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

January 29, 2016

Boxed in

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

January 29, 2016

Cast: R Madhavan, Ritika Singh, Mumtaz Sorcar, Zakir Hussain, Nasser, MK Raina

Director: Sudha Kongara

Sports movies by their very nature tend to be predictable, formulaic affairs. They seldom deviate from such traditional narratives as the rise of the underdog, the comeback of the temporarily waylaid, the transformation of the rebel star into a team player, and the redemption of the tireless, committed coach, himself a failed professional.

Saala Khadoos, written and directed by Sudha Kongara, fails to rise above the timeworn clichés of the genre, but nevertheless succeeds in creating a credible world and, thanks to affecting performances from its principal players, gives us characters that we can care about.

Former boxer and disgraced coach Adi (R Madhavan) is exiled to Chennai by corrupt boxing federation big-shot Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain), who has an old axe to grind. Now stuck coaching below-average female boxers, Adi finds a potential champion in firebrand fish-seller Madhi (Ritika Singh), whose sister Laxmi (Mumtaz Sorcar) is part of the local boxing team. In Madhi, our cantankerous coach seems to have to met his match, a pigheaded rebel with little regard for protocol.

It’s a recipe for melodrama, and the film falls right into that trap. Clashes between coach and pupil get tiresome after a point, but unlike Mary Kom whose screenplay merely glossed over the struggle of becoming a champ, real issues are addressed more honestly here. From the politics involved in selections, to corruption, sexual harassment at the hands of officials, and even the tendency to become romantically involved with mentor figures, Kongara’s script doesn’t skimp on uncomfortable truths.

It’s the little details, however, that stay with you. A crackling confrontation scene between Madhi and her sister Laxmi cuts close to the bone, and scenes in which the girls’ mother is revealed to be more broadminded and encouraging than their father are particularly refreshing. The chemistry between Adi and his protégé is combustible stuff, and acting across the board is impressive, with credible turns from such reliable players as MK Raina and Nasser in supporting roles.

Of the central cast, Zakir Hussain is terrific as the slimy official, and Mumtaz Sorcar is very good as Laxmi. R Madhavan does a solid job as the shaggy haired, bulky built coach who refuses to give up on his troubled star, but the knockout performance is delivered by real-life boxer and acting debutant Ritika Singh who is wholly convincing as the untamable Madhi. She has an arresting presence on screen, and you’re genuinely moved by her plight.

Saala Khadoos sticks to familiar ground as far as a sports film goes, although the climatic bout is genuinely thrilling. Amidst all the faux sentimentality, we still get a protagonist that we can’t help rooting for. That is the film’s real success. I’m going with three out five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Just two much!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:38 pm

January 29, 2016

Cast: Tusshar Kapoor, Vir Das, Sunny Leone, Asrani, Suresh Menon, Shaad Randhawa, Sushmita Mukherjee

Director: Milap Zaveri

What’s with sex comedies and animals? In last week’s Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, a rat, a dog, a horse, and a parrot were each humiliated for the sake of a dirty joke or two. In Mastizaade, a horse’s tail gets accidentally caught in Vir Das’ zipper, and when Tusshar Kapoor tries to extricate his friend from the animal…well, you can guess what it looks like.

In another scene, a harmless donkey, minding his own business, is also violated for the sake of a cheap gag. Animals, however, aren’t the only ones who get the short end of the stick in Mastizaade. This film is cheerfully offensive to women, to handicapped people, to gays, to old people, and to just about anyone with a modicum of taste.

Cementing his reputation as the purveyor of all things puerile and putrid, co-writer/director Milap Zaveri (also credited with writing KKHH3 and Grand Masti) scrapes the bottom of the barrel for double-meaning jokes about ‘gotis’ and ‘kelas’, and for infantile visual gags involving well-endowed women bursting out of their blouses. We get a roster of unfortunately named characters including Dr Maalkholkar, Mr Khadawala, Titli Bubna, and UR Ashit. Also gay characters in Zaveri’s films exist only to prey on straight men.

