Movie Review: To Noora with Love [Malayalam]


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I swiped my debit card at the PVR cinemas kiosk at Lulu mall and collected my ticket. There was a huge crowd outside AUDI 5. Turns out ‘Law point’ (starring Kunchako Boban and Namitha Pramod) was playing there… I waded away from the crowd to pick my cheese popcorn tub and moved towards my AUDI 8. It was already 5 min past the start of the show time and I walked in but did not find the ticket checking dude around. I paused as I climbed the stairs to reconfirm if I walked into the wrong AUDI and that’s when the fellow rushed to check my ticket. Turns out I was the only one SO FAR to get in there. This I believe was the second show of the day after the movie released and I was shocked to find just me sitting there in the theatre.

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30min later a bunch of guys turned up and quite clearly seemed like they were here because they probably did not get any other movie tickets.

Another 10 odd people appeared a bit later and THAT was it.

With such a frugal audience and sub 20 degree theatre cooling, I was being chilled to death but wait, I am yet to start on the movie.

True this was comeback movie for Mamta Mohandas (following the relapse of her illness). The posters on social media depicted images of her portraying Noora, a vaguely familiar image to the time when the movie Anwar was released (coincidentally she was ailing too that time). So flashbacks of the Mamta of then kept coming, but this time though she has put onf a few.. as evident on her face. The makeup belied the ailing Mamta. I was empathic right from the beginning.

The story revolves around Noora, a dreamy astronomer, who loves to do a lot of good for the community, how she falls in love with Shajar (Krish Sathar) and the peculiar predicament she finds herself in when confounded with an illness during pregnancy. To Noora with love (53)

So many eminent actors revolve around Noora’s character. Mammookkaa chips in with a few light moments. Kaniha is very comfortable in her role as Shajar’s sister but yet again, maybe this movie might entice the Malabar crowd. Nedumudi Venu portrays the senior doctor treating Noora. Archana Kavi supports Noora as her best friend however for the immense amount of screen time she gets, she fails to leave a lasting effect on the audience.

Krish has a huge role throughout the movie but his acting is labored and he struggles to cope with his better half’s screen comfort.

Mamta-Mohandas-in-Noora-with-Love-(11)3918Sufi music entwined by Mohan Sitara and Vayalar S C Varma is one of the only mood relievers during the period of intervening awkwardness.

Social messages are a plenty with downtrodding of the patriarchal society and spiraling women empowerment issues. But to be honest as I walk out of the theatre, I wonder where I am supposed to find the love that remains painfully only in the title.

My rating: 2/5

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: 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.