RUSTOM – A few thoughts

I went in to watch Rustom knowing very little about the Nanavati murder case that it is loosely based on and has two previous big screen installments in Gulzarsaab’s Achanak and Yeh Rastey Hain Pyar Ke with Sunil Dutt.

Rustom Pavri, a highly decorated and respected naval commander shoots the man who was having an affair with his wife when he was away on duty and turns himself in to the Police. The movie focuses mainly on subsequent investigation and trial and frequently flashbacks into events leading to the murder.


Rustom has a fairly engaging plot and for a lot of it, is quite pacy and will keep you interested in knowing what will happen. Now and then it lapses into lengthy flashbacks that act as speed bumps. The second half – which mainly comprises of the courtroom sequences goes in a very different direction to what I was expecting. Remember those 80s masala movies ke court scenes? Where someone cracks a dialogue and the entire audience in the court erupts into laughter, claps, whistles and the poor judge is left screaming Order Order! That is pretty much the route Rustom takes post interval. It sacrifices intensity and seriousness and plays completely to the gallery going for laughs instead. They work in a lot of places but if you want to like it, you’ve got to make peace with this not being a serious courtroom drama very early on in the case. For fans of American TV shows with a legal backdrop, a lot of things will seem very amateurish and even laughable.

Most of the cast does well. Akshay Kumar is sincere and underplays to a tee – the righteous naval commander who does the right thing in the wrong way. Ileana looks really pretty and is fairly efficient as his repentant wife. Kumud Mishra (best of the lot), Pawan Malhotra, Anang Desai, Usha Nadkarni play their likable parts well. I’d have liked to see Esha Gupta show at least one expression of grief at the loss of her brother, but I guess she skipped that stage entirely.

What I also quite liked was the way it created the era with the sets, make-up and costumes. The movie has some passable numbers with Tere Sang Yaara being the best of the lot.

In some places the effects do come off a tad tacky. What I didn’t like is the super loud background score. In general the movie carries an over-the-top tone and is very in your face. The flashbacks get a bit repetitive and it also features one of the worst jury sequences I’ve seen on celluloid.

Overall, Rustom mostly works, just not in the way I expected it to. Don’t go in expecting a serious thriller or courtroom drama, and you will be entertained.

Rustom2My score: 6 on 10


Genre: Crime, mystery

Directed by: Tinu Suresh Desai

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Ileana D’Cruz

Running time: 150 minutes


DISHOOM – A few thoughts

To find a ‘masala’ movie with an interesting premise and plot is not so common these days. That’s why when such a movie doesn’t do a lot with it, it’s even more frustrating to watch. And that is Dishoom’s biggest problem.

Star cricketer and India captain ‘Viraj’ – *Ahem* is kidnapped on the eve of an India Pakistan final in Abu Dhabi with a ransom call from a cricket-obsessed fan, no less. Cue to send in Buddy Cop Hero #1 – the tough, serious, law-breaking, chain smoking cop from India who joins forces with Buddy Cop Hero #2 – a good-hearted, bumbling, over-enthu, rookie yuppie. The unlikely twosome thus join forces to find the missing cricketer and catch whoever’s behind this.


The movie is full of all the cliches you can find in such a movie from personality clashes, item songs, mystery women, evil henchmen, chases through crowded areas (one that was very reminiscent of the last Tintin movie), it’s all there. Having said that, it’s quite funny, the pace is fairly frenetic and things never get boring through most of the first half. Our heroes share banter, actors make interesting cameos including one absolutely hilarious one. Call it the curse of the second half or whatever you will, after an engaging setup, things then just fizzle out. The much awaited and promised confrontation between our heroes and baddies pretty much never happens.

The performances are reduced to our two chiseled leading men demonstrating a lot of swag, women looking very sexy and Akshaye Khanna trying to be very menacing. John Abraham is… well John Abraham. Varun Dhawan, although funny occasionally, seems to have played the good hearted simpleton far too often even in his short career but Akshaye Khanna who I was most looking forward to, is let down by a ridiculously limply written part. And there’s Bradman the bulldog who charms and could give HAHK’s Tuffy a run for his money.

Thanks to the hulking  men, hot women and the exotic luxurious locales of the UAE, the movie is definitely easy on the eye. Sau Tarah Ke is a catchy number but you wish it was shot better. And the awfully worded Jaaneman Aah featuring a sizzling Parineeti turns up right at the very end. All this ends up taking the film from a potentially timepass fare to a strictly average one at best by the end of it.

The ultimate irony is that a movie called Dishoom doesn’t throw a single punch when needed.

My scoDishoom1re: 5 on 10


Genre: Comedy, Action

Directed by: Rohit Dhawan

Starring: John Abraham, Varun Dhawan, Akshaye Khanna, Jacqueline Fernandez

Running time: 124 minutes

STAR TREK BEYOND – A few thoughts

I have to admit – when the first teaser for this came out, along with Justin Lin’s name attached to it, I was really worried. This was looking like Star Trek: Fast and Furious. Thankfully, all the subsequent promos were a lot better. And after the last – rather disappointing outing from the Enterprise – Into Darkness, I’m quite relieved and happy to say that things get more than just back on track when they head – Beyond.

So as things stand, life has become a bit routine and monotonous aboard the Enterprise (if that were possible!) Friends and family are being missed and alternate jobs are being considered. That’s when Kirk decides to take up a new search and rescue mission to another planet as they are the best-resourced  to carry it out. Things go South when they’re attacked and then marooned on an unknown planet. The crew are separated and stuck in pairs and must find their way together to combat supervillain Krall who has his own evil plans.

original (1)

What really works well in this installment is the fusion of the old school, nostalgia of the original series with the freshness and special effects that would be possible only today. Add to that director Justin Lin’s flair for the big, showy action setpieces, you have a very potent, enjoyable Star Trek adventure. It really felt watching an extended episode of the Original Series. Spock and McCoy are a hoot together and Scotty finds himself stuck with a welcome addition to the party in the form of an alien – Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella, who you might (not) remember as the ass-kicking, fleet-bladed henchwoman Gazelle from Kingsman.

A bit light on plot and familiar in its ways, Beyond makes up for those with some fantastic eye-catching visuals and clever use of 3D – which is a rarity in live-action movies these days. Even though I’ve still not quite warmed up to Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, most of the cast is in fine form although I wish Idris Elba’s Krall – cool voice and all was a bit more menacing. And they’re well aided by a perfectly rousing score. There’s a genuinely moving and well-done tribute to our original favourite Vulcan – Leonard Nimoy and it made me sad to see the super-talented Anton Yelchin on the screen in one of his last outings.

Star Trek Beyond doesn’t exactly go where no man has gone before but wherever it does go, it does so in a really enjoyable, spectacular way. And we’re ready for more. LLAP!

StarTrekBeyond-1My Score: 8 on 10

Star Trek Beyond

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action

Directed by: Justin Lin

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg

Running time: 120 minutes


THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS – A few thoughts

We’ve had a few good animation movies in the recent past – Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia, Finding Dory. The Secret Life Of Pets is the latest addition to that list. At an ultra-crisp 87 minute running time, it offers everything you need from an animated feature to please both – the young ones and the adults in plenty.


TSLOP gives us a brief look at what pets get up to when their owners aren’t around before taking us on a rollicking search and rescue adventure – all within the space of one working day.

It is gorgeously animated with wonderful attention to detailing – if you’re a pet owner, you’ll find yourself smirking at a lot of moments and might even look at your pets a bit differently wondering what they really do in your absence. It features a hugely talented voice cast featuring Louis C. K., Eric Stonestreet aka Cam from Modern Family, Kevin Hart and lots of others as  a whole bunch of zany characters from telenova-addicted dogs, thug rabbits, evil birds, tattooed pigs and even a wonky crocodile making it a pretty hilarious ride. I especially loved Kevin Hart’s wannabe badass bunny – aptly titled Snowball, Jenny Slate’s hyperactive, smitten pomeranian Gidget and the amazing expressions of Lake Bell’s callous and cold-hearted appearing feline Chloe. For a change, even the 3D effects are pretty cool (I always find them used to much better effect in animated movies versus live action ones).


