Friday, September 20, 2013

North 24 Kaatham review: "Best Onam release of this year"!!!

Being the Onam season, there has been a handful of releases of which I was able to check out only 3 the previous weekend, owing to various commitments. Anywaz with just a couple of days left before I head back to Bangalore, today I found some time to spare & decided to check out "North 24 Kaatham".With the other Onam releases failing to impress, I do hope that this has something different to offer. Hmm..lets see...


Hari (Fahad Fasil) is a brilliant software programmer who was the apple of the eye of his boss but more like a sour apple for his colleagues. The primary reason for their disgust was Hari's asocial nature & peculiar behavioural traits be it his obsession for cleanliness, fear of flying or being a stickler for routine all of which was actually a manifestation of OCD. Things take a turn when he is made meet his fears courtesy of a journey he had to make to attend a conference in Trivandrum. But his destination gets altered mid way, when he alights from the train & accompanies Gopalettan (Nedumudi Venu) and Narayani (Swati Reddy), to help Gopalettan reach back to his ailing wife. Little did Hari realise that his journey with the other 2 individuals on a harthal was going to be a life changing experience.

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This Onam heralds yet another director in the form of Anil Radhakrishnan Menon into the Malayalam industry & his debut venture has been such that it gives hope for the future. In addition to calling the shots, he has also penned an impressive script which can be categorised both as a travelogue and as a satire into the hardships of travelling on a harthal. Anil has also meticulously looked into the aspect of OCD which hasnt been explored in Malayalam. Even the other technical aspects were equally impressive, be it Jayesh Nair's visuals or Govind Menon's music. Though the film runs for just 2 hours, it lags quite a bit in the second half with a predictable climax, but even then the film was really enjoyable.

Fahad Fasil was fantastic as Hari, imparting the body language & expressions with elan as he barely had a few dialogues to mouth. Nedumudi Venu & Swati Reddy both have done their roles well, along with a special mention of Sreenath Bhasi & Chemban Vinod.

Verdict: Fahad's films are coming with such frequency that even before his previous film's posters can fade, the new one hits the screens but he continues to enthrall. Thanks to an impressive script & praise worthy performances, this is the best Onam release by more than a fair distance. So dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben


Monday, September 16, 2013

Ezhamathe Varavu review: "Legends fail to impress!!!"

Just a day more for Onam & we have got two movies hitting the screens today with one being "Ezhamathe Varavu" which has stalwarts like Hariharan & M.T at the helm. So after helping out Mom with the preparations for the sadhya tomorrow, I decided to head out straight to the theatre to soak in the creation of the legends. With the promos looking interesting, my expectations were pretty high. So will it satiate my expectations???


Dr. Prasad (Vineeth) is an archaeologist who lands up in the jungles of Wayanad on an excavation expedition on a site believed to be part of the ancient Chera dynasty.  In order to make the site easily accessible, Prasad was provided accommodation in a nearby bungalow belonging to the rich aristocrat, Gopinathan (Indrajith) who revels in hunting. On further acquaintance, it so happened that Prasad, Gopi & his wife, Bhanu (Bhavana) were all alumni of Maharajas College. At around this time, a man eater creates havoc among the tribals with even a myth circulating that the tiger came every 7 years to kill 7 females. So was it just a myth???

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In all humililty, I proclaim that I am a novice to even comment on the script by the legendary M.T Vasudevan Nair. But from a personal point of view, I was absolutely fascinated by the tale of the man-eater & the way the plot build up I expected it to be a cracking showdown in the climax. Unfortunately, there was nothing of the sort. Actually, the alternate track focusing on the relationship between the characters seemed to be hazily created. Hariharan has no doubt done an impressive job with the script on offer. The major plus points of the film are the technical aspects such as S.Kumar's visuals, Resul Pookutty's audio & Deepak Dev's BGM all of which were fantastic.

In the performance department, Vineeth has done an impressive job as he enacted the role with utmost naturality. Indrajith impresses as well but he wasn't upto his usual standards especially in the initial sequences. As for Bhavana, she has done a decent job while the debutant Kavitha oscillates from being good to amateurish. 

Verdict: Well the film is unlikely to garner much enthusiasm among the audience & in all probability, the film is bound to tank. I do accept that the technical aspects are fantastic but the film fails to entertain. In short, watch it without much expectations!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben


Sringaravelan review: "Dileep's mass masala is a lengthy ordeal!!!"

It's a well known fact that the actor who usually rules the roost during festival releases is Dileep after all his films caters to the family audience, young & old alike. So naturally I was looking forward to check out his Onam release "Sringaravelan" & got myself decked up for the FDFS. The last time I saw a movie FDFS in my hometown was "Ladies & Gentleman", which turned out to be an absolute torture. Hmm...will history repeat itself???


Kannan (Dileep) is a jobless fashion designer who is always on the lookout to make quick bucks by hook or crook. As part of his money spinning scheme, he plans to marry from a rich household & that eventually led him to fall in love with Radhu (Vedhika), the heir apparent of a wealthy kovilakam. But things weren't as easy as he thought as her father, DGP (Joy Mathew) was a dreaded don who plans to marry her off to some NRI to protect her from his rivals. Will Kannan be able to protect Radhu & create a change in DGP's plans???

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After the blockbuster "Mayamohini", Jose Thomas collaborates yet again with the screenwriter duo Udayakrishna & Siby K Thomas for his latest venture. The major flaw of the film is the wafer thin plot with hardly much credible comedy sequences which is Dileep's forte. It was made all the more tedious for the audience as it ran close to 3 hours. None of the technical aspects deserves a mention with the music by Berny Ignatious feeling like it should have be in films made a decade back.

Unlike his other films, Dileep barely had much scope to tickle the funny bone as it was mainly entrusted to others like Lal & Kalabhavan Shajon. In all fairness, Shajon delivers the goods but Lal was way over the top testing our patience. Vedhika seemed more like a beautiful looking plastic doll while Joy Mathew got to make up his mind whether he wants acting or direction, as he was far  from impressive in many sequences. 

Verdict: In all probability, the family audiences will lap this up as it is packaged as a mass masala with sprinkling of comedy, heroism & slow motion. As far as my opinion goes, it seemed like a haphazardly created tedious ordeal. The choice is now yours!!!

Rating: 1.25/5

Regards...Ben






Friday, September 13, 2013

Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus review: "Only God can save Mammookka!!!"

Finally Onam holidays are here & what better way to relax than being at home, munching on the goodies & checking out the new releases. As soon as I landed today morning, the first poster which caught my attention on the way home was Mammookka's "Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus". Though the promos looked average, I was urged to check it out first before anything else. Hope his latest release will be a perfect Onam gift for fans like us.


Vadakkumthala theatres is a drama troupe in Thodupuzha who has been maintaining the tradition of churning out social dramas for close to two decades. But this time around, Father Sunny (Siddique) plans a light & sound show based on the life of Jesus Christ as a fund raiser. All their efforts to find an individual who could play the role of the protagonist proved futile until  they came across Cleetus (Mammookka) who agrees to it after much coaxing. Little did they realise that though Cleetus resembled Jesus physically, he was a gangster with a character more like Satan.

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Mammookka is always known to encourage new film makers & the latest to join this band wagon is Marthandan who is quite well known in the advertising circuit. Armed with the script & screenplay of Benny Nayarambalam who is basking in the glory of the superhit "Sound Thoma", Marthandan couldn't be accused of being a touch confident. But things doesnt seem so rosy for him as the script is pretty average to say the least but has a decent screenplay, thanks mainly to a handful of hilarious scenes. As for other aspects, Bijibal's music was pathetic though I did like the BGM.

As always Mammookka has put in an earnest effort but there is a limit to how much he can salvage a mediocre script. The role barely posed any challenge for him except for maybe tying up his hair. Siddique was fine while Suraj is finally rendering some genuine comedy without being irritating.As for the rest of the cast, Honey Rose barely had anything to do while Tesni Khan seems to be typecasted.

Verdict: The film is packaged as a mass entertainer with slow motion, comedy & action sequences which would definitely delight the hard core fans. It should be a big draw for the families & should pose competition for Dileep's "Sringaravelan". As far as my opinion goes, it could be a hit but it's high time that God drill some sense into Mammookka to reject such mediocre stuff as he is far better than all this. In short, it's an average time pass!!! 

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, September 9, 2013

Shuddh Desi Romance review: "Desi romance is more like videshi nowadays!!!"

Romance has undergone a sea of change over the years & even our films have showcased this aspect except for maybe Rajshri Productions which still clings onto the pre-historic romantic sagas. Actually in recent years, there has been quite a number of films which has focussed on romance in small towns such as "Band Baaja Baraat", "Raanjhanna" etc. The latest to join this genre is "Shuddh Desi Romance", whose promos looked pretty promising. So does it live upto it's promise???


Raghu Ram (Sushant Singh) is a tourist guide in Jaipur who also earns extra bucks helping out Goyal (Rishi Kapoor), a wedding planner courtesy impersonating as baraati. Finally, the day arrives when Raghu has to tie the knot & on the way to the bride's place he befriends Gayathri (Parineeti Chopra) who had been entrusted by Goyal to pose as Raghu's sister. Just as the imminent time approaches, he develops cold feet & absconds from the wedding pavilion. A couple of weeks later he meets up with Gayathri & before long they indulge in a live in relationship. Soon they decide to solemnize their relation , but on the jotted day, Gayathri bolts leaving Raghu stranded. It is at this juncture that he meets up with Tara (Vaani Kapoor), the female whom he had left stranded at the altar. Hmm... so will they land up at the altar a second time???

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After having impressed one & all with "Band Baaja Baraat", Maneesh Sharma has come up with a pretty different take on relationship & would I say a more realistic approach in his latest venture. Maneesh has captured the essence of Jaipur with all its hustle-bustle & he has been well supported by Jaideep Sahni's script. The storyline is no doubt entertaining without raising eye-brows about live in relationship but I kinda found some of the sequences repetitive coupled with a lame climax. Sachin Jigar's sound tracks were good along with the vibrant visuals of Manu Anand.

Actually what made the film all the more enjoyable were the impressive performances of the three protagonists. After a praise worthy debut in "Kai Po Che", Sushant has rendered an impressive performance while Parineeti Chopra seems to be growing in stature with each passing movie & in due time might pose a threat to her famous cousin, Priyanka. Inspite of being a debutant, Vaani Kapoor has performed confidently & doesnt seem to be over-rawed by the camera. Just as wine gets better with time, so does Rishi Kapoor as he was fantastic as the wedding planner. 

Verdict: Thanks to the lively promos, the film will get an impressive opening & will thump "Zanjeer" at the box-office. I wont term it as ground breaking but it's definitely different & makes for an entertaining watch. So give it a try!!!

Rating: 3.25/5

Regards...Ben

Zanjeer review: "Audience will have to be zanjeered to make them watch!!!"

Remakes has been in vogue for quite some time now, be it from other languages or from the same language itself. Even this year, we have seen quite a few already gracing the screens be it "Himmatwala" or "Chashme Badhoor". The biggest challenge in doing remakes is when the original has been an iconic film which makes comparisons inevitable. The latest to go through this gruelling comparison is "Zanjeer", whose original launched Big B to stardom. So can the remake escape unscathed???

Since most of you guys would have watched Big B's "Zanjeer", I dont think there is any need for giving much of an outline as the basic premise here is pretty much the same. ACP Vijay Khanna (Ram Charan) is an upright cop who takes on the wrong doers with a vengeance which led him to be transferred once to many. His latest transfer took him from Hyderabad to Mumbai where he takes on the Oil Mafia headed by Teja (Prakash Raj). What subsequently follows is the decimation of Teja 's empire by Vijay with the help of his friend Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt), a reformed illegal car dealer & Jaydev (Atul Kulkarni), a journalist. 

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At times, I dont mind giving credit where it is deserved but Apoorva Lakhia deserves no such benefit as he had made an absolute mess of Salim-Javed's brilliant script. It was a tedious exercise sitting through this ordeal which was made all the more tiresome thanks to some uninspired acting. As for other aspects of the film, I cant think of anything which deserves a mention.

Among the various leading South Indian actors who has made their presence felt in Bollywood in the last few years be it Prithviraj, Dhanush or Suriya , I would count Ram Charan's performance as the least impressive. I wish he used his facial muscles atleast half as much as he flexes his biceps. Even Priyanka's act left a lot to be desired along with Mahie Gill who was pathetic though Prakash Raj was fine. But the worst among the lot by a fair distance was Sanjay Dutt, who seemed totally disinterested & appears like an insomniac.

Verdict: The aura of the original might attract a few to check out the remake, but apart from that there isnt going to be much takers. There is nothing in the movie which will attract the audience & in all probability will incur a huge loss for the makers. In short, check out the original if you havent watched it or else dont bother!!!

Rating: 1.5/5

Regards...Ben

Kalimannu review: "Not quite upto Blessy's standards!!!"

Blessy is always known to make movies which is close to the sensibilities of life & I have always been an ardent fan of his creations right from "Kaazcha" to "Pranayam". Unlike his previous films,  his latest venture "Kalimannu" has been courting trouble from some quarters for his alleged picturisation of Shweta Menon's real delivery for the film. Frankly speaking, I dont find anything wrong in it but the question I have is whether this is just for hype or will it be on par with other Blessy films???


Just like scores of other females in Mumbai, Meera (Shweta Menon), a club dancer also dreams of making it big in the silver screen. But her life gets topsy turved when she gets pregnant & her rich boy friend ditches her leading her into suicide. However, her attempt gets foiled by Shyam (Biju Menon), a cab driver who leads her back to life. Soon they get married & Meera starts realising her dreams of becoming a star. Little was she aware, that fate was going to inflict a deadly blow in the form of Shyam's death on the night of her movie premiere. How she picks up from there forms the crux of the movie.

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Blessy had proclaimed during the launch of the movie that this film is basically to highlight the relationship between the mother & her unborn child. From a personal point of view, I dont feel that he has quite achieved what he proclaimed as it seemed more like a preachy second half on woman rights though it does have some pretty impactful emotional scenes as well. As for the first half, it seemed very un-Blessy with items songs packed one after the other without imparting much significance. Jayachandran's music deserves praise for a decent sound track with the lullaby being the pick of the lot.

Shweta Menon has given a decent performance with a couple of touching scenes but it wasnt quite upto the standards that we know she is capable of.  As for the rest, both Biju Menon & Suhasini have done their roles aptly.

Verdict: It's almost close to a month since "Kalimaanu" has released & seems to have acquired a decent collection. As far as my opinion goes, I would rate this as one of Blessy's weakest films to date but still it's worth a watch especially from right before interval until her delivery!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben




Monday, September 2, 2013

Artist review: "Eccentric & complex but deserves to be applauded"!!!

If I had to choose among the present crop of directors who has quite an audience in film festivals both within & outside our nation, then I would have to take the name of Shyamaprasad. Though I have to admit, I am not a hard core fan of his films coz I do find it quite dragging at times but there is no denying the fact that the topics that he discusses are quite varied unlike the normal cliches. The latest to hit the screens from his stable is "Artist". Wonder what he has cooked this time around???


The films unfolds with Gayathri (Ann Augustine) requesting her gifted yet eccentric artist & live in partner Michael Agnelo (Fahad Fasil) to attend a meeting regarding his job in an art firm. But this meeting never takes place as Michael fails to honour his appointment & meets with an accident which renders him blind. Gayathri was barely out of her teens & pursing Fine Arts when she falls for her charismatic senior in college, Micheal. Being the free spirit & eccentric nature that he is, Micheal preferred having a no holds barred relation with Gayathri which eventually led to them dropping out of college & living together much to the dismay of her Brahmin parents. However, tough times lay ahead for her as Micheal was self centric & aloof of the hardships that she was going through to ensure that his painting proceeded without fail. So how was she going to cope with his insensitive nature which became all the more difficult after his accident???

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Since both Shyamaprasad & Fahad Fasil are returning from disasters like "English" & "Olipporu" respectively, I was kinda circumspect as to how their present venture will pan out. However, after watching this I do have to admit I was pleasantly surprised as it was much pacier than other Shyamaprasad films. Based on Paritosh Uttam's novel "Dreams in Prussian Blue", the script seemed quite engaging albeit a tame climax. The character sketch was the strong point of the film & Shyamaprasad has done an impressive job with that. Bijibal's music was average while Shamdath's visuals seemed fine.

Fahad Fasil was absolutely brilliant as the eccentric & self centred artist, re-iterating that he is indeed one of the best in the industry. Thanks to the strong character of Gayathri, Ann Augustine finally got a chance to exhibit her acting skills & she has done justice to a large extent. There are quite a couple of scenes where she was fantastic while at times, she bordered on being average. In addition, Sreeram Ramchandran as Tony also deserves praise on a job well done.

Verdict: It is unlikely to have a rollicking run at the theatres as it is bound to be unpalatable for quite a few. However, personally speaking I found it much more engaging & pacier than usual Shyamaprasad offerings, not to forget the brilliant performance of Fahad. In short, do give it a try!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben