“War films must be about futility of war, and this film endorses vendetta,” so proclaimed few, while pooh-poohing Aditya Dhar’s film, ‘Uri’. To begin with, one wonders who lays down such rules for a war films. Come to think of it, almost every Hindi film ends with a war, either through man-to-man talk, confession to woman, family confrontation, fisticuffs, and underworld combat or the war within, of lately made popular by Ranbir Kapoor.
One would have wondered what new Rohit Shetty could possibly offer with his latest film, Simmba. The expectations are understandably low and yet the hopes are high. You aren’t looking for a Singham anyway, but don’t want to be fooled with a Dilwale too. So, how does Simmba pan out?
“Oh God, one more remix?”
The trailer promised to entertain you and guess what, that’s precisely what Rohit Shetty’s Simmba does – Entertain, entertain and entertain. Simmba, in all its grimy glory of a masala film, is a remix of 80s and 90s films that we have grown up with. Wait, let me put it more ‘intellectually’- Simmba reinvents the done-to-death genre of Bollywood revenge saga.
“Mein police wala bana paisa kamane ko, Robinhood banke dusre ka madad karne ke liye nahi.”
This line is perhaps a cleverly disguised disclaimer by director Rohit Shetty that he isn’t here to change the world, but just entertain. So if you’re expecting a film that would champion the rape cause, you are in for some serious disappointment, as the insights you’d gather here wouldn’t be any different from a hairdresser or paan-waala located near the corner of your house.
A self-pitying ‘Main anaath hoon’ undertone, a muh-boli-behen who eventually gets raped, a good looking heroine who sings songs before and after the interval and steps aside once her job is done, a villain waiting to be vanquished – Simmba is replete with every cliché of a typical Bollywood masala potboiler, yet it comes across as a fresh breath of air amid the stench of pseudo intellectual cinema that either guise themselves as a whitewashed biopic or bore you to death with yawn-inducing reality.
“Yeh kalyug hai kalyug. Yahaan log sirf ek matlab ke liye jeete hain, apne matlab ke liye.”
Come to think of it, when did the masala potboilers of the 80s and 90s ever give a damn to social causes? They coolly picked up a social cause, be it rape, corruption or terrorism and used it for their plot’s benefit. Even the Vijay films in Tamil do the same, albeit with better production values and seeti-worthy performances. Well, even Simmba is a remake of the Telugu film, Temper.
“Bhau, je mala maahit naahi te sanga. Tell me what I don’t know.”
Farhad Samji delight you with their witty dialogues and to give the devil its due, Ranveer Singh pulls them off like a boss. Yunus Sajawal and Sajid Samji write a screenplay that engages you to the core, despite the fact that you could see what is to transpire on screen at every given point of time. Among the songs, the ‘Aankh maare’ remix compels you to tap your foot all the way and sounds even better than the original version. The cinematography of Jomon T. John and editing by Bunty Nagi lend the film an edgy tone with all those slo-mo and low angle shots thrown in good measure.
“Dil dhadkaaye, seeti bajaaye!”
Sara Ali Khan is easily one of the best finds of 2018. The range that she displayed in Kedarnath, as well as Simmba is enough to convince one that she’s going to belong to the top league of Indian actresses. After all, she has this rare attribute that our actresses seem missing these days – She can act.
Who would have thought Ranveer Singh will waltz his way through the Masala entertainers and dethrone the Robinhood Pandeys of this world, even before his contemporaries begin to experiment this genre? Ranveer owns each frame of Simmba, despite the distraction of Sara Ali Khan’s beauty, Sonu Sood’s brilliant antagonist act, Asutosh Rana’s ‘salute’ (You need to watch the film to get this), Siddharth Jadav as Tawde (He truly shines in one of the best scenes of the film) or the ‘Tony Starkish’ cameo of Ajay Devgn that makes the audience go into raptures.
“Aala re aala, Simmba aala!”
More than ‘outshining’ our hero, these characters make Simmba roar louder and proclaim that he’s here to stay. The actor is quite capable of wooing an autorickshawala as effortlessly as the most cynical film critic. There’s a scene in the film where Ranveer Singh dances his way to a pub with the intention of closing it, which just might remind you of Sanjay Dutt from Thaanedaar and Anil Kapoor from Ram Lakhan.
To sum it up, Simmba shows the middle finger to the snooty critics with its unapologetic masala film treatment. ACP Sangram ‘Simmba’ Bhalerao is a character that surely deserves multiple sequels, just like Bajirao Singham. We are already waiting, Rohit Shetty. More so, because of the actor who makes an appearance as Veer Sooryavanshi. Let the Infinity War begin!
“The bigger they are the harder they fall!” goes the ancient proverb that could well be rephrased today as “The harder they fall, the more we rejoice”. Be it sportsperson (“Dhoni should retire now”), political leaders (“2019 elections is a shaky ground for Modi”) or the Khans (“Race 3, Thugs and now Zero…The Khan uncles should sit at home”), we love watching the giants fall.
Anand L. Rai’s latest offering, Zero is a classic example of our fascination to pull down films, oftentimes, without even watching them. Right from the time of a film’s release (They post their ‘instant reviews’ even during the interval, without even bothering to let the film sink in first) few self-proclaimed movie critics champion the cause of ‘saving people’s hard-earned money’, ensuring that they avoid films like Zero.
To begin with, Zero is one of the most ambitious Hindi films made this year, perhaps a notch above Thugs of Hindostan. It is a film where you’d find yourself marveling at the writer Himanshu Sharma’s audacity of mounting a massive platform for a dwarf with gigantic determination. Come to think of it, when was the last time a writer got so obsessed with his/her character? And how many directors would be willing to go the extra mile (light years?) to execute such lofty idea?
In a recent interview, Anand L. Rai said that Zero is his ‘graduation film’ and one couldn’t have agreed more, especially because he sets Zero in his comfort zone of ‘small-town story’ goes beyond the skies, quite literally. Such indulgence may or may not work for some, nevertheless the common ‘zero’ ground here is the character of Bauua Singh. Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t play this role, he lives every moment of it, and how!
Our films seldom have fictional character based stories, where everything revolves around a particular character. Zero can easily be called a 164-minute character sketch. Bauua is predictable at one instant and takes you by surprise in the next. He is unapologetic ally selfish and believes that God has done his worst with him and there is nothing for him to lose at any point of his life. There is a hidden angst within him that often surfaces when he does something crazy. This specially reflects in the scenes where he lavishly spends his father’s money. The nonchalant grin on his face while watching people running helter skelter to pocket the currency notes Bauua generously showers at them makes him look like a monk (who sold his father’s Ferrari).
Director Anand L. Rai creates a canvas where his characters always speak their minds and there is no room for pretense or sugary sweet melodrama. For instance, Bauua’s father, Ashok Singh (ably played by Tigmanshu Dhulia) doesn’t hesitate to advice Bauua’s prospective father-in-law to organise ticketed shows for people to behold their dwarf son-in-law. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is brilliant as Bauua’s best friend, Guddu and he is the one who triggers the ‘fandom’ of Bauua for his star crush, Babita.
Anushka Sharma’s Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder doesn’t mince words when she brings Bauua to an even plane of zero gravity and affirm, “Rishta baraabari ka ab hua hai Bauuey!” A scientist with cerebral palsy, Aafia is a character that you would feel for, not because of her disability, but for Bauua’s inability to love her. This is quite a feat to achieve in a film, especially where both the lead characters are disabled in a certain way, yet you see them as perfectly ‘normal’ people.
Katrina Kaif surprises you with her impeccable performance as an alcoholic star nursing an aching heart after her ex boyfriend (Abhay Deol) ditches her. Katrina’s character Babita doesn’t bat an (kohl-imbued) eyelid before telling her driver that she just cooked up her sob back-story for Bauua, whom she uses as a pet to move over her recent heartbreak.
