Saturday, March 2, 2019

Vijay Superum Pournamiyum review: "A feel good realistic & enjoyable romcom!!!"

Gone are the days when we used to see movies clocking fifty days at the box office & hence when I came home for the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised to see one movie going strong even after close to a month. That flick happened to be Jis Joy's "Vijay Superum Pournamiyum" & today it reached the magical figure. Naturally I was interested to watch it since Jis Joy had impressed with his previous ventures & with an interesting star cast here, it seemed like he struck gold yet again. So what actually made this movie work???


Pournami (Aishwarya Lekshmi) is a smart & confident MBA graduate who had excelled right through her academic life. However, she wasnt quite able to replicate that success in the business ventures that she had invested upon. Though she still aspired to become an entrepreneur, her parents were more keen in getting her married off. On the other hand, Vijay (Asif Ali) struggled with confidence from childhood & didnt have the courage to stand up to his parents to pursue the career that he wanted. It had more to do with the financial burden that his family had to bear & the solution for which they believed was to get Vijay married to an affluent bride. This is how Pournami & Vijay met as their parents were interested in the alliance. As both of them spoke to each other, they realized how different they were though they felt comfortable in the other's presence. Interestingly, at this juncture they come to realize that their planned alliance was supposed to be someone else.

This is the third collaboration between Jis Joy & Asif Ali after "Bicycle Thieves" & "Sunday Holiday".  In all these movies, Jis came up with a story which is both realistic in terms of the dialogue & situations with a liberal sprinkling of humour & offers a good time for the audience. Howevr, this time around it is the remake of the Telugu hit "Pelli Choopulu". Since I havent watched the original, I have watched this without any reference & thoroughly enjoyed it. All the technical aspects be it Renadive's visuals or Prince George's music were fine.

Aishwarya is the golden girl of Malayalam film industry with a cent percent success rate. As always, she has done a fine job & was perfectly apt for the role. We have seen Asif in such avatars in the past as well, but still we dont bored as he has done justice to a role that fitted his persona perfectly. Quite a few senior artists featured in the movie such as KPAC Lalitha, Siddique, Devan, Shanthi Krishna, Renji Panicker etc & they have done their parts aptly. Dharsana was good, Balu & Joseph Annamkutty were just about ok while I dont understand why Aju opted to do such an insignificant & irritating role. 

Verdict: It doesnt boast of a heavy duty story with numerous twists or edge of the seat action thriller, but you can rest assured that you will be entertained by the time it ends. This is exactly the reason why it had an extended run at the box office. In short, do check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben




Thursday, February 28, 2019

Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel review: "This lawyer wins his case at the box office!!!"

A couple of years has passed since Dileep has been embroiled in the assault case & even yday, we saw the case postponed on the request of his lawyer citing various reasons. Anywaz for the sake of everyone involved, let's hope that justice prevails at the earliest. Well this is not a write up about that heinous crime but rather about Dileep's latest release "Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel" in which he incidentally plays the part of a lawyer. The trailer was surely entertaining & attracted attention, making it a sure-shot for a sizable initial. But does it deserve to have a sustained run???


Adv Balakrishnan (Dileep) has a stutter & was considered a failure by his family & peers. The reason being his lack of confidence which arose from his condition that had happened in response to an incident that made him drown with guilt. However, he was an intelligent & sharp advocate whihc was evident from the manner he prepared case files for his senior. Things move along uneventfully, until he encounters Anuradha (Priya Anand) who seeks his legal advise & requests him to sent a notice of compensation for defamation to a powerful individual who tried to outrage her modesty. But it turned out that the accused was the DGP & the actual Anuradha happened to be someone else (Mamta Mohandas). So why was all three of them being framed by this mysterious female???

B Unnikrishnan is a prominent name in the Malayalam film industry as he holds quite a few important positions such as General Secretary of FEFKA & All India Film Employees Confederation. Well all these administrative responsibilities apart from his own personal investments has made him make movies sparingly over the past few years. Unlike his usual style, this time around he has tried his hand in comedy & to a certain extent it does work. Unnikrishnan showcases the intelligence of the protagonist with his ability to study people & situations, but the case as such didnt seem to be complex at all as the audience isnt the least surprised by what unfolds. The climax location etc reminded me of his own previous release "Villain". Both Akhil George & Shameer Muhammed impresses with their visuals & editing respectively while Gopi Sundar's music works only in parts.

Ever since Dileep has been an accused in the assault case, I believe there has been a conscious effort on his part to be part of entertaining & suspense filled flicks. Whether it be "Ramaleela", "Kammara Sambhavam" or this one, it shows him being made a scapegoat & his downfall being celebrated in the media with his character having ample shades of grey (except for Vakeel). Whatever might be the reason, his performance has improved significantly in all these movies. Mamta's performance was mediocre as it didn't feel natural at all or in sync with the situation her character was immersed in. Aju Varghese finally landed with a full length role & though he does test our patience at times like Suraj, it was still ok overall. Siddique was an absolute scream while the rest of the cast were fine. 

Verdict: The basic thread of the story had substance in it which Unnikrishnan kinda messes up by opting for heroism rather realism. There are many sequences & dialogues in the movie which is an intentional hint on the Dileep's real life scenario. Viacom is apparently happy with the public response as they have already approached SRK & Akshay for the Hindi remake. In short, not as intelligent as it is made to appear but still keeps us entertained.

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

June review: "Rajisha comes up with yet another award winning performance!!!"

Though 2019 is just two months old, we already had quite a few impressive movies & "June"is certainly one of them. Ever since Rajisha Vijayan burst into the silver screen with a thumping performance in "Anuraga Karikkin Vellam", I have been a fan of her exuberance & spirit. Though her subsequent two movies didnt have much to talk about, Ahammed Khabeer's debut venture ensured that it offered her opportunity to shine in a movie which is undoubtedly in sync with the present times. So what exactly made me like this movie apart from Rajisha???


This the journey of a girl from her teenage years to adulthood & how she deals with various factors in her life be it romance, heartbreaks, friendships etc. How all these experiences molds her as a person & the change in dynamics that she hared with her friends and family forms the crux of the movie. June (Rajisha) has a crush on Noel (Sarjano Khalid) who had recently joined her Plus 2 class. With time, love blossoms between them but it didnt last for long as her mother makes her promise not to continue the relation. But life had a strange way of churning up twists & they meet up again many years later when she lands with a job in Mumbai.

Friday Film House has always encouraged new talent right through its inception & the latest beneficiaries are Ahammed Khabeer & the music director, Ifthi. The latter has given us a couple of soothing tracks with 'Minni Minni' rendered by Amrutha Suresh being my personal favorite. Apart from direction which Khabeer has given it  had also penned the script in the company of Libin Varghese & Jeevan Baby Mathew. They have done a wonderful job & chronicled the journey in an enjoyable manner without resorting to cliches, while Khabeer ensured that he gave a fresh feel to it . I loved the portrayal of June's relation with her father, which might seem a bit over the top for some but still felt endearing. 

Rajisha was fantastic as the protagonist & proved that she isnt just a flash in the pan. Joju George has been on a roll for quite a while ( how can one forget "Joseph") & he rocks here as well with Aswathi Menon . Sarjano Khalid did look under baked for the mature part while Arjun Ashokan has done a decent job. The rest of the cast have all done justic to their roles & though they did kinda odd when they enacted the adulthood part, but still they made the sequences enjoyable.

Verdict: The movie could be termed as a cross between "Om Shanti Oshana" & "Happy Days" with a soul of its own. I certainly believe that Rajisha has booked herself a spot in the nominees for the State Awards with this performance. It's a fun filled movie with various segments & characters that many of us can relate to. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.25/5

Regards...Ben




Saturday, February 23, 2019

Mr & Mrs Rowdy review: "Mr & Mrs. Jeethu disappoints with an average comic flick !!!"

A couple of years back Kangana Ranaut had accused Karan Johar in his chat show that he was the 'flag bearer of nepotism' in Bollywood. Well it was indeed true as he has always launched star kids through his production house. Even our Malayalam industry has seen a huge influx of star kids into movies in recent times such as Kalidas, Gokul, Pranav etc. Jeethu Joseph had directed the debut venture of Pranav & this time around, he has cast Kalidas (his second Malayalam release) as the lead man in his latest movie "Mr & Mrs Rowdy". So will Linda's script prove to be rewarding for her husband & the audience???


Appu (Kalidas) & his gang of friends (Ganapathy, Shebin Benson, Vishnu Govindhan & Sarath Sabha) were the local quotation gang in their village. Their search for easy money meant that they took up jobs like bashing up people, hold strikes or help people to elope. Since they had been sent to the juvenile home in the past, they felt that they couldn't aspire for anything better in life & hence stuck on with these odd jobs. During one such assignment, Appu happened to ram his vehicle accidentally into Purnima's (Aparna Balamurali) & though they managed to escape from the moral policing group, it made a drastic change in Purnima's life. What was this change & how she tides over it forms the crux of the movie.

Jeethu Joseph's credentials as a director needs no introduction as his body of work has been impressive for large parts of his career. It's been a while since he tackled comedy with the only previous movie from that genre being "My Boss". Unlike his usual trend (except in "Life of Josutty"), this time around the script is the creation of his own wife, Linda Jeethu. This is her first plunge as a script writer, though she has been actively involved in many of his previous projects as a costume designer. It's definitely not the typical slap stick stuff but it does evoke laughs in quite a few sequences. It also deserves brownie points for the character arch given to Aparna & the moral policing sequence which is not taken over the top. ArunVijay's music was fine with the 'Puthiya Vazhiyiline...' track being the pick mong the lot.

