Subhash K Jha – BollySpice.com http://bollyspice.com The latest movies, interviews in Bollywood Mon, 25 Jul 2016 05:33:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 “Nothing Great or Grand About This Masti” – Subhash K Jha reviews Grand Masti http://bollyspice.com/nothing-great-grand-masti-subhash-k-jha-reviews-grand-masti/ Sat, 16 Jul 2016 08:00:19 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125988 Great Grand Masti Starring Ritesh Deshmukh, Vivek Obreroi, Aftab Shivdasani, Urvashi Rautela Directed by Indra Kumar Rating: 0 stars Stop right here. Veteran filmmaker Indra Kumar who never grew up—at least, his cinema didn’t—has the golden solution to the epidemic problem of rape in this country….masturbation! In a sequence that must have ranked as a highlight while scripting (I can just see the team holding their crotches and doubling up with laughter) a man stops a car in the middle of  nowhere, orders the heroes to pleasure themselves at gunpoint…not just once, but thrice….Exhausted and satiated our three protagonists protest

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Great Grand MastiGreat Grand Masti
Starring Ritesh Deshmukh, Vivek Obreroi, Aftab Shivdasani, Urvashi Rautela
Directed by Indra Kumar
Rating: 0 stars

Stop right here. Veteran filmmaker Indra Kumar who never grew up—at least, his cinema didn’t—has the golden solution to the epidemic problem of rape in this country….masturbation!

In a sequence that must have ranked as a highlight while scripting (I can just see the team holding their crotches and doubling up with laughter) a man stops a car in the middle of  nowhere, orders the heroes to pleasure themselves at gunpoint…not just once, but thrice….Exhausted and satiated our three protagonists protest at the very thought of any more self-service.

Satisfied the man with the gun shouts for his daughter. “You can get in the car with them now. They will drive you to the next village without harming you.”

Women, we can assume, are safe as long as men use their hands for more than a handshake. But who is going to save mankind from a catastrophe like Great Grand Masti? A joke so poor and a comedy so feeble it makes us reach out for a helpline targeted at distressed movie audiences.

The infantile ‘jokes’ are largely aimed at the penis. Most of the film is set in a haunted haveli with an oomphy ghost performing a series of item songs.

As they say, if life doesn’t kill you, Bollywood’s concept of sexy will. The writers seem to derive much pleasure from talking about the erect male reproductive organ in various positions and strategies. Women heaving bosoms in space-challenged blouses are meant to be funny and erotic. Jokes Sunny Leone (pronounced with a silent ‘e’ by all the characters) rub shoulders with digs at Sunny Deol.

Early in the film a woman visits Dr Ritesh Deshmukh (yes, he actually has a job beyond ogling and self-pleasuring) with her husband who has been bitten by a bee in his genitals.

“Doc, could you do something so that the swelling remains?” she bats her eyelids coyly. Deshmukh looks stricken and swallows hard.

Maybe he is thinking of what his children would think when they are old enough to watch the Masti series.

(Can children disown their fathers?)

Great Grand Masti has strangely been certified by the censor board for ‘Adults Only’. It’s one of the most infantile sex comedies in the hoary history of the genre in Indian cinema. The witless gags make you gag. The three heroes are at their best, horny imbeciles. At their worst (which occurs with annoying frequency) they are psychologically challenged dimwits whose mental faculties have not been able to grow in tandem with their  libidos.

These guys think with their penises.

As is the “tradition” in the Masti series the three heroes get no sex from their wives, for reasons that are so silly and embarrassing they make you cringe at the though-processes that have gone into the scripting. In one sequence Aftab Shivdasani’s screen sister-in-law gets into bed with him and swears she saw a mouse in the bed.

Rat gayi, baat gayi.

The trio of horny brainless heroes move into an abandoned haveli where a sex-starved ghost (Urvashi Rautela, hugely, massively, voluptuously inspired by Rekha) chases them down to their boxer shorts. And then some more.

Grow up, guys. The world has moved on since Indra Kumar made the first Masti movie 12 years ago. Youngsters, not even pubescent kids are scandalized by penis and vagina talk. Bananas and hotdogs do not serve as substitutes for the phallus even in the whispered conversations of 11-year olds.

I suggest Induji watch music video for the webseries Pappu Aur Papa where a little 7-year old boy asks his father about condoms, homosexuality and masturbation.

Great Great Masti is stuck in  a time-warp. Innuendos, comparing penises to bananas and referring to pubic hair as jhaad(bush), are no longer cool even in school back-benches. Shockingly the female actors are shown to participate in scenes where woman’s body parts are likened to plots of land and real estate.

Funny, how we vent so much time energy and ire on Salman Khan for comparing wrestling to rape when the actual misogyny and smut are to be found in Bollywood ‘sex comedies’. Great Grand Masti is as sexy as  watching two porcupines mating in the zoo. The people on screen may have fun. We will pass. Thank you.

