Bell Bottom

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set during a time period when India was having rather peaceful moments with Pakistan, even though there were many internal conflicts due to different separatist or terrorist-oriented groups being formed within the country, threatening its unity and integrity. It was also the time period when too many flights were being hijacked, much to the dismay of the Indian Prime Minister of the time, Indira Gandhi (Lara Dutta). The newest flight to be hijacked is Indian Airlines flight IC 691, which left Delhi Airport on a fateful morning with passengers including the women’s Kabbadi team of India. It was also the seventh hijacking in the last five years, and this time, the flight had deviated a long way from its path, and there was no communication. Different departments and organizations keep blaming each other for matters of national security, but the Prime Minister calls for immediate attention. They call up the man who has all the information about hijacking, an analyst, also a RAW agent, Anshul Malhotra (Akshay Kumar), codenamed Bell Bottom.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Anshul also has some personal interest in the cases of hijacking, after being happily married to Radhika Malhotra (Vaani Kapoor), and always trying to clear UPSC with lots of hard work. His mother, Raavie Malhotra (Dolly Ahluwalia) was traveling to Great Britain in an Air India flight which was hijacked and taken to Lahore, Pakistan. Even though there was a negotiation between the two governments and also with the terrorists which led to release of the hostages, but only Raavie came back home dead, and it was reported in television that she died of natural causes. But Anshul never stopped focusing on the hijackings which had happened, as he was chosen as part of RAW. Back to this particular hijacking which seems to lead to a group known as Azaadi Dal, but Agent Bell Bottom is sure that this is the work of ISI, and Pakistan has always wanted something to do with these incidents.

And what else is to follow here with the hijack and the investigations? :: As Agent Bell Bottom has a long past related to all of these investigations, his superior officers are confident about his skills, but when the flight lands at Amritsar airport for a change. But when the airplane takes off from Amritsar and once again lands at Lahore airport, Agent Bell Bottom is once again called for an opinion, and this time, they will have to choose a different path. This time, there has to be that change to make a heavy impact, and also to assure that there will be no more hijackings and releasing of terrorists along with millions of dollars as ransom. But it seems that if negotiations are not allowed in Lahore, the airplane will land somewhere else, in a nation where India will be forced to negotiate. Agent Bell Bottom is prepared for the same though, and he calls of a team for an operation which only Mossad had tried before with some success. But they only have time till the next sunset.

The defence of Bell Bottom :: The movie does make the best use of the time period during which it is set. It is something which seems to be focused on, really well. The makers seem to have done a lot of research and has also done some good work in the recreation. The patriotism at the tip of everything also works well for most of time, and the emotional side works less in comparison. Bell Bottom keeps itself floating because it quickly goes back to where it needs to focus, whenever a deviation is being made. It also quickly leaves the usual Bollywood model to the background, and the same hesitates to make its return, and we end up appreciating the same. The final moments of action are also of fine quality, and even when there was the chance to overdo the same, they never take it – they don’t go that much realistic as Take Off had done, but we know how the paths are different, and therefore we know the choices that the makers have to make. The focus on entertainment makes the fine delivery here.

The claws of flaw :: There are surely those moments which were not needed, and some of the initial moments with emotional touch could have been avoided in a movie like this. The film could have directly gone into action, and the initial moments only seem to try and slow down the action just because a romantic song and a background with a tragedy can be there for long enough to be the motivation for what is to come later. There is also the feeling of watching what we have seen, a number of times. Movies like this one can have its own repetitions, but that has to be kept at the minimum. Some of the plot turns are also rather predictable, and those are not the elements which needed to be added in a film like this which could have used more suspense and bigger twists. In the end, we also see that things are solved rather too easily, instead of having a group of events coming together due to circumstances – films like this one can have bigger brains working behind.

Performers of the soul :: You see Akshay Kumar doing what he has done really well with a few movies in the past which has dealt with similar topics and situations. He had faced similar moments in films like Baby and Airlift, and had done the job with so much of quality related to his work – it is something which suits him really well, and we can always trust him to do this kind of job. He would make a perfect spy in a film like this at any moment. I would prefer to see him in films like these, rather than those comedy movies where he is often placed among some lower quality jokes. Lara Dutta as Indira Gandhi might be the biggest surprise which is in store here, even though we knew it from the trailer, and she blends in really well. Vaani Kapoor’s role is more or less the usual one in which we see the lady leads of Bollywood in a movie like this, and that is done well too. Huma Qureshi also has something to add for shorter period of time.

How it finishes :: Bell Bottom might remind us of some of similar films, but not related to hijacking, but in relation with the covert operations abroad. Most of us were not able to watch this movie in the theatres due to COVID-19 pandemic making the grand return in the form of second wave. This one had released during the Independence Day weekend, and there was also Shershaah on Amazon Prime, which would have been the first preference at that time, because most of the audience have Amazon Prime Video, and not the other options. But as a movie, we can consider Bell Bottom to be the winner of that week as far as Bollywood is considered, even though in the case of Malayalam films, it was Kuruthi rising above every other film. With a touch of patriotism and thrills being always there, it is good to welcome this film to Amazon Prime too, as we are still awaiting the opening of theatres in Kerala, with COVID-19 numbers coming down.

Release date: 19th August 2021 (India), 16th September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Ranjit M Tewari
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Denzil Smith, Adil Hussain, Aniruddh Dave, Thalaivasal Vijay, Dolly Ahluwalia, Mamik Singh, Zain Khan Durrani, Abhijit Lahiri, Sumit Kaul, Sunit Tandon, Jatin Negi, Kavi Raj, Amit Kumar Vashisth, Anjali Dinesh Anand, Ashok Chhabra, Balram Gupta, Girish Sharma, Nitin Khanna, Karim Saidi, Deesh Mariwala, Ahmed Yahya Berrada

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Indian film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Shershaah

What is the movie about? :: Vikram Batra (Sidharth Malhotra) had always wanted to be part of the military force, and achieves the same dream many years after he started thinking about the same. He has been someone who remained strong from childhood itself. He gets assigned to keeping an eye on the terrorist activities in the border area of Jammu and Kashmir area. Things seem safe and under control when he goes there, but as expected, there is always more than what meets the eye as far going close to the borders is concerned. They come against the first group of terrorists quick enough, and Vikram is blamed for not following the orders by Captain Sanjeev Jamwal (Shiv Pandit), even though everything ends perfectly. But Sanjeev still thanks him for saving his life in the process and making sure that the fight ended with them on the winning side, with no casualties at all – they end up being very good friends.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, there is something more terrifying going on in the background, with acts of terrorism ready to come across the border, and part of it also having roots already. At the same time, there is a flashback of the soldier’s life when he was at his earlier ages. While studying in Punjab University, he had fallen in love with Dimple Cheema (Kiara Advani), who hadn’t noticed him earlier, but had later gone to become his fiance. She had managed to get approval from her father only by telling him that if she won’t get to marry him, she will never marry anyone in her life. He also feels that he should join merchant navy instead of army to get a better salary so that he can get Dimple’s father to agree, but moves back on the same because his dream still drives him forward. She decides to wait for him, as he goes to be part of the army, and she would make sure that there are no more possible alliances being discussed at home.

And what more is to follow around here? :: Back at the camp, there seems to be many battles going on, and not just the small infiltration by the small scale terrorists. Vikram is quick to establish himself as a skilled soldier, and he is also good friends with the local people of Kashmir, due to which some people agree to become informers for him. He is also in charge of some risky operations in the process. There is also a bigger battle in store, as the Kargil War is about the begin. Despite being able to go back home on leave, Vikram has to return very soon, and join his team. Vikram is not someone who would stand back, and it seems that the enemy is crossing all limits, forcing them to quicken their actions. It would be a war which was to decide the future concerning two nations, as well as Kashmir, and the question remains about what is to follow in this for Vikram, as people back at home continue to worry. And then, there are more tales to come.

The defence of Shershah :: When we have war tributes in here, there was always something for us to watch, and this one also stays close to that idea. We also need acts of bravery to keep our world intact. There are some fine actions here which will be remembered, and are going to stay in our memory for the best. The combat scenes are all good, and there is something for our patriotic hearts, which stay on after the film ends too. The emotional side also remains strong, and we feel as part of the moments which the soldiers live through. It is always nice to have good movies dealing with the characters and subject. There are also some visuals of the world around them which never ceases to show the beauty of Kashmir. Along with the same, there is also the war during which the newer generation needs a reminder because even we were too young during the situation in Kargil, or were not born yet – we do get a reminder. You are always happy, and often in bliss to get the same in the name of the country.

The claws of flaw :: When we consider this movie as a work about a war hero, it could have been much more, with better elements of realism having scope to be present. After all, we have had many war movies before, not just in Bollywood, but also in Hollywood, even those works which were awarded well nationally and internationally. The background story, especially the love story remains too weak, and the same adds as an unnecessary part to an otherwise straightforward story of bravery in the border. Focusing on the romantic angle with songs never get old, and as far as love and songs being inserted somewhere when it should be kept at minimum, there is nobody in the whole world matching Bollywood. We do have the predictable moments in here too, and the film chooses not to go for innovation, going through the safe paths rather than anything else. The dramatic moments could also make way for more realistic style in comparison. There were immense possibilities regarding the same too, and there are moments which remind us of the same.

Performers of the soul :: Sidharth Malhotra handles things right, and he has blended into this role quite well too. This is a different kind of role compared to the type of roles in which I had seen him before. He looks very good in this role, and he is even more than that. In the scenes of war, he does the best, and he gets to be inspirational in the display. Kiara Advani is pretty good in what she does, but the love story is rather weak, and not that much suitable in the totality of the scheme of things. She could have got a better role if it was the college time period being shown with less focus on the romantic side, but romance always comes out of somewhere in these films, and that will continue to be the greatest cliché of all time. The other performers are also good, but they don’t really get that much to do. Shiv Pandit is the one who gets our attention the best among them, and there are a few more actors playing the soldiers that have something in here.

How it finishes :: It is always good to provide some tributes to the war heroes, and in doing the same, Shershaah does succeed. The movie still didn’t have that much of a promotion as Toofaan had in this part of India, and that is a shame, because the film should have released with more people knowing about its presence on Amazon Prime Video, the OTT platform which most people uses around here. Still, they would sooner or later understand that this is an interesting, as well as entertaining war drama. There is also a strong emotional side to the same. Being a tribute to the brave soldier who was awarded with the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration, the great award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War, the film has those perfect moments which will work for the patriot among us. You can never have enough of films on our soldiers, and we pay our respect to the man of valour. Therefore, we watch this movie on Amazon Prime Video, and stay safe from COVID-19 for now. Happy Independence Day and Happy Onam in advance.

Release date: 12th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Vishnuvardhan
Starring: Sidharth Malhotra, Kiara Advani, Shiv Pandit, Jaaved Jaaferi, Nikitin Dheer, Himmanshoo A Malhotra, Anil Charanjeett, Shataf Figar, Sahil Vaid, Raj Arun

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Bollywood review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hollywood review.

<— Click here to go to film reviews from other OTT platforms.

Also, look out for the best of the year so far.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Toofaan

What is the movie about? :: There are some usual days in the big city, as Aziz Ali a.k.a. Ajju Bhai (Farhan Akhtar) is fighting in the streets – there is no hesitation for him in going on beating people mercilessly, and even getting beaten up in the process. After the fight, and after being hit on the head during the process, he goes to hospital where Dr Ananya (Mrunal Thakur) asks them to get out, as she doesn’t want to treat gangsters who keep causing trouble in the city. Soon, Ali begins to develop an interest in boxing, which seems unusual in the beginning for his friends, but he is indeed very serious about it. Even though he has the strength, and wants to keep fighting, lacks the accuracy and technique. It is the same reason why he goes on a trial without any plan, and gets beaten by perfect shots from the seemingly weaker opponent despite going strong in the initial stages. Nana Prabhu (Paresh Rawal) is the coach who makes the difference around there, and Ali hopes that he could train with him some day, and become a great boxer like Muhammed Ali.

So, what happens with the events here? :: It turns out that Nana is the father of Ananya, and after some continuous attempts, decides to take him in, much to his own surprise. But it takes a lot of time and effort to gain the next level of his attention. He has to spend most of his time fighting the lower level of boxers, and he keeps training at all times, leaving his recent life behind. He is very quick to go through the next steps, and at the state level, he is given the title “toofaan” while going through the state championships, quite an easy path to the finals. But things won’t go that easy when Nana finds out that Ananya is in love with Ali. He no longer wants to do anything with any of the two, and Ananya decides to leave their home. This brings the twist, and the later stages of life now has to be dealt in a different manner. But the journey forward won’t be easy for them, and it will make them take some desperate actions in the process, which wouldn’t provide the best results. Yet, they have to make sure that they did make a good attempt.

The defence of Toofan :: As this is a sports drama based on boxing, there is no shortage of action around here, and the fights don’t begin in the ring as far as this particular film is concerned, as the underdog, as expected, had to come from the streets. It is the kind of idea that never gets old, as everyone loves comebacks, not just of one kind, but of different styles. The pattern seems perfect here, and there is the inspirational element at work, even though too much of motivation cannot be good. The emotional moments are pretty much working, even though they are somewhat moving in an expected manner, and predictability is also there in the rest of the things – we still have our dose of inspiration, action and emotions. Some dialogues can be remembered, even though it is the trailer that has the best. The romantic side remains cute, even though often seeming like forced in here. We have watched films like Brothers, and so this one nicely holds on to similar idea with ease.

The claws of flaw :: The sports drama genre has had a lot of repetition in the past, and if you look at Malayalam film industry, there have been two, Finals and Kho Kho, which could deviate from the usual path of the sports drama movies. In comparison to these films, there is a lot of cliches in this one, and from the beginning itself, there are so many things which go on the predictable lines. The songs and dance steps also come out of nowhere, and it is time for the industry to keep them to minimum – they are not mandatory in any case. Having a movie like this without a romantic angle between the main characters was also a possibility here, and maybe that seemed to be too unusual a diversion against the safe path here. It is time that films like these go less predictable, and move out of pattern to bring a higher level of sports drama, for such an improvement is the need of the time – until then, we will adjust with this one in the usual model and hope for the better versions.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has to depend almost completely on Farhan Akhtar, as he is the one name that can bring the audience to this path to watch the flick. He has some fine moments for the audience, even though we have already seen a number of them before, in different forms. There are those happy moments and those highly emotional, sad moments. The moments in the boxing ring are indeed good ones too – those were expected though, as we have seen the trailers. The last movie I watched with him in the lead was Wazir, and that was indeed a good one – well, I haven’t been into Bollywood films much, and this is more a come back for me as a Bollywood film reviewer more than for anyone else. As his character does go for a comeback, the motivation stuff comes into the picture again. Well, sports drama has been meant for the same for a long time, and it is that spirit which Farhan Akhtar maintains here, and it is always better than rich people going on trips to Europe just because they have too much money and they can claim to reclaim their lives.

Further performers of the soul :: Paresh Rawal also does a great job as the boxing coach and trainer. Then, he is also that father figure who is to remembered in another way. As he has done many times, he does again, with emotional moments in this film. He remains completely natural in his act here. Mrunal Thakur is the usual leading lady, and goes through the romantic side that we keep seeing in similar films. She does have a lovely presence though, and plays nicely to the requirement of the movie, and there is lot of positivity brought here by her – she has the same in different stages of life. She would be even more suited for a feel-good movie, and with her face and expressions, is immensely suitable for the same kind of a film. She does remind one of Aditi Rao Hydari at some points. Vijay Raaz is the other most notable face, even though he is not there throughout the film. There are many other characters who nicely play along here, and they all become part of the whole – the signs of the same are present in the beginning itself.

How it finishes :: Toofaan adds to the long list of sports drama movies which have graced the Indian film industries, and does add some entertainment, even though there is no innovation regarding the same – we usually know what happens with the storylines of these films without thinking too much about the same. The thrills that the boxing sport provides is much more than any other, and in that way, this movie manages to come up with more, with the action background always having scope, while the emotional side comes up to add another angle here. With the release being postponed multiple times, and finally releasing in the OTT platform of Amazon Prime Video, it does have enough to keep us interested in the sports, and while the Malayalam movie Godha has us taken to the world of wrestling in a different way compared to Dangal, this one goes the boxing path, and when the sports which are less appreciated get some attention, it is always good. The first Bollywood film I watched after a long time did work for me here.

Release date: 16th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Paresh Rawal, Mrunal Thakur, Vijay Raaz, Mohan Agashe, Hussain Dalal, Darshan Kumar, Supriya Pathak

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous English film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Trapped

Vampire Owl: Aren’t we all trapped? Isn’t that the reality of our world?

Vampire Bat: How are you trapped? You are wandering all around.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about being trapped in this body and this world.

Vampire Bat: Oh! So, you want to be dead and meet Lady Death to be with her again.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is kind of like that. There is that certain need which doesn’t go away.

Vampire Bat: You do no the consequences of the same, don’t you?

Vampire Owl: Will I be locked in the top floor of the vampire castle like this particular person ended up?

Vampire Bat: No, unless you make the mistake of locking yourself in. I am sure that you can get out through the keyhole, invoking your inner vampire anyway.

Vampire Owl: Dude, my vampirism is rather inside out.

Vampire Bat: Well, you have to find your true inner vampire, and it is now or never.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao) is not the most popular person in the company which he works and has very less number of friends. He has problems talking about his love to Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa), but finally when he manages to do the same, they are together – now the problem remains that they need to get married before she is forced to marry someone else. But before that, he needs to find a house for them live in, and he is just not able to do that with his small salary – both of them don’t earn enough together, and can’t afford to give advance to renting a new house in the locality. There seemed to be many choices earlier, but soon, he seemed to be running out of options, and as the clock seems to be moving so fast, he is prepared to be settled with anything. It is then that he gets what he wants, and feels that this is all going to work fine, but little does he know that it is only going to mess up everything further.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The new place that he gets to stay is a room at the top floor of an apartment which is newly built, and is at a great height. It is not used for living, as there is some legal issues with its construction, and a case is pending at the court. It stands tall in the city, with no people within and around, as only one old security guard is there to look after the whole thing, and doesn’t really care what happens. So, renting out this place seems to be too easy for the young broker (Yogendra Vikram Singh) who is only happy to gain anything from the same. So, without letting the guard know about it, he just moves in with the essential things without telling his friends or anyone at the company, even his own lover. After he falls asleep, he wakes up late next morning, and in a hurry to get to his lover, goes out, and runs back to get his mobile which he had forgotten – but he had left the key outside the door, and ends up getting locked inside.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: He finds that his mobile is on low battery, and quickly tries to make calls, but soon the battery gets to zero power, and it turns out that there is no electricity there either. There is no water supply either, and his attempts to break the lock as well as the door itself fails. He tries shouting, but nobody hears him from that far away, and his attempts at writing down things on a cardboard box reaches nobody – even when it reaches someone, it is taken only as a prank as everyone knows that nobody lives in the flat which is plagued by a court case. As days go on, he begins to have hallucinations, and decides to take more desperate measures to ensure his own survival. But the question remains how long he can go on like this, with no chance to communicate to the outside world about his hopeless situation, which gets more and more desperate every day? There is the need to act quickly, or he is done.

The defence of Trapped :: You will find Trapped in its own divergent mode to be effective right from the first moment all these things in the flat begin. This genre is not really something that brings our movies into the confort zone, neither does it do the same for the audience, but this one seems to have got the balance here. You feel the need to get the protagonist out as much as he does for himself – being a common caught in a terrible situation, his tale connects to us better than the others. It also shows the situation in a busy city where nobody cares for the others – it is to be noted that the nobody never really cared that the protagonist was missing and didn’t care to come looking for him – it is all work and nothing else in a busy world which has so less for the common man. We have that there will be hope for more at some other times, but there is none. Rajkummar Rao is undoubtedly the star here, as he makes things better every second, starting from that door getting locked. Geetanjali Thapa has a cute and smart presence in this one when she is there.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does have its slower moments in the middle, and the beginning actually feels rather too ordinary and interesting – it takes getting locked inside an apartment to make things interesting. One also wonders why people never really noticed the fire even in the night – something like that is possible in an abandoned building, and it had to be checked for, no matter where you are – these days, people are suffering from the terrible lack of curiosity, or are they not? It also reminds us of a number of survival thrillers, and you know the names without second thoughts, as they are that good. This won’t come close to being there with them though. It is also the same reason why you would want more with this movie, with more efforts to escape, and what else can be tried differently in an effective manner. The songs are not that interesting, but they are not to focused on.

How it finishes :: When you consider how well this movie seems to have been done, one can only wonder why it doesn’t get to release here with some publicity – we know that even if it is a good movie, the cast wouldn’t matter that much – we know how some of those Bollywood superstar movies run here without much of an audience leading to shows getting cancelled again and again, finally disappearing from the theatre list in less than a week. This type of movies need to have its trailers and posters all around here, and after getting that needed attention, can get to be watched by more people. Serious survival horror has had less attention in our world, and other than Warning which was taken from the much popular Hollywood movie, there is not much being even remotely close to being known to the public. We could have always used more, and it is surely nice to have this one around here. I am sure that we are going to have more of such divergence in the future, like there was with movies like Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0.

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Vikramaditya Motwane
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Geetanjali Thapa, Yogendra Vikram Singh, Rahul Dutta , Malay Garg, Girish, Patrick Graham, Rajiv Khanna, Hawk McNab, Hardik Mehta, Rahul Patel, Anup Rupanwar, Shiladitya Sen, RN Shukla, Vivek Soni

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Naam Shabana

Vampire Owl: I know this person from Baby.

Vampire Bat: This is a spin-off prequel to that movie, and so it is no surprise that you know her.

Vampire Owl: So, this is both a spin-off and a prequel? That should mean two levels.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one also has Ajay Singh Rajput played by Akshay Kumar, Anjali Singh Rajput played by Madhurima Tuli and Om Prakash Shukla played by Anupam Kher.

Vampire Owl: And joins Shabana Khan played by Taapsee Pannu, I see.

Vampire Bat: There is also our own Prithviraj with an evil side.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see what can be better than that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Ivide had shown his negative shades better than any other.

Vampire Owl: And we remember that older movie with him playing the bad cop getting reformed – Vargam, I guess. I also liked him in his other Bollywood movie, Aurangzeb.

Vampire Bat: Bollywood needs a few more in their movies, just like him. I still have Memories in my head.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) is a college student who is also practicing Judo to take part in a number of competitions. Her mother, Farida Begum Khan (Natasha Rastogi) is in full support of her, whatever she plans to do. She doesn’t hesitate in beating up people who cause any kind of nuisance, no matter how small it is, or how meaningless the fight is. She has made herself tougher, as she had grown up watching her father beat up her mother mercilessly all the time after coming home drunk and out of his senses. On one of those days when he was attacking her mother, she had hit her father so hard on the back of his head, that he ended up dead – it had left her in the juvenile home, until coming back stronger to help her mother move forward with her life. This flashback about her is rather unknown to her new friends.

So, what happens next? :: Shabana is quite a popular girl in the college, and one of her friends, Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala) has fallen in love with her. He asks her to accompany him for dinner, and they seem to have fallen in love, but on that night, they come across some eve teasing, to which she decides to respond – the result is Jai getting killed and leaving her scarred for life. His parents blame her for the incident, and despite going to the police station almost every day, she finds no progress at all. Frustrated and without hope, one day while returning from the police station, she gets the calls of an unknown man (Manoj Bajpayee) who gives her an offer she can’t refuse. She will get her revenge against the four men, but he wants something from her in return. So, will she manage to live up to the promise on her end, and will he be able to do the same?

The defence of Naam Shabana :: A lot of reviewers who go around in Bollywood are sure to miss how good Prithviraj Sukumaran has been in this movie, and there is that tendency to figure out how much they can appreciate everyone else. The makers won’t give that much for someone of such calibre, and the reviewers will just focus more on the Bollywood stars – just like I had written earlier in the review of the short-film, Invisible Actor, that there are actors and superstars, and there are those who are good enough to become both and maintain the balance. Along with him and Taapsee, the movie has its thrilling side going. There are also some very nice action sequences, and nothing overdone in that department. There are also some nice dialogues to go with the same – some of them are actually funny, whether intentional or not. It also feels good to get an origin story, which provides more scope for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: Some scenes in this movies are just strange – with people removing their shirts to fight, vengeance given so much importance by an intelligence wing, the villain willingly giving away his identity when there was other options considering how smart he is, choosing the rookie to do this dangerous mission when there are experienced people around, and so on. It is still good to see that such Bollywood tendencies get to be controlled up to an extent. Shabana also has rather less attention on her character than everything else about her. Some of the moments just get funny when they shouldn’t have been, and we also get so much less of the villain who should have been the highlight of this movie from the darker side. The first half of the movie, with its stretched romance, becomes the rather too long thing here too. They could have done without the songs too.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Taapsee Pannu does provide some knockout punches here, and she suits the character really well – even when the character is not flawless, she nullifies a few bad sides. It her work in the original movie which has inspired this one, and she gets to play the girl with fire more. Everyone loved her in Pink, and this one no longer has her as a damsel in distress – she gets to make sure that her agency remains a proud one. Still, as her work in Baby was so effective in such a short time, that would be remembered more. Prithviraj Sukumaran who was seen in Malayalam movies which were different kind of thrillers, Oozham, Ezra and Tiyaan, here we have him playing the villain, and I am sure that having more of him would have helped this movie better. Akshay Kumar’s role is small, but quick and effective, while Manoj Bajpayee only gets to talk, without getting any action. Madhurima Tuli and Anupam Kher also cross over here from Baby.

How it finishes :: Naam Shabana is a movie which could have done better with more focus on its antagonist, and a more consistent character development of our protagonist. If you don’t go for this one with the expectations high considering Baby, you are surely not going to be disappointed – it is that one which automatically let the expectations go high, and the makers seem to have thought that this would bring the money. They could have made more money with better focus on Prithviraj, but here, they have taken rather too much time for even Taapsee’s training to begin. Still, Naam Shabana is another thriller that works, and even without the name of Baby attached to it, there is more to the tale. Maybe the stand-alone feeling will give the flick even more strength. You can only watch this one and come up with your own opinion, and the need for another movie in the franchise.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Shivam Nair
Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Madhurima Tuli, Anupam Kher, Murali Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala, Natasha Rastogi, Manav Vij, Mohan Kapoor, Elli Avram, Shibani Dandekar, Virendra Saxena, Aparna Upadhyay

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Udta Punjab

Vampire Owl: I know a few humans who thought that they would never get to watch this movie.

Vampire Bat: There are humans who think that they will never get to see a vampire, but here we are, able to appear whenever we wish to.

Vampire Owl: I heard that they had a problem with censor board.

Vampire Bat: We should be thankful that the movies about the great deeds of Uncle Dracula are not given to them for certification.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the great imperial vampire video was uncensored?

Vampire Bat: Yes, you easily get that from the violence.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that it is violence – what you see in the video feels rather natural than anything else.

Vampire Bat: It is more natural to humans than us, but they censor it, you know.

Vampire Owl: They are so afraid of the inherent evil in them.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and they blame everyone other than them for the same.

[Gets three cups of English tea with special snacks].

What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the tale of four people people in the state of Punjab, a Punjabi musician named Tejinder Singh (Shahid Kapoor), an unnamed Bihari migrant working at a farm known only by the name Bauria (Alia Bhatt), an inspector in the Punjab police department named Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), and a doctor who is also a social activist named Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor), whose lives get connected to each other due to the smuggling of drugs into the state. Sartaj’s brother Balli Singh (Prabhjyot Singh) is one of those drug addicts who ends up in the hospital, and it turns out that the police officer had almost no idea about his brother using drugs. He is treated by Preet who hopes to bring him back to normal life, through her rehabilitation cenre. At the same time, she tells Sartaj that the drug menace has become too much and the police department is not taking action about the same.

So, what happens next? :: As Sartaj decides to get deep into the drug problem, Tejinder, who is known by the name Tommy Singh, and as Gabru among his fans, is leading a rather clueless life outside the world of music. Throwing parties all the time, and keeping on consuming cocaine, he has no control over his life. His fans are not that different either, as they follow his example, having no responsibility, and trying to be like him. As Tommy takes this troubled path, he ends up in jail, and there he meets his fans inspired by him ending up in prison just like him. Sartaj is also the one to arrest Tommy, and is influenced by Preet to do something against the drug problem which threatens to turn the state into a situation similar to Mexico. He decides that it is time that he does something about this problem against which nobody even dares to talk or take action.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: As this girl known by the name Bauria wanders around in the farm where she is working, she ends up finding a packet. She understands that it is some kind of drug, as her landlord uses agriculture to hide his dealing with drugs. The girl, who had her dreams of playing national level hockey for the nation shattered, decides to sell this, and get some money. But she doesn’t know trouble she is getting herself into, as she is captured by a gang of drug dealers who sexually abuse her, and keep her locked in their farmhouse. It is then that a reformed Tommy decides to take responsibility to change the world, and Sartaj as well as Preet gets further in gathering information about the drug problem and the people behind the same. But with so many powerful people including police and politicians having their hands in the same, can anyone bring a change?

The defence of Udta Punjab :: There is sincerity about this movie, and we are put face to face against an evil which needs to be stopped as soon as possible. The best thing about the movie is that it never glorifies drug abuse – there was the movie Spirit against alcohol, which began with the glorification of the same only to end up with a message against the same as it strived towards the finish. But Udta Punjab begins and ends with the same idea shown on the screen, and chooses the right path. At the same time, we once again notice that it is Alia Bhatt who steals the show with that kind of a character which is to stay with us for long, unlike what she has been doing with ridiculous romantic flicks like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya and Shaandar, or some half-cooked story like Dear Zindagi. Here she scores by playing the role of a commoner going through the struggle, and we know how good she can be, from Highway. Shahid Kapoor, at the same time, seems to live in this role, which is too good to watch. Diljit Dosanjh, whom most of us are seeing for the first time on the screen, has a controlled and memorable performance in store for us here. Kareena Kapoor, compared to the rest, has lesser to do, but remains the big presence.

The claws of flaw :: You will feel that the movie does go too slow in the middle, and it also takes a little too much in the beginning to get going, having you as a doubtful one in the beginning. The movie could have used its tale in a more effective way so that nothing is lost in the middle. There is rather too much of ups and downs in this movie, which could have kept itself at a certain level instead of coming down when not expected. A lot of people are also going to feel the essence of a documentary in this one, as there are no real heroes in this one, but common people who struggle against an evil which threatens to destroy our world – not really the usual Bollywood-ish kind of thing, is it? Well, it also seems to be forced to add a little bit of a romantic side to its main characters, and maybe the inspiration for the same is nothing more than knowing that we still have the Bollywood fans to please and gather support so that the one hundred crore mark could be reached. The seemingly funny side is also as a little bit too strange at times to be called funny.

How it finishes :: Udta Punjab is the movie that you can’t ignore, no matter what you think about it – it is also difficult to end up not appreciating this effort which seems so genuine right from the beginning itself. There is a certain amount of honesty here that we will end up appreciating – even when there is chance, the movie doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. It is surely a lesson, something for the new generation who is taking the easy path out with alcohol and drugs; the question will be whether they will learn enough from the movie to stop being addicted or if they will continue to fall into addiction. No matter what the youth decides, it is up to everyone to unite against the drug menace, and also spread the word against this kind of silent terror which has more strength than any direct act of terrorism to destroy our world as well as what goes beyond the same.

PS: Do watch the movie of the week, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.

Release date: 17th June 2016
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Satish Kaushik, Suhail Nayyar, Prabhjyot Singh, Harpreet Singh, Manav Vij, Avinash Kumar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Neerja

Vampire Owl: So, we get to watch the movie which is known as the best of Sonam Kapoor.

Vampire Bat: And the movie which managed to be the Best Feature Film in Hindi for the year at 64th National Film Awards.

Vampire Owl: Her movies before this one happens to be Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Dolly Ki Doli and Khoobsurat, right?

Vampire Bat: It is indeed a scary list. But we should look beyond them as humans are unpredictable in many ways.

Vampire Owl: The last time I trusted one of them, I lost a feather. It was a pre-historic feather which Doctor Frankenstein attached to me.

Vampire Bat: Come on, Bewakoofiyaan which came before these movies was quite an okay movie.

Vampire Owl: I don’t even think about that kind of movies.

Vampire Bat: Don’t tell me that you don’t have the feeling that this could be good or even more than that.

Vampire Owl: I have no feelings about some movies; I just watch as if right out a coffin sleep.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets just watch this one then.

[Gets three cups of Ceylon tea with Arrowroot biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the tale of Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) who is in her early twenties, living with her family and having a normal life. She used to be a model, and is now performing the duties of a flight attendant in Pan American World Airways, of which her mother Rama Bhanot (Shabana Azmi) doesn’t have that much of an opinion. The company which was largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until 1991 has her assigned to Pan American Flight 73 which started from the Sahar International Airport in Mumbai, going through Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, as well as Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, until finally reaching John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. For the same, she is taken to the airport by her friend Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani) who has feelings for her. But there is a past that haunts her, and has kept her away from relationships.

And what is the flashback all about? :: There was that unhappy arranged marriage of her, to Naresh (Kavi Shastri), a man working in Qatar, who had abused her over the dowry and her lack of expertise in doing household work, especially in cooking for him – he is particularly angry at her for him having to spend his money to buy food from outside and expects her to keep good and tasty food ready each and every day when he returns from work. But it doesn’t satisfy him despite her trying so hard. In the end, she returns home and takes up modelling again. Naresh sends a letter from the Middle East, accusing her of not good at looking after home, and asks her not to return without more money. Devastated, she decides never to return to him, supported by her family members. She finds a job as a flight attendant with Pan American World Airways at the same time, and decides to be happy, remaining the big fan of fan of actor Rajesh Khanna, frequently using the quotes from his films as goes through her simple life.

So, what happens next? :: As the flight reaches Karachi from Mumbai, four members of the Abu Nidal terrorist organisation, Libyan sponsored and based out of Palestine, murders the guards, and enters the airplane with guns, grenades and other explosives. Dressed as security guards, they make it through rather easily and keeps everyone at gunpoint. As the hijackers were not aware that the cockpit of this particular flight, Boeing 747 is upstairs, Neerja gets enough time to alert the three American pilots who quickly escapes through the overhead hatch, making their way to the terminal, despite the terrorists keeping on firing at them. This meant that the flight could no longer take off, and the four terrorists, Khalil (Jim Sarbh), Fahad (Vikrant Singta), Safirini (Abrar Zahoor) and Mansoor (Ali Baldiwala) were left in the airplane with their plan already becoming not that effective. But they are determined to kill any number of people if no pilot was sent to the plane – they would start by those holding American passports; who all will survive this unleashing of terror?

The defence of Neerja :: The tale of the courageous lady who saved the lives of 359 people from the clutches of Libyan-sponsored Palestinian terrorists is nothing less than inspiring a long salute from the bottom of the heart, and the courage displayed will inspire more. The movie also makes us sad and depressed about the ongoing acts of terrorism, but makes us believe that there is someone like her who becomes the light. Sonam Kapoor deserves the appreciation for the work that she has done here, coming from some of those terrible movies which gave her not much to work on. But Sonam has brought her best ever performance here, and it is something that will ask for the appreciation, and we shall provide her the same for living through the life of this young lady who died saving lives. She seems to fit in this role better than the rest of the roles in her career, and a lot of Bollywood actresses could have messed this up by overacting, or messed the whole thing up adding unnecessary elements, but here, the leading actress as well as the director keeps things in control. Yes, this one goes realistic.

The claws of flaw :: Neerja, when you look at it as a movie, doesn’t have that much depth to the proceedings. It is all dependent on Sonam Kapoor, and the rest are just there to support her and make sure that she gets more and more chances to do better. We can also see what might be an attempt not to get further into detail, as there is not much talked about the background of the hijacking, and also about how the terrorists decided on this path, as well as a background check on them. There is not much in the music to go for either. The terrorists are also not that much interesting, but that should be more about them also being custom made to fit in, rather than become the people that they have been or should have been. You will also find that there are moments when Sonam Kapoor misses out, but they will be forgotten as they are too minute to notice. In the end, the movie should have also focused more on her being the inspiration rather than focusing on the sadness, for Neerja as well as the flight attendants have all achieved something that anyone related to them could be proud of.

How it finishes :: The biographical movies as well as flicks inspired by real events have been the strong point of Bollywood for some time, even as mindless movies do get to one hundred crore of box-office collection with ease. You know how well Airlift and Rustom turned out to be, no matter how much fiction was added. As a biopic based on the life of someone who who saved life at the cost of her own, and on the one who became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime award for bravery, who was also the first woman to receive the same, this is a movie worth even more. In the year 2004, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp in memory of her. Pakistan government also presented her with Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat, for showing incredible human kindness. These are the kind of tales which should become movies more, so that people can believe that humanity is not without hope, and that there is still chance for redemption of mankind. Movies on such good, brave, men and women will always inspire us to do something great, which we at some point had thought to be impossible. Lets hope that we will be delivered from evil.

Release date: 19th February 2016
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Ram Madhvani
Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku, Shekhar Ravjiani, Kavi Shastri, Sadh Orhan, Vikrant Singta, Jim Sarbh, Abrar Zahoor, Ali Baldiwala, Kavi Shastri, Bobby Arora, Edward Sonnenblick, Arnold Malek, Waqar Khan, Nikhil Sangha, Arjun Aneja, Sushil Tyagi, Ismail Mohammed Mirza, Andy von Eich, Meghana Kaushik, Eisha Chopra, Sunanda Wong, Anjali Khurana, Shashi Bhushan, Aarush Rana, Shaurya Chopra, Vishwendra Singh, Chandra Thakur, Manya Chopra, Prashant Guptha, Asha Joshi, Alex Kozyrev, Ikhlaque Khan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dangal

Vampire Owl: I am not that much into wrestling these days. Even though I do wrestle my own demons every day.

Vampire Bat: It is not that much of a wrestling if you look at it from another person’s perspective.

Vampire Owl: But they are good. They even breathe fire once in a week.

Vampire Bat: Why do they breathe fire inside your mind? Can’t they do it at better places?

Vampire Owl: They are my personal demons. They should wrestle at my place only.

Vampire Bat: You should ask Doctor Frankenstein to get a mind projector so that we all can know how the wrestling competition goes.

Vampire Owl: It should be banned in the castle due to the violence involved, so no Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: You surely got a violent mind there.

Vampire Owl: What can I do? It is in my blood because I drank the elixir of violence during our expedition to the Northern Kingdoms.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the right thing to drink is the elixir of life. This is a banned drink.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former wrestler and a national champion who lives in Balali, a village in Haryana. Despite being a very good wrestler who was better than most of the others around, he had to choose a fruitful job and leave the sport because his father asked him to do the same. But he still remembers the sport, and can beat almost every local champion – his love for wrestling is something that stays, and seems to be something which is forever. Now he does have a good job, but he is not satisfied with his achievements which doesn’t involve what he was so good at. When his wife Daya Shobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) gets pregnant, he declares that his unborn son is going to win the medal for the nation. The superstitious villagers come up with many ideas which would make sure that the child born will be male and not female, and Mahavir awaits the birth of the son who will make him proud.

So, what happens next? :: But things don’t go as planned, as despite trying different strange ideas brought by the village’s residents, Mahavir ends up having one girl after the other, making the total number as four. This leads to him having no more hope about the same, and goes on concentrating on his job as well as household activities. Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) are his eldest daughters, who get to live into his dreams, after they beat up the boys who make fun of them. As he realises that a medal is a medal and gold is gold, no matter whoever brings that, he begins training them hard. The girls have to start working hard early in the morning, and even has to cut their hair short, which bothers them in the beginning – they begs him to let them live their life like the other children, but ends up doing what he wants them to do, as he leaves them with no other choice.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It is the beginning of an adventure which will go and on, getting Mahavir closer and closer to his dreams through his two girls. The time when the girls were wrestling and defeating boys is over, as Geeta goes on to win the junior championships at the state and then the national level, finally getting to capture the national senior championship. It meant that she had to go to the National Sports Academy in Patiala to train with other girls from all around India for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. This changes things, as the coach at the academy, Pramod Kadam (Girish Kulkarni) doesn’t want Mahavir to influence Geeta anymore, and works hard to make sure that only his own methods are correct, and in no way will Geeta do according her father’s methods. Geeta gives in and follows her coach, as well as the other girls, spending their time eating fast food, watching silly romantic movies and having all kinds of fun. Deviating from the ways of her father, can Geeta make it big without her father, or will she find a way to balance everything on her way to gold?

The defence of Dangal :: Dangal is one of those sports drama movies which will save all the other sports from the evil onslaught of cricket which threatens to destroy each and every other sport in India. The Malayalam movie Godha also tries to do the same, as wrestling gets more than one movie to try and do the same. This is also relevant in the times when gender inequality, female foeticide and child marriage don’t intend to stop completely; it becomes even more relevant considering the part of India where this occurs. This is certainly bigger than Lagaan, not just because this is supporting an attention-seeking sport, but also because that inherent foolishness in that flick doesn’t show its head here; the superiority in comparison to M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is rather clear. For Aamir Khan, this should be one of his best performances too – he earlier had PK, and now he has this one, and not another Dhoom, which is indeed nice. When so many actors are playing safe, we have to appreciate the experimenting the man has been doing with not just his acting, but also the physique. Then there is the patriotic feeling, and we are left with the need for more gold of the nation.

The claws of flaw :: You will find that this movie is so much about the trainer rather than the wrestlers, despite the fact that the girls do some nice job. It is rather strange to see the progress of things here, as the tale here is also rather predictable. The idea of a father making his daughters do only what he wants them to do, doesn’t seem to be that good an idea in every case, and one has to wonder what would have happened if the training had failed – all things are nice when they are successful. Then there is Bollywood, bringing some melodrama with father’s love, as it has a history of bringing parents’ love to the next level of tears – with such a nice beginning, the emotions running around just misses the grip. The movie is also too lengthy, and has its slow moments which pull the flick right back. The climax is predictable, with the last minute win, with a memory of something from the father – it is where the realistic take will have only second place to the emotional addition of low level thrills.

How it finishes :: We already know how good Bollywood is with biographical drama, and there are so many examples of the same, from Neerja to the more fictionalised Rustom and Airlift which was even more acclaimed. It is more like the genre that saves Bollywood from the usual, repetitive stuff that it usually comes up with, adding some superstar to it. Dangal is no different, as it gets its strong emotional side to work in favour of the idea, and tells the tale of two sisters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari who go on to win medals at the Commonwealth Games, and their father Mahavir Singh Phogat who trains them. Dangal is very much successful in making the drama work, making it the highest grossing Indian movie of all-time, and also boasts of a great record overseas, especially in China. Well, most of the Bollywood movies go one way, and Dangal chooses another path, and among those movies which go the right way, this one is the flick that made the most impact. For more twisted of such divergent paths, there are Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Starring: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Aparshakti Khurana, Ritwik Sahore, Vivan Bhatena, Kaustubh Pile, Girish Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma, Meenu Prajapati, Badrul Islam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Raman Raghav 2.0

What is the movie about? :: The movie makes it clear that it is not about Raman Raghav a.k.a. Psycho Raman who was a famous serial killer, who unleashed terror in the city of Mumbai in the 1960s. About fifteen years later, another serial killer named Ramanna (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who seems to follow the same kind of methods, starts his work in the same city. His way of operating is rather strange, and the police has not much clue about what his operations are. His list of victims only get longer, and it also includes Ramanna’s own sister, Lakshmi (Amruta Subhash) who is living with her husband (Ashok Lokhande) and their only son. She reluctantly lets him stay and cooks him food, only to get into an argument with the family. She leaves the place and comes back to take their money as well as kill them all one after the other.

So, what happens next? :: Ramanna is not the kind of person who has any kind of remorse for his actions, and he is surely not the kind of man who thinks twice about what he is to do. He is the worst kind of serial killer whom one could have on their trail. Even after being caught by the police and questioned, there is nothing that comes out of him, and he even escapes with the help of some local boys, thanks to the natural acting that comes to him. ACP Raghavan Singh (Vicky Kaushal) is in charge of the investigation, and has no real clue until finding the photo of Ramanna on the scene of crime, where Ramanna had murdered his sister. He figures out that the man whom they had apprehended a few days earlier has some kind of connection with these brutal murders which have been happening all around the city, keeping the residents terrified.

And, what is to follow next in this tale of terror in the streets? :: Even as he puts a tough cop act all the time, and seems to be righteous cop looking after criminal when someone looks from outside, Raghavan Singh is a a troubled person in his mind, having an unparalleled addiction to drugs, and has an even more terrible anger management issue. He is in a relationship with Smrutika Naidu (Sobhita Dhulipala) at whose place she is staying. It is another terrible relationship that they are having, with him forcing her to have more than one abortion after she keeps getting pregnant as he has his way as he likes. He also has no shame in beating her, but she stays faithful to him, and refuses to go home even after her family hopes for her return. Raghavan gets obsessed with catching Ramanna to such an extent that his issues deepen, and Ramanna at the same time, keeps an eye on the investigating officer – where does this game end?

The defence of Raman Raghav 2.0 :: The dark and terrifying avatar is given more and more life as the movie progresses, and then there is the other side which gets rather scarier. You feel the power of darkness in this movie, and there is so much of energy throughout the flick, thanks to the two main performers. It successfully makes you depressed and leaves you disturbing, with not much hope in the world of chaos. Humanity is surely capable of terrible things, and a lot of these capabilities are there right from the beginning, and are further powered by upbringing and the society. We keep wondering what is to happen next, and we are always interested to know how it all ends, or reach a new beginning. It takes only one serial killer to inspire more, and lets hope that Ramanna becomes our Hannibal to bring more of such movies which can prove to be even better. The final twist is something that breathes life like no other.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt that we had expected more from a movie like Raman Raghav 2.0 with its cast and the people who are the helm. We feel that a certain amount of hollowness do exist at times, and this one isn’t that much focused on what we would have been hoping to see with a police officer after a serial killer – this one has almost nothing about the investigation about the murderer. More focus could have been on the characters, and they could have had origin tales, even at the cost of the movie going longer – there are some parts of the movie which could have been cut down to provide space for more of the tale. This kind of movies should have more action, thrilling sequences and deeper story-line which should make us wish to remember the tale more than once; but the focus of Raman Raghav 2.0 seems to be rather a little too much divergent. Then there is the violence – nobody is a role model here.

Performers of the soul :: There is Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal doing a fantastic job in this movie, which surely keeps things going strong. We keep wondering when we will see more of them with movies which get the wider release here. If it was more about the former in the beginning, the latter of Masaan fame takes it to the next level in the second half towards the end. You will also notice Sobhita Dhulipala and Amruta Subhash, as two actresses who brings some great performances in two of the best sequences of the movie. The one thing about Bollywood is that these names which are not regularly talked about as superstars are the real actors and acting stars – I really hope that their movies get release in every theatre here rather than those which brings the crowd; if I was running a theatre, I would run a special show for sure, no matter how much of box-office collection such movies are to bring.

How it finishes :: The movie leaves one with the message that everyone has the tendency to be bad, or rather evil, as it is the inherent evil in man which has more certainty to it than anything else. It is the situation that brings the worst out of people, whether they are branded good or bad. The hopeless state of humanity is directly or indirectly reflected in this movie, which struggles to find goodness which seems to fade away further and further as the flick progresses, and by the end of this, we have lost almost all hope in mankind – it is the ultimate truth, right? We do our best, and still we live in a society which is all about money and power, and the need for it as well as the possession of it, will only turn more people against each other. Evil is so easy, right? Being good is so difficult, especially with a new generation caught inside more than one kind of addiction. Raman Raghav 2.0 has that kind of protagonists, and we know that there is a good chance that we are all going to die an early, terrible death considering where the world is going.

Release date: 24th June 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal, Sobhita Dhulipala, Amruta Subhash, Vipin Sharma, Ashok Lokhande, Harssh A. Singh, Anuschka Sawhney, Hitesh Dave, Rajesh Jais, Kalidas Parthitan, Rhea Pagar, Arun Singh

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kahaani 2

Vampire Owl: But I haven’t watched the first Kahaani.

Vampire Bat: Neither did I watch that flick. It is not necessary to get into this one.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that this is not really a sequel even though it qualifies as one.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is no real continuation of the tale here. This is more like Story One and Story Two, as is Kahaani One and Kahaani Two.

Vampire Owl: So both Vidyas in the movie are not the same even as both outside the movie are the same.

Vampire Bat: Yes, just Vidya Balan is the same. Otherwise, in the movie, there are Vidya Venkatesan Bagchi and Vidya Sinha as characters.

Vampire Owl: It makes a total of three Vidyas, two inside the movies and one outside.

Vampire Bat: That is certainly not relevant. We are in no need to be talking about these simple human names.

