Monday, December 21, 2015

Movie Review: Bajirao Mastani

A lot has been written on the controversies surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani, so before I wade into that, a quick few words on the movie itself.

Bajirao Mastani is another beautifully executed masterpiece from someone who has already perfected the art of lavish sets, royal splendor, and riveting performances with glorious song and dance routines. The Sheesh Mahal, the intricate carvings, mirrors and tapestries reminded me of the beautiful Alahambra at Granada in Spain. The Shaniwar Wada, the King's palace in Satara, and the various battlefields are also very faithful renditions of what it must have been.

Ranveer Singh is cast absolutely spot on as the mighty warrior Bajirao I, with just the right streak of pomp and arrogance, as befits someone proud and fearless like him. Both Deepika and Priyanka also put in memorable performances - Deepika as the beautiful, courageous Mastani, and Priyanka as the loving, confident wife of the great warrior, who suddenly realizes she is no longer his favorite. While I am personally not a big fan of the Pinga and Malhari tracks, they have been wonderfully choreographed and shot. I absolutely loved Deewani Mastani - soulful and melodious, and stays with you for a long, long time.

However, coming after the epic Baahubali, I have to say Bajirao Maastani almost pales in comparison. The war sequences have the "been there done that" feel - we have seen this "keep it fast, keep it dark, keep it shaky, so you don't need to worry about the detailing" action so often in the past, unlike the absolutely crystal clear cinematography of Baahubali. The beautiful sets of Bajirao Mastani are just that - sets. You can see the artificial skies, the beautiful facades (minus the body behind) and keep reminiscing about the effort taken in the epic Baahubali to make everything so real and authentic. If not for the Baahubali comparison, SLB's Bajirao Mastani would have got top ratings in the art direction department.

And now to the question of authenticity. I am not a historian, and I am pretty tolerant of artistic and cinematic liberties. As someone who was only faintly aware of Bajirao Peshwa, the movie definitely aroused a keen interest in the life and achievements of this great Maratha warrior, as well as the immortal love story of Bajirao Mastani. In that, the movie definitely achieves it purpose.

It also made me aware of Kashibai and her trials and tribulations as the first wife of Bajirao, who has to see her husband go away from her into the arms of his new lover. However, unlike some of the reviews I have seen, I did not find Priyanka's character portraying strength. Instead, I see her almost helpless and forced to accept her husband's second wife, because she simply has no other choice.

Whether the Bajirao had time for song and dance, whether Kashibai and Mastani ever met, leave alone dance together - I think those are minor distortions, if at all, and can be ignored without hurting the image of the great Bajirao. However, did Bajirao give up his responsibilities as Peshwa for Mastani? Did she really die in prison? These are questions that remain unanswered.

The end definitely feels unreal. While there are many conflicting accounts of their deaths, the movie presents a very filmy version, which leaves a lingering doubt in my mind about the authenticity and robs the film of a powerful ending.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Movie Review: Dilwale

20 years ago, then a college student, I watched DDLJ with my girl friend on our first "date", and like everyone of that generation, fell in love with Raj and Simran, and the lush green European countryside. Isn't it pretty amazing then, that two decades later, the new Dilwale is still about the Badshah of romance, SRK, and the ever-so-stunning Kajol?

That's what Dilwale is all about, really. It's a nostalgic journey back in time to an era without cell phones and Google. Without Instagram. When we had little money, and no multiplexes to spend them in. When we hadn't heard of intolerance or vendetta politics. It's when a naughty Raj performed monkey antics to win over the innocent Simran, in locales rarely seen in Bollywood cinema, dancing to steps brought to the screen for the first time by a little known Shiamak Davar.

Will today's generation identify with Dilwale? I don't know. I guess they will drool over Varun Dhavan, who is now delivering his sixth hit in a row. Or watch the long legged eye candy Kriti Sanon dance to Manma Emotion Jaage. The kids might salivate at the DC rides, and clap when Kali and his two henchmen make mincemeat of an entire gang in a warehouse. (Note: Rohit Shetty still has cars exploding and flying in gravity defying action, but in hand to hand combat, it's a lot more earthly now!) Even though it's predictable, the story will invoke some oohs and aahs before interval. And most audiences will love it when Shahrukh says, "Hum thode sharif kya ho gaye, puri duniya badmash ho gayee!"

But it's when SRK and Kajol are together, that the screen absolutely lights up with their chemistry. The fantasy world of Janam Janam will mesmerize you, the melodious roller coaster engulfs you as you swirl around black beaches, waterfalls and skeletons of abandoned planes. While SRK does what he does best, Kajol is stunning and delivers a very memorable and beautiful performance. Here is one of the most successful on screen couples, and 20 long years after Raj and Simran, Raj and Mira are just as good together.

So, stop fretting about a predictable story line. Stop criticizing the liberal use of gaudy colors on houses, cars and costumes. Stop counting the flying cars, defying the laws of physics. Ignore the forced humor and lame jokes, the lack of comic timing. And simply immerse yourself in warm nostalgia - go back into those innocent, beautiful times of DDLJ, and as much as possible, find love and tolerance in today's India.

After all, as the Badshah says so beautifully at the end, bade bade deshoan mein, aisi choti choti baatein hoti rahati hai, senorita!

Sunday, December 06, 2015


Miss Long Legs

Those are really long... or are they?

Quintessentially Goa...

Railway Crossing

A Lovely Evening

Memories of a lovely evening at the Phoenix Mall East Court with a very close friend...


How many birds can you count in here?

(Taken thru the sunroof of my Audi with a Samsung Galaxy S5)

The Perfect Breakfast

The quintessential Maharashtrian breakfast of pohe teams up so beautifully with this prawn pickle!

Cat And Dog

Movie Review: Katyar Kaljat Ghusali (Marathi)

And it keeps coming, like a glorious flood of talent and creativity unleashed with full force. The Marathi film industry is on a major upswing, and Katyar Kaljat Ghusali shows exactly why. Packed with powerful characters, stunning imagery, great story-telling, drama and at the core, a rich treasure trove of classical music brought to you by some of the most acclaimed Indian artists, KKG keeps you absolutely mesmerized through the 3 hours, even if you are more inclined to attend NH7 Weekender... like my 14 yo daughter.

Panditji (Shankar Mahadevan) is the Royal Singer in the Court of the King of Vikrampur, a princely state in the early days of the British. On a visit to Miraj, he meets Khan Saaheb, unappreciated and unsung in his own city of Agra, and invites him over to Vikrampur, where Khan impresses one and all by his performance. At the annual Dusshera fest, a competition sees Khan perform against Panditji, and while Khan evokes rapturous claps from the audience, Panditji moves his audience to spell-bound tears, and is declared winner by the king. Khan feels humiliated, and wows to trump Panditji. However, year after year, he loses to the superior Panditji, each time his ego and hurt increases, taking over his music and feeding his thirst for revenge.

He conspires with his wife to destroy Panditji's voice, and finally achieves his dream of moving into the mansion of the Royal Singer.

It's then left to a disciple of Panditji to face Khan and set things right. The conflict of the gharanas escalates dramatically, with Khan demanding the exercise of his right to "one murder"... killing the disciple to protect his gharana. Will the young disciple win the battle of the masters?

KKG is a wonderful movie, a treat to the senses, and an absolutely must see in the theatres! Do not miss this one, even if you don't understand Marathi! (English subtitles will take care of you...)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Foggy Goan Morning

Shrimp Cocktail (or, should we say Rangoli?)

Tips For Visitors To London

Found this infographic absolutely wonderful... check it out if you are planning a trip to London!

Cat And Kitten in NYC

One of the most amazing pics I have come across - the cop stops traffic while the mom cat carries her baby across the street. NYC, 1929.

Dubai Sunset

Spectre spectacle

At the Mall of Emirates - (a replica) of the 007 beast in Spectre :)

Pune Heritage Walk

I had the privilege today to attend the Pune Heritage Walk, organized by the Janvani (Pune Virasat) group every weekend in collaboration with the PMC. I was accompanying former Mayor of Adelaide, Stephen Yarwood, who is in Pune as part of the Smart City efforts. We were escorted by the very helpful Nitin Deshpande from PMC's vigilance department and Arch Shirish, our guide.

We started at 815, ending the 2.5 km or so walk by 10, with refreshments and some folk performances.

Heavily recommend you do this once, whether you are a tourist in Pune, or a localite just wanting to know a little more about your beautiful city! Here are some pics from the walk...

Movie Review: Main Aur Charles

MAC took me right back to the 80s, when hippies ruled the roost in Goa. Charas-ganja was easily available, and half naked bikers popped into view on their motorbikes.

I remember the drama behind Charles' arrest in Porvorim. Vividly.

MAC brings all that back with an amazing depiction of life in the 80s. Randeep Hooda is mesmerizing as Charles, and true to the character he plays, you fall in love with him, all his evil and merciless humor notwithstanding! Richa Chaddha is fantastic in a small but memorable role, as is Mandana Karimi (currently living it the Big Boss house).

Not your typical Hindi movie though - almost gives you a feel of a docu. But the end is wonderfully presented, and a fitting end to the intense story telling.

Movie Review: Rajwade and Sons (Marathi)

RAS gets my vote for the movie of the year.

What works: absolutely amazing cast, each and every character is introduced and built upon so well, you absolutely relate to each one of them very, very closely. Various well known locales of Pune also connect so deeply to you (yes, I know, I am talking to Puneris right now) that it feels very personal and real.

The camera work and screenplay is also top notch - and a few scenes are absolutely beautiful and well executed. The passionate love making and the scene where the shoes leave the home - so much said, and so much left unsaid!

A must watch for every Puneite, with a lot of lessons to learn too!

Movie Review: NH10

Yes, I know. Very old movie. And I had been avoiding it because the theme of a couple being chased by rowdies hungry for their blood isn't exactly my cup of tea. And the promo video with Anushka didn't exactly excite me.

But I happened to catch NH10 on TV the other night - and I must say. Anushka deserves to take a bow for her stunning performance. Her frustration, anger, her sadness, and finally, her determination for revenge and redemption is absolutely spot on.

I guess watching it on TV also took the edge off some of the scenes, which are pretty graphic and not for the weak hearted!

Movie Review: Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2

And the trend continues. Marathi movies are on a major upswing, and MPM2 continues the good job with a heart warming entertainer about the doubts and feelings of the Mumbai girl (Mukta Barve continues to impress with her effortless portrayals) just before her marriage to the fun-loving, carefree Puneri mulga (Swapnil Joshi).

Puneris and Mumbaikars alike will completely identify with and relate to the cast and characters, brining smiles and an occasional tear.

Do watch  it!

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2

In the last installment of the super successful Hunger Games series, Katniss (the ever so gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence) leads the final push against the Capitol and President Snow. The "Hunger Games" shifts from the jungle to the urban setting of the bombed out Capitol, with Snow continuing to use his gamers against the incoming rebels, the massacre telecast live to his audiences.

Sadly, like most EMIs, this one has a lot more of "principle" and very little "interest"!

While a couple of scenes hold attention (thinking back, only one scene actually does so), most of the time is spent in dark grey settings, the heavy 3D goggles doing nothing to help, with endless conversations that escape your processing. 

Even Katniss can't redeem this one. 

Movie Review: Spectre

I saw Spectre at the Imax theatre in Dubai, at the Mall of Emirates. Hence, 

1. I cant talk about the chemistry between James Bond and the smoking hot lady (Lea Seadoux).
2. You probably won't enjoy the earth shattering sound effects as much as I did.

Spectre has all the usual 007 ingredients - gadgets, villains out to destroy the world with their outrageous schemes, hot ladies, and some eye popping and ear shattering action. The heli scene at the beginning of the movie is epic.

But at 2 hrs 40 mins, it also has lots of irrelevant, unnecessary dialogue, and if you catch a late show, you might just be able to sneak some good winks before you groggily wake up to check what the "shor" is all about.

Verdict: if you watch it, go to the best theatre in town, or get a DVD and cut out all the crap.

Movie Review: Tamasha

15 min into the movie, you begin to wonder if you were better off doing something else. The clowns on stage, the Ramayana performances in Eastman Color, the storyteller and the boy - it all seems pointless and repetitive.

And then suddenly the focus shifts to Corsica. Lovely cafes, colorful alleyways, the blue sea, a smart Ranbir Kapoor and the absolutely gorgeous Deepika Padukone. Add some really peppy matargasti music, and life is beautiful.

Corsica is an escape from daily life, and boy and girl decide they are going to live it up - not ask each other the truth about themselves, and never get back in touch after Corsica. What happens in Corsica stays in Corsica, they gleefully decide. Starting with a ting tong, they make passionate love. And leave. Never to look back.

4 years pass by. And then fate brings them together again. Old feelings are rekindled, promises revisited. Love blossoms.

And there begins the story of life. Reality. Compulsions. The girl doesn't recognize the boy in his "daily avatar". The boy doesn't like what he is being told, questions about his inner self lead to turmoil and arguments, and a meltdown.

Tamasha is a beautiful love story that explores the many dimensions of life. But most of all, it asks one pertinent question. Who are we? When did we change? What are we really living this life for? What really makes us happy?

Packed with powerful performances from the two leads, some really memorable visuals and great music, Tamasha suffers from only one shortcoming - a pretty long opening sequence that stretches almost unbearably, and could have been snipped. Deepika looks amazing in every scene, and shows why she is Bollywood's undisputable queen right now. Ranbir is perfect in his role, one that no one else could have pulled off better,

4 stars from my side!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Swacch Bharat - PMC Gets Into The Act

Came across this cute attempt by the PMC to contribute to the Swacch Bharat mission - a modified truck trying to sweep the busy Karve Road in rush hour.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out (3D)

Has to be one of the best animated movies ever - in terms of idea, content and presentation. A rather good example of gamification, presenting very complex ideas in a lucid, fun and engaging way. I don't want to discuss the story here, because I won't do justice to it.

All I can say is, whether you are a kid or an adult, go watch Inside Out! And rediscover so much about yourself, you will feel like a whole new person!

Amravati - A Dream Or Reality?

Movie Review: Bajrangi Bhaijaan

If you are a Salman Khan fan, you don't even need a review. But be advised - BB isn't a typical Sallu movie. There is no taking off the shirt.

But yes, Sallu does perform some amazingly complicated dance moves in Selfie Lele Re :) He does bash up some baddies. And he does put in a smashing performance, perhaps the best of his career.

However, the innocent Harshaali Malhotra absolutely steals your heart with a stupendous performance as the lost 6 year old girl from Pakistan who Bajrangi tries hard to reunite with her parents across the border. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays another wonderful role, and almost runs away with all the credit. Kareena is wasted in her cameo, but when you have the beautiful Kashmiri valleys and guzzling streams as a backdrop for so long, who needs any more eye candy?

A wonderful message of love and harmony across borders, cultures and religions, BB is a wonderful option this Eid. If you can get tickets, that is!

Movie Review: Baahubali

300 meets Exodus, and then some.

Produced with a reported budget of around 250 crores for the two parts, Baahubali (part 1) is a magnum opus, a benchmark movie that easily rivals anything produced in Hollywood, and leaving its Bollywood counterparts far behind in visualization, set design, special effects and grandeur. Prabhas, Tammanah Bhatia and Rana Daggubati star in this period drama that features an awe-inspiring waterfall beyond which lies a fantasy land of butterflies and icicles, shaken by wars featuring thousands of men, roaring horses, and the war machines. Oh, the war machines. Absolutely stunning! The war strategies, the make ups, the action, the drama - nothing I write here will make up for the vistas that keep splashing on the screen, relentlessly.

No wonder, it's on course to easily be the biggest blockbuster ever in Indian history. By far.

This is one movie you cannot miss, and yes - please DO NOT SEE IT AT HOME. Go watch the grandeur in the best theatre in town!

Mango Season in Mumbai

If You Thought You Were Overweight...

At The Taj, Mumbai