Tag Archives: Bollywood

The 2015 Big Summer Movie Preview #Hollywood #Bollywood

So arguably the most anticipated movie of 2015, the awesome Avengers: Age of Ultron, has already released and we’ve only just hit May. But summer’s only just begun which means we’ve only just got started. Here are the most exciting movies lined up for the rest of the summer and what makes them exciting (to me!):

Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar

Because Shoojit Sircar is back and Irrfan-Deepika could be the quirkiest romantic pairing this year.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Henry Hobson

Because this looks like the film that could do for Arnold Schwarzenegger what Joe couldn’t do for Nicholas Cage – give him a gritty, badass comeback.

Hot Pursuit
Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara
Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Because Reese Witherspoon is back to doing comedy and this could be this year’s Heat.

MAY 15
Bombay Velvet
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Karan Johar
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap

Because with that cast and the music by Amit Trivedi and with Kashyap at its helm, this is easily my most anticipated film of the year now.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Directed by: George Miller

Because it’s got the most massive, mindblowing, earth-shattering, trailer this year and in most years in general.

Pitch Perfect 2
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and more

Because after a fresh, inventive and super fun original, the coolest group of chickas are back, pitches!

MAY 22
Tanu Weds Manu Returns
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Kangana Ranaut, R Madhavan

Because one Kangana is awesome and two Kanganas is THE BEST THING EVER.

Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie

Because George Clooney stars in a film written by the writer of Lost in a film by the director of The Incredibles, which also stars Hugh Laurie, btw.

MAY 29

San Andreas
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Because who doesn’t want to see The Rock saving the world!

Starring: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray
Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Because THE Cameron Crowe is back with a romcom starring Emma Stone; this could probably be my favourite film of the year.


Starring: Ari Gold, Vinnie Chase, ‘E’, Turtle and Johnny Drama (oh yeah)
Directed by: Doug Ellin


Dil Dhadakne Do
Starring: Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Farhan Akhtar, Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar

Because with a star cast that awesome and a trailer that fun, and a director so brilliant, this could be the Bollywood film of the year.

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Nargis Fakhri
Directed by: Paul Feig

Because Melissa McCarthy is a spy and Jason Statham is a doofus and the film is by the director of The Heat and it also stars Nargis Fakhri!

Jurassic World
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jake Johnson
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Because the dinos are back, this time with Chris Pratt!!!!! (Also this movie is directed by a guy who’s first film I *really* dug, Safety Not Guaranteed)

Hamari Adhuri Kahaani
Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi
Directed by: 
Mohit Suri

Because Vidya Balan is the only reason you need, although I’m really not sure about the rest of the cast and crew.


ABCD 2 (3D)
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhu Deva
Directed by: Remo D’Souza

Because the trailer in 3D looks actually looks like quite a blast.

Inside Out
Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader
Directed by: Pete Docter

Because what a great cast and what a great plot!

Paper Towns
Starring: Natt Wolfe, Cara Delevingne
Directed by: Jake Schreier

this film is written by the writers of of (500) Days of Summer, The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), so if you love romcoms, this one’s NOT to be missed.

Ted 2
Mark Wahlberg, Seth McFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson
Directed by: 
Seth McFarlane

Because the foul-mouthed teddy bear is going to be dirtier, raunchier and even more of an asshole this time… if only the censors allow his debauchery.

Big Game
Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila
Directed by: 
Jalmari Helander

Because it’s an action thriller featuring Samuel ‘Mothaf**a’  Jackson as The President of the USA… oh hell yeah!


Magic Mike XXL
Starring: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks, Matt Bomer
Directed by: Channing Tatum

Because this one’s for the ladies.

Terminator Genisys
Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney (WHY?)
Directed by: 
Alan Taylor

Because Emilia ‘Khaleesi’ Clarke gives you hope, otherwise this really looks like a piece of shit.

Starring: Athiya Shetty, Sooraj Pancholi, Govinda
Directed by: Nikhil Advani

Because this has been the most talked reboot starring two star kids, since Saawariya.


Jon Hamm, Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton
Directed by: 
Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

Because MINIONS.


Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Starring: Salman Khan, Kareena  Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Directed by: 
Kabir Khan

Because Kabir Khan is the only director who can make a Salman Khan movie cool.


Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll
Directed by: 
Peyton Reed

Because Paul Rudd is a superhero in the second Marvel movie of the year, and he better live up to it because I’m really not happy about Edgar Wright not directing this.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Cara Delevingne, Garett Hedlund, Amanda Seyfried
Directed by: 
Joe Wright

Because this could either be fantastic or the best unintentional comedy of the year.

Mr Holmes
Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney 
Directed by: 
Bill Condon

Because Magneto as an aging Sherlock Holmes and that’s just a sick logline.

Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, John Cena, Brie Larson
Directed by: 
Judd Apatow

Because it’s the coming together of two comedy gods with Amy Schumer writing and acting and Judd Apatow directing.

Starring: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
Directed by: 
Chris Columbus

Because I never thought I’d look forward to an Adam Sandler film but this is directed by THE Chris Columbus (of Home Alone!), *really* looks like fun and it also stars Peter ‘Tyrion’ Dinklage and that can never hurt, right?

JULY  31
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames
Directed by: 
Christopher McQuarrie

Because let’s just be honest, the only reason Tom Cruise is still relevant is because he almost kills himself while doing the stunts in Mission Impossible, and everyone’s just curious to see how he managed to live.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whittaker, Rita Ora
Directed by: 
Antoine Fuqua

Because Jake Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar and the buzz is that this film could get one for him (although the trailer’s not promising)

Starring: Ritesh Deshmukh, Pulkit Samrat, Jacqueline Fernandez
Directed by: 
Karan Anshuman

Because the poster, name and cast is super fun and if it could match the spirit of a Four Lions, this could be a load of fun!


Starring: Ajay Devgn, Shriya Saran, Tabu, Rajat Kapoor
Directed by: 
Nishikant Kamat

Because Nishikant Kamat, otherwise really not excited to find out what Ajay Devgn will bring to *another* South remake.


Fantastic Four
Starring: Kate Mara, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell
Directed by: 
Josh Trank

Because it’s got the freshest cast for a superhero movie after Guardians of the Galaxy, and because the director’s done Chronicle, the most twisted take on the superhero genre yet.

Starring: Jack Black, Kumail Nanjiani, Karan Soni
Directed by: 
Rob Letterman

Because this really sounds like the fun, irreverent film that brings Jack Black back on the map.


The Man from UNCLE
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant
Directed by: Guy Ritche

Because Guy Ritchie, that cast, and have you even seen how much fun the trailer looks??

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Siddharth Malhotra, Jackie Shroff
Directed by: 
Karan Malhotra

Because the original movie that this is a reboot of, Warriors, is an incredible film so fingers crossed, although hard to trust anything with Akshay Kumar attached.


Starring: Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by: 
Jared Hess

Because Kristen Wiig and that cast in a bank heist comedy sounds like the funniest film of the year already.

Straight Outta Compton
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Keith Stanfield, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins
Directed by: 
F Gary Gray

Because it’s the origin story of legendary hip hop group NWA and check out the trailer and tell me you don’t get the feels.

All is Well
Starring: JAbhishek Bachchan, Asin, Rishi Kapoor, Supriya Pathak
Directed by: 
Umesh Shukla

Because Umesh Shukla’s OMG was very well done and it would be interesting to see Abhishek Bachchan finally getting a good director to work with.



Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif
Directed by: 
Kabir Khan

Because Kabir Khan again, with another movie, with another Khan, could either be a double treat or… hmm, let’s just hope it’s that.


Hitman: Agent 47
Starring: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds
Directed by: 
Aleksander Bach

Because Homeland’s Rupert Friend gets an action thriller of his own and that sounds terribly exciting to me.

Which movie are you most excited about? Do leave your favourites in the comments below 🙂
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Baby: Neeraj Pandey is the Raju Hirani of Bollwyood action thrillers! #Review

It’s been a while since I’ve felt compelled to write a review of a Bollywood film and to be honest, I didn’t think an Akshay Kumar film would be that film but here we are! The horribly named Baby, Neeraj Pandey’s third film, is the Indian action thriller that we didn’t know we needed, and if enough people watch it, I do hope it become exactly the blueprint of what an Indian action thriller *should* be.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Yes, the bar for a ‘Bollywood’ action thriller is so low that in retrospect, Ghajini seems like a classic, especially because it was the starting point for the downward spiral of the garbage dump that were the South remakes, from Bodyguard all the way to Action Jackson. Many of such crimes committed on the audiences in the name of cinema were inflicted by Akshay Kumar himself, so what Neeraj Pandey has pulled off in Baby, with Kumar at its helm, is nothing sort of an achievement!

To reiterate: Baby is an absolutely awesome surprise. I did not go into the theatre expecting to be as thrilled as I ended up being in the nearly three hours of its runtime, which really went by just as fast as the speed in which Akshay ran throughout this movie – because clearly, this time he was running for the cause that is his career. And if this is an attempt at redemption, Akshay can consider all his sins forgotten (including Rowdy Rathore, which I as *very* reluctant to forgive), because the man’s redeemed himself and how.

Baby is another film in the long line of films trying to decode the India-Pakistan issue through a cat-and-mouse game between Pakistani fundamentalists (or ISI) and the Indian ATS/IB/RAW/Whatnot. Where many others have failed in the past, Baby succeeds on the merit of a tight, gripping script that really gives you no time to think in between scenes. The film starts with action, ends with action – and baring a few awkward, cringe-worthy attempts at showcasing the ‘family’ angle of things – there is loads of action everywhere in between.

But the action here follows a plot that is just a little too smart for your average Bollywood action film, and just a little too Bollywood for your superior action thriller. Pakistani jihadists are planning a bigger attack than 26/11 and it is upto Akshay Kumar and his special ATS forces team (codename: Baby) to save the day, but everything done, acted and shown, leading upto the climactic saving of the day is done with great flair, structure and even logic(!). I’ve realised that in that way, Neeraj Pandey may just be the Raju Hirani of Bollywood action thrillers: his films manage to walk run across the fine line between ‘typical Bollywood’ and ‘good cinema’, and deliver some power packed punches in the simplest manner.

So while there are scenes where Danny Denzongpa (brilliant, as usual) spends a good chunk of time explaining the logic behind what is happening and what needs to, whenever there is the opportunity of a seeti/taali moment, Neeraj Pandey never shies away from that either. And there are *many* such moments, and when I heard the audiences maaroing either, for the first time in ages, I didn’t feel like throwing up… because they were surprisingly well deserved! Then, of course, there’s all the humour that Pandey brought to the proceedings in the most unpredictable of ways, and some moments *really* had you laughing hard (especially the ones with the rod and the slap – you’ll know which).

To be very honest, I always thought Neeraj Pandey was a gareebon ka Paul Greengrass, but he’s proved me wrong and how. It’s not that the film is super slick or jazzed up (it isn’t). Could Baby have looked more Agent Vinod and less A Wednesday? Yes. Does it matter? Absolutely not. Because while Pandey has ensured enough aerial shots, wide shots, and other camera tricks to give the film that grandness, what ultimately works for the film is how real it is: not for a second do you believe something like this is not being pulled off by our own soldiers already. And that’s really Pandey’s trump card. He makes make believe believable!

There’s just so much I loved about Baby – the action sequence where Taapsee Pannu kicks major ass, the level of detail wherein after an explosion, Akshay Kumar’s character sports a bruise on his face throughout the film, the fantastic acting by the supporting cast no matter how small or big a role they had, Anupam Kher the legend, and so much more – that the Argo-inspired climax is but a little bump in the bigger picture that is the movie.

So though I already may have, I don’t want to wayyy oversell Baby, but I *cannot* stress enough that this movie deserves to be watched, and in theaters. Watch it for Akshay, watch it for Pandey, or watch it because there is nothing else playing in Indian films that is remotely watchable, but do watch Baby. It is perhaps the most fun you’d have in watching an Indian a Bollywood action thriller.

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Imran Khan booed at #MFF2014: ‪On the hypocrisy towards Bollywood

As happy as I am about the Mumbai Film Festival resurrecting itself through the love of its fans and with the support of the film industry, this piece (http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/imran-khan-gets-booed-film-snobs-dont-want-bollywood-part-mff-1759369.html) really irked me. Imran Khan, who was called to present one of the films at the fest, was booed by ‘film buffs’ on stage, and I’ll be honest here: this hypocrisy prevalent in some of us is terrible, shameful and also a little bit sad.

Let’s talk about the hypocrisy relating to Bollywood first. I’ll be the first to say that I have a disdain for most Salman Khan films, all Anees Basmee films and pretty much everything Sajid Khan touches and turns to shit. But that angst doesn’t come from a place of looking down upon Bollywood, it comes from being a huge fan of all that’s glorious about Bollywood and from realising that mainstream Indian films today have become a shoddy derivative of what they used to be in the time of Manmohan Desai and Amar Akbar Anthony or even in SRK’s ’90s with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I care about Bollywood and that’s why you find me, many a times, speaking out against the films of today.

But that’s also why you find me promoting the Bollywood films I like as much as I do the little indie films of today. If I liked and plugged Filmistaan, Ankhon Dekhi or for that matter, Queen and Haider; I also enjoyed Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya, Daawat-E-Ishq, 2 States and Khoobsurat, and have never shied away from letting that be known, because Bollywood has, is and will always be a part of our cinematic culture and of what makes us unique globally. So even if we may not like it at all or stand for it, we should still respect it, because there’s space for all kinds of cinema to coexist. Sometimes, it ultimately boils down to a film being a good film or a bad one, and it’s perfectly alright to have an opinion on that, as long as we are equally accepting of a counter opinion, or are just tolerant, for that matter.

Which brings me to the Imran Khan incident: It’s besides the point whether or not he holds up as an actor or whether or not he’s done good films (I’ve personally *loved* many of his films) or the fact that he’s stood up for causes on many occasions or even the fact that the Mumbai Film Festival may not even have happened this year if ‘Bollywood’ may not have rallied to support it. He is an actor belonging to the film industry we hold in such high esteem, that we love and are die hard fans of (whether the Bollywood or the alternative part), and for that and that alone, he, and every young or old actor, deserves our respect. We cannot and should not look down upon him or any actor for that matter because their choice of our movies don’t match up to our standards.

It also reminds me of an incident during the year before last’s Mumbai Film Festival, when Silver Linings Playbook was the opening film, and post the film, Anupam Kher, who had a supporting role in it, was called upon stage for a QnA. More than half the audience exited the auditorium when he came on stage, and none of the others cheered or clapped or bothered to ask any questions. Kher gracefully thanked everyone and exited almost immediately, and understandably. If that’s how we treat a man of Kher’s stature, it’s not a surprise that Khan was booed too.

Now to all those people who look down upon Bollywood because they like ‘world cinema’: I have interviewed over 30-40 international filmmakers including the likes of Richard Linklater, Nicolas Winding Refn, David Cronenberg, and you know what everyone says about our industry? As much as they are inspired by Satyajit Ray or are interested in Anurag Kashyap’s filmography, they are *fascinated* by Bollywood. They love the song and dance – many have spoken about how much they loved a Lagaan or 3 Idiots or any SRK film. I actually had a month long email exchange with Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin, who had seen ‘My name is Sheela’ somewhere, and wanted suggestions on similar songs because he was so hooked. I sent him a bunch of Vishal-Shekhar and Pritam songs and he loved ALL of them!

The reason these guys like Bollywood as much as they like our indie stuff is because they love how Bollywood makes us distinct and they celebrate that as much as they respect our alternative cinema. So the fact that we ourselves have little respect for an aspect of our pop culture that is celebrated across the world, just as much as a Ravi Shankar or Zakir Hussain or AR Rahman are, is shameful. Especially since we enjoy a ‘Sheela ki jawaani’ or ‘Chhamak chhalo’ just as much as the average Bollywood fan, and continue buying tickets for a blockbuster Khan film in a multiplex far more than we do a smaller, niche film. PVR Rare releases a bunch of independent or world cinema films every month – NONE of them last over a week, because no one’s going to the cinema to watch them. How many of us know of Avinash Arun’s Killa that won a Golden Bear at Berlin or Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court that won at the Venice Film Festival? So why this hypocrisy?

On a side note, it disturbs me how we are moving towards being a culture of mean-spirited bullies. And I’m not just talking about Bollywood or India, but globally. The internet has empowered many a troll to take down someone’s opinion or point of view or artistic endeavors, that too, anonymously. People who haven’t had the courage to step out and do things on their own are today sitting behind a computer screen and laughing at people who do, however good or bad they might be is besides the point. Who are we to judge someone’s talent? Who are we to say someone’s way of living life or someone’s right to an opinion or someone’s way of expressing themselves is any better or any worse than someone else? It’s not about ‘trying’ or enjoying yourself today; unless you are the very best at what you do, people are going to be assholes to you.

How has ‘not giving a shit’ become a cool thing? Why is mean, snide and snarky trolling ‘liked’ or enjoyed? How did we because such a people? Why is being sympathetic or nice or kind looked down upon today as a sign of weakness? Social media and instant messaging and the shift towards being a ‘right now’ generation has turned us into a people of knee jerk reactions. We are now a culture that is quick to pull others down because they don’t meet *our* expectations of how *they* should lead their lives. No matter how anyone justifies it, this is, sadly, nothing to be ‘liked’.


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Haider is Vishal Bharadwaj’s inteqaam on Salman Khan’s cinema #MovieReview #Haider #SPOILERS

Spoiler Alert: Salman Khan and the headline of this piece is discussed in the first 4 paragraphs and contains a spoiler. Read from paragraph 5 if you want to avoid it.

Note: Have added my view on the debate around Haider in the existing review, in the last three paragraphs.

Haider is a film that makes daring statements about many different things over the course of its runtime. But the most artful statement it makes has to do with Salman Khan. * spoilers follow* In the movie, set in 1995, two brothers (or friends), both called Salman, are Salman fanatics (fondly called ‘Bhaitards’ on the internet): they are not only obsessive about Salman’s movies, they also impersonate him down to his look, style, and behaviour. They run a Bollywood VHS parlour, dressed almost entirely with posters of Salman’s mug, in the middle of a lake in Kashmir and sell Salman Khan ‘Bollywood’s Rocky and all time superstar’ to anyone, Indian or American, who wants to indulge in the movies.

To cut a long story short, the turning point of the film is brought about when Haider, brutally and mercilessly stones the two Salmans to death. If you haven’t watched the film and are still reading this, let me assure you that the murders are well-deserved, in the context of the movie, of course (otherwise they aren’t, so umm, don’t do them). The two Salmans are basically sidekicks without a hero, and also without a brain of their own, who go to whichever side is most profitable; within the movie, the tide is the Indian army, and it is most profitable to kill Haider, but they end up dead instead.

I generally don’t tend to make too much of symbolism in a movie but I almost stood up in my seat to applaud Vishal Bhardwaj when Haider *literally* stoned Salmans (who were Salman buffs), to death. The movie, which eloquently discusses, dissects and waxes eloquent on ‘inteqaam’, is essentially Vishal Bhardwaj’s inteqaam on Salman Khan’s brand of cinema; the brand of mindless entertainment, the sidekicks of what ‘cinema’ really is, that cares about little other than profit.

This may just be me – I don’t know if anyone else has brought up this point – and perhaps, like many on social media tend to think so, Bhardwaj *is* in fact paying tribute to Salman through the characters and his songs and film clips. But to think of it, is it a mere coincidence that among the many camps that potential terrorists are taken to, is a camp in which the men in uniform are watching a Salman Khan movie? Where I am concerned, Vishal Bhardwaj has, with Haider, unabashedly made a statement on the condition of cinema in India, and with a film this fantastic, stoned ‘Bollywood’ in the face, to prove that a great piece of cinema can also be pretty ‘mainstream’.

Because Haider is both a defiance of all that is Bollywood, and at the very same time, an ode to it. It’s got the ‘rooh’ of an art film, but the body of a contemporary Bollywood classic. It stays within the parameters of all that Bollywood is – there is at least one forced romantic song, there is a love story that’s trying hard to fit in, among all the nuanced characters there’s still a conventional hero and villain, there’s at least one slightly well-known token Kashmiri actor in Aamir Bashir whose role as the heroine’s evil brother is basically being angry all the time, there’s the most famous Bollywood problem: not knowing how to shorten a great film to a perfect one because you are in love with your product, and the film’s also got its own Salman Khan in Irrfan: the introductory scene of Irrfan basically makes you realise that Irrfan is Vishal Bhardwaj’s Salman Khan! – and yet, the film succeeds on all other levels as a cinematic achievement.

The direction is masterful; every shot has been conceived as a labour of love and it is evident that this was a film Bhardwaj possibly took even more seriously than any other in his illustrious career. The cinematography (Pankaj Kumar) is unbelievably good, I doubt anyone else can claim a better shot Bollywood film this year; the dialogues are exquisite… really, more than the music itself, I found the dialogues to be music to the ears in the way they were written and of course in the way they were expressed. Because every dialogue was expressed by an actor in a way that they owned that dialogue; that those words were written only for them and no one else in the world could perform them any better. Because the acting performances in Haider are possibly some of the best in contemporary cinema, of *any* country. From a newbie like Shraddha Kapoor to the character actors (the two Salmans) to seasoned ones, everyone is remarkable, even in the smallest of roles (Kulbhushan Kharbanda!).

Of course, Tabu and Kay Kay Menon steal every scene they are in because they are just that damn good. The oedipal layer that Tabu brings to her character is disconcerting, and the humanity that Kay Kay brings to a character so rotten is incredible. But that’s to be expected of the two stalwarts. What stands out in the movie, and which is one of the two greatest achievements of Haider – is the rise of Shahid Kapoor as a man amongst the boys.

With this movie, in fact from a single scene – the radio scene, which is bound to go down as iconic in film folklore as one of the bravest, most badass pieces of Indian cinema – Shahid has cemented his place amongst the likes of Ranbir Kapoor, as one of the finest and most terrific young actors in the country. Shahid evidently stripped himself of himself for the movie; he doesn’t just play Haider, he *is* Haider. This is a career defining performance, if there ever was one, and this could very well be Shahid’s McConaissance. Shahid Kapoor is the new Matthew McConaughey, and Haider is his True Detective. If, hereon, Shahid manages to build on the shoulders of Haider, he may well have booked a place among the greats of his generation, but if he goes back to his ‘Gandi baat’, it would be a loss tragic to our cinema.

The other great achievement of Haider – of course – is to bring the Kashmir issue to the front and center of Bollywood, which is the front and center of everything India is. The film pulls few punches and holds up an unflattering mirror on delicate matters like army torture, plebiscite and more – but ultimately, it is wise to remember that this is a film and not a political mouthpiece or propaganda. There is a story of a person and a family being told here, and that story does not necessarily depict all sides of the conflict.  I have hence tried not to make this review about the issue as well, because while films are often a commentary on society, Haider doesn’t claim to be one, and the only thing that it tries to be faithful to is Shakespeare and his tragedy, Hamlet, of which it is an adaptation.

Haider should hence be seen only through a cinematic lens and not a political one; because a piece of fiction cannot be held accountable for not judiciously reproducing history. Bhardwaj and cowriter Basharat Peer deserve praise for bravely representing on screen a version of a specific part of history that’s seldom been spoken about in mainstream cinema, and the onus is up to us to understand its background and its reality. The emotional response to Haider by those who feel strongly about the other side of events should ideally be channeled into a discussion or turned into prose or poetry through any artistic medium, and a film like Haider should be welcomed because it means that major Indian studios (DISNEY UTV Motion Pictures) and the censor board are now ready to share such stories, if well made, on the big screen.

The story of, and in, Haider may or may not attempt to give a mainstream voice to a specific, marginalised community, but if the film starts a meaningful conversation about Kashmir in the homes of ‘the masses’, and if its ultimate message – that revenge is never the answer – is the takeaway by audiences far and wide, then Haider won’t just be an achievement for Indian cinema, but an achievement for the Indian collective conscience.

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By Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon). Original article: http://goo.gl/Uk51lH

How much romance should be in a romantic comedy? I have always felt that the makers of contemporary Bollywood romcoms have not been able to figure that out yet. There’s the new age filmmakers, who believe in ‘less is more’ so there seems to be this big fear when something reaches towards an emotion, or more like, ‘OHMYGOD EMOTION! WHAT DO WE DO NOW? THIS WILL MAKE PEOPLE FEEL AND THAT WILL DESTROY THE WORLD’. For example, the recent Finding Fanny, or Hasee Toh Phasee or Shuddh Desi Romance or you know, Dunno Y.. Na Jaane Kyun (#badjoke).

Then there’s the old school Bollywood filmmakers – or new age old school Bollywood filmmakers – who are basically the sons of somebody or one of the 100 relatives of the Bhatts, who approach emotion as a fat man would approach food: ‘LET’S HAVE EVERYTHING! THIS IS SPARTAAAAAAAAAAA!’ For example, Ek Villain, Aashiqui 2, Tum Mile, and 300 (#secondbadjoke)

And then there’s Dharma, YRF and Imtiaz Ali, who straddle the thin line in between, basically behaving like a drunk guy walking trying to walk straight: one time he will fall to the left, one time he will fall to the right, but he can never, ever stay in the middle. But every once a while, there comes a guy who, like a veteran drunk, can contain his daaru, and *own* this bloody line. Habib Faisal is one such veteran piyakkad (and I’m going to ignore that he wrote Bewakoofiyan because you know what, shit happens, ok?).

Faisal so expertly straddles the rom and the com in his movies that it’s hard to believe the genes of a 16 year old teenage girl and a, say, Asrani or Mehmood, or Keshto Mukherjee, doesn’t run in his blood at the same time (although I have no proof it doesn’t).

Let me cut the crap now and get to the point: Dawaat E Ishq is a romcom feast! It’s a delicious (#wordthatgoeswithdaawat) film with just the right ingredients in just the right quantity (#diditagain) and all the right garnishing on top (#somebodystopme) to make for a perfectly cooked meal (#omgthisisadisease) of love and fun. (#sorry)

I’m not going to get into the story since you should discover that yourself, but what I really loved about the movie is that it’s a movie that completely maintains its irreverent tone from the very beginning to the very end; never for once taking itself too seriously. When there is romance, it’s emphasised so very well in body language or through the eyes, or through the face; basically through everything Parineeti Chopra does because she’s just that damn awesome.

And when there’s drama, it is emphasised not with blaring emotional background music (*cough* Bhansali films *cough*)or a bucketful of glycerine (*cough cough* Bhansali films *gets asthma *); but just through great writing that leads itself to a conflict so well, that you are naturally intrigued to what could happen next. And what happens next, is usually a witty line or a smart foil of a cliché, usually through the OUTSTANDING Anupam Chopra – who is just as good as an Amitabh Bachchan or a Rishi Kapoor in any damn thing he does; in fact, several times he’s better – and the very charming Aditya Roy Kapoor, who’s quite a revelation, really.

For example, in the scene in which Gullu (the girl) has just been proposed to, the camera just stays on her face for a bit – and she is given the freedom to make us feel. And she does it so damn well, that you can’t help but feel and get tingly inside, perhaps because of the direction, perhaps because it’s Parineeti! And when there’s a conflict – like the finale – without giving any spoilers – there’s a leap of logic and some surreality but never any hammering the point away, all done to maintain that fantastic tone that’s been carried from scene one.

The chemistry between Parineeti and Aditya Roy is quite outstanding. To be honest, Parineeti can generate chemistry with a dying puppy if she wants (#ArjunKapoor #runningjoke); but full credit to Aditya Roy Kapoor, who’s taken to the role of a dil-phenk Lucknawi nawaab of the streets, like Deepika has taken to an anti-TOI activist (#snarky #sorryDeepu). To be honest, I really didn’t know Kapoor can act so well, but he’s immensely likeable in this, and makes one thing clear: he belongs among the leads, and he’s here to stay.

Karan Wahi, in the small role he has, is very, very sweet and, pardon my French, cute, and does a super job of making us like him. I really want to see what Kapoor and Wahi do next; their charm is a healthy thing in an industry that needs more of them else Saif Ali Khan will NEVER STOP playing romcom roles. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? And once again: Anupam Kher!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, what an actor!!!!!!! What a star!!!!!!!!! He owns every frame of what he does!!

The only thing that got my goat a little bit were the badly placed songs, and well, the fact that it had very little plot, but when did things like plot ever come in the way of an enjoyable film, right? I would totally recommend the film: it’s such a great family film after such a long, long time. Light, breezy and very entertaining. And the best part: while being all this, it also makes such a fantastic point about a social evil dowry (so very Rajkumar Hirani-esque, yay). So basically: Habib Faisal roxxxx!

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Note: This article first was first put up on Facebook on September 19, 2014. Link: http://goo.gl/Uk51lH

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Finding Fanny: Because Deepika Padukone #Review

By Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon). Original article: http://goo.gl/uHBVTN

To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to Finding Fanny because it looked damn pretentious and it was made by Illuminati Films [*read Edit*] who are most famous for getting fantastic directors to make the shittiest movie of their careers. For example, Sriram Raghavan’s Agent Vinod, Homi Adjania’s Cocktail, and Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal, which wasn’t as bad as the rest, but whose second half is as random as casting Vir Das for two dance numbers. And when they made one great film *finally*, Go Goa Gone, they went on record to say that they’ll never be making a film like this, because it lost them money, and also probably because it doesn’t suit their filmography that comprises of shitty films. But, ultimately I went for it, because Deepika Padukone.

To my surprise, the film turned out to be a sweet, pleasant film that had some mad funny scenes and some outstanding acting by the greats: Pankaj Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah and Dimple Kapadia. And Deepika Padukone. What the film lacks so spectacularly in plot, it makes up through some genuinely funny Pankaj Kapur moments and some genuinely heartfelt Naseeruddin Shah moments and some genuinely over the top Dimple Kapadia moments. It also stars Anand Tiwari in a hilarious cameo; I think Anand Tiwari is one of the best actors today, and he pretty much stole every scene he was in. Also Deepika Padukone.

Of course, the film is pretentious and laboured quirky at many places, like the whole ‘random Russian dude in Goa’ angle, and the enormously dull, boring, bland, uninteresting, badly written, pointless and *insert own adjective* Deepika Padukone-Arjun Kapoor love story that was forced into the film because casting the two stars was the only way that people would come to watch it. On a side note, I’m now beginning to worry that Arjun Kapoor’s entire range of emotions is limited to looking like a dying puppy, or maybe Homi didn’t care because Deepika Padukone.

At just 1 hours and 40 minutes, the film is a breezy one time watch, so it’s not going to kill you, although it won’t make you stronger either (sorry, bad joke). But you really *should* watch it to see our film legends in roles that they’re really having the time of their lives in. Also did I mention Deepika Padukone?

P.S. Still not sure the delight of Finding Fanny was worth the pain and anguish of suffering Cocktail. (*dramatic pause*) Nope, it wasn’t. Nothing ever will be. But then again, Deepika Padukone.

[Edit: Turns out its not Illuminati who made this but Dinesh Vijan, which explains to me that it’s basically Saif who’s screwing up all their films. Which makes even more sense because he worked with Tigmanshu Dhulia for Bullett Raja and that was Tigmanshu’s worst film. So SAIF IS THE CULPRIT]

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Note: This article first was first put up on Facebook on September 14, 2014. Link: http://goo.gl/uHBVTN

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