Janata Garage review

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It was during the audio release function of ‘Temper’  that Jr. NTR goaded his fans into watching Temper. The movie also marked the beginning of a purple patch for him. Before the release of Temper many had dubbed him as a waning force, but he proved the naysayers wrong on two counts after the release.

First is obviously to those people who doubted that if Jr.NTR was still the box office draw that he used to be. Second was an answer to those people that sniggered at him for their perception of him. They thought he only chased directors who had a super hit as their last release. With Temper, he gave a hit and also proved that he doesn’t chase directors with super hits in their resume.

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Saikumar’s character while speaking of Jr.NTR’s says, ‘very balanced, more dangerous.’ With a little change, Jr.NTR can also be spoken of as an actor – very balanced, more effective.

When Oopiri released in March this year, people came to know that Jr. NTR was the driving force behind the film and had to refuse Karthi’s role in the movie because he was with the look for Nannaku Prematho. When I saw the film, I felt that Jr.NTR couldn’t have handled the subtle scenes and it was better for the film that he made way for Karthi.

Janata Garage has a couple of scenes which are a slap to my thinking. The entire episode involving Rajeev Kanakala has Jr.NTR elevating his acting to another level without actually raising his voice. Similarly, the scene with Samantha, her parents and Mohanlal is one which will make you reconsider the preconceived notions about his acting. He acts brilliantly in the scene. It’s also ironic that Mohanlal moves away from the frame so that Jr.NTR can take centerstage.

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Jr.NTR is the best dancer in the country. Period. He sets the screen ablaze whenever he gets a chance to shake his leg. Jr. NTR has tremendous acting chops. He could deliver on intense roles by getting loud. But can he be subtle and yet deliver? The answer from Janata Garage is a resounding yes. The fight where he explains nature’s fury and a few more sequences are indicators to that. He can also shift gears easily as he does after getting slapped. He stays silent for a little while and demonstrates his fury. All of this happens in a matter of seconds.

What can be said of Mohanlal that is left unsaid? He is so brilliant in the scenes even where he doesn’t have a dialogue to utter.  He spends most of the second half sitting in an arm chair, yet he conveys the anguish, joy and pride with his eyes. The man is an acting masterclass.

What exactly were Samantha and Nitya Menon doing in the movie? They have a combined total, probably, of ten scenes in the movie. Neither are the roles are well etched nor do they require extraordinary talent. Nitya Menon seems to suffer from the same affliction as Jr.NTR: not being able to judge the scripts properly.

There are a host of character actors that have very little to do in the movie. Yes, they appear in the movie but having nothing worthwhile to talk about their performances.

And yes, Kajal! It takes a lot to be in the frame as Jr.NTR in a song and yet steal the thunder from him. Kajal does the same in the song that appears in.

The camerawork in the movie is top notch. The visuals in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kerala are captured brilliantly. Every single time we feel that the movie is dragging or becoming predictable, Devi Sri Prasad redeems it with his background music.

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Koratala Siva, the director of the movie, sets Mohanlal’s character well. After a few minutes into the movie, the characters of Mohanlal and Jr.NTR run parallely:  Jr. NTR as an environment lover and Mohanlal as a man who can’t see people in distress. Koratala Siva builds the story up superbly until the intermission point. He could’ve taken the story along in various angles. Yet, he chose to proceed with the most feeble of the options .

Though he can build the story well, write the dialogues superbly and get the actors to perform well, he fails in the climax scenes in every movie directed by him. He seems to be at a loss of aforementioned abilities while writing the climax. This movie too, like Srimanthudu, ends abruptly and, sort of, leaves a bittersweet taste. He was lucky that he chose the main protagonists well.

The movie is presented well. I don’t know if it’s a conscious choice or an aberration, but Koratala Siva hasn’t shot a scene or a song abroad in his last two movies. In the present age, that’s a miracle.

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Verdict : Watching this movie is pretty much feeling like Australia cricketers in the iconic Johannesburg match. They did everything right, but failed to finish well. Same is the case with Janata Garage too

Image courtesy : idlebrain.com

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A Aa movie review

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It’s easy to describe when sportsmen perfect a skill. They put in hours of practice and perfect that skill. Like Djokovic shifting to another invisible gear when he finds himself under pressure; like Kohli unleashing cover drive after cover drive regardless of where the ball pitches. How do you then explain Trivikram coming up with movie after movie that adds to the viewing pleasure? It’s not a skill that can be honed with constant practice. It’s not something that others can hope to do.  A lot of it has to do with the dialogues that he writes in his movies.

To compare the predicament of oneself with Biryani and fried rice might seem an inane thing to do. Yet, people do it sometimes. Trivikram too does it and he imparts sense with the most inane of the comparisons at that point. Therein lies the difference between him and others.

There seems to be something with his movies that we don’t get in other movies. From Nuvve Nuvve on, he has donned the hats of writer and director for all his movies. In the 8 movies that he has directed so far, he has laid a seed for thought with every movie.

If you have followed him well, it’s the post mortem of his movies that draws us to him after the movie has released. If he can explain his point of view so succinctly to the audience, imagine how he explains it to the actors in the movie. No wonder that most of the actors come up with winning performances in his movies.

All through his directorial career, he has made the star or the hero in his movies don a different avatar to that of what we have been used to seeing him in. Khaleja, Jalsa, Julayi stand as shining jewels in the respective careers of the heroes regardless of their box office fates.

In A Aa, he waits for sometime before he rolls the credits. They roll when the female protagonist says that though they are so close, it took them about 25 years to meet. When you see the titles roll, you admire Trivikram. Every name has the alphabet ‘A’ highlighted in yellow  and in a font size bigger than the rest of the alphabets. You are allowed to retrospect once the movie ends.

With every movie he tries to teach us something. In this movie, he sings praises of villages and the lifestyle. It is delightful to see Niithin behaving in the character that he was given. But, isn’t it par for course in Trivikram movies? A lot of the talk after the movie released revolved around whether or not the movie was copied/inspired from a novel. It affected them as Trivikram spoke about it at the success meet of the movie.

I haven’t read the book and Trivikram accepted that he discussed the character sketch with the author. Apart from this, I felt that this movie had certain similarities with his debut movie- Nuvve Nuvve. That movie got emotionally heavy towards the end, but in this movie he retains the comic flavour throughout.

One could say that he could’ve done a little bit more to establish the relationship between Nadia and Samantha, but then this movie was about the relationship between Niithin and Samantha. The path they travel to give it a suitable ending is what the movie is all about.

The movie flows like a breeze when it unfolds in Kalavapudi. The way the number of days being spent in Kalavapudi are shown is innovative. While the proceedings in Kalavapudi are on, one is gravitated towards spending time in village whenever possible.

Trivikram opens up the story in the train when Naresh, the father of Samantha, asks Niithin not to talk and remind her of death and the trauma. This movie shows us the rarely seen actor in Niithin. He is the one to profit most from the movie. For others, it just reinforces how good performers they are when they are aided by the script. A special mention to Praveen, Hariteja and Srinivas Reddy for their hilarious performances. What can be said about Rao Ramesh that has been left unsaid? He sizzles, more so  when he gets to close the movie.

Verdict: Not the best work of Trivikram, but you can live with some of those dialogues for years

Image courtesy: idlebrain.com

S/O Satyamurthy review

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When Nuvve Nuvve released in October 2002, I remember watching it with my father in Vizag. I liked the movie. It was one of the first movies that made me listen. Yes, I liked the movie. So, it was a little disappointing that Trivikram said he could deliver about 80% of what he thought. It was disappointing because I thought it was a very good film and couldn’t have been better.

Athadu was a movie that I saw multiple times. Initially I thought it was because I had control over my money rather than depending on finances from my parents. It was, probably, the first movie I saw as an employed individual. I just loved the sambar scene with MS Narayana. Trivikram was warming us up for what was to follow later in his career with that scene. I also liked the entire thread where he makes Mahesh Babu explain the difference between a lie and deception. Probably we are all tired of reruns of the movie with the Gemini TV logo that the change in satellite rights to MAA TV made us watch that movie all over again.

Jalsa was a movie that I hated the first time I saw it. I saw it again; felt the need to see it again and I watch it with a lot of laughter to this day. The entire thread involving Illeana renting out a portion where Pawan Kalyan stays is brilliant and it’s taken to an entirely different level with  Brahmanandam’s entrance. The movie has some brilliant moments which tickle your funny bone no matter what the number of viewing it may be.

Khaleja (or) Mahesh Khaleja, as it was called , was the first movie that drew me towards being a fan on Trivikram. The entire movie was one thing and an interview he gave to Gemini TV was quite another. In that hour, Trivikram had me glued. Glued to his words, glued to his gestures and glued to how he tried to answer each question by the interviewer with an honesty rarely seen before. It was a movie that divided opinions. I still have long drawn arguments with one of my best friends whenever we discuss the movie. This movie must be in contention for the most viewed movie by me. There was a time when I used to watch this movie at least once in a week. I still do – once in a fortnight now.

Julayi opened me up to the way Social media can influence the thinking. It was the first time I saw people talking bad about Trivikram. After seeing his movies and liking them, I felt that a lot of the criticism was unjustified. I liked the movie and way it proceeded. A lot of the scenes, it was said, were copied from Hollywood movies. Well it didn’t deter me and my liking for Trivikram grew into an addiction. I need a Trivikram fix every single week of my life now.

Attarintiki Daredhi is a movie that minted money. Money for the producer and distributors. Fame for the actors and the director. I liked this movie too, but it remains the least watched of all Trivikram movies by me. It was a credit to the people involved with the movie that the movie went on to become a big hit though the prints of the movie got leaked much before its release.

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The reason I listed out all movies of Trivikram is solely to clarify that I am his fan and can watch anything made by him. To borrow from R.Madhavan, talking about Maniratnam, he can make the hero romance an electric pole or a piece of wood and make it look convincing. There are a lot of things to like in the movie for me.

In the function to celebrate the success of the audio, Trivikram said that it would be ode to the fathers of the world – the least romanticised of the characters in the movies. That statement by him made me want to watch the movie even more. I would say that he didn’t disappoint me.

In the morning, when I wanted to check for the talk about the movie and reviews, I was a little shocked by the tweets I saw. There were a lot of tweets that put the movie down badly. I read tweet after tweet and was angry at the criticism directed towards the people associated with the movie. The questions in my head were: Who sets the expectations? Does a movie need box-office collections to validate its credentials as a good movie?

To sit down in the theatre then and to watch the movie was a relief. I saw the first half and felt that it was a very good movie. No, I didn’t abuse the tweeters and the reviewers in my mind. I am always a sucker for family oriented movies, especially when they delve in the relationship of the protagonist with one of the family members.

Yes, the movie was heavy on values and its emphasis on people following them. I don’t find anything wrong in it. If you can be a little better than what you actually were, would you mind? It perhaps is a bit unsettling for a few of us so totally used to our diet of masala movies.

It has three designated heroines and there are three songs with two of the three heroines being a part of it. How long has it been that you saw two heroines in a song and not a word on the reproductive organs of the hero in the form of gross lyrics? How long has it been that you saw an ‘item song’ without an item girl in the song?

Rajendra Prasad represents the pragmatists among us and it is probably tougher to convince the real life Rajendra Prasads than the reel life Rajendra Prasad. That said, it was a brilliant performance by him in the movie. It’s good to see him get full length roles in Trivikram’s movies.

Upendra is a brilliant actor and it must’ve been nothing less than a coup to get him to act in this movie – his role only begins in the second half. There is a tendency for his characters to be loud, but it is anything but that in this movie. In my opinion, it didn’t need an actor of the caliber of Upendra, but his presence lends credence to the part. Sneha looks good in the role given to her. Same is the case with Brahmanandam, Ali, Kota, Sindhu Tolani, Vennela Kishore and Prakash Raj

Samantha and Nitya Menen are very good in the parts they were given. It’s very hard to see Nitya Menen in a role that’s not performed well. I haven’t seen her in one. It’s good to welcome back the Samantha we liked. She performs well in the movie. Adah Sharma doesn’t have a role in the movie. Period. That probably is the only fact that Trivikram would’ve explaining to do for.

Allu Arjun has a tougher role in this movie than his previous outing with Trivikram- Julayi. In Julayi, the dialogues were short and crisp. In this movie, the dialogues are lengthy and thought provoking. There are some scenes in which he shines only because of the dialogues; the one where he refuses to file an Insolvency petition, the scene where he differentiates between give and take and win and loss citing examples is brilliant. The scene where he talks about his father to Samantha is good too. Yes, he performed well within his limits but it could’ve been much better had he been more expressive. One must watch out for the way he says ‘Chala Bagundhi’ in the movie.

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Trivikram, for me, has a good movie on his hands. Years from now, he can look back on the movie fondly. A general look at the tweets if you search for ‘Son of Satyamurthy’ will reveal a lot of unjustified criticism. Yes, the critics have panned the movie. But they have panned a lot of movies in the past too. To judge the movie by its box office potential would be criminal, but that’s the way it goes.

The writer in him dominates the director, but that doesn’t, in any way, obstruct the flow of the movie. For me, the first half was as good as the second half. While he establishes the characters in the first half, he makes them go through a gamut of emotions in the second half.   The good thing about the movie is the fact that it never  makes you feel sympathetic towards the plight of the hero. That’s because you know he has done the right thing, but there is a sigh of relief every time the hero redeems himself.

Verdict: It felt good to watch a Trivikram film and I will watch it repeatedly regardless of the box office fate of the movie

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Thoughts on Rabhasa

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When the song ‘Raakasi Raakasi’ was released I couldn’t help but wonder as to why box office success is eluding NTR for a long time. He can act well, dance well, emote well and probably is the best modulator of voice in Telugu Film Industry now. Now we can add singing to the repertoire as well.

NTR, in a short span of thirteen years, can claim to have been through a lot that very few actors can claim to have. Ever since he appeared on the marquee as a child artiste in Bala Ramayanam, he was earmarked for stardom. It was not a question of if, but when! His debut film was an unmitigated disaster. His second film, helmed by SS Rajamouli, was a fair indicator of his capabilities than his first.

Though he rose to stardom with Aadi, there was a frequent criticism, not untrue, that he tried to use lineage to the maximum possible effect. A lot of people were of the opinion that he grew in the industry with sheer willpower. From being a mascot of a specific caste to being dropped like a hot potato by the same people- NTR has seen it all. Probably, this being out of favour with some influential people has affected his standing in the industry as well.

The last blockbuster we had from NTR was Adurs- whatever the makers of Badshah do to convince you, don’t believe that it’s a blockbuster. He campaigned for TDP while the shooting of Adurs was on. At that time, going by the way he spoke at the road shows, he was considered a Chief Minister candidate in the future- once again in the footsteps of his much revered grandfather. Though TDP are in power, his name is not heard in the circles that matter.

The experiences- good or bad- leave you a changed man. NTR, much like all of us, was also a changed man. Gone was the man, who was on the threshold of Superstardom. Instead we have an actor who is struggling to add a blockbuster to his filmography. He has himself to blame for trusting the directors rather than the script.

His choices after Yamadonga make you feel that he wants to knock on the doors of Superstardom again. Nothing else can explain him acting in two Meher Ramesh movies in three years. If Kantri had shades of Mahesh Babu from Pokiri in it, Homo Sapiens are still trying to figure out the mess that Shakti was. Apart from Brindavanam and the aforementioned movies, there hasn’t been a movie of NTR (after Yamadonga) which has been helmed by a director without a super hit or a blockbuster as his previous movie.

Probably not craving for the blockbuster might set the actor and performer in him free. He needs to be particularly careful while choosing his movies in future.

Santosh Srinivas was a cinematographer before he earned his chance as a director for Kandireega. Kandireega was watchable only because of Sonu Sood. He took a lot of time to make Rabhasa. Yes, he fell sick during the making but all he could come up with a brilliant performer at hand was a mixture of Ready, Mirchi and Don Seenu.

There were a lot of stories doing the rounds of the disagreements between NTR and Santosh, but they were all squashed by the parties concerned. If at all the stories were true, then they must have been because of the poor execution by Santosh.

Bluntly said, it’s difficult to see him get a chance to direct the big stars in the near future

Samantha has completed her transition from a beautiful lady to a glamour doll. While it’s good to see her trying for versatility, you would still love to see her enact the sort of roles she did in the initial part of her career and the one she did in Manam. Every attempt to get closer to the masses (so-called!) with her skin show has resulted in her falling flat on her face. A quick question to herself can untangle her from the dilemma that she finds herself in- will people remember Samantha from Ye Maaya Chesaave or Alludu Seenu ?

 

It is baffling to see Praneetha laying waste to a golden chance provided by the blockbuster that Attarintiki Daredhi was. Only she can explain why she agreed to the two bit role in the movie. She will soon find herself relegated to inconsequential roles if she doesn’t choose carefully.

 

There are a lot of characters in the movie and not all of them have been utilized well.

 

Verdict : The movie might be aired on channels in a few months now, which would be a good time to see it

 

Image Courtesy: idlebrain.com

 

Manam movie review

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While speaking at the Manam Sangeetham function, Nagarjuna said, “My father made his debut in 1944. It means that he was involved with the film industry for 70 years. The Movie industry has been in existence for 100 years (sic)”. The statement didn’t hit the nail then, but it did when I was watching the movie. I saw Mechanic Alludu in 1993. 21 years later, I was watching Manam. The man in question- Akkineni  Nageswara Rao acted in both the movies. The energy levels did certainly decrease, but the passion towards his craft didn’t.

 

This movie was the most awaited in Telugu Film Industry. The primary reason being there were three generations of the same family acting in the same movie- the second time this has happened in the movie industry in India. Vikram Krishna, bore the burden of an Atlas and delivered!

 

The song “Edhi Prema” sung by Hari Charan, has the lines, “Kani Penchina maa ammake, ammayannu ga. Nadipinchina maa nanakke, nannayannu ga”. These lines capture the mood of the movie brilliantly. If we sit down to narrate the movie to someone, it might not have the same effect on him/her as watching the movie would. When you listen, a lot of the sequences might appear contrived but while watching the same on the screen, it might tug at your heartstrings.

 

Nagarjuna had the meatiest of the roles in the movie and was brilliant. His chemistry with Samantha was crackling. Shriya Saran was the designated heroine for him and their episodes were shot brilliantly, especially the parts where Shriya plays the deglamourised part. Is it even possible to make Nagarjuna look anything but glamorous? The parts with Samantha are some of the best in the movie and as mentioned before their chemistry was crackling. It is entirely down to the vision of the director that the scenes looked brilliant on the screen.

 

Naga Chaitanya has the next meatiest role in the movie. He has improved a lot and looked the part in both the roles he played in the movie. His chemistry with his grandfather and father can surprise a lot of us. He looked so at ease while performing with them that it was surprising. Hope this movie will act as a springboard for him to better roles in the future. It looked as if he had a blast shooting for the “Piyo Piyo re” song. Probably Ram Gopal Varma summed it up the best for him

 

Samantha has appeared in what is her best performance to date. She is good in her parts with Naga Chaitanya and brilliant in her scenes with Nagarjuna. It would take a lot from her to eclipse this effort of hers in her upcoming movies.

 

Shriya also performed well in both the roles and the entire marriage episode with Nagarjuna has to be amongst the best scenes in the movie.

 

ANR has the least role in the movie, but leaves you impacted the most. Most of his dialogues in the movie have a profound feeling to it . If there are three generations of the family in the movie, am sure there are four generations of a family watching the movie. That, in a nutshell, encapsulates what ANR means to the Telugu Film Industry. As the promotion of the movie said, ANR lives on.

 

Anoop Ruben gave good audio for the movie and his BGM was also very good. Harshvardhan wrote some very good dialogues for the movie. They both were the ideal foils for the captain of the ship, the director. When you see the movie, you would realize the attention to detail that the director paid. There is a sequence where Naga Chaitanya draws anklets on a monkey on the wall. It serves as a perfect recall from what had happened earlier. We have earlier been witness to attempts where we were introduced to jargon like chaos theory, butterfly effect and such terms. Here they used the words ‘Cosmic Balance’, and it is easy to interpret the idea as the director made it easy for us.

 

Amala and Akhil make guest appearances in the movie. It would be criminal to call Akhil’s part as a guest role as the makers themselves said that it was the debut of their ‘Sisindri’. Let it be said that Akhil looks the part of a hero and probably has the best introduction scene of any scion from any Indian film industry

 

Verdict: It’s a top effort by the director backed by spectacular performances by the cast

 

Pic Courtesy: idlebrain.com

 

Attharintiki Daredhi movie review

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The brief for a superstar is always simple- use his/her aura to the fullest. Pawan Kalyan is a superstar and his aura has been used to make, what looks like a superhit movie. What has been a heartening development in this year, is the fact that the reigning superstars of the Telugu Film Industry have both acted in family oriented movies. It helps that the superstars come out of the comfort zone to act in movies in genres that are fast disappearing.

Have you ever noticed that a certain director gets the best out of certain actors. Trivikram, certainly has that effect on Pawan Kalyan. There is a certain joie de vivre to the characters that Pawan Kalyan plays in Trivikram’s movies. Be it Jalsa or this movie, there is a certain fluidity to Pawan Kalyan that’s seldom seen in other movies. Is it because he trusts the director or is it the fact that most of his previous blockbusters have been remakes and hence the scope for improvising becomes minimal?

A welcome change in Pawan Kalyan has been his brilliant dialogue modulation from his previous movie, Cameraman Ganga tho Rambabu. If you notice him closely, the body language in a few scenes takes us back to the days of Chiranjeevi, especially in the scenes and dances where feminine actions are involved.

His dialogue delivery is crucial to leave the desired impact on the audience. He excels in delivering the brilliant lines penned by Trivikram. He is equally at ease while delivering the dialogues laced with emotion in the climax as he is while delivering lines like “Floodlights lo dagudumuthallu adinattu undhi”

Samantha doesn’t have the conventional heroine role in the movie. There are very few scenes between the lead pair that contain the romance that we have gotten used to over the years. Be it the way she expresses her love to him or be it the apprehension in marrying him, she comes across as a loveable girl. Her appearance in the entire Chitoor trip episode is one of the best that a heroine has ever looked in the recent past.

Praneetha doesn’t have a role that she can remember in a few months’ time from now. Her appearance in the song ‘Bapu gaari bommo’ is the only thing she might remember with fondness over time.

Brahmanandam is another person who has that impeccable timing in comedy with Pawan Kalyan and that comes to the fore in the scenes that he has with him. The Ahalya Amayakurallu drama and the entire ‘fake baba’ drama bring the house down. It won’t be overstatement to say that his chemistry with Pawan Kalyan is on par with his chemistry with Ravi Teja and Nagarjuna.

Boman Irani, Nadia, Kota Srinivasa Rao and Mukesh Rishi do what is expected of them- perform well in the scenes given to them.

A special word for Rao Ramesh as he seems to be blessed with a voice that can do wonders to the dialogues given to him, maybe an inheritance from his father. He impresses everyone with his performance in the first half.

Finally to Trivikram then. He handles the subject on hand with ease. The dialogues flow freely from him and people complaining that his dialogues, off late, have been lacking the punch of yore would do well to concentrate a little bit more on the dialogues. His handling of the script and the superstar on hand tell us that he is going to be around for a long, long while to come. He gets to Pawan Kalyan to dance, deliver dialogues with aplomb, display the intensity in his eyes and emote brilliantly. He also knows what the fans want as he gets Pawan to perform his characteristic swipe of his right hand on the neck many times in the opening song

PS: The song sequence ‘Ninu Choodagane’ has to be one of the best song sequences shot in the recent past. The crowd, where I saw the movie, came alive at the point where Pawan say ‘Let’s dance, ya!’

Verdict: It has blockbuster written all over it and rightly so

 

Pic courtesy: idlebrain.com