Betaal- The funny horror thriller

Netflix India now a days is like- everybody else is making serial killer series, we should make one or everybody is making zombie movies, we should also make one. This is how series and movies like mrs serial killer or Betaal are born. Or may be they think netflix users love just horror, thriller and sex stories. No man, there should be some decent content!

Anyway, Betaal had much scope to become better. But cringy dialogues, black and white characters, unsynchronized storyline made it another bad show of netflix India. Also, I found the concept of the story very funny- its like a mix of folktale, history, nationalism, anti- British sentiment, anti capitalism and of course of zombie story. With great actors like Vineet, Ahana and Suchitra Pillai it could have been at least an above average show. But the storyline screwed 😣. Like typical hit bollywood movies the creators could not leave behind certain formulae like uttering ‘saale angrez’ 😂 or showing a person so evil and power hungry that he did not even hesitate to sacrifice his daughter to acquire power. Similarly, I have doubt that those villagers (men) of Naxal hit region would wear dhoti kurta.

But, it was kind of engaging althrough the series and also I found it little scary(meaning success of the show). But I burst out in laughter when they were talking about how the colonel wants to become powerful again and take charge of the country again, really…country??? I was like…oh, now we have to call Gandhiji’s soul to fight them again or what 😂.

Jokes apart, if somebody is new to zombie movie genre, its okayish to watch. Also, since it is a mini series, not much time will be invested, if any viewer want to find out what actually is there in the series. Finally, it can be said that Betaal seems to be like nothing but a major attempt to normalize zombies in mainstream bollywood movies.

Trance-The Malayalam movie you should watch

Malayalam movie Trance was released in February this year. Now it is available in Amazon Prime Videos. As I have been watching a lot of south indian movies lately, specially of thriller/psycho thriller genre I discovered this movie in a youtube channel recommendation.

I had no idea of the subject matter of the movie beforehand. But once I started, could not leave for a single moment, that engrossing the movie is. First of all, Trance is almost a one man show movie and Fahdah Fasil nailed it. His acting justifies all his personalities as the movie requires. Secondly, the plot of the movie is pretty much unconventional. Although mythological thriller, religious crime thriller are much of a trend these days, this one is different in terms of storyline, execution, though this too is all about religious scam. Thirdly, the psychological disturbance experienced by Viju Prakash is an added dimension to the movie.

Thus, the subject matter, the acting, background score, direction everything is near perfect. All the actors Fahadh Fasil, Gautham Menon, Narziya, did excellent jobs. Fahadh Fasil convinces us with all the moods he needed to express, be it sadness or fakeness. To be true, more than half of the credit for success of the movie goes to the lead actor only. Also, the premise of the movie is quite relatable to any God fearing society, which may be true to any religion. The fact that they wont tell you everything, rather it makes you to think is another quality of the movie.

Moreover the story questions the status quo. How the ‘god of the gods’ is controlling our lives or how they are manipulating the whole system from behind the scene. Also, it does not fail to show the plight of those associated with the ‘god of the gods( Avrachan being under medication) and how many of the people are suffering because of ‘the few’.

Anwar Rasheed‘s direction gives the movie a different level of ‘high’ and spectators will remain in a trance after watching this. The cinema may spark controversy among diffrent sections, or the story may be fictionary, yet it is one of best Indian movies I have watched this year.

‘Paatal Lok’- Too much of political correctness!

Paatal Lok– this neo noir genre crime thriller aired in Amazon Prime is almost flawless. Acting, direction, storyline- nowhere we can find any imperfection. But perhaps, it is not going to stay in our memories as ‘gangs of wasseypur’ or ‘sacred games’ stayed. While casting, acting are A class, tits and bits of the story seems to have been inspired from many predecessors of its genre. For example, Hathi Ram Chaudhury and Imran Ansari duo reminds us of Sartar Singh and Katekar from Sacred Games. Similarly while the top echleons of the police force is meddling in dirt, a low ranking Police man is actually trying to investigate the truth, as Sartar Singh tried to save the city.

