Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Raid review: "Riveting drama between two brilliant characters on opposite sides of the moral spectrum!!!"

It's been a while since I have written a review though I did watch a couple of mediocre movies during this period which didnt quite inspire me to put my thoughts onto the blog. With the exam season in full swing, there has hardly been any worthwhile releases in the past one month. So apart from my work it were events like the ATP Masters, All England Championship & Ind-Aus tour of South Africa that kept me occupied. However, there was one significant release this weekend which had aroused my curiosity and it happened to be Ajay Devgn's "Raid". It was said to be based on a high profile tax raid that occurred in the 1980s & the trailer more than adequately excited the audience. So will it be the elusive hit the box office had been waiting for since "Padman"???

The film unfolds in 1981 in Lucknow where Amay Patnaik (Ajay Devgn), the income tax deputy commissioner had recently taken charge. We get a sense of his honesty & uprightness within the first couple of scenes itself which has led him to be transferred 49 times in seven years. No sooner had he assumed responsibility, he is tipped off by an anonymous source about the obscene amount of ill-gotten wealth of the crooked & powerful politician, Rameshwar Singh aka Tauji (Saurabh Shukla). After being satisfactorily convinced about the validity of the accusations, Amay obtained the legal documents to conduct raid on Tauji's palatial residence. But it was easier said than done.

Raj Kumar Gupta is no novice to the art of direction as is evidenced by his previous ventures such as "Aamir", "No One Killed Jessica" & "Ghanchhakar". Based on true incidents, "Raid" is a riveting drama that has been scripted by Ritesh Shah who had also penned impressive movies like "Citylights" & "Pink". The screenplay & dialogues are pretty much top notch for large parts, though the former finds itself in a dicey situation in the latter half. The manner in which the procedures of the raid are spelt out by the protagonist was quite novel in celluloid & the decision to make Devgn essay a realistic character rather than take on a zillion guys alone in itself was refreshing to the senses. However, the romantic songs by Amit Trivedi that has been squeezed in acted as speed breakers. As for other aspects, Trivedi's BGM was excellent, Alphonse Roy's visuals were fine while Bodhaditya Banerjee's editing in the second half could have been tighter.

It's been a while since we got an opportunity to watch Ajay in a realistic role that utilized his acting skills. He was fantastic as the incorruptible officer who does everything by the book & giving him excellent company was the exceptional Saurabh Shukla. Ever since I first noticed him in "Satya", I have been an admirer of his talent though very few directors have made adequate of it & Raj Kumar can be proud of that. There were a couple of others who gave praise worthy support such as Pushpa Joshi (as Amma, who was an absolute scream) & Amit Sial (as Lallan) while the others such as Ileana D'Cruz have done their part aptly.

Verdict: Slowly and steadily, the audience have warmed upto the movie as it's on the brink of 50C in five days. Apart from an engaging script, it was also well made aided by the performance of two brilliant actors such as Ajay & Shukla. There is no doubt that the second half wasnt as engaging but still it's worth a watch. So do check it out!!!

Rating: 3.25/5


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Kalakalappu 2 review: "Nothing more than a migraine inducer!!!"

Just like most weekends, the last one was also spent watching movies & sporting events. To our dismay, Saturday saw the Proteas make a strong back into the ODI series with an authoritative win. However, thanks to the impressive "Padman", I was still very much in good spirits & that's when "Kalakalappu 2" caught my attention. Though I havent watched the prequel, the feedback of it being an all out slap stick comedy added fodder to my eagerness to check it out. But it turned out to be a decision I regretted.

The politician Dharmaraj (Madhusudhanan Rao) had amassed obscene amount of wealth through unlawful means but the long hand of the law caught up with him. However, before the justice system could lay hands on the evidence, Dharmaraj had it handed over to his auditor. But the latter used it as an opportunity to blackmail Dharmaraj & demands ransom to be handed over to him in Kasi in exchange for the evidence. At the same time, Raghu (Jai) also lands in Kasi to claim his ancestral property which unknown to him was in the hands of Seenu (Jiiva), a small time fraud. Though Raghu gets duped by Seenu initially, they become good mates later on. Into this mix, enters Ganesh (Shiva) a conman who happened to cheat both of them in the past. How all these sub-plots and characters are linked to each other & how it finally pans out is what this movie is all about.

Sundar C has been in the business of directing movies for more than two decades & though I havent seen most of them, there are two which actually stands out. One of them is the fantastic "Anbe Sivam" & the other being "Arunachalam", both of which I had really enjoyed. However, the same cant be said about his latest venture, which just had a handful of genuine humorous sequences. The rest was nothing more than utter nonsense that tries too hard to make us laugh but all it manages to do is give a throbbing headache. None of the technical aspects deserves mention except for Senthikumar's cinematorgraphy which captures the vibrant colours of Kasi pretty well.

There is an army of artists in the movie starting from the protagonists Jai, Jiiva & Shiva. All three of them have done their parts aptly, with Shiva being my  personal favourite. Both the lead ladies, Nikki Galrani and Catherine Tresa were just for eye candy while the rest did whatever was expected of them.

Verdict: Even slap stick comedies could be well made & keep us glued to our seats. Unfortunately, this one fails to interest me as it barely had anything worthwhile. In short, avoid it for sure!!!

Rating; 1.5/5


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Padman review: "Akki & Balki tackles a relevant social issue engagingly. Period!!!"

Ever since GST was rolled out on Doctor's day last year, it has received a lot of flak over the taxes imposed on various products. One such item of basic necessity happened to be the sanitary pads that was imposed a tax of 12% (marginally lower than the earlier 13.68%). In a country where only 12% of the women use pads, there needs to be more impetus on the part of every Govt in power to encourage menstrual hygiene & one such act will be to reconsider the tax on it.

At the turn of the new millennium, Arunachalam Muruganantham, the social activist from Tamil Nadu decided to come up with an alternative for the costly sanitary pads. Incidentally, his life became the inspiration for R Balki's latest movie "Padman". Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) is a mechanic by profession who had recently married to Gayathri (Radhika Apte). Despite having discontinued his education, he was a master innovator & used it to good effect with interesting creations of his own. When Lakshmi realises that his wife puts herself to risk with unhygienic menstrual practices, he decides to solve the problem by making a low cost sanitary pad. However, it was much easier than done as his pad didnt have the deserved quality. In time, his obsession to perfect his creation virtually ostracizes him from his family and village. But he stuck on to his mission with unwavering determination & how he eventually manages to make people who ridiculed him sing praises about him forms the crux of the movie. 

Based on "The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land" by Twinkle Khanna, it is inspired as mentioned earlier from Arunachalam's life. R Balki's credentials as a director is well established with movies like "Cheeni Kum", "Paa" etc to his credit. There is no doubt that making a movie on a social issue is not an easy task for the simple reason that it could turn out to be rather preachy. However, Balki & Swanand Kirkire has made sure that they kept the mood light wherever necessary with interesting sequences peppered throughout. They keep us engaged with the events that unfold & it was well picturised by P C Sreeram. Even Chandan Arora's BGM & music tracks were in sync with the mood of the movie & deserves praise. 

The success of any movie lies in the hands of the audience & there is precious little that the artists can do except make sure that they always try to bring some novelty in their roles. This is exactly what Akki has been doing since the past couple of years with some wise & intelligent choice of movies. In his latest outing, he is brilliant as the protagonist as it keeps us invested in it. He has been given excellent support by Radhika Apte, who continues to impress in whatever role she appears. Even Sonam Kapoor who kinda overacts in most instances was fantastic.

Verdict: This was supposed to be on a collision course with "Padmaavat", but Akshay's magnanimity meant that it's release was postponed by a fortnight. Anywaz the decision has done both the movies a lot of good as evidenced by the box office numbers. After promotion of  "Swach Bharat Abhiyaan" through "Toilet:Ek Prem Katha", Akki has given a subtle promotion to "Make in India" through this. Kudos to both Balki & Akki for presenting the social issue both engagingly & realistically. In short, it deserves to be watched!!!

Rating: 3.75/5


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Bhaagamathie review: "Anushka shoulders the horror/thriller with utmost ease!!!"

Horror is a difficult genre to make coz if it's not executed well, it could turn out to be unintentionally funny. Over the years, we have had numerous horror movies & one of the finest that I have come across in an Indian movie is "Arundhati".   Apart from the fact that it was well made, it had Anushka Shetty as the protagonist who was absolutely brilliant in it. Since then I have been a huge fan of her talent & when the trailer of "Baagamathie" was released, it kinda brought back memories of the aforementioned flick. So will this be yet another feather on her crown???

The film unfolds with Ishwar Prasad (Jayaram), a minister loved by the masses for his empathetic attitude & clean track record, challenging the Government to mend their ways if they wanted his continued support. This put the Government on the offensive & they entrust CBI officer Vaishnavi Reddy (Asha Sharath) to unearth skeletons from Ishwar's cupboard to malign his image. As part of her investigation, she suspected an uncanny connection between Ishwar & the disappearance of ancient idols from temples. However, she wasnt able to pinpoint the crime & decides to coax his former personal secretary IAS officer Sanchala (Anushka Shetty) to spill the beans. Incidentally, Sanchala was already in remand for the murder of her fiance & social activist, Shakthi (Unni Mukundan). In order to avoid unnecessary media scrutiny, Vaishnavi have her shifted for interrogation to a dilapidated mansion which was believed to be haunted by the evil queen, Baagamathie. So was it actually haunted & did Ishwar have an hand in any suspicious dealings as Vaishnavi believed???

G Ashok has called the shots here & since I havent watched his previous flicks such as "Pilla Zamindar" and "Sukumarudu" , I dont have much of a frame of reference. Apart from direction, he has penned the script as well which basically juggles with a couple of genres impressively. The striking feature of the movie is that it offers something quite different from what we expect in the trailer. It would also be fair to admit that a part of it is inspired by "Usual Suspects" & though the climax is predictable, it still manages to thrill us. Thaman's BGM adds to the suspense while R Madhi's visuals were impressive especially the sequences inside the mansion, however the CGI wasnt quite upto the mark.

Anushka is the heart & soul of the movie and has done utmost justice to it with a smashing performance. It made complete sense for Ashok to wait for close to 5 years for Anushka's dates as no one else could have aced the role. As for the rest, Jayaram, Asha Sharath, Murali Sharma & Unni Mukundan have done their parts aptly.

Verdict: It has all the ingredients to become a blockbuster & as per reports that has come out, it is expected to become the first south Indian female centric film to enter the 50 C club. The combination of horror and crime thriller works quite well and despite the predictable climax, it keeps us hooked until the end. In short, check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Nimir review: "Can't hold a candle to the original!!!"

One of the finest movies to have emerged from the Malayalam film industry in recent times was Dileesh Pothan's "Maheshinte Prathikaram". It was like a breath of fresh air with the USP being the subtle & realistic treatment, which was eagerly lapped up by the audience. Close to two years after it's release, veteran director Priyadarshan who is proficient in the art of remaking movies, decided to re-create it in Tamil as "Nimir". Despite his excellent credentials, it's still a tall ask especially since the original was a brilliant movie. So can the remake do justice???

Since most of us have watched the original, I dont think it's necessary to discuss about the plot in detail. However, for the benefit of others; Selvam (Udayanidhi Stalin) runs a photo studio along with his father Shanmugham (J Mahendran) in a lush green small village. The shopkeeper next door, Sadha (M S Bhaskar) was like family to Selvam, as he advised & helped him in all matters. Things move along at a lazy pace until Selvam gets embroiled unintentionally in a street brawl & gets beaten up black & blue. Frustrated at being humiliated in front of everyone, he vows not to use his sandals until he had his revenge. At around the same time, his childhood sweetheart Valli (Parvathi Nair) walks out on him when her family coaxes her to marry the guy of their choice. How Selvam overcomes the humiliation & the broken heart forms the crux of the movie.

It is an oft observed feature that the remakes of blockbusters have mostly turned out to be duds. The primary reason in most of the cases was the cultural differences between the two regions. Incidentally, the same issue raises it's head here as well; but the major drawback was Priyadarshan's heavy handed execution. Subtlety was never his forte & that 's exactly what was required here, due to which many of the sequences that was brilliant in the original felt so bland in this version. As far as the screenplay goes, it's a frame to frame remake except for a couple of additional scenes which were taken from "Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho". Most of the technical aspects were fine but doesnt deserve special mention.

Another major positive in the Malayalam version was the brilliant performance of pretty much every artist involved in the project. I did come across an article where Priyadarshan had mentioned that Stalin had performed than Fahadh & there cant be a more outrageous lie than that. Stalin has given an earnest performance but it is nowhere close to Fahad's standards. The same assessment applies to the rest as well except for Mahendren & Samuthirakani, both of whom were on par or maybe slightly better than K L Antony and Sujith Shankar respectively.

Verdict: The film is unlikely to cater to the Tamil audience & has no scope of a decent run in other states as well. In short, if you have seen the Malayalam version then you will be grossly disappointed or else you can give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.25/5


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Padmaavat review: "Impressive why have the Karni Sena gone bonkers ???"

Last couple of months had seen violence unleashed in various parts of the country over the release of "Padmaavat". So much so, it had to be postponed by a month & required the involvement of the Supreme Court to hit the screens. Even then there has been no dearth of atrocities with one incident being the stones pelted on a school bus in Gurugram. Incidentally, ever since the project was announced, it had run into rough weather with the Karni Sena who assumed (by their own figment of imagination) that Sanjay Leela's depiction of Rani Padmini wasnt accorded the honour it deserved. So were their arguments valid ???

The film unfolds in the 13th century where Jalaluddhin Khilji (Raza Murad) puts an end to the Mamluk dynasty& establishes himself as the first ruler of the Khilji dynasty. He was assisted in his endeavours by his nephew and son-in-law. Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh). After Alauddin thwarts the Mongol invasion on the Delhi Sultanate & conducts an unsanctioned raid on Devagiri, his uncle rewards him with a slave Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh). But Alauddin had his eyes on a bigger prize & kills his uncle to usurp the throne. In another part of the land, Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) married the Singala princess Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) & brought her to Mewar. The news of her beauty & intelligence, travelled far & wide and it also reached the ears of Alauddin. As he always craved for unique creations, he decided to acquire Rani Padmini by any means possible. But the Rajput valour & honour was something he had not fathomed.

Based on the epic poem "Padmavat" written in the 16th century by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, the story is a concoction of fact & fiction. Even the historical authenticity of the events mentioned in the poem itself cant be verified as Jayasi himself had mentioned that he had made up the story and related it.Whatever might be the case, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made an excellent movie in terms of richness, elegance & sheer scale. But the plot as such is rather thin & the pace is sluggish at times. However, it still keeps us engrossed courtesy of Sanjay's mastery over his craft & the build up as well as execution of jauhar in the climax deserves special praise.

On the technical side, it is top notch in pretty much all the departments be it the visuals by Sudeep Chatterjee, costumes by Harpreet, Maxima, Chandrakant & Ajay or the art direction by Subrata Chakraborthy & Amit Ray. The BGM by Sanchit Balhara was in sync with the mood of the movie while the music tracks by Sanjay Leela were also decent. When it comes to performance, Ranveer Singh was brilliant as the flamboyant nasty no holds barred Khilji. Deepika Padukone has done an impressive job as well along with Shahid Kapoor. As for the rest, each & everyone of them have done justice to their roles.

Verdict: Without a shadow of doubt, the film is a brilliant tribute to the valour & principles of the Rajput clan. I seriously fail to understand why Karni Sena is creating all this ruckus as the Rajputs & Rani Padmini are shown in the best way possible. Despite the restrictions, the film has fared decently at the box office & should continue to attract attention at the box office. In short, surely check it out!!!

Rating: 3.5/5


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sketch review: "Sketchy & archaic except for the climax twist!!!"

This Pongal saw the clash between the movies of Suriya & Vikram, two of the biggest stars of the Tamil film industry who has a strong fan base even in other states. As far as I am concerned, Suriya's "Thaana Serndha Koottam" entertained me & it remains to be seen whether Vikram's "Sketch" could evoke similar emotions. The trailer gave the impression of a typical masala film but is it distinct enough to pose a threat to Suriya's "TSK" ???

The film unfolds in Northern Chennai where Jeeva aka Sketch (Vikram) works for Settu (Hareesh Peradi), who owns a garage & also offers loan for vehicles. As one would expect, Sketch was Settu's favourite henchman as he was the best in the business when it came to seizing vehicles of loan defaulters. It was at this juncture that Shaktivel, the upright cop takes charge in the region to keep tab on the illegal activities of Royapuram Kumar (Baburaj), the local gangster. Incidentally, Settu held a grudge against Kumar as the latter's favourite vintage car once belonged to his father. On the instructions of Settu, Sketch seizes the car & hands it over to the police which infuriates Kumar. But little did Sketch & his friends realise that this incident will change their lives forever.

This was the second directorial venture of Vijay Chandar after "Vaalu" & it offers nothing out of the ordinary for most parts. It was trite to the extent that it seemed like a rehash of the the masala flicks of yesteryears. The humour track was forced while the idea of romance of the director between the lead pair was rather regressive. However, there are a couple of interesting sequences especially the totally unexpected twist in the climax. But they are far & few and fails to salvage the movie despite Vikram's earnest efforts. None of the technical aspects, deserves a special mention be it Sukumar's visuals or Thaman's music.

It's hard to understand as to why Vikram agreed to do this movie as it barely did justice to his acting credentials. It was literally a cakewalk for the veteran & reminded one of "Gemini" at times. Tamannah's role barely had substance while Baburaj & Hareesh Peradi did their parts aptly. The same also applies to Sriman, Vinoth & Vishwanath as well.

Verdict: Apart from the climax, there is nothing in the movie that makes it worth watching. It is surely going to be trumped by Suriya's "TSK" since it wont find much takers, apart from the fans. In short, give it a miss!!!

Rating; 2/5