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Bohemian Rhapsody - Honest Movie Review

Celebrating the life of Rock's Greatest All-Time Entertainers, Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the inspiring yet involute life story of Queen's lead singer Farrokh Bulsara, professional known as Freddie Mercury. The film stars Emmy Award-winning Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek in the lead role and co-stars Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello as the supporting cast with Bryan Singer as the spearheader of this prestigious project.

Verdict - "A Celebration!"

The movie commences by introducing us to Freddie's initial working days as a baggage handler at the Heathrow Airport and builds up by narrating his first taste with the band to selling out arenas throughout different cultures and countries to his emotional and distancing complications with his band, friends and loved ones. 

Nailing all the right notes essential for a typical biopic, the movie, by and large, serves more like a Greatest Hits Collection of Mercury rather than a comprehensive in-depth look of his arduous journey to preeminence and beyond. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten offers a storyline which is, on the whole, paint-by-numbers and predictable from start to finish. Contrary to that, if you contemplate this movie as a celebration rather than a detailed observation, these criticisms might surface as a nonsensical argument.

But, the positives overweighs the negatives, as the rocking Oscar-worthy performance of Rami Malek and the overall journey of Mercury is engaging enough to keep you glued to the silver screen. Coming from a conservative family in Zanzibar, Mercury inspired generations of artists and millions of fans worldwide with his talent, music, charisma and flamboyant persona. However, although moving forward on a straight line shorn of any abstract deviations, the film did a decent job unveiling the man behind-the-mask, Farrokh Bulsara. His intentions were pure, but the ignorant decisions he made from time to time labelled him as controversial or hardhearted and distanced him from his friends and family perpetually. The movie discusses every aspect of love and emotions, highs and lows, success and failure, and Malek triumphs every hurdle with ease by making his exemplary character likeable, relatable and above all the focal part of the entire movie.

Adding to the celebration aspect, similar to its awards season counterpart, 'A Star Is Born', this movie had that concert-like-feel especially the glorious, breathtaking climax which will make you clap, cheer, and absorb that unreal musical experience to the fullest. 

Overall, Bohemian Rhapsody is not perfect considering the screenwriting issues, but, it is, in fact, a virtuous display of Freddie Mercury and his extraordinary life. This is more than just a movie it's a Celebration!

Rating - 3.5/5 | Grade - B+

-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "A Visual Treat!"

Being one of the most anticipated films of the year, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald pleases the followers and surprises the muggles by acting more like a channel for the development of the story rather than independently being one. With highly renowned actors in the cast, the performances are enticing to watch and the visual effects and cinematography, enchanting!

Jude Law playing Albus Dumbledore maintains the poise as well as the playfulness of the beloved character, and Johnny Depp is flawless as usual. Eddie Redmayne connects Newt to the audience much more effectively than the previous movie while Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol manage to cheer the audience between intense scenes. The most impressive and fulfilling part of the film is Ezra Miller and Zoe Kravitz who were successful in giving impeccable and acute performances which were important because of the anticipation of their characters from the books.

The story picks up right from the beginning with grand escapades and entrances but towards the climax leaves you confused much like in the later Harry Potter movies. A few expected characters like Nagini (Claudia Kim), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) are given less screen time and also Grindelwald resembles The Dark Lord a lot which is why it is hard to acknowledge his unique personality.

Enclosing I'd like to say that David Yates has done yet another spectacular job making this movie a visual treat and for JK Rowling, well, I have only one thing to say - the brightest writer of her age!

Rating - 4.5/5 | Grade - A+

-A Just Stream Editorial by Nikitha Kashyap aka WW
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Taxiwaala - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

Horror comedies seem to be the flavor of the season. After the recent stupendous success of ‘Stree’ in Hindi, director Rahul Sankrityan brings us a Telugu comedy thriller, Taxiwaala, starring Vijay Devarakonda in the lead. Just to jog your minds a bit, this genre has largely been successful in the Telugu Film Industry, though the movies have been rather sporadic. Most recently, notable movies in this genre were the 'Raju Gari Gadhi' series and 'Anando Brahma'. Taxiwaala, with a supernatural plot, falls in the same category, yet, is different in some ways.

Shiva (played by Vijay Devarakonda) moves to his uncle’s (played by Madhunandan) garage in Hyderabad, to earn a living. After dabbling at odd jobs, he buys an old Contessa car to turn into an Ola driver. Dressed in leather jackets and ganjees that flaunt his toned body, Shiva starts earning while also making a pretty doctor, Anu (played by Priyanka Jawalkar) fall for him. His life with his uncle and his English movie fanatic help, Hollywood (played by Vishnu) is turned upside down, when he experiences paranormal occurrences in his car. This leads to series of thrills, chills and a whole lot of laughter!

While I began discussing Taxiwaala in the same light as 'Anando Brahma' and 'Raju Gari Gadhi', it is similar in genre yet different in treatment. The movie has a very real, plain and quirky treatment of camera (by Sujith Sarang) and sound – reminiscent of one of the first Telugu movies in this genre, the 2005 sleeper-hit, 'Anukokunda Oka Roju'. Like 'Anukokunda Oka Roju', there are no cheap thrills or jarring background scores. Most of the thrills and laughs are induced organically, using the camera angles, lights and the performances. The movie is filled with little moments of laughter – band-aids on all their fingers for a hilariously stupid occult experiment, Shiva’s naïve ‘thanks’ to the ‘ghost’ in his car for steering it while he fell asleep or Hollywood (the boy who works for them) fidgeting with a bottle in the middle of a serious scene in the Hospital. It is such moments that bring this movie alive.

The movie also reminded me of the 2004 Hindi-disaster, 'Tarzan: The Wonder Car', where a car turns rogue with Ajay Devgn’s spirit trapped in it and seeks revenge. While the premise and the treatment are interesting, it is the execution where the movie slightly falters. The writing by Rahul Sankrityan takes time to set the base and the ride is pretty much fun after that. Well, almost. Until, there is a slight slump in the narrative in the second half, where the explanation of the paranormal activity takes centerstage. Even though it has a crisp run-time of a little over two hours, the second half seems a bit of drag, especially towards the climax, sprinkled generously with trademark Telugu masala.

Having said that, the movie is still an enjoyable ride thanks to the witty dialogues and superb performances. Vijay Devarakonda has already proven his mettle and he does not disappoint here either. While his swag, rugged look and clothes off a runway model seem a bit contrived for a cabbie, he uses his charm and wit to make the viewers overlook it. Another contrived sub-plot happens to be his love story with a doctor, which also seems highly unlikely in real life. Since this love plot is cleverly shown very little, it does not take away from the main premise. Vijay’s comic timing and acting chops are further elevated by his Babai, played by Madhunandan and Hollywood, played by Vishnu. These are not mere sidekicks, but very well woven into the plot. The camaraderie between the three is fun to watch. One of the funniest moments is the sequence where the three stealthily break into someone’s home. Like Laya in 'Amar Akbar Anthony', another actress makes a comeback this week – Kalyani. Along with another yesteryear actress, Yamuna, Kalyani gets an extended cameo and delivers whatever is expected of her. Malavika Nair is decent in her small part in the second half, when the supernatural part is explained.

While there are a few irregularities and hiccups in the second half, the movie manages to keep you entertained with its thrills and humor. If nothing else, Vijay Devarakonda’s rugged charm is enough to stay invested till the end.

Rating - 3/5 | Grade - B

-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

Amar Akbar Anthony - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

Director Srinu Vaitla’s latest release, Amar Akbar Anthony, is an opportunity completely wasted. He uses his tried and tested template – a hero running the show, surrounded by a bunch of comedians and fighting against a gang of shrewd villains. Despite using all his formulaic tropes, the film is an incohesive drag, that tries every trick in the trade, yet, falls short of hitting the mark.

Verdict - "An Incohesive Drag!"

Amar Akbar Anthony (played by Ravi Teja), much like their Hindi namesakes, are three characters from three major religions. Amar, a Hindu, is the son of a pharmaceutical baron, who is destined to marry the daughter of his father’s business partner, Aishwarya (played by Ileana). The love birds are separated in their childhood by the four suave looking antagonists, who take over his father’s business. Akbar, a Muslim, speaks Urdu-laden Telugu, and is a Robinhood in New York – cheating the cheaters. Anthony, a Christian and thankfully the last one of these wretched characters, is a congenial and smiling psychiatrist. Just like any other Srinu Vaitla movie, the protagonists go against the treacherous antagonists, while being surrounded by a bunch of comedians, headlined by Sunil and Vennela Kishore.

The problem begins in the first 20 minutes itself, when the narrative feels like two different movies. The comedy track at ‘Whole Andhra and Telangana Association (WATA)’ seems completely unrelated to the parallel track involving the conniving villains, all of who look way better than Ravi Teja in their salt-and-pepper looks. Ignoring the logics (or the lack of it), Srinu Vaitla’s movies have always been madcap comedies, which keep the audiences entertained throughout. This is where Amar Akbar Anthony fails miserably. While the comedy does evoke a few laughs, it remains underwhelming in comparison to his previous works in Ready, Dookudu, Dhee or King (actually, any movie before Aagadu)! Also, the insipid dialogues feel nauseating. Sample this – one of the antagonists says, “Not to expect badness from bad people is madness”, which is quickly translated into Telugu by his partner in crime, “Chaddavadi degara chaddatanam expect cheyakapovadam pichhitanam’! It’s almost 2019 and its high time we are spared of such nonsensical dialogues.

One of my major contentions was Ravi Teja’s mysterious demeanor and performance. For the longest time in the beginning, he makes you wonder if he is playing a blind character again, after Raja- The Great. He stares into oblivion, keeps a straight face for most part of his performance and surprisingly, barely does he emote! (If this frozen face and staring gaze is due to a medical condition in his real life, my apologies!) Even his impeccable comic timing, which is usually on point, is faltering in this movie. He comes across as an uncomfortable hero amid a chaotic narrative. Ileana, making her comeback to Telugu movies, looks healthier than before and has dubbed for herself for the first time. This is all one can say about her, because that is all that she brings to the table. I wish we saw the sparks that were there between the two in Kick, but even that ends in a disappointment here.

Giving credit where its due, the cinematography and the casting of actors for comic relief were pretty good. Venkat C Dileep captures New York in all its glory and makes the frames comes alive. The supporting cast, especially Vennela Kishore as the comedian and Abhimanyu Singh as the conniving cop, are quite good. There are moments of hilarity, especially the sequences involving a religious leader, Junior Paul. Sunil, who appears pretty late in the movie, misses his charm but manages to be decent. It was surprising to see Laya in a movie after a long time, and equally shocking to see her get a completely inconsequential and small part. Again, another opportunity wasted.  

We have seen psychological angles being used in movies like Aparichitudu and Chandramukhi, but it feels like a quick fix in this movie, without adding much to the plot or the narrative. Srinu Vaitla seems to be stuck in the early 2000s, and he needs to evolve with the changing audiences. If he doesn’t, he is not going to find many takers again.

Rating – 1.5/5 | Grade - D+

-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

Thugs of Hindostan - Honest Movie Review

Directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, YRF's latest 300 crore outing Thugs of Hindostan, continues the Bollywood's moneymaking tradition of producing grand-epic films once or maybe twice a year. Consistency doesn't seem a concerning factor here, as the audience will, by and large, feel tickled when they're affectionately served with flamboyant trailers, multiword genre, prolific star cast, extensive social media marketing and a sexy Katrina Kaif who seem to have a problem putting on extra clothes.

Verdict - "Boring! Disappointing! Frustrating!"

Set in the late 1700s, the film's storyline follows the reign of John Clive (Lloyd Owen), a generic, cold-blooded and an easily manipulated English Officer, who is slowly but conventionally, capturing Indian Territories one after the other. Soon after Clive executes and captures her turf, a young Zafira takes off with Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) and his eagle buddy before getting caught. Eleven years later, now an adolescent highly-skilled archer and a bungee jumping expert Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh) plots for revenge against Clive alongside her old-grimy sword-fighting specialist (Bachchan Saab), now hailed as Azaad.

In simple words, we can contemplate Thugs of Hindostan (The Film) as a battleship, struck by lightning, dynamited by other adversary warships and submerged underwater in a sea of blood-soaked negatives. So, let's pick apart the drawbacks of the film one by one. The plot, which, as expected, is predictable for the most part and is a perfect blend between 'Point Break (1991)', 'Pirates of the Carribean' and a million other movies you've already seen before. But, that's not the worst part. Vijay Krishna Acharya as a writer/storyteller failed twice before (with 'Tashan' and 'Dhoom 3') and dropped the ball once again with TOH. Similar to Remo D'Souza, the guy can shoot a bombastic scene which is lit, choreographed and produced nicely, but, the seamless transition and the crisscrossing of the storyline between these theatrical episodes was utterly non-existent. It honestly felt like a bunch of ridiculousness knit together with the intention of making an entertaining movie.

Marketed as an Action/Adventure/Drama, this film is overbrimmed to the fullest extent with action sequences, so much to a point where you can pause every five seconds of the movie, take a screengrab and put it on a billboard, and that's a compliment! As I said earlier, the composition and choreography behind each shot, especially the battle scenes, were proficient enough to watch them on a big screen. But, unlike Tollywood's magnum opus 'Baahubali', the combat scenes had no creative thinking or artistic imagination behind them and just felt like a myriad of sword fights with distinct knife-edged metal on metal sounds.

The characters and the performances serve as another disadvantage to the film. Aamir Khan's character Firangi Mallah felt like less charismatic and a not-so-funny rip-off of Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Carribean. Amitabh Bachchan and his stunt double deserve appreciation for taking the physical risk in most cases but were thwarted by a generic heroic character. Fatima Sana Shaikh, who for the most part, designated to intense standoffs, had very little to speak and was wasted despite having an interesting story arc. Katrina Kaif, on the other hand, was treated like a sensuous ghost of the film, who only appears to provide "entertainment" with her commendable dancing skills, a glittery attire, and a total screen time of fewer than fifteen minutes. That's about it!

Overall, exaggerated with mammoth expectations, a year-long hype and TV spots on every other channel, Thugs of Hindostan is a perfect example and display of why you shouldn't hop on the 'Baahubali' bandwagon with a terrible script and a lousy storyteller like Vijay Krishna Acharya. This movie is a disappointment and will, no doubt, contend with 'Race 3' for the #1 spot, not the best but, for the worst.

Rating - 1.5/5 | Grade - D+

-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Sarkar - Honest Movie Review

To all you neutral fans and general audiences, expecting a ‘Thuppaki’ or ‘Kaththi’ from this blockbuster combo of Vijay-A.R. Murugadoss, I’m sorry to say that Sarkar might disappoint you. Pre-release problems are no alien to Vijay and his films, yet a problem occurred this time in form of an assistant director Varun Rajendran complaining against A.R.Murugadoss for plagiarism. After some sordid fights and moving to court, Murugadoss agreed for compensation and the movie had a 30-second slide thanking the assistant director.

Verdict - “A Huge Letdown!”

The storyline of Sarkar is about a wealthy CEO, Sundar Ramasamy nicknamed as ‘Corporate Monster’ returning to Chennai to cast his vote for Tamilnadu legislative assembly election, only to find that someone has already cast his vote. Disappointed by this felonious act he decides to fight back the corrupt politician Masilamani (Karuppaiah) and his political party. 

Okay, with that being the plot of the movie, I wondered why they went till High Court for such a simple and predictable story. They could have easily settled the matter among themselves. With so much pre-release hype created, I expected something different from A.R.Murugadoss but comparing  Sarkar with his previous two films starring Vijay, this is dull, dreary and an inferior piece of work.

I appreciate ARM for throwing light on a lesser know Indian Law, Section 49P in The Conduct of Elections Rules and educating the people about their Right to Vote. For me the problem was with the screenplay, I don’t know why but I couldn’t connect with the movie and the scenes, they lacked a punch and didn’t create much impact on me. I would also blame ‘Thalapathy’ Vijay for it, as he performed his role insufficiently. 

Remember the 'Kaththi' or 'Mersal' climax, where Vijay boldly criticizes the ruling government through his thought-provoking speech? That spark is long gone and he has gone back to the days of ‘Vettaikaran’. He has overdone certain scenes, with a lot of enthusiasm that it couldn’t register on the audience because of his displeasing expressions and body language. Also, the movie tried to parody the ruling government of Tamilnadu, as certain scenes could be related to some major political event that had happened. Even with that, they have failed unlike Director Anand Shankar’s ‘NOTA’ where he satirizes the Government with his well-written screenplay.

It is better to avoid a female lead right than just making them stand like a junior artist next to a hero. It was pathetic to watch Keerthy Suresh being wasted as her total screen time including a not-so-needed song was less than 10 minutes. Being a Rahmaniac, I felt A.R.Rahman’s songs and background score with Qutub-E-Kripa was mediocre. 

Without further whining, I would like to conclude by saying that ‘Thalapathy’ Vijay has started his political journey and Sarkar serves as the platform for it. Had A.R.Murugadoss worked more on the script, finely tuned it in a proper way and Vijay not overplayed his role, they could have repeated their magic.

Rating – 2.5/5 | Grade – C+

-An Honest Movie Review by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

Namaste England - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

Director Vipul Shah’s second offering in the ‘Namaste’ franchise, Namaste England, is a baffling example of reputed names coming together to create an extremely insipid and nauseating fare. Writer Ritesh Shah, who has written movies like 'Pink', 'Chef' and 'Raid', has co-written this incoherent and disjoined story of Punjab flying to London. Casting director Honey Trehan, whose previous work boasts of casting strong ensembles in movies like 'Kaminey', 'Fukrey' and 'Talvar', casts the most disinterested bunch of actors who make Arjun Kapoor’s performance seem Oscar worthy! Even director Vipul Shah’s passable filmography highlights his not so great skills, but some of his previous movies were bearable thanks to its leading cast. Sadly, even they let him down here.

An ambitious Punjabi girl, Jasmeet (played by Parineeti Chopra), aspires to be a jewelry designer but is oppressed by her patriarchal family. She uses her bunch of friends and boyfriend, Param (played by Arjun Kapoor), to get out of her house and work. Upon finding of their daughter’s deceit, they decide to get her married to Param. Due to the ridiculous turn of events, she convinces Param to relocate to London (though she could have relocated to Delhi, Chennai or Timbuktu and it would have made no difference). Now, do not even try looking for logic here because there isn’t any. So, due to yet another ridiculous subplot, Param cannot get a visa and hence, a desperate Jasmeet leaves him and flies to London. Just when you think good riddance, the makers remind you that you are just halfway through this excruciating emotionless saga.

Their lack of conviction or common sense is evidently visible in almost every sequence. Param and Jasmeet exchange besotted looks from Dussera to Diwali to Holi, but Param says, ’Punjab mein pyaar toh doosro ki shaadiyo mein hi hota hai’. So, out of the blue, there is a wedding. How? Don’t ask! A rich, elite, supposed seductress meets a ‘Gabru Punjabi Munda’ and decides the next minute to marry him. How? Don’t ask! A guy sharing a dingy shanty in London and shown to be living in the bathroom there, steps out in perfectly gelled hair and tuxedos, sweeping rich girls off their feet. How? Don’t even ask!! The makers seem to have answered all these with just one phrase – Who cares?! Vipul Shah repeats the same tropes from 'Namaste London' – a smart girl, a lovelorn naïve guy, a patriotic monologue in London and a sad song by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan! But, his poor directorial skills in 'Namaste London' were overshadowed by good performances by the ensemble, especially Katrina Kaif. It remains Katrina Kaif’s only memorable performance as an actor and reprising the same Jasmeet, Parineeti Chopra makes this a poor caricature. While Katrina’s Jasmeet was flawed and shrewd, she still evoked some empathy and connect. Parineeti makes a shoddy caricature of Jasmeet, with a below average performance and awful dialogue delivery in emotional scenes. It is probably her worst performance till date.

Arjun Kapoor does not have a great filmography to boast of, and he adds yet another poorly acted role to the list. Akshay Kumar had a naughty and lustful swag to his character in Namaste London. Here, Arjun repeatedly says ‘Tumhe dekhke mere dil mein aisi aisi feelings aa rahi hai ki kuch ho jaega’ and you still find it hard to believe. The love story between the leads is so poorly developed in the first 10 minutes of the movie, that the audiences do not connect with them at all. There is no sympathy evoked for his difficult journey to London, travelling through half the world. As I mentioned earlier, the rest of the cast is a bunch of novices who have no weight in their characters nor have any acting chops. Aditya Seal and Dijana Dejanovic as the lead’s partners in London look good but get poorly written characters with no scope to perform. As if the main plot was not tiring enough, there are useless subplots talking about illegal immigrants, dark side of patriarchy and over-the-top nationalism – none of them required in the central story line!

A movie that lacks a tight script, good dialogues, abled craft of filmmaking and captivating performances deserves not to be rated at all. At a time when small budget movies are pushing the boundaries with innovative content, this is a major let down. With nothing really working in the movie, except may be the clothes that the leads wear, I do not think it deserves anything on a scale of 1 to 5.

My Rating – 0/5 | Grade - B+ (A Disaster Piece!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

Badhaai Ho - Honest Movie Review

[This Movie Review was first posted on Anurag's The Filmy Basti]

You know you are in for a good ride when a movie opens in a middle-class household, with a bickering mother-in-law and subtle humor over daily household chores. In ‘Badhaai Ho’, debutante director Amit Ravindernath Sharma and his writers Shantanu Srivastava, Akshat Ghildial and Jyoti Kapoor create a funny and believable canvas filled with real characters that are stuck in a supposedly embarrassing, yet hilarious situation – when the middle-aged couple of the family get pregnant!

Verdict - "A Delectable Fare!"

A young boy from a middle-class family, Nakul Kaushik (played by Ayushmann Khurrana), has a perfect life. A doting family, an understanding girlfriend and a high-flying career. His life seemingly crumbles down when he discovers his middle-aged parents (played by Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta) are expecting a child, 25 years after he was born! What ensues is hilarious ride of children feeling contempt for their parents and the society adding insult to injury. Adding to their woes is the matriarch of the family, Dadi (played by Surekha Sikri), whose taunts leave you in splits. His colleague and girlfriend, Renee (played by Sanya Malhotra) bears the brunt of this commotion and so does her elite IAS mother (played by Sheeba Chaddha).

Firstly, full points to the art director and costume designers for authentically setting up a typical middle-class household, replete with women of the neighborhood bonding over Tambola after a Satsang, crockery neatly stacked in a glass cupboard and the drawing room doubling up as the room for the granny in the house. The makers do not take time in setting up the theme and quickly get to the point, which reflects in the crisp runtime of the movie as well. Director Amit Sharma beautifully exploits his cinematographer, Sanu Varghese, to create frames that come alive on screen. The congested and tiny house becomes the vibrant epicenter of this hysterical entertainer, only because of the brilliant shots. These frames are further lifted by the witty writing by Akshat Ghildial, where humour is mostly understated. Some of the best examples of the brilliant writing are the hilarious scenes where an awkward Gajraj Rao breaks the news at home and the one where Dadi, played stupendously by Surekha Sikri, rebukes her daughter and elder daughter-in-law at a wedding. Also, it was good to see an organic progression of the story, sans major melodrama. The taboo surrounding an elderly couple conceiving a child, despite having a son of marriageable age, is normalized delicately without being over the top.

As is the case with any such content-driven movies, it is the actors who bring these character to life! Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta are perfectly cast as the embarrassed couple, never letting their characters slip into farcical shame. Ayushmann Khurrana, who has become a flagbearer of sorts for this kind of cinema, is in top form and uses his charm and comic timing in equal measures. Supporting him well in a relatively smaller part is Sanya Malhotra and her mother, Sheeba Chaddha, who provide ample support to the narrative. Surekha Sikri as Dadi, is hilarious and one of the most endearing characters for a granny written in Hindi cinema in recent times. Also, it was fun to watch all the characters speak in chaste western UP dialect, adding another dimension to their characters.

Over the last few years, content-driven stories from the small towns or inspired by the middle-class folks have fancied filmmakers in Bollywood. Badhaai Ho takes a similar route as ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ and picks a taboo topic. With a similar plot as Steve Martin’s 1995 comedy, ‘Father of the Bride 2’, Badhaai Ho uses a topic perceived as embarrassing and injects comedy in right measures, to create a delectable fare.

My Rating – 3.5/5 | Grade - B+ (A Perefect Weekend Pick!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Anurag Rao (@The Filmy Basti!)

Vada Chennai - Honest Movie Review

‘Jeikurom’o Illaiyo...Modhala Sanda Seiyanum!’ opines Anbu when he earns the enmity of other gangsters. Vada Chennai is the result when you bring together two National Award Winners for a film once again. It is intense, rugged and sticks true to its nature. Vada Chennai is the tale of two gangsters Guna (Samuthirakani) and Senthil (Kishore) who run their illegal business along the coastal line area of North Chennai and how the life of Anbu (Dhanush) interweaves with theirs in such a manner as not to be easily separated. 

Verdict - “Raw! Gritty! Authentic!

Now, the story isn’t completely about Anbu and his life with the gangsters. Instead, the character of Dhanush is entangled into the main plot and it is not a hero-centric film as the story and the other characters play a pivotal role. Vetrimaaran, who is known for his screenplay and also won a National Award had composed the film with much competence as the characters are neatly sketched and every scene was crucial in building the movie. I loved the way the story took time to construct itself onscreen, running on its own pace and most importantly there isn’t any mind-numbing ridiculous songs or clichéd romantic scenes to disrupt the flow. The narrative of the film was in such a way that if something happens on screen, like a murder, it was explained later on in the film without a plot hole. So, there is a steady search for answers for the audience as they weren’t foreseeable. 

The cast of the film was a perfect selection, be it Samuthirakani or Kishore or Daniel Balaji, Vetrimaran has roped in the ‘Best’ for the movie. Andrea Jeremiah unsurprisingly steals the show, yet another vital character and she's impressive as always. The impact she created when uttering the dialogue ‘Enna Patha Thevdiya Mari Iruka?’ is enormous. But, the stand out characters for me was Rajan played by the ace-director Ameer. His character had an emotional narrative which was very interesting to watch.

On an interesting note, I found a similarity and contrast in concept between Vada Chennai and Pa. Ranjith’s ‘Kaala’. First, let me tell you about the similarity, which was, both the films are primarily or basically is about the discrimination of downtrodden and the politicians’ aim of removing them from their own place. Kaala Seth (Rajni) from Kaala and Rajan (Ameer) from Vada Chennai voices for the people, stand against the government and fight for their rights. The contrast in concept which I mentioned is the way both characters fight for their land. What Kaala said that the people from slums are not what Vada Chennai is. Maybe, the timeline in which both movies are set in might answer the contrariness. 

Vetrimaaran seems to not compromise in anything for making the film utterly realistic. They even went for ‘Adults Only’ certification from the censor board without muting the unparliamentary words which was a bold attempt cause that made the film more native. Another pillar to the already astonishing film was Santhosh Narayanan (SaNa) and his pulsating background score. As I mentioned earlier, there weren't dance numbers or a hero introduction song which films of this genre generally tend to have. Instead, the songs blended well with the scenes. SaNa did know when to use the background score, thereby elevating the film on a tremendous level. 

A movie without a flaw? I would dare to say, Vada Chennai is undoubtedly the best movie of 2018. All the fans of ‘Pudhupettai’, who were asking for its sequel, Dhanush is back again but as Anbu. Congregated with a gripping narrative, intriguing characters, impressive performances and overall some masterful storytelling this movie is Cinematic Brilliance.

My Rating – 4.5/5 | Grade – A+ (Don’t Dare to Miss It!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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A Star Is Born - Honest Movie Review

Directed and starring alongside Pop Megastar Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper's directorial debut A Star Is Born is a modern-day retelling of the 1937 film of the same name and co-stars notable and elite performers like Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay alongside a promising young talent Anthony Ramos.

Verdict - "A Beautiful and a Tear-Jerking Story!"

The story of the film narrates the journey of Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a beloved superstar singer but a reckless alcoholic and a drug addict. Maine runs across Ally (Lady Gaga), a day job worker and a discouraged singer, at a drag bar where he sees her perform and fells in love with her incredible singing talent. After exchanging a conversation with her in person, Maine recruits her into his band, and eventually, Ally receives multiple offers to record her first album and experiences success across every aspect. In the midst of her glory and fame, Jackson, on the other hand, deteriorates from raging alcoholism which affects their healthy relationship romantically and professionally.

Having already been told three times before in 1937, 54 and 76, the story of this A Star Is Born is, for the most part, predictable, but Cooper along with his co-screenwriters Eric Roth and Will Fetters does a decent enough job to keep the movie fresh and captivating. But, at times, the plot tries to wane in the background, thanks to the electrifying chemistry between the two main leads. And that brings me to the primary and the most intriguing aspect of the film, the alluring scenes between Cooper and Gaga. The movie never tries to fortake anything away from both the characters as their lengthy yet very compelling moments of love, anger and affection are what makes it feel poignant and very much sentimental.

Now, making the characters relatable is a task, but Cooper takes it up a notch by making his hard to connect dipsomaniac character engaging. His role felt authentic and pitiful, everything from his deep-toned voice, messy look to his wrinkled clothes made me feel sorry for the man, and Cooper gives his career-best performance as a disgruntled dwindling rockstar. Accompanied by his stellar acting display is Lady Gaga who gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the innocent yet supremely-talented singer, caring girlfriend and overall an inspiring individual. As a real-life singer/songwriter (who might have a similar path to stardom as Ally), Gaga impresses not only with her astounding singing talent but also with her phenomenal acting ability which surprised everybody in the audience. She gives an equally valiant performance as Cooper and will no doubt be a frontrunner for the Best Actress category.

Furthermore, Bradley Cooper, who fills five different roles in the film as the actor, director, screenwriter, guitarist and singer, does a heroic job by putting together a movie with marvellous skill and perfection. Crafting subtle changes to an already told story, Cooper made it seem all seamless by making the film follow a consistent tone throughout its runtime. Moreover, the music and the songs all through were breathtaking to watch and listen as it felt like I'm sitting in a concert with Gaga and Cooper, kudos to the sound mixing department there.

Overall, A Star Is Born tells a beautiful and a tear-jerking story of a polar opposite couple in the most convincing way possible. The chemistry and the scenes between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were the most riveting parts of the film along with their dominating performances. I teared up a couple of times watching this movie, and that doesn't happen very often.

My Rating - 3.75/5 | Grade - B+ (Highly Entertaining!)
-An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
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