Lakshmi- Undoubtedly the bravest film you will watch this year!


It takes serious guts to even think of attempting a film like Lakshmi, let alone make it. And this is why I have developed a new found respect for Nagesh Kukunoor. The man who seemed to have lost his way in the last few years, returns with a film which I assure will knock the socks off you. A story of a 14 year old girl doomed to a life of flesh trade and her triumphant emergence amidst the debris is the stuff legends are made of. And for that very reson alone, Lakshmi is a legendary film.
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The film narrates the journey of 14 year old Lakshmi (Monali Thakur in top form in her debut) who is sold by her father into a life you wouldn’t wish for your worst enemy. Chinna (Nagesh Kukunoor) who is the devil incarnate himself is the man who buys her along with few other girls. He is the younger brother of a politician (Satish Kaushik in form after years) who runs a brothel in the garb of a ladies hostel. The film displays in graphic detail Lakshmi’s transformation from a child woman to a prostitute. She finds solace in the brothel headmistress (Shefali Shah in a terrific role) and her roommate who understand her pain. As she gets used to the life of a sex worker, she never really lets go her ambition to break free and when a NGO guy comes to the rescue of her and other brothel girls, it is only Lakshmi who stands up for a fight. And along with her lawyer (Ram Kapoor in a terrific cameo), Lakshmi shows the world that its not the age which matters, it’s the mileage.
The gut wrenching story of Lakshmi which is supposedly a true story has been narrated in a o holds barred manner by Nagesh Kukunoor which makes it such a riveting watch. And the performances he extracts out of his star cast is just fantastic. In fact it wouldn’t be erroneous to say that this is the finest cast ensemble we have seen in a film this year. And the production design which adds to the agony is top-notch. The grime, the filth of a brothel has been duly replicated. And the music by Tapas Relia is strength of the film. Never really interfering and just flowing with the film, the songs leave an indelible impression. Nagesh Kukunoor manages to do the double whammy here. His acting is incredible in the film. To transform from the soft spoken director we know of to the monster he portrays in the film is insanely good. But it is Monali Thakur who takes your breath away as the titular Lakshmi. If it was her voice which won me over in chartbusters like Sawaar Loon and Zara Zara Touch me, its her acting which I have fallen for this time.
Lakshmi is a film which should be made a mandatory watch. It’s a film with a heart and soul and most importantly, it doesn’t shy away from calling a spade a spade. This is cinema in its truest sense.

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Ragini MMS 2- All Sun-Sunny…..Nothing Else really!!


The film starts with the original Ragini scratching walls before you are treated to the opening credits which don’t just roll out, but literally blare out of the screen. You need to watch it to understand what I mean. The film then moves to a film launch which is the launch of Ragini MMS (yes film within a film again). And there in sways our Baby Doll in gay abandon. Sunny Leone scorches the screen in that one song and then heaves and thrusts throughout the rest of the film. Parveen Dabbas plays Rocks, a director hell bent on making a Horrex film ( a combination of Horrer and Sex) and takes a motley bunch to the same place where Ragini MMS actually happened. For company he has Sandhya Mridul playing naughty at forty, Anita Hassnandani playing boho at forty and a TV actor who hams to the hilt and a scriptwriter who has nothing to do apart from making a puppy face whenever Sunny is within 100 mts around him. And thus begins the madness. Divya Dutta joins the fun as a psychiatrist trying to solve the puzzle behind Ragini’s looniness. Sunny Leone is in various stages of undress throughout the film. And she is so bloody hot that even the ghost doesn’t bother to join the party. Loosely inspired from The Conjuring, this is what I would call a perfect disaster film. But Alas, with a chartbuster soundtrack, this film is all set to make merry at the box office.
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As for the performances, this is Sunny Leone’s best performance and considering she is 175 films old (which includes 2 Hindi films) doesn’t say much. But I must say I enjoyed 1 particular scene in the film. It is when Sunny transforms to her true self and moans her way to glory. She excels in that scene and that apart, the film is as dumb as it can ever get. The climax which was supposed to be Sunny’s acting breakout moment or so she claimed is as weird as the rest of the film. And a film which claims to be a horrex, even the horror and the sexual bits are just for tease. And what’s more, the success of this film ensures we will have to endure a third part. Now that is SCARY!

BewaKoofiyan – Thoda Stupid, Thoda Fun…Poora Dil-Logical!!!!!!


Imagine a film where Sonam Kapoor gets to wear her choicest outfits and reaffirm her status as a reigning fashionista? That is Bewakoofiyan. Imagine a film where Rishi Kapoor once again steals the show. That is Bewakoofiyan. And imagine a film where Ayushman Khurana gets to play the cool Punjabi munda again. That is Bewakoofiyan. As the tagline goes- Pyaar mein thoda stupid. This film is actually way stupider than you can imagine. But its an incredibly goofy film and with a charismatic bunch of actors leading the show, you end up enjoying the show. Special credit to Habib Faisal for injecting humor into a topic which is serious,oops make that very serious. Recession is something which is enough to knock the wind out of any corporate employee, so to build a story upon that and layer it with dollops of satire does deserve brownie points.

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The story is about Mohit Chadha (Ayushman) who from being promoted as a Senior Executive turns unemployed in a matter of days and from there on, the cat and mouse game begins between Rishi and Ayushman. Sonam plays the ideal foil to the two men and the rich successful corporate woman role seems made for her. The fluffy dialogues and the vibrant cinematography keeps you interested and you enjoy while it lasts.

Ayushman Khurana who is 3 films old now displays a terrific growth since his last film role (Nautanki Saala) and ably stands up to Rishi Kapoor. Sonam like always is cuteness personified and giggles through her part with amazing chutzpah. The music unlike the previous Raghu Dixit- Nupur Asthana combo (Mujhse Fraandship Karoge) isnt as fresh but a couple of songs are dancy and hummable.

Lastly, Nupur Asthana in her second film shows her appetite for handling romcoms if given a chance and emerges triumphant with her second venture. This one can be watched if you have nothing else to do. Unless you love the Ramsays too much.

Rating- 3/5

Gulaab Gang- Same old melodrama in the garb of women empowerment!!!!


When two of your childhood favorites join hands for a film, you are bound to be excited. So Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla facing off each other came across as a delicious concept on paper. But what unfolds on screen is cinema which is so tripe that you really wish they shouldn’t have come together at all. After all, transforming the Dhak Dhak girl into a Thak Thak girl isnt all that exciting and trying to give Juhi Chawla a rebirth by stripping away all the bubblyness out of her is also a trick which falls flat.

The story is about Rajjo Devi and how she has a one stop solution to every problem in the village. In the badlands, she firmly believes that Rod is God and wields it every time she gets a chance. Half an hour into the film, we are introduced to Madamji, a politician so evil that she spends all her screen time plotting and scheming. Thus begins a war of one up man (oops woman)ship which culminates on the day of Holi in a bloody battle which leaves everyone with a favorable result. The politician meets her desired end, the social crusader embraces her desired end and along the way, Gulaab Gang loses two of its feisty members all in the name of politics.

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The film reeks of been there seen that feel and apart from the gang of women in pink saris who beat the hell out of men twice their size, there is nothing  in terms of novelty. The songs pop up at odd junctures but most of them are of the fast forward variety and instead of providing relief from the action, they end up boring you further. I believe the director’s design to fill in as a music composer as well hampered the quality.

Director Soumik Sen makes a confident and assured debut but alas, the film runs out of gas in the first half an hour itself and everything after that is a repetition. Timing this film as a woman’s day release was a good idea but there is nothing about empowering women here. When compared to the glorious ‘Queen’, Gulaab Gang falls flat.

The only saving grace are the performances of Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla who seriously attempt to offer bang for your buck but with such a convulated screenplay there is only this much they could do. This gang is going nowhere.

Rating- 2/5

Queen- You have to leave this film with a smile on your face, its that infectious!!!!!!


Vikas Bahl who is 1/4th of the Phantom group boasting of names such as Anurag Kashyap, Vikram Motwane and Madhu Mantena has done us a favor. The man who co directed Chillar party years back has introduced us to an actress who before this was stuck doing roles which either had her playing a melancholic character or an arm candy to a established hero. Vikas offers us Kangana Ranaut  in her purest, demure-est form and gives us a film which we root for from start to end.

Queen doesn’t boast of a novel story, it doesn’t even boast of never before seen sequences. But it exudes a certain warmth which is hard to ignore. On the lines of English Vinglish, Queen is a tale told straight from the heart and you can actually feel what Rani (Kangana) feels during the film. And in that lies the director’s victory.

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The story kicks off in saddi dilli where in our Rani is excited about her marriage which is 2 days away before her fiancee rejects us. Heartbroken, she decides to go on her honeymoon alone and grows up in the process. Meeting Vijaylakshmi (Lisa Haydon in a fabulous performance) in Paris and running into 3 boys with whom she shares her room in Amsterdam teaches Rani the true value and meaning of life. And that leads us to a climax which leaves a smile plastered on your face.

