‘The Xposé’ Movie Review : A dark, mysterious and unintentionally funny story about…    

…well, I could have finished writing the entire plot of The Xposé (mind the é) in the headline itself, but on second thoughts there were so many things I wanted to say – that it resulted in the not-so-brief rant given below.

 [Spoiler alert:  There is nothing I could say that will spoil the movie for you.]

I have never ever gone to the lengths of clicking photographs during a movie and making this kind of photo collage for any celebrity, big or small. But Himesh, you COMMAND my attention.

I have never ever gone to the lengths of clicking photographs during a movie and making this kind of photo collage for any celebrity, big or small. But Himesh, you COMMAND my attention.

Anyways, back to the movie.

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The story is about cop-turned-South Indian acting sensation Ravi Kumar (Himesh) who gets his first break in Bollywood. Two aspiring actresses vie for attention as they work towards their debut movies. Two directors want to make the biggest movies of their lives. One music director sells the same tune to the two directors and has a hot older wife. And love blossoms somewhere along the way. And then someone dies. And they realise it isn’t suicide, but murder. And the story unfolds in the weirdest way possible. Everyone who is anyone in the movie is on the suspect list without a valid reason. The ‘cop’ in Ravi Kumar surfaces to identify the murderer – not by an act of sleuth, but by (believe-it-or-not) screening everybody with his kaatilana nazar. Sweet.

Another collage for the man. And this time Himesh's got a personal meme! Woohoo! This guy is unstoppable I tell you.

Another collage for the man. And this time Himesh’s got a personal meme! Woohoo! This guy is unstoppable I tell you.

Anyways, back to the movie.

It has been a while since I saw The Xposé, but I was finding it a bit difficult to put into words what I felt about the movie. Now that I’ve become coherent enough, I shall express my views as thus –

  • After more than 2 years, Himesh Reshammiya is back – lean, mean and raring to go! He wears a lot more clothes than the actresses – because hell yeah, they are the ones Xposé-ing. However, he wears a lot of lip gloss and endeavours to pout while attempting to appear suave. Aww adorable. Not.
  • The movie has absolutely no premise. The writer has decided to pull up his socks and smoke up while writing the script. Result – there are HUGE gaping holes in the story which are left up to audience to go figure. ‘Involving’ viewers in the story has taken a whole new twist.
  • Most of the cast has the emotional bandwidth of a wrinkled piece of cloth hung to dry in the hot sun (Doesn’t make sense, eh? You get the point now?)
  •  The movie claims to be ‘The Biggest Vintage Musical Thriller of the year’. You see none of these in the movie. Liars.
  • The dialogues are lame duck and delivered with such deadpan expressions by Himesh that they are even funnier. Sample this – “Tere jism mein itna khoon nahi hoga jitna Ravi Kumar ek baar mein moot deta hai” or “Itna marunga ke judge ke order order bolne ke pehle tere liye ambulance order ho jayega
  • Why is Irfan Khan in the movie? Just why?

On a different note, there is apparently a part 2 being considered. Like we didn’t have enough with the first. May God collectively bless our souls.

 

Re-Xpose anyone?

 

‘Yellow’ Movie Review : An extraordinary story of a not-so-ordinary girl

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An irresponsible father, a loving mother, an accusing society, a pitiful uncle, a struggle against all odds, a love story between mother and coach, a school bully, father comes back, preachy messages and a last minute nail-biting finale.

Irresponsible father and loving mother yes, but Yellow stops at that. This is no run-of-the mill sob fest, nor is it a preach-a-thon at the end of which you are left with an overdose of thought. It is a simple story of how a mother’s only wish is to ensure that her daughter gets the respect she deserves from society. Yellow is Gauri’s story.

Gauri has Down’s Syndrome and lives life on her own terms. Her mother Mugdha (wonderfully portrayed by Mrinal Kulkarni) leaves her husband (Manoj Joshi in a small but impactful role) after he attempts to let Gauri drown in hopes to take a chance to restart the family and beget a child who can live his dreams and not one he is ashamed to talk about in public. Mugdha’s brother Shri (Hrishikesh Joshi) supports the mother and child. He is the voice of reason whenever Mugdha doesn’t know the way ahead.

Gauri grows up is stubborn, fun-loving and extremely fond of playing pranks – being ‘Denise the Menace’ to fellow residents in the building. What starts off as swimming lessons to improve eye-hand co-ordination, turns out to be the turning point in Gauri’s life – she finds her true calling and goes on to win a silver in swimming at the Olympics. She is trained by a strict swimming coach (Upendra Limaye in yet another power-packed performance) who leaves no stone unturned to make her a competitive fighter. He refuses to see her as a ‘special’ child and treats her as he would any of his protégés.  One of the most memorable scenes is when the coach digresses from his usual teaching style to teach Gauri the butterfly stroke by incorporating the lesson in a story – and Gauri’s immediate responsiveness to the story as she masters the stroke effortlessly.

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There are no distracting sub plots and the entire focus is on the central character. If she isn’t in a scene, she is being talked about in it.. Debutante director Mahesh Limaye has delivered a fine movie and has managed to extract a brilliant performance from the entire cast. What is most heart warming is to see Gauri Gadgil playing herself in the movie. Any other actor in her shoes wouldn’t have been able to have that impact. With Gauri, you know that every emotion is as real as it can be. You smile when she smiles, you feel satisfied as she sleeps after a hard day at the pool, you get annoyed at the coach for his grueling practice sessions, you feel warmth when you look at her mother smile. And you gotta see this girl in water! Strong powerful strokes, lithe body and the grace of a fish under water – makes you wanna jump off your seat and be a part of her water world!

The movie teaches us to be humane. Its central message is summed up in a line that one of Gauri’s teachers says, “It is important to accept these kids than to expect from them”. Don’t treat these children as a liability. With a little more patience and the right training, they can turn in to assets that you will be proud off – as in case of Gauri’s father when he sees his daughter’s photograph in the newspaper. The movie is not content at just leaving it as a creative narration. It moves beyond and gives a positive insight to its viewers.

At the end of it all, you know there’s much more to Gauri that makes her a ‘special’ child.

 

 

‘Chennai Express’ Movie Review: Derailed. Completely.

 

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Chennai Express was so shamelessly over promoted that the film was quite anti-climatic in comparison. But then again, does the script matter when you have Shahrukh ‘pompous’ Khan shake his booty with Deepika ‘long-legs-hot-bod’ Padukone and Rohit ‘action’ Shetty helming the affair? The makers of this movie definitely think so.

Chennai Express is the story of Rahul who is supposed to spread half of his Dadaji’s ashes at Rameshwaram while his Dadi is willing to take the other half to the Ganga, as per Dadaji’s wishes (how weird is that – but then again, if Rahul didn’t travel south, there would be no ‘Chennai’ Express). But what about the fun Goa plan with hot girls and dizzy nights? Rahul obviously chooses Goa over Rameshwaram, but can’t break poor Dadi’s trust. Bingo! In a flash of genius someone discovers that if the ashes are immersed in Goan waters, they would flow directly to Rameshwaram. (Screw you, Geography). So Rahul decides to deceive Dadi (don’t give a damn if she raised your 40-year-old-ass) and climbs aboard the Chennai Express, with the intention of climbing off midway and making that road trip to Goa.

Fate takes an unexpected turn and parody pops her head when Rahul helps Meenamma (Deepika) board a running train in classic DDLJ style. What follows is 43 seconds of humour which give you some hope to sit through the rest of the movie. However, you are simply reduced to watching a mumbo-jumbo of thrash-worthy, mind-numbingly lame attempts at comedy.

1)      If Meenamma is running away from her family, why is she running to board a train that will take her right to her doorstep? (Screw you, Logic)

2)      Why would a common man fall in love with a Don’s daughter whose cousins don’t think twice before throwing the TC out of a running train?

3)      Why is quarter of the movie in Tamil without any subtitles? (I left my brains home before coming to the theatre dude, don’t make me tediously draw my own conclusions)

 

chennai_express_poster-HDShahrukh Khan has put loads of effort in his over-acting. You fell in love every time Raj spouted romantic dialogues to his love, and felt hopeless when Rahul had to face trouble from his lady’s parents. It is sad to see the once fine actor being reduced to such extensive hamming that you cringe every moment he appears on screen. There is even a scene where he has a completely deranged conversation with a squinted midget who talks in various patterns of ‘Tok-toks’! Hope this is just a phase. We want more from the actor who delivered believable performances in Swades, Chak De and the likes.

 

chennai_350_073113062016Deepika as Meena is cute. Her thick gibberish accent and thick well-applied eyeliner are the only likeable things in the movie. Never mind if the accent gets a bit too irritating towards the end, especially in the emotional scenes. But this girl sure makes lungis look hot!

Rohit Shetty fails to relive the magic of his Golmaal series with the half-baked and half-hearted Chennai Express. Cars chasing, cars crashing, cars exploding – you’ve seen all that before. The dialogues have been shamelessly borrowed from Shahrukh’s previous movies like Baazigar, Koyla, Dil Se and My Name Is Khan. There are moments of respite such as the antakshari sequences which elicit a rare moment of chuckle. However, these are not enough to carry the weight of the movie on their weak shoulders. The story is extremely predictable, the romance forced, the acting shabby and the music forgettable (except ‘I,2,3,4 Get on the dance floor’…quite catchy that one).

C’mon guys, we’ve seen you do better! In the meanwhile, the audience will definitely be excused for missing this train.

 

‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ Movie Review : Stumbling to the finish line

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The promos of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag had the entire country in a tizzy, proven by the fact that the film managed to garner close to 30 crores on the opening weekend itself. How we love our movies glorifying the dregs-to-riches cliché! Everyone gushed about the brilliance of the biopic.  And almost every other person claimed on social websites to be #mesmerised and #inspired to achieve the level of fitness that 39-year-old Farhan Akhtar managed to achieve for the movie.

Fair enough. What then troubled me while walking out of the theatre 3.17 hours later? The length of the movie of course! In this day and age when even one day matches are facing heat from the T-20s, would a test match be able to vehemently hold its own? (Yes, hardcore cricket fans, I see you’ll raising your eyebrows there!) Admit it, most of us find them boring. Yes, we did watch the close to 4-hours long Lagaan and enjoyed every bit of it. But then, there was more to the movie that just one man running.

But let’s not take away from this competently made movie.

The story is about young Milkha Singh, a Partition refugee who is separated from his parents during the ensuing riots.  What follows is his struggle, journey and eventual success in emerging as a sporting hero in the newly independent India. The story of the growth of a care-free lad whose only worry is reaching school on time, to an athlete who refuses to compete in games of national importance due to the harrowing demons of his dreams – is narrated by Gurdev Singh (splendid performance by the underrated Pavan Malhotra), Milkha’s grooming coach in the army.

The movie movies back and forth, often employing flashbacks within flashbacks. However, in this case, the editing is done well enough to not leave the viewer confused.

You are left wishing for a bit more on the achievements by one of the greatest sportspersons that India has seen. His excellence in the various races has been delegated to 10 second clippings at the most. That the gore and nightmare of his childhood propelled Milkha Singh to great heights is treated with an unrealistic style (reminiscent of Imran Khan’s mind demons in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na).

There is one scene where Milkha, having suffered humiliation in the qualifying games of the Melbourne Olympics, walks up to his coach (Yograj Singh) and asks him to write the world record for the 400m race. The coach’s deliberate writing of the number on an Air India tissue, the putting up of the paper on the mantle as a constant reminder and the relentless practice sessions unfortunately culminate into a scene where Milkha merely stands next to an indicator indicating his new world record. No heroic run there. So much for building up expectations!

Prasoon Joshi seems to have stuffed the movie with irrelevant sequences that do not contribute to the larger story of the athlete.

Here’s a look at what could snipped to make Bhaag Milkha Bhaag tighter:

(a) Sonam Kapoor’s carefully coiffed messy hair in an absolutely unnecessary love track

(b) A little less zooming in to and out from Farhan’s well crafted hot body

(c)The Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar-ish (and every other sports movie ish) bad-guy-beat-me-up-I-make-bad-guy-bite-virtual-dust segment

(d) Entire songs dedicated solely to watch the training sessions

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has managed to extract the best from all the main characters, be it Divya Dutta (as the protective older sister with easily dispensable tears), Prakash Raj (in a different non obtrusive role, finally) or Pavan Malhotra.

And then there is Farhan Akhtar. The single force who sets the screen on fire and does not allow your eyes to waver anywhere else except him. From the tip of the hair to the little toe hitting the ground with gyrating force, every sinew in Farhan’s body earnestly speaks just one language – that of running. Once again he proves that his acting caliber falls nowhere short of his directorial skills. New found respect for Farhan for totally nailing it! Binod Pradhan’s camera work flirtatiously offers ample opportunities to gape open-mouthedly at Farhan’s finely chiseled body (that makes you secretly wonder whether it is Photoshopped!)

Clearly, a lot of research and hard work has gone into the making of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. However, it just falls short of a triumphant run across the finish line.

 

‘Ghanchakkar’ Movie Review : More misses than hits

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The opening credits of Ghanchakkar roll to the sound of Richa Sharma’s nazal ‘Lazy Lad’ – a quirky well-written song that builds up similar expectations from the movie. But unfortunately, it all goes downhill from this point.

Emraan Hashmi plays the role of Sanjay Atre, a suave master safe cracker, on the road to salvation from the big bad world of robbery. And he does this by lazily watching TV all day. His laidback world is forever challenged by his fashion-crazy Punjabi wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). Sanju decides to commit one last heist with the accomplice duo Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das) to ensure that he will never have to worry about money again. The robbery goes without a hitch and Sanju takes the 35 crores for safe keeping. Things take a bizarre turn when three months later the duo return to claim their money, only to find Sanju suffering from a post-accident amnesia. They realize he has forgotten a lot of things, including the place where the money is hidden.  The rest of the movie is devoted to the hunt for the money.

There are alternating high and low points in the movie. Neetu, in the seductive red dress, devil horns and guitar strap velcroed to the shoulder – funny. Idris having phone sex and just wearing underwear in the next 5 scenes – not funny.

The biggest disappointment, however, is the abrupt and odd end. When you finally know where the money was hidden, you surely say, “Hey, I didn’t think of that!” But the scenes leading up to this revelation are sketchy and badly written. The introduction of a new character in the last 10 minutes greatly reduces the impact of a pivotal climax.

But let’s be fair, the story did manage to keep us guessing till the end – where did all the money go? Is Sanju faking the amnesia? Has Neetu stashed away the money? Who is the unknown guy who threatens Sanju over the phone?

Rajkumar Gupta’s first two films – No One Killed Jessica and Aamir were hard hitting and made the critics sit up and take notice. His attempt at a comic thriller, however, is a bit disappointing. He has tried and failed to capture the angst and insecurity of an amnesic, concentrating more on the sub plot.

Ghanchakkar-Vidya-Balan-and-imran-hashmi-wallpaperEmraan carries of the load of the movie with ease. He even manages to look dapper in the red polka dotted pyjamas chosen by his wife. This grossly underrated actor, seems wasted in this movie.  Vidya, as the feisty Punjaban, stays true to her character. And also manages to be the only eye sore as well. You wonder which Vogue or Femina (which she vehemently swears by) would advice a housewife to dress up in inappropriately garish upholstery!

Rajesh Sharma and Namit Das share as much screen time as the lead actors. Both have done justice to their characters – playing the part of a cheesy guru and the hyper, vegetable munching chela respectively.

The dialogues and screenplay seem forced at most times. Apart from a few laughable gags, there are barely any moments when you would want to even smile.

The music album is crisp, entertaining and effectively captures the mood of the story. It is a relief to see songs which are situational and take the story forward. Kudos to music director Amit Trivedi and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya (who seem to come in a package deal these days!)

Despite the good plot, interesting characters and stellar acting, Ghanchakkar has failed to strike a chord due to the average execution. Quite forgettable, this  one.

‘Raanjhanaa’ movie review: An earnest, twisted love story

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What is the only reason that will make you smile like an idiot in the middle of the street? Or give you the courage to confront your dreamgirl without worrying about the consequences? Or give a false sense of victory and take it away all at once?

Love. It can only be love.

All through the movie, you expect the imminent happy ending, half wishing to see something ‘different’ – and you are proven right. Raanjhanaa moves away from the regular love triangles and gives a fresh perspective to the concept of love – the human embodiment to The Pogues’ song “I’ll love you till the end”.

320380,xcitefun-raanjhanaa-stills-1Set in Benaras and Delhi, Raanjhanaa  is story of a Tamil speaking priest’s son, Kundan (Dhanush) who is in love with a Muslim professor’s daughter, Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), since an age where even the concept of love is unknown. As he grows older, the feelings just grow stronger, never to diminish. So much so that every slap Zoya gives is like a brush of a feather. Every rejection is a challenge to try harder. It is the consistency and earnestness of his crooked attempts to woo, that make Zoya give in, if only briefly.

Zoya moves to Delhi and returns grown up and grown out into a strong independent woman, embroiled in politics and in love with Jagjit (Abhay Deol). However, Kundan is still in the same zone – a happy-go-lucky, hopeless romantic clinging to his single minded obsession to be with her.  Though broken hearted, he sets out to help Zoya, even if it is for the selfish reason to be together.

The movie broaches various social issues such as Hindu-Muslim divide, rape, faulty land acquisitions and the easy dispensability of the common man. Kundan, who moves from being chaiwala to a public speaker, shows a different side to his personality – his ability to emotionally move individuals.

Director Aanand Rai stays true to his vision throughout the movie with much conviction. Shorten the screenplay by 15-20 minutes and you have a much powerful story. Also the ease with which the leads characters slit their wrists is disturbing.

Cinematographers Natarajan Subramaniam and Vishal Sinha bring out the colourful vibrancies of Benaras and the contrasting dull hues of Delhi with élan.

The music may not be memorable – but that is the beauty of it. A. R. Rahman’s score blends in artistically and complements the storyline perfectly.

Sonam, in her career’s best performance, delivers a range of emotions effortlessly, while looking beautiful in every scene.

But the movie belongs to Dhanush. He neither has the looks nor the six packs of a hero, but is a superstar in his own right. His lean frame fills the entire screen. His acting pierces like an arrow – bang on target. He is like a magnet – pulling you into Kundan’s world and making you believe in his one-sided ill-fated love story. You are silently rooting for him every time his love is let down, trampled upon, played with, betrayed and rejected outright. And boy can he dance!

At the onset, the pairing of Dhanush and Sonam seems absolutely wrong. But they manage to bring out a quaint likeable quality to their romance.

In a special appearance, Abhay brings dimpled charm and maturity to his performance as a young politician who heads a team of like-minded individuals to change the corrupt political system of the country. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, as the BFF and Swara Bhaskar, Kundan’s smitten, short-tempered childhood companion lend brilliant support to the story.

All in all, the movie is a wonderful watch, despite the unbelievability of its story. So grab a ticket and go watch Raanjhanaa – if only to fall in love all over again!

‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ movie review: A bright and refreshing start to the monsoons

yeh-jawani-hai-deewani_13637752014We’ve had loads of Bollywood movies which highlight the importance of friendship – the trend being revived with the likes of Dil Chahta Hai a decade back. In that aspect, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani offers nothing new – funfare, flirting, heartbreaks, songs, dances – you get a dose of all that and more. Throw in a nerdy lead character who turns into a bombshell, and you know you’ve seen this movie many times before.

The movie opens up with Naina (Deepika Padukone) reminiscing about the past – a trekking expedition, run-in with locals and noisy Holi celebrations is all that it takes to get her from glum to glam. Forging friendships, falling in love, getting heartbroken, and the likes – the first half is the story of four 20-somethings on the threshold of adulthood. Fast forwarding 8 years, the story picks up again to the present where the characters Naina, Kabir a.k.a. Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor), Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor) and Aditi (Kalki Koechlin), who had gone their separate ways, reunite at the latter’s wedding. Clarifications are made, friendships are sealed and love blossoms again by the expected end of the movie.

Director Ayan Mukherjee seems to have found his winning formula in coming-of-age stories after the successs of his last hit, Wake Up Sid. Ranbir is effortlessly charming and lights up the screen with his presence, sharing amazing onscreen chemistry with Deepika. There are moments when during the movie you wonder “Why aren’t these two together in real life?” Deepika, as the lost bookworm who turns into the life of the party, traverses the transition with dimpled ease. Right from the out-of-character quipping of “Arre tu boli thi” to complete the song Jumma Chumma De De to her acceptance that love is not meant to be, she does complete justice to her character. Aditya Roy Kapoor seems to have reprised his drunken role in Aashiqui 2 for most of the second half. But what comes as a total surprise is Kalki. Loud, vivacious, abusive and bindaas, she completely gets into the skin of the character. It is a pleasant change how the tomboy transforms into a petite girl who loves being in love.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a tale of friendships, love, aspirations, hopes and choices. What sets the movie apart from the rest of the crowd are the dialogues. Though seemingly light-hearted, newbie Hussain Dalal’s penmanship manages to touch a chord without being preachy. Bunny and Naina’s friendly banter about living the life of a nomad versus being a family person is a very well-crafted scene. As they come to the end of their discussion, Bunny says, “Tum right nahi ho Naina,bas mujhse bahot alag ho.” Just a simple line to show us how we all are just different from each other and yet are entitled to our opinions, without anyone being necessarily right or wrong.

Pritam, fresh from his success of Cocktail and Barfi, does not strike a memorable note with his music. The album has the typical collection of hummable, pacy, reflective, sufi tracks. Not to say the music is bad, but we’ve just heard something like that before. Amitabh Bhattacharya packs some crazy lyrics in the thoroughly enjoyable “Badtameez Dil”.

All-in-all the film is definitely watchable despite its conventional story angle. If light-hearted mush is what you are looking for, then Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is definitely for you.