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John Wick 3 Parabellum movie review: Keanu Reeves delivers the best action film since Mission Impossible Fallout

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Director – Chad Stahelski
Cast – Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Lawrence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, Angelica Huston
Rating
– 4.5/5

The only way John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum could’ve been better is if Keanu Reeves had somehow got his hands on one of those ‘desi kattas’ from an Anurag Kashyap movie, and gone and shot the CBFC’s worst ideas in the face. I’m being extreme; a couple of clips in the kneecaps would suffice.

As hyper-stylised Neo-noir action threequels go, it’s damn near a masterpiece – breathtakingly beautiful to look at, mythologically dense, and featuring the best action set pieces since Mission: Impossible – Fallout. And for it to have been desecrated in the manner that it has is positively criminal.

When it is at its most euphorically adventurous, as John Wick is beating a giant man with a hardbound library book, the Indian censor board decides that watching this death in particular – despite the film having shown dozens of other deaths already – is too much for an adult human to handle. And so it arbitrarily slices and dices important scenes, making up its own rules as it goes along, guided by a wonky moral compass.

Watch the John Wick 3: Chapter 3 – Parabellum here

It’s disappointing, to be sure, but this is John Wick we’re talking about – it is said that he once killed three men in a bar with a pencil (a pencil!). He is a man of focus, commitment, and sheer will. He can smash mountains, bury oceans and escape the light. He can do better than a bunch of bored uncles.

Not two weeks have passed since the events of the first film, when that poor fool decided to kill John Wick’s dog and ended up incurring that wrath of his alter ego, the Baba Yaga. In those two weeks, John Wick has taken down literally hundreds of New York’s finest Russian gangsters, gone on an Italian ‘vacation’, and has thumbed his nose at the High Table – the mythical government of sorts in this fictional world of assassins and a$$holes.

This makes him a man on the run, with nowhere to hide and an entire city’s worth of assassins hot on his trail, looking to grab a slice of that $14 million bounty.

Like its two predecessors, it navigates between highbrow cinema and schlocky garbage better than Sebastian Vettel around a race track. At one point John visits a theatre named after the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky; and then there are the requisite nods to spaghetti westerns and Hong Kong gun-fu. It is, however, also a film in which a dog bites a man in the crotch multiple times. And through cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s lens, even the campiest bits look like high art.

It’s fabulously lean, plot wise – John Wick has a target on his back, and he must fight to have it removed. This takes him to Casablanca, where he meets up with an old friend (and possibly flame?) played by the perfectly cast Halle Berry. Keanu Reeves – bless his pure heart – isn’t the best actor in the world (likely even his street), but in just a couple of scenes manages to convey years of history with Sofia, Berry’s character. Their partnership was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film, and I can’t wait for them to team up again in future instalments.

The dense world building that was teased in the first couple of John Wicks is more fleshed out in this one, with the introduction of an even higher power – the Elder, who apparently outranks even the High Table, and is the only one who can grant him forgiveness. If the John Wick series is one giant metaphor for Catholicism (as I fully believe it is) then the Elder is sort of like the Pope. The film’s themes of guilt and penance, sin and salvation certainly suggest so. Although it could just as easily be a film about surviving in a corporate jungle, bound by rules and bureaucracy.

John Wick 3 is a film with many adversaries, but not necessarily a villain – in all honesty, I would contend its biggest nemesis is the CBFC. As per usual, a vast majority of the men who are sent to stop John Wick are merely faceless obstacles that he must slice and shoot his way through. In that regard, the third film is closer to resembling a video game than the previous entries in this unlikely franchise. After every immaculately choreographed fight, John Wick levels up, until he arrives, exhausted but evolved, for the boss battle.

Mark Dacascos stars as the primary antagonist, Zero, whom he plays like a cross between a fanboy and a samurai. The tone of their final showdown wasn’t unlike Grigor Dimitrov challenging his idol Roger Federer at Wimbledon. And despite John Wick 3 being the only Hollywood film to satisfactorily utilise the talents of The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman, in the end even the henchmen that they play are too awestruck by John Wick’s legend.

As one should be, I suppose. At three films old now, director Chad Stahelski is clearly onto something. A part of me wishes for him to branch out, to tell new stories; but a bigger part of me wants him to keep making these movies until glamorising guns like this becomes un-PC.

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The Secret Of The Palamu Fort: An Interesting take on valor with a good mixture of mythology and mystery!

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Book Title: The Secret Of The Palamu Fort
Author: Razi
Format:
Paperback

About the Book
Someone has risen from the dead and is haunting the sinister ruins of the Palamu Fort, situated in the mystical land of Jharkhand.

A few hundred kilometers from the fort, in the capital city Ranchi, a History Professor of St. Xavier’s college is murdered at his home. The witnesses claim he was killed by a ghost!

The police is clueless. Inspector Patrick Minj ropes in Detective Robin Horo, who unearths a clue which indicates that the murder has a bloody trail running as far as 350 years in the history of Jharkhand. A poisonous conspiracy was plotted centuries ago in the Kingdom of Palamu that designed the downfall of an empire and forced the king to hide his legacy in the unforgiving and indifferent womb of time.

The ghost is leaving behind a trail of dead bodies and to solve the case Robin has nothing but an Artifact that is said to have an ancient curse over it and a centuries old riddle that if solved, could lead to an Elixir.

Witness the conspiracy unfolding that spans 350 years in the making and takes Robin and his companions on a labyrinthine adventure involving deadly secrets, dangerous threats and a lethal encounter with a beast in the jungles of Palamu.

Review

The Secret Of The Palamu Fort is a thriller with a twist of Ghost. The story is set up in the city of Ranchi, with Robin, the protagonist who is also a detective who is capable of solving every case. This is the mystery of a “ghost” who is killing people in order to protect “treasure” of King of Palamu. This ghost is rumored to be Satyabhama, the right hand of the king. There are unsolved murders before Rabin takes up the case. Will he be able to solve them?

With a book title which is interesting and mysterious, with a defining cover image of an abstract art of a warrior at a war scene, story is a good read without any drawbacks.

With a great mysterious plot-line, many subplots in the main story and a sequence of mystery elements, this book has well scripted characters that makes the narration an engaging one. An easy language with good vocabulary is observed in the story which makes a reader to pick up the book and read it to satiate the mystery hunger.

Book Review by Swapna Peri

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Judgementall Hai Kya movie review: Kangana Ranaut dazzles in a film about mind games

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Judgementall Hai Kya Director – Prakash Kovelamudi
Cast – Rajkummar Rao, Kangana Ranaut, Jimmy Sheirgill, Amyra Dastur
Rating – 4/5

We first see her upside down but also right side up. When we meet Kangana Ranaut in Judgementall Hai Kya, we see her feet, mid-air and upside-down. They happen to be surrounded by framed pictures of Ranaut in outlandish, overdone costumes: as Pamela Anderson in the red Baywatch swimsuit, or wearing Angelina Jolie’s distinctive Maleficent horns. She’s doing yoga, a headstand against a wall-ful of photos she regularly gets taken, then photoshopped — much like Govinda used to put up pictures as a cop and a lawyer in Raja Babu.

Ranaut plays Bobby Grewal Batliwala in Judgementall Hai Kya, a half-Punjabi half-Parsi girl who grew up with the trauma of her parents death, and has since taken to folding paper boats and birds out of bad news, or, more specifically, the grisliest newspaper reports about domestic violence. She’s an impassioned dubbing artist who gets pictures taken imagining herself in roles she’s only voiced for local markets. While she is “comfortable” volunteering to spend months in a psychiatric facility, she doesn’t like her medication. This girl plays carrom with her Zoloft.

Bobby, as you may have gathered, is quite a character. The audience gets to know her alongside the childhood scarring she faced and is given a gradual awareness of her mental fragility, or else we would conveniently have called her ‘quirky.’ Later in Judgementall Hai Kya, a theatre director, ignorant of all her past and labels, marvels at her pluck: to him she’s simply a manic pixie dream girl. It makes me wonder if Bobby needed to be freer of our judgement, or, conversely, whether most manic-pixie heroines need medication.

Judgementall Hai Kya, directed by Prakash Kovelamudi and written by Kanika Dhillon, looks like a slick, snappy comedy but there is so much more to this smart, significant satire. This is a film about gaslighting, the relentless psychological manipulation intended to discredit people in order to nullify their version of events. It is about insensitively and eagerly labelling a condition instead of offering empathy. It is about trying to ‘handle,’ not help.

The treatment is delicious. Daniel B George, composer for Sriram Raghavan films like Johnny Gaddaar, keeps the vibe groovy, accentuating the changing moods while playfully misleading the audience. During a police investigation, his background score unmistakably borrows from Ray Manzarek’s keyboard solo from Riders On The Storm — a song with killers, roads, brains and toads, about fatal hitchhikers who may in fact be illusions. Nothing in this layered film is by accident.

If it were, cinematographer Pankaj Kumar would ensure the accidents look bloody good. There is a glorious shot of people painted orange and bleeding black I won’t soon forget, and Kumar, one of the finest directors of photography working today (Haider, Ship Of Theseus, Tumbbad) has wonkier and more subversive fun with this film as he plays up Bobby’s oversaturated world, and tinkers with frame-rate and contrast to depict her (and possibly our) mental states.

Judgementall Hai Kya wears the clothes of a murder-thriller. Nosy Dadar landlady Bobby develops a fixation on her tenant, convinced he’s out to commit a crime. Things take a fearful turn and Bobby is devastated: was she right all along, has she willed the situation to happen, or was she so desperate to prove her fixation that she took things into her own hands? Her tenant, Keshav, fibs about eating meat and smoking, but how can that damn him? As he plaintively reminds the policemen, everybody lies.

Rajkummar Rao plays Keshav with a placid smugness while the camera — taking on Bobby’s female-gaze — takes turns objectifying him and stepping away. He’s a calm man of few words, but the gifted actor makes dryness appear nasty. He gets under the skin, or maybe that’s what we are meant to feel, since he’s certainly captured Bobby’s imagination. Being brusque is no crime, of course — but then again, neither is Photoshop.

The narrative twists and coincidences are ambitious, and Kovelamudi weaves them together deftly, working the film both as thriller and allegory as the pace only intensifies. Judgementall Hai Kya has a lot to say, and not only via smart lines, though those are pointedly sharp. We’re informed Bobby suffers from acute psychosis, and later, when she’s seeing visions, one of her hallucinations calls another one ‘cute.’

Decidedly less cute is the sight of a cockroach. Ranaut spots one all over the place, dousing her house in pesticide and flinging slippers to squash it — this slipper hits a smiling Rao instead. As she loses grip on life to focus on a cockroach nobody else seems to see, it starts functioning as a symptom of her growing psychosis. Alternatively, though, could this tingling of her cockroach-sense signal an urgent itch she can’t scratch but she needs to?

Bobby believes this, as she calls bewildered policemen to tell them where she last saw the insect. The way Ranaut’s eyes gleam as she talks about the cockroach… this actress really is extraordinary. This is a finely acted film, with superb performances from Amrita Puri, Satish Kaushik and Jimmy Sheirgill, not to mention Rao, but it rests entirely on Ranaut’s shoulders and she delivers both vitality and credibility. Bobby may be over the top but hers is a sharply subtle performance, and Ranaut — not least because of the battles of perception she faces off-screen — is ideal for the part.

At rehearsals for a newfangled production of the Ramayana (one where Dhillon cleverly takes on a wordy, self-referential cameo) Bobby stubbornly refuses to participate in a trust exercise. This is not a character who will trust — at least not on command.

Judgementall Hai Kya loses whizz in the final stretch, trying hard to keep audiences guessing even when the climax is apparent, and the makers could instead have concentrated on subtext. The investigative epiphanies, also, feel too simplistic compared to the messaging of the narrative and the film’s overall intelligence. I remain smitten, for instance, by the way they used the 1972 song Duniya Mein Logon Ko with such double-edged lyrical precision.

Watch this film. As evidenced by a man Bobby sees carrying homilies on placards on a street corner, Judgementall Hai Kya knows the difference between accepting and determining something. It is a film about malicious misdirection, and the validity of our narratives — especially those labelled incorrect. It’s okay to jump at a cockroach even if you’re the only one who sees it. From the right angle, a bug is a feature.

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Jhootha Kahin Ka movie review: Rishi Kapoor is wasted in a flat farce

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Jhootha Kahin Ka
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Sunny Singh, Omkar Kapoor, Jimmy Shergill
Director: Smeep Kang
Rating:1/5

In the 90s, David Dhawan made atrocious comedies about the most inappropriate subjects. For instance, if I remember correctly, Dhawan made three different films about a man having to juggle two wives, with fidelity being the gag — I say three, there may well have been more. Yet even this bawdy premise was rendered mostly innocuous thanks to preposterously un-salacious leading men like Govinda and gifted actors like Anil Kapoor, making the film play out like a tasteless joke. A tasteless but often funny joke.

Watch the trailer for Jhootha Kahin Ka:

Jhootha Kahin Ka, directed by Smeep Kang, is the opposite of those films. True to its title, the film is about several men basing their lives on abject lies, but while the subject matter — a comedy of convoluted errors — isn’t shameful, the treatment and the performances feel somehow dirty. When a man repeatedly snarls at his wife, accusing her of having affairs and declaring that his daughter can’t be his own, it shows a meanness of spirit that does not belong in comedy.


Equally out of place in a comedy are actors like Omkar Kapoor, ostensibly this film’s leading man — a young fellow given to far too much ham (who, ironically enough, was a child actor in some of those David Dhawan comedies). The film is about Kapoor’s character, Varun, lying to a girl, her parents and his father in order to get married under false pretences, while his friend, Karan (Sunny Singh) lies to a girl, her parents and his brother in order to get married under false pretences. The lies double up and while there could have been some hijinks in this situation of crossed-wires, the all-out chaos here involves lesser confusion for the characters than for the writers and, eventually, the few of us viewing this film.

Rishi Kapoor stars as Varun’s father, a retired policeman who lies about the amount of land he owns, and while the veteran appears to have visibly refused to read the bad-acting memo, he can’t do much with the numbskulls around him. Still, the actor pretends this is a real movie, conjuring up little moments like humming songs from Padosan sternly, as if scolding himself to remember the lyrics, with an eye on the house next door.

There are a few good performers — the always-entertaining Jimmy Sheirgill shows up in an orange kurta-pyjama meant to stand in for a prison jumpsuit, Lilette Dubey stays graceful in a thanklessly written role full of double entendres, and it’s grand to see Rakesh Bedi find some laughs — but the old guard doesn’t have enough room to save this show.

Singh plays Karan relatively straight, in refreshing contrast to Kapoor who rushes through too many expressions, but the boys are given vacuous heroines with no discernible personalities, and the film’s mounting chaos is never sufficiently clever, interesting or even twisted beyond predictability. This is a film in which a girl teaches French using oversized alarm clocks and pineapples, a film where a father sings a peppy song about the looseness of his son’s character, but, most of all, this is a film where nothing seems to matter.

Comedy, as those Dhawan farces underlined, requires consequence — or at least the appearance of consequence. Govinda would bend over backwards desperately spinning a web of convoluted lies because getting caught would ruin everything. These young men, meanwhile, full of a millennial all-will-be-well entitlement, pile on their lies with unthinking nonchalance, never bothered about where the lies will lead or a way out of them. As a result, there is never any tension, there are no stakes, and the only laughs are unscripted.

Call this a comedy? Now there’s a damned lie.

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