Movie Review: Love Games – Bad Execution, Good Performances!

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This week saw the release of Vikram Bhatt’s Love Games starring Tara Alisha Berry, Patralekha and debutant Gaurav Arora, alongside the brilliantly crafted and loved The Jungle Book. Vikram Bhatt remembered for brilliant movies in the past viz; Kasoor, Ghulam, Raaz, Fareb, Awara Pagal Deewana etc. dishes out a not so brilliant movie this time.

The story starts with the Ramona Raichand (Patralekha) a sex addict, losing her husband in an accident. Immediately you see her finding peace in the arms of her fuck buddy Sameer Saxena (Gaurav Arora) and drugs alongside playing a grieving widow in front of the society. Sameer aka Sam, on the other hand, is a rich, lonely son of a wealthy businessman who is addicted to self-harm, drugs and sex. He also consults a psychiatrist (Rukhsar) for his depressive state owing to his dark past. Bored with his life and to find some adventure he decides to accompany his sex buddy Ramona in ‘Love Games’ which is a game of infidelity where it is all about seducing happy couples and getting laid with them. Sam has to score the wife, while Ramona has to go for the husband and whoever gets laid first wins. And the loser will supply a week of cocaine to the winner!

Amidst this game, things get serious when Sam falls in love with Dr. Alisha Asthana (Tara Alisha Berry), married to an abusive criminal lawyer Gaurav Asthana (Hiten Tejwani). Sam’s growing closeness to Alisha does not go down well with Ramona who wants Gaurav to still remain her fuck buddy and fulfill her sexual desires. What happens to Gaurav who is stuck between his love for Alisha and an obsessive sex maniac Ramona forms the rest of the story .

To start with the movie has a novel plot which no one has witnessed in Bollywood yet. However, Vikram Bhatt as a director fails in executing the same. Also the backstory for each character to justify their act is not very convincing. Gaurav’s character seems to be the way he is because his mother left him and his father to be with another man. Patralekha’s character is dark because she does not believe in love as she was repeatedly raped by her uncle when she was a kid and her boyfriend left her pregnant. Tara’s character as the tortured and battered wife has no justification apart from her husband being a powerful lawyer who will not spare her if she tried to divorce him. These theories do not justify the characters completely. The dialogues are corny and at times sound really boring. On the story level the Bhatts had a great idea but as it was developed into a script and later transferred to the screen, it remains a half-baked and boring movie.

Coming to performances, Gaurav Arora for a debutant has got a very complex character to play and he justified the same with his performance, expressions and body language. It’s a great debutant performance by him and will shine out with future movies. Tara Alisha Berry is a revelation. She has come out with a natural and mature performance and at times your heart goes out to her. You feel like comforting her and could feel her pain even though the character was not well-developed. She is one talent to watch out for in the future. Patralekha who came out with a brilliant performance in CityLights fails a bit. Her voice for a matter does not compliment the dark character she portrayed. She sounds screechy and it would have been better if Vikram could have dubbed her voice. At times she goes overboard with her performance. However, one cannot write her off as she seems to be a director’s actor. Hiten Tejwani is a miscast. He looks and acts uncomfortable and therefore this brilliant actor could not get into his character and do justice to the role. He is awkward and uncomfortable in the sexual scenes as well.

The music is not that great when you compare with the excellent compositions one associate with Vishesh Films and T-Series. The editor couldn’t do much when the screenplay itself was bad.

Overall, this is one movie that has some good performances but a lackluster content. Could have been better.

My Verdict: ** (extra one star for the actors)

Movie Review: The Jungle Book – VFX Classic by Disney!

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is one of the most famous and read book worldwide. If you are a kid from the 90’s then you will remember the cartoon series that used to come on Doordarshan with the same name and who can forget the all time hit song from the series composed by Vishal Bhardwaj and written by Gulzar – Jungle Jungle Pata Chala Hai, which is still a hit among kids.

This week Disney released the movie adaptation of the much-loved book directed by Jon Favreau laden with VFX and 3D starring Neel Sethi. The movie literally follows the book telling the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi) a human boy raised by the wolves Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) and Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) ever since he was a baby and brought to them by Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), the black panther. When the fearsome scarred Bengal Tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens his life since man isn’t allowed in the jungle, Mowgli leaves his jungle home. Guided by Bagheera and Baloo the bear (Bill Murray), he sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the man-hunting Shere Khan. Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who do not exactly have his best interests at heart including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) the python and the smooth-talking Bornean orangutan-resembling Gigantopithecus King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower. Will Mowgli succumb to King Louie’s wishes and assist him in attaining the red flower, will he defeat Shere Khan, or will he forsake the jungle for the safety of the human village is what the rest of the film is all about.

The film that combines live action with flawless CGI animation is a visual masterpiece. Neel Sethi the 12-year-old child debutant does a wonderful job. I would highly recommend him for all the major awards for the best actor category as he has given a performance that can put most of the experienced actors to shame. The voices of popular actors like Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley etc.,  used for the various animals does justice to their characters.

The technical team from the cinematographer Bill Pope, to the entire VFX team and editor Mark Livolsi needs to be given a standing ovation. They have come up with a technical masterpiece. The animals in the movie for not even a frail second makes you think are artificial. The 3D as well as the sound design further adds to the charm of the movie.

Overall this is a wonderful movie that offers spectacular visual treat and one should definitely go and watch! Highly Recommended!!

My Verdict: ****