Wednesday, 31 August 2011

August 15 Malayalam Film Review

August 15 is a well made suspense thriller written by SN Swamy and directed by Shaji Kailas.It cannot be termed as an excellent edge of the seat thriller since at many points pace do drop,but for most of the part director has been able to keep the viewer hooked.

An assassination attempt is made on chief minister,and police officer Perumal is assigned the task of foiling any further attempt as well as to find the assassin.But the assassin turns out to be wily,cunning,an expert at disguises who has been able to evade the police with ease. The cat and mouse game between assassin and Perumal begins where both try to upstage each other.The aftermath of this is that assassin becomes determined to carry out his mission since he is someone who cannot tolerate failure,who is a psychopath who destroys anyone in his path to achieve his objective.The film looks at this dangerous battle of control between the police officer and the criminal,with a surprising conclusion which takes you unawares when the dust settles towards the end.

Shaji Kailas films usually include Kerala politics and it is clear in this film that where his political affiliations lean towards to.Any astute viewer could see that on whom the chief minister in the film and party secretary is modelled on.Even though it gets little bit on the nerves,the chief minister here is portrayed as paragon of virtues,a so called perfect person which is hard to believe and I feel director who modelled it on real life personality has gone little bit overboard and seems to have mastered the art of flattery.Then again this is not an important thing since fortunately the focus of the film is not on hardcore politics but on the investigation aspect and here unlike previous Shaji films,tone is somewhat subdued.Fortunately there is no unnecessary fireworks in the form of bombastic dialogues and too much of slow motion walk by the hero.The inner politics among the police department is depicted,but it has not gone overboard.

As a director,Shaji kailas has not let the viewer down.The film is technically sound.The chase scene between Perumal and assassin is well handled.Talking about performances,there is nothing exceptional in the role played by Mammootty.As is usual is the case he has been able to deliver.Siddique as the psychopathic assassin has also done justice to the role.He has been able to bring out the various shades of gray convincingly required of this character.Jagathi unfortunately is little bit off color here.Generally a reliable performer,but here his character sort of didn't gel with the movie.Lalu Alex ,Vijay are quite adequate in their roles. Back ground music by Rajamani suits this genre type film.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Karyasthan Malayalam Film Review

Malayalam film industry always has this fascination for films related to warring families and then their happy reunion at the end.The story line of these type of films will be similar,there will be two powerful families in a village run by patriarchs with a dozen children who initially will be close friends,but due to some misunderstanding perpetuated by a villain,will become bitter enemies and their enmity will span decades until some one preferably from younger generation will set things right,whereby the villain is caught and at the end every one sings a happy song and all ends well.The story line of Karyasthan is also somewhat similar.Not only the story is one regurgitated many times before,I feel there is only one word to describe this film,and that is the word "silly".Yes this film is really silly,with its low standard comedy,manipulative emotional scenes,over acting and to add nail on the coffin,irritating songs.

Unni wants to reunite his father with his relatives,who banished him to a remote Tamil Nadu village when he married against their wish.So he sets on a journey along with his best friend Vadivelu to his grandfather's house to meet the objective of reuniting his grandfather's and his best friend's family.The film looks at the hilarious sequences that follow when he lands up at the house and take up the job of a caretaker.The film follows the usual pattern of love affairs,again misunderstanding,and it is of course the duty of the hero the emerge triumphant by demolishing the villain and needless to say everything is rosy at the end with every one singing the traditional family song in their best traditional attire.

Dilip is no doubt a good actor and this type of roles suit him,but if he wants to be taken as a serious actor,he should avoid this type of repetitive roles.Then again one cannot blame him,since he is typecast in this type of roles and if audience want this type of substandard stuff then who can blame him.Suraj as his best friend is able to evoke some laughs and that is only because of his natural talent rather than anything to do with the script.Two talented artists Salim Kumar and Harisree Ashokan are wasted in roles which require them to do overacting with the same set of expressions which they have done in countless movies before.

As such it was really a pain to sit through this boring film with tons of actors floating here and there and mouthing serial standard dialogues,there is no point in wasting time on analyzing the acting department.The direction is really poor,silly coincidences,poor script and thousands of other things I don't have time to point out.One of the worst films I have seen in my life.

My Rating: POOR    

Monday, 29 August 2011

Arjunan Sakshi Malayalam Film Review

There are some films which start of with a bang,gives you high hopes and then fizzles out towards the end.Arjun Sakshi is one such film.It had a promising start,but then ends up like just like another action film with the standard set of villains and the common man ranting against the system,which we have seen in many Malayalam films before. In spite of the flaws,the film do highlight some of the issues a fast growing city like Kochi face like the hardships common man face due to traffic jams and how some selfish people could derail people centric projects for their benefit.

A prominent newspaper receives an anonymous letter in which the writer claims to be the witness to the murder of Rashid Moopan,former collector.The newspaper publishes this,and the journalist who received this letter is threatened by an anonymous caller to disclose the identity of the writer.Roy,an architect is misunderstood as Arjun,the anonymous writer by the people involved in the murder of Moopan.This film looks at how Roy gets caught in this web from which he cannot extricate himself without causing damage,and how he tries to overcome that.

Even though the film is interesting on some levels,the way in which Roy trapped the villains,look too simplistic.Even if there is a witness to a murder,unless there is physical evidence,it is something difficult to prove.So the villans becoming paranoid seems to be created just to give the platform for the hero to win.Also I did not understand the logic behind the killing of Rashid's father.Coming to the execution of the film,director has been able to extract good performances from almost all actors,but falters when it comes to the action scenes.It is true that Malayalam films have budgetary constraints,so it is difficult to pull off heavy duty action scenes.So best option is not to atempt that and fail.The chase scene is not properly executed and looked amateurish.The final stunt scene with the four villains is also not able to make any impact.Even though primarily a comic actor,Jagathi has excelled in playing various type of characters and found success,but here in the role of Rashid's father he is not convincing.There seems to be too much of a conscious effort to get into that character,a neurosurgeon that it sort of looks artificial.Prithviraj even though stiff in some scenes has been able to do justice to the role.As such none of the other characters stand out,they all seems to be like cardboard copies you find in a typical action film,so there is no point in discussing the acting merits or demerits.

The background music is in tone with the film and is well done.The songs are nothing much to write about.They are just about there to fill in the gaps.


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Best Actor Malayalam Film Review

'Best Actor' is an example of a film,which on script looks promising but when implemented do not look as plausible or interesting as in the script.This is what happens here also.A film with many implausible scenes,weakness in script,attempt to play to the gallery by creating unnecessary melodramatic scenes,irritating background score when combination of all these factors come together,what you get is an interesting concept gone wrong.

Mohan is a school teacher with the ambition to become an actor in a movie.His entire life is dedicated to achieve this objective where by he even ignores his loving wife and son.When a group of assistant directors planning to make an action film make fun of him and insist that he should have real life experience of a thug,he literally believes it due to his innocent nature and starts living with four real life thugs.The film looks at the hilarious sequences that follow when he encounters professional thugs and his real life merges with the reel life he dreams on.

Credit has to be given that good actors like Venu,Lal,Salim Kumar have been able to master the local slang and make these colorful characters interesting,but a 2.5 hour movie just do not depend on just characterization,but should have an adept screenplay to hold the attention of viewer.This fact is sadly missing here.Also Lal's overacting at some scenes is off-putting.As a director Martin shines in parts,but not able to do justice in some scenes.An example which comes to mind is where the assistant directors indoctrinate Mohan with the Vivek Oberoi story.This scene do not come off naturally and seems to be fake and artificial.The actors also seems to be trying too hard to make an impact.Baiju in the role of police inspector is not convincing,and those scenes are also not handled properly.

Mammootty unfortunately is also not in his elements and in many scenes he looks stiff and uninterested.The hindi dialogue scene is really cringe worthy and embarrassing.The songs are not memorable and there is an irritating humming at melodramatic scenes.The objective seems to appeal to the emotional aspect of the viewer,but unfortunately I don't think anyone would be moved.As such I will concede that there are some really good,realistic dialogues which implies some hard work has gone into the dialogues.At least on that aspect the dialogue writer should be given credit.


Traffic Malayalam Film Review

Traffic is a brilliantly executed edge of the seat thriller.An accident at a traffic junction sets off a chain of events with in a period of 12 hours which culminate in an adrenaline pumping thriller fest.The thriller element is not in chase of a sinister villain or pulping of a dozen villains by a superstar.Rather it is in the race to save a human life by the delivery of a live heart from a town hospital to another and the entire machinery ranging from police force to the dear ones of people involved in this mission,their trials,tribulations,their emotional turmoil is captured here in a realistic manner.This mission is handled by a disgraced policeman,supported by a doctor with some secrets and by a guilt ridden youngster grieving for his best friend.Whether they will achieve success overcoming all odds,that is what this film is all about.

The best part of this film is its racy screenplay.There is not a dull moment.You are always in anticipation of what happens next.All the characters are well flushed out and ably supported by good performances from artists. Rahman as the arrogant superstar incapable of appreciating his love for his daughter gives a great performance.Sai Kumar is turning out to be one of the best character artist since Venu and Thilakan, and he gives a heartfelt performance as the grieving father. Anoop Menon is quite adequate in that role.Kunchacko Boban is a much improved actor these days and the result here also is not different.Rajesh Pillai as a director clearly shines in this film.

Even though this film can be termed as almost perfect,there is some minor flaws I would like to point.The secret behind the character of Abel is little bit unconvincing,also for the reason that he is a doctor,he should be able to control his emotions well.There is no denying that this factor is one of the reasons due to which the film was able to maintain a good level of suspense,but I feel writers should have exploited a more plausible reason.Another factor was the filmstar's fan club members trying to evacuate people in the slums,which looked rather filmy and looks as if inserted since director felt like film lacks some playing to the gallery stuff.

The background music is quite captivating.I loved the music played towards the end of the mission.The songs though not catchy,are quite listenable.

My Rating: GOOD

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ore Kadal Malayalam Film Review

A dreary,boring wannabe intellectual film by Shyamaprasad.Mammootty in the role of eminent economics professor is a drunkard,horny guy who scoffs at love,bonding,emotional attachments and is in dire need of women when the need arises.He meets a housewife Deepthi who is going through economic hardships whom he helps and as is his want seduces her.The cat and mouse game starts where you find Deepthi and Nathan going through emotional turmoils and the rest of the movie looks at the consequences of this encounter.

The character of Nathan,instead of the complexity the director is trying hard to hoist on him,comes across as a rather simple,normal guy who in the end start appreciating the fact that he is human after all.But the transformation and the events which lead to it all looks superficial by the attempt to give that psuedo intellectual arty treatment.Mammootty is no doubt a fine actor and here also he has tried his best to do justice to the role,but with poor direction and a weak script,he cuts a funny figure rather than the complex,eccentric,tragic figure.

Deepthi,the housewife who is enamoured by Nathan,who incidently unlike Nathan has strong views on what constitutes sin is tormented by the affair which even unbalances her mind.To tell the truth if this was handled by an able director,audience would have been moved by her plight.Instead there is no such feeling and I wanted the film to get over as quickly as possible.But credit has to be given to Meera Jasmine who plays this role without causing much damage.

Shyamaprasad as a director fails at many scenes which I would like to point out.A hallmark of a good director is how he handles child artists.Here Shyamaprasad fails miserably and it was a pain to sit through the scenes involving the child artists.Another scene which comes to mind is the one where Deepthi's neighbour tries to take advantage of her.Director did not handle that scene properly and a pathetic actor was chosen for that role.

Coming to side characters Narain and Ramyakrishnan have given good performances.Ramya's character also had some tragedy associated with it but like Nathan,it also comes out as artificial and fake.The scene where she gives money to a beggar boy can be termed cringeworthy including her backstory.

Background Music by Ouseppachan is just about listenable,but songs are not all interesting.It also has the same wannabe arty sound.Overall I would say a disappointing film.

My Rating: POOR

Friday, 26 August 2011

Salil Chowdhury Master Melody Maker Malayalam Songs

Salil Chowdhury is one of my favorite music directors.During the 70's and early 80's he has given music to number of Malayalam films. If one has to take account of best Malayalam film songs, I am sure that there will be many Salil Chowdhury songs in that list.Salil Chowdhury's songs are characterized by its catchy melody,meticulous arrangements,abrupt changes in tone which enhances the quality of the songs.He had a unique style due to which the moment you listen to his song,we can determine it  be a Salil Choudhary song.Initially my intention was to list best ten songs from his Malayalam songs,since it is difficult to just list ten songs since even his worst songs in Malayalam had a certain quality which cannot be disregarded.So in various posts I would like present my impressions of some of his songs

Aa Kayyilo Ee Kayyilo(Ragam)-A fun song by Yesudas.The song seems to just like a normal song till it takes a delightful turn at "Pookada Chennu thurannotte" which enhances an otherwise normal song according to Salil standards.

Araro Swapnajalakam(Puthiyavelicham)-A typical Salil Choudhary song.The twists and turns which you can usually expect from songs given by Salil to female singers you can see here.Nothing exceptional, a sort of sing along song and nothing more than that.

Aarattukadavil(Puthiyavelicham)-One of the weak songs among Salil Songs.Pretty simplistic and without the complexity you expect from a Salil song.Even though it is sung well by Jayachandran,unsual to Salil songs,this song sounds dated.

Aathira Poovaniyam(Pratheeksha)-When you hear the heavenly voice of Yesudas,you know that you are in for a treat and what a treat is this song.Melodious, sung to perfection by Yesudas.There is not much in orchestration here and song is completely dependent on Yesudas's singing.A simple song with a catchy melody which will arouse the romantic in you.

Allimaril Kavil(Anthiveyilponnu)- A song with folk touch sung enhanced by the child-woman voice of Janaki which suits this song perfectly.Best part for me is at "kannu Nattu Kathirunnu" when an interesting twist in the  song accompanied by an appropriate chorus.An above average song.

AmbadiPoonkuyile(Ragam)-An average song in the voice of P.Susheela.Even though Susheela is a good singer,her pronunciation leaves much to be desired.Nothing much to write about this other than that singer has struggled little bit in this song and not much damage is done but overall just about a listenable song.

Ayilyam Paadathe(Rasaleela)- An excellent song.Yesudas in high pitch and perfectly sung with perfect twist at the   part "Kiliye Kiliye" which takes abrupt turn from the beginning which is characteristic of good Salil Choudhary songs.Vani Jayaram's rendition is also excellent here and Salil introduces her velvety voice at right times throughout the song.Salil's orchestration is also excellent here which ranges from folk music to western style drums with excellent chorus in the background.

BhoomiNandini(Chuvanna Chirakukal)-An above average song sung well by Janaki with her haunting voice.Loved the guitar part and overall flow of the song which is pretty soothing.

Bhoomithan Sangeetham(Anthiveyilponnu)-An excellent song.A haunting,melodious song.This song can be termed as the song of those times,reflecting the musical style of that period,but to give it credit do not look aged at all.Of course Yesudas's sweet,divine voice  at its best.One thing I love about most of Salil songs is the appropriate placement of chorus which enhances the song and here also it is not different.

I would love to present my impressions about other Salil Songs in future posts.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Sculptress Minette Walters Novel Review

You form the image of a person from the account on various media outlets.This may not be always true.Writer Rosalind Leigh is faced with this reality when she is forced by her agent to write about an overweight,ruthless woman named Olive Martin who hacked to death her mother and sister.But after meeting her, Leigh is not convinced whether Olive has done the deed eventhough she has confessed to the crime.Even though Olive has the reputation of being a big liar,Leigh could see that there is certain truth behind her lies and her objective becomes to filter out truth from the maze of lies floating about her.This novel explores this attempt by Leigh to uncover the truth behind the horrific killings and to unmask the murderer.

The novel is well paced and you are in anticipation of what happens next.Walter's writing is of good quality and she has been able to bring depth in characterization of the principal characters of Leigh and Olive Martin.The pace slows a bit when Novel concentrates on Leigh's romantic life as well as on Olive's attorney and his role in this puzzle.But then it picks up pace and comes to a surprising conclusion where Walters also offers an interesting alternative where readers are prompted toward the notion whether the happy ending is in fact a mirage.

This is my first Minette Walters novel and I am quite impressed and will definitely look forward to more of her novels.

My Rating: GOOD

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Chatham School Affair Thomas H Cook Novel Review

An old man Henry looks back at his life,his childhood at the small town of  Chatham.It was year 1926 and a beautiful woman Channing joins his school as art teacher.This novel beautifully captures the life of this small town of Chatham,the teacher,her colleagues,Henry's father who happened to be the headmaster of the school in poetic prose as well as maintaining the suspense quotient intact.

This is not an easy novel to read.It do not have the pulse pounding action associated with the thriller genre nor can claim the edge of the seat suspense factor also.But it is compensated by the measured pace studded with lyrical prose,flushing out the characters,putting the readers in emotional turmoil by the tragic event which unfold and then ending with a surprising conclusion which neatly explains the emotional rollercoaster through which various characters in this novel pass through.

This is my first Thomas H Cook and I have to say that I have become a big fan so much that definitely I will look forward to more Cook novels.The powerful impact this novel still had on me is such that the principal tragic character of Elizabeth Channing is still fresh in my mind and refuses to go away. The way Cook has handled various human relationships,the vagaries of love,the rebelous,stubborn teenage mind,conservative and liberal thinking on the part of characters,all these have to be commended.

I Am Hindi Film Music Review

Some of my favorite songs happen to be from films directed by Onir like My brother Nikhil and Bas Ek Pal. He seems to be  a director who works with multiple music directors and has the ability to extract best from them and package them as a cohesive album. That is why when I came to know that the film 'I am' is directed by Onir,I expected it to have an excellent soundtrack and I was not disappointed.

Baangur-Amit Trivedi-The song starts on a rustic note,has the stamp of Amit Trivedi to it.Interesting part is where guitar part comes in, a fine example of fusion where east and west meets with fine performance by both the singers.

Issi Baat Pe,Issi Baat Pe(Remix)-A fine melodious song by the soulful voice of KK.Interestingly I found remixed version better than original one.The remix part really take off at the part "bhoj banke" where the beats in the background clearly gives a push to increase the loveliness of the song and then the fast paced keyboard playing in the mid part of the song is great.

Ankhen-Vivek Philip-The moment you hear it,you know that it is by Vivek Philip.This is an example of a song if you just listen once,there is a chance that you may not get the subtleties hidden in this song and you may discard it.If that is the case then you are making a mistake.You need to listen to this multiple times and then surely it will grow on you.Interesting part for me in this was the part "kithne afsane" with its background music and a soulful chorus at that point and the change in tune at the "karthi hai tumse" when singer goes in high pitch.

Saye Saye-Amit Trivedi-It is always pleasure to listen to Rekha Bharadwaj.When Rekha's haunting vocals welcome you, you know that you are in for a treat.You are not disappointed and get to listen to a song where right fusion of electronic music,classical music and bit of eastern music.

Wundoo Yeredoo-Rajiv Bhalla-An excellent dance track.It has Kannada lyrics and it expertly blend in the song and gives that danceability quotient.This song is quite infectious and melodious.Interesting part for me in the song is the guitar part(or is it some other instrument) around mid part after "Guddiye Guddiye",really melodious.

Bojhal Se,Bojhal Se(Remix)- Clearly a song which can be credited to KK's singing prowess.Loved original as well as Remix.Loved the abrupt change from slow paced to a fast paced one with a with the fierce female vocal in the Remix version.

Overall I will say this is a great collection of songs which can be listened in a loop which are melodious,soul stirring,infectious.


Monday, 22 August 2011

The Janissary Tree Jason Goodwin Novel Review

A historical mystery with a eunuch as a detective makes an interesting prospect in the usually rule by books mystery genre.Added to that if the background is the historically rich Istanbul,then it is icing on the cake.Jason Goodwin's Janissery Tree is one such novel which on one side is a finely crafted mystery novel but also on the other side gives you glimpses of  Istanbul of 1830s without the usual stale history which you read in professional history books.

When four soldiers of the  army is missing, Vizier is worried and he calls for the help of Eunuch Yashim,who has the uncanny ability to talk to people,make them at ease and thereby drawing their secrets.Mean while there are some jewels also missing from the palace and Yashim is given the assignment of catching the thief also.We are taken along this quest by Yashim where the suspects range from the rebels Janissaries to foreign powers ranging from Russians to British.

More than the mystery aspect,I loved this novel for the atmosphere which Goodwin was able to invoke.The Istanbul of 1836 comes alive before us in Goodwin's beautiful writing.But a minor irritation was Yashim's love life depicted and his encounter which was not convincing. Initially mystery is intriguing,but as it proceeds,I will say it goes little bit off track and pace slows a bit,but nevertheless it ends in a surprising conclusion when Goodwin ties all the ends neatly and do not disappoint.

My Rating: GOOD