Traffic

This week sees the release of three films of diverse genres. These three films include the horror thriller 1920 LONDON, followed by the relationship drama ONE NIGHT STAND and the hard hitting film TRAFFIC that happens to be a remake of a 2011 Malayalam hit by the same name. Will the Hindi version of TRAFFIC manage to create a traffic-jam of the cinegoers at the theaters or will it see red signal the Box-Office, let's analyze.

The film starts off with the narration (voiceover) of Manoj Bajpayee wherein he speaks about life in general. This is followed by the day in the life of all the leading characters of the film, which includes the tainted traffic constable Ramdas Godbole (Manoj Bajpayee), 'extremely busy' filmstar Dev Kapoor (Prosenjit Chatterjee), his wife Maya (Divya Dutta), Dr. Ahmed Ali (Sachin Khedekar) and his wife (Kitu Gidwani). An unfortunate bike accident lands up Dr. Ali's only son Rehan Ali (Vishal Singh) battling for his life in a hospital, without any hopes of survival. His parents are left with a mobile recording of their film reporter son Rehan preparing for his 'lifetime interview' with filmstar Dev Kapoor. On the other hand, Dev Kapoor's young daughter Ria gets hospitalized in Pune, as she is suffering from a rare ailment called 'Dilated Cardiomyopathy'. The only way she could be saved is by having a heart transplant done on her through a suitable donor. As luck would have it, Rehan's heart becomes the perfect match (donor) for Ria (recipient). But the problem arises in the form of distance between the two cities (Mumbai and Pune) and the time duration in which the heart needs to be transplanted. After ruling out all the possibilities of transport, it gets decided that Rehan's heart will be transported from Mumbai to Pune by road. Though initially reluctant, Mumbai Police Traffic Commissioner Gurbir Singh (Jimmy Shergill), later, undertakes the task of saving Ria's life. And the person chosen for the job is the self-motivated traffic constable Ramdas Godbole, who wants to erase the bribe's stain off his uniform. Considering all the possible roadblocks (quite literally) and the bottleneck traffic that Mumbai is subjected to everyday, does a guilt-ridden constable Godbole become successful in transporting an extremely sensitive human heart from Mumbai to Pune, or does he fail in the assigned task is what forms the main crux of the film.

Even though (late) Rajesh Pillai has directed a handful of south Indian films, TRAFFIC happens to be his first Hindi film as a director. One really has to applaud him for the conviction with which he has treated the subject of heart transplant. His direction complements the film's narrative and also every character in the film. Full marks to him for the way in which he has extracted some of the amazing performances from the actors. The film's screenplay (Suresh Nair) is outstanding and its story (Bobby Sanjay) extremely believable without resorting to any over the top antics. The film's first half maybe slow in establishing the film's story, but it's the film's fast pacy second half that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats till the end. What actually plays the 'villain' in the film's narrative though are the numerous 'cinematic liberties' that the filmmaker has taken in order to establish the film.

As for the performances, despite the 'script being the king', the film rides equally on the shoulders of the seasoned performer Manoj Bajpayee, Divya Dutta, Jimmy Shergill and Prosenjit Chatterjee. The conviction with which Manoj Bajpayee has handled the nuances of his character is simply outstanding, so much so that one just cannot imagine any other actor in his place. The other show stealer is Divya Dutta who simply shines in her character of a helpless mother. Jimmy Shergill, on the other hand, delivers a decent performance in his role of a Police Commissioner. Prosenjit Chatterjee does a commendable job of an 'eternally busy' superstar.

While the film's music (Mithoon) is average, it's the film's background score (Nitin Ketke) that is impressive. The film's cinematography (Santhosh Thundiyil, Anil Lal) is decent. The film's editing (Nishant Radhakrishnan, Mahesh Narayanan) could have been tighter, especially in the film's first half.

On the whole, TRAFFIC will appeal to very limited audiences and will have a tough run at the box-office.
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Captain America Civil War English

2016 seems to be the year for films based on comic books, with multiple such films hitting screens. But it is the audiences, who are more than happy to witness superheroes battle the forces of evil on screen, who are certainly in for a definite treat with the release of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. However, will the film that has managed to generate immense hype manage to live up to expectations is the big question.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR follows the story of what happens when political pressure to install a system of accountability headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team begins to mount after yet another incident involving the Avengers ends with severe collateral damage. This ultimately results in the Avengers fracturing into two groups, one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without interference by the government, and the other led by Tony Stark whose decision is to support government's oversight and accountability.

The film starts off with the camera panning across a vast inhabited frozen landscape to a bunker, wherein a soldier is seen speak Russian words to a docile Bucky aka Winter Soldier, conditioning his neural response to one that can be controlled with suggestions. From here the film moves to an ongoing fight in Lagos between a part of the Avengers team and terrorists after a biological hazard led by Brock Rumlow. The Avengers manage to stop Rumlow in his endeavour, but Maximoff loses control of her powers and causes a nearby building to collapse, killing several Wakandan relief aid workers. Meanwhile, after giving a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tony Stark is confronted by a woman whose son was killed in the Battle of Sokovia. Following this confrontation, Tony leads Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross to the new Avengers facility to inform the team that the United Nations has established a legislative bill that will serve to monitor and police the rapidly growing number of super humans. The team is divided over the act: Stark supports the accords because he feels responsible for his role in creating Ultron, while Rogers refuses to trust the government after discovering that HYDRA was secretly operating within S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the meeting is cut short when Rogers is called away after learning that Peggy Carter has died.

Agent Romanoff follows Rogers to London in the hopes of convincing the latter to sign the Accords, but Rogers makes it clear that he will not. Following this Romanoff travels to Vienna, where several heads of state have gathered to ratify the accords, among them King T'Chaka of Wakanda and his son Prince T'Challa. When T'Chaka prepares to make the keynote address, the building is struck by a terrorist bombing, killing T'Chaka and several others. Security footage reveals Barnes is responsible and T'Challa vows to personally avenge his father's death. Over Romanoff's objections, Rogers and Wilson decide to find Barnes themselves, only to be arrested along with T'Challa after capturing Barnes. While in captivity, Barnes is released by Colonel Helmut Zemo, only to embark on a rampage after he uses the trigger word HYDRA had programmed him with. Rogers and Wilson manage to stop him and learn that Zemo is heading to the facility where he and other Winter Soldiers were created. Rogers recruits Wanda, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to help him. Stark convinces Ross to let him bring his renegade comrades in, and assembles Romanoff, T'Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to intercept them at Leipzig/Halle Airport. Romanoff lets Rogers and Barnes escape in Stark's Quinjet, while the rest of their team are captured. Rhodes suffers severe spinal injuries after he is accidentally blasted by Vision. Romanoff reveals to Stark that Barnes was framed by Zemo. But will the rest of the team which includes Rogers, Ant-Man, Bucky, Clint Barton, Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlett Witch) join Tony Stark and team in signing the Accords or will they eventually form a renegade new team is what the rest of the film is about.

What sets CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR apart from the previously released films THE AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA or even IRON MAN series is the fact that right from the start the viewer notices a gradual shift in focus from technicality to that of a more emotion filled yet relatable battle between contradicting ideologies. Though the film still retains its share of gadgetry and action, it focuses mainly of the human struggle of the team that is growing apart. However, this does not diminish the fact that the film is replete with action sequences that will keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. Well executed and perfectly synchronized, the action sequences are spaced out well so as to give the viewer a breather with the interlaced human drama. In fact directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo have done a brilliant job with executing the film's proceedings in a way to keep the audience hooked. Especially the action sequence between team Captain America and team Iron Man is the biggest highlight of the movie, as it has brilliant visuals layered with witty lines exchanged between the characters.

Coming to the performances, unlike Tony Stark's previous avatar, in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Robert Downey Jr.'s character seems more muted in terms of his sarcastic, narcissistic, witty rebuttals. Instead the character of Stark is the one who provides an emotional connect with the audience right through the first half of the film. On the other hand, Chris Evans as Captain America/ Steve Rogers who has up till now been the soldier with the human touch is thrown full swing into an action packed avatar while he struggles with the ideology of loyalty towards his onetime friend Bucky Barnes and his current Avengers team. Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow/ Natasha Romanoff is very well depicted. Her inner turmoil of being torn between supporting Rogers' with whom she shared a bond in the previous film and her logical support for Stark's idea of the accords is well executed.

However, the highlight of the film is the introduction of two new characters viz. Black Panther and Spider Man. While the latter has been much talked about as just a cameo, Spidey fans will be happy to note that though short, his role is definitely not a cameo. Tom Holland as Spider Man/ Peter Parker is perfect eclipsing the previous actor who portrayed the same character on screen. Here again directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done well in setting up the character for a future franchise series. But it is Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa / Black Panther who steals the show with him playing a major part in helping the audience connect the pieces.

Overall, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is a story heavy film and shows the emotional journey of The Avengers, especially Captain America and Iron Man. The film has some mind blowing action sequences with the introduction of new Superheroes joining the team. A definite must watch.
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Baaghi

Exactly in the year 1990, released a film titled BAAGHI: A REBEL FOR LOVE that starred Salman Khan and Naghma, which was Salman Khan's second big release. Exactly 26 years later, Bollywood today witnesses a film with the same title BAAGHI, starring Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor. This film, incidentally also happens to be Tiger Shroff's second film. Will this film help Tiger Shroff to reach dizzying heights like his 'predecessor' or will it prove to be a 'rebel with a pause' at the box-office, lets' analyze.

The film starts off with the introduction of Ronny (Tiger Shroff) and the kidnapping of Sia (Shraddha Kapoor). Desperate for money for the treatment of a young boy, Ronny undertakes the task of getting back Sia from the clutches of the villainous Raghav (Sudheer Babu). As he boards the flight, the viewers are treated to a flashback of events that connects Ronny's yesterday with his today. The flashback of events reflect the blooming love story between Ronny and Sia and how Sia's money minded father (Sunil Grover) plays the villain in their love story and agrees to marry her off to Raghav, who lures him with oodles of money. Because of a certain misunderstanding between Ronny and Sia, their relationship goes for a toss. Ronny, meanwhile, at the behest of his late father Colonel Samarjeet Singh, unwillingly becomes the student in the Kerala based Academy Of Kalaripayattu, that's run by Guruji (Grandmaster Shifuji Shaurya Bharadwaj). In due course of time, Guruji tames the wild and carefree Ronny into an extremely disciplined student… in other words, a rebel with a cause. But, when Guruji gets to know about his son Raghav's plan of forcibly marrying Sia, he raises strong objection. That's when the emotionless Raghav kills his father. And when Ronny gets to know that Raghav, who has Sia as his captive, is also the one who killed Guruji, hell breaks loose and Ronny becomes uncontrollable. But, the catch is that, in order to reach Raghav, Ronny has to tackle a battalion of henchmen because Raghav stays in the well protected 'layered' building, whose each floor is also the domain of his extremely well trained henchmen. Does Ronny becomes successful in reaching Raghav despite all the odds, is he able to clear Sia's misunderstanding towards him, does he become successful to avenge the killing of his Guruji and is he able to rescue his ladylove Sia from Raghav's captive is what forms the rest of the film.

The story of the film is simple and caters to the masses, and this is where the film scores. The film's screenplay (Sanjeev Dutta), which is loosely based on Hollywood flick THE RAID REDEMPTION, is decent and convincing. The way it establishes the characters and their respective characteristics is indeed laudable.

The film's director Sabbir Khan, whose last film was HEROPANTI (Tiger Shroff's debut film), does a good job with BAAGHI. The comfort level between Sabbir Khan and Tiger Shroff works in the favour of the film. The way in which Sabbir Khan has shot action sequences is praiseworthy. Given Tiger Shroff's natural flair for action, the film looks very stylish and the person who needs to be credited for that is Sabbir Khan. In other words, Sabbir Khan has rightfully tapped Tiger Shroff's biggest strength and forte: action. Despite good direction, the film suffers from some loopholes in the script. The film's narrative is gripping though and has its strong moments. Even though the romance in the film is not well defined, the action sequences in the film more than makes up for the same.

As for as the performances are concerned, the film rides on the shoulders of the young guns, Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor. It is really nice to see Tiger Shroff playing to his (core) strengths. Besides his introduction scene in the film (which will surely be greeted with seetis and talis), his effortless action is a visual delight to watch. Like mentioned earlier, action being his forte, he is at ease in the film. The romantic chemistry that he shares with Shraddha Kapoor is decent. The way in which he flaunts his chiselled, well-sculpted physique with six packs uninhibitedly, gets him the brownie points (esp during the action sequences, which he has performed without the body double). With this film, he definitely takes the action level notches higher. Testimony to this are the scenes where he rescues the kid and followed by his confrontation with the villain. As for Shraddha Kapoor, she has definitely tried her level best to match upto the requirements of her character. Be ready to be surprised to see her throwing some punches in the extremely well choreographed action sequences. Besides looking extremely gorgeous, her endearing screen presence makes her and Tiger Shroff a beautiful on-screen couple. BAAGHI also heralds the arrival of a new baddie in Bollywood by the name of Sudheer Babu, an actor from down south. The way in which he conveys through his eyes and expressions is something to watch out for. With a hero like Tiger Shroff, who is so very powerful in action, the movie really needed a villain who could complement and match his antics. And Sudheer does an exemplary task of matching up with him in every frame. Besides making an impactful and terrific debut in the film, he is definitely an actor to watch out for. The veteran Sanjay Mishra's comedy makes up for the light moments in the action movie. A special mention to Grandmaster Shifuji Shaurya Bharadwaj for his unabashed and raw screen presence. The rest of the characters help in moving the film forward.

Despite the fact that the film's music (Meet Bros, Amaal Mallik, Ankit Tiwari, Manj Musik) is decent, it could have been a bit better. The lack of a chartbuster track is sorely felt in the film. The film's background music (Julius Packiam) is brilliant and gives the movie it's pace. A special mention to the film's action directors by Kecha Khamphakdee and Javed-Aejaz who have done an excellent job. Do not miss the film's penultimate 30-minute long action sequence that leaves you spellbound.

The film's cinematography (Binod Pradhan) is top rate. The way in which he has presented the fabulous locales of Kerala and Thailand make the film nothing short of a visually stunning experience. On the other hand, the film's editing (Manan Sagar) is tight.

On the whole, BAAGHI is a typical masala entertainer which scores high on action and performances from the lead cast. With focus on entertainment, the film is, without a doubt, the best action film to come out of Bollywood in recent times. It has all the merits to hit the jackpot. At the box office, it will be lapped up by the masses on the account of its masala quotient. Highly recommended.
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The Man Who Knew Infinity English

Our country has produced some great men who have left an incredible mark in various fields but very little is known about some of them. One of the Hollywood releases of the week, THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY, attempts to enlighten not just Indians but viewers across the world about Srinivasa Ramanujan, a pioneer in mathematical theories. Mr. Ramanujan had a fascinating life but have the makers succeeded in putting it up on celluloid in the best possible way? Let's analyze

Set in 1914, the film begins with the portrayal of the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), a young teenager who hails from Madras and is passionate about mathematics. He realizes he is gifted and jots down his findings in a book. Ramanujan's boss Narayana Iyer (Dhritiman Chatterjee) encourages him to share some of his findings with the well-known professor of Trinity College, Cambridge, G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons). Impressed, Professor Hardy invites Ramanujan to Trinity despite opposition from certain quarters. Ramanujan who has just got married to Janaki (Devika Bhise) moves to London with a heavy heart but once there, he totally immerses himself in proving that his theories are accurate despite hordes of challenges that come across his way. Whether he succeeds in his endeavour is what the rest of the film is all about.

The film begins on a decent note and special reference to Ramanujan's entry scene which is quite impressive. But it takes a while for the film to really connect with the audiences. Moreover, the film lacks certain dramatic moments especially when it had the scope for such sequences. Though in a way, this is a good move since it helps in keeping the realism intact, however, on the flip side, such moments could have added an impact.

Though the plot has retained its authenticity of a biopic, there are several dips in the script. The bond shared by Ramanujan with wife Janaki seems a tad bit unbelievable. A major conflict point in the film is Janaki's letters not reaching Ramanujan as his mother never posts them. But it's never established why Janaki gave his mother the letters to be posted when she could have done it herself. Lastly, the film is about mathematics and those who don't really have an interest in the subject may find it difficult to comprehend what's going on. However, the execution is more to blame here. A similar film released last year, The Imitation Game, though complex, it was easier to understand as well as had a far more engaging narrative. In case of THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY, the execution could have been better in this regard. Matt Brown's direction is simple and works to an extent. But it could have worked better if the film had more exciting moments.

Having said that, the film has some great moments to boast about. The scenes shot in India look quite appealing. The final 30 minutes are the high point of the film. One does empathize with Ramanujan especially thanks to the struggles that he faces.

Some of the performances are quite praiseworthy. This is one of Dev Patel's performances which he will surely be remembered for. Initially, his act and the accent remind us about one of his performance in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel though. Yet, he delivers a fine performance and captures the passion and excitement of his character well. Jeremy Irons is quite impressive and some of his scenes with Dev are quite delightful as they are something that viewers would enjoy. Devika Bhise has a nice screen presence but has limited screen time. Dhritiman Chatterjee has even lesser screen time but he leaves a mark. Toby Jones (Littlewood) is efficient while Arundathi Nag (Ramanujan's mother) is strictly okay.

The film scores in its technical departments. Coby Brown's music is fine while Ann Maskrey's costumes and Luciana Arrighi's production design are quite authentic and appealing.

On the whole, THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY is worth watching as it makes an earnest attempt in enlightening viewers about a great mind who left an incredible mark in the field of Mathematics. Though there are some great performances and sequences, the shortcomings make it just a one-time watch.
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Santa Banta Pvt Ltd

One has often heard jokes revolving around two funny but affable characters named Santa Singh and Banta Singh. Taking inspiration from them, director Akashdeep Sabir has made a film by the name of SANTA BANTA PVT LTD. Will the film turn out to be as successful as the 'brand' Santa and Banta or will it become a 'laughing stock' at the box-office, let's analyse.

The film starts off with the animated introduction of two best friends viz., Santeshwar Singh Solad aka Santa (Boman Irani) and Banteshwar Singh Bolad aka Banta (Vir Das) leading their crazy but simple lives in Punjab. Meanwhile, in Fiji, the High Commissioner Shankar (Ayub Khan) suddenly gets kidnapped under mysterious circumstances, an incident that causes immense unrest amongst the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) officials in India as well as in Fiji. The Indian RAW officials, then, plan to send two secret agents Santa and Banta in order to rescues Shankar. When the Indian RAW officer (Vijay Raaz) fails to track down the RAW-assigned Santa and Banta, he gets petrified and scared. That's when he bumps upon the Santa-Banta namesake in the form of Boman Irani and Vir Das. The duo, then, get transported to Fiji with the sole objective of tracing Shankar. When Santa-Banta reach Fiji, what happens after that is beyond their imagination. Out there, they land up meeting Shankar's wife Kareena Roy (Neha Dhupia), Shankar's best friend Sonu Sultan (Ram Kapoor) and also Fiji's RAW agents Cutie (Lisa Haydon) and Akbar Illahabaadi (Sanjay Mishra) and the 'gang' of the Kukri-yielding Nepal's No. 1 Don (Johnny Lever). After their initial hiccups while 'investigating' the case, one fine day Kareena Roy meets Santa and Banta and confesses that she has a strong feeling that her husband has not been kidnapped, but, he has gone underground on his own. In the meantime, Sonu Sultan discovers the truth about Santa and Banta and engages his henchmen to bump them off. Will Santa and Banta, despite not being 'qualified' for the job, be able to crack Shankar's mysterious kidnapping, does Sonu Sultan succeed in bumping the duo off, what happens to Shankar in the end is what forms the rest of the film.

Right from the word go, the film's screenplay (Asad Ajmeri - Akashdeep) fails to establish any kind of connect with the audience. And it is this disconnect that actually acts as a roadblock for the film at regular intervals, thus making the film into an extremely boring and lacklustre affair. It won't be wrong to say that the film has (Asad Ajmeri - Pawan Soni) an apology of a script. And it is purely because of this reason, that even the film's screenplay falls absolutely flat on the face. It seems that, with such a kind of screenplay, the audiences are either being tested for their patience levels or are being taken for a royal ride! One really wonders as to how (and under what unavoidable circumstances) the film's script was approved in the first place. In addition to that, one also wonders about the reason as to how could some of the most seasoned actors of Bollywood gave their nod to be a part of this senseless film. Added to all of the aforementioned factors is the insipid direction (Akashdeep) that takes the film nowhere. The director has failed miserably in his task of creating a film that shares its name with the duo (Santa and Banta), who are best known for their senseless but funny jokes. But, with this film, Akashdeep seems to have made a mockery of not just the film, but also the laurels which the characters Santa and Banta enjoy. The film has got a vague first half as much as the senseless second half. The jokes in the film (which are supposed to invoke laughter) fall flat totally and end up irritating (to the core) the audience after a while. With the kind of proceedings that the film exhibits, one does really feel that, rather than taking resort to the jokes/one liners that the movie has, the film's makers could have incorporated jokes/gags from the innumerable Santa-Banta joke bank that is freely available. In totality, SANTA BANTA PVT LTD could be easily termed as one of the worst film of 2016 so far.

As for the performances, the film rests totally on the shoulders and antics (in that order) of the duo of Vir Das and Boman Irani. While Vir Das is not new to such kind of quirky and whacked out roles (most of his past films serve testimonies to this), it is the seasoned Boman Irani who manages to maintain some balance in the film. Even though the camaraderie between the two is decent, it's the film's lacklustre and weak script that plays the spoilsport. The film's heroines viz., Neha Dhupia and Lisa Haydon, do their job of providing the glam quotient. The talents of seasoned actors like Johny Lever, Ram Kapoor, Vijay Raaz and Sanjay Mishra, which could have been utilised in a much appropriate manner, land up looking either out spaced or wasted in the film. Nothing, but the hopelessly poor script is the sole reason for this.

With absolutely no hummable songs to boast, the film's music (Jaidev Kumar, Jassi Katyal, Nadeem Amjad) is a big let-down. While the film's cinematography (Chirantan Das) is totally average, the film's editing (Nitin Rokade) is nothing great to write about.

On the whole, SANTA BANTA PVT LTD. suffers due a weak script. At the box office, it will be a non-starter and its prospects will remain bleak.
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