Saturday, July 21, 2018

RX 100 - Movie Review

Over the last couple of years, Telugu cinema has seen some great works by debutantes like Pellichoopulu and Arjun Reddy. Just like everyone else, I hoped that this would pave way for more such interesting work in the Telugu Film Industry. But, debutante director Ajay Bhupati’s action love story, RX 100, starring newcomers Karthikeya and Payal Rajput is a big, appalling let down!

Shiva (played by Karthikeya) is a small-town orphan, living with and working for a local leader, Daddy (played by Ramki). Ramki has political allegiances with Vishwanatham (played by Rao Ramesh), whom he helps win the Zilla Parishad elections. Shiva, who runs a cinema theatre in this small sleepy town near Rajahmundry, falls for the snobbish and arrogant, Indu (played by Payal Rajput), Vishwanatham’s Bangalore-bred daughter. Predictably, the lovebirds are separated, where the girl is married off to an NRI in USA, turning her lovelorn hero into an aggressive rowdy. Whether they reunite or not, forms the rest of the movie. The movie which released last week has been garnering praise for its supposed ‘surprising twist’ in the second half, which gets a mention on its Wiki page as well. I wonder how can the viewers be so dumb and not see this coming – it was so evident and obvious!

Image result for rx 100 movie poster

Leaving aside the predictability, a movie needs to develop its characters and layer its sequences accordingly, to create an engaging narrative. Sadly, the movie fails here on all accounts. All the characters are one-tone, barely giving a glimpse of their equations with each other or the reason behind the enmity between the warring factions. The performances are so flat and weak, that they barely evoke any emotion in the audience. Most of the cast seems to know of only one emotion – aggression, which reflects in almost any scene that you pick. Tickets for this movie should have come with a user manual on decoding the bland expressions on most of the actors faces. Even the love-making scenes meant to be sensuous are complete damp squib. The comic scenes are not funny at all, but, the dialogue writer leaves the audiences unintentionally in splits, owing to some of the most clich├ęd lines written in recent times. With a song popping up every 10 minutes in the first half and an excessive dose of background score, the movie further tests your patience!

Director-writer, Ajay Bhupati, tries to be a mix of Sriram Raghavan of Badlapur and Sandeep Vanga of Arjun Reddy, failing miserably to be either! A director is responsible to get the best out of his actors and tighten the script, but he seems as less involved in the making of this film as I was while watching it! At 2 hours and 30 minutes, the movie is ridiculously long, and by the time it reaches its crescendo, the viewers have already given up. Speaking of the performances, Karthikeya, playing the lead, clearly tries to revisit Vijay Devarakonda’s aggressive Arjun Reddy, but struggles to show any other emotion or even look half as convincing. Payal Rajput is given the quintessential props of an independent women in Indian cinema– she is a snooty, motor-mouth, cigarette smoking woman, who is open about her sexual needs. Giving credit where it’s due, for the first time, a movie talks about women being as capable of objectifying and lusting for men, as men are for women! Among the other actors, not a single supporting cast displays even an ounce of honesty in their characters. A talented actor like Rao Ramesh is the only one who is worth watching, to a certain extent. A special mention of the brilliant camera work (I was not able to find the cinematographer’s details online), for using some of the most slick and innovative shots. One such unusual shot was in the beginning of the movie, where a character is shown running, with his arms brushing against the frame of the camera to show his movement.

I cannot remember when was the last time I had to endure such a long and emotionless tirade. I always jot down my thoughts on my phone during a movie, for writing my reviews. Some movies are so engrossing that I get time to make notes only in the interval, while most others give me a breathing moment in between. In this case, my phone was out throughout the movie, giving me enough time to write a novel to critique it! Watch it if you must!

My Rating: 1/5

Friday, July 20, 2018

Dhadak - Movie Review

A disclaimer before I begin – I have not watched the Marathi hit, Sairat, of which Dhadak is an official remake. I have not even seen its rushes or the extremely popular song, ‘Zingaat’. So, this is an opinion solely based on director Shashank Khaitan’s ‘Dhadak’, with no parallels being drawn to ‘Sairat’.

Dhadak, introducing Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, is a poignant love story of two young college going protagonists, Madhukar (played by Ishaan Khatter) and Parthavi (played by Janhvi Kapoor). Parthavi is the only daughter of a powerful feudal lord and politician, Ratan Singh (played by Ashutosh Rana) and takes pride in flaunting her clout. Madhukar, on the contrary, is a simpleton and son of a small-time restaurant owner in Udaipur. This sweet teenage romance is soon disturbed by the upheaval caused by Ratan Singh, owing to the class difference between his princess daughter and the pauper she falls in love with. The lovestruck couple run far away from this mess and the rest of the movie tracks their shaky journey ahead.

Image result for dhadak

True to Karan Johar’s Dharma style, Dhadak is shot on a grand and beautiful canvas. With the backdrop of a picturesque Udaipur, the camerawork by Vishnu Rao romances the beautiful faces of its leads. Director Shashank Khaitan, who has also written this adaptation, leaves his trademark stamp in the form of a pretty heroin, a rich-poor divide and – an unevenly paced narrative. This is the biggest problem with the movie – that it does not let its viewers get emotionally invested in it. The first half is used to develop the love story and feels rather long, especially since one can predict what is about to come. Post interval, the movie picks up pace, albeit a wobbly one. The plot is set against the backdrop of differences based on caste, social standing and politics. But these are not layered well to create a seamless flow. Especially towards the end, the director hurriedly moves towards the climax, without letting the viewer understand the gravity of the situation. Nonetheless, the movie has its elements – the banter between the lead couple and the antics by Madhukar’s friends. Ankit Bisht and Shridhar Watsar, who play Madhukar’s friends evoke quite a few laughs and act more than mere sidekicks. Ashutosh Rana as Parthavi’s arrogant and haughty father, Ratan Singh, gets an ill-conceived role, but is good in whatever little he gets.

But, the surprise package here are the leads, Ishaan and Janhvi. While Ishaan had already garnered praise for his first movie, ‘Beyond The Clouds’, it is Janhvi, who makes a strong and confident debut. She not only looks extremely beautiful, accentuated by Manish Malhotra’s creations, but emotes rather well for a new-comer. She looks a bit underprepared in the initial Udaipur sequences, but delivers a good performance once she gets comfortable. Ishaan fits the role perfectly, as a young first year undergrad student, and displays the nervousness and vulnerabilities of a regular 20-year old. Their equation looks endearing and their trajectory from uncomfortable teens to a married couple is captured beautifully. Both the leads are also gifted with extremely emotive eyes and show good command over their craft, much better than the histrionics shown by their respective half-brothers in their debuts (Arjun Kapoor and Shahid Kapur in Ishaqzaade and Ishq Vishk, respectively).

A word of caution, the movie uses a language heavily influenced by Marwari, so non-native Hindi speakers may find some dialogues hard to understand. Also, it is an adaptation of a much successful and gritty, Sairat. But, every director and writer brings in his own sensibilities and treatment to the narrative. So, watch it with an open mind, without comparing it with the original, because it is a good one-time watch!

My Rating – 3/5 (0.5 just for its lovely leads)

P.S – Interestingly, Janhvi’s half-brother Arjun had made his debut in a similar Romeo-Juliet kind of love story, Ishaqzaade. But he was lucky to have got Habib Faisal calling the shots with no colossal comparison to another film, and this is where Janhvi is unlucky.