sen and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal. It is said that Rani Mukherjee was initially not very keen to play the role of Michelle as she was not very confident of doing justice to such a difficult role, but it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s belief in her that changed her mind and eventually she played the character of Michelle.

“Black” faced many hurdles during its production, one of the major setbacks was a fire which broke on the set of “Black” and destroyed the entire set erected in Film City. The production team had to re-create the sets from a scratch to resume the shoot. Another setback was during the outdoor at Shimla, for a particular sequence snow fall was to be depicted, but though the shooting was happening in January when it snows in Shimla, there was no snow falls that year. So to depict snow fall, snow making machines where used with sacks of salt which substituted for snow, but when you see the sequence you will not realize that it was fake snow. The major setback was when Sanjay did not get teh permission to shoot the indoor sequences in a vintage villa; hence a mammoth task was assigned to art director Omung Kumar to re-create the interiors of a pre-independence vintage villa in Film City, Mumbai.

“Black” was critical and a box office success, though being an unusual concept. Amitabh Bachchan was seen in a completely different avatar in the movie, far removed from his super star persona. “Black” fetched Amitabh Bachchan his second National Award for Best Actor, earlier he got his first National Award for Agneepath. Additionally Amitabh won all the major awards for Best Actor including Filmfare for that year. Since “Black” Amitabh has done some path breaking roles in Cheeni Kum,  Paa, Piku and Pink out of which Amitabh Bachchan has received National Awards for Paa & Piku.

“Black” catapulted Rani Mukherjee to the league of good actresses and also consolidated her position in Bollywood. She won all the major awards for “Best Actress” including the Filmfare Award for “Black”. Another actor who created a mark with “Black” was Ayesha Kapoor who played the kid Michelle. Ayesha received the Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actor Female category.

Ravi K Chandran will be remembered for his brilliant cinematography of “Black”. He swept all the awards for Best Cinematography for that year including a Filmfare award.

“Black” won 11 Filmfare awards, making “Black” the movie which has received the maximum no. of Filmfare Awards till date.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali who is famous for his music and extravagant song sequences, surprisingly did not have a single song in Black, but still it captured the hearts of the audience till today.

“Black” I think is the best movie that Sanjay Leela Bhansali made till date. The movie had the correct emotional content which was shot with technical finesse and the performance from the entire cast was just magical.

“Black” is and will remain a cult classic for Indian Film Industry, and it is one of the “Must Watch” movies of Bollywood…

Watch the movie trailer of “Black”

Official Trailer: Phillauri

Anushka Sharma after her debut as a producer for critically acclaimed “NH10” in 2015 comes up with “Phillauri” this year.

Written by Anvita Dutt, “Phillauri” tells the story of a friendly ghost Shashi played by Anushka Sharma and who creates havoc in marriage ceremony with her presence. The movie deals with who is Shashi and where has she come from..

Phillauri-Official-Trailer

The principal cast of “Phillauri” comprises of Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh, Suraj Sharma of “Life of a Pie” fame who debuts in Bollywood with this movie and Mehreen Pirzada, an actress from south who also debuts with this movie.

 

The music composed by Jasleen Royal & Diljit Dosanjh, is a combination of Punjabi folk and modern songs..

“Phillauri” has been produced by Anushka Sharma’s production company Clean Slate Films in collaboration with Fox Star Studios.

Looking at the trailer the movie looks a good mix of comedy and emotion with quirky twist.

After assisting in many successful movies like Pyar ke Side Effects, Chak De India, Dostana and Housefull, Anshai Lal debuts as a director with “Phillauri”…

“Phillauri” releases on 24th March 2017 till then enjoy the Official Trailer…