Tumbbad: First Look|Director Rahi Anil Barve|Sohum Shah|Aanand L. Rai|12 Oct

Defiant. Spooky. Raw.

 

A funeral pyre throwing up flames against the backdrop of a dark, ominous sky and the voice of a young boy greet us. “Sarkar mar gaya,” he says. And then we see a small family of three, huddled together, making a dash for an unknown land, possibly an even stranger fate awaiting them. What we see next is a huge fortress-like ancient palace whose gates haven’t been touched in years and are now pried open, murky crannies and  forgotten tunnels, hushed talks about a treasure being buried and the the raspy, unsettling voice of a spirit who is likely guarding the same.

The family believes they have rightfully inherited the treasure, know of the “sarkar” having failed to locate it and soon realize they might have to undergo a little more than some inconvenient hustling and grimy digging to place their hands on it. After all, the spirit makes it clear they are being greedy, and lets them have a hint of what they might have to contend against if they did not withdraw, “Viraasat mein mili hui har cheez par dawa  nahin karna chahiye.”

The man (Sohum Shah) at the forefront of this treasure hunt is unabashed about his mission and lets her know, that if he did not claim it, somebody else would come along to do the same. “Laalchi hai tu,” says the spirit in a screechy, chilling voice. “Yehi toh ek gun hai mujhmein,” pat comes the reply, and from that point on, we are promised a saga of defiance, avarice and a hair-raising maelstrom that will not disappoint.

Set in Pune in the 1920s, Tumbbad is a period horror/mystery film that combines folklore, fantasy, the supernatural and religion and is based around the generational secrets of a brahmin family. There is greed, there is lust, and the baleful consequences of digging in places that are not one’s business. What remains to be seen, however, is whether this is a tale pitting men against men, or against a stubborn, punishing God that has no intention of granting what these men so deserve and deeply desire.

But should they desire this treasure at all, even if they have inherited it?

Rich, atmospheric and eerie in every frame, Tumbbad may be the answer to Bollywood’s quest for a genre-defying horror movie which has largely seen duds in this space over the last few years. Starring Sohum Shah in a lead role, the film has been backed by Shah, Aanand Rai, Mukesh and Amita Shah and will be releasing in Indian theaters on October 12.

The film which opened opened to rave reviews at the acclaimed Venice International Film Festival Critic’s week in July is releasing in four languages – Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu.

I am spooked already, and enough to watch it First Day, First Show.

Are you?

 

Baazaar: First Look|Director Gauravv K. Chawla|Saif Ali Khan|Rohan Mehra|Radhika Apte|Chitrangada Singh|26 Oct

Bada Aadmi Banna Ke Liye Kya-Kya Kar Sakte Ho?

After the unprecedented success of Netflix-backed Sacred Games, Saif Ali Khan seems to be a roll as he preps up for yet another gripping project titled Baazaar. This time though, he is playing an unabashed baddie Shakun Kothari, business tycoon and a stock market genius who doesn’t believe in sweating it out in the marathon and would rather win the 100 meter sprints each time till he gets where he wants to.

Anybody who’s had the chance of enjoying Khan’s acting in both the Race installments, and has had the misfortune of putting up with Salman Khan’s comic appearance instead in Race 3 would know the makers could not have chosen a better actor to play this role. For Shakun has style, an edgy, sexy hint of arrogance, and a devil-may-care attitude that isn’t very different from what Khan is in real life. But what’s a powerful man without a hungry, ambitious struggler looking for a mentor, wanting to becoming like the mentor?

Enter Rizwan Ahmed (newbie Rohan Mehra), introduced as “Allahabad University ka launda” in his own words, who is eager to work with Shakun Kothari and make it big. Plain and simple. We already see Rizwan has what it takes to rub shoulders with the big guys one fine day, as we see him gulping down coffee that has been spat in – so he could “sell the coffee”. And ta-da, he gets the job!

Rizwan literally worships Kothari as his God, the latter likes him back just as much and likely entrusts with responsibilities not many newbies could ever dream of taking on. But at one point it seems, Shakun gives Rizwan shoes too big for him to wear and warns him, “Mera paisa kabhi khona nai’.

And that quite pointedly lets us have a peek into what happens next!

We have Radhika Apte playing Rizwan’s colleague who quite visibly spices things up, by inviting him to “cross a line” if he wishes to become like her. There is a hint of manipulation and plenty of behind-the-scenes psychological work going on, as Shakun’s down-to-earth wife (Chitrangada Singh) tells him never to break Rizwan’s trust. Rizwan looks trapped, and before long he realizes there is a price one has to pay for everything they want in life.

Sneak peek: Apte looks glamorous and drop-dead gorgeous in the pool shot.

Honestly, Baazaar, sporting a tagline which says, “Bada Aadmi Banna Hai, Toh Line Cross Karni Hogi” does not seem all that novel against the backdrop of similar such projects helmed in Bollywood. For instance, the trailer distinctly reminded me of Kunal Khemu starrer Blood Money (2012) which was touted as a thriller, but failed to wield that spine-chilling effect it so promised. When I see Saif Ali Khan walk, talk and breathe money, I am also reminded of Leonardo Di Caprio’s ambitious, slimy, greedy act in The Wolf of Wall Street.

And while it would be outright blasphemy to compare the two, when given the choice to watch one of Bollywood’s finest baddies in top form (so I can cleanse myself of the trauma Race 3 inflicted earlier this year), I wouldn’t miss it.

Special mention: Honey Singh’s rendition of the peppy, sassy Make Money, Money, Money, Money from the movie after AGES of being off the radar. Don’t know how the movie will fare, but I’m already addicted to the song!

 

 

 

Kaashi: First Look|Director Dhiraj Kumar|Sharman Joshi|Aishwarya Devan|26 Oct

Not all things that look the way they are, are the way they look. Kasshi – what have you under your belly?

It’s raining thrillers in Bollywood’s landscape, as filmmakers consciously move away from saccharine, migraine-inducing love stories and focus on the multitude of human relationships that doesn’t follow the age-old boy-meets-girl-and-then-love-happens trope.

After Raazi, which released earlier this year and opened to mostly terrific responses, we now have director Dhiraj Kumar getting ready to wow us all with his eponymous thriller Kaashi in October this year. The movie stars Sharman Joshi (after a really long hiatus) and debutante Aishwarya Devan who’s already been making waves in Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada films.

The premise of the movie is simple at first glance: a distressed Kaasi (played by Joshi) is seen at the police station, reporting his missing sister Ganga, a college-going girl, who seemed to have disappeared into thin air on a seemingly regular day. Except, that one day turns Kaasi’s life around as he goes about trying to find the missing pieces of the puzzle and is confronted by a volley of lies and just as many truths, and knows no way he can distinguish one from the other. Devan plays a journalist who helps him make sense of the muck Kaasi has exposed himself to, in this lone mission.

The fight gets harder, and more intense, as people around him refuse to even acknowledge Ganga’s existence, with some even making insinuations about her character. Kaasi is distressed, and justifiably outraged as well, but, however unpleasant it might be to come to terms with reality, is there a grain of truth in what they are saying? Is Ganga what she seems, or are there unpalatable secrets hidden from the noise of the ordinary world, that she will take to her grave?

Hopefully, she will be found before she’s found in the grave.

I am thrilled about the movie since it stars Joshi in the lead, who, frankly, hasn’t acted in a film half as sensible or compelling as his last massive hit (3 Idiots) which happened way back in 2009. Heck, I was a student in the university then and I’m a 30 plus woman now gearing towards motherhood soon – The. Gap. Is. That. Wide.

Apart from Sharman, the film stars Govind Namdev (who plays a seedy, ruthless politician yet again) apparently shielding his rogue son (yet again). There’s violence, grit, wickedness, manipulation, blatant red tapism, sex (the title had you fooled thinking it’s all sanskaari right?) and a climax that I strongly feel might be an anticlimax. Oh, and there is even the mandatory smear-sindoor-all-over-your-face-and-challenge-the-Gods scenario conveniently picturized as a song.

I can’t wait to see Joshi back in form and do a symbolic taandav and turn the whole of Kashi upside down, in search of Ganga. I can’t wait to see what other layers make up the city of Kashi, beyond what meets our eyes.

Watch the trailer of Kaashi here:

 

Badhaai Ho: First Look|Director Amit Sharma|19th Oct

When mum and dad become mummy and daddy at an age you’re supposed to be becoming those.

 

Starring: Ayushmann Khurana, Sanya Malhotra, Gajraj  Rao, Neena Gupta, Surekha Sikri, Sheeba Chaddha

This upcoming Indian dramedy (drama plus comedy, get it?) under the banner of Junglee Pictures (in association with Chrome Pictures) is what I call, “Kayion ne socha hoga, inhone kar diya.”

I mean, if you’re living on planet earth, and have ever been curious about when your parents may have “done the deed” so you took birth on the day, and in the month you eventually did (I definitely have), I am certain at least some of you might also have wondered out loud how it would be if your parents were to “pop out” a “chhota mehmaan” at a time you should be revving up your sex life up and ushering in some “good news”.

Sounds weird? Yeah, but you’re only saying that because you’ve probably played around these imaginative plot twists in your head, all by yourself, or while chortling over nasty, inappropriate jokes shared with your best friend when no one was looking (or listening).

Director Amit Ravindernath Sharma has however, decided, to make your wildest musings come true on the big screen and take you along a trail of what can happen when the roles are reversed and its the kids’ turn now to be weirded out by their parents’ antics in the most epic way possible: in short, how to children react to parents doing acts which are the equivalent of “issne toh naak kata di hamari”?

Written by Akshat Ghildial, Shantanu Srivastava and Jyoti Kapoor, Badhaai Ho has Gajraj Rao (of TVF fame) and Neena Gupta (who was last seen in Mulk) at the helm of the quirk factory it’s designed to be.

As is obvious from the brief glimpses in the trailer, Rao and Gupta are both phenomenal and blow your socks off, quite literally. Neena Gupta, who takes turns feeling coy, embarrassed, tired (she’s preggo, remember?) suitably complements Rao’s naïve, innocent yet discomfited act, akin to that of a mortified fifth-grader whose friends now know he still wets his bed during sleep.

Attempting to downsize their “out-of-control” craziness is the shocked, awkward, and understandably judgmental stance taken by the couple’s elder son, Nakul (Ayushmann Khurana) whose opinion on the matter can be summed up as, “Yaar tu hi bata na, yeh sab koi Mummy-Papa ki karne ki cheez hai?” blurted out during some hot making out with his girlfriend (Dangal star Sanya Malhotra). My guess is the sex never happens (wink wink).

The movie also boasts of a great supporting cast – Surekha Sikri (of Balika Vadhu fame, just as strict, but definitely a lot more disgusted) and Sheeba Chaddha (playing Nakul’s girlfriend’s mom) who are impeccable even in the little bit we see of them in the trailer, and are effectively the tadka in this khichdi. Like most other Ayushmann starrers, this movie too seems like it has a social message wrapped up in a cheery, entertaining package, and while the plot looks straightforward and predictable, I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a blockbuster, more dope than any of the smashing hits we’ve seen so far this year.

Borrowing a line from a character in the movie, I’d say – this family is a circus you should buy tickets to, this October.