The Tashkent Files (2019) – Movie Review

Who Killed Shastri?

The Tashkent Files is a drama mystery-thriller film written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri. The film depicts the conspiracies surrounding the death of India’s 2nd prime minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri.

The film sets in the present time, when a low time journalist Raagini Phule (Shweta Prasad) publishes the article regarding the conspiracies surrounding the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. This article raises the questions amongst masses and forces the government to form a committee to investigate the truth behind this alleged event; is it really a natural death, or a well planned assassination.

The trailer of the film has given the exact idea about what to expect from this one. And this film delivers the same in a really compelling and grounded way. I was desperately avoiding watching this film as it is widely deemed to be politically motivated in light of the concurrent 2019 general elections. But I finally went to watch this film without having much idea about its content, it made me feel how ignorant (I am/we are) about our own political history. The film goes deep into the darkest chapter of our political history. In 1966, when India’s 2nd prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri went to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to sign a peace pact between India and Pakistan. And just after 8 days, Prime Minister Shastri dies of a heart attack in Tashkent.

Even if the film is politically motivated and biased against a certain political party, it does educate the people about that event, which is the most appreciated thing about this film. The film is good at delivering the content but loses the balance between the documentary and the political thriller. Even the screenplay of the film seems dull in some places. If we ignore some of the technical issues and its political motivation the film shines like anything.

The film stars Naseeruddin Shah and Mithun Chakraborty in lead roles. Besides leads, the film also stars Mandira Bedi, Pallavi Joshi, Rajesh Sharma, Vinay Pathak, Prakash Belawadi, and Pankaj Tripathi. The film has got a totally talented caste, and hence we get to see some really powerful performances. Some of the monologues in the film just steals the show.

Verdict : It is a must watch for its hard-hitting content and some really powerful performances.

Rating : 4/5

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

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Gully Boy (2019) – Movie Review

Our time will come!

Gully Boy is a musical drama film written by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, and directed by Zoya. The film is inspired by the lives of Indian street rappers Divine and Naezy.

The film sets in Dharavi, slums of Mumbai, where it tells a coming-of-age story about an aspiring street rapper Murad Ahmed (Ranveer Singh). Murad, a final year college student, lives in the Dharavi, who is fascinated with rap music and writes lyrics to express his life. Not so long into a film, he meets local stage rapper Shrikant aka MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi). Murad’s acquaintance with MC Sher draws him into performing his lyrics at underground shows and eventually uploading his first video on YouTube.

The film is a musical story portraying a struggle of an aspiring rapper and his surroundings that influence his journey. There is a love angle to the story, but it hardly feels deviating from its main content. The film stars Alia Bhatt as Safeena, Murad’s longtime love companion, who fits perfectly in this role and gives total justice to it by complementing the story. Ranveer Singh completely owns his role by giving the raw and compelling performance. Besides leads, Vijay Raaz as Murad’s abusive father, Amruta Subhash as Murad’s mother, Vijay Varma as Moeen, Siddhant Chaturvedi as MC Sher, and Kalki Koechlin as Shweta/Sky bring depth to the story by delivering impacting performances.

Along with these powerhouse performances, the film also has really edgy and situational music numbers and background score, which never feels out of place. The direction and the screenplay by talented Zoya Akhtar are just outstanding like her previous films, where we can clearly see her grasp on keeping the audience engaged till the end without getting deviated from the actual content. The story of the film may be pretty straight-forward but the characters and their performances take the film to another level.

Verdict : It is a must-watch film for everyone. It’ll definitely entertain you and will connect to you.

Rating : 4.1/5

Click here for the trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfbxcD6biOk

Love Sonia (2018) – Movie Review

Reality hits hard.

Love Sonia is a drama film directed by Tabrez Noorani and produced by David Womark. The film is based on the real events, focusing on the dark and the dangerous world of international sex trafficking.

The film starts in a drought-ridden remote village in the state of Maharashtra, where it revolves around two loving sisters Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) and Preeti (Riya Sisodiya), belonging to the poor farmer family of four. The things go from bad to worse when their helpless and debt-ridden father Shiva (Adil Hussain) sells Preeti to the local landlord and money lender Baldev Singh (Anupam Kher). The harrowing tale of Sonia starts when she follows Preeti in the hope of rescuing her but becomes trapped in the flesh trade herself. Rest of the film follows Sonia in the city of Mumbai, the financial capital of India, and from there crawls worldwide.

First of all, this is not the usual entertainer film, it is the nerve-racking drama that progresses gracefully which makes the audience more and more uncomfortable at every step. The audience can literally feel the tormenting phases of Sonia’s journey. The story is slow burning at some places but the drama keeps it alive. Along with cast mentioned above the film also features Manoj Bajpayee as Faizal, a ruthless don running the brothel in Mumbai, Freida Pinto as Rashmi, Sai Tamhankar as Anjali, Rajkummar Rao as Manish, Richa Chadda as Madhuri, Demi Moore as Selma, and Mark Duplass. Apart from the hard-hitting story, by looking at the ensemble of this brilliant cast, two things can be surely promised, a gripping drama and outstanding performances.

Verdict : For witnessing the bunch of outstanding performances and taking near look at the dark world of sex trafficking, this film is a must watch.

Rating : 3.9/5

Check trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhTTF13Fhug

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