Thursday, December 1, 2016

DEAR ZINDAGI : MY THOUGHTS


DISCLAIMER - THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS AND IS LONG, THOUGH NOT AS LONG AS ASHUTOSH GOWARIKAR'S FILMS. 

1. A drunk conversation between friends is on its way. Kaira suddenly announces, “I like people who smell nice.” To which her friend Jackie reacts, “I hate smelly people.”

2. As she comes to terms with her so called breakup, we see Kaira stuffing noodles at a roadside joint called “Taj Chinese” and then offering the rest of it to a small boy. But in the background, the director subtly places Eros cinema and a poster of “Ki & Ka”, directed by her better half.

3. During a conversation in the midst of the therapy session, Dr Jehangir Khan casually mentions the phrase “English Vinglish”, the director’s debut film.

4. For the first time, something which was an integral part of everyone’s childhood is given importance – I am talking about Tinkle and Suppandi.

5. Kaira’s friends love her, but that doesn’t stop them from teasing her by calling her short story as the longest project of the century.

6. A somewhat changed Kaira suddenly sneaks into her parents’ room and forces herself between them, tightly hugging her mom, while her dad sleeps looking the other way with a faint smile over his face.

Such subtleties and touching moments are aplenty in “Dear Zindagi”, and that is what makes viewing it such a beautiful experience.

Gauri Shinde is a woman who believes in converting simplicity into extraordinariness on screen. She did that in her directorial debut and she does it once again.

And so we are introduced to Alia Bhatt’s Kaira, a headstrong and superconfused cinematographer, who looks as if she is a character from an Imtiaz Ali movie. Her uncle thinks that she needs to do “something more respectable”, but her parents don’t object to her profession. Well basically, not all is rosy rosy between the lady and her parents.



She smashes pickle bottles on the floor of a supermarket because the brand shares its name with her ex boyfriend.
She bites down chillies while the fact dawns upon her that her boyfriend has gotten engaged to someone else.
She types entire messages on her phone, only to delete them at the last moment.
She returns to her flat after days and the first thing she does is open one of the many parcels, take out a novel, inhale its fragrance and start reading it.
She turns things upside down from an orderly manner – be it “K” lettered pillows, miniature rickshaw models or refrigerator magnets.
She gets ready to sleep the way a woman gets ready to go to parties.

She isn’t a character you will instantly fall in love with or totally relate to, but slowly you fall for her, primarily because of the convincing performance. And so when she decides to see a “Dimaag ka doctor”, we aren’t at all surprised. And we don’t mind – because Shahrukh Khan is playing the role of the psychologist. It is the chemistry which immediately strikes a chord. It is beautiful. The way their relationship is handled by the director with utmost sensitivity is indeed commendable.



The therapy sessions are brilliant in themselves. While Dr Khan belts out lovely metaphor, stories and quotes, it is the ambience that wins you over. The creaking chair theory for instance is very well done. The way Alia almost falls when she sits in that special chair is too hilarious.
“It only creaks when you like someone, but can’t do anything about it”, explains Dr Khan.
Some of their interactions are superb. Infact they uplift the film to a large extent.

Robert Frost taught us in school through his poems to always choose the road less travelled. But Dr Khan tells us to do the exact opposite. Why not take the road more frequented, when you aren’t mentally prepared for the tough option? And even we marvel at this wonderful thought, and wonder why it never occurred to us till now?

Another lovely sequence is the “Kursi” wala sequence. As SRK hops from sofa to chair to chair, he tells us that life indeed is a musical chair when it comes to choosing the right life partner. And ironically, Gauri Shinde brings in a new hero in the final scene, who owns a furniture shop.

The way Dr Khan slowly touches Kaira’s raw nerve is beautifully done. On seeing a shivering Kaira, he casually comments, “Sometimes people shiver kyunki unhe darr lagta hai.” And that is so very true, something which happens to even us at times.

The manner in which he explains Kaira that she is not dirty, cheap and fast, but smart, dear and superfine is well done.

There is this scene where he asks Kaira to choose her top 5 people. And so quickly, Kaira comes up with 4 names. She is sure about all four of them. It doesn’t matter to her that one of them is her maid, with whom she shares such a special bond. When was the last time we saw such a small but lovely bond on screen – that of a person and her maid?



