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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Dec 23, 2008

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Once in a while Bollywood loves to throw a curve ball - this time it is called Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. It just goes to prove how 'anjaan' I am when it comes to forming an opinion about movies I am yet to watch. I had tried to stay 'grown-up' regarding the two phenomena unleashed by this film - Imran Khan mania and Genelia D'Souza making it to the top 10 of Google India Zeitgeist 2008. Imran Khan looked like his uncle Aamir Khan's clone and Genelia, well, what was the big fuss about her, we had already seen her in Boys, right? Well, the credit of all the hoopla goes to the film.

It is the usual handsome guy falls for the beautiful girl type of college romance, but it becomes interesting because it is contemporary, the dialogs are natural so are the actors and have some hummable songs thanks to A.R.Rehman. I think credit for making this run of the mill story a success goes to the writer-director, Abbas Tyrewala.

Also worth mentioning is the unique vein of comedy in the film. There is the framed and revered picture of Amar Singh Rathore(played by Naseeruddin Shah who is a talking picture a la Harry Potter) which conducts an ongoing fight from beyond the grave with his wife Savitri(played by Reena Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah's real life wife) which is entertaining to say the least. Another actor with perfect comic timing is Sohail Khan, another of those unexpected funny characters and yes, don't to forget the horses - the Rajput way of fighting global warming. Review: A timepass full-fledged entertainer.

Dec 4, 2008

Malabar Wedding

When Kathakali started getting old, the tourism industry of Kerala discovered Theyyam - the popular ritual dance of North Kerala, lesser known in the tourism circles but culturally much more alive than Kathakali. North Kerala or Malabar comes to the rescue once more when Malayalam movie industry has started running out of genuine Malayali cultural events as themes for their movies. This time around it is the custom of "sorakalyanam" which often accompanies weddings in North Malabar.

I do not know whether the tradition of sora-kalyanam is still going strong or not, but it was when 10-20 years ago when my cousin-brothers were getting married one by one. Sorakalyanam is an elaborate set of pranks and jokes played by the groom's friends on the newly wedded couple on their wedding day. Sometimes the jokes might get too harsh and end up in something serious, although this didn't happen very often.

Indrajith is the hero, Manukuttan - the local youth leader and organizer of several sorakalyanams. Unlike his brother Prithviraj, Indrajit has shown a wider range in his acting. Whether he is a villian, the comedian or the hero, I am yet to see him in a role that doesn't look natural on him. His team of friends in the film include Mamukkoya, Suraaj Venjarmoodu and others. The film-maker duo of Rajesh-Faisal have tried to tell a simple tale. It is one of the bearable Malayalam films of the recent times without the presence of over-bearing superstars. If not for the totally out-of-place climax and the introduction of a new character, which could have been avoided, it is an ok movie.

Dec 3, 2008

Hello

If Atul Agnihotri is to become a director in his own right, he'll have to come out of the shadow of his illustrious brother-in-law, Salman Khan. Till then he has no chance of redemption as a film-maker. Compromising creativity by keeping it all in the family doesn't seem to be the likely path to success.

Hello, what was with the helicopter, Salman Khan and a team of safar-suited security guys surrounding him at the start of the movie? Even J.K.Rowling, she of the wizards, witches, evil Voldemort and a billion dollar empire travels less obtrusively. Salman Khan conveniently forgets the character he has to play. This is the trade mark of all his movies - he is never the character, he is always the megastar, Sallu Khan. And the opening song - whoa! I'd assume the fantasy of a writer would more be in line with writing a best-selling book or winning the Nobel for literature or at least a Booker and not gyrating bare chested with a bevy of blonds on the dance floor. But then writers are not Salman Khan, what do they know?

Blame me, I had some expectations for the movie after reading Chetan Bhagat's novel, One Night @ The Call Center on which the movie is based. The story was tailor-made for Bollywood. In the hands of a good director, it'd have been a definite hit. The theme was contemporary, the characters were young and vibrant and to the gratification of the Indian psyche even God had a role!

The script by Bhagat and Agnihotri is patchy at the best. There are some good lines but they never find their mark. The casting is horrible! When you read the book(yah, reading is the crime, I should've skipped that and just watched movie), the characters were in the 20-25 age group - right out of college and straight in to the BPO band-wagon, thanks to big bucks.

What do we have in the film - a group of aging lions who are trying to fit into teeny bopper clothes. Sohail Khan and Gul Panag are the worst. Gul Panag is a good actress, but what is she doing here in the clothes that belongs to a roadside show-off ten years younger to her? And Vroom, the character played by Sohail Khan, was a dare devil biker in his early twenties. Early twenties and Sohail Khan?!!! That was a lifetime ago that he might not even remember how it felt like. Sharmaan Joshi is bearable. Esha Koppiker and Amrita Arora could be easily forgotten. The only success achieved by the casting team is Sharad Saxena as military uncle. Dilip Taahil as the evil boss is ok. But none of this is as bad as casting Salman Khan as an author. His father might have been one, but Salman clearly didn't inherit his writer genes.

The movie outplays the book when it comes to anti-American rhetoric. (My review of the book is here.) Maybe it was a ploy to get the money from the nationalistic crowd, looks like that didn't work either.Review: A complete letdown.