MOVIE REVIEW: CITY OF GOD [Malayalam]


Prelude

2011 has been refreshing for the Malayalam Film Industry. Movies like Traffic and Urumi are setting a new trend; a welcome change. This movie also carried the same expectations on it’s shoulders. Financial constraints, delay in release lead to a lack of available slots for the better theatres. My first futile attempt to watch this movie was the day the Endosulfan Hartal was on. Sadly the theatre playing the movie did not even open for first or second show that day. Grand theatre is not one of the preferred destinations to watch a movie in Kollam, considering its age, worn out seats and lack of effective air cooling. Finally yesterday I got myself to go for it, and was not too surprised to see that there were hardly 25 people in total [Don’t worry – not the movie’s fault – the general state of all movies in Kollam :)] which normally makes for a good comfortable viewing.

Trailer

Plot

Lijo Jose Pellissery (@mrinvicible) ‘s second venture after Nayakan also revolves around a powerful  character showcasing Indrajith Sukumaran’s [@Indrajith_S] acting prowess. Lijo introduces the protagonists one by one through a road accident scene where incidentally all the characters are involved. The movie then rolls into flashback….

Swarnavel [Indrajith] is a Tamil immigrant who has settled in Kochi, loves his work, enjoys his daily wages and is a happy-go-lucky fellow. His raw love and affection for a fellow worker Marathakam [Parvathy Menon] and his desire to marry her makes him run into a lot of trouble.

Soorya [Rima Kallingal – @rimakallingal] is a film actor who’s trying to make it big in the industry. She is introduced  through a dance number being shot for the movie she is acting wherein she is seen adorning an array of beautiful dresses. She has a troubled marriage and has a history of a love relation that had gone sour with a businessman – one Mr. Sony Vadayaattil [Rajeev Pillai] who is madly in love with her. He wants to rekindle the relation he had with Soorya but she doesn’t oblige. He tricks her husband into owing him loads of money so that she would eventually agree to all his needs. In addition to this, she has to deal with the perils of the casting couch.

Jyothilal [Prithviraj] is a good friend of Sony and does all the dirty work for him. When a business deal with Mr. Punnoose goes sour, Sony seeks Jyothilal‘s help to ‘deal’ with Punnoose. Out in the open in the heart of Kochi , Jyothilal jumps the gun and slays him right in front of Mrs. Punnoose [Swetha Menon]. Mrs. Punnoose seeks revenge for the death of her husband and she plays with men of power in the city to ensure her husband is avenged.

The story develops centering around the love story of SwarnavelSony’s quest for getting Soorya back into his life and Mrs. Punnoose ‘s revenge. The journey is slow at times, but the action and suspense with an unorthodox way of story telling keeps the audience interested.

Verdict

  • Lijo is renowned for his different story telling and this too is not one of the ‘characteristic’ Malayalam Box Office movie. He has dealt with an above average script by keeping the raw bloody feel of the action intact alongwith the hand held cinematography of Sujith Vasudev. Sujith’s work needs to be lauded as he keeps the movie as realistic to the viewer without letting effects take a toll.
  • This is easily another feather to Indrajith‘s already variegate character list. He literally lives the character inside out – be it his joy at his girl’s happiness, the drunk sadness of losing her or the anger against the abuse hurled at her. A complete package, and he gets across with ease to the audience. Just one blot: Indran didn’t seem very comfortable in the love making scene :P.
  • Rima Kallingal is an actor in the making. Her role was specific, yet emotionally charged. She does justice to her character. Her despondency is felt by the viewer and our heart goes out to the perils she faces [and she is looking great as usual ;)]
  • Prithviraj has a subdued character after a series of flamboyant ones in the lead role in the recent past. He is strongly focused as a goon, and yet drops his guard when he expresses his concern for his friend.  Maybe a bit less emotive would have Ironed out the character.
  • Parvathy Menon – easily my pick for the best actor in the movie. I have not seen her before and she swept me off with her comfort in her role which had a lot to offer and she justified her selection.
  • Prasanth Pillai’s background score never lets the movie lose the rustic feel it holds all throughout.
  • Rajeev Pillai looks like he is better off doing what he does best, while Swetha Menon has become adept to dealing with any role thrown at her, though I wonder why there is always a bit of seduction involved hmm.
  • Strong supporting role of Rohini needs special mention – evergreen as always.
My Rating 4 out of 5
City of God’s unconventional approach might find divided opinion among the Malayalee audience, though in my opinion, Hollywood fans will appreciate the effort put in to make this movie. (Yup, I would recommend watching it rather than star studded disappointments like Chinatown).

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.