LenzScope http://lenzscope.com Reviews of Movies, Events, Books, Food, Products etc. by Bindu Cherungath (Bindu C) Sun, 08 Mar 2020 10:14:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://i2.wp.com/lenzscope.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/cropped-LOGO.png?fit=32%2C32 LenzScope http://lenzscope.com 32 32 114591675 Review of Thappad http://lenzscope.com/review-of-thappad/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-thappad/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2020 19:02:32 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2763
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Thappad, a film by Anubhav Sinha, is actually not about ‘just a slap’ but it talks about the human rights in a very profound manner without any element of melodrama. Thappad is such a timely release, ten days prior to International Women’s day. UN’s theme for women’s day this year is I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The year 2020 is a pivotal year for advancing gender equality worldwide, as the global community takes stock of progress made for women’s rights so far. The campaign #EachForEqual has actually caught the attention of many worldwide. And Thappad is so much in sync with theme of International Women’s day. It talks about how a woman puts herself, her wants, desires, ambitions, emotions etc. as the last in her priority list. But how a thappad, which is also a metaphor for ‘that tough push’ which shakes her to the core and that is when her conscience is awakened. If the statistical figures are to be believed, it might take another 200 years for the Generation Equality to be a reality, but if each one of us starts becoming instrumental in our own ways to ensure gender fairness, equality, may be, it is possible that 200 years may be reduced and generation equality can become a reality in an accelerated manner. Anubhav’s film Thappad definitely shakes the conscience of people, be it any gender. Anubhav’s approach in the film does not categorize the film and bracket the same as a Feminist Film but it is very much a Humanist Film. His few earlier films Article 15, Mulk also highlighted certain pivotal points of our society to reflect upon. Thappad shows how men and women have conditioned themselves in the society and defined the ‘normal’, but the question is who defines this ‘Normal’ and what is the degree of this ‘Normal’ and what is the tolerance limit for this ‘Normal’?

While the story is centrally driven by protagonist couple Amrita and Vikram (Taapsee and Pavail), four more couples’ stories are interspersed along with it. Amrita has chosen to be a housewife, an ardent lover of dance and a good dancer herself. Vikram is busy with his corporate life. Amrita deftly manages household chores, takes care of her mother-in-law Sulakshana (Tanvi Azmi) and Vikram. Another couple is Nethra and Rajeev (Maya Sarao and Manav Kaul), from the fraternity of advocates. Then there is Sunita (Geetika Vidya), Amrita’s domestic help, who is beaten by her husband every day. Ankur and Naina have played the roles of Taapasee’s brother Karan and his love interest Swati respectively. Another couple is Sandhya (Ratna Pathak Shah) and Sachin (Kumud Mishra) as Taapsee’s parents. Shivani (Dia Mirza) as single parent is shown to be comfortable in her own skin, and successful.

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The film beautifully crafts various characters. If Amrita’s love is shaken and her self-respect is at stake with one slap, then there is Sunita also, for whom, the beating by husband is so normal. If someone is stuck in a loveless marriage since years and does not even bother to look at one’s own happiness, there is someone else who is just stuck in loveless marriage assuming the family legacy to be the reason for her success. Shivani’s character is so self-assured in herself. She feels that her love with husband was so effortless.

There are lot of scenes which reflects various elements, characters of our society. The world is definitely moving towards ‘Generation Equality’ where Amrita is ready to walk-out of her marriage citing ‘Just a slap’ a reason in her petition and without demanding any alimony. A woman with power of character, who is not ready to be in a marriage, where she is unable to feel the love. Taapsee’s dialogue reiterates that a woman, who is also a procreator – the mother of tomorrow, is shaping the destiny of civilization. And so only, it would be sad, if she ends up compromising on her own self-respect. Sunita’s character is so used to physical abuses, that it has become very ‘normal’ for her. Sunita’s  mother-in-law seems to be the alter ego of all those women, who suffered in their marriage, and now they seek a kind of sadistic pleasure when they see their son physically abusing wife and repeating the history. This very ‘Normal’ makes a progressive husband like Sachin oversee his wife’s desire to pursue music. This very ‘Normal’ makes Vikram wonder how ‘Just a Slap’ can be a reason for Amrita to walk out of marriage. Instead of feeling apologetic, Vikram is all the more puzzled and he expects Amrita to understand him that the slap happened at the spur of a moment when he was professionally disturbed. This very ‘Normal’ makes Amrita’s mother-in-law requesting Amrita to ignore the slap. For Amrita’s mother, how can Amrita even walk out of marriage given the fact that Vikram is a good man. For Amrita’s brother, it is such a silly thing. But there are other male characters viz. Sachin, who trusts her daughter’s instincts while she decides to walk out of marriage. A powerful moment in the film is created by Rajhans (Harssh A Singh) boss of Vikram, when he questions the very thought or intent of Vikram in even slapping Amrita and taking it for granted. As a Divorce lawyer, when Nethra advocates Amrita to put some non-facts viz. domestic violence etc. in petition, Nethra justifies the same saying that ‘Just a Slap’ is not sufficient to file the divorce. And on the other hand, her counterpart Advocate Pramod Gujral (Ram Kapoor) prompts Vikram to sign all kinds of petitions with all non-factual data. This is a reflection of how divorces turn ugly in our society and parting away gets so painful. At times, couples keep fighting for years and years without no good reason and drag the divorce matters. Manav Kaul as Nethra’s Husband Rajeev reflects the patriarchal conditioning of our society, where he negates his wife’s identity completely and feels that she is nothing without him and his family. Physical abuse and Emotional abuse both are unacceptable.

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So, in a way, every character is very thoughtfully crafted and, in a way, mirrors the reality of various households. The film also shows, how some characters are re-negotiating their relationships. If women are shown taking some concrete steps in the direction of protecting their own self-respect, choosing to be happy and self-assured from within, men are also shown with some mindframe shifts of accepting the very identity of women in their lives – be it their wife, or mother or sister, feeling apologetic for overseeing their needs, wants and desires. Women are shown setting the boundary and men are shown respecting the same. There are indeed more powerful scenes than mentioned in this review, where one character becomes the alter ego of the other and makes the person think differently and broaden the perception.    

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Thappad is a Humanist Film, which highlights how we as human beings are conditioned and driven by taboos and social stigma and get accustomed to ‘Normal’. But the question is who defines this ‘Normal’ and what is the degree of this ‘Normal’ and what is the tolerance limit for this ‘Normal’? Thappad uses very well-crafted characters to narrate the story and the intended messages without any melodrama. The film also chooses to use a combination of powerful non-verbals and minimal required dialogues throughout the film. The beauty of the film is that every character awakens a new circuitry in our mind. Watch the film for sure. 

Rating: 4 / 5 (Very Good)

*Note: Hindi translation of this article (with some changes) is published on Badalav.com. http://badalav.com/bindu-cherungath-on-film-thappad/

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Review of Good Newwz http://lenzscope.com/review-of-good-newwz/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-good-newwz/#respond Sat, 28 Dec 2019 19:02:24 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2718
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Good Newwz, a film by Raj Mehta, is a comedy film with the premise of In-Vitro Fertilization. Offlate, it is interesting to see Indian Film Industry doing experiments with various concepts and topics which are otherwise taboo. It is a film which also talks about the social stigma related to fertility issues, embarrassment of being childless couples, trying alternate methods of conceiving via IVF etc. For almost 80% of the film the tone of the film is definitely kept very light, but later the emotional and drama angle are added as well. Although It is a predictable film, it is interesting to see how the plot is developed to incorporate the comedy of errors, drama, message to regard the women for bearing the physical, emotional, psychological impact of childbirth and motherhood and responsibility attached to medical profession. In spite of the film having jokes related to sex, having remarks about short people, old people, language challenges etc., the film holds on to its fun quotient. The film has both conservative and progressive thoughts interspersed with one another.  

Two couples’ fate from a very different and diverse backgrounds- Varun and Deepti Batra (Akshay and Kareena) and Honey and Monika Batra (Diljit and Kiara) gets twisted and entangled, when a major error happens at the clinic of Joshis – IVF specialist doctor couple (Adil and Tisca). The sperms of Varun and Honey gets mixed up and Deepti and Monica end up bearing Diljit and Akshay’s child respectively. Although the plot sounds simple, the gravity of the mistake is huge. But the film as such does not focus on the gravity of the mistake but taking this as the premise, rest of the film is built up around this.  

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The first half of the film is all about establishing the various characters and the plot. Deepti, a successful media professional, now feels the need of being a mother. She keeps the calendar ready with complete cycle of ovulation. Varun, although very keen to have a child, but is unable to handle the pressure of the same. For Deepti, it is a mission to accomplish, whereas Varun compares the pressure in the bedroom with the surgical strike. The film begins with their banter and it continues almost throughout the film. They reach the Joshis, IVF specialist doctors, to try IVF. That is where they get to meet the boisterously loud couple Honey and Monika from Chandigarh.

The second half of the film is about the clashes between the two diametrically opposite couples. The second half is also more of emotions. Certain scenes are melodramatic too. How the truth of the error by Joshis is being handled by both the couples? What are the emotional entanglements shown? How are various issues – be it adoption, abortion, the concept of IVF, pregnancy etc. handled in the film?

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The film’s core strength is its starcast. Akshay and Diljit have perfect comic timings. Kareena as Deepti and Kiara as Monika are also very good. Although, the character sketching of Diljit and Kiara could have been better. But given the script, all four of them have given very natural and spontaneous performances. Adil Hussain and Tisca Chopra have also given wonderful performances. Adil really delivered some funny moments on screen. Anjana Sukhani and Faisal Rashid as Varun’s Sister and brother-in-law have less screen timings but they both are good.

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Music could have been better. Although the screenplay is slack in certain places, even the climax has a sudden meltdown of the whole plot. The thoughts projected through the dialogues are conflicting at times. Somewhere the thoughts are very progressive, appreciating the scientific and technological advances in our country and somewhere it focuses on the social stigma. The main premise is around IVF, parenthood, childbirth, simultaneously it also highlights the class-divide of metro vs non-metro. If it has the monologue dialogues full of pathos for women for their motherhood, it also has jokes on farting, sperm counts, language blunders, culture difference etc. Probably the writers Raj and Jyoti have chosen a very safe and light approach to talk about all these.

Good Newwz, a comedy set on the premise of accidental error of mix-up of sperms between the two couples during IVF procedure, is predictable, still it is an interesting watch due to the manner in which comedy, drama, emotions, social message are clubbed together, keeping its fun quotient above average.

