Movie Review – Uri: The Surgical Strike


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Uri: The Surgical Strike is an action-packed thriller based on the 2016 attack on an Indian military camp in Uri, Kashmir by Pakistani militants and the subsequent surgical strikes by Indian armed forces on suspected military camps in PoK. The debut film of Aditya Dhar who has also scripted the film stands out for the stellar acting by its cast and also the special effects. Unheard of actor Vicky Kaushal shines as Major Vihaan Singh Shergill. So well has he portrayed the role that he could easily pass of as a real-life army major. Major Vihaan Singh Shergill, the lead character in the film, does not let some serious personal problems come in the way of carrying out his responsibilities. An Alzheimer-stricken widowed mother and later the death of his brother-in-law and fellow army man Major Karan Kashyap in the Uri attack does not come in the way of his “josh” or zest. A take away from this film is the phrase “How’s the josh?” which is often being used these days to boost a dipping morale or fire up individuals. The two actresses in the film Yami Gautam and Kirti Kulhari look good in their roles. One cannot imagine a glam girl like Yami in the role of a RAW agent. Kirti Kulhari looks smart as an IAF officer who in the film has lost her husband in an attack and wants to seize any opportunity to serve her country. She realises her dream when she gets to serve as a helicopter pilot in the surgical strike. There are hints of romance in the film here and there. But whatever romance the director tries to infuse in a scene at the culmination of the film between the RAW agent and Major Shergill looks too pedestrian. The scene might as well have not been there.

The movie not only showcases the might of our armed forces and their never-say-die attitude but most importantly displays their ability to rise up from the ashes. I would give it four stars out of five. It is definitely a must-watch!


Movie Review: Borg Vs McEnroe

borg mcenroe

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I have never seen Bjorn Borg in action (on television). When television sets came to our homes way back in the early 1980s, the legendary Swedish tennis star had called it quits. The iconic Borg-McEnroe rivalry was too short-lived. And I didn’t get to see much of McEnroe either. I must have got to see just a couple of matches between him and Jimmy Connors. As a kid, I enjoyed McEnroe throw tantrums at the linesmen and umpires and hear the subsequent boos from the crowd especially at Wimbledon. The “Superbrat” was an entertainer both with his racquet and also his mouth.

Coming back to his rivalry with Borg, we all knew that Borg was the ice-cool Swede and McEnroe, the badly behaved guy.

In spite of the recently released Borg-McEnroe movie not having garnered good reviews, I wanted to watch the flick in the hope of catching some of the original match footage and of course McEnroe’s tantrums.

Although, I did get to see wee bits of the match footage and the famous McEnroe temper, what struck me most was the way Borg was portrayed. While on the court, the great Swede (portrayed by Sverrir Gudnason) was cool and composed, off the court and inside the four walls of his home he seemed to be anything but cool. The Swedish superstar was a bundle of nerves and in fact a mental wreck. His coach Lennart Bergelin had the most unenviable job of not only handling his ward’s game but also his extremely low morale. On the other hand, although McEnroe (portrayed by Shia LaBeouf)  was spitting tantrums on the court, off court he came across as one cool dude. Off course, unlike Borg, he didn’t have anything to lose. Borg had a huge reputation at stake and four straight Wimbledon titles under his belt. He so badly wanted a fifth one but McEnroe couldn’t wait to foil his bid. The thought of losing the Wimbledon final to McEnroe gave Borg sleepless nights and made him sweat in fear. Was Borg really that kind of a mental wreck or the movie exaggerated it all? Was the low morale the reason of his exit from tennis at the early age of 26? In the movie, Borg’s ice-cool image definitely takes a beating and it is McEnroe who comes out tops in spite of the famous five set loss to Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final.

While I wouldn’t say the movie is a must watch it definitely makes you soak in the golden era of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, two of the game’s greatest players. And there are quite a few entertaining moments. I loved the one when during a Wimbledon semifinal game with Jimmy Connors, McEnroe lets go a barrage of tirades at the linesmen and a visibly disturbed Connors walks to the net and asks McEnroe to shut up (Ha ha ha). Connors is believed to have once told him, “My son behaves better than you”!


Movie Review: Murder On The Orient Express

oreint express

Picture sourced from the movie site.

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express” lives up to the reputation of her famous work. Like the book, elements of crime, drama and suspense will have you glued to your seat. The story is set in the Calais-bound Orient Express.  The train is unusually crowded for a winter day. It is snowing everywhere. Among the passengers is detective extraordinaire  Hercule Poirot who was lucky to make it into the train as all the seats were occupied. If he made it into the train it was because of his acquaintance with Bouc, the train’s director who also happens to be travelling in it. Things take a turn when Samuel Rathchett, a passenger in the train is found murdered. Bouc entrusts the case to Poirot. As the movie progresses each and every passenger turns out to be a suspect. The end of the story is as incredible as the plot. You will never be able to guess who the murderer is.  Only Poirot’s genius helps solve the mystery.

As I had read the book many years back and had forgotten the story, watching the movie turned out to be an all-the-more exhilarating experience.

Kenneth Branagh shines as Hercule Poirot. I wonder how he managed the combat scenes. Michelle Pfeiffer has perfectly portrayed Caroline Hubbard. Despite his brief experience as Samuel Ratchett, Johnny Depp makes a lasting impression as the character he has portrayed.

The interiors of the Orient Express accentuated by the muted lights complete the great movie experience. The settings are perfect for a murder mystery. Watch this flick on a lazy holiday afternoon or late evening and don’t forget to take in a tub of popcorn.


Review: M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story


Poster and still courtesy:


Among the many movies that I have watched, this must be the one with the longest title. And with 3 hours running time, one of the lengthiest ones too.

The biopic on the charismatic Indian cricketer brings out hitherto unknown aspects of his life. Not many know that his is more or less a rags-to-riches story. It is for this reason, the movie is sure to inspire many youngsters who hail from modest backgrounds to pursue a game which many think is a rich man’s preserve.

The movie also drives in a strong message to Indian parents to allow their children to pursue their passions. Undoubtedly, there is more to life than just academics. It is criminal to waste one’s talents.

Dhoni’s climb up the ladder has been anything but rosy. This is best portrayed in his stint as a ticket collector in the railways. The international cricketer in the making went through quite a few phases of uncertainty bad enough to break a man. Resilience, will power and a good circle of friends came to his rescue.

Sections on the cricketer’s relationships complete with the signature Bollywood flavour add to the romantic element in the movie. The actresses portraying Pallavi Jha, his first girlfriend, and Sakshi, his wife, are stunners.

The editing of the movie has been done very skilfully. Match footage moves fast which is not a bad idea considering that the focus is on the cricketer’s meteoric rise from his lower middle-class moorings to the star he is today

The choice of cast is very apt. Sushant Singh Rajput as Dhoni has perfected the art of playing a cricketer, this being the second time, the last one being in “Kai Po Che!” The same applies to the make-up artistes. It is not easy to make a 30-year-old actor look like a 15-year-old high schooler (in the portions related to the cricketer’s school days).

A movie worth watching for both the young and the old.

Movie Review: Bajrangi Bhaijaan

A little Pakistani girl with an angelic face gets separated from her mother while on a pilgrimage to India. She is spotted, fed and fostered by the hero, a small-time pahelwan (wrestler) and die-hard Hanuman aka Bajrangbali bhakth (devotee of Bajrangbali). Because of his devotion to Bajrangbali, he is fondly called as Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Getting family details from the little girl is tough as she is speech-impaired. How would Bajrangi Bhaijaan know that she is from Pakistan? And how would he unite her with her parents with little or no information? Bajrangi Bhaijaan and his fiancée Rasika have a tough job on hand.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a must watch. It is entertaining, colourful and an armchair journey through beautiful Kashmiri locales. The emerald green mountains are a visual treat and make you want to go there. The buses in the region are quirky and are ornate with colourful pop-art. Kareena’s endless array of oxidised earrings enliven her Manish-Malhotra-designed salwar suits. I am expecting a ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ collection of earrings and salwar suits to adorn market shelves soon.

And there is more! A disheveled dude provides some comic moments on the Indo-Pak border as Bajrangi Bhaijaan attempts to cross the barbed wire fences without a passport and visa! Then there is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has essayed the role of a clever Pakistani journalist Chand Nawab with gusto. Even if he has done only a cameo role, Om Puri is simply outstanding as a Maulvi. You’ll just love the scene where he is riding the scooter with his two ‘begums’  🙂   Jai Bajrangbali!


Last Saturday started on a memorable note. I happened to watch ‘Kabuliwala’, a yesteryears’ Hindi classic based on the story of the same name by Rabindranath Tagore. The film was screened at the National Gallery of Modern Art auditorium as part of the outreach programmes for ‘The Last Harvest’, an exhibition of paintings by Rabindranath Tagore. I was so touched by the story it drove me to tears.



The story starts in Kabul, Afghanistan. Abdur Rehman Khan (enacted by Balraj Sahni), a Pathan trader, falls into bad times. His little daughter Amina had recently fallen ill resulting in Khan, a widower, spending a huge amount of money on her treatment. He had borrowed heavily and owing to a drop in business was unable to return the money back. He decides to go to India to sell his merchandise and return to his homeland after clearing his debts. Bidding farewell to his aged mother and little daughter is painful.

While the little one is asleep he manages to get her palm impressions on a piece of paper that he would carry to India. He leaves early in the morning before she wakes up.

Khan arrives at Calcutta along with a group of fellow Afghan traders. He peddles his ware (dry fruits and shawls) across the streets of Calcutta. The Afghan traders are called ‘Kabuliwalas’ in the Bengal capital. For some reason, Kabuliwalas are a feared lot in the city especially among children and mothers of young children. Stories of Kabuliwalas kidnapping young children in their huge bags abound in the city. If a child refuses to eat, his mother scares him into eating by telling him that the Kabuliwala will put him in his sack if does not obey.

Abdur Rehman Khan is big and burly like many Kabuliwalas. The sight of him sends children scurrying to their homes. Once when he approaches a group of children they all take to their heels except one little girl. She is Mini, daughter of a writer (enacted by Sajjan), very much the same age as his daughter Amina. He goes down on his knees and puts his arms over her shoulders. She smiles and runs saying, “Kabuliwala”. She tells her mother (enacted by Usha Kiran) about a big Kabuliwala with a big bag whom she has just seen outside their home. Her mother warns her that the next time he would put her in his bag and take her away.

Unlike his wife, Mini’s father has no issues with Kabuliwalas. The next time Khan comes near their home, Mini shouts out “Kabuliwala” and hides. Khan enters their compound but does not see Mini. Hearing his voice, Mini’s dad comes to check what he wants. Khan tells him that his little girl has just called out to him. Mini’s dad finds Mini and gets her near the Kabuliwala. Khan offers her some dry fruits but refuses to take money. Mini’s dad coerces him to take it. After this meeting Mini does not fear Khan and Kabuliwalas. She chats with the Kabuliwala every day much to the consternation of her mother. Her father is unperturbed and he even invites the Kabuliwala inside his home and asks him about Afghanistan.

When stories of kidnappings surface, Mini’s mom gets her silver anklets so that she can trace her whereabouts through the jingles. But Mini knows how to dodge her mother. One day Mini invites Kabuliwala home for her birthday which is the next day even as her mother watches the two conversing from afar. She chides her husband. As the house will be thronged by visitors and children, Mini’s father calls out to Abdur Rehman Khan and asks him to keep away from the house for a few days. Khan agrees only to surface in the house on Mini’s birthday. He tries to keep a gift for Mini in the house without attracting anyone’s attention. Mini’s father notices him and gets annoyed. Khan slips the gift in Mini’s father’s hand and scoots. Mini’s father does not tell this to Mini.

After the birthday celebrations get over Mini waits for the Kabuliwala to offer him sweets that she had specially kept aside for him. It is a rainy day. She gets impatient and leaves the house to find him and hand over the sweets. In the process she is away for a long time. Her parents realise her absence and her father and servant leave home to find her. In the meanwhile Abdur Rehman Khan comes to know of Mini’s absence and he also sets out to find her. It is he who finds her after passersby notice a child sleeping near a pavilion. He takes her in his arm, she offers him the sweets. It is then that the servant notices them. Misled by him that Kabuliwala is a kidnapper, people around start thrashing Khan. Mini’s father arrives in the nick of time and learns from Mini about what had happened. Mini’s father saves the Kabuliwala from further attack.

When Mini falls very sick, the Kabuliwala refuses to move away from the gate till she recuperates. All the time he offers prayers to the almighty. Mini’s father is touched by his gesture.

One day after he has finished with a day’s work Khan returns to his dwelling to find his fellow countrymen sing about his homeland. Abdul Rehman Khan becomes emotional and pines for his daughter. He has already cleared all his debts. He decides to collect his dues from all those who had borrowed from him and then return to Afghanistan.

What could have been his last few days in Calcutta become a nightmare. A man who had bought a shawl from him on credit refuses to acknowledge the same. He instead swears at Khan and manhandles him. Enraged, Khan stabs him to death. The police take him away. On the way to the police station, Mini and her father notice Khan being taken away. Khan falls on his knees and speaks to Mini and weeps not telling her where he is being taken away.

The best efforts of his Afghan fellow traders and an expert lawyer fail to get Khan relief from imprisonment. The judge as a gesture of Khan’s honesty in accepting to having committed the murder waives the death sentence and instead grants him 10 years rigorous imprisonment.

After 10 years Khan is released. He just can’t wait to talk to Mini. On the way he buys bangles for her and goes to her house. Mini’s marriage preparations are underway. Her dad notices Khan and is happily surprised. Khan asks for Mini to which her dad says that he cannot meet her. Khan then gives him the bangles and asks him to give them to her. Touched by Khan’s show of affection, Mini’s father calls out for Mini. Mini arrives in her wedding finery. Not realising that his Mini is now a grown-up girl all set to be married Khan looks around for the little girl whom he last saw 10 years back. Her father asks Khan to have a look at the girl who is now standing in front of him. It is then that Khan realises that Mini is no longer the little kid he once knew. She cannot even recognize him. An inconsolable Khan then remembers his daughter Amina and wonders if she would recognize him.

Filled with emotion Mini’s father asks Khan to return back to Afghanistan  and re-unite with his daughter. On realising that Khan has no money to afford the return back home, Mini’s father decides to hand over the money he had saved for the marriage music band and lighting to Khan. Though Khan refuses, Mini’s father asks him to take it as a gift from one father to another. Mini gives one of her bangles as a gift for Amina. Khan finally accepts the money and the bangle and bids a tearful goodbye to Mini and her father.

Balraj Sahni’s portrayal of the Kabuliwala is simply superb. His Kabuli diction and emotions at the end of the film are priceless. Sonu is adorable as Mini. Sajjan plays the perfect dad.


The soulful songs touch a chord with one and all. Click on and listen to these tracks:

This song sung by Hemant Kumar has very meaninful lyrics. At the end of the song Abdur Rehman Khan asks the singer what the song means. The man says that though night and day are so different as dusk falls we hardly see any difference between them similarly whatever the difference between human beings be it caste, creed or colour the feeling of love exists in all of them and cannot be distinguished.

The song sung by Manna Dey which makes Khan pine for his daughter and return to his homeland.

The movie is on YouTube. Do watch it!