Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Before watching any english movie, I go to wikipedia to know the story. This is my second Star Wars movie, the first one being, ‘The Force Awakens”, which I saw earlier last year 2016. I must say, the Star Wars franchise is a mess and afflicted with incoherent story telling.

Also, about the current movie, as per wikipedia, it’s made with 200 Million budget and till now has a box office earnings of 850 Million approx. This shows, Star Wars series has an enormous and dedicated fan following who will go to watch the movie atleast once. And there will be million more curious idiots like me who will also have a “dekho” of this gibberish mumbo-jumbo.

One knows when the franchise is out of ideas absolutely. It is, when some characters leave the spaceship and practice meditative mind-control atop a mountain, besides drink milk from a strange cattle and hunt fish like a congo africans.

And then those idiotic philosophising. After each bout of wanton storyless firing into space, scenes settle down on some inane chats on why Jedi should end and be gone forever. Hopefully they should. Probably the franchaise is preparing the egghead followers that the series end is near.

I’ll rate this movie as a blackhole out of five. Star Wars series needs a fresh look on story telling. Thankfully, Carrie Fisher died at the right time and was spared the agony.

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Movie: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes starts with a war. But before that, the movie opens with multiple paragraphs on the screen which you have to read quickly to get the context.

Humans are afflicted by a deadly virus which makes them lose their power of speech and at the same time, the apes are getting more intelligent and acquiring power of speech. Hence the army of Humans want to eradicate the apes before the table turns.

This is the third movie in the Apes series and it uses a recent technology of Motion-capture, also called Performance Capture. This technology records Human movements and uses it to animate digital characters.

The chief Ape is enacted by Andy Serkis who has become famous in these kinds of motion capture acting. And he has conveyed “Human-Like” emotions while playing Caesar. His is a compelling performance which makes one root for the apes.


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Movie Jagga Jasoos Review

Today I saw Movie Jagga Jasoos. First day First show. And with howling and shouting and hooting college crowd. To avoid them I bought the absolutely front row seat for Rs. 85. Leaving the entire front row, Growels Screen 2 was houseful. The movie didn’t worth that much.

The movie starts with theaters. Katrina opens the show explaining about Jagga and showing four or five comics. (Next time I’ll carry a notebook). Those comic books are the life story of Jagga.

Then the movie shifts to Purulia Arms drop of 1995 and some aviation history held my attention. But not for long. The story didn’t build. It crashed like the arms dropping from the sky.

The story went into loops and meandered into some very very poor man’s Sherlock Holmes. And it remained there.

The movie was so drab in the first half that the audience laughed at silly things, probably to get their money’s worth. I could sense that. There were cat calls for Ranbir but none for Katrina.

Ranbir is good and after “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, I consider Katrina a very competent actor. Both were wasting their time in this movie.

After three comics, Katrina said, “Let’s have a break”. I didn’t wait to see the remaining comics.

I ran away.


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MOM – The Movie and some Context

Although I tried to search the name of one movie on Internet and I’ve also tweeted my query to some prominent movie reviewers, I’ve still not found the name of the movie which I saw sometimes in mid 80’s.

I think, it was a New Zealand Movie. In that movie, a couple runs a sheep farm and the wife is a veterinarian who castrates sheep. Probably some requirement to stop them from breeding.

Anyway, she and her husband are estranged. So the husband with his gang, in disguise, raids the house and gang rapes his wife.

The wife then starts her investigation and discovers that her husband is the true culprit. She then uses her expertise, anesthetizes her husband and castrates him.
It was a riveting movie and I still remember the drama and suspense. Only I have forgotten the name of the movie.

Similar kind of revenge drama, surely copied from the same movie as mentioned above, was made in 1988. Zakhmi Aurat, played by Dimple Kapadia, who was gang raped and she takes revenge by castrating the culprits  after serving them brandy. Now, in this movie, Dimple Kapadia is a Police Officer. The plot hole is that how, she, a Police Officer, had expertise to castrate and how brandy can make men unconscious. This is debatable.

But like pot holes on Mumbai roads, an Indian audience is immune to plot holes in the script. Probably, they are concerned of high level story arcs, particularly sex and retribution.

Recently, I saw the movie MOM. And a similar story, just rehashed. They are all copying from the same source, the name of the movie I forget.

Sridevi is a great actor. In the first half she showed her class. The first half is filmed well and the movie holds a promise. But when the retribution part starts, mainly after the interval, the movie fails to hold attention.

A part of the story string is taken from a renowned  TV serial, “Breaking Bad”. In Breaking Bad, the chief protagonist making a Poison, “Ricin” from Castor Oil seed. So, in this movie, MOM, they did a twist, and used apple seeds to make cyanide. Good idea, but not effectively portrayed as in Breaking Bad.

The majority of Indian audience probably do not care, or have no interest or do not have exposure to watch great tele-serials like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sopranos, Orange is the new Black, House of cards, The West wing.

Or probably they do have some sense of logic. That is why copy-paste movies like Zakhmi Aurat, Maatr and MOM as not successful.


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Bridge of Spies

“Every time I go to the movies, it’s magic, no matter what the movie about”. This from a man whose filmography is rich and immense. He has been prolific. He enjoys his craft. And it shows.

I’ve seen only a handful.

First time I was introduced to his craft when in school, in Kolkatta. I saw Jaws, sometimes in 1985, a decade after it was released. Then Innerspace, when in college in Mumbai sometimes in 1989. Jurassic Park, I saw on TV in 1997. Schindler’s List in 1994. Men in Black and Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Then Juraasic World and now Bridge of Spies, 2015.

Of all the movies listed above, I still see Saving Private Ryan innumerable times. The scale in which this movie treats World War Two and the Normandy Landing is impressive.

However, Bridges of Spies is pretty sedate in comparison to all the Spielberg movie I have been introduced to. In fact, I have seen a better movie which a subject of spies in unfriendly land. That is, Shining Through(1992), Michael Dougles and Melanie Griffith starer.

But, not to be too depressing, this movie, Bridges of Spies, has its own allure. It’s straight forward and matter of fact. No suspense. Just great acting and cinematography.

The movie should be seen just to marvel how, Hollywood creates the life and times of 50’s and 60’s. The alleyways of Brooklin, with cars, shops, and attire of those times. Must say, today, Mumbai looks like that. Hopefully, in fifty sixty years, Mumbai would be like Brooklyn of today.

Even, the creation of those times, when the wall, separating East and West Berlin, was coming up, the Iron Courtain, as we know it, and the distress of the population caught on the wrong side of the divide, is believably shown.

Tom Hanks is to Spielberg is like Sumitra Chaterjee is to Satyajit Ray. Both tell their stories through a character who aptly portrays it.

Bridges of Lies is wholesome viewing and that too, I saw, without subtitles. It has some subtle humor too. I understood what they spoke and I was one with the story.

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Honestly, I have never noticed Lady Justice’s sword. I have noticed the blindfold, the scales. But never, the sword. Probably, the sword is held close to the body facing downwards in all the profiles of the statue. Or, probably, it was never a part of any Hindi movie dialogue, haranguing on the utility of the sword.

Anyway, I missed it. And I knew it today. There is a scene in the movie where the sword (Talwar in Hindi) of Lady Justice is discussed. It’s a subtle pointer to the family in question.

The Talvars. Both parents doctors, living with only daughter. A daughter who, if alive, would have grown to be a beautiful lady. Any picture of hers, show her photogenic oval face and beautiful intense eyes.

She was found with her neck slit on 16 March 2008. Her parents, supposedly, slept through the murder, in the adjacent room with loud air conditioner. The prime suspect, their absconding male house helper, is found dead, smothered and his neck similarly stilt, on the Talvar terrace.

With Talvar’s nominated prime suspect dead, an opportunity arose to one and all, to catch the killer. Indians are schooled in the class where evidence all always in search of the investigator. Thus, the eternal desire of open and shut case.

2008 Noida double murder case was a sensation in the prime time media. Every citizen had a theory. They still have. And I have, and while watching the movie, my biases came alive. The treatment of the movie not did change my theory.

The movie starts by showing the police in poor light. Almost dumb. In fact so bad, that I felt, was it that bad. There is a scene towards the end where Irrfan Khan comments on the investigation. He says, “first the crime was fixed then evidence collected to prove it”. I believe, the movie’s premise was first set to show the Talvars as innocent and then the script written to establish that premise.

Silence is not golden when public opinion is concerned. If the public is not given a narrative to chew on, they will attempt to figure it out themselves. That’s dangerous to governance. Hence, a necessity to fire media controlled narratives. The public, unknown to them, are always in control of some narrative or the other, with control strings going right up to media and then governance.

So, in 2008, screaming narratives where given to the public, for them to creep on broadcast opinions. This movie- Talvar – is similar attempt to influence opinions and portray Talvars as innocent.

The movie ends with similar theme. There are two sides, with distinctly different opinions. And it’s a subtle attempt to shore up compassion. The loosing side is rationalised as the right side.

Truth is shown to be sacrificed on the alter of justice, with the Lady Justice’s sword.

Irrfan Khan, the actor who brought life to the show in the second half of the movie, is on the loosing and the right side. He gives credibility to the core premise, that is, Talvars are innocent. Just as the police are shown as bumbling idiots in the first part, in the second and better half of the movie, Irrfan is shown as serious and methodical investigator.

To put more weight, emotion wise, he is shown as performing a thankless task, despite his personal problems. He and wife Tabu has filed for separation. And, to top it up, his partner in investigation, opportunistically becomes a turncoat. These subtle script manipulations are to get the audience invested in Irrfan’s plight, and invest the accrued emotions to agree in his conclusions.

Atul Kumar as Paul, the investigator who takes up the case when Irrfan is kicked out, is impressive. I liked his controlled acting. After the show, I searched him on the net, and found, he is actor-director in theatres. I must complement the movie makers of not replacing the character of Irrfan with a bumbling idiot. Or did they try that? There was an attempt to show Atul as quirky when he was first introduced.

I didn’t like the movie. I felt it’s contrived with some hidden agenda. As I recall the period from 2008 to 2013, when the Talvars were finally convicted, I recollect numerous and frequent periods of bail applications by Talvar lawyers, articulate Talvar-Friends appear on media claiming Talvar’s innocence, and lawyers debunking any court verdict after any courts judgements. It appeared like a game.

Sorry, the movie doesn’t change my sentiments. I still feel they are guilty. The Talvars and there friends, the media, then and now, trying to prove, poor powerless servants as guilty, does not go down well with my line of thought.

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Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon

Kapil Sharma can act. We already know he can. We saw him on Comedy Nights, that humorous TV sitcom where movie stars showed up to promote their upcoming releases. But with-Kis Kisko, Kapil has impacted the big screen. He has a presence, not that astounding star-like, but he can carry a movie.

In-Comedy Nights with Kapil-where witty wisecracks at every instance was a necessity, in this movie, he added an attribute, which will work well in his future shows. Kapil Sharma can handle melodrama.

Moments where Kapil showed his potential, happened once before interval, then at the end. Just before interval, in an act of drinking binge, he reveals his versatility. He captivates with his drunk act and held tight throughout the performance. This single act changed my perception. He is an all rounder.

Then again, towards the end, when, in most Hindi movies, weepy acts predominate, Kapil shows effective acting. He is a controlled performer, a “Manjha hua Kalakaar”.

In between, Kapil is like, what you see on Comedy Nights. He effectively took his act from small to big screen.

The only other actor whose drunk act makes an impact is Amitabh Bachchan. Though, Amitabh is a “bridge too far” for Kapil, still Kapil Sharma enthralled me and the audience with that one act before interval.

