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. 


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???


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