Wednesday, 20 May 2015


Directed by: Shriram Raghavan
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Sidiqui, Huma Qureshi, Yami Gautam, Divya Dutta
Released: 2015
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

A bloody revenge movie is a tricky thing. You need a lot of strong points. Reason for revenge. Believable acting. Arevenge which leaves you with a feeling of gratification or at least understanding for the hero. And most importantly a sense of compassion for the avenger. Not all real-life situations, during which a man (or a woman) takes law and revenge into their own hands are like that, but in the film world should, at least in my view. Badlapur does have believable acting, it has a powerful trigger to start off, unfortunately the compassion is missing entirely.

Varun Dhawan shakes off the cute image he has had by embracing a character much darker than Aamir Khan from Ghajini or Shahid Kapoor from Haider. Starting off as a tragedy-stricken young man he turns into an avatar which is more repulsive and awful than the villains who took the life of his family in the first place. Acting-wise he nearly pulls it off. As a character Raghu is possibly the worst lead protagonist I can think of. Repeatedly raping a completely innocent woman, threatening another one with the same, only to murder her in cold blood and most horrifying manner cannot be excused or put down to any inner pain or turmoil. Not even the popular "eye for an eye" theory fits, since the lovely Yami Gautam and her child were killed pretty much by unwanted accident. One has to wonder what kind of person Raghu is, if he is capable of such things as rape and abuse of trust. No matter how loveable he seems to be in the flashbacks, Raghu remains terrifying and disgusting. Perhaps more character development could have done the trick and show his personality alternate, but instead the makers decided to simply jump ahead 15 years (during which nobody but Nawazuddin Sidiqui seems to have aged). Furthermore the movie ends on a very anti-climactic note, with no justice served to anyone at all, not even greedy bribe-mongering police officer.

Performances on the whole are all good, but none outstanding. I cannot help but to compare Badlapur with last year´s Ek Villain, which starred Varun´s debut co-star Siddhart the Visually-perfect. While Siddhart has shown less ease in his acting, Shraddha Kapoor was not as half as natural as Yami and the film lacked logic, it still managed to make me cry and feel for the characters. Badlapur made me sick. No wonder, when the rape-victim announces to the her rapist and a murderer that of all the people involved in this messy story he is the one who has been given the second chance.

In conclusion from technical point of view there is nothing too wrong with the film, except perhaps the way the script looses pace and becomes boring as soon as, ironically, Raghu finally confronts his wife´s killer outside the jail walls. Some ends feel loose. Perhaps more soulful and more strategically used music (again like in Ek Villain) could have done make things better. For all its worth though I cannot recommend watching Badlapur to anyone. Not to people like me for all the reasons stated above. Not to lovers of thrillers because there is not enough thrill to justify other things. Not to fans of psychological movies because no development is shown in anyone.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


Directed by: Vibhu Puri
Starring: Ayushman Khuranna, Pallavi Sharda, Mithun Chakraborthy
Released: 2015
My rating: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Loosely based on the life and alleged achievements of Shivkar Talpade, who is sometimes credited as a maker of the first unmanned plane, which he supposedly constructed with the help of Vedic texts as leads for proportions and materials, Hawaizaada is a product with an ambition to be part Lagaan, part Bollywood extravaganza. I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if it didn´t feel like a huge Saawariya hangover. Mind you, Saawariya is to me a gem of a film, one of my most favourite movies ever. But here the inspiration with Bhansali style of making films is so rampant it actually out-Bhansalies the Bhansali. The one thing missing though is the mystery, atmosphere and deep feeling of it all. Cinematography is stunning and details poetic and wonderful, yet the picturesque beauty lacks soul.

Not only the fairytale-like, colour-harmonized sets larger than life feel familiar. Ayushman Khuranna as Shivy feels familiar too. As if "Raj" from Saawariya just stepped into another story with a different face. They are both young, carefree, optimistic and playing instruments, not worrying of where they are to sleep tonight or what tomorrow will bring. They both fall for a girl who is beautiful in a second, and she becomes their obsession. Where Ranbir was believable in the role, Ayushman does not strike the chord. Perhaps my knowledge of his previous movies interfered too much with the innocence shown here, and so I was simply not convinced, even less so during his weeping scenes. As the film progresses, Ayushman´s over the top act gets actually really annoying. The exumberant, forced smiles, the constant shaking of the head and stubbornly repeated sentimental lines – Shivy with his head of artificial curls has nothing on Ranbir´s Raj. Pallavi Shardha is a girl who I think is destined to be lost to Bollywood viewers soon, simply because she just has hardly any screen presence. Unless luck smiles upon her, I don´t think she will stick around for long as a lead actress.

Then there is of course Mithun Chakraborthy, a man grossly underrated because once upon a time 80s happened to him. I cannot say a bad word about him, and if there is any failing with his character of Shastry, just pin it on the screenplay please.

Clearly, the film was meant to boost some patriotism, being after all set at the time of British dominance over India. And so you can be sure there are petty English officers (awful actors) speaking awful Hindi - even among themselves, and some big patriotic speeches and mottos. I like patriotism, just in films it sometimes gets too much. Hawaizaada does overstep the line, more dramatically as it goes on. Furthermore: I am not keen on technical aspects of building planes, but the movie made it look as easy as nailing few boards together. It takes one particularly harmless bomb to set free and flee with a prisoner right from a courtroom, and the British only find out hours (days?) later. Well, no wonder, since they also apparently have no idea where to look for the guy, even though he lives on a big-ass ship that keeps the lights on and is clearly inhabited.

Better, tighter screenplay and more emphasis on the conflict between love for a girl and dedication to a teacher and friend could have made Hawaizaada a very good film in spite of the blatant ripping off of Saawariya. As it is, it does not deserve more than an average rating.