Saturday, February 27, 2016

Aligarh - Movie Review

Ratings: 2/5 

Aligarh is one of those rare films which has a great plot, critically acclaimed actors, skillful director, very appealing trailer and a movie made very passionately but still doesn't connect with audience. I have immense respect for LGBT rights and deeply moved with atrocities meted out at Prof Siras. But, I could barely keep my eyes open towards the end of watching Aligarh. 

Movie is made at an extremely slow pace and darkness of cinema hall, comfortable seats and soothing conditioned air makes it an irresistible combination to doze off. If it wasn't for Rs 350/- ticket + 250/- popcorn, I wouldn't have battled with my eye lids. This story isn't about homosexuality because that point of view wasn't discussed and justified in the film. This film is a biography on a person Prof Siras, who has a distinct outlook towards life, society, current generation and also happens to have a different sexual orientation. 

A great part of film is spent on building the characterization of Prof Siras, who is a reserved shy person and loves old Hindi music with his glass of whisky. A big fan of poetry who loves writing books. Someone, who is a staunch believer in religion and orthodox in nature yet he is open to have relationship with a person of different religion and socio-economic class. Someone, who abhors the casualness of current generation and believes that this generation makes everything trivial and doesn't go deeper in understanding feelings. A person with great self respect who gets hurt when people takes dig at his sentiments. A simple apolitical person who conveniently dozes off in a courtroom where his case is getting discussed, because he doesn't understand nor interested in convoluted legal mumbo-jumbo. Very few films have such well defined characterization of a role. Kudos to Hansal Mehta for doing it so impeccably.

It is one of the best played roles of Manoj Bajpayee. A dynamic actor like him who is known to play aggressive roles mouthing fierce dialogues have played a role of such calm and composed professor. You'll admire his grip on characterization when he closes his eyes and gets lost in himself, when he feels shy, immense pain which is reflected from him eyes but not from his words. It is remarkable to see Mr Bajpayee playing this role with so much perfection. If there is anything to be watched in this film then it is Manoj Bajpayee's acting prowess. For Rajkummar Rao, this was one of the easiest roles ever played which didn't give him much room to challenge himself and show his acting capabilities.

Now when everything is so great, what really went wrong?

1. If this movie was about homosexuality (or any other social matter for that matter) then it would have still got the audience attention. But this film was about Prof Siras characterization. Does anyone really care who he was and what he really cared for?

2. Pace of the film is extremely slow and people don't have so much patience to understand, assimilate, ruminate and then digest characterization of a person.

3. Many of the threads were left open, which might be intentional but seems like a technical fault. For e.g. Whether Prof Siras partner was hand in glove with journalist or not. What was the animosity between AU faculty and Prof Siras. Was it political for the power or it was a related to religious bias?

Verdict: This movie isn't of everyone's taste. Be very careful before you choose to watch it. You should have a deep interest in philosophy and slow paced films should be your type. There aren't any explicit scenes or usage of bold language, so it is a safe film from that point of view. Ideally, to be watched alone if you are a thinker. Don't drag your friends or partner along if it isn't their type of film. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Neerja - Movie Review

Ratings: 3/5 

Neerja is a film which will bring tears to your eyes. It is a tribute to India's braveheart Neerja Bhanot , who sacrificed her life to save lives of other passengers. Certainly, a story which deserves to be told a million times so that everyone can admire her bravado and bow their head in immense respect. 

Neerja as a film scores very high on emotion but falters on execution. Kudos to marketing team of Neerja, who pulled every string to create sensation in the media about this story. Not only every news channel is airing their own version of documentary but they even got interviews of Pan Am 73 survivors. They have cached in every human emotion to garner enough empathy towards the film. This is a good starting point and would be a crowd puller in cinema halls but it can't be a replacement to a movie well made. 

Plot of the film is like an open book and audience know it by heart. Screenplay, dialogues, performance and direction is what can make or break this movie. I personally liked the Screenplay, especially movie starting on 2 parallel tracks, one with Neerja thread and other one on terrorists thread. You'll often see flashes of flashback to Neerja's earlier life challenges and comparing them to current situation. However, in a bid to show authenticity all the dialogues in terrorists were in Arabic/non-hindi laced with subtitles. I appreciate director's thought but it was a bit pain to make a sense of all the chaos. All the dialogues lacked luster and sounded like a very routine conversation. 

Sonam Kapoor bagged a dream role, where entire movie revolves around her. Even a slight effort would have given her accolades. But alas, she is consistent on her mediocrity, playing a daredevil role like a sissy. Neerja definitely demanded a much more fearless performance which Sonam Kapoor is incapable of. I would have expected someone like Anushka Sharma or a younger version of Sushmita Sen to do this role. Shabana Azmi and Yogendra Tiku's performance lacks a punch despite of being such senior actors. 

Direction of Ram Madhvani is average and there isn't anything worth appreciating. His immaturity is quite evident and he proved to be just another rookie. There isn't much scope of music, cinematography, sets and costumes as per the script. 

Right from the first scene, director is reminding audience again and again, this girl is going to die..this girl is going to die. For e.g. Brother saying "Read this magazine later on, as if you are going to die". Mother saying "Where is that ring, I made for your safety. God forbid if something happens to you". Well based on Neerja Bhanot's character and her being inspired from Rajesh Khanna's Anand character, film should have been made a little more lively instead of morose. Something on the line of classic Anand would have made this film even classier. 

Verdict: Watch it for the emotion and not performance. Neerja Bhanot's story is deserved to be told to every Indian. Even with half-baked characterization and its glitches, movie will make you cry. Much better than other alternatives like Fitoor and Sanam Re. I must say a very good timing for Neerja. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Aligarh - Trailer Review

Trailer Appeal - 4/5

Aligarh is based on the real life incident of a professor in Aligarh Muslim University, Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, who was suspended from his job because of his homosexuality. Under the Indian Penal Court, homosexuality is a crime as per section 377 which dates back to 1860 and is still under existence.The film is slated to be released on 26 February 2016.

You can't ask for more when you have 2 stalwarts like Manoj Bajpai and Rajkummar Rao sharing the screen space. Manoj looks intense yet restrained in the trailer. You can feel him imploding with the constant moral policing of society. It would be a good change to see him in a different avatar, where he won't be mouthing heavy weight aggressive dialogues. 

Rajkummar Rao plays a journalist and is honest portrayal of the character is clearly evident. No matter whether role has great scope or not, Rajkummar Rao always leaves a lasting impression. That is why this is the 3rd movie of Rajkummar back to back with Director Hansal Mehta. Good luck guys. I am anxiously waiting to see you marvel at silver screen.