Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Baby review: "Slickly executed espionage thriller with an average plot!!!"

The Republic Day on a Monday inevitably meant that the film makers had an extended weekend to take advantage of & Neeraj Pandey's "Baby", which deals with espionage seemed an apt choice. There was a palpable sense of anticipation after all Neeraj had wowed the audience previously with "A Wednesday" & "Special Chabbis". Even the promos of his latest aroused curiosity, as it seemed like a slickly executed movie. So will it live upto the standard of its predecessors???


Baby is an undercover intelligence agency that was formed with the intention to curb the rising acts of terrorism. Ever since its inception, it's highly skilled agents have foiled countless attempts of the militants who were keen to unleash a reign of terror across the nation. Feroze Ali Khan (Danny Denzongpa) was the Chief of Baby & Ajay (Akshay Kumar) was his ace among the agents. The film unfolds with Ajay negating the threat posed by a double agent & in the process, unearths the truth that the dreaded terrorist, Bilaal (Kay Kay Menon) facing trial in the Indian jail was likely to be rescued. All of this was done under the orders of the Pakistan's terror outfit, Lashkar whose leader was Maulana Mohammad Rehman (Rashid Naz). So can Ajay & his fellow agents rise to the biggest challenge that they had ever faced???

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Neeraj Pandey credentials needs no introduction as he has already proved it beyond doubt with his previous two ventures. In his latest offing, he has gone for a much larger scale as the characters trot across the globe in their mission to bring the offenders to justice with some impressively executed stunt sequences. However, unlike his other movies; the plot lacks the tautness or reality that you would expect from him as some of the scenes seem too far fetched be it Bilaal's escape or the rather lack of professionalism on the part of the terrorists.. But even then, I thoroughly enjoyed it as the latter half really hooks the audience with some edge of the seat sequences which kinda reminded me of "Argo". As for the technical aspects, the visuals by Sudeep Chatterjee was fantastic along with the action sequences choreographed by Cyril Raffaelli and Abbas Ali Moghul. Even the BGM by Sanjay Chowdhury deserves praise while the editing by Shree Narayan Singh was crisp.

Akki was fantastic as the undercover agent & seemed every bit convincing be it with his stunts or his suave nature. Danny Denzongpa imparted the sense of seriousness that you would associate with such a character. Inspite of appearing towards the latter half of the movie, Anupam Kher provides the hilarious moments in his own characteristic manner. Rashid Naz was menacing while Kay Kay Menon didnt have much to do. Among the rest, Rana Duggabatti was imposing with his bulky frame while Tapsee Pannu steals the scene in her brief appearance. 

Verdict: The previous track record of Neeraj would ensure a credible initial, however it wont cater to the masses as such. The plot is pretty average as it does have some notable loopholes & seems far fetched at times, but still it was brilliantly executed & keeps you hooked for sure. In short, check it out !!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, January 26, 2015

Picket 43: "Worth getting a ticket!!!"

After the disappointing "Mariyam Mukku, I was wondering whether to head back home as I didn't want to spoil it further. However, the posters of Prithvi's "Picket 43" enticed me to stick around, though I was kinda apprehensive since it was helmed by Major Ravi. Since Prithvi has rarely made a wrong choice in the recent past, I decided to check out his latest venture in the very next show itself. So will it be yet another trite war movie from the Major???


Picket 43 was a dreaded outpost along the LOC which was the site of frequent militant infiltrations and unrest. Much to the dismay of our Armed Forces, none of our jawans posted there has made it back alive with the previous one also mercilessly slaughtered. The latest recruit to the outpost was Havildar Harindran (Prithviraj) who was accompanied by the sniffer dog, Bacardi. No sooner had he landed there, he was greeted by a barrage of gun shots from across the border. But this hostile scenario seemed to change, when the Pak forces recruited a replacement in the form of Ranger Musharaff (Javed Jaffrey). With time, Hari & Mushraff develops a bond of friendship but will it be able to resist the test of political instability which invariably rears its ugly head coz of the frequent ceasefire violations???

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It's been quite some time since Major Ravi has proved his worth behind the camera & so to be frank, many wouldn't have laid much hopes on him. However, I am glad that he has proved us wrong with a pretty decent script which focused on friendship between two unlikely characters such as the Jawan & the Ranger. But still, the story seemed pretty superficial as it didn't quite delve into the details of their relationship & the hostile environment that they were part of. On the contrary, I felt more emphasis or rather screen space was given to the relation between Prithvi & Bacardi. Whatever said, I absolutely liked the climax which brought the attention back to the core matter. The technical aspects were pretty impressive be it Jomon's delectable visuals, the BGM by Rex & Ratheesh Vega's music.

Prithvi was brilliant as the protagonist who showcases a myriad of emotions both physical and mental with elan. Javed Jaffrey was aptly cast & he has done utmost justice to his character. Bacardi being a trained canine didnt seem to be perturbed by the cameras while Renji Panicker also has done a fine job as the Officer in Charge. As for the rest, the heroine cast opposite to Prithvi was pathetic as she struggled to emote in the few scenes she appeared.

Verdict: Prithvi's brand value will ensure that the film has an impressive initial. In addition, he has once again reposed our faith that his choice of movies are something that we can bank on as his latest venture also had a decent story to convey. In short, it's definitely worth getting a ticket for this one!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mariyam Mukku review: "James Albert's script dampens his directorial debut!!!"

Last year's X'mas would surely rank as one of the worst seasons in the recent past for a movie buff as it played host to some pathetic Malayalam releases. Well whatever might be the reason for the neglect of the holiday season by the film-makers, it seems all of that has come to a close as 4 major releases has hit the screens this weekend. Among these, the one that I had wanted to check out first was Fahad Fazil's "Mariyam Mukku", for the simple reason that it was shot at Tangasseri, just a couple of kms from my home. So apart from the familiar locales, will the script also bring a smile to me???


Felix (Fahad Fazil) was the the henchman of Mariyanasan (Manoj K Jayan), the prominent gangster in the coastal village of Mariyam Mukku.  After having lost his parents in his childhood, Felix was taken under the wings of Mariyanasan, who had trained him for his selfish means. However, the misdeeds that he committed hardly mattered to Felix after all his boss's wish was his command. But his attitude takes a turns for the better, when he gets smitten by his childhood friend Salomi (Sana Althaf). Naturally, this irks his boss & he comes down hard on Felix. So will Felix be able to stand up for his love for Salomi???

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At the turn of the new millennium, there was a fear that there was a steady decline in the quality of scripts that were being churned out. However, the entry of James Albert into the industry with "Classmates" instilled hopes that we need not worry much as long as people like him are around. Unfortunately, his recent exploits with the pen such as "Venicile Vyapari", "Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal" etc., had all bit the dust. It was at this juncture that he decided to try his hand in direction with "Mariyam Mukku". It's definitely a decent effort, but his script yet again fails to convey any sort of uniqueness. It seems that he kinda got confused as to give importance to which aspect of the tale...the romantic part or the drama which unfolds subsequently & in the process he did justice to neither.

Girish Gangadharan has done a fine job with the visuals as the scenic beauty of Tangasseri was exquisitely shot. The music by Vidyasagar was disappointing though I liked the chorus part of "Kavil" rendered by Najim Arshad & Kavalam Sreekumar. None of the other aspects deserves much of a mention. Fahad has done a decent job though it didnt offer him much of a challenge. Sana Althaf was average & I didnt quite see the spark between the lead pairs. Aju Varghese's character could have been a credible one, but he was simply wasted. As for the rest, they did their parts aptly.

Verdict: With a host of releases on offer, the viewers are spoilt for choice; but even then Fahad Fazil's name should attract quite a decent initial. However, there is no doubt that the mediocre script will impact the collections that it would garner. In short, unless the other releases mess up pretty bad, I dont see this making much of a mark!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I review: "Vikram: the epitome of dedication, actually adukkum mele!!!"

In recent times, there has been no other film that has created as much hype as Shankar's "I". For a movie which has been in the making for more than 2 years, the expectations are kinda understandable especially when Shankar is at the helm of things. Over the years, the auspicious occasion of Pongal has played host to many big budget films; but I doubt whether there has been any as grand as "I". So the question is whether it would live upto the gargantuan presumptions???


The films unfolds with a grotesque faced hunchback kidnapping Diya (Amy Jackson), a super model on her wedding. As the hunchback takes the victim to his abode, the audience is provided an insight as to what had subjected him to this horrific state. A year back, he was a hunk by the name of Lingesan (Vikram) who idolized Arnold & whose long hours at the gym earned him the title of "Mr. Tamil Nadu" ; a step closer to his "Mr India" dream. However underneath that bulky frame, he had a heart that fluttered at the very sight of Diya, the numero uno in the modelling world. As fate might have it, Diya seeks the help of Lingesan for a modelling assignment which capitulates him to the top & in the process ruffles quite a few feathers. What subsequently happens is a predictable tale of revenge.

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Shankar's movies has always been larger than life made at a lavish scale that we are invariably left dumbstruck when we see it on the 70mm screen. The tale is pretty much the same here as well, however his script turns out to be inferior to the ones that he had churned out previously. The script is damn predictable & doesn't offer any sort of twists that would blow your socks off. In addition, I felt that there was an overdosage of comedy which should have been more subtle due to which the so called antagonists seemed more comical than threatening. 

As to the technical aspects, everything were just "WOW"; right from P.C Sreeram's exquisite visuals for almost all the songs to the mass stunt sequences choreographed by Arasu & Yuen Wing Poo. Hats off to the team from Weat Workshop for their brilliant make-up & prosthetics which played a significant role towards the overall impact. T. Muthuraj also deserves a pat on his back for his praise worthy art direction though I felt Llewyn Antony could have made the film a bit crisper. Last but the least, A.R Rahman's music was top notch as some of the tracks were just splendid with "Mersaalyitten", "Ladio" & "Ennodu Nee Irundhaal" being my personal favourites. 

What do I say about Vikram??? he is the heart & soul of this movie..words wont suffice the amount of dedication he has shown. He was absolutely marvelous in all the forms that he appeared right from the 85 kg hunk to the 50 kg hunchback & effectively conveys his reactions through his eyes inspite of all those prosthetics. Amy Jackson seemed quite an apt choice for the supermodel & did her best, though the lip sync could have been better. Santhanam provides the comic relief throughout & was in his elements. Suresh Gopi had a meaty role & did justice to it in his own subtle manner. As for the rest, they were average as Upen Patel could have been replaced by someone else while Ojas Ramani & Ramkumar Ganesan's characters had uncanny similarities to real life personalities.

Verdict:  It's definitely a one time must watch solely for Vikram's dedication & that too in the big screen, to appreciate the hard work that the whole team has vested into this movie. So does it live upto expectations??? well the script is definitely a let down as it's damn predictable but it has all the makings of a blockbuster. In short, watch it without much expectations & you would enjoy it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5 (but for Vikram: 5/5, even adukkum mele is justified)

Regards...Ben


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tevar review: "Script devoid of sensible tevar!!!"

We are into the 2nd week of 2015 & the first "so called" major release has hit the screens in the form of "Tevar". From the trailer itself, it was kinda evident that it belonged to the category of "South Indian remakes" that Bollywood seemed to have got addicted to. Since I was in a mood to check out something, I decided to give it a try; fully aware as to what I was getting into. So can Arjun Kapoor pull off this machismo act???


Pintu (Arjun Kapoor) belonged to the land of the Taj & was the star of their kabaddi team. Things takes a turn in his life, when he locks horns unknowingly with Gajendra Singh (Manoj Bajpayee), a known gangster in Mathura & brother of the Home Minister. Pintu gets into this mess as he tries to save Radhika (Sonakshi Sinha) who was being hassled by Gajendra over his marriage proposal. What subsequently happens as you would have rightly guessed is how Pintu & Radhika tries to escape from the clutches of Gajendra for good.

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The moment I saw Boney Kapoor's production house being mentioned in the trailer, I was pretty much sure that it would be the remake of some Telugu or Tamil movie. As expected, this turned out to be the remake of Mahesh Babu's blockbuster "Okkadu" which had released a decade back. The major flaw for Bollywood remakes is that they just try to copy it frame to frame, without even bothering to tweak it atleast a little bit. It's pretty much the case here as well as it's as predictable as you can expect (even if you haven't seen the original). I just wish Amit Ravindernath would have been much more sensible about his directorial debut. None of the technical aspects deserves a mention as it's the usual run of the mill...nothing much different from what we have seen from other remakes.

Arjun Kapoor definitely fitted the bill of the character as the unruly, no holds barred attitude...but doesn't bring anything special to the table. Sonakshi Sinha repeats her oft seen act of playing the damsel in distress & I think she can be given a Masters in it as she sleep walks through it. If at all there was someone who caught my eye, it was the talented Manoj Bajpayee who keeps you hooked with his mannerisms though it got stale after a couple of sequences. As for the rest of the cast, none of them deserves a mention except that both Deepthi Naval & Rajesh Sharma got wasted in inconsequential roles.

Verdict: With a running time of more than 2.5 hours, it does test your patience after a point of time. Since most of us would have either watched "Okkadu" or "Gilli", I dont think there is any reason why you should check this out. In short, dont bother!!!

Rating: 1/5

Regards...Ben