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.
X : Past Is Present movie review: Except for one segment, right at the end, which has Swara Bhaskar and the young Jha, and a sense of time and place, the rest have practically no weight, nor heft.
Saeed Jaffrey’s passing is yet another stalwart gone, a multi-faceted performer who straddled eras, the stage, cinema and television, who made a home in the West and, so to speak, the East.
In Galibeeja (Wind Seed), artist Babu Eshwar Prasad holds out his captivating take on the landscapes he has traversed, inviting us to journey along.
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo review: This Salman Khan film draws heavily from Sooraj Barjatya’s previous work, with one glaring cosmetic difference : he sets it not in homes that people like you and me live in, or relate to, but in a grand palace.
A foul-mouthed whore and a gentle-voiced young fellow are thrown together for a night, and the time they spend together impacts both strongly: the premise has promise, but nothing in the film 'Yaara Silly Silly' delivers on it.
Drugs. Cops. Gangsters. Youngsters. Mix ‘em up, and you get ‘Charlie Ke Chakkar Mein’. Or at least that’s what the film sets out to do.
As we speak, Shah Rukh is being pilloried for speaking out on religious intolerance and how problematic that can be for creative people
Main Aur Charles movie review: The film should have been riveting. But it comes off as a slapdash, confused collage of scenes involving the famous jail break in which the real life Sobhraj broke free with several prisoners.
Titli movie review: You end up feeling for Titli. You want him to break free, and fly away. He shines, and despite its darkness, so does the film.
Shaandaar review: Costumery may work with other actors, but it's wrong for Alia Bhatt, while Shahid Kapoor suffers from a badly-written character.
All good film festivals have one thing in common — continuity. Can the Mumbai Film Festival get there and hold its own?
Wedding Pullav movie review: Rishi Kapoor, who can be relied upon to save sinking ships, has not one ounce of spark or novelty. Everything is predictable in the movie.
Pyaar Ka Punchanama 2 review: In the sequel to Pyaar Ka Punchnama, all we get is more of the same, minus the freshness and the age-appropriate smart lines.
Jazbaa review: It’s not as if Aishwarya Rai Bachchan gets Anuradha Verma, the anguished legal eagle who takes up cudgels for people whose guilt is beyond doubt, all wrong.
The Walk review: The film, and Gordon-Levitt, shines in this final act, as we watch, with our hearts in our mouths breath suspended, waiting for him to come back safely to the other side.
Talvar movie review: The film is as real as a constructed-for-the-camera document can be, with its portrayal of the professional rivalries between the investigating teams, and insatiable media persons.
'Puli' review: After the spectacular ‘Baahubali’, we were all set for an encore with ‘Puli’, yet another period fantasy from the South. But this one is a crashing bore.
Singh Is Bliing review: The only thing which saves it is that it wears its silliness proudly on its hero’s `pug’ ( turban), said hero smartly reworking his good-hearted simpleton who loves his mother and respects his father, and rescues his girl.
Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon review: The only reason not to run out of the theatre, screaming, is that Sharma displays a surprising flair for underplaying.
‘Timeout’ review: The movie raises a subject that is usually not tackled with any seriousness in our movies, places it at the heart of the story. For that alone it deserves props.
Calendar Girls review: An after-thought, which talks of how these girls are 'proud achievers’, comes in the end. The rest of the Madhur Bhandarkar's movie exploits young women being exploited.
The one question that always trips up the film critic is the one you shouldn’t ask.
Katti Batti review: Few minutes into Kangana Ranaut, Imran Khan's movie, and the question would be, 'What IS this?'
Meeruthiya Gangsters review: The movie is so far from being the zippy crime caper it presumably set out to be that it leaves you stranded, wondering just what is going on.
Hero review: The end of Sooraj Pancholi, Athiya Shetty film brings relief, with Sallu Bhai working the end credits, exuding more star power in two minutes than we’ve seen in two hours. This 'Hero' is a zero.
The question of censorship vs certification, in a vibrant democracy, and in an age where everything is a download away, needs to be addressed with a great deal more thought than it has been till now.
Welcome Back movie review: With John Abraham and Shruti Haasan the movie clomps about, looking for the laughs. And failing, mostly, to find them.
Kaun Kitne Paani Mein review: Good idea, faulty execution. Using water as a trade commodity is a powerful concept, especially given that there is so much drought and so little accessible clean drinking water in so many parts of India.
Phantom movie review: Kabir Khan's thriller, Phantom, starring Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif is disappointing, there is no crackle, only fizz.
Amongst all the Hollywood heroes currently saving the world, one film at a time, Tom Cruise stands out. For having proudly embraced his 50-something status.
In his latest novel, Finders Keepers, Stephen King returns to one of his most compelling scenarios, one that he laid out for us in his much older Misery.
All is Well movie review: Whoever named this film must have a great sense of black humour, because the only thing ‘well’ about the film is its title.
Manjhi review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui strains every sinew, and remains consistently watchable despite the shifts in tone. But even he cannot make the film soar.
Gour Hari Dastaan review: Based on the quest of a real-life character, it has all the elements that could have made it all this and more, but it comes off flat and dull.
Brothers review: Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra's film uses a form of kinetic martial arts to foreground its story of two warring siblings, but it stays, at heart, a Karan Johar film.
Four decades on, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra starrer ‘Sholay’ continues to entertain, making us laugh and cry and clap.
These are the voices of the epic’s female characters, some of them legendary, others known but not much heard from, yet others dimly glimpsed but so far unnamed, and some few invented to bridge lacunae in the narrative.