Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on His House (2020)

A review on British Horror feature length film, His House (2020). The film is the directorial debut by Remi Weekes who is most commonly known for working as a Film Editor in the Industry. The film is co-produced by BBC Films and after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, His House was acquired by Netflix for distribution.

+ Crew I

  • Directed by Remi Weekes
  • Cinematography by Jo Willems
  • Screenplay by Remi Weekes
  • Edited by Julia Bloch
  • Music by Roque Banos
  • Produced by Aidan Elliott, Martin Gentles, Arnon Milchan, Ed King and Roy Lee

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • Regency Enterprises
  • BBC Films
  • Vertigo Entertainment
  • Starchild Pictures

+ Note

His House is an independent British film by Remi Weekes and it is a tale of countless horror experiences that refugees have to face in order to enter their “promised land”. Although His House is essentially a horror film, Weekes indulges further into what it’s like adjusting in a foreign country, facing racism on a semi-regular basis while maintaining the phrase “But we’re one of the good ones…”. The allocated house is a complete dump, there are countless holes in the walls but that is only where the nightmares are about to begin. The film emphasizes themes like traumatic pasts which the director cleverly converts into visual memories, curses and undying spirits coming back to haunt you.

+ Main Cast

  1. Wunmi Mosaku as Rial
  2. Sope Dirisu as Bol
  3. Matt Smith as Mark
  4. Javier Botet and Cornell John as The Witches
  5. Emily Taaffe as Dr. Hayes
  6. Malaika Abigaba as Nyagak

+ Plot

A refugee couple from South Sudan escape their terrorized village in order to seek asylum in Great Britain. Upon receiving their newly allocated home, they realize that the nightmares that the couple left behind have only been lurking deep within their own psyche.

+ High Points

i – What’s always great about Independent films and debut directors is that they are fearless with their art. They have a clear vision and they are not afraid to pull any punches toward making you as a viewer squirm in the comfort of your home. His House is masterful storytelling. The delicate blend of horror and drama brings the poignant premise out on the forefront. And Weekes directorial debut shows a lot of promise and conviction in his art.

ii – Since the film is a chamber play for the most part, the two leads (Mosaku and Dirisu) are superb throughout the film. Their chemistry is what makes this film so utterly convincing and heartbreaking. Although I was never a refugee nor did I have to endure the pain that the two characters went through, I do know what it’s like to adjust in a foregin land, trying to please people, make them believe that you are “the good one”. Weekes’ screenwriting hits its mark with such persuasion and tenacity. 

iii – The horror of the film is timed and executed with perfection. His House relies heavily on the “drama” aspect of the premise which was undoubtedly the right decision for this subject matter. Visuals are meaningless if they do not provoke any emotion into you. The film knows that very well which is why it stands tall above any other low budget horror film out there.

iv – The visual effects are (for the most part) surprisingly convincing and do not ever overstay their welcome. Most of the CGI masked characters are in the shadows which is always a clever way to disguise the film’s lack of budget.

v – The dinner table scene is exceptional with its pacing and visuals. This one scene alone can encapsulate the sense of dread and solitude the film entails within its masterful storytelling.

vi – The Soundtrack of the film (by Roque Banos) is beautiful and haunting. With its synthesized and minimal instrumentals, the music will linger within your mind long after you are done watching the movie.

+ Low Points

i – As mentioned, His House has great visual effects for an Independent film but there are some sore spots here and there, mainly the zombie-like figures. They look great in short bursts but if revealed for too long, one can begin to see the cracks.

ii – The third act is slightly lacking in what the first two accomplished. The visual composite of “Fear” at the end was a slightly underwhelming conclusion to a gem of a film.

+ Overall

A haunting, excellent tale on Humanity, His House is the perfect example of why we always need to encourage and promote Independent filmmakers and their abundant creativity that comes with it. This film deserves to be seen by the mainstream audience.

Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on The White Tiger (2021)

A review on American feature length film, The White Tiger (2021). The film is directed by Irani/ American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani. Based on the best selling Indian book The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga, the film stars Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao. The White Tiger is distributed by Netflix.

