Saturday , 17 November 2018
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FILM REVIEW – SACHIN CHATTE

Cinema Paradiso

Film: Bioscopewala, Cast: Geetanjali Thapa, Danny Denzongpa, Brijendra Kala, Directed by: Deb Medhekar, Duration: 1 hr 36 mins, Rating: * * * 1 / 2

Directed by Deb Medhekar, Bioscopewala is a contemporary but loose adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwala, which was made into a film in 1961, starring Balraj Sahni (which had the popular song, Ae Mere Pyaare Watan – the Watan referred to in the song being Afghanistan).

This adaptation is short, sweet and endearing, and is about a father longing to reunite with his daughter in his home country but the screenplay adds more layers to it than just that. While a young woman searches for someone else’s roots, she discovers an unfamiliar side of herself.

The woman here is Mini (Geetanjali Thapa) who is coming to terms with her father’s (Adil Hussain) death in a plane crash. He was on his way to Afghanistan but she has no clue about his purpose. She is a film maker living in France but hails from Kolkata where she returns after his death. The ever reliable Brijendra Kala plays the caretaker who saw her father and her grow up.

But there is a very old man in the house, Rehmat Khan (Danny Denzongpa) and Mini doesn’t want him there – apart from being a stranger, he was also accused of murder and served a jail sentence. Then we learn about the past – Rehmat, a refugee from Afghanistan and his relationship with Mini and her family.

While the story unravels in a pleasant and simplistic manner, there are elements which touch you. Rehmat has left his daughter behind in Afghanistan who is as old as Mini and hopes to return to her someday.

Cinema itself plays a role in the film with Rehmat running a mini theatre in Afghanistan screening Raj Kapoor and other Hindi classic films, but the place is burned down by the Taliban, leading to his exit from the country – as a progressive thinker, he, sees cinema as a form of rebellion.

Much like the characters, the performances are nuanced. Geetanjali Thapa is first rate as the woman who has a change of heart and then sets out on a mission. Danny Denzongpa’s comeback of sorts is a treat to watch. He makes the Bioscopewala worthy of a watch.

 

Wishes were Horses

Film: Bucket List (Marathi with English subtitles), Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Sumeet Raghavan, Renuka Shahane, Directed by: Tejas Deoskar, Duration: 2 hrs 8 mins, Rating: * * *

There is no two ways about the fact that the USP of this film is Madhuri Dixit – the lady gets your undivided attention, in her first appearance in quite a few years and her debut Marathi film. Directed by Tejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar, it is a comeback vehicle for the lady who ruled the silver screen for years.

As for the story and the film itself, while it starts off on the right note but drags it feet well after the point is made – and just in case you miss it, you are reminded of it again in the climax which unfortunately goes down the sappy route.

At the outset, we are introduced to Madhura Sane (Madhuri Dixit) a 40-something (presumably) mother of two kids, who has just got a heart, literally. Once she is out of the hospital after the surgery, she is back to the grind at home, looking after the family – she even cooks four different variants of the same vegetable dish to cater to her in-laws and husband’s (Sumeet Raghavan) taste buds.

With singular determination, she sets out to find out who her heart donor was – it turns out it was a 20 year old girl Sai, whom the Gods loved and she died young. It turns out, Sai had a bucket list and Madhura takes it upon her to fulfill the girl’s wishes. That includes, riding a bike (a high end premium one that too), kissing her boyfriend and more.

Initially, it is all fun thanks to the situations and a few funny scenes. Outside a disco, she sees a big queue and wonders if it is for an ATM – “I thought the currency problem was long resolved” she exclaims.

Gradually though, it starts becoming bit of a slog as it gets repetitive and makes a point with the subtlety of a sledge hammer. The point about self-realisation and discovery – that there is more to life than cooking and taking care of the family – is well made but once too often.

There are amiable characters on the scene which also help the film sail through, including her supportive hubby and her best friend. Shobha Khote as the elderly lady of the house is a hoot. While in terms of acting, this is not the most challenging film for Madhuri Dixit yet she steals the show with her timing and expressions.

While the film may not be worth adding to your bucket list, it is decent for an entertaining outing.

 

Planting Bombs

Film: Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran

Cast: John Abraham, Diana Penty, Boman Irani, Directed by: Abhishek Sharma, Duration: 2 hrs, Rating: * *

Our Hindi films are still light years away from making an engrossing film based on true incidents. They take so much liberty that even the whole film gets diluted in the Bollywoodization of the story.

Without going into the debate of whether nuclear bombs are good or evil since they have the potential for mass destruction, if one were to view it as a film based on a specific incident that happened in the late 90’s, in this case, the nuclear tests conducted by India amidst great secrecy, the story is all over the place for a large part of the film.

Only in Hindi cinema can you have five odd songs in a spy thriller-like story inspired by a real incident.

John Abraham plays Ashwat Rana, an officer with great preceptor and planning skills. Circa 1995, he makes a fool proof plan on a 1.44 MB floppy disk and hands it over to the bureaucrats who promptly ignore it. It ends with India being shamed for an attempt to clandestinely conduct the tests. Ashwat is made the scapegoat and relived from duty – the audience gets a song in return.

Dejected, Ashwat starts coaching classes and gives sermons to aspiring civil servants.

After the Vajpayee government took over (there is lot of real life footage and speeches that are used) the cry to restart the nuclear program took shape again and Boman Irani plays the secretary who handpicks Ashwat again.

Our jobless but intelligent hero has to put a crack team together, including a scientist from BARC and other such organisations. Since it can’t be an entirely male dominated team, we have a female spy agent (Diana Penty) to join them.

The intricacies of how the test was actually carried out, including avoiding the American satellites from detecting any activity in Pokhran could have made for some interesting viewing. But instead, we end up with caricatures, like the CIA agent sitting in USA squeezing that stress ball and as far as Ashwat’s marital problems are concerned, the lesser said the better.

When it cuts to chase in the finale, the film is engrossing but till that point, you have to sit through some mediocre story telling.

 

Chew on that

Film: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Directed by: Ron Howard, Duration: 2 hrs 14 mins, Rating: * * * 1 / 2

There are very little signs of the turbulence that this Star Wars offshoot went through. Director Ron Howard took over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller when the duo left because of ‘creative differences’. Howard is not exactly known for big budget or franchise movies (The Dan Brown novels excluded) but he does an admirable job here.

The thing about Star Wars is that there are so many nostalgic elements that if you get them right, half the job is done. Heck, John Williams rousing music score itself is enough to give the viewer goose bumps and being an ‘origins’ film, there is enough fodder here to keep everyone happy. Alden Ehrenreich steps into the rather big shoes of Harrison Ford quite comfortably and surely we are likely to see more of him in the days to come.

Co-written by the father-son duo of Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, we have Hans (Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke of GOT fame) who try to make a tricky exit from his planet Corellia – the attempt fails and they are separated. Hans then teams up with Beckett (Woody Harrelson) a criminal who works for another rogue (Paul Bettany).

One of the highlights is Hans become friends with Chewbacca, they are not exactly like Jai and Veeru, they come pretty close. Hans is actually fed to Chewie before they join hands. Then there is Lando (Donald Glover) who is owner of the Millennium Falcon – all these familiar elements and characters are put together in a rather creative manner.

Solo rarely slackens in pace even though it is longer than all the other films released this week. There are some interesting action pieces, particularly the one on a ‘train’ and the episode where they try to steal the Coaxium.

All in all, even though there has been a slight overdose of Star Wars lately, to its credit, Solo manages to give you a good time at the theatres.

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