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STREAM THIS! Indian movie reviews

Here’s some new shows and movies to watch:


The Family Man: Season 2” (Amazon Prime, June 4)

The story of a seemingly simple middle-class man, Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee), secretly working as an intelligence officer for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), was an instant hit with the streaming audiences. In the midst of balancing home life with a wife and two children, Srikant is investigating a possible terror attack termed as Mission Zulfiqar. At the end of season one, we saw that Mission Zulfiqar isn’t over yet. Moosa, played by Neeraj Madhav, is planning to release nerve gas canisters on everyone in Delhi within two hours through his chemical plant. The agents sent to stop it fail, and we see season one ending in a cliffhanger. The recently released trailer shows Srikant and his wife Suchitra (Priyamani) meeting a marriage counselor thanks to his secrets and going MIA at crucial times. Srikant also seems to have taken a break from being a NIA spy and is seen at a desk job. The humorous sequences feature Bajpayee’s dry wit and serious dialogue delivery. The action then shifts to Chennai – his colleague JK (Sharib Hashmi) is caught in a hostage situation. Before long, Srikant is involved. The plot involves a new character played by the Telugu star Samantha Akkineni who appears to be a highly trained rebel. Directed and produced by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. The ensemble cast includes Priyamani Iyer, Sharib Hashmi, Kishore Kumar, Gul Panag, Ashmith Kunder and Mehak Thakur.

The Disciple” (Netflix)

This Marathi language film is written, directed and edited by Chaitanya Tamhane whose directorial debut, “Court” won the National Award in 2014. Sharad Nerulkar has devoted his life to becoming an Indian classical music vocalist, conscientiously following the traditions and discipline of the old masters, his guru and his father. But as the years go by, he starts to wonder whether it’s really possible to achieve the excellence he’s striving for. This is a journey of devotion, passion and searching for the absolute in contemporary Mumbai. Tamhane’s mentor and friend, Academy award-winning filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón of “Roma” and “Gravity” is executive producer. “The story of ‘The Disciple’ came from my own search for excellence and direction. It’s about how many of us follow all the rules and yet, sometimes, find that something is missing. We were blessed to have an extraordinary talent like Aditya Modak portray the protagonist, Nerulkar, through whose eyes we immerse ourselves in the fascinating world of Indian classical music,” said Tamhane. The film was awarded the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI, short for Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) and the Best Screenplay award at the Venice International Film Festival in 2020. The cast includes Aditya Modak, Arun Dravid, Sumitra Bhave, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat and Kiran Yadnyopavit.

Sardar Ka Grandson” (Netflix, May 18)

To fulfill ailing grandmother’s last wish, a U.S.-returned grandson is prepared to cross any borders. Arjun Kapoor plays Amreek Singh and is seen arranging things so his grandmother Rupinder Kaur, played by Neena Gupta, can visit her house in Lahore. She hasn’t been able to revisit since partition forced the move to Amritsar. Aditi Rao Hydari and John Abraham play the younger version of Rupinder Kaur and Gursher Singh, who built their house with love and efforts. His attempt to get the grandma to the Lahore home fails but Amreek Singh has a solution – carrying the whole structure from Lahore to Amritsar! Debutant director Kaashvie Nair calls the film personal and a “delectable mix” of her attachment to her grandparents and her childhood home. “It celebrates the unconditional love between grandparents and grandchildren,” she said. The cast also includes Rakul Preet Singh, Soni Razdan, Kanwaljit Singh, Kumud Mishra and Divya Seth. It is produced by John Abraham and written by Anuja Chauhan.

Tandav” (Amazon Prime, releases Jan. 15)Tandav movie

Saif Ali Khan plays a youth leader in this nine-part political drama series. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar of “Tiger Zinda Hai,” “Bharat” and “Sultan” fame, set in Delhi, “Tandav” aims to take viewers inside the “closed, chaotic corridors of power and uncover the manipulations, charades as well as the dark secrets of people who will go to any lengths in pursuit of power. In an interview, Khan mentioned parallels with the political drama “House of Cards.” “As you watch the show, you’ll realize that there is no right or wrong, there is no black or white; world of power is about the world of greys. I believe that content must be backed by credible performances,” the director said. Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Kumud Mishra, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Kritika Kamra and Gauhar Khan also star.

The White Tiger movieThe White Tiger” (Netflix, releases Jan. 22)

Adapted from 2008 Man Booker Prize winning novel by Aravind Adiga, the drama follows a man's taxing and twisted journey from chauffeur to successful entrepreneur in India. Cunning and ambitious, Adarsh Gourav stars as Balram Halwai, who jockeys his way into becoming a driver for Ashok and Pinky, played by Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who have just returned from America. Society has trained Balram to be one thing — a servant — so he makes himself indispensable to his rich masters. But after a night of betrayal, he realizes thet will go to corrupt lengths to trap him and save themselves. On the verge of losing everything, Balram rebels against a rigged and unequal system to rise up and become a new kind of master. Directed by Ramin Bahrani and produced by Priyanka Chopra Jones, Mahesh Manjrekar, Ansuman Bhagat, and Vijay Maurya are also featured.



Ludo” (Netflix, Nov. 12)The movie revolves around the lives of four people who cross paths with each other due to some twist of fate. From a resurfaced sex tape to a rogue suitcase of money, four wildly different stories overlap at the whims of fate, chance and one eccentric criminal. According to Netflix, “Ludo is about the butterfly effect and how, despite all the chaos and crowd of the world, all our lives are inextricably connected.” This is not the first time director Anurag Basu of “Barfi” and “Gangster” fame is helming an anthology. Remember “Life in a Metro?” It also was a collection of stories where the main characters’ lives intersect. Interesting visuals and an impressive cast stand out in the trailer of “Ludo.” The film stars Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao and Fatima Sana Shaikh.

Chhalaang” (Amazon Prime, Nov. 13)

This is a hilarious yet inspirational journey of a PT teacher from a semi government-funded school in Uttar Pradesh. Rajkummar Rao stars as Montu, a typical PT teacher for whom it’s just a job. When circumstances put everything that Montu cares for at stake, including Neelu, played Nushrat Bharucha who he loves, Montu is forced to do what he has never done – teach. Through Montu’s journey, “Chhalaang” humorously addresses the value of sports education in the school curriculum. Directed by Hansal Mehta and produced by Ajay Devgn, Luv Ranjan and Ankur Garg, the social black comedy also stars Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.

Serious MenSerious Men” (Netflix, Oct. 2)

Based on the Manu Joseph book, the story follows Ayyan Mani, who works as an assistant at the Institute of Theory and Research in Mumbai. He lives in a slum with his wife and a son. Unhappy with his situation in life, Ayyan develops an outrageous story that his 10-year-old son is a mathematical genius – a lie which later gets out of control. Nawazuddin Siddiqui said, “This is my second stint with Netflix after ‘Sacred Games,’ and I hope that people give Ayyan Mani from ‘Serious Men’ the same love that they extended to Ganesh Gaitonde from ‘Sacred Games.’ ” Written by Bhavesh Mandalia and directed by Sudhir Mishra of “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi” and “Chameli” fame. The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Aakshath Das, Shweta Basu Prasad, Nassar, and introduces actor Indira Tiwari.

Ginny Weds SunnyGinny Weds Sunny” (Netflix, Oct. 9)

In this wedding-themed comedy, Yami Gautam plays a headstrong Delhi girl Ginny Gill, who lives with her matchmaker mother and is introduced to Sunny for a potential arranged marriage. But she is adamant to find the guy of her dreams on her own. Sunny, on the other hand, is trying his luck with the ladies too. When the two meet at a wedding, Sunny tries hard to impress Ginny, creating laughs amid love, life, weddings and music. The film is directed by Puneet Khanna, written by Navjot Gulati and Sumit Arora; and stars Yami Gautam, Vikrant Massey and Ayesha Raza.

Evil EyeEvil Eye” (Amazon Prime, Oct. 13)

A superstitious mother is convinced that her daughter’s new boyfriend is the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill her 30 years ago. The mother grows increasingly paranoid and tries to warn her daughter repeatedly. Are the mother’s convictions correct? Is her past haunting her daughter’s present? Watch to find out. This is the first project produced by Priyanka Chopra Jonas for Amazon. The actress will also produce a dance reality show about sangeet ceremonies with husband Nick Jonas. Directed by Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani, the film stars Sunita Mani, Omar Maskati and Sarita Choudhury.

Mirzapur 2Mirzapur 2” (Amazon Prime, Oct. 23)

Its relentless pace, well etched-out characters and nuanced narrative had left fans wanting more. Two years later, the second season of “Mirzapur” is finally here. The crime thriller follows two brothers caught up in a world of drugs, violence and the mafia. The game of greed and power ends up turning messy. It depicts the government and rule of mafia dons and the competition prevailing from the Purvanchal area of Uttar Pradesh. Producer Ritesh Sidhwani recently said, “Bringing thrilling and untold stories from India’s hinterland without losing authenticity has been our biggest win. All the praise that season one of Mirzapur has received, not just in India, but across the globe, is heartening.” The series features Pankaj Tripathi, Divyendu Sharma, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Rasika Duggal and Kulbhushan Kharbanda.

Masaba MasabaMasaba Masaba” (season 1, on Netflix)

Real life mom-daughter duo Neena and Masaba Gupta play versions of themselves in this playful peek, with tongue-in-cheek humor, into their lives in fashion and film. The series scripted from Masaba’s life follows her unique background, the diverse worlds she straddles across fashion and family, and her foray back into the dating world.

Bad Boy Billionaires: IndiaBad Boy Billionaires: India” (season 1, Netflix documentary releases on Sept. 2) This investigative docu-series explores the greed, fraud and corruption that built up — and ultimately brought down — India’s most infamous tycoons. They are diamantaire Nirav Modi, Subrata Roy (of the Sahara Group), now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya; and Ramalinga Raju (ex-chairman/CEO of Satyam Computer Services).

Laxmmi BombLaxmmi Bomb” (122 minutes, Hotstar, releases on Sept. 9)

Akshay Kumar plays the character of a transgender in this horror-comedy film, a remake of the Tamil “Muni 2: Kanchana.” It’s the story of a timid-natured boy who suffers from a fear of ghosts and undergoes a personality transformation after being possessed by the spirit of a trans named Laxmmi.

Directed by Raghava Lawrence. The film stars Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Sharad Kelkar, Tusshar Kapoor.

CargoCargo” (119 minutes, Netflix, releases on Sept. 9)

Dubbed as India’s first-ever homegrown sci-fi spaceship film, “Cargo” traces the journey of a female astronaut who meets a reticent astronaut on a spaceship. With the struggles of her job piling on, she gets better acquainted with the mysterious cargoes that land on the spacecraft.

Written and directed by Arati Kadav. The film stars Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Nandu Madhav, Konkona Sen Sharma.

Compiled by Nitish S. Rele

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