+ Crew I

  • Directed by Ramin Bahrani
  • Cinematography by Paolo Carnera
  • Screenplay by Ramin Bahrani
  • Edited by Tim Streeto and Ramin Bahrani
  • Music by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans
  • Produced by Mukul Deora, Ramin Bahrani, Priyanka Chopra and Ava DuVernay

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • Lava Media
  • ARRAY
  • Noruz Films
  • Purple Pebble Pictures

+ Note

The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga was published back in 2008, dealing with the intricate sociological infrastructure of the caste system in India and its consequences. Producer Mukul Deora bought the rights to the novel immediately and chose Ramin Bahrani as the director to bring this story to fruition. Bahrani is well renowned in the film industry for being the voice for the “underbelly” of society with such films as Man Push Cart (2005) and Chop Shop (2007). In order to bring authenticity to the story, Bahrani did not want to cast a well known, handsome Bollywood super star in the lead role but instead opted for Adarsh Gourav, who is hardly renowned for any film work within the public sphere. In order to play the lead role, Gourav went deep into Method acting, spent months in India riding local buses, working 12 hours a day, washing plates for a living. 

With the film well underway into Production, Priyanka Chopra also joined as a co-Producer to the team. The film was mostly shot in New Delhi and the production wrapped around the end of December 2019. The White Tiger was released in selected theaters and a worldwide release on Netflix.

+ Main Cast

  1. Adarsh Gourav as Balram Halwai
  2. Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Pinky
  3. Rajkummar Rao as Ashok
  4. Mahesh Manjrekar as The Stork
  5. Vijay Maurya as Mukesh ‘The Mongoose’
  6. Kamlesh Gill as Granny

+ Plot

The White Tiger is a once in a lifetime creature; the beast who seizes his moment by force. Such is Balram Halwai from the Indian Halwai lower caste. Balram wants to leave his life of poverty and serve his master in the city. But upon witnessing the injustice between the elite and the poor, Balram has a change and heart and decides to cultivate his own fate.

+ High Points

i – What I absolutely love about Ramin Bahrani’s films is that no matter which country or background, the films he makes are extremely authentic and true to the land/ culture where the film takes place in. Of all the good India has, The White Tiger is also the unfortunate part of the real India. The caste system is extremely prevalent within the country side and into the Indian culture. And Bahrani highlights this problem with such ease and delicacy. 

ii – Adarsh Gourav playing the role of Balram Halwai is picture perfect casting and undoubtedly, the highlight of the film. As mentioned in the ‘Note’ section, his dive deep into method acting makes Gourav not only physically believable as the ‘common Indian man’ but also with every physical inflection and unspoken facial emotion of the actor. I cannot (for the life of me) ever imagine Aamir Khan or any other Bollywood Superstar playing this role. It would’ve totally tanked the credibility of the story but luckily, Bahrani’s insistence on choosing a relatively unknown actor for the lead role was the defining factor of the film.

iii – The script is adapted incredibly well onscreen by Bahrani (who serves as the sole writer of the screenplay). The film sets up the disparity (financially as well as psychologically) right from the start, allowing anyone unfamiliar with Hindu customs understand what the caste system is and how deeply ingrained it is into the Indian culture.

iv – The character arc of Balram from wide eyed naive boy who dreams of becoming big into a cynical, hopeless realist is written with such care and attention. Although he is never likable throughout his journey, you have to sympathize with his anguish and poisonous hatred for the elite as day by day, he realises how unfair life is and how there is no place for someone as naive as him to exist and not be taken advantage of.

v – The wide angle lens is extensively used throughout the film by the cinematographer Paolo Carnera and serves quite well in depicting the madness and claustrophobia of living in a busy city like New Dehli.

vi – The White Tiger is what Slumdog Millionaire should have been; a hard, unforgiving depiction of the reality of Indian Poverty and the workings of the horrendous caste system. The film is unapologetic (which might turn some viewers away) but it is a story that must be told. There are millions of ‘Balrams’ living in India who have no voice, who are faceless in the world where injustice prevails. The film absolutely does not sugarcoat any of the harsh realities of life in India and that, for me, was highly appreciable. 

