9 Best Movies of 2016

2016 was one of those years in the Bollywood history where not many movies were Box Office successes, however, there were some really brave movie attempts made by unexpected quarters. Here is my pick of top 9 movies I felt were different and entertaining. Please do not go by the BO numbers.

Dangal: Like the saying save the last dance. Aamir did save his best performance and movie for the last week of 2016. Based on the true life characters of Mahaveer Phogat and his daughters Geeta and Babita, this was a great movie experience. Never was a sports based movie made with such passion and splendor. The wrestling fights looked so real that I had myself sitting on the edge whenever Geeta ‘Dhobipachadofied‘ her opponents. The highlight apart from the last fight was the bout between the father-daughter jodi played by Aamir and Fatima.


Nil Battey Sanatta: This was one masterpiece that I was fortunate to see in 2016. Produced by Aanand L. Rai and directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (the wife of Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari), tells the story of a housemaid played brilliantly by Swara Bhaskar and her daughter who is scared of mathematics. The moments in the movie were heartfelt and the narrative was so gripping that made you feel a part of Apu and Chanda’s lives.


Pink: ‘Whatamovie’ was the first expression I let out after watching this simple but powerful story of a movie. Amitabh Bachchan was a sheer pleasure to watch as the bipolar lawyer and Tapsee Pannu showcased her brilliance with her portrayal of Meenal Arora. ‘No means No’ became the mantra of this tony courtroom drama directed by Aniruddha Roy Choudhary.


Aligarh: Another biopic that made me cringe in my seat was Manoj Bajpayee starrer Aligarh based on Professor Ramchandra Siras’ life. Professor Siras was who was sacked from his position as a Marathi professor from Aligarh University for his sexual orientation portrayed the sad reality of our homophobic society. Also, the mysterious way in which he was found dead makes us question ‘whether sexual orientation is above humanity?’ Homosexuality is a crime in India and there are hardly any meaningful movies made around this subject. However, Hansel Mehta’s brave attempt on this real life character and Bajpayee’s sensitive performance is quite commendable. I will also give full marks to the writing department and one particular dialogue of Professor Siras from the movie still gives me goosebumps – Koi Mere Feeling Ko Teen Aksharon Mein Kaise Samajh Sakta Hai!


Kapoor & Sons: There are many stories revolving around a dysfunctional family, however, Shakun Batra’s second movie outing was a beautiful piece of cinema. Grand Father who is preparing for his death and wants to have the last family picture clicked, Father – a cheating husband, Mother – lost in her own world, Elder son – a closeted gay, Younger Son – still trying to figure out his true calling in life etc. are characters inspired by true life. It was shocking to see King of Candyfloss – Karan Johar producing a true to life story. The movie was quite relatable and the performances were wonderful. Give me a choice and I would love to see this movie anytime, anywhere.


Dear Zindagi: A slice of life movie that centers around a budding cinematographer Kaira played by Alia Bhatt, who hails from a dysfunctional family and after several failed relationships, is in search of a perfect life. She bumps into Dr. Jehangir, an unconventional thinker who helps Kaira in gaining a new perspective about life. Gauri Shinde after her endearing debut movie English Vinglish gave a near perfect movie – Dear Zindagi, and also gave Shah Rukh Khan a much-needed image makeover (it’s been nearly a decade that I liked any of SRK’s movies past Chak De India!).


Neerja: Directed by Ram Madhvani, Neerja was another commendable biopic on Neerja Bhanot, AC, who was a purser for the airline Pan American World Airways, based in Mumbai, India. Neerja was shot and killed while saving 359 of 379 passengers on board Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists on 5 September 1986 at Karachi. Sonam Kapoor gave her career best performance and also won the hearts of cine goers. A wonderful movie that every India should watch.


Airlift: The film directed by Raja Krishna Menon follows Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), a Kuwait-based businessman, as he carries out the evacuation of Indians based in Kuwait during the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The movie was inspired by the real-life character of Mathunny Mathews who was instrumental in carrying out the biggest Air evacuation in World History. Air India holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner as a result of this effort. The operation was carried out during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq. It is believed to be the largest civilian evacuation in history. The way the movie was shot and narrated is praiseworthy. Akshay Kumar, as usual, gave a great performance ably supported by Nimrat Kaur and Prakash Belawadi.


Sultan: My list would not be complete without a Salman Khan starrer and this year he did make me proud as a fan. Sultan a love story of a wrestler had Salman living the character to the T. It was not a typical Bhai movie but a warm and heartfelt movie of a wrestler who gets into the game only to impress his lady love and in turn goes to win medals for the country. Pride and ego bring his downfall and soon his entire life is shattered. What happens next is the journey of Sultan who rises from the ashes like a Pheonix. Salman after Bajrangi Bhaijaan was a sheer pleasure to watch. His transformation as a wrestler in the movie was commendable and Bhaijaan did act well in this movie.


It was difficult to pick 9 movies from the 100+ movies released in 2016. If you have your own favorites please do comment below.

Let’s Talk Films With Manoj Chandila

Today on LTFW we have one of my best friends – model turned actor Manoj Chandila talking about movies, masti, and magic. So here are excerpts from our short conversation.


What kind of movies you love to watch & how many in a day can you watch?
Movies are a state of trance for me & I would want to be in that state for as long as I can be (laughs). If I have enough time on hand I can even watch films from morning 6am to 6pm. It’s difficult to choose one film as my favorite but Dustin Hoffman’s “TOOTSIE” remains a loved film forever.

Since what age are you watching movies?
It has to be the time when I started acting & I developed a feverish love for films (smiles).

You being an actor… tell me one movie that you remember that has the main lead playing an actor?
Oh!! It’s Dustin in Tootsie again and Farhan Akhtar in Luck By Chance.

Have you ever imagined yourself to be a superhero and tried to wear your briefs over your pants and tried to save the world?
(Guffaws) No… never in my wildest dreams… However, if I am provided with that kind of power I would most certainly want to save the world from coming atrocities and dangers.

What is your secret fantasy when it comes to movies and movie stars?
Why would I tell u my secret fantasy, as revealing it to u it would be no more a secret (winks).

Fine… Moving on, the most bizarre movie you have ever watched?
There was a film called “Boom” starring Amitabh Bachchan and Katrina Kaif, and it was a real headache (holds his head dramatically).

Your favorite movie and why?
Well DDLJ remains my all time favorite and when it comes to Hollywood, I already told – Tootsie (smiles). Oh yes, add The Scent of a Woman too….these films are special in their own way and style, and I like them for how beautifully they are woven and executed.

The corniest dialogue you have ever heard?
“Police ne tumhe charo taraf se gher liya hai” has been the one but I recently watched a Hindi film in which the judge in a court room scene repetitively & incessantly says “Order Order”.

A movie dialogue you tend to use often or comes to your mind now?
We don’t normally use any film dialogue in real life unless the situation is funny but once I do remember I bought shoes and they had to be delivered to my house and telling a store manager my name as Vijay Dinanath Chauhan after writing this name on the bill he paused and said “you are joking, right sir?” We both laughed after that (smiles).

Any filmmaker you would want to maroon in an island for making crappy movies?
Let me reach that stage where I can name them…save this question until that next major interview, please (winks).

Message to fellow movie buffs?
Watch as many movies as u can and if you are an actor then stakes are much higher. You should be a walking film library. It enriches u both consciously & subconsciously.

Thank you so much for being a part of LTFW and wish you all the best for your future endeavors (smiles)
You too and I am waiting for your next book release Alfie The Elf… I just loved the first three chapters you shared with me, in fact, my daughter has already become a huge fan of Alfie (smiles).

Thank you, Alfie is on the way… we are planning a November release.


Movie Review: ‘Sultan’ has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

No EID is EID without a Salman Khan blockbuster releasing every year. This year YRF and Ali Abbas Zafar bring in the much-anticipated Salman Khan  movie of the year – Sultan. Set against the backdrop of wrestling this Salman-Anushka starrer is actually a love story.

The movie begins with Akash Oberoi (Amit Sadh) who is one of the stakeholders in Pro-Take Down (which is one of its kind MMA wrestling tournament) trying to save it’s existence. His father Parikshit Sahni advises him to get Sultan (Salman Khan) who was once the world champion in wrestling, on board to change his fate. Inspired by the story told to him by his father, Akash reaches the village where Sultan leads a non-existent life. After Sultan refuses Akash’s offer to wrestle in Pro-Take Down tournament, he goes searching for the reason that made a world champion leave his glory and game forever.

The movie then moves into a flashback revealing Sultan and Aarfa’s love story. Sultan Ali Khan, who was once an aimless man dabbling with cable TV business, finds his passion for wrestling when he falls head over heels in love with the fierce and independent wrestler Aarfa (Anushka Sharma), daughter of a famous wrestling coach who teaches the sport in an authentic and rustic Indian akhada. Their love story turns into marriage after Sultan turns into a passionate wrestler who gears up to take down the world with his unique moves and starts winning championships. As pride takes over the mind of a talented Sultan, a loss of his loved one reduces his fame to ashes. In an attempt to regain his lost love and respect in the eyes of Aarfa, Sultan once again takes up a challenge – he joins Aakash to fight against the world champions of Mixed Martial Arts and is ready to go to any lengths to regain everything he has lost.

Ali Abbas Zafar after two failed attempts – Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday, comes up trumps with Sultan. The script in it’s whole is an entertaining one and has all the ingredients to make it a huge hit among the audience. Although, let me clarify here that it is not a very unique or never-done-before plot but still it is a sheer pleasure to watch this love story set in the background of wrestling. The dialogues are wonderful, the screenplay is flawless although the editor could have trimmed down few scenes in the second half to make it more pacier. The first half is absolutely filmy and entertaining while the second half is more dedicated towards the rise of a fallen hero showing more of wrestling matches and training.

Performances by every actor are top notch. Salman Khan shows why he is at the top of his game. He gets into the character of Sultan as if the character was just made for him. You forget he is the superstar we all like to idolize instead you will see the character taking over the frames like his earlier release Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Anushka has given a very strong performance. She looks, acts, talks like a Haryanvi wrestler. Amit Sadh is a pleasure to see on the screen. He should be given more meaty roles and movies so that a talent like him can be nurtured and not lost to anonymity. Randeep Hooda is powerful but wasted in a cameo. The actor who has played Sultan’s friend Govind (Anand) is awesome. He is another actor to look out for. Kumud Mishra as Sultan’s coach and Aarfa’s father is quite impactful.

Music by Vishal-Shekhar is quite nice especially Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai, Jag Ghumeya and the title track. Background score by Julias Packiam is nice and goes with the theme of the movie. Cinematography by Artur Zurawski is excellent while action choreography by Larnell Stovall is praiseworthy.

On the whole, Sultan is definitely a movie to watch out for as it has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

My Verdict: ****

Tiger Shroff’s BAAGHI Trailer is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The new trailer of Sabir Khan directed and Sajid Nadiadwala produced Baaghi got released today. The movie starring Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor is quite gripping and arouses curiosity. The most outstanding part of the trailer is the fight sequences filmed on Tiger and he amazes and how!


Sabir Khan as a directed has concentrated this time more on Tiger’s USP of being a martial arts prodigy and has done full justice to it. After watching the trailer I am more curious and excited to watch Jackie Shroff’s cubs outing. Hope I wont be disappointed this time 🙂

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 😉

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: 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: 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.


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.


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.


Baahubali – The 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 – The Conclusion is one of the most awaited movies of 2016.


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.


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: 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: 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.


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: Bajirao Mastani ‘Epic’ Movie!


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: ****

Movie Review: ‘Tamasha’ Zindagi Ka


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 – what 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 – Ved 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 – the 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: ****

Movie Review: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo – B-L-O-C-K-B-U-S-T-E-R!


I am one of those guys who grew up on movies like Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun! and Hum Saath Saath Hai. I still remember my parents would always encourage me to see a Sooraj Barjatya movie over any other movies especially Rangeela, which was too bold for the 90’s generation of kids. This Diwali will remain special for many of Sooraj Barjatya and Salman Khan fans as the director-actor duo have come together with a film after 16 years.

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo like all Sooraj Barjatya movies was much awaited, and the raised expectations were clearly met. As I sat in the theater watching the movie, it transported me back to my childhood. Even with passing years and trends, Sooraj has still maintained his brand of filmmaking and I am sure he is the only director who can still make the new-age kids watch his kind of tradition and culture laden movies along with their parents.

The story is very simple and plain. The plot seems to be borrowed from Anthony Hope’s novel ‘The Prisoner Of Zenda’ rather than the much speculated Mark Twain novel ‘The Prince and The Pauper’. Prem (Salman Khan) is a nautankiwala who is besotted with Princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor) who is engaged to Vijay (Salman Khan again) the Prince of Pritampur. Vijay’s step-brother (Niel Nitin Mukesh) hatches a conspiracy to eliminate Vijay just before the coronation so that he can claim the throne, power and riches. With a twist of fate, Prem gets to live the life of Vijay and gets closer to Princess Maithili. What happens to Prem and Maithili? Will they get to live a happily ever after life or Maithili gets back with Vijay? What happens to Vijay’s brother and sisters? Will they realize their mistake and get back together? These are questions which get answered as you watch the movie.

Performances are top notch. Salman as the simpleton Prem and Prince Vijay does a wonderful job. He is the ‘jaan’ of the movie and is seen from first frame to last. Sonam as Maithili looks beautiful and acts superbly. Niel Nitin Mukesh and Arman Kohli do justice to their parts while Swara Bhaskar as usual is wonderful. The supporting cast consisting of Anupam Kher, Suhasini Mulay, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Deepak Dobriyal etc are good.

Music by Himesh Reshammiya is superb. The title tracks is wonderful and so are Jalte Diye, Halo Re, Aaj Unse Milna Hai, Prem Leela, Bachpan and Jab Tum Chaho. The cinematography and sets are great. The grandiose sets are well captured and you definitely feel that you are a part of the Sooraj Barjatya family.

The story, screenplay and dialogues are wonderful. I am too small to judge the direction capabilities of Sooraj Barjatya, he is God when it comes to making his brand of movies and always leaves a stamp on the viewer’s heart and mind with his storytelling abilities.

On the whole, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is the best ever gift Salman Khan has given to his fans and general public on a Diwali. Please do go and watch the movie and I am sure you will want to watch it again!

My Verdict: *****

Chai With Shai: Find out why Yuvraaj likes Salman without shirt!

Meeting friends over a cup of chai is something I love to do. After ages I met one such dear friend of mine Yuvraaj Parashar who recently starred in Dunno Y2. Today in Chai With Shai, Yuvraaj bares himself and talks about his life, struggles, movies etc. Here is an excerpt of our conversation that highlights the victory of an underdog. 


How did your journey with Bollywood start?
I am from a small town – Agra. My journey was not very easy. Basically I am a dancer and used to dance from my childhood. Whenever I used to go for shows, people around used to tell me to become an actor. I got encouraged by them and started dreaming of becoming an actor. In fact when I came to Mumbai, I didn’t even know where to go and how to start my career. I went around knocking the doors of many casting agencies and production houses and people used to shoo me off saying I can never make it. Those were depressing times. I used to come back to my room, look at my shields and trophies and question my talent. I often thought were these trophies given to me for my talent all a fallacy? However, I shook myself up and decided that I will definitely prove everyone wrong and achieve my dream of being an actor.

How did your family react to your decision to pursue acting and Bollywood?
My family always encouraged my decision however, initially my father was not in favour but seeing my determination he also gave in.

You said you are a dancer and since childhood you have been dancing. So have you taken any formal training in dancing?
I have taken training in Kathak and Salsa but not for Bollywood dancing. From the age of 3 or 4 I have been dancing.

If Remo D’souza offers you ABCD 3 would you do it?
Of course! I am waiting for that day (smiles).

Have you approached any director for work?
I have in my initial days but I was always rejected saying who told you, you can dance or act? But then today by God’s grace I am an actor and am doing some meaningful roles.


You have been surrounded by controversies ever since you became a part of Bollywood. However, you have always stood strong and faced them patiently, what gives you so much strength?
I get my strength from my God. The strength comes within me. Also my family. Any controversy, any bad situation then always stood by me and that gave me strength to face such situations in life (smiles).

(Laughs) Yes, touchwood!

I had read somewhere that your family disowned you for signing Dunno Y. How far is it true?
It is true but not after signing Dunno Y but when the movie was made and we were promoting it. My family obviously didn’t know what movie I had signed so they didn’t object to it then. But when the movie was getting promoted on TV and the posters were put up, people in Agra who knew my family starting talking bad about me and my choice of movie. They told my parents that I am doing some porn movie and the posters showed me standing naked. My parents were affected with those talks and stopped talking to me, especially my father, close to two years.

Then how did things sort out between you and your family?
I was in regular touch with my mother but dad was not talking to me. Zeenatji (Aman) came to know about it and she was sweet enough to talk to my parents and make them understand that if the movie was bad would people like her, Helenji and Kabir Bediji work in it? Would a legend like Lataji sing for the movie? Better sense prevailed and soon things were normal between us. Today my parents are my biggest supporter (laughs). They are proud of me today and when Dunno Y2 released my father called up each and every person he knew telling them that ‘my son’s’ second movie has released (laughs).

How did Dunno Y1 happen?
Kapil and I used to go to the same dance classes and slowly we became friends. During our conversations he told me about Dunno Y and how he was looking for an actor. When he asked me if I would be interested, I said why not and that’s how things fell in place and Dunno Y1 got made.

Did you have any apprehensions playing a gay man on-screen?
No. I loved the subject. The character was interesting and therefore I went with it. I never wanted to do conventional movies where I had a couple of songs, few fight sequences, dance around the trees etc.


I understand you had to go through a lot of struggle before and after Dunno Y1 was made. How did you sail through that period?
Before the movie I had to go through the normal struggling period however, after the movie was made and released, I went through the worst phase of my life. You might not know that I also became a partner in the movie. I had invested in the movie when it was completed and ready for release. I lost a lot of money when the movie didn’t get a proper release nor did it do well during its theatrical run. All those luxuries and comfort I had before I invested in the movie ran out. There were days when I did not eat and was in depression for a long time. When I look back I feel all those experiences only made me strong and determined to make it big in the industry.
Did the attitude of the industry people change after Dunno Y1 bagged many international awards and recognition?
Yes it did but then I believe people who judge you on the basis of a success or a failure are not the right people to be with. I like to keep myself far away from such people.

The songs are very melodious especially the songs sung by Lataji and Salma Agha. How did you convince Lataji to come out of her hibernation?
I would give all credit to Kapil (laughs). When we approached Lataji, she loved the story and the song, and she came on board. In fact apart from the Dunno Y series she has not sung for anyone and we consider it as a blessing (smiles).

Whom can you say are your friends in this industry?
Kapil Sharma and also his father Mr. K.C. Sharma. I share a very beautiful and warm relationship even with our age difference. He is a very positive person and always tell me if God has brought you to this industry then he will help you sail through.

Who conceptualized and designed the innovative posters of Dunno Y2?
(Laughs) It was a team decision.

Come on someone would have suggested it right?
Yes (laughs). It was my idea (smiles). We wanted to do something quirky to get our movie noticed and say that they want to see it…

…and it did work (smiles)
Thank you (smiles)


Any funny events that happened during the filming of Dunno Y2?
There is this scene where we are in a dance club and my character had to make Kapil’s character jealous as we are having some friction between us. So I had to approach this junior artist and kiss him, and to my surprise that actor actually smooched me and I was taken aback (laughs).

Have men hit on you?
Yes many a time but now I know how to handle it (laughs).

When Dunno y1 released 377 act was abolished and now when Dunno Y2 has released the act is back on. What is your take on this act?
I feel this is not justified and 377 should be permanently scrapped. Because you cannot punish someone for falling in love. Moreover, this act was introduced by British and even after independence we are still following the acts left behind by them. My last word on it, abolish 377 permanently (smiles).

If you look at Hollywood, there are movies made for every kind of audience eg: rom-com, action, porn, gay themed movies, historical etc. Why is it that we don’t see that kind of experiments being done in India?
I feel we should also make movies for each kind of audience because whoever wants to see a movie will definitely see his kind of movie. Like during our promotions we put up a post that said “Agar PK dekhke tu Alien nahi bana toh Dunno Y dekhkar tu gay nahi banega.”

Yes I have seen that post and had also shared it (laughs).
Agar movies dekhke log waise ban gaye toh we would have seen so many doctors and lawyers and criminals everywhere. So I feel as creative people we should strive to make movies that will appeal to everyone.

Gay characters are often used as an object to raise laughter in Indian movies, what’s your take on it?
It is totally unjustified. There are so many straight acting gay men, not every gay guy is feminine. So stereotyping people in movies is not good. Audience should see Dunno Y2 to understand what I am talking about (winks).

How did the Norwegien collaboration happen and what was the idea behind hiring a co-director – Tonje Gjevjon along with Sanjay Sharma?
They saw Dunno Y1 in a film festival held in Israel and approached us. We worked on the story together and Sanjayji always knew that it is a collaborative movie and he was okay with it. The entire shoot went up

premiere 1

Both movies had some great songs, so who chose the music?
Nikhil Kamath is the whole and sole person who should get all the credit. Not only the songs he has done a fantastic job with the background music too.

Great! Okay, Yuvi it’s time for some fun. Are you ready?
Fun??? (raises eyebrows)

(Laughs) Relax, I am going to ask you some questions and you have to give me some quirky replies. Done?
Phewww! Go ahead shoot (laughs).

What is your wildest fantasy?
What??? (laughs uncontrollably) I have never thought of this.

Give a thought and answer (laughs)
Okay… let me think (pauses and then starts laughing). Going on a date with Madhuri Dixit… is this good enough?

You are giving me this answer to please me (laughs).
(Joins laughter) Nothing like that.

Your dream date
Madhuri Dixit

Nice (smiles). Future Ahead?
I am part of a musical play Hyacinth directed by Sandip Soparkar and there are few movies that are in planning stage.

You suck at this, let’s play rapid fire, okay?
(laughs) Cool!

One person you want to romantically pair up on-screen other than Kapil for Dunno Y3?
John Abraham

The hottest male star in Bollywood?
Salman Khan

Your dream role?
Shah Rukh’s role in Devdas.

Favorite movie in Hollywood with a LGBT theme?
Brokeback Mountain

One night stand or dinner date?
Dinner Date (giggles).

Does size matter?
Depends what size are you referring to (bites tongue).

kapil yuvraaj zeenat

Hmm… Should I elaborate?
No! No! (laughs).

Dream director?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Salman with shirt or without?
Without (winks).

Who among the current actors you feel would have suited the role of Ashley and Aryan other than you and Kapil?
Ashley – Ranbir Kapoor Aryan – Varun Dhawan.

Wow what a choice! (Laughs) Hollywood or Bollywood?
Of course Bollywood!

Your favorite author?
Of course you!

You definitely made my day (winks). It was such a pleasure to catch up with you Yuvi, all the best for your future endeavours.
Thanks Shaiju.

Movie Review: Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 – Old Wine In New Bottle!


This week opens with the sequel to the 2011 surprise hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama. It has become a fashion to ride on the back of one’s successful movies when your last movie is a flop. That’s what director Luv Ranjan does after the debacle of his last release – Aakash-Vani by following it up with Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.

Coming to the story, there is nothing new apart from two new boys and one new girl added to the cast. The story, the premise and situations is similar to the previous movie with few added punchlines and better dialogues. Like in the previous movie, the three boys Gogo (Karthik Aryan), Siddharth (Sunny Singh) and Thakur (Omkar Kapoor) are best friends and roommates. Out of the three boys, Thakur has a steady job that pays him a lucrative pay, which also helps his pile on friends to lead a life of luxury. The three boys fall in love with three different girls on the same day and they even easily pataofy the girls.

After the initial honeymoon days, the boys realize their mistake of being with the girls. The girls, Ruchika (Nushrat Bharucha) being a spoilt brat is more interested in keeping her friends happy rather than her boyfriend Gogo and makes him do things that he normally wouldn’t. Kusum (Ishita Raj), Thakur’s girlfriend is an outspoken and controlling person, who in the name of handling his finances makes him spend more on her while Supriya (Sonali Sehgall), Siddharth’s girlfriend makes him do all the household chores to please her parents, only to approve of a guy selected by them. What happens to the boys and their lovers? Will the girls repent and try to pataofy the boys? Will the boys leave the girls and look for someone else are few things you will discover while watching the movie.

The story, screenplay is nothing new, it just plays around with the same concept as seen in the previous movie however, the dialogues by Rahul Mody, Tarun Jain and Luv Ranjan is praiseworthy. Musically the movie doesn’t boast of any chartbusters although the movie has three music directors Hitesh Sonik, Sharib Sabri and Toshi Sabri while the background music by Hitesh Sonik keeps the audiences hooked to the movie. The editing by Akiv Ali and Ajay Sharma is crisp while the cinematography by Sudhir Chaudhary is average.

Coming to performances, all the three male actors have done a wonderful job. Among the girls Nushrat takes the cake while Sonali and Ishita is average. Director Luv Ranjan does a decent job however, would want to see him do something better than just known for his PKP series.

Overall it is a decent one-time watch.

My Verdict: ***