The podcast brings to you latest film reviews from Bollywood. And without any star rating, Monika Rawal, the Entertainment Editor of HT City, gives you a detailed lowdown on what works for her and what doesn't and what can you expect from the film.
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Ajeeb Daastaans | Jaideep Ahlawat | Nushrratt Bharuccha | Shefali Shah
Ajeeb Dastaans is an anthology of four films that do not revolve around any common theme. Perhaps that's why each of the stories in Ajeeb Daastaans gets a chance to stand out and make an impact without the baggage of being compared to each other. Kayode Irani's Ankahi stars Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul, Neeraj Ghyawan's Geeli Pucchi features Aditi Rao Hydari and Konkona Sen Sharma, Khilauna by Raj Mehta is led by Nushrat Bharucha and Abhishek Bannerjee along with child actor Inayat Verma and Majnu by Shashank Khaitan has Jaideep Ahlawat, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Armaan Ralhan in lead roles. A heady mix of flawed characters, layered emotions, fragile relationships and unexplained desires come together to highlight and explore stories of domestic abuse, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, casteism and much more. Interestingly, none of the directors force feed their version on to you, but leaves it the audience to interpret the characters as well as the climax. Through a compelling storytelling, Ajeeb Daastaans is a stark take on complexities of human behaviour, and it explores a plethora of emotions while narrating contrasting stories. Ajeeb Daastaans is streaming on Netflix.
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar | Parineeti Chopra | Arjun Kapoor | Neena Gupta
Touted to be a suspense thriller and a dark comedy, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar somehow just misses the plot despite having so much to explore. Its lazy writing and slow pace ruin its chances of clicking with the audience. Director Dibakar Bannerjee's film touches upon bank scams and the elderly people who are victimised by them, an idea that had potential, but the narrative goes haywire. Starring Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor in lead roles, the first 15 minutes set high hopes and you think you're in for a lot of suspenseful storytelling, but the film turns out to be a series of repetitive events and boring twists -- just like the deceptive title. The story revolves around a successful banker named Sandeep Walia, aka Sandy, (Chopra) is escaping from her boss who's out to get her. A suspended cop from Haryana, Satinder Dahiya, aka Pinky, (Kapoor) comes to her rescue. Will they manage to outrun the goons and corrupt cops? Will Pinky be able to save Sandeep's life? That's what the film is all about. Chained to a mediocre script, some seasoned actors including Neena Gupta, Raghubir Yadav and Jaideep Ahlawat bring their flair. By the end of wish, you just wish Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar had stuck to the suspense thriller genre and it might have worked.
Mumbai Saga | John Abraham | Emraan Hashmi | Mahesh Manjrekar
A quintessential action drama directed by Sanjay Gupta, Mumbai Saga stars John Abraham as Amartya Rao and Emraan Hashmi as encounter specialist Vijay Savarkar, along with a stellar lineup of cast including Gulshan Grover, Suniel Shetty, Mahesh Manjrekar, Amole Gupte, Prateik Babbar, Rohit Roy and Samir Soni. Inspired by true events, Mumbai Saga is set in the 90s, when Mumbai was Bombay -- the land of Bhaus and Bhais. The film narrates the story of a common man, Amartya Rao (Abraham) who resorts to violence and turns into a menacing gangster who takes on the mafia, corrupt politicians, cops, and local goons, to safeguard his younger brother Arjun (Babbar), after Arjun is nearly killed by a gang. Even though Mumbai Saga is more of a visual spectacle with all the action happening onscreen, the heavyweight dialogues are just as impressive. Even if you don't like heavy-duty action flicks, watch this one as an experiment and you may just end up liking it.
25: Tribhanga | Kajol | Tanvi Azmi | Mithila Palkar
A story of a dysfunctional family of three generations of mothers and daughters, Tribhanga explores the complexities, emotions and dynamics of three generations of mothers and daughters. Directed by actor-director Renuka Shahahe and starring Tanvi Azmi, Kajol and Mithila Palkar in lead roles, the film pushes you to re-examine your relationship with your mothers. Contrary to the notion that moms know everything and they can never be wrong Tribhanga tells you that it is absolutely fine for a mother to make wrong choices and no child should ever judge them. But at the same time it also emphasizes on the need to have a better communication with your mother. The plot revolves around Kajol, plays a famous actor and Odissi dancer Anuradha Apte and she resents her mother Nayan, played by Tanvi for not giving her a childhood that one should get. Adding to the dynamics is Anu's daughter Masha played by Mithila whose bond with her mother has its own journey. Tribhanga is about how their life choices transform their relationship with each other and what happens when self-realizations happen. The film is now streaming of Netflix.
24: AK vs AK | Anil Kapoor | Anurag Kashyap | Vikramaditya Motwane
Starring Anil Kapoor and Anurag Starring in lead roles playing their real parts of that of an actor and director in reel life, AK vs AK is your conventional Bollywood masala film, and no, you can't afford to leave your brains behind while watching it. It's made intelligently, has a clever screenplay, even smarter direction and some ace performances that make it a wholesome watch. Kapoor's and Kashyap's camaraderie even while having a spat, looks so real that you are left to wonder if they're actually venting out for some old grudge or are they doing it just for the film. Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, AK vs AK is an edge of the seat thriller that makes you guessing what's next and eventually treats you with the fabulously written climax. It also features Sonam Kapoor and Harsh Vardhan Kapoor in supporting roles. It's currently streaming on Netflix.
23: Coolie No. 1 | Varun Dhawan | Sara Ali Khan | Paresh Rawal
A remake of 1995 Govinda and Karisma Kapoor starrer by the same name, Coolie No. 1 is directed by David Dhawan who also directed the original. Starring Varun Dhawan (as Raju Coolie and Kuwar Raj Pratap Singh) and Sara Ali Khan (Sarah Rozzario) in lead roles, the film is old wine in new bottle with both Varun and Sara adding their own tadka, but it doesn't taste anything like the original. Not to say that original was a cult in any way but for that era, it kind of worked with Govinda's effortless comic timing and wit. Switch to 2020, I'm sorry but such blatant frame-to-frame remakes aren't going to work. It's way too over-the-top for today's audiences and proves that not everything can be recycled. Even the music that has been remixed, it would have been best left untouched. The supporting cast includes Paresh Rawal (Jeffery Rozzario), Jaaved Jaffery (Pandit Jai Kishen), Shikha Talsania (Anjali Rozzario), Sahil Vaid (Deepak) and Rajpal Yadav (Pinto) and other than Rawal, no one brings anything new to the table that's worth mentioning. While Rumi Jaffery's screenplay has no head and tail that's evident from highly misplaced songs and abrupt action sequences that come in out of the blue, it's Farhad Samji's utterly ridiculous and mindless dialogues that are a put-off. If anything is good, it's perhaps the fact that Coolie No.1 doesn't have anything vulgar, no cuss words, no double meaning jokes, so it can be well enjoyed with your family. But mind you, don't put any logic into it because they didn't. The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime Videos.