Raaz Reboot

It all started off in the year 2002 when Vikram Bhatt directed the spooky thriller RAAZ starring Bipasha Basu, Dino Morea and Malini Sharma. The film's unprecedented success gave way to 'subsequent' films in the form of RAAZ: THE MYSTERY CONTINUES (2009) and RAAZ 3 in 3D (2012). This week's release is the next instalment of the RAAZ series titled RAAZ REBOOT that stars Emraan Hashmi, Kriti Kharbanda and Gaurav Arora in the lead roles. Will RAAZ REBOOT prove to be a 'Raaz-mataz' hit at the Box-Office or will it have to 'reboot' itself, let's analyze.

Vishesh Films and T-Series' RAAZ REBOOT is essentially a horror film that explores many mysteries, secrets, human traits and evils. The film starts off with a voiceover narration about love and life amidst the picturesque locations of Romania. It is here where the married couple Rehaan Khanna (Gaurav Arora) and his wife Shaina (Kriti Kharbanda) have recently moved in. Post that, the film enters into a semi flashback of events that mirrors Rehaan's resistance and reluctance of shifting his base to Romania. Because of Shaina's insistence, Rehaan gives up his 'average job' in Mumbai and settles for a plush and high flying corporate job in Romania. But, ever since the time they shift to Romania, Shaina senses something amiss between Rehaan and his approach towards her. When repeated questioning yields no answers, she becomes extremely sad and disheartened. Amidst all this, Shaina starts witnessing eerie and weird things happening in her house. And when she tries to explain all this to Rehaan, he rubbishes Shaina's claims of the presence of evil spirit in their house. That's the time when a depressed and longing for love Shaina comes across the fashion photographer Aditya Shrivastava (Emraan Hashmi). Aditya, not only understands her situation, but also offers help in overcoming the evil happenings in her life. One day, when Rehaan goes outstation for work, Aditya meets Shaina to tell her a shocking secret that leaves Shaina totally helpless and shocked. Does Aditya actually tell Shaina the reason behind the evil spirit attacking her, why is he helping Shaina in an unknown land and does Shaina and how is Rehaan related to all this, is what forms the rest of the film.

When RAAZ REBOOT's trailers got released, it definitely upped the curiosity factor amongst the audiences. And the film does not disappoint. Even though RAAZ REBOOT's screenplay (Vikram Bhatt) gets into the cliched space at times, it is definitely tight and gripping. It successfully manages to keep the audiences engaged and hooked to the film till the end. And it is purely because of this that the attention of the audience refrains from dwindling till the end. The film's narrative is simple and lucid. The film does have a handful of memorable and hard hitting dialogues (Girish Dhamija), mostly in the second half.

Even though RAAZ REBOOT's premise happens to be its director Vikram Bhatt's favourite territory, there are a handful of things which seem amiss in the film. Even though his direction starts going a bit astray somwhere in the middle, he manages to hold the film together. While the film's first half is slow, the second half picks up with the horror and mystery elements kicking in. However, the film misses the presence of sex element, which is the forte of the Bhatts and movies belonging to this genre. Having said that, one has to make a special mention about a handful of scenes in the film that really stand out. Like the scene when Kriti runs back from her shopping to her house and her 'confrontation' during the recitation of shlokas, during the exorcism.

After having starred in the earlier RAAZ films (RAAZ-THE MYSTERY CONTINUES and RAAZ 3), Emraan Hashmi definitely seems tad comfortable in his 'home turf'. Despite the fact that one starts feeling a bit letdown and disappointed with the lack of 'Emraan-isms' in full throttle, still, he manages to do total justice to his character and brings in the much needed pace in the narrative. Do not miss his confrontation scene with Gaurav Arora. Speaking of Gaurav Arora, he delivers a convincing performance in the film. RAAZ REBOOT might just prove to be a springboard for his future in Bollywood. However, the biggest surprise of the film is Kriti Kharbanda. Armed with an endearing screen presence and strong performance in the film, she could just be the name to watch out for. Even though RAAZ REBOOT is her debut film in Bollywood, she just does not come across as a debutante actress. While the film essentially belongs to the aforementioned trio (Emraan Hashmi, Kriti Kharbanda, Gaurav Arora), the other actors simply help the film in moving forward.

The music of RAAZ REBOOT (Jeet Gannguli, Sangeet Haldipur, Sidharth Haldipur) is hummable and is bound to find its musical resonance with the audiences. On the other hand, the film's background score (Raju Singh) and sound effects are totally in sync with the film's narrative and add to the chills of the movie watching experience.

The film's cinematography (Manoj Soni) is decent and nothing short of a visual delight. The film's editing (Kuldip Mehan) is average.

On the whole, RAAZ REBOOT offers an unconventional horror story that will leave you haunted and scared. If you are an enthusiast of supernatural thriller/horror movies, get ready to be shocked and surprised with this one.
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Pink

The box-office has been reasonably dull in the past few weeks. This week's release is the Amitabh Bachchan starrer PINK, a courtroom drama, which deals with a sensitive premise of status of young women in the society. Will PINK turn out to be a colourful film at the Box-Office, or will it lose its colour, let's analyse.

Shoojit Sircar's PINK is essentially a simple story about the complex problems issues like inequities and hypocrisies the women in India face everyday. The film starts off with a 'tensed up' introduction of Meenal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang), alongside the 'silent' introduction of retired advocate Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan). Meenal, Falak and Andrea live together as paying guests in Delhi, earning their respective livelihoods. These girls lose their smiles and peace of mind because of a terrible incident that threatens their lives. The incident takes place when Rajveer (Angad Bedi) forces himself upon Meenal and she hits him hard with a glass bottle injuring him seriously. After this incident, the girls come under attack from all sides as Rajveer happens to be a polticians nephew. Soon his friends start threatening the girls. When the incident gets registered with the police, it leads to an array of investigations, interrogations and character assasination of the three girls. With no lawyer ready to represent their case, the girls find their sole ray of hope in advocate Deepak Saigal, who volunteers to fight their case, despite having given up his law practice. How will the girls prove their innocence against such a powerful opposition and does advocate Deepak Saigal help the girls win the case and clear their names, is what forms the rest of the film.

When PINK's promos came out, one expected an edgy and a realistic cinema. The fact is that PINK does not disappoint at all in this aspect. It boasts of a gripping screenplay that holds your attention till the end. Despite the film's slow narrative, especially in the first half, it keeps you engaged and hooked. The film has some hard hitting dialogues (Ritesh Shah), which elevates the situations and the corresponding elements. Do not miss the entire courtroom drama, especially when Amitabh Bachchan grills Taapsee Pannu and Angad Bedi and also when Kirti Kulhari breaks down in the courtroom.

The film's director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, who happens to be a big name in Bengali cinema makes his Bollywood debut with PINK as a master storyteller. While he uses the first half to just set up the film, it's actually the gripping second half that helps the film in reaching its crescendo. The manner in which Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury has extracted realistic performances from the film's actors is definitely laudable. Despite the film being rich in content, the film does carry a grim feel due to its subject matter. Also, the film does not explain certain elements very clearly like the relationship between Amitabh Bachchan with an ailing lady named Sarah. Another big loophole was that, despite Taapsee Pannu's character being molested in a car the second time, there is not mention of such a major event in the court case. Also, the scene of Kirti Kulhari's fake 'obscene poster' that costs her the job, seems totally forced into the film.

PINK is embellished with bravura performances and it is undoubtedly and undisputedly the towering Amitabh Bachchan who steals the show. Even though this is not the first time that Amitabh Bachchan has played the role of an advocate, he manages to bring something different to the table in PINK. It won't be wrong to say that, with PINK, Amitabh Bachchan has not just delivered an immensely memorable performance, but also one of his career best performances. Trailing an extreme close second is Taapsee Pannu, who manages to 'earn her place under the sun' with her sincere portrayal of Meenal. Taapsee Pannu will surely be a serious contender for all the awards this year. Kirti Kulhari, whose last film was the forgettable JAL, delivers a rock solid performance in PINK. She utilises to the maximum the screen time that is offered to her. On the other hand, Andrea Tariang does a very job too. While Angad Bedi is scarily convincing, Piyush Mishra and his 'courtroom antics' are exceptional. Dhritiman Chatterjee is extremely convincing in the role of the judge. The rest of the film's characters help tremendously in the progress of the film.

While the film has absolutely no scope for music (Shantanu Moitra), its background score (Shantanu Moitra) is extremely haunting and creates the ambience for the film. The film's cinematography (Avik Mukhopadhyay) is decent. The film's editing (Bodhaditya Banerjee) is average.

On the whole, PINK is a compelling film which exposes hypocrisies and double standards against women in our society. With powerful performances from the starcast, the film leaves you shocked, stunned and speechless. At the Box Office, it will be patronised by the multiplex audiences and the positive word of mouth will translate into healthy footfalls for the movie. Don't miss this one as it hammers home a very powerful message.
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Freaky Ali

Amidst a clutter of sports biopics that often concentrate on mainstream games like cricket, boxing etc., FREAKY ALI dares to be different as it explores the not-so-known world of golf. Treating it with humour, the film shows the journey of an ordinary, poor man turning into a winner in a world of sports that is dominated by the rich and the sophisticated. Whether this experimentation works for Bollywood or not, let's analyse.

Brought up in the bylanes of Mumbai, Ali (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is an adopted orphan who tries to make his living by doing odd jobs like selling undergarments. When his engagement breaks because of his image as a salesman and he sees tears in the eyes of the one woman he loves the most - his mother (Seema Biswas), Ali decides to turn rich by hook or by crook. He joins hands with his bestie Maqsood (Arbaaz Khan), a small-time gangster working under Sohail Khan aka Danger Bhai (Niketan Dheer) to extort money. Besides this, Ali is passionate about just one sport, cricket and even wins the challenge of scoring sixes at every ball during a gully-cricket match. During one of his extortion assignments, he decides to take up a golfing challenge and ends up victorious and he is spotted by Kishan Lal (Asif Basra), his neighbour and family well-wisher who believes that Ali's talent can create wonders in the world of golf. As his destiny takes him towards a new way of life, with new goals, dreams, Ali comes across new friends and love, Megha (Amy Jackson), he also makes new enemies like Vikram Rathod (Jas Arora). What follows is a series of matches where Ali has to prove his worth to his coach Kishan Lal while dealing with the success-obsessed Vikram Rathod and a man with selfish motives, Danger Bhai, who would go to any lengths to ensure the defeat of Ali at the tournament, even if it means turning his loved ones against him.

We must give it to actor - director Sohail Khan for bringing about a new sport to limelight with FREAKY ALI. While it's often cricket that takes away all the attention, sports like golf are left ignored. The film, that quite frequently reminds us of Adam Sandler starrer HAPPY GILMORE, has an intriguing first half filled with humour and the antics of Ali will definitely leave you in splits. While the expectations are at its peak during the second half, soon disappointment creeps in as director Sohail Khan fails to keep up the benchmark that he sets in the initial half of the film. The film succumbs to Bollywood clichés of an underdog's triumphs that makes the second half predictable. It also falls flat when it comes to humor, contrary to the first which boasts of a good collection of punchlines.

Special mention to dialogue writer Raaj Shandiliya who has managed to give some of the best dialogues to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, especially in his introduction scene where he is seen selling male undergarments, however, we wish he could have retained his series of punches even in the second half. The screenplay written by Sohail Khan along with Raaj is decent but nothing beyond average. Despite the fact that the film manages to find its space between the series of films that show an underdog ultimately reaching his goal, some are done-to-death sequences that could have been easily avoided.

As far as performance is concerned, FREAKY ALI solely rides on Nawazuddin Siddiqui's shoulders. And no points for guessing, the actor manages to carry off the role with aplomb despite the fact that this is his first full-fledged comedy role and he is known for serious cinema. Another special mention to Arbaaz Khan who has done a good job of adding those humourous punches in the film. Nawaz and Arbaaz's timing is one of the highlights of the film. On the other hand, Amy Jackson as the glamorous, pretty girl is decent but her character seems a tad bit half-baked just like the chemistry between her and Nawaz. Also making a mark with their presence are Seema Biswas as the mother and the actor playing Nawaz's bachelor uncle who deliver believable performances. Others help take the film forward. Jackie Shroff's cameo in the end seems forced neither does his 'bhidu' humour bring anything new to the table.

The music of the film (Sajid - Wajid Ali) hardly has anything to boast about and the editing (Prashant Singh and Rathore) is strictly average. The cinematography (Mahesh Limaye) is decent.

On the whole, FREAKY ALI kick starts with rib-tickling moments but fails to retain the humorous momentum throughout as it falls prey to predictable plotline and a disappointing second half.
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Baar Baar Dekho

While Bollywood has seen many genres being experimented with, the genre of time travel is still in its 'nascent' stages. The fact remains that the movies made in this genre (LOVE STORY 2050, FUN2SHH…, ACTION REPLAYY) have never hit the jackpot at the Box-Office. This week's release is the Sidharth Malhotra-Katrina Kaif starrer BAAR BAAR DEKHO also deals with the genre of 'time travel'. Will this film live upto its title or will it backfire at the 'Box-Office', lets analyze.

BAAR BAAR DEKHO is a couple's roller coaster ride, which mirrors the ups and downs of their lives. The film starts off with the birth of Jai Verma and Diya Kapoor in Delhi and London respectively. Post that, Diya Kapoor's family settles down in India (Delhi, to be specific). As 'time' progresses, Jai and Diya grow up together and fall in love with each other. After years of knowing each other, one day, when 'painter' Dia proposes marriage to the 'Maths obsessed Professor' Jai, he becomes petrified with the very thought of marriage. Right before their wedding day, Diya takes Jai to a plush house that is gifted to them by her rich father (Ram Kapoor). This gift not just hurts the self respect of Jai, but also makes him confess to Diya that he is just not ready for marriage because his main focus is his career. Hearing that, a heartbroken Diya leaves Jai promising never to return back. Post that, a grief-stricken Jai lands up gulping a full bottle of champagne. And when he wakes up next morning, he sees the world and timezone around him totally changed. He sees himself transported into his future which shakes the ground below him completely. On one hand, while he sees himself resigning from a dream job at Harvard University (for which he had strived so hard), on the other hand, he sees his wife Diya divorcing him and moving on. If that wasn't enough, Jai 'lives through' many different crucial stages of his life. What are these situations and how does he manage to time travel and does Jai ever manage to 'solve' the mysteries, is what forms the rest of the film.

When BAAR BAAR DEKHO's promos were released, it gave a feel that the film was a sincere attempt in the genre of time travel. In reality, the film's screenplay (Sri Rao, Nitya Mehra, Anuvab Pal) completely gives the film in. Besides being confusing, the film's screenplay is totally slow and un-relatable, which makes it extremely difficult to find resonance with the audience. The film's dialogues (Anvita Dutt) are very average with no outstanding one liners or anything to that effect. Though humor is sorely missing in the film, it is loaded with moments of unintentional comedy.

Despite having assisted on successful films like LIFE OF PI, DON and LAKSHYA, debutante director Nitya Mehra struggles while narrating BAAR BAAR DEKHO. The way in which she has handled the aspect of time travel in the film is very weak, which only goes onto prove that such genres definitely require an 'experienced hand' for the film to be worth its salt. As the film progresses, one does start feeling about BAAR BAAR DEKHO being heavily 'inspired' by the Hollywood flicks like the Nicholas Cage starrer THE FAMILY MAN and the Adam Sandler starrer CLICK. While BAAR BAAR DEKHO's first half (especially the first 30 minutes) is engaging, the film starts collapsing piece by piece as Sidharth's character starts time travelling. The film's second half only gets worse and tests your patience as Sidharth starts travelling back and forth in time. It won't be wrong to say that, while BAAR BAAR DEKHO's essence is Indian, the concept is totally alien. All of this results in BAAR BAAR DEKHO becoming a mash up of sorts, thus, landing nowhere. And when the film's ridiculous suspense is revealed towards the end, it totally shows how much the makers of the film take the audiences for granted.

As for the performances, the film rides totally on the shoulders of Sidharth Malhotra. After doing a fairly decent job in his last film KAPOOR & SONS, Sidharth Malhotra comes up with yet another convincing (if not exceptional or superlative) performance in BAAR BAAR DEKHO. Even though he is believable in the role of a young man and a middle aged man, he fails to do justice to the old man's role. Still, it is him who holds the film majorly on his shoulders. On the other hand, Katrina Kaif delivers a just about passable performance in BAAR BAAR DEKHO. There are many places where she starts struggling with her character. Even though the age difference between Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif start becoming visible with every passing frame, the duo try and envelope that with their performances. Ram Kapoor notwithstanding, most of the other actors are wasted in the film.

Despite the presence of multiple music directors (Amaal Mallik, Badshah, Jasleen Royal, Bilal Saeed, Prem Hardeep), the film manages to churn out only one chartbuster track in the form of 'Kaala Chashma'. And by the time this track plays in the film (during the end credits), the audiences have already lost their interest in the film.

The film's cinematography (Ravi K. Chandran) is excellent. The way in which he has shot the locations are extremely top-notch. The film's editing (Amitabh Shukla) is average.

On the whole BAAR BAAR DEKHO is a confused film which underestimates audience's intelligence and takes them for granted. At the box office, the film's narrative will appeal only to the selected multiplex audience while the masses will find it difficult to relate to the movie.
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Akira

The year 1935 saw the release of a path breaking film in the form of HUNTERWALI that starred the 'Fearless Nadia'. Over the years, Bollywood has given way to many 'women-oriented' films like MOTHER INDIA, BANDIT QUEEN, KAHAANI, QUEEN, MARDAANI and more. This week sees the release of yet another woman oriented film in the form of AKIRA starring Sonakshi Sinha. Will this film manage to kick some butt at the Box-Office or will it get itself kicked, let's analyze.

Fox Star Studios' AKIRA, which happens to be an official remake of the Tamil hit film MOUNA GURU, is essentially a story of a daredevil woman and her fight for survival amidst a bunch of brutal and corrupt cops who can plunge to any level in order to save their skin. The film begins with the 'vocal introduction' of Akira Sharma (Sonakshi Sinha), by Inspector Rabia (Konkona Sen Sharma). The story starts off with a 14 year flashback of Akira's childhood in Jodhpur (Rajasthan). While returning from school, she witnesses an acid attack. This untoward incident encourages her mute and deaf father (Atul Kulkarni) to enrol her in martial arts classes. Angered by Akira turning a witness, when the culprits attack her, she accidentally throws acid on one of them, which results in her being jailed in juvenile home. As she grows up, at the insistence of her Mumbai based brother, Akira and her by-now widowed mother (Smita Jaykar) shift their base to Mumbai. It is in Mumbai, where life changes completely for Akira, who accidentally finds herself in a totally helpless situation for a 'crime' that she was not even a part of in the first place. What follows after that are a series of staged attacks, murders, physical and mental torture on Akira, all of which at the behest of the 'drug sniffing' cop ACP Rane (Anurag Kashyap) and his trusted fellow policemen. The degree of atrocities which get subjected on the innocent Akira reache to such an extent that she gets 'officially certified' as a mental patient and gets thrown away in a mental asylum. What was the reason for ACP Rane to be after Akira's life, does Akira find a way out from the mental asylum and prove her innocence is what forms the rest of the story.

Although women oriented subjects are looked forward to in Bollywood, it really requires an outstanding script and a compelling screenplay in order to make a film of this genre to stand out. In case of AKIRA, despite the film having a strong message and an interesting concept, the loosely penned screenplay (Santha Kumar, A.R. Murugadoss) gives the film in. The script is totally disjointed, which acts as the villain in the entire film. Add to this, the fact that, the film has limited action scenes, no romance and no music lands the film catering to not a single vector of entertainment. The film simply fails to offer any kind of entertainment value to its audiences. The film's dialogues (Karan Singh Rathore) are extremely average.

Even though director A.R. Murugadoss happens to be a big name down south with many hit films to his credit, AKIRA happens to be his third Hindi film (the first two being GHAJINI and HOLIDAY: A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY). With his first two Bollywood films proving to be blockbusters, expectations were indeed sky high from him as a director as far as AKIRA is concerned. Despite the film taking off to a flying start in its convincing first half, A.R. Murugadoss starts struggling with the film at regular intervals, courtesy a weak screenplay. AKIRA's second half tremendously slows down the proceedings of the film. As the film progresses, it (unintentionally) lands up becoming too dark in virtue, something that Anurag Kashyap's films are generally synonymous with. While the film's tagline screamed 'No one will be forgiven', one is bound to expect oodles of action galore and adrenaline rush. With the film offering none of the two, the audiences are bound to feel cheated by the time the films ends. There are way too many unexplained and unwanted scenes in the film that seem to be thrusted in the name of 'cinematic liberties'. With the film's climax turning out to be a total damp squib, it serves as a perfect example of bad execution of a good concept. Scenes like a mental patient driving a van without any mistake and the late police investigations are very shoddily explained.

As for the performances, the film rides majorly on the shoulders of Sonakshi Sinha and Anurag Kashyap. Even though Sonakshi Sinha comes across as a stark revelation in comparison to all her other films so far, the flip side is that, her action scenes are totally limited in the film. While one cannot deny the fact that AKIRA offered Sonakshi Sinha immense platform to exhibit her acting and action skills, the ludicrous screenplay failed to showcase the same. Unlike the film's promos that showed Sonakshi Sinha doing some of the breath taking stunts, the film turns out to be sore disappointment because of her limited action scenes. On the other hand, there's Anurag Kashyap, who means and spells menace with his performance in the film. Even though this is not his first film as an actor, his role of an unapologetic cop in AKIRA proves his mettle as an actor in all the films that he has acted in so far. Do not miss his introduction scene wherein he teaches his subordinates as to what 'perfect timing' is all about. There's also Konkona Sen Sharma, who, for reasons best known to the director has been shown heavily pregnant throughout the film. Despite having limited screen time, she does not disappoint the audience. The rest of the actors do their bit in taking the film forward.

The film has no scope for music (Vishal-Shekhar), however the background score (John Stewart Eduri) helps the narrative. The film's cinematography (R. D. Rajasekhar, ISC) is decent. The film's editing (A. Sreekar Prasad) is absolutely average.

On the whole, AKIRA has an interesting concept which fails on the account of its slack screenplay and lack of entertainment value. At the Box-Office, it will be rejected and will entail losses to its investors.
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