It’s been 4 months since 2021 started, but honestly, it feels like a century has passed. While some of us are still under lockdown (for a year!), that has not stopped Bollywood from being, well…..Bollywood. There are some amazing new releases, but there are also films that will make you want to scratch your eyes out.
1. The Big Bull
Based on the life of Harshad Mehta, The Big Bull stars Abhishek Bachchan, Nikita Dutta, Ileana D’Cruz, Sohum Shah, Ram Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla. The film is an attempt to portray the financial events that shook the Indian market in 1990 and 2000, and Harshad’s Mehta role in it. While many are comparing it to Pratik Gandi’s Scam 1992, it is fair to say that Abhishek Bachchan wove his own nuances to the role, and was a good effort.
While Astik’s parents grieve in the most heartbreaking way only a parent can, his wife of 5 months, Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra) cannot grieve, as she believes she doesn’t even know the guy she married. The film is a story of a family’s grief as they come together for 13 days to keep tehrvi and has are overbearing and prejudiced relatives, unsympathetic kids, females pitted against each other, and Sandhya, who craves gol gappas and Pepsi and scrolls to see how many comments her husband’s RIP post has.
She confesses to her best friend Nazia that she feels no guilt, and when she finds that her husband had actually loved another, tries to find her own awakening in a society that has largely mandated itself as the decision-maker of a woman’s life. Sanya Malhotra is a revelation in this film which could do with a little more madness but works spectacularly.
3. The Girl On The Train
Starring Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Rao Hydari, Avinash Tiwary, and Kirti Kulhari in principal roles, this Netflix film is based on Paula Hawkins’ eponymous novel. Mira (Parineeti Chopra) is a lawyer who loses her baby with her husband Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary) and her memory. Devastated, she takes to drinking after her divorce, and following her now-ex-husband, and becoming increasingly violent. The only good part of her day? A train journey during which she passes Nusrat’s (Aditi Rao Hydari) house, and sees her seemingly perfect life.
Ribhu Dasgupta has made excellent use of her direction, and the music to set up a mysterious and thrilling environment in the span of the entire film so that you can never look anywhere else, as you will miss something important if you do. There are secrets upon secrets, connections we never deemed possible, and alcohol abuse which makes us hate and simultaneously pity Parineeti’s character at the same time.
4. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
With an amazing cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vinay Pathak, Vikrant Massey, Manoj Pahwa, Supriya Pathak, Vineet Kumar and others, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is a story of grief in an ordinary Indian family and its immediate effects. When a family gathers to mourn a deceased member and stay together for 13 days, old wounds resurface, secrets come to light and friends become enemies. An applaud worthy effort, this is a 2021 must-watch.
A comedy horror starring Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor, and Varun Sharma, Roohi is a chilling tale of a ghost who kidnaps brides on their honeymoon. We were excited for this movie after the brilliance of Stree, and the comic timings of actors Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma are a blessed thing, but the plot is so stretched, that the few comedic shots don’t cover the flaws enough. The feminist angle is swept aside as the female is confined to the sidelines for the majority of the film, and Janhvi Kapoor would have been exchanged for any other actress and we wouldn’t know the difference. Rao’s heavy accent and speech impairment also make us cringe in quite a few shots.
2. Lahore Confidential
Ananya (Richa Chadha), an employee of RA&W is sent to Pakistan to gather information from Rauf (Arunoday Singh), who hosts Shayari events for the Pakistani elite. Ananya is chosen because she is an Urdu and Shayari loving fan writing a book. Her colleague is Yukti (Karishma Tanna), who tells her to be ready to do anything in this field. Tension arises when Ananya and Rauf fall in love, and Ananya digs herself a deeper hole when Rauf’s intentions come to light.
Ananya works at RA&W, is bookish and emotional, and has grown up with a nagging mother. All these things should have made her smarter, but as we see her character fall into obvious traps after traps, we have to question the sanity of the intelligence officers who recruited her. Lahore Confidential is a film that is doomed from all angles but the story and Shayari. The dialogues are either stilted or come across as fake, the characters are unbelievable, and the ending is obvious.
3. Mumbai Saga
With a loaded star cast of Suniel Shetty, John Abraham, and Emraan Hashmi, this Sanjay Gupta film revolves around the Mumbai of the 80s and 90s. As the mills are closing down and gangs are in abundance, the film talks about the changing city and how everyone is evolving with it. Sanjay Gupta is known for his action thrillers and mafia movies, but does the formula plus a hunky John Abraham work every time? No. This movie has too many cliché’s for us to take it seriously, add in stereotypical depictions of gundas and fight scenes, the movie is a one time watch at best.
Pankaj Tripathi stars in this small-town drama about a man who is declared dead by the government and his mission to prove otherwise. Battling bureaucracy and society, this common man fights for his rights and is the real-life story of Lal Bihari. The film, while shot in snippets, does not have a smooth transition from shot to shot, which makes it feel like an amateur production.
While the film does try to show us how bureaucracy has remained unchanged since independence, there must have been a better, more impactful way of delivering it. Pankaj Tripathi seems wasted on this opportunity, as does the story. Maybe Kaagaz was better on paper only.
5. Hello Charlie
This comedy film stars Jackie Shroff and Aadar Jain in main roles, with Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani as producers. Jackie acts as a scamster who uses a Gorilla costume to get away, and Aadar is his sidekick. There’s a circus item song, a game of chess between Shroff as a gorilla suit and a drunk veterinary doctor; a real gorilla to add to the confusion – need we say more about how bad it is?