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“Sultan is staggeringly engaging, remarkably rugged and unexpectedly romantic” Subhash K Jha Review http://bollyspice.com/salman-raging-bull-act-blockbuster/ Wed, 06 Jul 2016 14:15:52 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125750 Sultan Starring Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar Nope, you can’t touch this. Salman Khan’s superstardom is beyond the precincts of rationale or logic. To his credit he is now finally surrendering to his characters. After last year’s Eid’s heartwarming Bajrangi Bhaijaan act, this festive season Salman pushes himself physically and emotionally to a new level of commitment in Sultan. Playing the goodhearted solidly dependable Haryanvi wrestler Salman brings a kind of feisty vulnerability along with a spiritual certainty to his instantly likeable character. He is no longer interested in being Salman Khan on screen. The physical

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sultanPosterNewSultan
Starring Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma
Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar

Nope, you can’t touch this. Salman Khan’s superstardom is beyond the precincts of rationale or logic. To his credit he is now finally surrendering to his characters. After last year’s Eid’s heartwarming Bajrangi Bhaijaan act, this festive season Salman pushes himself physically and emotionally to a new level of commitment in Sultan.

Playing the goodhearted solidly dependable Haryanvi wrestler Salman brings a kind of feisty vulnerability along with a spiritual certainty to his instantly likeable character. He is no longer interested in being Salman Khan on screen. The physical and emotional transformation is so palpable and authentic as to remind us of what Robert de Niro achieved in and outside the boxing ring in Martin Scorcese’s Raging Bull.

Salman’s accent is pitch-perfect. And that’s where the performance begins. While the actor takes himself dead seriously, the film is remarkably light-hearted and free-spirited even though the underlining message—sometimes to be a true hero you’ve got to fall hard on the ground before you pick yourself up again—is never squandered in the outward frivolity that grips the narrative as, for long stretches, Salman plays the super-smitten lover-boy who can’t get enough of the plucky Aarfa (Anushka Sharma).

Though their scenes of courtship and romance are unnecessarily stretched-out and over-cute, the pair works largely because Anushka is the first Salman co-star who doesn’t seem overwhelmed by his presence. Yup, she gives him tit for tat, wit for wack, with such nifty nonchalance that we are soon rooting for them as a couple.

This is a funny engaging and satisfying film brimming with many moments of joie de vivre. The wrestling sequences, done with a choreographic candour, are outstanding. Salman slams his opponents with such intensity that you wonder if the ricocheting ruckus in the wrestling ring is a metaphor for the what this film is sure to do at the boxoffice.

All said and done, Sultan is a love story first, then a sports film. Director Ali Abbas Zafar doesn’t distill the drama with interpolations. Though lengthy, the characters never lose their plot. They are written into a tightly edited pastiche of pain and pleasure unleashed with honesty and charm.

The film is shot by Artur Zurawski with the stress on capturing the glory and grandeur of the sport only in the context of the protagonist’s emotions. Nothing in Sultan stands out. It all blends in and merges into the very impressive larger picture.

Staggeringly engaging, remarkably rugged and unexpectedly romantic Sultan is every bit the comprehensive blockbuster it promised to be. Watching the accomplished storytelling and the deft characterizations in Sultan it is hard to believe that this work comes from the director of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday.

Quite a dizzying climb!

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Raman Raghav 2.0 Review: “Nawaz, Vicky Make A Chilling Statement On Pure Evil” – Subhash K Jha http://bollyspice.com/raman-raghav-2-0-reviewnawaz-vicky-make-chilling-statement-pure-evil-subhash-k-jha/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 16:17:34 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125260 Raman Raghav 2.0 Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal Directed Anurag Kashyap There is something chillingly final and fearsome about the complete ruination of the moral order in Raman Raghav 2.0. 400 years ago Shakespeare realized there was a rotten core to civilization. Anurag Kashyap is the Bard’s most unlikely disciple. Portraying a world that is irreversibly stripped of a moral centre Kashyap creates a grim bleak repugnant but brilliant picture of Mumbai’s underbelly where rats and pavement dwellers share the same sleeping space. There is no hero in Raman Raghav. We saw it coming. We’ve seen the rapid evaporation of

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ramanraghavreviewRaman Raghav 2.0
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal
Directed Anurag Kashyap

There is something chillingly final and fearsome about the complete ruination of the moral order in Raman Raghav 2.0.

400 years ago Shakespeare realized there was a rotten core to civilization. Anurag Kashyap is the Bard’s most unlikely disciple. Portraying a world that is irreversibly stripped of a moral centre Kashyap creates a grim bleak repugnant but brilliant picture of Mumbai’s underbelly where rats and pavement dwellers share the same sleeping space.

There is no hero in Raman Raghav. We saw it coming. We’ve seen the rapid evaporation of heroism from the cinema of Kashyap, to the point where now, in his latest and arguably his most accomplished work, Raman and Raghav, as played with virile adeptness by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vickey Kaushal are the two faces of red-hot diabolism.

You see, they both kill for pleasure. No, make that one for pleasure. The other for furious vindication for crimes committed against his selfworth. The difference is, one of them does so in khaki.The other roams about with an iron rod in hand smashing all signposts of a moral order that we grew up watching in our films.Be warned. Scenes showing Nawaz prowling the streets of Mumbai for prey will send a shiver up your spine.

The comfort of knowing that all will be well in our universe no matter how bleak the prospects, is completely snatched away in Raman Raghav. What we are left staring at is the total disintegration of a moral order. The numbness of desensitization whereby one human being can take another human being’s life without remorse is here treated with a brutal and damning directness. There are no signs of goodness in the two main characters.After a while it’s hard to tell the difference between the two main characters, much harder than it was in Badlapur the film whose morality was a precursor to Raman Raghav.

