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from India Insight:

Movie Review: Bhoothnath Returns

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The one thing to be said for Nitesh Tiwari’s “Bhoothnath Returns” is that it has impeccable timing. At a time when India is caught up in election fever, and every TV news channel is celebrating “the dance of democracy”, the film delivers the same message, albeit with a higher budget and a stronger medium than public service advertisements.s

Combining a children’s film with a sermon on the importance of voting couldn’t have been easy, and at times, the film falters. Yet, you cannot help but warm up to the characters and the rather uneven storyline, thanks to the generous dose of honesty that director Tiwari brings to the table.

Amitabh Bachchan reprises his role as Bhoothnath, an amiable ghost in the land of spectres, depicted in the film as an idyllic European village with meadows and towering castles. Ridiculed because he couldn’t spook earthlings in the first film, Bhoothnath is sent back to scare a few kids, so that he can fulfil his ghostly duties.

Once on Earth, however, Bhoothnath forgets his original mission, thanks to his encounter with Akhrot, a wisecracking urchin in Mumbai’s biggest slum, and the everyday hardships of the poor in Indian cities. Akhrot convinces Bhoothnath that the best way to make use of his supernatural powers is to contest elections against the local builder-cum-politician-cum-gangster, Bhausaheb (Boman Irani), who has prospered for long, did nothing for his constituents and is the stereotype of a typical Indian politician.

from India Insight:

Movie review: Youngistaan

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Syed Ahmad Afzal's "Youngistaan" is supposed to be a funny and clever look at the reign of a carefree young man who finds himself sworn in as the prime minister of India.

Abhimanyu Kaul (Jackky Bhagnani), the son of the incumbent premier, is partying one minute and sitting by his dying father's bedside the next. Our young hero is oblivious to his parent dying of cancer and knows nothing about the vagaries of politics in India, but is still trusted with the highest office in the country.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Ankhon Dekhi

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The protagonist in Rajat Kapoor’s “Ankhon Dekhi” will remind you of some relative that you may have encountered at numerous family gatherings -- the talkative, eccentric but loveable uncle who arouses mixed emotions.

The rest of the film’s characters, including Bauji’s lovelorn daughter; the babbling, hot-tempered mother; and his brooding brother are all sketched by Kapoor with such affection, that in spite of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, they are recognizable as people in our daily lives.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Lakshmi

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Lakshmi” is supposed to be a no-holds-barred, searing look at the world of human trafficking and prostitution. The protagonist, a wide-eyed, innocent girl of 14 is sold to a pimp, raped several times, and forced into the flesh trade.

When Lakshmi finally gets the courage to fight back, she finds that the law is not necessarily on her side and the rot is deep inside the system. Kukunoor, who in the past has made films that demonstrated ample sensitivity and emotions, seems to have let go and concentrate merely on shocking and titillating the viewer.

from India Insight:

A Minute With: Rajat Kapoor on ‘Ankhon Dekhi’

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Over the past decade, film-maker Rajat Kapoor has found a niche for himself in Bollywood, writing and directing movies that rely more on unusual plots than glamorous movie stars.

His latest film, “Ankhon Dekhi”, has actor Sanjay Mishra playing a man who refuses to believe anything that he hasn’t experienced himself. The film opens in Indian cinemas on Friday.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Bewakoofiyaan

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Nupur Asthana’s “Bewakoofiyaan” deals with money, its effects on modern-day relationships, and how couples deal with societal pressures.

But the treatment of the film is quite outdated. There are autocratic fathers who don’t trust their daughters, and grown men who are out of a job but splurge on vacations and designer clothes.

from India Insight:

A Minute With: Ayushmann Khurrana

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It’s been two years since Ayushmann Khurrana made an unconventional Bollywood debut with “Vicky Donor”, playing a sought-after sperm donor at a fertility clinic.

Despite its bold theme, the romantic comedy was a hit in conservative India and helped Khurrana, a known face on Indian television, gain a foothold in a competitive Hindi film industry.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Gulaab Gang

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Soumik Sen's "Gulaab Gang" wants to assure us, through its promos and marketing campaigns, that it speaks of women's empowerment and the power they can wield against a corrupt and insensitive system.

On the contrary, this is a movie that does women’s empowerment a huge disservice -- it depicts the protagonists as one-dimensional characters; equates justice with mob violence; and would have you believe that the punishment for a heinous crime is to slice off the perpetrator’s body parts.

from India Insight:

Delhi High Court clears release of ‘Gulaab Gang’

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday cleared the way for Bollywood film “Gulaab Gang” to open in cinemas, a day after it put the movie’s release on hold over allegations the film was based on a real-life women’s rights organization in India with a similar name.

Sampat Pal, the leader of the “Gulabi Gang” -- a group of vigilantes wearing pink saris who act on complaints of domestic violence and dowry demands -- had moved court against the movie. Pal accused the film-makers of basing the movie on her life without her permission.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Queen

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

At one point in Vikas Bahl’s “Queen”, lead character Rani has too much to drink on the streets of Paris. She bursts into loud sobs over her broken marriage, but perks up when she hears a Hindi song. Kangana Ranaut, who plays Rani, changes her body language in a flash, easily transitioning from despair to euphoria.

It is Ranaut’s ownership of the character, as well as director Bahl’s conscious attempt at a subtle, screwball comedy that makes “Queen” soar, making it a film where viewers root for the main character and find her naivete charming.

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