Movie Review : Phantom

Phantom:  A Thriller I wish had more Punch

Political Thrillers are Kabir Khan’s forte, what with his previous movies “Kabul Express” & “Ek Tha Tiger” both phantom-poster-saif-ali-khan-katrina-kaifwere of the same genre. But his last enormously successful “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” was more of a family drama with Indo-Pak theme. Well the expectations from “Phantom” are sky high…

Taking his love for political thriller Kabir Khan constructs “Phantom” based on Hussain Zaidi’s book “Mumbai Avengers” which is a fiction post 26/11 massacre in Mumbai. The plot is of how an Ex Army Officer Daniel Khan (Saif Ali Khan) is called for a mission by RAW to eradicate the master minds of 26/11 massacre. How Daniel goes ahead with the mission and whether he is successful in completing the mission is what the movie all about.

Adopting Hussain Zaidi’s novel the screenplay by Kabir Khan & Parvez Shaikh is taut but inconsistent. The sequence when Daniel executes his mission one by one is technically brilliant but looks too easy to be true and lacks the edge of the seat moments which is the prime issue with the script. Another issue of the screenplay is that goes back & forth many times adding on to the inconsistency more. The prime sequences especially the Pakistan sequence looks all over place again taking away from the thriller element. The background story of Daniel does not have the impact hence the fallen hero element falls flat. Daniel’s accomplice Nawaz Mistry’s (Katrina Kaif) character is not fully defined till the end, whether she is a RAW agent or whether she is an outsourced resource working for RAW, it is not clear. The forced brewing romance between Daniel & Nawaz is a waste and slows down the pace. Even the climax looks a bit weak for a thriller. And to top it all the significance of the title “Phantom” never comes across in the movie.

The dialogues by Kabir Khan & Kausar Munir are strong at some places and it falls flat in a few. But overall the dialogues make sense.

Another major drawback of the movie is the casting. Saif Ali Khan as Daniel Khan looks a bit too casual for the role, though he tries his best to fit into the mould but is grossly unsuccessful. Rather he looks as if he has just walked out of “Agent Vinod” and entered the sets of “Phantom” as he enacts Daniel Khan with the same tempo. The rugged RAW agent gait just like Akshay Kumar in “Baby” is missed in this movie. Katrina Kaif as Nawaz Mistry looks hardly an agent and looks more like a beautiful Barbie doll who is decked up even in Syrian war sequences. Sometimes she looks confused and out of place in the movie, overall an average performance. Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as the Raw Chief Roy stands out and gives a restrained performance and suits the role to the “T”. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as Mishra a worker in RAW who creates a plan for Daniel is the best performance of the movie; he overshadows everybody including the lead cast. Rest of the cast does the job well.
It is Aseem Mishra’s cinematography which elevates the movie, whether it is London, Chicago, Beirut or Lebanon, all are captured with élan. Rajat Potdar’s production design compliments the story and is also a highlight of the movie. Subarna Rai Chaudhuri’s costume designing is another highlight; it blends with the various countries shown in the movie. Kudos to the technical team of “Phantom” for making it worth a watch.

Music by Pritam gets lost in the proceedings; apart from “Afghan Jalebi” none of the other tracks make any impact.

Kabir Khan is successful in making a technically brilliant movie, but a weak lead pair and a script which has inconsistencies makes “Phantom” an average film. Especially after the brilliant “Baby” by Neeraj Pandey which falls in the same genre, “Phantom” lacks the punch which is required in such thrillers.Definitely not Kabir Khan’s best…

“Phantom” could have been a brilliant spy drama falls short, hence I will go with Three stars…..

Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

In case you have missed the trailer, watch it again

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Flashback : Celebrating 40 years of Sholay

15th August 1975, became a Golden date for Indian Film Industry, the date when “Sholay” was released. The history of the Indian Film Industry cannot be complete without mentioning “Sholay”

“Sholay” a movie which not only became the biggest hit for the Indian Film Industry but also became a landmark movie since it had a lot of 40yearsSholayfirsts. It was the first 70 MM movie for Bollywood & it had a stereophonic sound which redefined the way movies were seen.

The biggest plus of the movie was the brilliant story & screenplay written by Salim-Javed which was inspired by Akiro Kurusawa’s 1954 movie “Seven Samurai”. Every character was written well and till today every character is remembered, right from Jai & Veeru to Gabbar to Sambha, who had only one sentence in the entire movie. The screenplay had a huge hangover of Hollywood westerns like “The Magnificent Seven” and “Once Upon A Time in the West”..

The impact of the screenplay was enhanced by crackling dialogues. The dialogues became so popular that later an audio cassette of the entire dialogues were launched, which were sold like hot cakes….creating a trend for dialogue cassettes for future…

Second highlight was the stellar ensemble cast comprising of Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri, Sanjeev Kumar, Amjad Khan, Asrani, Jagdeep, Sachin, A K Hangal, Keshto Mukherjee, Viju Khote, Satyen Kapoo, Leela Mishra & Mac Mohan.

A lot of musical chair happened for the casting. Danny Denzongappa was the first choice for playing Gabbar but due to date hassles as he had to leave for Afghanistan for his prior commitment of “Dharmatma” and had to excuse himself, after which a newcomer Amjad Khan was signed up for the role….who never looked back after “Sholay” ,as Amjad’s performance of Gabbar made the character an iconic villain. It is said that the original choice to play Thakur Baldev Singh was Pran, but it did not work out and later Sanjeev Kumar was signed up to play Thakur, a much older role for Sanjeev Kumar’s age at that time. Dharmendra was keen to play Thakur but settled for Veeru since he was paired opposite Hema Malini, whom he was wooing that time. Shatrughan Sinha was the original choice to play Jai, but Amitabh Bachchan who was not really a big star that time convinced the Sippy’s through the writers Salim-Javed and bagged the role.

G. P. Sippy the producer went all out to fulfill his son Ramesh Sippy’s dream into a blockbuster and was made with a budget of Rs. 30 million. All the action sequences were elaborately shot. The train robbery sequence took 7 weeks to be shot.

Ramesh Sippy had to re-shoot the climax, as per the original climax Thakur kills Gabbar, but the censors thought that the climax was too violent and hence Ramesh had to change the climax.

“Sholay” was panned by the critics and it was written off. Due to the negative feedback and lack of enough visual marketing “Sholay” was a flop in the first 2 weeks and after positive word of mouth, it picked up from the third week. After the third week it was no looking back for “Sholay”, it celebrated Golden Jubilees in 60 theatres across India, a record which still stands undefeated. It also celebrated Silver Jubilee in 100 theatres across India. Minerva Theater in Mumbai ran “Sholay” for 5 years, making it the longest running movie till “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” broke that record.

“Sholay” will always be remembered as the landmark movie which re-defined Bollywood. Even after 40 years the movie still creates an impact which was evident when it was re-released in 3D format on 3rd Jan’14, it was appreciated as it was in 1975….

“Sholay” will be remembered and appreciated by all generations…

Movie Review: All Is Well

All Is Well: All is NOT well about this movie

All is well posterThe 2012 hit “Oh My God”, was very different and questioned many religious beliefs which made Umesh Shukla a name to reckon with.

The expectations with “All Is Well”, Umesh’s second offering was high, though the movie has been in the making for a long time.

“All Is well” is a typical family drama of a dysfunctional family of Mr Bhalla (Rishi Kapoor), his son Inder Bhalla (Abhishek Bachchan) and Inder’s mother Pammi Bhalla (Supriya Pathak), situation forces the family to get scattered, and they come together for a family crisis created by the local goon Chima (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub). How they bond in the time of crisis and how they discover each other is what the story deals with.

The story by Umesh Shukla and screenplay by Sumit Arora & Niren Bhatt, starts with a promise which looks like a road movie of a family but fizzles out completely half hour into the movie. The humor is forced and you get a feeling that you are watching a movie from the 90’s, in short the humor looks quite dated. The reason between the rift between the Bhalla couple does not look very convincing, they are just shown fighting which happens in any couples lives. Inder’s character and his phobia of getting married looks quite meek. Almost all the characters look over the top, especially Cheema’s character the comic villain which was a trend in late 80’s and early 90’s, but unfortunately the villain becomes a joker. The whole sequence of the Mama and the Mami is unnecessary and does not create any impact rather than adding on to the buffoonery. All the characters of Nimmi (Asin) Inder’s girlfriend look like bunch of jokers which hardly make you laugh.

Another flaw in the writing are the dialogues which sound dated and even the comic dialogues are hardly few which make you laugh. Overall the writing of the movie right from the screenplay to the dialogues, it is a big disappointment, whereas it was the strongest point of Umesh Shukla’s previous movie “OMG”.

The movie lacks on the performance front as well. Abhishek Bachchan who is seen on screen after 3 years and who plays Inder Bhalla looks completely disinterested and acts with the same monotonous expression. Rishi Kapoor as Bhalla is tries very hard to give a convincing performance but the weak writing fails him, but yet full credit to him for giving an honest and sincere effort. Supriya Pathak as Pammi is completely wasted with hardly any dialogues and with the same expression throughout the movie. Asin as Nimmi is as irritating as she has been in her previous movies. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as Cheema is the only actor which is successful in making you laugh in a few sequences but he is also pulled down by the poor writing. Rest of the cast perform quite average. So the movie fails in the performance segment as well.

Other technical departments like art direction by Munish Sappel are very average, so is the cinematography by Sameer Arya which is extremely inconsistent and dated. The editing by Sanjay Sankla is not upto the mark…

Music has been given by a plethora of music director’s right from Himesh Reshammiya, Amaal Mallik, Mithoon & Meet Bros…but none of the songs create any impact though they are melodious since none of the songs are placed aptly…

Umesh Shukla fails badly though he had a stellar cast and a good production house backing him. It is absolutely below average attempt from a director who showed promise in his first venture.

Overall “All is Well” is neither a comedy nor a family drama and a below average movie, I will go with One & a Half Stars…..

Movie Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

Movie Review: Brothers

Brothers: Emotion & Blood Gore both over the top

Remakes have been a part of Bollywood history since long, rather now it is more of Official remakes. “Brothers” isBrothers Posters one such remake of 2013 Hollywood movie “Warrior”.

“Brothers” is a tale of two half brothers David Fernandes(Akshay Kumar) and Monty Fernandes(Sidharth Malhotra)who due to circumstances get separated only to come face to face as rivals in a Boxing competition.

With the original story of “Warrior” written by Gavin O’Connor & Cliff Dorfman, and adapted screenplay by Ekta Pathak Malhotra “Brothers” is dipped in emotions, especially in the first half when it tells the story of the two brothers David & Monty and their equation with their father Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff). Rather the first half is so much soaked in over the top emotion that you start feeling quite uncomfortable 30 minutes into the movie. In the name of emotions all the characters are shown either crying, yelling and shouting (call it emotional outburst) or breaking things which gets on to your nerves after a certain point. Each and every character is one dimensional whether it is the brothers or their father or David’s wife Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandes) without any depth or variation neither in their expression nor in their overall impact. The second half is completely dedicated to the boxing matches which looks quite amateurish and with two extremely irritating commentators leading us to a very predictable climax. The only item song is placed in the most inappropriate of situation. Overall “Brothers” is a very poor adaptation of “Warrior”, which neither impresses as an emotional movie or a sports movie.

Dialogues by Sidharth & Garima are quite clichéd and you feel you are watching a movie from the 80’s, rather in the emotional sequences the dialogues do not create any impact making it fall flat on the face. Especially the dialogues of the two commentators are the most irritable.

Akshay Kumar’s honest and earnest portrayal of David Fernandes is the only saving grace of the movie performance wise. He portrays the Physics teacher turned fighter with gusto and also looks fit and agile like a boxer. Sidharth Malhotra as Monty Fernandes has the same expression all throughout the movie and tries very hard to portray the angry young man act but fails miserably, rather his good looks acts detrimental for the role of the rugged Monty, though credit should be given for the training that he went through to portray the character which shows as well. Even Sidharth’s dialect looks forced. Jackie Shroff’s performance as Gary Fernandes, the estranged father borders between over acting and hamming, in some sequences he is so over the top that you cannot even hear his dialogues properly. Jacqueline Fernandes as Jenny has very little to do other than being moist eyed in every scene of hers. Shefali Shah as Maria, the mother gives us a crackling performance in a cameo. Ashutosh Rana as Pasha is wasted in a not so well written role. Kiran Kumar as Briganza, the businessman is again wasted in a inconsequential role. Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a cameo as the school principle was earnest. The two commentators Raj Zutshi & Kavi Shastri are the most irritating of the lot, rather they looked like a caricature. Rest of the cast does not create any impact.

Hemant Chaturvedi’s cinematography is gritty as per the requisite of the story.

Ajay-Atul’s music is very weak, excluding the item song “Mera Naam Mary”, rest of all the songs below par. Ganesh Acharya’s choreography of “Mera Naam Mary” is extremely cheap and I wonder what prompted Kareena Kapoor to do the song. This is by far the cheapest song that Kareena has done.

Karan Malhotra’s direction is extremely over the top whether it is the emotional sequences or the fight sequences which is outright gory in the name of boxing. The only emotion which is displayed is the emotion of hatred all throughout the movie.
It is Akshay Kumar and his portrayal which makes the movie watchable. Rather the whole movie is rested on Akshay Kumar’s broad shoulders.

I will go with 2 stars…

Movie Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Official Trailer: Shaandaar

After the critically acclaimed and highly successful “Queen”, Vikas Bahl is back with his second venture “Shaandaar”…..

“Shaandaar” is India’s first destination wedding movie, with an impressive ensemble star cast of Shahid Kapoor, shaandaarAlia Bhatt, Pankaj Kapur, Sanjay Kapoor, Sushma Seth, Sanah Kapoor, Diljit Dasanjh, Shibani Dandekar, Anjana Sukhani, Niyati Shah & Karan Johar (In a cameo)…

Story is by Vikas Bahl & Chaitally Parmar and screenplay & dialogues by Anvita Dutt Guptan. Anvita was also the dialogue writer for “Queen”, so we can expect some good writing here….

Vikas repeats his favorite music director Amit Trivedi again, so expect some melodious tunes as well….

“Shaandaar” is jointly being produced by Dharma Productions and Phantom Films, a collaboration which gave us “Hansee Toh Phasee”, so expect the grandeur of Dharma Productions and realism of Phantom Films….

“Shaandaar” looks like light breezy movie from its Official Trailer, but whether will it repeat the critical and box office success of “Queen”…well we need to wait till 22nd Oct’15, the day “Shaandaar” releases…..till then enjoy the trailer

Movie Review : Bangistan

Bangistan: Too Lukewarm for a Bang

Sometimes our film makers think that just having a different idea is enough to make a movie, but they forget that there is always a beginning, middle and a climax to a movie and all the three need to gel well to create the required impact. It is more difficult if it is satire.

The issue with the Film Critic turned film maker Karan Anshuman’s debut venture is that the idea was good on Bangistan Reviwpaper but unfortunately the execution was far from being good.

“Bangistan” takes forward the question asked in “PK” whether religion and sect is really essential for survival or is it just a business of various religious leaders, but in the form of a satire. The story unfolds in an imaginary town “Bangistan”, where Hindus live in the south of “Bangistan” and Muslim towards the north, and their tolerance is limited and every now and then there are communal riots. In this whole mayhem two naïve and relatively unknown youth Hafeez Bin Ali (Ritesh Deshmukh) a call center executive and Praveen Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) a struggling actor become pawn and are brain washed by their respective religious leaders Guruji and Abba (Kumud Mishra in a double role) and are convinced to become suicide bombers and sent to Polland to bomb a World Religious meet. The rest of the movie captures their adventure in Polland…

The story & screenplay written by Punnet Krishna, Sumit Purohit & Karan Anshuman himself is a satire and starts off well when Bangistan is introduced with a lot of tougue and cheek moments from the Bangistan Call Center to the Fc Donald’s outlet. It gives an impression that the movie is going to be different but the screenplay just falls flat once the action shifts to Polland introducing unnecessary characters which make no sense to the overall story. The second half is a disaster with an extremely lukewarm climax which becomes too preachy. . The characters are written without any depth. Overall the idea was good but the execution on paper just does not match the idea, and what we get a half baked movie.

The two actors Ritesh Deshmukh & Pulkit Samrat try to salvage with their performance but the weak writing pull down their earnest effort. Ritesh as a staunch Muslim Hafeez Bin Ali, who disguises as Ishwar Chandra, makes an earnest effort and it shows in his performance which does justice to the character. Pulkit Samrat as Praveen Chaturvedi a staunch Hindu who disguises as a Muslim, brings the required energy to the proceedings and gives an honest performance. Kumud Mishra in a double role of Guruji and Abba is one of the best performances of the movie, he yet again proves his mettle as an actor, who is underutilized. Jacqueline Fernandes as Rosy is wasted and you wonder what was she doing in the movie other than for a single song. Chandan Roy Sanyal as Tamim is again wasted due to weak writing. Arya Babbar as terrorist Zulfi tries to be funny but fails miserably. Other than the performances of Ritesh Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat and Kumud Mishra, rest of the cast fail to create any impression.

Cinematography by Szymon Lenkowski captures the moments well and both in Polland & India. Production design by Amit Ray tries to create the quirkiness of the story through his designs and does well. Editing by Shweta Venkat is very average….

Music by Ram Sampath is extremely forgettable excluding a single song “Hogi Kranti”.

Karan Anshuman’s motive and idea of making the satire was commendable, but the execution was extremely average creating no impact whatsoever….

I will go with Two & a Half Stars…

Movie Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Official Trailer: Phantom

Kabir Khan is back what he does best with “Phantom” a political thriller; the story is adapted from the novel “Mumbai Avengers” written by the famous crime author Hussain Zaidi.phantom-poster-saif-ali-khan-katrina-kaif

The story & screenplay has been written by Kabir Khan and Parveez Shaikh, and tells the story of global terrorism after 26/11 attacks in Mumbai wherein the main lead Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif play secret agents who are sent in mission. Not much has been revealed as far as the story goes.

