Jia Aur Jia Review

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Jia Aur Jia tells the story of two starkly different strangers, who meet on a life-changing road trip with just one thing in common – their names. While Kalki is quirky and edgy Jia, Richa’s Jia is slightly controlled and strict. Now, both have their own secrets and how they come to terms with it while learning to live life to the fullest is what the soul of the film is. However, 20 minutes into the film, you know where it is headed and by halftime, you can somehow predict the ending. A lively, life-loving optimistic Jia changes a suicidal other Jia, and that’s the basic plotline. Sounds boring? Well, multiply it by two and that’s how it appeared on the screen.

Director Howard Rosemeyer fails to tap into the essence of female bonding and thus, everything turns out to be superficial. There are indeed few relatable moments with ‘few’ being the key word here. What else makes you cringe are the song sequences. Now both Richa and Kalki are looking as uncomfortable as possible while dancing, and though they might share a warm bond off-screen, they are unable to justify their camaraderie on screen. While Kalki is the one jumping and giving out ridiculous ideas, it is Richa’s lazy acting that makes you give up on the film.
A disappointment in more ways than one, the ‘road-trip film’ doesn’t even get the travel part right. Now, of course no one was expecting a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in a small budget film, but the fact that characters were being rushed to the hospital more than visiting scenic cliffs, becomes annoying after a point. Had they stuck to the hotel room conversations and made it into a heart to heart conversational film with two females with contrasting personalities talking about their life, it would have still been better, but the forced fun and unnecessary flimsy drama just make it a predictable watch.

Jia Aur Jia has two of Hindi cinema’s finest talents, one unexplored destination of Sweden and an intention to show people that women just want to have fun on trips, but it fails to deliver at any of these levels. The film probably marks both the actresses’ worst performance yet, Sweden still remains unexplored (though not the hospitals) and there is no bonding or fun, but drama and lots of clichés to play with.

The only refreshing part in the film is the male-female ratio and genuine representation of females, other than that, the film is forgettable and doesn’t set any benchmark as promised by the makers. Hope other filmmakers don’t use it as an inspiration to make women-only travel films because this is a shoddy and bad example.

Rating: 1.5/5

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Rukh Movie Review

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Smita Tambe, Adarsh Gourav, Kumud Mishra
Director: Atanu Mukherjee The new Manoj Bajpayee starrer Rukh is a story about letting go of a loved one while accepting the person that you’ve become. It deals with the familiar theme of a young man’s coming of age, but it’s told through the grief of a young son struggling to wrap his head around the mysterious circumstances behind the death of his father.

There’s a quietude that pervades this film, which emanates from the seemingly depressed state of Divakar (Bajpayee) and his wife Nandini (Smita Tambe). When Divakar is killed in an accident, his 18-year-old son Dhruv (Adarsh Gourav) returns from boarding school to complete the last rites. He finds a pile of secrets – his father was bankrupt, their factory had shut down on account of his partner’s malpractices, and his mother is keeping something from him. Dhruv is convinced that his father was murdered and wants to get to the bottom of it, even as he struggles with a violent incident from his own past.

Confidently directed by debutant Atanu Mukherjee, the film encourages the viewer to peel away at the layers of the story to arrive at the truth, just like Dhruv does. Slowly he discovers a father he never knew and it helps him resolve his own issues. But the narrative unfolds leisurely – what the heck, I’m just going to say it – it moves at a snail’s pace. It has the elements of a thriller with the mystery surrounding Divakar’s death, but you do find yourself wishing that the makers would get on with it.

Despite the overwhelming heaviness, and frankly a cop-out ending, the film is powered by its performances. Bajpayee and Tambe both have a melancholic stillness, while Gourav conveys angst and grief through restlessness.
I’m going with three out of five for Rukh. This is a heartbreaking indie about saying goodbye that nevertheless ends on the high note of hope.

Rating: 3 / 5

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Jia Aur Jia Review

Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Richa Chadda, Arslan Goni, Sudhanshu Pandey’

Director: Howard Rosemeyer

Any promise that Jia aur Jia may have held of taking a fresh, original approach to the idea of a ‘girl-bonding’ story is dispelled literally minutes into the film. Make no mistake, this is your standard odd-couple narrative disguised as a road-trip movie, and it’s crammed with every cliché you can possibly think of. Kalki Koechlin is free-spirited Jia Grewal, and Richa Chadda is uptight Jia Venkatram. Owing to a lazy script contrivance, the two women – perfect strangers – are paired up for the duration of a Swedish holiday, and predictably the bickering starts from the moment they first meet. Sadly, director Howard Rosemeyer and writer Mudassar Aziz have no interest beyond stating the obvious. The beats are familiar, and the shading mostly superficial. We’re in 2017, but the idea of women letting their hair down and having a good time is still limited to things like smoking a joint, getting drunk, flirting openly with men, and referring to each other affectionately as “saali daayen”. It’s not hard to see what the problem is. This is a girl-bonding story as imagined by men. What’s missing is an honest female perspective that might have brought nuance and some depth.

Like in most films of this genre, the road-trip in Jia aur Jia is a metaphor for a journey of self-discovery. Prejudices are overcome, dark secrets are revealed, and life lessons are learnt, but there isn’t an iota of freshness in the way that the narrative unfolds. Some bits are promising, like a scene in which the two women and a male friend they make on the trip watch a foreign film without subtitles at a drive-in cinema. Unable to follow what’s going on, they make up their own dialogues and plot as they go.

But charming moments are in short supply here. Kalki and Richa, both talented actors, are wasted in a film that frankly doesn’t know what to do with them. Kalki is in Energizer Bunny mode, and Richa appears uncharacteristically stiff.

At a mere 92 minutes Jia Aur Jia still feels overlong and also unmistakably boring. A holiday in Sweden has never felt like such a slog.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

Rating: 1.5 / 5

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Ranchi Diaries Review

Director: Sattwik Mohanty
Cast: Himansh Kohli, Soundarya Sharma, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Sheirgill Bollywood is undoubtedly getting better by the day especially when it comes to portraying small town through films. It’s long obsession with foreign return characters and shooting at exotic locations also seems to decline, with more stories now being revolved around the real India. Interestingly, the change has found a warm and welcoming audience, who wants filmmakers to explore the genre. But then comes a film Ranchi Diaries which takes no time at all to destroy their belief.

Helmed by first-time director Sattwik Mohanty, the film features Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Satish Kaushik, Himansh Kohli and debutante Soundarya Sharma. It follows the story of Gudiya, played by Soundarya, and her friends, Taaha Shah and Himansh, who are out to make it big in a small town (Ranchi) and decides to rob a bank. What happens next is a tedious and an unengaging series of events.

The film opens with a convincing scene, wherein Jimmy makes an impactful entry as a police officer, reminds me of his portrayal of a sub-inspector Ranveer Singh in Special 26. Before you expect him to do anything gripping, the frame shifts to Anupam Kher’s Thakur Bhaiya. Kher is that one actor who knows how to make his character look interesting even if it does not have much scope in the story, but the plot of Ranchi Diaries only wastes the sheer talent this star has.

Himansh in the role of Manish only proves how desperately he needs an acting class, courtesy unconvincing Bhojpuri accent and weak dialogue delivery. On the other hand, Soundarya too fails to create any impression. The use of dialogues such as Kismat kharab ho toh oonth pe bethe bauna aadmi ko bhi kutta kaat jaata hai, Godfather nahi dekhe ho?, Tum Godfather ho? and Tum kaahe Godfather ban rahe ho show the unimaginative minds behind the film.

With music that makes no sense to ears and story that has no logic, Sattwik’s debut directorial is something which the audience does not really deserve, even in their worst possible dreams.

Rating: 0.5/5

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Blade Runner 2049 Review

function collapse(){$(‘.qr’).toggle(500, function() {if ($(‘.qr’).is(‘:visible’)) {$(“.expup”).css(“background”, “url(https://images.news18.com/static_news18/pix/ibnhome/news18/exp-uparrow.gif)”);} else {$(“.expup”).css(“background”, “url(https://images.news18.com/static_news18/pix/ibnhome/news18/exp-downarrow.gif)”);}});}There are science fictions that give you an overall immersive experience of a magnificent (and mysterious) outer world and then there are films that make you question the technology and the kind of world we might end up becoming. But Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, Blade Runner, belonged to none. The film carved its path in the sci-fi genre and dealt with something more substantial than just lasers, aliens, and hi-tech droids. Luckily and thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 carries forward the same legacy and gives a clearer narrative to the replicants’ conscience.

The story begins almost 30 years after Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a bounty hunter tasked with “retiring” renegade android slaves “replicants”, runs away with one of them, to start a new life on his own terms. Now the focus is on a younger and unequivocally robotic model, officer KD6-3.7 (Ryan Gosling), a “synthetic” human who’s 99 percent perfect, but still a bit off. That subtle flaw serves the actor well as “K” is a rule-abiding Blade Runner who takes orders from plausibly tough LAPD Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright). Going through with a routine mission to eliminate an early-model Nexus-8, K makes a startling discovery — one that threatens to undermine the delicate sense of order between humans and the now million-fold class of android slaves. As it is, the replicants’ submission depends on their built-in expiration dates and the understanding that they were created to serve their masters. Anything could throw this system into turmoil, though Joshi has a reason to fear that this one will incite a replicant uprising, and so she orders K to destroy the evidence.

Except K disobeys, returns to the remote protein farm where the opening fight takes place and discovers a clue that ties him to characters from the original film (while the signature object in Blade Runner was an origami unicorn, here it’s a carved wooden horse). However, the links are hazy, since a huge electromagnetic pulse wiped out nearly all digital records a quarter-century earlier — the so-called Blackout of 2022 — forcing K to do some old-fashioned sleuthing that leads him to Deckard himself, hiding out in what remains of the city of Las Vegas. The film serves as a fulfilling sequel to the original classic wherein the story is delved deeper and the sci-fiction part is kept in the backdrop. Director Denis Villeneuve has given a rich, artsy vibe to an otherwise laden with CGI genre, thus giving the film a much-needed soul. In the age and stage, when one has seen dystopian drama and sci-fiction stories like the Handmaid’s tale and Westworld, Blade Runner 2049 still feels real and authentic. Villeneuve hasn’t touched much of the 2019’s world created by Scott, just a few upgrades. The futuristic world built in the original never needed much doing in any sequel, anyway. K’s personal AI Joi is a pleasant addition and an important character in K’s ‘hopeful’ life.

It’s perhaps the irony that plays the central part in the film where humans have lost their souls, while replicants know precisely what they want- to be human. There’s a lot more layering and depth given to every character and the entire journey of ‘finding self’ that viewers take with K, is engaging and heartbreaking. Although, the 2 hours 45 minutes long narrative does take a toll on you right before and after the interval. But the moment K meets Deckard, things start to build up and the end consumes you to an extent that even after you leave the theatre, the effects linger on.

Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel this classic deserved. It contributes to the world of humans and replicants build by Scott and Villeneuve carries on the legacy of delivering a heart-warming, thought-provoking story under the blanket of dystopian science-fiction. This is a sequel everyone ought to watch.

Rating: 3/5

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Begum Jaan Movie Review: Feminist Statement Drowned By Noise

Begum Jaan opens on a strong note. In present day Delhi, some thugs are ruthlessly violating a woman. But in one altering moment they are shamed instead. Writer-director SrijitMukherji makes a point about how women have had to harness the power of the female body to face up to bullies. In that, the film’s theme is quickly established. The movie then shifts decades into the past, when a closely-knit group of sex workers stand up against the tyranny of men and their politics. In the end, these women grab a choice with both hands even when it might look as if they don’t have any.

It’s a shame then that the film nosedives into an abyss of hammy over-the-top acting and clichéd writing. Begum Jaan is a remake of Mukherji’s own 2015 Bengali film Rajkahini, and it tells the story of a madam in 1947 (VidyaBalan) who finds out that the partition line that will separate India and Pakistan neatly runs right through her sprawling brothel. Government officials try to convince Begum, the prostitutes working for her and their hotchpotch family to leave the brothel, but she digs her heels in, inviting violence from the disgruntled men.

The film has an interesting premise and Vidya is commanding as the feared brothel owner who lords over her home. What lets it down is the shrill treatment. Virtually every character – side players even – are prone to loud outbursts, which means you’ll be searching for a quiet spa after the assault on your ears.

It doesn’t help that the narrative is routinely sidetracked by examples of Razia Sultan, the Rani of Jhansi, and Rani Padmavati of Mewar. Stories of their valor and bravado are passed down to a young child, with Vidya imagined in these roles, thereby suggesting that Begum is viewed as a savior by her girls, her faithful bodyguard (Sumit Nijhawan), a manservant (Pitobash Tripathi), and an elderly matriarch (Ila Arun). They stand up to the Congress and Muslim League officials (Rajit Kapur and Ashish Vidyarthi respectively) who want to send them packing. Unfortunately, however, Begum is also let down by trusted allies.

Mukherji packs too much into this narrative with multiple secondary characters and their back-stories. The violent incidents and constant swearing come at you so often, you turn slightly numb. Vidya throws herself into the part, but plays Begum Jaan so many octaves above normal – it’s a waste of her acting talent. Only Gauhar Khan as one of the girls in Begum’s inner circle, and Chunky Pandey in a slimy villain role, stand out in the sea of characters. The rest belong to the Highstrung Academy of Overactors.

I’m going with a generous two out of five for Begum Jaan. There is a strong feminist statement here, but unfortunately, it’s drowned out by all the noise.

Rating: 2 / 5

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