Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Adi Kapyare Koottamani review: "Kootta chiri for both the audience & makers is guaranteed!!!"

Another 24 hours more & we will bid adieu to 2015 which saw almost 140 Malayalam movies being released, Though majority of them bit the dust, there has been quite a few which did grab eyeballs for its content & treatment. So seeking to claim a spot among such money spinners is John Varghese's debut venture "Adi Kapyare Koottamani". The promos & posters emphasizes the fact that this is a no holds barred laugh riot which is set against the backdrop of a boys hostel. Hmm...will the last movie of 2015 bring smiles to both the audience & producers ???


The film unfolds in Lord Wallace Boys hostel which is under the guardianship of Fr. Alfred Kattuvilayil (Mukesh) who took pride in the discipline of his wards. Though unknown to him, the boarders made merry in their own way with booze & other entertainments. Prominent among them were a gang of four namely Bhanu (Dhyan Sreenivasan), Bruno (Aju Varghese), Remo (Neeraj Madhav) & Koshy (Vineeth Mohan). It so happened that Bhanu had an urgent need for money & a girl by name of Adhishta Lekshmi (Namitha Pramod) whom he meets at the canteen offers to help him out of the blue in exchange for his assistance to enter the boys hostel. The reason as to why she wants to enter the hostel & the problems they face subsequently forms the plot of the movie.

As has been the trend of Friday Film House headed by Sandra Thomas & Vijay Babu, they have ushered in yet another debutant director into the industry. This individual happened to be John Varghese who also scripted the movie along with Abhilash S Nair. The idea of a girl trying to enter the boys hostel does sound interesting, but the excitement in the plot doesn't proceed beyond that. However, the screenplay is made engaging with humorous one liners which keeps the audience engaged. The film works primarily due to the cast that has been assembled who were impressive & the camaraderie that they share off screen has benefited the end product immensely. Shaan Rehman's music was average but I liked the track "Ende Maavum Poothe" rendered by Vineeth Sreenivasan & Co. The same opinion also goes for Ajay David's visuals and Lijo Paul's editing as well.  

In the performance department, though Dhyan is projected as the lead Aju & Neeraj Madhav are the ones who brings the house down with their hilarious antics & cracking one liners. Dhyan has done a decent job but he still needs to work on his comic timing & diction to make it more impressionable rather than appear as buffoonery. As for the rest of the cast, all of them have done a decent job as well be it Namitha, Mukesh, Vineeth or Bijukuttan.

Verdict: It's almost a week since the movie have released & from the reports coming in, it seems to be doing well at the box-office. This is surely an apt choice for this festival season as it will tickle the funny bone of the audience. In short, the humorous screenplay makes it an enjoyable experience & so be sure to check it out!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Jo and the Boy review: "Sincere attempt to appear novel but misses the mark!!!"

If at all a poll is conducted as to who is considered among the top 5 Malayalam actresses of all time, one name which is likely to figure in it will be Manju Warrier. She is held at such high esteem that when she announced her return back to films a year back, there were news that scripts were being drafted keeping her in mind & even the movies which subsequently released proved that to be true. Her latest release "Jo & the Boy" is helmed by Rojin Thomas & hopefully, this movie will make use of her talent & be able to make its presence felt this X'mas. Hmm...so does it do so???



Jo (Manju Warrier) is a zestful & sprightly animator who makes repeated futile efforts to make herself conspicuous in the eyes of some leading animation agency. Things take a turn when an innocent & talented boy named Criz (Sanoop Santhosh), walks into her life. Even though they didn't quite hit off in the right note initially, with time both of them becomes fond of each other. Criz proves to be an inspiration for Jo in the creation of an animation character which becomes an overnight sensation around the world. But with fame & money, arrogance & ego clashes sets in that creates cracks in their relationship which forms the crux of the movie.

After having won the State Award for the Best Children's movie for "Philips & the Monkey Pen" in 2013; Rojin Thomas has stuck onto a similar genre in his latest venture also. However, this time around the canvas is more expansive & the subject that he tackles is more complex. The idea of character animation is really impressive but the actual execution of it seemed far too simplistic & barely gets much attention. I do understand that Rojin wanted to focus his attention on the relationship of the protagonists, but in the second half I didn't feel he has done justice to that aspect as well. The choice of Kodaikanal as the location was a delight to the eyes & kudos to Neil D Cunha for the pristine visuals. A word of mention for the visual effects & animation which I felt was done well. Rahul Subramanian's music was in sync with the mood of the movie such as "Do Do Do" and "Ponveyil Veezhave" while Rahman Mohammed ought to have done a better job with the editing as it seemed a shade too long.

Manju Warrier as expected was fantastic in the role that was offered to her & does manage to carry the movie even when the screenplay lets it down. On par or maybe at times (especially towards the climax), even better than Manju was Sanoop's performance & should scoop up the Best Child Artist award yet again. Pearley, Lalu Alex, Kiran, Kalaranjini etc have done a credible as the support cast though the antagonists seemed pretty lame for my liking.

Verdict: It goes without saying that a movie of this genre works on the support that it garners from the word of mouth. However, unlike Rojin's debut venture this one isnt going to bull doze its way to commercial success. There is no doubt in the sincere effort that has gone into the thinking of the script, but the execution was found wanting. In short, it might break even at the most & with more entertaining movies on offer this X'mas; you can check this out after the rest!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, December 28, 2015

Charlie review: "Positive outlook to life & positive response at the box office!!!"

Among the X'mas releases, the one which had garnered the maximum pre-release hype was Martin Prakatt's "Charlie" with Dulquer Salmaan essaying the role of the protagonist. The well crafted trailer had aroused the curiosity of the audience to such an extent that it registered record number of views within the first 24 hours of its launch in you-tube. So will the actual movie live upto the fanfare after all the queues for the other releases proves that it's not going to be a one horse race.




Tessa (Parvathy Menon) was a strong willed individual who wanted to live life in her own terms rather than adhere to the norms that her family had put for her. On the eve of her brother's engagement, she makes a discrete exit from her home when she learns that her mother was planning to fix her alliance as well. With the help of her friend, she finds herself an abode in Kochi which seemingly brings about a turn in her life. As she poured over the belongings of the previous tenant, Charlie (Dulquer Salmaan) which was left behind, his quirkiness & distinct character caught her fancy. What subsequently follows is her search for Charlie, who touched the lives of whoever he came in contact but whose whereabouts was oblivious. 


It's been a couple of years since Martin Prakatt's "ABCD" had hit the screens which was a commercial success & I have to admit that I liked both his previous ventures with his debut being "Best Actor". Actually his latest venture "Charlie" is the best among the lot as it has been brilliantly conceived & executed. An equal share of the credit goes to Unni R as well who has come up with another gem of a protagonist after C K Raghavan of "Munnariyippu".  The film instills the element of suspense surrounding Charlie but the fact is there is no such hidden aura about him & it's the craftsmanship of Martin in the screenplay which made it appear so. All the characters had some purpose or the other rather than just for the numbers. Though it will surely appeal to the target audience, I am not quite sure how the others will respond to it as it's got a kinda unconventional treatment. When the DOP is Jomon T John, nothing else needs to be said after all he is a genius at what he does. If Gopi Sundar's music disappointed in "Two Countries", over here he was in top notch form be it Akale or Puthumazhayayi & even the BGM was in sync with the mood of the movie.  Another aspect which had caught my attention was the costumes by Sameera Saneesh as it was vibrant & hip and likely to set off a new fashion trend in colleges.

There is no doubt that the film relies on the charm of Dulquer & he has done absolute justice to the character in his own unique style. Even though there was risk of him appearing psychotic due to the myriad of emotions, he was able to tone it to an adequate measure. Parvathy was brilliant & to her credit the character seemed totally fresh without hangovers of her previous performances which speaks volumes about her ability. Aparna Gopinath & Nedumudi Venu makes their presence felt in the limited screen space. As for the rest, Soubin Shahir was hilarious while Chemban Vinod, KPAC Lalitha, Tovino, Neeraj Madhav etc did their parts aptly.


Verdict: Well a cracking initial was expected which eventually translated it to be the Malayalam movie with the highest ever initial collection. In all probability, it will be a blockbuster & which it truly deserves after all it's quite different from the usual run of the mill. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben



Saturday, December 26, 2015

Two countries review: "Two hours of fun filled unadulterated entertainment!!!"

Before delving into the review, I would like to first wish all my fellow beings; a Merry X'mas & a blessed holiday season. As many of you would have noticed, I haven't written reviews for Malayalam movies in the recent past primarily due to the non-release of regional languages in the part of the world where I am presently based. So when I came down for my leave, I couldn't suppress the excitement when I set foot into the confines of the theatre to watch Shafi's "Two Countries". The trailer promises it to be a laugh riot after all the cast & crew has a proven track record. But will that be enough to ace the box office collections???

Ullas (Dileep) is a jobless individual individual who was always on the lookout to make some quick bucks by indulging in fraudulent acts.Giving him company in all this was his friend and partner in crime Avinash (Aju Varghese), who invariably faced the after effects. His latest scheme was to marry the affluent Marwadi Patel's (Makarand Deshpande) handicapped sister & inherit the wealth. But at this juncture a seemingly better alliance from Canada (in terms of wealth) floors Ullas & he ties the knot with Laya (Mamta Mohandas) who also happened to be his childhood sweetheart. Everything seemed to work out fine for Ullas or so he believed, until he comes to know that she is an alcoholic addict. This sets off a war of words which poses question marks over the future of their marital relationship.So will the couple be able to find harmony in their life???

It's been quite a while since Shafi's movies had graced the screens with the last one being "101 Weddings" around three years back. However, his last notable hit was "Marykkundoru Kunjadu" which incidentally had Dileep playing the lead. With his brother, Rafi also penning the script; the expectations have been sky high & to be fair to them, they have delivered what they promised. The script doesnt have much depth as expected but the manner in which the screenplay is woven with ample scope for humorous moments & situational comedy make it a joyous ride for the audience. In the technical department, Santana Krishnan has done a fine job in capturing the beauty of Canada while Gopi Sundar's music doesnt linger once the movie gets over.

Dileep was fantastic as the protagonist as it was a role tailor made for him which he has executed with consummate ease. Equally impressive was Mamta & the sizzling chemistry between the lead pairs is undoubtedly the lifeline of the movie. Giving them credible support were the rest be it Aju Varghese & Jagadeesh in the first half or Suraj (who for once didnt stoop to low brow comedy & was genuinely funny) & Mukesh in the latter half. Even the others have also done a decent job as well.

Verdict: The tag of "Janapriya Nayakan" has been accredited to Dileep for the simple reason that he caters to the tastes of the family audience. This fact remains true here as well as it has all the ingredients that his movies are known for. It might be devoid of a meaty script but the humour that has been sprinkled liberally more than makes up for it. In short, an apt example of a holiday season movie!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tamasha review: "Producers in for a rude tamasha at the box office!!!"

Among the high profile releases of the year, one of the most eagerly awaited was Imtiaz Ali's "Tamasha" which had hit the screens this week. With Ranbir Kapoor & Deepika Padukone cast as the lead pairs, the sense of anticipation was palpable among the audience considering their credentials & past history. The trailer promises it to be a rocking movie & seemed to be along the lines of "Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwaani". So does it deliver what it projects???


