The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

US Presidential hopefuls take RVs, Che went on a motorcycle. The point is you need to go on a road trip to become a successful leader of the people

Ee Adutha Kalathu (Recently)

Strange and familiar make an appearance together for the first time in Malayalam cinema and the pair is a hit

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Four feisty ladies, upbeat music and a handsome conman. Anushka gets Ranveer. Bollywood gets Parineeti

Das Boot (The Boat)

Best WWII film ever, in fact the best war film ever. In true German fashion, restraint is applied by shooting the entire movie inside a U-boat

Neelathamara (Blue Lotus)

Blue lotus shares the same stature of blue moon in Malayalam, so do good remakes. This one bucks the trend.

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Apr 28, 2008

Vinodayathra

Sathyan Anthikad tackles the picnic that is life in his 2007 movie, Vinodayatra. The literal translation of the title means 'Picnic' or 'Excursion'. It also means the 'journey of Vinod', the central character of the movie, Vinod played by Dileep. Somehow this reminds me of Benigni's Life is Beautiful, who made an imprisonment at a concentration camp in to picnic. This is a far less harmless situation, but the idea of life as a picnic is common to both.

Director(in the center), with two lead actors - Dileep and Mukesh
It looks like lately I tend to like every alternate Sathyan Anthikad movie. Gone are the days when all them were equally appealing. Narendran Makan Jayajanthan Vaka was interesting, but Yathrakkarude Shradykku and Manassinnakkare were so-so. Achuvinte Amma was good, but I stayed away from Rasathantram. Now in Vinodayatra, I could glimpse the shades of old Sathyan Anthikkad magic.

Dileep, contrary to what has been stated in the popular reviews of the film, I think has acted well. He has showed restraint and maturity in a role where he could have gone easily overboard. The first half, which has a 'larger' presence of Mukesh(who is getting rounder by day) is rife with comical situations, which thankfully doesn't fall in to the lows of forced rib-tickling fare. Thanks to the director and the script.

The second half gets more serious and focus is shifted to from Mukesh-Dileep duo to Meera Jasmine and Dileep. Murali, Vijayaraghavan, Sabitha are some of the faces who comes in to the movie in this changed scenario. Mamukaya and Innocent also has some subdued but natural roles. The songs are commendable in the sense that the lyrics are meaningful yet melodious. Probably won't be great hits, but they are hummable. That itself is a lot to ask from a Malayalam movie these days.

The bottom paragraph is the movie is a light, good entertainer. Although not in a class of Sathyan Anthikkad movies of the 80s or early 90s, it is a breath of fresh air in the current suffocating climate that exists in Malayalam cinema.

Apr 25, 2008

Goal


In the casual slang that floats around Kerala's college campuses there is saying, "Goal aayi", which could be loosely translated as 'inflicted a self goal.' That's the feeling one gets after watching Kamal's Goal. It looks like it is trying to cash in on the fame and success of Rosshan Andrews' Notebook. But Goal falls painfully short of the goalpost that was Notebook.

Only believable and interesting characters are the school boy villains, soccer coach played by Rehman, Captain Raju as the headmaster and to an extent, the teenage hero - Rajith Menon. And what was Mukesh doing in the movie, he was supposed be at the Howrah Railway station?! This movie will win one award definitely, Best Performance of an Actor as a Hammer in Hamming Role for Mukesh. Maybe he was used as a convenient excuse, if nothing justifies the soccer talents of the hero, atleast an insane fifty year old dad who used to play soccer would. Talk about genes that never lose their way to reach their goals.

The film-makers also resorted to an awful lot of CGI to make a soccer superstar out of Rajith Menon, the number 10 jersey alone didn't seem to suffice. All of it looked totally crude and a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with our soccer star as Roger Rabbit. Overly made-up girls who were supposedly teenagers make up the rest of the story, serving as colorful dolls, doled up in pancake and mascara. Then there was Salim Kumar in another wasted role. Review: "Goal Aayi"

Apr 23, 2008

Devil Wears Prada

One chick-lit book I really enjoyed reading was Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Not that 'am averse to chick-lit but most of them bore me, like the yada yada yada sisterhood or the shopaholic series neither of which I could go past a few pages. But Lauren Weisberger's novel was of the un-putdownable kind, but the movie not much so.

Meryl Streep as the devil boss of the fictional fashion magazine Runway, modeled after the Vogue's Anna Wintour, didn't seem evil enough. Probably after seeing Ms.Streep in so many different roles, the shades of her other roles come through. Anne Hathaway as the protagonist was a good choice, but somehow the transformation of the character from a booky duckling to a fashionista is not as subtle as it was in the novel. Then again unlike in the book where I could sympathize with the main character ruled by an evil boss, the movie dwells a lot more on fashion - an area I don't have any clue about. When you have one wallet for all occasions(not even a purse) and one pair of shoes for every kind of surface, fashion could be as alien as Martians drinking martinis, Review: A time pass movie for the urban female.

Apr 21, 2008

Shaurya

Shaurya is K.K.Menon's film. He probably did the movie for free.The story takes place in the innards of Indian army, a territory I am not too familiar with. It is about the court-martial of a soldier who is accused of murdering his fellow officer in Kashmir, a fertile ground for such incidents.

Rahul Bose has the leading role. A happy go lucky army lawyer who tags along with his buddy, a stellar army lawyer played by Javed Jaffrey. When Jaffrey's character is assigned a case, just so that he can be along with his friend, Bose's character takes up the post of defence lawyer in the same case and both reach the 'haseen waadis' of Kashmir. If these character relationships don't sound gay enough, there is always Rahul Bose's wardrobe which looks like it has been handpicked by the same people who attired the cast of Reno 911. Another total miscasting is Minisha Lamba as a journalist. Her acting puts too much oomph in to a serious investigative role. After watching Koel Purie switch between sexy and serious roles in two different movies I think it is all on the actress, what she wants to convey and how she goes about achieving it.

Javed Jaffrey's portrayal of his serious subdued role is decent. But it is K.K who takes the acting cake. His portrayal of the stubborn high ranking officer, almost a God for those under his command, originally played by Jack Nicholson, is done with elan. Forgot to tell you, this is A Few Good Men, with those famous dialogs translated to Hindi, verbatim.

Apr 13, 2008

ArabiKatha

There is hope, still. All is not dead and ready to be written off in Malayalam film industry. There might still come a day of liberation for the natives from the Taliban rule of M&Ms. As long as the rebel forces under the command of Northern Alliance led by Sreenivasan don't let their pens lie silent, I will still believe in the promise of a new dawn. Arabikatha(An Arabian Tale), directed by Lal Jose is awash with shades of that hope.

Personally this movie resonates with my concept of Kerala's communist system, its evolution, ideologies and the people devoted to the cause. Being born in the heartland of Kerala's revolutionaries, it feels to me as if many of the characters in the movie were my real life neighbors and relatives. If you had lived in North Malabar, you'd realize that every aspect of the a die-hard Communist reflected in Cuba Mukundan(the main character portrayed by Sreenivasan)'s character, be it Coca-Cola or China is true and exact in its description. The way the Iqbal Kuttipuram's screenplay brings it out is laudable. There could have been no one else but Sreenivasan to fit this role.

Lal Jose is a director to watch. The choice of his stories gives the impression of being fresh and different without trying too hard. His selection of actors is commendable, everyone molding perfectly in to their roles. The supporting cast includes Jayasurya(in one of his rare negative roles), Indrajith, Nedumudi Venu, Salim Kumar, Samvrutha Sunil and a Chinese actress Chang Shumin. Cinematography is another praiseworthy aspect of the film. Manoj Pillai, the cinematographer comes from Sivan's Studio, the school which has given Malayalam and the Indian film industry some of the best in the field including Santosh Sivan.

The movie has bowled me over. The way things are going with Malayalam film industry, if another review of this kind is going to happen in this blog, looks like I might have to wait for a long time.

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