Tag Archives: Netflix Original

Movie Review: Plan A Plan B (2022)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Plan A Plan B on Netflix

The lack of effort that went into making Plan A Plan B is readily apparent. Stars Tamannaah Bhatia and Riteish Deshmukh are occasionally able to elevate the poor material they’re given to work with, but much of the movie is forgettable.

Fault for the film lies at the feet of director Shashanka Ghosh (who made much better films like Veere Di Wedding and Khoobsurat) and writer Rajat Arora (who has a more mixed track record). All of the dialogue feels like a first draft, with characters saying the most obvious things and repeating conversational patterns over and over again. Because the movie was made for a streaming service and thus subject to less stringent Indian censorship requirements, the characters make frequent sex references, but in the most juvenile ways.

Bhatia plays Nirali Vora, a matchmaker taking over a successful business from her mother Kiran (Poonam Dhillon). Kiran announces her retirement by saying, “From now on, it’s just me and my pussy” — by which she means her friend Pushpa. See what I mean about juvenile sex references?

Deshmukh plays divorce attorney Kosty Chougule, who is as enthusiastic about marriages ending as Nirali is about marriages beginning. However, Kosty won’t agree to his own wife Runjhan’s (Bidita Bag) divorce request because he hates to lose and is still in love with her.

That doesn’t stop Kosty from finding plenty of hookups on dating apps. He meets the Indian women he connects with on the apps in public places like restaurants, while the white women he finds come to his apartment in revealing outfits. The harmful oversexed-white-woman trope has fallen out of fashion in recent years, so including it is more evidence of the laziness that went into writing Plan A Plan B.

Nirali and Kosty have offices next to each other in a co-working space in Mumbai. Their personalities clash, resulting in loads of noisy bickering. (If I was one of the other workers renting office space, I’d demand a refund.) The things they fight about are dumb and trivial, as are the reasons why most of Kosty’s clients want divorces. It’s all tidy vs. messy, dogs vs. cats — elementary school examples of opposites, basically. One reason Runjhan wants to divorce Kosty is because he won’t let her help in the kitchen when he prepares gourmet meals for her. Like, is that really a problem?

When Kiran enlists Kosty’s help preparing for her sixtieth birthday party, Kosty and Nirali agree to a truce. (The birthday party triggers some cringe-worthy “Look at these inspirational old ladies” observations from Kosty.)  The truce finally allows Deshmukh and Bhatia the chance to show why they are such likeable actors, as their characters finally try to connect with one another.

That said, there isn’t much chemistry between them, although they may not be at fault. The movie’s lone intimate scene plays out like combat rather than romance. The characters yank on each other’s clothes while strategically holding their heads to hide the fact that their lips aren’t actually touching.

There’s far more sensuality in a dance number Kosty and Nirali perform at Kiran’s birthday party. In fact, just watch their performance to the song “Keh Do Ke” and skip the rest:

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Streaming Video News: June 2, 2022

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with today’s streaming debut of the blockbuster K.G.F: Chapter 2. It’s available in its original Kannada, as well as dubbed versions in  Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Hulu with the premiere of the Hotstar Specials series 9 Hours. In addition to the original Telugu, the series is also available in Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, and Tamil.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with yesterday’s addition of the Malayalam film Jana Gana Mana. The Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu versions of Jana Gana Mana are all titled Jana 2022 in the Netflix catalog.

This was a surprisingly busy week for news about Netflix Original projects in production. Filming wrapped on the series Rana Naidu (an official remake of Ray Donovan). The movie based on The Devotion of Suspect X finished its Darjeeling schedule. Filming began on Anushka Sharma’s Jhulan Goswami biopic Chakda ‘Xpress. And the Sanjay Leela Bhansali series Heeramandi got a new director. Not sure how many of these we’ll get in 2022, but I wrote about most of them in my 2022 preview for What’s on Netflix.

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Streaming Video News: February 21, 2020

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with dozens of Indian titles added in the last week, including today’s addition of the comedy Good Newwz, starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh, and Kiara Advani. Good Newwz was 2019’s second highest earning Bollywood film in the United States, and the only other Hindi movie besides Gully Boy to earn more than $5 million here last year. Two 2020 Telugu releases were added to Prime this week as well: 3 Monkeys and Degree College.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the additions of the Emraan Hashmi-Rishi Kapoor thriller The Body and the Netflix Original Hindi dance film Yeh Ballet. Another Netflix Original movie on the way is Guilty, starring Kiara Advani as the truth-seeking girlfriend of a popular college student accused of rape. Guilty debuts on Netflix March 6.

Movie Review: Ghost Stories (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Ghost Stories on Netflix

Ghost Stories is the third installment in the Hindi anthology series from directors Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar, following Bombay Talkies and the Netflix Original Lust Stories. The latest is a strong collection, but some of the short films are more enjoyable than others.

Akhtar’s opening short is a fitting introduction to the overall theme, with a beautiful young woman in a creepy house. Janhvi Kapoor plays Sameera, a home health nurse sent to care temporarily for bedridden dementia patient Mrs. Malik (Surekha Sikri). Sameera was told Mrs. Malik’s adult son was taking care of her over the weekend, but there’s no sign of him when Sameera arrives at the cluttered, dimly lit apartment. Mrs. Malik says he’s hiding. Suspicious sounds in the hallway tip Sameera off that something is very wrong.

Akhtar bucks horror conventions by making Sameera a woman of questionable ethics, rather than some imperiled virgin. She invites her married boyfriend over for a romantic rendezvous and riffles through Mrs. Malik’s jewelry box. Instead of being about virtue under threat, Akhtar’s story explores which morals really matter when times get tough, and what obligations we have to other people and ourselves.

Anurag Kashyap’s story is next. It’s the most ambitious but least successful of the four films. After her first child died minutes after its birth, Neha (Sobhita Dhulipala) has eventually become pregnant again. She’s still struggling with the psychological damages from her previous loss. On top of that, the little boy she babysits, Ansh (Zachary Braz), isn’t keen on sharing her affections with anyone else. And she may have been cursed by a bird.

There’s so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of why things happen, let alone differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. Is Neha simply paranoid or out of touch with reality? Is she cursed, or does Ansh really have some kind of evil powers to harm her unborn child? Everything ends in gory, bizarre chaos. Women with a history of fertility problems or miscarriages may find this film disturbing.

The gore-fest continues in the third film, director Dibakar Banerjee’s parable of a small village literally cannibalized by its big-city neighbors. A bureaucrat (played by Sukant Goel) arrives in Smalltown to find it destroyed, with a boy (Aditya Shetty) and a girl (Eva Ameet Pardeshi) the only survivors. They explain that her father — a councilman from Bigtown — ate most of the residents and turned everyone else into zombies. Only when the man is nearly eaten himself does he accept that they kids are telling the truth.

Despite some truly disgusting moments, this is an intriguing story of greed and the sacrifices people will to make to save themselves. Banerjee does an excellent job building a world and giving his audience a lot to chew on (cannibal pun intended).

The anthology’s closing tale is much what you’d expect from a Karan Johar ghost story. Two rich and very attractive people, Ira (Mrunal Thakur) and Dhruv (Avinash Tiwary), agree to marry. When Dhruv interrupts their honeymoon lovemaking to say “good night” to his grandmother — who’s been dead for twenty years — Ira wonders what kind of mental illness afflicts her new husband. But maybe she’s the one who can’t see the ghost right in front of her.

Johar’s story is a light, fun respite after the two heavy shorts that came before it. Dhruv’s family mansion is gorgeous. There’s also a minor theme about faith that gives the story some dimension.

Other than Kashyap’s dense narrative, the stories all suit the short film format. They say what they need to say and end before they run out of steam. There are so many ideas in Kashyap’s story that he might have been able to better organize them in a feature-length film. Overall, Ghost Stories is an interesting collection that creates chilling scenarios without relying on jump scares. Just be ready for some blood and guts.

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