Bob Biswas

Vampire Owl: I am interested in this from the trailer itself.

Vampire Bat: There is a lot to be interested about, in there.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I feel that this could be my favourite film of this lead actor.

Vampire Bat: Abhishek Bachchan has been in need of such roles for long.

Vampire Owl: It seems that everyone around knows this particular character though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the titular character is from a film which we didn’t watch.

Vampire Owl: Well, as this is a spin-off, I guess that it is fine enough.

Vampire Bat: You can always have more though.

Vampire Owl: I wonder if that would be possible with more theatre releases.

Vampire Bat: We have shifted to OTT from theatres. The rest will be history.

[Gets some French fries and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Bob Biswas (Abhishek Bachchan) is a former insurance agent who has been in a comma for years, and has now come back to his senses, only to find out that he doesn’t really remember anything, despite the best efforts of everyone around him. He is told that he has a wife, Mary Biswas (Chitrangada Singh) along with their daughter Mini (Samara Tijori) and son Benny (Ronith Arora). It turns out that he has earned almost nothing from his work as an insurance agent, and he also understands that they are still living in a small rented home. Mary and Benny tries their best to make him remember his past through different incidents which serve as catalysts. Mini spends all her time studying so that she could become a doctor at some point of time. She is so much focused on the same that she even looks out for drugs which help her to concentrate better on her studies. As she finds a new kind of drug which can help her in examinations, there is also the addiction that comes with it. She wanders through risky territories searching for the same.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One day, two strangers, Jishu Narag (Bhanu Uday) and Kharaj Sahu (Vishwanath Chatterjee) approach him, and ask him to get back to what he has been doing the best, which is assassination of chosen targets. He doesn’t really believe them though, and keep on going with his life, as well as meet some possible clients as an insurance agent. Soon, he finds himself murdering a man in the neighborhood, as that person was disturbing his daughter with his loud singing, and this comes as a surprise for him. He continues the murders, as a dealer of the drugs, Bubai (Purab Kohli) and his henchmen also become his victims, with him regaining his lost talents. Later, there are other targets added to his list. Indira Verma (Tina Desai) is in charge of the investigation about a few murders which have happened around. She suspects that Bob and Mini have something to do with them. Meanwhile, there is a war going on between different gangs, and some police officers are also part of it. Still, it is yet to be seen if something can be done about it.

The defence of Bob Biswas :: There is something not Bollywood-like about this movie, and that is indeed the strength here. Shot in the city of Joy, Kolkata does give this film some real life with the visuals and the lifestyle. There is always something different about a movie which is shot in Kolkata, and it is not just about Hindi films – we feel a lovely divergence, and a joy which comes with the nickname of the city itself. This kind of setting also suits the film’s genre-blurring, as it is partly a thriller and at times it is drama, with a good dose of action coming at times and getting stronger by the end of the film, as the mystery is finally unveiled almost completely. The emotions run high around here, as much as the mystery which has the need to get solved early enough. There is also a good amount of humour in store here, especially with some black comedy, often related to murders and death. The same is more or less about Abhishek Bachchan, who has done a job which one would love to remember him for – not like the highly forgettable sequels of Dhoom, which have gained all the money at the box-office.

Positives and negatives :: Bob Biswas can be felt as a little bit slow, and kind of lengthy, considering the fact that in the early moments, it doesn’t pick up the pace. Even when it gets into that crime memory quick enough, the overall pace is still the same – yet, there is beauty in this slow pace. There are also reminders of Hollywood movies here, like The Accountant, John Wick, Gemini Man and Hitman, but nothing much is that clear about the origins and rise of this particular assassin, and instead of making this one an origin story, everyone is more concerned about making sure that this one keeps going towards a possible sequel. The subplot doesn’t really work that much, and the movie could have done well without the same. The Kolkata settings could have also been used in the form of some trams at night, the crowded railway stations and the charming old buses, all good enough to contribute to a tale like this. Also, too many characters are dead very easily, and we also have the absence of a single strong villain here, despite menace being always there. Those who seems to be good enough for the same are also dead early, much to our dismay.

The performers of the soul :: This is Abhishek Bachchan’s best movie in a long time, and one can only be glad to see him in this particular avatar. He has blended in nicely into this character with some special problems. Chitrangada Singh plays the lady lead really well too, and we don’t see her that often these days. Samara Tijori who plays the daughter, also has some interesting work to do, even though the character doesn’t get the dimensions as it deserves. She could surely be a talent for the future. Tina Desai’s work comes as the big surprise, as we have been remembering her for the much underrated, but very much memorable thriller, Table No. 21 which also had a song to remember with her around. One has to wonder why she didn’t get that many big roles, as she makes a solid police officer here too, reminding one of Tapsee Pannu in Naam Shabana and Baby – maybe her character could also have a full-length action movie spin-off at some point of time. We note the other characters too, but not that much individually in comparison to these.

How it finishes :: Bob Biswas is known to have come from the movie Kahaani, but I haven’t watched that particular film, and have manage to watch only its sequel. My only relation there is with Kahaani 2, which proved to be a pretty good movie. This movie is also strong with its themes, as guilt and remorse keeps on running through here, with a church and a cemetery at the centre. The message about one’s terrible crimes coming back to haunt the person is evident, and we see the man going John Wick in style, making the final moments of the film very much enjoyable. Unless you are looking for the traces of a Vidya Balan film from a long time ago while making comparisons, this one is surely a fully enjoyable journey despite the slower pace at parts. There is always something about this film, and you have to keep the Bollywood-style requirements away, as this one completely moves away from that mindless comedy. With the theatres opening again, these OTT films have to be very good to keep one watching things online, and Bob Biswas succeeds in doing the same.

Release date: 3rd December 2021 (ZEE5)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Diya Annapurna Ghosh
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Chitrangada Singh, Paran Bandopadhyay, Purab Kohli, Barun Chanda, Bhanu Uday, Amar Upadhyay, Kanchan Mullick, Samara Tijori, Ronith Arora, Ditipriya Roy, Karanuday Jenjani, Vishwanath Chatterjee, Kunal Verma, Pabitra Rabha, Yusuf Hussain, Tina Desai, Rajatabha Dutta

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chhorii

Vampire Owl: More of interesting horror to be unleashed?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Dybbuk was a remake from our world, and this one is remade from another language and industry.

Vampire Owl: Some good original horror is always in need.

Vampire Bat: Horror can be original only in a limited way, as it is universal.

Vampire Owl: Unless we become the one true horror.

Vampire Bat: We are never truly into horror.

Vampire Owl: So, we are not into our true nature.

Vampire Bat: The normal terrifying vampire has already been abolished.

Vampire Owl: You mean that there is no normal anymore.

Vampire Bat: Normal is not real as of now, not in our realm.

[Gets some French fries and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: A pregnant woman is chased in a sugarcane field by unknown forces, and with nowhere to go, they force her to cut their womb. Later, in a city, Sakshi (Nushrratt Bharuccha) is pregnant, and works in an NGO, and lives with her husband Hemant (Saurabh Goyal), who is in trouble for not returning a loan in time, with his business failing. His partner had also disappeared with the money. He feels that he is being stalked by people who needs the money back. She is happy with her work and regarding life in the city, but things don’t get any better with the cash which was borrowed. As people start threatening them, with Hemant even getting beaten at times, this makes the city no longer a safe choice for living. They are given twenty four hours to return the money, and make the decision to leave for their driver’s village which is located in a very remote area, and has a good number of sugarcane fields. Three hundred kilometres away, and a lot distant from civilizations, there are only five houses in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It seems that almost nobody comes there, even by mistake. They have to walk a long way through the sugarcane fields, and after almost losing the way multiple times, reach the area which has no network coverage and almost no shop. There, they meet Bhanno Devi (Mita Vashisht), the driver’s wife, a very orthodox woman who seems to be a person completely belonging to that particular village in more than one way. Hemant leaves the place soon enough, to find a solution to their financial problems, and the two women share a bond with each other. What Sakshi doesn’t understand is that there is more than what meets the eye with the people there, as much as the supernatural. Therefore, the fight will be against the dead, the undead and the living to save her world. But is it possible for her to face such terror in a weakened state? Do they have further secrets which needs to be unveiled for her life to be saved from what seems to be doom in waiting?

The defence of Chhorii :: Chhorii adds to the list of horror movies which are part of a human infested, virus infected world, which is not less terrifying than any film which one will get to see. The atmosphere here is really good, and it is really shot here to create the perfect situation for horror. It looks scary enough during the day time, and in darkness, it is something more. Being at the middle of nowhere, with no place to go, is terrifying enough, and there is more here to add to the same. It is certainly a scarier world than the lifeless modernity or a haunted house, with or without the presence of the supernatural. The presence of the children here adds to that eerie feeling more, for we are never hopeless about the terror of some demon kids. The background story which serves as the flashback gets things to be really interesting. The film also has a social message which runs through the background and comes strong in the final moments of the film.

The claw of flaw :: The movie can feel somewhat stretched for one’s liking, as it does feel long with much of time being consumed without a lot happening. With a shorter length, this could have been much more effective, adding a certain amount of crispiness here and there. The language spoken by the villagers can also be difficult to understand, leaving us to look out for the subtitles at regular intervals. The tale could have also been more straight-forward, without leaving the mysterious elements behind. The message also arrives late, and if it had released much earlier, the effect could have been more. The stereotyping and the predictable elements are also allowed to run strong around here. The scary elements could have been more, using the atmosphere to more of an advantage – there were so many moments which could have used better scares, and combined them with the atmosphere. The present world asks for a lot more horror than the pre-Corona world, as people have changed a little too much for everyone’s liking.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is very much centered and focused on Nushrratt Bharuccha. She is very much comfortable in playing the pregnant city woman who ends up in a village, all alone. She deals with the horror genre really well, and it would be nice to see her in a similar role with city horror at some later point. As this film is a remake of a Marathi horror film which released a few years, there would be comparisons, also related to the performances – only those who watched the original can comment further on the same. We know that Mita Vasisht from different movies in the past, and this one is no exception for her, as she runs through the whole thing without holding back. Pallavi Ajay, even though silent throughout the film, makes a strong presence. Yaaneea Bharadwaj plays the one ghost whom we would like for most of the time, and there seems to be a lot of work being put in there. Rajesh Jais plays the man with a mystery to him very well. Saurabh Goyal also does more than what his character seemed to be up to, in the beginning.

How it finishes :: At a time when life is full of horror, especially with humans mostly choosing the evil paths, the requirement for horror films never ends. The one movie that we remember while watching this is the English film, In the Tall Grass, with the environment, and also about an Indonesian film, Impetigore. This movie is also a reminder of humanity’s evil side, and it tells us that humans are always more evil than ghosts, going after their selfish needs all the time. There is so much of evil being repeated in our world, and the movie, even though focuses on the crimes on women, one has to say that the Corona virus infected world has seen too much of the same being done on different unsuspecting people. The film enters the world which has lost its humanity, and repeats its own favourite mistakes – the basic idea that human beings cannot be trusted, will only find a repetition here, as ghosts do have more quality than those who walk on Earth claiming as the superior living species.

Release date: 26th November 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Vishal Furia
Starring: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Mita Vashisht, Pallavi Ajay, Yaaneea Bharadwaj, Rajesh Jais, Saurabh Goyal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chehre

Vampire Owl: How many faces do we see here?

Vampire Bat: The faces of humans do not matter at all.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that it would matter to us more at some point.

Vampire Bat: The human identity is no longer significant in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we can know the lying faces early.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is the only thing that humans do throughout their lives.

Vampire Owl: I did trust too many humans, and that has made a mess. They are the true villains of all realms.

Vampire Bat: Humans are all about lying, cheating and stealing. Being the villains of the universe comes naturally to them.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would say that demons are better.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies for eat their brains then.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) is forced to travel through some strong winter in the mountains. He wishes to go to Delhi, but is forced to stop in the middle of nowhere, as the climate only gets worse, and his car is stuck, with trees right in the front. He searches for a hotel or a guest house to wait until the tree is removed by the authorities. He then comes across Paramjeet Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor) who asks him to join come to a friend’s place until things get any better, even though there are not signs of something like that happening. He is taken to the house of Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee), and he also meets Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) there. Anna (Rhea Chakraborty) is already present there, helping everyone in the building, who are pretty much old. The mobile phones have no network connection out there, and the landlines also do not work, much to the dismay of Sameer who wishes to connect to his wife.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The group of old men is also joined by Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan), who reaches there despite the snowfall getting much worse. Sameer is surprised to see everything that happens around this house in the middle of nowhere, which is nothing less than a grand mansion of some older time period. They tell Sameer that they meet there and play a strange game in which these retired professionals of law conduct mock trials. They take some very old well known case and go on with the same. In the beginning, they talk about the case of Phoolan Devi, but later chooses Sameer as the accused. Sameer says that he hasn’t committed any crime, and is ready to face anything that is put in front of him. He is confident that he will win the game, and none of these people are good enough to pose any challenge to him. But there is more than what meets the eye to these people in the mansion.

The defence of Chehre :: What works really well for Chehre is its setting in the middle of nowhere, with snow all around, and the building is also a thing of visual splendour which we cannot avoid. Everything is perfectly suited for what is to happen next in the film. It also seems to come up with a message, even though it seems to be confused about where that is leading. But it never leaves the messages behind, that is for sure. The film does stand for the right judgment and the need for justice to be served, even though it seems almost impossible to be done when law has its loopholes. The cast is also nicely selected here, and we see the signs of the same at different moments. It does need some courage and skill to create something like this which go highly unconventional, and one cannot deny the fact that there is some good research done in the background – the risk does have its own effectiveness to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: The initial introductory dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan during the beginning itself is one of the least interesting starts to a film, and it keeps us wishing to fast forward throughout those dialogues. There are many other dialogues which were not necessary, and often goes out of the equation, seemingly just for the sake of bringing them. Too much speech here adds to the struggle, which also lengthens the film too much. When you keep talking too much without coming up with any action, people can only be confused. Preaching doesn’t always get you were you want. It also struggles to use most of its elements in the best possible manner, even though there were indeed the available opportunities. This could have been something like Pink, or something stranger than we could ever imagine, but the same is not done here. There was even scope for bringing something supernatural into the scene.

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan controls things around here, and he makes things clear from the beginning itself. We have seen him doing this a lot, in different movies belonging to various decades. The rest of the support including Annu Kapoor, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Raghubir Yadav are very much suitable for how the game moves on. They are all different when we look at them, and have some interesting perspectives. Emraan Hashmi is also pretty much suitable for this kind of role. Siddhanth Kapoor plays a mute role, a notable one indeed. Rhea Chakraborty shows some promise, but the role is not carried on that much, even though the world could have had more for her. Krystle D’Souza makes a bigger impact, as she blends in very well to the character. There is a certain amount of mystery about her character, and even with some predictability, leaves one with more than what originally meets the eye.

How it finishes :: Chehre is a mystery thriller which can surely boast about its moments, and even though known as an uncredited adaptation of a German novel named A Dangerous Game by Friedrich Durrenmatt, makes its point well within its adapted environment. During the days of COVID-19, containment, quarantine and lockdown, we all love to watch movies set in remote worlds. It is a fine decision to release this movie on Amazon Prime Video, some days after its release in the theatres, as we are yet to see the theatres being opened here. We do know that the movie could have been much better, but for now, we adjust with what we have, and enjoy it in moments. After all, the world as we know it also has had its own limitations in the last one and half years. Nothing is the same any more, and we enjoy what we have here, with less than three months to go to end another year of virus and all kinds of terror to behold.

Release date: 30th September 2021 (Amazon), 21st August 2021 (Theatre)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Rumi Jaffery
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi, Krystle D’Souza, Rhea Chakraborty, Annu Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Alexx O’Nell, Sameer Soni, Dhritiman Chatterjee

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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

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@ 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

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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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hindi Medium

What is the movie about? :: Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) runs a highly successful business in Delhi, selling bridal wears, and he often likes to call himself a business tycoon. He had married his love from childhood Meeta Batra (Saba Qamar) when she had come to his small tailoring shop. Although he is rich and influential, knowing all politicians and businessmen of the area, he is a simple man, finding happiness in those simple things in life. His lack of education and the absence of knowledge in English are something which makes his wife disappointed, and she wishes to be part of the high class rather than live where they have always lived. Worried about the future of their only daughter Pia Batra (Dishita Sehgal), she wishes to have her admitted into one of the top schools in Delhi, including Prakriti School where the students are taught everything through dance and music, Suraj Valley School which nothing less than a five star hotel and Cross Road School which has a tie-up with Eton.

So, what happens next in this movie? :: But the biggest of them all is the Delhi Grammar School which has been at the top position in the school rankings for a long time. The famous politicians and business tycoons have all studied there, and everyone is sure that under the guidance of the visionary principal (Amrita Singh) who used to be a student there, the school can go only up from its position. But the school only gives admission forms to those who live nearby, within three kilometres radius. She forces him to make sure that they move out of Chandni Chowk to Vasant Vihar as the first part of trying to get admission. She is adamant that Pia will not study in a Hindi medium government school like they did, and she will speak English like no other. At their new place, they have new neighbours, but struggle to make friends with people like Aarti (Neha Dhupia) who find the new people to be of low class, not fit to be part of their high level society.

And what is to follow in this adventure for school admissions? :: To prepare their daughter as well as themselves from the upcoming interviews in the top schools, the meet up and take the advice of a consultant (Tillotama Shome) who has been training rich people and their children for a big price. But despite all these training, they are not that great at the interview, and the kid doesn’t get admission. There is the feeling that uneducated parents’ children will find it difficult to get an admission. This leads to him trying to get a seat in a top school in many other ways, including trying to bribe the principal and asking many politicians for help. But none of those ideas work, and they still keep trying, only to find that one of their employees’ child got admission in Prakriti School under Right to Education quota reserved for the people with lower income. There they find a way to get the much needed seat – make some changes in the necessary documents to find their chance. Can they succeed here in one way or the other?

The defence of Hindi Medium :: The movie’s comparison should be to Ramdhanu which is known to deal with a similar theme, and Salt Mango Tree which has remade the same movie. In comparison to Salt Mango Tree which is close to an exact adaptation, there are more differences than similarities here. Hindi Medium actually rises above the other, with a smarter adaptation of the idea. It has a girl child instead of the boy child, and has a rich family rather than the middle class one. There is also a better ending, and there is no foreigner coming to India and adapting the customs – it is a ridiculous idea in comparison to the overall theme, just like it was in Bangalore Days, for them adapting the Indian culture as the right way would only make Indians wishing to adapt theirs righteous. Hindi Medium rises above such foolishness along with the lame jokes there, and also shows the consultant in the right colour. With this one, Bollywood shows the skill and rises above the rest, and the medium is right here; feel-good it is.

The claws of flaw :: One might feel that Hindi Medium takes the simple things a little bit further than one would have thought. Some moments are surely overdone, or rather stretched further than needed. The jokes are also less in comparison even though the quality is certainly there. We can also see the glorification of poverty, even though it is a fact that being more and more rich only gets things to be worse – people getting rich just goes away from the common man’s world as well as the values which have been there for so long. There is also the focus on Hindi medium itself right from the title, when having the government school itself was enough. It would feel strange that all these are coming at a time when the government has been trying to impose Hindi in one way or the other, all over the states which have come up against the same. In an attempt to get away from English, one has to wonder if the need will soon be to escape from Hindi itself with a suicide squad.

Performers of the soul :: The one person who stands out in this movie in comparison with Salt Mango Tree is Irrfan Khan who shows a lot of balance in the way the comic side as well as the serious moments are carried on his his shoulders in the right manner. Saba Qamar also blends in, and does a wonderful job as the mother who wishes for more with the education of her child – Angels‘ own Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli’s work was more natural and emotional in Salt Mango Tree though. Deepak Dobriyal is too good in his role, and Swati Das is fine support to him. Tillotama Shome as the consultant might be the best among the smaller roles here – she is really good. Neha Dhupia is left with not much to do, with her role resembling a cameo. When you look at the cast of Salt Mango Tree, you will notice that in totality, there is more of known talent there, working towards making things better.

How it finishes :: My first thought about Hindi Medium was that it was going to be exactly Salt Mango Tree which seems to be more like the carbon copy of the 2014 Bengali family drama, Ramdhanu. But that certainly wasn’t the case, with the movie having its own ideas, and it is also better than the movie which came before that, and it does the same by quite a distance. The movies like Hindi Medium are required during these times when education has become a business – I would prefer to teach students values first, and English and Hindi later, but that wouldn’t really be possible in this world, I guess. There will also be people who will wish to steal the opportunity of others, and we will also see those people who think that speaking good English everything – but I wouldn’t consider that to be great. With communication, just understanding the point is necessary, and Hindi Medium surely has more valid points than your regular Bollywood movie. It also seems free from the terrible fans.

Release date: 19th May 2017
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Saket Chaudhary
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Sanjana Sanghi, Tillotama Shome, Deepak Dobriyal, Delzad Hiwale, Sumit Gulati, Swati Das, Dishita Sehgal, Angshuman Nandi, Jaspal Sharma, Vijay Kumar Dogra, Rohit Tannan, Amrita Singh, Neha Dhupia, Sushil Parwana, Rajesh Sharma, Sanjay Suri, Mallika Dua, Tanishkaa Sanghvi

]

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Qarib Qarib Singlle

What is the movie about? :: Jaya Sashidharan (Parvathy), a Keralite based in the city of Mumbai, spends her time alone, both at home and at office, as she has only a few friends, and has been a widow for about ten years. After so many years of lone life, and not listening to anyone who tells her to marry or get a boyfriend, she finally decides to have a look at an online dating website at the age of thirty five. After being bombarded by so many ridiculous comments by so many men, she finally comes across Yogi (Irrfan Khan) who is interested in poetry and has his own special style, making his case very different from the rest. She is careful about him and understands that both of them are different from each other in so many ways, but decides to go with him to meet three of his ex-girlfriends so that he could understand more about him as a person.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: As part of this long adventure, the two has to travel through Haridwar, Bikaner and Gangtok. But there is one particular fact about Yogi, and it is that he is a carefree person who takes no responsibility on his shoulders – he doesn’t work even after passing engineering, but has written poetry in his mother tongue, and also speaks not much of English. This leads to him missing his flight and getting on the wrong train, and creating a few other situations. Meanwhile, Jaya who has identified herself as Jayashree TK, is fluent in English, and needs everything to go as planned. At their first location itself, they do become good friends, but going past that might be a little difficult, but who knows where some paths can lead? Well, strange things do happen, especially in love and war!

The defence of Qarib Qarib Singlle :: You will find the changes in this movie as a lot refreshing, and a fine thing which is away from the usual Bollywood model. The movie feels real with its incidents and emotions, and never really jumps into that fountain of melodrama which has kept the industry buried alive in a coffin from which there was never supposed to a chance of return, and it is a situation that could be termed as a sadistic thing of terrible beauty if we take a look at things as an outsider. Yes, the fans have always enjoyed the same, as it is what they have always been trying to do, but when we are outside that thought process of becoming addicted to a celebrity who has enough strength to become a parasite on the common man, throwing nonsense and grabbing money, we want the change. Qarib Qarib Singlle is surely that divergence from the regular path, and has fun moments in its realistic world having people who come up with no wonders in love, and are good at heart, not in their muscles, clothes or freaky singing and dancing in a party or pub.

The claws of flaw :: Some people can consider Qarib Qarib Singlle to be a little slow for their liking, but thanks to the smaller length, things get better. People who want less simplicity, and go for that colourful jump mode new generation romance in a pub calling for party, can also skip this one, as the movie calls more for the combined audience of family and youth. You can actually agree to the fact that there could be more comic sequences in this flick, and the journeys to different places could have also been more beautiful with the local scenery captured further along with what all are already there. All those characters other than the two protagonists never really get to do much here, and there is no development of the background as one would expect to be there. The reason for the movie’s journey would also seem a little strange for many. More could have been thus developed with the setting itself too.

Performers of the soul :: There is no stopping Irrfan Khan, and it is a proven fact. It was a few months back that I had come across Hindi Medium, and realized that how much this man had elevated it above the Malayalam version with the same theme, Salt Mango Tree. There is something that he brings on the big screen every time, and we cannot keep ourselves away from it. While Bollywood has been bringing nonsense in the name of keeping the audience entertained with masala, he was there with movies like The Lunchbox, Talvaar and Madaari. Here, he delivers two sides of a character with ease, as the funny side as well as another side with a certain depth in his ideology, arrives safely here. With no fake image of a hero being built, he becomes the everyman character, speaking a little too much, and doing a little more than a usual person, but doing all of them with such perfection which you will find difficult to find with any superstar who depends on his or her fans to sing blind praise.

Further performers of the soul :: While Irrfan Khan’s character maintains a certain amount of mystery as we come across him only after Parvathy’s character decides to go on to meet him, the latter gets a clear personality to work with, right from the beginning. She has worked with it with such skill that one can easily understand that she is one step ahead of almost everyone with that “superstar” title on head, which all try to hold on to. Still, the question remains if Bollywood is worthy enough or at least ready to have a heroine like her, who won’t jump into that masala stuff which provides a heroine with so less to work with that she is reduced to an eye candy. Into a world which is full of “actors or actresses who are related to someone in the industry”, she thrives with her performance rather than anything else, as she did this year with the amazing upgrade to Airlift, known as Take Off, and earlier with Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Here is one Bollywood debut of quality.

How it finishes :: A long way ahead of the usual romantic flick that Bollywood has been providing us, and also racing ahead of many overrated dumb romance from many languages which got only some ridiculous party songs, pub dance and meaningless infatuation for the audience, Qarib Qarib Singlle makes a point. It shows exactly how a fine romantic feel-good movie can be made, without those unnecessary elements appreciated by a certain group of half-witted audience who should be held responsible for Bollywood having so many low quality hundred crore movies with content not worthy of even being made a short-film – such cases are better suited only for an alien world which has no scope for brain development. If you prefer movies with aversion for clothes being at the same high level as the disinclination for making something sensible, do not bother, and go back to your usual world and continue watching what you call “cool”. Sometimes, the audience becomes the villain to an industry.

Release date: 11th November 2017
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Tanuja Chandra
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Parvathy, Bajrangbali Singh, Anud Singh Dhaka, Neha Dhupia, Brijendra Kala, Luke Kenny, Siddharth Menon, Pushtii Shakti, Isha Sharvani

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@ 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.

Noor

Vampire Owl: The only Noor I know is from the 1997 Malayalam movie, Chandralekha.

Vampire Bat: That character was Nooruddin.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but saying the name will be like asking for a hundred rupees.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t matter. If you get one hundred rupees, keep it.

Vampire Owl: But what would I do with human money in our realm?

Vampire Bat: Well, you can start a coin museum. We already have different kinds of museums and one more will do nicely.

Vampire Owl: That is surely not a bad idea. My zombie minions can always do with some extra business when not trying to take over the world.

Vampire Bat: Isn’t it yet proven that they can’t take over the world at all?

Vampire Owl: No, because I have taught them to be positive in their life, or rather in their undead existence.

Vampire Bat: Now I know what is going wrong with a few brainless zombies.

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

What is the movie about? :: Noor Roy Chaudhary (Sonakshi Sinha) is a girl in her late twenties, worried about so many things, and her weight being more than her Twitter followers is just one of them. She feels that she is the step-daughter of her father, and the cat Dimpy is the real child, as he cares a lot for the cat. She feels that there is nothing good going on in her life, as she spends most of her time in the traffic, and can’t afford anything much, with her salary being lesser than what she has been spending in the last few months – the potholes meant that she had to keep changing the tyres of her Tata Nano, and she also ends up quitting smoking to cut the costs. Her job as a journalist has her disappointed all the time, as she thinks that she is more of a joker than a journalist. She keeps sending her resume to CNN and BBC so that she could escape from the meaningless journalism which she is doing.

So, what happens next? :: Shekhar Das (Manish Chaudhary), her boss used to be a journalist whom everyone admired – all young journalists wanted to be like him. After his marriage to Lavina Kapadia (Suchitra Pillai), he had received his father-in-law’s news agency, and had settled in as the boss, and had no more courageous journalist action. It is there, at The Buzz that Noor also worked as the junior correspondent. She runs a show called Mumbai Believe it or Not which she finds to be pointless. She gets to talk to different people in the city, like someone who walks upside down and another one who never removes her helmet – she wants to do something like the problems local fishermen are facing due to a new coastal road and the problem with sewers. Also, she is worried about her weight, and doesn’t believe that any good and decent guy will fall in love with her, considering that hiring a hitman to kill someone is rather easier.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: Her best friend in the city is Zaara Patel (Shibani Dandekar) who doesn’t listen to anyone else, and has been trying to motivate her since school days. Saad Sehgal (Kanan Gill), her other friend is now at London, and these childhood friends are all that she got. Her favourite sentence is “I hate my life”, and the maid at the place Malti (Smita Tambe) is the only other person whom she regularly talks, other than her friend and her father (MK Raina). It is then that she comes across Ayananka Banerjee (Purab Kohli) who has been a CNN reporter working in the Middle East during the wars, and the two gets close. It is then that she gets an idea about something more – an exclusive news which could turn things around for her. But will that happen, or will she remains the same and keep blaming herself for not doing it right?

The defence of Noor :: The movie goes on a realistic path, and there is nothing that goes beyond the lines drawn regarding the same. We feel the protagonist’s problems, no matter how silly they will sound, and they are possible in the case of so many people. The first half is really good, with some humour, and there are also those moments which are there to stay. The credit for the same goes to Sonakshi Sinha who makes this character work so well. Her dialogues, expressions, and the incidents in life make things go on smoothly, and we keep enjoying the light and sweet moments around. There is everything going right with this character with those scenes. If you don’t read too many reviews which keep saying that this isn’t right, and that should have been like something else, you will know that this movie is close to life as it can get – most of the blame put on this movie seems to be more due to some prejudice rather than anything else, even though the movie does have its problems. Still, there are messages, and the feel-good factor.

The claws of flaw :: Noor could have been big, and there is no doubt about that. There was scope for almost everything that could have stayed, from big thrilling moments to those big funny scenes, all contributing very well to the movie in totality. There are also those silly scenes which get rather too much of an attention. There are also those final moments, which seem to have finished the movie without trying that much – maybe there was a rush without that much of a thinking. Things get rather too comforable there, and we are left to witness the curse of the second half, which has attacked Bollywood so much, and is without any plans to stop at any time. One has to wonder why it gets a step down from the moment the first half stops. When there seems to be the chance to get deep into the bad practices in the medical field, the movie just takes one step back, and then when getting close to the bad guy, there is another step taken back – strange things happen in the second half. Then there is too much of party.

How it finishes :: One thing that Noor makes one feel is like that of the Malayalam movie Mili. There is a lot in common between the two despite having entirely different personalities. Also, in certain reviews, there have been people judging the character, without thinking about the fact that it is the role, and this is a person who has her own problems – some people are even against her thoughts, and it is not like they say that it is badly done, but coming up with the idea that it is wrong. It is a strange judgment of people when you see it. We surely have some strange people who come with their own strange ways of hating a movie. This flick is based on the novel Karachi, You’re Killing Me! by the Pakistani journalist and writer Saba Imtiaz, which was also her debut novel. She has also developed the script for this movie, and any comparison can only be done by someone who has gone through both the movie and the novel.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Sunhil Sippy
Starring: Sonakshi Sinha, Shibani Dandekar, Smita Tambe, Kanan Gill, Purab Kohli, Manish Chaudhary, Suchitra Pillai, MK Raina, Gareth Lawrence, Nikhil Khurana, Indraneel Bhattacharya, Sippora Zoutewelle, Ajita Khanna, Yulian Shchukin, Avantika Akerkar, Sunny Leone (cameo), Diljit Dosanjh (cameo), Badshah (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ 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.

Phobia

Vampire Owl: I hope that she doesn’t have vampirophobia. I really hope that she doesn’t.

Vampire Bat: I believe that the exact term for the same is sanguivoriphobia.

Vampire Owl: What? Who on Earth comes up with such strange names? Who even gets that at first attempt?

Vampire Bat: Well, they call it the fear for blood eaters.

Vampire Owl: How can someone actually eat blood? And we are vegetarian vampires; we have suitable replacements instead.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t count. Humans are masters of generalisation, and they create opinions based on that.

Vampire Owl: We should have a phobia of them instead – unless they are all dead.

Vampire Bat: You are in no position to call an event which causes human extinction. They have to cause their own downfall.

Vampire Owl: It is something that I have always believed in.

Vampire Bat: Just make sure that Wonder Woman won’t murder you after naming you Ares, the God of War.

[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte), a talented artist who is quite popular with her friends, attends almost every party in the town, becoming more of the popular girl in the city. But after being molested by a taxi driver on a terrible night, she develops the worst of agoraphobia, which keeps her away from public places and large groups, as she keeps herself inside the house and mostly in her room. Living in the same house as her sister Anusha (Nivedita Bhattacharya), it gets worse for everyone, as her actions remain more and more uncontrollable and unbearable for all. With the eccentric and unpredictable nature affecting Anusha’s little kid too, they all feel done with helping her, because it seems to be of no use, and Mehak herself doesn’t want to be treated, staying inside home without making an attempt to go out for months.

So, what happens next? :: Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra), Mehak’s good friend decides to help her, and gets her to an apartment which is empty for now after its previous occupant decided to move away. He hopes that this change, and life alone will be better for her, and she will start longing to meet people after this. At the new place, she seems to have some visions, and she feels that there is something sinister about these particular visions. She has two neighbours there with whom she gets to talk often, one of them being Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), who is a graduate student who lives on the flat on the right, while on the left side, there lives Manu (Ankur Vikal) who had anger management issues and is using laughter to fight the same. The latter used to be in a relationship with a woman called Jiah Khurana (Amrit Bagchi) who had left the place.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It turns out that Jiah was living in the same apartment in which Mahek is living right now. Knowing that the girl had disappeared without telling anyone, and that there is no clue of where she is, Mahek begins to feel that there is a big mystery behind the same. She comes up with the idea that an angry Manu had killed Jiah and has hidden her body in his apartment. Mehak also feels that her visions are from Jiah’s spirit which is trying to tell her something about the demise. Shaan feels that this is all part of her disease, and that she is having so many hallucinations. Her psychiatrist (Faezeh Jalali) also confirms that Mahek’s condition is worsening every day, and there is not much that can be done unless she is taken to a mental asylum. But Nikki is curious, and decides to help Mehak in finding the truth behind the missing girl. Now the question remains about what really is the truth here.

The defence of Phobia :: There is one thing about which you can be cent percent sure, and it is that Phobia won’t be like any other movie which you have seen in Bollywood, and in psychological horror, it explores more territories, and most of these areas are divergent. The story is nicely presented right from the beginning, and it keeps you wondering what is happening, and what is to follow. The visuals nicely match the overall mood of the movie, and there are some scenes which are particularly great and deserves our attention. Radhika Apte is once again too good, as you would expect her to be – she is that kind of an actress who has more in store for us than anyone from Bollywood, and it is a fact that you just can’t ignore. There are moments from her which you are going to remember for so long. The next one to make the impact is Yashaswini Dayama who keep the curious college girl act going on very nicely.

The claws of flaw :: One can say without doubt that Phobia is not a movie for everyone; I am sure that it might have already been established by many others in one way or the other which randomly talking about the flick. There are also logic flaws in this movie, and her living alone in the flat is nothing less than strange, and having a knife near her when she goes into the virtual reality is rather comfortable. The way in which the mystery is finally solved is also rather strange, when it could have taken a rather direct approach. The climax had potential to be something more, and for some reason, it chooses not to live up to the fantastic build-up in the first half, and finish the movie on a high. The audience is left clueless on a lot of occasions, and more scary moments could have been built regarding the neighbour and other residents of the apartments. When you have an apartment where someone with a mental problem living alone, there is always scope for more.

How it finishes :: Phobia demands that you take things differently, and get your thinking procedure to go another way, which has almost no relation with a regular Bollywood movie; all that those movies are, this movie is not. It is where movies like Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0 scores, and it is also what we strive to have. Otherwise, Bollywood can only focus on biopics, and tales inspired from real life incidents like Neerja, Rustom and Airlift, which they need to keep the ship sailing in the right direction. It is during such times that this movie does go against the flow, and what we can do is to appreciate the effort and watch this movie without second thoughts about how it will make us feel, and how well it can relate when we haven’t watched similar movies before.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Pavan Kirpalani
Starring: Radhika Apte, Yashaswini Dayama, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Amrita Bagchi, Faezeh Jalali, Salone Mehta, Arush Nand, Dinyar Tirandaz, Amit Kumar Pandey, Malhar Goenka

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.