Saturday, January 28, 2012

Agneepath: "Impressive tribute to the original!!!"

One of the hardest jobs for a director is undoubtedly doing the remake of an iconic film as comparisons are inevitable. Though he would have the benefit of an excellent script, at times he would have to alter it subtly keeping in mind the present day sensibilities as in "Don" & also package it in such a way so as to attract the attention of the audience all over again. This weekend saw the release of the remake of the iconic "Agneepath", which won Big B the National Award. So can debutant director Karan Malhotra come up with a credible remake???


As I mentioned earlier, except for subtle changes the thread of the film remains the same. So the film unfolds in 1977 in the island village of Mandwa, where the school teacher Dinanath Chauhan (Chetan Pandit) is held in high esteem much to the dismay of the Sarpanch. At this point, Sarpanch's son Kancha (Sanjay Dutt) sets foot on Mandwa with plans of setting up a narcotics factory & promises the villagers wealth and comfort in exchange for their lands on lease. Realising Kancha's sinister plans, Dinanath Chauhan strongly dissuades the villagers from falling into the trap. This entices Kancha to frame Dinanath for the death of a girl, which eventually leads to the school teacher being hanged in public. Dinanath's family is forced to flee from Mandwa & make Mumbai their home. In due time, Dinanath's son Vijay (Hrithik Roshan) becomes the trusted lieutenant of the drug lord & pimp Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor). But the sole aim of Vijay was to avenge his father's death & how he goes about it forms the crux of the film.


Karan Johar had taken a huge risk when he decided to remake his father, Yash Johar's "Agneepath" owing to the sheer magnitude of the performances in the original Anywaz his faith in debutant director, Karan Malhotra paid off big time as he has been able to come up with an impressive product. Karan Malhotra along with Illa Dutta has done away with some of the characters like Mithun Chakraborthy's Krishnan Iyer MA & included some new ones like Rishi Kapoor's Rauf Lala. The film is engrossing throughout with twists thrown in at times culminating in a riveting climax. But the flaw lies in the fact that its a touch too long & should have mellowed down the romantic track. Sabu Cyril has done a fantastic job as always in the art department rendering a sinister feel to Mandwa. 

In the performance department, Sanjay Dutt was brilliant as the devilish Kancha as his looks, bulky torso & sinister laugh sends a chill down the spine like Lord Voldermort of Harry Potter series. Hrithik Roshan was impressive as ever & essayed the role in his own style rather than aping Big B. He hooks our attention with his manipulative ways yet expressing his pain & anguish convincingly.But the guy who is going to blow off the audience is Rishi Kapoor in a fantastic negative role that will leave you stunned. The female cast of Priyanka Chopra & Zarina Wahab were apt. Ajay Atul's music was fine with Chikni Chameli setting the charts on fire. The visuals by Kiran Deohans were stunning which was complimented by equally proficient editing by Akiv Ali.

Verdict: The hype & impressive promos will guarantee it a bumper opening. There is no doubt that the brilliant performances coupled with a decent script of revenge will ensure that word of mouth will go in its favour. In short, I believe it has all the makings of a blockbuster. So dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben










Friday, January 27, 2012

Casanova review: "Colossial waste of money for a wafer thin plot!!!"

Over the years, the standard of Malayalam films has drastically reduced to being mediocre in most of the cases. However, 2011 brought in a breath of fresh air with many credible & acclaimed films. Even Lalettan was instrumental for such a change by being part of a brilliant movie like "Pranayam". It also goes without saying that it was well & truly Lalettan's year with all his films hitting the bull's eye. So hoping to cash in on the purple patch, Lalettan kicks off this year with Rosshan Andrews's "Casanova". Billed as the most expensive Malayalam film ever, the question is whether it would able to recover its humongous costs???


If Abu Dhabi was the location of Lalettan's "Oru Marubhumi Kadha", this time around its the turn of "City of Gold", Dubai. The film unfolds with four young criminals experts in parkour orchestrating a heist in a monastery. They have been hood winking the Interpol for quite time & their latest heist was just a prelude to their larger plans. At this juncture, Casanova (Lalettan), the floral Mogul known for his extravagant lifestyle & playboy activities makes his entry to attend the function of a business tycoon. Incidentally, this was the target of the gang & they sneak into the function posing as part of Casanova's team. Soon it turns out that Casanova knew about their motive & hatches a plan to take them down through a reality TV programme rather than going to Interpol. So what was the reason behind Casanova's vendetta against the gang???


The interesting aspect of "Casanova" is undoubtedly the credentials of the technicians with Rosshan Andrews calling the shots after impressive films like "Udayananu Thaaram", "Notebook" & "Evidam Swargamanu". Similarly, Bobby Sanjay the architects of acclaimed films like "Traffic", "Notebook" & "Ente Veedum Appuvinteyum", wields their pens yet again. However,this time around they have failed miserably as they have come up with a script jotted with loopholes which in effect is a pale shadow of their previous ones. The first half does manage to instill a sense of anticipation but the amateurish heist & Casanova's plans to lure them into love fails to impress. The second half, was even depressing as it drags along with an uninspiring chemistry between Lalettan & Shriya culminating in a tame climax.

Inspite of such a lousy script, Lalettan has done total justice to his role but it wouldnt be prudent to accept the fact that it hardly challenged an actor of his brilliance. As for the remaining cast, Jagathy reprises his role from "Sagar Alias Jacky", Riaz Khan was convincing as the Interpol officer but wasnt offered much opportunity while the female brigade of Lakshmi Rai, Shriya & Roma were more for eye candy than performance. Gopi Sundar's music & BGM was commendable  especially "Hey Manohara", which deserves special praise for its choreography as well. The visuals by Jim Ganesh was impressive though Lalettan's hair stylist could have done a much better job in the second half.

Verdict: Touted as the most expensive Malayalam film ever, it would have an earth shattering opening owing to the hype & credentials of the crew.Rather than busting money on exotic locales, expensive cars etc., they could have invested much more in making the heist more professional & stylish which tests the intelligence of Interpol who looks equally inept as the criminals. Frankly speaking, I do wonder what the producers "Confident Group" was confident about this film as its likely to incur huge losses. So in short, you may as well check it out on Tv as "Sagar Alias Jacky" seems a classic in comparison!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben

Friday, January 20, 2012

Spanish Masala review: "Not much of a Spanish delight!!!"

Ever since Lal Jose burst into the scene more than a decade back with "Oru Maravathur Kanavu", the audience has been made witness to a number of entertainers. So it's quite natural that his films has always invited a great deal of anticipation which is replicated for his latest venture "Spanish Masala" as well. Being shot in the picturesque Espaniol with Dileep in the lead, the expectations are understandably sky high. Will Lal Jose be able to kick off the year on a high???

After having picturised many countries, Bollywood trained its cameras on Spain for "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" which set off an unprecedented interest across the country. As part of that wave, Lal Jose decided to make Spain as the location for his latest venture. The film unfolds with Charlie (Dileep), who had come along with a troupe for his mimicry act getting stranded on the streets of Madrid. Just as the popular saying goes regarding Malayalis being omnipresent, he meets up with a fellow Malayali who offers him the job of a chef in his restaurant. In due time, his culinary skills lands him with a plum paycheck in the former Ambassador Philip's mansion. Philip & his daughter, Camilla (Daniela Zacheri) shared a cold relation as she believed that he had masterminded her lover, Rahul's (Chackochan) death. With time, Charlie mends their relation & brings back happiness to their household, which makes Philip contemplate on offering her hand to Charlie. But life threw up a couple of unexpected events in front of Charlie!!!


Lal Jose's skills as the director doesnt require much of a discussion as he is quite a maestro at it. However, it's not all smooth sailing in "Spanish Masala"  as the major flaw lies in the script by Benny Nayarambalam. The first half was truly entertaining & had the audience in splits with the humorous dialogues which never resorts to slap stick comedy. But the second half, fails to maintain the tempo as it proceeds aimlessly which culminates in a disappointing predictable climax. Jissen Paul's music was average with nothing to sing praises about while Lokanathan's visuals failed to do justice to the beauty of Spain.

Though the script failed to impress the audience, Dileep has done an excellent job as we adore his character for his laughs & tears. Chackochan has been wasted in a rather poorly etched character while Daniela Zacheri, reminding one of Amy Jackson of "Madrasapattanam" fame; struggles to express herself. Nelson as Pappan was as impressive as Dileep & could be a comedian to look out for in future. Biju Menon was apt in his small yet significant role while Vinaya Prasad was just about average.

Verdict: The film is likely to have a fantastic opening owing to Lal Jose's track record & Dileep's presence. Though the film suffers majorly from the lack of an impressive script, the clean humour & Dileep's performance will keep the audience interested. I still havent figured out as to why it was shot in Spain as  neither the script nor the picturisation made use of the locales. Anywaz in short, you will be entertained provided you dont harbour high hopes as it's an average fare at best!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Padmashree Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar review: "Mere cocktail of disjointed events!!!"

Whenever there has been news of Sreenivasan working on a script, it has always garnered a great deal of hope. Incidentally, this first month of 2012 has been made witness to yet another of his scripts which happens to be a spin off from Roshan Andrew's blockbuster "Udayananu Tharam". Though not claiming to be a sequel, Sreenivasan reprises the character of superstar Saroj Kumar which had won the hearts of critics & audience alike. So can Sajin Raaghavan's debut venture recreate Roshan Andrew's magic???


One of the main reasons behind the stupendous success of  "Udayananu Tharam" was Sreenivasan's excellent portrayal of Superstar Saroj Kumar. This film tracks the life of Saroj Kumar many years down the line during which time he managed to obtain many titles attached to his name by hook & crook namely "Padmashri", "Bharat" & "Megastar". As one would expect, his arrogance had gone up by several notches & uses his clout to remain as the undisputed Megastar though all his films had been bombing with alarming frequency.  Being a stickler for fame & gasconade, Saroj's latest fantasy was to obtain the title of Colonel & he is aided in this by his trusted partner, Pachalam Bhasi (Jagathy). At this juncture, a promising director Alex (Fahad Fazil) bursts into the scene & Pachalam finances the venture with Saroj as the lead star. But things doesnt pan out as planned, as Saroj slaps a junior artist, Shyam (Vineeth) on the sets. This reels off a set of events which threatens to push off Saroj from his lofty perch.


Sreenivasan had come up with an interesting script along with Roshan Andrews in "Udayananu Tharam". Unfortunately, the same cant be said here as the film is just a mish mash of several real life events. Though it has been termed to be a satirical, I would rather term it as a distasteful take on the industry. Majority of the scenes were shot with reference to Lalettan be it the Lt.Col, Income tax raid, elephant tusk or his spat with Sukumar Azhikode, along with references to Prithviraj's English & Jayaram's Padmashree. However, there are a few genuinely humorous scenes such as Saroj's intro. With such a mediocre script on hand, I would term Sajin's efforts as decent while Deepak Dev's music was impressive in a rather pathetic film.

In the performance department, thanks to a weak script Sreenivasan's act kept oscillating from being humorous to utterly unbearable. Suraj repeats his usual boring gimmicks while Jagathy does a decent job. It was surprising to see Mamta Mohandas take up such an insignificant role. Fahad Fazil has been impressive while Mukesh & Vineeth were fine & average respectively.

Verdict: Owing to the so called prequel's aura, the film will take a fantastic opening which might allow it to break even. Anywaz that's the max that it would garner as it's been a distasteful slandering rather than a humorous satire. In short, many sequences were of  B grade standard & so dont even bother watching!!!

Rating: 1.25/5

Regards...Ben


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nanban review: "Worthy & impressive remake!!!"

We are into the second week of 2012 & the Tamilians are gearing up for their harvest festival, Pongal which is one of the biggest festivals of the year. As always, Kollywood has lined up interesting big budget projects, with Shankar's "Nanban", remake of the blockbuster "3 Idiots" being the most anticipated. With Vijay & Shankar joining hands for the first time, can the hitmaker add yet another one into his kitty & extend Vijay's purple patch???  Hmm..the omens seems promising!!!


Rajkumar Hirani's "3 Idiots" is the biggest ever blockbuster of Bollywood, so remaking it in any language would generate a great deal of interest. When Shankar, the man with the Midas touch expressed his interest to remake it with Vijay in the lead, the expectations naturally went through the roof. Anyway, here's a brief preview though I am sure almost all of you guys would have watched the original. Panchavan Parivendran (Vijay), Sevalkodi Senthil (Jeeva) & Venkatramakrishnan (Srikanth) are room mates in Ideal Engineering College which is being headed by Virumandi Santhanam alias Virus (Satyaraj). Senthil always succumbs to pressure while Venkat's is forced to forego his passion for photography to fulfill his father's wishes. Pari is one who believes in following the heart & instills the same in his friends. Pari's unorthodox take on education & brilliance had made him rub shoulders with Virus & his colleague, Silencer (Satyan) in the wrong way. All this & more, forms the framework of this flick.

After Shankar's blockbuster "Enthiran", the announcement of "Nanban" sparked an unprecedented hype considering the star ensemble that he had lined up & also the huge risk on how to improve on a blockbuster like "3 Idiots". But it wouldnt be prudent to declare now that Shankar has done a fantastic job. He has remained faithful to the original & thankfully, didnt include any unnecessary heroism which is part & parcel of Vijay's films. However, the music by Haris Jayaraj contrary to expectations was quite a dampener while Antony could have done much better with the editing as it runs close to 3 hours.

If the script was the heart of the original, then the brilliant star cast was the soul. Keeping this in mind, Shankar has carefully selected the cast. Vijay was outstanding to say the least devoid of his starry airs & heroism, reminding us of his hits as adorable characters in the 90s. Though I was quite apprehensive as to how Srikanth might perform, he put my doubts to rest with a good performance along with an impressive Jeeva. Ileana & Sathyan however failed to capture the magic of Kareena & Omi Vidya respectively. Satyaraj has definitely done a decent job but falters with respect to Boman's brilliance.

Verdict: The film will take an outstanding opening & it will remain so for a fortnight or more as it's really well made. It might not excite the hard core fans of the original, but I certainly believe this does deserve more than a look into. In short, it's a superhit in the making; so check it out!!!

Rating: 3.25/5

Regards...Ben




Monday, January 9, 2012

Players review: "Lacks the believability of the original!!!"

2012 is upon us & along with it kindles the hopes of an even bigger, better year for the industry. With quite a few of them such as "Bodyguard", "Ready", "Don 2" etc. racking in big bucks, this week witnessed the release of  "Players" with similar hopes from the director duo of Abbas Mustan. This dynamic duo have craved a niche for themselves for their stylish films which is high on dare devilry stunts & interesting twists. So can their latest venture with an ensemble of stars be the first blockbuster of the year???


Bollywood is well known for their absolute disregard & shamelessness for ripping off from Hollywood flicks without even batting an eyelid. However, there has been a welcome change with Abbas Mustan obtaining the  rights for remaking the blockbuster "The Italian Job". Since many of my friends has seen the original, I dont believe this review requires much of an insight into the plot. Charlie (Abhishek Bachchan) plans on a gold heist from the Russians & is assisted in his mission by a team of the best tacticians which is put together by his mentor, Victor Braganza (Vinod Khanna). Though they successfully pull off the heist, the team gets double crossed by one among them. This unfolds further twists & turns; & how they manage to get even.


Abbas Mustan has always been the masters of suspense & twists but unfortunately they fail to inject a sense of surprise this time around. It's true that they have Indianised it & remained true to the original with a couple of twists of their own which however fails to excite us. The stunts are stylish & the cinematography by Ravi Yadav deserves a word of praise for the stunning locales. Another dampener is the mediocre scores by Pritam with hardly any song worthy enough of tapping our foot. But the biggest flaw is undoubtedly the unimaginative screenplay by Rohit Jugraj & Sudip Sharma, as the heist lacks the zing or originality of "Italian Job".

Now comes to the most important part of actually enacting it on screen, Abhishek Bachchan has done a decent job of being the man in command. Sikhandar Kher & Omi Vaidya fails to impart much impact while Sonam Kapoor yet again proves that she doesnt have a clue on how to emote on screen. Neil Nitin Mukesh displays his skills with his meaty role while Bobby Deol was wasted. Bips does keep the mercury rising with her oomph factor.

Verdict: "Players" will fail to make any impression in the box office & in all likelihood going to burn the producers hands. In short, you may as well watch the original in case you missed it!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben