Friday, December 20, 2013

DHOOM 3 Review: Get Set... Dhoom!

A couple of hours drive through the California desert to reach San Diego had this lucky blogger enjoying an early Christmas gift from her best friend: a prepaid ticket for the first day and first show release of Vijay Krishna Acharya’s much anticipated Dhoom 3.
I have a confession to make. I would not say I am an action flick fan (I tend to find the genre a bit soulless) and have often been disappointed with the multiple attempts to achieve Hollywood-like results in Indian films or to create the ”Indian James Bond”. Not only do I believe Indian cinema need not use Western cinema as a measuring stick, but in my humble opinion, these attempts have met little success… probably less due to a lack of budget than to faulty scripts. So before starting this review, I wish to give my sincere applause to Vijay K. Acharya and Aditya Chopra for taking a giant box-office title like Dhoom and writing a script with soulful Indian flavor while creating a pretty consistent and entertaining action plot that can appeal to any audience.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

THE LUNCHBOX (DABBA): A Delicacy for the Soul

It is certainly a joy when yet another film being hailed as the true flag of Hindi language independent cinema actually delivers in all departments, particularly in terms of performances and script. After having watched a couple of Hindi indie films in the past few years with less-than-enthusiastic reviews to post, I am glad to say Ritesh Batra has finally nailed it. The Lunchbox has India co-producing along with France, Germany and the U.S., giving it all its chances abroad and among Indian audiences looking for honest niche cinema of great quality.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI 2: Of Love and Other Passions

Milan Luthria pairs up with Ekta Kapoor once again and directs the sequel to his gangster hit Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai with generous and unapologetic Bollywood masala and action scene close-ups, enriching this new film with more romance than the first movie of the series.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG: A Real-Life Tale of Inspiration

Rakeysh Onprakash Mehra had me conquered with Rang de Basanti and I had been awaiting a new tale that would feature his unique directorial punch. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a patriotic and epic account of runner Milkha Singh's life, features spot on performances by the cast and a wonderful and highly involved lead performance by actor/director Farhan Akhtar, who trains, sweats, bhangras and romances with all his heart. Prasoon Joshi’s script tell's Milkha Singh’s story through a long series of flashbacks that make the full story materialize at the end of the film.

Friday, July 5, 2013

HARUD: Kashmir's Free-Falling Leaves

Slow but effective, Harud starts with scenes that grasp the viewer and, even though one might find the film’s long silences heavy to watch, the eyes and the heart of art cinema lovers will wait patiently to see what brave story unfolds.
Rafiq (Shahnawaz Bhat), Harud’s main character, has an elder brother who has disappeared due to the tension in the Kashmir region. His mother and father have difficulty in dealing with this disappearance and the ambient violence, to the point that his father (veteran Iranian actor Reza Naji) starts slowly losing his mind to depression. Rafiq’s daily life unfolds listlessly until he finds his older brother’s camera and starts to use it, finding some respite from a grey existence. 
A special mention goes to actors Mohammad Amir Naji (Rafiq's father), who is already known to be immensely talented, and to Mudessir Ahmed Khan, who despite being a starting actor, gives the film a tinge of  joy or magic to each scene he takes part in. Equally strong applause goes to Nakul Kamte. As I was watching the film, I kept wondering how such guerrilla-style film making could achieve such quality in the sound department, and it was only after I saw his name in the credits that my mystery was solved. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

GURU DUTT: The Percentage of Tears

Guest post by: Tiru Pradyumna Editing by: HINDI CINEMA BLOG
Tiru Pradyumna is a theatre director from Bangalore. Interpreting and finding precious things in Indian cinema which are apparently not understood by normal audience, as well as articulating the concept of aesthetics and semiotics in cinema are some of Tiru's many talents shared with us today. Check out the blog at:
“Koi Jab Roke, Koi Jab Toke, Gun Gun Karata Bhaage Re”
This line flashed at me when I saw a poster of a film near a theatre in Bangalore. The title matched the “ORIGINAL” for the most part till “Saahib Biwi Aur ...”, but in a few seconds, my intellect felt guilty, because the resemblance was only between two film names and only that much. The memory of that poster remained only for couple of seconds, while the memory of the ORIGINAL film (which remains a classic even after five decades) will remain forever. My "guilty" comparison of both films led me to compare the “Golden Era of the HINDI FILM industry” and current “Bollywood” (that is what they call it). The span of twenty years in which legends like Raj Kapoor, Yash Chopra, Shammi, Rafi, Kishore Da, Burmans, Kaifi Azmi, Abrar alvi, Sahir ludhianvi, Anand Bhakshi and Guru Dutt were brand ambassadors of the Hindi film industry is compared to nowadays, when actors are only meant to be brand ambassadors for TV commercials... let's say the comparison cannot even be balanced on the same pole.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Image from
By Swanand Kirkire (Edited by Mayank Shekher for the MAMI Film Festival)  
I remember when I was a newcomer to Hindi films, I had met the iconic actor-filmmaker Kamal Hassan at a social function. He had then mentioned to me that, over the years, movies in India had worked for us simply as a magic show. Most people watched moving images on silver screen more as theatre audiences experiencing magic playing out before their eyes – without knowing or thinking of the technology that went behind bringing those images to life. With the explosion of technology in later decades, this illusion of magic slowly began to fade away, and cinema 2000 onwards, I suspect, started to reflect that change.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

