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Gangubai Kathiawadi

A decent film-making but not a cult masterpiece....
Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a name that needs no explanation, one to churn the masterpieces like "Black," "Bajirao Mastani," and "Padmavaat", ever to be paralleled, brings the story of a prostitute turned into a powerful social figure. Glamourized to spectacular level through Alia Bhatt and picturesque sets , the film is not inferior in any aspects of technicalities but the narration and character development surely suffers in this endeavor. The narration drags and the characters lack the ingenuity of the time period. Alia Bhatt surely overdoes her performance (she appears Alia Bhatt with prosthetics than a 19th century prostitute) and Ajay Devgn appears weary (doesn't appear a powerful don of the time). The sets are a bit sketchy. Overall. The film looks good in patches but rather lacks a subtly on a whole.

Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.

Sharmaji Namkeen

A sweet family drama... kudos to late Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal and Juhi Chawla....
The film talks about early retirement and old age and delves into the grievances of the generations. Subject wise it hits the nail with a story which appears much of today's issue. However, the film lacks the juices and drops to second rate jokes and gimmicks which just don't raise the bar above a B grade TV movie. But again, the film impresses through its subject and leaves on a positive note which gives a message to the younger generation to understand and respect their elders. Besides, the film is important as it is the last film from Rishi Kapoor who still delivered the best. Just like his "Do Dooni Char," it depicts a strong social message of the middle class families. Lastly, kudos go to Paresh Rawal and Juhi Chawla for their refreshing screen presence who all make it worth a watch.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.


An overlong, tense, and violent gangster epic....
"Nayakan" is perhaps the first Indian gangster movie that abandons the gimmicky formulas of Bollywood. It charts the life of a boy who descends to Dharavi slums after his father, a union leader, is shot dead by police and turns himself into a gang leader and a local hero of the slum. I watched the Hindi version of the film, and the photography and dubbing seem a bit flawed. The narration, performances, execution all have their right touch to turn it into a complete movie that realistically depicts the crime world of a Mumbai slum. Kamal Hassan nails his role with which his get-ups made tremendous changes. However, the film is a bit too tense and overlong; and perhaps a bit of trimming would have helped to turn into an excellent gangster epic. Few songs play well with the movie while some feel distasteful. Overall, the movie has its moments which make it memorable; but few unnecessary songs and overstretched sequences deem it a bit low in the perspective of a master piece for world cinema.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.


An intense, distressing drama on modern day plight....
"Aama" is definitely not for the faint hearted. It's intense, distressing, disturbing, and very tragic. But whatever it shows is very close to modern day plight. It shows the hardship of parenthood, family, younger generation, career , and hospital. It keeps a low profile in terms of technicality, but it grips and at times gets deep inside the characters. The performances are awesome.

It ends it a lachrymose denouement and doesn't seem to give a progressive thought on the crises it revolves around. However, still the intense depiction of the emotions it sketches is something we haven't seen in a Nepali movie and in that terms the film is commendable.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4.


A harrowing account of urban poor
The film depicts the mental stigma of a newly wed couple in a riverside slum, who need to share a common room with their ailing mother hit by a car and their alcoholic father. I thought it was about the sexual frustration of the newly wed couple, which in itself was a noble concept to present. But by the end I felt privacy isn't much of a deal for the slum dwellers who struggle for their existence. A roof is what matters to them than the privacy.

The film portrays the harrowing account of these slum dwellers fending for themselves against the social etiquettes. The film is unpleasant and so is the slum life. Apart the obscure ending, the film feels natural and never overdone with few remarkable performances. The film makes an uncomfortable watch and is to stay in your mind for several days.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible

A superb, inspiring, and informative documentary on a local hero...
A Nepali mountaineer sets a record by climbing 14 highest mountains of the world inlcuding 8 mountains in Nepal, 5 in Pakistan, and one in Tibet, all above 8000m, in 6 months, which is just superbly documented in this film though the expedition hasn't earned much of accolades in the media. Perhaps limited to the news archive, the film delves into the hardship of mountaineering, including the high risks it poses. It's a homage to the inevitable the mountaineers go for the mankind. Apart this. It photographs the summit of the highest mountains through the lenses seldom seen in the movies.

It's not a thriller or a drama with the last minute twists but it's a testimony of the nature captured at its best with the real life footages. However, the defects if any are the film feels a raw documentation and a feel good features of a mountaineer and his family. Many ascents to the mountains are covered very briefly and doesn't disclose the hardships related to the each of the cases. The film is overall informative like the amusing news of the traffic jam encountered during the ascent of Mt. Everest or China barring the climbing of Shishapangma which was lifted off following the pressure on the government, but still the audiences feel much is left in this documentary regarding the mountaineering. Though it's the story of a Nepali mountaineer, it's made by a western documentary maker. Just wondered why a Nepali film-maker didn't venture to tell the story of their countryman.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.


Yeshwant: an overdone rhetorical persona of Nana Patekar
Late 80s and 90s were adorned by the rhetorical dialogues of Nana Patekar, which carried a special charm; "Pratighat," "Ankush," 'Prahaar," "Krantiveer" to name few. People just loved it and to satiate the taste a super cop story has been weaved into "Yeshwant."

Well the film does grip and has some style to its narrative which makes it worth a watch. But overall the film is pretty hectic and remains an automated persona of Nana Patekar which is just overdone and implausible. The dialogues just run like a bullet train and less goes in. The plot is slim and the ease with which the film ends is a cheat. Perhaps by this film the people had given up the usual Nana Patekar style following which he needed an image change.

Rating: 1 star out of 4.


A bland copy of "The Fugitive"
"Criminal" is a Tamil/ Hindi copy of a very successful Hollywood thriller "The Fugitive." Many scenes are just the carbon copy of the same movie. While "The Fugitive" remains compulsively watchable and gripping, "Criminal" appears a mawkish copy of the same with the implausible stunts done in the regular Indian style. Hence, the audiences rejected to its taste which mixes the Indian movie formulas with Hollywood story. The only saving graces are the glamour Manisha Koirala creates in the film along the mesmerizing score "Tum Mile Dil Khile" and above average performances of Nagarjuna and Nazar. Overall, the film is a crap. Just go for the original movie.

Rating: 1 star out of 4.


A decent love triangle
"Shahjahan" fame A. R. Kardar weaves a beautiful love triangle in his classic "Dard," best known for its song "Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon." The story is a familiar love triangle but the decency with which it's presented is just commendable. Right from the beginning to the end, the film maintains a class through its impeccable dialogues depicting the Nawabi culture and superb performances with much of wittiness. The years haven't faded its sweetness a bit. Just go for it to experience a gem of the 1940s.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4.


Overlong and full of cheaper gimmicks.... but worth watch for Mithun's villanious role
"Jallad" is all about the cheaper gimmicks of 90s including fights, politics, villains, unsituational songs and unsavory jokes, which do nothing more than lengthen the movie. The storyline is too familiar and improbable. If there is anything the film is worth for, it's the villanious role of Mithun which despite its all improbabilities and unpleasantness keeps one watching.

Rating: 1 star out of 4.


Technically brilliant war saga cum biopic but emotionally pretty blatant
Kargil War gets well depicted in some of the recent movies like "lakshya," and "Gunjan Saxena." "Shershaah" stands the latest and a complete epitome of the war fought in the line of control between India and Pakistan.

It's a war cum biopic of Captain Vikram Batra, who was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his valor in the war. The film chronicles his childhood to his joining the army in his early years and his conviction to fight for the country. It superbly details the war fought, and is excellent in terms of documentation. Technically it's brilliantly made. But what it lacks is the emotional nuances in the characters. Still the emotional rawness of "Haqeeqat" released in the 60s hasn't been achieved in the recent war sagas. Overall, it makes a fair watch in terms of story; but lack of emotional nuances disappoints.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Jhansi Ki Rani

A superb historical saga... deserves a remake
"Jhansi Ki Rani" recreates the historical saga of 1857 mutiny, often considered the first freedom fight against the British Rule, led by the queen of Jhansi, Laxmi Bai. It chronicles the life history of the queen as a nine year old child married to the king to her fight for the freedom. The film superbly portrays the historical period, often untouched in movies, with superb sets and background yet avoiding oversentimentality or preachiness till the end. It vividly recreates the historical account of the British rule that spread under conspiracy, as the film points. Unlike the regular stereotypes, it portrays few benevolent characters among the British and few conspirators among the Indian as well.

Perhaps a bit unknown historical saga, it deserves an applause for the historical legacy it carries which very well depicts an important chapter of rebellion. Directed by a movie pioneer Sohrab Modi, he gives a hype through his impeccable performance as well. Perhaps his superb direction and performance are what make the film praise worthy. However there are certain flaws in it. It plays well in the first half with a lot of warmth and superb sets. But in the later part the role of Mehtab as the Jhansi Ki Rani lacks a zeal and so does the war scenes. Overall, it's a remarkable historical movie which needs to be seen and remade.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4.


Feels better with repeated viewings
Story-wise, "Witness" is a simple cop and criminal story where a cop hides in an Amish community to protect a boy, who is the sole witness of a homicide and along the way gets emotionally intimate to the boy's widowed mother. What feels a familiar crime thriller is a treat for the tremendous treatment it receives.

Avoiding the gimmicky clichés and using minimal dialogues, the film mesmerizes through its style and execution. And the best part is more pleasure you find in the repeated viewings. Apart becoming better than the cliched crime thrillers, it can be watched as a story of human relations or a superb depiction of an Amish community, which has been seldom seen in Hollywood, or simply for the brilliant performances and a tremendous cinematic experience. Either way , it's a superbly crafted movie you simply ought to watch and one of the best from the 80s.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate

A clean family entertainer
"Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate" was the comeback film of the legendary film-maker, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, which he made after 10 years following "Jhoothi," which too was the last film of the legend. Clean family entertainers have been the trademark of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's movies. The trademark persists in his last production too, which in many ways stands different to 90s formulaic movies. It, at instances, presents some wit and laughs. But overall, the film feels a bit weary with the familiar jokes from the legend's masterpiece comedies like "Golmaal " and "Naram Garam." The performances are ok, but lack the sparks. In a nutshell, the film represents the film-making style of a legend with some decency but misses the sparks in performances and narration which ends it into a passable entertainer, but not a masterpiece.

Rating: 1 star out of 4.

Xi yan

Amusing, witty, and delightful drama
A gay guy living in New York fakes a marriage with his tenant to satisfy his parents from Taiwan, who are in a visit to attend his arranged marriage. Dealing with homosexuality and family values, it's a delightful drama from China I've adored in years, perhaps after "Yi Yi." Developing from a slight storyline, the film has a lot to offer in the way including a clash between family and one's personal preference. The film fully amuses and is full of emotions along the packages of surprises. Brilliantly directed by Ang Lee, the film stands an epitome of a Chinese wedding on the screen along the theme of homosexuality portrayed so well before he directed "Brokeback Mountain."

Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

The Untouchables

A gripping and very violent gangster movie
Most of the gangster movies tend to become unlovable, overlong, or too hard to stomach while charting the facets of a gangster's life. However, "The Untouchables" skips the trend and is pretty exciting, witty, and is able to grip. Perhaps, the next gripping gangster movie I've watched after "Goodfellas" and "Road to Perdition," it has the thrills, emotions, and fair amount of humor along the star values through the notable roles of Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert Di Niro. Definitely not to the caliber of "The Godfather," it is still one of the films you ought to watch to experience Hollywood at its best.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

The Ice Storm

A subtle suburban drama dealing adolescence and mid life crisis
Based on a novel and set in 1973, the film deals with adolescence and mid life crisis featuring some discontented middle class families in American suburbs. It's a film which is hard to put in words. It's a film to be relaxed about and enjoyed with refreshing performances of the stars, Tobey Maguire, Eljah Wood, Christina Ricci, all featured as the teenagers. Despite a common theme, much refined in "American Beauty" and a forced ending dealing an accident which doesn't take the story to a proper conclusion, is still worth a watch for tremendous direction of Ang Lee and the superb background score he uses.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.


Witty and compelling drama with few contrivances....
"Mimi" deals with the surrogacy a foreign couple opts for from a working class rural girl in India and later abandons the surrogacy when it's learnt the baby to be born suffers from Down's Syndrome. Subject wise it explores a relevant issue, surrogacy and the underlying complexities. A little known drama "Life Express" (2009) too dealt this subject.

"Mimi" is refreshing, entertaining, witty and at times makes a compelling watch on an emotional level. Kriti Sanon and Pankaj Tripathi (seen together in "Luka Chuppi") give tremendous performances. The drama has twists and last minute alterations, for which the audiences get gripped throughout. However, the film isn't free of flaws. At times the humor feels a bit forced, there are some obvious contrivances, music is average, and the film goes for an overlength. The emotions in the climax fall a bit inadequate and go for a relaxed end. Overall, it makes a decent watch and will probably give it a repeated viewing.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.


A refreshing drama on three generations.... one of its kind....
"Tribhanga" tells the stories of three generations of women tied by an incident in the most unconventional way. The film very beautifully defies and questions the patriarchal society, avoiding preachiness throughout. Directed by a lady, the film delves deep into the emotions of womanhood and charting from what appears to be an unlikeable protagonist puts the audiences into different perspectives to understand the complexity of life. Aside the foul language which might make some viewers uncomfortable, the film is one of its kind for the beautiful characters, performances, and simply its storytelling.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.


A hackneyed thriller with the influences of "Zid" and "Badla"
A posh photography and an impressive ensemble acting fail to lift this thriller. The film plays as a skit on the judicial system of the country with the retired judge, prosecutor and defense attorney living together in a bungalow and playing themselves in a game to execute the visitors of the bungalow as the criminals.

Despite some suspense and excitement at instances, the film ends pointless and feels like a childish play. The twists are similar to a much unknown thriller "Zid" and Amitabh Bachchan shares a similar role from "Badla;'" but overall, "Chehre" ends in a tasteless note with an unlikeable and improbable plot, which won't retain long with the viewers.

Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.


A funny and poignant Iranian drama
Two 12 years old twin girls locked in the house by their unemployed father face the outside world for the first time when they are released by a social worker to see the real world. Innocence and gratitude are what pervades in this sweet little Iranian drama based on a true story with the children acting themselves. The sweetness is just overwhelmed with the innocence of the children, which just touches. Definitely not as compelling to "Children of Heaven," the film feels a bit slow but still has its moments to cherish. Overall, it's not a landmark movie but still provides the pleasure of a decent cinematic experience.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Dui Kinara

Cliched but still a touching melodrama......
Tulsi Ghimire has been one of the prominent film makers who has added a facet in Nepali cinema. Apart the blockbusters "Lahure" or 'Chino," "Dui Kinara" is to be relevantly compared to his later releases "Dakshina" and "Rahar." Despite a nice subject, both the films had cliches, perhaps contained for the masses. Same holds with "Dui Kinara."

The film touches on emotions and relationships between the characters of two strata, a fisherman and a US based lady, who are led by fate to live under a single roof with an anonymous relationship to raise a baby, born from the lady. Apart some supporting cast, the acting of the central characters, Himal, Nani Babu and Madame are basically good. The negative attribute of the film again is the cliches and the improbabilities. Had the film retained only the sweetness of the relations and freed itself from the cheaper gimmicks and improbabilities, the film would have definitely been a treat. Either way it's still entertaining and worth your time.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Recycles the formulas of the franchise
A human cyborg is sent from a future to protect the future leader from a destructive robot, this time a female. Those familiar with the previous Terminator movies shall soon identify the formulas the film carries, the non stop action executed with glamour and grandiose. The sequel carries all the ingredients one can expect from the franchise. The stop motion action is something one gets abundantly for which the movie gets repeated watching. But in terms of script and the denouement, the film falls a bit short to Terminator 2, which somehow feels low in the human drama compared to its predecessors.

Rating: 1 star out of 4.


A touching and poignant human drama
Set during the times of famine, a peasant kills his master's ox to feed his starving family, for which he is slapped a life sentence in a prison under rigorous labor, which is far harsher than what one imagined. Beautifully picturized and acted, the film touches a human theme on survival and plays much on the emotions. There is much to feel and admire in the short plot it moves with. The only flaw I felt was the starving characters were shown a bit well dressed and healthy.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

China Gate

Overlong and muddled
"China gate" has nothing to do with China or the great wall. It's simply a mission led by an exiled army officer with his court-martialed team comprising of old officers to free a village from the tyranny of a dreaded dacoit. Sounds like "Sholay" or Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai." Well, the direction is by a prominent film-maker with an eminent cast in the lead. But the things don't work. The film fails to grip through its hackneyed narrative full of cliches and improbabilities. The acting is good and direction tries to impart some qualities; but still the film is muddled and distasteful which is hard to stay with. Anything, you will remember in the movie is the item song "Chamma Chamma," which gets a greater coverage in the film than its plot.

Rating: 1 out of 4 stars.

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