India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: A fun, breezy film

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Deepika Padukone has obviously never gone on a trek before. Why else would she be wearing a mini-skirt and fur boots on the Himalayas? She’s also got perfectly set, blow-dried hair during these treks, and even after a day of playing Holi during the festival of colours, which would render most of us looking like something the cat dragged in, Padukone looks radiant. But that is the world she and other characters in Ayan Mukerji’s “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” inhabit.

These are pretty people falling in love, travelling to picturesque locations, having epiphanies while attending expensive destination weddings and following all the clichés Bollywood loves to propagate. And yet, you cannot help smiling as you leave the cinema hall.

Mukerji makes a candyfloss romance with the most unoriginal storyline ever – there are no surprises along the way. But there are tender moments, playful banter and some crackling chemistry between the two leads that overshadow the other flaws.

Ranbir Kapoor plays Bunny, the rebel full of wanderlust. Padukone is Naina, who appears to be meek at first but emerges as the stronger of the two. The characters are brought to life by Kapoor and Padukone, both of whom are excellent in their roles. Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur play their friends, to form the film’s quartet.

Bombay Talkies: The magic of celluloid

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

A five-minute scene, sans dialogue, just before the interval. A shot of a man elated, reliving his magical day as the rest of the world goes about its own business – these five minutes alone make “Bombay Talkies” worth a watch.

Aashiqui 2: Tuneless tale

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Mohit Suri may have done the impossible and crammed every single romantic movie cliché in “Aashiqui 2”. There are traces of the 1973 hit “Abhimaan” along with the original “Aashiqui” (1990). Director Suri tries to inject an intense vibe in his new film, but fails miserably.

Rahul Jaykar (Aditya Roy Kapoor), a rock star who is slowly slipping away into oblivion thanks to his alcoholism, spots Aarohi (Shraddha Kapoor) singing in a Goan bar. One look and he is smitten, convinced of her talent and ready to take her to Mumbai to make her a star.

Commando: For diehard action fans

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

An Indian Army officer crashes his helicopter into Chinese territory and is subjected to third degree torture. But Karanvir Dogra aka Commando doesn’t let slip any secrets.

Nautanki Saala: A comedy of errors

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

The best scenes in Rohan Sippy‘s “Nautanki Saala” (adapted from French comedy Apres Vous) are the ones where there is no woman or romance involved. Male leads Ayushmann Khurrana and Kunaal Roy Kapoor have a good chemistry going and their humour is quirky and whacky, but funny all the same. The problem in their lives, and in the film, starts when the woman arrives on the scene.

Himmatwala: Do not step into this time warp

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

At the end of a long monologue in “Himmatwala”, where Ajay Devgn rattles off the same sentence in five different languages, he turns to the camera and asks “mazaa nahi aaya na?” (That wasn’t fun, was it?) It’s almost as if director Sajid Khan knew what a bad film he was making, but went ahead and made it anyway.

What they say about the past being viewed through rose-tinted glasses must be true, because if this is what our films were 30 years ago, we should all be glad we’ve moved on. But not Khan. He wants to take us back to corny dialogue, garish sets and the lack of absolutely any logic in the story whatsoever.

Aatma: No soul in this horror flick

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

The real test of a good horror movie, at least in my book, is when you can’t stop thinking about it and feel a shiver down your spine at night. All the great horror movies do that to you.

Suparn Varma’s “Aatma”, about a violent man who abuses his wife in life and in death, is one film that doesn’t scare you most of the time. Instead, there is much twiddling of thumbs as you wait for the next predictable twist and yet another person to die on the way to the climax.

Jolly LLB: Little justice in this legal tale

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Subhash Kapoor’s “Jolly LLB”, about a small-town lawyer who dreams of fame and wealth but develops a conscience along the way, is the film version of the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

From the cover (or in this case, the trailer), “Jolly LLB” seemed like a smart, snappy film about the David who takes on Goliath and comes away a hero. The musty, crowded corridors of the lower courts and the machinations that take place there are characteristic of the Indian judicial system and all its pitfalls are an ideal backdrop to this battle.

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns: Rerun of the quirky and violent

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

A politician learning to video chat, a man trying to draw blood with a rusty knife and a newbie MLA who doesn’t know what a police FIR is - moments that make Tigmanshu Dhulia’s “Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns” a film that successfully marries the quirky with the violent.

I, Me aur Main: Let down by inconsistencies

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

I have to confess I didn’t go into Kapil Sharma’s “I, Me aur Main” with too many expectations. The posters certainly did nothing to pique my excitement. But 30 minutes into the film, I was intrigued. This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill story; the protagonist was someone you would want to hit on the head within the first half-hour.

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