Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 31, 2014

The Actors Roundtable 2014

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 2:49 am


In this interview with Rajeev Masand, four actors who delivered among the strongest performances in 2014 assemble for a candid chat. Shahid Kapoor (Haider), Ritesh Deshmukh (Ek Villain), Varun Dhawan (Main Tera Hero & Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Miss Lovely & Kick) revealed how they prepared for their most challenging roles.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 26, 2014

The Hits & Pits of 2014

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

In this segment Rajeev Masand picks his best and worst films of the year. Or as we like to call it – The Hits & Pits of 2014.

(This segment first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 23, 2014

The Actresses Roundtable 2014

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 9:18 am


In this interview with Rajeev Masand, the four leading ladies who delivered some of the strongest performances in 2014 reveal their fears and their insecurities, and share their dreams and ambitions. Tabu, Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra spoke candidly about the pressures of popularity on The Actresses Roundtable.





(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 19, 2014

The Longest Bollywood Movie-star Chain Letter

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

In this segment shot by Rajeev Masand, 11 of Bollywood’s most popular leading ladies set off the longest movie-star chain letter asking questions to each other.

(This segment first aired on CNN-IBN)

Gotta have faith!

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:33 pm

December 19, 2014

Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sanjay Dutt, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Sushant Singh Rajput

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Two films may be too few to base a theory on, but it does appear that in Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani, Bollywood has found an actor/director pair committed to telling brave, relevant stories, the sort rarely tackled in mainstream popular cinema. After delivering a well-aimed kick in the pants to our myopic, rote-learning education system in 2009’s colossally successful 3 Idiots, the team returns with PK, a film with very big…ahem…testicles. Operating in a country famously over-sensitive about religion, they’ve made a movie that brazenly ridicules our blind faith in god, and exposes the manipulations of godmen who feed off it for profit.

These truths are skillfully illustrated when seen through the eyes of an ‘outsider’, the film’s otherworldly hero, PK (played by Khan), who shows up quite literally in his birthday suit. PK speaks Bhojpuri, and has bulging eyes that seldom blink, arched eyebrows, protruding ears, and blood-red lips from permanently chewing paan. In the film’s terrific first half, we watch as PK tries desperately to recover an item of great value to him that has been stolen. When he’s told that only God can help him, he sets off earnestly to find God, discovering in the process our hypocrisies, our prejudices and our misguided obsession with religion.

Hirani and his co-writer Abhijat Joshi craft clever scenes rich in irony, like one in which PK arrives at a church service with a pooja ki thali, or one in which he attempts to enter a mosque bearing wine. It’s to the writers’ credit that they successfully mine laughs out of scenarios that might otherwise appear prickly.

We’re introduced to other characters along the way, including a well-meaning bandmaster (Sanjay Dutt) who befriends PK early on in Rajasthan. In Delhi, he encounters TV news reporter, Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), who’s at first fascinated by his idiosyncrasies, then promises to help recover what belongs to him when she learns his full story.

But the screenplay weakens post intermission, when the stage is set for a (televised) confrontation between PK and smarmy godman Tapasvee (Saurabh Shukla). Hirani lays it on thick in these portions, and to be fair much of this territory was covered already in the Paresh Rawal starrer Oh My God. Moreover, the entire climax is hinged on a plot contrivance that sticks out in an otherwise compelling film. A hastily pasted-on romantic track between PK and Jaggu feels entirely out-of-place.

Fortunately these speed-bumps don’t derail Hirani’s film, because even when the script fails, his leading man doesn’t. Aamir Khan is riveting, and consistently endearing as the child-man who poses impossibly innocent questions that sting. Never reducing the character to caricature – despite his innumerable tics – Aamir delivers one of his best performances here.

PK sticks faithfully to Hirani’s well-oiled formula, and yet there is no question that it’s a courageous film. Packed with sharp dialogue and genuinely funny moments that offset the lack of subtlety, it is easily one of the year’s better films. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for PK; the director’s best since Lage Raho Munnabhai.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 17, 2014

Anushka Sharma: “I don’t like bullies”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 1:02 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Anushka Sharma talks about her long absence from the screen, the four new releases she has lined up in the months ahead, how she bagged Rajkumar Hirani’s PK, the controversy surrounding her last appearance on Koffee With Karan, and also addresses the scrutiny she’s under for her relationship with star cricketer Virat Kohli.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 15, 2014

The Producers Roundtable 2014

Filed under: What's new — Rajeev @ 1:53 pm


In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Bollywood’s big-gun producers — the men and women behind the year’s biggest hits — reveal the bravest decisions they’ve taken in their careers, the nurturing that movies require, the clashes they’ve had with star directors, and reveal why the future is bleak for small films. Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor, Sajid Nadiadwala and Siddharth Roy Kapur explained the challenges they face while putting some of the most significant films on the screen.





(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 12, 2014

Battle high

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:33 pm

December 12, 2014

Cast: Martin Freeman, Luke Evans, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Billy Connolly, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom

Director: Peter Jackson

It’s hard not to be overcome with nostalgia while watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the last chapter in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of The Lord of the Rings prequels, and the presumed end to his massively successful journey through Middle Earth that began 13 years ago. Much like 2003’s The Return of the King, this is an out-and-out war film with thrilling battle sequences and elaborate set pieces. We’re introduced to a smorgasbord of new creatures that engage in deadly combat, but we’re also visited by beloved characters that stop by so Jackson can tie up this story to the ensuing LOTR films.

Picking up right where The Desolation of Smaug left us, The Battle of the Five Armies kicks straight into action with the very irate dragon swooping into and scorching the human village of Lake-town, while Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and his dwarvish comrades look on helplessly. It’s a chilling opening that infuses a sense of urgency into the proceedings, and one from which emerges a new hero – the brave, dragon-slaying archer Bard (a terrific Luke Evans).

Back at the Lonely Mountain, consumed by greed for Smaug’s vast treasure, dwarf-leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) sparks off the titular war when he refuses to honor his promise to share the loot with the Lake-town survivors, and the elves (led by Lee Pace’s grim-faced king Thranduil). Meanwhile, Orc armies are on the march too, even as Gandalf (Ian McKellen) recruits a few old friends to help him break out of Sauron’s dungeons.

Despite a middle portion that feels unduly flabby, the film ultimately soars in the exhilarating hour-long confrontation between dwarves, humans, elves, orcs, trolls, and all manner of strange beasts including giant bats and oversized earthworms. When he’s bored with those frenetically-edited mass clashes on the battlefield in which it’s often hard to tell who’s doing what to whom, Jackson shifts his focus to one-on-one smackdowns between our dwarf and elf heroes and those nasty orcs. The CGI, especially in these portions, has gotten progressively slicker, although I’m still not sold on the 3D, which only makes the film appear darker.

It’s a shame there isn’t much for poor Bilbo Baggins to do here; the titular hero of this trilogy got his best moments in the previous film, standing off against Smaug. The added storylines of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) are overkill, but Armitage makes his screen time as Thorin count with a richly layered performance.

Clocking in at 2 hours and 24 minutes, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the shortest film in the series. There’s awe and spectacle and some nice light-hearted moments too, but it still pales in comparison to Jackson’s original LOTR trilogy. For Tolkien nuts though, understandably it marks the end of an era. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

Deepika Padukone: “Actors and actresses contribute equally to a film. Women should be paid as much as men”

Filed under: Video Vault — Rajeev @ 6:42 pm

In this interview with Rajeev Masand, Bollywood’s current Number One-heroine Deepika Padukone talks about the great year that 2014 has been for female actresses, and explains why heroines deserve to be paid better. The actress also reveals what she’s learnt from the recently ‘cleavage controversy’ that she found herself in, and discusses how she turned Meenamma from Chennai Express and Mohini from Happy New Year into memorable characters on the screen.

(This interview first aired on CNN-IBN)

December 5, 2014

Twice the trouble

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:39 pm

December 05, 2014

Cast: Ajay Devgan, Sonakshi Sinha, Kunal Roy Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Manasvi Mamgai

Director: Prabhudheva

It takes a special kind of talent to make a film as awful as Action Jackson, so it should come as no surprise that it’s been directed by Prabhudheva, the man who inflicted on us all kinds of pain that we otherwise refer to as Rowdy Rathore and R… Rajkumar. Unlike those films, Action Jackson isn’t a ‘South remake’; it’s apparently an original script. And yet Prabhudheva whips up a similar cocktail of harebrained plot, exhausting action scenes, and crude sexist humor.

Ajay Devgan, who looks too disinterested to pull off this film’s idiotic requirements, is in a double role here, although the parts are barely distinguishable. He plays Vishy, a Mumbai goonda who can vanquish over a dozen rivals singlehandedly. He also plays AJ, a hitman-for-hire in Bangkok, who can slice and dice an army of enemies without breaking into a sweat. In the hands of a better filmmaker, this might have been an interesting device, but Prabhudeva plays it mostly for laughs. At one point, both men must switch places, which expectedly leads to humorous scenarios.

Sonakshi Sinha is cast as a presumably educated woman with a corporate job, who becomes obsessed with seeing Vishy naked because – believe it or not – she’s convinced it brings her good luck. Wait, it gets worse. Manasvi Mamgai is Marina, who, when we first see her, is about to be raped by the villain. Drugged and bound, she’s turned on by the sight of a shirtless AJ when he storms in to rescue her! There’s also Yami Gautam as AJ’s fiancée, who in one of the film’s most disturbing scenes, is repeatedly punched in the face by a hulking bad guy. All this in shocking close-up.

This film is really an orgy of bloody fight scenes punctuated by too many tuneless songs, and some juvenile gags that might amuse a six-year-old. My heart went out to poor Kunal Roy Kapoor, so good in Delhi Belly, but wasted here as Vishy’s comic sidekick. In one scene, he farts in the face of a man who’s about to sip his tea, causing a storm in his teacup…quite literally. It’s the least offensive bit in a film that assaults your senses and leaves you feeling battered and bruised.

I’m going with a generous one out of five for Prabhudheva’s Action Jackson. It’s as much fun as getting your privates stuck in your zipper.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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