Watch Vicky Kaushal f..k his girlfriend, it’s not love-making it’s hate-making. Or watch Nawaz in the chilling scene where he is taunted by a stranger for wearing ear rings. His retort about his true identity is so lethally ironic it scares the hell out of us to watch his lunacy being legitimized by a social order that fosters inequality.

That Nawaz and Vickey play the two characters with a fiendish flair and a bludgeoning naturalness which dares us to be judgmental at our own risk, is entirely providential. I can’t imagine any other two actors playing Raman, the psychopathic serial killer, and Raghavan the cocaine-addicted psychopathic cop who kills at the beginning of the film and then slays more lives, and destroys our faith in the moral order that we believed in until….well, until Anurag Kashyap came along.

Raman Raghav is a chilling exposition on evil. From the outset we are told that ‘Raman’ and ‘Raghav’ are the two faces of the same impulse of depravity. There is no attempt to hide the fact that Raghav(Vicky Kaushal) functions with the same unlawful insouciance as Raman(Nawaz) although one wears khaki and the other doesn’t hide behind the disguise of civility to commit gruesome crimes.

There are scenes of graphic torture. Women and children are not spared from the looming shadows of evil that lurks in the chawls and bylanes of Mumbai’s suburbia. Kashyap’s cinematographer Jay Oza roams restlessly acrossthe streets looking for its prey. The camera becomes Raman’s greatest ally as he hurls across Mumbai’s wounded skyline in search of blood .
This, let me add without playing the spoilsport, is not the story of Raghav Raman the real-life serial killer in the 1960s but of a fictional character inspired by the real Raghav. Here’s where Kashyap and his co-writer Vasan Bala bring in the ‘morality of amorality’(to coin a phrase) where the absence of a moral order becomes a moral order of its own.

It’s impossible to imagine any actor except Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the shockingly unrepentant serial killer with such flippant relish. The casualness with which Nawaz attacks his victims and bludgeons them with an iron rod is the stuff that crime psychology would probably study closely in the coming years to detect signs of criminality in the actor. Nawaz bridges the chasm between actor and character to a level where the two almost become one.This is the most convincing and disturbing portrait of evil I’ve seen in cinema of any language.

Vicky Kaushal has the trickier part. He must extend into his character its natural-born criminal tendency (born, we are told, from a bullying father) and also be shown functional within the precincts of a law. He is shown to be violent cocaine –snorting psycho(if Tommy Singh in Udta Punjab wore a uniform.…) and also brutal in bed with his girlfriend(played with the right tinge of stubborn defiance by newcomer Sobhita Dhulipala). In short, a complete asshole. Vicky’s inexperience as an actor does hamper the full flow of trashiness into the character. But this is the actor to watch in the coming years.

Unbearably violent at times(the section where Nawaz tortures and slays his sister’s family is definitely not for the weak-hearted) and savagely cruel at all times Raman Raghav portrays a landscape so devoid of charm warmth and sunshine that you come away sickened by the experience.

But then who said life is easy? This is film that doesn’t flinch from the fearful ugliness of existence. It’s also a brutal and haunting reminder of how rapidly the lines dividing the law-makers and law-breakers are disappearing. ‘Raman’ and ‘Raghav’ are no longer the archetypal Villain and Hero that we sought in our cinema for moral comfort. They are now the best of friends and our worst of enemies.

Live with it.

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Junooniyat Is The Stupidest Love Story Of The Decade – A Subhash K Jha review http://bollyspice.com/junooniyat-stupidest-love-story-decade-subhash-k-jha-review/ Sun, 26 Jun 2016 06:00:22 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=125209 Starring Pulkit Samrat, Yami Gautam Now get this. Junooniyat is directed by Vivek Agnihotri, whose last film was the political backfire Buddha In A Traffic Jam. And this film, which could be re-christened ‘Screenplay In A Traffic Jam’, stars Pulkit (Salman Khan) Samrat with Yami (Vicky Donor) Gautam who were last seen as couple three months ago in Sanam Re. Temptation, as they say, comes in many forms. If you still find the prospect of seeing Junooniyat tempting then go right ahead. You only have yourself to blame for what lies in store. If Mills & Boon were a Bollywood

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16jun_JunooniyatStarring Pulkit Samrat, Yami Gautam

Now get this. Junooniyat is directed by Vivek Agnihotri, whose last film was the political backfire Buddha In A Traffic Jam. And this film, which could be re-christened ‘Screenplay In A Traffic Jam’, stars Pulkit (Salman Khan) Samrat with Yami (Vicky Donor) Gautam who were last seen as couple three months ago in Sanam Re.

Temptation, as they say, comes in many forms.

If you still find the prospect of seeing Junooniyat tempting then go right ahead. You only have yourself to blame for what lies in store. If Mills & Boon were a Bollywood franchise Junooniyat could be the masthead for the sections devoted to morons. The lovelorn tale is one stretched-out he-loves-me-she-loves-me-not yarn-fest based on absurd coincidences that make no sense in this era of instant communication when every misunderstanding between lovers can be cleared with just one click of a phone.

So sample this. The annoyingly screechy and energetic Suhani (Yami Gautam playing a dumbed-down version of Kareena in Jab We Met) loses the love of her life because he, the love of Suhani’s life, is Jahaan, an army man. Suhani’s annoyingly ‘Punjabi’ family (think Geet, think Jab We Met) has lost many men to the army, so she can’t marry a jawaan.

