Saturday, May 24, 2014


Cast: Tiger Shroff (Bablu), Kriti Sanon (Dimpy), Prakash Raj (Chaudhary), Sandeepa Dhar (Renu), Devanshu Sharma (Rakesh), Vikram Singh (Rajjo Fauji), Shireesh Sharma (Police Commissioner), Samar Jai Singh (Bhuppi), Sugandha Mishra (Shallu), Sunil Grover (Guest Appearance)
Genre: Romance, Drama
Direction: Sabbir Khan
Production: Sajid Nadiadwala
Written by: Sanjeev Dutta
Cinematographer: Hari Vedantam
Editor: John Carnochan
Music: Sajid-Wajid, Manj Musik 
Release Date: 23rd May, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 31 minutes

Heropanti, debut film for both the two main protagonists Tiger Shroff (Jacky Shroff’s son) and Kriti Sanan (she has worked in south earlier), has a concept very much seen and heard off. It is being rumoured that Heropanti is remake of Telugu superhit movie Parugu. It showcases the conservative families where parents are having tremendous love towards their children and also very protective. But parents’ love vanishes the moment they learn about their child’s desire to get married against their wishes. And if elopement happens, then the frantic search of the couple by the family begins; not to accept them but to kill them (known as ‘Honour Killing’ in our society, although there is nothing honourable at all in this). For the whole life, parents try to bring up their children without letting them know any troubles. All they want is that they should grow up and never become a threat to their status. Parents are just concerned about the well-being of their children and in their language, they can never ever think anything bad for their children. But when it comes to an important decision of life like marriage, parents don’t even bother to involve their children, rather end up imposing their desires upon the children. As parents, we must make our children competent enough to take decisions of their lives, we must facilitate them to choose the right life partner in an open communication environment, cannot afford to have autocratic approach and impose decisions upon them. The plot did remind me of Rangrezz and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge at times.

The movie begins with the introduction of Chaudhary Suraj Singh (Prakash Raj), his brothers Bhuppi Bhai, Pappi Bhai and other family members who have all gathered for the marriage of Renu, elder daughter of Chaudhary (Sandeepa Dhar). Chaudhary Suraj’s Haweli is in the Jat-land, where loud moments viz. shero-shayari, videography, song-dance, boozing etc. are all shown. The celebration in the air changes into gloom mood, when Renu elopes with her boyfriend Rakesh (Devanshu Sharma). And there starts the head-hunting for the family and relatives of Rakesh who could let Renu’s family know about their whereabouts. Finally Rakesh’s three friends become the target, Bablu (Tiger Shroff) being one of them. Bablu has been given a smashing entry in the movie with some good fist-moving-action shots when Renu’s relatives come to grab him, right out of his gym. Bablu and his two friends are locked up in Chaudhary’s haveli along with one more NRI person (who was captured just because he was wearing red jeans and the astrologer had predicted that someone in red trousers might know about the whereabouts of Renu and Rakesh). Bablu is pleasantly surprised to find her ‘love at first sight’ girl at Chaudhary’s residence – Chirpy Dimpy, second daughter of Chaudhary (Kriti Sanan), but it takes almost the first half to explore his girl in that Jat-land.   

Does Dimpy accept Bablu’s love ? She knows that one step out of the tradition would fetch her lot of challenges from her family, so, how does she move further ? What happens when the family learns about Bablu’s love for Dimpy? Does Dimpy’s family ever set Bablu and his friends free?

We have seen such plots many times in the past. What I felt was that the presentation missed punches. Love between Bablu and Dimpy is not developed properly. But yes, the plot tries to highlight both the versions – the reasoning for the rage of a father whose daughter elopes and also the youngsters’ reasoning behind wanting the freedom to choose their life partners. Director has wisely avoided any honour-killing scene and he touches this core issue in a very sensitive manner.

While watching the movie, I observed certain errors (though minor in nature) which could have been very well avoided. When Bablu and his friends are hit and tortured, in one frame, their face is bruised, but then the face is bruise free in the succeeding frame. Dimpy mentions Rakesh as Rajesh in one of her dialogue.

The dialogue by Bablu (in regard to his Heropanti): Sabko Aati Nahi and Meri Jaati Nahi” is a bit overused in the movie, but probably to justify the title.

Tiger Shroff has got a good Launchpad to showcase his excellent dancing, action skills. Though, I felt, he is less convincing in the frames where he has to emote and express. His action scenes have shades of Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan; his shirtless moments remind us of Salman Khan, and his dancing skills are fabulous, which has shades of Hrithik Roshan. Kriti Sanan, although does not have much to do, looks cute and charming in many frames. As debutantes, they have done pretty decent work, and we should not ignore them.

Heropanti tries the same old formulae, but Tiger Shroff definitely adds some freshness to it.

Rating: 2.75 / 5 (Average +)

Kochadaiiyaan – The Legend

Cast: Rajinikanth (Kochadaiiyaan, Rana and Sena), R Sarathkumar (Sengodagan), Jacky Shroff (Raja Mahendra), Nassar (Rikudaman), Shobhana (Yahavi), Deepika Padukone (Princess Vadhana), Rukmini (Yamuna), Aadhi (Prince Veerabhadra Mahendra), Shanmugha Rajan (Devadhevan), Ramesh Khanna (Voice), Rob Oldfield (Voice)
Genre: Periodic Drama, Action, Adventure, History
Direction: Saundarya R. Ashwin
Production: Prashita Chaudhary, Sunil Lulla, Sunanda Murli Manohar
Written by: K. S. Ravikumar
Narrated by: Amitabh Bachchan (Hindi), A. R. Rahman (Tamil)
Cinematographer: Rajiv Menon
Editor: Anthony
Studio: Eros International, Media One Global Entertainment
Music: A. R. Rahman 
Release Date: 23rd May, 2014
Language: Hindi (Released in a few other languages as well)
Duration: 1 hours 50 minutes

Kochadaiiyaan is a periodic drama, India’s first 3D Motion Capture format i.e. photo-realistic 3D, an effort by debutant director Saundarya R. Ashwin (Rajinkanth’s daughter). Kochadaiiyaan, if split, becomes Ko + Chadiyaan (if we forget the extra alphabets added in the word), it means King +  Male with long matted hair (in Hindu Culture, Lord Shiva is sometimes known as Kochadiyan). This film is inspired by King Kochadiyan Ranadhiran of the Pandya Dynasty. Although in this movie, Kochadaiiyam (Rajinikanth) is the powerful commander-in-chief of the army of the Kingdom of Kottaipattinam ruled by King Rikudaman (Nassar). Animosity prevailed between Kottaipatanam and Kalingapuri since ages. This movie was much-awaited by the whole country, one because of the living legend Rajinikanth’s virtual presence (that too triple dose), and another due to Saundarya’s effort to initiate Motion Capture format in India. This initiative fetched her NDTV Indian of the year award for technical innovation in the film even before the film was released.

The movie begins with much familiar baritone voice of Amitabh Bachachan introducing the aftermath of a treachery of Kalingapuri. Boat of a small child (from Kottaipattinam) is capsized, who reached Kalingapiuri. He grows to be the most reliable, dependable and fearless warrior of Kalingapuri – Rana Ranvijay (Rajinikanth) and is being appointed as the commander-in-chief of the army of the Kingdom of Kalingapuri ruled by the King Mahendra Raj (Jacky Shroff). Rana Ranvijay’s entry is with a meaningful song “Aaya Khwab ka mausam, Laaya jeet ka mausam”. After a series of victories, Rana seeks permission from Mahendra Raj to attack Kottaipattinam. Prince of Kalingapuri and good friend of Rana, Prince Virbhadra (Aadhi) gets convinced with Rana’s idea to include Kottaipattinam’s enslaved soldiers in the army. Once, the border reached, Rana changed sides, hugged his childhood friend Prince Udaybhan (son of King Rikudaman) and asked the enslaved soldiers to come back to their country Kottaipattinam. Although King Rikudaman welcomes Rana and the soldiers, he could identify the younger version of Kochadaiiyaan. Rikudaman’s bewildered and insecure face reveals that there is some mystery behind his fear.

Rana gets to meet his childhood sweetheart Princess Vadhana (Deepika Padukone). Rana learns about the death of his mother Yahavi (Shobhana), missing brother and grown-up beautiful sister Yamuna (Rukmini) & Prince Udaybhan’s mutual love. Rana is able to get his sister married off to the Prince with the King’s blessings in spite of class and caste differences.

What follows afterward is a series of incidents. What happens to Yamuna and Prince Udaybhan after their marriage? Are they being accepted as part of the dynasty? King Rikudaman’s life is under threat. Who is the threat to his life? Was somebody trying to take revenge? What was the reason for the revenge? Was Rana’s motive good? What does the princess Vadhana understand about Rana ? Who succeeds? Does Kalingapuri King Mahendra Raj and Aadhi forgive Rana? How was the father Kochaadaiiyaan – as brave as Rana or he was a traitor? How did he die? What bothered King Rikudaman whenever he saw Rana? Did Rana and Vaadhna’s relationsip culminate in marriage? How does the revenge saga between Kottaipattinam and Kalingapuri take shape? Who wins? Does the missing brother of Rana ever come into the picture?

Although predicatable, the movie has a story line, but the much-awaited animation affects fails to create much impact. With the motion picture format, the characters should have looked more real. Throughout the movie, the ‘Real’ Rajinikanth, Jacky Shroff, Nassar, Shobana, Deepika Padukone was missed. It would have been great to see the chemistry between Father Rajinikanth and wife Shobhana and son Rajinikanth and lover Deepika Padukone. The chemistry between them failed to generate any emotional connect since they looked merely ‘animated’. But yes, the chariots, elephants looked more real.        

There are too many songs in the movie. Two songs are meaningful, but rest of the songs fail to create much impact. The highlight of the movie is the father Rajinikanth’s (A Shiva Devotee) Tandav dance. Rajinikanth fans won’t be disappointed since there is enough of recreation of Rajinikanth’s actions.

The movie might have looked magnificent in ‘real’ live action format. Still, kudos to Saundarya and the team of Kochadaiiyaan for keeping this one step towards alternative mode of filmmaking. I wish, what Amitabh Bachchan said could have been true i.e. In History of Hindi cinema, it would be written, ‘Before Kochadaiiyaan’ and ‘After Kochadaiiyaan’.

Kochadaiiyaan, meant exclusively for Rajini fans, fails to impress as an animated movie.

Rating: 2.75 / 5 (Average +)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How old are you

Cast: Manju Warrier (Nirupama Rajeev), Kunchako Boban (Rajeev Narayanan), Amritha Anil (Lakshmi Rajeev), Siddhartha Basu, Lalu Alex, Kanika, Vanitha Krishnachandran, Vinay Fort, Sreerag Nambiar, Jayaraj Warrier, Muthumani, Sethulakshmi
Genre: Family Drama
Direction: Rosshan Andrews
Production: Listin Stephen
Written by: Bobby Sanjay
Editor: Mahesh Narayanan
Studio: Magic Frames
Distribution: Central Pictures
Music: Gopi Sunder
Release Date: 16th May, 2014
Language: Malayalam
Duration: 2 hours 21 minutes

How old are you, Manju Warrier’s much awaited come-back Malayalam film, and I must say, what a re-entry by Manju. Fabulous concept with a fabulous actress in it. It is the story of many females, who forgot to dream or rather dreamt only for husbands or children. For females, marriages mean the expiry of their dreams. ‘Happily married’ often means the fairer sex compromising for the togetherness of the family, taking care of the house efficiently and keeping her own dreams aside. But, should not it be like this that ‘Happily married’ means both husband and wife are taking care of each other literally and figuratively. Does a wife’s ‘taking care’ of everything wins her accolades from husband or children, quiet often not. Rather husbands start finding their wives boring since wives’ conversation may not be intellectually stimulating for the husbands which revolves in and around family, kitchen, groceries’ price etc. ‘How old are you’ certainly inspires one not only to dream but also to achieve them successfully.

Nirupama Rajeev (Manju Warrier), a UD clerk in the Revenue Department, is being rejected for a job interview (to fetch a job at Ireland) just because she crossed the maximum age criteria 35. Husband Rajeev Narayanan (Kunchako Boban) an RJ by profession, is planning to move to Ireland. Daughter Lakshmi Rajeev (Amritha Anil) too is excited to pursue her studies there. Both Rajeev and Lakshmi are disappointed (and a bit angry as well) due to Nirupama’s failure. At office, Nirupama is shown to be a complacent lady, not very concerned about the job, discreetly enjoying weekly magazines in office and a bit of high-headedness in front of her colleagues as well. At home, her different side is shown who shares a wonderful relationship with in-laws, loves interacting with husband and daughter. Her selfless approach and ‘content with self’ attitude gives certain lovely moments in the film.

Her face expresses various emotions with utmost perfection. For a lady, whose world revolved around her family, things take a different turn, when she is invited by the President of India (Siddhartha Basu) over breakfast. President was keen to meet mother of Lakshmi after Lakshmi impressing him with her question during his school interaction. It is hilarious to see Nirupama boasting about it to her colleagues and enjoying the attention from even the strangers.  

What happens after Nirupama meets the President of India? What happens to Rajeev’s decision to move to Ireland? Does he manage to get family visa? Does Manju continue to be a woman who forgot to see dreams for herself? Does she go through some low points in her life? Is Nirupama able to transform herself? How does she re-discover herself ? Does she become a reason for the success of her family?    

The first half is not very promising. Director has tried to build up the story in the first half. One keeps wondering what Nirupama is upto who has shades of maturity as well as immaturity in her. A feel-good factor is generated when we get to see her unconditional love and support towards her family. And one is also able to relate with the male chauvinistic attitude. We also get to experience the new generation’s stubbornness.

But the second half takes up the story to new dimension, where Nirupama is shown to make lowest point in life as the starting point. Every individual (whether a male or a female) has the right to dream. We shall not allow anyone to decide the expiry date of our dreams.

A great movie, probably with shades of Manju Warrier’s life in it, inspires all of us to pursue our dreams. Although all the cast have given good performances, this movie belongs absolutely to Manju Warrier.  

How Old Are You, a must-watch movie, inspires us to make ‘our dream as our signature’ and to make ‘the lowest point of our lives as the starting point for a new chapter of our lives’.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Good +)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Cast: Sasho Satish Saarthy (Manjunath Shanmugham) Yashpal Sharma (Golu Goyal), Anjori Singh (Sujata), Faisal Rashid (Gautam, Manjunath’s friend), Karan Ashar (Undy, College friend), Asif Basra (Devendra), Seema Biswas (Manjunath’s mother), Kishore Kadam (Manjunath’s father), Divya Dutta (Anjali), Rajesh Khattar (Manjunath’s Boss), Anand Nandakumar (Manjunath’s brother), Om Prakash (Lallan), Girish Sahdev (Jai), Shishir Sharma (Golu’s father)
Genre: Biopic, Drama
Direction: Sandeep A Varma
Production: Viocom 18 Pictures
Studio: Viocom 18 Pictures,
Story: Based on the true story of Manjunath Shanmughan
Editor: Sandeep Francis
Release Date: 9th May, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 07 minutes

Manjunath, a biopic by the debutant director Sandeep A Varma (advertising film-maker), is an effort to bring into light the true life story of Manjunath Shanmugham. Nation was shocked at the gruesome murder news of a 27-year old Indian Oil employee Manjunath Shanmugham (an IIM-Lucknow graduate) on 19th November, 2005. He was shot dead by a Petrol Pump owner Pawan Kumar Mittal and his associates in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, when Manjunath tried to fight the corruption and expose the petrol pump owner’s efforts to sell adulterated fuel. Manjunath had even got his petrol pump sealed once. Although the main accused Pawan Kumar Mittal was sentenced to death by the Sessions court, it was later commuted to life imprisonment by Allahabad High Court. The Court acquitted two co-accused, Harish Misra and Sanjay Awasthi, while maintained the life imprisonment of five others in the case.

My effort is not to review this movie, since it is really challenging to review such movies, because, this is about somebody’s life. The person has gone through lot of pain, anguish, fear, threat, helplessness. The very truth of the incident, the loss to his family and other near and dear ones definitely touches our hearts, moves us. It is so sad to see that one is taught ‘Ethics’, ‘Moral Science’ since childhood, but when it comes to infuse ethos into the profession, or practice the ‘ethics’ which one has learnt, he or she has to bear the brunt.

The movie is being narrated by Manjunath himself, effortlessly portrayed by Sasho Satish Saarthy. A very happy-go-lucky Manjunath, fondly known as ‘Macha’, is being shown in IIM-Lucknow campus sharing wonderful equation with friends Gautam (Faisal Rashid), Sujata (Anjori Singh), Undy (Karan Ashar) etc. Very light-hearted moments. Manjunath and Gautam are at the top of the world on clearing the campus interview of Bharat Oil. Manjunath as a marketing manager learns the fuel adulteration in Golu Goyal’s petrol pump (excellently portrayed by Yashpal Sharma). Golu tries to bribe Manjunath, and on failing, threatens Manjunath. Manjunath who used to be once a happy-go-lucky person, turns out to be paranoid. His friends mistook him to be suffering from schizophrenia. He takes a short break from job and goes to his village, where some lovely moments projecting the bond amongst the family members – mother (Seema Biswas, a great performance from her), father (Kishore Kadam), and siblings are shown. He decides to go back for his job. Although parents want him to take up some other job at Bangalore, but it is heart-rendering scene that when he made up his mind, his mother accompanied him and father gifted him a Bhagwat Gita.

Manjunath, on learning that Golu Goyal has not mended his ways, tries to warn him and that leads to a series of threats to his life. Manjunath tries to connect with his friends and Boss (Rajesh Khattar) and informs them about the oil mafia, but his efforts go in vain. He understood that the network is spread much beyond his imagination. He tries to understand the logic that why diesel is adulterated with kerosene and how much profit the petrol pump earns. Though Manjunath had a choice to ignore the adulteration, but he could not act against his conscience. We might say that he should have taken his organization or colleagues into confidence, but who knows, probably he tried to get the buy-ins for his fight, but could not manage to get.

What happens later is really very tragic. Manjunath is being trapped by Golu Goyal and shot dead. The movie does not stop there. It shows the IIM and IIT students protesting to get justice for Manjunath, charge-sheet filing by Anjali and Jai (Divya Dutta and Girsih Sahdev, an IIM-Lucknow Alumni), handing over the compensation to Manjunath’s family, a condolence meeting held at IIM-Lucknow campus, the accused being convicted etc.

Manjunath, a must-watch movie, tells the story of an unsung hero who listened to his conscience.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Good +)


Cast: Vinod Khanna (Saryu Bhan Singh aka Maalik), Suniel Shetty (Nisheeth Kumar), Vippino (Karua), Rupali Krishnarao (Rupmati), Purva Parag (Nisheeth’s wife), Deepraj Rana, Brij Gopal (Sadho), Kannan Arunachalam, Himayat Ali, Chitragupta, Biswanath Basu, Ranjit Master Manjeet Singh
Genre: Action
Direction: Ashu Trikha
Production: Ashu Trikha
Banner: AMA Entertainment
Story / Writer: Vishal Vijay Kumar, Sanjay Masoom
Cinematographer: Karan B Rawat
Editor: Umashankar Mishra
Music: Sushant-Shankar and Sunil Singh
Lyricist: Surendra Mishra, Dr. Devendra Kafir 
Release Date: 9th May, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 27 minutes

Koyelaanchal, a film by Ashu Trikha, focuses on one of the oldest mafia prevailing in our country i.e. coal mafia. The movie projects the usual plot of the good vs. evil, the challenges faced by officers who try to question the system laid down by the mafia. Whoever tries to even think against the mafia are wiped out very brutally and conveniently. Movie has moments of spine chilling violence by the mafia, Maoists movements as well. Ashu Trikha tries to touch upon ‘Ecological Disaster’ as well.

Saryu Bhan Singh (Vinod Khanna) is the undisputed Maalik in Rajapur in Koyelaanchal since last 40 years. In spite of the government understanding the irregularities associated with country’s one of the most important and useful resource coal’s illegal trade, nothing is being done in order to set the things right. Atrocities continue.

The beginning scene itself is very disturbing: Children are playing football, they happen to witness the manager of Saryu Bhan Singh – Babu Lal Yadav, being attacked and killed by Bhushan (a traitor from Saryu’s group) along with Maoists. After the attackers leave, a child goes and picks up the blood-stained football undeterred by the happening (without even bothering about the dead body), and washes the football with water. This scene reflects that how common killings are in Rajapur. 

