India Insight

Movie Review: Raja Natwarlal

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

Kunal Deshmukh, going by his filmography, loves two things – Emraan Hashmi and cricket. After “Jannat” – a movie about cricket and match fixing – and the caper film “Jannat 2″, director Deshmukh seems to have combined the storylines for his latest offering – a caper film about cricket starring Hashmi.

Raja NatwarlalRaja Natwarlal” is a flimsily written and half-heartedly directed film, which falls short of its lofty ambitions because no one associated with it seems to have any concern for detailing or authenticity on celluloid.

Hashmi plays a cocky, but good-hearted con man, who decides to rob 8 million rupees from a gangster. When his partner-in-crime Raghav (Deepak Tijori) has a change of heart and decides to return the money to Varda Yadav (Kay Kay Menon), Raghav is shot dead.

Raja (Hashmi) decides to take revenge. He enlists the help of his friend’s mentor Yogi (Paresh Rawal) and puts together a motley crew, almost the equivalent of an Indian Ocean’s Eleven.

The con, which involves selling Yadav a cricket team in a domestic Twenty20 tournament is where the film really falls apart. There are so many loopholes in the plan, and so much is left unexplained that, at the end of the film, the audience might feel they are the ones being conned.

Interview: Rani Mukerji on playing “Mardaani” roles in Bollywood films

In 1997, when the top-grossing Bollywood films were a mix of fluffy romantic comedies and maudlin love triangles, a barely 20-year-old Rani Mukerji made her Hindi film debut playing a rape victim who is asked to marry her tormentor and faces innumerable challenges in her quest for dignity.

ranimukherjiRemembering that and the other films where she played a strong female character, a newly married Mukerji told India Insight she likes to strike a balance between what she calls substantial roles and those written only for entertaining fans. Her latest film “Mardaani,” (“Masculine”) produced by her producer husband, sees Mukerji in the role of a tough police officer out to bust a child-trafficking ring.

“I have always tried to portray strong women in all the films that I have done because I do feel that when people see movies they get very moved and they do feel inspired,” she said about the roles that she prefers.

Movie review: ‘Katiyabaaz’ transforms banal reality into gripping tale

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

In one of the many tragicomic moments in “Katiyabaaz” (Powerless), a woman earnestly remembers her gods in the darkness, mumbling something that roughly translates to “Dear Almighty, please bring back the light”. ‘Light’ here means electricity.

katiyaaHer prayer sounds absurd but her misery is real. As a resident of Kanpur, the invocation is probably made after several hours without electricity or even clean water in the sweltering and often lethal heat of a north Indian summer.

The award-winning documentary by Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar takes a compelling look at the problem of chronic power outages that the industrial city of Kanpur has suffered for decades. The film-makers focus their lens on Loha Singh and Ritu Maheshwari, two unusual but highly engaging heroes.

Movie review: Supercop ‘Singham Returns’ with a roar

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

He can punch legions of hired hoodlums into submission. Troublemakers on speeding bikes can’t get past him, for he grabs them by their collars without suffering so much as a sprain. His stunts are out of this world, because gravity bends to his will and friction doesn’t slow him down.

4Meet Bajirao Singham, the one-man army in director Rohit Shetty’s ‘Singham Returns’, a black-and-white world of sententious dialogue, over-the-top action, loud background music and mildly entertaining humour.

To quickly summarise the plot, Singham (Ajay Devgn) is Mumbai’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, a supercop blessed with infinite courage, phenomenal crime-fighting abilities and an unassailable character. Assigned the task of protecting upright politician Gurukant Desai (Anupam Kher), Singham comes in direct confrontation with Desai’s political ally, the unscrupulous Prakash Rao (Zakir Hussain) and his partner-in-crime — a wily, pot-bellied and all-powerful ‘godman’ called Baba (Amol Gupte). Singham must also try to clear the name of his colleague Mahesh, a low-ranked police official who was inexplicably discovered dead with a huge stash of unaccounted money.

Movie Review: This ‘Pizza’ is half-baked

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

If the rule of thumb to gauge the worth of a horror movie is how badly it scares you, then Akshay Akkineni’s supernatural thriller ‘Pizza’ is successful only in parts. That’s tragic, considering the plot held promise and would’ve worked had it been treated more intelligently and with attention to finer detail.

pizzaaKunal (Akshay Oberoi) and Nikita (Parvathy Omanakuttan) are a married couple. Kunal is a pizza delivery man while Nikita writes horror novels. Money is scarce and they struggle to make ends meet. One night Kunal delivers a pizza to a woman (Dipannita Sharma) at her bungalow.

Soon he finds himself trapped inside the house and from then on, the film is about Kunal stumbling upon bloodied bodies, his close encounters with demons, and his attempts to escape. Add to the mix Kunal’s wife who goes missing after she turns up at the bungalow following his frantic call for help.

Bollywood seeks tax breaks from Budget 2014

By Shashank Chouhan and Sankalp Phartiyal

Bollywood is hoping that the newly elected government’s first budget will contain tax breaks that will let it write a happy ending, at least for this year and next.

The Indian movie business, led by the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry, hopes Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget will reduce the tax burden on movie studios as well as theatre owners and operators, and will provide incentives that would let them open more theatres around the country to boost ticket sales.

While the entertainment tax on movie tickets varies from one state to another, filmmakers pay numerous other fees, such as a 12.36 percent service tax to the central government that is charged on payments to actors and film crews, as well as customs on any imports such as movie equipment. This, industry insiders say, makes it tough to make more money. In Maharashtra, Bollywood’s home state, the taxes on a movie can comprise up to 61 percent of a film’s budget.

Movie Review: ‘Lekar Hum Deewana Dil’ is an insipid disaster

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

Director Arif Ali’sLekar Hum Deewana Dil” will try your patience from the word go, so here’s a game you can play to make the experience more tolerable. It’s called ‘Spot the Movie’ and its rules are simple: name the films that this particular snorefest reminds you of. I promise you, there’ll be many.

In “Lekar Hum Deewana Dil”, Karishma Shetty (Deeksha Seth) and Dinesh ‘Dino’ Nigam (Armaan Jain) are college classmates in Mumbai who get along like a house on fire. Everyone else is convinced they are in love but the lead pair says they are just good friends. Such good friends that Karishma begs Dino to marry her to avoid the arranged marriage her rich, tyrannical father has planned for her. They elope when neither family consents to the match.

With little money and an unfinished education, it doesn’t make sense. But what is an eloping Bollywood couple if not ridiculously optimistic? The two travel deep into the country’s heartland. One of their stops is Dantewada in the state of Chhattisgarh, where they spend time with and even shake a leg for – hold your breath – a bunch of friendly Maoist rebels. Egos clash, quarrels ensue and things fall apart in general before there is enlightenment and reconciliation.

Movie Review: ‘Humshakals’ is best avoided

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

In the opening scene of director Sajid Khan’s “Humshakals” (lookalikes), Ashok Singhania (Saif Ali Khan) rattles off a series of unfunny jokes at a club as unamused guests flee. In a way, the scene is a sign of things to come, portending a long-winded tale with dull, contrived and ineffective humour.

Humshakals With “Humshakals”, Sajid Khan returns with his particular brand of slapstick comedy (remember “Housefull?). The plot is predictably threadbare. Ashok is taking care of his comatose father’s business empire; he’s an amateur comedian, a devoted son and a caring lover. Kumar (Riteish Deshmukh) is his best friend. Then there is Kunwar Amar Singh (Ram Kapoor), Ashok’s scheming maternal uncle who wants to seize his property by proving he is mentally unstable.

Confusion arises when Ashok and Kumar are admitted to the ‘Cray G. Mental Asylum’ (you read that right) and are mistaken for a pair of doppelganger patients with the same names. If that isn’t bizarre enough, there is a third patient called Joe in the same institution who is a lookalike of the scheming uncle.

Vijender Singh enters the Bollywood ring with ‘Fugly’

Vijender Singh, the pin-up boy of Indian boxing, made his Bollywood debut on Friday, starring in a thriller about four youngsters who get into trouble with the police.

Singh, whose middleweight bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics helped raise the sport’s profile in India, is training for next month’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games at a boxing camp in Patiala and was yet to watch “Fugly”, a film produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, when we interviewed him.

Singh, a strapping 28-year-old with boyish looks, told India Insight in a phone interview that he was up for new challenges and making a movie was just one of them. Excerpts from the interview:

Movie Review: 2 States

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

Abhishek Varman’s “2 States”, based on a Chetan Bhagat novel of the same name, is a good example of a movie subject that would appeal to a new, younger Indian audience.

It features two youngsters who are freethinking, unencumbered by tradition and apparently able to take their own decisions. But they are respectful enough not to implement those decisions without their families’ approval.

This is where the new India stands – parents who give children freedom and education, but exert their authority when it comes to crucial decisions.

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