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April 19, 2014 Saturday     
Director Imtiaz Ali wrote a story/screenplay for Abhay Deol’s AHISTA AHISTA (2006), made out of one of his early T.V. serial episodes directed around a decade before. And now after proving himself as a successful director behind three consecutive big hits, he has again converted one of his early T.V. serial episodes into a full length feature film using the same title HIGHWAY with an experimental cast. But honestly, I was not excited enough to know this discouraging fact about its original source since that particular episode was just ok with nothing worth mentioning as per its content and execution. Plus few negative reviews of the film after its special preview in Berlin strengthened my doubts further and I was little disappointed before going for it this Friday expecting just another routine film.
However after watching it I am surprised that how a passionate lover of cinema can slam such a sincere effort by the team breaking all the questionable set norms of our industry. Moreover, how they can discourage the viewers from watching such exceptional films which force you to stop for a while and think about your aimless, superficial lives falsely lived from the so called society’s perspective and not from your own. Probably such reviewers are actually the trade analysts, more concerned about the business of the film than its content, which obviously seems to be the case here. And yes they might be right looking at the project from this commercial angle as it perhaps may not be as successful (or widely seen) as Imtiaz’s last few films opening with a bumper initial. Nevertheless that doesn’t take away any merit from this well-made, thoughtful film and it still remains a must watch, especially for all the young girls who many a times are forced to remain silent hiding many dark, ugly secrets of their own families.
Talking about the attendance in the theater, its sad that today’s viewer chooses the films as per the stars featuring in them whereas in the past, along with the cast, it was the name of the director which actually used to be the key attraction for the audience without any doubt. In other words, it was quite disheartening to see that there was only 10-15% of occupancy in the second show of a film, which was directed by the man behind blockbusters such as ROCKSTAR, LOVE AAJ AUR KAL & JAB WE MET. Surely, the unattractive pairing was the sole reason behind the result and this would not have been the case if it was a big star featuring in the film along with Alia.
But actually that serves as the first big merit of the film which remains an evident example of a ‘Perfect Casting’. In other words here is a director, with whom all the big names of the industry are dying to work with and he chooses Randeep Hooda & Alia Bhatt as his main lead and all fresh names in the supporting cast, purely because of the essential requirements of their respective roles ignoring everything else. And arguably any big star in place of Randeep, with a huge baggage of his superficial aura & chocolate looks would have unintentionally ruined it completely.
Coming to the film, it begins like any other romantic comedy with an odd small framing used for its initial scenes (both at the beginning & post the interval). The kidnapping sequence comes much quicker than one expects and the two are onto their extensive journey within the first 10 minutes of the film only without wasting much time. So the viewer very well knows, what’s going to happen next, which can easily be stated as the major drawback of HIGHWAY in terms of script or concept. Running on a completely predictable pattern, it has no surprising twists to offer right till the final moments. And yet the director holds your attention well with some exceptionally meaningful writing (dialogues), never before kind of gorgeous, breath-taking locations and some highly emotional moments related with Randeep and Alia’s painful childhood.
Post interval the film begins with its most famous track ‘Pataka Guddi’ and Imtiaz very well knows when a song needs to be placed to make a perfect impact on his viewers as desired. The impressive narration continues with few more emotionally moving yet engaging sequences talking about the lead pair but the film never slows down following the usual pattern of a love story. However its only in the moments when HIGHWAY turns into a picturesque travelogue featuring many great natural shots and an inter-state darshan that the viewer starts feeling disconnected for a while before the explosive culmination.
And once it goes into its final 20 minutes, you simply feel zapped on to your seats looking at the shockingly impactful, incredible performance of the talented sensation Alia Bhatt and the girl truly rules over everyone else in the frame quite amazingly. Admittedly the same sub-plot was earlier skillfully used in Mira Nair’s MONSOON WEDDING (2001) too, but Alia certainly portrays it with much more power, emotion and conviction stunning one and all. Now since revealing anything more about the climax will take the magic away so I would just like to describe it as “something which is surely going to give many sleepless nights to all other young actresses in the industry, feeling the future tough competition coming from Alia”.
The girl proves that she has got it all in the genes and the choice of such tough deglamorized role as only her second film is surely an indication of many more extraordinary performances coming soon. Randeep stands tall as a solid silent performer along with Alia and strongly indicates that why he is rated as the obvious choice for such rough roles by the thoughtful directors often. He is surely one of the most under-rated actors we have and he rightly proves the same in many brilliant sequences in the film constantly. The entire supporting cast with all new names is a treat to watch and the fresh faces actually add to the offbeat theme of the film very aptly.
