Finding links of life in Dhoni’s Ranchi and Madhuri’s Mujrim!

It’s fascinating to discover links of our lives at the movies.

This week I found mine in Sushant Singh Rajput’s irresistible depiction of small town action in an active cricketer’s biopic and recollection of a star-studded shooting in the neighbourhood I grew up.

A still from MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
A still from MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
As soon as Rajesh Sharma’s character appears on screen and utters as much as a word, another comes out of my husband’s mouth — Banerjee! There’s not a hint of conjecture in the tickled tone of his abrupt interjection, familiarity breeds such faith in oneself.

The significant other instantly identifies Sharma as Banerjee, the sports instructor at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir even before it’s revealed to the audience of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. You see, Dhoni’s school happens to his too.

All through its charming Ranchi portions, he proudly points out at the huge campus, his beloved school uniform, the playgrounds that weren’t so neatly mowed back then, the incredible greenery of Shyamali, the typically sarkari ambiance of MECON office.

He left Ranchi decades ago. I’ve never been there. It’s nice to make acquaintance through his eyes and Neeraj Pandey’s against the film’s most heartfelt bits.

Except its obvious insecurity in zealously obscuring any weakness or controversy and focusing single-mindedly on the glorious chapters robs the film of character, renders it dull. Ostensibly, it’s tough being a ticket collector of a small town but a cakewalk representing Team India in international cricket.

Whatever potential the curious Dhoni-Yuvraj Singh encounters have is left unexplored. A pity, because Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance is pure awe-inspiring, give him all the awards already.

Bottomline: MS Dhoni’s Untold Story is hard to dismiss, harder to root for.


Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh in Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh in Jab Tak Hai Jaan
I am watching Simi Garewal’s Melbourne Rendezvous with Rishi and Neetu Kapoor on YouTube. If you haven’t already, you should.

Parody the prim and proper talk-show hostess or her trademark white dress code all you will but Simi has a way of making the most intimate inquires with her celebrity guests.

All through the fun session held before a live audience, the Khel Khel Mein duo rib each other about their marital ups and downs, dating days and parenting style.

When Neetu tells Simi she’d marry Rishi again in a heartbeat minus the alcohol, her incorrigible hubby’s pat response is “Sharaab ki bottle? Arre woh toh kanyadaan karne wali hai.”

Mention the topic of son Ranbir though and the Karz hero admits to a growing communication gap.

“Maybe I don’t have the skills,” concludes a crestfallen Rishi.

At this point, there’s a strong urge to hug the man, probably at his most vulnerable publically. But Simi stays put and encourages him to change the status quo whilst acknowledging she’s taking liberty, “I’ve known you since long. I can talk to you like that.’

Not long after, Rishi’s back to his witty ways. When a member of the audience wants to know when he’s planning his next family film, the Twitter star quips, “Thank God, I thought you’re going to ask about family planning.”


A still from Yash Chopra's Silsila
A still from Yash Chopra’s Silsila
What’s your favourite song from a film directed by Yash Chopra?

Every now and then I like to find out the likes and dislikes of my fellow movie buffs. Posting such queries on social network sites accomplishes this purpose splendidly.

As the bona fide King of Romance, Chopra’s creations are obligated to serve a heady dose of melody and poetry. Needless to say, the late filmmaker and his keen ear for music never disappoint on this front.

Surprisingly, it’s not Kabhi Kabhie‘s celebrated title song that basks in most love. The younger listeners cannot get over the sublime melancholy of Veer Zaara. The more discerning ones swear by the range of songs in Waqt and Daag. Of course, there’s no less craze for the soundtrack of Chandni, Lamhe or Darr.

Neela Aasman from Silsila gets my vote. Amitabh Bachchan’s rendition of the Shiv-Hari gem is perfectly emblematic of Yashji’s ideas of amour, leisurely courtship and head-in-the-clouds condition.


Sudhir and Iftekhar in Deewar
Sudhir and Iftekhar in Deewar
It’s Throwback Thursday with Bollywood.

Look beyond the leads, Sudhir and Iftekhar are all kinds of swag in this scene from Deewar leading up to my favourite dialogue later in the film: Main aaj bhi phenke hue paise nahi uthata.

One of these days, I plan to curate Iftekhar’s suave fashion sense for you.


Trilok, Shammi and Harshvardhan Kapoor
Trilok, Shammi and Harshvardhan Kapoor
I am at an early morning screening of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya. The disappointing attendance doesn’t faze me. Films have a way of attracting audience if they’re really worth their time. Despite the breathtaking visuals, Mirzya isn’t one.

As mentioned in my review, Mehra’s ‘preoccupation with visual splendour comes in way of common sense to attest the reckless, hopeless workings of crazy, stupid love.’

In the end, we’re left with people ‘we never care about in life or after’ even though the heavily passionate soundtrack strongly pleads their case.

What I liked though is Harshvardhan Kapoor’s low-key approach to a character previously essayed by two more Kapoors in 1947 and 1957 adaptations of Mirza Sahiban.

If Trilok, Prithviraj Kapoor’s younger brother, plays the doomed lover with comic urgency, his nephew Shammi doesn’t quite convince in his unmistakably Yahoo body language for a role that requires heft.

Irrespective of Mirzya‘s fate, I am hopeful about Harshvardhan. I usually have a good feeling about actors who gradually unravel on big screen.


Sridevi in Chaalbaaz
Sridevi in Chaalbaaz
No matter how many times I watch Chaalbaaz, its kitschy sensibilities never fail to entertain. More importantly, a delightful double role underscores the might of Sridevi at the peak of her stardom in 1989.

While watching its terribly overblown climax on TV, I am not so amazed at how Sunny Deol and Rajnikanth are single-handedly taking on a never-ending supply of Anupam Kher’s henchmen but at the growing lump in my throat watching mousy Sri forced to gulp down poison even as feisty Sri promises aid.

This is the sort of film where you know nobody dies. But Sridevi is not a lazy actress. She doesn’t let you take comfort in assumption. Her distress is so intense, tangible and melodramatic, it’ll not stop till the viewer is fully convinced of her anguish.

They just don’t make them like Sri any more.


A still from Mujrim
A still from Mujrim
In the middle of the night, I message my brother to inquire the name of the film he bunked school and tuitions to catch a glimpse of Mithun Chakraborty and Madhuri Dixit when they shot at a residential colony in Goregaon, some 50 metres away from my building during the late 1980s. It was easily the most eventful thing to ever occur inside our cosy, middle-class neighbourhood

My brother’s seen and helmed too many shootings since then to remember or share my enthusiasm for this specific memory. On prodding further, he offers a few clues. The most helpful one: it’s the last scene.

If you’ve read this space, you’ll know how much I enjoy looking up for such trivial details.

Mithun and Madhuri haven’t collaborated on anything truly memorable except Prem Pratigya, which earned them good reviews. As it turns out, it’s not Prem Pratigya.Not Ilaaka either.

Eventually, I learn the film is Umesh Mehra’s Mujrim and in the said scene, a fresh out-of-prison Mithun along side Madhuri, Johnny Lever, Suresh Oberoi and Pallavi Joshi assemble around Nutan’s bust to pay tribute. Cut to acknowledgments, the mention of Hari Rattan Society removes any room for doubt.

A whole day was spent to shoot this 30-second scene featuring a huge crowd of locals around the stars. My brother is a part of this faceless mass.

All I remember is he got the firing of his life from my mom for skipping school while I simply sulked for being too young and missing out. All the more on learning he shook hands with Madhuri Dixit.

A decade or so later, I did too.

This column was first published on

Also read:
Inside Dharmendra-Hema’s intensely private world
Power of Pink
The irrepressible cuteness of Pooja Bhatt
Indradhanush was our Stranger Things
When Saif Ali Khan wore Rishi Kapoor’s sweater
Getting nostalgic about the 1980s, Winona Ryder & Kishore Kumar
Rediscovering Gulzar’s Ghalib & finding Free Love
Applauding NTR’s Superman on screen!
Tripping on A R Rahman
A millipede and Kimi Katkar’s monsoon romance
Udta Punjab, worst casting decisions, and naheeee…!
Of warring Khan bhakts and meeting Mogambo!
Ranbir’s forgotten romance in Bachna Ae Haseeno
Funnier than Aishwarya’s lips
Clashing superheroes and crying Khans
OCDing on Neetu Singh’s LPs!
Garam Dharam, Mantrik Origins, Rockstar Cruise

Share via email+1Pin it on PinterestShare on TumblrDigg ThisSubmit to StumbleUponSubmit to reddit
Posted in Columns & Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mirzya sacrifices sense for style. That’s the real tragedy!

A still from Mirzya.
A still from Mirzya.
Some stories are a product of its time. Against a contemporary perspective, they are straightaway obsolete. But delve deep and they’ll reveal a desperation and repression that could be forged into something dark, disturbing or poignant. It’s what makes Vishal Bhardwaj’s Shakespeare adaptations so vivid and wicked. Regrettably in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s case, his preoccupation with visual splendour comes in way of common sense to attest the reckless, hopeless workings of crazy, stupid love.

Mehra’s Mirzya, a beauteous but hollow reworking of Mirza Sahiban, one out of the four famous Punjab romances about star-crossed lovers, chronicles the misfortune behind their prominence around a scenario split between a fanciful present and sequences of a mythical past.

While one arc replaces Punjabi pride for Rajasthani royalty, the other preens in artistic liberty. Neither timeline exhibits any semblance to reality; it’s like watching the dainty inhabitants of a musical snow globe stuck in a state of inertia, graceful but, nevertheless, inertia.

The director’s advertising world aesthetics fashion a tribal warrior theme for the parallel universe marked by Leh landscapes, slo-mo aggression, arrows with blue crystal tips and CGI overkill. Though a vision to behold, the segments are little more than a ruse to distract from its lack of emotional structure.

Cinematography by Paweł Dyllus and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s soundtrack imbued in Gulzar’s penmanship are Mirzya’s only source of soul but not enough to save Mehra’s sluggish storytelling.

Completely doing away with the element of incest or clan conflict of its source, he instead evokes defunct, cheesy notions of a love story. Childhood romance is an awkward space; Betaab’s Jab hum jawan honge sensibilities are relics redeemed by RD’s mellifluousness and quadrangles like Muqaddar Ka Sikandar high on Memsaab-complex and toxic (one here looks more pudin hara than poison) tactics are salvaged by Amitabh Bachchan’s winning intensity. What’s truly disturbing, besides Mirzya’s dearth of plot and characterisation, though is the endorsement of rash behaviour from pint-sized kids in Om Puri’s Ishq mein aksar hota hai voiceover. This so-called junoon never hits home.

Mirza and Sahiban are known as Munish/Adil (Harshvardhan Kapoor) and Suchi (Saiyami Kher) in their new avatar. Except there’s nothing timeless about their limp chemistry and unconvincing connection, especially to justify the latter’s hot potato treatment of her blue-blooded husband-to-be (a feeble Anuj Choudhary). One moment she’s locking lips with the fiancé like she means it, another she’s making out with scruffy stable boy because they attended the same alma mater? To balance things out, there’s another girl (a mawkish Anjali Patil) crushing on modern-day Mirzya but she’s too mindful of her role as collateral damage to be anything else.

Things remain pretty ridiculous for a while. Between musical interludes of leaping dancers, more exotic than folk, expounding on the erratic relationship status of the leading pair and a hammy heroine’s father (Art Malik) with Romeo and Juliet on his lips and Twelfth Night on his wall, Mirzya finds time to embark on a full moon safari drawing assaulting lions et al. It’s the only time the word ‘junoon’ popped in my head. The one starring Rahul Roy.

Having said that, Mirzya’s commitment to seriousness is tiresome. It’s a good one hour and fifty minutes before we catch a glimpse of Harshvardhan Kapoor’s smile.

A still from Mirzya.
A still from Mirzya.
After seeing Trilok Kapoor and his nephew Shammi enacting the same character in black and white adaptations released a decade apart, it’s safe to say newcomer Harshvardhan’s is the most impressive. Neither his grubbiness nor his physique seems manufactured. His authenticity and gentle speech, a lot like Ranveer Singh’s Lootera voice, stands out in Mehra’s lavish spectacle but blends in robustly as he transforms into a horse-riding archer of an unspecified reality.

Expressive as her luminous face is, his statuesque co-star Saiyami Kher falters as soon as she opens her mouth. It’s never a good thing if your dialogue delivery reminds one of Meghana Kothari in Prem Aggan.

Opulent Leh battles, seductive Rajasthan ballet, picture perfect frames of postured passion peppered in flared lens to the tune of a soundtrack that’s miles ahead of its scenery involving people we never care about in life or after– Mehra’s Mirzya sacrifices sense for style and that is its real tragedy.

This review was first published on

Share via email+1Pin it on PinterestShare on TumblrDigg ThisSubmit to StumbleUponSubmit to reddit
Posted in Columns & Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly column: Inside Dharma-Hema’s intensely private world!

Romance died, came alive and lives on forever, off screen or on it, in my fabulously filmi week.


Hardly the idiot box junkie to wake up early morning and watch the Emmys, I catch its repeat telecast in the evening only to discover quite a few moments in the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted ceremony.

* There’s nothing like too much trolling where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is concerned.

Be it Kimmel reproaching Apprentice producer, Mark Burnett for contributing to Trump’s celebrity, ‘Thanks to Mark Burnett we don’t have to watch reality shows anymore, we’re living in one’ or five-time Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s mock apology for the current political climate, ‘Our show (Veep) started out as a political satire but it now feels more like a sobering documentary.’

Sashaying in a flowy red Jason Wu, Priyanka Chopra is a picture of romance. Twirl and Tom Hiddleston in tow, it’s tempting to read more into their smiles as the handsome duo takes centre stage to present a section of awards. Sadly, this is not Bollywood and nobody breaks into a song.

* Topple the patriarchy! Whistle-inducing last words of a hard-hitting speech delivered by Emmy recipient and Transparent creator Jill Soloway.

* Hurray, the kids from Stranger Things are here! Bummer, it’s a snooze-worthy shtick of Eleven, Lucas and Dustin dispensing peanut butter jelly sandwiches made by Kimmel’s mom to the attendees.

Rather see them on stage collecting an Emmy or two next year.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith


Shrek’s Donkey was right about celebrity marriages. They never seem to last. And the latest to uphold his belief are Hollywood royalty — Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

I am not devastated by the news of their divorce. Nor am I all that surprised and I’d like to believe it’s got nothing to do with my leanings for Team Aniston. Pitt’s ex-wife moved on years ago, so should her so-called sympathizers.

What I am amused by is the circus that follows, the nature of (social) media coverage.

There’s an onslaught of Rachel Green gifs having a last laugh over the split. The press is happily highlighting an assumed quote as the Friends star’s conclusive personal reaction to the development.

New York Post goes ahead and runs a cover of a cackling Aniston. What’s problematic about this narrative is not only is it in terribly poor taste but the fact we are taking delight in it.

I am not the biggest fan of Brangelina but the truth is two people got hurt, enough to break their union and family of more than a decade. But the jokes and speculation once again reiterate how fame is only about curiosity never concern.


Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia in Saagar
Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia in Saagar.

Saagar is playing on cable.

Ramesh Sippy’s 1985 love triangle owes an awful lot to Rahul Dev Burman’s melodies, picturesque Goa and Dimple Kapadia’s oomph. How dreamily the three combine in the seduction and sensuality of Jaane Do Na.

Compared to the physical proximity one witnesses in today’s cinema, one may argue it’s pretty mild. Except it’s the very element of teasing and a palpable sexual tension between Dimple and Rishi Kapoor that gives it a timeless edge over toned abs of semi-clad beings.

But take out the aforementioned attributes and Saagar’s typically 1980s tropes — a contrived rich versus poor plot, hamming histrionics and tacky conflict — make the romance drama quite a slog to sit through.


A still from Banjo
A still from Banjo

Inside old Delhi’s renowned Delite Diamond for a press screening, I am instantly enamoured by its dome-shaped structure, illuminated ceiling and vintage style.

Here to review Banjo starring Ritesh Deshmukh and Nargis Fakhri, which unlike the impressive ambiance doesn’t quite leave a mark.

Like I wrote in my review, ‘dedicated to street musicians, Ravi Jadhav’s first Hindi film is an underdog fairy tale about four slum-dwelling small-timers of great talent and zero fortune in anticipation of a breakthrough. Banjo makes a winsome start but takes an awfully tedious route to achieve its happily ever after.’


Anushka Sharma in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Anushka Sharma in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Alright, so the official trailer of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is finally out.

My biggest takeaway? Anushka Sharma, hands down!

I don’t know if she’s central or not but for me, so far, Ae Dil is completely about her. Even in those fleeting scenes, she exudes such attractive vulnerability conveying that crazy space of ‘it’s complicated.’

There’s one moment where Ranbir Kapoor, presumably her BFF, is cosily perched next to his gorgeous darling Aishwarya Rai Bachchan quoting Faiz and a visibly awkward Anushka juggles between grace and daze. Two words — class act.

I have a fun theory about this scene but I need to watch the movie before it’s confirmed to discuss further. Let’s just say kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahi samjhoge.


Amitabh Bachchan in Shahenshah
Amitabh Bachchan in Shahenshah

OH MY GOD, what is this I see? Amitabh Bachchan as Dobby the Elf? Or perhaps an inspiration for a beloved character from the Harry Potter universe?

Jokes apart, he should retain this look for his upcoming movie with Aamir Khan, Thugs of Hindostan. The latter doesn’t even require any prosthetics, heh.


Hema Malini and Dharmendra in Kinara
Hema Malini and Dharmendra in Kinara

Want to know the definition of chemistry in visuals? Just watch Kinara’s Ek hi khwab kai baar dekha hai maine.

I always blush at the sight of this song high on Dharmendra and Hema Malini’s intensely personal interaction. (The famous pair of several hits like Sholay, Azaad, Pratigya and Seeta Aur Geeta tied the knot in 1979, two years after the release of Kinara)

Everything about Ek hi khwab — RD’s mellow, leisurely pace, Gulzar’s idyllic words and romantic commentary of the mundane, Bhupinder’s deep timbre expressing intimacy in ardour and mischief (Tikoo ki bachhi) revolving around an irresistible Dharmendra and an understandably flushed Hema — celebrates the beauty of companionship in a manner few have or can.

No hype, no spectacle, just good old-fashioned togetherness.

This column was first published on

Share via email+1Pin it on PinterestShare on TumblrDigg ThisSubmit to StumbleUponSubmit to reddit
Posted in Columns & Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment