lamemoviesguy

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Reviews

Gully Boy
(2019)

Watchable but very predictable
The film is watchable for Zoya's direction and Siddhant's performance. There is nothing new in the film - it is the age-old underdog story, and I have seen much better depictions of the underdog story in world cinema. Some sections/ communities of the society may be able to connect with the film and its characters, but I could not. Also, if you are from Mumbai, you may like the film. In terms of performances, Ranveer is better here than in some of his last films. Alia has acted like she always does - just being the normal herself. The real performance for which to check out this film is Siddhant's. This is an actor to watch out for. Disclaimer: There is too much rap in the film. I have tried to be as impartial in my review as possible - if you are not a fan of this so-called "music" like myself, you may not like it.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi
(2019)

Mindblowing !
Literally, by the end of the movie my brain had been blown to bits - in a good way that is. The second half of the movies is so shockingly intense that I, for one, wanted to join in the battle, particularly because I saw the movie on a big screen. And that seems to be the main goal of the film-makers here - bring the legend of the great warrior queen, sensationalized not only by historical records but also a famous Hindi poem by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, alive on screen, so that you can live the experience of the events that occurred more than one and a half century ago. And how the film succeeds in doing so!

Performance (especially Kangana, though the supporting cast is exceptional too), costumes, score, cinematography - everything in the film works very well. Editing could have been better - in many places, the events feel disjointed, though admittedly, because the screenplay had to jump places, I cannot imagine what could have been done to make it more easy-flowing. Kangana;'s performance goes a full arc from an innocent but brave teenager, a wife and lover, a mother and to finally a patriotic warrior, and she nails every shade with priceless facial expressions.

To be clear, if you are expecting a multilayered biopic that explores the Rani's character in depth, this movie is not that and it is very obvious that the film-makers did not have that goal in mind. The Rani is therefore depicted somewhat like a real-life superwoman from the annals of history, and just like 'Gandhi' did for Karamchand Gandhi, everything in the film, including the supporting cast, has the sole purpose of polishing that image of Rani Laxmibai's as a virtuous warrior and a superwoman. I think it is very important for the audience to understand what expectations to go into the theater with.

Having said that, it should be mentioned that the audience will be treated to a pretty well-depicted backstory of the Rani's life in the first half - before she became the "veerangana" who fought the British. It would not be incorrect to say that if you love emotional drama, the first is your half of the movie and if you love action, the second is your half.

To conclude, you are in for a huge treat if you are Kangana's fan and if you have loved movies like 'Braveheart', 'Gladiator' and '300' - this movie glorifies the Rani's saga in pretty much the same manner that '300' glorified that of the Spartans.

Padmaavat
(2018)

My bad, again!
I keep making this mistake - I keep going to watch Bhansali's films hoping that perhaps someday, one of them will work for me. But none does.

I think it is because Bhansali has a totally different understanding of films from me and perhaps also because he has a very different worldview from me. For Bhansali, a film is about razzle-dazzle, exquisite sets, wondrous special effects, cheesy and over-the-top dialog, naach-gaana, and characters with natures as uncomplicated as a straight line and motives as clear as ice. For me, a good film is about inspiring or otherwise remarkable events, difficult aspects of human life and human emotions, and questions that land us in gray territory. And Bhansali's worldview is what I would term partly regressive and partly confused while I would like to believe that I hold progressive views.

And so Bhansali's movies don't work for me.

Let me conclude not by saying why you should not watch this movie, but by explaining why this may be the cinematic event of the year for you - If you think that a queen should be a puppet of her king, that aaan-baan-shaan where men do foolish things and lose kingdoms while women commit jauhar is a good rather than a stupid thing, that homosexuality is a sign of evil, that religions and cultures other than your own are chronically uncivilized and evil, then this is by all means the movie, nay a masterpiece, for you.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(2017)

Best non-animated film of 2017
This is among the most fun I have had at the movies in the last three years, and all without any other-worldly or superhero fanciful b**t. Yes, the story does have its dramatic twists and turns bordering on incredulous at times, but what's a good plot without some of those, and reality can be stranger than fiction. (Take any Shakespeare play for instance.)

The screenplay is fraught with human emotion and serves as an excellent case study of human behavior. A word of caution about what to expect - akin to a lot of good art, the movie's objective is to raise questions and paint a grey picture of the trials of humanity such as regret, grief, anger, revenge, racism without actually providing any firm solution. I think that is what makes it so brilliant and real.

And I have seen very few, if any, performances that are as good as McDormand's in this film. Every bit of muscle, every tiny line on her face appears capable of displaying an incremental change in emotion. It is phenomenal. The full cast is superb, but I particularly also loved Woody Harrelson's turn as Willoughby in a small but critical role.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who is looking to watch a movie about human nature and real-life issues. It ranks among the best I have seen in the last few years.

Simran
(2017)

Engrossing and well-performed
So finally Simran is out after a 2-3 week drama surrounding its main actor's real life. And even though most of the audience who has seen the movie appears to be liking it, the film has received mixed response, even if mostly positive (primarily so because of Kangana's performance), from Indian critics.

Here's my take on what makes the movie work and what holds it from becoming a memorable cinematic piece.

I found the movie really engrossing. It slows a little bit in its second half before picking up again. What I want from a movie in the first place is that it should really hook me to my seat and Simran delivers.

I am sure that I do not need to talk about performance. Kangana seems to be getting better with her every movie that comes out, leaving her contemporaries far behind.

The story-line is quite new for Hindi cinema - it is about a flawed protagonist who lets simple human aspirations get out of hand and ruin her life. Bombshell Bandit, whose real life is the inspiration for this drama, was described by the American judge hearing her case as "one of the criminal minds that the court does not understand". It is about a very gray character - who does things we absolutely do not approve of, yet her personality and the movie make her appear innocent and somewhat likable.

And it is not just the criminal who is hard to understand but also the people around her. That she is able to rob banks based on handwritten threats and fake revolver may seem nonsense and hard to believe, but they are true to the real-life story of Bombshell Bandit. (It is probably not that the American police could not catch her, but that they probably deemed that the amounts robbed were not big enough to warrant resources for a full-fledged forensic investigation.)

That said, the movie gets messy, very messy in fact, in the second half. It is a tough topic to handle and the first part of the movie does very well. At the end of the day, this is a tragic story to show and there are no two ways about it. As Praf gets into more trouble, the movie becomes very difficult to watch for a lot of audience - after all, so many have tried their hands at gambling and felt the urge to continue. I wish the screenwriter and director had maintained the honesty of the first half of the movie in the second half, and let the story take its course. Instead, they try to assuage the audience's experience by attempting to make the robberies look light-hearted and funny (with a lively score in the background!). All the mood and the intensity that the first half has invested so much in building suddenly comes apart, and the movie begins to appear contrived and fake. Come on - these are bank robberies! Simran commits her first robbery as if it were plucking an apple from a wild tree. This is the first time she is committing a robbery - would she feel no mental dilemma and hesitation?? Though developed very well in the first half, suddenly, Simran's character appears to be a joke in the second half. And what's with Simran enjoying romance and ballads in the midst of all mental trouble? I almost feels that two different people have made the two halves of the movie.

Some people may complain that the movie packs too much and jumps over genres, but that is what real drama ought to be like. Nobody's life is a monotonous track; we live our lives in some moments of exhilaration/ comedy, some of dullness and some of tragedy; so why should any good drama be different? However, it takes extreme talent to pull off comedy in amidst suspense and tension, and the screenwriter and director are missing that flair here.

To its credit, the movie spans multiple themes, such as bad habits (esp gambling), bad company, women's (particularly divorcée) aspirations, immigrant life, marriage and sex, love, etc. but only manages to scratch the surface. In a mature Western society, these may merely be matters of common existence, but in Indian society, each of these can take on the role of a solo theme in itself and so the Indian audience can potentially feel confused and exhausted. I wish they had focused on driving home the messages of gambling dangers and lost American dream with more intensity.

Rangoon
(2017)

Nothing like Rangoon from Hindi cinema in recent times
Like many Bharadwaj movies, Rangoon is well-suited to audiences willing to use imagination/ thought to appreciate the complexities of the characters he depicts and the worlds he creates.

The on-going fever in Bollywood is movies with "strong" female characters. By contrast, Rangoon gives us a female character who is a captive of another man and is weak, confused and vulnerable. Bharadwaj is not interested is presenting us with a caricature that would be loved and cheered by audiences or, for that matter, critics, who have senselessly come to expect an actor of the caliber of Ranaut to always assay strong female characters. His interests lie is depicting the brutal truth of how female employees have sometimes been treated by their male employers – and this truth can really extend beyond employment. He is interested in showing the havoc that captivity can inflict on the psyches of captives, be they a single individual or a whole nation. Note how Julia, as a stunt-woman, possesses the strength and skills to physically save a man's life. However, she is mentally and emotionally weak. Bharadwaj is interested in emphasizing this difference between physical strength gained by practicing certain skills, and emotional/ mental strength. That Bharadwaj can depict this dichotomy so beautifully is evidence of his immense skills as a filmmaker.

Bharadwaj also draws parallels between the captivity of a female by a seemingly adoring yet absolutely domineering male employer, aka Rusi, and the captivity of a nation by a race that while liking her local culture believe in their own superiority, aka Harding. (Audiences may be aware of the "burden of white man" remarks of the Nobel winning author of The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling). At one point, Nawab makes a pointed remark about the psychology of the captive race when he states "… perhaps that is why we are slaves of the white man." The film tops it off by digging into the reasons for Rusi's domineering attitude.

Despite being the most interesting, Julia's is a relatively straightforward character in the plot - a far-cry from Ranaut's previous outings. Julia remains a weak and vulnerable female character from beginning to the end. However, it is by no means an easy role in terms of the range of emotions Ranaut has to depict, and she also gets to showcase her skills in dancing and on-screen action. Once again, Ranaut proves that she is one of the best that Hindi cinema has ever seen. I particularly enjoyed the sword face-off between Julia and Rusi. Saif Ali Khan, as Julia's domineering employer Rusi, gives one of the finest performances by a male actor in Hindi cinema in recent times. Be helplessness when he sees Julia slip away, jealousy/ anger when he encounters Nawab, or confusion when in dilemma between the British and the patriots, his expressions are point on. Shahid Kapoor provides sufficient credibility to the character of Nawab Malik, the soldier who steals Julia's heart away and starts a chain of faux patriotism. Richard McCabe as Major General David Harding is sufficiently menacing and fun to watch. Saharsh Shukla as Zulfi and Lin Laishram as Mema are pitch- perfect in their crucial roles.

Let's talk about why you are in for a big loss if you do not watch this movie on the big screen: 1. VB's imagination: The movie provides Vishal Bharadwaj a blank canvas on which he paints mind-blowing and memorable images, with attention to the minutest details. India in the era of 1940s comes alive on screen. 2. Cinematography: From breathtaking shots of outdoor Arunachal locales to engrossing shots of parties, the cinematography provides an undeniably strong support to the film. 3. Production Design: Well-researched and exquisite sets transport you to India and Burma of the 1940s. 4. Performances: This is easily one of the best ensembles in a Hindi movie in recent times and several close-ups of Julia's and Rusi's visages call for big-screen viewing. 5. War scenes: There are not many of these, but the few that exist are breathtaking.

