Movie Review


This article is an insight on ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’ and how it delves to the social paradigm of our country.

As I walked out of the theatre feeling that I have been called poor by Karan Johar in 3 languages I couldn’t help but wonder, are over the top popcorn flicks the one stop solution of inducting social cues in the Indian audience.
Beneath Flashy costumes and larger than life setting Rocky and Rani ki prem kahani slips in commentaries on social hierarchies and prejudices . Be it the textbook feminist Rani Chatterjee’s relentless pursuit of a ghoonghat free Randhawa palace, Rocky’s glamour doing a solid uno reverse the overt sexualization of female heroines in Bollywood or the gender no bar kathak performances, the movie does not shy away from inclusion.

One might find the rom-com a little dismissive about matters that set televisions reporters (and seemingly the nation) on fire, be it the discourse on racism , profiling of gender restrictive talents or patriarchal set ups in general. Through the clash between a stereotypical ghoonghat clad loud Punjabi family with a high end cultured Bengali intellectuals, the subtle undertone that hit was about how quick we are to dismiss notions that do not quantify well in our spectrum. For example Rocky Randhawa’s speech after Rani’s father’s classical performance is publicly shamed by the hip Punjabi audience is one for which the dialogue writer deserves a raise if not a superior mandate into any conversation that mentions the ‘woke culture’ in the Indian society . What really struck a chord in his monologue was how accurately it portrayed the cultural bias we have nurtured
through our social settings. The contemptuous outlook at everything that doesn’t resonate with our presumably superior understanding of the world deserves nothing but a dismissal followed by a grunt.

The lionising of culture contrasted with the seemingly steep curve of understanding presented a dilemma that any diversified culture would relate to. Him reiterating again and again the need to have a more comprehensive understanding of different point of views hits the bullseye in the current social climate , given that every contentious issue divides the public into three spheres where one group hold the higher ground of intellectual injunction, the other of dogmatic persistence and the third being the ones who are at this point too afraid to jump into the complex web battling information and misinformation. The fear of being ‘cancelled’ by the woke culture leaves little to no room for them to inculcate new world views, something that our protagonist seemingly struggled with through half of the movie and culminated into a quirky yet thought provoking monologue.

I’m afraid that the monologue in  Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani has done more for West Delhi gym guys than for feminism. Although the reactions to the movie can range from the audience bursting into loud ‘awws’, to scornful side eyes to the melodramatic social messages, the movie does provide a handful of insights that serve well to the ‘Dharma-tic’ audience.

Image Credits: Mint

Priya Shandilya
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An ultra-rich backdrop, razor sharp dialogue, and stellar acting is what makes Succession the gold standard for television right now.


Jesse Armstrong’s multiple-Emmy winning series has a deceptively simple premise – the patriarch of media conglomerate Waystar RoyCo is ageing and must choose an heir to his business empire. Thus, the stage is set for an endless game of musical chairs between his children for the throne – power-hungry Kendall, derisive Roman, politically-savvy Shiv and estranged oldest son Connor. Power-struggles, corporate backstabbing and constant plotting ensues between the siblings and a host of well-fleshed out and complicated side characters who form the heart of the show throughout its four-season run.

Succession’s portrayal of the wealthy and influential is both captivating and horrifying. ‘Multi-faceted’ is one way to describe the narcissistic and money-obsessed characters who reek of upper-class privilege and can manipulate the course of the nation as per their whims and fancies. Yet, despite the absolutely vile character arcs, it is impossible not to root for them in their achingly-tender moments of humanity. This is a testament to the masterclass in acting done by the ensemble of actors who deliver the show’s signature sharp and biting dialogue to perfection. There is something revolting yet fascinating in the obscene, and hilariously vulgar lines.

Besides the personal narratives of each character, the show also provides insightful commentary on wider social issues such as influence of media and technology on society, politics, culture, and identity. It calls out the power-mongering and under the table lifestyle of the luxurious. Familial influences and power structures dictate the living of the top 1%. This adds a fresh layer of analysis to the already complex individual storylines, making the show a wonderful mix of satire and insight on capitalism and American corporatism.

Exceptional locations, cinematography, background scores and production value – the hits keep coming. The glorious theme song (this plays in my head 24/7 on repeat) and opening credits hook you in for a wildly funny, tragic and jaw-dropping ride. The music perfectly captures the mood of the show – sinister, dark and greedy but whimsical when need be. Another standout is the work of the costumes department. The lack of ostentatious displays of wealthy but quiet luxury at its finest where a single cap costs millions of dollars is an absolute stroke of genius. The symbols of wealth like the fleet of black SUVs, the helicopters, the elaborate real estate and the constant entourage just add to the sensory delight of the show.

Succession is a much watch for fans of pitch-black comedy and suspense. It is a gift that keeps giving and the fascinating character-driven plot keeps you hooked despite your utter disgust for the characters. After all, the ultimate question remains – who shall be the successor and nab the top job?

Come for the family and corporate intrigue, stay for the absolute finest filmmaking seen in recent times. Be right back, going to make Nicholas Britell’s Succession theme song my new ringtone.

Feature Image Source: Pinterest

Read Also: Film Criticism: Of Subjectivity and Stars

Bhavya Nayak

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A brief outlay of what goes into perceiving film criticism as one of the most misunderstood and least credited forms of entertainment journalism

 Entertainment journalism is probably the least taken seriously category of journalism in most mainstream discourses on the same. People diss it off in terms of it being something that works primarily on exercising unsolicited opinions. Film critics specifically are called people whose failure at being professionals of cinema led to them choosing lives as critics who find it inherently impossible to break upon the scene as real artists. To warrant a ‘positive’ review the film itself needs to emerge from a certain generic space – preferably indie – whereas those belonging to genres more mainstream will always remain sidelined in terms of the adulaton they receive from critics (clearly people don’t read reviews coming out of film festivals).

In a post-paparazzi world, the act of recording itself has been essentially reduced to its barest levels whereby entire film reviews are just sent out through character limited tweets are limited to a string of adjectives which are incoherently strung together to create what could only be possibly labelled as a mood piece gone horribly wrong. There is much less consideration of film criticism as an evolved form of journalism that requires an in-depth understanding of the material at hand – not only on a narrative level but also in terms of technicalities such as editing, cinematography and sound – to name a few. The dilution of entertainment criticism is also largely owing to the social media boom where every person not only has an opinion but also a space to offer that opinion at; and hence opinions – mostly under-researched and unfounded, start masquerading as ‘reviews’ with no credibility.

Over the years a variety of outstanding critics (sadly mostly Western) have made their mark in the field by developing styles unique to themselves such as the balanced, seemingly objective outlook of someone like Roger Ebert, displaying a child-like joy and enjoyment of the medium as opposed to someone like Pauline Kael who took a much personal, feisty and passionate look at every film she reviewed turning her reviews of the films into as deeply personal experiences as the film itself.

Another massive negating point of film criticism is the lack of appreciating subjective standpoints. While on grounds of technicality one can take an objective stance and comment on badly edited sequences of out-of-sync sound sequences – the final response to film as a piece of art is something that is deeply individual and subjective. 2001: A Space Odyssey termed by Ebert as one of the greatest films ever made is undoubtedly two hours of technical brilliance but I am allowed to espouse my opinion with regard to how deeply boring I found the film.

Which brings us to the question of rating films. It is very easy to end an opinion piece on any film we see with a string of stars lying at the end like a discarded appendage without an universal metric system to ensure that star ratings are uniform. While people reduce the reviews to their final star ratings to have an essential understanding of the critic’s viewpoint they fail to realise that the existence of the star rating is perhaps the most subjective derivative of the act of film criticism. As Shah Rukh Khan had famously said in the first edition of the FCCA, why must our film experiences be akin to five star hotels? Can’t we do better than this?