Vampire Owl: Yes, why can’t they choose interesting names, like The Great Vampire Owl?

Vampire Bat: You don’t have “Great” as a prefix. And yes, humans are not vampires or owls.

[Gets three cups of lemon tea with 50-50 biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) takes care of her teenage daughter Minnie (Tunisha Sharma) who is paralysed from the waist down. She has a nurse (Soma Adhikari) taking care of the girl when she goes to work. Vidya hopes to make enough money to go to the United States of America, and get her the best treatment so that she could walk again. Despite Vidya’s concern about her daughter, Minnie is happy with her life, and feels the she has nothing to worry about, being content with her present with her mother. Things seem to go on normally, but one morning, the nurse just doesn’t come, and she can’t get her on phone either. She is worried to leave Minnie alone, but the happy girl asks her to go, telling her than she can handle things until the nurse arrives – she might be on the train which should be why they are not able to get her on phone. Vidya finally decides to leave, asking her neighbour to keep an eye on her daughter.

So, what happens next? :: But when she returns home, she is shocked to find out that Minnie is missing, and there is no clue about what had happened around. Earlier, when she called home, she had managed to talk to the nurse who had told her that she is there. But when she calls at the nurse’s number, it she tells her that she never came to the house because Vidya had told her not to come on the day. Her neighbour also tells her that he was told by her that the nurse had come, and so he could stop checking. It is then that she gets an anonymous call which asks her to arrive at a certain location if she is to find her daughter alive. There is also some reference to the past which scares her into running out – all tensed and frightened, she gets hit by a car and ends up in the hospital in a coma. The nursing home where she is admitted is run by Dr. Maity (Pradip Mukherjee) who asks the Police officer Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) who is on the case to speed up things as the medical bill only gets costlier and costlier.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Inderjeet keeps searching for clues about the lady in the hospital, and finds something interesting in her diary. Meanwhile, Inderjeet’s senior officer who is after a woman named Durga, Pranab Halder (Kharaj Mukherjee), tells him that a certain lady is wanted for a certain kidnapping and murder case – the photo of the wanted woman looks exactly like the lady in the hospital. But Inderjeet doesn’t reveal the similarities between Vidya and Durga, and decides that he has to discover things all by himself. He understands that both the women are one, and are known by the name Durga Rani Singh who worked as a clerk in a school in Kalimpong. After having a terrible childhood, she seems to have a better youth, and is in love with her good friend, Arun (Tota Roychoudhury) who is working in publishing. But, something from her childhood repeats once again in front of her, and she can’t be silent about it – but what she will decide to will have consequences? What is her past all about, and what is happening to her present? What will happen to her future?

The defence of Kahaani 2 :: The movie keeps us trying to figure out the twist which is to come up, and we find the thrilling moments in between – the suspense is maintained, and we are kept unsure about who is right and who is wrong, and above all, who really is the protagonist? The first of the movie is actually done without providing us any chance to complain, as we are taken into a world which has too many secrets, and we are drawn into this mystery which is to be solved in one way or the other. Vidya Balan is just so good in this visually good movie too, and handles the whole thing with so much of skill. We would want her to return if there is a Kahaani 3 too, as she is sure to get hold of proceedings with ease in this kind of a movie. Arjun Rampal provides with some nice support, and he really suits this character, which has balance, being a usual cop with usual family and usual problems. There is also a nice message in store here along with the strong emotional side, about which more talked is to reveal a little too much of the plot as spoiler.

The claws of flaw :: The second half, with the curse that Indian movies, especially the Bollywood ones have, except for the final reveal that brings the twist, is not that much thrilling as the first half, and we would have expected the weaker section of the tale to the be covered better. Those who are awaiting the continuation of the first story are also going to be disappointed, because we hear this tale as another one. Sometimes, we just feel that the movie is getting short with its logic. There is a little too much focus on making the protagonist a superhero, despite getting hit by a car so hard that she had earlier gone into a comma – things get too easy for her, and even with outside help, this is just too convenient for the lady. When you start a movie so well, there is the need to make things better by the end, but the need for the same is not that much reflected here. A few things in the movie are also predictable, and it is quite a bad situation for any thriller movie.

How it finishes :: There are going to be comparisons with the first movie, and it does seem that it had become more popular than this one, but I wouldn’t comment on the same as I didn’t watch the first flick. Also this one is not a direct sequel to the previous movie – well, as Kahaani 2 is a stand-alone movie, it could always come up with something different, and when we look into it, things are rather interesting, and it never ceases to be the same. It does keep us guessing for what is to come next, and even when things are slow, it is never boring. It is nice of Bollywood to have had some nice thrillers in the year, from Wazir to TE3N and this one, as all of these had something special in them, and it is better to have movies like these represent the industry rather than those irritating romantic comedies which keep coming again and again as if there is a certain machine producing the same. Thrillers which are close to the common man’s life is in need more.

PS: Meanwhile, this week’s releases, Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 has the family audience interested.

Release date: 2nd December 2016
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh
Starring: Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Tunisha Sharma, Naisha Khanna, Manini Chadha, Jugal Hansraj, Amba Sanyal, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roychoudhury, Koushik Sen, Pradip Chakrabarty, Nitya Ganguli, Pradip Mukherjee, Ardhendu Banerjee, Biswajit Chakraborty, Gargi Bharadwaj, Soma Adhikari, Haridas Chatterjee, Sarthak Dey Sarkar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rocky Handsome

rockyhandsome

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere in the state of Goa, Kabir Ahlawat a.k.a. Rocky (John Abraham) spends his usual boring life running a pawn shop. As nothing much happens in his life, he goes through his routine and has no friends as he is reluctant to talk to people. Despite his lack of interest in being friends with people, a little girl next door, Noami (Diya Chalwad) considers him as a friend and talks to him all the time. Even though he is not that interested in returning that friendship, he remains sympathetic to the girl and helps her or invites her for food at his apartment. Her mother Anna (Nathalia Kaur), is a drug addict and bar dancer and lives alone except for a boyfriend who is not any better. With nothing positive coming from her mother, Naomi looks at Rocky as a friend and guardian and calls him by the name “Handsome”.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: One day, Anna with the help of her boyfriend steals drugs from the drug kingpin, Mantoo (Uday Tikekar). This brings two of his fellow gangsters, the brothers who are into more than just drugs, Kevin and Luke (Nishikant Kamat and Teddy Maurya) to the scene. With a professional assassin Attila (Kazu Patrick Tang), they arrives at Anna’s apartment and tortures her for the drugs. She had hidden the drugs in a camera which she had pawned to Rocky, and both the mother and daughter are kidnapped. This brings Rocky to the scene, and with the desire to take over the whole business from Mantoo, the brothers Kevin and Luke bring a plan which will make sure that both Rocky and Mantoo ends up in the prison or get shot by the police. With an organ harvesting business and also child trafficking in their list, they will stop at nothing to gain more.

So, what is coming up after this situation? :: This does put Dilip Sangodkar (Sharad Kelkar), a cop from Anti-Narcotics Bureau on Rocky’s trail. He will stop at nothing to clean the city from drugs and those who deal with the same. After murdering Mantoo and Anna, and sending Rocky to police custody, Kevin and Luke thinks that everything is done, but that is surely not the case. Kevin might be the new kingpin of all crime in the city with Luke on his side, but that might not be enough to save him from what is coming to him. Rocky has a past that will make him almost impossible to keep down and he will stop at nothing to find the missing girl. He has a depressing past involving Rukshida (Shruti Haasan) and has had that kind of training which will make sure that he is going to have his way, in one way or the other. With his first loss, Kevin will understand he has made the wrong person angry, but the question remains if Rocky can save the girl in time despite all his skills.

The defence of Rocky Handsome :: The best thing about this movie is the action – the action sequences are all neatly done, with no exaggeration, but a lot of fights which even when having the protagonist a lot outnumbered, are believable for a character whom the hero is claimed to be. There is enough style here, and it is not overdone; unlike the usual dumb Bollywood action movie – there are weapons and sequences in the rain, and there is a powerful emotional side that we can feel right into our hearts rather than going the path of a ridiculous melodrama which Bollywood always brings for the viewers, like they did in thousands of movies, even in Dear Zindagi at a time when things were to get better for the movie. There are the thrills, and this an adventure that takes us through without giving chance for second thoughts as long as we get into it. It surely welcomes us into that world of chaos which has more chance for the evil to gain at least one small victory.

Claws of flaw :: For some reason, Rocky Handsome gets too lazy in between. Along with that predictable and boring flashback that comes in between, there are also those moments which won’t go well with the rest of the movie. The connection between the two main stars, even though one of them is only there for a cameo, is missing – she makes us feel that the scenes are outside the movie, and even our hero at those moments is in trouble. The movie will lack in connection with those who were looking for mass masala, as a certain amount of working brain is needed to go with this – it is more of a flaw as most of the people who watch Bollywood need flicks for the brainless, and Rocky Handsome won’t provide them that. We can’t ask for a Masaan everyday, but things can be better for sure. There is also the violence and sometimes the talk about the violent ways, which people can also choose to criticize. As an official adaptation of the 2010 Korean movie, The Man from Nowhere, I won’t be able to judge this one, but the original had 100% fresh rating earlier.

Performers of the soul :: John Abraham continues to impress with those fight sequences in the movie, especially those with the knives and fists. Nishikant Kamat has done nice to bring the looks and style of the evil druglord, but villain is still not that strong except when he is threatening, and the same is the case of most of the people on the dark side, except for Kazu Patrick Tang’s assassin who is not there for the words – still the whole darker setting makes sure that all of them work out better for the viewers; pure evil has to be stronger in any case. Shruti Haasan is there for one full song and also in the memories of John Abraham’s character, and does almost nothing, bringing no positives in a role which could have played by anyone else in a cameo – we come close to feeling that right at the first shot when she is shown. The kid, Diya Chalwad does a nice job for sure. Sharad Kelkar has a smooth run in this movie too.

How it finishes :: John Abraham does provide a similar performance in Force 2, and if you watch two of these movies together, you might end up confused with the action sequences except for those moments when this one chooses to go violent – it is the official remake of a South Korean movie, and so that was always supposed to happen. This one will also remind one as the other side of the highly realistic Madras Cafe starring John Abraham, all of these produced by the same man himself. Even as the remake, Rocky Handsome has been nicely converted from its Korean model and has been worked on well enough to make itself another movie that evokes our interest despite having a story-line that has almost zero difference. This one is a good mix of all things, and never tries to overdo its strengths, which is why Rocky Handsome deserves your attention.

Release date: 25th March 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Nishikant Kamat
Starring: John Abraham, Diya Chalwad, Nishikant Kamat, Nathalia Kaur, Sharad Kelkar, Yash Tonk, Shiv Kumar Subramaniam, Suhasini Mulay, Teddy Maurya, Kazu Patrick Tang, Uday Tikekar, Shruti Haasan (cameo), Nora Fatehi (special appearance)

rockyhandsomee

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Force II

force2-1

Vampire Owl :: Do you know how long we have waited for a sequel here?

Vampire Bat :: Five years. Just have a look at IMDb.

Vampire Owl :: Why do we have to wait so long? Don’t we deserve the sequels much earlier?

Vampire Bat :: I agree. They tend to make it bad when releasing a movie after too much of time.

Vampire Owl :: The first movie a good one, even if it was a remake.

Vampire Bat :: Especially when we haven’t watched the original.

Vampire Owl :: And everything or rather everyone has changed in this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, except for John Abraham.

Vampire Owl :: So, we are going for this right now. May the force be with us.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, in a few minutes; just count till four hundred and twenty five.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: After the episode with Vishnu (Vidyut Jamwal), ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) lives in the memories of his dead wife, Maya (Genelia D’Souza), and gets into fight with the gangsters and criminals of the city, which goes on naturally cool for him. But when three Raw agents are killed in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, and one of them is his good friend, he decides to get involved in more than just fights in the streets with thugs. He finds a message from his friend, which he decodes and gives to the RAW chief Anjan (Narendra Jha) who is impressed. He is provided with the special permission to go on the mission to the place in the message, which is Budapest, the capital of Hungary, instead of one of those Chinese cities where the three agents were murdered.

So what happens next? :: The RAW officer Kamaljit Kaur a.k.a. KK (Sonakshi Sinha) also joins him in the quest, even though she is doubtful about the inclusion of a simple police officer. When they reach the city, they are welcomed by an explosion, which makes them realize that RAW agents are not even close to being safe. There is someone on the inside who knows the names of the agents undercover, and all of them, especially the seventeen agents in China are in grave danger. There are a number of people in their list of suspects, but everything points to Shiv Sharma (Tahir Raj Bhasin) in the end. But there is something about him, as he always stays one step ahead of them. They find it almost impossible to get him out of Budapest, and at the same time, another agent gets killed. This newly found enemy has something more to do than to just kill the RAW agents – what is it?

The defence of Force 2 :: The action sequences are well-planned and executed very nicely. The presence of patriotism and thrills are things of certainty here. There is quick pacing, and we are never bored, and you can see that there is the complete absence of drag throughout its run. There is not much of the songs here and it is a relief, which many other Bollywood movies should also provide us with, instead of throwing all those tunes towards us – maybe one would want the songs like the predecessor, but with our hero going on full attack, they were not to be here. The visuals of Budapest are really good, and there are so many occasions when we are lost in them and feel the need to visit Hungary, and even go further through Central and Eastern Europe on a special journey. The movie is emotionally strong too, and there is the tribute for the unsung heroes of the nation. The story has a lot with all these.

The claws of flaw :: The story is not something which we haven’t heard before – it is up to the hero to save more than just the day, with that extra dose of heroism along with the special dose of patriotism coming right through. The similarities with Hollywood situations are there, as you will notice depending on how much of those international movies you get to watch. There are also a little too much extra with the way in which the big action sequences are added – they could have been avoided, and the movie should have stuck to those which feel realistic, even when maintaining that style. There are lots of moments which remind one of a first person shooter, and it comes as kind of a pain. There are explanations which do go missing with the antagonist’s past and all, but within the movie’s scenario, things go fine, and that will satisfy your brains well enough. The comedy is not good.

Performers of the soul :: John Abraham comes up with an intense performance here, and we feel the force in his performance right from the beginning to the end. We have seen him in a similar role in a more realistic way in Madras Cafe, and here he goes more entertaining in this action-packed thriller – there is no real shortage of intensity from him here either. From the first time I had seen Force, I was sure that there was more to be done in that movie for him, and this sequel brings him the opportunity to do the same, for which he has no problem at all – we have the force right through him. Sonakshi Sinha looks nice and does mostly okay, and as expected, it is John who gets to steal the show. Tahir Raj Bhasin who is the antagonist in this thriller has managed to do a great job, and adds this performance to what he did in the much appreciated Mardaani.

How it finishes :: Force 2 is the right sequel to its predecessor, and it makes sure that we are thrilled throughout its run, and this one is a fine action thriller which is worthy enough to rule the weekends with all kinds of audience. As you can remember, the trailer was pretty much interesting, and this one stays strong to live up to the expectations. There were other choices to make this weekend, and for me, that included the Malayalam movie Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, and the Hollywood flick, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them – I am pretty sure that I made the right choice to watch Force 2. I am sure that people will have many reasons to go for another movie, but Force 2 is undoubtedly the right movie, because it is one entertaining package with enough application of brains.

Release date: 18th November 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Abhinay Deo
Starring: John Abraham, Sonakshi Sinha, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Paras Arora, Narendra Jha, Boman Irani (cameo), Genelia D’Souza (cameo)

forceii

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Airlift

airlift (1)

What is the movie actually about? :: The movie is based on the world’s largest civil evacuation of all-time, the act which was about rescuing a huge number of Indians stranded in Kuwait during the Iraq-Kuwait War when Iraq forcibly occupied Kuwait and made it the nineteenth province of Iraq. Due to this evacuation process, Air India is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of people evacuated by any of the civil airlines. The movie begins by saying that the characters are fictional and are inspired from a real incident. There are two real-life heroes who played a big role in helping the Indians in Kuwait to get them to evacuation though, as it is mentioned in the end of the movie – Mr. Mathews and Mr. Vedi who are shown during the final credits as the messiahs in reality.

So, what happens in the story-line of the movie? :: Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar) is a very successful businessman in Kuwait, and has good relations with the rich Kuwaiti people and its government. Despite his roots in India, he never really identifies himself as an Indian being one of the richest men in the city. He is living a happy life with his wife Amrita Katyal (Nimrat Kaur) and their child. Everything has been going in his favour until Saddam Hussein orders the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The soldiers consisting of even young boys with hatred for the nation which they have just conquered, wanders around causing chaos and destruction as all evil becomes legal as long as it is committed on the people who are now living under their guns no matter the ethnicity. Facing such a situation, Ranjit has to make more than one decision not just to save his own family, but also that of many other Indians.

The defence of Airlift :: The movie’s highest point is the climax and the ending – I am telling this before talking about anything else because it was so well executed and it could bring that wind of patriotism flowing in the right direction. The truth is that we feel such a patriotic feeling which is not forced, but it just gets into us and makes us feel amazingly good and proud to be Indian. A movie like Airlift was in need because Bollywood needed to have something as real as this, keeping the heroism, despite restricted to one person being kept as close to reality as possible. The protagonist’s return journey to his roots is something that we will all cheer about too – there is always something about your nation, your people and your your culture; it never really leaves you. I do have my doubts about the new generation, but somewhere, you are still part of your roots. The camera shots surely add to the total effect too.

Claws of flaw :: There is no chance to find this movie as a perfect one, even though it could have been that with some more attention. Some of the characters could have been used better, as you look at them not really contributing that much as you would have wanted them to be, as a situation like this could never be about one or two people being the heroes all the time. I would have loved to see an effort which was a lot more combined. The characters could have been better developed, and some of them are just there to be present or to go through all these. There are also some problems in the middle, and pace often gets to a lower level. A little more focus on the war could have also done better for this movie. I believe that a movie like this can also do without the songs. There was also a little bit of hurry to finish the movie by the end. Also remember that this is no entertainer for the usual fans.

Performers of the soul :: Akshay Kumar provides us with another realistic movie with a touch of patriotism an year after Baby released. Two of my favourite Bollywood movies of last year had him, with Brothers being the other flick. As of now, it seems that 2016 will be no different. We can confidently say that this movie will be among the best of the year, and I am not surprised that Akshay Kumar is once again the person to deliver the same. Well, this is movie does rest on his shoulders all the time because it is so much centered on his character. He makes thing work amazingly well here. Nimrat Kaur provides him the support. Lena has kind of a noticeable role here too! The other performer is actually the situation itself. The rest of the cast actually don’t need to do that much as one would expect for a situation of life and death; maybe it could have used them better, but it works as of now.

Soul exploration :: We have watched a good number of movies with patriotic elements in them. But when we look at this particular movie in comparison to that, this is one of the realistic and the most righteous display of the same. Patriotism in its purest form is one of those qualities which one can be really delightful about, and without any doubt, Airlift has that without preaching. This certain quality is what makes Airlift an interesting watch for all Indians both in the nation and living abroad. This is where the movie keeps scoring. If Airlift doesn’t touch your soul and make you think as an Indian no matter where you are, I don’t see any other movie doing the same. It is rightfully the movie for the soul, and you will feel the same during its run-time.

How it finishes :: Bollywood’s fine run this year continues, as Airlift follows Wazir and provides Bollywood with that boost for the beginning of the year which works nicely with the intellectual side as the industry takes another break from those huge silly entertainers. The advantage of having the popular actors performing in movies like these is that these better flicks get releases at most of the theatres. It is quite a necessity considering how many mindless movies Bollywood has been coming up with. The movies like Airlift are a lot in need, and it is a must watch without doubt. If there are movies which cent percent deserve to be in the one hundred crore list, Airlift can also be considered one of them. I don’t know how the usual audience will consider this movie, but if you don’t support this movie, it is your loss as well as that of Bollywood.

Release date: 22nd January 2016
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Raja Krishna Menon
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Feryna Wazheir, Lena Abhilash, Inaamulhaq, Purab Kohli, Kumud Mishra, Prakash Belawadi

airlift

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wazir

wazir (1)

What is it about? :: After a personal tragedy strikes the family of a police officer Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) in the form of the death of his daughter in the hands of terrorists, he is blamed for it; separating him from his wife Ruhana Ali (Aditi Rao Hydari). He is later suspended from service as he murders a terrorist who was the only key for the cops to find a minister linked with the terrorist. As he is extremely depressed and thinks about ending his life, he meets Pandit Omkarnath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan), an old chess master on a wheel chair who used to teach chess to the cop’s daughter. They come across each other again and a friendship is formed between the two. Omkarnath had also lost his daughter only some time ago, and he suspects that a popular politician, Izaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul) is behind the murder even as the police records it as an accident.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Omkarnath tries to get the attention of the police department, the media and the government. But nothing really happens except for bringing more fury into the mind of the politician and his supporters. This is where the henchman known only by the name Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh) comes into the picture. But this person seems to be something more than a henchman, as he stays in the shadows and creates situations of terror for the old man, becoming more like a shadow assassin. Danish is mostly helpless as he is suspended from service, but makes the promise to protect his new best friend and play his part in the battle for justice as if it is his own. Their fates are going to join together and soon, the shadows of darkness which are cast on their lives shall converge. Can Danish stand this big test?

The defence of Wazir :: It always feels good to have a Bollywood movie with an interesting plot especially as there are too many of the flicks which don’t have one at all, and there are movies which asks “why always the same story” and while saying that, it comes with the exact same plot told in a miserable way. This is where Wazir uses its intelligence as well as the strong emotional side to become a better and different movie. I do wonder at times why Bollywood movies and good plots are never friends enough. But if you look here, Wazir shows how to become an interesting emotional thriller bringing the breath of fresh air which makes the beginning of the year a nice one indeed, as there are no mindless flicks floating around anymore. The thrills are present and so is the suspense factor. There is also variety and style in how the whole thing is handled. The action sequences are done in a smart way, no overdoing and no slow-motions; believable as well as exciting.

Claws of flaw :: Even though its short length will save some time, people will want more here. Well, we ask ourselves if this is the kind of protagonist whom we want in the investigative thriller flicks, and there are moments when we will think about having a sequel to complete this movie. The usual Bollywood fans who love the entertainment and masala elements are also going to like this one less too; for there is nothing of such kind in here. Even when I visited the theatre, there was so much less interest for this movie there, but I hope to see it get better in the coming days. The movie surely has some points when it becomes slower, especially as a certain emotional side tries to play its role. The fact that some actors are there for only an extended cameo or special appearance will also put some people into lesser interest for the proceedings. The movie could have done better with the thrills overtaking everything else; no doubt about that – but it works well as it is!

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar makes a highly impressive team here. One man in sorrow has his mind game going strong while the other one is physically fit and has been one of the best police officers of the department – both roles are played with such passion here. The intensity that Farhan Akhtar shows here should be the one thing for which you wouldn’t want to miss this one. Aditi Rao Hydari has a beautiful and at the same time, a happy-transformed-into-sad presence in this movie, and you will feel that even the absence of words speak in favour of her as seen with her expressions. I am pretty sure that she is a lot better than the overrated actresses of the industry. As I turn back the pages, I remember that I had seen her on screen, in the Malayalam movie Prajapathi in which she made her debut as well as in Murder 3; the rest I had missed.

Further performers of the soul :: Neil Nitin Mukesh makes the best out of what he has in this movie, even though it is more of a special appearance. He reminds one of the character “Musafir” in the Malayalam movie The Tiger, who has been an agent and contract killer for the terrorists; but it turns out that even with the essence and soul being the same, the existence is different, and you will know that by the end of the movie with that one final twist – your love for the movie is going to be ultimately decided by that. John Abraham stays strong while doing another special appearance, something which reminds us of him in Madras Cafe; his character will be a reason for us to ask for a sequel to this one – he can always excel in this kind of a role. Manav Kaul as Izaad Qureshi is a really strong presence in this movie. He makes quite a big impact here as the villain who needs to be brought down for the two protagonists.

How it finishes :: Wazir is a movie which begins well as well as ends well. The slowing down in the middle can be forgiven, and the shorter run-time will make sure that you will have an engaging experience with this thriller. Even when viewing it from here, Wazir is no Memories, but it is an engaging journey. The game of chess is also nicely used in parallel with the story-line. It was used not as part of the story-line in the Malayalam movie, the Mohanlal starrer Grandmaster, but here, it comes in as part of the plot; in a smart way of course. You will know better about the relation between life and chess as the movie gets towards the end; one of the protagonists do talk about a few things which relates them much earlier though. The songs are also pretty much okay here. I loved the director’s earlier movie David, and Wazir is the movie which becomes a fine start to the new year, and it is the movie that needs to watched; not those one hundred crore gaining movies, most of which never deserved to be there in the 100-crore club!

[Edit – This review was also later published at: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1275-wazir-movie-review-2]

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Manav Kaul, Anjum Sharma, Mazel Vyas

wazir

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Phantom

phantom (2)

Vampire Owl :: Finally, we have someone whom we can add to our team.

Vampire Bat :: I have no idea what you are talking about. This movie is not related to any Phantom about whom you have heard. Actually, not even to Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Vampire Owl :: What? Not the Ghost who Walks? Not the Phantom of the Opera? Not even the usual ghost?

Vampire Bat :: No is the answer for all the three questions.

Vampire Owl :: I still like this poster. It seems to be designed with certain skill.

Vampire Bat :: Well, they have cancelled the shows for Double Barrel. What choice do we have?

Vampire Owl :: I believe that watching a non-Malayalam movie for Onam is a true case of cruelty.

Vampire Bat :: Well, we are forced to do the same.

Vampire Owl :: Phantom it is then!

Vampire Bat :: I am sure that the movie will have its moments.

[Gets the tickets and goes to buy cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a former soldier who was dishonorably discharged from the Indian Army has another chance at reclaiming his lost reputation and the love of his ex-military father. As RAW looks for the least suspected and less known face which they can depend on, Daniyal seems to be the best choice, despite that one bad decision which was made at the India-Pakistan border. He is given the task to eliminate a number of masterminds behind the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, as an unofficial mission without the approval of the Indian Government. With the help of a former intelligence agent Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif), Daniyal starts his mission at London, which will be followed by targets at other parts of the world.

The defence of Phantom :: As expected, Phantom is a thriller which attempts to make something which hasn’t happened to be represented as a possible truth which the audience are supposed to like. The feelings of every Indian will be touched here. With regular doses of patriotic statements and some interesting moments of action and thrills, Phantom does manage to accomplish that. With the early statements and the shots, this movie does create that feeling required in the viewer to move on. The idea is always there, and it never ceases to make the audience think over it again and again. The locations are really well created. There is a very realistic feel concerning the environment everywhere throughout this movie. The pace is kept good, and there is no dull moment, and even a possible romance doesn’t really happen, which is a clear bonus in the end. The ending is also something to be loved.

Claws of flaw :: The inability to use the full potential of Phantom is rather disappointing – there was so much to be done and something like the earlier espionage thriller Baby was possible here. But it just goes on and on with its material without completely developing the same. It does begin in a smarter way which somewhat struggles during the later stages, and when they do, they just add the gunshots or the chases. This should have been an espionage thriller movie with precision rather than making too much noise – in the gamer’s terms, instead of going Hitman: The Silent Assassin, this one becomes Unreal Tournament or Quake 3 Arena at times, chasing and shooting people around. One has to wonder why the thrills could not be embedded into this story instead of just coming and going; the story itself has the problems in the later stages, but couldn’t this have made it a lot stronger?

Performers of the soul :: The movie rests on the shoulders of Saif Ali Khan who plays the man who makes the difference and brings justice to the victims of the terrorist attacks not only in Mumbai but also at the other places. Even though he doesn’t go on to create that huge impact as this character, he surely controls things. He maintains that tough looks, and keeps the determination required for his character. The best moments from him are also in the first half of the movie, even though Katrina Kaif gets them in the second along with a few lesser known actors. The support is actually very good here, and there are times when the viewers wish for them to be there for more time on the screen. Katrina Kaif is not required to do that much here, but she manages things very well. The characterization make sure that not too much is demanded.

Soul Exploration :: There is the tagline “A story you wish were true”. It talks about the known fact that the masterminds who were really responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks are still living in peace and the truth that justice was not served to victims of that brutal terrorist attack which remains a permanent scar. The movie tells the viewers about how it could have been, and what would have been able to bring peace to the souls of the deceased. There is the freedom of being a fantasy movie asserted and taken right from the moment that tagline was first displayed on a poster. But it surely makes one think about all which have been said, and it does ask relevant questions. The shades of patriotism are also strong, and the strength of rewind can be seen here.

How it finishes :: It is only later that Phantom doesn’t really justify its title. The reason is its transformation as the whole thing moves from the strong point which was the brain to be adventurous. There is a car chase and public exchange of gunfire to kill the main villain which was not according to the movie’s soul – there was surprisingly no back-up plan. But as mentioned earlier, this does end well and along with being a thriller, this one has the strength to touch the emotions. So, Phantom remains an interesting movie which could have been even better. Well, this is Onam, and lets take some time to enjoy this movie too along with those large number of Malayalam movie releases as the festival season in Kerala going on in full power. I wish you all a Happy Onam! Enjoy and watch more movies!

Release date: 28th August 2015
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Kabir Khan
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Mir Sarwar, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Rajesh Tailang, Denzil Smith, Qazi Touqeer, Brandi Alexander, Paul Lazenby

phantom

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.