The Common Man Speaks

19Oct/170

Secret Superstar Review – A story of two secret superstars

A small town character wanting to be famous through an art he or she is passionate. Sounds familiar? Of course, it does.But debutant filmmaker Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar ensues that you won’t even think of films with similar themes due to quite a few reasons. This also includes the special touch of Aamir Khan. The actor-cum-producer has delivered another winner!

The story revolves around Insia aka Insu (Zaira Wasim) who stays in Baroda with her parents, younger brother and granny. She dreams of becoming a singer. However, she knows that her super conservative and patriarchal father won’t allow that. In fact, her father is so ruthless that he beats up his wife at the drop of her hat. Later on, the eccentric music composer, Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan) enters her life. But will her dream ever be fulfilled?

Secret Superstar includes a superstar as part of the cast. But it’s primarily a content oriented film. Every such film needs top notch writing if it needs to appeal and this is exactly what is seen here. Chandan has provided a well-structured screenplay that has the right balance of funny and emotional moments. He has brought in the various turns at the right time and in a matured way.

Secret Superstar posterSecret Superstar isn’t all about a teenage girl’s dream. The film actually makes a powerful social statement on the lives women silently go through even in 2017. It does make you sad at the ruthless patriarchy, which was the intention. Another good thing is that it does that without saying anything about the issue. This is a major reason why the film manages to stand apart from other films of similar themes. Secondly, you gradually realize that the phrase ‘Secret Superstar’ can also be used for the character of the mother.

Films of this genre tend to go downhill post-interval. But in the case of Secret Superstar, it’s the opposite. The film, which was already appealing in the first half, goes onto the top gear in the second when Aamir’s character gets more screenspace. Later on, the all-important climax becomes the trump card. The main point of the finale is delightfully appealing despite the absence of melodrama.

The film has a flaw at one point related to the humongous views received on YouTube. Another act of rebellion in the second half is also a bit far-fetched. These are not big issues though.

A film about music has to have impressive songs. The ones over here might not appear like hit materials but they certainly serve the purpose and enhance the narrative. Singer Meghna Mishra, who is Zaira’s voice, is another secret superstar here. She plays a large role in bringing in the effect.

Secret Superstar is laced with brilliant performances. If Zaira Wasim was impressive in Dangal (2016), she is incredible here. You just can’t stop being impressed as she brings in various shades of her character with finesse. Meher Vij, as the mother, deserves equal praise. She too succeeds in moving you no ends. Needless to say, she should be seen more.

As the ruthless and psychotic husband and father, Raj Arjun generates fear every time he appears. His single expression is enough to frighten you. Aamir Khan brings in his talent on display once again. He scores high in the transformation from an energetic cassanova to a caring individual, as is expected from him. During one sequence in the car, he tries a bit hard though.

Kabir Sajid, as Insu’s brother, is adorable. Farrokh Jaffer, as the old lady, and Mona Ambegaonkar, as the lawyer, also create impact.

Overall: Secret Superstar is a delightfully moving saga about fulfilling one’s dream. But the film is not limited to that. As far as box office is concerned, it relies heavily on word-of-mouth since it is pitted against the commercial caper Golmaal Again.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Advait Chandan

Producers: Aamir Khan Productions

Cast: Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Aamir Khan, Raj Arjun, Kabir Sajid

Music: Amit Trivedi

Genre: Drama

Release date: October 19, 2017

8Oct/170

Kaasav (Marathi Movie) Review

When I saw director Makaran Mane’s Ringan: The Quest, which released earlier this year, I felt it would be almost impossible for any Marathi movie to match up to this film in 2017, considering the kind of Marathi films made this year.

But I am too glad to have been proved wrong by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar’s Kaasav. Although the subject deals with psychological disorders, the film provides a thoroughly beautiful feeling through various deep meanings.

Kaasav revolves around a depressed and disturbed youngster (Alok Rajwade), who is literally loitering on the streets of Mumbai. He attempts ending his life but is saved by concerned people. He then aimlessly boards a tempo that is going to Konkan. Janaki (Iravati Harshe), a social worker and a kind soul, finds him in a semi-conscious and ill state at a shop on the highway.

She decides to look after him at her sea facing apartment despite him being a complete stranger. Janaki works for the welfare of sea turtles. Despite her constant efforts, the young guy doesn’t co-operate and throws tantrums. In fact, he doesn’t even reveal his name. Who is he and what is him aim in life? Janaki calls him Niche.

The director duo succeeded in narrating a heartwarming tale out of a story based on a mental condition in their last film Astu: So Be It (2016). They raise their bar even higher through Kaasav.

Kaasav movieThe film starts off as a serious or somewhat disturbing tale of a person’s psychotic behavior. But the narrative gradually brings in newer layers about various human aspects without making it sound preachy. To put it simply, it says a lot without saying much.

The film’s portrayal of loneliness is completely relatable to people from today’s era. For example, a character states that, these days, despite having hundreds of contacts in their phones, some people are still lonely.

What makes the film reach bigger heights is the deep meaning behind the title. The character of Niche resembles land and sea turtle on different occasions. The manner in which the sea turtle analogy is established makes you applaud the creativity and its execution.

In addition to the top-notch content, the icing on the cake is the beautiful location of Konkan, which is artistically captured by DoP Dhananjay Kulkarni, and the two soulful songs.

A slight drawback here is that the back story of Janaki is hardly narrated. This would have helped in knowing her more and having sympathy for her. But, as mentioned before, it is only a slight drawback.

Kaasav is blessed with utterly realistic performances. Alok Rajwade plays the suicidal and disturbed character of Niche with flawlessness. His slow transformation also displays his raw talent.

Iravati Harshe makes terrific use of the opportunity to play a deeply caring individual who is battling her own demons. It is difficult to find people in Janaki in today’s era. But her act provides hope that it is certainly not impossible.

Kishor Kadam, as Harshe’s servant, once again displays his dedication. In the role of Harshe’s mentor, Mohan Agashe does what was required. Devika Daftardar, who is a favourite of these filmmakers, leaves a mark despite playing a cameo. The boy who played Rajwade’s friend and the one who donned the role of the helper at Harshe’s place are also praiseworthy.

Overall: Kaasav is a deeply moving saga that leaves you super impressed. This one is easily one of the best Marathi films of the last few years. Director duo of Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar has once again given a winner.

Special note: It is shocking that a film of this caliber has got just ONE show in the entire city of Mumbai. More so since it has won the National Award for Best Film. The makers have assured that the shows would be increased in the coming days. Fingers crossed!

Rating: 4.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Directors: Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar

Producers: Mohan Agashe, Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar

Writers: Sumitra Bhave

Cast: Alok Rajwade, Iravati Harshe, Kishor Kadam, Mohan Agashe, Devika Daftardar

Music: Saket Kanetkar

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 104 minutes

24Sep/170

Newton Movie Review

This year has seen big budget films being rejected by the audience, some even starring superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan. But at the same time, the audience has helped films with quality content succeed at the box office. Hindi Medium, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan are some examples.

Now, we can add Amit V Masurkar’s Newton in the list. In fact, it deserves a top place as it’s by far the best Hindi film of 2017 so far. The makers have tackled a super serious issue of the relevance of voting in a severely naxal prone area in a humorous manner without taking away the main essence.

The film tells the story of Nutan aka Newton (Rajkummar Rao), who starts his government service in Chattisgarh. He is an epitome of honesty and idealism. He gets a chance to handle the voting process in an area deeply hit with Naxal activities. How Newton goes about forms the rest of the story. His biggest thorn in the path is a tough army officer (Pankaj Tripathi).

Newton posterNewton doesn’t follow a conventional story pattern. It just provides you a glimpse of an exercise of voting in an area where getting people to vote is almost impossible. We have heard numerous times as to how culture changes in India every 200 kilometers. However, very few of us would have got the opportunity to witness this reality so closely. For city dwellers, this wouldn’t appear like our India.

The film presents the ghastly situation in the deeply naxalite areas without taking any sides. It doesn’t take long for you to realize the messed up condition of the people living in these areas with hardly any hope of resurrection. It takes a dig at the notion of democracy in such areas of India but doesn’t question its importance.

However, all these realistic attacks don’t prove heavy whatsoever due to the humorous approach. The film is peppered with humour in almost every situation. It is extremely difficult in terms of the writing and presentation to make sure the main issue doesn’t get lost in the laughs. Newton takes care of this perfectly.

The pace drops somewhat in the middle. An act by Tripathi’s character is questionable later on. Thankfully, these are minor issues and they don’t qualify as proper flaws.

The production design makes the scenario believable, especially the school where elections take place. The camerawork is up to the mark while the background score is as minimal as possible, which goes with the nature of the film.

Rajkummar Rao is going through a terrific phase. His utterly honest and dedicated performance here once again shows that he is one of the finest actors in the country currently. It will be an understatement that he makes Newton believable. You realize that there can’t be a person more honest than Newton.

Pankaj Tripath makes his mark felt yet again this year. The actor once again forces you to notice him through his powerful act with shades of dark humour. Anjali Patil made a terrific debut with Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh (2012). She continues the goodness here as she actually appears like a local. Raghuvir Yadav is lovable, as one expects from a veteran artist like him.

Overall: Newton is an example of honest storytelling that makes it the best Hindi film of 2017. Personally, I feel its selection for the Oscars is just. The film saw a huge jump in its box office collections yesterday. With the very positive word-of-mouth, it is sure to turn a safe bet for the producers.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Amit V Masurkar

Producers: Drishyam Films

Writers: Amit V Masurkar and Mayank Tiwari

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil, Raghuvir Yadav

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 107 minutes

13Sep/170

Book Review: Return Of The Trojan Horse

Author Amit Dubey’s Return Of The Trojan Horse is a crime novel consisting three stories – Return Of The Trojan Horse, Independence Day and That Little Girl. They all revolve around the character Amit, a young software engineer, and the senior cop Dilip.

The book is worth savoring for those who enjoy thrillers. Its biggest strong point is that it’s a fast paced page turner. There is some high and deep usage of technology. Thankfully, this part is simplified as much as possible.

More about the three stories:

Return Of The Trojan Horse: Amit suddenly gets a call from a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) officer who knows everything about him. He urges him to help him and his colleagues learn hacking and other security techniques in order to safeguard the country against terrorists. After initial refusal, Amit agrees. But he has no idea that his rendezvous with terrorists can prove to be fatal for him.

What works the most here is the twist in the middle, which not only makes the tale interesting but also adds to the thrill. You do wonder about Amit’s naïve behavior at one point. But that was imperative for the twist and the author has managed to hide it well. Hence, it doesn’t bother you much.

The Return Of The Trojan HorseIndependence Day:

Balwant Singh, director of a well-known public sector company, gets kidnapped on August 14. The kidnappers demand a ransom of Rs 2 crore from his wife, who has no idea how she would manage such a huge amount. The government of India’s reputation is at stake since their own person has got kidnapped just when the security is so tight a day before Independence Day. Amit’s technical expertise is sought to solve the case.

This is the best of the three stories. We have been through too many kidnapping dramas in Hindi films. But this one doesn’t appear repetitive. This is largely because the investigation and the consequences in the end produce tremendous thrill and tension. The finale is very crucial in such kidnapping stories and this point is also taken care of well.

That Little Girl:

A rich fellow loses control of his car while being in a drunken state and crushes a group of homeless people. Some get killed and others get injured. One survivor is a little innocent girl who gets severely injured and loses her parents. Amit is heartbroken looking at her condition. He vows to help Dilip solve the case and punish the guilty.

The story follows the same fast-paced narration pattern. The investigation process with respect to trapping suspects is interesting. But the problem here is the climax. It not only makes you sad but is also not presented convincingly. Plus, the entire episode with the journalist at the start wasn’t necessary.

There are few issues that are noticed in all three stories. There should have been more depth in Amit’s character. In order to make it a fast read, the focus is too much on the dialogues instead of the narration of the tale.

But the biggest issue is the editing as one can regularly spot errors related to sentence framing and in the spelling of ‘Khyaam.’ Also, the use of sexism to create humor is questionable in stories that are otherwise modern and progressive.

Overall: The Return Of Trojan Horse is an interesting thriller book that makes for a fast read.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewed by: Keyur Seta

Author: Amit Dubey

Publishers: Leadstart Publishing

Pages: 258

Price: Rs 249

Cover: Artistic close-up of a keyboard along with an image of a Trojan horse

3Sep/170

Play Review: Zenobia Mansion

Zenobia Mansion is a mono act which is a part of the two mono act segments under the title Atke Bhatke Latke Sur (the other being Noor Mahal).

Zenobia Mansion stars Preeta Mathur, who plays a classical singer Susupta Gupta. She stays in an apartment in Zenobia Mansion in the Pali Hill locality of Bandra, Mumbai. She was born and brought up in Delhi and has recently shifted to Mumbai. Although she has now reached a stage where she is well-versed with the art, her life in Zenobia Mansion is anything but pleasant.

Just above her apartment stays a well-known Bollywood choreographer. His heavy frame coupled with ghungroo creates terrible noise when he practices; sometimes even late night. This doesn’t allow Susupta to practice for her concert that could define her future. Sadly, he is not the only disturbance in the building. How will Susupta counter such distractions to prepare for her concert?

Zenobia Mansion playThe first and foremost challenge in every mono act is to keep the audience gripped. This isn’t easy whatsoever as the writing needs to be engaging and entertaining. This challenge is taken care of for a majority of the duration in Zenobia Mansion. Constantly something or the other keeps taking place.

Although this is a mono act, there are more than a handful of characters in the story. They, obviously, don’t come on stage but their presence is felt throughout the duration. Therefore, this is a kind of a mono act that is not limited to the genre. It’s just that a bigger punch in the end could have increased the overall impact to some extent.

 

But quality writing isn’t enough by the way in such genre of plays. It needs to be complemented by a good acting performance else the goodness of the writing would not get noticed. Preeta Mathur lives up to the task and gives a fine act. She smartly creates humour out of worry that her character experiences.

The set designing is not too elaborate, which is as per the need. The properties used are simple that suit the middle-class household of the character. The lights are effectively used to produce the desired effect, although there could have been more experiment on this front.

Sound plays a big role here and this aspect is up to the mark. Punita Chopra’s soulful vocals enhances the subject.

Overall: Zenobia Mansion is an enjoyable light-hearted monologue.

Review by: Keyur Seta

Writer and Director: Ashok Mishra

Presented by: Dinesh Thakur’s ANK

About the venue:

Kreating Charakters is the latest theatre space inaugurated in Mumbai. Zenobia Mansion was the first public performance here that took place few weeks back. It’s a nice little cosy place, which is ideal for mono acts and experimental plays. It’s seating is much on the lines of Prithvi.

Picture: Kreating Charakters official website.

Kreating Charakters

20Aug/170

Bareilly Ki Barfi Review

What do you need to make a mass entertainer from the first scene till the last? Going by what is shown in mainstream Hindi cinema, one might list down a number of entertaining or masala factors. But rarely a film like Bareilly Ki Barfi arrives, which shows that all one needs is pure simplicity to make a thorough entertainer that can appeal to every age group.

Bareilly Ki Barfi takes place in the Bareilly and revolves around Bitti (Kriti Sanon). She is a carefree girl working in the electrical department of the town. She gets rejected by every guy her mother scouts for her due to her habits which are mostly reserved for males. Bitti once comes across a book titled Bareilly Ki Barfi and falls in love with it and develops great admiration for the author.

The book has been written by Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana). But the book has his friend Pritam Vidrohi’s (Rajkummar Rao) name and picture mentioned as the author for some reason. Circumstances force Chirag to present Pritam as the actual author in front of Bitti when she becomes adamant to meet him. This step ensures more twists.

Bareilly Ki Barfi posterThere is fun element in the basic plot itself. It becomes even enjoyable with some high quality writing by Nitesh Tiwari, the man who gave us the great Dangal (2016). The screenplay is not only fast but also well-connected. Add to this some brilliant one-liners and situational humour. And the film achieves all this without an iota of adultness and lots of sensibility.

But there comes a point towards the end where you feel you would be shown a typical ending that you normally see in Hindi romantic comedies. However, there comes a twist with regards to presenting the climax. Don’t know about others but it was unpredictable for me.

The one issue here is a minor flaw in the entire idea by Ayushmann’s character. Thankfully, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari has covered it well. Plus, the numerous other good points won’t let you think much about it.

Bareilly Ki Barfi, in between, also makes a powerful statement about gender equality and the society’s double standards when it comes to allowing freedom to girls.

The film has some foot-tapping numbers like ‘Sweety Tera Drama’ and ‘Twist Kamariya.’ But there is an absence of an impressive romantic song, which is needed in such genre of films.

The performances play a big role in providing overall satisfaction. Rajkummar Rao is simply outstanding. Period. You just can’t stop admiring him as he plays a scary bone and suddenly breaks into a mean character with remarkable ease. This act coupled with Trapped (2017) ensures that he is one of the top young artists currently.

This film will bring a turning point in Kriti Sanon’s career. She has brought the right attitude needed to play a small town girl with attitude. Ayushmann Khurrana too is likable in a complex character. Pankaj Tripathi has once again shown his class. This actor deserves more fame.

Overall: Bareilly Ki Barfi is a complete family entertainer with lots of laughs. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has continued the good work she ended in her debut Nil Battey Sannata (2016). The film's box office collections saw a rise on Saturday (yesterday). It should hopefully have a pleasant run due to the very positive word-of-mouth.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Producers: B R Studios and Junglee Pictures

Writers: Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain and Rajat Nonia

Cast: Kriti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi

Music: Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Tanishk Bagchi, Samira Koppikar, Sameer Uddin and Vayu

Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Comedy

Runtime: 122 minutes

30Jul/172

Short Story: The Release Of My First Film

Yari Road in Andheri is a contradictory locality in Mumbai. On the one hand, you find some super-rich businessmen and senior-most employees living in their posh houses. At the same time, it is also home to some rank strugglers from the film industry. They arrive in the city from small towns in large numbers just to get that one big break in films. But only a handful of them get their dreams fulfilled.

Before they make it big, they live literally in poverty. Many stay in crowded rented flats; not knowing whether they would be able to pay next month’s rent. They don’t have meals. They only eat food. And this includes anything that’s cheaply available or easy to make.

But despite living in such conditions and facing rejection time and again, these strugglers never lose hope. This was the mantra for Sumeet also, who finally has a glimmer of hope for making it big in Hindi cinema or Bollywood, as they call it. After years of struggling as an AD (assistant director), he somehow got a chance of directing his first movie at the age of 27 last year.

Movie clapboardTitled Zameen, his film is based on the sad situation of farmers in Maharashtra and how they are forced to commit suicide due to drought, which increases their financial woes. With such a subject, naturally it was tough convince a producer. Shooting the film in Marathwada was a herculean task, especially with the shoestring budget provided to him since it was a ‘non-commercial’ subject.

After more than a year of making it, Zameen was just 10 days away from release. Even experienced director feel butterflies in their stomachs, so what to say about a debut filmmaker? Sumeet was someone who appeared calm from outside even if there was a storm inside him, like it was these days.

Such super low-budget films ensure that the makers are left with hardly any funds for proper marketing and promotions. At times, even a mere media screening proves to be harmful to the pockets. This burdens the director and the main cast to come up with cheap or no-cost promotional activities. Their situation is the same as those door-to-door salesmen, who are desperate to sell their product.

After continuously posting about his film on social media platforms, Sumeet somehow managed to organize a small promotional activity at a mall at Yari Road just two days before the release. It was the ideal place to attract the high society crowd, who could afford the abnormal ticket rates at multiplexes.

A handsome man who looked in his early 30s approached Sumeet out of nowhere along with his group of 5-6 friends. He displayed his status through his branded clothes, shoes and sun-glasses, which were tucked in his shirt. After introducing himself as Sunny, he told Sumeet how impressed he was with the trailer of his film.

“It is refreshing to see someone making a film on such important issues in today’s times,” added Sunny. Sumeet was obviously overjoyed. After an informal chat that lasted for few minutes, Sunny and his friends promised to see Zameen on the weekend. Sumeet urged them to share their honest view with him, to which they agreed.

The interaction with Sunny and his friends infused new hope in Sumeet. But on the day of the release, he became as anxious as he was before. Films falling in the parallel cinema genre with unknown actors hardly get an audience on the opening day. Sumeet knew this well, so he didn’t check the online booking scenario on Friday.

But he kept logging in to an online booking website on Saturday morning to know if there is any advance booking for his film. He checked a nearby multiplex and could see only 2-3 seats booked. He encouraged himself by thinking that Sunny and his friends would surely see the film in any of these two days. And hopefully, they would spread the word if they like it.

On Saturday night, Sunny and company did decide to see the film, as promised. Few minutes into the film, Sunny told his friend seated besides him, “Thanks to the digital era, we get such good quality picture in downloaded films.”

By: Keyur Seta

23Jul/170

Lipstick Under My Burkha Review

When Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha was refused certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) (or popularly known as the censor board) for being ‘lady oriented,’ I felt this film might have frightened those who give a damn about various desires of women. Now, after watching the film, I am fully convinced about it.

Lipstick Under My Burkha is about the struggle of survival of four women in a highly patriarchal environment in Bhopal. Leela (Aahana Kumra) is in a relationship with a photographer (Vikrant Massey) but her mother has forced her to marry an ‘ideal’ guy (Vaibbhav Tatwawadi). Rehana (Plabita Borthakur) is from a highly conservative family and has to follow the tradition of burkha. But she is itching to break free from the traditions.

Shirin’s (Konkona Sen Sharma) husband (Sushant Singh) works in Saudi Arabia. Whenever he returns home for a short break, he uses her as a sex toy. She has hidden from him the fact that she works as a saleswoman. Usha aka Buaji (Ratna Pathak Shah) is a widow and a landlady of an old building. Her sexual desire has resurfaced as she has started reading an erotic novel, Lipstick Wale Sapne.

Lipstick Under My Burkha posterHere’s a scene from the film. An engagement ceremony is going on and suddenly the electricity goes off. The girl, who is getting engaged, is found having a quickie with the photographer. This is how the frankness of LUMB can be summed up. Many of you might label her act blasphemous. But there is a deep meaning about not only what she but all the four main characters do in the film.

In other words, the bold sexual content is added not just to stand apart or get noticed. It is a natural part of the script. So, in a way, the film is more real than bold. The manner in which the sexual desire of a 50 plus year old widow is dealt with deserves special mention.

But LUMB is not just about its daring sexual content. It’s also an example of an intelligent piece of cinema. The film achieves high standards in writing and presentation. This can be said for the way you get involved in the lives of the four characters. Moreover, their issues about lack of respect and dignity are presented convincingly with minimal use of dialogue and some witty humour.

The film, however, comes with a few hiccups. The criminal act of one character doesn’t go with her nature. Although the open-ended climax suits here, it should have produced a bigger bang considering the hard-hitting nature of the film. There are some minor logical errors too.

The performances are a treat. Aahana Kumra packs a punch as someone who doesn’t shy away flaunting her desires; be it any. It seems Plabita Borthakur was born to play this role. She is excellent and is a lookout for the future. Ratna Pathak Shah excels in a terribly difficult role. Her portrayal of an old woman feeling sexual hunger isn’t cheap or vulgar whatsoever and this is a big achievement.

Konkona Sen Sharma is once again reliable. Vaibbhav Tatwawadi is completely believable as a shy and traditional fiancé. The film also has fine supporting acts from Vikrant Massey, Sonal Jha, Sushant Singh and Shashank Arora.

Overall: Lipstick Under My Burkha is a daring attack on patriarchy and regressive traditions. This is the reason why Pahlaj Nihalani and his friends didn't want you to see this film and this is exactly the reason why it should be seen.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Alankrita Shrivastava

Producer: Prakash Jha

Writers: Alankrita Shrivastava, Ghazal Dhaliwal and Suhani Kanwar

Actors: Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 117 minutes

15Jul/172

Lapachhapi (Marathi Movie) Review

The biggest aim of a horror film is simple. It has to scare the audience. But this simple aim has been hardly fulfilled by Marathi and Hindi cinema. The former hasn’t been making horror films. Bollywood, on the other hand, regularly explores this genre but hardly provides a convincing film.

Debutant director Vishal Furia’s Lapachhapi fills the much needed void not only through the content but also the technical departments. Finally, we have an impressive horror film!

Lapachhapi is about a couple, Tushar (Vikram Gaikwad) and his pregnant wife Neha (Pooja Sawant). They escape to their driver’s native place after Tushar gets beaten up for not being able to repay his creditors. It’s a secluded village scattered around sugarcane fields.

Lapachhapi Marathi movieThe scary atmosphere is enough to ring an alarm bell inside Neha’s head. But Tushar assures her that there’s nothing to worry. The driver’s wife Tulsa’s (Usha Naik) warm hospitality diverts her mind but not for long. At the same time, we are also told the story of a pregnant woman who was forced to abort her unborn child.

Lapachhapi succeeds in taking the audience to a world where creepiness exists in a natural way. The location over here is an altogether different character that brings in a scary feeling throughout. The film has a smooth-flowing screenplay that divulges the tale in a gradual way.

The major reason for the chills is the contemporary manner of filming. It is impressive to see how cinematography (Chandan Kowli) is used to create jump-scare moments which are simply pleasurable! The same purpose is achieved by the editing too. The blackening of the screen abruptly and the smart use of sounds add to the scariness. Thankfully, the film steers clear of using loud noises and screams to create forceful horror.

And who would have thought of using a lullaby to induce horror? The song, sung by Nandini Borkar, is a sweet number with no music. So, how it creates a frightening feeling is something that can be experienced than explained. Its use should have been limited in the second half though.

There are points, however, that stop the film from achieving bigger heights. The main issue here is the lack of proper conviction in the back story, although the message driven out of it is important. On some occasions in the second half, the narrative becomes overindulgent. A conversation between the lead couple in the first half is a slight giveaway of the hidden issue. The final scene, although impressive, is too convenient.

The performances also complement the genre. This act might be the turning point in Pooja Sawant’s career. She got a chance to play a challenging lead character and she has made good use of it. But the effect wouldn’t have been this high without Usha Naik’s act. She shows sympathy and anger with remarkable ease.

Although Vikram Gaikwad isn’t present throughout, he is appealing. Dhanashree Khandar gives a fine act without uttering a word.

Overall: Lapachhapi fills the void of horror movies in Marathi cinema and also for the audience in Maharashtra that has relied on Bollywood for this genre of films.

Rating: 3/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Vishal Furia

Producers: Wild Elephants Motion Picture and Midas Touch Movies Production

Writers: Vishal Furia and Vishal Kapoor

Cast: Pooja Sawant, Usha Naik, Vikram Gaikwad, Dhanashree Khandar

Genre: Horror

Runtime: 111 minutes

9Jul/171

Mom Review

The basic plot of debutant director Ravi Udyawar’s Mom is eerily similar to Raveena Tandon starrer Maatr: The Mother, which had released in April (read the review of Maatr HERE). Not just the storyline, even few characters are the same.

But as both films were in production at the same time, it would be unfair to accuse Mom of plagiarism (One can argue that Maatr itself was similar to Raveena’s own Jaago [2004]).

But there is a huge dissimilarity in both films with regards to its content. The Sridevi starrer is miles ahead of the Raveena starrer. Such is the difference in the making that even if you have seen Maatr (like I have), it won’t stop you from appreciating Udyawar’s film.

Mom is about Devki Sabharwal (Sridevi), who is a school teacher in Delhi. She stays with her husband, elder daughter Arya (Sajal Ali), younger daughter and husband (Adnan Siddiqui). Arya is Devki’s student in school. But she addresses her as ‘Mam’ even at home due to a reason. Devki tries hard to express her love for Arya but to no avail.

Mom Sridevi posterOne day, a shocking incident that happens with Arya devastates the family. It also further increases the distance between her and Devki.

Revenge dramas are predictable and Mom is no different. As the audience has been exposed to such storylines since decades, the challenge lies in not making them think about the predictability. Mom does that exceedingly well. You are kept hooked thanks to some creative presentation, watertight script, short yet appealing dialogues, character depth and natural conflict.

Mom stays impressive even during the most important stage – the revenge. The methods of the protagonist don’t appear unrealistic. In other words, it is as sensible as absurd Maatr was.

The film has some intelligent and effective use of background score. It is a lesson for those who believe that the only way to add thrill in such thrillers is to use loud sounds. The scene where the rape occurs deserves mention for using the background score to narrate the horrific incident. The camerawork adds to the technical brilliance here.

There was no need to rope in A R Rahman for a film that has no scope or use of songs.

Few points that stop the film from achieving greater heights are few situational errors and the way a simple film is turned complicated during the ending moments. The latter is taken care of by a moving climax though.

The performances are a treat. Sridevi lives the titular character while displaying diverse emotions with ease. She appears smart even during revenge sequences. But her south Indian accent is too noticeable on few occasions. It seems Nawazuddin Siddiqui has a divine power of not doing anything wrong, which goes here too. Adnan Siddiqui, as Sridevi’s husband, is a good find.

It is refreshing to see Akshaye Khanna in an important role of which he makes the most. Sajal Ali, as Sridevi’s daughter, possesses fine acting skills. Plus, to play a character that goes through such atrocities would have been mentally challenging. Abhimanyu Singh once again shows that he is too underrated and deserves more opportunities. The rest of the bad guys, Pitobash Tripathy and the other two actors are completely believable.

Overall: Mom is well-crafted emotional thriller. Director Ravi Udyawar has proved his tremendous potential in his very first film.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewed by: Keyur Seta

Director: Ravi Udyawar

Producers: Boney Kapoor

Writers: Girish Kohli, Ravi Udyawar and Kona Venkat Rao

Cast: Sridevi, Sajal Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Adnan Siddiqui

Music: A R Rahman

Genre: Revenge drama

Runtime: 147 minutes