28 Apr 2017

Movie Review: Baahubali 2: The Conclusion: Loud Mass Audience Fun!

Yes, I know why Katappa killed Bahubali and soon you will too. This potential stumbling block is handled competently. But arriving there takes way too much screen time, affecting the movie's impact. Now, about the rest of the movie. 
Good First Half: It was with childish glee that I greeted the opening credits of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. The Hindi dubbed version continues Katappa's narration. The two-part film is finally the father, Amrendra Bahubali's story. With an unanticipated humour track, before the fight scenes queue up, SS Rajamouli sets up the first half with some believable plot twists.
How Amrendra (Prabhas) falls for Princess Devasena (Anushka Shetty), how it affects his relations with Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) is good (though rushed) writing. The evil duo of Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati) and Bijjaladeva (Nassar) add a Shakuni-Duryodan touch to proceedings. Katappa (Sathyaraj) is but a helpless catalyst to the intrigue. Sathyaraj gets a nice surprising comic cameo though.
Epic, Exaggerated Treatment: There is no letting up to the epicness and magnificence of it all. No punch just lands, it sends you flying. When you stomp the ground, it cracks and breaks. A crowd erupts in protest and a mini-earthquake ensues. I loved it! Buildings, statues, chariots are fragile items when superhumans fight.

Rajamouli revels in the action sequences. Even an unconvincing airborne flight of soldiers over fort walls is detailed to part-conviction. As with Eega/Makkhi (2012), the director adds intelligent solutions and touches to otherwise bloated action. Baahubali 2 rests on its action, Rajamouli addresses the dynamics and creativity of fighting to entertaining, if invincible effect.
Glitches: Religious symbolism shows up in the film's critical parts, the resultant scenes end up as contrived. MM Kreem's loud, crass background music is ear-splitting and headache-inducing. The soundtrack is decent though. Art and VFX are fabulous. 

The final confrontation is a predictable, crass, age-old revenge saga. How Mahendra Bahubali regroups a handful into facing off with a 30000+ army in no time, is one among the film's many logic-blinders. Depicting violence and beheadings as deserved punishment is a misdirected, dangerous film concept.  
Influences: Characters and the storyline echo Ramayan and Mahabharat, the great Indian epics. A dam bursting sequence has a Lord of the Rings film trilogy deja vu. Numerous kung fu movie sequences echo in the action sequences. But nothing is plagiarized, the action scenes especially, sparkle with original touches. 
Performances: Prabhas plays up both Bahubalis with a macho-regal demi-god command to it. Satyaraj almost steals the show but is matched by Ramya Krishnan and Anushka Shetty, both women playing powerful, dynamic parts with great assurance. The antagonists, well played by Daggubati and Nassar are one note, victims of poor, lazy writing. Tamannaah has little to do here. 
Verdict: Baahubali 2: The Conclusion builds up as a great summer entertainer, but loses much of its fizz in the packed up final 30 minutes. It still holds up as a good fantasy adventure film, thanks to a certain standard Rajamouli sets up, superior special effects and the performances. An enjoyable one-time watch at the theaters, certainly not disappointing...far from it. 
By the way: They added an extra 'a' to the film title overnight. Superstition? Numerology? Phonetics?
Read the Bahubali:The Beginning Review 

21 Apr 2017

Movie Review: Noor: Missing the Mark, Despite the Flavour

Noor Roy Chaudhary is a broadcast journalist into her late twenties, residing in Mumbai. Noor is still a teenager at heart, with insecurities, negativity, weight issues, sobbingly single, constantly mumbling and cribbing. Noor interviews Sunny Leone in utter boredom, yawning, sneezing on camera, thus losing her job. Looking for stories that make a difference, Noor stumbles on an organ racket story. The rest of the film crawls towards resolving this angle.

Sinha dazzles as Noor 
Sonakshi Sinha as Noor is a triumph in characterization. It is Sonakshi's endearing turn and monologues that had me invested in the movie. A Bridget Jones similarity lingers, endearingly.

The other characters are sketchy at best. Noor's childhood friends, Saad (Kanan Gill) and Zaara (Shibani Dandekar) are given successful careers, but no back stories or shades. They are omnipresent as Noor's drinking, driving, support partners, the friendship needed more flesh.

Ayan's pivotal character (Purab Kohli) begs for detailing, considering his actions. Manish Chaudhari as Shekhar Das is another unelaborated role.

No Stand Out Moments 
Despite the first hour breeziness, Keiko Nakahara's aptly diluted cinematography, contemporary chitchat, Noor is weighed down by its pace and lack of a core idea. It stands up as Noor's life journal but barely registers as an uneven mix of drama, coming of age tale and attempted social thriller.

Director Sunhil Sippy gives us moments of laughter and cheer but falters in championing justice. A light-hearted comedy would have done, or a complete journalist-as-heroine thriller. It stands up as neither.

Noor largely ends up as underwhelming. This, despite the well-written, Mumbai, you are killing me monologue. Social media fame as a movie climax doesn't connect as much as human interaction does. Watch it for Sonakshi Sinha's mercurial talent in a sluggish, but well-intended film. Sinha as Noor surely has great film potential. Probably Sippy can do better in a sequel. Noor 2, anyone?

Noor is based on Pakistani journalist Saba Imtiaz's novel Karachi, You're Killing Me!