Very little of this feels fresh or genuinely funny, and there’s virtually no plot to speak of. Vir Das plays Aditya Chothia and Tusshar Kapoor is Sunny Kele. They’re the sort of guys who hang out at sex addiction rehab groups to pick up frisky women. But it’s love at first sight for both buddies when they lay their eyes on Lily and Laila Lele, a pair of twin sisters, both played by Sunny Leone. Problems arise when Aditya learns that Lily is engaged to another man, and Sunny discovers that Laila is a sex addict who only wants to bed him without any romantic involvement.

For some, the promise of two Sunny Leones for the price of one may be enough to invest in a ticket of Mastizaade. But believe me, there is such a thing as too much heaving bosom and jiggling backside. I found myself cringing more than laughing at the film’s idea of outrageous, adult humor. I’m going with one out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Space jam!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:37 pm

January 29, 2016

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, William H Macy, Joan Allen

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Room, which landed 4 Oscar nominations recently, including Best Picture, and Best Actress for Brie Larson, is emotionally disturbing and powerful in equal measure. Based on a novel by Emma Donaghue and scripted by the author herself, it’s one of those films that’s best experienced knowing as little as possible about it going in.

I’ll keep the details brief. A young woman and a 5-year-old boy have been living in an 11-by-11 feet room with only a tiny skylight in the roof. We realize that they’re being held captive; that she’s been there since she was kidnapped at the age of 17, and that she’s given birth to this child and raised him inside these four walls.

Directed with great sensitivity and ingenuity by Lenny Abrahamson, Room unravels through the perspective of little Jack (Jacob Tremblay). The full horror of their situation is revealed slowly and suggestively, even as his Ma (Larson) concocts elaborate scenarios and distracting devices to protect Jack from the ugly truth of imprisonment and rape.

The material may be grim and depressing, but seen through Jack’s eyes, their everyday existence has a nice whimsical feel to it. Since this is the only world he knows, all the inanimate things within the room are his friends. He begins each day, greeting his companions cheerfully: “Good morning, rug”, “good morning, table”.

What happens as the film progresses, I will not ruin for you. Except to say that Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay will blow you away. That little kid has an open book of a face, and he never “acts” for the camera – he just is. Brie Larson delivers an incredibly honest performance; it’s hard to find one wrong note in her utterly convincing depiction of unconditional love and self-sacrifice. They’re so authentic and natural together, you have to wonder how much preparation went into cementing this connection.

Room is as much about a fight for survival as it is a tale of captivity. It’s also about how a tiny space can be someone’s whole world, and how imprisonment can work on different levels.

I’m going with four out of five for Room. It’s not the most pleasant story to watch, but it’s a powerful, unsettling experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

January 22, 2016

A hero is (re)born

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:38 pm

January 22, 2016

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Kumud Mishra, Prakash Belawadi, Inaamulhaq, Purab Kohli, Avtaar Gill

Director: Raja Menon

You probably remember the moment you first heard of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, of Saddam Hussein, and of the incident that sparked off the Gulf War. Airlift, written and directed by Raja Menon, takes us back to that time in history, but we see it through the eyes of a wealthy Indian businessman living in Kuwait. Based on the largely forgotten real-life incident that involved the evacuation of 1,70,000 Indians stuck in Kuwait, Airlift is the inspiring story of an ordinary man who turns into a hero when faced with extraordinary circumstances.

We’re told the film’s protagonist, Ranjit Katiyal, played by Akshay Kumar, is based on two men who helped pull off the largest civil evacuation ever. It took 488 Air India and Indian Airlines flights more than 59 days to get every one of those Indians home. The scale of this operation is overwhelming, and Airlift keeps it real – well, as real as it can get in an Akshay Kumar film with songs thrown in and the obligatory hand-to-hand fight sequence. The cinematography is gritty and there’s a sense of tension conveyed in the scenes where the Iraqi soldiers go on a rampage, tearing Kuwait and its people apart. Menon and his writers fashion a taut thriller, but post-intermission the screenplay drags, and there’s an urgency that’s missing in the climax – something that Argo, with a similar theme, successfully achieved.

When the film begins on August 1, 1990, a day before Iraq’s invasion, we discover that Katiyal is a hard-nosed businessman who thinks of himself as more of a Kuwaiti than an Indian. As all hell breaks loose, he wants to leave for London with his wife (Nimrat Kaur) and young daughter. But when his loyal driver is shot dead in front of his eyes, and he finds all his employees looking towards him for answers, Katiyal discovers a heroic and humane side to him that he never knew he had. Soon all the Indians stranded in Kuwait see him as a messiah and Katiyal becomes determined to deposit them all safely to India.

Airlift turns the real-life story into a one-man mission, but we do see other players. There’s the committed bureaucrat in Delhi (Kumud Mishra), who works tirelessly, sifting through government procedures and pleading with ministers to get things going. Purab Kohli evokes your empathy, playing a young worker looking for his lost love amidst the chaos, while Prakash Belawadi is appropriately annoying as the cantankerous refugee who can’t stop grumbling. Filmistaan’s Inaamulhaq brings a creepy, menacing presence to the character of the oily Iraqi general who speaks Hindi with a grating accent.

For the most part, the film feels authentic, and Nimrat Kaur blends right in. Just a wee bit awkward in the early scenes, she comes into her own by the time she must deliver a scathing monologue during a crisis of faith over her husband’s actions. But Airlift, expectedly, rests on Akshay Kumar’s shoulders, and he underplays the heroism beautifully, bringing quiet but steely resolve to the character, even delivering the stray note of humor almost conversationally. There’s almost none of his starry baggage in this performance, which easily counts amongst his best.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Airlift. The occasional speed bumps aside, there are many moments that soar. Raja Menon turns an important story into a compelling film. Don’t miss it.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Gone to the dogs

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:37 pm

January 22, 2016

Cast: Tusshar Kapoor, Aftab Shivdasani, Krushna Abhishek, Mandana Karimi, Darshan Jariwala, Sushmita Mukherjee, Andy Kumar, Claudia Ciesla, Shakti Kapoor, Meghna Naidu

Director: Umesh Ghadge

For a film that boldly advertises itself as a ‘porn-com’, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 is surprisingly limp. It’s underwhelming both in its raunchiness and its level of humor – frankly, I’ve read jokes forwarded on Whatsapp that are more naughty than anything in this film.

Just consider its recycled premise: Two hard-on-their-luck buddies, Kanhaiyya (Tusshar Kapoor) and Rocky (Aftab Shivdasani), move to Thailand and reluctantly become adult film actors on the insistence of their friend Mickey (Krushna Abhishek), who casts them in a string of porn parodies of popular Bollywood hits. All’s going well for the boys, until Kanhaiyya falls in love with Shalu (Mandana Karimi). Now he must pass off his porn star friends as his family to make an impression on his girlfriend’s ‘sanskari’ father (Darshan Jariwala).

From a rat that crawls its way up into a young man’s crotch, and a dog that twice gives an old man oral pleasure, to an excitable horse, and even a macaw that is repeatedly referred to as ‘popat’ (you get it!), Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 makes a strong case for cruelty to animals, when it isn’t pounding the viewer with its puerile jokes.  Featuring a whole roster of former Big Boss contestants, the film’s idea of humor involves busty starlets moaning suggestively and getting the men all hot and bothered. There are the inevitable scenes of drag (Vidya Balan might want to sue), countless over-used puns, and obligatory in-jokes…all of which are scripted, delivered, and directed with neither imagination nor much flair.

I’m going with half out of five for Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3. The half star is strictly for those poor animals who shouldn’t have to suffer in vain.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Mop this mess!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:36 pm

January 22, 2016

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Virgina Madsen, Elisabeth Rohm, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini

Director: David O Russell

You really have to check twice to be convinced that David O Russell’s name in the credits of Joy isn’t a misprint. This is after all, the director of such recent gems as The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. As for Joy…well, pardon the pun…it’s joyless.

That’s a shame because the film – about the real life inventor of the Miracle Mop – is intended to celebrate a struggling woman’s journey to empowerment.

Russell casts his muse Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, a desperate single-mom with two kids living in a dilapidated house that can barely contain her eccentric, dysfunctional family. Her deadbeat ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) shares the basement with her distracted, unaffectionate father (Robert DeNiro), while her bed-bound mother (Virginia Madsen) loses herself in daytime TV soaps, and her jealous half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) shows up repeatedly to put her down.

But, spurred on by her supportive grandmother (Diane Ladd), Joy comes up with an idea that changes her life. With the help of an investment from her father’s controlling girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini), she invents an innovative hands-free, reusable mop that – after your typical birthing problems – turns her into an overnight sensation on an emerging home-shopping network. Bradley Cooper stars as the marketing executive who gives her a shot at fame and success on the air.

Written by Russell and Annie Mumulo, the key problems with the film are its inert script and its uneven tone. Joy never strikes the right balance between drama and comedy, and has virtually no narrative drive. The stakes don’t come across as particularly high, and even a final-act hurdle is overcome fairly easily. The other big problem is that the very story at the heart of the film appears too ‘straightforward’ in comparison to Russell’s typically oddball tales. As a result, he gives an idiosyncratic twist to virtually every character here, but it doesn’t always ring true.

Jennifer Lawrence is possibly the only thing here that’s worth recommending. She catches the wildly oscillating tone of the film, going in a beat from comic to tragic. But she’s too young for the part, and let down by the muddled script.

Joy is a misfire, no questions asked. A crushing bore of a film from a director who has shown he’s capable of so much more. I’m going with two out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

January 15, 2016

Sincere but sloppy

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:37 pm

January 15, 2016

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla, Divya Dutta, Arya Babbar, Richa Chadda Zarina Wahab, Girish Karnad, Samir Soni, Jackie Shroff

Director: Jayamt Gilatar

To be fair, Chalk & Duster, starring Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla, is a well-intentioned film that appears to have its heart in the right place. It makes an impassioned plea to accord more respect and dignity to our teachers. But it does so through a combination of an outdated, amateurish script and shrill TV-soap treatment that you thought you’d seen the last of in the 80s.

Shabana is Maths teacher Vidya Sawant, and Juhi is science ma’am Jyoti Thakker, both beloved, committed educators at the modest Kantaben High School which is ruled with an iron fist by Cruella de Vil principal Kamini Gupta, played by Divya Dutta sporting an oversized wig and modeling what appears to be a whole range of Air India’s air-hostess uniforms. Determined to torture the faculty until they resign so she can recruit stylish professors in their place, Kamini indulges in petty politics like doing away with teachers’ chairs so they have to take classes standing up.

It’s all a part of her shrewd plan to turn the school into a hip, international institution where celebrity kids can attend class. She’s hatched it in connivance with a greedy trustee (a hamming Arya Babbar) who wants to compete with the area’s top school, run by an old rival (Jackie Shroff).

The film’s dialogues are a laundry list of howlers; no wonder it’s hard to take the characters or the drama very seriously. Kamini sacks Vidya on false charges of incompetence, then addresses the faculty to say: “She was a question mark on the reputation of this school. And I hate question marks. I like full-stops.” How do you keep a straight face through stuff like this?

It’s a shame because some things in the film do work. By taking us into Vidya’s and Jyoti’s homes and introducing us to their families, director Jayant Gilatar gives us a strong sense of who these women are outside their classrooms, and what grounds them. These interludes, however, are brief, as Vidya’s dismissal and subsequent heart attack turn the melodrama meter up.

It all blows up when a TV reporter (played sincerely by Richa Chadda) brings media attention to the harassment, and Jyoti turns crusader to get Vidya justice. In what has got to be the most exhausting, overlong climax ever, cameo-ing star Rishi Kapoor proceeds to host a 20-minute KBC-style quiz show that’ll decide the fate of the two teachers.

By this point Chalk & Duster, its noble intentions notwithstanding, has turned into a real slog. I was ready to sprint for the exit just so I didn’t have to endure another minute of this sloppy, misguided movie. Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla’s charming presence and sincere performances aside, this could well turn out to be one of the year’s most forgettable films.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

Bloody bold!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:36 pm

January 15, 2016

Cast: Samuel Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Water Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, Channing Tatum

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Name this film. A bunch of men in an isolated room, deeply suspicious of each other. Lots of talking to determine which of them is not who he claims to be. In between, bullets fly. Dead bodies and blood all over the place.

You’re thinking Reservoir Dogs, aren’t you? Actually I’ve just described The Hateful Eight. ‘The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino’, as it’s billed, feels like a return to the very first. It has the same sense of tension and claustrophobia that defined his game-changing debut. But – powered by an operatic score by the great Ennio Morricone, shot in sumptuous 70mm, and clocking in at nearly 3 hours – there’s a deliberate ‘epic’ quality to The Hateful Eight that Reservoir Dogs never had to live up to.

Set in the aftermath of the American Civil War, across the unforgiving landscape of a Wyoming winter, the film’s plot cranks into gear as bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is transporting wanted murderess Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the nearby town of Red Rock. Along the way, he gives a ride to fellow bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson), and the sheriff of the town they’re headed to (Walton Goggins). The group takes shelter at a guesthouse, Minnie’s Haberdashery, as a blizzard sets in. There they encounter other travelers – a hangman (Tim Roth), a cowboy (Michael Madsen), a Mexican stable-hand (Demian Bichir), and a grizzled Confederate General (Bruce Dern).

Early on, it becomes clear to the men that they’re going to have to spend a few nights here, waiting for the weather to turn. Quickly, a plot of deception unravels as the coffee pot is mysteriously poisoned, and nobody knows who they can and can’t trust, especially with a prized prisoner in their midst who has a ten thousand dollar bounty on her head.

Fans will be happy to know that The Hateful Eight doesn’t skimp on such Tarantino staples as gratuitous violence and liberal swearing. I had to turn away a few times, particularly in places where a female character was brutally knocked around. There are also provocative scenes of racially charged exchanges that dial up the tension.

So what’s new, you might ask and the honest answer is not much. Still, the film succeeds on account of its sly, sneaky script, the unanticipated characters who show up and get blown to bits, and because it’s got a terrific ensemble of actors who genuinely appear to be enjoying themselves. Jennifer Jason Leigh deserves special mention for a crackling performance that’s full of surprises.

The Hateful Eight is never as inventive as some of Tarantino’s previous films. It’s also his slowest. It’s no epic in the end, but it’s still pretty good fun. I’m going with three out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

The voice inside

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 8:35 pm

January 15, 2016

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw

Director: Tom Hooper

Between Bruce Jenner’s brave and very public transformation into Caitlyn Jenner last year, the incredible performance of Jeffrey Tambor in the American drama series Transparent, and the trailblazer status accorded to Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox, the T in the widely used acronym LGBT appears to have captured the cultural zeitgeist. Heck, India even got its first transgender music band recently.

Rest assured The Danish Girl, directed by Oscar-winner Tom Hooper, will add momentum to this important conversation around ‘trans’ identity. The film, after all, is based on the true story of Danish landscape painter Einar Wegener, the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar last year for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, once again proves his immense talent for transformation in playing the central role. He’s absolutely riveting as both Einar, and the woman he becomes, Lili Elbe.

The story begins in 1920s Copenhagen when Einar’s beloved wife and fellow artist Gerda (Alicia Vikander) asks him to pose for her in women’s stockings so she can finish a portrait she’s working on. That stirs something inside him. Einar begins to experiment with cross-dressing, and initially Gerda encourages him, even coaxing him to attend a party with her dressed as a woman. But for Einar this is more than a passing charade. It’s the first step towards acknowledging and becoming comfortable with the fact that he’s a woman trapped inside the body of a man.

From this point on, you could say the film follows two intertwined narratives. The first is about Einar transitioning into Lili: studying women at a peep show in Paris, negotiating a relationship with a male admirer, even getting beaten up by bullies, before undergoing the crucial operation. But it’s the second story thread – about Gerda torn between helping Lili and losing Einar – that is more powerful. Vikander is mercurial as Gerda; taken aback initially, not always certain how to respond, but always filled with an abiding love for Einar.

Like Hooper’s most celebrated film The King’s Speech, this one too is handsomely mounted, although it skims over the messier details of sex and surgery. What it focuses on essentially is the fascinating and touching love story at its centre, and the evolution of both Einar and Gerda, as individuals and as a couple.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for The Danish Girl. The incredible performances alone demand that you make time for this film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

January 8, 2016


Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 8:34 pm

January 08, 2016

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Manav Kaul, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh

Director: Bejoy Nambiar

Wazir, starring Farhan Akhtar and Amitabh Bachchan, is a consistently watchable but frankly far-fetched thriller that just isn’t as smart as it ought to have been. There’s a lot to appreciate in the film, particularly the performances of its leading men, and the brisk unraveling of its plot. Too bad it’s weighed down by a sloppy script.

Akhtar and Bachchan play two men united in grief and loss. Akhtar is ATS officer Danish Ali who lost his daughter in a shootout, and was suspended from duty for carrying out an unauthorized hit on the terrorist responsible for his little girl’s death. Bachchan is chess grandmaster Omkarnath Dhar (fondly referred to as Panditji), who lost his wife and his legs in an accident, then his young daughter a few years later.

Danish meets Panditji by chance, but forms a strong bond with the older gentleman who teaches him to play chess, and alludes to the game as a metaphor for a larger plot. Subsequently both men help each other heal. Panditji orchestrates a reconciliation between Danish and his wife Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) who separated from him recently. Danish, meanwhile, vows to investigate Panditji’s suspicion that his daughter’s death wasn’t an accident, but the handiwork of a respected Kashmiri politician (Manav Kaul) at whose home she worked.

Director Bejoy Nambiar, working from a script by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi, keeps things taut and well paced in the film’s first half. There’s genuine feeling in the conversation scenes between the two men, particularly on the subject of coping with personal loss. And Bachchan does a fine job of delivering the film’s smart one-liners with required flourish.

It’s short lived though, as the script unfolds revealing so many lapses of logic you find yourself rolling your eyes repeatedly. Danish is now in hot pursuit of a shadowy figure who goes by the moniker Wazir, and what follows are a pair of plot twists that can be spotted from a mile away. It’s true! Cracking the film’s ‘suspense’ feels a bit like an adult would, having solved a Class V arithmetic sum – where’s the big achievement in that?

Still, to be fair, the film doesn’t completely derail because Nambiar stages thrilling action sequences, and because the commitment of his leading men never flounders even when the script does. Bachchan is exceptional as the weathered senior, his eyes hiding a repository of grief and pain. And Akhtar, although saddled with a one-note part, brings unmistakable sincerity, his anguish palpable every time he’s on screen.

Manav Kaul is very good as the inscrutable minister, and Aditi Rao Hydari leaves an impression as the fragile wife and mother struggling to cope. Neil Nitin Mukesh and John Abraham appear in small cameos but neither is particularly memorable as a result of their carelessly etched parts.

In the end Wazir is moody and atmospheric, and gripping for a large part. What it needed was a tighter script with fewer holes. I’m going with two-and-half out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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