+ Low Points

i – While the first and second act of the story are brilliantly realised onscreen, where The White Tiger unfortunately fails for me is the third act. All that great buildup is ultimately paid off in such a whimper of a fashion where the story just ‘ends’ and as a viewer, you are left wanting more and ultimately, left unsatisfied with the conclusion. Perhaps that is what the director intended but it sadly doesn’t make for compelling storytelling.

ii – It must be mentioned that as a fan of Bahrami’s work, I do miss his earlier, neo realist, documentary style of filmmaking (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop) as opposed to later in his career, more cinematic approach (99 Homes, The White Tiger). Perhaps the authenticity of the story of The White Tiger would have been even more prevalent if the film was shot with slightly less polished cinematography and editing, bringing a more documentary, realist look to it.

iii – After watching the film, The White Tiger does leave you dower and ‘indifferent’. And that is unfortunate because Gurav is such a sympathetic and likable character but the twist and turns of the last act leaves nothing worth rooting for.

+ Overall

The White Tiger is an emotional, moving story of millions of Indians who are forced and brainwashed to live in the brutal, centuries old caste system. Even though the third act fails to deliver, The White Tiger is still an essential journey that everyone should go through.

Rate: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A review on American legal drama feature length film, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020). The film is directed by Aaron Sorkin who is most famously known for writing screenplays such as A Few Good Men, Enemy Of The State and The Social Network. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is Sorkin’s second directorial film and is a Netflix Original. 

+ Crew

  • Directed by Aaron Sorkin
  • Cinematography by Phedon Papamichael
  • Written by Aaron Sorkin
  • Music by Daniel Pemberton
  • Edited by Alan Baumgarten
  • Produced by Stuart M. Besser, Matt Jackson,  Marc Platt and Tyler Thompson

+ Crew II (Production Houses)

  • Paramount Pictures
  • DreamWorks Pictures
  • Cross Creek Pictures
  • Marc Platt Productions
  • ShivHans Pictures

+ Note

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is an Anti-Vietnam war film and was always a pet project of Sorkin. He conceived the screenplay as early as 2007 with Steven Spielberg attached to direct the film with mostly unknown actors at the time. Due to budget cuts and 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, Aaron Sorkin was chosen to direct the film instead. Sorkin’s previous film was Molly’s Game (2017) which was a critical and a commercial hit. Due to the Pandemic, Paramount Pictures sold the rights to Netflix and the film was on its streaming service from Oct 16th, 2020 onwards.

+ Main Cast

  1. Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden
  2. Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman
  3. Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis
  4. Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin
  5. John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger
  6. Noah Robbins as Lee Weiner
  7. Daniel Flaherty as John Froines
  8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz
  9. Mark Rylance as William Kunstler
  10. Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman

+ Plot

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the true story of a legal drama where a band of individual Anti-Vietnam war protest organizers were arrested by the Chicago police and put on trial for the charge of inciting violence during the Democratic national convention.

+ High Points

i – As far as legal dramas go, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is one of the most engaging to come out in the past five years. Although it’s quite obviously a crowd pleaser (including manipulation of events for a more dramatic effect), the film still remains very true to its narrative. The injustice and the divide between the two sides was never more apparent than it was during the Vietnam War (up until now that is…).

ii – And of course, no legal drama is complete without its all-round great performances from its lead actors including Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman and Mark Rylance as William Kunstler. The film consists of a great ensemble cast and a fiery, suspenseful story which leaves not even a moment of unnecessary scene or dialogue. And just like Robert Altman’s films, almost every character is memorable in its own way.

iii – During the research for this review, I came across footage of some of the real life counterparts (such as Abbie Hoffman and Judge Hoffman) of the characters portrayed in the film and it’s simply uncanny! The mannerisms and movements are very accurately depicted by the actors which proves how dedicated they were to their roles in the film.

iv – The editing is cranked up to 11 by Alan Baumgarten who successfully brings the charged, electric atmosphere of the late 60s onto the screen. The splicing of black and white newsreel footage with the protest scenes really bring an authentic look to the injustices of the post Kennedy era.

v – While Spielberg was not agreeable to move ahead with the project, Sorkin is certainly a no pushover. His set pieces and heightened drama captivates the audience throughout its runtime. The charged protest scenes integrate almost seamlessly to the more quiet, character building moments of the film. Although it is only Sorkin’s second directorial film, he certainly has a knack for great storytelling. 

vi – The Trial of the Chicago 7 was in post production during the time George Floyd protests broke out all over the country. This makes one realise how the world sadly has not changed for the better. Racism, injustice and the Military–industrial complex is still a major issue even now. The film is relevant then, now and unfortunately will be for years to come.

+ Low Points

i – While the film is great in so many ways, it does seem a bit too simplistic in its point of view of the “other”. Due to its ultra polished storytelling, it also unfortunately leaves no room for complex characterizations. 

ii – There were a couple of times throughout the film where one could witness how that scene was “re-imagined” just to dramatize the scene further and… you wouldn’t be wrong. The Trial of the Chicago 7 unfortunately does fall for certain clichés of storytelling that restricts any further development in individual ideas and thoughts once you have finished watching the film.

iii – There is a scene later in the film where Eddie Redmayne’s character makes a valiant speech about how counterculture will be more remembered to be as “a bunch of stoned, lost, disrespectful, foulmouthed, lawless losers and so we’ll lose elections.” Obviously Tom Hayden never made such a speech and it seems very apparent that it was added by Sorkin just to tie in the perception of the Left today. Even though it’s a great line, it could’ve been integrated into the script far better and poignantly. The film is sometimes incredibly straightforward in what it wants its audience to think. And that’s not the best form of storytelling.

iv –  A film like The Trial of the Chicago 7 with its highly volatile subject matter, needed much less polish and finesse to it. The highly controlled environment (although impressive) do not go well with its theme. And you see hints of it during the splicing of the real life newsreel footage in between the protest scenes. The film needed much more of that in its dialogue and performances. 

+ Overall

The Trial of the Chicago 7 might be a simplistic, crowd pleaser of a film but it’s definitely worthy of being one of the best legal dramas to come out in the past few years. It’s a story that needs to be told and viewed by anyone who wants to understand ‘What is it that divides Humanity from progress?’.

Rate: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Mank (2020)

A review on American feature length film, Mank (2020). The film is directed by David Fincher (The Game, Fight Club, Zodiac) and is produced by Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski. Mank is a Netflix Original Film. 

+ Crew

  • Directed by David Fincher 
  • Cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt
  • Written by Jack Fincher
  • Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  • Edited by Kirk Baxter
  • Produced by Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski

+ Note

Mank’s screenplay was conceived as early as 1997 by David Fincher’s father Jack Fincher and originally, Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster were considered for the lead roles. The project never came to fruition due to insistence by Fincher to shoot it in Black and White. At first, Jack Fincher’s script closely followed the claim made by Pauline Kael’s article ‘Raising Kane’ which argued that the script for the legendary film Citizen Kane was solely written by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles had no involvement in it whatsoever. Following rewrites, David changed the “Anti-Welles” stance to a more neutral perspective over this argument. The film closely follows Mankiewicz’s journey in the Golden Age of Hollywood and his initial first draft of arguably the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane.

+ Main Cast

  1. Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz
  2. Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies
  3. Lily Collins as Rita Alexander, 
  4. Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer
  5. Tom Pelphrey as Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  6. Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst
  7. Sam Troughton as John Houseman
  8. Ferdinand Kingsley as Irving Thalberg
  9. Tuppence Middleton as Sara Mankiewicz, Herman’s wife
  10. Tom Burke as Orson Welles

+ Plot

The film follows the life of a famous Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. “Mank” Mankiewicz who is most famously known for co-writing the screenplay for the legendary film, Citizen Kane. While being a creative genius, Mank is an alcoholic and his witty yet pessimistic view of the world runs deep into the absurd Hollywood lifestyle of the Golden Age of Cinema.

For a decent amount of cash, Orson Welles hires Mank to write a screenplay for his debut film in Hollywood, serving as a ghostwriter to the script. But upon working on the script in just a few weeks time, Mank instantly grows attached to his work and perhaps the cynicism of his finally breaks down as he starts considering Citizen Kane as his most personal work ever.

+ High Points

i – Since its a David Fincher film, one can expect precision in its craftsmanship and Mank does not disappoint in the slightest. Sharp, witty banter between the legendary idols of Hollywood really brings authenticity yet charm to the center stage. The composition, set designs, aluminous lighting, montages (especially the election night scene); everything comes together to convince the audience that they are in fact, watching a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

ii – Mank was originally filmed in 8k but brought significantly down to film resolution of the 1940s. With cigarette burns, dust particles added to create the illusion of a dusty old film reel, Mank is visually impressive and remarkably visualized.

iii – As a film buff myself, it’s so much fun to see Hollywood greats like Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg and of course, Orson Welles himself depicted onscreen and played wonderfully by all the actors embracing their counterparts.

iv – As far as performances go, Gary Oldman once again steals the show with his impeccable performance as the tired, old alcoholic genius of a writer Mank. This film would’ve never worked if not for its enigmatic lead and Oldman is more than up for the task.

v – The slow, anonymous music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross really brings out the deceptive atmosphere of the Studio mandated Hollywood at the time. The full orchestral soundtrack has a touch of ‘Hitchcock’ to it. It’s memorable, brilliant and in the same vain as many works of John Williams, Bernard Herrmann and Alexandre Desplat.

+ Low Points

i – The biggest issue with Mank is the inaccessibility of anyone who is not knees deep into the Citizen Kane lore. As a viewer, you really need to have certain knowledge of William Randolph Hearst and the making of Citizen Kane in order to follow the film. Audience members who are not well rehearsed into any of this will most probably find the film dull and I really can’t blame them.

ii – Mank is very similar to Fincher’s previous film; The Social Network, for better and for worse. While its characters are all mostly interesting, each scene is cluttered with snappy dialogue and the result is mostly a dwindling sense of interest throughout the film. Not each scene is terribly interesting which endangers the viewer’s investment he/she has for the film. 

iii – For all that’s good about the film, Mank does lack the thread that binds the whole film together. There is no sense investment as a viewer that you want Mank to succeed writing that avant garde script that defies all expectations of Hollywood screenwriting. Scenes blend into one another, not creating any sense of progression as a narrative. By jumping between different timelines (the mid 30s and 1940), the film does try to justify Mank’s path to self-destruction but unfortunately, it’s not engaging enough to captivate your attention. 

iv –  The fictitious election night scene and fraud newsreel footage in the film really serve no purpose to the overall narrative of the film. MGM manipulated the media to spread false information? Sure, it fits the political climate of today but a baffling scene to insert into the film since this whole ordeal never happened in real life!

+ Overall

Mank is an Ode to old Hollywood and all its glorious past. In terms of its skills and craftsmanship, Fincher does everything right. But while you can admire and respect Fincher’s craftsmanship, the film lacks a sense of engagement to the overall narrative and is ultimately not an exciting experience that you would like to rewatch time and time again.

Rate: 3.25 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on Tribhanga: Tedhi Medhi Crazy (2021)

A review on Indian family drama feature length film, Tribhanga: Tedhi Medhi Crazy (2021). The film is directed by Renuka Shahane and is co-produced by the real life husband of the lead actress, Ajay Devgn. The film is an Ajay Devgn FFilms, Banijay Asia and Alchemy Films Production and is a Netflix Original Film. 

+ Crew

  • Directed by Renuka Shahane
  • Cinematography by Baba Azmi
  • Written by Renuka Shahane
  • Music by Sanjoy Chowdhury
  • Edited by Jabeen Merchant
  • Produced by Ajay Devgn, Parag Desai, Deepak Dhar, Rishi Negi, Siddharth P Malhotra and Sapna Malhotra

+ Note

Tribhanga is a standing dance pose in Odissi where the body bends in one direction at the knees while the other at its hips and the upper body leaning the other way with the shoulders and neck. Its characteristics are supposed to represent the three leading women of the film, played by Azmi, Kajol and Palkar. The film is also a debut for Kajol in her very first Netflix film. 

Tribhanga was originally supposed to be a low budget Marathi film but later turned into a Hindi Netflix original when big name stars like Kajol came onboard.

+ Main Cast

  1. Kajol as Anuradha “Anu” Apte
  2. Tanvi Azmi as Nayantara “Nayan” Apte
  3. Shweta Mehendale as young Nayantara
  4. Mithila Palkar as Masha
  5. Kunaal Roy Kapur as Milan
  6. Vaibhav Tatwawaadi as Robindoro
  7. Kanwaljit Singh as Raina
  8. Manav Gohil as Raghav

+ Plot

Anu, a famous, well renowned performer, receives news that her Mother is in a coma and is in critical condition at the hospital. This makes Anu revisit and finally come to terms with her disturbing past so that she could eventually provide a prosperous future for her daughter Masha in the process.

Tribhanga is a family drama and its plot revolves around its three female protagonists; Nayanthara, Anu and Masha. Each one is different from the other but one thing that always binds them together is the hardships that they go through Life; being a female in a male dominated society of India.

+ High Points

i – Netflix Originals usually are always technically sound films and Tribhanga is no exception. The cinematography captures the vibrancy and atmosphere of the city of Mumbai quite well. Each frame is carefully crafted to excellence. 

ii – The music by Sanjoy Chowdhury is noteworthy and plays a vital role in creating the sense of dread and solitude that our female protagonists feel as they have to face different hardships and obstacles in Life.

iii – Tanvi Azmi’s performance is exceptional throughout the film. The consistency of her greatness whenever she was onscreen really elevated the even tiresome, badly written scenes and dialogues of the movie.

+ Low Points

i – The script is a total disaster. I cannot imagine how this film even made it to the library of Netflix originals. The plot is arbitrary, the emotions are completely misplaced in almost every scene, the dialogue is cringeworthy and completely absurd to the most dramatic moments of the film. It is truly amazing to me how Shahane got his very own script so wrong! For most of the film, Azmi’s coma is laughed off as a hilarious inconvenience. As a viewer, I was completely baffled how the story almost failed in every single set piece of the film. 

ii – There is waaay too much happening in its 90 min runtime! Although the film’s main core is the severed relationship that Anu has with her mother, new unnecessary plotlines are introduced mid to late into the film’s end. And thus, the story feels bloated with its message and lacks focus on what it really wants to be; a tragedy or a comedy? Also the laughable dialogue does not help either.

iii – Speaking of laughable dialogue, Kajol is supposed to be playing a strong female lead. So how could you depict that in a film? Easy! Give her a vocabulary which could make a Scottish sailor blush! There is absolutely a place for violence, nudity and vulgar language in the medium of film but it does indeed need to fit in with the overall tone of the movie. Kajol’s obsessive cursing felt extremely forced and the absolute wrong idea of how a “strong female protagonist” should be depicted on screen.

iv –  SPOLIER ALERT! (skip to the next point if you would like to watch the film):

Sigh… as mentioned above, the film tries its very best to make you feel emotional and connected with its characters by introducing unnecessary plot twists throughout its runtime and in turn, over compensating its lack of coherent storytelling. Sexual Abuse and forced Abortions are used as plot points just to add even more emotional weight to the plot and in the process, everything just comes off as trivial at the end. These topics deserved much more exploration and depth and sadly, should never be used as tear jerking techniques to exploit your audience’s emotions. Each one of these issues are either quickly resolved or just mentioned in the climax scene of the film which leaves the audience no time to react to it.

Also, the resolution to the estranged Mother/ daughter relationship is swiftly resolved near the end after a few measly dialogues which were already mentioned a couple of times throughout the film. Why? Cause the film needed to end I suppose.

v – Almost all characters are deplorable or uninteresting (namely the doppy documentary maker in the film) . But Kajol’s hokey performance really takes the cake! Her exaggerated performance does not at all fit with the overall tone of the film. There was no scene which made me sympathize with her plight. An actress like Nandita Das would’ve knocked this role out of the park but unfortunately, Kajol is a total, unfortunate miscast.

vi – The costume design and makeup is completely at odds with the dire situation presented in the film. Every day, Anu does a whole new fancy wardrobe change and makeup just so she could visit her mother who is suffering from a coma (and potentially, life threatening) at the hospital. I mean, good grief…

vii – Now here is a problem which many feminist films suffer from; over compensation. Almost all male characters in the film are either idiots or a**holes just to present an opportunity for the female protagonists to fight through. Most of the issues that women face in our society are seeped extremely deep into our culture and psyche. Women are not necessarily tough by depicting their world solely in black and white. Societies are much more complicated than that and should not be insulted by depicting antagonists purely as two dimensional obstacles to overcome. 

+ Overall

Tribhanga is a bloated mess of a film. Kajol’s exaggerated performance and a directionless, half baked script really destroyed any chances of this being a good film. The premise is great and had so much potential of being even a brilliant, low key family drama but unfortunately, almost nothing lands in this film. What a total debacle.

Rate: 1.25 out of 5 stars

Feature Length Films

Mr. Khan’s Review on AK vs AK (2020)

A review on Indian/ Hindi language black comedy thriller film, AK vs AK (2020). It is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and the Production House is Andolan Films. The film is distributed by Netflix.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane
  • Cinematography by Swapnil Sonawane
  • Written by Anurag Kashyap (dialogues)
  • Screenplay by Avinash Sampath and Vikramaditya Motwane
  • Produced by Deepa De Motwane

+ Note

Ak vs Ak is a dark, comedic look into the culture and impact that Bollywood has on everyday life of India. AK vs AK is unique for its “film within a film” style of storytelling and everyone is playing as “themselves” makes everything seem authentic. The idea was initially pitched in 2013 with Shahid Kapoor playing the title role alongside Anurag and Vikramaditya Motwane attached to the project as its director. But delays and rewrites pushed the project further back to 2019. Finally, Motwane decided to cast Anil Kapoor for the role instead as he has been a bigger “commercial” star of Bollywood and fits the narrative of India’s obsession with its stars much better.

+ Main Cast

  1. Anil Kapoor as himself
  2. Anurag Kashyap as himself
  3. Yogita Bihani as herself
  4. Sonam Kapoor Ahuja as herself
  5. Harshvardhan Kapoor as himself
  6. Sucharita Tyagi as herself
  7. Boney Kapoor as himself
  8. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as himself (voice, cameo)

+ Plot

While attending the MAMI event, Bollywood icon Anil Kapoor and renegade director Anurag Kashyap get into a major public feud with one another as to who the bigger “star” of Bollywood is. This leads to Kashyap writing and directing his best film yet; kidnapping Anil Kapoor’s real life daughter (Sonam Kapoor) and forcing him to search for her within 10 hours time (till sunrise) while being filmed throughout this ordeal. No breaks, no cuts, no reshoots. Everything goes!

+ High Points

i – Its safe to say that the filmmakers had a lot of fun making the film and it shows! Every scene/ performance was taken up to 11. Nothing was off limits. All real life actors made fun of themselves and their dwindling careers. Is Anil Kapoor just a relic of the past? Is Kashyap just a talentless hack who only knows how to write obscene dialogue? 

ii – Unsurprisingly, the snappy dialogue of the film is written by none other than Kashyap himself and its always fun to witness how he blends spoken dialogue with a sprinkle of ‘Bollywood masala’ mixed into it.

iii – The film (very successfully) takes shots at Bollywood and how deeply rooted it is to the lives of every person growing up in the slums of India. The Bollywood stars are not mere actors but dancing gods who cannot be separated from their onscreen personas.

iv – The dark humor is hilarious. There were numerous times I chuckled at the absurdity of the scene or just burst out laughing. The collaboration of Kashyap and Motwane always bring out the best in both of them.

v – The performances are great all across the board. Surprisingly, even as a non-professional actor, Kashyap kept up with Anil Kapoor pretty well throughout the film!

vi – The ‘Lakhan’ scene. ‘Nuff said!

vii – The city of Mumbai is as vibrant as ever and is undoubtedly a character on its own.

+ Low Points

i – Although the film was engaging for the most part, the last act of the movie felt a bit like a deadend with its creativity and the filmmakers really had to take a very “uninspiring” way to end the story. Predictable and lackluster end to what was a very fun ride.

ii – Such an ‘off the wall’ script could’ve been accompanied by experimental editing but unfortunately, that was not the case. The footage was sped up numerous times throughout the film (to save time I suppose) but it just felt tacky and amateurish. 

iii – As you would expect from a Kashyap/ Motwane project, the film throws every idea they can concoct onto the wall to see what sticks. Some do, some don’t, namely the presentation of the film. Video game sprites and text don’t match up well to the dark, humorous tone that they were going for. It belongs more to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) rather than the gritty streets of Mumbai.

iv – The music is (for the most part) pretty forgettable. I thought Kashyap/ Motwane projects always had an excellent soundtrack to them (Dev.D (2009), Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016), Sacred Games (2018-19)). What happened?

+ Overall

AK vs AK is definitely a fun ride but the somewhat predictable/ disappointing ending will leave you a bit deflated at the end. But the duo of Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap play off each other hilariously and for that alone, its definitely worth a watch!

Rate: 3.75 out of 5 stars