URI: THE SURGICAL STRIKE – Misses Target

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Let me start by saying that when the first trailers of Uri: The Surgical Strike came in, it did not appeal to me. On the surface, it seemed to be cut out of the same hyper-nationalist jingoistic fabric as a typical J.P. Dutta film that flourishes on dialogbaazi. As a result, I never really felt excited to watch the film for about a week, but finally decided to go for it today to celebrate its success which is already on its way to become the first super-hit film of 2019. Let me start by happily confessing that my initial perception was proven wrong, and sensationalist jingoism is the least of problems of this film. Sadly though, it still misses the target of becoming good impactful cinema, and has bigger problems to deal with. Hence, all we get in the end of it is a strictly average and quickly forgettable cinematic experience.

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LOVE SONIA : Is Anything But Tender

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Love SoniaTabrez Noorani‘s dark and daunting film on the human hell of sex trafficking got its digital release on Hotstar this week, hence enabling its reach to a wider audience after its limited release last year. First things first, it is a very difficult watch especially if watched on theatre projections and in a way am glad I waited to watch it in more comforting surroundings. It traces the life of a young seventeen year old girl Sonia as she falls into the trap of horrific sex rackets operating in Mumbai and is subjected to the harshest of physical and psychological abuse as her journey moves from the dungeons of Mumbai to the luxurious living spaces of Los Angeles.

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ZERO : The Fault in our Stars!

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With Zero, director Aanand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma want to take the viewers on a flight of fantasy. Their intent might have been to tell a deeply sub-textual tale of love between two unlikely and challenged individuals who want to realize the depth of their cosmic size emotions rising above and beyond the worldly pettiness. Their intent might have been to create a world of magical realism through complete suspension of disbelief, and get the viewers mesmerized in a larger than life spectacle and king size feelings of their vertically challenged superstar. Unfortunately, their flight of fantasy crash lands in the hands of a completely random script, non-existent control and haywire execution even before it takes off properly!

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KEDARNATH : Leaves you partially drenched!

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When the first rushes of Kedarnath were released, it was aptly clear that the heart of the film lies in a troubled love story set in the gorgeously pristine locales of the pilgrimage site, which is likely to use the lifestyle traits and the pulse of the region to garnish its story; and the catastrophic tragedy of the 2013 floods will only be an extended climactic plot point of the film. And not surprisingly at all, the film delivers exactly that. Hence, why the focus of the film is on other things and why there is very little focus on the tragedy was a mute point for me. What was important then is whether the film effectively told the story that it intended to tell in the first place, and how strongly did it draw its inspirations, if at all, from any of the other tragedy movies like Titanic.

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2.0 : Spectacle Soars, Cinema Loses!

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When was the last time when spectacular visual extravaganza comes and hits you from all possible angles constantly and still leaves you exhausted by the end of it? Well, it just happened to me today. Dot.

Shankar, with his vision for the extraordinary, creates a sensory overload on screen as 2.0, but works through the assumption that heavy VFX can more than make up for complete lack of narrative in the process. He chooses an important message to deliver in these digitally mobile times, but doesn’t garnish it enough with engaging content for audience to connect and feel for the cause.

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RAJMA CHAWAL : A Recipe Gone Wrong!

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The latest Netflix film Rajma Chawal is over spiced, under cooked and hence turns out to be quite a disaster!

Its a film that tries too hard to raise the Dilli wale emotions – a loud caricaturish family whose conversations don’t have the flavor of the rajma chawal or the chai that they have together, the boy who performs with his band on a chhad of purani dilli and sulks in front of Connaught Place, the girl who forces in her hipster attitude with razer cut hair and a barcode tattoo, and a man who flirts with technology to be cool for his millenial son and doesn’t flinch for a second to hire a girl to have a fling with him and ensure ghar waapasi.

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THUGS OF HINDOSTAN : True to its Title

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Thugs of Hindostan – What’s not to roll in our seats laughing when it is so unintentionally hilarious, and so cinematically bankrupt! Because other than a logical script, interesting characters, foot tapping music, engaging action, and palatable VFX, it has well everything else!

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TUMBBAD : When Horror Becomes Poetic!

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When Folklore marries Fantasy marries Fear marries Fine Imagery, you get a gorgeous Film like Tumbbad. As a very ambitious project, it wants to leave a deeply philosophical message about the horrors of greed and how it creates monsters out of humans far scarier than literal gory demons who at least have nature imposed limits they cannot cross. But the human greed is a limitless pit and man keeps falling into it again and again, not realizing how the curse is gradually engulfing him and his entire lineage leaving nothing behind to take forward.

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BADHAAI HO : Celebrating Goodness!

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Badhaai Ho is a beautiful film. And its not because it possibly delivers the best humor of the year so far. But it becomes so much more effective because it doesn’t just trivialize the important but awkward issue of accidental geriatric pregnancy in the garb of comedy, but adds adequate depth to it with the right balance of emotions and well blended sentimentality. The film can boast of landing some of the most crackling lines of recent times perfectly laden with bouts of laughter; but the biggest strength of the film lies in how well each of characters at Kaushik’s and Sharma’s are developed, the kind of bond and understanding that they get to share with each other, and the complete redemption arc that each of them traverse to overcome the social predicament and welcome the little one with open arms.

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ANDHADHUN : Aphrodisiac for Good Cinema

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#MinorSpoilerAlert

Years ago, John Lennon had left profound thoughts behind when he sang along “Living is easy with eyes closed”. With Andhadhun, Shriram Raghavan almost pushes us deep into the same metaphorical world with his rhetorical question and response – “What is life? It depends on the liver“.

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