Tara (Deepika Padukone) had the worst start to her holidays when she loses her baggage the moment she set foot on the beautiful French island of Corsica. Luckily for her, she meets up with Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) who helps her out & within moments they hit off famously. However, the duo decide to withhold their true identities so as to avoid any emotional baggage later on. Though they part as planned with no questions asked, Tara couldn't stop thinking of Ved who had swept her off her feet. Four years down the lane, they meet yet again but will everything be same as before???

video

Imtiaz Ali brand of films have always been unique & exudes class be it "Jab We Met", "Rockstar" or his last release "Highway". In his latest venture, though the film does set off in a rollicking manner after a point of time it gets lethargic & doesnt seem to offer anything sprightly enough to keep the audience engaged. It would be fair to say that this is the most complex protagonist that Imtiaz had created who is weighed down by the inability to pursue his dreams but unfortunately for him the audience doesn't sympathize with his situation. In the technical department, Ravi Varman's visuals were awesome while A R Rahman's music didnt quite strike a chord with me.

Ranbir Kapoor hasn't been having the best of times with his last couple of releases being box office duds but there is no denying the sincerity that he invests in each character that he portrays. Even as Ved, he was fantastic exhibiting the myriad of emotions that the protagonist goes through. When it comes to the female lead, Deepika was brilliant & for me, she actually outshines Ranbir inspite of playing second fiddle to him. As for the rest of the cast, none of them really mattered.

Verdict: In all likelihood, the film should be able to garner a decent initial though how it fares depends solely on the multiplex audience. Unluckily for the makers, the film is unlikely to appeal to the audience which will hamper it's gross collections. In short, the lead pairs are fantastic but that doesn't quite salvage the movie!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Spectre review: "Thrills in spurts & induces yawns for the rest!!!"

It's been quite a while since I have reviewed a Hollywood movie & what better than one which belongs to the James Bond series, undoubtedly the most famous franchise of all time. The latest to arise from the Bond stable is "Spectre" helmed by Sam Mendes with Daniel Craig reprising the famed protagonist for the fourth time. So the question is whether the movie could live upto expectations after all performing better than its predecessor is never an easy task.


The film unfolds in Mexico at the danse macabre where Bond (Daniel Craig) is in hot pursuit of a group on the posthumous orders of the previous M (Judi Dench). Bond eliminates the group & attains a ring from one of the assassins whose insignia reveals that they were members of the terror organisation "Spectre". At the same time in London, the present M (Ralph Fiennes) is having his hands full as C/Max Denigh (Andrew Scott), the head of the Joint Intelligence Service had almost drawn curtains on the "00" program in favour of the "Nine Eyes" a global surveillance & intelligence initiative of nine nations. Though suspended by M, Bond decides to dig up further info on Spectre & manages to infiltrate one of their meetings where he learns that it is being led by Franz Oberhauser (Christpher Waltz), who was believed to be dead. The mission gets all the more personal as Bond & Franz had their pasts intertwined which meant both of them had a measure of each other. So can Bond emerge triumphant yet again & if so, at what cost ???

video

About 3 years have passed since "Skyfall" had released which was brilliant to say the least & so it was always going to be a gargantuan task for Sam Mendes right from the onset to produce something similar to that. Well the fact is "Spectre" fails to live upto its predecessor inspite of a credible script on offer. The problem is its too long and dreary at times that it takes a toll on the audience that we struggle to suppress our yawns. However, the action sequences were awesome as always (though it was too less) which was brilliantly picturised by Hoytema. As for other technicalities, Thomas Newman's music didnt quite have the punch while the rest were top notch.

Daniel Craig was brilliant as Bond as he excelled in the action sequences but the romantic scenes which are integral to any Bond movie seemed forced and lacked passion. The Bond girl tag belonged to Lea Seydoux this time around & she didnt seem an apt choice at all as she shared no chemistry with Craig. Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris as Moneypenny & Ben Whishaw as Q have all done utmost justice to their roles. However, Christopher Waltz barely evoked terror that the character required while Monica Belucci barely got a chance to shake her booty.

Verdict: Well it's a Bond movie, so it's naturally going to garner mind boggling collections; but will it challenge "Skyfall's" collections...hmm, I dont expect it to. From my point of view, it's definitely one of the blandest Bond movies to have released in recent times. In short, you can give it a try if you are a 007 fan or else, wont hurt to give it a miss!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben





Monday, November 16, 2015

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo review: "Salman ensures that the producers rake in all the dhan!!!"

It's been a couple of days since Diwali festivities have come to a close but the box-office is still in cruiser mode with Salman's Diwali offering showing no signs of slowing down. Actually I got to see an article about the movie having crossed 100 C in just 3 days. Gosh!!! was it so good & is it worth enough for my friends to shell out cash to further swell the collections??? Hmm...well this is what I felt about the movie.


The film unfolds with Vijay Singh (Salman Khan), the crown prince of Prithampur in keeping with age old traditions and customs was going to be ceremoniously ordained as the ruler of the region. However, behind the glitter & privileged life that he led; all was not well with the prince as he shared an estranged relationship with his half-siblings & a rather icy chemistry with his fiance, Maithli (Sonam Kapoor). So bitter was the hatred that brewed within his younger brother Ajay Singh (Neil Nithin Mukesh) that he hatches a plot to kill Vijay with the help of their manager Chirag Singh (Armaan Kohli), which almost succeeds as Vijay is rendered bed ridden. It is at this juncture that Vijay's look alike Prem Dilwale, a stage artist turns up at the palace & at the behest of Diwan Sahab (Anupam Kher) masquerades as Vijay so that the latter could recover in hideout without any threat to his security. As his name suggests, Prem lightens up the life of everyone & manages to reconcile with the siblings. But the threat to Vijay's life was still imminent & it remained to be seen how that could be solved.

video

It's been close to a decade since Sooraj Barjatya had called the shots, with his last venture being "Vivah", Well I am not quite complaining after all I have never been a fan of his movies except for "Maine Pyar Kiya" & "Hum Aapke Hain Kaun". Over the years, his template has remained exactly the same, be it the joint families, protagonists who are the epitome of virtue, numerous song sequences etc. In his latest venture as well, it's basically a rehash of the same formula & though many of the scenes does make us cringe, surprisingly we dont detest it primarily due to Salman who is the lifeline of the movie. The script is as lame as possible as it belongs to a bygone era but it provides ample opportunities for Salman to endear the audience with his charm. In the technical department, Manikandan's visuals varied from being impressive to pedestrian and the same goes for the art direction as well. As for the Himesh Reshammiya's music, there were way too many & none of them lingers long enough with us to even hum.

Salman absolutely rocks in his dual role especially the one as Prem Dilwale which seems to be a lift off from his Bajarangi Bhaijaan character. The film works solely on his aura & Sooraj has ensured that the star is there in all the frames. Sonam Kapoor & Neil Nitin seemed apt as royalty but their acting skills wasnt quite upto the mark. Anupam Kher & Deepak Dobriyal were fine while Swara Bhaskar barely had much scope apart from scowling & shedding tears. As for Armaan Kohli, his woody expressions (not by choice but rather it's innate) were apt for his character.

Verdict: Well where will this golden run end??? Hmm...tough to tell, though at the rate it is progressing (which surprised me to be frank!!!), I expect it to garner around 300 C. As for my friends, who havent seen the movie, there is nothing worth watching as the script is pretty mundane unless of course you are a Salman fan!!!

Rating: 2.5/5 (solely coz of Salman)

Regards...Ben

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Shaandaar review: "A shaandaar waste of time!!!"

It's a festive mood around with everyone enjoying the extended weekend due to Dussehra. So to cash in on this, we have film makers across industries making a scrabble to display their wares. Prominent among them is Vikas Bahl's "Shaandaar" which has Shahid & Alia as the lead pair. The promos promises it to be a fun filled movie & the chemistry between the duo seems cracking. So will it be the Queen of 2015???


Alia (Alia Bhatt) was an orphan adopted by the millionaire Vipin Arora (Pankaj Kapoor), though it could be more appropriately said that he was a meek simpleton. Even his siblings also belonged to the same category as the reins of the household was in his mother's hands, a wheel chair bound cold hearted Mummyji (Sushma Seth). Though not quite the darling of Mummyji & her foster mother, Alia shared a warm relationship with her rotund half sister, Isha (Sanah Kapoor) whose marriage was fixed with the wealthy Fundwani family. The wedding was planned as an elaborate event which was co-ordinated by the sprightly Jagjinder Joginder (Shahid Kapoor), who wins the hearts of everyone except Vipin who was insecure of the former's increasing proximity to Alia. How this gala wedding ceremony pans out forms the crux of the movie.

video

After the brilliant "Queen" which ruled the roost last year, Vikas Bahl is back with his latest venture which however turned out to be a mediocre candy floss. There is a world of disparity between the quality of the scripts & it comes as a rude surprise that it was indeed conceived by Vikas & written by Anvita Dutt. The major flaw of the movie as is evident by now is the lack of a credible plot. It actually seemed like a large cast was assembled & they were asked to perform to their heart's delight with songs inserted in between the proceedings. As a matter if fact, it's the cast which actually made this movie enjoyable at times due to the delightful chemistry between Shahid, Alia, Pankaj & Sanah. In the technical department, Anil Mehta has done a decent job with the visuals while Amit Trivedi's music was average at best.

Coming to performances, Shahid & Alia shared excellent chemistry and seemed to be at utmost ease in essaying their characters. Pankaj Kapoor is an actor par excellence, so in a role that barely challenged him; it was a cake walk for the veteran & the interaction with his real life son made for an enjoyable watch. Sanah Kapoor (who is actually the half sister of Shahid) has done an apt job while Sanjay Kapoor's over the top act which was hilarious at times reminded me of Anil Kapoor. As for the rest of the cast, they were average at best.

Verdict: The film is likely to have a decent opening & will appeal to the teenagers who loves candy floss rom-coms. But even then it will struggle to make waves at the box office & the best that the producers could possibly expect is to break even. From my point of view, with hardly a coherent script on display it's nothing more than a waste of time. In short, give it a miss!!!

Rating: 1/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, October 12, 2015

Jazbaa review: "Sanjay seems to have jazbaa only for style not substance!!!"

In the past year or so, we have been witness to some prominent heroines such as Manju Warrier, Jyothika etc. venture back into mainstream cinema . The latest to join that bandwagon is Aishwarya Rai who had taken a career break for motherhood. Her comeback vehicle is Sanjay Gupta's "Jazbaa", who is infamous for blatant ripoffs of Hollywood & Korean movies. Well the trailer seemed stylish & evokes expectations, but will it be the fairy tale return for Ash???


Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai) is a prominent criminal lawyer whose exceptional competence meant she got her clients off the hook, irrespective of whether they were guilty or not; if they were able to afford her hefty pay check. Things take a turn when her daughter gets kidnapped & she is instructed to defend a convicted felon as ransom. With a few days left for the final verdict on that case, she had to race against time & ensure she turned the tables on an open & shut case for the sake of her daughter. With the help of her childhood friend, Inspector Yohan (Irrfan Khan) suspended from the force for charges of corruption; they try to unravel evidence that could possibly prove that the case wasn't as crystal clear as it seemed. But with time, it becomes apparent that there were other stronger forces at play who didn't wish that the case was reopened. So can Anuradha save her daughter & if so, at what cost???

video

It's been a couple of years since Sanjay Gupta had last made his appearance felt at the theatres through "Shootout at Wadala". To be frank, I have never been a fan of his movies as it oozed style & lacked content in most cases. Another aspect of all of his movies was that they were either copied from the West or Far East, which I didn't actually mind as long as it appealed to the senses; but invariably it didn't. His latest venture is also said to be a rip off of a Korean movie titled "Seven Days" (which I haven't seen), that has the premise of a thriller, but it failed to rise beyond a certain level & relegates to a melodramatic flick. Though the climax does provide a twist, it doesn't quite surprise the audience as expected & culminates in a predictable manner. In the technical department, the BGM by Amar Mohile was irritating while the colour tone used by Sameer Arya in the visuals didnt make it an enjoyable experience. However, Bunty Nagi's editing was crisp while Kamlesh Pandey's dialogues was witty at times.

Though Ash doesn't quite fit into the top bracket of actresses (in terms of skill), she has done a decent job as the protagonist. Irrfan Khan tries to do justice to his role which didn't quite have the depth  for an actor of his caliber, due to which it fails to impress. The same applies to Shabana Azmi & Atul Kulkarni as well, while the rest seemed average in their brief roles. 

Verdict: There is no doubt that the movie isn't going to make much impact at the box office & will depend on the multiplexes to break even. It should be able to do that after all there isn't much competition around & also due to its reasonable budget. So is it worth a try??? Hmm..well only if you are a fan of Ash or else forget it!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Talvar review: "Razor sharp screenplay which give us a lump in our throats!!!"

About a week has passed since Meghna Gulzar's "Talvar" have hit the screens & due to some work commitments I wasn't able to jot down as to what I felt about it. Since most of my friends didn't even hear about this movie, I felt it made sense to write about it after all it was based on the Aarushi murder case which had hogged the headlines until the Sheena Bora case came up. With Irffan Khan & Konkona Sen among the cast, it was expected to be well portrayed & they did exactly that. The question that everyone had was in which point of view was the movie made, after all it is such a convoluted case. So did Meghna Gulzar do justice to this murder mystery???


The film unfolds with Inspector Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan) of the CDI being made in charge of the Shruti Tandon murder case which had shook the conscience of the nation. The utter incompetence & lackadaisical approach of the Noida police headed by Inspector Dhaniram (Gajraj Rao) meant that by the time Ashwin was brought in, all the crucial evidence were either lost or trampled. On the basis of some assumptions & vague theories, they had pinned the murder of Shruti & Khempal (Tandon's domestic help) on Ramesh Tandon (Neeraj Kabi). They branded it as a case of honour killing after Ramesh had seen his daughter in a compromising position with Khempal. However, Ashwin assisted by Inspector Vedant (Soham Shah) meticulously go through the circumstantial evidence & comes to the conclusion that the parents were innocent. But before he could close the case, the case is handed over to a new investigative team who again comes to the conclusion that the parents were indeed guilt of the double murder. So how both these teams goes about their task of coming to their own conclusions forms the crux of the movie. 

video

After a hiatus, Meghna Gulzar calls the shots with this hard hitting film & she has done an excellent job with regard to the manner it was made. It seems like a documentary at times with the same scene being re-enacted a couple of times to support the theory of both the investigative teams. The audience is also given a realistic view as to how insensitive & casual the attitude of the cops could be at times. One of the primary reason as to why Megha was able to accomplish all this was coz of the brilliant script & screenplay by Vishal Bharadwaj. In such a grim movie, it's hard to have some light moments but the manner in which he has crafted the climax sequence between both the investigative teams rubbishing the findings of the other deserves applause. If at all there was some portion which felt unwanted, it was the take on Ashwin's disconcerted chemistry with his wife. As for other technical aspects, the BGM was fine while the editing by Sreekar Prasad was crisp and even the visuals by Pankaj Kumar seemed adequate.

Irrfan Khan has been the toast of Bollywood in the past few years & with even Hollywood having cast him, he has enhanced his reputation of being one of the best actors in the country. Expectedly, Irrfan was brilliant as Inspector Ashwin be it in the manner he goes about the case or his equation with his wife. Konkona Sen & Neeraj Kabi may not have much dialogues but they had expressed their character's distress convincingly. Prakash Belawadi (as the former CDI boss) was fantastic & even Soham Shah has done a fine job. As for the rest of the cast, all of them have done their jobs aptly though Tabu's role seemed unwanted.

Verdict: As per the latest box office reports, the movie has done exceedingly well & it seems to be going steady inspite of new releases. It's a well crafted movie & deserves all the applause coming its way. There is no doubt that the makers have given a clear indication as to what they think about the Talwar's involvement in the double murder. We can only hope that justice is served as soon as possible after all it's been about seven years now. As for the movie, no need for second thoughts...just go for it !!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Welcome back review: "Far from being welcome!!!"

Over the years, Bollywood have churned out numerous sequels hoping to cash in on the popularity of its predecessor. Invariably, many of them have hit the bull's eye such as "Dabaang 2" or "Singham Returns"; while others like "Ab Tak Chappan 2" have bit the dust. This weekend we have Anees Bazmee with the sequel of the hilarious blockbuster "Welcome" . Now the question is whether "Welcome Back" be as successful as its prequel after all such movies with a nonsensical story-line depends solely on the cast & screenplay???


Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) & Majnu bhai (Anil Kapoor) have mended their ways (or so they believed) & led an upright life which they still found hard to be accustomed to as they were now paying hafta to small time crooks. Both of them were still single & harbored hopes of entering into matrimonial bliss after they get floored by Rajkumari Nandhini alias Babita (Ankita Shrivastava). In fact, she was no royalty as she along with her mom, Poonam (Dimple Kapadia) conned people on the pretext of romance & these two dimwits happened to be their latest victims. At around this time, Uday realises that he has a step sister in the form of Ranjhana (Shruti Hassan) & the search for a suitable groom for her takes them to Dr. Ghunghroo's (Paresh Rawal) household again. When they are told that Dr. Ghunghroo had a son Ajju (John Abraham) (step-son actually), they have no qualms in fixing the alliance expecting him to be as cavalier as his father & cousin. But the truth was Ajju barely had a semblance of such virtues as he was an infamous gangster who ruled the roost in Mumbai. 

video

In the past decade or so, the kind of movies that Anees Bazmee have created has been pathetic to say the least as none of them barely had a plot though there were a couple of hilarious ones like "Welcome" and "Singh is Kingg". His latest venture "Welcome Back" is no different , but unlike it's prequel this one severely suffers from lack of smart dialogues and witty one liners. Inspite of an able cast at his disposal, the film fails to sustain a smile on our face for more than a scene or two which leaves us perplexed wondering whether the humour sense of the makers was so poor. In the technical department, the grandiosity of Dubai was aptly showcased through Kabir Lal's lenses while the other aspects doesn't deserve much of a mention.

Anil Kapoor & Nana Patekar are the life source of this movie and they have done it in style especially the former who was bang on as the stylish, tapori lingo spewing bhai. As for the other veterans, Paresh Rawal doesnt get much riotous lines while Nasserudeen Shah & Dimple Kapadia were over the top. It's kinda known that John can break a shoulder much more easily than shoulder a scene with his comic timing like Akshay. He fails miserably as expected just like his co-star Shruti Hassan & we are left wondering as to why both of them were even casted in the first place. 

Verdict: "Welcome" was not a great movie by any stretch of imagination but it was rollicking  to say the least & when compared to it's sequel, it seems like a classic now. Anywaz the sequel will surely cash in the initial but will struggle in the long run as it wont have the word of mouth in its favour. The humour is so trite that there is an oft repeated dialogue in the movie "Yeh Toh Mazaak Tha" which seemed more like a cue for the audience to laugh rather than serve any other purpose. In short, give it a miss!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Thani Oruvan review: "Dont be the thani oruvan to miss out on Aravind's mesmerizing show!!!"

In the last couple of days, I came across some FB posts praising Aravind Swamy's performance in a negative role that he essayed in "Thani Oruvan". This naturally aroused my curiosity after all I have seen him predominantly only in roles which are endowed with virtues. With M. Raja calling the shots & that too in the company of his brother, Jayam Ravi; I was kinda sure that it would be entertaining. But was it as awesome as some of the posts proclaimed???


Mithran (Jayam Ravi), an IPS trainee along with his friends used to discreetly assist the police whenever an opportunity arose. But with time it dawns upon them, that their efforts to quell crime barely made an impression as the culprits used to get off scot free due to the influence of honchos. This enticed Mithran to uncover the kingpins behind all the crimes happening in the city & takes it upon himself to put an end to it. However, the further he delved through the evidence; it becomes apparent that the renowned scientist & son of Home Minister, Siddharth Abhimanyu (Aravind Swamy) was the one pulling the strings. It was no mean task to take down a person with such impeccable credentials, but Mithran & his friends were determined to put an end to this menace. Little did they realise that Siddharth was always a step ahead of them. 

video

The moment that I heard that it was M.Raja's movie, I assumed this might be the remake of some Telugu blockbuster after all he is the king of remakes. However, if I'm not wrong, I believe he has come up with an original script this time around (I could be wrong) in the company of Subha & the aspect that they have emphasized on is given as the tag line: "Your opponent makes you realize your capacity".Though some of the sequences seemed far fetched & convenient, the well etched characters made it an engaging experience. In the technical department, Hiphop Tamizha's music was fine while Ramji's visuals were top notch as it provided that edgy feel required for a thriller. Thanks to the engaging narration & commendable editing by Gopikrishna, it doesnt make us look at our watches inspite of being 160 mins.

Usually when we talk about performances, it's quite natural to talk about the hero first; but the one we would root for here is the antagonist brilliantly performed by Aravind Swamy. Frankly speaking, I never knew he could ooze such cold blooded villainous aura with mere looks & subtle expressions. Jayam Ravi was impressive in his role who stands toe to toe with Swami. Unlike majority of the movies, the female lead here wasnt merely for eye candy & Nayanthara has done utmost justice to it. As for the rest of the cast, all of them have done aptly and while Thambi Ramaiah tickles the funny bone I felt he was a miscast as Swami's father. 

Verdict: It has already garnered decent returns in Tamil Nadu & with none of the Onam releases going great guns, it should reap rich dividends from our state as well. The praise that I have heard about the film prior to watching it is more or less justified as it does keep us engaged. In short, the script might not be top notch but the characters makes it appear so. So dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Phantom review: "Likely to be a phantom at the theatres in a few days!!!"

Onam...the very thought of this festival tingles our visual senses & salivary glands thanks to the sumptuous sadya along with the movie releases. Apart from the numerous Malayalam films, even Bollywood had one prominent release in the form of Kabir Khan's "Phantom". With "Bajirangi Bhaijaan" turning out to be the second biggest blockbuster of all time, Kabir had a whale of a time coming into his latest offering. So will Saif conjure atleast a fraction of the semblance of what Salman achieved with the same director???


26/11...a day which will be etched in our memories forever when LeT orchestrated a massacre in Mumbai. Almost seven years have passed since that fateful day, but due to our rather soft diplomatic demeanor or for some other reason known to only our Government, the masterminds behind that heinous act is still at large. RAW comes up with a covert operation to eliminate them & entrusts a disgraced Indian army officer, Dhaniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) to put their plans into it's rightful culmination. He is also helped in his mission by Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif), a former RAW operative who provides him with the necessary resources. But will he able to take down the kingpins as planned???

video

If "Bajirangi Bhaijaan" focused on Indo-Pak brotherhood then Kabir's latest venture touches on the other extreme which is the topic of terrorism. However, unlike other espionage thrillers like "Baby" or "D-Day" this one fails to evoke similar excitement or rather to put it in simple terms, it felt like any other action movie inspite of the artillery on display. Based on Hussain Zaidi's "Mumbai Avengers", the script is an amalgamation of fact & fiction, but the problem is that the latter aspect fails to grip the audience. It's as if the makers were more interested in Sunny Deol's Gadar pattern of modus operandi before bringing the curtains down in Titanic style. The technical aspects were fine with some crisp editing by Arif Sheikh & Aditya Banerjee and credible visuals by Aseem Mishra. 

Saif looks suave & dashing, but as a rugged action hero,,,he is definitely not the right choice. I'm not saying he has to be expressive & over the top, but come on...pasting a scowl on your face isnt exactly how you portray yourself as being tough. Katrina Kaif was even more pathetic as she had the same "damsel in distress" expression throughout the whole movie with the irony being she plays a former RAW operative. As for the rest of the cast, none of them deserves special mention as they barely had much to do except sit around the table & discuss or click on their computers. 

Verdict: As per current reports, "Bajrangi Baijaan" has racked in 600 crores which will have Kabir Khan smiling ear to ear, but he will consider himself lucky if "Phantom" manages to huff & puff past 60 crores. The film might proclaim itself to belong to the genre of "espionage thriller"...but it fails to thrill for a major portion. In short, wont hurt to give it a try but on TV!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben




Saturday, August 15, 2015

Brothers review: "Bollywood exercises Right to Copy but officially for a change !!!"

On the auspicious occasion of our Independence Day, I would like to remind all my fellow Indians that we should strive to keep our freedom intact & not vile it away over petty issues like politics, communal violence etc. It might seem ironic but this week we have Karan Malhotra's "Brothers" hitting the screens which has a pair of brothers baying for each other's blood almost similar as to how some anti-social elements are trying to entice violence against our brothers & sisters. So will the movie cater to the tastes of the Indian audience???


Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff), an ex-fighter was released from jail after having served a jail sentence for the accidental murder of his wife. He was filled with remorse as he choked with guilt over the mishap that had happened primarily due to his addiction to alcohol. But it had virtually wrecked the life of everyone in his life as his two sons faced the brunt of it. His elder son, David (Akshay Kumar) who never forgave his father & cut off ties with his half brother after the demise of his mother was leading a contended life as a teacher with his wife & daughter. But a life threatening cardiac problem for his daughter meant he was squeezed for money & was forced to make some extra bucks through street fights. Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) was Gary's younger son who also made a living through fights & like his father was reliant on booze. It was around this time that Peter Bregenza (Kiran Kumar), a multi millionaire sports enthusiast arranges a MMA competition in the country & as one would expect both brothers enroll in it. But who will emerge victorious & at what cost???

video

Karan Malhotra is familiar to all of us as the one who had remade "Agneepath" which was quite a decent effort to be frank, Over here, he has taken the plot from the Hollywood movie "Warrior" & added heavy doses of melodrama to the point that it gets nauseating in certain sequences. The first half is interspersed with flash backs to showcase the equation between the father & his sons, while in the second half it had nothing apart from fights. So was it an absolute bore??? Well not exactly, as some sequences like the training sessions & fights were well choreographed. But unless you have a decent story to explain, it gets taxing after a certain time which is what happens here, None of the technical aspects deserves special mention as it was average at best.

Though Karan might have faltered in the script, I felt he has done a credible job with the cast that he has chosen. Akki was an apt choice as a brother who excels in martial arts & he has enacted his role with restraint making sure he didnt go over the top. Sidharth also has done a fine job as Monty & excelled in the fight sequences, though he needs to work on the emotional scenes. Jackie hams it big time in many of the scenes while Shefali Shah rocked in her brief role.

Verdict: It might sound surprising but I actually liked it more than the original but is it worth the time??? Hmm...well I have to say no...coz the script is as predictable as the conduct of our opposition party in Parliament. In all probability, it isn't going to make much of a tremor at the box office & you may as well spent this weekend watching Saina Nehwal's finals!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben



  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Drishyam review: "Decently remade but lacks the punch!!!"

About a month back, I had written about "Papanasam" which saw Kamal Haasan show ample evidence as to why he is considered as one of the best actors in the country. Well credit for that definitely goes to Jeethu Joseph whose script & direction was top notch & which was made all the more impactful thanks to the peerless Lalettan. Anywaz that led to a remaking spree with the latest industry to be hooked onto it being Bollywood. So will it be able to create waves there as well after all the cultural differences is pretty marked between the North & the South???


Well I am not even going to attempt saying anything about the plot as it would be known to everyone by now. This version had Nishikant Kamat call the shots who got some pretty decent credentials having won the National Award for his Marathi film "Dombivali Fast" a couple of years back. The screenplay by Upendra Sidhaye has remained more or less true to the original but subtle changes has been made to the script with regard to the locales. So does it actually work atleast in terms of the thrill factor. There is no doubt that it's surely one of the well made thrillers in Bollywood in the recent past, but if you have seen Lalettan's or even Kamal's version, you are bound to be disappointed. Just to cite a few examples, the sequence where the family was brutally thrashed at the police headquarters or the climax between the two parties both of which was brilliantly canned in Malayalam & Tamil, but it barely had an impact here. None of the technical aspects deserves special mention, which doesn't imply it was mediocre but it doesn't quite catch your attention also.

video

I do agree that it's absolute injustice to even compare Ajay Devgan to a legend like Lalettan, but he is no lame duck also after all he has won the National award twice.  Being a person who have excelled in expressing anguish & helplessness through his eyes, I would have to admit that it was disappointing to see him unable to showcase that caliber here. However, Tabu absolutely rocked as the IG & I feel she has performed on par or even better than Asha Sharath. The way she showcases her ability to oscillate between the ruthless nature of her profession & the yearning of her mother's heart, was quite a treat. Rajat Kapoor as Tabu's husband was impressive (the best in all the versions) along with Kamlesh Sawant. As for the rest of the cast, Shriya Saran & the kids were average at best while the kid who enacted Varun's role was far from threatening. 

Verdict: With "Bajrangi Baijaan" & "Bahubali" ruling the roost, it wont be possible for "Drishyam" to make a dent in their collections. But to be fair to the makers, I feel they have done a praise worthy job & surely deserves an audience for their effort. So will it appeal to those who have seen the original or even the Tamil version, then the answer will be a big "No". Anywaz give it a try if you haven't seen either of the two or else forget it!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijaan review: "Salman's most endearing film in the past decade!!!"

On the auspicious occasion of Eid, I would like to first start by saying that may Allah shower his blessings on all my friends & well wishers. So apart from the lip smacking delicacies that are part & parcel of this festive season; as always it's time for Salman to sent the box office into a frenzy. His gift for this Eid comes in the form of "Bajrangi Bhaijaan"which is helmed by Kabir Khan. So will it be as humongous a hit as their previous venture???


The films unfolds in POK where an expected mother names her daughter Shahida after the exploits of the swash buckler Afridi against their arch rivals. However, Shahida (Harshaali Malhotra) was born mute & after a near fatal accident her mother takes her to the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi in search of a miracle. But as fate would have it, Shahida gets separated from her mother & lands up in Kurukshetra. Over there, she meets Pawan (Salman Khan) a simpleton & Hanuman devotee; who takes it upon himself to reunite Shahida with her parents. Little did he realise that it was easier said than done.

video

When it comes to Salman Khan, we can rest assured as to what we are going to be served with; even before the first scene is shown. Now since all his movies have been blockbusters, it makes sense for the film makers to stick on with the same formula. Surprisingly, that's exactly where this movie is different from the rest as it doesn't have the usual larger than life persona, punch dialogues or even the bare torso act. As a matter of fact, Kabir Khan seems to have imbibed the flavour of Rajkumar Hirani as his script made humour take centre stage when matters like religion, customs, stereotypical mindsets etc are touched upon. One of the major factor that the movie works is the lively screenplay & dialogues which has us in splits along with the endearing climax (a shade too melodramatic I admit but it works). As for other technical aspects, the visuals & music were fine at best while the film though long at 2.5 hours doesnt test our patience thanks to the likable characters. 

Salman bhai has done a fantastic job as the protagonist as it was refreshing to see him in this avatar & will surely appeal to people who are not his fans as well. Nawazuddin Siddiqui was brilliant as the news reporter, Chand Nawaz (slyly named after Chand Nawab whose video I am sure most of you would have seen in FB) & he gets some of the best scenes in the movie. If at all there was an award for the cutest kid, it would go to Harshaali as I havent seen a kid as angelic as her in all the movies that I have watched. Her innocent face, expressive eyes & beautiful smile more than makes up for her lack of dialogues. Kareena has done a fine job in the limited screen space along with the rest of the cast.

Verdict: As always it would take an earth shattering initial & in all probability be as profitable as their previous venture together "Ek Tha Tiger". It would surely appeal to the audience thanks to the refreshing change from the usual run of the mill stuff from Salman. In short, check it out as it's definitely Salman's most endearing performance in the past decade!!!

Rating: 3.25/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Baahubali review: "Breathtaking visual spectacle which scores on all counts!!!"

The Indian film industry is the biggest in the world for the sheer volume of films which is being churned out every year. However, the budget which is being shelled are peanuts when you compare it to Hollywood. Well it actually makes sense after all the production team needs to reap profits which is kinda difficult if the costs are humongous especially for regional languages. But if the product is good, nothing should stop it from being a blockbuster which is exactly the reason why the producers have invested 250 C into Rajamouli's  magnum opus "Baahubali: The Beginning". So will it be as awe-inspiring as promised???


A significant portion of the first half showcases as to how the blue blooded Shiva alias Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas) was raised by the tribal folks in the foothills of the mighty waterfalls. As destiny would have it, Shiva was spurred to cross the waterfalls in search of lands that lay beyond. Eventually he does it & meets Avantika (Tamannaah), who happens to be part of a rebellion seeking to rescue the Queen, Devasena (Anushka Shetty) held captive by the fiendish usurper Bhalla Dev (Rana Daggubati). Shiva takes it upon himself to save the Queen but little did he realize that his genes actually belonged to the kingdom of Mahishmati.

video

Ever since the movie was announced, the hype & expectations surrounding it was understandable after all it was helmed from Rajamouli; the maverick behind "Magadheera", "Eega" etc. Anywaz his latest venture has lived upto expectations as his screenplay (inspired from Mahabharata) was engrossing for most parts except for the romance sequence which stuck out like a sore thumb. In the technical department, almost all the aspects were of supreme quality & totally worth the money spent on them. The VFX effects were mind blowing for most parts though the avalanche seemed kinda odd. Hats off to Sabu Cyril for his brilliant sets & Senthil Kumar for the breathtaking visuals. Last but the least, kudos to Keeravani's BGM & music which was in sync with the mood of the movie.

It's the first time that I have watched a movie of Prabhas & I should admit I was pretty impressed with the aura that he brings to the screen. Apart from his bulky physique, he fitted the character of the protagonist pretty well. Equally impressive was Rana Daggubati who seemed more than an equal match for the machismo Prabhas, But the pick among the lot for me was Remya Krishnan & Satyaraj who were exceptional in their respective roles. As for the rest of the cast, Anushka ought to be applauded for her de-glam look while Tamannah & Nasar were apt in their performances.

Verdict: The film has released in over 4200 screens around the world & from the reports coming in, it has shattered all opening day records by grossing about 60 C. It's definitely worth all the applause coming its way & I would have to admit I just cant wait for the second part to release. In short, you definitely got to watch this!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben