Saturday, April 23, 2016

Nil Battey Sannata: Review

Nil Battey Sannata is plenty smart, but it might have seemed smarter still had it been more trusting of its audience’s capacity to get the joke, or the point. It’s not enough that the mother should have high hopes from her daughter; the said daughter must also be named Apeksha (Hindi for “expectations”). Conversations are repeated with minor variations until their meaning is painfully clear. Apeksha’s declaration that she’s resigned to being a bai because her mother, Chanda (Swara Bhaskar), is one is then echoed in a talk Chanda has with her employer, and again in a scene with Apeksha and her friends. The pretty score by Rohan Vinayak is crammed into all those passages where viewers might have otherwise heard themselves thinking.

Chanda is a single mother whose one aim in life is to get her daughter (played by Ria Shukla), a wilful class X student, to study and make something of herself, perhaps become an IAS officer or a doctor. She speaks to the head of a coaching centre, who agrees to knock off 50% of the girl’s fee for a crash course before the board examinations, but only if she scores more than 50% in the pre-boards. But 50% is hardly a given with Apeksha, who cares little for school and even less for math (the title of the film—zero divided by zero—is a reference to her ability in the subject).

Much like last year’s Kaakka Muttai, director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari presents the hardscrabble working-class reality of Chanda and Apeksha’s lives without prettifying it, but enlivens the story with winsome characters and one quixotic twist. Hearing her complain about Apeksha, Chanda’s employer (played by Ratna Pathak Shah) suggests that she enrol in her daughter’s school. The logic behind this—that Chanda, who never got beyond class IX, will somehow begin to understand math and teach her daughter—is fuzzy to say the least, but Chanda allows herself to be persuaded. One might have expected something like the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back To School to follow, but Nil Battey Sannata plays it relatively straight. After a rocky beginning, Chanda is accepted by her new classmates; all, that is, except the mortified Apeksha, who promises to study hard if her mother would just stop coming to school.

It’s difficult not to squirm through some of the overly simplistic moments in the second half—like when Apeksha accuses her mother of spending her evenings with a strange man (it also feels like she’s implying that she gets paid for it). Yet, this is also a rare Hindi film that focuses on a mother-daughter relationship that’s blessedly free of discussions about men, marriage and tradition. Chanda and Apeksha don’t always get along—the film doesn’t shy away from having mother ask daughter, “Tu mar kyun nahi jaati, kutiya?—but their attitude towards each other, with its mixture of exasperation and deep affection, feels honest and fresh.

In her second lead role after Listen… Amaya, Bhaskar slips under the skin of the wily, determined Chanda, her mobile face switching from broad comedy to panic as she realizes she’s scrounging for money to pay for dreams she isn’t sure her daughter even has. Shukla deserves credit for playing up Apeksha’s brattiness; it’s a combative, un-endearing performance, unusual from a child actor. Pankaj Tripathi, on the other hand, could hardly be more delightful as the principal of the school and Chanda and Apeksha’s sweetly sarcastic math teacher. As has rightfully happened with Bhaskar, it’s time someone cast him in the lead.

This review appeared in Mint.

Fan: Review

There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, from the early days of Beatlemania, about John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce being surrounded by hysterical fans. As they pounded on the car, the singer told his chauffeur: “Don’t worry. They bought the car. They’ve got a right to smash it up.”

What do stars owe their fans? If we follow Lennon’s line of thinking, the answer is: Everything. They are, after all, the ones who raise them up and allow them to live out fantasies while they make do with a simulacrum of the same: a song, a movie. Yet, fans are also irritants, raising their objects of affection to the level of gods, forcing them into seclusion, even—as with Lennon and his former fan and eventual killer, Mark David Chapman—turning on them violently.

The first, better, half of Fan asks us to consider both possibilities—that fans are owed everything and nothing. Shah Rukh Khan plays Gaurav Chandna, a middle-class north Delhi boy in his 20s who happens to resemble a famous actor, Aryan Khanna (also Khan). Gaurav is also a huge fan of the actor, filling his room with Aryan memorabilia and modelling his behaviour on him. He uses his likeness to the star to enter local competitions as a self-proclaimed “junior Aryan”. And it is with the winnings from one of these talent shows that he funds his maiden trip to Mumbai, where he plans to meet his idol in person and present him with the trophy he won.

When he arrives outside Aryan’s house (Mannat, Khan’s actual home in Bandra), Gaurav finds himself swept up in a sea of fans. “I’m not like them,” he tells the guard at the gate; this doesn’t gain him entry, but it does set the tone for the rest of the film. For, Gaurav really does believe he has a special connection with his idol. He manages to gain Aryan’s attention after he manhandles a rival star, forcing Aryan to have him arrested and roughed up. There’s an electric scene when they meet for the first time in a jail cell, with Gaurav showing the full extent of his delusion—he tries to hug Aryan and is rebuffed. “I’ve done so much for you,” he tells him, distraught. “Who are you to do anything for me?” is the cold reply.

It’s when Gaurav goes off the deep end and starts stalking Aryan in London and Dubrovnik that structural problems begin to appear in the film’s facade. Screenwriter Habib Faisal never gets around to answering why, in the first half, no one comments on how—give or take a smoother nose and thinner lips—Gaurav looks exactly like the most famous actor in the country, especially when key scenes in the second half are predicated on people not being able to tell the two apart. Director Maneesh Sharma ramps up the action once the film moves to Europe, and there’s a decently executed rooftop chase. Yet, by turning Gaurav into a borderline psychopath, any further insight into the celebrity-fan dynamic is lost.

Getting Khan to play not only a version of himself but his own lookalike is certainly a stunt, but it’s a successful one. This is not only because the narcissism involved in such a project is perfect for Khan—who has, over the years, raised self-love to the level of an art—but because his whole career has been a constant exploration of the idea of cinematic doubles, of polarities and splits in personality. Apart from bona-fide double roles in Duplicate and Don, he played a timid man and a ghost who assumes his form in Paheli, and a timid man and a robot who assumes his form in Ra.One.

Then there are films in which he’s playing a character who might as well be two people: the dutiful son and the ice-cold killer in Baazigar; the dorky husband and the smooth star in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. One of the pleasures of early Shah Rukh performances was the way he could seemingly switch personalities in the middle of a scene. Even after repeated viewings, how startling is that moment in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge when he abruptly switches from teasing Kajol about what she may or may not have done the night before to convincing her, with the intensity of an obsessed lover, of his “Hindustani” moral code?

It’s been a while since Khan did anything that involved the switching on of one personality, let alone two. Fan is a welcome correction. Gaurav, who carries in his voice the hurt of a jilted lover, is a fascinating creation, but Khan also plays Aryan beautifully as a wearier, warier version of himself. The film bears little resemblance to what audiences have come to expect from a Shah Rukh vehicle: There are no songs, no heroines romanced. It’s difficult to imagine what his fans, jabra or otherwise, will make of a film that spares neither them nor their hero. In the world of Fan, both parties are entitled to smash up each other’s worlds.

Waiting for Shah Rukh

I reached Mannat, the sea-facing Bandra home of Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai, at a quarter to 6. As always, there were fans outside, enjoying the evening breeze, maintaining the sort of patient vigil with no likely resolution that’s usually associated with religious faith. At 6pm, I threaded my way through a group of young selfie-takers, walked past a man photographing his greying parents in front of the gate, and told the guards I had an appointment.

Two cups of tea, a sandwich and four-and-a-half hours later, I was finally ushered in to meet Khan. In the intervening time, my fellow interviewers—assorted journalists, critics and RJs—swapped stories about long waits to meet stars. The hardened ones wore theirs like battle scars: 12 hours to meet Tabu; 6 hours to interview Sonali Bendre. Everyone agreed that a couple of hours was par for the course with Khan. Several scribes seemed a little light-headed after their sessions. “He was very nice,” a young woman told her friends upon emerging. “He actually hugged me.”

That certain members of the press also get a little giddy in Khan’s presence is a small reminder of the hysteria that has surrounded him for most of his waking moments for the last 23 or so years. It’s that which makes his latest release, Fan, such a delicious prospect. Khan plays a Shah Rukh-like super-star, Aryan Khanna, as well as his super-fan and obsessive lookalike, Gaurav. A Yash Raj Films production, it is directed by Maneesh Sharma (Band Baaja Baaraat, Shuddh Desi Romance) and looks considerably darker than anything Khan has been in over the last few years. We spoke to him about the implications of playing himself and his own fan, and the surprising abundance of doubles throughout his career. Edited excerpts:

Let’s start with a newspaper report that surfaced recently, in which you’re quoted as saying that Yash Chopra was the first to narrate the story of ‘Fan’ to you.

