Set in the breathtaking landscapes of Uttarakhand, Kedarnath is an inter-faith romance story with the backdrop of the nightmare of the 2013 floods. Abhishek Kapoor and Kanika Dhillon together, have created a quirky tale of romance where the person in charge of the angle is the girl Mandakini, played by Sara Ali Khan, and her love interest is Mansoor, played by Sushant Singh Rajput. Writer Kanika Dhillon is obsessed with complicated characters and in all the good ways. Matlab, tedha inka normal hai. Women in her universe are the opposite of everything that we expect them to be!
Let’s first talk about the woman of the hour, Sara Ali Khan. If this was her performance in her debut, I am on excitement level 200 to see her future projects. God, she wears her character like her own skin and doesn’t look misfit for even a minute. Dialogue delivery, body language, tonality, emotions, everything on point. Her character is very similar to that of Rumi from Manmarziyaan not on steroids. Not that it feels repetitive, but you can figure out. She has her conflicts in her mind, feels that the world revolves around her, and is everything that you don’t expect a girl living in Kedarnath to be. Sara plays the part well.
Sushant plays the part like he is expected to and is good to watch on screen. As the deep, intense, mysterious one, he gets the emotions right. As a pair, he and Sara look great together. Kedarnath majorly belongs to the behind the screen department. Locations, sets, costumes and even the VFX, everything shows that their surrounding is much bigger than them, but they still are the ones to be noticed. The VFX is especially good.
A special mention to the background score of the film. It keeps you on edge during the flood scenes and doesn’t allow you to even blink. If Amit Trivedi doesn’t get every award for his song albums this year, we should call off all of them. Namo Namo is on a loop. There is a little ‘whhhattt?’ moment when Sushant starts dancing like a DID ( Dance India Dance)contestant, and it cuts you a bit. Also, the narrative after the flooding, starts rushing and doesn’t let you connect to anything happening. That apart, Kedarnath is a decent watch.
PS: They have cut a crucial part from a dialogue. WHY?
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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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