Mohabbatein (2000, Directed by Aditya Chopra) Hindi 6

Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Sharukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Uday Chopra, Shamita Shetty, Kim Sharma, Jimmy Sheirgill, Anupam Kher

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(6-Good Film)

Long. Involving. Excessive.

A mysterious, charismatic new music teacher, Raj (Khan) begins at Gurukul Academy, a prestigious all-boys school, run with an iron fist by Headmaster Shankar (Bachchan). He quickly develops a rapport with his impressionable students, encouraging them to pursue their passions. Three of his students, Vicky, Samir, and Karan, find themselves head over heels in love with three unattainable beauties and look to their new teacher for guidance. Bollywood blockbusters are typically epic in length, genre-mixing, tonally varied, and melodramatic. Mohabbatein is a solid film but even among its Bollywood peers, it feels excessive: three and a half hours, overlong speeches, overdone drama at times. On the bright side, it’s vivid, engaging, and boasts a fantastic soundtrack.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017, Directed by Imtiaz Ali) Hindi 5

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Evelyn Sharma, Chandan Roy Sanyal

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(5-Okay Film)

Mediocre. Meandering. Uneven.

A womanizing tour-guide, Harry (Khan) teams up with an assertive bride-to-be, Sejal (Sharma) in order to track down her missing engagement ring. The problem is that she doesn’t remember where she lost it, and she’s traveled through most of Europe. The two fall for one another along the way. A vehicle for Khan and Sharma to reteam after the two wonderful movies Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), they maintain their superb chemistry, but it’s not enough to cover for the film’s lack of new ideas and meandering adventure. The supporting cast is also left wanting for memorable players.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


English Babu Desi Mem (1996, Directed by Praveen Nischol) Hindi 4

Starring Shahrukh Khan, Sonali Bendre, Sunny Singh, Rajeshwari Sachdev

(4-Bad Film)

Awry. Over-cooked. Unsatisfying.

A Bollywood  romance with mega-star Khan playing three roles; a father and later, his two dissimilar sons. As a prologue, he plays the father, an Indian man who moves to England with his family. Jumping ahead, the oldest son returns to India, falls in love with a local, and has a son of his own. Sadly, he and his wife die and are unable to care for the boy, who is instead raised by his young Aunt. Jumping ahead again, the second son finds out about his older brother and his nephew. He goes to India in order to bring the boy to his rightful home, only to find the boy is devoted to his Aunt and refuses to leave. Did you get all that? The opportunity for a classic cross-generational, fun, romantic, Bollywood story is all in place for most of the movie, but the second half falls off. It switches tone poorly from an antagonistic romance between Khan and his nephew’s aunt to a violent street tale. I just wanted the romance.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Dangal (2016, Directed by Nitesh Tiwari) Hindi 8

Starring Aamir Khan, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Sakshi Tanwar

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Inspirational. Gripping. Moving.

Feel good story about a disappointed former wrestler, Mahavir Phogat (Khan), who shifts his dreams from winning gold for India to having a son who wins gold. After trying for a son for years, Mahavir and his wife end up with four daughters, and his dreams seem to be over. Years later, with his peers calling him crazy, he instead trains his two oldest daughters in wrestling. It’s a great story told exceptionally well with Aamir Khan going to great lengths and succeeding in making his appearance authentic. Even more difficult is his ability to make this harsh, deeply flawed father sympathetic, and the actresses that play his daughters are excellent as well. The wrestling sequences are exhilarating. Much credit to the filmmakers and performers who made these scenes incredibly realistic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998, Directed by Karan Johar) Hindi 7

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Anupam Kher, Rani Mukerji, Sana Saeed, Salman Khan, Farida Jalal

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(7-Very Good Film)

Schmaltzy. Dazzling. Wonderful.

Young girl, Anjali Khana (Saeed), learns the story of her namesake from a series of letters left by her deceased mother.  She sets out to reunite and play matchmaker with her father, Rahul (Khan), and her namesake (Kajol), but she doesn’t have much time. Ms. Anjali is set to be married, so if young Anjali wants to get the two together, she’ll have to act fast. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol make an epic pair. As in other films they’ve done together, their love crosses all manners of obstacles, including in this one, a decades worth of time. The tonal shifts in most Bollywood films is something you get used to, and this one will stop on a dime comedically, then break into intense melodrama. I enjoy the music, the vibrant colors, and the lovely romance, while becoming inured to the frequent product placement and bizarre basketball sequences.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-