Sunday, 27 January 2013

[Movie Review] Race 2: The Horse that Limped

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anil Kapoor, Ameesha Patel
Director: Abbas-Mustan
Genre: Action, Thriller.

At one of the high octane moments in the movie, a resentful character says that, “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. Only if Race 2 would have been anything more than being cold, the end results would not have been so deadpan mediocre.  

To one’s horror, it felt like the intermission marked the tipping point of the thinking hats of the director duo Abbas-Mustan. After that, everything went bananas! Seriously, this is what the hype was for? All that glamour and booze and tactics led to this; an incredibly loud and trashy dose of entertainment? But mind you! The word used is ‘entertainment’.

Don’t get me wrong! By no means is Race 2 an utter disappointment. How can it be? It had two haughty hunks, three steaming darlings and plenty of cars and yachts and bikes and…Err, robbery, cage fighting, chasing sequences, exotic locations and countless other stuff on which money was flushed away. Pity on those minds; all a thriller needs is a taut script, not a tsunami of money! Profound, eh?

Somewhere at the end of the movie, you wish that writers had a wince of quirkiness or laid more emphasis on the storyline of Race 2. Sounds rough? Read! After losing someone close to his heart, Ranveer (Saif Ali Khan) plans revenge against the mafia king Arman Malik (John Abraham) while concurrently losing his heart to his half-sister Aleena (Deepika Padukone). Where does Omisha (Jacqueline Fernandez) fit in the frame? Well, she is the sweetheart of Arman Malik with a bizarre fondness for the word ‘Kamina’!
And the party is not yet over as we have the fruit-guy, RD (Anil Kapoor) who readily pops the cherry of his nitwit assistant Cherry (Ameesha Patel) and swings off vile one-liners. 

If only Saif Ali Khan had not saved the day, Race 2 would have crumbled long before the climax came. The glamour at some portions punched away the need for a basic plotline and the exotic sites spread over your eyes and sheath the illogicality of the entire affair. The females, plastic they may be, added such beauty on screen that somehow, somewhere, style thumped over substance with pride. John Abraham in his evil-avatar was nothing short of menacing with his grimaces and winks smeared across the rich European backgrounds.

To cut the deal, if one says that Race 2 was pointless; trust me that would be an understatement. It was drenched in absurdity with characters wearing suits that fitted their toned bodies as aptly as the hideous makeup of a clown in a circus. Race 2 was a castle of cards that fell on a single stroke of smart viewing!

(first published in

[Movie Review] Akaash Vani: Chicken Soup for Lovers!

Cast: Kartik Tiwari, Nusrat Bharucha
Director: Luv Ranjan

Genre: Romance, Drama

Movie Reviewed at: PVR, Udaipur.

Sigh! Love stories, they always start in a decent fashion; garden-fresh and effervescent. But somehow, most of them end up being lost in a maze with the message becoming convoluted and lost in the layers till the end credits roll down. Same is the case with Luv Ranjan’s second outing as a director, Akaash Vani.

Back in 2011, Luv Ranjan served us a scintillating and offbeat tale on relationships, Pyaar Ka Punchnaama; come 2013, the director is back again, with the rusted formula of love and a bold attempt against the society’s scheme of marriage. So, does the fairylike charm and idiosyncrasy of the cult hit ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnaama’ is back? Well, sadly, no.

A happy-go-lucky guy, Akaash (Kartik Tiwari) and a doey-eyed college girl, Vani (Nusrat Bharucha) were destined to be lovers. They hang about in cafeterias, sneak-peak into each other’s eyes during lectures and croon melancholic shayaris for each other. But, as always, fate intervenes and the duo splits after their college is over. It then takes an overly stretched second hour of the movie to reunite the couple and to break the shackles of society we live in. 

Without venturing into the minuteness of plot details, on the surface, Akaash Vani screams against the influence of the society in the marital decision of their offspring. The chronicle is kept bright and jovial in the first hour and the heavy medication is kept in store for the second hour of the movie. It is then and there only when the movie stumbles and then completely goes down the hill.

