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: 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 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.
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, 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.
The only superstar who remained unscathed, and consolidated his pole position, was Akshay Kumar.
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.
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: 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 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.
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: 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.
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.
The films we remember Shashi Kapoor most for are the ones in which he played, with infinite grace and good humour, second fiddle.
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).
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 film starring Sanjai Mishra and Ranvir Shorey is about climate change and the plight of farmers who get affected by it.
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.
In the ‘Padmavati’ controversy is a larger indictment.
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: 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’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 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 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: 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: 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: 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.
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.
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
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: 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.
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: 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: 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.
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: ‘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: 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.
Ruskin Bond in his new book "Till the Clouds Roll by, Beginning Again" captures Bond's growing up years where he is seen dealing with the loss of his father, reacquainting himself with his mother who now has a new husband and discovering his love for books.