Shubhra Gupta

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.

Kaalakaandi movie review: Saif Ali Khan stands out in lacklustre fare
Sat, Jan 13, 2018

Kaalakaandi movie review: Akhsat Verma’s directorial debut is very much of the it-happened-one-night format, where all kinds of people are on the move, and stuff happens. Saif Ali Khan makes the most of his part, even though you wish it had a little more heft.

Mukkabaaz movie review: The Vineet Kumar Singh and Anurag Kashyap film packs plenty of punch
Sat, Jan 13, 2018

Mukkabaaz is a film whose lack of ostensible polish works to enhance its rough-and-tumble flavor: Anurag Kashyap and the film are at its most sure-footed when they are calling out discrimination, across the board.

All the Money in the World movie review: The Ridley Scott movie features solid acts
Fri, Jan 05, 2018

Ridley Scott is a little distant in the way he observes his characters and their dilemmas. The young boy is in mortal danger all through, but your heart is not as much in your mouth as it should be.

Pitch Perfect 3 movie review: Anna Kendrick saves the film from being a total slog
Fri, Jan 05, 2018

Pitch Perfect 3, starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, D J Khaled and John Lithgow among others, is basically a bland, very-occasionally-bubbling-to-the-surface, not-enough-laughs comedy.

What to expect in 2018 from Bollywood: A year for smart scripts — and small films big on ideas
Thu, Jan 04, 2018

The only superstar who remained unscathed, and consolidated his pole position, was Akshay Kumar.

It’s a wrap
Sun, Dec 24, 2017

With some good films and lots of buzz, the International Film Festival and Awards Macao seems to have found its feet after a shaky start.

Shekhar Kapur: I’d rather do something I haven’t done before
Sun, Dec 24, 2017

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who is also an IFFAM (International Film Festival and Awards‧Macao) ambassador, talks about his forthcoming projects, censorship and his will-it-ever-be-made film Paani.

Tiger Zinda Hai movie review: The Katrina and Salman starrer is an enjoyable fare
Sat, Dec 23, 2017

Tiger Zinda Hai movie review: Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif starrer goes several steps ahead in creating a channel between India and Pakistan: if their spies can bond in the face of a common enemy, why not the two estranged nations?

Star Wars The Last Jedi movie review: The Force is with this Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill starrer
Sat, Dec 16, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi proves that comic-book divide between good-and-bad can be complex, that the middle ground can be filled with doubt and pain: Adam Driver makes a great bad guy who can be good.

From Lipstick Under My Burkha to Tumhari Sulu, 2017 saw the emergence of the strong female character
Sun, Dec 10, 2017

Can the heroine in our films ever come out on top? In a year which has seen endless controversies over films headlined by women, here’s some good news: 2017 will be remembered for a handful of women (and some men) who were willing to step out of the lakshman rekha and claim agency for themselves.

Fukrey Returns movie review: This Pulkit Samrat and Varun Sharma starrer is relentlessly juvenile
Sat, Dec 09, 2017

Fukrey Returns movie review: The situations are so tired and contrived there’s nothing that even such capable hands as Richa Chadha and Pankaj Tripathi can do, to retain our interest.

Shashi Kapoor: Handsome star, modern lover, he sought to be different
Tue, Dec 05, 2017

With Shashi Kapoor’s passing, we’ve lost another of our cinema greats. He wore his looks, and his understated acting ability lightly, sometimes so lightly that you often overlooked his skills.

Shashi Kapoor: Second to None
Tue, Dec 05, 2017

The films we remember Shashi Kapoor most for are the ones in which he played, with infinite grace and good humour, second fiddle.

Firangi movie review: This Kapil Sharma and Ishita Dutta starrer is mildly engaging
Sat, Dec 02, 2017

Firangi review: The trouble with this mildly engaging film, with a solid supporting cast, is that it is far too long. Kapil Sharma is serviceable as a young Punjabi munda, making eyes at a blushing Sargi (Ishita Dutta).

Tera Intezaar movie review: Why was this Sunny Leone and Arbaaz Khan starrer made?
Sat, Dec 02, 2017

Arbaaz Khan spends his time trying not to roll his eyes, when he is not daubing bits of paint on an easel. Sunny Leone starts off being his muse, and then starts to play hide-and seek.

Kadvi Hawa movie review: The Sanjai Mishra starrer feels like a stretch even at 100 minutes
Sat, Nov 25, 2017

Kadvi Hawa movie review: The film starring Sanjai Mishra and Ranvir Shorey is about climate change and the plight of farmers who get affected by it.

Julie 2 movie review: This Raai Laxmi and Pankaj Tripathi starrer makes no sense
Sat, Nov 25, 2017

Julie 2 has some good actors showing up to collect pay cheques. For the benefit of the likes of Aditya Srivastava and Pankaj Tripathi, not forgetting Rati Agnihotri, we hope they were hefty.

Where imagination is not free
Tue, Nov 21, 2017

In the ‘Padmavati’ controversy is a larger indictment.

An Insignificant Man movie review: The documentary on Arvind Kejriwal is a fascinating watch
Sat, Nov 18, 2017

An Insignificant Man movie review: From a tax officer to a protestor, to an activist, to a reluctant rookie politician, to winning an election, and to becoming the chief minister of New Delhi, the film is the journey of Arvind Kejriwal, and his AAP.

Tumhari Sulu movie review: The Vidya Balan starrer feels repetitive and stretched
Sat, Nov 18, 2017

Tumhari Sulu movie review: Vidya Balan channels her distinctive voice and full-bellied laughter to invest Sulu with real warmth. Equally wonderful is Manav Kaul as her husband.

