Alia Bhatt is the heart and soul of Meghna Gulzar’s riveting thriller, Raazi

You’re bound to expect matured storytelling and nuanced characters from a director whose creative lineage is exemplary. Having woven stories around surrogacy in 2002 with Filhaal and the intricacies of the Indian judiciary with Talvar, Meghna Gulzar subtly etches the futility of war in Raazi.

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“Aap log na rishtey samajhte hai, na jasbaat, “recounts a heartbroken Sehmat(Alia Bhatt) in one of the soul-stirring scenes of the film. While this is just an underlying theme of the otherwise patriotic spy thriller, the director-actor duo often leaves you with moments that shake you from within!

Sehmat is a simple young girl who is pulled into a confidential alliance with Pakistani soldier Iqbal(Vicky Kaushal) owing to familial duty. Sehmat must fulfil her father’s (Rajit Kapur) wish of living for the nation and thus begins her journey as a spy with a focussed and rather ruthless trainer, Jaideep Ahlavat. While tensions begin to build up between India and Pakistan just before the war of 1971, Sehmat is compelled to provide undercover information about Pakistan’s secret plans that eventually led to the Ghazi Attack. Camouflaging under the garb of a newly-wed, and risking her life every minute, Alia Bhatt’s Sehmat draws you in to her world so much so that your heart thereafter beats along with hers. You sense her vulnerability, embrace her courage, pulsate in her fear and eventually drench in her tears! She almost paints an emotional graph of the transformation of simplistic humans into ruthless individuals compelled by war and you cannot help but empathise with her as she breaks down in self-pity. “Isse pehle ki main bhi aap sab jaisi ban jaoon, mujhe yahaan se jaana hai…mujhse aur ek khoon nahi hoga” she exclaims poignantly in a powerful scene from the film.

Meghna’s careful hands handle an otherwise controversial story with utmost dignity. She cleverly turns your attention into the emotional journey of two individuals under the backdrop of war and patriotism. While an overtly dramatic and rather cliché climax could have been avoided, it’s only a minor hiccup in the otherwise compelling thriller. Meghna is also careful to leave emotions and sequences open to audience interpretations.

Shankar Ehsaan and Loy provide just the right tunes in the background that blend into the story with Gulzar’s soulful words, a refreshing Kashmiri folk song and a reverberating Ae Watan by Arijit Singh.

With a strong supporting cast, some edge-of-the-seat moments and two leading ladies (Alia and Meghna), Raazi makes for a perfect watch this weekend!

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What if the antagonist becomes the hero? Padmavat(i) or Allauddin Khilji?

With layered eccentricity and fierce intensity Ranveer Singh’s Allauddin Khilji brings alive the antagonist once again in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic drama, Padmavat.

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Mewar’s Rajput prince Maharawal Ratan Singh(Shahid Kapoor) is at once smitten by Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), Singhal’s charming princess who soon walks into Chittor as the Queen of Mewar. Envied for her beauty and her intellect by Ratan Singh’s first wife, Rani Padmavati also unknowingly evokes her charm onto priest Raghav Chetan. Chetan is ostracised for interrupting the couple’s privacy and in a fit of revenge, provokes the ferocious Sultan Alauddin Khilji to own the Rajput Kingdom along with its beautiful Queen. Battles both physical and intellectual are fought to possess the queen and also protect the gallantry of the Rajputs. But, when Ratan Singh is deceived and killed by Khilji, Rani Padmavati must uphold the Rajput valour by performing Jauhar(the ancient Hindu custom of mass-immolation) with hundreds of other women, thereby defeating Khilji’s purpose.

Bhansali’s grandiose is here to stay with exquisite costumes, lavish sets and (of course) splendid war scenes but lacks an overall essence of magic like his previous films. Nevertheless, be sure to find his signature in the chandelier scene(read Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) or a gigantic door that closes to leave the characters on either side(read Devdas).

Biting into the character just as he bites his meat, Ranveer plays Khilji with barbaric sumptuousness! While Khilji’s megalomania takes you by both awe and utter disgust, there’s seldom a spark between Ratan Singh and Padmavati’s characters. Deepika’s Padmavati shines in gorgeous costumes, intricate dance movements and expressive eyes but her core character often blends with Leela(from Ram Leela) or Mastani(from Bajirao Mastani). Little is invested in Ratan Singh’s character, who continues to glorify Rajput values in his dialogues, never hitting the right chord. However, Raza Murad and Aditi Rao Hyadri do justice to their special appearances.

The songs except for Ghoomar(already having done it’s fair share of rounds at most Indian weddings) are almost forgettable whereas the background score is decent. The jauhar scene is picturesquely shot while most other scenes that stay with you long after you’ve left the theatres belong to Ranveer Singh, who clearly is the man of the hour.

Padmavat is a one-time watch for its cinematic experience but more importantly for Ranveer Singh’s Allauddin Khilji who constantly asks you, “What if the antagonist was the hero?”

A confused travelogue that embraces exotic locations yet deludes the traveller 

The flavour of an Imtiaz Ali film lies in its ability to engage and entertain as the audience journeys through the traveller’s(read character’s) experiences. The director’s latest offering is a pie that we’ve often tasted but one that’s gone wrong with disproportionate ingredients. 


Jab Harry Met Sejal(much as it sounds like Jab We Met) tastes like most of Imtiaz’s films but unfortunately the exquisite locales obscure its pivotal characters. Harry(Shah Rukh) is Harinder Singh, the Punjabi tour guide who is forced to accompany Sejal(Anushka), the Gujarati chhokri, in finding her lost engagement ring across all of Europe. What follows is a trip to the pub, a night on the streets of Europe, an encounter with local goondas, role playing at a cafe in Budapest-blended with some singing and dancing. It’s soul searching in disguise for ‘what you seek is seeking you’. Been there? Heard that? Yes, we have. Be it free-flowing fun and frolic in Jab We Met or layers peeling off characters in Highway or even simplistic scenarios of arranged-love marriages in Socha Na Tha. Only that they were far more believable while this one fails to live up to the mark. That said, one cannot miss a few palpably-real moments created by Harry and Sejal with remarkable ease. Unfortunately, such moments are few. 
Mr. Khan knows the Punjabi boy(now man) too well to go wrong with the accent or the mannerisms. And yes, given the non-swooning character(too), he manages to charm with those eyes and that dimpled-smile even today, even as that vulnerable bad boy. Anushka pulls off the Gujarati girl fairly well though you’ll find the Punjabi kudi in her popping out of that patiala as soon as she hears the bhangra tunes. Perhaps, that’s all that the wafer-thin narrative allows our capable actors to do. The saving grace for JHMS, is the irresistible camerawork by KU Mohanan, for you’ll find yourself embracing each little corner of Europe. 

I cannot resist mentioning Irshad Kamil’s words, especially in Safar and Hawaayein, for he himself says(in phurr),’lafz na ho pyaar, balki aadat ho.’ 
What let’s you down as a film-fanatic is the fact that an entourage that screams out names like Shah Rukh Khan, Imtiaz Ali, Pritam, and even Chandan Roy Sanyal is left unnurtured. A trite plot and half-peeled characters leave no room for for a creative and talented team that is capable of delivering better. 
I prefer to relish the flavours of the pies already digested(Jab We Met, Socha Na Tha, Highway encore )
P.S – For all the Shah Rukh fans out there(that includes myself) watch the latest interviews by Rajeev Masand and Anupma Chopra. These were featured as promotionals but carry repeat value for their wit, humour and those countless anecdotes shared by Mr. Khan. 

They’re a treat. Truly. 

© 2017 reachyashika. All rights reserved.

The Jagga tale, for the child in you

Anurag Basu’s tribute to his father and gift to his children is an endearing tale but one with a few overdone twists and turns. 

Jagga is Disney’s desi musical that poignantly tells the story of a young boy in search of his (foster) father. Basu takes no time to set the mood and you’ll know what you’re in for, right from fame one. Jagga Jaasos is a sincere attempt to allure and engage the little ones and transport them into the fascinating adventures journeying through thought provoking life lessons, socially relevant scenarios stirring up genuine emotions. However, a convoluted plot leaves us wondering if we could get more out of the father-son chemistry that is at times lost amidst the humdrum. 
Ranbir is perhaps the best suited skin for Bollywood’s version of Sherlock Holmes. He emotes effortlessly and leaves you teary eyed in a few scenes. 
Saswata Chatterjee has clearly found the Mr. Bagchi in him through Kahaani and Jagga. Saurabh Shukla too is true to his character. 
Pritam’s album blends well with the musical. ‘Ullu le’ sticks on long after you’ve left the theatres. The song also marvels in Shaimak Davar’s neatly directed dance moves and quick witted words by Amitabh Bhattacharya. 
The screenplay seems slightly dragged at times but Basu covers it up with his remarkable ability to involve the audiences in some lingering scenes. 
Wait until the last frame for a hit and miss surprise. 

© 2017 reachyashika. All rights reserved.

An Ode to Bangalore

For the College Goer, the Wayfarer and the City Lover…

 

Part One: For the College Goer

I faintly recollect my first day in the Garden City,

Mesmerised by its modern antiquity,

Bore the badge of a cheerful Christite,

Looking forward to the so called independent life!

Dormitories to guest rooms to multistoreys..

Traversed through the various levels of nurturing sanctuaries,

Learning the little lessons of life,

While the pulse of the city kept me alive.

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Part Two: For the Wayfarer

Rains are a rhythm in Bangalore,

Surprising you with sudden downpours,

Take that scenic drive to Wayanad, Coorg, Kodaikanal or Chikmagalur,

Or just experience the grandiose of Mysore,

And when in doubt about where to shop,

Brigade Road, Commercial Street and Chikpet ought to be your stops,

If a good ol’ yellowed book is all you need,

Then head straight to Blossoms bookstore on Church Street.

When you just wish to cut off and detach from the work bug,

Just walk into any Indiranagar brewery or a Koramangla pub.

When craving for those ultimate unrivalled sweets,

Corner House, Spoonful of Sugar, Glen’s and Smoor offer happy treats! 😀

For traditional South Indian cravings, there’s old Malleswaram,

CTR, MTR and Veena Stores serve the best dosas, idlys and uthappams.

For an English breakfast download,

Stop at Koramangla’s Hole in the Wall or Koshy’s on St. Marks Road,

Not to forget the must do list of quick eateries,

Truffles, Bric Oven, Chinita, all covering different cuisines.

In case you’re looking for an early morning weekend thrill,

Head to Cubbon Park for a nature walk or catch the sunrise at Nandi Hills!

Strolling across MG Road is perfect to end a buzzing weekend,

Also you’d find antics and handicrafts @Cauvery Emporium just on that road’s bend.

Only for its energy, you must visit Phoenix Mall,

Or catch an evening show at Chowdiah Memorial Hall!

Traffic in Bangalore can sometimes be a menace,

However, the weather and its people make it a warm place! 🙂

And just in case you have a problem with the language,

Just say ‘Kannada Gothilla’ and you’ll be doing just great!!

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Part Three: For the City Lover

Coming back to my independent life and my goals in the city,

It has instilled professionalism, confidence, grace & integrity.

And for all those times that I felt lonely,

There was always family away from family.

And a bunch of beautiful buddies to count on,

For moments in which the heart was forlorn.

Landed, learnt, travelled, loitered and lazed around,

Couldn’t have asked for a better learning ground.

Each time that I shall look back at my development,

The city truly deserves a mention, for it fostered my nourishment!

I carry with me a few pieces of the Bangalore pie,

And its after taste leaves me on a passionate high!

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Namma Bengaluru, I shall continue to love you!

 

If you’re in the city and you love the city just as much

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© 2017 reachyashika. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tale as old as time..song as old as rhyme- Beauty and the Beast”

Enchanted as much as I’m mesmerized,

Bringing alive in me that li’l child,

Who’s revisiting one of her bedtime stories,

Pumped with technology, grandiose and glory!

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–The story begins with ‘Once upon a time in France..’

Casting the spell of old-school romance.

Bewitched are a Prince and his castlemen,

By an enchantress, who had been scorned by them.

Prince turns Beast and the castlemen are locked,

Morphed under teapots, cups, pianos, candelabrums and clocks.

On one condition only would they to human turn,

If the Beast loved a woman and she loved him back in return.

And so by fates glory and unusual circumstances,

Witty and charming Belle entered the palace premises!

And with her essence, warm, fearless and bold,

The Beast’s kindliness did unfold.

And then of course they fell in love gradually,

Living happily forever after, breaking the spell finally!—

 

Ms. Watson is charming as can be,

The cutlery and furniture sets too, become friendly,

Stealing the show are the VFX and those rhythmic accounts,

Blending technology and a Sound of Music or Mamma Mia that you’re bound to recount,

A delightful piece of a lyrical this,

Taking me back to the school/college abyss,

Disney’s own fairy tale is retold fairly well

Only beware that it is upon nostalgia that you shall dwell!

© 2017 reachyashika. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris, je t’aime, the Yash Raj way

 Blend a few old and new Yash Raj flicks, loads of lip locking businesses, some stripping here and there, a dash of Punjabi tadka sprinkled with tonnes of over the top next gen (kewl)ness all served in exotic French crockery. Voila, that’s #Befikre in a nutshell!


While you cannot help spotting moments borrowed from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai and of course the maa ki nasihat from DDLJ, all that Befikre has to offer is the mouth watering locations across France. The been there and done that Imtiaz Ali like plot has been turned to be ‘oh so bold’ and it makes lust turn into friendship and eventually love between Dharam(Ranveer) and Shyra(Vaani). However, unfortunately the countless French kisses and occasional stripping fail to bring out genuine fire and warmth (leave alone romance) between the couple! 

What you get of course is a few good ol’ Yash Raj moments like the trumpet that goes Mehendi Laga ke Rakhna and of course some fresh and breezy music by Vishal and Shekhar that gets you swaying on your seats. Watch out for those perfect rhythmic camera moves by choreographer turned DOP Vaibhavi Merchant who makes Paris and little parts of France even more delicious!

Ranveer and Vaani do a decent job but only respectively. The spark of togetherness and the so called chemistry is clearly missing. This one’s meant for a popcorn watch or just in case you wish to prepare your itinerary for France, voila!!

© 2016 reachyashika. All rights reserved.