Friday, December 28, 2018

Best of 2018: Telugu Movies

Known for its grand scales and male-centric movies, Telugu Film Industry showed a drift towards content-driven cinema. While the box office continued to be ruled by mass entertainers such as Aravinda Sametha and Bharat Ane Nenu, smaller movies also managed to draw attention. One of Tollywood’s favorite genre in recent times has been Indie Rom-Coms and 2018 was no different, with movies like Chi La Sow and Sammohanam winning praise. But the most promising trend that started in 2018 was meatier roles for women. While U-Turn and Bhaagmathie were labelled as women-centric, movies like Rangasthalam and Awe brought women to the forefront. Irrespective of the box-office numbers, I decided to pick my favorites from 2018 solely based on content and appeal.

Movies (in no particular order)

Awe: What started off as an anthology, soon turned into a thrilling tale of intertwined lives. It cohesively combined various stories, including an imaginary one where a fish and a tree speak, is no ordinary feat. Prashanth Varma achieved this through a well written screenplay, which was amply supported by the performances. Oh yes, it also had Telugu Cinema’s first Lesbian lead couple!

Mahanati: The life and times of Mahanati Savitri were not only captured beautifully, but the scale and attention to detail ensured the audiences were transported back to the same era. Keerthy Suresh’s fascinating transformation into Savitri, catapulted her to instant fame and praise. Also, the wonderful cameos by dozen-odd actors reprising stalwarts from the yesteryears added to the nostalgia.

Goodachari: Just when you lament the dearth of slick espionage thrillers down south, trust Adivi Sesh to bring something novel to the table. Made on a shoestring budget, Goodachari was a perfectly baked thriller that created waves upon its release. Some parts of it may seem contrived, but the racy pace does not let you complain.

Rangasthalam: The first movie that made me believe that Ram Charan can act deserves a mention on this list. Director Sukumar has helmed various projects previously, but the rustic treatment, authentic dialect of the Godavari districts and a much believable world made Rangasthalam an instant hit. Not to forget the better-written role of Ramalakshmi (Samantha), which is a rarity in hero-centric films.

Special Mention: Bhaagmathie, Ee Nagariniki Emaindi and U-Turn

Performances (in no particular order)

Ram Charan (Rangasthalam): With Chittibabu, Ram Charan broke the mold of quintessential Telugu film here. As the small-time rookie in the town of Rangasthalam, he mastered the rural dialect and looked every bit of a ‘sound engineer’ – one with hearing difficulties. This was an endearing and honest performance, which canvassed his acting skills.

Keerthy Suresh (Mahanati): On the cusp of being written off as yet another ‘bubbly heroine’ in Telugu and Tamil cinema, Keerthy Suresh gave a knockout performance, reprising late actor Savitri. She looked regal, re-enacted scenes from Savitri’s classics and never played a note out of place. It was a role of a lifetime and she lived way beyond the expectations!

Samantha Akkineni (U-Turn, Rangasthalam): Being one of the most sough-after actresses currently, Samantha needed a strong part, after playing second fiddles in hero-centric movies. And she redeemed herself by delivering two strong roles, one of which (U-Turn) was completely carried by her. It will be interesting to see how she follows these up in 2019.

NTR Jr (Aravinda Sametha): Though I had my issues with the narrative and its addressing of ‘feminism’, there is no denying that NTR Jr delivered a praise-worthy performance. Much like his grandfather, his powerful dialogue delivery and demeanor can win over anyone. As the man ‘fighting’ for non-violence, he was restrained, calm yet very volatile. A knockout performance, indeed!
Jagapati Babu (Rangasthalam and Aravinda Sametha): While his contemporaries are still romancing actors half their age, Jagapati Babu 2.0 continues to overshadow the current crop of actors with his powerful roles. His characters in Rangasthalam and Aravinda Sametha were structurally similar, yet Jagapati Babu used his command over his skills, to make them distinctive.

