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Ki & Ka Movie Review: Balki’s Engaging Marital Drama

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Starring: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Arjun Kapoor,Swaroop Sampat, Rajit Kapoor

Directed by: R Balki

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Movie ReviewThe Kapoors’ Combined Chemistry Confers A Captivating Hue To Balki’s Engaging Marital Drama

The streeling is pulling Arjun Kapoor into the kitchen.And Kareena Kapoor doesn’t mind as long he is fully functional in the bedroom

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That, dear audience, in a nutshell is Ki & Ka. A film about role reversal between the sexes where the ambitious wife Kiya(Kareena) goes out to earn the bread and butter, while the husband Kabir(Arjun) is blissfully happy looking after the home.

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A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

Immediately ,there is an infectious charm to the proceedings. Every scene is a joy to behold. It could have something to do with Kareena Kapoor’s presence. She lights up  every frame as only she can. And then when you have the cinematographic genius P CSreeram manning the lenses even Arjun Kapoor looks so radiant, you want to ask this couple….where do they generate so much sunshine in their souls?

Most films about married couples in Bollywood are paeans of pain. Well, surprise surprise!  A marriage need  not be a melody of misery, provided the couple does what it wants to without  caring about how they would look to the world.

A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

So when Kabir meets Kia on a flight , they hit it off instantly.The words that flow between the  cool Kabir and the hot Kiya are so conversational I wondered if Arjun and Kareenathought of the dialogues as they played out their characters’ combined karma. Thedialogues are never florid or bombastic. Every character , even in those very engaging boardroom meeting in Kareena/Kiya’s workplace, are so lived-in , they are worthy of being illustrative of how couples should converse in our films from now till the time when rom-coms are made in Bollywood .

The incidental character even a random staggler like the guy who shushes the couples in the hospital is memorable.And I fell in love with Kiya’s maid who saunters in at noon,puts on her employer’s tv, plonks herself on the sofa and phones her boyfriend to come over for some fun.

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A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

Seriously, I want to see an entire film on her life.

For now,there is Balki and his take on how to playfully dodge  gender stereotyping in a country where even words have a gender. Given the unbelievable patriarchal prejudices it takes guts for a man like Kabir to tell his father to shove his wealth up his you-know-what,as he, Kabir wants to be an housekeeper like his mother. It takes even more guts for an actor to play a man who is happy cooking, cleaning and living off his wife’s income.

Arjun Kapoor makes the character’s unconventional ,some would say downright embarrassing aspirations seem so normal, you wonder why more husbands don’t adopt the you-go-I-stay route.This is by far Arjun’s most  accomplished performance. The joy he exudes in house-keeping chores is almost contagious. The hurt he conveys is palpable  when his wife begins to resent  his growing popularity (Abhimaan in reverse) as  the face of the metrosexual kindered man very happily, very heterosexually in touch with the feminine side of his personality.

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A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

Perhaps it is the company that Arjun keeps. Kareena Kapoor Khan’s dazzling beauty (I am afraid there is no other way to describe it) plus her ability to communicate her character’s frantic ambitions without making her seem like a man in skirts, makes Balki’s job a lot easier. How wrong can you go when you have so much beauty grace and talent at your disposal?

Not that Balki is in the mood to get lazy with his charming couple’s ability to make the frames look fabulous even when they are dressed in their night clothes or perched on the potty. To make a film where the couple is submerged under  no marital stress(Kareena’s easygoing mother , played by the long-missing Swaroop Sampat  is the antithesis of JayaBhaduri’s meddlesome mom, Achala Sachdev in Kora Kagaz who wrecks havoc on her daughter’s marriage) is  not as easy as it sounds.

A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

This genial film about two young free-spirited  people who assume non-traditional roles and then live happily ever after(almost) is powered by terrific directorial treatment.Freed of flamboyant and florid flourishes the free-flowing narrative sweeps you into  its arms with its understated charm.

Much of non-dramatic scenes are played pitch-perfectly because of the writing and the two actors. Before too long you begin to care for  Kabir and Kiya the way you would for a couple in the neighbourhood that doesn’t quite fit in.

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The lengthy sequence where she is traumatized by a suspected pregnancy winds its way through a series of finely cut shots(Chandan Arora’s editing keeps the proceeding snappy but  gives the couple space to express their feelings comfortably) adding up to a sequence that’s savagely real and funny and somehow,slightly sad too.

A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

These are scenes from a marriage that will outlast temporary setbacks.

The crisis point in Kiya and Kabir’s  winsome togetherness is reached in a tongue-in-cheek homage to Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan. Kiya’s outburst accusing Arjun of  being a scheming manipulator makes her look awfully unfair and rather paranoid. Wives, we know,are capable of such temporary lapses of reason.

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The crisis, you feel, is brought on because every film needs one. Ironically the climactic crisis in the couple’s marriage is precipitated by Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan who make a very agreeable joint appearance.The best dialogue of the film is given to Mrs Bachchanwho tells her superstar husband, “If I had continued my career and if you had agreed to look after our home I would have been the one waving to fans outside.”

A still from 'Ki & Ka'

A still from ‘Ki & Ka’

Touche.

The  film begins with Arjun Kapoor sobbing on a flight and ends with Kareena Kapoorsobbing on another flight.

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They are welcome to their drama.We came away smiling from this affable drama that proves a happy marriage is not a myth.

Not yet.

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Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat Is  Anurag Kashyap’s  Mellowest Most Meditative Movie In  Many Years

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Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat

Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat

Written & Directed  by Anurag Kashyap

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Rating: *** ½

That annoying cackle! In one of the two  love stories that are fused together  in Anurag Kashyap’s fascinating new work of  heart, Yakub, the  intellectually  dim  loverboy has  a laugh like  a hyena on heat which is hard to beat  and anything but a treat.

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Silly impetuous Yaqub(Karan Mehta) stalks silly adventurous underage Amrita(Alaya F).  Somewhere  in London another a struggling musician Hameet(Karan Mehta, again)  is stalked by Ayesha(Alaya F), again underage  , the rich  spoilt pampered  lonely daughter of a Pakistani millionaire  who, according to Ayesha, bangs  everything that moves.

In one of the film’s most beautifully conceived  sequences  Ayesha tells the  introverted Harmeet why she cannot help being his  little lamb, why she goes all mushy when she looks at him.

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It’s  a memorable monologue  brilliantly performed by Alaya . She is most certainly a  better actor than her grandfather Kabir Bedi  and her mother Pooja Bedi.Karan Mehta is a notable find.He will find his way eventually.

The  narrative scampers  from Dalhousie to  London and back again without skipping a beat.  There is  a virile fluency about the narrative quite difficult to pinpoint and define. But it’s there underlining  almost every  scene.

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What doesn’t work at all is  Vicky Kaushal’s  DJ act. Mouthing gyan and Gulzar  as  if he owns them, Kaushal is  as annoying as  Yaqub’s laughter. The  film needed  a far more sturdy and centralized  narrator. Not this  idiot in a  headband trying to  be cool but  remaining just a fool who has probably never been to school.

That  apart, Kashyap packs in quite  a punch  in both the love stories. He lets the  couple make massive blunders in their relationships and  doesn’t judge them. The mistakes  in fact  add a luster of  unvarnished  credibility to the going-on. Oftentimes, especially in the  Indian segment,  the lovers are shown to be muddled headed and  reckless. But that, says Kashyap, is  what makes them  so  much in  love.

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Almost Pyaar With  DJ Mohabbat is  a charming mix of fluid fantasy and  raw realism.Sometimes  it is  hard  to tell the  fantasy  from the  reality. The coincidences especially the one that ties the  two couples, are  a bit too much Gulshan Nanda in Shakespeare. But that’s what  makes  love what it is. A puzzle which only Gulzar’s lines can define: Sirf  ehsaas hai yeh  rooh se mehsoos karo pyar ko pyar hi rehne do koi naam na  do. Touche.

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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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