Category Archives: Movie Review

Radhe Movie Review: Salman Khan Floats Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a Bee in Eid Release

Radhe-Your Most Wanted Bhai is a celebration of Salman Khan’s stardom and his own filmography.

Director: Prabhudeva

Salman Khan lives in his own universe, quite literally. With Radhe: The Most Wanted Bhai, he brings back the memories of 2009 hit Wanted that, in a way, started his second innings to superstardom. With Prabhudeva back behind the megaphone, Khan has the license to go back to chequered shirts and his famous bracelet. Needless to say that at least 500 people must have been harmed in the process. Of course, we are not counting the sensitive audience and non-Salman Khan fans.

So, encounter specialist Radhe (Khan) has been brought back from suspension because the Mumbai Police is determined to eradicate the drug menace plaguing the city’s schools. However, the task isn’t as simple as Khan’s signature dance steps, mostly because of the lousy script and patrtly due to the menacing villain Rana (Randeep Hooda), who despite being shadowed by Khan’s mega-stardom manages to make his presence felt.

Prabhudeva has pulled out all the stops and given Bhai the freehand to mouth Eid oriented one-liners and back them with punches. He is faster than a flash and mightier than a mountain, and confronting him is not going to fetch you good results. So, just relax, sit back and see him making mockery of science and logic. You can also cheer if you want to, simply because the makers never promised it to be anything other than what it is: a celebration of Khan’s projected super human abilities around Eid.

You also have Disha Patani breaking into a dance right in the middle of a fight sequence and delivering such unconvincing dialogues that would put even Mithun Chakraborty at an election campaign to shame. I am not even talking about Jackie Shroff who dances in a sleeveless dress.

Radhe is a collage of high-pitched songs and slow-motion shots that made us cringe even five years back. You need to have a high appetite for Khan’s antics to enjoy this one.

Photo-Prem Movie Review: A Paranoia Dealt with Little Conviction

The core plot seems to be covertly lambasting the modern world’s obsession with selfies and photographs, but it is hardly fleshed out.

Directors: Aditya Rathi, Gayatri Patil

Cast: Neena Kulkarni, Amita Khopkar, Vikas Hande, Chaitrali Rode,Sameer Dharmadhikar

The latest Marathi movie, Photo-Prem, on Amazon Prime Video, reminded me of a 2014 Tamil work called Mundasuppati (Turban Village). Here the villagers have a huge phobia about being photographed. The story goes that an ancient superstition about faces being captured on camera will spell doom. The film had a great climax with the village mob chasing our hero, a photographer, as he is eloping on a two-wheeler with his lady love. And the contraption stalls, and in a clever move, he takes out his camera and points it at the angry crowd, which turns around double quick and scoots!

In Photo-Prem, helmed by Aditya Rathi and Gayatri Patel, the protagonist, Sunanda, also addressed respectfully as Maee (played by Neena Kulkarni), is also camera shy to the extent that she has a terrible fear of being being captured by the lens – paranoia that she has had ever since she was a teenager. It is never clear why she feels so, and as she grows older and gets married, it is revealed that she was not even to be seen in her honeymoon pictures. Her boorish husband (Vikas Hande), who keeps lording over her and hardly ever talks to her, complains in one scene that it appeared from the honeymoon pictures that he had gone all by himself. The directors, who are also writers, stretch this a little too far when Sunanda shies away from being photographed even during her own daughter’s marriage.

But this changes when Sunanda attends the funeral of a woman, and notices her family scampering around trying to find a picture of her’s for a newspaper obituary. Later, when Sunanda visits the woman’s home, she sees the picture of a young girl on the wall; obviously the family could not find a later-day picture.

This incident pushes Sunanda to ponder about her own death and how her grandchildren can remember her in the absence of a photo. And the rest of the movie wanders through her attempt, punctuated by reluctance and a deep sense of inexplicable shyness, to get a picture of herself. This sudden obsession is not written with a sense of believable conviction.

And, Photo-Prem seems such a drag even with its relatively short runtime of 90 minutes, peppered as it is with inane situations. Incidents such as an acquaintance repeatedly accosting Sunanda on the street with questions, and her own daily conversations with her house-maid are at best silly, and if the writers had fancied that these would produce laughs, they could not have been wide off the mark.

Raat Baaki Hai movie review: Annup Sonii, Paoli Dam’s ZEE5 film confuses vagueness for intrigue

Paoli Dam walking down a staircase of a palatial haveli in a perfectly draped sari, somewhere in Rajasthan (the film doesn’t bother with specifics), might make for an intriguing start to a whodunnit. Dam, who was the best thing about Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbul, uses her deceptive presence to a similar effect here in Avinash Das’s Raat Baaki Hai. However, the final impact is far from what one might expect. Or depending on your opinion of Zee5, barely surprising. Not for her own fault, Dam’s character, Vasuki, is infuriatingly simple. Having made a career out of playing the Tagore-ian character, who mopes and pines at the dressing table while looking like a million bucks, Dam’s eeriness is short-changed in the Zee5 film. Using her soft voice to cajole the leading man, Kartik (Annup Sonni, the numerology evidently not working for him) into dropping his guard, the film would have worked significantly better if it dug deep with Dam’s character. Instead, it takes the easy way out and plays out like a conventional murder mystery, where murders look awfully synthetic, and the mystery barely makes it past the first act.

A Bollywood star, Vaani Kapoor (Dipannita Sharma), also referred to as Vaani Chopra at one point, is found murdered in a hotel room. She had gotten engaged to her beau, Kartik, only a few hours earlier. Kartik we’re told, is a writer. Anyone familiar with the hierarchy in the film industry, understands the natural conflict here between an A-list actor and a lowly writer, a conflict that the makers don’t seem interested in. Rahul Dev is tasked with the role of a greasy investigator, who uses all his interrogation scenes to showcase his deadpan face. Dev’s Rajasthani-afflicted delivery isn’t consistent, but there are simple pleasures in hearing the expletives roll out of his tongue. Following up on the acts of the likes of a Jaideep Ahlawat and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Dev is understandably below par. His detective abilities are also questionable, considering how he fixates on a producer attending the engagement, instead of looking for Kartik, who seems to be fleeing from the scene.

The flashbacks in the film are lazily expository, only to colour the characters in shades of doubt. The final ‘reveal’ is incredibly facile too, something most viewers will see from a mile away. The vapid, leftover royalty of Rajasthan has been an interesting and recurring trope in recent films and the OTT space, especially in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster franchise, and also in last year’s Aarya.

It’s no coincidence then, that Avinash Das’s film looks like a derivative version of Raat Akeli Hai, a film that also borrowed its title from a popular Hindi song, much like Avinash Das’s film. It’s an oft repeated pattern in recent films, like when the makers of Malang went out of their way to pay homage to ‘Aaj Ki Raat Koi Aane Ko Hai’  from 1982’s Anamika, via Anil Kapoor’s character. Directors probably think these add a bit of retro cool to the films. One fails to understand it is if they do go through the trouble to doff their hats to an era behind us, then why can’t they also write a story worthy of being a tribute to that era?

The only decent thing about Avinash Das’s Raat Baaki Hai, is its run-time at 89 minutes. At least, it ensures that we’re not wasting more than 89 minutes on such a basic ‘mystery’. The last half hour is particularly painful to endure, when the whodunnit suddenly morphs into ‘Here-is-why-I-did-it’. Characters go to great lengths to explain how they ‘chanced upon’ (not very subtly) the most bizarre clues, and what their motivations behind the murders REALLY are. The plot-points here are so contrived, that you can see smudges of the screenwriter’s ink, putting four and four together to make it 44.