It isn’t a perfect movie. It was never going to be. I had feared it would be over preachy, but thankfully that never happens. However, I have my issues with the first half. It could have been better. It felt slow at places, disjointed at places and Alia’s character was too difficult to like.

Secondly, the entire flashback story though nicely done doesn’t feel believable at all times. I mean, the parents went abroad because of a failure back home. Even there, the father hardly tasted any success. And then after few years, we know that they live in a villa which is nothing less than super posh. Who offered them such a fruitful partnership?

Thirdly, I had a problem with Ali Zafar’s character. It wasn’t needed at all. It unnecessarily bought along with it few dull moments between the two that had zero chemistry, and also two full songs, which thankfully were good. However I liked how their relationship ultimately shaped out – being friends.

MUSIC

The music is the soul of the movie. Amit Trivedi manages to create a feel good album with each song sounding and appearing in sync with the film’s narrative.

Where he scores is the lovely background score. Ever wondered why many people dislike RGV’s films? Because most of them have loud background scores, probably due to the belief that a loud score increases the impact.

Amit does the exact opposite. He creates a serene background score which suits the mood of the film perfectly. And then there are those scenes with absolutely zero background music. Talent is not only knowing when and where to insert background score. Talent is also knowing when NOT to put it. 

Those lovely discussions between Kaira and Dr Khan seem so perfect. Those moments of realizations are sans any music, and then followed by beautiful soft cues – it only enhances the magic of an already well written scene.

(Read my music review HERE)


PERFORMANCES

The casting is wonderful. As Fatty / Fatima, Ira Dubey is very good. She has less role but makes the most of it. That scene when she runs to the washroom and everyone gets away from the food is a brilliantly directed and acted one.

The rest of the supporting cast is apt. As “Kiddo”, Rohit saraf is good. So is Gautmik as Ganju.

Of the three men, Kunal Kapoor is the best. He convincingly plays his part. Angad Bedi hasn’t much to do. Ali Zafar is good. He does a fine job both in the singing as well as acting department, but as I said, I simply felt his character wasn’t needed.

But the one who stands out among the entire supporting cast is Yashaswini Dayama a.k.a “Jackie”. She is awesome. She is supercute, very emotive, makes you fall for her instantly. We all have that one cute bubbly talkative friend in our group. Jackie is THAT person. Be it her drunken act or when Kaira wakes her up and embraces her, she simply wins you over.
Remember “Boms” from “Jaane tu ya jaane na”? I was reminded of her on seeing Jackie. She is one actress I would love to see more on screen in future.



The movie wouldn’t have worked had someone else been cast in place of Shahrukh Khan. And that is no exaggeration. As Jahangir Khan a.k.a “JUG”, it is difficult to put in words what SRK does. This is not a fanboy speaking, mind you. I have been an ardent admirer but never a crazy fan, but I always felt that post Swades and Chak De, he had gotten lost in playing over the top roles. But SRK has always worked better whenever he has underplayed his roles; whenever he has refrained from hamming during emotional scenes.

Here, as a psychologist, he is brilliant. He is literally the “Knight in shining armour” for Kaira. He is in total control of everything. When he is on screen, you have no option but to be completely engrossed. Yes, he underplays it and he does it bloody well. I mean, it is a bold decision to play the second lead in a film dominated by an actress much younger and junior to her. I won’t call it an extended cameo. He is very much one of the two leading characters of the film.


I remember joking and teasing a diehard SRK fan sometime back that even after 20 years, we’ll be complaining that “When will SRK return to playing character defined roles? The last I remember was Chak De india. (Wink)”.
Happily, now “Dear Zindagi” can be added to that list.



But the entire load of the film rests on the shoulders of that one person who is definitely the future of Indian cinema. Alia Bhatt is superlative. There is something so magical about her screen presence that you can’t help but get floored by her. After “Highway”, this is easily her finest performance; maybe even at par with “Highway”.

