Monday 22 August 2016

Queen of Katwe - Day:882

It has been a long time Mira Nair has made a film so one is happy to read that Nair’s next is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and John Carl David Oyelowo and starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga Disney’s Queen of Katwe tells the vibrant true story of a young girl Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) from the streets of rural Uganda, whose world changes when she is introduced to the game of chess. With the support she receives from her family and community, she is instilled with confidence and determination into becoming an international chess champion.

Mira has always chosen unusual subjects to make films and this on will open in Indian theaters in September, 2016.


Friday 19 August 2016

Happy is quite sad actually - DAY 880

Film Review: Happy Bhaag Jayegi                       
Date: August 19 2016
Director: Muddassar Aziz                                                

Cast: Diana Penty, Abhay Deol, Jimmy Shergill, Ali Fazal, Momal Sheikh
Rating: 2 stars **

Color Yellow& Krishika Lulla’s Happy Bhaag Jayegi is a prime example of the saying that never judge a book by its cover and a film by its trailer.
Here is a film that had all the ingredients of an entertainer- adventure, humor, romance, ambition and envy but somehow the chef fails to cook up an exotic dish.
On the night of her sangit Happy Singh/ Diana Penty escapes from her bathroom window to jump into a waiting truck sent by her boyfriend/ Ali Fazal except she jumps into the wrong truck and is transported with a pile of fruits to Lahore’s politician Bilal Ahmed/ Abhay Deol’s home.
Bilal has to protect his father from a scandal and struggles to find a solution. In the meantime Happy’s bauji/ Kanwaljeet Singh and boyfriend Guddu/ Ali Fazal are confused where Happy has disappeared.
Muddassar Aziz’s screenplay is yet another story on the cross border relationship (Veer Zaara, Filmistaan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan) and how an Indian in Lahore and Pakistani in Amritsar feel same to same in their neighboring countries.
The problem with the film is that end of two hours the writer acquaints you with every character except the protagonist.
Granted that Happy is attractive, spontaneous and loves a loser but there’s nothing extra-ordinary about her to intimidate abductors, Pakistan police and overwhelm a powerful politician. The director takes it for granted that his protagonist is special and forgets to share the reasons with his audience.
Of the cast Jimmy Shergill as Daman Singh Bagga and Momal Sheikh as Zoya are engaging and Abhay Deol as Bilal Ahmed is praise worthy. Diana Penty looks the part and delivers her lines but her internal machinery does not work.
Watch Happy Bhaag Jayegi only if you are an Abhay Deol fan.

Bhawana Somaaya


Thursday 18 August 2016

Special date for many - DAY 879

Wishing Parsi New Year to all my friends
Happy Birthday to Gulzar saab: he is a poet, painter, writer, lyricist dabbles with theatre/ cinema and many other mediums. He is 80 and productive every single day. He is a rock star!

Happy Birthday to Aruna Irani: She started on the Rangbhoomi as a little girl and was nine when she starred as a child star in Ganga Jamuna, so many decades and so many films/ serials later Aruna Irani is not out.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Raksha Bandhan is no more about commitments - DAY 878

There was a time no Hindi film was complete without a bhaiya behna song but over the years the raksha bandhan festival has disappeared from our films. Is it because our society has changed or does this reflect on the image of our superstars and concerns of filmmakers? Today, the woman on the screen and in real life has broken all shackles, today raksha bandhan is a festival to make merry, the sister does not expect protection from her brother and the brother is happy not to make any commitments.
More in my column in The Quint


Friday 12 August 2016

MohenjoDarro :Hrithik Roshan all the way - DAY 877 (1)

Film Review: MohenjoDarro
Date: July 12 2016                                                              

Director: AshutoshGowariker
Cast: HrithikRoshan, PoojaHegde
Rating: 2.5 stars **1/2

Set amid the ancient Indus Valley civilization circa 2016 B.C.E, an indigo farmer from Amri, Sindh named Sarman (HrithikRoshan) has a dream to travels upriver to the largest city, Mohenjo-daro and one day, his dream comes true.
In the new land Samran makes new friends and enemies and is attracted to the head priest’s daughter Chaani (Pooja Hegde), he is unwittingly drawn into the problems of the villagersand battles to bring them justice.
To give credit to Ashutosh Gowariker and his creative team they conjure a new world and introduce us to an imaginary lifestyle, costume and language. The unfortunate bit is that this dramatic world is not engaging. Something is missing and you are unable to connect to the narrative and the characters. The pace is slow, the scenes too long and the action never ending. Romance is a high point in all Ashutosh Gowariker films but debutant PoojaHegde makes certain to leave you untouched.
Hero Hrithik Roshan gives his best in every shot, looks like a prince and fights like a warrior (crocodile or monster), he is gallant with the horses, kind to the helpless and punishes the cruel king and saves an entire civilization but his victory leaves you somehow unaffected.
The film has many flaws but considering the scale and the magnitude efforts, the intention has to be applauded. Watch MohenjoDarro for the courageous climax and for HrithikRoshan who sparkles every time he is on the screen.

BhawanaSomaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Rustom :Akshay Kumar all the way - DAY 877

Film Review: Rustom           

Date: July 12 2016
Director: Tinnu Suresh Desai
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ileana Dcruz, Esha Gupta, ArjanBajwa
Rating: 2.5 stars**1/2

Producer NeerajPandey and director Tinnu Suresh Desai travel you into time when Mumbai city was Bombay in 1959, when the skyline was clear, the streets not crowded and the cars distinctly different. The policemen wore ink blue uniforms and people madelightening trunk calls. Life was simpler then but love and relationships were as tempting and fatal.
Inspired from the notorious case of KM Nanavati v/s State of Maharashtra that challenged and defied the judicial system, Rustom tells the story of decorated naval officer RustomPavriwho murdered his wife’s lover point blank and then surrendered himself to the police.The legal question was, did he plan the murder or was it an emotional reaction? Was RustomPavri guilty of murdering his friend PremAhuja or was he not guilty?
What works about the film is the art design and the deliberations in the courtroom. What doesn’t is the slow pace, the background score and some unconvincing traits of characters. Why is Rutom in his uniform all the time?  He says he does not want any special treatment but is given a solitary cell where he plays chess. He is not a professional lawyer so how does he accumulate witnesses sitting inside the jail? What happens to the 5crore transfer?
While some props and locations are applause worthy like the Bombay streets and the vehicles, some are embarrassingly fake like the old airport and currency; still it will not be fair to dismissRustom as just a crime/ courtroom drama. This is a story of love and deceit, of complex relationships and principles.
The film would have been more impactful if the women characters were more convincing but all IleanaDcruzdoes is cry and Esha Gupta wears red lipstick and raise eyebrows. Akshay Kumar is the only one who delivers a sterling performance.
The controversial case has inspired two films in the past- RK Nayyar’s Ye RaasteHaiPyaarKe/1963 more on adultery and Gulzar’s Achanak/1973 on medical profession.
Rustom should be watched because the case challenged not just the state but changed the direction of police, media, law and judicial system. It was the first time the public outrage forced the jury to change verdict.

BhawanaSomaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film- DAY 876

Osianama’s Masterclass in Acting is part of the 1st Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film, Arts & Animal Welfare. This week will feature Naseeruddin Shah, arguably one of India's greatest film and theatre actors in conversation with Neville Tuli. 

The actor will discuss his journey from the New Wave cinema NishantMirch MasalaAlbert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata HaiBhavni BhavaiSparsh and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron to mainstream masala films from Masoom to Tridev to Karma.


Monday 8 August 2016

Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film- DAY 875

Osianama’s Masterclass in Acting is part of the 1st Animal-Human-Nature Continuum International Festival of Film, Arts & Animal Welfare. This week will feature Naseeruddin Shah, arguably one of India's greatest film and theatre actors in conversation with Neville Tuli. 
The actor will discuss his journey from the New Wave cinema NishantMirch MasalaAlbert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata HaiBhavni BhavaiSparsh and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron to mainstream masala films from Masoom to Tridev to Karma.


Friday 5 August 2016

Saluting Budhia - DAY 874

Film Review: Budhia Born To Run                           

Date: July 05 2016
Director: Soumendra Padhi
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Mayur Patole
Rating: 4 stars****

Based on a true story of Odisha’s miracle runner Budhia Awooga Singh, the little boy was sold to a bangle seller by his impoverished widow mother. Biranchi Das, a local judo coach and orphanage operator brings him to live with the other kids under his care.
One day, Biranchi notices him harassing other kids and punishes him to run around the campus till he is asked to stop. Five hours later when Biranchi returns from his work, he discovers that the boy is still running. A medical checkup reveals he is fit and normal and that’s when Biranchi Das decides to train Budhia to run marathons.
By the age of 4, Budhia accomplished 48 marathons which includes Bhubaneshwar to Puri covering a distance of 65 kms in just 7 hours and 2 minutes and is listed as the youngest marathon runner in the Limca Book of World Records in 2006.
This is a film about Budhiya’s will and skill and more important. about his submission to his coach. It is a story about the courage and the vision of his coach Biranchi Das, a story of their families and most important, a story of concerns - those raised by child welfare, the sports council, advertisers, lawyers, doctors, journalists, politicians and society at large.
When you come out of the theatre you are thinking about the 5 year old. It is fair to make him go through what he did at a tender age? Will all this not affect his health and future?  Today Budhia is 13 and he is already burnt out, is one of the 150-odd children at the Kalinga Stadium hostel, Bhubaneswar. He doesn’t run anymore and his hours of rigorous session have reduced too.
He is still a legend for the state of Odissha but even Budhia knows it will never be the same. Maybe things would have been different if his coach was alive or he had found another deserving coach in these years, but that did not happen!
Watch National Award for Best Children Film 2016 Budhiya Born to Run for the outstanding cinematography by Manoj Kumar Khatoi and sharp editing by Shivkumar Panicer. Manoj Bajpayee delivers yet another sensitive performance and little Mayur Patole is a revelation but finally the film belongs to the wit, grit and vision of writer director Soumendra Padhi.
What a film, Soumendra, take a bow!

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

Thursday 4 August 2016



Tuesday 2 August 2016

Remembering Meena Kumari - DAY 872

Meena Kumari is no more but continues to live in our memories through her films and her  poetry, reproducing some passages….
The Empty Shop
Why has Time spread out its wares before me?     
Where are the things
I used to buy?
These spurious toys of pleasure
Paper of fame
These wax dolls of wealth
Locked in glass cases
(That can melt at anyone’s touch)
These are not the things I wish to buy

A handsome dream of love
That can sooth my eyes
A moment of perfect intimacy
That can soothe my restless soul
I came looking for nothing but these
And the shop of Time Supplies none of these things.

Unseen Footsteps
I wonder
How long ago
The moon was born
The young moonlight
Has made a pathway
On the ocean
On which
I see no traveler
Hear the sounds of footsteps
The sound of unseen footsteps…