Movie Reviews 🎥 Movie Reviews • Critique Reviews • Audience Reviews • Malayalam Films • Tamil Movies • Hindi Cinema • English Films • Entertainment • Onmanorama en Sat, 15 Jun 2019 04:26:26 GMT 'Sachin' is an exciting game where humor and love score The movie 'Sachin', starring Dhyan Sreenivasan and Anna Reshma Rajan in lead roles treats the Malayali movie goers to a beautiful tale of cricket and love, with ample doses of humor as well. The Malayalam block buster '1983' in which Nivin Pauly gave a spectacular performance testifies that movies with cricket as the central theme has always been a hit with Malayali audience. It was in the 1990s that cricket had gained incredible popularity, especially among the Indian families. However, none can deny the role that cricketing legend Sachin Tendulakar had played in making cricket, a universal emotion of an entire nation. Sachin, the protagonist was born on the day when Sachin Tendulakar had hit one of his thrilling centuries. His father who was an ardent fan of the cricketer couldn’t think of another name for his baby boy. As if fate would have it, our Sachin too falls in love with a girl whose name is Anjaly and is few years older to him. The movie portrays the breezy romance between the lead pair. However, their love has to survive many struggles. This small movie is all about Sachin’s successful effort to overcome the objection of both the families and finally win his lady love. 'Sachin,' directed by Santhosh Nair is scripted by SL Puram Jayasurya. The movie is bankrolled by Jude Agnel and Juby Ninan. It boasts of an ensemble cast featuring Aju Varghese, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Mala Parvathy, Rashmi Boban, Sethu Lakshmi, Harish Kanaran, Ranji Panicker, Ramesh Pisharady and Appani Sharath. Dhyan Sreenivasan seems comfortable in his role as a jovial cricket enthusiast. Angamaly Diaries fame Anna Reshma Rajan essays the role of Anjaly. The terrific trio Aju Varghese, Harish Kanaran and Ramesh Pisharady amazingly handles the humor department with their perfect timing and dialogue delivery. The songs and the background score in the movie are catchy. The movie captures the innocence and beauty of a bucolic countryside and portrays the rivalries between local cricket clubs. It explores how cricket becomes a ‘game changer’ in Sachin’s life. The film has a credible ending where the protagonist realizes the importance of approaching life with reason and practicality, beyond just cricket and love. There are countless moments in the movie which would surely excite the nostalgia of many who had grown up in villages playing cricket. However, cliched scenes like these sometimes become a bummer to a certain extent. Sachin is an onetime watch, if you go without the weight of expectations. Sun, 21 Jul 2019 06:46:48 GMT 'Janamaithri' is fresh, unique, and experimental 'With no superstars or young sensations and sans any item dance, this movie is definitely not a mass masala entertainer,' the film 'Janamaithri' had declared prior to its release. Like the makers have said, Janamaithri doesn't feature the tried and tested formula of a commercial entertainer. Instead, it is a pleasant movie which has genuine humour and minor suspense sequences. In short, you could easily call Janamaithri a small, experimental film which is incredibly entertaining. Title The audience gets hooked to this movie even as early as its title cards unfold. It reveals, in a unique way, how actor-producer Vijay Babu listened to the story of this film and came on board. This alone convinces the audience that Janamaithri is an experimental movie, intended to entertain as well. Besides, a brief introduction about the main characters is also given in this section. The movie begins by introducing the character named Samyuktan (Saiju Kurup) who works in a CCTV company called 'Spy Eye.' It humorously portrays the funny incidents that happen in his life as an executive of a surveillance camera company. These incidents lead him to the police department, where it takes an interesting turn. The central government has instructed all the police departments to observe a day in a year as the 'janamaithri' day. The police personnel, too, hope to gain themselves a more popular image through this. The film progresses through their discussions and plans to make it happen. The efforts of the policemen to accomplish this project provide many humorous scenes which are genuinely funny. Direction and theme Janamaithri deals with a simple theme and presents it without any over-the-top antics to make it look interesting. The film revolves around the incidents that happen in a span of a day or two. The casting of Janamaithri is spot on as it has definitely played a major role making this movie a unique cinematic experience. It ditches the usual formula of 'hero-heroine' and explores the nuances of individual characters. The direction and the overall treatment of the movie are so unique and interesting that it hardly looks like a film made by a debutant director. John Manthrickal deserves credit for showing the courage to delve into an experimental subject in his debut directorial venture. The film doesn't lag anywhere which truly is the success of a talented director. The film's tag line is 'Oru chaayakku oru jeevan' (which roughly translates to 'a life for a tea') and the director cleverly connects it to other relevant incidents as well. The director of Janamaithri is known for penning the screen plays of super hit movies like 'Annmariya Kalippilanu,' 'Alamara,' and 'Argentina Fans Kattoorkadavu.' Besides, John Manthrickal is the tenth debutant director introduced by producer Vijay Babu through his Friday Film House. Casting Janamaithri stands out for its excellent casting. Saiju Kurup has brilliantly pulled off his character called Samyuktan. Veteran actor Indran shines as SI Shibu. Actor – TV presenter Sabumon too does justice to his constable Ashraf. Vijay Babu grabs a meaty role playing Raphael, son of Panjimoottil Mathayi. Besides, actors like Kalabhavan Prajod, Sidharth Siva, Balu Varghese, Sooraj, Irshad, Manikandan, Jolly Chirayathu and Sruthi Jayan make their roles memorable ones with their excellent performances. Janamaithri is the first movie released under the banner of Friday Film House Experiments. The music of the movie composed by hit maker Shaan Rahman is quite catchy. Cinematography, too, does justice to the unique theme and treatment of the movie. The two hour long movie manages to maintain the humour quotient throughout, making it an enjoyable cinematic experience for the audience. Like the makers of the movie have claimed earlier, Janamaithri doesn't have any scenes or dialogues laden with double meanings or vulgarity. Janamaithri is definitely a comedy entertainer which can be enjoyed with your family this weekend. Sun, 21 Jul 2019 06:46:40 GMT 'The Lion King' breathes human emotion onto an epic canvas In the jungle, the mighty jungle The lion sleeps tonight. Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling The lion sleeps tonight. Disney's much-anticipated 'The Lion King' has commenced its prowl. Anticipation had been soaring ever since Disney had hinted a live-action remake of the debut film of the same name exactly 25 years later. On its surface, the latest movie delivers where it should. The creative team at the studio has made the most out of the technology of our time to painstakingly recreate every intricate piece of detail to such perfection. The jungle vistas from the 1994 original have been represented at a shot-by-shot pace with dollops of CGI and visual wizardry in additional layers. And when one says that this is a photo-realistic adaptation of the original, one notions should be different after what one felt on seeing the first trailer of the latest movie that had been released in 2018, exactly like they had in 1993 for the first instament. Surprisingly, the whole circle of life had played out in under five minutes, with side-by-side comparison to the 1994 original. By composing a scene-to-scene replica, the creators might have had the idea to bank in on the nostalgia factor of one of the greatest childhood flicks in cinema history, while at the same time, shuffle Disney’s huge cash registers. The company has had luck at this sort of an approach with its other fables such as 'Alladin', 'Dumbo', 'The Jungle Book' and 'The Beauty and the Beast', where newer iterations had a bit of alteration in some dimensions in order to prevent it from being another copied homework with slight variations. But the spectacular animation in the latest is certainly a piece of work that would rival even the 'Planet Earth' series. But this time around, David Attenborough decides to keep shut and let the animals do the talking. And this is where our piece of work slumps, while ensuring accuracy in rendering a near-perfect imitation of something from the real world. It is practically impossible to represent human emotions on these feline faces; a bane that comes with the boon of visual mastery. Musical virtuoso Hans Zimmer returns yet again, to astonish with his iconic score that had won the 1994 Oscars, much before his 'Gladiator', 'Dark Knight' or 'Inception' masterpieces. Besides the songs in the original, a few more have been added and one of it is Beyonce’s 'Spirit,' which would definitely content for the Academy’s this year. Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner bring to life a jovial Timon and Pumba running hippity hoppity through the Savannah, singing Hakuna Matata. The 2019 edition of this song sung by Donald Glover and the rest, is a hippy number that you could groove throughout the monsoon or under the shower to your heart’s content, with the same eclectic energy. Now the tables are turned when you affix the rhyme onto each of those CGI montages in the movie. The very sequence featuring Simba, Timon and Pumba swinging through the vines, dancing around in circles and embracing each other was such a joy to watch in the initial print. An acceptable trope in cartoons, it would certainly seem uncanny if represented in a real-world scenario. Our original characters were not just animals, but they were a hybrid of human and animal, a combination that’s very powerful. It touched into the mythological. When all is said and done, 'The Lion King' breathes human emotion into an epic canvas that is a colourful, expressive and emotional artwork. The visual works are unquestionably ethereal. But we miss the emotions of sheer joy and poignancy that could be read from the faces of the chirpy, hand-drawn animations of 1994. Do yourself a favour by not watching the original before pacing into a theatre next to you. Sat, 20 Jul 2019 05:48:24 GMT Aadai movie review: Rathna Kumar unravels a bold Amala Paul-starrer Aadai movie director: Rathna Kumar Star Cast: Amala Paul, Vivek Prasanna, Ramya Subramanian, Gopi Gpr The general notion is that women of old times were sacrificial and often suffered violence in silence. And unlike them, new-age women are seen as bold enough to protest and protect themselves.In the patriarchal society, covering faces or body parts is often forced upon women. It is more often choice than compulsion. Long back, the way of dressing was even connected to a person's caste status. Remember the breast tax in princely states including Travancore that stipulated that women of certain castes were slapped a certain fee to cover their breasts. While many topless protests and bare breasts outcries are in vogue now, there was one woman in the 19thcentury who had courage to stand up. And act for the future. Before knowing Kamini from Aadai, one needs to know about Nangeli, who is believed to have lived in the early 19th century at Cherthala. Nangeli, who belonged to the Ezhava caste, protested against the breast tax, which was practiced and levied on the lower castes in the state during the 1800s. Nangeli rebelled by cutting her breasts off against the practice of tax. She died of excessive blood loss, while her husband committed suicide by jumping into her funeral pyre. Following the death of Nangeli, the breast tax system was annulled in Travancore. Amala Paul starrer 'Aadai' opens with a pictorial depiction of the tale of Nangeli.Director Rathna Kumar's Amala Paul starrer 'Aadai', or dress, throws light on how the women of today should use their hard earned freedom. While his debut movie 'Meyaadha Maan' was a light-hearted rom-com, Aadai is a big leap into a serious subject. Rathna Kumar excels with his genuine approach.For commercial gains, where the directors of today tends to give superpowers to heros, the 'hero' of Aadai is Kamini, a bold and arrogant lass who runs a prank show christened 'Thoppi' in a TV channel. And her pranks are never-ending. She would dress up as Harley Quinn, the lunatic supervillain, or one similar to Dark Knight's Joker portraying her rebellious character.The film begins and sets tone with Kamini and her gang of friends and take a turn as they decide to spend a night at workplace. The interval is ushered with a shock effect – with the audience and Kamini herself at a loss to figure out the happenings of the previous night. It brings forth the general fear of women with nakedness and unfolds into a survival thriller. With a never seen before survival struggle, writer Rathna Kumar gels tension with a tinge of humour.The emotional ending may sound preachy, but the attempt is to pan our attention to the metaphor defining freedom. Amala Paul is undeniably the star here. She delivers a memorable film by pulling off a role that required both physical and mental strength with elan. Be it as the free-spirited betting maniac with an air of arrogance or the subsequent vulnerabile situation in which she lands, she has excelled in front of the camera. Ramya Subramanian, Sriranjini, Vivek Prasanna and Adiraj also justified their meaty roles.Yet another star of the movie is Vijay Kartik Kannan, the cinematographer. He smartly uses the lights and frames to camouflage the nudity with elegant restraint, giving depth to the theme of the movie. The director's vision has been aptly complimented by the cinematographer's craft. Keeping apart a few logical errors and dogmatic treatment, Aadai deserves applauds for being a path-breaker. The duration and the narration might lead slight confusion, but the freshness of the idea is commendable. Rathna Kumar has shown the guts to unravel an unapologetic Kamini to the audience. Aadai will be spoken about, for long! Sat, 20 Jul 2019 09:20:55 GMT Kadaram Kondan movie review: Vikram's KK, Ghibran's BGM and... Raaj Kamal Films' 'Kadaram Kondan' is all about internecine feuds in police, nexus between mafia and cops, double agents, deceit, car and bike chases and Chiyaan Vikram. The Rajesh M Selva directorial is also about Ghibran's captivating background score, without which it would have fallen flat. Like Kamal Hassan-starrer 'Thoongavanam', Rajesh Selva's plot and characters also are woven around an abduction. 'Thoongavanam' looms over 'Kadaram Kondan' throughout, but Vikram's double agent KK is on a roll during the entire stretch of the 121-minute movie. Depicting the life of expecting couple Vasu (Abhi) and Aatirah (Akshara Hassan), Selva drops unexpected bombshells early through the plot to keep us on a tight leash. Selva's thriller then gathers momentum to follow the twists and turns that should power a thriller. The element of intrigue is tightly woven around KK's hospital stint in the first half and how Abhi is drawn into the vortex of unwarranted troubles by helping out a bid on KK's life inside the hospital. Selva's plot goes astray in the second half but then Vikram's mass elegance carries the day. To be fair to Selva, he has panned KK's larger-than-life exploits in style. Do not be surprised if you can count easily the number of words KK utters – he hardly speaks in 'Kadaram Kondan'. Or rather, profound silence is KK's motif in the film and Selva has deftly done his part on that count. Then, amid dramatic twists and turns and innumerable faceless characters thrown into the screen with recklessness, Selva loses the plot. Then characters jump in and out of the screen and the plot with alarming frequency bordering on the chaos associated with some cartoon movies. Like, 'Thoongavanam', stunt scenes are captivating in 'Kadaram Kondan'. But unlike the former, the plot is too shaky, especially in the second half. If you pull out Vikram's KK and background score by Ghibran, then it would be a tough task for Selva's 'Kadaram Kondan', shot entirely in Malaysia, to make an impact. Selva's craft as an excellent filmmaker with an appetite for the genre of thriller is evident in 'Kadaram Kondan', though the element of a tightly woven script is wanting as the film progresses. Not a compulsive watch. Fri, 19 Jul 2019 09:19:18 GMT 'Marconi Mathai' review | A romantic ride starring Vijay Sethupathi and Jayaram Mathai has his roots in a bygone era when lovers trusted humble written words to carry their messages to their sweethearts. If you are one of those lovelorn senders who sneaked in letters inside library books and notebooks, ‘Marconi Mathai’ is your movie too. Mathai could scale any heights to find love. As a youngster, he went up the ladder to his lady love’s bedroom window. As the lovebirds shared their love and a glass of milk, her folks spotted them. They pulled down the ladder and beat up the heroine. The old flame did not die though. The bitter experience only sweetened Mathai’s life. He never married but he was in love with the world, especially everything musical. As a security guard at a cooperative bank in Anjangadi, a village so remote that even FM radio signals did not reach it, Mathai goes on to entertain those around him with a tinge of loneliness and sadness. Mathai, played by Jayaram, eventually manages to track the signals to satiate his love of music. In the process, he makes FM radio popular in the village. The achievement has unexpected consequences when Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi is invited to be a one-day agony aunt on radio. The celebrity ends up publicising Mathai’s back story in the village. Sethupathi’s portrayal of himself is integral to the plot of the movie. The leading lady is played by Athmeeya Rajan, better known for her role in ‘Joseph’. The movie also features Joy Mathew, Narain, Aju Varghese, Mallika Sukumaran, Lakshmi Priya and Devi Ajith. ‘Marconi Mathai’ is directed by Sanil Kalathil and cinematographed by his brother Sajan Kalathil. Rajish Mithila collaborated with the director to prepare the script and dialogues. Jayaram’s Mathai is all about romance, friendship and music. The movie has a treasure trove of six memorable songs. Jayaram is back in his elements, leading a feel-good family entertainer from start to finish. Fri, 12 Jul 2019 07:49:11 GMT Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo review: Some sweet truths of life Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo?, is by every means a sweet movie that cherishes on little truths of life. The movie more or less revolves around two aspects of the lead hero Suni (Biju Menon)- One that he is a mason and another that he is an alcoholic. Suni is married to Geetha (Samvritha Sunil), who had left her family to marry him when he came to work at her house. Then there is Suni’s gang of friends, who are also his fellow workers comprising his uncle Karuppayi (Alencier Ley Lopez), Thamara (Sudhi Koppa), Prasad (Dinesh Prabhakar) and Shanavaz (Mangal). While he take cares of his family, he also makes sure to spend time with his friends drinking. The only complain his wife has about him is his alcoholic habit, which, she believes, turns him irresponsible. The turn of events which actually changes his life with the alcohol factor builds the narrative. There are layers to this narrative – a political scenario at panchayat, a tea shop where laymen sit and gossip, an accident and the connecting factor, however, leads to Suni. The script penned by Sajeev Pazhoor is set in the backdrop of a village blending situational comedies and thrilling elements in the right manner. G Prajith's making style is impressive and might remind of his debut movie 'Oru Vadakkan Selfie'. The good old times Sathyan Anthikad movies may also come in way. The innocence of a village, the simple nuances of life and establishing the characters, all were perfectly set by the director. There is a balance between the realistic life of masons and dramatic familial incidents. Biju Menon, who plays the central character steals the show with his exuberant performance. His purple patch continues with each film. Samvrutha Sunil makes a fantastic return and stuns the audience with her matured performance. Samvrutha was so comfortable in front of the camera making people wonder whether she really had taken a break from the big screen. The casting was another plus point. Saiju Kurup, Sudhi Koppa, Dinesh Prabhakar, Alencier and others did justice to their roles proving the casting crew did a neat job. Shehnad Jalal's cinematography and Ranjan Abraham cuts were in the right notes giving us to feel the movie. While music is by Shaan Rahman and Viswajith, Bijibal has done the background score. The narrative has some gaping holes here and there, but it can be overlooked as the focus here is on another profound storyline. Without any big twists or turns, the movie manages to keep one engaged. With right flavours, Sathyam Paranja Viswasikkuvo is fairly enjoyable. Fri, 12 Jul 2019 09:20:12 GMT Shubharathri movie review: a simple tale well-told Shubharathri, in some ways, seem to be an extension of Vyasan K P's directorial debut 'Ayaal Jeevichirupundu'. The similarity between the two rests in the lead characters. If it was Murukan, it's Muhammed here. Both carried a goodness within them showing a desire to help the needy and release feelings of resentment or vengeance. Sounds too Godly? But Shubharathri is based on a real life story. Muhammed is sincere and generous. Having lost his father at a young age, it becomes his responsibility to look after his younger sisters and mother and he does everything he could. Though he couldn't succeed in his love life, he is a happily married elderly whose major goal is to go for Hajj. According to Islam, Hajj is one of the five pillars and all Muslims who fulfill 'certain' conditions must perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. And the certain conditions includes spiritual fitness and being emotionally happy. He makes sure to reconcile with his brother, seek forgiveness from his friend and even meets up with long lost love. Muhammed meets all these conditions and is jovial enough for the trip until the fateful night, when he encounters the stranger in his house Krishnan (Dileep). Vyasan K P presents a simple family story in an old style where he takes his own time to establish the characters in the first half and then brings in the stranger. There's drama and there are emotions. Though the lead star here is Dileep, the lead character belongs to Siddique. There is no denying the fact that Siddique is a skilled actor. He organically sinks into the character and one can definitely feel it. Thumbs up to Dileep for choosing a role that demanded less of the star and more of performance. Krishnan is a simple man with his own share of sorrows and limitations in life. There are no life altering moments, but one could constantly feel a positive vibe throughout. Shanthi Krishna and Anu Sitara too justify their roles. Saikumar, Manikandan, Vijay Babu, Sudhi Koppa, Prashanth Alex, Nadirshah, Nedumudy Venu, Indrans, KPAC Lalitha, Sheelu Abraham and Asha Sharath too deliver characters that build up the plot. While Shubharathri's musical tracks are impressive, the script could have been tighter. The scenes just before the interval evoked mood of a perfect thriller and later shifted to a Good Samaritan's tale. Apart from Ayal Jeevichirupundu,Vyasan K P has earlier written films like The Metro and Avatharam but Shubharathri stands out. To sum up, Shubharathri is a simple tale of a man and an honest approach made with lots of goodness. Sat, 06 Jul 2019 10:13:32 GMT Pathinettam Padi movie review: Life through the prism of school days He who opens a school door, closes a prison' -- Renowned French poet Victor Marie Hugo In the movie '18am Padi' aka 'Pathinettam Padi', a character rephrases Hugo's statement and says, “School is nothing but an open prison”. It is in this open prison that one moulds oneself to lead a life outside the prison. The movie opens with yet another unique school – School of Joy under the leadership of Ashwin Vasudev (Prithviraj). And Ashwin has a reason for his special initiative – his past. This past includes just his school days sans parents (a sister played by Priyamani) and his friendship with Ayyappan (Arya). His memories are linked to two schools specifically – one which gave him the freedom to choose whatever he wanted in life and the other which never gave him an option to choose, but to take what was given. While one is a Government Model boys school, the other one is a leading private school Christ International. These schools also nurtured their own gangs. Younger Ayyappan (Akshay Radhakrishnan) belongs to the former and younger Ashwin (Ashwin Gopinath) heads the latter. Apart from the school premises being close to each other, the rival gangs have just two common spaces – the bus stop and a double decker bus. In the first half, the plot pans through the characters embroiled in revenge, with a sprinkling of romance. Though a majority of parents and teachers are nowhere in the plot at this point, two teachers Joy Abraham Palakkal (Chandunadh) and Annie (Ahaana Krishna) get a major role. It so happens that Ashwin gets involved in a certain crisis and is made to leave his school and join the rival school. And that precisely changes his life forever where he happens to meet John Abraham Palakkal (Mammootty), who later becomes his mentor. However, his character was less explored. 18am Padi swells on school days, friendship, fights, love, regret and reminiscences. There's no easy going life, yet there is happiness. It invokes the idea of an educational system beyond the four walls of a classroom. The Shankar Ramakrishnan directorial has all the right flavours for youth. But his style of writing still carries the 'Urumi' influence. As a craftsman, Shankar Ramakrishnan's effort in bringing 65 actors is exemplary. He has used all of them along with the superstars in the best possible way. The movie belongs to Akshay and Ashwin and the bunch of newcomers who win hearts with their genuine performances. Cheers to Nakul Thamby (D4 Dance fame) too for doing justice to his role as a student with a negative shade. Kudos to action choreographer Kecha Khamphakdee for the full fledged action scenes, especially the fight inside the double-decker bus. Like a typical entertainer, 18am Padi too has ample number of songs. But it never hinders the flow of the movie. However, the lengthy duration is of concern. With too many subplots, the pace varies here and there. 18am Padi does not have an earth-shattering climax. The director concocts the right ingredients with dramatic tone and textured visuals. A well-made film that connects with the audience, 18am Padi is refreshing experience. Sat, 06 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMT 'Evidey' movie review: keeping one guessing On the surface, 'Evidey' is a suspense thriller about a woman's search for her missing husband but going within the core, 'Evidey' attempts to bring to light a sensitive societal issue. While the story of Evidey is by Bobby and Sanjay, the screenplay and dialogues are by Krishnan C. Just like the title of the movie hints, 'Evidey' is about knowing where one of the pivotal characters is. The film revolves around the family of a musician named Symphony Zakaria (Manoj K Jayan). Zakaria has the habit of going for performances at several places and keep his wife (Asha Sarath) updated through his letters. On a particular occasion, his letter does not come and the family suspects something fishy. Zakaria's wife and son (Shebin Benson) lodge a complaint with the police and surprisingly the very next day they get a letter. In a twist, Zakaria's wife happens to find out that the letter was not written by her husband and she along with Zakaria's father (Prem Prakash) venture out to join the missing links. The way the plot develops is interesting and keeps the audience hooked. Usually thrillers have a specific manner which barely give importance to the socio-political setting, but here the plot has varying layers to play with. Take for instance, the relationships that one needs in life or friendships that can spoil life and even the parents inspiring kids leading to a much bigger situation. It also brings in hues with Sooraj Venjaramood's character, who enters the space effortlessly. Asha Sarath stands out as a bold and decisive mother and wife. She is firm and fierce yet vulnerable, playful and charming. Evidey will be a big break for actor Shebin Benson who takes forward the movie to the climax sequences. Prem Prakash, Baiju, Manoj K Jayan all come up with remarkable performances. It is these actors who help us tide over the faults in the screenplay. Every time as we are left with questions, the heartfelt performances come in convincingly. But the treatment may seem to be one like a daily TV soap stretching it as a melodrama at some portions. K K Rajeev's stamp of old school filmmaking is visible along with Ouseppachan's songs. But it's the placement of the songs that hindered the flow of a thriller. It's refreshing to see the frames by Noushad Shereef as well. Evidey is officially the first project from Holiday Movies, a coming together of three legendary film-makers- Joy Thomas (Jubilee Productions), Prem Prakash ( Prakash Movietone) and Thommikunju ( Maruthi Pictures). The film delivers on its promise – one with a simple, short and powerful message that keeps you guessing until the end. Fri, 05 Jul 2019 02:48:56 GMT Kakshi: Amminippilla movie review | Wedding on Earth or Heaven? Reports say that divorce cases are on the rise in contemporary Kerala. And studies point out that the actual reasons behind the cases are often very minor, to the point of being ridiculous, like the obesity of the partner or even the snoring ! And there are families who refuse to read the signs of the changing times and try to manipulate the lives of their offspring by pushing them into disharmonic matches. The case file of Kakshi: Ammninipilla opens in the context of these bizarre realities. The film deals with the struggles faced by a lawyer from Thalassery who takes up a divorce case and about the couple involved in the case. Shajith is an average Malayali young man, Ammini being his pet name given by the family members. He is forced into an arranged match as soon as he arrives from the Gulf. The marriage lands in troubled waters from the very beginning. Shajith finds the bride a far cry from his dreams and insists on getting an immediate divorce. But, the bride has no plans to part from him. The film meanders through the attempts made by the lawyer, Adv. Pradeepan Manjoly, to obtain a divorce for Ammini. The film that revolves around humour and sentimental moments is directed by a newcomer, Dinjith Ayyathan. Produced by Riju Rajan under the banner of Sara Films, ‘Amminipilla’ has a script written by Sanilesh Sivan. Asif Ali appears as a lawyer in the film, which is a first in his career. The other important members of the cast include Ahmad Siddique, Basil Joseph, Vijayaraghavan, Nirmal Palazhi, Sudheesh, Sreekanth Murali, Harish Kanaran, Mamukkoya, Unniraja, Sudhi Paravoor, Aswathi Manoharan, Shibila and Sarasa Balussery. Bijibal and Arun Muraleedharan have set the music to the lyrics by Rafeeq Ahmed, background score by Jakes Bejoy. Cinematography is by Bahul Ramesh while editing is done by Sooraj E.S. The first half of the film succeeds in drawing the viewers closely through the beauty of Thalassery as well as by exploring its culinary heritage. The second half centres around the court scenes more or less. The film has managed to create the court scenes with a lot of originality. It ends at the unexpected turn of events that takes place on the day of the final judgment after long days of arguing the case. Ahmed Siddique has shown ample justice to Amminipilla whose character is fickle, while the lawyer who tries to balance his career with political ambitions is safe in the hands of Asif Ali. Shibla has beautifully portrayed the character, Kanthi who is Amminipilla’s wife. The comedy numbers of Basil and Nirmal Palazhi helps to keep the flow of the film. Another positive trend that is visible in Malayalam cinema is the increasing acceptance for ‘plus size’ heroines, subtly sabotaging the conventional notions about the heroine figure. Another recent hit, ‘Thamasha,’ also had strong portrayals of women who were bold enough to ignore body shaming and go on happily with their lives. Even though ‘Amminipilla’ has no complicated twists or turns of the plot, the final revelation on the warmth of wedded bliss can provide the viewers with a hearty experience. The film ends with the message that understanding is the key to a good married life. In short, even though the film has multiple layers of meaning, it is accessible to viewers of all categories without the load of hefty criticism. Sun, 30 Jun 2019 04:11:23 GMT 'Annabelle Comes Home': All fluff and moody With the quality of horror films slipping notches below expected standards, director Gary Dauberman's "Annabelle Comes Home" seems like a welcome change, despite not offering any path breaking moments. The film begins with a prologue on how the married paranormal investigators, Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) brought home the possessed Annabelle doll and lock her in a glass case in the artifacts room of their suburban Connecticut home. Years later, the Warrens plan an overnight trip. So, they leave their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) in the care of a teenage babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). During a visit to the local store, they meet Daniela, Mary Ellen's friend who is suspicious and curious about the Warrens' ghost-busting profession and she unexpectedly joins the duo back home. In fact she is really pursuing her own agenda. Still grieving over the loss of her father in a traffic accident, Daniela comes to the Warrens house with the hope of reconnecting with her dead father. She stealthily sneaks into the artifacts room and after stumbling upon the doll, Annabelle, she unlocks the glass case and subsequently the doll goes missing. This sets the ball rolling for a series of unwarranted horror action sequences that take place within the Warrens' maze-like home. With atmospheric visuals, there are ample eerie moments in this insular chamber-piece drama that make you jump out of your skin. The creaky doors, the flash in the pan apparitions, the sudden attack by the spirits, the horror effects are aplenty. But then, with so many earlier films of this genre, every action, reaction and fright sequences appear repetitive or give you a feeling of déjà vu. After the interval, you wonder, like the bewildered Daniela says, "What's happening?" With light and sound effects, the narrative proceeds to deliver scary moments, in silos, one after another in a very mundane and perfunctory manner. The entire one-day proceedings appear stretched, superficial and hollow. And the tale wraps up in a muffled and inconspicuous manner. Overall, "Annabelle Comes Home", is an all fluff, moody film that one can enjoy on a leisurely afternoon if you have nothing better to do. Sat, 29 Jun 2019 11:09:19 GMT Luca review: Tovino, Ahaana steal the show “One does not need a partner on bed for 10 hours, rather one needs a partner who can sit and listen for at least 10 minutes,” is how Thalaivasal Vijay's character tries to convince his junior cop Akbar (played by Nithin George) with a troubled marital life. And while destiny has a different route for Akbar, he is somehow influenced or made to cross path with our hero Luca. Akbar has a dejected past with his love life, but overcoming that he marries Fathima (Vinitha Koshy). With the past lingering on, Akbar finds it hard to cope up with his married life. And that's when he is asked to investigate a case associated with Luca (Tovino Thomas). Luca is a popular scrap artiste and his artistic work brings him closer to his lady love Nihaarika Baneerjee (Ahaana Krishna). They fight at an art exhibition and get to know each other and later fall for each other. When Nihaarika learns that Luca is thanatophobic and necrophobic (fear of death and dead bodies), she tries to do everything to make him happy till the 'end'. What strikes Akbar is Luca's positivity towards work and his life. And that's when he realises that his investigation has taken a U-turn. The best thing about the movie is that art and certain props is given a life-like character. Be it the rains, the first drawing, the 'proposal' rose, the diary written by Nihaarika or even the cat at Akbar's house, it's through such things that the plot take shape. Cheers to art director Anees Nadodi and costume designer Remya Suresh for making the movie colourful. There is a freshness to the treatment and the visuals by Nimish Ravi and music by Sooraj S Kurup deserves special mention. The movie shines in parts but blurs on some occasions. Before the release of the movie, debutant director Arun Bose had revealed that he had approached Tovino Thomas with this script sometime in 2014 and Luca has close similarity to Imtiaz Ali's 2014 movie Highway. Tovino effortlessly steps into the shoes of the lovable superman and he might remind you of Dulquer Salmaan from Charlie. But that's another side of his to be explored. Ahaana Krishna looks pretty with cool outfits and Luca may mark her as her best so far. Debut actor Nithin George perfects his dialogue delivery and so does Vinitha Koshy with her naive and sober characterisation. Though the climax brings in a link between two deaths, it asked for more. There are certain moments that definitely lift the mood and Luca is heavily backed by art and creativity. Sat, 29 Jun 2019 03:55:00 GMT 'Kabir Singh' review: 'Arjun Reddy' reloaded Remakes, more often than not, disappoint. This one doesn't. "Kabir Singh" doesn't quite better its precursor, the astonishing game-changing Telugu film "Arjun Reddy". And really, Shahid Kapoor is no patch on Vijay Deverakonda, who sweated, bled and urinated (literally) into his despicably misogynistic character, investing into this weird thoroughly reprehensible child-man, a kind of contemporary resonance that makes for a bizarre blend of Devdas, James Dean and all the rebels without a pause that we have encountered before and after Amitabh Bachchan's Angry Young Man. The question is, Kabir Singh (nee Arjun Reddy) ko gussa kyon aata hai? Not unlike Naseeruddin Shah's Albert Pinto, Shahid Kapoor's Kabir Singh is a very troubled livid man threatening, swearing, drinking and fornicating his way through a life and support system. It makes you wonder why Kabir has it. The life and the support system. It is strange beyond all definition of strangeness that this thankless, self-absorbed, foul-mouthed and ill-tempered Kabir is loved and protected by a cordon of family, colleagues and best friend Shiva (Soham Majumdar) who seem to see some sort of sublimity behind Kabir's uncouth behaviour which we the audience can't. It's not easy to like Arjun or his revamped avatar Kabir. The character is so flawed and fractured, so fuelled and felled by its own inbuilt anger that every move he makes seems one more step towards self-annihilation. The writer-director gives his anti-hero the full slowburn treatment. There is no effort to show Kabir in a kind light. And that's for the best. The only way we can accept this 'protagonist' is if we don't analyse his raging aberrations. It takes all sorts to build this godforsaken universe that we occupy. "Kabir Singh" is as low-level as it gets for humanity. Not surprisingly, Kabir, a senior intern in a medical college, succeeds in bullying the timid, tremulous medical student Preeti into believing he has fallen so passionately in love with her, she must reciprocate in kind. What follows is an embarrassing array of stalking scenes and a stream of smooches and lovemaking, all indicating a very high level of subverted intensity in a man whose morals equal that of an alley cat. The brilliance of this film about rebellion, love and self-destruction, resides in the rawness of the scenes and the hurtful nature of words that characters use against one another. The dialogues capture Kabir's shocking lack of self control. In the second half, when Preeti has rightly dumped Kabir, he asks a female friend, a Madhuri Dixit lookalike (Nikita Dutta) if she would like to satisfy his "physical needs" with no strings attached. This obnoxious offer is made in the tone of a demi-God bestowing a favour to a subject. Shahid plays this toxic intoxicated man with a furious flair for seething emotions. His Kabir simmers with discontent. But the performance lacks the freshness of what Vijay Deverakonda brought to the character in the original Telugu version. Also, I felt the venomous emotions, though expressed with a disturbing sincerity, never quite reach Shahid's eyes. Here is an actor in full control of his character's uncontrollable emotions, not quite able to process those emotions to their fullest. A flawed, but nonetheless remarkable performance. That the character obtains his redemption at the end is only because the screenplay wants to be kind to him. This man deserves no second or third chances. Making the redemptive moment unbearably undeserved is Kiara Advani, whose emotional outburst at Shahid's reformative whining flies everywhere as though making a last-bid effort to match her co-star's ongoing hysteria, like a man PMS-ing throughout the month (Kabir's best friend's description). Though at times, "Kabir Singh" gets as flawed as its protagonist, it is nonetheless one of the most important films in living memory, right up there with "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Rang De Basanti" in divulging what the young urban Indian male thinks of the plans life makes for him. "Kabir Singh" is the classic middle-finger film. Its hero is so consumed by his anger, he can't see how angry he makes others feel with his insensitive behaviour. At the end, we are left feeling as bereft as the people who stand by Kabir. They don't deserve this. But we do. Sat, 22 Jun 2019 05:13:54 GMT 'And The Oscar Goes To' review: In pursuit of dreams and passion 'And The Oscar Goes To' is about pursuing your dreams and passion. The film directed by Salim Ahamed, sees Tovino Thomas playing the role of a struggling filmmaker. And we have seen many such stories like Udayananu Tharam and Monsoon Mangoes. But then, the filmmaker here is focused and becomes successful and success seems to have come too early. Isaak Ebrahim (Tovino Thomas) is born at a hospital adjacent to a theater. The sound from the theater is apparently the beginning of life for movie lover Isaak. And the inspiring movies include one like Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, Vidheyan, Manichithrathzhu. Isaak is a man of few words and is inspired by people around him. In a scene, Isaak sits at a tea shop and while the owner boasts that many directors like Sathyan Anthikad and Priyadarshan have sat at his shop and went on to become directors, Isaak chooses to remain silent. Before leaving he tells the man, “I know you simply blabbered about other directors but you don't have to do that in my case. You can confidently say that director Isaak Ebrahim had tea from your shop.” But the filmmaker's struggle does not end with filmmaking part. It involves taking the film to the big screen and showing to audience. And more than that, it is about how Isaak takes his film to the Academy and the effort behind it. Salim Ahamed made his directorial debut with 'Adaminte Makan Abu'. He won the National Award for it as the Best Feature Film and it also won top honours at 2011 Kerala state awards. It needs to be mentioned that Salim Ahamed’s debut film ‘Adaminte Makan Abu’ was chosen as India’s official entry for the best foreign film category in the 84th Academy Awards. So joining the dotted lines, it seems evident that he has taken inspiration from his own life. There are two aspects about the movie. One is the filmmaking process and the other is keeping the art away from real life. While the former signifies that money is an integral part in the art business, the later signifies that humanity defines art. The biggest strength of 'And The Oscar Goes To' lies within the team. The actors -- Siddique, Anu Sithara, Salim Kumar, Appani Sarath, Nikki Hulowski, Sreenivasan - everyone manages to create an impression. And Tovino Thomas carries a major portion on his shoulders. With a controlled performance, Tovino is as convincing as a struggling director. In a scene, the actor is seen craving for food but he is in a predicament in which he can't have food. His character is one who doesn't show his emotions openly. Only Tovino, with his pleasing persona, can manage to take up the restrained role so well. The visuals by Madhu Ambat is a treat to watch. The top shots, the use of lights (especially in the scene between Tovino and Siddhique where he confesses that he's been starving) and the changing colour tones deserves a special mention. The score by Bijibal and Resul Pookutty's sounding gels well with the mood. Certain scenes are depicted as naturally as it could be like the one where Isaak sits at Prince's (Siddhique) house and eats and when he visits Moidikka's (Salim Kumar) house. The pace of the movie beomes a problem times with too much melodrama in the second half. But then, like it's said in the movie, a film has it's own pace and life. Sat, 22 Jun 2019 03:52:43 GMT Unda movie review: Potent film-making, poignant message Mammootty-starrer 'Unda' is a potent film with a powerful message. This is a story of cops, but not supercops. And the megastar is also a hapless cop, probably forced to opt for this profession for a livelihood. So there is no daredevilry and macho performances, as you would expect in a movie which has a central character woven for Mammootty, and that too as a cop. The cops are all ordinary folks, including Mammootty's Mani, who is just a middle-aged sub-inspector. By his own confession, Mani has had to never even attempt to chase down a petty thief or crack a murder case. But the significance of 'Unda', which could be colloquially interpreted in the context of the movie as a bullet, is that these local cops are out for a loftier mission in the naxal-infested terrains of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. 'Unda' delivers a poignant message on that count. After 'Anuraga Karikkin Vellam', Khalid Rahman has again attempted to construct the plot around a cop. And like it, 'Unda' is not a police story as such. If 'Anuraga Karikkin Vellam' is about familial ties with a tinge of romance, 'Unda' explores a loftier message, though there is an interplay of these factors in the context of the the bigger theme. What happens A bunch of cops from Kerala is assigned for election duty in a remote village in Bastar in Chhattisgarh. The cops are ill-equipped physically and mentally, with no one having a semblance of training to deal with strife-torn situations. All they know to do well is probably lathi-charge, a favourite pastime during politically surcharged agitations in Kerala. These cops, from different backgrounds and dealing with their own petty domestic issues, land in the rugged socio-political terrain without knowing the magnitude of the task they have to deliver. Conducting an election in a remote polling booth in a Maoist stronghold is not at all an enviable task. And that too without enough ammunition, protective gear or knowledge of the terrain. Only at the interval break, these cops, who are oblivious of the danger they are engaged in, get a taste of what is in store. And now the realisation dawns that none of them, including the group head, are equipped to deal with such a herculean task. The plot then explores their personal travails and follies and also exposes their pettiness as humans. The cops in them seldom come to the fore, except in the climax. The detour of the plot is where the lofty message of 'Unda' is nestled. That again is of an interplay of man-made social disasters woven in a political context. The lesson 'Unda' subtly powers the message that political masters are more to be blamed than dreaded Maoists in the lawless red corridors of the country. Even the lone ITBP personnel who is guiding the cops from Kerala in the nondescript polling booth in Chhattisgarh has never faced a Maoist. That is his own confession, not our interpretation. But the depth of that confession perhaps won't strike you or rather you would be destined to believe that it was just a one-liner of no significance. That is till realisation dawns. The film-makers have succeeded in bringing out a neat interplay of political messages and personal travails. In the process, they have captured the dense socio-political realities of poverty and social alienation which the hapless populace of the tribal belt are required to encounter on a day-to-day basis. While security forces see locals as Maoists, the latter suspect them to be police informers; meanwhile, sandwiched between them, the natives are probably fighting a losing battle in the land, soil and water which they own. A different film Prashant Pillai's music captures the essence of the social upheaval in the hinterland of alienation. The realistic approach of the film-makers, though, had to give way for some unrealistic action scenes, but this could well be pardoned. There is no heroine in 'Unda', but again there was no need for one either, given the trajectory of the plot. 'Unda' is not a commercial pot-boiler or a star movie. But it throws up a poignant message. 'Unda' is valiant film-making despite its pedestrian flaws. Fri, 14 Jun 2019 11:29:03 GMT Virus movie review: spreading positivity Virus begins with quick cuts. A family packs up bags and just as it leaves, the phone rings. The collector is informed that the medical college is running out of ventilators. The scene then smoothly cuts into an aerial shot of Kozhikode Medical College and from there again cuts off to a bunch of boys playing football. Director Aashiq Abu takes the audience swiftly into the plot involving medical college, doctors and patients. And in little time, we are let into the scary world of Nipah virus and the consequences of its outbreak. There is a team involved here and the responsibility lies with the health minister (Revathy) and the collector (Tovino). Along with them comes in a doctor from Manipal Institute of Virology (Kunchacko Boban) and district health secretary (Poornima). The list does not end there and that's when the team realises that there are real unsung heroes around it. Casting of Virus is just perfect right from where it begins with Sreenath Bhasi to Indrajith to Parvathy to Rima Kallingal and where it ends with Zakariya. The movie's biggest asset lies in its balancing of characters, bringing out the real life account of the epidemic spread by Nipah virus. None is playing the lead and hence the totality of the film leads with how the characters are developed. Be it Joju George's character or Savithri Sreedharan's - it has an emotional treatment. The best thing about Virus is that it has got many stories full of life attached with the epidemic rather than just portraying the outbreak and survival. There are accidents, blood, bodies, and moreover fear, but never in the least possible manner it will panic you. Virus is not a documentary model of making, rather it's neatly woven with commercial aspects too in it. Writers Muhsin Parari, Sharafu and Suhas deserve praise for it's the screenplay that gets going. The manner how the plot is framed and a thread is outlined can be done only with a thorough research and findings and the writers and director have managed to bring it in the best possible way. Cheers to Rajeev Ravi and his team for bringing out the best visuals for Virus along with Sushin Shyam's background scores. The pace of the movie might not please everyone, but overall it sticks to what it was made for and spreads uniting all on a good note. A must watch indeed! Sat, 08 Jun 2019 02:08:23 GMT Tamasha review: a simple and powerful take on what is no longer funny Is there anyone who hasn’t been mocked for their looks, at least once in their lives? Well the answer would definitely be ‘no’. Tamasha directed by debutant Ashraf Hamza is a beautiful journey through the life of Sreenivasan, a college professor, who is worried about his receding hair line. He is a simpleton who loves to live his uneventful life happily. Sreeni is constantly rejected at the wedding market for his baldness. Though he may appear as a comical character for those around him and for the audience as well, Sreeni becomes one of us as the movie progresses. The title Tamasha may seem simple and straightforward. However, this small movie holds its fort with a unique theme and its excellent execution. The director didn’t give the title Tamasha to the movie, in the sense that it is a throughout comedy entertainer. Tamasha effortlessly breaks the stereotypes about looks and physical appearances and even humorously take a dig at them. Vinay Forrt has done an impeccable job as the good hearted Sreeni maash. It would be right to say that his portrayal of Sreeni maash is the actor’s most amazing performance so far. It is Vinay who seamlessly carries the movie on his shoulders. The actor has lived, on screen, as the soft spoken Malayalam professor. The director too has been able to portray the wonderful theme in the most honest way. Leading ladies Divya Prabha, Grace Antony and the newcomer Chinnu deserve credit for essaying their well written roles with perfect charm. The incredible coordination and comic timing between Vinay Forrt and Navas is just spot on. Navas who received appreciation for his role as an auto driver in the critically acclaimed movie Sudani From Nigeria shines as Raheem in Tamasha. Tamasha also features an array of actors who stun the audience with their commendable performances. Arun Kurian, the actors who play Sreeni’s parents and the actress who essayed the role of Ameera deserve special mention. The beautiful music created by the magical duo singer Shahbaz Aman and composer Rex Vijayan is the soul of the movie. All the songs amazingly suit the plot and do justice to the theme. The scintillating frames of Samir Thahir masterfully capture the real beauty of the meandering lanes of Ponnani and are truly a visual treat. The two hour long movie, which introduces us to familiar characters and situations, in a light hearted mood, does not lag at any point. It seems the director must have deliberately named his protagonist as Sreenivasan. There is a scene in Tamasaha when the heroine asks, “Is this still a joke for you?” to a youngster when he posts a picture from the movie Vadakku Nokki Yantram, below one of her photos in Facebook. Tamasha loudly proclaims that such jokes are no longer valid in this age of modernity and reasoning where people deserve to be appreciated for their values rather than their looks. Thu, 06 Jun 2019 09:18:50 GMT Thottappan movie review: A world that is engagingly artistic There are umpteen stories set in the backdrop of the grimy isles off Kochi coast. 'Thottappan' is one among them. Directed by Shanavas K Bavakkutty, the film stars Vinayakan, Roshan Mathew and Priyamvada Krishnan in lead roles. The rustic environs are enchantingly explored with a realistic take on the mundane life in the hamlet. The characters dwell and act breathing in the hue and smell of the wetland soil. With smatterings of engaging social connects, friendships and humour the movie gets off to a promising start. The canvas of the drama is seen zealously spread out as the plot evolves. And soon, we get completely absorbed in that magic. We truly enjoy the friendships of Itthaq (Vinayakan) and Jonappan (Dileesh Pothan). Apart from manual labours, the duo ekes out a living on thefts and bootlegging. Jonappan grants Itthaq the role of a Godfather ('Thalathottappan' in local parlance) to his daughter Sara at her baptism against the wishes of his wife. However, casting an abrupt end to their joyful run Jonappan disappears from the place in suspicious circumstances. Thereafter, Thottappan takes care of Sara and supporting her becomes his life's mission. The story revolves around Thottappan's bonding with Sara and their wait for Jonappan to return. The movie based on a story by Francis Noranha in the same name progresses absorbingly enough mid-way through. The entry of Esmail (Roshan Mathew), the romantic interludes and the clashes all gel well into the storyline. But, the latter half, which staggers a bit, end up as loosely wound shreds of troubles and turmoils. Though Bavakkutty manages to ease through with captivating sequences, he has to conclude the movie with a macabre climax. The story is as much of Thottappan as Sara (Priyamvada Krishnan) and Esmail. Meanwhile, there are innumerable nameless characters who hold prominence and contribute immensely to the life of Thottappan's world. We even get closer to the cat and the dog in the movie. Thus the backdrop has everything to shape a brilliant piece of cinematic art. Art it remains but emotionally it falls short of touching the peaks Bavakkutty intended. Though it drops dollops of pangs occasionally. It's undoubtedly Vinayakan who stands out among the crowd as far as acting is concerned. He dishes out nothing more or nothing less than what Thottappan ought to be. But then, watch out for Priyamvada. She is undeniably a budding star on the horizon. With her intense looks, understanding of the character and perfectly pitched nuances of a seasoned actress, no one will believe it is her debut in 'Thottappan'. Meanwhile, Roshan Mathew reprises the role of Esmail with required depth and finesse. Dileesh Pothan, Sunil Sukhada, Manoj K Jayan, Lal, all play their part with immense precision. Script by PS Rafeeque deserves praise for the seamless dialogues. Cinematography by Suresh Rajan, while absorbing the life and hues of Thottappan's islet, renders a magical brilliance to the scenes. There are several moments in the movies where nature paints its own feelings expressly. Lyrics penned by Anwar Ali, Ajeesh Dasan and PS Rafeeque are beautifully composed by Leela L Girish Kuttan. Though you may not get an emotional high, the movie is watchable for its artistic suaveness. Thu, 06 Jun 2019 11:53:47 GMT Suriya's NGK review: Confessions of a conceptually confused polity Director Selvaraghavan is entering the political terrain with NGK, starring Suriya, Sai Pallavi and Rakul Preet. Political terrain as in the politics of politics, rather than the politics of relationships et al, which he has previously explored through the dark shades of his canvas. Political satire indeed demands immense focus on the plot and dialogues or monologues, but in Nandha Gopalan Kumaran, or NGK, the plot goes astray. So when a highly educated youth gives up his vocation to dabble in farming and do good for the society, we are in familiar terrain. As NGK stumbles upon the stark realities of life through the prism of the common folk's difficulties, realisation dawns that politics is omnipotent. It can do wonders, NGK realises after an old mate just unlocks a tough scenario in a local government office with just a phone call. But then his doting mother tries to dissuade him from entering from the din of polity, for it is a demon you ride but you can get out only as a corpse. NGK overrules his mother and gets the consent of his wife, Sai Pallavi to take the plunge. Selvaraghavan then attempts a bit too much to unravel the shady corridors of political power, but mostly ends up with dragging scenes and non-too-impressive dialogues. The first half of NGK gives us more of an impression that the attempt is more about political satire. There are no mass scenes and not enough colour to carry the plot. Perhaps realising this, the director plunges into some mass scenes and even unleashes a mix of some glitz, glamour and Rakul Preeth to make Suriya sing and dance to the tune of Yuvan Shankar Raja. From then on it is commotion and chaos. It is full of emotive fury and the plot wanders to unwarranted terrain. The message, if any, of NGK, is obvious and hence there is no curiosity factor at play. Selvaraghavan perhaps tried to mix too much elements in NGK than sticking to his strengths, though there are glimpses of brilliance that come into play. But these are not consistent, as the frames wobble to expose the shallow plot. Suriya and Sai Pallavi can claim to have attempted to justify the director's innate belief in himself. NGK is not a booster shot to fans or the connoisseurs. The attempts to weave in contemporary elements of Dravidian politics are not convincing. NGK leaves the viewers as conceptually confused as its plot is. It falls in no man's land though the political message of the movie is redemption, or a new awakening. Fri, 31 May 2019 10:14:42 GMT Ishq review: Shane and Shine in a saga of love and passion The Arabic word Ishq often denotes love and passion, centred around a hero and heroine. But unlike old tales of romance, the Malayalam movie Ishq explores the definition of the word. Ishq goes beyond the cliched romance narrative of meeting, chatting and kissing, and focuses on the trope of 'immorality'. Sachi (Shane Nigam) is head over heels in love with Vasudha (Ann Sheethal) and so is she. While both are looking forward to spending time together, Sachi's family is gearing up for his sister's (Swasika) wedding. With a supportive and understanding mother (Maala Parvathi), Sachi finds a perfect day to propose to his lady love with a ring. They manage to spend quasi-happy day until they meet Alvin (Shine Tom Chacko). Unlike the movies that amplify the qualities of a protagonists, here the lead character's milieu is woven around 'morality'. The first half briefly tells about Sachi and Vasudha's relationship and how Sachi would even pick up a fight with a stranger who stares at his lady love. He would even ask his friends to thrash the guy who touched their sister. And if someone dares to come near his girl, he has his own standard operating procedures. The narrative criss-crosses from love to revenge and that's where the movie Ishq grips on. Shane Nigam, right from the flamboyant lover to spunk hero, shines at poignant moments of the film. Ann Sheetal's performance is laudable but her character gives an impression that it lacks depth at times. But it's her character --a special mention for the climax sequence -- that takes the movie to an elevated zone from mediocrity. Equally impeccable was actor Shine Tom Chacko's performance. The sequences inside Alvin's house with his wife (Leona Lishoy) and kid might remind us of many other movies, but it strikes a chord with the viewers. What hinders the flow of the movie is the contradictions of the plot where viewers are revealed about the whereabouts of Alvin, while Sachi is kept in dark. There seems to be a few loopholes in the screenplay by Ratheesh Ravi, but director Anuraj Manohar patches it up with his craft, ably assisted with some amazing shots by Ansarsha. Cheers to composer Jakes Bejoy too as music had a crucial part setting the mood from a love drama to a thriller. The scene where Shane sits on his couch and Shine on the floor is perhaps a reminder to the attitude of the so-called 'morally correct' individuals. Without diverting from its serious note, Ishq wins heart for the subtle nuances through which it tried to differentiate between 'love' and 'passion'. Fri, 17 May 2019 11:02:29 GMT 'Ayogya' review: Vishal-starrer is better than Ranveer's 'Simmba' For those who were wondering why a third version of the same rape-and-retribution story that was filmed earlier in Telugu as "Temper" and in Hindi as "Simmba", here's the answer. 'Ayogya' betters both by leaps and bounds. It is what remakes are meant to be. Strong, adventurous, assertive and muscular. As directed by first-timer Venkat Mohan (with, I suspect, major help from the film's leading man), the story of a seedy cop who turns a new leaf after a rape incident, is turned into a triumph of transformative cinema. 'Ayogya' is powerful in its persuasive tempo and almost a frantic attempt to keep our attention from straying. What Vishal, in superb athletic form, does is to change the punctuation marks from the earlier films, play around with the dramatic episodes so that the film's take on the theme of finding one's conscience acquires an all-new life and vigour. As played by Vishal, the cop Karnan is a spoilt brat who cannot help demand attention all the time. He falls in love with an animal-loving Raashi Khanna (nice touch that, because when we see her surrounded by innocent canines her own guilelessness shines through). Scenes of courtship have been curtailed prudently and strangely the song breaks are not unwelcome. The item song with Sana Khan (mischievously referred to as 'Sunny Leone' by our hero), has Vishal moving in with his dance steps that will bring the house down. Rightly, Vishal focuses on his character's leap from corruption to redemption, with the redemptive elements in the plot rightly dominating the proceedings. Even more wisely, the rape crime that is a turning point in the story has been given much more space here in the Tamil version than the Hindi or Telugu versions. There are shrieking references to the Nirbhaya episode. While calling attention to the heinousness of the crime, "Ayogya" never seems exploitative. It is exaggerated in its zeal to communicate its righteous indignation (and one pre-climactic "Drunken Monk" fight would make even Vishal's staunchest fans dizzy). But the film never loses its zing and sting. Most significant of all is the change in the climax that pitches the story of the cop-hero's conversion into the sphere of instant iconisation. I'd rate the film's unexpected ending as one of the most fabulous final hurrahs in living memory. The larger-than-life tale is told with a sufficient amount of self-assurance. The cocky cop's initial self-seeking strategies are put forward by Vishal rigorously, He is a scene stealer all the way to the end and far better at creating a graph from grin to grim for the cop's character than in his earlier films. Vishal literally slays it in this arresting adaptation of a story where the cop's childlike attention-seeking gimmicks make way for a yearning to be saluted by the one most honest and incorruptible character in the film. Vishal gets that salute from the righteous veteran cop (K.S. Ravikumar). And we second that. Sat, 11 May 2019 11:08:05 GMT 'Student of the Year 2' movie review: A splashy bore In a film that runs on and on, almost as fast as its agile leading man, for nearly two and a half hours, "Student of the Year 2" (SOTY 2) leaves us with nothing except repeated visuals of youngsters pouting, preening and posing for the camera. But the absence of any tangible takeaways in this designer version of Mansoor Khan's "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar", should be the least of our worries. Six years back when Karan Johar directed "Student of the Year", we all wondered what kind of educational opportunities awaits a nation where cinema propagates a classroom-free academy replete with colour, music, banter, flirtation, courtship... Everything except sex and education. Yes, Karan Johar and his director Punit Malhotra want us to believe that these unrealistically groomed youngsters who look like they were born in the arms of Gucci, believe in immaculate conceptions and kindergarten deceptions. That they are constantly suspended in a state of blow-dried vacuousness. That even their emotions are customised. There is not a single genuinely-felt emotion in the entire length and breadth of this expanded banquet of bacchanalia and boredom. The young cast tries... Oh, they try hard to infuse life into a comatose script. The older cast members don't even make an effort. Samir Soni filling in for Rishi Kapoor looks like he reported on the wrong set. Never have I missed Rishi Kapoor so much. (Get well soon, Rishiji). Now for the plot. No, not the one in the film which is skinnier than the film's four principal players all of whom display a nervous agility that would serve them well as cheerleaders in an IPL match. Here, their state of swanky agitation only makes us wonder what all the fuss is about. I am talking about the plot to dislocate us from our mental equilibrium. The lights are bright. Sadly, the aspirations are woefully low. This film is neither as dazzling a showcase for new talent (though admittedly debutantes Ananya and Tara have a bright future) nor is it sure whether it wants to be a successor to the first "Student of the year" film or to "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar". Or maybe both... This confectionery film does serve only one purpose: that of showcasing Tiger's versatility. Whether he is dancing or fighting, Tiger is a delight to watch. But sadly, the film gives him Tiger meat to bite on, let alone any solid scenes to chew on. The dialogues sound like group chats where everyone tries to be the smartest. The songs and dances are unbearably campy. The retro number "Yeh jawani hai deewani" is the perfect anthem for a film dedicated to the "josh and junoon" of the young. Sadly not this one. Not this car wreck of a movie. Fri, 10 May 2019 10:56:08 GMT Maharshi movie review: Much more than a Mahesh Babu vehicle In one brilliantly conceived sequence of cultural conversion, Mahesh Babu playing the NRI tycoon Rishi Kumar, follows a wizened farmer into the paddy fields to literally get his feet dirty in the fields. It takes a whole universe of guts to shoulder one's responsibilities as an empowered citizen of India, as Mahesh Babu has done in this film. If you stay quiet you are accused of pacifism. If you speak up you're an exhibitionist. Mahesh Babu who is a formidable icon in Telugu cinema, won't remain quiet any more. Breaking free of his innate political reservations he speaks out in favour of farmers of our impoverished country in a voice that never strains to be heard. On the surface Maharshi is yet another star-vehicle for Telugu cinema's most revered contemporary superstar. To be sure, almost every frame of Maharshi is dedicated to eulogizing its leading man as he plunges into the role of a social crusader. The part sits easily on Mahesh Babu. He doesn't shy away from comfortably occupying the moral high-ground that the narrative allots him. Seldom does a cinematic hero looks so comfortable with his arrogance. Mahesh Babu Aplays a man who thinks the world of himself. He scoffs at his father (Prakash Raj, in a moving cameo), taunts his best friend Ravi (Allari Naresh who can't decide whether he wants to spare isolation) who hero-worships him and drives away his girlfriend (Pooja Hegde, inconsequential) because...well, she doesn't fit into his ambitions. The first-half with its quaint college is heartwarming without trying to be excessively cute. Director Vamsi Paidipally knows how to tap into Mahesh Babu's youthful image . The early scenes in the IIT campus are well executed. But it's in the second reformatory half that the protagonist Rishi Kumar, and his story come into their own. The village sequences create a sense of imminence and generosity for the cause of the farmers. The restorative image of a film that wants to heal the wounded selfworth of farmers is never squandered for effect.Every time Mahesh Babu speaks on the issue of bankrupt farmers we see not the star but the star's conscience spilling into the frames irrigating the driest corner with tears that long to be shed. Indeed, Mahesh Babu's transformative performance from arrogant conceit to conscientious farmer is arguably his best to date. He waltzes across the arching plot not missing a single step as he negotiates his character's offensive conceit. The only time he is persuaded to slow down his vehicle of social reform it is to break into a joyful jig and song with his romantic interest Pooja Hegde who looks like she walked into the wrong film. There are some powerful veteran actors in the film. But they are purposely hazy in their appeal, the sole exception being Allari Naresh who loves his best friend Mahesh Babu to death . That makes two of them. Commandingly, Mahesh Babu never hides his character's arrogance, Somewhere he knows thatA the sneer won't last. Good karma will. Maharshi exudes a sense of comfort and happiness in the midst of the wreckage and targeting. Fri, 10 May 2019 06:44:39 GMT 'Pokemon Detective Pikachu' movie review: Mix of laughs, intrigue, action For those uninitiated, Pokemon is a media game franchise centred on the cute fictional pocket monsters. These creatures termed as Pokemon are caught by humans and trained for battle against each other for sport. The franchise ranges from card games to video games, manga to music and smartphone apps. This film's narrative begins with introducing us to Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), an insurance executive who once wanted to be a Pokemon Trainer and is now not too keen on having a Pokemon partner. After a mysteriously freak accident in which he loses his father, Tim lands in Ryme City, a neon-drenched futuristic metropolis, where Pokemons and humans live in harmony, side-by-side. Tim is here to collect his estranged father's belongings and much of the action of the film takes place here, where Tim's father once lived. At his father's apartment, Tim meets his father's Pokemon partner Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), a yellow and black furry rabbit-cum-rodent like Pokemon and at the same time he stumbles upon a mysterious vial that contains some purple fluid. With the help of Pikachu and his father's neighbour, a wide-eyed and ambitious cable news intern Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), Tim investigates his father's death and learns about the genetically-engineered Mewtwo, whose mystical powers threaten all within Ryme City. How he solves the mystery, forms the crux of the tale. On the performance front, Justice Smith is sincere and obliging as the fairly dull and uninspired character Tim. Kathryn Newton accompanied by her Pokemon Psyduck, is charming as the plucky reporter Lucy. She brings a jarring cartoon-like enthusiasm to her role which makes her seem totally out of place. While Bill Nighy excels as the wheelchair bound, wacko billionaire entrepreneur and visionary creator of Ryme City, Ken Watanabe is perfunctory as Lieutenant Hide Yoshida, the stone-faced police officer with little narrative purpose. The highlight of the casting is Ryan Reynolds, who with his vibrant voice makes the animated Pikachu interesting, cute and energetic. Visually, with its noir-ish frames, dimly-lit cinematography and old school, visual elements, the film appears to be heavily inspired from earlier live-action-animated comedies. But the animations and CGI placed in the live-action setting, lack textural finesse. Overall, director Rob Letterman's Pokemon Detective Pikachu, is not an unpleasant experience. But with a plot that is absurdly ridiculous, chaotic and lacking punch-packed Pokemon moments, the film is definitely a disappointing fare which even fans of the franchise would agree. But if your only goal here is just to see a stack of Pokemon characters brought to life with CGI effects, this film is worth your ticket price. Fri, 10 May 2019 07:15:38 GMT Avengers: Endgame movie review - Blending brilliance with dull moments The three-hour extravaganza, 'Avengers: Endgame', is showcased on a vast canvas so reminiscent of its predecessors. It is an emotional and logically fitting finale to the epic Marvel saga that began nearly a decade ago. Every living superhero; Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) along with War Machine (Don Cheadle), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rocket (Voice of Bradley Cooper) and many others are roped into the narrative. This fourth and final Avenger saga is the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and it wraps up the Avenger series rather smoothly. It's the battle of all battles, where the Avengers unite to confront the antagonist Thanos (Josh Brolin) who believes that he is invincible and has nearly erased 50 per cent of all the living creatures. This is the crux of the narrative. Despite the exposition of Thanos wiping out the 50 per cent of the population, not being shown but only mentioned verbally, the take home lessons are sincere, thus making the film relatable. There are numerous sub-plots and back stories that tie up loose ends. Narrated in a non-linear manner and complicated with a time machine, the plot is episodic and has three very distinct acts; the first the realisation that Thanos with the Infinity Stones would control the universe, the second the assembly of the Avengers and the third the confrontation. Each act, despite appearing forced is treated uniquely. The narrative begins on a slow, sombre and steady note. The characters along with their history are intrinsically woven into the tale and it is here at times that the film appears to drag. The film picks up momentum by the climax and again drags during the denouement. The mega setting of the well-choreographed, action sequence between team Thanos and the Avengers is breath-taking and amazingly enthralling but short-lived on screen. Moreover, fatigue seems to have seeped into this Marvel's cosmic world. The visuals appear to have lost lustre because they are re-tread of what we've already seen. So in totality, there is a fair balance of brilliant as well as dull moments. But what keeps you glued to the screen is intrigue of how the narrative will unfold. So, in spite of this being the finale, one is sure that this edition is not the extinction of MCU. While, from all appearances, this may have been the end of the journey for some characters and their storylines, but the seeds of many offshoots appear to have been planted along the way. Expect new tales to unfold in the forthcoming seasons along with characters that may shine. The razor sharp edits are flawless as they seamlessly blend motion capture frames with the computer generated images. The 3D effects and elaborate background score are bonus to the viewing experience. Overall, this spectacular film would be a fans delight. Fri, 26 Apr 2019 11:49:57 GMT 'Uyare' movie review: Parvathy joins the inspiring 'Sheroes' Uyare opens with a long list of acknowledgment credits among which the first one is Pillechan aka Rajesh Pillai. And when Pillai's erstwhile associate Manu Ashokan ventures into direction one can't help but notice that he's been highly influenced by the former's school of filmmaking. The credit lists goes on silently for some more time and gratitude is expressed to the Sheroes Hangout in Agra run by acid attack survivors. Ever since Uyare was announced it was revealed that the story is based on an acid attack survivor. But Uyare goes beyond that. It's about a dream, achieving the goal in one's life, creating individual spaces, lending hands at the time of crisis, taking decisions, being yourself, loving beyond conditions and breaking the idea of the so called set norms of 'beauty'. The beauty here is like how Tovino's character Vishal quotes the famous yogi and writer Sadhguru, “one that exudes from the heart.” While all attention goes to the protagonist Pallavi Raveendran (Parvathy), Vishal (Tovino) too steals the show. A major chunk of Vishal's role is revealed in the second half only and how he steers Pallavi's life forms the crux. Vishal, to say, is a looser. Apart from listening to his father and following his orders, Vishal barely has an individuality. He even had to leave his girlfriend for the sake of his father. But things do change when he takes his own decisions and he earns respect for that. Pallavi dreams of becoming a pilot since her childhood. And she is on the verge of achieving her dream when it is torn apart by her own beloved. “If it was done by an enemy, I would have forgiven, but this I can't,” says Pallavi and we can't agree more with her. Pallavi is attacked by her boyfriend Govind (Asif Ali) and she overcomes the attack both physically and mentally. In a time, when relationships cross the line from love to possessiveness and ends up traumatic, the film stands a testimony to those who survived the burns and attacks. The survival journey isn't easy either. Right at the time when Pallavi makes her mind that, 'it's not over yet', she is let down by people around her. The film also brings forth a warm relationship between a father and a daughter. “Why didn't you ever tell me such things till now”, asks Pallavi's father (Siddique) to which Pallavi replies, “I hated you back then” and later her father fights it out for her. Amazing performances from each of the cast carries the whole movie. The film undoubtedly belongs to Parvathy and she's the star here. But we can't really stop applauding Tovino and Asif too. While Tovino is a charmer making us drool over him, Asif is a crook and makes us hate his character. Govind reminds one of Michael Agnelo played by Fahadh Faasil in Shyamaprasad's 'Artist'. The biggest strength of Uyare lies in its screenplay with minimal yet powerful dialogues. The script by Sanjay-Bobby is crisp and well etched by director Manu. Uyare is highly engaging right from the beginning to end. Take Off's director Mahesh Narayanan is the man at the editing table here and you can keep aside the similarities if any between the two films. Mukesh Muraleedharan's frames and Gopi Sundar's music will appeal to you. Uyare marks the debut of S-Cube Films Productions, owned by Shenuga, Shegna and Sherga, the three daughters of veteran producer P V Gangadharan of Grihalakshmi Productions. It’s a first for Malayalam cinema that three women are producing a film and special mention for them for choosing a movie based on a strong theme. Dirty hands, the group behind the prosthetics for Parvathy, also deserves cheers. In spite of a predictable storyline, the outlook that Uyare offers is commendable to say the least. Sat, 27 Apr 2019 03:29:52 GMT Oru Yamandan Premakadha review: a clean entertainer 'Oru Yamandan Premakadha' might sound similar to 'Oru Adaar Love', but the display of endearment seems to be missing unlike the titles. One cannot definitely compare the two as 'Oru Yamandan Premakadha' is a fun-filled ride. Leave aside the 'superlative' love story, the focus here is on a young man who is filled with love and compassion for others. The story revolves around Lallu (Dulquer Salmaan), a painter from a small town, his family and friends. Unlike his 'sophisticated' family, Lallu is one who enjoys nostalgia and has his own principles. His father (Renji Paniker) asks his friends (Salim Kumar, Soubin and Vishnu) to find a suitable girl for him. Despite trying hard, Lallu fails to find a 'spark' in the girls he come across. 'Oru Yamandan Premakadha' carries the same formula of writers Bibin and Vishnu's earlier projects Amar Akabar Antony (AAA) and Kattapanayile Ritwik Roshan (KRR). The movie opens with the baby hero born to parents with high expectations and how he chooses life to his own choices. His parents ask him not to play with the 'cultureless' kids around, but he does. He won't mind bringing home old beggars and serve food on their dinning table. His brother would scorn at him for being an irresponsible son, but he won't mind it. His parents want him to get a good job, but he becomes a painter. His parents ask him to get married, but he goes to find a face that could create a 'spark' in his heart. There are quite a number of moments that would make you laugh out loud, but the film is less entertaining as compared to AAA and KRR. The soul is missing in the script. The frames are colourfully set and so are the characters. Suraj Venjaramood probably has the least screen time, but his performance leaves a lasting impression. Dulquer Salmaan is cool with his 'mass' avatar doing stunts and dances effortlessly. He carries a charm throughout. Soubin Shahir and Vishnu Unnikrishnan are quite apt in humorous roles. Bibin George surprises in a role which has grey shades. Bibin seems to have made a big leap in his acting career from his last film "Oru Bombkatha'. However, his character is barely defined. The movie lasting two hour, 45 minutes is a tad lengthy too. The film also sheds light on a few issues prevailing in the 'Internet' driven society. On a concluding note, 'Oru Yamandan Premakadha' definitely belongs to the genre of clean entertainers. Fri, 26 Apr 2019 09:52:55 GMT Madhura Raja - Irresistible mix of fun and Mammootty's machismo After the hit 'Pokkiri Raja', director Vysakh teams up with Mammootty after nine years for 'Madhura Raja' in which the megastar reprises his role as the titular character. It also marks the director's comeback film three years after his immensely successful 'Pulimurugan' The movie as it begins, takes us back to the Vypin liquor tragedy that occurred in Kerala on the Onam day of 1982. About 77 people died and several were blinded or crippled thus reducing nearly 650 families to penury. Hundreds of people, mostly fish workers and other labour people, drunk spurious liquor supplied by several government-licensed arrack shops. The movie portrays a liquor baron Nadeshan (Jagapathi Babu) who initiates the preparation and distribution of spurious liquor in an island called Pambinthuruth and how he escapes the law. Then, the movie forwards 25 years later and Nadeshan has reached his pinnacle where he would even decide the fate of people who opposes him. Then, Madhu Raja's father (Nedumudi Venu), a school headmaster, tries to oppose Nadeshan who runs a liquor shop near a local school. But as Nadeshan has a strong hold in the area, he couldn't do anything about it. Though Chinnaraja (Jai) is sent to contain a skirmish on the island, everything goes out of hand. Mammootty's 'Madhura Raja': Audience review Now, Pambinthuruth needs their hero Madhura Raja (Mammootty) to fight the illegal activities of Nadeshan and then what follows forms the crux of the story. Vyshakh takes his sweet time to play his trump card - Mammootty - in the first half. But once the anticipation hits the peak, he brings in his hero and the movie is a fun watch from thereon. Raja's mass getup and pidgin English are still a brutal mix that bowls fans over with fun. Prithviraj, who was the other male lead in the prequel, doesn't return for 'Madhura Raja'. Filling his space is Tamil actor Jai, making his Malayalam debut. His romance with Mahima Nambiar also hogs up much screen time in the first half. Salim Kumar as novelist Ezhuthachan, aka Manoharan Mangalodayam, also makes the audience burst in laughter with his impeccable comic timing. Jagapathi Babu, who was also the villain of Vysakh's previous film 'Pulimurugan' impresses with his usual rough and tough look. However, the surprise package in this movie is the brilliant performance of Anusree as Vasanthi. The actress was literally at her best, and it was a sheer pleasure to see her on screen. Though Shamna Kasim, Anna Rajan and Mahima Nambiar play the other female characters in the movie, the narrative hardly give them a chance to expand. Bollywood diva Sunny Leone who appears in a dancer number, received a big round of applause when she appeared on the screen. Gopi Sundar's music is quite catchy and it gives a festive mood to the film. The film's stunt coordinator Peter Hein had done justice to his role and he has pushed Mammootty a bit outside his comfort zone. The second half seem disoriented, and there was a little lag too capable of pulling audiences to a state of boredom. Overall, 'Madhura Raja' is a celebration of the megastar's masochism, mass appeal and is no less than a treat for the fans of Mammootty. And, last but not the least, the end credits of the film promises a sequel, 'Minister Raja', in which the Mollywood star appears as a minister. Fri, 26 Apr 2019 10:00:25 GMT Athiran review: An edge-of-the-seat thriller from Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi Director Vivek's Athiran, starring Fahadh Faasil and Sai Pallavi, evokes curiosity in viewers through its unique storytelling way. The debutant director has successfully kept it intact till the climax to hand the viewers a true suspense thriller. “Brighter the light, darker the shadow”, reads one of the boards in a mental asylum, the backdrop of the whole movie. The movie opens in 1967 introducing actor Shanti Krishna. The movie leaps years and changes gear in narration with Fahadh's entry as MK Nair. He is visiting the creepy asylum, owned by Benjamin (Atul Kulkarni) and Renuka (Lena), both as cryptic as the place, with a purpose. The credits open with a song sequence introducing rest of the inmates - Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lekshmi, Vijay Menon, Sudev Nair and Hussain, a painter. Each of these characters is sketched in such detail that their stories could easily add sub plots to the movie. Nair's visit to the hospital soon changes into a search for an unlisted patient, Nithya Lekshmi played by Sai Paillavi. And her story is an irresistible bait that will keep viewers nailed to the edge of their seat. The first half is packaged well with intense and gripping moments. But does the climax live up to the build-up; we leave it for you to decide. Vivek is a man of vision inspired by an array of classic 'thrillers'. It seems like he was forced to dilute the narration at many places for the business needs by bringing in cinematic elements like the duet song featuring the hero and heroine. Fahadh sure is the bright light here but Sai Pallavi outshines him, thanks to a powerful script by PF Mathew, who is entering a different genre compared to his earlier works. There's no denying that performance from each of the cast was one of the highlights of the movie. The credit should also go to the casting directors of the casting agency, Launchpad, for finding the apt faces for these charecters. Just like in any other psychological thrillers, music has a deep role and Ghibran's score and Jayahari's music strike a right chord. Cinematographer Anu Moothedath and editor Ayoob Khan do need special mention for making the movie technically sound. Athiran is no way a horror film but it has ample creepy moments that will scare you. Apart from bits and pieces of cliches, the movie is a good attempt by a newcomer. But like the saying goes, the closer you look the more imperfections appear. Sun, 14 Apr 2019 09:00:15 GMT Mammootty's 'Madhura Raja': Audience review Raja is back! The much awaited Mammootty-starrer Madhura Raja has finally released and reviews are pouring in. Madhura Raja critic's review: Irresistible mix of fun and Mammootty's machismo The first show of Madhura Raja began at 9am and about 150 fans shows are held today. This makes it the first Malayalam film to have maximum number of fan shows in Kerala. Check out here what the audience have said. The celebrations by fans have already begun at many centres. Madhuraraja be simultaneously releasing in ROI, UAE/GCC, US and Singapore. Going by the advance booking, the film is set to witness excellent business. But it is yet to be seen that if Madhura Raja manages to break the records of Mohanlal's Lucifer. “One can't call Madhura Raja as a sequel to Pokkiri Raja but it's the character Raja that is returning with a different premise, with a different set of people, facing different situations,” is how Mammootty chose to describe the movie during the promotinal event. While Anusree, Shamna Kasim, Anna Rajan and Mahima Nambiar play the three female characters in the movie, actor Salim Kumar and Nedumudi Venu will be seen in their roles from Pokkiri Raja. While Tamil actor Jai plays a pivotal role in the movie, Bollywood star Sunny Leone will be seen in a dance number. The film has stunt coordinator as Peter Hein and music by Gopi Sundar. The film’s scriptwriter is Udaykrishna and cinematographer is Shaji Kumar. Produced by Nelson Ipe, the film is helmed by Vyshak who earlier directed Pulimurugan. When asked if Madhura Raja is a copy of Pulimurugan, director Vyshak said, “How can one say that without even watching the movie. And even if it's a copy, it's my own work right. How well it has been copied can only be judged after the movie is watched.” Fri, 12 Apr 2019 08:56:30 GMT Majili movie: audience review of Naga Chaitanya, Samantha-starrer After marriage, actors Naga Chaitanya and Samantha are back together in Majili and there's no doubt that fans of the stars are most excited for the film. The duo had earlier shared the screen for movies 'Ye Maya Chesave' and 'Manam'. Naga Chaitanya also appeared in a cameo role in 'Mahanati' where Samantha had a pivotal role. Written and directed by Shiva Nirvana, Majili also stars actress Divyansha Kaushik. Majili is the story of Poorna (Naga Chaitanya) and his wife Sravani (Samantha Ruth Pabhu) throwing light on Poorna's troubled past and failures that form a barrier between him and Sravani. The movie has hit screens and the first reviews are out. Check what works and what doesn't: Plus > Content driven script > Strong performances > Excellent BGM Minus > The run time > Lagging in second half Meanwhile, check out what audience got to say about the flick: Fri, 05 Apr 2019 03:27:49 GMT Mera Naam Shaji review: A fun watch When Shaji Pappan came, he turned out to be a trendsetter. Even Saju Navodaya is more known by his screen name Pashanam Shaji. Well, the list might go on. To add to this, there won't be a Malayali who wouldn't have come across a 'Shaji' in his/her life. And that could be the reason why Nadirshah chose to name his third directorial venture 'Mera Naam Shaji' (My name is Shaji). And to identify names of each of his crew members, his film opens with title cards along with images of the respective person. Be it his debut film 'Amar Akbar Anthony' (AAA) or second movie 'Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan', Nadirshah has portrayed the underdogs who dream big and end up living life to the fullest. Unlike that, here are three Shajis who happen to encounter each other at one point in their life. The film depicts the story of three namesakes. Shaji Usman (Biju Menon) is a goon from Kozhikode while another Shaji Sukumaran (Baiju) is a driver from Thiruvananthapuram and the third Shaji George (Asif Ali) is a jobless youngster from Kochi who is better known as 'Udayip' Shaji for the hilarious pranks he plays. Biju Menon is given a quotation in which Asif Ali unintentionally gets involved and Baiju comes in to help. There's no doubt that Nadirshah will be compared with his previous outings and just like them he has followed the elements - melodrama, humour and happy ending. But if asked whether Shajis manage to outshine his previous films, one has to pause and replay. The narrative juxtaposing the present and flashback is appealing, but it takes some time to establish the three protagonists which makes it fatiguing. The casting was perfect and so were the performances but what was depriving was a soul that drove the characters. For instance, Biju Menon's Shaji can easily beat up a guy in his own house and in the truest cinematic style can twirl anything, be it a chair or a jeep. He would even go up to a woman and teach her that her place in a family is just to give birth. Is it misogynistic or not, you decide. Asif Ali's Shaji is good for nothing for his brother, neighbour or friend. Baiju's Shaji had a good side, but others were taking advantage of it. The three of them have delivered amazing performances fit with slangs. The female leads Nikhila Vimal, Mythili and Surabhi Lakshmi also justified their roles, but Ranjini Haridas seem to evoke all the laugh in the theatres. Writer Dileep Ponnan pads up a thriller story with feeble jokes bringing in a romantic angle. Nadirshah makes the Shajis heroes in their own world. Overall, Mera Naam Shaji is purely a vacation time watch. Fri, 05 Apr 2019 16:38:51 GMT Super Deluxe: A profoundly emotive reel saga Super Deluxe is a bit out of the world movie by Thiagarajan Kumararaja. That it took eight years for Kumararaja to come up with his second movie shows the intensity with which Kumararaja approaches film-making. His first venture, Aranyakandam, itself won him the national award for the best debut film of a director in 2011. He has also roped in three directors -- Mysskin, Nalan Kumarasamy, Neelan K Sekar – to script the movie, which has dark hues of human relationships, sexuality and teen sensibilities vying for mind space. Four situations and many characters -- some connected to each other and some not even remotely linked – unravel the movie that is sure to test the comprehension levels of the viewer. But characters themselves are profound and situations toe them to the vortex of uneasy realms in life. Dark humour, intense sexuality and pathetic helplessness are woven into a chain of events that run parallel in the nearly three-hour movie. The movie unfurls with the machinations of a cheating wife and her aspiring actor husband -- Samantha Akkineni and Fahadh Faasil -- that would push them from trouble to trouble and in the process unveil their chances of bonding. We are told that the couple apparently didn't have an element of bonding in their marriage, though the reasons listed by both for this border on the a flimsy to naive narrative. Samantha has taken her character to lofty plains. Fahadh's uncommon ease of acting is on display. Kumararaja revels in dealing with shock treatment – he shocks the audience as well as his own characters with powerful twists. Such twists often form a key part of the narrative. A housewife yearning for the return of her husband and her kith and kin are up to a super deluxe shock treatment -- The husband returns as a feminine character. Vijay Sethupathy has carried the movie with uncommon intelligence in the acting front, without falling into the trap of emotional drama, but at the same time evoking helplessness associated with the character. No character other than this feminine portrayal is so intense in the movie, though situations linked to the key players are equally powerful. Two other characters – an yesteryear actress and her hubby who transforms himself to embark on a shaky spiritual path – also bank on the peculiarity of the situations thrust upon them to make a mark. Four teens, one of them the son of an yesteryear actress (Ramya Krishnan), form another key link of the narrative that binds all characters and situations in the movie. The negative shades of a wicked cop are portrayed with finesse by Bagavathi Perumal. Music by Yuvan Shankar Raja is sublime as well as savage as the situation demands. There is a peculiar tone employed by the filmmakers and that stands apart – it also gels with the wavering mood of the intense canvas which Kumararaja unfurls to the audience. And through this, he unravels his powerful characters and eerie situations. The movie is at once quirky and imposing. It at times wanders through the borderline of magical realism, which could take Super Deluxe far away from the lay audiences sensibilities. The filmmakers have not cared to bother much about box office. Instead, they have given characters a fierce aura. Super Deluxe is not meant for pedestrian viewing. Its space is in a different realm. Just a thought: If the film makers had attempted to slash the length of the movie by at least 15 minutes, this would have been much more compact reel saga. Sat, 30 Mar 2019 03:50:14 GMT Mohanlal's Lucifer review: a fanboy film by Prithviraj! Prithviraj's directorial debut 'Lucifer' is intense. Right from the title to its characterisations, 'Lucifer' has ample Biblical references. Father Nedumpally (Fazil) expresses his desire to know one 'secret' and asks Stephen Nedumpally (Mohanlal) as to where he was around the age of 16-25. And Stephen aka Esthappan quotes from the Bible in reply: “Jesus was lost in Galilee when he was 12 and he came back only when he was 29. Where did he go during that time is still not known. If you tell me the answer for it, I will give the reply to your question.” Although Nedumpally never compares himself to the Lord, he likes to be addressed as 'Lucifer', the fallen angel. The angel, though he appears as devil, has been assigned to protect God's beloved ones. The movie oscillates between the good and evil, that at times merge and reappear as characters choose between the white and black shades. If Lucifer has a man's image, Reficul is believed to be it's female version and here the deal is set on fire by the female. Cut to another scene. Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier) questions the morale of her husband Bobby aka Bimal Nair (Vivek Oberoi). Without any remorse, Bobby says guilty and leaves her with no choice than to bear with it. Priyadarshini in turn chooses the evil and the deal is with the devil himself. There's no denying that 'Lucifer' is a pure Mohanlal flick. The first half is all about the great aura and terrific screen presence of the complete actor Mohanlal. Well-framed with fine performances, the film, however, takes the formulaic and cliched route in the second half. The film is enriched with a star cast and it's hard to define each of them as they have direct or indirect links to the main character Stephen Nedumpally. Manju Warrier has given a decent performance and so has Indrajith. But the one who grabbed the lion's share was Tovino Thomas, probably the perfect casting as Jithesh Ramdas. His entry just before the intermission was bang on. Prithviraj appears in a cameo role with his stunts and actions. A special mention to Vivek Oberoi for putting some genuine effort in learning the language. His dubbing, voice and mannerisms gelled well and there were no hic-cups in his dialogue delivery. Prithviraj, the director, and Sujith Vassudev, the cinematographer, complemented each other in the most amazing manner. With excellent frames and visualisation, the 'Lucifer' cast has been able to lift a mediocre script by Murali Gopy to a new level. Like Prithviraj said in his interviews, Lucifer is not a political movie - rather it has sourced the story from a politically inclined family. The styling and art department too have pivotal roles. Right from the intro scene, we get to see 'angel' Stephen dressed in white and the black comes into play when he unravels his evil side. Made by fanboy Prithviraj, Lucifer is undoubtedly 'the-way-we-want-to-see-him' (Mohanlal) flick. To sum it up, what Karthik Subbaraj was to Rajinikanth in 'Petta', so is Prithviraj to Mohanlal in 'Lucifer'. Fri, 29 Mar 2019 02:01:29 GMT Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu: A movie stuck between football and romance Kerala is known for die-hard and crazy football fans who consider the FIFA World Cup as a festival. Fans would even conduct rituals for their favourite teams to prevail over the opposition. Director Midhun Manuel Thomas attempts to portray these emotions in 'Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu'. The film is an adaptation of the original story by Asokan Cheruvil of the same title. Since the success of the Aadu franchise, Midhun has made his mark among young movie buffs. This is Mithun's fourth film and it narrates a romantic tale set in the village of Kaattoorkadavu against the backdrop of feauding football crazy fans during the World Cup. The film is a tribute for not only the La Albiceleste (Argentina) fans as the title sounds, but for all football enthusiasts. It also captures some golden and important moments of football legend Lionel Messi. Surely, fans will relive some of his magical moments on the pitch. The film, which has Kalidas Jayaram and Aishwarya Lekshmi in the lead, spans three football World Cups from 2010 to 2018. While Kalidas plays Vipinan, leader of the Argentina fans in the village, Aishwarya is Mehrunnisa Kadarkutty, a die-hard supporter of Brazil. In the movie, the pair are childhood friends. The story revolves around how their love blossoms over the tournaments. Anu K Aniyan aka George of 'Karikku' - a popular mini web series -- has impressed with his comic role making his big screen debut a memorable one. The movie has ample comic elements and infuses a festive mood throughout, but often derails from its path due to a shaky script. The 2-hour 20-minute movie is a mix of a football movie and a romantic-comedy, missing the essence of either by a large margin. It is neither a pure football movie nor a pure romantic comedy. It misses out on both, and gets stuck in between with flashes of goodness here and there. The film bankrolled by Ashiq Usman under the banner of Ashiq Usman Productions gives a happy mood overall but the climax could have been better. It is still a one-time watch. Fri, 22 Mar 2019 10:28:45 GMT 'Ottam' review: A family entertainer with ample doses of humor and love The movie Ottam perfectly captures some of the significant moments that every youngster goes through in their lives. Starring newcomers Nandu Aanand and Roshan Ullas, who rose to the limelight through the reality show Naayika Naayakan aired on Mazhavil Manorama, the movie has ample doses of humor and love and genuinely captures the mad rush to achieve success and fortune. The story unfolds through the life of a youngster who is destined to suffer failures and misfortunes in his life. The director has been able to portray many moments which every youth may have gone through in his life at least once. It is moments like these that make the narrative closer to life and honest in its presentation. Another highlight of Ottam is that it narrates the tales of a group of ordinary people, without adding any sort of exaggeration or embellishment. Though the film deals with the fast paced lives of men and women who strive to build a life for themselves, love too has significance in the narrative. From the genuine love and the lost love to the fake love, the movie amazingly depicts the various shades of the emotion. Humor scenes, poems and songs add ample entertainment for the audience. The movie projects the undeniable fact that failures and successes are inseparable parts of human lives. Newcomers shine Ottam is the debut directorial venture of Zam who was the associate of veteran film makers like Blessy, Nissar, Suresh Unnithana and Lenin Rajendran. The beautiful locales of Vypin are perfectly weaved into the narrative of the film. The climax scenes vouch for the incredible talent of the director. The movie which progresses in a mellow tone suddenly shifts to the swiftness of a thriller. The audience is hooked to the movie until the last scene where it ends on a positive note. The brilliant performances of the newcomers are surely one of the highlights of Ottam. Besides the director and the lead artists, the screen writer and the editor too are debutants. The screenplay of the movie is penned by Rajesh K Narayanan. Actors like Alencier, Sudheer Karamana, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Manikandan Achary, Rajesh Varma, Thesni Khan and Rajitha Madhu play pivotal roles in Ottam. The lead actors and actresses have essayed their roles with finesse. Newcomers Nanadu Anand and Roshan Ullas managed to pull off their roles without the anxiety of performing in front of the camera for the first time. The female leads too did commendable jobs. The character named Chachappan was played amazingly by award winning actor Alencier. Manikandan Achary too did not disappoint as ‘Kattu’ a character that roams around. The movie which caters to the interests of all kinds of audience is sure to draw the youth and families to the theaters. Ottam is not a mass movie; it is a film which stays close to the life with moments of love, hope, humor and a wonderful climax. Ottam has couple of beautiful songs and the background score perfectly complement the narrative. The lines of the songs are written by Sreekumaran Thampi and BK Harinarayanan. John P Varkey and Four Music are the music composers. Pappu has wielded the camera for the movie. Vishal VS is the editor. Ottam is the second production venture of Thomas Thiruvalla after the critically acclaimed film Kalimannu. Sat, 09 Mar 2019 11:13:53 GMT Mr & Ms Rowdy movie review: a fun ride Hit-maker Jeethu Joseph's latest film Mr & Ms Rowdy narrates the story of a group of wannabe rowdies - Appu, Maniyan, Pathro, Asif and Anto. “Every village will have a bunch of worthless fellows like them,” says one of the villagers and so they are. While the five are trying to establish their gang, it's the need for money that is driving them. One is an orphan, one's family is burdened with loan and he has to marry off a sister, another has a mother who complaints of her son not being responsible, and a fourth one has only his grandmother as his relative. We barely know anything about the fifth one as a cell phone is whole world. But the five of them when together bring life to the underlined characterisation in the script. The five share a good rapport and that is quite evident on screen. The first half has a few laugh-out-loud moments laced with hilarious dialogues and the youngsters carry it off with ease. While they are on the hunt for 'work', Appu suffers an accident and meets Pournami and there begins the twist. Pournami decides to come and stay with Appu in spite of the fact that the duo nurse hatred for each other. But things take a turn when Appu gets a quotation to kidnap Pournami for a big-shot businessman Jeevan played by Vijay Babu. The best things about the movie is the performances. Kalidas Jayaram as Appu, Aparna Balamurali as Pournami, Ganapathy as Asif, Shebin Benson as Partho and the other two goons have excelled. After Poomaram, Kalidas blends well as a young-ill fated gang leader, and on the other hand Aparna's bold avatar and fighting sequences make it engaging. Jeethu Joseph has made yet another entertainer after My Boss and he needs to be praised for roping in young actors in Mr and Ms Rowdy. But the romance is missing and so is the punching climax. However, the director has made sure there is a message underlining the comic sequences. Even the serious climax has was a comedic plotline. Doing justice to the genre and tagline, 'just for fun', 'Mr and Ms Rowdy', directed and written by 'Mr and Mrs Jeethu Joseph' is a fun ride. Sat, 23 Feb 2019 05:09:49 GMT Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel review: yet another conspiracy theory Balan Vakeel (Dileep) is a perfect lawyer with a defect and the movie has a conspiracy twist. Balakrishnan was the leader of the political wing during his law college days. He used to lead rallies, inspire everyone with his speeches and fight it out with his rivals. He was the hero until he encountered an accident of his close friend. It shocks him and leaves him stammering. The hero turns an underdog and since then he had been a failure. He is a stammering, struggling lawyer who finds it hard to defend a case of his own. Yet he knows all about the neuro-linguistic programming and has sharp eyes. Thus comes a case, when he was least expecting, a conspiracy which involves a young woman Anuradha (Mamta) and him. The plot to summarise is pretty interesting and the mood the movie sets in makes one curious. But it has a few initial hiccups with an item song and unwanted comedies. Director B Unnikrishnan tries to blend in comedy, action, drama and thriller but misses the perfect mix. The film also has its hits and misses. Dileep is perfect for the role with his controlled acting as a stammer and so is Mamta. The duo's on-screen chemistry is a treat for fans. Renji Panicker gives a twist to his appearance and so does Siddique who is a not-so-usual father with his good comic timing. What doesn't work is Aju Vargheese's friend-cum-thug role while Baburaj's goon avatar with the 'Babuvetta' song is a hindrance for the thriller. Cinematographer Akhil George manages to get the best for the flashback sequences. There are some really gripping moments, especially the chase scene with Sajid Yahiya, introduction of Priya Anand and the mystery behind Harish Uthaman's role. The movie is engaging in parts and a watchable one. And just like Saiju Kurup says in the movie, “It doesn't matter how you say rather all it matters is what you say,” Dileep clearly steals the show. Fri, 22 Feb 2019 06:46:52 GMT June movie review: stepping into a girl's shoes "Your first love isn't the first person you give your heart to - it's the first one who breaks it," wrote Lang Leav in her book Sad Girls and it pretty much sums up June. And breaking heart doesn't mean the end of it rather it's the beginning of a much more matured love story. “I know you are like your mother and you have seen how she treated me. So just love your partner like your mom has loved me,” says Panama Joy (Joju) to June (Rajisha Vijayan) on her big day and we can't help but tilt our heads and nod 'how sweet'. First love is usually unforgettable and so is for June. The world of June sprints with the right amount of sweet and unadulterated school romance. Because her parents are least bothered to send her to learn any extra curricular activities, she considers herself as 'worthless' and probably that's why she had a crush on a guy who was equally 'worthless' like her and could barely speak his name during his introduction in the class. The anxiety, the happiness, the friendship and the first crushes are all well portrayed through the eyes of June. Although the film is presented from a female perspective, the plot evolves through different characters like the class teacher, Mottachi, Noel, Fida, Asura, the Harry Potter looking guy and so on. After her schooling and college, June decides to move to Mumbai and there she meets her first love but life is not as easy as June assumes. She may not have big dreams in life but that does not mean that she can't dream at all. She is independent and chooses an option to have a life she wants. The innocence which Rajisha presents is cute and delightful. Rajisha deserves special mention as she makes a smooth transformation. Equally good are Joju and Ashwathy, who play understanding yet strict parents of June. Special mention for Arjun Ashokan and debutant Sarjano Khalid. Just like the characters mature over years, so does the performance of both Sarjano and Arjun and they are charming in their own way. The casting deserves a special mention as all characters have ample space and are well etched too. The movie opened with December, 2016, and shifted back to June, 2006, and then again to present with the narrative but never did it hinder the flow or the feel. Writers Ahammed Kabeer, Jeevan Baby Mathew and Libin Varghese justified the script stepping into the shoes of a girl with neat and sweet moments. But it's the making style of director Ahammed Kabeer that has outshined the simple-predictable storyline. Music was a treat and so were the visuals. With seven songs, composer Ifti and Kabeer have managed the viewers to sit through a few dragging sequences. The art department has added beauty to the overall frames and set the mood for a teenage romance. June hands over an art-piece made by herself to her most loved person and leaves and we realise she is ready to move on. The touching film is a testament to both girl power and true love that will give you all the feels. Featuring everything we love about school days – the little fights, the makeover scenes, confessions, scoldings, and happy endings - this movie will make you both laugh and cry. Sat, 16 Feb 2019 09:57:00 GMT 'Gully Boy' review: Ranveer Singh starrer a Bollywood version of Eminem's '8 Mile' Zoya Akhtar's film, Gully Boy, has received much publicity thanks to its teasers and its PR machinery, that has been in overdrive mode, sending out feelers to all and sundry about what a promising film this is. Amidst all this hullabaloo are also underground rap sensations Naezy and Divine whose stories have come to the forefront, thanks to the buzz generated by the film's publicists. Even if you were not clued in to the underground rap scene in Mumbai earlier, there is no escaping the duo now. However, that is merely a great smokescreen, the truth is that Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy, is actually a copycat Indian version of a 2002 Hollywood film, 8 Mile, based on the famous hip-hop rapper Eminem’s life, starring himself and Kim Bassinger. In Gully Boy, only the backdrop has been cleverly changed to suit Indian audiences so that there is that quintessential Indian connect. Even the movie posters have a striking resemblance. In 8 Mile, (the title is derived from 8 Mile Road that runs between a predominantly black settlement and a predominantly white settlement in Detroit, Michigan) Eminem’s family is poor, they live in a trailer and are about to be evicted. In Gully Boy, Ranveer Singh's (Murad) family lives in one of the world’s biggest slums, Dharavi 17, (pronounced Dharavi Satra) and eventually move out. If Eminem's mother (Kim Bassinger) is having problems with her boyfriend, in Gully Boy, Ranveer’s mother is having problems with his father (Vijay Raaz) who has married for the second time and brought home his second wife to live alongside his family. In 8 Mile, Eminem has a kid sister and in Gully Boy, Ranveer has a kid brother. Though Eminem drives an Oldsmobile Delta in 8 Mile, where he and his friends hang out and smoke weed, Ranveer ends up as a driver and a reluctant car thief in Gully Boy, breaking into cars and taking them out for a spin late at night, just for kicks! And oh, he and his friends also hang out in stationary local trains. Also, Ranveer does not smoke weed, only cigarettes, but his friend and partner-in-crime, does deal in weed. In 8 Mile, Eminem, works on the shop floor of a car factory whereas in Gully Boy, Ranveer Singh, works in his uncle’s office. Then there is the scene in 8 Mile when Eminem freezes in front of an audience and the exact same thing happens to Ranveer in Gully Boy. (Need I go on? I’ll leave the rest for you to figure, if you eventually do choose to spend your hard-earned money on watching the film.) Gully Boy, if watched in isolation, (for all those who have not watched 8 Mile) is quite a mediocre film highlighting the cliched stereotypes of expectations versus reality, women in purdah as opposed to the free woman or juxtaposing the lives of the affluent vis-à-vis the have-nots. But it must be said that the film does have its moments, thanks to the generous doses of humour, which come to its rescue and which have been well-infused into the film to break away from the monotony of the characters’ mostly humdrum lives. The slum tourism scene is a case in point. About the performances, Ranveer is a cool cat with latent energy which, as the film progresses and his rapping gets better, turns into a kinetic energy of sorts and he is a delight to watch, as always, thanks to the power of his versatility. However, it is Alia Bhatt (Safina) who is kicking some serious ass in the film and once again in Gully Boy, we get to see her stellar performance where she takes the role of a possessive girlfriend to a whole new level and shows that love is an art. Both Ranveer and Alia have delivered very good performances, but Alia Bhatt, more so, because she is singular and is not aping any character from 8 Mile. The other actors in the film have also been cast well, such as Kalki Koechlin as Sky and Siddhant Chaturvedi as Shrikant a.k.a. M.C. Sher, who also deserve praise because they do full justice to their roles. Gully Boy definitely isn’t a crash course in the parsing of words or learning the nuances of the iambic pentameter. It has got its fair share of clash of words, yes, but then, India always had the tradition of the Qawwali, as a genre, where one group, accompanied by a lead singer, took on the other group and we also saw a clash of words there. This is not very different; it is a war of words, yes, by a solo performer, where poetry is set to a rhythm. Only here, the themes of abject poverty, muted anger and social injustices are often draped in crass words as opposed to a Qawwali which mostly dealt with amorous themes and had exquisite words strung together. If words like “Tu nanga hi toh aaya hai, kya ghanta lekar jayega,” are right up your gully, go watch the film, otherwise, it is easily avoidable, because frankly, the Urdu and Bambaiya Hindi words are merely tukhbandi (rhyming) and nothing more. The words in Gully Boy are jagged, raw and brazen and in that they come very close to Eminem’s song-writing style. Gully Boy is that kind of a film which you can watch maybe, six months down the line, when you want to while away time, when there’s nothing much on TV and when you’re too lazy to switch on your laptop and log into your favourite streaming platform. Whether the poetry in the film will act as an aperitif to stimulate your mind really depends on the kind of person you are. (The story was first published in The Week) Thu, 14 Feb 2019 16:03:01 GMT Oru Adaar Love review: Nothing but a 'wink sensationalism' In the 2008 US vice-presidential debates Sarah Palin winked and made headlines. In 2016, gymnast Laurie Hernandez winked at the judges just before a competition and made a buzz. In 2018 Priya Varrier was declared as the wink queen and went on to become an overnight sensation. But unfortunately, her winking magic fails to leave an impression in her latest outing 'Oru Adaar Love'. The movie opens with the 'eyebrow raising' sequences where Roshan calls Priya and asks to wink at him. It's the first day in school and the only thing the boys of 11th standard do in Don Bosco School is run behind girls and find a match for them. The days pass by and you will see romantic songs in class, a bunch of teachers who just come in as puppets and then there are references to filmmakers like Dileesh Pothan, Lijo Jose Pelliserry and Aashiq Abu (which seemed more of a sarcasm). Oru Adaar Love is the tale of a high school romance that matures over time to find 'true love'. Roshan as Roshan falls in love with Priya played by Priya Varrier, but he eventually discovers that it isn't the true love. The movie goes on with the same pace revolving around friendship and romance till the climax just to dig into an unexpected finale. However, it's the climax that stands out as a better executed sequence compared to the song-filled romance in the first half. Director Omar Lulu seems to have set the climax first and all other scenes seemed to be developed later. There are umpteen moments in the movie with references to Premam. If it was Java sir in Premam, here it is 'Allu' Maths teacher and 'Paavam' chemistry sir. Java might be simple and powerful in Premam, but it's the Caco3 effect in Adaar Love. In Premam we saw how Ranji Panicker came to the rescue of his son and so we got to see here Salim Kumar coming to support his son and the references go on. Noorin as Gadha is the one who grabs our attention with her performance and so does Roshan. Unfortunately, Priya has been utilised as mere 'winking' strategy for the movie and her acting skills leave a lot to be desired. There are moments between Priya and Roshan that were made just to attract the audience, but those were the least engaging scenes in the movie. The boys gang was cool, but felt under-utilised including Arun (the child artiste from Olympian Anthony Adam). Then there are fine actors like Siddique, Anjali Upasana, Hareesh Kanaran, Aneesh Menon and Althaf who barely show their faces for a few moments. The writer in Omar seemed to struggle in establishing humour for he consciously brings in old Malayalam movie references including Spadikam. Music director Shaan Rahman has given his best yet again, but the script makes us forget that too. Kudos to the Adar Love team for making a buzz about the movie but thumbs down for not meeting the expectations for it's a tedious watch. Sat, 16 Feb 2019 09:57:26 GMT Mammootty's YSR biopic: A political message in an election year Mammootty-starrer Yatra is a biopic which traces the Padayatra, or statewide political tour, which catapulted late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy to the CM's chair. YSR's epic journey, which covered nearly 1,500 kilometers through the vast landscape of the then undivided state, forms the crux of the film. Departing from the normal portrayal of the entire life of a cult personality, which is the norm in political biopics, Yatra traces through the Padayatra the YSR cult in Andhra. The movie somewhat underlines the fact that the Kadapa strongman burst out from the confines of his Rayalaaseema bastion to the length and breadth of Andhra through this Padayaatra. Rural distress is the trigger that YSR as a political personality tapped to dethrone the incumbent political dispensation in Andhra then. That is clearly the plot in which Mahi V Raghav has woven the Mammootty starrer. Perhaps the choice of Mammootty as the protagonist had more to do with the fact that Yatra portrays a much more matured YSR. Mammootty has delivered his subtle finesse even while dealing with the intense melodramatic scenes that can't be done away with while portraying agrarian distress and plunging farm incomes in a state like Andhra. Yatra is an out-and-out portrayal of YSR and hence Mahi has no qualms in showering Mammootty with maximum screen space. The only other character of any consequence in the movie is donned by Jagapathy Babu as Raja Reddy,YSR's father. Jagapathy Babu has a brief role, but unlike his usual self, the camera pans the character of Raja Reddy only to narrate how YSR's tryst with politics happened. Jagapathy Babu did complete justice to this portrayal of YSR, who apparently wanted his son to plunge into the vortex of politics rather than making him a doctor or engineer. That YSR had a stint as a one-Rupee doctor is a different subplot that unravels in between. That these themes of rural agrarian distress find a resonance in the wake of recent developments in a politically volatile election year is no coincidence. YSR's political rivals are identified by the colour of their shirts only and no real political figure of any significance gets to appear in the movie on that count. Strangely enough, the real political rivals of YSR, as per the movie, is within his own party and the representative of the party High Command, who is shown his place in unequivocal terms by the political maestro that is YSR. The movie drops subtle hints that YSR had grown bigger than the party itself in Andhra. The party is forced to acknowledge this due to his massive popularity, much to the chagrin of his rival factions and the high command representative. At first, the protagonist shows some reluctance to embark on a do-or-die political mission to wrest control of the state, that was its fiefdom for years. As YSR gains massive political clout through the Yatra, it is only natural that the camera has to pan a sea of humanity – or in political parlance the masses -- during the entire course of the movie. Yatra is not a mass movie as such but it has a few songs to perhaps convey the rural distress, which resulted in farmer suicides during that time in Andhra. The song in which the drum-wielding chorus of political sympathisers celebrate the YSR phenomenon could have been avoided. But as we realise in the end, the filmmakers did not deem it necessary to conceal the political message of YSR's legacy through the movie. As the Yatra culminates, YSR is catapulted to the CM's chair. And then real life clippings of YSR taking oath twice and mingling with the masses adorn the screens. Even his political heir Y S Jaganmohan Reddy's real life clippings then get screen space. Visuals of YSR in a helicopter as well as the grief of the Telugus after his tragic demise then inundate the screen. Now, we know that Yatra is indeed visualised to be a political message more than a movie. Sat, 09 Feb 2019 05:07:42 GMT Kumbalangi Nights review: Darkness is beautiful Kumbalangi, a suburb of Kochi, is a bustling hub of life along the backwaters. And as darkness descends, comes alive another facet of Kumbalangi. As the camera peers into the darkness, the story of four brothers begins. The single-shot opening conversations involving Franky (Mathew), Bobby (Shane Nigam), Saji (Soubin Shahir) and Bony (Sreenath Bhasi) offer a glimpse of their lives, their dreams and fears. Franky, studying at a boarding school, is a bright student who earns for himself with his scholarship. Bobby, a cool dude (freaken), is an ardent fan of English pop songs and does not desist from speaking his mind. All he wants is to get married to Babymol (Anna Ben), who is head over heels in love with him. A deaf and dumb lad, Bony is calm and quiet but sharp with his eyes and actions. His dance school and the students are his priority. Saji, the eldest of them, looks rough but carries a lump inside. Their character differences not with standing, all of them yearn for a happy family and peaceful life. The story revolves around Bobby and his sweetheart Babymol, and how the three brothers help them get married and in turn get what they needed. While the four characters go hand-in-hand, comes an extremely strange 'the complete man' Shammi (Fahadh Faasil). There is a brief face-off between Shammi and the four brothers. Each time he faces one of them, his eyes gleam with hatred. His blood-shot eyes and scary demeanour make everyone who crosses his path look for cover. Hate him or love him but Shammi sure does grab eyeballs. Fahadh Faasil earns applause for his brilliant portrayal of the tough guy, albeit with shades of grey. Not just Fahadh, other actors have also done justice to their roles and we barely get time for other distractions. Shyam Pushkaran's writing has a magical touch, giving life to characters. Pushkaran, a Cherthala native, has effortlessly portrayed the interiors of a village-town, the backwaters, their lives and their relationships. Debutant director Madhu C Narayanan belongs to the Aashiq Abu school of film-making and it's evident from the film 'Kumbalangi Nights'. What makes Kumbalangi Nights stand out is the varying characters. There are no major twists and turns, no big fights and no big romance but all these elements have been brilliantly weaved into present a beautiful story. Cinematographer Shyju Khalid's movies carry a sense of aesthetic throughout, the same is true about Kumbalangi too. Be it the night sequences or the day, the frames have been set in a delightful manner. And Sushin Shyam's music merges with it. Kumbalangi Nights belongs to the league of films that will leave a smile on your face as you exit the theatres. A sense of satisfaction will follow and one is reminded that all a human being needs is love and love only. As it goes, nights are beautiful, so are the Kumbalangi Nights. Thu, 07 Feb 2019 13:34:56 GMT Prithviraj's 9: A feather in the cap for Mollywood After his rom-com 100 days of Love, writer-director Jenuse Mohammed comes up with a psychological science-fiction thriller '9' starring Prithviraj Sukumaran in lead role. '9' marks the debut production venture of Prithviraj Productions. It also paves the way for the grand entry of Sony Pictures to the Malayalam industry. '9', as the title suggests, revolves around a global scientific event spanning nine days, which would leave the Earth deprived of using electricity, and all power and communication facilities. Albert Lewis (Prithviraj), a renowned astrophysicist is assigned a task, which requires him to travel to the foothills of the Himalayas. The bonding been Albert and his son Adam (Master Alok) is narrated against the backdrop of the catastrophe. Director Januse deserves a big round applause for taking up a concept unfamiliar to Mollywood that mainly involves psychological, sci-fi and horror elements. Normally, such themes are too risky to handle since they might be exposed to the unwritten laws of logic. Actor Prithviraj, too, had never shied away from trying unusual genres in the past in films like Ezra, Tiyaan etc. '9,' which also has a whole lot of supernatural elements, looks convincing and will keep you on the edge of your seats. Prithviraj comes up with a solid performance as Albert. He anchors the film with his intense portrayal of the character and manages to maintain the tempo throughout the film. Actress Wamiqa Gabbi proves her talent yet again as she portrays a completely different role from her debut movie Godha. Master Alok of 'Clint' fame too has done a fine job. Prakash Raj, who appears as Prithvi's mentor Dr. Inayat Khan, is a perfect fit for the role. Cinematographer Abhinandan Ramanujam's frames are visually stunning. Eye-soothing colour tones add to the mood of the film. He has beautifully captured the scenic beauty of Manali and Spiti Valley. Though not devoid of minor flaws, the visual effects are quite convincing. The music by Shaan Rahman is excellent and the background score by 'Da Thadiya' fame Shekar Menon is superb. It also plays a key part to enhance the horror element of the movie. The 148-minute movie is a must watch in big screens. It is indeed a feather in the cap for Malayalam film industry. Read more Movie Reviews Fri, 08 Feb 2019 01:51:27 GMT Mammootty's Peranbu review: A cinematic wonder that graces all aesthetics It is a tale of father-daughter bonding told in an idyllic backdrop. In a gripping narrative, the story cascades into a wonderful course blending the twists of a thriller and artistry of filmmaking. The story begins as Amudhavan, the protagonist, returns from the Gulf after long years of stay there. He has to look after his teenaged daughter with special needs after his wife deserts him. The trouble starts when the father and the daughter are denounced by the kin and are forced find a dwelling that would not make a burden to others. Peranbu flows like a mellifluous poetry with an imagery that catches mists and hues in the air of a picturesque and forlorn land. The emotions are so thick that you cannot sit through the film avoiding the lump in the throat. Mammootty, the actor immaculate, lends his soul to the character. He translates subtle nuances to graceful expressions with utmost perfection. Director Ram has brilliantly crafted the drama knitting some breathtaking moments of deep emotions. Ram's method of keeping the narrative segmented in chapters gives a mystic charm to the gripping tale. Peranbu is the story of a girl afflicted by a medical condition, which is termed as spastic paralysis, and her loving father. The movie tells a lot about the physical and mental turmoil that a physically challenged girl in her teens undergoes. Yet, it never falls into a paraphrase of the miserable condition. Sadhna Venkatesh, who plays the role of Paapa, Amudhavan daughter, excels in the movie. The stamp of artistic brilliance of an outstanding performer is evident in her performance. Amudhavan depicts a hapless father's boundless affection for his daughter and his struggles to keep her happy. There are a number of situations which brim with filial love. The travails of the two key characters have been portrayed with utmost intensity. And when it's a child with special needs, the intensity of the emotion multiplies manifold. Sadhana is a UAE resident and had won the national award for best child artist for her debut film Thanga Meengal released in 2013. Transsexual model Anjali Ameer, plays a prominent character in the film. Actress Anjali reprises the character of Viji in the film with power and aplomb. As we move along with the tale, we get engrossed into the world of Amdudhavan and Paapa played by Mammootty and Sadhana respectively. Anjali Ameer, Samuthirakani, Vadivukkarasi also appear in prominent roles. Though there is a shift in the backdrop in the middle, the narrative never loses its artistic vein and sails ahead by the strength of a coherent script. The beautiful frames of Theni Easwar blends well with Yuvan Shankar Raja's music. Sat, 02 Feb 2019 05:58:52 GMT Lonappante Mammodisa review: Funny and insightful Lonappan which literally means 'God blessed' is the heart of the movie while the people around him are the soul. An unambitious man, whose dreams have been crushed by family burden, Lonappan (Jayaram) runs a watch repairing shop. He is not a sincere guy though, he searches for obit news of those in his locality, goes to wedding functions just to have good food and is even jealous of those who lead a happy life. However, it's not his fault; situations made him so. When his parents passed away at a very young age, all responsibilities, including taking care of his three sisters, fell on him. “What did Appan (father) leave for me, there wasn't a single penny to survive,” says Lonappan at a point only to remind us by the end of the movie that his father left the world leaving with him a natural talent of telling a story. As per Christian religious rite, baptism involves immersing one in water which symbolises purification and here Lonappante Mammodisa (Lonappan's baptism) actually happens at the later stage of his life. In spite of becoming a failure many a time, finally he frees himself from 'chain-bond' life to pursue his dreams. The frames of the movie are dense suggesting that there’s always something happening in the background (the funeral service agents, the people in the bus, the aged men before shops and so on). There is a scene where his friends played by Dileesh Pothan and Kaniha ask him to tell a story and Lonappan looks out from the frame, a moment of silence is followed and he begins to narrate. The concept of story telling and how stories can bring a difference in others life is well presented in the movie. Drawing a fine line between Baiju from Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu, who found happiness in whatever he did, Lonappan discovers it only later in his life. While Baiju was least bothered about his family, for Lonappan his family is his life. Developing so many characters and giving depth to each of them is not as easy as it sounds, but the detailing with which writer-director Leo Thaddeus has presented it is commendable. However, one wishes that the second half was a bit more crisp. Jayaram convinces us completely as a middle aged man who has his own share of sorrow and glee. Undoubtedly, it is one of the recent best of the actor and for sure reminds of his movies like Veendum Chila veetukaryangal and Manasinakkare. The casting has been done with great attention to detail. Shanti Krishana, Nisha Sarang and Eva Pavithran win hearts as dear yet irritable sisters of Lonappan with Nisha taking the lion's share as a physcial education teacher. Reshma Anna seems an apt pair opposite Jayaram. Hareesh Karnan and Joju George's characters are comparatively less explored, but manage to create an impact. The humour in the movie is real and relatable. The film offers some good moments along with soulful music by Alphons Joseph. An honest approach, Lonnapante Mammodisa is fun and in its own way insightful too. Sat, 02 Feb 2019 05:57:49 GMT Kunchako Boban's 'Allu Ramendran': A hell of a lot of fun In Kunchako Boban's much awaited 'Allu Ramendran', the actor's appears in a never-seen-before avatar. The film directed by Bilahari is about how an ordinary driver in the police force named Ramendran came to be known as 'Allu Ramendran'. There is a funny story behind his ‘Allu’ nickname. Allu is the slang for a sharp pointed nail used to burst tyres. Ramendran, who was leading a happy life, suddenly gets targeted with back-to-back flat tyres putting his job at stake. His family mocks him and the society doesn't respect him anymore. He's been nicknamed 'Allu Ramendran' and he gets irritated whenever someone calls him that. The person behind all this damage doesn't come to the fore and so it is a do-or-die situation for Ramendran. In the film, Kunchako Boban comes out of his usual comfort zone of romance into a serious short-tempered character. The film is laced with ample comedy by Salim Kumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty and Hareesh Kanaran. Sreenath Bhasi, who makes a brief appearance, also plays a vital role. Aparna Balamurali appears as Ramendran's sister named Swathi. Chandini Sreedharan acts as Ramendran's wife Viji. The music by Shaan Rahman provides a celebratory mood to film especially the song 'Puncture..Puncture'. Neeraj Madhav who appears in a guest role in the song 'Ethaatha Komabanedaa' impresses with his dance moves. The 135-minute film, which is bankrolled by Ashiq Usman, is primarily humorous but it also has a few mass elements because of the lead character's nature. Though the thread of the story, written by Gireesh A D, Sajin Cherukayil and VineethVasudevan, is wafer-thin, the movie ensures that the viewers are glued to their seats. Overall, it is a tale with romance, comedy, suspense, action, drama, many flat tyres and a hell of a lot of fun. Mon, 04 Feb 2019 10:11:40 GMT 'Thackeray' movie review : Aesthetically presented and convincing Director Abhijit Panse's rendition of this biopic, crafted from Sanjay Raut's story, spans from 1961 to 1994. It gives us an insight into the life of the late Bal Keshav "Balasahed" Thackeray, the founder of the Shiv Sena and his meteoric rise in Maharashtra's political space. Designed as a non-fiction and narrated in a non-linear manner, the film portrays Balasaheb as a caring and considerate family man and upturns many myths while portraying him as the fiery, revolutionary leader, who "has the power to control Bombay" in the times of questionable democracy. Most of the lines spoken are direct lifts from Balashaheb's speeches and writings, clearly displaying his presence of mind and how good an orator he was. The plot is replete with the milestones that occurred during his lifetime, and each event is backed by facts in a cause and effect style, thus making the tale convincing. Despite some blood curdling scenes, you tend to empathise with the titular character and the film does ignite a spirit of linguistic loyalty. The writing and direction are both shrewd and intelligent. The scenes and their transitions are subtly layered. Cases in point are: When an hoarding of the magazine Marmik (Saamana's predecessor, meaning straight from the heart) is shifted, a man taking refuge behind it states: "Chaine se sone nahin dete." In another instance, when a politician is ranting in Parliament about the rise of the Shiv Sainiks, the director dissolves into a shot of dogs barking on a beach - posing the question as to who listens to barking dogs? The film is Nawazuddin Siddiqui's canvas and with a near resemblance to the supremo during his younger days, he holds centre screen easily. Though he embodies Balashaheb, he does not manage to not transcend his source material or Balashaheb's blazing spirit. He is more understated and demure in his disposition. Amrita Rao is effortlessly convincing as Balasaheb's wife Meenatai. Prakash Belawadi makes his presence felt in a one-scene role as the fiery trade union leader George Fernandes. The rest of the supporting cast has a strong similarity to the characters they portray. Aesthetically presented, the film, with its black & white and sepia tinted frames, flawlessly captures the era. While each moment in the film is simple and realistic and the fluidity of the narrative taut, the end is rather abrupt. But, the promise of a sequel is what keeps the spirits high while leaving the auditorium. Overall, this film is notches better than any of the previous movies offering a glimpse into Balasaheb's life. Fri, 25 Jan 2019 09:29:40 GMT 'Manikarnika' movie review: Kangana shines in a superfluous narrative Here is an opportunity for those who have not heard of the legendary Rani Laxmibai, the warrior queen of Jhansi, who gallantly battled against the British with her infant son tied to her back during the Indian revolution. With a tale spanning from 1828 to 1858, the film, "Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi" gives you a fair picture about her life and times. It tells us how Manikarnika born in Varanasi, marries Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar of Jhansi and is named Laxmibai in honour of the goddess Lakshmi and according to the traditions. The gloomy turn of events is perfunctorily handled and while the film captures the piece of history, the disclaimer at the very beginning of this period drama clearly lays the foundation for its faltering reproduction. Actress Kangana Ranaut who has helmed this film along with Krish Jagarlamudi, plays the eponymous role with all sincerity. Her craft-fuelled intoxication is both naive and endearing. She breathes life into the feisty Manikarnika, but, just like the eye lashes she flaunts in the film, there is something innately false in the story telling; the writing and direction. The scenes crafted like a tableau are slow paced with over dramatic gestures. The visuals with low angle shots, focus more on the grandeur of the palaces and poise of the actors and thus the film fails to hook you emotionally. Prasoon Joshi's dialogues have a few gems strewn sporadically. The patriotic fervour it whips to such an extreme outcome in the end, that you inevitably start raising your eyebrows at the contrived narrative. Supporting Kangana in her endeavour are; Kulbushan Karbanda as the chief advisor of Jhansi, Jishu Sengupta as Maharajah Gangadhar Rao, Atul Kulkarni as Manikarna's ally Tatya Tope, Suresh Oberoi as Peshwa Baji Rao II, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as Raja Gangadhar Rao's cousin Sadashiv, Ankita Lokhande and Prajakta Mali as Jhalkari Bai and Kashi Bai citizens of Jhansi. On the acting front, every actor appears sincere, but none stand out for their performance. Visually the film is a treat. The war scenes with astutely choreographed action sequences are imposing. Mounted on a magnificent scale of an epic with excellent production values, the elaborate production designs of the sets along with the costumes are impressive. They are painstakingly captured by Cinematographer Kiran Deohans' lens. The VFX and the live action sequences are seamlessly layered by Film Editor Rameshwar S. Bhagat. Overall, this film is awe inspiring due to its grandeur but fails to touch the emotional chord in your heart. Fri, 25 Jan 2019 05:17:18 GMT Irupathiyonnam Noottandu review: the 'communal' love saga “How can one know if it's a true love,” asks Zaya to which Appu replies, “Look into the eyes and you will know.” Arun Gopy's much-awaited movie 'Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu' starring Pranav Mohanlal is not a don story, as the tagline says. But it is a love story flavoured with a pinch of mafia style. And like Arun Gopy's earlier outing Ramaleela, some patterns are repeated here too. The characters are quickly established and he has used humour in such a way that it does not hinder the flow of story line and rather gels well with situations. Baba (Manoj K Jayan) is settled in Goa with his family consisting of wife and two kids, Ammu and Appu (Pranav). Arun Gopy develops the twist in the tale through Appu and Zaya (Zaya David), who's smart and fun loving tourist. Appu helps Zaya to see around Goa and falls for her charm. Appu's love hits a dead-end as Zaya vanishes from Goa without letting anyone know why she was there and why she left. Appu's search for her leads him to Kerala. But it does not end there, their affair soon takes a political and communal colour. Probably, that's how Arun Gopy pitched in with his 21st century love tale with a message in store. (No wonder if it reminds you of the Bollywood film Highway starring Alia Bhatt). While the first half is a breezy romantic one with songs and dance, the second half is racy and full of action with the Pranav show. Pranav still needs to get the dubbing right for he makes one cheer with his stunts. Pranav is a good watch as a beginner, but it's the female lead whose character has more depth. Zaya David steals the show playing both as a bubbly lady and at the same time as a gloomy and disheartened girl. Her transformation is indeed commendable. Gokul Suresh as Saghavu Franci makes a cameo apperance but definitely leaves an impression. Manoj K Jayan makes a cool dad whereas a special mention for Abhirav Janan who plays Michel Rony aka Macroni and impresses us with his comics and natural style of dialogue delivery. The visuals by Abinandhan Ramanujam and music by Gopi Sundar blends perfectly with the mood. Pointing out the contemporary problems in Kerala, Arun Gopy has tactfully managed to incorporate the Kevin honour killing case, Abhimanyu murder case and even the Sabarimala row in the movie. However, the VFX used at the climax should have been better. Overall, Irupathiyonnam Noottandu which promises to travel through the 21st century is a decent entertainer with a good package and yes, there are enough fan moments too! Mon, 28 Jan 2019 03:52:43 GMT Praana movie review: A scary peek into social issues V K Prakash's 'Pranaa', a psychological horror thriller, is a peek into the social issues in the contemporary society. It also witnesses the comeback of actress Nithya Menen to Mollywood after '100 Days of Love' in 2015, and that too in a lead role. It is also the two-time National Award winning director's third collaboration with Nithya after Poppins and Aidondla Aidu (Kannada). The movie, bankrolled by Suresh Raj, Praveen S Kumar and Anita Raj under the banner of SRaj Productions and Real Studio, is also the second Malayalam movie with a solo character after the Kalabhavan Mani starrer 'The Guard', released in 2001. Nithya portrays the role of Tara Anuradha, a controversial writer who is in search of freedom and wants to escape the intolerant society. Her book 'Music of Freedom' has emerged as a topic of discussion due to her courageous writing, but she also begins to get threats. However, she hesitates to take protection from the police as she feel it too was restrictive. One day, Tara comes to know about a haunted house in the highlands. She then decides to take up a challenge. The writer finds the house and sets out to stay there to let the world know whether the ghosts are real. She also decides to record each and every movement in the house in cameras to document it. What happens from then on forms the crux of the story. Praana can be considered Nithya Menen's best movie till date as it shows how much she has evolved as an actor. The director has brought out the best in her. The actress has also lend her voice to the song 'Oruvakkin Mounam'. Praana has a host of technical starlwarts incuding P C Sreeram and Resul Pookutty. P C Sreeram's cinematography, with its colour tones that perfectly match the ambience of the movie, is a class act. The camera also does not hesitate to capture the scenic locales. Resul Pookutty, the Oscar winning sound editor, has captured not just the dialogues but even the eerie ambience and the minutest of the sounds inlcuding that of a ticking clock in the background. Probably, ths is due to the effect of live surround sync format, which is also a first in Indian cinema. The music rendered by Arun Vijay and Louis Banks is soothing, especially the song 'Shalabhangale' sung by Shilpa Raj. The 107-minute movie, which is a delight to watch, will definitely rattle rigid perceptions. Sat, 19 Jan 2019 09:41:35 GMT Mikhael movie review: the 'revengeful' angel The opening credits of the Nivin Pauly-starrer go with the graphical visuals of how guardian angel Mikhael defends and protects the world from evil. According to Bible, it's Mikhael who establishes the 'Laws in Heaven and Earth' and protects people's lives. Director Haneef Adeni has almost or completely taken an inspiration from the Biblical figure portraying a character who protects his family and takes responsibility for their safety. But there seems to be only a wafer-thin line between the making of Adeni's 'Mikhael' and his debut film 'The Great Father'. In the latter, the revenge was for the sake of daughter, and in this, it's for a sister. While we saw the hero taking up the law and order in his own hands in 'The Great Father', similarly we get to see that the cops and the judicial systems stand as mere puppets. And just like how you saw the posh automobiles and grand outfits and richly affairs, we get to see the same in Mikhael too. The whole mood of the revenge tale sets in with George Peter (Siddique) and his son Gerald (Amal) who excel in their roles. And Mikhael is the story of this father and son's (indirect) encounter with the guardian angel. It's hard to define the characters, for Haneef has lined up an array of stars. Siddique and Amal are the soul of the movie and carry it with their total strength. Siddique reminds one and all that he is undoubtedly a fine actor. Nivin Pauly as the titular character impresses with his comics and emotional antics but could have refined himself in some of the so called 'mass moments'. J D Chakravarthi as Muhammad Easa too delivers an impressive role. A special mention for Suraj Venjaramood as Issac and the little girl who played the role of Jennifer as Mikhael's sister. Sudev Nair and Unni Mukundan too catch the eye with their looks yet hinders away from plot. Yet another not-to-miss character is KPAC Lalitha's who probably steers the whole storyline even as she asks as a prelude to the climax “Get the girl killed”. Sorry to say but we forgot Manjima Mohan long before the film ended. Even while you leave theaters, it's Gopi Sundar's background score that will linger on. The slow-paced thriller won't really blow your mind but it comes with enough masala for a Nivin Pauly movie. And like how 'great the brother' Mikhael is to Jennifer, it would have been nice to see more of Babu Antony (who plays Mikhael's father). Sat, 19 Jan 2019 04:32:25 GMT Vijay Superum Pournamiyum review: when unsaid is beautiful “Vijay is super” and he keeps on repeating to himself until he meets Pournami. While Vijay is a happy-go-lucky chap, Pournami is a smart and open-minded girl. Vijay, despite having an Engineering degree in his hands, fails to find a job that interests him. But Pournami dreams big and aims to be an entrepreneur ever since she finishes MBA. The scenario is such that Pournami's parents want her to get married and be settled with a family. The same is the case with Vijay as his parents wants him to get a suitable bride along with some dowry with which they can solve their financial problems. Ahead of their first meeting, the two, under a certain situation, get locked inside a room. “See, we are no match for each other,” says Pournami to Vijay and the 'extremely contrasting' personalities then thus happen to share their outlook towards life. The remake of National award-winning Telugu flick 'Pelli Choopulu', 'Vijay Superum Pournami' justifies the original in the most satisfying manner and those who haven't watched the original might enjoy this to the core. Director Jis Joy has delivered an out-and-out entertainer and has managed to impress the audience with an engaging story line. He has written the script in a way suiting to the tastes of Malayalam audience. Making sure that humor is prevalent through out the film, Jis with his finely-drawn characters make us fall in love with the protagonists. Asif Ali is easy and smooth as Vijay and gets applauds for being confused yet lovable guy. Aishwarya Lekshmi as Pournami steals the show with her natural acting and essays the role with authority. And yes, their chemistry is refreshing to watch. Balu Varghese, Joseph Annamkutty, Siddique, Renji Panicker and Shanti Krishna too have justified their characters. Special mention must be made of 4Musics for background music and debut composer Prince George for making the movie lively with their notes. Renadive's frames are well complemented by Shiji Pattanam's art work, including photo frames and food truck. Also, Stephy Zaviour's costumes gives a convincing feel. 'Vijay Superum Pournami' may not be the best romantic story, but definitely strikes as one of the matured romantic stories. Without much exaggerations and melodrama, it's a feel-good flick. And just like how Vijay and Pournami never confessed their love for each other openly, some things should be left unsaid and should be watched and enjoyed. Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:48:29 GMT Viswasam review: a mass family entertainer from Thala 'Viswasam,' Thala Ajith's fourth outing with director Siva, strikes a chord with the actor's fans. It has the entertaining elements of splendidly choreographed songs, impressive stunts and some of the best actors but lacks an original plot. The film is a usual family drama but Siva has successfully kept this flaw in the script concealed behind the Ajith-Nayanthara magic. The story revolves around a father-daughter duo and the conflict that arises between them which is later overshadowed by an unexpected turn of events. Thooku Durai (Ajith), the darling of his family and the masses, lives by his set rules and the villagers respect and love him for that. His life takes a turn when a doctor Niranjana (Nayanthara) comes to his village for a medical camp. They fall in love and get married. Soon after they have a daughter, Niranjana realises that she was wrong in her decision to be with the charming Durai. The film is about Durai's attempt to win her back after a gap of ten years and to patch up with his daughter who doesn't know who her father is. Jagapathi Babu gives us a villain who matches up to Ajith's heroism to spice up the story. Nayanthara who has a very strong female character in the film has done her part beautifully along with Anikha, who plays the role of her daughter Swetha. The first half of the film is for the fans and the family audience alike. Director Siva has packaged it well with a strong introduction for Ajith, a host of musical numbers and a well-scripted romance. However, over-dependence on songs to stitch together a very predictable storyline would test the patience of audience. The script jumps back and forth without any continuity before skipping 10 years without giving the audience any idea as to what happened to characters during the missing years. The second part of the film shifts from the rural village of Madurai to the urban Mumbai city where Durai 'coincidentally' end up saving his teenage daughter Swetha who is under attack - which is obvious. This is followed by a predictable heightening of tension and mix of emotions (which sort of works for the film as it is handled subtly). Siva has also tried to please Thala fans with a bike stunt and some thrilling action. The swirled up grey walrus-moustached Thala will definitely make you fall in love with Durai though he says “en Kadhayile njan villain da” (I am the villain in my story). And no wonder if you tap your feet to the dance numbers along with a versatile Ajith. Thanks to the cast of the film that 'Viswasam' is worth a watch in the theatre. The film is a one-time entertainer sure to be loved by fans and family. Durai would make you feel energetic just the way he is in the film. Fri, 11 Jan 2019 02:57:45 GMT Petta review: all about Rajini swag Remember the 1992 Malayalam movie 'Johnnie Walker' in which Mammootty gets back to college along with a bunch of youngsters. Mammootty's character in the movie joins college to be with his younger brother. Shift to 2004, and have a look at the Shah Rukh Khan starrer 'Main Hoon Na'. His character, although a Major in Indian army, had to go undercover and join college as a student for the protection of someone close to him. Both the movies became trendsetters noted for a new approach and filmmaking style. Now, in 2019, Karthik Subbaraj comes up with a somewhat similar story line where our hero Rajinikanth as Kaali goes to college. But before you jump into a conclusion let us tell you that he's neither a student nor a professor. He is the newly appointed hostel warden and as you get to see the 'recommended appointment', you realise that there's a reason and hidden agenda behind his arrival in the college. You have to wait to know how Karthik Subbaraj reveals it and yes, he reveals it in style! Petta, a throwback to the vintage Rajinikanth style, has ample mass moments for the fans to cheer. A revenge drama filled with action and emotions, Petta tells the story of Kaali , the one who merrily laughs around keeping others happy and keeps deep-dark secrets within himself. Just like how Manikam in 'Baashha' had an emotional past, Kaali too has one and he's surrounded by an array of star cast for this. Politician Singaar Singh (Nawazuddin Siddique) and his 'son' Jithu (Vijay Sethupathi) are from his past. But apart from Kaali's character, all other major leads including the villains and leading ladies Simran, Trisha and Malavika Mohanan have underwritten roles. While there are action scenes, Karthik seemed to have balanced it as an entertainer too. There's a scene where Rajini delivers super serious dialogue stylishly at Bobby Simhaa's house and as he's about to leave he realises he forgot his shades. He then comes out with funny mannerisms and says, “ayyo enna kannadi enna kannadi”. There are many scenes like this and the audience can't help but laugh out loud. The movie takes some time to sink in and gradually picks up momentum. It ends in the most amusing manner. Well, the best part (other than Rajini's swag) is Anirudh's musical which complemented each scenes on a perfect note. It would have been better if the movie was trimmed a bit on the editing table. With yellowish-red colour tone, cinematographer Tirru's visuals give a boost to Karthik's filmmaking style. But all said, after the heavy content-oriented films like Jigarthanda and Iraivi, Petta is not a Karthik Subbaraj film. It is a superstar film. Like the tagline says, 'get Rajinified' and after watching the film you will be! Fri, 11 Jan 2019 06:19:06 GMT Lively 'Simmba' holds well a mirror to society Critical opinion on a Rohit Shetty film may vary wildly, simply because it is a masala entertainer where one expects the magic on screen, the magic of entertainment, albeit, sans rationality, and that is where the opinions differ. Some may find "Simmba" silly to a point but overall, most would agree that this film is pretty good, artistic and a bonafide comedic masterwork; produced as a matter of form but not-without-its-innovations and pleasures. The film is about a cocky, orphan Sangram Bhalerao (Ranveer Singh) from Shivgad, who grows up to be a corrupt police officer. It is his journey from being a bad man-of-the-law to a good one. Picking up nuggets from real life events, the film mirrors society. If the first half is light and frothy that evokes constant laughter, the second half is equally intense and serious. It delivers middle-class life lessons in a blatantly effective manner. What really engages you in this over-stretched film are Rohit Shetty's characteristic melodrama and over-the-top comedy, fast-paced action sequences, witty dialogues replete with puns and spontaneous performances by its ace cast. Ranveer Singh as Sangram Bhalerao aka Simmba is the lifeline of the film. He carries the burden of being the corrupt police officer squarely on his shoulders and he portrays Sangram effortlessly. He is charismatic and charming as he forges new relationships or draws horns with the antagonist Dhruva Ranade (Sonu Sood). His cockiness hits an all-time high when he tells Dhruva, "Je mala mahit nahin, te mala sangh," which means, tell me something, I don't know. Sonu Sood as Dhruva Ranade is formidable. He has his moments when he shines but is not outstanding. With a miniscule role as Simmba's love interest, Sara Ali Khan is lost in the narrative. She hardly has anything to do in the film. Ashutosh Rana as the righteous head constable Mohile is intense and Siddharth Jadhav with an expressive visage as Constable Santosh Tawde is comical. The rest of the supporting cast deliver sincerely. The script loosely adapted from the Telugu film "Temper", is actually a spin-off of Shetty's previous franchise, "Singham". What's commendable about the script is how the writers have effortlessly weaved in "Singham" into the narrative. So you do get to see a good chunk of Ajay Devgan delivering his distinctive action stuff. The film has ace technical values with excellent production values, brilliant cinematography, skilfully choreographed action sequences, fine editing and intensely dazzling background score. The songs mesh seamlessly into the narrative. They are melodious with catchy tunes and are well picturised. While the film ends on a high note with the criminals being condemned, no matter how sentimental and selfless the reasons behind it, a crime is a crime, and covering it up implicates everybody in the corruption and that's where the thinking classes' opinion differ - Singham appears flawed. But overall, "Simmba" shines and the film is worth your ticket price. Fri, 28 Dec 2018 06:40:14 GMT Pretham 2: the spirit will 'follow' you Dead have no place on the earth they say, but imagine a wandering soul connecting you in a certain way that you wouldn't even imagine. Ranjith Sankar's Pretham 2 is something near similar. Five members from a Facebook film group called 'Cinema Praanthanmaar' meets up at Varikkassery Mana, the epic location of the Malayalam movie industry. Tapas (Amit Chakkalakkal), Niranjana (Saniya Iyappan), Anu (Durga Krishna), Ramanand (Sidharth Siva) and Jofin (Dain Davis) who have never known before are on a mission to complete a short-film at the Mana. What's special is that each of them are known by names of celebrities like Mohanlal, Shah Rukh Khan and so on in the group. As expected, a series of untoward incidents welcome them, and they fall prey to the stories of the' Thampuran' ghost who still loiters around the Mana. In comes John Don Bosco (Jayasurya) the same old mentalist from Pretham 1. Now that our hero is here it's time for some deep analysis, and uncovering the past. Is it just the 'Thampuran' or somebody from within the group that's causing the trouble? Well, who is its target? Is the gang in trouble? Pretham 2 invites you to uncover all this and we must say Ranjith Sankar's effort to conjure up a seemingly common plot to a never before attempted ending has borne fruit. All five characters performed with ease doing justice to their respective roles. Jayasurya as a mentalist is his usual best, and once again proves that he can handle serious roles as well. It seems the director has concentrated so much on the mentalist's costume, for Saritha Jayasurya's coutures are bold and loud on him. What's commendable is Siddharth Siva's perfect sense of humor and the effortless way of mimicing actor Mohanlal's dialogues that make audience burst into laughter. Anand Madhusoodanan's background score is amazing, perfect for the mood. Being critical, Ranjith Sankar could have focused more on setting the climax, for a very engaging fun-filled first half slipped to a quick end. While the idea of introducing a ghost very relatable to present generation seemed convincing, more details could have been added to its background story. The shortcoming of the movie lies in its somehow forced ending. Pretham 2, will definitely entertain you for a one-time watch, the comic sequences, the unique ghost and Don Bosco's mentalist tricks will keep you hooked. Read more Movie Reviews Mon, 24 Dec 2018 04:14:18 GMT 'Thattumpurath Achuthan' bears the Lal Jose stamp It is said that Lord Krishna caressed the feet of his Radha with peacock feathers. In the movie 'Thattumpurath Achuthan' Krishna-devotee Achuthan (Kunchacko Boban) tries to make his love Jayalakshmi (Sravana) find joy in the same manner. 'Thattumpurath Achuthan' is set in Chelapram village, which resembles the typical rural landscape cast in many movies from the 90s. Here lives a medley of characters - hard workers, devotees, happy ones, trouble-makers and those beset by troubles. Achuthan is one among them and is an ardent devotee of lLord Krishna. He was working at the village's temple premise when he finds a letter. When he asks the temple priest what to do with the letter, he replies, “You are the one who found it, so go find a solution by yourself” and thus begins Achuthan's search for happiness. Although the love story of Achuthan and Jayalakshmi forms the basic plot, the Lal Jose film has two to three sub-plots to go with the main story. Technically, Lal Jose has done a good job in getting the best out of his actors and yes, hats off to the director for bringing out the best from new talents. Actress Sravana who made her acting debut with this movie looked natural and it never occurred as the film was her first attempt. Equally good were newcomers R Vishva and Thejus Jyothi who impressed with their grey-shaded roles. The energy which lead actor Kunchacko Boban carried throughout the movie helped the script overcome the dull moments. Nedumudi Venu, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Hareesh Kanaran, Biju Sopanam, Bindu Panicker, Kochupreman, Ann Salim too justified their roles. While Sindhuraj's script had mood variations, Lal Jose managed to carry the show on with his endearing characters. The first song in the movie stands as a tribute to the flood victims and one can't help but appreciate the director's creativity in infusing an apt situation amid the celebratory season. Though the movie has few flaws here and there, the performances and their comic timings make one overlook the exaggerations at places. Colourful song sequences and decent presentation precede a dramatic second half. The single-shot song well choreographed by Satheesh master deserves a special mention. The dreamy sequences in the beginning and at the end by Kunjuttan (master Adish Praveen) give a good rhythm to the movie. Deepankuran's music might remind of the movie 'Nandanam' for the songs are more or less based on Krishna and are soothing. Roby Vargese Raj's cinematography has helped make the frames fabulous. On the flip side, the movie duration could have been shortened. 'Thattumpurath Achuthan' delivers what it intended and it has some genuinely good moments to offer for the audiences. This movie by Lal Jose is definitely a watchable affair with families as it genuinely attempts a neat entertainer. Sun, 23 Dec 2018 03:30:18 GMT Maari 2 review: the badass hero is back Action, drama, romance, thriller, friendship, 'Maari 2' is everything you would have expected from it. Director Balaji Mohan has weeded out the unnecessary from the first edition of 'Maari'. We all know the Maari (Dhanush) who is a local rowdy causing trouble to all alike from the first part. In the second part you will see him rising in stature. We have seen Dhanush's brilliant acting skills in movies like 'Pudupettai' and 'Maariyan,' but in Kollywood to be a star and have a fan base you need a film that caters to the masses in its dialogues, action scenes and songs. Like Rajinikanth in 'Baasha' and Surya in 'Singham', 'Maari' is the movie for Dhanush fans. While the friendship between Maari and the erstwhile don's son Kalai (Krishna Kulasekaran) is touted as one like Devarajan and Surya in 'Thalapathi,' there are several more scenes handcrafted to make you feel the connection with the one and only Rajinikanth. If in 'Maari' the scene where Dhanush sits and burst crackers while the men in the area realise who is the one in command reminded you of the iconic scene in 'Baasha' where everyone came and kissed Rajni's hand, in 'Maari 2' more such scenes have been integrated. To ensure that nobody misses the connection there are also scenes from 'Baasha' itself woven into the movie leaving nothing to subtlety. Life, love and more Maari's philosophy in life is that if you don't fear death, you cannot be killed by anyone. The belief kept him alive even though over 100 attempts were made on his life. The story does not carry on remnants from its first part and is treated as a completely new one. Kajal Agarwal from the first part has no mention in 'Maari 2'. Sai Pallavi as Anandi, driving Maari's auto, plays Dhanush's love. She surely does a better job than Kajal. However, she is seen faltering in some of the emotional scenes. Romance has a more central role in the plot in the second edition. Sai Pallavi is not just a prop in the movie, she is as bold and daring as Maari himself and her words act as a guiding light to him. Maari might be a rowdy who tortures the whole area, but Anandi is the girl who can torture him. The second half has got a punch in it in the form of Kaali. Saying anything more on Kaali will spoil the movie for you. Yuvan Shankar Raja's music and Dhanush's dance sequences would make you wanting to stand up and dance. Robo Shankar and Kalloori Vinoth as sidekicks of Maari continue to evoke laughter. Varalaxmi Sarathkumar also plays a prominent role as the district collector. The Tovino effect An essential problem in the first part was the lack of a villain who could stand up against the stature of Maari. Tovino fills this gap efficiently in 'Maari 2' as Beeja aka Thanatos. Not just that Beeja believes himself to be the God of Death, but he also has years of revenge and hatred stored against Maari. Thus, making him the right fit to pitch against the one who cannot be killed. Though some bits of Tovino's dialogue delivery has a Malayalam touch, overall his character combined with Sai Pallavi's role is what makes 'Maari 2' better. The verdict 'Maari 2' will continue to run houseful in theatres with cheers for both Dhanush and Tovino fans. It's an entertainer with all the elements rightly mixed. Sat, 22 Dec 2018 04:10:08 GMT Zero - a bearable love story quivering over disability theme Thirty minutes into the movie you will figure what the 'zero' stands for – proportion of logic in the story. It is high time filmmakers understood that a movie about science defying basic reasoning will not make a good watch. 'Zero' is a basic love story that poorly attempts to capture the complexity of human emotions by adding a rather sensitive angle of disability to the narration. Anand Rai has evidently tried to normalise two kinds of disabilities – dwarfism and cerebral palsy – but his attempt is betrayed by loud flaws in the script which calls a person of average height 'normal' when compared to a dwarf. Such 'mistakes' can be ignored as an attempt to represent ignorance of society towards disabled people but are hard to ignore without subtle lines of distinction. One could be left wondering if the disability angle was really underplayed or were the minimal references to it a part of normalising the whole thing. 'Zero' is definitely not one of the director's best products given that his previous entertainers like 'Tanu weds Manu' and 'Ranjhana' were far less dramatised and had compelling stories. Moving to the acting performances, both leads did adequate justice to their characters and Anushka Sharma's portrayal of a high-profile scientist with cerebral palsy could be her best performance till date. Shah Rukh Khan, on the other hand, upholds his mettle as an actor with a flawed character meant to annoy the audiences. He might have over-played at places, but that could have easily been a demand of an over-the-top story. Katrina Kaif's unnecessary presence could not be explained even by a long screen presence and a relatively good performance on her part. Not just hers, many scenes seemed uncalled for, especially the one where the lead breaks off from the main plot to dance around in the streets of the US capital. In fact, viewed from a distance, the film can appear like a montage of disconnected stories. And a closer look will only give you an unformed Bollywood masala movie. Shah has made sure the Red Chillies Entertainment production has big faces making guest appearances throughout. There is a treat for 'Bhai' fans and Shah Rukh and Salman sharing screen space is a treat for many cinema-goers. A heart-warming appearance by late Srideviji is also a treat for fans. The script has, however, underutilised the supporting characters given than all of them were played well by good actors like Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Sheeba Chaddha. Humour, despite being a significant ingredient in a Bollywood masala, was also sub-standard. A few cliché punchlines here and there will draw a few chuckles but only because of good delivery by the actors. But like most other Shah Rukh Khan movies, this one is a one-time-watch for families and others looking for a light-hearted entertainer for the weekend, given that you leave logical expectations outside the theatre. Fri, 21 Dec 2018 12:37:52 GMT 'Njan Prakashan' review: How a truant gets enlightenment “Hi, this is Akash” and cuts in Fahadh to say, “Ath njan aakashathil aarunapo. Ippo njan Prakashan," meaning, that was when I was on top of the sky, now I'm Prakashan. This quip sums it up. Just like the teaser suggested, the Sathyan Anthikad movie 'Njan Prakashan' takes a look at inane Malayali attitudes like the tendency to add a suffix like 'an' to local names like Prakash. Our hero, who is quite put off hearing his localised name, one day decides to change his name as PR Akash and does it officially by publishing in the Gazette. To begin with, Prakashan is an irresponsible youth who wanders in his village jobless after pursuing a nursing course. Not that he does not want to make a living, but he does not want to toil and rather finds out ways to earn a living by hook or crook. (No, he's not trustworthy even for his own friends; jealousy is his weak point.) His life takes a turn when he learns that one of his juniors in college,who once was his love interest, Salomi (Nikhita), gets a job in Germany. And it leaves him disturbed. What follows are efforts to court her. For Prakashan, she becomes a ticket to Germany. Prakashan sticks on his decision and does everything to reach his goal. Comes in Gopalji (Sreenivasan), who decides to steer Prakashan's life. And Gopalji steers his life in such a way that Prakashan realises what his life is actually meant to be. An irresponsible youth turns obliged man and set people around him happy - the story might sound no extraordinary but the packaging in 'Njan Prakashan' is definitely. Actor Sreenivasan's writing provides ample fun-filled moments. Interestingly, Sathyan Anthikad is teaming up with Sreenivasan, almost 16 years after 'Yathrakkarude Sradhakku' and he has managed to keep the audience smile all through out the movie. There are instances which will remind one of Sathyan Anthikad's earlier outings and 'Njan Prakashan' has right amount of bitter-sweet emotions with less melodrama. Fahadh's expressions and subtle reactions gel well with situations. When Fahadh gained a star image from the 2012 movie '22 Female Kottayam', many wondered if he could play the regular hero type characters which carried comedy and drama. He cleared this doubt with his impressive roles in 'Oru Indian Pranayakatha', 'Diamond Necklace' and 'Maheshinte Prathikaram'. Earlier, this year, if Fahadh stunned us in 'Varathan', he made himself a loveable guy all over again with 'Njan Prakashan'. While Sreenivasan, KPAC Lalitha and Nikhita making decent appearances, Devika Sanjay grabbed attention with her impressive debut. The movie opened with a narration detailing about Fahadh's character but for an actor who is known to express his acting skills even through his eyes, the narration seemed unwanted. Shaan Rahman's musical gives a good feel to the overall mood. S Kumar, the senior cinematographer, has done a great job by creating a wonderful backdrop for the movie especially the visualisation of the song sequences. With a high chance to be the season winner, 'Njan Prakashan' stands as the recent best of Sathyan Anthikad. Like how getting Prakashan's life was simple in theory, the movie 'Njan Prakashan', with a simple plot is a neat family entertainer that will make you smile. Fri, 21 Dec 2018 17:36:15 GMT Tovino's 'Ente Ummante Peru' review: in quest of mother's love Tovino Thomas' latest flick 'Ente Ummante Peru' simply put is a tale of love between a son and a mother, and the redefining of their relationship. The movie set in Malabar opens into the life of Hameed, played by Tovino, a simple and jovial guy who is left alone after his father's death. Hameed is rich and has everything he wants in life, including 'Firdous Antiques', a shop left behind by his father. He has to his company his best friend and servant Beeran, played by Hareesh Kanaran, and his father's friend Hamsakkoya (Mamukkoya). Forget all this, what pains him is his 'yatheem' status (meaning orphan), as his villagers call him and it tears him within. The 'yatheem' identity he is carrying even forbids him from marrying the girl he loves. It's exactly at this moment that he is forced to find out the whereabouts of his mother. A lover of arts, highly dignified and strict, is the image we are presented of Hameed's father. For someone like Hameed who has always lived under his father's shadow, finding his mother is nothing far from lurking in darkness. A will that he finds in his father's old suitcase sets him on a mission to find her. Will he be successful? The answer is a ticket to 'Ente Ummante Peru'. In the first half filled with ample humor, debutant director Jose Sebastian establishes Hameed's life in Thalassery and the beginning of his mission. The second half laced with deeper emotions is elaborate and expands to the rustic old city of Lucknow. While the director successfully manages to capture the dynamics of human relationships and the emotions of being orphaned, the camera department is no less. Spanish cinematographer Jordi Plannel Closa paints a brilliant scape of the colorful Malabar, its long coastlines, Lucknow, and wheat farms that glitter gold under the blazing sun. Tovino shows his acting prowess breathing life into an innocent Hameed. He sets the emotional equations perfect without going overboard. Veteran actress Urvasi is just magical living her character 'Vegili Ayesha' (meaning eccentric Ayesha) transforming into a witty mother who still can handle her grown up son with witty, quick words of advice. It is good to see her back on screen playing the loving mother after her role in Sathyan Anthikad's 'Achuvinte Amma'. Even though the archetype hero in quest of his mother/father may sound cliched, and you may be reminded of movies like 'Oru Indian Pranayakatha', 'Aravaindante Athidhikal' etc, the film won't disappoint you . Tovino-Urvasi magic on screen coupled with Hareesh Kanaran's perfect comic interludes makes 'Ente Ummante Peru' a reliable family movie. Fri, 21 Dec 2018 17:31:18 GMT