Chef Review

"This seems to be Radha Menon's conspiracy to dilute the legacy  of the 'loins' of Punjab", says Saif Ali Khan, the Chandni Chowk bred boy whose son fails to understand what is Chole Bhature. It is definitely a matter of concern for the north Indian man, once married to a Malayali woman who left him for his inability to understand her desire for attention from her husband and moved back to her native town Kochi.

Roshan Kalra's first love since adolescence was food and the smell of it. He would run away from home to learn cooking, as his father played by veteran Ram Gopal Bajaj detests the idea of a man burning his fingers in the kitchen. He should grow up to be a doctor or an engineer. Roshan struggles to find a job in a restaurant, kills rats, sleeps on the floor and one fine day, makes it big in the United States of America. Did you read the recent news story of an Indian who makes 4 crore a year selling Vada Pav? Well Indians understand the global taste buds and given a chance, they can strike gold in the culinary world especially in the west. Roshan was a man who did it.

A remake of an English film Chef ( 2014) which starred Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downing Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, this film directed by Raja Krishna Menon explores relationships without any bitterness. Menon who earlier directed Airlift with Akshay Kumar , sketches a very likeable and humane character of a man who is capable of love but ends up losing it. He shows Saif Ali Khan like he really is, suave and definitely a gentleman. The character sketch of Roshan Kalra is one of the finest films in the film. He is a little unpredictable, a lot of fun, non-judgmental, easy going man who does not show any signs of chauvinism even as his ex-wife throws the idea of her remarriage to him. He comes and stays inside her house, jokes with the staff and even establishes a calm relationship with his ex-wife’s partner. This character is refreshing and something really out of the box for an average bollywood movie watcher and much of the film's appeal comes from the witty humor and style showcased by Saif Ali Khan. 

The best thing about the film is that it's life flowing on celluloid. Dialogues by Ritesh Shah are simple, funny and witty. Characters are believable and the natural landscape of Kerala put on screen by Cinematographer Priya Seth is alluring. Roshan Kalra's scenes with his son who he had rarely spent time with  are endearing and sketches a beautiful relationship between a father and son where both understand each other's perspective. 

On the flip side, the film starts to falter after the interval. The story meanders without much of a clarity about where it is heading. The screenplay is inconsistent losing the common thread and a motive, concentrating only on the scenes between characters and not the entire story. Indeed they are fun but where are we all going ? Also the very thing the film is based on – Food, there aren't many scenes celebrating food. The delicious shots of cooking, colors on a plate, the process of putting the spices together, the variety of edibles, the creativity of a chef, his inspiration; we are made to be drawn more towards the chef's personal life than the food that he cooks and that is such an opportunity lost. Shots of good food can really make for great visual imagery and here is where the director loses out on a few points. But Saif's wit and dialogue delivery often makes up for this vacuum.

Also the end to the film is  a hurried climax signifying that director had bitten off more than he could chew. All characters come in one scene with some of them behaving exactly opposite of the brief given to them in the beginning of the film.

It’s a slice of life worth eating while we know it could have been so much more delicious.

3 Stars  

Meticulously crafted, deliciously performed. It’s a rebellion.

So there are two kinds of Women's liberation/feminist  films. One like Dangal, which everyone relates to, openly applauds and want to emulate in real lives;  and the other are like Lipstick under my Burkha. Women in these films want to be treated like men, in all ways, it’s about their sexual freedom and desire to break out of the suppressed sexual norms.

A little bit of controversy did the film a lot of good though. The sex scenes in the film are not titillating and erotic, rather prove a point of forced sexual equations between a man and a woman, between a husband and a wife. Some of them are quite badly shot and would definitely make you cringe, they could have been subtler on screen.

All this provides a setting of rebellion.

Ratna Pathak Shah plays a woman who owns Hawa Mahal, a house in old Bhopal where almost all the characters live, she is way past her prime but never tasted the sweetness of roses and warmth of caress. She secretly and imaginatively loves a boy almost half her age without having him know about it. She needs love, 'with' the physicality but can never say it aloud as she is the coveted 'Bua ji' of the whole society. She was the star of the society and a respected figure, and single respected women must not desire for 'sex'. In one scene she also gets an opportunity to marry a man her age but shies away from the idea as she was a strong woman and wanted a man more for sex and less for his money and security. Her portrayal of a woman who learns swimming in a pool from a young trainer and slowly shedding inhibitions, those facial expressions, nuances, the modulation, it’s what veterans are made of. She makes you root for this character and make it your own, as if it were you.

