Bonnie

…Tillotama Shome in A Death In The Gunj

Every time I watch Konkona Sensharma’s A Death In The Gunj, I take out something different from it. Every single time I’ve had a bias towards some other character, I like some scene more than another, I fall in love with just another dialogue. But what doesn’t change is my love for Sensharma’s writing. When I watched the film today, I fell in love with Tillotatma Shome’s Bonnie. 

Bonnie is a kind of person we would meet in our everyday life. She’s a protective mother, the perfect daughter-in-law, a loving wife and an amazing friend, whether to Mimi or Vikram or Brian or even Shutu for that matter. She has a beautiful collection of sarees and shawls, she smokes with a kind of sass and ease at the same time which is tough to pull. Konkona seems to have taken a lot of time (and done a lot of research) while writing this character. And even though, all of us have a Bonnie in our lives, there is something different about Sensharma’s Bonnie. 

What works best for this character is the impeccable acting by Tillotama Shome. I had perhaps fallen in love with her craft in Monsoon Wedding. She’s recently played powerful roles in Qissa and Hindi Medium as well. Though her role in Hindi Medium is short, she owns the screen even when Irrfan Khan is on screen. Shome has always had a hold over the character she plays, no matter what she plays. Even in ADITG, Shome plays Bonnie like no one else could have. Even though I felt that Priyanka Bose and Sensharma herself would have played this character with equal ease, but Shome brings a certain texture to Bonnie that maybe just she could have. The raising of eyebrows, the (so natural) laughter at the dinner table, the tears in her eyes when Tani is lost, the irritation on her face when Mimi isn’t done cutting the tomatoes, everything is done with a kind of natural grace that we don’t see so regularly in Hindi Cinema. 

Basically, Bonnie, you have my heart! 

Hindi Medium: 1 run short of a century

Here’s a film you cannot miss…

Has human greed overpowered our emotions so much that we cannot look behind materialistic instincts? Hindi Medium is the answer to the same. The story is everything you saw in the trailer, no surprises here. As the title suggests, the film doesn’t deal with the problem of Hindi-English in our country alone. It also talks about greed, poverty and how a poor man’s life is better than a rich man’s; how his heart is bigger than a rich man’s. So Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar want to get their daughter admitted to the biggest, most popular and elite school of New Delhi, The Delhi Grammar School (which is, by the way, Modern School). And to get this done, jaan laga dete hai yeh log. They even pretend to be poor, to get admission through gareeb quota. 

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Now this story is very relatable. I’ve studied in one of the top 10 prestigious schools in our country (not bragging) and I thank my parents for that. But there were students in my class who had taken admission through the gareeb quota. Now I don’t really know about the atrocities against them, but of course there was a difference between them and us. Like, we did not create a difference or think that they weren’t a part of us, but the differences were just there and unspoken of.

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Back to the film. This film is just almost there. One more step and ‘yay, victory’! Where the film lacks from being a 10/10 is the second half, which, by the way, is the best they could have done. Though it is a little stretched, and I am not complaining at all. Had that extra bit been a little edited, this would have been a century. So now, it’s a run out at 99!

What makes the movie so perfect is the acting! Irrfan Khan will never ever fail to stun you. Is there anything that this man cannot do? No! His dialogue delivery is perfect, comic timing is perfect, dancing is also perfect and so is his romance! Matlab kuch galat nahi karta hai banda. Saba Qamar is a perfect find! This woman has acted in many Pakistani TV shows and Urdu films and is oh-so-talented. She catches hold of every single nuance of Meeta’s character with ease. There also is my favourite, Deepak Dobrial. Mann karta hai jaake ek jhappi le lu bande ki. He is so so so talented that there is no limit. His comic timing, serious dialogues, laughing, crying, all are brilliant! Swati Das makes her debut with Hindi Medium in a supporting role and is, like everyone else, perfect! She gets her accent on point and nails it while playing a poor man’s wife. There even is Tillotama Shome. I last saw Shome in A Death in the Gunj and she plays even this character, of a consulting agent, with equal panache! Dishita Sehgal plays Pia and even she is perfect! And, I couldn’t have asked for a better Principal than Amrita Singh.

The writing of Hindi Medium is crisp. Nothing is overdone, nothing remains underdone. The screenplay is how good screenplays are written. Here are my two favourite dialogues:

“Na aegi khushi, na rahega ghum…”

“Humare paas hai hi kya, dau pe lagane ke lie?”

-Deepak Dobrial

All in all, Hindi Medium is a film you should all watch, specially young parents.

