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.
Unlike female friendships, male bonding has always had a special place in Hindi films. But why should boys have all the fun?
Race 3 review: The movie is nothing but a recycled bin of too many car chases, explosions, buffed up characters strutting in slo-mo, and wilted lines.
Kaala Karikaalan movie review: Pa Ranjith’s sensibility and Rajinikanth’s charisma work together to give us something that’s gone missing from big-budget starry tentpoles: a strong feel for the underclass as the main focus.
Veere Di Wedding movie review: The four 'veeres', Kalindi (Kareena Kapoor), Avni (Sonam Kapoor), Sakshi (Swara Bhaskar) and Meera (Shikha Talsania), are a solid bunch despite their riches and their entitled troubles.
Phamous movie review: Why did the ladies sign up for this mess? Shriya Saran wears deep pink lipstick and a pout, while Mahie Gill is to be seen in precisely two-and-a-half scenes, with the camera hovering suggestively over both their bosoms.
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero movie review, rating: The film clearly intends to be dark, edgy and cool. Trouble is, it spends too much of its time underlining its purpose, even getting a character to say these three adjectives.
Bioscopewala movie review: The casting of this Danny Denzongpa film is inspired, just being able to watch the wonderful Danny on screen should have been good enough. But the film is choppy, especially in the way the father-daughter relationship is fashioned.
Book Club movie review: You smile as you see these women laugh out loud, try on gravity-defying undergarments, and try on their dates for size: this is a demographic which needs to be seen so much more because they are so much more at ease with who they are
Solo A Star Wars Story movie review: There are moments when you admire the dexterity with which Solo squeezes by yet another fast-closing dark star, or out-runs yet another fizzy missile, and then you are back to looking for something new.
Parmanu movie review: You will get the money shot of John Abraham and co. walking in slo-mo to swelling background music, enveloped in a comic book feel. You will not get crucial nuance and detail, essential requirements for a film to be to taken seriously.
Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain movie review: Some of the film is pleasing in the way it brings out the dull familiarity that plagues a well-excavated relationship, and both Sanjay Mishra and Ekavali Khanna feel sufficiently lived in.
Daas Dev review: Daas Dev, starring Rahul Bhat, Richa Chadda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Saurabh Shukla, Vineet Kumar Singh and Dalip Tahil among others, has lofty ambition but not enough impact: the film lives in moments, but droops as a whole.
Beyond the Clouds review: The bright-eyed Ishaan Khatter has something, a flicker in his eyes, and gets some zest into his part. Malavika Mohanan is great on the eyes, but clueless in how to fill her part.
Nanu Ki Jaanu review: The Abhay Deol, Patralekhaa and Manu Rishi starrer has one or two lines which leave us chortling, and a situation or two which is genuinely surprising: one or two in a film of two hours? You do the math.
Mercury review: Karthik Subbaraj has had fun with the undead in Pizza, and the unlovely in Jigarthanda, but this one is a much-too stretched out misguided mess, masquerading as a parable.
October review: Through October, you see glimpses of Dan, but you can also see the effort showing: Varun Dhawan’s ability to fully disappear into a part is still a work-in-progress.
Listening in at a roundtable with Christopher Nolan, where he pitches celluloid as the future of film to the A-listers of Indian cinema.
Missing review: How do you manage a casting coup (Manoj Bajpayee and Tabu) and then waste those talents so spectacularly? How do you create an alleged plot that’s so witless?
S Durga review: This is not an easy film to watch, filled with fear and dread: I literally held my breath for the 1.5 hours of its duration. It turns us the viewers into helpless voyeurs, horrified participants, and furious citizens, all at once.
Blackmail review: The Irrfan Khan starrer begins promisingly but descends pretty quickly into flatness and sluggishness, a classic problem of not knowing quite how to play out a perky idea.
Writer-scholar Rana Safvi says it is imperative for Delhi to hold on to its cosmopolitan culture. Her latest book "The Forgotten Cities of Delhi" emerges at a time when there is a brazen attempt to re-write Indian history with demonisation of the Mughals.