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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Jun 24, 2008

The Lives of Others

My home state Kerala has an incurable addiction - Communism. Our ideological gurus, the beacons who had showed us the course in the fifties and the sixties - the Russians and the Chinese have fallen or adopted a brand of capitalism that is their own. But Kerala staunchly remains in the race to claim the title as the last bastion of Communism in the world - being nestled inside a democratic framework surely helps.

Many a time a thought crosses many of us - the ex-Keralites(or non-resident Keralites), that we should put all these Communists in a real communist state like China or North Korea and let them 'enjoy' the fruits of the system. Since that is practically impossible, the next thing would be to show them a movie, made by the intellectuals who had languished under the Communist regimes in different parts of the world. The 2006 Oscar winner for the Best Foreign Film, The Lives of Others is one such film. I don't think a few movies can cause much damage to my Communist brethren. Their genes are hard-coded with principles, first created in nineteenth century Europe as a cure for a vastly different world order. But this movie is a gem, worth a watch for anyone following any kind of '-ism'. An incredibly true-to-life portrait of the life of people under the eagle eyes and iron hands of the former East Germany regime(German Democratic Republic.)

The film starts in the early eighties where a STASI officer, amongst other things is put in charge of a surveillence-wire tapping operation on a prominent German playwright. How the officer gets entangled in 'the lives of others' he is supposed to keep a watch on, without being physically present, forms the crux of the movie.

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
, the director-script writer has done a job par excellence. The film's 56 wins and 22 nominations at various film festivals across the globe speaks its merit.

Although the film starts off slowly, it become pretty intriguing and builds up to a crescendo in the second half. The work of all the actors, especially the one who played the central character of the STASI officer(Wesler), Uhlrich Muhe is commendable. The last hour of the movie is what carries it to the realm of the classics. It has one of the best endings I've seen in a movie of our times. Review: 5 *****

Jun 10, 2008

Akkara Kazhchakal

It had been a long time since I watched any Malayalam TV serial. Living close to the the Arctic circle has served as a natural inoculation against the said TV serials. The Malayalam channels understood(rightly) that Malayalam is not a popular language North of 60 deg N. It had worked well in my favor keeping me safe from the onslaught of emotianally charged pixel streams till Akkara Kazhchakal - a serial in Kairali channel recently crossed my radar. I chanced to see a mention of Akkara Kazhchakal on one of my virtual voyeuristic sallys in Orkut, searched youtube immediately afterwards and have been hooked on the serial ever since.

Akkara Kazhchakal is such a realistic portrayal of East coast Achayans that it is hard to believe it is not a reality show. Ajayan Venugoplan, the writer seems to have an indepth understanding of the East Coast Malayalis, most of them Christians who came to the US as nurses or husbands of the said nurses from seventies onwards.

Goergekuttychayan, the lead character is the life-breath of the serial. He carries the show on his capable shoulders with his mannerisms, accent and his general outlook on life. Other characters like Gregory aka Girigiri, Rincy - Georgekuttychayan's wife,their two kids, Mahesh and Babykuttan aka Bobby - the fresh-off-the-boat male nurses, each one embodies a unique segment found in every US Malayali community. The story ideas for each episode is refreshing and topical. It has been a long time since Malayalam TV media has come out with something that is entertaining and believable at the same time. Kudos to director Abi Varghese, Ajayan Venugopalan and the team at Kairali TV.

Edit 2011

Akkarakazchakal - the movie is coming soon. You can see the stills here.