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Gulabo Sitabo Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Saving Grace In Killjoy Comedy   4 Gulabo Sitabo Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Saving Grace In Killjoy Comedy   5

Bollywood Movie Reviews

Gulabo Sitabo Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Saving Grace In Killjoy Comedy  

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Gulabo Sitabo(Amazon)

Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Farrukh Jafar, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vijay Raaz

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Directed  by Shoojit Sircar

Rating: **(2 stars)

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 How do I put this  politely? Gulabo Sitabo is  as funny as  molar surgery, or maybe  even less  because when  you are watching  a man  helpless  under the dentist’s drill his helpless anxiety renders itself to a kind of  sadistic hilarity  in the audience.

But what if that man under the drill is you,dear audience? That’s how  I felt watching Gulabo Sitabo. Trapped. Miserable. Helpless…. Shoojit  Sircar who  has made some of the  better  films of recent years,  seems  to have  devised a new  method of making  our  quarantined  life more  miserable.Pinning us down to his satirical   exigencies  Sircar gives us  a film about proprietorial greed  that  misses  its mark by  a wide margin.

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To put it  bluntly, Gulabo Sitabo is   just not  funny. I assume this killjoy comedy is   supposed to be   funny. Because  everyone talks in that casual  know-all eye-rolling  fashion which  cartoonstrips are  famous  for. Except that  the joke here is  on us.

Coming out  of  the unnerving  experience  I felt like that cuckolded spouse  who thought himself  to be in a  perfect  marriage until he caught his  spouse red-handed.

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Cheated and betrayed?  Yes, all of that. But also a bit  sullied  and compromised  by  wallowing in   the squalor  of  the  protagonist and his  crumbling  haveli. Both have seen better days. Mr Bachchan has  been put  into  a lot of  sticky situations in his times  ,but none  as  abysmally non-redemptive as  this  character.

 Bachchan’s  Mirza  is  monstrously  miserly.It’s not about counting  your  pennies. It’s also  about looking like you save  on  soap  money.  When  Mirza  suspects his wife  will  soon die  he bargains with the shopkeeper  for her  kafan. Not just miserly, but also quite dirty in  appearance and dialogue,the  doddering despicable  Mirza and  his   crumbling  haveli are captured by  Avik Mukhopadhyay’s mesmeric camera images in a swoop  of  squalour suggesting poverty-porn.

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  In one sequence where Ayushmann Khurrana playing Mr Bachchan’s lisping  dimwitted  tenant Baanke suggests that Mirza adopt him to save  the  haveli,  Ayushamann angrily snatches a bedsheet from Mirza claiming  it to be his.

“Yeah yeah take it I’ve  farted on it the whole day,” mumbles  Mirza.

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Rather than  amused, this  concession to crassness made me  very  angry.Surely, there were   more tactful ways of showing  the character’s crassness specially when played by an actor as  classy as Mr Bachchan? Still  Mr Bachchan wades through the  slushy satire in slouched splendour.  Mumbling profanities and screaming  insults,  Mirza has got to be the most unpleasant  character  ever played by  Mr Bachchan. Shooing girls out of a rickshaw because they haven’t his rent, waiting for his wife to die  so that he can legally inherit her  mansion…Mr Bachchan  plunges  into  making this vile character  enjoyable, but is repeatedly  failed  by a script and  direction that seem to construct a  compressed television serial rather than a crisp enjoyable  feature film on the miser and his comeuppance.

Ayushmann is given to  mouth his  dialogues  with  a lisp that comes and  goes, just like  the  fugitive  humour of this shambolic  satire. Nonetheless Ayushman,  like his character who won’t vacate his rented abode, remains stubbornly  in character, sullen,silly and  sad,

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There  is not one likeable character  in the film barring perhaps Bachchan’s wily Beghum played  by  Farrukh Jafar. 17 years his senior, we are told repeatedly probably because  the actress  chosen to be  Mr Bachchan’s wife looked older than him. The Beghum apart,  there  are no  important women characters except  a feisty promiscuous  girl named Guddo(Shristhi Shrivastava) a  self-serving   tenant  who  is  sexually so promiscuous  she  seems to be begging to be called a  slut.In one  sequence she  is seen coming out of hiding with a  man  fixing the belt  of his trousers.We  got that, Mr Sircar.