Raniganj, the neighbouring village of Rajapur, is home to Karua (Vipinno), the most loyal, strong and tough henchman of Saryu Bhan.  He is a terror for Saryu’s ‘enemies’. In Saryu’s enemies’ words, Karua is Saryu’s Khunkar Kutta (brutal dog). Karua is a man of less words, only his ‘actions’ speak. For Karua, his Lord is Saryu Bhan. There is a scene, where Karua washes the feet of Saryu Bhan and drinks that water, which showed the unquestioned loyalty of Karua towards his Maalik / Godfather.

Karua is given much of screen time, where he with the blessings of Saryu Bhan, murders every single person who rose voice against Saryu Bhan viz. Govardhan Das Vidrohi (an activist and maseeha for Koyelaanchal), Debashish Ghosh (Advocate, Nasru (in jail), Bhushan etc.

Saryu Bhan is projected as a spiritual person who does not miss his single aradhanna and on the other side, his people are murdering his opponents.
A new collector Nisheeth Kumar (Suniel Shetty) takes the charge and that is when the challenges for Saryu Bhan Singh begins. Nisheeth studies the irregularities in the coal-trading and when he tries to highlight those issues, as expected, he and his family become the target of Saryu. There are officers like Kannan Ayyar (Central Bureau Investigation officer) and a few others joining Nisheeth in his efforts to end Saryu Bhan Singh’s monopoly in the region. Saryu gives orders to Karua to threaten Nisheeth and family, but things go haywire since Nisheeth’s child is left in his vehicle when Karua runs away with Nisheeth’s vehicle.

How Nisheeth reacts? How Saryu Bhan responds to the various unexpected events happening around him? Does the undisputed leader of Koyelaanchal ever get arrested (who was never arrested during the last 40 years of his reign)? How do other officers support Nisheeth in getting his child back from Karua? Does Karua end up hurting the child or the child’s presence brings some transformation in Karua ? Why did the script include so many times F**** words, was it required at all?

The dialogue by Nisheet’s wife on being asked whether she is afraid of the proceedings at Koyelaanchal – Aurat jab labour room ka khauf and dard sah kar jinda vapas aati hai, tab ye baat samajh leti hai ki jindagi me nayi umeed chahiye to thodi takleef uthani to padegi (When a lady survives the fear and pain of the labour room, she understands that if one wants new hopes in life then he or she has to bear a few sufferings as well) is good, but is it practical?

What was the intention of the director Ashu Trikka behind making this movie, was it to highlight one of the oldest mafia of our country i.e. coal mafia, or to focus upon Maoists movements with Deshi Bombs and Katta, or upon the social activists who are trying to bring some reforms or the helplessness of the government or bureaucracy in not being able to fight the mightier illegal traders.  

Koyelaanchal tries to incorporate typical Bollywood masala, but fails to create an impact.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 (Average +)

Monday, May 12, 2014


Cast: Rahul Bagga (Raja Ram), Kapil Dubey, Tara Alisha Berry, Vinod Nahardih, Istiyak Khan, Akash Dhaiya
Genre: Drama, Fictional Biography  
Direction: Akhilesh jaiswal
Production: Sanjeev Singh Pal, Ajay Rai
Written by: Akhilesh Jaiswal, Gunjan Saxena
Cinematographer: Gavemic Ary
Editor: Apurva Motiwale
Studio: Bohra Bros Produtions, Jar Pictures
Release Date: 9th May, 2014 (Mumbai Film Festival – October 2013)
Language: Hindi
Duration: 1 hour 39 minutes

Mastram is a person’s story who fancies himself as a great writer and who desperately wants to become a famous writer but ends up writing titillating stories with a pseudonym Mastram. His stories find way to the wayside book vendors where his books are bought discreetly by people spanning all age groups. Mastram is humourous but bundled with the apathy of a writer that makes us laugh but also urges us to empathize the dreams of Rajaram (Rahul Bagga). The film successfully portrays the so-called conservative societies which has a taboo towards the word ‘sex’, but actually relish sleaze. This film also funnily portrays the visionary in Mastram who proclaims that one day this will be common. This is inspired by the story of an anonymous author of popular pulp fiction and sex stories in Hindi (known as Mastram), whose books were sold at railway station stalls and small roadside and pavement shops in North India during 1980-90s. So, it is a kind of fictional semi-autobiography.

The movie begins with a scene in a hostel room where a few boys are reading a porn book. Then the frame changes to the year 1989 (somewhere in Himachal Pradesh), where a groom Rajaram Vaishnava aka Hans is going along with his uncle in Baraat. He reluctantly expresses to his uncle that he is not keen to get married since he wants to pursue his M. Phil in Hindi Literature from JNU, Delhi. Uncle tries to convince him saying that his fiancée Renu (Tara Alisha Berry) is beautiful, she would take care of him, also cook great food viz. mutton for him. Ultimately Rajaram gets married to Renu. Though initially Rajaram is hesitant to even look at Renu, but slowly they develop their bond. Renu seems to be a simple lady and ‘sorted-out’ in life. She encourages Rajaram to pursue his dream of being a writer. On the spur of a moment, Rajaram leaves his job as a clerk in a bank and starts looking out for publishing agencies to get his novel published. Ultimately he reaches Shivshankar Publications, but his work is shunned by them and the reason given for rejection was that his work is missing ‘masala’.

Rajaram tries to decode the word ‘masala’ from his friend Mahesh, and other acquaintances that what this ‘masala’ is all about and when he understands, there starts his journey as a writer with pseudonym Mastram. He starts writing erotic pornographic stories taking cues from his surroundings viz. Yauvan ki pahli Baarish. Mastram books sell like hot cakes in the market.

Rajaram sees success as Mastram but he is unable to even share his published books with wife or friends due to the ‘taboo’ topic he is handling and fearing society’s condemnation which always wants others to be ‘virtuous’.

He could convince his publisher to publish one of his ‘good’ work – Man ki Vilochana which he thought he could share with his people.

Does Man ki Vilochana turn out to be a best seller? Does Mastram continue writing porn-stories ? What happens when his wife and other friends / acquaintances understand that Rajaram and Mastram are one person ?

Director Akhilesh Jaiswal deserves a great applause for projecting this unconventional story of Mastram with much authenticity. Rahul Bagga shines as Rajaram aka Mastram. His various facial expressions of shyness, passion, having a naughty smile on his face (on understanding that his work is read by people), vulnerability etc. are all done with utmost perfection. Tara Alisha as Renu is also very good, she completely justifies her character. All supporting cast have also done great work.

Mastram stands true for Indian Psyche which is being captured beautifully without being analytical, preachy, biased, right/wrong or dichotomous. 

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hawaa Hawaai

Cast: Partho Gupte (Arjun Harishchandra Wagmare aka Raju), Saqib Saleem (Lucky sir aka Aniket Bharhava), Makrand Deshpande (Harishchandra Wagmare), Neha Joshi (Arjun’s mother), Anuj Sachdeva (Anirudh Bhargava), Ashfaque Bismillah Khan (Gochi), Maaman Memon (Abdul), Thirupathi N Kushnapelli (Murugan), Salman Chote Khan (Bhura), Pragya Yadav, Devraya Gole, Rekha Kamat, Sanjay Dadich, Hardik Raheja, Srishti Sharma, Manav Hirey, Zufin, Shardha Shripad Nabar, Saba Qureshi, Aaliya Qureshi, Solya Qureshi, Suman Arjun Mahaskar, Mahesh Kumar
Genre: Sports
Direction: Amole Gupte
Production: Amole Gupte
Written by: Amole Gupte
Editor: Deepa Bhatia
Studio: Amole Gupte Cinema
Distribution: Fox Star Studios
Release Date: 9th May, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours
Hawaa Hawaai celebrates the triumph of an ordinary Dharavi boy who dared to dream, pursued his dream and became successful with his sheer determination, hard work, and persistence. Though the plot is absolutely predictable, what makes it a delight to watch is the simple yet sensitive and unexaggerated handling of the plot by Amole Gupte; group of ‘Pandavas’- five boys and their camaraderie; mentor-protégé  relationship; bonding between mother-son / two brothers etc. This movie has no dearth of optimism, positive energy, and undying achiever’s spirit.

