So I recently watched: Mukkabaaz and Hidden Figures

If someone asks, although no one would ask, that why am I writing reviews of these 2 movies together, then the answer would be: I am doing so because:

  1. I watched them back to back.
  2. Both tell exactly the same story of underdogs defeating the system and excelling. Although, both movies are kind of filmy. I will explain this below.

Since the movies were both released in 2017 and a lot of time has passed since l will try to summarize their stories below.

In Mukkabaaz, a bright talent, Shravan Singh played by Vineet Kumar Singh, in boxing is at the center stage. He is fighting the system, the federation, the society, his own family and a ‘red-eyed’ District Federation Chief Bhagwan Das Mishra Jimmy Shergill. Shravan messes with the boss of the federation that leads to an all-out war of egos that follows Shravan with his slow but steady rise in the boxing career. Although, it still is a love story at its heart amidst a political-social-sports drama.

In Hidden Figures, the story revolves around 3 genius ladies working at NASA in the early 1960s. Although the movie is based on real people, they fictionalize their stories to an extent to make it more feel-good underdogs story. The underdogs here are brilliant minded American African women who are trying to break many society and stereotypical shackles and helping NASA put men into space before the Soviets do it.

Basically, both the movies feature underdogs who overcome the environment around them and succeed. The hardships they face are pretty realistic like getting into caste debate overlooking the talent when it comes to Mukkabaaz or segregation from coffee mugs to toilets for African American and to top that women African Americans. Despite all the bad happening around the lives of the protagonists, eventually, they succeed, sometimes by fate and sometimes by their sheer hard work and relentlessness in getting what they want.

Although I liked both of these movies, in the end, I was left slightly underwhelmed by their filmy treatment. I mean, they tend to end happily and some things feel contrived. For example, Jimmy Shergill’s character has got nothing else to do but just to satisfy his ego he keeps on pestering Shravan Singh. In Hidden Figures, there are times when some of the white men and women still appear the good guys / and girls just bound by the society. But they still make you entertained and ponder for a while about the times there were and the times there still are. Human society has always been champions of classifying people based on some criteria or the other, all the time. South Park once captured it brilliantly when they said when all religion systems are done and dusted in future, people will still be fighting over the names of their atheistic organizations.

Will there be a time when we will move beyond a person’s background, ethnicity, color, gender and just see everyone on their merit? Well, I am pretty sure it won’t happen in my lifetime. Till then you will have to keep punching the system until you can fly your rockets.

Featured Pic Credits:

  1. Photo by Ryan Tang on Unsplash
  2. Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash

So I recently watched: Tumhari Sulu, Lipstick Under My Burkha and Padmavat

Hello, it’s me!

The guy who promised to post on this blog daily and if not, at least regularly. But I have failed to deliver on my promises, like the Governments. Well, my life in the past few weeks has been really interesting which would actually make me in write so much more content than I would have done as usual. But mostly, it would be grim stuff. I would still write it, just to get it out of my system but not today. Today, I am going to post some movie reviews, which should have been posted 2 months ago. Nevertheless, assume that Women’s Day is around the corner and take the post below with a pinch of salt.

Women’s Day is around the corner. The day when skies will be pink again. The day when women can walk with pride, wearing their favorite sarees. The day when they will be given rose and chocolate, as a consolation to make them feel happy or as a guilt to just make them forget about rest of the days. The day when there will be talks, seminars, panel discussions, all chaired by men as to how can we improve lives of womenfolk. TL, DR; the day when women will be one more time fooled into being happy for a day.

I am pretty sure, I must have mentioned on this blog previously, that International Men’s Day and World Toilet Day occur on the same date. And when I tried to check this site, http://www.internationalmensday.com, I ended up on an error page. So, basically, there’s no International Men’s Day in the first place. Ironic, isn’t it.

Anyways my rant is futile. I saw 3 movies which are usually called as Women Oriented Movies. As if the movies in which an angry male beats everyone single-handedly is called a Man Oriented Movie.

So I watched Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu, ensemble cast Lipstick Under My Burkha and recently Karni Sena’s Padmavat.

All the above 3 are ordered in the manner I liked them. From most to least.

Tumhari Sulu

Tumhari Sulu Poster
Tumhari Sulu Poster

In a yet another display of pure acting and versatility, Vidya Balan hits it out of the ground. Tumhari Sulu is a very simple story of a housewife who is not very bright academically as her sisters but has a knack for doing silly mimicry and voice modulations just for keeping her family cheerful. She plays a generally happy person who believes in herself. Being at home all day, she listens to Radio every time and duly participates and even wins in the contests they offer. By chance, she then gets a chance to be an RJ for a night show which she accepts happily. Although, this decision has left her husband (who is struggling to keep his job intact due to his new boss) with mixed reactions and her family clearly irked. Think about it, who will ‘allow’ their house-wife wives to host a radio show at night? The movie keeps the tone realistic and shows how this unusual attempt of a woman to just have a job she could do leaves her with her family in shatters when their kid elopes and husband. Rest of the movie deals with the reality check that how difficult it becomes for a woman to keep a job she likes and can do but faces so many hurdles because what she does is ‘unusual’.

Overall, I liked this movie and I will give it a thumping thumbs up.

‘Ban Ja Tu Meri Rani’ by Guru Randhawa has become one of my favorite songs of time when everything is a remix.

Lipstick…

LUMB
LUMB

Although this movie is technically a well made dark comedy, it makes you feel slightly weird in your mouth when it ends, as if, you have applied bright red Lipstick on your lips and you are not able to handle it. Initially you flaunt it, later you cannot stop licking it, and eventually, you are not able to take it away from your tongue.

This is one of those movies in which there are 3-4 movies in itself. All of them deal with the pressure womenfolk deal with on an ongoing basis. Some of the pressure is pretty obvious like husband not allowing her wife to work and deliberately impregnating her regularly because… well because he can. Or pressure like not able to wear what one likes. But also the unspoken but very much there, the societal pressure of not being able to just be, for example, a woman in her 50s to not have a fantasy about a character she is reading in a pulp fiction book or in simpler words not able to love again.

All the cast do justice to their roles but stand out performances are clearly by Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkana Sharma Sen (excuse me if I forgot to add another surname).

This movie makes anyone (but mostly a man like me) feel helpless. I am sensitive to all of these issues but I cannot really change it. Maybe I can change it locally to people around me but it would take a mammoth effort to actually make it work. It would mean me sacrificing a lot of things which I take granted for. Time shall tell!

Padmavat

Karni Sena protesting against the release of Padmavati
Karni Sena protesting against the release of Padmavati

Well, the protests against this movie were more interesting than the movie itself. Me even saying that protests were totally uncalled for would be trying to douse a fire with kerosene. I have anyways said this.

Yes, valence electron Ranveer Singh did a fab job as Khilji but what was the intention of the movie, is totally beyond me. Maybe they should have shot a really good scene between him and his slave played by Jim Sarbh. Honestly, that would have made a much more interesting love story than the highly glamorized usual palatial location royal slow-motion romantic drama between the queen and the king who have laughable Rajasthani accents. This movie is totally avoidable and we should have listened to Karni Sena. They knew that it was a time waste and an assault on our sentiments! Having said that, I really liked the filmy climax. I mean I was actually moved by the fire in Deepika’s eyes because that was the only instance she got something to do in the movie.

To conclude, I would say that till we stop using the term “women-centric” or “women-oriented” movies, we would never be able to do justice to half of the world population. Having a female lead just to sing and dance and show sympathy to the Hero should have ended decades ago. Sadly it is still on. Despite having loads of common sense, there is still a women’s day. Maybe someday, if not today.

As Prabhu Deva rightly said,

“Bhalai kabhi aurton ki, kranti ke bina nahi hogi…”

So I recently watched: Black Panther

Wakanda Forever

Generally, I absolutely love the movies where Villains beats the hell out of the Hero. Villains which question the Hero to think a lot about hero’s own existence. Villains who are so good that they make Hero look like a lucky chump. In a nutshell, I personally like movies where the Villain is a character on which writers have paid a good amount of attention, almost as much as they have paid on the Hero.

So I recently watched: Black Panther. And I liked it!

It was surely worth the hype. As it has been said several times, the best part about all Marvel Heroes is their own imperfections. T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, the Superhero Black Panther is ideal in his own right but might not be the best fit in the evil world. How he deals with his fate and the world around him is the crux of the story.

Without going into any spoiler-y detail, I will list the parts I liked the movie:

  • Super Strong Villain

I had loved the scenes where Bane breaks Batman’s back. I had loved the scenes where Joker makes Batman feel helpless, several times, in several movies. You get it right? Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger here is a villain with a purpose, which you almost relate to pretty well. Although, the means he uses to achieve the purpose makes him the villain. But his performance and all his screen time made me want to see more of him.

  • Super Strong Female Characters

A movie where the Superhero, the Avenger is saved on multiple occasions by genuinely amazing female warriors is a feat in itself. Not only saved but also supported technologically by female scientists. Not only supported but encouraged from time to time by females. This made me wonder, why Black Panther is not a woman in first place. (We shall wait for Captain Marvel for this)

  • Politics

One important point about this movie is the politics in it. This politics about the treatment of Blacks at the hands of the Imperialistic powers has not only been relevant when the comics originated but even now, will make this movie even more memorable. One of the funniest scenes involves a comic treatment to one side-character-white-guy (good old Martin Freeman) had me in splits. Time and again, the words, the era, and the politics of hatred/superiority is mentioned which never seems over the top but very much relatable. This also makes the Villain Killmonger a grey area bad-guy instead of a genuinely evil person. Wakanda is something which could have been of any country which wouldn’t have been conquered and looted for centuries.

  • Music & Costumes & Backdrop

Africa’s best was showcased with proper detailing. I don’t have much to say about it apart from it being very impressive.

Some parts which could have been much better:

  • Forgettable Action Scenes

Technically, we all go to Superhero movies for seeing action. This had lots of action but none of the scenes stood out.

  • Less Screen Time for Killmonger

I seriously felt that there could have been more of Killmonger beating Black Panther for more number of instances.

To summarize, Black Panther movie was a movie which left me wanting for more. I might not be the biggest fan of the character himself, but I liked the movie and the background behind Wakanda as a whole. I hope we get to more of this in coming movies.

 

So I recently watched: Trapped

Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours had James Franco stuck in a ditch in the middle of nowhere. There was nobody in the vicinity and no means of communication whatsoever. That was actually based on a real story. I don’t want to spoil the movie ending for you in case you haven’t still watched it but it was a decent ‘one-time watch‘ for its entertainment and thrill value. A similar theme of human endurance, eagerness to live and never give up attitude was seen in The Martian. Although, there as well, the protagonist was so far and away from humanity that it was almost impossible to come out alive. All in all, it was a treat to read/watch, chuckle, hope for the hero’s struggle and feel inspired. In both of the above 2 movies/books, it could be said that the person who got stranded or stuck had no other option but to fight for their survival. Also, they had themselves knowingly placed their own life in known danger. As in, they were quite aware of the issues and perils, one could face when they go away into the unknown isolation.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s ‘Trapped’ starring Rajkumar Rao is different as well as same from both of them. Same but different, you understand? It also has one guy stuck somewhere plot but here, the protagonist gets locked alone in a newly constructed building’s 35th floor, a building right in the middle of one of the most densely populated places on Earth, Mumbai. He even has a Mobile Phone with a low battery at his disposal (our real-life problems), although the building has elongated power outages (again our real-life problems) that can go on for days, as we know, this being India. So, basically, this guy is just stuck in an apartment in a new high-rise building in an urban setting but cannot call for help, as he is, you know, too high altitude-wise.

The plot is straightforward, and many a time predictable. I didn’t particularly feel thrilled as much I should have been. I should have cared for the protagonist but there were certain judgments I feel that could have been made better. For instance, throwing away cardboard to no avail, phobia of the rat, etc. I could think of some more ways to call for help. Also, a glaring goof in the scene when he actually gets stuck. He puts the keys in his pocket and then the keys were not there, or something of that sort.

However, there are certain nuances which brought multiple smiles to my face. Certain names, some foreshadowing, and funny name references were quite nicely done. Above all, since this was mostly a one-character story, Rajkumar Rao shone like anything. He created an almost flawless depiction of a slightly hyper person (which he did in his initial few movies and can do this really well) who don’t know what to do in such drastic situations. Kudos to him. He felt most real as a person stuck in a dire situation with really bad luck.

‘Trapped’ showed that for getting trapped, one doesn’t need to travel far and wide. One can be stuck in one’s apartment, into one’s life, into one’s work, and into one’s mind.

By the way, I am now 1 year into this apartment where I am staying right now. And I’ve already been and seen people trapped in it because of faulty locks. Since then I have learned 2 lessons:

  1. Remove faulty locks at once.
  2. Always take your mobile with reasonable battery left in the bathroom. For safety, of course.

I recommend watching any of the 3 movies mentioned in this post: 127 Hours, The Martian, and Trapped as all three have a one-man podcast kind of scenes. All three have a man trying desperate measures, risking the life, just to get out of these precarious situations. But, while 127 and Martian are eventually really inspiring movies, Trapped is a reality check movie.

So, next time you leave your house, keep your keys safe. Not too safe as well.

So I recently watched: Arjun Reddy

A Question first

How do you consider whether a movie is good or not? If a movie is really well made and makes sense technically most of the times but you don’t agree with the actions of the characters or feel that the story missed on some aspects, would you still like the movie? Or say, you loved the story, but the treatment could have been improved. The production quality, technicalities, VFX could be better? What’s your take on that?

Back to the Review

*This review has SPOILERS*

I recently watched the Telugu movie ‘Arjun Reddy’, which was claimed to be a mature and path-breaking of sorts. For those who haven’t, it is available on Amazon Prime with subtitles in English. This movie is from a debutant director Sandeep Reddy Vanga and stars Vijay Deverakonda as Arjun Reddy Deshmukh and Shalini Pandey as Preethi Shetty in lead roles.

I was particularly intrigued by some discussion on Twitter about some folks not liking some sexist aspects of the movie. Usually, such discussions on Twitter bear no fruit but since the movie was available and the trailer made sense and had a good background song, I just watched it anyway.

This movie can be seen as a more realistic take on India’s ever favorite story of the loser, Devdas. The guy likes a girl but she gets married to someone else. The guy is not able to cope up and falls prey to alcohol and in this case, drugs abuse. The guy, however, is quite a prodigy in the medical field. He is the top student, amazing sportsman and good-looking, etc. But also suffers majorly from Anger Management issues.

Now, we have seen many Devdas movies and I am not at all fond of such genre. But this movie has a basis in reality so this made it an interesting watch. The way Arjun Reddy woos a fresher girl (Shalini) can be easily termed as patriarchial and borderline-abusive but then that is in the context of the movie and passable to an extent. But then, again and again, Arjun imposes himself on Shalini and she gives in every time which made me cringe. Eventually, this movie proves yet again the Indian Movie Theory of Wooing a Girl that, if you persist and stalk and threaten and don’t give up on a girl, she will eventually give up and be yours forever. But I will shut myself up and give credit to this movie as all was shown in the context of the story. Some people are like that in reality too so I understood the intent. The acting of the leads, as well as supporting characters, was really good. Overall, the movie continues to tell the story of this guy who has not been able to move on with life. He starts taking drugs. He leaves his home. He starts womanizing but in a weird way in which he just sobs/drinks in front of them and doesn’t care about doing anything positive about his life. He totally doesn’t believe in any usual-society rules about lovers getting separated due to caste and regional issues.

I would even appreciate the portrayal of this realistic Devdas by Vijay. He does everything which made me think of slapping him with a bat and bringing him back to normalcy. So, I guess he did justice to his role.

Now the major issue part. Devdas movies might be fake, grand and everything dramatic but they do one thing right. In the end, the Devdas character drinks so much that he loses his health, mental state and eventually dies on the road. He is never able to move on and ends up only in shambles and disaster. SPOILER ALERT but this movie has a happy ending. Not only this abusive, angry, junkie, loser, etc finds the girl back, she comes back to her as if their love was 100% Dettol Pure types kosher. This means that whatever happens, if you still don’t move on from your lover, even if you spend months and years away from them, the lover herself has not even tried to contact you at all, eventually, in the end, all will be well and you will get what you always wanted. Even if that love was partly just lust.

Seriously?

I will give all marks for the production value, non-linear storytelling, technical details, core in realism, really good acting, decent background score, but if this movie ends up as a happy ending movie, it will only make me delete half of the marks I gave earlier.

 

So I recently watched: Justice League

Has it ever happened to you when you took a turn anticipating less traffic but ended up getting stuck with no turning back? Now, when you have taken the turn you decide to continue with it, albeit with a sore mood.

DC, with its movies, is at a similar crossroad/junction where it knows that it has taken a path which leads to nowhere so it thinks okay what the heck, let’s buy something on the way, enough with the somber mood, time to light up and make the trip slightly merrier.

After getting hugely disappointed with Batman v Superman (and later ending up finding some sense in BvS Ultimate Edition), getting immensely saddened by Suicide Squad, liking Wonder Woman a lot, I thought, alright we can surely give one last try to the Justice League. So, I recently watched it and following are my thoughts for your perusal.

Lee Bermejo Justice League Movie Poster Released for MondoCon
Lee Bermejo Justice League Movie Poster Released for MondoCon

Throughout the movie, except a handful of moments, I didn’t feel any excitement for any character. I liked Barry Allen of course but probably because of the Flash TV Show knowledge. Not sure from where Aquaman and Cyborg came into being and it was left for future movies to tell about their origins. This is a somewhat similar treatment to Hawkeye in Avengers where the character is just a character for whom we don’t need to care about much. Batman cracked some PJs and suddenly fell in some bro-love with Superman only when Superman had left after BvS. There was a scene where Wonder Woman looks at Batman’s bruises and then suddenly turns like a Hindi Movie Bhabhi and helps him get at ease with his muscle pull. Seriously? The antagonist was also as forgettable as the villains in Marvel movies. Do you remember any good one?

There are some positive points though. And that’s the lighter mood brought by Aquaman and the Flash. And the return of the MAIN DC CHARACTER also brings some sort of hope. I don’t want to comment on his lack of mustache though as enough has already been said. This light mood saved the movie from being a total bore and I hope future movies take some lessons out of it.

They also did a comic-animation-tie-in in the post-credit scene where the Flash and Superman compete in a race. That was a good note to end with. (I didn’t see the other post-credit scene during the movie but later on Youtube which turned out to be okayish)

Sometimes, if we do take the path which didn’t turn out to be as good as expected, it is better to enjoy it with much more confidence and moving on from the regret. Hopefully, DC would have realized now as to which path would be best to take from here.

So I recently watched: Spiderman : Homecoming and, Dunkirk

SPOILER ALERT: No spider bite this time!

Spiderman : Homecoming
Spiderman : Homecoming

In case you have watched Captain America : Civil War, the audience cheered most when  Spiderman appeared on the screen. Such has been the love for the character on big screen, thanks to the relatable Sam Reimi + Tobey Maguire take on Spiderman back in 2000s. I even watched the Amazing Spiderman when Andrew Garfield was there. And if I remember correctly, I didn’t hate it.

Now I recently watched Spiderman : Homecoming, the third reboot or Boo-t-hree, if you will. I found myself enjoying throughout the movie. Mostly because, the movie’s core is how eager a teenager is to become an adult and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I generally liked it.

The only problem is, just after a couple of weeks, I am not able to remember what all happened in the movie. Only if I really press hard, I realize that Michael Keaton was there too. Then there was that scene of boat splitting into 2. That’s all! That’s the case with most Marvel movies. But, I am not complaining more.  Because just the week after, I went to watch (I mean hear Dunkirk).


So, I recently watched Dunkirk and this post is mostly about Dunkirk only!

Dunkirk
Dunkirk

You have heard it correct, Dunkirk is mostly about Visuals and Sounds. Story is plain simple that Allied forces are forced to evacuate Dunkirk because ‘Enemy’ has surrounded the area from all sides. Nolan tries to be Nolan-y by making it more intense by showing same thing from 3 perspectives: Land, Water and Air and, 3 timelines 1 Week, 1 Day and, 1 Hour. But overall, it stays a spectacle, one should see only in IMAX. And thankfully, there is no 3D, otherwise half the time is spent in adjusting 3D Glasses over actual spectacles.

It was mostly about the horrors of the war and the soldier’s struggles once they are caught in between and they have nowhere to go. There are tales of the bravery of soldiers during war-time, but realistically, when you know that you can die any instant and you have no help, that only makes you a mute silent spectator, like the movie’s characters. You never get to know the names, their background but just their struggles to somehow reach home.

The sound design by Hans Zimmer is the real hero. They have used this Shepard Effect with full effect throughout the movie.

That makes it sound really haunting. And it really works. Some sounds are so intense that you actually feel as if your seats are shaking.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I feel I can watch it again in IMAX. But I won’t because tickets are costly. Sigh.