Thursday, 14 February 2013

Natholi oru cheriya meenalla -Review

'Netholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla' was looked forward with ave,since this curious titling of the movie. Together with its cast and crew which boast of such names as Fahad Fazil, Shankar Ramakrishnan, V K Prakash and Kamaalini Mukherjee,the movie was surmised to be the one which will definitely cater to the needs of viewers who wants strikingly different plots and flicks. And now as this NOCM has turned out to be, it  is a definite watch for the cinephiles who love untapped genres in Mollywood. And for the rest, this may seems to be a tiresome exercise without that characteristic, formulaic beginning or end.
Netholi'takes on a novel premise and transports you to an altogether new world. It is all about a young  commoner named Preman (Fahad fazil)who is aspiring to be on film industry with his writing abilities , but ends up as the caretaker in a multistoried flat, which house many type of people in its ten plus floors. Together with the watcher Vasu and sweeper Kumari, he tries to cater to the needs of all, but finds  a new nick name in 'Netholi' and also,  very little time to spend for his uncompleted scripts, lying bare on his room. With the CCTV outputs of various floors in the monitors of his personal room, Prem is spared with not much free time as the likes of Prabha(Kamalinee), a bold adventure- tourism organiser by profession, who  is hell bent on making him work all days with their list of demands and treating him just like a slave . The husband of a lady on one of the floors phones Prem to have a watch of his wife and to find out where she is going in the disguise of taking dancing classes. But as he starts following this lady, he is caught red handed , which results in him beaten by Prabha and other inmates. Prem decides to quit, but is brought back by his mental guru, who asks him to fight the ladies , back with his power of pen. And soon he starts concentrating on completing his manuscripts  with the men around as his characters. He creates one Narendran (again, Fahad in a stylish look) as the new villain who comes up in to the life of Prabha to teach her a lesson. The movie follows the cat and mouse game and the conflicts between the author and the surrealistic villain character that he creates to accomplish his vengeance on Prabha.
NOCM is not a serious take on any big social issues, but on the attitudes of men. An amusing journey, actually, the first half is embroidered with many thinkpieces and fine observations that result in chuckles. Though some attempts here back fires, the movie has a easy ride  with plenty of mirth in its first hour after which it turns a little serious. The highlight of the movie is the never before attempted story line in Mollywood , that Shankar Ramakrishnan has managed to call it an end without much fuss. That characteristic ending with all punches and tensions are missing though. The makers has also managed to take liberal digs at themselves and new generation movies all through, as the writer sits down to pen down sequences listing out what is on demand and what is not for a genre. So is the final suggestion about VKP's habit of churning out many movies every year.
Fahad Fazil is one actor how continues to amaze us with each of his outings. NOCM is yet another in his list of bests in a complete natural role. He once again proves that he is an accomplished actor, who can handle the comic sequences with as much flourish as the emotional ones. Even his body language in the role of Prem krishan speaks tons and makes the charterer absolutely ravishing. Kamalinee does a super job with her striking screen presence, and appears a damn confident actor, though the lypsync is not  that proper at times. The rest of the cast are fine in their roles with the pick among the lot being Mukundan, playing the deglamourised role of the watcher, with elaan. .
In the technical sides, V K P as usual maintains high standards with Arun James contributing heavily for the beautiful visuals. The songs by  Abhijith are average while Mahesh Narayanan's edit is sharp, except in the scenes where Narendran is seen maltreating the lady.
If a film like NOCM works, it will propel film-makers to travel around this untapped genre of cinema and give them confidence to push the boundaries and undertake risks. But we are not that much sure of the movie's Box Office outing.  On the flip side, a film like NOCM is not everyone's fish and may not be savored and relished by everyone. It's not for, what we label in filmi parlance, 'formualic film audiences'.
Anyway, cheers VKP, Shankar and Fahad , for finding that real difference on screen.

Dracula 2012 3D - Review

After a short gap from his last attempt on horror 'Yakshyum Njaanum', director Vinayan is back with a desi verison of Dracula, with portions shot abroad in rare locales never ever seen in Mollywood. But as you expected this to be, this '2012 Dracula' also ends up as another movie with some style but with a wafer thin storyline, and poor scripts .
The movie has Sudheer as Roy who with his newly wed Lucy go on a honeymoon trip to Transylvania in Romania. While visiting the Bran Castle fortress , he gets in touch with the spirit of Count Dracula and very soon the count who appear as a demon surges into Roy's body making him a vehicle for ' Dracula'. He comes back in a new name , starts living in a dark bungalow, looking for pretty sirens to drink gallons of blood. He finally to land up to meet 'Princess Meena', a look alike of the count's lady love who gave up her life for Dracula, centuries back in Romania. In attempts to add to the scary feel, there are plenty of darker scenes,  cemeteries, black magic, and the mandatory psychiatrist .Vinayan even attempts to redo a 'Manchithrathaazhu,'towards the climax as a saving grace which even falls flat.
The big pitfall of this movie seems to be a pathetically written screenplay. Even the dialogues are hackneyed, which unintentionally turns comical at times. Even the so called highlight of 3D effects appear poor after the initial impressions.
The lead of the plot, Sudhir Sukumaran looks good in the role with a nicely toned torso and menacing stares. Vinayan continues with his craze of portraying women in skimpy outfits which may satisfy a few. The four ladies are elements of decoration here demanded in skinny attires, that they very well do.Thilakan, Nasser and Prabhu are all wasted in silly roles.
In the absence of any good scripts, the movie relies on external factors like camera movements and sound effects to cause thrills.    The technical sides are good with some fine 3D effects that appear engaging in the initial reels.But the music and lyrics are petty pedestrian.
With 'Dracula 2012 3D' Vinayan is in no mood to get out of his recent poor encounters at the Box Office. Another epic disappointment for the fans of the director, if they still exist.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Vishwaroopam - Review

Christmas Eve can make for a very peculiar situation when you are little kid. All those gifts have been wrapped up and are waiting for you under the tree and you've already been told that you will love it. But there's a catch, you cannot open them until the next day, and all the while you are anxious to find out why other people think you will love it.  The thought that it's going to be a surprise just for you drives you mad, yet you eagerly hold your horses without taking a sneak peek at them, just to feel the "wow" first-hand, at the right time.
When you think about it, it's funny how films can invoke similar emotions in you. Only this time, the wait has been far too long, more than the opening day and more than the blockbuster weekend. Vishwaroopam has made all of Tamil Nadu look forward to a court verdict and has come closest to make the people pay respect for art instead of succumbing to piracy. Having already lost a good portion of what's at stake, Kamal Hassan's so called "magnum-opus" is here.
After a couple of weeks packed with drama, it can be understood why Kamal Hassan gave his everything to Vishwaroopam. The moment you set your eyes upon it, you know that it was worth the wait. It boasts a level of thought that raises the bar for even Kamal Hassan who is known for his dedication. The end product invariably is an action packed thriller that leaves behind most fundamental laws of Tamil cinema, and with all its disparity holds on to stay that way.
The production value behind Vishwaroopam is just stupendous. You haven't seen spy films from India like this before, not in any age and as the plot pulsates between the back story and the present, you are soon left unable to keep count of the sophistication. Kamal's presence is benevolent across departments. His witty dialogues that possess crude and groovy meanings are plenty. Some of them, which survived the screening, are truly outrageous and impressive. Despite the gory nature of the screenplay, the film offers something to everyone (maybe except kids) and lets you dwell on a handful of little tales until the last frame. Shortly put, it's brilliant.
Kamal Hassan's job as director is obviously mind-boggling. But, he doesn't waver from his usually breathtaking levels of acting. His character in the film has been stretched to include three different personas altogether, each representing a different extremity of art. The natural humour resonates through the first fifteen to thirty minutes of the film, when he is the animated Kathak master which is alone worth the money you paid for the ticket. As he transcends into a more aggressive and imposing role, his effort makes way for everything else to follow. To have pulled this off after his obsession with the rest of the act deserves dozens of standing ovations.
As the Kamal avalanche continues to course, the rest of the actors gather together the bits and pieces and make the film more convincing. The lead man leaves enough room for others to excel, despite the dominance. Rahul Bose is first in order for job well done as a jihad villain. He has been dragged around to play a similar role to Kamal in a good-portion of the film, and is sure to have appealed across the various versions of the film. Andreah and Pooja Kumar are pawns carefully placed to add value rather than hinder the experience. Additional characters including Nasser, Shekhar Kapur, Jaideep Ahlawat and dozens of minor unnamed characters lift the project to Hollywood standards and bring forward a lesson in detailing that most of Indian cinema still lacks.
Sanu Varghese's camera is another pivotal point of the film. There's too much going on for you to comprehend it immediately, like the stunts and the dialogues. The height of it is seen with the backstory, shot to look like Afghanistan, as people, soldiers, helicopters, machine guns and emotions are all thrown into the mix. The stop-and-go focus on dialogues has good impact, even more than the background score.
So this is an action, spy thriller. You'd expect the hero to be present everywhere and do everything himself. But things are different. Despite all the hardcore nature put into his role, Kamal isn't always the lead action guy; he rarely pulls of crazy stunts. Instead, the film goes through a lot of gunfire, a lot of bombing and you feel like you are seeing the film from his perspective, rather than witnessing him take down everything evil with his own bare hands. This means a perfect recipe for an engaging thriller, that also has some masala for the masses.
While all the pluses can be overwhelming, you are required to pay close attention to identify  the flaws  in Vishwaroopam. The biggest, perhaps, would be the background score. The soundtracks were used amazingly, but on several occasions, the BGMs tend to become repetitive and sometimes even out of place. And even if it is Kamal Hassan running the show, spy films are spy films. There are a bunch of necessary evils added in, like terrorists speaking Tamil, the innocent civilian turning into a hero, and a story line that's not the first of its kind. But the way he does it, no one would really be complaining.  But, the minor flaws after a hyped up films brings you back to reality and to realistic adjectives to describe the film.
Will Vishwaroopam offend anyone? Oh yes, it will. It boundaries onto several sensitive issues and Kamal's creativity has never been approved by cinema. That's no reason to ask him to be orthodox. The man hasn't made up anything out of thin air, of course, and the most outrageous parts of the film also tend to be the most truthful. After all, Vishwaroopam is commercial enough to be watched by everyone, and instead of doing well to justice his art; it will do justice to his investment as well.
Rating - 4/5 - artistic, thought provoking and thrilling all at once
Verdict - a potpourri of everything-best from Indian cinema

Kadal - Review

So it's time we saw a Mani Ratnam film again. The director appears once every three years, with his insurmountable reputation and brings along a ton of critics who try to pass judgement. Every film of his is intriguing in one-way or the other irrespective of whether it tastes commercial success. As always, his project is spearheaded by Rahman's exuberant music, which has reached the height of creativity on this occasion. The real test of character will come in the theatres and we have a good idea what to look at.
The film begins in fabulous fashion and you feel the Mani Ratnam touch right away. The director has immediate impact and you get a feeling that this might just be it. Embracing a story that's quite conventional for his standards, he seems to be taking a safer path, quite different from his attempts in previous films. The screenplay clicks in well through the first period and what you get is a racy storyline. Sparks of brilliance here and there make things rather interesting. The attention to detail and character sketching are attributes to Mani's experience and earnest style that just clicks.
The movie tells the story of the lead pair, Thomas and Beatrice who struggle as their lives are caught between good and bad. Mani tries to instil the duality of nature in complex ways. Thomas, in an attempt to face problems thrown at him takes a path of aggression. He soon question himself on what to do oscillating between good and evil. How the protagonist manages to get through all the complex transitions taking place around him is the underlying story.
During the interval, you expect the story to improvise upon the efforts of the first half but unfortunately, things take a detour. Instead of going straight down and convincing the audience, the screenplay slopes down and turns to commercialism. Mani's expertise doesn't have too much room here, despite his ability to pack action and drama into his usual way of story telling. A few questionable moments and a lot of worrying logic lapses, you feel sad for what the movie comes down to.
One of the talking points of the film would be debutant Gautham Karthik. The youngster is full of energy and has an awful lot to do before the movie even settles down. And with the most engrossing sequences, he shines and makes you take notice. There aren't a lot of things going right for him, and his character isn't exactly ideal for a newcomer, but those are all little shrugs of the shoulder away from falling back on track. He deserves a pat on the back for his efforts.
Thulasi Nair, as young as a heroine might get at 15, doesn't get as lucky as her co-star. In all fairness, the actress looks out of place in a plot that could have had more for her. Her expressions are often cute and her smiles rather unique. But her efforts are far too little to handle a collapse in plot. Maybe at her age, being in the film is just as valuable as portraying an award winning role. She will have to wait it out until her next to impress.
Two pivotal characters in the film, Aravind Swamy and Arjun are pillars of strength to Kadal. The former, making a comeback after twelve years is at his best and will be an unsung hero at the very end. His acting has gone nowhere, and his refreshing dialogues catch you off guard and remind you of his existence. Arjun on the other hand dons a role that's quite new to him, dark and enigmatic. His dialogue delivery is exquisite and builds the story to better heights, even if an avalanche of mishaps is always around the corner. Thambi Ramiah seems to have finally gotten some attention he deserves and is making it to the big league. Lakshmi Manchu gets a short role and could have had more to showcase her skills.
As one might expect, A.R.Rahman's music is just brilliant. But great songs and background scores don't make up movies on their own. Out of the pack of amazing numbers, three manage to be stand out music videos - Elay Keechan, Adiye and Nenjukulley. The impact is certainly felt and the feeling of listening to the music is always special. However, some of the song sequences are just plain, and far below the director's standard. The racy score, as emotions hurdle up and down one scene after the other are highlights. At least, one man has delivered well.
Technically, Kadal is as brilliant as any other Mani Ratnam film. Rajiv Menon's camera brings light to the shots as wonderfully as you might expect. The locals are brilliant and lot of groundwork seemed to have been made to shape up the entire idea. Jayamohan's work on the dialogues is evident when you struggle to grasp on to the dialect on a few occasions where the slang is just overwhelming. An ideal combination, one would have thought to make up a great success story.
But at the end of the day, Kadal turns out to be very average. Dipped in commercialism that is very uncommon to Mani, the story slips and fumbles way to quickly in the latter half. Disappointing at best, the movie still has a few talking points like the music, or the exuberant lead actor and the roles played by Aravind Swamy and Arjun. However, the story tells you how even Mani Ratnam can sometimes suffer from a lack of consistency.  Maybe we will have the raise the standards again to get the best out of the director.
Rating - 3/5 - overly commercial and no real Mani Ratnam effect
Verdict - too obvious to be an entertainer, too downplayed to be a classic

David - Review

Lately Movie buffs have been thirsty without "Vishwaroopam" due to the drama surrounding it. So as a major relief we have the "Clash of the Titans" with Maniratnam's "Kadal" and Bejoy's "David" hitting the screens today. Now David sports a huge team, rich in acting, music, and cinematography to mention a few. Bejoy Nambiar's fresh experimentation will be the highlight, as the film releases with a slight alternate version in Hindi. This will also be one of the fastest films by our Chiyaan Vikram and Jiiva, according to Kollywood gossip. Not to forget the array of music directors, a total of eight different artists have their hand in it and already being called as a "Trend setter of all sorts". The trailer has already given a glimpse of what's in the store, so let's take a brief look at what the movie is:
The Plot:
Movie is set across different time zones (1999 & 2010) and locations (Mumbai & Goa). Jiiva plays the aspiring guitarist raised in a devout Christian family. He looks like a million bucks and charms in the first half with his chirpy attitude. His desire comes with hurdles owing to his family economic woes. He detests his father's (Nasser) over pious nature and exceeding social conscience, and has big plans of becoming a renowned Guitarist. A local political wing alleges the priest on forcing religion conversion and begrimes the family. Struck in shame and pain, the plot evolves slowly around David and his family. The follow up of incidents provokes young and suave David to take a step that would change his life forever. Lara Dutta makes a special appearance in this side of story as well.
The other David's character is etched as the freaky fisherman in Goa portrayed by Vikram. He essays a hopeless guy who boozes all day and night broods over his problems, only venting it out to Frenny (Tabu).  Falling heads over heels for the fairy-tale kind of girl Roma, David jeopardizes his relationship with Roma as she is already engaged with his best friend. He finds solace by voicing his complications to his illusionary dad and Massage owner Tabu. The crux of the story forms by what he does to his love and friend. Watch out to find what happens to both the Davids!
Technical aspect:
Cinematography is by Rathnavelu and P.S.Vinod for respective scenes figuring Vikram and Jiiva and they give an intelligent difference with unique depiction. Music cannot be singled out, as it's a team effort and they have not given any jarring differences and instead treated the movie as two exclusive stories.

