Anybody Can Dance, including Shraddha, and how! ABCD2

A much awaited sequel was finally here, and I absolutely had to catch it over the last weekend. And what better company than people who share my joy for dancing – my awesome friends at SDIPA? 🙂 I have been a regular at the dance classes conducted by Shiamak Davar’s Institute Of Performing Arts, and it is to them I credit my treasure of great people who I have known and befriended over my stay here. More about that in another post!!!

See, how awesome we look in our crazy, windy selfie :P

See, how awesome we look in our crazy, windy selfie 😛

Anyway, coming to the actual review of the movie, we watched it at Cinepolis, which I like over others in the vicinity thanks to its nice seats and cheap tickets, making the whole cinematic experience cushy and comfortable. And we had decided long back, that this movie deserves to be seen ONLY IN 3D, and so we did, wearing our crazy glasses 😛

As you must have read everywhere, the plot is not much to speak of. A team of dancers, branded as cheaters on a dance reality show, approach Prabhudeva to become their guru for the world’s greatest hip hop competition at Las Vegas. This one sentence pretty much sums up the entire story of the movie 😛 In terms of acting, only Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor to some extent seem to be able to hold the fort. But then, who watches a ABCD movie for the acting, eh?

The dance sequences are beautifully interspersed throughout the movie, and this movie is a joy to watch for all hip-hop lovers. Varun Dhawan is a Shiamak prodigy, and it surprises no one to see him dancing so mind-bogglingly well. Shraddha Kapoor, on the other hand, though not as good as Varun or others, still does a good job. Somehow I felt that her moves lacked the strength that hip hop requires. Probably, she was too focused on getting the technique right. But dude, she looks super hot, even better than Varun Dhawan. The “Sunn Sathiya” sequence sees her in the full glory,  and for a second you are compelled, even as a girl, to move your eyes away from Varun’s six packs to Sharddha’s new, slender dancer body 😀

Punit Pathak, Dharmesh Sir, Raghav “Cockroach”, Saajan, Sushant , are all fabulous dancers, and they play a huge, huge role in lifting up the performances in the movie to another level. Lauren kind of has a special appearance, but without her, ABCD2 would be incomplete. However, honestly speaking, ABCD’s music and choreography were more catchy than ABCD2’s. ABCD also utilized the 3D advantage more, and gave us amazing sequences in “Ganpati Bappa Morya” and “Bezubaan”. In  ABCD2, my favorite sequence was “Bezubaan Phir Se”. “Chunar” and “Sunn Sathiya” are nice enough too.

Overall, if you love dancing as much as I do, please do yourself a favor and watch this movie. But don’t try to find sense in the story. Just leave your brains at home and take with you your dancing soul, and cheer for Varun and his team of underdogs, unabashed.

Meanwhile, I am going to listen to Bezubaan Phir Se, just one more time 😛

Rating:  3.5 / 5

A complete entertainer : Tanu Weds Manu Returns

We Indians love our family oriented, naach-gaana movies. They are larger than life; we laugh, cry and dance with them, and take back home with us a cinematic experience. One such very happy, fun-filled and absolutely rocking entertainer has been Tanu Weds Manu Returns!

Now let’s be honest, Bollywood doesn’t do sequels much. But here is a refreshing movie that is even better than its predecessor! To cut a long story short, the story takes up right where the prequel left -what really did happen after Tanu wed Manu? Turns out, not all matches have a happy ending. 4 years later, the bubbly Tanu and cute Manu have been replaced by a raging wife in Tanu and a disgruntled husband in Manu. They decide to separate, and Manu meets Datto – a better version of Tanu, with none of her madness. What happens next, forms the crux of the story.

The story is simple, and at times disbelieving too, but the characters and dialogues more than make up for it. Kangana is the “hero” of this movie, but every actor contributes to the beautiful execution of this lovely film. One character that stole my heart away was Deepak Dobriyal’s “Pappiji”, Manu’s loyal sidekick. His mannerisms, his “gyaan” for his friend, his craziness – without Pappiji, Tanu Weds Manu Returns wouldn’t be half as good as it is. Not to forget, my eternal crush Jimmy Shergill, who played Raja Awasthi, the suitor in line, for the second time, and even better than before!

Some tracks in the story did seem a little unnecessary to me – there didn’t seem to be any sense in continuing Jassi and Payal’s track. But those are minor hiccups in the overall package, where Kangana Ranaut rules the roost as Tanu and Datto – playing two totally different characters with equal aplomb. Kangana has always been a good actress, but in the past I have often felt that her diction is not clear enough. It is good to see that she has been working hard on it, with great results. It is also nice to see R.Madhavan in a Hindi movie after 3 Idiots, and kudos to him for shining in a role that was written to be overpowered by Kangana.

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At the end of the movie, you realize that both Tanu and Manu are more than a little cuckoo in the head and you root shamelessly for Datto – the simple Jatni that makes you smile. But as Kangana very rightly mentioned in one of her interviews, Tanu Weds Manu Returns is not just another sequel. It is a force to reckon with, for it asks you a very complicated question – should you ever find a version of your partner/spouse without their flaws, would you want them instead of your better half? Will you replace your nagging wife or lazy husband or over-bearing girlfriend or boring boyfriend for someone who looks like them but doesn’t have those traits that annoy the crap out of you?

The music of the movie is also fun – peppy numbers that will dominate wedding dance floors for years to come 😛

With two women-centric movies doing exceptionally well (Piku and Tanu Weds Manu Returns) over a glossy magnum opus(Bombay Velvet), it is indeed a good time to be watching Hindi movies!

Rating: 4/5

Featured Image Source : Eros

Other Image Source : BharatPress

Motion se hi Emotion – Piku

Movies are supposed to be a mirror to our lives. Over the decades, Hindi commercial cinema has produced and promotes movies that portray and ideal, Utopian world, where children love their parents selflessly. According to Hindi movies, there is no greater sin than not taking care of your old parents, after all, ours is the land of Shravan Kumar- the ideal son. We have grown up seeing movies  where “Maa-Baap” were the ultimate epitome of love and sacrifice, who are loved equally selflessly by the “Hero”.

But what happens when you realize that an old father can be selfish enough to keep his young daughter to himself, trapped in his daily tantrums regarding his health, especially his bowel movements? It is with this view that Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar of “Kahaani” and “Vicky Donor” fame, creeps in stealthily and captures our hearts.

Piku is the story of a young, independent, working Bengali woman, Piku Banerjee(played with absolute finesse by Deepika Padukone), who lives with her eccentric father (and this is the reason why Amitabh Bacchan is a living legend) in Delhi’s CR park (where else, apart from Kolkata? 😛 ). By now you must have read raving reviews of Piku, the superb acting of Irrfan Khan and others, and how it continued to rake in the moolah at the Box Office, till “Tanu Weds Manu Returns” ended its winning streak, and quite rightfully.

A simple story with a beautiful narration, Piku tugged at my heart and by the time it ended, it left me with many things to ponder. In a society like India where families are so close knit, often we see that even after children are grown up and independent, parents tend to hold on to them. They expect their children to revolve their lives around them, and to them it is only fair, since they did that for them too!

A lot of people celebrated Piku as the modern Indian woman, independent and self-reliant, brought up with a broad mindset. And yet, they ignore the fact that Piku’s Baba uses her active sex-life as an excuse to drive away potential suitors! Of course, there are a lot of ways to interpret a cinematic experience, people say that Bhaskor Banerjee was quite progressive, but if you ask me, he used “empowering women” as an excuse to tie down his own daughter into shackles of responsibility and loneliness.

At the end of the day, everyone is selfish to some extent. It takes a great amount of love to be truly selfless, letting someone you love go to find their own path. Piku too tried to tie down her father into the customary old-age restrictions of not walking too much or eating oily/spicy food, but she did let him go, eventually. Love is weird that way.

If you haven’t watched Piku yet, do watch it. It is good to see Hindi cinema revolving into meaningful and enjoyable cinema, without being preachy or boring.

Rating: 4/5

Featured image source : Koimoi

Hauntingly beautiful : Bikhre Bimb

Well, hello there!!! I know it has been long, but they(okay fine, I !) say to be a good writer you need to keep experiencing new, exciting things to write about, and therefore I have been off my writing pad for past few weeks. But I am back, with a lot of stories and experiences to share, that can easily be content of this blog (that I insist you must join/follow/like on FB) for some weeks to come! 😀

So first up today is an experience of a lifetime that I will love all of you to have – watching Arundhati Nag live in action in Girish Karnad’s production : Bikhre Bimb (Broken Images). It is originally a Kannada play and has been translated to Hindi and English too. I caught this on a Friday, at one of my most favorite places in Bangalore – Rangashankra, a lovely theater right in the heart of JP Nagar. Me and my friend have been longing to watch a nice production, and when we got to know about this, we just had to go!!!!!

