Dangal Review – Dangal is a Hindi sports biopic released in 2016. The movie is based on the real-life story of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat on how he had coached his daughters to compete and win in the international arena.
In the past few years, there has been some successful sports biopic released in India. Dangal not only joins the list but sets a new benchmark. Aamir Khan steals the show by playing the role of the wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat. He breaks all the stereotypes and peer pressure of making a movie that idolizes a hero with mass elements. As the real life hero he plays, he puts his daughters in front in the movie. There is also a scene in which he loses a wrestling match with his daughter. A scene that many superstars would dread to do in the current scenario. Also, his younger self with a fit avatar just appears for a couple of minutes in the entire movie.
The first half of the movie has been created with absolute creativity. Every frame has been crafted beautifully and has a great cinematic value. The opening sequence itself will hook you on to the lead protagonist. The screenplay has been made interesting with a careful mixture of emotions and humor. The use of Aamir’s nephew to move the screenplay through narration adds an interesting dimension to the movie and helps in introducing the main protagonist and his daughters very well.
The second half is like any other sports biopic with more focus on wrestling matches and has been executed very well.
High Points: Aamir’s performance, The opening sequence, the first half of the movie where the girls get trained, their ways to avoid training going futile, the transformation they go through to fight male wrestlers. Interesting screenplay. Songs and the way they have been picturised. Direction by Nitesh Tiwari. Among everything is how the stereotype of a male-oriented subject has been broken.
Low Points: There are no much low points in the movie, the emotional melodrama in the climax could have been kept low.
I was bit let down after watching Sultan for the way it had typecasted women to sacrifice life for her man’s dreams. Dangal has completely removed it by breaking the stereotypes. Kudos to Nitesh Tiwari and team for belief in the script and executing with perfection. Probably the best sign off from Disney pictures in India.
Overall Dangal is a movie that will inspire you and nail the importance of sports and women empowerment. Go and watch it in the theaters with your family.
M S Dhoni: The Untold Story Review – M S Dhoni The Untold Story is a Hindi biopic released in 2016. The movie captures the significant events in the life of Indian Cricket Captain M S Dhoni until the 2011 one day world cup final.
Recently biopics seem to be the happening trend in Bollywood. M S Dhoni’s biopic had so many promises ever since it had been announced. One it was based on a sport that is considered next to religion in India, it was based on the man who led India to victory in the world cup after 28 years, the other it was directed by Neeraj Pandey who has movies like Special 26, Baby and A Wednesday to his credits.
The movie is nevertheless a well-made movie. It has been shot well and the life in Ranchi has been captured well. The biggest highlight is the performance of Sushant Singh Rajput. He is very convincing as M S Dhoni on screen. His hard work on emulating the captain has worked well. The credit goes to him and director for executing this well.
What starts with a promise of becoming an inspiring biopic nose dives in the second half chasing down the romantic story in Dhoni’s life. And the important milestones in his cricketing career like becoming the T20 Captain, winning the T20 world cup and that bold decision of bowling change for the final over, all just become muffled in the background of the romance story. The movie is clean and does not enter into any controversy. The most interesting part is the first half which covers Dhoni’s life and struggles in Ranchi and Kharagpur.
High Points: The sequences of Ranchi, Dhoni’s life as a ticket collector at Kharagpur, The highlights of Dhoni’s character after losing the selection opportunity to the U 19 team. Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance steals the show.
Low Points: The length of the movie is a big negative. It is too long to be appealing, the romance portions although good it takes away the focus from the game.
Overall M S Dhoni is a well-made movie that falls short of becoming an inspirational biopic. The movie is powered by the performance of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Worth a Watch
Pelé: Birth of a Legend Review – Pelé: Birth of a Legend is an American biopic released in 2016. The movie is based on the life of the legendary Brazilian footballer Pelé. It deals with the time frame where he rose from an ordinary boy to a national treasure.
I was a bit skeptical before watching this movie due to the average reviews it has been receiving. But realized, I was wrong should never go with the critics. The movie is high on emotions and goosebumpy moments which keeps you engaged in the movie. The best part of the movie is that it doesn’t cover much of what the world knows about Pelé but goes into the part where you see an innocent boy, a janitor’s son go on a journey to become a legend. In many scenes, they don’t show the goal but people’s expressions and emotions.
The emotions are not cloying ones but kept well placed in the script to lift up the human spirits. The movie focuses more on the conflict of Brazilian game style being forcefully removed and how Pelé struggles to get it back.
High Points: The sequence where the kids get the cloth ball rolling without a bounce, The same repeated when the entire team is demotivated where they take it to the light house. The background score of A R Rahman adds a special dimension to the whole film. There are lot more goosebumpy moments you would love. The history of Ginga.
Low Points: If you don’t like an emotional script then you might be disappointed with this, which might be the reason for the average reviews.
Overall Pelé: Birth of a Legend is a true tribute to the legend himself. A country that is obsessed with football as a religion, one man had believed in their core values to lift their spirits high and win for them. If you love football you should definitely watch this one, even if not there is plenty for you to cherish.
Joy Review – Joy is an American biographical comedy-drama released in 2015. The movie follows a common woman who struggles to manage her dysfunctional family of four generations, is on a path to become a greatest business tycoon.
Before I write any of my review comments let me tell you that I love David O Russell movies. Hence, I couldn’t resist watching Joy. The movie banks on the performance of Jennifer Lawrence throughout and she has done a phenomenal job in portraying the role of Joy on screen. I love the drama value in the movies of David O Russell. I loved the drama in the story of Joy as well. I loved the transformation of Joy’s character through the movie and her Character Arc is brilliantly sketched in the movie.
The director has certain shots subtle and in the background avoiding the usual cliches in a deliberate attempt to make something magical. I liked this treatment very much. I believe this is what has disappointed the larger set of critics who might have walked in with the expectation of watch yet another Silver Lining Playbook. The distinct characterization of each member of the family has been portrayed very well. Also, the dream sequence construction which is a mixture of the Soap Opera her Mom watches and book she reads for her daughter.
High Points: Performance of Jennifer Lawrence, The sequence of her business counterpart during the climax is phenomenal. The dream sequence for Joy.
Low Points: The plot is a simple one compared to his previous outings with Silver Lining Playbook and American Hustle.
Overall this may not be the best movie of David O Russell but it still has the ability to engage you throughout. If you are a fan of Jennifer Lawrence you cannot afford to miss this one.
Worth a Watch
Manjhi – The Mountain Man Review – Manjhi – The Mountain Man is a Hindi biopic released in 2015. The movie is based on the life of Dasarath Manjhi the man who carved a path through a mountain using only a hammer and chisel.
Director Ketan Mehta has taken an inspiring story of a man who did something, which anyone would have written off, as impossible. The movie is a blend of commercial cinema and art house cinema. Most of the scenes are very realistic in nature.
Although a very inspirational story it has challenges when it is told as a full-length feature film. The makers have tried their best to use nonlinear narration to keep it interesting. I would say it has worked in parts. Can’t complain too much as the story only had so much to offer. A reduction of 20 minutes of the movie could have made it very impactful.
NFDC has jointly produced this movie with Viacom 18. It is good to see NFDC active in mainstream movies as well. Hope this trend continues. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s performance is a stand out in the movie. He has helped recreating the type of person Manjhi might have been on the silver screen. Radhika Apte is another major strength for this movie. She had portrayed the character so well and is very convincing that someone has gone so far for the love of her.
The movie also has some strong political statements. I was not able to verify the authenticity of the subtle references. Nevertheless it was some of the best portions in the movie.
High Points: Inspiring Biopic, No unwanted commercial frills, Nawazuddin and Radhika’s performance, realistic visuals
Low Points: Not much in the story for a full-length feature
Overall Manjhi – The Mountain Man is an inspiring biopic that you would not want to miss. If you were interested in Biopics and realistic movies you would enjoy this.
The Imitation Game Review – The Imitation Game is an English historical thriller movie released in 2014. The movie is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The movie covers the life of Alan Turing during the world war II and how he cracked the code of Enigma.
The movie has turned the biography into a very compelling visual format on the screen. The choice of Benedict Cumberbatch to play the role of Alan Turing fits very well with the movie and the character. The story follows a non-linear narration which keeps the interest going on. The characterization of Alan Turing as an out of the normal person whom his colleagues find to be very difficult work with has been done very well. Through the movie you would find yourself connecting to the growing obsession of Alan Turing to develop the machine to crack the code. The movie also touches upon the controversial side of Turing’s personal life. Other characters in the movie has played their part well to make the story flow. The character of Keira Knightley has been used well in the screenplay to get the best out of Alan’s character. If not for this the movie could have been on a very monotonous tone.
High Points: The characterization of Alan Turing, the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch, very gripping screenplay, some of the dramatic scenes where in Alan writes to Churchill to get approval to override his Boss’s orders are very neatly done, The depiction of tension during world war II has been captured well
Low Points: The length of the movie could have been a bit shorter as in the middle portions there is a slight drag
Overall if you are interested in historical biopics you would love this one. You should watch this one for the brilliant performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Ip Man Review – Ip Man is a semi biographical Hong Kong film released in 2008. The film is loosely based on the life of Yip Man a grand master of the martial art Wing Chun. Yip Man also had been the mentor of the Kung Fu Legend Bruce Lee.
The film covers the events of Yip Man’s life between 1930 and 1940. This was the period of the Sino Japanese war and China was undergoing a major struggle. Donnie Yen has performed brilliantly as Ip Man. His stunt moves are great watch. Overall the stunt choreography of the film is done very well. If you are a fan of martial arts movies you would love this. The story has given more importance to martial arts and how it was perceived by many after the era of Shaolin temples. The art was fading away and people knowing only the art were still not seen as responsible compared to a business man. This is seen in many occasions in the film where one of his friend says he had been thinking for what use is the martial arts and also at one point Ip Man himself says he just know martial arts and no work. The film also glorifies Chinese martial arts which teach compassion and not punishing people unduly. The first half of the film deals with the culture of the city of Foshan which is a martial arts hub in Southern China. The second half has a strong contrast where in life becomes difficult after the invasion of the Japanese. The characterization and buildup of Ip Man is done very well and your respect and awe for him grows as the movie progresses. The scene in which he enters the martial arts training ring of Japanese soldiers and tells he would fight ten people is a high point in the movie. Credit goes to Director Wilson Yip for creating a story that is compelling. Lot of creative liberties has been taken to make the movie dramatic and it has worked well.
Overall if you love martial arts movies this one is a must watch for you.
Must Watch – for all martial arts fans