Instead of arguing with her family that so many people die in road accidents and it doesn’t mean you don’t marry a man who drives a car, Suhani runs to the love of her life and, in a stiffly staged railway-station sequence, says, “Choose between me and the army.”

Jahaan chooses wisely. Some time later she runs back to Kashmir to Jahaan and sees him with another woman and presumes he is engaged elsewhere.

Ek baar puch toh liya hota, yaar! But no. This is cinema from the 1990s when communication meant death for the screenplay. Littered with the most ludicrous twists and turns that lead to an absolutely sloppy schmaltzy and predictable finale, Junooniyat has got to be the most fatuous romantic saga on this side of Deedar-e-Yaar.

It just makes you grateful for breakups conducted on WhatsApp.

While Yami Gautam’s bubbly act gets on your nervous, Pulkit Samrat is not bad. His attempts to lend gravitas to a role that’s written with as much fastidiousness as graffiti on toilet wall, is commendable.
Poor Samrat has to struggle against lines like, “Is he a tall army man?” (uttered amidst giggles by poor Hrishita Bhatt playing Yami’s cousin-friend) when in fact the actor is not quite Amitabh Bachchan in height.

Thriving purely on corny lines and brainless situations the one bright spot in Junooniyat is Attar Singh Saini’s camerawork which captures the pristine snowpeaks of Kashmir with a care that is not evident in any other component that constitutes this excruciatingly trite and indifferent love story.

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“Udta Punjab Is The Most Original And Jolting Film Since Rang De Basanti” – Subhash K Jha http://bollyspice.com/udta-punjab-original-jolting-film-since-rang-de-basanti-subhash-k-jha/ Sat, 18 Jun 2016 07:32:52 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124891 Udta Punjab Starring Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh Directed by Abhishek Choubey Who thinks of such a story to tell?! Only a mind that is either supremely screwed-up or stunningly sorted. In director Abhishek Choubey’s case, I’d go with the latter. Udta Punjab is a work of contemporary art so audaciously unprecedented in its vision and execution of a subject that is topical and timeless, you wonder if Bollywood, as we love and hate it, is finally growing up. On the other hand lest we forget, filmmakers in the past like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and

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udtapunjabposters4Udta Punjab
Starring Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh
Directed by Abhishek Choubey

Who thinks of such a story to tell?! Only a mind that is either supremely screwed-up or stunningly sorted. In director Abhishek Choubey’s case, I’d go with the latter.

Udta Punjab is a work of contemporary art so audaciously unprecedented in its vision and execution of a subject that is topical and timeless, you wonder if Bollywood, as we love and hate it, is finally growing up.

On the other hand lest we forget, filmmakers in the past like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Gulzar constantly prodded and pushed mainstream Hindi cinema into areas of darkness, not fearful of the unlit interiors of the human heart.

Abhishek Choubey takes this forward to an altogether new high, the politically empowered human drama of Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen (the migrant’s plight in the city,as played out by Alia Bhatt’s character) and Gulzar’s Maachis (Punjab, bloodied battered and wounded, not more romanticized).

I use the term ‘high’ quite deliberately. At least one of the film’s four protagonists, the subversive rock star Tommy Singh is zonked out of his mind most of the time. So is the hauntingly persecuted Bihari migrant Pinky, the reluctant drug addict pumping her veins with dubious drugs to numb herself against constant violation.

Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt are born again as they play the two traumatized characters (at one point he stares at his ravaged reflection in a toilet bowl, she bawls her messed-up head into a well) journeying from the opposite directions of the moral scale. And yet their pained lives converge at one point in a strange unexpected and life-changing encounter. Both actors bleed brilliancy into their roles, bringing to the screen an electrifying authenticity with their sheer understanding of the complexities that define the drug politics of Punjab.

No actor in Udta Punjab plays his or her part in isolation. Everyone contributes persuasively and comprehensively to the director’s grand design whereby “reality” is transmuted into a kind of cinematic language which we have never experienced before. And I don’t mean the profane dialogues, of which there is no dearth. Sure, the characters barring Kareena Kapoor Khan’s doctor Preet Sahani who is immunized against the filth of moral debasement, talk dirty. Somehow their language is so much in keeping with their characters, we stop flinching to their ma-bahen fussilade 15 minutes into the film.

There is so much to appreciate in this amazing film, the unparliamentary language becomes the least of the take-aways. Specially impressive are the Punjab locations and the way they are shot and fitted in with incidental music and sounds that appear to demolish and break down the distance between the director’s vision and the audiences’ perception. Meghna Sen’s editing is razor-sharp. It allows the depraved disoriented people in Choubey’s film to open up their minds and emotions just enough for us to get a vivid glimpse into their troubled lives.

Though the playing-time clocks at 2 ½ hours, the burden of the duration is never felt by audience.

This time, the creator of the chaotic world of moral compromises takes full responsibility for his actions. Director Abhishek Choubey looks at the wound-up characters in all their emotional nakedness, staring at their exposed lived without pity anger or revulsion.

For the audience it is hard to look away from the realm of brutal self-interest built around the renegade characters. It’s specially heartbreaking to see what the script has in store of Alia Bhatt’s character. But then, this is no country for the week and infirm. Udta Punjab is not only about Punjab and its drugged youth. It is also communicates with furious fluency a far-reaching statement on our wounded civilization which thrives on inequality, injustice and exploitation.

