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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Sep 28, 2012

The Road

The road is hopeless, long and grim
But they’ve to go on, his boy and him
To South and sun on some ocean’s rim
To South and sun on some ocean’s rim

That is the whole of The Road or my pseudo Frost-ian take on it. Cormac McCarthy won’t spare you like the pithy Mr.Frost. When I read the novel some years ago its apocalyptic vision haunted me for days. It also made me feel blessed, for what we human beings have today – the gift of life on the most beautiful planet in the Solar System and the entire known universe. The Road is very different from McCarthy's previous book that was also turned into a movie which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2007 - No Country for Old Men.

It’s been a long time since I read the novel, The Road. As usual I’ve forgotten most of its details except its pervasive air of doom and grey and its final flicker of hope. I think the movie has captured most, if not all of the core story and the portentous mood of the novel.

If you can appropriately capture the vision of a ghastly, leaden, blown open Earth and make the right casting decision for the roles of father and son, you’ve the movie in your pocket. Director John Hillcoat finds a perfect actor pair in Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee and along with cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe and script writer Joe Penhall he creates a masterful visual poem of  life after the death of Earth.

If you want a little gloom and doom with your pizza and beer this Saturday night (now, isn’t that a perfect combo), check out The Road.

Sep 27, 2012


Mayamohini is all about Dileep. If you like the actor, who goes by the honorary title of "Janapriya Nayakan" (vaguely translated by me as darling hero of the crowds), this is one movie you cannot miss and you probably have already watched it. When Dileep revealed his 'Chanthupottu' act in Chanthupottu in 2005, it was established that no other actor in current Malayalam cinema can do a transgender role with the natural ease and daring of Dileep, that too without being ridiculed for the loss of masculinity. Kerala State film award committee overlooked his ground breaking performance in favor of Mohanlal’s exaggerated portrayal of an Alzheimer’s patient that year.

Since Chanthupottu was a tough act to follow, I didn’t think a story/movie would come along with the same hilarious-to-the-boot appeal anytime soon. Mayamohini was a pleasant surprise. Not only does Dileep shine in an entertaining transgender role, he (with the help of script writers Udayakrishna and Sibi K Thomas) also presents the character without causing any deja vus of the 2005 film.

In addition to Dileep, Mayamohini sees the transfiguration of Babulal, the brawny "ex-villain actor" into a full-blown comedy talent. Biju Menon, one of the other actors in a main role is also seen experimenting with comedy, progressing upwards from his slightly humorous role in the film, Ordinary. There are two female leads in the movie Lakshmi Rai and Mythili, but their roles are negligible.

Dissecting a movie into first half and second half is not a technique I enjoy, but this is one movie that begs for it. Sorry director Jose Thomas, you have given us a good entertainer, thanks to fantastic acting by the lead actor, but I regret to say the second half sucked. Same thing happened with Chanthoputtu too. As long as we get to keep Dileep in his transgender role, it is a laugh riot. But movie makers in order to give a proper ending and to reaffirm the status of hero as a man, make a 180 degree turn in the second half and in the end we have the same formulaic pot boiler with an annoying climax with stunts, car chases and villains galore.

That said, I’ll watch and re-watch it just to ruminate over Dileep’s wonderful performance as Mayamohini unlike many commenters and reviewers who are lamenting over the vulgarity, crassness and cheapness of the movie. Chill, people, relax and get into the zone, the Dileep zone that is, after all this is the first Malayalam movie with a gay kiss scene (don't take your family lest homosexuality is contagious from screen to audience), a bold move for a product of a hypocritical and conservative society such as Kerala.

Sep 26, 2012

Diamond Necklace

Joy Alukkas got a 2 hour ad, Malayalis got a box office hit of the highest quality and Lal Jose and his team proved that they can give us good films more than once in a blue lotus (Mal: neelathamara.)

Diamond Necklace has us smack down in center of Keralites ‘sankalpa rashtram’ (means ideal nation, source: Gandhinagar 2nd Street) - Dubai and it doesn’t stop there, it takes us to the most coveted address in this emirate mecca – Burj Khalifa. There are cool cars and hot chicks, that’s the way Dr.Arun(Fahad Fazil), the hero of our movie, rolls. He’s into all that, while practicing oncology for sourcing his cash flow. Somehow the money stops rolling, while Dr.Arun continues to roll downhill, demonstrating a classic example of Newton’s first law and inertia of motion.

Dr.Arun is a ladies man, but he is not portrayed as ‘despo’ as Saif Ali Khan is in the first scenes of a recent Bollywood movie, Cocktail. In fact he is equally devoted to curvaceous four wheelers as he is to lithe two legged human females, no partiality there. He must have had a colorful history, but we meet the hero while he is working his charms and non-native language skills on a beautiful nurse from our neighboring state, Tamilnadu. That goes on for a while before his credit cards max out and he has to resort to extreme measures (read marriage) to save his future.

You cannot make a movie about Dr.Arun without a a bevy of belles, thus we have Gautami Nair, Samvruta Sunil and Anushree Nair crossing paths with our leading man. Dr.Arun has a support network outside his girl friends and colleagues, a group of hard working blue collar Malayalis led by Sreenivasan. The story is believable and  all the different angles are explored to the right extent. I couldn’t find any lose ends hanging or the captivating cinematography hid all the unwanted threads from my view.

The casting is perfect and all the actors have contributed their due share in making this movie a success. Fahad Fazil’s name has become synonymous as the thinking (wo)man’s actor. Anushree Nair, winner of the reality contest Vivel Big Break gets her big break and uses it to the hilt as one the three female protagonists.

The film has captured the changing ethos of Malayali society where the financial elite are going for diamonds over gold, for gold is so yesterday. If you don’t believe me, watch the segment where Joy Alukka pops in to affirm the value and the resale ability of a Joy Alukkas diamond necklace. But I am willing to overlook the diamonds in a movie named Diamond Necklace because it is all about people, really. 

For people who just can't get enough of Diamond Necklace, try these links...
  1. Lal Jose's own blog has a series of posts on the movie.
  2. If you really want to buy a diamond necklace, but don't want to pay for it, visit Alibaba in China (where else will you find Alibaba?)
  3. Or else satiate your diamond craving by buying a Diamond Necklace DVD from these places if you live in the United States.