‘Good Newwz’ Movie Review: Raj Mehta delivers funny yet sentimental film on his debut

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The comedy in Good Newwz is not slapstick. Here, it’s more about the scenarios where intelligence (Varun and Deepu) meets stupidity (Honey and Monika).

Gulzar’s ‘Raat Pashmine Ki’ (Cosy Night) is seen on the bookshelf and a character misreads it as ‘Raat Paseene Ki’ (Roughly translates to ‘Sweaty Night’ which is a clear reference to Sex At Night). Husband argues with his wife in a cab, in another scene, for pushing him too hard for longer durations of intercourse (Driver listens to everything, reacts awkwardly and can’t remain silent.) A sister and a brother, in a different scene, are sitting around a table with their spouses and the discussion leading to different sex positions makes the brother feel weirdly uncomfortable as he starts making irritated yet funny replies. Directed by debutant Raj Mehta, Good Newwz has several such rib-tickling scenes that can keep one constantly engaged and in good spirits. (Well, some of the sentimental scenes, later on, may look a bit overcooked but that sidelines itself soon and let the movie turn even funnier.)

Good Newwz basically tells the story of two couples who find themselves tangled in a web of surprises and confusions. With both of the couples claiming (or denying) each other’s child as their own, the film offers a hysterical and emotional view of how they eventually deal with it. Here, you wonder if the birth of a child is really a ‘good news’ to the protagonists.

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Akshay Kumar has portrayed some wonderful characters in the past that required him to make the audience laugh out loud (most memorable ones are Hera Pheri and Welcome). He succeeded. Even in the films that were not an out-an-out comedy genre, he displayed his comic potential to a great extent. He can be as funny and sprightly as he is grim and despondent. One has to trumpet forth the praises on Director Raj Mehta for wonderfully leveraging Akshay’s making-one-laugh-out-loud ability. Akshay plays Varun in Good Newwz and never overly tries to do something comical. Varun’s frustration and angst, that come out as natural responses to a situation, turn out to be hilarious.

It’s the presence of other leading characters that actually make Varun’s job easier in giving you unstoppable laugh. Monika (Kiara Advani) exhibiting her poor English pronunciation (for instance, Flesh for Flush, Spam for Sperm) calls for a humorous response from Varun. The continuous giggling of Honey (Diljit Dosanjh), as he speaks, is enough to put a smile on your face. Deepu (Kareena Kapoor Khan), who plays Varun’s wife, leaves her best till the end. (The hilarity is at its peak when she delivers her baby in the hospital and frustratingly yells at Doctor Anand Joshi who is played by Adil Hussain.)

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The comedy in Good Newwz is not slapstick. Here, it’s more about the scenarios where intelligence (Varun and Deepu) meets stupidity (Honey and Monika). In the midst of comedies, the film offers a lot to think about. The film displays prudence and makes us ponder over the question of what’s the right way – ‘adopting a child’ or ‘trying to give birth to a child of your own blood’. It also delineates mix of heartlessness and good-naturedness as we get different perspectives on creation and destruction of life. The women in the film are more sensible when it comes to human life and teach a lesson to men. Except for the songs that seem unnecessary and an inclination towards sentiments that seem uninteresting and too melodramatic (barring an instance that can bring tears to your eyes where Varun emotionally embraces Deepu), Good Newwz is definitely a piece of great news and ensures a perfect end to 2019 for Hindi Cinema.

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‘Mission Mangal’ Movie Review: A fantastic tribute to India’s first-ever Mars mission where dreams became a reality

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Source: Fox Star Hindi | YouTube

Mission Mangal does justice to one of the most influential and eye-opening achievements in the history of space research.

Rakesh Dhawan (Akshay Kumar) and Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan), the lead scientists supervising India’s historic Mars mission, have taken inspiration from home science, managed to get the necessary approvals and the resources, and incorporated everything in the rocket science that they know so well. Mission Mangal (Mission Mars) is Director Jagan Shakti’s ambitious and meticulously written project that not just feels sweet but also tastes bitter. Jagan knows that we are apprehensive of the fact that the success of Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) drawn accolades from the entire globe and we may have doubts whether the film will resort to more of glorification than the struggles. Jagan makes sure that Mission Mangal is not that sort of a film. He lends it an equal share of both the moments where we don’t just feel dejected by the failures, embarrassments and difficulties but also feel proud and rejoice over the triumphs.

There is ‘hope’ in the background music (composed by Amit Trivedi) as it perfectly enhances the spirit of being alive in the mission. You feel astonished by the intelligence of the scientists in whom, amidst every other obstacle, sparks innovative ideas while cooking Puri or looking at people protesting against plastic dumps in the ocean or even while staring at a picture of sailing craft on a throw pillow. When you think about India and its space programs, the very first name that may come to your mind is Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. The film does honour him. And when it does, it may give you goosebumps. Even the close shots of the rocket when it is being set up on the launch site or smoke engulfing a part of it or the hopeful faces of scientists were so brilliantly shown (All credits to the cinematographer Ravi Varman).

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Source: Fox Star Hindi | YouTube

Akshay gives the mixture of seriousness, staying-calm-under-pressure and mirthfulness to Rakesh’s character. But it’s the hilarity that works so well. In a humorous scene, he calmly enters inside a poorly maintained building, calls it Mars, finds the availability of little water and even claims the presence of life. He even asks a guy to place a television over his head. And when a guy asks Rakesh if this is Mars department, he says, “Hum bhi yahi soch ke khade hain” (We are also standing here thinking the same). Also watch out for Akshay’s Tamil-language speaking skills in the film.

The women in this movie always take the centre stage and are as much an important part of the film as the real women scientists were for the success of this Mars mission (You also have to appreciate the wonderful ensemble cast with each of them raising the bar higher when it comes to performance). You are also not alien to the personal lives of these characters. You do care about them. Outside of this mission, they have their own problems to take care of. You root for Eka Gandhi (Sonakshi Sinha) and her colleague Parmeshwar (Sharman Joshi) to be together. Tara’s amazing calmness while managing her husband, son and daughter speak volumes of Vidya Balan’s stupendous act. The sadness and disappointment in Varsha (Nithya Menen) are noticeable when her mother-in-law angrily scolds her for not getting pregnant. The driving lessons taken by Kritika (Taapsee Pannu) are chucklesome. You feel the agony of Neha (Kirti Kulhari) when she is denied a house for rent as she is a Muslim (While there is a work going on to find habitable planets in the space, some of us belonging to the ‘most intelligent’ species on Earth still follow a divisive design).

Of course, there is always someone who tries to close all the doors and be pessimistic about everything. There is Rupert (Dalip Tahil) in this film to do that. Dalip fantastically lends that villainous feel to this Rupert character. But the determination of Tara and a ‘change’ in the attitude of the scientists (one of the loveliest sequence where scientists realise why they chose to be in the field of science in the first place) ultimately spell the victory. Well, the film could have done without a weird fight sequence inside a train or a scientists-jovially-dancing-to-the-tune-of-a-song (Probably, the only two things that didn’t work for me). But, other than that, the film does justice to one of the most influential and eye-opening achievements in the history of space research.

Kesari Movie Review: An underwhelming showcase of an important Indian history

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Kesari pins its hopes on getting loud cheers (which it does get) for action sequences that are filled with intrepidity

Even before the film begins, there is a note that clearly says that this is based on the Battle of Saragarhi that also includes fictitious depictions. This did reflect onto the screen as Akshay Kumar, one of the biggest commercial actors in Bollywood, revels in the heroic fights in this painstakingly long drawn-out film. As a matter of fact, the very first fight sequence, where Havildar Ishar Singh (Akshay Kumar) jumps up in the air and shoots a man, foretold what’s in store for us. This is a film that pins its hopes on getting loud cheers (which it does get) for action sequences that are filled with intrepidity. Once the brief history is portrayed and the causes behind the battle are established in the entire first half of the movie, you realise that there is still another half of the movie left to endure. Director Anurag Singh’s Kesari (Saffron) is the account of how 21 soldiers of Sikh regiments show bravery and fight till death to combat thousands of men.

You don’t really need someone to spoon feed the patriotism in you. You should be able to feel it while watching a film. ‘Lagaan’, India’s rare gem that was shortlisted for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, instilled a feeling of pride in every Indian. But there weren’t any forced instances of making us feel so. Except for the story that is set during the British rule, both Lagaan and Kesari are entirely different (with the former clearly outclassing the latter in triggering the emotions). By reiterating dialogues like Indians are “Ghulam” (Slave) to British and are “Darpok” (Coward) or “Pag ko haath nahi lagana” (Do not dare touch my turban), there is a definite effort being taken in Kesari to intensify the moments. As an Indian, I did understand the gravity of these dialogues and where they stem from, but such forced triggers hardly moved me.

On the contrary, some of the less emphasised scenes were much more interesting and I could only wish if those moments could stay longer. Parineeti Chopra, who fills the spot of Ishar Singh’s love-interest, lends much-needed warmth during the brief stay and even Akshay Kumar’s calm and jovial attitude in her presence is a loveable portrayal. The pre-battle comedic instances are transient and yet so nice (When Ishar Singh smirks behind the door thinking of how his men have misinterpreted a hen’s ‘Kook-Doo-Koo’ sound as ‘Cook’ or when he purposely visits a soldier’s room repeatedly to see him standing there and saluting him). Even Ishar Singh’s funny interaction with an Afghani girl, where neither of them knows each other’s language, is a great addition. Ishar’s kind gestures of offering water to the injured men or helping to build a mosque were unexpected and touching.

Kesari does serve the purpose of reminding Indians of a history that is not talked about or even taught in Indian schools. But it fails to leave the kind of impact that it intends to. It remains a forgettable affair.

2.0 Movie Review: A sci-fi film to be lived, loved and experienced

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2.0 is a sci-fi action film which is fascinating, educative and a visual masterpiece where Rajinikanth shines all the way

I knew that this is Director Shankar’s film and I was prepared for the visual extravaganza that his films are known for. 2.0 was no different. Things like how big the budget of the film is and the top-notch VFX shots that the film has to offer were given the wings to fly to spread before the release in the promotional campaigns. So, perhaps I needed to warm myself up before the film portrays the visually impressive scenes. And 2.0 does warm you up. In the very beginning, it gives you a lot to ponder over with a mixture of emotions. While a whole family is engrossed on smartphones, a man is speaking to someone on his phone saying that he is having a “quality time” with his family. Another guy takes a selfie sitting beside a dead man pretending to be sad. And a lady says that the phone has kept her lead the marital life in spite of her husband working in a foreign country. A guy says that he is bored to death without a phone. This is a humorous yet an intelligent sequence of shots that put forth the picture of where the world is heading in this age of mobile phones.

The film does not waste any time and keeps us arrested right from the word go. It depicts the dominance of phones in our lives. But interestingly phones also dominate most of the narrative. A guy is talking on the phone while riding his motorcycle and falls from his vehicle as the phone flies away into nowhere (hidden advice that you shouldn’t be talking on the phone while riding a motorcycle?). I loved Shankar’s vision when a swarm of phones glides along the road and into a bungalow. In another riveting scene, phones slide down from the trees and crawl among the fallen leaves to attack phone company chief (Kaizaad Kotwal). Also, it was terrifying when a truckload of phones go inside a phone seller’s mouth as he explodes into pieces. Even the military tank finds itself helpless before a horde of phones. I could not have imagined a better way of showing destruction and death just using mobile phones. There is no random killing of people. What works in a big way is that it makes us think of real motive behind every single event. We get a feeling that all these events are happening to prove a point as the people who get attacked are phone seller, phone company chief and Telecom Minister (Kalabhavan Shajohn) – Watch out for the transient but brilliant and hilarious performance of Telecom minister and his assistant (Mayilsamy).

2.0 resumes from where it left off in Endhiran (yes you must watch it to understand the references in 2.0). So obviously, there are elements of Endhiran in this film. There is a phone call from Sana (Aishwarya Rai) – Dr. Vaseegaran’s (Scientist Rajinikanth) love interest – we do not actually see her but just hear the voice. Chitti, humanoid version of Rajinikanth, has human-like feelings which force him not to shoot Dr. Vaseegaran. 2.0, which is both the title of the movie and the name of the evil version of Chitti, uses a cluster of guns to shoot, becomes a magnet to attract objects made of iron, forms a spherical figure shooting all around and even says that iconic dialogue (meh..) in his villainous tone. There are references to Shankar’s other films as well. When evil Chitti says that it is always a great feeling to die and then come back alive, it reminds us of Sivaji: The Boss. There is also an Anniyan-esque scene involving Dr. Vaseegaran and Pakshirajan (Akshay Kumar) where Chitti gets ripped off.

Everything about Akshay Kumar as Pakshirajan and the story revolving around him was so wonderful to watch. We feel the calm and composed nature of his character as he explains his love for birds. It is a pleasant sight when we see the birds perched on his stretched arms or when a bird is building a nest over the ceiling fan. As the pullinangal song enthrals us in the background (Music director A.R. Rahman is at his best), a bird nods its head to the rhythm of the song. It is so moving to hear him talk about the harsh realities of cell phone signals that are killing birds. I was driven by the emotional and poignant display in the movie when a dead baby bird falls in the hands of Pakshirajan. And then there is this Pakshirajan, with his face tilted and wearing a sly grin, looking fierce in the avatar of ‘birdman’ (as evil Chitti calls him) as a rap song plays in the background that enhances the style and ferociousness.

Amy Jackson as Nila is a nice addition to this film. She is a humanoid, has pre-programmed feelings and assists Dr. Vaseegaran. Although she does not have much to do with the narrative, she never looks out of place. Her romance portions look funny and it works. Like when Dr. Vaseegaran proposes to get Chitti back on road, it brings a wide smile on Nila. She even says dialogues like vada poche! (a leaf taken out of Comedian Vadivelu’s sidesplitting one-liners) and naalu peruku nalladhuna edhuvum thappilla (famous scene from the movie Nayagan). It is comedic when the Irumbile oru idhaiyam song (from Endhiran) plays in the background as she romantically looks at Chitti.

It was hugely satisfying to watch Rajinikanth pull off a stunner as he performed with aplomb. We see him taking different avatars from small to giant. He literally lived in those characters. As Dr. Vaseegaran, there is every bit of scientist in him as he uses a visualisation technology to explain things. He does not try to run fast, jump high or fight with someone. As a matter of fact, Nila saves him from a falling tower and is even helped to climb and jump off a wall. For all the action, there is Chitti. Chitti continues his superhuman stuff from where he left off in Endhiran. But the evil Chitti stole the show with his villainous yet comical display. I laughed out loud when evil Chitti kept on imitating a bird. Deservingly, he had a Superstar Rajni title card that appeared magnificently before the start of the movie in 3D.

There were a few areas that did not work for me. Dhinendra Bohra (Sudhanshu Pandey) did not really grow into a threatening character. He did not seem to have much relevance other than being the son of Bohra (Danny Denzongpa) who played the antagonistic role in Endhiran. Pakshirajan turning into a giant bird did not scatter my wits. There was a feeling of familiarity as Dr. Vaseegaran pitches for Chitti’s return. That truck scene where the giant bird is being controlled did not look menacing and seemed draggy. And it seems like movies with superheroic stories can’t be made without demolishing the building with people in it or without hurting the people in general. The spherical figure, formed by evil Chitti, runs in and around the stadium shooting everywhere all the while with people running helter-skelter. Also, the fight sequence between giant versions of evil Chitti and Pakshirajan did not quite work for me. It was annoying to see few lip-sync fails as some actors including Akshay Kumar were actually speaking in Hindi.

I liked how the dialogues (B. Jeyamohan’s Tamil dialogues are phenomenal) were intelligently capturing the mood of the film. Pakshirajan rips off the legs of Chitti and says, “Your call (kaal) is disconnected”. He attacks Dhinendra Bohra saying that he is also a “subscriber”. The movie educates us about the relevance of using technology in an optimal way without causing any damage to the other lives on earth (birds in this case). But it never feels preachy. It is a movie which is to be lived, loved and experienced. There is a scene in the movie where a man tells that he started enjoying life more without the phones but still comes out to buy a new one. That perfectly puts the current scenario as neither can we stay without it forever nor can we keep using it all the time. It did trigger me to look at the world with a different viewpoint and I hope it encourages more people to understand that this world is not only for humans. 2.0 is a sci-fi action film which is fascinating, educative and a visual masterpiece where Rajinikanth shines all the way. As Dr. Vaseegaran suggests, I will at least keep a pot of water for the birds in the extreme summer. Dot.