GATTU Review: A Child Conquers the Sky

When a movie without special effects, exotic locations, huge stars and song and dance sequences is released, it tends to be classified in the art film category and is immediately slotted for an intellectual or purely regional audience. Gattu breaks the mould and brings us not only Indian entertainment but also simple and meaningful cinema.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

SPECIAL 26 Review: Thrill is the Word

A Wednesday was the first Indian film I believe I watched in India and without English subtitles. I still remember a friend translating for me the parts I did not fully understand and feeling how the plot was getting entangled and detangled in my brain. Such a stimulating film had me looking forward to acclaimed director Neeraj Pandey's Special 26 (aka Special Chabbis) and I am glad the waiting is over.
While the director might have been facing nervousness this week before the release, one has to say that a trip to the cinema this weekend to watch it is pretty well worth it!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bollywood Infomercial Sleek: RACE 2 Review

Let us quote and interview of Johann Verheem, founder of a weight loss company who became famous overnight due to one of his infomercials: “It's not just that sex sells, but one of the other things very important in direct selling, in infomercials, is that a product looks different enough for someone to stop and watch it.” (Inc. magazine)

Verheem's expert knowledge of "what sells" completely matches my impression of Abbas and Mustan Burmawalla's Race 2, where a score of gorgeous males and females show off their tanned and chiseled bodies and brand clothes in luxurious settings while trying to appear cool by emoting as minimum as possible and handling uncannily humongous sums of money (plus the shroud of Turin!) throughout a plot that unfortunately keeps craving for an ending well before the intermission.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

MATRU KI BIJLEE KA MANDOLA Review: Bhardwaj's Off-beat Genius

It was enough to see the promos featuring a smiling pink buffalo, Gulabi Bhains, prior to a Talaash screening to convince us we needed to watch Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola. Seeing Vishal Bhardwaj's name appended to it convinced us further...
Though the plot has been analyzed and sometimes criticized by first-time viewers across the press expecting a mainstream movie with a dash of quirkiness or originality from Vishal Bhardwaj, I have to say I find most critics who were disappointed with Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola have missed its point. In my very humble opinion, the movie's disjointedness and wackiness was written on purpose. One scene jumps to the next, the absurd creeps up every other scene and the plot includes a critical view of Indian village society while at the same time providing funny cracks. The film might not have the duality of Kaminey or the straightforward drama of Omkara; it might at times seem like Bhardwaj wrote a set of unfinished brilliant sketches for a set of characters he fleshed out in advance; but ultimately, the film follows a thread of veiled, surrealistic but effective critique of India that can absolutely not be brushed off.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

USTAD HOTEL: The Beauty of Nonchalance

Every now and then, there is a regional film making its way into a review by the Hindi Cinema Blog and Ustad Hotel, a 2012 Malayalam film written by Anjali Menon and directed by Anwar Rasheed merits such an occasion.
Ustad Hotel´s subtle cinematography and its richly colorful images paint a refreshing and simple story. Faizal, nicknamed Fayzee (Dulquer Salman) grows up amid his sisters until they are "married off" one by one. Fayzee hopes to be a chef, much against the aspirations of his father. He goes to Switzerland to study hotel management at the University of Lausanne. When he returns, the possibility for an arranged marriage is broken off by the bride-to-be Shahana (Nithya Menon), who also reveals to one and all that Fayzee has secretly completed a chef's course and not a career in hotel management, as agreed. This event shatters his father's dream of opening a five-star hotel in his home town of Kozhikode. Fayzee feels so cornered that he decides to move in and work with his grandfather Karim Ka (Thilakan), who is also a chef and runs a beach restaurant called Ustad Hotel. Fayzee's philosophy of life matures and evolves under the formative eye of his grandfather in this lovely coming of age entertainer. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

DABANGG 2 Review: Chulbul Pandey Came and Went

Bombay moviegoer's expectations were ablaze viewing the giant posters of Bollywood’s most masalaic hero pointing a gun at cars passing by on high avenues. The sequel to one of the cinema industry’s most recent box office monuments, Dabangg, was about to conquer the Indian psyche, or so it seemed...
While I am aware of the huge following Salman Khan has among Indians and while I do believe the icon he has become can become an acquired taste for those of us who did not grow up with masala as a run-of-the-mill method of storytelling, this blogger remains nonetheless underwhelmed with the result of the sequel to a very innovative and entertaining original Dabangg.

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