Special Mention: Nithya Menen (Awe), Mahesh Babu (Bharat Ane Nenu), Dulquer Salman (Mahanati), Vijay Devarakonda (Geetha Govindam) and Vishnu as Hollywood (Taxiwala)

Note: This list has been compiled as on December 25, 2018. Also, the following movies were not considered since I have not watched them: Kanam, Sammohanam, Chi La Sow, C/O Kancherapalem and Antariksham

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Best of 2018: Hindi Movies

2018 was an interesting year for Bollywood, where smaller films and concept driven cinema found patronage, while some of the tried and tested masala potboilers failed miserably. Even as jingoism in the form of Satyameva Jayate and Baaghi 2 raked in the moolah, a female-centric smaller film, Raazi, joined the coveted 100-crore club. While the three Khans – Aamir, Shahrukh and Salman – were panned by the critics and public alike (though the verdict on SRK’s Zero is still not completely out), Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal and Rajkummar Rao emerged as the faces of the new ‘Hindi film hero’. There have been a lot of discussions and lists published on the best movies and performances of the year, but here is my list of the best of Bollywood in 2018.


5. Mulk: In the communally sensitive times such as ours, Mulk came as a pertinent voice condemning in the religious divide in the society. An ensemble cast, headlined by Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu, take us through the unwarranted discrimination experienced by a Muslim family, when it is learnt that their younger son is a terrorist. Delicately handling a sensitive religious issue, director Anubhav Sinha leaves the audience’s thought provoked.

4. Stree: This small-sized Rajkummar Rao-Shraddha Kapoor starrer proved to be the biggest bomb formost of the movies that released alongside. With a simple premise of a woman haunting single men of a sleepy town, Chanderi, director Amar Kaushik along with writers Raj and DK, weave a hilarious horror comedy. Rarely does it happen that the supporting cast gets to overshadow the leads, but trust Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Banerjee to do exactly that! Not to forget, the subtle message of respecting women, that was conveyed beautifully.

3. Raazi: Little did anyone think that the haughty Shanaya from Student of the Year (2013) could carry an entire film on her shoulders! Alia Bhatt has already proven her mettle, but she pushes the envelope further in this brilliantly crafted espionage drama. Not only was the nationalism shown subtly, even the ‘neighbor’ was not demonized. Alia as Sehmat displayed vulnerabilities through a restrained performance. And, you had the always-good Vicky Kaushal as well.

2. October: Not many liked this movie, but it is certainly one of the most poignantly told stories of 2018. For a better part of its run time, it was shot in the depressing wards of a hospital, with the hues of blue, white and a bed-ridden Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) adding to the gloom. Varun Dhawan sheds his ‘herogiri’ and gave us a compassionate friend and lover in the form of Dan. The surprise however was Gitanjali Rao, playing Shiuli’s distraught mother, who showed pain and strength in equal measures.

1. Andhadhun: You know you are in for a good ride, when the notions created based on the trailer are shattered 15-minutes into the film. Andhadhun was a juicy, fast-paced and whacky thriller comedy, with great performances by Tabu and Ayushmann Khurana. The ease with which director Sriram Raghavan throws twists at the audiences, leaves you surprised, shocked and stunned. And yes, the cryptic end had people talking for days with multiple theories coming out! Pure genius!

Special Mention: Sui Dhaaga, Manmarziyaan, Tumbbad, Badhaai Ho, Lust Stories and Sanju (solely for the performances)

Performances (in no particular order):

1. Ranveer Singh (Padmaavat): When was the last time you fell in love with a menacing, womanizing, cannibal-like villain? Not recently until Ranveer Singh reprised Allauddin Khilji in SLB’s Padmaavat. It has to be one of his best performances till date.

2. Anushka Sharma (Pari): Before playing a caricature-ish Aafia in Zero, Anushka Sharma played a scathingly scary Djinn in the underrated, Pari. Pale, grey, yet violent, she was extremely convincing as a good-evil.

3. Varun Dhawan (October): Though Badlapur gave us a glimpse of Varun Dhawan’s acting prowess, as a simpleton emotionally stuck to a girl in vegetative state, he displayed great amounts of restrain and conviction.

4. Gitanjali Rao (October): Making her acting debut on the big screen, Gitanjali Rao created a great deal of impact. As the mother torn between medical bills, prayers on her lips and the will to fight all odds to save her daughter, her performance was moving. Also, loved the equation she shares with Dan (Varun Dhawan)

5. Alia Bhatt (Raazi): Is there anything this tiny-sized atom bomb cannot do? Sehmat’s character arc goes from a happy-go-lucky college student in Delhi, to a girl on an espionage mission, to a woman torn between her love for her husband and her country. And she plays all of them with aplomb!

6. Ranbir Kapoor (Sanju): Keeping the hagiographic narrative aside, Sanju gave us some of the best performances of the year. Ranbir Kapoor not only physically transformed into Sanjay Dutt, but displayed various emotions brilliantly. His scenes with his father, Sunil Dutt (Paresh Rawal) were pure gold!

7. Vicky Kaushal (Sanju, Manmarziyaan): 2018 was Vicky Kaushal’s year – 5 releases, 5 completely diverse roles and brilliant in all of them. The best of these were in Sanju and Manmarziyaan, playing Kamlesh and DJ Sandzz. Watch him in the scene outside Rumi’s house in Manmarziyaan – sheer brilliance at display!

8. Taapsee Pannu (Manmarziyaan): Apart from being an underrated movie, Manmarziyaan also gave us an underrated actor. Having seen Taapsee’s work since her initial days in Telugu film industry, she has grown and how!? Manmarziyaan is a proof of her caliber and talent.

9. Rajkummar Rao (Stree): In a mixed year, Rajkummar Rao bounced back with a hilarious performance as the ‘chosen one’ in Stree. Be it his banter with his two best friends or Shahrukh Khan style romancing the ghost, he was perfect!

10. Tabu (Andhadhun): Another negative character, like Ranveer’s Khilji, that you fall in love with. But unlike the menacing Khilji, Tabu as Simi is a whacky murderer who is victim of her own circumstances. Watch her brilliance in the 10-minute long Piano-and-body sequence. She makes it one of the best scenes of the year!

Special Mention: Deepika Padukone (Padmaavat), Radhika Madan – Sanya Malhotra (Pataakha), Ayushmann Khurana (Badhaai Ho, Andhadhun), Radhika Apte-Bhumi Pednekar (Lust Stories), Neena Gupta-Gajraj Rao (Badhaai Ho) and Katrina Kaif (Zero)

NOTE: This list is as on December 25, 2018. Hence, Simmba is not in contention. Also, I have not watched the following high-rated movies and hence, they were also not considered while making this list: Hichki, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, Manto, Love Sonia and Laila Majnu

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

KGF - Movie Review

The stupendous success of Bahubali injected confidence in the more risk-taking southern film industries. While a lot of multilinguals are on the anvil, director Prashanth Neel’s KGF (Kolar Gold Fields) opened in five languages this week. Starring Yash in the lead with a large ensemble, the movie was primarily shot in Kannada, making it Kannada Film Industry’s biggest moment in the limelight. But, does only scale and magnitude make up for the lack of emotional connect? Does mounting a movie with a big budget, make it appealing to audiences across India? Most certainly not!  
In a starkly similar opening as Gangs of Wasseypur (interestingly, it was also a two-part franchise like KGF), we are introduced to the birth of a boy, Ramakrishna AKA Rocky (Yash), born to a single mother in poverty. At the same time in the year 1951, a feudal lord, Suryavardhan (Ramesh Indra) takes over Kolar Mines in Karnataka by force, upon learning of the gold it carried under its surface. Over the next 3 decades (till 1980), Suryavardhan climbs up the ladder of power, might and wealth, along with his partners, by forcefully making the poor work in his mines, which is guarded like a fortress. Meanwhile, Rocky loses his mother, moves to Bombay and in his quest to become rich and powerful, takes the unlawful route. He soon becomes a known goon in Bombay. Expectedly, the story moves to Kolar where half a dozen characters fight it out for the control of KGF.

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As I mentioned, the beginning looks quite like Gangs of Wasseypur, with the mines, the birth of a kid and the thirst for power and might. But what Anurag Kashyap and Akhilesh Jaiswal achieved in a real setting with layered characters, is lost in the blood and gore of KGF. For the first one and half hours, the movie runs in quick shots with a narrator (Anant Nag) revering the invincible Rocky. Most of the story is explained through montage shots and the movie slows to normal pace only for the blood-laden fight sequences. Essentially, it is a series of 2-minute long montage shots followed by a 10-minute long fight sequence. And the cycle repeats. The director and writer, Prashanth Neel, does not give the audience enough time to connect with the characters. It is more engaging in the second half, when the narrative thankfully slows down and starts to build a story. Since the narrative does not let the audience understand the dozen-odd characters in the first half, it ends up an as incoherent mess.

A striking feature of the movie was its off-beat screenplay, which switches between 1970s in Mumbai, 1980s in Kolar, Rocky’s childhood in 1950s and the present day. In the present day, a senior journalist Anand Ingalagi (Anant Nag), who revers and uses atrocious dialogues to mount Rocky on a pedestal, narrates his story to an annoying news anchor, patently similar to Navika Kumar! The flashbacks of Rocky’s unhappy childhood are used well to layer his character and justify his ways. Yash, with a chiseled body, plays the flamboyant goon well. Bagging the only well-written character in the movie, he plays the baddie-hero, for whom ends justify means. All of Suryavardhan’s partners and sons looks like descendants of Kalakeyas from Bahubali – wild beards, messy hair and menacing looks. Tammanah, in a guest appearance as a bar dancer, is called ‘Milky’, which explains the kind of importance the writers give women in the film. The female ‘lead’, Srinidhi Shetty, is barely there for 4 scenes and is as important to the narrative as the background dancers in Yash’s introduction song.

Not only were the gory fight sequences exhausting and repetitive, the overdose of reverential dialogues for Rocky made me dizzy. Every fight sequence is supported by over-drawn praises for the hero, who single-handedly beats 100 people to pulp. The melodramatic scenes showing the atrocities on the slaves in KGF mines remind of Hitler’s holocausts, but even there, the reverential dialogues do not end. Like the people oppressed by Bhalaladeva waited for Amarendra Bahubali, KGF had people wait for their Messiah too. But unlike Bahubali, the pain and gore are crude in KGF and evoke disgust rather than empathy.

At the end of the two-hour-forty-minutes tirade, I was tired and emotionally exhausted. KGF had flesh and blood in abundance – both literally and figuratively. All it lacked is some soul. As I exited the theatre, all I could do is dread the second part!

My Rating – 1.5/5

Friday, December 21, 2018

Zero - Movie Review

It is almost 2019 and the Indian audiences have exposure to some of the best Sci-Fi movies from the other side of the world. Yet, we have a big-ticket Hindi movie insulting our intelligence! Director Aanand L Rai’s biggest movie till date, Zero, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif is an ambitious idea, killed by lazy and uninspiring writing.

Baua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) is a 38-year old son of a well-to-do Meerut-based businessman, Ashok (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Baua is spirited, fun-loving singleton with just one drawback – he is physically stunted. At 4 feet 6 inch, he is short, but not in ambition. Along with his motley of friends, especially the half-blind Guddu (Zeeshan Ayyub), Baua idolizes, loves and revers reigning star Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif). He is the quintessential fanboy from the Hindi heartland – wear shirts with Babita’s pictures, dances in gay abandon, calls her ‘iss ghar ki bahu’ and even throws a bundle of money to celebrate her break-up with a ‘Kapoor’ (too much of reel-life mirroring real-life)! Here enters Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a renowned space researcher with Cerebral Palsy. The rest of the movie is an overdrawn mixture of unnecessary and illogical twists, filled with dozens of cameos. (Spoiler Alert – There is Sridevi as well <3 o:p="">

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The problem with Zero majorly lies in its story and execution. I pity the lead actors for their earnest efforts, because only they seem to have complete conviction in the narrative, even when the screenplay and the direction falter. Writer Himanshu Sharma is known for his witty dialogues, best of which were seen in Tanu Weds Manu, and does not disappoint here. The dialogues are effervescent, funny and with a lot of references to yesteryear’s Bollywood. It is in the screenplay that Himanshu disappoints. There is no mention of what Aafia’s disability is. (I got to know from Wiki and IMDB that it was Cerebral Palsy) The love story between Aafia, a renowned scientist, and Baua, a ‘Tenth Pass’, is not built well enough and when they part ways, it comes up as an unconvincing plot twist. The audiences wonder what really led to these chain of events – was it just to lead up to the fantasy-like Sci-Fi filled second half? Only the makers can answer!

I understand that a movie with the Badshaah of Romance does not necessarily need scientific logic. Even at this age, Shah Rukh Khan has his charm intact and his trademark romance is in full display in the beautifully shot song, ‘Mere Naam Tu’. But before the launch of a spacecraft, as a checklist, if a character asks the lead scientist on the space mission – ‘Maths Theek Hai?’ and she replies ‘Yes’, it appears fake and reflects on the lazy writing! Even the ‘scientists’ in the mediocre ‘Krishh’ had better and more intelligent questions to ask! While it does not ridicule or poke fun at physical disabilities – something commonly seen in Bollywood comedies – it does reduce them to outliers amongst normal people. It is understandable that people with stunted growth are poked fun at or called ‘Bauna’, but not even discussing about the disability of a lead actor and referring to her as ‘Hilti rehti hai’ is almost like ridiculing them and their abilities. Even Guddu, played by Zeeshan Ayyub, is shown to be partially blind and is made to evoke laughs with his improper demeanor.

Giving credit where it’s due, the camerawork by Manu Anand and the music by Ajay Atul are top-notch. The next best thing about the movie is the performances by all the three leads. Anushka Sharma looks beautiful and delivers well, though she seems like a caricature before you get used to her. Shah Rukh Khan is sure to charm his fans with his trademarks histrionics – he has a charming flamboyance, perfect comic timing and repeats his favorite tropes – wide-stretched arms and ’toote hue taare’. Honestly, he does not look like a physically stunted man – his body is not disproportionate or has smaller hands. He just looks like a man shrunk in his size by the ray gun from Honey I Shrunk the Kids! Kamal Haasan looked more believable in his 1989-hit, Appu Raja. But SRK’s charm lets you overlook it. The other performance that made me sit up and take notice was by Katrina Kaif! I think after Namaste London, this was the first time she tried emoting. Playing an almost autobiographical role, she displays the insecurities and sadness that some of the biggest actors in our country go through. Though a relatively smaller role, she shows the vulnerabilities of a superstar ‘jiska poora UP deewana hai’, who puts up a happy fa├žade for the outside world while crumbling within. Zeeshan Ayyub is the only one who stands out among the supporting cast and is fine as the supportive friend/sidekick.

The culprits here are writer Himanshu Sharma and director Aanand Rai, for making an insipid and uneven movie. If not for the audiences, they should have worked better at least for the hard-work put in by the leads. While the movie’s name itself says Zero, thanks to the lead actors, I would rate this movie slightly higher!

My Rating – 2/5

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Kedarnath - Movie Review

This week’s release, Kedarnath, brings an interesting collaboration between two contrasting film personalities – director Abhishek Kapoor and writer Kanika Dhillon. I say contrasting because if you have followed Kanika Dhillon’s work, she gives a distinct voice to the female protagonist and requires abled filmmakers to bring that out beautifully. Abhishek Kapoor, though extremely ambitious in his scale and execution, slightly falters in building his characters emotionally. And both these traits are visible in Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput starrer, Kedarnath. Unfortunately, it is not a great blend.

The story was predictable from the trailer itself – an inter-faith love story set against the backdrop of the devastating Uttarakhand floods of 2013. Mandakini ‘Mukku’ (Sara Ali Khan) is a feisty, confident and a frank girl, born to a Pandit’s family in Kedarnath. Belonging to a well-to-do family that runs lodges in Kedarnath, she is an outlier. She cusses, picks up petty fights, has a sharp tongue that does not even spare her opportunistic father and openly woos the guy she likes. As one would expect, she falls for a Muslim Pitthoo (the ones who carry pilgrims on their back), Mansoor Khan (Sushant Singh Rajput). The love blooms in the backdrop of a picturesque Kedarnath, till the deluge hits them and wipes the city off.

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As I mentioned, the story has a distinctive Kanika Dhillon stamp. Her stories always revolve around the female protagonists and includes a third wheel. Third wheels like Simran (Sonal Chauhan) in Size Zero, Vicky (Vikky Kaushal) in Manmarziyaan have had strong roles in her stories. Interestingly, while we do have a romantic antagonist in Kedarnath, I felt Brinda (Pooja Gor), who plays Mukku’s elder sister was the third wheel in this case. The writer deserves another brownie point for creating a sub-track on the friction between the two sisters, which adds to the main love story. Also, like Sweety (Anushka Shetty) in Size Zero and Rumi (Taapsee Pannu) in Manmarziyaan, Mukku is a girl who lives on her own terms. It was refreshing to see a female lead eyeing the male protagonist and wooing him. It could have looked awkward, given the rural setting, but the dialogues (also by Kanika Dhillon) give us some endearing moments. The progression of their love story, while taking Pitthoo rides from Kedarnath to Rambada have been developed well. Making her debut, after repeated delays, Sara Ali Khan appears confident and makes a promising start. Dressed in best of the clothes, which seem out of place given where the movie is set, Sara looks comfortable in the character and delivers a variety of emotions, though she needs to work on her romantic lines. It is a well written role for an actor to make her debut with.

Complementing her well, Sushant Singh Rajput, delivers a strong performance. His shy demeanor and hushed smiles in reply to a flirting Mukku, are a delight to watch. There are a few sequences where the religion of Mansoor and their communal difference are touched upon, but these never come out convincingly. Director Abhishek Kapoor’s 2013-hit, Kai Po Che, set against a communally fragile Gujarat riots had a better weaving of the story of three friends in a communally disturbed environment. Here, it seems rather forced because during the development of the love track between Mukku and Mansoor, their different faiths never really comes out. Again, this is the fallacy of Abhishek Kapoor, where he assumes the audiences are emotionally connected and hence keeps certain things unsaid. And this is how the movie starts to crumble in the second half, where suddenly a love story is meddled with religion at first and then an overdrawn sequence of the Kedarnath floods. The tonality of the movie changed completely in the last 10 minutes, when it seemed more like a documentary on Kedarnath floods and not a love story that it began as. Not to mention, the graphics and VFX used for creating the flood scenes looked very mediocre. Giving credit where it is due, the music by Amit Trivedi and Cinematography by Tushar Ray are beautiful and bring Kedarnath alive. I almost packed by bags to visit this picturesque place!

Kedarnath had way too much cramped in a run time of 2 hours– a beautiful love story, inter-religion troubles, the rampant urbanization and the devastating deluge! If not for the strong performances by the leads, despite the deluge in the end, the movie may leave you high and dry.

My Rating – 3/5 (0.5 just for Sara and Sushant)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

2.0 - Movie Review

Sci-Fi is a much-loved genre, though seldom experimented by Indian filmmakers. Director Shankar, with a penchant for making technologically advanced movies, takes his ode to the Robotic world in 2010 blockbuster, Enthiran, to the next level. This is not Sci-Fi. This is Tech-Fantasy. 2.0, starring Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson, is a visual extravagance with a larger-than-life canvas and spellbinding VFX. It also gives us a strong rival for Krish, the only other desi superhero, in the form of Chitti 2.0. But, can the VFX and the heavy-lifting action sequences alone lift the movie? I certainly do not think so!

The movie begins with a mysterious phenomenon where cellphones disappear into thin air. Whether it is an extra-terrestrial interference, a miracle, some sort of witchcraft or plain robbery – nobody seems to have a clue. Enter Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth), with his bot-assistant Nila (Amy Jackson), who use holographic maps, high-end gadgets and gizmos to track the supernatural force, created by a bird-lover Ornithologist (go google what it means), Pakshi Rajan (Akshay Kumar).The rest of the movie, as evident from its trailer, is about Vaseegaran using his brainchild, Chitti 2.0 to fight the evil forces to save the mankind!

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While the motive behind the antagonist in this case is not evil – he tries to save birds from the harmful cellular radiations. But, it does not come out as convincing as it should have. It is a fact that such big-budget magnum opuses do not warrant a review, since they are solely meant for entertainment and not to look for logics. But, in Enthiran, the logic is weaved in such a way that the audience connects with it – it is a first attempt at making a Robot, which goes rogue. This is where 2.0 feels disconnected. The story takes quite a while to reach the explanation, but by then, the audience is no longer invested in the story. Also, at the basic level, this is a typical supernatural movie story. Replace ghost with a technology-driven ‘Aura’ (as they like to call it) and replace witchcraft with ‘Photon Synthesizer Neutralizer’. I am not tech savvy, but I must admit some of the gadgets looked like cheap toys and reminded me of the primitive ‘Time-Machine’ from Singeetam Srinivas’s 1993 superhit, Aditya 369. Not to mention the climax can remind one of Transformers and Antman.

Giving credit where it is due, the makers leave no stone unturned in making this a visual treat. The opulence aside, the brilliant cinematography by Nirav Shah perfectly adds to the grandeur. The wide-angle shots, the action scenes in the climax and even an unimportant scene of the approaching ‘Mobile-menace’ shown in a dog’s eyes – the camerawork is brilliant! While the effects looked sloppy in the trailer, the VFX was top-notch in the movie and was on par with some of the biggest Hollywood superhero films. I also enjoyed Rajini as Chitti 2.0 and Kutti, during the climax. He was fun and added quirk to the fight sequences. Akshay Kumar as Pakshi Rajan is decent and looks menacing as the ‘Mobile Man’ villain. Amy Jackson, with the perfect excuse of being a Robot, manages to sail through the movie with a single expression. Honestly, she did have a rather meaty role, making me wonder wasn’t she highlighted during the promotions or on the posters.

Touted to be the most expensive film ever made in India, the efforts given to the technical details in 2.0 are clearly visible. While it truly is a film to be proud of, for its technical brilliance, I wish it had some substance as well. Because no matter how good it was visually, I left the theatre not completely satiated. Dot.

My Rating – 2.5/5