In a scene she is asked her name while she almost tries to 'remember' it before shouting aloud – 'Bua ji'. This has happened to all of us. Women are wives, mothers, sisters and not individual human beings in India. Writer touches on this wound painfully. 

Plabita borthakur playing Rihanna Abidi,  a young girl who could have been the rockstar of the college had her family's old Bhopal upbringing and a profession of sewing Burkhas and living under it did not seal her dreams. It’s a sweet track reflecting the trauma and stress that our present generation goes through. She follows Miley Cyrus and another gentleman from the music world I haven't heard of but she is quite ahead of her times and circumstances in life.  Most of us empathize with the track of her college life, to do or not to do, to be or not to be. How much is enough?

Konkana Sen Sharma plays a woman trapped in an overtly, extravagantly, insensitively  sexual but a loveless marriage. Her husband is back from Saudi and jobless and hides it from her. She even while dressed in a burkha makes a statement by being the best sales person in the company, which abrogates the otherwise claim that Burkha stops women to shine in their jobs.  Its Konkana's story that may bring the most tears to your eyes. The story is excruciatingly real and I heard women break into an emotional outburst with her scenes. In a scene where she finds out about the husband's mistress, she tells her – aap mera jhootha muh me le sakti hain ? There I clapped, a few more did. It was a powerful scene and and a stellar dialogue.   

Ahana kumra plays a beautician who cannot make her mind between two men even after sleeping with both. Sexual liberation, if that it is, it is being discussed right here.

The film's strongest point is the way it's been narrated, quite unlike of anything we have seen in a film in the last many years. A voiceover in the background narrating the sexually provocative lines of a sleazy novel where a girl called Rozy symbolized all women in the film.

While you get soaked into the many layers of this film, it is often that you feel that nothing is coming out of the maze. obviously none will, because the film never promised a conclusion or a solution, it only sparks a debate and set the tongues talking. The end does not provide the catharsis that a narrative with 4 tired women deserved leaving us panting for more.

Warning. The men in the film have nothing much to do making them totally unidimensional. 

Nevertheless, Its a different film, you need to experience it. Some sex scenes are explicit and almost in bad taste but need to be that way to justify the rebellious nature of the theme that challenges only men to be in control of sex.

3 Stars.

Taut, thrilling, disturbing yet reassuring. In her 50th year, Sri Devi still rules

Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.

What is it that we don’t like in the films of this age? Its predictability, old stories, old  techniques, stereotypes. And what is it that we really like in the movies? Something fresh, new age, a new treatment and a new narrative. Well Sri Devi’s calm but devious disposition, a brutal gang rape and a revenge story inspired by the oldest revenge and war saga – Mahabharat, Mom is something very fresh off Sri Devi’s plate.

A song in the film – Maafi Mushkil, in Arabic means, Its okay, no Problem. To pull a victim out of the gruesome memories of Gang rape, assault and physical abuse, we need to tell her, Its Okay- This too shall pass.

It’s the most beautiful thing in the film but would the mother of the victim let it pass? NO. And in this case even while the mother who is not a biological mother, she will prove that it does not need blood ties to avenge her child’s misery.

Director Ravi Udayavar’s narrative is very pacy, almost edge of the seat. There is nothing surplus and every scene serves a mission. Arya ( Sajal Ali ) has a strained relationship with her stepmother but is compensated by a loving father and a little stepsister. She switches to friends to fill the void left behind after the death of her mother. While we expected that director and story writer Ravi would keep the relationship strained forever, instead he dwells on unpredictability and shows a step mother risk her own life to avenge her step daughter’s ordeal.

The film sucks you in its world right from the beginning. Cinematographer Anay Goswami creates a Capital that we easily connect with. There is nothing artificial here. Screenplay by  Girish Kohli absorbs you into a small world where everything seems be your own story and Monisha Baldawa’s crisp editing does not leave a second to waste. Everything is for a purpose here.

Right from the beginning, we are one with Devaki’s character played by Sri devi who is a loving wife to Anand ( Adnan Siddiqui ). She looks ordinary but she is capable of much more sinister. That’s the catch of the film.

Stay on to see some nicely mounted scenes between Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sri who holds his ground in front of the 54 year old Cinestar. Nawazuddin provides a few relief moments in this otherwise edge of the seat thriller. The artificial dentures are just to provide a visual  relief and add some novelty to this character though.  In a scene while watching a red painting symbolizing Draupadi’s revenge, he says, “Aisi painting to hum paan ki thook se bana dete”. Hilarious.  

The film feeds on our hatred towards Rapists. After Nirbhaya rape case, each brutal gang rape has been in the strict eyes of media and legal scrutiny ( arguably so ). We hate the men in the film who are products of depraved patriarchy. In a climax scene Nawazuddin in a dialogue says, Mard Rape nahin karte. Whether this film drives home the point can be argued upon but the point, that Sri devi in her 50th year of acting can still hold a film on her shoulders cannot be refuted.     

Akshay Khanna, like in most of his films proves that less is more on the big screen. He keeps it real.

One of the finest things in the film that adds soul is A R Rahman’s music. His background music in some of the key scenes makes us imagine things much worse. For example the scenes of gang rape in a black SUV roaming on the empty streets of Delhi gives you goose pimples along with steady camera and crane shots. The horror lived by the girls of this heinous crime will be well imagined by the viewer here.  

The problem comes at the end of the story though where things start to feel so clear that you almost know what will happen next.

The plot though interesting becomes too linear and simplistic and lacks drama and layering. Sri devi, albeit just a school teacher is the wonder woman who will get what she wants defying the prying eyes of the police. The story and plot conveniently lets her do that as she is a star and needs to be vindicated. Just in the end we feel the pinch of a very promising premise turning into a fanfare account. But otherwise largely the film remains a taut thriller.

Adnan Siddiqui a veteran artist from Pakistan gets a raw deal with not muct to do here in the role of Anand ( Sri devi’s husband. Suggest you watch one of his plays – Mere Qatil mere Dildar on internet, just to understand his range as an actor ).

Also Sajal Ali, another acclaimed actor is brilliant in the role of the victim. Her brooding, repenting eyes made me shed many a tear, she successfully made us identify with the families who suffer this trauma.

Abhimanyu singh in the role of the main villain is creepy, detestable and very apt for the role. Wonder why most of the rapists in our films have Haryanvi accent these days.

Apart from a few predictable turns and holes in the plot, MOM remains a treat to watch as a film and an experience to be lived. Some films are mirror to our world, we need to look into it.

3 Stars

Akshay Kumar’s Toilet Ek Prem Katha’s First Song Out Now

Akshay Kumar’s upcoming movie has been in the talks for some time now due to its funny posters and unique concept. Told to be a satirical comedy, the movie is based on PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and sheds light on the sanitary conditions of the rural areas.

After what seems like a very long time, the much-anticipated trailer had been released a few days ago. While we got a glimpse of the characters we were left wanting more. The producers decided to share a little treat with their audience.

The lead actor, Akshay Kumar took to Instagram this morning and shared the first look of the song Hans Mat Pagli

 

‪Keshav aur Jaya ki unique love story ka first song, #HansMatPagli out now! Full song link in bio

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) on

True to its title and the theme of the movie, the song is a romantic song. It is a sweet simple song that focuses on Akshay’s character’s emotions and love for his leading lady. The director has tried to capture the simplest form of love and affection through the song and lyrics. Check out the song for yourself. 

Did you love it as much as we did? 

SRK talks about his 25 years in Bollywood

Shah Rukh Khan has been ruling our hearts ever since he made an entry into Bollywood with his movie Deewana. 25 years down the line and he is still known as the ruling King of Bollywood.

From movies like Baazigar to Raees, there isn’t a character he hasn’t played. The actor who is currently busy promoting his upcoming movie ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, spoke about his Bollywood journey during an interview.

He started off by thanking his fans for all the love and support he has received over the years. “I got to know the day before yesterday that I have completed 25 years in Bollywood. I don't know the entire calculation but I think I have completed 26-27 years but it feels very good. Half of my life I have spent doing this service and acting. I have earned a lot for myself, respect, work, it is a long time yaar.

He went on to joke about his fans and the chaos that is caused in hopes of spotting him in his home. “I get to know through social media that people come from a long distance – I'm so thankful, neighbours get upset, traffic jams so sorry – I wish my garden gets bigger so everyone can come in.

When asked about his plans for Eid here’s what he had to say, “I am thinking of cooking for my kids today since all three are here – one day I made it recently so my daughter said thek thak ban gaya."

It is common knowledge that SRK has always encouraged his kids to form their own opinions on religion and has never been the one to force them into anything. When asked about it, here’s what he had to say. “When I went to Ram Leela father was happy, I want my kids to learn about religion themselves. I am reading Mahabharata and I tell the stories to Abram. I think it's the greatest stories that have been ever told.

His movie Jab Harry Met Sejal has been in the news lately after the CBFC’s restrictions on its trailer. Here’s how he reacted to it, “To be honest knowing all people involved in this film …we have never said anything disrespectful to families. When they see the film they will understand the context.

As always when quizzed about his children and their Bollywood debut, he said, “They are not movie stars they happen to be children. If you see them publically don't assume they will handle you the way I do. My children will finish their studies – in my house, there is a rule – one should be a graduate. Suhana has many years to go to finish her studies and then she can act.

He went on to talk about his character in the movie. “The film is about a vertically challenged person and to make it in India is quite special. It's like the hobbit and we are really waiting to see the final product. We have filmed the movie in Goregaon and are trying to finish it in December.

While we can’t wait to see him in his latest movie, we wish him all the luck and hope to see him active in the world of Bollywood for the next 25 years and more. 

Salman brings Gandhian principles to Life

Salman Khan is on a roller coaster right now. He wants to act in the best films, choose the best scripts and in this pursuit he is even ready to give up on his Star persona, if it fits his role. Starting from Bajrangi Bhaijaan to Sultan, we saw a different Salman, a far cry from what has been given to us by popular media. Film Tubelight makes us respect him more for the craft that he believes in and simply his intention to be called a very good actor now. In Tubelight, you neither see a wrestler, nor a lover boy and definitely not a gangster. He is innocent, slow, willing to learn new tricks of acting and definitely taking a lot of risks on the way.

Tubelight is an official adaptation of an American film – Little Boy. In contrast to a little kid playing the character there, here we have a 50 year old behaving like a child. Cashing in on the popularity that Bajrangi’s character enjoyed, Salman Khan steps into the shoes of another ‘boy next door’- Laxman Singh Bisht. He is mentally slow, takes things on face value and takes time to rise to the occasion.  His Chacha, Om puri, a staunch Gandhian and promoter of non-violence teaches him a few theories of Gandhi which change the course of his destiny.

Yakeen ho to Chattan ko bhi hilaya ja sakta hai. And the problems that seem as big as a mountain can be moved too.

If your brother is fighting a war with the Chinese Army, is it possible to live with a family of Chinese descent with peace and love ? yes, because Gandhi fought a war and beat the British without hating them at all. What a beautiful thought to be making a film on. I loved the Idea.

In the film you see the world of 1960s, radio is your first love and the only medium to keep abreast with the world. In terms of art direction there is nothing new or unique but the setting definitely provides a fresh visual to the eyes.  The most lovable and moving parts of the film are ones where we see Om puri in his conventional baritone voice and splendid natural grace. Never overdoing things. For a moment you shed a tear at the thought that we will not see this actor oar excellence again as this one was his last. 

Having said that, he still seems underutilized in the film.

Salman Khan tries to deliver the most memorable film of his life by blindly trusting the director and writers, often to be disappointed by them.  What comes across as an inspiration from Tom Hanks’ film Forest Gump, he is dumb but good at heart, largely relying on the few cringing expressions and lot of tears. You would be moved by Salman in a few scenes though. He doesn’t shy away from looking absurd or childish. Mostly wearing old styled sweaters and torn shoes, it does look adorable.  

What else is good, well the music. Its seamless. What does not work for the film, It’s the writing of the film that takes away from all the charm. Tubelight will always be compared with Kabir and Salman’s terrific director – actor pairing in Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Tubelight is a disappointment in this series. The writing is patchy, inconsistent and plain dull. The brilliant story on the paper never gets translated into a heart wrenching, moving film. Unlike in Bajrangi Bhaijaan we never came to the edge of our seat. Neither with awe, nor with thrill.

 Sohail as a brother to Salman is obviously most natural in this relationship on screen. As a respite, we see a fresh face in the film as opposed to the starlets of the film industry. The scenes between Chinese actress Zhu Zhu and Salman exuded freshness but it’s the little boy from Arunachal Pradesh – Matin Rey Tangu who gets the cake and eats it too.

While the film tries to convey a very valid point and message, how Gandhiji’s teachings are still relevant in today’s times, can we beat our opponent with sheer love?, Salman’s fans can be in for a little disappointment as his traditional moves, the anger, romance, the twinkle in his eyes, the unpredictability of his demeanor , his desi dance moves, the traditional Salman Khan charm is missing here. Also the editor saved too much reel by keeping the scenes long and cumbersome.

However, Shahrukh Khan’s cameo adds zing to the beginning sequence. The two mega stars coming together in one frame after  decades is certainly worth a whistle. The few wrinkles on each face are also reflective of the time we all have lived watching the both of them.

It’s a sweet film with no space for negativity. Film is emotional in parts but largely remains dull filmmaking.  

2.5 stars 

Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha Trailer Has Left Us Wanting More

After what seems like a really long wait, the Toilet: Ek Prem Katha movie trailer is finally out.

The long-awaited trailer starts like any other Bollywood movie. It features a sneak peek into the story of how the lead couple, Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar, meet, fall in love and get married. The so far happy trailer takes a turn when the lead actress finds out there is no ‘sauchalay’ in her husband’s house.

Things take a turn for the worse when the lead actors father does not agree to building a toilet in the house and there is a backlash from the entire village about the notion. Followed by some retaliation from the ladies of the village and Akshay’s strong determination, the trailer ends with Akshay Kumar’s dialogue about his situation only to leave us wanting more.

With a trailer like this, we cannot wait to see what the movie has is store for us. The satirical comedy will be in cinemas on the 11th of August. Are you excited? 

Priyanka Chopra’s got an answer for it all

Ever since her Hollywood debut in Quantico, Priyanka Chopra has been taking the industry by storm. With her critically acclaimed work in Baywatch and three new Hollywood movies in her bag she has been subject to a lot of scrutiny.

Following her Hollywood fame, she has featured on several American talk shows where she has been subject to the darndest questions. But never the one to bow down from a challenge, PeeCee has had a witty comeback for every question.

Check out some of her coolest interviews that prove she is the Lady Boss you do not want to mess with.

1. When Chelsea did not care to sugar-coat it

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2. When her social like was questioned 

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3. When she tackled each question like a boss

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4. When Jimmy Kimmel implied she was dating a minor

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5. When she had the sassiest reply

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6. When she owned the interviewer at the Golden Globes

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7. When her reply was too hot to handle, even for Rachael Rae 

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She isn’t ‘Priyanka Chopra’ for nothing! We cannot wait to see what she has in store for her future interviews. But one thing is guaranteed, we can expect nothing less than entertainment from her. 

 

A story of reincarnation with adolescent simplicity, puppy love & immature supervision thrown in.

Two men were in love with the same girl, in both lives, today and 800 years back. Separated by a lifetime, same things happen to them and they must meet the same end if one of them does not muster courage to alter it.

When Shiv and Saira meet in Budapest, they instantly connect. They spend 2 days and one night together. Just when we thought they were made for each other Saira asks him to get out of the house as she already has a boyfriend! She says, we hardly know each other while she had casually slept with him last night. It became obvious that the film is made to appeal to the young college going crowd that believes in ‘no strings being attached’.  There are young, good looking actors, lovely clothes, great European locations and beautifully shot landscapes with a bit of fun and romance thrown in here.

Sushant Singh Rajput as an actor has a quality that appeals to most people of all ages. In this film he exudes boyish charm, carries a romantic aura, and a vulnerability that was very  well capitalized on by film M S Dhoni. These qualities of his, work very well for this film as most of the first half is spent convincing the viewer how  adorable is the boy and girl on that celluloid. Producer turned director Dinesh Vijan probably forgot that the couple in the lead here is not Shahrukh Khan and Kajol who could carry the entire first half on their romantic histrionics. Actor Jim Sarbh makes an entry much to our relief just before the interval, cutting short the monotony of  this romance.

Jim Sarbh has been  getting rave reviews ever since he played a terrorist in film Neerja. In this film, as Zakir merchant aka Zac, he offers layered nuances of performance, uses his body language effectively to put across the character of a psychic lover who would kill to win. But in both his lives, his Hindi dialogues with a heavy American accent took away a lot of mystique from his character. Also the character was so dismally written that Zac becomes laughing stock in most parts while he had the potential to scorch the screen like in Neerja.  

I could draw parallel between Raabta and Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra’s Mirzya as the character of Sahiba is common to both and so is Saahiba’s confused love. The scenes shot by cinematographer Martin Priess  in the beautiful island for the past life track are breathtaking, especially the fight scenes between the tribe Murarka’s head Jilaan played by Sushant singh Rajput, Kriti and Sarbh. But that is not enough to keep the interest in the film. Also the character of the oldest man in the tribe played by Raj Kumar Rao was a bewildering spectacle but could have been used more effectively in the storyline. He would mostly talk in rhyme, in an accent that to me sounded Awadhi – Muraka kabhi na haara, usey dhokhey ne maara.

The film boasts of good looking actors, great wardrobe, lovely locations, you can’t take your eyes off the screen but it’s difficult to be emotionally invested in the characters. We never cared when the characters laughed or cried. The film constantly changes its temperament. In the middle of a crisis,  the characters were cracking jokes.  

Raabta is somewhere between a thriller and a romance and tries to be a little of everything. I was mostly glued to its cinematography and styling. Rest all seemed less fascinating.

2 Stars