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Honest Movie Reviews & Editorials | Just for Movie Freaks

Blog posts July 2018

Dhadak - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "A Mundane Bollywood Cliché!"

Directed by Shashank Khaitan, Dhadak is an official remake of the critically acclaimed Marathi film Sairat and stars Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor in the lead roles. The storyline of the film follows the clichéd love story of teenagers Madhukar and Parthavi where they fall in love with each other despite being ridiculed by a caste-driven society and you can probably envision the remainder of the plot without me elaborating.

Let's discuss the positives, regardless of being slammed by comments about nepotism or favoritism, Ishaan Khatter, and Janhvi Kapoor are consistently impressive throughout the film. Especially, in regards to displaying emotion, firing up quick laughs, expressing innocence and genuinity on his face, Ishaan did an exceptional job bringing life to his character and is indeed a remarkable talent. Janhvi surprised me or perhaps everyone with her decent yet noteworthy performance. Despite a few hiccups during the emotional sequences, she handled herself well all through the film.

Here are the negatives. I haven't seen the original Marathi film Sairat, so, I had zero expectations for Dhadak and walked into the theater knowing nothing about the source material. But, fifteen minutes into the film looking at how the plot is structuring itself, I found myself comfortably predicting the rest of the storyline because it's generic and I'm sure that you'll get the feeling that you've watched the same movie a million times before. The plot had no consequences as the aspect of caste that they're trying to interject did not work especially with an innocuous character like Ashutosh Rana, who plays the antagonist. The entire film was sophomoric as I felt the cringe crawl through my body which eventually made me suffer. It's one of those movies where you'll find murmuring to yourself like "In my stupid teenage years, I have made the same dumb mistake and I regret watching this movie now."

The music and the background score by Ajay-Atul are undoubtedly one of the saving graces of the film as the songs (or maybe the entire movie) were shot and picturized beautifully and the euphonious music made it so much more special to watch.

Overall, Dhadak had a significant message to share in the climax and the superstar kids Ishaan and Janhvi were a delight to watch. But, the generic storyline and the tedious screenplay made it nearly unwatchable as I found myself cringe and regret watching the majority of the film. Nevertheless, it's sad to see Bollywood still trying to beat a dead horse while South Indian Film Industry is busy exploring unorthodox love stories like Arjun Reddy.

My Rating - 2.5/5 | Grade - C+ (It Deserves Your Attention for a While!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Karenjit Kaur Review: Precise! Satisfactory!

Starring – Sunny Leone
Director – Aditya Datt
Genre – Biopic/Drama
Streaming Platform – ZEE5 

Introduction

Directed by Aditya Datt, this ZEE5 Original Series “Karenjit Kaur-The Untold Story of Sunny Leone” narrates the story of Karenjit Kaur Vohra, a regular, typical girl-next-door to the superstar we all know and love, Sunny Leone, India's Most Googled Celebrity.

The series begins with Journalist Anupam Chaubey (Raj Arjun) interviewing Sunny Leone and he starts on a degrading note. Undisturbed by his tone, Sunny calmly opens up about her past. This ten episode series showcases about her early childhood, moving to Los Angeles, her success as a beauty pageant and what forced her to step into the porn industry and why she didn’t step back even when she had a choice. 

Rationalization

Making a biopic is never easy and having the one whom you are making a biography about as the main lead was indeed admirable. It takes nerves of steel to portray yourself and tell your story to the world and in that aspect Sunny Leone has done her best as herself in this series. 

Writers Karan Srikanth Sharma and Niranjan Kaushik have taken into note only the most important happening from Sunny’s life and the screenplay was crisp with all the necessary elements such a love, animosity, emotions, and criticism. Director Aditya Datt made sure that he justifies the writing and presents the debated past life of Sunny Leone in an unadulterated manner though he took some artistic liberation. The series oscillates from 1999 to 2004 to 1994 and back to 2008 yet the storytelling isn’t complex and was trouble-free watch. 

Also, the actors impersonating Sunny’s parents and brother did their part well. Bijay J. Anand as an emotional yet upright father, Grusha Kapoor as an alcoholic mother and Karamvir Lamba as a brother who was more of a friend and supporter to Sunny in every phase of her life. I found Raj Arjun’s performance to be exceptional. Though his screen time was limited, he made a mark as a stringent journal charging questions like a scorpion sting.

Conclusion

Overall, Karenjit Kaur - The Untold Story of Sunny Leone is not very elaborate but still manages to cover the most intriguing and essential part of Sunny’s life. The series is precise, straightforward, understandable and easy to binge.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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Ant-Man and the Wasp - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Dumb Fun!"

Directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the 20th movie in the illustrious Marvel Cinematic Universe and stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña in recurring roles and Hannah John-Kamen portrays the villainous character of Ghost alongside with Walton Goggins.

Facing few repercussions due to his involvement in The Civil War, Scott Lang is in house arrest spending quality time with his daughter and his helping his waggish gang in running a security company. On the other side, Hope and Hank Pym were in a hideout trying to find, explore and create the possibilities of going inside the quantum realm in hopes to find Janet (Hank's wife) who is lost and trapped in the abyss. But, they soon find trouble with the arrival of the Ghost, who has her own agenda when it comes to capturing something significant.

Let's start with the positives, as always, much like every other MCU movie, the action sequences were a delight to watch. They're enough exhilarating scenes sprinkled all throughout the film to keep you entertained despite few storyline issues. Furthermore, the visual effects is another noteworthy positive of the film, as it is amazing to experience the marvel of CGI and the up-and-coming de-aging effect on the silver screen.

Advancing to the characters, the relationship between Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie is once again one of the primary highlights of the film and it is heartwarming to watch them together on-screen. But, Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp is the stand-out character as she had much more delve into in this film and she served as the perfect counterpart for the Ant-Man. 

However, here are the negatives. Back in 2015, in my review of Ant-Man, I openly wrote that I'm not a huge fan of the film's storyline cause it's too ordinary or orthodox for me. Now, with this film, the story felt much more uninteresting, unimportant and overall mundane to watch. You might make a point or even argue that MCU needed a much lighter toned film coming off the chaos of Infinity War, but, if you take this as an individual film or maybe watch it after few years, I'm sure that you'll most probably find it lackluster.

Also, due to the insipid plot, the screenplay also suffered substantially as the writers tried to narrate the story in a perplexing fashion which did not do any favors. The villains were once again disappointing as nothing felt like a serious threat to Ant-Man, Wasp or even Luis. Likewise, Michael Peña's comedic act quickly got stale and unhumorous after a certain point as it carried on hit to the same beats again and again.

Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp felt like the majority of the Marvel films; packed with entertaining action scenes, quick-fire comedy and a minimal intrigue added to the plot. I consider this as dumb fun cause it appealed more to the 8-year old sitting next to me who flabbergasted when the Hello Kitty Pez dispenser came out flying from the back door of a van and I have to say that he started to annoy me after a while with his buddy by screaming and jumping out-of-the-seat several times. Anyhow, back to my verdict, fortunately, there's plenty of fun that you can have with this film but it just felt like an ordinary film which is easily forgettable the next day.

My Rating - 2.75/5 | Grade - C+ (A Decent Flick!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Kadaikutty Singam / Chinna Babu - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - “Decently Made Commercial Entertainer!” 

Director Pandiraj’s movies have always been entertaining and commercially successful ones. With Kadaikutty Singam, he has delivered an ideal movie to spend the weekend, a movie which has nothing new to offer yet doesn’t bore us in any way.

The movie revolves around Perunazhi Ranasingam (Satyaraj) and his huge family comprising of his two wives, their children, and grandchildren. The problem arises when Ranasingam’s only son Gunasingam (Karthi) decides to marry Kannukiniyal (Sayyeshaa) when his family members thought he will marry any one of his nieces. The further movies show Gunasingam’s struggle to convince his family members for his marriage. 

Now, we have seen a lot of movies in Tamil which deals with such family issues, what makes this movie unique is Pandiraj's screenplay and his profound execution. I do agree that the film had many cliché scenes but none of them were boring or unwanted, besides, they were refreshing. 

Karthi’s previous film “Theeran: Adhigaram Ondru” was one of the best of 2017, it was intense in terms of script and filmmaking and his acting did justice for it. With Kadaikutty Singam, he turns into a village macho and the role of farmer suits him more than perfect. One thing which I like about Karthi is, he tends to live his character and make sure he does his part with utmost sincerity and completeness. 

I never liked Soori’s comedy lately cause it's boring and unfunny. But he has improvised a lot and teaming up with the supportive cast; he did manage to crack some decent comedy this time.

I have admired Sayyeshaa Saigal since her Tamil debut “Vanamagan”. She was a chubby girl then and her moves for the song “Damn Damn” were stunning to watch. But in Kadaikutty Singam, she seems to have lost lots of weight with clear jawline and I personally didn’t find her attractive, though she did her part as Kannukiniyal, a simplicity loving college girl role satisfactorily. 

This film has a huge list of actors doing supportive roles and everyone essayed the given character to the best of their ability. I especially liked Priya Bhavani Shankar’s (of Kalyanam Mudhal Kadhal Varai soap opera and Meyyadha Mann fame) performance.

D. Imman usually gives quality songs and background score for a movie with village backdrop but his songs were mediocre and didn’t create an impact, at the same time the background score was pretty much satisfying.

On the whole, Kadaikutty Singam is just another regular family drama where the director cleverly crafted the screenplay and added a social message about the importance of agriculture. A worthy film to watch with your family after a busy week. 

My Rating – 3/5 | Grade – B (Worth a Watch)
-An Honest Movie Review by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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Hichki & 102 Not Out - Double Header Review

Wassup Movie Freaks! I hope your really (not) enjoying the Summer weather unless you are in Mumbai and got drenched in rain #MumbaiRains. Anyway, I've done few of these Double Header Reviews in the past but this time I'm sharing my thoughts on two Bollywood movies I haven't had the chance to watch in theaters. However, thanks to Amazon Prime Video, I'm now able to catch up, cause they're few really good ones I missed out on.

Before we start, you guys know our on-going tradition, let's see how well these films performed commercially. Hichki made 76.54 crores worldwide with a production budget of 20 crores. 102 Not Out made 78.59 crores worldwide from its 10 crore production budget.

"Hichki" Overall Thoughts / My Rating - 3/5

Directed by Siddharth P. Malhotra, Hichki starring Rani Mukerji tells us the story of Naina Mathur who has a rare disorder called as Tourette syndrome and is unable to land her aspiring job as a teacher for five years. In the long run, despite many warnings from the school's administration, she accepts the job to teach for a notorious and impish group of kids who are known for doing absurd things.

Now, you may have seen many movies in the past with a similar plot cause the storyline of Hichki is something which is tried and tested in films numerous times before. But, the movie had heart and emotion in the right place. The perfect blend of witty and poignant scenes and a well-paced narrative made Hichki so much special and charming at the same time. Another great asset for the film was Rani's outstanding performance. Her likable and appealing character was well developed and Rani made sure that the audience got behind her character effortlessly.

On the whole, although predictable, Hichki was a delightful watch from start to finish and Rani gives yet another award-worthy performance. See it!

"102 Not Out" Overall Thoughts / My Rating - 3.25/5

102 Not Out starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in the lead roles is a story about a jovial carefree 102-year-old father (Amitabh Bachchan) who decides to break the record as the oldest man alive in history. But, the dreary and the lifeless attitude of his 75-year-old son (Rishi Kapoor) discourages and throws cold water on his hopes. Later, he willingly chooses to send his son to an old-age home so that he can find peace and concentrate more on smashing that world record.

Deposited with a slick 150-minute runtime, this movie is on point with its execution. The comedic sequences were tight, hilarious and entertaining. Concurrently, the emotional scenes were poignant and hit all the right notes perfectly. But, the most significant aspect is the chemistry between Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan, who seemed to had a ton of fun acting together and the humor and the emotion that they brought to this table was heartwarming and enjoyable.

Overall, for a movie which only had four primary characters, 102 Not Out delivered much more than I expected as I found myself laughing out loud and crying emotively within those 150 minutes. This is a prime example of heartening family drama and I urge you to watch it on Amazon Prime Video in case if you still haven't had the opportunity to do so.

-A Double Header Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Sacred Games Review: Dense! Gritty! Authentic!

Starring - Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Radhika Apte
Director - Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane
Genre - Crime/Thriller
Streaming Platform - Netflix 

Introduction

Directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane (two directors who are known for their unorthodox and authentic storytelling), Sacred Games is Netflix's first Indian Web Television Series and is an adaptation of Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel of the same name. Starring few of the biggest names in Bollywood Film Industry, this crime based thriller was released globally on July 6th in 190 countries and is a multi-lingual series with characters talking in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi.

Set in the tinsel town of India, Mumbai, the storyline kicks off with the return of Ganesh Gaitonde (infamous gangster of the 80's and 90's) [Nawazuddin Siddiqui] as he approaches Police Officer Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) to warn him about a threat that will devastate the city and alerts him that he has only 25 days left to salvage. The eight-episode series tells us more about the threat and how it is intervened and associated with the narrative which is far more deep, complex and mortifying.

Rationalization

One of the main reasons why this series worked remarkably on web television is because of the liberty it can take to articulate the story in an authentic way. The sex, violence, swear words used in this series is unlike anything I've ever seen before and would've been easily been censored on the silver screen or on network television. That's the beauty of streaming services like Netflix and directors Kashyap and Motwane tremendously handled the opportunity by not backing down in any aspect. 

Furthermore, another significant highlight of this complete series is the masterful storytelling. Writers Smita Singh, Vasant Nath, and Varun Grover had done an exceptional job adapting the story and the directors accomplished their job by executing it with perfection. Apart from being gritty and authentic, the storyline had numerous characters, subplots, and moving pieces which are convoluted to exercise. The series jumps from one timeline to another, intercedes itself with real-life political and terrorist incidents all through and editor Aarti Bajaj put together what seems to be a complex narrative to a skillfully comprehensible eight-hour riveting drama.

But, even after binging the series for the second time, my mind is still very much riddled with questions about how, why or when certain things about a particular character or scene happened, cause this season ended with a cliffhanger and hopefully, season two (if it happens) will connect all the loose ends which are left hanging.

Also, the characters were even more interesting. Saif Ali Khan (who I should appreciate for making interesting choices with his career) had a compelling story arc from a cop who is often chocked by the system to a human being trying to understand his role and concurrently showing some courage to face certain obstacles. Nawazuddin Siddiqui almost made his unhuman anti-hero character likable as he unsurprisingly steals the show in everything that he's in these days. Radhika Apte plays yet another vital character and she's impressive as always. But, the stand out characters for me at least are Constable Katekar and Kukoo played by Jitendra Joshi and Kubra Sait respectively. Both their characters had an emotional narrative which is very interesting to watch.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, Sacred Games is dense, gritty, authentic and is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Assembled with a gripping narrative, intriguing characters, impressive performances and overall some masterful storytelling this series is worth binging and deserves all your time and attention right now.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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Sicario: Day of the Soldado - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Gruesome! Engaging! Soldado Delivers!"

Directed by the Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima, Day of the Soldado is the sequel to the 2015 film Sicario which went on to become a fabulous hit on home video and streaming platforms and is directed by one of the best directors working today, Denis Villeneuve. Starring  Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin in recurring roles, I was very much excited to watch this film cause Sicario is one of my favorites from 2015. I still remember that day leaving the theater feeling quite uncomfortable because the film felt so real and gritty with its vibe and is one of the best and memorable movie theater experiences I ever had.

After a few devastating and destructive human bombing incidents, the United States government comprehends that these events are heavily orchestrated by the Mexican Drug Cartels and their interference in transporting illegal immigrants across the border. So, the Secretary of Defense James Riley (Matthew Modine) appoints Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) for a secret contentious mission that sets our movie underway.

Written by Taylor Sheridan, who also penned the script for Sicario ensured that the storyline is engaging enough to sit through for two hours. Much like Emily Blunt's relatable character in the first film, in Soldado, Sheridan focused on how Cartel war and gangs disturb and affects the lives of teenage kids and told the story in two subplots involving a boy and a girl. These underplots had a through line and added a much-needed emotional impact which is one of the main positives applauded by the critics and the audience in the prequel.

Furthermore, I'm happy to see director Stefano Sollima maintaining or even elevating the franchise's gruesome tone and the ghastly vibe as they're quite a few terrorizing scenes which are agonizing and not at all entertaining to watch. But, the magic that Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins created in the first film is certainly missing, the scenes from the border or in the tunnel from the climax were one of the most intense and skillfully shot and directed sequences in recent history and sadly Sollima dropped the ball when it comes to delivering those high-intense prospects.

As far as the characters, Benicio del Toro is once again on top of his game, the way that he carried his demeanor is profound as he shaped his character as likable even though he continues to do awful stuff. Josh Brolin's character had so much more to explore in this film with a significantly more range and parts to deal with.

Overall, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is an engaging and a spine-tingling thriller in all respects and the best part is I can still remember or can recall everything in the film, therefore, it is also memorable. It had a few pacing issues and lacked the intensity as nothing can top the masterpiece which is the first film. Nevertheless, Soldado is still a solid movie to watch with low expectations.

My Rating - 3.25/5 | Grade - B (Entertaining! With Few Noticeable Flaws)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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