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Subhash K Jha Speaks  To Reena Roy Who Turns  A Year Older On January 7

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You were massive star  in the 1970s.Somehow you didn’t get the  recognition that  you deserved?

You think so? I was just working working like  crazy. I never stopped  to think  about what I  deserve etc etc. Jo mila  main usse khush thi(I was  happy with what I got). Now I am fully into looking after  my home and my daughter. I am not a  multi-tasker.I did more than a hundred films in the  70s and  80s.Now  I am  into my household.

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Which are your favourite films  from your own repertoire?

I like  J Om Prakashji’s Asha  and  Rajkumar Kohli’s Nagin the most. Nagin gave me a chance to play the avenging hero. I killed so  many heroes in that film.As  for  Sheesha  it  is my  most recognized  film.

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The  songs that Lataji sang for you, like ab ke sawan  mein jee jare Ja re ja o harjaee, Sheesha  ho ya  dil ho,  Pardes jaake pardesia  played  a huge part  in shaping your career.

Oh huge  huge! When Lataji sang for me I  had to do  nothing but follow her voice. Even today  I am known  by her song Sheesha ho ya dil ho  aakhir toot jata hai. It became the signature tune of my career.

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What about your life, does the song also reflect the truth about your life?

My tears have all dried up. Now I laugh at  every adversity.

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Let’s talk about your sudden  retirement.Did you quite because of  marriage and  motherhood?

My daughter, of course mattered more than my career. Also, I had started very young and I was exhausted and satiated. I decided to take  a break to look after my daughter.

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Is your daughter with you?(Her father is  the Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan)

Yes yes, shukar  Mata Rani  ki.My daughter is now 26.She is  talented. And yes she is interested  in acting. But she won’t wear  a bikini and  do kissing scenes. I never did. And she feels no need  to.She is not conservative. She is very much  a girl of today.But she  doesn’t believe doing certain things will make a  difference to her career.

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She is right. So your daughter got  a mother we lost a lovely actress?

It  is  all destiny  and I very happy with my  decision to  take  a break.

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Do you watch your films?

I do, and  I  keep remembering what  happened  behind the scene during this scene and that, and I keep laughing.  But it’s not as if I am obsessed  with seeing myself on screen. Do I like myself on screen? I was very innocent very mischievous. Now I am a  mother. So things are different.My films seem like  a different era . But yes, I am still little  naughty.

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Life’s experiences  haven’t changed you?

Badalke karenge kya? Aatma toh wohi rehti hai. Times change,people don’t . I guess I was  chosen to be a name in my field, just like you are.I worked very hard to get where I did. Horse riding at 5 am then  rushing to dancing classes with Gopi Krishnaji. But I never went to a gym. I’ve never seen  one.

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Your philosophy of life?

Never  look back. Keep moving.  Fulfil your responsibilities.  I am very attached to my family.My sister Barkha used to look after all my work and she was my  constant  companion on the sets, bodyguard type.

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Any more ambitions?

I want to see  my daughter settled in life. No other ambitions I want my selected friends  to remain healthy.

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Who are  your friends?

Very few. Like Mumtazji. She is  so lovely.I  have done only one  film with  her Nagin. And yet we are close.

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Any chance of a comeback?

After marriage  I did J P Dutta’s  Refugee ,and  J Om Prakash’s Aadmi Khilona Hai which didn’t run. The subject was powerful but the execution got diluted. I would like to do something powerful . Aise hi thali pakad  ke nahin khadi honi chahiye(I don’t want to stand around holding a plate).

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You are not seen  in public?

don’t socialize. I  never did. Even  when I was working I never went to parties.My mother  always said, ‘Bandd mutthi toh lakh hi khul gayi toh phir khaak ki.’ The public is interested in you only if you remain out of the public eye. Would  you believe, I never did   any ads in my heydays.

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Are you happy with your life and career?

Very happy. I am thankful to  the one above  for what he has given me. I can’t understand how I got the  fame  and popularity that I did. When someone like you says such  nice things only then I stop  to think that  perhaps I have achieved something.

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Did you  have crazy fans?

Haan  bilkul.There were letters written in  blood. And fans threatening to  commit suicide in front of my home if I didn’t meet them.

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What  did you do with such  insistent fans?

My  family and team would take  care of them. I was scared to face fanatical fans.Suppose  they pounced on me? There were out of towners from distant places  like Punjab. They would be fed, given money to return home.

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Abhishek Bachchan’s Must-Watch Films

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Abhishek Bachchan

Happy Birthday …Abhishek  Bachchan’s  Must-Watch Films

  1. Naach(2004):  Naach in fact carries the Abhimaan theme forward. On a simplistic level we can take heart in Abhishek doing an overdriven version of his dad’s compromised and jealous musician’s part in Abhimaan.But the dynamics are far more intricate in Naach. The protagonists are no longer driven apart by their ego. They are victims of a well-oiled machine of power and passion that inflicts a certain self-annihilating rejection of a standard code of morality on their lives.When we first see Rewa she’s sitting at the roadside impervious of passing traffic. As the music in her head plays a pounding invitation (remember Urmila Matondkar’s opening song in “Rangeela”?) she jumps to her feet and performs an enigmatic seductive and yet personal dance that has no definition.Antara Mali’s Rewa dances to an indeterminate rhythm that goes well with the film’s restless unanchored hitherto-unexplored man-woman axis. The camerawork by newcomer Kiran Reddy is so anguished and passionate you begin to see the characters as dancers caught in a dance of self-destruction.Varma catches them to stop them from falling to the ground. Abhi’s love for Rewa is redeemed, though personally I’m not convinced by the happy ending to their turbulent and short-fused relationship.If she refuses to be compromised by the murkiness of showbiz, he sees assimilation and surrender as the means to further his career as an actor. If initially she’s a choreographer who has never choreographed a dance, he grins and says,  “I’m an actor who hasn’t acted”.As you share their mutual sneers, you get ensnared into their world of heavy-traffic ambitions. The sounds and fumes of Mumbai’s roads qualify the Rewa-Abhi relationship as much as Reddy’s poetic cinematography which captures Abhishek and Antara in the most aesthetic kiss I’ve ever seen on an Indian film.The relationship grows with an animal passion and then gets stymied as Abhi’s ambitions carry him away from Rewa.It’s the first half where their relationship grows that holds you. Small details from the couple’s lives and their intense focus on dance crowd the canvas without toppling over the narrative.The second half about the couple’s ‘groaning’ disenchantment is laden with angry dance numbers where Abhishek’s grimace and growl are offset by Riteish Deshmukh’s gentle attentions towards Antara. In the film’s less weighty moments there’s a touch of Varma’s Rangeela.Naach is perhaps what Rangeela couldn’t be. An anxious and passionate look at the compromises that showbiz demands from the wannabes.There are only two principal characters and some well-etched passers by providing a beguiling backdrop to the tale. Both Abhishek and Antara perform their parts with a conviction that comes straight from the most unexplored areas of their talent.Naach escapes the blind alleys that Hindi cinema chooses to wander in.Naach is Varma’s most personalized and sensitive film ever. In it he creates an untried synthesis of realism within the morally suffocating world of showbiz and a freewheeling fantasy where both the struggling protagonists find success on their own terms.
  2. Yuva(2004): Abhishek Bachchan blossomed into a formidably engaging actor .Yuva is that rarity which can be watched both as an entertainer and a vehicle for projecting socio-political ideas.The easiest thing in the world is to sneer at someone who attempts to be unconventional through conventional routes. In that sense, Mani Ratnam and Michael Mukherjee, his protagonist in his latest film, share the same predicament.A riveting blend of social message and entertainment is what sets Yuva apart. Like Ratnam’s first Hindi film Dil Se, Yuva is an extremely restless film about young characters who are on the lookout for a relevance to their existence.While Michael wants to use student power to change the festering fortunes of Indian politics, the loutish Lallan (Abhishek Bachchan) just wants a decent life for his wife Shashi (Rani Mukherjee) and himself, and never mind if it’s through indecent means. You can almost read between the lines that Ratnam crosses from one protagonist’s life into another. The effect is of sea waves lapping against the shore and receding to leave behind tempting tides of significance.The three-tiered plot creates a sense of lyricism in the plot. Every character fits in the Kolkata milieu without stretching in the larger picture. Yet the existence of the binding cosmic force that keeps watch on Ratnam’s world and the world beyond his creation, looms large over the narrative.The gangster Lallan and his volatile blow-hot, blow-cold relationship with his wife Shashi echoes Manoj Bajpai and Shefali Chhaya’s rapport in Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya.But beyond that echo of familiarity is an aching originality in every frame, nurturing the characters through a remarkable process of self-discovery.Unlike Dil Se, whose narrative couldn’t really hold the audiences, Yuva keeps us glued to the goings-on till the very end, not because it tells a remarkably original story but because the characters come alive here as complete people, full of little gestures and understated personality traits that we may miss at first.Yuva is like a visit to a strange and warm tropical island. At first the sights and sounds may appear too familiar for excitement. But every shrub and every rock hides a new experience.It’s that subterranean experience that Yuva brings to the surface.Ratnam goes from one level of characterisation to another, weaving in and out of three lives without creating an autonomous self-contained world for each protagonist. The men who tower over the plot are also the tools in the hands of destiny.
  3. Sarkar(2004):  What makes this film the most special achievement of Varma’s career? It’s the father-son combination of Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan, furnishing Varma’s ebony vision of the world gone awry with a kind of blazing and bridled intensity that one last saw when Dilip Kumar and Amitabh played father and son in Ramesh Sippy’s Shakti.Sarkar is a far more complex jigsaw of patriarchal intensity, filial crises and familial obligations. Its ethical complexities go far beyond politics and cinema to embrace a kind of multi-dimensional secularism where religion is not about gods but definitions of goodness.Who’s the real villain? The people who rape society, or the ones who check crime and corruption by means that are extra-constitutional? The socio-political issue becomes more tangled in the light of the septic corruption that has crept into the governmental structure.Into this world comes Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief. Thackeray’s name is changed to Subhash Nagare in the film. But the power and the socio-political positioning of the man remains unaltered in the movie version of his life.No other actor in the universe could’ve played Thackeray’s screen version, or done the astonishing things that Bachchan has done to the character. Bachchan plays Nagare, the frail and yet all-powerful man.Marlon Brando’s The Godfather act provides a prototypical starting point for Subhash Nagare, one of the most entrancing heroes ever in Indian cinema.Varma brings out the protagonist’s power and glory through a demeanour that never screams for attention. Little gestures and nuances, agreeable and yet sinister, swathe the screen in a splendid arc of life and vitality.Abhishek as Shankar, the quietly faithful, duty-bound younger son destined to take up the strange family business — a role that has its roots in Al Pacino’s character in The Godfather — is in-sync with his character and the senior Bachchan’s prismatic persona.Abhishek’s delicately balanced facial expressions, his projection of the character’s fierce unquestioning loyalty towards his father’s politics, is done with such rare care and sensitivity that you cease to look at the actor.
  4. Antar Mahal (2005): Abhishek Bachchan uses his eyes and inward-drawn body language to create a socio-economically oppressed prototype. He almost seems like a distant kin of Om Puri in Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati. With less than 20 minutes of screen space, Abhishek’s eyes pierce a hole in the narrative’s sepulchral vision.In the bowels of feudalism there cries a female heart… The deep anguish of desolation has never created a more piercing and indelible dent in our soul. The refined, evenly defined resonance of Ghosh’s new Bengali work of art leaves behind the awkward rhythms of his last film in Hindi Raincoat.In Antar Mahal, he gets it right. The astonishing grace with which the director steals Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay’s skimpy short-story and turns it into a scintillating study of feudal and patriarchal oppression immediately links this work to some of the greatest literary adaptations from Bengal.The lonely wife Madhabi Mukherjee in Ray’s five-decade old film was more flirty. Soha Ali Khan as the child-bride, who is smothered in ritualistic subjugation in the inner chambers of a feudal household, is far more tender, fragile, vulnerable and heartbreaking. Images of her peeping anxiously and forlornly from behind filigreed curtains just sweep your heart away.Soha resembles the child-bride in Ray’s Devi — with a difference. Ray could’ve never imagined going into the graphic scenes of sexual subjugation. He was too much of a puritan to project sex in anything but silhouette.Ghosh brings feminine oppression out of the closet. In resplendently lit scenes of poetic languor (cinematographer Abhik Sen creates a lilting and magical play of light and shade), director Ghosh conjures images of unbearable pain and torture, as the heir-hungry decadent zamindar (Jackie Shroff, aptly cast) heaves and thrusts into his child-wife while the lascivious priest chants ritualistically to plead to the gods of procreation.The contrast between love and sex, male oppression and tender ministration is brought into the frames with teasing sensitivity when the Bihari sculptor Brij (Abhishek Bachchan) arrives in the sepulchral mansion to create a ripple effect in the lives of the brutish zamindar’s two wives, the doddering and crumbling elder bahu (Roopa Ganguly) and the sweet and heartbreaking younger wife (Soha).You can’t forget Roopa’s look of erotic longing as the Bihari sculptor shivers in his sleep in the outer courtyard. You cannot forget the bonding between the two wives, deeply but diametrically reminiscent of Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das’s camaraderie of desolation in Deepa Mehta’s Fire.But Ghosh doesn’t dwell on the bonding. He sweeps across the burning ghats of emotional desecration, entering the enchanting embers of simmering discontent only long enough to sweep us into the vortex of these demoniacal emotions. We are then pushed out of the inner chambers like unwanted guests.But the hospitality while it lasts, is overpowering. This is a film that invites you into fascinating folds of emotions, creating pockets of intangible feelings for us to savour… and live with forever.The doomed characters wrench us out of our habitual repose to evaluate the space and sound of cinema in a novel light.Though Ghosh’s film is exceptionally literate and articulate, it doesn’t do away with that cinematic quality of emotions which make the characters seem to be simultaneously sublime and obtainable. The anguish of the women is handled with a graceful delicacy unequalled in the work of any other Indian director. You cannot forget Roopa Ganguly and Soha Ali Khan’s collective desolation, or their shared unexpressed passion for the soft and kind sculptor, or the way they handle the suffocating brutality of their household.
  5. Manmarziyan(2018):  While Tapsee and Vicky give to their robust parts, it is Abhishek Bachchan, whose quiet character creates a space in the heart of the plot and lodges itself in the library of the luminous by respecting the character’s need to remain noble without seeming over-sweetened or simply stupid.Manmarziyan takes the traditional love triangle to a new level of expression, articulating an idiom that cannot entirely avoid tedium. After Rumi marries Robbie the narrative runs out of steam. There are repetitive scenes in the second-half which could do with some serious pruning. In spite of its flawed flow due to its extended length Manmarziyan is a winsome romantic tale which dares to ask a very basic question from diehard romantics: love is all very well, but what else? Imagine if Mani Ratnam had sex in his mind for Moun Ragam. Yes, the same story that Sanjay Leela Bhansali made into Hum… Dil Chuke Sanam about a marriage of inconvenience where the kind patient husband desists from consummating the marriage until the wife comes out of her earlier relationship.Imagine if the wife can’t come out of her stuporous obsession with her first love because, hell, the sex with Vicky (Kaushal) is toooooo good.The girlfriend-wife is played by Tapsee Pannu who seems to get more confident with every film. Her Rumi is no walkover for sure. Nor is it someone you would want as your wife, or your son’s wife or even as son’s friend’s wife. She is an unabashed epicurean… and the fact that Tapsee can play this super-annoying selfish woman without making us cringe is in equal measures a triumph of writing (Kannika Dhillon) and performing.Take the sequence where Tapsee’s Rumi rides a mo’bike to her future husband’s home and tells him, sorry, she can’t marry him. But hey, she can talk to him on Facebook. And she rides off.Outrageously self absorbed Taapsee plays Kangana’s smalltown harridan from Tanu Weds Manu multiplied by 10. She is vixenish yet spontaneous, arrogant in her selfishness and yet not unlikeable. Tapsee brings out all the contradictions in her character. She spares us none of Rumi’s churlishness. By the time she heads to Kashmir for her honeymoon with her husband on the rebound, I was hoping someone would slap this unapologetic self-server hard.Fate does that. The trouble with a pleasure-seeker like Rumi is, she is given a lot of leeway by the people around her. Her Punjabi joint family consternation at her sickeningly self-gratifying behaviour with Vicky comes through in spurts of hurt and indignation.Not that Rumi cares. She is arguably the most annoyingly self absorbed romantic heroine seen on screen. Vicky Kaushal as her cheesy DJ lover has worked hard on looking his part. The hair and the clothes and the body language exude a sense of selflimiting rebellion. It is never very clear whether the passion between Vicky and Rumi is all about sex, or something more.
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Nawazuddin’s Dream  House Turns Into A Nightmare

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Nawazuddin

Brick by brick, Nawazuddin  Siddiqui  constructed his own Taj Mahal in Mumbai. Gleaming white  and  custom-built, Nawaz  is rightfully house proud. Nawaab, Nawaz’s home named after his father, has  six  bedroom  , two large  halls, two spacious  lawns .On the first floor Nawaz has a large space to grow trees. Nawaz loves greenery. He want my home in Mumbai to  remind me  of  my home in my  village .

His voice  beaming with  pride and joy, Nawaz said, “I had  an exact map  of  every inch of my  dream  house in my head, and I would not compromise  on even an  inch of that  vision. If during my absence something  was built wrongly I  came back and  broke it. There have been many demolished walls before the  house happened.I wanted every inch of the house to be the way I had designed  it in my mind.I must thank my  brother who helped me  a lot ;during my  absence he supervised the construction.”

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When  I  had mentioned  that people were comparing his home  Nawaab  with Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat  Nawaz demurred, “There is  no  need to compare the two. That is his dream home.  This is mine. Sabke sapne alag alag hote hain(to each his  own dream).I’d like  you to come to see my home.It is on Yari Road in Andheri.”

And now the same home has turned  into  a veritable  horror castle where his wife  is fighting an ugly  property battle with Nawaz’s  mother .

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The wife  Aaliya who has apparently been locked out of  the bedrooms  and  other private areas in the sprawling palace allegedly by Nawaz’s mother , has  made the livingroom sofas  the  temporary(?)  home for herself  and her children.

Nawaz’s home Nawaab is swarming with cops and lawyers while he is  nowhere to be traced, and rightly so. Whatever Nawaz  says at the moment will be  held against him. Whichever side he chooses he will be seen as a traiter  and a man who won’t own up to his  responsibilities.

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So where is  Nawaz? According to friends, he  has moved   into a  hotel  for now. There he has remain until his lawyers  sort  out the mess  at his home.

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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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Faraaz : We Are The Champions

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Faraaz

Faraaz

Directed  by Hansal Mehta

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Rating: *** ½

 Compared  with  Hansal Mehta’s other two  films on  global terrorism ,Shahid and OmertaFaraaz is a mellower more  lenient  and  forgiving work. It is  predominantly  a discourse on true Islam and  its subversion by  terrorists as embodied in the two main characters Faraaz(Zahan kapoor) and  Nibras(Aditya Rawal).

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The  dialogues between the two are sharp and relevant. Most importantly these dialogues  never overstay their welcome, hence the film, though largely confined to a café  held  hostage  by a bunch of misguided  youngsters, never gets verbose.Instead Hansal Mehta brings in a sense of reined-in anxiety.

The agony  of  those  outside the  sealed café, whether the government officials  or parents of  the hostages(Juhi Babbar Soni, Amir Ali are  both superb , though the former has a  far more dramatic scope than the  latter) is given as  much  priority as  the  terrorized  hostages  inside the  café.

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Unlike  the several 26/11   films, the latest being the Adivi Sesh starrer Major, Faraaz is not too keen on generating thrills out of a  real-life tragedy. Hansal Mehta  doesn’t  edit out the brutality and suddenness of the attack, but  he  does humanize  the  young terrorists , specially Nibras, played with compelling restraint  by Aditya Rawal S/O the extraordinary Paresh.

 In  the  years to come,  young Rawal will be an actor to watch.

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Faraaz has  a lot of young talent to galvanize  the  story of one  blood-bathed night in  a  café in  Bangladesh . Many young  people went for an evening of recreation and  conversation. Several  never came out. This  is the story of one  braveheart who said he won’t run for his life without  his friends.

It’s  a disturbing moving tale of true heroism told with feeling rather than flourish.

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