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.


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.

Continue reading

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.


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.       

Continue reading

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.


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.

Continue reading

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.


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.

Continue reading

Movie Review – Hotel Mumbai

TL;DR – This is an incredible, violent, and emotionally visceral film that will grab you in the first frame and not let go  

Score – I honestly don’t know how to score this.

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

Hotel Mumbai. Image Credit: Screen Australia.


In a now previous life, I taught international relations to university students. This is a large discipline and one of the areas we looked at was terrorism, which happens to be one of the most pressing security issues in the modern world, or not, it’s complicated. All of this meant that when I walked into the theatre to review this film I thought I had a pretty good handle on what I was about to see, as I was quite familiar with the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and well I could not have been more wrong.

So to set the scene, we open with a boat slowly making its way into one of the many harbours on the Mumbai shoreline. On the boat are eight well-dressed young men who could be there for work in the financial capital of India, but immediately you know that is not the case. Each of them carries a large duffel bag and they are listing to someone give them instructions, directing them to different landmarks across the city. Meanwhile, across the city everyone else is just going through their day as normal, Arjun (Dev Patel) is trying to get his dastaar perfect as he gets ready for work at the Taj Hotel, Zahara (Nazanin Boniadi), her husband David (Armie Hammer), and their nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) are arriving at the hotel after a long flight and everyone is racing to get the room ready for her as her mother is a VIP, and the hotel head chef Hemant (Anupam Kher) is just trying to work out how to get everything done in such a short time. None of them knows the hell that is heading for them.

Continue reading

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.


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.

Continue reading