Secondly, reference of Indian mythology as that of Sacred Games, Asur etc., is also found here. We can find it in the form of the story of three loks- heaven, earth and hell. Nevertheless, the reference is justified. Also getting whatsapp forward about mythology is so humorously relatable.

Similarly, the character of Sara Matthews reminds me of Zoe Barnes from House of Card. I just could not resist comparing. But despite all these inspiration or similarities the story is unique. In fact the story has more potential to be written as a dark comedy.

But the most annoying fact of the series is that it tries too hard to remain politically correct, justifying all the criminals by telling their back stories which helps to acquire sympathy of the viewers for them. Also, the writers justified the slap of Hathiram Chaudhury who got a slap in return from his wife which might have saved them from the allegation of glorifying an abusive husband as hero of the show . The character of Hathiram Chaudhury could have been a male chauvinist and yet an honest policeman. We dont need heroes, we need real chatacters. Similarly, Imran could have become angry at least for once for the islamophobic slurs he receives on a daily basis.

As a whole, the series tries to accomodate almost all issues like Islamophobia, dalit politics, gender identity, right wing fanaticism, child abuse, elite left liberals, casteism, anxiety as an actual disease under one shell. May be that is why I felt that it could not concentrate on any one issue properly. For example, the woman Chandana being a ‘con woman’ is enough information for us, but showing her back story ( another bold, independent woman character- who has to be Bengali, while I was wondering how come sara matthews is non Bengali 😏), and thus justifying her bad deeds was not necessary, rather it looks like another desperate attempt to keep it politically correct.

Except those annoyingly enough political correctness, Paatal Lok as a whole is an awesome watch. The cusswords and violence were also not just for the sake of making a crime thriller, it looks convincing. The darkness was not artificial, it was imherrent in the story. With the excellent performances of Jaydeep Ahlawat, Niraj Kabi, Swastika, Gul Panag, Abhishek Mukherjee Paatal Lok could no doubt quest our thurst for another Desi crime thriller. But also Ishwak Singh, Bodhisatva’s acting are quite convincing enough to have a permanent impression of both the charcters.

With the extention of lockdown in India, if you are still calculating cost benefit ratio whether to watch it or not, I can assure you it is better than as I wrote in this review 😊

Decoding the movie ‘Awe!’

Telugu movie Awe ( Hindi- Antaryudh) is like a puzzle. All the pieces are in front of your eyes, yet we fail to place it properly. There are four stories weaving simultanously, all set in dining places like cafe, resaurant, book cafe etc. Each story is set in different colours, like pink, blue, olive green etc.

In the blue coloured cafe, Moksha, the young girl was running the business in absence of her mother. Also she knows some magic tricks. One day, she was encountered by a proud magician named Yogi. Yogi tried to belittle Moksha and also her worshipped God Krishna. But finally he got a lesson that God Krishna is greater than him. In this story Krishna saves Moksha and teaches Yogi a lesson.

In another story, Nala is an unemployed guy who is searching for jobs. He wanted to be a chef in a restaurent. Nala does not know how to cook different dishes. So he prayed and asked God to help him. Then the golden fish named Nani from the acquarium started helping him in cooking. In this story also God helps him in the form of a fish.

In the story set in a family restaurant with pink coloured background, Radha introduces her parents to her lover Krishnaveni. Krishnaveni is a psychiatrist, who helped Radha in recovering from her trauma rooted from the sexual abuses from men from friends and family. Not to mention Radha and Krishnaveni were in same sex relationship.

Again in the Olive green coloured book cafe, Shiva is a guard. But actually he is trying to make a time machine, through which he tried to prevent the accident of his parents. He misses his parents very much. Then one day suddenly he meets himself from future. But he no more remains ‘he’, he becomes Parvati who takes shelter in a wheel chair but with more fierce personality. Parvati is nobody but Shiva himself visiting him to prevent some incident.

Meanwhile Mira, a drug addict is a waitress of another gloomy looking cafe. She along with her boyfriend ( whom she calls as sugar) was planning to steal money from an investor who was supposed to come to the cafe. But she started seeing ghosts and finally got possesed by the ghost.

The above five stories, if we observe minutely, can see how positive attitude of Moksha and Nala who were helped by God diminished in the messy life of Mira. The positive energy in the form of God in innocent Moksha helps her, while Mira had to use drugs to numb her nerves and eventually gets succumbed by the negative energy or ghost.

There is no obvious connection among all these stories. But there is another character, Kali who is seen althrough in the movie in between the different stories. We wait for any link among the stories or between the stories and Kali. But by the time first half of the movie finishes it is revealed that all the stories are happening in the same place- a red coloured house, in different corners which is the starting point of unfolding the story. Yet it was not easy to predict.

Kali was seen with a pistol in a restaurant and she wrote a note stating she was going to mass murder and for which she is not guilty. Viewers might get perplexed for a moment at this point. But then she killed herself. After her death, it is shown that Kali had multiple personality disorder.

Kali was sexually abused in childhood, lost her parents, could not last in jobs due to her unstable mind, could not trust men because of past trauma, took recourse to drugs, tried to steal money which were shown in the movie itself. But there are many dots which were not connected and kept open ended for audiences. Because of the childhood trauma, Kali had problem in dealing with day to day life. It shows that when she threw the medicines into a bin, Mira pops up in her mind who takes drugs starts seeing ghosts which symbolises the evil of her mind. But Moksha and Nala believes that God will help them and God helps them too. While in the story of Shiva, she seeks help of science. The turmoil of her mind is reflected in the stories. Also, the stories show her confusion regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.

Also the colours of the backgrounds reveal different moods. The mood becomes darker in Shiva’s and Mira’s story along with darker shades. Similarly, all the names are either of gods and goddeses or of mythological origin. Such as Moksha and Yogi, Radha and Krishnaveni, Shiva and Parvati, Nala, Mira etc. Nala is a character of Mahabharta, who despite being a king used to love cook. Mira had one sided love for Krishna. Being a psychiatrist and a lover Krishnaveni helps Radha. Yogi challenges Moksha, but got a lesson from invisible magician God Krishna.

Thus, Awe has a very good and excepetional story but execution of the story in the movie is not gripping. The different stories can evoke different emotion ranging like humour, romance, horror etc. But contrary to other reviewer, the thrilling element is almost missing. Awe was released in 2018, and now available in Netflix. Meanwhile, hindi dubbing of the movie named Antaryudh is available in youtube.

Kabir Singh- Rebel without cause!

(Not a movie review)

I did my share of ‘kabir singh’ bashing even before watching the movie. Trailers, friends, reviewer’s opinion etc already made me believe that kabir singh has got some disturbing content. Such stories were ok in 80s’ and 90s’. But now we do not accept such hostile, dominating lover’s story. These condemning voices are good, specially in a hyper patriarchal society like ours. We have grown up watching such ‘male chauvinism’ glorifying movies of bollywood. Not any more.

But after watching Kabir Singh, I felt Shaheed Kapoor is so convincing as Kabir Singh that I grew affection for the character. This is what happens when we are in love- we try to justify everything a person does. May be it was not Kabir Singh who is to be blamed, rather its the system or the parents who cannot prepare their children for misfortunes of life. Father of Kabir Singh was not a good parent. In the time of crisis, he let Kabir to leave the house. Chances are there that he might not have chosen the path of self destruction if he would have been consoled and taken care of by the family during that time of love failure. But, for Indian parents- sons and daughters cannot have love related problems, even if there is something, fix it by yourself.

That is what Shaheed Kapoor’s acting did to us. Now, lets analyse reasonably. Kabir Singh has got an anger issue. Had there been an explanation of Kabir’s anger issue like disturbed childhood it would have been acceptable. Otherwise, we are bound to assume it as just normalising men’s anger or synonamising man’s anger with his masculinity.

Then comes the way he loves the girl, which is also pretty normal in our society. We can find such lovers in every gully, mohalla. But I cannot digest this kind of love story. It looks like the girl’s life got succumbed by the lover kabir’s love. But she seemed to be happy with that. Later we got to know that Preety already lives with a suffocatingly male chauvinistic, regressive family. May be her life was better with Kabir than with her family, that is why she could be happy with him. The same family which marries her off within one day.

Other things like Kabir Singh not knowing the whereabouts of Preety after her marriage is also strange. Even if his brother, friends also would have tried to find out, we would not have to witness the self desctructive journey of Kabir Singh.

At one point, Kabir singh utters- ‘M not a rebel without a cause’. I burst out in laughter, saying- ‘yes, you are of course a rebel without cause. You have no cause or nobody to rebel against. You are the apple of eye of everybody, from society to college authority. You belong to a rich, upper caste family. You are a heterosexual male. You are tall and fair.You may not be aware of your privileges, because you think you entitle these. Basically, you have no cause to rebel, Kabir Singh.”

Asur- A philosophical thriller

Integrating mythology with thriller is the latest trend in Indian entertainment industry. Voot original thriller Asur is also been popularised as Mythological thriller. But is it? Of course no other show could ever incorporate this much of mythological knowledge in any recent thriller show. But it cannot be termed as a mythological thriller- it can be either a psychological or at best a philosophical thriller. Mythology is been used as reference just to prove a point, the point being the question who is asur? Can this asur be synonamised with western concept of evil or that of shaitan? Are they born asurs or made ones?

Barun Sobti is applauded for his convincing performance in the series, while Arshad Warshi’s role was either not enough or his performance was poor that we could not see the usual ‘arshad warshi’ on screen. With some loopholes otherwise, I wont say it as a great series, but I would prefer to call it as a great experience. It could keep the suspence intact till the end, while starts manipulating the audience with a twisted philosophy. The creators are successful to make you believe in the asur of your mind– the fact that everybody can be evil. But again, dont get swayed away, it is just to prove a point, to justify the evil acts. Although we love the otherwise unquestionable premise of questioning the binary of good vs. bad in popular Indian shows.

Also thrillers in India seem to be more popular not beause of suspense or storyline, rather in the pretext of thrillers, they happen to be a spicy drama full of sex and violence. But asur is free of those, yet is a great thriller.

With all the good looking actors, and ‘almost good’ direction of Oni Sen, its been a great watch. While we were searching for experimental content in Netflix India and consistently being disappointed, Voot Original surprised us with Asur- Welcome to your dark side. Also, we will happily embrace a second season of this web series.

Mrs Serial Killer- The latest Netflix India movie

Serial killer series/movies are generally hip in netflix. May be that is why creators thought that just making a serial killer movie would fetch a good number of audience. But seeing Jaqueline in lead role in trailer of Mrs Serial Killer, I assumed that this is not going to be a watchable one. But to my surprise, it is not that bad. In fact to a certain point, it will keep you engaged, even after terrible acting performance of Jaquline.

Houses, roads, all set up in an Indian town, most probably that of Uttarakhand. But there was no Indianness- houses, people. Everything looks like some makeshift arrangement. Manoj Bajpayee is also there, but more than first half was all about Jaquline. Even if somebody thinks that Manoj Bajpayee will somehow restore the movie, he could barely got some screentime, which was not enough to change the fate of the movie. Mohit Raina’s acting was also not at par. And the Mrs. Serial Killer Jaqueline Fernandez could not act, as expected. The girl playing Anushka was better than her. In one scene Jaquline aka Sona Mukherjee tried to scare a victim, but it looked like as if she was trying to seduce the victim 😣.

But somehow, the storyline is not bad or cringy. With better direction and better cast it could have been if not excellent, at least an average watch!

Hasmukh- to watch or not ?

To be true, the trailer of Hasmukh did not appeal me. May be that is why I am late in watching this new series of Netflix India. Well, I cannot say that Hashmukh is a marvellous series, but yes, it dared to experiment with the content. But being different does not automatically translates anything into good. Same thing happened with Hashmukh.

Hasmukh is a small town wannabe stand up comedian, while Jimmy is a show manager. Hasmukh’s life is miserable. He happens to be a meek, inconfident person. But one day, he found his kick, and started entertaining people with his jokes. And Jimmy found his ‘sone ka anda denewali murgi’. They paired up and their adventure in trying their luck begins here. And what adventure? What is the price they are paying to become star comedian?Again I am saying, it could have been a great series! But, alas! Storyline got screwed.

Vir Das is good as Hasmukh, but something was missing- I could neither find a comedian nor a killer in him. But, anyhow Ranveer Shorey kept the spark of the show alive. He did complete justice to the character Jimmy. Also, Ravi Kishan, Amrita Bagchi, Manoj Pahwa etc made the show watchable. As a whole it is a one time watch series, only if you are pretty much free. But again, seeing the recent list of cringy content of Netflix India, Hasmukh is way better!

Never have I ever: Review

Vera Mindy Chokalingam, popularly known as Mindy Kaling in American entertainment industry is one of the few Indian American personalities to hold a special position in the industry. According to many, Never have I ever is the prequel of her the mindy project which is not exactly true. But we must say, as that of the mindy project, this one too is her own story.

Devi is a smart, confused teen. Besides that, she had to deal with some family trauma. Devi lives a duel life- an lndian lifestyle at home and an American lifestyle at school or with friends. She wants to be desirable by boys like all other girls, she wants to look cool as american society decides the definition of ‘cool’. Devi has two friends, one rival and one love interest at school. And at home she has to deal with her strict mother and a very Indian cousin Kamala.

The whole story basically revolves round teen Devi. The ups and downs in her relation with the two friends- Eleanor and Fabiola as their lives are also not a smooth ride, rivalry with Ben, and the blossoming attraction for Paxton. Meanwhile at home, she has to behave as a typical Indian child. Thus, in a nutshell, simple yet interesting storyline makes the web series a feel good one.

The series is created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fischer. It is a netflix original series. The first season has aired on 27th April and got a 8.1 rating in IMDB. Though Mindy’s experience of growing up as an Indian American has much impact on the show, yet it is based on recent times with reference of different social media, contemporary pop culture here and there. Also, it subtly tried to show the inner conflict of the new generation of Indian American regarding their culture, heritage etc. On one hand, they are expected to get assimilated in the American society, and on the other, they are supposed to keep in touch of their roots too.

Maitreyee Ramakrishnan as Devi, Poorna Jagannathan as Nalini, Jaren Lewison as Ben, Senthil Ramamurthy as Mohan, Darren Barnet as Paxton, Richa Murjani as Kamala, Ramona Young as Eleanor, Lee Rodriguez as Fabiola, did justice to their roles. The best thing of Never have I ever is that it can be categorised as a teen rom com, an Indian American story, an indian story or as an American story. Thus, it attracts different sections of viewers and all of them will enjoy this light rom com.

Pushpavalli!

We all know that story of the small town girl moving to a metro city in search of dreams. Those are often fair, petite women, who do not search for love because love always finds them. But have you heard the story of the brown/caramel heavy woman being confused by the mixed signal of a tall, fair, handsome, rich man moving cities in search of love. She is in love. But is he?

Pushpavalli is not desirable by men in general. But she is funny, intelligent and cunning. Yes, you are reading it right- ‘cunning’! She had to be cunning in the endeavour of pursuing what she wants.

Stand up comedian Sumukhi Suresh’s story is awesome, funny, thrilling. Along with Sumukhi Suresh who is been cast in the lead role, another stand up comedian Navin Richard played as a childhood friend cum employer of Pushpavalli. We can see other familiar faces of stand up comedy universe such as Urooj Ashfaque, Sumeira Sheikh, Rahul Subramaniam, Kenny Sebastian etc. Besides them, Manish Anand as Nikhil Rao, Preetika Chawla as Swati, Ashok Pathak as Tea- boi, Shraddha as the landlady of Girls PG did excellent job.

Pushpavalli is an Amazon original web series. 1st season being aired in 2017, the 2nd season aired just some days back. Pushpavalli being able to create a fan base itself says the shifting taste of Indians in television viewing, where a woman with appearance not desirable by society telling her story, getting our attention, sympathy, criticism is a huge win!

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