Anandi Gopal (2019) – Movie Review

Extraordinary story of an ordinary couple.

Anandi Gopal is a biographical period drama Marathi film written by Karan Shrikant Sharma, and directed by Sameer Vidwans.

The film is a biopic of Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, also referred to as the first lady doctor of India. Originally named Yamuna (before marriage), Anandi was born and raised in Kalyan, Mumbai. In 1874, As per the practice of that time, Anandi (Bhagyashree Milind ) was married at the age of nine to Gopalrao Joshi (Lalit Prabhakar), a stubborn widower, who was almost twenty years older than her. Even at that time, Gopalrao was a progressive thinker about supporting education for women. And before getting married to Anandi, the same condition he puts forward that his wife would get educated and would go to medical school. It is the rebellious and extraordinary tale of an ordinary couple of becoming victorious against all odds. Gopalrao’s consistent support and Anandi’s focus and determination for becoming the India’s first lady doctor form the rest of the film.

This film can be stated as the mother of all feminist stories ever told on-screen. The film has a really compelling and wonderful story to tell. The direction and screenplay of the film do its job of keeping the audience engaged with stunning imagery and vibrant colors. At first, I thought that what this film could have to show. But believe me, the film has dragged me completely into it from start till the end. The film’s story is very simple but has been told in a really fascinating way, with its even more beautiful and layered characters.

It feels good to watch when a film is able to deep dive into its characters and is able to convey the same to the audience. At some points, the film seems to have become slower, but which is completely fine, because at that moment it is important to show the impact of some specific situations on those characters. And it gives time for characters to breathe and gives the space for understanding their particular behavior.

Verdict : It is a must-watch film, for its content and beautiful storytelling.

Rating : 4.3/5

Check the trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAS_hUTOJdY

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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) – Movie Review

Fearless Lives Forever.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a biography and musical drama film written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Bryan Singer. The film depicts the extraordinary tale of the British rock band Queen.

The film features the life of Freddie Mercury/Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. The film starts with early years in 1970 when Freddie was just a college student working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. And in the spare time, he used to watch local rock bands; in particular, a band named ‘Smile’. One night, after the show, Freddie meets Smile guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and in his peculiar ways offers to replace their lead singer. And with the addition of bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), the band known as Queen. Rest of the film follows the rise of ‘Queen’ in the world of fame with many ups and downs leading up to its legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.

Without keeping many expectations, I had gone to watch this film, thinking that what a rock band film possibly could serve. But, believe me, besides its biographical and musical aspect, the story of the film alone is compelling and powerful enough to move you and cheer you up from inside. The film is just a perfect combination of music and biography elements, and those work really together. The film progresses smoothly and hardly feels lazy at any point. The film moves very fast by keeping ‘Mercury’ at the center(depicting his personal and sexual life) but because of the limited timeframe, the film fails to touch all the parts of the whole story.

The background score and all the songs in the film compliments the story. The performances by the actors are good, notably, Malek’s portrayal of Mercury looks authentic and commanding. The music sequences, especially the Live Aid scenes are convincingly epic. The film has become the highest-grossing musical biographical film of all-time.

Verdict : The film is compelling, enjoyable, and nostalgic treat for Queen’s fans.

Rating : 4/5

Ani… Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar (2018) – Movie Review

Here comes the Superstar

Ani… Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar is a Marathi biographical drama film directed by Abhijeet Deshpande. This film follows through the ups and downs of the life of legendary Marathi play and film actor Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar. The film is based on a biography titled “Nath Ha Maza” written by his second wife Kanchan Ghanekar.

The film sets in the golden era of Marathi play and film industry, specifically from 1960 to 1986. The film depicts the incredible journey of a dental surgeon and renowned stage actor Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar (Subodh Bhave) to the peak of fame, and events that shaken his personal and professional life, and which has ultimately brought him down. Kashinath was said to be the first superstar of the Marathi stage with a lot of glamour, and he was the highest paid star from the years 1960 to 1980 (from wiki).

The film which is based on a biography has to put efforts on deciding what parts it needs to focus on, and what it should not. And this film does this thing flawlessly, it focusses on the most important moments in the lead character’s life. The defining moments in Kashinath’s life are very well represented on screen, one of which is when he gets the role of Sambhaji in the play “Raigadhala Jevha Jaag Yete” (When Raigad awakens), and which made him a popular actor ever since. The arc of Kashinath’s life has been represented in such a beautiful way that even when the film ends and names start rolling on a screen you’ll definitely crave for a little more of it.

This film is definitely the nostalgic and surprising treat for the people who have actually witnessed this era. Along with Kashinath Ghanekar, the characters like Vasant Kanetkar (Anand Ingle), Balaji Pendarkar (Mohan Joshi), Sulochana Didi (Sonali Kulkarni), Prabhakar Panshikar (Prasad Oak), Master Dattaram (Suhas Palshikar), and Dr. Shriram Lagoo (Sumeet Raghvan) gets alive on screen one after the other. And seeing all these pioneers of Marathi film industry on screen is a just mesmerizing experience. A cold war between Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar and his rival Dr. Shriram Lagoo is a sheer fun to watch.

Each and every cast member of the film has delivered the solid and compelling performances. Dialogues and conversations between characters give more depth to them. The production design of the film is impressive, the recreated set pieces can be identified but never creates the distraction. As the film goes on, it feels choppy in some places and gets a bit slow, but the surprising series of events and the addition of new characters keep the film alive.

Verdict : Language and content-wise it is a regional film but for the solid script and the powerful performances it’s a worth watch.

Rating : 4/5

Check the trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ3HgG5eC9c

First Man (2018) – Movie Review

We need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there.

First Man is a biographical drama film directed by Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer. The film is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, and it stars Ryan Gosling as a lead character Neil Armstrong (The first man to walk on the moon). It is the second time when Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling are teaming up, after working together on Academy Award-winning film La La Land (2016). Plus, Steven Spielberg has served as an executive producer on this film.

The film spans across 8 years from 1961 to the legendary Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. At the core, the film depicts the emotional ups and downs in Neil Armstrong’s life in that specific time span. The film starts in 1961 when Neil Armstrong is flying the X-15 rocket plane working as a test pilot for NASA. At the same time, his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Karen, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Neil is desperate to find the possible treatments to save her, but she dies soon afterward, which throws Neil in a lifelong grief. Soon after that, Neil applies for the Project Gemini of NASA, and get selected for the same, wherein 1965 he completes the extravehicular activity in the Gemini 8 mission. In 1968, after nearly being killed while ejecting from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, Armstrong is selected to command Apollo 11, which will likely be the first lunar landing mission.

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For the whole world, Apollo 11 mission was the giant leap of mankind towards space exploration. And for the American government, it was just another great mission to stay ahead of Soviets and the whole other world in a race. But this movie goes beyond that and explores the different emotional states of astronauts, their families and personal lives, the accidental deaths of astronauts, the government strategies, and people asking questions to the government about why to spend so much money and sacrifice lives and is it really worth it.

I watched this in IMAX format, and after a few shots, I noticed the grainy effect throughout its runtime. This particular film-format is intentionally chosen by the director and the cinematographer to make the audience feel that they’re actually watching the film of that time. Most of the film was shot in 16mm and 35mm film format, except for the breathtaking moon landing sequence which was shot on IMAX 70mm film. The background score of the film by Academy Award winner Justine Herwitz is very much effective and unsettling in some moments. All the shots, where the astronauts are in a cockpit of a spaceship in space, are noisy with shaky cams, which gives thrilling and real effect in a really good way.

Ryan Gosling does a really good job of portraying the legendary Neil Armstrong of very robotic, focused, and calculative nature. And Claire Foy as Janet Armstrong also delivers a flawless emotionally heavy performance. As the film is spanned across eight years, and that too in a running time of 141 minutes, it feels choppy and truncated. But above all, the moon landing sequence at the end gives the satisfaction.

Verdict : Worth to watch this compelling and fascinating biographical story of ‘The first man to walk on the moon’.

Rating : 3.9/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSoRx87OO6k

Sanju (2018) – Movie Review

One Man… Many Lives

Sanju is an upcoming biographical drama film directed by Rajkumar Hirani, written by Hirani and Abhijat Joshi. The film is jointly produced by Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Sanju is the fifth film by Rajkumar Hirani, after Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003), Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), 3 Idiots (2009), & PK (2014). And all the films were massive hits, not just commercially but critically as well. He is well-known for his funny satirical way of narrating the stories on the crucial and sensitive topics with a subtle message encouraging idealism and humanism. His movies like Lage Raho Munnabhai had a strong cultural impact in India, popularising Gandhism. Even his both Aamir Khan starer movies have been raising issues like flaws in our study system & over-dependence of humans on God.

The film stars Ranbir Kapoor as the Indian actor Sanjay Dutt. The film follows Sanjay Dutt’s dramatic and enigmatic life, mainly through three stages, during his drug addict phase, his many love affairs, and during the phase of his life when he went to jail under TADA case.

Sanju is the most awaited and highly anticipated film of the year, and yes, after watching it you’ll realize that why there is so much buzz around it. A story that teaches you to face your hardships with courage and be unapologetic for who you are. One may think that this is the film about controversial persona, and what it possibly could have to serve, but believe me, without a question it’s worth to watch.

Totally moved by watching it, a remarkable film, salute to Rajkumar Hirani, Abhijat Joshi, and Ranbir Kapoor excels. A surprisingly versatile and notable performance by Vicky Kaushal. Paresh Rawal’s character as Sunil Dutt, a righteous and all-good father of Sanjay Dutt also stands out, he’s just flawless. A heart touching film narrated and directed brilliantly. Sanju is definitely one more gem which has been added to Raju Sir’s brilliant filmography.

In an interview with Rajeev Masand, Hirani disclosed that the story-telling procedure was “challenging as it’s not a story of an achiever” as most biopics are based on a heroic personality, yet Dutt is known for his tragedies and losses. He noted that “you can’t really tamper” and that the main scripting challenge was fitting “a very anecdotal story in a structured format”. Writer Abhijat Joshi also revealed that there was no “deliberate” attempt to make Dutt’s character sympathetic to the audience. Instead, the team realized having listened to all the anecdotes conveyed by Dutt that it’s a “very engaging, incredibly fascinating” story based on a “conflicted person, a flawed person” who “deserved empathy”. Hirani then confirmed that he has “put out the truth” which includes “good things and bad things”.

Verdict : Have faith in Rajkumar Hirani, and Just Go For it. Simply Extraordinary. 🙂

Rating : 4.4/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J76wN0TPI4

Omerta (2018) – Movie Review

A Gripping study of Evil.

Omerta is a biographical crime drama film co-written and directed by Hansal Mehta. The film stars Rajkumar Rao in a lead role of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, British terrorist of Pakistani descent. It is the 4th time when Rajkumar Rao is working in collaboration with Hansal Mehta after Shahid(2012), CityLights(2014), Aligarh(2015). The film was screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and many other film festivals.

The film follows the life of an infamous British-born convicted terrorist, Omar Sheikh (Rajkumar Rao). The film focuses on the involvement of Omar in many terrorist events which happened over the period of 17 years (1992 to 2008), like 1994 kidnappings of Westerners in India, 9/11 attacks, kidnapping and murder of Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 and 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. Mainly, it explores the motivations behind the sane youngsters being attracted towards the path of terrorism.

Omerta is one more gripping and offbeat film by Hansal Mehta. The film does not hold back while exploring the darkest truths behind the intelligent terrorism, and the ideology which sparks worldwide heinous acts. In director’s words, the exposes state-sponsored terrorism and how it manipulates young minds into believing a sordid interpretation of Jihad. Rajkumar Rao has ruled the whole film, he has made the evil persona alive on screen, his performance is truly applauding. The film has shot brilliantly, the use of light and sound is very peculiar. The film cannot be considered as a documentary film, but Surely, it is not for entertainment, and overall it is a discussion of a very sensitive and daring topic.

Like any other films by Hansal Mehta, the tone of the film is dark and serious throughout its runtime and is surely not for faint-hearted people. By many viewers, the film can be seen as a glorification of terrorism or terrorists, but in reality, the film can be seen the study of human psychology and characteristics which drags one to walk on a path of evil.

Verdict : A gripping crime thriller. Not a entertaining but informative film, and definitely for everyone.

Rating : 3.8/5

Phantom Thread (2017) – Movie Review

Kiss me, my girl, before I’m sick…

Phantom Thread is a period drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who is known for his peculiar way of storytelling and has been nominated eight times for Academy Awards in different categories including this film as well. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis, the winner of three Academy Awards in leading actor category, and also got the nomination for this film in a similar category. Daniel Day-Lewis is a very much talented and versatile actor who is well known for his method acting. Supposedly, this is Daniel Day-Lewis’s final film, he announced the same on June 20, 2017, that he was retiring from acting. So sadly, this film is the last chance to see this time’s finest actor performing from his heart and bones and veins on screen. Just Go for it.

The film sets in 1950’s after war era of London and dives into the life of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a meticulous renowned dressmaker, who designs dresses for members of high society, and lives with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), who manages the operations of his luxury fashion house. Not so far in the film, Reynolds gets interested in a waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps) and asks her for a date. Impressed with her willfulness and determination Reynolds asks her to move in with him where she acts as his muse, assistant, and love interest. Soon Reynolds finds out that Alma’s presence in his life is disrupting his daily perfect quality routines which he adores so much. Alma, on the other hand, obsessed with love, out of fear of losing Reynolds, and seeing her expectations being lashed, chooses some extreme ways, which will keep Reynolds closer to her. Rest of the film depicts the fate of their relationship when the moral clashes happen between both of them because of their ambitions, obsessions, love, insecurities, and vulnerabilities, and how they find their way through all this mess towards understanding, acceptance, and patience.

It is a pure romance drama film filled with heightened complex emotional moments, and definitely, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. The performances by all the leads are flawless and feel so real that one gets completely get drawn into the film. In particular, Daniel Day-Lewis is just phenomenal in his role, he just has the commanding presence on the screen, and he literally makes the character alive on screen by living the same. The storyline of the film is pretty straight-forward, but compelling characters and detailing in little things makes it very much interesting. The melodious piano music playing in the background is so good that it lifts up the drama beautifully.

Verdict : Just Go for it and witness the legendary performance by the legendary actor of our time.

Rating : 4.2/5

Padman (2018) – Movie Review

A Real Superhero

Padman is the biographical comedy-drama film written and directed by R. Balki, who is known for his apt and unusual storylines in the films and it’s brilliant execution. The film is based on Twinkle Khanna’s (Mrs. Funny Bones) short story ‘The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land’, which is inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham from Tamil Nadu who introduced low-cost sanitary pads.

The film starts with Lakshmikant (Akshay Kumar), a good family man, getting married to Gayatri (Radhika Apte). Not so far in the film, first time Lakshmi feels the intensity of superstitions in India surrounding menstrual hygiene and usage of sanitary pads when it happens with his own wife Gayatri. Being obsessed with his caring nature towards his wife Lakshmi tries every way to make her use the sanitary pads, but after some failed attempts to use those Gayatri being trapped in the age-old rituals and superstitions refuses to do so. The obsession of Lakshmi for health and wellness of Gayatri grows so much that it costs him hatred from all parts of society, which eventually separates both of them, and unfortunately, he decides to leave his village to shape his vision. In his journey, he gets help from Rhea (Sonam Kapoor), a kind-hearted MBA student. Rest of the film depicts the extraordinary story of determined Lakshmi who stands against all odds and even after so many obstacles revolutionize the concept of menstrual hygiene in rural India by creating a low-cost sanitary napkin machine.

It is the public awareness film and inspiring story of an ordinary man, and how he achieves remarkable success with his sheer will and determination. After Toilet – Ek Prem Katha (2017) Akshay Kumar has come back with one more strong film with an, even more, stronger message. The film is a tight slap on the age-old rituals and superstition around the usage of sanitary napkins in rural India. The performances by Radhika and Sonam are fabulous, and Akshay is just phenomenal. Thanks to Mrs funny bones for bringing such an impacting and daring topic on the table. As a director, R Balki has played his role very well and made the film compelling enough to keep the audience invested until the end. At some places, the film slows down a bit, but the powerful content at films’ core keeps it refreshed.

Verdict : A must watch and probably the best film of the year so far.