Since the story is on global terrorism hence the Producer Sajid Nadiadwala and Kabir Khan have kept no stone unturned and the film is shot all across the globe from Beirut, Lebanon and the mountains of Kfardebian (shown as Syria) to UK & Canada to Jammu & Kashmir to Punjab and to Mumbai….

The principal cast comprises of Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and many actors from various countries where it was shot.

Cinematography is by Kabir Khan’s regular Aseem Mishra, hence we can expect some splendid visuals.

Releasing on 28th Aug’15 the movie has been produced by Sajid Nadiadwala under his banner Nadiadwala Grandsons and it is being distributed by UTV….

The trailer gives us a glimpse of an action packed thriller shot realistically, a far cry from Kabir Khan’s last blockbuster “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”…..

Well only time will tell whether “Phantom” will be Kabir Khan’s second blockbuster in 2015…till then enjoy the trailer

Movie Review: Drishyam

Drishyam: A vision which creates an impact

Drishyam posterRemakes in Bollywood have been in vogue since the Black & White era. Some remakes have been apt, some better than the original and some a complete waste which makes you wonder why was the remake made in the first place.

“Drishyam” , a remake of the Mohanlal starrer Malayalam film by the same name does not fit in any of the above categories, to some extent it does justice to the original but not entirely. Nevertheless it does create an impact. Based on the original story by Jeethu Joseph and adapted by Upendra Sidhaye, it narrates the story of a Vijay Salgoankar (Ajay Devgan) an orphan and class 4th fail, who is happy and content with his family comprising of his wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and two daughters living in a small village in Goa. Fortunes turn when the son of IG Meera Deshmukh (Tabu) goes missing and Vijay and his family becomes the prime suspect. How the family deals with the trials and tribulations is what the movie is all about…

Jeethu Joseph’s story is a sure shot winner and makes for a tight thriller.

Upendra Sidhaye tries to adapt the original in a Bollywood mould which somewhere steals the soul of the original. The first half is wasted in establishing the characters and songs, the movie actually picks up pre interval when the mishap happens making the post interval extremely interesting and edge of the seat. The first half is dedicated to show the loving, happy family, Upendra’s writing lacks a bit in the emotional quotient and does not create any impact. But it is the second half when the screenplay redeems itself and makes you sit up and makes it worth a watch concluding it with a crackling climax. Rather the second half looks like a completely different movie with a much tighter screenplay and at the end creating an impact, but it could have been better with some more twist and if the run time would have been 15 minutes shorter.

The dialogues also written by Upendra are impactful in some sequences and falls flat in some. The dialogues could have been written better with some emphasis on the emotional quotient.

What really makes “Drishyam” worth a watch are its performances. Ajay Devgn as Vijay Salgaonkar, the middle class simpleton who falls in an extraordinary situation, gives a crackling performance and does justice to the character and yet again shows his range as an actor. Tabu as IG Meera Deshmukh, a tough cop and at the same time a loving mother, gives us another award winning performance, proving yet again that is an actress par excellence. Right from her entry she lives Meera Deshmukh’s character to the T, the movie actually picks up after her character is introduced. Shriya Saran as Vijay’s wife Nandini, actually looks a bit miscast and her performance lacks the depth which makes the character fall flat, her performance is the weakest as compared to the rest of the cast. Ishita Dutta who plays Vijay’s elder daughter Anju, does a commendable job in her debut. Pitted against the stalwarts like Ajay & Tabu, Ishita successfully creates an impact which is commendable. Rajat Kapoor as Meera’s Husband has very little to do, but whatever he does, he does justice. Overall it is the performance by the cast which elevates the movie.

Goa has never been captured as beautifully as it has been done by Avinash Arun in this movie. He captures the virgin and serene locations of Goa beautifully, emphasizing more on the green and luscious villages. Editing by Arif Sheikh could have been a bit crisper, especially the first half and being a thriller it the cut needed to be sharper, in a nutshell Arif does a satisfactory job.

The combination of Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar is a cracker, and you expect melodies which stay with you, but unfortunately it fails miserably in this movie, and creates no impact. Rather when the movie gets over you do not even remember a single tune.

Nishikant Kamat, who has been quite successful in making commercial movies in realistic moulds somehow slips a bit with “Drishyam” , it is Jeethu Joseph’s original story and the performances which saves the day for Nishikant. Being a thriller it could have been a bit tighter with some more twists. But overall at the end of the day it does create an impact which is important, but definitely this is not Nishikant’s best work.

The concept, the story and the performances, strictly in that order is what makes “Drishyam”, a must watch. I will go with Three stars.

Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)