Courage is not A virtue, but The virtue

Ram Madhvani's NEERJA is a heroic story of a brave young girl Neerja Bhanot who displayed extraordinary courage during extremely dangerous circumstances. It is a rare film that will make you cry profusely but at the same time scaffold you with strength to raise your voice against injustice and why one must never compromise on self-respect. As a movie watching experience, NEERJA is flawless. There's not a single false note. No compromise at the level of storytelling. Bravo!

Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor) is the purser at Panam Airlines. She is a diehard Rajesh Khanna fan and believes that one must live a Big life rather than living for long. She's also a successful model. Her doting mother Rama Bhanot (Shabana Azmi) and an ever encouraging father Harish Bhanot (Yogendra Tiku) love to pamper their Laado. Neerja has a loving suitor in Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani). Life seems to be hunky dory. In the present. The ill-fated flight to New York on which Neerja is the head purser gets hijacked in Karachi by the Libya backed Palestinian terrorist group Abu Nidal. The past suddenly percolates in the memory space, for Neerja had earlier been in an abusive marriage and now she was facing abuse from menacing terrorists. Her extraordinary courage and presence of mind saved the lives of most of the passengers as she put others before herself.

Saiwyn Quadras' smart and gripping screenplay is the backbone of NEERJA. The narrative goes back and forth in a very interesting manner. Ram Madhvani brings amazing perspective to the real life story by giving various points of view. When Neerja tells the head of the terrorist group that she's just doing her duty the way they are doing theirs, it drives home a point. The terrorists are shown to be edgy and nervous. They are as afraid as the harried passengers. The opportune manner in which Neerja drives strength from the flashbacks of her family life (good and bad) literally pushes the right buttons of emotions among the audience. Sanyukta Chawla Shaikh's dialogues are bang-on in communicating the angst, pathos and fear very well.

Sonam Kapoor has delivered the performance of a lifetime. The fact that Sonam has displayed astounding courage in real life at many an occasion by speaking about contentious subjects of national importance without bothering about the hate coming her way, she carries a certain credibility in this context that is very believable. What's laudable is her precision. She never overdoes. Most importantly she internalizes the courageous spirit of Neerja who had a sound head during inhuman circumstances. When Sonam cries, you'd cry with her. Also, by the end you'd feel like saluting the heroic spirit of both Neerja as well as Sonam. Shabana Azmi adds another feather to her illustrious cap. The entertaining way in which she speaks Punjabi, the state of temporarily losing one's mind and the way she becomes Rama Bhanot is a good enough reason in itself to watch the film. Yogendra Tiku as Harish Bhanot is very effective in instilling fearlessness in his daughter. One of the terrorists by the name of Khalil looks every bit a hard core terrorist with a maniacal bent of mind. Excellent casting.

Mitesh Mirchandani's cinematography is excellent. At times it is hand held, making it that much more real. Monisha R Baldawa's editing is spot on. The songs are not allowed to be played for full duration, everything is kept that's essential and there's nothing superfluous in the film. Vishal Khurana's music and background score adds value to the film. 'Jeete Hain Chal' and 'Gehra Ishq' are wonderful compositions and brilliantly written by wordsmith Prasoon Joshi. Vishal's background score adds the necessary fear and suspense.

On the whole, NEERJA is a must watch ode to the youngest recipient of the highest civilian honour Ashok Chakra for displaying extraordinary courage and human kindness. It is a film that will make you stand up for what's genuinely Right without bothering about nationality, religion, sex, cast or colour of the skin. Most importantly as a movie watching experience, you'll be glued to the movie screen with tears and admiration welling up in your eyes. NEERJA is a movie that will make you a better person. Don't miss it!


Many films in Bollywood have been made based on classic novels. This week's release FITOOR too falls in the same category. The film's makers went on record to say that FITOOR is based on Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations', the very novel that showcased forbidden love, betrayal and class struggles. With a starcast that boasts of the stunning Katrina Kaif and the hunky Aditya Roy Kapur, whether FITOOR lives upto the 'great expectations' or will it turn out to be a let-down, let's analyze.

FITOOR starts off with with the flashback that reflects the childhood of a young Kashmiri boy Noor Nizami and his 'blink-and-you-miss' tryst with a random stranger (Ajay Devgn), who turns out to be a certain Mirza Baig eventually. One of the days, when Noor accompanies his brother-in-law to Begam (Tabu)'s palace for some carpentry work, his young and innocent eyes fall on the eternally beautiful Firdaus Jaan Naqvi. Because, she takes a 'liking' for Noor's (torn) shoes, he gets hired as their stable's caretaker. Gradually, the duo start liking each other and each other's company. One day Noor comes looking out for Firdaus at her palace when Begum informs him that she has been sent away to London for education. The film then fast forwards a few years and now a grown up Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) leaves his hometown to move to Delhi to build his career as an artist. As luck would have it, Noor meets Firdaus (Katrina Kaif) at a party and this time round, they try to 'complete' their 'incomplete' love. That's when Firdaus confesses to Noor that she will be soon getting married to an upcoming Pakistani politician Bilal (Rahul Bhatt). The level of obsession that Noor has for Firdaus reaches crazy heights. Will Noor let go of his childhood love Firdaus, will Firdaus have a change of heart and leave Bilal and get married to Noor or does the extremely protective Begam have a way different plan for Firdaus is what forms the rest of the film.

FITOOR's director Abhishek Kapoor (who is best known for his films like KAI PO CHE and ROCK ON), seems extremely confused in his narrative of FITOOR. While the film does have its moments under the sun, FITOOR turns out to be such a BIG disappointment for all those who really had 'great expectations' (no pun intended) from the film. The film is nothing but an amalgamation of senseless, confusing and disjointed screenplay (Supratik Sen, Abhishek Kapoor) and poor direction (Abhishek Kapoor). The screenplay is sorely disappointing, thus making the film look like an arthouse cinema featuring popular stars. What adds to the downfall of the film is also the odd pairing of Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif, who lack the much needed chemistry to 'light up' a movie of this genre. After a point, the film's proceedings become way too difficult to comprehend. The makers of the film have focused on every minute detail of the visuals in the movie, however one wonders why they didn't do the same level of detailing in the screenplay. There are many scenes in the film that do no good to the film, but only land up confusing the viewers. Testimonials to this are in the form of Ajay Devgn's role in the film, and also the scene wherein Aditya reads a news article about a Begam spending a fortune on her heiress' wedding, whereas, the so-called 'wedding' never seems to take place in the movie. Despite all the flaws and shortcomings, one has to admit that the film looks extremely appealing visually.

As for the performances, even though it's the film's lead pair Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif who carry the film on their 'able' shoulders, the confusing and lacklustre script acts as a speed breaker in their respective performances. Both, Aditya and Katrina seem to struggle in the film with their respective characters. Even though Tabu does a decent job, the explanation for her weird behaviour throughout the film comes in too late. Ajay Devgn and Lara Dutta are totally wasted in the film. Rahul Bhatt, Aditi Rao Hydari, Akshay Oberoi, Delbar Arya and others try their level best to help the film move forward.

The film's music (Amit Trivedi) is nothing to write about as only Fitoor title track and 'Pashmina' stands out. The film's background score is average. While the film's cinematography (Anay Goswamy) is outstanding, the film's editing (Deepa Bhatia) is decent. A special mention to the people behind the film's costumes. Though the film is only 2 hours and 11 minutes long, it feels like a never ending saga, due to its snail pace.

On the whole, FITOOR is a huge letdown despite its great visuals, as it fails to connect emotionally. At the Box-Office, the movie will appeal only to a minuscule set of multiplex audience.

Sanam Re

Divya Khosla Kumar's SANAM RE is a sweet romantic love story smeared with a cathartic tear that is the perfect recipe for the romantic air around the Valentine's Day. The fabulous music score, amazing locations and great picturization makes it a visual treat which doesn't let the slow pace affect the movie watching experience in any way.

Aakash (Pulkit Samrat) is an ambitious young man who's always rebuked by his boss. The circumstances take him back to his small home town amidst snowcapped hills. His dadaji (Rishi Kapoor), a photographer had been a strong influence on him during childhood but now he's old and Aakash's parents want to sell off the photo studio since there's no one to take care of it. The young confused man rediscovers the memories of his childhood love Shruti (Yami Gautam) whom he had dumped for a comfortable city life a few years ago. Circumstances make Aakash and Yami meet again the salubrious climate of Canada where they attend a Yoga Camp of a lady Yoga guru (Bharti Singh). The triangle is completed by gorgeous and sexy Mrs Pablo (Urvashi Rautela) who has to be won over by Aakash for professional reasons. The story moves forward and professional ambitions gradually get taken over by pure unadulterated love.

Divya Khosla Kumar has chosen some fantastic locations in Laddakh, Canada and Himachal Pradesh. It displays her heightened aesthetic appeal and a majestic sense for pristine romance. Sameer Arya's camerawork makes the stunning locations a veritable eye treat. The beautiful mountains, breathtaking lakes, virgin sea beaches, you shall see some of the best locations displayed in a movie in the recent times.

Chartbuster Music is the best highlight of SANAM RE. Each and every song is simply outstanding. And Divya has picturized the songs with a clean heart and humungous romance. 'Sanam Re', 'Hua Hai Aaj Pehli Baar', 'Ghazab Ka Hai Ye Din', 'Kya Tujhe Ab Dil Ye Bataaye', 'Tere Liye' and 'Tum Bin' are great tracks and add dollops of romance and passion during the Valentine's season. 'Humne Pee Rakhi Hai' is a rocking dance number which is made special by the crafty dance moves of the hot and happening Divya Khosla Kumar herself.

Pulkit Samrat excels in a role that required him to be subtle and emote when he's not expected to say anything. He's in great shape and looks every bit the romantic icon on the lines of Salman Khan, Rajesh Khanna etc. Yami Gautam looks deliriously pretty and a perfect girl from the mountains. She surprises with her intensity and intensity. Urvashi Rautela is the surprise packet of the film. She looks beautiful, acts well and adds a solid oomph quotient to the film which is one of the highlight of the film. Rishi Kapoor always surprises with his laid back genius. He's a delight as the old man who moves you immensely and leaves you with a smile.

Sanjeev Datta has written the story and screenplay while Husain Dalal and Sanjeev Datta have written the dialogues. The writing has an old world charm with brilliance of Urdu thrown in. Chandrasekhar Prajapati's editing is lackluster and the only weak point of the film. The pace could have been slightly quicker. Divya Khosla Kumar displays a lot of maturity in tackling a complex subject with a lot of heart. She's a director to watch out for.

On the whole SANAM RE boasts of great visuals and chart buster music which has been the hallmark of T Series. Even though the pace of the movie acts as deterrent at places, its target audience and the right release week (Valentine period) will see it through at the box office. Go get soaked in love. Now.

Deadpool English

Over the past few years we have seen a rise in the number of superhero films. But this Friday promises to be a little different with the release of the much talked about and highly anticipated anti- superhero flick DEADPOOL. Going into the film, I had my apprehensions about the casting with Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool, more so after unfortunately having to watch him in a green CGI suit in GREEN LANTERN. Another concern that I faced was the fact that while normal superhero films are pretty much run of the mill with good vanquishing evil and mutant/ superhero standing tall taking the moral high ground of being better than the rest, Deadpool is the quintessential anti-hero who cares two hoots about others, focusing on his own agenda albeit with a weird sense of humour. So the big question was, will Ryan Reynolds make Deadpool seem like another Green Lantern or will he manage to pull off the loved yet hated comic character? Let's analyze.

The film starts off with Reynolds' character Deadpool sitting in the back seat of a cab, driven by an Indian named Bhupinder, played by Karan Soni with the iconic Bollywood number 'Mera Joota hai Japani' from the film Shree 420 playing in the background. Although a rather disjointed start the film then picks up with Deadpool taking the viewer down memory lane with his flashbacks at crucial moments filling up the gap that seemed ominous about his past being unknown. What's interesting here is that while Reynolds' character Wade Winston Wilson (his original self-prior to undergoing treatment for cancer) is just another person, his alter ego Deadpool is able to break through the proverbial 'Fourth Wall'. In lay man's terms, while Wade doesn't realize that he is just an actor in a film, Deadpool does and is able to communicate to the audience directly. Thanks to this ability, Deadpool speaks directly to the viewers as though he is one of them.

Enter the flashback mode with the guy in the red suit briefing the viewer about the film's back story where Reynolds plays a skilled ex-special forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who falls head over heels in lust with Morena Baccarin who plays his hot girlfriend, Vanessa. However, their dream of living an idyllic sex filled life is shattered when they discovering that Wilson has cancer of the brain, lungs and prostrate (as though one wasn't enough). Forced into an unavoidable situation, Wade signs up to a rogue experiment that subjects him to accelerated testing (read torture treatment) that eventually bring out his healing powers. The lab is run by Francis/Ajax (Ed Skrein) who himself is a bit of a mutant, whose brutal experiments turn Wade into an ugly, indestructible and at times obnoxious pain in the ass Deadpool. However, with his good looks ruined due to the experimentation, Wade is bent on revenge. Things come to a head after Ajax kidnaps Vanessa. Meanwhile, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) from the X-Men, try their best to convince Deadpool to join their team and become one of the good guys.

Coming to the performances, after watching Reynolds in and as GREEN LANTERN, the viewer's first thought was, why him! However, Reynolds surprises us as Deadpool with a spot on performance that quite literally more than makes up for his earlier misgivings as characters like Green Lantern, Hannible Cane (BLADE: TRINITY) and Nick Walker (RIPD). In fact the actor himself had stated that Deadpool will be the last comic book character he will ever portray though he is open to Deadpool sequels and/or cameos, a choice we approve. Morena Baccarin as Deadpool/ Wade Wilson's girlfriend Vanessa takes being the 'hot ass girlfriend' to the next level with her more than raunchy, scintillating act. Unfortunately, Ed Skrein as Ajax/ Francis Freeman does not impress, much like his character in TRANSPORTER REFUELED leaves a lot to be desired. For an arch nemesis to Deadpool, Ajax who himself is a mutant with super human strength and the ability to not feel pain is rather dry. Stefan Kapicic as Colossus and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead are limited to roles that play supporting characters coming across as more to set the premise to include Deadpool in the next X-MEN series. Gina Carano as Angel Dust, the mutant with insane strength, is pretty much there to kick Colossus' butt. However, she too fades away, with the film focusing totally on Deadpool.

As for the technical, the film keeps pace with intense action, unending rambling, flashback modes and witty dialogues. However, here too it does seem weak when it comes to the villains. Though the original comic book writers/creators Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld along with the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick inject an uncanny brand of humor into DEADPOOL, applause goes to Tim Miller for his full length film directorial debut.

On the whole, DEADPOOL is one part origin story, one part love story and whole lot of ass kicking action with brilliant, sharp, witty cuss filled humor of gore and theatricality with spot on yet subtle references to pop culture which is unmatched in this genre. A definite must watch for all superhero fans.

Ghayal Once Again

The year 1990 was really special for Bollywood's 'Punjab da puttar' Sunny Deol as it was in this year that his film GHAYAL (directed by Rajkumar Santoshi) went onto make history at the Box-Office. So much so that the echoes of 'Balwantrai ke kuttey', 'Jhakh marti hai police' and likes resonates and echoes amongst the cinegoers even today. Maybe that explains the reason as to why Sunny Deol has come up with this week's release GHAYAL ONCE AGAIN (which he has directed himself), a sequel to the original GHAYAL. Will GHAYAL ONCE AGAIN set the box-office on fire or will it get 'ghayal' err… 'hurt' at the Box-Office, lets analyze.

GHAYAL ONCE AGAIN starts off 15 years from where the first version left off. The film goes into the flashback mode wherein Ajay Mehra (Sunny Deol) shoots the villainous Balwant Rai (late Amrish Puri) and goes to jail. Years later, despite the fact that Ajay gets released from the jail, he still gets haunted by the flashes of the years gone by in his life. Ajay, who now is the chief of a news agency named 'Satyakaam', fights for every bit of the truth through his newspaper. And when he realizes (read 'discovers') that his arch rival Aditya Rajguru (Harsh Chhaya) is reason behind the killing of a young journalist Renu Sharma, Ajay goes hammer and tongs over Aditya and doesn't stop till the time he gets justice for the dead girl journalist by putting all the accused behind bars. Meanwhile, Ajay's close friend Joe D'souza (Om Puri), who is a retired DCP turned an active RTI activist gets killed by the business tycoon Raj Bansal (Narendra Jha)'s short tempered son in a fit of rage. Unknowingly, the whole incident accidentally gets captured in the camera that belongs to Anushka (Aanchal Munjal), who is best friends with Rohan (Shivam Patil), Zoya (Daina Khan) and Varun (Rishabh Arora). And when Raj Bansal gets to know about the secret video tape, he tells his henchmen to eliminate the four children as they pose extreme danger to him and well as to the image of his gigantic empire. Because of the immense respect and extreme faith in Ajay, the children get hell bent upon handing over the tape only to him, which Raj Bansal's men get to know through call tapping. In no time, they try and intercept every single way that would lead them to meet Ajay. On the other hand, Ajay's office gets 'raided' by various government departments. Do the children become successful in handing over the tape to Ajay, does Ajay become successful in exposing Raj Bansal and his nefarious activities and many such questions is what forms the rest of the film.

First things first. One has to give it to Sunny Deol for putting his heart and soul in the film as the director. However, even though his attempts look extremely sincere, what does not work for the film is that there are too many tracks (read 'stories') in the film that run simultaneously, thus confusing the viewers totally. Even the film's story (Sagar Pandya, Shaktimaan Talwar) is nothing new and suffers big time in the name of 'cinematic liberties'. The film's screenplay (Vishal Vijay Kumar, Sanjay Masoom) should have been written in order to suit today's taste. There are way too many flaws in the film. Many of the characters and their relationships remain unexplained till the end. For instance, Sunny Deol's profession oscillates between him being a news agency owner and a social activist. Is Soha Ali Khan merely a doctor who is treating Sunny, or is she also his girlfriend… and many such things. The final twist in the film is way too ridiculous and totally unbelievable. Even though the film starts off on a decent note, the first half becomes confusing towards the interval and then gets endlessly dragged throughout the second half. The biggest letdown in the film is absence of Sunny Deol's elements of trademark action and hard-hitting dialogues.

As for the performances, it's just not rocket science to say as to who leads the film right from the word 'go'- Sunny Deol. He does a sincere attempt as someone who cannot take no for an answer and cannot remain a mere spectator before injustice. Because of the fact that there were no trademark action scenes and mouthing of hard hitting one liners, it does become a bit of a disappointment for all his fans who will come to see Sunny Deol in his 'elements'. The veteran actors Om Puri and Neena Kulkarni are good. Soha Ali Khan, on the other hand, has a small role and nothing much to do. Even the likes of Harsh Chhaya and Tisca Chopra seem totally wasted. Narendra Jha does justice to his portrayal of a ruthless businessman that has been modeled on the lines of India's richest business tycoon. The four youngsters Aanchal, Shivam, Diana and Rishabh fail to impress.

The film's music (Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, Loy Mendonsa) is no great show, whereas, the film's background music (Vipin Mishra) is decent. While the film's cinematography (Ravi Yadav) is average, the film's editing (Chandan Arora) could have been much better. The chase sequences in the train and the mall and also the helicopter actions scenes could have been either avoided or done in a better fashion, in order to make the film look good and believable. The film's action scenes (Dan Bradley) are limited, but decent. The vfx used in the film is very amateurish.

On the whole GHAYAL ONCE AGAIN comes across as a shoddy and outdated attempt of the classic remake. Fans of Sunny Deol might patronize the movie; however the aam junta might not take a liking to it. As a result the movie will have a tough time at the box office.

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