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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Oct 15, 2008

Sing is Kinng

From Punjab, Southern Extension aka Bollywood comes the quintessential Panju flick(it is purported to be a Hindi movie) - Singh is Kinng starring Punjab da puttar Akshay Kumar(aka Rajiv Bhatia in real life.) Singh is Kinng is known to have boosted tourist industry in Egypt, Australia and reduced the tourist inflow to Punjab, India (it is just a place full of Sardars, just like Birmingham,UK or Toronto,Canada) - nothing special about it since Makki di roti and Sarson da Saag are available everywhere these days.

Total time pass if you can make the time pass admiring color-coordinated Sardar attire or listen to Katrina Kaif's lilting Hindi or just find some humor(there is some, if you take the trouble) in the dialogs of the coterie surrounding Akshay Kumar. Review: If you nothing else to do, Singh might be able to entertain you with Snoop Dog for around two hours.

Oct 13, 2008

Bhargavacharitham Moonam Khandam

It is not so often that you see Malayalam movies with plots lifted from Hollywood. One that comes to mind is Thoovalsparsham, but then even Hollywood borrowed it from the original French version called Three Men and a Cradle. This time it is the funny movie - Analyze This where the mafia don seeks psychiatric help for his shaky hands.

Mammootty plays Robert De Niro's mob boss character, while Billy Crystal's psychiatrist morphs into Sreenivasan in the Malayalam version. Story and screenplay is credited to Sreenivasan, but this is one of the few times that Sreenivasan has failed to impress me. There is occasional glimmers of brilliance in the script, but they are few and far-between. There is an over-powering element of artificiality in the entire movie, whether it be the pshychiatrist's dialogs or mafia don's costumes. Review:Bearable, barely.

Oct 11, 2008

Bachna Ae Haseeno

An eye-candy movie if you like Ranbir or Deepika. The movie tries to pour Ranbir into the same mold which proved successful for his father, of the guitar totting, flirtatious lover boy. What is absent in the son is his father’s colorful sweaters which are replaced by the rapper-bling necessary to earn street-cred in twenty-first century.

Three leading ladies - Minissha Lamba, Bipasha Basu and Deepika Padukone line up for Ranbir. Ranbir Raj Kapoor is Raj, a happy go lucky young man who is happy and lucky in love during various stages of his life. But not all his ladies turn to be as lucky as him except for the last one to make an entry, Deepika. The story spans three continents, just for the sake of picturesque songs and the plot-line could’ve done without the intercontinental jumps. But who cares, we get to see all the scenic locales from around the planet without leaving the couch in the company of beautiful people. Paisa wasool.

Two observations: Ranbir is trying to lock on the name Raj. He is Raj in all the movies I’ve seen of him. King Khan has been the last one who had a copyright on the name the last time I checked. Ofcourse Ranbir can proclaim that the Raj mania started with his grand-father, the original and the real Raj Kapoor. Ranbir also inherits it as his real-life middle name from his grandfather, thereby claiming he is the rightful owner of the name, Raj. Anyway Rahuls can rest in peace for some time at least, while we become inundated with on-screen Rajs.

The other Khan territory Ranbir is trying to encroach into is that of Salman Khan’s semi nakedness. The only Bollywood actor on whose torso a shirt never seemed to stick for long was Salman, now Ranbir has been bitten by the same bug. Well, all I can say is Ranbir’s is a bit more bearable than Salman’s body which looks like the playground of steroids.

Back to the movie. It has hummable songs set in Switzerland, Italy, Australia and India. The title of the movie and the title song 'Bachna Ae Haseeno' is from 1977 movie Hum Kissise Kum Nahin, starring Ranbir’s dad Rishi Kapoor and set to music by R.D.Burman. They seemed to be bend upon making him junior Rishi Kapoor at all costs. Director Siddharth Raj Anand has made an ok, saleable Bollywood movie which started off way too sweet for the tongue but made it up later on. Review: Timepass regular Bollywood fare.

Oct 10, 2008

State and Main

State and Main follows the events when a Hollywood film crew arrives in an idyllic Vermont town. It is a script-writer's movie, a 'smart-alecky' one at that. The characters are quite well-formed too. Alec Baldwin's hero with a penchant for teenage girls, William H.Macy as the director of this balancing act, Sarah Jessica Parker - the Hollywood siren, Philip Seymour Hoffman's as the writer who has gotten his first big break, David Peymer as Marty, the producer and Mamet's wife Rebecca Pidgin playing the small town girl who is into theater. David Mamet's film don't usually fail to entertain, whether it was the Spanish Prisoner or Heist, his scripts carry them through to the destination.

Oct 6, 2008

The Pursuit of Happyness

So not the movie to watch during the current financial crisis. The whole concept of investment banking as one of the pit-stops of happiness is not going to sell after the market crash of 2008. The story is an interesting one considering it is the true life story of a man name Chris Gardner in San Francisco of the early eighties.

Will Smith is Chris Gardner, a salesman, with the potential for greatness but poverty keeping the greatness in check. One sun shiny day he finds himself in a street where everyone is smiling, the reason for their happiness : they are all investment bankers!!! In the real world today same street must be the unhappiest and the gloomiest in town. But this movie was made in 2006, 2008 was still in the future they'd not know that we have given up chasing 'happyness', the investment banking route.

Will Smith has tried to take a different role in his home production away from the action-hero role he is accustomed to. His son plays same part in the movie as he does in real life, as Will's son. The wife is played by Thandie Newton, I wish they could've built up her role a bit, we don't get to see much character development there. This is Hollywood's take on the common man - one that has to live in homeless shelter, be a single parent, look for a job - all in one breath. Will Smith has director Gabriel Muccino take a leaf from Chris Gardener's biography - one that has the smell of money and the victory of the underdog and present it before a receptive audience, guess it should have made decent profit.

Oct 3, 2008

Ore Kadal

Despite Mammootty, Ore Kadal was a rare treat to watch. Based on Bengali author Sunil Gangopadhyay’s novel Hirak Deepti, director Shyamaprasad tells a story of human relationships in a big city. Mammotty plays a middle-aged economist-author, Nathan who tries to stay clear of meaningful relationships which might burden him emotionally. Although it becomes the burden of the audience to watch him play a romantically involved role with heroine, Meera Jasmine who is younger than his real-life daughter.

Meera Jasmine,won State Award for Best Actress for her role as Deepti, a middle class house-wife trapped without any avenues for self-advancement in a faceless skyscraper. Narain plays her husband and Ramya Krishnan acts as Nathan's female confidante. Shyamaprasad's films has a mature and unique way of treating human interactions and relationships. His earlier films like Agnisakshi and Akale were testament to his creative abilities. Ore Kadal doesn't disappoint either.

The story of Ore Kadal is contemporary, self-centric where the focus moves away from people as pawns in a joint family (like in Agnisakshi) to the people themselves. Many of Deepti's actions reminds me of the role of an individual in a westernized society more than the one in the traditional Indian society that she resides in. The screenplay has been meaningfully translated into the context, no wonder when the director himself is the writer, the quality is reflected in the final product.

I hear that this movie barely ran for a week in cities like Thiruvananthapuram, supposedly this is an award film not fit for consumption by general public. I think more than anyone else it is the public who is responsible for abysmal fate of the current Malayalam movie industry.