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NH10 is not for the faint-hearted

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NH10 is a revenge drama that’s definitely not for the fainthearted. It has some action packed scenes with a lot of blood and gore.

Navdeep Singh who made Manorama Six Feet Under (2007) is back with a gripping tale of a young working couple in Gurgaon. When the movie starts Meera (Anushka Sharma) and Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) are off for a party, which Meera is not very keen on attending. As soon as they reach she gets a work call and has to leave, she leaves alone and once she is on the highway her car is attacked by a group of unknown men. Next morning cops recommend her to keep a gun for her security. Over the weekend the couple is off for a weekend getaway.

The two stop by at a dhaba to grab a bite that’s where they witness a group of men trashing a young couple. Arjun interferes but is slapped, pushed back and asked to stay away because one of the guys says that the girl is his sister. Upset and disturbed with the incident Arjun doesn’t want to give up, he chases the black SUV. Meera pleads him not to but he insists he wants to teach the villagers a lesson. He enters the deserted area, gets off the car with Meera’s gun and asks her to stay in. What he witnesses is another case of honor killing in Haryana. In the middle of a deserted land the couple lose their car, their gun and now the only option is to run from the men who wont think twice before killing them.

It’s an edgy drama and once you are in it you just want to know what happens next. There are many moments when you will question their decisions. Why couldn’t Meera run away from the men who are chasing her and head home for some serious help and why would Arjun get into so much trouble. Any young sensible couple working in Gurgaon would know the repercussions of fighting with a group of locals in the middle of nowhere. The two had a gun but they didn’t manage to get their car keys back from a group of unarmed men. But all this doesn’t take away anything from the drama that keeps you glued to your seat. The suspense is gripping and that’s done well by the director.

Anushka Sharma delivers a power packed performance, it’s something she has never done and she does it convincingly. My favourite scene is when she is smoking and just watching one of the guys bleed in pain, it leaves a big impact. Neil Bhoopalam initially as the charming husband and later an unreasonable guy who walks straight into trouble does the job well.

The length of one hour and fifty five minutes is just right, the music fits well and the editing is crisp. A lot of credit goes to director Navdeep Singh firstly for attempting a different film and getting good performances out of the actors.

If you like action and revenge dramas this is great one! But if you can’t watch blood and torture then there is no way you can watch this.

NH10 is a power packed revenge drama!

India bans ’50 Shades of Grey’

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India’s censor board has banned the release of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ even though they were shown a toned down version with many of the expletives and several nude scenes edited out.

The chief of the Central Board of Film Certification said the film did not pass but that is not unusual, as many mainstream films don’t get clearance on the first showing and they have the option to try to revise the committee’s opinion.

Despite mixed reviews the erotic bondage tale of a billionaire and his sadomasochistic relationship with a college graduate has been an international hit, as was the 2011 novel on which it is based that was written by British author E L James.

Malaysia and some other countries have also banned the film.

Court bans Bollywood movie ‘Dirty Politics’

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The Patna High Court has banned the release of the Bollywood film ‘Dirty Politics’ that stars Mallika Sherawat, after hearing a petition seeking a ban over some objectionable scenes.

The Court has also issued a notice to the Central Board of Film Certification ordering authorities not to release the film till the objectionable scenes are removed.

The petitioner informed the court that actress Sherawat has the Indian national flag draped over her body, thereby insulting and dishonouring the tricolour.

Directed by K C Bokadia, the film is slated for immediate release.

Bollywood surprised and disappointed with new budget

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J P Chowksey, president of the Film Federation of India (FFI) expressed Bollywood’s deep disappointment with finance minister Arun Jaitley’s new budget. “The film industry in India is being killed by the government” he said.

The film industry had asked the government to exempt the film industry from service taxes, but to the contrary the service tax has been increased from 12.36 percent to 14 percent, which Mr Chowksey says is going to affect the film industry badly at all levels.

“Since the government does not consider the reasonable demands put forward by a body of the film industry, we now plan to make our voices heard” said Chowksey, promising to mobilise all the film stars. He also expressed disappointment at the 12 MPs in parliament who have not made the government see reason to develop the film industry. Film Federation officials from the South also worked out all the details and represented them to the government but none of the demands have been met.

An angry Mr Chowksey said “The government holds film functions only to facilitate the families of politicians and officials to take pictures with the stars !

Dum Laga Ke Haisha

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The title Dum Laga Ke Haisha has a nice ring to it. These words, commonly chanted when doing any kind of physically strenuous work, evoke an affectionate nostalgia for a time gone by a time before mobile phones took over our lives, before Google made libraries redundant, and before shiny CDs replaced those double-sided audio cassettes that we inevitably wore out from repeatedly listening to the same track over and over again.

It’s that very nostalgia that writer-director Sharat Kataria’s film so effortlessly taps, set as it is sometime in the mid 90s, and in Haridwar, a relatively smaller town in North India that appears virtually insulated from globalization. Ayushmann Khurrana plays Prem Prakash Tiwari, or Lappu as he’s fondly called at home, a tenth-standard failed 25-year-old who sits at his father’s audio cassette-repair shop listening to Kumar Sanu hits all day. He’s bullied by his family into marrying an educated but rotund girl, Sandhya (newcomer Bhumi Pednekar), but he can’t summon up the slightest affection for his new bride.

Kataria creates believable scenarios and gives us flesh-and-blood characters that never feel less than real. Prem is cruel to his wife, he’s embarrassed to be seen with her in public, and insists that by marrying her he’s ruined his life. Sandhya, refreshingly, is unapologetic about her weight, mostly confident in her own skin, and she knows how to give it right back. There are other characters too: screaming fathers, pushy mothers, opinionated aunts, and assorted friends and relatives that pop up regularly and weigh in on the ‘samasya’. The script gives each of them a reason to be there, mining laughs from unexpected places. In one scene, on hearing the sound of overactive bed springs from her son’s room, Prem’s mother remarks to her husband: “Sayana ho gaya humra Lappu,” then follows it up with the zinger: “Zara Jaya aur Rekha ko bhi bata doon, mann halka ho jayega.” In another scene, a saline drip of all things becomes a source of much amusement.

It’s the relationship between the protagonists however, and how that eventually changes, that is at the heart of this film. Kataria’s script puts them through their paces, never rushing towards a contrived, convenient resolution. Ayushmann and Bhumi have charming chemistry, and each delivers heartfelt performances that ring true. Ayushmann plays it from the gut, never once striking a false note as the insecure young fella, bitter over being dealt an unfair hand, but who nicely transitions when he realizes he’s wrong. Bhumi, meanwhile, steals the film with an assured turn, effortlessly making you care for Sandhya, without ever reducing her to a slobbering, self-pitying caricature.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha sucks you into its world with well-etched characters, beautiful cinematography, perfectly detailed production design, and a host of fine actors – including Sanjay Mishra, Seema Pahwa, and Sheeba Chadda – who add to the film’s authenticity. Music plays an important role too, as highlighted in one lovely scene where Prem and Sandhya switch between popular Hindi film numbers on the transistor to convey their respective moods. Anu Malik and lyricisit Varun Grover deliver some winning tracks, nicely rendered by Kumar Sanu, who isn’t merely a reference in the film but whose presence hangs over the picture throughout.

Simple and breezy, while at the same time evocative of life in small-town India, Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a charming film that you really shouldn’t miss. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five.

Badlapur

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STORY: Raghu’s (Varun Dhawan) indefectible life is devastated, when a robbery episode kills his wife and son. The culprit Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) refuses to let out the truth and is imprisoned for 20 years. Refusing to move on, Raghu harbours in him the tryst for truth. Can he avenge the deaths of people who meant the world to him? And, is being devoured by the feeling of revenge as gratifying as his volcanic rage had promised?

REVIEW: Badlapur is a gobsmacking movie that suffuses on screen – a deftly written story, spectacular performances and an intelligently layered screenplay. What works best here is the film’s unpredictability. From the minute it begins, you’re latched to your seat with your heart throbbing in your mouth and your throat frequently choking up. For the sheer impact the movie conjures up, writer-director Sriram Raghavan deserves a bow!

Mixing grit and suspense in the right measure, Sriram allows his film to take the risky path in keeping you invested, ably playing his motley bunch of characters. While the layers smoothly unfold in this vendetta affair, Raghavan’s clarity of vision keeps the narrative seamless. The wicked humour sprinkled abruptly in the sequences draws one further into this movie. The excessive gore might be considered superfluous but is vital for the impact it has.

The driving force here are the actors who evolve the story. Varun’s measured acting and sincere eyes draw empathy. With each scene, the intense hues he brings to Raghu, unravel. Nawaz is superlative as Liak, bringing a sinful streak of twisted comedy, teaming it with unabashed swagger. The ladies deliver adequately, but it’s Huma Qureshi who brings more to her role than what it holds.

Though the film’s second hour meanders and is a tad long, the compelling climax and memorable scenes, like the one where Liak reveals the truth that Raghu had desperately been seeking, trivializes these flaws. Added to it, Sachin-Jigar’s haunting music adds a piercing quality.

Brisk and absorbing, concluding differently than expected, Badlapur is an inspired film that dangerously attempts to change the landscape of the thriller genre in Bollywood.

Roy

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STORY: A director’s movie is inspired by a thief’s character; but when reality and fiction collide – his story takes an unexpected turn.

REVIEW: Get ready to go on a ‘trip’. This one’s rolled up in celluloid – with all the kaleidoscopic colours and hues associated with it. Roy takes you on an orgasm of the imagination, and gives you a treat of visual delight – with all things good-looking. Smooth vintage wheels, stunning studs (horses), Fedora hats and magnificent Malaysia. Of course, the gorgeous lead trio too – striking poses right out of fashion glossies.

Kabir Grewal (Arjun) is a filmmaker known as much for his flamboyant lifestyle (read: wine and women) as his action films (‘Guns’ series). He’s also the darlin’ of the tabloids because he simply can’t keep his ‘gun-on-steroids’ under control. His heist stories are born out of a thief’s character from his childhood memories. Kabir starts filming in Malaysia with a writer’s block and without a script, but he quickly finds a muse in Ayesha (Jacqueline part 1) – an arty filmmaker (who shows no sign of making a film).

He takes his story forward; ‘Roy'(Ranbir) the robber, reaches Malaysia to plan his next big robbery. The fictitious tale meets reality – they collide and crumble – leaving us confused. Ayesha’s lookalike, Tia, walks in to the chaos (Jacqueline part 2). There’s a forced sense of mystery, and the transition between the real and the imagination is what leaves you baffled.

Debutant director Vikramjit’s premise is uncommon; the execution is stylish – with beautifully captured actors and ambience, but it turns into an emotional drama (often too complex) rather than a taut romantic thriller. It’s glazed with visual appeal and style (champagne, cigar, et al), and evokes curiosity too, but the soul of the plot fades into thick clouds of smoke. There are characters that add no real dimension to the story. Much is said in silence minus melodrama, backed by a good musical score – a saving grace. The editing is weak in parts and the pace is too languid. There’s a dialogue in the film which goes, “If the story isn’t going anywhere, it’s better to end it.” Wish this dialogue was taken seriously.

Arjun looks dapper in every frame and shows brooding intensity even if it’s tucked under his stylish hat. Ranbir, with few dialogues and a poorly sketched role, looks dreamy-eyed throughout. Jacqueline, in both parts looks the same – but great.

Roy’ has its moments, but the story is like a blotch of painting on abstract art.

Karan Johar, Ranveer, Arjun may face jail for vulgarity

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Lucknow based activist Kailash Chandra Pandey has filed an FIR against the participants of the controversial ‘AIB Knockout Show’ including director Karan Johar, actors Ranveer
Singh and Arjun Kapoor.

Pandey who is convener of social group Rashtriya Shahari Vikas Samiti, alleges that the circulation on the Internet of the vulgar video is against Indian culture and the content is extremely ridiculous. He said he came across the objectionable video when he found his 9-year-old son watching it on a mobile after downloading it from YouTube where it went viral and was later taken down after protests over the use of expletives and sexually explicit jokes.

The Maharashtra government has also ordered a probe.

Shamitabh

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STORY: Mute Daanish becomes a superstar when Amitabh Sinha provides him his voice – what happens when ego pulls body and speech apart?

REVIEW: So, Shamitabh has a lovely concept – a boy falls in love with the movies and dreams of becoming a star. He has pizzazz, passion, presence – but no voice. Daanish (Dhanush) is born mute, his soul, like the film-mad lad of Cinema Paradiso, finding utterance with movies, Igatpuri’s bus conductor (rather like a certain Rajini Sir) determined to achieve stardom. Daanish hits Film City and impresses assistant director Akshara (Haasan) but directors reject a mute hero.

Akshara’s doctor dad introduces Daanish to technology which, using embedded micro-recorders and ear-pieces, enables a mute person to communicate via a ‘borrowed’ voice. Daanish and Akshara find the perfect voice – that of Amitabh Sinha (Bachchan), a failed actor, snubbed due to his baritone, who lives in a graveyard, soaked in whisky and cynicism. Amitabh’s tickled by the idea of making his rejected voice successful and the ‘Shamitabh’ team becomes a super-hit.

But what happens when Amitabh feels he’s getting no recognition, despite being as good a kalakaar as Daanish – if not better?

Shamitabh’s dramatic performances match its unusual tale. Often evoking The Artist, Dhanush is terrific as film-crazy Daanish, whose eyes sparkle at the cinema, whose brow furrows in desperation to meet directors, who schmoozes and rages without saying a word. Amitabh Bachchan provides perfect balance, catty and chatty in that wondrous velveteen baritone, dripping sarcasm, yodelling ditties, expressing irony, then abhimaan, bringing to life Shamitabh’s crackling dialogues.

Their acting is electric – but also, frequently over-indulged. Scenes that should’ve been tight are allowed to stretch or become repetitive. The vibrant ‘Piddly’ song gets wasted while the plot is too convenient – a rural boy flings his village life behind him like dust, no doctor explains how the mute hero’s ‘voice’ reads his thoughts and speaks them, no-one swears Amitabh’s sidekick to secrecy.

In over-explaining this uncommon story – “Very deep”, as Amitabh drawls – the plot rushes through emotional moments. And amidst the high-wattage attention around the Dhanush-Amitabh pairing, less is paid to Akshara, whose performance, although sincere, sometimes looks a tad banal.

As does the film occasionally, a pity because Shamitabh’s striking story could leave you speechless.

Hawaizaada

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STORY: Eight years before the Wright Brothers flew the first aircraft, an Indian had already made aviation history, says this film.

REVIEW: The makers of Hawaizaada are prudent to tell you that this is a work of fiction, though the material at hand is sourced from the life of Marathi scientist Shivkar Talpade, who constructed and flew India’s first plane in 1895. The film unfolds in the Bombay Presidency, where Shivi (Ayushmann) – having failed the fourth grade eight-times-over – is keeping his nephew Narayan (Naman) company in the class. A vagabond, Shivi tipples and embarrasses his upright family. An accidental brush with a nautch girl Sitara (Pallavi) has him falling head-over-heels in love with her. When his father throws him out of the house for his wayward lifestyle, he becomes an assistant to Shastri (Mithun), who is secretly experimenting with the idea of making an airplane.

After a few failed attempts, the two geniuses build an aircraft. But this has to be kept hidden from the officers of the Raj, as the Britishers don’t want Indians to be perceived as ‘thinking men’ and would like to continue flaunting the world view that they were ruling a country of nincompoops.

Unfortunately, the love story between Shivi and Sitara keeps distracting. You can neither soar with the hero’s flying ambition nor can you empathise with his lovelorn plight because the debutant director Vibhu Puri doesn’t give you enough to invest in either track. The forced jingoism, use of cliches and the need to introduce spoken Marathi at intervals just to go with the Marathi manoos, are all immature ploys.

On one level, Hawaizaada works because this story about India’s unsung hero needs to find its place. But this realm depends heavily on performances – the histrionics could be several notches higher. Ayushmann doesn’t have the charisma to keep you riveted for 157 minutes. His vocals are A-class and his rendition of the evergreen ghazal Dil-E-Nadaan has that haunting quality. Mithun provides able support. Pallavi is better here than she was in her debut film Besharam.

You know that the makers have their heart in the right place because of the scale on which they have mounted this drama. The sets and VFX deserve a mention. However, you come back a tad disappointed because unlike Shivi who managed to put the wind beneath his wings, the film itself doesn’t provide even surface-level thrills.