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Worth Watching
Sketch (played by Vikram) works as a repo-man, and excels at his job. He meets Amuthavalli (played by Tamannaah), a college student, when taking her friend's scooter and eventually falls in love with her. When she sees past the rough exterior to the kind man inside, she begins to care for him, too, despite her parents' objections. Later, to settle an old grievance for his boss, Settu (Hareesh Peradi), Sketch works out a plan to take the classic Fiat of a local gangster, "Royapuram" Kumar (played by Baburaj), an action that sets off a tragic chain of events for Sketch and his friends.

The main story, that of Sketch doing his job, fighting bad guys, and caring for his friends, is entertaining and even occasionally moving. The romance part of the plot is the weak link; there is little chemistry between Tamannaah and Vikram, and though she gives a good performance in general, there is no zing in their scenes together. In the other aspects of the film, however, Vikram is fully convincing as Sketch. The songs and background music are only average, but the cinematography is nicely done and the action scenes are fun. There is a most surprising twist, and the movie is worth watching if only for that.

Thatsamayam Oru Penkutty

Good Start, Inadequate Ending
A naïve village girl, Manjula (Nithya Menon), is chosen for a reality show planned by Zareena (Shweta Menon) of Real TV. The point of the show is to follow Manju from 8 a.m. To 8 p.m. Every day, watching as she deals with real life situations. Manju and Zareena share a flat during the shooting, and become close, with Zareena acting as a mentor to Manju as she navigates the consequences, good and bad, of the show. Manju meets Suryan (Unni Mukundan) and romance seems to be in sight, but things take an unexpected turn, and Zareena must make drastic decisions about the show.

(Cast also includes Maniyanpilla Raju, Siddique, and Baburaj.)

This Malayalam language flim started off extremely good. It is immediately engaging, with a compelling plot, both humorous and touching, and realistic characters. Manju is extremely likable, and was played excellently by Nithya Menon. The chemistry between her and Unni Mukundan was perfectly played, and the relationship between the two women equally good. Nithya Menon, Unni Mukundan, and Shweta Menon were all natural and convincing; the secondary cast also gave strong performances. The music, while not prominent, was generally lovely. The movie looked good as well, nicely filmed and realistic.

Why, then, the three stars?

In the last thirty-seven minutes, Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty fell into a complicated mess culminating in a dissatisfying and underwhelming conclusion. I felt cheated and terribly disappointed.

I would still recommend Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty on the strength of Nithya Menon's performance and the plot of the first two and a quarter hours, but with viewer warned in advance about the inadequate ending.


Well Acted, Wholly Engrossing
Dev Pratap Sharna (played by Vikram), a ruthlessly determined police officer, is transferred to a province to capture the dangerous tribal leader/villain Beera (Abhishek Bachchan). Beera kidnaps Dev's wife, Ragini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), beginning a violent and bloody fourteen day chase that ends in a showdown between the two men.

( Nikhil Dwivedi and Ravi Kishan also feature, with cameos by Priyamani and Govinda)

First off, let me say that a thriller of this sort is not my usual kind of movie. I started it out of curiosity, merely wanting to see how well the married Bachchans acted together, only intending to watch a few minutes. I finished it two hours and sixteen minutes later because they are great together (at times electric), because Abhishek is so convincing he scared the heck out of me, and because Vikram lives up to his glowing reputation. Aishwarya, one of the most beautiful women alive, is impressive in this extremely emotional role. Both the supporting cast and the cameo actors give solid, believable performances, The camera work is stunning -- angles, colors, points-of-view -- and the entire film has a gritty, striking beauty. The music (songs and incidental both) is often haunting and always highly effective. As for the suspenseful story, it is chilling, well-plotted, nicely paced, and wholly engrossing. As I said, not my typical film, but it was fully worth ten stars.

Kadaram Kondan

A medical intern, Vasu (Abi Hassan) has an unknown patient (KK, played by Vikram) in his ward; as the patient was involved in an accident, the police are interested in discovering who he is. Later, Vasu is knocked unconcious at home, and his heavily-pregnant young wife, Aatirah (Akshara Haasan) is kidnapped. Vasu is informed that she will be returned when the unnamed patient is smuggled out of the hospital. Vasu attempts to do so, but instead finds himself on the run with KK, in a desperate race to save his wife.

Let's face it -- this movie is nothing more than an over-the-top vehicle to show off Vikram and his badassery. That being said, it's a lot of fun. Vikram plays his taciturn tough guy perfectly. Akshara Haasan and Abi Hassan (in his debut) have nice chemistry and are convincing in their emotional roles. Other than one song, the music is below average and not used effectively. The action scenes look good, as did the cinematography in general. The plot, though unbelievable, is still engaging and enjoyable. Overall, if you aren't looking for a deep story, this action-packed film will certainly provide two hours of thorough entertainment.

English Babu Desi Mem

Predictable but Moving
English businessman Vikram Mayur ( Shah Rukh Khan) learns that his deceased brother left a son, eight-year-old Nandu (Sunny Singh). Nandu has been raised in India by his young aunt, Bijuriya (Sonali Bendre), who supports them both by dancing in a club. Vikram goes to India to bring Nandu back with him, an event which leads to many emotional complications.

This movie was declared a flop at release, but it's really not bad. The plot is predictable, but at times quite moving. The acting from the leads was solid, but the child actors were fantastic. Young Sunny Singh gave a compelling performance and the actress who played the child Bijuriya was a natural. (Unfortunately, I've been unable to find who this child was for certain, but it may have been Baba Brahmbhatt.) Bijuriya's near-vulgar dance routines are particularly unappealing, however, giving the film a sleazy feel not compatable with the innocence of the rest of the movie. While English Babu Desi Mem is not a stand-out movie, it's mostly enjoyable, and the child actors make it worth watching once.

Dum Dum Dum

Engrossing, Charming, Entertaining
Ganga (played by Jyothika), having scored second in her state in school board exams, wants to go to Chennai to study engineering. Adhi (Madhavan), from the same village, is currently in Chennai studying law, and enjoying his freedom from home. His father and her father greatly esteem each other, and arrange a match between Ganga and Adhi. The young people are in agreement that they do not wish to marry, and secretly work together to stop it. Their attempts fail, and they have just decided that perhaps marriage isn't such a bad fate when a terrible misunderstanding occurs between the two fathers and the wedding is called off. Ganga goes to Chennai to study, and Adhi runs into her there. To their surprise, they fall in love, but the enmity between their fathers is too great.

This movie is a delightful mix of drama, romance, and comedy. All the acting is solid, and Jyothika and Madhavan have excellent chemistry together. With one exception, the music is enjoyable, and there are two particularly nice dance scenes. The plot, though mostly predictable, is engrossing and entertaining. Overall, this is a charming film, and one that I will certainly watch again.

Alai Payuthey

Strong Performance from Madhavan, but Unconvincing
In this romantic drama, Karthik (played by Madhavan) falls in love with Shakti (Shalini), woos her for some time, and eventually wins her. They marry, against the wishes of their fathers, and find that marriage is much more difficult than romance.

The realistic portrayal of marriage is excellently done and the plot is well written. However, it was hard to sympathize with Shakti, whether it was the character or Shalini's acting; Shakti was too sharp and smug, especially when compared to Karthik's openness and innocence (or Madhavan's generally good performance). The music was mostly good, with one song particularly memorable. I expected to fully enjoy this movie, based on reviews, but the difficulty with Shakti and a lack of convincing emotional buildup kept me from completely connecting with the film.


Not Fully Satisfying
Aditya (Vivek Oberoi) falls in love with Suhani (Rani Mukerji) and, after some time, wins her. Both of their fathers are against the match, but they choose to marry anyway, sure that love will overcome all problems. Instead, they discover that marriage is a difficult game of give and take, and they struggle to keep faith with each other.

This romantic drama is a remake of the 2000 Tamil film, Alaipayuthey, which gives a realistic view of marriage. Oberoi and Mukerji have generally good chemistry, and make an attractive couple. Mukerji gives a convincing performance throughout, but Oberoi's emotions are not convincing in the end scenes. Shah Rukh Khan and Tabu give an extended cameo appearance, but their chemistry is decided lacking, and what should have been some of the most moving scenes fell rather flat. However, Tanuja, who plays Suhani's difficult mother, gave an excellent performance. The songs were mostly beautiful, with the incidental music being used quite effectively. Overall, I found the movie to be entertaining, but with an ending too abrupt to be fully satisfying.

Ramji Londonwaley

Strong Performance for Madhavan, Otherwise Just Okay
Ramji (played by Madhavan), an excellent cook from an Indian village, takes a job in London to pay his sister's dowry. When he reaches London, disaster strikes and he finds himself with no identification and no job. He finds help from new friends, and forges an unexpected relationship with a London girl, Samira (Samita Bangargi,) who is his opposite in every way.

This is a cute, feel-good movie somewhat based on Hollywood's 1990 movie Green Card. Madhavan is a good actor and his portrayal of the sweet, naive, and honorable Ramji is well done. Samita Bangargi is not as convincing, and their chemistry was unexceptional. The songs were just average, but incidental music was effective. Overall, while it's not particularly memorable, Ramji Londonwaley is entertaining, and at times moving, mainly due to Madhavan's strong performance.

Jay Jay

Not Terrible, but Not Memorable
Jagan (played by Madhavan) falls in love with Jumuna (Amogha), without knowing her name or address. She is a strong believer in fate, and so writes her details on a 100rs bill, and tells Jagan that if it reaches him within a year, she will marry him. After spending six months searching for her, Jagan -- through no fault of his own -- becomes engaged to Seema (Pooja), the sister of two dangerous politicians. Meanwhile, Jumuna realizes that she cares for Jagan and begins to search for him as well. The two continue to miss crossing paths, while the date for Jagan's marriage draws ever nearer.

The plot of this romantic drama is predictable, and not well-written enough to be convincing. The music is mostly enjoyable, but the Amazon streaming version of this film does not have subtitles for the songs, so it's impossible to comment on the lyrics.

Madhavan delivers a good performance, and Pooja does equally well. Amogha, however, has one main facial expression throughout the movie: dimwitted. She flounders throughout giving the impression of a clueless airhead.

Overall, Jay Jay is an average film, not terrible, but definitely not memorable. I can't see myself rewatching it, or recommending it to others.

Anbe Anbe

Not Bad, but Not Memorable
Cheenu (played by Shaam) is part of a tight-knit, loving extended family. The only thing marring this is the unfriendly rivalry between Cheenu and his cousin Shiva (Yugendran). When Cheenu and Shiva fall in love with the same girl (Vishali, played by Sharmelee), Cheenu must decide between his love for Vishali, and his desire to see his family happy.

The predictable plot is is generally enjoyable, but is hampered by a detracting side-plot. The music is average, with two not-very-appealing item numbers. The acting by the supporting cast was quite good, but Shaam and Vishali were not fully convincing. Yugendran, on the other hand, gave a good performance, and was a much more interesting character (either due to acting or written part) than the other two leads. On the whole, this isn't a bad movie, but it's certainly not memorable.


Sometimes Illogical But Completely Enjoyable
Shailaja (Nithya Menon), daughter of famed philanthropist Shivaji Rao (Sai Kumar), returns home from abroad. She takes a trip to a retreat, where she meets Surya (Nara Rohit) and his household. She falls in love with the kind family, and eventually with Surya as well. However, murder and revenge stand in the way of happiness.

(Cast also includes Nagendra Babu; Rachana Maurya stars in an item number.)

The plot is involved, and isn't always logical, but is still intriguing; there is a particularly good cliff-hanger at the intermission. While the characters are sometimes excessively emotional, the acting is generally good all around, with the leads being particularly unaffected. It was refreshing to see these two appealing principals look attractive in a natural, unsophisticated fashion. The musical numbers are average and below. Due to the music and the, at times, irrational story, I can only give the film three stars; however, I certainly got five stars worth of enjoyment out of it.


This movie follows the life of Bharat (Salman Khan), from his childhood in the midst of the 1947 Partition of India, to age 70, as he and his best friend (Vilyati, played by Sunil Grover) mature, take jobs, and experience life-changing events. Bharat proves himself as a hero throughout, without great feats of daring, simply as the average working man.

Katrina Kaif also stars, with Jackie Shroff, Disha Patani and Tabu in lesser roles.

The plot is made up of six slices of Bharat's life during pivotal moments in his history. As a result of covering so much time, the story isn't profound or particularly emotional, but it is still engaging and engrossing throughout the 155 minute film. Khan was convincing in all avatars, as was Grover. Khan and Kaif have good chemistry, and she, too, gave a solid performance. The child actors portraying young Bharat (Kabir Sajid) and young Vilyati (I couldn't find his name), were also believable. The music isn't exceptional, but is good, with the incidental music being effective. Overall, it's an enjoyable, if not deep, movie that thoroughly entertains.


Enjoyable Masala
Radhe (Salman Khan), a killer for hire, is recruited by an international don to dispose of the rival gang. Radhe works up through the ranks as he successfully murders one foe after another. He meets Jhanvi (Ayesha Takia) and falls in love with her. She reciprocates his feelings, but tries to change him into a better man.

This masala is a good mix of romance, comedy, action, and drama. The plot is engaging, and has a nice twist to it. The music and choreography leave much to be desired, but the action looks great. There is little chemistry between Khan and Takia, unfortunately, but each give an above average performance. Overall, this is a typical Bollywood film, fun and exciting, though violent, which is thoroughly enjoyable.


Engaging Masala
Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) is devoted to his younger brother Veer (Varun Dhawan), but has kept family secrets from him. When Veer falls in love with Ishita (Kriti Sanon), Raj's past romance with Meera (Kajol) comes to light, affecting both couples.

This is an engaging masala film, with generally well-written comedy and drama, and nicely choreographed action sequences. As always, Khan and Kajol have near perfect chemistry, and their acting is excellent. Dhawan was natural and a good comedian, but Sanon was stiff and not fully convincing at times. The songs are mostly good, with one song memorably so, and the incidental music was particularly effective. The locations were beautiful, and the movie looked superb overall. Dilwale is thoroughly enjoyable, just barely missing ten stars, and one worth rewatching.

(Cast also includes Johnny Lever and Vinod Khanna.)

Waqt: The Race Against Time

Fell Short of It's Potential
Ishwar (Amitabh Bachchan) and his wife Sumitra (Shefali Shah) run a toy factory that is successful enough for Iswar to spoil their son Aditya (Akshay Kumar) in every way. Aditya has no interest in the factory, or in taking responsibility for his life. He is satisfied to live off his parents' hard work and talk about becoming an actor. He elopes with his girlfriend, Pooja (Priyanka Chopra), expecting his father to support them. When illness strikes Ishwar, he makes the hard decision to throw Aditya out of the house to force him to become responsible and dependable.

This drama had the potential to be a moving and emotional film, but fell short. Everything about it, excepting the acting of the four principles, was average or below. Bachchan and Shah were especially good in their roles, while Kumar and Chopra gave their usual level of performance. Solid acting alone cannot improve a mediocre movie, though, so the end result was underwhelming.

Thugs of Hindostan

Does Not Live Up to It's Potential
Set in 1795, Azaad (Amitabh Bachchan) and his ward Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh), lead a group of resistance fighters trying to free an Indian kingdom from the British East India Company's rule. The British commander John Clive (Lloyd Owen) sends a small-time confidence trickster, Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan), to infiltrate the band and betray them. (Katrina Kaif also stars, as dancer Suraiyya)

The film has a great premise, and the first thirty minutes were quite good; sadly, the next 134 minutes were not. Instead of being exciting, funny, and enjoyable as shown in the trailer, it was mostly deadly dull. The "surprise" changes of allegiance became increasingly predictable and annoying. The action scenes are too long, as were the (average and below) musical numbers. Kaif's first number was embarrassingly ridiculous and not worthy of either her talent or dignity. Her performance, and that of Shaikh, were stiff and not natural. Owen made an exceptional villain, however. Bachchan and Khan gave strong performances, but that was not enough to redeem the entire movie. I would suggest watching the trailer, as it has all the good parts, and skipping the movie entirely.

Saawan... The Love Season

Truly Bad
Raj (Kapil Jhaveri) and Kajal (Saloni Aswani) meet on vacation in Capetown, and fall in love. When they return to Mumbai, Kajal is saved from an accident by an unnamed reluctant prophet (Salman Khan), who then predicts her death.

(Johnny Lever also stars, as Raj's friend, Funsukh.)

This film is terrible. The first half, when Raj and Kajal meet and fall in love, is tedious, banal, poorly written, and just as badly acted. Even the excellent Lever couldn't save this portion of the film, as his jokes were weak and generally not funny. The music, while not fully terrible, was certainly not good.

The story becomes much more interesting once Khan's character is introduced. He portrays the agonized seer well, and if the focus had been on his character, it could have been interesting and emotional. With the focus elsewhere, though, one good performance from Khan was not enough to make this movie even tolerable.

(Personal note: I finished watching it out of curiosity to see just how awful it would get.)


Thoroughly Enjoyable
Jimmy (Saif Ali Khan) is hired by Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) to teach English to her disreputable looking boss, Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor). Jimmy falls in love with Pooja, who persuades him to help her steal money from Bhaiyyaji. When Bhaiyyaji finds out, he sends a small-town thug, Bachchan (Akshay Kumar), to find them.

This over-the-top action flick is surprisingly enjoyable. The plot, while ridiculous at times, is engaging and fast-paced, with good dialog. It seems apparent that director Vijay Krishna Acharya was strongly influenced by Tarantino, and there are what look like obvious nods to some of his films.

Khan and Kareen Kapoor give solid performances, but Anil Kapoor and Kumar are extraordinarily good in their roles. The action, though often unbelievable, looks great and is well choreographed. The musical numbers are average but the background and incidental music are well-above. This certainly isn't a family movie, due to the violence, but it is a thoroughly fun ride nonetheless.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

Surprisingly Outstanding Movie
This is the story of two broken marriages. Dev (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rhea (Preity Zinta) were college sweethearts, but after an accident leaves him embittered, Dev becomes an emotionally cruel husband and father. Maya (Rani Mukerji) and Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan) grew up together, but though Rishi is thoroughly in love with her, Maya has emotional reservations about their relationship. Dev and Maya meet through an accident and strike up an unlikely friendship; they each encourage the other to fix their marriage. Then the unexpected happens, and brings heartbreak for all involved.

This tear-jerking drama is a surprisingly good movie, despite it's unhappy story line and average music. The plot is compelling and engrossing, as well as being tight and believable, and the characters well developed. The acting from the four principals is fantastic, with realistic emotions and reactions. While the topic is not one I "like", I have to say that this was a stellar movie.

(Dev and Rhea's son is played by Ahsaas Channa, Rhea's boss is played by Arjun Rampal, Dev's mother is played by Kirron Kher, and Rishi's father is played by Bachchan's real life father, Amitabh Bachchan. John Abraham and Kajol both make cameo appearances. )


Insipid and Predictable
Susu (Aayush Sharma) is a failing college student with nothing but Garba on his mind. During Navaratri, he meets and falls in love with Michelle (Warina Hussain), a rich NRI from London, who is top in her university class. Despite the gulf between them, Susu pursues Michelle, but is warned off by her father (Ronit Roy). Michelle returns home after having a disagreeable scene with Susu who, encouraged by his uncle (Ram Kapoor), tries to find a way to reach London to apologize and declare his love.

The plot of this insipid romantic-drama is unrealistic and predictable. This is the debut movie for both principle actors, and neither is impressive. Hussain is too unsure of herself-- nearly shy-- to be a leading lady. While Sharma isn't a bad actor, a hero needs to be either charismatic or handsome, and preferably both. Sadly, he is neither. (What is with that horrible brushed-back hair style?!) He also suffered at the hands of the make-up artists, with thick cosmetics that are extremely obvious. The supporting cast gave good performances, however. The music and choreography are average, though the Garba scenes are lovely. I wavered as to what rating to give it; since I didn't enjoy it, but didn't actively dislike it, I'll rate it five.


Average Action/Adventure Flick
After a series of clever, successful robberies by a motorcycle gang, Assistant Commissioner of Police Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) takes the case personal, and with the help of a minor crook Ali (Uday Chopra) attempts to catch them in the act. John Abraham plays Kabir, the mastermind behind the thefts, with Esha Deol as Sheena, Ali's love interest, and Rimi Sen portraying Sweety, Jai's wife.

This action/adventure film is not an outstanding one. There is no surprise to the plot, it drags in spots (the last ten minutes felt like it lasted three times as long), and is, at times, rather inane. The music and choreography were unremarkable. As there was no depth to the plot, the actors only presented average performances. Despite all that, this popular film was rather fun, and I would consider watching the other two in the series.


Well-Written and Well-Acted Romantic Drama
After 22 years in a Pakistani prison, Hindustani Veer Pretap Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) is assigned a novice lawyer, Saamiya (Rani Mukerji), to review and represent his case. Having remained silent for the years of his imprisonment, he opens up to Saamiya and tells her the story behind his arrest: the love story between him and a Pakistani woman, Zaara (Preity Zinta).

The plot of this romantic drama is gripping, moving, and mostly believable. It portrays Pakistan-India relations sensitively. The music is average and above, with some enjoyable choreography. This is a gorgeous movie, with both costumes and scenery that were breathtaking. Khan and Zinta have excellent chemistry and were entirely convincing. Mukerji played the uncertain but determined attorney well. Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini were cast as Khan's parents, with Kirron Kher as Zaara's mother; the three were, naturally, fantastic. The cast also includes Divya Dutta, Anupam Kher, Zohra Sehgal, and Manoj Bajpayee, all of whom gave solid performances. Overall, this is a wonderfully written and acted film, and I highly recommend it.

Bachna Ae Haseeno

Surprisingly Good
Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) thinks of himself as a lady killer, and seriously breaks the hearts of two young women: Mahi (Minissha Lamba) as a teen, and Radhika (Bipasha Basu) as a twenty-something. Shortly after devastating Radhika, Raj falls in love with Gayatri (Deepika Padukone), only to have his own heart broken. Seeing how it feels, he sets out to try to make amends with Mahi and Radhika.

I was surprised at how good this romantic comedy-drama was. All four leads were convincing, the film work was good, and the story was strong. The music ranged from really terrible to average. (That first song nearly put me off the movie entirely.) I enjoyed the overall movie enough to ignore the bad songs, though, and do recommend it.

Om Jai Jagadish

Worth the Time
Widowed Saraswati (Waheeda Rehman) has three sons: Om (Anil Kapoor), Jai (Fardeen Khan) and Jagadish (Abhishek Bachchan); the family is devoted to each other. Om, much older than his two brothers, is the wage earner and is supporting Jai and Jagadish as they go to college. The movie follows the lives, romances, and dramas of the family over the course of a few years.

While melodramatic at times, this family drama is well written, interesting, and generally entertaining. The music and dancing are average but energetic. Bachchan gave a lively, enjoyable performance. Kapoor didn't show a large range of emotions, but was mostly convincing. Khan was the least credible, in a role that gave scope for much character growth. Rehman played her role well. The three female love interests were Mahima Chaudhry, Urmila Matondkar, and Tara Sharma. Matondkar played a disagreeable character, and did it well. The other two ladies, while not outstanding, were solid. If the viewer is willing to commit to nearly 3 hours, it's worth watching.

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