Movie Review: Neerja

Neerja: A befitting tribute to brave heart Neerja Bhanot

Neerja Movie ReviewMovies based on real life incidents are very difficult to make as the people are aware of most of the facts and to top it all are aware of the outcome in such a scenario it is a challenge for the director and the writers to weave in a screenplay which keeps the audience glued till the end….

“Neerja” is based on the PAN AM plane highjack incident of 1986 in Karachi where the flight purser Neerja Bhanot saved the lives of 329 passengers from the Palestine terrorists. Neerja (Sonam Kapoor) a senior purser of PAN AM and a part time model boards PAN AM Flight 73 on 5th September 1986 to New York via Karachi and Frankfurt. When the flight lands in Karachi early morning 5th Sept’86 it is high jacked by Palestine terrorists, who had a plan to fly the plane to Cyprus and force the Government to free the Palestine terrorists who have been jailed. But their plan hits a road block when the pilot crew of the flight escape from the cock pit. The passengers and the rest of the crew are stranded with the terrorists in the flight not knowing what will happen. How Neerja with her intelligence and bravery is successful in saving the lives of the passengers forms the crux of the story.

One of the biggest highlight of the movie is its story and screenplay by Saiwyn Quadras. The screenplay captures the string of events in a thriller format keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Saiwyn beautifully weaves in back story of Neerja Bhanot’s failed marriage in the screenplay. Where the screenplay scores the highest is its characterization, whether it Neerja Bhanot’s characterization or her mother’s Rama Bhanot’s characterization or her father Harish Bhanot, even the terrorists, every character has been written with utmost precision which eventually elevates the narration. Another highlight of the screenplay is its pace which does not slow even for a moment but still it has the emotional quotient intact. The mother daughter track is the best track of the movie; it gives you the moments and also builds the tension. Saiwyn has been successful in maintaining the tension all throughout the movie without making it melodramatic and keeping it as realistic as possible. Though I felt a back story of why the terrorists high jacked the plane would have been put an extra edge to the narration, but overall the screenplay is the winner….

Dialogues by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh are real and believable without any melodrama or any discourses on patriotism or bravery. To keep it realistic the dialogues of the terrorists have been kept in their native language with sub titles without trying to explain in Hindi which does not hamper the narration. The best dialogue off course is in the climax which gives the last bit of finishing touch to the story of a brave heart Neerja Bhanot…..

Second highlight of the movie are its performances, Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot makes it her own and gives a crackling performance, frankly her best till date. To be honest I had written off the movie even before watching “Neerja” as I thought that Sonam Kapoor was a wrong choice for the movie, but I am happy to say that I was wrong. But the best performance has been of Shabana Azmi as Neerja’s mother Rama Bhanot, she underplays her character as a house wife in the beginning but slowly and steadily displays the strength of a tough woman as the movie progresses. Shabana Azmi kills it in the climax with her performance and ends the movie on a high. Yogendra Tikku as Neerja’s father Harish Bhanot also does a brilliant job of a supportive father. Music composer Shekhar Ravjiani debuts in a cameo of Neerja’s lover Jaideep, and he shines in the cameo though there was not much to be done. Jim Sarbh as the hot tempered terrorist Khalil is the most impactful performance of the movie. Jim’s portrayal exudes tension in the narration and the unpredictable streak kept the audience guessing. Rest of the cast also does a commendable job making the movie worth a watch…

Third highlight of the movie is the back ground score by Vishal Khurana which enhanced the tension of the narration. Vishal did not make it jarring or overpowering the sequences, but blended with the narration….

Fourth highlight of the movie it is production design by Aparna Sud and Anna Ipe, recreating the PAN AM flight to Karachi Airport to a middle class house everything is done with precision and with eye on details. Especially the PAN AM flight, no where will you feel that it is a set….

Ram Madhwani  in his first Hindi and second movie as a director (his first movie was the highly acclaimed Boman Irani starrer “Let’s Talk” in 2002) showcases his genius well. Right from the research for the story to extracting brilliant performances from the cast, especially Sonam Kapoor to an engaging narration, Ram has hit the bull’s eye. He really has proved that he is director to watch out for and you do not need to be melodramatic to show bravery or patriotism, it can be subtly done with realism and yet can create an impact….

A movie NOT TO be missed and worth a watch I will go with 4 stars….

Movie Rating: (4 / 5)

Movie Review: Jazbaa

Jazbaa: Not too much of Jazbaat…. but only style

JazbaaSanjay Gupta, the name is synonym of movies which are remake of Hollywood and loads of style with a larger than life canvas but less of substance. The two movies which had both style and substance were “Kaante” (2002) & “Zinda” (2006)….

Sanjay Gupta is back with a remake of a Korean movie “Seven Days” for Aishwarya Rai’s comeback vehicle. Aishwaraya is in all the frames of the movie and not for a moment do you forget that this is Ash’s comeback movie. The plot tells the story of Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai) a famous criminal lawyer who has never lost a case and a single mother of a daughter Sanaya (Child actor Sara Arjun). Things take an unexpected turn when her daughter is kidnapped and the kidnapper asks for an unusual ransom by asking Anuradha to fight for the criminal Miyaaz Shaikh (Chandan Roy Sanyal) who has been convicted of rape and murder of a girl Sia and set him free. Is Anuradha able to fulfill the ransom asked and whether she gets back her daughter is what the movie is all about….

The story inspired by the Korean movie, has a screenplay written by Sanjay Gupta himself and Robin Bhatt. On the onset the biggest flaw of the script is its pace which is inconsistent for a thriller, as it lacks edge of the seat moments. Though the screenplay has a lot of twists and turns but none make a mark, except the one in the climax. Another flaw of the screenplay is its loopholes which are disaster for a thriller, like the movie never really concludes as to how the girl was really murdered, or how the kidnappers kept a watch on Anuradha Verma, many such loose ends are kept unresolved. The one thing which could have been the biggest highlight of the movie could have been the court scenes, but the weak writing does not create any impact. Overall the script falters and the concept which could have been a good thriller is wasted.

Though I must say Kamlesh Pandey’s dialogues saves the day to some extent, especially for Yohan’s  (Irrfan Khan) character for which Kamlesh gives Seeti Mar dialogues…

I must say Sanjay Gupta managed to get a crackling cast for the movie and almost everybody did a good job except for the leading lady Aishwarya Rai. Aishwarya’s portrayal of Anuradha Verma is quite inconsistent. On one side Aishwarya had to play a tough lawyer and on the other side she had to play a loving mother, must say an author backed role, but while playing the tough lawyer she comes out as too stiff and for showing the loving mother side she is too melodramatic, hence she completely fails to strike a balance. Irrfan Khan as Inspector Yohan gives a crackling performance in style, what with all the seeti maar dialogues are given to him, but he does complete justice to his new avatar of a typical Bollywood hero. Shabana Azmi as Professor Garima Chaoudhary, the victim’s mother as usual gives a strong performance which was expected from her character. Jackie Shroff as the politician is wasted and he does not have much to do. Other actors like Atul Kulkarni, Chandan Roy Sanyal & Sidharth Kapoor are wasted in small roles which are not too well defined….

One thing which stands out in every Sanjay Gupta movie is the stylized camera work, and even in “Jazbaa” he does not disappoint us, Sameer Arya’s stylized camera work with a green hue captures Mumbai as never before, really a splendid job by Sameer Arya…

Another highlight of any Sanjay Gupta movie is its music, though “Jazbaa” did not have too much of scope for song and dance, but somehow Sanjay created a few brief moments in the movie and the most impressive being the ghazal “Jane tere Shehar ka”…..but the rest just do not gel with the narration…

Sanjay Gupta does not disappoint us on the style quotient, but as in most of the Sanjay Gupta movies style overtakes the content, the same can be said about “Jazbaa”. Though he is successful in extracting some good performances by the support cast and Irrfan Khan but he fails miserably in extracting a crackling performance by the leading lady Aishwarya Rai. Sanjay also fails to create the chemistry between Aishwarya & Irrfan, and the pairing just comes out as too “Thanda”…..

“Jazbaa” is an opportunity lost by Sanjay Gupta and definitely a weak come back movie for Aishwarya….I will go with Two & a Half Stars….

Movie Rating: (2.5 / 5)

Review : Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children: A Rich Dish with all the ingredients but with an average taste


On the onset I salute Deepa Mehta for taking the risk of adapting a complex novel of Salman Rushdie “Midnight’s Children” into a movie.

The story spans from 1917 Kashmir to 1977 Mumbai, and tells the story of two children one born to a rich family and other to a poor family on the Midnight’s Childrenstroke of midnight of 15th Aug 1947, when India got independence. How their destiny changes after they are swapped, the son of the rich is swapped with the son of the poor forms the crux of the story.

Though the story starts long before the kids are born in Kashmir 1917 with a doctor Azam Aziz (Rajat Kapoor) and how he gets married to Naseem (Shabana Azmi) and has three daughters Mumtaz (Shahana Goswami), Emerald (Anita Majumdar) & Alia (Shikha Talsania). The story progresses with Naseem who gets married to Ahmed Shinai (Ronit Roy) and then gives birth to a son who is swapped by a son of the poor Saleem (Darsheel Safary/Satya Bhabha) and her son Shiva (Sidharth) by Mary (Seema Biswas). The destiny changes for Saleem who is bought up in a rich family and Shiva who is brought up by a street singer. How they grow up and go through ups & downs of life constitutes the rest of the story.

The screenplay by Salman Rushdie himself is the biggest hindrance, Rushdie struggles to put his renowned novel in a 2 and a half hour script. The main drawback is the pace which is slow at times, but it has its moments like the sequence when Emergency is called by PM Indira Gandhi, or when the kid Saleem realizes that he has gift of connecting with all the children who were born at the same time as him or Saleem’s interaction with his father or his nanny Mary, all these become the highlight of the otherwise slow movie.

Deepa Mehta has captured each era with minutest details with Production Designer Dilip Mehta, Costume designer Dolly Ahluwalia and cinematographer Giles Nuttgens. Actually the Production Design, Costume Design & Cinematography are the biggest highlights of the movie.

Performances by the ensemble cast starting from Rajat Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shahana Goswami, Ronit Roy, Seema Biswas, Rahul Bose, Soha Ali Khan, Sidharth, Shriya Saran, Darsheel Safary and rest of the supporting cast do an exemplary job, but Satya Bhabha who plays the main protagonist the older Saleem in the movie does not come out as strong as the supporting cast.

Music by Sidharth Mahadevan blends with the mood of the movie. But where Deepa lags is the slow screenplay & Satya Bhbha’s performance..

Overall a Midnight’s Children is a rich dish with an average taste, I will go with TWO & A HALF STARS