⭐⭐⭐

Cast and Crew Details (Source: Wikipedia page)

Cast: Akshay Kumar (Varun Batra), Kareena Kapoor (Deepti Batra), Diljit Dosenjh (Honey Batra), Kiara Advani (Monika Batra)

Directed by: Raj Mehta

Produced by: Hiroo Yash Johar, Aruna Bhatia, Karan Johan, Apoorva Mehta, Shashank Khaitan

Written by: Jyoti Kapoor, Raj Mehta, Rishabh Sharma (Dialogue)

Screenplay by: Jyoti Kapoor and Rishabh Sharma

Story by: Jyoti Kapoor

Cinematography: Vishnu Rao

Edited by: Manish More

Production Company: Zee Studios, Dharma Productions, Cape of Good Films

Distributed by: Zee Studios

Release Date: 27th December, 2019

Duration: 133 minutes

Language : Hindi

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Review of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga http://lenzscope.com/review-of-ek-ladki-ko-dekha-toh-aisa-laga/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-ek-ladki-ko-dekha-toh-aisa-laga/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 19:56:33 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2577
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Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, a film by Shelly Chopra Dhar, comes up with a progressive topic. It is a love story with difference. It is very important to make films on such plots, tell the stories to create more awareness in our society, but Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga fails to do justice to the plot.

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The title of the film does generate the memory of beautiful moments of the film 1942: Love Story, in which this song turned out to be a superhit, and it still sounds so fresh even after 25 years. This song as well as the film had wonderful chemistry of Anil Kapoor and Manisha Koirala on screen. Somewhere, the film’s title generated curiosity to see how and what kind of love story this film projects. But it turns out to be a disappointing affair. The challenge with the film is its screenplay and acting. The screenplay does not explore the plot in depth. Indeed, such an issue is picked up, which needs to be heard by the society, but the treatment is so dampening. Love is an intense emotion and it does not deserve a meek and non-assertive form of narration. This is what happens in the film. It is not that such a subject has never been dealt earlier in Indian films, rather dealt with very much finesse and depth. The execution of the film is dull.

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Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) is a girl from Punjab, daughter of Balbir Chaudhary, the Ambani of Punjab (Anil Kapoor). She is shown to be a timid girl. Rajkummar Rao plays the role of a playwright Sahil Mirza. Although he is the son of a famous movie producer, he chooses to be away from family and work on his own terms. Sweety is shown to be scared of her brother (Abhishek Duhan) who keeps an eye on her movements. Sahil and Sweety happen to meet by chance in Delhi. Juhi Chawla plays the role of Chatro, a Chef and wannabe actress, with Sahil’s team. Sahil travels to Sweety’s place to explore love and write about the same for his play. Is Sahil in love with Sweety ? Is Sweety in love with Sahil or somebody else ? The story unfolds further but in absolutely disengaging and dispassionate manner.  

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The only grace of the film is Anil Kapoor. Rajkummar Rao is such a wonderful actor, who generally puts so much life into the character he plays, but in this film, his role is very much understated. He does not have much to do. It is strange that real father-daughter chemistry is also missing on screen. Seema Pahwa, Brijendra Kala, Kanwaljeet Singh have very less screentime. Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla have a few scenes on screen and supposed to generate humour, but it does not happen so.

‘Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ fails to do justice to the love story it wants to narrate, rather adopts a very apologetic, meek and non-assertive tone.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)


Cast and Crew Details (Source: Wikipedia page)

Cast: Anil Kapoor (Balbir Chaudhary), Sonam Kapoor (Sweety), Rajkummar Rao (Sahil Mirza), Juhi Chawla (Chatro), Brijendra Kala (Chaubey), Seema Pahwa (Billauri), Madhumati Kapoor (Beeji)

Directed by: Shelly Chopra Dhar

Produced by: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Written by: Gazal Dhaliwal, Shelly Chopra Dhar

Cinematography: Himan Dhamija, Rangarajan Rambadran

Music by: Rochak Kohli, Score – Sanjay Wandrekar, Atul Raninga

Edited by: Ashish Suryavanshi

Production Company: Vinod Chopra Films

Distributed by: Fox Star Studios, 20th Century Fox

Release Date: 1st February, 2019

Duration: 120 minutes

Language : Hindi

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Review of Thackeray http://lenzscope.com/review-of-thackeray/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-thackeray/#respond Mon, 28 Jan 2019 20:09:12 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2560

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Thackeray, by Abhijit Panse, is a biopic on Bal Keshav Thackeray, popularly known as Balasaheb, the founder of Shiv Sena. The challenge in reviewing such a biopic film is that how to articulate and write about a film where the titular character’s many acts are not in the interest of the mankind. It turns out to be so difficult to appreciate the rabble-rousing politician portrayed on screen. How to appreciate the character who had a controversial life ? He had no qualms in choosing violence, indulging in hate-speech, fighting for the rights of Marathis but demonization of other communities etc. One of the strange parts of the film is that Nawazuddin is chosen for the lead character, who ends up promoting Hindutva and talking against certain communities especially Muslims. One is certainly able to see the transformation of a cartoonist to a ferocious leader through the film and there is every probability of its sequel too.

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The film is disturbing due to many dialogues and the way Thackeray’s life and decisions are justified. There are many instances where the leader is looking at mass turning violent and still not apologetic about the same. So, one is forced to think, how to support a leader who promoted communalism and just rationalized every act. He projects that he believes in the unity of the nation first and then Maharashtra by saying : Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra. This is the inner conflict as a critic how to even rate and review the film which is not in favour of the mankind. But then, the film has to be taken as a piece of art. Now, looking at the film as simply a piece of art, Nawazuddin breathes life so effortlessly into the lead character Thackeray. Nawazuddin does not imitate every mannerism / voice of Balasaheb, but he projects the very essence of the character so brilliantly on screen.   

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The film begins with Thackeray being interrogated in court for the charges against him in being instrumental for Babri Masjid demolition and his hate speech. The flash back scenes are interspersed along with the interrogation process and Thackeray’s rational statements for every situation. Thackeray’s sense of humour is also captured well. Thackeray is shown to be working on his own terms even when he is employed as a cartoonist with Free Press Journal. He chooses to resign his job than to succumb to the political pressures. Then he decides to start up his own weekly newspaper – Marmik. His father’s goodwill in the market ensures him the loan to begin with this journey.

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Thackeray is shown to be very shrewd and blunt from the very beginning. Thackeray grows from there to a very influential position where he was able to win people over on his sides. He first worked for the rights of Marathis. He was adamant about calling Bombay as Mumbai even before 1995. He went to extremes to achieve the power. He neither bothers about his people picking up weapons against other people nor digging up and ruining the cricket pitch ahead of an India-Pakistan match. He himself protests from the front on many occasions. He does not hesitate to express his extremist views. At the same time, there are certain scenes in the film, where he is shown to be liberal as well in his viewpoints. Certain dialogues like “Pungi bajao lungi bhagao” are disturbing. But the film propels ahead glorifying the acts of Balasaheb and his ways of politics.  

His wife Meena’s role is essayed by Amrita Rao. The film does not explore much on his personal front except a few scenes at home, with his father as well as with Meenatai, who is shown to be a silent but strong support system of his life. Various leaders viz. Morarji Desai, George Fernandez, India Gandhi, Sharad Pawar are also seen in certain scenes to reflect upon the political scenario as well as certain major decisions of those times.

As far as the cast is concerned, Nawazuddin seems to be the perfect choice for the Balasaheb’s role. Even without mimicking Balasaheb, he could project the character so incredibly on screen. Amrita as Meenatai is also good. Rest of the characters are also ok.

In spite of Nawazuddin giving one of his finest performance in Thackeray, it is difficult to celebrate the film since it relishes the provocative politics displayed by Balasaheb. The film has its elements in place to convey that the transformation of Bal Keshav Thackeray from a cartoonist to the tyrant Balasaheb was need of the hour. It is indeed difficult to appreciate the rabble-rousing politician portrayed on screen but kudos to Nawazuddin for playing this character with finesse.      

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)

Cast and Crew Details (Source: Wikipedia page)

Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Balasaheb Thackeray), Amrita Rao (Meena Tai Thackeray), Rajesh Khera (Morarji Desai)

Directied by: Abhijit Panse

Produced by: Viocom18 Motion Pictures, Dr. Shrikant Bhasi, Varsha Sanjay Raut, Purvashi Sanjay Raut, Vidhita Sanjay Raut

Written by: Arvind Jagtap, Manoj Yadav (Dialogues)

Screenplay by: Abhijit Panse

Story By: Sanjay Raut

Based on: Bal Thackeray

Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee

Music by: Rohan, Sandeep Shirodkar, Amar

Edited by: Ashish Mahatrae, Apurva Motivale Sahai

Production Company: Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Raut’ers Entertainment, Carnival Motion Pictures

Distributed by: Viacom18 Motion Pictures

Release Date: 25th January, 2019

Duration: 139 minutes

Language (s): Hindi, Marathi

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Review of Manikarnika http://lenzscope.com/review-of-manikarnika/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-manikarnika/#respond Sun, 27 Jan 2019 17:22:50 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2550
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Manikarnika, a film directed by Krish and Kangana Ranaut, is a period drama based on one of the most iconic warrior and legend from our history Rani Lakshmibai. Her name has gone into history and is also used as a metaphor even today for all the empowered women who stand for themselves. Her very name generates a visual of a woman warrior fighting fiercely with a child strapped on her back. The poetess Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s poem Jhansi Ki Rani summarizes the whole life of Lakshmibai. These two lines of the poem are so famous:

बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,

खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वः तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी I

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Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi does justice to the character Rani Lakshmibai. As a movie lover, I did enjoy Manikarnika, but when I looked at the film as a critic, I was wondering about two things. First, the film talks about the warrior Lakshmibai, but not much about the person Lakshmibai. The screenplay does mention about her being an ardent book lover, fluent in English, a compassionate person, but nothing more than this. Second thing, the other characters in the film did not get due highlights and that is one of the major problem with the film. In History, other characters viz. Gangadhar Rao, Ghulam Ghauz Khan, Tatya Tope, Kashibai, Sadashiv etc. are also prominent but in the film, they turned into merely secondary characters without much highlights. And this is the same thing which happened in her last film Simran, where she was there in every frame reducing other characters’ sketching to almost negligible. In Simran, she had a major fall out with its writer Apurva Asrani (National award winner) and she brought so many changes to the original script that the film lost its sheen. Manikarnika was in controversy right from the time it went to floors. She had broken her commitment with renowned filmmaker Ketan Mehta whose dream project was to make a film on Jhansi ki Rani and he had researched heavily on the topic. Then she started this film Manikarnika with Krish but took the position of a director later on and even her name featured before Krish in credits. The articles with Krish’ interview are doing rounds in the media. According to Krish, his version was very much altered by Kangana. In fact, Sadashiv’s character was earlier played by Sonu Sood which was later done by Zeeshan Ayub. If reports are true, then Kangana would have to certainly grow beyond her own self-interest and be part of the team and ensure that creativity, story, presentation etc. takes higher positions than an artist. Her self-interest reflects in the film. Although Kangana shines in every frame of Manikarnika, but the film should not have been only about Manikarnika but also about how other characters became part of her journey or facilitated her journey to be one of the earliest patriots of our freedom struggle. This is where the film falters, but otherwise, accolades for terrific Kangana.   

Rani Lakshmibai, originally born as Manikarnika Tambe in Varanasi, nicknamed as Manu, is being trained for shooting, horsemanship and other skills in warfare right from her childhood itself. Her father is an advisor to the Peshwa in Bithoor. She is being married to the king of Jhansi – Gangadhar Rao Newalkar (Jisshu Sengupta). The king chooses to wear bangles in his wrists but Manikarnika, rechristened as Lakshmibai post marriage, never chooses to question him. She is shown to be firm when it came to decisions in regard to Jhansi or not succumbing to the pressures of British. She does give birth to a boy child, but he soon dies and she loses Gangadhar also due to his sickness. Although both of them had adopted Damodar as son and had declared him the heir, the British refused to accept him as successor. And so as per the doctrine of lapse, any kingdom without a legal male heir was supposed to be under the control of East of India Company. Lakshmibai decides to fight for Jhansi. She fought so valiantly that British government sent their best people like General Hugh Rose to strategically fight against her. Lakshmibai’s emotional side is also shown when she wears the pearls gifted to her by Gangadhar and goes for the final war. Rest of the film unveils in regard to how Lakshmibai puts up a brave front till her last breath. She becomes a martyr at the mere age of 29.     

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Certain scenes are very beautiful as well as powerful. The scene where Gangadhar takes her to the library which he set up for her in the palace and also the scenes where he understands the power of Lakshmibai and silently gives approval to her. The scene where Ghulam Ghause Khan questions her decisions and integrity behind writing to the British government and pleading for her rights on the palace post Gangadhar’s death, then Lakshmibai responds calmly saying that there is right time for everything. It shows, how she was not impulsive in taking decisions. One of the most powerful scenes is where Lakshmibai walks out of the ceremonies of widowhood in order to fulfill responsibilities for saving Jhansi from British. The iconic scene, where she jumps from the top of the palace sitting on Badal (horse) and with her adopted child on her back is captured well. The climax scene gives goosebumps.

The war scene could have definitely been better picturized. Its CGI (Computer-generated-imagery) towards the end is not too impressive.              

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Kangana is certainly terrific in all the scenes, be it riding horse, fighting scenes, wielding swords, leaping on elephants, giving unblinking expressions to the British people, not ready to bow her head before the general.

But other characters’ sketching is not at all great.  Screenplay and editing are moulded in such a way that other characters lose their power. Great actors like Danny Denzongpa, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Atul Kulkarni, Mohammed Zeeshan AYub, Jisshu Sengupta, Ankita Lokhande (who makes her film debut) are actually not utilized to their optimum and reduced to mere caricatures. They have nothing much to do. Even amongst artists who played British Characters, Richard Keep as General Huge Rose does stand out but he also gets less screen time.

Dialogues by Prasoon Joshi and music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is good with patriotic fervour.

Although Kangana shines in every frame of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi but the film should not have been only about Manikarnika  but also about how other characters became part of her journey or facilitated her journey to be one of the earliest patriots of our freedom struggle. This is where the film falters, but otherwise, accolades for terrific Kangana.   

Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Cast and Crew Details (Source: Wikipedia page)

Cast: Kangana Ranaut (Manikarnika aka Manu aka Rani Lakshmi Bai), Atul Kulkarni (Tatya Tope), Jisshu Sengupta (Gangadhar Rao), Richard Keep (General Hugh Rose), Suresh Oberoi (Bajirao), Danny Dengzongpa (Ghulam Ghaus Khan), Vaibhav Tatwawaadi (Puran Singh), Zeeshan Ayub (Sadashiv), Kulbhushan Kharbanda (Dixit Ji), Ankita Lokhande (Jhalkaribai), Mishti (Kashibai), Nihar Pandya (Pran Sukh Yadav), Taher Shabbir (Sangram Singh)

Direction: Krish and Kangana Ranaut

Produced by: Zee Studios, Kamal Jain, Nishant Priti

Written by: Prasoon Joshi (Songs and dialogues)

Screenplay by: K. V. Vijayendra Prasad

Story By: K. V. Vijayendra Prasad

Narrated By: Amitabh Bachchan

Cinematography: Kiran Deohans, Gnana Shekar V. S.

Music by: Songs – Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Background Score – Sanchit Balhara, Ankit Balhara

Edited by: Rameshwar Bhagat, Suraj Jagtap

Production Company: Kairos Kontent Studios

Distributed by: Zee Studios

Release Date: 25th January, 2019

Duration: 148 minutes

Language: Hindi

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Review of Zero http://lenzscope.com/review-of-zero/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-zero/#respond Mon, 24 Dec 2018 21:28:24 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2529
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Zero, a film by Aanand L Rai, was certainly one of the awaited films of the year. This film has attracted negative feedback from most of the critics, whereas, I felt the film deserved a better viewership and feedback. Any film, especially our Indian film, has its major ingredients in terms of theme, plot, screenplay, dialogues, emotions, music, visuals, direction, mode of story-telling, character sketching of the lead protagonists as well as other characters and most importantly the actors associated with the film and their portrayal of characters. Let me speak first about what does not work in the favour of the film – it is probably the fact that certain aspects of story seem unreal, not so logical and practical. Barring this, there are so many other factors which actually work in favour of the film. First of all, Shahrukh’s energy, magic and charm are incredible. He infuses life into his character Bauvva Singh. Anushka projects her character with utmost sincerity. Katrina’s screen space is less but one cannot deny her character’s contribution to the plot. Zero has its heart in place, emotions play in its real flavour. There is love, betrayal, ambition, heartbreaks, sacrifice, repentance etc. Music and humour in the film also have enough power to engage the audience. So, the film deserves a better viewership and rating.

Bauvva Singh (Shahrukh Khan) is a dwarf – 4.6 feet, who lives his life in Meerut with style. Bauvva is a movie buff and has a crush on the actress Babita (Katrina Kaif). He does not shy away from showering money on his friends Guddu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub) and gang when they read out the news of Babita’s breakup. The banter between father Ashok (Tigmanshu) and son generate add lot of humour. He looks up at the sky, counts from 10 to zero to turn stationery stars into shooting ones. Bauvva is now 38 year old bachelor looking for an alliance. Through his matchmaker, he does come across Aafia (Anushka), a NSAR scientist suffering from cerebral palsy. Bauvva is absolutely unsympathetic in his approach towards Aafia, right from the beginning. What happens, when two individuals fall in love, who are not normal as per the norms existing in and around our world? A space scientist falling in love with hardly a 10th grade Buavva and then the triangle with Babita in the scene, an alcoholic actress – the story unravels beyond this. The film wins here, since the plot does not succumb to any sympathy, the characters don’t fall prey to the victim trap even though they all are misfits in the world as per the norms.  

How does the love between Bauvva and Aafia evolve? When and how does Babita’s character get weaved into the plot ? Yes, Bauvva chooses to come back to his love Aafia and then how the story evolves further ? The film has special appearances by Madhavan, Bobby Deol, Sheeba Chaddha, Brijendra Kala too and how they become part of the story? Watch the film to know all these.

The dialogues have the underlying tone of humour most of the time, yet breaking many set norms and notions. In one scene, where Bauvva wants to dance as well as make Aafia also dance, there he first demands for a Shammi or Rishi Kapoor’s number and then later demands: Play any damn Kapoor song, it will work. He takes a dig on his own dimples. Babita, an alcoholic actress, heartbroken in love, does comment that she being fair does not need any make up.  

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The film also dedicates Shahrukh’s stardom in a scene to his leading ladies, where they come together – Kajol, Juhi, Sridevi, Deepika, Alia etc. The song Issaqbaazi, where Shahrukh and Salman are in the same frame along with Remo D’souga and Ganesh Acharya, is entertaining. It has Shahrukh wearing a t-shirt with Katrina’s image in it has wordings like one saying that she is his need whereas the other claims that she is incomplete without him.

Zero has its heart in place with emotions playing in its real flavour. Shahrukh infuses life in Buavva Singh through his energy, magic and charm. Certain parts of the film seem unreal, but the emotions displayed are so real, be it love, ambition, betrayal, loyalty, repentance etc. How can it be a Zero? It certainly deserves a better viewership and review.

Rating: 3/5 (Good)

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Review of Manto http://lenzscope.com/review-of-manto/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-manto/#respond Sun, 23 Sep 2018 18:54:03 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2497

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Manto, a film by Nandita Das, is a biopic on the Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto. Manto lived during 1912-1955. This film depicts his life especially during pre and post-independence days and partition time seamlessly interspersed with five of his most famous and poignant short stories: Dus Rupay, 100-Watt Bulb, Khol Do, Thanda Gosht and Toba Tek Singh. The film narrates his life through these stories. Manto was known to write unpleasant truths of our society, which people generally did not prefer to write or talk about. And his writings made him a controversial writer too. Manto is best known for his stories of partition days which very genuinely covers what people went through those days. Nandita’s attempts need applause for the way she has depicted the various events, its contexts in Manto’s life through his works. Manto was an unapologetic writer and he used to pour his experiences, views in his writings. He had to even face court trials in lieu of the obscenity in his literary works, was accused of writing materials not worth of set benchmark of literature. But Manto believed in what he wrote since his writings mirrored the society. He even wrote about prostitutes, pimps, subversive sexual slavery of women etc. The film Manto begins in Bombay pre-independence and continues to his life in Lahore when he and his family shifted to Pakistan post-independence. The film recreates the old Bombay and Lahore. Kartik Vijay’s cinematography justifies the feel and era of the film.  It is painful to watch the film since it covers the reality. The tragedy is that things have not changed much even after seven decades of freedom. Manto’s stories reflect lot of happenings of our today’s society too. Certainly, the feel after watching Manto is that it could have had more depth and coverage of his life, but one would feel the pain, turmoil, the transformations of Manto and his growing sense of isolation during the most definitive period of his life. When Manto in the film feels the pain of leaving Bombay and misses everything he had in India, viewers are bound to feel the same pain and agony. The film not only narrates about Manto in his biopic but through Manto and his stories, it shows the glimpse of the trauma India and Pakistan went through post partition. Even though this biopic leaves one with the feeling of wanting more, but it certainly needs to be watched.

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Manto begins with a scene from his story Dus Rupay, where we see a young girl apply makeup before she leaves to be with her clients. Then we see Manto in Bombay, confronting a film producer (Rishi Kapoor) to pay him his dues for the script he wrote. Manto is also seen commenting on Ismat Chughtai’s (Rajashri Deshpandey) writing. Manto is shown to have sharp tongue where he does not refrain from mocking at his best friend and upcoming actor Shyam Chaddha’s smoking cheap cigarattes. Days change, India gets independence but Hindus and Muslims are ripped apart. Manto had to choose to migrate to Pakistan along with his wife Safia (rasika Duggal) and daughters. His life changes in Lahore. He misses everything about Bombay, his friends and his life over there. Manto struggles to come to terms with his new reality at Lahore, he does become addicted to alcohol. The film takes Manto’s story and struggles ahead through his own other stories. Parts of each of the story is filmed with independent set of actors projecting the story of real Manto and his challenges. Manto is shown to be a man who lived for writing. In a court scene, where Faiz Ahmed Faiz defended Manto when he was charged of obscene writing but commented about the standard of his writing not at par with literature, Manto was bothered with the latter more.

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Certain dialogues in the film are very hard-hitting. One of the dialogue when he is asked by his wife Safia that why he carries variety of caps (Hindu Topi, Muslim Topi etc.) he says: Jab mazhab ki baat dil se nikalkar sar par chadh jaye to alag alag topi pahanni padti hai.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui excels in the titular character. He brilliantly embodies Manto’s character and brings life to the same on screen. Rasika has given a great performance as Safia. Rest of the characters played by Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shashank, Rajashri Deshpandey had less screen time, but definitely good. Rishi Kapoor, Ranvir Shory, Divya Dutta, Javed Akhtar, Vinod Nagpal, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Ila Arun, Paresh Rawal, Tilotama Shome, Gurdas Mann, Bhanu Uday are also seen in the film.

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The music of the film is composed by Sneha Khanwalkar and Raftaar.  The music strikes the right chord with the heart. The much famous lyrics of Faiz Ahmed Faiz – “Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hain” is beautifully sung by Vidhya Shah and Rashid Khan. Nagri Nagri is in the voice of Shankar Mahadevan. The lyrics of other songs are being penned by Dibakar Banerjee, Seemab Akbarbandi, Meeraji and Saadat Hasan Manto.

Manto is a film on his life and brutally honest reflection of the society during pre and post-independence days and partition time seamlessly interspersed with five of his most famous and poignant short stories: Dus Rupay, 100-Watt Bulb, Khol Do, Thanda Gosht and Toba Tek Singh. The tragedy is that things have not changed much even after seven decades of freedom. Manto’s stories reflect lot of happenings of our today’s society too. Certainly, the feel after watching Manto is that it could have had more depth and coverage of his life, but one would feel the pain, turmoil, the transformations of Manto and his growing sense of isolation during the most definitive period of his life. Even though this biopic leaves one with the feeling of wanting more, but it certainly needs to be watched.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good+)

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Review of Batti Gul Meter Chalu http://lenzscope.com/review-of-batti-gul-meter-chalu/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-batti-gul-meter-chalu/#respond Sun, 23 Sep 2018 18:12:28 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2489

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Batti Gul Meter Chalu, a film by Narayan Singh, is the story of inflated electricity bills and corruption in the system. The film certainly has a very relevant message to convey but the melodrama dominates. The melodramatic depictions as well as the running time of almost 3 hours make the film weak, but one can not ignore the issue raised in the film. Love triangle between the three lead protagonists of the film in the context of the issue raised is not too strong to hold the audience engaged. The film does convey that corrupt energy suppliers don’t allow small scale industries to prosper since most of the time these businesses are plagues with load shedding and power cuts but still getting inflated electricity bills.

The premise of the story is that a young entrepreneur Sundar (Divyendu Sharma) who starts a packaging company, gets mentally tortured with the inflated electricity bills. His childhood friend Sushil Kumar Pant aka SK (Shahid Kapoor), who does not generally have any ethical stand as far as his profession is concerned, acts as per his conscience and fights the court battle against the mighty Power Company. Shraddha who plays the role of their friend cum designer Lalita ‘Nauti’ Nautiyal joins SK in his fight against the corrupt system. The film does show that when the whole set of consumers join hand together even the mightiest corporation can become weak and end up yielding to the justice.

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Set in Tehri in Uttarakhand, the film begins with two of the travellers in Bus – Vikas and Kalyan unraveling the story of three friends SK, Sundar and Lalita. The names Vikas and Kalyan are purposefully chosen to take a dig at the development and welfare activities of our country. Certain dialogues do project that how development and welfare activities are just on papers whereas not happening in reality in the afflicted areas. Sk is an advocate who makes money with out of court settlements. Sundar dreams of making it big through his entrepreneurial venture. And Lalita is a designer who thinks of herself as one of the best and superior designer. The first half of the film builds up the plot of how the friendship between the three gets converted into a love triangle. The second half is spent mostly in the court scenes where SK confronts with the defense lawyer Gulnaar (Yami Gautam).

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The dialogues are written in pahadi style with most of the statements ending with ‘Bal’. ending. SK’s over the top claptrap dialogues with cringey sexist jokes aimed at Gulnaar somewhere dilutes the message of the film.

All the three main protagonists – Shahid, Shraddha and Divyendu play their parts well. Yami is also good. Sushmita Mukherjee as judge is good. Samir Soni has a small role as the owner of the Power Company as Sanjay Baduriya. Badral Islam and Sharib Hashmi as Kalyan and Vikas respectively narrate the story.

Batti Gul Meter Chalu is a film which raises a valid issue that of inflated electricity bills and corruption in the system. But the melodramatic depiction as well as the running time of almost 3 hours make the film weak, although one can not ignore the issue raised in the film.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Average+)

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Review of Varathan http://lenzscope.com/review-of-varathan/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-varathan/#respond Sun, 23 Sep 2018 17:16:43 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2484

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Varathan, a film by Amal Neerad, is a thriller which portrays different shades of voyeurism, misogyny and the lecherous looks of a few men leaving the female protagonist unable to feel safe within her own home. One can easily relate with the film since the story does talk about the paranoia which engulfs females in the society when their instincts tell them about the unsafe environment around them. The film also does justice to the helplessness, fear, pain and outrage experienced by women when they face the evil elements of the society. Its pace is slow but probably the story demanded this pace. The climax scene is gripping.

Abin (Fahadh Faasil) and Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) decide to relocate to India from Dubai. They decide to stay in the ancestral property of Priya where the antique things including gun used by Priya’s grandfather are kept safe. Amal Neerad does give clues from the very beginning regarding how intends to unravel the plot. Both Abin and Priya’s nature is established with a scene where a cockroach is seen. Abin just lets it go but Priya kills it immediately telling that she won’t allow the cockroach to enter her home. Priya instinctively picks up cues when she gets the uncomfortable looks from the people in the village and when she expresses this to Abin, he just asks her to ignore. Abin is shown to be having a very cool temperament. How their lives take an about turn when Priya experiences mental torture due to the voyeuristic deeds of Josey (Sharafudheen) and his gang.

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The film is engaging; especially the climax scene is fast, gripping and well shot. Even an important message is conveyed in the last scene that it is high time females stand up for themselves instead of expecting strength and support from their better halves since they are powerful and empowered from within. The film also highlights the importance of creating a society where everybody has the basic right to live in a fear-free environment and feel secure. Abin’s cool demeanour does make one uncomfortable in the beginning but the climax compensates where he transforms into a protector’s role.

Varathan’s cinematography is done by Little Swayamp which is brilliant and in absolute sync with the mood of the film. It captures the beauty of the location so nicely. Faahad, Aishwarya and Sharafuddin are brilliant in their respective roles.

Varathan, a film by Amal Neerad, is a thriller which portrays different shades of voyeurism, misogyny and the lecherous looks of a few men leaving the female protagonist unable to feel safe within her own home. One can easily relate with the film since the story does talk about the paranoia which engulfs females in the society when their instincts tell them about the unsafe environment around them. The film also does justice to the helplessness, fear, pain and outrage experienced by women when they face the evil elements of the society. Its pace is slow but probably the story demanded this pace. The climax scene is gripping.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good +)

 

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Review of Karwaan http://lenzscope.com/review-of-karwaan/ http://lenzscope.com/review-of-karwaan/#respond Sun, 05 Aug 2018 16:46:39 +0000 http://lenzscope.com/?p=2463

Karwaan, a film by Akarsh Khurana, is a road trip with difference. Here, three individuals, who are different from one another, happen to travel together with a purpose. How the journey helps them to undergo the process of self-discovery and acceptance forms the story. The plus point of the film is the combination of two most effortless actors – Irrfan Khan and South Indian heartthrob Dulquer Salman. In fact the concept of the film is also nice that how one’s life itself is an ongoing process of constant self-discovery, exploration, acceptance, change etc. The film also focuses on how important it is to be tolerant towards others’ perceptions too. The minus point of the film is that in an effort to treat the concept unconventionally, the film takes a very subtle tone throughout, the screenplay has tremendous scope of improvement. It is a likable film.

Dulquer makes his debut in Hindi films through Karwaan. He plays the character of Avinash representing those people, who left their passion behind by succumbing to the authority figures of their lives. He always wanted to be a photographer, but yielded to his father’s command to be employed with IT Company in Bengaluru. Avinash is dispassionately living his job and life. He feels that his father is responsible for this unhappy choice which he had to make in his life. One day, he gets the news of his father’s death in an accident.

He contacts Shaukat (brilliantly played by Irrfan Khan) to help him with a vehicle to fetch his father’s body. Shaukat decides to join Avinash to fetch his father’s body. Shaukat’s van has Majrooh Sultanpuri’s shayri written on it:

मैं अकेला ही चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर

लोग साथ आते गए और कारवाँ बनता गया I

Wrong corpse is given to Avinash. On enquiry, he comes to know that his father’s body has got exchanged with Tahira (Amla)’s mother (Cochin).  Tanya (Mithila Palkar), the grand-daughter joins Avinash and Shaukat and that is how Karwaan begins. Tanya represents the youth who does not believe in any rights and wrongs, and not at all apologetic for her relationship. She lives her life like a free spirit who chooses to live life on her own terms and conditions.

All the three characters are different from one another but the commonality between them is that all of them are emotional and sensitive in their own manners. What do Shaukat, Avinash and Tanya discover about self during this journey, and which aspects of their personality get exposed to the viewers? This Karwaan turns out to be functional for them or not? Do they realize, how they want to handle their lives ? Do they learn the art of forgiveness and tolerance?

About the cast, Irrfan is superb. He is an acting school by himself who carries the role with so much ease. His spontaneity in delivering the dialogues is very nice. Wish him speedy recovery from the dreaded disease. Dulquer who is known for his screen presence and effortless acting in the south is absolutely comfortable in the skin of Avinash. Mithila as Tanya is good, bubbly, certainly could have been more effective. We get to see Kriti, Amala and Akash Khurana on screen for a brief time. They do play pivotal roles which help us to understand the characters further. The cinematography is good reflecting the beauty of South India. Music could have been better. Certain dialogues are good : Haq jamane se pahle rishta nibhana chahiye.

Karwaan had the potential to be a great meditative film talking about some basic but very important philosophies of life but it takes a very subtle tone throughout and fails to make the impact which it could have created. Watch it for Irrfan, Dulquer and a few terrific scenes.

 Rating: 3/5 (Good)

 


Cast and Crew Details: Source – Wikipedia Page

Cast: Irrfan Khan (Shaukat), Dulquer Salman (Avinash), Mithila Palkar (Tanya), Kriti Kharbanda (Rumana), Amala (Tahira), Akash Khurana (Avinash’ father)

Directed by: Akarsh Khurana

Produced by: Ronnie Screwwala, Priti Rathi Gupta

Written by: Hussain Dalal (dialogues)

Screenplay by: Akarsh Khurana

Story by: Bejoy Nambiar

Music: Prateek Khuhad, Anurag Saikia, Slow Chettah, Imaad Shah

Cinematography: Avinash Arun

Edited by: Ajay Sharma

Production Company: RSVP Movies, Ishka Films

Distributed by : RSVP Movies

Release Date: 3rd August, 2018

Duration: 114 minutes

Language: Hindi

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