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Film: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya

Directed by: Jon Watts

Duration: 2 hrs 8 mins

Rating: * * * 1 /2

Even when the world is still recovering from Avengers: Endgame, Marvel is ready with its next instalment of superheroes. Spider-Man: Far From Home, is a sequel to the 2017 film, Spider-Man: Homecoming as the Marvel cinematic universe marches to its 23rd film. Thankfully, there is no more film from MCU this year; the next one is in 2020. 

Far From Home somewhat resurrected Spider-man films which were going through a slightly rough patch – after all, there is only so much you can take of the great power and great responsibility business. 

Jon Watts who also directed the previous instalment, keeps things under control – he has a tight rope to walk because there has been an overdose of super hero films. To begin with, the film plays it by the numbers but then introduces some clever concepts and if one was to plot a graph, it would be a rising one.  

Set after the events of Endgame we are told about the ‘blip’ and those who vanished and then came back. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is trying to pick up the pieces after the unfortunate events – he does have something to look forward to. His school is off for a trip to Europe and he has made elaborate plans to tell his classmate MJ (Zendaya), about the crush he has on her.

But romance takes a back seat, this is a super hero film after all. Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) swings into action after there is an attack by the Elementals in Mexico. Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) helps to fight this creature and since this is a Spider-man film, the first person he thinks of is, Spider-man whose plans of romance are thrown out the window, kind of. In between the attacks and fights, he still finds time to spend with MJ and their interactions are what will qualify as, cute.

But then there is a twist in the tale – the second half involves an advanced version of virtual reality that Spider-man has to battle and those scenes are executed with sufficient zing and panache.

The screenplay manages to bring enough interesting elements, the references from past and integrate them in the present. Tom Holland is apt in the lead role while Zendaya and the supporting cast play their roles to satisfaction. Jake Gyllenhaal can only be an asset to any franchise and even though his character is not meaty enough, he still makes the best of it.

Love in the Time of Chawl Era

Film: Malaal

Cast: Meezaan Jaffery, Sharmin Segal

Directed by: Mangesh Hadawale

Duration: 2 hrs 16 mins

Rating: * 1 / 2

A remake of the Tamil film 7G Rainbow Colony (2004), Malaal marks the debut of two newcomers, Meezaan Jaffery (son of Jaaved Jaffery) and Sharmin Segal (niece of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who also acts as the producer and music director). The original film has already been remade in Kannada, Odia and Bengali and having seen it, I am not sure why it was made in Hindi at all. At best, a film like this would have worked in the 70’s-80’s, like the Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981) period. 

Directed by Mangesh Hadawale who made that little gem called Tingya (2008) in Marathi, this story of star-crossed lovers is deathly dull and it only gets worse as it progresses. Set in a chawl in Mumbai in the 90’s, Meezaan Jaffery plays Shiva, a good for nothing guy who mostly loiters and bosses around the folks, thanks to the blessings of the local politician.

After the standard bickering, he falls in love with Astha (Sharmin Segal), the problem is that she is a Tripathi, a North Indian, and her family is not welcome in the chawl. Apparently, they were pretty rich folks once upon a time who have fallen on hard times now. Conveniently, they want to get her engaged to a rich guy with a Merc – needless to say, he is rude and uncouth.

Shiva meanwhile knows everything about Astha – how many steps she has to walk from her door to the bus stop and how many steps a detour takes. Astha is highly impressed with these intricate details. Later, she proves her love by giving account of how many shirts he has, what is the colour and what kind of sleeves they have.

They may be in love, but you are not.  

He wants to show his love and his bravado – he even takes up a job as an office boy, for her sake. The writing is lame for most parts – take the scene where she wants him to sign a form. She is determined to marry her fiancé but where do they meet to sign the form – on the beachfront, where you can see couples getting cosy in the back background. And just in case you have forgotten, they are supposed to be neighbours. That is not all, it starts raining at the beach and she conveniently finds keys to her friend’s vacant house and unspeakable things happen inside. The screenplay assumes that the audience can digest anything thrown at them. The newcomers are passable but this chawl business nahi chawlega.

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