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???


 


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.


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.


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.


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