By: Keyur Seta
Badminton player P V Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik have managed to save the face of the country at the ongoing Rio Olympics 2016 by winning a Silver and Bronze medal respectively. They came to India’s rescue when its medal tally was 0.
But what makes their feat more special is that it has come at a time when people from our political class and people from some ‘social’ organizations have been openly endorsing sexist views. So, in my opinion, they have defeated these bigots in such a way that now they have no place to hide their faces.
Just like the list of winners, here is a list of losers (quite literally) and the statements that ensured their rise to fame (read: shame).
“A girl should be married off after she turns 18. By the time they turn 25, they become so mature that they don’t listen to anyone… Girls’ feet are not on the ground due to education. Is it necessary for a girl to be adamant and run after her career? People talk about men-women equality. But is it possible to hide the weakness provided by nature?” - A leader of the group DURGA VAHINI (an arm of Vishwa Hindu Parishad)
(Watch from 3:50 onwards)
“Women’s duty is to carry out household chores.” - MOHAN BHAGWAT, RSS Chief
“If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country's tradition asks girls to dress decently.” - MANOHAR LAL KHATTAR, Chief Minister of Haryana
“Women should dress in a way that earns them respect.” - KAILASH VIJAYVARGIYA, National General Secretary, BJP
“Girls night out is against Indian culture.” - MAHESH SHARMA, India’s Culture (???) Minister
“A girl should go out either with her husband or brother.” - ABU AZMI, Samajwadi Party Maharashtra President
(Feel free to add more if you come across any)
P V SINDHU Interview
By: Keyur Seta
The early sunrise succeeded in making its way in an otherwise cloudy month of August. The day marked the arrival of India’s 69th Independence Day. It seemed that the energetic group of people at Shiv Shakti Society in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park area was just waiting for the first rays to commence preparations for the Independence Day celebrations.
The group consisted people from all age groups and both genders. The only common factor that united them was their traditional attire neatly worn.
The folded national flag was slowly getting tied on the pole amid the playing of patriotic songs like ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti,’ ‘Jai Janani Jai Bharat Ma,’ ‘Mera Rang De Basanti Chola,’ ‘Aye Watan Aye Watan,’ etc.
A figure emerged from the building oblivious to the events around him. He was in his early 20s wearing three-fourths and a T-shirt. This, along with long hair and unshaven face easily made him the odd man out. He looked disinterested in the proceedings around him as he listened to ‘Kala Chashma’ in his earphones. This didn’t go down well with the crowd present, which gave him a look of contempt. Some were also offended by the absence of tricolor on his T-shirt.
An uncle in his 50s emerged in front of him greeting him through a hand gesture. The boy removed his earphones and smiled. The man said, “Come, join us for the Independence Day celebrations. Almost everyone from the society is here.” The youngster simply said, “Sorry, but I need to go somewhere.”
A middle-aged woman added, “Come on beta, it’s our country’s independence day!” The boy, now uncomfortable, replied, “I know aunty. But I have some other plans.” A couple of people also tried convincing him but in vain. Finally, he walked away out of the compound plugging his earphones.
This enraged most of the people in the group as they started criticizing him among themselves. “Well, these are today’s youngsters. What else do you expect?” “No respect for the country.” “He must have gone to meet his girlfriend.” “Did you see how he was dressed?”
The uncle, who had stopped him, added thunderously, “Such people are anti-nationals!” Everyone present agreed with him wholeheartedly.
The atmosphere cooled down in few minutes and they got ready for flag hoisting. Everyone present passionately sung India’s national anthem after the eldest member of the society unfurled the flag. Chants of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ followed. They chit-chatted for some time after wishing ‘Happy Independence Day’ to each other.
Some 30 kilometers away at an orphanage in Andheri, a group of kids were eagerly awaiting Krishna bhaiya and his friends. They visited every August 15 and January 26 to serve them delicious meals and donate some amount to the trustees of the orphanage. The kids didn’t need to wait long as they could see Krishna, along with few others, crossing the road outside their gate. He was still listening to ‘Kala Chashma.’
Back at Shiv Shakti Society, the group of patriots retired to their respective flats after the function. They spent the rest of the day doing activities like watching TV, surfing the net, going for shopping, watching movies, eating at a nearby restaurants, meeting friends over drinks, etc.
Just before midnight, Krishna, the odd man from the society, smiled as he thought about the events of the day. As he closed his eyes satisfactorily, he remembered the words of his late father, “Never announce or publicize charity. If you do, it no longer remains charity.”
Do not stand on a high pedestal and take five cents in your hand and say, “Here, my poor man”; but be grateful that the poor man is there, so that by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect.
- Swami Vivekananda
By: Keyur Seta
The title Mohenjo Daro gives an indication of the film to be an ancient historical saga. However, even before the interval point, you realize that the name is misleading. But having said this, the Ashutosh Gowariker film has few things that make it an average fare, more so for the lovers of formulaic Hindi films.
Story (without spoilers): The story takes place in 2016 BC. Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) is a brave and adventurous farmer living in the northwest region of India with his aunt and uncle. He is eager to visit the land beyond the mountain – the city of Mohenjo Daro. But he is never allowed by his aunt and uncle due to some reason. They don’t succeed in stopping him much though and hesitantly allow him to visit the place to sell their produce.
Sarman is mesmerized by Mohenjo Daro. But he gets a strange déjà vu feeling. He soon realizes the dark underbelly of the city ruled by the evil Mahaam (Kabir Bedi). Sarman feels like returning but his liking towards a young girl, Chaani (Pooja Hegde) and his gut feeling ask him to stay back.
- The fast screenplay doesn’t give you much time to think much. The story is narrated quite smartly.
- For the first time, Govariker has tried such raw fight scenes and has managed to pull them off pretty well. He is ably supported by the stunt choreographer. The fight scene in the second half deserves special mention for the seeti-bajao effect it produces.
- The hugely difficult task of recreating a period as old as this one is carried out with some degree of conviction, although few sets don’t suit the era at all.
- The camerawork falls in the good category while the background score succeeds in producing the effect.
- The justification for using Hindi as the language and the manner of justifying it is intelligently done.
- The film is relevant in today’s era as it touches topics like power hunger, hypocrite leaders of state, corruption, democracy, free speech and people power.
- Mohenjo Daro rides high on Hrithik Roshan’s shoulders and he delivers a convincing act. He keeps the film alive. Manish Chaudhary, Naina Trivedi (Chaani’s friend), Suhasini Mulay, Narendra Jha, Sharad Kelkar and few others offer good support. Kabir Bedi is decent as the bad guy while Arunoday Singh, as his son, is average.
- The biggest problem with Mohenjo Daro is the title. The film is like a typical cliché-ridden Hindi potboiler with hardly any relevance to that era. In other words, the story could have taken place anywhere and in any time zone.
- The climax tries justifying the title and the scenes are overwhelming too. However, the idea turns out to be silly.
- The events in the second half are too convenient.
- The basic plot is a mixture of Baahubali and Agneepath.
- Quite a few times the behavior of the characters is illogical and silly.
- A R Rahman’s music produces a couple of hummable tracks but that’s it.
- Pooja Hegde is a disappointment as she lacks acting skills. Her weird attire makes it worse.
Overall: Mohenjo Daro can be seen once if you enjoy Bollywood masala films. It has some chance of earning decent in the first weekend at the box-office. But the budget of over Rs 100 crore and tough competition from Rustom will ensure it faces huge losses.
Rating: * * ½
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Producers: UTV Motion Pictures and AGPPL
Writers: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Kabir Bedi, Pooja Hegde, Arunoday Singh, Manish Chaudhary, Naina Trivedi
Music: A R Rahman
Genre: Period drama
Runtime: 155 minutes
By: Keyur Seta
The biggest box-office clash of 2016 is here – Rustom vs Mohenjo Daro. The big question on people’s minds is as to which film will outsmart the other at the box office. The prediction, going by the buzz created by the trailers, is that Akshay Kumar’s Rustom will emerge victorious.
The reasons for this are follows:-
-- Over the last few years, Akshay Kumar has gained a lot of respect from the lovers of sensible cinema as well after doing films like Special 26, Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, Baby, Gabbar Is Back and Airlift.
-- There has been keen anticipation for Rustom as this is yet another tie-up between Akshay and Neeraj Pandey after Special 26 and Baby (although Pandey is only the producer here).
-- The eagerness, due to the above mentioned points, has gone many notches higher after the trailer of Rustom released. It has instantly received thumbs-up from the audience. Hence, half the battle is won.
-- On the other hand, there was keen anticipation for Mohenjo Daro due to the re-teaming of Ashutosh Gowariker, Hrithik Roshan and A R Rahman. But the first trailer of the film has given rise to negative buzz (although personally I have liked it). The subsequent songs, which aren’t bad, haven’t helped the cause.
-- The film is already being panned for getting its facts and costumes wrong.
Due to all these factors, it would have been wise for the makers of Mohejo Daro to postpone the film. Now, the only hope for it to emerge victorious at the box-office is to super impress with its content and receive positive word-of-mouth. Else the film is doomed.
Going by few scenes in the trailers, there seems to be a punar janam (reincarnation) angle in the film. Such surprise elements can be the trump card.
Although Rustom is expected to earn very well if it gets a positive response, don’t even think of comparing its collections with Sultan, the year’s biggest box-office hit so far. The only film that can prove to be a threat for the Salman Khan starrer is Aamir Khan’s Dangal.
The last decade has seen a number of Marathi films that can be relished by a PAN India audience. But there have also been some with international appeal. Director Samit Kakkad’s Half Ticket clearly belongs to the latter category. It has the potential of bringing a smile to anyone who has a heart.
Half Ticket is the official remake of the Tamil film, Kakka Muttai. It follows the story of two kids (Shubham More and Vinayak Potdar) from Dharavi, Mumbai’s slum hub. With their father languishing in jail and mother (Priyanka Bose) earning a paltry sum from her sewing job, they literally live from hand-to-mouth.
As the kids get their nourishment from eating crow eggs, they are nicknamed, Motha Kawlyacha Anda and Chhota Kawlyacha Anda. They try to make ends meet by selling coal from railway tracks. An incident introduces them with pizza, a variety they were unaware of before. Besotted by its look and smell, relishing pizza becomes the sole aim of their life. But how will they afford a dish which is luxurious by their standards?
A large number of Mumbai population lives in slums. The living condition over their will give a sad shock to people from the outside world. The film provides this feeling by bringing a truly realistic depiction of the life in slum. This is an enormous achievement for the director since shooting a feature film in such conditions can be a nightmare for those not accustomed to it.
But for a film to work it is mandatory for it to be high on storytelling and this is exactly what Half Ticket achieves. As the kids go about their daily activities and chasing their desires, you can’t help but root for them. This was also possible since the screenplay doesn’t go off-track whatsoever. This ensures that the film says a lot without saying much, more so during the heart-warming climax.
Half Ticket does come with a few issues. A couple of incidents don't seem completely convincing and the length could have been a bit shorter. On few occasions in the first half, the roadside noise in the background overpowers the dialogues. Thankfully, these points are overshadowed by the plusses.
The technical has department played a large role in making the final product of international caliber. It is difficult to ignore Sanjay Memame’s (DoP) creative shots. The songs, used in the background, go well with the theme. But it is the pleasurable background score that stays with you for long.
The film rides high on performances, which is vital for such subjects. Shubham More and Vinayak Potdar have surrendered to their characters with utmost dedication. Lest not forget the conditions in which they shot.
Priyanka Bose, who makes her Marathi film debut, also gets into the skin of her character. Despite being a non-Marathi, she shows conviction while speaking the language. Usha Naik, as the grandmother, Bhalchandra Kadam, as the kids' friend, also chip in with earnest performances.
Overall:Half Ticket is an honestly made film about kids, which will appeal to grown-ups as well. It has a chance of doing well at the box-office provided it receives word-of-mouth. The only danger it faces is Rajinikanth’s Kabali.
Director: Samit Kakkad
Producers: Video Palace
Writers: M Manikandan (original story), Dnyanesh Zoting,
Cast: Shubham More, Vinayak Potdar, Priyanka Bose, Usha Naik, Bhalchandra Kadam
Music: G V Prakash Kumar
Release date: July 22, 2016
Runtime: 114 minutes
Rating: * * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
The story of a fallen hero who fights back can be predictable. This is more applicable in the case of Ali Abbas Zafar’s Sultan since the makers revealed almost everything in the trailer. However, this doesn’t turn out to be a hindrance since the predictability is enjoyable and moving due to various factors.
Sultan revolves around Sultan (Salman Khan), who lives a happy-go-lucky life in Rewari, Haryana while working as a dish TV operator. His eyes fall on Arfa (Anushka Sharma), a wrestler, and he instantly falls for her. In order to win her love, he learns wrestling and goes onto become an Olympic Gold Medalist for India. But one incident ensures he loses everything. How will Sultan fight back?
There is no doubt that Sultan is about wrestling. But it’s more about various internal battles the protagonist is fighting against himself. And the film rises to a high level because this aspect is taken care of very smartly. Hence, you start rooting for Sultan, even if you are not a Salman fan. These factors ensure you don’t mind the predictability, even in the climax, which produces a deep impact.
But Sultan satisfies more in the second half. This doesn’t mean that the first half is bad. It’s just that the important turns in the tale aren’t justified completely. For example, Sultan’s love track is hugely important but the manner in which he falls in love is quite immature. The typical 90s method of the hero stalking and troubling the girl is passed off as romance. A couple of other important incidents too are not fully convincing. Thankfully, the various plus points of the second half won’t let you think much of these points.
Music wise (Vishal-Shekhar), Sultan is a rare case of all songs being impressive. As they are placed as per the situation, none of them appear forced. The title song and ‘Jag ghoomeya’ are the best of the lot. Sultan also impresses in the technical department (camerawork, background score and editing). The stunt director deserves high praise for the high number of wrestling scenes.
Lastly, it is Salman Khan’s dedicated performance that plays a large role in creating the heartwarming effect. This character would have been challenging for any actor, both in terms of acting skills and the physical exertion. The hard-work he put in is clearly visible. Although not his best but clearly one of his best acts.
To highly impress in a film that celebrates Salman is a big feat and this is exactly what Anushka Sharma achieves with a powerful act. Although she doesn’t quite appear like a wrestler, she doesn’t let it show. As Salman’s best friend Govind, Anant Sharma is highly impressive. He is sure to become famous in the coming days. Amit Sadh too is likeable as the owner of Pro Wrestling Federation. Kumud Mishra, as Sultan’s coach, delivers yet another skilful act. The various other supporting actors, including Randeep Hooda, too play their part well.
Overall: Sultan is a powerfully moving saga. It is sure to earn huge collections at the box-office. On the first day itself the film has earned around Rs 38 crore, despite the day not turning out to be Eid.
Rating: * * * 1/2
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Producers: Yash Raj Films
Writer: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Anant Sharma, Amit Sadh, Kumud Mishra, Randeep Hooda
Music: Vishal Shekhar
Runtime/ Length: 170 minutes
Salman Khan’s Sultan is just three days away from release. The excitement for the film is phenomenal to say the least. In fact, the anticipation is simply crazy. This can be seen from the terrific advance booking sales today, the day when the booking started. The online booking too is going the remarkable way.
So, the basic question shouldn’t be whether the film will be a blockbuster. It should rather be as to how many box-office records (in India) Sultan would set. Let’s explore the prediction.
Highest first day collection: This record is in the name of Shah Rukh Khan’s Happy New Year, which earned Rs 44 crore on the opening day. Going by the sheer excitement, the Eid holiday and the fact that it’s releasing in more than 3500 screens, Sultan is likely to beat this record.
Highest opening weekend: Salman’s own Prem Ratan Dhan Payo holds this record as it amassed Rs 129 crore in its first weekend. But the film was released on Friday while Sultan will see the light of day on Wednesday. Hence, there is every possibility of it setting a new record in this category too. Trade pundits have predicted the film to gather Rs 150 crore in the first weekend.
Salman’s biggest box-office hit: Bajrangi Bhaijaan tops the list here with Rs 319 crore. Although Sultan is all set to become a blockbuster, the prediction whether or not it will beat BB can be made only after knowing its word-of-mouth.
Biggest box-office hit of all time: Aamir Khan’s PK currently relishes this position with Rs 338 crore. Over here too content will solely decide whether Sultan will become a film with the highest box-office collections ever. The prediction over here depends only on the content.
So, all eyes are set on Wednesday July 6, 2016 to see whether history will be created at the Indian box-office.
By: Keyur Seta
Irani Restaurants or Hotels enjoy an iconic status in Mumbai. Their special tea, Bun Muska and other snack items are a delight for your taste buds. But along with food, its ambience provides a feeling that cannot be described in words. It gives the old world charm of the old uncomplicated and simple Bombay.
Unfortunately, a large population of the city is bereft of this experience because there aren’t many Irani Restaurants. Mumbai is so large that it is also practically impossible to open such cafes all over the city.
But it seems this problem will slowly cease to exist, at least for some part of the population. Irani Restaurants have recently started a roadside stall at Andheri. In all these years, this is the first time that I came across a roadside branch of Irani Cafes. Along with their most loved items like tea and Bun Muska, they also serve snacks like Omelet and Maggi.
Now, to answer your most obvious question, the taste of the tea is the same as the one served in their restaurants and that too for a price as low as Rs 10. Plus, there is no difference in the cups as well.
But still to be doubly sure, I confirmed with the person handling the stall that it is indeed a branch of Irani Restaurants. It’s located exactly opposite Cinepolis Cinemas (Fun Republic earlier), which is in the lane opposite Laxmi Industrial Estate at Andheri Link Road.
It won’t be surprising if they come up with more such stalls. But apart from letting more Mumbaikars relish the Irani experience, it can also be a case of them being forced to do that since it is a sad reality that old iconic eateries of Mumbai are slowly closing down due to financial issues.
The latest victim is the very famous and iconic Mani’s Café at Matunga.
By: Keyur Seta
It is vital for a film revolving around drug addiction and drug politics to be brave, bold and honest in order for it to turn out to be a winner. But Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab achieves much more. It is also an entertaining and engaging saga that goes beyond just portraying the drug menace in Punjab.
Udta Punjab tells the story of four individuals in Punjab disconnected with each other. Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is a pop sensation. But he is not only a drug addict but also promotes drugs through his songs. A Bihari migrant worker (Alia Bhatt) accidentally lays her hands on a packet of drugs and her life changes.
A junior police officer, Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) is forced to be in a system that shields drug mafia. Dr Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor Khan) has vowed to serve the victims of drug abuse. There is one common factor in the lives of these four strangers – the white powder.
The phrase ‘Action speaks louder than words’ applies to this film. The rampant usage, availability and addiction of drugs in Punjab are portrayed through visuals and normal conversations, instead of the age old technique of someone speaking out the situation. There is some smart undertone of humor too.
This is just one of the numerous aspects that highlight the writers’ and director’s mature and intelligent manner of handling the subject. The result provides shock and worry with regards to one of India’s most celebrated states. There are various sequences that leave you with some question or the other. But the film doesn’t stop at that. It also provides a sensible solution to the drug problem.
And while the proceedings are going on, you realize, even before the interval, as to why some evil forces were super frightened of this film. But since the film is released without the super silly cuts ordered by CBFC (all thanks to the Bombay High Court), it will now become a trending topic and life will become difficult for the Punjab Government.
One of the few minor negative points includes the pace in the second half, which also increases the length, few logical errors and the act of a couple of characters.
The film is technically sound (cinematography, editing and background score). Despite the subject not being song-friendly, the tracks are smartly included to enhance the narrative and all of them are impressive too.
The performances play a large role, which was vital. Shahid Kapoor once again shows he is a dedicated artist. He completely gets into the shoes of a very challenging character in a way which can be described as brilliant. In Highway, Alia Bhatt showed her acting ability. With Udta Punjab, she moves few notches higher with a remarkable act. Those writing open letters to her without watching the film should have waited.
Diljit Dosanjh, Punjabi superstar making his acting debut, leaves a solid impact. He deserves to be seen in more Hindi films. Kareena Kapoor Khan’s act also falls in the positive category. Satish Kaushik, Kamal Tiwari and the actor playing Diljit’s younger brother too chip in with useful supporting acts.
Overall: Udta Punjab is a bold and daring saga about drug menace in Punjab, which is also high on entertainment. With the tremendous hype, mostly due to Pahlaj Nihalani, the film has a decent chance of earning positive box-office collections despite it not being a massy affair. It's first day collection has been Rs 10 crore.
(Personal note: With the silly accusations on the makers and the shoddy act of leaking the full movie for download on Torrent two days before release, it is clear that there are forces trying their best to harm a film that portrays a shocking reality. Let’s not make them victorious by endorsing piracy.)
Rating: * * * *
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Producers: Phantom Films and Balaji Motion Pictures
Writers: Abhishek Chaubey and Sudip Sharma
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh
Music: Amit Trivedi
Runtime: 149 minutes
Director: Raam Reddy
Producers: Pratap Reddy and Sunmin Park
Writers: Raam Reddy and Eregowda
Cast: Channegowda, Thamanna, Abhishek H. N, Singri Gowda
Duration/ Runtime: 124 minutes
Rating: * * * *
Review by: Keyur Seta
The term ‘realistic cinema’ generally applies to films that are very serious or, at times, sad in nature. But director Raam Reddy’s Thithi breaks all such norms for realistic films. It shows that an utterly realistic saga can be both thought-provoking as well as a laugh-riot.
The film takes place in a remote village in Karnataka. Century Gowda (Singri Gowda) is so-called since he has surpassed 100 years of age. But he passes away at 101. How his death affects his son Gadappa (Channegowda), grandson Thamanna (Thammegowda) and great grandson Abhi (Abhishek H. N) and how everything boils down to Century Gowda’s thithi (11th day after his passing away) forms the rest of the story.
Like every well-made realistic rural flick, Thithi succeeds in the most difficult task of making you forget the outside world and get seriously involved with the life of Gowda family. But, as mentioned before, there is laughter galore throughout the duration, even in the most basic situations. This, however, doesn’t mean that there is any compromise in staying honest with the subject.
Despite, however, such high doses of entertainment, the film succeeds in asking a lot of questions and saying a lot without saying much. Maintaining this fine balance is a triumph of the writing and direction.
Coming to the fallacies, there is one twist in the tale that isn’t completely convincing. However, the many plus points and a fast pace won’t let you think much about it.
Doron Tempert’s displays his cinematographic skills despite the theme being simple and realistic theme. There is minimal use of background score (as per the need) and whenever it is used, it adds to the impact.
The makers have taken the risk of casting non-actors and to say that it paid off will be an understatement. It is simply amazing to see how each one has carried his or her role with perfection. In fact, it doesn’t seem that they are acting at all. The one to stand out is Channegowda as Gadappa. But Thammegowda, Abhishek N. H, Singri Gowda, Pooja S. M (as Cawvery) and the rest are not behind at all.
Overall: Thithi is a must watch for those interested in films driven by strong content and excellent performances. The film needs to reach out to as many people as possible through word-of-mouth.