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Manikarnika: Good film that murders history

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3.0 Stars out of 5.0

Stepping into the history for making a film is always a difficult task when so much is at stake. The hyper nationalism acts as a virus which takes away the ability to think straight strikes at the core of rationality and this is exactly what has happened with Manikarnika The Queen of Jhansi.

If you are a history buff and have good knowledge of War of Independence being fought in 1857 this film is hard to swallow. So, if you can leave your knowledge outside of the cinema hall then you can certainly enjoy this movie because it has some good shots and sequences.

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is the story about the life of warrior queen Rani Laxmibai. It also stars Ankita Lokhande, Atul Kulkarni, Jisshu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi and Danny Denzongpa.

The Tiger hunting scene & few other stunts were unrealistic however, the cinematography is effective and every frame looks grand and beautiful.

The story starts from 1842 with the narration of Amitabh Bachchan about how Hindostan was very rich and peaceful country until the arrival of East India Company. The introductory scene of Kangana Ranaut as Manikarnika starts where she hunts a Tiger with a sleeping dart. (I know it did look hilarious)

Start of the movie spent good time in building up Manikarnika’s character, showing that she is not just a common Indian girl. Finally, she gets married to the King of Jhansi where she’s named as Rani Lakshmibai.

As Lakshmibai tried to socialise common people of Jhansi, simultaneously, the Britishers planned the infamous divide and rule. They brainwash Sadashiv Rao (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub) against the King Manikarnika in order to raise conflicts.

Kangana Ranaut energetic performance can cover weaknesses in the plot. She did take time to settle down in her role but once she does it was a smooth sailing for her and this is where the film becomes interesting. The writer and directors tried to make Queen of Jhansi character larger then life and it became quite problematic that Kangana Ranaut find it hard to portray. For example, speaking English with the Englishmen when we all know that the official language of India was not English at that time and Manikarnika never learnt English. Same is the case with the overall dialogues and languages as they never depict the real India of that era.

The supporting cast was not as strong as it should have been. It is a simple formula to make a great hero, you need a bigger villain and Richard as General Hugh did look bad as a whole but failed to carry the grandness of his character.

I think changing the original story did more harm to the story then any good.

Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut have directed this movie. Now, we aren’t sure who has directed which of those portions, so let’s credit both of them. The direction is pretty smooth as far as the story is concerned. Given that it could’ve been better with a few more absorbing sequences.

Music is mostly looked redundant in the script. The pace of the story would have been faster without the songs however, the background score by Sanchit & Ankit Balhara is quite impactful same what a story like this demand.

Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi is an attempt to make a visual form of our history chapters and it did look beautiful, but despite doing a good job I feel that Priyanka Chopra or Deepika Padukone would have done the job better.

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Gully Boy: Ranveer & Aalia deliver heart winning performances

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Start Rating 4.5 out of 5.0

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is a story of a young man living in sub slums, that also highlights India’s emerging hip-hop subculture. Gully Boy is inspired from the life journey of two street rappers Vivian Fernandes aka Divine and Naved Shaikh aka Naezy.

With fascinating writing, excellent texture this world is a revelation, I would say this is the first great Bollywood film of current year.

The basic storyline of the Gully Boy is simple and typical Bollywood movie. You must have heard several stories about a boy who has nothing and ends up gaining fame. A nobody that has no one to look up to, facing several hurdles, have to work hard to get basics in life, family issues, flawed love life etc. We know that the Rap music has always been a music that belonged to underprivileged, marginalized young adults. However, the powerful screenplay, astounding cinematography, real life dialogues makes it something to stand tall among all. Every scene of this film is carefully crafted to near perfection.

Ranveer Singh as Murad is battling to survive with a tough life. Murad is not a kind of a hero who has all the confidence in the world. He is shy, and is afraid of several things in life. He is a commoner roaming the streets. Ranveer has set high standard for himself, in the next movie he will have to match this performance in order to compete. The journey he took from his struggling phase to his celebrity status phase reveals his potential.

Aalia Bhatt electrifying performance outshines everyone in every single frame she was in. She portrayed Safeena with utmost zeal, her hothead character demands somethings extra, and she delivers like a duck to water. Unlike Murad, Safeena was very clear from the very beginning what she actually wants to do with her life. She is fearless, determined, passionate, daring, and ready to go to any length for her goals. This is a very unconventional character of sub-slum area Muslim girl and perhaps no one can play it better than Aalia Bhatt.

Kalki Koechlin character was more like a cameo though very important. She added the much-needed brake from the slum life lead characters are living and handles different shades of it with class.

For me, the biggest surprise was the character of MC Sher aka Siddhant Chaturvedi. It was difficult to believe that it was his first film. He has done a marvellous job. He didn’t look like a new comer. He graces every scene he was in with commitment and enthusiasm.

Vijay Raaz played as Ranveer’s father matches his talent. It appeared as if this role is made for him.

Murad’s drug dealer friend Vijay Varma has a role that also has several layers. He always looked compassionate.

Murad’s mother played by Amruta Subash owned every emotional situation with a style and did have a huge impact.

Zoya Akhtar has achieved something in Gully Boy. The film starts and ends with the bang. It makes the audience listen to the sounds and voices that you cannot ignore. Gully Boy is a rare film, it is near perfect in almost every department. This is not limited to rap music, it is about humans and humanity. It is time to take a bow to this cinematic marvel of Bollywood.

The only regret would be 3 missing kiss scenes that our CBFC chopped out for the sake of moral policing.

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Kangana Ranaut hits new low: “Pakistan ban is not the focus, Pakistan destruction is”

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From raising the issue of nepotism in bollywood to standing up for the #MeToo movement, Kangana Ranaut has now taken another route. In wake of the Pulwama attacks, the actress cancelled her success party for movie “Manikarnika” in solidarity but that was not the end of it.

Ranaut went on to bash cultural exchange between Indian and Pakistani artists claiming “Pakistan ban is not the focus, Pakistan destruction is”. Even though Pakistan denies any role in the bombing, India has accused the state of being complicit.

Ranaut has always voiced her opinion and has been highly regarded as a strong voice for female empowerment, however has taken things too far this time. Coming from an artist, these words seem irresponsible and ignorant and some have claimed that Ranaut is now trying to make her way into politics.

She went on to bash Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi for accepting an invite by the Karachi Arts Council to celebrate Azmi’s father,  Kaifi Azmi’s birth centenary. However, in light of the attacks, they cancelled their trip but Kangana did not stop there.

Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar

In an interview with PINKVILLA she said “People like Shabana Azmi calling for halt on cultural exchange, they are the ones who promote Bharat tere Tukade honge gangs…. why did they organize an event in Karachi in the first place when Pakistani artists have been banned after Uri attacks and now they are trying to save face. Film industry is full of such antinationals who boost enemies morals in many ways but right now is the time to focus on decisive actions.

Azmi responded – “You really think at a time like this a personal attack on me can be of any significance when the entire country stands as one in our grief and in condemning this dastardly Pulwama attack? May God bless her. Shabana Azmi.”

Esteemed bollywood actress Sushmita Sen also reacted to Kangana’s comment: “We are living in sensitive times, what sounds like ‘fake news’ may well be someone’s reality. Let’s all be more aware of our surroundings & our true sense of patriotism, so that NO ONE can mislead us.”

Looks like Pakistan was not the only target of her misplaced and misjudged wrath, she also went on accusing the film industry for not supporting her movie. Kangana Ranaut’s statements about Bollywood ganging up against her to boycott her has not gone down well with many from the industry. Not that this is the first time she has accused Bollywood of treating her as an outsider. This time, she went on record to threaten that she will expose each from the industry after how they neglected her most ambitious release, Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi. She even mentioned Alia Bhatt in one of her statements by calling her ‘Karan Johar’s puppet’.

When Zoya Akhtar was recently questioned about Kangana’s statements and what does she think of this whole backlash from Kangana, she however retorted saying, “Of course people appreciate her work…I don’t understand her accusations, I’m sorry” She said this in interaction with Pinkvilla.

Zoya Akhtar, Director of Gully Boy (Also happened to be the daughter of Javed Akhtar – Seems likes these assaults are all linked)

Looks like Kangana is just out to attack anyone who she sees as a competitor. This attack was brought on unprovoked and Alia Bhatt was also called out by her for no apparent reason other than the fact that Zoya and Alia’s movie “Gully Boy” was set too release around the same time as “Manikarnika” and gained more attention.

It is deeply upsetting to see someone on a platform so important, generalizing a whole country and blatantly throwing shade without realizing the impact it might have on the citizens of both countries. We expected way more from her than we clearly should have and this is all the more reason Pakistanis should focus on celebrating their own artists and promoting our national film and cinema industry.

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Amavas Review

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Star Rating 2.0 out of 5.0

A soon to be married couple decided to visit their family’s summer house where the man is supposed to propose to his girl. Karan (Sachiin Joshi) and Ahana (Nargis Fakhri) are the couple. Except for one thing, it didn’t look like they were in love. Where Karan always looks unhappy, and Ahana overjoyed apparently for no reason.

Writing review of such a confused movie is even more difficult then actually making a film, because I am trying to find some sense in the utter nonsense.

For me, director Bhushan Patel failed to decide whether he was going to make a psycho thriller, or an actual horror movie, where you get to experience a real ghost, spirit or some kind of a supernatural creature. He ended up making both in one movie that not only dragged the storyline, also confused the audience.

Well forgive me for revealing what the director and writer might have considered an excellent climax for a horror movie, however for many like us it was more hilarious than anything to be scared of. To my actual horror, this film has given a hint of a sequel.

Can anybody please explain to me how can a ghost get into to a human body just to have sexual pleasure?

Amavas, (the night when there is no moon in the sky) only mentioned once in the film and that too towards the very end of the film and without any visual indications.

The entire first part of this movie tried hard to build climax that was not there, only the loud background score punching the fabricated tension into your head.

Amavas contains over simplified dialogues and ragged screenplay which tried extremely hard to scare you, however, many sequences are stuffed with inadvertent humour e.g. if you brush your hair at night it will invite evil spirits.

Sachiin J Joshi, never looked like a handsome young man as his teachers described him in film. He never looked romantic, nor scary enough. His half-hearted effort in copying Shah Rukh Khan famous arms spread looked disgusting.

Nargis Fakhri was wasted in this film. She was there to add some glamour but even director failed to utilise her beauty.

Ali Asgar as Gotti never brought any comic relief. Vivan Bhatena and Navneet Kaur Dhillon back the already weak supporting cast.

Bhushan Patel leaves did his every best to scare you somehow in order to make you feel it is a horror film. You might failed to find a single scene which can scare you. The screenplay can be blamed but if everything around is trying to go against you, nothing can be done to stop it. There is nothing to talk about the songs, as not a single one clicks, to make it worse the horrible background score made it more difficult to stomach.

Amavas can be termed as one of the worst horror movies. To be fair with the director I can only say that maybe we will witness more worst films in future.

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