Tag Archives: Parineeti Chopra

Movie Review: Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Meri Pyaari Bindu (“My Sweet Bindu“) puts a clever spin on a familiar story in a way that allows its talented lead couple to shine. Debutant screenwriter Suprotim Sengupta is one to watch.

Bollywood is awash in stories about a man who falls for a woman — often based on the woman’s appearance alone — who then makes it his mission to win the woman’s affections in return. These one-sided romances are often portrayed as a matter of destiny: the woman simply doesn’t realize that she’s meant to be with the man, so he must convince her. Meri Pyaari Bindu also tells a love story from a man’s perspective, but he is not some hero of destiny. He’s just a guy.

Abhi (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a successful — if slightly embarrassed — writer of pulp horror-romance novels living in Mumbai. He’s spent three years struggling to write a love story of literary merit. His concerned parents dupe him into returning to Kolkata in order to shake his writer’s block and force him to interact with the outside world once again.

The problem is Abhi’s obsession with “the one that got away”: Bindu (Parineeti Chopra), his childhood sweetheart. The mementos he finds in his parents’ home — most significantly a mix tape of old movie songs — prompt Abhi to write about his past with Bindu.

This version of the past is deliberately told from Abhi’s point of view, and it can’t be taken as a completely objective, even in his characterization of Bindu. In his recollection, the first thing she did upon meeting him was to hand him a pair of headphones, instructing him: “Listen to this. It will change your life.” The scene is a direct reference to Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State, one of the most commonly cited examples of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope — a free-spirited female character written as a romantic interest for a stuffy or depressed male character. The fact that Bindu and Abhi are six-years-old when this happens highlights the absurdity of Abhi’s perception of Bindu as his own personal wake-up-call.

As Abhi’s recollections progress forward in time, it becomes apparent to both him and the audience that there’s more to Bindu than her carefree persona suggests. She has plans of her own that may not include Abhi. Both of them learn as they get older that holding on too tightly to dreams that cannot be will only hurt the dreamer.

It’s a risky move to establish Bindu as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, since it requires the audience to invest enough in her to enjoy the payoff as she is revealed to be a nuanced character in her own right. Sengupta successfully pulls it off, and in doing so tells an unconventional but totally relateable love story. Debutant director Akshay Roy shows a knack for commercial cinema in the way he interprets Sengupta’s tale.

Few actors do “exasperated” better than Khurrana, and he gets to deploy his best hangdog expression liberally in Meri Pyaari Bindu. He’s a fine match for Chopra, who gets a wider range of emotions to work with in the film, from spunky to defeated to resolute. Her performance during a scene in which Bindu faces harsh reality is particularly moving.

It’s refreshing to see a Hindi romantic-comedy that knows how to bend the rules of the genre to make something that feels new. Meri Pyaari Bindu trusts in the intelligence of its audience, and the audience is rewarded for watching it.

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Movie Review: Kill Dil (2014)

Kill_Dil3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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With a vibe that combines the wild west with rock ‘n’ roll and Indian gangsters, Kill Dil (“Kill Heart“) has a unique, appealing aesthetic style. That style — plus a briskly paced story and a hypnotic performance by Ranveer Singh — make Kill Dil worth watching.

Singh plays Dev, one of two orphans raised by Bhaiyaji (Govinda), a gangster. The other orphan, Tutu (Ali Zafar), is Dev’s best friend and partner in crime. Together, they serve as Bhaiyaji’s chief assassins.

While Tutu looks every bit the part — black leather jacket, sunglasses, mustache — Dev’s goofy energy and bowl haircut seem at odds with his profession. Yet Dev’s spirited demeanor is what makes him Bhaiyaji’s favorite.

Predictably, everything falls apart when Dev falls in love with Disha (Parineeti Chopra). She works finding jobs for reformed criminals, but Tutu points out that she probably doesn’t want to date one. Dev has to decide whether a normal life with Disha is worth leaving Bhaiyaji and incurring his wrath.

Though the plot is a bit familiar, the presentation is not. The vibrant colors — especially during Bhaiyaji’s Diwali party — and framing make every shot captivating. The terrific rock soundtrack makes every song feel necessary in an otherwise very fast movie. Before you know it, an hour has passed and the word “Intermission” appears on screen.

Zafar, who normally plays nice guys, is very cool as an assassin, taking his cues from the Marlboro Man on the billboard above the apartment Tutu and Dev share. Govinda likewise sheds his usual comic image and makes an imposing tough guy.

Singh is a boundless source of energy, practically vibrating in every scene, even when his character isn’t the focus. He’s at his most “on” during dance numbers. It’s impossible not to watch him. He’s charisma personified.

Yet Singh’s best moment comes during a tearful discussion with Tutu, the moment when Dev must commit to his future. Singh’s earnestness is moving as he channels all that energy into a plea for understanding.

Chopra plays her character well, but she and Singh are somewhat lacking in chemistry (despite Chopra playing her most overtly sexy character to date). Disha seems a mismatch for Dev. It’s not just that he flunked out of fifth grade, it’s that their cultural tastes don’t seem to match. It’s not enough that Dev’s a nice guy.

There’s a moment that hints at a subplot about Dev finding in Disha’s family the parents he never had, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Plus, it’s a little hard to believe that neither Disha nor her family wouldn’t be suspicious of Dev’s evasiveness about his past.

What flaws Kill Dil has are masked by an undeniable cool factor. This is a doggone stylish movie that combines a bunch of elements to make something unique and interesting. In an industry awash in gangster movies, Kill Dil really stands out.

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Movie Review: Daawat-e-Ishq (2014)

Daawat-e-Ishq_official_release_poster1 Star (out of 4)

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Daawat-e-Ishq (“Feast of Love“) wants to be a strong social statement against dowries. In reality, it’s a fantasy film for men’s rights supporters.

The movie opens with a card explaining that, though the practice of dowry payments has been illegal since 1961, one woman is killed every hour in India because her family cannot afford to pay the fee demanded by her prospective husband’s family. Despite being an ace student, star athlete, and total knockout, no man will marry Gullu (Parineeti Chopra) because of the measly dowry her widowed father (played by Anupam Kher) can afford on his law clerk’s salary.

After having her heart broken by a rich guy named Amjad, whose family demands an outrageous sum to approve the marriage, Gullu decides to use the law to her advantage. She and her father leave Hyderabad for Lucknow, where they assume false identities in order to land Gullu a rich husband.

After the wedding, the plan is for Gullu to file a suit against the groom’s family accusing them of dowry extortion (section 498a in the Indian penal code). Presumably, the family will settle out of court, and Gullu and her dad will have enough money to move to America so that she can become a shoe designer.

Gullu and her dad pick Taru Haidar (Aditya Roy Kapur) — a restaurateur from a rich family — as their mark. Unfortunately for Gullu, Taru is nice, virtuous guy who doesn’t like that his parents have asked for a dowry. Gullu must decide whether to confess her scheme or take Taru’s money and break his heart.

Thus does a movie about the evils of a system which unfairly punishes women turn into a tale with a wealthy man as the system’s true victim.

For a movie as mind numbingly slow as Daawat-e-Ishq, the twist that positions Taru as the victim still comes as a shock. His character doesn’t even show up until forty minutes into the film, and he’s introduced as a loud, tacky boor. His victimization is supposed to sting not because of who he is or the audience’s affection for him but for what he represents: an innocent man exploited by a law designed to protect women.

There are so many reasons why the movie doesn’t work, and all can be laid at the feet of writer-director Habib Faisal. Faisal asks his talented cast to overact. The film looks dingy and flat. For a movie about a chef with “Feast” in the title, precious little time is devoted to Taru’s culinary creations. The camera pans quickly past the dishes with nary a description or lingering shot.

