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Movie Review: Phantom

Movie Review: Phantom

Rating:   (4 / 5)  : Very Good (Very Good )

There is only one explanation for Phantom: the cast and crew of the film really wanted a paid holiday. This in itself is not an objectionable aspiration. Who doesn't want to be able to bounce around London, Beirut, Chicago and other beautiful parts of the world, and get paid to do so? However, when the cost of that bouncing around is approximately Rs 55 crores and those who foot that bill expect the movie-going public to recover that amount as box office collection, things may get a little more complicated.

As an idea, Phantom crackles with possibility. Humiliated and furious after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) decides to send an operative on a covert mission to teach those who plotted against India a lesson. He is a man who goes unnoticed in crowds and who has evaded Google's all-seeing eye. He doesn't care if his target has a human side or redeeming qualities — if you had any part to play in the Mumbai attacks, the phantom wants you dead.

A shamed army officer, Daniyal Khan (Saif) is living a life of anonymity. Court-martialed because evidence points out that he was not with his team when the enemy attacked, he yearns to earn his stripes back. As it so happens, there is a covert intelligence group, who is seething that the Centre has not been able to avenge the 26/11 Mumbai carnage.
They know permissions from official quarters will not come. So, they just take it upon themselves to launch a `punish-those-terrorists' movement. After all, like one young officer (Zeeshan Ayub) says, 10 audacious guys from across the border did bring Mumbai to her knees on that fateful night in 2008, killing 166 people.

So Daniyal is despatched across continents to find the fanatic four who plotted 26/11. They even whisper to him that, he can `accidentally' kill .

Based on the book, Mumbai Avengers by Hussain Zaidi, Kabir Khan, fresh from the super-success of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, doesn't extend a hand of friendship to our neighbouring country in this one. Instead, he is clear that if they house the Laskhar-e-Taiba or allow militants like Haris Saeed (the cinema-counterpart of Hafiz Saeed) then the blood-thirsty Indian will take revenge.

To add glamour, Daniyal is accompanied by Nawaz Mistry (Katrina) who works on special assignments for Indian intelligence from London.

As the prologue says, the Taj Mahal Hotel at Apollo Bunder, blown up that fateful night has a new facade now. But our hearts are still bleeding. Yet, we're a passive country that lamely does things like refusing to play cricket with Pakistan, rather than go in for a frontal attack.

As cinema, this thriller is over-simplified, though the gloss adds to the large-screen appeal. Saif is adept; Kat is pretty appealing (pun on the pretty because her make-up is intact even in the battlefield). Zeeshan and his jingoism in the climax gives you that proud-India moment. And, if you're still licking the wounds of that senseless Mumbai massacre, then Phantom is the balm you should reach out for.

In case you haven't guessed, Haaris Saeed is the stand-in name for Hafiz Saeed. Evidently, his name was changed to Haaris at the last moment since when speaking of him, all the characters' lips say "Hafiz" but voices say "Haaris". Sajid Mir, the Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, doesn't enjoy that privilege. Even the photo that we're shown of him is quite similar to the photos of Mir that are in circulation.

Considering how Phantom cheerfully borrows from real life and makes no bones about ISI being in cahoots with Lashkar-e-Taiba, it isn't surprising that the film isn't being shown in Pakistan. However, considering just how much of a bore Phantom is, for once the Pakistani courts may just have done our neighbours a favour.


Movie Review: "NH10"

Movie Review: "NH10"

Rating:   (4 / 5)  : Very Good (Very Good )
Cast: Rajkumar Yadav, Anushka Sharma, Deepti Naval, Neil Bhoopalam, Ravi Jhankal
Director: Navdeep Singh
Producer: Vikramaditya Motwane, Anushka Sharma, Krishika Lulla, Karnesh Sharma, Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap
Production House: Phantom Productions, Eros International, Clean Slate Films
Music: Darshan Rathod, Sanjeev Rathod, Bann Chakraborty, Ayush Shrestha, Savera Mehta, Samira Koppikar
Background Music: Karan Gour, Lyrics: Kumaar, Abhiruchi Chand, Bann Chakraborty, Manoj Tapadia, Neeraj Rajawat, Varun Grover, Cinematography: Arvind Kannabiran, Editing: Jabeen Merchant, Story/Writer: Sudip Sharma, Action Direction: Armin Sauer, Abdul Salaam Ansari, Costume Design: Eka Lakhani
Release Date: Mar 13, 2015

s a stunning performance by playing an independent professional who is suddenly thrown into a violent situation. You can’t help but admire her for the conviction with which she has essayed her role. She is ably supported by Neil, who plays the caring husband and Darshan Kumaar, who is the antagonist. Dipti Naval impresses in her short cameo in the second half too.

The first half of the film is packed with nail-biting drama that unfolds in the most unexpected way. Somehow, the intensity level drops in the second half, but the unpredictable turn of events makes up for it. NH10 is a two-hour ride so brutal and ruthless, it leaves you jittery and shaken.

Why should you watch the film?
NH10 deserves a wat
- See more at:
Release Date: Mar 13, 2015Director: Navdeep SinghGenre: Thriller
Run time: 1 hr 55 minsLanguage: Hindi
Cast & Crew: Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Kumar, Deepti Naval
- See more at:
Release Date: Mar 13, 2015Director: Navdeep SinghGenre: Thriller
Run time: 1 hr 55 minsLanguage: Hindi
Cast & Crew: Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Kumar, Deepti Naval
- See more at:

Bad things happen in NH10.

That statement is both warning and promise: because Navdeep Singh’s new film is a tough film to stomach, a frightening and disturbing beast, and because it should be just that brutal, given how loyally it adheres to slasher/thriller genre conventions.

The thing about Singh, clearly, is the way he takes a familiar script or setup and makes it very Indian and very much his own.

The idea of two young urban lovers finding themselves in very harsh rural territory is a basic one but Navdeep is strikingly credible when it comes to dialect and flavour, and turns the Haryana belt outside Gurgaon into the most believable of badlands.

Everyone in those parts might not actually be evil incarnate, but from where we’re sitting, comfortably far away and constantly assailed by news of imperilled women and fundamentally messed-up defence lawyers, we’re all too willing to believe the nightmare Navdeep sets us.

NH10 is more a pure horror film than any of its companions in the slasher genre simply because we believe what we want to, and it feeds our fears.

Meera and Arjun are a young couple who aren’t quite on top of their game: she looks at him with regret in her eyes, he looks to be constantly seeking some form of escape from the hard parts of a relationship, and when in bed they wield individual laptops and send each other on-screen messages.

Things aren’t perfect, clearly, but sometimes a holiday can be potent tonic, and they head out to a small getaway not too far from the Gurgaon border.

They run into some honour-killing violence, and end up angering the killers. Things turn ugly… uglier than one might think.

I admit to wincing frequently as fresh, more violent misery was piled onto Meera’s helpless lot, and that is because of Anushka Sharma’s amazingly committed performance.

The movie’s masterstroke is to keep the audience squirming and the tension relentless by setting nearly 90% of the film in overwhelmingly linear fashion.

It makes the events feel like they’re taking place in realtime, but this takes its toll on Sharma who -- also brave enough to produce this film -- features in virtually every frame of the film and carries it on her athletic shoulders.

It is a bold choice as an actress and Anushka is at her absolute best as her eyes widen in disbelief at the growing horror around her.

A moment when she realises the preposterousness of goading a policeman into “doing his duty” is particularly stunning, as is a rousing scene later where she yells at her attackers.

She’s beaten down, on the run, powerless and defiant, and Anushka changes gears with immense authenticity, creating a character we can’t help but love.

And, more importantly, one we can’t help but feel for.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Schedule





































Movie Review : KHAMOSHIAN

Movie Review : KHAMOSHIAN
Rating: (Two stars)
Star Cast: Gurmeet Choudhary, Sapna Pubbi, Ali Fazal
Director: Karan Darra

Ali Fazal and Sapna Pabbi in KhamoshiyanKhamoshiyan is totally consumed by its cheesy scares-sex-scares-sex pattern, says Sukanya Verma.

Khamoshiyan, written by Vikram Bhatt and directed by debutant Karan Darra, is populated with such oversexed fools and, again, conveniently assumes the viewers will shove their brains in a corner as remote as the mansion on screen to revel in the cheap thrills that ensue.

It all begins when a one-book wonder (Ali Fazal) shaken by his bitter (read five minutes of flat out phoniness) breakup, ventures into the deep, desolate woods of Kashmir seeking inspiration for his next novel. It’s actually South Africa and that’s why such absolute nonexistence of army.

He’s instantly drawn to the manor’s lady, manager and housekeeper (Sapna Pabbi) as emphasized in the camera’s constant focus on her strategically bared cleavage. All that multitasking, plus nursing a bedridden husband (Gurmeet Chaudhary), would leave anyone sapped but her cold, robotic tone vies for a mystifying stature.

'Hum sab apne raaz ke shikaar hain,' she muses as if explaining why Vikram Bhatt is trapped in a horror rut.

Curious events ascertain that the site is haunted. Only Khamoshiyan is so consumed by its cheesy scares-sex-scares-sex pattern, the upshot is tacky and unintentionally hilarious. At one point, the exasperated ghoul actually has to explain the range of its supernatural mumbo jumbo to Khamoshiyan’s daft protagonists.

The demonic presence is one of the most juvenile representations of evil I’ve witnessed in a while.

As if it’s not humiliating enough that no one takes you seriously, the wretched thing has to resort to form shifting tactics that render it more mutant than monster. Also director Darra, please teach your bhoot some keyboard shortcuts, it’s embarrassing to see how much time it took to delete text from one measly document.

Thereafter Khamoshiyan slips into a hopeless mess of time worn ghost busting, freakish sights and comical gems like 'Hum yeh laash paidal nahi le jaa sakte.

Movie Review "PK"

Movie Review " PK "

Star Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sanjay Dutt, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla

Director: Rajkumar Hirani


Towards the end of P.K., Rajkumar Hirani’s new film with Aamir Khan in a lovable lead role, a Hindi film song about human values, sung by Mukesh, starts playing accidentally on a chunky tape recorder. It is the simplest of ironies considering the scene—nobody can miss it—but the juxtaposition of song and circumstance buttresses the film’s thesis in the most charming, non-confrontational way possible. This is typical Hirani. His three earlier films, Munna Bhai M.B.B.S (2003), Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) and 3 Idiots (2009), too combined the collective agony over systemic rot with a unique sense of childhood wonder and imagination. Buffoonery and physical humour are not ruled out. It works, even though it might mean breaking down an idea or argument to such a skeletal degree that intellect ceases to matter. It is argumentative, activist cinema softened by farcical humour and elemental emotions, and can appeal to the intellectual and the philistine alike if they are generally okay with the hyperbolic trappings of mainstream Hindi cinema. P.K. is firmly in that mould, although it presents its case better. Hirani and his writing partner Abhijat Joshi write a deft screenplay on the rationalist’s or agnostic’s argument: that propagators of organized religion thrive on the fear of those who flock to them. Aamir Khan plays the title role, an unworldly character torn between logic and faith, perplexed by his inability to understand the ways of faith and dogma. He meets a journalist, Jagat Janani or Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), a reporter with a television news channel who finds potential for a provocative story in PK’s journey from a Rajasthani village, where the burly head of a local brass band (Sanjay Dutt) sheltered him, to consumerist Delhi. PK is in desperate search of a remote control, and to get to it, he has to deal with the manipulations of religious heads, including a guru who “communicates” with God and offers remedies for any life-threatening problem. Jaggu convinces her editor (Boman Irani), a market savant more than an editor, to let PK begin a conversation about organized religion on their channel. The media team pitches PK against the guru and forces a national debate. PK is unwittingly the rationalist, and clearly represents the writers’ voice and world view. The lengthy film, spanning about 3 hours, progresses in vignettes, all emphasizing PK’s point. We see PK approaching the doors of a mosque clutching two bottles of wine, barrels of milk spilling over oversized Hindu gods, PK walking into a church filled with devotees with a Hindu pooja thali and incense sticks, and an unforgettably funny sequence of PK’s encounter with a performer painted blue as the Hindu god Shiva, in a public toilet. The gentle ironies do not hide the film’s unflinching view on majoritarianism and religious oppression. I don’t remember the last time a Hindi film-maker made such fun of the devout Hindu. It is a splendid thing to happen once in a while in cinema, because idol worship and religious taboos play out routinely in most films. Khan is immersed in PK’s innocence and staunchness, though he uses staple tricks to communicate the oddball mannerisms of his character. The overarched eyebrows, widened eyes and pursed lips seem laboured in some of the scenes, though the sharp dialogue makes it easy to ignore this. We have seen Khan as an impossible amalgamation of philosopher, gentleman, superhero and comic in 3 Idiots. Here too, the projection of a man who knows it all without knowing anything about the world has an exalted aura. But PK is still an extremely lovable and winsome fellow, and Khan has much to do with that. Sharma’s Jaggu is a competent act, without frills or gimmicks, and in their small roles, Dutt, Irani, Sushant Singh Rajput and Saurabh Shukla leave their mark. The plot begins to bloat after the interval and the histrionics of staged debates, reiterating the theme, scene after scene, argument after argument, begins to tire. But even so, PK’s potential triumph over an exploitative godman, the villain of the film, is a climax worth the wait. Through the movies of Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy and others, Hindi film lovers of a certain vintage are familiar with romantic ideas like love for humanity and rejection of religious and nationalistic barriers. But with a cross-country, inter-religious love story in their screenplay, Hirani and Joshi are closer to Nehruvian ideals of rationalism, scientific temper and socialism. P.K. is a dialectic on religion on the big screen, without much of the splendour of cinematic technique. It is rooted in dialogue, scene and character, like Hirani’s other films. But the director’s biggest feat is the idea, its effortless translation and its politics. Someone in the broad-stroke canvas of populist Hindi cinema has finally spoken on behalf of the agnostic. Given the news headlines, how much more relevant can that get?