Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nagara Varidhi Naduvil Njan review: "Socially relevant theme gets hampered by a lackadaisical screenplay!!!"

About 24 hours left before we enter into the New Year & along with it lies the hope that it would turn out to be a wonderful year for each one of us in all aspects be it career, family life etc. The Malayalam film industry would also be praying for a much better year as flops galored at will. Incidentally this X'mas season has been one of the most disappointing in recent years for movie lovers as films were far & few and none of them captivated the audience also. Even Sreenivasan's latest failed to impress, hmm... well you must be wondering why???


Venu (Sreenivasan) was a Gulf expatriate who struggles to make his ends meet & takes up the job of a security at an upscale residential area. For Venu & his wife, Sunitha (Sangeetha); their daughter was the apple of their eye who relentlessly toiled hard to crack the Medical entrance. Both of them feared for their daughter welfare in case she failed to achieve her dream & that's exactly what had happened. The only solution that Venu could possibly think of was to acquire a management seat by selling off his minuscule plot which he had purchased about a decade back. Much to his dismay, he finds that it has turned into a dumping yard for the residents in that locality. He knew that he cant strike a reasonable deal for that stinky pit, but how could he clear that mess???

Yet another debutant director as entered into the industry in the form of Shibu Balan who had also penned the script as well. There is no doubt that he has chosen a socially relevant theme & with a maestro like Sreenivasan weaving the screenplay, it's bound to be a recipe for success. Unfortunately, the truth was far from that as the main thread gets virtually lost in the potpourri of irrelevant sequences in the latter half. Sreenivasan's witty yet factual dialogues which has been the hallmark of many of his yester year hits failed to impart the desired effect at many situations. As for the technical aspects,none of them deserves a special mention be it the visuals, music etc.

Of late, Sreenivasan choice of films has been mediocre to say the least & even his performances has been less than impressive. More often than not, he gives me the impression that he struggles to emote in a natural manner. Sangeeta didnt have much to do & does no harm to her credentials. As for the rest of the cast, Lal, Manoj K Jayan, Innocent etc., they were average at best.

Verdict: There is no doubt that the combination of Sreenivasan & Sangeeta would have created hope among the masses that it would rekindle the magic of "Chintavishtayaya Shyamala". But this is a script which is far inferior to that & moreover it doesn't explore the dynamics between the duo. As for the movie, it would have been a much enjoyable fare if more attention was paid to the screenplay. In short, it sums up a rather bleak Xmas for movie lovers!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PK review: "Aamir & Hirani creates yet another memorable movie!!!"

Bollywood stars are known for their preference for certain festivals for the release of their movies be it Id, Diwali etc. Among the Khans, Aamir has always had a predilection for X'mas which has seen many of his releases in the recent past such as "3 Idiots" & "Dhoom 3". The latest to join that list is Rajkumar Hirani's "PK" whose films apart from being clean entertainers has always been blockbusters. So naturally there's a palpable amount of hype & expectations over "PK" but will it be able to match the the benchmark they had set in "3 Idiots"???


An alien (Aamir Khan) had landed on Earth or rather more specifically in the dust bowls of Rajasthan in his birthsuit. But even before he gets accustomed to the bearings around him, he is robbed of his pendant which happened to be the transmitter to signal his spaceship. In due time, he becomes to be known as PK (as people thought he was tipsy), learns to converse through the use of his super-natural powers & befriends Bhairon Singh (Sanjay Dutt), a band master who helps him to adjust to his new environment.On the advise of Bhairon, PK lands in New Delhi in search of his pendant & that's when he catches the eye of Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), a TV reporter who promises to help him out. So will PK get his pendant back & if so, at what cost???


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Almost 5 years have passed since Rajkumar Hirani had made his presence felt, but the wait was definitely worth it as he has come back with a bang. All of his movies have been satires that dealt with insecurities & adversities that people face in their lives either due to corruption, educational pressure etc . The same holds true here as well as this time around he has taken on the fake godmen that swarm our society. Though Paresh Rawal's "Oh My God" had a similar storyline & felt more impressional, "PK" too has its moments in its own way especially in the first half which really hooks us on; for which the screenplay by Abhijit Joshi & Hirani deserves praise. The music by the trio of Ajay Atul, Shantanu Moitra & Ankit Tiwari was impressive while the visuals by Muraleedharan was fine.

Aamir Khan is the heart & soul of the movie and he was bang on in the portrayal of the character. His peculiar looks, weird attire & queer running style all added on to his performance making it undoubtedly one of the best characters that he has ever portrayed. Anushka Sharma was equally impressive & makes her presence felt with a meaty role at her disposal. Boman Irani was wasted, Sanjay Dutt was endearing while Saurabh Shukla & Sushanth Singh have done justice to their roles. As for Ranbir Kapoor, he brought the roof down with a cameo. 

Verdict: The film is expected to do brisk business at the box office considering the team that was behind the venture. In addition, the film has also lived upto Hirani's USP by being both humorous yet introspective to the vices around us. Though the second half especially the climax lacked the expected punch it's definitely one of the best movies to have released this year, so dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Aamayum Muyalum review: "Fails to rekindle the Priyan magic but still watchable!!!"

After having endured the torturous "Cousins", my hopes were now on Priyadarshan's "Aamayum Muyalum" to herald the holiday season with some good unadulterated humour. From the trailer itself, it was pretty much evident that this was the remake of his own "Maalamaal Weekly" which I had really enjoyed. With a much talented cast at his disposal, I presume this would be better...but will it still endear to the audience who had watched the "so-called original"???


Since many of my friends would be familiar with "Maalamaal Weekly", I don't feel that a detailed account of the storyline is warranted. However, for the benefit of others; this is a tale which happens in the fictional village of "Gowlipady" located somewhere along the border of Karnataka & Kerala. Most of the villagers were farmers which meant their livelihood depended on the unpredictable monsoons inevitably forcing them to pledge their belongings to the rich & inconsiderate land lady, Bhandaravathi (Sukanya). Things take a turn in this poverty ridden village when Kashi (Nedumudi Venu), the lottery ticket seller learns that one of his clients had won the jackpot of 5 crores. Greed creeps into his mind & he schemes a plan to usurp the winning ticket. But things weren't as easy as he had hoped.

