MS Dhoni: The Untold Story Review

Biopics are arguably one of the most challenging genres for a director to pick up. And when it comes to the responsibility of a biopic based on someone as big as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the task is a Himalayan climb. Where does one begin, and where does he end? What incidents does he bring to the forefront, and what does he hide under the table? Neeraj Pandey’s latest offering in ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ is a spider that gets caught in a tricky web, but somehow finds its way out by taking the safe route.

sushant-dhoni

The film is an indulgent biopic that follows a generic pattern, but what makes it interesting are the revelations of some unknown little secrets at regular intervals, which pop a balloon and help you sit up. Without playing around with the format much, Pandey makes it a straightforward set of chronicles that even a little Dhoni fan would comprehend. But in hindsight, this straightforward set also includes a shaky layer of exaggeration, cinematic liberties and tepid love tracks for our hero’s romantic angle.

Despite the odds against it, what really makes MS Dhoni: The Untold Story click is the lead Sushant Singh Rajput, who rips out a total doppelganger of the man he is seen playing. This is a performance which would go down as one of the most authentic portrayals, for he is on point when it comes to reprising the real Dhoni’s voice modulations, body language, batting style and even the helicopter shot. After him, it is Anupam Kher who plays the role of a doting father to perfection. Disha Patani and Kiara Advani come in and out as adorable pairs for SSR, but their character sketches are something that really needed more work on.

Toting up, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is a definitely watchable record of a man who is loved by almost everybody in India. The film has a charming start, enthralling childhood incidents and gives you some eye-widening moments of Dhoni’s life. But by the end of it all, you’d wish that the director had done away with the chocolate box romance, and given us more of what Dhoni’s professional life, his brave decisions and champion moments. At a length of three hours, it feels long drawn out, and the tacky VFX doesn’t help much either. Nevertheless, worry not, because when things might seem a little bobbed down, Sushant Singh Rajput comes to the rescue and lends you an assuring performance in the titular role. Watch this film for his knockout act, and the feeling of reliving some golden moments on the big screen.

Verdict: Indulgent, yet interesting biopic.

3.25 / 5

Waiting Movie Review

Nobody likes hospitals. Me neither. The frowning faces, the beeping devices, the distracting smell and things of that sort have always been a pest. To set a film in that premise, to create two impacting characters and to make one sit through it. That is surely some feat. Anu Menon does just that in her latest directorial, Waiting.

still_95049

Most of Waiting is set within the confines of a hospital which begets the charming landscape of Kochi in its background. The film begins and ends at this venue, with its pivotal points rooted here as well. Crossing over the stories of two couples – one young and one old, Menon narrates the moving story of Tara and Shiv, two individuals who are ‘waiting’ for their partners who suffer from a coma. The duo develop a peculiar relationship during their tough time at the hospital, learning and unlearning a ton of truths about life and it’s uncanny surprises.

However strong a script may be, the main box you’ll need to check are the artists who are going to take your story to your audiences. In this context, we have Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, who bowl you over with their standout performances. Kalki as the coming-of-age girl is a revelation, with her impatience and instability hindering her path. Watch out for the opening sequences right after hearing the news about her husband. Much needn’t be said about Naseeruddin Shah, who is an auteur par excellence, being the boss of whatever he does. With these two at the centre, it is Rajat Kapoor who makes a mark as the negative-minded doctor, with an applause to the scene where he teaches his disciple. Waiting also has interesting cameo appearances from Arjun Mathur, Suhasini Mani Ratnam and ‘Koya’ from ‘Premam’.

The icing on the cake are the visuals that the film brings you, where Menon incorporates a fresh new sleeve onto Kochi’s natural scene. Apart from this, the vibrant costumes manage to catch your eye and help making the experience a touch more pleasant.

On the flip-side, the film shifts down in gear towards the end by a bit, losing the momentum which was at a breakneck right from the start. In a dialogue-oriented narrative, it is really important to keep away from repetitions, which lead to monotony. However, a cute little episode between the elder pair will surely bring the smile back to your face.

At an aerial view, Waiting succeeds thanks to its matured writing, neat direction and expectedly solid performances from its leads. Watch it when it comes out, for this is something worth a wait.

Verdict: Engaging, enlightening tale.

3.5 / 5

Dhanak Movie Review

On very few occasions do you come across a film which is made to make you happy, on the whole. The basic point of the film is to keep you smiling throughout, sometimes even after you leave the hall. Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak anagrams to this, a heartening piece of cinema which bowls you over with its towering levels of innocence and reality.

gallery_dhanak-poster

Dhanak is carried forward by two small at size, big at heart kids, known as Pari and Chotu. While the former is a responsible little girl, the latter is a chatterbox, who has lost his eyesight due to an avoidable mishap in the family. Keeping things cute and kiddish without being overly pretentious, Nagesh takes us on an unforgettable journey with the two kids, who travel across the state to meet one special person and ask for his aid.

The most beautiful aspect of Dhanak is the excellent writing, which connects very quickly, taking you back to your childhood days in a flash. From the word go, the film is belted with lovely moments to cherish, where you cannot help but go ‘aww’. On their journey together, Pari and Chotu come across a flurry of interesting characters, both good and bad. Every single person manages to leave an impact, be it a small role or a big one. My favorite ones however, are the superb episode with Douglas Adams – the foreigner and Badrinath – the truck driver who doesn’t even bag a line of dialogue.

Krish Chabbria, the little kid who plays Chotu is a live wire. Taking Bhai’s side against his sister who loves SRK, he puts up an exuberant show with a special mention to his blind act which turns out to be something you’d overlook while falling for his mischief. The little girl Pari is an exact depiction of maturity blended with beauty, tucking in a ton of morals into the film. Watch out for some wondrous scenes such as their conversation while biting on a roti, the twist with the truth-spitting grandma and the hilarious scene between Chotu and his new-found friend which will surely have you in splits.

Dhanak is also splendidly shot throughout Rajasthan, with bright visuals and some simple but effective musical cues.

Above all, here is a film which brings some much needed realizations to the fore. Trust, goodness, peace and kindness are all simple messages that are nuanced into the screenplay. It deserves your eyes for all these reasons. And more. Take a bow, Nagesh Kukunoor.

Verdict: Enchanting piece of cinema. A must watch.

4 / 5

Bajrangi Bhaijaan Movie Review

If you are a human with all your six senses at the right place, you will usually think twice before watching a Bhai film. For he is one of those actors who rides heavily on his star power and his gargantuan fanbase, delivering films which are horrendously stupid with no room for sense. Bajrangi Bhaijaan in all its glory, is a film against the tide.

BB

Few minutes into the film is all you need to ask yourself whether you are watching a film with Salman Khan in it. With a standard milieu topped with lovable narrative ideas, Kabir Khan’s pen goes in the right direction making this a charming film to lend your eyes to. Albeit being predictable, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is highly realistic and wastes no time wandering around with cheap comics, flashy songs or forced fights. It is amazing to see Bhai come out of his cocoon and bring us a film which actually has a story. And that’s what makes Bajrangi Bhaijaan, his best film in years.

The first person who devours your attention is none other than the little girl Harshali Malhotra. Without saying a word, she splashes loads of cuteness all over the screen and leaves no stone unturned to put you in awe. Salman Khan on the other hand looks like he left his chutzpah at home for this film, as seeing him in such a role is a revelation in itself. Shades of the acting quotient in him are evident all through the proceedings, this is the side of Salman Khan that most people don’t know exists. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is next in line, coming up with humorous comedy skits in the second half and the apt amount of emotions when needed. Yet another film for the veteran, who just keeps getting better and better as the hourglass runs. Kareena Kapoor Khan plays Salman’s love interest, looks beautiful and emotes well. Cheers to Kabir Khan for not overusing her in a needless situation.

Apart from being a well-written film, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is also a well-shot film. The cinematography scales wondrous locations with catchy colouring, as the editing keeps the seamless flow without breaking it at random. Though Pritam’s music isn’t completely compelling, it has enough in it to keep the momentum going.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s biggest win is the script-to-screen transition which is done with elan. From the simple storybook of Vijayendra Prasad, it gets converted into a touching film which is engaging and entertaining at the same time. Only once in a blue moon that you get to see a film like this from Salman Khan. I think it deserves your time.

Verdict: An absolute delight.

3.5 / 5

Dil Dhadakne Do Movie Review

Dil Dhadakne Do joins the list of films such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara where rich folk set off on a classy vacation. Unfortunately, it isn’t as fun as it could have been.

DDD

The film follows the Mehras, a high class family who reside in Europe. While their daughter Ayesha is going through a tough patch in her married life, their son Kabir doesn’t really seem to be liking his job in the corporate world. Characters move in and out of the scene with many making an impact and few leaving sans a trace. DDD does start off slowly, and gets better when Virat Kohli’s girl walks in. There is enough attention in the screenplay devoted to the dialogues and the emotions, but I would have loved some more comedy in the script. With the predictability factor and the film moving at its own pace, some more fun and frolic in the proceedings would have really cut down the whines.

Despite these things, DDD does possess some punch-thaaf scenes which will make you sit up. Anil Kapoor makes us realize what an under-utilized actor he is, for he carries his role effortlessly. Piggy is the next big thing with her blow-you-away looks which do not let you lose focus. Ranveer is at his usual funny self, and does have a handful of solid one-liners which bring the roof down. I was yearning for some more Farhan onscreen. His character truly lights up the screen, but sadly takes too long to make an appearance. Not to forget the best role in the film, which goes to the dog Pluto, voiced by Aamir Khan.

DDD is backed by dreamlike visuals which are a treat to the eyes. At a length of 2 hours and 51 minutes, the film is a tad too long, but with the end being a good one, it doesn’t matter much. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is a big boon to the film, with both the songs and scores working in favour.

Though it does remind you of films like Cheaper By The Dozen at places, DDD is a jolly good trip to spend your money on this weekend. You know what’s gonna happen, but watching how it happens might just be worth it.

Verdict: Likable lil vacation.

3.25 / 5

Piku Movie Review

Piku is one of those very rare occasions where a film with a downright simple story transforms into a completely compelling one, with the addition of some heart in the writing. Shoojit Sircar continues to deliver touching films which are strikingly out of the box. With a yucky premise, Piku could have gone horrendously wrong if not for its humorous take on strong, concern-hungry themes.

piku-2b

But Shoojit takes the bull by the horns. With Amitabh Bachchan as an grumpy, irritating dad and Deepika Padukone as a daughter who is irritated by the former, the director creates a lovely aura which underlines the love-above-hate bonding between the two. The first few scenes in the film bring in the much required interest in the proceedings. Piku is so realistic and relatable, for you will find these characters much within your home itself. Topics like generation gap, marriage, sex, relatives and relationships seamlessly flow in and out of the narrative at the right places, making you realize the worth of the writing. What you get at the end, is a concoction of human values, laced with a generous dose of laughter.

It is great to see Deepika venturing out and bearing new feathers, taking up solid roles which demand performances. As a working lady in her late 20s, she pulls off this role with a lot of chutzpah and no nonsense. Amitabh too, is in great nick here. Unlike his last outing in Shamitabh, most of the comics evoke laughter and he is the fulcrum on which the film is bent on. It is nice to see Irrfan paired up(not exactly) with Deepika for once as we get to the musings between a slightly elder pair rather than cheesy rom-com. You cannot help but appreciate the inclusion of eye catchy characters such as the loud aunt or the family doctor.

Barring some shabby camera and editing at the start, Piku is vibrant all the way. Music by Anupam Roy is a clean listen throughout. Bezubaan and the Journey Song are two numbers which you will be humming on the way back home.

Piku is doubtlessly an enjoyable ride. Shoojit Sircar and his team deserve the praise for this sweet little film which will leave a smile on your face.

Verdict: Endearing episode.

3.5 / 5

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy Movie Review

With Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, Dibakar Banerjee sets a benchmark on how to go out making an intriguing murder mystery. The premise is wonderful, the performances are top-notch, the music pulls you in and the writing is admirable. But somewhere towards the end of the film, things go slightly awry.

DBBPoster

Right from the first scene where things kick off with a faceless murder, the director keeps tossing the surprises at regular intervals. DBB is the first episode after the protagonist passes out from college, so the proceedings been maintained at realistic levels without venturing into a bigger brainstorm. Dibakar connects each lead with tremendous clarity, as we are presented with a little twist just when things start to look comprehendible. And with things such the costumes, styling and the art working in his favour, getting into the mood isn’t much of a bother.

DBB’s biggest asset comes in the form of its technicality, with a special mention to the cinematography and the music. Dibakar’s ideas get some superb visuals, thanks to the sublime camerawork. Presenting the same scene from four different perspectives, and the fact that the crucial scenes were shot at night are examples of the stellar professionalism behind the lens. The music of the film, composed by a handful of musicians is highly electronic and exciting. All the songs have been used coherently with the narrative, and do not do anything other than rising the tempo of the film.

Dibakar’s making in DBB deserves all our appreciation and more. But in the third act, the film suffers from an unnecessary drag which could have easily been done away with. Being slow paced, the film didn’t require an elaborate breakdown of what happened from scratch. This goof-up takes the spice out of what could have been a shocking reveal. Nevertheless, DBB ends up becoming a satisfying neo-noir detective drama which does bring us our own version of Sherlock Holmes.

Verdict: Ambitious detective drama with a defective third act.

3 / 5