Friday, March 31, 2017

Naam Shabana (Movie Review)

Naam Shabana: Skip it Baby!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Shivam Nair's film Naam Shabana is nowhere near to what Neeraj Pandey did with 'A Wednesday', 'Baby' and 'Special 26'. Naam Shabana fails utterly to cash in the talents of powerhouse actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Danny Dengzopa (Feroze Khan), Anupam Kher (Shuklaji), Manav Vij and Zakir Hussain. The South Indian heartthrob Prithviraj Sukumaran (Tony) who has dished out fabulous roles earlier down south is wasted in this Bollywood outing as a villain. These actors are dwarfed to do nothing significant. Akshay Kumar (Ajay Singh Rajput) does nothing different here. He appears like a hero and vanishes too like a hero. Unfortunately, their presence doesn't elevate the film to an edge of the seat kind of a thriller.

Naam Shabana's titular role is played by Taapsee Pannu. She is good in action sequences but falls short in portraying a character who fights hard to hide her vulnerability and the required panache to be a secret agent.

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The film tells us the journey of a middle class Mumbai Muslim girl who is picked up by a secret agency for a special task to eliminate an international arms dealer. The agency claims to have some strong reasons and observations to recruit Shabana  as one among them and Shabana has her own personal interest to toe the line of the agency. Neeraj Pandey's good intentions to portray a strong woman who can easily bring road Romeos to their knees falls flat when she change her garb from a normal college girl to a special task agent. Shabana as an agent is seen protected, rescued and even spoon-fed by the male agents around her.    

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Naam Shabana even stumbles to give us a heartening love story and nor does it have some hummable romantic numbers. Like any other recent movies it also succumbs to the beaten path of playing out a new version of the old song 'Zubi Zubi'. Music composed by Rochak Kohli and Meet Bros are not mediocre.

In short, if you have any other priorities this week then skip this film 'baby' or watch it without any expectations you developed watching the previous film 'Baby'.  Two hours and twenty eight minutes is too long for this under cooked  action thriller.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2/5


Cast: Taapsee Pannu (Shabana Khan), Akshay Kumar (Ajay Singh Rajput), Prithviraj Sukumaran (Tony), Manoj Bajpayee (Ranvir Singh), Anupam Kher (Om Prakash Shukla), Danny Denzongpa (Feroz Ali Khan), Taher Shabbir Mithalwala

Genre: Action, Thriller

Director: Shivam Nair

Producers: Neeraj Pandey, Shital Bhatia

Written by: Neeraj Pandey

Screenplay: Neeraj Pandey

Music by: Rochak Kohli, Meet Bros

Cinematography: Sudheer Palsane

Edited by: Deepak Seju

Production: Friday FilmWorks, Cape of Good Films

Distributor: Eros International

Release Date: 31st March, 2017

Duration: 148 Minutes


Language: Hindi 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Life Connoisseur Quotes


Life Connoisseur Quotes


साजिश-ए-कुदरत (Poetry)

साजिश-ए-कुदरत का
 राज़दा हुए बैठा हूं I 
तुमसे मिलना यूं बार-बार
                                   इत्तिफाकन तो नहीं I                                                                                           ...Thomas Mathews

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Phillauri (Movie Review)

Phillauri: Only Love is Real!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Phillauri is a tale of a woman called Shashi (Anushka Sharma), from a nondescript village Phillaur not too far from Amritsar, who is stranded in time since 98 years waiting for her missing beloved Roop Lal (Diljit Dosanjh) to return to her. This story of Phillauri reminds me about many books Dr. Brian Weiss and his likes have written on souls and the power of love to transcend time and eras to come back again and again to be with their loved ones.

Image Courtesy: indianexpress.com
The film begins with the preparation of a Punjabi family to receive their young Canada returned rapper son Kannan Gill (Suraj Sharma) for his pre-nuptial ceremony with his childhood love Anu ( Mehreen Pirzada) in Amritsar. The young boy is for a shock when he is advised by a family pundit that he being a ‘Manglik’ should marry a tree to ward off bad luck before he actually marries his love. Compelled and cajoled by his lover and both the families the reluctant bridegroom-to-be yields to tie the knot with a tree. Back from this so-called ritual he finds himself haunted by a beautiful spirit who hovers around him puzzled not knowing herself what she has to do with a boy who is all set to marry Anu.

Image Courtesy: ibnlive.in
Debutant Director Anshai Lal’s film deals with a tricky plot which tells us two love stories parallel to each other one in 2017 and one that happened in 1919 in pre-independent era between a village girl unknown to the world about her talent to write soulful poems and a folksinger infamous for his casual affairs with many young girls who fall for his soulful voice. The film has its highs and lows. Kanan’s weed-puffing character initially attracts but slowly it loses its charm because he continues to stay bemused to what is happening in his life. A helpless, pleading and vulnerable bride-to-be Anu slowly fails to hold the empathy of the viewers for long. Anushka Sharma ad Diljit Dosanjh’s charm over shadows the characters of Kannan and Anu.

Having said this kudos to the filmmaker and his team for coming up with a different love story. The Biji (Grandmother) of the family and her love for old folk songs and the one Baisakhi which she never want to remember is touching. The end for sure shall move many.

Image Courtesy: indiatimes.in
Anushka as Shashi and Diljit Dosanjh as a folksinger are endearingly charming and impactful. Suraj Sharma with his debut in Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ and then in ‘Million Dollar Arm and Umrika is pretty good at trying his hand in comedy in Phillauri as a bemused would be husband. Mehreen Pirzada is beautiful and hope she finds more opportunity to excel as an actor. Manv Vij as Shashi’s doctor brother is outstanding. He lives the character on screen. The songs are soulful and shall stay with you for long.

Go and watch Phillauri to know that “Love is an inner flowering. One cannot find it outside. It is within. What you find out shall leave and what is inside shall stay with you forever because love is immortal”!

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25 /5


Cast: Anushka Sharma  (Shashi), Diljit Doasnjh (Roop Lal), Suraj Sharma (Kannan Gill), Mehreen Pirzada (Anu), Nidhi Bisht, Manav Vij

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Director: Anshai Lal

Producers: Anushka Sharma, Karnesh Sharma

Written by: Anvita Dutt

Screenplay: Anvita Dutt

Cinematography: Vishal Sinha

Music by: (Songs) Shashwat Sachdev, Jasleen Royal; (Background Score) Sameer Uddin

Production Company: Fox Star Studios, Clean Slate Films

Distributors: Fox Star Studios, Clean Slate Films

Date: 24th March, 2017

Duration: 137 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anarkali Of Aarah : Movie Review

'Anarkali of Aarah' Too Tells a ‘No’ is a ‘No’!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Mahatma Gandhi once said – “Of all the evils for which man  has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex”.

The film ‘Anarkali of Aarah’ portrays the life of a street singer and dancer in a small town called Aarah in Bihar. Anarkali (Swara Bhaskar) the main protagonist is part of a local orchestra group which performs in wedding and other local events where she is the lead performer who through her seductive moves, lewd lyrics and singing charms her audience. She, for the locals is not less than a celebrity. There are men of all ages who drool over her and cherish a dream to be with her.  Anarkali knows her stardom and is fun to see her enjoying her fame and the goodies showered on her by her admirers.  

Image Courtesy: primestroke.com
In one of her public performances a powerful admirer rub her up in the wrong way and when she objects, her life turns topsy-turvy. She being an erotic singer makes everyone feel that she is vulnerable and easily available. But for Anarkali a ‘No’ is a ‘No’. In one of the dialogues she warns her tormentor that whether he considers a woman as a Prostitute, or a bit less than a prostitute or even as his wife, never approach without her consent.  

Swara Bhaskar has given a commendable performance. Her body language, accent and her ability to live the character of a Bihari erotic singer and dancer is noteworthy. She received rave reviews for her performance in Nil Battey Sannata and her role in Anarkali of Aarah is a bit more tough and challenging which stands out.  Written and directed by Journalist turned filmmaker Avinash Das takes care of the nuances of storytelling very well by treading responsibly the thin line of not being sleazy and vulgar by portraying the life of a nautch girl.

Image Courtesy: bollywoodmaratha.com
Swara Bhaskar’s co-star Pankaj Tripathi is an awesome actor. He brings life be it the role of a railway ticketing clerk in the film ‘Masaan’ or the role of a school principal in ‘Nil Battey Sannata’. And now as Rangeela in ‘Anarkali of Aarah’, Pankaj Tripathi has repeatedly proven his acting prowess. Sanjay Mishra is another name in Bollywood who keep surprising the viewers by his amazing performances. Sanjay Mishra as a VC played the role to the hilt.

Music by Rohit Sharma stands apart. Rohit Sharma has been associated with films like ‘Ship of Theseus’ and ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam’. His music has started catching the fancy of the public. He adds soul to his music.

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‘Anarkali of Aarah’ is a fight against the misogynist beliefs and perceptions of our society.  Unequal power relations between men and women result in various forms of male dominance in the form of sexual assault and violence against women. But there are women like Anarkali who are made of a different steel who have the guts and determination to fight back for their self-esteem. Go and watch Anarkali fight her own battle valiantly in a nearby theatre and cheer her wholeheartedly.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25 /5


Cast: Swara Bhaskar (Anarkali), Pankaj tripathy (Rangeela), Sanjay Mishra (Vice Chancellor), Ishhtiaq Arif Khan

Genre: Drama

Director: Avinash Das

Producers: Priya Kapur, Sandip Kapur

Written by: Avinash Das

Music by: Rohit Sharma

Cinematography: Aravind Kannabiran

Edited by: Jabeen Merchant

Production Company: Promodome Motion Pictures

Distributor: PVR Pictures

Release Date: 24th March, 2017

Duration: 113 Minutes


Language: Hindi

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mantra : Movie Review

‘Mantra’ of Life!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Nicholas Kharkongor’s debut feature film ‘Mantra’ tells us that how you handle life in adversities decides whether you are ‘for’ life or ‘against’ life. The 1990’s saw the advent of globalization and liberalization. The Indian market saw hope as well as doom. The MNCs challenged the then home grown market leaders in every possible manner through their cutting edge technology, quality product and services clubbed with competitive pricing and innovative business strategies. King Chips is one such company that faces the music and witnesses pathetically it getting replaced on the stores shelves across the country by Kipper chips the new MNC product round the corner.

Image Courtesy: 1.    cloudfront.net
Kapil Kapoor aka KK the entrepreneur who owns King Chips understands the new market ‘Mantra’ but then fails miserably to keep the boat sailing. KK’s challenge in life is two pronged – One, a business that is dwindling away and two, a dysfunctional family. KK’s family comprises of Meenakshi, his barrister wife, Viraj his elder son who is a restaurateur who owns ‘Mantra’, Piya, his daughter who also dons the hat of a chef in her brother’s restaurant and who ferociously seeks her independence from the family now and then, and the last but not the least Vir, KK’s youngest son who is in his sweet sixteen and is in a virtual relationship with a married woman.

You don’t need much resources to battle the challenges life poses, except one – your family’s support and belief in you. KK understands this truth but it seems that it’s too late for him to cobble up the required support and trust. KK with his bunch of school and college buddies do have their own me time but the loner in KK seeks answers to many pertinent questions alone. He believes in the old adage strongly –“The family that eats together stays together”! Apart from being film critic, as a corporate trainer I conduct workshops on –“Silos to Synergy”. After watching Nicholas’s ‘Mantra’, I realized that the above mentioned topic is so apt for families too. KK’s family eats together but live in silos. The movie is an eye opener for many of us who are too busy without any business in life. Each character in Mantra is a classic example of many we find families today.

Image Courtesy: hindustantimes.com
This 90 minutes film Mantra though a bit slow paced is a onetime watch. It could have been better but cannot be ignored. It doesn’t end necessarily with a conclusion, may be the filmmaker want the viewers to come to their own conclusions and derive their takeaways from KK’s life. Rajat Kapoor as always infuse life into KK’s character and Kalki is a natural actor. Adil Hussain in his cameo stnds apart as a migrant from Jharkhand in Delhi. Shiv Pandit as Viraj and Lushin Dubey as Meenakshi has done a good job.

 Does KK manage to deal with the emergence of Kipper chips and give a tough competition? What does he do to keep his family by falling apart? What happens to the young lad Vir and his virtual relationship? Does Piya strike a deal for her freedom in her family! Can Viraj be of any help to his father’s sinking business? What happens to KK and Meenakshi’s married life? Will they drift apart? To find answers to these questions please visit your nearby theatre and find your own ‘Mantra’ for life.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3 /5


Cast:Rajat Kapoor (Kapil Kapoor), Shiv Pandit (Viraj), Kalki Koechlin (Piya), Lushin Dubey (Meenakshi), Rohan Joshi (Vir), Adil Hussain (Cameo), Yuri Suri (Mohan Kaul), Maya Krishna Rao (Shazia Siddiqui)

Genre: Family Drama

Director: Nicholas Kharkongor

Crowd funded

Creative Producer: Rajat Kapoor


Senior Executive Producer: Nikhil Chaudhury, Prashant Sehgal

Writer: Nicholas Kharkongor

Music by: Sagar Desai

Cinematography: Harmeet Basur

Presented By: Filmart Productions, north East Films, Shri Productions, Zenyth Media House

Release Date: 17th March, 2017

Duration: 90 Minutes


Language: Bilingual (Hindi & English)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya : Movie Review

Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya is ‘Aaila’ a Feminist!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark
Feminism marinated with the masala’s of Karan Johar’s, ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya’s leftover ingredients and Govinda’s ‘lost recipe’ found are served on screen. How many times you have seen an ambitious and rebellious small town girl running away on her wedding day? I know, many times but its ok because these Bollywood bigwigs feel that the audience has a short term memory loss like our own hero of ‘Gajini’. So if you can handle once more to sit through the ordeal of slapstick comedy which will take you through the Govinda, Sallu and Karisma types of performances then go ahead. Sahil Vaid as ‘Somdev’ the sidekick of Badri is unbearable. Thank God there was no ‘Jolly LLB 2’ type of a ‘Holi’ song which literally killed our penchant for ‘Holi’ songs.

Image Courtesy: realsneak.com
Varun Dhawan as Badrinath and Alia as Vaidehi are good but fails miserably to touch your heart’s strings by their performances. They act well but fails to live their character they play. The end result is forced comic situations, untimely song sequences and melodrama. To mask the weak storyline and screenplay the filmmaker use women empowerment, gender equality and anti-dowry stand as refuge and piggy ride the slogan making the round these days - ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’. Such topics which needs to be conveyed in a more sensible and responsible way has been trivialized by Writer and Director Shashank Khiatan.

Image Courtesy: realsneak.com
The story of Badrinath Ki Dulhanya hovers around two cities Jhansi and Kota and being a Dharma production film ‘Aadath se majboor’ the unit travels to Singapore too. Arey foreign location tho banta hai!!! It seems the dead resurrects - Laila Mai Laila in Raees, Haseeno Ka Deewana in Kaabil and now Tamma Tamma in BKD. All the characters are jut cutouts and nothing else. If you have no other option this ‘Holi’ season then go and watch BKD. God Bless and save Bollywood!!!  

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2 /5

Cast: Varun Dhawan (Badrinath Bansal), Alia Bhatt (Vaidehi Trivedi), Aakanksha Singh (Kiran), Gauhar Khan (Laxmi Shankar), Aparshakti Khurana (Bhushan), Shweta Basu Prasad (Urmila), Rituraj Singh (Badri’s Father), Sahil Vaid (Somdev)

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Producers: Hiroo Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta

Writer: Shashank Khaitan

Music by: Amaal Mallik, Tanishk Bagchi, Akhil Sachdeva, John Steward Eduri (Background Score)

Cinematography: Neha Parti Matiyani

Edited by: Manan Sagar

Production Company: Dharma Productions

Distributor: Fox Star Studios

Release Date: 10th March, 2017

Duration: 135 Minutes


Language: Hindi