Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chakravyuh review: "Glimpses of reality but predictable plot"

Whenever political genre films are thought of, the first name which fleets into any cineaste's mind is Prakash Jha. His brand of film making are for the thinking audience giving them a slice of reality which remains shrouded from public view. His films may not have exactly set the box office on fire but the blunt reality showcased interspersed with cinematic liberties are undeniable be it "Gangaajal", "Rajneeti" or Aarakshan". This time around he has touched upon the ever prevalent issue of Naxalism through "Chakravyuh". So can he reap box office rewards with critical acclaim???


Nandighat has been in the news for quite some time as it was the stronghold of the Naxals led by their charismatic leader Rajan (Manoj Bajpai). Seeking to eradicate the Naxal influence, SP Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal) takes up the challenge but his plans fails to materialise thanks to the lack of support among the villagers owing to the atrocities meted out to them on a regular basis by the Government & police force. Seeing Adil's plight, his close buddy Kabir (Abhay Deol) comes up with the idea of infiltrating into the Naxal camp & being an informer. In due time, their combined efforts starts to bear fruit but Kabir starts to realise that the principles of Naxalism does make sense. So will Kabir have a change of heart & if so, does it change his equation with Adil???


Once again Prakash Jha has come up with an interesting subject as there are a lot of mixed opinions as to what the Naxals does is justifiable or not. Well I wont delve into that aspect, but Jha has definitely given us a brief insight into the ground reality. However, the treatment of the story wasn't impressive as it takes up a predictable route & fails to strike any kind of emotional chord with the audience barring a few sequences. If it wasnt for the riveting performances by quite a few, it would have been a lack lustre experience over all. 

Though not one of the protagonists, the first person whom I would like to mention is Anjali Patil as the fiery Naxal Juhi. She was a revelation & breathed fire into her character with utmost naturality. Abhay Deol is always known to select off beat films & emerges a winner. Arjun Rampal is fine while Manoj Bajpai & Om Puri comes up with intense impressive performances. 

Verdict: The rustic packaging of the film wont attract the masala lovers & the lack of a interesting plot wont have the critics singing praises. At the most it might break-even if its lucky though I doubt it. In short, check it out for the performances but that also do so when it comes on TV!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jawan of Vellimala review: "Mammooka's wait for an elusive hit continues!!!"

Before proceeding into the review, I would like to express my gratitude to all my well wishers & blog readers for their support as this is my 151st review with a cumulative readership which just crossed 50K. Pretty similarly, Anoop Kannan was indebted to his guru Lal Jose on his maiden venture "Jawan of Vellimala". What made it all the more fascinating was the fact that both of them were locking horns on the same weekend. With Lal Jose creating a gem with "Ayalum Njanum Thammil", the question now is can Anoop Kannan size up to his guru???


Vellimala dam was an architecture of pride for the villagers as it was a testament to the struggles & hardships that they suffered to make it into a reality. Gopi Krishnan (Mammootty), one of the caretakers of the dam was an ex-army personnel who was forced to retire following a mishap to his eye. However, his claims of having struck terror in the enemies in his heydays evoked laughter as Gopi was scared of the dark since he saw ghosts of people who had plunged to their deaths from the dam. So was it just a figment of his imagination or was there an iota of truth???


After having being the associate to the maestro Lal Jose for quite some time, Anoop Kannan has finally conjured up courage to call the shots.With Mammooka's Playhouse production house pumping in the money & not to forget, Mammooka's lean patch; the pressure on Anoop would naturally be much more than a normal debutant. Considering the execution of the movie, there is no doubt that he has honed his skills pretty well under his guru. However, he has been massively led down by James Albert's script who struggles to create an engaging thriller. The premise & basic storyline had the promise of something interesting, but it turned out to be a damp squid. Satheesh Kurup has done a decent job with his visuals while Bijibal's music was average with "Pora neranjoru pathira" going to be a hot favourite for booze parties.

Now what do I say about Mammooka, for more than a year now no matter what he does his films have been  barely able to have queues reminiscent of the beverages corporation atleast for the opening weekend. Even here, he makes a decent effort along with Sreenivasan but with a flawed script there is nothing much that they can salvage. As for the rest of the cast, they were average at best with none of them deserving a special mention. 

Verdict: The film will have an encouraging opening thanks to the promos & hype surrounding the clash between the heavyweights. But in this battle, the guru & heir apparent wins it hands down as the script is bereft of an engaging tale. In short, if lucky it might break even nothing more!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben





Ayalum Njanum Thammil review: "Script not on par with the stunning visuals!!!"

After a month of quiet, the Malayalam film industry is brimming with activity with two big movies going head to head at the box office. What makes it all the more delightful is the caliber of the cast & crew on display with Lal Jose & Prithvi facing off against Mammooka & Anoop Kannan. Being a movie buff, I just couldn't choose between the two & so ended up watching both. After the resounding success of "Diamond Necklace", Lal Jose is back with his latest venture "Ayalum Njanum Thammil" which sees Prithvi in the lead for the first time since "Classmates". Already the promos has been the talk of the town but the question now remains is whether it could live upto expectations.


Being from the Medical profession, I totally agree to the fact that it's a noble line of work after all a man's life is in our hands. Though there are quite a few in the society who has made it into a money spinning prospect, there are scores of true professionals who renders selfless service. However, the public memory can be really short & this is what Dr. Ravi Tharakan (Prithviraj) experienced when his efforts to save a child's life at his own expense drew blank. On the insistence of his colleagues, Ravi flees the hospital only to meet with an accident. Was this what Dr. Ravi had bargained for after all there is a limit to what a doctor could do??? What then follows is the formative years of Ravi from a happy go lucky dude to the respected doctor that he had become.


After the awesome "Diamond Necklace", Lal Jose continues his magic with his latest venture. Though the protagonists of both the films were doctors, there is a sea of difference as this was more of a biographic take on a doctor's life. Bobby Sanjay has well & truly bounced back from the debacle of "Casanova", but their script lacked the depth considering the fact that direction & the actors performance were brilliant. They had taken a very superficial path on the formative years at the Medical College with hardly anything substantial being shown. The drama picturised on the present day could have been more gripping & the coming of age of the protagonist lacked the impact like Hrithik's transformation in "Lakshya". Apart from Lal Jose, Jomon's visuals were absolutely scintillating while Ousepacchan's music was fine.

Time & again, I have always maintained that Prithviraj is a good actor but his blunt interactions with the media and suspect choice of films has earned him quite a no. of detractors. But whenever he has chosen a right script, he has scored big time & this is one such occasion as he was fantastic as the protagonist. Prathap Pothen's films in the past weren't my cup of tea but his second coming has just blown me off be it in "22FK" or as Dr. Samuel in this venture. Naren, Reema Kallingal, Salim Kumar & Kalabhavan Mani has done a commendable job while Samvrita Sunil & Remya Nambeesan was wasted & average respectively.

Verdict: The film will have a roaring opening at the box office considering the brand value of Lal Jose & Prithvi, not to forget the impressive promos. This will definitely go onto be a hit as it will surely appeal to the audience though I cant help saying that with a bit more effort from Bobby Sanjay this could have been as memorable as "Classmates". In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Aiyyaa review: "Even an AXE effect wont attract the audience!!!"

Over the years, the Tamil & Telugu film industry has been coming up by leaps & bounds to match the scripting excellence of Malayalam. But unfortunately the way Bollywood looked at the South hasn't changed much as its still the pelvic thrusts and buxom heaves that appeals to them. This is quite evident since "Dabaang" released as there has been flooding of films with South Indian masala considered as an integral ingredient for success. This week we have National Award winning director, Sachin Kundalkar's "Aiyaa" which treads a similar path albeit in a different manner. The promos were loud & over the top, but will the film finds its feet???


Meenakshi Deshpande (Rani Mukherjee) belongs to a middle class cranky Marathi household which could said to be a desi version of the Adam's family. Actually Meenakshi herself is a drama queen with her melodramatic screeches & frequent escapades into her fantasy filmi world. After having landed the job of a librarian, she falls for the handsome South Indian hunk, Surya (Prithviraj) as he smells good. Now was it the pheromones or AXE??? I seriously have no idea but she starts following him everywhere like Mary's lamb in the nursery rhyme. At the same time, her parents fixes her alliance with Madhav (Subodh Bhave) & she is now torn between the two choices. So will she follow her heart or brain???

Sachin Kundalkar's ingress into Bollywood has attracted quite a lot of attention considering that he is one of the most respected names in the Marathi film industry. However, it hasnt been all smooth sailing for Sachin as the film doesnt come across as a cohesive piece of art. There are definitely many sequences which evokes laughter but those are far & few with a wafer thin plot which drags along for much of the second half. The saving grace however is the cast who does an impressive job but then without a credible script there is a limit to how much the cast can augur the fate of the film. Amit Trivedi's music is already on top of the charts with "Dreamsum Wakepum" & "Aga Bhai" ruling the roost. However, I dont quite endorse the lyrics & Vaibhavi's choreography of the former though she has done an impressive job in the latter. 

Just as I had mentioned previously all the actors have done their parts well & it all starts with the protagonist, Rani Mukherjee. She has done total justice to her role which required her to be quirky & loud. It's really unfortunate that Prithviraj hardly had any dialogues until the climax but when he does he exudes confidence & gives a praise worthy performance, not to forget the hard work he has put into chiseling his torso. As for the rest, each of them deserves a pat especially Nirmiti Sawant (Meenakshi's mother).

Verdict: 2012 has been the year of heroine centric films & "Aiyaa" is no different with the hero reduced to an object of lust & fantasy. However, Rani hasnt been hot property for quite some time & to add to that the wafer thin plot with some quirky characters wont quite appeal to the audience as it seems more like an extended version of AXE advertisement. So in all likelihood it is going to sink without much of a trace. In short, the producers & the audience will be saying "Iooooo..." for the same reason!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben


Saturday, October 6, 2012

English Vinglish review: "Sridevi is brilliant as ever!!!"

Over the decades our Indian film industry has been blessed with proficient actors who has essayed characters with such flair & finesse that at times we gasp with disbelief as to whether it's fact or fiction. I have been watching Bollywood movies since the past two decades, during which time there has been a host of good performers but very few of the caliber of Sridevi. After having started acting at the tender age of four, she has been rightful termed as "The First Female Superstar of Indian Cinema", before she retired into domestic life 15 years back  following the blockbuster "Judaai". However, ever since her comeback venture "English Vinglish" has been announced, the hype & expectations has been going through the roof . The promos surely looked promising but was such a long wait justified???


Shashi (Sridevi), is a typical middle class Indian wife whose life revolves around the welfare & happiness of her family. She goes about her household work selflessly & even runs a small but successful catering business of ladoos. But her inability to converse in English always stung her as she was the object of numerous callous jibes by her husband & daughter. Things take a turn when she travels to New York to help out with her niece's wedding. After being humiliated at a cafe, she enrolls into a four week English speaking course without informing her kin. So will she able to keep it a secret & conquer English which has constantly hurted her self respect???


Gaurav Shinde is a noted ad film director & though a debutant film maker she already had her brush with the industry courtesy of her husband, R. Balki assisting him in "Cheeni Kum" & "Paa". Call it coincidence or her husband's effect but "English Vinglish" also oozes the same sense of freshness & appeal as "Cheeni Kum". Her screenplay is simple & has clarity which makes us instantly relate with the psyche of the protagonist. There is no denying the fact that certain sequences has been inspired from the popular British comedy series "Mind Your Language", but that doesn't belittle the film at all. On the whole, there is hardly any blemishes & by the time it culminates in a predictable yet moving climax you cant help having a smile on your face. Amit Trivedi deserves praise for his lively numbers especially the title track rendered by Shilpa Rao.

What do I say about Sridevi??? I am virtually speechless as she is as brilliant as she always was. I wont be surprised if audience asks whether she was actually away for more than a decade coz she is at ease as ever. Priya Anand who essays the role of Radha is quite a familiar name in the South & before long will be seen in more Hindi films courtesy of her impressive act. Mehdi Nebbou as Laurent is a French actor who gives an equally impressive performance through his expressions which speaks volumes about what he wants to convey though he converses in his native dialect. All the rest have done their parts well starting from Adil Hussain to her colleagues in the English class. Even Big B delivers a beaming performance with his comic timing in his brief role. 

Verdict: The film has already created a buzz considering it's Sridevi's comeback, so it should definitely have an encouraging opening. Thanks to brilliant performances & a simple yet endearing storyline, it should go on to be a superhit. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trivandrum Lodge review: "Carnal instincts galore!!!"

Gone are the days when sex was talked behind closed doors & that could very much be due to the changing attitudes owing to Westernisation. This trend has been very much evident in the so called conservative Malayali community since the last few years. Taking a cue from that, our film industry has also been dishing out films with bold themes such as "Chappa Kurish". The latest to join this genre is V.K Prakash's "Trivandrum Lodge", which brings back the successful trio of "Beautiful"; V.K, Jayasurya & Anoop Menon together again. So can this venture on promiscuity replicate the success???


Dhwani (Honey Rose) has recently divorced & wants to enjoy her newly attained freedom to the fullest which even involves fornicating with abandon. Her wish to pen a novel based on the underbelly of Kochi brings her to a dilapidated lodge called "Trivandrum Lodge" which harbours various types of individuals; Abdu (Jayasurya), an unkempt sex starved individual, Shibu Vellayani (Saiju Kurup), reporter of a sleazy film magazine, Kora (Balachadran), a retired clerk who boasts of having experienced ecstasy with 999 ladies & many more. However, all of them had one thing in common & that is their conversations and thoughts invariably revolved around matters under the waist. So how each of these individuals strives for the satisfaction of their carnal instincts which could be either getting laid or maintaining celibacy forms the crux of the film.

Riding on the high of "Beautiful" & critically acclaimed "Karmayogi", V.K Prakash has taken up a rather bold theme which will definitely wont have much of a taking among the family audience. However, the youth which forms the target audience will lap it up gleefully. Anoop Menon who has penned the script hasn't held back what he intended to convey but at times I do feel he has taken it a bit too far. It's definitely a credible & bold effort, however it is quite weird that all the characters seems to have their limbic brain on an overdrive.

Jayasurya is always known to make a conscious effort to experiment with his looks & appearance in every film that he does. Coupled with an impressive performance, his efforts has paid off well. Actually, each & every member of the cast have done total justice to their roles be it Honey Rose, Anoop Menon or Thesni Khan. Similarly, Jayachandran's music was fine especially the track Kanninnullil Nee Kanmani rendered by Najeem while Pradeep Nair's visuals deserves praise for its rustic feel imparted by the mellow brown schemes.

Verdict: Families are likely to stay away from this one while the youth & bachelors will make it a viable prospect for the producers. The film surely makes for an interesting watch though it will make a few of us to cringe & squirm in our seats at certain sequences. In short, an overdosage of carnal talk but it's worth a try!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Puthiya Theerangal review: "Nothing new except for the actress!!!"

The name "Sathyan Anthikad" always evokes a sense of being one with nature as his movies invariably deals with situations & scenarios to which we are quite acquainted. All his movies has the backing of the family audience which explains his enviable track record, though of late he seems to have lost his Midas touch with his previous venture "Snehaveedu" not being quite upto the mark. With the Malayalam industry paving way for the so called "New wave films", it is upto legends like Sathyan to prove that their brand of film making still have takers & curiously enough, his latest venture is titled "Puthiya Theerangal". So will this offer anything different???


Thamara (Namitha Pramod) is the pride of the coastal area as she goes fishing in the sea with as much dexterity & deftness as her male counterparts. Having lost her parents in her childhood itself, the light to her loneliness were her three companions of which Mohanan (Nivin Pauly) nurtured a soft corner for her. However, she always wished for a fatherly figure in her life which she was granted with when she saves an old man, K P (Nedumudi Venu) from the waters. She treats K.P with as much care & affection as her late father, but the question always lingered as to who K.P actually was???


Having proclaimed after "Snehaveedu" that the writer in him will be taking a back seat, Sathyan has handed over that responsibility to Benny Nayarambalam this time around. However, Benny's script was as pathetic as his previous effort in "Spanish Masala" as there is hardly any credible story line. The film unfolds in a leisurely pace introducing the various characters & though the question as to who is K.P pops up in the latter half, the audience is least bothered by then as it neither had any impact nor any significant twist. In short, hardly nothing happens during the entire time period except for a couple of situational light moments. Illayaraja's music was average at best while Venu's visuals deserves praise.

The film marks the launch of yet another actress into the industry in the form of Namitha Pramod. She has done a decent job keeping in mind of the fact that her role lacked the sting thanks to Benny's flawed screenplay. Nivin Pauly basking in the glory of "Thattathin Marayathu" barely had a substantial role except for a couple of songs. Nedumudi Venu who actually plays the protagonist essays a role that he has done time & again. As for the rest, the old lady (not aware of her name) who waits for her long lost lover from Sri Lanka does an apt job in tickling the funny bone.

Verdict: The brand name "Sathyan Anthikkad" will naturally make families flock to the theatres but that will last only for the first few days owing to the lack of a credible script. It's definitely a clean movie but what's the point when it offers nothing new except for a new actress & the absence of Mammukoya & K.P.A.C Lalitha. In short, don't bother!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben