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Maan Jao Na – Film Review

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With romance, comedy, lots of color, drama, and some really good music, Maan Jao Na has all the ingredients that make for a good, light-hearted entertainer.

The plot of the film revolves around a strong-willed young woman named Rania (played by Elnaz Nourozi), who’s an only child raised in urban Karachi. Rania’s immediate family includes her father and a paternal aunt to whom she’s quite attached. This aunt is also a survivor of domestic violence, something that adds to her stance against the institution of marriage.

From the very beginning, we see Rania trying to reason with her friends and family about the patriarchal expectations surrounding marriage and how she doesn’t want to be tied down. But throughout the course of Maan Jao Naa, we see Rania’s loved ones manipulating her into leaving her ideals, and well, eventually getting married. She caves, as most women do, and that’s all the entire film is about.

While Rania’s rebellion was heart-warming to watch, it was an ending we knew was coming but was certainly hoping it didn’t.

Ayaz Samoo was great in his acting, as always. He plays a young man named Asim who is a common friend of Rania and Faris’ (the male lead played by Adeel Chaudhry). Samoo’s character and his love interest Sara (played by HajraYamin) did a really good job with their roles. Emoting well on screenwith variations in their expressions and dialogue delivery is a tough challenge but the duo does it effortlessly.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about their co-stars, most of whom failed to make much of a statement despite playing the leads.

Shuja Haider did the music for Maan Jao Naa and once again, managed to remind us that there’s no dearth of talent in Pakistan. The choreography and editing of the song sequences came out all on point. It kept usfascinated to the big screen.

The cinematography and set design was done well too. Be it Karachi or Kot Diji Fort in Khairpur, it was all really well-executed. Maan Jao Naa is visually pleasing and demands very little of your mental energy.

Verdict: If you want a relaxed evening with friends and family, we’d recommend you head over to this movie this weekend.

Entertainment Movies

Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor

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Allahyar and The Legend of Markhor, directed by Uzair Zaheer Khan, comes as the latest offering from our nascent film industry. It revolves around the young character Allahyar (voiced by Anum Zaidi) who finds himself escaping the hunter Manu (Ali Noor) and helping a Markhor named Mehru (Natasha Humera Ejaz) reach home.

Kudos to the team for setting a new bar in terms of animation standards in Pakistan. And subsequently, Allahyar challenges other film-makers to step up, in terms of visual quality. Yes, it is not Pixar or Disney or Laika, but the film is a big leap forward and the next logical and organic progression for the animation industry.

However, when it comes to storytelling, it needs as much saving as the Markhor. The first and the biggest problem troubling Allahyar is the use of Urdu words that are not commonplace. It uses the kind of language children are not used to hearing. They sound poetic but forget who the film is targeted at.

For Allahyar to be the children’s new hero, he needs to be vulnerable, yet stand in the face of fear and take charge. For that, he falls just short of being a memorable character, and his supporting characters outshine him easily.

But the film does succeed in delivering important messages and some scenes do stand out. Yet, overall, one doesn’t feel emotionally connected to Allahyar. He, who is supposed to be the protector and leader in the story, comes off as passive and in need of protection himself. His journey is intriguing but marred by the plot loopholes in that it borrows from the best but somehow manages to dilute it.

Another issue Pakistani film-makers have yet to work around is obvious product placement, which not only wastes screen time but also negatively affects the product and film experience. Allahyar makes the same mistake.

Nevertheless, the film, despite its shortcomings, is fun to watch (for children, of course) mainly due to the animation quality and excellent voice-over, especially by Noor and Azfar Jafri as the chakkor, Hero. It is often hilarious but one does leave the cinema hall underwhelmed; sort of like when you go to an amusement park and not ride the Ferris wheel. Allahyar gets a few things right but wasn’t exploited to its full potential.

Entertainment Movies

PADMAAVAT

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The story

Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) – the wife of Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), is known for her beauty and valor in 13th century India. She captures the fancy of the reigning Sultan of Delhi, the tyrant Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh), who becomes obsessed with her and goes to great lengths to fulfill his greed.

The review

Based on a Sufi poem of the same name written in 1540 by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has added his own flair and interpretation to ‘Padmaavat’, giving it a fairy-tale sheen. This makes all the controversy pointless, and pale in comparison to the spectacle that unfolds. Bhansali reunites with two of his favorite leads in recent times – Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, but adds Shahid Kapoor to complete this trio of commendable acting talent.

Shahid is steadfast and unflappable as Maharawal Ratan Singh – the ruler of Mewar, brimming with Rajput pride. He brings a regal aura to the character that warrants him winning the confidence and loyalty of the Mewar kingdom and more importantly, Rani Padmavati’s heart. Deepika is radiant as the Rajput Queen whose beauty, brains and valor moves the entire plot along once Alauddin Khilji becomes obsessed with her. Padmavati’s allure beyond the superficial is prominent post-interval, when her character comes to life and she gets to showcase her acting range.

Ranveer as Alauddin Khilji is seen as an unhinged, barbaric Sultan, who is consumed with a ravenous libido for power and flesh. He unleashes an animal magnetism on screen with a scarred face, kohl-lined eyes and a greased torso. The scenes between him and Shahid are some of the most engrossing, as both flex their acting muscles at opposite ends of the moral spectrum.

Besides them, Aditi Rao Hydari stands her ground as the naive Mehrunissa who gets a rude awakening when she discovers her husband Alauddin’s true nature. Jim Sarbh is somewhat misplaced as the Sultan’s slave-general, unable to generate enough menace to overshadow his master’s own. Nonetheless, the ensemble moves well in tune with Bhansali’s vision of this larger-than-life retelling.

The director’s expertise in heightening opulence and grandeur is well-known, further distinct in 3D. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee compliments him by beautifully capturing some jaw-dropping scenery. However, the effects in the action/ war scenes don’t meet the expectations raised by a film of this scale. Also, the songs don’t do much to further the narrative other than providing visual delight. Granted, it could do with a tauter screenplay and shorter run-time but ‘Padmaavat’ is an entertaining, large canvas experience, brought to life with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s stroke of visual brilliance.

Entertainment Movies

Malala Yousufzai shows support for Akshay Kumar s Movie ‘PadMan’

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Askshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor’s upcoming movie, Padman, is all set to come out on January 25 and it is about taboos surrounding the topic of menstruation.

The producer of the movie and Akshay’s wife Twinkle Khanna was recently invited to Oxford University to discuss PadMan and all the taboos attached to the subject. Malala Yousufzai was also present at the discussion and showed full support for the film and what it stands for.

While presenting her argument at the Oxford Union, the actor turned columnist said, “I hope this movie becomes a movement where women are no longer held back or shamed for their biological functions.”

PadMan became the first Indian film that became a topic of discussion at The Oxford Union. Explaining why she chose to address the disgrace around menstrual hygiene in her debut production, Twinkle said, “My primary motivation to make a movie on menstruation was to bring awareness to a subject that so far has been tucked away in shadows and like Voldemort – the dark lord from Harry Potter, it is never mentioned.”

Mrs Funnybones also discussed with Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai why is it important to end the taboos around menstruation.

Talking about what attracted Twinkle to make Arunachalam Muruganantham’s story of revolutionizing sanitary hygiene in rural India, into a movie, Twinkle said, “He is a man whom most people would have perhaps dismissed because he was not fluent in English- but he went on from being a school dropout to an award-winning innovator.”

Addressing the students of Oxford University, Twinkle presented her view on failure. “I would say failure has been my role model. Every time there was an obstacle in my life, I examined it, and invariably it taught me something about myself or the world around me that I didn’t know. To not be afraid to keep leaping is what I’ve always believed in.”

The film is ready to hit the box-office on January 25th.

Entertainment Movies

1921 – FILM REVIEW

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When Ayush (Karan Kundra) arrives in England to learn music, he is shocked and scared when the mansion he is living in becomes haunted by spirits. To exorcise them, he seeks the help of Rose (Zareen Khan), a woman who can see and speak with them.

What different thing could Vikram Bhatt offer in the fourth installment of his period horror franchise, you wonder? Well, he has a female exorcist this time, but her talents are suspect. Why? Because in one scene, when Rose says that she can see spirits ever since she was a kid and can talk to them and even helps them, you want to believe her. But the fact that she nearly jumps out of her skin whenever she sees even a little shadow of the ghosts makes you suspect her abilities as an exorcist. But you play along because her neighboring mansion, where a well-built young pianist from India plays the piano like a pro is in danger.

The Wadia mansion where he is living is haunted by ghosts who run around giggling like little girls, play a wicked piano tune and are attacking him by making his his body go all cracked-up and black. When Rose looks around the house, with all her years of experience of ‘helping’ the ghouls achieve moksha, she comes to the conclusion that there is a very malicious presence in the house and needs to be investigated and dealt with quickly. How the two manage to achieve this is what makes up the film.

The problem with ‘1921’ is, that Vikram Bhatt has added too much of a story to it. While the ghosts he has created do manage to scare you, they pop-up with overzealousness and dedication so often, that after the interval, you are almost numb to their presence. You actually become better at sensing their presence than Rose herself and can say exactly when they will jump in and scare the poor, pretty lady.

The production is impressive and the mood that Bhatt creates, with dim candle lights, is actually effective. While Bhatt has managed to piece together the disjointed ends of his extremely difficult story, and there is a climax that one did not expect, it is already too late. With the number of songs in the film, which all sound the same, ‘1921’ is more of a horror-musical. Even if you are weak-hearted, this one will not scare you for too long.

According to reports, the film has minted Rs 1.25 crores on its sixth day at the box-office, thus taking its overall total collection to Rs 9 crores.

Entertainment Movies

Insidious: The Last Key

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 “Insidious: The Last Key,” is the fourth movie in the “Insidious” horror franchise, which focuses on paranormal investigator/psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her friends. Psychic/paranormal investigator Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) has recently wrapped up the Quinn Brenner case (from “Insidious: Chapter 3″), but nightmares are plaguing her sleep. Memories of her dark childhood in Five Keys, New Mexico, with an abusive father (Josh Stewart), keep coming up. Before long, Elise gets a call from a terrified Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), who lives in her old house and is being terrorized by wicked spirits. Joined by her intrepid partners Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), Elise begins her inspection. More dark secrets from her past turn up, including memories of her younger brother, guilt over her mother, a lost whistle, and a gaggle of ghosts. But Elise makes a surprising discovery: There’s something different about these ghosts.

This fourth entry in this successful horror series is an example of diminishing returns; though the characters are still interesting, it’s clear that less care and attention was given to this movie. Filmmakers James Wan (whose first “Insidious” was the best) and Leigh Whannell (a writer on the entire series and director of “Insidious: Chapter 3″) have hired a second-stringer, Adam Robitel, to wheel “Insidious: The Last Key,” and it shows. Robitel tries to follow the playbook and comes up with one or two great, spooky scenes including one in which Elise makes a surprising discovery inside a tube-shaped air pipe. But the director mostly relies on loud noises and sudden scares.

He’s not so great with the emotional scenes, either, including Elise’s reunion with her long-lost brother. Christian (Bruce Davison). Frankly, the best reason to see this is Shaye, a wonderful character actress who embodies sweetness and vulnerability and also has a weathered, fearless quality; now in her 70s, Shaye has come into her own only recently as a horror star. “Insidious: The Last Key” has finally elevated her to leading lady status, and that’s exciting to see. The film has made to PG-13 for its violence and language.

Entertainment Movies

TIGER ZINDA HAI

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Tiger Zinda Hai is a 2017 Hindi action thriller film co-written and directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. The film stars Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Sajjad Delfrooz in lead roles with Kumud Mishra, Angad Bedi, Nawab Shah, Girish Karnad and Paresh Rawal in supporting roles. The film is the sequel to the 2012 film Ek Tha Tiger and the second installment of Tiger film series. It is based on the 2014 abduction of Indian nurses by ISIL and at the helm of affairs of the mission is Indian RAW agent Tiger (Salman Khan).

The story picks up from where the first film left off. Indian RAW agent Tiger (Salman Khan) and ISI agent Zoya (Katrina Kaif) are married and living a peaceful life with their son. Eight years have gone by since they decided to choose love over their missions. But their plans will change very soon, with another mission (most impossible) coming up for this ‘sota hua’ Tiger.

Tiger’s ex-boss Shenoy (Girish Karnad) tracks him down and wants him to rescue 25 Indian nurses who are held hostage at a hospital by a dreaded terrorist organization that has taken over Iraq. From here, it’s a Salman Khan show all the way with his star power and screen presence, skillfully assisted by Katrina Kaif who jumps into the fight as 15 Pakistani nurses who are also held hostage with the Indians need to be rescued. Tiger brings together Indian and Pakistani agents to fight terror in Iraq, for the sake of humanity. And, not surprising then that there is a fair sprinkle of patriotic one-liners, too. And all this is happening with loads of swag and style.

The film is visually stunning in parts and Salman Khan plays Tiger with roaring confidence and dialogues packed with punch. Of course, his fans get a true-blue Salman Khan moment when he bares his torso. However, the screenplay often loses focus, slackening the film’s pace and our attention. Director Ali Abbas Zafar had a lot of ammunition in hand, with the star power of Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif adding to that. But he is unable to keep you fascinated through the film’s runtime. Supporting actors that make up the rescue mission team are competent and Paresh Rawal delivers a dependable performance. Katrina Kaif gets into action-girl mode, displaying some kick-ass stunts. Meanwhile, the antagonist, Abu Usman (Sajjad Delafrooz), heading the terrorist organization, is effective in his role.

With such a premise, the storyline needed to be far more compelling and the editing much tauter. Needless to add, a lot of sequences defy logic, but at the same time, there are many moments that will leave Salman Khan and action film fans impressed.

The aggregate box office total to date is now an estimated 310 crores, that the Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif-starring spy thriller reached the historic top 20 milestone in just six days is a testament to the fan fervor and commercial strength the movie has fostered.

Whether Tiger is Zinda or not for the next round, that’s for you to find out.

Entertainment Movies

Rangreza

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With the Pakistani Film Industry growing at a rapid rate, ‘Rangreza’ seems to be yet another winner. With an extremely promising star cast, a fresh director and a soundtrack that has awed everyone this film has the whole package to offer. However, the question remains if it’s enough to sustain the initial popularity in order to strike the right chord with the audience.

The film opens with the introduction of the Qawwal family; of an ill father, Khan Saab who was once the best Qawwal in his prime. He has two sons and daughters-in-law and a notorious grandson Waseem (Gohar Rasheed), who seems to be completely out of control. With the family representing the traditional music house, the other side presents Ali Zain (Bilal Ashraf), a famous pop/rock star who gains his musical inspiration from his experiences. On the night of his concert he encounters the beautiful Reshmi (Urwa Hocane), and for him it’s love at first sight. However, little does he know that Reshmi, being the granddaughter of Khan Saab, has been promised to her cousin Waseem since they were young. And this simple act of being in love could prove fatal for him, Reshmi and the rest of their family.

It’s fair to say that the Pakistani Film Industry is full of great talent, especially if it’s producing fantastic new filmmakers like Mohiuddin. Showing the richness of Pakistan’s culture in the first few shots, the audience is immediately encapsulated. Using a simple yet effective way to introduce all of the characters, Mohuiddin has managed to tell a beautiful story about music, beauty and most of all, love. It’s also evident that Mohiuddin attempts to send a beautiful message of what it means to love and forgive through this story, making his viewers think more about their own actions. ‘Rangreza’ is an extremely impressive debut for the director, where one tends to forget that it is a directorial first for him.

This being his fifth film, Ashraf is already becoming much of a favourite for cinema-goers, and through this film, it’s easy to see why. His portrayal as Ali is wonderful and he wins the hearts of the audiences as soon as he appears on screen. However, Ashraf has been rather creative with his character where at times he makes the audiences question Ali’s motives, adding layers that keeps the audience intrigued.

Rasheed’s portrayal of Waseem is nothing short of perfection. Again, the actor is clever with his part as a negative character without being a complete villain. He proves his talent to the maximum in the film, where he makes the audience wait to watch his next move even if they’re afraid of what the outcome will be. Urwa Hocane is another actress who has become an appreciated talent for her on-screen presence. She is a sheer joy to watch in this film. Her role as Reshmi is probably the most heartfelt and the viewers become completely engrossed in her character, sympathizing with her and relating to her emotions as their own. As a trio, the three actors work extremely well together on-screen. The chemistry between each of them is powerful.

Overall, ‘Rangreza’ is a wonderful film that represents brilliant film-making at its core. Audiences will find themselves completely engrossed in its characters, the storyline and its important message of love, forgiveness and reflection. With audiences gripped by the characters and swaying to the music, Mohiuddin has done a perfect job in making a film that works well in each element. Ashraf, Rasheed, and Hocane have performed to an outstanding standard, making it difficult to imagine anyone else stepping into the shoes of these characters.

Entertainment Movies

Will Sallu’s Pakistani fans be disappointed again?

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With Padmavati’s fate hanging in balance, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif’s ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ is the latest big release of 2017.

Reports in the media suggest that the film is facing hurdles prior to its release as India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to grant its permission to the film over some objectionable scenes.

The film has not been granted a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for release in Pakistan.  “The reason being the same as in the prequel, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’- the image of Pakistan and its law enforcement agencies has been compromised.

The earlier movie ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was banned in Pakistan in 2012. We hope ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ doesn’t see the same fate as Padmavati and gets cleared soon, as Sallu’s die-hard Pakistani fans are eagerly awaiting its screening in local cinemas. The film is slated for release on December 22, and is already getting much hype for its trailer and songs.

Entertainment Movies

Tumhari Sulu

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In short, ‘Tumhari sulu’, is about a happy-go-lucky middle-class housewife Sulochana, fondly known as Sulu, lands the role of a night RJ, resulting in drastic changes to her routine life.

There’s a been a recent flood of Bollywood movies empty of its typical glamorous shine with a focus on the lives of middle-class Indian households. Ad director turned filmmaker Suresh Triveni takes this into account in his big screen debut while writing the story around Vidya Balan as Sulochana or ‘Sulu’, a housewife whose accomplishments aren’t typically notable, but that doesn’t stop her from dreaming big. When presented with a rare opportunity, her successive decisions & actions affect her husband, son and immediate family. As an evidence to Triveni’s ability as a writer, Sulu doesn’t lose her identity as she begins to experience the corporate media life as an RJ, walking the tight rope between her overnight fame and managing her domestic demands.

Vidya Balan is completely in her element, infusing Sulu with an abundance of catching hopefulness without being aggravating. She makes Sulu appealing by bringing out the various shades of a woman who has put her personal desires on hold because of her family. It also helps that she is surrounded by strong performances all around, in those playing her colleagues and loved ones. Manav Kaul, in particular, is perfectly cast as Sulu’s husband Ashok – a man trying his best to make his wife happy, but also faces work pressure that gets rebounded into anger. Also, her family isn’t too thrilled about her sweet-talking potential for the creeps on a nighttime show which fuels the drama around Sulu’s new career.

The sudden shift from being lighthearted to a serious drama is largely where the film weakens. Until then, there are entire sequences, especially with her colleagues which are thoroughly entertaining but don’t eventually add up too much.

A majority of the urban population will relate to the challenges faced by Sulu and her family, as we all struggle to live out our dreams of a better life. The essence of this story is ‘Main Kar Sakti Hun’, and with such a refined and affable actress as Vidya Balan in the lead, it is lovingly captured in ‘Tumhari Sulu’ making it an entertaining watch for the whole family.