Root for the Planet of the Apes

Caesar’s journey from a tiny, adorable chimp to a fearless leader began with 2011’s Rise, and continued with Dawn in 2013, which showed mankind’s desperate struggle to survive in a planet rapidly being overtaken by apes. Matt Reeves’ latest instalment in the science fiction franchise that no longer feels sci-fi, is War for the Planet of the Apes. Strap yourself in, to witness one of the best endings to a trilogy in recent memory.

In War, we follow Caesar and his clan of apes into the forest, in an attempt at peaceful coexistence with humans. Quickly after the movie begins, tragedy befalls the apes as a battalion of ape-hating soldiers led by a man who calls himself The Colonel, sneak into their hideout. What follows is a story of such thematic depth and visual beauty, that it will have your jaws hanging by the time you walk out of the theatre. The word “War” might bring to mind extravagant battle sequences and slow motion explosions, but don’t go expecting an action fest. It’s a war movie, more in the vein of Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket.

Andy Serkis provides yet another masterful performance as Caesar, with some truly incredible motion capture performance, along with an equally strong cast of apes, including Steve Zahn as Bad ape, who brought unexpected humour into the film and Karin Konoval as Maurice, the wise and gentle orang-utan and Caesar’s trusted confidant. Woody Harrelson gives a good performance as The Colonel, who’s motivations are surprisingly believable. Lower priority is given to human characters but you won’t be complaining, because lets face it, we’re rooting for the apes.

From the technical perspective, the CGI in this film is phenomenal. We have finally reached the point where differentiating a CGI ape to a real one is impossible. Michael Giacchino, who also did the soundtrack for the last two films, has done his best work yet, with music that is sure to hit hard. All in all, this is a masterpiece of filmmaking, and a stellar example of what a film looks like, when all the parts in the machine are fine-tuned to perfection.

Director: Matt Reeves

Rating : 5/5

Movie review: Jagga Jasoos

Jagga Jasoos, written and directed by Anurag Basu, plays out like a musical fairytale where every dialogue is in the form of catchy rhymes and tunes. 

The movie is not only intricately written and plotted, but filled with clever visual flourishes and details, some of which are clues and some of which are magical – and several, like the twisty street up a hill and elephant turning tiny, are a bit of both.

Jagga is a bespectacled boy, who chooses to remain silent so that he can hide his stammering. His life takes a turn after he runs into a man who tells him how to overcome his speech impairment. Just sing, he tells Jagga. From this point on, the movie transforms into an audiovisual treat, with every word and movement being beautifully synchronised.

However, the songs in the movie like Ullu Ka Paththa and Galti Se Mistake don’t have much essence of the musical genre. The person who keeps the movie entertaining though, is Ranbir Kapoor. He manages to make you smile and even tugs at your heartstrings by being goofy and gloomy as promptly as required. 

The pace of the movie, with a running time of 162 minutes to be precise, especially in the second half, could have been improved. 

Overall, the movie is a fine attempt. It tries its hand at something new. But, the slow pace will ensure that this movie is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Sayani Gupta

Director: Anurag Basu

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Sources: NDTV, Firstpost

He came, He saw, He conquered- Spiderman Homecoming

Spiderman is one character in the Marvel Universe that has been put through a dynamic amount of changes. Begining from a meek Toby Maguire to the flamboyant Andrew Garfield, the portrayal of Spidey has been open to interpretations to the directors.
When Tom Holland’s first trailer came out in Captain America- Civil War; the internet raged with memes of the new Spiderman having the voice of a little girl.
And now look, how far we have come in only two movies.
Spiderman Homecoming is all what you expect a Marvel movie to be.
Visual treat- check
Stunning action scenes- check (Tom Holland is a gymnast)
Comedy- check
Entertainment- hell yes check
But then comes the surprise package, this 21 year old playing to role of a fifteen year teenager is mesmerising; the dedication, the delivery…its all spot on. We have seen him in Cap. America and we see him in his standalone film, the guy is going to be a crowd-favourite in Avengers franchise despite being beside seasoned actors like Chris Evans, Scarlett Johanson, Jeremy Renner etc.
For the first time a movie portrays Spidey as a school going kid with not so superhuman attributes. His love interest, problems, have been very progressively written and Mary Jane cameo has been beautifully played with.
The movie doesnt add much to the Avengers, but we do get to see the Iron-Spider suit which definitely makes the already strong boy to somewhat invincible Superhero provided, he learns to control the suit (believe me its tough, even for a super-charged spidey brain).
The post credit scenes do introduce a new villian but its very unlikely that he may play a major role in the Avengers series.
Contrasting portrayals run throughout the movie and for the first time we see Iron Man otherwise reckless as a responsible fatherly figure.
The first day first show today in Pune attracted a housefull audience and luckily the spiderman himself was there to watch the movie with us, a die-hard fan, college going Divakar.
All in all, Spiderman Homecoming is a cracker of a movie from Marvel franchise and it is a must watch for all the fans out there. And Tom Holland is the deserving candidate to carry the baton after Toby Maguire.

Raees Review: SRK shines in a lackluster ‘Raees’

CAST – Shahrukh Khan, Mahira Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni
DIRECTOR – Rahul Dholakia
RATING – Two and a half stars

Speculated to be based on the real life of Abdul Latif, a gangster from Gujarat, Raees focuses on the illicit liquor trade in the state. Starting from the late 1980s moving towards the 2000s, director Rahul Dholakia tries to show the underlying criminal and political current of the state.

With its one-liners on ‘secularism’ and the condition of the judicial system in the country, the movie brings a change focusing on the realities of law and order in the ‘controversial’ state. Shah Rukh Khan manages to live up to the viewers’ expectations by delivering a different shade in the role. His portrayal of ‘Raees’ is a breath of fresh air compared to his previous ventures like Dilwale and Happy New Year. Khan actually steers the first half of the movie forward on his stellar performance and displays a very different and appealing side to the audiences.

He still manages to retain his romantic charm as he flirts and dances around with Mahira Khan, who plays his love interest in the film. Mahira, on the other hand, disappointingly is barely seen in the film and is given mere relevance to her character. This perhaps must be altered in the post-production following the anti-Pakistani actor lawsuit.

Nawazuddin Siddique doesn’t fail in his performance of the honest cop Jaideep Majmudar who as the narrator of the plot is initially shown to be the major obstacle of Raees, but grows to be just a side voice in the film later on. Yet his crisp dialogue delivery makes his one-liners even wittier than SRK himself. Though Khan propounds a good work, Siddique simply takes the best character tag away from him despite his stardom.

Other major characters are played by Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub who plays Sadiq, childhood friend and right hand of Raees. Without going into too much detail (possibly for the fear of censors), the film does manage to comment on the politics around riots, corruption, and bureaucracy and the organized crime around alcohol trade in the state.

The climax of the movie dragged too much and simply takes away from the narrative which promised so much in the beginning. Khan does manage to win our hearts with his genuine efforts in the film but fails to reach the heights of a complex script. The movie eventually comes off as an everyday entertainment flick with poorly choreographed action sequences and vain music.

 

Movie Review- Dangal

Movie cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Ritwik Sahore, Aparshakti Khurana, Girish Kulkarni

Movie director: Nitesh Tiwari

Movie rating: Three stars

There comes a time in every actor’s life where he/she has to decide whether to look good on screen or to perform. For Bollywood mega-star, Aamir Khan performance has always topped the priority list, and with his latest release for which he gained 22 kilos, the actor has once again proved his perfection.

The flick narrates the story of a Haryanvi wrestler, Mahavir Singh Phogat, who after losing his hope of having a son, trains his daughters Geeta and Babita to make wrestling history. Thus breaking the taboo of Indian women participating in a sport, which is by far dominated by men.

What works very well for the film is the script, Director Nitesh Tiwari, along with Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, and Nikhil Mehrotra should be given a handful of compliments for their tongue-in-cheek quality, peppered with humour and several poignant father-daughter emotions all through.

However, certain scenes in the film that depicted how our society always wants a mother to have a son, and how a girl faces the brutal world waiting to crush her have not been so impactful.

The backdrop throughout the film is very rustic, earthy, and connects a viewer to the place, where the narration is set in.

Aamir Khan perfectly plays the character of a ‘ziddi’ yet a sensitive parent. Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra, who have portrayed the character of Geeta and Babita, respectively, to quite an extent, are able to grab eyeballs with their acting. Sakshi Tanwar, who plays the role of Khan’s wife is restrained yet effective throughout the narration.

One the whole, the flick sets itself on dual-parameter, firstly, that it is a popular sport, and about the people who play it. Secondly,  it makes a very strong statement over the girl-boy equality in the place, where girls are killed in the mother’s womb.

Music director Pritam and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya have successfully managed an earthy soundtrack for the movie with Daler Mehndi’s title track pumping up the adrenaline. The film also has a soft track Gilheriyaan, complimenting it is a Haryanvi rap, hip-hop Haanikarak Bapu, and the Dhakaad number.

Image source – youtube

Restaurant Review: Double Roti- Gourmet food without a hole in your pocket

For a restaurant like ‘Double Roti’ – a small burger cafe in Viman Nagar, Pune – the first intriguing thing is the name itself. While other restaurants serving similar food (read: Italian, American and French) choose fancy, and sometimes unpronounceable ‘Western’ names for themselves, Double Roti goes the other way round by using the Indian moniker for bread.

Call it shortsighted, but when the peculiar name did crop up for discussion, I automatically thought of the place as one of those quirky restaurants serving Indian food with an extra bit of dash and oomph. That was mistaken though.

On the face of it ‘Double Roti’ primarily serves items which are bread-based – burgers, hot-dogs, pizzas sandwiches etc.  A brainchild of Japtej Ahluwalia and Nikesh Lamba, the ‘Double Roti’ franchise kickstarted its journey in Gurgaon in the winter of 2013. From there, it successfully went to Chennai and then to Pune.

The Viman Nagar outlet is a cosy little place situated in one corner of a shopping complex. The glass panels of the restaurant lend a contemporary, urban feel to it, while the nifty colourful decorations add an amusing character. The menu is colossal, to say the least. It almost feels like going through a magazine. And the food descriptions are cheeky. The downside of having a plethora of options is obviously that the customer ends up getting utterly confused – not knowing what to choose from a number of equally tempting options.

Fortunately, the staff is quite amicable and willing to help you out.

After much dilly-dallying on what to order, I finally settled with non-vegetarian nachos as appetiser, along with what they call a ‘4th of July’ burger – having a lamb patty, barbecue sauce and fried egg. I also ordered an oreo shake to complement the two dishes. The service was not slow, but for a hungry person, even waiting for 15 minutes to be served can turn out to be an ordeal. No complains though. Once the food and the beverages arrived, one could not help but notice the attractive plates and glasses they were served in. Particularly the oreo shake. The quantity for each item was more than satisfying, making me contemplate about how difficult it would be to not take an afternoon siesta after the meal.

In terms of taste, all three items hardly gave me anything to complain about. While nachos may seem like a simple snack, getting it right in terms of taste can be tedious and many restaurants tend to falter. But ‘Double Roti’ didn’t, and especially nailed it when it came to the accompanying dips. The lamb burger was quintessentially American – big and juicy, with a whole lot of items thrown in together to make it filling. But then again, like the quintessential American food, it did not pack in enough overall flavour to give that ‘punch’. Now, this small complaint might be due to my eternal longing for spicy and pungent food, which American cuisine inherently lacks.

In short, for the quantity and quality of food that one is served here in an extremely friendly environment, a total of Rs 600-700 would not burn a hole in the pocket after all.

The experience at Double Roti has only strengthened my belief that the eating-out food culture in Pune stands much superior than that of Delhi. Most of the restaurants which I have gone to in Pune – such as La Plaisir, Minus 18 Degrees, The K-Factory and now Double Roti – have not made me feel cheated the way the ones in the opulent Khan Market or Hauz Khas village in Delhi do. But the fact that the very Double Roti franchise started off in Gurgaon instills in me some hope that good restaurants do exist in the capital, despite my bad experiences pointing to the contrary.

In terms of their future plans, Ahluwalia and Lamba, who were previously together at ITCs Hotels Management Training School in Delhi, plan to open a number of outlets at various locations in the next few months. Let us hope that this quintessentially ‘management-minded’ move does not end up compromising on the standards, and the restaurant chain maintains its focused approach.

NH 37 dhaba, worth a stop

Do you remember the last time you experienced the flavour of a Dhaba? The rustic essence intertwined with an open air dhaba-style restaurant, and its august ambience spiced up with mouth-watering dishes and the aroma? When in a dhaba, it is not just the food that one looks out for, but the whole experience that makes dhaba food much loved by all. While far-removed from a highway, NH 37 Dhaba in Pune has a unique mood, which makes it worthy for a visit. It’s a place where could hang out with friends and family both.

Located on Range Hill Corner, near East Square, this places when entered, makes one feel transported to a totally different place. Although there is a numbering system to availing a seat, the wait is worth it. With the vastness of the place, there are a number of gazebos with different kinds of seating arrangements. While one could find wooden cut-out logs that serve as benches, there are also regular plastic garden chairs.

Though NH 37 Dhaba does not qualify as a proper Dhaba, the place has a rural touch to it. Decorated with greeneries, branches, vegetable (yes, you read it right!), bamboo, straws, this place has a different charm.  One gets a feel of being in a cottage. A pond with ducks around, and the waterfall, adds to the beauty of the place. One feels completely taken by the inner construction, fashionably designed roof tops with hay, lanterns and the trees. NH 37 Dhaba has many hidden talents to keep you entertained.

This is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Pune, and has great food quality. The menu here is well laid out with a good selection of both meat and veggie dishes, and dishes from foreign lands too. Before you start with your meal, they give you a plate of complimentary small papad, with pudina chutney to keep you occupied till your food arrives. The service is generally quick, but has chances for improvement. The tandoor items here are the ultimate. One can witness the tandooris cooked to perfection, while already biting on to a piece of lemon grass grilled chicken. For non veg, Badshahi Tandoori chicken is a must try. It is unique and yummy. The starters range from something as simple as Pahadi Panner Tikka and Tandoori Mushroom with Cheese, to spicy dishes like Ajwani Machhi Tikka (fish tikka) and Chicken Nawabi Kebab. The Achari Aloo, and Fish Tikka are just a perfect combination. For main course, I would suggest Chicken Tikka Curry, Peshawari Panner Tikka, Smoked Butter Chicken, Butter Naan, and Chicken Biryani. While you might not associate seafood with a Dhaba, this restaurant offers a whole lot of seafood dishes, like Red Pepper Pomfret and Prawn ka-Seang, this make its unique compared to the usual Dhabas. All of them were cooked delectably.

While this place also offers Bengali cuisine, but as a Bengali myself, I must say, this place is a huge disappointment. Neither they have a collection of menus, nor is the food flavoursome.

However, the real surprise was the tandoor and north Indian cuisine, quite different from all the tandoori places. This is the place you have to go, if you want to unwind in greenery filled place inside the city!