Be it the way she tries to obey the task of talking to both her parents for ten minutes each or the way she hides the timer just for those extra five minutes of the session – she is fantastic and flawless. The emotional outburst in front of her family members is the icing on the cake. It immediately reminded me of the climax scene of “Highway”, only here she is better. And there is something about the way she acts during the emotional scenes. That combination of her flaring nostrils and facial expressions is enough to move anyone. Similar is the ending scene when she breaks down outside Dr Khan’s office. It is a delightful mixture of tears and smiles, leaving us with somewhat similar emotions. Her performance is a sure shot award winner, and with “Udta Punjab” also this year, she shouldn’t have any problems winning all the awards this year.



The final fifteen minutes according to me were necessary. A lot of people didn’t like the fact that the director tried to explain every single detail, but the last meeting between Kaira and Dr Khan is such a well enacted, well written and well emoted scene. However melodramatic it may sound, our Indian audience always considers the possibility of a relationship between the two characters. And by relationship, I don’t mean one of the many relationships Jug tells to Kaira about. I mean a romantic one. There are always people who come out of the theatre remarking, “End mein hero heroine toh alag hi rahein.” It is this mentality of the audience which Gauri proves wrong. In her own words, Genius is about knowing when to stop.

And so when a very glum Kaira fumbles reaches for her purse and awkwardly shakes hands with Jug, you wish there was an embrace. And as if obliging your, we get a lovely and heart wrenching final embrace which seems so right.

As the ending credits roll, I try to recreate the mental picture of all the lovely items in Jug’s wonderful home.



I wish that in the end Kaira would have sat on that chair and it wouldn’t have creaked.

To sum it, I know I haven’t come out watching a perfect movie or a “slice of life” movie as few people like to put it. But I come out feeling refreshed and good. I come out having learnt few small but important lessons of life. I come out with more respect for my “Top 5” people. I come out with more admiration and respect for my parents who gave me such a lovely childhood.
How much more could Gauri Shinde have done! Thank you so much!

And yes, every single time I go to a beach now, I am surely going to play Kabaddi with the samundar.
Love you Zindagi…


P.S - I have a complaint - Why was there no Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Ae zindagi gale laga le’?”

Sunday, November 20, 2016

MUSIC REVIEW : DEAR ZINDAGI



“English Vinglish” was a lovely film. Infact, it was one of the finest films to have come out in recent years from Bollywood. Debutant√® director Gauri Shinde managed to tug all the right emotional chords with a gem of a movie.

So in a way it is not incorrect to have huge expectations from her second directorial outing, especially with a stellar leading cast.
Also, since the different “TAKES” of the movie have started coming out, there is a lot of freshness and positive vibe in all of them. Be it the camaraderie between Alia Bhatt and SRK or the lovely music, everything about this movie seems right.
Let us have a look at the soundtrack of the film.   

LOVE YOU ZINDAGIis vintage Amit Trivedi. Right from the moment the opening music plays, you know that this song will put you at ease. To add to the innocence, we have Jasleen Kaur Royal doing the vocals with her trademark cute voice. She is so apt for the song, the setting as well as Alia’s character.
The icing on the cake is the title loop which hooks you completely. There is some brilliant use of saxophone and chorus which immediately brings a smile on your face. Kausar Munir’s lyrics are nursery rhym-ish, and sound lovely.
We are reminded of the title song of “English Vinglish” at places. Infact I even tried singing “Badla nazara” after the saxophone interlude, and it sounded perfect.



There is another CLUB VERSIONwhich is basically a remix and meant for the clubs. Alia Bhatt is good and sounds better as the song progresses. Overall, the innocent charm of the original song is lost here (Obviously!) but nevertheless it is good audio and dancing material.

Like “English Vinglish”, I would have loved a second version of the title song in Amit Trivedi’s voice. That would have been great!


JUST GO TO HELL DILcarries the trend of English song titles further. Kausar Munir is top notch with the lyrics and Sunidhi Chauhan aces in the singing department.
Sunidhi is at that point in her career where she no longer needs to sing a large quantity of songs, but instead select qualitatively superior songs. Probably like Sonu nigam has been singing since the last few years. After that lovely song from “Akira”, here too Sunidhi is fantastic, poignant and shows beautiful variations as she goes from low to high scale.
Amit’s composition is well, not outstanding. But the beautiful arrangements with piano and violins, as well as a nice video help the song a lot.



TAREEFON SEhas a very dejavu-ish feel, but I cannot place where I have heard a similar AT composition before. Once again, we have the gorgeous sax taking centre stage as Arijit Singh croons Kausar Munir’s lovely lyrics. I especially loved the lyrics in the antara. The entire idea of a male person singing a song describing a typical lady appealed a lot to me.
Arijit singh is near flawless. He has mastered the art of such soft songs. However, I felt that this was a song where Ash king would have worked better. Those long “Tuuuu” renditions would have been better with him behind the mic.



TU HI HAI is one of the nicest songs this year. Just like the film, there is a very feel – good feel to the song. Kausar Munir’s lyrics are awesome. Arijit Singh is simply brilliant. Both the lyricist and singer are at their very best towards the end when the tune escalates – the diary, guitar wala portion.

Once again, there is a strong dejavu feel to the song. Infact the title loop “Tu hi hai” is almost similar to the title loop of the song “Bas main aur tu” from the film “Akaash Vaani”.

Amit Trivedi’s arrangements are subtle and work wonders. The entire composition with its arrangements is very much in sync to the mood of the movie. By the way, am I the only one who heard traces of Jal Tarang/spoon-in-glass in between?



LET’S BREAK UP - The opening rhyhm sounds like that of “G Phaad ke” from “Go Goa Gone”, but soon the song assumes a very retro feel with a strong reminiscence to “Bang Bang” ka title song.
Kausar Munir’s lyrics okayish, sounding more like a rant of a pissed off boyfriend. I know ultimately that is what the song is all about, but I found something amiss.

To say that Vishal Dadlani rocked the song would be an understatement. He “owns” it. He has mastered this particular genre of singing and the attitude with which he delivers each song is commendable.

Amit Trivedi’s composition is average. Overall, it is a decent song and should work better with a video, but I found it average. Maybe I couldn’t help comparing it with the other breakup song released recently from the same production house.


AE ZINDAGI TAKE 1is the best thing about the album. Without a doubt. Even after 23 years, this song by Ilaiyaraaja still sounds as fresh as before. With brilliant arrangements by Amit Trivedi, this song is a breath of fresh air and a welcome change compared to the other horrible remakes / remixes being churned out nowadays.
Arijit Singh is absolutely mindblowing here. He nails this one. I cannot help but imagine how would it have been if Arijit would have been around when those “Instant Karma” albums released.
It would be improper to compare this version with Suresh Wadkar’s original version. Both are brilliant in their own ways. But why only one antara? Why no “Chhota sa saaya tha?”
BTW, Ilaiyaraaja's music always seems to work for this wife – husband director duo!



TAKE 2 is a more techno version, a remix to be more precise. Alia Bhatt is good, but here her voice is too much processed. I think she could have avoided this one.

OVERALL, “DEAR ZINDAGI” lives up to the expectations; atleast my expectations. I had anticipated a feel good OST with some of the songs in the background and some with nice decent videos. And I am certain that most of the songs will work well with the movie.

Not Amit Trivedi’s best, but yet lovely, likeable, hummable and with quite good repeat value. The album enhances the positive vibe spread by the movie promos and the song videos.

MY RATING8 / 10  


Friday, November 4, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : "THE PESHWA - THE LION AND THE STALLION"



The history of the Mughals and the Marathas has always been a subject of personal fascination for me. Right from the time our school teachers taught us about Akbar, Chhatrapati Shivaji, I knew that there would be many other less known heroes during these dynasties.
And then came Sanjay Leela Bhansali who wished to make a film on Bajirao Mastani. For a decade, the idea remained just an idea, before finally being converted into a beautiful celluloid experience in 2015.

The best part about “THE PESHWA” is that debutante author Ram Sivasankaran gives you an indepth glimpse into what happened before Mastani appeared. Infact, the book ends with Mastani’s appearance. I had always wondered about how Bajirao Bhat became “THE PESHWA BAJIRAO”, and Ram does a perfect job in responding to my doubts.

PLOT

Set in the 18th century, the novel describes the rivalry between the powerful Mughal empire and the headstrong Maratha empire.

Things are set into motion when the Nizam Ul Mulk of the Mughal empire plans to kill the peshwa of the Maratha dynasty – Balaji Vishvanath Bhat. However, Bhat foils the much ambitious plan of the Nizam. However, little does he know that the Nizam would avenge his defeat in a much deadlier manner that anyone would have expected.

The death of the peshwa due to an illness results in the throning of young “boy” Bajirao Bhat as the new Peshwa. However things aren’t that easy. He has to prove that he is a chip off the old block, at the same time wage against all the conspiracies occurring within his own kingdom, before finally coming face to face to the Nizam.


WRITING & CONTENT

The book shows that tremendous amount of research has been done. Ram’s writing and command over language is brilliant. His English is flawless. The language is not as simple as the one we find in those romcom Indian novels of today, and that is such a welcome change. It only enhances the seriousness of the plot.
It was a lovely experience knowing the characters of Bajirao, Kashibai and the others in such depth.


POSITIVES

The best thing about the novel is its lovely characterizations. Be it Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, the Bajirao,  Kashibai or the characters of Bajirao’s friends Holkar, Scindia, or the characters of the antagonists Dabhade and the Nizam – every character is sketched brilliantly.

Here is a plot where the protagonists and the antagonists receive equal weightage. Be it the Nizam’s flashback or Dabhade’s post war portions with his family, they all leave a lasting impression on you.
Kashibai’s character is lovely. We feel that longing, fear she feels for her husband when he is at war.

The pace of the book is another plus point. It is tightly edited, with no unnecessary sub plots or boring dialogues. Infact, the way the character of the Maratha baby brought up by a Mughal soldier is developed, it only build up the suspense in an already gripping novel.

Thirdly, the entire strategical plots during the Bhopal attack are wonderfully planned.

Fourthly, the book ends at the right point. In a two book series, it is always important to make sure the readers remain eager for the second concluding book. With the introduction of Mastani’s character on the last page, we only wish to read soon about the much talked story of Bajirao Mastani.


NEGATIVES

I couldn’t find any loopholes or any negative points in the book. Only, the print in the book could have been slightly bigger.  


OVERALL, the novel “THE PESHWA – THE LION AND THE STALLION” is one of the finest fictional novels on history in recent times. Author Ram Sivasankaran is a brilliant author, and he deserves all the credit for this thouroughly researched, engaging and flawless debut novel.
I am eagerly looking forward to the concluding part.

P.S – I received a copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.

   

Saturday, September 10, 2016

MUSIC REVIEW : WRONG SIDE RAJU



It has been almost one and a half years now. I still remember the date. It was Valentine’s Day. After trying to contact them for several months, they had finally agreed. As I make way towards my destination, I get goosebumps. And then I finally reach their studio.

The first thing I do when I reach their studio is ask them, “Can I put my phone in charging please?”
They smile and say yes.

It is not every day that you get to meet one of your favorite composers, singers, lyricists. But that day was very special.

Jigar Saraiya and Priya Saraiya make such a cute couple. We talk about their upbringing, how they came into the music industry. They ask me how come a doctor like me is so much into music and movies.

Then they show me their recording room, and I was like “WOW”. I still remember that big Apple monitor. So this is where all the beautiful music comes from.

18 months later, as I listen to “Wrong Side Raju”, I again remember that room and wonder, “So this is where all these awesome songs were recorded, isn’t it?”

“SATRANGI RE” is that love song which the Gujarati film industry has been always waiting for. And who else but Arijit Singh could have done justice to such a song?

With dreamy vocals by Dawn Cordo to begin, we are treated to some beautiful guitar (Saloni Mehta), soon giving way to Arijit Singh’s flawless voice. His diction is quite good, but ultimately it is the “Oh – so - GORGEOUS” tune and the brilliant lyrics which make this song an outstanding one.

Niren Bhatt’s lyrics are simple and beautiful, describing the feelings of a person who is madly in love. Sachin – Jigar’s lovely tune does the rest of the magic. It is a restrained melody, mind you. Never does it try to be too over ambitious, nor too heavy on the instruments. The calmness is the USP. As for Arijit singh, he makes a perfect Gujarati debut. We definitely want more of you.



 “ZINDABAD RE” is Vishal Dadlani’s show all the way. He totally nails it. His diction is perfect. The tune is super catchy, the arrangements are mind blowing, and the lyrics are very creative, relevant and apt. there is not a single dull moment in the song. I loved it.



“AMDAVAD RE” is another version of the same song. The tune remains the same, the singer maintains the same awesomeness but the lyrics change. This is a song glorifying Ahmedabad. Niren Bhatt aces this one. His lyrics are brilliant.

Both the versions are full of attitude and Vishal does a fab job. No one but Vishal could have sung this one. Please sing more of Gujarati songs, Dadlani saab!


“KATPUTHLA” means “puppets”. It is a song which talks about how a poor man becomes a puppet in the hands of the rich and powerful. Keerthi Sagathia is simply superb. He never fails to amaze me. His voice provides the needed angst and pain in the song. Aiding him ably is Jasleen Royal whose unique voice creates a haunting effect which sounds beautiful. The song fits in perfectly with the theme of the film.

Sachin Jigar’s arrangements and tune are beautiful. Their very dependable Dilshad Khan gives goosebumps with his sarangi interlude.

“GORI RADHA NE KADO KAAN” is the best song of the album. Isn’t it obvious? You compose a lovely garba tune, pack it with heavy brilliant instrumentation and you back it off with a visual garba song – it is bound to be a hit.



Divya kumar is a surprise. This guy manages to amaze me every single time now and then. His diction is good, his singing is brilliant.

However, when you have another version of the same song sung by Kirtidan Gadhvi, you can’t help but love that one more. Kirtidan is simply outstanding.

But the real geniuses are the two composers who compose this magnificent tune. Right from the first second, till the ending “Duhaa”, Sachin and Jigar rock this one. This year’s navratri will feature this song everywhere in Gujarat and outside. Full marks to them for some superlative instrumentation. It is a foot tapping song in true sense. You feel like doing garba on it.


OVERALL, “Wrong Side Raju” is Sachin Jigar’s best Gujarati work till date. They are in top form. Their music, be it quality, arrangements or choice of singers is pitch perfect and very much upto bollywood standards.


I have always felt that composers need to contribute to their regional film industry. Look at Ajay – Atul, or Anupam Roy. Look at A.R Rahman – the biggest example. Because ultimately it is your regional work which will be appreciated the most. I am so proud of Sachin and jigar that they give their 100% to their own regional industry. You are already going places in bollywood, but now you will go places even in the Gujarati film industry. Thank you for the lovely album!   

MY RATINGS - 9 / 10

MOVIE REVIEW : WRONG SIDE RAJU


“Change” is a word that carries a lot of weight. It is a movement which takes a lot of time.

5 years ago, Cineman productions brought one such change in the Gujarati film industry. Actually, they rediscovered the film industry. 

First came the witty “Kevi Rite Jaish” and then came the blockbuster “Bey Yaar”. And all of a sudden, as if all the doors of a dam were opened, there arrived a flood of films – ranging from downright horrible to just about average. Every film would proclaim itself to be “An Urban Gujarati film” and would ultimately be filled with mediocrity.

“Wrong Side Raju” brings an end to this mediocrity. As I walk down the steps of the theatre after watching the movie, I am filled with satisfaction and pride that we are slowly but surely getting there.

PLOT

The film has a strong storyline, loosely based on the infamous hit and run case of Ahmedabad of 2013.

Raju Bambani is a driver cum bootlegger who unfortunately gets involved in a hit and run case. The police arrest him and now he has to prove himself innocent. He is the driver of well known lawyer cum businessman Amitabh Shah whose spoilt son was actually the real culprit of the accident.

Can Raju save himself? Will he find love in the French girl he befriends? And most importantly, will the truth ever come out?


DIRECTION

This film is directed by debutante director Mikhil Musale and produced jointly by Cineman Productions (Abhishek and Nayan Jain) and Phantom films.

In his very first film, Mikhil excels. He adopts an indirect and unconventional style of narration and that works very well. The accident scene is shown very nicely and that lamp post falling scene is a beautifully done and significant scene.

The first half is spent in establishing the sequence of events that led to the accident. There are flashbacks, there is intermittent humor, and there is some very good acting. By the time it was intermission, the movie had me gripped, but just about.

Post interval, things change for the better. The plot becomes more and more engaging. There are some wonderful scenes which keep you hooked, until the unexpected suspense in the climax. Now that was very brilliantly done, Mr. Director! It changed the entire mood of the film, and gave the film the much needed impact.

The film is very well shot. Ahmedabad is captured beautifully.

There are a couple of scenes which standout among the rest – for example, the alcohol drinking scene in the police station, the navratri sequence, the entire courtroom sequence, and the scene involving Amitabh shah and Raju involving Rs 15 lakhs.


POSITIVES

The performances are the USP of the film. As Raju, Pratik Gandhi wins your heart. He is so very natural. He doesn’t act. He just behaves and responds to different situations just like we normal people do. That is why his act looks so honest, real and convincing.

As the wealthy businessman, Asif Basra delivers a flawless performance. With a mix of gujarati, hindi and English dialogues, he convincingly plays his role.

As “Saily madam”, Kimberley Louisa McBeath is good. She never seems out of place.

The three investigating officers are true gems. As the lead officer, Jayesh More is superb. So is Alok Gagdekar who plays the role of the other officer. You might remember him from Bajrangi Bhaiijaan. (He was the one who was on the bus when salman khan narrates this flashback.)


The third police officer who plays the role of a constable brings the necessary dose of humor. His dialogue delivery is too good. (POTIYU!)

As the lawyer, Hetal Puniwala does a very fine job. So does Kenneth Desai who is top notch as always.
As Tanmay Shah, Kavi Shastri is okay. Someone much better could have been cast instead of him.

Secondly, the script is developed well. Writers Niren Bhatt, Karan Vyas and Musale himself do a good job. The editing however could have been crispier.


NEGATIVES

I will come straight to the point. Just because this is a Gujarati movie doesn’t mean I will unnecessarily praise it. The film has its share of flaws and is definitely not a perfect one.

Firstly, the editing needed more work. The film could have been 20 minutes shorter.

Secondly, the entire plot of the climax needed more development. At some point, you feel as if they wrapped it up conveniently in the end and too hurriedly.

Thirdly, they have used a lot of English in the film, which will not be understood by everyone. For us, it is not an issue, but people will flock with their families to see this movie, and there will be quite a large section who would have preferred subtitles in those scenes.

Also, I agree that sponsors are an integral part of a film, but here it is overdone. R.Balki does that a lot in his films. It is always a major turn off.


MUSIC

However good the film is, the music is undoubtedly the BEST thing about the film.
Sachin Jigar do a fantabulous job and their music only makes the film better. Satrangi re and the garba song look and sound so bloody good. This is their best work since “Happy Ending” for me.

For a full music review of the album, click HERE


OVERALL

“WRONG SIDE RAJU” is definitely not a perfect film. But it is very very near to perfection. Gone are the days of those tacky gujju movies. This movie proves that with a strong script, good music and good acting, any film in any language will do well. It is indeed heartening to see such high quality stuff in Gujarati cinema.

Also, I have always felt that we never support our own regional films. Look at the Telegu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi film industry. These industries flourish because people from those states take interest in these films. We need to do that too. If “Sairat” can make a hundred crores, our movies definitely can. Both “Bey Yaar” and “Kevi rite jaish” had that potential; and so does “Wrong side raju”.

Kudos to the entire team of “WSR”. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You people have set up new standards for our film industry, and it is indeed great that Phantom backed this project.
We are getting there! Slowly, steadily, but surely!


MY RATINGS – 3.5 / 5   

Saturday, July 30, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : SECRETLY YOURS



Romance is one genre that has been explored endlessly by almost all authors; and when a little bit of supernatural element is mixed with romance, the results are nothing but endearing.
Author Vikrant Khanna’s latest offering “Secretly yours” is one such endearing novel.

PLOT

Set in the backdrop of the picturesque city of Shimla, “Secretly yours” talks about the life of Sahil, an orphan who lives with his brother, grandma and his uncle’s family. Things change when Anya arrives in his life. On the other hand, there is a serial killer on the loose who is wreaking havoc in the usually quiet hill station. Who is behind the killings? What is the mystery behind Anya and her friends?

Vikrant Khanna weaves a thoroughly engaging plot with the right ingredients for a romantic as well a suspense thriller novel. There is a certain freshness in the plot which seems creative and yet highly believable.


WRITING AND POSITIVES

The writing is pretty simple and easy on the readers. The language is kept simple and the writing witty and to the point.

Vikrant does his characterizations beautifully. The characters of Sahil and Anya are done very nicely and in depth. Be it the mysterious Mayur and Sameer or that of Aditya or Monica, all the characters are written very well.

Secondly, keeping Shimla as the place where the entire novel is set up, is a lovely idea. There is always a different aura and beauty when a hill station is involved. Somehow I wouldn’t have loved this book so much had it been set up in a bigger city.

Lastly, the chemistry between Sahil and Anya is wonderfully done. Be it their initial interactions or the ones after the secrets are shared, everything is superb. One can feel those sparks of romance when these two hold the centre stage.

Also, the ending is done well. I was expecting something similar since the beginning. I kept guessing as to how the book would end, and I finally was proven right.

NEGATIVES

The climax is pretty hurried. I would have loved if the book would have been 50 pages longer but had a more elaborate and more believable climax.

Secondly, the entire revenant lore seems convincing, and yet the author fails to evoke that enmity between the revenants and the brothers. There is a lack of tension that should have been present. Ultimately, it all leads to a weak climax.

Apart from these few glitches, I have no complaints with the novel.


OVERALL, Vikrant Khanna’s “Secretly yours” is a breezy romantic supernatural thriller which can be easily finished off in one sitting. With easy English, crackling chemistry between the lead pair and an intriguing plot, this book is definitely a one time read. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : THE THIRTEENTH DAY



Attempting a partially fictionalized account of the greatest saga of our country is indeed a brave thing. And to come out of it with flying colors is even greater an achievement. Debutant author 
Aditya Iyengar joins the list of the authors who have tried re-telling the Mahabharata from different angles. Does he succeed in creating an engaging book?

PLOT

No one is unfamiliar with the plot of the Mahabharata; and yet Aditya’s unique narrative makes this book a lovely read.

The story unfolds on the tenth day of the war in Kurukshetra, leading to the events that ultimately led to the death of Abhimanyu. The entire plot is narrated from the point of view of three key characters – Radheya/Karna, Yudhishthira and Abhimnyu.
Out of the mammoth Mahabharata war, Aditya chooses to focus only on these 4 days that defined so many things and people.

POSITIVES

The simplicity in the language is one big plus point of this book. At times a bit more casual, Aditya’s style of writing is simple, appealing and caters to all audiences.

A lot of research has gone behind this book, and it definitely shows. An in-depth information about combats, formations, different war weapons and instruments has been provided. This is one aspect relatively unexplored previously.

Secondly, the characterizations are superb. The way Aditya develops each character, makes us feel as we know them personally. All three – Yudhishthira, Karna and Abhimanyu are characterized brilliantly.
Yudhishthira’s character is lovely. I loved how he is shown to be vulnerable, unsure, and insecure. He is the most humane character in the plot.

Our heart goes out for Abhimanyu’s character. However, my personal favorite was Karna’s character.
It is also a relief to see few of the central characters take a backseat – including Krishna, Draupadi, etc. Draupadi’s take on Mahabharata has already been described in the novel “The palace of illusions”.

Also, what attracts our attention is also how Aditya develops the other characters. There is Krishna’s son (Pradyumna), Suyodhana’s son (Laxman). Also, Shikhandi’s characterization is very well done. Arjuna and Bhima are depicted aptly too.

NEGATIVES

Aditya’s style of writing might not appeal to few hardcore Mahabharata fans. Despite the painstaking detailing, there are instances when we feel few superficial moments in the writing department.

Also, this book is a strict no no for those who don’t find the Mahabharata interesting. Those guys can very well give it a miss.

OVERALL, Aditya’s narration of the events from Bhishma’s death to Abhimanyu’s death is a must read for all those who love Mahabharata. I mean, is there anyone who doesn’t love it?

A fresh, different and well written novel, I would definitely recommend this one to all mythology lovers!