Film review: “Marjaavaan” will crush your will to live

Marjaavaan, Milaap Zaveri’s latest directorial venture, has finally hit the big screens. Starring Siddharth Malhotra, Tara Sutaria and Riteish Deshmukh, the film tells the story of Raghu, who works as a thug under Narayan Anna (Nassar), a water mafia don.

Well, could Siddharth and Riteish recreate the magic of Ek Villain? Well, not quite.

Spoiler Alert: It’s no prequel to Ek Villain. (Sigh)

Overview

As stated earlier, the film follows Raghu, the ace hitman of a local Don named Narayan Anna. Narayan loves Raghu more than his son. 

Consequently, Vishnu, Anna’s biological son, falls short of his father’s love. Not to forget, he’s a dwarf and keeps shooting metaphors around height. The story is simple: Raghu is Anna’s most trusted right-hand man and was taken in by Anna after he was abandoned as a child. Vishnu is jealous of Raghu and wants an opportunity to destroy him.

Storyline

Quite frankly, the story has nothing new to offer. Marjaavaan is a standard revenge drama film with half-baked dialogues and mindless action sequences. Five minutes into the film, Siddharth Malhotra can be seen smashing the bad guys. Also, a few plain and tasteless dialogues have been used to ‘ornament’ a largely mediocre film.

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Tara Sutaria, who plays a mute Kashmiri girl named Zoya, wants to transform the lives of slum children. She believes music can change lives. So, our hero converts a Mumbai slum into Indian Idol. Zoya happens to be assembling a troupe for a music festival in Kashmir.

Halfway through the film, the leading lady dies, and our protagonist can be seen crying his eyes out over her lifeless body. The second half is no less painful. Just when you think you have had enough, goons jump into the frame, and you will get to see some substandard ‘dishoom-dishoom’ sequences. Simply put, Marjaavaan’s story will remind you of those over-the-top revenge dramas from the 80s.

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Dialogues

Okay, here’s the interesting part. The dialogues don’t leave much of an impact but do end up providing some unintentional comic respite. Five minutes into the film, Siddharth Malhotra says: “Main Ek maarunga, Marr jaayega. Doosra Janam lene se darr jaayega.” Post interval, we can see Raghu staring at Zoya’s (Tara Sutaria) grave. At this moment, yet another flavourless dialogue can be heard escaping Raghu’s lips: “Zoya, main badla Nahin, Inteqaam loonga” ( Badle ko Urdu mein inteqaam kehte hain. XD). There’s love, there’s melodrama (a lot of it). Not that melodrama hasn’t worked for Bollywood films in the past, but some uninspired dialogue delivery tires you out eventually.  

The film’s writers are to blame. Not much thought has been put into the writing bit.

Performances

Siddharth Malhotra looks disinterested in the film. His dialogue delivery doesn’t end up creating much of an impact. Also, why is he wearing a leather jacket? Does it get cold in Mumbai? Well, god knows. Rakul Preet Singh plays Aarzoo, a dancer. She looks bubbly and charming but was not given much to work with. Also, her dress sense reminds us of the cabaret dancers from the good old 1980s.

Tara Sutaria looks charming. Her expressions are quite believable. Also, her on-screen presence is bound to instil a sense of optimism. Unfortunately, she has been shown as a helpless young woman. A gush of blood pours out of her mouth after she is shot. Optimism and charm die a slow and painful death, alas!

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Ravi Kishan, who plays a cop, looks quite convincing. Unfortunately, he wasn’t given a meaty role. Also, South Indian actor Nassar looks impressive as an underworld don.

Riteish Deshmukh, the film’s antagonist, tries hard to look ruthless, but nobody fears a three-feet tall ball of hair. Also, a villain doesn’t talk in verse, does he? Our villain seems to be obsessed with metaphors around height. All in all, the acting part is weak. The film needed some well-defined characters.

Music

The film’s background music makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s too loud. As far as the soundtrack is concerned, “Tum Hi Aana” sung by Jubin Nautiyal will remain in your playlist for a long time. “Thodi Jagah” by Arijit Singh is easy on the ears. The rest of the songs have just been copy-pasted. Boy, music directors and lyricists need to unleash their creativity.

The verdict

Simply put, Marjaavaan is a hotchpotch of epic proportions. It is not something you’d want to watch. Well, if you wish to kill time, then give it a try. Marjaavaan is a film that could have been a full masala entertainer, but a largely predictable plot doesn’t let it rise above its limitations. 

Rating: 1.5/5

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‘Wake Up Sid’ is One Sincere Attempt to Highlight The Issues Faced by Youngsters…

It certainly would be no overstatement to say that today, a youngster’s life has become as complicated as it possibly can. The degree of parental pressure to succeed on the academic front is immense. Also, a vast majority of parents still nurture this belief that choosing a conventional career path is the only way to succeed in life. The slang ‘Mera beta engineer banega’ has still got a considerable amount of steam left in it.  Parental pressure often ends up robbing children of the small joys they come across in their lives. Continue reading “‘Wake Up Sid’ is One Sincere Attempt to Highlight The Issues Faced by Youngsters…”

Four Short Films Made by Students Which Deal With Social Issues…

That films are an integral part of our life is no hyperbole. Cinema, because of its wider reach and accessibility, is no less than a mirror which helps us reflect on a host of issues that the society comes across.

The likes of social media platforms such as YouTube have allowed amateur filmmakers and students to come forward and voice their concerns regarding anything and everything under the sun.  From blood donation to physical disability to the ever-growing problem of child abuse, countless videos are being churned out by students in with an intent to mobilise public opinion and bring about a desirable change.

Continue reading “Four Short Films Made by Students Which Deal With Social Issues…”

‘Close’ Review: Noomi Rapace Stars in a Film Full of Predictable Plot Twists

Blood, bullets, and a badass female bodyguard form the heart of Netflix’s latest offering titled ‘Close’. Starring Noomi Rapace as a no-nonsense war veteran who is hired to protect a millionaire’s daughter, the film is marked by a few moments of undoubted brilliance and thrill but falls way short of expectations owing to a predictable storyline and a wafer-thin plot.

It is time to take a closer look at the film.

An Overview:

The film begins in a war-torn area, supposedly somewhere in the Middle-East. Sam (Noomi Rapace) is introduced as a headstrong and steadfast woman who doesn’t think twice before pulling the trigger. Her latest assignment sees her protecting Zoey (Sophie Nélisse), the daughter of a mining tycoon.  After the death of her father, Zoey needs to be transported to her mother’s safehouse in Morocco. Sam accompanies her to the safehouse. It is here that things turn nasty. The intruders raid the safehouse and kill most members of the security team along with the Head of Security. Sam is seen bashing the bad guys in her attempt to protect the rich brat. The rest of the film deals with how both of them join forces to take the bad guys by storm.

The Story

To be honest, the story looks quite predictable right from the beginning. There’s absolutely nothing new on offer. We have a stern and steadfast cop protecting a rich brat. Zoey doesn’t get along with Sam at first but warms up to her eventually. Sam does everything she can in order to protect her. The story also brings to light Sam’s softer, and an extremely vulnerable side. We are told that Sam got pregnant at 16 and had to abandon her child. Everything happens fairly quickly.  The bad guys are made to bite the dust as Sam uses her survival skills to good effect.  The story has blood, bullets, and brutality.

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The Performances:

‘Close’ rests on Noomi Rapace’s brilliance. She is the axis around which the entire film rotates. The veteran does a commendable job and carries the entire film on her shoulders. She plays the quintessential action ‘hero’ and looks convincing and believable.  Also, she doesn’t rely on dialogues and lets her hands and punches do the talking. There are sequences wherein you want to humanize with Sam.

Sophie Nélisse nails her part with relative ease. She plays a usual rich brat who doesn’t care much about life. Her life takes an unexpected turn after her father dies and leaves his billion-dollar mining business in her hands.

The likes of Indira Verma and others do not get much screen place. You cannot expect to have well-defined characters in a movie that has a runtime of 95 minutes.

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Direction:

Vicky Jewson has done a reasonably good job behind the camera. He has kept it tight and to-the-point. A 95-minute runtime doesn’t give you much time to think. No frame appears unnecessary. As far as creativity is concerned, the director has nothing new on offer for the viewers but keeps the film’s essence intact.

The action sequences are a major highlight of the film. Much like the film’s lead character, the film is a no-nonsense action film and has some adrenaline-pumping fight sequences to keep you hooked. The film has a purpose, it has a tightly-knit story, but one has to say that the ending felt a bit rushed. All of it appeared a bit too easy and straightforward for Sam.

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The Verdict

Simply put, watch ‘Close’ if you are a die-hard fan of the action-thriller genre. Also, Noomi Rapace’s stellar performance is enough to grab your attention. She holds the film together with effortless ease.

 Rating: 3/5

Diablero on Netflix is for the Demon Lover in You…

Over the years, we’ve been flooded with films and TV series dealing with vampires, ghosts, and other forms of paranormal beings. Some of them have been spooky while others have been nothing less than a laugh riot (no pun intended). Central-American filmmakers seem to be spicing up the genre by adding some Mexican flavour to it. Netflix’s latest horror show titled Diablero, is a great addition to the endless list of horror films and shows on Netflix. No, it’s not similar to “The Haunting of the Hill House”. One can breeze through the series’ first season. The first season is comprised of eight episodes. Continue reading “Diablero on Netflix is for the Demon Lover in You…”

Calibre, with all its Thrills and Spills, Makes for a Great Binge-watch…

It certainly would be no hyperbole to say that the quality of content available on Netflix has improved quite considerably. 2018 saw some excellent feature films and web shows being churned out for viewers across all age groups. As far as the films are concerned, the American entertainment giant has treated its viewers to some excellent feature films this year around. Right from the Spanish period thriller ‘Gun City, which deals with the countless reasons that led to the outbreak of the Spanish civil war to the Indian romantic comedy “Love per Square Feet”, an Indian romantic comedy that deals with the ever-so-serious problem of housing in Mumbai, we’ve seen some top-notch stuff on Netflix this year around.

Within the crime-thriller genre, Calibre, a film directed by Matt Palmer, kept the netizens such as myself on the edge of their seats. The film is set in the Scottish Highlands and features two friends who embark on a hunting trip. The rest of the film deals with the trials and tribulations both of them face in their bid to keep their crime under the wraps.

An Overview

The story begins rather simply, with two childhood friends Vaughn and Marcus embarking on a hunting trip. Vaughn and his wife are expecting their first child.  Both of them make their way to the Scottish Highlands. The woods appear silent, but there seems to be a significant degree of uneasiness engulfing the highlands. The economic hardships of people, the lack of investment in the area. Both Vaughn and Marcus realize that the place isn’t as welcoming as they thought it’d be.

While hunting, Vaughn sees a deer, lines it up, and shoots, but the bullet accidentally hits a young boy, who happens to be camping in the woods along with his father. Things turn even murkier when Marcus, in his bid to protect Vaughn, ends up shooting the boy’s father.  Then begins a game of cat and mouse wherein Vaughn and Marcus try almost all tricks in the bag to cover their crime.

The Good:

The Locations:

The film’s story is pretty simple. It doesn’t have anything extraordinary, but what stands out in the entire film is the execution. The locations where the film has been shot are beautiful. Another striking feature of the locations happens to be the fact that they do look spooky and secluded. The locations add a certain degree of tension to the overall scenario.

The Storyline

The story might be simple, but it’s quite gripping. Kudos to the film’s writer for adding a pinch of salt and pepper to a cliché suspense thriller. All the ingredients seem to be in place. There’s a perfect blend of suspense, drama, tension, and adrenaline-pumping action. The writers have stuck to the basics and have nailed it, literally. The story is tightly-knit and nothing feels unnecessary. Also, the 100-minute runtime doesn’t feel long and keeps the viewer hooked and guessing.

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The Performances:

Take nothing away from the hard work put in by all the actors. The likes of Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, and Tony Curran have pulled off stellar acts to give us one of the finest thriller films of the decade. The actors haven’t relied on dialogues, but on facial expressions. The fear and uncertainty, both of which form the heart and soul of the film, can be clearly seen on the lead pair’s face. There’s no fancy make-up stuff. The faces of all the actors narrate stories. As a viewer, you can feel the tribulations both Vaughn, as well as Marcus, are going through after they accidentally murder the child and his father.

The Dichotomy, the Emotions, and Everything in Between

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Throughout the course of the film, there’s an uncanny uneasiness that a viewer can feel. There comes a moment in the film when both Vaughn and Marcus think “Should we confess, or should we not?” There happens to be tension and uncertainty brewing everywhere. Vaughn, in particular, is adamant on keeping the secret covered. He fears for his unborn child and his wife. The mental and emotional toil both of them are subjected to makes one develop a softer side for them. (Come on, you have to feel sad for them. After all, they didn’t murder the boy and his father intentionally. It was an accident. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time, to say the least.

Economic Problems

Logan (Tony Curran) tells Vaughn and Marcus about the economic problems their village happens to be facing. There seems to be a severe dearth of investment in the area. Marcus promises to bring business and investment into the village. The locals happen to be well aware of the economic prosperity Marcus can bring in the area. The director hasn’t stretched the issue too much. He’s left it wide open and moves on to concentrate on the characters.

The Bad

Just about nothing. The film stays true to its purpose. It doesn’t go haywire even once. Also, the climax happens to be quite inevitable but take nothing away from the way it has been executed. I hope there aren’t any spoilers in this review. The film makes for a great binge watch. Miss it at your own risk.

Alia Bhatt’s stellar act powers Raazi

 

Meghna Gulzar’s latest directorial venture ‘Raazi’ is a sensible spy thriller film with a lot of heart and substance.

Overview:

Raazi revolves around Sehmat, a 20-year-old college-going Kashmiri girl who agrees to work as a spy for the Indian Intelligence on the request of her ill father.  The story traces her journey from being trained as an undercover agent to being married to a Pakistani army officer (Iqbal Syed). Rest of the story deals with how Sehmat succeeds in unearthing vital information while concealing her actual motives. Continue reading “Alia Bhatt’s stellar act powers Raazi”