The Program (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- The Program charts athlete Lance Armstrong’s meteoric - and dope enhanced - rise to fame, as he made history with seven Tour de France victories and his subsequent complete and utter fall from grace thanks to his own foolishness and the persistent investigative efforts of a journalist.

If there’s one thing that this film proves really well, it is that apart from being able to ride a bike really well, Armstrong (Foster, quite on point) also managed to perfect the dubious art of being a liar and a scam artist.

Frears shows us that the seeds of his downfall were sown before he even achieved global fame. David Walsh (O’Dowd), a journalist at The Sunday Times and a lover of the sport himself, is gobsmacked when he sees a complete turnaround in Armstrong’s performance after recovering from cancer. He tells his mates that in the past, uphill stretches were Armstrong’s Achilles’ heel. Now though, he does it better than the best. Other athletes with similar aerobic capacities are left in the dust. It’s almost as if, as Walsh says, he has become superman.

Lance’s trainer, ‘The Godfather of Doping’ Michele Ferrari (Canet) borrows more from chemistry rather than any noble athletic ideals. At Lance’s urging, he introduces him to Erythropoietin, which increases red blood cell production. It’s actually Armstrong’s teammate Floyd Landis (Plemons) whose testimony leads to the former’s doping scam being unraveled. The film makes no bones about depicting Armstrong as being a pretty evil and manipulative guy, a fraud ready to go to any lengths.

The shots during various Tour de France races feature some fancy camerawork and the eclectic soundtrack also adds zing. While Foster and the principal cast have done their due, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that the film feels a bit inconsistent or too rushed, like a retelling in quick time of an elaborate scam that could have been examined in more detail. Perhaps a more psychological angle would have enhanced the proceedings.

Nonetheless, The Program can be viewed as especially relevant, given that doping in sport is coincidentally, in the news again. Courtesy toi…

The Program

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Global Baba (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Global Baba is the story of a criminal who turns into a spiritual leader. The social satire takes on Aamir Khan starrer PK and comments on how religion has become one of the biggest businesses in the country.

In India, faith trade is the most lucrative of the lot. Global Baba has the smarts but never shows us anything we haven’t seen before. The promising Abhimanyu Singh (of Gulaal fame) is a politico’s top henchman who survives a police encounter. The safest bet for him is to turn into a Godman. He wipes out his past and hides his misdeeds behind the garb of his saintly cloak.

This is such a dependable plot that never loses context. Religion in India has always been a sensitive subject. Despite being a religiously diverse country, we never want to seek logic in our faith. In a wonderful scene, director Manoj Tewari explains how the masses are conditioned to buy into blind faith over logic. When Sanjay Mishra, who pays a local hero in the film, suggests yoga to an obese man, he doesn’t take it kindly. Global Baba manages to ‘cure’ him by suggesting that he walks to a hill-top while chanting some magical words. The humour in that scene pinches you back to reality.

But the director’s sharp thinking is limited to the film’s plotting. It eventually becomes an overwrought tale that hardly has anything novel to offer. The characters are all uni-dimensional and cliched - The Godman is sheer evil, the politicians are all scheming and corrupt, the cop is just rendered helpless, the journalist ends up being a victim and the masses, gullible.

The issues addressed are equally run-of-the-mill. Global Baba’s ashram is on a land he has snatched away illegally from the adivasis. Every character is predictable and so is the film’s story. Only in parts, the movie manages to hold your attention.

Global Baba is subversive but doesn’t have an inventive streak. It points out problems without delving deeper or providing a solution. This one is just old wine in an old bottle! Courtesy toi…

Global Baba

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Jai Gangaajal (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Bankipur’s in the vicious grip of MLA Bablu Pandey and goons. But what happens when SP Abha Mathur arrives - kya sab kuch pavitar ho jayega?

Straight away, Jai Gangaajal celebrates Priyanka Chopra in one of her most- literally - kick-ass performances. Bankipur is bullied by MLA Bablu (Manav) and brother Dabloo (Ninad), who rape, murder and loot farmers’ lands. Police’s ‘circle babu’ BN Singh (Prakash) smoothly facilitates Bablu-Dablu while building himself a marbled palace of black money. Suddenly, Abha Mathur (Priyanka) arrives as Bankipur’s new SP - will Bablu-Dablu’s party end?

Jai Gangaajal is one of Prakash Jha’s best stories. It weaves together crucial contemporary threads - land mafias, corrupt netas, broker-cops, broken farmers - with Jha’s enduring concern about vigilante justice. In his 2003 Gangaajal, SP Amit Kumar was bewildered by frustrated cops blinding criminals - to make society ‘pavitar’ - with acid. Here, Abha Mathur faces mobs hanging goons, shouting, “Jo janta ko lootega, uska suicide!”

Can Abha convince Bankipur that the law must prevail - both for the innocent and the evil? And why does BN suddenly want to purify the system?

Priyanka Chopra shines as ‘Madam Sir’ Abha Mathur, whose lightning slaps and lathi charges have you applauding. This is a polished, restrained Priyanka, who barely smiles but conveys the ethics and empathy of the law. Priyanka’s ably supported by Rahul Bhat’s cameo as an MIT PhD kisaan leader - Rahul performs Rayban radicalism with aplomb, sneering at Abha visiting a distressed village, “Toh ab aap aayi hain, suicide tourism par.”

In contrast, Manav Kaul, usually a sure-shot scene stealer, appears distracted, briefly coming into his own, licking his lips as he savagely beats BN, but lacking consistent power. However, the dynamics between BN and Dablu convey crackling tension, their face-off electric. While Ninad nails wicked, waddling Dablu, fattened on the gory good life, Prakash comfortably portrays a character happy with shades of grey - until he discovers khaki.

There are memorable dialogues - ‘Aapko galat misguide kiya jar raha hai’ - and sharp editing. But the film gets stretched. A sarpanch and goonda less would’ve kept it tighter. Yet, Jai Gangaajal packs a punch with its panorama (a Badaun-like landscape where girls are hung from trees), dilemma and performances - particularly the one by ‘Madam Sir’, who wields a lathi you will love. Courtesy toi…

Jai Gangaajal

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Race (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- It is 1936 and the world is slowly heading towards the brink of yet another global conflagration. Hitler however, is still three years away from invading Poland. But US track athlete Jesse Owens faces a different kind of hurdle apart from winning multiple track races the 1936 Berlin Olympics - that of racial prejudice.

Although the wordplay behind the title of this film is clever - the Olympics race as well as the racial discrimination Owens (James) faces in both the US and Germany - this is by and large, quite a no-nonsense movie about a legendary athlete. While scant mention is made of his life after the Olympics win, Owens is portrayed as a squeaky clean guy whose single aim in life was to win big at the Olympics. And of course, win he did. Two men are key figures in getting him to Berlin. Olympic Committee chief Avery Brundage (Irons) negotiates not only with the Olympics Committee to get the USA to participate in the Olympics despite the Nazis’ anti-Jew activities and racist ideologies, but also with Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels (Metschurat) to tone down the anti-Semitism or else the event would be boycotted by the USA. Then there’s Ohio State coach Larry Snyder (Sudeikis, in fine form) who himself missed his shot at the Olympics in the past. Snyder trains and mentors Owens but in time, the two strike up an enduring and easy friendship.

The CGI is effectively used to depict Nazi architecture (the brainchild of German architect Albert Speer, in real life) and its characteristic enormity of scale and size. You get a feeling of how dwarfed Owen feels when he is in the middle of the arena, before the race. Race has some touching moments too, like the time when German athlete Carl Luz (Kross) reaches out to help Owens at a crucial time.

And while Sudeikis and James comprise the athletics angle of the film, Irons owns the behind-the-scenes part that deals with the bureaucracy. Ultimately though, what comes clearly through is that this is a really inspirational story.Courtesy toi…

Race

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Mastizaade (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Sex addicts, Sunny Kele (Tusshar) and Aditya Chotia (Vir Das) cannot get ‘enough of it’. When the two of them fall for identical twins, Lily and Laila Lele, their lives become an adventure.

Right away one should tell you that Mastizaade is the result of a fractured script. Word in the trade circles is that this so-called adult comedy was reportedly assaulted by the CBFC! So what you see, in the current running time of less than two hours, is a disjointed mishmash of some stupid sex jokes, tacky in-house product placement clips, Sunny Leone’s tasteful skin show and two blundering idiots - Tusshar and Vir. Both actors should have realised that they have committed professional hara-kiri by being in here.

Milap Zaveri, who is credited as the writer-director here, is the guy who has written at least half-way funny comedies like Grand Masti, etc. and one would have certainly imagined that he would have saved a page for his own directorial venture. But no! Zaveri takes his brain-dead audience for granted and unmindfully dishes out trite, leaving you angry and anguished.

Honestly, this film looks like a better version of last week’s Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 because it has Sunny instead of Mandana Karimi. Otherwise, it is just as blah. No attempt is made at a screenplay; no one attempts to act either.

The lead players go from Mumbai to Pattaya, chasing one another in various states of dress and undress and mouth double-meaning dialogue. When they run out of those, they substitute it with crass hand gestures to keep proceedings moving on screen. Everything from a donkey’s b**** to a horse’s backside is used for tasteless jokes. Incidentally, the hero of this film is the humble banana! People are named after it, eating it or gesticulating with it.

