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.
Director: Swapna Waghmare Joshi
Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Writers: Shirish Latkar
Cast: Swapnil Joshi, Anjana Sukhani, Sneha Chavan, Jayant Wadkar
Music: Amitraaj and Nilesh Moharir
Genre: Murder mystery
Release date: May 27, 2016
Rating: * *
Review by: Keyur Seta
Director Swapna Waghmare Joshi's Laal Ishq is a murder mystery. But the biggest mystery lies in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s decision of venturing into Marathi cinema with this film, which is more like a stretched episode of the serial CID with a dash of lust sugarcoated as romance.
The film revolves around a theatre group. Yash Patwardhan (Swapnil Joshi), film and theatre superstar, and the rest of the crew arrives at a resort to rehearse for their upcoming play. The lead actress (Sneha Chavan) is obsessed and possessive with Yash. But Yash instantly falls for Janhavi (Anjana Sukhani), who works at the resort. She too develops the same feelings for him. But amid their romance, a murder takes place. Senior cop Randive (Kamlesh Sawant) arrives to investigate the case.
Laal Ishq is quite fast paced on most occasions. It was a good idea to keep the length restricted to less than two hours. But what makes the film watchable is Kamlesh Sawant’s witty and sarcastic act as a cunning investigating officer. His confrontational scenes with Swapnil Joshi keep the film watchable. But apart from these points, the film has nothing working for itself.
--The film is well shot. But that doesn’t help much as it is basically remains a murder mystery in an age old setting – group of people assembling at a venue and one of the gets killed. Doesn’t this instantly remind you of CID? Unfortunately, the film is handled in the same way as the Hindi serial.
-- The entire investigation is quite unintentionally hilarious. The two investigating officers aren’t even aware that the prime evidence material from the murder site isn’t to be picked up with bare hands. Never heard of gloves?
-- The absurdity of the investigation isn’t limited to this. It is seen the most with the way the mystery is solved. To say that it is unconvincing will be an understatement.
-- Yash looks at the girl and instantly falls for her without knowing her. That’s not love. That’s lust or infatuation at the most. The entire romance angle, if it can be called one, doesn’t gel with the film.
-- The guy doesn’t love his irritating co-star. But never tells her clearly. Why oh why?
-- Which sane theatre group would continue with the rehearsals even after their director is brutally murdered? In fact, they don’t even take a day to mourn his death. To add to this, the deceased was a mentor for Yash. Well, they just redefined professionalism!
-- The title is half justified. There is no ishq but there is a lot of laal, constantly reminding us about Bhansali’s association with the film.
-- A supporting character is constantly audio searching something on Google in almost each and every frame, even while having meals. Even primary school kids don’t behave this way.
-- The final mystery in the end, which is the most crucial part in a whodunit, completely lacks conviction. I can’t reveal more to avoid spoilers.
Swapnil Joshi’s performance is somewhat of a saving grace, although he is far from his best. Anjana Sukhani’s act just rises to an average level. Sneha Chavan is irritating to the core. Her poor characterization is to be blamed for this. The rest of the actors just fit the bill. The music is quite decent but the songs appear forced.
Overall: Laal Ishq is an immature murder mystery. Despite Swapnil Joshi’s presence, the film stands no chance at the box-office. The amazing run of Sairaat too will affect its collections.
Director: Anu Menon
Producers: Ishka Films and Drishyam Films
Writers: Anu Menon, James Ruzicka and Atika Chohan
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Rajat Kapoor, Suhasini Maniratnam, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee
Release date: May 27, 2016
Rating: * * * *
Review By: Keyur Seta
Director Anu Menon’s Waiting brings back memories of Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s Staying Alive. While the latter showcases friendship between two patients on either side of the law, the former is about an unusual bond between two starkly opposite characters whose dear ones are battling for their lives in the ICU.
Thankfully, both films are poles apart in terms of storyline and treatment. Perhaps, the one similarity that Waiting shares with Mahadevan’s film is that it succeeds in moving you with its honest approach, skilled storytelling and dedicated performances. It’s an example of how a new-age content oriented film should be.
Coming to the storyline, Shiv (Naseeruddin Shah) and Tara (Kalki Koechlin) are waiting anxiously and nervously in the waiting room of a hospital in Cochin. The former’s wife and latter’s husband are battling for their lives in the ICU; both in a state of coma. The common tragedy creates an unusual bond between Shiv and Tara, two starkly opposite personalities.
Waiting is not story driven. It’s more of a situational based film, which gets its crucial areas right. The unusual bond between Shiv and Tara is delightful and heartwarming. Their situations and dilemmas are realistic but that doesn’t take the film on a depressing path even a bit. In fact, there is humour galore. What works further is the unconventional climax that goes so well with the genre.
The only negative area here is the behavior of the two characters on few occasions. It is not possible to elaborate on this point further to avoid spoilers.
The technical aspects perfectly gel with the theme and genre. The camerawork is real as well as creative. There is minimal use of background score, which was a smart idea. The editing too deserves similar praise.
Despite such high amounts of plus points, it is vital for such films to score very high on performances and that is exactly what the actors deliver. As expected from a stalwart like him, Naseeruddin Shah is thoroughly brilliant. He once again succeeds in portraying various emotions and various shades of his character with remarkable ease.
Kalki Koechlin isn’t far behind though. She pulls off a difficult and complex character of Tara with sincerity. It is inspiring to see her display varied emotions like sadness, excitement and anxiety so effortlessly. She matches up to Shah and that is certainly not easy to achieve. The film has fine supporting acts from Rajat Kapoor, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Suhasini Maniratnam and Arjun Mathur.
Overall: Waiting is a well-crafted slice-of-life saga that surely deserves a watch if you prefer films with strong content. It relies heavily on strong word-of-mouth to create any impact at the box-office.
By: Keyur Seta
Mr Valerian Santos’ struggle for justice finally ended after four and a half years on May 5 when the four killers of his son, Keenan Santos and his friend, Reuben Fernandez were given life imprisonment by a Sessions Court in Mumbai. Keenan and Reuben were stabbed to death for rescuing their female friends from getting sexually harassed.
Losing a young son in a gruesome murder can be a nightmare beyond words for any parent and Mr Santos isn’t any less human. However, Keenan’s shocking and untimely death hasn’t deterred Mr Santos from encouraging his younger son from rescuing the oppressed.
“This will not deter me. I still believe that if you see somebody in trouble, you should help. I tell my younger soon too, ‘You should always stand up against wrongdoing, even if it means you becoming another Keenan,’” said Mr Santos. He was speaking at a special interaction organized by the Loksatta Party in Mumbai.
When the incident was taking place, people turned out to be mute spectators. But what troubles Mr Santos even more is that nobody came forward to help or console their female friends even after the killers had vanished.
“People were just standing in a circle and watching the tamasha. At least console them. As the criminals had fled, nobody was going to harm them. I told the crowd, ‘Bandar naach rahe hain aur tum tamasha dekh rahe ho?’ This hits me even till today,” he said.
He added, “Even animals stand up for each other. We are humans. We depend on each other. Try doing something good and leave the world by leaving behind a mark. If we don’t raise our voice against such incidents on road, tomorrow they will come to your house. Remember, every bhai was once a petty thief. Somewhere this should come to an end.”
But one shouldn’t forget the contribution of Investigating Officer (IO), Dnyanesh Devade, who put in a lot of efforts to make sure the perpetrators are sentenced. Mr Santos was all praise for him. “He has never taken anything from me. Rarely do we get to see such police officers.”
Devade, who was also present there, responded with, “I have not helped. I have just carried out my duty as a police officer.” The IO also revealed how a Pan wala, one of the key witnesses, was pressurized to not testify in the court against the culprits. “But he had faith in me. He said he will still go to court. He did and identified the offenders.”
Devade urged people to come forward and help the victims in such situations by citing Delhi’s infamous Nirbhaya case. “People have to come forward. We don’t live in jungles. If they (Keenan and Reuben) hadn’t come to the girls’ rescue, Nirbhaya would have occurred in Mumbai.”
May 19 marks the Death Anniversary of the great Marathi playwright and author, Vijay Tendulkar. Since last few years, a group of theatre lovers have been paying tribute to the celebrated artist on this day through a theatre festival that provides a glimpse into his work. The same will be the case this year too on May 19, which will mark his 8th Death Anniversary.
As the festival is named, 'Te Diwas' it tries to bring back memories or provide nostalgia of Tendulkar's era of glory. As it is not possible to showcase his vast body of work in a single evening, the festival will showcase important scenes of his memorable plays like Sakharam Binder, Gidhade and others. But his one-act monologue, Olakh will be presented in its entirety. The participants include some well-known names from Marathi TV and film fraternity.
Sakharam Binder (3 scenes)
Cast: Ajay Mayekar (Dir. Kahe Diya pardes zee Marathi), Dipti Ketkar and Ashwini Kasar (Kamala Colors Marathi)
Cast: Nandita Dhuri (Mati Majhe Saubhagyavati and Elizabeth Ekadashi)
Director: Ashitosh Datar
Cast: Shreya Budge (Chala Hava Yeu Dya)
Director: Aniket Sane
Pahije Jatiche (3 scenes)
Cast: Ajay Kamble and Omkar Raut
Director: Abhijit Khade (Executive Producer at Colors Marathi)
Olakh (one act play)
Cast: Sachin Deshpande (Honar Sun Mee Hya Gharchi)
Zala Anant Hanumant
Cast: Shilpa Sane and Ankit Mhatre
Date: May 19, 2016
Venue: Bhavans Chwopatty
Time: 7 pm
Entry FREE for all!