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KESARI (SAFFRON), (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Bollywood strokes its historical conflicts with iconic reverence, immense spectacle, lionization of its heroes, spectacular cinematography plus gifts adulation and exaggerated license, especially in India’s march towards doffing the shackles of British domination (“Gandhi”, “Mangal Pandey”,”Padmaavat”); “Kesari” vibrantly speaks to the “Battle of Saragarhi” between Sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army and Afghan Pashtun tribesmen; the film concentrates on ... Read More »

BADLA (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

If you have seen “The Invisible Guest” 2016’s Spanish version of the same theme you will not be shocked by “Badla’s thrilling conclusion; except for switching the gender of the protagonists, this is a consummate clone,  every bit as titillating; starring, in his finest role in years Amitabh Bachchan as “Badla Gupta” a lawyer hired to defend “Naina Sethi” (remarkable ... Read More »

GULLY (STREET) BOY (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Incredible story, splayed across the screen, the entire spectrum of India’s predilections, intransigent traditions, contemporary culture; miraculously, even if you have never graced this remarkable, multi-faceted country, “Gully Boy” brilliantly, presciently, metaphorically, gifts viewers a redolent insight into the real India; director Zoya Akhtar stunningly, visually portrays in 2 1/2 hours what authors Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Vikram ... Read More »

URI: THE SURGICAL STRIKE & MANIKARNIKA: QUEEN OF JHANSI (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Bollywood reveres and perpetually energizes its myths, gods, heroes and heroines, ancient and contemporary; their films pulsate, stun and elucidate audiences, Eastern and Western. The Ramayan and Mahabharata through centuries of repetition, still hypnotically enchant viewers; the movie versions keep the stories, myths, warring factions vibrantly alive. An epic film featuring  “Asoka, The Great”, ruler of India’s subcontinent (268-232 BCE) ... Read More »

SIMMBA (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Rape. On December 12th, 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang raped by six men and later died of her injuries. In the same year approximately 25,000 rapes occurred, most offenders, known by their victims; there is a lethal disparity between those charged and convicted.  “Simmba”, directed by Rohit Shetty is a valiant slap at the nefarious perpetrators, prosecutors, and ... Read More »

K.G.F: CHAPTER 1 (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Choosing between two Bollywood blockbusters: “Zero”, Shah Rukh Khan playing a mini-version of himself or “K.G.F: Chapter 1”, my vote for the latter resulted in over 2 1/2 hours of bombastic, cacophonous, tumultuous entertainment. Writer/director Prashanth Neel’s tale of oppression commences in the early 1980’s; cutting to the chase with a limited script, “Rocky” champions the oppressed, inciting their rebellion ... Read More »

THUGS OF HINDOSTAN

Bollywood Goliath, Aamir Khan, stars in this 3-hour, monolithic saga, revolving around English/Indian travails in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries; costing 200 crores (topping 2 billion dollars) the film is a total dud, and the worst movie Khan has ever made; his character “Firangi” weakly reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s in “Pirates of the Caribbean” is a conniving, duplicitous buffoon; ... Read More »

PENEFLIX IS ON A TWO WEEK SABBATICAL

For over eleven years and 1000 plus reviews, my sporadic filmic intermissions rejuvenate, not only my spirit, but how I view films; the escapism of movies, relief from reality, a hiatus from daily duties, is healthy, but has to be balanced with the flavor of things as they actually exist; blinders off, focusing on globalization and its effects on the ... Read More »

GOLD (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Bollywood gifts celestial status to India’s sport triumphs: “Chak De India”, women’s hockey; “Lagaan”, cricket, “Iqbal”, cricket; “Bhagg Milkha Bhagg”, running; director Reema Kagti’s “Gold” effortlessly, smoothly claims its fate with the icons; more than an historical regaling of India’s Olympic exultations in field hockey, under British rule, the film invigoratingly, pungently follows its birth on the world’s stage as ... Read More »

FANNEY KHAN (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Bollywood’s version of Lee Daniels’, 2009 “Precious”; a galvanizing lesson to never judge “a book by its cover”; director Atul Manjrekar’s “Fanney Khan” incorporates much of the traditional Bollywood aesthetic: torrents of tears, scintillating songs, dramatic dance sequences, but it is the performance of Pihu Sand, “Lata Sharma” (similar to Gabourey Sidibe, in “Precious”) that stupendously soars with irresistible, incredible,  ... Read More »

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