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A Formula Film That Fails to Entertain

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Poster of film Raees

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Raees borrows heavily from the 70s

By Karan Kaushik

Raees has everything required for an out-and-out commercial Hindi film. It has goons breaking through glass panes, an item song with a hit item girl, and the hero jumping from building to building, plus witty one-liners, slo-mo shots of the hero running, a poor and preachy mother, a daring police officer, Scarface-inspired gun sequences and everything in between. But it still fails to entertain.

Raees is the story of the eponymous hero—a streetsmart liquor smuggler of humble beginnings cast in the mode of the classic do-gooder gangster from films like Agneepath and Dayavan. Sadly, the movie is, in fact, a mix of plot devices and ideas (like this one) that we have seen a zillion times before. So even the controversial presence of Pakistani actor Mahira Khan does not help the script. Characters come and go in this movie, but none leaves a mark, apart from Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Majmudar, an inspector who becomes SP.

As the film starts, Raees is shown as an ambitious kid, overly touchy about being called ‘Battery’ because of his glasses. Within the first five minutes of the movie it is established that the young lad has big dreams with the (supposed) brains and brawn required to achieve them which takes us back to most of Amitabh Bachchan’s 70s thrillers. And exactly like the growing up sequences from those films, the camera shoots a Muharram procession from Raees’ childhood and then switches to one where he is all grown up.

Shah Rukh is seen beating himself with a chain and the camera pans across his blood-stained back and chiseled torso. His daring attitude becomes evident in the first scene and the audience’s expectations are created, only to be destroyed soon.

A still from the film

A still from the film

Raees and his best friend Sadiq (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub) have been working with smuggler Jayraj Seth (Atul Kulkarni) since they were kids and now that Raees is a grown man, he wants to start his own business. But the path is tough. A few unnecessary fight sequences and the heroine’s entry do not help the movie until Siddiqui’s character Inspector (Jaideep Ambalal) Majmudar enters the film. The audience is excited thinking that the film will pick up some speed now that the brilliant Siddiqui has arrived. It does speed up and some quintessentially filmi dialoguebaazi between Raees and Majmudar does take place but the movie loses its pace again.

As the movie progresses, Raees is stuck between his two images and so is the film. The second half of the movie has terrorism, corrupt politicians, police encounters, failing institutions, et al but still seems shallow. The main problem is that its protagonists as well as other characters lack depth and detailing. Even after a few daring stylized action scenes, the audience is left bored and listless. The trademark romance, for which the star is known, is missing. There are not too many high points in the movie and it is only when Siddiqui appears on the screen that the audience’s interest in the movie returns.

The film showcases Gujarat of the eighties and early nineties. The music of the film is satisfactory with the beautifully sung Zaalima and the peppy Dhingana dhingana. The old classic Laila mai laila and the dandia number Udi udi jaaye, however, don’t leave a mark. 

As far as performances are concerned, Shah Rukh’s acting is good and could have been even better had the script been any good. He looks powerful and intense with his kajal eyes and big glasses. But Shah Rukh Khan becomes Shah Rukh Khan during the dance and romance sequences, which are few and far between. And Mahira Khan could have done way better if only she was not yelled at so much by her filmi husband and treated like a typical housewife whose only job is to help raise the kid. Atul Kulkarni as Seth Jayraj and Narendra Jha as Moosa do justice to their short roles. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub is reduced to only a loyal sidekick of the hero with not much to do. Again, it is Inspector, and later SP, Majmudar who steals the show.

Watch it only if you are a big fan of Siddiqui and stereotypical Hindi cinema from the seventies and eighties.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Book reviews

The Hill Of Enchantment Review: Ruskin Bond revisits his life as writer

The book not only delineates Ruskin Bond’s journey as a writer but also depicts the changing literary landscape from the 1950s to recent times.

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The Hill Of Enchantment Review: Ruskin Bond revisits his life as writer

India’s most loved and prolific writer from the hill, who wrote his first book when he was around 17, Ruskin Bond, turned 90 this year. In his seven decade literary journey, the author has written more than 500 novels, short stories, and poems set mostly in the hills and mountains of India. 

The Hill Of Enchantment published by Aleph Book Company, is a memoir of his writing journey, with the subtitle, the story of my life as a writer. Bond revisits the people, mountains, railway stations, rooms, and markets that shaped him as an author. He says, characters in his novels and short stories are mostly inspired by the people he met in his life. The author confesses that some characters also portray his adopted family, friends and colleagues. 

Expressing that if a writer wishes to create a little magic with his pen he must find a little magic in his life, Ruskin Bond shares that he only has to open his window to see a magical world – clouds racing across the sky. In the book, the author mentioned how Pari Tibba, Fairy Hill, which he could see from his window, and solitude has influenced his books.

In The Hill of Enchantment, Ruskin Bond pens about how his need for privacy and solitude have inspired his first work, The Room on the Roof, published in 1956. He also portrayed how his frequent visits to a railway station led to the story, Time Stops At Shamli and others. Sharing an anecdote, Bond wrote that his frequent visits to railway stations made him so popular, just like a coolie, he did not have to buy a platform ticket to sit at the railway station.

The book also highlights the ordeal of Indian writers in the days dating back to 1950s to get published as compared to modern writers. It pointed out the change in the literary scene in the twenty-first century, which brought literary festivals along with online forums for writers and publishers. The author says, “writers were becoming faces and mini celebrities”. 

Ruskin Bond’s book not only delineates his journey as a writer but also stresses on the changing literary landscape from 1950s to recent times. The book is an utter testament for the aspiring writers. 

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Entertainment

Yashraj Mukhate collaborates with Amit Trivedi for Mann Dhaaga song

In a post circulating on Instagram Yashraj Mukhate talks about his experience of listening to Amit Trivedi’s music and recalls how he had always dreamt of collaborating with Amit Trivedi. He said his dream came true 2 years later in 2024 where he collaborated with Trivedi on the song Mann Dhaaga.

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Amit Trivedi is known for his soulful compositions which weave profound lyrics, captivating music lovers. His songs spark a deep desire in aspiring artists to collaborate with him. Music producer and You Tuber Yashraj Mukhate had immense admiration for Trivedi’s artistry. In a post circulating on Instagram Yashraj Mukhate talks about his experience of listening to Amit Trivedi’s music and recalls how he had always dreamt of collaborating with Amit Trivedi.

He said his dream came true 2 years later in 2024 where he collaborated with Trivedi on the song Mann Dhaaga. He wrote that he had been listening to the entire Dev D Album carefully in 2012. And he kept listening to it on loop for 3 weeks. He continued to listen to Amit Trivedi compositions in Aisha, Kai Po Che, Udaan, Lootera, Queen, Fitoor continuously. He said he could not stop himself and became a big fan of the music director. He said he started dreaming of meeting his idol one day and collaborating with him.

https://www.instagram.com/p/C4hUSe1osw2/

He recalled that he had to download songs from songs.pk and listen to them. He said the songs kept running inside his mind all through the day. He added that he even remembered Amit Trivedi’s ad jingles word for Fanta, Frooti, Dish TV and all of them.

https://www.instagram.com/p/C35NUIVNz5h/

Mukhate said he always dreamed of meeting Amit Trivedi and wanted to thank him for giving this experience. The post has gone viral on social media with 96,445 likes till now. Large number of social media user commented on the social media post where one user Parth said the Yashraj Mukhate was truly an inspiration. One user said his dedication had brought him to level. One user said a man should make all his dreams come true by going through one hustle at a time.

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Book reviews

The Sattvik Kitchen review: Relook at ancient food practices in modern times

If you are the one looking to embrace healthy food habits without compromising on modern delicacies, then this book is a must read!

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The cacophony of bizarre food combinations across the streets of India has almost taken over the concept of healthy food practices. Amid this, yoga guru Dr Hansaji Yogendra’s The Sattvik Kitchen, published by Rupa, is a forthright work that takes you back to ancient food practices and Ayurveda.

As the subtitle reads, The Art and Science of Healthy Living, the book endows a holistic approach to ayurvedic diet along with modern evidence based nutrition. From Basil-Broccoli Soup to Sprouted Green Gram Salad and Strawberry Oats Smoothie to Mixed Dal Parathas, the book not only provides you with the recipes but also stresses on healthy cooking tips together with nutritional benefits. 

Besides, Dr Hansaji Yogendra’s book emphasizes on the traditional methods of food preparation and the advantages of using traditional cookwares like iron and copper vessels. The narrative portrays a balanced approach, knitting traditional wisdom with contemporary scientific understanding.

The author, through her book, sheds light on the principles of Ayurveda and highlights the metamorphic potential of adopting ancient food practices. She explains how our body reacts to food in terms of timing, quantity, manner of consumption and seasonal considerations. The book adeptly reintroduces ancient home remedies tailored to address various contemporary health issues. 

Dr Yogendra, in her book, decodes the importance of nutritional knowledge to optimize both immediate and long-term health outcomes. It provides deep insights to understanding the intricate relationship between food choices and overall well-being, weaving Ayurveda with practical perception. 

The book not only celebrates food philosophy but also offers a practical view into weight loss, well-being, and the profound impact of dietary choices on both physical and emotional aspects of our lives.

If you are the one looking to embrace healthy food habits without compromising on modern delicacies, then this book is a must read! The book is a roadmap to navigate the challenges of the modern day kitchens. 

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