R. Madhavan, despite being given a brief role, makes you wonder why we don’t get to see him more often on screen. Even his character, Srinivasan, Aafia’s fiancé and fellow scientist, in a scene admits that “I don’t know you love Bauua or not, but at this age, I couldn’t have cared any less.”
Such matter-of-factly tone across all the characters of Zero is quite commendable, which makes them believable. It is indeed no wonder that the film’s dialogues stand out, be it ‘Plot dekhne ke paise thodi lagte hain’, ‘Rishta baraabari ka ab hua’, to ‘Zindagi kaatni kisey thhi, hamein to jeeni thi’.
Ajay-Atul’s music is a major highlight of Zero, especially the song, Mere naam tu, wonderfully penned by Irshad Kamil. The signature style of opera with a tinge of Western classical of this composer duo (Sairat and Dhadak) manifests itself in its full glory in this song. Cinematographer Manu Anand beautifully captures the song’s essence, while editor Hemal Kothari adroitly cuts the film to perfection. ‘Mere naam tu’ doubles up as a leitmotif for the lead characters, Aafia and Bauua.
The obligatory post-interval song, Issaqbaazi is worth your seeti, with all those bells and whistles of an item song. Interestingly, the ‘items’ happen to be two Khans, Salman and miniature SRK. The ensemble of stars making cameos here is quite believable. After all, film parties are ought to be star-studded. Among the stars, Sri Devi, as if inspired by the director’s premonition, waves us goodbye on the silver screen. Sigh.
At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I would like to proclaim Zero as Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Mera Naam Joker’, where different characters come into his life, only to make him realize the truths that lie within the dark recesses of his mind. And mind you, ‘Mera Naam Joker’ was trashed by all and sundry when it was released and it also had an ensemble of reigning stars. Okay I’d better stop here now.
Having said so, Zero does have its set of flaws, including a bit forced histrionics by Anushka Sharma’s character, where she seems to have forgotten she has cerebral palsy and suddenly remembers to slur her speech and twist her mouth, blame it on the close-up shots (The camera never lies). The last portion of the film, too feels like a bit of drag, especially the song, Tanha hua, which could have easily been chopped off. Bauua’s mannerisms seem to disappear towards the film’s end and you get to see Shah Rukh Khan talking and behaving like Shah Rukh Khan.
Despite its flaws, Zero ensures that Bauua follows you all the way to your home. Each scene featuring Bauua makes you marvel at the technological prowess of our times that make such storytelling possible and believable.
By his inherent nature, Bauua refuses to leave you until you insult him enough. Perhaps that’s the reason our critics are pooh-poohing Zero, as the only way to get rid of Bauua is to insult him and drive him away. He’d put it as, “Hum jiske peeche lag jaate hain, life bana dete hain!” Well, one isn’t sure about ‘life bana dena’, but Bauua would have asked the self-proclaimed critics to ‘get a life!’
Remember those naani-ki-kahaanis of your childhood days? Stories riddled with mythological creatures, gods and goddesses, caves, monsters, ruins and treasure troves – tales that ended with a mandatory moral lesson, frightening you enough to never repeat the mistake that their characters make. Director Rahi Anil Barve’s Tumbbad invokes many a memory of such long-forgotten tales of Indian origin, way before the dungeons, dragons and wiz kids took over our imagination of fairytale plots.
Some films are like gentle breeze. You experience for a while, feel good about it and then walk out of the auditorium with a smile on your face. Director Nitin Kakkar’s Mitron is one such film, which has a high entertainment quotient with undercurrents of an important message relevant for our times.
Adapted from the Telugu movie, Pelli Choopulu (Matchmaking), Mitron has been written by Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam, the Writer-Director of Pelli Choopulu, which is a story revolving around a lazy guy down on his luck, who accidentally bumps into a girl and this meeting eventually changes his life. The overall theme of Mitron is the ‘arrangement’ of arranged marriage and how it makes almost every Indian parent believe that their good-for-nothing son will ‘settle down’ once he’s married.
