Whodunnits are a tricky affair in cinema. It’s not often that one sees a filmmaker ace in serving a deliciously whipped thriller that’ll keep you guessing and engaged right till the end. This breed of filmmakers is rarer still in Bollywood. Today the challenge in the genre also lies in battling the constant threat and fear of the ending being leaked, revealed or unraveled, not in the climax scene on the big screen, but via the chats and messages on the phone screens that travel faster than the word-of-mouth! However, master filmmakers figured out an aeon ago that the true victory lies in making a film that would draw an audience even if they know how it ends (you know the journey being as much fun as the joy of reaching the destination). That obviously explains the repeat value of the greats in the genre. Closer home, Prakash Kovelamudi has ventured into Bollywood tapping this very genre with his whodunnit Judgementall Hai Kya. So, does this Ekta Kapoor-produced thriller starring Rajkummar Rao pass the litmus test? Read on to find out:
What Judgementall Hai Kya is all about:
After witnessing her parents’ accidental deaths as a child, Bobby (Kangana Ranaut) grows up to be a complex and layered adult suffering from acute psychosis. In fact, she is required to take regular medication to keep it in check. A professional dubbing artist, she tends to internalise and obsess over the female characters she dubs for to such an extent that she starts believing that she is really them and starts seeing herself in their situations.
But that’s not all. Wanting to be them, she finds an easy way out by getting herself clicked in those avatars or getting herself photoshopped in others. She also has another quirk! She loves origami, which she only does using newspaper cuttings of cases of rape, domestic violence or abuse. She even does a brief stint in an asylum readily after attacking a senior colleague who tries to make a sexual advance. She is also somewhat wary of men and looks at them suspiciously. And through it all, bearing her idiosyncrasies is her boyfriend Varun (Hussain Dalal). On her return from the mental asylum, a young married couple Keshav and Rima (Rajkummar Rao and Amyra Dastur) move in as her tenants. A death follows and Bobby is convinced that Keshav is the killer. But is he really? Or is it her psychosis taking an ugly grip over her reality and distorting facts? There starts the mystery.
One of the initial disclaimers at the start of the film mentioned that no animals were harmed in the making. And also that the cockroach in the film is shown using the CGI effect. Well, the cockroach bit had us intrigued. And from that moment on, the film has been one taut thriller keeping us on the edge-of-our-seat right till the end. To begin with, we are blown over by the fantastic performances of the lead actors. Rajkummar Rao in a slightly more macho zone is super-impressive and his chemistry with Amyra is sizzling hot. He is a delight on screen and proves that he can fit any role with ease and to perfection. Amrita Puri (Bobby’s cousin sister) has also done well.
The surprise package and one of the best things about the film is Hussain Dalal who plays the ‘out-of-love-luck’ boyfriend hilariously well. At one point, he and Bobby are shown grocery-shopping and discussing potatoes where she tells him to be as adjustable as the vegetable. Be like aloo, he is told. His equation with Bobby is just too funny and he’s also got the best share of the dialogues. Also there’s the scene when he complains to the cops (Satish Kaushik and Brajesh Kala) about an unused condom lying in his pocket for over two years. He just shines through his scenes. The two actors – Satisk and Brajesh – are comical and add to the zing. Jimmy Shergill once again charms effortlessly!
The actors apart, the two real stars of the film – the brilliant direction (Prakash Kovelamudi) and the cracker dialogues (Kanika Dhillon). The dark psychological thriller is helmed to near-perfection and not a single dialogue that won’t get a reaction. Take a bow there Kanika Dhillon, we’d give an extra star just for her writing. Every dialogue and its delivery hits home. The stark nature of Bobby’s mental illness and the intensity is balanced subtly with humour, twists and delicious turns. The director knew exactly what he was doing and the deft handling of sensitive issues shows his grip on the craft. The references to Ramayana present an interesting take too.
The sound design, lights and the music enhance the story and are used effectively. The renditions of the hit song Tauba tauba kya hoga are timed perfectly and used really well through the film.
Well, frankly there isn’t much we’d want to see changed. But there are some parts in the first half that seemed a bit stretched and then towards the climax some parts seemed just too rushed. Some part also got a bit confusing. That spoilt the fun by a few degrees.
One of the best imports from the South is undoubtedly director Prakash Kovelamudi. He’s aced the genre as a master storyteller and the suspense holds strong right till the end. The elements of humour, drama, mystery and Bobby’s world – all blend into each other seamlessly. If 2018 had Andhadhun, 2019 has Judgementall Hai Kya. The quirkiness of the narrative interlaced with dark humour and gritty moments is a refreshing change and it resonates throughout the film. The madness of the characters is well-portrayed. Rajkummar Rao is a treat to watch on screen. The twists and turns are unpredictable and keep you hooked right till the end. Overall, it’s one crazy fun-ride with a cat-and-mouse-chase you wouldn’t want to miss. This sinfully dark and twisted fare is gripping and gets our thumbs up!
Dream Girl review: Ayushmann Khurrana shines again!
Ayushmann Khurrana is not going wrong with any of his brave movie choices. The actor shines effortlessly in and as Dream Girl
This is the third film released within a span of a week that owes its strength to its screenwriting. Chhichhore, Section 375 and now Dream Girl, this week has been good for writer-directors. Dream Girl relies heavily on its dialogue and capable shoulders of Ayushmann Khurrana. And both help the film sail through easy-breezy. Ayushmann Khurrana plays Karam Singh, a youth from Gokul, Mathura struggling to find a job. He has been portraying roles of Seeta, Draupadi, Radha in the mythological plays since he was a child. He can imitate a woman’s voice to perfection.
Struggling to find a job even after completing his M.A. he eventually takes up a job at a ‘friendship call centre’. He speaks in a woman’s voice, pretending to be a girl named Pooja. He aces the job, starts making big bucks, falls in love with a girl, gets the girl, pays off the loan of his father and everything is going hunky dory.
In a film, things can’t go well for too long. Without conflict, there’s no fun. The conflict in Karam aka Pooja’s life does occur before the intermission when he realizes who he has been talking to as Pooja’s customers. Writer-director Raaj Shaandilyaa keeps things witty and free-flowing. Nothing looks force-fit. The situational comedy comes out naturally. The characters don’t look caricatures. And there are no villains for the heck of it.
However, Dream Girl has its loose ends. For instance, it’s a little difficult to digest how a girl doesn’t know what her fiancé does for a living. Karam aka Pooja manages to overcome any hurdle without much trouble. People around him/her may seem troublesome but not much. Maybe, sometimes, that’s how real life turns out that easy; albeit for a brief phase. Life is all about perspective and so are films. The loose ends of the films don’t hurt too much as humor makes up for it.
Writer-director Shaandilyaa keeps it popcorn entertainment and thankfully doesn’t become preachy towards the business end. His direction doesn’t look like that of a first-time director either. Annu Kapoor, Vijay Raaz, Manjot Singh and Abhishek Banerjee do great justice to their supporting roles. Nushrat Bharucha has little to do as the film is mounted on Mr. Dependable Ayushmann Khurrana’s shoulders.
In his last three releases Andhadhun, Article 15 and now Dream Girl Ayushmann has portrayed polar opposite characters. In all his films he has managed to get into the skin of the character and managed to make it look effortless. Ayushmann Khurrana aka Pooja’s story in and as Dream Girl is a laugh-riot. So, if you’re looking out for fun-filled two hours in a movie theatre then there’s no harm in watching Dream Girl.
Section 375 review: Justice and law battle it out in this sensible courtroom drama!
Akshaye Khanna spearheads Section 375 with his brilliant performance but the film’s real strength lies in its clever writing and direction.
A lot has changed in the Hindi film industry in last few years as some of the age-old themes have found contemporary voices of writers and directors. One of those themes is courtroom drama. Bollywood seems to be getting over the over-sensationalised courtroom dramas where the lawyers are yelling over the top of their lung capacity and the judges are merely doing “order-order”. Director Subhash Kapoor’s thoroughly entertaining Jolly LLB and Jolly LLB 2, Anubhav Sinha’s thought provoking Mulk, and Chaitanya Tamhane’s poignant Court are some of the notable courtroom dramas in recent times. Director Ajay Bahl’s Section 375 – Marzi Ya Zabardasti is the new addition to this list. Point to be noted, the judges in these films have a great say in the cases than just delivering the verdict.
Section 375 decodes the rape law in India through a debate between following the law and whether justice has been done. A film director Rohan Khurana (Rahul Bhat) is accused of rape by a costume assistant Anjali Dangle (Meera Chopra). (Seems like loosely taken from actor Shiney Ahuja’s case.) The matter is taken to the court and the drama begins to unfold.
The narrative does not take anyone’s side. Rather it keeps you in pursuit of the truth through its twisted tale – his side, her side. The sympathy in any of the cases goes to the victim. How do you find the truth and most importantly how do you make sure that justice is done? The best thing that anyone associated with the cases – police, forensics, lawyers – can do is follow the law. It’s a complex and sensitive puzzle to solve.
Watch the Section 375 trailer here:
There are no fine lines in such cases, at least the one that this film shows. The lines have been blurred and crossed. Telling you more about the story will hurt your movie watching experience as the strength of Section 375 lies in the way the story unfolds, literally scene by scene.
Making a film on such a sensitive issue as rape in a rapidly growing, poorly informed, and easily manipulated population is difficult. Making an entertaining and though provoking film is even tougher. Writer Manish Gupta (Sarkar) who has also made films like The Stoneman Murders, Rahasya provides all the information on the law and its layers, and plots the arguments between lawyers Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) of the accused and Hiral Gandhi (Richa Chadha) the prosecutor.
No emotional speeches, no feisty rivalries between the battling lawyers, no one getting into a physical fight in the court. It’s a breather from all the nonsense we have grown up watching. Director Ajay Bahl (he made B.A. Pass) and cinematographer Sudhir K. Chaudhary do away with the traditional pans and dollys. Instead they take multiple angles of the same scene, just like the story tries to show the different aspects of such cases and law. Even though it’s cleverly written and finely executed, Section 375 is a disturbing experience for the issue it tries to address. So, should it be watched in theatres? Yes.
Chhichhore review: Nitesh Tiwari’s masterpiece is hilariously profound and overwhelming!
In Chhichhore, there’s less gyaan; more fun and emotion. Nitesh Tiwari’s masterpiece is hilariously profound and overwhelming.
It begins with a dunk fight at the hostel, started by Sexa (Varun Sharma) and Anni (Sushant Singh Rajput). All the boys of the hostel in their undies are throwing water over each other. Cut to years later when Anni is a mid-forty mature, grim father of a son. I wondered whether it is a version of Nitesh Tiwari (film’s writer-director) himself? It is known that this film is a semi-memoir of Tiwari’s college life. The film is being narrated to the audience as well as to Anni’s son by Anni and his college friends Sexa, Derek (Tahir Raj Bhasin), Acid (Naveen Polishetty), Mummy (Tushar Pandey), and Maya (Shraddha Kapoor).
The film finely shifts between 90s and present day, often between similar situations and dialogues in both times. Too much, too literal? Not at all. From Mansoor Khan’s Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar to the fantasy-world Student of The Year, Bollywood has produced many films like this. But Chhichhore is unique for its masterful storytelling. I can’t recollect a Bollywood movie managing to pull off A-grade dialogues describing ‘dirty’ things, putting across the point without being on-the-face, and not getting sloppy even for one scene.
Chhichhore is all in its writing (Nitesh Tiwari, Nikhil Mehrotra, and Piyush Gupta). And all the actors do a splendid job performing the written material. You can easily relate with the film/characters. Because whether or not you have gone to college, an Engineering one for that matter, you must have grown up with people like these. Film’s comparison to Rajkumar Hirani’s hugely popular 3 Idiots is inevitable. But Chhichhore surpasses it. While 3 Idiots was about teaching the education system a lesson and following your dreams, Chhichhore shows that there’s much more to college than just records and marks and achievements – sans the massy dramatisation.
Watch the Chhichhore trailer here:
Anybody who has watched the climax of Dangal, knows how well Nitesh Tiwari can show sports sequences. The climax of Chhichhore does not disappoint either. Bollywood filmmakers often exaggerate in order to make a point. But Tiwari and his co-writers and editor keep things natural, subtle and easy going. The ‘losers’ as the friends have been called in the hostel, haven’t achieved anything great in their lives. But that’s how real life is.
Probably that’s what the makers have aimed to show here. They succeed in keeping it close-knit around the college that happens outside the classrooms. Strangers meeting, giving each other tough time, later becoming friends for life. If you think of it, that’s what matters eventually.
Notable mentions in terms of acting performances: Varun Sharma as Sexa delivers a delightful performance. He delivers the film’s best punchlines. Sushant Singh Rajput as Anni, is earnest. His portrayal of the middle-aged version of his character is more convincing than the younger one. Shraddha Kapoor, Tahir Raj Bhasin, and Naveen Polishetty do a fine job too.
Hindi films are not known for being study material for use of colour, sound, editing and background score in the cinephiles’ world. But Chhichhore can become one of the firsts. Director Nitesh Tiwari has beautifully created the world of 90s. Everything flows naturally and smoothly. There’s less gyaan; more fun and emotion. It is hilariously profound. I’m not a big sucker for nostalgia but this film makes you want to reflect on the college life. This masterpiece by Nitesh Tiwari left me overwhelmed.
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