Harishchandra Wagmare (Makrand Deshpande), a cotton farmer, gives a perfect start to the movie with lighting the diya and a great bhajan (explaining the Jeevan-saar i.e. meaning of life and challenges associated with life) along with his son Arjun Harishchandra Wagmare (Partho Gupte) on his side and a happy family in the background. These initial frames itself explained that the young protagonist Arjun’s life may not be easy.

Then the backdrop changes to Mumbai, where Arjun is trying to seek a job at a tea-stall. His mother (Neha Joshy) reluctantly allows him to work there. Destiny changed the course of his life that day, since in front of the tea stall, he got to see lot of children welcoming Lucky Sir aka Aniket Bharghava (Saqib Saleem, brother of actress Huma Qureshi), a skate coach. Aniket is in a wheel chair recovering from an accident. He is passionate about the sport and coaching lot of students and also preparing them for District Championship.   Arjun got fascinated with skating but found it a distant dream since skates were too costly to be afforded by him. When his group of other four friends (all children) – a mechanic Gochi (Ashfaque Bismillah Khan), Weaver  Abdul (Maaman Memon), Rag Picker Murugan (Thirupathi N Kushnapelli) and a Gajra (Mogra) seller Bhura (Salman Chote Khan) learn about Arjun’s dream, what they do next is actually to be seen. It is hilarious, when all five take leave for an hour from their respective employers to buy a skate with just Rs. 30/- since Gochi misunderstood 30K as just Rs. 30/-. Amole has spectacularly depicted the synergy of these boys where each one of them contributed to tailor made a skate- Hawaa Hawaai for Arjun (let me not reveal, how each one of them contributed).

But the path for Arjun was not easy. He turned out to be an Eklavya who learnt by watching Aniket’s coaching along with serving tea to the customers and practicing late night when everybody left. Still, Arjun was aware that he was far away from being a great skater.

How Arjun’s friends plan to get his talent showcased in front of the ‘Dronacharya’ – Aniket is another hilarious scene. How Aniket takes an extra mile to coach his new student ? How does Arjun manage with his full day (rather extended hours too) tea-stall job followed by skating practice?  Can Aniket groom Arjun to be a Champion? What happens to the District Championship? We know, Arjun will emerge as a winner at the end, but how his journey was toward the winning destination? Please watch the movie and enjoy the journey of Arjun.

What an effortless performance from Partho as Arjun! He seems to breath Arjun’s character, his pain, inner turmoil, passion to fulfill the dream… Rest of the cast Saqib as a skating coach, Neha as Arjun’s mother, Anuj as Aniket’s brother Anirudh, of-course Makrand Deshpande’s brief but lingering performance as Arjun’s father and all the kids are also very good.

Writer-Director Amole Gupte has effortlessly shown the suffering of the downtrodden and their struggles to live their lives in a very believable manner. The underlying pathos is shown in a subtle manner. He has touched upon the plight of the farmers. The heart-rending song ‘sapno ko ginte ginte’ captures varied glimpses of children engaged in different activities of life. On one side, a few children are going to school, having parental bliss, enjoying the home made food, and on another side, a few other children are trying to earn their living by rag-picking, selling mogras, weaving, working in the garage / tea-stall, their daily battle for survival etc. These contrasting lifestyle’s visuals are run side by side. The picturization of the song displays the divide between the privileged and the underprivileged / deprived lot of the children in the contemporary society. It is great to see how the kids find a way out even amidst darkness, dealing with the life’s struggles with a great sense of humour.

The moment where Aniket realizes that what he learnt from the positive spirits of these Pandavas has changed his life forever is very touching.

Dialogues by Gochi: “Humne nahi chuna ye jindagi, jahan laakar patka vahin se chal pade saab”, “agar school gaye to kya kitaab khayenge saab” moved me to tears. 

Amole has definitely been able to raise a few questions that, aren’t we as a society responsible to ensure the following :
  • Make basic education every child’s right
  • Wiping out child labour from the society
  • Identifying and nurturing the talents of every children

Hawaa Hawaai, a great delight to watch, would definitely reignite the passion in us to pursue our dreams.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Very Good)