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.

The Best of Bollywood In 2018

Listing the ten best films I have seen emerge from Bollywood last year could be a little deficient as I could not get around to watch a few generally acclaimed films like 3 Storeys and Love Sonia in time. Nevertheless, here’s my list of 10 best films that were made in Bollywood in the year gone by.

Honorable mention goes to Rajkumar Gupta’s Raid for an engaging account of a…raid and Hichki where Rani Mukherjee overcomes a clichéd script to deliver a watchable movie.

                                                                10. Kuch Bheege Alfaz
I am not a big fan of coincidences as a plot point, and the entire premise of KBA rests on coincidence. But if you are willing to look beyond that, this is a nice, gentle romance. Bollywood specializes in this genre, but rarely do you feel the romance yourself. A combination of good writing, direction and acting achieve this rare feat.
(Disclosure: The writer of this movie Abhishek Chatterjee also contributes to this website)

9. Stree
Horror and comedy often go together by in most cases, the end result is a spoof of the horror genre. Rarely do they complement each other. The horror in Stree follows the standard tropes expected in a film like this, but it’s the funny bits in between that make the movie. The film features good performances by everyone, including Shraddha Kapoor. A confident feature debut by director Amar Kaushik.

8. Raazi
The one flaw that I thought Raazi had was that the husband’s character wasn’t developed strongly enough. With a capable counterpart, Alia Bhatt’s spy would have seemed more credible. But this minor quibble apart, Raazi is a good watch with an apt balance of drama and thrills. Surely, Alia Bhatt can do not wrong from this point on in her career.

7. Sui Dhaaga
Having sort of honed his skills paying a small town bumpkin in the Dulhania duology, Varun Dhawan lends a humane touch and some maturity to his character here.  He is ably supported by Anushka Sharma. The story of the triumph of the underdog may have been done many times in the past, yet Sharat Katariya’s take on it makes for an interesting watch. If nothing else, I hope it puts Raghuvir Yadav back in the reckoning as a sought out actor.

6. Karwaan
While watching this movie, I was constantly reminded of Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying where three individuals carry a dead body across a road trip. The more showy role here is played with aplomb by Irfan Khan. Dulquer Salman, in his Hindi debut, is the under playing anchor of the ship and Mithila Palkar is the loose cannon who makes the age gap seem obvious. This is a nice feel-good black comedy. 

5. Veere Di Wedding
Four friends at different stages of matrimonial life is a premise for some witty writing. Add to that good performances by the four leading ladies (Swara Bhaskar steals most scenes) under Shashank Ghosh’s able direction and there isn’t a dull moment in this film.

4. Manmarziyan
The story of the woman settling for an arranged marriage despite a passionate affair is a template already covered by the Woh Saat Dins, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanams and Dhadkans of the world. Yet writer Kanika Dhillon and director Anurag Kashyap find ways of adding complications to the story. Not all of it made sense to me but then I don’t suppose it was meant to. Superb acting by Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan; in fact this must be Bachchan’s best role in years. He is more suited to these ‘serious types’ than comedy.  

3. Badhaai Ho 
This is a perfect example of choosing the right actor for the right role. What an ensemble cast this is! A late and unexpected pregnancy puts everyone in the household in an embarrassing situation leading to much mirth. Is this the same Amit Sharma  who directed Tevar a few years ago? You don’t say!

2. Kaalakaandi
I laughed so much with this movie my sides hurt. Three stories run parallel over the span of one fateful night. It’s a no brainer that they will come together at some point. This union is completely forced but by the time it comes, you are beyond the point of caring. Akshat Verma, who wrote the no-holds barred Delhi Belly, makes his directorial debut with even an even more ribald comedy. Sad it barely got noticed at the time of its release.

1. Mukkabaaz
By now it may seem that I am an Anurag Kashyap fan boy. But really, what’s not to like about this story about a boxer who has to rise above caste politics to claim his right to fight. As always, the dialogues in Kashyap’s films are peerless. No one gets these North Indian landscapes right better than him. Vineet Kumar puts in a performance that should make all filmmakers sit up and take notice of his raw talent.

 

Shivaay Movie Review: Ajay Devgn’s Directorial Venture Is Worth A Watch

In the last few years, barring a Singham or a Drishyam, Ajay Devgn has hardly done a film of consequence and one that commands a second look. His recent filmography which boasts of films such as Rascals, Son of Sardaar, Himmatwala and Action Jackson have given audiences severe grief. And therefore one approaches his latest venture Shivaay with some hesitation.

It can’t be denied that the promos of the film did surprise audiences and created an enough good pre-release buzz for it. Interestingly, Shivaay also marks Devgn’s return to direction after U Me Aur Hum (2008).Continue reading “Shivaay Movie Review: Ajay Devgn’s Directorial Venture Is Worth A Watch”

Shivaay Movie Review: Of Stunning Visuals, Adrenaline Pumping Action and…Nothing Else

Right from the time we were introduced to Ajay Devgn’s dream project Shivaay, I was intrigued. To start with there’s the title which seems to be obviously a tribute of sorts to Lord Shiva. Added to this were the reasonably eye catchy first look posters. And then of course we had the promos, again something which drew a lot of attention. In fact my gut feel told me that the film would either end up as a lovely visual spectacle that we would go on to admire or else be a complete failure. It certainly did not look like something that would fall in between these 2 extremes. And what did the promos indicate or promise?  A Himalayan action entertainer perhaps? Well that is probably what we feel while watching the first half an hour or so of the movie.  So we see the vast expanse of the mountains, the snowclad peaks in the distance and of course how can we forget Shivaay (Ajay Devgn) in the midst of it all.Continue reading “Shivaay Movie Review: Of Stunning Visuals, Adrenaline Pumping Action and…Nothing Else”

Musings Over The Diwali Releases: ADHM v/s Shivaay

This is not a review of either of the Hindi Diwali releases that hit the theatres over the weekend. Neither is this post devoid of spoilers, so read ahead only if you are okay with those two warnings.Continue reading “Musings Over The Diwali Releases: ADHM v/s Shivaay”

Parched Movie Review: The Girls Can Have all the Fun !

Just last week we had a movie about what 3 women go through after a fateful night. The women stayed in the capital city & were independent, educated and stood up to men. A week later, we have Leena Yadav’s Parched. A film that is set in rural Rajasthan, and is about 3 women who are uneducated, stubbed by men & society and are liberated only by their imagination.Continue reading “Parched Movie Review: The Girls Can Have all the Fun !”

Jai Gangaajal Movie Review: A Case of Prakash Jha Spoiling Priyanka Chopra’s Party

Few things are more tragic than a creator becoming the destroyer-in-chief of his own cherished creation. Prakash Jha does exactly that with Jai Gangaajal – the not-so-required and oh-so-underwhelming sequel to his 2003 cop drama Gangaajal, a film that was both gripping and realistic despite its underlying theme of vigilante justice.Continue reading “Jai Gangaajal Movie Review: A Case of Prakash Jha Spoiling Priyanka Chopra’s Party”

Fitoor Movie Review: Of Katrina’s Red Hair and Dickensian Red Herring

FitoorFitoor roughly translates to ‘obsession’ in English. And, it’s a pity that a film called Fitoor suffers from bouts of directorial indifference throughout its runtime. Director Abhishek Kapoor, who had very good last two outings in form of Kai Po Che and Rock On!!, puts up pretty looking caricatures and canvasses in Fitoor but forgets to infuse soul into them. So, amidst the snow-laden, paradise-like Kashmir and Katrina Kaif’s gorgeousness and red hair, there’s something which is clearly amiss. Throughout. Right from the opening credits till the lights are turned back on in the theater.Continue reading “Fitoor Movie Review: Of Katrina’s Red Hair and Dickensian Red Herring”

Fitoor Movie Review: No Love Here, Just Impossible Inanity

Ask me no questions and you will be told no lies. If you still want to know how this adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations is, well, you asked for it.

Fitoor spares nothing, and no one, as it annihilates anything and everything that was beautiful and sacred in the source novel and the milieu this adaptation is set in. For the most part, this massacre is orchestrated by a disastrously miscast Katrina Kaif while some part of the blame should deservedly reach the doors of Aditya Roy Kapoor and Tabu (yes, the lady can misfire too).Continue reading “Fitoor Movie Review: No Love Here, Just Impossible Inanity”