What's good and what's not:
Bejoy's innovative tryst in David is one of the major assets of the film. The "Shaitaan" director has a flair for lateral film making and rests his strengths on Vikram and Jiiva throughout. Tabu undoubtedly is a value for money kind and she induces the look and act which can remain in our thoughts for a while. Jiiva is fresh and he is a real treat to watch, sure to catch the winks of his female fans. Vikram is the usual cool dude and looks fabulous. Isha Sharvani's innocent looks grasps you without a doubt and makes you wonder when she might come onscreen again.
Some of the dubbing scenes in the movie is a real let down and one can easily make out that few portions with Vikram was filmed in Hindi and dubbed to Tamil rather than originally making in Tamil itself. Vikram' s character as a  "lazy happy go drink all day" is portrayed with no real qualms , yet gives a sense of boredom after a point, as he is rarely seen without a drink. All these lead to generating interest in Jiiva's story as it tests you to predict rather than Vikram's which gives you a hint of what's next. The transition between the two stories is surprisingly impeccable in this high voltage drama and the cinematographers and the director deserve an ardent pat for that. The screenplay is quicker in the first half and drags a bit in the second half.
Music is a clear winner, with all 8 musicians captivate and immerse you in a whale of harmony never heard before. The story of fisherman David has a lovely BGM with a lot of beachy tunes definitely making you shake a leg.
David becomes the lover, turns into a guitarist, springs as a friend, jumps into a sea of anger, rolls in laughter and all said hold the phone!, the climax is the surprise element in the movie.
David is twin story induced in a single film with all elements making it a worthy watch.
Stars : 3.25/5

Annayum Rasoolum - Review

Not many films in the history of Mollywood have dealt with the subject of love with this much passion and intensity. With hardly any verbal overtones to put across the emotions, Rajeev Ravi's "Annayum Rasoolum' is a movie that need to be watched with tolerance and real attention, to savor that rare cinematic experience. Annyum Rassolum'  isn't one of those films that merely entertains, but also enlightens. Boasting of a story that instantly strikes a chord, the movie has been treated with such sensitivity and maturity with no space for a candy floss romance.With a fine screenplay that believes more on the power of visuals, and exemplary performance from its lead players and its technical crew, this debut offer from Rajeev is the fine way to kick start a meaningful filmy year.
The movie has Fahad Faasil as Resul,  a taxi driver, who lives in a modest area in Kochi. And when he meets Anna (Andrea Jeremiah)a sales girl working in a popular apparel shop, Rasul falls head over heels for her, always following her on the ways and on the boat on which she travels regularly to her work place. But as with every case of every first love, they find it difficult to express their feelings for each other as they are all from dysfunctional families and situations. And when they later find ways to tide over their hesistancies  and  personal  insecurities of religion and society, stimulating the lost romance in relationships,  Rasul get embroiled in roguish acts of his friends, on which he has little clues for. The movie is told through the narration of Ashley(Suny Wayane), one of the friends of Rasul. The movie has a perfect backdrop of Fort Kochi and near by areas, with so much realistic settings that other film makers may envy upon .
'Annayum Rasoolum' heralds the birth of a topnotch storyteller in Rajeev Ravi. He has perfected the screenplay by Santosh Echikkanam with his mastery of visuals making it a far cry from the mundane stuff. Madhu Neelakantan has really worked overtime to help Rajeev execute it with this panache, to have it heart at the right place with a mesmeric visuals of Kochy.  The camera captures every minute detail, every emotion, and every tear with precision.Note that in majority of the intense emotional sequences, the film maker hardly takes the aid of dialogues, often muting the entire audio, even without the support of any effects, yet remaining marvelously effective. Indeed, a real tribute to the power of visuals by a cinematographer turned director.
Yesteryear singer Mehboob's songs like 'Kayalinakkare' and Kandu randu' have been intelligently used by the music director 'K' in the film which makes it a nostalgic trail . His other tracks and BG scores are also first rate.
The lone aspect that weighs this 160 minute long film downward is the fact that the narrative totters in the middle of the second hour , when the story doesn't really move frontward which make some feel  restless. In fact, the narrative could've been crisper, with the editor using the scissors judiciously in this hour for a better impact at the theatre cash windows. Rajeev Ravi couldn't have cast any better actors here than what he is blessed with in 'Annayum Rasoolum'. And it is high time it turn cliched while you write about the finesse of the actor Fahad Faasil while dealing with subtle roles. Once again, his is a performance that makes the best of performances pale in comparison, flawless and astounding. He seems to have ran that extra length, which may bag him brownie points in the year's ceremonies, and immense fans , ofcourse. Andrea Jeremiah with a stoic look gels perfectly to her mysterious character and is a delight to watch with awesome support from the director who used the best shots of her eyes to tell a lot of emotions that were never discussed explicitly.
Watch out for the delightful performers in Shrinda Ashad and Shine Thomas Chako as the onscreen couple Fazila and Abdhu. One of the most natural actor of the new generation, Sunny Wayne' also impresses with his natural, easy on the eyes performance and narration. Also have a heartwarming performances of  Aashiq Abu, Renjith , P Balachandran,  Joy Mathew, and Soubin Shahher who lends right shades to their characters.
On the whole, 'Annayum rasoolum' resets the standard rules of this genre. Besides, the film makes you cognizant that serious cinema can be uniformly delightful, like any other action-packed entertainer. Recommended! On the whole, this eternal love story is more for the discerning viewer of Mollywood.

