Sacred Games (Season 1 – 2018) – Review

The Game has just begun.

Sacred Games is an Indian crime-drama web tv series by Netflix directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. The series is based on Vikram Chandra’s thriller novel of the same name. The novel was adapted by Smita Singh, Vasant Nath, and Varun Grover. The series consists of eight episodes which were made available on Netflix for streaming on 6 July 2018.

The series tells the story of Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a righteous and jaded police officer, whose paths intersect with Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the self-obsessed notorious gangster boss. Sartaj, who is at conflict with the questionable moralities of the police force, when receives a cryptic message from Gaitonde and learns about the lurking attack on Mumbai, starts his own investigation to prevent the attack.

The series chronicles a diabolical plot, one depicts the efforts of an honest police officer caught between corruption, dirty politics, and deadly conspiracies, and still has all the will to do the right thing, another one sets in the flashbacks of past exploring the rise of all-powerful Ganesh Gaitonde, a mob boss with delusions of grandeur, operating out of a Mumbai ghetto called Gopalmath, and how they both become part of these sacred games.

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Overall the plot is intimidating, and as the trailers had suggested, which were released a couple of months before, it is truly intense, darker, grittier than ever, and maintains that thriller vibe throughout. According to one interview, the Gaitonde’s gangster life portion has been directed by Anurag Kashyap, and it’ll definitely make the audience remember his previous directorial film Gangs of Wasseypur (2012). And the other part following the present day story of Sartaj’s character showing the underbelly of the society has been directed by Vikramaditya Motwane. Structurally, it is a well-put story, and well-shot as well. The lightings, costume design, camera angles, background score, and instrumental music are remarkable.

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Undoubtedly, the casting of characters is top notch, and this can be seen in their grounded and compelling performances. The role of a brash and brutal gangster is not new for Nawazuddin, but here it feels totally different from his previous portrayals, he steals every scene he’s in, and unknowingly audience loses the moment when they start feeling for an unquestionable baddie. For Saif Ali Khan and his character Sartaj, this series has become a point of redemption. It’s a stellar performance by Saif, he has literally embodied the broken persona of a mistreated cop who can go to any limit to set things right. Along with leads, the supporting cast is also impressive. In particular, Radhika Apte as the investigating RAW agent, Neeraj Kabi as Sartaj’s commanding officer Parulkar, Jitendra Joshi as constable Katekar, Jatin Sarna as Gaitonde’s henchman Bunty, Girish Kulkarni as Minister Bipin Bhosale, and Kubra Sait as Kukoo. Every single character in the series has their own character arc which creates the emotional gravity, and it’s just moving.

At its heart, it’s the raw and scary story told in a brilliant way, the story of Mumbai city where all this drama plays around religion, politics, corruption, and Bollywood. There are multiple themes run at a time in a story, one of which is a theme of corruption in the system, it gives a closer look at how it is crumbled from inside, and even if one tries to rebel will eventually have to compromise at some point. Another theme is the theme of religion, “The biggest business in the world is religion. Under the garb of faith, they make fools out of all of us.” when Gaitonde delivers this line, it firmly hints that what is going to come ahead, the catastrophic consequences of religious polarisation. For an international audience, India’s communal divide appears akin to the US’s institutionalized racism. Most of the parts of the story play in parallel with real-life past events which makes it relatable and interesting. The use of symbolism throughout the series can be seen, either in visuals or in monologues.

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There are intriguing endings to every episode, and in no time, the viewer goes for the next one, just like that. From the starting point, there are many characters been introduced one by one, episode by episode, and we actually need to keep track of them, as their paths are definitely going to cross somewhere ahead in the story. It is the mix of likable and unlikable characters, the good and the bad ones, which are going to intertwine in the interesting, upsetting and uncomfortable series of events.

At last, “streaming is liberating”, as it is the web tv series, there are no constraints of the censor board. Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane waste no time in exploiting the opportunity offered by a platform free of censorship to make a powerful and hard-hitting statement. The series doesn’t hold back while portraying an unapologetic content like a real gangster life, scenes of gore and bloodshed, sexually explicit scenes etc. Plus the brilliance and thoughtfulness of makers keep it understated and yet impacting.

Finally, with no doubt, on the global platform, Sacred Games has successfully made its mark and has earned the prestigious position among top international web tv series. Even the Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3 out of 10. On IMDb, it is on the 25th rank as a top rated tv series, with an astonishing average rating of 9.4 out of 10.

Verdict : Without any second thought, just watch it, and get lost in Sacred Games.

Rating : 4.6/5

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Isle Of Dogs (2018) – Movie Review

I Won’t Hurt You…

Isle of Dogs is stop-motion animated film written, produced and directed by Wes Anderson, who has received consistent praise from critics for his work in his films like The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). The ensemble voice cast of this film includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Frank Wood, Kunichi Nomura and Yoko Ono. The film is receiving praise for its animation, story, and deadpan humor.

The film sets in an imaginary Megasaki City of near-future Japan, where a dog-flu virus has spread and has infected every dog of the city. To deal with this situation, Kenji Kobayashi, the tyrannical mayor of the city, signs an order of banishing all dogs to Trash Island. The execution of this order starts with a dog named Spots, who belonged to Atari Kobayashi, the orphaned nephew, and ward of the mayor. Saddened Atari steals a plane and flies alone to Trash Island to search for his lost and only friend Spots. Rest of the film follows around little Atari’s adventure to find his dog with the help of the group of dogs, and ultimately uncover the deadly conspiracy behind all these series of events.

The ensemble voice cast mentioned above is mostly for the dogs who are playing the prominent roles in the film, and when it comes to human characters, then most of the characters actually speak in the native Japanese language.

The film is unlike any other conventional animation films, it is totally different and raw in many aspects, the stop-motion animation works really well here, and definitely more Impacting and totally worth it. The story and the characters in the film are compelling, and sheer fun to watch. The direction and the cinematography are just superb. The background score with Japanese flavor of music with drum rolls is just overwhelming, it just absorbs you into it.

Verdict : Totally unusual and worth having experience. 🐕 Just go for it get amazed.

Rating : 4/5

A Quiet Place (2018) – Movie Review

Dont Make a Sound.

A Quiet Place is a horror thriller film co-written and directed by John Krasinski, who is also working as a lead character alongside Emily Blunt, his real-life wife.

The film sets in the year 2020, where Earth has been invaded by a species of mysterious creatures with unimaginable hearing ability – which they use to hunt their prey, i.e., humans. Resultantly, most of Earth’s human population has been wiped out. The film mainly focuses on the family consisting of, husband Lee (John Krasinski), wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), sons Marcus and Beau, and their deaf daughter Regan, who are living alone in the whole town maintaining the complete silence to hide from those deadly creatures. Now this family must run by rules – without making a sound in any condition, in order to survive in this life-threatening situation.

The film is very well focused on content, depicting the story of a family’s survival against deadly creatures with ultra hearing capabilities. There are many intense and terrifying scenes which make audience bite their nails while keeping quiet. The audience can’t even make any movements on their seats or even they just cannot cough properly sometimes, which could break the silence. The plot is very refreshing and the film has successfully maintained the fine balance between its horror and thriller aspects. The performances by every single actor are so real and applauding, which makes characters compelling, and which actually makes the audience root them. And where the film manages to bring the audience to its character’s emotional state, and make the audience feel for them, then that’s where the film truly succeeds in its moto.

Verdict : Just Go for it. Get Thrilled. Sshhh… Just don’t make any sound.

Rating : 4.2/5

Baban (2018) – Movie Review

It’s a bad world out there.

Baban is a Marathi satire drama film written and directed by Bhaurao Nanasaheb Karhade. It is the second film by Bhaurao Karhade after Khwada (2015) starring Bhausaheb Shinde as a leading actor in both of the films. Khwada represented the story in rural India about shepherds who suffer from the government policies and later dominance of the local goons, and how severely it affects their life permanently. This film is also no different from Khwada with a raw and gripping storyline.

In a small village of Maharashtra, the film revolves around Baban (Bhausaheb Shinde), a striving high school student who is running a small milk business to support his family and education. Determined Baban, who is ready to do anything to fulfill his big dreams tries to jump in the upper market by bypassing the local business authorities. In his naive but daring attempt to expand his business, Baban faces the monopoly of local landlords and goons, and this friction leads him elsewhere, which eventually destroys everything.

The film serves the solid and hard-hitting content in a very impacting way, talking about many social issues. This is the second film by Bhaurao Karhade, and he is just unstoppable in delivering the realistic and thought-provoking stories. The performances are compelling with interesting characters and their deadly disputes feel so real. The film focuses on how local politics and goons still controls the rural part of independent India. There is also a romantic aspect to this film which plays well here and that could have been made as a whole different film, but it eventually causes tonal shifts throughout the film. Some songs in the film feel unnecessarily embedded, making it slow-burning.

Verdict : Not everybody’s cup of tea. Not everybody has a strength to face the reality. A gripping and hard-hitting drama.

Rating : 4.2/5

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) – Movie Review

Raped While Dying…

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a crime drama film produced, written, and directed by Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh who is known for his take on crime and dark comedy genre films like Seven Psychopaths (2012) and In Bruges (2008). The film has been nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Motion Picture of the year, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Frances McDormand, and two nominations for Best Actor in Supporting Role for Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.

The film starts with Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a mother, grieving the death of her teenage daughter Angela. Angela had been raped and murdered that had happened seven months earlier. Despite taking this much long time, local authorities had failed miserably to find the culprits. Mildred, filled with rage over the lack of progress in the investigation rents three billboards to draw the attention of the chief of police Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), to her daughter’s unsolved murder case. Rest of the film depicts that how Mildred stands firm against all odds and how these billboards considerably affect the lives of people connected to it.

The film has encompassed a very powerful story with a really good depiction of the complexity of human emotions, about how different people see the same thing with a different point of views. The characters in the film are very strong and compelling enough to justify their very existence and actions. There are some pacing issues with the film and the ending is bit ambiguous. Despite having the dark tone the use of humor in the film is apt.

Verdict : The gripping drama, convincing story, and powerful characters surely makes the film Oscar worthy and definitely deserves audiences’ time.

Rating : 4.2/5

Mukkabaaz (2018)

Here come the Brawler…

Mukkabaaz (The Brawler) is an action sports-drama film co-written, co-produced and directed by Anurag Kashyap. The film is inspired by true events of the unheard stories of struggling sportsperson’s in the country and how faulty system ruins their lives.

The film starts with a talented but a lower caste boxer Shravan (Vineet Kumar Singh) practices at a place dominated by a local Don Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Shergill) in the city of Bareilly. By looking at the ways people are treated at Mishra’s place Shravan calls a mutiny against him and falls in love with Mishra’s niece Sunaina (Zoya Hussain) at the same time. Offcourse being from the upper caste Bhagwan Das does not approve of this and does all possible and cruel things to keep him away from his passion for boxing and Sunaina. In this Shravan’s struggle of becoming a successful boxer, Sanjay Kumar (Ravi Kishan), a retired boxer, takes him under his wings and trains him for the biggest fights. Rest of the story depicts how Shravan strives to win Sunaina’s hand in marriage despite all difficulties and becomes a thriving boxer while trying to avoid retaliation from Bhagwan Das.

Oh my goodness! What a movie! Not everyday the film comes out which entertains from its first frame to last, that too with raw and gripping storytelling directorial aspect of Anurag Kashyap. The film has a heart and is filled with some really great performances by Jimmy Shergill, Ravi Kishan, Vineet Kumar Singh, and Zoya Hussain. In particular, Vineet Kumar Singh, who has gone through a rigorous physical transformation and that too for whole two years is worth to witness. Jimmy Shergill has shined a lot in his outstanding relentless negative role, he owns every screen appearance he is in with his outstanding acting skills, he has done all things which a good villain should do to make the audience uncomfortable and make the audience to feel a grudge against him.

There are so many things happening simultaneously in the film, but not a single thing feels out of place, the storytelling is just flawless. The film does not have a single adult scene which makes it totally family-friendly. At some places, the story loses its pace but picks up eventually. There is hardly a moment in a film which feels boring. With a gripping storyline and compelling characters, the film entertains to the fullest.

Verdict : The journey of brawler to become a boxer is worth to watch. Entertains you for the every penny you have paid. Most recommended.

Rating : 4/5

Secret Superstar (2017)

To Mothers & Motherhood…

Secret Superstar is the debut directorial musical family-drama film written and directed by Advait Chandan in collaboration with Amir Khan Productions. He has also worked on many projects in past with Amir Khan like Taare Zameen Par (2007) & Dhobi Ghat (2010), and this one proves his caliber and brilliance in filmmaking.

The film starts with the 14-year old girl Insia (Zaira Wasim) from Vadodara having passion and talent in music who dreams of being a successful singer one day. In pursuing her dreams, Insia is strengthened by the love of her pure-hearted mother Najma (Meher Vij), but always drawn back by her unreasonable and abusive father (Raj Arjun). Her vicious father is the very reason Insiya is living in the world with very limited opportunities same as that of her mother who is been living life like hell. To cherish this talent of singing and to get all the fame the series of events led her to upload her own singing videos wearing burkha on YouTube, the strongest multimedia platform today, as an anonymous singer. It is the coming of age story of Insiya from zero to becoming a secret singing sensation overnight. But as this simplistic story progresses it gives totally different and beautiful arc to it and makes the audience realize that the film is all about mother’s selfless love and her sacrifices for her daughter in fulfilling her dreams.

The film is the emotional roller coaster ride with some very intense moments which can make the audience uncomfortable. There are also many heartwarming moments which will definitely make your eyes watery. The appearance of Amir Khan in the film as quirky, crazy, and downfalling Music Director Shakti Kumar is just fun to watch and justifies in all angles. Amir Khan is very choosy in the films he acts in, and yes, this one also has a lot of things to give to its audience. This film has very strong and effective messages like “There’s no meaning to life without dreams.”, “No victory is greater than mother’s love.” and so on. Along with making some hard-hitting statements, this film also talks about feminism, women empowerment, women treated as the second class citizens in the male-dominated society.

The performances of each and every individual who acted are believable and top notch. Every screen appearance of Raj Arjun as Insia’s stubborn father is so scary. Kabir Shaikh as Guddu, Insia’s cute younger brother, is so adorable and really convincing. Tirth Sharma as Chintan, Insia’s classmate cum friend, is the real treat and serves the purpose right as per the story’s need. It is the moving and compelling story with a really lot to give, with finest performances, and the best film of 2017 so far.

Verdict : Family entertainer, the best film of 2017 so far. One should not miss this at any cost.

Rating : 4.5/5