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Aladdin review: The Will Smith-starrer is a delightful summer treat and a perfect family-entertainer

Aladdin review: Guy Ritchie’s retelling of the age-old famous Arabian folktale – starring Will Smith as the Genie – will transport you to a world of love, friendship, fantasy and magic!

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Star Rating:

A whole new worldMena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Jasmine sing the mesmerisingly beautiful romantic number from Disney’s 1992 animated film Aladdin, as they take a magic carpet ride together, discovering true love for each other. Director Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of the much-loved animated film however doesn’t take you to any new world! Instead, the director sticks to recreating the old world magic of the original to the T and that’s the biggest draw to watch this film that stars Will Smith as the Genie. So is Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake better than the original? Read on to find out:

What Aladdin is all about: ‘Street rat’ Aladdin is a petty thief whose best buddy and partner-in-crime is his pet monkey Abu. Unknowingly, Aladdin falls for Jasmine, the princess of Agrabah. The Sultan’s wicked and power-hungry Vizier sends Aladdin to retrieve an old lamp for him from a magical cave. After finding himself trapped in the cave, Aladdin rubs the lamp only to find himself become the master of a three-wish granting Genie. How the good-hearted Aladdin goes about winning Princess Jasmine’s love with the help of the Genie and defeats the evil Vizier forms the crux of the story.

Yay: The story may be old, but Jasmine’s yearning to prove her worth as an able ruler and her feisty spirit that refuses to give in and bow down just because she’s a girl still resonates strongly with women even today. What also resonates even today is our fascination for a fantasy world where carpets can fly and rubbing lamps releases Genies. Well, director Guy Ritchie taps all this beautifully to recreate Disney’s animated film Aladdin (1992).

The humour-laced film has all the strong messages of the original in place without being preachy of course. What we loved the most was that the live-action retelling stays true – right through the film – to the original, so at no point do we feel short-changed. Whether it was a bid by the makers to play it safe or intentionally not to mess with a Disney classic, the move works in the film’s favour.

Will Smith as Genie gets our thumbs up! Naomi Scott shines through as Jasmine and Mena Massoud brings in the certain innocent charm of a street-smart Aladdin. The chemistry between Jasmine and Aladdin, carpet and Abu, Dalia and the Genie are all amazing to watch and leave you smiling.

The film aces in several departments right from the direction to the musical scores to the costumes and the CGI effects to the lavish and gorgeous set-ups. We loved the strong and impressive rendition of ‘Speechless’. You find yourself transported just as believably to the dusty streets of Agrabah as easily as you find yourself looking up at the magnificent palaces. The chase sequences are stunningly shot. There’s nothing over-the-top or anything that strikes you as out of place here.

The result is the story being told in the most entertaining and visually-appealing cinematic form. Adults will find themselves revisit their childhood and the children get introduced to a whole new world of love and magic.

Nay: Even in such a well-made film, unfortunately, there’re things that feel like a bit of a let-down! Merwan Kenzari as Jafar, frankly wasn’t convincingly evil or menacing enough to make for a formidable adversary. Iago, the macaw who played such an important character in the original was not explored onscreen as much as we would have liked it to be. Though Will Smith as Genie was an absolute treat, it somehow felt that the makers have not made him do complete justice to the character. Whether it was the dialogues or the CGI, but Will Smith felt a bit under-used here.

But what made us cringe were the dance sequences. While we understand that the Bollywoodish song and dance may tickle Hollywood’s exotic fantasies about faraway lands, for the Indian audience, it doesn’t do a thing. In fact, the execution looks worse than the level of performances one gets to see in reality dance shows here. Also in some scenes, the entire production value looks more suited for a broadway musical than a majestic film. Also the 3D effects are not used to create much of an impact.

CineBlitz Verdict: Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin makes for a fantastic family-viewing! It’s entertaining and it will take you to a world that’s magical and fantastical. A must-watch for kids! They will simply love watching the much-loved story being told on the big screen in such an entertaining way. A perfect summer treat, the film will bring a smile to your faces and you will find yourself humming along the songs with Jasmine and Aladdin!

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Kabir Singh Review: Shahid Kapoor’s performance in and as the toxic lover, Kabir Singh, aces all else

The ‘intense’ love story Kabir Singh featuring Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani is a veritable kiss-a-thon!

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Star Rating: 

Kabir Singh is director Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s remade Hindi version of his own Telugu hit film Arjun Reddy (released in 2017). The Telugu version starred Vijay Deverakonda and Shalini Pandey in the lead roles, whilst the Hindi version features Shahid Kapoor as the titular character, paired with Kiara Advani as his romantic lead. Ironically, neither of the two were Vanga’s first choices (but both have done ample justice to their roles). The film is called a romantic drama, but earned an ‘Adults Only’ certificate at the Censor Board. The film is jointly produced by Cine1 Studios and T-Series. Despite a lot of back-and-forth on who would play the two leads, once Shahid was locked, the film was wrapped up in a record eight months, and released today (June 21). The heart-thumping soundtrack is by Mithoon, Amaal Malik, Akhil Sachdeva, Vishal Mishra and Sachet Parampara.

What Kabir Singh is all about:

It is the ‘intense’ love story between two medical students Kabir Rajdheer Singh (Shahid Kapoor) and Preeti Sikka (Kiara Advani), whose love doesn’t come to fruition in marriage. It unhinges the already toxic-charactered hero, now a surgeon, who becomes an alcoholic and descends on a self-destructive path when his girl-friend’s parents oppose their union and marry her off to somebody else. His family and friends rally around him and despair of him alternately. But he is hell-bent on getting his love back or then it doesn’t matter what happens… Selfishly enough, to him or to the people who love him and suffer for him.

The aggressive Kabir Singh, an academic topper and senior is respected and feared by all in the college. More fear because he is a bully and any amount of trying to bathe him in glowing adjectives would be a lie. He imposes his love on the young and impressionable Preeti, a fresher, staking and claiming her as his territory by going class-to-class saying it. As students of anatomy, they spend every spare minute in exploring each other’s, and rarely pause between kisses, the chain that keeps their love-story literally bonded. And so they complete their education. He goes to her parents to ask for her hand. Actually demand it. They refuse, and there are fights galore, and the two lovers say a lot of bad stuff to each other and move on with their lives. One with alcohol, and the other, with a ‘so-called marriage’. The downslide of Kabir is rapid and devastating for those around him. How does this whole bizarre, toxic relationship really end?  Ah well, watch and learn what not to do in one.


Shahid Kapoor is simply brilliant as the troubled and troubling Kabir Singh. He seems to have enjoyed the role at points and really suffered at times. Either way, his immersion into this flawed character was complete and flawless. A spoilt, rich brat who is best friends with his forward thinking grandmommy (played very well by Kamini Kaushal), at constant loggerheads with his dad, Suresh Oberoi, and doted on by his mature, yet indulgent brother Karan, played by Arjan Bajwa. Even though his was a brief role, Arjan lent a lot of credibility to his character, and layered it as best he could to showcase the depth of his nature.

Kabir’s friends, Shiva (Soham Majumdar – very well-performed) and Kamal (Kunal Thakur) stick by his side through thick and thin. Kiara was effective as the naïve, impressionable and sometimes wilful lover girl. Their chemistry is unmissable. You can cut it with a knife. As performances and storytelling go, it makes for compelling viewing. The dialogues by Siddharth Singh, Garima Wahal and Sandeep Vanga score in many places.

Nay: The kind of hero this character is, is basically someone who one would suggest, required psychiatric help. The acceptance of someone like this so casually and normally grates one’s core. Yes, lovers like these, exist aplenty in the South Indian film hero’s portrayals, possibly in that social milieu too. But it completely sends off dangerous wrong signals as to the very foundation of what relationships are built on. The thought that the character is based a lot on Sandeep Vanga Reddy is scary. Emotional aggression is not acceptable. Ever. And physical intimidation, even lesser. THIS IS SO NOT HOW TO WIN LOVE. In fact, going further, this does not classify as love at all. It is glorified lust, with no thought about emotional damage on either lover’s part for the other. Or how do they justify just upping and leaving the other suffering in the trail of negative action post their separation?

Aarif Sheikh’s editing left one wanting for serious respite. At just short of three hours, it seemed a tale of interminable proportions. And not a happy experience. The sound track is good, but heart-thumpingly loud right through, no subtlety. But that is something this film lacks at many levels. It is not a subtle love story.

No amount of disclaimers and warnings can work with the sheer quantity of alcohol and drugs and the ways and means to hide it in open sight that were executed in Kabir’s home. Moreover, an almost-always-drunk surgeon taking pride in a few hundred surgeries where his hands didn’t shake, sorry guys, the medical community needs waking up. Despite Shahid’s excellent performance, at no point in time does he evoke one’s sympathy whatsoever. He is a selfish, manic, unduly angry, badly behaved, horny bugger, his misdeeds protected by money. There is no poetic or philosophic side to this wrongly named Kabir.

Cine Blitz Verdict:

Whilst the film may do well in the South and in the North of India, metro cities’ urbane audiences might find it off- putting. For sure it’ll do business. You should watch it for Shahid Kapoor alone. And to learn what not to do and be in a love relationship.


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The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir review: Dhanush shines in his international debut and steals the show with his effortless charm in this delightful film

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Review: Dhanush’s fantastic performance and the spirited story are the film’s high points

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The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir poster

Star rating:

We have seen several ‘Hollywood’ filmmakers in the past dabble with films set in India or with Indian protagonists. Ken Scott’s The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir is the latest addition. Based on Romain Puértolas’ French novel, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, the film is a global production with filmmaking and cast involving three countries – France, Belgium, India – but is largely set in India with Dhanush playing the protagonist. The film marks the South superstar’s debut in international cinema (We wouldn’t want to narrow it down to Hollywood). So, how does Dhanush score in his English film debut? And does The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir make the cut for the Indian audience? Read on to find out!

What The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir is all about: 

Travelling to Paris someday is the only dream that a hard-working single mother, Siringh (Amruta Sant) regales her young son with. However when school starts, the reality that they are poor, hits Ajatashatru Lavash Patel aka Aja, who decides that he doesn’t want to be poor anymore! In a bid to break away from poverty, street-smart Aja inspired by a fake fakir, devises con-plans early in his childhood. He grows up to be a trickster cheating people with fake magic stunts along with his two cousins.

After his mother’s untimely death, Aja finds out that his father was a French magician. His only aim in life then is to travel to Paris. He somehow manages to do that and carries with him his dead mother’s ashes. While there, he even visits a furniture store that he was obsessed with as a child, after seeing its photographs in a magazine. It’s at this store that he runs into an American, Marie (Erin Moriarty) instantly falling in love with her. They decide to meet at the Eiffel Tower the following day. But destiny or ‘karma’ has other plans for Aja! He soon finds himself on one big adventure ride that takes him across Europe.


Child actor Hearty Singh playing the young Aja is an absolute natural on the screen. He lights up the frame each time with his innocence and mischief. From his overtly dramatic-outbursts to his curiosity-laden questions about his dad – he evokes laughter each time. The mother-son equation is also heartwarming.

Dhanush easily carries forward that amazing charm as the older Aja. He is simply fantastic in his role. Dhanush effortlessly breathes life into his character, enhancing the narrative that at many points threatens to be a lackluster affair. He makes you feel Aja’s highs and lows at every turn. The film is ably-supported by the rest of the cast. Erin Moriarty (Marie), Amruta Sant (Siringh), Bernicio Bejo as Nelly and Barkhad Abdi are particularly noteworthy. Dhanush shares an amazing chemistry with Erin and Bernicio.

The generous dollops of humour do make it a fun entertainer – the run-in between Nelly’s ex-lovers is hilarious – and it is also laced with several emotional moments that will tug at your heart strings. With due credit to the director, there are some very strong issues like that of juvenile delinquency, illegal immigration and displaced refugees, addressed with a light-heartedness, but not handled insensitively. The music and the direction are average, though the cinematography brilliantly captures the essence of each country beautifully, right from the Mumbai chaos to the beauty of Rome’s cobbled streets.


Like in most attempts by Hollywood filmmakers, this film too at times reeks of the limited approach the westerners often have in showcasing India. Their obsession of associating and presenting an India with cattle, Bollywood-style dance, the desi look (read maang tika, bindi, ghagra-choli and jewellery), and snake-charmers and fakirs is endless and their efforts to capture that relentless! But for the Indian audience this doesn’t work and is perhaps where it may not click with most. The film slackens pace in places. The narrative also seems to fall off edges at times, which is lifted pluckily by Dhanush.

CineBlitz Verdict:

The film is a beautiful and breezy story about love, hope, karma and dreams. It is inspiring and heartwarming that makes it an interesting watch. The cliches spoil the fun at times and there’s nothing extraordinary about the film, but Dhanush is the reason why it should be put on your must-watch list. A petty thief onscreen, he’s a show-stealer too! The brilliant actor proves his mettle again and shines in his international debut.

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Kaafir Review: Dia Mirza gives her career’s best performance in this tale of divide, nationality and unspoken love

Zee5 Original Kaafir starring Dia Mirza and Mohit Raina is a series that deals with a sensitive topic beautifully and emerges a winner

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Kaafir Review
a still from Dia Mirza and Mohit Raina starrer Kaafir

Star Rating: 


Writer Bhavani Iyer has a skill of building an intense narrative around a compelling love story and still makes them look appealing together, with nothing out of place. This craft is commendable since not many can master it. Kaafir gives us Dia Mirza 2.0, and the actress shines brighter than any other star in this sky created by director Sonam Nair and Bhavani Iyer. In a tale that talks about longing, confusion, and unexpressed love, the screenplay hits you hard and all you need is a big box of tissues. With a strong script, storyline, and brilliant performances Kaafir deserves your watch.

What’s Kaafir About: An ex-lawyer-turned- journalist Vedant (Mohit Raina), in search of a human interest story, stumbles upon footage of a toddler who was born in a jail in Kashmir as her mother is an alleged militant. Curiosity makes him meet Kainaaz Akhtar and her daughter in jail. Kainaz, a Pakistani citizen, following a bad incident, crosses the border and enters India where she is caught and declared a militant, and kept captive for seven years when her punishment is actually just 15 months. In the course of her stretch in jail, Kainaaz goes through a lot of hardships and violence. After getting to know her story, he sets on a mission to free her and send her back to her country. The storyline talks about divide, nationality, humanity and unsaid love, but never strays too far away from its main plot.

Yay: Let’s just take a moment to appreciate Dia Mirza for the performance she has bought to the table as Kainaaz. In her digital debut, the actress has sunk her teeth deep into the character. The pain, vulnerability, anger, disgust, love and much more is evident on that face, and you can feel all of that even when she has no dialogues. Those eyes are enough.

Talking about the high point, writer Bhavani Iyer who also has Alia Bhatt’s Raazi to her credit knows what she is talking about. Here, the enmity between the two countries isn’t the fodder to create a character, but finding a solution is. Direction by Sonam Nair puts the blocks just right and keeps you up through the series. Just when you think that Kainaaz is released from the jail in an early episode (Yes, spoiler) you are confused as to what’s left now. It is later that you realise that the canvas is much bigger than her acquittal, it is way beyond that.

What has our hearts is the subtlety in the scenes dealing with the feelings the two have for each other. You know its love, they know its love, but letting it go is all that they can do. We need tissues in abundance at this point.

Pratik Shah’s cinematography captures the set-up nicely. The beautiful snow-clad valley of Kashmir turns out to be a gateway to this dark colourless world of Kainaaz. The background score is there to make you uneasy, the chaos around Vedant in the outer world, and the deadly silence around Kainaaz in the jail is noticeable.

Mohit Raina as Vedant is perfect. Though the set-up is similar to his last outing URI: The Surgical Strike, the actor brings newness to this part.

Nay: Just two things, in the course of the show, the script mentions the Kashmiri Pandits, and a few other things which are hit-and-miss. A more subtle approach might have driven the point home more effectively. Also, the time frame in the first half gets a bit confusing.

CineBlitz Verdict: By the climax, a poem in Dia’s voice written by Swanand Kirkire plays in the background. It roughly read “Log ladte hai milne ki khaatir, par apni to bichad jaane ki ladaai thi,” if that doesn’t hit you hard, then nothing will. Watch Kaafir, and you must, for Dia, for the writing, and the love that is never really confessed. A series that deals responsibly with a sensitive topic and emerges a winner. We fully recommend watching this Zee5 Original.

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