Qarib Qarib Singlle movie review: This Irrfan Khan starrer is a well-crafted, winsome rom-com
Sat, Nov 11, 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle’s beating heart is Parvathy (the lead actor of the terrific Malayalam film Take Off). She is such a breath of fresh air, such a break from the dressed up dolls of Bollywood.

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana movie review: The Rajkummar Rao starrer will leave you confused
Sat, Nov 11, 2017

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana movie review: The plot looks straight out of the 80s, with its implausible 'revenge' theme, the characters who look 'seedha' but are totally 'ulta', and a leading lady who is presented as a modern, thinking girl, but is given very little agency or a mind of her own.

Ittefaq movie review: The Sidharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha starrer is a smart, gripping whodunit
Sat, Nov 04, 2017

Ittefaq movie review: The film manages to sustain itself post that dreaded interval, the one thing that can sink mysteries. In fact, there’s more briskness and confidence in the way the all the characters come across, and very little time is wasted as we go along.

Ribbon movie review: The Sumeet Vyas and Kalki Koechlin starrer leaves you wanting more
Sat, Nov 04, 2017

Ribbon movie review: Nice to see man and woman working, and dealing with stuff that happens post-marriage: all the messy, irritating stuff that has not been part of the happily-ever-after Bollywood landscape. Kalki Koechlin leaves a mark as a harried professional.

Rukh movie review: Manoj Bajpayee remains underused in this puzzle around a chronicle of death
Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Rukh movie review: There’s a somberness to the way this chronicle of a death unfolds, which holds your attention. Some scenes sit heavily, though. And if you are an alert viewer, you will figure out what happened much before the big reveal.

Jia aur Jia movie review: Haphazard execution kills this tale despite an attractive premise
Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Jia aur Jia movie review: One Jia is quiet and broody, the other is bright and chirpy. One chokes and splutters, the other smokes and drinks. One wears six inch stilletoes and flouncy chiffons, the other short shorts and cool singlets. On a rugged road trip.

Golmaal Again movie review: This Tabu and Ajay Devgn starrer generates some laughs
Sat, Oct 21, 2017

Tabul is an unexpected pleasure, and lifts Golmaal Again. This a series which looks like it’s never going to end, and Shetty has the formula pat after all these iterations. I do hope Tabu becomes a fixture in the future Golmaals.

19th Mumbai Film Festival: Frames that make Friends
Sat, Oct 21, 2017

The 19th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival, which concluded earlier this week, was a varied play of emotions, and colours, filled with flavours from unexplored lands

Secret Superstar movie review: Zaira Wasim shines bright
Fri, Oct 20, 2017

Aamir Khan shows up as the out-of-flavour musician Shakti Kumaarr, all tight animal-printed Ts and crotch-hugging jeans, and while his I’m-so-irresistible strutting schtick starts off funny, you wish he had more to do.

Ranchi Diaries movie review: This Anupam Kher and Jimmy Shergill starrer leaves you trying to define pointlessness
Fri, Oct 13, 2017

Ranchi Diaries movie review: Sattwik Mohanty's directorial comes off as a random assemblage of scenes-- in forests (that’s where the ‘Naxals’ live), a large mansion (that’s where the bad guy stays), police chowkis, and a crumbling building which is meant to house a bank.

Forgotten director of the unforgettable Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Sun, Oct 08, 2017

Kundan Shah, the man who gave us Indian cinema’s blackest comedy, whose brilliance remains undiminished despite its datedness, is no more.

Chef movie review: This Saif Ali Khan film doesn’t come together as a fully satisfactory dish
Fri, Oct 06, 2017

Chef movie review: Saif Ali Khan's film has some interesting flavours. But 'Chef' feels derivative, and is a late coming of age tale of Peter-Pan-like adults. And that's got to do with the uneven writing. It is a good-looking film, with good-looking people only.

Tu Hai Mera Sunday movie review: This Shahana Goswami starrer is a feel-good, light-hearted yarn
Fri, Oct 06, 2017

Tu Hai Mera Sunday movie review: Arjun (Barun Sobti) is a charmer who has chucked the fast track corporate maze to explore other ways, and whose chance encounter with a shaky old man (Shiv Subramanyam) and his attractive daughter Kavi (Shahana Goswami) gets this thing rolling.

Tom Alter (1950-2017): The on-screen ‘firangi’ who remained forever Indian
Sun, Oct 01, 2017

What he stood for was the spirit of India, plural, proud and diverse. Where a person of American descent could be, profoundly and forever, Indian, whether he was Dick, Harry, or Tom.

Spyder movie review: SJ Surya stands out in this Mahesh Babu film
Sat, Sep 30, 2017

Spyder movie review: ‘Spyder’ pits a good Shiva (Mahesh Babu) against the evil Bhairavudu (SJ Surya), and gets off the mark with a bang, like an effective spy thriller should. Shiva’s thing is to rescue people in distress, but when he comes up against Bhairavudu, whose blood-lust is beyond all sane comprehension, he is stymied.

CRD movie review: This Vinay Sharma starrer is refreshing in its willingness to go down paths less trodden
Fri, Sep 29, 2017

CRD movie review: CRD’ is a strange mix of fact (tyrannical theatre gurus, natch) and fiction (several other elements within), real and not-real, or plain shimmering illusion. The film is refreshing in its willingness to go down paths less trodden.