Torque and Filmy Keeda Productions Pvt. Ltd.’s Milan Talkies (UA) is a love story.

Annu (Ali Fazal) is an aspiring director in Allahabad. He makes short films funded by means fair and unfair. He helps Maithali Panda (Sraddha Srinath) pass her examinations – for a fee, of course. It is imperative for Maithali to clear her examinations because her fiancé is an educated man. However, in the process, Annu and Maithali grow fond of each other and often meet at Milan Talkies because of the ever-helpful projectionist, Usmanbhai (Sanjay Mishra). The two ultimately elope, only to be caught by Maithali’s family. In the fight that ensues, Annu falls into the river and goes missing.

Maithali’s marriage is called off by the groom’s side as news about her elopement has spread. She is then married off by her father, Janardhan Panda (Ashutosh Rana), to Guru (Sikandar Kher) who is impotent.

Some years elapse. Annu resurfaces and he returns to Allahabad to cast for his maiden feature film. Maithali goes to meet him, slaps him and returns. Having been unable to forget him through the years, Maithali tries once again to meet him on the sets of his film, shooting of which is in progress in the city. But Annu somehow can’t meet her, resulting in Maithali feeling agitated. However, her anger is short-lived because Annu indirectly apologises to her through a press interview. Meanwhile, Annu has returned to Bombay.

A few months later, Annu’s film is released, among others, at Milan Talkies in Allahabad. Maithali goes to watch the film and is shocked to see Annu and her story unfold in the film. Taking a cue from that, she concludes that Annu would return after two days to fetch her. She is unwilling to return to her home as she fears her drunkard and abusive husband, Guru.

Does Annu return to Allahabad? Do Annu and Maithali unite?

Tigmanshu Dhulia and Kamal Pandey’s story is routine and smacks of clichés. Their screenplay is so contrived that one realises quite early on that anything can happen anytime anywhere. Why Maithali slaps Annu when he returns to Allahabad to cast local actors for his film is not explained. After all, her family had played the proverbial stumbling block in her elopement with Annu, so how can she blame Annu for the same? The various attempts for Annu and Maithali to clear the air invariably fail – just so that the drama can be prolonged. In other words, nothing in the screenplay appears to be seamless, almost everything seems contrived.

Although it is a love story, the romance is far from heartwarming. Comedy and emotions are conspicuous by their absence.

The duo’s dialogues are routine.

Ali Fazal is okay as Annu. Sraddha Srinath is average in the role of Maithali Panda. She looks so-so. Ashutosh Rana does a very good job as Maithali’s father, Janardhan Panda. Rajiv Gupta is good as Maithali’s maternal uncle, Hariharan Panda. Sikandar Kher is ordinary as Guru. Reecha Sinha lends good support as Maithali’s friend, Babli. Sanjay Mishra makes his presence felt as cinema projectionist Usmanbhai. Tigmanshu Dhulia (as Annu’s father), Deepraj Rana (as Kaptan Singh), Kanupriya Pandit (as Annu’s mother), Anjali Manchanda (as Maithali’s mother), Mohit Baghel (as Qurbaan), Ajitesh Gupta (as Mayank), Prashant Kumar (as Fattu), Pankaj Saraswat (as the college professor), and the rest provide ordinary support.

Tigmanshu Dhulia’s direction is weak. Music (by Rana Mazumdar and Akriti Kakkar) is lively. Lyrics (Amitabh Bhattacharya and Akriti Kakkar) are alright. Vijay Ganguly’s choreography is ordinary. Background music (by Dharma Vish) is functional. Hari Vedantam’s camerawork is okay. Nishant Khan’s action and stunt scenes are average. Dhananjoy Mondal’s production designing and Balram Sarkar’s art direction are so-so. Pravin Angre’s editing leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, Milan Talkies is so routine and devoid of entertainment that it will go largely unnoticed at the box-office.

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Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures, PEN Studios, Aham Brahmasmi and PVR Cinemas’ Mere Pyare Prime Minister (UA) is the story of sanitation facilities or rather the lack of them among the lower strata of society.

Sargam is a single mother who lives in a chawl of Bombay with her little son, Kannu (Om Kanojiya). Since the chawl has no toilet facilities, the womenfolk defecate early in the morning in the open before people wake up. To feel safe, the ladies often go in groups. One day, Sargam is somehow alone for the job. As bad luck would have it, she is raped by a policeman.

Kannu is devastated and decides to do something. He makes a temporary toilet on a hill for his mother, using some bamboo sticks and his mother’s saree. The chawl dwellers are happy and they soon start using the toilet as their own. The temporary toilet breaks down on a stormy day. That’s when Kannu realises that he’d have to think of a permanent solution to his problem.

He visits the municipality office only to be told that since the chawl itself is illegal, the municipality would not build a toilet in it. Kannu is told that the only person who can help him is the Prime Minister. So, Kannu sets off for Delhi with two of his little friends, to meet PM Narendra Modi. Of course, they are unable to personally meet the PM but an official (Atul Kulkarni) in the Prime Minister’s office is very helpful. He ensures that Kannu’s application reaches the right place. Finally, one day, the authorities in Delhi inform Kannu that toilets would be built in his chawl. The chawl gets not one but several community toilets.

Manoj Mairta, Hussain Dalal and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra have penned a very basic story about the sanitation problem. Although it has noble intentions, the story fails to exploit the emotional aspect of the problem. In other words, their screenplay does not succeed in tugging at the heart-strings. Had the screenplay been able to make the audience cry or even feel terribly bad for Kannu and his mother, the drama would have made a far greater impact. In the form in which it unfolds, it appears more like a docu-drama and it leaves the audience almost unconcerned about what the outcome of Kannu’s efforts would be. Some scenes make the audience cringe! Dialogues, penned by the trio, are average.

Om Kanojiya acts ably and is endearing as Kannu. Anjali Patil is alright as Sargam. Niteesh Wadhwa does an average job in the role of Pappu, who loves Sargam. Rasika Agashe performs well as neighbour Rabiya. As Kannu’s friends, Syna Anand (Mangla), Adarsh Bharti (Ringtone) and Prasad Sawant (Nirala) lend good support. Makarand Deshpande is fair in the role of Sainath. Atul Kulkarni leaves a fine mark in a brief role. Neela Mulhekar (as Ajibai) and Nachiket Purnapatre (as Sajju) are okay.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s direction is fairly nice but he has not been able to make a heart-touching humane drama. Although Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is quite nice, the songs lack the popularity quotient. Gulzar’s lyrics are weighty. Tubby Parik’s background music has impact. Pawel Dyllus’ cinematography is effective. Rajat Poddar’s production designing is appropriate. Meghna Sen’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Mere Pyare Prime Minister has no commercial value as it will appeal neither to the classes nor the masses, neither to the kids nor the older generation.

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Amazon Studios, Filmscience, The Match Factory, Poetic License, KNM Production and Skywalk Films’ Photograph (UA) is the story of an unusual friendship.

Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a lower middle-class Muslim man who lives in Bombay and works as a photographer at Gateway Of India, clicking pictures of tourists and others visiting the landmark place. One day, he asks a local Bombay girl, Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), if she would like to be photographed. Miloni agrees, he clicks her pictures and hands her a printout but she disappears in the crowd without making the payment. Rafi has her other pictures with him. Miloni is a Gujarati girl who is a CA Foundation topper and who is now studying for Inter CA.

Back home, Rafi gets the news from his friends with whom he shares the room, and other acquaintances that his grandmother at his native place, has stopped taking her medicines, vowing to not restart till Rafi gets married. In fact, she is looking for a prospective bride for Rafi in all earnestness. Since Rafi is in no mood to marry just as yet, he writes a letter to his grandma, telling her that he is in love with a girl in Bombay. To substantiate his lie, he sends her Miloni’s picture and because he doesn’t know her real name, he tells his grandmother that her name is Noorie.

The excited grandma loses no time in announcing her arrival to Bombay. Quite by chance, Rafi bumps into Miloni and seizes the opportunity to request her to meet his grandmother when she arrives, and to pretend to be his girlfriend, Noorie. Miloni agrees, if only because she feels like helping Rafi. One meeting of Miloni alias Noorie with the grandma (Farrukh Jaffer) leads to one more and then yet another. Rafi’s grandmom approves of Noorie alias Miloni, and she believes the story that Noorie is a Muslim girl who has lost her parents and sister. Meanwhile, Rafi and Miloni keep meeting as they enjoy each other’s company.

Does the unlikely friendship between a streetside photographer and a well-to-do intelligent CA student turn into love and romance? Does Rafi’s grandmother get to know the truth?

Ritesh Batra has penned an unusual story and laced it with humour. However, the humour, which is cutely silly at times and rather intelligent at other times, would appeal to only a section of the elite audience. His screenplay is slow-paced and in spite of being humour-laden, it tests the patience of even the elite viewers. As for the masses and family audiences, they’d not be able to even appreciate most of the humour and hence dislike it, what to talk of the slow pace. The screenplay is also a bit depressing if only because both the lead characters are almost always shown to be sad and depressed. While Rafi’s sad state of mind is understandable (he belongs to a lower middle-class family and is struggling to make a living) and has also been explained in the end (he has to repay a loan), what is not comprehensible is Miloni’s not-happy state of mind. She’s a topper, she has a happy family, then what’s her problem in life? Why can’t she just smile and laugh like a normal girl her age and in such a happy space? There is simply no explanation offered in the screenplay, making the viewers wonder what’s wrong. The open ending of the drama makes the film even more elitist in appeal. Ritesh Batra’s dialogues are very realistic.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is fantastic as the photographer. He underplays his character so beautifully that one can’t help but marvel at his performance. Sanya Malhotra is outstanding as Miloni/Noorie. She has very limited dialogues to utter but she uses her facial expressions and body language to convey a lot. She is indeed a reservoir of talent. Farrukh Jaffer is terrific as Rafi’s outspoken grandmother. Geetanjali Kulkarni makes her presence felt as Miloni’s house help, Ram Pyari. Akash Sinha is natural to the core as Rafi’s photographer-friend. Saharsh Kumar Shukla and Abdul Quadir Amin lend able support. Sachin Khedekar and Lubna Salim are adequate as Miloni’s parents. Jim Sarbh is entertaining as Miloni’s teacher. Vijay Raaz leaves a fine impression in a tiny role as Tiwariji. Virendra Saxena and the others provide decent support.

Ritesh Batra’s direction is suitably sensitive but, like the script, it will appeal only to the gentry. Peter Raeburn’s background music is alright. Cinema­ tography (by Ben Kutchins and Tim­othy Gillis) is good. Shruti Gupte’s production designing is very nice. John F. Lyons’ editing is sharp. It often appears abrupt but that’s his style.

On the whole, Photograph is too elitist in appeal and hence will do some business only in high-end multiplexes of a few big cities. Overall, it will flop.

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Saregama and Yoodlee Films’ Hamid (UA) is set in strife-torn Kashmir.

Hamid’s (master Talha Arshad Reshi) father, Rehmat (Sumit Kaul), has gone missing, after which his mother, Ishrat (Rasika Duggal), has turned indifferent towards Hamid and the entire world. Little Hamid comes to believe that his father has been called by Allah to do some work in heaven. He also recalls his teacher telling him that 786 is Allah’s number. He tries different combinations of 786 from his dad’s cellphone, in a bid to connect with Allah. One such combination number makes him converse with someone he believes to be Allah. Hamid asks Allah to send back his father because he believes, Allah can do anything. Who Hamid considers Allah is actually Abhay (Vikas Kumar), a tough CRPF jawan.

Abhay is intrigued by Hamid’s innocent talk and he plays along for some days, pretending to be Allah. But then things start getting a bit serious, which is when Abhay reveals the truth to Hamid. Around the same time, Ishrat also comes to terms with the fact that her husband is not missing but may be dead.

Ravinder Randhawa and Aijaz Khan have adapted the story of a stage play, Phone No. 786, that touches the heart but it is also very depressing. The backdrop is morose and, therefore, there is no entertainment value in that sense. Ravinder Randhawa’s screenplay is slow-paced and although it keeps the audience engaged, it does get monotonous because it moves on a single track – of searching for a person who has gone missing. Dialogues, penned by Ravinder Randhawa and Sumit Saxena, are effective.

Master Talha Arshad Reshi is cute and also a natural actor. His acting is very good. Rasika Duggal is effective in the role of Ishrat. Vikas Kumar lends fine support as Abhay. Sumit Kaul leaves a mark as Rehmat. Bashir Lone (as Rasool Chacha), Gurveer Singh (as Rajinder), Ashraf Nagoo (as Basheer), Mir Sarwar (as Abbas), Qazi Faiz (as the beggar), Umar Adil (as the police officer), Gulam Hussain Barji (as the shopkeeper), Sajid Reshi (as the constable), Shafia (as Noor), and the rest are adequate.

Aijaz Khan’s direction is sensitive. He has handled the drama with a lot of care. Andrew T. Mackay’s background music is effective. John Wilmor’s camerawork is lovely. Production designing (by Mohd. Sikandar S. Ahmad and Mohd. Shamim Khan) is appropriate. Afzal S. Shaikh’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Hamid is a sensitive film but not of the kind which has commercial value. At the box-office, therefore, it will go largely unnoticed.

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Maddock Films and Jio Studios’ Luka Chuppi (UA) is a romcom.

Guddu Shukla (Kartik Aryan) works in a cable TV channel as a reporter and lives in Mathura with his father, Badriprasad Shukla (Atul Srivastava), mother (Alka Amin), eldest brother, Varun Shukla (Vishwanath Chatterjee), sister-in-law, Janki (Neha Saraf), unmarried elder brother, Vikas Shukla (Himanshu Kohli), and a little nephew, Chiku (master Samarth). Elder brother Vikas is frustrated because he is still unmarried despite numerous marriage proposals brought by the local match-maker. Rashmi (Kriti Sanon), who has studied in Delhi, comes home to her family for a month and joins the cable TV channel. Rashmi’s father, Vishnu Trivedi (Vinay Pathak), is the leader of Sanskriti Raksha Manch. He had lost in the elections last time but is gearing up for the elections again. His aide, Shrikant (Ajit Singh), and his other volunteers have made cleansing of the youth’s mindset their main agenda in the election manifesto. They target youngsters who publicly display affection and romance in the open, and blacken the faces of the guys indulging in the above. The Sanskriti Raksha Manch is totally against live-in relationships as, according to it, it goes against Indian culture which doesn’t allow proximity between a girl and a boy before marriage.

Guddu and Rashmi soon grow fond of each other. As luck would have it, Rashmi is keen on a live-in relationship just to be doubly sure before marrying Guddu. Since Mathura is a small town, Guddu isn’t sure how they’d make their live-in relationship happen. However, they get lucky when they are sent to Gwalior for 20 days, on a work assignment. Accompanying them is cameraman Abbas (Aparshakti Khurrana) who comes up with a brainwave.

Going by Abbas’ idea, Guddu and Rashmi take a flat in Gwalior on rent. Since the locality is quite backward, the two pretend to be married and even exhibit fake pictures of their ‘marriage’ all over their home so that their neighbours let them live in peace, as a couple. However, Babulal (Pankaj Tripathi), the brother of Guddu’s sister-in-law, spots Guddu romancing Rashmi at a public place in Gwalior. He spills the beans before Guddu’s family which lands in Gwalior and is shocked to see that Guddu is married to Rashmi. Both, Guddu and Rashmi, can’t muster the courage to tell Guddu’s family that they aren’t married and that they are in a live-in relationship.

After a lot of heartburn and discussions in both the families, it is decided to officially get Guddu and Rashmi married for the world to know. But since Rashmi’s conservative father is against performing the marriage rituals over again, the wedding celebrations are held for the world to see but the marriage ceremony is not performed. Rashmi now comes to live with the Shukla family as Guddu’s wife. However, both, Guddu and Rashmi, are guilty as they aren’t still married. In a way, they are now in a live-in relationship but with the boy’s entire family!

Guddu and Rashmi try to complete the marriage rituals so that they can be a legally wedded couple but they have to obviously do it on the sly. Each time they try, Guddu is caught and the repercussions are catastrophic because everybody thinks, Guddu is going in for a second marriage!

What happens finally? Do Guddu and Rashmi marry each other? Do the two families get to know about their live-in relationship in Gwalior?

Rohan Shankar has penned a story and screenplay which are different, yet interesting. The concept of live-in relationship has been tackled in such a comical way that it keeps the audience in splits, especially after interval. Frankly, the first half is a bit slow and also not as funny as it ought to have been. Nevertheless, two scenes of Babulal are hilarious before interval. Also funny are the scenes of the ultra-inquisitive neighbour in Gwalior. Rohan Shankar’s screenplay is excellent post-interval. In fact, the fun element in the second half is so outstanding that it elicits loud rounds of laughter ever so often. The last around 30 minutes of the drama are simply extraordinary. The frustration of Vikas Shukla on learning that younger brother Guddu is married while he still hasn’t found a match, and again, when Guddu is, time and again, assumed to be marrying another woman, is too funny to be true. Babulal’s Nosey Parker scenes are to die for. The mass marriage sequence in the climax is also hilarious. All in all, the second half is not just fast-paced but also truly terrific because of the wonderful comedy. Rohan Shankar’s dialogues are just too lovely and create a lot of humour.

Kartik Aryan does a fine job as Guddu. His acting is effortless and he is the best when he is helpless in the second half. Kriti Sanon looks very pretty and plays Rashmi ably. She has an endearing style which enables her to connect well with the viewers. Pankaj Tripathi deserves full marks for playing Babulal so effectively. It would not be wrong to say that he brings the house down with laughter each time he comes on the screen. His clothes and demeanour only add to his performance. Aparshakti Khurrana stands out in a relatively subdued role as Abbas. He is very entertaining in the second half. Ajit Singh deserves distinction marks for his performance as Vishnu Trivedi’s aide, Shrikant. The guy is remarkable. Vinay Pathak lends lovely support as Vishnu Trivedi. Atul Srivastava provides excellent support as Guddu’s father, Badriprasad Shukla. Alka Amin is very good as Guddu’s mother. Vishwanath Chatterjee shines as Guddu’s eldest brother, Varun. In the role of the second brother (Vikas), Himanshu Kohli is also remarkable. Neha Saraf’s performance as Guddu’s sister-in-law is applause-worthy. Mas­ter Samarth has his moments as Guddu’s nephew, Chiku. Arun Kushwaha is good as Chhotu. Abhinav Shukla makes his presence felt as film actor Nazim Khan. Sapna Sand needs special mention for her acting as Mrs. Srivastava. Vimi Mehta leaves a mark as Mrs. Savitri Trivedi. Nabil Singh (as the fake pandit), Kuldeep Singh (as the pandit in the hill temple), Poonam Mathur (as Mrs. Kohli), Jitendra Gaur (as Mr. Kohli), Vijay Srivastava (as the broker) and the others lend fine support.

Laxman Utekar’s direction is excellent. He may have taken time to get a grip on the subject but once he does that (just a little before interval), he provides the audience non-stop entertainment. Music (Tanishk Bagchi, White Noise Studios, Abhijit Vaghani and Tony Kakkar) is very nice. ‘Laung elaichi’ and ‘Coca Cola’ are fast-paced and entertaining songs while the other songs are also good. Lyrics (White Noise Studios, Kunaal Verma, Nirmaan, Mellow D, Harmanjit and Tony Kakkar) are in synch with the film’s mood. Song picturisations (by Ganesh Acharya, Vijay Ganguly and Ruel Dausan Varindani) are engaging. Ketan Sodha’s background music is impactful and complements the drama. Milind Jog’s cinematography is nice. Manini Mishra’s production designing is of a good standard. Editing (by Manish Pradhan) is sharp.

On the whole, Luka Chuppi has an excellent second half to keep the audience thoroughly entertained, and the producers, distributors and exhibitors extremely happy. In commercial terms, the very moderately-priced Luka Chuppi will definitely prove to be a box-office hit.

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Fox Star Studios, Ajay Devgn Ffilms, Maruti International, Sri Adhikari Brothers and Anand Pandit Motion Pictures’ Total Dhamaal is an adventure comedy.

Guddu (Ajay Devgan) and Johnny (Sanjay Mishra) get news of a huge cash transaction taking place in a hotel room. The two reach there to loot the money but they are in for a shock when they see the police commissioner (Boman Irani) himself involved in the black money racket. The duo manages to fool the police commissioner and escape with the loot money amounting to Rs. 50 crore but their friend, Pintu (Manoj Pahwa), gives them the slip and runs away with the money. Guddu and Johnny are hot on his trail – just like the police commissioner is hot on the trail of Guddu and Johnny because he doesn’t know that they don’t have the loot money.

Pintu hides the money safely but he can’t do much with it because he soon meets with an accident while travelling in an aeroplane (alone with the ‘pilot’) which crashes. Six people happen to see the plane crash and they decide to save Pintu. The six are travelling in three different cars. One car has Avinash (Anil Kapoor) and his wife, Bindu (Madhuri Dixit). The two are headed for a divorce because they don’t get along with one another. Another car has brothers Adi (Arshad Warsi) and Manav (Jaaved Jafferi) travelling in it. The third car has friends Lallan (Ritesh Deshmukh) and Jhingur (Pitobash Tripathi). All the six are overjoyed when Pintu tells them that he has hidden Rs. 50 crore in Janak­pur zoo, and after saying so, he breathes his last. Pintu has given them a clue about the location of the money but has not told them about the exact location. Even as the three pairs, who have met each other for the first time, are planning their next move, Guddu and Johnny arrive in another car. After a lot of arguments and discussions about the ratio of sharing the loot money, it is decided that the entire money would belong to the pair which reaches the zoo first.

Since the zoo is far away, the four pairs try their level best to reach the zoo first. But their journeys are beset with problems. Avinash and Bindu first lose their way, after which their car has to cross a rickety bridge made of planks of wood, and then a deluge of water. Guddu and Johnny have to change cars, are followed by the police commissioner who soon catches up with them, and have to make do with a GPS system (voice over by Jackie Shroff) which guides them through dangerous terrain. Adi and Manav’s car catches fire, after which Adi almost dies in a quicksand experience. In a bid to beat everyone else in the race, Lallan and Jhingur hire a worn-out helicopter belonging to Shubroto (Johny Lever) but the helicopter is a veritable killing machine. The two also land atop an under-construction high-rise from where death stares at them.

Anyway, the four pairs reach the zoo at the same time. They begin the hunt for the loot money but before that, they decide to save the wild animals (lions, tigers, chimpanzees, elephants, rhinoceros etc.) which would otherwise all die by consuming poisoned food, thanks to the machinations of Chinappa Swamy (Mahesh Manjrekar) who claims to have bought the zoo, a fact unknown to present owner and caretaker Prachi (Esha Gupta). The police commissioner also soon reaches the zoo.

Is the loot money finally found? Who finds it? Who keeps the money?

Ved Prakash, Paritosh Painter and Bunty Rathore have penned a story which may not boast of novelty but it definitely has a lot of fresh gags. The track of animals, of course, is new and interesting too. The story is so fast-paced that it keeps the audience in­volved throughout. It is also very enter- taining. The trio’s screenplay is full of wit and humour. Yes, many of the jokes are silly but they are so entertaining and enjoyable that the viewers don’t care whether they are silly or intelligent. Of course, logic has no place in the screenplay but the tone for a film sans logic is set right from the word ‘go’. There are at least six to seven highlight sequences which are so fantastic that they evoke a lot of laughter. The entire helicopter sequence of Lallan, Jhingur and Shubroto is simply hilarious and will bring the house down with laughter. The scene of Avinash driving on the rickety wooden bridge also has the viewers in splits. Likewise, the family courtroom scene of Avinash and Bindu with the judge (Sharad Vyas) is very funny. Lallan and Jhingur’s sequence atop the under-construction building has the audiences holding their sides while laughing. Adi and Manav’s quicksand sequence is another hilarious one. The scene in which Guddu drives the car under instructions from the GPS system is extremely entertaining. The train tunnel sequence involving Guddu, Johnny, the police commissioner and his assistant (Vijay Patkar) is terrific. The scenes of the principal characters with the animals in the zoo are outstanding and keep the audience wonderfully entertained. Dialogues, penned by the three writers, are absolutely brilliant as they greatly add to the humour quotient.

Anil Kapoor plays the Gujarati husband with complete conviction. He is very good. Madhuri Dixit looks beautiful and also performs very well as the Marathi wife, out to divorce her husband. Ajay Devgan does a superb job as Guddu. His acting is lovely. Arshad Warsi impresses in the role of Adi. His comic sense of timing is terrific. Jaaved Jaaferi plays the dim-witted Manav so excellently that he raises laughter every time he opens his mouth. Ritesh Deshmukh is splendid as Lallan, using his expressions and body language to the hilt. Sanjay Mishra lends excellent support as Johnny. Pitobash Tripathi makes his presence amply felt in the role of Jhingur. Boman Irani is first-rate as the commissioner of police. He shines with a very natural performance. Johny Lever is extraordinary and makes a mind-blowing impact. Mahesh Manjrekar has his moments as Chinappa Swami. He gets into the skin of the character. Manoj Pahwa leaves a mark as Pintu. Vijay Patkar plays the police commissioner’s assistant with élan. Esha Gupta is alright as Prachi. Ali is good as the non-Hindi-speaking man in the jungle. Special mention must be made of Jackie Shroff’s voice over as the GPS instructor. He is excellent. Sonakshi Sinha looks slim and glamorous and dances well in a special appearance. Niharica Raizada is okay in a tiny role as Adi’s girlfriend. Sudesh Lehri (as Altaaf), Ashwin Mushran (as the sky-diving leader), Sharad Vyas (as the judge) and Chandrasekhar S. Gautam (as the man in the trolley) provide very good support. Others are adequate.

Indra Kumar’s direction is excellent. He narrates the drama with such conviction that he makes the illogical drama seem plausible or at least one which should not be questioned in terms of logic. Gourov-Roshin’s music is good. ‘Paisa yeh paisa’ and ‘Mung­da’ are, of course, remixed versions of already hit songs and so, they are very entertaining. ‘Speaker phat jaaye’ is also a good number. Lyrics (Kumaar and Kunwar Juneja) are in synch with the film’s mood. Song picturisations (choreography by Ranju Varghese and Adil Shaikh) are quite eye-filling. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background music is impactful. Keiko Nakahara’s cinematography is lovely. R.P. Yadav’s action and stunts are very enjoyable. Durgaprasad Mahapatra’s production designing is of a good standard. Dharmendra Sharma’s editing is very sharp. Computer graphics and visual effects (by NY VFXwaala) are excellent.

On the whole, Total Dhamaal is truly total dhamaal. It is a thoroughly entertaining joyride and will keep the audience in splits, and the producers and distributors smiling from ear to ear. The classes may not like the comedy fare but families, kids and masses will love the film which will prove to be a paying proposal for all concerned. The film will definitely join the 100-crore club and will surpass that figure quite easily.

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Excel Entertainment and Tiger Baby’s Gully Boy (UA) is the story of an aspiring rap singer and his journey from rags to stardom. It borrows liberally from the life stories of rap singers Naezy and Divine.

Murad (Ranveer Singh) is a lower middle-class boy who studies in college and lives in a chawl with his father (Vijay Raaz), mother (Amruta Subhash), younger brother, Suhail (Svar Kamble), and grandmother (Jyoti Subhash). His father is a driver of a rich family. The father wants Murad to also take up some small job so that he can supplement the family income. However, Murad’s heart is in rap songs. He dreams of becoming a rap singer but doesn’t know how to go about it. He writes his own songs and is very passionate about rapping. His father hates Murad’s passion and can’t see eye to eye with him on that. In fact, the father asks Murad to fill in for him as driver when he himself meets with an accident which sees his leg in cast. Murad obliges but hates the very thought of serving someone in this fashion. So he continues to pursue his dream, now with rapper-friend MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi).

Murad is in love with Safeena (Alia Bhatt) who is studying to be a doctor. Safeena is also mad about Murad and can well understand his passion. Safeena’s parents (Sheeba Chaddha who is a housewife, and Ikhlaque Khan who is a doctor) are unaware of Safeena’s affair.

Even while Murad’s struggle is on, his father marries another lady, Parveen (Tina Bhatiya), and gets her to stay in the tiny house, with the rest of the family. This frustrates Murad even more. Anyway, things are looking up on the professional front as Sky (Kalki Koechlin), a music composer, collaborates with Murad and MC Sher.

There comes a stage when Murad and Safeena drift apart due to differences. Meanwhile, Murad is working hard to qualify for the finals in the rap singing contest which will win him Rs. 10 lakh in prize money and give him a chance to meet a famous international rap singer. Along the way, Murad is forced to leave home with his mom and brother. His maternal uncle, Ateeq (Vijay Maurya), tries to get him a respectable job but is Murad interested at all?

What happens finally? Does Murad take up a nine-to-five job or does he step into his father’s shoes or does he become a rap singer? Does he qualify for the finals and win the competition? Do Murad and Safeena patch up? What had led to Murad and Safeena’s break-up?

The film’s story, inspired by the lives of two famous rap singers, has been written by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar. The story is penned in such an extraordinary fashion that it has the audience hooked on to it right from the word ‘go’. The characters are so real and their aspirations, so relateable that the story, in a way, becomes everyone’s story. The hookline – Apna time aayega – is a fantastic one because it has been an aspirational hookline for every human being at some point or the other. In that sense also, the story becomes the story of every person watching the film.

Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar deserve distinction marks for an outstanding screenplay which completely and absolutely consumes the audience. The screenplay has layers and each layer is splendid. Murad’s family drama has a lot of meat. Safeena’s family story is also extremely interesting. Murad and Safeena’s love story has a lot of depth, humour and emotions. Murad’s journey, of course, is simply remarkable. The sub-plots in the drama are several and each of them has been so wonderfully written that one can’t help but marvel at the genius of the two writers. The screenplay may not make the viewers cry but it does get a tear to the eyes of the weak-hearted while filling the strong-hearted with emotions. The humour is simply delightful. Yes, a film about rap singers and singing and with 17-18 rap songs may not appeal to a section of the over-50 (age group) audience but even they would like the other dramas in the screenplay. Frankly, one was not aware of the popularity of the rap culture in India till the first trailer of this film was out – after which, it seemed as if Indians, especially the youth, have had an affair with rap singing since ages! In other words, there may be some who may be sceptical about an entire film on rap artistes but once in the film, many among those will take to it like fish to water. The climax looks abrupt but the tying up of loose threads in the end rolling titles makes up for the sudden ending.

Vijay Maurya deserves high praise for his mind-blowing dialogues. He has used the language which lower middle-class Muslims use, complete with the accent and all. Not just that, his dialogues are so weighty that they become a major asset of the film.

Ranveer Singh lends tremendous energy to the character of Murad. He does a splendid job and comes out with flying colours. Kudos to him for looking every inch like a lower middle-class chawl-residing Muslim boy raring to pursue his passion, and his awkwardness as a fresher is lovely. He delivers an award-winning performance and proves that no role is difficult for him. This actor is a strong candidate for superstardom! Alia Bhatt shines in the role of Safeena, which she plays with élan. Although the story revolves around Ranveer Singh, there are six to seven scenes which belong to Alia and she stands out so extraordinarily in them that everyone else pales into insignificance. This girl is just in a different league altogether. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that her’s, too, is an award-worthy performance. She looks very beautiful also. Siddhant Chaturvedi looks handsome and is absolutely first-rate as MC Sher. He is so endearing in his debut role that girls will go weak in the knees. Kalki Koechlin is excellent as Sky. Although she has a brief role, she has a terrific impact on the audience. Vijay Raaz lends a great deal of authenticity to his character. He performs beautifully as Murad’s father and looks the character. Amruta Subhash is lovely as Murad’s suffering mother. Sheeba Chaddha has her moments as Safeena’s mother. Ikhlaque Khan is restrained in the role of Safeena’s father. Vijay Maurya stands his own as Murad’s maternal uncle, Ateeq. Vijay Verma is natural to the core as Moeen. Nakul Roshan Sahdev is very good as Salman. Rahil Gilani makes his presence felt as Rishi. Jyoti Subhash (as Murad’s grandmother), Tina Bhatiya (as Murad’s stepmother, Parveen), Rohini Ramnathan (as Murad’s maternal aunt), Svar Kamble (as Suhail), and Malika Singh (as Suhani) provide excellent support. Srishti Shrivastava (as Albina), Ved Thapar (as Sher’s dad), and the rest are also lovely.

Zoya Akhtar’s direction deserves distinction marks. She needs to be lauded for having the courage to make a commercial film on rap culture and making such a wonderfully entertaining film. Her narration keeps the audience totally engrossed. She will win a lot of praise for her direction. Music is excellent. ‘Apna time aayega’, ‘Mere galli mein’, ‘Doori’, ‘Azadi’, ‘Asli hip hop’ and ‘Kab se kab tak’ are excellent songs. ‘Apna time aayega’, of course, has already become a rage. Although all the music directors and lyricists deserve pats on their backs, the ones who stand out are music directors Spitfire, Divine, Naezy, Sez On The Beat, Rishi Rich, Major C, Dub Sharma, Ankur Tewari, Karsh Kale, Ace and Ishq Bector, and lyricists Spitfire, Divine, Naezy, Javed Akhtar, Dub Sharma, Kaam Bhari, Ankur Tewari and Ace. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics of Murad’s poems deserve special mention. Bosco-Caesar’s choreography is fantastic. Background music (by Karsh Kale and Savage Audio Collective) is terrific. Jay Oza’s cinematography is brilliant. Manohar Verma and Sunil Rodrigues’ action scenes and stunts are lovely. Suzanne Caplan Merwanji’s production designing is of a high standard. Nitin Baid’s editing is super-sharp.

On the whole, Gully Boy is a blockbuster. Its hookline, ‘Apna time aayega’, is so identifiable that it will resonate with the audience. There would be a section of the audience which may find the rap songs too much to handle but there will be a huge chunk of young viewers who would go bonkers over the film. Repeat audiences will be aplenty. Yes, the film may not work in several centres but its business from the big and medium cities will be so huge that it will turn out to be a richly rewarding enterprise.

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