Arjun Rampal’s persona as Arun Gawli is dazzling but unfortunately Daddy does not entirely cash in on it

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Third AC journey (2.75/5)

Starring: Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Rajesh Shringarpure, Anand Ingale, Nishikant Kamat

Director: Ashim Ahluwalia

The Indian film industry, over the years, has continued to shed light upon some of the darkest, most notorious and petrifying characters of the Indian mafia. Whether it be the flamboyant and charismatic Sultan Mirza of Once Upon A Time in Mumbai, the many stylish and deadly faces of Dawood in films like D-Day or the cool, composite and stealthy Ramadhir Singh of Gangs of Wasseypur, Bollywood somehow manages to do justice to their characters that evolve out of the stories of real life gangsters. Ashim Ahluwalia’s portrait of Arun Gawli is dark and engrossing but suffers from some directorial and editing casualties in its 140-minute long run.

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What kicks off in the streets of Dagdi Chawl in 1976, soon begins to take shape around the evolution of the BRA gang and the metamorphosis of Arun Gawli, the protagonist, into a gangster from an average mill worker who loses his job. Just like every Bollywood-gangster film, Daddy also builds upon the hardships of Arun during his early days and how circumstances force him into partnering Babu Reshim and Rama Naik in their unscrupulous activities. Yes, it matches the tonality of others in the genre, but Daddy adds the unique touch to it. The time, locations, costumes and above all, the characters add a tangible and believable aura to the film. The first half gets almost all aspects of a Mumbai based gangster right; from the chawls and slum style life to the encounter with Dawood followed by shootouts and chase scenes, everything is done justice to.

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Daddy follows a pretty simplistic and already explored story line but with a sensational protagonist at the helm of things. Gawli’s character is completely nailed by Arjun Rampal. From the prosthetics to the accent and the makeup, Arjun Rampal is without a doubt the best thing Daddy has. Music of the 80’s and effecient supporting cast members play their part in the transformation of Arun to Daddy, but after a rather eventful first half things start to get a little dull and dark in the second part of the journey. With Gawli reaching his peak as the leader of the BRA gang, Ashim Ahluwalia’s film tends to solely rely on Rampal’s on-screen persona.

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Another feather in the cap for Daddy is that it keeps facts and figures in check. The film is well researched and ensures the chronology of events is not tampered with. As we near the end, the film successfully exits its temporary monotony as Arun Gawli enters into politics. From this juncture, the film sprints towards the end, giving a very high level view of Gawli’s career as a politician.

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It’s well finished by a bold and touting speech by Rampal as we see Gawli being sentenced for life. Despite some of its flaws, Daddy ended it up impressing me. It could be because it does not conveniently tamper with facts or even because of the relentless efforts put into making this film given the innumerable challenges faced by the production unit. Summing it up, I’d say Daddy is watchable if you enjoy dark and treacherous hindi cinema, Daddy fits your genre.

 

Baadshaho is the perfect example of a cinematic catastrophe

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Unreserved Journey from Jaisalmer to Delhi (1.5/5)

The 1975 emergency background, the reunion of Ajay Devgan and Emraan Hashmi with the stealthy presence of Illeana D’Cruz and Sanjay Mishra and a versatile director like Milan Luthria at the helm of things, Baadshaho’s trailer left a decent impression on me. But, sadly, the 3-minute trailer does not end up as a very delightful 3-hour film and hence adding another number to my list of disappointments.

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It all starts during the year 1973 introducing Priyanshu Chatterjee playing a dull Sanjay Gandhi, who tries his flirting skills with a young and charming princess, Gitanjali devi (Illeana D’Cruz). Now, when the very first scene of the film fails to come up with charm, vigour and intent, one is just left with a depleting interest in what follows, especially if it goes on for 3 hours. Characters are introduced with a little background as more details would have been an unnecessary atrocity on viewers. Not only is Baadshaho built on a spineless story but also exhibits a dull and wannabe screenplay. Dialogues are terrible and end up complementing the damp storyline. The only part where Milan Luthria gets it correct is the entry of his characters and a part of his casting.

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In an attempt to confiscate the royal gold the army brings in Vidyut Jamwal who also goes on a rampage of philosophical and stylish dialogues that do not suit his stature or character in the film. After producing a lively twist towards the tail of the first half, Baadshaho gave me a ray of hope for the second half. But, I was mistaken. There comes a point in the film, where the truck carrying gold actually looks more thought of than the characters and story of the film. The characters go on a rampage in the second half as character conflicts, intent, climax, plot and dilemmas are just rendered baseless terms. Despite a whole bucket of problems, Baadshaho gives you a generous background score, which is not enough to overshadow the perils of this journey. The acting department is also on a shaky wicket as on one hand Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Mishra and Emraan Hashmi are the eye candies while Illeana D’Cruz, Vidyut Jamwal and Esha Gupta destroy all that was left of this shipwreck.

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After a lot of chaos and asymmetrical direction, Baadshaho finally nears its end in the deserts of Rajasthan. To sum it up neither the characters nor the plot of the film reaches its end making Baadshaho a waste of both, time and money.

 

A Gentleman fails to build around an impressing plot and a flurry of shiny actors

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Sleeper class journey (2.0/5)

The only thing common between Go Goa Gone, 99, Shor In The City, Happy Ending and A Gentleman: Sundar, Susheel, Risky is their formidably talented directing team of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. Well, to be honest even I was not aware of the fact and after learning so I really started expecting wonders from a film that had glossy faces and meaningless action written all over its trailer. Our gentleman, Siddharth Malhotra, is all the 3; Sundar, Susheel and risky, but sadly his film is not.

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What kicks off with a weird car crash and a bunch of flashbacks with lots of characters does not take much time to get the action and bullets started. The film portrays two characters of Siddharth Malhotra, one sundar and susheel, while the other, yes you guessed it right. Risky ! The film takes a good deal of time to get us acquainted with its characters. What’s good about the characterization in the film is the impact the presence of so many stars on the screen creates, but what’s bad is that the film does not do much to make anything of it. On one hand, we have a charming protagonist playing 2 roles, Gaurav and Rishi (Siddharth Malhotra) supported a by a suave and impulsive Kavya (Jacqueline Fernandez) and on the other, we have a team of some badass negative characters, Yakub (Darshan Kumar) and Colonel (Suniel Shetty). The film, according to me, was supposed to sell on the buzz of its star cast and the return of Suniel Shetty, because the story line and script hardly have any meat to offer in a running time of 120 minutes.

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Music in the film is as unnecessary as an empty station. Despite a lot of drawbacks, the film actually builds its characters with a bit of finesse adding some efficient camera work to help things get a bit appealing. Another merit, which was almost a hooting moment for me was the one twist in the plot that makes me still believe in the writing abilities of Raj and D.K. As we progress into the second half things get a bit interesting as the momentary comedy helps you digest a tasteless meal. Hussain Dalal as Dikshit and Amit Mistry as an American based Gujarati don add a fun element to the script and manage a raw script score some laughs here and there.

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A Gentleman gets most of its cinematic attributes right but demeans its qualities with a botched up script and a dull story telling method that makes the film want to thrive on just 2 minutes of a ‘WOW’ moment with some goofy comedy and Siddharth-Jacqueline romance. Sadly, none of it adds, to sum up a meaningful script. Well, it may have its gloss right, but the route this gentleman follows is not pleasant enough and definitely not advised. Though, if you would want to make a choice between Babumoshai Bandookbaaz and A Gentleman, I would urge you to save money for either Baadshaao or Daddy.

It catches your attention for some time but elsewise Babumoshai Bandookbaaz is a misfired bullet

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Sleeper Class Journey (2.0/5)

Gangsters from the rural section of the country, political killings and dark characters are all tried and tested themes in Bollywood. Babumoshai Bandookbaaz experiments a genre that’s been Bollywood’s baby off late but despite a few interesting scenes and well-carved characters, the Nawzuddin starrer has very less to offer. Directed by Kushan Nandy the film revolves around the dark lives of hitmen hired for political killings in the rural parts of the country.

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The journey kicks off with bashing dialogues and loud gunfires that set the tone of the next 2 hours of this gangster drama. From the very beginning, the film establishes Nawazuddin as the sole care taker of the film, which gets more evident as we move ahead. With his sassy dialogues, cheesy flirting and badass attitude, the character of Nawazuddin looks to be well invested upon. Characters of Phulwa (Bidita Baig), Jiji (Divya Dutta) and Baake (Jatin Goswami) are provided an interesting background and list of sultry dialogues and acts that keep you glued to them during the first half. The scene settings and expositions are brilliant and well thought of. Locations and camera angles are beautifully done and add more intent to the film than the story line does. Vishal Mittal and his cinematography adds a lot of value to this otherwise confusing gunfight drama.

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The film offers a lot in almost every department in its first half and the second half begins with the same passion and charisma. Intense conversations, emotions and intriguing twists and turns to the story line start to take shape as the engine keeps roaring on its way to an expectedly thrilling end. It’s right after an intense chase scene of Nawazuddin and Jatin that I felt the film starts to lose its charm. The characters which were are heroes in the first half are reduced to mere dialogue delivering bodies as the responsibility of entertainment solely falls on the Babumoshai Bandookbaaz. Unwanted songs, surplus conversations and plot points marr this journey which could have been much more than what it is reduced to.

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After losing its course for a good 45 minutes, the film somehow manages to find its destination which is again, more of a crash landing than a systematic and aligning train halt. I just wish the makers would have given the same amount of thought to their story as they did to their characters. Finally, neither Babu nor his stylish and charismatic on-screen aura is able to save you from being doomed by a highly expected entertainer meeting a dreadful end.

 

Bareilly Ki Barfi is the perfect sweet to be tried this week

The Cinema Station’s Rating: First AC Journey (4/5)

The atmosphere of a small town, bold, mushy and bubbly characters, a delightful screenplay, well tied up plot points supported by meaningful subplots and a perfect music mix present a rather strong case in support of Bareilly Ki Barfi. Though another love story with a very ordinary chain of events, Bareilly Ki Barfi impressed me because it sticks to its kin, moves with a plan and does nearly nothing obtuse to overdo its entertainment factor.

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Set across the state of Uttar Pradesh, the film revolves between the towns of Bareilly and Lucknow, with the former occupying a larger chunk of the film. From purposeful camera angles to the introduction of its characters, the film manages to get everything spot-on throughout its running course of 120 minutes. The journey begins with the adorably funny and emotionally liberating relationship of the Mishra family. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, the director, takes her time to get you familiar with the Shastri family. The director spaces out the entry of her lead actors making sure she gets time to build bonds between her characters and develop captivating subplots that help this barfi get even tastier. Ashwini, whose last film, Nil Battey Sannata revolved around a mother-daughter relationship, gives us an engaging father-daughter bond shared between Bitti(Kriti Sanon) and her father Narottam Mishra(Pankaj Tripathi) with Bareilly Ki Barfi.

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Music falls in place laying equal emphasis on both moods, the desi hip-hop one and the slow romantic one. Moving the focus of our so-far-so-good journey towards the acting department, one really does not have anything to fuss about. Whether it be the leading trio of Rajkumar-Ayushman-Kriti or the supporting framework of Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Bhargava, the characters gel perfectly with each other adding richness to this Bareilly Ki Barfi. To support the laudable acting and the phenomenal storytelling skills of the director, the film has one of the finest screenplays I have seen this year in Bollywood. Nitesh Tiwari tries a different flavor after his obliviating success with last year’s Dangal, and presents a comical love triangle to keep up with his standards of entertainment.

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This journey hardly gives us anything to woo about, but even this lovable pulp of emotion and comedy suffers from a few unstimulating moments in its route. The tone tends to rattle you in few scenes as the film does quick shuffles between comedy and serious emotion to pull you down. Nevertheless, the supporting compartments of acting and brilliant writing and a splash of the occasional laugh helps you get past this short-lived lean patch. Summing up my experience, Bareilly Ki Barfi is perfectly rich, tender and tasty, exactly how I had expected it to be and would strongly urge not missing this entertainment riot.

Toilet:Ek Prem Katha: delivers its message but as a film, its just another in the lot

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Ordinary Non AC chair car journey

Starting with Baby in 2015, Akshay Kumar’s spirit of patriotism and urge to end the social taboos within the Indian society has been quite evident in his films. Within 2017 itself, he attacked fake encounters and power abuse with Jolly LLB 2 and now with Toilet, the veteran looks to educate people on sanitation and use of toilets in households. Well, to be on the side of Bollywood, the film does pack a punch with its delivery and surely looks the one to spread the message, but as a film, it’s just another ordinary piece of cinema which misses on some important aspects.

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The film is set in the rural sectors and small towns of Uttar Pradesh in India and as per the film’s mood, it fits the scene. The makers handle the dialect, screenplay, casting and scene settings with momentum through a major section of the film. But if these attributes earn the applause, patched quality of the cinematography and abundant songs that constantly spoil with the momentum the film builds, spoil the flavor. The journey unrolls with a gabroo Keshav (Akshay Kumar), who fears his father (Sudhir Pandey)so much that he agrees to marry a Buffalo on superstitious grounds. As things unveil the director prefers the audience deal with a love story for a good 40 minutes before actually facing a glimpse of the issue the film looks to tackle. Again, the romance is very ordinary yet adorable and it does not take much time for a hot headed, egoistic and educated Jaya (Bhumi Padnekar) to fall for her stalker, Keshav.

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The first half of the film is over stretched as we see unnecessary scenes and frequent songs all valiantly dragging the journey to the climax station. Given his expertise as an editor, it’s surprising how does the director, Shree Narayan Singh, let such unwanted chunks transpire in his final cut. The quirky and amusing screenplay coupled with Akshay and Bhumi’s chemistry helps digest an otherwise tasteless first half. The second half picks up as if in the middle of a roller coaster ride and for some reason, it feels right. The songs are out, the action is purposeful and everyone starts behaving as they should have in the first half. The second half seems more meaningful and more related to the film as it resurfaces interesting information about scams and ‘ghotalas’ related to the Government’s sanitation program. It’s now that Akshay and Bhumi’s love story feels correct as it helps the film progress.

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The film gets its casting spot on as every character leaves an impression on the screen. The return of Divyendu Sharma into mainstream cinema is enjoyable as he picks up his form from his famous role of Liquid from Pyaar Ka Punchnama. The presence of Anupam Kher (Kakka), Sudhir Pandey, Mukesh Pandey (Rastogi), Rajesh Sharma and Atul Srivastava (Jaya’s father) definitely enhance the look and quality of the film.

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If we scrutinize, there were things really wrong with the way the story was built up in the first place. This journey which was heavily disturbing in the first half somehow achieved a stable tone in the second half to end things with a silver lining. Despite, not a very great experience, I’d urge the masses to watch the film as it adds a valuable message to the end of its 160 minutes running time.

Indu Sarkar is one of its kind and deserves to be watched despite its flaws

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Third AC Journey (3/5)

After being away from the theatres for almost 2 weeks I needed something strong to lure me back to my Mecca. First of all, kudos to the Supreme Court for getting a highly debated film like Indu Sarkar out in the open. The film marks the return of Madhur Bhandarkar back into mainstream cinema and despite the fact that he has been away for a long time, Indu Sarkar is a decent attempt to come back to the celluloid.

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Indu Sarkar is the story of Indu, our protagonist, whose character is shaped and set brilliantly in the starting minutes of the film. Indu is a shy, submissive, under confident and stammering orphan who has faced a rather demented childhood. Things start to get better for her after getting married to a government official Naveen Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who works for the ruling Government. The thing with Indu Sarkar is that despite it zooms in on one of the most controversial times of Indian politics it does not reach up to its potential. Madhur Bhandarkar tries to weave back his magic but there are moments where the fault line is exposed with a heavily convoluted plot with excessive emotion, unwanted dilemmas and too many characters.

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What goes in the film’s favor is its coverage of the times of the 21 months long, Government imposed Emergency. The writers seem to get their facts right as we are exposed to the Turkman incident and scenes of people being forcibly sterilized. The 1970’s are brilliantly covered and I should give credit for that to Bhandarkar and his team.

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Characters are perfect; Indu and Naveen, as I discussed earlier are done really well. Supporting characters of Anupam Kher, Manav Vij, Sheeba Chaddha, Pravin Dabas, Zakir Hussain, Ankur Vikal and Rashmi Jha help the cause, but at one moment, they just start seeming surplus. If Kirti Kulhari nailed her role as the protagonist, Neil Nitin Mukesh, essaying Sanjay Gandhi took villainy to an all time high. Neil’s character is well portrayed and sets the tyrannical mood of the Government in those dark times.

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The journey could have been great, but its spiceless twists, running time and lack of a stable tone impact the over scoring merits of this intense political drama. Music does not do much in the film and that is another put-off. Indu Sarkar actually made me realize how important music is to our film industry.

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However, towards the end of my heavily emotional and powerful journey, Indu Sarkar and Madhur Bhandarkar do leave behind a lot of unsettled dust regarding the activities that took place during the Emergency. One could argue that the film is significantly flawed and lacks some basic attributes but in the end, it sticks to its purpose and that’s what impressed me.

Jab Harry Met Sejal might work for Europe Tourism but definitely not for me

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Sleeper class Journey (1.5/5)

When we talk Imtiaz Ali, we mean romance, breathtaking locations, filling songs, impressive characters, real heart felt conflicts, the chilling desi swagger and lots of Indian culture exhibit roped together by a soothing script for which your heart can feel. I know it’s a lot, but Imtiaz Ali has been one person who has pulled it off with ease in the past with films like Tamasha, Jab We Met,  Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar.Well, his latest mega starter, Jab Harry Met Sejal had almost each of the things I mentioned except one; a powerful, meaningful and convincing script.

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It all begins with the typical Imtiaz fashion; a delusional and complicated protagonist, Harry, a song to stir up things and a mind-blowing off-beat location to thrill the visuals. Post a cracking start and dramatically amusing entries of the lead characters, Harry and Sejal, the film sets off on a journey across the continent of Europe. Apparently, the driving force of their journey is Anushka Sharma’s engagement ring, which she loses on the trip. Though strange, the first half is built up by the sensational chemistry and dilemmas the characters face in their quest to find the damned ring. From smacking and escaping goons to singing duets and fighting emotions, the film brings everything you have already seen, which gradually starts robbing the film of the to be expected fresh flavor. Known for his unique story telling ways, Imtiaz once again fits the film into his standard template that soon turns dull and opaque.

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As expected, the characters are well built and do their job with perfection. Whether it be the convoluted and delusional Harry or the charismatic Gujarati character of Sejal, the lead pair is the only impression the film made on my mind. argumentsThe supporting cast is not much in the thick of things as Imtiaz rests this film on Sharukh, Anushka and his binding music. Though his story telling and writing skills desert him on this trip, his music and character build up are the only 2 things that still stick and help one get through Harry and Sejal’s romantic bonanza.

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As I neared the end of this tormenting and unaligned ride, thankfully, Imtiaz stitches everything up to make sure his hollow plot is at least sealed with a mildly jolly and believable end. Summing it up, I had huge expectations from the film and they just go crashing down in the end. Hence, I arrive at the conclusion that the film might have worked for Europe tourism but definitely not for me.

Jagga Jasoos left me spellbound

The Cinema Station’s Rating:

A refreshing concept, art direction to its best, songs that are good and don’t feel unnecessary and a story that makes you feel for it are just some of the traits of this exemplary ride. I went in with high expectations, and not even for a moment did Anurag Basu or his team fail to impress me. Despite the high buzz around the texture of the film, Jagga Jasoos does really well in building up to the climax and finally making the smoothest landing possible.

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It begins on a musical note and takes some time to sink in. But, when it does Jagga Jassos keeps you gripped to the seat for its entire running length. The film was shot in patches across a span of almost 2 years across multiple locations in India and Africa, but, one does not feel the disconnect or gap even for a moment. Anurag Basu has done his homework properly as he takes to shed light upon the Naxal arms racquet in the North East in the most innocent picture possible. The journey unfolds with Katrina Kaif narrating the heroics of Jagga with later going into the backdrop of Jagga’s character. The protagonist played by Ranbir Kapoor has a well-done character sketch with the correct mix of emotion, skill and fear.

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In addition to the crazy cartoonish backdrop which Anurag Basu chooses to tell his story, the film follows a musical pattern with most of the dialogues and conversations in the couplets and short songs. Given, such challenges, the journey keeps you intrigued with its twists and turns and every station stop promises you some entertainment. For a moment, I thought that Basu picked up from where Barfi left by etching a verbally challenged Ranbir Kapoor and a goofed up Katrina Kaif. Katrina, who plays a journalist from Kolkata adds to the balance in the script but suffers from her common expressions problem. I could observe scenes where despite trying really hard she is unable to match the class and effort of Ranbir, which is one of the only thing wrong with this musical-adventure love story.

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Similar to his earlier films, Basu maintains sync with his style by forcing a well written and orchestrated supporting cast composed of Saurabh Shukla, Sayani Gupta,  Saswata Chatterjee (remember Bob Biswas, the killer, from Kahaani) and Denzil Smith. The ride which brings you an immense flavor of Bengal with Bengali accents, the Kolkata tram and Assamese folk dances depicts study and understanding of the culture in great detail. Another part that you will love about Jagga Jassos is that you never feel that the film has out of place songs. Keeping the musical genre in mind, the songs have been done really well and only help you fine tune and get more involved with Jagga’s adventures.

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Well, there is a lot to write and the level of impact the film has left on me I could go on and on. WIth Jagga Jasoos, Bollywood takes another step towards classy cinema as it ends up being a well-ventured experiment with fruitful takeaways. Summing up my experience, Jagga Jasoos is what you should surely watch because there are rare films that couple intent and emotion

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