Film: Dishoom, Cast: John Abraham, Varun Dhawan, Akshaye Khanna, Jacqueline Fernandez, Directed by: Rohit Dhawan, Duration: 2 hrs 4 mins, Rating: * * 1 / 2
Dishoom directed by Rohit Dhawan is one of those harmless buddy movies that has a thin plot but as a package, it manages to sail through without much sweat. The film is crisp and at just a little of two hours, it doesn’t spend too much time in trivialities.
In terms of novelty, though, this flick doesn’t have much to offer. It’s about the same old male bonding, swagger, style spruced with some action. Think of Dhoom, minus the flab.
John Abraham plays Kabir, a special task force agent from India who is sent to a Middle Eastern country to track down the Indian star batsman Viraj (Saqib Saleem) who disappears a couple of days before a crucial India-Pakistan cricket final. Kabir who keeps rather quiet, believes more in action rather than words. As an actor, that suits John Abraham better.
He needs local support in the Arab country; it comes in the form of an Indian origin rookie cop Junaid (Varun Dhawan) who is like a miniature version of the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
The tough guy and the new recruit join hands to unravel the mystery of the missing cricketer. Since the glamour quotient is a must, Nargis Fakhri and Jacqueline Fernandez are thrown in where the former disappears after a few scenes and latter sticks till the end but purely for decorative purposes.
It is not just the women who are used as eye candy; the men also strip to their underpants to show off their six packs.
The villains led by Akshaye Khanna and supported by Mukul Dev are more like cardboard characters who are there to give a reason for the heroes to exist rather than make their own mark.
Effectively, the film works in patches and given that there isn’t much flab, one item number notwithstanding, it is enjoyable in parts. The cameo by Akshay Kumar is an absolute hoot. John Abraham gets to play the part with a dead pan expression which comes naturally to him. Varun Dhawan shows that he has knack for comedy while the rest are passable. Don’t expect a lot and you won’t be disappointed.
Film: The BFG, Cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Directed by: Steven Spielberg, Duration: 1 hr 56 mins, Rating: * * * 1 / 2
For a director like Steven Spielberg who has been there, done almost everything, he continues to surprise with his efforts. Even though there has been slight inconsistency in his filmmaking, after last year’s superlative ‘Bridge of Spies’, the veteran director has had another fruitful outing with this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book. Spielberg apparently had been interested in adapting the story for a long time now and good that he waited because the technology at disposal allows him to recreate a giant who becomes friendly with a little girl.
It helps a great deal that Mark Rylance who teams up again with Spielberg after winning an Oscar for ‘Bridge of Spies’, plays the giant with the help of some stunning motion capture technology. The BFG is a perfect example of how a nuanced performance and the chemistry (with new comer Ruby Barnhill) elevates the film a few notches higher.
Scripted by Mellisa Mathison (who passed away last year; she also wrote E.T.), there are similarities between that 1982 and this fantasy adventure.
Sophie (Barnhill) is a little girl in an orphanage when a giant (Rylance) kidnaps her and takes her far away to his land. The giant who is later referred to by Sophie as BFG (Big Friendly Giant) discovers that the girl is very likable and even though he looks monstrously big, BFG is very kind at heart.
He is an outcast in his own clan though, who mock him for not ‘eating’ children; he turns out to be a vegetarian. Incidentally, BFG may look huge compared to humans but there are giants much bigger than him who make him look small. As a result, he knows the insecurities and tribulations of Sophie since he has to face the same from bigger creatures like Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater.
Among other things, BFG also likes to capture and bottle dreams – till they are shattered by the wicked giants. Sophie comes up with the idea of taking help from the Queen (Penelope Wilton) giving ample scope to generate some humour. In fact, even prior to that, the giant’s way of speaking, known as ‘gobblefunk’ keeps you amused. As a director Spielberg is on the money – since he has made films of this scale before he knows the balance between technology and story-telling, there is always a danger of technology overpowering everything else. But with the right amount of emotion, adventure, humor and drama The BFG is a winner. Mark Rylance is splendid as the giant and Ruby Barnhill delivers a knockout in her debut. The two on screen with the director, writer and other technicians behind the screen make The BFG a pleasant watch.
Film: Ghostbuster, Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Directed by: Paul Weig, Duration: 1 hr 55 mins, Rating: * * *
Five years ago, director Paul Weig gave us the utterly delightful Bridesmaids and he followed it up with The Heat (2013) and Spy (2015) which had some charm in their own right. Ghostbusters is a reboot of the 1984 superhit film and the male caste has been substituted by females, which is a nice touch. But this new version has a tough time getting out of the shadows of that Ivan Reitman film.
Remaking a film comes with its own perils – the knives are usually out the moment the film is announced and they get sharp, very sharp, by the time the film is released. On that count, Weig has done better than most anticipated but it will be hard to ignore the baggage of the old film.
So the Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis’ of the world have been substituted by a female cast.
Melissa McCarthy plays Abby Yates and her friend (Kate McKinnon), believe in the paranormal and as a result are kicked out of the institution they are working. Kristen Weig and Leslie Jones make up this four women team who are on a mission of their own. They investigate every ghost sighting in the city and while McCarthy gets a meaty role, Jones gets some of the funniest lines and scenes in the film. The ghosts are scarier from what we saw in 1984 and the script ensures that the political incorrectness remains the same as it was thirty years ago – in one scene, a comment on a Youtube video reads: “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”
The actors from the original film make an appearance which warms up the film and even the late Harold Ramis gets a tribute.