No, he didn’t narrate, yaar. I think what happened was, I was talking to some people in my van, and in the conversation I was talking about Yashji and me and Dil To Pagal Hai. It was completely misread. Or maybe I said Yash Chopra instead of Maneesh, but no, he didn’t know about this film.

So the idea for the film was originally described to you by Sharma?

Maneesh had given me the idea around 10 years ago. He was working with Adi (Aditya Chopra) on Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, so he had met me before that. He narrated the idea; I liked it, but I didn’t feel any of us were ready for it. Adi felt Maneesh should do some films on his own; he probably felt that because I’m a little spoilt and have to be treated with lots of love and care and gentleness, this way Maneesh would get the patience of making films with Shah Rukh. Then, when I was doing Chennai Express, I met Maneesh outside the studio and said, chal, picture banate hain (let’s make the film).

When you said yes, were you prepared for the mental toll a film like this might take?

You’re right when you say that, but I wasn’t aware. I was aware of the physicality of it all, with the make-up and everything. Very early on, we decided there was going to be some amount of likeness, but that he can’t be a duplicate. And we had to figure out how to make him 24-25, with me being 50. So we did a couple of tests, failed miserably a couple of times, but continued and stuck to the film.

We finished the film a year back—the VFX took that long—so I’ve forgotten some of the process, but yeah, it was very schizophrenic. I mean, when you’re doing a commercial double role, good-bad, it’s not exactly superficial but you can pull it off. But this is quite internalized. It’s awkward for me to watch it.

Was it a stretch for you to enter the psyche of a super-fan?

The craft part—dialect, body language—is something you have to do as an actor, that’s your job. But neither Maneesh nor I were certain about the mindset of such a person. I can turn around and say, it’s a love story. To me, he’s a lover of a different sort, and I can borrow from my knowledge of being in love. It’s an entity we’ve all worked on—Maneesh’s dialogue, my enactment of it, the VFX—and it’s taken a shape of its own. We know who he is, but we don’t know how we made him. Psychologically, it’s quite an overwhelming experience.

The trailer brought back memories of ‘Darr’, another Yash Raj film in which you played an obsessed lover

I think the character I played in Darr bordered on the psychopath. This one isn’t like that. We were very clear that this can’t be a re-visitation of Darr, that would be stupid. But obviously, lot of people will say, “similarity hai (there’s a similarity)”.

When you’re 24-25, you never realize the magnitude of the good or the bad you’re doing. Life at that age is based on instinct, love, just being. You don’t even realize how much life will change with your decisions because you’re too much of a believer. So I think Gaurav is based on a 24-year-old kid who doesn’t know what he’s doing, not because he’s stupid but because, yeh toh theek hai na, yaar (this is all right, man)...

You’re playing a version of yourself, as well as someone whose entire life is built around imitating that version of yourself. Did it all become a bit too meta at times?

I can’t divulge much of the story but there are moments in the film which are extremely schizophrenic. He playing the star, being like him but having his own personality, the star seeing him for the first time and realizing he’s a lookal… (takes a deep breath). I saw the film yesterday. I was wondering how I did it at the time, because although there was great clarity from the director and the technical team, I was four times confused.

If we look at your filmography, the idea of doubles, of polarities, turns up constantly; not just in your double roles but in films like ‘Baazigar’ and ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ and ‘Dilwale’, where one person can almost be two separate personalities. Is this a theme that fascinates you?

I think actors choose an extension of themselves for their roles. After 25 years of being a star, there is a split personality to me, 100%. There are always two facets to me; my family feels it, my close friends feel it. I have a word for it—“demotional”. I’m extremely emotional and detached at the same time. Has it happened now, is it in my genetics? I don’t know. But yeah, I have got these two effectively opposite edges where I’m extremely emotional and sensitive, and I’m extremely detached and solo. That dichotomy maybe gets transferred when I’m choosing the films that I’m doing.

Even if it isn’t the case, people are likely to assume that the star figure you’re playing is, in effect, Shah Rukh Khan.

It’s quite fictional, and beautiful fictional. I’m not like that star. Aryan is not Shah Rukh, he’s more seasoned, more practical, more held back. Even in private life, he’s not like me. The flamboyance is also missing. We were very clear that we were not going to derive out of my life and put it there.

Your two releases this year, ‘Fan’ and ‘Raees’, explore darker territory than your last few films. Was there a conscious decision to explore riskier projects?

No. I’ve said this often enough, but people don’t believe me—they say he’s shifting gears. One has to understand that the films that are coming out now were signed two years ago. Raees was just a story I liked—it’s my Carlito’s Way, my Scarface, my take on the bootlegger film. Fan also just happened, as did Gauri Shinde’s film. It’s just the state of mind I’m in when I sign a film.

The important thing is always to be happy waking up in the morning, wearing make-up and shooting, because if I’m not happy, then nobody is happy. I have no reason to act but to feel happy. I don’t want to get into an X-crore club or listen to what the trade thinks or what the critics feel. I’ve been too long in this business. All of it will affect me if it’s negative, but after 25 years, 60 films, 16 hours a day, the core issue is, when I wake up in the morning, is it fun for me?

So you don’t have any particular sort of film in mind for future signings?

The idea is very clear in my head: that I want to do a fluffy film, or I want to do a superhero film, or an action film. But that has to match with an offer, so if there’s nothing, I go to the second choice in my head, and so on. There’s no concerted decision. I’ve never got a film written for me, never told a director, yeh nahi karoonga, aise likh kar la (I won’t do this, write it like this). The film has to be fully desired and made by the director, then everything follows. I want to work with directors who are dying to make their films and, kindly enough, want me to be a part of that.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Emily’s D+Evolution: Album review

In 1961, Norman Mapp released a track called "Jazz Ain’t Nothin’ But Soul", on which he sang: “For me, jazz is all the truth to be found/Never mind who’s puttin’ it down”. Bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding covered it as a bonus track on her 2012 album Radio Music Society, but when she sings it live, she likes to begin with a spoken preface. “Yes, I’m a jazz singer, it’s true,” she told the audience at the 2009 Austin City Limits festival, “but it’s not, maybe, what you might be expecting.”

Emily’s D+Evolution, Spalding’s fifth album, has a fair bit of jazz, some soul, and a bracing dose of what you might not be expecting. Gears and genres change without warning, rarely allowing listeners the comfort of an easy groove. "Rest In Pleasure" starts off with a tasteful jazz-rock squall, which segues into something resembling mainstream R&B, before a wordless chorus turns everything choppy. "Farewell Dolly" is a warped version of a show tune, the Broadway-ish vocals sitting uneasily atop ghostly bass runs by Spalding.

The jazziest thing about the album isn’t the arrangements (there are hardly any horns) but rather, its disinclination to settle for easy hooks and familiar structures. In this, she not only resembles modern artistes, from Erykah Badu to Kendrick Lamar, who’ve used jazz to unusual ends but also earlier songwriters with a penchant for messing with form and structure. On "Judas" and "One", Spalding’s phrasing sounds like Joni Mitchell circa Hejira and Mingus, albums on which her music took a jazzy, fractured turn. I was also reminded of Mitchell’s contemporary Laura Nyro, a cult figure now, but largely unappreciated in her time. Nyro had a gift for dark melodies and seat-of-the-pants changes, qualities present throughout Emily’s D+Evolution. Indeed, the sinuous "Earth To Heaven" could be an out-take from Eli And The Thirteenth Confession, Nyro’s best-known album.

In 2011, very much against the run of play, a barely known Spalding won a Grammy for Best New Artist, beating Drake, Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons and Florence + The Machine. This brought her to wider public notice, though she remains a niche, rather than ubiquitous, presence on the music scene. Emily’s D+Evolution, though her most fully realized work, is unlikely to change this. The songs are funky and cerebral, lithe and unpredictable. "Ebony And Ivy" opens with breathless spoken word, before mutating into contemporary rock. I Want It Now is an even more bizarre mélange of ethereal backing vocals, jazz guitars and Spalding—or is it the alter ego, Emily, which she’s assumed for this album?—theatrically snarling, “Give it to me nowww.”

Emily D+Evolution can neither be relegated to the background, nor is it exactly music you can get down to. The good news is that today’s play list-making, genre-hopping audience is unlikely to be fazed by this. “No more acting these predictable roles,” Spalding sings on "Unconditional Love". Free your mind, and the rest will follow.

This review appeared in Mint.

The Jungle Book: Review

Solidly persuasive as it is, Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book can ultimately be seen as testament to the durability of Disney’s original animated version. Those familiar with the 1967 film will note that very little has changed. Bagheera is still moody and magnificent. Baloo sings "The Bare Necessities". Kaa hisses “trust in me”. Wolf cubs continue to be criminally cute. Last year, The Force Awakens showed there were huge profits to be made from well-rendered nostalgia. Favreau walks that line, essentially remaking the 1967 film for a generation brought up on 3D spectacle.

It may sound like a backhanded compliment, but this Jungle Book is a fine children’s film that’s happy to be just that. It’s scarier than the original, of course, but I would imagine that children nowadays will take a 3D tiger leaping out from the screen in their stride. Though the pace is frantic, the overlying narrative is simple enough for a five-year-old to grasp. “Man-cub” Mowgli, raised by wolves as a member of the pack, must learn what it means to be human. He’s helped out by Bagheera the black panther and Baloo the bear, and hunted by the fearsome Shere Khan, a tiger who harbours a grudge against human folk.

Some of the film’s weakest moments are when it reaches back to its source, the collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling published in 1894. Kipling’s “law of the jungle” is repeated throughout—presumably so children have it memorized by the time it turns up in the climactic moments—but it cannot shed its portentousness (my favourite moment is when Baloo hears Mowgli recite it and says, “That’s propaganda.” He’s absolutely right—Kipling was a thorough imperialist, and the last word in the poem is a command: “Obey!”). Like the 1967 film, Favreau refrains from explicitly mentioning India, though one Hindi phrase, present in the original text, creeps in: bandar-log. Only, the way Bill Murray pronounces it, “bandar” rhymes with “gander” and “log” with “hog”.

Mowgli has always been, for me at least, the least interesting character in The Jungle Book, but that’s not the only reason I found the one flesh-and-blood performance in the movie grating. Neel Sethi, the boy of Indian origin who plays Mowgli, speaks in the petulant tones of a child in an American sitcom. This was offset, thankfully, by some terrific voice-work by Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan) and Christopher Walken (King Louie), not to mention the dilemma posed by Kaa the python, a singular nightmare for those who love Scarlett Johansson but can’t stand snakes. This is allied to to the uniformly impressive CGI, with the surfaces of jungle and animal alike rendered remarkably tactile, as the viewer is whisked from one breathless set-piece to another.

Favreau’s film has been released in India a week before its US premiere. Those who view this as a victory of sorts should note that the only things that are “Indian” about the film are its origins. But, then, The Jungle Book has always been a white fantasy about India, land of pythons, tigers, loincloths and bandar-log. Perhaps one day someone will create a revisionist version, with Shere Khan as the colonizing figure and Mowgli the spirit of 1857. Until then, this pounding, potent film will do just fine.

This review appeared in Mint.

Love Games: Review

Purple prose aficionados will find a lot to admire in Love Games. The film opens with a few lines of verse: “Roses are red, violets are blue, sex can be dangerous, but love can be too.” Not quite Neruda, but still positively witty compared to what writer-director Vikram Bhatt has to offer later on. “I missed your lips,” Ramona (Patralekhaa) tells Sam (Gaurav Arora). And later on: “I like to fuck you, but I like life more.” Which leads up to: “The need for two lovers to be together is more than two fuckers.”

After losing her husband to a falls from a multi-storey in the opening minutes, Ramona embarks on “love games” with Sam, with whom she’s been having an affair. The challenge they set themselves is a variation on Dangerous Liaisons: find a happy couple at a party and be the first to seduce one of them. However, in what I assume is a common occurrence during swinger sex games, Sam falls for his intended target, Alisha (Tara Alisha Berry). He's a cutter, she’s an abused wife—which, in the limited world-view of a Bhatt production, means they are made for each other. She is the missing piece in his jigsaw puzzle, which we know because he tells his psychiatrist that he feels like a piece is missing from his jigsaw puzzle, a metaphor made even more explicit when a piece of glass stained with his blood falls on to the roof of her car.

As one might expect, Sam falling in love drives the already certifiable Ramona even further around the bend. Soon, shots are being fired, bodies are being buried and simple phrases such as “Are you pulling something out?” are being mangled, mostly by Patralekhaa, whose delivery of Bhatt’s English-laden dialogue is painfully awkward. “I’m very bad at this Shakespeare kind of English,” she says at one point. We'd never have guessed.

Amidst all the madness, Arora and Berry find a way to be watchable. The same cannot be said about the film, which flies right past so-bad-it’s-good and lands somewhere in the murky region between ridiculous and pitiable. A final word of praise for the background score: if you aren’t following the film carefully, it will fill you in. “This is so exciting,” Ramona trills in one scene. “Exciting! Exciting!” the soundtrack reiterates. The shining phone screens and busy fingers of the three other people in the hall indicated they didn’t share this sentiment.

This review appeared in Mint.

Ki & Ka: Review

My experience of watching Ki & Ka was enlivened considerably by the fact that more than half the movie hall I was in had been taken up by what appeared to be a giant kitty party. They arrived in the morning, a chattering, excited group of middle-aged women, about 50 strong. I happened to be seated in their midst, which meant that I was constantly trying to separate what was unfolding on screen from their evaluation of it. They giggled whenever someone said “chaddhi check”, the film’s running euphemism for sex. There were murmurs of “Byomkesh Bakshi” when Rajit Kapur appeared. And when an actual kitty party took place on screen, there were shrieks of laughter.

It is possible that my fellow audience members will look upon Ki & Ka with more fondness than I was able to muster. It is, after all, a film that sings, from start to finish, praises of the housewife, the homemaker. Like R. Balki’s 2009 film Paa, in which Abhishek Bachchan played Amitabh Bachchan’s father, this one too is built around roles reversed: that of husband and wife. Kabir’s (Arjun Kapoor’s) aim in life is to emulate his mother and be a stay-at-home husband; Kia (Kareena Kapoor) is an ambitious marketing professional with zero interest in running a home. But they like each other and soon marry: Ki and Ka, career gal and house husband.

Now, this is not an uninteresting premise; few, if any, Hindi films have explored this particular dynamic. Unfortunately, the film keeps playing the same few notes over and over again. During one of their first dates, Kabir gets upset when Kia suggests that running a home is, essentially, doing nothing. An hour and a half later, they are still fighting about the same thing. I lost count of the number of times we were invited to admire the resilience, the sacrifice, the artistry of the homemaker. By the 1-hour mark, the film has said all it had to, and then it just goes and says it again.

Whatever Balki’s strengths might be—and there is some pleasure to be had in the urbane glibness of his writing—subtlety isn’t one of them. As Kabir gains a measure of fame as a model homemaker, Kia (whose own career is flourishing) becomes utterly, irrationally jealous. Just as one is trying to process this late veer into Abhimaan territory, the actors from that film, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, turn up as themselves. It’s a lovely interlude, and if it wasn’t presented to us as an all-too-obvious “message”, it would have worked a lot better.

The narrative obviousness is matched by stylistic unsubtlety of the highest order. When Kabir needs to come up with money quickly, he takes a ride on his Segway at night. The situation is perfectly clear to us, but Balki nevertheless fills the soundtrack with Kabir’s voice saying things like, “I need money. Quickly. What can I do?” Similarly, to convey the success of Kia’s business plan, he resorts to an on-screen graph with a rising arrow. There’s also the perplexingly busy camerawork by P.C. Sreeram, whose use of close-ups is both disorienting and distracting. If there’s a good reason why a sensible two-shot of Kareena and Arjun should be followed by a side-angle view of the latter’s beard from a few inches away, it was unclear to me.

I’ll end with a minor, though telling, grouse. For a film this saintly, I was disappointed to note the replacement of one kind of prejudice (against housewives) with another (against hired help). Kia and Kabir’s maid is shown to be untrustworthy, which is then used as justification by Kabir to install a spycam to keep track of her activities while they are on holiday. That’s the problem with making a film that considers itself a sort of public service. The higher you raise yourself, the farther you have to fall.

This review appeared in Mint.