Top Movies of 2015

Second Best Marigold Hotel

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL  Release Date: March 2015 

This is a British comedy set in India, a sequel to the original movie from 2012- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The story picks up from where the original ended, so make sure you see the original first. However, this is the slightly glamorous version of the original. Cast:

Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade
Maggie Smith as Muriel Donnelly
Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie
Celia Imrie as Madge Hardcastle
Penelope Wilton as Jean Ainslie
Ronald Pickup as Norman Cousins
Diana Hardcastle as Carol Parr
Tina Desai as Sunaina
Dev Patel as Sonny Kapoor
Lillete Dubey as Mrs. Kapoor
Richard Gere as Guy Chambers
 

(All credits for Promotional Poster, Official trailer and Movie Info goes to Fox Searchlight UK. 

Directed & Edited by- John Madden

WHAT IS SO... WORTH WATCHING.....
1. The clothes- every single person's clothes are worth watching. The senior citizens in the movie are most appropriately dressed, especially the women. The colors are subtle and pleasant on regular days and vibrant and stylish on special occasions. The youth are trendy in a very attainable kind of look and the accessories on the women - well, you just don't want to miss. The Indian attire on the white women are specially note-worthy, for a change it suits the body type yet adds the flare of Indian vibrancy and color, unlike what we are used to seeing in most other movies or shows- a bad sari and an ill-fitting blouse. Lillete Dubey's sarees are simply stunning throughout the movie- do note every detail of her ensembles.

2. The details - the little details are very impressive- the street vendors, the windows, the terrace, the room, the flowers - all add to present the best of India. There is no focus on anything negative- even the driver's home looks good. Not to say that that's how movies must be made on India, but it is certainly a refreshing change.

3. The acting- The cast is powerful and need no validation, especially Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Richard Gere. Dev Patel has played his part to perfection. The accent, the style and the essence of the character (would use words carelessly, yet has genuine care for the elderly) makes you laugh. 

Who shouldn't watch the movie...  

1. This one is not for kids- simply because couple of story lines within the movie would classify as 'adult-content'- no there isn't any adult scene though. Also the pace is too slow and would test their patience. Lets say it's for 16 and above.

2. People who are not into gazing at the scenes beyond the characters there. If you don't look for interesting attention worthy details, you won't find any.

3. If you like fast paced movie, this isn't for you. The pace of the movie is really slow- perhaps to allow you to stare into the depths of it all.
Who should watch the movie... 

Who should watch this movie-
1. Anyone who is all for the intricate details in the backdrop of every frame.
2. Anyone who loves seeing vibrant sets and colorful clothing.
3. All the senior citizens- even though there is lot of 'last-phase- of- life' kind of dialogues, the message is also- it doesn't have to be a do- nothing-phase. The message is motivating both in terms of love life as well as professional life. Life is really about constantly evolving. After all, Isn't evolution the essence of living beings too? 

MARGARITA WITH A STRAW

Release Date: Apr 17th 2015

Margarita with a Straw

Directed by    Shonali Bose
Produced by    Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar
Written by    Shonali Bose


Starring    

Kalki Koechlin
Revathi
Sayani Gupta

As per Viacom motion pictures, this is a tale about a young rebellious woman who embarks on a breathtaking journey of self-discovery. 

Seems like a regular person's story? Probably, except that the young woman in this tale suffers from cerebral palsy and her journey as she explores her dreams, goals and even her sexuality is anything but a regular person's passage through life. Kalki Koechlin plays the role of this young lady- disabled but with every ability to feel life's emotions. 


(All Information above, poster and trailer credit goes to Viacom18 Motion Pictures) 

Recognitions ...

'Margarita With A Straw' has won accolades and awards all over the world, it been the only Indian film to win an award at Toronto International Film Festival last year. Kalki, not surprisingly, has won her own share of commendations and best actress awards in international film festivals. Movie critics in leading dailies in India have given the movie four stars upon its release today.

We say .. Rarely a trailer alone can convey the power of acting. This appears to be one such trailer. There are two thoughts that instantly hit you-  that many accomplished Hindi movie actresses have taken on roles of a character  with a disability (Sridevi in Sadma (1983), Priyanka Chopra in Barfi (2012) comes to mind), however Kalki surpasses all the preceding actresses as well as her contemporaries in this movie;  utter astonishment at the discovery that Kalki Koechlin is such a proficient actress!

Do watch the movie. Before you go, it is for 16 and above only!

GABBAR IS BACK

Gabbar is Back

Release Date: May 1st 2015

Directed byKrish

Produced bySanjay Leela Bhansali

Written byRajat Arora

Starring

Akshay Kumar and Shruti Haasan, Sunil Grover and Kareena Kapoor Khan in guest appearance.

Production Company: 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

he film is a remake of the 2002 Tamil film Ramanaa directed by A. R. Murugadoss.

As per Viacom motion pictures, this is a story of a man remorselessly wronged by the establishment. One freak incident results in everything he held dear taken away from him. Predictably, the system doesn't seem to care - let alone resolve. That's when Ajay (AK) takes matters in his own hands. An underground vigilante army, a secret identity, an elaborate modus...all of these combined make a 'GABBAR' - a true hero, with dreadful villainous instincts. 

What's good-

#1. The movie is fast paced and certainly keeps you interested.

#2. Akshay Kumar's appearance is new and happening. The facial hair suits him wonderfully well. There are no muscular torso being exposed and yet there is no mistaking the muscle power. The Gabbar in the 1984 Sholay did not sport a beard, and yet Gabbar's personality in the movie does have some subtle shades of Sholay's Gabbar. Appearances apart, justice has been done to the inspiration drawn from the original Gabbar in every respect. If you wonder if the means justify the end result, "woh Gabbar hai, Gandhi nahi", is the answer- as one character in the movie points out. In short, full marks to Akshay Kumar for the perfect portrayal of Gabbar- for upholding the legendary Gabbar's status, as well as lending his own avatar to the iconic character.

#3. The movie manages to keep the focus on the theme of fighting corruption. You might agree with the means to achieve the goal, but the end results are convincing. The story-line delineates the deep-rooted corruption in various government bodies, hospitals, etc in a way that the call to extreme measures is vindicated.

#4. Kareena Kapoor Khan looks captivating in her special appearance. She should have been roped in to play the lead. 

#5. India looks clean- throughout and everywhere. Seems like the movie has been shot in the future where Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi's Clean India initiatives have been successfully implemented with good results :). 

WHAT'S NOT-

#1. Pretty though Shruti Hassan is, there are no room for her in this movie. Producers of Sanjay Leela Bhansali calibre need to step up and set an example. He should have more confidence in his movie than to bank on placing a pretty face to 'draw the men on the streets'. The song 'Coffee Peetey Peetey' is beautiful and has been again, picturized to tease the senses of men. This needs to stop. To pair a 40-something hero against a 20-something heroine is absurd. I can visualize any number of leading ladies who would have lend elegance to the role- Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta, Malaika Arora, Bipasha Basu, etc. This 40-20 needs to STOP and yes, the top producers of Bollywood need to take a lead in this. Although, I must say, Akshay Kumar carries the pretty-little-20-something girls on his arms better than any other Bollywood studs.

#2. Sanjay Leela Bhansali also loses marks for infusing item song in the movie and the talented Chitrangada Singh loses marks for accepting such a song-dance sequence. Thankfully there aren't men touching her in a lecherous manner.

I will say it again- producer of his stature shouldn't be resorting to cheap gimmicks. The lyrics of the song are cheap ("Kundi mat kharkao raja, seedhe andar aao raja". Really??) and so are the actions. Yo To Honey Singh's voice sounds like a molester's and may likely inspire a few of those. Given the unsafe conditions in India, SLB should take on greater moral responsibility. 

#3. End the day, the movie fails to provide a solution to deracinate corruption through actions, even though the message in the end salvages it. Much like Rang De Basanti in 2006, the intentions are applaud-able, the characters are inspirational, but the actions of the 'few good men' in the movie don't by itself provide a panacea. The plot could have been used to provide some real methodology. 

TO WATCH OR NOT TO WATCH?
As for whether or not you should see it? Three points on that-

  1. This one will most certainly be loved by Akshay fans and those who get comfort and satisfaction out of watching the victory of good over evil in films, aka fans of series like DabanggSingham and the likes. 
  2. Oh yes, if you haven't seen Shruti Hassan, Sarika and Kamal Hassan's daughter, yet and have been wanting to, you may catch her in this one. Although, I personally loved her in D-Day (2013) in which her talent shines through without her body being used for the purpose. 
  3. For Indians outside of India, the movie is educational for our kids- we talk to them about the corruption in different parts of the system in India- this movie covers it all. 

VERDICT: WATCH IT!

PIKU

Piku

Release Date: May 8th 2015

Piku is a family comedy drama directed by Shoojit Sircar & produced by MSM Motion Pictures, Saraswati Entertainment & Rising Sun Films. Yash Raj Films are the distributors. Story and screenplay is by Juhi Chaturvedi.

The movie revolves around the world of PIKU and her hypochondriac father. It stars Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan and Moushumi Chatterjee.

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT THE MOVIE:

1. THE CAST:

It is no surprise that Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan have played their roles to perfection. As a father, Amitabh infuriates and exasperates by his attention-seeking ways. He makes you laugh and cringe at the same time by his outspokenness. He even imparts good wisdom by giving it to others as it is. But most importantly he makes you realize the needs of aging parents- regular motion and ample attention.

Deepika is the perfect daughter personified- she cares, she sacrifices, she worries, she scolds. Her


(All credits for trailer above, MSMMotionPictures and for music link below: Zee Music Company. You may subscribe to them directly)


wardrobe is very noticeable- comfortable, affordable, trendy and her slender frame carries it well.

Irrfan Khan has never looked better and always performed his best. If anyone had any doubts regarding their pairing, don't worry- their relationship, if it can be called that, is very subtle and very well handled.

The surprise here is Maushumi Chatterjee- not because her character is entertaining, real and totally captures your interest, not even because she is completely in tune with her character, but because you wonder why don't you see this pretty 62-year-old more often? Incidentally, Amitabh and Maushumi's pairing in Manzil was made famous by the now-classic rain song "Rimjihm Gire Sawaan" from the movie from 1979.

2. Sets & Locations

You know how much of a fan I am of the general scenes of India- the front lawn of the house, the congested streets of India, the aaya (maid) arguments, the aangan (central courtyard) of old havelis (mansions)- you find all of that and more in the film. 

Some of the locations flood you with nostalgia- the ghats of Banaras, the Howrah Bridge and the Bishop Lefroy Road of Kolkata, etc. If you hail from Kolkata, this movie is an absolute treat for you. 

3. Story-line

The life of individual characters in the story-line are based on a very 'today's world' scenario. The movie is progressive and constantly brings up the issue of women's needs and the importance of maintaining their individuality post-marriage. The movie does not shy away from adults confronting each other constantly rather than shoving the issues under the rug.

WHAT'S NOT THAT GREAT (AND YET REAL)

1. The pace

The pace of the movie takes a rather slow turn during the road trip to Kolkata. You might find your interest wavering.

2. The stress that you witness all round

Be it the stress of being the sole care-taker of an aging hypochondriac father, or the stress of being an aging hypochondriac father; be it the stress of being the sole bread-earner of the family, or the stress of being able yet dependent- it all shows on the screen. It might get pesky, the resulting bickering and yelling might get nettlesome at times, but then that's life for you. 

TO WATCH OR NOT TO WATCH?

WATCH IT FOR THREE REASONS-

1. The movie serves as a reminder to all children about their impending responsibilities with regards to their aging parents. It gently prods you to be patient, to be caring, to be understanding- when the time comes. On the other hand, hopefully, it gives the much needed lesson to our elders as well- when the time comes, don't be the all-consuming force in your children's life (if you can help it).

2. If you love non-commercial movies and admire producers and directors who dare to present something different, a fresh perspective, a realistic and modern approach to age-old issues- this one is for you.

3. Fans of Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan- it's a no-brainer, go watch it!

TANU WEDS MANU RETURNS

Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Director Anand L. Rai

Producer Kishore Lulla
Anand L. Rai

Writer Himanshu Sharma

Cast Kangana Ranaut
R. Madhavan
Jimmy Shergill

Distributor Eros International

Release date: 22 May 2015

  • Five Things To Know About The Making Of The Movie:

    Tanu Weds Manu Returns is the sequel to the original Tanu Weds Manu from 2011 starring the same lead pair, Kangana and Madhavan, directed by the same director, but produced under a different banner.

    (Picture poster and video credit: Eros Now, you may subscribe to them directly)

    MOVIE REVIEW ...

    WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT THE MOVIE

    #1. The cast: 

    is what elevates the movie to a complete entertainment package. It is anybody's and probably everybody's guess that Kangana Ranaut is par excellence in her role as the Haryanavi girl. Her body language, the clothing, the completely bare face, the Haryanavi language complete with the accent- leave you in awe. Kangana, undoubtedly proves yet again that she is the queen of Bollywood.

    All other characters are no less impressive, specially the "sideys" (those who play side role)- Jimmy Shergill as Raja Awasthi, Deepak Dobriyal as Pappi, Eijaz Khan as Jassi, Swara Bhaskar as Payal Rathore and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Chintu leave their own mark. 

    #2. The sets

    If you are a stare-at-details kind of person, simply put- you would take nostalgic delight in noticing the entry-doors, the walls, the aangan (courtyard), the gali (alleys), the nukkads (street corners), in short- everything.

    #3. The clothes

    The attire is stare-worthy as well- the shirt-sweater-pajama of the law student, the loud salwar-kameez of the local heart-throb, the full-sleeve-collared-shirt with sari combination of Haryanvi women- every garb gets the intended attention. Even the sardar in Gujarati garment with dandiya sticks stays in your mind.

    #4. The pace

    The pace of the movie is good and does not lose you along the way. There are a few twists timed perfectly to perk up the viewers' interest, just in case it wanders.

    #5. The family package and the jokes

    The movie can be watched, enjoyed and discussed with kids- a BIG plus in our eyes. Every character has funny lines to deliver and you will find yourself laughing at the unexpected jokes.

    SO THEN, WHAT'S NOT GOOD ... 

    #1. Here's the problem I have with the movie- like most slap-stick comedies churned out by our tinsel town, this too has scenes that deserved the editor's cuts. The movie has a few pointless and senseless scenes of bride-kidnapping, and the likes, in the name of humor. Makes you want to have been around to lend a helping hand to editor in order to do complete justice to the plot and the cast.

    #2. Kangana's role as the original Tanu, actually has nothing impressive, neither new about it. Many a leading ladies have been there, done that.

    TO WATCH OR NOT TO WATCH?

    Despite the two negative points I have pointed out, this one is certainly a watch-worthy movie to add to the May- must-watch movies' list. I am certainly not implying that the negative points above are worth dismissing, for those are precisely the reasons why I do not agree with the 4 and 4.5 ratings that some have bestowed the movie. In fact, if I have to, I'll probably give it a 3.0. It IS funny and its depiction of Haryanvi language/dialect/accent along with clothing is marvelous. Its portrayal of characters and sets from Uttar Pradesh state of India is just as interesting even though that has been done often enough in the past. Its a family film with catchy songs. Most importantly, the movie does have you leave the theater discussing your own "craziness" in your marriage, whether seldom or not. If you walk out with lessons learnt, all the better, right?  

DIL DHADAKNE DO 

Dil Dhadakne Do

Released: June 5, 2015

What happens when you put members of a crazy dysfunctional Punjabi family on a luxury cruise trip? Find out in the star studded trailer of one of the most anticipated films of 2015, 'Dil Dhadakne Do'.

Directed By: Zoya Akhtar
Produced By: Ritesh Sidhwani & Farhan Akhtar

Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Anil Kapoor & Shefali Shah.

Story by: Reema Kagti, Zoya Akhtar (the team of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Five Things That We Have To Say About The Movie:

#1. The Cast:

Ranveer Singh once again proves the plethora of talent that he embodies. We knew that post his early releases like Band Baaja Baaraat(2010) and Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl (2011), but somewhere along the line he had gotten sucked into the largely over-acting world of Bollywood, losing his serious- about- acting aura. With this movie, he completely impresses- his body language, dialogue delivery, facial expressions- all seem to work together to portray the role of the younger Mehra sibling. He gets a 10 on 10 for this one.

As for the others, the film makers deserve an award for casting Priyanka Chopra in the role of the older Mehra progeny, but even deserving of praise is their choice of Anil kapoor and Shefali Shah for the role of the parents. Moving away from casting Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini (or likes) as parents was sheer genius. Anil Kapoor made the role look like tailor made for him. He is superb. His wardrobe and style deserves a mention too- kudos to the costume designer to make Mr. Mehra look like a real life character. Shefali Shah as a young looking mother was very much in keeping with the times. As always, she plays her part to perfection. 

Anushka Sharma and Farhan Aktar do not have a lead part, but we all know they impress in every screen they are in.

Everyone else was nothing but convincing in their parts- be it the chacha or the chachi, the plain-looking cousins, the manager, or just the gossiping friends.

Aamir Khan's voice that we hear as the narrator's, works well too- both in idea and implementation.

#2. The Cruise

For the most part, the movie plays out on the cruise. And that was a clever and an innovative idea. Firstly because this has not been done before and secondly because it provides the perfect podium for the constantly unfolding drama. It was the perfect rostrum for the ostentatious lifestyle portrayed. The various ports were the perfect breaks for the eyes, while the activities on the ship offered the ideal tie-ups with the story. Full marks for basing the story on the cruise.

#3. The Plot

The Mehra couple, in their fifties, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with young children in their early twenties, were the master stroke in the story line. The siblings' tales had its own merits. In fact, every angle was interesting and intriguing- making you wonder at how you would react.

#4. The Jokes

The jokes- they are funny. You have to watch it and know more.

#5. The Takeaway

Here lies the core value of the movie. As you watch the movie and later reflect on it, you're sure to not miss the several points made throughout the movie- the must-learn lessons, the eye-openers that would surely cause you to pick up several discussions with your kids- on career choices, about speaking your mind, on relationships- what to ignore and what is not okay, what to accept and what is inadmissible. Most importantly, you end up discussing whether and when to stay in the marriage- an important discussion in today's world.

Over all ...

There is literally nothing that is not good about the movie. Well, except that 12 and under will likely not appreciate the pace and the messages therein.

Dil Dhadakne Do is a must-watch movie with your teenagers. Discuss with them the relationship with spouse, with parents. Also drive home the importance of speaking your mind, making the right choices, getting out of unhappy situations. I watched the movie with my teenage daughter and you bet I talked to her about marriage and relationships. I told her to never depend on a man to create a world full of happiness for you. I told her to create her own world of joy and then find a deserving man to share that world with.

JURRASIC WORLD

Jurassic World

Release Date: 12th June, 2015 

(Info, Poster and Video Credits: Universal Pictures . You may subscribe to them directly by clicking the link above)

Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World. 

Directed By: Colin Trevorrow

Executive Producers:Steven Spielberg, Thomas Tull

Produced By:  Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley.

Screenplay By: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Trevorrow & Derek Connolly

Story By: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver.

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins,  Irrfan Khan

Five Points That Make The Movie A Must Watch:

#1. This is to the current generation what Jurassic Park was for us- in terms of coming together of effects that technology lends to a movie, the curiosity that man inherently has for dinosaurs- the extinct beasts from the past, the commercial market that drives man's greed, and most of all- man's need to explore science, to push the envelope- to the point of obliterating the fine line between science for need and the science for adventure.

#2. The family angle- The movie provides an opportunity for the parents, fans of the original Jurassic Park of 1993, to bond with their kids over the Jurassic Park trilogy. Since the movie releases as the summer break starts, the timing is perfect for the family to catch up on Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), and Jurassic Park III (2001). More so, if extended family is visiting. What can be greater fun than to watch the series with cousins ranging in ages, and feeling scared together? The time will be well spent because the movie pays homage to others in the series.

#3. Siblings angle- the two brothers in the movie, played by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins, certainly remind the constantly skirmishing siblings that at the end of the day, brothers are forever. The actors have done an awesome job of conveying that bond to the audience. Their chemistry is believable, relatable and touching.

#4. The actors- of course, Chris Pratt has done an awesome job. Having watched him in the Parks And Recreation series, always knew that he is an excellent actor, but it was refreshing to see him in an entirely different role from what we are used to. Jake Johnson from the New Girl looked the same as his TV avatar, but it was good to see him there. Bryce has done a good job too.

#5. Irrfan Khan- for the desi audience, Irrfan Khan makes the movie a must watch because he plays a major role in the movie. He is the owner of the Jurassic World, Simon Masrani. There is no explanation given regarding his accent and heritage and that is what makes it in tune with today's times. Irrfan Khan paves the way for all people of South Asian descent who are interested in an acting career to dare to dream big. He looks confident- with himself, his skin, his accent.

WHAT IS NOT GOOD ...

Although the genetic hybrid angle is interesting, thought- provoking and ingenious, the film falls short in two respect-

1. The bloodcurdling, spine-chilling T-Tex from the previous Jurassic series are reduced to looking tame and in some scenes, lame even.

2. The new genetically-modified dinosaur called Indominus rex is no doubt terrifying but the plot to control it isn't implemented convincingly because of the #1 point above.

WHAT DOES THE BOX OFFICE COLLECTIONS SAY ABOUT THE MOVIE?

Jurassic World collected more than $500 million in global box office gross in its opening weekend— the most ever for a film. It topped the box office ranking its second weekend as well and is now set to create the record to collecting the fastest billion.

OVERALL ...

The movie is extremely scary, just the way we like it (not horror-movie scary, but thrilling terrifying). Kids will relate and reflect over the sibling bonding message and everyone will leave the theater discussing the pros and cons of the fast advancing science, the advancements made because we should versus those we are itching to make simply because we can.

As for the kids, do take your kids along (the movie is PG13) to watch this biblical epic. We went with kids (siblings and cousins) ranging in age from 6 to 16 and every one of them enjoyed the film. We felt that the fact that we had been watching the series with the kids over three days before helped as the kids knew what to expect. Also, we watched a late night show with kids cozy in their blankets and pjs. The wonderful fully reclined seats in the Columbus AMC (we were visiting family there) definitely added to our family adventure. So go ahead,  plan your family adventure soon (if you haven't already).

BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN 

Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Star cast - 

Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Harshaali Malhotra, Om Puri
(Picture posters and video credit: Eros Now.

You may subscribe to them directly)

Directed by: Kabir Khan

Produced by: Salman Khan & Rockline Venkatesh

Distributed by: Eros International

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT THE MOVIE

#1. The Cast

First things first. Salman Khan has of course come through for his ardent followers, but standing ovation to the production team (of which Salman Khan is part of) for picking who they picked for every single role- big or small. Kareena Kapoor in the lead glows and shines (no it is not a cameo!), Harshaali has no speaking lines (barring couple of screaming lines), but her gestures and cuteness speak to the audience. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a natural. He always is. The same goes for Om Puri. However, you really end up noticing every single character in the movie, the officer at the Pakistani Embassy, the Hanuman bhakts (devotees), pahalwans (wrestlers) in the akhara (rink) (okay those were probably real and we have seen them in other movies too), and even more so the Pakistanis across the border- the girl's family, the police men, the soldiers at the border (especially the one who talks at the very end), the journalists- the sophisticated and the crass. Adnan Sami's special appearance impresses as well.

#2. The Plot

This is quite simply put- the best India-Pakistan movie made to date- away from the terrorism plot, though its consequences shown in way of distrust and strain that marks the nature of the relationship between the two countries. 

#3. The Locations

The movie has been shot at various places- New Delhi, Mandawa (in Rajasthan), Salman Khan's Panvel farm house and Kashmir Valley. All sets and locations are stare-worthy, be it the by lanes of old Delhi or the mountains of Kashmir.  Apparently, the climax was shot at a 10,000 ft above the sea-level at Thajiwas Glacier in Sonmarg, Kashmir. "The 300-strong technical crew had to trek for an hour through snow every morning to reach the location. Added to this, were the 7,000 extras that we had on set every day. Transporting them in buses, and then embarking on the hour-long trek was a huge logistical challenge for the production. To add to their woes were the sub-zero temperatures, and hail storms that would interrupt the shoot," said director Kabir Khan recounting the challenges of shooting the film as per the Hindustan Times.

#4. The Clothes

The clothes are certainly noteworthy throughout the movie- be the bright yellow-orange colored garbs of the Hanuman followers or the long flowing kaftans seen in Pakistan and Kashmir. Kareena Kapoor's simple suits simply standout too.

SO THEN, WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD ... 

#1. The movie, at times, seems more documentary-like rather than entertaining, especially during the first half. It's not the pace- that is okay enough. It isn't the plot either- that is gripping enough. In a similar genre, PK was more entertaining. However, there are quite a few good jokes and hilarious scenes- especially during the second half. 

HOW DID THE MOVIE FARE?

According to Business Of Cinema, the movie earned Rs. 26 crore net approx. on its first day at the Box Office and has earned Rs. 36.50 crore net approx. on its second day. Bajrangi Bhaijaan film showed the highest ever single day collection for a Salman Khan starer. As for the overall weekend collection, the movie has broken all records with earning of Rs.100 crore net approx. at the box office on the weekend.

WE SAY ...

This is by far the best movie made on the India- Pakistan theme for two reasons-

1. The issue of India- Pak animosity is dealt with and discussed on the other side of the border too for a change. In all previous movies made on the theme, the goal appears to be to generate sympathy or reduce distrust for the people of Pakistan in the hearts of Indians. In this movie, the issue is taken across the border, addressing the people of Pakistan. In the process, we get to see a more humane side of Pakistan as well along with what we already know exits- hostility for India and Indians.

2. For the first time ever, Muslims are seen being taught to say Jai Shree Ram to the Hindus, Muslims are seen to join their hands together, along with Hindus saying Aadab (form of greeting for the Muslims) to the Muslims.

3. The movie conveys powerful messages of humanity over country and religion, of mutual respect and tolerance for each other's religion, without being preachy.

TO WATCH OR NOT TO WATCH ... 

If you want to participate in all the discussions that the movie is invoking, watch it in theater.

If you are a Salman Khan fan, don't delay your experience of watching him as an honest, speak-only-the-truth-and-nothing-but simpleton, as Bajrangi Bhaijan.

Otherwise, you may wait for the original dvd or netflix- but watch it you must.

MY PERSONAL TAKE AWAY ... 

I am a Hanuman (Hindu Monkey God) bhakt (devotee). When my kids were babies, I put them to sleep by singing Hanuman Chalisa and Sankat Mochan (Hanuman songs). Watching the movie gave them a good sense of what it means to be a Hanuman devotee. They enjoyed the Hanuman songs playing in the backdrop and the wonderful colors all round.

My personal take away was also explaining the acrimony between India and Pakistan to my kids who, living in America, do not get the first hand experience. It was an educational experience for them to watch how the enmity plays out in different scenarios- in context of religion and war, the far- reaching consequences of the bitterness and mistrust- how getting a visa for other countries is easier than to each other's country's, how merely saying you're an Indian on Pakistani soil can get you thrown into the jail for life as a "spy", how helping a Pakistani is unthinkable on des ki mitti (Indian soil). Our discussion went on and my kids had this question- if Japan can move past America's bombing that destroyed its two cities and caused damage that manifested for two generations, if the world has forgiven Britain for colonizing and exploiting them, why does Pakistan hold a grudge against India for getting Kashmir, even after almost 70 years? That too when the king of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, himself chose to become part of India. Like always I had to say this- it is in Pakistan's advantage to bury the past and thrive for economic development and social upliftment. Pakistan's gain lies in being to India what Mexico, or even, Canada is to America. Or rise such that India in comparison is its Canada or pales to looking like its Mexico (no offense to Mexico).

DRISHYAM

Drishyam

Release: July 31st 2015 

Starring: Ajay Devgan, Shriya Saran, Tabu, Rajat Kapoor, Ishita Dutta, Kamlesh Sawant
(Video & Poster credit: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures You may subscribe to them directly)

Directed by: Nishikant Kamat

Produced by: Kumar Mangat Pathak, Ajit Andhare, Abhishek Pathak

Written by: Upendra Sidhaye

Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj

The movie is a re-make of a Malayalam movie that made history in becoming the highest grossing Malayalam movie in 30 days. Ekta Kapoor had claimed that the film is based on the Japanese author Keigo Higashino's book, The Devotion of Suspect X, but the Malayalam film's director is said to have denied it.

THREE THINGS THE MOVIE HAS GOING FOR IT ...

#1. The Cast: Ajay Devgan has, as always, executed the role to perfection. Some say that in the original Malayalam version, Mohanlal has done a better job. Not seen the Malayalam version, but love Ajay Devgan's subtle and understated approach to character portrayal. His body language, his subdued style of talking- all present a package that exude depth. With every new movie, he reminds us why we love him so much. Tabu is par  excellence as I.G. police and so is Ishita Dutta (Tanushree Dutta's sister) as the older daughter- especially considering that she is 24 and played the role of a 16-year-old. Everyone else does a good job- Shriya Sharan as the young mother,  Rajat Kapoor as Tabu's husband, Mrunal Jadhav as the second daughter,  Kamlesh Sawant as a cop, etc.

#2. The Plot and the pace- The plot is riveting and the pace just perfect. Boy takes video of a girl unbeknownst to her. From that point onward the movie takes you on a ride you're not likely to forget, climaxing and never disappointing! Enough said.

#3. The Set/ Locations - The movie is shot in Goa. Apart from a few beautiful panoramic shots, the focus is not really the beauty of Goa- its beaches or the architecture or the cultural Portugal influence. Yet, the look and feel is captivating.The greenery, the buildings, the rain- all stare-worthy.

THE NOT SO CONVINCING ANGLES ...

#1. Character introduction : Ajay Devgan plays the part of a perfect family man who uses every bit of his brain power to protect his family. Except that his character wasn't introduced in that particular manner with respect to his family. He stood up for the weak, yes. He was a simple man, yes. But he was made to come across as a husband who went home for sex alone. He was portrayed as a father who stayed away from his responsibility. This was in stark contradiction to how the movie plays out.

#2.The age difference between Ajay Devgan and his wife- at first, you go- not again! When will the film-makers learn? What is wrong with the producers? Ajay Devgan would have looked so much more graceful against an actress closer to his age- Manisha Koirala, Sushmita Sen, Kajol, Juhi Chawla- to name a few. However, there is a scene that convinces you that the much younger actress was there for a reason- that scene being the one where she seems as clueless as her daughter in the face of adversity (don't want to reveal the plot). A more matured mother would probably have handled it better- but then there would be no story, right? So for once, we'll let the age difference pass. Especially since the purpose of keeping a pretty young thing was not to lure in the street crowd with a skin and dance show. Shriya Saran carried herself well and with grace, Interestingly, though, the lead in the Malyalam film is not as young and seems appropriate against the male lead.

We Say:

We say this is undoubtedly a  MUST WATCH MOVIE with your entire family.  Of course, the obvious reasons are the plot, the locations and the cast, but there is more to the movie than the thrill of the perfectly woven plot, the practical yet eye catching sets and locations, the exemplary acting, And this is what that is- an opportunity to have an at-length discussions with your daughters and son-

1. to tell your daughter to be always vigilant, to not allow any boy to take pictures and videos of you, to do your best to not be in a situation where your privacy is compromised. BUT if that does happen- knowingly or unknowingly, IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Tell her that her body is just like any other body- prettier than millions and less so than millions. Tell her to not let herself be blackmailed, to hold her head high under any circumstances, to not be embarrassed or worse, shamed by the actions of others.

2. to tell your son to never ever take a girl's picture or video of her without her permission. If you don't teach your son to be a gentleman, others will teach him that bad deeds lead to ugly outcomes. 

Let this movie be a lesson for all parents- parents of daughters, as well as sons! 

MEET THE PATELS

Meet The Patels

Release Date: September 11, 2015

Star cast - 

The real-life Patel family

Written by: Ravi V. Patel, Geeta V. Patel, BillyMcMillin,and Matthew Hamachek

Produced by: Janet Eckholm & Geeta V. Patel

Executive Producers: Geralyn!Dreyfous, Vijay Vaidyanathan, Vasant K. Patel, Niraj Bhatia

Directed by: Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel

The movie is a real-life recording of Ravi Patel's quest to find a Patel wife that would become a part of his Patel world in America. The recording, done by sister, Geeta Patel, in 2012-13, was always intended to be made into a documentary. However, at the time, the parents didn't take it seriously. 

THINGS THE MOVIE HAS GOING FOR IT ...

#1. The Plot and the Pace: The fact that the movie is a real-life recording of events and emotions, lends an amazingly fresh angle to the documentary style movie without in any way taking away the "movie" aspect of viewing. Anything that is not a real recording, is presented in animation form, ensuring no "acting" in the making of the film. The pace is excellent and gripping, keeping you riveted to the unfolding of events. You understand and relate with every aspect of the Patel life, even though you are most likely not a Patel. You want those parents and realize you already have them. You want that brother, that sister and know they are yours, in your life.

#2. The Cast-

This is as real as it gets. You can't make up any of this. The best set of actors in the world can't convey what the Patel family easily, effortlessly and naturally conveys- the family bond, the care, the love and the drive to carry all that forth in future generations. You find yourself intently listening to every statement that came out of the dad's mouth, the mom's mouth, the sister's and the brother's. The parents are, in two words- the best.

#3. The Communication- From scene one you notice the excellent communication among the Patel family members. You realize how open the conversation channel is among them, you feel the easy vibes in the air, you perceive the affection they share, you understand what they don't voice and why.

#4. The Humor- You burst out laughing in several scenes in the movie. It seems almost unbelievable that the dialogues are not scripted. What a hilarious family- bet there is never a dull moment in their life.

WHERE IT FAILS ... 

Nowhere. There is no suggestion that can be possibly offered to make the movie any more humorous or real or entertaining.

We Say:

We love movies that are educational, that provides excellent opportunities for parents to have varied kinds of discussions with their children. This is one such movie. It provides ample topics to discuss. The passion, the desire and the love that drives parents to do and say things that they do, the importance of continuing the family traditions and culture that you appreciate as a part of your life growing up, the significance of such traditions. The biggest take away from the movie is the importance of instilling in your child the confidence of conveying their own thoughts, beliefs and ideas to the parents and knowing that they will be well received by them.

PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

Salman Khan & Sooraj Barjatya come together after a span of 16 years #PremIsBack with his charm in this magnum opus! 

Also starring Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Anupam Kher and others. 

Produced by Rajshri Productions (P) Ltd and presented by Fox Star Studios.

(Movie Info and Video credit: Rajshri )

Directed by Sooraj Barjatya, the "Prem" character from the movie "Hum Apke Hain Koun" from 1984 (also directed by him with Salman in the lead), is advertised to be back with #PremIsBack.

THREE THINGS THE MOVIE HAS GOING FOR IT ...

#1. The Cast: 

Salman Khan, at 49, couldn't have looked better. He carries himself well and manages to portray a "street-side actor" character with elegance, at no point looking "too old to be doing that". No, he didn't give any shirtless scenes, even though he does rip off the sleeves when removing the shirt would have made more sense.

Sonam Kapoor has never looked this stunning, has never acted this well and has totally owned the role. She looks regal in her princess role that appear to be inspired from India's famous queen, Maharani Gayatri Devi - the look, the hair-do, the sarees, the suits, the necklaces.

Talking of their chemistry- Sonam Kapoor, at 30, looked vibrant and youthful, but her chemistry with Salman is convincing despite the almost 20 years difference. You feel the love. And you know why.

Anupam Kher, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Swara Bhaskar- have all done well, looked good.

#2. The Sheer Beauty-

Every shot in the movie is "stare-worthy". The marigold flowers, the vibrantly colored attires to match the fresh flowers, the regal outfits, the sets, the locations, the palatial panoramas - you want to miss nothing.

#3. The Songs-

The songs, composed by Himesh Reshammiya, are melodious. The music rights was sold to T-Series at a whopping 17 crores, making it the biggest music deal in the industry to date. according to koimoi.com. 

WHERE IT FAILS ... 

1. There is nothing impressive, not original about the plot.

2. The movie presents beautiful aspects from multiple cultures, Gujarati, Rajasthani and parts of U.P, while packaging it as one. It fails to make it educational about one given culture. 

We Say:

This Diwali release was obviously made with the goal of providing a family entertainment to the audience. The heavy dosage of rich culture and tradition, combined with message of family harmony and loyalty plays well with that goal. I for one am a sucker for movies that glorify any and every aspect of our extremely colorful cultural heritage, even when presented in a hop-notch manner, crossing cultural boundaries. Adding to the family-viewing, there are no sexually-charged-and titillating song-dance sequence. This is a must watch family movie.

BAJIRAO MASTANI

Bajirao Mastani

Release Date: Dec 18, 2015

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone & Priyanka Chopra
Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Produced by: Kishore Lulla & Sanjay Leela Bhansali

ALL CREDITS TO EROS NOW

WHAT'S HOT ... The movie that was always expected to showcase the magnificence of the maratha empire, the grandeur of palatial living and a true Hindu-Muslim love-story, delivers in all fronts.

#1. Cast: 

After over a decade of search post Aishwarya- Salman (the intended lead pair for the movie) break-up, Sanjay Leela Bhansali found his Bajirao and Mastani in Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. And man do they deliver ...

Ranveer Singh couldn't have found a better saga to live out on screen, a better platform to perform, a better director to bring out the best in him and a better heroine to romance the historical love affair with. Herein met all the forces to make this movie a majestic frame that showcases his immense talent. Ranveer's accent, his physical frame, his looks, his eyes, his body language- all subtly screamed the power of the peshwa that he plays.

Deepika Padukone, as the female lead, Mastani, is in no way behind. Her simplistic beauty is eye-catching in every shot, her slender frame is noticeable in every frame, her skill in emoting love, tolerance, acceptance and courage is subtle and never goes unnoticed.   

Priyanka Chopra, might not be the lead, but she has shown maturity and wisdom in accepting this role. The movie provides her with a platform to portray a new side of her already proven acting ability. As the first wife of a love-stricken husband, she is convincing beyond words. 

Tanzi Azmi walks more than an extra mile for her role as the peshwa's widowed mother. Milind Soman looks and does well.

#2. The Costumes ...

Every costume in the movie worn by Ranveer, Deepika, Priyanka and even other marathas, impress you to no length with the details, the style, the design, the trims, and most of all the richness conveyed while still keeping the colors and style subtle. There is nothing gaudy about the color choices, nothing loud about the styles and nothing less than sophistication and stateliness symbolized.

#3. Sets and Locations ...

If you have ever visited the many forts in India, you're sure to have attempted to visualize the time when those forts were functional, when they were home to the kings and the queens. Resplendence of the palaces in the 17th/18th century in India has never before been portrayed in such glory and yet subtlety. Every set appears to provide to you a real peek into the past- the royal courtroom, the palatial chambers, heck, even the bathroom makes you go, "this is how it must have been".

#4. The plot ...

The movie is based on the book, 'Raau' by Ragnath S. Inamdar that is the real life story of the invincible maratha warrior, Bajirao, also called Raau, who fought and won 40 battles, but lost the war of the religion when he brought home a Muslim bride. The movie presents a broadly accurate representation of historical facts, though the makers confess to dramatization to a certain extent. Whatever, the level of accuracy, the story makes for the most romantic and the most heart- wrenching real-life Hindu- Muslim love story ever told.

#5. The Music ...

The music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself is excellent. The various beautifully sung songs and classically performed dances seemed to serve the purpose of accentuating the beauty of the subjects, while highlighting the treasure that our classical and folk dances are, even though they have no historical relevance and so lead to what's not hot ...

WHAT'S NOT HOT ...

We know of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's one caprice that comes in the way of his broadly factual story-telling. His whim of showing his two female leads in a dance together. We saw that in Devdas when for no apparent reason (with respect to the story-line) he made Madhuri and Aishwarya dance together in "Dola Re". Here too, he had to have a "Pinga" dance for Deepika and Priyanka. The song and dance sequence of course has great market value, but alas, seemed to take away from the bigger purpose of creating a close-to-facts historical saga.


OVERALL ...

Bajirao Mastani is Sanjay Leela Bhansali's art piece on history (living, clothing, traditions and culture) gifted to the current generation, providing a peek into the past, educating on parts of the great maratha empire that can be easily extrapolated to understand, even explore. greater details. It presents an intriguing picture of the glory days of the great empires that dominated the political scene of India in the 17th and 18th century, of royal opulence, and sadly, the plight of the women amidst it all. And in the process the movie also preaches, rather inadvertently, many lessons that are relevant even today. Hopefully it makes every parent realize that realm of the religion we follow is best set to the extent where it enriches our lives, not taketh away the joy and peace from our children. Hopefully it opens our eyes to the fact that parenting is not a power-game, to not misuse the status of being a parent to force your grownup children to define happiness as per your denotation, to live life in accordance with your rules and to follow their religion by your interpretation. The idea of watching history must also be to learn from it. This mammoth saga has much to teach, in a manner so majestic that it leaves you in awe.

DILWALE

Dilwale

CAST: Kajol, Shah Rukh Khan, Varun Dhawan & Kriti Sanon in the lead roles.

Directed by: Rohit Shetty 

Produced by: Gauri Khan

Release Date: 18th December 2015.

ALL CREDITS FOR INFO & TRAILER GOES TO Red Chillies Entertainmen

So what's wrong with the movie?

#1. Lets begin with Rohit Shetty. Rohit Shetty, the man who is known to bring Bollywood masala at its best with movies like Golmaal (2006), Golmaal Returns (2008), Golmaal 3 (2010), Bol Bachchan (2012), Singham (2011), Sigham Returns (2014) with Ajay Devgan, has clearly lost touch with himself. When he did Chennai Express (2013) with Shah Rukh Khan, you could see it was Rohit Shetty meets Shah Rukh Khan production. In Dilwale, my biggest grimace with the movie is that you don't see Rohit Shetty anywhere in the movie, it just doesn't seem like a Rohit Shetty directed/ produced movie. In a recent interview, Mr. Shetty confessed to feeling scared to venture away from the time-tested masala that he produces, but in this he fails himself. The movie is an all out Shah Rukh production (even if you would even call it that), there is no sign of Shetty in it.

#2. SRK has pleased his fans in many successful and supremely entertaining movies in the past where he himself plays a slightly older lead along with young stars, like- Aditya Chopra directed Mohabbatein produced by Yash Raj in 2000 when was he was 35 and Farah Khan directed Main Hoon Na in 2004 produced by his own Red Chillies Entertainment when he was 39. In comparison, Dilwale, truly pales. Shah Rukh Khan is an astute businessman, the movie doesn't befit his intellect. 

#3.And why does this pale? It's the plot, or lack thereof. The movie has no substance whats-so-ever which is grossly highlighted by it's competitor Bajirao Mastani that released on the same day. All that aside,  surely SRK didn't base the entire marketing strategy on his reunion with Kajol? Romantic though that on-screen reunion was, the plot didn't do justice to the famous pairing. For one thing, the flashback of Shah Rukh and Kajol was too long. When you have the good sense of casting a romantic pair of the 90s now, a 50-year hero with a 41-year equally talented heroine, you don't want to show 99% of the romantic scenes in flashback as if they are still in their 20s. You want to keep the story around the characters as they are now. There is nothing wrong with flashbacks, but those should be kept extremely relevant. While Shah Rukh's makeup in his 15 years younger avatar was excellent, Kajol's wasn't convincing enough. Even if that fact is ignored, the long '15 years back' took away from the movie.

#4.Moving on to the sets and locations- even though the movie presents ultra glamorous sets and beautiful by-lanes of Bulgaria, there appears to be something artificial about the sets, and some video filter on the locations' shots that made it look very postcard like. 

WHAT'S GOOD? In Dilwale, all is not bad, however.

#1. Cast 

Big marks to Shah Rukh for casting Kajol and proving to the Indian audience that our around-50 heros don't have to be paired with 20-something-skinny heroines, that matured men look manly with matured women. And equal credit to Kajol for proving him right. She's a natural in every role, at any age! Their chemistry looks good, you feel the romance, the love. The pair look as good as they did  in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995, the movie on which the reunion was based on with the hope that it would evoke nostalgia among the fans. And it most certainly did, at least the first week when it pulled crowd in large numbers.
Shah Rukh Khan looks truly dashing and debonair without once removing his shirt (you can't really count the nipple revealing soaking wet shirt). Facial hair suited him well and his uniquely styled solid-color shirts looked suave and obviously hinted at the underlying toned torso. He carried the older-brother image to perfection and again, looked dashing doing it.
Varun Dhawan started off bad, giving the impression that he accepted the role in his eagerness to star with Shah Rukh (as my friend put it), but he soon allowed his natural talent to take over, shining through as the movie progressed.
Kriti Sanon and Varun Sharma look good and do good. Varun Sharma especially deserves a mention for an excellent portrayal of "today's boyfriend".

TO WATCH OR NOT?

Watch it ONLY if you're a die- hard Shah Rukh Khan fan. Otherwise, the movie really just deserves a at-home viewing experience, that too only ONLY because the "king khan" looks really good and because the movie celebrates his on-screen pairing with Kajol. Okay, you do get your occasional laughs too, but the movie is truly bad. I myself watched it after two weeks of it release because I didn't want to contribute to its two-week collections, not because I am anti-SRK (I'm not. In fact, I am an almost-fan :)), not even because I am all for Bajirao Mastani (which I am!), but because I strongly feel people of Rohit Shetty and Shah Rukh Khan caliber have got to do better than this! They have got to give us better reason to shell out money in expensive theaters than "ah, here comes this leading pair again!" Nothing I saw in the trailer made me want to rush to the theater to watch the movie- not even to write the review.

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