Having said all things nice, let me point out a few things that, in my mind, hold this movie from becoming a masterpiece. 1. Emphasis on pre- interval half: Make no mistake, the movie is as much a war-time drama as it is a "love triangle". The movie should have focused more on the central plot, majority of which occurs in the second half. Some unnecessary threads in the first half (such as the beginning war scene or the Japanese captive episode) could have been easily shaved off. 2. Crowding of characters in the film: The movie should have focused on the four protagonists (Julia, her lovers, and the British general) and the essential side-characters such as Zulfi and Mema. Presence of dispensable characters such as the Maharaja and the Japanese captive muddies the plot. 3. Ambiguous depiction of Julia's character: Julia is the most vulnerable character in the film. Though well-trained in stunt skills, and having a couple of "coming-of-age" moments, Julia never really achieves full independence as a free-thinking human in the film. Therefore, having an ode-song devoted to her character early-on in the movie is somewhat misleading, particularly for audiences who are not familiar with VB's Shakespearean style, leading to disappointment later. 4. Unnecessary use of background music: For example, silence would have been way more effective at the point where Nawab and Julia discover the mine in the trench. 5. Some incredibility of the climax: For the most part, the climax is a fitting finale for the characters the movie has invested in building. However, a certain feat performed by one character could have been more credible had we seen them perform it earlier in the film. Also, the climax does not allow sufficient time for the characters to depict their new leanings on- screen.

Do not miss this great Bollywood spectacle while still in theaters.

Dear Zindagi
(2016)

A downgrade
While spending evening-show bucks on this uninspiring movie yielded no benefits, seeing its current rating on IMDb certainly provides some valuable insight - a sizable chunk of Indian movie audience, both in India and abroad are clinically depressed. (I still think, though, that their money was better spent on finding a durable cure with a counselor instead of fleeting escapist cinema.) For there is no other reason that someone can like this movie - the plot is minimal, the direction has nothing new to offer and is actually amiss, music is forgettable, the acting, while effective at places, fails to build or even vibe with the movie's atmosphere. I should perhaps elaborate on this last clause - make no mistake, Alia provides a remarkable performance in several scenes, but her characterization of the protagonist is very one- dimensional - you cannot help but think that she is just being herself in some of the movie's unabashedly cheesy dialog. Shahrukh is rightly cast as a charming counselor, but the movie's almost-non-existent plot puts the burden of its success on Alia's and the director's shoulders. Just like English Vinglish (the director's first movie), the movie's heart is in the right place, but unlike English Vinglish, this one fails in delivery.

Bajirao Mastani
(2015)

A huge disappointment!
Poor performances from the lead pair, unnecessary melodrama, childish and cheesy dialog, excesses of glitter and slow motion, and worst of all, amateurish direction, completely derail this movie. The source material is really strong and could have led to a classic if properly handled, but the film director and actors fail miserably and make a big mess of it. The only reason I have given the movie even 4 stars is owing to a few good performances, particularly Tanvi Azmi and Priyanka Chopra.

I hope some day a good director will remake the movie with good actors and present this timeless story with all the layers that it potentially carries.

The Homesman
(2014)

Amazing - loved it
I haven't seen this good a Western in years, and to me, it certainly stands as one of the best Westerns out there. It is a Western with a difference - not about quest for wealth, business or territory, but about a seemingly simple (but grandly humanitarian) task of delivering three crazy women across the uninhabitable territory of the West.

With only a backdrop of the West, the movie has a lot to say about universal and eternal facts of life - personal hardships and struggles, unkindness of greed-driven individuals, history's tendency of obscuring truly credit-deserving individuals , etc. As always, Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones deliver excellent performances.

I would recommend the movie to anyone who wants to watch a Western or a period film with more sense than senseless, firing guns.

Inside Out
(2015)

Beautiful movie!
It is among the best animation movies I have ever seen. The animation in the movie is characteristic of Pixar and nothing new, but the cleverly novel concept of the story stands out. Light humor added to a brilliant story makes the ride so much more joyful. My favorite character in the movie (sadly) is sadness.

Without giving away too much, I must state that the movie will not be fully appreciated by kids, not for any adult situations but for the abstract concept and the movie's figurative approach to it. However, teenagers and adults should surely appreciate and contemplate upon this beautiful film. While most of commercial Hollywood today seems immersed in superheroes, aliens and similar other nonsense, here is one movie that, while still taking the imagination approach, makes such meaningful statements about our real life.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns
(2015)

Wow - just wow!
And it's a wow for the full team of TWMR - the actors, the director, the music director(s), the producer(s), the editor, the art director(s) and even the costume designer - these guys have created sheer magic on screen! More on that later.

