Review: ‘Crew’ (2024), starring Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon, Diljit Dosanjh and Kapil Sharma

March 31, 2024

by Carla Hay

Kriti Sanon, Tabu and Kareena Kapoor Khan in “Crew” (Photo courtesy of FunAsia Films)

“Crew” (2024)

Directed by Rajesh Krishnan

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India and in the Cayman Islands, the comedy film “Crew” features an all-South Asian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Three flight attendants, who are tired of being underpaid and overworked, become involved in gold smuggling, which leads to various shenanigans and mishaps.

Culture Audience: “Crew” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and high-energy slapstick comedies revolving around misadventures and female friendships.

Rajesh Sharma in “Crew” (Photo courtesy of FunAsia Films)

Entertaining and breezy, “Crew” is a unique crime caper about three flight attendants caught up in gold smuggling and getting ahead in a system that wants to hold them back. The cast members’ chemistry and comedic timing are fantastic in this lively story. This is a slapstick comedy that isn’t meant to be entirely realistic, but the movie has realistic themes about worker exploitation and corporate greed.

Directed by Rajesh Krishnan, “Crew” was written by Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri. The movie’s three central characters are flight attendants who work for a fictional Mumbai-based company called Kohinoor Airlines, which is the largest airline company in India. All three of the flight attendants also happen to be best friends of different age groups. And all three of them have become frustrated with their flight attendant jobs because they think they are being underpaid and overworked. Kohinoor Airlines has been steadily reducing the salaries of flight attendants and other lower-level workers while expecting them to work the same number of hours.

The three central “Crew” characters are:

  • Geeta “Geetu” Sethi (played by Tabu), a married woman in her 50s, is a former beauty queen, who has been a flight attendant for the past 20 years. Geeta is happily married to a supportive husband named Arun Sethi (played by Kapil Sharma), but she’s gotten a little bit bored with her life. She worries that she is “past her prime.” Geeta’s dream is to open a restaurant in Goa with Arun. Geeta has anxiety issues and frequently pops pills to calm her nerves. Despite being neurotic, Geeta often likes to act like a wise, older sister to her two best friends.
  • Jasmine Kohli (played by Kareena Kapoor Khan), a bachelorette in her 40s, has a complicated history with money and is the most materialistic of the three friends. After her parents divorced when she was a child, Jasmine went to live with her mother’s father Nanu (played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda) and developed a close bond with him, but Jasmine has lingering insecurities because of feeling abandoned by her parents. Jasmine’s parents sent her to an elite private school, but she felt that her parents’ financial support could not substitute for the emotional support that she wanted from them. She’s had a rebellious streak since her teenage years. Jasmine’s dream is to be the CEO of her own marketing company.
  • Divya Rana (played by Kriti Sanon), a bachelorette in her 30s, is the “golden child” of her family. She has always excelled in everything that she’s done, except for one thing: fulfilling her dream of becoming an airline pilot. Divya graduated from a well-known airline pilot program she couldn’t get a job as an airline pilot, mostly because of sexism. Divya’s father is an airline pilot, but somehow Divya has been able to fool her family into thinking that she has a become pilot for Kohinoor Airlines. Divya can be hot-tempered and is the one most likely of the three friends to get into physical fights in self-defense. (For example, she strong-arms a rude passenger who slaps her on her rear end.) Divya is very close to her gay brother Chintu (played by Mohit Gupta), who used to be a computer hacker.

The beginning of the movie shows that a Kohinoor flight has returned to a terminal because of “technical difficulties.” The real reason for this emergency turnaround is that Geeta, Jasmine and Divya are suspects in a conspiracy to illegally smuggle gold bars out of India. The three pals have been detained and escorted to a room for questioning. The interrogation is led by a sub-inspector named Mala (played by Trupti Khamkar), who is eager to have these three women arrested.

Much of “Crew” consists of flashback scenes showing how Geeta, Jasmine and Divya ended up at this point. The trailers for “Crew” already reveal that it all started two years ago, during a flight where an elederly male passenger named Rajvanshi (played by Ramakant Daayama) dropped dead of an apparent heart attack near the flight attendant station. Geeta, Jasmine and Divya discovered that he had gold bars strapped underneath his clothes.

At the time they found these gold bars, all three of the women were having financial issues where they wanted extra money that they didn’t have. Geeta wanted money to open a restaurant. Jasmine was several months past due on her rent. Divya had a student loan debt that she had to pay back in two days. And so, the three friends decided to steal the gold bars without telling anyone else. Of course, this small fortune in gold that gets stolen eventually has people who go looking for it.

The three flight attendants are also feeling financially insecure because there have been news media reports that Kohinoor Airlines is on the verge of bankruptcy. Kohinoor Airlines chairman Vijay Walia (played by Saswata Chatterjee) is vehemently denying the reports and is still living a lavish lifestyle, as if everything is going well with the company. Kohinoor Airlines has a pension program for staffers called the Provident Fund that has been getting a significant portion of employee salaries who want to invest in the fund.

Geeta’s husband Arun has a sister named Sudha Mittal (played by Charu Shankar), a former flight attendant, who is married to Kohinoor Airlines’ human resources chief Pruthviraj “Minoj” Mittal (played by Rajesh Sharma), who is a talkative and corrupt buffoon. Pruthviraj reveals some information to Geeta that changes the trajectory of the story. It leads to some very amusing twists and turns—some more unpredictable than others. Diljit Dosanjh has a standout supporting role as a customs officer named Jaiveer Singh, who had a fling with Divya when she was in college, and he wants to start dating her again after not seeing her for years.

The madcap misadventures and snappy dialogue in “Crew” are consistently funny. Although many of the scenarios are intentionally exaggerated, the friendship of Geeta, Jasmine and Diya is believable—which is essential in order for this movie to be entertaining. Tabu, Khan and Sanon are in top comedic form in “Crew,” which also has hilarious performances by many of the supporting cast members. (There are some emotionally serious moments too.) Even though it’s very easy to predict how “Crew” will end, the unexpected turns in certain parts of the story creates enough suspense that will keep viewers interested in seeing what will happen next.

FunAsia Films released “Crew” in select U.S. cinemas on March 29, 2024, the same date that the movie was released in India.

Review: ‘Animal’ (2023), starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Rashmika Mandanna and Tripti Dimri

December 12, 2023

by Carla Hay

Ranbir Kapoor in “Animal” (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

“Animal” (2023)

Directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India and in the United States, the action film “Animal” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A “bad boy” from a rich family gets into violent feuds with family members and other people. 

Culture Audience: “Animal” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and don’t mind watching long-winded movies with mindless plots and gory and excessive violence.

Cast members of “Animal.” Pictured sitting in front, from left to right: Adyaan Sachdeva, Suresh Oberoi and Ananya Bhati. Pictured standing in back, from left to right: Kalyan Vittapu, Siddhant Karnick, Saloni Batra, Anil Kapoor, Charu Shankar, Anshul Chauhan and Ranbir Kapoor. (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

Trashy, idiotic, and filled with disgusting bloody violence that’s overly repetitive, “Animal” is excruciatingly too long at about 200 minutes. This garbage movie has no redeeming qualities. It’s yet another stupid story about feuding and vengeful families. All of the acting performances are unimpressive. And to make things worse, by the end of this irritating dump of the movie, it’s obvious that it was made with a sequel in mind.

Written and directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, “Animal” has a very tiresome and over-used plot. A “rogue” goes on killing sprees to gain power and to avenge things that happened to his family. If a movie like this is done right, audiences will root for this anti-hero. But when the central character is an unrelenting jerk with no charm or wit, there’s no reason to care.

Unfortunately, “Animal” (which takes place primarily in India and in the United States) panders to the lowest and worst possible choices on how this story could have gone. The movie has several characters who are just empty vessels for the awful dialogue that they have to spew. And the plot twists (especially in the film’s mid-credits scene) are just too ridiculous to take.

The central character in this moronic mess is Ranvijay “Vijay” Singh (played by Ranbir Kapoor), who is the rebellious son of wealthy business mogul Balbir Singh (played by Anil Kapoor, no relation to Ranbir Kapoor). Balbir has inherited the Delhi-based company Swastik Steel, which he hopes to pass on to Vijay. Balbir, who is Swastik Steel’s CEO, is frustrated and worried that Vijay isn’t responsible enough to take over the company. Vijay’s history of getting into trouble has brought shame and scandal to the family.

The Singh family is a large clan that includes Balbir’s wife/Vijay’s mother Jyoti Singh (played by Charu Shankar), who is a typical “trophy wife” socialite. Vijay is the middle child with two siblings. Vijay’s older sister Reet Singh (played by Saloni Batra) is frequently embarrassed by Vijay. Vijay’s younger sister Roop Singh (played by Anshul Chauhan) is more tolerant of Vijay. Balbir is preoccupied with his work, so he often neglected his kids when they were growing up. This neglect is a touchy subject for Vijay, who has “daddy issues.”

Reet’s husband Varun Pratap Malhotra (played by Siddhant Karnick) is a high-ranking executive at Swastik Steel. Reet and Varun have two children: a son (played by Adyaan Sachdeva) and a daughter (played by Ananya Bhati). Other members of the family are Balbir’s father Rajdheer Dodamal Singh, nicknamed Dadaji (played by Suresh Oberoi) and Balbir’s mother Rani Kaur Singh, nicknamed Beeji (played by Madhu Raja), who don’t do much in the movie. Varun also has a brother (played by Kalyan Vittapu), who is a trusted confidant.

Near the beginning of the movie, Vijay is in his mid-20s, and the Singh family is attending the engagement party of a family friend named Gitanjali, nicknamed Gitu (played by Rashmika Mandanna), who has known Vjay since they were children and schoolmates. Vijay still has romantic feelings for Gitanjali, but this is his idea of a complimentary pickup line: At the party, he tells Gitanjali that she has a wide pelvis, which is ideal for giving birth.

Vijay and Varun get into an argument at the party. Vijay tells Reet not to interfere. Upset and mortified that Vijay is causing a scene, his father takes him aside to scold him: “I thought you had grown up!”

It turns out that Vijay has returned to India after being sent away to boarding school in the United States. Why was he sent away? When he was a teenager, Vijay found out that some guys in Reet’s college were bullying her. In response (which the movie shows as a flashback), Vijay showed up at the school with an AK-47 rifle, went to a classroom where he knew the bullies would be, and shot the gun in the classroom to “scare” the bullies. Luckily, no one was hurt or killed.

One can assume that Vijay didn’t spend any time in jail for this heinous crime because of his father’s money and power. One can also assume that it’s just a way for the “Animal” filmmakers to show unnecessary violence for violence’s sake. It’s just one of many examples in the movie that demonstrate how much of an unstable and loathsome jerk Vijay is.

Incredibly, Vijay is able to convince Gitanjali to break off her engagement after he confesses to her that he’s been in love with her for years. Gitanjali and Vijay quickly get engaged, and then they elope for their wedding by going to a remote mountaintop for the ceremony. They arrive by a private plane, with Vijay as the pilot and Gitanjali as the only passenger.

For their honeymoon, Vijay has arranged for a king-sized bed to be placed outdoors on the airstrip. He thinks it would be romantic for them to have sex outdoors on this bed. At first, Gitanjali is reluctant and self-conscious, but changes her mind when Vijay convinces her that no on else will see them.

Vijay and Gitanjali also have sex in the airplane. Later, Vijay plays Gitanjali the “black box” recording of them having sex. He thinks it’s hilarious that Gitanjali didn’t know that everything had been recording without her knowledge or consent.

At the 60th birthday party of Balbir, Vijay has another argument with Varun. This time, a fed-up Balbir kicks Vijay out of the party. In anger, Vijay decides that he and Gitanjali will move to the United States and become estranged from his family. Vijay and Gitanjali start their own family in the United States, where their son and daughter are born. But since Vijay is a narcissistic cretin, the marriage runs into major problems for exactly the reasons you think it does.

Vijay’s estrangement from his parents and other family members lasts for eight years. Vijay ends up back in India after Balbir is nearly assassinated. Vijay finds out that a rival named Asrar Haque (played by Babloo Prithiveeraj) was behind this murder plot. Asrar has a brother named Abrar Haque (played by Bobby Deol), who works with Asrar in their dirty deals. And you know what that means for someone like Vijay: He’s going on a revenge rampage.

“Animal” is a tangled slog of betrayals, murders, family feuds, near-death experiences, spying, look-alikes deceiving people, and a bizarre and unnecessary scene where Vijay parades around his estate naked after an unrealistic medical transformation. It’s all so mind-numbing and senseless. And although Vijay and Gitanjali are married for several years in the story, he treats her with such disrespect, the movie fails to convince that Vijay could love anyone but himself.

Violence is expected for most action movies, but the murders and torture in “Animal” are done with such sadistic glee, it will surely make some viewers feel sick. In “Animal,” it’s not enough for someone to get slashed or stabbed. The slashing or stabbing is shown as overkill, with the murderer having an evil smirk while getting soaked in the victim’s blood.

Toward the end of this soulless movie, “Animal” has one of the weirdest-looking showdown scenes you’ll ever see, with body contortions that would not be in a real fight. And it’s one of those “only in a movie” showdowns where henchmen thugs just stand around and watch instead of helping their leader. Viewers will despise “Animal” even more for how everything just gets dragged out for too long in this scene. People are tortured in the movie, but anyone who watches all of “Animal” experiences the torture of a horrible movie that is too long and takes itself too seriously.

AA Films released “Animal” in U.S. cinemas and in India on December 1, 2023.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix
CULTURE MIX