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.

Articles By Shubhra Gupta

The year’s best Indian films go beyond Hindi cinema

In recent times, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Assamese cinema have surpassed Hindi films in storytelling and craft.

Vidya Sinha typified a new kind of heroine in Hindi cinema

Instead of the skin-tight churidar-kurtas worn by the popular leading ladies of the time, Vidya Sinha, like Jaya Bhaduri, favoured cotton saris, and bindis.

Vidya Sinha (1947-2019): The girl-next-door

Vidya Sinha had come to the movies from modelling, but unlike so many other young women who followed the same route only to never really shed the ramp, Sinha turned out to be a consummate actress.

Batla House review: The Encounter That Was

John Abraham is strictly one-note, which may be how dour cops are meant to come off, but it becomes same-same in a screenplay stretched to show off a well-muscled chest.

Mission Mangal review: Women for Mars

The human interactions are the best part of the film. The downer comes from the science bits, clearly crafted for dummies.

How a 1970s film spoke of India as a robust, democratic and plural space

In a climactic song, a line goes, Anhoni ko honi kar de, honi ko anhoni, ek jagah jo jamaa ho teenon, Amar, Akbar, Anthoneeee”. Can we ever go back to that India again?

Nerkonda Paarvai movie review: A diluted film

Nerkonda Paarvai movie review: In this Tamil remake of Pink, Ajith, who plays Amitabh Bachchan’s part, is shown to be younger, fitter, and most importantly, as able to take on twenty 'goondas' as Bachchan used to, in his younger avatar. And that makes it a diluted film.

Jabariya Jodi review: A confused, long-drawn mess

From start to finish, there’s isn’t a single shred of conviction on display. The result is a confused, unpleasing, long-drawn mess, which the viewers will 'jabariya' have to sit through.

Ash Is Purest White movie review: Zhao Tao steals the show

Ash Is Purest White movie review: Liao Fan plays his part well. But this film is owned by Zhao Tao, director Jia Zhangke’s muse and wife.

Khandaani Shafakhana movie review: A soppy melodrama

Khandaani Shafakhana movie review: The trouble with this film is that quite soon it chickens out. From a comedy with a strong ‘social’ component which could have been a barrel of meaningful laughs, it turns into a soppy melodrama.

Arjun Patiala review: A pointless affair

With Diljit Dosanjh’s high likeable quotient, faithful sidekick Varun Sharma’s skills at delivering broadsides, pretty heartthrob Kriti Sanon’s dazzling pearly-whites, and a host of reliable supporting acts, Arjun Patiala should have been much better than it is.

Judgementall Hai Kya movie review: Kangana hits all the notes perfectly

Judgementall Hai Kya movie review: This is the kind of movie which will sharply divide audiences. And that’s as it should be. Once I began seeing it as the murmurings of a different mind, I bought it as a caper, as burlesque, where nothing is as it is. I had problems with some of it, but I really liked the rest of it.

Jhootha Kahin Ka movie review: Comedy of crassness

I have no idea why demeaning women is considered funny by Bollywood scriptwriters, but maybe they are on to something because the more vile the joke, the louder is the laughter amongst the audience.

Family of Thakurganj movie review: A few men in the hood

For an effective film, you need both plot and treatment. Family of Thakurganj has neither, and a solid ensemble cast is let down, once again, by inept handling.

Super 30 review: The Hrithik Roshan movie is way less than super

Super 30 movie review: Yes, the real-life story is inspiring. But the telling of it is a drag. The film has its moments, which belong mostly to its young people: the kids are all right.

Shoplifters movie review: It’s the little things

In the hands of a less skilled craftsman, these shoplifters and their dodgy doings could easily have descended into sludge. That the performances are all top-notch, helps. And Kore-eda is a master: each revelation, as shocking as it is, comes with great delicacy and humaneness.

Malaal movie review: Love don’t cost a thing

Going by Hadawale’s Marathi debut Tingya, the heart-warming story of a little boy and his beloved bull, this should have been a much better film. Sadly, Malaal is nothing but a series of warmed-over clichés which only a talented pair could have refreshed.

One Day Justice Delivered movie review: Case dismissed

One Day Justice Delivered movie review: Esha Gupta’s arrival as a tough crime branch cop takes whatever little credibility the film had managed till then and flings it out of the window.

Noblemen movie review: Innocence lost

Noblemen movie review: You wish that the director had thought of a more believable climax. It is the only jarring note in a film which focuses on such an important subject, with such clear insider knowledge and authenticity.

Article 15 movie review: Making the invisible visible

Article 15 movie review: Article 15 may have an unsatisfactory element or two, but as a film, it rushes in to tread forgotten grounds. It is what is needed, call it what you will-- a clarion call, a bugle, a shout-out.