RANGOON

Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and V.B. Pictures Pvt. Ltd.’s Ran­ goon (UA) is a love story set against the backdrop of the Indian freedom movement.

Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor), like many others, is an Indian soldier who works for the British army in India. One day, he is captured by the Japanese army but he escapes from their clutches and, after some time, resurfaces in India to serve the Britishers. Nawab is sent as top film actress Julia’s (Kan­gana Ranaut) personal security guard when she embarks on a journey to entertain soldiers in different places because her lover, actor-turned-producer Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), sees this as the only way of making money for his company due to non-availability of imported raw stock (film negative) during the war. Rusi is married, but is also in an extra-marital relationship with Julia.

The Japanese attack Julia’s troupe but Nawab is able to save her. A few members of the troupe are killed in the attack while some go missing. Zulfi (Saharsh Shukla), Julia’s trusted spot boy, is also missing; he was last seen trying to save a trunk containing Julia’s clothes and belongings.

Nawab and Julia take days to reach India from Burma on foot and in the intervening period, their initial hatred towards each other turns into love. They also get physical.

Back in India, Rusi is happy to see Julia but he smells a rat and realises that his girlfriend may have developed fondness for Nawab. He is especially agitated because he has decided to divorce his wife so that he can marry Julia. Soon, Zulfi also surfaces again with Julia’s trunk.

Zulfi meets Nawab secretly. There is definitely something which Nawab and Zulfi are hiding. What is that? Nawab is also seen exchanging notes with an army nurse, Mema (Lin Laishram). What is the common secret that binds Nawab, Zulfi and Mema?

Soon, Zulfi and Mema are caught red-handed by the British Major General, David Harding (Richard McCabe). Does David Harding spare Zulfi and Mema? What is their crime? Julia now confronts Nawab and he lets her in on the secret. What is the secret? Does Julia become one with Nawab as far as the secret is concerned? Whom does Julia go to finally – Nawab or Rusi?

Matthew Robbins has penned an interesting love story but the war drama is a bit exaggerated. There is a sword which is shown to be so important that it has to be smuggled out and given to Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in Burma. The audience is unable to digest the fact that one sword can be so significant for the INA. The screenplay, by Matthew Robbins, Sabrina Dhawan and Vishal Bhardwaj, is written in a way that the sword becomes the most important weapon as if its mere delivery to the Indian National Army in Burma could ensure independence for India in a jiffy. Obviously, since this cannot be the case, the viewers wonder why the entire war drama revolves around one sword! The screenplay writers are unable to completely convince the audience on this point as a result of which the entire climax or, rather, the entire second half looks far-fetched. On the plus side, the writers have infused the love story with humour and reasonable passion and tension. But the second half is too long and boring at places.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are good and entertaining.

Kangana Ranaut is excellent in the role of Julia. She does a marvellous job of the top Hindi film actress and, in fact, transports the audience to the pre-Independence era by her clothes and per­formances. She shines with a very believable performance. Shahid Kapoor looks very handsome and acts with admirable ease. He underplays the character of Nawab Malik so beautifully that one can’t help but admire him. Saif Ali Khan is wonderful as the besotted Rusi Billimoria in the initial reels and the angst-ridden lover later. He delivers a truly fine performance. Richard McCabe makes the character of Major General David Harding entertaining; his Hindi is fun to listen to. Saharsh Shukla leaves a mark as Zulfi. Lin Laishram has her moments in the role of Mema. Alex Avery makes his presence felt as Major Williams. Nitish Pandey (as Patel), Manav Vij (as Bhairo Singh), Kashmira Irani (as Zenobia), Rushad Rana (as Hoshang Billimoria), Shriswara Dubey (as Haseena), Pooja Sarup (as Bulbul), Atul Kumar (as Chulbul), Gajraj Rao (as Ahuja), Surendra Pal (as the king), Neel (as Cyrus), Barzin (as Firdaus), Gerson D’Cunha (as Bappawa) and Kawaguchi Satoru (as Hiromichi) are adequate.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s direction is good but, like the script, his direction also loses its grip on the audience at several places in the second half. In fact, the script as well as his narrative style cater more to the class audience than the masses. Music (Vishal Bhardwaj) is appealing but it must be added that it has a period flavour to go with the era in which the film is set, and hence it will not be lapped up too much by the audience. None of the songs is very popular and that’s a minus point. Gulzar’s lyrics are good. Song picturisations (by Farah Khan and Sudesh Adhana) are eye-filling. Vishal Bhardwaj’s background music is lovely. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is excellent. Harpal Singh Palli and Ravi Kumar’s action and stunts are exciting and thrilling. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production designing is extraordinary. Aalap Majgavkar’s editing is quite good.

On the whole, Rangoon is entertaining but it is also too long, boring in parts and more class-appealing than mass-oriented. It will, therefore, do well in select multiplexes in some big cities, but this will not at all be enough to recover the huge investment in the film even after revenues from non-theatrical sources are accounted for. In the final tally, the film will entail heavy losses to the distributors concerned.

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JOLLY LL.B 2

Fox Star Studios’ Jolly LL.B 2 (UA) is the second in the Jolly LL.B series.

Jagdishwar Mishra alias Jolly (Akshay Kumar) is a lawyer in Lucknow, whom nobody takes seriously. Even Rizvi (Ram Gopal Bajaj), the boss of the law firm he works in, views him as more of an errand-running aide to his wife! Keen to prove his mettle, Jolly, who is street-smart and sharp, lies to Hina (Sayani Gupta) that his boss would fight her case, and he accepts Rs. 2 lakh from her as advance fee. But he uses the money to buy himself a chamber so that he can start his own practice. Hina, who is expecting the child of her deceased husband, commits suicide when she realises that not only has she been fleeced but also that her case will never reach the court.

Humiliated by his own father (V.M. Badola) for his action of cheating a helpless lady, Jolly now takes it upon himself to fight late Hina’s case in court. Hina’s husband, Iqbal Kasim (Manav Kaul), had been murdered by police inspector Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra) in a fake encounter soon after their (Iqbal and Hina’s) wedding. Suryaveer Singh had killed Iqbal Kasim in an encounter despite knowing that he was not the dreaded terrorist, Iqbal Qadri (Inaam-ul-haq), who was wanted. Not just that, he had also injured his assistant, police inspector Baldev Singh Badhoria (Tarun Kumar) to make the encounter look real. As bad luck would have it, Badhoria had died in the hospital due to Singh’s gunshot.

Jolly files a case in the court to seek justice for Hina even though she is no more. The case accuses Suryaveer Singh of murdering Iqbal Kasim. Suryaveer Singh appoints famous lawyer Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor) to argue his case. The fight in the court of judge Sunder Lal Tripathi (Saurabh Shukla) is not at all easy. Not only has Jolly to contend with the name and fame of Pramod Mathur but also take on the system. The obstacles which come in the path of Jolly are numerous but his sharp brain sees him surmount each of them. How he finally succeeds in getting justice for the deceased Hina is revealed in the climax.

Subhash Kapoor has written a story which starts in a light-hearted manner but gradually takes a serious turn. However, even after the drama becomes serious, the thread of humour runs through it. The part of the drama relating to Jolly’s family life is a bit boring and looks contrived. In fact, it would have been better if Jolly was shown to be alone – without a wife (Huma Qureshi) and child (master Jehaan Khambata). The first half, especially, has several portions where the story dips and loses its grip on the audience. But after every dip, it soon involves the viewers over again. Comparatively, the post-interval portion is far better. There is a lot of humour in the second half and there are some heart-warming moments too.

Subhash Kapoor’s screenplay is intelligent. The best part of his screenplay is that it doesn’t let go of the humour till the very end. The light scenes in the courtroom are so funny that they make the courtroom drama entertaining and enjoyable. The scenes between Jolly and Pramod Mathur and between Jolly and judge Tripathi, as also between Pramod Mathur and judge Tripathi are excellent and they thoroughly entertain the viewers. Many of them evoke a lot of laughter. An obviously weak link in the screenplay in the first half is when Hina turns down Jolly’s offer to return her Rs. 2 lakh which he had taken from her by lying to her. It is not clear why she says that she doesn’t want the money back. The least anyone in her place would want is her money back. But Hina is shown to say that all she wants is justice. This sounds wrong because it is not as if justice was traded for her money. Also, the screenplay could have been tighter as that would have eliminated the dull moments.

Subhash Kapoor’s dialogues are excellent. The humorous dialogues are truly wonderful.

Akshay Kumar plays Jolly with all the conviction at his command. He makes the character believable, endearing and one for whom the audience starts rooting quite early on. His simplicity and sincerity wins the viewers over. Huma Qureshi acts well but she does not have meaty scenes to perform. Annu Kapoor is extraordinary as defence lawyer Pramod Mathur. His expressions, dialogue delivery and body language are superb. Saurabh Shukla shines in the role of judge Sunder Lal Tripathi. His acting so beautifully suits the character he plays that it is difficult to imagine any­one else in that role. Indeed, an award-winning performance! Kumud Mishra is effective as police inspector Suryaveer Singh but the role does not have enough to justify the actor’s brilliance. Sayani Gupta leaves a wonderful mark as Hina. Manav Kaul lends able support in a brief role as Iqbal Kasim. Rajiv Gupta makes his presence felt as Birbal (assistant to Jolly). Ram Gopal Bajaj has his moments as Jolly’s boss, Rizvi. Sunil Kumar Palwal is very effective and earnest as Fahim Butt. Inaam-ul-haq does a fine job as Iqbal Qadri. Avijit Dutt lends able support as SSP Paul. Dadhi R. Pandey (as Siraj Alam), Sushil Pandey (as Ram Kumar Badhoria, son of Baldev Singh Badhoria), Tarun Kumar (as police officer Baldev Singh Badhoria), Sitaram Panchal (as farmer Sitaram), Sanjay Mishra (as Guruji), Vinod Nagpal (as Zahoor Siddiqui), V.M. Badola (as Jolly’s father), master Jehaan Khambata (as Jolly’s son), Gurpal Singh (as judge Harbhajan Singh), Brijendra Kala (as Dubey), Mir Sar­war (as police inspector Hidayat Baig), Brijesh Sharma and Sudhanva Deshpande (both as CBI officers), Faiz Khan (as Pramod Mathur’s male assistant), A.R. Rama (as Mushtaq), Ganesh Kumar (as constable Vinod Tiwari), Shubhangi Latkar (as Dr. Hema Deshpande), Yakub Sayed (as Pramod Mathur’s father), Usha Kumari Yadav (as Ram Kumar Badhoria’s mother) and the others provide able support.

Subhash Kapoor’s direction is nice. But how one wishes he could have kept the narrative tighter. That would’ve made the film even more enjoyable. Music (by Junaid Wasi, Chirantan Bhatt, Manj Musik and Raftaar) is a major letdown. Not a single song is a hit number. Lyrics (Raftaar, Manj Musik, Junaid Wasi and Shabbir Ahmed) are okay. Choreography (Bosco, Raju Khan and Ganesh Acharya) is alright. Vishal Khurana and Amar Mohile’s background music is fairly nice. Kamaljeet Negi’s camerawork is good. Action scenes (composed by Parvez Shaikh) are alright. Sets (by Gautam Sen and Rashmi Sangane­ ria) are okay. Chandrashekhar Praja­ pati’s editing is good.

On the whole, Jolly LL.B 2 is an enjoyable entertainer which will definitely do well at the box-office and will keep the audience and the investors happy.

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Raees

Red Chillies Entertainment and Excel Entertainment’s Raees (U/A) is the story of a bootlegger in the state of Gujarat where prohibition was in force.

Raees (Shah Rukh Khan) grows up with the lessons taught by his mother, one of which is that no business is small, and no religion is bigger than one’s business. Right from their childhood, he and his bosom pal, Sadiq (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub), had joined bootlegger Jairaj (Atul Kulkarni). They worked for him for many years till one day, Raees decides to start his own business of bootlegging. In spite of Sadiq warning him against the pitfalls of starting his own business, Raees takes the plunge. He has the daring and the sharp business acumen needed to succeed in life. In no time, he has become a force to reckon with in the illegal business of bootlegging. In the course of his business, Raees does not bat an eyelid before killing people who come in the way of his business. But he has a heart of gold for the needy people.

Even as his business is flourishing, there comes an extremely honest police officer, Jhatak Majmudar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who comes down heavily on illegal business. On his radar is also Raees and his illicit business of bootlegging. He goes hammer and tongs against Raees and confiscates lakhs of his bottles of liquor being smuggled by him into the state. Feeling the heat and the losses, Raees loses no time in using his connections to get Majmudar transferred. But Jhatak Majmudar is a tough nut to crack. He is not the one to give up so easily. Since he has vowed to wipe out Raees’ business, he keeps track of the trade from wherever he is transferred.

Meanwhile, Raees, who is in love with Aasiya (Mahira Khan), gets married to her. The two are enjoying life and they soon have a baby. One day, the leader of the opposition, Pashabhai (Uday Tikekar), takes out a procession against alcohol consumption, purely to woo the voters. Raees, who had warned Pashabhai against taking out the procession, especially through his area, creates mayhem when the procession reaches his turf. Several people are killed in the tension that erupts. The chief minister of Gujarat (Pramod Pathak) asks Raees to go to jail for a few days to show that the state is doing its duty in punishing criminals. The chief minister promises to ensure his release in no time. But the tables turn against Raees when the chief minister and Pashabhai join forces. It is then that Raees decides to contest the Assembly elections in the state even though he is behind bars. He wins the election and also gets bail.

On a plot of land he had won as his share of commission from the chief minister for vacating people, Raees decides to build a colony of homes for the poor and the downtrodden. He exhorts them to pay him advance money and book their homes. The poor people agree as they have the utmost faith in Raees. But the chief minister pours water over his plans when, after construction work is underway on the plot of land, he declares it as a green zone in which construction activity cannot take place. Raees, whose bootlegging business is already under fire, now also feels the heat due to the green zone order. He realises that he would lose face and be accused of fleecing the poor people if he didn’t return their monies. But he has no money to return. He, therefore, turns to Musabhai (Narendra Jha) who had helped him when he had decided to start his own business after breaking free from Jairaj.

Musabhai comes to Raees’ aid but he also seeks Raees’ help in having tonnes of gold transported from one place to another. But is the deal between Raees and Musabhai so simple? Is Raees able to return the monies of the poor? Does he escape the long arm of the law and the watchful eyes of Majmudar? Does Majmudar succeed in catching Raees red-handed?

Harit Mehta, Ashish Vashi and Niraj Shukla have written a story about a law breaker and a custodian of law, which doesn’t offer too much novelty but it has plenty of twists and turns. In spite of lack of freshness, the audience remains interested and engrossed because of two reasons: the drama is fast-paced and there are plenty of twists and turns. The trio’s screenplay is also quite interesting. But there are some dull moments too. For example, the romantic track of Raees is boring and lacks both, the warmth and the fun element. To the credit of the screenplay writers, it must be mentioned that they have kept many of the tracks running through the length of the film and have not left them midway. Two such tracks are the Bhaijaan track between Raees and his friend, Sadiq, and the track of tea between Raees and Majmudar. By the end of the drama, the audience gets the feeling that although Raees cared for the poor, there wasn’t too much heroism in his actions because he worked more for his own gains than for the downtrodden. In other words, the characteristics of Raees — daring nature and sharp business acumen — do not bring to the fore heroic qualities in him as much as they do his ability to succeed as a businessman. His helplessness when the plot of land is declared a green zone will not be liked too much by the viewers. The drama has too much of tension and few fun moments, especially after a point of time. The climax may also not give the adrenaline rush one expects in this kind of a film. However, the confrontation scenes between Raees and Majmudar are excellently written.

Dialogues, written by the trio, are superb and will draw huge rounds of applause in the cinemas, especially the single-screen cinemas.

Shah Rukh Khan performs extraordinarily well. He lives the character of Raees and plays to the gallery. His get-up (with kohl in his eyes) and his costumes only add to the overall persona of the character he plays. His facial expressions to convey defiance, arrogance and other feelings are fantastic. Mahira Khan is average in looks. In her debut role, her performance is good. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is outstanding as Jhatak Majmudar. The inherent comedy in his dialogues is only accentuated by his unique dialogue delivery. Indeed, yet another memorable performance by the immensely talented Siddiqui. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub is so natural that you marvel at his acting. His gaze, his body language, his little nuances, all add up to a wonderful performance. Atul Kulkarni is beautifully restrained in the role of Jairaj. Narendra Jha lends credibility to the character of Musabhai with his acting. As his assistant, Jaideep Ahlawat is effective. Pramod Pathak (in the role of the chief minister), Uday Tikekar (as Pashabhai) and Raj Arun (as Ilyas) leave their respective marks with fully convincing performances. Sheeba Chaddha (as Raees’ mother), Utkarsh Majumdar (as the doctor), Bhagwan Tiwari (as inspector Devji), master Shubham Chintamani (as young Raees), master Shubham Tukaram (as young Sadiq), Loveleen Mishra (as Ratna madame) and Yusuf Hussain (as Aasiya’s father) lend excellent support. Others do as required.

Rahul Dholakia’s direction is very creditable as he makes the drama credible with his stylised and effective narration. Ram Sampath’s music is a major plus point. The ‘Zaalima’ song is a hit number. The remixed version of ‘Laila main Laila’ is also hit. ‘Udi udi’ song has melody. Other songs are also well-tuned. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are very nice and easy on the lips. Choreography of the ‘Laila main Laila’ song by Bosco-Caesar is lovely. Sunny Leone’s dance on it is very mass-appealing. The choreography of the other songs (by Bosco-Caesar, Samir and Arsh Tanna, and Rajeev Surti) is also good. Ram Sampath’s background music deserves praise for the impact it has on the scenes. K.U. Mohanan’s camerawork is of a high order. Action scenes and stunts (by Ravi Verma and Sunil Rodrigues) are very mass-appealing. Production designing by Anita Rajgopalan Lata and Donald Reagan Gracy, and art direction by Chandrashekhar More and Vilas Atmaram Panchal are lovely and give the film a realistic touch. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is crisp and sharp.
On the whole, Raees will turn out to be a comfortable winner at the ticket windows. Despite a routine story, it has a lot of masala for the audience to keep them satisfied. Business in the first five-day weekend will be phenomenal. Single-screen cinemas will see surging crowds of the kind not seen too often these days.
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Kaabil

Film Kraft Productions’ Kaabil (U/A) is a love story and revenge drama. It is the story of a blind man’s revenge on the rapists of his wife who is also blind.

Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) is a blind young man who works as a dubbing artist to earn his livelihood. He is adept at modulating his voice and mimicking people. He meets Supriya (Yami Gautam) who is also blind like him. The two soon fall in love and decide to get married. They get married and are leading a very happy life, dreaming of a great future ahead. But their life is shattered when one day, the minister’s brother, Amit (Rohit Roy) and his friend, Wasim (Sahidur Rahaman), rape Supriya. They complain to the police but since Amit is the minister’s brother, he is soon allowed to go scot free. Also, Supriya being blind does not know who has raped her especially because the rapists were clever enough not to utter a word. The investigating police officer (Narendra Jha) and his deputy (Girish Kulkarni) are not at all sympathetic towards Rohan and Supriya. In fact, the deputy of the investigating police officer even accuses Rohan of using his wife to extort money from out of Amit and his rich and influential brother. Rohan finds himself completely handicapped due to the law not being of any help to him. On her part, Supriya offers to leave Rohan as she does not want to be a burden on him.

Then one day, Supriya commits suicide. Rohan is devastated. He gathers his wits and decides to take law into his own hands to avenge the rape and death of his beloved wife. Even as he is contemplating how to go about seeking revenge, he realises something that shakes him terribly. What is it that comes to his knowledge?

Rohan now goes to the police station and throws an open challenge to the investigating police officer that he would seek revenge in his own style. He even forewarns the police that despite this, they (police) would not be able to do anything to him. And then begins Rohan’s revenge. Is he able to get justice for the wrongs perpetrated on his wife? What action does Rohan take and against who all to seek revenge? Is he able to take revenge despite his handicap? If so, how?

Vijay Kumar Mishra has written a story which is quite different from other romantic or revenge stories. The blossoming love between two blind persons who don’t treat blindness as their handicap is heartwarming. The revenge of the visually handicapped Rohan is very exhilarating. The screenplay, penned by Vijay Kumar Mishra, is extremely fast-paced and keeps the audience glued to their seats. The first half is very fast-moving and also entertaining. The revenge drama of the second half is also pretty interesting. However, some people might feel that the modus operandi used by Rohan (not being revealed here) is quite a convenient twist in the tale. Having said that, it must be added that the foundation for Rohan’s modus operandi is laid well in the pre-interval portion and, therefore, would still be acceptable. Besides, the audience roots for Rohan so much that even though the screenplay looks somewhat contrived insofar as the tricks used by Rohan are concerned, the viewers don’t really give that too much importance. For, at the end of the day, the audiences want to see Rohan get justice for his late wife. In fact, the second half’s drama will evoke claps and whistles from the audience for the sheer genius of Rohan. Special mention must be made of the interval sequence in which Rohan openly challenges the police to catch him if they can. That sequence is so outstanding that it will be met with thunderous applause in the cinemas. The scene immediately following that, when Rohan leaves the police station, is also brilliantly conceived to show the attitude which Rohan has now adopted. The film has a fairly good dose of humour, some emotions and a fair dose of action too.

Sanjay Masoom’s dialogues are gems. The dialogues are so outstanding that they will often prompt the viewers to clap loudly.

Hrithik Roshan is extraordinary in the role of Rohan. He has delivered an award-winning performance. Whether as a lover boy or a doting husband or even as the wronged husband, he has done such wonderful work that he deserves the highest praise. He especially needs to be commended for his efforts at voice modulation and mimicry. His dance with girlfriend Supriya is simply outstanding. Yami Gautam looks pretty and plays the blind Supriya beautifully. She looks like the perfect foil to Hrithik. Ronit Roy shines. A man of few words, he underplays his character wonderfully. Rohit Roy lends very good support so that girls would detest him for being the rapist. Narendra Jha is natural to the core and leaves a lasting impression with his acting. As his assistant, Girish Kulkarni is a delight to watch. The man’s wily ways and his mannerisms as also his expressions are to die for. Suresh Menon makes his presence felt. Akhilendra Mishra leaves a mark. Sahidur Rahaman provides able support. Shaji Choudhary is good. Others lend the required support.

Sanjay Gupta’s direction is very good. He has let content prevail over style and that’s a very good thing. Rajesh Roshan’s music is fair. The film should have had at least two or three hit songs. The title song is melodious but doesn’t have the hit quality about it. Musically speaking, the other songs are fair but not hit. The remixed version of old song ‘Saara zamana’ is used to advantage as the vigorous dancing by Urvashi Rautela will be loved by the masses. Lyrics (by Nasir Faraaz and Manoj Muntashir) are nice. Song picturisations (by Ahmed Khan) are eye-filling. Ahmed’s choreography in the dance number picturised on Rohan and Supriya is exceptional. Also wonderful is the choreography of the ‘Saara zamana’ song. Salim-Sulaiman’s background music is exceptionally good. Special mention must be made of sound designer and recordist Resul Pookutty’s work. He has done a swell job of the film’s sound effects. Sudeep Chatterjee and Ayananka Bose’s cinematography is extraordinary. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes and stunts are praiseworthy. Production designing (by Sumit Basu, Snigdha Basu and Rajnish Hedao, of Acropolis) is excellent. Akiv Ali’s editing is superb.

On the whole, Kaabil is an entertaining fare with some great performances. It will do well at the box-office.

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DANGAL

Disney Pictures, UTV Software Communications Ltd. and Aamir Khan Productions’ Dangal is a film about wrestling. It is a biopic of Mahavir Singh Phogat, one of the well-known wrestlers of India, and has a story which is supremely motivational and inspiring.

Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a wrestler who lives in a small town of Haryana and whose dream had been to win a gold medal for India in the international arena. But his dream remained unfulfilled due to reasons beyond his control. His only hope now is that his son would one day fulfil his dream.

As luck would have it, his wife (Sakshi Tanwar) delivers a baby girl. Mahavir is sad because he had hoped that God would bless them with a son. Anyway, the couple has another child but that is also a baby girl. The third and the fourth kids are, likewise, daughters. Mahavir is now convinced that his dream would remain unfulfilled. Even though he loves his daughters very much, he has even over the years never been able to get over the fact that his unrealised dream of a gold medal would remain just that – unrealised.

One day, he sees that his eldest daughter, Geeta (Zaira Wasim), and second daughter, Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar), have beaten the neighbourhood boys black and blue. This sets his mind ticking – he realises that his girls are in no way less than boys and that his daughters could turn his long-cherished dream into reality. From here, he begins rigorously training Geeta and Babita to become wrestlers. The two school-going girls have to bear the brunt of Mahavir Singh’s strict regimen for them and have also to face the taunts and barbs of people around them and in school for daring to venture in a male-dominated sport, that too, in a small town in Haryana. Geeta and Babita are trained so well that they win tournaments even against male wrestlers.

Soon, Geeta (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita (Sanya Malhotra) grow up to become beautiful girls, now raring to go as wrestlers of national repute. Geeta gains entry into the National Sports Academy and begins to train under a new coach (Girish Kulkarni).

What happens thereafter? Does Geeta reach the finals at the Com­monwealth Games? Does she win the gold medal at the CWG and realise the long-cherished dream of her father?

The film, a biopic, is based on a story idea by Divya Rao. The script is penned by Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra. The story is brilliantly inspiring and has so many twists and turns and highs and lows that it keeps the audience’s eyes glued to the screen. The screenplay is absolutely riveting. It has so much to offer that the viewers’ mind cannot wander for even a moment. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it is an almost flawless screenplay from the point of view of the audience.

The first half abounds in light moments even as the strict Mahavir Singh Phogat relentlessly trains his daughters and sees them win at the juniors level. The tension and melodrama begin after interval. While the family drama post-interval tugs at the heart-strings, the tension during the wrestling bouts often leaves the audiences biting their nails and tightening their abdomen muscles. The last about half an hour of the film is so full of drama and tension that the viewers would not want to even blink their eyes if they can help it. The climax has a masterstroke angle to it (when Mahavir Singh Phogat hears a strain of music rent the air) and this will make the audien­ce absolutely euphoric; the weak-hearted may even start crying with joy. Why, people in cinema halls may even stand up during this scene!!

The manner in which the four screenplay writers have woven the track of women empowerment in the drama is veritably remarkable. Two scenes which stand out in this regard are: the one in which Geeta’s friend, at the time of her marriage, tells Geeta and Babita something which gives the two sisters a completely different perspective of things; secondly, the scene in which Mahavir Singh Phogat tells Geeta what she should keep in mind while wrest­ling in the Commonwealth Games final match. Inherently, of course, there is the strong undercurrent of patriotism. These two angles (of women empowerment and patriotism) will ensure that the drama would appeal to people of all age groups and in all strata of society. Women, especially, will not just love the drama but will actually celebrate this film.

Dialogues are absolute gems. Without being overtly long, they are so effective that they invariably touch the heart before reaching the ears. So much is conveyed in such few words that one can’t marvel at the writers’ genius. The dialogues about women empowerment are sensational and often give the audience goosebumps.

Aamir Khan shines in the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat. He is so outstanding in his performance that this could be considered as one of his best works ever. That Aamir put on tons of weight to look the character speaks volumes for his sincerity. But the physical aspects apart, even his acting is so nuanced and so real that one can’t help but shower endless praises on him. There’s not a single scene in which unnecessary focus is sought to be put on Aamir and this speaks a lot for the director’s genius as well as for Aamir’s sense of fair play. One gets a hint of this all through the film but it comes out loud and clear in the climax. Fatima Sana Shaikh makes an excellent debut as the grown-up Geeta Phogat. She looks very pretty and gives her cent per cent to the role. Her scenes of wrestling are lovely. Sanya Malhotra is superb in the role of the grown-up Babita Phogat. She is also very impressive in her debut role and has a supremely expressive face. Her wrestling scenes are also wonderful. As the young Geeta, Zaira Wasim is first-rate, debuting with unbelievable confidence. As the young Babita, Suhani Bhatnagar is cute and extraordinary in her acting. Both, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, also shine in their wrestling scenes. Sakshi Tanwar is just too brilliant as Mahavir’s wife. Her expressions are to die for and her reactions are outstanding. Girish Kulkarni plays the NSA coach to perfection and makes his character detestable, which is what is required. His expressions are so understated that it is a delight to watch him act. Aparshakti Khurana lends admirable support as the grown-up Omkar, nephew of Mahavir Singh Phogat. His acting is so natural! Ritvik Sahore is also terrific as the young Omkar. Shishir Sharma leaves a mark as the head of department of the NSA. Badrul Islam has his moments as the chicken shop owner. Vivan Bhathena (as Mahavir’s office colleague), Anurag Arora (as Mahavir’s brother), Sumit Khanna (as Mahavir’s boss), master Anmol Char­an (as little Omkar), Jagbir Rathee (as the government officer in charge of sports funds), Gurpreet Toti (as the video parlour guy) and the others lend fantastic support. A word here about Mukesh Chhabra’s casting: he has done a tremendous job of the casting.

Nitesh Tiwari’s direction is amazingly terrific. His narrative style is so simple that even the Haryanvi language spoken by the characters in the film does not come in the way of conveying the drama to the audience in just the way it should be conveyed. He has extracted great work from out of all his actors. Also, there is so much maturity in his narrative style that he may well pick up awards for his direction. Pritam’s music is in terrific synch with the mood of the drama. ‘Dangal dangal’ is a very inspiring song and will soon become a rage. ‘Dhaakad’ and ‘Haanikarak’ are also very well-tuned. The ‘Gilehariyaan’ song has terrific charm of a different kind. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are great. The song writer may pick up some awards for his lyrics. Bosco-Caesar’s choreography is very real. Pritam’s background music deserves distinction marks. It heightens the impact of the dramatic and wrestling scenes to a different level altogether. The ‘He-e-e-e-e-y’ sound in the background score to underline moments of euphoria is masterly. Setu’s camerawork is just too wonderful. He has captured the wrestling scenes excellently. He has also captured the drama with phenomenal clarity. Wrestling choreography by Kripashankar Patel Bishnoi (who also trained the actors in wrestling) is truly extraordinary. Not once does the audience feel that the wrestling bouts are not real. Sham Kaushal’s action is very good. Production design by Laxmi Keluskar and Sandeep Meher is amazing. Ballu Saluja’s editing is super-sharp and crisp as ever.

On the whole, Dangal is not just a movie; it is an experience to be cherished. It is extremely engaging, brilliantly entertaining and phenomenally patrio­tic in its feel. It is as much a film for the young as for the old, as much for the classes as for the masses, as much for the city audience as for the viewers in small towns and villages, as much for the rich as for the poor, as much for the multiplex audience as for the single-screen cinema audience, as much for the men as for the women. It has special appeal for the ladies and it has terrific repeat value. To say that it will prove to be a blockbuster is to state the obvious. The film is destined to be one of the biggest blockbusters of Indian cinema. In fact, it can turn out to be THE BIGGEST BLOCKBUSTER EVER!

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MOH MAYA MONEY

Delhi Talkies’ Moh Maya Money (UA) is the story of a middle-class couple living in Delhi, and their greed.

