Bob Biswas (2021) Movie Review: Ei Toh Jibon

Kali da, played by Paran Bandhopadhyay, is the most profound and earthy character of the movie. He spouts wisdom of the ages, like Oogway from Kungfu Panda, as he has seen life from close quarters. His oft repeated line “Ei toh jibon” as response to questions about morality and ethics that Bob Biswas poses to him, has the much needed calming effect on Bob.

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Sooryavanshi (2021) Movie Review: This Needed More Masala

I decided to watch Sooryavanshi at a theatre near my home as the theatre had just opened 3 days before lockdown and was soon shutdown. Strangely during the pandemic I was consuming a lot of masala films and rewatching films which gave me comfort and gave a sense of poetic justice to me.

Sooryavanshi could not have come at a better time when one of the most celebrated cops in the country has been under scrutiny and there is a slugfest around him due to politics and an ex-commissioner is missing . thus the film comes at the right time when it gives us hope that Mumbai will bounce back and so will Mumbai Police.

Rohit Shetty started his career with the actioner Zameen which was a Bollywood take on Kandahar Hijack, but Rohit changed his tracks later and met with success due to his comedy films. As far as I know Rohit Shetty hasn’t worked again on original scripts (apart from Zameen) as most of his film have been adaptations of Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films but with his take on it.

Sooryavanshi to be fair in most parts is an original film but has strong shades of Thuppakki, with Akshay Kumar having featured in the Hindi version (Holiday) of the same. Now let us be honest, politics or subtlety is not a strong point of Rohit Shetty. This is where Rohit flatters the most.

Sooryavanshi starts with this idea where Pakistanis are marrying Hindus and waiting to carry of sinister plan against India. Love Jihad check. The film mentions that Bombay/Mumbai has been under attack since ’93 by Pakistani sponsored terrorists, which is true and also tells us that the hero had lost his parents due to the Bombay Blasts, the largest attack ever carried by terrorists pre 9/11.

We have Kabir Shroff (Javed Jaffrey) obviously an ode to one of Mumbai’s supercops, Rakesh Maria, who along with his team from Mumbai police solved the case within a record time. But strangely there is no mention of Bombay riots, it is as if the makers are scared to utter the incident or that they think that it did not affect millions of Mumbaikars. But then I guess this is now part of rewriting history.

Then for some reason the makers confuse ISIS with Pakistani terrorists and terrorism. This is followed by a mention of Padgha where these religious teacher is recruiting Indian Muslim youth to fight against the state, strangely we all know how the so called accused or perpetrators of crime were declared not guilty by the court but then I guess we need to toe the line of propaganda and our hero needs to deliver sermon on who is a good Muslim or bad Muslim.

Surprisingly the much touted helicopter scene is marred with bad vfx and compared to this I would still say the action sequence in 1994’s like in flms like Sab Se Bada Khiladi had much better aerial sequence.

Also Bollywood needs to stop remixing old songs, Tip Tip Barsa Pani is one of the worst picturised songs of late and it does not do any justice to the original and Katrina is nowhere near the league of Raveena. Also do not know why Katrina looks jaded in the movie.

In Singham and Simmba despite being alpha action movie, the lead female character had an objective to support hero here that is totally missing and in one scene it becomes misogynistic also when Sooryavanshi glances accusingly his wife when the security lapse was on the part of his team.

Now that we have done with the bad parts, let me come to the good parts. It emerges when Rohit Shetty stops taking himself seriously and goes full on Bollywood masala mode, beginning with the Hum Hindustani song and you know it is cheesy but that is the time when you start to enjoy the movie. From here on Rohit is in full control, bringing back Singham (Ajay Devgn) and Simmba (Ranveer Singh) to set up his cop universe.

This where we see Farhad Samji with their witty one liners like ” aa gaya Dev leke Gun”, wordplay reference to Ajay Devgn. From here on the film is irreverent with a bomb disposal scene which includes fun and tense moments in parts.

It is where the movie shines, when the focus is on Simmba and Singham and the action shifts to hand to hand combat and punchlines and boy it is what we missed about our movies, in the end hero saves the day.

Alas the last act comes tad too late, but it entertains.

Also a request, if you are watching this in a cinema hall, please follow the guidelines issued by local authorities and listen to the cinema ushers. They are doing their duty to keep a safe environment for you and other film buffs, show your vaccine certificate when asked, be seated in your allotted seats, keep your masks on and do not argue as to why you want to eat inside the theatre.

Be safe, stay safe and welcome back to the movies.

Sherni (2021) Movie Review: Man vs. Wild

Right in the middle of the movie, Nangia, played by Neeraj Kabi, delivers a lecture in a seminar on how development and environment does not go hand in hand. Hence, we should strive for a balance, where both can coexist, exclaims Nangia.

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Short Film ‘Infected 2030’: Fear & Loathing in the Pandemic

As the title suggests, the movie is set in the future 2030 AD, where people are struggling with a virus for which there is still no cure. The short film starts with a couple, in a high rise in Mumbai, overlooking the Worli Sealink, where the wife Shivika is lying infected in the bed, while hubby Manik does the daily chores and takes care of her.

It’s a very depressing tale where the couple has zero interaction, as Manik places the breakfast on her side table and just leaves, while Shivika is cooped up in the room that’s covered with plastic sheets, from wall to wall. It probably means that, the plastic is disposed off every few days, and fresh ones placed, so that the doors, walls, windows and ceilings remain clean. That itself paints a grim picture of how life would be, if we are not able to find a cure for the current pandemic which has clenched the entire globe.Continue reading “Short Film ‘Infected 2030’: Fear & Loathing in the Pandemic”

Aakrosh(1980): The Anger of the Voiceless

India is facing a challenge, we do not have vaccines, the Government is busy building a palace for Prime Minister Modi, while Indians all over the country are dying due to lack of oxygen, beds and vaccines. The Government is not paying heed to it has made this crisis worse and has hit the middle class and cities. This makes me wonder, what about people who do not have access to technology? How do they air their grievances? The prologue is related to the theme of the movie Aakrosh. What do the voiceless do when they are failed by the very system which is supposed to protect them?

Aakrosh begins as a legal thriller where we see Lahanya (Om Puri) being accused of murdering his wife and the film directly does not answer the question for a major part of the film. The film is not interested in the crime or condemning it, but more interested in how of it and not the why of it. 

Then we have Dusane (Amrish Puri) who is from the Tribal community but has been assimilated into the upper class society because of the position he holds. He knows he is a part of the society and shares the table with bigwigs because of his position. He is sure that he may be welcomed socially, but will never be a part of the upper caste club. 

Then we have Bhaskar Kulkarni (Naseeruddin Shah) a rookie lawyer whose father has groomed Dusane and is an idealistic who is navigating the world of caste, politics, and justice. The film is mostly depicted through the viewpoint of this protagonist 

At first, he is more concerned about his career and how it will affect his career as a lawyer. He is frustrated by what he thinks is a lack of cooperation by his client. He is met with silence everywhere he goes, he thinks that it is their arrogance or ungratefulness on how these people cannot work with this great system. What he does not know is the system is just to give a moral and legal cloak for those who are in power and can oppress those who do not have a voice. 

Bhaskar is an interesting protagonist. He is not someone who is trying to change the system, his belief in the system is intact. You cannot fault him, for the person he is. And because of the genetic advantage of being born in a certain caste, he does not have to face discrimination in his life. When he discovers the gutter of corruption and greed, he is shaken and scared at first. He gets to fight the system in his way only to be greeted with disillusionment. 

Nothing is black and white in this Govind Nihalani directorial debut where he is aided by the genius Vijay Tendulkar. This is not a film that gives any comfort. It is a film that causes you discomfort and makes you think that we all are part of the system and in a way, we also play an active part in this action. 

Om Puri as Lahanya delivers one of the finest performances in his career. The anger which comes due to helplessness is solely conveyed through his eyes, and way he cries at the end of the movie is so haunting. Om went on to do another angry man role with panache in Nihalani’s next Ardh Satya

Smita Patil‘s role sadly doesn’t have much scope to offer and it is sad she is just used as an ornamental piece in the film. 

Amrish Puri cast in a role that is a far cry from his usual Bollywood roles reminds me why he is such a good actor. Naseeruddin Shah as a young lawyer is a delight to watch. But to think of a him as a Marathi Brahmin guy requires suspension of disbelief. 

Govind has cast Marathi actors for non-important roles, but surprisingly for lead roles he went with a non-Marathi cast who do not look or talk like Marathis. Not that I am holding a grouse against him for this, but casting Marathi actors in key roles would have helped the film a lot.

That aside, Aakrosh is one of the best films to come out of India. Do give it a try. 

The film is streaming on Amazon Prime India and Hotstar (in a censored version)

 

Radhe (2021) Movie Review: Old Wine in an Even Older Bottle

Some stars have made careers out of making “masala” entertainers, like Rajnikanth, Mithun, Akshay to some extent; and audiences don’t really care for reviews or others opinions on their movies, since they want to watch unadulterated entertainment. Our most wanted bhai’s movie, also falls in this category.

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Coolie No 1 (2020- Amazon Original): The Curse of Nepotism in Bollywood

A good part of the 90s was a golden time for David Dhawan and Govinda most of which were remakes of Tamil and Telugu films. For example Coolie No 1 is a remake of the Tamizh film Chinna Mapillai. 

David Dhawan is now on a quest to position his son as the next Superstar of Bollywood remaking his own remakes, but then this time it flatters to deceive. Coolie No 1 (1995) itself is a problematic film if you look at it. There is a person who catfishes a female to marry her and the film does not show any remorse on his part and justifies it by saying that as her father wanted her to have a secure life, the daughter deserves to be cheated. Continue reading “Coolie No 1 (2020- Amazon Original): The Curse of Nepotism in Bollywood”

Laxmii (2020 Disney Hotstar Original): The Bomb That Fizzles Out

Laxmii is a remake of the Tamil Kanchana/Muni universe. The Hindi version comes after 10 Years of the original where much has been changed. In fact, the Tamizh mainstream movie also has changed the format of narration, we do not get now a separate comedy track in Tamil cinema which was a staple back then. I must admit I have watched all the original films and it is a guilty pleasure.Continue reading “Laxmii (2020 Disney Hotstar Original): The Bomb That Fizzles Out”

Serious Men (2020 Netflix Original) Movie Review: The Angst of India’s Voiceless

Serious Men releases at a time, when the Uttar Pradesh state machinery has gone all out and try to cover up the Hathras tragedy that has been in the headlines of late. It is also interesting that it comes at a time when filmmakers like Pa. Ranjith and Nagaraj Manjule are giving voice to the Dalits of India. 

Serious Men is based on the novel of the same name by Manu Joseph. It tracks the journey of resourceful Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who works at a prestigious scientific organisation in Mumbai as a PA for his boss Acharya (Naseer). Both come from different class and different caste while Ayan is from the lower caste, his boss belongs to the uppermost caste.Continue reading “Serious Men (2020 Netflix Original) Movie Review: The Angst of India’s Voiceless”