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ASUR 2 – Gets caught up in its own absurdities and self indulgence to dish out a partly gripping, partly absurd and partly preposterous season. While season 1 smartly used the concept of Karma, Aatma, Moksh and Dharma to weave a gripping plot around them, season 2 attempts to use these concepts as an end means in itself which oscillate the series from the thrilling to the obnoxiously supernatural. 3/5

Hoping there isn’t a Season 3 now.

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Shaitaan – 2024
Watched it.. excellent first half where the story builds up well and exceptional performances by the cast with Madhavan and Janki Bodiwala standing out while Ajay & Jyotika are stoic. The introduction sequence, the build up & the sense of atmospheric anxiety can be felt for the protagonist & his family.

But just like Bahl’s previous Hit Super 30, Shaitaan too nosedives in the second half with mindless gore & violence occupying a majority of the screentime. The climax is unintentionally funny & tests your patience by then, especially since Maddy for all his efforts is still too pleasant to be passed off as a human sacrificing rakshas & his charming dialogue delivery which did wonders in setting up the first half ends up being the deal breaker in the final act.

Another one of those urban multiplex commercial films from the industry, can be watched once mainly for the first half & Madhavan’s show stealing act.

3/5
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A beautiful film to watch cinematographic-ally but an agonising, painstaking & quite a boring watch beyond a certain point with a predictable plot and cardboard characters. Perhaps soft sci-fi/fantasy isn’t exactly a favourite genre (unlike the superior big brother sci fi dealing in realism) but this might have worked better in a GOT styled TV show. Definitely more engaging than its snooze fest of a predecessor and those blue bodied alien films, but still a slog nevertheless.

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Article 370

-Good solid political procedural thriller that asks for the viewer’s attention & puts your knowledge of the constitution to test.

-Most performances are up to the mark. Arun Govil as Pm & Raj Zutshi as Abdullah stand out. Priyamani is solid, Yami Gautam is a bit eccentric & on character. Portrayal of the HM by Kiran Karmarkar is extremely cartoonish though.

-Cinematography, camerawork, Bgm all top notch. Dialogues are hard hitting without going ballistic.

-Film does suffer from the Oppenheimer curse wherein it tries to fit in way too much content within a short span of 2 Hrs 45 mins. Tests the viewers patience due to its length and reliance on drama/dialogue. Would have worked better as a 6-8 episode web series for the amount of content it fits in.

-3.5/5

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Watched Fighter. Good solid commercial film for the most part apart from an underwhelming climax which seemed more like a Kabir vs Khalid moment. The first half is a rousing glory with exceptionally well designed and shot aerial dogfights and cobra manoeuvres. The moments of team bonding and goofing are pleasant but however, not something of a cup of tea for single screen audiences.

Performances are par for the course, Hr dominates the screen as usual and Deepika plays her part well. Anil Kapoor reminds of his olden days while Karan Grover shines as Jai.
Biggest problem with the film is its slow paced second half, needless interpersonal relationship props, a moment of puerile humor involving Sharib Hashmi and the fact that while the action and cinematography is very niche and contemporary, a few of the dialogues and the climax fight gives a Gadar feel to the film. The final act ends up being a neither here nor there mismatch of Uri meets Border (pointless since the masses would anyways won’t be interested in the aerial combat action).
All in all a good solid film nevertheless that could easily have been an excellent film had the makers followed their conviction and not fallen for the mass appeasing trap, especially well designed for its Vfx, action & set pieces. 7/10

PS : If Hindi film makers and stars are so interested in catering to the masses and budgeting their films accordingly, they should stick to the War and Pathan template and leave the likes of Fighter to the Aditya Dhar’s and Vicky Kaushal’s of the world. Or else follow conviction and budget the film accordingly for urban multiplexes alone. No point trying the best of both worlds and end up with neither.

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Merry Christmas has good performances, excellent cinematography and spicy dialogues but a lethargic screenplay and an underwhelming climax are the major drawbacks. Gets confused between being a black comedy or a thriller and ends up being neither. Strictly a one time watch, preferably on Ott, 3/5

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Completed. Good, solid docu drama film the chronicles the life and times of Field Marshal Manekshaw in a hagiographical format. His equation with his IMA batchmates, his wife as well as ex PM Indira has been accurately & adequately portrayed without too much melodrama or shenanigan.
The film excels in its portrayal of the various regiments of the Indian Army as well as the mutually admirable equation the Field Marshal shared with his Jawans & officers.

The main complaints – Nothing about his childhood and university life. Its a bit problamatic to portray such a rich illustrious life in 2.5 hours but his early days, his equation with his parents & school life deserved to be touched upon.
Also, absolutely no real life footage of the Field Marshal through the film despite smart direction of apt usage of real life footage in portrayal of the ’71 war.

Worth Watching film nevertheless. Kudos to Kaushal and Meghna in equal measure.

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THE SPY on Netflix –

Perhaps a bit late in the day, but a spine chilling, nerve wracking spy drama that once again reinstates how well espionage thrillers can be if made with the right amount of realism and slow burn.

Brilliant performance by Sacha Baron Cohen, excellent departure from his funny man gigs. A perfect tribute to the “country before self”, “nation before family” stone cold approach of the Israelis that defines and makes them what they are in the post WW-2 world (something most Indian civilians are incapable of even in their dreams!).

Must Watch

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Watched Tiger 3 today morning. Like I said earlier, good script, needlessly extended screenplay that wasn’t crisp enough, excellent action sequences & stunts (esp by Katrina), substandard Visuals (continuing from where Pathaan left off), mediocre performances (Emraan did well but his make up and shallowly written character didn’t help, SRKs cameo being a complete waste of time on the same lines as Salman’s in Pathaan), dialogues that oscillate between the hilarious, sarcastic to cheesy.

Better than Tiger 1, at par with Pathaan (overall) but not a patch on Tiger 2 and War.

5/10

*Showing a Pakistan PM in good light isn’t gonna go down well with the audiences (rightfully so) but in the overall scheme of things I’d still take it since the real villain of the piece, The Pakistan Armed forces and the ISI have been appropriately demonized along with a “gentle” reference to the rogue policies of Turkey and China.

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AN ACTION HERO :

Super Fun “popcorn” entertainer with extreme meta references and black comedy that’ll make you rofl and facepalm at the same time. A film within a film with water tight screenplay and spicy dialogues, its relentless pace covers up for its predictable goof ups while the stunning camerawork and stylized action is a work of art.

Performances from Ayushmaan and the ever reliable Jaideep Alhawat are picture perfect for the job at hand and despite Ayushmaan’s lack of appeal in the action genre (one major reason why the film flopped) he’s delivered one of his career best post Andhadhun and Vicky Donor.

7/10 – Worth Watching for its fun tropes with a pun.

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****May contain spoilers***
Khufiya – Another mediocre average product by Vishal Bharadwaj. A script full of potential and thrill gets entangled in a messy web of obnoxious VB shenanigans (addicted semi naked housewife, a lesbian intelligence officer, a top of the bill double agent so dumb, he’d put havildars of Delhi Police to shame).

Performances by a talented cast are the only thing going for this film alongside some good cinematography and a handful of procedural scenes involving genuine espionage.

The usual irrelevant and predictable Bharadwaj anti nationalistic pandering about how nationality and borders are the root cause of all wars (one more toast for the commies after Jawan) that we’ve become used to since that awful propaganda piece of writing from a Kashmiri militant that we call “Haider” does not make matters better.

Strictly a one time watch if you have nothing better on your list.

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The Vaccine War :

A well intentioned film overall narrating the trials and tribulations of our scientists and their professional and personal struggles through the horrifying pandemic.

Obviously being a Vivek Ranjan film there are occasions where there’s subtlety of a sledgehammer in rightly calling out the crooked left wing media cabal and their NYC masters but I do wish he gets a bit smoother and refined about it going forward.

Its ultimately the scientific lab R&D and testing scenes (well shot and edited) where the heart and soul of the film lies and superlative performances from Nana Patekar and Pallavi Joshi with admirable support from Girija Oak, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Sapthami Gowda and Anupam Kher only rise the films standards.

All in all The Vaccine War might not be a great film but definitely a very important film and a befitting tribute to our scientists and virologists as well as a resounding slap to corrupt pharma cos like Pfizer and Moderna for their treacherous opportunistic policies. Just like the makers last, its a difficult film to watch and would have worked better as a docu-drama format or a 5 part web series but kudos to Vivek Ranjan and Pallavi Joshi for presenting us this essential film. 8/10

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***A Haunting In Venice**

More of a tribute than an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel. That seamlessly blends in elements of horror and fantasy. Despite the slow paced and partly lethargic screenplay, easily the best of Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot films and a far superior upgrade from the lackluster Orient Express and Death on the Nile. A good solid 7/10.

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Watching Jawan.. directionless vigilantism that leads to more chaos than order is always problamatic, be it Rang De Basanti or Gabbar or even Joker. Its different from unidirectional and personal vendetta vigilantism like Indian & A Wednesday. The good solid Vfx & popcorn moments aside Jawan is quite mindless fun only when you don’t try taking it too seriously. A concoction of too many characters & arcs, none of which have enough development. 2.5/5

Only someone who truly knows how to smoke a cigar would know the badassery of the interval sequence btw.. 😜
Jawan is basically a mass appealing Tamil film starring Srk & better production value. He might as well have chosen Ajith Kumar with ditto results

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Done watching OMG2. A decent entertainer dealing with an extremely important & sensitive topic in an extremely naive and preachy method, akin to part 1. And just like its prequel its unable to let go of an entirely bizarre climax involving abundant goofiness and suspension of disbelief. Akshay is just being Akshay as usual, unfortunately Pankaj and Yami are the same. Pawan Malhotra is the show stealer (in line with judges in Hindi courtroom dramas).

A onetime watch for its theme and crisp presentation for the first 3/4th of its duration. 3/5

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Oppenheimer

1. Nolan’s return to his roots. Slow burn screenplay that keeps you engrossed right from the first frame to the last despite its excruciating pace & length. Lethargic pacing might be a turn off unless you’re willing to invest yourself completely and are mentally prepared for an exhaustive & informative narrative.

2. Heavier reliance on drama, dialogue and a non linear narrative with varied colour scheme.
3. Sound design is top notch but unlike Nolan’s theme based narratives (since Inception) Oppenheimer has a background score that’s more inclusive as part of the story telling process than a statement in itself.
4. BRILLIANT dialogues, star of the show. Career best performances by Murphy & Downey Jr balancing their flawed characters with a toned down flair you seldom witness. Emily Blunt is par excellence in the climax scene.

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Mission Majnu – Vague, confused and quite tacky at times. A film handling complex Indo-Pak espionage relations with kid gloves. Quite watchable if you wish to watch a political/espionage thriller in a masala format with caricatured performances and childish dialogues.

Sid Malhotra is decent and charming as a confirmed Majnu, Rashmika does well, Parmeet Sethi is okay as Kao while Zakir Hussain is completely wasted as a good for nothing sarkari oaf. The best part about the film is its no holds bar in exposing the treacherous traitor Morarji Desai, India’s greatest disgrace as a PM and one whose policies are perhaps a poster for the likes of Kejriwal, Stalin & Mamata. The damage done by Indira’s self obsessive lapse in imposing the Emergency & the aftermath of the electoral defeat in 1977 were felt right until Siddharth’s last film based on the ’99 war hero Capt. Vikram Batra.

Rating : 3* ; okay as a one time watch but not a patch on the likes of Mukhbir and Raazi based on similar themes.

PS : Evergreen Byomkesh babu Rajit Kapur has another feather in his cap as Zulfikar Bhutto after playing Gandhi, Modi and Nehru. Some background.
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Barring the stunning visuals and cinematography, Avatar 2 is a long never ending snoozefest that seems more like a celebration of America’s despicable expansionist & invasive policies than about story telling and screenplay.

Since bombing continents and countries isn’t enough anymore, time for the White house’s Hollywood stooges to go about bombing & invading fellow planets under the garb of film making. As with almost every major studio now, spending big bucks on visuals with zilch story telling & recycling the same garbage in a franchise format is the only thing left of Hollywood now, in times when Indian & Asian cinema’s making rapid strides. No wonder even just about decent stuff like Parasite & RRRs leaving them in awe.
✯✯ /5

Favourite movies of 2022 :

Major : 9/10
Drishyam 2 : 8/10
Vikram Vedha : 8/10
777 Charlie : 7/10
The Kashmir Files : 7/10
Gangubai Kathiawadi : 7/10
Vikram Hitlist : 7/10
Jhund : 7/10
RRR : 7/10
KGF 2 : 7/10

Others : PS1, Bhediya, Runway 34, Karthikeya 2

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Avatar (2009) -A rewatch

Stunning visuals, exceptional cinematography and mesmerizing VFX in a wafer thin plot (that’s Cameroon’s speciality right from his Terminator & Titanic days) with a tinge of American propaganda about how they’re the only living land worthy of surviving this planet & beyond (when the truth is far from it!). Hijacking an alien planet and waging war against the unprepared is staple American diet, be it politics, diplomacy or entertainment.

