Shubhra Gupta is film critic and senior columnist with the Indian Express. She watches world cinema for delectation, Hollywood for fun, and Bollywood for work. She has a huge capacity to sit through terrible Bollywood movies, but no patience at all with bad Hollywood. And world cinema has to be really cutting edge to grab her attention, and keep it. When she began reviewing, over 20 years ago, people would commiserate and say, “oh, you poor thing, you have to watch Hindi cinema”. But soon, Bollywood became cool, cool, cool. So now she hears this more often “oh my god, you watch Bollyood films, can you introduce me to Shah Rukh Khan”? No, she can’t, sorry, though she can vouch for the fact that he is really sharp and good fun in conversation. But what she can do, and has done week after week, month after month, year after year, without a break, is to lead you into the magical world of movies, and share her experiences of watching all those hundreds of films over the years. In her reviews and columns, she lets you into what she likes, and doesn’t, and invites you to be bewitched. And to know how to choose between the good ones and the turkeys, and how you can take away something from even the really ghastly ones. Because life is a movie, isn’t it? Bahut picture baaki hain, mere dost.
Haseena Parkar movie review: Shraddha Kapoor manages the young wife-and-mother part well enough, but her transition to the other side is never fully realized: she appears to be speaking her lines to order and the cheek-pads to add flesh to her jowls, and the deliberately heavier voice, is all put on.
Bhoomi movie review: Sanjay Dutt's face is kept in close-up for much of the film, and there is still power in it. This is an actor who can explode off the screen, given the right story. Maybe he needs something better told to vent his anger.
Newton movie review: It’s rare that an Indian film uses dark comedy to make its points so effectively. ‘Newton’ could also, just as easily, have been called A Day In The Life Of The World’s Largest, Most Complex Democracy. Or, The Great Indian Electoral Circus. Rajkummar Rao is enjoying a purple patch.
Lucknow Central movie review: It is the supporting cast which is spot on, especially Rajesh Sharma and Deepak Dobriyal. But more than anything else, it is the mawkish sentimentality which overcomes the story-telling.
Simran movie review: Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut drives from the front seat, keeping her feet firmly on the accelerator, and everyone else in the cast follows.
Sameer movie review: Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, whom we’ve seen earlier this year in Tubelight, makes a meal of his young college student forced into a difficult situation not of his making.
Poster Boys movie review: Whenever the plot feels like it, it picks up on Sunny Deol’s punchy dialogues from his past films. This really tired device only serves to remind us of a time when Sunny made watchable films.
Daddy movie review: The Arjun Rampal starrer has a thickly-populated circuitous plot, which goes back and forth in time, which comes in the way of a solid crime thriller cum study of the making of a gangster.
Peter Dietze (pictured), long-time resident of Melbourne and full-fledged Australian of German descent, remembers feeling “centred” rather than “thrown”, when he found out that he was the grandson of Himanshu Rai, pioneer of Indian cinema, and founder of the iconic Bombay Talkies.
Reconnecting with Australian cinema and watching the buzz that is Bollywood at the Melbourne Film Festivals
Baadshaho movie review: The women in the film are decorative. Ileana D’Cruz is togged out in regal chiffons, one of which remain spotless through the long proceedings. Esha Gupta’s role (she hangs out with the three 'khazana chors') seems to have been created simply to include a second pretty face.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan movie review: This comedy of middle-class-Dilli-manners-and-mores suffers from a sit-com flatness. And when everything is meant to make us laugh, you can quite easily deflect attention from the main premise. The Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar film resists the temptation to tart up the ordinary, which is the best part: no one’s calling attention quirky, everyone is real.
Big Bollywood is petrified of angularities: what if the mass gets turned off? The broadest of brushstrokes are still the default mode. But do look at how badly a Tubelight (Salman Khan) or a Jab Harry Met Sejal (Shah Rukh Khan) has fared: both helmed by the most powerful Bollywood A-list club.
Qaidi Band movie review: More realism would have made this a film we could have believed in. But we do take away the young faces with us, especially Anya Singh whose bright-eyed earnestness is wholly convincing. She is a real find.
A Gentleman movie review: Sidharth Malhotra who helms this enterprise plays a good guy who can also be bad. Now while the handsome Sidharth is perfectly pitched as the 'sundar’ and 'susheel’ fella of the title, he isn’t quite as convincing in his ‘risky’ avatar.
Babumoshai Bandookbaaz movie review: Nawaz is fully immersed in his role; as is Goswami. The banter between Babu and Banke makes you smile. And then you are back to the film playing out the beats of the genre. It’s all there, but we’ve seen it all, or variations of it, before.
Sniff movie review: What an absolutely lovely premise for a film crafted for children, which adults can potentially also enjoy. But Amole Gupte, who gave us the delightful Stanley Ka Dabba, falters with this one, because of a slack plot and treatment.
Bareilly Ki Barfi movie review: Rajkummar Rao blows away the weaknesses of this film with his consummate act, playing the timid 'chota shehari' on the one hand, and the loud 'rangbaaz' on the other. He sweetens the pot, and makes up for the rest of it.
VIP 2 Lalkar movie review: The film could have been the better watch, however, Dhanush flubs it, essentially because of a treatment that is all cliché. Given that there is a female director at the helm, it has surprisingly regressive lines, poking fun at wives and other women.
Toilet Ek Prem Katha movie review: It’s fitting that Akshay Kumar has greenlit and played the lead in this film, which is more a primer of How To Break Social Taboos and Make Toilets rather than a powerful social drama.
Gurgaon movie review: Pankaj Tripathi starrer is a solid, atmospheric debut. It tells us that power can never be permanent, and how the good may not always win. Uncomfortable, but true. Ragini Khanna and Akshay Oberoi play pivotal role in this thriller.
Jab Harry Met Sejal movie review: ‘Sweet si, ‘sister-type’ Sejal aka Anushka Sharma and the ‘chalu, chalta-hua, cheap’ Harry aka Shah Rukh Khan are much too fraternal with each other. We do see that fire, but much too briefly.
Mubarakan movie review: Post-interval, the film’s funny bone gets lost. It becomes a long, maudlin harangue on family values and good sisters and brothers, while slipping in a few distasteful jokes about wives and women.
Indu Sarkar movie review: Indu Sarkar is set during the Emergency, and shows us the horrific violation of freedom put into motion by then prime minister Indira Gandhi, aided and abetted by her younger son Sanjay.
Raag Desh movie review: Tigmanshu Dhulia's directed film, Raag Desh has lofty ambition, but the stagey treatment lets it down. The definitive INA film is still to be made. The war scenes are plentiful but you can't help seeing the clunkiness. The film stars Mohit Marwah, Amit Sadh, Kunal Kapoor.
Lipstick Under My Burkha movie review: The deep red lipstick becomes the colour and mode of rebellion, giving us a hint of what goes on inside a woman—the turmoil, the pain, the swallowed humiliation, the unshed tears, the unspoken resentment and anger.
Shab movie review: Given Onir’s experience in creating interesting characters grappling with the kind of personal demons not usually seen in Bollywood, especially in his last outing I Am, Shab should have been a far more accomplished film. All these are characters, fleshed properly, could have given us a film.
Jagga Jasoos movie review: In the near-three hours of the run time of the film there’s everything else, with Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif chasing bent spies, arms dealers, and sundry other smaller fry, while, of course, saving the world but it forgets to give us a story.
Guest Iin London movie review: Do you think crude jokes should be strewn liberally in your weekly flick fix? Should a gag, abysmally executed in the first place, be stretched out like a rubber band to keep you rolling in the aisles?Then Guest Iin London is just the ticket for you.
MOM movie review: There are other good actors in the film, apart from Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Abhimanyu Singh. Sajal Ali, who plays the young victim, is particularly effective. Adnan Siddiqui, as Sridevi’s husband, is very dishy, but suffers from the same problem the rest of the cast : not enough heft.
Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha movie review: The film makes you recall, almost fondly, the schlocky, kitschy film-making of the 80s and 90s which was nevertheless full of colour and music. Director Suneel Darshan, who clearly hasn’t kept up with the times, comes up with a hopelessly outdated series of reel.
Tubelight movie review: Salman Khan, Kabir Khan film gets its message right -- love conquers all -- but it is the messenger who fails. The effort of playing a slow-witted man shows on Salman in every frame. It is the supporting cast including Matin Rey Tangu, Om Puri who are the film's strength.
G Kutta Se movie review: The film holds up a mirror, and the sights are not pretty. You don’t need a Khap panchayat if you have a matriarch keeping a beady eye on the comings-and-goings of the bright-eyed college-going young woman.
Bank Chor movie review: This Riteish Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi film is shockingly lame and juvenile whose title seems to have been chosen because it rhymes with a cuss word. Funny much? Not really.
Behen Hogi Teri movie review: The only element worth looking at in this film, apart from the dependable Kamat, is the rock-solid Rajkummar Rao. If he was given a better co-star than the strictly one-note Shruti Haasan, this might have turned out to be a better film.
Raabta movie review: Sushant Singh Rajput has moments and he makes the most of it, but suavity is not one of his strengths. Kriti Sanon is a surprise, having made clear strides since we saw her last. And one of our best actors, Rajkummar Rao, is hidden under layers of latex.