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May 25, 2017 Thursday     

Lion - 2016

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.

(Spoilers Ahead)

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)

Tags : LION Movie Review by Bobby Sing, Lion English Film Review by Bobby Sing, LION Hindi-English movie made on real life memoirs, Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman in LION, Same format of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, Selling poverty of India to the world, Western Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New English Films Reviews by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com
07 March 2017 / bobbysing /
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Hearing the news of writer-actor-director Smeep Kang going for the bold remake of Malayalam film SHUTTER (2012) titled as LOCK excited me a lot for two major reasons.
One – As I had already seen SHUTTER including it in the Movies To See Before You Die list at BTC. So a Punjabi remake of such an intense and innovative film was certainly a great news.
Two – As I always knew Smeep strongly wished to come out of his monotonous run of comedy films since long and had all the capabilities of making a fine Punjabi version of the exceptional SHUTTER.
However along with the confidence, I also had the doubts that,
Who will let him do that in the ‘exact extreme’ or ‘at your face’ manner in Punjabi Cinema?
Who will let him make it as a dark, bold and thought provoking thriller like SHUTTER? and
Who will back it as a project without any songs and romantic angle with no female lead or any positive hero as such?
Unfortunately my doubts won over the confidence I had in the talented director, which eventually forced him to deliver a film that can surely be called an appreciable, distinctive attempt by an honest director, but certainly not anything highly insightful or thought provoking missing the depth, emotion and realistic feel of its Malayalam original.
So LOCK is a fine and well intentioned attempt that is sure to surprise the Punjabi viewers a lot who haven’t seen the original. But the film is not any great remake to be precise, due to many evident reasons related to the Punjabi film industry, its financiers (producers), the dependence on ‘big star names’ and fear of rejection from the audience taking them as granted (not willing or receptive of any kind of intense or dark cinema).
Having said that, I would not like to blame Smeep Kang for this ‘extremely toned down’, ‘sweet sounding film’, not very far away from a subtle comedy as many might like to call it. Since it’s not the director’s fault in any way, visible on the screen right from the opening credits to the final scroll having two ‘must-have’ promotional songs affecting the overall feel.
In fact LOCK can easily be considered as a clear example of a project where the director was not allowed to do what he wished to do with his subject and the film was exactly made to sweetly please the audience instead of rudely shocking them.
In other words, such films and subjects revolving around male dominance in a family, social double standards regarding sexual relationships, indulgence in paid sex by married men and a long night spent with a hooker, actually work when made with a strong penetrating vision using the right kind of realistic expressions, casting and more importantly dialogues or language making an instant connect with the viewers reminding them of their own personal situations and experiences.
However in LOCK everything gets presented in an overly ‘sugar-coated’ form displaying the fear of failure, and that’s exactly where the spirit of original SHUTTER gets mercilessly murdered on the screen in my personal opinion.
Putting it differently as water needs a certain temperature to boil, films like LOCK also need to reach a specific cinematic temperature to make that desired solid impact on the viewers, forcing them to sit back and think about the unpredictable situations. And just like the water fails to boil before that required temperature, a LOCK also doesn’t work without offering the required amount of suspense, tension and guilt to its interested viewers.
For instance, the soul of LOCK gets deeply wounded when the makers try to adjust a young budding artist with a college fest song in its very first scene.
It gets brutally affected when a leading star of the industry Gippy Grewal is somehow fitted in the narration to add some value to the project, overacting in his elaborate scenes of a drunkard, cheating the viewers who assumed him to be the hero (in absence of any clear clarifications made in the promotion).
The film fails to make the desired impact because of the wrong casting of Geeta Basra as the sex-worker (again to bring in some star value), when she neither looks nor behaves or speaks like her character even once in the entire film.

But above all the spirit of LOCK never finds its right, inspiring mood because of its typical comic background score which keeps distracting the viewers throughout, giving them false suggestions of some kind of COMEDY surely coming in the next sequences. And they all keep waiting for the same quite desperately.
In short such innovative, unconventional and dark films essentially need to build a tense atmosphere preparing the audience for its unexpectedly daring sequences. But LOCK strangely maintains a very light, comical and cool environment during its entire two hours of duration killing the actual soul of its theme, turning the film into ‘a mild entertainer’ instead of ‘a serious social shocker’ quite sadly. Probably that’s the reason why even the strong finale dialogue between the father and his young daughter also fails to make any significant impact.
Nevertheless, I will still like to praise this brave effort made by director Smeep Kang, as there are not many in the Punjabi film industry who have both the courage and the understanding of selecting such tough original subject revolving around SEX, for their crucial Punjabi remake. Besides, acting in it too doing the most difficult role of them all impressively, certainly deserves to be supported and applauded wholeheartedly. (Incidentally I still remember how we all immensely enjoyed Smeep’s lead performance in Jaspal Bhatti’s MAHAUL THEEK HAI in the late-90s resembling Sunny Deol and singing “Aiven Hass Ke Na Saade Val Takk Ni”.)
Would also like to praise Gippy Grewal, for supporting the project despite its strong, unusual and dicey subject, far ahead than what’s being currently made in Punjabi Cinema. (though I strongly believe he should have just helped as a facilitator avoiding the cameo role)
But along with this praise, I would strongly like to raise an alarm for all the energetic but half-courageous producers too conveying the fact that even a talented director cannot make any kind of shocking, thought provoking cinema with so many fears, apprehensions or imaginary constraints haunting all over his mind.
If you wish such path-breaking films to be made in Punjabi cinema then you need to place your complete confidence in a director like Smeep Kang giving him unconditional freedom to play his mind-games on the screen, but cannot expect him to deliver ‘some great cinema’ by forcing him to include 3 songs, a budding singer, many comedy dialogues and even ‘paid sex’ shown in such conservative ‘sweet’ manner in a subject like LOCK.
In indicative words, a prostitute needs to look, walk and talk like a prostitute and not like any homely, politely speaking lady waiting for her client in the night hours, just because you have signed a known (reputed) name for the specific role and don’t feel like offending someone with any realistic portrayal.
Hence, please do continue making such significant attempts to change the present sick-stinking scenario of Punjabi cinema. But in the process, stop killing your director’s creative mind putting him in a vicious circle of ‘mostly silly restrictions’ fearing the audience rejection.             
Please STOP doing this SIN if you really wish your cinema and audience to grow together.
Rating : 2.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 just for the courage of director Smeep Kang for daringly making a remake of the unpleasant but worth watching original SHUTTER.)


For friends interested in reading the BTC write-up on the Malayalam SHUTTER, here is the link:

Tags : Lock (Punjabi) Review by Bobby Sing, LOCK Film Review by Bobby Sing, Rare Punjabi Remake of Malayalam Film, SHUTTER Remake in Punjabi as LOCK, Official Punjabi Remakes of South Malayalam films, New Films reviewed at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Film Reviews by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com
14 October 2016 / bobbysing /
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Keeping in mind its dark realistic theme, a heavy regional feel and all unknown names in the cast apart from Randeep Hooda, no one was admittedly expecting LAAL RANG to be an enjoyable worth watching film made on a novel concept. Such timely surprises actually infuse a new life back into the medium and I really love living that Friday when a highly underrated film like this, turns out to be an extremely pleasant experience offering more than one big merit to mention, praising the effort as a whole. So giving you the good news, here is a film that proves all pre-release speculations (largely) wrong and successfully manages to entertain despite being based on a dark, depressing subject of blood-bank black marketing and exploitation of the poor.
Now may be it was my personal experience of watching it sitting behind a big group of young energetic Haryanavi boys enjoying it to the most giving their constant witty comments or it was our mutual admiration for YAMAHA RX 100 bike used in its key sequences that made me appreciate LAAL RANG much more than my own expectations ignoring its minor flaws.
Whatever might be the reason, the other truth remains that the film does prove to be a clear winner within its first 30 minutes itself when you simply start loving all the realistic characters on screen led by one of the most underrated actors of our times, Randeep Hooda. And then the highly original proceedings, a never before kind of fresh subject, immensely likable local feel, well written entertaining dialogues (using the raw Hariyanavi tone) and worth appreciating supporting performances give you a pretty good time in the theater, much beyond the promises made by its interesting trailer.
No doubt the ‘real life inspired’ theme of a blood-bank racket playing with people’s lives serves as the major strength of the film providing the novelty factor. But it’s eventually Randeep Hooda, who single handedly lifts up the whole narration to much higher levels in the later parts of the film, also getting a worth mentioning valuable support from the cinematography, soundtrack and background score department too, together putting up a great show.
Presenting it as a restrained crime-thriller, director Syed Ahmed Afzal neither uses any guns nor stylized gang wars in his true to life portrayal of the real life happenings. There are no high end car-chases or fight sequences generating the usual kind of filmy excitement. And yet there exists a certain likable (raw) aura around its entire distasteful proceedings that never lets you feel uninterested or tired right till the finale sequence having its own emotional appeal ending on a positive note.
With a perfectly chosen cast LAAL RANG progresses at a convincing easy pace (without any fast intercuts) pulling you into the world of its likeable realistic characters dealing with love, friendship, poverty, crime and their own individual conflicts in a highly believable manner. Apart from the engaging bromance, the film also successfully presents the sensitive romance between its lead couple with a much entertaining use of Rapidex English Speaking Course heard after a long gap. Besides, many of the supporting characters also manage to make a more than decent impact on the viewers like the short statured Shani Baba (Kumar Saurabh), the blood bank manager (Rajendra Sethi), the rival goons (including Ashutosh - the Roadies/Big Boss winner) and the thin rickshaw puller donating his blood every 15 days.
As a known blood-bank racket kingpin with solid high-level connections, Randeep Hooda simply nails it playing on his home turf with a perfect Haryanvi lingo and killer expressions. In fact, LAAL RANG just deserves a watch for his solo performance alone having an immensely lovable charm and a strong magnetism. Displaying a variety of shades in his characterization, Hooda truly wins your heart in the climax which even forces you to think, that do such good hearted, cool & sensitive criminals really exist?
Playing his student-cum-partner in crime, Akshay Oberoi gives an earnest performance managing well but its Piaa Bajpai who simply excels in her role of a clumsy girl deliberately using English words in her dialogues with an extra ‘s’ in the end. Rajneish Duggal is just fine as the Police officer in charge and so is pretty Meenakshi Dixit as the Randeep’s love interest. Whereas Shreya Narayan entertains as the lab-assistant reminding you of the good old Bindu or Aruna Irani and it was great to see veteran Keemti Anand on screen too after a long time.
Among the drawbacks, a lot of creative liberty has been taken tackling the donated blood packets, their transfer, delivery and storage in terms of medical restrictions as per my own assumptions. The narration does take a dip in the second half (in absence of Randeep) and also goes into an extra length adding a situational song towards the climax that could have been avoided. Randeep, not exactly looking like a young Diploma student and few clichéd references in the script may also be a concern for many. Moreover, the heavy Hariyanavi flavor in the dialogues might not be able to impress the viewers unaware of the language and its amusing raw tone (more relatable for the people of Delhi, NCR, Haryana, Karnal and the adjacent regions).
However, with a motive of inspiring you further to go for this underrated worth watching film as a must, would like to mention some of its interesting key features as given below.
Though the director intentionally presents the subject in an enjoyable comic style, still LAAL RANG boldly reveals the ugly blood-bank racket operational in almost every region of the country, shockingly including everyone from the local nursing homes to major city hospitals as shown in the film (at times also selling infected, untested or even rejected units of blood to the patient’s relatives).
The film draws your attention towards a significant part of our poor population that does consider ‘Blood donation’ as a major source of earning money both in the rural as well as metro cities.
Depicting the scary situation with a pinch of sarcasm, a poster of Subhash Chandra Bose in the film can be spotted with an alteration made to the famous quote as, “Tum Mujhe Khoon Do Main Tumhe Paise Doonga”.
Mentioning another intelligent insertion in the film, a sequence first showcases a group of young boys commenting upon the girls in the Diploma College premises as usual. But just after a few minutes a couple of girls are also shown doing the same with a smart boy passing by balancing the earlier act.
A few well-conceived musical tracks with a typical Hariyanavi flavour look simply great inserted in its various sequences, a lot different from what we usually get to see and hear in Hindi mainstream films. Like ‘Bawli Booch’ and specifically ‘Tere Pey Main Kardun Kharach Karod’ in its catchy slower version.
A character in the film, who steals blood pouches from the Delhi hospitals giving a regular supply to Randeep is named as “Dracula of Delhi” and the film has several other small references of Hooda’s repulsive yet entertaining sense of humour making it a compelling watch.
Summing up, I have interestingly read many discouraging reviews of the movie in the print and web media together giving their own various reasons. But the novel-fresh subject of the film, its intelligent execution, the sarcastic humour, an excellent realistic feel, the entertaining local lingo, the unusual original soundtrack and all worth praising performances from the entire cast do not allow me to rate it as any mediocre movie at all, putting it honestly. 

So as a BTC recommendation, do try to watch it and have a great time with its mostly unknown cast and a funny, bloody man played to perfection by Randeep Hooda.
Rating : 3.5 / 5 (Including a big one for Randeep alone for his flawless Hariyanavi act)
Tags : Laal Rang Review by Bobby Sing, Laal Rang Film Review by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Real Life Inspired Films, Based on Real Life Events, Realistic films, Based on Blood-Bank racket
22 April 2016 / bobbysing /
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