On the downside, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the Toy Story movies while watching it and maybe it does lack a bit of the emotional depth of a Finding Dory or the social message of a Zootopia. The premise definitely set it up to do a lot more than it ends up doing. But these issues certainly didn’t stop me from having a very good time at the movies. And after all that’s what it’s all about. Woof!

tslop2My Score: 7 on 10

The Secret Life Of Pets

Genre: Animation, Comedy

Directed by: Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud

Starring: Louis C. K., Kevin Hart, Eric Stonesreet

Running time: 87 minutes

SULTAN – A few thoughts

A Salman Khan movie comes with a specific set of expectations. You’ll have a wafer thin plot, you’ll have a good-hearted, likely shirtless, tough guy beating baddies to pulp, some wacko dance numbers with him trying to woo the girl, and so on. Sultan checks some of these boxes but thankfully creates some new ones as well. The story is a simple one about the rise, fall and resurrection of a wrestler against the challenges life throws at him.


What’s different is the immense physical and emotional punch Salman packs into this film. He really leaves himself all out there – be it physically in the MMA bouts, grappling sessions in the mud, terrific training montages and even emotionally when he looks at his overweight, haggard self in the mirror, denies having ‘gurroor’, or when he’s shamed by the lady he’s trying to woo. Anushka has the most any leading lady has had to do in a long time in a Salman-starrer and she matches him all the way despite being handed lazily written feminist tones in her role. A couple of the supporting cast really stood out for me despite having under-written characters – the ever reliable Kumud Mishra as Anushka’s father and Anant Sharma as Sultan’s gold-hearted best friend Govind.


Three of Vishal-Shekhar’s numbers from a partly soulful score struck a chord with me – Buleya, Jag Ghoomeya and the Sultan theme that plays through the movie. They’re beautifully written by Irshad Kamil and help the story move forward as well. The other songs aren’t bad but do hinder the pace in an almost three hour flick.

What really works more than anything else is the vulnerability and fallibility that Salman brings to Sultan. For a change he’s not invincible, he’s not perfect, he gets beaten up, he’s almost an underdog and he actually needs to work hard to win. Which really ends up making you root for him – in the ring and in his life.

Sultan might be predictable, uses familiar sports movie cliches and borrows heavily from the Rocky series as well as its latest avtar – Creed but where it does not lack is in the entertainment quotient. It features some well choreographed wrestling and MMA bouts (albeit a few too many), in between a generally engaging love story. Director Ali Abbas Zafar shows a marked improvement over his last two efforts but has his superstar to thank for doing most of the heavy lifting.

Sultan4My score: 7 on 10


Genre: Sports, Drama

Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma

Running time: 170 minutes


Ideally I’d have liked to make 2 lists – favourite Hindi & English movies, but because of the scattered & delayed releases of some Hollywood movies here, have not caught many English ones. So, only Hindi it is.

I have kind of ranked them loosely in descending order but some of these are so close to the other that it’s not a strict ranking as such. On another day I’d gladly pick one over another. And the top 3 are definitely equally good for me!


Now, I am not a fan of this genre at all. Yet I found this movie to be quite breezy, entertaining and subtle overall. And for me it was one of the few movies that overcame the second half syndrome and the story truly began to tread a couple of unique paths in the second half. A very nice effort from the first-time director, Imran acted for the first time and Kareena was terrific.


I must add here, that the experience of seeing this film in a jam-packed single screen (Gaiety) on the first day considerably added to my enjoyment of this movie. Two things I liked about it in particular – the heroine kicked a lot of ass and secondly – really enjoyed the action sequences. Was quite fed up of the hero-hits-goon-goon-goes-flying-through-the-air brand of action. This was fast, furious and fun.


I got extremely positive vibes about this movie right from its first teaser to each of its song promos and when the end product too delivered a nice, feel-good, family film, I didn’t mind its predictability and simple-mindedness at all. Loved the soothing as well as vibrant soundtrack from Amit Trivedi and Sridevi’s power-packed performance, especially in that climatic speech.


Hard-hitting, powerful, disturbing, relevant and extremely engaging, this movie stayed with me for a long time. For me, Dibakar Banerjee is 4 for 4 and with Shanghai, I once again realized that I can like a movie that doesn’t entertain me, as long as it thoroughly engages me. Also loved how actors left indelible marks with small roles – Supriya Pathak and Farook Sheikh and we got a slam dunk from Emran Hashmi!

paansinghtomar1PAAN SINGH TOMAR

A movie that almost didn’t get released. Or at least was delayed for such a long time! I wonder why! Pretty much the best biopic in recent times, Paan Singh Tomar was equal parts entertaining, engaging, informative and touching. Irfan Khan pretty much became Paan Singh and made us cheer for him, empathize with him and feel for him at every moment of his incredible journey.


Incorrectly positioned as a suspense thriller, this was an out and out ‘drama’ for me and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it even on second viewing despite knowing the much-hyped and now infamous ‘twist’. Smartly written, well acted by everyone involved and one of my favourite soundtracks of the year made Talaash a movie I’ll be happy to revisit time and again.


This movie was tacky. It was clumsy. It had cheesy special effects. And yet it features in my favourites for the year. Because it had its heart in the right place and gave out a very important message. In as entertaining a way as possible. And it had some witty lines. And it had a controlled Akshay Kumar. And last but not the least, it had Paresh Rawal in a much-deserved lead role delivering a terrific performance. Could there be more reasons to like it?


Suspense thrillers are rare in Bollywood. And superbly made, perfectly paced, engrossing and entertaining ones – even rarer. A rock solid Vidya Balan and a slew of different characters including the now cult Bob Biswas, most of them played by actors I was seeing for the first time, a solid script and razor sharp editing kept me hooked from the first frame to the last. And Kahaani broke stereotypes – a Bollywood movie was super successful without a hero, without songs and only two hours long!


This, for me, was the most original and freshest movie of the year. Be it the script, the cast, the music – fresh fresh fresh! And so much fun! A movie that made me laugh like crazy and touched me as well by the end. And who can forget the wacky bunch of characters – from the gadget-loving biji to the finger-twiddling Dr. Chaddha! And yes… there was Pani Da Rang – one of the most hummed songs of the year! As Dr. Chaddha would have said – Fun sperm!


So this movie was accused of being heavily plagiarized! Who cares! I certainly didn’t! It may have borrowed scenes from here and there but its core was original. I take a movie for what it is and I loved pretty much every aspect of Barfi!  Be it my favourite soundtrack of the year, the performance of the year from Ranbir Kapoor, an unbelievable transformation from Priyanka Chopra or the stunningly gorgeous Ileana! Definitely the sweetest movie of the year for me.

And last but not the least – a very special mention for a movie that wasn’t a hindi movie as such:


Stunningly original, creative and imaginative, Eega or Makkhi shows what Indian cinema can do at the mainstream level with the right ideas, budgets and talent. It might be a very basic premise and I saw it in a different language than I understand with subtitles but rarely have I had so much fun watching a movie. It was exciting, exhilarating and super-entertaining.

Looking forward to a great 2013 at the movies! Happy New Year!!

@navjotalive speaks about Rowdy Rathore

Why Rowdy Rathore Should Flop!!!


I often hear an argument by Filmmakers and Film Buffs that masala films generate money for the smaller (better) films to be made and provide good time pass. Not a very long ago I also believed that but on 1st June my belief went for a toss from Andheri to Malad to Filmcity to some studio on the outskirts of Bombay(that’s where the most of this piece of crap was shot). I was not mighty impressed by RR’s promos but somewhere I could see the wickedness which Prabhudeva portrayed in Wanted and that gave me a hope that RR will be good fun but alas. I firmly believe that staying true to the genre is the most difficult thing to do and if you succeed in doing that then a Singham or a Wanted is born. For me Singham and Wanted are true to the genre. I have been using this word to much I guess. Yes I’m. I like to call it the Punjabi Dosa (ok I just coined it).

The ingredients are as follows :
1. An emotional story ‘inspired’ or ‘lifted’ or ‘officially bought’ from a Southie Film.
2. A big star famous in North India with six packs who takes his shirt off.
3. 5 well directed Action sequences.
4. Humorous dialogues.
5. An item number.
6. Peppy Music.
7. A very strong villain.
8. Standout performances by supporting cast.

By no means am I endorsing these kinds of films. I’m just stating a fact. Now let’s analyze Raddi Rathore on these parameters.

1. Emotional Story
A pick pocket doppelganger of a cop takes revenge from a crime lord in Devgarh for the cops murder after he is tricked in to becoming the guardian of Cop’s little daughter who still has a walkman in 2012(nostalgia I say)because “       ”. Precisely. There is no reason. He does it because that is what happened in the film they got the rights off. And we also have a homage to Jadu, the alien from Koi Milgaya as the Cop’s is suffering from a tumor and can only fight like Hulk when water is sprayed on his head.

2. A big star with six packs who takes his shirt off.
I disappoint. No Bhaai. No Duggu. No Devgn. No Shirt off. Probably Akki was not prepared since this is his only 1st action film since AGES (Cc2c.Tasveer.Tashan.Singh is King.Family had NO ANY ACTION).

3. 5 well directed Action sequences.
I will give a 5star to anyone who can point out those to me I was busy yawning throughout the slow mo punches and the cars blasting CG all lifted from the original film (Vikramarkudu).

4. Humorous dialogues.
An example of film’s humor.
‘              ’. Precisely. It was nonexistent.

5. An item number
Wanted and Dabbang had better. Even Singham for that matter.

6. Peppy Music
The music by Sajid Wajid is functional won’t last beyond the weekend of the film.

7. A very Strong Villain
They cast a guy from Southie films called Nasseer trying to do a Prakash Raj and he played a Bihari guy speaking in dubbed voice. #Enoughsaid

8. Standout performances by supporting cast
The guy who played the photographer has made a living out of the phrase Bhaiya Ji Ismile. Singham had Prakash Raj’s comic act towards the end, I crack up whenever he says “Yeh Cheating hain”. Wanted had Prakash Raj again also Vinod Khanna in an un intentionally funny performance. In this film we have Yashpal Sharma visiting Baapji played by Nasseer with his kids to beg for him to find out where his wife is. He sees her as the sex slave of the son of Baapji and keeps quiet to avoid his irk. As pointed by Karan Anshuman in his review this has to be the most regressive scene in hindi cinema history. The character of Yashpal Sharma for me defines the film.

Now coming to my biggest problem with the film. The ‘sur’ of the film. The reason all the films I have mentioned have worked are because they did not take themselves seriously but strangely for good 50 minutes Rowdy Rathore becomes a cringe worthy take on the sort of regressive films Dharam Paaji used to do with B directors. And suddenly towards the last 30 minutes it becomes a goof ball comedy where the villain is now scared of the Police Inspector and miserably fails while trying to pull off a Prakash Raj.

Why It should Flop. 
If this film also goes on to be steady run from Monday then it will give rise to many clones which will take our cinema nowhere. The ‘virus’ started with Bhaai moved to Devgn and now reached Akki. I won’t be shocked if we see SRK doing such a film and making an ass of himself. Shahid Kapoor is already doing the remake of Vettai. And even bigger fear I have is that somewhere an aspiring filmmaker after seeing the success of the film will believe that the film is not about the script but the star (it is although a fact but many people are trying to change that).

The day is not far away when Tushar Kapoor will ask Ekta Kapoor to ‘relaunch’ him in a southie remake or for that matter even ‘Uday Chopra’. Be prepared for it or spread the word and make Raddi Rathore a weekend phenomenon which tanks Monday onwards.

P.S- I’m not against masala films but the ones made‘Badly’ like Buddha Hoga Tera Baap and now Raddi Rathore. Also I have intentionally left out many points mentioned in other reviews/posts because I try to be original 😉

Via @navjotalive