Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe
I love movies based on real life people and events because I learn something tangible about our culture. For people from all over, this movie will hold a truly special place. It is about humanity above anything else. Pingalwara is a place in Amritsar, Punjab, in northern India, that has become a sanctuary for the destitute, impoverished and those suffering from illnesses. The word ‘pingal’ means handicapped and ‘wara’ means home. The movie focuses on the life of the man responsible for Pingalwara, Bhagat Puran Singh, originally born as Ram Ji, played superbly by Pavan Raj Malhotra. His acting was flawless and incredibly natural. The movie takes us through the inspirational journey of Bhagat Puran Singh’s life and selfless dedication with a series of flashbacks. We come to understand the bond between a mother and child as he recalls his childhood and being a product of an unwanted pregnancy from his father. The sensitivity with which such a topic was handled was truly admirable. In a culture where children are born from taboo unions, sharing these details of Bhagat Puran Singh’s past brought to light the stereotypes we must break for the children’s sake. After his mother’s passing, he dedicates his entire life to selfless service. His humanitarian efforts reach newer heights as he takes on responsibility for an abandoned handicapped boy, whom he lovingly names ‘Pyara.’ Bhagat Puran Singh becomes a mother and father to Pyara and along the way takes in other abandoned individuals ranging from children, elderly, handicapped, mentally ill and plagued by sickness and/or diseases.
The movie sheds light on the harsh reality of India where unwanted human life has no value and is often discarded out of lack of money, time or attachment altogether. Bhagat Puran Singh, with help from others who believed in his cause, becomes the hope of the unwanted and abandoned. The movie is a real tear jerker as you keep realizing, while watching, that this actually happened and such a man did exist. His work still carries on and his legacy continues to live but more and more people, like you and I, need to help raise awareness and funds so Pingalwara continues to be a source of salvation for those who need it. All proceeds from the movie have gone to Pingalwara so if it is still playing near you, definitely go watch it and contribute what you can.
Here comes a creepy crawly Bollywood thriller. Khamoshiyan is probably what the theaters sounded like with intermittent cricket sounds. I was really excited about this one. Being a huge desi soap fan, I have been following the handsome Gurmeet Choudary for years. Ever since his breakout role as Ram in Ramayan and then the widower in Punar Vivah, I kept waiting for this guy to get his Bollywood break. It made so many of us jump for joy when it was revealed he signed a Mahesh Bhatt film for his debut. Sadly, Gurmeet, despite his formidable acting chops, couldn’t help save the poor plot line. The movie begins with a frustrated writer named Kabir, played by Ali Fazal, who retreats to a remote, deserted hotel to find his inspiration again. In the process, he falls for the manager of the eerily vacant establishment named Meera, played by Sapna Pabbi. The plot thickens when Meera reveals she is taking care of her handicapped husband, Jaideve, played by Gurmeet Choudary, even though she too falls for Kabir. Provacative scenes ensue and the chemistry between the leads isn’t as bad as the storyline. It is soon revealed that Meera’s husband is actually dead and his ghost is haunting the hotel. The story pretty much nose dives at this point leading us to believe Jaidev is an animal sacrificing, blood drinking, abusive husband that Meera is unable to escape despite his accidental death. Kabir is able to defeat the ghost after an elaborate exorcism process that didn’t make quite the impact the director was going for. Gurmeet functioning as a ghost was a disappointment but at least he has broken into the world of Bollywood. Hopefully his next venture will be a more tangible role.
Ayushmann Khurrana is too adorable for words but Hawaizaadi is most likely a box office crash. The element of entertainment is sprinkled throughout the film despite the exaggerated premise. The movie is inspired by the real Shivkar Bapuji Talpade whom the director researched and found traces of a goal to fly the skies. The story revolves around Ayushmann’s character, Shivi, and is shot under the backdrop of British rule during the 1890’s. Shivi is not interested in academics and performs poorly upon multiple attempts. His father gets very fed up with his antics and kicks him out. Shivi falls for a local dancer named Sitara, played by Pallavi Sharda, and the feeling is mutual. However, Sitara doesn’t want any backlash for being part of the reason why Shivi isn’t accomplishing anything more in life so she decides to leave town. A devastated Shivi starts to live a life of depravity and sin until he meets an eccentric scientist named Shastry, played by Mithun Chakraboty, who brings a purpose into his life. Through a series of events, Shartry reveals to Shivi his intent to build a machine that can fly. Shatry’s plans to build the model are short-lived due to his untimely death. Shivi is motivated to carry through with Shastry’s dream of building and flying the airplane. After overcoming numerous attempts by the British to sabotage Shivi’s plans, he is able to finish the model and fly away with Sitara in tow. The movie questions the accuracy of the Wright Brother’s being the first to fly an airplane. Whether Hawaizaada is historically accurate is grossly subject to debate. Based on some initial research done by the director, it is never really revealed as to how the invention came to Shastry or would actually work. The plot is weak and the buy in from the viewer is unlikely due to the lack of a factual flow to the series of events. Ayushmann does a good job of bringing his charm to the role. The chemistry between him and Pallavi Sharda isn’t as strong but neither is the storyline. Decent entertainer but not the best from what we have come to expect from our Vicky Donor.
Did anyone wonder if this was a spin on ET at first besides me? Albeit, an implied drunk version of ET given the title but still, one could say, there are some unusual similarities. An alien gets stranded on Earth and spends the entire movie trying to find a magical locket that will help him go home to his planet. Sure there aren’t any cute kids involved in this version but Sanjay Dutt and Anushka Sharma provide the next best thing through their innocent and fun-loving portrayals. Ok, all jokes aside, Aamir Khan, PK the alien, does a really good job, as usual, staying committed to his character through and through. It came as a pleasant surprise to me that the movie is intended to be a satirical take on “God and Godmen” with traces of the corruption plaguing India. Such a topic was handled in a satirical and exaggerated story line rather than the in your face versions we have seen regarding the corruption issues widely spread in India. The most eye opening element about this feature is the uniquely presented portrayal of how religions have become a source of business in India. The script takes a close and compelling look at the gullibility of unsuspecting citizens and the sheer greed of those exploiting their sentiments pertaining to God. Aamir Khan’s acting here is on point. I finally understood why he did the film as I saw the unraveling of the plot through his character portrayal. I felt rather foolish thinking PK was a remake of ET when Hrithik Roshan already did that three times with Jadoo/Krrish. The hard hitting reality of what goes on in India is presented in a different way here. Oh My God had similar undertones with Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar’s portrayals. That one also questioned the way religion outlets are run in a controversial manner. PK takes a rather different approach with its satirical theme. I would say this is one of those films that you can watch at your own leisure. Although extremely well done, satires are not for everyone’s watching pleasure, especially with such strong overtones of religion. You may find yourself feeling either challenged by the story-line or in agreement with its bold take on the controversial nature of religion.
With a name like Pintoo, Arjun Kapoor donned the role of a kabbadi player/huge Salman Khan fan for this movie (his dad made). The song, Superman, itself gained immense popularity overnight. Smart move Amit Sharma. Now, you can go two ways with this movie. You can focus on the romantic back drop of the typical damsel in distress gets saved by the hero and as a result falls in love with him once she gets to safety only to have her love lost when the bad guy finds them, only to be reunited after hero defeats bad guy in a masculine fight where he beats everyone single handedly. Orrrrrrrrrrrrrr, you can look at the sheer in-your-face action over and over and over and over again and enjoy the humoristic interplay between the various characters. Either way, it’s a light hearted entertainer you don’t need to think too hard about. You won’t get lost in the plot line or miss anything if you get up to use the bathroom. The music is the highlight but even the convincing acting of Pintoo, uff Arjun Kapoor and Radhika, uff Sonakshi Sinha, couldn’t make this memorable for me. Oh, and Manoj Bajpayee plays the token bad guy.
Bipasha Basu stars in this suspense thriller. Surprise, surprise. Now if you thought the original Raaz was a thriller chiller then be ready for Alone. Based on the Thai version with the same title, this movie will definitely deliver on making you feel glad that you’re not alone. Being a twin can have it’s advantages and down sides. Alone explores the latter and sets the stage for a very interesting twist. With a mix of romance, mystery and a not so friendly ghost, the movie is sure to keep you gripped. The male lead is Karan Grover, making his debut into Bollywood from television. He has been a staple on the small screen for nearly a decade playing very popular leads. It was only a matter of time until he transitioned before us and what a way to do it in Alone. Bipasha has been promoting the movie with being more than a horror film which is true. Now sure, we have come to expect any Bipasha movie to come with that extra oomph factor that only she can bring but Bips has some acting chops too when given the right script. In Raaz she had us freaking out with her and in Alone it’s not any different. Raaz explored the topic of infidelity and how marriages struggle. Similarly, Alone showcases the trials and tribulations a married couple typically goes through too, only with spirits and ghosts to add an extra complicated layer that you can only get in movies. So yeah, totally worth the watch, but not alone.
Dolly Ki Doli
Arbaaz Khan has produced this multi-starrer with Sonam Kapoor in the lead as Dolly and Pulkit Samrat, Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma as her three suitors. Rumors in the beginning circulated that the original lead was meant to be Katrina Kaif but Arbaaz changed his mind last minute and opted for Sonam. It’s been up for debate as to how strongly Sonam can pull off a solo film off given her track record but the role was definitely in her wheelhouse. The fashionista brings her Kapoor charm and bubbly energy to the title character who stands grooms up and runs off with their money, accompanied by her fake family. It’s like a subtle cross between some western romantic comedies like the Julia Roberts starrer Runaway Bride and has hints of desi romcoms too like Dawat-E-Ishq with a tiny bit of Shudh Desi Romance sprinkled on top. The plot isn’t the most original but the humoristic elements are worth the watch. The end did feel a bit contrived but Sonam Kapoor does justice to the role and keeps the entertainment factor high. The male leads do hold their own but RajKummar Rao leaves an impression with his portrayal of the jilted Jatt with a soft heart. Definitely makes for a good date night or even a girls’ night kinda movie. As an added bonus, Arbaaz Khan’s wife Malaika has a special guest item number; not to mention a brief special appearance by Saif Ali Khan which brought the group average up of the guys ten folds, thank goodness.