Marjaavaan movie review: Sidharth Malhotra, whatcha doin’ with this loud Neanderthal sermon?

Main maaroonga toh mar jayega tu, dobaara janam lene se darr jayega tu.” This line that the hero fires at the villain in Marjaavaan‘s climactic moments comes from an arsenal of rhyming bombast that he uses from the opening minutes of this exhausting film. Thankfully, there is an arsenal of adjectives in the English language to match his weaponry. Dated, loud, cliché-ridden, preachy, unimaginative, boring, flat – that is what Marjaavaan is.

Take the slotting of the characters for one. Each comes from a checklist that Bollywood in earlier decades felt compelled to cover exhaustively in most scripts. Virtuous hero, virtuous woman who exists solely for him to fall in love with her and thus give her the requisite qualification for the post of heroine, villain without a single redeeming quality, other woman in the ‘golden-hearted tawaif’ mould whose unrequited love for the leading man survives every trauma thrown her way – you will find them all in Marjaavaan.

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As if these Neanderthal formulae are not enough, there are more. The bad guy is a dwarf in a film that clearly sees a disability as nothing but a source of drama. The hero is a “lawaaris”. A glamorous woman pops up to do that thingie called an ‘item song’ with dance moves that include spreading her legs wide, thrusting her bottom out and wiggling it, and going down on all fours to lift her bottom again and wiggle it – gosh, there is no originality even in the objectification of women in Marjaavaan.

And while it is a relief to get a break from the Islamophobia that has been a regular feature of Hindi cinema in the last couple of years, there is no joy in returning, as Marjaavaan does, to an era when the co-existence of religious and linguistic communities was not treated as a fact of life but as a cause for sugary sentimentality and in-your-face messaging on secularism.

Oh, and then there is the fact that while the nice guy speaks in verse, the bad guy reels off “what is the height of (optimism, etc)?” kind of jokes and the female protagonist speaks in riddles.

Considering all this, it is appropriate that Marjaavaan’s soundtrack is dominated by remixes.

Sidharth Malhotra plays Raghu, the handsome orphaned foster child of the gangster played by Nassar. The latter’s son Vishnu (Riteish Deshmukh) has always resented his father’s love for Raghu, that resentment made worse by his crushing complex about his congenital short stature. Their life-long enmity is heightened when Raghu falls in love with the mute Zoya (Tara Sutaria) who tries to reform the children of the neighbourhood by steering them towards music and away from an otherwise inevitable life of crime. Rakul Preet Singh stars as Aarzoo, the sex worker who is devoted to Raghu.

Marjaavaan is written and directed by Milap Zaveri whose career has so far been built primarily on writing comedies, some of them largely harmless fun (such as the Varun Dhawan-starrer Main Tera Hero), many of them crude (case in point: Masti, Grand Masti). For this film, Zaveri ditches high-decibel sexist humour in favour of high-decibel sermonising. Perhaps in a bid to sound intelligent and relevant, at one point in Marjaavaan he has the hero yelling “mandir banega aur masjid bhi blah blah blah”, but in the absence of any political depth, that pointed allusion to the Babri Masjid imbroglio makes zero sense. In a more well-thought-out film it might have meant something that Zoya is a Kashmiri Muslim girl and she is assembling a troupe for a music festival in Kashmir. Here though it means nothing.

Marjaavaan is so hackneyed that even the usually restrained Malhotra is driven to intermittent over-acting during its two-hours-plus running time. Deshmukh hams his way through playing Vishnu. Ms Sutaria is bland.

Singh does better than her colleagues with the little acting she is required to do in her limited role. Her primary job here is to look hot, but she is not allowed to do that well by the photography, wardrobe and other departments who, for some reason, collude to highlight her protruding rib cage through much of the film – this inexplicable treatment meted out to an otherwise lovely-looking woman will hopefully spark off a debate on the impossible thinness required of Hindi film heroines these days. As for the great Nassar, his performance in Marjaavaan is a textbook example of how even the finest of actors can be reduced to embarrassingly strained performances by bad writing and direction.

Maybe the line Raghu should have delivered is this: “Yeh film dekhega toh mar jayega tu, dobaara koi bhi film dekhne se darr jayega tu.

Motichoor Chaknachoor movie review: A largely unaware script that manages to make meaningful social comment

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Annie, short for Anita (Athiya Shetty), claims she is ‘ambitious’. Her ambition is to go abroad and post a picture on Facebook that will provoke FOMO among her peers. It seems the only way to achieve this is by marrying a man who lives, or at least works, abroad. After rejecting almost a dozen suitors — as their status does not fulfil her aspiration – Annie’s parents are at their wits’ end.

Annie’s obsession is no secret. And yet, no one is suspicious when Annie is suddenly interested in her much older, unmarried, recently Dubai returned neighbour Pushpinder (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

In 135 minutes, Motichoor Chaknachoor director Debamitra Biswal takes the audience on a roundabout ride about this odd couple. The story is limited to the two adjoining houses and their various inhabitants. Biswal works well to use this limited setting populated by a cast of characters including Annie’s parents and unmarried aunt on one side, and Pushpinder’s pushy mother, his younger siblings and other members of a joint family on the other. Both houses are determined to get their respective offspring married – but not to each other!

Pushpinder’s domineering mother (Vibha Chibber) sees her two sons as lottery tickets who will command substantial dowries. Annie, on the other hand, is completely against dowry demands. It’s the one progressive stand for this largely superficial character.

Annie’s aunt (Karuna Pandey) persuades her niece to woo Pushpinder, because Dubai is also foreign and better than nothing. Annie, once more displaying an absolute lack of integrity and independence, obeys. Pushpinder, 36, has thus far been dutifully following his mother’s plan. But he’s also been homesick and desirous of family contact. Easily duped by the taller, younger, fairer Annie, it takes time for us to see Pushpinder’s pluck.

The courtship is short and shallow, as is the wedding. In one of the only truly witty lines of dialogue, when a nervous Annie asks her aunt for advice on coping with the wedding night she’s told, “Just close your eyes and think of the Burj Khalifa” (a clever play on the 1900s English phrase ‘Lie back and think of England’). Pushpinder is desperate to consummate the marriage you see, unaware of its one-sided transactional nature.

Half-truths are soon exposed and Annie’s dreams of immigration check fade away. In the most telling moment, Pushpinder challenges Anita on why she needs a husband to realise her dream of travelling abroad. Expectedly Annie has no opinion.

Shetty throws her all into playing that one-dimensional small-town girl, but, pitted against Siddiqui, Chibber etc, the mismatch in aptitude is unambiguous. Within a regressive set-up, Pandey, Chibber and Siddiqui find nuance to their characters. However, the largely unaware script (Meghvrat Singh Gurjar, Biswal) does manage to make meaningful comments on dowry and the aspirational fascination with NRI life.

Panipat trailer: Kriti Sanon, Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt star in yet another Ashutosh Gowariker period drama

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The trailer of much-anticipated historical period drama, Panipat, was released earlier today. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the film will depict the story behind Third Battle of Panipat, which was fought between the Maratha empire and the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali.

There were three battles of Panipat in total, which shaped Mughal history and rule in the country.

Panipat stars Arjun Kapoor as Maratha warrior Sadashiv Rao Bhau, Kriti Sanon as his wife Parvati Bai, and Sanjay Dutt as the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Beginning with the chants of battle cry, “Har Har Mahadev“, the three-minute long trailer delves into the forgone history lesson of the Battle of Panipat. Sanon, in a voiceover, sings praises for the Maratha warriors, proclaiming ‘their bravery lies in their duty and religion’.

The clip further depicts glimpses of warfare, long stretches of deserted islands, and inner political movements within Peshwa royalty, who appoint Sadashiv Rao as the commander-in-chief of the Maratha army. When Rao realises the threat of Mughal invaders on Hindustan, specifically Afghan ruler Abdali, who is infamous for his cruelty and murderous rage, Rao begins prepping the army for a game-changing battle.

The film also features veteran actors Zeenat Aman, Mohnish Bahl, and Padmini Kolhapure.

Gowariker had confirmed the news of Aman’s cameo appearance in Panipat, in an interview with Mumbai Mirror. “Zeenat ji will be seen in a cameo as Sakina Begum, a feisty character leading her province of Hoshiyarganj. Her character lives within the confines of her kingdom, aloof from the politics of the region, till Arjun’s Sadashiv Rao Bhau turns to her for help,” he said.

Hindi litterateur, poet, and essayist Ashok Chakradhar has penned the dialogues for the film, produced by Sunita Gowariker via AGPPL in association with Vision World.

Gowariker brings to the audience another large-scale period film after Lagaan (2001) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008). Although his last film, Mohenjo Daro (2016), tanked at the box office, the expectations from Panipat already seem high.

Arjun Kapoor, Rakul Preet to share screen space in cross-border dramedy, produced by John Abraham

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Rakul Preet will be seen next with Arjun Kapoor in a cross-border dramedy, which mark the directorial debut of Kaashvie Nair.

Nair has previously assisted Nikkhil Advani on Patiala House (2011) and D-Day (2013). She has also co-directed a TV series P.O.W. – Bandi Yuddh Ke. The yet-untitled feature will be produced by Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series, Advani’s Emmay Entertainment, and John Abraham’s JA Films. The trio have previously collaborated on films like Batla House and Satyameva Jayate.

“It is a coming-of-age love story written by Anuja Chauhan, Amitosh Nagpal, and Kaashvie. It will be mostly shot in Punjab and Los Angeles. Arjun Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh will be sharing screen space for the first time and we will be finalising the title and release date soon,” Nikkhil tells Mumbai Mirror.

Arjun tells Mirror he loved the script instantly, and expressed his excitement to work with Rakul for the first time.

Rakul was recently seen in the Hindi comedy De De Pyaar De with Ajay Devgn and Tabu. Her previous projects that hit cinemas this year also include NGK with Suriya in Tamil and Manmadhudu 2 with Nagarjuna in Telugu. She will be seen next in the Sidharth Malhotra, Tara Sutaria, and Riteish Deshmukh-starrer Marjaavaan as well as Indian 2 with Kamal Haasan.

Arjun will take on the role of Maratha warrior Sadashiv Rao Bhau in Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat, which also stars Kriti Sanon as his wife Parvati Bai, and Sanjay Dutt as the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali. He will also star in a remake of Comali, produced by his father Boney Kapoor.

Ujda Chaman movie review: Director Abhishek Pathak forgoes finesse, subtlety in storytelling in this poor adaptation

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What do you do when an astrologer predicts that your 30-year-old son must marry before he turns 31 or risk a lifetime of celibacy? If you are mummy and daddy Kohli (Atul Kumar and Grusha Kapoor) then you go into a tailspin and panic about your first-born’s fate.

Chaman Kohli might have been shaken by this prophecy, and keen to find a suitable wife before the year is out. But Sunny Singh’s deadpan expression makes it’s impossible to gauge what Chaman is feeling. Singh looks vacantly unsettled for the entire 120-minute film that pivots around Chaman’s early baldness and repeated rejection by prospective brides. This deeply receded hairline also makes Chaman an easy target for heckling and teasing on the campus where he teaches Hindi. The students are cruel and unkind, exacerbating Chaman’s self-consciousness.

Desperation drives him to create a profile on an online dating app where he is paired with Apsara (Maanvi Gagroo). She is as aware of her ‘healthy’ build as Chaman is of his hair loss. Both judge the other based on appearance. The introduction to their two sets of parents is the meet-cute moment of the film and, even while Apsara and Chaman are disinclined, the grown-ups are over-enthusiastically plotting wedding dates.

Sunny Singh is given a monologue when Chaman, having had an epiphany, delivers a speech about being comfortable in your own skin and not judging a book by its cover, etc. But oh dear, the vacant, slightly obstructed expression is hovering around.

Your sympathy bypasses Chaman and rests with the more sorted Apsara whose affections for this selfish and spineless man are completely misplaced. Gagroo deserved a better written character. So then it’s up to Grusha Kapoor, Atul Kumar and Gagan Arora (as Chaman’s younger brother) to inject vitality into a dreary remake, but even their gags and heightened bickering become repetitive.

Ujda Chaman is a poor adaptation (Danish Singh) of the 2017 Kannada film Ondu Motteya Kathe (Story of Egghead) directed by Abhishek Pathak. The director amps up the background music and sound effects in an attempt to underline the lame attempts at humour and also forgoes finesse and subtlety in storytelling.

Saand Ki Aankh: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal declares Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar’s film tax-free

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Saand Ki Aankh seems to have garnered the positive attention of some state governments. After Uttar Pradesh, the film has now been declared tax-free in Delhi as well.

Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, recently announced the news on social media, stating that the film’s “message should reach to people of every age, gender & background―The power of a dream, & the power derived from it to achieve it, despite any socio-cultural blocks.”

Taapsee Pannu, who plays one of the female leads alongside Bhumi Pednekar in the film, replied to Kejriwal’s news and thanked him. Bhumi had also thanked the politician after he attended the screening of the film. Kejriwal’s family, and education minister Manish Sisodia had also attended the screening.

Helmed by Tushar Hiranandani, Saand Ki Aankh depicts the heroic story of the world’s oldest sharpshooters — Chandro and Prakashi Tomar.

Apart from Taapsee and Bhumi, Saand Ki Aankh also features director Prakash Jha and Mukkabaaz actor Viineet Singh in pivotal roles. The film was criticised by senior actresses for casting two young actresses in the roles of 60-year-olds. Set in the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, the film went on floors in Meerut in February. Originally titled Womaniya, the film was renamed Saand Ki Aankh, following a title rights dispute.

Recently, Saand Ki Aankh was also exempted from the state Goods and Services Tax (SGST) in Rajasthan.

Made in China: Rajkummar Rao’s Raghu is smitten with Mouni Roy’s Rukmini in new song ‘Valam’

After releasing the recreated version of the foot-tapping number ‘Odhani’, and yet another rendition of a Gujarati folk song, ‘Sanedo’, the makers of Made in China have released ‘Valam’. The song is picturised on Raghu (Rajkummar Rao) and Rukmini (Mouni Roy) in the early days of their marriage. Raghu seems completely smitten with his wife.

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The video also showcases some of the playful moments of their relationship, where Raghu makes a heart-shaped roti, and the two secretly drink in an abandoned place, but ultimately get caught by the cops on their way back home.

“‘Valam’ is a departure from the rest of the songs and adds soul to the album. While Raghu is busy chasing his dreams, it’s his wife Rukmini (Mouni) who is the wind beneath his wings, encouraging him every step of the way. And that’s what this song personifies — the meaning of true love and honest relationships. We had a blast shooting for all the songs, but filming this one was a relaxed and effortless experience. It was driven by the idea of building and celebrating a connection,”

Arijit Singh and Priya Saraiya duet in ‘Valam’, composed by duo Sachin-Jigar. Priya has written the lyrics with Sachin Sanghvi.

Made in China, which releases during the Diwali weekend, is based on the life of a struggling Gujarati businessman, who embarks on a journey to China in order to make his business flourish. The film has been helmed by National Award-winner Mikhil Musale, who won the best director for his 2016 thriller, Wrong Side Raju.

 

Housefull 4 box office collection: Akshay Kumar, Reteish Deshmukh’s film earns Rs 19.08 cr on opening day

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The latest instalment of Housefull, which released in theatres on 25 October, has had a moderate opening at the box office, despite the Diwali buzz. On its first day, Housefull 4 raked in Rs 19.08 crore.

Housefull 4 revolves around the theme of reincarnation, and follows a non-linear narrative.

Akshay Kumar is seen essaying the role of an emperor in the segment that deals with the past life, Bobby Deol plays a royal bodyguard and Riteish Deshmukh essays a dancer. Kriti Kharbanda, Kriti Sanon, and Pooja Hegde portray princesses.

The film was shot around London, Rajasthan as well as Mumbai, where a lavish set was built for the finale. The team wrapped up the shooting in November last year.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui made a cameo appearance in a song titled ‘The Bhoot Song,’ which showcased 500 back dancers, and the lead cast of the film.

Produced by Sajid Nadiadwala under the banner Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, in association with Fox Star India, Housefull 4 clashed at the box office with Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Saand Ki Aankh, and Rajkummar Rao and Mouni Roy’s Made in China.

Saand ki Aankh: Bhumi Pednekar, Taapsee Pannu’s film exempted from taxes in Uttar Pradesh ahead of release on 25 October

The Uttar Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday decided to exempt tax on Bollywood film Saand ki Aankh based on the life struggles of sharpshooters Chandro and Prakashi Tomar in the state.

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Directed by Tushar Hiranandani, the film is based on the lives of octogenarian sharpshooters and stars Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu in lead roles. The film is based on women empowerment and sports promotion and is already exempted from taxes in Rajasthan, reports Economic Times

Briefing media persons, senior minister and spokesman of the state government Srikant Sharma said the cabinet gave its nod for exempting GST from the Hindi feature film Saand Ki Aankh shot extensively in the state.

The film on the life of world’s oldest sharpshooters Chandro Tomar (87) and Prakashi Tomar (82), who learnt the sport at an advanced age and went on to win medals in competitions, inspires women towards sports and gives a message to society regarding women empowerment and gender equality, he said.

The film is being jointly produced by Anurag Kashyap and Nidhi Parmar. It will also mark the directorial debut of writer Tushar Hiranandani, who has penned the dialogues of Main Tera Hero, Ek Villain, and Half Girlfriend.

Apart from Taapsee and Bhumi, Saand Ki Aankh also features director Prakash Jha and Mukkabaaz actor Viineet Singh in pivotal roles. Set in the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, the film went on floors in Meerut in February. Originally titled Womaniya, the film was renamed Saand Ki Aankh, following a title rights dispute.

It is slated to release this Diwali, along with Farhad Samji’s ensemble comedy Housefull 4 and Rajkumar Rao’s Made in China.

Dabangg 3 trailer with Housefull 4: Sajid Nadiadwala says ‘nothing bigger than Salman and Akshay coming together for Diwali

The trailer of Dabangg 3 is set to be included with screenings of Housefull 4, as reported earlier. Housefull producer Sajid Nadiadwala, who is also collaborating with Salman Khan on the sequel of Kick, has confirmed the news to Mirror.

“We realised that the Dabangg 3 trailer would be ready by the time we release Housefull 4. The idea appealed to us as nothing can be bigger than Salman (Khan) and Akshay (Kumar) coming together for Diwali. I’d be more than happy to get them together on screen. However, all of us are busy with other commitments. Once we’re free and ready, we’d definitely want to create something big and magical,” Mirror quotes the filmmaker as saying.

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Nadiadwala further reveals he met Salman to discuss Kick 2, when the idea of releasing the trailer of Dabangg 3 with Housefull 4 cropped up. Nadiadwala shares a special cinematic relationship with both actors. Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Jaan-E-Mann, the two films which featured Khan and Kumar as leads, were both bankrolled by Nadiadwala.

Dabangg 3 makers had also attached the film’s teaser with Hrithik Roshan-starrer high octane action thriller War.

On 4 April, Sonakshi Sinha had revealed she had begun shooting for Dabangg 3. In an interview to Firstpost, Sonakshi said working on Dabangg feels like homecoming for her, “The film is shaping up really well. We all are very excited about it because the franchise Dabangg is very dear to us. My journey started from there, and it has completed nine years, so it’s my career and film’s anniversary. It’s a big day for all of us, and it’s very special. This film always makes me feel like a homecoming,” the actress says.

The rest of the cast includes Arbaaz Khan as Makkhi, and Vinod Khanna’s brother Pramod as Chulbul’s father Prajapati Pandey. Kannada actor Sudeep is also a part of the film.

Dabangg 3 is being helmed by Prabhu Deva, and is scheduled to hit the screens on 20 December in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.