Jalsa

Vampire Owl: I am glad that they are still releasing movies on OTT platforms.

Vampire Bat: Yes, otherwise, we would go to some air-conditioned theatre and catch the corona virus pandemic.

Vampire Owl: And we have Amazon Prime Video getting one more.

Vampire Bat: It is indeed the best platform as more people have Prime.

Vampire Owl: Well, the theatres can have the mass masala movies.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we can have the dumb fans limited to the theatres that way.

Vampire Owl: Well, we all know the taste of the brainless.

Vampire Bat: Well, the human brain is more ridiculous than ever these days.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that you have ever trusted a human brain to be good.

Vampire Bat: If you are talking about good as in good v/s evil, the answer is a clear no.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Maya Menon (Vidya Balan) is a very successful journalist based out of Mumbai. After many years of success, she continues to be among the biggest names in the field, as her name is on many hoardings and she also brings trouble to the big names which she interviews. Ruksana Mohammed (Shefali Shah) works as domestic help at her home, and focuses the most on cooking. Shefali’s daughter, Alia Mohammed (Kashish Rizwan) happens to be that kind of an eighteen year old daughter who pretends that she is always studying very hard at night, but spends most of her time with her boyfriend, as her father also works at night like her mother. On that eventful night when she hopes to enjoy her life on a lie, she is hit by a car after running away from her boyfriend all of a sudden and landing in the middle of the road. The boyfriend gets on the motorbike and gets away as soon as possible, and so does the person who was in the car.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Rohini George (Vidhatri Bandi) is a trainee who works at the same online news portal where Maya is leading the team. She joined the team just recently, and is hoping to crack some case which will make her really popular, and lead to an increase in her salary. Hailing from Cochin, Rohini wishes to bring her mother to Mumbai after she has settled down there. She lacks in confidence, but is determined to make a difference. She follows the same case, and gets to know about the boyfriend. Maya is angry about the same and asks her to stop investigating the case. But it won’t move out of Rohini’s head at all. At the same time, there is the remorseful boyfriend who wanders around, and Maya’s boss who is adamant on letting this episode go behind. The police officers ask them to take some money and leave the case. Everyone here seems to be worries about something, but Maya and Ruksana are more worried that anyone else – where will this problem end?

The defence of Jalsa :: There is a certain amount of serenity about this movie even though the tension is there at all times. It deals with the moral conflict in a very smooth manner, as none of the characters here seems to be evil, with everyone trying to come up with a solution which is good for everyone. Everyone is facing that moral problem due to different reasons, and we can feel the strength of the anxiety related to the same. The emotions are running strong in the background for sure, even though it never comes to the front that often. It is also that kind of a movie which starts strong, and then focuses on the proceedings slowly, and bring everything back to where it started by the end. The performances are what makes things better, as there is always someone around here to raise the level of the movie. The movie also keeps away from the usual Bollywood things, and without adding those extra unnecessary elements, it becomes something realistic, and a movie which is for the intellectual emotions.

The claws of flaw :: The movie has a little bit of complicated collection of events which seems to be stuck together. It gets quite slow at times, and often has moments which we could have done without. It also comes to a much expected end too slowly, and one often feels that there is a little bit of too much time taken to reach this particular end. A stronger and more emotional ending was the need of this film. The movie is also not something that can run for more than two hours – this is the kind of thing which should be over in one and half, and the rest is just a stretch. With this length, it keeps adding something or the other without strengthening the stronger points. Even though this is a fine deviation in Bollywood, it should have more courage to get it deeper, and with the same, a few dull and unnecessary moments of not much worth could have been removed. It could have also explored the story of the young and inexperienced reporter even more. Some better visuals of the world other than the very expensive flat could have also helped.

The performers of the soul :: Vidya Balan is once again doing the job so well with sincerity and quality. He plays the confident journalist who leads with a trauma with morality tormenting her more than anything – it is something which she seems to do with ease, and if the pace of the movie was better, she could have come up with something even sharper. Shefali Shah plays the mother figure to many children really well too – duped by her children, but always seeing the best in all kids. But these performances were quite expected, and the one which stands apart is that of Vidhatri Bandi who plays a young girl from Cochin who has come to Mumbai to become a famed journalist – the girl does remind one of so many similar people in Kerala itself, those who needs a boost of confidence while going through the tough times. I do feel that I would exactly be like here when caught in such a situation. The movie begins with Kashish Rizwan’s work, and despite playing a character in bed for most of the film, she remains notable from the beginning. The actors who play the police officers also come up with some believable work.

How it finishes :: Jalsa makes a solid point with its proceedings. There are moments that make one think and wonder about different elements. Kaanekkaane is a movie which dealt with similar themes, as its world also revolved around one accident. It was a much more emotional tale with even bigger performances, as we look back at it. If you have watched the movie C/O Saira Banu, it also deals with a similar accident from another point of view – these are the movies which you should watch, and you will feel that this particular movie has surely had some inspirations from there. Just like those two movies, this movie is also an emotional thriller, and has the emotional moments helped by a few twists which serve as interesting subplots. Well, the tale that we have at the centre will surely remain something of relevance, and can bring more movies in Bollywood – we can hope that there is no superstar leading the way in them though, as in that case, it would get to be really absurd, leading to a wrong turn.

Release date: 18th March 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Suresh Triveni
Starring: Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah, Rohini Hattangadi, Vidhatri Bandi, Manav Kaul, Iqbal Khan, Surya Kasibhatia, Shrikant Yadav, Ghanshyam Lalsa, Gurpal Singh, Shafeen Patel, Kashish Rizwan, Vijay Nikam, Junaid Khan, Trunshant Ingle, Monu Gurjar, Uday Vir Singh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dybbuk

Vampire Owl: I am surprised that they have come up with a remake of Ezra after four years.

Vampire Bat: Yes, four years is a long time for a movie like Ezra.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when we had loved a Bollywood horror movie so much?

Vampire Bat: I am also not sure about that. We have been into Hollywood and other foreign language horror only.

Vampire Owl: I would like to know where this one stands in comparison with the original.

Vampire Bat: We had watched the original too long ago. Therefore, I am not sure if we can compare these well enough.

Vampire Owl: I only hope that our memories are as sharp as the vampire manual says.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will have some difference, surely more than what the remakes like Drishyam have.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown as somewhat different, because they are all not the same when at different places and affecting different people.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe the demon of Ezra really needed another outing, and this one can serve it well, like vampires always needed.

[Gets some spicy tapioca chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is this remake of Ezra all about? :: The death of a Jew in Mauritius marks the end of a century old history of Jews in Mauritius – he was the last Jew around there, part of a group of Jews who had taken refuge in the island to escape persecutions and possible genocides. A mysterious box from the house goes missing, and soon, a local man is found dead without leaving any clues about the murder. It is indeed a strange case, and police hopes that something will lead them in the right direction. A newly married couple, Sam Issac (Emraan Hashmi) and Mahi Sood (Nikita Dutta) seems to be having a problem-free life until they move to Mauritius and the latter brings an antique box back to their new residence in the island. It is an isolated place, more or less like a holiday home, with no human to disturb them. But that would change soon enough, as what she brought back home as part of decorating the place turns out to be a Dybbuk box, which is supposed to be claimed by a Jewish demonic spirit called Dybbuk.

So, what happens next in this tale of horror out of a myth? :: Meanwhile, Sam is still working, as he is part of a company named Zayke, which deals with the disposal of nuclear waste from Europe. He feels that there is a certain amount of hallucination going on with her, as she had a miscarriage just some time ago. The spirit maintains all the qualities of the usual spirits, but is supposed to be among the most dangerous among them all. There is not much known about the same though, as there are not many Jews they know, with most of them migrating to Israel early enough. There would be strange things happening in the house very soon, and soon, a nightmare would begin for them. They think about getting rid of the box, but the spirit already has its place. To read the Hebrew inscription on the box, they contact a professor who gives them the translation. The same person also gives them the contact details of a rabbi who seems to be the only one who can help them. But are they moving in the right path against this particular evil spirit?

The defence of Dybbuk :: There is variety here, which this move inherits from its original, and there is quality in the looks too, with improvements there. The visuals are used well to create the horror advantage, and the darkness as well as the creepy elements are adjusted well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in a second half which promises further. The visuals of Mauritius nicely adds to the beauty in totality. There is also a lot in the story here, unlike the usual horror movies, and the creature that does the haunting around here is not among the usual ones, as the myth is comparatively new, especially for those who haven’t watched the original. There is the feeling of antiquity as well as a beauty not of this world being portrayed here. There is also that one twist that happens by the end, but that is not too innovative. But we do see that this one has a very slight edge over the original, and yet both remains the same in many elements as well as repeated scenes.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the evil spirit doesn’t have the terrifying presence that it had in the first half, being repeated in the second – the final exorcism, brings nothing huge, even though were always going for the big finish to lift the film in the end. There were so many possibilities with this movie with the new demon, and the unlimited number of chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t take its opportunities as much as it could, just like the original didn’t. Dybbuk could have been scarier, and there is no doubt about that, with the original idea already being displayed on the big screen with the support of big sound systems – this one being released on Amazon Prime Video, there was the requirement of more power to keep the audience in fear and at the edge of their seats, but we see that such strength is not there, even though we can approve and appreciate the improvements which were made here. Yet, the background story of the spirit was better in the original.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Emraan Hashmi as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – in comparison with Prithviraj Sukumaran, one has to say that there has been some difference added to the role, but he has managed well, as he did the same in Chehre, the thriller which also released on Amazon Prime Video a few days ago. His affiliation with horror is here to stay, as it seems – there are a few other Malayalam films with certain thriller elements which could have him in the remake, one would feel. Nikita Dutta has come up with a very good performance as the lady in distress, being forced to be part of a demonic activity in which she is completely immersed. There is not much difference in her performance in comparison to the work in the original, but she does seems to have more emotions coming her way – there was the requirement to have a song like “Lailakame” for her too, with that much quality. The rest of the cast fills in well, and we have to look out for the Rabbis this time, and not the priests of the usual background – they have chosen the appropriate ones to play these roles too.

How it finishes :: There has a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, but Bollywood has chosen to remake this one, which is why, one can be sure that the Indian cinema as a whole, has the requirement is for more good horror. We do not have the need for more drama and more romance – there is so much of the same already, as well as those silly masala movies, and we need to move out of them whether with remakes or originals. Therefore, Ezra‘s remake is something which has to be appreciated, and the fact that there is no missing out here is a fine thing. Remaking a Malayalam movie can only mean good things for Bollywood, even though the exact opposite might not mean the same. As far as this film is concerned, the remake is done really well, and even with the limitations of the original maintained the same, there are a few moments which make this movie work as an improvement, with added visuals and special effects. So, Amazon Prime Video can be happy to have this one at a time when people are slowly just starting to think about choosing the theatres over OTT.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Nikita Dutta, Darshana Banik, Pranay Ranjan, Denzil Smith, Ivan Sylvester Rodrigues, Vivana Singh, Sudev Nair, Manav Kaul, Yuri Suri, Vipin Sharma

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jolly LLB 2

Vampire Owl: I know this Jolly fellow. He was so jolly.

Vampire Bat: It is not that Jolly, but this one can be quite jolly too.

Vampire Owl: So, we have a sequel which has another Jolly, who is also a jolly fellow.

Vampire Bat: Yes, instead of Jagdish Tyagi, we have Jagdishwar Mishra. But we call them both Jolly.

Vampire Owl: That explains the change of cast. But then, this won’t be a real sequel.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this is the second story of a Jolly, and it is just that it is another Jolly.

Vampire Owl: This is rather confusing with two of them being called the same name, despite having different names.

Vampire Bat: Well, this movie actually happens after the first, and we get a mention about the first movie by the character of the judge.

Vampire Owl: It would have still be nice if at least one person of the two was called Jaggu.

Vampire Bat: Well, these humans have a strange way of naming people again and again.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jagdishwar Mishra a.k.a. Jolly (Akshay Kumar) is a lawyer who wishes to make it big as a lawyer, but with his chances a long way away, works as an assistant to one of the most famous lawyers of Lucknow, Rizvi Sahab (Ram Gopal Bajaj) at Lucknow. Jolly is not considered as a lawyer who can go the distance, as he is the son of the man hailing from Kanpur who was only an assistant for his whole career, and Jolly himself doesn’t have his own chamber even after trying so hard. A pregnant lady, Hina Siddiqui (Sayani Gupta) spends most of his time in and around court area, trying to convince any of the well-known lawyers to take up the case of his husband. She begs Jolly to make his senior lawyer to accept her case. With the need there to get two lakhs for the final payment of his chamber, Jolly lies to her that the senior lawyer has agreed to take her case, and a sum of two lakhs need to be paid as soon as possible, to which she agrees.

So, what happens next? :: After getting the money from her, Jolly inaugurates his new chamber on the day of Holi in style with his wife Pushpa Pandey (Huma Qureshi) and the rest of his well-wishers. But Hina who finds out about the same, reaches there and creates a scene. Jolly tells her that he intended to return the money after this was done, but she tells him that he should have also rejected her appeal, as everyone else, instead of cheating her – she returns home and commits suicide. Everyone including his own father blames Jolly for causing the death of a pregnant woman. Jolly is unable to sleep or think properly with Hina’s death in his mind. With the help of his friend and lawyer Birbal (Rajiv Gupta), he decides to filed a public interest litigation to get justice for Hina and her husband, something which was to be his biggest challenge in life.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Jolly understands that the case about Hina’s husband Iqbal Qasim (Manav Kaul) was regarding his fake encounter by Police Inspector Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra) on the very next day after their wedding, which brought him promotion. Iqbal was arrested by the police under the suspicion that he was an Islamic terrorist who reached the place from Jammu and Kashmir, and the same was confirmed later, and he is supposed to have shot a police constable while trying to escape, and the cop had died in the hospital later. The truth though, is that Suryaveer just shot him to make the encounter look more genuine, and by mistake he had ended up dead. Worried that he was going to land in big trouble, Suryaveer then hires his good friend and Lucknow’s best lawyer Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor), to take up his case, also paying fifty lakhs for the same. Can Jolly go against all odds to win the case and bring justice?

The defence of Jolly LLB 2 :: It is not that easy to work well with court-room drama movies and make them work, especially as things tend to get dull with the setting at the same place, and people tending to repeat the same thing again and again, but Jolly LLB 2, just like its predecessor, manages to be entertaining in more than one way. Well, the scenes inside the court are the best moments of the movie without doubt. We are so interested in knowing what happens by the end of the movie, that we find it difficult to move from the seat. The movie balances the comic side with the edge of the seat moments really well, and we get to see Akshay Kumar doing an amazing job as the protagonist who struggles to make it big. Saurabh Shukla brings the fun in between, and Sayani Gupta makes a heavy impact even with those lesser number of scenes. Huma Qureshi’s work is limited, but she does fine when she is there.

The claws of flaw :: There is the presence of those unnecessary songs and dance sequences which seem to make hardly any impact. The movie is also not without its ups and downs, and gets to the next level only later in the first half. There should also be questions about the way the truth is brought to light in this one, and you will also feel that some sequences are brought to us in such a way that the purpose is more to take melodrama higher rather than anything else. We feel that the innocence and simplicity of the first movie is not that much there in this one – we know how much that movie had raised the expectations so well. The audience also wonders if all of these, or at least most of these is actually possible inside a court. I am sure that this movie could have had many more interesting moments with some more divergence too. Also Huma Qureshi and Sayani Gupta could have been there for more.

How it finishes :: Jolly LLB 2 can be considered as good a movie as its predecessor when we have a look at it as a whole. Last year, Akshay Kumar had Airlift and Rustom to do the job for him after Baby and Brothers while going back longer, and this year, it is Jolly LLB 2 so far. There is also something to think about with this one, as one wonders how significant is the common man when facing the rich and the influential, for everyone don’t keep getting the saviours in time. Jolly LLB 2 could be the best Bollywood movies of the year for many people, and is sure to be in the top ten for almost everyone who watches movies regularly. There have been similar interesting movies in Malayalam too with Yes Your Honour starring Sreenivasan and the next level of the same was the Suresh Gopi starrer Melvilasom – all these are the kind of movies which could be watched together for some good quality court-room drama.

Release date: 10th February 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Subhash Kapoor
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Sayani Gupta, Annu Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Kaustubh Pile, Manav Kaul, Kumud Mishra, Inaamulhaq, Sanjay Mishra, Vinod Nagpal, Brijendra Kala, Avijit Dutt, Rajiv Gupta, Sunil Kumar Palwal, Shubhangi Latkar, Ram Gopal Bajaj

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wazir

wazir (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wazir

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.