A pale shadow of his past – 365 Days Review


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It’s apparent that Ramgopal Verma is continuing to make films as a resource for easy money and not by any stretch, for creative satisfaction. His latest offering 365 Days is expectedly another stint with his favourite muse, sex. The premise of love-turning-sour-after-marriage is imposed on a viewer.

The maker, in a 110 minute narrative, revokes the same message in varying forms, reinstating the existence of marriage as a societal trap and convincing it as a means to satisfy sexual desire. He indulges in a lot of personal commentary enroute to the same, with his voice over and a  background score that hints of a mystery thriller on the cards than a drama.

The mundane side of it being a pain is the major part of the essence, he wants us to take back; ranging from basic family chores to handling the suspicion and the lack of excitement post rosy romances.

The wife in a situation catches her husband watching porn. The man doesn’t remember her birthday at once. The prospect of watching each other everyday hurts. While he’s staring at a window when the two are in a restaurant, she asks if watching a traffic jam is more interesting than her presence.

It’s not as if these aren’t pertinent issues but Verma is way too lazy to explore any of it to good detail. The snapshot-like-plot, to add, shot like an adult television soap has an unlikely happy ending, more for the U/A tag it has managed to elicit from the certifying authorities, when they were probably were caught up having a nap.

There’s a certain recklessness with which the film is shot. It lacks focus and adds sub-plots only for a namesake necessity. The boss is clear-headed of marriage being a ‘moju’. The friend suggests that they need to adjust. The couple feels they’re too strong-headed to stay together and compromise for long. All of it is just reversed with a convenient climax.

On another day, when the maker hits form, the plot may well not be a bad idea to get back to, given the fetish with which he has explored dark relationships in the past. But for the rock-bottom scale he has stooped down to, now, this better be avoided. No, thanks.

Just there, almost- Dohchay Review


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The actual test for a successful first-time director happens to be his second attempt. While they preserve their best inputs for the first, the next one has them close to developing a craft in their methods. This is where you try to see if they’re beyond a one-time wonder.

Sudheer Verma, the director of Dohchay, you are tempted to utter, is in a hangover with Swamy Ra Ra, but there’s none denying his ability to fine tune his style with content. It’s a crime comedy again in quest for a larger scale, with the budget and the actor at least. This combination with the content isn’t the best, but, you get a decent bargain.

There’s a wave of tributes as you tread past this. You occasionally hear a Kill-Bill themed ringtone. The film takes off with a Siva reference in a robber’s apartment. The RGV-worship gets more sincere in a matter of time. A mini rewind to Paresh Rawal in Kshana Kshanam strikes.

The lead actor’s birthday is up and a Swati Mutyapu Jhallulalo plays on a radio set. More than the cardboard-like plot in place, Dohchay is more interesting with many more little stretches such as these.

And to top it all, a Brahmanandam is on board for a saviour act. The Kill Bill Pandey in Race Gurram then becomes Tempting Star here. He’s aided by Saptagiri soon. They’re the ones bringing the formulaic touches.

Naga Chaitanya showcases more command over his demeanours than the inconsistent Oka Laila Kosam days. As you expect, the difference is a director, who’s more in control of his purpose. The narrative besides the occasional sparkles apart has a fluffy, cozy exterior.

Kriti Sanon, unlike her rather subtle beginnings, is a talkative do-nothing. She looks a fashion designer’s dream in terms of appearance and well, about the performance, you really know better. The industry, meanwhile, is heading towards an interesting phase of anti-stereotyping. The girl is the one to lit up a cigarette and it’s her man doing the chiding.

The reason that, you can consider Dohchay above a rather decent Bandipotu, is the consistent madness that the latter sorely missed. On the other front, isn’t it more comfortable seeing Chaitanya out-smarting the baddies than say, a more friendly appearing Allari Naresh? The music is trendier and the technique nearly helps accomplish the maker’s modest aims.

If the first hour is for the mortals chasing technique, filmmaking nostalgia, the other is for the ones high-five’ing at staple diets. The director’s show reel is the former and the latter is dedicated to the star, Naga Chaitanya. The viewer gets a good mix of both. If it’s a magnum-opus that you expect though, you’re at the wrong screen. Sudheer Verma, more of the auteur, has arrived into the scene.

More of the place than mind- Detective Byomkesh Bakshy Review


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There used to be times when you see actors uttering their lines in obviously low-key films, you yet again begin to feel, “This is another Mani Ratnam or a Ramgopal wannabe doing this with the typical low-base voices, just to signify there’s something important lying within them.” No, Dibakar Bannerjee is way too established a maker to do that. But, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is that calmly sensuous thriller, where probably, bursting the bubble is given as much importance as the setting. Yes, it’s that very film where the external detailing woos you more than the whodunit patterns that get deciphered with time .

In thrillers, there’s never a sense of completion without exploring the place in an equal measure as the characters. Most often, filmmakers stress about the setting being another mysterious layer in the narrative. In Kahaani, we ended up talking equally about Kolkata and the frills. With Bobby Jasoos, there was more Hyderabadi indulgence than the mystery. With Byomkesh, besides a lot of Babus in Calcutta, there’s an additional setting with some nostalgia attached to the 1940’s. The indications of an international conspiracy begin soon enough. The freedom struggle is still on.

The film takes off with an extremely underplayed intensity and a murder to follow it up. The detective-air, as expected is spurred up so early. When Sushant Singh Rajput plays around with his identity as a stranger to the city in conversation with a house owner, the latter doesn’t take much time to trace where his second-hand Bata shoes came from. He is so spot-on about the tram that Byomkesh uses so early in the morning that the former gives up his bid to lie anymore.

There are enough clues thrown around. There are people who either react too much or deliberately don’t react. There are mentions of Japan, China and Burma. There’s regional politics. There’s an air of suspicion surrounding an actress, happening to be more of a seductress in portrayal. The intermission reverses every bit of it. That’s where, you know, the maker is no longer after the little answers or immediate needs. Byomkesh is suddenly pushed to be a probable national hero.

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Amidst every twist and turn unfolding in the movie, the film starts losing its bite. The dominance of the flavour becomes more of a pain. There are western influences perking up in the background score.  There are too much of the Howrah Bridge-shots, the lakes, the dangerous side to the place in the nights. This gets to a point that you really tend to ask, “Can we move ahead of the typical arthouse layering please ? We’ve seen enough of it in the 90-odd minutes.”

And when you really sense some movement, there’s a lot of it that happens within a blink of an eye. Some social commentary again and the film loses its direction. By the end of it, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy stays in your minds more for the surreal atmosphere that’s a delicious mix of a city, the tensions and its ways. It’s a joke that the film may lead you to a sequel in the times to come. But, it’s like skipping a meal today to consume all of it tomorrow.