The complete breakdown of the moral order and the subversion of law and order, are issues that govern the characters’ lives, twisting and changing their destiny in cruel ways.

Amongst all the devastation and decimation of humanism Udta Punjab gives us flash-moments of redemption and enlightenment. For the debauched rock star Tommy Singh it comes when thrown into jail for his obscene antics. There, he meets his fans, one of whom has just killed his mother when she refuses him money for drugs. The incident awakens Tommy’s conscience. He is ready for the change.

For the corrupt cop Sartaj Singh (played with persuasive sardonicism by Diljit Dosanjh) the moment of awakening comes when he meets the spiritually and well, just, literally beautiful Dr Preet Sahani. Kareena is perfectly cast in the part and so at home playing the seductive saviour-angel that when Diljit looks at her adoringly and says she is perfect, we know exactly what he means.

Two love stories, one redemptive, the other tragic, grow out of the desperate crisis in the plot, leading the screenplay through a maze of haunting and hilarious incidents that leave us exhilarated and exhausted.

Udta Punjab is replete with encounters where strangers meet and strike up a rapport that changes their lives.

Understandably this is a film that changes the audiences’ life too. No sensitive rational viewer can come away from this experience without in some way feeling transformed.

Feral Frenetic, riveting, hypnotic, hallucinogenic and altogether incredible we’ve never seen anything quite like Udta Punjab before.

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“Magical, Endearing, Charming, Heartwarming…Dhanak Is All This, And More” – Subhash K Jha Review http://bollyspice.com/magical-endearing-charming-heartwarmingdhanak-subhash-k-jha-review/ Fri, 17 Jun 2016 12:31:37 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124867 Dhanak Starring Hetal Gadda, Krish Chabria, Written & Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor With all attention on the hyper-controversial drugged drama this week, this silent killer of a gem sneaks up on us, with the minimum of fanfare and maximum impact. Dhanak is a very rare product of a breed of cinema where simplicity and intelligence come together in an unlikely marriage of excellence. The main characters are a bright little blind boy Chotu who is a brat like his idol Salman Khan, and a whiner and a drama king playing the blind card when it suits him, and his sister

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15jul_dhanakmoviereviewDhanak
Starring Hetal Gadda, Krish Chabria,
Written & Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor

With all attention on the hyper-controversial drugged drama this week, this silent killer of a gem sneaks up on us, with the minimum of fanfare and maximum impact.

Dhanak is a very rare product of a breed of cinema where simplicity and intelligence come together in an unlikely marriage of excellence. The main characters are a bright little blind boy Chotu who is a brat like his idol Salman Khan, and a whiner and a drama king playing the blind card when it suits him, and his sister Pari, wiser beyond her years, endlessly exasperated by her kid-brother’s antics but committed to being his support and anchor as they set off to meet, hold your breath, Shah Rukh Khan who is committed to restoring his eyesight.

The journey is interspersed with an endearing array of encounters with characters who appear so much part of the sandswept landscape you wonder if Kukunoor decided to include them in his young travellers’ journey just because they (the incidental characters) were around. Even the eternally buffoonish Suresh Menon puts in a deeply moving cameo as a man who has lost his family and mind.

There is an epic moment of bonding during crisis when a sudden sandstorm sweeps the two kids for shelter into a broken-down truck. Kukunoor is as comfortable drawing out emotional equations in closed spaces as he is the wide open sand dunes.

Do the siblings, on a cross-country trek through rural Rajasthan, meet Mr Khan? Let’s just say Dhanak is a far better and more worthy tribute to the stardom and aura of Shah Rukh Khan than the recent Fan which messed it up by getting the superstar-fan relationship wrong in the second-half.

Dhanak doesn’t strike one false note. It’s heartrending when it wants to be and furiously funny at will (as in the interlude at the wedding where Chotu sings, gorges on jalebis and even fixes up a match for his sister so that she doesn’t leave him after marriage). The two young protagonists played by Krish Chabria and Hetal Gada are such natural-born actors, you wonder where Kukunoor found them. The two children bring unconditional joy to the script. And they speak a language that is real vital and believable. The conversations between the 8-going-on-9 year old Chotu and his 11-year old sister ring so true, it’s like watching them without the camera in position.

As the two children set off on a cross-country journey to meet the superstar Nagesh Kukunoor’s elegant simple and lucid screenplay weaves into the plot the kind of close encounters of the thundering kind that expose the two kids to an incredibly expansive world of kindness and generosity.

Nagesh shoots Rajasthan’s desertscape with a reined-in luminosity, neither over-punctuating the topography for emotional impact nor underplaying it for the sake of counter-touristic brevity. Not since the cinema of J P Dutta has Rajasthan been shot with such skilful serenity. Chirantan Das is a poet masquerading as a cinematographer.

The film’s other commendable component is the exhilarating music score by Tapas Relia. The songs and music urge little sightless Chotu’s adventures into areas of sunshine even when the clouds loom large.

Barring one near-catastrophic encounter with kidnappers, Chotu and his protective motherly sister never come face-to-face with any serious peril. I wouldn’t say that’s a blind spot in the narrative. Good knows in a world that addresses itself to a drugged-out diabolism we need all the sunshine and positivity we can get.

Without overdoing it Dhanak offers ample doses of both.

