10 Best Movies of 2015!

As the year 2015 is coming to an end, it’s time for us to look back and see the best movies of 2015. Statutory Warning: This is my opinion and it might differ from yours therefore please do not crucify me ūüėČ

This year belonged to the letter ‘B’. ¬†Most of the movies which had a title starting with the letter ‘B’ eg: Baby, Badlapur, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Baahubali, Bajirao Mastani etc. surprisingly not only did well at the Box Office but also garnered critical acclaim. So here we go.

Baby

Baby: One of the first movies to release in 2015 starring Akshay Kumar and Tapsee Pannu was a winner with the masses and the critics. Directed by Neeraj Pandey who had earlier directed A Wednesday and Special 26, this spy action thriller had some breathtaking stunts and edge of the seat moments. This songless movie made at a budget of Rs.58 crores set the ball rolling for Akshay Kumar and earned few crores short of Rs.100 Crores.

Badlapur

Badlapur: This Varun Dhawan revenge drama with some soulful music was released one week after the Valentine’s Day. Badlapur not only gave Sriram his first hit after Ek Haseena Thi, Johnny Gaddar and Agent Vinod but also gave Varun a major image makeover, who has always been associated with candy floss romances in the past. This Sriram Raghavan directed movie had some high power performances from actors like Nawazuddin Siddique, Huma Qureshi, Divya Dutta and Radhika Apte. Made on a budget of Rs.25 Crores, this action crime thriller earned around Rs.77 Crores at the Box Office.

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Dum Laga Ke Haisha: This Ayushmann Khurrana – Bhumi Pednekar romantic comedy from YRF was one of the surprise hits of the year. Set in 1995, the movie tells the story of a loser who gets married to a fat girl against his wishes and how during the course of their marital journey they fall in love with each other. A simple story that not only won big hearts but also big money for the producers. This Sharat Katariya movie made at a budget of Rs.15 Crores (inclusive of Print and Publicity) earned around Rs.45 Crores net at the Box Office.

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NH10: The shy ‘Taaniji’ from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi turned producer with this movie and also went out of her comfort zone to do a slasher thriller revolving around her character. The plot inspired from the English movie Eden Lake tells the story of a couple whose road trip goes for a toss after a chance encounter with a group of violent criminals who kill their sister and her lover in the name of honour killing. This Navdeep Singh directed movie garnered a lot of critical acclaim for Sharma and the masses also loved the movie making it a sleeper hit at the Box Office. Made on a budget of Rs.13 Crores, NH10 made Rs.33 Crores at the Box Office.

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Baahubali РThe Beginning: This is one of the rarest cases in Indian cinema where a dubbed movie made more than Rs.100 Crores at the Box Office. Directed by the hugely talented SS. Rajamouli this epic historical fiction movie is first of the two parts. Starring Prabhas and Rana Daggubatti as two warring brothers fighting for control of an ancient Indian kingdom Maheshmati, this movie was an answer to Hollywood productions such as Game of Thrones and 300. The movie not only broke records within India but also internationally. Made at a budget of Rs.120 Crores the movie made Rs.600 Crores worldwide, breaking all language barriers. The second part Baahubali РThe Conclusion is one of the most awaited movies of 2016.

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan: Salman Khan starrers are a huge pull during Eid every year. However, 2015 Eid was special not only for Salman Khan but also to his fans as one of his career best movies released with a thundering response at the Box Office. This emotional drama directed by Kabir Khan tells the story of Pawan (Khan) a simpleton and an ardent devotee of Hanuman who finds a mute Pakistani girl (Harshali) separated from her family during her visit to India. He embarks on a journey to unite the kid with her family back in Pakistan. Also starring Kareena Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bajrangi Bhaijaan made at a budget of Rs.90 Crores and produced by Salman Khan, garnered around Rs.324 Crores net in India while its worldwide collection was to the tune of Rs.625 Crores.

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Tanu Weds Manu Returns: This Kangana Ranaut-Madhavan sequel to 2011’s surprise hit Tanu Weds Manu was one of the much awaited movies of the year. Like its prequel, this Aanand L. Rai musical-romcom high on performances did very well at the Box Office. Kangana Ranaut in her career’s first double role as Dattu and Tanu won the hearts of the viewers apart from giving one of her career-best performances. After last year’s Queen, Kangana proved once again that she is one actor who do not need a Khan, Kapoor or Kumar to give a Box Office hit. Give her a good script and see her transform in front of the camera. Tanu Weds Manu is the only woman oriented movie made in India that has earned over Rs.150 Crores. The total budget of the movie was Rs.15 Crores.

Talvar

Talvar: This Meghana Gulzar movie was based on the 2008 Noida double murder case, in which a teenage girl and her family servant were found murdered, and her parents were convicted for the murders. The movie not only revived the case but also showed the investigation flaws conducted by the Police Department and CBI. The movie starring  Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi and Sohum Shah in leading roles garnered critical as well as box office acclaim. Made at a budget of Rs.15 Crores the movie made almost Rs.30 Crores at the Box Office.

Tamasha

Tamasha: This Ranbir-Deepika movie directed by Imtiaz Ali attracted a lot of debate. Some liked the movie, some hated it while some didn’t understand the story at all. Like all Imtiaz Ali movies this one was also an emotional tale that narrates¬†the story of Ved (Ranbir)¬†who loses his self by living according to the social conventions expected of him unless he is reintroduced to himself by Tara (Deepika). Made at a budget of Rs.60 Crores this movie made Rs.106 Crores worldwide.

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Bajirao-Mastani: The long in the making Sanjay Leela Bhansali dream epic released along with Shahrukh-Kajol hyped movie Dilwale. Minus the original cast of Salman-Aishwarya-Rani, this movie will go down in the history of Indian movies as one of the most well made and stylish movies after Mughal-E-Azam. High on performance and critical acclaim, this Ranveer Singh-Deepika-Priyanka movie was the best way to close a year filled with lot of cinematic surprises. Made on a budget of Rs. 120 Crores this movie has already made Rs.128 Crores at the box office and it is still going strong.

Movie Review: Dilwale – Rohit Shetty Fails, SRK-Kajol Rises!

Dilwale

The most anticipated movie of the year – Dilwale starring the evergreen jodi SRK-Kajol and directed by ‘Hit’ machine director Rohit Shetty released this week. Considering the fact that SRK-Kajol does very few movies¬†and they are coming after a gap of 5 years, the hype is unprecedented. Alas, not every movie starring SRK-Kajol can be a DDLJ or a KKHH and Rohit Shetty should be blamed for this fiasco called Dilwale.

The story revolves around Raj /Kali (Shah Rukh Khan) and Mira (Kajol) who belong to two warring Mafia families from Bulgaria (one more new age Romeo-Juliet attempt) who fall in love. However, if you are expecting for a happy ending waiting for this much-in-love couple then think again. They go separate ways hating each other due to misunderstandings.

Years later, Raj and Mira’s siblings Veer (Varun Dhawan) and Ishita (Kriti Sanon) fall in love in Goa. The ex-lovers come face to face once again bringing back painful memories of their past.¬†Will Raj and Mira get over their past for their siblings? Will they rekindle their love as well is what the film further unfolds.

Coming to the script it is full of blemishes. There are unnecessary ups and downs which fizzes out by the climax. The climax is weak. The built-up to Boman Irani’s character falls flat on the face. The misunderstandings due to which SRK-Kajol split is not very convincing and when they patch up, it is again done in an unconvincing way. If the misunderstanding was so small and didn’t need much of justification and help was right at an arm’s distance for Kajol then why did it take 15 years (and 2.5 hrs screen time)¬†to sort out?

The love stories of SRK-Kajol or Varun-Kriti is not much exciting. The five-minute dating scene is a ‘Joke’… really??? The comedy is okay with few comic punches provided by Johnny Lever¬†and Sanjay Mishra’s characters. The music is average and apart from Gerua and to some extent Janam Janam, Pritam fails miserably. The picturization of the songs are superb. The action scenes are standard Rohit Shetty fare¬†that we have seen repeatedly in all his movies including the cars flying in the air – nothing new! Rohit in your next movie¬†please blast a tank or a plane or a ship or some other stuff maybe a UFO but give us something new ;).

SRK-Kajol chemistry is timeless and it is quite evident in this movie too. However, the screenplay does not live up to the actor’s caliber. Shah Rukh should select his future scripts carefully as he has not given one meaningful movie after Chak De! For Kajol it is not a great comeback character and script-wise however, you cannot point any flaws in her performance. Varun is okay – nothing much to deliver and Kriti looks beautiful and ‘tall’. Johny Lever, Sanjay Mishra, Varun Sharma and Boman Irani are superb.

On the whole SRK-Kajol chemistry works for me, DILWALE & Rohit Shetty FAILS MISERABLY!

My Verdict: *

Movie Review: Bajirao Mastani ‘Epic’ Movie!

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The much awaited movie of the decade Bajirao Mastani has finally released this week in competition with Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol starrer Dilwale (more on Dilwale separately, later).

Coming back to Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s dream project which was in the making for the last 12 years with the original cast of Salman Khan-Aishwarya Rai-Rani Mukherji¬†replaced with¬†Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone-Priyanka Chopra, I must say has been worth the wait. Bhansali has not only painted a beautiful and visually striking canvas for the celluloid but has also packed some strong performances from the lead characters.

Bajirao Bhallal¬†(Ranveer Singh) earns the ‘Peshwa’ title from Chattrapati Shahu Maharaj (Mahesh Manjrekar) and goes on to prove his bravery by winning one war after another. One day Maharaja Chatrasal’s (Benjamin Gilani) daughter Mastani (Deepika Padukone) approaches him to help her father save his kingdom from Mughals. Bajirao agrees to help the King and wins the war against Mughals but the much married Peshwa loses his heart to Mastani and marries her in a rare custom by unknowingly giving her a dagger. Bajirao leaves for Pune and resumes his duty as the Minister of the King, a dutiful son and loving husband to Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra).

Not able to stay apart from Bajirao, Mastani follows him to Pune. The Peshwa’s family as well as his subjects are against his union with a Muslim princess and a huge uproar happens in Pune. What happens to Bajirao, Mastani and Kashibai’s lives from thereon is a beautiful story that should be seen on the screen.

Although there are few blemishes in the script and Bhansali has taken few creative liberties to glorify the love story between one of the greatest warriors in the history of India and his second wife, the movie is an experience in itself. Each and every frame is like an independent painting with beautiful visuals, props, lighting and colors. It took almost 5 plus decades for India to produce another movie like Mughal-E-Azam and full credit goes to Bhansali.

Ranveer Singh has owned the character and brought life to Bajirao Bhallal. He is outstanding in the role and makes his critics sit back and eat their words. Deepika has not only looked gorgeous but also performed well. Although I never saw anyone other than Aishwarya as¬†Mastani, but I was pleasantly surprised with Deepika trying to beautifully fit into the vacant shoes of the former beauty queen. Priyanka is the third strongest pillar of this love triangle and she has done a tremendous job. She looks and acts like a Maharashtrian lady and is quite a treat to watch on the screen. Tanvi Azmi as Peshwa’s mother Radhabai is praiseworthy. It is a pleasant surprise to see her carry out a dark character superbly.

Rest of the supporting cast especially Milind Soman, Aditya Pancholi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Benjamin Gilani are superb. The casting is perfect and one should applaud the casting director for doing a great job.

There are few glitches that I earlier hinted like, after building up Aditya Pancholi‘s character as a bad guy, he surprisingly goes missing from the plot. The dance sequences especially Pinga seems to be force fitted. The climax is cinematically good but it is far from what happened to Mastani – Oops… do not want to reveal further!

The war sequences have been beautifully picturized by Action Director Sham Kaushal. The dialogues are impactful and the cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee is breathtaking.

Music by Bhansali is average; however, Deewani Mastani stands out. The sets by Nitin Desai are out of this world especially the Aaina Mahal which is worth a dekko after the Sheesh Mahal one saw in Mughal-E-Azam. The background music is quite captivating. The movie will definitely appeal to classes as well as masses.

On the whole, this is an EPIC movie one should not miss out on.

My Verdict: ****

Chai With Shai: Aamir overrated, Akshay Genuine – Ashish R Mohan!

After a long hiatus I am back with my Chai With Shai series and what better way to start it again with one of my favorite people from the industry. He is one of the most promising directors to hit the tinsel town and he has made one of the biggest hits with Akshay Kumar – Khiladi 786. And if I have to describe Ashish R Mohan in one word then I would say he is a ‘Dreamer’. Here is an excerpt from our interesting chat we had recently over the customary ‘Chai’ and cookies for a change (winks).

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How did your affair with Bollywood begin (winks)?
Affair! Nice way to put it (laughs). Okay, so it all started when I was a kid. I come from a small town Shimla and had no connections in the Mumbai film industry. My grandmother did her Masters in Music and Hindi and my dad was also an artist – he use to paint. One of my first teachers in school was also a great musician and French national. I was his favourite student. In short, I had a lot of creative influences around me during my childhood.

Right (smiles)
(continues…) My dad used to take me for movies whenever there was a new release in theatre. I remember watching The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Guide when I was a kid. All these influences made me grow up with an intent to join movies and pursue it passionately (smiles). My family was not too financially strong to support me when I decided to move to Mumbai. Moreover, I was too young according to my parents to live on my own. I was 18 when I left for Mumbai. My family did their best to support me. After two months of struggling for work and visiting few sets as a junior artist, I finally got to meet Mr. Anil Devgan, after I got rejected by one of the junior artist supplier for some small part as a background artist. Mr. Devgan was making Blackmail then. I met him few times and kept on pestering him to hire me as an assistant and one day he did hire me (smiles).

So persistence pays (smiles)
Yes, it did pay (laughs). After Blackmail got over I got a chance to join Mr. Rohit Shetty whom I knew since Zameen days. Rohit was very fond of me and knew I would never let him down. I worked with him for 7 years and finally got my first movie Khiladi 786. There’s a lot more in between which I would love to pen down as a biopic someday (laughs).

Please do hire me as your writer to pen your Biography (laughs)
Sure why not (joins laughing).

Khiladi 786 was one of the biggest hits of 2012. With a superstar like Akshay Kumar as the leading man and a big hit under your belt, these are dreams that most of the non-filmy debutants wish for. How did you manage that feat?
It was my writing team and Mr. Himesh Reshammiya who made it possible for me. I had approached many actors for another script which was a heist film based in the late sixties. But none of the actors I approached were ready to trust a newcomer. And when I met Mr. Reshammiya finally, he told me to come up with something that would be fit for a big star. I had no idea whom he was talking about and once we had the final dialogue draft ready, he made us meet Akshay sir.

Wow!!! Tell me all about the first meeting with Akshay?
You won’t believe it was one of the biggest high in my life to sit next to Akshay sir and narrate him my first script and imagine I was narrating him the script on his private plane (gushes). I was not too sure whether he would agree to work with me but he loved the script and had no insecurities working with a newcomer. He said ‘yes’ for the film at an altitude of 15000 feet in his plane flying back to Mumbai. He probably is one of the finest gentleman and the most secure star we have around (smiles).

Now this will definitely make an exciting chapter for your Biography (smiles).
I bet (smiles back).

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Ashish, normally every director who works with Akshay Kumar repeats him for his next movie but you went for a Jackky Bhagnani to star in your second movie Welcome 2 Karachi. What is the story behind it?
I so wish I had a chance to direct him again after Khiladi 786. However,¬†Welcome 2 Karachi script didn’t suit his image of an action superstar. I was making a movie with Mr. Irrfan Khan and if I would have taken few matured and professional decisions I would have ended up making a great film (frowns). I got carried away emotionally. But I don’t have any regrets as this experience taught me a lot more than what I learnt from the success of Khiladi 786.

You have seen super success with your first movie and disaster with your second, what has these two experiences taught you?
Rise and fall is just a state of mind.

Sounds very Zen like (laughs).
Yup (winks).

How was it working with Akshay Kumar?
I could not ask for more. I got to learn a lot from him. What makes him a huge star is his humble approach towards everyone on the sets and he creates a very positive atmosphere around him. I learnt a lot from him in terms of discipline and professionalism. I look up to him.

