Nenu Local – Movie Review

Nani is a natural. We all know that. The dude is terrific in whichever role he plays. This time, too, he does a neat job. He makes a regular Telugu film hero character likable. He does it all – roams jobless, smokes like an idiot, fights and tells a girl that loves her on their first encounter. What’s more cringe-worthy, he tells her he’ll disturb her (meaning he’ll stalk the shit out of her and make her fall in love with him). He intends to do all this without an iota of change in himself. Neninthe, he says. Because, as the film’s tagline goes, attitude is everything. YOLO.

He gets pissed off when people ask him “Next enti?” after he passes engineering with great difficulty (there’s also a song about this). Once he meets the chick, he says “next nuvve”. Okay. SMH.

Now, I like Nani. i just did not like this character so much. While I completely agree with Nani’s monologue in the climax, I couldn’t get myself to like or at least appreciate the characterization of Babu, the part he plays. Sure, there’s enough enough comedy, as one would expect from the man, and I did have many hearty laughs. But that’s just good dialogues and Nani’s performance I’m liking there. Not Babu. Anyway, enough cribbing about this.

I’ll try to summarize the plot in one line: Nani loves this daddy’s girl at first sight and daddy eventually disapproves and as we all know, finally nods in agreement at his little girl’s decision. There’s a lot of routine jazz with typical, trademark Nani comedy all along the way which keeps you in the theater despite the paper-thin story. In the pre-interval scene, a new character pops up just for the sake of conjuring up a conflict. And obviously, there’s a flashback involving this dude and how he got mixed up in this bunch. Another thread so stupid I couldn’t buy.

I couldn’t take Naveen Chandra seriously. He’s toned up and all that and looks the part, but he couldn’t become that tough competitor for Nani. His dialogue delivery in his opening scene kissed all hope from his performance or his positive contribution to this film a goodbye. Keerthy Suresh is a fine actress but I have this feeling that she could be so much better. Sachin Khedekar is alright but made me miss Prakash Raj so very much.

Summing it up, there are laughs, many of them in fact and they are spread evenly in the film. There’s Nani, of course. So that’s about it, really. In a world full of films, I wouldn’t watch this one again. Did I like the film? It was okay. Did I enjoy it thoroughly? Nope, just in parts. Would I recommend a viewing? For Nani and the comedy, and for the lack of anything else this weekend, why not?! Time pass aithe avutundi.

I’m going with 2.5 out of 5!

PS: I am still wondering how different the film would have been without the cigarette in Nani’s hand. Not any different, I bet. Then why? Why the cigarette? Because “attitude is everything”? Don’t tell me a cigarette in a hero’s hand is the only way, if it’s any way at all, that you could show “attitude” or “heroism” or whatever you may want to call it. Film is a powerful medium. Incorporate small but significant changes while making a film, for they may have unimaginable changes in the masses for good. You could start with a no-cigarette film for instance.

Satamaanam Bhavati – Movie Review

I was so worried for Satamaanam Bhavati. The film’s genre, the trailer…they set off warning bells in my head, reminding me of a disaster I scraped through in the May of 2016. Turns out, those were false alarms. Satamaanam Bhavati did not pull a Brahmotsavam, after all.

Satamaanam Bhavati treads a more or less familiar path. A village, a set of grandparents (read: Prakash Raj and Jayasudha), a good-natured, much-loved young dude who is the go-to person for everyone in the village, relatives flocking down from the distant lands, a family reunion at long last – it’s all there.

All the quintessential ingredients of a warm family entertainer are all there, but what makes this film work is this: Satamaanam Bhavati knows what it wants to be even before it gets there and all along the way, just like the audience do. There are no sudden surprises, nothing to shake you from the comfortable viewing you are having. But also, most importantly, the film does not digress.

It plays out in a self-assured way; it never goes off the track, never ventures into any unneccesary subplots. Although some actions/decisions of a few characters seem foolish and unwarranted initially, it all falls into place eventually, like it always does in our films. At one point in the first half, I went “What the hell! He’s doing this for what, that silly thing? Drastic decisions taken in haste!”. But don’t be too quick to judge. As I said, everything will fall into place, all actions and decisions justified.

The movie is over 130 minutes, I think, and feels the same. Never too sluggish, never too hurried. As a love story appears to blossom, another seems to fade. And yet another has its long awaited moment decades after it started and came to an abrupt end. Amidst all this, there’s some light-hearted humor, beautiful shots of lush green countryside, and ladles of nativity. And of course, at the very end, a scene involving all the family members, their confessions, confrontations and some promises. Again, very very familiar, this scene. Prakash Raj himself was in at least a hundred scenes like this. I’m not complaining here, just stating the obvious. It worked for me, by the way. I didn’t mind the drama. After all, I was expecting it. Textbook Telugu family movie.

Sharwanand is in his element while Prakash Raj and Jayasudha do justice to roles they’ve come to own. I wonder why we don’t see Naresh more often; that dude is really, really good. I really enjoyed the song Nilavade on screen. It’s like a small, sweet love letter of sorts to the 80s and 90s.

కంచంలో అన్నాన్ని చూస్తే కడుపు నిండదు, తింటే నిండుతుంది!  – one of the dialogues I really liked in the movie. I’ll not obviously talk about who said this and to whom and why, but watch Satamaanam Bhavati to find out. We’ll discuss then, maybe?

I’m going with 3.5 out of 5! 

Khaidi No. 150 – Movie Review

A comeback after 10 long years. We’ve missed you, Chiru. And god, we REALLY missed your dance moves. Thanks for coming back!

Khaidi No. 150 releases 34 years after the blockbuster Khaidi. These two entirely different movies share one extra commonality other than the name. Chiranjeevi’s grace. I’ve never been his “fan”, but I like the Megastar and the phenomenon that he is. Although I don’t go gaga over his movies, I can understand why his “fans” do. I walked into the theater without any expectations, without having watched the mother-copy Kaththi, and I am happy to report that I liked the film despite its flaws. What with all the hype and expectations around his 150th film, I cannot say this is one hell of a film deserving all the hype and expectations but, it’s worth a watch. Why? Read on.

The film has nothing you haven’t seen before. It follows a predictable path. Good versus bad, poor versus rich, one man trying to make a difference…you get it? The first half of the film slacks; I was waiting for it to pick up speed, to get to the point, to start talking about the issue that is heart and soul of the film. It gets there but not before meandering all along the way. I really liked the second and the third blocks of the film, which is where the film is the most substantial.

The film throws light on the lives and deaths of farmers and everything in between. Some solid dialogues as a medium, Khaidi No. 150 talks about a very important yet casually neglected section of our society. More than half of our nation belongs to this section alone and every single one of us depends on their sweat for our bread, our very survival. And we play silent witness to their gradually, surely declining lives ending in suicides. And after we do that, we get back to leading our own sad, depressing and ignorant lives.

On at least three occasions, I could hold no more and let my tears fall. You know, I have a love-hate relationship with films that deal with sensitive, crucial and above all, basic topics like this. Since when did we lose our natural empathy for others? Why is it taking the hard work of a few hundred men and women, all day all night, to make us sensitive, or in cases, even aware, of such basic things we need to care about? On the other hand, pat comes the reply to all these questions, from within my own mind – “isn’t that what cinema is about?”

I’m digressing here, or probably not. Anyway, allow me to break from my philosophical reverie.

Khaidi No. 150 may not be the best of films. I just may not watch it again, ever. Despite my considerable efforts not to compare this with Megastar’s previous blockbusters, I will also say that this film didn’t leave on me the kind of impact, for instance, Indra or Tagore did. But for the while it lasted, it was a good time overall. I don’t regret watching it. And hereafter, I know in my heart that whenever I have a meal, I will be grateful for every farmer that ever helped me stay alive, helped the nation stay alive.

I am going with 3.5 out of 5 for this one!

Gautamiputra Saatakarni – Movie Review

As I sit down to write this review, 40 mins after the film finished, I am still wondering what made them choose Hema Malini for the role of Gautami. Anyway, more on that later.

I do have not so good things to say about this film but the good things that I have to say about this film should make you watch it if you have not already. Sweet before sour, so here goes:

First best thing: Dialogues. Sai Madhav Burra, take a bow! What a marvelous job! The lines are consistently first-rate and had we been fortunate enough to live in the times of Saatakarni, I am thoroughly convinced that we would have heard a language very much akin to what Burra has rendered here. And who better to deliver them than NBK? That brings me to the second first best thing in the movie. Yep, two firsts. Face it. (Remember our ranking system in schools?) 

Second first best thing: Baalayya. Now, I called up a friend in the intermission and he asked what I liked about the film thus far and I said, “Baalayya is the best part of it so far”. I was met with, “Baalayya best part endi ra?” from his side. Now, I have problems with Baalayya romancing with chicks half his age, and his characters doing the numerous unimaginable and impossible “Baalayya scenes”. This is largely because of of the fact that these things are not befitting his caliber or stature or image or whatever. You get my point? That said, I love theman when he does what he does best. I think we must give it to him – there are scenes written just for him. Exactly a year ago when I reviewed Dictator, I slammed the film but maintained that Baalayya has his moments and he nails them. There are films like this one that deserve nothing less than NBK himself.

 

There was never really a dull moment in the first half. The second derailed a bit here and there but everything came back on track soon enough. The movie felt longer than it actually is, blame it on a couple of unnecessary songs. Also, it doesn’t seem like it on the surface but the film did have a lot of details, trivia and other important, interesting information that was only briefly mentioned in a few fleeting seconds thanks to run-time considerations but I would recommend, to myself and those of you interested, further reading about Saatakarni. You could start here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautamiputra_Satakarni

The war scenes are sometimes clumsy and convenient and at other times, good. Shriya Saran is believable and Sunitha Upadrashta does a neat job dubbing for the actress. Others in supporting roles are alright.

It’s been an hour since I walked out of the theater. I am still wondering, “WHY Hema Malini?” Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the Dream Girl doesn’t look royal and doesn’t make her presence felt. She just isn’t CONVINCING as Gautami Baalaasri. She isn’t a familiar face to me anymore, at least in the Telugu cinema, and that’s where probably I lost the connect. She wasn’t remarkable either. Add to it her lip-sync.

Would I watch this film again? Probably not. Would I recommend a viewing? Certainly yes. Was Baalayya in his fine form? Yes. Why Hema Malini? I still don’t know.

I’m going with 3.75 out of 5 for Gautamiputra Saatakarni. 

 

Dangal – Movie Review

I really, really liked Dangal. How can I, or anyone else, not like a film that’s THIS earnestly made? How can you not like a film which makes you smile, laugh, shed a tear or two and above all, make you feel so proud, so inspired, so HAPPY?

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Dangal just had to be made. We had to know about these girls, that man. Such an incredible story had to be told. A strict but caring father and two of his daughters take us on this emotional ride called Dangal, punctuated only by occasional comedy relief in the form of Aparshakti Khurranna’s Omkar. Aamir’s Mahavir, now a belly-sporting middle-aged man but once a wrestler, coaches his two daughters to become national champions.

Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat (YouTube capture)
Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat (YouTube capture)

 

He is relentless and unforgiving in his coaching of the girls and dons the hat of a coach by the day, and that of a loving, caring father by the night as he massages the girls’ feet after a long day at training. The girls practice incessantly and put their heart and soul into it. All this effort pays off well at the end. But Dangal is as much about the journey of Phogats as it is about their final, much-valued contribution to the nation in the form of a medal and pride. A journey that’s a bumpy ride but made memorable by the support that this family gets, from Aparshakti Khurranna’s Omkar and the chicken shop wala, and everyone else who believed in the girls and their coach. This is not to say that there were never any naysayers. In fact, there were plenty of them. But we all know who had the last laugh.

Sanya Malhotra as Babita Phogat (YouTube capture)
Sanya Malhotra as Babita Phogat (YouTube capture)

Aamir is shockingly believable as Mahavir Phogat. In fact, there’s no glimpse absolutely of his superstar persona. All you see is Mahavir Phogat. He does a brilliant job. Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat, Sanya Malhotra as Babita Phogat and Zaira Wasim as the young Geeta are on point. I’d like to see Fatima play Indira Gandhi. Music and background score compliment the film. I found the film a tad bit stretched in the first block but otherwise, no complaints whatsoever. Even at a run-time of 170 minutes, Dangal packs a punch, powerful performances and some pride.

I’m going with 4/5. Recommended viewing! Also, it’s worth buying on blu-ray 😀

Dhruva – Movie Review

I haven’t watched Thani Oruvan. So, obviously, I cannot compare Dhruva with its mother-copy. Now, I don’t know if I would have liked Dhruva just as much had I watched Thani Oruvan first. I can, however, say this much: Dhruva is a good film. It is engaging for the most part, racy and has this man called Arvind Swamy command all our attention to even his slightest of smirks. I will remember Dhruva for a different reason altogether. Ram Charan actually makes an impression in this one!

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The story isn’t novel by any standard. Other than a few extra characters and a little dignified, polished and refined touch to the proceedings, what we see is nothing we haven’t seen before. But what makes it work is the pace. Pace that a thriller needs. Although the second half stretches longer than I would like it and although I feel Navin Noola’s scissors could have done better work, I was actually not looking at my phone in the theater.

It starts off weirdly, TBH. One over-smart 15-year old persuades his gullible dad to do something and the good daddy does it. What it is and how the young bloke actually thought about all this is beyond my silly brain’s comprehension. Perhaps that is why I find it unnatural. Cinematic. All the more Tollywood-y. Instantly familiar. The first half is a breeze. Enter Arvind Swamy and boy, the second half, although a tad too long, is worth the money.

Honestly, I do not think acting is Ram Charan’s forte. He did everything in his capacity (or actually didn’t) to prove this. I do not know why he did better in this one. Actually, wayyyyy better. Perhaps it was the script that brought out the best (I hope this is not his best and he has a lot to offer) in him. Unlike Raccha. I have one word for Arvind Swamy and his character – classy. When was the last time you heard a villain say, “Give me 5 minutes” when a hero asks him to decide something? Swamy owns the character he plays and thumbs up to those who wrote Siddharth Abhimanyu.

Rakul Preet and the others are alright. A mention should be made of Navdeep here. He has a lot TO him than the infamous cases he often lands himself in. He deserves more and that is evident from his acting in Dhruva. Background score accentuates the proceedings. Thumbs up there too!

Overall, Dhruva is a good time. No alcohol required. I am going with 3.5 out of 5! 🙂

Kahaani-2: Durga Rani Singh – Movie Review

There’s nothing more disappointing than a disappointing thriller.

Vidya Balan and Sujoy Ghosh reunite after 4 years, after Kahaani, to bring us Kahaani-2. When you set out to make a sequel for a film as brilliant as Kahaani, the benchmark is already very high. People expect exceptional stuff and they are not to be blamed. Kahaani was a taut thriller. There was no place there for any kind of slack. The same cannot be said about its sequel, unfortunately. Kahaani-2 starts off well but soon you notice signs of a potential tight thriller petering out.

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The first half is not bad at all. It is pretty engaging and Vidya makes sure she keeps you riveted through her act. Even as predictability makes its way through the movie, she holds the film together. In the second half though, nothing can stop the damage. Not even the best actress we have in Bollywood. Post interval, the film falls prey to predictability. Take the suspense out of a thriller and you have nothing. While Kahaani kept us on tenterhooks till the climax, its successor gives everything away, slowly and then all at once, until there’s no real reason to stay back at the theater other than watching Vidya be the best at her game.

At the heart of the film, the reason why Durga Rani Singh does what she does, is a very sensitive, hush-hush topic that needs to be talked about and addressed. I cannot talk about it now as that would mean giving spoilers but, suffice to say, kudos to this film for making that topic its centerpiece. Was there a full-bodied treatment of this topic? No. Is it a start? Yes.

Also, Bengal wasn’t captured in this film as brilliantly as it was in the first film. Several attempts at humor to ease the tension in the film didn’t work quite well. In fact, they annoyed me. Acting has never been Arjun Rampal’s forte but in this film, he’s good. So is everybody else, but Parambrata Chatterjee and the others from the first film are dearly missed.

I am expecting better from Kahaani-3 if it ever gets made. I’m going with 2.75 out of 5!

The film is still a good time, no alcohol required!

Dear Zindagi – Movie Review

Dear Zindagi is brought to us by the woman who gave us that gem of a film called English Vinglish. Director Gauri Shinde’s second venture, hitting the screens 4 years after her first release, came with little buzz despite having SRK in it. But the turnout at the theater was quite good, I must say, and if my guess is right, almost half of them must have found the film boring.
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Not a conventional Bollywood film by any means, Dear Zindagi has a single-point agenda. And that is to about all things mental health. To this one agenda the film sticks throughout, with Alia Bhatt’s Kaira as the centerpiece. Kaira is messed up young woman. She is promiscuous, unsure of feelings, opinionated about stable relationships, and is caught in a conundrum and is not at peace. We have all been there, done that. But Kaira comes with a past, and it continues to effect her present the way it does, and makes Kaira who she has become. Kaira’s journey from this mess of a life to one that’s shit-free and peaceful, of choosing the easier way for once and making peace with her past, and finally greeting her long-lost Zindagi with a smile, is what you’ll see in the film.

SRK plays a therapist, aka Dimaag Ka Doctor, with poise. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of SRK but in Dear Zindagi, he brings to table one of his finest works in recent times. Yashaswini Dayama, that cute girl last seen in Phobia, gets a meatier role this time around and boy, trust me when I say she’s going to go places. Kunal Kapoor and Angad Bedi are alright and Ali Zafar is charming and sings too! But the hero here is Alia Bhatt. From her SOTY days, she’s come a long way, choosing scripts that give her ample opportunity to experiment and grow as an actor. Dear Zindagi stands on her shoulders and she delivers a standout performance. Take a bow, young lady!

Dear Zindagi might be just a one-time watch, but it is an important film. Important because it is not every day that you get to watch a film that deals with a topic like this. It started with Deepika’s Live Love Laugh Foundation and now Dear Zindagi makes another earnest attempt at giving the issue the weight it deserves. Because, after all, mental health issues are real and they need addressing.

I’m going with 3.25 out of 5! It’s a good time, with no alcohol required! 🙂

Ekkadiki Potaavu Chinnavaada – Movie Review

Despite its interesting premise, Ekkadiki Potaavu Chinnavaada (EPC) comes off as a half-hearted attempt made primarily to leverage the thriller-comedy genre craze. It’s neither adequately funny nor adequately embellished with the thriller elements. That is not to say there weren’t times when I was pushed to the edge of my seat, I was, but it was just not enough.

epc

The first half of the film is strictly average except the interesting pre-intermission scenes. Post the intermission, I was starting to get really interested but my thrill did not last long each time there was an impending bend in the road, for if you have watched enough thrillers in your life, you can make a near-accurate guess of what’s about to come. The “element of surprise” was not so strong for me, and perhaps that is why I liked this film a little less than how much most people seem to be liking.

With a run-time of about 140 minutes, EPC feels longer, mostly due to its less engaging first half. Nikhil is alright, so is Nandita Swetha in her Telugu debut. It’s Hebbah Patel who falls short. Tanikella Bharani is wasted. Camerawork by Sai Sriram is really good.

There’s really nothing more to say. :/ If a film is good, you can write a lot about it. If a film is bad, you can write shit loads about it. It’s these average films that suck your soul. I mean, why couldn’t these be better or worse? It pains me.

Ekkadiki Potaavu Chinnavaada is probably better served along with alcohol. I’m going with 2.5 out of 5! Okay maybe 2.75.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Movie Review

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them

I start with a complaint. The trailer cuts for this film are not good. Simply because, even though I am a huge Harry potter Franchise fan (of both books and films) and more importantly, a fan of the magical universe of JK Rowling, I couldn’t help but dread if this film was going to fail. I mean look at the trailer, all the three trailers give an impression that this film is all about Newt Scamander losing his magical creatures in New York which wreack havoc. Is that it? My sister who isn’t a Potterhead (a term used for die hard Harry Potter fans), didn’t find the trailer to be compelling enough to be excited or keen to watch this flick. She dragged along only because I was going.

So, that made me wonder, is it a terribly bad cut? In my opinion it definitely is. The movie is so much more than Newt Scamander retrieving his lost magical creatures (and in fact it is not!). And in fact I have heard this complaint from many, that they didn’t expect “much” from the film after watching the trailers. So I want to use the first two paragraphs of this review to dispel that. Nope, the trailers are bad. Don’t watch the trailers. Just go to the film. It has a great story!

It has a half blood prince-isque feel with lot of “dark elements” but there is ample humour in it too. There is so much depth to this stunning new universe that JK Rowling churns in her brain factory that one can’t help but fall in love with her amazing new characters.

The real magic is in fact her writing. How does she do it? How!? I can just drool in my imagination of what a wonderful book this story would have made had it been written as a novel but JK Rowling does an equally fine job in her limited capacities. She did not have the backing of the world’s highest graphic processor: The minds of her readers, but she is backed to the hilt by the visual effects team of Warner Bros.

This must be the best visually gratifying movie of the JK Rowling Magical universe. Without a doubt. Some of the scenes in which we get to see all new magical creatures are splendid! And the action scenes too! There are a couple of slo-mo scenes that were so good that they pleasantly surprised me (honestly, I wasn’t expecting the visuals to be this damn good!)

Everybody knows the potential of Eddie Redmayne, and he exceeded those expectations playing Newt Scamander. He owns this film. But even more surprisingly, the other lead actors too complement him perfectly. Especially the guy who plays a No-Maj(American term for a “muggle” apparently), Jacob Kowalski . He is the sole source of humor in this film and he plays that to perfection.

The props, the dialogues, the music, the sets and the general vibe that this new franchise gives(yes it’s going to be a franchise with 2 to 3 more films in the pipeline) are a reminiscent to the good old times of Harry Potter and the Magical universe.

To wrap it up, the movie is an absolute treat to both fans and non-fans and sets off a whole new era of magical universe. It is a delightful combination of light humour, beautiful new characters, magical creatures and the dark elements of wizarding world. Some great performances, stunning visuals, and good writing, make this a thorough entertainer.  ^_^

Reeltalk Rating: 4/5
Verdict: Awesometacular! 😀

PS: Even those who are not familiar with Harry potter films or books can watch this film without worrying about whether or not one would be able to follow this film (it is a kind of prequel, so no issues 🙂 )
Also, if you live in Hyderabad, try to catch this film only at Prasads Large Screen which has Christie 4K digital Projection system. It makes these 3D films look really good. The standards of 3D projection systems in most other multpixes across Hyderabad is pathetic to say the least.