Baaghi 2 Movie Review

Cast: Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani, Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda, Deepak Dobriyal, Prateik Babbar, Darshan Kumar, Vipin Sharma

Director: Ahmed Khan

A distraught young woman reaches out to her ex-boyfriend for help in tracing her kidnapped daughter, but her husband, and everyone that knows them, insists the couple had no child at all. So is she imagining things, or is there more to it? That intriguing premise, of Baaghi 2, is buried under an avalanche of mediocrity – needless romantic backstory, too many songs, corny humor, an entirely pointless item number, cringey performances, frequent lapses of logic, and a disappointing reveal. Even Tiger Shroff’s built-like-a-tank physique can’t rescue this movie from its own gargantuan stupidity. Tiger stars as Ranveer Pratap Singh aka Ronnie, committed army officer and lean, mean, killing machine, who’s been weeding out the bad elements in Kashmir when he gets a call from Neha (Disha Patani), urging him to come to Goa immediately. In attempting to uncover the mystery of her daughter’s existence and possible disappearance, Ronnie finds himself in contact with all manner of colorful Goa characters including a used-car dealer with a ‘side’ business (Deepak Dobriyal), a hippy, chillum-smoking cop who loves taking selfies (Randeep Hooda), a sympathetic DIG (Manoj Bajpai), and of course Neha’s husband (Darshan Kumar), and her drug-addict brother-in-law (Prateik Babbar).

It’s hard to feel anything other than sheer frustration watching Baaghi 2, given how the filmmakers have squandered the potential of the central idea. This remake of the 2016 Telugu hit Kshanam is weighed down by a flawed script, and frankly by ‘mis-direction’ on the part of director Ahmed Khan. What could easily have been a tight suspense story is stretched into an overlong, one-size-fits-all 90s potboiler with equal helpings of romance, comedy, action, and melodrama. Turns out, it’s a recipe for a mess. And don’t even get me started on Jacqueline Fernandez’s ‘updated version’ of Ek do teen! It’s one of those zero-impact things that made me want to crawl under my seat out of embarrassment for her.

But of course much of the film rests on the shoulders of its able-bodied leading man, and Tiger Shroff doesn’t disappoint… not in the action portions, he doesn’t. We get scenes in which he pummels bad guys to a pulp, dangles from a rope while spraying bullets, and at one point, leaps off a cliff into a helicopter hovering mid-air. There’s a real thrill to some of these moments, but the action scenes seem to go on and on until you’re all worn out. His acting, however, is still raw, especially in the emotional and dramatic bits, although he brings an earnestness that is mildly endearing.

Of the remaining cast, Disha Patani is easy on the eyes but little else, and the generally charming Prateik Babbar is in full ham-and-cheese mode. Even Manoj Bajpai is largely wasted. Only Randeep Hooda has fun with his role as the Jack Sparrow-resembling policeman that goes by the moniker LSD.

But any and all promise is ultimately short-lived, as the script comes undone in the end with a twist that is underdeveloped and underwhelming to say the least. It’s so lazy, in fact, that it’s not even true to the film’s own logic.

I’m going with two out of five for Baaghi 2. It’s got its moments, but that’s all there is.

Rating: 2 / 5

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Hichki Movie Review

Director: Sidharth P Malhotra
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Supriya Pilgaonkar
Sidharth P Malhotra’s Hichki is a film wherein the emotional quotient overrides the inspirational one. Rani makes a “comeback” after a mothering hiatus of four years with a tale that’s heart-warming and dramatic. She plays, Naina Mathur who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, a neuropsychiatric condition, characterized by motor tics and at least one verbal tic. That’s not to say
she’s hampered or stifled but is instead as bold, brave and buoyant as anyone could be. Hichki recounts the tale of Naina, an aspiring teacher who had faced rejections both in her childhood and in her young professional days because of her Tourette’ss. Early on in the film, an interviewer even suggests her to think of another professional calling as they “had never seen a teacher with a speech defect.” But unfazed by it all, she continues to strive for a teaching job and soon enough, lands one at the same school in which she had studied as a student. The principal hands her section 9F, a class only created to meet the conditions of the compulsory Right To Education, comprising a total of 14 underprovided children. Naina now has to deliver her best and prove the trustees and teachers doubting her that TS doesn’t reduce her potential nor it subtract from
her intellect. Among the ones doubting her is Mr Wadia, a snooty arrogant teacher, ably played by Neeraj Kabi. His only idea, or aim perhaps, is to never let the 14 of 9F class students mix-up with the other sections and serve constant reminders of them being “municipality garbage.”

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The students rap, smoke and dance during classes and are well enough to have 7 teachers thrown out of the school. Initially, they are upright bullies who have no regards for their teachers come what may. They plan pranks and do everything in their power to make her leave. Naina’s problems lie not only in proving her worth to the authorities but in also being accepted by these students, who have so far been kept at bay from the other upscale students of the school.

She instantly connects to the students as she herself has faced a host of prejudices all her life but while her syndrome is psychiatric, her students’ Tourette is socio-economical and more so, psychological. She now bears the responsibility to carve an accountable group of students from the notoriety she’s been handed over and to channelize their energies in the right direction. Naina steers clear implying her unconventional teaching methods and a positive approach as life keeps on throwing one hurdle after another.

Rani Mukerji as Naina is a ray of hope in a world that is often too dim. She plays her differently-abled character sensitively and makes it clear in the beginning that she isn’t looking for sympathy but only seeking equal opportunities. That Rani is a fine actor we know, and while the film rests heavily on her shoulders and she delivers her best, Hichki somehow fails to weave magic to its full potential. If the first few minutes of the film deals with setting the light-hearted subject of TS, the next few slip away as the narrative becomes overtly dramatic in the face of Naina standing up for her students and taking on the school’s ideology.

The student-teacher bonding instances, however, make for some of the most heart-warming moments in the film. Notably, the transformation of Naina’s rebel student Aatish, played skillfully by Harsh Mayar, just by her kindness and actions. Other student characters too appear to be full of meat but bear the brunt of not enough characterization in the film just like Naina’s family moments – which too demand attention, but don’t get enough screen time.

Apart from Rani’s soul-lifting performance, the film is impressive on two accounts- one that it urges viewers to look past Naina’s defects and turns to portray her as a normal woman who has other school-related issues to get through, and second, it deals with the subjects in its hands sensitively.

Despite the above mentioned noteworthy things, Hichki remains an incomplete attempt at narrating a tale. The film has been adapted from the Hollywood classic Front Of The Class, which itself was based on the book Front Of The Class: How Tourette Made Me The Teacher I Never Had by Brad Cohen. But like the Bollywood’s regular dramatic genre, this one too loses out to being overtly emotional towards the end. And more so, it continues to feel less detailed and unimportant questions like why are there only two teachers, why do we only see 9th standard throughout- begin to pop up.

So while Rani strikes the right chord and gets the intricacies of her hiccups right, the film doesn’t elevate much from its hiccups and remains only partly engaging.

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Tomb Raider Movie Review

Director: Roar Uthaug
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins There’s a scene in the new Tomb Raider film starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, in which she pins down an attacker, locks him in a stranglehold, and chokes him till his body goes limp in death. Presumably, it’s the first time she’s killed anyone, and it’s her emotional state immediately after overcoming her enemy – disturbed, confused, possibly even regretful – that makes it clear why Vikander’s portrayal of the character feels so different from Angelina Jolie’s more than 15 years ago.

Jolie, who twice slipped into the iconic tank top, first in 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and then in Cradle of Life two years later, is regarded as the perfect live-action personification of the beloved video game character. An ass-kicking superwoman who knows her way around a pair of guns, and who can be as tough as any of the guys, often without breaking a sweat. Vikander’s version of Croft gets wounded, feels pain, and puts some effort into making those incredible leaps. In other words, she’s human and vulnerable.


It’s an approach that serves the film well, raising the stakes just a wee bit when the shit hits the fan after Croft sets off to find her father, who went missing seven years ago after leaving her to find an ancient mythical tomb on a faraway island off the coast of Japan.

Fans of the video game might have a little more patience with the doozy of a plot that involves solving complicated Japanese puzzles or cracking riddles to get past obstacles in the way of the protagonist’s mission. Having traveled from London to Hong Kong, where she hires a boat owned by a drunken sailor (Daniel Wu) to take her to the island of Yamatai, she learns that the Crofts aren’t the only ones searching for the tomb. That’s the cue for a string of action set pieces.

But who are we fooling? That’s exactly what we’re here for, and Norwegian-born director Roar Urthaug stages brutal, realistic sequences that Vikander pulls off nicely, striking just the right balance between wide-eyed first-time adventurer and slick, confidence-oozing wonder woman. This movie marks the making of Lara Croft as we know her, and Vikander makes her coming of age entirely convincing.

The cast is rounded off by solid actors like Dominic West in the role of Richard Croft, our heroine’s father; and Kristin Scott-Thomas as the caretaker of his businesses, who will likely have a larger role in this film’s sequel if there is one.

The key to becoming invested in the film – despite its overall familiarity and lack of any genuine surprise or originality – is Vikander’s natural performance, and her commitment to the physical requirements of the role. She’s the reason Tomb Raider isn’t a complete waste of time. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five.

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