It was heard that the movie you scripted and planned (Welcome 2 Karachi), and the one that actually got made are as different as chalk and cheese. What is the truth behind this rumour?
That’s true but I would hold myself responsible for taking few wrong decisions and making wrong choices (frowns).

How did your family support your decision to become a director?
They always supported me with whatever I decided in life. All they wanted was to see me doing good for myself and people around me.

What are your future plans?
Currently I am working on a production from Costa Rica which is a Spanish language film with a lot of Bollywood influence. Simultaneously writing a script for a big star back in India.

Advice to your fans?
Keep watching movies in the theatre, say no to piracy. Enjoy every moment, live life entertained.

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Okay Ashish, now is that part of my series where I would ask you few questions and expect you to reply in one word.
Okay… but be good to me…

What do you mean ‘Good to me’?
I have read your previous interactions and the questions… I am already squirming in my seat (laughs)

I never knew my fun questions can make people nervous (winks and laughs). Okay fine! As the Holiday season is just round the corner,¬†I am going to be good with you… going with the mood of the season (winks)
Great!

Akshay Kumar or Jackky Bhagnani?
Hahahahahahaha…

Got it (winks) Himesh Reshammiya or Vashu Bhagnani?
Himesh Reshammiya without any second thought.

Asin or Lauren the better actress?
Asin

The most underrated actor in Bollywood?
Ajay Devgn

The most overrated actor in Bollywood?
Aamir Khan

Ouch! If given a chance which movie you want to remake other than Welcome 2 Karachi (winks)?
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

The sexiest actress in Bollywood?
Deepika Padukone

Romantic dinners or long drives?
Long drives

Name one person whom you want to be marooned with in an isolated island?
Alia Bhatt

Nice… you have answered every question so quick… so all the nervousness was just a facade huh? Let me ask you some really tough ones now…
No… Spare me (laughs) I think I have already ended up in trouble with few of the answers (laughs full throatedly)

(Joins in laughter) Okay Ashish, it was fun catching up with you and I wish you all the best for your future endeavours.
Thanks Shaiju… It was a pleasure…

 

Movie Review: ‘Tamasha’ Zindagi Ka

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Two weeks back Imtiaz Ali’s¬†Tamasha¬†released creating a huge division of opinion between the audiences. Some loved it while some hated it and some for no reason hated it because they were disappointed to not see an extension of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani only because of the lead pair. I had to wait patiently to come back to India and watch the movie, as I was holidaying abroad.

A man (Ranbir Kapoor) meets a woman (Deepika Padukone) on the French island of Corsica. They promise each other that they will neither reveal their identities to each other nor will they ever meet Рwhat happens in Corsica remains in Corsica becomes their mantra. However, they both fall in love but as they have promised they go their separate ways.

After few years they meet but the man РVed woman -Tara met in Corsica and the one she meets in Delhi are diametrically opposite in behaviour, attitude and personality. Which one is the real Ved Рthe one she met in Corsica or the one in Delhi? What happens to their love story? These are questions that get answered during the course of the movie.

The movie is a reflection of almost every person’s life especially middle class families where you are supposed to study hard, work hard and lead a robotic life that will give way to another generation of robots. What your heart really wants or what you dream about bears less importance, as generation after generation followed¬†this pattern. It takes a Shining ‘Star’ Tara (Deepika) to make a Ved (Ranbir) realize how¬†he has lost his true identity to follow the set pattern.

Ranbir has given his career’s best performance in Tamasha while Deepika has supported him ably. The story and direction by Imtiaz Ali is wonderful and it is one of those rare movies that will go down in the history of Indian cinema as a classic. A.R. Rahman once again proves that he is The God of Music. Each and every song starting from Matargashti to Agar Tum Saath Ho to Heer to Safarnama are musical gems and gels well with the storyline. Lyrics by Irshad Kamil is poetic and well versed.

On the whole Tamasha will definitely not appeal to the audience who are hardcore fans of masala movies but it will definitely strike a chord with the class audience.

My Verdict: ****