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Mere Pyare Prime Minister review: Kids steal your heart, the film doesn’t!

Mere Pyare Prime Minister review: The film addresses several issues, but isn’t preachy at any point

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Over the years, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has come to be recognised for his unique brand of cinema. Hard-hitting without any compromise on quality entertainment is how we would describe it. And though there are films on the filmmaker’s repertoire that would defy this, the brilliance of his films like Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag will forever overshadow the rest that do not make the cut. In his latest offering, Mere Pyare Prime Minister, Mehra at once addresses multiple issues, but doesn’t make it preachy at any level. Open defecation, crime against women, the mindset towards rape victims, awareness of sexual health, corruption, disparity between the rich and the poor – are some of the several issues addressed in this straight-from-the-heart simple film.

What Mere Pyare Prime Minister is all about? Sargam (Anjali Patil) is a spirited single mother residing in Gandhi Nagar slum with her street-savvy eight-year-old son Kanhaiyya aka Kannu (Om Kanojiya). The mother-son duo shares a strong and loving bond and Kannu is ready to go to any length to ensure his mother’s happiness. A happy-go-lucky pair, the mother stitches clothes for a living. On the other hand, Kannu does odd jobs while working on a newspaper vending stall run by Pappu (Niteesh Wadhwa). Pappu has a soft spot for Sargam and is clearly besotted by her. The slum does not have any public toilets and so while the men and children use the nearby water-pipelines to defecate, the women go out in groups late at night to other nearby areas. On one such night, Sargam is raped. This incident prompts Kannu to do something about the toilet issue in their slum. However, the local authorities refuse to take up his request of building a common toilet in the area – since the slum is on a disputed property between BMC and the Railways. After coming up with several other ingenious ways to get the toilet made and failing Kannu comes up with an idea. An optimistic Kannu along with two of his friends – Ringtone and Niraala – sets out to meet the Prime Minister to request him to build a toilet, not for him, but for his mother.

Yay: The chemistry between the four children – Kannu, Ringtone, Niraala, Mangla is the best part about the film. Their innocence is charming too. There are some endearing moments in the film like the scene where Kannu builds a makeshift toilet for his mother. There’s also a scene where Kannu is distributing free condoms to passers-by. Although how justifiable is a scene in which a child is made to distribute free condoms in exchange for money by a social worker is highly debatable. Then there’s Kannu using the rather posh washroom of the firang social-worker in the way he thinks is right.

When it comes to performances, the kids are fun to watch, and perform effortlessly. Full marks for the casting here. Atul Kulkarni as the PM’s senior officer is impactful even in a small role and his interaction with the children brings a smile. Anjali Patil looks comfortable in her role, as does Makarand Deshpande as a lecherous local. Rasika Agashe as the neighbour Rabiya di is impressive. A plus of the film is that while skimming the surface of a plethora of issues plaguing the country at large including corruption, crime against women, and addressing STDs, the film is breezy and at no point weighs you down with the seriousness of the causes.

Nay: We have seen films like I AM Kalam, where a boy from a small village sets out to meet the President. The film had you rooting for the little boy. Unfortunately, you just can’t seem to empathise or feel much for the mother son-duo here. In trying to keep the film from being very serious and striving to keep the entertainment factor balanced, the filmmaker falters big time. None of the issues seem to reach a depth that would make the audience truly feel for the character or their situation. A forced anti-climax doesn’t help either. The language of the dialogues between the mother and son seems out of place. The mother-child chemistry is also not as poignant as it could’ve been. Sargam and Pappu’s romantic track though well-done, is simply too-good-to-be-true. Story is predictable and too simplified which might not appeal to multiplex audience. At the same time there are just too many issues that may not click with single screen audiences either.

CineBlitz verdict: Mehra’s sincere and simple approach and an earnest effort as a filmmaker to address several issues reflects throughout the film. But it is in his attempt to try and not make it preachy that he falls short. It’s almost like the filmmaker was holding back what his heart wanted to truly showcase. His film may have to pay a price for this compromise. Mehra’s intentions are commendable; the film however leaves much to desire. The film is strictly an okay-watch and may not tickle your cinematic palette in a theatre.

Rating: 2.5 stars


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PM Narendra Modi Review: The Omung Kumar directed biopic releases at an apt time- when PM Modi secures his electoral win!

Vivek Anand Oberoi nails the portrayal of PM Narendra Modi to the T.

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The biopic of PM Narendra Modi has been fraught with controversy from the word go. The 136-minute film is supposedly releasing in 23 Indian languages. Beginning shooting in January 2019, the film was shot and readied for release in record time, but came up against numerous obstacles, when the Goa unit of the student wing of the Congress Party, wrote to the Election Commission to ban the screening of the film, claiming that it  violated the model code of conduct of elections. The Supreme Court of India rejected the plea saying that the Election Commission needed to address this issue. Originally scheduled to release on 12th April, the EC stopped the release of the movie till the elections were over, to avoid any risk, saying that any biopic that had the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections could not be displayed in the electronic media.  And so the film release date was shifted to 24th May, and what a day it will be for the filmmakers, considering the outcome of the Election as it was revealed today!

What it’s about: The film is inspired by and based on the life of Narendra Damodardas Modi, current Prime Minister, (the 14th PM of Independent India) and traces his story from childhood to the day he marches to Delhi to be sworn in as The Prime Minister of the country. It portrays his struggle to make his mark in the business of politics, without money or status, coming as he did from humble beginnings, but purely on the strength of his ‘incredible’ character! The film was shot entirely in Uttarkashi and Gujarat.

Yay: Vivek Anand Oberoi as PM Narendra Modi not just looks the part due to some excellent make-up by Preetisheel Singh, but lives the role perfectly, that you barely glimpse the actor. You only see Modi. Everything from his body language to his tonal inflections and posture and gait have been worked on perfectly. Zarina Wahab as his mother plays her part with emotion and stoicism, creating a poignant relationship between her and her son. Manoj Joshi is also highly effective in his role resembling Amit Shah. Mukesh Chhabra and his team have cast perfectly the entire bunch of actors, both, in terms of looks as well as performances. Prashant Narayanan as Adityavarma Reddy, the scheming industrialist walking the corridors of power and politics is also effectively played. And oh yes, Boman Irani was brilliant in a 5 minute cameo as Sir Ratan Tata.

Also, the part about Narendra Modi’s early life before he joined the RSS, when he goes north to the Himalayas in search of his self and purpose is nicely done. Thanks to some good cinematography by Sunita Radia.

Nay: The film is ‘oh so paint me pink’ (can’t even say that without being politically incorrect) – an out-and-out propaganda vehicle, that glorifies Modi, absolves him of all things negative that he was accused of, even going so far as to show him as a  victim of political games and opposition tactics when it came to the Godhra riots. It is blatantly obsequious and smarmy in parts. Claiming to use material from three existing books on the man, one is doubtful about how far they have stretched the truth. It is Narendra Modi the perfect child, the ideal and idealistic youngster, growing into the Karmayogi and ‘asli mard’ to take over the chair In Delhi – all too golden. Dr Manmohan Singh’s caricature came across in bad taste. And the moments of bombastic and dramatic sweeping jibes taken at near everyone opposing the man ring completely hollow- making it laughable.  And yes, the chai making scene in the halls of the ministry!

The rest of this Omung Kumar directed feature, leaves you still wishing to know what metal, not mettle, the Prime Minister is made of really. The film is jointly produced by Anand Pandit, Suresh Oberoi, Acharya Manish and Sandip Ssingh. Vivek Oberoi has also been given credit as co-writer of screenplay and dialogues for the story, along with Anirudh Chawla, and Harsh Limbachiyaa. Story credit has Sandeep Ssingh’s name.

CineBlitz Verdict: Narendra Modi Bhakts may predictably throng the theatres after today’s sweeping victory. Since the makers have made it with the utmost sincerity, watch it. But don’t be surprised if you emerge from the cinema hall, sputtering and incredulous at the sheer nerve of this portrayal. We are sure it’s had the blessing of the PM though. It could truly indulge a megalomaniac. All those cinematic liberties in the disclaimer at the beginning have been fully exercised, and calculatingly used. This one is for the believers!

Rating: 2.5 stars

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India’s Most Wanted Review: Arjun Kapoor makes a sincere attempt, but the film fails to pack in a punch

India’s Most Wanted Review: Inspite of Arjun Kapoor’s earnest performance, the Raj Kumar Gupta directorial falls short of making it to the must-watch list

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Star Rating:

Bollywood has been dishing out some really high doses of patriotic fervor for quite some time now. And filmmakers have clearly been milking this sentiment to the max at the box office. Raj Kumar Gupta’s latest big screen offering, India’s Most Wanted starring Arjun Kapoor is yet another one joining these ranks. The film undoubtedly rides high on patriotism, but does it ride high enough to become worth a watch? Read on to find out:

What India’s Most Wanted is all about: India is rocked by several serial blasts that take place across the country within a span of three years (2008-2010). However, India’s top intelligence agencies are absolutely clueless about who the mastermind behind them is. This faceless terrorist is just referred to as the ‘Ghost’ or ‘India’s Osama’. Intelligence department’s Patna-based field officer Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor) gets a call from a source hinting that India’s Most Wanted terrorist aka Ghost may be hiding in Nepal. Prabhat is one of those officers who wouldn’t bat an eyelid before dying for the country. So, when the agent is refused any kind of help or support from the department heads in Delhi, he along with his team of four other officers, pool in their personal savings to make the trip across border and catch the dreaded terrorist in a covert mission aided by his immediate senior played by Rajesh Sharma. In this mission he is also joined by five more undercover cops.

While in Nepal, they find themselves in danger not only from radicals, but also ISI agents who are active and hot in their pursuit. Prabhat and his team find themselves alone on this risky operation with not even a weapon to protect them and no technical or financial support. Do they succeed in this mission and how is what the film is all about.

Yay: There’s no mistake that the film has its heart and intentions in the right place, even if it lacks the brilliance in execution. Arjun Kapoor, who skips the herogiri to keep it all real, is one of the best things about the film. Like, there’s a scene where he is chased by three guys. Instead of turning around and beating them up, he is shown to return to his hotel room, panting and out of breath! Though the story and narrative fail to lift his performance much, Arjun’s sincere and earnest efforts do come across easily. We do hope the actor gets more roles that would do justice to his acting caliber of which he shows bright sparks.

Arjun in his efforts is ably supported by Rajesh Sharma, who proves that you don’t have to be a hero to shine in a movie. The slack pace of the story takes a toll on pretty much the entire scope for the actors to perform, but the rest of the cast also does a good job anyway.

Another strong point about the film is that it is minus any dramatic frills and bereft of heavy dialogue-baazi or jingoism that would weigh it down. Full credit to the director Raj Kumar Gupta for this! The director also translates the red–tapism of our system effectively on screen. The film has been shot well and has a realistic feel.

Nay: The narrative fails to allow the film to reach the zenith of that patriotic fervor where you would oversee the loopholes in the film’s story and instead focus on wanting Arjun to find and take down the baddie. So while you see yourself cheer for Team India, the excitement does not set in until the last half an hour of the film.

Also the narrative is punctuated so often by scenes of actual blasts followed by the same music playing each time, that to be honest it seemed forced. As a result, they lose their shock value as well as emotional sentiment! The ‘Ghost’s’ sermons following these blasts scenes feel like such a drag that you wish Arjun would take him down quicker to save us and spare us the horror of hearing his monologues over and over again.

The film needed to be tighter in the first half and more gripping in the second. The music is barely noticeable otherwise. The Vande Matram song is the only time that the music scores high.

CineBlitz Verdict: Although not bad for a one-time watch, overall India’s Most Wanted lacked that punch which would have otherwise easily made it a must-watch film! Predictable in most parts, the film does have its high moments, but they are too few and far in between. As a director who has given us films like No One Killed Jessica and Raid, Gupta lets us down here. The performances and some thrilling moments in the second half however make it worth a watch. Also watch it as an ode to the country’s unsung heroes and that dash of patriotism and you won’t be disappointed.

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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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