Kangana Ranaut has always displayed a spark in whatever roles she has done, but the directors have always straddled her with edgy characters. But this time, she seizes the moment and delivers a performance which I am guessing will stay on to be the best of the year unless she overdoes herself with Revolver Rani. Rajkumar rao offers able support as her fiancee Vijay, but doesn’t get much scope. The cinematography by the late Bobby Singh is eye popping and the music by Amit Trivedi is foot tapping awesome.

But it is Kangana, Kangana and Kangana who bowls you over. This woman’s day witness the birth of a Queen. What the hell, just go and watch Queen. You bloody well need a good film and this film needs an audience.

Rating- 4.5/5

300: Rise of an Empire – A Spectacularly shot bloody orgy which left me with a WAR-gasm….


8 years after Zack Snyder gave us 300, that epic war film set to stylized war music, we have been drooling for an encore. His attempts to match up to 300 with a feeble ‘Watchmen’ and a horrendous ‘Sucker Punch’ failed before he resurrected himself with a Nolanesque Superman movie. With his head up now, he entrusts the reigns of the prequel to 300 to a relatively new director by the name of Noam Murro. And boy, he doesn’t disappoint. He gives us a film high on style, high on action and thunderous slo mos which actually are insane fun in 3D. You actually feel in the middle of a video game.

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Speaking of the plot, the film goes back in time and sets up the story about how Xerxes became a god king and what led Spartans to launch into an epic battle with 300 men and ends with the defeat of Persians and start of a new empire- The Greek empire. The story although not convincing is believable and the cat and mouse game between the Persian commander of war Artemisia and Greek Themistokles is delicious to watch and Eva Green really lends gravitas to her part of the Greek hating general.

But what really did it for me was the non stop war sequences and the raw aggresion which has made 300 such a cult film. Watching all that after so many years was thrilling and super fun.And I must say this is actually the first 3D film which I have enjoyed watching on screen.  And for all those asking, Yes the film is gorgeously shot but written by a strawhead, so any comparisons to 300 shoulkd end right here.

Eva Green is not the hero of ’300: Rise of an Empire,’ but she’s certainly the star. The other actors hardly even register.  Lena Headley shows up for a few minutes as Queen Gorgo again, but it doesn’t register next to Eva. ‘Rise of an Empire’ isn’t exactly a sequel – it’s a sidequel. It tells the story of a different Persian assault on Greece. As Xerxes (the giant bald dude in chains from the original) is attacking Leonidas at the Hot Gates, Eva Green’s Artemisia is leading a naval assault. The movie begins right where the first one ended, then jumps back to before it started, then runs concurrent for a bit.

All in all, 100 minutes of fun you seek and 300: Rise of an Empire promises just that.

Rating-3/5

 

Shaadi ke Side Effects- Talking of side effects, watching this lousy film left me thoroughly bored!!!!


When you manage to cast two of the finest actors around, you believe your job is done. When you manage to get like 3-4 chart-buster songs in your films, you believe you have cracked it. And especially when you have taken 7 years to write a fitting follow up to your spicy first film, you know you have a winner on your hands. How then can you mess it all up? Well, Shaadi ke Side Effects offers to answer this question. A lot has changed in Bollywood since Saket Chaudhry gave us Pyaar Ke Side Effects. Mallika Sherawat has become past tense. Rahul Bose only does niche films. And many other things have changed. But what has not changed is the winning formula. You make a good film and success would follow you for sure.

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My problem with Shaadi ke Side Effects is not that its a bad film. My issue is that the film reeks of the episodic daily soap feel which has already been milked to death by one of the film’s producers-Balaji. So why then do you cast two sparkling actors and straddle them with roles which are so one note that I am sure even Farhan and Vidya must be wondering half way through the film that what have they got into.

The film by the way is the story of Sid and Trisha who are happily married and their lives are going along just fine, till they are blessed with a bay girl. All hell breaks loose and how the couple reacts to a new addition in the family and what sacrifices they make forms the crux of the story.

The film looks good throughout and the songs whenever they do pop up act as a sort of relief from the monotony. But then it is the performances of Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan which you take back home. Both the actors have pretty much conquered the awards stage recently. Farhan doing it this year and Vidya doing it last year and the year before. The music by Pritam is as usual peppy but it is Saket Choudhry who leaves a lot to be desired. From the director of Pyaar ke Side Effects and the screenwriter of Asoka, I certainly expected a better film. I don’t know whether it was the pressure to succumb to a sequel or something else, but if this kind of work takes you seven years to execute, then I suggest making a quickie film pronto.

For the new found fans of Farhan and the growing fans of Vidya, wait for their next film. Give this one a miss and you will be glad to escape the side effects of watching this boring story unfold on screen.

Rating- 1.5/5