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More than a year has passed since Priyadarshan's previous venture "Geethanjali" had hit the screens & failed to create ripples at the box office. As most of us are aware, most of his movies are rip offs from either Hollywood, Bollywood or Malayalam; the latter dependent as to into which language he is making the movie. As in "Maalamaal Weekly" (in turn a copy of "Waking Ned"), the histrionics does evoke laughs at quite a number of junctures. However, the length of the movie takes a toll on the audience as it lags considerably in the second half which Ayyapan Nair should have taken care of. As for other technical aspects, M. G Sreekumar's music was average while the BGM though fine was severely restricted which would have otherwise made the movie much more engaging.

Though promoted as a Jayasurya movie, he is actually one among the lot & delivers an average performance in the limited screen space provided to him. The same hold true for his female lead, Piaa Bajpai as well. In fact, Nedumudi Venu & Innocent are the lead protagonists and both of them have done a commendable job though I would have to admit I preferred Paresh Rawal's performance over Nedumudi. The same goes for Harisree Ashokan as well who didn't quite match upto the performance essayed by Rajpal Yadav. As for the rest of the cast, all of them have given a far better performance than the cast in "Maalamaal Weekly" be it KPAC Lalitha, Nandhu, Sukanya (reminded me of Sukumari in "Thenmavin Kombathu") Mammukoya & Anoop Menon.

Verdict: The film will definitely bank on the lack of biggies at the box-office & though it wont have an initial as humongous as a Lal-Priyan combo , it should still have the producer smiling. It is fair to state that it is a far cry from the Priyan films of yester years but still it has something about it to make us laugh at times. In short, wont hurt to give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cousins review: "Yawn yourself to glory!!!"

Finally the first set of Malayalam X'mas releases has hit the screens in the form of "Aamayum Muyalum" & "Cousins", which thankfully had a simultaneous release in Bangalore as well. As the latter was screened at a feasible time, I decided to check that out though I was kinda apprehensive about Chackochan's choice of movies of late. Little did I realize as to what kind of ordeal I was getting myself into.
 

About six years had passed since Sam (Chackochan) had recovered from his fatal head injury & things seemed normal until he proclaimed that he was in love with Ann (Miya) at the altar. On medical examination, it becomes evident that Sam was a victim of a variant of anterograde amnesia. This explained the reason why he mentioned Ann's name, his school sweetheart, though that relation had been over years back. At the behest of the doctor, Sam's cousins Joji (Indrajith), Pauly (Suraj Venjaramood) & Tony (Joju) embarks on a trip to Sam's college, with the hope that this would relieve him of his condition & a possible answer as to what had caused this injury in the first place.

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Vysakh is known for his masala entertainers, be it "Pokkiri Raja" or "Sound Thoma", which has always scored big with the audience. However, the person whose scripting skills he had banked on this time around was Sethu whose track record was nothing to boast about. Frankly speaking, I dont have a clue as to what Vysakh was smoking, as the script was mediocre to say the least. The first half barely had anything (you can easily miss out on this & still it wont affect the "so called" continuity), while the second half didnt inspire much as well apart from a couple of sparse chuckles (which surprisingly was also copied at times) & frequent groans. 

The only aspect that caught my eye were the sets & vibrancy extended to each of the frames which has been proficiently handled by Joseph Nellickal & Shaji respectively. I was stumped to learn that M. Jayachandran had done the music as it was below average except for "Neeyen Vennila" while Gopi Sundar seemed too lazy or judged correctly that this film doesnt deserve his talent as he just dished out BGMs from other movies. Now coming to the cast, Chackochan & Indrajith did what was required but the former needs to give some serious thought into the choices that he makes. Suraj seemed a misfit among the cousins while Joju was wasted. As for the rest, none of them deserves a mention. 

Verdict: Prior to release, "Cousins" had generated interest as it showcased the costliest song ever shot in Malayalam. Hmm... either the producer has gone nuts or he has loads of cash to bust. Whatever might be, I dont expect the movie to survive beyond this weekend unless they are damn lucky. In short, don't even bother to watch on TV!!!

Rating: 1/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lingaa review: "Rajini rocks as usual but the lack-lustered script dampens the experience !!!"

Christmas is still a fortnight away, but the release of superstar Rajini's "Lingaa" meant that the celebrations at the box office got off to a roaring start from now itself. It's been about 4 years since "Endhiran" had hit the screens & though "Kochadaiiyaan" hogged the headlines for a brief period, that couldn't quite match upto the Thalaiva in flesh & blood. So will his latest release satiate the expectations of millions of his fans like me not to mention it's his first film on his birthday???


Solayur's dam has been in the public eye with reports surfacing in the media that questions were raised regarding the stability of the structure. On the behest of the court, a team of experts inspects the dam & comes to the conclusion that all the fears about the dam's stability were misplaced. However, the chief engineer gets murdered on the orders of the MP Nagabooshan (Jagapati Babu) who had some vested interests; but it was not before the former informs the village head (K. Viswanath) that the dam could be saved only by reopening the temple located adjacent to it. Both the dam & the temple was built by Raja Lingeshwaran (Rajinikanth) about 70 years back and as per the village head, the temple should be reopened by someone who belonged to the lineage of the Raja. The village head's grand-daughter Lakshmi (Anushka Shetty) takes up the search which eventually leads her to the Raja's grandson, Lingaa (Rajinikanth); a petty thief who detested even the name of his grandfather being mentioned. So what actually coaxes Lingaa to go to Solayur & how he thwarts the MP's plans forms the crux of the movie.

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K.S Ravikumar is one who needs no introduction as he had helmed some of the biggest blockbusters of the Tamil film industry like "Muthu", "Padayappa", "Dasavatharam" etc.  For his latest venture, Ravikumar employed the services of Cheyyar Arun & Pon Kumaran to provide him with a compelling tale which would have the fans asking for more. Well the script focuses on two periods, the present & the late 1930s with the latter period being the only one which makes the viewing experience worthwhile. The first half was more or less lack-lustered with the present day, Rajini's intro which is usually the highlight being pretty lame. However, the moment the pre-independence period kicks in...the film does utmost justice to Rajini's style with a bombastic intro & punch dialogues. Once that portion concludes in the latter half, it culminates in a lackadaisical & nonsensical climax with an outrageous stunt sequence which makes us cringe & laugh at the same time.


One of the major drawbacks of "Lingaa"is the length of the movie which runs close to 3 hours as there are numerous instances where Samjith could have effectively used his editing skills. Both Ratnavelu & Sabu Cyril have done a fantastic job with the visuals and art direction respectively, of the pre-independence era. I was however surprised with A.R Rahman's music as it bordered from mediocre to average at best with the track voiced by him being the best among the lot. The make-up & styling crew also deserves praise for making Rajini look both stylish & not an age beyond the 40s.

Rajini once again delivers a brilliant performance in his own inimitable style with his nonchalant attitude, dialogue delivery & as expected he wins over the audience hands down. Sonakshi Sinha didn't seem odd being paired with the superstar & she has done a decent job for sure. Anushka Shetty barely had much to do except for jive to a couple of songs. Santhanam does manage to crack up a couple of hilarious one-liners while the rest of the cast like K Vishwanath, Radha Ravi, Vijaykumar did their parts aptly. Both the villains of the different eras be it Jagapathi Babu or the English actor barely had the screen space or the impact that would have been expected especially when standing up to Rajini.

Verdict: Rajini films rarely fails to make an impression at the box-office & this is definitely not one of them. With a release in close to 6000 screens, it will be a blockbuster for sure but will it break the records of "Endhiran"...very much possible but I wont be surprised if it doesnt. There is no doubt it would cater to the fans & even for others as well, the pre-independence era will definitely be engrossing. However, how did Raja Lingeshwara read Joseph Campbell's "The Man with a Thousand faces" in 1939, when the book was published only in 1949...I guess only Rajini can read a book even before it is conceived !!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Iyobinte Pusthakam review: "Brilliance in technicality backed by a compelling tale!!!"

Along with "Varsham", another film that had graced the screens of Bangalore was "Iyobinte Pusthakam" which had made people sit up with its classy trailer & catchy posters. Frankly speaking, I was kinda circumspect when I realised that it was Amal Neerad who was calling the shots. Well he was only to blame as his films oozed style but lacked substance. But with Fahad Fazil pitching in money with the former, it instilled hope that this could be a whole different experience or was it ???


The film unfolds in the era when the nation has been gripped by the declaration of Emergency, at which point a comrade (T.G Ravi) decides to pen down the turmoil that Munnar had experienced in the pre-Independence period. The tale begins from the time a British tea planter, Harrison (Sal Yusuf) set eyes on his slave who he rechristens as Iyob (Lal) & makes him his aid. After Harrison's estranged wife returns to Britain, he gets enticed by Kazhali (Lena), who was rumored to be a sorceress. In the meantime, Iyob gets married to Annamma (Reenu Mathews) & takes over the reins of Harrison's empire by force, though the latter had it in his will that it should be handed over to Kazhali & their daughter, Martha (Isha Sharwani). Iyob's reign of terror further entrenched the hills as his elder sons proved to be the incarnation of evil which was despised by his youngest son, Aloshy (Fahad Fasil) who flees from his household & joins the British Royal Navy. Years later, Aloshy returns to his home only to learn that his fathers & brothers has transgressed all limits of humanity. Will Aloshy flee yet again or will he have the guts to stand his ground against his own blood ???

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Amal Neerad's films has never been devoid of technical brilliance & it's pretty much the same scenario here as well, as the frames looks absolutely fantastic. Gopan Chidambaram's story might not blow your socks off but the screenplay that he has weaved along with Syam Pushkaran will surely do. All the characters has been well etched with each one having a credible role in the script & that's exactly the reason why we get totally immersed into this tale of deceit & lust. If at all, I have been irked with something then it has to be the positioning of the songs which disturbs the tempo of the movie. However, Neha Nair & Yakzan Gary deserves praise for their BGM & music which was soothing to the ears. The art department also deserves a pat on their back.

It's difficult to say as to who was the best among the lot, as each one has done utmost justice to their role. However, the ever improving Jayasurya is the one who wins my vote for his superlative portrayal of the antagonist, Rawther. Fahad Fazil was fantastic as always along with Lal & Vinayakan, while there couldnt have been a better choice than Chemban Vinod & Jinu Joseph, as Iyob's sons. Among the female leads, I was initially surprised why Padmapriya had chosen this role as she barely had dialogues but I was made to eat my words as she showcased her caliber as the movie progressed. The rest of the cast seemed fine, be it Lena, Isha etc., while Amala Paul's item number seemed out of place.

Verdict:  If Amal Neerad keeps up the good work with a credible script each time, then I believe he has what it takes to last the distance. It's definitely one of the best movies that I had watched this year as the cast & crew has pretty much aced it. In short, make sure you dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4.5/5

Regards...Ben


Monday, November 10, 2014

Varsham review: "Mammookka at his best in this tear jerker!!!"

Diwali season is the time when Hindi & Tamil movies rule the roost due to which the last couple of weeks has been quite silent at the box-office as far as Malayalam films were concerned (except for "Vellimoonga" which I unfortunately missed out). Though I had watched "Happy New Year" & "Bang Bang", it was so mediocre that I didn't feel like writing review for it. However, this week we have Mammookka's "Varsham" hitting the screens & since it is helmed by Ranjith Shankar, I naturally have high hopes pinned on it.


Venugopal (Mammookka) is a successful private financier for whom the Gandhian notes had much more significance than virtues like compassion or empathy. For Venu & his wife, Nandhini (Asha Sarath) their whole world revolved around their son, Anand (Prajwal Prasad), who was the apple of their eyes. In today's world of cut-throat competition, both Venu & Nandhini were fierce competitors for whom their son was the means through whom they expected to accomplish their hopes & ambitions. But fate takes a cruel swipe at them, as their son's life was cut short; leaving Venu shattered. Though Nandhini makes an effort to come to terms with their loss, Venu was neither consolable nor had the will to think ahead. What ultimately causes a change in Venu's attitude towards life & how that in turn proves to be a blessing for many others forms the crux of the movie.

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Right from the time Ranjith Shankar burst into the scene with "Passenger", I have been a fan of his movies as it always dealt with individuals & scenarios that we have either experienced or accustomed to. In "Varsham", he gives us a peek into the pressures that parents burden their children with invariably to satisfy their whims & fancies. Ranjith also makes a fleeting mention about the blade mafia, though that lacked fizz towards the climax. The first half gives us a glimpse of the self centred life of Venu while the latter half depicts as to how he tries to pick up the pieces of his life after his son's demise. The emotional scenes are just fantastic, as it well & truly tugs at our heart chords. Bijibal has done a credible job with the music & BGM while Manoj's frames were fine.

What do I say about Mammookka...he is a maestro when it comes to emotional drama & he has excelled at it yet again. The legend has the ability to make us feel the character's pain & you cant help it as our eyes does well up at times. Asha Sarath has done a fine job as Nandhini along with Mamtha Mohandas who makes her presence felt after a hiatus. Prajwal Prasad was convincing while Sunil Sukhada, Sudheer Karamana & Hareesh Peradi did their parts aptly. However, I felt T.G Ravi's character lacked the menace that it required.

Verdict: The film will definitely have an impressive initial thanks to the wide release & credentials of the cast and crew. It is not one with a whole lot of twists & turns, but rather one which makes us realise as to how fickle life is and that many of us happen to be cut from the same cloth. I dont have any qualms in admitting that my eyes did moisten in some of the sequences & I do feel that you guys got to definitely check it out especially for Mammookka's performance!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Njaan review: "Laboured pace & philosophical discourses render it unpalatable at times!!!"

The Malayalam film industry over the years has produced master craftsmen & I can say with absolute conviction that we have been privileged to see the creations of these geniuses. Among the ones who are still active in their craft, the ones whom I admire the most are Renjith & Blessy. The former has been a revelation since "Thirakkatha" & with each venture he ensured that the expectations were fully justified. Though his "Kadal Kadannoru Mathukutty" was a blip, I am sure that his latest venture "Njan" would make up for it. So did it???


Ravi Chandrasekharan (Dulquer Salman) is an avid blogger known by the pseudonym Kottoor, who is inspired to unravel the mystery behind KTN Kottoor, a pre Independent era poet & activist. His search for KTN or Narayanan Nair's history, takes him to the latter's ancestral home in Kottoor. As his research progressed, Ravi realizes the travails & hardships that KTN had to face due to traditions and political ideologies. The film takes us through all the events in KTN's life & makes us wonder how he was left hard done by the happenings around him. 

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When Renjith had announced his project "Njan", the first thing that fascinated me that it was based on a novel "KTN Kottor: Ezhuthum Jeevithavum" by T.P Rajeevan. Though I havent read his novels, Renjith had adapted "Paleri Manickyam", which I absolutely loved from Rajeevan's novel by the same name. So I was sure that his creation wont be mediocre by any stretch of imagination. Speaking about the movie as a whole, it is pretty engaging for large parts but did take a toll on me especially when the pace meanders at certain sequences coupled with some theatrical discourses. It could have been the lack of knowledge on my part, but then Renjith had already proved with "Paleri Manickyam" it could be done otherwise as well. 

Another major highlight of the movie is the technical brilliance, be it Santhosh Raman's art direction & S.B Satheesh's costumes which did absolute justice to the era. Bijibal's music was in sync with the mood of the film while the lyrics by Rafique Ahmed were pretty much like poetic rendition.

Dulquer Salman should consider myself lucky to have got such a meaty role so early in his career. To a large extent, he has done an impressive job of which he can be proud of. However, did he justify Renjith's choice...well I am not quite sure nor can I can question the maestro, but I kinda felt the protagonist showcases a myriad of feelings, turmoils & eccentricities which Dulquer fails to convey at times. All the female leads had substantial roles & each of them has performed brilliantly be it Muthumani (who I personally feel aced it), Sajitha Madathil, Anumol & Jyothi Krishna. As for the rest of the cast, Renji Panicker, Suresh Krishna & Harish Pirady were fantastic in their respective roles while the others have done their parts aptly.

Verdict: Well the trailer more or less imparts the feeling of a parallel or art film, which might be a turn off for many. From a personal point of view, it's engaging & pretty well made as you can see the efforts that has gone into the making of it. In short, if you dont mind watching something stark & realistic of yester years give it a try!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rajadhiraja review: "Tamil style potpourri prepared for the fans!!!"

During the time, I was in my hometown last week...the one thing which had caught my attention was that "Munnariyippu" was still being screened. It was definitely a welcome sign as there were a number of Onam releases apart from the fact that very few movies makes it past 2 weeks & also Mammookka's films hasn't been doing so great in the recent past. Anywaz this Onam season, Mammookka also had a release in the form of "Rajadhiraja" which is packaged as a typical mass masala. The tag line of the film is "The King is Back", well the question is whether he is actually back or will it goof up the good work done in "Munnariyippu"???


Shekharankutty (Mammookka) is a serene and amicable individual who made a living with a petrol pump & a modest hotel. His family consisted of his beautiful wife, Radha (Lakshmi Rai) & daughter, who meant the world to him. Life moved along harmoniously, until Radha's cousin Ayappan (Joju) turns up at their doorstep. Ayyapan's nature to get involved in all kind of tiffs, starts creating cracks in Shekharan's blissful abode & leads the latter to some unforeseen predicaments.So was it solely due to Ayyapan's follies or did Shekharan's past also got to do with the turn of events???

Mammookka is always known to have encouraged new talent & this time around, it's Ajai Vasudev's turn. The debutant must have been thrilled to have got the legend's date, but that seems to be the only thing he has done in this film. I fail to understand why he chose to go along with such a stereotyped script which we have already seen in different variants. I believe Udaykrishna-Siby K Thomas barely gave much thought to their creation as it was as predictable as the potholes in Kochi. To be fair on their part, the first half was fine with emphasis on Mammootty's family & Joju providing the humour element but the latter half was down right boring. As a matter of fact, it seemed like a toned down and modified version of "Baasha". 

On the technical side, Shaji's visuals seemed average while Mahesh Narayanan ought to have done a much better job as the second half was too damn long. Gopi Sundar has done a decent job with the BGM but the music was pretty much mediocre except for "Midu Midukan".

This should have been nothing more than a cakewalk for a legend like Mammootty, so there's nothing much to be said about him. Joju rocked with his humour in the first half & made his presence felt alongside the legend. As for the rest of the cast, there isnt much to talk about as the Bollywood actors barely had much to do apart from flare their nostrils & get bashed up by Mammookka.

Verdict: It's made with the sole intention of raking in the moolah this Onam by satiating all the whims & fancy of the fans and from what I have seen it succeeds on that front. The film does work for me in the first half but post-interval it's pretty much like watching a Tamil/Telugu movie. In short, if you like Uday-Siby kind of mass movies give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sapthamashree Thaskaraha review: "Double jollity for Prithviraj!!!"

Ever since the possible Onam releases were announced a couple of months back, the one that I was most eagerly looking forward to was Prithvi's "Sapthamashree Thaskaraha". There is no doubt that the "Peruchazhi" team had taken over the screens by storm thanks to their impressive marketing strategy coupled with a hilarious first half. However, the recent track record of Prithvi have been nothing short of imposing & with his August Cinemas producing this venture , naturally the expectations have sky rocketed. So did it live upto expectations???


As the unique title indicates (a rather clever title, as it generated a considerable amount of curiosity), it is the tale of seven convicts with diverse backgrounds who join hands with the intention of pulling off a heist. The film unfolds with Martin (Chemban Vinod) narrating the story as a confession to the priest (Lijo John Pallissery). Martin shared the cell with the other six in-mates & as they shared their stories it becomes evident that more than a couple of them held a grudge against Pious (Joy Mathew), a corrupt politician who built his empire with illegitimate wealth. Noble (Nedumudi Venu), a former esteemed businessman & a victim of Pious's treachery, sought the others help for revenge & it didn't require much coaxing as the fruits of their labour were more than what they can ever imagine. So how does this seven pull off the rug from right under Pious's nose???

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After the critically & commercially viable "North 24 Kaatham", which even garnered a National Award; Anil Radhakrishnan Menon is back with his latest venture which promised to be bigger & better. Just as in his previous venture, the major highlight is undoubtedly the unique manner in which the events unravel. The background profile that has been given to each character made it interesting & even the heist though not quite hi-tech (no point in making it appear as a lame Westernised version), had the audience hooked to the sequences. Though the climax was good, I kinda felt a bit more clarity was required as it seemed half baked. Both Jayesh Nair & Sushin Shyam has done a commendable job with the visuals & BGM respectively; while Rex Vijayan's music was average. As for Manoj Kannoth, he ensured that he made use of his scissors to good effect without taking a toll on the audience.

Another major highlight of this film was the cast which had an odd mix yet an apt choice of artists who did absolute justice to their roles. The pick among the lot was definitely Chemban Vinod who had the best lines & had the audience in splits. Equally impressive was Neeraj Madhav (as Narayanankutty) who stands out with his endearing act. Sudheer Karamana (as Leaf Vasu) was hilarious with his half crack nature. Asif Ali is the one who gets a grand intro in the movie & even gets to make use of his fists, but I felt his character wasn't as well etched as the others. As always, Nedumudi Venu rocked in his role while Joy Mathew & Co. did their roles satisfactorily not to forget the contribution of Lijo John. Among the female leads, Reenu Mathews didn't have much to do while Sanusha did justice to her part.

Last but not the least, Prithviraj...who deserves all the accolades coming his way. It might have been marketed as a Prithviraj film but when we actually see it, we realise he was just one among the seven. He barely gets to mouth dialogues in the first half but comes to the fore towards the latter half before culminating the show with his "Tamaar Padaar" look.

Verdict: Seems like Prithviraj is on the cusp of happiness, as he has been blessed with a daughter & his eye for good scripts will have him laughing to the bank. I feel there isn't much to be said apart from just one thing it's the best Onam release of 2014. So what are you waiting for...grab your tickets asap!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben

















Friday, September 12, 2014

Villali Veeran review: "Typical Dileep festival masala!!!"

After the mediocre "Bhaiyya Bhaiyya", the next film that I got to check out was Dileep's "Villali Veeran". Though the popular phrase goes "never judge a book by its cover"; it's kinda hard not to do so when it comes to Dileep's celluloid histrionics primarily because he keeps repeating the same act. Even the title didn't inspire much expectation, but I hoped it might be better than the similarly titled "Sringaravelan". So will his latest effort be any different???


Siddharthan (Dileep) is a vegetable vendor who struggled to make his ends meet with a large family to provide for. In his plight for some quick bucks, he masquerades as Arun K Menon at the behest of the marriage broker, Damodarji (Nedumudi Venu). However, his reluctance to cheat along with the fact that the "would be" bride happened to be Narmada (Namitha Pramod) with whom he had shared a couple of frivolous situations ensured that Damodar's plan didn't quite pan out as hoped. Though her folks were keen to have Siddharthan booked, little did they realise that he was a classic case of riches to rags...but what had actually caused him to be reduced to such a penurious state???

Another debutant makes his entry into the industry in the form of Sudheesh Shankar, however his direction doesn't inspire much. Well he cant be totally blamed as well, since Dinesh Palliath's script was lame to say the least as it was clichéd stuff the whole way through. Apart from the mock drill scenes, the humour content were far & few while the whole revenge saga seemed to be a rehash of previous Dileep movies. The audience is also made to sit through the tedious second half as the editor seemed to have slipped into a slumber (quite understandably)...making it to have a cumulative length of close to 3 hours. As for Anil Nair's visuals there wasn't much to write home about while S. Rajkumar's music was average at best. The BGM was kinda jarring while the music seemed more like a poor lift off from our neighbours in addition to being misplaced.

Well Dileep has once again done what he is good at & that is dish out some slap stick comedy for every festival. I think he barely paid attention to the script coz it's the same old stuff but anywaz he has pulled off his role in the best way possible. Namitha Pramod does lighten up the frame when she comes on screen while Mythili struggles to emote inspite of a small yet credible role. As for the rest of the cast, it's the same old Dileep bandwagon troupe...Kalabhavan Shajon, Siddique, Nedumudi Venu, Riyaz Khan etc.

Verdict: So what actually makes Dileep's mediocre stuff work??? Well no prizes for guessing...it's the family audience & from the response, that I witnessed at the theatre; I feel we have not seen the last of his clichéd comedy. In all probability, it will be a profitable venture & understandably so, as it's much better than hits like "Mr. Marumakan" or "Sringaravelan". But will I suggest it??? hmm...definitely not!!!

Rating: 1.25/5

Regards...Ben




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bhaiyya Bhaiyya review: "Even the dynamic duo cant keep us engaged for long!!!"

Yet another awesome Onam has come to a close & though the rains threatened to create havoc, thankfully it stayed away from our part of the land. Since I had come down to my hometown for just a week, it was a pretty much jam packed schedule with cousin's wedding, family get togethers etc. etc., all lined up one after the other. Anywaz in between all this I did manage to check out the Onam releases & the first one which I got to watch was "Bhaiyya Bhaiyya". So did the Chackochan-Biju Menon magic work again???
The film begins with Babumon (Chackochan) on a journey to Bengal with the mortal remains of one of his immigrant labourers. Accompanying him were a host of individuals with the primary among them being his brother Babulal Chatterjee (Biju Menon). Though they didn't belong to the same kin they shared a bond as firm as any brothers would have, ever since Babulal was first brought to Babumon's house by the latter's father. The events that led them to this journey forms the crux of this story.

It's been a couple of years since Johny Antony had made his presence felt with his last release being "Thappana". This time around he has befriended Benny P Nayarambalam hoping to recreate the laughter riots that the latter had scripted be it "Marykkundoru Kunjaadu" "Sound Thoma" etc. Though Benny had chosen the topic of immigrant labourers which haven't been explored much, he fails to make much headway as the basic fabric of the film was barely existent. It resembled as if they were counting on Chackochan & Biju Menon to conjure up some miracle...which wasn't possible as the script didnt offer them much of a scope. Apart from a few sporadic laughs, the film falls flat as it seemed more like an impromptu script. As for the technical aspects, none of it quite appealed to my senses.

If at all this film works occasionally, it's primarily due to the lead pair as Biju Menon does manage to evoke laughs with his queer dialogue delivery while Chackochan compliments his act effectively. Both the female leads barely had much to do & even their acting was quite upto scratch especially that of Nisha Aggrawal. As for the rest of the cast, Shammi Thilakan, Tesni Khan, Vijayaraghavan, Suraj etc., did their parts aptly.

Verdict: Competing with the other biggies, this film doesn't stand much of a chance with their marketing being quite poor as it barely captured eyeballs while the trailer neither seemed interesting nor funny. If at all they get some audience, it's solely because of those people who didn't get the tickets for the other films (which happened in my case). In short, wont hurt to give it a miss!!!

Rating: 1.25/5

Regards...Ben

Friday, August 29, 2014

Peruchazhi review: "Specially for Lalettan fans, but even they might struggle at times!!!"

Just a week more for Onam before our state gets decked up for family reunions & lip smacking Onasadya. So in such a festive mood, how can our film industry be behind; after all it's one of those times of the year where houseful boards becomes a common feature. Like every year, this year too we have a host of films lined up with Lalettan's "Peruchazhi" being the first one off the blocks. The promos promises it to be a laugh riot but will it actually make the people laugh so hard that their sides ache or groan at the idiocy ???


The State of California was going into elections & the early predictions indicated that the Republican candidate, John Kory didnt stand much of a chance who vents out his frustrations on Sunny Kurishingal (Vijay Babu), his campaign manager. In order to arrest Kory's nosediving popularity, he seeks the help of his friend & PWD Minister, Francis Kunjappan (Mukesh). This is when Francis suggests the name of Jagannathan (Lalettan), who had helped him in numerous political turmoils, though his ulterior aim was to get Jagannathan into trouble. Now Jagannathan apart from being a street smart political playmaker was a sports lover & nursed dreams to open up a sports academy in due time. Since the California assignment promised to be an insane amount of money in exchange for Jagannathan's services, he takes up the challenge & sets course to the US with his two aides. So how he manages to manipulate the American political machinery forms the crux of the movie.

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Being the festive season, Arun Vaidyanathan has planned his debut venture in such a manner that it takes full use of Lalettan's brand value. Since the film starts with the message requesting people to keep their logic at home, I am definitely not going to question Arun's wafer thin plot & the manner in which the protagonist goes about executing it. It is packaged as a political satire & does have genuine humourous sequences in the first half. But the major flaw of this movie is that it totally depends on Lalettan's yesteryear blockbusters to garner the audience's applause. I found it quite enjoyable for some time, but after a point it kinda got boring. The second half was depressing as it lagged quite a bit before eventually culminating in a damp climax. 

As for other technical aspects, Arora's music was mediocre & the VFX at the end was pathetic considering the amount of money they had invested. However, the visuals were rich & colorful for which Aravind Krishna needs to be commended.

Lalettan is the heart & soul of the movie as it is nothing more than an extravagant advertisement of "Brand Lalettan" with numerous spoofs being witness to that. He has done complete justice to the role & the look that he had used in this movie was damn good. Baburaj does score at numerous instances while Aju Varghese makes his presence felt in the Mission Impossible spoof. Vijay Babu was average while the Badai Bunglow duo, Mukesh & Ramesh Pisharody was fine. The female lead played by Ragini Nandwani had a beautiful face but seemed a misfit. 

Verdict: There is no doubt that the film will garner a humongous initial considering the number of release centers both in India & abroad. A significant portion of the first half will have the audience in splits, but repeated cliches dulls the experience. In short, for a film that states to keep our logic at home I expected an outright laugh riot which it fails to provide. Anywaz it wont hurt to give a try!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Munnariyippu review: "Climax does make sense of the title!!!"

It's been about a week since "Munnariyippu" had hit the screens but since I have been strapped for time, I wasn't able to pen down my thoughts about it. I am sure most of you would have heard by now that it's fantastic & quite distinct from the manner it has been treated as opposed to the ones that are being dished out. It's unique for sure but did it work for me...hmm, well not as much. So why was the experience not so awe inspiring for me???


 Anjali Arakkal (Aparna Gopinath) is a free lance journalist, who sustained herself as a competent ghost writer...but her ultimate aim was to make a name for herself in the journalism world as she had the talent & panache for it. On the behest of an eminent journalist, KK (Prathap Pothen) she was entrusted with the task of being the ghost writer for the Jail Superintendent, Rama Murthy (Nedumudi Venu). Her interactions with the Superintendent led her to get acquainted with C K Raghavan (Mammootty), a convict jailed for a double homicide. However, Raghavan's insistence that he was innocent & his philosophical comments, stirs the journalistic instincts in Anjali & she runs a feature on him in a leading magazine which wins her a great deal of accolades. But when a leading book firm offers her a handsome contract for Raghavan's autobiography, little did she realize as to what she has got herself into.

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Venu, is one name which doesn't need any introduction as he is a cinematographer par excellence & had been honoured with the National Award thrice. He has already tried his hand in direction with the interesting "Daya" which happened more than a decade back. So when he announced his second venture, it did generate a great deal of interest & expectations. The main highlight of the movie is Venu's script itself that is devoid of any kind of filmy gimmicks or masala, in short a stark depiction of life. Another aspect that I absolutely loved were the dialogues which were thought provoking at times. However, there are numerous instances where I kinda felt the film was sluggish as barely nothing happens for long periods of time. The climax was good & made sense of the previous scenes but still I would have preferred a more engaging screenplay.

Mammootty absolutely rocked as the protagonist as he breathed life into the character in a convincing manner. His constant admission of innocence, wry smile & insightful observations of life seemed absolutely realistic. After numerous pathetic scripts, he finally lands with one which does make use of his acting skills. Aparna Gopinath was equally impressive & stands toe to toe with Mammookka. The remaining cast was also aptly chosen be it Nedumudi Venu, Renji Panicker, Joy Mathew etc; but I felt Prithviraj's guest appearance didnt make much sense as it had no impact whatsoever.

Verdict: With the Onam releases hitting the screens from today, the collection of the film could get severely dented. It might not be palatable for some as the film does drag at times & requires the audience to assimilate many of the sequences. From a personal point of view, I absolutely loved the climax but would have preferred a more engaging buildup!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Apothecary review: "Realistic portrayal of how an unfortunate few becomes nothing more than guinea pigs!!!"

It's almost 3 weeks since "Apothecary" had hit the screens & I happened to hear quite good reviews about it which naturally increased my curiosity. Finally I got to watch it a week back & though writing a review now wont make much sense, I still feel that since the script is based on the Medical profession I need to enlighten my colleagues as to what I felt about it being from the same background. 


Dr. Vijay Nambiar (Suresh Gopi) is a renowned neurosurgeon of the multi-speciality Apothecary hospital, who had met with a fatal accident rendering him comatosed. As the doctors pondered over the bleak prognosis of his condition, one of his patients Subin Joseph (Jayasurya) pays him a visit. Though Dr. Vijay was oblivious to what was happening around him, Subin narrates his experience in the very same hospital when he was brought there to him for treatment. Dr. Vijay Nambiar had saved numerous lives in his career with his expertise which earned him a great deal of fame, prosperity & good will. But he was also forced to indulge in unethical medical practices at the behest of the hospital administration which proved to be a horrendous experience for the unfortunate few. Even Subin was a victim of this ordeal but will Dr. Vijay ever get an opportunity to rectify the mistakes that he had committed???

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After having impressed one & all with his debut venture "Melvilasam", Madhav Ramadasan is back with a bang with an absolute beauty. The film delves into the psyche of the doctor & is interspersed with images from the after life. Madhav provides us with a peek into the business world of the Medical profession where a set of lab tests & scans are a part of standard procedure rather than absolute necessity. The screenplay cohesively lays out the story & we cant help having a lump in the throat at numerous instances. Equally impressive were Hari Nair's visuals & Sheikh Elahi's background score which is both enchanting and encompasses the mood of the film.

It's true that the script is the backbone of any film, but in order for it to make a lasting effect on the audience it has to be enacted by an apt choice of artists & Madhav has hits the bull's eye on that. After maintaining a low profile on screen for the past few years, Suresh Gopi has made a supreme comeback in a performance which will rank as one of the best in his career & his dialogue delivery in the climax was fantastic. The same goes with Jayasurya for his dedication to get into the skin of the character both physically & emotionally. If "Spirit" recongnised the actor in Nandu, then this film has done the same for Indrans as it showcased how brilliant an actor he is. Asif Ali in an extended cameo role has also done a commendable job. As for the rest of the cast, all of them have done their roles aptly.

Verdict: The film is slowly turning out to be a hit & truly deserves so. This portrayal is in no way meant to demean the Medical Profession or to categorize all hospitals and doctors of belonging to the same flock. As Jayasurya says in the movie "We always bargain in markets but never in hospitals"; it's high time that we as doctors dont succumb to such heinous practices & spoil the name of our noble profession. In short, if any of my friends have missed it especially my Medicine batchmates, you guys definitely have to check it out!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Avatharam review: "Success likely to elude Joshy yet again!!!"

It might sound weird but whenever I see Dileep's films it kinda reminds me of Salman, for the simple reason that all their recent movies are box office blockbusters though it has been panned by the critics. Salman doesn't even have an ounce of Dileep's caliber but both of them know what the fan wants & they churn it out relentlessly. It's common knowledge that humour is Dileep's forte but his latest venture with Joshy in "Avatharam" has him in an action avatar. So can he replicate his success in this genre as well???


Madhavan (Dileep) is a native of Bison Valley who comes over to Cochin accompanying his sis in law and niece following the death of his brother and customs officer, Sudhakaran (Ganesh). As he runs from pillar to pillar to obtain the death claim, he soon realizes that his brother was the victim of foul play & not otherwise as the police had proclaimed. With the police hand in glove with the gangsters, Madhavan realizes that he has got his task cut out as one wrong move would jeopardize the lives of his dear & near ones. So how he goes about his plan forms the crux of the movie.

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So after reading the plot, many of you would be wondering what's so unique about this & that's exactly the problem with Vyasan Edavanakad's script. Neither does it offer anything refreshing nor is the treatment different, as it lacked any knock out moments which would grip our attention. Joshy has been a maestro in action thrillers for decades but in recent times, he has been severely let down by the quality of the scripts be it "Salaam Kashmir", "Lokpal" & now this. 

With a running time of close to 2.40 hrs, it does test the patience of the audience & I wish Shyam Sasidharan had done a better job at the editing table. As for other aspects, Deepak Dev's music was average while Rajasekhar's efforts behind the camera didnt have much to laud about. 

Dileep has done what was expected of him but with such a lack luster script there is a limit to how much he can offer. Lakshmi Menon, a known face in the Tamil industry was fine while Sijoy Varghese as ACP was fantastic and will be the one to look out for in the future. As for the rest, they merely made up the numbers as they had nothing more than smirk wickedly & get slashed in the end.

Verdict: This is by no means anywhere close to "Runway, borne out of the same Joshy-Dileep combo which I consider as the best Dileep action film. Frankly speaking, I was damn bored towards the end & I couldnt resist myself a couple of chuckles seeing the amateurish action choreography. Being Dileep's movie it might work at the box office but I doubt so this time around. Anywaz it didnt work for me !!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vikramadithyan review: "Lal's magic turns an average script into a winner!!!"

It's been a hiatus since I have been active in my blog primarily due to my PhD thesis submission & secondly due to a dearth of films owing to Ramadan. Anywaz both have come to a pleasant conclusion & as always, my idea of relaxation was to check out some movie; after all the pressure of thesis submission had taken its toll on me. As I was contemplating which to watch, the one which took my fancy was Lal Jose's "Vikramadithyan" which had an impressive cast & crew. So will it emerge triumphant or run into rough weather like Lal Jose's world tour???


Vikraman (Unni Mukundan) & Adithyan (Dulquer) are childhood friends whose innate nature to outperform the other always took centre stage and more so, when their lives were intertwined well before their birth. Vikraman's father Vasudev (Anoop Menon) nurtured feelings for Adithyan's mother Lakshmi (Lena), but that relation never reached the altar as destiny had other plans. Another bonding factor between the two friends was Deepika (Namitha Pramod), whose love and supportive presence motivated Adi to strive harder as he competed for the SI selection. But things took a turn as Adi's name was found mysteriously missing from the selection list inspite of a commendable physical test. So was it just ill fortune or was there more than what meets the eye???

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The presence of Lal Jose & Dr. Iqbal Kuttipuram does raise expectations after all their track record boasts of "Arabikatha" & "Diamond Necklace". Unfortunately, this time around Iqbal's script flounders though the intention was noble as it culminates in a good climax. Lal Jose's ability to make something worthwhile from a mediocre script was evident in "Pullipulikalum Aatinkutiyum"& it's pretty much the same feeling that I got, though the script was relatively better here. The first half does have some humorous moments but overall it does make the audience feel a shade bored while the latter half picks up the tempo and interests the crowd.

On the technical side, the positioning of the songs was kinda weird as it felt more like a medley but Jomon's visuals more than made up for it as it was aptly shot.  Bijibal has done an average job with the music though "Mazhanila..." rendered by Najim & Soumya deserves praise.

With each passing film, Dulquer Salman is expanding his fan base with his endearing performances. He has done complete justice to the role as he essays the impulsive brooding under-dog character with elan. However, the person who really bowled me over was Unni Mukundan as I always considered him nothing more than a stone faced body builder; but he was fantastic as Vikraman & showed that in the hands of a good director he does have the skills to act. Namitha Pramod has done a decent job as well as she makes for a pleasing presence but she will have to work on the emotional scenes. Anoop Menon & Lena were both fantastic in their respective roles while Nivin Pauly continues his Midas's touch with a cameo.

Verdict: Though I got to watch the film just now, it has been released a week back and the reports suggests it has hit the bull's eye. Well I am not surprised as it makes for an entertaining watch especially the second half. Anywaz Lal Jose has got yet another hit!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben