Review: SIMMBA

Written by  on December 28, 2018

SIMMBALY IRRESISTIBLE!

3 stars


Mini Review:


A street smart orphan realises that the corrupt cops have money and power, so he grows up to become one. Ranveer Singh crackles in the title role of Simmba and wins us over in this simple tale of bad cop turning into gold. Eminently watchable!


Main Review:

Welcome To The Rohit Shetty Khaki Avengers Cinematic Universe...


You enter the theatre with trepidation. Rohit Shetty brand of films can be deafening and blinding. Each time Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn) punches or slaps the bad guys there is a distinct possibility that the sound guy will crank up the volume of the slap beyond tolerable. And the acid colors of vehicles colliding or exploding mid air or both will surely make you run for cover. Simmba did not need any colliding vehicles. Ranveer Singh was enough.


Ranveer Singh has perhaps the best comic timing of them all today. He delivers all his corny punchlines really well. Stars with a, ‘Pamper me or you will hamper me…’ And before you look at your neighbor and say, ‘Whaaa?’ he’s on to, ‘Dard hai ghutne mein, takleef hai uthne mein.’


His Marathi sounds more authentic than Bajirao Singham’s delivery. But Singham had nicer songs. Simmba wins simply because Ranveer Singh has so much energy, but then we all know that. As Simmba would say, ‘Tell me something I don’t know.’


So Simmba as a little lad watches power at play when he sees a corrupt cop counting cash after beating up the leader of pickpockets, and decides he will study hard and become a policeman. I gagged at the ‘Police’ tattoo on Simmba’s arm. But it got a whole lot of whistles, that’s for sure. Grown up Simmba is very clear. He wants to make lots of money, and allows baddies like Durva Ranade (played wonderfully by Sonu Sood) to call him a dog who instead of Pedigree, gets fed with cash. Simmba has been posted to the Miramar Police Station in Goa and as long as he keeps his mouth shut and helps the baddie Durva Ranade to continue doing his thing all is okay.

This gives Simmba time to romance the local pretty lass (Sara Ali Khan, whose role does not require her to do much) who runs a catering business across from the police station. If the movie starts out with five stars as a rating, then the pointlessness of the romantic thread (especially the teenagerish jealous streak Simmba shows when her best friend shows up) will lose the film one star. It’s funny only because Ranveer Singh makes the funny bits really funny. Anyone else would have been slapped several times. And yes, the ‘feeling shy’ bit was unexpected and adorable.


The Writing Is Great Until The Second Half...

The turning point comes too late in the life of corrupt and cocky Simmba. By now you want to slap that girl who bravely ventures into the drug den armed only with a phone. The inevitable happens to Akruti and you actually feel like jumping into the screen and waking up the drunken sleeping gorgeousness that is Simmba so he can save the girl. The drunken scene with Ashutosh Rana - who plays the upright cop Mohile - is fabulous. This brings us to the prolonged hospital scene that makes you want to weep with frustration and cut off another half star. So now this three and a half star film begins to limp to the conclusion. Thank goodness Ranveer Singh can play angry cop really well. I love the breaking furniture scene with bodies of baddies and put my fingers into me mouth to whistle at the uniform hanging in Ranveer’s office. Yay! The avenging hero emerges!


Gone are the silly (but funny) dialog, and now it is turn for the throw cash at the screen dialog. But not before you have torn your hair out at the very long pity party scene where everyone wants to kill the rapists but profess their helplessness. You understand why it is long, but you wish everyone would just nod to ‘kill the rapists’ together instead of saying it individually. It’s painful to chop another half star but the superb dialog Simmba throws at the snarling Sonu Sood restrained by a swarm of cops earns it back. Ranveer’s revenge story is complete, but not over for Sonu Sood.


In a horrible Korean TV show style torture scene, we now wait for the predictable but oh-so-enjoyable ‘boss fight’. Ajay Devgn’s Singham shows up to rescue Simmba, and the two beat up all the baddies. The Rohit Shetty Khaki Avengers Universe gets another character and the theatre erupts in whoops and whistles.


So what happens to the last half star? It gets knocked off because the inane songs are used as transition from one situation to another. It gets knocked off because bribing the little mute lad’s dad is a cheap plot trick to get rid of a witness. It also gets knocked off because they had to show Akruti’s ghost smiling at the camera once the revenge is done.


But the film truly belongs to Ranveer Singh and Ranveer Singh only. He’s brilliant and funny, and super buff. Plus he has great legs. Book your tickets now, and don’t forget to take your sunglasses!


(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)        


Review: ZERO

Written by  on December 21, 2018

Shah Rukh Is Shah Rukh, Baaki Sab Zero


2 stars


Mini Review:


It’s a Shah Rukh Khan film. He plays Bauwa Singh, a vertically challenged person who has immense swag. He thinks he was born to love ‘em and leave ‘em, but until he understands the meaning of love, he’s a zero…


Main Review:

Rab Ne Bana Di Ajeeb Jodi


Shah Rukh fans will ‘Ooh!’ and ‘aah!’ because Shah Rukh has this certain something that goes beyond his dimples. He has that swag. And in this movie, though he’s shown to be vertically challenged, literally named Bauwa Singh, it is bravado, his immense self-confidence that makes the first half likeable even though it is pretty weird to see him in this avatar. He’s sassy, self-deprecating and rude and fun.


Beyond Badshah’s badassery, everything else is just gawdawful. There. I’ve said it. For a Shah Rukh film. How can that even be possible? Let us count the ways.


Bauwa lives in Meerut, but everything - from the streets to the house to the market - is so fake, you know it’s a film set. Bauwa’s dad (Tigmanshu Dhulia) is ready to beat up his son, insulting him, and everyone has to pull him back. His mom (Sheeba Chaddha) protects her son from the dad. There are other family members around to take sides, but are never identified. They misuse Brijendra Kala who just appears on screen to offer Shah Rukh mithai and then eat it and exit right. Why?


But the most annoying person of the film is Bauwa’s friend Guddu played by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub who is usually so good as a ‘friend’ in all his movies, the director allowed him to do whatever he wanted. And of course the lad proved that everyone, but everyone studies in the Noida School of Overacting. Guddu sports the most ridiculous colored hair (nobody checked or cared that it changed in one scene), has a ‘made in China’ eye, walks around with a torch, says, ‘Blind person coming through’ (which is not funny and doesn’t fit for a bumpkin from the country). After a while, you just want to swat him off the screen.

Originality Zero

Shah Rukh manipulates Anushka Sharma into falling in love with him. It's like watching a weird new age Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi with disabled people. And you cannot put a finger on it, but the Bollywoodisation of differently abled people sets my teeth on edge. I don't know if they are trying to get a laugh out of vertically challenged people and people suffering from life threatening diseases by putting them in a Bollywood romantic situation or there is a genuine empathy at work here. The Theory Of Everything made Hawking human, but in this movie, Anushka Sharma's speech about how Bauwa saw her as a girl rather than a disabled person on a wheelchair is the closest you get for empathy. There are awful references about dwarf people in circuses, and Bauwa's dad even suggests that Anushka Sharma's father make money off Bauwa by getting to perform in the circus which make you cringe in your seat. And I'm not even getting into comapring earlier films like Appu Raja where Kamala Hasan plays a dwarf. There is a certain level of empathy in that film. Here, there is not a single line about Bauwa's feelings of isolation because he's 'different', just bravado. It takes a Shah Rukh Khan to pull this off. But you know it's just a shallow thing. Perhaps even to get kudos for 'special effects'.

Anushka Sharma plays Stephen Hawking type scientist, but that would mean someone would need to work hard on the script instead of just some cheap laughs about Shah Rukh’s dimples. So they make her into a space scientist, someone who found water on Mars. She’s even going to send a chimp to Mars but the chimp behaves badly so he doesn’t have to go to Mars (leaving chimp family behind) because they sense things...Don’t ask. Just pray no one gets the references about math being right from Hidden Figures. But we’re seeing Mohan Bhargav from Swades turn into a pale imitation of Ryan Gosling from First Man and there are umpteen references of ‘Toot-ta tara’ from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to keep you counting scenes inspired from movies.


Before you upchuck popcorn all over the people sitting in front, I had better tell you about Katrina Kaif who plays a movie star called Babita Kumari. Who thought up these names? It’s not clever, but idiotic. Especially because they even call Anushka Sharma Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder. So Bauwa Singh is infatuated by the movie star, and leaves his physicist girlfriend to pursue her. She is fascinated by his swag and sass and sort of keeps him for a pet, ‘Kal se shoot par aa jao!’ (Come for the shoot from tomorrow). For once you don’t hate Katrina for speaking in that anglicised Hindi. In fact, in a couple of scenes, she is a saving grace. Her assistant asks her to fix her bra strap and Katrina says, ‘Let them see! They’re dying to write about a boozed out star who had a wardrobe malfunction!’


You go, ‘Wow!’ Where did such home-truths about fans and the paparazzi come from? Surely not the same person who then in a Bruce Wayne inspired moment, has Katrina Kaif shoo away all the guests at the party.


There’s not a single original thing in the film, you sigh as you watch the Shah Rukh ogle fest (even though he’s shown to be only 4 foot 6 inches tall) when he trains to be an astronaut who is going away in a Passengers inspired sleeping pod to Mars on a space flight. Oh yes, there’s a shot of Shah Rukh on Mars just like how Matt Damon in The Martian, is shown tapping on the camera. The trouble is, when you are lifting off so many scenes from Hollywood, you forget that Shah Rukh is the only man going to Mars, then who is the guy with him a la First Man on the flight? How many times do they want you to facepalm?


Did I say, how sigh inducing Shah Rukh is, despite the weird size? And it was love from fans when he made the stars fall from the skies… Until Kajol showed up in the movie (so did all the Lux soap ladies) and said, ‘Show us the falling stars’ like she did in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, and killed the romance in this movie.


Oh yes, they even copy… Erm… Pay tribute to The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs at the start of the film. That was actually nice. That and Shah Rukh’s swag. Everything else is like the title of the film.


(this review, sans my personal view about differently abled people appears on www.nowrunning.com)       

Review: KEDARNATH

Written by  on December 7, 2018

Disaster Romance

2 stars

Mini Review:

A Hindu-Muslim romance set in the temple town of Kedarnath, at the time of the deadly cloudburst that wiped out thousands of people. The film launches Sara Ali Khan and she has infinite possibilities although the film doesn’t.

Main Review:

Sara Ali Khan Is A Discovery, Despite The Disaster Romance

The premise of setting a romance right before disaster strikes is rather exploitative and dreadful. But the young Sara Ali Khan is luminous and can deliver wicked dialogue with seasoned ease. She makes the practically cliched love story between a poor Muslim worker in love with a Hindu girl, a daughter of a priest, rather refreshing. Kanika Dhillon (she wrote Manmarziyan too) writes her as a rather rebellious daughter of a priest. Credit goes to the young girl who shows flashes of her beautiful mum’s talent (Amrita Singh) and brings a little something of her own on screen. There’s talent here, and it is enough to take your mind away from the horrendous cliches that make the movie.

More Than The Cloudburst, It's The Cliches That Make The Movie Disastrous

Besides the glaring glitch: Kedarnath is a very small town, if both live there, shouldn't the heroine have noticed the hero earlier? Especially when her dad knows him well? But there are more cliches to worry about...

The hero is a poor Muslim lad who ekes a living by ferrying people up to Kedarnath on his horse or carrying them on his back. He’s so good, his mother (the ever so good Alka Amin) has to scold him about saving money rather than spending it all on the pilgrims.

The villain is a Hindu guy who is planning to build a hotel and resorts etc., engaged to be married to the heroine who doesn’t want to be engaged to him…

The father of the heroine (Nitish Bharadwaj) is a priest and hotel owner, has dreams of being head priest at Kedarnath temple. He is stern and a patriarch, likes the Muslim hero as long as his daughter doesn’t fall for the poor boy. He gets to mouth really pathetic Bollywood cliches like, ‘Tumhari himmat kaise huyi mere ghar ki taraf aankh uthane ki!’ (How dare you even look at my home, aka, fall for my daughter!)

There is a mother and a sister too, and the mother is shown to be pious and quiet. But the sibling rivalry is great. Alas, the audience has seen the film Patakha and when the sisters slap each other, that’s what some wise guys yelled, taking away from the cliche any gravitas.

The cinematography is rather wonderful, but then the setting in the Himalayas cannot but be spectacular. In fact, it will make you want to visit the temple town. And as temple towns need, there is a very catchy quasi religious song that makes your heart well up. The camera catches the temple town in all its glorious colors.

There is a Hindu Muslim tension that could have made the film awful, but the director manages to keep it in control. When Mansoor Khan, the hero, stands up in the community gathering and makes the point with the dialogue, ‘We belong here,’ I found myself grateful that cinema is speaking on behalf of the Muslims and all liberal folk.

The disaster strikes and there is a cloudburst, but we don’t do special effects too well. At first you think you are going to see something terrible, but it isn’t too bad. But you know it’s fake, so you know everyone is acting. In fact, if the curtains in your kitchen catch fire, you will scream, but here the mom and sister don’t even know it’s happening… Obviously post production addition, or they would have screamed even more. The final disaster scene goes on and on and you wish someone - the hero or the heroine - would drown and end it all for us…

The romance is fun, and Sara Ali Khan actually carries the film. Sushant Singh Rajput acts embarrassed quite well. But watch it for her.  


(the review sans sub heads appears on www.nowrunning.com)