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 31, 2011

Filmstar

Filmstar – another movie about movie industry, for a change this time we have a different set of movie stars than what we got to watch Udayanaanu Tharam or Katha Parayumbole.  Infact it is like Katha Parayumbole without a solid katha(story)/script and some politics of the red kind thrown in for the masala(spice.)

Kalabhavan Mani plays superstar SuryaKiran and Dileep is a down and out commoner turned script writer Nandhagopan. In the age of terse texting it is hard to believe that vacuous scripts like this will sell. Did it?

My hand on TV remote’s forward button did get any rest while watching this movie, maybe you should take it as a sign.

Dec 25, 2011

Chappa Kurish

Chappa Kurish (Kochi speak for heads or tails), whatever the outcome of this coin flip was for its producer, is a definite winner in my book. With a mere 65 lakhs investment(you won’t be able to buy an apartment in Kochi for that amount), I am pretty sure Listin Stephen did get more than her money back.

Samir Thahir, cinematographer turned director has created a technical poem of a movie(if there ever was one) using Canon 7D.

Red One (Yakshiyum Njanum, Unnaipol Oruvan), Canon 7D – digital is surely making inroads into our movie industry. For Malayalam film industry where Indian Rupee is still a scarce commodity, producers will possibly get to spend the money they saved by switching to digital in other much needed areas. 

Chappa Kurish is supposedly a lift-off of a Korean flim, Handphone. I haven’t seen the Korean one but from its synopsis and reviews it looks to me as if the copy was better than the original. Thank your luck, Malayalis! Like many movies of the recent past(Mammootty starrer The Train for one), cell phone plays the leading role and it is not just any cell phone, it is the special one with an I prefix. Mac and its brand placement has it eyes on the right prize – the nouveau  I-nternet enabled I-billion of I-ndia. Blackberry and Android try harder and come up with more candy and icecream, Indian sweet tooth is legendary.

Trying to steal I-balls from the I-phone are our two leading men – Fahad Fazil(Arjun) and Vineeth Sreenivasan(Ansari). It is essentially a guy vs guy over a cell phone story with some girls in the background. Both the guys have played it to perfection. Aiding them in this endeavor is the simple and genuine feeling script which had lots of opportunities to go overboard but conducts itself with restraint.

From Kaiyethum Doorathu(2002) to Chappa Kurish(2011) via Kerala Kafe and Tournament – Fahad Fazil has done quite the impossible – a long invisible absence followed by a reinvention of a comeback.
Rex Vijayan (guitarist of rock band Avial) has composed very contemporary background music to go with the mood of the movie. Remya Nambeeshan who plays the most prominent  female character – Soniya fulfils her role with an understated ease. Other low-key but strong performances come from  Jinu Joseph as Arjun’s Man Friday and Suni Thrissur as the manager of the grocery mart where Ansari .

The attention to details – starting off with one of the most beautiful love scenes ever filmed in Malayalam, leading to the naked vulnerability of Arjun when he learns what he has lost and the dark, gritty and realistic fight finale which ends with the protagonists sitting facing each other – two sides of the same coin, make Chappa Kurish a primer of later day(as in post 2010) Malayalam movies.

Dec 6, 2011

Karyasthan

Karyasthan is the on-screen version of Malayalam soaps. Where else, except in Malayalam TV serial land will you find big joint families still in existence, ready to put on a show at moment’s notice, armed and ready with copious amount of pancake make up, layers of lipstick and draped in heavy silk saris even at 1am at night.

Considering the unsatiated hunger of Malayali audience for such masterpieces of familial theatrics and histrionics, I should say, Dileep made a wise and safe choice for his 100th film. He is the misplaced family scion faking as a manager(Karyasthan) to bring together two feuding families and working to regain his father’s lost status.
The story is forgettable, but be assured, like a zombie it’ll come back in the next couple of months with a different hero belonging to a joint family(prestigious nevertheless) with a different name. Provided the hero is a super star, Malayali audience will embrace the zombie yet again with open arms with all the charm that they should’ve reserved for their own pennukaanal.

There is a host of supporting characters to provide for essential elements of a family drama like pride, arrogance, evil, superiority, helplessness(only female characters),benevolence(father/mother figures), mass appeal & courage(hero’s essential attributes),  stupidity, ignorance(the last two translate as comedy). Actors who were fortunate enough to be be cast in these supporting roles were Madhu, G.K.Pillai, Janardhanan, Sidhiq, Ganesan, Biju Menon, Lena, Suraj, Salim Kumar, Jagathy and umpteen others.

If this zombie has not caught you yet, stay that way.

Dec 3, 2011

Inspirational Songs : Tamil, Malayalam & Hindi

Almost a year ago, I compiled a list of inspirational /motivational songs in this blog. Though all of these were in English that post shows up as one of the top results in Google if you search for Tamil inspirational songs and a lot of people seem to be searching for inspiration in Tamil.

If you are seeking uplifting Tamil songs I am not the best person to provide an answer. But one Tamil song has been making rounds in our house(and probably every South Indian household with an internet connection) for the past week. It is one of the most viewed songs in YouTube this past month, with 15 million views and counting, you know what I am talking about – Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Di. Way to go Dhanush, Aishwarya and Anirudh Ravichander. It is from the movie 3 starring Dhanush and Shruti Hassan.



From Tamil onto Malayalam - one of the most difficult languages to write rock songs and my native language. When I saw Vineet Sreenivasan’s Malarvadi Arts Club, the closing scenes of the movie feature ‘supposedly’ a rock song. At that time I had wonderedand wished out loud that Vineet should’ve let Avial – the first real rock band to come out of Mallu land to compose and perform that song instead of the insipid piece that was in the movie. It looks like some film maker had the same idea as me (and a million others, I am sure.) Salt N Pepper one of the really watchable movies of 2011 hands the screen over to Avial and their musical extravaganza to provide a rocking end to the film. Performed by Avial for Salt n Pepper, here’s Aanakallan. Rock on, Malayalis!

With Tamil and Malayalam covered, how can I ignore Bollywood? Everyone might have an opinion about Ra-One and I have an opinion about his Chammak Challo. With music by Vishal Shekhar and sung by Akon, aimed to rope in a global audience, Chammak Challo is guarenteed to sizzle you. For added entertainment watch the video instead of just the audio, Bollywood as you know is all about color, emotions and music, it has to be enjoyed as a combo package and Chammak Challo will not disappoint.

That's inspiration X 3, in three Indian languages - Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi, take your pick.