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.

Dear Zindagi

dearzindagi-1

Vampire Owl: This is not acceptable to the vampire community.

Vampire Bat: I see no problem in some vampire censoring here.

Vampire Owl: There is too much about life here. If they get too much caught up with life, how can we recruit our minions?

Vampire Bat: Consider this life after death.

Vampire Owl: That would be beautiful, even though these people don’t look like zombies.

Vampire Bat: Well, beauty of life after death is more than just about zombies.

Vampire Owl: To that, I can drink tea.

Vampire Bat: We are drinking tea to that.

Vampire Owl: And we are watching this movie only for that.

Vampire Bat: In the end, I am sure that most of us will end up watching this for different reasons.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is the movie about? :: Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is a rising cinematographer who wishes to shoot a full movie instead of the smaller projects that she usually does. Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor) is the person who becomes her chance to get to the big scene at New York, and it is with him that she is cheating on her boyfriend, Sid (Angad Bedi). But things don’t go on as planned, and she ends up in Goa, where her parents are – as many other people in her life, she can’t get along with them too. She is unable to sleep and except for her very few friends, she is angry at most of the people. But one day, she comes across Dr. Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) whom she figures out as the right choice to solve her problems. She decides to be open to her therapist, and he has a few sessions with her, and life will never be the same for her again.

The defence of Dear Zindagi :: Here you get another inspirational movie. There is no shortage of messages, no matter how they are presented – it is more about claiming back one’s life while getting rid of the ghosts of the past, and the rest of the messages can be discovered by oneself. There is some humour here and there, but nothing that remains memorable enough. The visuals work nicely, and the songs are okay, with “Love you zindagi” being a clear winner. There are also some dialogues which you can use as a quotation on another day. The fact that this movie made this much without much of a plot is actually interesting. Then there is the cast which is another big advantage for this movie. It is also an interesting thing to notice that Bollywood is thinking differently these days – we had many movies with difference this year, and that is a welcome change; but the fact that this was so close to being a lot better movie should be rather disappointing.

Claws of flaw :: Well, we get so many of inspirational movies here; if you take a look back, there are enough of them to keep some extra inspiration for later use – there are separate movies for children like Philips and the Monkey Pen, for women like Rani Padmini and also for many different categories of people. It is near impossible to relate to the character played by Alia Bhatt too, as we get too much of a world which is less ours. This could have been more fun if it felt more real with its happens. We see that something unreal comes up here and there even in an inspirational movie – a bad habit without doubt. This certainly goes exaggerated, and thus that bad quality of Bollywood is also retained. There are slow parts and you know the unconvincing side – not easy to feel for the characters; our protagonist herself has too easy a life and no pain. The drag makes one feel that this an even longer movie, with an already big run-time – too many dialogues there too.

Performers of the soul :: Alia Bhatt’s character does spend a lot of time buying things from e-bay and cleaning the roads with her clothes as she move around in them, but you see that she plays this interesting, but irritating character very well. Her long speech about her childhood might be the boring side of the same though, followed by her anger at her parents. But the energy that she brings to this character is a lot. Still, it is only when Shah Rukh Khan’s character enters the scene after an hour, that things get interesting. After that, things get going, until that climax which is nothing more than ordinary. Even as Alia Bhatt remains the soul of this movie, it is Shah Rukh Khan that holds the parts together, and whemever he is there, we are cent percent glued to the screen. Among the supporting cast, it is Yashaswini Dayama who plays Jackie that scores the most.

Soul exploration :: The protagonist’s problems are also more Bollywood kind, as she keeps falling in love – one has to wonder if she actually does anything else in her life; too much falling in love and leaving them behind. Then she also gets to be rude to her parents living in the past. There are moments when one feel that these kind of people don’t deserve a movie at all, unless provided with a warning in the beginning. But Bollywood’s aversion to common man goes on as it looks only for special people. As usual, for a Bollywood movie, there is also too much melodrama in this one, and the real solution of this problem was there so early – as the problem in this movie for Alia Bhatt’s character is she herself. Some people have to be taught how to be good to others, even when their life is actually going very smooth, and that indeed is the problem of this world, isn’t it?

How it finishes :: There is one thing that we keep wondering about – why is the Bollywood movies too much about the aspirations and disappointments of people of another level? At the same time, the Malayalam movie Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan is running in the theatres, and this one is closer to the common people despite it focusing more on the comic side without feeding advice with brains. You saw the same with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, as the heroes just had to travel all around the world – maybe Bollywood wishes to tell less about the common man and make its stars people with a lot of money or special skills? Meanwhile, movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili could easily tell such stories of finding oneself, that too with the common people as protagonists. If you have watched Mummy & Me with Archana Kavi being advised by Suresh Gopi on how to get her life better, you will know how such movies can be done with realistic protagonists with whom we can relate to. This one will work, but the theory to “overdo things for attention with less focus on the story” is here with Bollywood.

Release date: 25th November 2016
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Gauri Shinde
Starring: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama, Rohit Saraf, Kunal Kapoor, Angad Bedi, Ali Zafar, Aditya Roy Kapur

dearzindagii

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Highway

highwayy

The eternal wait :: The one question that I had to ask myself is “On the second day of October, what did the movie Besharam give to me”? It did take away seventy rupees, but I am not talking about that. The answer is a lack of interest in Hindi movies since that Gandhi Jayanthi had come up with terror which had me watch no Hindi movie at all for almost five months (yes, not even on the television). So, it was a necessity that I wait for sometime so that such disaster won’t happen too soon. But there is no denying the fact that I almost watched Jai Ho, but the show was housefull. There are not many movies that have been as hyped as Highway despite having no big male star right in the middle of the story. I always knew that the best thing would be to watch my next Bollywood movie in the form of Highway rather than any other. There have been so much talks about this movie like “what is it going to be?”, “what story will it tell?”, “Alia Bhatt should be so awesome in it, so its a sure watch?”, “isn’t it about Stockholm syndrome?” and so on. The Vampire Bat had heard so much or rather too much about the movie, and he finally decided to fly to the theatre on a motor-bike.

What is it about? :: Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt) is kidnapped just before her wedding as she goes on a night ride with her fiancee trying to keep away the pressures and tension of the big function. She is kidnapped by a group of criminals as they stop at a petrol pump. But as the gang realizes that she is the daughter of a rich and powerful man with links to the government, police and the army, they decide to cancel their plans. But Mahabir Bhati (Randeep Hooda) is not ready to give up as he takes her on a road trip away from the place so that they won’t be tracked. Even as she is initially bound and gagged by them, Veera gets more and more comfortable with her captors, and a bond develops between Mahabir and her. She feels free even as she is a captive, and feels so happy. She even refuses to escape when there is chance and feels that she should be with him for so much longer. She herself says that she doesn’t want the journey to end, as she has no desire to go back or go where the journey ends. But how long till her people finds them and the travel diary is put to a quick end?

The defence of Highway :: Most of the Keralites should remember a pseudo-travel movie with the long name Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and a big drag which begins with about fifteen minutes into it and ends only when the story finishes. Highway is far ahead of that one in almost all aspects, the most important ones being the acting and the visuals. Highway is a visually superior movie with its awesome locations, especially as it has succeeded in capturing the beauty of the paradise which is Kashmir. The beauty of nature becomes more and more joyful to watch as the movie moves on to the latter part of the second half, and it gets stronger and stronger by the time it reaches the end. Its messages of finding oneself and reaching beyond one’s fear are also stronger than ever. It’s use of the two protagonists, a man and woman, both having traumatic childhood works so well to touch our hearts. There is so much honesty in the way these are portrayed too, as there is no addition of stupid masala which makes worthless movies super-hits.

The claws of flaw :: The movie drags a lot, and shows potential to keep dragging. From the beginning itself, the movie seems to make the viewers feel that there is not much to come, even as it is wrong. The character of the lady protagonist is rather too far-fetched to make one believe. She seems rather crazy at times (loosely reminding us of the semi-kidnapped lady protagonist of the Malayalam movie Kilukkam), and her attachment towards a criminal who keeps threatening her comes rather too soon. Except for one or two songs which are okay, the music fails to get the attention of the viewers, and there are times when they come when not needed. There is also the use of other languages or may be variations of Hindi which was rather difficult to follow. There was the need for subtitles at least in it comes rather South. The movie takes one away from any kind of usual entertainment which is usually looked for in such a flick. It won’t give anyone the exaggeration that they might look for in a love story as this keeps that side plain and simple.

Performers of the soul :: Well, most of us won’t identify the faces in the movie other than that of Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. The former (he is the reason why I lament missing John Day which had only one late night show here – who cares for good thrillers with non-superstars who can act, right?) comes up with a powerful performance of brilliance, even as there are less dialogues for him; we can strongly believe that this portrayal by him will be appreciated. We can surely expect a lot more from him. Alia Bhatt is there as the centre of everything, right from the beginning to the end. Even as there is some struggle, she seems to be custom made for the role, seeming to be in so much ease with her character. There are occasions when one would wonder if she does rather too much or a lot more than needed, but that should have come with the character. It is hard to believe that this is only her second movie, and I had missed her first one, Student of the Year. She remains incredibly cute throughout the movie and makes it impossible for any other actress to come up with a better performance in such a role soon. She is so dynamic and full of energy that just her presence keeps the whole thing working so well.

Soul exploration :: The movie is the story of two people whose lives get connected by just one act of crime, a kidnap. It comes up with a lot of things to think about, and it remains so close to being a movie of the soul even if not there completely. Even as not all of them remain close to the truths about life, it is evident that there is a clear attempt to bring to the scene as much humanity as possible; not without its troubles, not in the absence of the good side, yet not abandoning the darker side which tries to get closer to the human soul with more power than ever before. Stockholm syndrome is explored from one side while it continues to be a travel diary as a whole. There are realizations being made about life, and it changes both the kidnapper and the kidnapped in a journey which goes on for kilometres. As Saint Augustine of Hippo says “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

How it finishes :: As the movie for which we have been long waiting for, Highway mostly delivers, thanks to the performances of the leading actors, the visuals and the message that it delivers. Despite the drag and the occasional inability to connect, the movie thrives in simplicity and that humanity which are its own Kraken and Leviathan in the huge ocean of movies this weekend. It’s emptiness is not of the soul, but of the physical world, and that is one void that everyone can afford to avoid. As Robert Frost says, when two roads diverge, you have to choose the one less traveled, and here it is Highway, and even as it might not go as expected, this one makes the difference, and there is no doubt about. But let me tell you, happiness is highly subjective, just like the opinions on this movie seems to be – ask Alia Bhatt’s character in Highway and she reiterates money can’t buy you happiness, or even anything close to that. So, if you are making a choice, think about all these factors mentioned above.

Release date: 21st February 2014
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Pradeep Nagar, Durgesh Kumar, Arjun Malhotra

highway copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.