The screenplay is the film’s biggest problem. As mentioned above, Taru isn’t introduced until forty minutes have elapsed, time that is instead spent on Gullu’s futile romance with Amjad and a couple of lifeless songs. The romance between the leading couple is compressed into a single song, which isn’t enough time for Chopra and Kapur to develop any kind of chemistry.

Faisal lets down his heroine in the way he transforms her from an unappreciated modern woman into a ruthless criminal mastermind. The circumstances that prompt her to concoct her extortion scheme aren’t dire enough to warrant it, and the whole plan seems out of character for a woman who takes pride in succeeding on her own merits.

Gullu’s heel-turn opens the door for a song in which the “black magic woman” wreaks havoc “while the mustache studs looked on in dismay.” Taru’s lawyer friend shouts, “All the girls of India will learn a lesson that they shouldn’t trick innocent boys into 498a.” I’m sure the twenty-four women murdered today over dowry would feel properly chastened, were they still alive to do so.

The most telling indicator of where Daawat-e-Ishq falls on the moral spectrum is its epilogue, featuring the rich guy, Amjad. He finally stands up to his parents, telling them that he won’t accept a dowry from his future bride. Not because their regressive ideas cost him the one woman he really loved, but because, dammit, he’s tired of being treated like a piece of meat, an object that can be sold to the highest bidder. And the women of the world collectively rolled their eyes…

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New Trailers: July 10, 2014

Fall is going to be a lot of fun if three newly released trailers are any indication of the quality of Bollywood fare that awaits us in a couple of months. The first of the three films to hit theaters is Daawat-e-Ishq (“Feast of Love“), releasing September 5. More Parineeti Chopra is always a good thing.

The following weekend sees the release of Finding Fanny, an offbeat road trip film starring Deepika Padukone and Naseeruddin Shah. The movie’s dialogue is a mix of Hindi and English. I cannot wait for September 12 to come around, because I am dying to see this.

On October 2, director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider hits theaters. A Hindi interpretation of Hamlet set in Kashmir? Sign me up!

Stay up to date with Bollywood Hungama’s list of Bollywood release dates.

IIFA Tampa

The International Indian Film Academy awards are over, and Mike Davis was in Tampa, Florida, to cover the event. Head to his blog — Just Me Mike — to read his reports and view photos from the festival.

My favorite IIFA related photo came courtesy of Parineeti Chopra’s friend, Nitasha, the day after the festival ended. The actress and her buddies appear to have ordered one of everything on the menu at a Tampa area IHOP:

ParineetiIHOP

Box Office: February 7-9

North American Bollywood fans were in the mood for love, turning out in impressive numbers for the romantic comedy Hasee Toh Phasee. In its opening weekend in 88 U.S. and Canadian theaters, the film earned $336,985 (according to Box Office Mojo).

Hasee Toh Phasee‘s per screen earnings of $3,829 bested every other film in the top twenty-five apart from The LEGO Movie and The Monuments Men, which finished the weekend in first and second place, respectively.

The success of Hasee Toh Phasee points to an upward trend in the young careers of the two lead actors: Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra. This is only Malhotra’s second film after 2012’s Student of the Year, which earned $326,508 from 106 theaters ($3,080 per screen) in its opening weekend in North America, going on to earn a total of $670,086.

Chopra debuted in a supporting role in 2011’s Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, which earned $222,019 from 80 theaters ($2775 per screen) in its opening weekend (according to Bollywood Hungama). Ishaqzaade — Chopra’s second film and first lead role — didn’t release theatrically in the U.S.

Chopra had greater success with 2013’s Shuddh Desi Romance. It earned $345,624 from 116 theaters ($2976 per screen) in its first weekend, finishing its North American run with $641,000 in total earnings.

Distributor Reliance Big Pictures should be pleased if Hasee Toh Phasee ends up earning around $650,000 in the U.S. and Canada.