Movie Review – Maska

TL;DR – A nice story that does tread some well-worn ground    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Maska. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

So to set the scene, we open in on Rumi Irani (Prit Kamani) who is living in his late father’s shadow. Like all things, he is fated to take over the family business which in this case is the Café Rustom an Irani café in Mumbai. His mother Diana (Manisha Koirala) cannot wait till he can take over the café and breathe new life into it. However, one night Rumi won the Mr Firozsha Baag and in it, he discovered his dream, he wants to become an actor. Of course, it does not hurt when he discovers that at his acting lessons not only is this his passion but one of his classmates Mallika Chopra (Nikita Dutta) might be his soul mate.

One of the things I like about Maska is how is it is about breaking out of the bubbles of our life. I once heard that tradition is just peer pressure from dead people and in this film that is both a metaphorical point and also a literal one as he sees an apparition of his father Rustom (Javed Jaffrey). It is about balancing the expectations of your past with the realities of the future.

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Movie Review – Yeh Ballet

TL;DR – a fun film about finding your place in the world through a talent you never knew you had   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Yeh Ballet. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

We continue our look at Indian cinema this week with an interesting film that has recently arrived on Netflix. It is a film that charts the highs and lows of two kids finding a new outcome for their lives. Also, it is kind of cool that it is all based on a true story.  

So to set the scene, we open in on the Mumbai slums as Asif (Achintya Bose) competes in a festival of people stacking on top of each other to get the prize hanging above. Elsewhere Nishu (Manish Chauhan) has made it onto the TV and while his raw talent is impressive, his lack of skill lets him down. Both of the boys have a trajectory of where their lives are headed and neither of them is happy with where it is going. All of this changes when a local talent scout and dance studio owner (Jim Sarbh) brings over the cantankerous Saul Aaron (Julian Sands) to coach his students in ballet and he sees something brilliant in the two boys from the slums.       

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Movie Review – Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Extra Careful of Marriage)

TL;DR – A fascinating if a little blunt film about love in India  

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Extra Careful of Marriage). Image Credit: T-Series.

Review

In my endeavour to watch more non-English language films, I had been spending a lot of time with those coming out of Europe, but this week I want to shift things by focusing on India. With that in mind, today we look at the first of two Indian films out this week that really intrigued me and this is a film is all about finding love even in the face of your family.

So to set the scene, we open in on two guys making a last-minute rush to get to a train that is about to depart as we hear about just how much weddings cost in India. We then go back a bit in time to meet Kartik (Ayushmann Khurrana) and his partner Aman (Jitendra Kumar) who hide who they are from their families by living away in Delhi. One day as they are helping a good friend elope they get caught by her family and need to get out of town for a bit. Well, that’s good timing because Aman’s cousin Goggle (Maanvi Gagroo) is about to be married back in Ahmedabad. The only problem is that Aman’s family does not know he is gay and it goes about as well as you imagine it does.

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Movie Review – Drive (2019)

TL;DR – Today I have what might be the easiest pitch I have ever heard, its Fast and the Furious but Bollywood. Well, that is if you can get through the very uneven first hour that is and some super clunky CGI.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Drive (2019). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I like me a good heist film, where you have shifting loyalties, betrayals, convoluted plans, misdirection, and of course a quick exit. So when I heard that there was a Bollywood heist film with a dash of the Fast and Furious and a sprinkle of well-choreographed dance sequences, I knew I had to give it a watch. Well, let’s dive into a world where you need to screech those tyres and aggressively change gears every half a second.

So to set the scene, the Director of Monetary Restrictions Authority Vibha Singh (Vibha Chibber) and her chief of staff Hamid (Pankaj Tripathi) are going about their days, using less than conventional technics to get businessmen to pay all their taxes when they get an urgent message from President’s office. As his aid Ifran (Boman Irani) explains there is a new thief on the scene called King because they leave a playing card with the location of their next heist at the place they have robed. Well the next place they are going to rob is right there at Rashtrapati Bhavan, India’s Presidential Palace. Their only lead is Tara (Jacqueline Fernandez) who runs an illicit courier business so they sent in a double agent Samar (Sushant Singh Rajput) to see what they can find out.

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TV Review – Bard of Blood

TL;DR – This an interesting spy series which is unfortunately held back a bit with inconsistent pacing and the flow-on effects from that.  

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Bard of Blood. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

One of my goals this year has been to expand my global cinema intake from places away from the traditional English speaking countries that I am used to. I have not been as successful as I would have liked, but when a new Indian spy thriller drops on Netflix you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Now I have finished it, wow, is this series a lot, and I think it might also have lasting repercussions.

So to set the scene, in Balochistan, Pakistan, a group of Indian deep-cover spies are in a lude video internet café using it as a cover as they upload important information back to New Delhi. However, before they can finish, they are captured by the local Taliban. Before they can be executed the Pakistani Intelligence forces intercede and save then, not to keep them alive, but to kill them at the right time and place. Back in India, one of the chiefs in India’s Intelligence bureau Sadiq (Rajit Kapur) feels that something is odd so he seeks out Kabir Anand (Emraan Hashmi) code name Adonis but there is bad blood between them over what happened last time in Pakistan. He instead sends Isha (Sobhita Dhulipala) to retrieve him, however, Sadiq is murdered in his home and Adonis is framed, and only he might be able to save the agents because there is a mole in the Indian government and he does not know who they might be. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil

TL;DR – It is said that a film succeeds if it makes you feel something, well if that is all it took than this film would be a success, but considering this made me feel revulsion and anger, I think it takes more than that.    

Score – 1 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Warning – This film contains extensive scenes of abuse

Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil. Image Credit: Netlifx.

Review

Okay I’m going to be honest right from the start, I am coming to this film as someone who is from outside of India and does not have the most extensive experience with Indian cinema, so there may be some context I am missing. Also, by writing this review I feel like I am positioning myself in the same position as some of the people criticised in the film, an irony that is not lost on me. But all of that being said, you can skip to the end if you want because I do not in any shape or form recommend this film.

So to set the scene, we open in on a couple a man (Rohit Kokate) and women (Khushboo Upadhyay) who are walking along a coastal boardwalk in Mumbai. They are in a relationship but they are not married so they need to be discreet given the conservative aspects of Indian society. But as they talk it is clear that both of them want different things out of the relationship.

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Movie Review – Chopsticks

TL;DR –  A film that feels ripped right out of the 1990s that you would look back and muse that it has not aged well at all.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Chopsticks. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There are times when you sit down to watch a film and you revel in the chaos not knowing where it will go next. Then there are times that in the first five or so minutes you can get a rough sketch of each major plot point that is about to come. Well, today, unfortunately, we look at a film that is a latter with a story that feels like it would have been dated in the early 2000s let alone now.

So to set the scene, we open with Nirma (Mithila Palkar) who is a Mandarin translator and who is apparently named after a laundry powder brand. She is buying her first new car in her life but her number plate ads up to 11 rather than the preferred 9. On the way home, she takes her mother’s advice and goes to temple and has an attendant park her new car, and it should come as no surprise that there was no attendant and she just gave her keys to the guy that stole her brand new car. While she is at the police station she is told of someone who can help her, who goes by the name Artist (Abhay Deol), and she gets more than she bargains for.

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Movie Review – Gully Boy

TL;DR – A story about finding your voice through rap in the slums of Mumbai hits just about every beat perfectly.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a scene over the first part of the credits

Gully Boy. Image Credit: Excel Entertainment.

Review

It has been a while since I have watched a movie about becoming a music superstar that had any kind of weight and substance behind it. Usually, they are content just to ride on the fact that people know the music very well, and as long as you drop those classic songs every now and again people will lap it up. Today we get to look at a film that doesn’t just rest on its laurels and call it a day, it instead focuses deeply on what it is to come from nothing and try to make it in a very competitive world.  

So to set the scene, we open in Mumbai, India, specifically the Dharavi slums on the outskirts of the city, and we start immediately in a moment of tension when Aftab (Vijay Raaz) brings home a second younger wife, much to the annoyance of both Murad (Ranveer Singh) and his mother Razia (Amruta Subhash). Murad is working hard at school, working hard on keeping his relationship with Safeena (Alia Bhatt) on the quiet, but he has a real passion for rap. In his quiet time, he watches videos on YouTube and works on his own lyrics. However, he doesn’t have the confidence to take it to the next level, which is when MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi) gives him the push he needs.

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Movie Review – Padmaavat (Padmavati, पद्मावती)

TL;DR – A fascinating but also a quite difficult film, great acting, but only one-dimensional characters, with a very mixed ending

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – No

Padmaavat

Review

So back in 2017, I pushed myself to go see more non-western films and while it was a laudable goal, it didn’t pan out as much as I would have liked. Well, 2018 is a new year, and so let’s take another stab at this, and well there was no better place to start than with one of the most controversial films I have seen since maybe The Interview (see review). A leading politician in India demanded people assault the director, sets have been burnt down, death threats have been made, even riots at screenings and well some people have really got to understand what the Streisand Effect is. Now before we get into the film review proper I did want to preface this review with a couple of provisos, for better or worse I am approaching this film as an outsider, as I am a white guy who is not a practitioner of any of the religions depicted nor a decedent of any of the ethnic groups in this film. Now this means that I am likely missing a lot of the historical and cultural contexts that the film is using as shorthand. But also, I have no particular want to see one side viewed in a certain way, so impartial external observer and what not. So let’s dive into probably one of the more interesting films I have seen recently, for good and bad reasons.

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