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FILM REVIEW SACHIN CHATTE

Film: Kabir Singh

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Soham Majumdar

Directed by: Sandeep Vanga

Duration: 2 hr 54 mins

Rating: * * 1 / 2

A remake of the super hit Telugu film Arjun Reddy (2017), Kabir Singh is directed by Sandeep Vanga, the same gent who helmed the original film. With a super flawed character around which the film revolves, it is engaging in parts and problematic as well. Engaging because the portrayal of this character is done in a fairly convincing manner – you can well imagine that there could be someone like him in real life, especially his toxic masculinity and sense of entitlement which also runs deep among men in the society. To say that he is a psycho of sorts and as in dire need of therapy would be an understatement.

The bigger problem lies in the fact that after all the wrong that he does, redemption comes easy to him – like the original, by ending the film on a positive note it appears that one can get away with anything. That the last scene is more bizarre than aliens dancing to a Bollywood number, is a different story.

Like the original film, we have a voiceover telling us his story – Kabir (Shahid Kapoor) is someone who has multiple issues – he is an alcoholic, depressed, heart-broken, a womaniser, a drug addict and has more anger management issues than any other character in Hindi films. He is a Devdas of sorts except that Devdas was no good at anything, Kabir is a surgeon and top one at that.

In the very beginning, we see him pointing a knife at a woman who refuses to take her pants off. He may have a fine academic career but treating women with any kind of respect, is not his forte, not even his lover, who, for some strange reason loves him although he treats her like personal property and has scant respect for her.

The lover in question is Preeti (Kiara Advani). Incidentally, his dog also has the same name but he has much more regard for his pet. Preeti is a demure girl who was his junior in college- the moment he sees her, he spreads the word that she is his, he refers to her as his bandi (girl, in this case). He plays a godfather to her protecting her from other students but it clearly is a sense of ownership rather than care. Worse, not once does he ask her about her feelings or what she would like – he assumes that she feels lucky to be with him – and it appears that she does. Maybe some people like being treated that way- that is in the realms of psychology. But the fact is that as a person, there is nothing to admire and a lot to admonish in Kabir.

So he and the girl get together, she even moves into the boys’ hostel and they seem to be happy except that she ends up toeing his line, every time. She asks him to stay back for a couple of days, he answers with a definitive no and never yields to anything that she has to say. Yet when there is a confrontation with her parents, he wants her to be a woman. There is also a fair bit of slapping that happens between the two lovers. She goes away with someone else, he hits the bottle and his downward spiral continues.

If the intentions were to show that Kabir is not a role model, in fact far from it, even as a lover, the writers depend heavily on the perception of the audience – most of the people, men understandably, but even women in the theatre were enjoying the antics which was rather mystifying but it just goes to show how much misogyny is normalised in the society.

On the flip side, there is an x-factor in which Sandeep Vanga tells the story at 174 minutes; it is a bit too long and while most of the characters are miserable, you want that to end quickly. You wished though that he would iron out the issues with the original film but that hasn’t happened.

While Vijay Deverakonda was superb in Arjun Reddy, Shahid Kapoor gives it his best shot and has delivered a commanding performance. Whether it’s his descent into drugs and alcohol or just being a bully, he is first rate. Kiara Advani doesn’t have a great deal to do but she does it with sincerity. Special mention should be made of Soham Majumdar who plays Kabir’s pal and steals more than a couple of scenes.

With all the flaws that the character has – Kabir should be seen for what he is – not a hero, but a jerk.   

Playful Things

Film: Toy Story 4

Voices of: Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Tim Allen

Directed by: Josh Cooley

Duration: 1 hr 40 mins

Rating: * * * 1 / 2

It is fair to say that Toy Story remains one of the most charming franchisees around, particularly as far as animation films are concerned. Since the first film came back in 1995, Woody, Buzz and a bunch of other toys have regaled audiences for a good quarter of a century.

The films also had some of the best in the business involved with the projects –the screenplay is co-written by Andrew Stanton who has been a part of all the previous films and John Lasseter, the director of the first two films, has co-written the story. Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Tim Allen and the rest also return to lend a voice to those delightful characters.

The story is set a couple of years after Andy gives away his toys to a little girl Bonnie. All the usual toy suspects are around, led by Woody (voice of Tom Hanks). On her first day at kindergarten, she makes a small ‘toy’ called Forky and when the whole family (including the toys) go on a vacation in a RV, Forky gets lost, along with Woody in tow.    

When the two are trying to get back to the rest, Woody sees the lamp of Bo (Annie Potts) and in search of her, lands in the hands of Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) a rather lonely doll who keeps them captive. Buzz, Bo and the rest, including a Canadian stunt bike rider Duke Caboom (Keanu reeves), have to launch a ‘mission’ to get everyone out safe.

While the story is predictable, it moves at such a brisk pace that there isn’t a moment of rest as far as something jazzy happening on the screen is concerned. To the writers’ credit, they have got all the elements in the right proportion – there is nostalgia, there is bonding, friendship, and more.

This Pixar franchisee in general has had an appeal for both, adults and children alike and this one is no different. Effectively, it is a very pleasant outing for everyone.

Ordinary Tale

Film: The Journey of the Extraordinary Fakir

Cast: Dhanush, Bernice Bejo, Erin Moriarty

Directed by: Ken Scott

Duration: 1 hr 33 mins

Rating: * * 1 /2

Based on the french novel The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, this film directed by Ken Scott has got its heart in the right place but it is all too simple to make it a memorable film.  Even though it is made on a fairly big budget with locations all over Europe (and partly India), the screenplay is lacklustre –you do feel for the characters and their situations but beyond that you can’t relate to them.

Told in flashback by Ajatashatru Lavash Patel (Dhanush) to a bunch of young guys who are sentenced to prison, he starts with his childhood, his single mother and all the hardships they faced. It is kind of odd and jarring to see everyone in a slum speak in English but that is how the cookie crumbles in some of these films (to be fair, this is a European and not a Hollywood production). Ajatashatru grows up performing tricks on the streets of Mumbai and his ultimate aim is go to Paris to search for his estranged father.

With a fake Euro note, he embarks on a journey that is filled with adventure but it is not engrossing enough. First he swindles a woman (Erin Moriarty) in an IKEA store and then by hiding in a wardrobe, he lands from one place to another, including an encounter with a starlet (Bernice Bejo). His travails take him to Italy, England, France, and even Libya. Even though he has a valid passport, he ends up on the wrong side of the law.

Everything that happens- happens in a very clinical and simplistic manner – it is hard to involve yourself in the proceedings as we see a little of magic realism and more. There are Bollywood style dance numbers and other elements of emotion and drama thrown in. It helps that Dhanush is utterly convincing in the lead role and well supported by the other cast. But for the basic charisma, there is nothing extraordinary about the fakir or his journey.

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