Madras gets off to a clunky start, with some lengthy exposition explaining the history of a political rivalry in a north Chennai neighbourhood. The rivalry is centered around a large wall, where one of the political parties has painted a mural of their deceased leader, while the other political party plots to paint over it with their own propaganda. After introducing numerous neighbourhood characters during the opening credits, we finally meet our hero Kaali (Karthi) an educated young man with a white-collar job and a short temper. Kaali’s best friend Anbu (Kalaiarasan Harikrishnan) is active in one of the political parties and as a result Kaali gets drawn into the rivalry between the two parties over the wall.
Mary Kom is only two hours long, but it feels much longer. The morning after, and I still can’t decide whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. I went into the movie with extremely low expectations, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Perhaps it is that, as with Mardaani, I’m able to forgive a movie a lot of flaws if it features a Strong Female Character.
The basic plot of Mardaani goes something like this: a heretofore unknown sex trafficking ring makes a fatal error when they kidnap the adopted daughter of an uncompromising Mumbai cop. As a result, the cop relentlessly pursues the sex traffickers, eventually following them to Delhi. There, at the climax of the film, the cop beats up the head of the trafficking ring and frees all the girls. Sounds like a fairly pedestrian police thriller – and it would be – except the cop is a woman, Shivani Shivaji Roy (played by an at-the-top-of-her-game Rani Mukerji).
Bangalore Days is the new film from writer-director Anjali Menon, whose first film, Manjadikuru, was quite successful on the film festival circuit. It is the story of three cousins, Kuttan (the really, really, ridiculously good looking Nivin Pauly), Arjun (the also easy on the eyes Dulquer Salmaan), and Divya (cutie-pie Nazriya Nazim). Kuttan is a traditionally-minded young man whose more aspirational parents have sent him to Bangalore to work in IT. Ambitious Divya’s dream to pursue an MBA is crushed when she is hastily married off to corporate executive Das (Fahadh Faasil) and moves with him to Bangalore. With both his cousins living in Bangalore, Arjun, who has the only-in-the-movies profession of graffiti artist/mechanic/motocross racer, elects to join them there. The movie follows their lives and loves over the subsequent months.
Although it wasn’t on purpose, I can’t help thinking that it’s appropriate I spent March 8, International Women’s Day, watching two women-centric Bollywood movies – Queen and Gulaab Gang. That being said, Queen was by far the best of the two, although Gulaab Gang is not without its merits. Regardless, it’s so great to have more women-centric movies coming out of Bollywood, and I hope there will be many more to come.
During the first few minutes of Highway, Dolce Namak leaned over to me and whispered, “nobody does an opening sequence like Imtiaz Ali,” and I couldn’t agree more. If the title hadn’t tipped you off already, the opening sequence makes clear that in Highway Imtiaz Ali continues his fascination with journeys, both literal and emotional. Expectations were high going into Highway, since Imtiaz Ali’s previous film Rockstar is one I love quite fiercely. However I was not disappointed by Highway. In fact I loved it so much I’m having trouble expressing myself, but I have tried my best. It’s tempting to compare Highway to Rockstar, since both films have elements in common, but they are in fact very different films. While Rockstar had a very epic feel about it, Highway, in contrast, feels very intimate.
Gunday is the story of Bala (Arjun Kapoor) and Bikram (Ranveer Singh) who meet as orphaned children in a refugee camp in Bangladesh circa 1971. They get involved in the illegal gun trade, but when Bala shoots and kills a camp guard who was about to sexually assault Bikram they are forced to flee by train to Calcutta. Once there, they get jobs in a cafe but are soon fired and turn to stealing and selling coal. Ten years later, the now-adult Bala and Bikram kill the bandit at the head of the black market coal trade and take over his business. They expand into other areas of the black market and become Calcutta’s biggest gangsters, using their ill-gotten gains to open schools and hospitals. But the good times are interrupted by the arrival of two people in their lives: ACP Sarkar (Irrfan Khan) brought to Calcutta to bring down Bala and Bikram’s criminal empire, and cabaret dancer Nandita (Priyanka Chopra) with whom both young men “fall in love.”
Hasee Toh Phasee is the story of Nikhil (Sidharth Malhotra) who has been dating Karishma (Adah Sharma) for the last seven years. But on the eve of their wedding Karishma’s estranged sister Meeta (Parineeti Chopra) turns up, and while they spend time together over the next seven days, the feelings that blossom between Nikhil and Meeta become impossible to ignore.
I’m a big fan of Abhay Deol so I was very disappointed when January 31 rolled around and there was no sign of his new movie One By Two at any of the usual movie theatres in Toronto. Then, on Saturday morning, I was checking my Facebook and came across an interesting and exciting message from Abhay Deol’s page – that One By Two was available to stream for those outside India and Nepal via Facebook. So on Saturday night I hunkered down with my laptop and paid my $4.99 USD ($5.66 CAD :P) for what was technically a 48-hour rental of the film. I wasn’t feeling very optimistic that the film would come with English subtitles – but it actually did!