No, you really can’t pluck holes in Nagesh Kukunoor’s enchanting excursion into the heart of innocence and salvation. This is a heartwarming ode to the dying spirit of the human and selfless compassion. Moving funny and memorable, the two child actors are miraculous.

Ditto the film.

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A Trueblue Shiver-giver – ‘Conjuring 2’ Is The Horror Sensation Of The Decade http://bollyspice.com/trueblue-shiver-giver-conjuring-2-horror-sensation-decade/ Tue, 14 Jun 2016 05:00:38 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124753 Starrring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe Directed by James Wan If only Bollywood’s horror films were not so afraid of the dark. Here is why we can never make a trueblue shiver-giver like The Conjuring. We are so obsessed with ticking off all the boxes in the Book Of Horror that we forget to focus on the actual fear of the unknown. Put in another way, the Indian horror industry is so inured in the familiar, it makes the fear of the unknown seem like a premeditated rollercoaster ride rather than a genuine exploration of the supernatural. The Conjuring

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16jun_theconjuring2Starrring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
Directed by James Wan

If only Bollywood’s horror films were not so afraid of the dark. Here is why we can never make a trueblue shiver-giver like The Conjuring. We are so obsessed with ticking off all the boxes in the Book Of Horror that we forget to focus on the actual fear of the unknown. Put in another way, the Indian horror industry is so inured in the familiar, it makes the fear of the unknown seem like a premeditated rollercoaster ride rather than a genuine exploration of the supernatural.

The Conjuring 2 is not the least interested in impressing us with its undoubtedly impressive grip over the grammar of the horror genre. There is a history to the horror here, yes. And in a truly shocking prologue we are familiarized with the previous exorcising excursion of the couple Lorraine and Ed Warren (played with a scrubbed neat conviction by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson).

With brutal yet graceful directness we are dragged into the world of the dead and the semi-dead where spirits roam with creepy casualness in homes that seem as comfortably familiar as yours and mine. Having provided a ruthless trope, the narrative effortlessly sets the stage for the couple’s next act of exorcism in a disturbingly normal London suburb lined with identical houses.

How is one to know that of them is ….brrrrr….haunted?

Director James Wan’s high-points in the plot are never accentuated. Almost no effort is put into creating banner-announcing suspense or building up to those moments where we are meant to jump out of our skins (and we do, oh yes believe me, we do!). It’s in searching for spiritual anomalies in the routine existence that Wan gives us the most chilling treatise on terror seen screen (so go ahead, scream) in the last ten years.

While the 2-hour film is designed to coil itself around our fear bones there is no dearth of warm humorous moments in the plot if we look for them.

“He has taken all the music away,” says the single mother Peggy (Frances Conner looking a tad too distraught all the time) of 4 very bright children, about her estranged husband. Taking the poignant revelation as a metaphor for the family’s lost happiness exorcist Ed Warren promises to restore happiness into the family by getting rid of ….errr, ghosts from the past.

“No, I meant he took all the records and cassettes including our favourite Elvis Presley,” replies the anguished mom used to dealing directly with four demanding children, and now an uninvited spirit in their home.

This ‘music’ exchange is an exceedingly funny moment, and the kind of tangential humour that director James Wan insinuates into the plot with devilish ingenuity. Though the fear-fest flags off in 1977 nowhere is the signpost of periodicity flashed into our flushed faces. The songs from that era like Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ and the Bee Gees’ ‘I Started A Joke’ are so naturally assimilated into the storytelling we are never allowed to feel distanced from the joy sorrow and fears of the characters.

Patches of the clenched plot are almost like scintillating spoofs on spook. And yet we never cease to be spooked…not when little possessed Janet is played with such tender sincerity by Madison Wolfe. My heart reached out to Little Ms. Wolfe in that fabulously formulated scene in the wing with Lorraine Warren where Janet talks about how isolating it is to be possessed by a demon. In her innocence and vulnerability to the diabolic attack on her person, Ms Wolfe reminded me of that other satanically possessed little girl Linda Blair in the that other milestone of the supernatural genre The Exorcist in 1973.

As Wan gets into the swing of things the brisk narrative transforms into a trot and finally into a breathless last act which is guaranteed to give the weak-bladdered a run for the loo and the cynics a run for their money.

It’s hard to say what makes The Conjuring 2 so infinitely terrifying. A primary factor in its favour is the unassuming tone of narration which yokes the horror of the humdrum into the resilient spirit of routine life. Just as the family under satanic attack refuses to be bullied by the spirit in their midst, we are never bullied into being scared.

This time the terror is on the house.

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“Te3n grips from the first frame. It is a thriller with a heart, soul and most exceptionally, a conscience. ” – Subhash K Jha Review http://bollyspice.com/bachchan-nawaz-vidya-lend-heft-te3n/ Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:35:38 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124647 Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sabyasachi Chakraborty Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta There is a moment of subdued splendour in this thriller that is both brutal and tender, where a chaprasi in a government office–you know the busybodies who offer to help when the Babus act tough?— gives our autumnal hero John Biswas some vital information. Then the chaprasi casually asks if there is petrol in John’s rickety scooter. As John parts with his only means of transportation he even helps the bureaucratic broker start the ancient vehicle. Yes, the scooter has seen better days. So has John Biswas.

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te3n posterStarring Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sabyasachi Chakraborty
Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta

There is a moment of subdued splendour in this thriller that is both brutal and tender, where a chaprasi in a government office–you know the busybodies who offer to help when the Babus act tough?— gives our autumnal hero John Biswas some vital information.

Then the chaprasi casually asks if there is petrol in John’s rickety scooter. As John parts with his only means of transportation he even helps the bureaucratic broker start the ancient vehicle.

Yes, the scooter has seen better days. So has John Biswas. There was a time when he knew joy.His grand-daughter Angela who was left to John’s care while his father went abroad. In a merciless twist of fate Angela is kidnapped for ransom and killed.

Debutant director Ribhu Dasgputa’s shimmering portrait of distant discontent is about John’s atonement, his 15-year long quest for justice (not vendetta, he stresses) and his rather unconventional method of seeking and obtaining a closure to his agonizing journey of pain hurt guilt and loss.

Curiously, this seems to be the year when Mr. Bachchan plays bereaved characters. In Wazir earlier this year he was a wheelchair-bound patriarch seeking revenge for a murdered daughter. In Te3n—the title refers to the three protagonists of this jagged jigsaw of crime and retribution- it’s his character’s wife who is in a wheelchair (how and when she got there, we are not told) while Mr Bachchan’s tries to find justice for his granddaughter’s murder.

But get this right. Mr Bachchan’s Omkar Nath Dhar in Wazir and John Biswas in Te3n are portraits of completely disparate bereavement. It’s amazing how much subtle synergy Mr. Bachchan brings to the screen while expressing inexpressible hurt and anger.

Mr. Bachchan had earlier played a Bengali patriarch in Shoojit Sircar’s Piku. But John Biswas is a completely different man. While Bhaskar Banerjee in Piku was a major tantrum thrower, John in Te3n would be highly embarrassed by Bhaskar’s behaviour. He is loath to express anger and grief even when they’ve been presiding emotions in his life for 15 years. He is obstinate and unrelenting in the quest for justice.

The most sincerely done moments in the film show the obdurate protagonist grappling with the law and redtapism. In an early sequence when Vidya Balan, playing a no-nonsense blessedly non-uniformed cop, gently admonishes John for coming to the police station every day to inquire about the 15-year old grand-daughter’s case, John quietly mumbles, “I’ve nothing else in my life.”

Te3n captures the rhythms of existential inertia in solidly written scenes and dialogues. The flawed but unvanquished characters often seem to be saying much less than they actually feel. This is a work that recommends reined-in emotions when dealing with the drama of damnation. Except for one brilliantly shot railway chase, the narrative is under no pressure to generate dramatic highs. It is content swimming gently in the tides of discontent.

The exceptional soundtrack which includes a sparsely scintillating background score by Clinton Cerejo, captures every day sounds and disruptive disturbances with no drastic shifts in the sound design.

Nawazuddin is an actor who never ceases to surprise. He is interestingly cast a cop who ‘converts’ to priesthood after a guilt-ridden incident. Nawaz is uncharacteristically quiet contemplative and calm in his performance.

This is no country for outbursts. And Vidya Balan playing an impatient cops knows it. While dealing with two child kidnappings she substitutes manifestations of a growing hysteria with a tightly-wound anxiety that is mirrored in her troubled eyes. Vidya’s is a performance far more accomplished than it seems.

Apart from Mr Bachchan, Kolkata is the presiding hero of Te3n. The run-down yet stately and dignified mansions and desperately functional apartment blocks seem to represent the protagonist’s ruined innerscape. Tushar Kanti Ray’s cinematography seems to enter spaces normally prohibited to camera lenses.

But then this is the kind of cinema that doggedly and noiselessly ignores the rules and bends the governing sentiments of popular cinema to mesh human emotions with their heightened version without sacrificing a sense of equanimity and poise.

Even when confronting their innermost demons the characters don’t scream at one another. Make sure you watch this film in a theatre with solid acoustics. You may miss some of what the whispers and murmurs are trying to say about life’s regrets and their ruinous remedies.

Te3n grips us from the first frame. It is a thriller with a heart, soul and most exceptionally, a conscience.

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Radhika does a ‘Wait Until Dark’ – Subhash K Jha reviews ‘Phobia’ http://bollyspice.com/radhika-wait-dark-subhash-k-jha-reviews-phobia/ Mon, 30 May 2016 03:00:12 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124304 Starring Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Mishra Directed by Pawan Kripalani The fear of the unknown has perpetually incited some of the most exciting cinema the worldover. Way back in 1967 Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman trapped in her own home with intruders in Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark. But what if the intruder is only in the purported victim’s mind? What if the shadows under your bed exist only in your head? It takes an abundance of guts to make a Hindi ‘Bollywood’ film (not sure if this is what Phobia aspires to be) where the main characters are a

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16may_phobia-jhaStarring Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Mishra
Directed by Pawan Kripalani

The fear of the unknown has perpetually incited some of the most exciting cinema the worldover. Way back in 1967 Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman trapped in her own home with intruders in Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark.

But what if the intruder is only in the purported victim’s mind? What if the shadows under your bed exist only in your head?

It takes an abundance of guts to make a Hindi ‘Bollywood’ film (not sure if this is what Phobia aspires to be) where the main characters are a troubled woman and her phobia. Mehak (Apte) fears getting out of her home. Luckily the actress who plays Mehak has no fear of the unknown. Radhika Apte takes charge of Mehak’s insecurities with unfaltering equilibrium.

