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.

Lipstick Under My Burkha movie review: It looks into women’s lives and makes a point without being preachy or polemical
Thu, Jul 20, 2017

Lipstick Under My Burkha movie review: What makes the film it is, is the upfront, frank manner in which female desire and fantasy are treated, running like a strong, vital thread through the film. Dreams can keep you alive, and age is just a number.

Shab movie review: Even interesting faces fail to save this sloppy, choppy piece of work
Sat, Jul 15, 2017

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: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif miss the plot in what could’ve been world’s first musical spy thriller
Sat, Jul 15, 2017

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: Fart jokes and failed gags make it an abysmal watch
Fri, Jul 07, 2017

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: The plot is riddled with holes, and is too focussed on Sridevi
Sat, Jul 08, 2017

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: We rate this movie zero
Sat, Jul 01, 2017

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 flickers but never really lights up
Fri, Jun 23, 2017

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: A powerful film, a subject that needs constant revision
Fri, Jun 16, 2017

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: Riteish Deshmukh, this tired film leaves us sad for you
Fri, Jun 16, 2017

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: Rajkummar Rao film is a lost opportunity
Sat, Jun 10, 2017

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, Kriti Sanon film is a rom con
Fri, Jun 09, 2017

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.

The Mummy movie review: This Tom Cruise film takes a lesson from Bollywood
Fri, Jun 09, 2017

The Mummy movie review: What we are left with is our hero kicking up a lot of sound and fury, and sand, of course, with the promise of much more of the same to come. Not actively awful, but not a barrel of silly fun either.

Dear Maya review: Manisha Koirala’s film works in fits and starts
Sat, Jun 03, 2017

Dear Maya movie review: Will Dear Maya lead to more, better roles for ‘senior’ actors like Manisha Koirala? For she is an actor who like Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi and Deepti Naval capable of carrying a film on her shoulders.

A Death In The Gunj movie review: Konkana Sensharma’s debut film plays to its strengths
Fri, Jun 02, 2017

A Death in the Gunj movie review: Konkona Sensharma’s assured directorial debut, unpacks a complex sentiment with feeling, and gives us a layered film with memorable characters about the games people play, and how, sometimes, that can have terrible consequences.

All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go
Tue, May 30, 2017

Let’s not ask why Indian actors are restricted to the red carpet at Cannes. Let’s ask when will we start making more non-formulaic films with unique storylines and outstanding performances.

Sachin A Billion Dreams movie review: The fulsome tribute will force you to hold back those tears and go ‘Sachin, Sachin’
Sat, May 27, 2017

Sachin A Billion Dreams movie review: Sachin Tendulkar's biopic makes you smile and makes you teary too. But does it really tell you anything about the cricketing legend that you didn't already know?

Half Girlfriend movie review: We half liked Half Girlfriend
Fri, May 19, 2017

Half Girlfriend movie review: What exactly is Half Girlfriend? Arjun Kapoor's Bihari boy Madhav Jha and Shraddha Kapoor's Delhi girl Riya Somani are as clueless as us.

Hindi Medium movie review: Watch it for the glorious Irrfan Khan
Fri, May 19, 2017

Hindi Medium movie review: Irrfan Khan delivers a fine performance in this film which puts the difference between Bharat and India in sharp focus. Pakistani actor Saba Qamar gets some moments too.

Meri Pyaari Bindu movie review: Ayushmann Khurrana, Parineeti Chopra try but can’t make us feel
Fri, May 12, 2017

Meri Pyaari Bindu movie review: Parineeti Chopra's Bindu is bubbly and cute but stays on the surface. Ayushmann Khurrana's Abhi gets more to play with. But will their romance make us sing Abhi Na jao Chhod ke?

Sarkar 3 movie review: Despite Amitabh Bachchan trying his best, where’s the novelty?
Fri, May 12, 2017

Sarkar 3 movie review: The best thing you can say about Amitabh Bachchan and Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar 3 is that it is not as ghastly as Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag.

Mantostaan movie review: A searing tale lost in translation
Fri, May 05, 2017

Mantostaan movie review: ‘Mantostaan’ is based on four Manto stories, and functions as a quartet, which cuts from one story to the other, the pace increasing as the film progresses.

A star, an actor
Fri, Apr 28, 2017

Vinod Khanna was an artist confident enough to play second fiddle.

Baahubali 2 movie review: Only if Kattappa had killed Baahubali earlier
Sat, Apr 29, 2017

Baahubali 2 movie review: Baahubali The Beginning was enormously enjoyable. Baahubali The Conclusion comes to life only in bits and pieces and the credit for it should goes to Prabhas.

Look Back in Wonder
Sat, Apr 22, 2017

The early days of Indian cinema come alive in this edited compilation of notes from legendary archivist PK Nair’s diaries

Noor movie review: Sonakshi Sinha, your journalist needs a fact check
Sun, Apr 23, 2017

Noor movie review: It isn’t really Sonakshi Sinha’s fault that Noor Roy Choudhary comes off as a complete klutz as a crusading journo. She is simply practising the movie’ s notion of journalism, which is as fuzzy and unrealistic.

Sonata movie review: Shabana Azmi can sing and it’s the only takeaway from Sonata
Sat, Apr 22, 2017

Sonata movie review: Despite strong women characters played by Shabana Azmi, Aparna Sen and Lillete Dubey, Sonata stays only on surface.

Maatr movie review: This Raveena Tandon film is jaw-droppingly horrifying
Sat, Apr 22, 2017

Maatr movie review: Crass, cringe-inducing and downright sordid, this Raveena Tandon rape-and-revenge thriller makes you ask just one question -- who writes this stuff?

Begum Jaan movie review: Vidya Balan tries to invest some feeling into her role which soon turns clichéd
Fri, Apr 14, 2017

Begum Jaan movie review: The climax is full of fire and faux brimstone and lots of speechifying, as the ladies of easy virtue become a gun-toting ‘fauj’.

Kaatru Veliyidai review: This Mani Ratnam film flunks the test
Sat, Apr 08, 2017

Kaatru Veliyidai review: The film loosely translates as ‘breezy expanse’, checks all the Mani Ratnam boxes we’ve loved and obsessed over, over the years.

National Film Awards 2017: Did Akshay Kumar deserve best actor award for Rustom? The jury is still out
Fri, Apr 07, 2017

The announcement of the 64th National Awards sparked a familiar reaction – griping from the losers, cheers from the winners and much outrage. What it requires is transparency

Mirza Juuliet movie review: This is not a film, it is a travesty
Fri, Apr 07, 2017

Mirza Juuliet movie review: This film comes stuffed with the most abominable clichés which are clearly aligned to the power structures in place.

Mukti Bhawan movie review: A film to live and die by
Fri, Apr 07, 2017

Mukti Bhawan movie review: Other than a few faultlines, this is a superb film that shows us how it is entirely possible to die, irradiated by life.

A Regal Way Of Seeing
Sat, Apr 01, 2017

Grand single-screen would beat tinny multiplex — if it was around to tell the tale

Poorna movie review: An inspirational, goosebump-inducing story
Thu, Mar 30, 2017

Poorna movie review: Fairytales do come true and the story of Poorna Malavath is the proof. Her biopic, directed by Rahul bose, does justice to the extraordinary story of a 13-year-old tribal girl climbing Mt Everest.

Naam Shabana movie review: Taapsee Pannu film turns out to be a predictable flick
Sat, Apr 01, 2017

Naam Shabana movie review: Except for a few stray sequences in which the limber Taapsee Pannu faces up to the bad guys, and the ones in which co-star Akshay Kumar moves in to demonstrate how the big boys do it, there is nothing either novel or interesting about the film.

Phillauri movie review: Anushka Sharma, Diljit Dosanjh film suffers from languid pace
Sat, Mar 25, 2017

Phillauri movie review: Shashi (Anushka Sharma) is an obedient younger sister of a man who is a martinet. He keeps her under strict watch, unaware that she writes poetry, and is slowly being charmed by a local ‘gawaiyaa’ (Diljit Dosanjh).