Starting with the praises, LION is sure to make you shed some heartfelt tears both in the beginning as well as in the end witnessing a lost son meeting his mother post 25 long years with the help of the new technological development of Google Earth.
Based on an amazing real life story of Saroo Brierley, adopted by a caring Australian couple after getting lost boarding an unknown train to Calcutta from Madhya Pradesh, LION is the onscreen portrayal of Saroo’s traumatic memoirs compiled in a book titled A LONG WAY HOME and certainly has got some powerful merits to its credits asking for an essential watch.
A heart wrenching tragic story enhanced by all genuinely relatable performances, the film has Dev Patel coming up with probably his best and most mature act till date and Nicole Kidman who simply is adorable as the so understanding Australian mother of two adopted Indian kids. In fact the reason why the film gets some extra brownie points is the way director Garth Davis brilliantly conceives the scenes focusing on Nicole and Dev in particular, along with the trauma faced by the small child wandering through the empty train, railway stations, Calcutta roads and more before finally reaching an orphanage meeting a noble soul.
Introducing an outstanding ‘wonder kid’ playing the young Saroo, LION actually manages to touch you deep because of the immensely natural and lovable act of Sunny Pawar who in just a few scenes makes an instant connect with the viewers despite speaking his entire dialogues in Hindi (in an English film). The visuals break your heart in the opening hour watching the two kids stealing the coal from a moving train and the younger one losing his way unknowingly getting asleep in an empty compartment. Interestingly the sequences strongly remind you of the very fine start of our own dud GUNDAY and we also get to see some short and unimportant cameos played by known faces such as Deepti Naval, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chatterjee.
Things become lighter towards the middle where the film looks like dragging for a while with a few predictable and repetitive sequences leaving you with some questions unanswered. The visual appeal gets lost and writing is less impressive in this specific part of the film largely saved by the earnest supporting acts to be honest. Thankfully the strong emotional pull once again brings you in as Saroo travels back to India to meet his real mother.
The final sequence simply touches your heart and you do feel like crying and clapping together with all the real life village people emoting on the screen. But that is not all as the director further makes you meet the real Saroo and his two mothers hugging each other with love, along with disclosing the truth of Saroo’s elder brother’s death in a train accident that happened on the same cruel night Saroo got lost.
Thinking about the tragedy you do feel sad and shocked together before getting a faint smile back on your face when a text slide reveals the connection between the title and Saroo’s real name, which he innocently couldn’t pronounce well in his early childhood (that frankly also made me recall the classic RAIN MAN)
Coming to the sick presentation of India in its opening hour, it was certainly as per the need of the subject and as narrated by the man who experienced it all by himself. Yet there can be no denial to the fact that it does continue to sell the same old picture of India to the audience abroad as many producers and directors have been doing in the past decades. Having said that, the Indian part of LION still unarguably remains the strongest part of the narrative and for that the deserving credits need to be given to the talented team of its director, cinematographer and the composer of a highly effective background score together.
Looking at it from a different angle, I do find it really strange that how these western (or brought up in West) filmmakers always deliberately choose the stories related to poverty only from India and rarely the other way round. Watching the same happening since the early Ismail Merchant produced movies in the 60s-70s to the likes of SALAAM BOMBAY, CITY OF JOY, the Oscar Winner SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and the latest widely acclaimed LION, probably they are not aware or willing to be aware of anything else about India (or its rich literature) and thus keep returning back to the slums, poverty, sex workers, child trafficking, exploitation of labour and more similar topics in a repetitive mode.
No doubt poverty sells and actually makes such films reach the reputed festivals and awards much easily than the rest. However the biased and purposeful approach is clearly visible, provided one is willing to accept the truth with open eyes.
For instance in the present film too, the proceedings keep suggesting as if everything is happening wrong in a life spend in the poverty driven, under-developed India and it’s all just perfect in the rest of the world in a country like Australia. So the film, its writers or director tell you nothing about the problems in life spend in a foreign land and keep returning back to the dark visuals of India as often recalled by the main protagonist going back to his childhood memories.
Yes, the film is based on the real life memoirs written by the main character Saroo himself, but I personally found the onscreen depiction to be much hurried, biased and a half told truth, straight away jumping on to the young college days of the grown up Saroo (skipping more than a decade of his life).
Anyway, watching it as an Indian, what we can certainly learn from the movie is that such uncomfortable truths of life still prominently exist in our Indian society even in this so called developed new millennium. And the foreigners still find it fascinating enough to watch such ugly visuals of our country receiving roaring appreciation all over the world in the artistic festival circuits. So neither they have changed much nor we Indians in our uncaring, ignorant outlook towards these harsh realities.
