Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tumhari Sulu - Movie Review

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to have witnessed a discussion with Vidya Balan at MAMI festival. Anupama Chopra, who was one of the compere's on the panel, rightly said that the discussion with Vidya Balan seemed like a Master Class on acting. And this movie seemed every bit like it!

Starring Vidya Balan in the titular role, 'Tumhari Sulu', is an endearing tale of a regular middle-class homemaker, Sulochana Ashok AKA Sulu, a fun-loving simpleton who aspires to make a living and tries her hand at odd jobs. Although she is always belittled by her twin elder sisters, Sulu finds support in her charming husband, Ashok (played superbly by theatre actor Manav Kaul). In hilarious turn of events, this 'Saree-wali-bhabhi' gets chosen by Maria (Neha Dhupia) as a late night RJ and starts jockeying in her 'sexy' voice on her show, 'Tumhari Sulu'. This rest of the movie is about how Sulu manages her rising stardom and her faltering personal life.

Image result for tumhari sulu poster

Directed and written by Suresh Tiveni, Tumhari Sulu is a poignant depiction of every middle-class, fun-loving woman, who does not let her weaknesses curtail her dream to fly. The tone of the movie is lively and fun through out the first half, when the characters are being established. It's in the second half that the movie falters a bit from its light-hearted narrative. The writing cannot be blamed for this, as the turmoil in her life was expected to be shown melodramatically. But what makes up for this is - V I D Y A B A L A N! Hands down, this has to be one of her best performances ever (And I say this in a career marked by such amazing gems of performances). As Sulu, she gets to show all the myriad tones of acting. She is endearing, charming, unabashed, a mimic, her comic timing is brilliant and so is her performance in emotional scenes!! The scene where she hugs her son, hits him and cries is particularly heart-warming. She is OUTSTANDING!

She is supported by an equally superb Manav Kaul. As the supportive-yet-jealous husband, Manav beautifully shows the insecurities that men tend to have on their wife's success. In fact, Manav still continues to be a supportive husband, which is a rarity to find in real life. Neha Dhupia has a good supporting role as Sulu's boss and she delivers well. The ensemble in the movie has been picked well as they all make the movie a treat to watch, especially Sulu's twin sisters and her writer-colleague, Pankaj Ji (Vijay Maurya). 

A movie makes for a good watch if it is a right balance of great script and natural acting. Tumhari Sulu scores high on both these fronts. It is definitely a delightful watch.

My Rating - 3.5/5

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle - Movie Review

When was the last time you saw a mainstream hindi romcom on a middle-aged pair, that too a widow? Honestly, I can’t even remember if any such thing came out after ‘Cheeni Kum’ (2007) and ‘Pyaar Mein Twist’ (2005). Irrfan and Parvathy starrer ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ is one such movie which explores a less-touched territory of love stories between a pair in their late-30s.

It is the story of Jaya Shashidharan (Played beautifully by Parvathy), a widow in her mid-thirties, who works for an insurance company and dabbles in helping her friends at baby-sitting or being the ‘stepny’ aunty to their kids. Bored of the monotony, she joins an online dating portal – ‘’, and decides to meet, Yogi (played effortlessly by Irrfan), a 40-year-old poet, who has tons of cash and yet, has a goofy simpleton vibe.

While Jaya is a regular, plain-jane, Yogi is complete opposite – eccentric in his ways while always wearing his heart on his sleeves. Together they begin a journey to meet his three Ex’es, to prove a point to Jaya - that they still miss him. What ensues is a Jab-we-met style road trip, where we get to see their relationship bloom, though still maintaining their platonic stance towards each other.

Image result for qarib qarib single

It is during these trips that the story hits a rough, bumpy patch of uneven writing and sluggish pace. At 2-hours-5-minutes, it is still a crisp film, but it tends to feel long. But, undeniably, it remains watchable all thanks to its amazing lead pair. Irffan, as always, is very good, but as Yogi, we get to see an unabashed and bindaas side to his acting, something we have rarely seen in his great repertoire of films. Parvathy makes a wonderful Bollywood debut and shines as a woman trying to break-free. Having the better-written character amongst the two, she beautifully shows the shackles that our society builds around young widows – how they are expected to lead a subdued life and are always judged. And the sequence where she finally decides to break the shackles makes you applaud for her.

My major submission would be for the screenplay writers, who could have made the narrative better – especially the story in Jaipur which seemed less convincing. Also, the movie loses its steam in the middle. But, all thanks to the two powerhouse performers, you can certainly stick around till the end.

My Rating – 3/5 (0.5 extra just for Irrfan and Parvathy)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ittefaq -Movie Review

Before I begin to review Bollywood’s latest release, ‘Ittefaq’, I would like to mention that I have not seen the 1969 original nor read its plot on the net. This Sonakshi Sinha – Siddharth Malhotra – Akshay Khanna starrer is a thriller, spread over three days, where the mystery behind twin-murders is solved. While the hype created during promotions touted the movie to be a crisp, edgy and a flawless thriller, sadly, it meanders from its intent a bit.

The movie is about a writer, Vikram Sethi (played by Siddharth Malhotra), who is suspected of murdering his British-wife, Catherine. Fearing being falsely implicated in his wife’s murder, Vikram flees from the custody of the cops and ends up getting implicated in another murder – of a lawyer, Shekhar, while trying to seek help from Shekhar’s wife Maya (played by Sonakshi Sinha). The high-profile case is handed over to Dev Verma (played by Akshay Khanna) for investigation. The rest of the story oscillates between Vikram’s version, Maya’s version and as Dev puts it – the actual version.

Image result for ittefaq

Even though it has a crisp run-time of about 1 hour and 47 minutes, Ittefaq seems quite long due to its uneven pacing. Putting this minor issue aside, Ittefaq starts on a promising note. The first half is well made and builds up a good case. My major concern in the narrative was the interrogation part. The director and the screenplay writers opt for a narrative that keeps oscillating between each of the main suspect’s interrogation – without letting any of the suspect complete his side. This seems a little contrived, given the fact that police interrogation never stops in the middle – they take a complete version. My second major concern is the glaring loopholes – quite a few which any person with normal IQ could find and solve the case in a much better way.

Having said that, the movie still makes for a good one-time watch because of its ensemble cast, dark cinematography and gritty background score. Akshay Khanna proves what a seasoned actor can bring to the table. As the cop, he plays his shades undertone, never really overdoing it. I have always felt Siddharth Malhotra was the weakest among the three SOTY debutantes, but with Ittefaq, he seems to be finally getting into the groove. That one scene in the jail where he tries to eat, is a testament of how he is growing as an actor. Sonakshi Sinha is fine  - may be because she has played these demure roles too often, so I did not find anything new from her. The supporting cast, especially constable Tavde adds quite a few laughs (I tried getting their names, but sorry, google didn’t help)

On the whole, Ittefaq could have been a better film had they worked on the two major issues that I pointed out. But if the movie still manages to be a hit, I would not call that to be entirely ‘Ittefaq se’ 😉

My Rating: 2.5/5