Every 20 minutes, a song breaks. Sunny, who is on familiar territory, looks gorgeous as she parades in an assortment of bikinis. She has also mastered the Bollywood song-dance routine and gracefully sashays to Rom Rom Romantic and Hor Nach. Bollywood believes that if you have Sunny in a film, you do not need a script.Courtesy toi…

Mastizaade

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Saala Khadoos (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Adi Tomar (Madhavan) is bitter because his dream to win the boxing gold for India was thwarted by his devious coach Dev Khatri (Zakir) who spiked his gloves during an all-important match. So when he spots talent in a Chennai fisher-woman Madhi(Ritika Singh) he wants to see his dream fulfilled through his ward.

Like Mary Kom, Saala Khadoos is a heartfelt attempt at putting the spotlight on India’s women boxers. As it follows the life of siblings, Laxmi (Mumtaz Sorcar) and Madhi, (both trained boxers) brought up in poverty, but with their sights set on boxing, the film sheds light on many issues. Namely, the lack of sporting infrastructure and the corrupt selectors who subject the women athletes to sexual humiliation are raw nerves it touches on. A line by a power-drunk coach to a promising pupil, that goes— ‘If you wish to rise in life, you have to go down first (pun intended)’ is discomforting.

The film had great potential but it plays safe by taking the familiar route of the underdog becoming the champion. You know from the time when Adi picks up a wild child off the street and she over dramatically resists, that he will pursue her to follow his dream. Director Sudha Kongara also deftly weaves in an attraction between the amateur boxer and her khadoos coach, a man almost double her age.

Both Adi and Madhi are rebels. But their fights ( especially the ones outside the boxing ring) appear forced and out of sync. But then again, the film keeps you engaged till the proud-India bout in the climax because of the convincing performances. Madhavan is good as the cynical coach who wants nothing more than to earn his stripes. Ritika is raw yet manages a knockout performance. Nasser, Mumtaz and Zakir lend good support. Courtesy toi…

Saala Khadoos

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Angry Indian Goddesses (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Freida (Sarah Jane Dias) calls over her friends to her home in Goa for a special occasion. She is getting married! Over the few days of their stay, the ladies share with each other their joys, sorrows and doubts. But does this trip have a happy ending?

Pan Nalin gives India an unusual female buddy film that attempts to make a statement on the growing atrocities against women. His point is that misogyny runs deep in the Indian psyche. As long as the film stays with the lives of its characters, it does well. In the first half, it is breezy, its vocabulary remains conversational and is genuinely palpable. The angst-ridden toughie Sandhya Mridul, the subtle Tannishtha Chatterjee, the innocent Sarah Jane Diaz, the affirmative Anushka Manchanda, the calm Amrit Maghera put together well-etched performances. Pavleen Gujral adds the right dose of romance from time to time and Rajshri Deshpande is a delight to watch. Together, they put together a pleasant concoction of friendship and love.

Alas, the story is never supported by a solid screenplay. The film’s pace is a problem and though things gear up in the second half, it ends as a loopy mess. When the predictable climax hits with all its cliches, you feel disinterested. As the tone turns sombre, you begin feeling detached. Nalin’s promising premise had more merit, but the drama dilutes it all.

The relevance of the title is also never established. There is a fleeting reference to Kali but that’s about it. As for the characters, they suffer from staple issues. Nalin keeps things superficial and never offers a solution to all the issues he and his writers point out. The tirade about how women are subjugated by society repeats itself frequently and this pummeling brand of feminism doesn’t work in favour the film.

Angry Indian Goddesses is a decent watch if you keep you expectations in check. It is a perfect example of how anger does very little good afterall. Courtesy toi…

Angry Indian Goddesses

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Hate Story 3 (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk-Siya (Zareen) appears to be the bone of contention between warring businessmen Aditya (Sharman) and Saurav (Karan). But this one runs deeper than your average love triangle.

Aditya and Siya are a happy couple. They are shown making passionate love in repetitive montages, kissing, feeling, titillating; while a reprised version of the ’90s track Tumhe Apna Banane Ki Kasam plays soulfully. This compatible couple readily agrees on everything in the bedroom or the boardroom. But their bliss is interrupted when a gift-wrapped orange Audi arrives in their lives. Instead of zooming into the sunset, they go seeking the mystery man (Saurav) who gifted it to them.

Without as much blinking or arching his bleached, tweezed eyebrows, Saurav propositions Aditya. He says he can bankroll him, provided he allows him to sleep with his wife for one night. This bit is tacky because Saurav is neither as suave as Robert Redford from The Indecent Proposal nor is Siya as irresistible as Demi Moore. The similarity to the Hollywood film ends with Aditya reacting as violently as Woody Harrelson.

While the inevitable must happen, Siya plays coy; Aditya plays spoilsport and Saurav has to stay content with having sex with Aditya’s disgruntled secretary, Kaya (Daisy Shah) who gives him a skin show, writhes like a pole dancer and kisses willingly. The plot remains unhurried as another round of those erotic montages shot against chart-busting tracks try to keep the audience hooked.

In an attempt not to make these films seem like pure steam fests, the makers usually thrown in a revenge drama angle. So true to the fabric of this franchise, here too there’s a suspense drama around some ugly sibling rivalry woven in. However, while the film is good-looking, the plot is convoluted. There’s bizarre justification for the poison-ivy women and avaricious despots. But then again, these sequels are about erotica being served piping hot Bollywood style.

So indulge in some guilt-free ‘entertainment’ and don’t go looking for soul. In the performance section, Sharman seems odd when he is shirtless but sincere when he’s buttoned-up. Karan caresses Zareen, his object of desire with his eyes even better than he does with his hands. Courtesy toi…

Hate Story 3

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Creed (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Adonis Creed (Jordan) is a strong-minded young man who, after getting a chance at changing his life for the better, seeks to hone his skills and channel his energy into boxing - something he believes he was born to do. When his efforts to find the best trainer fail, he seeks out his dead father’s old counterpart, Rocky Balboa (Stallone). Will Balboa take Creed Jr under his wing and train him for greatness?

Every once in a while, there comes along a sports drama film that challenges odds and defies expectations - much like the hero of this film, Apollo Creed’s son. While Stallone has not written this film (as he did with the others in the Rocky series), Ryan Coogler makes deft work with this subtle, moving and nuanced tale of interpersonal relationships. The boxing scenes, therefore, only add to the emotional impact of the film. Confrontations in the ring serve as key points, but it is the parts in between that form the flesh and blood of this story. That said though, you will be hard-pressed to find a film that has better brutal pugilistic rounds than this.

So, Creed is the archetypal angry kid from a broken home (think real life Mike Tyson, because the parallels of aggression are all too familiar). He is impulsive and violent but driven by a greater destiny. Nonetheless, it is Stallone who takes the cake as well as the bakery here. He steals the show with his masterful performance, thanks to Coogler giving Stallone the leeway to actually emote and allow shades of grey into his character. That aside, Stallone’s role seems to be tailor made. Too old for actually getting into a fight, he now slips into the mentor league. Fans of the original Rocky films will find this film as comfortable to slip into as an old shoe, with several points of familiarity, much to their delight. Both Stallone and Jordan are terrific.

Simply put, if you like films about boxing, with the emotional quotient thrown in, you will enjoy this one. It’s Stallone, after all. Courtesy toi…

Creed

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Tamasha (Movie Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Ved (Ranbir) and Tara (Deepika) meet each other with fake identities and take a week-long vacation in Corsica. Back in India though, it’s a different story.

If you watch Imtiaz Ali’s new film assuming that Deepika-Ranbir have unfinished business, you will forgive Tamasha its indulgence. The writer-director obviously knew he was dangling a carrot in front of these two Bollywood exes whose unrequited love has been gossip-column fodder for years now. And, they probably decided (this is an assumption) that if they hook up on screen once again, perhaps they could reach a closure.

The philosophy of the film is simple. If you conform in life, you will exist. However, if you indulge, even from time to time, you can actually live.

Armed with this life lesson, cute kid Ved from Shimla, who hates math and loves spinning yarns, keeps taking off on flights of fantasy. His first grown up adventure is an incognito trip to Corsica. He bumps into Tara, a beautiful Indian girl, on that breathtaking island and both of them promise they will not ask each other any questions, will not have sex and will go their separate ways, once this vacation ends. But of course, Cupid has other plans.

Back in India, Tara pines for Ved. Four years after that chance meeting, she is still drawn to that enigmatic ‘free bird’ who she met on an island.

He, on the other hand, hasn’t even had time to let his real feelings surface. His humdrum existence, as a project manager in a high-tech Delhi firm, has him feeling stifled in a tie and pitching bids he doesn’t believe in.

The clandestine lovers from France rekindle their affair in India. But when Ved proposes, Tara retorts that she loved the free-spirited man she met on vacation, not this mechanised robot. From there on the film meanders.

Like the protagonists, all of us know what it is to be tied down and not do what our hearts long. But the route Tamasha takes is long-winded and plain boring at times.

Deepika and Ranbir convey their angst and passion so convincingly that you’re hooked. Except for the curiosity about them, the rest of the drama is `oh,never-mind’.
Matargashti and Heer toh badi sad hai, two of Rahman’s songs, are magical even as standalone numbers. Courtesy toi…

Tamasha

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