Well, it’s a Govinda type story. Whereas, Govinda had a two-wife plots in few movies, Kapil probably wanted to do better and double the stakes. Though Kapil cannot match Govinda’s flamboyance, but he holds his own Haazir-zawaabees.

Apart from Kapil, whose dialogues and screen presence is well known, the movie is supported by good performance. Arbaaz, though no star power like is brother Salman, has a confident screen presence and delivers his part. Manoj Joshi is a safe bet in a comic role. Manjari Phadnis and Simran Kaur are good and glamorous. Sai Lokur, the third wife, acted well but lacks presence. Eli Evram, surprisingly, is a confident performer.

Jamie Lever, daughter of ace Indian actor and comedian Johnny Lever, is a hilarious performer like her father. Her role on the movie is under promoted. I came to know about her only when, impressed by her acting, I searched her on the net, and was surprised to find this fact. As a bai, (domestic helper) she lights up the screen whenever she appears. Surely, the father has passed on the genes to the daughter.

Irrespective of all the negative reviews which you have read or seen modest star ratings, you can safely disregard those and watch the movie. Throughtout the movie, the audience were enjoying themselves with laughter and claps.

This movie showcases Kapil Sharma’s acting and his attempt to make it on the big screen and big times.

He is successful.

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I saw it twice. And I might see it a few more times before it leaves the theatre nearby.

Multiple viewings might suggest that I’m in awe of Deepika, which is correct. But what has touched me is the sweetness of the movie. And of course, it’s on a Bengali family and I have a long association with Bengal, having done my school there. Anything Bengali, I relate to it deeper. I know the language, I know the food, I know the people.

The movie is sweet but the characters are not. They are fussy, moody, cantankerous but they are all well adjusted  to take the story forward.

The movie’s chief protagonist is widower Bhaskor (Amitabh). I call him “chief” because, for the entire movie, the rest of the cast is dealing with his problem of constipation. This topic is prevalent from dinner table to romantic dates. The writer and the director took care not to make the topic too indulgent by mixing some seriousness and humour in right measure. The viewers, such as me, became genuinely concerned as to how and when Amitabh will solve this conflict. Constipation is the core of the story.

Complimenting Amitabh is his marriageable age daughter Deepika who is the Piku of the story. Piku is single and looking but her attempts are defeated by her father who is scared of loosing her care and nurturing. Hence he concocts narratives to dissuade her to find a partner.

Amitabh and Deepika have a terrific chemistry in this movie. And Deepika is just fabulous. I’m enthralled by the range of her expressions. There are many scenes where the way she looks or the way she talks or the way she displays anger adds tremendously to the emotional value of that shot. The casting of Deepika in this role is one major reason for the success of this story.

Piku comes out as an antagonistic character but with a good heart. There are a few words in the movie to state this point. She is opinionated and stands her ground. But she’s unable to break free or create her space. The father-daughter relation is shown as close but overwhelming. There is a need to create diversion and bring in another dimension.

That’s where we see Irrfan (Rana “non-Bangali” Chaudhury). He opts to drive father-daughter from Delhi to Kolkatta. If there could be another character to match Amitabh and Dipeeka, it is Irrfan. In his characteristic way, his mannerisms, he is like a balm. By the time the family reaches Kolkatta, you really want Irrfan to rescue Piku from her father. There is one striking scene where Irrfan scolds Amitabh and Piku just looks on. That expression is of a very accomplished actor. 

There comes from time to time, movies with stories which are so right in many ways. In last five years, the last movie in this class, in my opinion, was Dhobi Ghat. Well, watch on to catch the next.

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SHAMITABH – To much Amitabh

If you’ve seen early Amitabh movies like Sholay, Deevar, Namak Haram etc., to name a popular few, you will know that Amitabh was not the only actor in those movies yet he was the key factor in the success of those movies. Amitabh’s character moved the story forward and the story and his character and of others in the movie complimented each other. Amitabh’s height, voice and his acting added to the scale of the movie. In his later movies where he looked old but still worked has a young hero, his character lent to the story. And there was balance.

But in Shamitabh, there is just, too much Amitabh. I had a feeling that the movie was contrived to provide him footage more than the story and his character deserved. Either Amitabh is too obsessed or the director R. Balki is in awe of him and his voice.

The entire movie is to cash in on , The Voice. And a story is developed to use the voice on another face through use of technology.

The concept is good. And taking mercy on the cine-crowd’s intelligence quotient, there is a half-hearted demo to explain the voice transfer technology. The dumb, Dhanush, gets the voice technology hardware thru a few easy coincidences. All he needs now is a software, “voice” and stardom waits round the corner.

In drops a drunk, a waste, the longest running aspiring hero- Amitabh. Dhanush, the dumb face and Amitabh, the voice, hit is it off. But a few scenes down the line, the Voice turns into a headache. The Voice wants his due recognition and the dumb face is on an ego trip. So far so good.

But not so good. Mostly, I found myself checking my mobile for some interesting message miraculously appear thru aeroplane mode. Saw a couple walk out of the hall probably to ask for the money back. I mean, the movie pacing is in question. And mostly it happened when Amitabh was dominating the screen with his solo overacting. The story was sacrificed to display gurgitated dialogues which connected with no one.

I have good words for Dhanush. He has presence and in front of the wizened Amitabh he held his own. He is far from being a heart throb but he will have his own followers.

Akshara Hassan is like photo copy of her mother Sarika. For people of my Palaeolithic age, you’ll know what I mean. But I hated her hairstyle. Time and again, I was tempted to get a big scissor and clip those locks which invariably dropped and covered the right side of her face. But, she is good refreshing face and she has years to develop in the field.

The story idea is compelling. The movie is not. Though there are snippets of interesting moments and that’s about it.

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Today was long. Today I saw three back to back movies. I started with a hindi “Happy Endings”, then two English- “Intersteller” and finally “Equalizer”. It was like doing a 9 to 5 job, but with a smile on my face and beign charged at the end of it all.

I always saw a Govinda-Movie irrespective of ratings. His movies are pure unmitigated entertainment. This can be said for most of his earlier releases. His gaudy mismatched outfits, his dancing like a jelly and those expressions on his face when he stricks rhythm and topped with great acting. In his hey-days, he carried almost anything. He was a treat to watch.

But, sadly, not this time. His comeback after a long leave is pretty sedate. This time, it was only a nostalgia value resident in me which forced the warmth out to appreciate this once-upon-time superb entertainer.

I went for Govinda. But came back with Ileana D’Cruz. I had pre conceived bias. The name D’Cruz evoked a ma-ka-pav epithet in hindi texture and I expected an anglicized lady with phoren accent. But she’s a surprise package, gorgeous and has a screen- presence. Normally, a women cast in hindi movies are known by there tear-jarring performance. On the contrary, she is subtle and leaves an impact in a low volume. She is a girl to watch.

Saif is as he is. He is comfortable in his role. He is another Rishi Kapoor, meaning, beign on the wrong side of Forty, he is still boyish and carries a romantic character with élan.

On the whole, the movies is watchable. My advice is- please club is up with a viewing of “Intersteller”

I’m afraid, “Intersteller” in India is like another “Inception”. Difficult to grasp if you can’t follow the dialogue. I saw, towards the end, many audiences leaving the hall with their girl. I can understand.

Fortunately, the movie is with English subtitles. This is a boon. It has great dialogues where the concept of love is explained in terms of space and time. Well, if you are not too enthralled by this, at least watch it for the experience of Space. But let me confess, I liked “Gravity” more than this movie. So, if you have seen “Gravity”, you wouldn’t mind one more in that class.

Frankly, “Equalizer” is like a Ajay Devgun movie, only better. This movie dwells with the concept of one-man-demolition-squad and Denzel Washington, on a threshold of sixty, has given an intense performance. But I suggest, Indian audience to wait for Ajay Devgun’s “Action Jackson”. It will be all the same, only lesser.

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