Friday, 19 January 2018

Mukkabaaz (2018)

Mukkabaaz is easily Anurag Kashyap's most accessible mass audience film. No abuses, no harrowing violence, less brutality, a less tragic ending. Happily, for us cinema-seekers, it is never a compromised film. 

A low caste boxer, UP's "Mike Tyson" Shravan Kumar (Vineet Kumar Singh) is bullied to not competing in any major district bouts by his high caste employer Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Shergill). Shravan revolts and pays the price for following his passion and falling for Mishra's niece Suniana (Zoya Hussian). Shravan is supported by a low caste coach Sanjay Kumar (Ravi Kishan), but it is a dark road ahead. 

The love story is pitched for popular appeal which Kashyap masterfully reveals the dire state of India's sports administration and languishing sportspersons.  

Unconventional as Always 
Never forceful, always relevant, Mukkabaaz touches more than a nerve with raw humor, gritty drama, and an almost heartbreaking end. 

Kashyap revels in reflecting contemporary truths, and quite simply nobody tells it as straight as he does. Be it the caste system, corruption, murderous gau rakshaks ('cow protectors'), a passionate sportsman's harrowing life, he lands the right punches, almost every time. 

Inspired, Courageous Acting 
A huge applause for Vineet Singh's earnest boxer portrayal, Zoya Hussain's turn as a spirited mute girl and a terrific, understated Ravi Kishan as the coach. 

Jimmy Shergill ends up as a one-note villain because the writers give him little to work on. The hint that his angst arouses from an unfulfilled sporting ambition is not convincing enough.   

Editing Please 
Excess use of the film's soundtrack in scenes where silence would have worked better mitigates the intended impact. A trimmer film would have hit a lot harder. 

But apart from these niggles, Mukkabaaz is very watchable for its story, screenplay, and damn good, heartfelt, stark real performances.

Mukkabaaz is worth the punches and more at the cinemas this week. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Justice League (2017)

Finally, here is a DC movie that works just about right at all the levels. Clever, singular action, a passable The Lord of the Rings kind of central premise, a hefty but one-dimensional villain, good inter-superhero chatter, some "we crack jokes too" laughs, another world-threatening mission, and CGI overload, within the sharp 121-minute running time, Justice League manages to keep us entertained.

Better than Batman vs Superman 
A giant leap from the flimsy, irritating terrain of the hugely disappointing Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). No common mother names here, nor the strange question, why did Batman and Superman hate each other anyway?! 

Why So 'Darkious'?  
The dark, melancholy Zack Synder ambiance worked in the impressive Man of Steel (2013) as an ominous shade. Here it adds heaviness and unwelcome gloom.

The Cast Saves the Day
It is the lead characters that stand out for us. Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller and Henry Cavill are all good. Jason Momoa stands out as stellar casting as Aquaman, right next to Gal Gadot.     

Forced Humor
The goofy jokes only suit Miller's The Flash though. That Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman start cracking one-liners out of the blue and context, doesn't fit in. Neither does Cyborg's "Booyaa!" 

Good, Not As Much Fun
Though Justice League doesn't rock and there are no impressive set pieces, it makes enough noise to not end up as disappointing.

Watch Justice League in 3D for a better visual experience. The wait gets longer for that one standout DC movie since Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008).  

Friday, 17 November 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017)

Jaya (Parvathy), a 35-year-old single woman meets the older Yogi (Irrfan Khan) on an online dating website.

In the tradition of romcoms, man and woman meet, clash, travel, clash, clash, clatter, meet the man's ex-lovers, travel, have a cathartic moment, clash, clatter, clash, travel, realization dawns, the end.

If Tanaju Chandra's Qarib Qarib Singlle doesn't go the irritatingly tiresome, similarly themed, Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017) way, it is largely because of its great lead casting and their performances.

Irrfan Khan again crackles in brilliance in making an underwritten role work at so many levels. Parvathy, a Malayalam film regular, is the x-factor here, playing a dull, stagnant, evasive, troubled and uniquely engaging character.

The story offers nothing much in freshness. The central premise is flimsy and potato-wafer thin. Yet there is a tangled breeziness to the proceedings. Irrfan and Parvathy make every scene together come alive. The couple's varied dynamics gives the film a genuine 'opposites attract' feel to it.

Somewhere between the conversations is the hidden unwoven literature that this film could have been (the double "ll" in "Singlle" take, among other touches).

The dour end doesn't help, but Qarib Qarib Singlle has enough laughs and moments to be a good three-stars-out-of-five watch at the movies.