When it comes to performances, Aparna is the one who takes the crown as she was impressive as Purnima as she was convincingly able to convey the vulnerabilities of the character as well as being bold at the same time. It would be too harsh to criticize Kalidas as he has just begun his career, but he definitely struggled in his dialogue delivery as well as being realistic. The others were ok with Ganapathy & Vishnu making their presence felt.

Verdict: Jeethu's name might attract a section of the audience but the failure to come up with a no holds barred comic entertainer will make it struggle at the box office. With a plethora of other movies doing resonsbly well, I wouldnt be surprised if it's taken completely off the screens in a fortnight. In short, disappointing!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben


Friday, February 22, 2019

Kumbalangi Nights: "Brilliant performances across the board!!!"

Over the decades, our industry has been blessed with some of the most extraordinary script writers such as MT Sir, Padmarajan, Lohithadas, Srinivasan etc. This explains the reason why craftsmen from other regions always wanted to work here or wanted to recreate these movies in their languages. As the times changed, the sensibilities & tastes of the audience has also evolved which has led to the emergence of a new wave of writers. Among the present lot, Syam Pushkaran & Bobby-Sanjay duo (except for their abysmal "Casanova") are my favourites as they are in sync with the pulse of the audience. Hence when I knew that the former has penned "Kumbalangi Nights", I was more than eager to check it out with the icing on the cake being a talented star cast. So was this night as memorable as I expected???


Located along the banks of the river in the fishing hamlet of Kumbalangi is a half completed/dilapidated house or as one of the characters states "the worst house in the panchayat". It was home to four brothers who were at logger heads to each other especially between the eldest Saji (Soubin Shahir) & Bobby (Shane Nigam). Both of them viled away their time living off others, Bonny (Sreenath Bhasi) was part of a dance troupe while the youngest Frankie (Mathew Thomas) was a promising footballer who did his studies courtesy of a scholarship. Things take a turn when romance is kindled between Baby Mol (Anna Ben) & Bobby. The latter worked as a tourist guide & also arranged accommodation for tourists at her residence. Her sister, Simi (Grace Antony) had recently got married to Shammi (Fahadh Fazil), who despite his constant smile & polite demeanor had a way of imposing himself on everyone & as expected, intrudes into her romance as well. So will the brothers make peace with each other & rally behind Bobby???

This is the debut venture of Madhu C Narayanan who had worked as an assistant to Aashiq Abu. It also happens to be the debut movie from the production company 'Working Class Hero' which belongs to Syam Pushkaran & Dileesh Pothan. They have co-produced it with Fahadh & Nazriya's 'Fahadh Fasil & Friends'. As usual, Syam has given us a cracking script which focuses on the dynamics of a dysfunctional family He has also touched upon several topics like patriarchy, romance, religion etc & how the present generation deals with it. Madhu has done utmost justice to the script & has created it on celluloid with the flair of an experienced hand. Whenever Shyju Khalid is involved in the project as DOP, then we can rest assured that he will give us a rewarding experience. Sushin Syam has been steadily etching out a name for himself with movies like "Sapthamashree..", "Ezra", "Varathan" etc., & he impresses yet again.

To be frank, it's one of those select movies where it is extremely difficult to chose the best performer among the lot as each one was better than the other. Fahadh was nothing short of brilliant as he gets his hands on a meaty role which gives him ample opportunity to try something different. You can rest assured that his act will sent a chill down your spine. Shane Nigam has never failed to impress whenever he has performed & the same holds true here as well. It's been a while since we have seen Soubin in a full length role which he rocks convincingly while Sreenath Bhasi makes his presence felt despite not uttering a single word. Both Anna & Grace was fantastic along with Mathew & the rest of the cast have done their parts aptly as well.

Verdict: Without a shadow of doubt, this is the best movie that I have watched in a while. Apart from an engaging script, each & every artist involved in this project has done complete justice to their roles. The public response to the movie is also testament to that & it should finish up as a profitable venture for the makers. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben






Thursday, February 21, 2019

Nine review: "Classy thriller which could have been more impactful!!!"

It's been a hectic month in which I was virtually drowned with various commitments on a personal & professional level. However, that didnt quite deter me in checking out movies, though I have to admit that I barely found time to pen down my thoughts about them. Ever since I reached home a fortnight back, I would have watched a handful of movies after all it's been ages since I got to watch Malayalam in the theatres in my hometown. Quite a few of them really impressed me, so was Prithvi's "Nine" one among them???


The film unfolds with the news that a comet is on collision course with our planet. Though it wont be catastrophic, the effects of the event will disrupt life on earth for nine days as electricity wont be accessible to mankind. As expected, this creates widespread fear across the globe as people rush to stock supplies on the assumption of worser repercussions. Dr. Albert Lewis (Prithviraj) was an astrophysicist who along with his research team had been keeping a close eye on the cosmic event from their research facility. It was at this juncture that Albert's mentor Dr. Inayat Khan (Prakash Raj) asks him to work along with him to document the event from a perfect vantage point nestled in the Himalayas. Albert accepts the offer & takes his son Adam (Alok ) as well along with him. Though Albert adored him, he was bothered about the fact that Adam was looked upon others as a problem child & an evil omen. Their relationship is put to the test when an unwanted guest & a series of chilling incidents unfold during the nine days that the planet is plunged into darkness. So was this celestial event just as harmless as it seemed???

This project has been in the news for a while as it was the debut venture of Prithviraj Productions and the first regional Indian film production & distribution of Sony Pictures. This is Jenuse Mohammed's second venture after "100 Days of Love" & he has penned the script as well  which is a concoction of various genres like sci-fi, horror and psycho thriller. There is no doubt that the movie has come out brilliantly as all the technical aspects were top notch be it Abhinandan Ramanujam breath taking visuals, Sekhar Menon's BGM (while Shaan Rehman's music wasn't catchy & felt misplaced) or the brilliant VFX of the comet etc (which usually looks amateurish in Malayalam movies). If at all it falters then it's in the manner in which Jenuse decided to conclude the movie as it was hurried & the revelation in the end lacked the knockout punch. 

On the performance side, Alok & Wamiqa Gabbi was fantastic & did utmost justice to their roles. The former's expressions conveyed his emotions so effectively while the latter spell bounds us with her beauty as well as spookiness. Prithvi's performance didnt have much to talk about early on & felt like restrained. However, towards the end we get to understand the complexities in his character & that's when we really appreciate him. As for the rest, Prakash Raj was apt though it barely challenged him while Mamtha was  ok though I felt she wasnt quite the right choice for the role.

Verdict: There is no doubting the effort that Jenuse & Prithvi has invested in making a movie that is on par with global cinema. However, the script especially the climax portion will not be able to satiate the audience. In short, it punches way below its weight but definitely worth a worth!!!

Rating : 3/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Viswasam review: "Tests our viswasam for Thala with a melodramatic banal tale!!!"

It's been quite a while since we had high profile clashes at the box office until this Pongal which saw Thalaiva locking horns with Thala. Since Thalaiva swept us off our feet with his electrifying performance in "Petta", I was keen to know as to what Thala had to offer in "Viswasam". Despite his scarce public appearances, his movies invariably connected with the masses & the makers would be hoping that there wont be any change to that template. So will Thala share the boxoffice honors with Thalaiva with yet another movie titled with his favourite letter "V"???


Thookudurai (Ajith Kumar) hailed from Koduvilarpatti village in Madurai was the darling of the masses & the nightmare of the thugs. His life took a turn when he got acquainted with Dr. Niranjana  (Nayanthara) who had come with her team to his village for a medical camp. With time, they fell for each other & decided to tie the knot. However, Durai's nature to get involved in risky affairs for the sake of his people created fissures in their marriage. Eventually, a murder attempt on Durai which almost took the life of their daughter proved to be the final nail on the coffin of their relation as Niranjana  returned to her home in Mumbai with their daughter. What subsequent happens is the events that lead to Durai coming to the aid of his daughter but will that cause Niranjana to reconsider her decision???

Siva might be a relatively new name in the industry after all he has been here for only a decade now. But over this period of time, he has carved a niche for himself with a handful of movies half of which happens to be with Thala. The duo formed a formidable combination as they found success in pretty much all their ventures. They would be hoping to repeat the trend with "Viswasam" as well which however wont be as easy as Siva's script is mundane & stereotypical to say the least. Apart from a fleeting depiction of parental pressure There is hardly anything worth mentioning as we have been witness to numerous movies with similar threads. None of the technical aspects deserves mention as it was average at best.

If at all there is something worthwhile in this movie then it is the performances of pretty much all the main characters. Thala has done an impressive job as the endearing husband & doting father along with the stunning Lady Superstar Nayanthara who had an equally important role. Anikha was excellent as she essayed her part with naturality & conviction while Jagapathi Babu was fine as well. As for the rest of the cast, Yogi Babu, Robo Shankar & Thambi was ok while Vivek & Kovai was unbearable.

Verdict: As per box office reports, "Viswasam" is giving a tough competition for "Petta" & doesnt trail by much (which kinda surprised me) despite having much lower number of screens. Seems like the family melodrama is finding favour with a significant number of people though for me, it doesnt quite work as it doesnt offer anything fresh or unique. As far as my opinion goes, you can give it a try for the sincere effort of the performers & nothing more!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben