#Review: Fukrey Returns… And Basically Does NOTHING Else At All.

When Fukrey hit the theatres in 2013, it turned out to be a sleeper hit because of how relatable it was for the youth of our country. The aspiration to make a quick buck and the excitement of going to college is a feeling that will never be old. We all bought what Fukrey was selling at that point and now director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba presents a sequel starring the same cast – but Fukrey Returns lacks what we fell in love with to start with.

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The best part about about this sequel is Varun Choocha Sharma. The amount he makes you laugh in the film is amazing, and at one point things became a Choocha stand-up act, and others were just props. While Choocha is still a bit, um, dim and sees nothing beyond his love for Bholi Punjaban, luckily he has a bigger role and no one can outshine him. But the sad things is that there is no novelty in the concept of his narrative either – we saw all of this in the previous movie, and now we are seeing exactly the same thing happen again. The difference? A few years have passed and more money has been spent.

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The first half of the film is kind of hysterical, but it loses its wits in the second. This could have been easily been a film about Bholi, Choocha and Pandit ji (who is effortlessly played by Pankaj Tripathi and gives the film a bit of punch and a lot of bite). Pretty much all the other elements in the film are a waste of time and energy – including a tiger, a cub, Ali Fazal, Manjot Singh, Priya Anand and Vishakha Singh. Absolutely unnecessary. While Choocha is still very pumped about going to Goya and not Goa, Pulkit Samrat is the weakest link here. Hunny-buns has been crashed and burnt by his loser friend and he is just standing there acting all coy.

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Sorry, Hunny-buns, this was not your day, as Choocha with his premonitions was the cake this time, with Pandit ji and Bholi as the icing and the cherry on top. Better luck next time!

P.S.: Please stop remixing old songs for the sake of your own sanity. Now I need to throw “Mehbooba” out of the window too.

This article was first published on Filtercopy

 

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Crushing On My Passport Holder!

Being an accessory hoarder, I love all things that make my life not only easier but prettier.

Also, if you’re a paranoid traveler like me, losing your things at the airport is something that would always be at the top of your head every time you decide to travel. I check my things a million times and still feel that I am either forgetting things or have lost something.

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Just so my life is a little more organized, I stumbled upon URBY, a brand that has taken the onus to make beautiful products fulfilling your love for hoarding things.

This passport holder by the brand that I am using is what I am absolutely in love with at the moment. It is customised, so I always have my name shining on top wherever I go. It comes in a lot of neutral colors and keeps your passport safe as your passport is one of the most important things you need while you’re traveling.

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It is compact and useful. Not only it can carry your passport and your boarding pass. You can also sneak in little dosh so you don’t need to keep fiddling with your wallet throughout.

What I love about URBY is that they have a lot of versions of passport holders, luggage tags, wallets so everyone’s choice is valued. From jewelry cases to tie holders, you will find everything here and it won’t be wrong to say that I am absolutely in love with what they have to offer.

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You can find all of my favorites right here and the best thing is that everything can be personalized which makes URBY a favorite for me when it comes to gifting things to my loved ones.

SHOP HERE

So what are you waiting for? Go shop right now!

Urby is a direct-to-consumer, lifestyle and travel accessories brand . They design and manufacture essentials for an urban lifestyle using the most premium materials and finest craftsmanship.
You can also check their wide range of travel walletsluggage tagspouches. ….  and many more. 

 

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2017: Cinematic Liberty? Not Really

For many years, Hindi Cinema has been about aspirations, and it being the sole driving force to pull in audiences to theatres.

Everyone wants to go to the snow-capped mountains in Switzerland, dance around, and hashtag DDLJ in their photos. A lot of them do the trip for that one photo only. For years we’ve been following the norm of hero-and-heroine-ism in our films.

However, for a long time, we have made films that either generalise things or dilute them from their authenticity, so it reaches a larger audience and can be relatable for many cultures. The truth is — how many times can you weave a film around the same situation? How many “love stories” can we rehash?

A welcome change has been brought in by a lot of people who have come from various places and joined the madness of movie-making. They have their own stories, own struggles, which makes them unique. Directors like Anurag Kashyap, Shoojit Sircar, Sriram Raghavan, Sujoy Ghosh, Dibaker Banerjee, Shakun Batra, Imtiaz Ali, Nitesh Tiwari, Ritesh Batra, Tigmanshu Dhulia and many more, have been at the forefront of bringing a personal flavour to Indian cinema, far away from formulas.

They have been influential enough to change the craft, which has been breathing the same year for many years. Take 2017 for example — Who would have thought that a film about erectile dysfunction would have done a fantastic job at the box office (and otherwise)? Shubh Mangal Savdhaan was loved by not just the youth but people went to watch the film with their families and came back elated.

 

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A still from Shubh Mangal Savdhaan

 

Secret Superstar, a film about a 16 year old girl who aspires to be a singer in a world which is suffocated with patriarchy, will possibly be the most-liked film of the year. These films are miles away from the flimsy tropes we have come to terms with, dealing with emotions that are real and not elevated for the heck of it.

 

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A still from Secret Superstar

 

In Secret Supertsar, Zaira Wasim convinces us that she is Insiya from Vadodara who is tied down with the shackles of patriarchy and is looking for freedom through music. Her father is a middle class abusive man who believes in reprimanding his wife and daughter for anything under the sun, but loves his son immensely. Insiya is innocent, sincere and is full of so much anger. Frankly, full marks to the director Advait Chandan, who has managed to nurture this film and the talent of Insiya. He has handled so many tricky scenes so sensitively, for example we never get too much of the actual voilence in the film.

 

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A still from Secret Superstar

 

The terrain changed because of a bunch of new writers, directors and actors taking the baton in their hands. Seeing how rewarding it has been, our megastars have finally decided to follow the path. We are not selling films anymore but reality and that is why more people are buying it.

 

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A still from Newton

 

Hindi Cinema has been churning out wonderful content this year and the frequency of it is increasing by the day. Who would have thought a mega star like Akshay Kumar would be the face of a film which discusses the problem of sanitation in the country? Toilet- Ek Prem Katha was a wonderful way to propagate what the nation is still lacking. Akshay will now he takes it a notch higher with Padman co-starring Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor.

 

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Poster, Padman

 

Topics that have taboo for many many years are coming out in the open and taking advantage of the popularity that mega stars have, they are creating awareness.

We don’t need to be hush hush anymore — menstruation in Padman, erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, sanitation in Toilet- Ek Prem Katha or a dark comedy about a fair election in a conflicted part of the country in Newton, all now exist in the same space as Golmaal Again and Judwaa 2.

While Golmaal 4 is entertaining the audiences at par with the festive spirit of Diwali, Newton is making us proud internationally. As commercial films are still making the stupendous bucks that they do at the box office, the happy thing is that budgets are now being created for projects that might look risqué at first. Even studious are showing trust in scripts that might have not seen the light of day a decade back.

This article was first published on Firstpost

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“The Pressure Of Golmaal Is Always There”- Ajay Devgn

Ajay Devgn has time and again managed to strike a balance between films that are driven by content and potboilers. This time he is confident that even closet watchers will watch Golmaal again as he has met with the intellectual kind and they all have seen the previous ones. I sit with him to discuss the hoopla that comes with every Golmaal installment.

This is the first time in 7 years of Golmaal that Rohit Shetty has written the film. Did he try his hand at it before this installment as well?

Rohit came to me with this idea around 4 years back. I really liked the idea and I told him that he should work on this. The team took around 3 years to work on it and that is how today we have Golmaal Again.  The pressure of a Golmaal is always there and it’s good. That’s why it took so long to write. We finished the shoot in 6- 8 months.

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A certain section of the audience dismisses Rohit Shetty films. Do you see as to why they refrain from it?

When I talk to most of these intelligent people, they tell me that they have watched Golmaal 3. They are closet watchers. They like watching it but just for their reputation, they don’t like accepting it. They say that it is senseless but they all watch it. My point is why won’t they also want to enjoy. When a Hollywood comedy like Hangover comes, they love it because that is in English. They like a Hollywood film of the same genre but here they have issues.  People want to get entertained and entertainment does not mean only laughing. An entertaining film is which grips you and for those 2 hours you are deported and become a part of the film. That could be action, emotion, comedy….any genre. When that happens with the audience, they are fine.

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Today, most actors are deeply involved with the entire process of filmmaking. Do you also pay attention to every detail of making a film?

It has changed over the years. The films that I am doing in future also are all different. I am really concentrating on how are they making it, what is the detailing of the script? I think all of this has become important now. Most of the audience feels that we as actors have made these films. They look at you and say, ” Tumne vo picture bohot achi banayi ya kharab banayi... So many of them do not know that who is making the film and who is acting in it. Somewhere we have started feeling that it is your responsibility that what you are doing should be good enough.

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Speaking of your last film, Baadshaho did very well at single screens but didn’t have a stronghold at the multiplex. Do you think the disparity between single screens and multiplexes are widening? 

I think it is getting shorter now. I have noticed this that if the film has opened very well at a single screen, it will open well at a multiplex as well and vice-versa. The exposure is happening for everyone. Even the masses have an exposure to the internet and everything that others are watching. They are also evolving so there will be a time when it will be equal.

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Speaking of the same film, the climax of the film did not match the tone of the film we were watching. What happened?

I spoke to the director about the same thing too. We had shot the portion but last minute he removed it.

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Crime dramas in 2017 have been less gangster, more criminal

It won’t be wrong to say that stories from the underworld have always fuelled our hunger and many times we have tried to bring the ‘unknown’ and ‘unsaid’ to the screen. Dark tales are high intensity and you are always on your toes while watching them.

As Narcos is the current obsession we all are suffering from, the bad guys have surfaced again on Bollywood charts. We had forgotten them for a while but they have come back. Leaving the moral debate aside, we all want to know what makes gangsters and men/women of crime so powerful.

 

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A still from Raees

 

The year started with Raees baniya ka dimaag aur miyabhai ki daring…and all of us went to the theatre in packs to be allured by Raees bhai, because if ammi jaan kehti haan then why wouldn’t we.

The film was loosely based on Abdul Latif’s life; a big-time bootlegger who eventually monopolised the illegal liquor business in Gujarat. At some places, SRK was applaud-worthy, but on the other hand the film was too long, populated with love sequences we didn’t need. The minute an enjoyable cat and mouse chase got better, it was frizzled by an over bearing love ballad.

However, Raees was a cakewalk to watch, compared to other gangster films in 2017.

In the last two weeks I have watched two films that I was so excited about. Murky streets, cold blooded gangsters and power play on screen — I live for such drama. But 2017 has been — and there’s no polite way to say this — disappointing.

 

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A still from Daddy

 

It began with Daddy, which was so wonderfully shot but that’s about it. Arun Gawli, the gangster on whom the film is based, was feared and worshipped by the people of Dagdi chawl.  The claustrophobia that is thrown at us while we watch the film sucks you in deep and you can’t take your eyes off the screen. From cops to everyone who knew and fondly called him Daddy, everyone spoke about their version of the man who entrenched in the underbelly of Bombay.

These were the high points of the film but the point of matter? I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know about Gawli and I walked out feeling exhausted. Why would you subject your audience through the entire narrative and not give them something they don’t know? A little unfair, isn’t it?

 

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A still from Haseena Parkar 

 

But the crimes don’t simply stop here. This weekend’s release, Apoorva Lakhia’s Haseena Parkar, is a depiction of Dawood Ibrahim’s sister and how her life turned out the minute her brother became the man everyone feared. As inadequate Shraddha Kapoor was to play Haseena, even Siddhant’s portrayal of Dawood was devoid of any personality.

Even today, when you think about the man who swung the system with one hand, shivers run down your spine. And here Dawood is just reduced to having bubble baths and candle light dinners in Dubai.

Did no-one go back to the storyboard when there was time? Here’s a film with haphazard dialogues and a bland screenplay. This is the third gangster film of the year and even now, no one was able to diagnose the problems to fix them.

 

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Poster, Haseena Parkar 

 

If only it was the job of background score and lipstick colours to invoke fear in us — why would we even need a theatre-watching experience then?

A timid Shraddha Kapoor suddenly turns eccentric and talks really, really slowly and says, “ Aapa yaad reh gaya na, naam yaad rakhne ki koi zarurat nahi.” Honestly, that is the only thing I remember from the film.

 

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A still from Satya

 

The problem of the matter lies in the first step of making a film. As alluring power-hungry, menacing men can be, their stories are not so simple. You just cannot begin without tying loose ends, lest you fall flat on your face. It has been almost two decades since Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya and even today that is the best depiction of cold blooded gangsters. Satya was not only a great film but also gave us so many gems — from Anurag Kashyap, Ram Gopal Varma, Vishal Bharadwaj to Manoj Bajpayee.

 

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A still from Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai

 

The only time someone after RGV came close to making mean men work was Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbai (and the sequel was rather abysmal, so the curse remains). It has been so many years and sadly, I could just remember 2 films in a million. Pity.

This article was first published on Firstpost

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Can A Brilliant Performance Disguise Bad Film Making?

As an ardent cinegoer, what rocks my boat is (sometimes brilliant) films I get to watch week after week. But this year, nine months have passed and I haven’t seen a film that either comforts me, or disturbs me. As a person who watches films for a living, it is highly disappointing to not remember one great film from 2017 that came and left an impact on my heart and soul.

Films with megastars have not been able to please their fans this year. I have either seen mediocre films or ones where the actor shines and the narrative doesn’t.

Recently, Kangna Ranaut’s Simran was stuck in a dichotomy of sorts: the narrative is so bland and the actor is just terrific. But here’s a pressing question. Do we worship the act or the actor?

As I watched Simran, the backlash of the writing credits was running in my mind and I thought to myself: who actually wrote the film? Can the brilliance of an actor’s performance disguise mediocre filmmaking?

Kangana Ranaut in Simran. Youtube screengrab

The multi-faceted actor, director, singer, producer Farhan Akhtar absolutely doesn’t believe in this statement. He doesn’t buy into the idea that a brilliant performance can save a sinking boat.

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Photo Courtesy: Spice PR Team

Another film which looks delicious is the upcoming Chef, starring Saif Ali Khan directed by Raja Krishna Menon. As I keep my fingers crossed about the fate of the film, I probe him about performances and filmmaking, and he says

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Saif Ali Khan with director Raja Krishna Menon

“That depends on how you define filmmaking, doesn’t it? A brilliant performance often is related not only to that particular performer but to the entire environment created.  I define a brilliant performance as one that is consistent to the character and the story in which that character exists.”

A point well made, isn’t it? Many actors who refer to themselves as ‘director’s actors’ are called lazy. So if we turn around the situation, is depending only on the actor for a film’s brilliance a little unfair?

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Director: R Balki

R Balki — who has made the wonderful Paa with the ever so inspiring Amitabh Bachchan and is amidst making Padman with Akshay Kumar — feels,

“Brilliant performance is also a part of filmmaking.”

But as audiences, we want to watch a wholesome film which doesn’t see-saw between technicality and instead warms the heart. The last time that happened was the end of last year, with Aamir Khan’s Dangal.

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On this, Raj Nidimoru says,

“When you put a brilliant actor on stage, there’s usually no director or set design or music or any film elements around. And she/he will still win your heart. When you look at all the great films made, they always have brilliant performances first. Then comes film-making. So yeah, you could make a mediocre film or leave the camera unattended if you’d like and a great actor will carry the film.”

Is it the actor’s objective to successfully accomplish all acting tasks and deliver a successful scene or could the actor’s goal be to allow the character to exist so profoundly and fully that acting techniques disappear?

 

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Director Homi Adhijania with Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone on the sets of Cocktail

 

 

Homi Adhijania, someone who takes the approach of a Gabriel García Márquez novel in his films, answers this tough question:

“A brilliant performance can definitely help disguise a mediocre screenplay as it serves as a distraction. Case in point being how Deepika’s (Padukone) adept portrayal of Veronica lifted Cocktail’s predictable narrative. But when it comes to technically mediocre filmmaking, it’s tough to disguise that if the basics of visual storytelling are missing to begin with. When the audience experiences the overall picture, any performance can’t be isolated from the rest of the film, so a brilliant performance won’t matter in terms of the audience’s overall takeaway.”

When you are a director on a film set, juggling egos and creative energies of so many people, the stakes are very high.

Meghna Gulzar is one such director who brings out the toughest of nuances with ease in her actors and she disagrees with what is written above. She strongly sticks to her guns and adds,

 

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Director: Meghna Gulzar

 

“Nothing can disguise mediocre filmmaking. But mediocre filmmaking can certainly compromise a brilliant performance.”

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The year that has gone by has certainly been a forgetful one for the film business and the only film that might be able to change the game could be Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. But then again, will it just be good performances taking the film forward, or will it shake the system that seems like it has been sleeping all year long? Only time will tell.

The article was first published on Firstpost.

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