Pope Francis arrived in Cuba Saturday on the first leg of a high-profile trip that will also take him to the United States, highlighting his role in the rapprochement between the Cold War foes.Cuban President Raul Castro and Havana’s archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, greeted the pope at Jose Marti airport.Looking smart in his papal whites — though minus his usual skullcap, which was blown off by the wind — a smiling Francis shook hands with the pair and blessed a group of children who presented him with flowers.Thousands of people lined the road into Havana, which was decked out in giant posters of the Argentine pontiff.Speaking to journalists on the plane, Francis said the world was “thirsty for peace.”Francis was due to give a speech on arrival, and then retire for the day before launching into a packed itinerary that will also take him to the Cuban cities of Holguin and Santiago before he heads to Washington.
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra, Jackie Shroff, Jacqueline Fernandez, Shefali Shah, Ashutosh Rana, Kiran KumarDirection: Karan MalhotraRatings: (3.5/5)Making a sports-based film in India can work as a double-edged sword. If the audience here is allowed the luxury to see drama (melodrama, too) with just the exact amount of action and sport thrown in, the dish can turn out delectable. Oh, and did we mention the spicy ‘special song’?Karan Malhotra, whose 2013 Agneepath had shattered numerous box office records and Aguamenti-ed lachrymal glands, has now given us Akshay Kumar-Sidharth Malhotra’s Brothers. The remake of the 2011 Hollywood film Warrior, this tale of estranged brothers David and Monty Fernandes is brilliantly brilliant in parts. And sags with the heaviness in others. Gavin O’Connor and Cliff Dorfman’s tale of Tommy and Brendan is given a Colaba twist.Old and ailing ex-streetfighter Garson Fernandes (Jackie Shroff) is released from jail, and his son Monty (Sidharth) receives him at the prison-gates. Garry (Garson) inquires about his elder son David (Akshay), who is conspicuous by his absence on his dad’s big day. And we realise that there’s hatred for David running deep in Monty’s veins. Flashbacks of his dead wife Maria (Shefali Shah) greet Garry once at their place. A long-drawn-scene-involving-innumerable-memories later, we’re given the preface to David and Monty’s story. In another part of town, David lives a happy life with his wife Jenny (Jacqueline) and daughter. This high-school physics teacher is an intriguing subject to his students, who don’t miss an opportunity delving into his ‘other’ side. David and Jenny try to make ends meet, with his daughter’s kidneys needing dialysis frequently. When he is sacked from his school, David re-enters the arena.advertisementALSO READ: Apart from sibling rivalry, Brothers has all forms of Mixed Martial Arts too Billionaire Peter Briganza (Kiran Kumar) gifts streetfighting a legal status by beginning R2F (Right 2 Fight), a two-day Mixed Martial Arts tournament. And much like O’Connor’s original, this winner-takes-it-all tourney has prize money of Rs 9 crore, which is the motivation for David. For Monty, it is his angst.Brothers has been touted as India’s first out-and-out MMA film, and it does justice to that claim. Post interval, the pace of the film peaks, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The need vs anger divide shines through after long, and after much drama (read: melodrama). The snooze-fest-y sepia-tinted sequences are a major drawback of the film. The ‘special song’ Mera Naam Mary again serves no purpose apart from making people drool over the uber-hot Kareena Kapoor Khan.Akshay and Sidharth’s fight sequences make jaws drop. The contact fighting scenes look brutally real, with the bloody faces and broken noses making you twitch more than once. Brothers achieves what it sets out to do: Portray MMA in all its glory (and goriness). That the two leads have worked their butts off in getting their moves right emerges through the film. Even though emotions, and not the fights, have been called the USP of the film, it is quite the opposite. The thoroughly enjoyable parts of Brothers are the ones inside the cage. Nothing else matters. And that Akshay and Sidharth emote well is the icing on the cake. Sidharth, though, looks like he’s straight out of the Ek Villain sets. His Goan accent, mannerisms, the angry-young-man act, et al is reminiscent of it.ALSO READ: What do you think is the secret behind Akshay Kumar’s hotness? Jackie Shroff is good at times and unbearably hammy at others. Jacqueline doesn’t have much room for anything apart from shedding tears, either out of happiness or sorrow. The supporting cast manages to get their parts right, with Ashutosh Rana’s Umesh, the Arjun in this Mahabharat, deserving a special mention.The fights don’t let anything else dominate the mind long after one exits the theatre, and kudos to Hemant Chaturvedi’s cinematography and Ajay-Atul’s background score for the same. Akiv Ali’s scissors go limp towards the end again, with the final scene dragging on more than what is necessary, but that’s forgivable.In one line: Akshay Kumar needs to do more of these high-action roles. And not necessarily the mindless action. Watch Brothers for the kicks, punches, grappling, chocking and the un-understandable MMA jargon. You’ll come out with the Akshay you want to see, hopefully. Welcome back to the cage, Khiladi Kumar!