Movie Review: Banjo

Banjo:  Music which could have been Better

banjo-movie

Banjo Movie Review

Ravi Jadhav after his successful stint in Marathi films with Natrang, Balgandharva, Balak Palak, Timepass & Timepass 2, debuts in Bollywood with “Banjo”. Such a high profile director the expectations of “Banjo” automatically go sky high….

“Banjo” tells the story of 4 guys from the slum Tarrat (Ritesh Deshmukh), who works for the local politican as an extortionist, but his heart  is in playing the Banjo, Grease (Dharmesh) a local mechanic but his heart is in playing the drum, Paper a local newspaper wala who plays the Dhol and the other guy who plays the tasha, they have a small band and they play in local Ganpati, Navratri or marriage party, till they are discovered by Luke (Luke Kenny) who records one of their performance and send it to his friend Chris (Nargis Fakhri) in New York. She gets so impressed with the music that she decides to come to Mumbai and search for the group and record two singles for a international Contest…Is Chris able to find the group and whether her dream gets fulfilled is what the movie is all about…

Written by Ravi Jadhav himself along with Kapil Sawant & Nikhil Mehrotra, the story and screenplay is an amalgamation of too many sub plots which has no bearing with the main story, and that is the problem as the movie takes the entire first half to set up the story and the second half drags on unnecessary melodrama. The intrinsic problem with the writing is that it is flat throughout and it never peaks neither in pace nor in emotional quotient. The sub plots hamper the pace and the weak characterization and low EQ makes the movie too boring. The characters other than the principal 4 characters which are still well written, rest are too flat without any depth. Sometimes you feel that the comedy has been an afterthought. The dialogues do not help as well, other than the tapori lingo other dialogues sound too banal. Where the writing scores is capturing the struggle and tribulation of the slum dwellers with humour…

Ritesh Deshmukh time and again has tried to prove that he is just not an actor who is good at comedy but as a serious actor he has potential, what with Naach, Ek Villain and Lai Bhaari previously; in “Banjo” he tries again and comes out in flying colours with his sincere performance of Tarrat. Dharmesh Yelande as Grease again proves that he is not only a good dancer but a good actor as well, but somewhere he is getting type cast in a tapori character. Other two actors who played Paper and the Tasha player, unfortunately nothing has been written about them, but they also do a good job. Nargis Fakhri as usual adds the glamour quotient but surprisingly she shows some acting chops in playing the character Chris, but I feel still she needs to go along way. Luke Kenny as the firang music arranger does a good job, good to see him after a long hiatus, we saw him last in “Rock On”. Mohan Kapoor as the club owner Nair does what he does well, mouthing hindi in English accent and somehow his swagger suits the role for a change.

“Banjo” which is based on music, hence we expected some good music what with Vishal Shekhar at the helm, but sadly other than 2 songs “Bappa” and the breezy “Udan Choo” other songs are more of cacophony, even the lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya is average.

Manoj Lobo’s camera work is the most impressive; the contrast of the slum vis-a-vis the high rise buildings is very well captured…

As I mentioned earlier “Banjo” being Raj Jadhav’s debut in Bollywood my expectations were high, but he disappoints, and that to in a department which has been his strength in his previous movies, the wrting. Story & Screenplay falls flat from the word go. Though I must mention that Raj captures the spirit of slum very well and quite realistically but in the bargain fails to tell an impactful story. But I have not lost hope and will await Raj Jadhav’s next Bollywood offering..

“Banjo” had a brilliant idea but somewhere the execution on paper as well as on the Big screen lacked the punch…I will go with Two and a Half stars….

Movie Rating: (2.5 / 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 : Nil Battey Sannata

Nil Battey Sannata : Passed with distinction….

Some movies entertain you and you tend to forget them, but some movies are very simple but yet they  entertain you but also tend remain in your mind long after the movie gets over…”Nil Battey Sannata” is one such movie.

The story of “Nil Battey Sannata” captures the trials and tribulations of a mother who has high expectations and big dreams for her daughter. It also captures the strata of the society who need to earn on a daily basis to run their kitchens, our domestic help… Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) is one such domestic help in a small city of Agra who dreams to educate her daughter Apeksha a.k.a Apu (Ria Shukla) and has big dreams for her for which he works in two to three places in shifts in order to educate and give her daughter a different life so that her daughter does not end up becoming a domestic help….But her adolescent daughter lives a care free life devoid of any dreams and is a complete zero in maths… so Chanda’s main concern is to make her pass the 10th Board exam, whether Chanda is able to fulfil her dream of making her daughter pass the 10th Board exam is what the movie is all about…

In the last few reviews I have been emphasizing on the strength of a good script and screenplay and “Nil Battey Sannata” scores full marks for nil-battey-sannata-reviewthe same… The story by Nitesh Tiwari  & screenplay written by Nitesh Tiwari, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Pranjal Choudhary & Neeraj Singh is the biggest highlight of the movie….The relationship of the mother & the daughter is so heart wrenching that you would identify the sweet & sour relationship that we share with our mothers… every single sequence between the mother and daughter is brilliant… another relationship well explored is Chanda’s relationship with Dr Diwan where she works as a domestic help, the bond and relationship between these two characters is believable. To be very frank every character has its special place in the movie whether it is the principal or Apu’s friends, every character is very well written and justifies their presence in the story. Well it may not be too much to say that the writing is one the best which I have come across after a long time, the last such script was of “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”…

The dialogues written by the same team of writers is another highlight of the movie. It complements the script to the fullest. The diction, the language every word is spot on and you cannot find any blemishes in the dialogues as well. Overall the writing is just brilliant…

After writing it is the performances that makes “Nil Battey Sannata” worth a watch…especially the performance of Swara Bhaskar who plays the main protagonist Chanda, a domestic help…Swara just becomes Chanda and I don’t think so there can be any bigger appreciation for her performance. She owns the character and never ever will you feel the Swara Bhaskar of “Tanu Weds Manu” or “Ranjhnaa” or “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo”…she is so natural and everything about her portrayal is just brilliant. Swara would definitely be the favourite contender for awards for this year. Next is debutant Ria Shukla who plays Chanda’s daughter Apu, she complements Swara’s performance with equal vigour and helps to create the right chemistry between the character of the mother and the daughter, definitely another brilliant performance. Ratna Pathak Shah as Dr Diwan, Chanda’s employer, is just amazing, the way she underplays the character becomes the beauty of portrayal and the chemistry of both the characters is full marks to Swara Bhaskar and Ratna Pathak Shah….Another brilliant performance is of Pankaj Tripathi who plays the Principal and the maths teacher of the school, Pankaj yet again proves his brilliance with his realistic portrayal, definitely a actor watch out for….rest of the cast also do a brilliant job….Sanjay Suri in a cameo is adorable….

Cinematography by Gavemic U Ary blends brilliantly with the narration and the beauty is how simply Agra and it’s by lanes having been captured….

The next highlight is the production design by Laxmi Kaluskar, which is so brilliant that you would never feel that it is a movie set….and the another highlight is its costume design by Sachin Lovalekar, the costumes builds the characters and Sachin does a brilliant job in getting the looks of the characters just right…

Will have to mention casting director Mukesh Chabra, who gets the casting, right….

At last and definitely not the least, the director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, first kudos to her for choosing such a topic and second executing such a brilliant script, co-written by her, in a simple yet beautiful way. Ashwiny gets the chemistry of the characters bang on and she gets the emotional quotient just right without any melodrama. Will definitely watch out for Ashwiny’s next….

“Nil Battey Sannata”, is simple yet will pull your heart strings and will make you laugh and cry and at the end will put a smile on your face…will go with FOUR stars….

Movie Rating: (4 / 5)

Ki and Ka: Movie Review

Ki & Ka: Has the Spice but still remains bland…

Ki_and_Ka_Movie_ReviewBeing different is R Balki’s forte, and “Ki & Ka” is no different. It tells us of role reversal of genders in Indian Society. Abroad house husbands are quite common, but not in India, hence a movie on house husband is a novel idea for India….

R Balki tells us the story of Kia and Kabir. Kia (Kareena Kapoor) is a high flying marketing manager who meets Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) son of a reputed builder, in a flight and subsequently they fall in love and get married..But they were a different couple, where Kabir took the responsibility of taking care of the household chores and Kia took the responsibility of being the bread earner. The movie chronicles whether the love of Kia (Ki) and Kabir (Ka) remain intact in a role reversal of sorts in a society where a “Man” is supposed to be the bread earner and the “Woman” to be the support for the “Man”…

Story & Screenplay by R Balki has a new age feel, and depicts the characters accordingly whether it is Kia’s character of a high flying corporate executive who is ambitious and a go getter or Kabir who is today’s youth who does not have any qualms of adapting to the responsibilities of a house maker or Kia’s mothers character a modern day woman who is comfortable of his daughter being an ambitious go getter and her son-in-law being the house maker. Though the characters are extremely well etched but where the writing fails is its screenplay, Balki fails to create an interesting premise for these extremely strong characters. The screenplay is flat throughout the movie not peaking even once. Rather the screenplay looks like a collaborations of incidents in the couple’s life and their tiffs which does not add any meat to the screenplay. There is not a single scene which stands out from cinematic stand point. Overall the screenplay pulls down the film, and the concept loses its inherent novelty….

It is the dialogue which tries pull up the screenplay a bit through its witty and extremely realistic lingo. The dialogues are believable and blend well with the modern theme…especially all the dialogues pertaining to gender equality and relationship sound extremely natural and realistic, something which today’s viewers would connect to…

The biggest highlight of the movie is its crackling performances by the ensemble cast. Starting with Kareena Kapoor who plays the ever ambitious Kia, well it is good to see a remarkable performance from her after a long time. Kareena again proves her mettle with her portrayal of Kia; she keeps the complexity of the character subtle which brings the freshness in her performance. Arjun Kapoor as Kabir is the scene stellar; his portrayal is effortless and makes the character endearing and lovable through his performance. Arjun shows that he can portray a sensitive character even with his rugged look. But one thing that stands out is the apt chemistry of Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor, I just hope that someone should repeat the pair in a matured love story. It was a delight to see Swaroop Sampat after a long hiatus, and mind you she does not disappoint at all, rather she adds the panache to the movie. Swaroop Sampat’s performance is effortless and brings the necessary balance between the two principal characters beautifully; I hope film makers should cast her more often now. Rajit Kapoor as the Kabir’s businessman father has a small role but he shines with his portrayal of high handed businessman who disapproves his son’s approach to life. The cameo by Amitabh Bachchan & Jaya Bachchan is the biggest highlight of the movie, the banter between Jaya and Amitabh was cute, especially Amitabh’s sulking act won our hearts over. Rest of the support cast does not disappoint as well…

P C Sreeram yet again gives us brilliant cinematic visuals through his excellent camera work. Though with this movie which was shot substantially indoors the cinematographer had absolutely no scope to show his talent, but not with P C, he captures the love and chemistry with absolute élan…

Production Design by Rupin Suchak is innovative, especially the flat of the couple which looks like a railway station….something different from the usual home settings….

Music has never been a strong point in Balki’s movies, so is “Ki & Ka”…. Other than “High Heels” which is the revamped version of Yo Yo Honey Singh’s runaway hit and to some extent “Ji Hazoori” by Mithoon, other tracks are easily forgettable…

Just having a good concept does not suffice for a Good movie but it needs to be backed by a equally brilliant writing which unfortunately is the biggest flaw in R Balki’s screenplay, which is flat throughout the movie…But where Balki scores his getting some brilliant performances from the lead pair and other cast, something which he has been doing brilliantly in his previous movies as well. But Balki’s writing which was brilliant in “Cheeni Kum” and “Paa” was unfortunately seen missing in “Shamitabh” and in “Ki & Ka”, but knowing Balki we are sure he will bounce back with an excellent story again… till then give me “Paa” or “Cheeni Kum” anyday….

For its novel idea and brilliant performances I will give “Ki & Ka”….3 stars…

Movie Rating: (3 / 5)

 

Movie Review: Aligarh

Aligarh: Manoj Bajpai all the way…

Till now Homosexuality or gay characters are shown as caricatures in Bollywood, and gay jokes are used more for comic situations and shown in bad light.

Well “Aligarh” changes it once and for all, Hansal Mehta has taken special care in handling a sensitive subject and done a commendable job. “Aligarh” is based on the true events of Dr. Srinivas Ramchandra Siras, a professor and HOD of Department of Modern Indian Languages in Aligarh University. On 8th Feb 2010 two strangers from local news channel of Aligarh barged into Dr Siras’s (Manoj Bajpai) house and made a video of Dr Siras and a rickshaw puller in a compromising position. On 9th Feb 2010, Dr Siras is suspended from Aligarh University for misconduct. A journalist Deepu Sebastian (Rajkumar Rao) after reading this meets Dr Siras and writes the true story of Dr Siras and raises questions on Aligarh University’s suspension of Dr Siras. The article gets people’s attention and an NGO decides to fight the case of Dr Siras against Aligarh University. Dr Siras wins the case on 1st April, 2010 but is found dead in mysterious circumstances on 7th April 2010….aligarh-movie-review

Story written by Ishani Banerjee explores the events Dr Siras from 8th Feb’2010 and chronicles the events there after with utmost sensitivity and care. Her writing is less judgemental and more factual which raises pertinent questions on Sec 377 and right of an individual to choose his/her sexual preference and whether an individual should be victimised for his sexual orientation. The beauty of Ishani’s writing is its characterization, especially of Dr Siras which tries to explore the real Dr Siras and his pathos…

Screenplay by Apurva Asrani takes a step further with narration of the events on screen. But the pace is an issue, which oscillates from being extremely slow to abrupt. The court case is shown more as a background and ends abruptly, I felt some more screen time should have been given to the court proceedings. The other flaw in the screenplay is the relationship of Deepu and Dr Siras was not explored to the fullest. Otherwise the writing does complete justice to the subject and handles it sensitively….

It is Manoj Bajpai who owns the movie and does a spectacular job of Dr Siras, from his demeanour to his body language to way he speaks, everything is spot on. Manoj speaks a thousand words through his eyes. All the pathos and loneliness is depicted brilliantly by Manoj through his eyes, actually you start feeling his pain that is how brilliant he is. Rajkumar Rao as the journalist Deepu Sebastian complements Manoj’s performance with his carefree portrayal of a rookie journalist. Ashish Vidyarthi as the lawyer Ashish Grover makes an impact with his no nonsense portrayal; rather it is good to see Ashish back in Bollywood. The rest of the cast also does a brilliant job…

For a movie to succeed in connecting with the audience it is essential to have the right ensemble cast and I must mention Mukesh Chabra the casting director for getting it RIGHT as far as the casting is concerned for “Aligarh”.

Cinematography of Satya Rai Nagpaul captures the mood perfectly and blends with the narration. Production design by Indranil Chowdhury is apt and you feel as if the movie has been shot in the real locations. Pia Benegal’s costume design gives the right texture to the characters…

Hansal Mehta yet again proves that he is a pro in handling sensitive subjects with élan. The sensitivity in the subject is dealt; it is beyond doubt the best movie on homosexuality. And his combination with Manoj Bajpai definitely a Director actor combo to look out for in the future…

I will go with Three & a Half stars….

Movie Rating: (3.5 / 5)

 

Official Trailer: Ki & Ka

Ki_and_Ka_Official_TrailerTrust R Balki to come up with something extremely different right from his first movie “Cheeni Kum” (2007), Paa (2009), Shamitabh (2015) and now “Ki & Ka”….

“Ki & Ka” as the name sounds different so is the plot wherein Kia (Kareena Kapoor) and Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) our quintessential urban modern couple do a role reversal, where Kabir decides to be the house husband and Kia decides to be the career woman who will take care of house hold expenses. So will our Indian society accept this unusual couple is what the movie is all about….R Balki himself has written the script….

R Balki has taken an unusual pairing of Kareena Kapoor & Arjun Kapoor and the rest of the cast comprises of Swaroop Sampat (making a comeback), Rajit Kapoor and Amiabh Bachchan & Jaya Bachchan in a cameo….well quite an interesting cast I must say…

R Balki again teams up with P C Sreeram for cinematography and for music he again teams up with Illaiyaraja, but to give a contemporary sound Balki has also used Mithoon and Meet Bros Anjan to score the music for Ki & Ka…

The movie has been produced by R Balki, Sunil Lulla, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala & R K Damani….under Hope Productions and distributed by Eros International….

The movie releases on “Fools Day”, 1st April’16….till then enjoy the Official Trailer…..

Review : English Vinglish

Good Movie Shuvie, GR8 Performance Sherformance

“English Vinglish” Sridevi’s most awaited come back film wherein she again proves why English Vinglishshe is thenumero Uno of Bollywood. She creates an impact & how.

“English Vinglish” is a story of a simple house wife Shashi Godbole (Sridevi) whose life surrounds aroundher husband Satish (Adil Hussain) and kids (Navita Kotia & Shivansh Kotia). She runs a small business ofmaking Ladoo’s, but her not knowing English creates a gap between her husband and kids. Her daughteris embarrassed to take her to her school’s Parent Teacher meeting, her husband keeps on making fun ofher that she was born to make ladoos. This makes Shashi go into her shell, she comes to her own onlywhen she is interacting with her son Sagar. Everything changes for her when she goes to New York toattend her niece’s wedding and enrolls herself in a 4 week English Learning Course. How Shashi re-gainsher confidence and comes to her own, forms the rest of the story.

The Story by Gaurie Shinde is simple but the screenplay is mind blowing, there are small moments in themovie which takes the movie to the next level like when Shashi goes to her daughter’s Parent TeacherMeeting, her interview at the Visa Office, when Shashi goes to a coffee shop in New York, when she callsher husband from New York to tell that she is an Entrepreneur, Shashi’s interaction with her classmateLaurent, the climax speech and many more brilliantly written moments which builds Shashi’s characterfrom a not so confident house wife to a confident entrepreneur. Gaurie has done a splendid job. All thecharacters are so real that it connects, like Shashi’s character can be any Indian housewife who is takenfor granted. The dialogues add the zing to the scenes. The only flaw is that the pace slows down in thesecond half, but does it affect the overall impact….

No, absolutely not, please applaud Sridevi for her impeccable performance which binds the screenplayall throughout. She is brilliant and the impact that she makes proves that she was aptly called the ladyBachchan. Rest of the cast Adil Hussain as Shashi’s husband, Navita Kotia & Shivansh Kotia as Shashi’skids, Priya Anand as Shashi’s niece, Sujata Kumar as Shashi’s sister, Cory Hibbs as her teacher and herclassmates are brilliant, especially Mehdi Naebbou as Laurent is stands apart with his sensitive portrayal.Surprise Amitabh Bachchan cameo is watch out for…

Music by Amit Trivedi compliments the movie, Editing by Hemanti Sarkar is crisp though it could havebeen a bit tighter, Cinematography by Laxman Utekar captures the mood of the movie well.

In a nutshell “English Vinglish” is a Sridevi movie but kudos Gaurie for making a movie on a simple housewife….I give 4 stars….