Half Girlfriend Review

Director: Mohit Suri
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor An unimpressive adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s ‘literature’ featuring two extremes as lead, and looped in together with a terrible recreation of a wonderful song, is what describes Mohit Suri’s Half Girlfriend the best. Rhetorically speaking, if the film was a girlfriend, she doesn’t deserve a boyfriend. And even if she found one, she must have lost it a bit too soon.

Based on Bhagat’s novel of the same name, Half Girlfriend doesn’t have a lot of surprises in store. For the most part, the film turns out to be a loyal adaptation of the writer’s imagination. The man of the masses might have had a genius stroke of luck when most of his previous adaptations – 3 Idiots, Two States, Kai Po Che and Hello – worked well at box office. Alas, every Bhagat novel needn’t be turned into a celluloid fantasy and that’s exactly what this film proves.


Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), a Bihar-resident comes to Delhi and interviews for one of the most prestigious institutions modelled on St Stephen’s, but soon realises that it’ll be tough for him to survive without a knack for English language. No, this doesn’t, at all, mean that he starts working on the language. Instead, he spots a fancy-looking girl Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor) and falls in love with her instantly. They start bonding over their shared interest – basketball and soon, he asks her out. After challenging him to score a basket, she agrees, but makes it clear that it’s not a date and they’re just hanging out. Gradually, the two get close but decide not to label their relationship. Close enough Riya makes him meet her parents, close enough to take him to her place of solitude but not close enough to be his full-girlfriend and hence, coins a new term ‘half-girlfriend’.

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Riya dreams to be a singer at a Jazz bar in New York while a romantic Madhav just wishes for a beautiful girl to sing a song for him. The film, then, follows the journey of the two as a gullible, amicable Madhav finds himself unabashedly in love with a rich daughter of elitist parents who doesn’t want to commit fully. How a desperate Madhav, irked by his roommates, forces himself on Riya, how they end up away from each other and how they keep finding their way back into love – form the crux of this film. Anyone well acquainted with Bhagat’s idea of literature knows what the film has in store for them and the ones who aren’t, we aren’t divulging the plot details any further.

Now, here’s an actor, who if left uncontrolled, goes berserk and over expresses himself and what more, he’s teamed up with a female protagonist who hardly emotes. While Arjun seems to be a misfit for the ‘quintessential’ Bihari boy, Shraddha is an absolute weak personification of an English-speaking and an English-singing girl with an extravagant lifestyle. Even if you want to feel and fall for Arjun’s ‘aww-inducing’ lines, the accent pulls you back. Arjun tries to keep his accent throughout while Shraddha tries to speak English throughout – and both fail miserably.

For a love story as complicated, one’d expect a chemistry as strong, but no. Don’t. You won’t feel a thing – neither the romance nor their confusion. The two hardly ever appear to be on the same page except for one or two scenes.

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The only performance that’s worth mentioning is that of Vikrant Massey. He’s probably the only actor who justifies his character of Madhav’s saviour roommate. Also, his Bihari accent, even if not perfect, is a relief from Arjun’s constant forced blabbering.

Apart from the disappointing performances, the film has quite a few unrealistic moments. Just like a person has a go-to person, they also have a go-to place. But for Riya, this go-to place happens to be India Gate. And no, not the India Gate we know. It happens to be India Gate’s terrace. Like it’s pretty normal to fool guards and climb up and just chill. Of course.

Riya’s rendition of the soulful track ‘Tu thodi Der Hor Thehr Ja’ is another thing so off-track that it’ll start hounding you towards the end.

Plus, what’s Bollywood’s obsession with ruining the Bihari accent? Just because it’s Bihar, they called Bill Gates Bill Gate-sva. And don’t even get us started with the entire Bill Gates sequence. The least they could have done was to get a realistic impersonation of Gates. Guess they were too busy with wronging the otherwise right things.

We aren’t sure if you’d even half-like Half Girlfriend. While some of you may still find it a tad bit relatable, considering the generation’s obsession with the too-confuse-to-label-a-relationship idea, others may walk out all cringed. Watch this only if you’re a die-hard Chetan Bhagat fan and if you aren’t, please don’t waste your time.

Rating: 1.5/5

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Half Girlfriend Movie Review

Half Girlfriend, based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel of the same name, is finally set to hit the theaters today. The film brings together an oven-fresh pairing, Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, both of whom, have had their share of successes and failures at the box office.

The film’s plot is expected to be exactly same as that of the book, so for the ones well acquainted with Bhagat’s ‘literature’, know what’s in store for them. The film revolves around a coming-of-age love story featuring Arjun Kapoor as a Bihari boy, Madhav Jha, and Shraddha as an elite society girl Riya Somani. What happens when a non-English speaking man falls in love with a rich woman? Will the language prove to be a barrier? Or will love overcome all the odds?

As for the actors, it’ll be interesting to see Arjun and Shraddha sharing screen space for the first time. Considering that both of them have had a bad stroke of luck at the box office with their last films OK Jaanu and Ki and Ka respectively, a hit is needed.

Will the two of them manage to leave an impact with their onscreen chemistry? Will this adaptation be any different from the novel? Will viewers relate to Shraddha-Arjun’s love story? Kriti Tulsiani from News18.com is inside the theater to find out.

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Life Review

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds

For viewers who’re rooted in Hollywood science fiction, Life is a treat! The film, more like a well-woven knit of moments – both in words and in thrill – keeps you intrigued and at the edge of your seat for most part.

The film chronicles the journey of a 6-member International Space Station crew who is on a mission – ‘Pilgrim 7 Mission’ – to find the existence of life on Mars. What they find, however, turns out to be more than just life.

It deals with a plot quite familiar to sci-fi lovers and brings to screen the curious case of what would happen when humans get to battle (read control) an extra-terrestrial living being. The racially and culturally diverse crew includes members, each well-qualified in their own field, to undercover the life on the planet. They find a single celled microscopic being – which in itself is a ground breaking news – driving people on Earth crazy. On their journey back home, the unicellular ‘Calvin’, as they call it, starts growing by heaps and bounds. It starts with subtle movement, a slight twitch, response to environment but soon turns to a catastrophic existence waiting to grab anything and everything in sight.

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To convey the larger-than-life consuming power of Calvin, several well-crafted terror scenes are depicted and that’s when you realise the power of this film. No one will be spared you feel and that consideration for the characters’ survival creeps upon you. Even though the build-up doesn’t take in account the life of crew members, few personal accounts make you feel connected enough to worry about their endurance.

‘In space, no one can hear you scream’ – the tagline still echoes when the topic of Hollywood space thrillers pop up. Considering the reign of 1989-film Alien, it was a big gamble for director Daniel Espinosa to enter this territory but to his credit, he has helmed a film worth watching. At times, you do get the same vibe as that of Interstellar and Alien but it still isn’t an out and out rip off.

More so, the fact that each of the 6 characters in the lead, has a pivotal role to play – both in meaning and in acting – pulls forward the narrative quite smoothly.

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There are certain scenes, so well-crafted, they actually make you feel claustrophobic. They send chills down your spine and while you’re always at the edge of your seat post 45 minutes the starting time, they make your eyes pop out. In a good way, of course. Furthermore, the cinematography and the background score work in tandem to deliver the required essence.

Large part of credit for ‘Life’ to have a life of its own goes to the writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who many known as the men behind Deadpool. Minimal words and crisp dialogues make it a gruesome popcorn flick. It doesn’t use words that you may think could have been avoided nor forced jokes or conversations too serious to be true. Plus, the dialogues don’t hint at a deeper philosophical meanings, but stay true to the usage and keep the slight realism intact.

All in all, it’s an impressive film which swiftly makes a transition from some extra-terrestrial fun to some bloodbath. Be prepared for some horrid scenes between alien and human too, of course.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Hindi Medium Review

The source of drama and conflict at the heart of “Hindi Medium” is one that a sizeable number of Indian parents will likely relate to. It is the single-minded commitment the intense, often corrupt, occasionally comical lengths one will go to in order to ensure a better education for one’s children than one was fortunate to receive. In nine of out ten cases, that implies an English medium education at a private school.

The film, directed by Saket Chaudhary, is a satire on the uniquely Indian obsession with English, and the sense of entitlement and higher social standing that is associated with proficiency in the language. But it is as much a comedy about the admission process in Indian schools.

Raj (Irrfan Khan), a wealthy but rough-around-the-edges garment shop owner, is devoted to his wife Meeta (Pakistani actress Saba Qamar). Insistent on admitting Pia, their 4-year-old daughter into a posh English school, Meeta somehow convinces Raj to move out of their Chandni Chowk home and into an upscale neighborhood so as to improve their chances of being picked by the best schools. The film coasts along nicely in its first hour, maintaining a lighthearted tone. Chaudhary takes gentle jibes at a hypocritical, prejudiced society where, as Meeta puts it, “angrezi zubaan nahin hai balki class hai”. Plus, we get interesting characters like the one played by Tilottama Shome, the largely unsympathetic head of a coaching class that prepares both parents and their children for the admission process. There’s also Amrita Singh playing the no-nonsense principal of the city’s best school, which Meeta has heart set on for Pia. But the film shifts, and not entirely smoothly, into a different gear from this point on. When it’s clear that the only way they might land a seat for Pia at the top school is through the ‘poor quota’, the couple decides to move to a slum and pose as a financially challenged family. This portion feels farfetched occasionally, and the humor makes way for melodrama and pathos. Deepak Dobriyal is terrific as Raj and Meeta’s helpful neighbor in their new quarters, and his kindness to the couple sets in motion the film’s final act, which is hinged on another of the film’s key themes the deep-rooted corruption prevalent in the school admission system.

It is this final act that is the weakest link in Hindi Medium. By now it’s down to over-simplistic stereotyping and a preachy finale that’ll make you cringe. Where Chaudhary employed sharp, biting humor to make his point in the early parts of the film, he now whacks you on the head to drive the message home.

Despite its shortcomings, the film is never unwatchable and benefits enormously from a winning performance by Irrfan Khan who makes his every moment on screen count. From his hilarious wooing of a mother-daughter pair of potential customers at his shop in the film’s first half to his earnest amends on discovering his conscience late into the final act, he has you eating out of his palm. For Irrfan alone, Hindi Medium may be worth a watch. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

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Wonder Woman review

After nearly eight decades of being every comic fan’s favourite superhero, Wonder Woman is finally appearing solo on the big screen in DC Cinematic Universe. Gal Gadot, who made an interesting debut as the iconic female superhero, in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, will be seen taking us to the origin story of her character.

Directed by Monster famed, Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman is the story of Diana of Themyscira, who goes on to become Diana Prince and ultimately Wonder Woman in the land of men and war. DC Universe’s one of the most popular character’s first feature film has already been a talk of the town because of its impressive first look and Gal Gadot portrayal of the brave warrior.

Much was revealed in the Wonder Woman trailer, including a fresh look at a young Diana training with the Amazons. Robin Wright, playing her warrior aunt, tries teaching her that battles aren’t always fair before the trainee unleashes the force of her mystical bracelets. Being told to stay away from mortals, Diana finds herself empathetic to their plight and misery and goes to their war-struck land to help them. Set in the backdrop of World War 1, it highlights Wonder Woman’s first adventure in the land of mortals.

This is the first time a female superhero has a solo film to herself, and fans are elated to see if it will serve justice to the iconic status of Wonder Woman. Will Gal Gadot be truly able to justify the female icon of empowerment? Will the film break the ceiling with its portrayal and narrative of a female superhero? Will the film be at par with the other superhero films? Sameeksha from News18 is inside the theatre to find all the answers.

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Sarkaar 3 Review

Just take a moment to consider this list: Rangeela, Daud, Satya, Kaun, Mast, Jungle, Company, Bhoot, Naach, Sarkar. If there’s anything that defined Ramgopal Varma’s early directing career it was his unpredictability. No matter how good or bad each film was there was no guessing what he was going to do next. It’s what made him one of the most exciting filmmakers in the late 90s up until the mid 2000s.

And then it’s as if he decided to live up to the name of his production banner – Factory. It was all remakes, sequels, and gimmicks. Just like that his tendency to surprise the audience was gone.

Watching Sarkar 3, the latest installment in his saga centered on a powerful Mumbai crime family, it is the death of Varma’s most marked feature – that very unpredictability – that you mourn more than any of the dozen or so characters who’re gruesomely gunned down on screen.

Sarkar 3 is set in modern day Mumbai, but it may as well be ten years ago, or fifteen. Barring the sight of a drone, there is nothing – from its plot to its aesthetic – that appears to have been updated since the first “Sarkar in 2005.

Amitabh Bachchan returns as Subhash Nagre, a figure both respected and feared, based in equal parts on Don Corleone and Bal Thackeray. It’s not hard to guess how things will pan out when Nagre’s now grown-up estranged grandson Shivaji (Amit Sadh) returns home to join the family business and clashes with the old man’s long-serving right-hand man Gokul (Ronit Roy).

Nagre Sr is pitted against a rogues’ gallery of disgruntled businessmen, politicians and thugs, including Manoj Bajpai as a voluble neta, and Jackie Shroff as a Dubai-based millionaire whose sexist one-liners directed at his bikini-clad girlfriend are the film’s guilty pleasure. The story involves the usual double crossing, conspiracies and twists…every single one of which is entirely predictable. As is Varma’s fascination for shooting his characters in silhouette, taking repeated close-ups of entirely pointless props, and placing the camera in the strangest of places, although I’m grateful he doesn’t move it around as much. Then there is that eardrum-shattering background music, and that incessant “Govinda govinda” chant.

Not everything will make you want to slit your wrists though. There are occasional flashes of the talented filmmaker we once knew. You’ll spot it in a handsomely mounted Ganesh aartisequence and the scene that immediately follows. Also Varma and his cameraman Amol Rathod find interesting ways to use the bustling city as a canvas against which the drama unfolds. This is an intrinsically Mumbai film and they exploit the varied landscape shrewdly.

Of the cast, Amit Sadh is especially impressive as the hotheaded successor to Sarkar’s legacy, and expectedly Amitabh Bachchan commands the screen as the imposing protagonist. The actors, however, are saddled with cheesy lines straight out of the gangster-movie playbook.

Sarkar 3 is an improvement on many of Varma’s recent films, which, quite frankly, were unwatchable to say the least. Yet it’s steeped in familiarity and an overwhelming sense of repetition and pointlessness. Did we really need another Sarkar film? Sadly, the answer is no.

I’m going with two out of five.

Rating: 2 / 5

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Pirates of The Caribbean Review

In 2003, Disney debuted a fictitious sea-world based on a theme-park ride, and that one film went on to become one the most loved and followed franchises for the studio. After three successful films, the studio decided to end it with a fourth, critically bashed instalment, On Stranger Tides. However, the ardent fans hadn’t had enough and it was their belief that helped in reviving the franchise after six long years.

Titled Salazar Revenge for half of the world and Dead Men Tell No Tale for the rest, the film is more like an ode to the fans for retaining their hopes in a dead franchise.

With Johnny Depp donning Captain Jack Sparrow’s hat again, the film revolves around his drunken sloppy self, less than the other films.

This time, the story has Sparrow dealing with bad luck on the land, as he hopes to command his precious Black Pearl again. Sparrow begins the film attempting a heist, and subsequently facing imminent execution at the hands of Royal Army. And once again, makes acquaintance of two straight-arrow youngsters.

This time, his sidekicks are Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of the first trilogy’s Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley); and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a defiant, proto-feminist astronomer accused of witchcraft. That’s about it for the nostalgia from the first trilogy. The antagonist here is Salazar, a Spanish Admiral, who was sent to cursed Devil’s Trap by a young Sparrow and has now returned as death for all Pirates and in particular, for Sparrow. All the events make everybody set sail for a quest for their own reason. A quest to find Trident of Poseidon, as the one who has it wields the power of the sea.

Johnny Depp’s performance is no better or worse than the previous outings however, the focus on his swag and sarcasm is way less. The drunk humour is present but maybe, because of his off-screen image, one doesn’t feel like smiling at his idiosyncrasy. The genius anarchic approach to Sparrow feels a bit old hat, like a repeated classic joke that has lost its charm but not the value.

However, few scenes in the film are well staged and entertaining keeping the hopes of the fans alive. The film is a visual spectacle and the climax scenes keep you hooked till the end. Also, the moments film steal in between brings a nostalgic smile to the face.

But, rarely is one ever swept up in the pirate fantasy that used to be the franchise’s purpose (at least in the first two films). Although, no one expected a brilliant plot built on luscious humour and growly emotion or horrific sequences from the film. To be fair, most entered with no expectations and thus came out satisfied with what was offered. After all, we knew what we are getting when we boarded this ship.

Despite its limping irregularities and average performances by all actors, this instalment survives on familiar notes to carry on its predecessors’ success and thus, doesn’t disappoint the fans.

The film ends with hope again, and looking at the current way the things with the franchise are proceeding, Disney needs to bring in plotline and decorate it with a better case of seaworthiness, in order to reach the same level it set in 2003 with Curse of The Black Pearl. A tad better than the last two outings, this instalment lies someplace in middle.

Pirates of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge gets cheers of recognition and nothing else.

Ratings:2.5/5

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