All posts in the Movies category

Movie Review : Hampi

Published November 20, 2017 by vishalvkale

I review only the best movies; the next one that qualifies is Hampi. Some people told me Hampi was a movie. Some told me it was a great movie. Some told me it was a travelogue. Some told me it was a sweet movie. Well, all the above were wrong; all the above were right – and all the above did not, in my opinion, come even close to what Hampi is. It was a relatively short movie – if you can call it that; which I don’t. It was over in 1 hour and some 40-odd minutes tops. It wasn’t a moving movie; it wasn’t a deep movie; it didn’t deal with esoteric subjects. It also isn’t a movie that will appeal to everyone, that is also equally true. You need, in my opinion, a particular kind of emotional / artistic / simple outlook in your mind to truly connect.

हंपी एक नुसतं चित्रपट नसून एका उत्कृष्ट कवी ची कल्पना असावी; एका विलक्षण चित्रकाराचे चित्र असावे. हिला  एका महान कवी ची कविता जरी म्हंटलं तरी चालेल. ह्या चित्रपटाची सर्वात मोठी गोषट तर हि आहे कि ह्याच्यात एक एक फ्रेम, प्रत्येक सीन, प्रत्येक क्षण फार विचार करून ठेवलेला आहे. पात्रांनी म्हंटलेली एक एक वाक्य त्यांनी म्हंटलेले एक एक शब्द खूप विचार करून ठेवले गेले; एवढे जर पुरत नसेल तर हे पण खरे कि ह्या चित्रपटात शांतता चा वापर सुद्धा खूपच उल्लेखनीय आहे. फक्त हेच नाही – संगीत आणि पार्षव संगीत, म्हणजे बॅकग्राऊंड स्कॉर व गाणी सुद्धा चित्रपटाशी, संपूर्ण वातावरणाशी आणि इतक्या सोप्या आणि सरळ रीती नि मिळतात आणि एकजीव होतात कि अगदी तर्क संगत व स्वाभाविक वाटतात

This is a labour of love; it is a poem, it is a lyrical story of a maestro author, a signature painting of a top painter, it is a masterpiece of artistic creation with each and every cinematic sub-item in perfect consonance with the beauty of the story and the script. If there is perfection anywhere – it is here, it is here, it is here – in this stupendous creation of love, harmony, art, entertainment, poetry, prose, painting, canvas all rolled into one.

The story, per se, is simple – it is a story of a disillusioned daughter, whose parents are going through a divorce. She decides to get away from it all, and plans a holiday to Hampi {a tourist destination of breathtaking natural beauty in Southern India} with her close friend. The friend cannot make it and cancels – so she lands up alone, and runs into a co-resident in the hotel she stays at. The story is of her experiences in Hampi, with the taxi {auto} driver, a handicrafts-woman, a sadhu; and most of all, for the large part, her continuous banter with Kabir, the guy who stays at the hotel. Until that is the other lady, the best friend, arrives… no, don’t jump to conclusions, please. Nothing like that. But it does cause a bit of a change in the scenario. Saying anything else will be a spoiler!
As I observed earlier, a story is one thing, the script quite another. The difference, the magic is in the script and screenplay, which weaves in a scenic tour of the magnificent ancient township of Hampi, effortlessly co-creates a story of ethereal visual appeal that will transfix you with its awesome cinematography, which is one of the biggest pluses of the movie. At no point does the slow pace of the story get to you, such is the hypnotic beauty on screen!
This is a movie in which every word has been chosen and placed with great care and attention; every frame has been tastefully placed almost – with great love; every note of every musical score has been crafted to gel into the entire scenario, and blend in effortlessly. Even the silences interspersed throughout the movie are chosen with great care, passion and add to the story, the overall hypnotic transcendental magic and the beauty of the overall product. This is a true Gem in every sense of the word. Loaded with memorable dialogues, even more memorable silences, heart-warming music and background score, and superlative cinematography. What more can you want?
What more can you want, you and I say? The stunning, natural and effervescent performances by the entire cast; Lalit Prabhakar, whose talent we saw earlier in Chi V Chi Sau Ka; Sonali Kulkarni – who needs no introduction; and the supporting cast – all played their part to the best of their considerable talents. Everyone has a strong, scriptwriter-backed role; but they have put in the performance of their lives. Sonali as Isha is a revelation in this excellent role; Lalit as Kabir is, as usual, tops. They carry the story on their shoulders, ably supported by Priyadarshan Jadhav and Prajakta Mali.
Reviewer after professional reviewer has stated about the absence of a story, of the lack of a coherent narrative; they are flat wrong, period.  It once again shows that the so-called professional reviewers are totally out of touch with audience tastes. While the professionals rate in 2.5 stars, the audience ratings are above 3.5. That shows the divergence in audience and the professionals. The film has a lovely, deep story – one that has to be understood by an emotionally awakened intelligent person.

It is a story told through sparse words, words pregnant with meaning; through soulful music, through penetrating and telling silence, and their combination which together craft a story of the conversion of one person – Isha, from a negative, slightly depressed, slightly angry element into a vivacious soft person. One can easily see, at the end, that this is the real Isha and that the depression was a temporary trauma brought by a painful divorce of her parents.  It has a moving, mesmerizing story; that the professionals weren’t able to fathom it shows they need to understand a real artistic creation, not just go through the motions of watching it! All in all, rated 5 stars. Note that I only review the best of the best Movies; and it has qualified for my blog…

Movie Review – Hrudayantar

Published July 9, 2017 by vishalvkale

Child / Family member having Leukemia or being terminally ill is a theme that has been dealt with more times than you and I would care to count; which is also an observation critics have made of this movie as well. Thus, if you are deciding to make a movie on this aspect or theme, then it should be having loads of glue so that the audience will respond to it; which is not easy to do in the modern day with its fickle and well-informed audience. As per some critics, it is a movie that has an old subject or is predicatable; as per me – this stands as one of the most stunning movies ever made in its genre, any language. So what is it that makes this movie stand out among all others?

This is the story of a DITK family – Double Income Two Kids family;  The Husband {Shekhar, played by Subodh Bhave} is a top – and I mean top – hotelier; the lady {Samaira, played by Mukta Bhave} is the Creative Head of an Ad Agency; two successful and exceedingly well-placed individuals. They have two children – Nitya and Nysha, played by Trushnika Shinde and Nishtha Vaidya. The couple are going through a hard phase, as the Husband is a workaholic who has not learnt to navigate the fine dividing line between office time and personal time; a man who lives only and only for his job.

The lady, on the other hand, has managed to fit in both into her life, and justifiably expects the husband to do so as well. This leads to them filing for divorce by mutual consent; and then disaster strikes, in the form of the elder daughter getting diagnosed with Leukemia. The rest of the story revolves around this theme, as the couple respond to this crisis, and together they try and do everything within their power and the power of medicine, to save their girl. How the family responds, reacts, coalesces, how each family member copes with the crisis is the crux of the movie.
As can be seen, the plot is quite straightforward; what matters in a movie is not just the plot, but the whole package; that is what most professional reviewers have been forgetting. On site after site, one can see that critic reviews and customer reviews vary from each other by a wide margin – Bookmyshow, 4.1 vs 3.2, with 80% loves; most other sites are also showing a 0.5 higher rating by customers. To the professional reviewers – those figures are telling a story, that w don’t agree with you. Isnt a movie supposed to be about the audience? And if your ratings don’t tally, what does that say?
So what is it that makes this movie one of the best I have ever seen – given that it has reached my blog, which has only reviewed 10-odd movies in the past 6-7 years, it is, to me, a very special movie indeed? It is the entire package, which comes together in one magnificent whole to make a great product. It is the attention to detail, the minutiae, the small aspects that create the magic. Add to that the uniqueness in the script {A script is different from A story!}, the screenplay, the performances, the music and the direction – all of these come together in one magical product, a product that can be seen again and again. I for one cant wait to see Shekhar and Samaira on screen once again, that is for certain!
The script seems logical – the moment the illness hits, the interpersonal issues of the couple vanish – unlike some other movies we have seen in this genre. This is entirely logical; that is the first aspect that hits home. Gone are the fights, the disagreements, the egos – in one stroke of terrifying lightning, as the couple immediately comes together. The best part – they don’t become lovey-dovey overnight; it is just that the immediate priority is fighting the crisis, which makes them rise above their internal issues. This is dealt with superbly, with the script and the screenplay showing a slow and decidedly thaw developing as the story progresses. This took some doing – as the illness hit within the first 30 minutes of the movie. The way the script and the screenplay develop this is masterly!
Second, the Performances. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Simply amazing! Subodh Bhave – I have always maintained that Subodh is among the best actors ever produced by our country; and was therefore wondering if Mukta Barve can hold her own against such a powerful screen presence, with an actor with such a wide range of capabilities as seen in his other efforts. I have earlier noted her abilities in no uncertain terms in one other review before; and had a very high regard for her. Despite this, I must confess I was concerned about this casting, and was eagerly waiting for the results.
I needn’t have worried; this casting was a masterpiece. The script required two strong performers of equal merit, depth and range of emotions, and gravity of purpose and screen presence to cocreate magic; this was achieved by this casting. The expressions, the movements, the gestures, the faces, the body language – and the eyes; especially the eyes. I saw two acting aces, geniuses pull off what has to be the best performance of their lives, and that is saying something. So captivating were the two performances, so absolutely mind boggling, that you are moved to tears, and yet maintain a great mood, as you watch, transfixed, as Samaira and Shekhar take us deep into their lives.
A word here for Trushnika and Nishtha, the two child actors; I am speechless at the talent of these two incredible performers. They add the required substance, believability, class and connect to the movie, and their performance had to be just right; not too overdramatic, not underdone. And it was perfect, as near perfect as can be. Without these two performances,  the movie would have lost a lot of its sheen; it is the overall balance in the entire product that makes it great.
And it is here that directorial genius becomes evident – the directorial efforts get hidden by two towering geniuses in Samaira & Shekhar; but getting the kids, the supporting actors to also perform as well –  is class direction. It is also evident in the overall construction of this landmark project, the music, the balance, and the overall handling; we have a new and very, very talented director who would bear watching very closely indeed – if his first venture is anything to go by. I have said nothing of the music so far – so let me correct that; the music with its mix of lively and mood numbers is just right for the movie, and is very good indeed – and also gels well with the screenplay, script and the characters.

To Film Critics – couldn’t all of you see these aspects? Why the comparatively miserly rating for such a great product? Just because it deals with an oft-dealt with product? What do you guys require to rate a move highly, do tell me! And if the audience rates the movie higher, much higher – then I respectfully submit that there is a lack of audience connect on your part. All in all, this is one of the finest movies made in India in its genre. It is a complete entertainer; despite being a relatively tragic topic, you come out transfixed and in a great mood. That is one hell of an achievement! Rated 5 stars out of 5, and I wish I could rate it 7 stars out of 5! 

Movie Review – Ek Unaad Divas & Its Life Lessons

Published June 22, 2017 by vishalvkale

There are few movies that stick in your mind, entertain you & teach you a life lesson; as well as pull you back to them every once in a while… this movie, Ek Unaad Divas – is one of them. Great pity that this is in Marathi – for this is one movie that needs to be made in Hindi so that ever larger number of people can watch, enjoy and live & change their lives by it! That said, Hindi movie industry just doesn’t have the required depth to make a movie of this caliber. Sad, but true.
The concept is simple – a highly paid, top corporate hot-shot, portrayed by Ashok Saraf, gets forced into loaning his car for the day to a client, who has just closed a 5-Cr order. And on that very day, Taxis are on strike – so he has to walk back. On the way, he runs into his childhood friend – a lower-middle class man earning 2453/- per month. The hot-shot, Vishwas Dabholkar {Saraf}, and the friend end up having lunch – a life-turning experience for the big man, as he is stunned by the happy outlook of his companion!
The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster as the wonder-struck Dabholkar, stunned by his experience with the poorer friend, walks through the streets to his office with a newly broadened approach towards life. Along the way, we get to learn, or rather, re-learn life – through the eyes & experiences of Vishwas Dabholkar, who interacts with life around him with a newly defined approach towards life – an open, happy approach, savouring many moments and leaving us many, many lessons for us.
The movie gets heart-wrenching, yet warming, as the hot-shot big man, walking through the small streets to his office, runs into many unfortunate souls, poor people and people from all walks of life – and yet impacting them in a nice way, helping them in their troubles, thinking – for once – not of self or own family, but of others. That in itself is a big learning, that it doesn’t take too much effort to be nice to other people, and that one can be good to people regardless of their stature, age or social standing
Another hard-hitting lesson is the detachment of “My Achievements, this is me, etc” from the self : forgetting one’s Ego… which can lead to seeing the wonder in so many people and instances in life. My own experience, which was forced on me, taught me this not so long ago – when I learnt a lot from my students, 20 years my junior, when I was a visiting faculty to them. If they are reading this – thanks for showing me a side of life I had forgotten all about; in your youthful openness, optimism and approach I learnt a life lesson, a management lesson, as well as made me a better manager all in one.
These and many many other small lessons in the movie, which  are really important for modern life – the real value of money & sharing, the importance of thinking of the other person, the value of being selfless, understanding the needs of others, being basically a nice person – all those things which the modern metrosexual educated person calls impractical, like things concerning values / ethics / decency / honesty / fun / caring for others –  make this movie one-of-a-kind, and kind of special. This movie shall remain one of the most memorable movies and life experiences for me; I for one shall never forget this movie. My personal thanks to the entire staff involved in making this movie, and teaching me a life lesson!
We take life so seriously – our jobs, our money, our career – even our family, our children’s careers & lives, that somewhere along the line we forget to live. We are so enraptured by the trappings of life, of its attachments, its pulls that we ourselves don’t realise the damage we our doing ourselves and our society. The money will remain here when we die – that apart, by being too focused, we forget the small pleasures of life – something that makes us automatons, machines almost; running after success and money all the time. This pressure even translates to extreme pressure on our children, as we insanely drive them for marks, not on the knowledge & education, as well as the right values… is this the way to live? Go after success, money, ego forgetting the small pleasures & values of life, the importance not just of your own self, but of everyone in your life – small or big in stature… do we ever stop to think?  

A word about the story, editing and the characterization – awesome. One word I had promised – and one word it is, without qualification – awesome. The dreamers have created one hell of an awesome product. The best part is that it is a fun watch; a hugely entertaining movie throughout. There is only one song in them movie – and what a song! Hur Hur Aste Teech Uri, Divas Baraa Ke Ratra Bari! An unforgettable number that will grow on you with its melodious tones &classy lyrics. All in all, this is a tremendous and near perfect movie that is a must watch by anyone who understands Marathi. While it teaches a lot of lessons, changes you as a person, forces you to ask youself some deep questions – it does so in a gently, fun, decent and entertaining way. As the last scene fades away you are left refreshed! 

Movie Review – Fugay

Published February 10, 2017 by vishalvkale

Not many movies make it to my blog; which is themed around India as a whole – from Indian Books to Culture to History to Economics & Trade. Thus, I perforce limit myself to only the movies which impress me the most; and in this, Fugay score big time! In 10 years of writing, and 5 of blogging, I have reviewed only around 10 movies, maybe 12 – and Fugay is one of them. This movie is, in my opinion – one of the best I have ever watched in its genre; I can think of only two other movies that are either better, or comparable : Golmal, and Angur. Period.
Image result for fugay movie

The movie is a mix of a comedy and a horror movie : 99% comedy, 1% horror. The source of the horror is that the plot can actually happen in real life; no jokes. At any rate, something quite similar. Do photographs appear in newspapers? Yes, they do – am aware of two instances in family & friends. {None were embarrassing, thank God!} Do things get blown out of proportion, do people overreact in marriages? Of course they do! Are you kidding me? Do embarrassing snaps get circulated? You don’t really want an answer to that in the modern multimedia age, do you? And so on and so forth. If you stretch it just a little bit, it is entirely plausible that the mix-up in the movie can happen! 😀
This is a story of two nutcases – I mean that – two people who are bonkers, dedicated bonkers. Close friends for two decades plus; the proverbial Chuddi Baddis. One decides to get married, and to a rather, shall we say, possessive lady {understatement of the century}. To cut a short story  shorter, the two pals decide to  go to Goa  for a bachelor party. One problem. Just one tiny teensy weensy problem, known across the planet by the term “fiance”. These nutcases don’t tell the only person who should have known the whole story – the fiance. And boss, trust me, you don’t pull such stunts if you are sane.
The lady takes it upon herself {of course, what else? Kamaal karte ho yaar!} to check for herself. And the proof that the man – any man, you n me included – is fundamentally a lunatic – the lady has been told the location, and not the whole story! {This – not to tell half- or quarter- or 1/8ths or 1/16thss of the truth to your wife –  is a lesson you learn after marriage, so madness excusable!!!!!} And so, she walks in to meet the apple of her eye, the love of her life, in, shall we say, less that ideal circumstances. Nopes – no lady involved, and no guy either. Just a genuine misunderstanding! It takes the much chastened pals the rest of the movie to untangle it all!
If you want to laugh for 2 hours and 5 minutes without a break, watch this movie. And yes, attend to any and all calls of nature before you walk in to the theatre; people are going to be far too busy laughing their heads off to fill you in; and you might just miss some class puns and jokes! In all my life, I have never seen a movie –not after Golmal and Angur – which had me laughing throughout, and not one minute involving any slapstick comedy, hamming, overacting, cheap and vulgar jokes etc. Just genuine situational stuff, superbly woven together. That is why this gets 5 stars out of 5; good, clean, decent, genuine comedy! 
Which brings me to the script – the script is nice, taut and fast moving. So far as I could tell, there wasn’t a minute wasted. No meandering, dithereing, no side-tracks, nothing. Just a tight fastpaced script that gallops along at a lovely steady pace, keeping you enthralled. The entire team has stuck to ; one theme, and one theme alone. The comic scenes are created using the situation, and one of the prevalent socio-cultural themes intertwined together, which create a genuine laughter riot. You will also note that I make no comparison with any Hindi Movie {I wont even mention the name}; there is zero commonality. This story is completely different and unique!
The performances are all round excellent; my initial thought was how will the script manage the two – Subodh and Swapnil, balance them in screen time, performances, roles etc. Kudos –this has been superbly managed; and both have, true to their style, skills and reputation, pulled off unforgettable performances. Prarthana impresses again, in a relatively small but vital role. Without her role, Aditya would have married Jaai within the first 25 minutes of the script and no movie would have been scripted!  Special mention for a heart-stealing performance by the thespian Mohan Joshi!
The best part is the music – not too much, only two or three songs, and both very, very hummable with lovely tunes and lyrics both. My favourite is Kaahi Kale Tula Kaahi Kale Malaa, a nice and soft number. The absence of needless songs makes this script even more taut, keeps the narrative nice, fast and taut; and the puns flowing, keeping you in splits. If you recall, this is exactly what both Golmal and Angur did. Now you can add one more to this august list : Fugay, easily one of the best movies I have watched! 
In conclusion, I must add a word for the Marathi genre; it is now far ahead of Hindi in terms of freshness, lack of vulgarity, newness of scripts, lovely soft music, and great finished products! To me, Swapnil, Subodh, Prarthana, Sai, Jitendra, Upendra, Mohan, Mahesh M, Ankush, Mukta are far bigger pulls now than the Hindi stars; the credit for that must go to everyone in the Marathi Cinema Trade – Keep it up, people!

Movie Review : Baghtos Kay… Mujra Kar!

Published February 4, 2017 by vishalvkale

Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar

I normally review very few select movies which to me are best-in-class and elite; only those that I either find superlative {as one of my friends was noting on fb today}, or those with some kind of social message. The movie being reviewed today, Baghtos Kaay… Muzraa Kar, is one of the latter category;  a  Marathi movie. What makes this movie so different is this is a movie with a message, and is also simultaneously fun to watch; with two other factors also thrown in, which I shall get to by and by.

Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar
The plot is simple – a sarpanch of a village of Malvans, the villagers whom The Chhatrapati recruited and turned into his army, laments the state of the forts of the great Maratha Kiing, Chhatrapati Shivaji; even as the great legend continues to hold sway over entire Maharashtra, and I daresay large parts of India as well. Most Indians will readily concede his greatness. Despite this, his forts lie in ruin or at least not as well cared for as they should be. The movie revolves around his dream of turning the local fort into a well cared for spot that attracts visitors, and how his attempts take him into politics, and focuses around his attempts to win support for his endeavour.  
The movie is a great watch, and is a very enjoyable movie with a nice script, reasonably well crafted. It is a simple movie, in the sense there is no extravagance or over the top stuff. It has lovely genuinely comic moments which make for a very enjoyable watch,  and help overcome the drag. The start, most of the middle and the climax will win your heart and tug at your emotions; the middle part will make you laugh a lot, genuinely funny stuff, situational comedy. The problem is that the script meanders just a little for 10-15 minutes in the middle part; that could have been avoided. Normally, this would have been enough for me not to review it, had it not had major saving factors acting in its favour.
Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar 
{Jitendra Joshi}

And these are, firstly, the performance of Jitendra Joshi. Man, what a performance! He blew me away with his superb performance. I have seen him earlier in Duniaadaari and the classic film Sumbaraan, but this time he has matured as an actor, and has almost single-handedly carried the movie on his shoulders. The way he simply blends into the character, the way his face and eyes show the expressions, was incredible. It was a display of top notch conviction, and it made my day.
Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar

The music is nothing to write home about, except the song Tu Aan Punhaa Re Ti Talwaar, a very hummable and fast paced theme song, which kind of grows on you. One wishes the other songs were as good. As I said earlier, the script could have been tighter, making for a much more compact product. Nonetheless, what is there is way more than enough; given that an Economics + History + Social blogger like me is reviewing the movie. This movie joins a list which I consider elite – Raees, Pink, Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi, Shivaay, Katyaar Kaalzat Ghusli, Lokmanya Ek Yugpurush, PK
Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar 

What makes this movie stand out is the other factors involved; first was the performance of Jitendra Joshi. Second aspect is the social message – it is fine that we make statues of those we value; but what about actually caring for them and their true heritage? I made this point in two or three previous posts; we call people our heroes, but ignore their heritage. In the case of Chhatrapati Shivaji, I can safely say that by and large, his heritage is also intact; people do value him. But if we value him so much, how hard can it be to ensure upkeep as well as visits to his locations?
The third aspect that makes this movie special is simply this : for the first time I have seen a movie that openly declares of the English, when the lead actors visit London as part of their plan : whatever they have is built from stolen money, stolen from us… or words to that effect! This is bound to be heard and seen by the audience who sees this; and will impress at least some of the viewers. This is a message that sorely needs to be told, and I personally loved it. As it is, I am in the middle of a by now 8-year hunt for the true and full detailed story behind our Colonial History, and this made connect with my heart big-time! Well said, Team Bhaghtos Kaay!
The fourth take-away is the extent of the contemporary feeling for, and relevance of Chhattrapati Shivaji in Modern India, or at least Maharashtra. This was a pleasure to experience; the response from the audience, the clapping, the whistling, the applause had to be experienced. And, for the first time, I too joined in, with applause in two or three places. It happened spontaneously, and I just went along with the atmosphere, discovering for myself how deep the connect of Chhatrapati Shivaji is with me… I had read and reviewed a book on The Chhatrapati, but this was something else, something deeper, a lovely, deep connect and feeling of pride and warmth! Great movie, people! 

Movie Review – Raees

Published January 30, 2017 by vishalvkale

The King is back! And he is back with a real big Bang… after a long time, SRK is back to his best… what a movie! Stunning! Superlative stuff! Welcome back, Shahrukh Khan … after a long series of movies that failed to impress me – good to see the old SRK we all 40-somethings grew up with! Fantastic movie! This movie was a long time coming; you made us wait one hell of a long time; but when you returned – you did so with supreme panache, classy attitude, letting no one forget that there is only one Big Boss of Hindi Movies – and that is the one and only Shahrukh Khan!
Raees The Movie – FB : Raees The Film

Make no mistake – Raees is Shahrukh Khan from the first scene to the last, this is his return as far as I am concerned; the ultimate entertainer, the showman of the 90s and 00s is back again after a long hiatus! This is the Shahrukh Khan we all loved to watch in college and our 20s  … the King, the Boss, the one with the attitude and screen presence to beat almost everyone, save the one and only {I, of course, refer to Amitabh Bachhan}; this movie is a full-on entertainer in classic Shahrukh Style, with Shahruklh doing what he is unmatched at : playing the Anti-Hero! Who among us fans can forget Darr or Baazigar?
Image result for raees trailer 

I wont tell you. And if you want to enjoy, don’t read or watch reviews that tell its story, period. So there!
RaeesPlayed by the King, SRK…. Anti-Hero… for the rest, find out yourself!
Jaideep MajmudarPlayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tough Cop, IPS, is out for Raees come hell or high weather!
JairajPlayed by Atul Kulkarni… mentor, crook, smart guy in that order
AasiyaPlayed by Mahira Khan, Raees Wife, Confidant, Strength and Cohort
MusabhaiPlayed by Narendra Jha, Criminal Tycoon…
I have mentioned the screen presence & attitude of Shahrukh Khan; but the two people who steal the show are Atul Kulkarni, with a superbly controlled performance, true to his by-now inimitable and powerful style {Premachi Goshte in Marathi is his best performance till date; this one comes very close} and – Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Now this man, I have to admit, stands upto Raees throughout. Sure, the script is a strong factor in his favour; but remember this is a SRK film, with a role tailormade to SRKs strongest point. Nawaz has faced upto and matched SRK throughout, balancing his presence and depth with a strong performance with awesome control and elan! Take a bow, Nawaz!
The controversial Mahira Khan – well, I don’t really want to praise her, due to her nationality… but I am a fair man. Credit where credit is due…. She fits in to the role, and makes it believable. Effortless performance, she made her mark in a movie dominated by one personality. And last but not the least – Shahrukh Khan… man, what a comeback! A dominating screen presence, no hamming whatsoever, complete unlike some other movies; incredible intensity, depth and range I did not think he had anymore, not after movies like Swades where we all fell for him bigtime!
First of all, thank you for writing a script that is near flawless; the background, the characters, the taut narrative are all spot-on. There are those who may disagree; I can only say I go to the movies to enjoy, not get tense. And this script delivers… big time. And I really enjoyed the mix of Hindu and Muslim characters; Indian cinema is finally coming of age when we can portray Muslim dominated characters and stories on screen, which is a far cry from the 40s and 50s when people had to change their names to Hindu names! It felt realistic, refreshing, and good to see! Well done!
This is the big score; and this, coming from me, is a big praise. I haven’t liked a Hindi song for longer than I can recall; 95% of my repertoire comprises Marathi songs. But it is for the first time after Main Hoon Naa {SRK Again, what can I say?} that I am listening to the songs {even as I type} which is a big first. The music is mesmerizing, haunting and unbelievably classy! A very strong reason for the superlative review I am writing is due to the music. The best number? Hard to state; they are all great…. But I loved  Zaalima, Khwaahishon Ki Dua and Saanson Ke. A small word for the background score : I clearly remember the opening tones as the movie started, and recall thinking, this should be good; and this is a first in my memory. The background score also shines, and adds to the tautness and the intensity of the movie throughout!
1) Saanso Ke
2) Zaalima

You will read average and not-so-good takes on this movie; my advise – Ignore these reviews; watch the movie and decide for yourselves. This movie is a great entertainer, not too over the top, has tremendous music {Now that is an understatement; the music is out of this world!}, a taut and tight script; and superb performances all round from nearly every character. It is not too stressful; loaded with action and hits you hard with the intensity of the overall finished product. And if you are, like me, someone who grew up on the films of Shahrukh Khan, and pine for the vintage SRK – this is for you.
Even if you are not like me, and enjoy a good entertainer; or a classy action movie; or a simply well packaged entertainment product – go for it. You can watch it with family; it is enjoyable and good stuff throughout. This isn’t as good as Shivaay, which was and is in a class of its own; but this is nonetheless a really, really good movie. And, like Shivaay, this can be watched again and again, especially due to its tremendous music score, hats off. Take a bow, Team Raees! Well done – and welcome Back, King!

Movie Review : Shivaay

Published October 28, 2016 by vishalvkale


Image result for shivaay

Shivaay… one of the most awaited movies, thanks to its mesmerizing and tantalizing trailers plus word of mouth publicity; and a movie that has got some, shall we say, not-upto-the-mark reviews in some publications that I perused; reviews that, in my humble opinion, don’t really do justice to the movie. Hence, I have made, in my own small way, an attempt to place the other side of the movie, through this review; a review that is unabashedly  gushing  in praise, for the reasons outlined below…

But first, let me state the negative, or attempt to analyse where it might have miffed some people. It is a movie that is a victim of its own publicity which might just have built up the expectations to a level which the movie fails to reach; or, to be more specific, it raised expectations along a path that the movie does not fully touch upon or justify. The name – Shivaay, or the repeated references to verses of the Lord in the trailer, or the song “Jaa Jaa Kailaash Jaa Kar Vinaash”; or the overlaid dialogue in the trailer.
There is, in my opinion, only one plot weakness; if you ignore that – this is one of the most spine-chilling, or rather, to be more accurate, fast paced thrillers to come out of India in a very long time indeed. That is the development of the central character, Shivaay; either there should have been some proper justification for the references in the paragraph above, or some clear linkage – which is absent.
The character development in slightly weak only of the central character; the difficulty is that, this movie actually has only two characters : Shivaay, and Gaura. There is no one else of note in terms of relevance.  A word here for the Child artist portraying Gaura – she won my admiration for her performance, in a movie dominated in Salmanesue fashion by one single character played by Ajay Devgan…
 Image result for shivaay
Notwithstanding the negatives that I have fairly pointed out above, this movie is, from the first frame to the last, a production of sheer class. I could not find even one irrelevant scene in the entire movie; the plot is well defined, the character development, one negative apart, splendid with clearly etched characters, the story is tightly woven and completely logical from start to finish – right till the last frame when the titles begin to play on the screen.
The narrative is taut, and does not deviate from the plot at all; not only that, there is no attempt at any sideplay, sub-plots etc of any kind. Every scene carries the story forward, and is relevant to the movement of the plot in some way; including the songs. That took some doing in a film of this genre. There is not one single wasted scene whatsoever; had anything been deleted, the movie and its story would seem jerky, with no clear connect.
One scene effortlessly blends into the next in an uninterrupted sequence, including the much-criticised scenes, which  are in reality, central to the forward story! Shivaay could not have reached his destination without the Girish Karnad scene, for example; neither would an embassy staffers support to Shivaay seem logical otherwise.
The story proceeds at an unbelievably frenetic pace; so much so, that in order to keep track of the incredibly rapid progression of events, one is forced to remain glued to the seat, not even being able to leave for a loo break – and that is one incredible achievement, any which way you look at it. Saying more would give away too many details of the plot, so let me leave it at that. The pace has nothing to do with the action sequences – the speed of the story has been achieved by a combination of mind-boggling action sequences {which could have been slightly better choreographed, to be perfectly honest} – and rapid progression of the core plot in between, leaving one gasping for breath almost.
The music ably supports the story and the plot, as well as the overall movie; haunting tunes and melodies, well choreographed song sequences and a decent enjoyable score: given that you don’t feel the need or the freedom to leave the seat even during the songs – there is undoubtedly a pulling factor in the songs, which are ably complemented by some riveting photography and beautiful location shoots that draw your breath away; this is ably supported in the entire movie with the tremendous special effects throughout

All in all, this is a fantastic and enjoyable movie, a thriller set at an unbelievably frenetic and break-neck speed, with decent music, great photography, a taut narrative and a decent plot. What more could you ask for in a movie? Given that nearly all movies in Hindi and English {not so far in Marathi, luckily}, require some level of suspension of logic, the negatives are bearable. The negatives mean that the movie will not score ten on ten, but a more realistic 8 on a ten-point scale. But that does nothing to negate the overall movie’s positives, neither does it mean the movie isn’t enjoyable; it is a fantastic and captivating watch! Don’t miss it this Diwali is my considered opinion… 

Pink Movie – Asking The Right Questions Of The Man!

Published September 18, 2016 by vishalvkale

Image result for pink movie review

This week saw the epochal movie Pink hitting the movie halls and cineplexes, a movie that stands out as one of the most hard-hitting movies to come out from the Mumbai film industry. This is a movie that looks at deeply ingrained attitudinal problems embedded in our society, problems which have eluded quite a few reviewers on this movie; I attempt to place my viewpoint on these ignored aspects in this review. This is a movie that is, to my mind, more about Men than Women; we need to see the story from this angle and engage with the highlighted problems in a deep introspection

Image result for pink movie review
The plot is simple : three ladies meet 3 or 4 boys at a rock concert, share a drink or maybe two, go to dinner, and end up getting molested. A feisty one responds, and cracks a bottle right slam-bang on the “gentleman’s” head, and the three run. So do the four “gentlemen”, but then the nightmare starts for the ladies, as the threats and the intimidation starts. They are wrongly accused by the “gentlemen”, and one of them gets arrested. In  steps a retired top lawyer to the rescue, and fights the case for the ladies.
The above isn’t about what ladies wear, or indeed what they should wear; it isnt about ladies drinking, about going out with boys, about saying no to the opposite sex, about not equating sharing a drink with an invitation for sex; about smiling and talking being equal to something else; it isn’t about freedom of women, or about how much freedom is too much freedom; it isn’t about the invasion of western mores into our eastern society. This is a hard-hitting expose on the Male Chauvinistic Pig, and the frankly reprehensible male dominance in Human Society in general and Indian Society in particular.
It is a brutal expose on the Gender Equations prevalent in our society, and how lopsided they are. If it is not ok for the Girls and Ladies of your family to drink, then – as a corollary to that, it isn’t ok for the Gents to drink either. If it is not ok for the lady to have multiple partners in her lifetime as casual  or not-so-casual lovers – then it isn’t ok for the Gents either. If it is not ok for the lady to stay out late, then it isn’t ok for the Gent either. Why should things be so different for the two sexes? Why the completely variant value-judgements between males and females of the same Homo Sapiens species?
This is exposed very skillfully in the movie, in a gripping court-room drama in the second half; the first half having set up the climax in a riveting and mind-blowing series of events of shocking & jarring victimization that lay bare the other problems touched in the other reviews. But the second half strips our society bare, strips it stark naked in the blunt court room scenes that take your breath away. You get to see the Male of our Indian  society in all his resplendent nakedness and gory ugliness, and leave you feeling utterly disgusted at the prevalent chauvinistic attitudes that bedevil our society.
Few people, in my limited reading, have touched upon this : I agree with the other points raised; namely saying no is no; that dressing is not a barometer of character and neither is drinking, that ladies should have independence; and the point on morality judgement etc. These are obviously true and spot-on; but my point, my question, goes far deeper – why do women {and men} look for approval from society? Forgot the song – Kuchh To Log Kahenge; Logon Kaa Kaam Hai Kehenaa? By doing so, you are automatically placing the man on a pedestal!
Furthermore, why do we place emphasis on purity of women – just women, and not on men? Why not place the precise same moralistic judgmental attitudes towards men as you do towards the ladies? Why has no one ever thought to ask a man if he is a virgin? Why is no one asking as how can the same attitude be seen modern, forward, rough-and-tough in males but undesirable in females? Why has no one in our entire society ever questioned the sexual need in males and their now-established penchant for prostitutes? Why has no one ever questioned the so-called tough man when he has multiple affairs, or drinks, or dresses in a forward fashion? We have never ever questioned the man – not even in our movies, and that is a fact.

The problem isn’t that we need to stand by our women; that goes without saying. The real problem is that we need to question the Men, and make it unacceptable behavior  – or rather, have the same rules apply for both the sexes. You cant have differentiation. We know we are patriarchal; we know ladies have to suffer a  lot – is that news? That is a known and established fact! High time our movies took the next step and ask some hard questions of the Man. Don’t say we need to support our women – start by saying that I need to look at the boys and men in our family, and have true equality.
It has been cruelly highlighted how Meenal had mulltuple sexual partners in her history; what about the men she slept with? Did they not have multiple sexual partners? Why has no one in our society ever questioned the man? Why is it not an equally big question for the man? Is sex just a conquest for the men, involving no love? Or is drinking a solely male priviledge? It has been forcefully highlighted about the drinking by the ladies. Werent the men also drunk? How is it ok for a man to partake in drinks but not the lady of the house? These are the questions this movie raises – and many many more…
We need to highlight the differential approach towards the two sexes far more than other aspects in my opinion; like in that sad statement “unko aukaar dikhaao” or words to that effect. The difficulty is that we are a male dominated society, and unless we both support the women as well as make it less sexy and more intolerable for the man to misbehave, change will not happen. As it stands, the feeling is that for the man, drinking & flirting and sex is ok – duly supported by our movies in sorry portrayals. If drinking, flirting is ok for the boys, then it is ok for the girls. And if it isn’t ok – then both sexes are in the wrong – and it needs to be highlighted.
Most movies show the women suffering, or fighting against all to make it; this has basis in reality. But we also need to show how the man can suffer and lose everything, how his sick behavior harms him – not just in the end, but in his daily life. Make it less sexy to be patriarchal! Instead, we see the opposite – in our love stories, in our other movies about how the man goes after the girl etc along established moral codes and norms of society.

We are the same society which calls a decent actor a chocolate boy, in another example of the stereotypes that rule our minds. These stereotypes need to be broken down; need to be addressed; the man needs to understand his failings…  and that is where Pink scores, in the Court-room where the defense Lawyer highlights these very aspects in his epochal code-book for conduct, and the six points he raises about how society views these from different parameters for the two sexes…

image source : Google search


Published August 5, 2016 by vishalvkale

A recent interview of a top film star set my mind on the topic of history and its representation, or as some people would have it, misrepresentation, in movies – or to be more specific, contemporary Hindi movies.  The specific movie that set off this train of thought : Mohenjo-Daro. And the gist of the comment was that movies aren’t literature or documentaries. The implication I draw from this is that movies can take so-called artistic licence, or, to put it as I see it, take liberties {meaning alternative theories, or speculations etc} , albeit mild, with the truth. Or, at least, place before the public a narrative that may not be the accepted one
Take the film stated above – Mohenjo-Daro; as per the trailer I have seen, there seems to be a ruler in that city that has been represented. Now  the problem with that is, Mohenjo-Daro was not the original name, but that is a relatively minor detail. In all that I have read – and my regular readers will know that I have a passion for reading history with more than a couple of dozen books reviewed as well – I have never come across any ruler in that civilization. This is, as far as my reading goes, one of the big questions around that Indus-Saraswati civilization
Then when I come across comments from moviedom to the effect that movies cannot or  should not be taken literally, or that films in not a part of academia, or that  movies aren’t documentaries , or that you don’t believe or suspend belief or some such thing– I am,  quite frankly, left flabbergasted, to say the least. It is fine to say this to educated people, people whose minds and thought process, analytical and thinking abilities have been honed by education, income and opportunity : the middle, upper middle and richer classes; although even that is highly debatable if made in such generic terms.
It is quite another thing to expect uneducated people, or the lesser fortunate people, to not take what is displayed in movies as the gospel truth. We have no idea, to be completely frank, whether or not such movies are thought of as believable or truthful by the people. But that is a possibility that cannot be denied. For a lay person, not educated, or not educated in the specific history or the relevant historical period, it might just come across as totally believable. And what if they actually do regard it as the truth, or even as substantially the truth or even the representative truth?
We are in an age when the habit of reading is in slow and firm decline, when people gather their information, by and large, through tidbits and news articles, social media snippets, local word of mouth, television and movies. By information I refer to information not relevant to the core job or bread earning activity of the individual in question. In such an environment, media such as movies automatically become the most powerful medium of communication and information dissemination. Why should I go further than myself to prove this? Almost all that I know of at least one part of our history is through the medium of Television – it is only now that I am reading it slowly bit by bit.
Thus, it becomes incumbent on the presenter of the historical to be as true to history as it is feasible to be. I understand that some aspects in history are debatable, or under study, and that this concept of accuracy is a very high bar to achieve, but it is my humble submission to the Hindi moviedom to take the extra effort : India needs it, in my opinion. We cannot brush it away by saying artistic licence. If your artistic licence gives a wrong impression and wrong idea in the minds of some people – this is something that needs attention. Either that – or do research to prove that people don’t believe it at all!
Now that is hard for me to believe – given that my entire knowledge of some particular period of our history is from Television. I trust the serial was true to the facts as we know them – and my subsequent reading has justified my trust. But the key is that I believed it as gospel. The fact that I subsequently read and found it accurate is irrelevant. The key, the vital part  – is my belief, that of an educated person. And that is precisely why Television serials and Movies need to forget the nonsense of artistic licence when making movies!
Movies are a powerful medium, with their capacity to tell a story, give a message, create opinion, an impact on the mind being incomparable. They stand in a class all by themselves, and their tremendous power needs to be understood by we the people as well as the movie makers as well. It is high time the Hindi movie people became a lot more sensitized towards these matters, and taken their role in our lovely society far more seriously.

Movie makers are not, repeat not, just entertainers; they have a far more effective, powerful, important and serious role in our lives. High time they wake up to their reality – especially in the Hindi movie world in my humble opinion. Their real role extends far beyond just being entertainers : they lead change, form opinion, entertain, educate. ask hard questions of society and so on and so forth. That being the case – they should be as close to the truth as it is possible for them to be!

Movie : Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi

Published May 23, 2016 by vishalvkale

I am not a movie reviewer, or blogger; but every once in a while, I come across a movie that leaves a deep impression, an impression spanning every aspect of the movie; which is what moves me to pen my thoughts on the aforesaid movie… the movie under review, Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi, is one such – a lovely light romantic movie that is, for me, unforgettable; one I can watch any number of times – like Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai….

Image result for prarthana behere
Jaai  {Prarthana Behere} – idealistic, highly romantic yet reserved, knows what she wants – for sure; stubborn as a mule – she wont say it. No sir, not her. Not even when pigs fly!

Image result for vaibhav tatwawadi
Nishad {Vaibhav Tatwawdi} – Balanced, yet uncertain; competent in everything… except matters of the heart; practical even in love {what can I say? You try and talk sense into him!}. Boss, Nishad – the lady wont, repeat wont, say it. Your call, buddy.

Image result for neha mahajan
Abha {Neha Mahajan} – Vivacious, extroverted, open-minded, confident… and yup, kid sister to Jaai. Dont listen to her, Jaai- she doesn’t know Nishad, so her – aah, strategies – don’t count!

Image result for bhushan pradhan
Anish {Bhushan Pradhan} – comes to “see” Jaai, falls for Neha in the first scene; the frontispiece of the movie. A real gem – people like him are rare, and special… steals the show, almost…

Image result for sandesh kulkarni
Paresh {Sandesh Kulkarni} – Without him, there is no movie. Cafe owner, and luckily for one person, one central character – the only other person with some sense of romance, Anish apart.
The story is one of a blossoming love between Nishad and Jaai… neither will say it for one excellent reason or another, both realise that the other person is THE person for them; one is stubborn as a mule, and with old-fashioned romantic ideas – Jaai wont say it, not ever, not her. Nishad? He wont either, for entirely different reasons. Not him – not ever, no way. NIshad is too uncertain, full of doubts, and reticent while being mature and balanced, and a deeply impressive personality; Jaai idealistic & romantic, wont take the first step. And she doesn’t – right till the very last climactic scene, when she stands dumb as a dodo, but no sir – she will NOT say it.

The difference is in the nut n bolts of the story; it has been presented as a flashback which tells a lovely heart-warming tale of falling in love; this has been interlaced with the scene of Nishad waiting for Jaai at the cafe for their “critical “ meeting. The flashback is in a conversation between Jaai and Anish – who has come with his parents to discuss marriage; Jaai tells Anish the story of her love when he bluntly asks – who is coming between us, as it is apparent to him that the lady isn’t interested. In that one scene – you get to really like Anish… Nishad – what can I say? The waiting scene at the cafe, which turns into hours, is when he starts talking with Paresh, the owner… 
Love is a subject that has been dealt with threadbare in movies; but if you dismiss this movie basis this fact, you will miss a movie that I call one of the best movies to come out of India in any language. This is a movie that grows on you, whose characters grow on you and entangle you in their story; a movie that is deeply engaging, practical and very, very realistic; a movie with zero melodrama, and a movie that creates a deep connect with the audience.
How do you attract, and keep audience interest in such a well-worn subject? By creating scenery and storylines, presenting fresh yet talented faces that have no audience expectations and hang-ups, dialogues and a presentation that tugs at heart strings, is very mature and balanced, and is something we can all relate to; something that is bubbly, full of life, soft and very engaging and lovable at first sight almost. This is not a trick that is easy to pull off – and this is where the movie succeeds big time; it has taken an old concept, and made it sufficiently fresh and different, that is carves a pedestal all for its lonesome.
The magic is in the treatment of the story, the dialogues, the situations presented, and the overall presentation and style. There is a complete absence of any melodrama, as the story unfolds beautifully along practical and close-to-real-life situations; there are no needless twists – and yet, the narrative is sufficiently taut, managing to keep you riveted right from the first scene quite literally, and keep you engaged right till the last scene when that idiot finally says it… {sorry Nishad}
The real beauty is in the sacrifice of the narrative speed; while the narrative of the movie is nice and taut – yet, in places, it has been deliberately allowed to meander here and there; these meanderings are very adroitly handled, and add to the story as well as the depth of the characters. Be it the reminiscence of an old couple on their 50thanniversary, or the interchange between the sisters- very scene is thoughtfully crafted, taking the story forward in some way. There isn’t a wasted scene in the entire movie from start to finish, and that is the most incredible part. This helps in creating a deep connect between the audience and the story, and a deeply absorbing tale unfolds.
If it is an Indian movie – there must be music; and songs – and the movie doesn’t disappoint, with some classy numbers. The songs aren’t too many, and are not forced either, which is great. The music is by Late Shri Gajanan Vatve and  Aditya Bedekar. One song that stands out is one that is also emblematic of the entire movie – different, yet loveable… Rang He Nave Nave, Duniya Hai Nai Nai; Mornings Are Just Magical, Shaame Bhi Hain Surmayee…. a mix of three languages…
The performances are universally excellent; that said – a word has to be said for Neha Mahajan, whose portrayal of Abha is real class. She steals the show – almost; as does Bhushan Pradhan, who in his portrayal of Anish, brings maturity and incredible balance through his impressive controlled performance. You of course get to like Prarthana as Jaai… But the movie, in my opinion, belongs to Vaibhav who steals the show despite having the least lines.. a superply controlled and soulful performance, with at times just his eyes doing the talking… truly class.

All in all, rated 5 stars. In my list, one of the best movies I have ever seen… in a list that has LOC Kargil, Golmaal, Angur, Mangalashtak Once More, Sumbaran, Ek Unaad Divas…