To keep us constantly riveted to Mehak’s ordeal without resorting to the standard clichés of Bollywood horror cinema (you know, the creaking doors, crashing glass, eerie banshee sounds, ear-splitting screams…) is an accomplishment worth of a 24-gun salute. Take a bow, Mr Kripalani.

Then there is Radhika Apte. So much in control of Mehak’s uncontrollable paranoia, I forgot this was a character being played by an actor, and a very fine one at that. This is as good a time as any to state that Radhika Apte is better at baring a troubled woman’s uncertainties and fears than any other contemporary actress.

What Radhika does with her character Mehak’s fears is to make them palpable and immediate without resorting to any extraneous mannerisms of terror and dread associated with the horror genre. No widening of the eyes, biting of the lips, screaming and ranting. Very often the director (God bless his diabolic plans) shrouds Apte’s traumatized inner world with a deathly silence, so that we are watching just the woman and her terror, fully naked …and stark.

Eerie is the word.

I remember Urmila Matondkar when she was left alone in a house with her fears and phobias in Ram Gopal Varma’s Kaun. Urmila was all over the place with her screams and gesticulations. Apte goes the other way. She gives us no external clues to her character’s state of mind. Instead she enters Mehak’s world and invites us in….Radhika Apte takes us through Mehak’s journey into her fears, when we know she cannot be completely trusted. She has exceptional support from the very talented and criminally under-used Satyadeep Mishra as her friend trying to grope his way through her darkness. Mishra creates a specific space for his character in spite of the cramped claustrophobic walls that Apte’s character builds around her existence.

The protagonist’s other ally is Jayakrishna Gummadi’s camera which swirls around Mehak’s insecurities vigilantly but unobtrusively. The technique applied to the tale of nameless terror is so subtle and sharp, we never notice it.

Phobia constantly veers the narration into slippery grounds, not to confuse or mislead but to imbue an aura of intangible anxiety in the viewer. Director Kripalani uses contextual terror rather than generating fear accessoried sources.For years we’ve wondered why the horror genre in Hollywood has not broken free of its amateurishness.

Wonder no more. Take a trip of bonafide terror and witness the birth of a new psychological disorder.

Apte-phobia.

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The Return Of Ram Gopal Varma – Subhash K Jha reviews ‘Veerappan’ http://bollyspice.com/return-ram-gopal-varma-subhash-k-jha-reviews-veerappan/ Sun, 29 May 2016 03:00:13 +0000 http://bollyspice.com/?p=124290 Starring Sachiin Joshi,Sandeep Bhardwaj, Usha Jadhav, Lisa Ray Directed by Ram Gopal Varma There is something about Ram Gopal Varma’s tireless spirit that gets to you. His new Hindi film, his first in three years, is a frenetic frenzied near-hysterical take on the brutal life of the jungle outlaw Veerappan who, apparently, could kill with an impunity that made mass murder a political issue. To his credit RGV has done his homework well. There is enough evidence here to convince us that Veerappan was a dangerous psychotic socio-political outcast who deserved to get the death that he finally did. The

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16may_veerappanStarring Sachiin Joshi,Sandeep Bhardwaj, Usha Jadhav, Lisa Ray
Directed by Ram Gopal Varma

There is something about Ram Gopal Varma’s tireless spirit that gets to you. His new Hindi film, his first in three years, is a frenetic frenzied near-hysterical take on the brutal life of the jungle outlaw Veerappan who, apparently, could kill with an impunity that made mass murder a political issue.

To his credit RGV has done his homework well. There is enough evidence here to convince us that Veerappan was a dangerous psychotic socio-political outcast who deserved to get the death that he finally did. The dark brooding earthy atmosphere created in the film adds to the feeling of dread.

This is no country for the sensitive. And if you are the kind who visits the cinema for emotional release Veerappan is not your thing.

While the first-half of the film shows a government spy Lisa Ray befriending and winning over the confidence of Veerappan’s wife (played with excellent tonal correctness by Usha Yadav) to get her to squeal on the outlaw, the second-half is devoted almost entirely to efforts of the Special Tasks Force to nab Veerappan. Here’s where Varma’s narrative wizardry flies high. One shootout in the dusty reddish marshland captures attention.

The action is relentless and brutal. Varma shoots the chase sequences with brutal velocity. He empowers his characters, both men and women, with a brute force that is disquieting and unnerving. The cinematography by Aniket Khandagale bludgeons through the craggy landscape and sullen bylanes filled with teeming marauders in pursuit of a man whom the Government wants dead at any cost.

In spite of the chaotic, kinetic universe the narrative is surprisingly coherent and consistent. But the background score and songs are unnecessarily clamorous. Varma is insistent on looking at Veerappan’s unstoppable brutality through a camera that records everything without wincing. There are scenes showing Veerappan perpetrating unmentionable violence on his victims.

Luckily there is not that much of Veerappan on screen. Shrewdly Varma holds his villain up for scrutiny more as an idea of evil than its physical embodiment. Actor Sandeep Bhardwaj’s uncanny resemblance to the real Veerappan certain adds a chill to the narrative. Sachiin Joshi turns in a restrained performance as the cop who will get Veerappan, come what may.

This film is certainly not for the squeamish or the weak at heart. But for those who are familiar with Ram Gopal Varma’s appetite for the abominable, Veerappan is just the beast to grab at your nearest theatre.

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