If I had to rate the film, 25% seats are reserved for the poor, in good schools and the rich want them too. Think about it, we all have a role to play!

Sarkar 3: Sorry, but what did I just watch?

Sarkar 3 is not worth you time or money…

I don’t want to waste any more time on this film, but I have a lot to say about it – all negative – so I don’t know how long will this video be…

Now, honestly I haven’t watched the second part but even if you don’t, it doesn’t make a difference, because:

  1. You should not watch the film.
  2. If you do, you’ll understand.

So let’s begin with my list of problems. The first being the camera angles. I know Ram Gopal Varma does shoot from weird angles, but itna? I mean Amitabh Bachchan is speaking and you focus on a dog artifact, in fact a pug, which later Jackie Shroff pets. Slow claps. Similarly, a laughing buddha statue is given more importance than Yami Gautam in a scene, or maybe in the entire film. CCD cups are given more importance than her. Arey yeh sab chodo, her foot and palms are given more importance than her face. And every time someone enters or exits Sarkar’s meeting room, the focus is on Ganesh Ji’s statue on the wall…

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Second, dialogues. Matlab 4-5 script padhi, dialogues churae, likh die. Mera naam Shivaji hai, Shivaji Nagre, naam toh suna hoga. And chalo theek hai aise dialogues, but actors ne objection nahi uthaya? Specially Yami Guatam, because there is a dialogue from Kaabil too. And there were some original dialogues too, like Jackie Shroff says to a nameless bimbo, “jin jin ko maine ring pehnai hai, woh mar gai”. Kya? Amit Sadh says to Yami, “Ek baar Sarkar khatm, phir sirf tum aur mei” Kya? Tum aur mei kya? Pehle dialogue toh khatm karo, phir Sarkar ko khatm karna.

Third, machoism ki toh vaat laga di. Matlab hatta katta Amit Sadh hai, and what’s his name, Chikoo. Not kidding. And even more hatta katta is Ronit Roy, but he is crying in the film. Aapne mujhpe shaq kia Sarkar…

Fourth, the background score.

Next, lets just not go to the acting. Matlab everyone has probably said bad things about it, so lets not go there and waste out time. Now you’ll think if even Bachchan Saab has acted bad. There is no potentiality in the script, or the director, to bring out the talent of the actors. Amit Sadh seems to have signed the film just to work with Amitabh Bachchan.

And, why is everyone wearing Colaba Causeway, Sarojini Nagar clothes and shades? Why? Budget nahi tha? Gareebo mei baat dete jitna paisa tha. Sukhi hota aaj yeh sansaar.

All in all, don’t you bother going for this film.

If I had to rate this film, 350 bucks at Metro Cinema ke layak nahi hai yeh film. Paying even 100 bucks at Sterling is a waste. Aap bhi gareebo mei baat do, thode paap dhul jaenge…

Meri Pyaari Bindu: Abhimanyu and Bindu are characters meant to remember, like old songs…

Though Bindu says “Pyaar ke baare mei kya naya kaha jaa sakta hai,” Meri Pyaari Bindu is just the new thing about love…

Can you imagine Parineeti Chopra in a proper Fab India saree? Even I couldn’t, until I saw Meri Pyaari Bindu. And trust me, she looks gorgeous…

First things first, what the film is about. Now this, is not a plot driven film, so don’t try to search for one. This is a more character based film, and not just Abhimanyu and Bindu – their typical Bengali parents, who are by the way very loud – but that is how we Calcutta people are – then there is a roommate who is obsessed with Big Boss, and even the cities of Mumbai and Kolkata are treated as characters. And it is here where the beauty of the film lies.

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The title of the film has been inspired from Saira Banu’s film Padosan, and so is Bindu’s character. A lot many songs have been borrowed from old times which is, which is just – aaahhhh I fell in love. Anyway, so Bindu is a wild character who wants to explore more in life. Abhimanyu Bubla Roy is the opposite. Banda settled hai, kamata hai, 5 saal baad shaadi karna chahta hai, so basically all is good.

Debutant director Akshay Roy and writer Suprotim Sengupta handle this story with a certain comfort. The narrative, as I said, doesn’t have a lot of meat but the characterisation is intelligent. Though, as most Hindi films, the second half does take a dip.

Sachin-Jigar do a beautiful job with the music and not one song is out of place. My favourite is Monali Thakur’s Khol De Baahein.

