Sunday, October 30, 2011

Velayudham review: "Typical Vijay flick!!!"

Whenever Diwali sets in Tamil Nadu, the trumpets are blown setting the battle field as to which superstar racks in the moolah. This time around with "Ra One" also hitting the screens, it inevitably meant only Vijay & Suriya will be slugging it out for the honours. After the stupendous success of "Kaavalan", Vijay seems to have got his sagging career graph back on track with a handful of interesting projects. First among them is "Velayudham", which has been promoted as a mass masala flick. The question now is whether it's the same old stuff in a newer poster???


Terrorism seems to be gripping the nation like never before & has been extending its tentacles on South India with renewed vigour. This is the very content that the film touches upon with Bharati (Genelia), a free lance promising journalist who tries to expose the nexus the between the Home Minister & the terrorists. But unfortunately, her efforts were to of no avail which eventually leads to the death of her colleagues. This incident inspires her to create a fictional character "Velayudham", who is portrayed as a crusader against injustice. Incidentally, a person named Velayudham (Vijay), who is a doting brother happens to land up in Chennai at the same time to make arrangements for his sister, Kaveri's (Saranya Mohan) wedding. But destiny had different plans for him, as circumstances forces him to become the fictional crusader. So can he make a difference in this corrupt society???


M.Raja is one of the prominent names in Tamil industry, mainly for being the director who specialises in remakes with his brother Jayam Ravi being the star in all his previous ventures. This time around he has traversed the same path but changed the lead character as "Velayudham" is said to be inspired from Nagarjuna's "Azad" with the costume also an inspiration from "Assassin Creed". Anywaz, Raja has packed the flick with all the masala that would be lapped up by the masses be it Vijay's intro song, glamour gals or the super human action. Vijay Antony's music is another factor which draws the audience with Sonna Puriyadhu rendered by himself & Chillax by Karthik setting the tempo.

Coming to the performances, Vijay is back in his comfort zone & he gives a thumping performance be it dance,comedy or action sequences. Hansika Motwani as Vaidehi was an apt choice with her confidence & oomph factor. Saranya Mohan was at ease while Genelia also delivers the goods aptly. Santhanam, the present comedy sensation does manage to tickle the funny bone while Abhimanyu Singh didnt have much to do other than make good use of his vocal cords & flare his nostrils.

Verdict: Being the festive season, the masses will be looking forward to various genres of films on display & one such genre is the masala mix peppered with dance, action & glamour. Well "Velayudham" offers you just that & though it's the same old Vijay flick, this seemed much more enjoyable as opposed to "Kuruvi", "Sura" or "Villu". In short, this should rack in the cash & if at all you are into Vijay you may give it a try or else leave it!!!

Regards...Ben

Rating: 2/5


Thursday, October 27, 2011

7am arivu review: "Linking the plots fails to make sense!!!"

Diwali is one festival which is looked forward to much gusto & mirth by Tollywood as it believes that the box office will also be metamorphically lit up. As one would expect, almost all of the major stars will inevitably have a movie on this auspicious occasion. This time around, its the much famed Suriya-Muragadoss-Harris Jayaraj combo's latest offering "7am arivu" which has caught the audience's imagination. After having enthralled the audience with "Ghajini", it's quite natural that the masses would settle for nothing less than a blockbuster. But can they live upto the hype???


If we browse through the pages of history, the first thing that strikes us is the undeniable fact as to how instrumental our country has been in contributing to the history of mankind be it science, maths, wealth, culture etc. But unfortunately, we Indians have a mindset that pastures on the other side are greener. Interestingly, Muragadoss has touched upon the topic of Bodhidharma, creator of the renowned Shaolin martial art who was believed to have hailed from the Pallava dynasty in Kanchipuram (6th century) which beyond doubt exhibits the ignorance of many of us.

Bodhidharma (Suriya) renounces his royalty & leads the life of an ascetic before settling down in China. Here, he imparts wisdom regarding medicinal plants and trains them in martial arts till his last breath. Fast forward to the present day, where China is involved in a fierce cold war with India & on the back of which they come up with Operation Red on whose completion they believe will have India on its knees. They entrust the task to Dong Lee (Johnny Tri Nguyen) along with the mission to eliminate the researcher Shubha Srinivasan (Shruti Hasan). So what was Operation Red & why was Shubha's death so necessary for the Chinese???


Muragadoss has come up with two interesting sections within the movie, one dealing with Bodhidharma & the latter on the present day crisis. The first 20 mins which dealt with Bodhidharma was outstanding to say the least & raises the expectations of the audience. But what then follows is a downward slide which finally culminates in a disappointing climax. Though the Operation Red idea was interesting, Muragadoss's attempt to connect the past with the present was whimsical. It might also due to the fact that I am a researcher, due to which I found many of the sequences totally absurd like seeing DNA through a microscope etc.

Cast & crew at the music launch by Dhanush
Coming to performances, Suriya was outstanding as the ascetic exuding calmness & wisdom while his present day avatar didnt have much scope other than flexing his muscles. This is one movie where the villain gets as much screen space as the hero & Johnny totally deserves it for his cold blooded attitude mingled with being  drop dead handsome. Shruti Hasan has finally managed to come up with an act which deserves a word of praise after some forgettable movies. As for other aspects, Ravi Chandran's visuals were stunning while Jayaraj's music were hummable but the BGM for the villain left a lot to be desired for.

Verdict: There are no prizes for guessing that the film will garner an outstanding initial owing to the reputation of the crew & impressive promos. However, the loopholes in the script coupled with some repeated sequences such as the mass hypnotism will act as a dampener. In short, there is no harm in giving it a try if you dont pile up your expectations!!!

Regards...Ben

Rating: 3/5


Ra One review: "Well executed interesting concept!!!"

After months of hype, anticipation & exhaustive publicity, "Ra One" has finally hit the screens on the day of festival of lights. With Salman ruling the roost since the past two years, it's high time that SRK regained his throne as the Baadshah of Bollywood. As opposed to all his previous ventures which inevitably portrays him as the quintessential lover with his hands spread out & skewed posture, this time around he has touched upon the topic of superheroes. With "Enthiran" having set a bench-mark, it's now about raising the bar & SRK has busted about 150 Cr to ensure that's it on par with Hollywood. But the question now is whether it will be a profitable venture???


In the present day, video-games are a rage among the youngsters be it "Final Fantasy", "Resident Evil" etc., & this is the very concept that is being dealt here. Shekhar Subramanium (SRK) is the master brain of Barron Industries who are one of the world leaders in video gaming. However, Shekhar always fails to impart much of an impact on his son Pratheek (Armaan Verma). It is in this process of being his son's hero, that Shekhar comes up with his latest invention "Ra One", boasting of a villain even powerful than the hero. Just as things starts to fall into place, all hell breaks lose when Ra One enters into the real world with the aim of killing Lucifer (Pratheek's gamer name). In order to protect Pratheek, the most logical solution seemed getting the hero of the game, G One into the real world. So will Pratheek's desire for a powerful villain spell his own doom???


There is no denying the fact, that we Indians do cosy up to the sci-fi flicks churned out by Hollywood while imparting a step motherly attitude to our own efforts in the same genre. This is usually due to the lack of perfection & at times purely due to a pre-conceived notion that it feels illogical when we attempt it. Without doubt, SRK & Anubhav Sinha has taken a huge risk in making this dream a reality. Anubhav was ably supported in the scripting by Kanika Dhillon, Mushtaq Sheikh & David Benullo; and frankly speaking the concept was truly interesting.

Unlike Hollywood, where money isnt much of an issue recreating such a venture onto celluloid in India would require a strong financial backing & SRK along with Eros has more than ensured that. The VFX team under the watchful eyes of Jeff Kleiser ("Stargate" fame) was a revelation & has come up with the best effects ever seen in India. The same goes for the stunts by Andy Gill & Spiro Razatos, with stunning visuals by V Manikandan & Nicola Picorini. The music by Vishal-Shekhar was fantastic to say the least with "Chammak Chalo" & "Criminal" rendered by Akon setting the charts on fire. 

SRK, Akon, Kareena & Anubhav Sinha
SRK as G-One was pretty good, but hasnt done anything that would make us look at him with awe unlike Rajni who blew our minds away with "Enthiran". It might be due to this very fact, that SRK has roped in Rajni for a guest appearance in his Chitti avatar, which had the audiences in a frenzy. Arjun Rampal as Ra One appears only in the 2nd half & he definitely looked menacing while Kareena as Sonia has imparted a decent act . However it was Armaan, who has delivered the best performance in the movie as he seemed confident & doesnt seem overrawed by the presence of such huge stars.

Verdict: Over all the movie was impressive with an interesting concept which was brilliantly executed. However, unlike "Enthiran", we definitely feel that there was scope for more death defying stunts as it seems too few & far apart for a movie of this scale. The movie will have a killer opening & without sounding boastful I believe that it's on its way to being one of the biggest hits ever. In short, I believe that you guys should definitely give it a try for its technical perfection!!!

Regards...Ben

Rating: 3.5/5


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Indian Rupee review: "Prithviraj finally impresses the audience after a hiatus!!!"

Dussehra is one festival which is eagerly awaited by the kids as it gives them the license not to open the books citing pooja. In such a scenario, its natural that the film fraternity would love to cash in on the holiday mood. With Lalettan having kick started the festive mood last week with "Snehaveedu", it was now time for the so-called heir apparent Prithviraj. After having gone through a lean patch & not to forget the flak he has been receiving for his attitude, Prithvi badly needs a solo hit. So this time he has  sought the help of his mentor & ace director Renjith. But can Renjith bring about a revival in his fortunes???..hmm, tough question to answer!!!


Just as the title suggests, the film is a satirical take onto what extent an individual will go to get his hands on the pink bundles of Gandhi even if at the cost of honesty & integrity. Jayaprakash or JP (Prithvi) as he is fondly called, is a pawn in the real estate business who dreams of making it big one day. Finally, an opportunity comes knocking in the form of Achutha Menon (Thilakan), who approaches JP & CH (Tini Tom) to sell off his land. But to their dismay, the deal doesnt go through but Achutha Menon's experience & smart thinking turns out to be a blessing for them for securing another deal. But things gets murkier as JP have to satisfy certain stipulations for sealing the deal. So will JP get sucked into the quicksand of corruption???


After the brilliant "Prachiyettan & the Saint", Renjith is back once again with a well crafted movie. Though the movie lacked the punch early on, it gradually picks up momentum with elements of situational humour & suspense being built up aptly. The music by Shahabaz Aman was fine especially "Ee puzhayum" rendered by Vijay Yesudas but it's picturisation was appalling to say the least. As for other aspects, there is nothing to rave about nor swear at.

In the performance department, Prithvi has come up with an impressive act & seems to be at ease with light moments which was quite unlike him previously. Thilakan makes a stunning comeback, reiterating the fact that he is still one of the best actor alive. As a matter of fact, he carries the movie in the first half before handing it over to Prithvi subsequently. Tini Tom was as proficient as Prithvi while Rima Kallingal deserves a word of praise. The remaining star cast of Jagathy, Mammukoya, Seenath etc., were spot on with their acts as well.

Verdict: Renjith's brand value & the Puja holidays will ensure a good opening for the movie. It definitely has a credible script coupled with some brilliant performances which should satiate the audience. In short, Prithvi has come up with his best performance in recent times & more than ably supported by Thilakan & Tini Tom. So dont hesitate to give it a try, as it's not a waste of our 50 odd rupees!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Force review: "Brawn in plentiful supply!!!"

The last couple of years has witnessed a surge in remaking blockbuster South Indian films in Bollywood. With many of them turning out to be money spinners, be it "Wanted", "Singham" or the recent "Bodyguard"; & the dearth of good scripts has made this trend even more steadfast. The latest to join the bandwagon is Nishikant Kamat, who has given impressive films like "404 Error Not found" (as actor), "Mumbai Mere Jaan" etc. He has chosen the Surya-Jyothika blockbuster "Kaakhe Kaakhe" & remade it into "Force". The question now remains is whether "Force", will garner as much moolah as its illustrious original???

Since many of us have seen the original, I believe its dispensable to do away with the plot; but for those who havent here's a sneak peek. The film unfolds with ACP Yashwardhan (John Abraham) of the Anti-Narcotics wing being rushed to the hospital after being subject to gunfire. In due course of time, it's revealed that Yash & his team has been instrumental in wiping out the drug lords reign. Among the slain gangsters, the lynchpin was undoubtedly Anna (Mukesh Rishi), but little did they realise that he had a vengeful blood thirsty sibling, Vishnu (Vidyut Jamwal) who would go to any extreme to avenge Anna's death. So will Yash & his crew be able to rein in Vishnu before it's too late???


Kamat has remained more or less faithful to the original, except for imparting more emphasis on brawn to make use of John's physique. As a matter of fact, the major highlight is undoubtedly the thrilling action sequences choreographed by Allan Amin especially the final confrontation. The beauty of the original was the subtlety in romance which is totally missing here as John fails to impart the vulnerability to the character as expertly as Surya did.  Harris Jayaraj has been entrusted with the music here as well, but it fails to evoke the magic of the original. The visuals by Ayananka Bose was commendable & the editing by Aarif Shaikh was fair enough.

There is no doubt that John has improved his acting skills but being a remake, comparisons are inevitable & his performances especially in the romantic scenes  leaves a lot to be desired. However, his action sequences were a total revelation & makes the audience wanting for more. Genelia has done justice to her character in her own bubbly chatterbox style though she lacked the maturity of a teacher. But the winner for me is undoubtedly Vidyut Jamwal, who essayed the role of the cold blooded vindictive sibling to perfection. As for the rest, Mohnish Behl & Sandhya Mridul were impressive while Kamal Sawant does a commendable act.

Verdict: The movie is unlikely to have a forceful impact on the box office though it should be able to do decent business. In short, I believe it has got what it takes to break even, but for those who have seen the original may give this a miss unless you want to check out the action sequences which are a visual treat!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Snehaveedu review: "Lalettan's hopes for a smashing triple ton is unlikely !!!"

It's been almost a month since Onam has been done & dusted, so it was high time that the audience be treated to a couple of new releases. In such a scenario, what better than to herald the release of "Snehaveedu", the 300th film of legendary actor, Mohanlal. Lalettan has been entertaining the audience since the last 25 odd years & this milestone film was surely an occasion for celebration. With veteran director Sathyan Anthikad calling the shots & yesteryear numero uno heroine Sheela collaborating with Lalettan for the first time, the expectations are naturally going through the roof. So will the Lal-Sathyan duo conjure up yet another winner & make it a memorable triple ton for Lalettan???


Just as it has been his trend invariably on most times, Sathyan Anthikad takes us back to his usual locales teeming with greenery where he talks about the life of commoners. This time around, Lalettan dons the role of a Gulf returnee Ajayan who is in love with anything that speaks of our motherland be it the paddy fields, art forms etc. He leads a contented life with his mom, Ammukutty Amma (Sheela), until a boy lands up at his door-step claiming to be his son. What then follows is the efforts of Ajayan to prove his innocence. So will he be successful at it or was Karthik (Rahul Pillai), an unknown mistake of his brashful years???


One of the oft used statements in the film industry is "It's a different story", however in Sathyan's case he pretty much sticks onto the same path which is loved by the audience as he narrates stories to which we can relate to. Just like in his previous ventures, there are the usual set of supporting star cast in "Snehaveedu", be it Innocent, KPAC Lalitha etc, who imbibes the villagers characteristics to perfection. The first half actually breezes through with some really good light moments unlike the slap stick comedy which is so prevalent nowadays. Even the second half does have its moments & builds the suspense for the climax. But that's where the film falls flat, the climax is so lame that it pretty much spoils the whole movie. As for other aspects, Illayaraja's music is soothing while the visuals by Venu captures the beauty of the locales in a befitting manner.

Lalettan is very much in his comfort zone & delivers a commendable performance, showing that his adroitness for light moments is still very much intact.  Sheela seems at ease essaying the role of Lalettan's mom while Rahul Pillai renders a matured act considering that this is his debut. As for the remaining star cast, Innocent does manage to infuse laughs in his limited screen time while the rest does their part aptly though they dont have anything significant to impart to the story.

Verdict: There is no doubt that the movie will have a rousing reception at the box office owing to various factors, be it Lalettan's 300th film, Sathyan Anthikad-Lalettan duo's track record or lack of credible films since Onam. However, I have no qualms in admitting that the damp climax is going to have a disturbing impact on the collections in the long run. In short, you may give it a try as it's a decent one time watch but nothing more!!!

Rating:  2.5/5

Regards...Ben