wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

Almost every frame of the film tells you it is not about these two sisters, but there is a larger purpose here. Once you give in to this theme and adjust your hearing to its loudness, the film is engrossing while it lasts.

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Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
Running time: 135 minutes
Genres: Social
More Movie Info

Pataakha - Preview

As the name suggests, the trailer is loud and quirky. It instantly reminded me of Matru ki Bijli ka Mandola. Not in a good way. This could be because the trailer doesn’t reveal Pataakha’s basic conflict. And without that conflict the film just comes across as zany for the sake of zany.

While within the context of the film, the actors might seem a little more restrained, in these 3-minutes, the darkness of their skin is distracting because it seems forced. Similarly, the accents and the language seem super-imposed rather than engrained. And yet, Vishal Bharadwaj films promise a different narrative style. Also, the basic premise of sibling rivalry turning into sibling-in-law rivalry too is interesting. Good enough reasons to look forward to the film.

Pataakha releases on 28 September, 2018.

Music Reviews:
Bollyspice - "4/5"
Milliblog - "Pataakha explodes in typical Vishal-style."
Times of India - "This bouquet of some great music and fabulous lyrics is definitely worth a hear."

- meeta, a part of the audience

The whole world is one big family. Siblings fight, neighbouring countries go to war. See the metaphor? If you thought that was one catch line in the trailer, you are grossly mistaken. We are reminded of the equation every time a new player is introduced, if not more often. I assume it is to make us wonder where in the metaphor the new character fits. Some times, we are not trusted to make the deduction and are told. The other times when we are not told, are the times the film engaged me the most. Once I was involved in the game in this capacity, I could enjoy the film at least while it lasted. Until then though Pataakha is quite a tedious watch.

Giving out the interval-time, big reveal in the trailer didn’t work for the film.

A lot of the exhaustion comes from having to tolerate the loud background music and the loud characters. But as the film progresses, you kind-of adapt to the tone of the film. You see the writer wanting to do something beyond just making an entertaining film where two sisters are at each others throats all the time.

After having seen how far the film took the sibling and countries-at-war metaphor, I walked out with the feeling that if the entire point of the film was to try and sensitize us to the futility of rivalry, they could have dug a little deeper, been a tad more incisive. Sure, the characters have been sketched out well. The sisters’ father and the character, Dipper are mature and have wonderful insights into situations. The two protagonists might as well have been one person and their husbands might as well have been one person – which is of course, intentional. The similarity is important to drive home the over-arching analogy of siblings being like neighbouring countries.

Other than that umbrella theme, there are other comments on the country as it stands today. The magnitude of the common citizen’s struggle to achieve even the smallest of their aspirations is underlined. Interestingly, except for one huge plot point of the film, real-life gender inequalities are kept at bay. The women are strong and get their way, by hook or crook, more or less. They just need a nudge.

Why then did they have to forcefully darken the women’s complexions? It was quite distracting. Fortunately though, both Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan do a brilliant job of being mindlessly mean to each other to portray themselves as India and Pakistan. That you don’t know which one is which, is the beauty of the analogy. Similarly, the costumes seem quite accurate for the milieu of a tiny village.

It is slightly annoying then, that a film which manages to do some bits really well, forces in a side-track of what looks like a pro-smoking campaign. Also, giving out the interval-time, big reveal in the trailer didn’t work for the film. Then there are factual bits which feel out of place. A poster of Narendra Modi hugging Donald Trump is shown right before a news item with Trump’s Presidential campaign promise is being read out.

The not-so-well-done bits are frequent and come in the way of enjoying the film as much as it deserves to be enjoyed. And even so, I will go out on a limb here and say that this might be one of the better non-adaptation films by Vishal Bharadwaj.

- meeta, a part of the audience

29 reviewers(?) - 16 yays 11 so-so 2 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...Thankfully Vishal Bhardwaj’s PATAAKHA is that rare film offering an original, novel storyline revolving around two constantly fighting sisters, never adapted before in a Hindi film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Dishya Sharma, Bollywood Life : ...BL Verdict: Pataakha is a firecracker that leaves behind a trail of power-packed performances. Make sure you book this ticket right away.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shaheen Irani, Deccan Chronicle : ...Overall Pataakha is very good but it could have been great if the plot was stronger than just a story about two sisters with dreams. However we are not complaining much since it is a full-on entertainer for the masses. And oh, did I mention, Sanya has shown her feminine side in this film and comes out way bolder than Dangal? So it might be the right time to transfer her name from the ‘Dangal girl’ to the ‘Pataakha’.... full review

Thumbs up, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan, who are continually spitting hate at each other in a coarse, mohalle-ki-ladaaki mode, make Pataakha a riveting watch. They are both truly excellent. Sanya has that bitchy sharpness to her performance which reminded me of Ratna Pathak, if she were on speed, and Radhika Madan transcends her sweet, soft looks to take the avatar of a scary, angry chudail in a way that’s making me want to go to the theatre and watch the film again. I had a smile pasted on my face for the entirety of Pataakha. And I want to smile again while savouring the delights of fighting sisters once again.... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Vishal Bhardwaj's black humour shines in this rural drama... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Why do the sisters hate each other -- is the question that pops up in your mind time and again. Sometimes, there is no reason either to love or hate and that’s Bhardwaj’s approach as well as the sudden transformation of their feelings towards each other is just as inexplicable. But these brief niggles aside, Pataakha is a cracker of a watch indeed, total paisa vasool on the strength of the acting alone.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, : ...Energetically quirky, amusingly raw & superbly performed... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...India claims to loathe Pakistan, but with the kind of undying vehemence that is reserved exclusively for family. We may, for instance, crow about conquering Pakistan in every World Cup cricket match we’ve played, but back when they faced England in the 1992 final, India cheered Imran Khan’s boys in green. If you want to beat them, get in line. They’re ours.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...Yet, akin to Bhardwaj's films, Pataakha often meanders towards subplots with little relevance to the entire picture. The editing could have been crisper, but the film is worth a watch for its actors. Hell, you may even begin to ponder about whether the strained relation between India and Pakistan has any meaning.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nandan Kini, Mumbai Mirror : ...Simply put, with sparkling performances and a colourful setting, Pataakha shines on screen like a proper boxful of crackers!... full review

Thumbs up, by Shrishti Nagi, : ...Overall, Pataakha is a well-crafted adaptation of Charan Singh Pathik’s short story Do Behnein, which ends with something that’s quite clearly wishful thinking.... full review

Thumbs up, by Urvi Parikh, Rediff : ...In the second half, Vishal tends to go overboard and you grow impatient. How I wish Pataakha had been trimmed by about 25 minutes. Still, Pataakha deserves a watch... full review

Thumbs up, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...Overall, the film is an above average entertainer.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kennith Rosario, The Hindu : ...Even during their courtship, the women are in charge, as much as the men are made to believe otherwise. The characters and their situations are definitely an exaggeration, but sometimes it takes hyperbole to drive a point home with humour.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...Vishal Bhardwaj, as he always does with his films, has tried to put many quirky spins into this comedy. The music is rustic, but very pleasing. He has also provided an interesting background score. During the second half, as the film briefly explores a psychological reason for the sisters’ tendency to fight, the sci-fi sounding background music adds a delightful touch to the proceedings. But for all its wonderful and creative touches, Pataakha still feels like a story that stretches a short concept, for a little too long.... full review

Thumbs up, by Swetha Ramakrishan, yahoo! India : ...Pataakha is an oxymoron. It's explosive but subtle; it's emotive but doesn't take itself too seriously as a film. It could have benefited with a tighter edit, but for the most part I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen. Pataakha is an indulgence worth investing in.... full review

So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, PATAAKHA is a decent entertainer which has its moments but the post-interval portions are quite unconvincing. At the box office, it will need to rely on word of mouth to register decent collections.... full review

So-So, Free Press Journal : ...his sort of writing is better suited to Television dramas- cinemas need a much stronger framework to keep the pot boiling. It’s really the viscerally rousing performances that keep you invested here.... full review

So-So, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...What Bhardwaj does get right is the rural setting (the costumes and production design standout) and the ensemble. Madan and Malhotra are perfectly matched as little women with big personality and bigger aspirations. Grover, also the narrator, revels in calling the shots and Raaz lights up the screen with his haplessness. By the end Badki and Chutki's clashes remind one of Bono's famous lyrics "I can't live, with or without you". They are different sides to the same coin.... full review

So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Bharadwaj’s touch with names is in evidence here too. One of my all-time favourites, Billo Chaman Bahaar, from Omkara, is almost trumped here by Dipper, called thus because he has a lazy eye, which keeps ‘dipping’. And in the way Genda is called ‘Marigold’ by her besotted lover.... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Pataakha is not the kind of explosion you wish from an entertaining film. The leads does their job well but they are not led towards anything substantial. Full points for performances but it requires grace marks when it comes to the story.... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, Live Mint : ...Some short stories are brief for a reason, and Pataakha squanders its material advantage to pad out a fable that splutters and grunts before it gains momentum. There is so much idleness in the early chapters that even the background music hurts.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...For sure, Pataakha isn't for all palates. Some of its passages flirt with excess, but the shrillness that informs them seems in order when seen in the context of the film's larger message. Take it or lump it, Pataakha packs exaggerated flourishes of the kind that aren't all that common in Bollywood films that aren't strictly driven by mainstream impulses.... full review

So-So, by Piyush Chopra, Now : ...I exit Pataakha more tired than the physical effort I have put up recently warrants. I wonder if it has something to do with people on screen constantly screaming in my ears or with my crushed hopes for a layered portrayal of the love-hate relationship between two sisters. There will not be a rewatch to find out.... full review

So-So, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...“Pataakha” should have been a short film, but it got inexplicably extended into a 136-minute full length feature. Much like his protagonists, Bhardwaj doesn’t know when to cut it short and walk away.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...Bhardwaj’s screenplay sets up the action well, but the movie slumps in its middle section, which follows Champa and Genda as they grow older and not necessarily wiser. There isn’t enough material to warrant 134 minutes, and the tone gets uneven in the later sections. The characters of the husbands, ably played by Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan, get barely any play. A crisper running length would have ensured a more explosive impact for Bhardwaj’s latest, and welcome, foray into black humour with a political subtext.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, yahoo! India : ...On the flip side, the plot gets a tad repetitive in the second half and seems dragging. Thankfully, Sunil Grover comes to the rescue and pulls up the strings.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...But the metaphor weighs too heavily on the thin narrative. Vishal’s music with lyrics by Gulzar beautifully captures the boisterous, vibrant atmosphere of the film – I especially enjoyed ‘Balma’ and ‘Gali Gali’. There are a few laugh-out-loud lines but mostly Pataakha hurtles forward like a runaway train, which derails in the second half. Once the sisters are married, the story alternates between scheming and screaming. The narrative becomes even more repetitive and labored.... full review

Thumbs down, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...However, as far as the plot goes, ‘Pataakha’ is at best a fable that has been stretched for more than an hour. The narrative in the first is whatever has been shown in the trailer so you can imagine how much the plot has been stressed. As for the second half, ‘Pataakha’ goes on and on and the film seems more about gimmicks than substance.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 1 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Not Interested in Watching, by Fan

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Bankim Chandra Pandey : nice

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots of fist fights between the two sisters and a couple of slaps between some characters.
  • Language: Lots of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: No explicit content. But characters talk about another characters sexual promiscuity.
  • Concept: The futility of differences between countries
  • General Look and Feel: Set in a village in Rajasthan, the film carries the dry, dusty feel with it.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Pataakha - Cast, crew, links

Background Score:
Music Director:
Running time:
135 minutes

Comments (1)

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So the verdict is out. Paying audience has rejected this too, like his previous film Rangoon.

@Meeta: regarding the concept that you mention, i.e. the futility of differences between countries, I am surprised that you did not detect that in the trailer!! That concept stood out like a sore thumb when I watched the trailer before the release of the film.

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