Browsing All Posts filed under »Cinema: Hindi«

Pretty pictures

October 22, 2016


On the great shallow pleasures of gawking at beautiful people on screen, and the problems when they pretend they’re otherwise. When the minute-and-a-half teaser for Karan Johar’s upcoming Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was released in August, I froze at the thirty-second mark, the point where Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, in a salmon-pink coat, turns to the […]

“Mirzya”… A major misfire… But for a while, a fascinating formal experiment

October 9, 2016


Spoilers ahead… Something about star-crossed lovers nudges our filmmakers towards formal experiments. Chetan Anand’s Heer Ranjha is entirely in exquisite verse. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, itself containing a lot of spoken verse, seals itself from natural light and the outside world – it’s shot entirely on doomed-fairy-tale sets painted in colours of the night. Rakeysh […]

Fact? Or rah-rah fiction?

October 6, 2016


The problem with the recently released biopic of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the problem with many biopics of the famous: the flaws make way for fawning. MS Dhoni – The Untold Story is a terrifically entertaining sports saga, but is it a biopic, a “biographical picture”? On the evidence of dictionary definitions, it probably qualifies. […]

From Love Marriage to Dhoni

October 3, 2016


A short history of cricket in Hindi cinema. Take the topic of cricket in Hindi cinema and the temptation to concoct a quiz is irresistible. For instance, name the actors who played father and daughter in two films featuring the game. That would be Naseeruddin Shah and Urmila Matondkar, inMasoom and Chamatkar. Which is the […]

“M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story”… Not a good biopic, but a perfectly entertaining yarn

October 2, 2016


Spoilers ahead… At one time, the minimal requirement for a biopic to be made about a man (or woman) wasn’t just a life that lent itself to drama but the subject’s death. Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948. Richard Attenborough’s film came nearly 35 years later. You could point to the films about Mary Kom and […]

More than a few good women

October 1, 2016


‘Dil Chahta Hai’ is the ultimate male-bonding movie, but today, the females seem more fascinating. So Dil Chahta Hai turned 15 this year. It hasn’t aged all that well. That’s the thing about being such an embodiment of your era that mere English words cannot do justice to what you captured. You need something heftier, […]

“Parched”… A very well-acted film that hits hard, hits home

September 29, 2016


Spoilers ahead… Is Radhika Apte the best weeper on screen today? With other actresses, you hunt for a handkerchief to lend, a ladies’ room to usher them into. You worry about their makeup. With Apte, the emotion goes deeper, down to her core, and then it bursts out. You hunt for something to hold on […]

“Banjo”… Some nice touches cannot salvage a trite story

September 28, 2016


Spoilers ahead… In Banjo, Marathi director Ravi Jadhav proves, once again, that only regional filmmakers know their way around a “mass” movie. It isn’t just that the underprivileged banjo-playing hero (Taraat, portrayed by Riteish Deshmukh) is shown rising from a manhole, blackened with sewage, after rescuing a child that’s fallen in. It’s that his bathing […]

“Pink”… A solid courtroom drama that makes solid points about the way we treat women

September 19, 2016


Spoilers ahead… Had Pink been made in Hollywood, it would have been labelled “Oscar bait.” It makes all the right noises. The story is one that will launch a thousand op-ed pieces. In an echo of Shah Rukh Khan’s gesture, the leading man’s name appears after the names of the female actors. The cast makes […]

“Freaky Ali”… A silly, uneven comedy with a terrific Siddiqui

September 12, 2016


Spoilers ahead… The attraction of Freaky Ali is the prospect of seeing Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a movie that, in just its first half-hour, insults a lisping child, a wizened old man and an albino (“nakli angrez!”) – all set to a background score made up of cartoon noises, the sonic equivalent of the BIFF, POW, […]

“Baar Baar Dekho”… A bland, but very pretty, time-travel romance

September 11, 2016


Spoilers ahead… There are films with eye candy. And then there are the Dharma films that deposit the eye at the confectionary store. Katrina Kaif is only the third most beautiful thing in Baar Baar Dekho, after her lavish Delhi home, whose lawns appear manicured by Toni & Guy, and Sidharth Malhotra. If I looked […]

“Akira”… Can’t hold a candle to the original

September 3, 2016


Spoilers ahead… To know the kind of filmmaker AR Murugadoss is, you only need the scene from Akira (a mostly faithful remake of the Tamil sleeper hit Mounaguru), where the victim of an acid attack sees herself in the mirror after her bandages come off. The people around her – family, friends – don’t make […]

Conversations with Mahesh Bhatt

September 3, 2016


This April, at this event, I was invited to converse with Mahesh Bhatt about Smita Patil. It took a while, but the video is finally here. Really enjoyed the conversation. Hope you do too.

“A Flying Jatt”… An amiably silly superhero film flounders when it gets serious

August 26, 2016


Spoilers ahead… An indigenous superhero who isn’t just generically Indian but a Sikh? Part of me says “What an idea, sir-ji,” while the other part wonders if what we need now is the celebration – rather, valourisation – of specific communities as saviours. (Whatever next? Captain Arora? Iyer Man?) But at least for a while, […]

“Happy Bhag Jayegi”… Should have been much better, but some really big laughs

August 19, 2016


Spoilers ahead… Imagine you wanted to make Tanu Weds Manu 3 and Kangana Ranaut did not have the dates. Who would you cast? Who else, among the current set of actresses, can embody this… this… force of nature? Anand L Rai, director of the Tanu Weds Manu films and one of the producers of Happy […]

“Rustom”… Vaguely watchable, and that may be overstating it

August 13, 2016


Spoilers ahead… I hadn’t heard of the Nanavati trial until I watched Bombay Velvet, and then I realised I’d seen two films loosely based on it: Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke and Achanak. These films – like Rustom, the latest iteration – don’t really try to recreate the sordid (and sensational) case. They are content […]

“Mohenjo Daro”… Every bit the film the trailer led us to fear

August 12, 2016


Spoilers ahead… Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro opens with a big disclaimer that none of what’s to follow should be taken too seriously. I suppose this injunction is meant for those who missed the trailer with the flying crocodile, but it does make sense, especially when you see what it really means: This isn’t a history […]

“Budhia Singh – Born to Run”… A solid drama that transcends rah-rah sports-biopic clichés and raises big questions

August 8, 2016


Spoilers ahead… A quick refresher from Wiki is all you need to know why a movie was begging to be made from the story of Budhia Singh: “Budhia Awooga Singh (born 2002) is an Indian boy and the world’s youngest marathon runner. Singh was born in the state of Odisha. He ran from Bhubaneswar to […]

“The Legend of Michael Mishra”… A painfully strained attempt at quirk

August 8, 2016


Spoilers ahead… Manish Jha loses little time letting us know that he’s made a quirky film. Over the opening credits of The Legend of Michael Mishra, we hear this song: “Film shuru hui hai, kursi pe set ho jao…” Jha wants us to be aware that he’s aware, that he’s not taking any of this […]

“Dishoom”… Disappointing action film, or a prototype of the Modi-era masala movie?

July 29, 2016


Spoilers ahead… John Abraham’s thesping skills have always been suspect, but after seeing Dishoom, where he plays a special agent named Kabir, I’m wondering if he’s losing the ability to do more basic things. Like smile. Or bring his hands close to his body. His torso resembles a tree trunk, and his hands angle downwards […]