Movie Review: Mary Kom

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Release Date: September 5th, 2014

Director: Omang Kumar

Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Genre: Drama

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has succeeded once again! This drama is based on the autobiography Unbreakable (2013) of the professional Indian Boxer, M.C. Mary Kom. It is undoubtedly a must-see film! I honestly believe this is Priyanka Chopra’s best work yet. Her acting genuinely portrays Mary Kom’s struggles, courageous endeavors, perseverance and dedication to both her personal and professional life. Mary Kom, however, could not have won five World Amateur Boxing Championships without her unbelievably supportive spouse, Onler Kom (Darshan Kumaar) and coach (Sunil Thapa). Watch the movie to find out how she balances being a mother of two while winning gold medals for her country!

The Positives:

1.The story is unique: Mary Kom is continuing to pursue her Boxing career today – whereas in many other biopics, the person being portrayed is deceased or retired from their career. The audience is better able to relate with the heroine while the real Mary Kom has certainly expanded her fan club!

  1. The acting – Priyanka Chopra gets a big thumbs up. She will definitely be winning some awards. The others including the coach (Nepalese actor, Sunil Thapa) and Onler (Darshan Kumar) were excellent supporting actors.
  1. The look – PChops did not take a break while working out for this film! Her makeup/body build was absolutely perfect and matches Mary Kom’s pretty well. Watch behind the scenes of her workout routines!
  1. Stereotypes broken – majority of Bollywood films still portray the woman as the home maker and the man as the bread winner – however this is a prime example of just the opposite. Mary Kom finds a man who is willing to put his wife’s dreams first and he opts to stay at home with the babies. How romantic!
  1. The songs – the soundtrack is fantastic! It’s the type you can hear over and over and not get bored. Patriotic, energizing, and peaceful. Did you know that Priyanka Chopra sang the “Chaoro Lori” herself?

The Negatives:

  1. “Behind every successful woman is herself” NOT true in this movie! The story is obviously about Mary Kom – but little attention is given to her support structure and loving husband, Onler! He is a true “hero” and portrays that fathers can make sacrifices too and be great in leading the parenting.
  2. The story is slow in the beginning – but develops Mary Kom’s character very quickly.

In theater or DVD, Mary Kom is more than worth a watch! I guarantee you will leave feeling nothing but proud, patriotic, and empowered at the end of this film.

Fun Fact: On October 1st, 2014, Mary Kom won her first Gold Medal at the Asian Games held at IncheonSouth Korea in the flyweight (51KG) summit clash. This was the first Gold medal for any Indian woman at Asian Games. Her future goals include winning the Gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil and setting up a Boxing Academy in Manipur/throughout Northeast India.

Fun Face #2: Mary Kom also has started a female-only fight club at Imphal to teach girls to defend themselves against sexual violence in India. Mary Kom wants Priyanka Chopra to become this program’s brand ambassador.

Rating Breakdown:

Acting: 4.5/5
Story: 3.5/5
Costumes: 3/5
Sets/Filming Location: 3.5/5
Songs: 4/5
Eye Candy: 3/5
Length of Movie: 3/5

Rated: PG
Overall: *** (3.5/5) or 7/10

Key:
* = flop, don’t even bother
** = time pass, you’ll live if you don’t see it
*** = worth a watch
**** = A hit!
***** = Bollywood Blockbuster

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Bollywood Movie Previews – Fall 2014

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Let’s be honest…the Bollywood film industry gave us a pretty boring summer 2014. There were very few decent films or blockbuster releases. Not to worry though…there are a handful of potential “hits” with big name actors coming out in the next few months. Here is a glimpse!

Film: Mary Kom
Genre: Drama
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Minakkshi Kalitaa
Director: Omung Kumar
Production: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Release date: September 5th, 2014

“Mary Kom”, is based on the true story about the Indian Boxer and Olympic Bronze medalist Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom. Priyanka Chopra plays Mary Kom in this much-awaited Sanjay Leela Bhansali production. The movie depicts Mary Kom’s struggles of life and her journey in pursuit of her passion: boxing. “Mary Kom” Trailer!

 

Film: Finding Fanny
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, with Ranveer Singh in cameo role.
Director: Homi Adajania
Production: Maddock Films/Fox Star Studios
Release date: September 12th, 2014

Now this looks like an entertaining one – an off-beat light-hearted comedy story about five oddballs who set out to Goa to find Stefanie Fernandes (Fanny). Throughout their journey, they discover love and friendship in one another. This is an English short-film you don’t want to miss! The director, Homi Adajania, is well known for his films “Cocktail” and “Being Cyrus.” “Finding Fanny” Trailer

 

Film: Happy New Year (HNY)
Genre: Action-Comedy
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachan, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah, Sonu Sood, Sarah-Jane Dias and Jackie Shroff. Possible cameo appearance: Prabhu Deva and Malaika Arora Khan
Director: Farah Khan
Producer: Gauri Khan Production: Red Chilles Entertainment Pvt.
Release date: October 23, 2014

Get ready for this “masala” film with a stellar cast, releasing Diwali 2014! Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone return as co-stars once again after their blockbusters “Chennai Express” and “Om Shanti Om”. Judging from the trailer, this seems to be a story about con-artists and bank robberies (quite the common theme). With Farah Khan as the director, we can expect some much-needed Bollywood ‘naach-gaana’ flare!
“Happy New Year” Trailer

Highlights of the IIFA Awards April 24-26th 2014

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Deepika Padukone poses for us on the Green Carpet! (Note: unless indicated otherwise, all these pictures were taken by us!)

         …And the award for best (pretty much every category) goes to….Bhaag Milkha Bhaag!! There was no surprise that this Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra film starring Farhan Akhtar would take home a grand total of 16 IIFA trophies! The true hero of the night, however, was the real Milkha Singh. Director Mehra generously handed Singh the coveted “Best Picture” trophy – at 84 years old, Singh was honored on stage and was the star of the night. As a Lokvani.com journalist, I had the opportunity to meet the legendary athlete known as “The Flying Sikh,” on the IIFA Green Carpet! What a hero – and still in such great shape!

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‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ wins Best Picture

      The 2014 Tata Motors IIFA Awards was a spectacular event – filling over 30,000 Bollywood fans into Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. Although the show itself was nearly five hours long, the emcees, Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar, kept you well entertained with their improv comedy rapping, and Ellen DeGeneres-inspired celeb ‘selfies.’ 

      The performances were mind-blowing! Ranveer entered on a motorcycle circling the stadium, Priyanka acrobatically emerged from the sky, Deepika danced to her best number, “dhol bhaje,” Siddharth strut his stuff to make every young girl’s heart skip a beat, and Madhuri floored us with her graceful dancing to our favorite classics. Hrithik’s Krrish-themed performance, however, was the most jaw-dropping of them all. Stunning the audience with his usual flair and unique dance style, Hrithik suspended all memory of the fact that less than a year ago he was undergoing brain surgery!

Hrithik's stellar performance

Hrithik’s stellar performance

IIFA is not only about the awards ceremony, but also about a weekend full of celebrations surrounding fashion, music, acting workshops, business, and glamour. Even Hollywood’s very own, John Travolta and Kevin Spacey, embraced Bollywood at the IIFA Weekend events. Travolta was honored with an award for Outstanding Contribution to International Cinema. At Travolta’s press conference, I asked him, “If you could be any Bollywood actor, who would you be?” This was his response! Travolta also revealed to us that he will likely star in Shekhar Kapur’s Bollywood movie, Paani, which is set to start filming this fall in India and Spain. This Saturday Night Fever star is even hoping to participate in a “dance number” for the film! Later that night, Travolta showed off his legendary dancing skills at the show with Hrithik and Priyanka.

Priyanka Chopra waves to us!

The flawless PChops!

The flawless PChops

John Travolta's Press Conference

Interviewing John about his Bollywood interests at the Press Conference

Priyanka and John give a stellar performance! (Getty Images)

Priyanka and John give a stellar performance! (Getty Images)

Kevin Spacey, the star of the Netflix series, House of Cards, held a Master Class Panel with Priyanka Chopra – an exclusive event open only to sponsors and VIP ticketholders. The two-time Academy Award winner stated, “I would really love to do a play in India because I think the theatre scene could really use a boost.” His enthusiasm for Bollywood was truly exemplified that evening, as he did a hilarious “lungi dance” with Deepika, Shahid and Farhan at the show.

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Mr. Spacey speaks to the media on the Green Carpet

During the daytime before the awards show, fans had the opportunity to visit the IIFA Expo at the Tampa Convention Center. There were stalls of delicious Indian food, jewelry, garments, and extravagant fashion shows. Parineeti Chopra also attended the Expo to host the fashion show raffle and greet her fans. If fans weren’t at the Expo, they were most likely caught standing outside the main IIFA hotel, Hilton Downtown Tampa, eagerly waiting to catch glimpses of their favorite stars.

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Actress Aditi Roy Hydari walks the ramp at the IIFA Expo Fashion Show

As a journalist, the most exciting part of the weekend was attending the Green Carpet Events for the IIFA Awards show. Over 50 Bollywood stars, directors, and singers walked the carpet, waving to their fans, signing autographs, interviewing with the press, and of course, showing off their stunning outfits to the photographers. Social media played a significant role on the Green Carpet – stars could take ‘selfies’ at the Instagram station and also get captured on a 360-degree video camera!

All in all, the 2014 IIFA Awards and Weekend were a blast and huge success for Bollywood’s presence in America. The Tampa community and sponsors Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel were fantastic hosts for this incredible event we will remember for a lifetime. Let’s hope IIFA returns to the USA in the near future!

List of celebrities seen on the Green Carpet:

Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone, Madhuri Dixit, Priyanka Chopra, Aftab, Vivek Oberoi, Rishi Kapoor, Arsad Warsi, Shabana Azmi, Govinda, Bipasha, Diya Mirza, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shankar-Eshaan-Loy, Milkha Singh, Kalki, Ritesh Deshmukh, Anupam Kher, Ranveer Singh, Vani Kapoor, Nirmat Kaur, Yami Gautam, Gohar Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Mika Singh, Sakina Jaffery, Sharman Joshi, Gulshan Grover, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Boman Irani, Malaika Arora Khan, Javed Akhtar, Madhavan, Richa Chadda, Divya Datta, Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta…and more! Who was not there? SRK and Bachchans!

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Hrithik strikes a pose!

Vivek Oberoi shoots us a dashing smile :)

Vivek Oberoi shoots us a dashing smile 🙂

Complete list of all the IIFA winners:

Best FilmBhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Actor: Farhan Akhtar for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Actress: Deepika Padukone for Chennai Express
Best Entertainer of the Year: Deepika Padukone
Best Debutant (Male): Dhanush for Raanjhanaa
Best Debutant (Female): Vaani Kapoor for Shuddh Desi Romance
Best Supporting Actress: Divya Dutta for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Supporting Actor: Aditya Roy Kapur for Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani 
Best Male Playback Singer: Arijit Singh for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
Best Female Playback Singer: Shreya Ghoshal for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
Best Lyrics Writer: Mithoon for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
Best Story: Prashoon Joshi for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Performance in a Comic Role: Arshad Warsi for Jolly LLB
Best Performance in Negative Role: Rishi Kapoor for D Day
Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema: Shatrughan Sinha

Outstanding Contribution by An Indian in the US: Drs. Kiran & Pallavi Patel

Outstanding Contribution to International Cinema: John Travolta

Lifetime Achievement:Shatrughan Sinha

‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ also won nine technical awards:

Best Cinematography– Binod Pradhan
Best Screenplay and Best Dialogue – Prasoon Joshi
Best Editing – P S Bharti
Best Sound Design – Nakul Kamte
Best Sound Mixing – Pranav Shukla
Best Background Score – Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy
Best Costume Designing – Dolly Ahluwalia
Best Make-Up – Vikram Gaikwad

‘Krrish 3′ received two technical awards:

Best Action – Sham Kaushal & Tony Ching Siu Tung
Best Special Effects (Visuals) – Keitan Yadav & Haresh Hingorani – Red Chillies VFX)

‘Chennai Express’ also received two technical awards:

Best Song Recording – Vinod Verma for Lungi Dance
Best Sound Mixing – Anup Dev

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Anil Kapoor lookin’ sharp!

Celeb shots from IIFA 2014:

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Shabana Azmi, so passionate!

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Madhuri Dixit-Nene and her husband on the Green Carpet

More photos here!

Special thanks to my dear friend, Neha Sanan, for help with photography for this event. Neha, I could not have done this without you!

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Are you IIFA ready?

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IIFA

The countdown has begun…

the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards 2014 will be held this Saturday, April 26th in Tampa Bay, Florida! Hosted by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., this is the first time IIFA will be happening in the United States – attracting 30,000+ people into Tampa Bay!

So how should you prepare to see your favorite Bollywood stars on the “green” carpet? Whether you are actually attending the show (like me!) or watching it from your home, here are a few key ways to indulge into IIFA 2014!

  1. Actually watch the movies that are nominated for BEST FILM. These directors and actors will be the most buzzed about!

Film – Director:

  • Bhaag Milkha Bhaag – Viacom 18 Motion Pictures & Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
  • Dhoom 3 – Aditya Chopra
  • Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani – Karan Johar
  • Goliyon Ki Rasleela-Ramleela – Kishore Lulla & Sanjay Leela Bhansali
  • Krrish 3 – Rakesh Roshan
  • Kai Po Che – Ronnie Screwvala & Siddharth Roy Kapoor
  • Chennai Express – Ronnie Screwvala,Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Gauri Khan & Karim Morani

Here is the FULL list of nominees in their categories

  1. Who will be there?

Keep a look out for Deepika Padukone, Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Hrithik Roshan, Madhuri Dixit, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Siddharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, and Anupam Kher just to name a few!

Did you know?

  • The IIFA weekend is full of events starting Wednesday, April 23rd, such as IIFA Stomp (music festival), IIFA Rocks!, IIFA Magic of the Movies Awards, IIFA Expo and of course the main event, IIFA Awards! Click here for the full itinerary.
  • IIFA Weekend will have an economic impact of $30 million for the city of Tampa!
  • Emcees for the IIFA Awards will be Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar – great duo!
  • Kevin Spacey and Vidya Balan will be doing a “Masterclass Panel Acting Workshop” together! How exciting!
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  1. Get pumped! Listen to the official IIFA soundtrack here: “Do the Tampa” IIFA Soundtrack! and “Do the Tampa” video!!
  1. Catch these videos!
  1. Download the App. Keep yourself updated on the go with the IIFA Mobile app – you can even cast your own votes!

JUST A FEW DAYS LEFT UNTIL IIFA 2014!!!

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‘Gunday’ Movie Review

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Released: February 14th, 2014
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Please note: there are NO spoilers in this review.

Gunday is this year’s masala-packed film with a 1970’s Bollywood flare.  Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, and Priyanka Chopra keep you entertained just enough to last you through this fairly lengthy movie. Although it can be saved for a DVD night at home, Gunday might be worth a watch if you’re fan of throwback Hindi movies.

In summary, Gunday, is about two orphan childhood friends, Bikram and Bala, who are stranded during the Bangladesh Liberation War and end up in Calcutta seeking a new life. They eventually find their fortune as “gundays” of the city’s coal industry. They are chased by police (Irrfan Khan) and fall in love with the cabaret dancer (Priyanka Chopra).

The positives:

1. The soundtrack by Sohail Sen is a highlight of this film (see my “Music Review” in a previous post).

2. Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor have clearly worked very hard to build their sculpted, hairless, and oil-chested bodies for this film – let’s give them the credit they deserve!

3. Priyanka Chopra’s item number, “Asalaam-E-Ishqum,” is a hit! She definitely looks smoking hot in this film.

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The negatives:

1. The action scenes are painfully in extreme-Matrix slow motion. I understand they are trying to create an old-school Hindi movie theme, but even movies back in the day had better action shots! You will get sick of seeing Bikram and Bala running at snail’s pace with their every sweaty hair strand swishing in your face.

2. The dialogues are quite poor. There is one awful line by Irrfan Khan that summarizes just how creative the writers got with this script… “Newton Baba ne kaha hai ki every action has an equal and opposite re-action.”  Seriously?!

3. The movie was too long…there were at least five different scenes that I thought were going to be the ending, including the intermission.

On the whole, Gunday is a light-hearted film to watch with some friends at home.

Acting: 3/5 (Ranveer & Arjun get most of the credit here)
Story: 3/5
Costumes: 2.5/5
Choreography: 3/5
Sets/Filming Location: 3/5
Action Scenes: 1/5
Songs: 4/5
Eye Candy: 4/5
Length of Movie: 1/5

Rating: PG-13

Overall: ** 1/2 (2.5/5) or 5/10

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