Ashdoc's Bollywood movie reviews

→ in

well , i have started flagging reviews here . it's a mammoth task and i am going backwards from last so that the latest movies get flagged first . mods/admin---are you listening ?
Tactius is the mod who does the reviews and makes them official. Sometimes it might take 48 hours before they get logged in, but he always gets the job done! Glad to see you doing this Ash.

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

as i again read my earliest reviews and then my latest reviews , i realise my style of reviewing has changed over the years . my earliest reviews were informal , but now i write formal reviews . but somewhere in that formality , the zing of my early writing has been lost . just writing as i noticed this fact now .

as i again read my earliest reviews and then my latest reviews , i realise my style of reviewing has changed over the years . my earliest reviews were informal , but now i write formal reviews . but somewhere in that formality , the zing of my early writing has been lost . just writing as i noticed this fact now .
You know, I've noticed the same thing when I go back and read my first reviews compared to my latest ones. And keeping the 'zing' is hard to do for me too.


Zaheer Iqbal plays Kabir Kaul , a young Kashmiri pandit who had been forced out of Kashmir valley in childhood by separatists . He had joined the Indian army on growing up , but a tragic incident involving the death of a young Kashmiri boy made him leave the army . His father used to run a school in Kashmir before being forced out , but both his house and his school were protected by his Kashmiri friend . Now the caretaker of his house is getting old and calls him back to take over the house and the school .

After reaching Kashmir Kabir realises that the school is located in the middle of a remote lake and can be reached only by boat . No facilities are available , but what is striking is the beauty of the place . He gathers students to again come to school and comes to know that previously they had been under the tutorship of a Kashmiri female teacher , Firdaus ( Pranutan Bahl ) . And he discovers the notebook left by Firdaus in which she had penned her thoughts . As he daily reads the notebook he comes to know the personality of Firdaus through the book and the thoughts penned in it . As he reads more he begins to fall in love with Firdaus without having met her even once .

Kabir soon manages to win the heart of his students by his affable nature . He reads in Firdaus' book that one of her students was forbidden by his father to study as he wanted him to become a gun toting separatist . Kabir meets his mother in the father's absence and convinces her to send the boy back to school , just as Firdaus had wanted . But his own performance as a teacher has not been up to the mark and Kashmir administration decides to remove him and he leaves to join a course of learning how to teach . But not before he has penned his own thoughts and his own experiences in the remaining pages of Firdaus' notebook . And admitted his love for her in writing .

Firdaus has been forced by her boyfriend to quit her job in the school , but since then her marriage plans with him have evaporated due to his cheating . Kashmir authorities give her the chance to replace Kabir as teacher in the school and she is only to happy to do so . On reaching the island school she sees the notebook and is shocked by the confession of love written by someone she has never met in her life . However as days pass by she reads the experiences penned by Kabir and his copying of all that she had done there and begins to like his personality . As she reads what he had done in the school and sees the affection that the school kids have for him , she begins to fall in love with Kabir .

The novel idea of two people loving each other only on reading each other's thoughts but without meeting each other even once was intriguing to say the least . And the beauty of the Kashmir photographed so well and with a decent musical score was making me fall in love with the film . So do the two lovers get to meet each other at all ? Watch the movie for the answers .

The harsh reality of militancy in Kashmir forms a distant backdrop for the film and comes to confrontation only in the climactic scene of the film . And gets solved in a manner that aficionados of poetic justice would approve . Acting is decent by everyone without being spectacular . The film is a poetic way of drilling a simple lesson into Kashmiri minds---just drop the gun .

Verdict---Super .

Romeo Akbar Walter

This is an espionage thriller set during India's moment of triumph---the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. John Abraham plays Romeo Ali , son of a veteran of the 1962 war against China . Though he is a banker by profession , his father's patriotic reputation means that he is under the scanner for recruitment in RAW ( research and analysis wing ) the spy agency of India . He is duly tested and is found physically fit , so he is tasked with spying in Pakistan for India . His name there becomes Akbar Malik .

His task in Pakistan is to attain the trust of a Pakistani arms dealer and through that trust get information about a bombing raid which is going to be conducted by Pakistan on Bangladeshi liberation fighters backed by India in east Pakistan . This is a film , so typically he has a love interest played by Mouni Roy . He has several RAW agents helping him , some being Pakistani .

While being recruited for RAW , the head of RAW played by Jackie Shroff tells him that any instruction that is passed on to him even verbally will be in vague language and he has to learn to decipher the real meaning behind it . This becomes mighty important as the climax approaches , as it seems RAW has abandoned him by washing hands off him verbally and he is forced to become turncoat and work for Pakistan .

Even before this , his sojourn in Pakistan is not easy because a tall and strapping Pakistani ISI ( spy agency ) agent played by Sikander Kher has become suspicious of him and arrests him and tortures him . In the end he becomes Walter Khan who works for Pakistan's ISI . Or does he ? Watch the movie for the answer .

The movie pays tribute to the many RAW agents who have sacrificed not only their life but also their identity in service of the nation , by fully becoming part of the enemy's establishment . They have cut off ties not only with their birth country but also their near and dear ones forever just like Romeo/Akbar/Walter has cut off with his beloved mother . The only time they can salute their birth country's flag is when they are alone . They will never be named or honoured by their motherland for fear of their identities being exposed . They are the ultimate patriots....

The movie moves at a slow and languid pace and you have to be patient to get to the high of nationalism that you have been waiting for , for it is only towards the climax that the movie delivers that . Background music and songs are decent and acting by everyone is most appropriate for the situations . Colours and photography are only okay but nothing special . The movie is for die hard aficionados of spy thrillers and for military buffs . Others may find the pace of the film a tad too slow and picking up speed only towards the end , and be a little disappointed . A lot of cinematic liberty has been taken in certain situations , but that is only to be expected as it is just a film .

Verdict---Good .

The Tashkent Files

April 2019

In 1965 , after the successful Indian resistance to Pakistani aggression a conference was organised in Tashkent in the erstwhile Soviet Union to broker peace between the two rivals . After the conference Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri suddenly died and the reason officially given was heart attack as he had already suffered twice due to it . But his sudden death in midst of peace conference in a foreign country after war has led to conspiracy theories that his death was not natural .

Cut to the present day . Shweta Basu Prasad plays Raagini Phule , a young attractive female journalist . One day she receives a phone call and some documents asking her to re investigate the death of Shastri . She gets approval of her boss and her story about Shastri's death being suspicious gets headlined in the newspaper she works for . Due to the resultant publicity , a committee is formed to reexamine the facts behind Shastri's death . It is headed by Tripathi , a politician played by Mithun Chakraborty .

Raagini presents some facts saying that the death of Shastri was not natural , and arguments and fights soon break out between members of the committee . Some members are adamant that nothing unnatural happened with Shastri while others are sure that there was some foul play . Raagini goes to Tashkent where she meets a former spy who gives her some facts raising suspicions about the death .

Back home Raagini is stalked and threatened by people not wanting her to discuss more about the death . This makes her even more determined to unmask the truth about the death . She makes presentations in which former journalists of that era and Shastri's son Anil say that they are suspicious about the death . Raagini quotes former KGB spies who say India was awash with KGB spies after Shastri's death , and that both CIA and KGB tried to buy politicians during the post Shastri era . She says that the one person who could have stopped this total buyout of the country's political system due to his utter integrity was Shastri . Here was a politician who had changed his surname because he did not believe in the caste system and because that surname told his caste . He had driven around in a car taken on government loan because he was utterly non corrupt therefore could not afford his own car .

Raagini says that after Shastri's demise India came into the Soviet orbit and the word socialist was added to it's constitution when all opposition leaders were in jail . The death of Shastri also benefited the Nehru Gandhi family and Shastri could have stopped all this . Hence he was put out of the way by those who benefited by his death---both the foreign power and Indian politicians . As she goes on proving this , her tone grows more emotional and she seems to be losing control maybe because of the tremendous pressure and stress she is under after her face is blackened by a mob .

At the end of the movie she realises who had sent her the documents and made the phone call to her to raise the issue of Shastri's suspicious death . The person tells her that he did it to get political advantage over his rivals , and that such things have to be done to gain power for without power in hand nothing can be done for people's benefit . So it is obvious from the people targeted by the movie ( the opposition who else ) that the movie has been made with the ruling party's blessing in such a way that will benefit the ruling party . At least one has to give full marks to the director for being unabashed about his intentions at a time when the country is in national election mode .

Acting , background music and songs , photography and colours are all okay . The ruling party's fans will cheer the movie while the opposition supporters will fume , what else....

Verdict---Okay .


( Rebirth ) April 2019

The movie is set in the political heartland of Maharashtra---the sugarcane growing region of western Maharashtra . Many of the scenes occur among fields of sugarcane crops---the budding romance and lovemaking of the hero and heroine , political murder , and hiding of murderer among tall canes of sugar . The dialect spoken in the movie is rural Marathi which is the forte of Rinku Rajguru , the lead actress of 'Sairat' movie fame .

The small town of Virainagar is setting to political rivalry between two politicians---Abasaheb ( Suhas Palshikar ) and Bhayyasaheb ( Shantanu Gangane ) . Abasaheb represents the old political hierarchy who has manipulated the sugarcane factory that is economic mainstay of the town to his own benefit but to the detriment of the townsfolk's interests . Bhayyasaheb is tall and strapping and is the challenger to Abasaheb .

The advisor to Bhayyasaheb is Guruji ( Shashank Shende ) who dreams of bringing political revolution in the town . He has big dreams for his daughter named Rani ( Rinku Rajguru ) to become a leader of the masses . But his dreams are ground to dust by Rani , who falls in love with Guruji's right hand hot tempered strongman Yuvaraj ( Shubhankar Tawde ) and wants to settle down in holy matrimony with him .

But guruji is hell bent on making his daughter a political leader and not a housewife , and weaves a web of intrigue that sets Rani on a path of political popularity that she cannot shake off even if she wants to . He takes advantage of an ancient blood feud between Yuvaraj and Abasaheb to engineer bloody death in such a manner that Yuvaraj is out of the way and so is Bhayyasaheb , thus opening the way for his daughter Rani to have no choice but to become a rising political star as successor to Bhayyasaheb .

In the end Guruji achieves his aim....or does he ? For he has to contend with the passion of a woman in love---his daughter Rani who else . And she cannot dream of a future without Yuvaraj by her side , nor does she want to rest until Bhayyasaheb's murderers are brought to justice . And the whole saga leads to her rebirth ( Kaagar ) in more ways than one . Just how ? Watch the movie for that....

The first half is the love story of Yuvaraj and Rani in the backdrop of political conspiracies in small town Maharashtra . It is Shubhankar Tawde as Yuvaraj who dominates that part with his broad shoulders and strong arms giving him punching power against political rivals . The second half shows effortless blossoming of Rani from college going girl to a mature adult . And Rinku Rajguru has done justice to that role while Yuvaraj goes from confident young man to quivering youngster who gets caught in a web of deceit and assassination spun by Guruji .

The scenes of Yuvaraj and Rani being forced to flee gangs unleashed on them by Guruji remind one of the elopement scenes of 'Sairat' , and the ending scenes of the movie are even more 'Sairat' like . Acting by everyone is appropriate for their roles and background music and songs are okay . Photography is decent and colours are okay too . The movie does succeed in creating the flavour of rural Maharashtra upto some extent .

Verdict---Very decent .


May 2019

Maybe the image of Sunny Deol fighting muslim terrorists in an action thriller could help boost his image for elections . After all , he is standing for elections in Gurdaspur on a nationalist ( BJP ) ticket and the movie has been released at the right time . He plays Mumbai ATS ( anti terrorism squad ) head SS Dewan , who is so scrupulously honest that he refuses to bail out his own son when the son gets caught in a drug raid .

But the people Dewan is against are extremely committed muslim terrorists who want to wage jehad against India and it is not easy to deal with such a threat . The movie does show honestly how small muslim boys are encouraged to become suicide bombers by promises of paradise made to them by radical islamic preachers . Cries of jehad rent the air as they vow to wage eternal war against India .

One such boy caught by Mumbai ATS is Hanif ( Karan Kapadia ) and he has turned into a unique suicide bomber ; he has a suicide bomb directly connected to his heartbeat in such a way that it will explode when his heartbeat stops . So the challenge is to keep him alive till he is taken to an uninhabited location where he can be killed without loss of other lives . But his jehadi mentors are after him to save him , and Dewan does not know another deadly fact about the bomb . Also there is someone working in ATS who is in league with the islamic terrorists and who keeps them one step ahead of Dewan .

So will Dewan be able to prevent the jehadis from bomb blasting Mumbai one more time ? The movie gives some interesting answers to that . I went to see Sunny Deol's famous temper erupt into a burst of anger and was rewarded on a couple of occasions . The movie does show some action scenes of ATS officers storming underground cells of jehadis and full scale fighting between jehadis and the officers . Bursts of automatic rifles and explosions of bombs rent the air . The movie is too sophisticated for Sunny's 'dhai kilo ka haat' ( two and a half kilo forehand ) to be used too much ; we have to make do with Sunny firing guns . But there is enough action to keep an action movie aficionado happy , and enough jehadis being sent to hell to keep a nationalist happy .

Background music and songs and acting and colours and photography is all decent enough . And there is a twist in the end to make things even better . Sunny is older than his 'Ghayal' and 'Gadar' days but he still has some firepower . Ishiita Dutta is good as his lovely female assistant , and Karanvir Sharma is able as his other associate in fighting terrorists . Karan Kapadia is impressive as Hanif and his acting steals the show .

Verdict---Good .

Student Of The Year Part 2

( May 2019 )

Student of the year part 2 has a similar setting like part one---a posh college looking like something from a foreign country with westernised crowd and westernised lingo. Ordinary words like 'change' are to be upgraded to words like 'evolve' . The girls are wearing very short skirts and the guys' fave hangout is the local nightclub .

Into this rarefied setting comes an outsider---a poor boy on a sports scholarship who is looking to try to hook up again with his girlfriend Mridula ( Tara Sutaria ) who has changed her name to Mia after she got admission to this college and who tries to avoid him . The boy is Rohan Sachdev ( Tiger Shroff ) . He gets into trouble with the college trustee's daughter Shreya ( Ananya Pandey ) who is a big prankster and who targets him .

Shreya's brother Manav ( Aditya Seal ) acts nice at first and takes Rohan under his wing , only to discover that Rohan has too much talent to remain just his sidekick . Rohan challenges Manav both in sports and in dance . And then emerges the dark side of Manav . And also emerges the vulnerable side of the big prankster Shreya , who falls for Rohan's gentlemanliness like a ton of bricks .

The problem with the budding romances is---no one is sure whom to love . Mia/Mridula's attraction oscillates between Manav and Rohan . And Rohan's love oscillates between Shreya and Mridula . But Manav's hate is not oscillating . He is sure whom to hate---Rohan . And has Rohan rusticated from the college using his father's influence as trustee . Rohan has to go back to the poorer college he once studied at and the poor friends he once had .

But it is those poor friends who stand by him when he decides to take revenge on Manav by beating him in sports---the dignity cup , which is the inter collegiate sports competition in which Manav has led his college to be winner in the past . Problem is , there is no heart in the mouth moment as the rivals lock horns in the dignity cup . The ending in which there can be only one obvious winner ( good always triumphs over evil doesn't it ) is as tepid as it gets .

What is more interesting is the oscillation of the would be lovers unsure of whom to love , but having decent chemistry with each other . While the movie does not provide the zing when the protagonists are in confrontational mode , it does give us some interesting moments when the same people are grappling with problems of love . So the movie does have a good build up to it's plot for some time with some good looking girls and boys ( even the villain is good looking ) interacting and dancing and singing .

Acting and choreography and background music is okay . Colours and photography and fight scenes are okay too . Songs are decent . If your expectations are not weighed down by comparisons with part one then the movie is a one time watch .

Verdict---Decent .

India's Most Wanted

This movie is based on the capture of dreaded islamic terrorist Yasin Bhatkal , who was involved in bomb blasts in cities like Pune , Hyderabad , Ahmedabad and Delhi . It shows how real heroes who capture terrorists are ordinary people who are afraid of their wives and mothers , a far cry from the slick chiselled bodied heroes who fight terrorists in films . The film is an attempt to give these unsung patriots their due . Yasin is referred to as Yusuf in the movie , played by Sudev Nair .

The movie opens with a powerful blast in German bakery in the city of Pune . And the whole movie is interspersed with blasts like this . And after every blast , the villain Yusuf talks in his mind about kafirs ( infidel non muslims ) and jannat ( paradise ) , to which he expects to go after dispatching the kafirs with bombs . Islamic music rings in the background , making clear islam's connection with terrorism . This is exactly what has caught the goat of left / liberal movie reviewers , who have given bad ratings to the film . But actually this is an under rated film . Not bad competition to the film on PM Narendra Modi that has been released simultaneously .

The hero of the movie is IB ( Intelligence bureau ) operative Prabhat Kapoor , who comes in contact with a source in Nepal . That source is a muslim guy who is taking a grave risk to give lead to Yusuf's whereabouts in Nepal . Prabhat patches together a team to go and capture Yusuf , but the permission to capture him does not come from the high command nor does any money . Never mind , the team decides to disregard orders and nab the terrorist anyway , and they pool in their own money to go get him . If they fail , their careers could be in the line for disobeying orders to not go . Is this madness ? Some would call it patriotism .

While they are on the move , we get to see some breathtaking photography of Nepal . Winding rivers among green tree topped mountains and roads winding along the rivers crossing a river or two give chance for some superb cinematography . There are no stunts or action scenes or big chases . That is what real life nabbing of terrorists is all about . As realistic as it gets . But when it comes to co operation from Nepalese officers , there is disappointment . Some of them form an obstacle to the task , raising guns on the Indian team instead .

There are also the Pakistani operatives of it's intelligence agency ISI active in Nepal , and they come to know through their sources that the Indian team has come to nab Yusuf . And the Pakistanis are much better armed than the pistols that the Indians carry . They carry automatic rifles . Also they have complete permission from their higher ups to prevent Yusuf's capture by use of violence and murder if necessary . On the other hand the Nepalese raise hell with Indian higher ups and Indian higher authorities explode in fury and try to force the team to abort the mission . Remember these were Congress party ruled times and the government was {censored} footed about handling islamic terror . But a India sympathetic Nepalese officer blocks the Pakistani team , and the confrontation between the Indians and Pakistanis does not explode into violence---all realism here and no unnecessary thrills .

Yusuf Played by Sudev Nair is a mysterious figure throughout much of the movie and only his light eyes are seen though the mask hiding his face . When captured , he knows his fate and does not resist much ; this is no action movie . But smiles and talks menacingly . He uses the pseudonym Shah Rukh many times , leading to the frisking and searching of Indian film star Shah Rukh Khan on US airports many times . Arjun Kapoor looks overweight but his acting is decent . Colours and background music and songs are decent . And when the source who led them to Yusuf gets to see the terrorist for himself he waives off half his fee for leading them to him ; some muslims are ready to co operate against terror and the Indian team has a muslim operative too . The film is not about religion bashing , but it is clear about it's patriotism too . The national song 'Vande Mataram' rings loud and clear as the movie ends .

Verdict---Very decent .

PM Narendra Modi

This movie is without question made for self promotion , and the election commission had to bar the release of the movie until the elections were over to prevent the movie from influencing the voters . It twists history in such a way that many events in India's history happen with Narendra Modi as their pivot , and he inevitably triumphs in them . Now that it has been released after the elections , the movie has turned out to be a celebration of his resounding success in the elections rather than an attempt to win over the voters .

The movie begins with Modi selling tea in childhood to help his father make ends meet , while his mother washes utensils in people's households to help his father financially . Watching the scenes made me realize why Modi cried when he met Mark Zuckerberg ; reaching such a powerful position where he got to meet powerful people from being a simple tea seller whose mother literally was a servant in people's homes was something worth getting emotional about .

He is shown to be patriotic from childhood and salutes the national flag whenever he sees it . Offers free tea to soldiers of the army and eavesdrops on every conversation made by elders about the situation on the frontiers when the country is at war with China . He comes under the influence of a RSS ( right wing organisation ) functionary called Inamdar who offers him a path of joining RSS . But at this point Modi dreams of being an ascetic and his parents are worried about him going astray . So they fix his marriage . He is shown refusing to get married though actually he got married but abandoned the woman who still remains his official wife . Point to be noted is that he remains amazingly popular among women even after doing this .

So Modi really becomes an ascetic living in the himalayas wearing saffron ( colour of hinduism ) clothes in snowbound conditions . His guru however asks him to do something for his countrymen by joining politics and he goes back to his home state Gujarat to Inamdar , the RSS functionary who warmly welcomes him into the fold of the RSS . When RSS men are imprisoned by the government and few are to be found to lead a march against the government , Modi shows his resourcefulness by inviting people to claim money looted by the government from them and rousing them with a fiery speech . From here there is no looking back .

As then PM Indira Gandhi declares an emergency which is a threat to democracy , Modi is shown to throw leaflets into the press conference she has organised to explain her reasons to the foreign press . Those leaflets tell the truth about bamboozling of democracy in India , severely embarrassing the PM . The whole episode seems to be fictitious . As democracy is re established , the formation of the BJP party from which Modi is PM now brings a new political chapter in Modi's life ; from a worker of the RSS he has now become a politician of the BJP . But he continues his work by building canals of water for parched regions of Gujarat after seeing it's women struggle to bring water to their homes in metal pots carried on their heads . The women vote for BJP praising Modi's work and his vote winning ability is seen .

However the chief minister of Gujarat is not happy with the increasing popularity of Modi who he sees as a rival and he forces the head of the BJP to send him away from Gujarat to national capital Delhi . But Modi comes back to help during an earthquake in Gujarat and party high command makes him chief minister . After this happens the most controversial event in his political career---what I call the post Godhra riots , after muslim goons burn alive nearly sixty hindus in a train at the railway station of Godhra . Hindus in Gujarat take terrible revenge by killing muslims in retaliation , and Modi has been held to be the leading the retaliation . As expected , the movie whitewashes Modi's role in the retaliation by showing him trying to control the riots he probably didn't attempt to control in real life .

The United States was influenced to cancel his visa as punishment for Modi's role in the riots , and the influencer is shown to a fictitious businessman named Aditya Reddy ( Prashant Narayanan ) who had tried to bribe Modi earlier . Modi is shown rebuffing him by telling him that nor will he get bribed himself nor will he allow him to bribe others . Modi wows to one day come to USA in triumph later , and it is now part of history that the US was forced eat humble pie and invite him to the country after he became PM of India .

Modi invites industrialist Ratan Tata ( Boman Irani ) to build cars in Gujarat , cutting the red tape for which India is notorious and makes his image as a business friendly politician . Aditya Reddy then corrupts a media personality played by Darshan Kumar to malign Modi's image , but Modi is shown to turn tables and beat him in a televised interview . The stage is set for him becoming PM .

Among the politicians , I found the actresses playing former PM Indira Gandhi and the actress playing leader of Congress party Sonia Gandhi to be looking exactly like the real life persons . Atal Bihari Vajpayee acts exactly like the real person , while LK Advani and Mulrli Manohar Joshi are good too . Vivek Oberoi does not try to copy Modi , though he tries to speak hindi language with a gujarati accent .

Pakistan is Modi's rival in the later part of the film , and it is shown sending it's soldiers ( not terrorists but actual armymen ) to kill Modi . Needless to say , Modi faces the situation with the courage of a lion with a 56 inch chest that he has been lionized to have . More time is spent on his handling of the terror attack by Pakistan backed terrorists in the hindu temple of Akhardham than his handling of post Godhra riots , thus attempting to enhance his image as master in tackling terror .

Modi calls India as Hindustan throughout the film , thus making no bones as to his commitment to hindu nationalism . Photography of the film is good and so is background music . Indeed the movie is sweet music to his millions of admirers across the globe , and has been made to celebrate their admiration . If you are a bhakt ( devotee ) of Modi , watching the movie is a must . I am not one of these devotees , but I found the film entertaining enough to engage my full attention for 2 and a quarter hours .


Game Over

Tapsee Pannu plays a young woman named Swapna who is dealing with the effects of a bad incident in her past. She has repeated panic attacks due to memories of the incident . Taking care of her is her loyal companion Kalamma ( Vinodhini Vaidyanathan ) . Also Swapna is unknowingly in contact with the spirit of a young woman who died due to cancer , and that contact is due to a remarkable coincidence .

Swapna is shocked on learning of the coincidence that led her in contact with the spirit , and the mother of the young woman who died due to cancer has to be invited to calm her down. The mother tells Swapna of the brave fight her daughter gave to her disease . Around the same time young women are being stalked and killed by dreaded a serial killer . As the serial killer makes Swapna and Kalamma his next targets , it is the memory of the courage that the dead young woman showed in fighting cancer that gives courage to Swapna to fight the serial killer hell bent on taking her life .

The movie has several scenes where you don't know if it is dream or reality for Swapna , and the dreams give her insight into what is going to happen . A couple of scenes are really chilling , and keep you at the edge of your seat . Later the film becomes more thriller than horror as the killers close in on their quarry and there is some blood spilled . Background music and photography is decent enough , and the film's colours are okay .

Verdict---Good .

Kabir Singh

'Kabir Singh' has Shahid Kapoor in title role . He plays a house surgeon who has been a topper in medical college . But he suffers from a streak of uncontrollable temper . At the slightest provocation he goes on a spree of violence . And typical to his personality , he falls in love with a girl named Preeti Sikka ( Kiara Advani ) like a man possessed . Luckily for him , the girl reciprocates his feelings . One wonders what would happen if she did not . Would he take her by force ? Not beyond him to do such a thing .

But her family especially her father is not amused . Because the girl is of different religion . Even though Preeti admits to her parents as to have slept with Kabir several times ( also many kisses and smooches are showcased ) , she is prohibited by her father to marry Kabir . Kabir is physically assaulted by Preeti's father and thrown out of their house . Typical to his personality , Kabir goes on a spree of self destruction . Drinks and takes drugs thus ruining his career .

I had problems understanding some things in the movie . Kabir is shown to be the bully of the college , and while Shahid looks young and fit he hardly has a body menacing enough to intimidate others . Shahid has tried to compensate for this by acting with real passion and has succeeded in his quest to look aggressive . But why is his friend Shiva ( Soham Majumdar ) so fiercely loyal to someone who is almost psychotic , has a drug problem and an alcohol problem ? Such friends like Shiva are to be seen only in movies and don't exist in real life . Most importantly , why does Preeti fall in love with the violent college bully who smokes incessantly , urinates anywhere , beats up people , hurts even himself by using a knife on his private parts which ooze blood after he self inflicts a would on them ? We are forced to ignore such unbelievable behavior because it's just a movie what else .

The movie goes on too long for nearly three hours , and soon we are tired of Kabir's over drinking , over smoking , his overseeing a surgery even though he is drunk and has taken drugs and falls unconscious during the surgery , and his continual obsession with Preeti even though she is married to another man and is seemingly out of reach . When we have just given up on the movie , there is a twist of fortune . At the end of the dark tunnel , there is a glow of light . And that does bring back the spark in the movie .

Kiara Advani plays a meek submissive girl at the start who hardly opens up her mouth for some time in the movie , and then suddenly starts speaking and showing inexplicable passion for the crazy Kabir . Acting by others is good too . But acting wise the movie is dominated by Shahid . Colours photography etc are okay . Songs and background music is good . The movie can be enjoyed for the zany unreal madness displayed by Shahid Kapoor on screen .

Verdict--- Decent .

Article 15

June 2019

'Article 15' is an archetypal leftist movie decrying the dominance of upper castes on lower castes in Hinduism . The movie tries to project that upper caste dominance over lower castes is the biggest problem facing India , forgetting that the nation has other problems like Kashmir rebellion , infiltration from Bangladesh , threat from Pakistan and China etc . How many more movies are the leftists going to make on caste injustice rehashing the same topic repeatedly ? No point in discussing that , considering the leftist hold on media and film making .

So Ayushmann Khurrana plays a police commissioner named Ayan Ranjan appointed to Lalgaon in the state of Uttar Pradesh . Of course , the setting of Uttar Pradesh for the movie is deliberate because it is that state and the state of Bihar that caste conflict is most . Setting the movie in other parts of the country where caste conflict is less would go against the leftists' aim to paint India as a country ridden with caste war .

As Ayan approaches Lalgaon and wants to buy a mineral water bottle from a lower caste person , he is told by other policemen that they do not drink water sold by lower castes . Thus from the very start of the movie it's primary focus on establishing India as a country with tyranny of upper over lower castes is clear.

As Ayan reaches the town , he soon learns of disappearance of three lower caste girls . Later two of them are found gruesomely hanging dead from a tree . Ayan launches a search for finding the third . But the whole investigation is not digestible to other police officers who try to dissuade him from going deeper into the details of the case .The upper caste hierarchy of the town forces the police to arrest the fathers of the killed girls for honour killing them on suspicion of the girls being lesbian . Pressure comes from politicians who have Ayan suspended so he does not probe further into the case .

But Ayan is the hero of the film and he is shown to be so upright that he continues the investigation nevertheless . He is aided by the female doctor who performs the post mortem on the bodies of the girls who were hanged and whom Ayan encourages to tell the truth , that the post mortem reveals that the girls were gang raped before being killed .

The lower castes have their leader in hiding who is played by Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub , and he too is killed by the upper caste nexus of police and politicians . It is up to Ayan to deliver justice to the lower castes , and like a typical Bollywood hero he delivers it with aplomb .

The movie is replete with scenes where upper castes tyrannize lower castes , like the scene in which lower caste men are flogged for having entered a hindu temple . Upper castes refuse to do the demeaning work of lower castes , like cleaning drains etc . Ayan has to ask his staff as to what is the caste of each of them and is so disgusted by their casteist attitude that he hurls obscenities in English that they cannot understand and leads to some funny situations . He is asked by his superiors to give up thinking in English and think in the hindi language so that he can understand the culture of his country better . And the culture of his country is to uphold the centuries old control of the upper castes . When the culprit is finally caught he retraites the same thing and says he did the horrific crimes to teach the lower castes to stay in their lower station in life . All this is of course in contravention of article 15 of the Indian constitution that promises equality to all citizens in all spheres of life , hence the title of the movie .

Who is going to tell these leftists that the upper castes did not rule India for much of the past thousand years and that they were equally at the receiving end of injustice perpetrated by Turkish , Mughal and British conquerors ? And what about the system of reservations for lower castes in every field that has shunted the upper castes out of all opportunities to get education or a government job ? The upper castes do not vote for the leftists and hence they do not care !

Manoj Pahwa acts in his usual manner as the upper caste police officer who has taken part in a horrific crime and Kumud Mishra acts better as the lower caste police officer who has risen up in the ranks . Ayushmann acts okay in his role . He is shown having a leftist/liberal wife who stays away from him and talks only on phone with him , but is impressed and comes to stay with him in the end because of the justice he is delivering .

Photography of the film is okay . The background music creates a rolling sound whenever something dramatic is going to happen . Colours of the movie are darkish in hue in tune with the dark theme of the film .

Verdict---Okay .

Hame Tumse Pyaar Kitna

How much do I love you ( July 2019 )

Priya Banerjee plays Ananya Tripathi , who is a successful novelist writing novels about love and longing . Needless to say , she is goodlooking . Sameer Kochar plays Ranvir Dhillon , her fiance . Ananya also teaches in a college and here she has many male admirers among her students . Not surprising , considering the fact that she wears miniskirts and cleavage baring tops while teaching . Even I fell in love....he he .

But two admirers among her students are particularly pesky . One is the son of a local politician and openly asks sexual favours from her . The other is the anti hero of the film , Dhruv played by Karanvir Bohra . He is obsessively in love with Ananya and imagines that she loves him back . But all hell breaks loose when she rejects him ; he resorts to direct violence not only against her but also against her fiance and her other admirer and those who try to warn him off . Dhruv sets on a killing spree and murders those whom he thinks come in between him and Ananya . And the movie also loses control and veers off mark .

The first half is decent , with Anaya coming in Dhruv's dreams and looking attractive in his imaginary romantic settings . Colours of the movie are superb and photography is excellent , making the movie a visual treat especially because it is set in the scenic setting of the hill station of Manali in the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas . Songs and background music is good too and melodious . But the movie worsens as it progresses and by the time it climaxes it has gone bad . Acting is okay by everyone but nothing special.

Verdict---Not good .

Judgementall Hai Kya

( Are you judgemental ) July 2019

This film was actually to be titled 'Mental hai kya ' ( Are you mental ) , but the word mental was thought to be derogatory towards those with mental problems . So mental became judgemental .

Bobby ( Kangana Ranaut ) has had a traumatic childhood which left her with acute psychosis . Into this life comes Keshav ( Rajkumar Rao ) as her tenant and Bobby develops physical attraction for him . But with him also comes his hot wife Reema ( Amyra Dastur ) and Bobby is soon spying on the couple . She discovers that Keshav has habits which he has hidden from his wife , and soon an incident occurs which convinces her that Keshav is going to kill Reema . One day Reema really gets killed and Bobby rushes to the police convinced he killed his wife . But Keshav has another take on this . He says that Bobby was obsessed with him and killed Reema because voices in her head told her to kill Reema . That she herself does not know what she did due to her psychosis . However the police shut the case as accidental death .

Later Keshav comes into Bobby's life again and he has another wife---played by Amrita Puri . Again a cat and mouse game develops between Keshav and Bobby , with Bobby trying to convince the wife that Keshav is going to kill her also and Keshav countering that it is Bobby who is a threat to his wife's life . So who is the murderer ? Watch the movie for the answer .

Bobby's profession is that of a dubbing artiste , and she has the hobby of getting herself photographed by a professional photographer who takes photos of models . The first half of the movie has some quirky situations with Bobby having a boyfriend whom she uses for doing her daily chores but never gives him what every man needs---sex what else . But in the second half the identity of the murderer becomes clear before it is actually revealed . So the fun is somewhat spoiled . Kangana acts well and so does Rajkumar Rao . The movie is full of different colours and is decently photographed . Music and songs are not so great however .

Verdict---Okay .

Batla House

( August 2019 )

'Batla house' movie which is inspired by true events is a must watch , especially for John Abraham's speech at the end against those who act as spokespersons for a particular religion ; a speech that had the audience in the cinema hall that I was sitting in break into spontaneous applause . In this film John finally breaks his mold as only 'action Abraham' and delivers a terrific acting performance too .

In 2008 as bomb blasts rock Delhi city , police officer Sanjay Kumar ( John Abraham ) and his team get information about a module of terrorist group Indian mujahdeen hiding at Batla house in Jamia nagar in Delhi . Sanjay and his assistant KK ( Ravi Kishen ) and their team storm the hideout and kill the terrorists except one , but KK gets killed in the process . But co religionists of the terrorists and self proclaimed secular politicians raise hell that the encounter was fake and innocent students belonging to one particular community were killed .

At the same time Sanjay is facing multiple problems . His relationship with his wife ( played by Mrunal Thakur ) is breaking down and his wife's relation with her co workers and bosses is strained because she works as TV anchor at the very media house that wants to raise hell over the Batla encounter . He is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder due to the bullets he faced in the encounter and he repeatedly has visions of a terrorist gunning him down . Self proclaimed secularists and members of the terrorists' community raise protests against Sanjay and his team wherever they go .

But the movie shows how Sanjay with the help of his loyal and understanding wife fights against all the odds and proves himself and his team not guilty of fake encounters in court . The courtroom drama towards the climax shows engaging repartees between Sanjay and the opponents' lawyer as each tries to prove his case , and gives John a real chance to showcase his acting talent . But he still stays true to his 'action Abraham' image as his mind recreates in the courtroom the various actionpacked situations that arose in getting to the terrorists and actually shooting them down . And we get to watch a gripping thriller in motion . In my opinion the most gripping part is when Sanjay and his team go into minority populated Nizampur in the state of Uttar Pradesh to catch a terrorist and find themselves surrounded and their vehicle literally lifted above the ground by members of the terrorists' community openly protecting the terrorist . The sheer power of the numbers of the people protecting the terrorist puts fear in you .

The movie has all the elements of a good action emotion movie---hard hitting dialogues interspersed with the boom of guns and the whirlwind of hot chases between police and terrorists . And above all there is a dignified patriotism which is not loud or chest thumping but directly appeals to your heart . Background music is decent and so are the one or two songs . Photography is good and colours are okay too . Acting is good by all protagonists and goes a long way in making the movie a class in itself .

Verdict---Good .

Haqeeqat ( True story ) 1964

Directed by Chetan Anand who was the doyen of war movies in Bollywood , this black and white movie is set in the himalayan region of Ladakh during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962 . For a war movie made at a time when soldiers were exclusively men , the movie focuses inordinately on women . For the thoughts of the soldiers guarding the inhospitable wastes of the Himalayas invariably turned towards their women in these remote regions where there was nothing else to occupy the mind .

So one soldier is waiting for a letter from the woman whom he was to marry , but who rejected him when she realised that he would be off on duty for a long time after marriage with no chance to remain with her . Another soldier dreams of his wife in her bridal dress . Another is unmarried but remembers his sisters in law , who are waiting for their husbands who are also in the army . Another waits for gifts from his wife and gets a gift of soil from her to plant flowers in the region where no blade of grass grows---the description of the region they are guarding in PM Nehru's words .

But the hero of the film Captain Bahadur Singh ( Dharmendra ) has found love in Ladakh itself ; he is in a relationship with a ladakhi girl named Angmo ( Priya Rajvansh ) and gets permission from his mother to marry her . He is son of the commanding officer of the soldiers stationed there . His immediate superior Major Ranjit Singh is played by Balraj Sahni . Director Chetan Anand's brother Vijay Anand plays Major Pratap Singh .

But war clouds are on the horizon as chinese soldiers daily berate them from their side by loudspeakers that the territory they are standing on is chinese territory and since Indians and chinese are brothers , the Indians should vacate it !! The commanding Indian major has to convince his own soldiers that it is their own land that they are protecting . That because India has no tradition of invading other country's lands , it would scarcely guard a land where not a blade of grass grows if it was not it's own . Ladakhi civilians including Angmo however are co operative and willingly take training in firing rifles from Indian soldiers to protect their region from the chinese . Angmo's small brother dreams of joining the army when he grows up and Bahadur personally gives him training , using the opportunity to meet Angmo .

One day real war begins as chinese troops begin bombarding Indian positions . Intelligence is that the chinese vastly outnumber the Indians and the commanding brigadier ( Bahadur's father ) orders a retreat . But the soldiers flatly refuse . Retreat would be loss of honour for them and they would not be able to show their faces to the very women they dream of when they return home . So they stay put in their positions and fight .

Soon the chinese attack using human wave tactics , but the Indian soldiers vow to kill 20 for each Indian killed . They pour machine gun fire onto the onrushing chinese and make good their vow . However they run out of bullets and the chinese are endless . So they are forced to retreat . Major Ranjit Singh then hatches a plan . They vacate the post behind them also and allow the chinese to come to take it too . But what the chinese do not know is that the post is surrounded by Indians at vantage points and that they are walking in a trap . They are mown down .

Ranjit plans to now take back the lost Indian position but brigadier warns him on radio that intelligence reports say that a vast chinese force is now coming to take revenge . Orders a retreat . This even though it would mean abandoning his son Bahadur who is at another nearby post and cannot be contacted . So reluctantly Ranjit and his soldiers start to come back but in the himalayas distances are vast . The soldiers almost get lost in the icy wastes and only Ranjit's determination brings them to another army camp . Here he meets Angmo , and believing her lover Bahadur to be dead Ranjit asks to marry her . She refuses as she loves only one man---Bahadur.

Meanwhile the Brigadier contacts Ranjit with both good and bad news . Bahadur is alive at his post with only one soldier with him , and he is the only hope of trying to stop a huge chinese force coming to invade the camp where Ranjit and his soldiers are lying in half wounded condition . Angmo and her brother decide to go to fight alongside Bahadur but Angmo gets caught by chinese soldiers on the way . Her brother reaches Bahadur with the orders to fight the oncoming chinese . Bahadur and his aide get ready with their light machine guns to fight one last battle .

However Angmo who has been captured by the chinese is tortured and violated by them as she refuses to spy for them . She is then abandoned by them as they prepare to attack Bahadur's position . She treks upto that position and takes the gun of Bahadur's comrade who has been killed in the fighting to help Bahadur fight his final battle . They both die fighting but their gallant rearguard action has delayed the chinese sufficiently so that the Indian soldiers can be evacuated from their camp to safety .

The final scene and the song after it 'now the nation is in your ( soldiers' ) hands' brought me to tears and is certainly the high point of the film . Reportedly PM Nehru cried too when the song's singer Lata Mangeshkar sang it live in front of him . But there are other good scenes in the film like the Major saying to his soldiers who are lost in the snowy himalayas during their retreat and given up for dead by their superiors , that retreating alive after all their bullets are finished is not loss of honour but rather signals a will to live to fight the enemy another day .

Music is a strong point of the film and even better are dialogues which are full of the rationale for bravery and patriotism . Acting is good too , and some scenes are full of pathos like soldiers dying remembering their women and their widowed women collecting their now useless jewellery ( traditional hindu widows do not wear gold or jewels ) to donate for the war effort . However a scene of a soldier's skin coming out with his socks on removing them after days of continuous marching makes for some unseemingly if realistic viewing . Ladakh looks bleak in black and white and even bleaker with the bodies of dead Indian soldiers . The film is a brutal reminder that arms are the mainstay of peace and if a nation fails to plan for it's defense then it is planning to fail in protecting itself .

Verdict---Good .

Four stars out of five .

Section 375

A prominent film director named Rohan Khurana ( Rahul Bhat ) is accused of rape by an assistant of his film's costume maker . He pleads not guilty to the charges and hires an expensive lawyer named Tarun Saluja ( Akshaye Khanna ) to fight his case . The victim Anjali Dangle's ( Meera Chopra ) case is being handled by lawyer Hiral Gandhi ( Richa Chadda ) .

Tarun changes the testimony of his defendant to admitting that he had consensual sex with Anjali , that he was using his power and position in the film industry to get Anjali assignments for costume designing in return for sexual favours . But Anjali wanted a real relationship with him and when he refused she took revenge by charging him with rape . This destroys Rohan's relationship with his wife but gives him a chance to prove himself innocent .

Tarun then asks Anjali to come to the witness box and totally tears apart her rape accusations by showing how she made injuries on herself . So much so that her lawyer Hiral Gandhi herself is convinced that Rohan is innocent . But the judgement according to section 375 of the Indian penal code by the judges is that Rohan is guilty . So what was the point of the movie ? To prove how section 375 can be misused by jilted women to falsely implicate men in rape charges ?

The best part of the film is the arguments and counter arguments brilliantly presented by both sides in court , the best part being Tarun proving with statistics that India is not the rape capital of the world . The medical examination of the victim and the procedure of how police handle rape cases is also illuminated upon . In the end you do feel for the accused but that's how the legal system works .

Acting is good by everyone and colours photography background music is all okay .Some of the arguments in court are partly in English while some dialogues in the film are in the Marathi language as the victim and the police and one of the judges are shown to have Marathi as their mother tongue . It can be watched by the thinking audience , but one senses a lack of clear direction as to what was the point of the movie in the end .

Verdict---Decent .