Maska is a Story Baked With Love and Innocence

We all have a hideout wherein we like to spend some time while enjoying a hearty cup of tea along with some bite-sized delicacies, such as the humble bun maska. Maska, starring Manisha Koirala, Prit Kamani and Jaaved Jaffrey, is a light-hearted film that portrays the generational conflict between a mother, played by the cheerful and bubbly Manisha Koirala and her stubborn but cute son Rumi, played by Prit Kamani.

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An Overview:

Daina is a middle-aged widow who runs an Irani cafe named Cafe Rustom. Daina wants Rumi to run the cafe, but he is least interested in taking forward the rich and illustrious legacy left behind by his ancestors. Rumi wants to become an actor and plans to sell the ramshackled settlement in order to raise funds for his acting debut. The rest of the film deals with the various conflicts that occur between the old lady and her son.

 Storyline

Quite honestly, the story has nothing new to offer and follows a very predictable path. But you will love the film for its honesty and innocence. Furthermore, the story brings to light the rich legacy of the Irani cafes, many of which have now been replaced by the CCDs and the Starbucks of the world. Ah, makes one realise that commercialisation is not the best of alternatives in some cases.

Rustom Cafe has been shown as something way more than just a cafe. It is a ‘refuge’ where people get to spend some quality time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This good old Irani Cafe in Mumbai is the favourite of many of the elderly couples residing in the vicinity. But Rumi plans to sell it in order to realise his dream of making it big in the world of showbiz.

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Performances

Manisha Koirala, who plays a stout and stubborn widowed Parsi woman, is the fulcrum around which the entire film rotates. She is your old-school Parsi mom who thinks that legacy is far superior to any monetary gain. Also, she gifts her husband’s belongings to her son on her birthday. All of this in a bid to bring back the ‘Rustam’ of the Rustam Cafe.

Some of the film’s most soulful sequences feature Manisha Koirala and Prit Kamani. Even when she scolds her son for moving out of their ancestral house, you feel a sense of warmth engulfing the mom-son duo. Also, she brings him money when Rumi is having a hard time while living with his girlfriend. Makes one realise that moms always help, no questions asked. 

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 Up next on our list is the much adorable Jaaved Jaffrey, and boy, his warm on-screen presence makes you go gushy-mushy right from the outset. He plays a funny and comical ‘aatma’ of sorts and keeps making his presence felt with some catchy one-liners, with one of those being “Gravity is a myth, the earth sucks’. Well, this one really caught my attention.

Talking of dialogues, the film has a set of catchy dialogues, such as the one between Persis and Rumi:

The world isn’t made up of atoms, Rumi. It’s made up of stories’. See, I always knew science had little to do with humans and their emotions.

Prit Kamani has a raw but charming presence that will stay with you for long. For the most part, he keeps finding ways to sell the cafe but decides against doing so after reading his friend Persis’ coffee-table book. Ah, books, I tell you, can be quite inspiring at times. 

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Both Shirley Sethia (Persis) and Nikita Dutta (Mallika) haven’t been given much screen time. Dutta talks at length about the perils of married life while Sethia talks about Ikigai (the reason for being), and guess what, our teenage hero finds his Ikigai after going through a coffee-table book.

Direction:

Here’s a good thing about this film: Neeraj Udhwani, the man behind the camera, knows what he is doing. He has a set of well-defined characters to bank on and infuses a considerable degree of ‘freshness’ into the film’s narrative despite having a cliche story to work with.

The verdict:

To top it all, this is a film baked with a lot of love, warmth, and innocence. Also, Manisha Koirala holds this film together whenever it loses steam. The plot is predictable, even more so the execution, but the film succeeds in delivering a powerful message woven around legacy. Also, some of the film’s most enticing sequences have been shot in and around the kitchen area. All in all, the movie makes for a decent one-time watch.

Movie Review: “Guilty’ Will Make You Question Patriarchy, Privilege and Consent

Consent has become quite a popular term in the post #MeToo era and Guilty, starring Kiara Advani, reminds us that men of privilege do not think twice before violating women. Furthermore, the film also throws ample light on the fact that a large number of rape cases still go unnoticed. Guilty, directed by Ruchi Narain, throws light on a set of burning questions that are often swept under the carpet.

An Overview: 

 Less than a minute into the film, we see a college-goer being questioned ( grilled, in some ways) by the cops. The members of a college rock band are questioned after VJ, the band’s lead vocalist, and the son of a powerful businessman, is accused of raping one of his batchmates. All hell breaks loose when Tanu, the victim, posts a tweet targeting VJ. In no time, we see VJ being targeted by various sections of the society, but there comes a point when everybody, even those investigating the case, begins questioning the victim’s claims. 

Storyline:

Quite frankly, the storyline is watertight and doesn’t give you much time to think. It took less than 10 minutes for the makers to establish all of the characters. The best part about the story is: it goes about its business without beating around the bush. A large chunk of the film is narrated from Nanaki’s (Kiara Advani) perspective.

 There are sequences that make you uncomfortable. For instance: one of the students being questioned tells the cops that the victim is nothing more than a f*ck girl. Furthermore, the viewers are also made aware of the fact that Rani, the victim, had ” trouble written all over her”.

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The Film does raise some Important Questions:

Right from frame one, the film succeeds in maintaining a ‘stern’ look and feel. Well, that’s because the director wants the viewers to know that sexual harassment is a serious offence. 

  • Why is a girl called a sl*t if all she wants is attention?
  • Why are rape cases politicized?

Despite a few minor flaws, guilty has its heart in the right place. The narrative of the film keeps swinging to and fro, much like a pendulum. The first half of the film showcases Tanu as the ‘helpless victim’ who has been raped by a rich and spoilt brat. But victim-blaming shows its ugly head and everybody puts Tanu in the line of fire. 

Performances:

Kiara Advani is the star of the show and looks unbearably hot in her ‘punk’ look. She plays the heartbroken lyricist and does so with ease. Also, she comes across as a ‘coconut personality’ and it won’t take long for the viewers to realize that this punk babe has demons running wild inside of her. (Does that remind you of Alan Walker?).

Gurfateh, who plays VJ, the spoilt brat, does everything you could have asked of him. There is that carefree (rather nonchalant) look in his eyes that screams aloud at times. Also, right from frame one, you get a feeling that this guy will get away with the crime unscathed. 

Taher Shabbir enters the scene right from frame one as he begins interrogating VJ’s friends. He doesn’t speak much and goes about his business with the utmost sincerity. Unfortunately, he comes across as a stone-faced investigator who has little or no room for emotions. In short, our investigator required a few punchy dialogues to make his presence felt.

Next on the list is Akansha Kapoor, who plays Tanu Kumar, a girl from Dhanbad, one of the country’s mining powerhouses. She is shown as a headstrong woman and doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion. Despite being raped, she chooses not to hang her head in shame (which comes across as a big positive). Akansha shines right from the start despite having a limited screen presence. 

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Here’s the biggest problem ailing this film: despite playing the victim, Akansha hasn’t been given enough screen time as most of the film is narrated from Nanaki’s perspective. 

Direction:

Ruchi Narain does a fairly decent job behind the camera by handling rape, an immensely sensitive subject matter with a great deal of sincerity and maturity. A 2-hour-long runtime does test your patience (at times), but the film deserves a watch for the powerful message it has in store for its viewers. 

‘Guilty’, despite a few minor flaws, ends up holding the viewer’s attention. Watch it for the message it has in store.

‘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.