Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Ennum Eppozhum" - Same bus, but a more comfortable ride !

Disclaimer : I don't have a master degree in the art of review writing and forget about film making I haven't even seen a film shooting in my life. But still writing a film review and airing it in public does come under my freedom of expression and if someone avoids a film after reading my review then lets call it his /her freedom of choice. Until all these freedoms are intact, I have only one thing to say to critics of critics (including that Riggan Thomson in Birdman ) .. BITCH PLEASE !

Less than 50 words (recommended for the busy folks)
Anthikad bus might still be running in the same route and still have that usual drag in the middle, those boring background music etc. But at least by throwing out some of the heavy and obsolete items from the bus and with Lalettan in driving seat the ride is definitely more comfortable this time

Less than 2 pages (recommended for those who want to kill some time) --> SPOLIER ALERT
I am not a big fan of Sathyan Anthikad version II. But I have to admit that this movie not just met my expectations but at times, to my surprise, it went beyond as well. Allow me to elaborate

Meeting expectations :
When ever I plan to take my parents to a theater, choosing the right movie is always the tricky part. I need to strike a balance between not too "new-Gen" and not too obsolete. An Anthikad movie in the list will relieve me from thinking any further. It's a perfectly safe bet for a 'family' audience and it's probably the only reason I saw his recent movies in theaters. The expectation was not so different this time and was definitely not disappointed

Exceeding expectations
1. Embracing 'Lean' process : There is a method in our manufacturing domain called "Lean" where we eliminate waste in the process, in order to bring focus to what really adds value. The biggest waste in Anthikad's recent movies, with out a shade of doubt, is the excessive advices and an overdose of goodness especially in his main character. There were times where in the middle of the movie I doubt whether I am in a movie theatre or a counseling center. Here the advising is almost extinct and the hero is a lazy, irresponsible and occasionally rude fellow who is definitely not a role model, but surely more 'human' !

2. The well timed ending: The way things were moving in the first 2 hours I thought its going to take at least 5 hours to finish. Just when I was getting ready for a marathon, the movie did a sudden break and almost everyone in the theatre was in doubt whether its actually over. It was more like Anthikad had a timer watch and when it was exactly 2.5 hours he told "Cut and Pack up". But I still love that abrupt ending which avoided a possible kidnap, stunt and even a formal proposal at the end!

3. The Lalettan effect : He might have some flops recently both in and out of silver screen, but when it comes to satisfying an average Malayalee viewer especially with subtle humor, undoubtedly he is still the best in business. You can either put it on director for not giving enough space for other characters to grow or you can attribute it to Lalettan's brilliance, but the character that steal the lime light and is going to stay in your memory is Lalettan's  Vineeth N Pillai. You take out Lalettan effect and all that remains is just another below average family movie


Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Sapthamashree Thaskaraha" - 7 reasons for watching it !

Rating : 3.5/5

1) Inspired from Oceans .. but not copied

The moment I saw the first poster of this movie I smelled Ocean's 11. The teaser only made the feeling stronger. There are of course some Ocean's 11 style here and there like the idea of thieves stealing from a bigger and stronger thief, a team with each having specific skills, a calm and peaceful boss whom others don't question much etc. But thats it ... apart from those little 'inspirations' movie keeps its own soul and its own style. If you like Ocean's style of movies, you are surely going to love this (but it goes with out saying - "Don't go with an 'Ocean'ic expectation)

2) Genuine Comedy

We saw it in Pranjiyettan and later in Punyaalan, how Thrissur slag can by itself create some comedy. Add to that a director who knows how to make comedy with out a lot of slapstick and double meanings and what you get is a pleasant humorous mood through out

3) Performance - Its not just about Hero

For Pritvi and Asif its comparatively less challenging role. The one who actually scores and gets applauds are some of the other thieves especially Sudheer, Vinod, Neeraj etc

4) Cut-the-crap editing

There is hardly a drag anywhere and the best part is the way certain cliché scenes were totally avoided thereby trusting the common sense of viewers. Like for example there is a scene where simple paper cutting is shown and avoided a whole set of flash back explanations(which a viewer can easily guess any ways). This helped the movie to carry on its pleasant fun ride with out disturbance

5) Music/Background score - Hits the right note

Its important not to overuse BGM especially in thrillers. Here BG score and music are used in right amounts and only when it is needed

6) Cinematography - Fresh & colourful

Well, I would say the camera did its job neatly, which of course is to make the scenes more fresh and watch-able

7) Light hearted time pass !

This movie might not carry the fuel for a detailed philosophical/idealogical dissection by reviewers and its not a movie which haunts you or injects you with pain (emotional or a bad head ache). The movie does at times peeks in to certain debatable topics like the ideal punishment for a rapist, the morality of stealing from a thief etc. But it manages to bring the focus back to its original track which nothing but a light hearted comedy thriller.

And DON'T watch it if ...

If you are expecting any of the below things, then better don't waste your time and money on this movie
  •  A Pritvi/Asif action thriller
  •  A touching emotional drama
  •  Comedy inspired from Tom&Jerry and Adult jokes

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"1 by Two" -- A Perfect Psychological Thriller (3.5/5)

In Short ...

VERDICT : Its not the kind of a movie where you go in groups and shout and clap after each scene. Rather its advisable to watch it in a silent crowd with full focus. Its a treat for all who could enjoy a dark psychological thriller !

In Detail ...

When was the last time you grumbled about lack of innovations in Malayalam movies, its usage of age old formulas and boring clichés over and over across the years .. Well I felt it all the time and often wondered why our directors are so afraid of experiments 

Today I seem to have got a clue. Here is this movie which I felt is the best (and probably the first) complete psychological thriller in Malayalam and even then just before the scheduled start of the movie there were a total of 4 people in the queue including me and my partner. We were standing there helplessly waiting for another couple of folks to join to make the minimum quota of six people required to start the show. All this on a weekend and within the first week of the movie. In the mean time the queue next to us was filling up in no time and no wonder its Allu Arjun's dubbed-to-malayalam mass movie 'Lucky' !!

Highlight #1 --> A different path
In my book one of the key quality of an ideal thriller is its ability to involve viewers as part of the movie and make them use their imagination as well. For instance in the case of Hollywood thriller 'Memento' you can find tons of articles online where viewers still discusses different possibilities , alternative endings and their interpretations of certain scenes. In our desi thrillers there is usually no room for such post movie discussions since the complete solution is often wrapped along with the puzzle. '1 by Two' gives enough space for the viewers to think and leaves certain points unanswered for us to fill. Kudus to the director for choosing a way less travelled in this part of the world

Highlight #2 --> Avoided distractions
Another area where our thrillers usually fails in the inability to avoid certain unnecessary distractions (read just-like-that songs, needless fights,  unwanted romance etc). But through out this movie there is hardly anything unwanted and out of context

Highlight #3 --> Performance
I remember actor Bharath Gopi once mentioning about the strain he used to puts towards the perfection of a role. I haven't seen much of Bhrath Gopi movies, but watching his son Murali Gopi I got a taste of what he meant. Murali Gopi's acting is undoubtedly brilliant, but more than that you can clearly feel the effort and dedication from the actor towards making the character(s) perfect. Not a lot of space for Fahad Fazil and Honey Rose and especially for Fahad the emotionally charged police officer role is merely a walk in the park. Special mention to Shyama prasad's 'natural' cameo as a psychologist 

Could have improved #1 --> Too much English

There was a disclaimer with justification at the start of the movie about the usage of languages other than Malayalam. But still one could feel that English is a little over-used especially in parts where it was totally unwanted

Tail piece -- <<< SPOILERS ALERT >>>

I could feel a strange resemblance of the movie with the last known psychological thriller in Malayalam 'Manichithrathazhu'. The way Dr Sunny justifies the super natural incidents with the power a person gets during the psychological 'role play' makes a lot of sense in this movie also. Also climax of Shobhana's Nagavalli can be compared with Murali's Pisharadi. How ever the major difference is that while 'Manichitrathazhu' focuses on humour in the first half and switch to thriller in the next, '1 by Two' chooses to stick as a pure psychological thriller pretty much through out !

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Queen - Celebration of womanhood !

Queen, is a simple story, beautifully told and so charmingly presented by Kangana that even if you were her strongest critique, you will start loving her after watching the performance.. 

Going further .. (with a pinch of SPOLIERS)

Reading the plot and seeing the trailer you could easily mistake the movie as a typical feministic type where its a story of a woman against her fiancee who dumped her a day before the marriage. But the movie in reality is not restricted to a woman's fight against men. Rather its a fight within, a struggle that ends up in self discovery. It coveys to you silently that women don't need to fight men to be equal, rather they should win the battle within themselves and once that is done the other war is inconsequential. The smile in Rani's face during the last scene of the movie tells it beautifully !

It also shows women not only needs to fight against men and social system that brought her up, but the main adversary is often other women. Here it starts from her 'over-caring' mother who can't even spare the thought of her daughter going out alone and also her 'to-be' mother-in-law whose idea of fun does not go beyond making tea for herself and gossiping.

The movie is also about introspecting the cultural dual - East vs West 
It tells you how our so called traditional beliefs and 'proud' Sanskruiti is more or less patriarchal and restrictive in nature especially for women and also how the western/foreign culture which a lot of us considers immoral and 'caring-less-for-relations' type is actually more open and exclusive. In the movie when Vijay sees foreigners as bad and dangerous, Rani finds friendship and love from the same. It tends to tell you that good and bad is not determined by where you are from or the culture you are tagged to, but rather it lies within our own mind and how we views the world around us !

The movie is a celebration of womanhood .. not the one which revolves around  idea of "Na sthree swathanthram arhati", but the one where woman finds her freedom and lives her dream !!

Happy woman's day :)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

'Om Shanti Oshana'

I used to do a lot of beating around the bush and catch the rabbit only at the end. Considering 'popular' demand, this time I am first catching the rabbit and will leave the bush beating for later. Here comes rabbit,

Rabbit a.k.a Verdict 
There has been a lot of debates on what we should expect from a movie. Well, the question one should really ask is what you expect out of a movie. And if you expect a no-nonsense, fun filled, feel good entertainer where there is hardly a chance to get bored at any point, then don't think twice before going to 'Om Shanti Oshana'

Beating around bush
(+) When I list down the positive points in my review I usually try to list down the best one first. But in this case there was a very close battle between the Director and the Hero of the movie. Finally 'Jude Antony Joseph' the director narrowly overtook Nazriya the 'Hero'. Through out the movie you could feel the imaginary presence of director. He is more like a composer who is always there making sure that the tune never goes below the 'fun' range. There were instances where it seems to be dipping to 'sentimental' area, but a moment later its back to the track. There was a sense of freshness and innovation through out and editing was crisp to avoid any unwanted scenes. The movie also tend to go with a progressive mind set, which  also seems to reflect the director's out look

(+) No, its not a typo to mention Nazriya as the Hero of the movie. As already told in the trailers, its totally her movie. The naughty teenage girl role was a cake walk to her and she hardly need to 'act', but nevertheless she does have an excellent screen presence and was able to take the movie in those little shoulders with her natural mannerisms. But what really impressed me about her is the way in which she was able to change herself during the sentimental scene. Even though it was a very brief one, she was able to absorb the emotion pretty well and was able to connect with the viewers. She does have a long way to go

(+) Nivin Pauly, Aju Varghese and three 'other' directors did their role beautifully.The movie 'technically' was also excellent, thanks to camera, music and other stuffs. Let me leave further interrogation to the experts

(-) Honestly, I don't see anything worth highlighting as negative here. May be director could have avoided the cliched idea of hero being young 'communist' worker whose father was an old communist leader of that village (how many times we saw that) and might have tried a different route, like an 'Aam Aadmi' so ;-)

Tail end
From the 'Thank you' note at the beginning of the movie, where he thanks his girl friend who ditch him at the right time, its clear that director is a survivor of lost love. But it seems he did manage to make a creative use of it. How will you otherwise describe the classical theory of 'lost love' he narrated using Vineeth in the movie. The heart warming literature piece by using 'gancha', Orkut' and 'mustache' as metaphors of lost love can only come out of a true heart broken lover. Salute to the creativity :-)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

1983 - 'a movie with a heart'

'1983' will remind you of a typical one day match. The first 20 overs of power play is stunning with big shots and lots of entertainment. Then slowly it drags back in the middle overs with singles and occasional boundaries. But finally towards the slog overs it gets the momentum back and ends in a flurry !

Sports movies are usually a risky subject and its not easy to give some thing to the audience more than what they already expect. I won't say that '1983' is a perfect movie or a sure-shot blockbuster but its a neat little entertainer with a lot of heart. Also the director deserves the credit for taking a different route and not following those typical underdog sport movies where the climax will irrespectively be a match in which protagonist ends up becoming the hero by hitting a last ball six or a last minute goal !


(+) Bringing back those good old days 
For lot of us, our younger days were filled with these backyard cricket with 'Dubber' ball or tennis ball and no matter what others think we know how seriously we used to see those matches. And in this movie from the the team 'selection' to the dialogues during the play, from the 'rules' for dismissals to those combined search for ball lost in the bushes, it was just as if the director took a page from our good old days and brought it back to us in silver screen

(+) Realistic story telling
When a man realizes his passion, then everything else in his life ends up secondary and this passion will not easily die with age or with the responsibilities life brings. If you understands this concept, then it will be easier to understand 'Rameshan' and the movie. Other than cricket the movie is also about 'Rameshan's life from his age 10 to 40 and I love the way the story slipped through each phase of his life

(+) Those LOL Moments
Cricket matches, the second 'Sachin' (especially that 'Kaakka' question.. I am still thinking about it !), first night scene... there are a lot of really funny moments which makes it a worthwhile watch

(-) Middle overs 
I still feel the middle portion could be a little trimmed. The 2.5 hour duration of the movie made me almost forget the first half entertainment by the time movie is over

Verdict - 
If you don't like cricket at all, still you might end up liking the movie, if you follow cricket, you will surely love it and if you played these gully backyard cricket at some point in your life then you better not miss this ..  !

Tail piece - 1983 is a special year for me too. But unlike Rameshan I missed that the world cup match. What can I do since at that time I was still on my way from dressing room to the ground ;)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

'Oru Indian Pranayakadha'

Short version : 
Take out Fahad Fazil from the equation and its just another big yawn. I call it another one of those typical Anthikad soaps, may be in a better, colorful pack this time !

Detailed version: 
There was a time when Sathyan Anthikad was one of my favorite directors who delivers simple and fresh feel good movies. But with all due respect to the veteran, I felt his engine ran out of gas(a.k.a 'creativity') at some point around early 2000's. Our actor Salim kumar put it in a better way by comparing it with buses running in the same route ...

Because of all these I was reluctant to go to Anthikad movies lately, but this time after seeing the humorous 'Netavu' song and Fahad's guarantee I finally fell it to it. The movie started promisingly by depicting the life of a young ambitious leader pretty well and the bus seemed to travel in a different direction . The apolitical 'Sandesham' model view of director was quite evident but I can still live with that. As it went on, towards midway the shades of familiar route slowly started to show it signs. And by second half the movie begin to follow the predictable direction with those boring sentimental scenes, cliched farewell moments etc and I started my chain of yawns

There are certain predefined notions in our movies and when you don't have a lot of creative ideas, you tend to move towards safer side and stick to these rules. Like the case of so called 'interval punch' which is defined as a twist or a suspense just before the interval (may be to make sure audience return back to the movie after the break). There was not much hope for it with the way the story was going on. But hang on, here comes some totally unwanted scenes which were cooked up just to get that punch, which unfortunately miss the target. After interval you pretty much know what to expect and all I wanted was the movie to end some how.

You can argue that movie finally gives out a positive political message that politics should not be considered as a primary profession by politicians but rather should be a service. But for political tuition class alone, I would rather tune in to one of those FB groups where these ideas are discussed in more detail and in a more convincing way

(+) Fahad as always was exceptional and Amala paul was pretty good (except for those crying scenes which resembled more like Appukuttan's crying in 'In harihar nagar')

(+) Some hearty comedy in the first half

(-) Pretty much the complete second half and the predictable and boring  ending

Verdict - Had a promising take off and a descent flight till interval. After that it was nothing but a gradual decline. It fulfills the promise of a safe family tour, but if you ask about the ride I can only sum it up as 'boring' !

Tail piece : Some of you might be wondering "who gives right to this prick to judge an experienced and proven director like 'Sathyan Anthikad'. Well the truth is that when I spent my hard earned money for these movies, along with those 2.5 hours, I also deserve this right to show my frustration .. fare enough ??