Padmaavat – Movie Review – It finally released!

The day finally arrived! Padmaavat finally was released, despite rioting, threats against the stars and physical assault of the director. I saw it in 3D which wasn’t really needed, but was my only option. It’s not the best Bhansali film ever, but it’s Bhansali so you have to see it on the big screen at least once. And I feel compelled to probably see it again, because I’m so worked up about that school bus being attacked by rioters in India over this film.

The controversy over the film even reached national news here in the US.  I heard a five minute segment on the movie’s release, and the violence surrounding it on NPR this afternoon.


The above is an over 16 minute video review of the film, but I try not to give any spoilers (but we all know how it ends anyway.)

As Bhansali films go — it is average. It’s not my favorite, and besides the Ghoomar song, the music is not as memorable as Bajirao Mastani. But I’m there for the costumes, the colors and the sets, and they are GORGEOUS on the big screen. My local theater only has the film in 3D so you get to see those saris swirl out at you, gold threads shining. Shahid’s abs I could write an entire sonnet about — he has never looked better on screen!


The costumes were just even more stunning on a big screen.  The attention to detail in the jewelry, the saris, and the outfits that Shahid wore (and Ranveer) is just stunning.

Here’s a video about the design of the jewelry!


It was worth the cost of the ticket just to see the whole spectacle of the film, but it’s slow paced.  The run time is 2 hours 45 minutes, and believe me, at least a half hour could be easily cut.  The film feels flat and staid.  Anupama Chopra said the film lacked heart in her video review.  I also didn’t feel tension in the final moments.  We know what’s going to happen, but I’ve seen other films (like Neerja) where even though I know what’s going to happen I’m on the edge of my seat.  I just didn’t feel that.

Speaking of Neerja, the great Jim Sarbh has a much bigger role as Ranveer’s slave in the film than I had imagined.  He actually has an entire song he sings to Ranveer!  I don’t like that his whole role is to prove that Alueddin is obviously evil because he’s bisexual, but Sarbh gives his role his all.  It was just a pleasant surprise how much screen time he had.

Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai

Aditi Rao Hyari who I last saw in Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Velliyidai, was very good as Ranveer’s wife in the film.


Ranveer is the stand out performance of the film.  He really chews the scenery as the Muslim conquerer villain. I hated though, that Bhansali had him almost always with a dirty face, and black clothing.




In contrast, Shahid was shown in white and pale colors, often in a pure linen shirt ( that did blessedly still show his abs through the loose weave — I love you costume designer!!)

Shahid did well as the proud arrogant Rajput king.  Deepika was absolutely luminous as Padmavati.  I absolutely loved her introduction scene, hunting with a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen in the forest.  How she meets Shahid the king was awesome.  She is shown to be smarter than Shahid’s king, like a chess player that can see three moves ahead, so kudos to Bhansali for that.

The film just didn’t live up to my very heightened expectations.  I just have greater expectations for the over the top films that Bhansali makes.  The music wasn’t as notable as other films, besides the Ghoomar number which is amazing! – and I can’t help but wonder if he held back on story elements or cut certain things from the script that would have made a livelier film, but restrained himself due to the controversy.  Even though there was a disclaimer before the film saying they don’t endorse sati — the way Bhansali filmed the last moments rather did do just that, and I don’t like that message.

padmavat sati

I’m so worked up about the school bus being attacked in a riot about this film, that even though it’s average, I will see it multiple times just as my own personal protest.  It’s overlong and slow, but it’s Bhansali. You have to see it on the big screen at least once.


Attarintiki Daredi Movie Review – My First Pawan Kalyan film


attarintiki BPbb-18CQAEhRba_jpg large(15)In anticipation of Agnyathavasi, I watched Attarintiki Daredi (Which Path Leads to My Aunt’s House?) (2013), which teams Pawan Kalyan with the same director,  Trivikram Srinivas.  This was a decent family drama pairing Pawan with two heroines,  Samantha Akkineni and Pranitha Subhash and with NadhiyaBoman Irani and Brahmanandam in supporting roles.

attarintiki boman nadhiya

It was super fun to see Boman Irani in a Telugu film, even with his voice dubbed.  I assume he doesn’t speak Telugu well enough.  He plays the family patriarch, and Pawan’s grandfather.  Pawan is tasked to bring home his estranged aunt as his grandfather is critically ill, and wants to reunite with her while he still can.

attarintiki emotional sceneNadhiya plays the estranged aunt. and she was fantastic!  She was the best part of the whole movie for me.  She and Pawan share some very emotional scenes.  I looked her up afterwards as it was making me crazy where I’d seen her before.  She was Prabhas’s mother in Mirchi.

