Category Archives: Movie Review

Sardar Udham Movie Review: Vicky Kaushal film sparkles but misses soul

Vicky Kaushal plays the lead role in Shoojit Sircar’s Sardar Udham. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

It isn’t easy making a biopic or a film inspired by true events. Well, Shoojit Sircar refuses to call Sardar Udham a biopic and it’s obvious why. Sardar Udham’s name might not evoke an immediate memory, as opposed to a Bhagat Singh. And there is very little information about his life and events leading to his martyrdom. Udham wasn’t a mainstream name in the revolutionary fight leading up to Independence, but he was responsible for the one event that changed the course of history as we know it. Sardar Udham assassinated Michael O’Dwyer, who was Punjab’s Lieutenant Governor when the Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred in Amritsar, on 13 April 1919.

Sardar Udham has Vicky Kaushal play the lead role and take on one of the most complex and challenging roles of his career. The film oscillates between the present and past, giving us flashbacks of what led Udham on his path of vengeance. The Jallianwala Bagh incident serves as a catalyst in Udham’s journey to England where he acts on his instinct and shoots O’Dwyer point-blank. But Shoojit’s movie is not about this stand-alone incident. In fact, the first hour or so of the film introduces us to Udham, his friends, the early influences in his life. There is also a cameo by Amol Parashar who plays Bhagat Singh, perhaps the only other name apart from O’Dwyer that’s etched in our history pages.

Udham’s journey in the pre-Independence days, leading up to his imprisonment, hearing and then death by hanging is all chronicled from a single point of view – his mind. The first hour of the film opens the floodgates to what it must have been like to be so angry, frustrated and obsessed with rage to follow one’s instincts, travel across the sea, use every possible help to seek the ultimate revenge.

Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography has a lasting impression as it captures everything from the claustrophobic cells to the snow-capped landscapes of the former USSR. Camera work is one of the strongest assets of Sardar Udham. Also, technically, this is perhaps Shoojit’s most ambitious film and that reflects in every department be it background score, set design or costume. Much attention is paid to detail in creating the era, Shoojit’s team has taken the effort to also understand body language, the walk, tonality of characters and also cast some amazing talents who play important members in the British force – namely Shaun Scott who plays Michael O’Dwyer and Stephen Hogan as Detective Inspector John Swain. None of the supporting cast feel like extras on a film and everyone has a purpose and a reason to be in the film.

However, even though the film has technical finesse, it has several hiccups in the way it builds its narrative. Not wanting to be jingoistic or resort to chest-thumping, Shoojit underplays his lead character to such an extent that at times his efforts feel underwhelming. He might not be a Bhagat Singh delivering fiery speeches, yet there is something amiss about Udham, especially in the first half as we are introduced to him. The pace and long-drawn scenes (there is one with Vicky walking endlessly through miles of icy fields) do very little to hold your attention.

The big massacre scene, which sends shivers down your spine, is saved for the very end as we come closer to Udham’s unravelling. Vicky looks the part and there is immense mental homework, deep-diving into the mindset of this character that seems to have helped him in some really tough scenes. But, eventually, the film wears you down with its lack of pace and long-drawn scenes that sometimes seem to go nowhere.

Sardar Udham’s run-time does very little to keep you captivated. Especially for the OTT format, pace and run-time are factors that play a very important role in your overall experience.

Sardar Udham deserves a watch for Vicky’s efforts and Shoojit’s vision in creating a canvas that tells the story of one of India’s most underplayed revolutionary heroes.

Taapsee’s Rashmi Rocket to Alia’s Gangubai Kathiawadi, 2021-2022 films led by women

Taapsee Pannu’s Rashmi Rocket and Shabaash Mithu to Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi and Darlings, women take the lead in many new films. Here’s the full list.

Movie theatres are back in business and the Hindi film industry couldn’t be more thrilled. While many production houses turned to OTT as the novel coronavirus pandemic confined us to our homes, things are finally getting back on track. In fact, after the Maharashtra government announced reopening of cinemas in the state, makers of big-ticket Bollywood films started announcing release dates of much-anticipated movies. From Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi to Ranveer Singh’s 83, Bollywood Calendar 2021-2022 has something for everyone.

The 2021-2022 calendar also has many films that are driven by strong female leads. From Taapsee Pannu’s Rashmi Rocket and Shabaash Mithu to Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi and Darlings, we have a list of upcoming films centered on powerful women – fictional and real.
TAAPSEE PANNU’S RASHMI ROCKET

Taapsee Pannu-starrer Rashmi Rocket premiered on Zee5 on October 15. Directed by Akarsh Khurana, the sports drama also stars Abhishek Banerjee and Priyanshu Painyuli. The film narrates the story of a small-town girl Rashmi, who aspires to be an athlete. She follows her dreams and becomes a national-level fast-runner, but her glory is hindered when she is asked to undergo gender tests. Rashmi Rocket is produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Neha Anand and Pranjal.

ALIA BHATT’S GANGUBAI KATHIAWADI

Gangubai Kathiawadi is a biographical crime drama based on Hussain Zaidi’s book, Mafia Queens of Mumbai. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and produced by Jayantilal Gada, the film also stars Ajay Devgn and Shantanu Maheshwari. The upcoming film narrates the story of a woman named Ganga, played by Alia Bhatt, who becomes a madame named Gangubai in the red light area of Kamathipura. The story shows how she rose to power, fighting one challenge after another. Gangubai Kathiawadi is set to release in theatres on January 6, 2022.

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, KATRINA KAIF AND ALIA BHATT’S JEE LE ZARA

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt will come together for Jee Le Zara. Directed by actor Farhan Akhtar, the film is written by him, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti. After Dil Chahta Hai and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the next road-trip movie, Jee Le Zara, will have the girls taking out the car. About time, right?

TAAPSEE PANNU’S SHABAASH MITHU

Taapsee Pannu will be seen essaying the role of cricketer Mithali Raj in her upcoming film, Shabaash Mithu. Directed by Srijit Mukherjee, it is produced by Ajit Andhare. Mithali is the only former cricketer to lead the Indian Women’s Cricket team in two World Cups, in the years 2005 and 2017. She announced her retirement from cricket in 2019, after completing 20 years in the game. The biopic, Shabaash Mithu, aims to bring her life and struggles to the big screen.

Shiddat Movie Review: Mohit Raina carries this Radhika Madan, Sunny Kaushal film

Shiddat Movie Review: Disney+Hotstar film Shiddat is old wine in a new bottle, but the one that will make you say cheers. Directed by Kunal Deshmukh, the film stars Radhika Madan, Sunny Kaushal, Mohit Raina and Diana Penty.

All you need is love, crooned the iconic Beatles in the Swinging Sixties. Cut to 2021 and director Kunal Deshmukh still doesn’t wish to differ with his cinematic offerings on love and relationship. Hence, Shiddat! Starring Radhika Madan as Kartika Negi, Sunny Kaushal as Jaggi Sehgal, Mohit Raina as Gautam Kapoor and Diana Penty as Ira Sharma, the Disney+Hotstar flick is yet another example that times have changed but love stories in Hindi films won’t.

That said, bad is what Shiddat is not. Yes, it is rather a very long attempt to show the same old Yash Raj-themed love story, but it is a one-time watch for people who are looking for good time pass entertainment. There is comedy, romance, many contrived emotional scenes and loss, but one can sit down and watch this fairly presented film.

Shiddat opens with Gautam Kapoor (Mohit Raina) and Ira Sharma (Diana Penty) taking French classes together. While Gautam, an Indian Foreign Service officer, learns the language for a promotion at his job, Ira, a social worker, wants to go to Paris. They fall in love with each other despite their differences. In no time they tie the knot. At their wedding reception party, they meet Jaggi Sehgal (Sunny Kaushal), the guy who crashes their wedding.

Jaggi is a happy-go-lucky person, who plays hockey for the Punjab state team. At the reception party, Jaggi gets so inspired by Gautam’s love philosophy that he makes up his mind that if he ever falls in love, he’ll go to any lengths for it. A few months later Jaggi meets Kartika Negi (Radhika Madan). She is a young and smart swimmer, who bumps into Jaggi at their sports complex. While Jaggi is our pind da munda, Kartika lives with her parents in London, UK. She comes to India to win a swimming championship before she gets married.

Jaggi and Kartika start on a bitter note, but in no time she realises that she is attracted to him. While Kartika wins the championship, Jaggi ends up getting heartbroken as he comes to know that the love of his life is getting married to someone else. Kartika leaves for London and Jaggi decides to go after her, break her wedding and spend life with her.

For Shiddat, the fault lies in that there is emphasis placed on melodrama and forced dialogues. But the acting of the actors somehow makes up for that. Sunny Kaushal’s dialogue deliveries and convincing performance will win your heart. Though Radhika Madan and Diana Penty get extremely limited screen time in comparison to their male counterparts, the ladies leave a mark as free-spirited, practical and open-minded women. And lastly, Mohit Raina, without whom Shiddat would have looked like another failed attempt to remake DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge). His effortless acting is pleasant to watch. For director Kunal Deshmukh, who has made films like Tum Mile and Jannat, Shiddat is not the best he has delivered so far. But, he did extract outstanding performances from the principal cast.

Bhoot Police Movie Review: Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor film is no Stree, but is fun in parts

Bhoot Police is enjoyable in parts. It does have its much-required comic elements but the film feels dragged in others. Bhoot Police will give you the chills but the inconsistent writing drifts you away.

Horror is a genre that Bollywood has not had quite a success with so far. In the recent past, several filmmakers have experimented with the horror-comedy genre as well and only a few films have been able to hit the right spot. Amongst them, Stree, was perhaps, the most memorable outing with a sharp feminist comment on the age-old fear of audacious and desirous women. Bhoot Police comes from a director who has experimented with the horror genre in his previous films (Ragini MMS, Darr @ The Mall and Phobia). Only this time, director Pavan Kripalani has ventured into the horror-comedy space. Do ghosts exist or is it just our ‘andhvishwas’ that leads us to believe in something that is not palpable? Bhoot Police pretty much revolves around this subject and keeps the viewers entertained with cracker one-liners and frequent spooks (or at least they have tried).

Vibhooti Baba (Saif Ali Khan) and Chiraunji Baba (Arjun Kapoor) are two ghostbuster brothers. While one (Vibhooti) loves to dupe the people for their money on the pretext of ridding them of spirits, the other (Chiraunji) is not happy with this way of making a living. He tries to convince his brother to take up a ‘real case’ because they are tantriks and they have a bigger purpose. One day Maya (Yami Gautam) comes looking for Ullat Baba since there is a Kichkandi in her tea estate. 27 years ago, Vibhooti and Chiraunji’s father Ullat Baba helped them get rid of the spirit. This time when Maya comes in search of him, she meets his sons instead. Obviously, they agree to help. The ghostbuster brothers reach Silawar Tea Estate only to unravel some twists in the tale.

Saif Ali Khan has a remarkable screen presence and it is his dialogues that keep you entertained throughout. His one-liners are enough to crack you up. You will enjoy his antics but certain parts feel redundant. It is Saif’s impeccable comic timing that gives the film its much-needed edge. Arjun Kapoor as Chiraunji is more of the serious type – the innocent and righteous sibling. Arjun and Saif have the maximum screen time, but the latter manages to snatch the spotlight away each time. Arjun struggles but makes an impression. Yami is good, but of course, we have seen her play better. Yami as Maya is this determined daughter who is bent on saving her father’s legacy, the tea estate, from being lost. Jacqueline Fernandez plays Maya’s sassy influencer sister Kanika, who wants to sell everything off and move to London. The actress has a forgettable appearance.

To add to the comedy quotient, the makers introduce us to the characters of Chedilal (Jaaved Jaaferi), Google Baba (Rajpal Yadav) and Hari Kumar (Amit Mistry). However, it only meets the purpose to some extent.

Bhoot Police is enjoyable in parts. It does have its much-required comic elements but the film feels dragged in others. Bhoot Police will give you the chills but the inconsistent writing drifts you away. Had the editing been tighter and the writing more coherent, this could have been a compelling watch. In some parts, it is the age-old tricks and drills that come into play which is a tad disappointing. The USP of the film is definitely Saif Ali Khan.