Expect Avatar 2 to be no different apart from the fact that its 30 mins longer in length and might test your patience (if not give you a 3 dimensional migrain). ⭐⭐1/2

Ram Setu (2022) -OTT watch

A film with its heart in the right place and intending to celebrate Bharatvarsha’s timeless Dharmic legacy through the legend of Shri Ram and the Setu but completely messed up in terms of writing and visuals. The juvenile dialogues and rigid performances do not help. Watchable only for the content (if you must!). ⭐⭐1/2

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Watched Chup -Revenge of the artist. The Guardian’s review sums it up the best : “Chup successfully skewers not just the tense film-maker/critic relationship, but knows perfectly where to put its finger to best needle Film Twitter: it calls out hot-take merchants, overly positive and corrupt reviewers, and this exalted calling’s self-importance.”

Despite the slow burn screenplay and glaring loopholes, this is a watchable film specifically for Dulquer Salman’s stunningly menacing act and a surprisingly restraint Sunny Deol (shouts just once in the entire duration of the film!).

PS : Glimpses of the despicable Raja Sen in a film about critics being chopped and slaughtered was the most satisfying bit, a cameo from Saibal Chatterji and Anna Vetticad would have been the icing on the cake but anyhow.. 😛

3.5/5
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Done watching Drishyam 2. The same story as the original but definitely a tighter and more taut screenplay this time despite the implausible twists and convenient climax. Ajay Devgn sir is mesmerizing as Vijay Salgaonkar and perhaps the only actor in Hindi cinema who could match Mohanlal sir in this role.

Tabu invokes the viewers wrath convincingly while Akshay & Rajat Kapoor add balance to the opposites. The dialogues and background score is a winner. Even though this isn’t up to the standard of its prequel, its still a delightful thriller.
☆☆☆1/2

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Brahmastra :
Story -⭐⭐⭐⭐
Screenplay -⭐⭐
Performances -⭐⭐
Action/Visuals -⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dialogues -⭐⭐

Good concept jarred by some substandard dialogues that sound straight out of a dubbed Telugu film and very unconvincing leads whose ineffective chemistry fails the love story as well as completely sloppy body language and physicality by Ranbir whose a misfit for an action-superhero role. Thankfully the film’s saved by excellent visuals and whistle worthy heroic cameos from SRK, Nagarjuna and Bachchan sir. Mouni Roy as the vamp is far more effective in her mannerisms and body language than both Ranbir and Alia.
Rating -⭐⭐⭐ (one time watch)


Minnal murali -India’s best superhero film by a mile. An original screenplay about a superhero vs supervillain tale created via love, ambition and standard masala father-son template.

Although there is obvious Hollywood inspiration, the dialogues (English version), diction and cinematography give this movie a complete heartland experience. Ample humor coupled with good solid performances, a movie for all age groups and a universal audience. The excruciating 160 minute being the only drawback ✯✯✯✯

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Vikrant Rona :

Nothing much apart from visuals and cgi. Simple plot narrative in a needlessly convoluted manner.

An extremely casteist film as well, the avengers being transformed to rakshasas despite watching the lower caste family members being killed while an upper caste Vikrant Rona emerging a hero despite being an accomplice in crime during his school days. DISAPPOINTING

Story -⭐️⭐️
Screenplay -⭐️⭐️
Performances-⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dialogues -⭐️⭐️
VFX/Action -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Total -⭐️⭐️ 1/2

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Revisiting Jodhaa Akbar :

For the first time in over a decade I got a chance to revisit one of Ashutosh G’s most majestic big screen extravaganzas Jodhaa Akbar,

Story & Screenplay : 7/10
A rather simplistic story of a Mughal king wanting to forge an alliance with a Rajput princess in order to expand his foothold across the Hindustani landmass. The screenplay (by Haider Ali and Ashutosh himself) however takes an extremely labored and snail’s approach (a common hassle with most Ashutosh films including Lagaan) which induces boredom and disinterest in the viewer from time to time. To quote from Austin Chronicle, the film’s biggest victory is that “The music and dance that are such hallmarks of Bollywood filmmaking are here seamlessly incorporated into the story rather than creating a pause in the action.” https://bit.ly/3c2QMlm

Dialogues : 7/10
Good and effective (short of being great however) for the most part. Emperor Akbar and Jodhabai’s romantic exchanges are a pleasure to the ears while a young prince Akbar setting aside Khan baba in the first quarter of the film and setting his priorities straight have been written extremely effectively. Akbar’s exchanges with Jodha’s brother as well as his powerful & emotional dramatic exchange with his foster mom (an brilliantly devilish Ila Arun) have been thoughtfully penned by writer KP Saxena.

Performances : 7/10
Efficient and solid performances for the most part. Both Hrithik and Aishwarya have been given ample scope to exude charm and magnificient beauty by their handsome looks and they deliver effectively on that front. Ila Arun as Akbar’s foster mom is top notch and so is Sonu Sood as Sujamal Bhaisaab. The support cast led by Kulbhushan sir and others is passable as well. To quote B. Rangan on this “Hrithik occupies screen space with such silent poise and regal bearing, it’s hard to believe this is the same actor with the loosest limbs in Bollywood. And while Aishwarya’s beauty is no breaking news, she’s so luminous from certain angles, it’s as if the cinematographer lit her from within.” https://bit.ly/3yTCT1O

Action/Cinematography/Music : 6/10
The action is where the film takes a bit of a beating. Agreed the shots did not have the luxury of the VFX we witness in modern day cinema like RRR but the haphazard stunt choreography and close up action shots were a major let down. The long distant battle sequence shots as well as the one to one climatic duel leave an impact nevertheless. AR Rahman’s music is pure genius Kiran Deohans’ cinematography is patchy is parts (action sequences) and efficient in others (namely the dialogue and romantic sequences of the lead pair).

Final words : An uneven yet decent watchable film for the most part where the romance between its beautiful leads along with the music works much better than the historical sermons and the action.

Rating : 7/10 (Worth Watching)

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Kranti (1981)
Got an opportunity to watch this Manoj Kumar masterpiece on Zee5 last night. A star studded commercial movie about revolutionaries mutiny against the British with picture perfect performances from Dilip Kumar saab, Manoj Kumar saab, Hema ma’am, Praveen ji, late Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan sir among others. A true visual extravaganza in its actual sense, the RRR of the 1980s with better dialogues and better performances by its cast. No surprise that KRANTI turned out to be Hindi cinema’s biggest and greatest blockbusters of the decade. Sholay, Deewaar, Kranti, Karma etc. are the kinda films no one in Bollywood’s capable of making nowadays, the main reason for the industry’s current crisis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oecx7FyoFvw
Loads of well choreographed action, oodles of gut wrenching emotion (demise shots of Manoj saab, Shashi ji and Shatrughan sir in particular), intense drama and dialogues that invoke claps, whistles and hair raising moments as well punctuated by a bit of sprinkled humor and romance, Kranti is the near perfect masala film venture and alongside Sholay, this deserves to be a template in modern day commercial film making. The obvious and monumental inspiration of both these classics on Rajamouli sir’s RRR is all but obvious.

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Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
First time I’ve ever watched Mamootty sir perform (thanks to my zilch understanding of Malayalam) but as for his portrayal of Dr. Babasaheb, its almost pinpoint perfection (except the Malayali accent that cannot be helped). Always found Ambedkar the scholar a bit of a myopic when it came to his limited understanding of Hinduism and its philosophies (which could never rise beyond the manusmriti) but got to applaud him for his relentless efforts towards annhilation of class disparity and women upliftment in pre Independent India. Its only an irony (or perhaps his hypocirsy?) that being a self proclaimed atheist he converted to another DHARMIC faith (Buddhism) later on in life.

PS: The only leader in pre independent India apart from Bhagat Singh to have called out the cunning british stooge Mohandas Gandhi for what he was!



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