DHUIN : The Foggy Echoes of Life

In Achal Mishra’s new fifty minute long feature Dhuin, which is now premiering at the 22nd Mumbai Festival, ambitions, emotions and the related frustrations of life come staring at us in nervously unsettling ways in its stillness, fogged gloom and the burdens of reality. Through striking visual imagery, and a gorgeous background score dominated by minimalistic guitar riffs, Mishra adopts a pristine, simple and subtle approach of narrating a story of dreams and ambitions, thereby delivering the deep impact of his quietly disturbing film in a poignant resonance of life.

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83 : A Feel Good Satisfying Experience

Kabir Khan was very clear what he wanted to achieve with 83. The proceedings are kept simplistic by design, back stories of individual players or melodrama outside cricket is kept minimalistic by design, the screenplay unabashedly plays to the gallery by design, all the emotional buttons are manipulated by design, and we can see and feel all of it. But no one cares, because all of that works by design too! It is the perfect feel good, nostalgia ride one would want to take this holiday season and come out all smiling and teary eyed from it.

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SARDAR UDHAM : Say it like Shoojit Sircar

Shoojit Sircar is a man of quiet depth and restrained emotions. Even when he makes his lighter films, there is a unique elegance and classy charm attached to them, them studded with precious gem like moments, deeply layered subtlety, and an inexplicable repeat watch quality where you keep discovering a new something with every repeat watch. When the news first started flowing around that my most favourite hindi filmmaker of today’s times was going to make a biopic on Sardar Udham Singh and had the incredible Irrfan on his mind to play the titular role, it was naturally very exciting. While there were apprehensions about Shoojit also jumping into the biopic bandwagon, and also indulging in a genre that was outside his comfort zone, I also had the confidence that Shoojit, with his research , detailing, aesthetics and restraint, will lend the right amount of depth and gravitas to the forgotten story of this valiant revolutionary who took all his time but never lost focus on seeking justice on possibly the single most heinous crime and the darkest event of blood bath that marred India’s struggle for independence.

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#HOME : And its Sugar Sweet Heart

Rojin Thomas‘s new Malayalam movie ‘Home‘ can be brushed off as saccharin sweet and too emotionally manipulative to be considered as one of those feel good movies that we will go back to again and again and discover new things. Personally if I have to watch movies on dysfunctional families, I would watch a ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ or a ‘Kapoor and Sons’ any day over a ‘Home’, because the former films have relationship dynamics playing at multiple levels of depth and intrigue, and have characters arcs that are fuzzy and complex which gradually get delayered over time. Home is not that film.

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AK vs AK : Meta Musings of Life

There is a reason why I think Vikramaditya Motwane is the most versatile, most fearless and most creative filmmaker currently working in Mumbai! The man doesn’t care whether his art will trigger the ringing of cash registers at the box office, but he will go to any length to make the most impressive films in the genres he will pick up, and challenge both art and life through it! And he will control his indulgence too. And then keep it accessible for all without trying to go too tangential. AK vs AK is another bold step towards establishing it!

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GUNJAN SAXENA: THE KARGIL GIRL – Soars High in the Sky

Early on in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl when young Gunjan tells her folks for the first time that she wants to be a pilot, Anup Saxena, an army officer by himself, and Gunjan’s father very subtly tells his condescending elder son Anshuman “Jab plane ko faraq nahi padta ki use kaun udaa raha hai, to tumhe kyon padta hai barkhurdar..”. It is one heck of a statement delivered with the sweetest calmness, and immediately sets the tone of writer director Sharan Sharma‘s debut film. Full credit to him that he maintains that even tonality and pace throughout the film, and delivers a highly satisfying cinematic experience with a beautiful emotional core and a strong message, that challenges the ingrained patriarchy of our homes, our societies and our workplaces on one hand, and strongly rebukes the generic template of jingoistic patriotism on the other.

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RAAT AKELI HAI : Solitary Shades of Darkness

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In Honey Trehan‘s debut feature film Raat Akeli Hai, a dysfunctional family, with a rich socio-political backing, is facing the mysterious murder of its patriarch on his wedding night. But that is not the only mystery that inspector Jatil Yadav, in charge of solving this case, is dealing with. There are at least five other deaths that we encounter as a part of the unfolding narrative over two timelines, that have their own flavors of murder, revenge or redemption; and there are more lives on the line who have been used, abused and exploited in their own ways.

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GULABO SITABO : Jeevan ka Khela

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In general, our movie watching experience is often driven by a few things especially when we talk about the slice of life genre – How likeable are the characters? Can I emotionally root for one of them? How attached are the characters to each other thereby evoking compassion or sympathy? Is it explicitly making me laugh, feel sad, get angry? Is it aligning with my preconceived notion of how I am supposed to feel for this film? Sometimes when we don’t have clear answers to most or any of these questions, there is a chance we will dismiss the film as uninteresting, bland or confusing. But Shoojit Sircar and Juhi Chaturverdi are not interested to find a happy path to these questions and create a feel good laugh out loud comedy to satisfy everyone. For the fourth time in a row, they present another deeply layered observational film packaged unconventionally yet again, this time as a dramedy, on the futility of attachments and running behind the eventually inconsequential things for a lifetime. Life is often about its nothingness and a goose chase to feed our desires, and the whole pointlessness of the entire journey and its disappointment is what one is left with in the end. Gulabo Sitabo shines because Shoojit Sircar and team intricately weave in this deep philosophy as the melancholic soul of the film, with an effortless ease into the everyday ordinariness of a seemingly brewing cacophonic premise.

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CHOKED : PAISA BOLTA HAI – waivers its potential

When the human moral compass waivers, and greed chokes the ability to feel anything else, the relationships go down the drain!

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CHINTU KA BIRTHDAY : Longing To Be Loved

What happens when the common ordinary man feels emotionally marooned because they are all trapped in a world of chaos and war? It could be a migrant Indian family desperate to go back home from a war laden Iraq, but their employer has opportunistically tricked them and their government has conveniently forgotten them. It could be a native Iraqi whose life has been shattered in the hands of an autocratic ruler and then by an unwarranted foreign invasion. It could be the trapped American soldier of the frontline whose inherent human instinct is long lost amidst all the violence and bloodshed but is desperately seeking a revival. Or it could simply be a young six year old boy whose innocent ask from life is to get his birthday celebrated, but last two years has robbed him of such simple joys of life. The new Zee5 Original film Chintu ka Birthday is a story of all such broken, marooned people who are desperate to cling on to life and its small gifts, however illusive they might be.

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