Musically, I personally felt less served than promised (both in sound quality and songs) by the hit team of Rahman-Imtiaz while hearing the soundtrack. But after watching the film it was quite clear that the music was not meant to be a key feature of this particular film. Yet the ultimate sound texture & arrangement remains much less than what is expected from the maestro A. R. Rahman. Among the key tracks, “Pataka Guddi” stands out sung by Nooran Sisters of Punjab and Rahman himself. Showing another bright side of her hidden talent Alia shines in her soulful, innocent rendition of “Sooha Saaha” and few other songs sound good while watching the film without making any kind of major impact Rahman is known for.
Still when you are listening to the tracks while watching the mesmerizing poetic expressions on the screen with a splendid cinematography, it takes you into an enigmatic kind of trance. And the film is truly like a meditative painting on the celluloid or a visual treat to be cherished on the big screen alone.
Getting into the mindset of its director Imtiaz Ali, the talented artist could have made a big budget film post his recent successes with any big star of his choice, without any major hassles. But the fact that he chose to make HIGHWAY (on a story he had already told on the smaller screen around a decade back) shows that he likes to make what he wishes from the inside as a director and not as per the market demand of greedy producers following the infamous 100 crore clubs. And that’s precisely what Indian Cinema desperately needs at this moment in terms of quality movies.
Another fact pointing towards Imtiaz’s strict clear vision is that despite having a composer like A. R. Rahman in his team, he uses fewer songs in the film and keeps minimal background score in most of his important sequences too since that could easily hamper the end result of his scenes without any doubt. Plus interestingly, as there has been a GEET in his every film since JAB WE MET, so one can find traces of her in this latest film too as a trademark feature along with the director wandering in the magnetic landscapes like a SUFI searcher walking with his camera.
Now let me describe why for me HIGHWAY proved to be a brilliant film even when it had a completely predictable and unusual plot which might be unconvincing for many viewers too as far as the logic is concerned.
First of all, when a director decides to go for a new concept, a different storyline moving away from the safe, blind trend of just making a big project with some big stars then it obviously gets some special brownie points for being such daring, path-breaking visionary travelling a lesser known path.
Secondly, this is one of those thought provoking films, which is meant to make you rethink about your own self-made life-cages; you have not been able to break from many years now. A film which gives you a chance to see these cages, accept them and then break them all to be free like never before.
Thirdly, the film has many tiny golden nuggets to be picked up in its insightful dialogues and many finer moments of ecstasy like the way Imtiaz uses the local artists singing a traditional song “Mohey Takhat Chhaddayo Heer” in one of the sequences shot so beautifully. Besides the way its two leading characters express their inner childhood traumas in the final hour deserves to be applauded whole heartedly. Particularly when Randeep talks about the poor husbands who have to send their wives to the rich as their humble offerings and when Alia remembers her mother shamelessly telling her to keep her mouth shut after that inhuman act by an elder. These few scenes deserve to be seen in silence and that is the reason Imtiaz never uses any background music in these sequences quite purposely.
However revealing ‘the three word expression’ which made me appreciate the movie much more in its entirety, I would like to describe the final phase of the film when both Randeep & Alia decide to get away together without making any kind of personal commitments at all.
Now here everyone expects that the couple is going to fall in love next and the same routine drama will be there as usual. But just when the thought is running in your mind, a masterstroke is played by the director and Alia loudly says to Randeep that………,
”Please don’t think I have fallen in love with you, want to live with you or want to marry you like it always happens. No I don’t want any such thing as you might be feeling. But all I want is that this freedom should continue for a little more time and that’s it”
In specific words she says, “Thoda Sa Aur……Bas Kuchh Der Aur!”
And for me that was a great masterstroke, taking the film to another level, ahead than all the clichéd stuff seen before in some similar movies.
To sum it all, for many it might be less than what Imtiaz managed to achieve in his ROCKSTAR. But for few others it would be just equivalent to an enriching journey with many worth relishing moments in its more than two hours of duration. So if you feel the above description inviting enough and wish to see one of the finest performances of the recent times by a young 'one film old' girl named Alia Bhatt then do give it a try and enjoy this HIGHWAY ride as a fresh welcome breeze in our Hindi Cinema.
Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (Including an additional 0.5 just for Alia Bhatt’s fabulous 20 minutes act in the climax.)
Tags : Highway Review By Bobby Sing, Highway Film Review By Bobby Sing, Imtiaz Ali Highway Review, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, 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
21 February 2014 / bobbysing /
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Expressing on a personal note, I can emotionally relate to the big unexpected loss experienced by director Shekhar Suman’s family a few years back and have my due respect for everyone who wished to convey a positive message through this film straight from their hearts. Hence if considered from the social awareness angle, HEARTLESS rightly talks about a case of medical conspiracy pointing towards the compromising state of this divine profession felt by many in the last few decades. But unfortunately all the positivity around its core theme gets lost when Shekhar Suman tries to give the message in a very conflicting, unethical and confused manner which simply falls flat without making much impact on the viewers due to its below average execution. Now revealing the three major drawbacks in this well intentioned attempt:
Firstly since there is no information of the film being an official remake so I am forced to call it a blatant copy of the English Flick AWAKE (2007) featuring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba in the lead. The film is entirely based on this borrowed script focusing on a mysterious medical phenomenon called “Anesthetic Awareness”in which the person lying on the operation table can hear voices and feel the pain too but cannot move his body or wake up, being in a kind of paralyzed form. So putting it bluntly if Shekhar was really willing to make a film with a strong social message talking about medical ethics then at least the remake should have been made following the ethical procedure too buying the official rights.
(However if Shekhar Suman did take the rights and didn’t announce it in the media or mentioned it in the titles (or I somehow missed it) then this first point stands irrelevant.)
Secondly if you are making a medical thriller (as I would like to call it), then it has to be made as a fast moving crime thriller only without wasting much time in the buildup. But since the director also wanted the film to be an emotional love story targeting the youngsters too, so he becomes confused and fills the entire first half with the same routine love scenes, 4 songs and a family drama saying nothing about the real subject of “Anesthetic Awareness” at all. As a result, the film actually begins in the second half only and one can straight away watch it post the interval without losing much of its basic storyline or any major scenes. Moreover, in editing terms the whole 70-75 minutes of its first half with many unwanted sequences and songs could easily be compiled into 20-25 minutes and that too with 1 or 2 forcibly inserted songs shot abroad (Dubai).
Thirdly, since it was a re-launch film for Shekhar’s son Adhyayan, so to keep the complete focus on him alone, a new girl was introduced in the lead along with veterans as Deepti Naval, Om Puri and Shekhar Suman himself. But actually the complex subject demanded more intense portrayal on the screen by the lead pair which becomes another factor responsible for its poor result. Adhyayan tries hard but he still needs to improve a lot in his various skills and Ariana also has to work on her Hindi diction first to get some more projects. Also in the supporting cast, at one end we have an impressive act coming from Deepti Naval playing the mother but on the other Shekhar Suman visibly tries to underplay his role intentionally and Om Puri looks totally unconvincing in his silly ‘Doctor in Love’ act doing the last minute operation.
Therefore despite having a novel, interesting and engaging plot for most of the viewers (who may not have seen the original English Flick AWAKE), HEARTLESS fails miserably since it has been made following a puzzled vision of catering all sorts of target audience together along with launching Adhyayan once again as the solo hero. Adding further, the mediocre outcome was inevitable & it will always turn out to be the same whenever any Hindi film-maker will try to adapt a mere ‘85 minute tight English thriller’ into a 130+ minutes stretched Hindi version unnecessarily without any clear vision.
As per the direction, HEARTLESS does have few moving emotional sequences between the mother and son, but also has many amateurish kind of scenes too in the first half ruining the initial impact completely. Plus later all the hospital or operation theater sequences are shot quite carelessly without following the basic rules & regulations of a big hospital in a hilarious or rather ridiculous mode. Interestingly AWAKE was also criticized a lot on the similar medical grounds but still at least they shot those sequences in a much convincing style without any doubt. The DOP tries his best to make a noticeable impression along with the CGI department (particularly in the title song) and the disturbing operation visuals might be upsetting for many clearly showing the open body parts like never before. The soundtrack is soothing to hear while one is watching the film but nothing stays with you after its over and the background score fails to generate any exciting tension in its final hour.
On the whole, had Shekhar adapted the original thriller as it is without much adulteration, he would have got a different story to tell at the box office or at least a decent film for the viewers in all possibilities. Nevertheless in the present version HEARTLESS is sure going to find it hard both at the box office as well as on the home video front too due to the obvious reasons. And in case you are very much interested in knowing about the subject of “Anesthetic Awareness”, then go for the original AWAKE instead and save some time.
Rating : 1.5 / 5
Tags : Heartless Review By Bobby Sing, Heartless Movie Review By Bobby Sing, Heartless and Awake, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, 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, Inspired Movies, Copied Movies, Films based on same themes.
08 February 2014 / bobbysing /
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The news of Karan Johar teaming up with Anurag Kashyap camp obviously gave everyone a reason to expect something exceptionally good, novel and out of the routine with such a young & energetic cast. But the product this joint venture brings in for us as HASEE TOH PHASEE is sadly far away of being anything original, great or fresh. On the contrary it can easily be called as a pure business venture planned to make some quick bucks cashing the current craze around its two leading stars and nothing else.
As far as the storyline is concerned, it is not exactly based on AAINA (1993) as was being speculated before its release. Yes, the basic premise of two sisters falling for the same guy is somewhat similar but to say the truth AAINA was a much better movie than this by all means. In one line, the film can easily be described as the reverse gender version of MERE BROTHER KI DULHAN (2011), which becomes MERI SISTER KA DULHA in simple words. So the story becomes anybody’s guess and that is the reason it turns out to be boringly predictable right from the word go, offering you nothing fresh in terms of content or script. Putting it straight, the debut director Vinil Mathew plays it pretty safe by not trying anything hugely innovative and delivers a quite routine, all seen before kind of love drama, close to the Valentine’s Day like a perfectly placed marketing product, made for its well-known producers.
Having said that, the only thing which actually makes the film bearable for at least once, is the splendid act of Parineeti Chopra once again in her fourth film, like a back to back century made by a relatively new player in the cricket ground. In fact she needs to be called the actual HERO of the project, leading confidently along with her young co-stars Siddharth & Adah Sharma. As the lover boy Siddarth plays it well like a mature actor and so does Adah Sharma in her fine portrayal of the elder sister. But without any doubt, Parineeti remains the only one always in your mind while watching the film right till the end.
However the other fact remains that the girl is just on the verge of getting typecast in all similar kind of roles and desperately needs to come out of this “Image Trap” in her next film positively by making some conscious efforts. In the supporting cast, Sameer Kakkar, Anil Mange and Neena Kulkarni are fine but Sharat Saxena & Manoj Joshi shine in their respective fatherly acts in the second half.
Talking about its writing part, which is done pretty casually (using everything seen before), I was really surprised watching few weak or rather silly sequences like the ones around a scientific discovery (in China), the whole drama around the necklace theft and then an awfully easy computer hacking in its second half, despite such experienced names in its producer line-up available for their expert guidance. But then, to save it from becoming a complete disaster, HASEE TOH PHASEE does have two worth mentioning scenes too like the father’s emotional outburst towards the end and a particular sequence when Parineeti is locked in the room without any attached washroom. And believe me, the girl truly shows her guts agreeing to such a difficult, bold scene, never enacted by a Hindi Film heroine ever in the past.
Musically it has some good tracks (Punjabi Wedding Song & Zah-e-Naseeb) which sound fine while watching the film in the theater, but once again we don’t have anything as a complete soundtrack to be bought from the market as usual. The cinematography & background score do contribute a lot in giving a catchy, polished look to the film in totality. Yet it’s the same old repetitive content which actually plays the spoilsport here, taking the charm away right from its first typical entry scene to say it all.
Summing up, HASEE TO PHASEE has nothing fresh in the name of subject or story progression, other than Parineeti once againg acting superbly as a strange, paranoid girl making all those weird faces. The film doesn’t have many entertaining sequences due to its clichéd, overused theme, so should only be watched in the theater if you are a big fan of Parineeti and don’t wish to miss her any film irrespective of the content. But for all other friends, wishing to see something exceptional from this well-known producer’s joint venture, you should ideally wait for its DVD release or the channel telecast, sure going to be there in the next few months.
On a lighter note, though it is just another romantic comedy to be forgotten after its first week but may be an objection from any “Women NGO” against its funny title degrading the women’s character and dignity, can do the trick by providing the much needed instant publicity & public attention.
Rating : 2 / 5 (With a special mention of Parineeti and her bold scene.)
Tags : Hasee Toh Phasee Movie Review By Bobby Sing, Hasee To Phasee Film Review By Bobby Sing, HTP Movie Review By Bobby Sing, HTP Movie Review, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, 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, Inspired Movies, Copied Movies, Films based on same themes.
07 February 2014 / bobbysing /
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