Another  woman whom Khurrana’s Baankey dates, dumps him and shows  up with her moneyed  husband at the  end at his aate ki chakki asking for organic flour. Bitch. I am talking  about life. What else!

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The  humour is  way too  savage to be  funny .Everything from an old dying woman’s thumb impression to a  character’s pyorrhea is milked for  mirth. But  sorry, Gulabo Sitabo is just not funny  and a huge disappointment from the director  of  Vicky Donor , Piku and October. At one point in the  battle that ensues between  an archaeological department employee(Vijay Raaz) and  a cunning lawyer(Brajendra Kala) Mr Bachchan’s Mirza comments that  greed can’t kill a humanbeing. But be warned. Boredom can.

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Pathaan Is A Slick Spin On SRK’s Stardom

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Pathaan

Pathaan Movie Review: There is  no reason why any review of  Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan(directed  by Siddharth  Anand  but it’s  an SRK showcase all the way) needs  to be written.  The two-and-a-half hour eruption of stylish action will be  seen at  least once by every movie patron in India, and then of course out West where Sharon Stone, I believe,  has already bought bulk tickets for the entire  weekend for her  friends, family, fans and househelp .

Movie: Pathaan

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Cast
Shah Rukh Khan as Pathaan, a RAW agent
John Abraham as Jim, a rogue agent turned leader of ‘Outfit X’
Deepika Padukone as Rubina Mohsin, a ISI agent
Ashutosh Rana as Colonel Sunil Luthra
Manish Wadhwa as General Qadir
Dimple Kapadia
Siddhant Ghegadmal
Gautam Rode
Gavie Chahal
Shaji Choudhary
Diganta Hazarika as an ally of Pathaan
Salman Khan as Tiger/Avinash Sing Rathore (cameo appearance)

Directed  by  Siddharth Anand

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Rating: *** ½

Pathaan is  a very slick action film. The stunts  leave us  open mouthed , like Sharon Stone  when  she saw SRK pass by.

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We get to see Shah Rukh Khan more than  just pass by in the title role. He is  all there muscled and armed ready to take on  the world to protect his  country. There is a lot of stress in the rippling writing  on how patriotic  ‘Pathaan’ is. And  if we  consider the fact that the audiences do not  separate  the  character  from the actor when it  comes to Salman or Shah Rukh, then the dialogues on nationalism(by Abbas Tyrewala) make a lot  of sense.

The political undertones(Article 370 is the triggering  point for the  bullet bath) are not to be missed. The  director won’t let you.

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Speaking of Salman and Shah Rukh their  Karan-Arjun kinship in their sequence together is winsomely rugged.  Most of  the  film is designed to give Indian fans  of  Shah  Rukh Khan and action cinema  a run for their money.

Director Siddharth Anand  has a fairly firm grip over  a plot that  goes all over the place. Not that there is much of it  to go anywhere. The  screenplay is slinky skeletal and  not epic in intent content or  impact. But there is always a sense  of urgency built into the  goings-on. So that we never get a chance to get distracted.

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On the  other hand, the  unfolding of the  surprises  in the plot is a bit like doing a Santa on a  child who already knows about the Christmas gifts hidden  under the bed.

Visually, Pathaan is  a feast  of fury. The  fights especially between  Shah Rukh and John Abraham(the latter as a seething terrorist grits his teeth so hard we fear for his teeth) are virile  and  boisterous. The sound decibel  drowns out all subtlety.

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But then who is in this for tact? Be prepared for your senses  to be attacked.

 

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Pathaan Premise
Pathaan, an exiled RAW field operative is assigned to take down his old nemisis named Jim, a former RAW agent turned rogue, who leads “Outfit X”, a private terrorist organization, which is planning to spread a deadly virus dubbed “Raktbeej” across India.

 

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An Action Hero, Fastpaced  Funny &  Spot-On

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An Action Hero

An Action Hero

Starring  Ayushmann Khurrana, Jaideep Ahlawat

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Written &  Directed  by  Anirudh Iyer

Rating: *** ½

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There is something delectably different  about this  mass entertainer. It is  neatly  plotted and to-the-point. It avoids  the  bullshit element  in mass entertainment. The  eponymous  Action Hero  Ayushmann  Khurrana has no  family or girlfriend  waiting for him after the  shooting.

 Where  does Maadhav  come  from? Why does he have  a British passport(why not a  Canadian passport?)  if not to escape  swiftly after he  accidently kills  a Haryanvi  goon? The slayed goon(menacingly  played by  Sumit  Singh)is well connected.It can’t get any  better than Jaideep Ahlaway, can it?

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In London, Ahlawat’s Bhoora  Solanki  is   shown to be  ruthless  in his  pursuit  of justice for his  brother.And yet he lets Maanav slip out of his hands, not once but repeatedly.
A secret fan, perhaps? The  breathless plot  allows  no room for  back-story speculation. It is  all done in the spirit  of a super-heist, without the ransom. The film is enjoyable most of the way  except  for some major diversions. The  subplot  about a restaurateur Sai(Neeraj Madhav) doesn’t fit in.It’s the kind of character  that pops  up in a  long-running  television serial. Also the  entire track about the  dreaded  international don(modelled on you-know-who) is  so out of its depth it feels more  like an afterthought than an organic  part of the plot.

That said, there is plenty to enjoy in An Action Hero. Both Khurrana  and Ahlawat are in revved-up form. They  play against each most effectively, almost like  a on-the-run Tom and a persistent  Jerry . The  plot should have focused on them.

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The comments on media trial and the demonization  of  Bollywood are hilarious.This is  a  clever intelligent  film that  sometimes trips over in self-admiration but manages to stay  afloat most  of   the way.

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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Uunchai, Not  Quite The Dizzying Heights, But Special

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Uunchai

Uunchai

Starring  Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Danny Denzongpa, Parineeti Chopra, Neena Gupta and Sarika

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Directed  by Sooraj Barjatya

Rating: ***

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The aging  protagonists  aspire to travel only to the  foothills  of  the Himalayas.The  film too doesn’t aim  for the summit, but is  happy to be grounded  cosily somewhere  at  the foothills  as  long as  the footfalls  are there.

Uunchai certainly deserves an audience. For all its flaws  of wheezing  pacing and panting drama  it is  nonetheless a  film that comes  from  the heart,although I must admit it  doesn’t really stir up a storm  of  emotions  in the audience. But yes,it is  touching  if  you are  a  sucker for  cinema   on lifelong  friendships and unconditional  loyalty.

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Mr Bachchan logistically takes pride of place, as  Amit Shrivastava(the surname is the Bachchans’ actual passport identification). Amit is  a successful author who sells fake gyan  to  the multitudes.

Sudhro,” warns idealistic friend  Bhupen(Danny Denzongpa) and then promptly dies.

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Bhupen three best friends, played  by Bachchan, Kher and Irani now decide to take a trek to the  base  of the Himalayas. Writer  Abhishek Dixit(based on  story by  Sunil  Gandhi) has his  art  in  the  right place. But he  chokes it up with too many  back stories  for every character so  that the  film at  170 minutes feels like  marathon  run for  the  elderly  which becomes  an ordeal for the  spectators once the participants  lose their energy.

One  subplot in Gorakhpur about Anupam’s ungrateful ancestors(featuring Kher’s brother)  cribbing endlessly about haveli repairs  and rising  costs   should  have been taken  out on the editing table.  And pray tell,   which daughter tells her  visiting parents and  their close friends to f…k  off since her birthday guests would feel uncomfortable?  These are characters that needed  not only polishing up but also  a  vigorous  shake  by the shoulders .   They  are so  unidimensional  they belong in an animation film.

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Another weird plot twist:  why should Bhupen’s friends be upset with the  love  of his life(Sarika) for  abandoning him?  This is  quite what Neena Gupta  rightly describes  as overstepping the line of friendship.

Neena Gupta’s  marital  bonding with  Boman Irani comes  across as  very real and endearing. This, I suspect  is more to do with the  two actors’ skills than  anything else. By the time the  plot reaches  the  Himalayas we  are as exhausted as  the protagonists.

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These are  identifiable people  who  deserved a more compact and  incisive  plot, not this meandering road trip which seems to been constructed like  building  blocks in a child’s hands .

Nonetheless Uunchai  has a sufficient  heart  to make it a special film.But it could have been much more special with more skilled writing.

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Monica O My Darling , The Twisted  Tormented  World  Of Vasan Bala

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Monica O My Darling

Monica, O My Darling(Netflix)

Directed  by  Vasan Bala

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 Rating: ****

Somewhere in the acquisitive  amoral  chaos of Vasan Bala’s twisted  kingdom, Rajkummar Rao and Huma Qureshi, playing two of the most  shamelessly self-serving jerks in  recent  cinematic history, are  down on the floor, wrestling  with an Usha Uthup pretender singing ‘Loving You So Much  I Want To Kill  You.’

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Yes, physically  wrestling, until one  of   them is  almost dead.

It is  a deliciously demonic  moment defining the gender-proof  nature of human greed. When you are so money-minded that your conscience  has  gone  for  a call of nature, then be prepared to battle it out man-to-man  , even if you are a  woman.

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Alas, such  delightfully  epiphanic moments are  hard to  come by in Vasant Bala’s first directorial  deep-dive since Mard Ko Dard Nahin  into the bowels  of eccentricity. Playing a  dude who doesn’t feel  any physical  pain no matter how  hard to blow Abhimanyu Dassani was at once wicked and  amiable in Mard Ko Dard….

Rajkummar Rao as Jayant  a small-town boy from Angola  working in a giant  robot-manufacturing  organization in Mumbai is much more wimpy,  partially demonic, partially  a victim of  fate…if Fate looks anything like  Huma Qureshi  who plays Monica  a crooked  femme fatale  a  squealer-dealer  in  pursuit of  big bucks via big  …never mind.

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Qureshi’s Monica  is  a delectably  subverted  femme fatale.An imposter Marilyn Monroe who lets  the skirt fly only when she  is  sure there are men looking.Somehow  I felt Ms Qureshi fell short  of  the character’s  brazen  avarice.Her cabaret  at the beginning  of the film again proves  after that limp item song in Gangubai  Kathiawadi that she better leave  the dancing to those  better  equipped.

 Her performance as a  woman who  empowers herself by   conning men is  tonally correct, but  unable to  scale the  summits of seductive salvation  it was written to. Radhika Apte as  a gritty sarcastic cop nails it. It’s  interesting to see  how the women in poor Jayant’s life bully him: Qureshi  at  first, then Apte and then  of course the bimbo esque  boss’ daughter played  with an arresting airheadedness  by Akansha  Ranjan Kapoor.

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Monica O My Darling has a sharp tangy taste to its  storytelling . But it  eventually gets tangled  in its own ambitions. It wants to be  dark sexy  voluptuous enigmatic  satire, but  lacks the wherewithal  to  leap over the  plotting hurdles that impede  the protagonist Jayant’s  progression from a harmless smalltown dreamer to a scheming rat.

Rao is  dependably  strong in his weak character. There are other extremely  powerful actors like  the underused Sikandar Kher, Sukant Goel and  Bagavathi Perumal . Two of these men are being  blackmailed by Monica. She is  clearly a threat , to herself. Ditto the  film. Monica O  My Darling wants  to give the conscience-free  female lead a  sense  of Huma.

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But she is  clearly not up to it.

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