Now, to the important question – should you watch this film? Bhoot Police is no Stree but if you are looking for a break from the monotony of serious and nerve-wracking films, this definitely can be on your watchlist. Of course, Saif Ali Khan is the other reason why you can switch to Disney+Hotstar’s Bhoot Police.

Bhoot Police Movie Review: Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor film is no Stree, but is fun in parts

Bhoot Police is enjoyable in parts. It does have its much-required comic elements but the film feels dragged in others. Bhoot Police will give you the chills but the inconsistent writing drifts you away.

Horror is a genre that Bollywood has not had quite a success with so far. In the recent past, several filmmakers have experimented with the horror-comedy genre as well and only a few films have been able to hit the right spot. Amongst them, Stree, was perhaps, the most memorable outing with a sharp feminist comment on the age-old fear of audacious and desirous women. Bhoot Police comes from a director who has experimented with the horror genre in his previous films (Ragini MMS, Darr @ The Mall and Phobia). Only this time, director Pavan Kripalani has ventured into the horror-comedy space. Do ghosts exist or is it just our ‘andhvishwas’ that leads us to believe in something that is not palpable? Bhoot Police pretty much revolves around this subject and keeps the viewers entertained with cracker one-liners and frequent spooks (or at least they have tried).

Vibhooti Baba (Saif Ali Khan) and Chiraunji Baba (Arjun Kapoor) are two ghostbuster brothers. While one (Vibhooti) loves to dupe the people for their money on the pretext of ridding them of spirits, the other (Chiraunji) is not happy with this way of making a living. He tries to convince his brother to take up a ‘real case’ because they are tantriks and they have a bigger purpose. One day Maya (Yami Gautam) comes looking for Ullat Baba since there is a Kichkandi in her tea estate. 27 years ago, Vibhooti and Chiraunji’s father Ullat Baba helped them get rid of the spirit. This time when Maya comes in search of him, she meets his sons instead. Obviously, they agree to help. The ghostbuster brothers reach Silawar Tea Estate only to unravel some twists in the tale.

Saif Ali Khan has a remarkable screen presence and it is his dialogues that keep you entertained throughout. His one-liners are enough to crack you up. You will enjoy his antics but certain parts feel redundant. It is Saif’s impeccable comic timing that gives the film its much-needed edge. Arjun Kapoor as Chiraunji is more of the serious type – the innocent and righteous sibling. Arjun and Saif have the maximum screen time, but the latter manages to snatch the spotlight away each time. Arjun struggles but makes an impression. Yami is good, but of course, we have seen her play better. Yami as Maya is this determined daughter who is bent on saving her father’s legacy, the tea estate, from being lost. Jacqueline Fernandez plays Maya’s sassy influencer sister Kanika, who wants to sell everything off and move to London. The actress has a forgettable appearance.

To add to the comedy quotient, the makers introduce us to the characters of Chedilal (Jaaved Jaaferi), Google Baba (Rajpal Yadav) and Hari Kumar (Amit Mistry). However, it only meets the purpose to some extent.

Bhoot Police is enjoyable in parts. It does have its much-required comic elements but the film feels dragged in others. Bhoot Police will give you the chills but the inconsistent writing drifts you away. Had the editing been tighter and the writing more coherent, this could have been a compelling watch. In some parts, it is the age-old tricks and drills that come into play which is a tad disappointing. The USP of the film is definitely Saif Ali Khan.

Now, to the important question – should you watch this film? Bhoot Police is no Stree but if you are looking for a break from the monotony of serious and nerve-wracking films, this definitely can be on your watchlist. Of course, Saif Ali Khan is the other reason why you can switch to Disney+Hotstar’s Bhoot Police.

Bell Bottom Movie Review: Swashbuckler Akshay Kumar saves India and theatres once again

Bell Bottom Movie Review: Akshay Kumar is on a mission – to pull the audience back into the theatres.

Movie Name: Bell Bottom
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Huma Qureshi
Director: Ranjit Tewari

It is simple protocol that RAW agents have to be known by a code name, in order, of course, to keep their identity a secret. Akshay Kumar’s Anshul instinctively opts for ‘Bell Bottom’ during his training. He is literally thrust into RAW, at a time when India is grappling with back-to-back hijacks, the inevitable hostage negotiations that follow and the ultimate freeing of captured terrorists along with crores of money to ensure no lives are lost. It is the 80s, Indira Gandhi (played by Lara Dutta) holds the Prime Ministers’s chair, with her trusted aide, RN Kao (Denzil Smith) by her side.

Akshay Kumar has flair. And sometimes a bit extra too. Even though Anshul wasn’t meant for or didn’t intend to come into this line of work, he seamlessly fits right in. Director Ranjit Tewari (of Lucknow Central fame), however, doesn’t go full out sprinkling the trademark Akki charm on us; he tries hard to keep the flamboyance of Akshay, the actor, and buoyancy of Akshay’s gait – swishing the hem of his extra-flared bell-bottoms – in check. Which is why perhaps the only whistle-worthy dialogue in the film – something about a dog, daddy and RAW – was given to Adil Hussain, to be delivered in his deadpan humour. This bottom-of-the-barrel dialogue, however, should have been entirely avoided. But a Bollywood masala movie director can do only so much; ultimately the slow-motion shots take over.

The first half of the film is spent in establishing the premise, laboriously, if you may. Anshul is given a backstory to justify he has vested interest in cracking the hijacking case at hand, and isn’t doing so simply for the country. Vaani Kapoor and Akshay even get a song – Marjaawan – the only one that makes it to the screen, apart from Tum Aaogey at the very end, to establish his earnestness. In the process, the actual mission of freeing the hijacked hostages is pushed (read cramped) to the second half.

Pakistan is still the enemy in 1983 – not much has changed between 1971 in Bhuj The Pride Of India and 1999 in Shershaah. A master move sends Pakistan into a frenzy. If only Indo-Pak relations, the hijackings, and international affairs were that simple.

Anshul has a plan, and then a backup and then a backup ka bhi backup because mummy kehti thi. And thus we have about 20 minutes of adrenaline-pumping suspense, hand-to-hand combat, but no bloodshed because Dubai ki mitti mein khoon nahi baha sakte. Like the crease of those crisp bell-bottoms Akshay dons, everything falls into place in a straight line. Even those that don’t, are so predictable that you see it coming like the Indian Airlines Flight 405 – one of the many hijacks this inspired-by-true-events (for example, the IC 814 hijacking) film borrows from.

Akshay can pull off such roles while he is parkouring from buildings. No surprises there. Adil and Lara do their job well, although Lara’s team of make-up artists deserve applause. Denzil remains a mute spectator throughout, save one dialogue about RAW’s honour. Vaani and Huma Qureshi, have very little screen time, but even in that, while Vaani gets a song, Huma gets a fight scene. Win-win. Zain Khan Durrani is excellent in his role. Unlike most films that portray such characters as loud, expletive-mouthing jihadis, Zain chooses to play the character subtly, letting his evil shine through his quiet eyes. It is, however, slightly heartbreaking to see him like this after the poetic Alfaaz in Onir’s Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz. But, kudos to the actor.

Finally, is it entertaining? Yes, as much as any Akshay Kumar film. Add to that the thrill of watching a film in theatres after what seems like an eternity and 3D-viewing, and you have a winner. Ultimately, we’re just happy that we’re a step closer to being business as usual at the movies.

Shah Rukh Khan reviews Shershaah, calls Sidharth Malhotra’s performance solid

Shah Rukh Khan has reviewed Shershaah. The megastar praised Sidharth Malhotra’s performance in the film.

Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani-starrer Shershaah was released on Amazon Prime Video today. The film has been receiving praises from all centres. Sidharth Malhotra, especially, is being praised for his performance in the film. Now, Shah Rukh Khan has reviewed Shershaah. The megastar lauded the film in his latest tweet.
SHAH RUKH KHAN REVIEWS SHERSHAAH

Shershaah traces the life of Param Vir Chakra awardee and Indian Army Captain Vikram Batra. Sharing his thoughts on the film, Shah Rukh Khan wrote, “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live – King, Jr. Watching the impactful story of legendary Kargil War hero Capt. Vikram Batra (PVC), on screen makes us realise the meaning of this quote. Watch #Shershaah with Sid’s solid performance.

SHERSHAAH REVIEW

Shershaah has been receiving rave reviews from critics. IndiaToday.in’s Ananya Bhattacharya gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5 and wrote, “Most of the credit for that goes to the lead man, Sidharth Malhotra. The actor puts on the uniform and becomes Vikram Batra. Will Shershaah be Sidharth’s Uri though? Wish the film had had a theatre release! In her limited screentime, Kiara Advani leaves a mark on you. Dimple, however, remains as elusive as her real-life counterpart.

Hungama 2 Movie Review: Shilpa Shetty, Meezaan’s film fails to recreate Priyadarshan magic

Priyadarshan’s Hungama 2 is the continuation of his 2003 film of the same name. While it is mildly entertaining, it fails to recreate the laughter we expect from a Priyadarshan film.

Priyadarshan brought a bombshell of laughter to the screen with Hungama. Paresh Rawal’s Radheshyam Tiwari and the confusion caused by the name Anjali set up the right pretext for an entertaining, slapstick comedy of errors. And that’s what was expected of Hungama 2, if not more. However, the sequel, which in no true sense is a continuation of the 2003 classic, disappoints on many parameters. It creates a ruckus, and only sporadic laughter.

With Hungama 2, Priyadarshan is making a comeback to the Hindi film industry after a break of almost eight years. The film stars Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Meezaan Jaffri, Paresh Rawal, Ashutosh Rana and Pranitha Subash, among others. Like its predecessor, the film promises to be a laugh riot, born out of confusion. However, it lacks in writing. We are welcomed by the trademark Priyadarshan style of cinema, but we missed the flow and fast-paced situational comedy. The magic of the director seems to appear in bits and pieces throughout the film.

Hungama 2 doesn’t pick up from where the 2003 film left. It is a new film altogether, with its own ruckus in place. Shilpa Shetty’s Anjali is not the central character, but supports Meezaan’s Aakash in his life struggle. Ashutosh Rana plays Aakash’s father, Kapoor, and once again delivers a spectacular performance. Paresh Rawal as Anjali’s husband Tiwari struggles with a lack of trust and doubts his wife. Vaani, played by Pranitha Subash, is the cause of all the hungama in the film.

If you think the list of actors is over, then you are wrong. The film boasts of some of the biggest names in the Indian comedy scene. From Johny Lever and Rajpal Yadav to Manoj Joshi and Tiku Talsania, Hungama 2 has all the staple actors from every Priyadarshan film. At one point, Rajpal Yadav single-handedly manages to keep the film afloat with his impeccable comic timing when we lose all our hopes in this film. Johny Lever is clearly underutilised and we are still wondering why he was even part of the film in the first place. Talking about the lead characters, Paresh Rawal delivers what is expected of him, but there are no surprises. Shilpa Shetty is also satisfactory as the wife of a doubtful husband. But most of the time she appears as just a side character. Meezaan Jaffri brings energy to most of the scenes, while most of the time his animated and dramatic actions while performing compel us to question their need. Pranitha is subtle and doesn’t leave any long-lasting impressions.

Hungama 2 is entertaining in parts, but that was not expected of Priyadarshan, who is known for making unforgettable comedies. The film appears to be stretched a lot and is filled with predictable and cliched dialogues. Having said that, it is still a watchable film for all the nostalgia it may bring to the true-blue Priyadarshan movie fans.

Jagame Thandiram Movie Review: Weak Script, Careless Editing Make Dhanush-starrer a Bore

Kartik Subbaraj’s Jagame Thandiram, starring Dhanush sets itself a lofty goal, but begins to limp in the first few minutes due to its weak script.

Jagame Thandiram

Director: Karthik Subbaraj

Cast: Dhanush, Aishwarya Lekshmi, James Cosmo

Tamil cinema still, in this day and age, believes that a film must pack into its runtime every aspect of life and living or just about. Director Karthik Subbaraj’s almost three-hour long gangster adventure mostly set in London, Jagame Thandhiram, just does this, giving us a taste of dances, fights with bullets narrowly missing one’s ears and the radical side of British politics. Yes, you heard me right, with some of that country’s leaders trying to stop immigration of especially brown and Black people – with special reference to Sri Lankan Tamils — and deport them.
Immigration may be a pressing issue in countries across continents, but that a young man from Madurai – who runs a “parotta” eatery by the day turning into a sickle-weaving thug after sunset — should pop into London to “sort” things out appears farfetched, even with our thinking hats off. And this young man is none other than Suruli, played by Dhanush (who is increasingly copying father-in-law Rajinikanth’s mannerisms), a small-time gangster from Madurai.

With his marriage being called off at the eleventh hour, Suruli becomes an even bigger desperado willing to place his neck on the block, and flies to London.. While Suruli is turning the city into a bloody mess, I began to wonder what the heck Scotland Yard was doing! Come on, England is not the badlands somewhere in Africa or closer home. But with blazing guns and whizzing bullets, Suruli vanquishes the foes, taking on dozens of men singlehandedly to emerge supreme. This is imagination gone berserk.

Penned by Subbaraj, the movie is just a one line plot: Suruli is hired by racist British mobster, Peter (James Cosmos), in faraway Madurai to kill his rival, Sivadoss (Joju George), a Sri Lankan Tamil. Suruli’s girlfriend, Attila (Aishwarya Lekshmi), is at best a flower-vase on the mantlepiece, but she does turn him into a Sri Lankan Tamil sympathiser, and it takes just one weepy story from her to convert our man.

The film sets itself a lofty goal, but begins to limp in the first few minutes. Scripted shabbily and edited with little care, it fails to invest in this theme. Instead, it goes all out to make a hero out of Dhanush, who has been coming up with the same, jaded performance for a long time. He probably has potential, but would need a good and imaginative director to get him out of his comfort zone. And, the kind of bloody violence that Subbaraj dishes out can be difficult to stomach, and his tendency to be another Quentin Tarantino is a pointless exercise.

Sherni Movie Review: Vidya Balan roars in this man-animal jungle on Amazon Prime

Directed by Amit Masurkar, Vidya Balan plays a forest officer trying to resolve man-animal conflicts in Sherni. The film started streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, June 18.

Movie Name: Sherni
Cast: Vidya Balan
Director: Amit Masurkar

Sherni opens to a panoramic view of the forest. You know you have landed in the middle of dense, raw danger. So does Vidya Balan, who plays Divisional Forest Officer Vidya Vincent, in the film. Vidya is here to resolve human-animal conflicts – stuff we read about in the newspapers every day. But her battles go beyond just that. She has to find her own footing as a woman in a man’s world.

Just like the central force of the film – tigers – Vidya also lies low, not from fear, but for aim. She subtly finds her way through the jungle, just as Sherni attempts to journey Hindi cinema to a terrain that has been probed, but not explored.

In Amit Masurkar’s Sherni, we are introduced to India’s wild spaces, which face seemingly unstoppable threats from poaching, deforestation and overgrazing. That’s one side of the story. On the other, there are communities that rely on forest returns for their livelihoods. Meanwhile, cattle and men venturing into the jungle are turning up dead. Yes, a wild cat is on the loose. Caught in the middle of this are forestry officials and our protagonist Vidya Vincent.

Sherni is reminiscent of Avni or T1’s case. The tigress was accused of killing 13 people. After months-long hunt, she was shot dead in 2018 in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, by a civilian hunter-led search accompanied by some forest department officials. Many activists described it as ‘cold-blooded murder’ and the case even reached the Supreme Court of India. The case is still going on with officials trying to find whether Avni was a man-eater or not.

Coming back to Sherni, Vidya soon realises that humans and tigers are both endangered. This fact hits her when lives are lost in the jungle and a politician grabs the opportunity to make big promises about showing the tiger its rightful place – sending it to a zoo or a circus, that is. Even the forest department remains complacent and corrupt. Things are not that different in reel or real lives.