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.

Palm Springs (2020) Movie Review: Old Fashioned Love in the New Age

Haven’t most of us wondered how lovely it would be if we could go back to an immediate past and in the process getting to alter something that we had done or got into earlier? Imagine if that were to happen and you end up making a difference to the event in the past. Now hang on, even before you manage to start rejoicing, you see the same thing happen again and again. You are transported into the recent past repeatedly, leaving you clueless of what is happening to you. Now is the pandemic making me go crazy? Or am I probably watching way too many sci-fi movies of late (now this is definitely true) and hence dreaming of a time machine? Oh! No, its nothing like that, though I wouldn’t say no to getting access to a time machine.

But after watching Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs (directorial debut) it is difficult not to allow one’s thoughts to flow in such a direction. Having had its World Premiere at Sundance last year, the film went on to find a digital release on Hulu as well as a release in select drive-in cinemas in the U.S in July 2020. Winning a lot of critical acclaim, I was a bit intrigued about the film as not many rom-com’s of late have have received so much appreciation. On November 9 (the year is never referred to) in Palm Springs we get to attend Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe’s (Tyler Hoechlin) destination wedding. In attendance at the wedding among others are Nyles (Adam Sandberg), his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) and Tala’s elder sister Sarah (Cristin Miloti). Nyles and Sarah get friendly and just as they are about to get intimate, Nyles is attacked by someone and gets injured. In an attempt to save himself Nyles crawls into a cave, followed by Sarah out of concern for him, despite his warning to stay away from the cave.

Sarah is sucked into a vortex, wakes up soon and finds herself back in the same day (November 9) and sees the same things happening to her again. On confronting Nyles whom she believes to be responsible for this, Sarah gets to know that she has now got stuck in an infinite time loop of sorts along with him. Yes, this isn’t the first-time loop-based movie, be it the iconic Groundhog Day or the more recent Edge of Tomorrow, this is a plot device that has been comfortably used by Hollywood filmmakers across various genres. Thus, it is to the credit of Max Barbakow and his co-writer Andy Siara that the writing has enough meat in it to keep the audience entertained all the way. Yes somewhere in between as we see a desperate Sarah and a casual Nyles go through various situations in trying to live the day differently, there’s this feeling of oh! what else is possible. But the film ensures that this just remains a passing thought in our minds (if at all) and not something that becomes a concern in any manner.

The proceedings are certainly spunky, the situations that Nyles and Sarah find themselves in are funny and inventive. The film makes light of the sci-fi aspect, for example the way reference to heavy duty subjects like quantum physics and general relativity is shown in a casual manner. Credit certainly to both Adam Sandberg and Cristin Miloti for the way they play Nyles and Sarah with an easygoing style and complimenting each other. Having spent so much time in the time loop it is not a surprise that Nyles would be bored or indifferent to the situation and Adam Sandberg brings out these traits in Nyles in an assured manner. Sarah on the other hand on realizing the situation that she is stuck in, doesn’t want to accept the situation and is desperate to break out, leading to various situations, hilarious and engrossing at the same time. Cristin Miloti brings out the necessary vulnerability and heft to the character.

The supporting cast is also effective, especially J.K.Simmons who has a blast portraying Roy and his scenes with Nyles are certainly a highlight. The arid locations of Palm Springs and the wild outdoors soon add a lot of depth to the proceedings, nearly assuming the status of a character. Eventually it is no surprise to find yourself looking at Sarah and Nyles’ time loop from an internal viewpoint (as perceived) and that by itself is a victory for the film, certainly no mean feat that Max Barbakow and his team have managed to achieve. The film is not just one with a heart, it is all about literally letting your heart celebrate the vagaries of love in an unexpected fashion.

With Hollywood films warming up to the scenario of theatrical release in India once again and with a steady flow of American films being seen in India (despite cinemas in Maharashtra and Kerala still remaining closed), over the last few weeks, it is good to see a small but largely entertaining film like Palm Springs also making its way to cinemas in India (released on 24th September). Contemplating a weekend movie date? Well now you know what to do.

Nobody (2021) Movie Review: Bob Odenkirk On A Death Wish

I was channel surfing on a boring day, not sure what I wanted to watch, my eyes fell on “Nobody”. There was Bob Odenkirk, probably lying on the ground, and many fists landing on his contorted face. Images of Saul Goodman from “Better Call Saul” & “Breaking Bad”, who usually got roughed up or picked up by gang members, started popping out of my memory. I had never seen Bob in a movie before, so I felt, this was as good a time as any, to watch a full fledged movie of Bob Odenkirk.

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Karnan (2021) Movie Review: The Missing C Factor

I remember watching Fandry in a packed theatre and the audience laughing at the character and his mishaps, but then came the gut-wrenching climax and the audience went numb because it exposed them. I cannot remember such a stunning silence after a movie, here I thought was a director who has failed but then he has done a much bigger job as he had shown us the mirror. 

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Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban (2021) Movie Review: The System and the Common Man

Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban (KUN) has been making some noise since it was released and it is presented by one of India’s best directors, Vetrimaaran I was waiting for the film to stream on OTT. The film is now streaming on Zee5. 

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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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Stowaway (2021) Movie Review: Space, Time & Moral Dilemma

I had read couple of accounts in newspaper of how stowaways used to cling onto the wheels of the airplane or hide someplace in the cargo containers of ships, and sometimes in toilets; just to escape from whatever they have been facing. It was never for thrill of it, but always for a specific need like illegal emigration to better pastures.

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Nayattu (2021) Movie Review: The use of Formula to Experiment

Nayattu is a tale of the hunters being hunted. We have 3 cops, a by-election and hit-and-run case, and the death of a Dalit, this makes for an interesting concoction for Martin Prakkat’s new film. 

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Another Round (2020) Movie Review: Cheers to Good Health and More

They say that life imitates art and vice versa, last night I ended up thinking of the same in a strange manner. I took a nostalgic trip back in time, to a period when I was in my final year of college and discovering the joys of alcohol. It was the first time in my life that I had a lot of freedom. With my family having shifted to another city, I chose to avoid the college hostel, preferring instead to living with 5 other friends in a compact independent house. I was specifically reminded of a month where all of us ended up experimenting with alcohol consumption, just for fun of course, going on to learn and unlearn a few things in the process. If you are wondering, why am I ranting about an old story, don’t worry as that is not what this post is all about. But its hard not to watch Thomas Vinterberg’s latest film Another Round (Danish title-Druk) and not reflect upon one’s own tryst with booze.

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