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

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

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

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

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

28May/171

Review: Sachin – A Billion Dreams

Documentaries are considered boring by the masses, at least in India. But Brahmanand S Siingh’s Pancham Unmixed, a documentary on the legendary music composer R D Burman, proved that even documentaries can be entertaining. Sachin – A Billion Dreams is the latest film in the genre to make us think this way.

Directed by James Erskine, the film tells the journey of India’s legendary cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar. Not many would know that he was a mischievous kid. But there was this purity and passion in him that stood out. Sachin was 10 years old when India won the 1983 World Cup. This was the incident that made him realize his dream of winning the World Cup for India.

Sachin took cricket seriously at the age of 11 when he started learning under coach Ramakant Acharekar. It was his elder brother Ajit who saw the potential in him and took him to Acharekar. His international career starts off as a 16-year-old youngster in November 1989 and ends 24 years later in November 2013. He retires with the satisfaction of having won the World Cup for India in 2011.

It is refreshing to see a documentary giving high importance to storytelling. The writers (Erskine and Sivakumar Ananth) have followed a feature film-like technique when it comes to adding drama and emotions. Some important events from Sachin’s life have stood out well. The incidents like his debut match, father’s demise, 2011 World Cup victory and the retirement speech deserve special mention. These moments don’t make us feel as if we are watching a documentary.

However, having witnessed Sachin’s career from close quarters, it is puzzling why these important milestones were kept away:

- The first test century holds a high place for any batsman. But Sachin’s first test hundred against England at Manchester in 1990 (also the first of his life) is not celebrated in the film like his other achievements. It was a heroic effort by the then 17-year-old to save the match for his team and remain unbeaten at 119.

- His first one-day international century (110 against Australia at Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1994) also finds no place. Sachin is known the most for his centuries in ODIs. So, what was the reason for not including his first hundred in this format?

- One of the most celebrated moments in Sachin’s career was when he won the match against South Africa in the Hero Cup as a bowler. The opposition team needed just six runs from the last over. Sachin surprised everyone by volunteering to bowl and saw India home in one of the most incredible victories at the Eden Gardens.

But the biggest downfall of Sachin – A Billion Dreams is that it hardly shows things that are not known to his fans. Those who have been following him since his early days would already know almost everything that the film features. And in today’s digital age, you can find hundreds of his interviews on the internet where he has spoken about his life.

I also wonder why Sachin and it makers have refrained from mentioning that the film is a documentary in the various promotional events. They have always maintained that it's either a film or movie.

Overall: Sachin – A Billion Dreams is an entertaining celebration of the Master Blaster. However, it is meant only for his die-hard fans.

Rating: 3/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: James Erskine

Producers: 200 Not Out Productions and Carnival Motion Pictures

Writers: James Erskine and Sivakumar Ananth

20May/170

Hindi Medium Review

As part of my profession, before the release of Hindi Medium, I had spoken to Irrfan Khan in a group interview (read it here). While answering a question, he had said that the film can be adapted in any language. Today, after watching it, I can vouch that he hadn’t said it just to promote the film.

Hindi Medium basically takes a satirical dig at the idea of looking down upon your own language (be it any) while succumbing to the pressure of English. And this is very much relevant today when the knowledge of English is equated with intelligence.

The story takes place in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) is a successful garment businessman living a comfortable lifestyle with his wife (Saba Qamar) and little daughter (Dishita Sehgal). Raj doesn’t know English and he has no problems with it. His wife, however, is his opposite.

Hindi Medium posterShe doesn’t like his desi manners and is eager to see her family move to the elite class. She feels it is necessary for their daughter to get admitted in a school where children from the wealthy class study. The conflict between Raj and his wife increase when Raj’s lack of education and English knowledge becomes a hindrance for their daughter’s admission in a high quality school.

Hindi Medium is a thoroughly entertaining fare with sensible and realistic humour. Due to a fast screenplay and witty dialogues, you don’t realize when the 133 minutes pass off. The film, however, isn’t limited to this. It has quite a few layers.

Hindi Medium basically stands out for the following messages it smartly weaves in an entertaining manner (without being preachy):

- The use of English is important in today’s times to succeed but not at the cost of your own language. Moreover, you shouldn’t be ashamed speaking in your language just to prove your ‘high status.’

- Although the film doesn’t say it directly, it shows the mirror to these so-called international schools that charge a bomb in order to develop your kid in a special way. In other words, education has been transformed into a shoddy business.

- We tend to look at the poor class of people as potential criminals. The film tries to bridge the class gap without any melodrama.

- The movie isn’t flawless though. There are flaws in the form of quite a few cinematic liberties, more so in the climax (describing them would lead to spoilers).

The high quality content wouldn’t have become so appealing without the presence of Irrfan Khan. He gives us another proof as to why he is not only one of the finest artists but also someone who can easily make you laugh. Hindi Medium is another feather in his cap.

Saba Qamar matches up to him and this only means that she knows the art of acting. Let’s hope we get to see more of her. Deepak Dobriyal is present only in one half but he puts behind a resounding impact. He is indeed a brilliant actor. As the school Principal, Amrita Singh is powerful too. Dishita Sehgal is cute and talented but doesn’t get to speak much.

Overall: Hindi Medium puts forward an important message in a hilarious way. The film hasn’t opened very well at the box office. But it surely stands a chance due to positive word-of-mouth.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Saket Chaudhary

Writers: Zeenat Lakhani and Saket Chaudhary

Producers: T-Series and Maddock Films

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Dishita Sehgal, Deepak Dobriyal, Amrita Singh

Music: Sachin-Jigar

Runtime: 133 minutes

14Apr/170

Begum Jaan Review

Srijit Mukherjee’s Begum Jaan has an interesting and intriguing storyline with a lot of scope for drama. But a good concept requires convincing execution in order to provide overall satisfaction. Mukherjee, as writer and director, manages this only to some extent. This results in an engaging film that lacks complete appeal.

The film is the official remake of the Bengali film Rajkahini (2015) by the same director. Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) proudly runs a brothel in Punjab in 1947. She has a group of girls working under her. Being a tough individual, she doesn’t feel ashamed of their profession.

Their life comes to a halt when India gets partitioned and the border is supposed to go through their brothel. Hence, they are told to vacate the house. But Begum and her girls would never budge. What will the authorities do now?

Rajkahini was 160 minutes long. The Hindi version is reduced to 135 minutes. This works for the film as it makes sure that the proceedings are gripping. Some dialogues at times too are praiseworthy. For example, ‘Mahina ginna humein achchhe se aata hai sahab. Sala har baar laal karke jata hai.’ The underlying message against patriarchy and the hypocrisy of the so-called elite class is also well stated.

But Begum Jaan has a major issue. You don’t feel much for the characters and their plight. This is simply because the execution lags behind in the very basic task of establishing the characters and their life story before they landed in Begum’s brothel. Even the back story of Begum is shown in a hurry. When you don’t know much about the characters, it becomes very difficult to have sympathy for them when their lives are in danger.

Furthermore, in trying to create drama, the director has resorted to too much of loudness. There are high screams by the characters and a jarring background score too. Surprisingly, there are hardly any scenes taking place outside the locality of the brothel. This coupled by its location doesn’t give a feel of Punjab, where the story is based.

Cinematographer Gopi Bhagat, however, has succeeded in artistically capturing the flick. The symbolic method of showing only the half faces of Vidyarthi and Kapur on a couple of occasions is too praiseworthy. The musical tracks are as per the need. ‘Woh Subah Humi Se Aayegi’ plays a big role in the climax.

Vidya Balan has once again succeeded in giving a powerful act. She has displayed both ruthlessness and softheartedness with ease. Unfortunately, her act becomes a victim of loudness on few occasions. Pallavi Sharda not only looks ravishing but also scores high on performance. Ila Arun is brilliant as the eldest member of Begum Jaan’s family.

Chunky Pandey comes late but leaves a resounding impact. Here is an actor who deserves more meaty roles than comical ones. Ashish Vidyarthi and Rajit Kapur provide fine acts. Vivek Mushran, known for his debut Saudagar (1991), is the surprise factor. As expected from someone like Naseeruddin Shah, he is fully believable. Pitobash Tripathy once again shows his supreme talent.

Gauahar Khan proves she is not behind when it comes to acting talent. Priyanka Setia, Ridheema Tiwary, Flora Saini, Mishti, Raviza Chauhan, Poonam Rajput and other girls of the brothel are alright. Rajesh Sharma and Sumit Nijhavan, as Salim, provide perfect support.

Overall: Begum Jaan is an average drama that deserved better execution. The film will have a tough journey at the box office. It is not expected to generate good collections.

Rating: 2.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Srijit Mukherjee

Producers: Vishesh Films

Writer: Srijit Mukherjee

Cast: Vidya Balan, Pallavi Sharda, Gauahar Khan, Ila Arun, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapur, Rajesh Sharma, Naseeruddin Shah

Music: Anu Malik and Khayyam (for the recreation of ‘Woh Subah Kabhi Toh Aayegi)

Genre: Period drama

Runtime: 135 minutes

12Mar/170

Badrinath Ki Dulhania Review

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a light-hearted romantic comedy. Films of this genre generally follow the same pattern all over the world. A boy and a girl meet, fall in love, get separated in due to some issue and reunite in the climax. But the Shashank Khaitan written and directed film goes further ahead by tackling a hard-hitting issue successfully while keeping the film thoroughly entertaining.

Story: Badrinath aka Badri (Dhawan) is a happy-go-lucky youngster from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. He has studied only till 10th standard and looks after his family business. He stays with his father (Rituraj), mother (Prabhu), elder brother (Sinha) and his wife (Prasad). His father is an epitome of patriarchy and regressive practices. So, he doesn’t let women in his family to work and dowry is utmost important for him.

Badri also follows his father’s mindset. He comes across Vaidehi (Bhatt) at a wedding and instantly falls for her. But Vaidehi is a progressive thinker who is wholeheartedly against regressive mindsets. Despite that, Badri and Vaidehi fall in love. But how long can two people with such opposite set of beliefs stay together?

Badrinath-Ki-DulhaniaPlus points:

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is loaded with situational humour throughout its duration. It doesn’t generate giggles or extended giggles but proper laughter. There are various little moments or antics by the characters that play a large role in tickling your funny bone.

The most positive point of the film is the way it tackles the social issue of dowry, patriarchy and gender inequality. The film is more of a satire on these issues. It doesn’t speak against them but still manages to ridicule them through the presentation. It scores high mostly because of the hard-hitting and liberating climax. But even here, the lightheartedness is kept intact.

Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt have come of age as actors. The not only share a positive chemistry but complement each other in terms of the performance too. Varun gets every aspect of Badri right. The little nuances that he has brought do a lot in adding humour. Alia is fantastic as the righteous feminist. There is no doubt that she is a matured artist now.

The supporting actors play a large role in generating the effect. Sahil Vaid shines as Badri’s best friend. He is all set to get known after this act. Rituraj Singh is thoroughly realistic. You just love to hate him. Yash Sinha, brings the right temperament as Singh’s fearful son. Sukmani Lamba, as Vaidehi’s elder sister, Swanand Kirkire, Shweta Basu Prasad and Aparshakti Khurrana too chip in with impressive acts.

The film has three impressive songs – ‘Tamma Tamma,’ title  track and ‘Aashiq Surrender Hua.’

Minus points:

The sudden act before interval by one of the two main leads, which is the biggest turning point, isn’t convincing. The rest of the plus points manage to overshadow this somewhat though.

An incident of attempted rape on a male is shown in a funny way, which is absolutely hypocritical. Will you ever dare show an attempted rape on a female in a humorous manner?

The film should have been much tighter in the second half.

A couple of songs aren’t impressive, which make them as obstacles in the narrative.

A kidnapping scene might not go well with some if it is not seen in the right context (it went off well with me).

Overall: Badrinath Ki Dulhania succeeds in rubbishing off regressive beliefs and provides lots of entertainment too at the same time. It shows the mirror to the section of the society that practices evil practices in the name of ‘tradition.’ The film has had a good opening at the box office. The content and the hype will make sure it enters the Rs 100 crore club.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Producers: Dharma Productions and Fox Star Studios

Writer: Shashank Khaitan

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sahil Vaid, Rituraj Singh, Yash Sinha, Shweta Basu Prasad

25Feb/172

Why we shouldn’t blame Nihalani alone for Lipstick Under My Burkha sexist attack

While we were busy analyzing the results of various municipal elections in Maharashtra, the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) imposed their downright sexist thoughts on the audience.

The board refused certificate to Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha. In other words, they feel the audience should NOT watch this film. The reasons stated by them have sexism written all over them.

In a letter given to the producers, the board justifies their act saying, “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious (sic) sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of the society hence film refused under guidelines 1(a), 2(viii), 2 (ix), 2(x), 2 (xi), 2 (xii) and 3 (I).”

Now, let’s break down their so-called justification. They have given away their sick thoughts in the first five words itself by stating that it’s a ‘lady oriented’ film. When you feel offended by female-oriented films, it speaks volumes about your sexist and pro-MCP mindset. You look at it as a threat to your deep-rooted patriarchal thoughts.

Lipstick Under My Burkha and NihalaniThe second justification ‘their fantasy above life,’ means a female can’t be shown having fantasy. These people have had no problems all these years when a male, or ‘hero’ as they call it, fantasizes about a girl in various ways.

The other reasons – There are contanious (sic) sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of the society – don’t hold ground because the job of the CBFC is not that of a Moral Science teacher.

To make matters worse, Nihalani has justified their actions by sugarcoating it with ‘Indian culture’. He said to the media, “The aim is also to protect our culture and tradition. Our motto is right film should go to the public.”

He should remember that it’s a film CERTIFICATION board. So, their job is only to certify films according to age groups and not pass judgments on which films are ‘right films.’ This was also said by the Bombay High Court during the Udta Punjab fiasco last year. Nihalani and CBFC surely couldn’t have forgotten it so soon. After all, who can forget such huge national embarrassments?

And for your information, the issue is not just limited to a film. It is about how a group of individuals are forcing the people to walk onto their patriarchal path. It is also an attack on freedom of expression in one of world's largest democracies.

However, during every such fiascos by the CBFC, we just don’t tend to look beyond. We criticize Nihalani and other CBFC members but that’s about it. We clearly forget who appointed them and why they are still not removed.

It is the Central Government that had revamped the CBFC committee in 2015. It happened after Leela Samson, the previous chief, and her team resigned due to issues while certifying MSG: The Messenger. The members are handpicked supporters of government ideologies.

Therefore, it is the Central Government that is to be blamed for every attack on freedom of expression by the CBFC. The list of dictatorial blunders by the CBFC is long. So, despite this if they are still not removed, it only means that the government supports them and is propagating its dangerously regressive mindset through the CBFC.

If the government doesn’t support such ideologies, what is stopping them from removing Nihalani and others from the CBFC?

Are they so helpless and powerless?

Conclusion: The film industry needs to unite in huge numbers and protest for the removal of the current CBFC committee team. It has to happen or else we would be discussing the rubbish decisions by these dictators after every few weeks.

By: Keyur Seta