The premise of Bikhre Bimb is quite interesting – Manjula Nayak, an unsuccessful Kannada writer, suddenly becomes literary world’s favorite child after publishing a bestseller in English. At first it seemed like a play about the conflicts of an Indian writer – born to speak Hindi/Punjabi/Kannada et all and still dares to write in English! How can someone who has learnt to think in a language, write in a foreign tongue? Manjula Nayak has been beautifully portrayed by one of the finest actors alive – Ms. Arundhati Nag. She plays a character who comes across as confident, and to some extent, even arrogant. She mocks at those who question her “loyalty” to her mother tongue, and laughs off all suggestions that she might be ever so slightly be guilty of abandoning her own language.

As the play proceeds, in a TV studio, there occurs another layer to the story – Manjula’s relationship with her sister Malini Nayak. Malini is beautiful, young, intelligent, and physically handicapped. She is everything Manjula isn’t. Manjula talks about the struggles of her sister, and describes tearfully how she tried to depict her pain in her novel. But her doppelganger traps her into revealing more, and then all skeletons from the closet come tumbling out. How Manjula had always been jealous of Malini, growing up in the shadow of a sibling far better than her. How Manjula’s own husband felt more at ease talking to Malini, than his own wife, which drew a wedge in their marital life. Childless and resentful, Manjula disliked Malini for being better than her, and secretly wished to be her.

I will leave the climax of the plot out of this post, since I really, really want you to watch this. But I will tell you one thing – Arundhati Nag is just fabulous. It is a gift to see such a veteran actress onstage, portraying such complex emotions with apparent ease, compelling you to stick to every word of interaction between her and her sub-conscious, making you gasp at her story, and yet feeling sorry for her. You feel pity for Manjula Nayak, a jealous sister who tries hard to one-up her own sister, and just when she thought she won, she lost it all.

The strength of her Arundhati’s acting is such, that you can’t leave Manjula in the darkness of theater. She comes with you outside, and stays in your thoughts, forcing you to think if good is indeed always good or if bad is really that easy to define. She haunts you long enough, to ponder on realities of life, and to wonder if we are too quick to pass a judgement on someone, based on their physical appearances, without knowing their truth.

Apart from her expressions, what I loved the most about Arundhati Nag’s acting is her voice – you can hear her till the back of the theater, and her diction is clear and powerful. The Hindi used in the play is pure, and yet easy to understand. Of course, a play is no good without a great direction, and Girish Karnad and KM Chaitanya deserve all credit for such marvelous interpretation of human emotions and relationships.

Do watch this if you can, I have heard the Kannada and English versions are pretty good as well, although the English version has a different actress. But don’t miss this experience at all!!!

Rating: 5/5

Featured Image Source : BookMyShow

The wonder that was – Nothing Like Lear

On my weekends, I often look for things to do – apart from sleeping, cleaning, cooking and the weekly grocery shopping. The kind of lazy bum I am, I tend to while away the glorious two days just like that, unless and until I have something to look forward to.

One new thing that I have found these days to do is watching plays. Now I am a drama queen, my friends and family can vouch for that, and I have always been very fascinated by theater. I have acted in plays only twice in my entire life, that too in school, but I enjoy watching them quite a lot. A theater actor always ends up having a very real connection with his audience, and it is extremely challenging – you know the reaction of your audience on the spot, and it can be quite daunting I feel.

So when I got an nice mailer from BookMyShow regarding a show right next to me at RangaShankara, JP Nagar, I booked a ticket for myself without much ado. And there was a perfectly legitimate for spending 300 INR plus Internet charges for a single ticket – It was “Nothing Like Lear”, an experimental take on the famous Shakespearean play “King Lear”, directed by none other than Rajat Kapoor and starring Vinay Pathak! It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, watching a theater stalwart and an amazing actor performing live in front of my eyes and there was simply no reason to miss this one!

My Saturday today too began the usual way – I woke up late, went to buy vegetables, did a little cleaning, and had my lunch. Before I knew it, it was already 2.45 pm, and by the time I got ready and left my house, it was 3.20 pm! It didn’t help that I found the slowest auto rickshaw in the world, and as I reached tumbling and stumbling into the theater, the legend, Vinay Pathak was already on the stage. As he saw me, he told me, “It’s okay, the play is yet to start.” Oh the embarrassment of the entire jam-packed theater looking at me and laughing! I looked around in a hurry, found a place, and settled down, hoping that no one still had their eyes on me 😛

Soon after the lights went out, and I saw the magic happening, real-time. The play stood true to its name, there was indeed “nothing like Lear” in it. But it had its own plot and sub plots, the sublime layers, a father’s immense love for his daughter and a man’s resentment against his brother, the “bastard”. The character held the audience spell-bound, going through a roller coaster of emotions – laughter, mirth, love, happiness, anger, pity, revenge, and finally, great sorrow. Vinay Pathak was extremely engaging, I am quite sure he couldn’t have had all those lines written, especially the jokes he cracked at the audience, with the audience. Even if every word was written, the spontaneity of his delivery made it look like he was the character, living and breathing it.

It was a 90 minute show, and the audience clapped with the character, an old man dressed like a clown, laughed with him, felt sad with him and loved him to bits. The climax was very intense and as Vinay took the final bow, he got a resounding thunderous applause with lot of whistles, and hoots, and a well deserved standing ovation. I wish Rajat Kappor had come in front of the audience too, it takes a great director’s imagination to come up with a beauty that the show was.

If the play is screened in your city, do watch it. It is worth the experience and honestly, way way way above in terms of value for the amount of money charged for a ticket.

I am too much of a amateur to rate a play by such theater giants, but just to act extra smart, I will do it 😛

Rating :  5/5

Have you watched any plays recently? Does this remind you of another great play you saw? Do you want to see a play? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Issey Metabolism kehte hain Buaji!!!!!

If you are a 90s baby, you will fondly remember an era of premature Cable Television, video game players, tape recorders, cassettes, VCRs, and that slow inception of CDs.  Above all, you will remember the songs – some cheesy like “Tu chiz badi hai mast mast”, or soulful renditions like “Humko Sirf Tumse Pyaar Hai”. And with the songs, you will remember a voice, that dominated the romantic numbers of 90s – Kumar Saanu.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a tribute to that period. And yet, it is different and modern in its take. It is set in Haridwar of 90s, with its narrow lanes and nosy neighbors, where everyone knows what is happening in whose house. The casting is perfect, with both simple sets of parents, a bua with a slight hint of innocent sarcasm, and of course the protagonists – Ayushmann Khurrana as Prem Prakash Tiwari, the “naalayak beta”, who is an ardent Kumar Saanu fan. Only three things get tears in eyes – his Dad’s beatings, the English Question Paper which has been his undoing in 10th board exams, and Kumar Saanu’s voice. Ayushmann falls into the role almost effortlessly, and it is hard to believe that he is the same guy who played the suave, “Dilli ka launda”, Vicky Donor.

The breath of fresh air is the debutante Bhumi Pednekar, cast as Sandhya Verma, an educated Indian girl, albeit fat, who is comfortable in her own skin. She is smart, she dreams to be a teacher, and wishes to get married ASAP. Bhumi seems like a seasoned actor, and it helps that she was a casting director for YRF for many years. She specifically gained 10-12 kgs for the role, and that speaks a lot about her commendable dedication to her profession.

The movie unfolds with Prem and Sandhya getting married, much against Prem’s wishes, simply because Sandhya is fat and therefore, unsightly. Sandhya tries hard to woo Prem, but gives up when she hears Prem calling her names in front of his friends. But unlike the heroine of yesteryear, Sandhya doesn’t take it lying low. She stands up for herself, and puts people in their place when they are mean to her. Of course, Prem realizes what a douche he is, and tries to make amends. The entire movie is set against a backdrop of “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”, a fun competition, which calls for a married couple’s understanding and endurance, with a prize money of 10K INR, a huge amount in those times.sunder-susheel-promo

The movie is splattered with lots of hilarious moments, and the comedy is clean and truly funny. “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” is an attempt at giving us Indians our own rom-coms, and it is worth appreciating. It is a short movie by Indian standards, it wraps up in less than 2 hours. The crisp editing ensures that movie doesn’t seem like a drag at any point and is genuinely sweet and enjoyable. It drives important social messages across, without being preachy. It asks us to understand how little appearances matter when it comes down to judging people, and how an educated woman need not feel afraid of societal pressures and put up with an unhappy marriage.

If you haven’t watched it till now, do so. I don’t have more to say about it, since that would be like giving away everything of a predictable plot. But do watch it for a respite from the likes of “Chennai Express” or “Singham Returns”, for it is good to watch movies that you can actually relate to.

Rating: 3/5

P.S : If you did see this one, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below!!! 🙂