Actor Jackky Bhagnani is quite a revelation in Mitron. He approaches his role of Jay with a distinct restraint, which makes you care for his character. As a discerning audience, you might see what’s coming in the next scene, owing to the film’s predictable premise, but the actors, coupled with witty dialogues by Sharib Hashmi, take you by surprise.
Kriti Kamra, the popular television actress, makes her debut here and her role of Avni is commendably well-written. The character of Avni has broad strokes of vulnerability along with streaks of feminism and the writer Tharun Bascker Dhaassyam knows where to draw the line, especially in a light-hearted film like Mitron.
Another debut worth mentioning here is of Pratik Gandhi, the poster boy of Gujarati cinema (Bey Yaar, Wrong Side Raju, Love Ni Bhavai and the recently released Ventilator), as well as theatre (Mohan No Masalo, Hoon Chandrakant Bakshi, Sir Sir Sarla). Having watched his work, one could see the shades of his character in ‘Hoon Chandrakant Bakhshi’ in the scene of Mitron, where Pratik Gandhi brags about his ‘punctuality’ to Kriti Kamra.
The actor shines bright as Jai’s friend, Raunak, who never misses a chance to pass a caustic remark on the ‘frankness’ of Mohan Kapoor’s character. Shivam Parikh is another actor from Gujarati theatre who’s making a debut in Hindi films here, who is perfectly cast as ‘that silent spectator friend’ in your coterie.
Mitron, despite being a decent film seems to have missed the mark in its screenplay that could have been more engaging and endearing, more so, when it charts the ‘Chef’ route. The backstory of Kriti Kamra about her failed relationship with Prateik Babbar has been shoddily done and doesn’t tug at your heartstrings the way it ought to.
Mitron was promoted as a zero-brainer comedy, which might have done more harm than good. It’s an entertaining film that makes a social commentary on the way Indian parents raise their children. The confrontation scene of Jackky Bhagnani and Kriti Kamra’s father towards the film’s end is indeed a defining moment of the film.
Manoj Kumar Khatoi beautifully captures the ‘Pol’ of Gujarat and Sachindra Vats deserves a special mention here for his sleek editing. Not a single scene seems stretched in Mitron, be it emotional or comical. Music by Sameer Uddin lends a character to the film’s screenplay, especially the cooking videos for YouTube, the montage scene of Food Truck’s success story, and the closing song, Kamariya.
To sum it up, Mitron, is an entertaining food truck serving you dollops of entertainment and some food for thought.
The ‘thehraav’ that has been missing in our films since days of yore finally makes a ‘comeback’ with Nandita Das’ latest offering, Manto. The old world charm finds resonance in the film’s scene, where Saadat Hasan Manto (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his wife Safia (Rasika Dugal) are sitting in a park and weaving a silly story around a couple seated opposite to them. Devoid of the ‘Mantoiyat’ school of thought, this lighter moment from the film still establishes Manto as a sharp observer who can spin a tale around the world he inhabits.
Is it a Tanu Weds Manu rehash? Is it an upgraded version of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Woh Saat Din? Is it a story inspired by Amrita Pritam’s life or is it based on Manmarziyaan’s writer, Kanika Dhillon? Like Clark Gable’s immortal response to Scarlett O’Hara in the movie, ‘Gone with the wind’, after watching Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Manmarziyaan’, one would respond with an indifferent, “Frankly dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Sixty minutes into the film, and you know where this messy love triangle is heading forth and you already find yourself losing interest halfway. You neither root for the blue-dyed DJ Vickey Sandhu (Played to perfection by Vicky Kaushal), fiery and feisty Rumi Bagga (A tailor-made role for Tapsee Pannu, the latest flagbearer of feminist fervor), nor do you give two hoots to the calm and composed Rajbir ‘Robbie’ Bhatia (Abhishek Bachchan in yet-another NRI role). It’s probably the most ‘thakela’ love triangle you’d ever want to be entangled into. Nah, this ain’t no rant. So, stay.
To begin with, you find two characters i.e. Rumi and DJ Vickey ‘Sand’hu like Munna and Mili of Rangeela, who’re constantly at loggerheads with each other, yet are as inseparable as Siamese twins or rather those twin dancing sisters who keep popping up during song sequences and leave you asking for more. In this love story, the lovers seem to derive some sort of high while fornicating behind banging doors (no pun intended).
Along comes the good guy, Robbie – the Ramji type character, who carries the mantle of ‘Goodman di laaltein’ forward, after his predecessors like Vanraj (Ajay Devgn in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) and Manu (R. Madhavan in Tanu Weds Manu). He instantly falls in love with Rumi and learns about Rumi ka Romeo, yet croons, ‘My heart will go on’ and hangs on with his feeling for her, voluntarily assuming the role of Option B, at the risk of ending up as a Phone-a-friend, as his Pa, Big B would like to term it.
The drivel goes on, until you find yourself concluding, ‘Okay, the girl is fiery, the guy is commitment-phobic and the NRI guy is Ramji-type. We get it, what next?’ The three characters are like three trains running parallel on their own tracks – never do they shift tracks. Halfway through, you assure yourself, ‘It’s an Anurag Kashyap film so there has to be some grey shades to the NRI’s character, which he does hint at, right before the interval, plus didn’t the film begin with the song, Grey wala shade?’ So, you hang on till the end, desperately hoping for some grey wala shade. Tough luck, sigh.
The only respite you find in Manmarziyaan, apart from its mind-blowing music, is the excellent performance by its lead characters. Vicky Kaushal goes on to prove that he’s here to stay for a really long time, perhaps snatching away crowns of the high and mighty. You wonder whether he’s the same guy you watched in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, Masaan, Raghav Raman 2.0, Raazi, Lust Stories or the recent Sanju.
Tapsee Pannu, fresh from her fabulous performance in Mulk, is in complete form here. Any actress worth her acting chops would bet her bottom dollar on such a brilliantly fleshed-out character of Rumi Bagga. Her role is loosely modeled around Amrita Pritam, who was an orphan at young age, smoked leftover ciggies of her then-lover Sahir Ludhianvi, got married to a stable guy, Imroz and fell in love with him. Tapsee makes her presence felt in every frame she is featured in, despite the other hard-nailed actors around her.
Abhishek Bachchan, though a terrific actor who wowed us with his performance in ‘Yuva’, ‘Guru’, ‘Bunty aur Babli’, ‘Bluffmaster’ and ‘Raavan’ seems to be stuck in the rut of playing NRI with a heart of gold. Manmarziyaan was supposed to be his ‘comeback’ film, but the film adds insult to his injury with the ‘NRI desperate to get hitched’ role that’s making him comfortably numb. Ironically, the actor reasons that he took a break because he thought he was doing the same kind of roles, of late. Well, the bitter truth remains that the only actors to benefit from Manmarziyaan are Vicky Kaushal and Tapsee Pannu. Heck, even those twin dancers are sure bag some more films, perhaps in a Remo film.
The music by Amit Trivedi provides the much-needed breather from the sluggish screenplay written by Kanika Dhillon. Tracks like ‘Dariya’, ‘Grey wala shade’, ‘Dhyaanchand’, ‘Chhonch ladiya’, and a brilliant unplugged version of ‘Dariya’ by Deveshi Sahgal are going to stay on your playlist for a time inversely proportional to the time till you’d remember Manmarziyaan, a forgettable film with an unforgettable soundtrack.
To sum it up, Manmarziyaan oscillates between ‘Pyaar’ and ‘Fyaar’ (Desi version of ‘Friends with benefits’), just like Karan Johar has been relentlessly ping-ponging between ‘Pyaar’ and ‘Dosti’. Commitment phobic man-child lover, confused heroine with a feminist streak, golden-hearted sacrificial lamb husband material – We’ve had it enough. It’s high time our filmmakers take a leaf from the opening lines of ‘Grey wala shade’ song penned by Shellee: ‘Zamaanaa hai badla, mohabbat bhi badli, ghisey-pitey version, maaro update…’