‘War’ Movie Review: A mixture of classy, modish and brutal elements

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War is loud and brutal but is also stylish and stuffed with surprise packages that keep you afloat.

Kabir (Hrithik Roshan) and Khalid (Tiger Shroff) are the heroes as well as the anti-heroes. They fight together. But they also fight against each other. They are chasing a terrorist. But they are also chasing each other’s tail. Amidst all of this, War, which is centred around two Indian soldiers and their pursuit of finding the masterminds of terror groups, comes packed with an abundance of surprises to astonish you at various moments (sometimes even totally unexpected). Director Siddharth Anand knows he has a set of highly flamboyant actors and he uses them to great perfection. In this, Hrithik and Tiger are muscular, stylish, agile, fast, and dazzling. Most important of all, Hrithik is a proven performer. In spite of the film’s lack of substance, these two steer the film to its safety.

Unlike the masterfully shot action sequences, the film’s plot doesn’t seem well thought-out. The plot twists work wonders but the film is devoid of the depth, relevance and focus in the storyline. The film also suffers from its sheer incapability in evoking emotions. (Neither the romance portions bloomed between Kabir and Naina (Vaani Kapoor) nor do you feel the loss or separation when their brief relationship comes to an end.) But the movie doesn’t seem wearisome due to the realistic, classy and mind-bending stunt sequences. Whether it is a sharp object that’s been almost inserted into someone’s eyes or a magnet-powered device that’s being used to jump on a flying plane and enter inside it or a deluge of gunshots from which someone’s escaping unscathed, you get all of it in this heart-stopping film.

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Siddharth Anand also considers the possibility of one actor easily overpowering the other. He gives the right amount of space to each of them to express themselves. When Hrithik has to show his heroic side (or even villainous side) as Kabir, Tiger steps aside. And when it’s Tiger’s turn to portray his heroic and villainous side as Khalid, Hrithik moves aside. They both are extraordinary dancers as well. And the songs featured in the film makes great use of their remarkable skills. (There will be comparisons of who’s dancing better and you can’t help it.)

The film keeps you guessing about several things and makes you raise questions like – Is Colonel Luthra (Ashutosh Rana) involved in terror activities too? When the film presents ‘big shocker’ from time to time, those are the moments that impress you the most. War is loud and brutal but is also stylish and stuffed with surprise packages that keep you afloat.

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Sonchiriya Movie Review: Intense and rooted

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Sonchiriya is an intense dacoit-based story that throws light on sexual abuse and caste-related violence backed by a superbly written screenplay

Indumati Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar) croons ‘Sonchiriya’ (sung by Rekha Bhardwaj in the composition of Vishal Bhardwaj) that has a haunting and calming effect. She is sitting with an ailing young girl as they are being rescued by dacoit Lakhna (Sushant Singh Rajput) on a boat. This moment comes immediately after the intermission as it leaves us in a state of serenity. This is also the moment when we get to know that Sonchiriya is, actually, the name of that young girl. This scene has a special place in my heart as it sprung like the sweet smell of soil that the air carries after the rainfall during peak summer. The film has such intense story that we yearn for the tranquillity, that this song produces, to remain with Indumati and the young girl as they have gone through a lot of sufferings due to the so-called caste and the sexual abuses.

Rooted in casteism and child sexual abuse, Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya portrays the life of dacoits, their internal conflicts, their continued battle against security forces and, most importantly, how they wind up saving the lives of Indumati and the young girl accompanied by her. The back-and-forth style of screenplay in Sonchiriya infused the film with ‘surprise’, ‘unknown’ and ‘guess’ elements. A small girl, for instance, flashes in the eyes of the dacoit Maan Singh (Manoj Bajpayee) early on in the film which frightens him. The relevance of that small girl comes much later and at the appropriate juncture in the story as Lakhna recounts a misadventure that led to the killings of young children. Even the complete picture of what really transpired during the conversation between Maan Singh and an informer, that takes place before they go about looting a big fat Indian wedding, is disclosed much later.

Manoj Bajpayee’s brief appearance for the Maan Singh character overshadowed the presence of every other actor whenever he came on to the screen. His terrific acting brought out the benevolent expression while giving away money to an informer. He looks dangerous when he calmly asks for the cash to a trembling guy in a wedding. It was only when his part was over that the other characters finally seemed to exist. Lakhna, played by Sushant Singh Rajput, bloomed soon after Manoj’s brief stint and was well supported by dacoit Vakil Singh played by Ranvir Shorey. Lakhna, as Indumati states in a scene, is an understanding and kind-hearted dacoit. Vakil is very particular about one’s caste (He shows his aggression when the young girl, accompanied by Indumati, is found to be of a different caste who are termed by them as ‘untouchables’). Vakil, also, has no regard for women and considers them inferior (He scolds a guy, in a scene, saying, “Tu mard ni, aurat hai” (You aren’t a man but a woman)). Bhumi Pednekar’s extraordinary act exemplified the sentiments attached to the character of Indumati (One could feel the harrowing experience she must have gone through as she pleads Lakhna not to reveal that she was, too, subjected to the sexual abuse during her childhood). Even Ashutosh Rana looked threatening as he plays the role of a security officer (When he is hiding on a terrace, he slowly gets up and keeps a stern face, gestures with a finger on his lips to a boy standing on the opposite terrace in a bid to tell him not to shout, and shoots at the dacoits).

I felt that the movie lost the grip in the second-half. But the intensity remained intact because of its brilliant writing and the marvellous way with which it brings out the core issues revolving caste and girl child rape incidents. Not to forget the fantastic background score that further intensified the impact of the movie.

With the security forces chasing away the dacoits and some members of security forces planning to take down their own leading officer, the movie rightfully ends on a note referring to the natural occurrence of life in which snakes eat rats and vultures eat snakes. Sonchiriya is an intense dacoit-based story that throws light on sexual abuse and caste-related violence backed by a superbly written screenplay.

Simbaa Movie Review: “Mind-ich blowing”… Not at all!

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Simmba is a stodgy, loud, and an uninteresting film that has its moments when it plays with our emotions for a bit

Police officer Mohile (Ashutosh Rana) suggests an agitated and angry Inspector Sangram Bhalerao aka Simmba (Ranveer Singh) to shout even louder. Well, he was already hollering at a high pitch and maybe got carried away by that suggestion. He does not implement that instantly which comes off as some respite for the audience. A cacophony of sound waves awaits us post-interval. Director Rohit Shetty’s love affair with the cop-based masala movies continues with Simmba (both the title of the movie and the name of titular character) which is not exactly a continuation of Ajay Devgn starrer Singham franchise but rather builds on its platform and nicely merges the world of Singham with Simmba.

Like the Singham franchise, which was based on Surya starrer Tamil film Singam, Simbaa is loosely inspired from Jr. NTR starrer Telugu film Temper. The core of Simmba’s story is very ‘unique’ where a corrupt police officer dramatically experiences a change of heart and cunningly brings the bad guys to the justice in Bajirao Singham’s (Ajay Devgn) way. Ranveer keeps repeating a dialogue in the film which says, “tell me something I don’t know”. The uniqueness in the story made me think of saying the same dialogue in return. But, as a sigh of relief, there are some elements that are added on top of the core structure that makes this film watchable even when you are yawning all the way.

The film rides on the emotional drama. Simmba keeps referring to the people he meets as a sister, a mother or a father. When a man cries helplessly after his land was taken over, we feel the pain. When the honest cop like Mohile is unable to pay for his daughter’s fees, there is an air of hopelessness. The entire sequence of the rape of a woman, just before the intermission, elevates our interest levels to some extent with its gripping and harrowing nature which forms the foundation of the film thereby making the second-half more intriguing.

But it feels like the actors in the film are poised on the stage and wind up doing too much than what is required. The child, who plays the younger version of Simmba, keeps a stern face while talking to goons, picks up a glass bottle out of nowhere, hits it hard on something to break it, threatens them and cracks some punch dialogues. First half had a lot of trying-too-hard-to-make-us-laugh scenes where Ranveer Singh talks in a weird manner. When Simmba gets transferred to a different police station, the police officer Tavde (Siddhartha Jadhav), who comes to receive him, acts as if he already knows Simmba (It must be said that Siddhartha Jadhav remained a bright spot with his performance).

There were two contrasting instances where I was flustered by the way women were depicted. On one hand, the wife of a jeweller blinks an eye and says, “Call me” to Simmba (Not sure if that is supposed to be taken funnily). In another scene, a man asks Simmba to remove his shoes and, then, enter the house otherwise his wife will get pissed (Yeah, very true. Only women are concerned about cleanliness). On the other hand, there is a contrasting scene where a sort of women empowerment can be seen when Simmba asks the women police officers to beat the hell out of the guys who were accused of rape.

Simmba’s lady-love, Shagun (Sara Ali Khan), is the most significant character in the film and does the ‘magic’ instantly. She appears in the movie all of a sudden and Simmba falls in love instantly (Oh, What magic!). I do not know when she exactly disappeared from the scheme of things and when she actually made a reappearance as her character was of no concern to the film’s narrative whatsoever. On a serious note, I was really mesmerised by the romantic scenes between them (Such a horrible display of expressing I-Love-You). Not to forget the Aankh Marey song that is placed during their romantic journey which only made it even tougher to sit through this movie.

The angst that Ranveer Singh shows on his face while fighting the bad guys is impending. But Sonu Sood’s performance as Durva Ranade can’t be termed powerful by any means. He threatens Simmba, he again threatens Simmba, and he keeps doing so. Finally, as expected, he fights with him. Oh, what a turnaround!

There were few scenes that were really good in an otherwise highly foretellable storytelling. The scene where CCTV camera footage was used to somehow show the killing of prisoners as an act of self-defence was an interesting one. Even the entry of Ajay Devgn as Bajirao Singham for a transient appearance was a nice addition. Also, it was hurtful and terrifying when Simmba reads out the stats of yearly rape incidents in India.

Simmba is a stodgy, loud, and an uninteresting film that has its moments when it plays with our emotions for a bit. Ranveer Singh keeps uttering a dialogue in the film that says, “Mind-ich blowing”. All we could say in return is, “not at all”. I sat through the film disinterested just like the people who were washing their clothes casually and paying no heed to Simmba who is running after goons in slow motion and beating them.