Pawan’s character is super wealthy but he enters his aunt’s household as a driver (sort of like Dharmendra in Chupke Chupke, but not as funny.)


Pawan has some cool action scenes.  (Evidently he’s a martial arts expert in real life).  Of the two heriones, Samantha is given nominally a bit more to do.  It’s not her best role ever — she’s improved considerably in the years since this film was released.

brahmanandam gladiator

Brahmanandam has a lengthy cameo.  I can only take him in small doses, and it was TOO much.  However, at one point there is a Gladiator reference that is hilarious.  I didn’t need the half hour preceding it, however.

So, Attarintiki Daredi is an average family drama, elevated by Nadhiya’s performance.  I know Pawan Kalyan is supposed to be a Telugu cinema superstar, but he really doesn’t do much for me.  His signature is his dialogue delivery, and it just doesn’t come through to me, watching with subtitles.



Tiger Zinda Hai – Trailer reaction and first song!

I’m so looking forward to Salman Khan’s big Christmas release where he reteams with Katrina Kaif in the sequel Tiger Zinda Hai.  This uses the same real life story as the Malayalam film Take Off (which i still need to see.)


This first song from the film is perfect for Salman, and Katrina gets to show off her moves.  The video was filmed on a Greek Island that is just stunningly gorgeous!  I’ve ben to Santorini, and the islands are really that jaw droppingly beautiful in person.


Judwaa 2 – A few things should have updated in 20 years


I really wanted to like Judwaa 2.  I had a blast watching the first Judwaa earlier in the week, starring Salman Khan and Karishma Kapoor.  While Varun Dhawan gave 1000 percent to the double role, I just didn’t find it as funny.   Jackie Fernandez wasn’t given as much to do as Karishma.   Both she and Taapsee were treated like bimbos.

It was depressing to watch a scene of Varun smacking Jackie’s behind in a store.  Really?  You’re going for that same joke 20 years later?  And Taapsee gets kissed to the point she cries.  Again.  NOT FUNNY.

So much could have been done with this twin story.  It needed a better script.  One set in the 21st century.

Spyder – Spoiler Free Review


If you want no spoilers at all, watch this video review I made minutes after coming out of the theater.  I saw the very first show in Chicago — one of the first in the US.  I liked the film, even if it’s not perfect.  It’s not my favorite Mahesh Babu film, that would be Pokiri or Athadu maybe, but I left satisfied.  AR Murugadoss, who made one of my favorites, Ghajini, has a compelling script.

The backstory of the villain is especially creepy.  It’s a story I’ve certainly never seen before.  The romance track with Rakul Preet Singh is not the emphasis of the film, but I enjoyed the sweetness of their relationship.

Good dance numbers, but the background score is notably good, and kept the tension going in this enjoyable thriller.

I will be writing and recording another review with spoilers – coming soon.

Jai Lava Kusa Full Trailer looks Amazing!


This Jr NTR trailer looks really good.  I was loving all the teasers of the three characters he plays in the film, Jai (Raavan type), Lava (the nerd) and Kusa (rowdy hero?), but now this full trailer with subtitles shows me how much humor will be in the film.  So funny!

I also love the indication of the big dance numbers, since NTR is a great dancer.  Also, the fact that the characters are related is NOT a big secret to be revealed as it is in so many other double role Indian films.  That’s refreshing.

I may not be able to see this one the first few days it’s out here in Chicago (it’s out on a Thursday here) and it’s killing me.

So excited to see NTR on the big screen for the first time!

Here’s the trailer with subtitles (which don’t work inside my reaction videos.)

Movie Review Shubh Mangal Saavdhan


ayushmann-khuranna-saavdhan-bhumi-pednekar-reunite-mangal_84baecb4-769c-11e7-83e1-68866f5cbeee (1)I enjoy the chemistry of Bhumi Padnekar and Ayushmann Khurrana together.  This is a really sweet romantic film.  I have to hand it to Ayushmann to go there.  He is the same one who tackled sperm donation in Vicky Donor, a really enjoyable film, and now stars in a comedy about erectile dysfunction.

shubha_1501590643_725x725In an Indian romantic comedy, nothing is private, and every family member has to give their two cents about the couple’s predicament.

One of my favorite scenes has Bhumi insist that Ayushmann give her the band baaja baaraat she really wants, and when he does it is a glorious moment.

67073-blkqvcljdb-1504012014Both Bhumi and Ayushmann are riding the success this summer of their last pairing, Dum Laga Ke Haisha.  I wish their films hadn’t been clustered so close together.  I’m not sure the public is ready to see so much of them all at once.  This film has a lot of charm, and it’s definitely worth a trip to the theater.


Movie Review: Ajith in Vivegam


vivegam-800x450Ajith Kumar’s Vivegam is a pure action film by Siva, the same director as Vedalam. And that’s my issue with the film.  It’s trying to be something like a Bond film or a Mission Impossible type of movie.  Spies and double crosses and missing nuclear codes and so on.  But it doesn’t have heart.  It doesn’t have a story between all the great action set pieces to keep you interested in the story.

kajal-1Kajal plays Ajith’s wife in the film, and there is no romance track.  She becomes a woman in peril, as you would expect in a film like this.

There are some wild action scenes and nearly the entire movie is set in Serbia.  If you want to see Ajith doing amazing motorcycle chase sequences and fight a samurai sword wielding warrior woman with nun-chucks.   Then this is the movie for you.


I was hoping since it was the same director, Siva, as Vedalam, that it would be a similar experience.  It was more Hollywood influenced.  Maybe that’s what the Tamil audience wants, but the NRIs I saw the film with were also disappointed.  I talked to two different groups in the lobby to see if it was just my negative reaction.  It wasn’t just me.


But, it was a roller coaster ride of action.  I’ll give them that.  And Vivek Oberoi was a good villain.



A Gentleman is Super fun!

A Gentleman was at first talked about as a sequel to Bang Bang.  It isn’t really, but it’s very similar in the tone and feel.  Which means that I liked it a lot.


Siddharth Malhotra is great in the action scenes.  And I loved his dorky persona, too.  Lots of inside jokes about Desis in America.  The fight sequence in the middle of Home Depot cracked me up.


sidharth_malhotra_is_looking_smokin_hot_in_this_trailer_of_a_gentleman_980x457Jacqueline Fernandez is great at comedy.  I gained new respect for her from this film.  She also had a great American accent.  She doesn’t really get a big dance number, but she pole dances (!!!) in a song sequence at a karaoke bar.


Jacqueline had great chemistry with Siddharth.  She’s got Guarav in the friendzone, and then is attracted to the exciting dangerous Rishi.

Basically if you like films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and True Lies, you’re going to like this film.  A Gentleman is just a fun action comedy.


We LOVED Bareilly Ki Barfi – joint review with Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood



Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood and I met at the Chicagoland Indian movie theater lasts night to catch the new Hindi film Bareilly Ki Barfi with Ayushmann Khurrana, Kriti Sanon and Rajkummar Rao.  It is SO GOOD!  Cannot recommend this film highly enough.  We absolutely loved it!


Rajkummar Rao was the main reason I was interested in seeing this film, because he looked so funny in the trailer.  He is just delightful as a nebbish and then transforms into a tough asshole type as part of Ayushmann’s scheme.  He was a RIOT!


This film has a fantastic script based on a novel.  It’s very clever how the plot unfolds, and while I laughed my ass off so much, and then it had such an emotional ending that I teared up.  Kriti had agency in the end, and that made it even better.


Plus,  a woman director!!  Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari in her second feature film knocks it out of the park.

Check out Margaret’s Spoiler Free review here.