Anwesh Banerjee

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Devi is a representation of absolute truth and an obsolete future, presented through nine women who share one common thread of past.

Priyanka Banerjee’s creation- Devi, is not a story, but truth brought into broad daylight. The film brings forth a shared truth of nine women from different walks of life. The setting is simple- a room filled with women. All seem to have engaged themselves- offering prayers, engrossing oneself in books, playing cards, trying to fix the television. The characters show the grim situation which is nothing but absolute truth. They seem to be engulfed in their respective coping mechanisms.

Bairi (Yashaswini Dayama)  switches on the television- a popular song plays on the screen- Jiya Jaaye Naa. but contrary to the romantic overtones of the song, it seems to be a statement- Jiya Jaaye Naa (unable to live). Absence of life seems to resonate through the chorus of the song. Whether it is the living condition inside the room or the past of the characters, both signify the inability to live.

Before the plot unfolds, the room itself reflects a rhetoric value. The characters repeatedly ask about the number of people to be accommodated in the room, they feel suffocated, indicating that the room has finite space. The electricity fluctuation further raises the issue of burden. The room can hence be seen as a concrete translation of an abstract concept- tolerance. The ability to tolerate is finite, just like the capacity of the room. Patience and tolerance seem to be at a tipping end as the doorbell rings.

The channel suddenly changes to a news channel wherein a case of sexual assault is embossed on the headlines of the television, however, before the details are revealed, signal is lost. The headlines create tension in the room but before the viewers can know further the doorbell rings.

Four minutes into the short film, the viewers realise that there are skirmishes sparking off between the women inside the room as the doorbell rings repeatedly. Shivani Raghuvanshi’s character proposes the need for a proper system, this is where viewers’ curiosities are dissolved as it is revealed that the women are rape victims and have met death. At the end of the discussion no conclusion seems to arrive. This reflects another reality- rape is rape, a criminal offence that cannot be measured or compared.

There is an unusual relation between the women- forced sisterhood that does not come natural but is forced through the past. They know the gruesome truth but fail to empathise. Banerjee draws a parallel here- between the characters in the room and those in the society. The lacking empathy mirrors the society- a society which is unable to realise the ‘lopsided’ side.

At the end, Kajol’s character has to remind the other women of the day they entered to sensitise them as she walks to open the door.

“Yaad hai jab hum aaye the toh kitne darein huye the. (remember how scared we were when we first came here)”

A child enters, barely five or seven. As she enters the room, a state of speechlessness engulfs the room, a state of speechlessness engulfs the space that has a deafening effect. Devi ends in a complete circle. When Bairi switches the television a reporter asks concerning questions and as Devi ends, there are equally concerning truths.

Watch Priyanka Banerjee’s Devi here

Although Devi is gut-wrenching, it has uncanny resemblance to Abhishek Rai’s Four, a 2018 short film. The concept of both the films are identical. The parallels are heightened at the end as the endings are nearly the same.

Watch Abhishek Rai’s Four here

Feature Image Credits: YouTube

Priyanshi Banerjee


Sam Mendes’s 1917, Oscar nominee and winner of two Golden Globes awards, is one of the best war epics out there. Read further to gain a deeper insight into the film.

Opening with a shot of two soldiers relaxing under the shade of a tree in absolute serenity, Sam Mendes offers his audience the only moment in the entire film where they will not be holding their breath. 1917 follows these two British soldiers during the First World War as they are given the impossible task to deliver a message in order to possibly save the lives of about 1600 troops who would be walking into a trap set by the Germans.

The most popularly acclaimed aspect of this blockbuster film is Roger Deakin’s excellent work of cinematography as he presents a visual gimmick, making it appear as if the entire film was taken in one single, long shot. Deakins, along with editor Lee Smith, managed to stitch together 8-minute long shots to such perfection that they go unnoticed by the common eye. This feature of the film arrests the viewers’ attention from deviating, keeping their eyes glued to the screen and their bums on the edge of their seats.

The movie appears as a third-person video game where the two soldiers, Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) are your avatars and delivering the message is your mission. The only additional challenge here – the emotional stake, making you even more intensely engrossed and terrified.

The film also offers multiple picturesque sets and frames. Many stills captured are pictures worth thousands of words, with every little detail to be seen of great significance. The sets include 5200 meters of trenches, villages ablaze and lots and lots of corpses. Even with a lack of dialogue, especially towards the final 45 minutes of the film, the actors’ subtle yet vivid facial expressions, change in skin tones with the change in environment, brings about greater depth to the plot. In fact, in certain scenes even lack of expression altogether substitutes the need for dialogue.

Another crucial element of the film was its music composition by 14-time Oscar nominee, Thomas Newman. The soundtrack managed to perfectly follow the changing pace of the movie and create the required tension and terror. Instead of overlapping the melancholic mood of the film, the soundtrack complemented it. Newman managed not to overwork his magic by leaving long patches of silence creating a sense of apprehension among the audience, eager to know what would happen next.

Apart from its technical aspects, the film also introduces two new and relatively “unknown” faces to its audience- MacKay and Chapman. The two actors are, in a way, “not so special” in comparison to the supporting cast like Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden. This allows the audience to view them as two ordinary soldiers with ordinary aspirations, giving them a more realistic picture of the war. The audience is also better able to relate to these characters.

Knitting together these various elements , 1917 proves itself to be one of the best war epics seen in the history of cinema. The 2 hour long film is an exciting journey for the audience that’ll leave them awestruck and equally content.

Feature Image Credits: Fandago

Aditi Gutgutia

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It 2, the second installment of Andres Muschietti’s film series, based on Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It hit the theatres on 6th September, 2019. For those, who expect to experience the utter terror they got when they read the book, reconsider that because you will be left disappointed in this drawn-out and barely terrifying movie.

It was the first novel I read which “wasn’t meant for children,” and to a young child of 13, the entire book was nightmare fodder for a month and the cause of one too many sleepless nights. As a horror movie aficionado, when I heard they were going to make an It movie again, more than a 2 and a half decades after the 1990 It miniseries, which was quite frankly atrocious, I allowed myself to get a little excited and the first It movie of 2019 did deliver to some extent. With the capturing of Pennywise the clown, the underlying tones of friendship, and lost innocence and childhood (while all fairly cliché), the film did draw me back to the book, and while not the perfect movie, did serve to give a chill down the spine. However, the second installment, was the complete opposite, failing to frighten and becoming a drawn-out and a tedious affair.

On a positive note, Bill Skarsgard put in an impressive performance as Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, bringing in all the creepiness you would associate with a murderous extraterrestrial entity that prefers taking the form of a dancing clown. The little cameo by Stephen King, as a snarky antique store shopkeeper, was a nice touch, along with hiring an actual comedian in Bill Hader to play the role of Richie Tozier. The movie didn’t rely on cheap and unnecessary jump-scares and focussed more on a sense of gradual terror and suspense, which it somewhat succeeded at.

The movie was incredibly drawn out, with the run time being 2 hours and 50 minutes. The run time would have been justified if the movie kept us on the edge of our seats. With the last hour being incredibly drawn out and boring, with two-three nearly climaxes eventually faded into nothing, it left me checking my phone every now and then, something I never do in a movie theatre.  Unlike The Shining, another Stephen King novel which was adapted into a movie with a run time of around 2 and a half hours, which succeeded in keeping an air of suspense and terror throughout the film, It 2 was unable to keep its audience hooked and glued to their seats.

Coming to the various manifestations of It to scare the Losers Club, most of the designs and animations appeared childish. They were more like a Goosebumps monster rather than corroborating with Stephen King’s raw and macabre writing style. I found myself smiling and chuckling because of the ridiculous designs some of these monsters had, probably not the reaction one should get while watching a horror movie, but sadly that was the case.

Some parts of the book were skipped, and while some should have been skipped. I particularly remember a showdown with IT and Richie, where Richie uses his humour to show he is not afraid, one of my favourite parts in the book and one which Bill Hader would have done well, buts oh look! It is not in the film. Another thing which this movie ignored was how when Stephen King told the story, it started from the main characters and slowly recalling their memories of the first time they faced It as children as they walk the streets of Derry, something which added a sense of suspense to the novel, and if the same approach was adopted in the movie series, it would have done it a world of good.

The experience of watching a film should be wholesome and enchanting, especially a film like It 2, which has a ton of expectations from its audience. After seeing the movie, I can safely say, It 2 is part of the losers club for movies, and not in the good and wholesome way.

Feature Image Credits: IMDB

Prabhanu Kumar Das

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Hellboy director leaves us with a deep reckoning about what is true love and its manifestations. The film is also a story about the primal struggle between good and evil. It also underscores the importance of having a harmonious relation with nature and its patrons. But, most importantly, The Shape of Water teaches us how to love with carefree abandon, without fear and without malice.   Feature Image Credits: Forbes Sara Sohail [email protected]]]>


Malik Muhhamad Jayasi of Awadh penned a poem in the sixteenth century, glorifying the beauty of Rani Padmini. She, whose existence is itself a controversial issue, did not fail to enamour the readers of the poem and the spectators of the movie through the legend of her beauty and bravery.

After many contentions to the release of the historic movie Padmaavat, it was finally showcased on the 25th of January – almost two months late after the original release date. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is an artist of great taste and has a penchant for the historical Indian royal portrayals. From Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) to Bajirao Mastani (2015), this producer and director has never failed to awe the Indian audience. This movie is one of the most expensive movies Bollywood has ever produced – with a budget of over Rupees 200 crores.

This movie, Bhansali’s magnum opus was originally titled Padmavati, after the name of the poem Padmavat by Jayasi. The title was modified as the filmmakers have attributed their creative source to the fictional poem, and not history. The existence of the events described in this poem has little authenticity. Though Alauddin Khilji had won Chittor, during that period there is no mention of any character as Padmavati in history. Historians point that not even Amir Khusrau (prolific writer of Alauddin’s court) mentioned Padmavati and the ruler’s longing for her. However, Rajputs claim the existence of Rani Padmini of Chittor.

The entire cast has been terrific throughout the movie. Ranveer Singh played the tyrannous Alauddin Khilji, Deepika Padukone portrayed Rani Padmavati, and Shahid Kapoor depicted the King of Chittor Raval Ratan Singh. From the very first look of Padmavati, Deepika portrayed feminine delicateness along with Rajput valour with finesse. The onscreen chemistry of the King of Chittor and the Rani was missing but the grandeur of the couple and their heroism while fighting the tyrannous Khilji was portrayed perfectly. Alauddin has been portrayed as the oppressive ruler who longs for Rani Padmavati after he hears about her from the traitor of Chittor, Raghav Chetan. He contrived the Rajputs to possess the beautiful Rajput queen. After the foreseen defeat of the Rajputs, Rani Padmavati and the women of Chittor commit jauhar (self-immolation) for the sake of their honour. The very last scene has been applauded by many, as the queen stepped into the burning pyre in the entrance of the fort – marking a great sacrifice in the name of the kingdom.

Despite all high alerts due to the upheavals by the Karni Sena, this movie is worth the wait and money. It is an amalgamation of considerable hard work from all the artists involved and deserves to be thoroughly appreciated.


Feature Image Credits: India

Radhika Boruah
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Directed by the brilliant Anurag Kashyap, starring talented actors like Vineet Kumar Singh along with Jimmy Shergill, Mukkabaaz had set itself up to high expectations. While Mukkabaaz stepped away from the norms of our film industry, it couldn’t really keep itself away from it. Within a few minutes of the film’s start, we see an aspiring wrestler Shravan Singh falling in love with Sunaina, who later becomes the love of his life. Her uncle, Bhagwan Das unleashes his torment on the couple but they manage to defeat him. Such a cliché model is mainstream in Bollywood since its inception. In the movie, Shravan’s love story becomes the plot and the fight against corrupt sports management becomes the setting. For anyone who despises such a cliché, the movie can become tough to watch.

Shravan Singh is a man who stood up for himself, and pursued his passion wholeheartedly. But, life is never easy for a person who does that. Bhagwan Das, the villian of the movie, was a disinterested trainer who used his disciples as personal help. When Shravan confronts him to focus on their professional training, Das’ ego decides to unleash a reign of terror over Singh’s life. Interestingly, at the end, Shravan’s love for Sunaina makes him give up wrestling, a passion and profession he had fought for (literally, and metaphorically).

Filled with several fights, the movie runs for over two and a half hours which can get exhausting for the audience. In an attempt to make it realistic, Vineet Kumar Singh followed a rigorous boxing regime to look like a boxer, who is fit enough to box for real. The film engages the audience with a pragmatic approach, steering away from the cliché of victory-of-good-over-evil.

The movie touches upon the oppressive politics of caste, class, and power in a subtle yet powering way. In one scene, Bhagwan Das gets beef delivered to Shravan’s trainer who is later pummelled into a coma by the rightist Hindu mob as an attempt to hinder Shravan from wrestling. In another scene, Bhagwan Das gets his niece married off for his own benefit, showing that marriage has become institution out of force rather than love. Impregnated with insidious commentary on the current societal issues along with the open criticism of the deceitful, and the crooked sports management, Mukkabaaz is definitely a must watch.

Feature Image Credits: koimoi.com

Varoon Tuteja

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“Your hair. It looks like fire. And smells of cinnamon. I wonder what it will smell like when you burn.”

Inspired by the Salem witch trials of the 17th century, an American supernatural horror television series was created in 2014. Initially, it was titled Malice, to be later changed to Salem. The story follows the series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts. The preliminary hearings were conducted in several towns; the most infamous being conducted in 1692 in Salem Town. Witch trials paint the Puritans as hypocritical scolds; yet also embrace the notion that there really were witches operating at the time, which makes their capital punishments seem a little less crazed and paranoid. Never mind that it runs counter to the rather duller historical record and lessons learned about the true nature of witch hunts. Here in the 21st century, science and reason rule, but in a world of sorcery, clinging to rationality just makes you stupid.


Having prominent elements of gothic drama, the show stars Janet Montogomery and Shane West in the lead roles of Mary Sibley and John Alden. The story opens with Mary even under unyielding laws regarding fornication, facing an unwanted potentially fatal pregnancy courtesy of her lover, Captain John Alden. A pact with a sorceress resolves her problem, but as we can see when the story flashes seven years ahead, the innocent Mary we initially met has been sacrificed along with the child in the wilderness. Alden, inevitably, saunters back into town after years at war, complicating life for the now-married Mary, whose powers are certainly formidable, even if it’s not clear to what end they’re being used. Married, Mary is the new ruler of Salem. Her unnerving powers crushed the existence of her so-called husband, the head of Salem. Her sorcerer servants and the land of the dead consecrate to her powers. The townspeople are haunted by the witch hunt, wherein every now and then an innocent person is caught to be a witch.

Meanwhile, the witch-hunting Mather is crusading against this sulfurous threat, even if like some prominent modern-day religious leaders, doesn’t always practice what he preaches. Subsequently, Salem is afflicted by a terrible plague and a witch war was drawing close: the consequences of the Grand Rite of the witches. Mary is united with her son Oliver who is possessed by the Dark Lord, after the countless raising the devil in the form of a child. Mary died saving the life of her love, Captain Alden. But demolition of the Puritan values and the destruction of Salem had to be put to a stop.

So, binge the three seasoned series to know the rest!



Feature Image Credits: www.bsnscb.com 



Radhika Boruah

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