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Blog posts : "radhika apte"

Andhadhun - Honest Movie Review

[This review was first posted on Anurag's 'The Filmy Basti' Blog]

One of the least touched genres in Indian cinema has been dark comedy. With the evolving tastes of the audience, over the last few years there have been some experiments in this genre, starting with 'Delhi Belly' in 2011. Seven years later, there seems to be a worthy successor in Sriram Raghavan’s dark comedy, Andhadhun.

To sum it up without any spoilers, Andhadhun captures the intertwined lives of a struggling blind pianist, Akash (played by Ayushmann khurrana) and the wife of an aging superstar, Simi Sinha (played by Tabu). A series of unforeseen events unfold, comprising of a couple of murders, deceit and hilarious double-crossing of each other! The narrative is further enhanced by the vibrant supporting cast -  highlighted by a super-cop, Inspector Mahendra (played by Manav Vij), investigating the murders with his own ulterior motives. A bright and young restauranteur, Sofie (played by Radhika Apte), who not only hosts Akash’s gigs at her restaurant but also develops a liking for him. Then there are other quirky members of the cast who stand out in their small roles – a self-obsessed aging superstar, Pramod Sinha (played by Anil Dhawan), the super-cop’s wife who takes pride in her husband eating ’16 ande’, an over-smart kid who keeps a suspicious eye on Akash, a lottery-ticket seller Maushi and her auto-rickshaw driver brother, Murali. Giving away any other link would mean – SPOILERS!

Director Sriram Raghavan, along with his bunch of writers, creates a music filled narrative, that is not dark and gloomy – a trope used frequently in stereotypical dark comedies. I was reminded of last month’s Tamil comic thriller, Kolamavu Kokila (KoKo), which had a similar layering of comedy with the right amounts of thrills. Much like Koko, Andhadhun works for its brilliant dialogues by Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti and Yogesh Chanderkar. The characters get real lines, filled with wry and subtle humor. Unquestionably, Tabu gets some of the best dialogues and scenes, as the multi-layered star-wife Simi, who is trying to find her own way to stardom. In a recent interview, Tabu spoke about her 10 best-performances till date and this one is easily the eleventh one on the list. She gets to display a variety of emotions from a manipulative wife to a heart-broken victim of her circumstances. The writers do not let her layers come off easily, making her the fire-cracking mystery throughout the movie. Every time you think you have figured her out, she does something whacky in the next scene. Oh boy, only an actor of Tabu’s caliber can pull this role off. She is brilliant!

Matching her strong performance is Ayushmann Khurrana, as a blind pianist present at the wrong place at the wrong time. He keeps his ‘blind-act’ understated and displays the vulnerabilities of a visually challenged man with aplomb. His scenes with Simi are pure fun, especially the one where Simi visits him at his home. Also, whether he is blind or not (which is evidently questioned in the trailer as well), is a device the writers cleverly use multiple times to take the story forward and add humor to it. Manav Vij as Inspector Mahendra is funny as the super cop scared of his overbearing wife, played by Ashwini Kalshekar in a small, yet hilarious role. Radhika Apte gets a less meaty role, but thankfully gets rid of her meme-worthy worried and forlorn look. She is chirpy and adds to the chaos. The casting director deserves due credits for picking up the rest of the actors who fit the bill perfectly in their respective characters. Also, Amit Trivedi’s music is praiseworthy for adding to the drama and thrills. He extensively uses chords and piano, sometimes become a bit too long, but delivers musical pieces according to the mood of the scene. After Manmarziyaan, another well composed soundtrack by him.

The movie is not completely without flaws. While it keeps you invested, the pace could have been a bit faster. The choice of using long shots and a few long-drawn sequences could have resulted in the movie seem a little taxing, especially in the first half. Thankfully, the second half sees a much faster and twists-filled narrative, that pulls you back into the game.

Like most movies of its genre, Andhadhun may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But the dry humor, engaging screenplay, superlative performances and a delightful Tabu deserve your two hours this weekend!

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

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GHOUL Review: Reinventing the Genre!

Starring – Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul
Director – Patrick Graham
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Coming off the terrific success of 'Sacred Games', Netflix's latest original GHOUL starring Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul in the lead roles is marketed as a horror/thriller and is jointly produced by Phantom Films, Blumhouse Productions and Ivanhoe Pictures coupled with Patrick Graham serving as the director for the entire three-episode mini-series.

The narrative takes place in the bleak dystopian future where the country is bludgeoned by sectarian violence and with military personnel executing and arresting anyone who is attached with anti-national undertakings. On the other hand, Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) who is still going through her military training, was applauded when she herself exposes her father's anti-national activities and gets promoted as an interrogative officer under Sunil Dacunha (Manav Kaul) at Meghdoot 31 (Advanced Interrogation Centre). Her first task is to put the screws to Ali Saeed (Mahesh Balraj), an alarming and also a most wanted terrorist who is responsible for multiple bomb-blasts and religious wars. However!?

Rationalization: Now, after watching the trailers and the promos, if you're going into this series expecting to get scared, you might get disappointed. Cause GHOUL, for the most part, deals with various subjects of bigotry, false patriotism, racism and cues in elements of horror to spice up the subject. The trailers were misleading, but I can find many similarities between this mini-series and Jordan Peele's Oscar-Winning film 'Get Out', which expertly alluded to few debatable subjects by adding a horror element to it.

Furthermore, GHOUL also impresses with its dystopian setup, director Patrick Graham's perspective of the 'near future' as the diplomatic world filled with war, terrorism and authoritarianism is profoundly unique and unlike anything, I've seen on Indian television. The gloomy composition sets up the vibe perfectly for this political / horror centred miniseries and Jay Oza's cinematography complemented the narrative adequately.

Unlike her previous two Netflix Originals ('Sacred Games' and 'Lust Stories') Radhika Apte's predominant protagonist role worked really well as her character had depth, emotion and was sympathetic much like Emily Blunt's character in 'Sicario'. Once again, Apte was fantastic when it comes to her portrayal and is the right fit as the standard-bearer for the show.

Conclusion: Overall, GHOUL is not your conventional horror thriller crowded with jump-scares and meaningless jolts, it reinvents the genre and tells a significant story enmeshed to Modern Day India. And similar to last year's 'Get Out' (from Blumhouse Productions) it ensured to channel the message effectively, and is a fabulously made mini-series which is worth watching.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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TOP 5 REASONS WHY SACRED GAMES IS EXTREMELY POPULAR!

It was a rainy Thursday night here in the Capital City of India and as I'm browsing through Quora, I came across a question asking "Why has the Netflix show Sacred Games suddenly become so popular? What is so good about it?" And after I completed answering the question, I thought maybe I can brighten the answer a bit and turn into a Top 5 Editorial for all you guys.

If you already had a look at my Review for Sacred Games, you'll very well know that I enjoyed the series incredibly and unsurprisingly it was very well received by the audience and the critics all across India and is also the hot topic all across the interwebs. So, let me explain in a five-point format about how a movie or a TV series (like Sacred Games) will become popular before the release and will maintain it’s popularity even after it’s release.

Reason #1: The Cast | (Before the Release)

Before the release or even before the début of any promotional material, the initial reason why people got excited about Sacred Games is primarily that of popular Movie Actors like Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Radhika Apte acting in a television series. Don't get me wrong, shows like Inside Edge and Breathe (Amazon Prime) had a star-studded cast, but, Sacred Games roped in few of the biggest names in Bollywood and immediately had everyone’s curiosity.

Reason #2: The Directors | (Before the Release)

Directors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane are popular for their independent content and were highly acclaimed for their work in the past which includes Gangs of Wasseypur, Udaan, and Trapped. Therefore, people certainly had their hopes high expecting something unique, authentic and unorthodox from these filmmakers.

Reason #3: Trailers, Promos, Marketing & Netflix | (Before the Release)

Then the trailers got released and people started spreading love and excitement all over the internet and simultaneously Netflix promoted the series in a very unique and a profound way through their social media and through billboards in urban cities. Additionally, it’s Netflix’s debut in the Indian Television Market, hence fans were automatically pumped.

Reason #4: Story, Screenplay, Direction Characters, and Performances | (After the Release)

Now, after it’s debut on July 6, 2018, the primary reason it sustained its popularity is that of the authentic and intriguing storyline, incredibly written screenplay, masterful direction, compelling characters and remarkable performances from the cast. The whole series felt like a part one of an eight-hour long movie and people started realizing that this series will only elevate the standards of our television industry which are currently drowning in a pathetic state filled with woeful family drama and absurd reality shows.

Reason #5: The Cliffhanger | (The Aftermath)

After everyone completed the series, they’re rammed with questions about the ending or certain characters and their thoughts. So, it immediately sparked a conversation on blogs like Quora and Twitter where people didn’t stop discussing, praising or complaining about the series and its ideals. Here you go, another reason about why it’s popular.

Nevertheless, Sacred Games is a prime example of how creative work should be spread, marketed and delivered to the public eye. It’s popular because of all the reasons I pointed out and is an exceptional series that no one should ever miss.

-A Top 5 List by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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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)
Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Instagram's Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Lust Stories (Netflix) - Honest Movie Review

Verdict - "Breaking Ground!"

Distributed and released by the global streaming leader Netflix, Lust Stories is an anthology film consisting of four short stories based on love, lust, honesty, status, misery, and desire. Directed by the some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Bollywood (Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar), this film breaks new ground and highlights few significant problems and complications that men and (especially) women face in their relationships and everyday life.

Let's briefly discuss the storyline of the four short films without spoiling anything. Kashyap's film starring Radhika Apte and Akash Thosar tells the story about an unusual relationship between a college teacher and a student and trades with the subject of honesty. Zoya's short cruises on the lines of class and dignity and stars Bhumi Pednekar as a housemaid and Neil Bhoopalam as an unmarried day job worker. Dibakar's movie sees Manisha Koirala having an extramarital affair with Jaideep Ahlawat and also explores her reasons for not liking her husband's behavior and attitude. Finally, Karan's film delves into the life of a newly-married couple Kiara Advani and Vicky Kaushal and emphasizes the topics of sex being one-sided, women being confined to a traditional married life and more.

What makes this movie special is the significant directive it's trying to express. We live in a fast-growing world where we often forget about basic things in life which are important. Like in Kashyap's film Radhika Apte's character expects the same amount of honesty and transparency from her friend, but she gets upset and goes paranoid when he starts to lie to her. Dignity, despair, aggravation and even Karan's film tells a substantial story about how women have the same desire as men and so on. Also, this film breaks new boundaries when it comes to talking, expressing and opening (not in a vulgar way) about sex which is still considered as a taboo in India. 

Centered around four different female protagonists, the performances from every one of them were great. Radhika Apte is the most notable one as she embodied and portrayed the psychotic part of her character tremendously. Kiara Advani is also another pleasant surprise as her character was by far the likable and relatable one among others.

Overall, Lust Stories had an imperative and a distinctive message to share in each of its four films and was also remarkably narrated and directed. Go watch this film as this is one of the many steps that Indian Cinema is taking to divert itself from the commercial genre.

My Rating - 3.5/5 | -An Honest Movie Review by Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)
Instagram Profile - @JustMovieFreaks | Twitter Profile - @JustMovieFreaks

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Pad Man - Honest Movie Review

Starring Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte in the lead roles, Pad Man is loosely based on the real-life story of Coimbatore based Social Entrepreneur Padma Shri Arunachalam Muruganantham who excelled with his innovation of affordable sanitary pads in India.

As you guys already knew about the primary storyline (I'm assuming that you've seen the trailers) of the film, let's quickly move on to the overall positives. 

First off, I should indeed admire Akshay Kumar, R. Balki, and Twinkle Khanna for producing a significant film with an influential subject which is a taboo in India. As Akshay Kumar stated, he didn't want to turn this film into a documentary but considered to make it commercial with the intention of reaching a wider audience and I honestly appreciate his reasoning.

If you've seen his earlier films, you should be familiar with Balki's work and the way he gets you emotionally invested in his characters. During the course of the film, I sometimes found myself tearing up a little and that only transpired because I'm fully rooting for the lead characters which I consider as the major plus points for the film.

As I always mumble in most of my reviews, when the characters are properly developed and were given enough character moments, we naturally root and get behind them which in turn favors the film during the emotionally impactful or climactic scenes. Furthermore, the performances should also aid the well-written characters and Akshay Kumar along with Radhika Apte was fantastic in their roles.

Akshay Kumar continues to surprise me not only with his unique choice of films but also with his magnificent character work and performance. His normal-courteous-average look made his character more relatable as he carried his innocent yet intellectual persona flawlessly. Likewise, Radhika Apte carries on to mesmerize everyone with her remarkable performance and is one of the only few actors who prefer content over masala and I should applaud her for that.

On the other side, they're a few negatives, the screenplay by R. Balki and Swanand Kirkire was sub-par which affected the pace of the film primarily in the first half that felt a bit stretched out. Also, we're well aware that 70% of the film was fictionalized and I normally don't complain when the dramatized storyline blends well with the actual storyline. But, more or less, the screenwriters fizzled out in this area when a few things happen which are easily convenient to the storyline as they're ridiculous to watch. Likewise, the sub-plot involving Sonam Kapoor's character and her addition to the film felt undercooked and uninteresting.

Overall, discounting all the negatives, Pad Man is a significant film with a strong influential message which should be articulated to everyone especially to the people living in the rural areas who still, to this day feel that menstrual cycle is something taboo. Kudos to all the producers and the crew for putting in the effort to deliver a much-needed message that will only improve our country's acumen.

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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Instant Movie Review #29 (Manjhi: The Mountain Man)

Ketan Mehta's - "Manjhi: The Mountain Man"

Positives:
1) Story 
2) Performances

Negatives:
1) Superfluous emotional drama

Introduction and Plot: Narrating an incredible real life story of  Dashrath Manjhi that recounts the struggle of a laborer from the suburbs from Gehlaur village in Bihar, who carved a path through a mountain with a hammer and a chisel for 22 years with the intention of a creating a trouble-free route from his village to the nearby town.

Analysis: First off, getting to know and learn about a diligent person with an astounding story who undoubtedly dedicated everything in his life to complete an insurmountable task was completely inspiring and fascinating.

With that being said, the biggest drawback I can point out is the unneeded emotional angle between lead actors that made the film look unreal and it lacked the pragmatic vibe. Also, few heartening situations were ended very abruptly where the story felt significant and director Ketan Mehta would've focused a lot more in these particular scenes.

Verdict: Nevertheless, Manjhi is indubitably an important movie in terms of introducing an incredible person and his heartwarming to all of us. But the fictional elements felt very generic and illusory as it damaged the tone of the movie by a large-scale.

My Rating - 2.5/5
Grade - C+ (It deserves your attention for a while!)
-By Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

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Instant Movie Review #21 (Lion)

Satyadeva's - "Lion"

Positives:
1) NBK's performance
2) Dialogues
3) Sub plots

Negatives:
1) Screenplay and Direction
2) Music
3) Dim-witted villain

Story: Disoriented mentally with two different characters, the main narrative commences with Bose (NBK) struggling to find his real identity after recuperating from a major head injury which connects to his past.

Directions and Screenplay: Debutant director, Satyadeva's screenplay is surely my major concern about the movie, his distinct approach felt unique with all the subplots, but the exhilarating factor was totally missing in the first half and the second half has been just a bummer.

Performances: This movie is undeniably a one man show, NBK's over-the-top dialogues, and his outrageous performance certainly established the movie really well and his compelling screen presence was always fun to watch.

Verdict: Altogether, Lion missed out all the core ingredients of a solid family entertainer and you may have to think twice before taking this roller coaster ride.

My Rating - 2/5
Grade - C (Meh! Probably a rental)
-By Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

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Hunterrr - Movie Review

Verdict - "A guaranteed disappointment."

It's quite clear to root for an amusing and a campy guy like Hunter and the same goes to the movie, with a beguiling premise and an appealing trailer, Hunterrr seized an enormous attention among the audience with uncertainty and was expected to hugely entertain.

Mandar Ponkshe (Gulshan Devaiya) is a player and has an obsessive habit of wooing girls in his ordinary life which is certainly not perceived well by his well-wishers as they suggest him to be mature and get married soon. 

Soon after, in the pursuit of meeting an appropriate life-partner, he meets Tripti (Radhika Apte), a carefree and a perceptive girl who had few setbacks in the past with her relationships. Will their relation win through or does it fall flat?

Apparently, this movie is a character study which was made-up to introduce a unique personality. In this regard, the screenplay has to be sharp and captivating enough to make us engage in this person's routines and the things he does in his everyday life. But, unfortunately, this movie deteriorate in setting up characters and when it demands us to feel emotive in a particular scene, we don't really feel concerned and that's the major drawback of the movie, it was not compelling.

Also the contemporary back and forth storytelling aspect was a little infuriating to watch as it introduced the perplexity factor to the movie and strengthened the fact that the screenwriter had nothing more to tell, they're definitely few aspects in the movie which had nothing to do with the storyline involved and it was totally tiresome.

But, they're few bright spots in the movie, few comedic scenes were amusing at times, the climax felt a little heartwarming to watch and concluded the movie on a good note. Also, the director and his whole crew did a great job in setting up the ambiance, the production design was impressive especially when you're filming the movie in a different timeline.

Regardless, Gulshan Devaiya did a decent job with his character, it was t phenomenal and with the ample amount of time he was given on-screen, I didn't really felt bored watching him. Radhika Apte was always mesmerizing to watch, as she got that alluring look on her face which was conceivable.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, Hunterrr is nothing what you expect it to be, it had the ability to tell a unique entertaining story which is  pretty scarce in our industry, but in all fairness, it never really turned out into a movie which was memorable and the one which changes the game. In a generic way, I can quote it as a "missed opportunity."

My Rating - 1.5/5
Grade - D+ (A hangover!)
-By Surya Komal aka KM (@SuryaKomal)

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