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Padmaavat Movie Review (2018) | You Can’t Sunder a Movie From Its Audience

What could you possibly say for a movie that’s dying to be seen? Trying to breathe in a world that is not of its time. Padmaavat movie tried hard to be seen, finally battled its way to fruition and was successful in slapping itself on the big screen, to the very place where it belonged. A movie should be watched because it is meant to be, just like a book that always manages to find a reader. We understand the very purpose of it, the very essence of its creation. You cannot stop what’s destined.

Padmaavat was a fully flawed movie with plenty of mistakes. It housed issues aplenty but did it deserve all the hate even before it made its way to the theatres? All I could remember is resonance. People who did not even know the supposedly esteemed woman, resonated at the same frequency of the mass. A perfect paragon of what our society is – a brainless resonating blob. Incapable of thinking their own minds out loud. We are not afraid of what we might say, but how one would react to it. And if we are on the same pedestal then we have a means to rise up strong.

Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmaavati in Padmavat

Why does it affect us? Why does any of it affect us? If a person whom we haven’t seen is revered so much, why not a person who we see deserve our reverence? Are we supposed to wait for our veneration, say about a generation? Are we supposed to wait for our voice to echo and be effectual, about a lifetime? Can we only talk about the dead when they are gone so that they don’t have a say in what we do?

It goes without saying that a billion of us wouldn’t even know who Padmavati was unless someone either wrote about it or made a movie on that topic. I think to remember is to pay tribute, and that should be it.

The Brilliance of Padmaavat Movie

Before getting into what issues Padmaavat movie had, I would like to celebrate it, not only for coming out strong from a place of death and destruction but also for standing tall as a victor. There are no Senas capable enough to fight the educated part of the country, who are aware of the rights, and who stand by the constitution and respect it more than an unfortunate story. Those who have watched it despite the threats are the true victors. You showed ’em, alright!

What truly stands out in Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s movies is its screenplay and its dialogues. I was looking forward to that bit in particular. And must I say, I wasn’t at all disappointed. They were extremely well written by, apparently, a poet who understands what it is to bind a word. His words have been well converted and they feel music to the ears. They are very descriptive and poetic in nature.

Ranveer Singh as Khilji

SLB scores yet again in theatricalization of even a normal conversation. But sometimes he overdoes it, which I would talk about in the next section. The next big thing about the flick was, hands down, Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. He recreated the magic that he had created in Bajirao Mastani. His acting is by far the best we have seen, and it is amazing that he has fallen under SLB’s stamp. He is one of the only great things about Padmaavat movie. He literally makes every scene lively.

Ranveer has been branded and presented as a mad dog whose hunger for winning wars was peerless. If there was a better actor he would have probably failed to give Khilji that touch of finesse that Ranveer so brilliantly aces. He has that natural knack for it, that getting into the skin of Khilji didn’t seem like much of a problem for him.

still of Ranveer Singh as Khilji in Padmaavat movie

One cannot also overlook his energy which is simply hard to match. Even with its songs that play as celebrations, he is so committed to the role that you don’t see him fidgeting at all, even when you realize that SLB has deliberately asked him to look at the camera while dancing. A well-choreographed move to instill immediate intimidation and admiration for all those frantic moves. (Okay, they were maybe a tad funny!)

Funny reminds me of Jim Sarbh‘s performance as Malik Kafur. Somehow his being out of place fitted him extremely well in the Padmaavat movie. He aced his performance as a man trying to find his ground despite being invariably close to Khilji.

Then there is the presentation which as a matter of fact stands precariously at the edge of good and bad. There were some epic scenes that make you marvel at SLB’s creation. But then again there were some scenes that you somehow know could have been shot better.

Issues with Padmaavat Movie

While there were a lot of things to mesmerize you in Padmaavat movie, there were many that leave you pointing fingers at the filmmaking. Cinematography, for instance, wasn’t that great, to be honest. You don’t see the cinematographer panning with characters, or experimenting with the edits. It is kept fairly simple and distant. The latter is something that is quite frankly miffing. Like a scene at the beginning where Ranveer walks in dancing, the camera has been kept really far that takes away the life from his dancing. Sadly, that has been done throughout the movie. Bottom-line, the judgment of cinematography was really poor.

Then there is that bad VFX that literally pops out and pricks your eyes. I mean how hard is it for a widely popular director to hire someone from Hollywood to get it right? Don’t tell me he was running low on resources. That ostrich looked like an unreal animated snake!

Then you cannot overlook the evident set in the first meeting of Padmaavat and Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). You could literally feel the floodlights illuminating the make-believe jungle. A laughable mistake is that Deepika Padukone has been deliberately “painted” white by the VFX team. In every scene, since the talk is about how beautiful Padmaavat is, she has been intentionally shone like a star. It is alright to stay human, you know! 😀 There is one scene where there is a fire burning in the room which is clearly hitting Shahid’s face but not a flame of warmth or light hits her face. She appears dead white! Ah! the obsession with being fair continues.

Lack of Chemsitry

While there is something really soothing about watching Padmavati slap colors on Ratan Singh in an unearthly artistry and fashion, what you cannot overlook is how hollow it feels. It appears as if there was someone watching them do it and they are supposed to be as presentable as they could be. They cannot be themselves. In doing all of that, both the actors miss out on their chemistry. They look not in love rather like robots put in a scene to enact the presentable. In their endeavour to remove the uggos, they become unnatural.

Shahid Kapoor as Ratan Singh in Padmaavat

Then it was Shahid Kapoor himself who felt like a robot Ratan Singh. He was impossible to believe. Apart from the parts where he had had sudden outbursts at Khilji and Padmavati, you don’t see him acting really. He was just standing there trying hard not to screw up and mess his perfect mustache.

Misplaced Poetry in Padmaavat Movie

The final moments where Padmaavati decides to burn herself along with hundred others, that scene I think ended up losing its gargantuan import. There is something huge about voluntarily putting yourself into the fire. Not only does it take balls to do that but it also walks in with apprehension. The audience couldn’t feel their skin tingle as she made her way into the pyre, I think the whole point was lost if you fail to elicit gasps.

You have to make them believe it is fire. (VFX guys you screwed it up again!) What it could do to you, despite that knowledge you are plunging into it, it is something inexplicable. With SLB’s version of showing Padmavati walking into it with Khilji failing to catch a glimpse, felt all theatricalized for cheap thrills. The whole point of the end, the real substance in it went missing. It should have torn us apart, but unfortunately, it didn’t.

Like too much of theatrics at times messed with the flow. Like how the figurative became literal when the Pandit picked up the fire (weird looking fire of course) and swallowed it. It was like….whaaaaaaat? Why do you have to actually do it to prove the heft of your words?

Prior to the final war, when Khilji couldn’t sleep and he decides to wait for Padmaavati to show, there was something poetic about that scene that unfortunately wasn’t milked properly. That wait, that imaginative wings Khilji might have fluttered for an unseen face, I felt a poetry lingering in those frames. To put a face to a name, to paint a picture in your head of a beauty one has only heard praises about. I think that were some of the important junctures that were overlooked.

Wars Taking Lives Forever

How hard is it to see that war was never good? That nothing of value ever emanated from ashes. The very hypocrisy of it drapes all those who have decided, influenced by the brainless, to not watch a movie. They chose to pick their weapons as if war is still a solution to everything. Those who don’t have a voice, they are the ones who pick a sword because it is easier to pluck one out of their time-loop than to go through all the trouble and embarrassment of facing them. Isn’t that right?

The reasons on which wars were fought were never fair. It isn’t still. Why should a soldier fight for a cause that’s written on something so petty as one’s desire? How could one possibly fight for something so trivial?

Ranveer Singh as Khilji in Padmaavat

Was Amir Khusrow just a poet who did not understand the pointlessness of war? Or was he just as rabid as Khilji who chose to suppress his emotions for the crushed? Padmavat isn’t interested in that answer. It is just interested in how a man was unable to see a woman, as he lived unfulfilled. That she chose death over becoming someone else’s plaything.

The Final Verdict

Padmaavat movie is a victim of time. It could have been just in its own period. Maybe if they recreated a scene from it back then, maybe it would have made the mob happy. But why are we concerned about what a group of people think, right?

Why is Padmaavat so revered into the heads of the people that they have decided already to severe heads of those who even tried to project a mortal as a mortal? Then why is the Ramayana still celebrated through Ram Leelas all across? Why are heads not rolling for that epic story? Is it because it’s not a victim to groupism?

India is a land of constant struggle. Was that just independence that we craved for? Or was it something more? Maybe a little bit education to understand what’s beneath us. What’s beneath us is just ground. You think we have learned to think broad, but we haven’t. It is just the attire we copy from the West. Our minds are decadent, still reeking of stories from the past. It wasn’t our time, and yet we live it as if it were. That whatever happened, whatever mistakes people, who roamed the earth like dinosaurs, committed, were all just.

They were wrong, maybe in their time they would have been right, but they would still be wrong in choosing to take lives even if it wasn’t theirs to take. The flick lives you with a dozen questions until you start questioning your very own conscience.

xXx Return of Xander Cage Review (2017) | He Shouldn’t Have Returned

Mindless action! xXx Return of Xander Cage bends laws of physics, banks on cliched action at times to deliberately showcase what its director thinks “would look cool” stunts. It has cheesy lines galore, and a really insipid plot in its baggage. The worst however remains, that instantly piercing and bothering demeanour that Vin Diesel wears throughout the flick. His smugness is the worst. It makes you go, “Is this guy for real?” Overlook Vin and you see how hollow, cliched, stupid and pointless the whole movie is.

Plot of xXx Return of Xander Cage (Spoilers)

Presumably dead the legend, Xander Cage (the one who gets on your nerves avatar of Vin Diesel) from the first one, is hunted down by CIA to bring a stolen device called Pandora’s Box back. It is a device that can ensue destruction on a massive scale, since it holds the reins of military satellites. To successfully complete the mission he hires his own team, deliberately throwing an unprepared bunch of soldiers out of a moving plane. Whaaaat?

Wait, that’s nothing. He breaks a gun, yes! a frigging gun with his knees just to prove a point! He brags a lot about himself, or let others go on and on about him, which gets on your nerves.

To make matters further indigestible, he goes on a bike chase in the sea. I repeat, in the sea! When that’s going on, you wonder if they plan on ever stopping. A water station maybe? To get some gas? They appear as if they were planning on crossing the ocean on their bikes.

The Competition

His competition is Xiang portrayed by Donnie Yen who is the guy Cage is supposed to race to get the Pandora’s box before he does. Xiang has plans of his own and a team too. Eventually both the teams end up joining hands to fight the double crossing government instead. In words of Sebastian from La La Land:

“It is all very very exciting.”

All seemingly cool frames seem very deliberately created just to prove a scene. There is one bit that shows Cage playing with grenades with Xiang and Serena (Deepika Padukone). What a way to make a conversation! *Facepalm* It is hands down one of the most forced scenes in the movie, and makes it very laughable. You know, spoofs get made because of such absurdity!

image of Vin Diesel Deepika Padukone and Donnie Yen in xXx Return of Xander Cage movie

Oh wait! Cage gets shot too. You know when in a movie hero would get shot, a voice in your head would always go, “he must be wearing a bulletproof vest? Or the bullet might have been stopped by an impenetrable object? Well the former’s your answer.

Yes, the story is as if a kid wrote it. I remember thinking all that stuff when I was five.

All the Shooting

Then there is that cliched gun fight scene too, where two badass chicks come out in the open and then shoot at random army of villains who somehow never stop coming. Yes the one where they are leaning against each other’s backs to look dope. Yeah! It’s all in there.

Just then to break the monotony, everyone’s bullets run out, and you predict the director has something up his sleeve, in comes the protagonist from the second part, which was an even shittier movie. Ice Cube comes with a grenade launcher reprising his role as Darius Stone and the music in the background turns into a rap. It is supposed to mean the “Lord is here!”

Tony Jaa gets a role of a psychotic fighter who looks like he has been on a strict Red Bull diet all his life. Nina Dobrev plays the one fun character that we have seen in so many movies before that it should actually cease to exist. But no! Every movie has it.

Deepika Padukone doesn’t cause any ripples either. She seems weirdly out of place whenever she comes to do her bit. Her icky walk to meet Xiang would make you wonder what the director must have been expecting to see, and what came out as a result. And he chose to include it too.

And what’s with the tats? The director D.J. Caruso seems like he must have been saying: We should not leave the tattoo! Let him wear a Capri so that the tattoos show!

Worthy Bits

If you still expect something cool to happen, then it is Donnie Yen’s fight bits that takes off the heat for a while. You watch him go full Ip Man on rogue soldiers and you get your money’s worth then and there with his badass action moves. Inclusion of known faces from the past, like Darius Stone too at one point makes you smile.

Amongst other worthy scenes, okay, now I am drawing a blank.

If you are a huge Vin Diesel fan, you can still watch it.

You can buy xXx Return of Xander Cage from here:

The Final Verdict

xXx Return of Xander Cage is nothing but a fully flawed flick. If you are a diehard Vin Diesel fan, and are ready to accept him in every avatar he portrays, this movie might make you happy.

To be honest, nobody remembers the first XXX movie. Now when did that happen? 15 years ago! I was a kid back then and might have mistakenly considered Xander Cage to be cool.

So far Vin has been mighty successful in the Fast and Furious series. He should stick to that. Because at least the direction and story there weaves up something worth watching. It lets us digest all the nonsensical stunts.

You can check out the trailer of xXx Return of Xander Cage here:

Bajirao Mastani Review (2015)

Bajirao Mastani is a charred historical saga fossilized under the Indian beds of parochial rules. Bajirao was a mighty warrior pestered by his own internal wars and trampled over as a social pariah.

SLB is all about the big and the rambunctious. So he took the epic project of helming the lost mercenary. The Peshwa who was on his way to rule India, but was deliberately slowed down by his fumed relationships, muck amplified more by societal manacles and religious hindrances, than by his own reckless head.

Ranveer aces the character of Bajirao to perfection. With his natural fluency that never leaves him for a second, a Marathi touch that jackhammers every raised voice with a witty comeback or an intervened split, he wears power with confidence. He is flamboyant in his ways, phlegmatic in his attitude towards a situation, and sheer terror when it comes to threatening his enemies. He dons a natural flair and applies it to everything he does something which is quite rare in Indian cinema.

That being said, SLB isn’t all quilts either. He does focus on crucial bits in the movie, however overlooks the apparent, taking the audience for granted at times. Like all the fight scenes in the flick are quite mediocre and over-exaggerated. If you are not in the rhythm of the movie, they would all seem almost indigestible. But oddly he cashes in on the audience’s emotional frequency and creates a superhuman that was a lost face in history.

The pace of the movie is outrageously fast, that does raise brows at its editing. You almost want to take a pit-stop to breathe, but then comes gorgeous conversations. Crucial, gut-wrenching dialogues that put the saddle back on the horse. The conversation between Mastani and Kashibai and the one between Kashibai and Bajirao before he goes to war (Heads up for that Krishna-Rukmini bit), hammer the nail further down your heart. Extremely stunning talks that reek of human impotency to set broken things right again!

The ending of the movie, which could have been smacked by a George R. R. Martin blow, ends up getting stretched beyond limit so that emotional Indian audiences connect. At times, the right emotions appear missing from every character’s face. There isn’t love and yet love is supposed to be there. So, we have to assume, since they weren’t exactly looking smitten.

If all of the above negative aforementioned vibes get overlooked, Bajirao Mastani ends up being a complete package. You can’t just ignore its soothing screenplay that is filled with brilliant dialogues and intercepting comebacks. They are witty, well thought of, and well researched. Some are quite cheesy as well, but they have been all mastered and well executed by the actors.

Bajirao Ballal ends as a true hero avalanched under the ruins of his own deeds. He lost one of the most crucial wars of his life, the mental one, as steeds race past him and his deadly blade, in his contorted head and he drowns a mortal instead of an immortal unstoppable warrior.

Every penny worth epic!

Piku Review (2015)

Piku is a well helmed flick.

Shoojit Sircar has a nick for touching the unconventional. Three years ago he had come up with a ballsy tale of sperms mashed up with a rib-tickling comedy Vicky Donor. This year he decided to stay close to the abdominal vicinity by taking up the poo project.

Piku is a comedy that scales human emotions superbly. It sways from dire sentiments to pathetic conventions that are still prevalent in the Indian society. The theme of the movie isn’t constipation alone. It takes the aforementioned in the backdrop merely for humor, and then gorgeously skims on the concept of selfless children taking care of their parents. In an altruistic world of their own, these minds are unknowingly paying back to the people who brought them to this planet. However, the question is at what cost? Juhi Chaturvedi’s story also makes you ponder sometimes how ungrateful people are and how some take the service provided to them by their children for granted.

Amitabh Bachchan bewitches us as Bashkor Banerjee with a power pack performance as a typical selfish oldie tormented by things in his head. Irrfan Khan is absolutely brilliant as a third person observant guy with a tolerant perspective. His unique natural reactions to societal ruckus keep portraying how a normal guy behaves to inadvertent villainy. Lastly let us not forget the protagonist Piku played superbly by Deepika Padukone. She looks perfectly lost in the constipation commotion and plays a neglected soul who simply cannot concentrate on her own life. She is dedicated, yet pissed, victimized and everything a woman of her age and position might actually be.

There are certain bits in the movie that jump to unfocused frames, with a lot of chatter that makes things hard to concentrate in the beginning. However, as the movie progresses things sediment down with perspective. At times, it seems to zero in as a casual road trip movie, however eventually the drama revives the tale. The flick buffs up owing to subtle one-liners, brooding remarks, humor and exceptional gravity.