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Now let’s come to the best part of the film, the lead pair. Ayushmann Khurrana is effortlessly charming and I am not just talking about his looks, but more about his acting skills. I always have my doubts about Hindi film actors playing Bengali characters, but Khurrana fits right in place. Parineeti Chopra is also gracious. She last made an appearance in  the 2014 film, Kill Dil, and I am glad she took a break, because now she is back, and there is no stopping. Though she looked like she was out of a fashion magazine. This is not a Vogue shoot. It’s a film, you can’t always be so dressed, even when someone is dying. But, she is good overall.

I can’t really pick a favourite scene, but I could pick a dialogue I really liked. So Bindu and Bubla are at Nariman Point and Bindu says, “Jab purane postal codes change ho jae na, toh friends become family”. Now this isn’t a once upon a lifetime dialogue, but because I stay away from home, I know its meaning.

All in all, though Bindu says “Pyaar ke baare mei kya naya kaha jaa sakta hai,” Meri Pyaari Bindu is just the new thing about love…

If I had to rate the film, the film is 119 minutes long, and that’s just perfect!

Bahubali 2: The Conclusion: Unmatched Ambition

There are scenes which are over done, but I am not complaining at all…

Patience is what you require the most while watching Bahubali 2: The Conclusion and if you have made it till here in the video, maybe you can make it through the film as well. Zaada ho gaya, haina…

This film is basically leading you to the answer ki Katappa ne Bahubali ko kyu mara! But that’s not all the film has. The first half is all about the love between Amrendra and Devasana and sibling rivalry between Amrendra and Bhallaldev. There is a major plot turn exactly before the interval, but you see it coming. The first half is slow and there is too much set up happening. It is the second half that answers your question about Bahubali’s death and has the major war sequence.

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Bahubali 2: The Conclusion talks about hope, courage and dharma. Though you don’t see the film reaching heights at all points, but SS Rajamouli’s sheer ambition deserves praise. Though at various points you will feel that the landscape is too animated, which it is, but it’s breathtaking. There is a scene in which a ship takes the shape of a dove and flies in the air, in another, palm trees are used as weapons. So there are scenes which are over done, but I am not complaining at all. It is a commercial film and I am happy because unlike other commercial films Rajamouli doesn’t let go of his conviction.

The performances are all great. Prabhas as both Amrendra and Mahendra Bahubali is very convincing. He does complete justice to the parts. Sathyaraj as Kattapa. and Nasser as the evil father are both good too. Sathyaraj carries on his legacy from the first part impeccably. The women however don’t really create an impact. Ramya Krishnan as Raj Mata takes the back seat. Tamannah Bhatia is hardly there. Anushka Shetty is good, really good, but I just couldn’t buy her as a warrior princess. Maybe because I had Tamannah as an already existing idea of a warrior princess in my head. Rana Daggubati too is not very appealing. But again, I am not complaining. Mujhe bada maza aaya.

All in all, whatever I say, you will watch the film, toh kyu bolu aur?

If I had to rate the film, 2 years we had to wait to solve the biggest mystery of our lives, and I am not satisfied. Ab kya kare?

Noor: I saw Sonakshi Sinha from Lootera in Noor

Go watch Noor for nothing but Sonakshi Sinha. She’s terrific.

Lootera is one of my favourite films of all times. I am not saying that Noor (the character) is as layered or even well written as Pakhi (Lootera) but Sonakshi Sinha’s efforts seem the same.

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Noor is the story of a journalist, or rather joker journalist, who is trying to find her ground. She wants to engage in serious journalism and cover incidents like “subah ke 11.30 bhi nahi baje aur 17 log local trains mei marr chuke hai” but ends up taking a Sunny Leone interview, because her boss is just concerned about the TRPs. Then there is a scam and she wants to be at the forefront of it all, but is scammed herself. In order to undo the wrong that has occurred, Noor has to do something…

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The film starts off very well, matlab beautifully. But as it progresses, it just fails to hold your eyes at the screen because it lacks pace and matter. Everything is perfect in Noor (the film) till Noor (the character) doesn’t have a purpose and when she does, the film falls apart. Also, this is a very stereotypical depiction of the life of a journalist, nothing new.

Director Suhil Sippy and cinematographer Keiko Nakahara capture the essence of Mumbai beautifully. It seems like a tribute to Mumbai. The local trains, neglected Victorian buildings, the slims and of course the Sea Link, everything seems so beautiful.

Actors Shibani Dandekar and Purab Kohli do a good job but they are hardly there. Kanan Gill is placed oddly. The writing of his character Saad is top-notch. He is Noor’s best friend, but Gill cannot bring out the nuances of Saad in the dramatic moments, which by the way are many. He fits right during the comic moments, but there are very few of them.

But what keeps you through Noor is Sonakshi Sinha. Singlehandedly she holds the film together. Four years ago, we had all watched Lootera and Sinha’s amazing performance in the film. Honestly, I had fallen in love with her then and I’m in love with her performance again. I really hope she does more of such meaty cinema.

Also look out for Smita Tambe. She plays Noor’s maid Malti, without whom Noor cant function. There is a scene in her house when she and Noor are crying – it is so BEAUTIFUL!

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All in all, go watch Noor for nothing but Sonakshi Sinha. She’s terrific.

A Death in the Gunj: Is Konkona Sensharma perhaps the new Satyajit Ray? 

This is a kind of a film that Sensharma would have been a part of as an actor…

We are all very well versed with Konkona Sensharma’s ability as an actor. With movies like Mr and Mrs Iyer, Omkara, Wake Up Sid and more to her credit, she’s proved to the world that she is an excellent actor, with perfection being her forte. A Death in the Gunj is her first attempt at direction and that too is an example of excellence of art.

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There always are certain movies that you watch and think:

  1. It couldn’t have gotten better.
  2. I haven’t seen such a beautiful work of art in long.
  3. I am not even going to watch a film as good in a long time.

That is A Death in the Gunj for you.

The film traces the story of Shutu (Vikrant Massey), who is the unsaid protagonist – a 23 year old student who is considered to be a child by everyone else. Shutu, along with his family – Nandu (Gulshan Devaiah), his wife Bonnie (Tillotama Shome), their daughter Tani (Arya Sharma) and Mimi (Kalki Koechlin) have come to visit Aunty (Tanuja Mukherjee) and Uncle (Om Puri) in McCluskieganj for New Years. There also are Brian (Jim Sarbh) and Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) who are Nandu’s friends. The film is about this dysfunctional family and how they go about the daily chores of life, sexual tension between some of them and their approach towards gender differences.

A Death in the Gunj is the retelling of real life incidents from Sensharma’s life. She traces the stories her parents used to tell her and carves a screenplay that is far away from artifice. It’s so good! The dialogues are short and crisp. While some of them are written in Hindi, most of them are in English, and that is what creates more of an impact.

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With an ensemble cast of nine actors which includes a kid, A Death in the Gunj could have just fallen apart. But all the actors play their parts with equal grace and everything is in place. Gulshan Devaiah, Jim Sarbh, Om Puri, Tanuja Mukherjee and Tillotama Shome are all fine actors. No one has acted too much or too little. Kalki Koechlin and Ranvir Shorey are way beyond praise. Kalki’s portrayal of a broken Mimi, deprived of love is outstanding. The way she can seduce a man or even smoke a cigarette, are outstanding. The anger in Shorey’s eyes, the sense of superiority in his tone and the robustness of his body are all marvellous. But, among the entire cast, Vikrant Massey and Arya Sharma are standouts. I remember watching Massey in Lootera and falling in love with his craft. He is perfect as Shutu – there couldn’t have been a better alternative. As far as Arya is concerned, she has a long way to go.

Again, what is best in this thriller is the writing. It was like reading an Agatha Christie book. You will never know who is to actually die. Is it Tani, is it Shutu, or Vikram, or Mimi or someone else? Watch the movie to find out. Also, it is very difficult to not feel a part of this family. Sagar Desai’s background score is haunting. It sets the mood right as it compliments the writing in a very beautiful fashion.

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Update: When I saw A Death In The Gunj for the second time, I noticed things I couldn’t have noticed had I not watched it again. This film not only belongs to Vikrant Massey and Aarya Sharma but equally to Kalki Koechlin too. She brings to the table different nuances of Mimi’s life, whether it’s the sexual tension inside of her, or a part of her, that maybe secretly loves. And as I pointed earlier, the biggest jewel in this crown is Sensharma’s writing. And we have seen such writing – with a smooth flair, a place for comedy, for tragedy even – earlier. But almost only once before this. Sensharma’s writing is, in fact, very close to Satyajit Ray’s. She’s not only a gifted writer, but over the years, she has definitely mastered her art, maybe through acting!
All in all, I will definitely recommend A Death in the Gunj to everyone whenever it releases, or if you can, catch a special screening like I did.

If I had to rate the film, 1200 seats hain Liberty Cinema mein. And it was house full. Soch lo what you might be missing…

Watch the trailer here: