Director: Jon Favreau
Producers: Walt Disney Pictures and Fairview Entertainment
Writers: Rudyard Kipling (original story) and Justin Marks
Cast: Neel Sethi, (voices of) Nana Patekar, Om Puri, Irrfan Khan, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra
Music: John Debney
Runtime/ Duration: 105 minutes
Rating: * * * ½
Review By: Keyur Seta
The mere announcement of a new film based on the classic The Jungle Book fills you with excitement, which keeps on increasing with the subsequent release of its promotional materials. And its graph goes further high with the release since the Jon Favreau directed film is a delightful mix of adventure, action and humour. And if you were grown up in the ‘90s, you will get a high dose of nostalgia while watching the Hindi version.
The Jungle Book (2016) is a live-action cum animation film based on author Rudyard Kipling’s tale of the same name. A boy in his early years lands up in a jungle under mysterious circumstances. Mowgli (Neel Sethi), as he comes to be known, becomes the apple of every animal’s eye and, in no time, becomes a member of the jungle family, which includes Raksha, his step mother, Bagheera, Akela and others.
Trouble starts brewing for Mowgli when Sher Khan, the tiger, gets to know about the presence of a human, which is against the rules of the jungle. The man-eater is hell-bent in finishing off Mowgli. Now, the only option left for the kid is to leave the jungle and live among humans. But will Mowgli be able to leave his dear family? It is during this period that he becomes thick friends with the humorous Baloo.
The Jungle Book doesn’t quite start off on an exciting note. But it soon gains momentum and from here onwards, the film becomes a joyful adventure saga. As Mowgli sets out for his journey, the writer has churned out non-stop entertaining elements. The entry of Baloo and the exciting climax add to the plus points. In fact, it won’t be wrong to state that the move is more like a children’s masala entertainer.
But The Jungle Book is way different than the TV series shown on Doordarshan in terms of its method of narration. This version is a lot darker and a bit scary for kids. For once, I agree with the Censor Chief, Pahlaj Nihalani for giving the film a U/A certificate.
The only major drawback here is the lack of emotional appeal. The close bond Mowgli shares with his jungle family isn’t established properly. We are just made to believe it since we already know. Also, there are hardly any emotions on display when the boy leaves the jungle. Plus, not including the much loved song 'Chaddi pehan ke phool khila hai' might also act as a dampener.
The technical departments deserve maximum applause for having a lion’s share in making the final product so appealing. The CGI of animals, birds and jungle is as close to reality as possible. Add to this Bill Pope’s outstanding camerawork.
Child actor Neel Sethi makes his debut with this one. There was huge responsibility on the kid’s shoulders and he carries it with perfection. He is adorable and impressive at the same time.
From the voiceovers, Irrfan Khan, as the Punjabi speaking Baloo, is a sheer delight. Nana Patekar is once again brilliant as Sher Khan. Om Puri, as Bagheera, isn’t far behind. Shefali Shah, as Raksha, and the rest of the artists are impressive too. As the voice of Kaa, the snake, Priyanka Chopra leaves an impact despite a brief stint.
Overall: The Jungle Book is a delightful saga that will leave children and grown-ups entertained in equal measures. The film is all set to garner impressive box-office collections in India and abroad.
Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
A real story that deals with treachery, plagiarism and some amount of tragedy is obviously expected to have its share of serious or sad moments. But despite Tim Burton’s Big Eyes dealing with the aforementioned elements, it manages to be a delightful and peaceful saga and that too while doing complete justice to the subject at hand.
Big Eyes tells the real life story of artist Margaret Keane. In 1958 in North California, Margaret (Amy Adams) flees from her abusive husband along with her daughter and settles in San Francisco. As she loves painting, she becomes a street painter that draws people’s sketches. Frankly, she has no other career skill. She specializes in drawing big eyes of their subjects as she feels eyes always reveal everything.
As sheer co-incidence, Margaret meets Walter (Christoph Waltz), a fellow street painter. He encourages her to be a bit cunning and dream big. Their friendship soon blossoms into love and they get married. But can Margaret trust Walter?
The basic story is developed hurriedly at the start. But you don’t mind that since it doesn’t stop you from getting completely involved and feel for the characters of Margaret and her daughter. The proceedings become streamlined after the character of Walter is introduced and the goodness in terms of the writing and presentation is carried on till the climax that is both moving and hilarious.
But a massive twist in the second half and its presentation becomes the biggest reason for the film being such a well-made product. The amusing thing is that the twist was always in your face from the start but you never noticed or thought about it.
The writers have purposely stayed away from keeping melodrama at bay. This surely works well, but in doing that, they haven’t added conflict elements even when it was required. This probably is the only major negative point one can think of.
Bruno Delbonnel’s camerawork is also largely responsible for the film being so pleasing. It is sheer joy to see the colorful visuals and streets from his lenses. The art designer also deserves similar praise for creating the old era of the 1950s and 1960s with perfection. Some soulful background tunes add to the pleasure.
Coming to the performances, Amy Adams is excellent! She displays absolute perfection while playing Margaret Keane. There is not even a moment when you can stop feeling for her. She is rightly being nominated for the Oscars for this act.
Christoph Waltz too brings alive the cunning and funny character of Walter through his abilities. Having said this, you also can’t ignore that he is becoming repetitive. As the younger daughter of Margaret, Delaney Raye displays mature acting skills. Madeleine Arthur, as the older one, is decent and so are the rest of the actors.
Overall: Big Eyes is a peaceful saga that fills you with joy. The film has the ability to impress even those who don’t or hardly watch Hollywood.
Director: Tim Burton
Producers: Silverwood Films, Electric City Entertainment and Tim Burton Productions
Writers: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Delaney Raye
Genre: Biopic/ Drama
By: Keyur Seta
Rating: * * * * ½
The biggest challenge while portraying a tragedy is to make it look as realistic as possible. And when the disaster is as magnanimous as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, it becomes all the more testing, not just for the filmmaker but for everyone involved. The same challenge awaited director Ravi Kumar and his team for Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, which is based on the said tragedy in 1984.
To say that they have overcome the challenge will be an understatement. What they have achieved is nothing short of a benchmark for realistic cinema because it just can’t get more realistic than this. But the reason why the film on the whole can be labeled as excellent is the fact that it scores high in every department.
The movie is English with partly Hindi. The story takes place in Bhopal in 1984. Dilip (Rajpal Yadav) is a rickshaw driver staying in a slum in the central area of the city with his wife (Tannishtha Chatterjee) and younger sister (Fagun Ivy Thakrar). His family struggles to live from hand-to-mouth from his earnings. Dilip gets a new lease of life when he lands a job at the newly-arrived Union Carbide’s pesticide plant.
Although Dilip is happy to have found a source of earning despite uneasy conditions, he is worried to know that the safety standards at the plant are being ignored. Soon, this leads to a fatal leakage of the poisonous Methyl Isocyanide that kills thousands in a single night making it the worst man-made industrial disaster ever. Even 30 years after the incident, thousands continue to suffer from its consequences.
The base of all great films is writing and that is exactly the case here with a watertight screenplay and real yet dramatic dialogues. To top it up, Kumar has handled the subject with utmost precision. The manner in which he has added realism to such utterly difficult scenes, especially the tragic ones, is to be seen to be believed. As stated earlier, it can’t get more realistic! To carry out such a task in just your second film is no mean achievement.
Naturally, this gives rise to a number of scenes that stay etched in your memory. From these, Dr Chandra (Manoj Joshi) trying to select one person from many whom he can administer an antidote deserves special mention.
Another reason why the film scores high marks is that it doesn’t get depressing despite it being based on one of the greatest tragedies ever. This indicates that its motto is not to bring back terrible memories but to highlight the importance of human safety over profits.
It is difficult to choose a negative point here. Probably the number of characters could have been reduced and the life of the people of Bhopal, especially the slums, could have been portrayed more. This could have been possible as the film’s length isn’t much.
Coming to the technicalities, the VFX team should be lauded as they had their task cut out. Cinematographers Charlie Wuppermann and Anil Chandel have succeeded in displaying their skills. The background score is apt for the proceedings. The fast-paced classical tunes used at the start help a lot in generating interest instantly.
The performances are a top-draw too! Rajpal Yadav gives his best performance till date as far as his serious roles are concerned. Veteran Martin Sheen is excellent as the CEO of Union Carbide. Kal Penn is brilliant too in the role of the cunning journalist. Mischa Barton plays the journalist from US with perfection.
Tannishtha Chatterjee once again proves she is one of the most talented actors in the country. In the role of the doctor, Manoj Joshi is flawless! Akhil Mishra and Joy Sengupta also deserve praise. Satish Kaushik creates an impact in a cameo while Fagun Ivy Thakrar too provides good support.
Overall: Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is an excellent piece of realistic cinema that shouldn’t be missed. The film requires good word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office when it releases in India on December 5.
Director: Ravi Kumar
Producers: Sahara Movie Studios and Rising Star Entertainment
Writers: David Brooks and Ravi Kumar
Cast: Rajpal Yadav, Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Manoj Joshi, Akhil Mishra, Fagun Ivy Thakrar
Music: Benjamin Wallfisch
Genre: Period Drama
Duration: 96 minutes
Release Date: December 5, 2014 (India)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producer: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven and Emma Thomas
Writers: Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Jonathan Nolan, Bob Kane
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anna Hathaway
Music: Hans Zimmer
Star Value: No star can make-up for Heath Ledger's absence. He is just irreplaceable! But due to the presence of Christian Bale, Charles Roven and Anna Hathaway, one can say the star value for The Dark Knight Rises is high. Plus, it’s the brand of Batman that adds more star value.
Hype: The hype has been tremendous ever since the makers announced the film. As the promos were out and the film neared its release, the hype kept increasing.
Music: Music doesn’t have scope in such Hollywood films although the songs of this film are becoming known. The music will become a hit if it succeeds in complementing the film well.
The Dark Knight Rises will surely get a great opening at the box-office in India. The recent release The Amazing Spider-Man received the highest collections for a Hollywood film in India. Don’t be surprised if The Dark Knight Rises surpasses that record if it manages to impress initially. There are chances that TDKR will affect the collections of next week’s Bollywood release Kya Super Cool Hai Hum.
Star Value: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone aren’t considered stars in India. However, it’s the character of Spider-Man that is the real star capable of pulling audience to the theatres. And due to Irrfan Khan’s presence, there is an added interest in the movie in India.
Hype: The first promo of the film created tremendous hype for the film when it released. From then, the excitement for the movie has just increased. Irrfan’s presence has also helped in creating the hype.
Music: Being a Hollywood film and that too of a superhero genre, there is no scope for music. But anyways, such films don’t need music for becoming popular.
Considering the box-office scenario of Hollywood films in India, The Amazing Spiderman will surely get a very good opening. Dubbed in Hindi and some regional languages, this is the first Hollywood film to open with over 1000 screens across India. If the movie generates positive response initially, the decision will turn out to be a killer. However, its collections might drop after a week when Rohit Shetty’s comic caper Bol Bachchan releases.
Star Value: Tom Cruise, one of the most famous actors in the universe, is back in the fourth installment of the successful Mission Impossible series. This reason is enough to get the cash registers ringing. Plus, the fact that it also has Anil Kapoor in a cameo has further boosted its chances in the Indian market. There is also Paula Patton playing the female lead.
Hype: The hype is tremendous for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol with its promos having a terrific impact on the audience. The film has been more in the news in India due to the Anil factor.
Music: Being a Hollywood film, you can’t expect song and dance sequences. But Eminem’s ‘Won’t Back Down’ and the theme music is gaining a lot of attention. The songs and other soundtracks will appeal more when seen in the movie.
Prediction: Due to the above factors, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol will have a very good run at the box-office, at least in the first week. The fact that not a single well known Bollywood film is releasing with it will give it further advantage. Even if the initial response doesn’t turn out to be very positive, people will go to see it once. However, the collections will come down once Shah Rukh Khan’s Don 2 releases on December 23.
Ratings: - * * *
I am firmly of the view that a remake should not be compared with the original film. It’s my belief that a remake is a way of looking at a particular story in a different way and during a different time-span. It’s more like an experiment as well as a tribute. Having said that, I am forced to say that the original 1974 flick The Taking Of Pelham 123 should be better than this remake by Tony Scott, only because of a particular scene which I found illogical.
After grabbing the ransom money, why on earth will a terrorist walk on the streets of a city without a care in the world so that the cops can catch or shoot him? Even someone like me, who has no criminal record, would know that the first thing in this situation to do is to flee from the city or country as soon as possible. However, in spite of this, this remake is worth watching mostly because of the technical aspects, the sleek look and the performances.
It’s a typical hostage drama where Ryder (John Travolta) and his group hijack the New York City’s subway train The Pelham 123 and demand a huge ransom in return within 60 minutes. Ryder vows to gun down one person every minute after the deadline. Walter Garber (Denzel Washington), an MTA official, is forced to become the negotiator due to the recent circumstances in his life.
Thanks to a gripping screenplay and some stylish effects, the interest is generated throughout the 121 minutes. Plus, some innovative camerawork add to the plus points. The bird view shots are terrific. The above mention points help a great deal when the goings goes off-track slightly in between. The stunts and the action too deserve special mention. However, the couple of accidents included looked like a forced attempt to create thrill.
Travolta and Washington’s performance and the witty interaction between them act as the main pillar. Here, the dialogue writer deserves applause for creating a bond between the characters. Because of these plusses, The Taking Of Pelham 123 can be quite satisfying, especially for thriller lovers.