Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kerala Cafe

Medium : Malayalam

Starring : Mammootty, Sureshgopi, Dileep, Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Jagathi, Salim Kumar, Suraj Venjarammood, Sudheesh, Reema Kallingal, Navya Nair, Jyothirmayi, Nithya, Santhadevi etc.

Directors : Shaji Kailas, Laljose, Shyamaprasad, Revathi, Padmakumar, B. Unnikrishnan, Anwar Rashid, Uday Anandan, Anjali Menon, Shankar Ramakrishnan

Music : Bijibal, Ouseppachan, M.Jayachandran, Bombay Jayasree, Rex Vijayan, Rahul Raj, Thej Mervin, Manu Ramesan

Different from the usual style, the new malayalam film named 'Kerala Cafe' has got 10 directors. It has also got 10 different stories. We have seen
almost the same concept in films like 'Dus Kahaniya' (done by different directors) and 'Darna Mana Hai' (different stories by same director) in hindi. Adoor Gopalakrishnan has shown different stories for his recent films like 'Nalu Pennungal' and 'Rendaanum Oru Pennum' also.

Notable writer/director Ranjith is the project co-ordinator and producer of 'Kerala Cafe'. In the director's list, you have got Shaji Kailas, who is the senior most in the group and also Shankar Ramakrishnan, who is a new name in the field, along with two women directors lik Revathi ('Mitr-My Friend' fame) and Anjali Menon ('Manjadikkuru' fame). The stories are given different names also, you have got 10 cinematographers here including Madhu Ambat and S.Kumar.

An average viewer may not be much interested in such things; rather they will raise certain doubtful questions "what does it mean by 10 stories?", "is it an art film?", "is it a multi star project like 'Twenty 20'?" like that it goes. Anyway director Sathyan Anthikkad comes in the beginning of the film to give an idea regarding the movie.

'Kerala Cafe' is the name of a restaurant attached to the railway station where some of the characters linked with each stories are shown, but there won't be any connection between any of the stories. In other words, 10 short films with a duration each of 10-15 minutes in a single show is what 'Kerala Cafe' means.

'Bridge', directed by Anwar Rashid featuring Salim Kumar, Santhadevi, Kalpana etc stands on top due to the excellent presentation of such a simple theme accompanied by an excellent performance of the artists. The choosing of location is also different.

'Happy Journey', featuring Jagathi and Nithya shows the chemistry between two characters while traveling in a bus. The senior actor in the industry holds the key here. The dialogues used here, made it funny and at the time serious also. Anjali Menon, the women director should get the claps for it.

'Island Ex
press' has got a touching climax. The unusual presentation, is not easy to get an idea regarding the theme till the half portion. The difference in the characterization makes the atmosphere more complex. But, later on you also falls in the track. Rahman, Raju, Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Sukumari etc has been handled in a different way by the new director Shanakar Ramakrishnan.

'Puram Kazhchakal' done by Lal Jose is based on a short story by C.V.Sreeraman. It has got Mammootty and Sreenivasan. The bus journey and the unusual mood of the main character is highlighted here, the twist lies in the climax.

'Makal' presented by Revathi is focussed on a certain group of people in the society and the exploitation of their poverty. It has got Sreenath, Agustine, Sona Nair etc.

'Aviramam' featuring Sidhiq and Swetha Menon is done by B.Unnikrishnan. The bondage of relationship within a family is neatly
done in a single location without much star cast.

'Nostalgia' has got Dileep, Navya Nair, Babu Namboothiri etc is directed by Padma
kumar. The story of an NRI and the stability in the relationship is mainly discussed here.

'Lalitham Hiranmayam' has got the combination of Shaji Kailas-Sureshgopi; telling the story of two ladies (Jyothirmayi, Dhanya) that are coming in the life of the hero. The director has presented it in his style.

'Mtithyunjayam' is a horror story directed by Uday Anandan ('Pranayakalam' fame). It is an investigation of the death incidents happened in an old traditional house. Thilakan, Reeman Kallingalm Anoop Menon, Meera Nandan and Fahad Fazil ('Kaiyyethum Doorathu' fame) are the main artists here. The creators failed to give an end for the story.

'Off Season' tells the incident happened in the life of a tourist guide during the off season period at Kovalam. The story is not impressive, hence no need to di
scuss the associated things. Suraj Venjarammood and Vindhyan (producer of 'Orey Kadal') comes in the main roles along with some english people. It is scripted by Joshua Newton ('Rithu' fame) and directed by Shyama Prasad.

On the direction side Anwar Rasheed, Anjali Menon, Shankar Ramakrishnan and B.Unni
krishnan did their best. The performances of Santhadevi, Molly (servant character in 'Bridge'), Kalpana, Nithya, Salim Kumar, Jagathi, Mammootty, Sidhiq and Fahad Fazil are notable. 'Bridge', 'Happy Journey', 'Puram Kazhchakal' and 'Island Express' were good stories.

It is not a good practice to highlight the comedy image of Suraj Venjarammood in such a film. Hence with such a story, 'Off Season' stands "odd one out" from the group. In the case of 'Mrithyunjayam', the problem happened is due to the absence of solution for the crime discussed there. The flash back portion shown in 'Puram Kazhchakal' was not impressive, it was not needed for such a story. The inclusion of complicated and non understandable dialogues used in a beautiful story like 'Island Express' should have been avoided. (common men like me struggled hard to follow those scenes).

We should promote different experiments like 'Kerala Cafe'. I am sure that, at least a couple of stories in it will haunt you for days.

ating : 8.5 / 10

Swa. Le.

Medium : Malayalam
Starring : Dilep, Gopika, Jagathi, Innocent, Ganesh Kumar, Asokan

Director : P.Sukumar
Music : Bijibal

The title of the new film by Dileep is different, is it ? We have seen this particular term in newspapers; a journalist or a news reporter who is reporting the news is usually referred as Swa. Le. alias Swantham Lekhakan. This is yet another film in which the cinematographer is becoming a director also. Like the senior cameramen Vincent, Venu,
Santhosh Sivan and Vipin Mohan, now P.Sukumar (actor cum cinematographer) has become a director through 'Swa. Le'. He did camerawork for a wide variety of films like 'Sopanam', 'Azhakiya Ravanan', 'Aaram Thamburan', 'Niram', 'Katha Prayumbol', 'Karutha Pakshikal', Twenty 20' etc. After leaving the field temporarily for her marriage, by this film Gopika has started acting once again. Kalavoor Ravikumar ('Ottayal Pattalam', 'Nammal' fame), who has also worked as a news reporter once, has written the script for this film. Madhu Warrier, actor and the close relative of the hero is the producer here.

The film starts with the voice over by writer / director Ranjith regarding the history of newspaper. The story happens in the year 1990 where our hero (Dileep) is a struggling news reporter who lives with his wife (Gopika), who is expecting a baby within few days. Th
e beginning few scenes showed the competition happening between different newspapers for collecting the news. Then later the story is concentrated mainly on a veteran literary worker (Nedumudi Venu) who is seriously ill and is spending his last days of his life. The famous writer is also the god father of the hero; different reporters waited in the compound of the house, expecting to hear the death news. This lasted for many days and they all becomes restless. At the same time the loneliness of the hero's wife is shown. How, at last an end came to the tension oriented life of the hero is discussed through 'Swa. Le.'

Once yo
u have watched the film, you will get a wrong impression that the news reporters will do anything to get a news. Moreover they might be the only people to suffer in this world for their survival in the olden days. Even if they are having ultimate tensions, they were not ready to leave their job as the employer warns them. The scene in which the press persons trespassing the lonely house in search of a photo is too amateur. Also the scene at hospital in the beginning might have created for fun, but it also looks unprofessional. The scenes at the writer's house is lagging here and there, also the comedy scenes at the tea shop deviates attention from the real story. The kind of end given for the long waiting is unbelievable. Rather than the hero mimicking the tv channel character in the climax, it would have been better if they have discussed a comparative study of the old days with the new in detail.

In the middle of these negatives, the script writer had also given some realities also happening in news paper field. The way in which chief editor's character (Innocent) telling about the death numbers in the boat accident and the luck factor in the cricket match, the interview of the cricketer etc are some examples.

'Swa. Le' is not a true portrait of the press world as the narrator tells in the beginning, it is an exaggerated (unnatural) version filled with un wanted elements here and there; you can watch it in that sense only.

Rating : 6 / 10

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All The Best

Medium : Hindi
Starring : Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Fardeen Khan, Bipasha Basu, Mugdha Godse, Johny Lever

Direction : Rohit Shetty
Music : Pritam, Sanjay Chowdhary

A hindi film with a star cast Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Fardeen Khan, Bipasha Basu etc may not
be a big thing to promote as multi cast projects are usual in the bollywood industry; but if it is a comedy subject directed by Rohit Shetty, after comedy hits like 'Golmaal' and 'Golmaal Returns' and more over produced by Ajay Devgan himself, then it is interesting. Cinematography is by Dudley and Pritam is the music director.

Different from the usual style, here you have got the title song featuring the main stars in the film with a bulk of dancers in a peppy number. Ajay and Fardeen are close friends. Fardeen's elder brother (Sanjay Dutt) is in abroad for a long time; he is sending money every month for his brother. Sanjay believes that his brother got married and is staying in their own house at native. In the mean time Fardeen and Ajay gets into some financial troubles. They decided to give the house for rent. At the same time Sanjay reached there. He sees Bipasha, Ajay's wife and misunderstood her as his brother's wife. How both friends manage the situation in the presence of the senior who stays with them for few days is told in an out and out comedy background.

May be we might have seen the same situation many times in malayalam films also. Even directors like Pri
yadarshan, Sidhiq Lal and Rajasenan have given n number of films in this manner. But the power of comedy is so high that if neatly presented, it can still attract the crowd. This is what happened in the case of 'All The Best' also. Since the director came to the cine field in the early 90's and has got experience in giving comedy hits recently, the chance for errors are less.

It is a fact that after a long gap, I had got some un believable laughs for a hindi film throughout in many scenes. The scenes featuring Johny Lever is a good example and the combination scenes of Ajay & Sanjay are also notable.

Though they do serious roles most of the time, here Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan had done well by handling many lighter situations. Background score by Sanjay Chowdhary cope up with the situation well.

'All The Best' is a time pass, funny entertainer with an old theme. Those who are really interested in comedy films can watch it.

Rating : 7.5 / 10

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Medium : Malayalam
Starring : Jagathi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran, Jayakrishnan, Revathi, Manju Pillai, "Margi" Sathi
Direction : M.P.Sukumaran Nair
Music : Shahbaz Aman

I have decided to watch the film 'Ramaanam', only after a colleague of mine asked me about it last saturuday. I was aware that the film is directed by M.P.Sukumaran Nair ('Kazhakam', 'Aparaahnam', 'Shayanam', 'Drishtantham' fame), but the fact that 'Ramaanam' is inspired from a best literary work by Poonathil Kunjabdulla named "Smarakasilakal", gave me the temptation in watching it.

The story of 'Ramaanam' is about a relegious leader Thangal (Jagathi), who lived in the malabar region. His life, starting from the days of emergency period of mid 1970's till the mid 90's is shown. Though he was born in an orthodox minded community, he was always broadminded enough in his attitude and behaviour. This was relevant in the way in which his daughter and the adopted son was brought up by him. Though he was opposed by his wife in such a kind of proceedings, he has done everything according to his wish and in the right way also. Anyway in the new political situation of the country, everything changes and it is reflected in the society to a grass root level and the life of Thangal is also affected in such a situation.

The portrayal of the leading character is very relevant in the current society. The director had neatly discussed the social issues and the unity existed between the two communities in the older period through the central character. The way in which Thangal's daughter studies and performs the art form in the temple is an example. It is good that the cliche scenes involving the disagreement and the quarreling between the two communities are avoided. Without much outdoor scenes, the period in which the story happening is neatly conveyed to us.

Jagathi has done excellently in such a role. His simplicity in performance is the main attraction here. The wife's role is done by new girl Revathi in the first half and later she comes in the role of her grownup daughter. She has also done well in both the roles. Indrans who comes in the role of "mukhri" is also real
istic. Manju Pillai and Anoop Chandran is also suitable for their respectable characters.

The director failed to keep the tempo of the first half till the end. Hence the second half portions lacks stability here and there. The lengthy scene showing the babri masjid incident is such an example. The way in which any of the character telling some story to another is also a different way of
communication used by the director; but somewhere it looks like it is deliberately done. Within a gap of 10years, the main character role done by Jagathi doesn't have any change in appearance and make up, but the lady character is changed a lot that another artist has done the old age character. In the case of the role done by Indrans; the make up is good, but Anoop Chandran's character didn't have much change here. The performance of the "Margi" Sathi who comes as the wife's character in the second half is not good. The climax area happens all of a sudden.

Cinematography is done by K.G.Jayan. Shahbaz Aman gave the music. Sound mixing by Harikumar went out of control in a lengthy scene showing babri masjid incident.

Films like this belong to the so called parallel films category; It is not acceptable to the majority of the audience, which was evident from the very small attendance in the theater for the particular film last sunday.

Those who want to know how a part of "Smarakasilakal" is visualized in the celluloid, can watch 'Ramaanam'.

Rating : 6 / 10

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Angel John

Medium : Malayalam
Starring : Mohanlal, Santhanu Bhagyaraj, Lalu Alex, Jagathi, Nithya, Ambika

Direcion : S.L.Puram Jayasurya

Music : Ouseppachan

Malayalam film industry has been ruled by two big Ms for the last three decades. There exists some un noticed coincidences regarding the choosing in the theme of some of the projects by these stars. 'Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha' and 'Kadathanadan Ambadi' released at the same time, 'Aaraam Thamburan' is followed by 'Valyettan', 'Chronic Bachelor and 'Mr. Brahmachari' are identical in their names, the latest films to join these group are 'Ee Pattanathil Bhootham' followed by 'Angel John'. The first one has got the hero coming in a super human character. The "bhootham" who is able to do any thing within a matter of time and is capable of s
atisfying the wishes of his friends. This might have provoked Mohanlal to do almost a similar character. He comes in the role of an "angel" who is also capable of doing similar things. Like the former, he is shown well dressed like a common man (excluding the horns on head).

Max Lab, distribution company owned by the hero had distributed 'Angel John'. It is directed by S.L.Puram Jayasurya. He once associated Fazil and had given a film, 'Speed Track' with Dileep before. Now in his second film he had shown the boldness to cast Mohanlal in a role never like before. It is the heights and limits of superhuman characters. Santhanu ('Chakkarakkatti' fame, son of star couple Bhagyaraj and Poornima) has also acted in a full length role. Camera is handled by Ajayan Vincent, after his thrilling job in 'Bhramaram'. Script is written by debutant Manaf along with the director.

Maradona (Santhanu) is an useless student, who is not caring for his life and his duties. His parents (Lalu Alex, Ambika) are worried about his odd behavior. After being scolded by his father, for his untolerable attitude and bad habits, the "poor" boy decided to suicide. He is being saved by the person who is being introduced as Angel John, an "angel" sent by the God to satisfy the former's wishes. He asks him to choose the wish of normal life or a shorter life with maximum pleasures only. With such an intention the boy asks his wish every day in the form of money, physical strength and what not, anything is possible for the "angel". He is able to appear and disappear within a fraction of seconds according to his wish. Maradona's neighbor girl (Nithya, 'Aakasagopuram', 'Vellathooval' fame), though helps him in his studies, he refuses her company. Anyway in the end, the "angel" helps in molding a good character for the boy within a short period and the parents accepts him. He is being given his life back by the "angel", who leaves to some other place where another suicide happens.

I don't know who is going to be benefited by such a project. The director, being the son of great writer, late S.L.Puram should not have done such a thing. Only advantage by this film is that the hero can count one more to the total number of films for his credit.The fans kept calm for the pre interval scenes of Santhanu, with an expectation to see the superstar later. The problem in speaking the language has affected his performance a lot. By coming in such a character, Mohanlal had made the audience unhappy. The difference in the wig position of the hero is relevant in some scenes. The scenes involving Jagathi, who comes in an unrealistic character is intolerable. Baiju has got some comedy situations to handle. The characterization of the heroine is incomplete (she is being told as a handicapped, but it is not registered). Songs by the national award winner Ouseppachan is below average. The theme given by him in the bg score for the "angel" character is good.

Anyway, I watched the film in the capital city on the last show of the opening day with a 60% attendance only. It shows that the viewers doesn't want such an un natural characterization from their favorite star. There is a situation in the film where heroine's father (Vijayaraghavan), who is a film director, searching for a good story for his next film; this is very relevant in the case of S.L.Puram Jayasurya also, who is responsible for creating such a character. (It is very sad to see that 'Angel John' is inspired from a flop hindi film by Amitabh Bachan and Salman Khan, 'God Thusi Great Ho').

At the theater compound, after watching 'Angel John', some one from the crowd screamed loudly, "who is going to be appeared as an Angel, to refund the ticket charge of this movie...?"

Rating : 4 / 10

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Medium : Hindi
Starring : Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Zayed Khan, Rahul Dev, Lara Dutta, Katrina Kaif

Direction : Antony D'souza

Music : A.R.Rahman

The biggest news happened in this year as far as our film industry is concerned will be the representation of the Indian films in the Oscar Award ceremony. A.R.Rahman was thus lucky enough to grab two music awards and Rasool Pookkutty also got one for sound designing in the English film, 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Hence those films that are done by these guys, after such an achievement will not be treated ordinary by their fans. A film that caught special attention and is p
laced in such a category is 'Blue'. Though I am not interested in such a kind of extra publicity regarding any personalaties in the film field, as we are a witness for whatever happens in front of us, I can't keep mum. Another media hype related to this film was that majority of the portions of the film is being shot inside the deep blue sea and also the stars were given special training and in some scenes they were asked to swim even in the middle of big sharks and sword fishes. Anyway such a news can't create big expectations about the film in me; I decided to watch it as a part of the normal procedure only.

The film has got the opening scenes in a boat in the middle of the sea at Bahamas where Sanjay and Akshay are shown fishing and when the latter's cap fell into the water, both of them dives, get it back and a shark is freed from a fishing net. When Akshay asks about the treasure ('lady in blue'), Sanjay gets angry. We are also shown a romantic song on the beach sands featuring Sanjay with the two
piece girl, Lara. At the same time Zayed, who is Sanjay's brother and a bike racer, gets into trouble in a foreign country. He reaches his brother's place to hide after a bulk loss of money. Finally as per Zayed and Akshay's request, Sanjay is willing to take the treasure in the underwater area. In the climax, the cheating is revealed. (to be honest, the cheaters here are the makers of the film and the real victims are viewers like us!!!)

Sanjay Dutt is shown shaven head in some scenes followed by the hairy head; his character loses
continuity here and there. The way in which he describes his father's past looks like a documentary. There is no depth in the characterization of all the stars. Maybe in one line the story is good; but the way in which the director treated the film shows the immaturity of the scripting side also. The underwater scenes are good; since that portion didn't have much dialogue as the situation demands, sometimes it feels boring. The bike race and the chasing by the villains might have been used as the fillers to make up the length.

Cinematography by Laxman Utekar is good; especially the underwater scenes are notable. A.R.Rahman's style is different from the usual pattern of the hindi music directors. Here you don't have any memorable surprises from the Oscar winner; the background score is also not the best. Rasool Pookkutty, who did an excellent job in the film, 'Keralavarma Pazhassiraja' didn't used the opportunity to the best level here.

'Blue', as expected is not upto the mark. With such a theme, they should have done a better job.

Rating : 4 / 10

Monday, October 19, 2009


Medium : Tamil
Stariing : Soorya, Murali, Vadivelu, Nayantara, Rahuldev, Sayaji Shinde

Direction : KS Ravikumar

Music : Harris Jayaraj

The popularity of a hero in any language changes, due to which his stardom may increase , it all happens within a matter of time. It is evident in the case of Soorya. Born as the son of yesteryear actor Sivakumar, the young star didn't have much hits to his credit alone, until the release of 'Ghajini'. Later came films like 'Perazhakan' and 'Vaaranam Aayiram' which proved his caliber in acting. The value of the hero is really u
nderstood when an average film like 'Ayan' also became a super hit. In the middle, the fell down of Vijay and Ajith films have helped the young man to rise up. Now his latest film 'Aadhavan' is released with a big opening. Also the dances by the crowd inside the theater shows that Surya has got big fans in our state.

Super hit directo
r KS Ravikumar has directed the film. Those who have not heard this name before should know that he is the director of big films like 'Naattaamai', 'Muthu', 'Avvaishanmukhi', 'Padayappa', 'Thenali', Dasavatharam' etc. Since Sun Pictures is already a big production banner, their rivals in the field had also decided to enter the big screen and thus Udyanithi Stalin, the younger member of Mr.Karunidhi's family has produced the movie. Music is given by the hero's favorite music director Harris Jayaraj. R.Ganesh is the cinematographer and this is another work by editor Donmax in tamil after 'Silambattom'.

The film starts with the introduction of the hero through
a fighting sequence, the title credits gives the maximum boost for his heroism, followed by a song. He works for the Bhai (Sayaji Shinde) gang in Calcutta. He is shown as a professional killer. His latest assignment is to kill a judge (Murali), who is the head of an enquiry commission. Though he tried, his attempt is failed in the first time. Now he is decided to complete the mission within 10days and thus reached the target place. What happens in between these days is what shown through the film 'Aadhavan' which is presented in KS Ravikumar's style with a mix of comedy, romance, songs, dance, action with a couple of suspense elements later.

However, the climax sequences of the film have got the touch of an old masala movie. Also the majority of the scenes happening inside a house, won't give the freshness as expected. The usage of old songs by MGR and the scenes regarding Ramesh Khanna, who is also the story writer won't be easily accepted here. The combination of Vadivelu with Soorya has given many comic situations here and there. I usually love to watch such comedy sequences in tamil. I am doubtful whether an average viewer or a die hard fan of Soorya will accept such situations. The scenes inside the judge's house resembles director's old film with Arjun, 'Kondattam'. Like before, this time also the director appears after the climax scene; here the young producer also accompanies him. That area is too lengthy and it gives us restlessness in the end also. An average malayalee won't have any nostalgic feeling seeing the old actress Sarojadevi in a major role.

Soorya did well in the main role. He has performed well in the songs and some of them are visualized in the style of recent films by the same hero. As usual Nayantara is not confident in dance scenes. This is the last film for malayalam actor, late Murali who comes in a character role. Songs by Harris Jayaraj is not popular like the hero's previous films, which can also affect the project.

The action scenes by Kanal Kannan and Farnz (Australia) is fast. The visuals captured by cameraman Ganesh are colorful. The visual effects done in making the hero looks like a young boy is ok and it is maintained well using cut shots; for such a different effort small negatives in it can be pardoned.

Compared to the very recent films by the hero, 'Aadhavan' is not the best. The tempo created in the beginning is also lost in the second half which affected the outcome of the project; but you can watch it for the rising star Soorya.

Rating : 6.5 / 10

The Taking of Pelham 123

Medium : English
Starring : Densel Washington, John Travolta

Direction : Tony Scott

Seeing the posters of a new english film with an unfamiliar name, 'Taking of the Pelham 123', I called upon a friend of mine and asked about it. I have already told you about his potential in giving information regarding the english films. He told about this film, released in the early 70's which carries the theme of a train hijacking, it was a big hit those days and it is now remade with new artists. 'Deja Vu' fame director Tony Scott has re-created the movie.

John Travolta is popular through films like 'Face Off', 'Pulp Fiction', Broken Arrow' etc; but Densel Washington was not so familiar to me compared to the former. Any way hearing the thrilling theme gave me the extra energy to watch the film at any cost. With such an intention I went inside the theater and was sad to see the very less crowd there. The problem in marketing a film won't affect specimens like me, but the majority won't be attracted to theaters because of it. Anyway, no scope for any sentiments once inside the theater, i started watching it.

The film opens with the train scenes followed by the hijacking. The group leader (John Travolta) contacts the guy (Densel Washington) at the controlling section and the demands are given. The New York police takes the case. They are given one hour by the kidnappers for giving the bulk money for the travelers life. Also the kidnappers want the guy at the control room as the mediator. How the travelers are being set freed within the short period of time and what happened to the hijackers is shown here.

No need to describe the caliber the hollywood technicians in handling such a theme and that too for a remake. It is excellently done as expected. The performance of Densel Washington is good. The scene where his honesty and credibility being tested by the kidnappers has got a natural feel and is notable. John Travoltta is different in the negative role with a shaven head and is aggressive also. The way in which the director deals the subject is also notable.

We have seen films like 'Speed' before where a target is fixed already and has to achieve within a matter of time, but here since the target is controlled manually there is every chance for a last minute change, hence this is more thrilling. The cinematography and the editing areas are also top class.

'The Taking of Pelham 123' is an edge of the seat thriller; don't miss it.

Rating : 9 / 10

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja

Medium : Malayalam
Starring : Mammootty, Sarath Kumar, Suman, Manoj K Jayan, Jagathi, Kaniha, Padmapriya
Direction : Hariharan
Script : MT Vasudevan Nair
Music : Ilayaraja

The most awaited malayalam film of the decade has released at last. It has got many specialties. After a gap of 20years, veteran writ
er MT Vasudevan Nair and director Hariharan creates an epic with Mammootty in the lead role; top musician in the country, Ilayaraja works with the director and the script writer for the first time; Oscar winner Rasool Pookkutty's first malayalam movie; tamil actor Sharath Kumar's debut in malayalam; the costliest film ever made in our state; the malayalam film that took a long period to complete the shooting schedules etc. were some of them. Gokulam Gopalan, a relatively new name in the field has produced it, in the middle of many hurdles and hazards. It all happened in the last 3 years for such a multicast mega budget project named 'Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja' which has been released in four languages now.

The film tells the story of the brave ruler Pazhassiraja, who fought against the East India
Company during the 17th century. His palace was attacked and his wealth were looted by the British. Now he started war against them from the covers. He has got many supporters. There were many loses on either sides. Here the main area discussed is the tough time that goes through the ruler's life till his end. How such a great freedom fighter is still remembered at this point of time is what the creators have tried to show through the film.

It is a request that don't ever compare 'Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja' with 'Oru Vadakkan Veera
gadha' which is created by the same team two decades before. May be it is one of the best movies happened in the malayalam film history. But here the circumstances is totally different. A history is totally different from a myth. What all happened in that period is what shown here (an exception is only there in the climax area). The previous movie was straight, silent and it gave more importance for the family sequences and the dramatic areas along with the dialogues. Can you spot a single war sequence in the previous movie. But 'Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja' is not clam, the deep dense forest and the office of the British forms the atmoshere in most areas. Moreover it is flourished with many small and big war scenes. "Less dialogues, more action" is the motto here. 'Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha' is known as the writer's movie, but 'Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja' will be remembered in the name of the director. Hariharan stands behind MT in 'Panchagni', 'Nakhakshathangal', 'Amritham Gamaya', 'Aaranyakam' and 'Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha'. As the situation, demanded the director has dominated for the first time. (i am not pulling down the efforts given by the great writer in creating such an unusual plot on papers...)

'Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja' is technically brilliant in all aspects. The cinem
atographer Ramanath Shetty (did tamil films like 'Allaudin', 'Mrigam' etc) has done a great job here likewise editor Sreekar Prasad. The film which has got many actors along with a bulk of extra artists and that too in the middle of war shots; needs the hands of such experienced technicians. Cameramen like Venu and Manoj Pillai also worked for few scenes.

Another main area to be noted is the music section. I heard many complaints here and there regarding the songs before the release of the film. "kunnathe konnakkum..." by Chitra; "aadiyusha sandhya..." by Yesudas, MG Sreekumar, Chandrasekhar, Vidhuprathap etc; "ambum kombum..." by Ilayaraja, Manjari etc; "aalamadankala..." by MG Sreekumar, Vidhu Prathap, Ashraf, Edavanna Gafoor etc; were among them. Anyway I kept silent for the criticism, I was sure that the songs will be suited well for the situations. Watching the film, my assumption was correct. The songs are blended well according to the situations, especially "aadiyusha sandhya...". It is sad to see that "ambum kombum..." song was not included. But we can't complaint, such compramises have to be done since the length of the film is already 210 minutes. Then, regarding the background score, done by the support of the Budapest Orchestra from Hungary, the musical genius have given one of this best works so far, which holds the backbone for the film. It stands on the top when compared to his works in the bg score side for 'Kalapani', 'Guru', 'Hey Ram', 'Virumaandi' etc.

Sound designing by Rasool Pookkutty is also excellent. The particular shot where the injured hero checks the usage of sword is the best example. I have not seen so far in an indian movie where the war sequences has been covered brilliantly with sounds; which may felt like we are in the war front. Mixing Engineer Anup Dev, who always works for bollywood films has given the best audio output. Art director Muthuraj, Costumers Sai, Vajramani etc might have witnessed sleepless nights during the schedules, but they can claim this as their best project so far. Ravi Dewan from bollywood along with Thyagarajan and Mafia Sasi have composed the best action scenes which involves the 'kalarippayattu', bow and arrow fights along with the sword fights in the film; but they should have avoided graphics shots involving ropes in it which felt un natural.

The performance of all the ar
tists are good. The role of the "roaring lion of kerala" is comfortable in the hands of Mammootty; his scenes towards the end is notable. Sarath Kumar as the lieutenent, Manoj K Jayan as the tribal leader, Jagathi as the mediator and Padmapriya as the tribal lady should be mentioned here.

The problem that can arise while discussing a historical subject may happen in the case of Pazhassi Raja also. Almost all such films are having a common formula. It will be X against Y or vice versa all the time. Since we areaware of the base story, there won't be any chance for a curiosity or a suspense during the journey. But you should keep in mind that in those days the only aim for any citizen was to achieve independence by all means. Hence there is no chance for any dramatic situations, family scenes or any such cliche things which is part of the ordinary masala movies. The producer, director and the script writer who took the boldness to create such a big project should be noted here.

Once out of the theater, a stranger asked whether i have watched the movie, when i said 'yes', he immediately enquired whether Mammootty dies in the end!!! This is where our sensibility lies, we don't know any thing related to history, also the attitude of the audience have changed a lot in the recent past; by asking such a foolish question it is clear that the particular man is a fan of star oriented films; he doesn't want to see the hero dies in the end. who is the culprit here, the creators or the viewers ?!

Movies like 'Kerala Varma Pazhassiraja' happens once in a while; Does it gives any happiness for you by running way from it...? Such bold attempts should be welcomed and appreciated.

Rating : 8.5 / 10

Monday, October 12, 2009

Malai Malai

Medium : Tamil
Starring : Arun Kumar, Prabhu, Prakash Raj, Vedhika, Kastoori

Direction : A.Venkitesh

Music : Mani Sharma

I will be getting upset sometimes, thinking on the fact that some of the tamil / hindi films are not releasing here on the released date itself. Since we are atleast getting a chance to watch them with in 2 months from its release date, no need to be too desperate. I told this because a few days before, when I accidently heard in a tamil tv channel saying that the film 'Malai Malai' had crossed 50days and it is a hit. (But I am sure that is not the reason for me to watch 'Malai Malai'as I won't miss any film that come
across me).

Arun Kumar, born as the son of senior film stars Vijay Kumar and Manjula has got three sisters also, who also have acted in films. But like their parents, no one had been successful in the
film field. Though he was introduced through the film 'Priyam' which didn't do well almost 12years ago, so far he can't claim the credit of a single project which is a hit, till date. Since the example of Vikram is there, Arun Kumar will be living on such expectations.

Like usual tamil film, here also the film starts with the introduction of hero (Arun Kumar) through an action sequence followed by a song. He sees the heroine (Vedhika - 'Kaalai, 'Muni' fame) in his village and likes her. He wants to arrange a bride for his elder brother (Prabhu), but he is not willing. Hero reaches Chennai in search of his lover, gets a job there. He came across the villain and the circumstances made him to fight with the villain. Later his brother also reached there and joins in the revenge episode.

A.Venkitesh, who gave films like 'Chocla
tei', 'Dhum', 'Bhagavathy', 'Kuthu', 'Ey' etc has directed the film in his style. It is fastly moving once it reached the city area. Though Ganja Karuppu, Santhanam, Mayilsami etc are there, that won't be enough to create good comedy scenes. Manisharma's background score is good for the mood. Hero's fight scenes, composed by Kanal Kannan is fast; but most of the time hero and the fighters flies through the air. The cycle chase by the hero is unnatural and it resembles a scene from an old Jackie Chan film.

A.Venkitesh, who did majority of the films directed by Charan ('Gemini', 'Amarkkalam', 'Parthein Rasithen', 'Vasool Raja MBBS' etc) had done a good work. Arun Kumar has done well; likewise Prabhu. Kastoori comes after a short gap here. Both hero and the heroine had done well in the dance scenes also. Prakash Raj did the role with ease.

'Malai Malai' is an usual tamil film only. If i am promoting it that will be an injustice done to you in between your busy schedules.

Rating : 5.5 / 10

Acid Factory

Medium : Hindi
Starring : Irfan Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Fardeen Khan, Aftab Shivdasavani, Diya Mirza
Direction : Suparn Varma
Music : Amar Mohile (bgs), Bappa Lahiri, Shamir Tandon, Gouravdas Gupta

Last week when I saw few shots of the new hindi film in television, suddenly memories of some of the films came to my mind which I saw in the past year
s. 'Kaante', 'Musafir' and 'Zinda' - those who have seen these multi star cast films should know that they all belong to the same category due to the difference in its script and presentation. The greenish color tone of those films made them unique; moreover the man behind those films, director Sanjay Gupta has come up with his new film. It is named 'Acid Factory', but here he is in the role of the producer. Suparn Varma, who has directed 'Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena and had written films like 'Qayamat', 'Zameen' etc is in the director here. He has also followed the same pattern of making, that can give the feel and flavor of a hollywood movie. The script written by the producer and the director combination, is also different.

You don't have any super stars acted in this film, but you are having a big casting in the form of many notable names like Irfan Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Fardeen Khan, Aftab Shivdasavani, Danny Denzongpa, Dino Morea, Diya Mirza etc. As the previous projects, here also the story is told in an action background with a good suspense. The majority of incidents happens inside a single location. Even then the creators have succeeded in presenting the movie without boring. In short the film is about the story of few persons who got stuck up in a location where they have lose their identity for few hours.

I am not going into the detail regarding the theme. As I told earlier, the film is technical brilliant in all its aspects; especially in the cinematography, editing and the grading (output color) area. I heard that 'Acid factory' is inspired from the Hollywood movie 'Unknown'. (Though some people are against such a custom and will make fun of it, I will totally support the remake subjec
ts. The reason is simple; those who are not ready to or not getting a chance to watch the best from english / other language films will get a chance from such remakes).

Cinematography by Sahil Kapoor , Background score by Amar Mohile (he usually works for Ramgopal Varma's films) and the fast direction by Suparn Varma are some of the names behind this which is to be noted.

Those who love action films can watch 'Acid Factory' which is created differently, in a thrilling way.

Rating : 7.5 / 10

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wake Up Sid

Medium : Hindi
Starring : Ranbhir Kapoor, Konkana Sen Sharma, Anupam Kher
Direction : Ayan Mukherjee
Producer : Karan Johar
Music : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Amit Trivedi

Right from the mid 19th century, bollywood has been ruled by the Kapoor family. It starts from Prithviraj Kapoor to the well known show-man Raj Kapoor and later came the era of Shashi Kapoor followed by Rishi Kapoor and now the younger member of the family, Ranbhir Kapoo
r has also started acting since last 2 years. Born as the son of notable star couple, Rishi Kapoor - Neetu Singh, he has started acting through Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Sawariya', then came 'Bachna Ye Haseeno' and now he is starred opposite Konkana Sen Sharma ('Page 3', 'Traffic Signal', 'Mr & Mrs Iyer', 'Aaja Nachle' fame) in 'Wake Up Sid'. It is directed by debutant Ayan Mukherjee and produced by notable director Karan Johar.

Ranbhir Kapoor comes in the role of a student who is not at all serious in his
studies. He has to pay the price for his careless attitude. Though he is born in a rich family, his father (Anupam Kher) doesn't like his son 's irresponsible behaviour. Due to this, the son quarells with his father and leaves the house. In the mean while, he meets the heroine (Konkana), who reaches Mumbai in search of a job. Leaving his own house, he decides to stay with her. She helps her in getting a job and also in moulding his character. Anyway in the end, as it has to be, it is a contrasting change happens in his life.

The attitude of bollywood films has canged a lot in the last 10 years. This fact has been discussed by us several times before. Though there are romantic films still releasing, they are giving some variety subjects also through many new directors like Ramgopal Varma, Madhur Bhandarkar, Ashuthosh Gowariker etc. 'Wake Up Sid' is one such film where the treatment holds the main factor. Konkana Sen Sahrma and Ranbhir Kapoor who did the pivotal roles have given an excellent performance. The situations and the dialogues used in the film are natural. The way in which hero's classmates are shown, the scene in which the hero tells his love and also the portrayal of matured character of the heroine etc are some examples. (...but I doubt the genuinity in the situation where the hero and the heroine stays together in a room for a long time...!!!). Anyway in the end, one might feel that the hero's character has got shades from the real life.

The hero's role, here and there resembles Hrithik Roshan's first half character in 'Lakshya'. The songs given by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are not upto the mark; but we doesn't feel it while watching the movie. Anil Mehta, the senior cinematographer behind films like 'Lagaan', 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna', 'Veer Zaara' etc had given colorful frames.

In my review of 'Sawariya' I told that my comments on the new hero will be given once I watch his future projects only. After 'Wake Up Sid', I felt that Ranbhir Kapoor has also got the talent to acheive a position in a place where his father once ruled.

'Wake Up Sid' is not extra ordinary; but the difference in treatment made it good and it is a relief from the usual bollywood love / masala formula.

Rating : 8 / 10

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Medium : Tamil
Starring : Bharath, Priyamani, Ramyakrishnan
Direction : Suresh Krishna
Music : Deva

An interest in writing a review sometimes depends on the quality of the film also. No need for a suspense, 'Aarumugham' is a very below average film only. Hence a detail description here for such types of films not required. Since I don't want anybody else to be part of the boring ride, i am doing this...

If the actors in the lead roles are not big guns, then the film will be known, based on the director's name. Here Bharath and Priyamani are coming in lead roles; but the director Suresh Krishna is a senior technician in the field who gave superhit films like 'Annamalai' and 'Basha' in the past. Ramykrishnan also comes in a notable role. Music is by Deva.

I am not discussing the story line here. 'Aarumugham' has got the theme that is familiar to us. The director's old hit 'Annamalai' forms the platform for this story. Here also the friendship between a rich and the poor hero (Bharath) is discussed. Rich man's sister is a well known business woman (Ramyakrishnan does this role which has got the shadow of her role in 'Padayappa'). She tried to separate both of them. Thus having lost his belongings, the poor hero is determined to take revenge on the rich family. Through a song he becomes rich and thus he wins the battle in the end.

'Gajendra' (with Vijayakanth), 'Parattai Engirai Azhagusundaram' (with Dhanush) and now 'Aarumugham', the director's films are not doing well in the recent years. We do
n't know why he is going behind the same kind of theme here also. (Don't forget that 'Annamalai' has got superstar's best performance which came in the peak time of his career). Also casting Ramykrishnan in the same type of character as her role in 'Padayappa' or Vijayasanthi's role in 'Mannan', is not a good custom.

Deva gave many good songs in the past especially for this director also. But here, he failed to give at least a good number. Action scenes by Dalapathi Dinesh is also not attractive. The visuals in the song in which the hero remembering his mother is suitable for a film in the 80's; it is horrible to watch it twice in the same film. The concept of a poor becoming a rich through a song is a also very old fashion. The continuity of the hero with the small beard loses here and there. Camera work by Bhoopathy is also ordinary.

'Aarumugham' doesn't have a single positive thing to suggest.

Rating : 2.5 / 10