Romans - Review

In the much anticipated follow up to their last big hit 'Ordinary', Biju Menon and Kunchakko Boban comes up with a comic riot packed with hilarious moments, amusing gags, witty one-liners and uproarious situational comedy in the new 'Romans'. By  choosing a workable plot with adequate suspense and gags, director Boban Samuel sticks to the basic formulaic stuff and ensure that not a moment go with out engaging you. With such nutty escapades that are not fashioned to appease a miniscule minority of those viewers who are not in sync with the sensibilities of a majority of moviegoers, the sole motive of  'Romans' is to entertain than to look for hard logic.
The movie has kunchakko Boban as Akash ,an young magician by profession while Biju Menon is Shibu, a pickpocket . While they are taken to a jail by rail, they manage to jump off the train and to flee from the hands of the cops. After wandering a while in the border district of Kerala, they finally lands up in the footsteps of an old church, which had been closed for some time. The villagers who were actually waiting for the two new priests from Father Gabriel's seminary (Vijayaraghavan), destined to reopen the church surrounded by evil myths and to restart its prayer service and proceedings, instantly mistake them as clergymen. Unacquainted of the dark history of the church, Akash and Shibu decide to pose there as Priests who comes from Rome, as it provides them a shelter from the police. They get rechristened as Father Sebastian and Father Paul and start doing little magic tricks and convince the poor villagers about their holiness. All is well for the two priests until the arrival of Father Gabriel to the village to conduct the annual festivities( Palli perunaal, )that was long been pending. The surprises that await them after the arrival of Gabriel achan and the reasons behind the evil myths and mysteries about the earlier priests form the backbone of this comedy entertainer.
Taking liberal inspiration from many Bollywood and Hollywood films including 'Guide' to 'C I D moosa', Boban Samuel  has integrated a generous dose of lighter moments in all his films.The story lines by Y V Rajesh, who also embellish it with enough jokes all through makes it hugely entertaining  . The story also has many fragile ends and is a little predictable , but  is dealt with utmost care to avoid spotting them easily.
Kunchakko Boban and Biju Menon are at the best of their recent performances. While Kunchakko manages with a very controlled act, Biju Menon makes the best out of another light role. Their timing is perfect and effective and duo shares a fine chemistry on screen. Nivedha thomas as the heroine, looks beautiful but appears a miscast in the role. T G Ravi, Kochu Preman, Nelson and Lalu Alex are also good in the supporting cast.
The technical sides of the movie appear superior in terms of visuals and also in production design. The dazzling locales are pure eye-candy, with fine cinematography by Vinod Illampally who takes the best of the visuals of the church and the premises to the needed effect. The BG scores by Biji pal, that gives the mood of country films of the west is impressive, while the two songs by M Jayachandran sink well with the narratives.
These 'Romans is not for those who can't stand masala movies and label them 'brain dead' or 'cheesy, but is targeted at the massive number of spectators who relish zany capers. If you are a member of this group , it's double the fun and  guffaws this time;  almost  sure in leading to another  commercial hit.
Rating - 6.5/10