Aman (Ranvir Shorey) and Divya (Neha Dhupia) are a married couple leading a middle-class life in Delhi. Aman works for a real estate company while Divya works in a media company. Aman is fed up of being middle-class and wants to become rich and live in luxury. He, therefore, often cheats his company to make quick money. In one such deal, he borrows money from Raghuveer (Devendra Chowhan) and invests that money to book a plot of land to build a home for himself and wife Divya. But his boss (Sandeep Narula) gets to know of Aman cheating the company and he sacks him from the job.

While Aman shows Divya the plot of land he has booked, he does not reveal anything about the loss of job to her. When Raghuveer asks Aman to return his money, Aman is in a fix. Raghuveer threatens Aman and even has him beaten up by his goons when he doesn’t return the money on the promised date.

Aman tries to borrow money against his life insurance policy but the insurance company refuses. It is then that Aman decides to fake his death so that his wife could claim money from the life insurance company. Divya is against the plan but finally gets sucked into it when he carries it out. While himself escaping in a stage-managed car accident, Aman ensures that the police find a charred body in his car. Divya identifies the burnt body as Aman’s.

Even as Divya is awaiting the cheque from the insurance company, she is shocked to learn of something horrifying from the police station. Meanwhile, Divya herself has done things which shock Aman. What are the horrifying facts which Divya gets to know due to her visit to the police station to collect the proofs of Aman’s ‘death’ in the accident? What are the actions of Divya, which shock Aman?

Munish Bhardwaj has written a story which has plenty of turns and twists and which is pretty intriguing. The story is so engrossing that the audience remains engaged in it right from the start till the end. The screenplay, written by Munish Bhardwaj and Mansi Nirmal Jain, is entertaining and engaging. It moves at a fast pace and doesn’t give time to the viewers to think. Yes, there are a couple of weak links like Aman objecting to Divya’s abortion, calling it the murder of his unborn child, which looks silly as he himself is guilty of another murder. Likewise, Divya is ready to walk out on Aman because he had not told her about being sacked from his job. But it later turns out that Divya herself has hidden a lot from Aman. Why later, even around the same time as Aman losing his job, Divya is shown to be preparing to go to Hong Kong for official work, without taking Aman into confidence. However, despite these lapses, the screenplay is well-written and very fast-moving. Dialogues, penned by Munish Bhardwaj and Mansi Nirmal Jain, with additional dialogues by Ranvir Shorey, are realistic and effective.

Ranvir Shorey lives the role of the unscrupulous Aman who can go to any lengths to make fast money. He makes the character very believable by his natural acting. Neha Dhupia is also excellent as Divya. She plays the scheming wife with such finesse that you marvel at her ease in front of the camera. Vidushi Mehra lends very good support as Bhavana whom Divya meets and befriends at the police station. Ashwath Bhat makes his presence felt as Divya’s colleague, Kabir. Devendra Chowhan leaves a mark as Raghuveer. Anant Raina is good as upcoming film director Rohan. Sandeep Nirula (as Aman’s boss), Priya Tandon (as Jiya), Sagar Jha and Pramod Kumar (both as Raghuveer’s goons) and Bittoo Ishwar Chhabra (as the cop at Kasauli) provide excellent support. Prateek Asnani (as Roy), Haneef Menon (as the accountant), Vaani Pahwa (as the doctor) and Srikant Verma (as the Delhi cop) are adequate. Others do as desired.

Munish Bhardwaj’s direction is very nice. His narration affords no time or gives no reason to the audiences to think or even let their thoughts wan­der. Harpreet Singh’s music and Varun Grover’s lyrics are appropriate. Tuomas Kantelinen’s background music is nice. Arun Varma’s camerawork is good. Shoumini Ghosh Roy and Dhruv Satija’s art direction is effective. Editing (Hitesh Kumar) is crisp.

On the whole, Moh Maya Money is a well-made and an interesting film which boasts of lovely performances. It would still not fetch returns because of lack of promotion and, therefore, a very dull start.

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DEAR ZINDAGI

Red Chillies Entertainment, Dharma Productions and Hope Productions’ Dear Zindagi (UA) is the story of a girl suffering from depression and how she gets cured of it.

Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is an upcoming cinematographer, very good at her work. She has shot many ad films and is keen to now shoot a full-length feature film, having so far only filled in for a cameraman who may have taken ill. Kaira has been into relationships but they’ve always ended in break-ups. While Kaira lives in Bombay, her parents live in Goa. The very thought of going to Goa to spend time with her father and mother puts her off. In fact, she can barely make telephone conversations with them.

Kaira tries to put on a brave front but it is clear that she is not a very happy person. Just recently, she has had a break-up with Sid (Angad Bedi) because she confesses to him that she has slept with her colleague, film director Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor).

Shortly thereafter, Raghuvendra gives her the good news that he would be directing a film to be shot in the USA and that he had selected her as its cinematographer. Raghuvendra flies to the USA for initial discussions and Kaira is due to join him later. Once he reaches the USA, Raghuvendra’s silence is quite unnerving for Kaira but soon, her friend, Fatima (Ira Dubey), informs her that Raghuvendra has gotten engaged to be married to another girl.

Kaira, who had been due to visit her parents in Goa, does so now because she has cancelled her plans to shoot Raghuvendra’s film in the US. In Goa, the strained relations between Kaira and her parents are very obvious even though her mother and father try their level best to make her feel comfortable and wanted in Goa. Kaira often spends time with her close friend, Jackie (Yashaswini R. Dayama), who is from Bombay but also happens to be in Goa while she (Kaira) has come visiting her parents.

One day, quite by chance, Kaira meets psychiatrist Dr. Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) in Goa. Embarrassed to talk openly to him about her depression, which doesn’t let her be a happy person, she approaches Dr. Khan with her problems as if they were the problems of a friend. Dr. Khan is so understanding and endearing that he soon wins Kaira’s confidence. Before she knows it, Kaira has become Dr. Khan’s patient, coming regularly for sittings with him. Dr. Khan is able not only to identify Kaira’s problems but also to help her get over them.

What are Kaira’s problems? And how does she battle them? Do her strained relations with her parents improve?

Gauri Shinde, Krishna Hariharan and Kausar Munir have penned an unusual story about a girl suffering from depression and who musters the courage to seek a cure for the same in a society which tries to push such illnesses under the carpet. The story starts on a good note and engages the audiences for two reasons – it is different, and most of Kaira’s friends are as interesting as Kaira herself. Even when the drama shifts from Bombay to Goa, the interest level of the viewers doesn’t dip because the tension between Kaira and her family members becomes the focal point.

It is only after Kaira meets Dr. Jehangir Khan and starts to have regular consultations with him that the story dips at several places because the conversations between Kaira and Dr. Khan are too technical, philosophical and, therefore, even boring and repetitive.

The writing trio’s screenplay is fast-paced and entertaining as long as the focus is on Kaira’s pro­fession and friends. Once the scene shifts to Goa, the audience is at first unable to understand what Kaira’s problem with her family is, and therefore, doesn’t feel as engaged as it has so far felt. While the screenplay once again consumes the viewers when Dr. Jehangir Khan is introduced in the drama, it dips when Kaira keeps visiting him and pouring her heart out. The dysfunctionalities of Kaira’s family depress the audiences and although they sympathise with her, they don’t feel very nice about her condition. While this is how it should be, the drama becomes too dry and even boring sometimes for the audience’s liking. The film then becomes a highly class-appealing film because all the philosophical talk between Kaira and Dr. Khan would interest only the gentry and city audiences. Further, since many people in India, who suffer from depression, don’t even address the issue and are probably not even aware that they are suffering, the drama would not make much sense to them. This is not to say that Dr. Jehangir Khan’s portion is completely boring. No, the interactions between Kaira and Dr. Khan have their cute and fun moments but they also have their depressing, repetitive and philosophical moments, which tend to bore even the target audience, the classes.

Kaira’s brief affair in Goa with Rumi (Ali Zafar) is, again, a boring episode in the screenplay. The climax is interesting, engaging and subtle. Dialogues, penned by Gauri Shinde, Krishna Hariharan and Kausar Munir, are very entertaining albeit class-appealing.

Alia Bhatt is exceptionally good as Kaira. She lives the difficult role and delivers an award-winning performance in a character that has so many shades. If she is outstanding in light scenes, she is also remarkable in the emotional ones. Shah Rukh Khan does a fantastic job as Dr. Jehangir Khan. He is so restrained in the role that it is a delight to watch him play Dr. Khan. Kunal Kapoor leaves a fine mark as Raghuvendra. Ira Dubey is brilliant as Fatima. Yashaswini R. Dayama is outstanding in the role of Jackie. Gautmik has his moments as Ganju. Ali Zafar is quite good as Rumi. Angad Bedi does a fair job in the brief role of Sid. Atul Kale (as Kaira’s father), Aban Deohans (as Kaira’s mother), Yashwant Singh (as Kaira’s uncle) and Salone Mehta (as aunt of Kaira) lend excellent support. Aditya Roy Kapur makes his presence felt in a tiny guest appearance. Rohit Saraf leaves a mark as Kaira’s brother, Kiddo. Baby Dishita Sehgal (as little Kaira) and master Amit Nagraj (as little Kiddo) are effective. Aashish Bhatia (as NRI Suresh), Nitika Anand (as family friend), Martha Xavier Fernandes (as Kaira’s maternal grandmother), Madhav Vaze (as Kaira’s maternal grandfather) and Aakanksha Chandrakant Gade (as maid Alka) are adequate.

Gauri Shinde’s direction is sensitive but she seems to have gone by the assumption that everyone would understand the meaning and implications of mental depression, which is not true. By its very nature, the drama holds appeal for a limited audience only. Music (Amit Trivedi) ought to have been nothing less than hit in a film like this, with a heavy second half. The ‘Love you zindagi’ song is appealing but the other songs, though fairly well-tuned, are not too popular. Kausar Munir’s lyrics are appropriate. Feroz Khan’s choreography is suited to the film. Amit Trivedi’s background music is quite nice. Laxman Utekar’s cinematography is outstanding. Rupin Su­chak’s production designing is of a fine standard. Hemanti Sarkar’s editing is sharp. But how one wishes, the script itself had been far more concise; a two-hour film instead of the two-and-a-half-hour film it is, would have been a big plus for it.

On the whole, Dear Zindagi is a film for the gentry and will do well mainly in the premium multiplexes of the big cities. Its business in lesser multiplexes, single-screen cinemas and other cities and towns will, generally speaking, be below the mark. Considering the cost of the film’s making, promotion and release (excluding Shah Rukh Khan’s fee which he has not charged), its entire investment has already been recovered from non-theatrical revenues. Therefore, it is a foregone conclusion that the producers will reap a fantastic harvest as every rupee of share from India (all-India distribution rights pre-sold to one company) and Overseas will go towards profit. For the all-India distributor, the film would prove to be just a safe bet. The film will do very well Overseas.

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