Let us talk of weaknesses/ disappointments first. No - unlike most other great reviewers here and elsewhere, I have absolutely no problem with the climax - in my view, like any good Shakespearean comedy, the movie is about the events and human behavior that lead to the climax rather than the climax itself. And I absolutely loved the second half of the movie. In fact, two of my favorite scenes from the movie are the one where Tanu wanders out with a song by Geeta Dutt in her drunk head and gets a short-hair wig attached, and the one where she dances to "Ghani Bawri" like a crazy lady in distress. It is in the first half that I have my biggest discomforts with the movie - I found that half way too hurried. No doubt the first half has very clever scenes and sharp dialogs, but its racy pace fails to explain certain situations in the movie. How does Kusum Sangwan fall in love with a married man twice her age, which appears to happen in a single song? - perhaps love is blind and crazy and all that, but I feel that needed a bit more support from the screenplay. One of my favorite scenes from the first half is Tanu and Manu's face-off before the psychiatric panel - the dialogs and acting in that scene are mind-blowing - however, a single outburst of anger is not enough to imprison someone for aggressive behavior - that also needed a bit more support from the screenplay. Basically the movie's structure reminded me of Benigni's "La vita è bella" - hilarious in the first half and somber in the second. Yes, I can understand that such a structure makes the emotional impact of the second half more forceful but the first half needed a little bit (not a lot) of extension to put everything perfect. For the sake of completeness here, I should mention that another amazingly witty scene in the first half is where Manu's mom continues a monologue about electricity while her husband and son are conversing in another room - what a talent of extracting comedy from simple and realistic situations and characters!

Now the good (other than what's already above). Everything is good and some things are outstanding. The movie is one of the most entertaining I have seen in years - across Bollywood and Hollywood.

Screen-play (story and dialog) is superb, just superb. Make no mistake - as the title says, this still is Tanu and Manu's story - all others are side characters - a reviewer from "The Hindu" said very correctly - the movie can be given the subhead "The taming of Tanu". It is a Shakespearesque comedy with twists, some of them not so believable owing to lack of support from the play, but highly entertaining. This movie is an example of how excellent performances easily conceal the flaws of the play. The dialogs in the movie are however mind-blowing - one cannot but appreciate the sense of humor of the writer.

Music is wow. I cannot imagine any other background score or songs could have supported the screen-play so well. My favorites are "Ghani Bawri" and "Move On". Having heard the songs earlier on, I was looking forward to "O Saathi mere" but it was missing from the version I watched (in USA).

Regarding acting, Madhavan is outstanding. His stolid facial muscles, expressions and eyes say it all. Swara Bhaskar is excellent in her role and so are Jimmy Shergill and Deepak Dobariyal. I do not know the name of the actor who plays Tanu's new lover in this sequel but he is outstanding. And of course, Kangana owns the movie. By now, most people appreciate what a performer she is - this is her best so far - easily reminds one of Meryl Streep. The characters in order of my liking of the performances: 1. Tanu, 2. Kusum, 3. Manu, 4. Tanu's new lover, 5. Tanu's dad, 6. Tanu's friend, 7. Raja, 8. Pappiji, 9. Manu's mom, 10. Tanu's mom.

I do not know who other than Rai could have directed this movie - while at the helm such an outstanding ensemble cast, he paints such a beautiful but totally realistic tapestry of north Indian life - be it UP, Punjab or Haryana, and this one has a little mix of Gujarat also thrown in. Sounds and visuals in the background, the small banal activities, the chaos, public behavior and attitude - it is all there to a T. The direction of the movie reminds one of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, but Rai has his own style. Kangana has been given enough space to show her talents. Madhavan has been asked to provide a restrained performance. Their odd chemistry sparks on screen. I felt in my heart the loss of Tanu and Manu splitting, thanks in part to the second half of the movie having been given time and space for emotions to develop. When a prominent character in the movie stated on screen that "nobody" is happy from Manu's second marriage, that "nobody" included me.

