RACE 3

Salman Khan Films and Tips Industries Ltd.’s Race 3 (UA) is the third film in the Race franchise. This time, however, it is a suspense thriller about one family.

Shamsher Singh (Anil Kapoor) lives life king size in Al Shifah and has a yearning desire to return to Handiya in India some day, the town he grew up in and from where he had to flee once he and brother Ranchod Singh (Milind Gunaji) were framed as traitors. His brother had been murdered, so Shamsher had escaped with Ranchod’s widow and, therefore, his own sister-in-law, Sumitra (Nishigandha Wad), and little nephew, Sikander Singh (master Mannan Handa). Shamsher had packed off Sikander to Beijing. In keeping with the custom, he had married Sumitra who had then delivered his twins, Sanjana and Suraj. Shamsher’s bodyguard and Man Friday is Raghuvendra Singh (Sharat Saxena).

Years have passed. Shamsher’s biggest enemy is Rana (Freddy Daruwala). Shamsher Singh dotes on Sikander (Salman Khan), which, obviously, doesn’t go down well with Shamsher’s biological children, Sanjana (Daisy Shah) and Suraj (Saqib Sal­eem). Sikander has a bodyguard, Yash (Bobby Deol), who shares an unbreakable bond with Sikander. The two, in fact, are like brothers.

Sikander meets Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez) in Beijing, has a brief romantic fling with her before she simply disappears after a night of passion. Jessica reappears in Al Shifah as the girlfriend, Yash has been talking about. Sikander is perplexed and confronts Jessica. What happens thereafter? Does Jessica return to Sikander or does she continue her affair with Yash?

One day, Brijesh (Rajesh Sharma), an old friend of Shamsher, comes to Al Shifah from India and gives him proof of incriminating evidence against many ministers in compromising positions with call girls. According to Brijesh, the evidence is on a hard drive which is lying in a bank locker in Cambodia. He asks Shamsher to lay his hands on the hard drive and promises to open the hard drive with the code known exclusively to him – for a hefty sum of money, of course! Using this evidence to blackmail the ministers involved, Shamsher Singh could call them all to Al Shifah and enter into a deal whereby he would destroy the evidence if they cleared his and his family’s name so that he could return to Handiya.

Shamsher Singh agrees. He appoints Sikander to get hold of the hard drive. On his part, Sikander takes Yash, Suraj and Sanjana with him to accomplish the mission. What happens thereafter? Do they get the hard drive? Does Shamsher Singh get a clean chit?

Shiraz Ahmed has written a story which belongs in the implausible space because everything in it is so larger than life and, if one might say so, so unreal that many things don’t ring true. Of course, since Shamsher Singh leads an ostentatious lifestyle, everything is bound to be larger than life but since a lot many things don’t ring true, the story itself seems contrived. The first half, especially, is also terribly boring after the introduction of the main characters. It seems to be going nowhere in particular, simply meandering here and there. However, the second half is interesting and also more fast-paced. The last around 30 to 45 minutes have so many turns and twists that they keep the viewers engaged and engrossed. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the last part of the drama quite saves the film because of the interesting turns and twists and the abundant and fast-paced action. The suspense keeps unfolding in this part of the drama and that is quite interesting even though it is contrived at times.

Dialogues, penned by Shiraz Ahmed and Kiran Kotrial, do not suit the scale of the film. A few dialogues are punch-packed but several of them lack fire. The idea of making every young character refer to the other young ones as ‘bro’ gives the impression of the characters trying to be extra cool and that makes them look too wannabe!

Anil Kapoor gives a dignified per­formance as Shamsher Singh. He acts with the maturity that was needed in the character of Shamsher Singh. His long intermittent absence in the first half makes the drama a bit lopsided. Salman Khan looks charming and charismatic and plays to the gallery. He performs well but is not in his element. Jacqueline Fernandez looks sexy and glamorous; her acting is nice. Bobby Deol does a fine job in the role of Yash. His chiselled body in the climax comes as a revelation. The scene in which Salman and Bobby take off their shirts will be met with applause by the masses. Daisy Shah looks stylish and lends fair support as Sanjana. Saqib Saleem is quite nice as Suraj. Freddy Daruwala gets almost no scope in the role of Rana. Sharat Saxena doesn’t have much scope to perform but he does make his presence felt as Raghuvendra Singh. Rajesh Sharma makes his mark as Brijesh (Birju). Narendra Jha also gets very limited scope in the role of Khanna. He is alright. Milind Gunaji is alright in a tiny role as Ranchod Singh. Nishigandha Wad is natural as Sumitra. Master Mannan Handa (as young Sikander), Peter (as the Cambodian banker), Behram Rana (as Johnny Shrivastava), Chaitanya Kanhai (as Gajendra’s son), Divya Bhatia (as the family lawyer) and the others lend fair support.

Remo D’Souza’s direction is found lacking in the first half but he gets hold of things after interval when the drama becomes intriguing. However, he has not been able to make a sleek and high-on-style film like the first two Race films. That is a major minus point. Music is good but there’s not a single super-hit song which a thriller of this canvas should’ve had – and that’s another minus point. The ‘Selfish’, ‘I found love’, ‘Heeriye’ and ‘Party chale on’ are quite well-tuned; the ‘Allah duhai hai’ number, which has been part of earlier Race films too, is the best song. The songs appeal more in the mashup during the end rolling titles. The songs have been composed by Meet Bros., JAM8, Vishal Mishra, Vicky-Hardik, Shivai Vyas, Ali Jacko, Jayanta Pathak and Gurinder Seagal. Lyrics (by Kumaar, Salman Khan, Shabbir Ahmed, Shloke Lal, Hardik Acharya, Shanky, Shivai Vyas, Kunaal Verma and Rimi Nique) are routine. Song picturisations (by Remo D’Souza, Rahul Shetty and Kruti Mahesh) are eye-filling and lavish but the look and feel of all the songs is similar. Salim-Sulaiman’s background music is impactful. Ayananka Bose’s cinematography is grand. Action scenes and stunts, choreographed by Anl Arasu and Thomas Struthers, are exciting and often breathtaking. Rajnish Hedao’s production designing is grand. Steven Bernard’s editing is slick. Conversion in 3D is nice.

On the whole, Race 3 is saved because of an engaging post-interval portion. Despite the terribly dull first half, it will do decent business. Since its cost of production has already been recovered from sale of non-theatrical rights, shares from India and Overseas theatrical revenues will be good enough to generate handsome profits to the producers. But those distributors, who have acquired the rights at very high prices, would lose a small part of their investments. It will definitely not qualify as a box-office hit because of the poor pre-interval portion. Collections on second day (Eid) and third day (post-Eid; Sunday) will be phenomenal.

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BHAVESH JOSHI SUPERHERO

Reliance Entertainment, Eros International and Phantom’s Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (ua) is, as the title suggests, a superhero film. However, the superhero does not have superpowers as in many other superhero films.

Siku or Sikandar Khanna (Harshvardhan Kapoor), Bhavesh Joshi (Priyanshu Painyuli) and Rajat (Ashish Verma) are close friends who decide to raise their voice against corruption. They post videos of theirs on the Internet, with their faces covered, uncovering corrupt government officers. Soon, they begin to unearth the manipulations of the water mafia. Private water suppliers, working in cah­oots with the authorities, fill their coffers by selling the water meant for the public for free, after creating a water shortage.

Soon, the corrupt police officers, department officers and the water mafia people have Bhavesh Joshi killed because he is at the forefront of the expose. Guilty about being a silent spectator towards the end, while his friend, Bhavesh, fought to expose corruption, Siku now takes it upon himself to avenge his bosom pal’s murder and expose the rot that has spread in the water mafia scam.

Masked to hide his identity, Siku operates under the name of his dead friend and spreads terror amongst the water mafia. The mafia kingpin, Rana (Nishikant Kamat), and the other corrupt officers are at their wits’ end to understand who this Bhavesh Joshi is who is exposing their evil deeds and themselves. By the by, Siku alias Bhavesh Joshi realises that the water mafia is planning something terrible.

What is the mafia’s plan? Is Siku able to abort it? Does he succeed in exposing the water mafia?

Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap and Abhay Koranne have penned a story in a fashion which makes it appear childish. Besides, the concept of water mafia will not be understood universally. The audiences in the big cities will be able to comprehend the concept of water mafia but the same may not be true for other places. Again, the issue of water mafia has been dealt with in a way that it would appear as if the water mafia is capable of exploding nuclear bombs and annihilating all living beings on earth!

The trio’s screenplay is as shoddy as the story. There is not a single scene which offers thrill or excitement to the viewers. Besides, the pace of the drama is so slow that it actually gets on the viewers’ nerves and tests their patience. Another major drawback is that the one playing the superhero (Harshvardhan Kapoor) is yet to be accepted as a hero by the public! After the disastrous fate of his debut film, Mirzya, to cast Harshvardhan Kapoor as a superhero (never mind that he has no superpowers in the film) is rather ridiculous because it rests on the belief that the paying public would accept as a superhero, someone who is yet to be accepted as a hero!!

The audience’s sympathy never really goes to Siku because his character is far from endearing. The screenplay only complicates matters because despite the noble work of the three friends, the public is shown to be against them – never mind if this public sentiment is manipulated by interested people. Of course, there are no genuine well-wishers visible because nobody knows who the three friends are, due to their hidden identities. This kiddish behaviour of the three friends is one more example of the kiddish scripting by the trio. A film with this kind of a subject ought to have inspired a feeling of pride and patriotism in the viewers but that simply doesn’t happen. Even the climax fails to give the audience a feeling of achievement or purpose. The trio’s dialogues are dull. There’s one scene between Siku and friend Rajat, in which the latter reminds the former that he (Siku) is not a hero; and Siku replies that he knows it that he (Siku) is not a hero. This dialogue rings true for the actor playing Siku, in real life – because, as mentioned above, Harshvardhan Kapoor has not yet been accepted as a hero, by the public.

Harshvardhan Kapoor is a fairly good actor and acts reasonably well but his performance just does not have any impact because the character and role needed an actor with a fantastic hero image. Also, Harshvardhan Kapoor should understand that he needs to look good, handsome and desirable for him to become a darling of the masses. Like in his debut film, he looks unkempt and often unclean in this film, which will prove detrimental to his own career. Realistic looks, with cuts and knashes on his face, can wait till after he finds acceptance! Shreiyah Sabharwal gets hardly any scope in the role of Sneha. Her performance is ordinary. Priyanshu Painyuli is good as Bhavesh Joshi. Ashish Verma shines as Rajat, with a supremely natural performance. Nishikant Kamat, as Rana, makes an impact in a long speech he makes towards the end. Pratap Phad has his moments as Patil. Chinmayee Mandlekar leaves a lovely mark as Jadhav. Hrishikesh Joshi (as Mhatre), Pabitra Rabha (as Thapa), Suhas Palshikar (as Barve), Harsh Vardhan (as the passport policeman), Ganesh Divekar (as the constable), Ashish Warang (as the beat chowky policeman) and the rest provide fair support.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s direction is below the mark. He has simply failed to bring the thrill element into the superhero story. Also, his narration is slow-paced when it should’ve been racy. Another flaw in his direction is that he has not made a single protagonist’s character so endearing or likeable that the public would root for him or feel bad in times of his misery. Music (Amit Trivedi) is a mixed bag. The ‘Chyawanprash’ song is appealing whereas the other songs are ordinary. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are nice. Uma-Gaiti’s choreography is fair. Amit Trivedi’s background music is ordinary. Siddharth Diwan’s cinematography is okay. Action scenes, composed by Cyril Raffaelli, Sebastian Seveau and Vikram Dahiya, are alright but not very thrilling. Aditya Kanwar’s production designing is so-so. Bunty Bhansali’s editing is loose.

On the whole, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is such a disastrous fare that it will be rejected outright by the audience.

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VEERE DI WEDDING

Balaji Telefilms Ltd., Anil Kapoor Films & Communication Network and Saffron Broadcast & Media Ltd.’s Veere Di Wedding (A) is the story of four bold and modern girls who are very close to one another. The four – Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor Khan), Avni (Soham K. Ahuja), Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) and Meera (Shikha Talsania) – have been childhood friends are are now leading their own lives.

Kalindi has been in a steady relationship since some years with Rishabh (Sumeet Vyas). She has had a traumatic childhood because of her parents’ (Kavita Ghai and Anjum Rajab Ali) constant fights. Her dad, Kishan, had remarried after her mother’s demise and although Kalindi can’t stand her stepmother, Paromita (Ekavali Khanna), she has feelings for her father, something which her paternal uncle, Cookie Chacha (Vivek Mushran), doesn’t approve of because the two brothers are sworn enemies.

Avni is a family court lawyer whose single mother (Neena Gupta) is constantly trying to convince her to get married to a suitable boy and settle down in life but Avni hasn’t found that perfect boy. Sakshi is married to Vineet (Suraj Singh) whom she now hates with a vengeance. She has returned to India after walking out on him and is currently staying with her parents (Babla Kochar and Bubbles Sabharwal). She smokes like a chimney, drinks alcohol like a fish drinks water, and uses swear words at the drop of a hat. She wants to divorce Vineet.

Meera is married to John (Edward Sonnenblick) who is a foreigner trying to learn Hindi. They have a two-year-old baby boy. Meera is not on talking terms with her guardian, her paternal uncle (Jitpreet Gill), because he has not accepted John as part of the family.

The four childhood friends meet once again for Kalindi’s marriage with Rishabh. But the marriage itself is called off by the overly sensitive Kalindi when she can’t handle the crazy wedding celebrations, planned by Rishabh’s extra-loud family. Kalindi had all along wanted a simple wedding.

After the break-up between Kalindi and Rishabh, the former is unable to erase him out of her memory. As for Rishabh, he has to deal with the break-up as also with the imprisonment of his father (Manoj Pahwa) in cheque-bouncing cases. During the wedding celebrations of Kalindi and Rishabh, Avni meets Bhandari (Vishwas Kinni), an eligible bachelor, who does all under his command to woo her. In her drunken stupor, Avni even spends a night in bed with Bhandari.

What happens finally? Does Kalindi make up with Rishabh and marry him? Does Avni find herself a suitable boy? Does Sakshi divorce Vineet or do the two of them kiss and make up? Does Meera’s paternal uncle accept John?

Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri have written a very bold subject in which all the four lead characters – Kalindi, Avni, Sakshi and Meera – speak their hearts out in the most colourful lang­uage. The duo has broken many norms of Hindi cinema, in their characterisations because in her own way, each of the four ladies is irreverent, unabashed, bold and even shameless. The four ladies are a far cry from the leading ladies we’ve seen in Hindi films and, therefore, they will shock the orthodox audiences. No doubt, the youngsters will accept the characterisations because one does get to see girls of the kind portrayed in the film but it must be added here, showing all of them so unabashed is a bit too much for the orthodox audience. The objectionable part for the orthodox viewers is that the girls, more often than not, encourage one another to put their ‘worst foot’ forward. Of course, the youth, especially the city-bred youth, will go with the characters and accept them for what they are. They will simply go berserk over the four-letter words mouthed by the A-list heroines, that too, with such flourish.

The duo’s screenplay is targeted at the youngsters but it is disjointed. The connection between Kalindi’s break-up with Rishabh and her traumatic past looks contrived. Also forced are Kalindi’s crazy reactions to the overtly warm and gregarious family mem­bers of Rishabh and to the loud wedding celebrations. Since such loud and colourful as well as crowded wedding celebrations are the norm rather than the exception in India, the orthodox audience will not be able to empathise with Kalindi. Some scenes are too bold for the Indian audience to digest on the big screen. An example of this is Sakshi’s vibrator scene.

But on the plus side, the two writers have remained true to the characters and have not tried to please all classes of audience or all strata of society. The film may be too bold but the writers haven’t even once tried to balance their script – they’ve written a drama which their characters can be expected to be involved in. So, the honesty of the writers needs to be lauded. Climax is hurried. Overall, the second half is better than the first half.

The duo’s dialogues, replete with four-letter words, will greatly appeal to youngsters and city audiences. The adults certificate of the film will keep a part of the target audience (between 12 and 18) away from the film.

Kareena Kapoor Khan looks gorgeous and acts with effortless ease, slipping into the character of Kalindi beautifully. Her costumes are very hep and enticing. Sonam K. Ahuja also looks very pretty and plays Avni cutely. Her costumes are a treat to the eyes. Swara Bhaskar is terrific as Sakshi and plays the foul-mouthed lady so wonderfully and so freely that it’s sheer delight to watch her. Shikha Talsania is supremely natural and effortless in the role of Meera. Sumeet Vyas is endearing as Rishabh. His acting is very realistic. Neena Gupta lends lovely support as Avni’s mom. Vishwas Kinni provides excellent support as Bhandari. Ayesha Raza is wonderful as Rishabh’s mother. As his father, Manoj Pahwa is good. Vivek Mushran has his moments as Cookie Chacha. Anjum Rajab Ali leaves a mark as Kalindi’s dad. In the brief role of her mother, Kavita Ghai is quite good. Ekavali Khanna leaves a mark as Kalindi’s stepmother. Suraj Singh (as Vineet) and Ishwak Singh (as Nirmal) stand their own. Alka Kaushal (as Santosh aunty), Sukesh Arora (as Keshav), Edward Sonnenblick (as John), Rayaan Chaudhary (as Kabir), Bubbles Sabharwal (as Sakshi’s mom), Babla Kochar (as Sakshi’s dad), Jitpreet Gill (as Meera’s paternal uncle), Kashish Kanwar (as younger Kalindi), Muskaan Khubchandani (as young Avni), Muskaan Malhotra (as young Sakshi), Smriti Setya (as young Meera), Vandana Chopra, Geeta Sudan and Vani Grewal (all three as aunties) are adequate.

Shashanka Ghosh’s direction is fairly good. Although he has adopted a fast-paced narrative style, he could’ve made a more seamless film, flowing freely from one scene to another. Nevertheless, credit is due to him for making such a bold film with such conviction. Music (Vishal Mishra, Qaran, Shashwat Sachdev and White Noise) is good and it will appeal to the youth. The ‘Tareefan’ song is very nice. Lyrics (Anvita Dutt, Qaran, Rupin Pahwa, Badshah, Shashwat Sachdev, Shellee, Gaurav Solanki, Raj Shekhar and White Noise) are appropriate. Choreography by Farhan Khan (for ‘Tareefan’), Feroz Khan (for ‘Pappi le lon’ and ‘Bhangda’) and Karishma Chavan (for ‘Veere’) is appealing. Arijit Datta’s background music is reasonably good. Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti’s cinematography and Jayakrishna Gummadi’s additional cinematography are eye-filling. Pria Ahluwalia’s production designing and Vijay Ghodke’s art direction are of a fine standard. Shweta Venkat Mathew’s editing is crisp.

On the whole, Veere Di Wedding has taken a flying start and it will keep everyone smiling despite the fact that a section of the audience will be critical of the content. In commercial terms, this one will turn out to be a richly rewarding proposal.

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PARMANU – THE STORY OF POKHRAN

Zee Studios, Kyta Productions and JA Entertainment’s Parmanu – The Story of Pokhran is based on a true story about how India became a nuclear state after covertly building nuclear bombs and testing them in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan in record time and while not letting the world know till finally, the explosions were carried out. The story begins in 1995.

Ashwath Raina (John Abraham) is an IAS officer who feels that India should become a nuclear power but since he is too junior, his seniors poke fun at his idea. However, one of the seniors sees an opportunity to gain brownie points by hijacking Ashwath’s idea and presents it to the prime minister without going through the whole plan. After the PM gives his nod, the plan execution begins in Pokhran (Rajasthan) but since only part of the plan has been taken up for implementation, it hits a roadblock. Worse still, Ashwath is blamed for the faulty plan and suspended from his job. The fact is that the roadblock was not because of a faulty plan but because of the careless execution of the plan without reading Ashwath’s plan in entirety.

Three years later, the new chief secretary to the Prime Minister, Shukla (Boman Irani), appoints Ashwath to head the team which will restart the nuclear work in Pokhran. Taking the code name of Krishna, Ashwath appoints his five Pandavas – five accomplished persons in various fields – Dr. Viraf Wadia (Aditya Hitkari), Major Prem (Vikas Kumar), Dr. Naresh Sinha (Yogendra Tiku), Puru Ranganathan (Ajay Shankar) and Ambalika (Diana Penty) – to help him in making India’s first nuclear bombs. Dr. Viraf Wadia is given the code name of Yudhishtir, Major Prem becomes Bheem, Dr. Naresh Sinha is Arjun, Puru Ranganathan becomes Sehdev, and Ambalika is Nakul. Since the operation is covert, the team can work only during blind spots – when no satellite is crossing India in the skies. Sehdev (Puru Ranganathan) monitors the satellite movements while the others work on the field with workers.

There is a Pakistani spy (Darshan Pandya) in Pokhran, who works in tandem with an American scientist (Mark Bennington). The two soon realise that some serious activity is going on in Pokhran, and the American scientist even informs the lab in the USA about the nuclear experimentation being carried out in Pokhran.

How Krishna (Ashwath Raina) succeeds against all odds and ultimately carries out the first nuclear explosions in India is the crux of the story. It was after these nuclear tests in May 1998 that India came to be known as a nuclear state in the world.

The story is based on true-life incidents and although people are aware of the Pokhran nuclear blasts, not many know of the trying circumstances under which Indian scientists worked to make them possible. Saiwyn Quadros, Sanyukta Chawla Shaikh and Abhishek Sharma have written an interesting story which has a good dose of patriotism and human drama. Since the story is about the honour of India and involves making an ass of the Americans, the audience enjoys it even more. The trio’s screenplay is well-written and moves at such a fast pace that it hardly gives the viewers a chance to think. There are some shortcomings – like, for instance, the five Pandavas don’t get as much scope as one would expect in a film about team work; or the track of the Pakistani spy working with the American scientist is not as strong or forceful as it should’ve been – but they don’t take away from the inherent strength of the drama. The best part of the screenplay is that it keeps you rooting for Krishna and his team. Further, there are such tension-ridden moments in the drama that they offer nail-biting thrill to the audience. The trio’s dialogues are excellent and so crisp that the drama never becomes too verbose or boring.

John Abraham acts very well and looks like a man of complete integrity. Boman Irani is first-rate as Shukla, chief secretary to prime minister. Diana Penty performs ably in the role of Ambalika (Nakul). Anuja Sathe is excellent as Ashwath’s wife. She looks attractive too. Yogendra Tiku is splendid as Dr. Naresh Sinha (Arjun). Aditya Hitkari is endearing as Dr. Viraf Wadia (Yudhishtir). Vikas Kumar makes his presence beautifully felt in the role of Bheem. Ajay Shankar is rather cute in the role of Puru Ranganathan (Sehdev). Darshan Pandya is quite nice as the Pakistani spy and he leaves his mark. Mark Bennington is okay as the American scientist in Pokhran. Master Arush Nand (as Prahlad Raina), Pra­vina Deshpande (as Ashwath’s mother-in-law), Anil Rastogi (as Ashwath’s father-in-law), and the rest lend decent support.

Abhishek Sharma’s direction is fair. The best part of his narrative style is that it doesn’t give even one dull moment to the viewers and it instils the spirit of patriotism in the audience. However, he could have given more scope to the other team mates and that would’ve made a big difference. Sachin-Jigar’s music does not comprise hit songs but the tunes are rustic and appealing. Lyrics (Sachin Sanghvi and Vayu) are in synch with the mood of the film. Sandeep Chowta’s background music (Sachin-Jigar have scored the background music in the flag-hoisting scene) is lovely. Cinematography by Zubin Mistry, with additio­nal cinematography by Aseem Mishra, is very good. Amar Shetty’s action and stunts are realistic. Production designing (by T.P. Abid and Sandeep S. Ravade) is nice. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is very sharp. Production values are below the mark.

On the whole, Parmanu – The Story Of Pokhran is a fair entertainer which has patriotic flavour and good drama as two major plus points. But lack of promotion is a dampener which will not let the film realise its full potential. Yet, it will prove an earning proposal. Collections will pick up in the weekend due to positive word of mouth.

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RAAZI

Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions’ Raazi (UA) is the story of Sehmat, a young and innocent college-going girl from India.

Sehmat Khan’s (Alia Bhatt) father, Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapur), works as a secret service agent for the Indian government. He is friends with Pakistan’s Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma). When Hidayat learns that he has only a few days left to live because of a tumour detected in his lungs, he asks his daughter to carry on with his work of a secret service agent. Towards this end, he fixes Sehmat’s marriage to Brigadier Syed’s son, Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal). Before the nikaah, Sehmat is trained by Khalid Mir (Jaideep Ahlawat) so that she could become adept at all things, a spy ought to know, like code language, transmitting information, self-defence etc.

Sehmat comes to Pakistan not just as Iqbal’s wife and Brigadier Syed’s daugther-in-law but also as an Indian spy. While the Syed family thinks, she is a simple and dutiful wife, she is actually passing on incriminating information – that too, from right under the noses of her husband and in-laws. This information, which proves that Brigadier Syed and other Pakistani armymen are planning to attack India, is used by the Indian intelligence. Abdul (Arif Zakaria), an Indian by birth, works in the Syed household in Pakistan. He seems to not be very fond of Sehmat.

Sehmat often goes to the market place where she connects with Indian spies who are under cover. Slowly, Sehmat has to resort to the ultimate for her safety – and this includes trying to murder Abdul, the loyal house help of the Syeds, and Brigadier Syed’s older son, Mehboob (Ashwath Bhatt). And then, the Pakistan government gets information that secret messages had been transmitted to India from the Syed residence. The Pakistan government wants to trace the culprit in the Syed household.

So, is Sehmat now safe in her marital home in Pakistan? Will her husband find out the truth about her? Will Sehmat’s father-in-law get her arrested? Will the Indian government save her? Or will Sehmat die in Pakistan?

The film is based on Harinder S. Sikka’s novel, Calling Sehmat, which itself is based on a true-life story. The spy drama is thrilling and supremely exciting. The story keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, making them skip a heartbeat or two on several occasions. The intrigue and the thrill keep the audiences so engaged right from the word ‘go’ that they would actually not feel like even blinking their eyes. The screenplay, written by Bhavani Iyer and Meghna Gulzar, is equally thrilling and very fast-moving. It has a lot of twists and turns, and the viewers sit in rapt attention, with their eyes glued to the screens. The scenes in which Sehmat risks her life to lay her hands on secret information are breathtaking. The scenes in which Sehmat speaks in code language are extremely interesting as the audience tries to guess what message she is passing on and what message is being passed on to her. The scenes in which she breaks down are heart-rending. The scene in which she confronts Khalid Mir in the climax is so impactful that it shakes the audience. There are some clap-trap moments too in the screenplay. Meghna Gulzar’s dialogues are fantastic and appeal to both, the mind and the heart.

Alia Bhatt’s performance is outstanding. The film rests on her shoulders and she delivers such a commendable performance that she can easily pick up awards for it. She has looked pretty and her acting is mesmerising. If she scares you with her daredevilry, she tugs at your heart strings with her emotional outbursts. Her climax scene with Jaideep Ahlawat (Khalid Mir) is absolutely mind-boggling. Vicky Kaushal gives a bea­utifully restrained performance as Iqbal Syed. He has limited dialogues to mouth and limited scenes too but he does a fine job. Jaideep Ahlawat is first-rate as Khalid Mir. In the scene in which he impersonates a Pakistani armyman, he shows his range as an actor. Rajit Kapur marks his presence in a brief role. Shishir Sharma does a fine job as Brigadier Syed. Soni Razdan lends fine support as Sehmat’s mother. Amruta Khanvilkar lends good support in the role of Sehmat’s sister-in-law. Ashwath Bhatt makes his presence amply felt as Sehmat’s brother-in-law, Mehboob Syed. Arif Zakaria (as Abdul) is terrifying, using his cold stares to great advantage. Aman Vashishth leaves a mark as Nikhil Bakshi. Kanwaljit Singh is decent in a special appearance. Sanjay Suri adds star value in a special appearance. Jairoop Jeevan (as General Beig), Pallavi Batra (as Mitali), Pramod Pathak (as Kabir Murtaza), Simran Sachdeva (as Pallavi Murtaza),Ikatar Singh (as driver Wasim), Navdeep Bandhu (as driver Rafiq), Sima Pari (as Shyama), Gulista Alija (as Salma), Balendar Singh (as driver Ismail), Amol Deshmukh (as Col. Siddiqui), Rajesh Jais (as Sarvar), Veer Samra (as Nafisa), Deepak Saini (as the tailor in Lahore), Syed Rizwan (as the perfume seller), Ankur Tripathi (as Imtiyaz), Sukesh Mishra (as Saadiq), Kanika Dang (as Suraiya Siddiqui), Dharmik Vipul Joisar (as Zain Beig), Hearty Singh (as Anwar Siddiqui), Nilofer Gesawat (as Nazima Beig), Sanjay Gurbaxani (as Commodore Basu), Jogi (as Admiral Nair), Yogesh Sahota (as Siddiqui’s driver) and the others provide the desired support.

Meghna Gulzar’s direction is excellent. She has handled the thriller tautly and with the sensitivity it deserves. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is appealing. The ‘Aye watan’ song is very nice and will become more popular. The ‘Dilbaro’ number is also very tuneful. Gulzar’s lyrics are extraordinary. Jay I. Patel’s cinematography is superb. Production designing (by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray) is lovely. Nitin Baid’s editing is very sharp.

On the whole, Raazi is a box-office winner and will keep all concerned very happy. The story, script, direction and, of course, Alia Bhatt, will ensure that people flock to the cinemas.

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OMERTA

Swiss Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Karma Media And Entertainment’s Omertà (a) is the true story of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh. It traces the story of how a bright student of the London School of Economics became a dreaded terrorist.

Omar Saeed Sheikh (Rajkumar Rao) studies in the London School of Economics. He feels terrible when he sees his Muslim brothers and sisters being persecuted in Bosnia. He quits his education and decides to do something to reduce their misery. But soon, he becomes a jehadi and a dreaded terrorist who is behind kid­nappings of foreigners in India in 1994 and who also murders The Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl (Timothy Ryan Hickernell) in 2002.

Mukul Dev has written the story which gives an insight into the making of the dreaded terrorist, Omar Saeed Sheikh. While the story has twists and turns, it moves on a single track. And because it is the story of a dreaded terrorist, it would not really impress too many people from among the general public. Yes, connoisseurs of art cinema may like to watch how an ordinary citizen turned to the world of crime but there’s not much for an average person to take home from the film. Rather, the story becomes boring after a point of time once it is established that Omar is on a revenge spree. Hansal Mehta’s screenplay is written in such a way that the audience feels, it is watching a docu-drama on Omar Saeed Sheikh. Not many would be interested in watching the documentation of the life story of a dreaded criminal. Hansal Mehta’s dialogues are good.

Rajkumar Rao plays the sinister Omar Saeed Sheikh with all the con­viction at his command. His cold stares and his couldn’t-care-less attitude come to the fore very well. Keval Arora is lovely as Omar’s father, Saeed Sheikh. Timothy Ryan Hickernell is okay as Daniel Pearl. Rajesh Tailang stands his own as General Mahmud. Sanjeev Chopra (as Maulana Abdullah), Ravi Khanna (as Zubair Shah), Rahul Dhir (as Amin), Akhilesh (as Siddiqui), Ajitabh Sengupta (as Salauddin), Marco Bojic (as Rhys Partridge), Tilak Raj Joshi (as the cop at the old Delhi check post), Chris Walter (as Paul Rideout), Jack (as Christopher Myles), Mo Pitz (as Bela), Susheel Dahiya (as police inspector A.K. Jain), Jaipreet (as lawyer Majeed), Harmeet Sawhney (as Abdul), Rupinder Nagra (as Maulana Ismail), Aryan (as Sohail), Aamir (as Jaffer), Satish Yadav (as Saif), Tarun Kohli (as Naved), Sahil Shah (as Arshad), Aman (as Anees), Aditya Uppal (as Abu), Tareeq (as the preacher), Sanjeev Mehta (as Maulana Masood Azhar), Amin (as Qasim), Orvana Ghai (as Omar’s wife, Saadia), Satwant Kaur (as Omar’s mother), Sahir Mehta (as Omar’s brother), Arya (as Omar’s sister), Kallirroi Tziafeta (as Marianne Pearl) and the rest lend decent support.

Hansal Mehta’s direction is fair but is limited in appeal. He has made a film which caters to a very thin section of the audience only. Ishaan Chhab­ra’s music is okay. Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s camerawork is effective. Harpal Singh’s (Pali) action and stunt scenes are impactful. Neil Chowdhury’s production designing is alright. Editing (Aditya Warrior) is quite sharp.

On the whole, Omertà is too class-appealing to make any impact at the box-office. It will, therefore, flop at the turnstiles. It has some hope in the very high-end multiplexes, that too, just in the first weekend.

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102 NOT OUT

Sony Pictures Releasing International, Treetop Entertainment and Benchmark Pictures’ 102 Not Out is the story of a 102-year-old man and his 75-year-old son.

Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) is a 102-year-old man, full of zest and keen on breaking the record of a Chinese as the oldest living man. His son, Babulal Vakharia (Rishi Kapoor), is 75 years old. Quite unlike Dattatraya, Babulal is dull and disinterested in life.

One day, Dattatraya threatens to send son Babulal to an old-age home. This petrifies Babulal because he is averse to change of any kind. Dattatraya then asks Babulal to accept challenges thrown by him. If Babulal is willing to take up the challenges and if he completes the tasks given to him by Dattatraya, he can avoid going to the home for the aged.

Dattatraya’s plan to shake his son out of the monotonous lifestyle is dee­per than it appears. Why does the 102-year-old father want his 75-year-old son to reform?

Saumya Joshi has adapted his own stage-play of the same title. His story is quite novel and not just because it is the story of a father and his son but also because they both are very old and for a variety of other reasons. The story is interesting and engaging but the best part is that it has a very bold message too. The screenplay, also penned by Saumya Joshi, is excellently written. The first half is light-hearted and evokes laughter and smiles at a number of places. However, the post-interval portion takes a more serious, dramatic and emotional turn. The drama in the second half could make the weak-hearted cry buckets. Many others may not cry a lot but they would definitley find their eyes moist in a couple of scenes. The strong-hearted may not end up in tears but they’d definitely feel a lump in their throats. Although the second half is more serious, it does have its share of light moments too. Another good point about the screenplay is that everybody would be able to identify with the drama – things shown in the film would have happened in one’s family, or the family/ies of a relative, friend or acq­uaintance. There are a number of clap-trap scenes in the film, especially after interval. The climax is splendid and will evoke a loud round of applause – and that would be a conclusive proof that the audience is with the characters and the story. Saumya Joshi’s dialogues are gems and go straight to the heart. Three dialogues which stand out are: the one in which Dattatraya compares the reason for Babulal’s wife forgetting people with that for Babulal’s son forgetting people; the one in which Dattatraya vows to not allow Babulal’s son to defeat his own (Dattatraya’s) son (that is, Babulal); and the one in which Babulal gives his son the final order at the airport.

Amitabh Bachchan is outstanding in the role of the energetic 102-year-old. He plays the character of Dattatraya Vakharia with such conviction that he makes the drama oh so believable. Whether it is the humorous scenes or the dramatic ones, he is absolutely first-rate in each of them. In the emotional scenes, his acting is, of course, simply terrific. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bachchan picked up awards for his acting in this film. Rishi Kapoor is truly remarkable as the 75-year-old Babulal. He is so natural that one can’t help but sing his praises. His facial expressions and his body language are to die for. If he is cute as the old man with no zing in his life, he is endearing as the man who pines to meet his son and whose heart melts at the very mention of his son’s name. Rishi Kapoor, too, could easily pick up awards for his performance. A word here about the chemistry between Bachchan and Kapoor: it is extraordinary. Jimmit Trivedi stands his own in the role of Dhiru, that too, in front of two acting legends, Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. Jimmit’s acting is very real. Dharmendra Gohil makes his presence felt as Babulal’s son, Amol. Others lend the necessary support.

Umesh Shukla’s direction is marvellous. His narrative style is very different because although the film speaks about at least five more members of the Vakharia family (Amol, his wife, their two kids, and Babulal’s wife), it shows only two Vakharias (Dattatraya and Babulal) for the major part of the drama. In other words, the characteristics and profiles of the other Vakharias, mainly Amol, his wife and Babulal’s wife, are brought out beautifully mostly through dialogues mouthed by Dattatraya. Music (Salim-Sulaiman) goes well with the film’s mood. The ‘Badumbaa’ song is popular too. Lyrics are appropriate. George Joseph’s background music is very nice. Laxman Utekar’s cinematography deserves special mention as it captures the mood and the emotions very effectively. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, 102 Not Out is a hit. It has entertainment and it has a message – and that’s a pretty good combination. It will be loved by the ladies, families and the elderly audience, of course, but it will also be gradually lapped up by youngsters. The strong positive word of mouth would actually ensure a big jump in collections during the weekend and would even make the film a richly paying proposal.

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