If only the script had been a little concrete rather than being this downtrodden, this would have been a complete crackling affair. I mean, really? A well-educated girl, dwelling in an urban area would steep so low so as to come under the axe of mental torture by his ruthless husband and not even complain? Sounds totally unconvincing! 

It is of utmost importance in a romantic flick that the chemistry remains sizzling. Brace yourselves for the dose as the pair was nothing short of perfect. There was no doubt that by the end, if only the sentimentality would have been reduced, this one could have been pulled off entirely by the charm of Kartik Tiwari and Nusrat Bharucha alone.  

Akaash Vani is a desi Nicholas Spark’s novel material which is accentuated by unwanted pulpiness and mushiness. If you are in love, rest assured, you’ll come out pacified. If not, well, you can always wait for the DVD release. 

(First published in

Sunday, 20 January 2013

[Movie Review] Broken City: This City Needs Some Fixing!

Cast: Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Allen Hughes
Genre: Crime, Drama
Runtime: 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Movie reviewed at: PVR Cinemas, Udaipur.

You’ve got a dearth of concepts and still you got to reel out a movie? Let Gods be my witness, for there is no better funda out there than an attempt at the crime noir. But don’t you forget to sprinkle political satire over it for it serves as a perfect topping for the movie-goers.

Broken City is a hard-core political drama with an impressive cast of Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe that falls flat on the ground with a huge thud. The director, Allen Hughes, who earlier helmed movies like ‘The Book of Eli’ and ‘From Hell’ (Not that they were too great either!), finds himself in not-so-good form as the whole structure crumbles after getting off to a more-than-decent start.

Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is a cop who is struggling to redeem himself from a crime of passion he committed in his past days; A Mayor, Hostetler (Russell Crowe) hard-pressed upon earning himself some heavy bucks all in the name of city development and there is Mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is allegedly having an affair with an opposite party fella who further had grave intentions and strategies to take Hostetler down. So, to make things a little less grim, Mayor appoints Taggart as a private eye for his wife and that, in a nutshell, is Broken City. Eh, hotchpotch, right?

Frankly, it started out with flying colors. The writing seemed tight and so was the brisk pace with which the movie was unfolding. But then came the real collapse, somewhere around the end of the first hour and after that, it was all down the lane for Broken City. The ending was seen from a mile away and then it was a mere formulaic wait for the culmination with a twist that is even lamer than the thought of a kangaroo on a motorbike!

Strangely, while dropping under the thriller genre, Broken City is downright thrill-free. It rushes when it should have set his feet and limps when it should have sprinted towards the climax.

One wonders what could have been the reaction to Broken City back in 80’s, a clap somewhere or a couple of praises in some spaces. But, to the director’s horror, this is ’13 and such premises have been rehashed and rattled a countless times. But, to the delights of the audiences, we still have Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg giving stellar performances throughout the run-time. It is indeed fascinating to see the actors in total command even when the ship is sinking from every possible side.

Ultimately, Broken City swings hard but misses the ball. Till the time the end credits roll, it ends up being fractured, but one can never deny the grittiness of this attempt!

Rating: 2/5

(first published in

Saturday, 19 January 2013

[Movie Review] Inkaar: The Page Three Misfire

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Goswami
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Music: Shantanu Moitra

For all I know, Don Draper, the prominent ad-men from the critically acclaimed series, Mad Men, would go suicidal after having a glimpse at the character arc of the leading ad-makers in Inkaar. You may ask if this corporate thriller of an advertising agency fired only blanks; Well, no, absolutely not! It is an unflinching approach to a bold issue of harassment which was bogged down only by a hogwash climax.

The entire suspense and the boiling plot-points of Inkaar leads to a painstaking washroom conversation amidst flickering lights which gives an opportunity to every cine-buff to make a self-note of ‘How to ruin your movie with a rubbish finale??’

Inkaar at its core is a complex character study of two personalities employed in the same advertising agency. From the ‘Full Metal Jacket’ posters in the cubicles to the boardroom meetings and the creative ad-campaigns, Inkaar stands tall in its narrative style and setting the environment to deliver its goods.

Maaya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh), National Creative Designer of the ad-agency KK & Doyle accuses the CEO of the company, Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) of sexual harassment. This leads to a two-day hearing of both sides of the coin which are interjected with flashbacks of the time the two shared a cozy relationship back at the Goafest they attended together seven years earlier. Mind you! Seven years earlier. The truth about the incident which is then revealed in the derivative climax ultimately packs the essence of Inkaar.

Inkaar boasts of a tremendous editing by its crew that makes the two day ordeal something that grips you till the end. Sadly, Chitrangada Singh comes over as a plain assertive in her acting skills and falls on her foot in some of the sequences that needed her to convince the board members. On the other hand, the fierce and self-assured Arjun Rampal gave a polished performance as a corporate head. Watch him out when he discards an ad-campaign so furiously that self-reliance drips out of his eloquent stance.

Definitely, Inkaar is not everybody’s cup of tea. It caters to an audience interested in solemn, dialogue-driven thrillers. It is poignant, relevant and well, a bit lost in the end. It is like watching images from a page three magazine that has somehow misfired in its transition to the big screen.

(first published in

Sunday, 13 January 2013

[Movie Review] Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola- Welcome to the MadVille!

Cast: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Aryan Babbar.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Reviewed at PVR, Udaipur.

A tanked-up industrialist, a lassie with a Meena Kumari complex, a Haryanvi Jat and a pink glowing buffalo; Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola is an eccentric bag of moments that contains the magnetism of Vishal Bhardwaj’s thump, but is shipwrecked by a muddled and disarrayed script. But Vishal’s fans shall not fear as all is not lost in the smog of the story. The witty director chirps in Mao along with the Lady Macbeth tragedy and Che Guevara’s artworks across the walls to symbolize revolution and a sense of cine-making that very few directors possess.

Harry Mandola (Pankaj Kapoor), an ambitious entrepreneur and a heavily bearded landlord, struggling from a dual-personality disorder and a hilariously unknown disease whose name one would have never heard before (Not for you, docs!), wraps his mind to marry his daughter, Bijli (Anushka Sharma) to Baadal (Arya Babbar); the only son of Chaudhari Devi (Shabana Azmi), the gluttonous neta.

Plunging deep into the plot reveals that this whole marriage is a hush-hush deal to take the lands away from the farmers and to shape a monstrous devil (Read industrial units and malls!), all in the name of pragati!  Meanwhile, Matru (Imran Khan) is a Haryanvi missile and the driver of Mandola with his own sense of righteousness and his heart on his sleeves.

Lavishing in gimmicks, first hour has its laughs. But the point is that everything; from the abundantly knotted buffaloes to the lazy green pastures and those murky daaru ke theke; feels completely aimless. The second hour tries to balance whippy Shakespearean humor with the depressions of modern India; and the result is, well, some brilliant moments and some ‘etched-to-eternity’ sort of sequences. The climax tries to shake the rubble, but Alas! The weight of the second hour was too heavy to wear off by a single song.

Pankaj Kapoor pulls off an absolute stunner with a man having two-hearts, one having holier-than-thou emotions (comes out during his routine drinking spells) and second one blinded with greed and lust for power. Anushka Sharma pitches in an electrifying performance as Bijli and Shabana Azmi makes for a perfect baddy. What surprises is Imran Khan, who looked out-of-places initially but grows on you with his bindaas dialogue delivery and quirkiness.

Apart from the cast and the nasty eye of direction, it is the tongue-in-cheek one liners of MKBKMD penned by Vishal himself that can plaster a huge grin on your face. Don’t believe me, read for yourself: ‘Agar dil saand ho to har ladki bhains dikhai deti hai meri jaan!’ Trust them to bombard the screen and tickle your insides as soon as a character shoots one!

To sum it up, Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola is a madhouse mixture of bizarreness and finesse. If you are one big fan of Vishal Bhardwaj’s craftsmanship, you probably shouldn’t give it a miss. For the rest of you, even if you loathe it, you have the pink buffaloes to save your day!

Rating: 2.5/5

(first published in