Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ordinary review: "Extraordinary response confirmed!!!"

Living in Bangalore has its own share of advantages & disadvantages, with the prime negative for a movie lover being the delay or at times non-release of many of the Malayalam films. One such movie to be added onto that list is "Ordinary", which has been garnering positive responses since the time it released in Kerala. Anywaz, it has finally released here & we do get an opportunity to decipher the reason for such hoopla.


It might sound interesting but buses at times have played many a significant role in Malayalam films be it Lalettan's "Varavelppe" or Dileep's "Ee Parakkum Thalika". Now it's the turn of Chakochan as Iravikuttan Pillai who dons the khaki uniform of the conductor in the KSRTC to the hill station, Gavi. Providing him company is driver Suku (Biju Menon), who speaks with a thick Palakkad accent. In due time, he develops a healthy relation with the regular commuters of Gavi & nurtures a soft corner for Kalyani (Sritha Srinivas). But what is life without twists & turns, however what actually transpired was more than what Iravi & Suku had bargained for.

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The last few years has seen the influx of fresh blood into the industry which has led to the creation of several interesting films. With "Ordinary", yet another director in the form of Sugeeth has been inducted into the fraternity & going by what we have seen, the early signs seems promising. The first half was outstanding to say the least, as the audience gets immersed in the fog kissing valleys of Gavi. However, the urge to inject something serious into the film kind of derailed the latter half, especially the climax. Faisal Ali's visuals were stunning as it seemed as exquisite as a painting, making us yearn to be in such locales. Vidyasagar's music was impressive especially Sun Sun Sundari & Enthinee Mizhi.

Frankly speaking, I am at a loss of words to express the brilliance of Biju Menon. His performance was so hilarious that you feel like watching the first half again. Chackochan's & Biju's on screen camaraderie, is the life of the movie which is more than adequately supported by Baburaj, who never ceases to surprise post "Salt N Pepper". The rest of the crew of Lalu Alex, Jishnu, Ann & debutant Shritha Sivadas have done their part aptly along with Asif Ali, who though at times goes overboard.

Verdict: The film has already been declared a superhit thanks to its brilliant first half. It's likely to swell the coffers even more with the release in centres outside Kerala. In short, though the second half is trite, the first half makes it more than an ample reason to watch it!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Masters review: "Masterful thriller!!!"

Summer vacation has commenced & with Vishu, just a fortnight away it's going to be gala time for the movie lovers. Kicking off this session is Prithviraj starrer "Masters", which has already garnered a great deal of hype as it marks the entry of Sasikumar into the Malayalam industry. Coming on the back of the critically acclaimed & commercial potboiler, "Indian Rupee", Prithviraj is slowly & steadily winning over his detractors. Will "Masters" provide an added impetus to his efforts???


ASP Sree (Prithviraj) is one of the most daring, young blooded cops in the Kerala force who has landed in quite a number of soups, thanks to his impulsive & no nonsense nature. However, Sree was lucky to have his best buddy, Milan Paul (Sasikumar) by his side who with his journalistic skills have assisted him in many a case. At around this time, Kottayam is rocked by the suicide murder of industrialist & womaniser, Bala Gangadharan (Vijay Raghavan) by Dakshadas (Piaa Bajpai). Sree was entrusted to unravel the motive behind the murder but preliminary investigations revealed no prior connection between the victim & the murderer. Just as he was drawing blanks, yet another murder happens with the modus operandi being exactly the same. So was there was any link between the murders & will there be more such serial suicide murders??? 

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After the forgetful "Ee Pattanathil Bhootham", Johny Antony has come up with an engaging thriller both in terms of content & treatment. Jinu Abraham, who is credited with the story & screenplay has come with one of the best investigative thrillers in recent times. The first half of the film builds up the ante with a couple of well crafted murders providing subtle hints to the audience without ever bordering on the incredulous. Even in the latter half, Johny Antony manages to maintain the tempo but he does gets carried away in the climax by dragging it a bit too much with spattering of emotions & lengthy fight sequence. 

Prithviraj was fantastic as the ASP without ever going over the top & likely to win browny points for his performance. Sasikumar has done total justice to his role though I felt he should have been impactful in the latter half. As for the rest of the cast, all of them have done their parts effectively & convincingly no matter how short their screen presence has been be it Salim Kumar, Sai Kumar, Ananya, Piaa or Biju Menon. Another major reason for imparting the thrill to the sequences was the scintillating BGM by Gopi Sunder & priase worthy visuals by Madhu Neelakandan.

Verdict: The film is likely to garner an impressive opening which should in all likelihood continue owing to its impressive content & presentation. It's common knowledge that a section of society are kinda pre-judgemental towards Prithvi's films, but I dont believe such factors would impact this film's run as word of mouth would be in its favour. In short, being one of the best thrillers in recent times it's definitely worth a watch. So dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The King and the Commissioner review: "Test of endurance!!!"

Multi-starrers have always been the flavour of the film industry as it more or less ensures a hit owing to the earth shattering initial though at times the script might be absolute crap as in "Chinatown" etc. This week witnessed the release of "The King & the Commissioner",  one of the most anticipated films in recent times. With the coming together of Mammooty & Suresh Gopi, who are two of the best dialogue hurlers that our industry has produced, fireworks are expected to fly. The question is will it be able to replicate the success that "The King" & "The Commissioner" garnered??? 


Shaji Kailas's brand of film making has always dealt with political thrillers & his latest venture also deals with the same. The film unfolds with Pakistan hatching a plot to eliminate the Indian PM & entrusts Major Abul Rana to carry out the mission. However, the Indian Intelligence under Dr. Sudarshan (Nedumudi Venu) was able to intercept this plan, but gets brutally murdered before the authorities could be alerted regarding the impending doom. This coaxs Union Minister GK (Janardhanan) to bring in fire brand bureaucrat, Joseph Alex (Mammooty) to head the investigation with the assistance of Bharath Chandran IPS (Suresh Gopi). With time, it becomes clear that Pakistani militants are aided by Indian money monging traitors such as Chandramoliswara Swami (Saikumar) & kingpin bureaucrat Raman Madhav (Jayan Cherthala). How Joseph Alex & Bharath Chandran saves the day forms the crux of the film.

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The film marks the coming together of the dynamic duo of Shaji Kailas & Renji Panicker after 17 years. It wouldnt be wrong to acknowledge the fact they have been instrumental in bringing about the trend of the protagonist blasting bombastic dialogues interspersed with English against a political backdrop. The script doesnt offer anything new as expected & true to his style, Renji's dialogues were powerful evoking applause from the audience. Shaji's time & tested cinematographic routine is brought back to the fore such as fixation for the limbs & dentals of the protagonists, gust of wind, smoking guns etc. The first half of the film plays to the galleries with fantastic intros & dialogues, but the second half turns out to be a painful drag as it becomes tiring to our senses as it runs close to 3 hours 15mins & makes us leave the theatre with a heavy head. As for other aspects, the editing was fine & the BGM does lift the mood of the sequences.

After having reprised their roles from "The King" & "The Commissioner" respectively, both Mammooty & Suresh Gopi have done total justice to their roles. Being part of such iconic & similar films before, I would say it was  a cake walk for them. Saikumar as the antagonist was powerful though he was made to ape many of the actions made legendary by the late Narendra Prasad. After having being the side-kick of the villains in many of the films, Jayan Cherthala does land up with the plum role of one of the prime villians here & performs aptly. As for the rest of the crew, they were more or less sound boards or punching bags for the protagonists.

Verdict: As one would expect, the film will take a thunderous initial which more or less ensures it to be a hit for sure. It's common sense that Shaji Kailas's films arent made for Moral Science classes rather an opportunity for the fans to have a field day & this film ensures that. If at all they had edited the length close to an hour, it would have done wonders. In short, if you have the patience & endurance to sit through 3 hours of constant gun shots & ear piercing dialogues, then this is your cup of tea or else you might walk out half an hour before the end!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ee Adutha Kaalathu review: "One of the very best in recent times!!!"

After the glorious period of the 80s & 90s, it wont be prudent to accept the fact that since last year the Malayalam industry has been coming up with impressive scripts at an encouraging regularity. One of the most notable movies of 2010 was Arun Kumar Aravind's "Cocktail", which garnered the applause of the audience owing to its sense of reality. So it was inevitable that his latest venture "Ee Adutha Kaalathu" would create a sense of anticipation which was heightened by the impressive promos as well. Hmm...can he deliver the goods yet again???


Every human's fate is determined not only by his actions but also with the people they come in contact. It might be at times maybe for just an instance, but it could still lead to life changing circumstances. Interestingly, it is this very concept that has been tackled with in this venture. Vishnu (Indrajith) belongs to the lower economic strata of the society & juggles various jobs, trying to meet the requirements of his family. Ajay Kurien (Murali Gopy), is the CEO of a  hospital whose marriage with yester year starlet Madhuri (Tanushree Ghosh) was on the rocks. At this juncture, the city was gripped by the fear of a serial killer on the loose who had the police led by Commissioner Tom Cherian (Anoop Menon) at their wits end. Along with being the laughing stock of the force, Tom Cherian also had to deal with the yellow paper journalism linking him to the fiery journalist, Rupa (Lena). Now how the lives of these entirely different characters gets linked & influenced forms the framework of the story.

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Murali Gopi, son of the legendary late Bharat Gopi has been making the right noises for quite some time now with impressive performances in "Bharamaram" & "Gadhama". Though his writing skills didnt attract much attention in "Rasikan", this time around he has come with such a thumping script that he would be flooded with offers. The biggest plus point is the way he seamlessly weaves the situations & brings the characters in contact with each other. Arun's directorial skills has to be equally admired as he has done total justice to the script. Nowadays, it's hard to capture the attention of the audience for a sustained period of time, but Murali & Arun did manage to do it for close to 3 hours & that pretty much proves the quality of the script-direction combo. If at all there has been a flaw, it was the sequences involving Murali which seems a far too stretched for comfort at times.

If at all I have to pick someone from this ensemble cast, it has to be the talented yet under-rated Indrajith. Time & again, he has proved his acting skills by dabbling with various characters with finesse. Murali Gopi would have done his father proud while Mythili proves that she is here to stay though her dubbing was abysmal. Slowly & steadily, Anoop Menon is turning out to be a versatile actor displaying his humorous side admirably. Tanushree Ghosh & Lena were apt, while Nishan was average with Jagathy grabbing attention whenever he features on the screen. This review would be incomplete if I dont acknowledge the brilliant background score by Gopi Sunder, which played a key role in elevating the mood of the film.

Verdict: There is no doubt that the film is going to be a superhit as it has all the elements which will interest the audience. Though the makers made a cardinal flaw of delaying the release outside Kerala for close to a month, but still they should be filling the coffers without fail.  In short, you got to be a fool to miss this!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nidra review: "Impressive but awfully slow at times enticing sleep!!!"


The dearth of good scripts & also to cash in on the hype created by the classic, has led to a rush of remakes being made in recent times. The latest film to join this bandwagon is "Nidra", which was one of the numerous masterpieces by the late Bharathan, who played a crucial role in the 80s & 90s, referred to as the Golden period of the Malayalam Industry. Interestingly, the person who has conjured up courage to attempt the remake is none other than his son, Siddharth Bharathan. So would he able to do justice???


Insanity is one of the most confusing & unforgiving ailments that a person could succumb to, considering the insensitive attitude of majority of the society. It is this very concept that "Nidra" is based upon with Raju (Siddharth Bharathan) being a victim of nervous breakdown following his mother's demise many years back. The film unfolds with Raju getting married to his childhood love Ashwathy (Rima Kallingal) much to the displeasure of her mother (K.P.A.C Lalitha). Raju's ideologies about life were different, which were looked upon with a sense of suspicion by the society who always associated it with his prior mental imbalance. In short, they kept passing sly remarks refusing to accept the fact that such ailments could be resolved. How Raju & Ashwathy deals with the judgemental people forms the crux of the film.

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Since I haven't seen the original, it wont be fair on my part to compare between the directorial skills of the legendary father & son. But there is no doubt, that Siddharth has imbibed some of the class of Bharathan in many of the sequences. Inspite of having a running time of just 1.5 hours, it seems long owing to the slow pace & drags at many scenes without hardly anything happening. Though the climax does look lame for the present day audience, it still did have a classic feel to it reminiscent of yester years. 

Siddharth's performance though raw at times was apt for the character & was able to project the mentality of an insecure person rather convincingly. Rima Kallingal has done total justice to her character & ranks among the best in her nascent career. The rest of the cast such as Jishnu, K.P.A.C Lalitha etc., were fine as well. The major highlight is undoubtedly the stunning visuals by Sameer Tahir of "Big B" fame, which is a class of its own.  Equally impressive was the outstanding background score by Prashanth Pillai, which accentuates the mood & lifts the movie to a whole new level. Jassie Gift's music also deserves a word of praise as it's in sync with the feel of the film.

Verdict: The film is unlikely to create any sort of scuffle at the box office owing to the offbeat nature & agonizingly slow pace. It does have glimpses of class which will interest the intellectual, but wont find takers among the masses. In short, you might give it a try if you havent seen the original!!!

Rating: 3/5 

Regards...Ben








Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kahaani review: "Vidya continues her success story!!!"

The 59th National Film awards were announced just a few days back & Vidya Balan picked up her first for her brilliant performance in "The Dirty Picture". Frankly speaking, I expect her to secure a couple more in her career. It wouldn't be wrong to admit the fact, that she has been very particular in picking up scripts with substantial roles & showcase her prowess unlike being reduced to eye candies as others .This week Vidya dons the grease for Sujoy Ghosh's "Kahaani", whose promos has sparked curiosity. So will Vidya strike gold yet again???


Kolkata. the "City of Joy", with its varied cultural heritage is gearing up for the auspicious Durga Puja festival, when a pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) lands at the airport from London. Her first destination was the Police Station where she files a report about her missing husband, Arnab Bagchi, who according to her had come down to National Data Centre for a software consultancy project before becoming untraceable since the past fortnight. She then make efforts to locate her husband with the help of the good Samaritan, Inspector Rana (Parambrata Chatterjee). But all her efforts draw blanks..be it the hotel where Arnab stayed or the National Data Centre, all of whom denied of even having known him. The final nail in the coffin was when the Immigration Officials at Kolkata & London also refuted her claims. So where was Arnab or does he actually exist???

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After an impressive debut with "Jhankaar Beats", Sujoy Ghosh didnt have much of a credible run. But this time around, he along with Advaita Kala has come up with an impressive script which has got twists & turns in ample measure without being too hard on the grey matter. The biggest plus point is the impact that each & every character imparts together with the protagonist, along with Setu's visuals which captures Kolkata in all its forms be it the dingy alleys or the colourful festive mood.

Vidya Balan has once again proved that she is indeed the best actress around as she expresses her emotions so effortlessly be it the emotionally fragile, fiercely determined or intelligent urbane lady. Parambrata Chatterjee was fantastic & on par with Vidya, while Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Khan (IB Officer) provides the caustic flavour to his character convincingly. Each of the rest of the crew deserves a word of praise as they were equally realistic & convincing.

Verdict: Even prior to the release there were a couple of factors running in its favour such as interesting promos, Vidya's presence & not to forget her National Award just two days before. Now the crowd will just get bigger as the storyline is impressive with word of mouth going in its favour. Vidya has more or less assured herself of the popular awards next year as well. In short, dont miss this impressive thriller!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben


Monday, March 5, 2012

Paan Singh Tomar review: "High time to respect our sporting icons & not just cricketers!!!"

The last couple of weeks has been kind of low key at the movies owing to the upcoming exam season. Talking about exams, India has always been known to be the hub of education, Bollywood & Cricket. We do complain at times of the abysmal performance of India in International meets, but is that complaint justified??? Majority of the parents refrain their kids from taking up a sporting career owing to the lack of monetary support from sponsors, who in turn believes there is nothing more lucrative than Cricket. This attitude has led to many of our sporting icons to be forgotten & one such name is Paan Singh Tomar. Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia known for "Saheb,Biwi Aur Gangster", the film premiered in London Film Festival in 2010 but hit the screens only this weekend. 


Inspite of being a sports fanatic, I do have to admit with regret regarding my ignorance about Paan Singh Tomar as a sporting legend. It's really sad that he became a household name only after he became a dacoit while his sporting feats were hardly known to the citizens. The film tracks the life of Paan Singh Tomar when he was the Army & who takes up the sports division purely to satiate his appetite as there was no limit on diet rather than his love for sports. In due time, his athletic skills garners attention & he gets trained for 3000m steeple chase in which he remains National Champion for 7 years. After being denied to go to the war front in 1962 & 1965 due to the stipulation that sportsmen shouldnt be sent, he vents out his anger at the International Military Games 1967 by winning the gold in his event. Following this, he retires from Army to settle certain family disputes & subsequently the film tracks as to the circumstances leading him to be a dacoit.

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Tigmanshu Dhulia is said to have done extensive research on Paan Singh & has definitely come up with a impressive yet compelling biopic. Spanning a period of three decades, the film touches upon all the major incidents with as much intent & sensitively without ever compromising on the film's tempo. Being well versed with the Chambal terrain, following his experience of working there during the shooting of "Bandit Queen", Dhulia has ensured that the visuals were raw & captivating with the help of Aseem Mishra. Sandeep Chowta also deserves praise for the background score which does add onto the impact of the sequences. 

There is no doubt that Irfan Khan is one of the best actors in the country & he has yet again reimposed this fact with his excellent portrayal of Paan Singh. Though we are only into the third month of the year, but I just cant help saying that I believe that he might be sweeping all the Critics Award for the next year. Mahie Gill as Indra (Paan Singh's wife), has done apt justice to her small yet significant role. The same goes for the rest of the cast as well especially Vipin Sharma (Major Sharma) & Brijendra Kala (reporter).

Verdict: The film has already garnered critical acclaim from all the various film festivals it had gone to, which in turn did instill a sense of anticipation among the audience. At this juncture, it could be rightfully proclaimed that all words of praise for the film is totally justified. It also makes us realise that fact we should respect all sporting icons who brings laurels to our country be it Kabaddi, Shooting, Tennis etc. & not just Cricket. In short, dont miss this biopic!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben