Movie Reviews

Pad Man

Feb 9, 2018

RadhikaApte, who was the raison d`etre behind the Mountain Man once, is the darling of our Pad Man here. At the outset, let me spell it out: The film is a cure for those who were devastated by Padmaavat. SwaraBhaskar and most of you will find a more agreeable vagina matter here! The first shot of the film is the Pheras being taken by Laxmi (Akshay Kumar) and Gayatri (RadhikaApte). In a strange way (just as all social stories are personal when studied), the narrative is a love story. Rest of it is just happenstance. Hard Fact the film takes up: 44 Crore Indian women still do not use sanitary pads during their menstrual cycle. That is 88 p.c. of Indian women. They use ash, rags, loins, leafs, whatever they can find. Reason: They are too expensive to afford for them. In the film, Laxmi’s wife refused to use the sanitary pad because if all the women in the house started using them, they would have to cut household their milk budget. This hits him like a bolt. Although we get to see nothing of his childhood or teenage because the film avoids flashbacks, the portrait of Laximi’s personality is well-drawn. He is a restless rebel of the persistent kind. Laxmi, based on real life Pad Man ArunachalamMuruganantham from Tamil Nadu is an accidental activist.He is just a man who love his wife. When he sees his new bride using a dirty rag during her periods, he flips. He sets out on a mission of his own – to make sanitary pads. The characters are flesh and blood. Laxmi, being a mechanic who works with weights, tries to understand the sanitary pad first by weight. He conducts tests on himself. He pursues medical college students. As he says, he risks his own and family’s reputation, leaves the village, gets a divorce letter and puts 90,000 Rupees of loan to make a ‘Cheap Machine’ for Pads. The story of a social crusader has never this real in Mainstream Bollywood. There is less pretense and more nuance, more substance and less hammer. And, There are beautiful directorial flourishes.The love triangle has a delightful closure. The light-hearted vivacity of the protagonist sets the tone for the entire film. This is Balki’s one of the best, right around CheeniKum, I would say. The script is superbly crafted and the film, artistically shot.Editing by Chandan Arora is taut. I have a problem with the music. It is loud at times but the bigger problem is the ubiquity of background score. At times, it feels like a Soap-Opera, trying hard to move you. Also, there are the usual village tropes where the costume of the crown and the ensemble, the dialogues are all done in a template. But Pad Man works spectacularly well where performances are concerned. This is Akshay Kumar’s most nuanced performance till date. RadhikaApte’s smile is so bright and innocent that I cannot imagine having invested as profoundly without her. Pad Man tugs. It buffets you out of sleeps. It is also a cure for people who are indifferent about social maladies that afflict us as a nation. But it also is comforting to see the innovation (not just jugaad) to overcome them. Because people, the vast mass of them, are the weakness and equally the strength of the nation. When Amitabh Bachchan (Can Balki do without him?) makes a very special appearance and speaks of India as a nation of a billion minds than a billion people, it makes you proud. The most beautiful thing about Pad Man is it is trying to tell a story in a simple, unassuming fashion. This R. Balki directorial deserves a shout out for its inspired casting. Perfection, I should say. If you are still thinking whether to watch it or not, lets jus book the ticket. Should we?

Tiger Zinda Hai

Dec 22, 2017

Tiger Zinda Hai has several things going right – the 150 Crores budget to start with, spectacular action sequences; It’s a sequel to the runaway hit ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ and Salman-Zafar actor-director pairing. But is that everything one can expect from potboiler?Salman Khan looks rugged, Katrina Kaif looks tough, the director appears excited, the production team has gone all out, and the energy is palpable. So, Tiger Zinda Hai is a cracker or damp? Let`s find out! The film gets to business quickly. Forty Nurses are taken hostage by World’s most wanted Abu Usman. And, Tiger and Zoya, who have settled at Austria with a son, are recalled by their national intelligence agencies, RAW & ISI, for the rescue mission. Abbu Usman puts base on the hospital and the conflict is three-sided. One, the terrorists. Then, there is India and Pakistan doing a covert military operation through Tiger and Zoya and third, there is big boss USA planning an airstrike in 2 days. The plotline is: Will they (headed by Tiger) be able to rescue the nurses in time? A spy thriller recipe is usually four Characters – one for techno and gadgets, one for shooting around, one for emotions (in this case, patriotism) and one for laughs. And of course, Sal-Man. But What ruins the movies these days is too much promotions. You know the plot, that is fine. But going to a movie knowing every single story thread is a bit disappointing, And, for someone who can predict mercilessly, it is a lamentable curse. Well, ditto. So, having embraced my Movie Déjà vu condition, I course along with superspies Tiger and Zoya. Salman Khan as Tiger arrives at Iraq with Swag and Katrina as Zoya follows. Even five years later, Salman and Katrina coming on-screen together is sparkling. It is not like you go expecting romance inan action thriller film but I must say when you get that in the form of Salman-Katrina, it is not so bad. But, beyond the physical chemistry, it is just fizz. What stood out for me in the movie is the ‘Tera Noor’ sequence. It is gold. Just before the sequence, we come to know how innocent teenage girls are kept as sex slaves. So when the song comes along and led by Zoya, retribution happens, it is quite cathartic. With the soulful Sufi in the background and an anguished Zoya killing without mercy, it is a treasure of a scene. The scene also made me reflect about the world what we have done to the world and each other. And you could watch the movie, only for this one. Abu Usman played by the talented UAE-based Iranian actor Sajjad Delfarooz has got ‘swag’ of his own and is the perfect foil for Tiger. He has a menacing presence, stiff shoulders and a mean glance. Katrina Kaif does have the body language but not acting. Paresh Rawal as Firdaus, labor contractor, and raw agent for 25 years, comes in as a comic relief and delivers the goods. Salman, the superstar and Salman, the actor are rarely together. The audience does not care. Salman has a cosmic or karmic connection. When he removes his shirt to use it as a mask, I saw people standing up to cheer. Towards the climax, He goes on a slaughter carnage with a machine gun, with an entire terrorist army, pointing guns and shooting bullets at him while he is not even moving, and comes out completely unscathed. Not a bullet, not a ruffle. The only way to believe this is being a devout Salman Khan fan. The day of the air strike has great build up. Director Ali Abbas Zafar has definitely lived up to the expectations. There is patriotism packaged quite subtly. He has kept the proceedings going briskly and the melodrama trimmed to a delightful baseline. The Music has already rocked the charts and the edit is taut and well-done for a film running over 2 and a half hours. This is, in terms of scale, a highlight film for Bollywood and Salman Khan. In terms of cinematic effort, may be next time. I am going with 3 out of 5 and a recommendation for sure watch.

Fukrey Returns

Dec 8, 2017

The credits come early and, like a proper sequel, summarize the first part with a song. Memory refreshed and mood set, enter Hunny and Choocha who have got to defecate in the forests by Yamuna bank. When Hunny whistles, Choocha warns him not to because Black Cobras respond to whistles. And does that happen? Yes, and the cobra bites Hunny on the bum. Wait, then it morphs into Bholi Punjaban as Naagin. Choocha sucks the venom out of Hunny’s behind and then, with excitement, breaks into a dance with her. The dream ends with his mother’s flying chappal hurled at Choocha. One thing I have learnt as a Bollywood cine-goes is: You gotta go with the spin to avoid lamentations! I was primed for the film’s no-holds-barred madcap humor. When later in the film, the black cobra appears again, this time to bite Choocha, he insists they Hunny sucks the venom out (on account of what he did in the dream previously). It cracked me up. Occasionally, the film shines with mischievous writing and you find yourself chortling. But, Is the sequel as good as the first? Let’s find out.To be fair, the film has its ascents and descents. The film slacks when it gets coiled by the hangover of the first but it scurries out easily without cloying by virtue of its light and coarse charm. If you have seen Fukrey, you know the characters well enough. Hunny interprets Choocha’s dreams to get the winning lottery numbers. Then you have Pandit and Zafar and Bholi. In the first part, because of the Fukrey Boys, Bholi ends up behind the bars. This time, the plot begins with her getting out by making a deal with the minister that involves a payback of 10 crores. She gets the Fukrey boys together, tied to a shaft, and suggests they devise a plan to raise 10 crores to amend their wrongs. Naturally, their ultimate resort is lottery. They collect money from public and invest. We have the villain in Babulal Bhatia (Rajiv Gupta) as the scheming politician who runs the lottery business in Delhi. He sniffs the plan and traps them by changing the winning number at last minute. This ensues an outlandish series of events which is ultimately ‘good vs evil’. Here the biggest plot device is Choocha’s newest gift, promotion, which he calls Deja-Choo There are a lot of characters in the film, each given their traits and backgrounds to build believability. Pulkit and Varun get some meat. Apart from a sparkling Pankaj Tripathi and a terrific RIcha Chaddha, the rest of the cast is reduced to hangnails. The girls are just dolls. But pleasantly, the film underplays and withholds when required. We do not get to see much of Hunny’s background or We never see Choocha’s father although he is referred to and even occupying the frame twice in the movie. The film has a conscious socio-political backdrop. I would like to believe that the trans-Yamuna life, appearing as a constant stark motif (a metaphor for how cankered the city has become) that even makes you cringe sometimes, is a deliberate insert. The music is not interruptive and blends beautifully with the flow. And I think the sequences are sharp, kudos to the editors. Mrighdeep Singh Lamba ensures that the film plays to the gallery through and through, till the last frame. Not that the film ever promises art, but the entertainment is bubblingwith superlative possibilities. Sadly, what could have been spectacular bundles out like a string of fine gags.Whenever the film moves from real to set, one does wish that some of the budget generously lent to production design could have been utilized for art direction. Finally, the finest aspect of the film is the extremely familiar lingo and mannerisms of the East Delhi Boys and the likable Panditji (Pankaj Tripathi). They draw you into the delirium of the movie and you happily stay invested. I suggest you go watch it.

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