This movie is a grand mix of old and new styles of Hindi cinema, not meaning that it does not have its own unique style. It is an absolute must-watch. Do not over-analyze - just enjoy!

Haider
(2014)

An exceptional cinematic experience for anyone, anywhere in the world
The movie "Haider" proves that Bollywood has evolved and that India has now some bold filmmakers like Vishal Bharadwaj. This outstanding movie with a mind-blowing performance by Tabu deserves 10 stars, but I am holding one star because the movie fails to come off as unbiased and the movie could have done with better editing and zero romantic songs.

First, the movie shows a realistic Kashmir - this is not the heavenly Srinagar of old Hindi movies, and the movie realistically depicts one of the problems that the people of Kashmir face. But here the movie should have balanced opinion in order to appear neutral. While the movie clearly shows things as seen with the eyes of terrorists or budding terrorists (Roohdar and Haider) and makes a case for these people to dislike Indian Army, it fails to explain why the Army has to resort to the measures that it does. The movie does not explicitly show the murders and the guerrilla war that the Army has to suffer at the hands of the terrorists. Even when the Army arrests Haider's dad, the doctor, for harboring terrorists in his home, the movie provides the counter-argument that the doctor is on "life's side". We then go on to see one of the primary characters, Haider, turn against the Army in search of his dad - and there is little ambiguity here - the filmmaker clearly wants you to sympathize with Haider. The only thing to the movie's credit in this matter is the message of peace borne by the protagonist Ghazala - yes, Ghazala, and not Haider, is the true protagonist of the movie because she plays the upper hand in all events including the climax - Bharadwaj has shifted the center of gravity of Shakespeare's play from Hamlet's dilemmas to Gertrude's mind.

Screenplay is mostly perfect but slips at a few places. One of the strongest points of the movie is its ending. The screenplay puts a surprising twist to the Shakespearean drama. In a way, this is the movie's way to try to balance the case it has built for violence and revenge.

Direction and cinematography are superb. Editing is also good, except the romantic songs, whose presence in the movie, first of all, I do not know the reason for, but worse, which have been inserted into the movie at the most unfitting moments. They actually end up making the viewer impatient instead of providing any respite.

I would give primary credit for the movie to the performances, and above all, to Tabu. Ghazala is heart-breaking and her eyes and facial expressions speak volumes. Lending her full support is Kay Kay Menon in a highly convincing villainous Kashmiri role. Shahid Kapoor, as Haider, is exceptionally good in the second half of the movie, but not so convincing in the first half. The only weak link in the cast is Shraddha Kapoor and clearly stands out as an under- performing novice among veterans - fortunately, she has pulled off her last scene well - which is where her character really matters.

All in all, "Haider" is a must-see Bollywood affair. It will leave you deeply moved and make you think. However, remember that the movie succeeds in making the case for only one side of the full picture, the main reason it loses one star in my rating.

Queen
(2013)

Must watch - highly recommended for all, men or women!
GO and WATCH this movie in theater. Bollywood needs high quality movies like this, which are not only meaningful but also provide full entertainment and fun without appearing pretentious/ fake. These are the kind of movies that need to make money so that producers invest in them.

I feel a bit out-of-league reviewing this movie. When all the movie critics and stalwarts of Bollywood such as Karan Johar and Aamir Khan have highly praised this movie and Kangana Ranaut's performance in almost unanimous voice, it really leaves one with nothing more to say. So I am going to only mention few things in more detail.

Ranaut's performance: One of the best performances to come out of Hindi cinema in several years, this is not about shedding tears, yelling, looking cute/ gorgeous or dancing (which interestingly accounts for "good acting" for most Indian audience). It is marked by subtleties, such as faintly raised eyebrows, shrunk nose, narrowed eyes, aversive gaze, awkwardly positioned arms/ legs, contorted body, crestfallen face, shadow of a smirk, etc. Even when she cries, her wailing makes you wonder if you are really watching an act? Ranaut, who in real life is well-known as a fashionista, has transformed her body language, her mannerisms and her expressions completely for this role. One thing is certain - it is hard to imagine any other actress in this role and hard to imagine this movie without Kangana Ranaut as Rani.

Vikas Bahl's direction: The credit also goes to the director, Vikas Bahl. Without him, the movie could have been a wreck. The movie has a very simple plot and is therefore not an easy story to make a movie with. But Bahl manages to steer clear of all traps for derailment that the story provides. The movie may seem a bit slow in the middle, but then, without sufficient time to develop the emotions and attitude of the character, the movie would not be as effective. He is also one of the very few directors who have managed to utilize Ranaut's potential as an artist. I heard in an interview that Bahl allowed Ranaut creative freedom, allowing her even to pen her own dialogs for some parts of the movie - wish all those control freaks out there are hearing!

Story/ Screenplay/ Dialog: Rani's challenges in this story are not hers alone - they are the trials of every person, man or woman, who has felt diffident owing to their cultivated nature or low-spirited when bowed down by circumstances. This is a story of gaining perspective and discovering one's potential through travel, cross-cultural exposure and external support. That is why the story is so meaningful for every person. One of the reasons the movie works is because it has realistic dialog - dialog as Indians use in normal daily life, nothing cheesy that Hindi movies are so used to.

Music: The movie is aptly supported by Amit Trivedi's foot-tapping and innovative score. That said, if I could, I would either eliminate some songs or shorten them just to reduce the length of the movie.

Entertainment factor: Make no mistake, this is NOT an "art film" or parallel cinema. This is a highly entertaining and fun movie that also happens to be high quality and meaningful. Though the protagonist of the movie is a woman, the movie is equally entertaining for all men and women.

Poirot
(1989)

Historic
It is the end of 2013 and on TV, "Poirot" has bid farewell to Hastings with words reflecting on the validity of the criminal methods that he spent his life investigating and of course, the usual chiding of his friend for "lacking the little gray cells". It is a sad moment in the history of television because "Curtain" has closed on one of the most beloved characters and one of the most brilliant series ever made for television.

David Suchet's Poirot has gone down in history as one of the most brilliant and convincing portrayals of any character on screen. His performance supported by convincing performances from Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson, Pauline Moran and a long list of guest actors factored along with the largely faithful depiction of Christie's novels that never failed to maintain the true spirit of her plots, gave this paradoxically unassuming and self-effacing series (in contrast to its self- congratulatory and arrogant protagonist) a long successful air-life of a quarter century, surviving successfully, based solely on the quality of its programming, for 24 years from 1989 to 2013.

I am reminded of Lord Tennyson's words - "men may come and men may go, but I go on forever." Several series have come and gone since "Poirot" started airing and several with continue to come and go, while Poirot continues to entertain us through repeat airings and DVD sets.

Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela
(2013)

Ram! Ram! save me
I will not talk about the plot for there is none to be talked about - we all are already well-familiar with the age-old story. But I do have to say that the movie also failed in the departments I had expected it to fare better.

The over-dose of colors and lavish sets gave me a headache. In fact, it felt that those colors had a character of their own - as if they, not the humans, were the protagonists of the movie, for the human protagonists have been so poorly acted (rather they have been so over- acted) that the colors are anyway a better asset for this movie.

Talking of performances, the single-most positive thing about this movie is Supriya Pathak's performance. I have always known Deepika to be someone who cannot act and this movie just confirms that belief, but her co-star in the movie was no better either - both of them provided a commendable show of their anatomical assets to the respective target audiences. Their so-called and highly publicized chemistry, I found to be non-existent. They appeared like two kids playing banal jokes on each other - err... perhaps that these jokes involved revolvers makes them adult. And Ms. Chopra was of course not going to be left behind - she might have succeeded in titillating the rikshaw-wala audience by dancing with an unbuttoned dress.

Talking of revolvers, this movie is nowhere near to reality; not that I expected much, knowing that it is Bhansali's movie, but a realistic modern twist to Shakespeare's play could have been somewhat likable.

I will not talk of direction, etc. for the risk of sounding pretentious, because one can only direct when one has good material to begin with.

The last thing I will talk about is verbal vulgarity. The dialogues in the movie are not romantic; they are horny and outright vulgar. If this was required to support the movie storyline, it would have been another matter. But the plot of the movie does not at all require any such vulgarity. It appears to be just a strategy to titillate the masses, like most other things in the movie. This is the kind of trash Bollywood makes and then people in India wonder why India has such huge number of rape cases. Shame on Bhansali!

Tanu Weds Manu
(2011)

Wow!
I had watched "Tanu Weds Manu" when it had released - without much attention to details, but I recently watched it again, this time more carefully, and I must say, what a movie! The subject of the movie is not complex; it has a very simple but realistic storyline. What holds one's attention throughout the movie are the performances of the actors, Kangana and Madhavan, and the very realistic representation of north Indian culture in the movie. Kangana is a superb actress, by far the most versatile actress in Indian cinema at this time. After her understated and subtle roles in movies like Gangster, Woh Lamhe, Fashion(in which she simply blows your mind away) and Life in a Metro, I was also floored by her dance with Hrithik in Kites, but here she does even better with her wonderful and so believable expressions. She has a very difficult role because the whole movie is basically about her character - she has to appear naughty, stupid, childish, free-spirited, sincere, love-struck, has to perfom high energy dance and overt gestures and expressions, but at the same time, also pull off moments of subtle emotion and expression in the movie, and boy - she does it all with aplomb! A lot of people may hate her character in the movie particularly if you do not like the kind of girl she portrays, and if you do, that itself says a lot about her performance. Her performance in the movie alone is worth the movie ticket. Madhavan is also absolutely suited to the sober role he has been given. The movie was not particularly liked by most people from south India or Indians residing abroad because they could not connect with it, but for someone who knows north Indian culture, the movie is an absolute treat!

Life of Pi
(2012)

Brilliant
So far this is the best movie of the year. It is an entertaining, well-directed, well-performed piece of art. If you want to see what groundbreaking crafts look like, go see it. Yes, the special effects are mind-boggling, especially Richard Parker, the tiger. But only when you look beyond the 3-D and visual effects that hold you in awe for most part of the movie (and that you have probably read in several critical reviews) you begin to see the real genius of the film and its director. This is a Taiwanese director making a movie with a mostly Indian cast, about Indian characters and places and he pulls it off so well (his India is way more credible than the Dickenson India shown in Slumdog).

Life Of Pi is a bold movie made by a bold director who does not shy from making unconventional movies. Yes, it will upset some people for its unconventional subject, and some critics will find the off-beat movie preachy for they have grown so used to understatements and subtleties that they confuse those with art, but nobody can deny the powerful force of the movie. For the most part, the movie has only one human character on screen and yet it never gets boring - slow at times perhaps, but not boring. One last point - the movie could not have been what it is without the actors, particularly the one who plays adult Pi and the young actor who portrays teenage Pi and gives an unbelievable debut performance.

Sur: The Melody of Life
(2002)

Excellent Bollywood venture!
I believe this movie is highly unappreciated. I am surprised that I did not watch this movie until recently. It indicates that this is a movie that lost on audiences for lack of enough advertising. This movie might not be for typical Indian audiences but it is a trend breaker in Bollywood. Certainly it is bound to be unappreciated by someone who is looking for a superficial Bollywood flick with lots of dancing around trees, tons of tears, ... 'Sur' is a great thematic movie which touches on and well deals with the subject of the role of a teacher and the complexities involved when a student outsmarts him. Lucky Ali is great in the movie as the prime actor and the singer. Other actors are also average. M.M. Kareem has established himself as the most talented music director in Indian cinema by providing glittering notes and tunes yet once again. Kudos to Tanuja Chandra for the movie!

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