Movies

Noor...Insipid...

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Noor is based on a book by the Pakistani journalist- writer Saba Imtiaz, ‘Karachi, You Are Killing Me!’ The book in itself does not really tell a story, it is more like a diary of a journalist of day-to-day experiences and adventures along with a bit of her personal life. 

Karachi is a volatile and a violent place to be in, especially for a woman whose job is to venture into unlikely places in the cause of her job.

In Karachi (as per her book) one can be mugged at a traffic signal in broad daylight even within the safety of one’s car. Moreover, the only way to get a can of beer is through a bootlegger. How such an account fit into an Indian metropolis like Mumbai is a question?  Also, our readers are not into the habit of reading by-lines in news reports or articles and recognize only a few TV anchors. So a film on one such greenhorn journalist’s life would hardly be of interest to a viewer. 

The character of Sonakshi Sinha is a Page 3 journalist working for a content providing agency. She nurses a desire to become a real, hard core reporter covering more serious matters. She even keeps applying to the news channel CNN only to be rejected each time. The people in her life are her father played by MK Raina, maid Smita Tambe, friends Kanan Gill and Shibani Dandekar, her boss Manish Chaudhary, and a cat.

Moving around the by lanes of Mumbai in search for stories in attempts to capture the unusual happenings in Mumbai, she is bored of her mundane assignments. Then, she finally thinks she has a story breaking which will bring her into the limelight. 

Sonakshi’s story is about a huge human-organ racket. 

Meanwhile, during one of her social circuit outings, Sonakshi meets an ex-CNN photographer, Purab Kohli. She finds him hot and takes the relationship further. That is when her exclusive story, her break to big time journalism, goes out of her control.

After a good start, one expects the film to pack something interesting. But, as it moves further, it only goes downhill. The narration meanders as Sonakshi oscillates between self-pity and ambition.

To add to the tedium, the film takes to sermonising on ethics in journalism. Things become boring and one comes out with mental fatigue.

The book, ‘Karachi, You Are Killing Me!’ did show promise the potential to make into a film and, there is nothing the makers have been able to make work. The scripting is dull. The director shows finesse but that hardly helps salvage the film. The film required much more severe editing. Music is fair. The best thing about the film is its cinematography. As for performances, Sonakshi is okay in parts; in the absence of substance in her character, little else she could have done. Kanan Gill and Purab Kohli do well. Rest are okay. 

Noor is an insipid fare.

Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Vikram Malhotra.

Director: Sunhil Sippy.

Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Purab Kohli, Kanan Gill, Shibani Dandekar.

Maatr...Routine revenge saga

Maatr is yet another topical film. The subject is gang rape and, as an obvious choice, the locale is Delhi. To complete the setup, the culprit is influential, the spoiled son of a politician, the chief minister no less. Sounds cliché isn’t it? So what else is new?

Having set up the basic premise of rape and police apathy, the next plot point is an effort to muzzle the victim. This is routine and can’t be very different. Then one would expect the media sensationalising the case and sitting in judgement, social media taking up the cause and so on. The location being Delhi, a candle march would be mandatory, too.  

Maatr begins on the set formula but decides to go its own way thereafter. 

The character of Raveen Tandon is a school teacher in a well-known Delhi school where her daughter, Alisha Khan, is a pupil. The school celebrates its annual day every Dussehra with the students presenting a programme. The chief minister is the chief guest with his son, played by Madhur Mittal, an ex-student of the school, also attending. 

Alisha stands first in the evening performance and having won the first prize, she and her teacher mother, Raveena, proceed towards home. Stuck in the typical Delhi traffic, Raveena seeks guidance from her friend, played by Divya Jagdale, on phone. Asked to use GPS, Raveena, however, is on wrong path. Unknown to her, Mittal and his six goons, which all politicians’ sons seem to need, are following them.

The gang of the seven pushes Raveena’s car into a ditch. Mother and daughter are carried to a farmhouse and the inevitable happens. Raveena barely survives the assault while Alisha does not.

So far, the film is one of hundreds having been made over the years. Yet, there is no TV channels blaring out the incident, no social media and no candle marches as is the norm in such films. 

That is because the makers wish to take this film off the beaten track hereafter. Raveena wants to settle the score herself. The first time I saw such a film was François Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black”, a 1968 French movie, where as a newly wedded couple is walking out of a church, the groom is killed by a random bullet fired by five gallivanting drunk men in a building opposite the church. The bride, actress Jeanne Moreau, decides to trace each of those five and kill them. This about sums up the second part of Maatr.

After a routine first half, Maatr starts getting interesting as Raveena decides to chart her own course with the police not being cooperative. This too has been seen in various films earlier but still remains interesting and makes the film watchable because of how it is devised. 

There is also a track about Raveena and her husband, played by Rushad Rana. This is totally irrelevant to the film and could very well have been avoided. She could just as well have been a single mother, which would have made no difference to the story. Maybe some more footage could have been devoted to mother-daughter equation. 

The film has a usual which is saved in part by seasoned Raveena and in part by its second half about the woman getting her own. It has a couple of musical tracks which don’t matter. Dialogue is okay in places and the expletives are within limits. Editing, as usual, is the weak link. Cinematography is good and so are the locales. Background music gets too loud at times. 

As for performances, while Raveena Tandon carries herself wellbeing the veteran that she is, Alisha excels in a fleeting role. Divya Jagdale is most natural. The villains as well as the cops are painted in their usual clichéd roles seen in many films earlier. Madhur Mittal is passable. 

All in all, Maatr is a tolerable film but lacking face value, box office prospects don’t promise much.  

Producers: Michael Pellico, Anjum Rizvi, Manoj Adhikari.

Director: Michael Pellico. 

Cast: Raveena Tandon, Divya Jagdale, Madhur Mittal, Shailender Goyal, Anurag Arora, Jayant Shroff, Alisha Khan, Rushad Rana. 

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