BEYOND THE CLOUDS

Zee Studios and Namah Pictures’ Beyond The Clouds (UA) is the story of two siblings.

Amir (Ishaan Khatter) is a drugs carrier, delivering drugs to different places. One day, the police give chase to Amir and his accomplice. The two run for their lives. Amir, who has a packet of white powder with him, reaches the chawl in which his sister lives, hides the packet there and escapes. The sister, Tara (Malavika Mohanan), troubled about his profession, has always been asking him to leave the world of crime. Tara herself has separated from her abusive husband and works for Akshi (Gautam Ghose) who lusts for her. It is later revealed that Tara sells her body to make both ends meet.

Akshi tries to act fresh with Tara the next day when she asks him for the white powder packet which she had handed over to him for safe-keeping. In a fit of rage, Tara hits him so hard on the head with an object that he gets seriously injured. A bleeding Akshi lands in hospital while a weeping Tara is sent to jail. Amir is distraught, even more when he learns that Tara will have to serve life imprisonment if Akshi dies due to the attack by Tara.

It now becomes Amir’s bounden duty to ensure that Akshi gets the best possible medical care. He ends up paying for the medicines of his sister’s tormentor and even giving Akshi’s family, which has come to Bombay from his village, space in his own house.

What happens thereafter? Does Akshi survive or does he die in the hospital? Does Amir succeed in securing Tara’s freedom?

Majid Majidi’s story is both, interesting and engaging. The humane drama touches the heart but its slow pace and realistic atmosphere make it one for the elite audience only. Al­ though it is the story of the underbelly of Bombay, the style in which it has been written makes it more appealing for the classes in the cities. The ending is not just abrupt but it is also abstract and would leave the viewers confused, making it even more unappealing for the masses.

The screenplay, written by Majid Majidi and Mehran Kashani, is excellent but having said that, it must be added, it would be liked by a section of the audience only. The dilemma of the concerned Amir is beautifully brought out as he finds himself tend­ing to the very man whom he would rather want dead but whose death could spell disaster for his imprisoned sister. The scene in which Amir can’t hold back his emotions and reveals all to Akshi’s mother and kids is absolutely brilliant. Equally excellent are the scenes between Amir and Tara in jail. A couple of chase and action scenes are also wonderful. On the other hand, the film shows so much of poverty and squalor that it depresses the viewers.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are weighty, yet simple.

Ishaan Khatter is a big star in the making. His performance is so extraordinary and easy-going that it is difficult to believe, this is his debut film. He has a wonderful screen presence, and acts superbly, that too, with effortless ease. He dances very gracefully. He has a good voice, and his dialogue delivery is lovely. Malavika Mohanan shines in the role of Tara. She does an extremely fine job. She is also natural to the core. Gautam Ghose lends tremendous support as Akshi. GV Sharada plays Akshi’s mother with all the conviction at her command and makes the character quite noteworthy. Dhwani Rajesh is extremely likeable as Akshi’s elder daughter. Baby Amruta Santosh Thakur (as Akshi’s younger daughter) and master Shivam Pujari (as Tara’s little friend in jail) provide very good support. Tannishtha Chatt­erjee lends excellent support as Tara’s jail partner. Akash (as Amir’s friend, Anil) is natural to the core. Shashank Shende provides decent support as pimp Rahul. Others are effective.

Majid Majidi’s direction is excellent. His shot takings are terrific and his lighting of the shots is remarkable. He has shot the film on real locations, and that gives the film a lot of raw energy. A.R. Rahman’s music score is good but his background score is superb. M.C. Heam’s rap lyrics are fine. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is award-winning. He has been able to capture the emotions of the drama as well as the ambience wonderfully well. Amaar Shetty’s action scenes are just too real. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing and Planet D’s art direction are splendid. Hassan Hassandoost’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Beyond The Clouds is a beautifully shot and beautifully made human drama with some sterling performances. But it has limited appeal at the box-office because of the way in which it has been treated. Its difficult English title and lack of recognisable faces will further restrict its commercial chances. The film will do well in select high-end multiplexes of a few cities only. It will, however, win a lot of critical acclaim.

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OCTOBER

Rising Sun Films and Kino Works’ October is an unusual love story.

Dan (Varun Dhawan) and Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu) are interns in a five-star hotel. Alongwith other friends like Ishani (Isha Chaturvedi) and Manjeet (Sahil Vadoliya), they make a happy group. But like in every group, there are all kinds. Dan is a restless guy, raring to go. He feels bogged down by the mundane work his boss, Asthana (Prateek Kapoor), gives him, probably due to his (Dan’s) arrogance and irreverence. Shiuli is a conscientious and sincere worker.

One evening, the group of friends is partying by the hotel poolside on the third floor. Since Dan is not around, Shiuli casually asks the other friends where Dan was. Just then, she tries to sit on the parapet, loses her balance and falls to the ground floor in the hotel compound. Although she survives the horrendous accident, she slips into a coma.

Dan, like all the other friends, is shocked. Again, like all the other pals, he visits Shiuli in the hospital ICU. But he feels a strange connection with her as he gets very rattled on seeing her with tubes in her body. Then, Dan gets to know that Shiuli had enquired about him just before falling down. This makes him feel even more responsible towards her. His friends try to convince him that her question about his whereabouts was casual but Dan takes it upon himself to look after her and care for her, becoming a strong pillar of support for Shiuli’s family comprising her widowed mother, Prof. Vidya Iyer (Gitanjali Rao), younger sister, Kaveri (Iteeva Pandey), and younger brother, Kunal (Karamveer Kanwar). So consumed is Dan with caring for Shiuli, whose chances of survival are very low, that he starts neglecting his work and is ultimately dismissed from duty. And all this only because Shiuli had asked about him before falling down from the third floor.

What happens thereafter? Does Shiuli come out of the coma? Is Shiuli in love with Dan? Does Dan love Shiuli?

Juhi Chaturvedi has penned a heartfelt story about a young man selflessly looking after his friend even at the cost of his job. Not many boys would risk their job and their future for a girl who may be dying and who is not even a girlfriend but when Dan does this, he makes one think what’s wrong in being a caring friend. In other words, although everyone thinks in practical terms and moves on in such cases, Dan’s refusal to move on makes the viewers feel that it is not necessary that what the majority does is always right. In fact, the beauty of Juhi Chaturvedi’s story is that it doesn’t paint Dan as wrong or right – and consequently, it also doesn’t show his other more practical pals to be right or wrong! But the story does make the audiences wonder, question themselves and, most importantly, fall in love with Dan and his devotion.

Juhi Chaturvedi’s screenplay is, of course, very class-appealing, moving at a leisurely pace, but it does tug at the heart-strings. The screenplay gets depressing at times but it is also emotional and heartwarming. The weak-hearted may end up crying at a couple of places, especially in the end. A very positive point about the screenplay is that it infuses humour into the otherwise serious drama, giving the audience relief and reason to smile or even laugh at times. No doubt, the masses will not at all be able to enjoy the very slow-paced drama as it oscillates between depressing and emotional but the classes and a section of the audiences in the big cities will be floored by the character of Dan so much that they will love the drama.

Juhi Chaturvedi’s dialogues are very realistic. The funny ones are splendid while the other dialogues touch the heart. Even when the family is discussing whether they should allow Shiuli’s ventilator to be switched off (her paternal uncle is in favour of that), the humour stands in stark contrast to the depressing thought, giving the audience a novel experience.

All in all, Juhi Chaturvedi deserves praise for writing an extremely difficult script so beautifully.

Varun Dhawan is splendid in the role of Dan. His performance has so much honesty and integrity that he makes the character of Dan extremely endearing. At several points in the film, the viewer would feel like simply hugging Varun for making Dan so lovable. Credit to Varun for essaying the role with so much restraint because he has the image of a happy-go-lucky and over-the-top youngster who is boisterous and brash. Banita Sandhu makes an impressive debut in the role of Shiuli Iyer. She does full justice to her character. Gitanjali Rao slips into the character of Shiuli’s distraught mother, Prof. Vidya Iyer, and delivers a very mature performance. Ashish Ghosh makes his presence felt as Dr. Ghosh. Isha Chaturvedi is first-rate as Ishani. Sahil Vadoliya lends tremendous support as Manjeet. Prateek Kapoor shines in the role of Dan’s boss, Asthana. Nimmi Raphael has her moments as Sister Grace. Shekhar Murugan is very natural as Shiuli’s paternal uncle, Jairam Iyer. Iteeva Pandey (as Kaveri) and Karamveer Kanwar (as Kunal) are natural as Shiuli’s siblings. Rachica Oswal leaves a mark in the role of Dan’s mother. Nilanjana Banerjee, Sudeep Singh and Dr. Poonam Solanki (all three as doctors), Anshul Thakur (as Adi), Anmol, Caroline, Mishele Samrat, Maaz, Alex and Eran (all six as interns), Mala Gopal (as head nurse), Rajveer Khanna (as Akash Sarin), Nitika Anand (as Akash Sarin’s wife), Papori Medhi (as Maajda, the maid), Nikhil Dewan (as the senior in the laundry department), Niresh Kumar (as the parking security man), Mohammed Shoeb (as the general manager of the hotel), Shishendu Banerjee (as the senior manager of the hotel), Gaurav Mehta (as the banquet manager), Dr. Debabrata Mukhopadhyay (as the neuro surgeon), Javed (as the guard outside the neuro ICU), Vipin Katyal (as the night watchman at the hospital), Kumar Thakur (as the man outside the hospital in the night), Vibhuti Tomar (as the hospital receptionist) and the others lend very good support.

Shoojit Sircar’s direction is supremely sensitive. Rather than resorting to melodrama, he tells his story in a very understated manner. He very beautifully drives home the point that being practical in life is right but getting carried away by your emotions may also not always be wrong. There are no songs in the film – and that’s a minus point. However, there’s a song in the end credit titles and there are other promotional songs, composed by Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy and Abhishek Arora. The pleasing music is in synch with the film’s mood. Lyrics (by Swanand Kirkire, Tanveer Ghazi and Abhiruchi Chand) are im­pactful. Shantanu Moitra’s background music is very effective. Avik Mukhopa­dhyay’s cinematography is lovely. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing is appropriate and suitably understated. Chandrashekhar Prajapati’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, October has class appeal but it has enough soul to touch many hearts and reach the winning post at the box-office, more so because its entire investment (cost of production plus cost of promotion, publicity and marketing) has been recovered completely from non-theatrical sources (satellite, digital, audio rights). Public reports will vary from boring to very sensitive but it will appeal to the target audience and do fair business at the ticket windows in the final tally. It may have started slow but collections will pick up, especially in good multiplexes and big cities. Business in small centres and mass-frequented single-screen cinemas as also in lesser multiplexes will, of course, be very dull.

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Salman Khan’s 5-Year Jail Sentence – What Does It Mean In Monetary Terms?

The question uppermost in the minds of the trade people today is: What if Salman Khan has to serve the five-year jail term pronounced by the Jodhpur court on 5th April in the endangered blackbuck hunting case? What will be the loss to the film industry if one of the biggest superstars of our times is in prison for the next five years?

First and foremost, the case is not as hopeless as it seems to be. The order of the court can be appealed against and it is anybody’s guess that Salman’s lawyers will appeal against it. In fact, while moving his bail application on 6th in the sessions court in Jodhpur, Salman’s lawyers also prayed for suspension of the sentence. The arguments for bail were heard by the sessions court but the judge said, he would pronounce his order the next day (7th, today). However, the transfer order for the district and sessions judge, along with 86 other judges, came on 6th evening. Therefore, Salman may be granted bail on Monday, April 9, instead of today (7th) as the new judge may take charge after a couple of days. Salman’s lawyers will then appeal against his conviction. Even if one were to assume that the first appeal would not be allowed, Salman can further appeal right upto the time he reaches the Supreme Court. This process could take many years.

Taking a look at Salman Khan’s film assignments, he has only one film – Race 3 – on the sets currently. Almost the entire work of Salman in the multi-star-cast film is complete. All he needs to shoot now is a song and, perhaps, a couple of patchwork shots. His dubbing is also still to be done. If Salman is granted early bail – which seems very likely – he can easily complete his part of the shooting for Race 3 in less than a month. Even otherwise, the film’s shooting would have to be completed very soon because its release has been scheduled for June 15 (Eid week). After the shooting, the stars of the film would need to complete their respective dubbing. Salman may not need more than a week to finish his dubbing, even if he dubs at a leisurely pace. With around Rs. 125 crore invested in Race 3, it can be said that that’s the money riding on the actor right now.

Luckily, all the other films, Salman has been signed for, are in the pre-production stage. That is to say, their shootings haven’t begun. In other words, there would be no continuity problems for these films, which would’ve been the case had Salman shot partly for them. In case Salman has to serve his sentence very soon (again, very unlikely), the three films he was committed to doing – Dabangg 3, Bharat and Kick 2 – will not start. So far, time rather than money has been invested in the three aforenamed films – time has been spent on scripting the films and other pre-production work. In case other actors have been signed for any or all the three films, that’s not a big deal because the signing amounts paid to them can always be adjusted in other films or asked to be returned.

But what will film business be like, without Salman starrers hitting the screens? Salman’s films mostly prove to be blockbusters at the ticket windows. Whether it was Tiger Zinda Hai in 2017 or Sultan in 2016 or even Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015, his films invariably set the cash registers ringing. With the exception of Tubelight last year and Jai Ho in 2014 (the same year in which Salman delivered the blockbuster, Kick), all Salman’s films from 2010 have brought in tons of money at the turnstiles. Of the 12 films of Salman released in the last seven years, seven have been 100-crore-plus films (including Ek Tha Tiger which was Rs. 1 crore short of the 200-crore mark), two have been 200-crore-plus films, and three (Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai) have crossed the 300-crore mark.

Salman Khan usually has two releases every year. This year (2018), he will have just one release, Race 3. But he had planned three releases in 2019 – Dabangg 3, Bharat and Kick 2. Of his last four released films, three have been 300-crore-plus fares. Hence, it would be safe to assume that he would contribute at least Rs. 300 crore (net) (or, Rs. 400 crore gross, after adding 28% GST) to the box-office in 2018. In 2019, even if two of his three releases were to be 300-crore-plus fares and the third, a 200-crore-plus film, his contribution to the box-office could safely be assumed to be upwards of Rs. 900 crore (net) or Rs. 1,150 crore (gross), at least! In 2020, 2021 and 2022, he would easily generate revenue of Rs. 600 crore (net) or, in other words, Rs. 750 crore (gross) per year if he were to have two releases each year. Taking into account inflation, his contribution to the box-office from 2018 to 2022 would, therefore, be Rs. 3,800 to Rs. 4,000 crore!! That is the loss Bollywood is looking at if Salman were to not get bail.

Of course, that’s an eventuality that may never arise. But the calculations above show the worth of Salman Khan at the box-office. After all, he is probably the only superstar, besides Aamir Khan, to bring in huge numbers at the ticket windows in film after film.

In the above calculations, one has not even considered the Overseas box-office collections of his films. One has also not taken into account the revenues from sale of satellite rights, digital rights and audio rights of the nine or ten films he will deliver till 2022. The gross figure for Overseas business of his films could be an equivalent of Rs. 1,500 crore, and for satellite, digital and audio rights, another Rs. 1,500 crore. This means, if Salman is not behind bars, he may end up contributing approximately Rs. 7,000 crore to the film industry (Indian box-office Rs. 4,000 crore, Overseas box-office Rs. 1,500 crore, non-theatrical revenues Rs. 1,500 crore).

Thank God for Salman’s impending bail application! Once bail is granted, the actor will ensure that Bollywood is in the pink of health. After all, if he can single-handedly bring in Rs. 7,000 crore from his films in the next five years, he is precious. Since Bollywood has just a couple of superstars like him, Salman Khan is actually the endangered species.

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MISSING

Anand Pandit Motion Pictures, Sri Adhikari Brothers, Manoj Bajpayee Productions Pvt. Ltd., Friday Filmworks and Abundantia Entertainment’s Missing (UA) is a suspense thriller.

A couple, Sushant Dubey (Manoj Bajpayee) and Aparna (Tabu), check in into a beach resort in Mauritius with daughter Titli, on a holiday-cum-work trip. Titli gets kidnapped on the first night itself. Aparna is distraught and telephones the police even though a more composed Sushant has dissuaded her from calling the police.

Investigating officer Ramkhilawan Buddhu (Anu Kapoor) of the Mauritius Police feels that there is something which the couple is trying to hide during investigations and questioning. Is Sushant talking lies or is Aparna the liar? Who has kidnapped Titli?

Mukul Abhyankar has written a suspense story which has some moments of intrigue but once the suspense of Titli becomes somewhat clear to the audiences, the only question that remains in their minds is: why? Even though the viewers sense the truth about Titli, the revelation is made in the end only – that’s not the most desirable way of penning a suspense drama. Mukul Abhyankar’s screenplay has flashes of intrigue and thrill but they are few and far between. Two points which are giveaways are: the behaviour of both, Aparna and Sushant, is not exactly what one expects when one’s daughter has gone missing, and so, the audience understands quite early on that there is something amiss here; secondly, the police investigation is often so laidback and slow-paced that the viewers are even more convinced that there is something that’s being hidden from them. Frankly, the audience and the police officials ought to have been on the same side but the police investigations give the audience the feeling that the police were aware of the truth – which, of course, is not the case! In other words, the screenplay is not too well written. Even otherwise, a suspense thriller is best enjoyed when the pace is super-fast and the audience doesn’t get time to think but in this case, the viewers have all the time in the world to let their minds wander. Resultantly, the viewers think not just what the writer would want them to think but a lot more than that. The climax is not very convincing and doesn’t leave the audience satisfied enough. Of course, some turns and twists do come as shocks but they are not enough for a suspense thriller. Mukul Abhyankar’s dialogues are alright.

Manoj Bajpayee is good, generally speaking, but to see such a fine actor overacting in some scenes is not a very good thing. He goes overboard in some scenes. Tabu’s performance is nice but even her acting in some scenes gives the impression that she was in a hurry to complete them. Anu Kapoor is effective as police officer Ramkhilawan Buddhu but that’s only when he doesn’t overact. Rajesh Jais (as police officer Ganga Narayan) and Ashu Sharma (as police officer Nandlal) lend fair support. Priyanka Setia (as Naina, the receptionist on night duty) provides excellent support. Shruti Gupta (as the receptionist on day duty) makes her presence felt. Navin Kaushik is nice as the hotel manager. Kali Prasad is okay as the suspicious guest at the resort. Others are alright.

Mukul Abhyankar’s direction is fair. M.M. Kreem’s music and background score are okay. Lyrics (Manoj Muntashir) are good. Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is lovely. Sets (Aariz Naqvi) are appropriate. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is impactful.

On the whole, Missing has very limited appeal and given its low promotion and slow start, it will go largely unnoticed.

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MISSING

Anand Pandit Motion Pictures, Sri Adhikari Brothers, Manoj Bajpayee Productions Pvt. Ltd., Friday Filmworks and Abundantia Entertainment’s Missing (UA) is a suspense thriller.

A couple, Sushant Dubey (Manoj Bajpayee) and Aparna (Tabu), check in into a beach resort in Mauritius with daughter Titli, on a holiday-cum-work trip. Titli gets kidnapped on the first night itself. Aparna is distraught and telephones the police even though a more composed Sushant has dissuaded her from calling the police.

Investigating officer Ramkhilawan Buddhu (Anu Kapoor) of the Mauritius Police feels that there is something which the couple is trying to hide during investigations and questioning. Is Sushant talking lies or is Aparna the liar? Who has kidnapped Titli?

Mukul Abhyankar has written a suspense story which has some moments of intrigue but once the suspense of Titli becomes somewhat clear to the audiences, the only question that remains in their minds is: why? Even though the viewers sense the truth about Titli, the revelation is made in the end only – that’s not the most desirable way of penning a suspense drama. Mukul Abhyankar’s screenplay has flashes of intrigue and thrill but they are few and far between. Two points which are giveaways are: the behaviour of both, Aparna and Sushant, is not exactly what one expects when one’s daughter has gone missing, and so, the audience understands quite early on that there is something amiss here; secondly, the police investigation is often so laidback and slow-paced that the viewers are even more convinced that there is something that’s being hidden from them. Frankly, the audience and the police officials ought to have been on the same side but the police investigations give the audience the feeling that the police were aware of the truth – which, of course, is not the case! In other words, the screenplay is not too well written. Even otherwise, a suspense thriller is best enjoyed when the pace is super-fast and the audience doesn’t get time to think but in this case, the viewers have all the time in the world to let their minds wander. Resultantly, the viewers think not just what the writer would want them to think but a lot more than that. The climax is not very convincing and doesn’t leave the audience satisfied enough. Of course, some turns and twists do come as shocks but they are not enough for a suspense thriller. Mukul Abhyankar’s dialogues are alright.

Manoj Bajpayee is good, generally speaking, but to see such a fine actor overacting in some scenes is not a very good thing. He goes overboard in some scenes. Tabu’s performance is nice but even her acting in some scenes gives the impression that she was in a hurry to complete them. Anu Kapoor is effective as police officer Ramkhilawan Buddhu but that’s only when he doesn’t overact. Rajesh Jais (as police officer Ganga Narayan) and Ashu Sharma (as police officer Nandlal) lend fair support. Priyanka Setia (as Naina, the receptionist on night duty) provides excellent support. Shruti Gupta (as the receptionist on day duty) makes her presence felt. Navin Kaushik is nice as the hotel manager. Kali Prasad is okay as the suspicious guest at the resort. Others are alright.

Mukul Abhyankar’s direction is fair. M.M. Kreem’s music and background score are okay. Lyrics (Manoj Muntashir) are good. Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is lovely. Sets (Aariz Naqvi) are appropriate. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is impactful.

On the whole, Missing has very limited appeal and given its low promotion and slow start, it will go largely unnoticed.

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BLACKMAIL

T-Series and RDP Motion Pictures’ Blackmail (UA), as the title suggests, is a film about blackmailing.

Dev Kaushal (Irrfan Khan) lives with his wife, Reena (Kirti Kulhari), and works in DK’s (Omi Vaidya) company which manufactures toilet paper rolls. Invariably, Dev sits till late in the office, playing video games if there’s no work. He always informs his wife, via a message on the mobile phone, before leaving the office for home. However, one day, Dev reaches home much ahead of his usual time, that too, without sending Reena a text message. He is shocked to find wife Reena in bed with another man (Arunoday Singh).

Dev finds out that his wife’s lover is Ranjit Arora who is the husband of Dolly Verma (Divya Dutta). Rather than confront Ranjit Arora or Reena, Dev starts blackmailing Ranjit. He buys a new cell phone and sends Ranjit a text message, demanding extortion money, threatening to spill the beans of his extra-marital affair before his wife, Dolly Verma. Dev does this as he is in need of money to meet his monthly expenses. Ranjit has no option but to oblige. And this demand for extortion money continues.

Soon, Reena also gets a similar blackmail message. She has no option but to take money from husband Dev to pay the blackmailer. Of course, she lies to Dev that she needs the money for the medical tests and surgery of her ailing father. After the first payment, the blackmailer’s extortion messages continue.

In a weaker moment, Dev confides in his colleague, Anand Tripathi (Pradhuman Singh Mall), and tells him how he had been blackmailing his wife’s paramour. In a drunken state, Anand tells colleague Prabha (Anuja Sathe) on a date, how her boss, Dev Kaushal, was blackmailing his own wife’s lover. Cunning and opportunistic as she is, Prabha now starts blackmailing Dev, threatening to spill the beans about his blackmailing tactics to his wife, Reena.

A stage comes when Ranjit Arora hires the services of a private detective, Chawla (Gajraj Rao), to pin down his blackmailer. The blackmailing drama also soon becomes a police case as it gets very complicated.

What happens thereafter? How does the blackmail drama stop?

Parveez Shaikh has written an intelligent story about deceit and blackmail. Since it moves at a fairly fast pace and many things are not underlined or explained in great detail, the audiences have to be alert always, so as to not miss any twist or turn. His screenplay is also intelligent but this makes the drama extremely class-appealing rather than universally appealing. In a way, the story of a man blackmailing the lover of his own wife rather than confronting him and her, also sounds weird and rather implausible. No doubt, it’s a comedy (dark, if one might add) but one is talking about the relationship between a husband and a wife – and that’s not something to be taken lightly. Perhaps, the best part of the story and screenplay is that it is written very differently and a lot of the humour is subtle and it unfolds in layers. Pradhuman Singh Mall’s dia­logues are engaging and entertaining.

Irrfan Khan acts with effortless ease and shines in the role of Dev Kaushal. He slips into the skin of the character and delivers a wonderful performance, never once going overboard. But he doesn’t bowl the audience over as he usually does. Kirti Kulhari gets much lesser scope but she does justice to her role as Reena Kaushal. Divya Dutta is brilliant in the role of Dolly Verma. Her acting is extraordinary and her sense of timing, perfect. Arunoday Singh leaves a very good mark as Ranjit Arora, making his character quite interesting. Omi Vaidya’s comedy is fairly entertaining; his performance is nice. Gajraj Rao lends wonderful support as private detective Chawla. Pradhuman Singh Mall makes his mark with a good performance in the role of Dev’s colleague, Anand Tripathi. Anuja Sathe is first-rate as Dev Kaushal’s junior, Prabha. Abhijeet Chavan shines as police inspector Rawle. Pravina Deshpande lends terrific support as Reena Kaushal’s mother. Vibha Chhibber has her moments as the blind woman who deals in guns. Nav Ratan Singh Rathore and Neelima Azim (as Dolly Verma’s parents) are adequate. Urmila Matondkar adds oomph in a sexy song-dance number. Rajesh Khatri (as Reena’s ailing father), Anjali Ujawane (as Prabha’s mother), Manohar Teli (as Prabha’s father), Sharad Jadhav and Mayur Kachave (both as police constables), Ankush Deshmukh (as the guy in DK’s office), Suresh Yadav (as the security guard in DK’s office), Amit Kumar (as the watchman), and the others provide decent support.

Abhinay Deo’s direction is evolved and intelligent. Although he has made a film with restricted appeal, he has catered to the target (class) audience well enough. Music (Amit Trivedi, Baadshah, Guru Randhawa) is a mixed bag. While no song is a hit, ‘Patola’ (by Guru Randhawa) is appealing and ‘Happy happy’ (by Baadshah) is fair. Lyrics (Amitabh Bhattacharya, Baadshah, Guru Randhawa, Divine and Dhaval Parab) are quite nice. Song picturisations (‘Happy happy’, ‘Patola’ and ‘Badla’ by Vijay Ganguly; ‘Bewafa beauty’ by Rajit Dev) are alright. Background music (by Mikey McCleary and Parth Parekh) is decent. Jay Oza’s camerawork is reasonably nice. Harpal Singh’s action scenes are okay. Pravin Kadam’s art direction and Mustufa Stationwala’s production designing are of a good standard. Huzefa Lokhandwala’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Blackmail is an intelligent and well-made film for the class audiences only but it will not be able to do much at the box-office because of low promotion and its implausible story.

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BAAGHI 2

Fox Star Studios and Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment’s Baaghi 2 (UA) is an action mystery thriller, adapted from Telugu film Kshanam. It is the second film in the Baaghi series.

Ranveer Pratap Singh (Tiger Shroff) is an army Captain. One day, he receives a phone message from his ex-girlfriend, Neha (Disha Patani), seeking his help. Despite their break-up years ago, Ranveer alias Ronnie takes leave and goes to Goa to help the damsel in distress because he had promised her, during their courtship days, that he would be there for her whenever she would need him. Ron­ nie and Neha were actually all set to marry but she had walked out on him minutes before the wedding.

While Ronnie is still single, Neha is married to Shekhar Salgaonkar (Dar­ shan Kumar) and the two have a little daughter, Rhea (Barbie Sharma). On reaching Goa, Ronnie is shocked to learn from Neha that two months back, Rhea had been kidnapped by unknown people while she had gone to drop her to school on the first day but the police had not been able to trace the child. Ronnie has no clue whatsoever, yet he begins the search in all earnestness. He only has a tiny photograph of Rhea. Neha claims, she doesn’t have any other picture of Rhea. She doesn’t even introduce Ronnie to her husband, Shekhar, or drug-addict brother-in-law, Sunny Salgaonkar (Prateik Babbar).

Ronnie hires a car from a car rental agency run by Usman Langda (Dee­ pak Dobriyal) but soon realises that Usman works for Sunny Salgaonkar as a drugs carrier. The mystery dee­ pens once Ronnie issues an advertisement in newspapers about the missing Rhea. One man, claiming to be from outside Goa, contacts Ron­ nie and tells him that Rhea is his mis­ sing daughter. Ronnie also gets an opportunity to meet Neha’s husband, Shekhar, who tells him that he (Shek­ har) and Neha did not have a child!

On the police front, if investigating police inspector Sharad Kute (Sunit Morarjee)is a lecherous guy, DIG Ajay Shergill (Manoj Bajpayee) and senior police inspector Loha Singh Dhull alias LSD (Randeep Hooda) are also intriguing officers who ope­ rate quite weirdly. So what is the truth?

Does Rhea exist in reality? If so, is she Neha and Shekhar’s daughter? Or is she not their daughter? If she doesn’t exist or if she is not Neha and Shekhar’s daughter, why is Neha clai­ ming that she is their daughter? Is Neha lying? Or is Shekhar lying? Has Rhea been actually kidnapped? If so, who are the kidnappers? What is the motive of the kidnappers? Is Rhea still alive? If Rhea wasn’t even kidnapped, what is the whole fuss about?

The original story was written by Adivi Sesh, and screenplay, by Ravikant Perepu and Adivi Sesh. The adaptation of the story in Hindi is done by Sajid Nadiadwala. The biggest plus point of the story is that it has a number of turns and twists. However, despite the twists and turns, it appears implausible at times because of its structure. Neha not introducing Ronnie to her husband, Shekhar, looks weird and is a giveaway of sorts. Similarly, Shekhar’s behaviour in front of the police officers is quite strange. Another weak point is that the story takes too long to come to the point, thereby testing the audience’s patien­ce.

The screenplay, written by Jojo Khan, Abbas Heirapurwala and Niraj Kumar Mishra, is not too impressive. For one, several characterisations are giveaways in a way and, therefore, reduce the impact of the mystery. Secondly, the screenplay is long-winding and quite boring. Thirdly, the implausibility factor keeps troubling the viewers as the drama looks contrived at several places instead of being a seamless one. Fourthly, the emotional connect of the characters with the audience is far lesser than what it should’ve been. This is probably because the romantic part of the drama is weak. But this is not to say that the entire screenplay is weak. The twists and turns a little before interval are very shocking and interesting and they give the viewers a jolt. The interval point, too, has a shocking impact on the audience but it is also a minus point. The point of Ronnie keeping his promise to Neha of being there for her whenever she would need him, will appeal a lot to the womenfolk. Romance is dull. Emotions fail to touch the heart.

Dialogues by Hussain Dalal, Shaan Yadav (associate dialogue writer) and Abbas Dalal (additional dialogue writer) are not half as punch-packed as they ought to have been. Yes, there are a couple of good dialogues but they are few and far between.

Tiger Shroff does quite well. He looks handsome and super-fit and ex­ cels in action scenes and stunts. His acting is fairly nice. Disha Patani looks pretty and acts reasonably well. Her dialogue delivery needs improvement. Manoj Bajpayee is fairly effective as DIG Ajay Shergill. Randeep Hooda is decent as senior police inspector Loha Singh Dhull (LSD). Prateik Babbar lends fair support as Sunny Salgaonkar. Darshan Kumar makes his presence felt as Shekhar Sal­ gaonkar. Deepak Dobriyal has a very hackneyed characterisation; he is good as Usman Langda. Baby Barbie Sharma is okay as little Rhea. Ashu­ tosh Singh makes a mark as Luck­ now police officer Anand Tyagi. Vipin Sharma is sincere in the role of Neha’s father but he is almost wasted. Sunit Morarjee has his moments as the lecherous police inspector, Sharad Kute. Jacqueline Fernandez’s dance on the ‘Ek do teen’ song is energetic but she is bound to be compared with Madhuri Dixit because of the song – and that comparison will not be good for her. Shaurya Bhardwaj (as Briga­ dier Walia), Upender Chauhan (as Ronnie’s colleague, Captain Bilal), Kumar Saurav (as Chhotu), Kishor Shrivastav (as Neha’s neighbour), Pushy Anand (as the school principal), Vivek Pandey (as the watchman), Ashwin Kaushal (as the rich owner of the bungalow), Manoj Raj Dutt (as the joint commissioner of police), and the others lend average support.

Ahmed Khan’s direction is routine. His narrative style fails to make the proceedings lively or exciting. Music (Mithoon, Arko, Sandeep Shirodkar, Gourav-Roshin and Pranay) is not upto the mark. Of the songs, the two remixes of old hits (‘Ek do teen’ and ‘Mundiyan’) are appealing but the other original numbers are ordinary. Lyrics (Kumaar, Ginny Diwani, Arko and Sayeed Quadri) are average. Song picturisations (by Ahmed Khan, Gan­ esh Acharya and Rahul Shetty) are alright. Julius Packiam’s background music ought to have been far superior. Santhana Krishnan Ravichand­ ran’s cinematography is nice. Action and stunts (by Ram-Lakshman, Kecha Khampakdee and Shamshir Khan) are excellent. Production de­ signing (by Laxmi Keluskar and San­ deep Meher) is appropriate. Ramesh­ war S. Bhagat’s editing leaves some­ thing to be desired.

On the whole, Baaghi 2 has abun­dant action but lacks in other ingredients of an entertainer. It has taken a flying start (because of great action, fantastic promotion and the Good Friday holiday) and will, therefore, keep its distributors safe. The producer, of course, has made a huge profit under-production.

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