MOVIE REVIEW: CHINATOWN [Malayalam]


Day 3 of my cold. I woke up at 0330 am to see Vishu Kani. Took a shower in the morning and went to the temple. Prayers for a better year ahead and on the way back, I remembered I was to reserve tickets for the family – to watch a Vishu release movie. Choice was limited, only 2 releases this year – Chinatown vs Doubles. Mixed reviews from the previous day, but Chinatown seemed to have edged over Doubles. So I went forth and booked for the second show.

Come evening, getting into the Archana – Aradhana theatre was hectic. The first show was JAM PACKED in both theatres. Feelings of  ‘Oh, this might just be worth it!’. With a sundae in hand, I sat amongst my cousins, surprised at the amount of family crowd that was out there for a 9pm second show.. either the Vishu effect or the 3 names this movie was riding on – Dileep, Mohanlal and Jayaram. [I go for the latter!]

An Aashirvad Cinemas production [Mohanlal’s], directed by the celebrated Rafi-Mecartin duo, the onus was always gonna be on humor and the humor went through a plateau of phases as the movie progressed.

The movie begins in the beautiful coastal state of Goa, where gambling and Casinos are legal. 4 Malayali friends were running a Casino there and minting money. In the quest for money and power, the local Goonda Mr. Gawda [Pradeep Rawat], murders all 3 of the Mallus, whilst the 4th [Mr. GomezCaptain Raju] survives.

After 25 years, Gomez is back in Goa, purchases a casino and plots revenge on Gawda. He recalls Maathukutty [Mohanlal], Zachariah [Jayaram] and Binoy [Dileep] {Children of his 3 friendsto return to Goa and manage the casino. Maathukutty is known for his avid indulgence in fights and has a number of cases registered against him; while Binoy is a guy who keeps falling in love with girls every 6 months and Zachariah has only one thought all throughout the day = MONEY!

The first half of the movie is filled with umpteen moments where one literally bursts out in laughter at the mimicry, the raw as well as the adult jokes delivered in the script. Jayaram and Dileep deliver comedy with ease, while Mohanlal seems to have lost a bit of his touch.

Kavya Madhavan [Rosamma] alongwith Poonam Bajwa [Emily] and Dipasha [Chandni] form the female trio in the movie. Rose was supposed to marry Maathukutty’s brother, but she eventually falls in love with Maathukutty. Emily is Gomez’ daughter and she pairs up with Zachariah; and Binoy has the hots for the home minister’s daughter – Chandni.

While Kavya has some substance to her role, the other two are merely involved in the merriment. Suraaj Venjarumoodu [Chandran]  as a goonda gives us both the extremes of the good and the bad of humor.

The buildup of the movie until the interval is brilliantly interlaced with humor that is so naturally depicted by all the actors and makes us go for the interval snack with the satisfaction that yes, this movie is gonna be a HIT.

Following the break, the movie does a COMPLETE U TURN to our expectations. The likening to the English movie ‘Hangover’ is strongly felt as the 3 heroes go through varying stages of intoxication as they party all night long leaving the 3 friends in a confused state on what did or didn’t happen the previous night. The sudden complicity of events took a heavy toll on the audience who were enjoying light humor until then. The ugly state of events characterized by the obnoxious Sumo wrestler who spends more screen time than any other in the last one hour, combined with the pathetic dialogues delivered by Dileep  in particular left the audience bewildered and surprised to how quickly the standard of the movie spiralled down!

To cap it all off, Jagathy Sreekumar‘s arrival towards the end of the movie as Jaggu Bhai [the biggest criminal in Goa] – oh well, no one was really bothered to figure that out by then!

Jassie Gift‘s music is foot tapping good as usual, but this will be one movie I will list among my ‘not worth watching 2011’

Kavya Madhavan on twitter: “So China Town..out n out entertainer for relax n watching..Leave ur thoughts n worries in schools n offices n come…..Sit..Relax..n Enjoy”

Final Verdict –  **1|2 out of 5. 

MOVIE REVIEW: URUMI [Malayalam]


Santosh Sivan’s 2011 venture with Prithviraj, under the banner of August Cinemas [Raju’s first production release], is the 2nd biggest budget film [Rs. 20 Crores] the Malayalam Film Industry has ever witnessed -following Pazhassi Raja. The movie released on 31st March at around 70 centres all over Kerala.I managed to be a part of this beautiful historic journey yesterday and proudly adds this to my list of must watch movies of 2011.

Director’s Take


Plot

The movie begins in a current day situation where Krishnadas [Prithviraj] is partying with his Tamil friend [Prabhu Deva]. They are broke and badly need some money, when they are approached by foreigners [via Nithya Menon] for the sale of Krishnadas’ ancestral property back in Kerala. They take up the advance to sell the place off, and head homewards to complete the sale of the property. On arriving there, they come across an NGO worker [Vidya Balan] who tries to stir his mind away from selling the property. He then gets exposed to some of the tribal men living there, wherein he is forced to listen to the history of his forefathers.

From here on, Santosh begins to unveils his magic. Shankar Ramakrishnan’s script is easy to comprehend and keeps the interest going. We are eased into the history of Vasco da Gama’s visit to Indian soil, his vested interests in Indian spices and the ugly side of the man. One of his ‘foresaken deeds’ was setting a ship that was heading on a pilgrimage on fire and drowning the natives down. The son [Prithviraj as Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar] of a brave warrior [whose attempt to kill da Gama went in vain], then makes an Urumi from the ornaments and gold of the women who were burnt alive in the ship. The pictorization of the anger and anguish in the eyes of the lad sets up the scene for REVENGE.

The little Kelu finds solace and protection at a Muslim’s house [Vavvaalli – Prabhu Deva]and they grow up together to become lifelong friends. The burning desire of Kelu to seek revenge against the foreigners, for killing his father, makes his path cross a beautiful lady warrior [Arrackkal AyeshaGenelia D’souza]. To be honest, I have never been a big fan of this girl, she is cute and spritey, my memories run back to ‘Boys’, the first film I watched of her. Their quests and goals are common, romance brews, and Ayesha buys a lot of love from the viewers.

But it is Vavvaalli who grabs all the claps in the theatre. Humor has been subtle, yet handled well, without taking away any seriousness away from the history being depicted. Jagathy Sreekumar is no doubt the Complete Actor in this movie. If ever there is an acting manual, he did justice to his role as the ‘Advisor’ to the king emphatically. Words won’t do justice to his performance. Simply brilliant.

Nithya Menon enjoys wonderful screen time as the King’s daughter; though I was not too comfortable with her accent. Vidya Balan – as a mesmerizing deity, with a seductive dance number and some impactful dialogues in Malayalam [does fairly well]. Her acting skills sidelines Nithya Menon’s role. Tabu’s guest appearance in the song.. just left me feeling, a little too old maybe ;).

Trailer

The final frontier

The epic battle, after fighting all odds, Kelu tries to take Vasco da Gama head on, and the visual treat is just brilliant. One has to take an evening off, head to a theatre and sit through 170 min. to really imbibe the Santosh Sivan stamp in Cinematography.

Raju needs to be given some slack. This is another feather to his career. I was really impressed with his work rate in this one. Santosh has tried to get the best out of him.

Genelia no doubt is my standout performer in this one. Beauty weilding a sword, slaying men all around, anger, anguish, revenge, love, fear. She portrays a lot of emotions. And as a warrior, she is simply gorgeous. It may not be the perfect movie, but it is definitely a must watch. Deepak Dev has done brilliantly with the score to keep the aura all throughout.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Links:

Urumi Official Website: http://www.urumithefilm.com/


MOVIE REVIEW: MAKE-UP MAN [Malayalam]


Shafi’s latest venture Makeup Man is the first movie of 2011 which finds home well in the genre of a complete Family Entertainer. From my following of Raju’s fan page in facebook, I was aware of the midweek release and since I had just got done with another exam, felt it would be an appropriate outlet to channel out some 2 hrs of fun. Personally I have had no hard feelings against the actor Jayaram, always enjoyed his contribution to the industry over the years and justifiably welcome his Padmashree status.

Balu [Padmashree Jayaram] is one of those blokes who is broke in life, owing loads of money to multitude of blade companies, one of them run by [Jagathy Sreekumar]. The movie begins with a bit of humor where Balu gets arrested for sneaking to his own rented house in the middle of the night, trying to avoid paying the landlord. He gets taken to the local “Mathrika” station where he gets let off when he narrates his perils. A girl Soorya [Sheela], is in love with him and runs away from home the day before her planned wedding.

Soon they go get help from Balu’s friend [Suraj Venjarumoodu], who is a production controller executive and get married at a temple with the help of some junior artists pretending to be their relatives.

In the meantime, director of the movie ‘Cinderella’, [Siddique] is fed up with the ‘actress’ the producer [Janardhanan] has brought for the movie, the female being some reality show winner. 😉 So he asks her to leave the set and decides he wont move ahead without another worthy actor instead.

Coincidentally, Suraaj arranges accommodation, just for one night for the newly wed Balu and Soorya in the room where the previous actor stayed. A purely accidental incident wherein the producer sees Soorya go into the Actress room, gets mistakenly convinced, she will be the perfect actress for the movie. In dire need of money, Soorya, who has no clue about acting tries to give it a shot, and once again, theatrically timed coincidence, convinces the director that she is the perfect one for the role.

Here on the movie picks up with real good pace, and Jayaram’s inability to stay with his wife, needing an excuse, he adorns the role of the Actress’ Makeup man, and that is how this movie develops.

As the movie grows on, Soorya becomes aware of her innate talent of acting and is unable to resist offer of a second movie. A couple of misunderstandings, strains the relation between the husband and wife so much so that Soorya aka Anamika [Filmstar name] circumstantially denies ever being married to him, so that she can sustain in the industry.

Final Verdict 7.5/10

  • Padmashree Jayaram, might have lost bit of his fluffy hair, added a couple more wrinkles to his face, apart from that, it is a typically comforting genre wherein he easily marks his territory.
  • Sheela is fantabulous as the housewife turned actress, with a well toned figure, she carries the role given to her fairly well, though when the movie started, I felt she could emote more. But overall she does well to keep our eyes glued on her whenever she had the screentime.
  • The strength of the actors in the fringe keeps the movie enticingly rich. Humor has no limits when the maestro Jagathy with his junior Suraaj are involved. Kunchako Boban and Prithviraj appear as themselves [cine actors] and are restricted to guest appearances and do justice to their cameos.
  • Siddhique needs special mention who plays almost second fiddle to Jayaram all throughout, though it was difficult to even fathom him and Sheela as a couple 😉
  • Comedy, Love, Tragedy and a happily ever after; you can definitely take your family out to this one for 2.5 hours of entertainment.

P.S. The music didn’t impress me much, hence no mention.

MOVIE REVIEW: GADDAMA خادمة [Malayalam]


Earlier this week after returning from Mangalore, I watched Arjunan Sakshi, but left the theatre disappointed, as the story had so much scope for being moulded into a blockbuster, but somehow the director seems to have missed the plot with the second half losing all the excitement and bite which the movie kicked off with.

To cover up the disappointment of a wasted 40 bucks, I decided to go for Gadamma. A Kamal movie gets its own respect. The movie is expected to carry over nice and easy to the target audience. So I had no second thoughts to catch the movie on the day of its release itself.

In Kamal’s words: “One of the biggest sources of Kerala’s socio-economic boom over the last five decades is the sweat and hardwork of our Marunaadan Malayalees who toil day in and out to earn the daily bread for their family back home. Some get the blame, the abuse if they don’t keep in touch for a bit, but little do Keralites fathom the perils of the NRI! This theme has never been presented in India in any industry, and as a Malayalee, this is the least I can do to convey our gratitude to them”

The movie revolves around a typical Malayalee girl hailing from Palakkad,  Ashwathy [Kavya Madhavan] who due to the financial constraints of her family and the unfortunate death of her husband [Biju Menon] is forced to be the bread earner of the house and opts to go to the gulf [Saudi Arabia]. One of the strictest Arab states in the Middle East, we are very well aware of the difficult living conditions for women, the amount of restrictions they have in life. She is forced to wear a Burkha at all times, and is taken up under a sponsor to work for him as a Maid.

From here on the story pans out into the numerous troubles Ashwathy faces– sexual abuse, battery. Ashwathy is accompanied by Usmaan [Suraaj Venjaarumoodu] who is the car driver at the sponsors. He indulges in a sexual affair with the Indonesian maid there and gets caught and is kicked out of the sponsor’s house. Ashwathy helps the other maid to escape the premises and in turn is battered as punishment.

One fine day, she calls it quits and tries to runaway from the sponsor’s house and in the entire second half of the movie, we see her running into some good and bad people, eventually culminating in a deportation. On a parallel, there is a Malayali social worker [Sreenivasan] who makes an effort to try and identify ‘Unknown Indian’s whose bodies arrive at the mortuary and secure their return back home. In other words, he plays out the role of a helpful social worker, who eventually helps Ashwathy also leave the damned place.

M. Jayachandran does his magic with 2 beautiful songs, though this time I felt maybe a Malayalee singer should have sang the emotional number, ShreyaG’s dictional tone kind of didn’t sync well, but then that is just my opinion 🙂

Final Verdict – 8.0

  • This is not a movie you would list to watch on a weekend after a long tiring week, cause this is no stress buster, and for the fainthearted, well it is a hard pill to swallow.
  • Any household having anything to do with a person in the Gulf, should go watch this. It is so easy to write off saying, ‘Oh, he is in the gulf, look at the wonderful life he is leading’. This movie highlights just one incident as the main, with a few more other small small issues surrounding it, and will help shed a little light on the hardships people face there.
  • No doubt, being born and brought up in the Gulf, I have heard from my mom many times about the hardship my dad faced and I dint have to think twice to go watch this. I am fairly sure everyone also agrees to the different ‘eye’ with which people look at us.
  • Sreenivasan delivers one of the strongest messages in the movie when he states. “If a small shrub is able to grow all alone fighting the scorching heat of the desert, then we as humans can even swallow the bitter pill of a ‘came to the gulf and all went wrong’, to return back home and pretend as if it was all a bad nightmare and start all over again.
  • Kavya Madhavan has carried the character brilliantly. The subtlety with which she expresses the pain and anguish through her eyes alone [in a burkha]; makes your heart go out to her. And to her credit, we can very much say, she is back with a bang.
  • This is surely one movie meant for the middle aged and above and any youngster with something between their ears.

 

MOVIE REVIEW: TRAFFIC [Malayalam]


First movie after a 3 month break and what a WAY to start 2011. Listening to a random Good morning Kerala Interview couple of days back on Indiavision,  wherein one of the casts of the film was being interviewed, just left me a little curious on what this movie is all about.

This movie centres around a sequence of events, occurring at a Traffic Island in the heart of Ernakulam, over a span of 12 hours on a September 16. Raihan [Vineeth Srinivasan] has jus gotten into a new job as a journalist at IndiaVision and is about to do his first interview – of the Movie superstar Siddharth [Rahman].  Dr. Abel [Kunchako Boban] has just purchased a new Swift to surprise his wife Shwetha [Remya Nambeeshan] on their 1st wedding anniversary. Sudevan [Sreenivasan] is a clean police constable who recently got suspended for accepting a bribe and is finding ways to clear his name and reputation.

The chain of events kick off with Raihan’s interview with Siddharth being preponed, so he decides to hitch a ride with his friend Rajeev [Asif Ali] to get to the news station ASAP. All it took is a random speeding vehicle which whizzed past at a red signal to knock them off their bike and leaving Raihan fatally injured. His imminent death is interwoven with the chronic illness [heart disease] of Siddharth’s daughter whose life could be saved if an immediate heart transplant is done.

The movie thrives on the impossible mission of trying to get Raihan’s heart from Lakeshore hospital in Ernakulam to Ahalya hospital in Palakkad, a journey of 150 km, to be completed within 2hours! The background score has a more lasting impression merely due to the wonderful script where we eagerly wait to see the mission completed. The movie bluntly deals with the inadequacies of our roads and the bribery of our Indian system, how politicians and men in power misuse the Govt. services to their use and yet they are not willing to help out the common man.

On a parallel track runs 2 stories – Dr. Abel finding out about his wife cheating with his best friend and the anger and the anguish he feels when he finds out about the infidelity. Medical ethics are also prodded and probed a bit on where exactly do we define – Saving a life or Ending one.

It’s a brilliant work by the writers Bobby and Sanjay. A very realistic approach, makes you feel at home with Rajesh Pillai’s direction, so much so that when you leave the theatre, you will feel a little more responsible next time you hit the road.  Coincidence or not that his movie has released just after we Celebrated Road Safety Week.

The ensemble of cast in this movie is brilliant. Considering almost all spend an equal amount of screen time, its clearly evident how strong some of the actors are.  My most riveting moment was Raihan’s mom reflecting over his interview on her mobile and where she sits beside him in the ICU. So subtle with emotions and yet one could feel a mother’s love.

The future of Malayalam industry is bright, if and only if we grow out of the shadows of the “Superstars” where stories aren’t made to suit them rather actors tune themselves into a good script!

I will not go on and on with spoilers, cause this movie is worth every penny.

FINAL VERDICT – 8.5 *

  • Asif Ali, Sai Kumar, Kunchako Boban and Anoop Menon are the strong performers in addition to Sreenivasan and Rahman.
  • Go and watch this movie. At a time when posters are often misleading [on a first look, it seems like a college goers movie]. It has got it all. A perfect mix of emotions and guaranteed you will find yourself applauding at some of the most electrifying moments in the 2 hours.