Friday, 2 January 2015

First half of 2014 overview

From my perspective 2014 was lots better than 2013, even if only because there has been more than one film that I genuinely loved. I usually make one big overview, but catching up with new Bollywood releases has been difficult for me this time, so here I am to take a look at the first half of the year only. No worries – second overview is patiently waiting in the wings! The year 2014 started on the highest of highs with fantabulous Dedh Ishqiya, which eventually became my most favourite Bollywood film ever, unfortunately the very same day also witnessed one of the most regressive and atrocious pictures of the year in the form of Yaariyan. My January-line up then continued with muscle-flashing Jai Ho and utterly useless....

One By Two

Directed by: Devika Bhagat
Starring: Abhay Deol, Preeti Desai
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great amazing – experience

Some films make you feel like they take a lifetime before their end. This one take a lifetime to start. In a way it never does. Few times Amit (Abhay Deol) is told by others that he is boring, and he indeed is. From looks to dialogue delivery and posture, his acting is completely lifeless. Preeti Desai fares better, but.... what good is that when the story has no point and every idea is still-born? We are watching two completely unrelated storyline of two people who only meet in the last two minutes of the film! Some of the songs are nice and there is a lot of dancing, but ironically choreography does nothing but show us that Preeti has really long and slender legs. One by Two are two completely different stories sloppily pasted together by a duckt tape, and neither is interesting. Unless you like farting jokes.

Fortunately cute, though not faultless, Hasee Toh Phasee came along, and while the follow-up film Gunday (review coming eventually) remains in the so bad it´s actually good cathegory, it too provided for fine, inconsequential entertainment. The true gem of the month of February though was served to us by Imtiaz Ali in the form Highway, in which Alia Bhatt actually debuted as an actress. Her role was ever so much better than even what an established star like Vidya Balan got in...

Shaadi Ke Side Effects

Directed by: Saket Chaudhary
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Vidya Balan
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

After she was completely exiled into obscure shadows of a silly film named Ghanchakkar, Vidya Balan is yet again more of a supporting character in this. And it just not feels right, simply because she is Vidya Balan and she deserves the best. Thus Shaadi Ke Side Efects (which really should have been named Parenthood ke Side Effects or something of that sort) becomes a Farhan Akhtar show. Fortunatelly he too is very talented and plays his character with much conviction. The plot, built around a universal truth that a baby will change your life forever, could have been a really fertile ground for a laugh riot comedy with relatable situations. But the opportunity passed the filmmakers by. The humorous scenes provoke a mild smile, but hardly any laughs. It is not all lost until the point when Vidya´s character decides to get even with her hubster, and invents a situation which in comparison is much, much worse than whatever he has done. From there it is all going quickly down the hill and whatever message of “learning” was intended to be, it goes down the drain with the very last scene, which just makes you think “What was the point of this film then?”

Gulaab Gang (review coming eventually) spelled a big let-down for me, no wonder that Queen won the hearts instead (though I personally was not nearly as swayed of my feet by it). For the rest of the March Queen was probably the only movie worth attention, which could not be changed even by two films releasing right after:

Total Siyapaa

Directed by: Eshwar Niwas
Starring: Ali Zafar, Yami Gautam, Anupam Kher, Kirron Kher
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

This film might be a new definition of useless. It does nothing for anyone be it actors or audience. A Pakistani boy love an Indian girl, who brings him home so he could be introduced to her (as we soon find out) totally xenophobic family consisting of a hysterical mother, senile grandpa, violent brother etc. A story of just one night spent in their company turns out to be pointless and random. It may have worked magic if only the writers actually added some good jokes, but much like Anupam Kher for 90% of his screentime they keep looking for something, but they have no idea if it exists. Ali and Yami are two beautiful people with obvious talent, so naturally one feels disappointed that they are so utterly wasted on a film so... well, useless.


Directed by: Nupur Asthana
Starring: Ayushman Khuranna, Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

It took me exactly five sitting to watch the movie. It is just too slow, too boring and too predictable. And full of really awkward kissing. Ayushman Khuranna seems to have big trouble after Vicky Donor to find a good film and a good role, Rishi Kapoor is solid but his role has no intersting quality, and Sonam Kapoor is probably forever going to be „that pretty girl who cannot act“. Her best is being decent. In the movie she is yet again just a hanger for designer clothes. What starts as a typical „you are not good (aka rich) enough to marry my daughter“ romcom never manages to create moments of charm, neither there is anything witty and funny. Everything flows steadily and without excitement. I would compare the film to a music they always play at supermarkets as you shop. You know it exists but you just really don´t care.

The month of April truly signalized that the young ones took over. Both Main Tera Hero and 2 States (reviews coming eventually) were entertaining and showed us that Bollywood of future years is not going to be without talent, and there will be someone worth the interest. The same cannot be said for one of the famed Bollywood directors Subhash Ghai, who also laid his bet on some new blood, but his arrow failed to even come near to the target.


Directed by: Subhash Ghai
Starring: Mishti, Rishi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborthy, Kartik Tiwari
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I feel rather conflicted about Kaanchi. I intended to hate it, but I did not. At least not all of it. The first hour or so is, in fact, quite decent, unfortunately the second half of the film is a hot and boring mess. Advertising the film as a fight of a girl against the system was misleading to say the least, since Kaanchi fights to get even on a personal front, not to change anything about society or the world. Furthermore for the longest time one cannot be sure of what is Kaanchi feeling – we are as distant from her as her detective friend who actually narrates the story. Connection, so important in such a story, is missing. The thrill stalls when it should be gaining a momentum. Newcomer Mishti, who looks like a lovechild of Aishwarya Rai (she is styled like her in Taal) and Mahima Chaudrey (who actually makes a blink-and-miss cameo), is better as spunky village kid rather than a dangerous woman set after a revenge, yet overal is poor and her lack of personal charm further harms her cause of winning over the audience. Then there are further little annoyances: like Kaanchi´s perfect and heavy makeup she wears even as she races on a bike through the mountains and roams Mumbai all homeless, or avoidable and vulgar songs, or super-awkward kissing. And the fact that people are deaf so a speeding truck or train just come unnoticed. Rishi Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborthy are given ill-written characters in which both annoy. Kartik Tiwari gets the short straw, but is likeable. You know what.... maybe I did hate it and not even noticed. Or not? After all, this film has one girl who needs no saving and does what she wants, which is rare in Hindi films. See. I am indeed conflicted.

After Queen Kangana Ranaut drew the attention of the public towards her next release, which, though interesting, could not repeat the box office magic for her.

Revolver Rani

Directed by: Sai Kabir Shrivastav
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Vir Das
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible  bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable (I guess ???) - good  great amazing

This was weird in a weird kind of sense. Crazy and absurd in a Kill Bill way, but not absurd enough to be as fascinating. Not great on action either, in spite of the badass title. Oh no! This one, my dears, is yet another one of the corrupt politicians fight for the sets in local elections films. I suppose it says a lot about India if the traditional evil villains turned from disgusting rapists and heartless gangsters into sleek politicians. Revolver Rani had an interesting concept, but the story was not strong enough to carry all the craziness, that actually could have made it into something memorable. The movie does not pass the Bechdel test, but from the feminist point of view it was great to see that Alka Singh (Kangana) is a power to reckon with while not a single person (including armed to the teeth goondas) ever thinks less of her because she is a woman. Nobody discusses her gender. She is there and she is feared and hated. But the start is too slow, the narrative too focused on politics (instead on let´s say the relationship between Alka and Rahul, or even who she really is) and the ending kind of a mess, which definitely does not feel satisfactory. And yet, I liked Kangana in this better than in Queen (but Queen overall is a better film no doubt). I will always maintain that she is in her element when playing disturbed, not really normal characters - and Alka, with her violent mood swings, gangster image and almost childish, simplistic thinking, is right up her alley. Basically as an ordinary girl, Kagana annoys me. As a psycho I like her. Vir Das is good, and makes you hate him effortlessly (he is totally one of the biggest douchebags on big screen ever). Other actors do not make a mark, simply because they all do the same angry, power-hungry act for which I did not care. In the end I felt that the main point should have lied with Alka and her predicament, yet not enough time was spent on it. I´d say it´s "flawed but enjoyable", except it gets so bizarre I do not think anyone could really "enjoy". I was intrigued once the first boring 30 minutes were over though, so there go the brownie points.

Now let´s move on to....

Hawaa Hawaai

Directed by: Amole Gupte
Starring: Partho Gupte, Saqib Saleem
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

Hawaa Hawaai is a film made with lots of honesty. It is simple, creating a new story for a set formula (victory of a self-made underdog), and since it is a story about a young boy, it has a clear, pure touch of innocence. A child´s view is not really used, aside perhaps from application of simple beliefs that when you want something done, there is no problem in getting it. Where adults would five million reasons of why they might fail, small homeless boys see no obstacles in anything. The relationships are always sincere and no child feels envious or jealous. Idealistic perhaps, but makes for a nice change actually. All the child actors are very good, among the adults only the handsome Saqib Saleem has a role of importance and he is very convincing. The only, unfortunately quite major, drawback is that if you are not like me and do not enjoy films that are simply nice but without much thrill, the story is simply not engaging or complicated enough to hold your interest for two whole hours. Not on par with the best Bollywood children film I have seen (Chillar party), Hawaa Hawaai is still an endearing venture.

Saqib Saleem was my favourite newcomer back in 2011, in 2014 the same title is to be bestowed on, of all people, a star child:


Directed by:
Starring: Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon, Prakaash Raj
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I am biased towards everything Jackie Shroff and so I really hoped that Mr. Tiger boasting with his genes would be... well.... Shroffy enough. And while he does not remind me of his papa in any way, he certainly is my favourite newcomer of 2014. Unconventionally looking and hence easily recognizable among more handsome lots (which includes Siddhart Malhotra and Varun Dhawan whom I could not tell apart for first few months), Tiger is brimming with earnestness and positive energy so much you just cannot not like him. The movie he carries more or less on his shoulders is an average fare, that gets better and gets worse with different scenes, and all in all is a fitting "tribute" to the popular macho films so popular in the 80s. One gets easily tired of "friends" and fat poor NRI kid, the opressive treatement of the girls and also our hero´s limited vocabulary (which consists, on most occassions, from three sentences). On the plus size there is the already mentioned likeable debutant, who needs to work on his dialogue delivery, which is not the best, but makes up for it with restrained expressions, very good dancing and acrobatic-like action, quite unlike the usual Bollywood punching through the walls style. There is also a very pretty Kriti Sanon, who obviously has talent she can work on, and her filmi father Prakash Raj. Even though a villain et again, this character of his finally feels rather different from all the unscrupulous politicians he has presented us with in past few years over and over again. In fact the relationship between him and his two daughters is the brightest spot of the film. For all the family tradition, pride and misunderstandings there is palpable love between the parents and his children, and perhaps for the first time the audience gets an intimate glimpse into the soul of the authoritative baap - and gets to sympathize, at least a bit. Perhaps if the silly bits were left out and replaced by more of an inner turmoil of the hero being torn between his love and his sympathy of the father, the movie may have been really good. As it is, it entertains, it balances the silly and the serious well, and there are Jackie Shroff genes running around so all is well in the world. 

Not everything was right in the world for Siddhart Malhotra in Ek Villain, and neither the protagonists of another June release had it easy in life:


Directed by: Nitin Kakkar
Starring: Sharib Hashmi, Inaamulhaq
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible  bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good  great amazing

A wanna-be Indian actor is kidnapped by mistake by a small-time terrorist group and finds himself in a precarious situation. He does not loose heart, good spirits or hope. He makes friends with almost all around. But naturally, wants to return home. I was looking forward to this one, because the trailers had me in splits. However I was in for a big let down. The movie is not as half as funny as it had promised to be, the pace is sluggish and the story lacks a grip. It gets dark at few places, which threw me off the track, as I expected something else. And I did not manage to sit through it in just one sitting. The main point of the movie seems to be that Bollywood is one of the main things which binds India and Pakistan together, but I cannot really stand behind the message since I simply cannot know if it is true, being neither Pakistani nor Indian. Eventually it becomes really a story of friendship between a Pakistani and an Indian. Aside from few references in the first half there is not much about cinema or film-making, something the picture seemed to be about from the promos and posters. In spite of all the good intentions, the film felt very ordinary. Stale. English subtitles did not make things better, obviously modified for people not-familiar with Hindi cinema (for example "Prem Chopra" became "Voldemort"; Suman in Maina Pyaar Kiya became "daughter"). It did not offend me in any way, the actors were all natural, but the story... the story needed to be a lot stronger. As a viewer, you are also left with open ending, which considering the situation, is both depressing and unsatisfactory. Pity.

Akshay Kumar attacked us several times this year (as is, after all, his good custom), his first release being...

Holiday: A soldier is never off duty

Directed by: A. R. Murugadoss
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Govinda, Sumeet Raghavan
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

This started out rather awful, full of silliness and annoying, generic jokes, but it got increasingly better as it progressed. It had something from Special 26 and something from the usual Akshay flicks (for which he rarely gets my favour), and it is both Akshay´s charismatic performance as well as out of the box approach to the hero which carries the film into a more or less successful finish. Upon arrival for his annual holiday Virat (Akshay) first needs to go through an embarrassing rishta proposal (embarrassing both for him and the viewers, as the beautiful Sonakshi Sinha takes on one of the most annoying and useless roles of her life, which is already full of roles more or less the same), yet soon finds himself much more engaged in uncovering a terrorist sleeper cells, aided by his army comrades. There is plenty of action (quite toned down and mostly sans the inhuman gimmicks so common for this type of films) and plenty of suspense, as well as some severed fingers, dislocated limbs and explosions engulfing school buses and family restaurants. The sudden changes of the mood do little for the picture, transitioning from dark thriller into over the top comedy, fortunately in the second half even the comedy finds its place to fit it. Same cannot be said for the songs. Not only they remain unremarkable, but they just needlessly slow the narrative down. The film belongs to Akshay Kumar from start to finish, and I am stating the obvious saying that of all his contemporaries he is the one looking most fit and overal the best. His leading lady is a gorgeous girl, whom I have liked since the beginning of her career, yet ma patience is at an end. She has talent, she has the best possible screen presence, yet she chooses to be a side-kick in a role I would not wish upon a newcomer. Things would stand different if these were the only films she were offered, but Sonakshi Sinha has refused movies by filmmakers like Mani Ratnam in recent past. She might yet reinvent herself, but her line up does not look promising at all. Little cameo by Govinda was pleasant and Sumeet Raghavan as a police officer torn between the sense of what is right and what is comfortable did well. Perhaps Holiday would have made a finer film if treated like a full blooded thriller rather than a masalla potboiler, but it still manages to stand on two feet, rather firmly.

Eyeing the position of the worst film of the year and trying to snatch it from Yaariyan was Sajid Khan, and thus we were given....


Directed by: Sajid Khan
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Ram Kapoor, Tamanna Bhatia, Esha Gupta, Bipasha Basu
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great amazing – experience

The film offers:
  • a medication which after consumation changes your genes and you behave like a dog
  • parathas made of cocain
  • Indian who worships Hitler and he would like to put mental patients into a gas chambers (Award for most tasteful joke goes to…..)
  • alternative reality where every white person understand Hindi perfectly, including Prince Charles
  • stereotypical OTT gay portrayal
  • laziest choreography ever
  • background chants which explicitly say what is going on on the screen, in case you are as stupid as the director
  • peeing jokes
  • talented, beautiful actors being pathetic beyond words
  • parathas made of vodka
  • pheromones sold in little doses
  • ridicule of women, homosexuals, mental patients, midget people, children slavery, your intelligence

The only mildly amusing thing in the whole film is Ram Kapoor as Johnny. Sajid Khan needs to be stopped. And preferably lynched.

Of course, one cannot expect anything of worth from him anymore, least of all, let´s say a cute film about a girl detective like Bobby Jasoos, which kicked off the month of July and redeemed Vidya Balan as someone who carries the film on her shoulders and needs no help from anyone. The month also saw Alia Bhatt for the third time last year, but as it appears the quality of her films was lowering with the passing time.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania

Directed by: Shashank Kaitank
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Ashutosh Rana
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

„I was born hot“ says Alia Bhatt while looking like 13 years old. However this is not the most cringeworthy moment of the film, considering you are in for stupid teenage imitation of sex and later some spying on a couple having sex. And then you go and blackmail them. What a likeable hero our Humpy makes, nah? I am not a big fan of DDLJ, but this attempt at a „tribute“ to the iconic film, does not have a iota of the chart the original had. The first half is very slow, random and I felt bored to tears, stopping the movie after every few minutes. Second half was better, but did not improve the film overal. Probably hastily scripted to take advantage of new popular faces, the movie does little for both Varun and Alia (who do share a very nice chemsitry and are endearing as a jodi), since it remains very basic, without any novelty at all. I would rather watch Prabu Deva´s Ramaiya Vastavaiya again.

Finally, just before the year skipped the line into its second half, Salman Khan appeared out of the mist with....


Directed by: Sajid Nadiadwala
Starring: Salman Khan, Randeep Hooda, Jacqueline Fernandez
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing – experience

Well, this was stupid. It is not completely hopeless but I have a feeling it would have been better if they treated it as a comedy - every single scene that tried to be serious and cool immediatelly made me roll my eyes as there was no logic whatever, not even a tiny bit of it. Salman Khan, all bulky and with a brat-like expression that made me want to give him a kick (preferably to the face to wipe that annoying smirk off), wearing a really ugly mask which actually hid nothing, is naturally nothing short of a saint - pity since his most interesting parts are the brief moments when it seems he just might have turned to "the dark side". But no. The film, much like Jai Ho, becomes yet another massive advert to Being Human. Salman is bad, while Randeep Hooda rocks. Jacqueline looks gorgeous and her performance too was good, considering how limited her screen-time was - heck, this heroine did not even have a reconciliation with her lover or a happy ending!!! Average film. And by the way I doubt double deckers heading to King´s Cross drive through Warsaw.

And that is it for the overview. Have a great day, folks! :)

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