Rating : 3.5 / 5 (including a strong appreciation for the wonder kid Sunny Pawar)
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For a moment sample this final (iconic) scene of a film where the hero has reached a railway platform and the train is scheduled to leave in a few minutes. He is eagerly waiting for the heroine to be there any moment, making her final decision to board the train accepting his loving proposal. And the girl needs to do the same revolting from her family, particularly the unsupportive, harsh father disapproving their warm relationship.
Thankfully the girl is right there on the platform after a few tense moments but so is her father creating a tense situation. But to everyone’s surprise, the father lets her board the train and doesn’t oppose the act with heartfelt tears in his eyes giving an emotional farewell. And the train slowly leaves the station taking the two lovers along.
The scene would right away bring the name of DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGE (DDLJ/1995) to your mind with Shah Rukh, Kajol and Amrish Puri playing the three characters.
But interestingly the description above is of the touching emotional climax of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ANUPAMA instead, with Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore and Tarun Bose playing the exactly identical roles, in a much more subtle, realistic and relatable way in comparison to the cult trendsetter.
In fact, the iconic finale of DDLJ can easily be described as an over dramatic, filmy version of the thoughtful, poignant climax of ANUPAMA wherein silence plays a much important role conveying it all without any forced dramatic dialogue such as ‘Ja Simran Ja…. Jee Le Apni Zindagi’.
A cathartic climax to be precise, it actually remains the key feature of ANUPAMA which very thoughtfully begins as well as ends focusing on the father alone, fighting with his own self and loneliness cursing his innocent girl. Plus as I noticed the director shows him standing behind a pillar in the nursing home (in the beginning) when the girl is born, and then again shows him hiding behind a pillar at the platform too (in the final scene of the film), saying good bye to his young, beautiful daughter with heartfelt tears in his eyes.
Certainly a perfect example of how an exactly similar scene gets visualized and represented by two renowned Hindi film directors in two entirely different eras reaching their target audience.
Recalling a few similar climax sequences in Hindi films, interestingly the most famous epic SHOLAY also had its final scene at the railway station with Sanjeev Kumar coming to give a thankful farewell to Dharmendra, who pleasantly finds Hema Malini already there in the compartment waiting for him to board.
In JAB JAB PHOOL KHILE (1965) too, Shashi Kapoor accepts the apology and pulls up Nanda madly running along the train admitting her unintentional mistake.
However in PARICHAY (1972), Jeetendra decides to jump off the train (for a change) finding Jaya searching for her at the platform along with her grandfather (Pran), who now approves their relationship after a soft denial.
In another more realistic as well as experimental climax, three (not exactly) similar characters are there at the railway platform in GHAROANDA (1977). But here, instead of the usual happy ending, both the mature man and the woman part their ways accepting the bitter reality and no one boards the train moving to their own individual lives saying the final goodbye.
So the railway platform sure has an amusing relationship with the climax of our Hindi movies and its characters since decades.
Concluding on a different note,
films like MADHUMATI (1958), POST BOX 999 (1958), RAILWAY PLATFORM (1955), KORA KAGAZ (1974), TEESRI KASAM (1966), CHITCHOR (1976) and SADMA (1983) too had their climax (or pre-climax) conceived around a railway platform. Plus films like IJAAZAT (1987) had a lot to do with railway station and its waiting room in its entire script or storyline.
But what’s interesting to note is that till the 80s we actually had train sequences and climax written around a railway platform since RAILWAYS was the most widely used means of transport in the entire nation and rarely a film had an airport finale in its storyline like in JANWAR (1965).
However as air travel became more frequent and easier towards the late 80s/early 90s and our film industry started exploring the western markets, the train climax got transformed into Airport sequences towards the end of many love stories and now the hero or heroine could be seen rushing towards the airport instead of the railway stations in many famous films like AASHIQI (1990) and more.
In fact that’s how the portrayal in cinema always changes with the changing times and lifestyles in every 2-3 decades.
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Following the current blind trend, we once again have a ‘not required’ sequel of a ‘not so successful’ film as COMMANDO -2, four years post its original (released in 2013). And in all probabilities this is a cleverly re-designed and re-packaged film post the ‘Demonetisation’ in November 2016, since it isn’t possible to begin and make a complete film talking about the subject post 8th November (amongst the huge shortage of cash) and release it too in less than 4 months flat on 3rd March 2017.
So as I strongly feel everything in this COMMANDO 2 talking about ‘Demonetisation’ was added later in the last couple of months (including the ‘Black Money’ tagline) and the film was deliberately molded as a more socially relevant project with a lot of changes in its dialogues, especially in the climax with references of lakhs of rupees coming in the accounts of all helpless and distressed farmers.
However the truth remains that despite the changes made, nothing works in the film right from the opening action sequence which sadly ends in a typically routine and seen before manner where the hero gets shot twice but suddenly gets back on the job in a couple of days, as if he has got some kind of healing power of LOGAN released on the same Friday.
Based on a casually written and mostly boring plot till the intermission, the film keeps roaming in foreign locations (mentioning Bangkok, Malaysia & Dubai) and the makers weirdly try to bring in some humour through the otherwise responsible character of a police officer played by Adah Sharma trying hard to speak in a fake Hyderabadi accent sounding awkward throughout. Plus another officer in the team plays the Muslim minority card, strongly reminding you of the far superior one seen in Aamir Khan’sSARFAROSH.
Surprisingly focusing on suspense much more than the expected action, director Deven Bhojani strangely doesn’t give Vidyut any exceptional sequences to showcase his famous skills and even the action director fails to bring in some novelty in all ‘monotonous’ fights. Vidyut no doubt does his best in the major actions sequences but it seems even he was more interested in being presented as the usual Bollywood hero moving away from his ‘action-expert image’ following a wrong guidance or vision.
As a suspense based action thriller, COMMANDO 2 offers no edge of the seat entertainment in its first hour, till a twist gets revealed just before the intermission. But instead of coming up with more interesting twists, the film turns into a B grade wannabe Abbas-Mastan kind of thriller in its unimpressive final hour ending in a lame style. Where the cinematography keeps trying to give it a grand look, both the action and background score (along with the music) fail to contribute anything worth mentioning resulting in a pretty lousy film. In fact the background score keeps getting louder as the film progresses and remains a collection of catchy fast beats and nothing else.
Apart from the above mentioned drawbacks COMMANDO 2 actually loses it all when not even a single person in its supporting cast looks serious in his or her efforts, giving below the mark performances mainly because of a (nonsensical) poor writing and direction.
In all, this can easily be called a big opportunity lost for Vidyut Jammval in particular as he could have easily become the Indian version of Van Diesel and Jackie Chan together, focusing on his action and action alone like in the original 2013 film.
So you can easily give it a miss as COMMANDO 2 has nothing to offer in return, in this present costly era of the exploitive multiplexes.
Rating : 1.5 / 5 (with a big one just for the efforts made by Vidyut and his action director)
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Hugh Jackman, more fondly known as the face of X-Men character The Wolverine, comes up with a befitting swan song of the franchise as LOGAN that is sure going to be a largely satisfying experience for almost every fan of the series paying an emotional farewell.
Telling the story of mutants living in the near future, the film begins with Jackman working as a Limo driver taking care of the ailing Professor in a hide-out near the border. And the film has an interesting story plot beautifully merging the elements of family drama, action, suspense and emotional relationships between its characters making an instant connect. Building up the pace with an impressive beginning, it superbly picks up with the introduction of an amazing little girl and then never looks pack giving you enough to cheer in the next two hours executed skillfully.
Offering much more than just a superhero film (mostly) dependent upon its appealing VFX and action sequences, director James Mangold gracefully focuses on an ageing superhero and includes many touching moments in the narration too, resulting in a highly effective as well as emotional finale of the franchise as desired.
But on the other hand, LOGAN is an extremely harsh and uneasy watch too having many disturbingly violent sequences with the claws piercing through the bodies, faces and skulls quite brutally. Though the film does feature an outstanding performance of a young girl along with a group of kids, but it isn’t any ‘Kids movie’ at all rightly rated as ‘Strictly for Adults’ by the Censor board. Putting it differently, you are sure going to make faces, tighten your fists and do several things going through the two hours of this gory, cold blooded thriller capable of upsetting the faint hearted and uninformed viewers in particular.
With loads of bloodshed in its action sequences nicely inserted in the narrative taking the story forward, LOGAN has some exceptional VFX, cinematography and background score too complimenting the high paced action. Plus it has top notch performances from the entire cast enhancing its overall impact to many times especially for the die-hard fans.
Surprisingly the highlight of the film is not only the compelling performance of Hugh Jackman (in doubles) but also a thoroughly enjoyable and worth praising act of an 11 years old girl Dafne Keen (as the wonder kid), who despite not having many dialogues, literally kills it, especially towards the end presenting herself as a strong probable contender of taking the franchise forward. Patrick Stewart as Professor X delivers a mature performance and so does everyone in the supporting cast chosen perfectly. In short, one doesn’t need to be a fan of the comic series or the franchise to appreciate the sincere and impactful performances led by Hugh Jackman.
Having said that, LOGAN still remains a not to be missed movie of a specific genre, which might not appeal to many, not willing or habitual of watching such ‘out of the routine’ fictional and unbelievable stuff. But for the sincere fans of the series, this needs to be seen at the earliest and that too in the theater without any excuse, keeping aside your torrents, laptops or phones making an extra effort.
Rating : 4 / 5(including the much deserving additional points for the spirited performance of the young girl)
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