Sunday, 18 September 2011

Marykkundoru Kunjadu Malayalam Film Review

Malayalam commercial cinema,just like other language commercial  cinema has a structure,the films should have the necessary masala ingredients to make them a  boxoffice success.Usually these type of films do well at the boxoffice but will be cliche ridden and really a pain to sit through.To give credit to Marykkundoru Kunjadu,it is a film well steeped in the usual malayalam commercial structure with the usual cliches,but fortunately do not stoop too low to be considered as garbage.The film has its moments,works like a sort of fable with an innocent charm to it so that the obvious manipulations which is on your face can to some extend be exempted.

The setting is a remote picturesque village where you meet the hero Solomon who is a simpleton with dreams of becoming a film director.He is lazy and is a burden on his poor family since he is not serious about life and is not interested in helping his family.As such he is on constant lookout by brothers of the girl  he loves,who don't hesitate to take advantage of his meek character to subject him to  physical beatings when opportunity arises.When a stray stranger appears at his house,he takes his help to fight back against his tormentors.The film looks at the mystery behind the sudden appearance of this stranger and his connection to Solomon's family.The film interestingly sets up the mystery where the audience is subjected to probe on the true intention of this guy.

As I mentioned, the film is like a fable or a children's story where there is this setting of this village with God fearing people, a church with its missing golden cross,where hero is expected to bring back the golden cross and everything will turn out fine.As such this story line looks little bit implausible,but then this is a  fable  and at the end when mystery unfolds you feel that this film has touched the right chords  and as much implausible this story is, you feel that the film has succeeded in telling a story with its human touch intact.

For Dileep who has played similar characters before this role is cakewalk and is something tailor made for him.He has done justice to the role.At some point I had a fear that given the superhero image which is expected from our  heroes,he will ultimately fight back against his tormentors and teach them a lesson which our super heroes usually do.Fortunately director do not take that route and so there is no dilution in hero's character.Some minor flaws like excessive stunt scenes to generate sympathy for the hero should  have been avoided.As a director Shafi has been able to bring authenticity to the setting and has handled his job well.Performances are pretty uniform and Biju Menon,Innocent,Vijayaraghavan,Jagathy,Salim Kumar all have contributed to make this film pretty strong as far as acting department is concerned.You can't find fault with any of these performances.For me the standout scene in this film is the introduction of Salim Kumar through the character of government doctor.This is a really well thought out scene and here the intended humor is of high quality.Of course the same quality is not  maintained throughout but as  pure entertainer,the film do not disappoint.


Friday, 9 September 2011

Race Malayalam Film Review

You are young,successful and have a bright future ahead,You have a loving family,wife that adores you,a cute daughter and you are going great guns at your career.But then your perfect world starts crumbling around you.Young,successful doctor Aby finds himself in this predicament when he meets a woman at a medical conference who informs him that his daughter is kidnapped and his wife is held hostage.He himself is held at gunpoint and a series of events take place that turn his life upside down.The film looks at the standoff between Aby and his family against a gang of ruthless criminals where by we see the seesaw battle between them with Aby trying to save his family where as the gang tries to achieve its objective.The suspense element lies in the fact that we get the feeling there is much more to the kidnapping with all the stakeholders trying to be mysterious with some secrets to hide.

This is a film which promises so much at the beginning,but really let us down towards the end.The initial portions are really interesting,you expect the film to end up as a taut,psychological thriller.But the film disappoints in the sense that it becomes too conventional just like many other films before when you truly expect it be different and thought provoking.As such it is not difficult to guess that there is a complex reasoning behind the kidnapping and subsequent standoff and when it all unravels there is a tinge of disappointment because filmmaker has really screwed up with a lame reasoning for all the drama.

In spite of the disappointment I felt,the film do have directorial merit.For most of the part it has been able to maintain that tense,suspense element intact and definitely credit has to be given to Kukku Surendran.The performances are noteworthy with all the actors able to put in impressive performances,even though Mamta Mohandas in some scenes were little bit underwhelming.The child artist is excellent.Jagathi displayed what a seasoned performer he is with his scenes with the child particularly worth mentioning.Kunchacko is in his elements here.Indrajith also do justice to the role.Music is not worth mentioning and is not memorable.Some scenes which do not add up to logic is the ones where Aby and his wife try to upstage their tormentors which the predicament in which they are in find hard to believe.Then again there is no need to over analyze and little bit of a leeway can be given as long as film is able to keep the viewer on the edge of the seat.The film accomplishes this to some extent and as I mentioned before unfortunately crumbles towards the end.In spite of the cringe worthy reasoning behind the whole drama,there is no doubt the noble intention of the filmmaker to highlight a serious malaise affecting our society.

My Rating: AVERAGE 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Makeup Man Malayalam Film Review

When Balu faces financial ruin due to the mismanagement of his company,he seeks help from his close friend,Kichu who is a production controller with movie company.Not only he has trouble in the financial front but also in his love life where he is forced to marry his longtime lover Surya.Kichu helps him by arranging a place to stay since Balu is facing evacuation from his own house due to the loan he has taken from loan shark Vareeth.Misunderstandings galore occur wen Surya is misunderstood as an actress seeking opportunity in the film industry.She gets an opportunity to become the heroine of a movie.Since Balu is clutching at the straws as far as his financial situation is concerned,he readily accepts that and forces the reluctant Surya to accept the offer.The film looks at the aftermath of this when in order to be in proximity of Surya,Balu takes up the job of a make up man.The hilarious sequences that follow constitutes the basic premise of this film.

A positive aspect of this film is that humor do not go overboard most of the times.Director Shafi and writers Sachi-Sethu have been able to give a fairly pacy screenplay to grab the attention of the viewer.The way misunderstandings pile up is handled with an element of humor of fairly good standard.The character of proud,arrogant,hot tempered director has been handled well.The skirmishes between the director and producer has been handled properly and has been able to provide fodder for some natural humor.Even though film was really interesting at the beginning,it starts to move towards boredom from mid portion onwards when the fight between the couple escalate where I feel screenplay loses its grip on the proceedings.Still filmmakers have to be applauded for handling a theme of distrust,inferiority complex,one-upmanship between the couple with sensitivity without too much of damage.Kunchacko's and Pritviraj's guest appearance is also well handled and fortunately do not take away the attention from the core story,rather compliments it well.The way television channels handle stories to increase the TRP ratings by playing on the lives of celebrities is brought forth in an interesting way.The story as such is old wine in new bottle,but since because of earnest performances from lead actors,a fairly good screenplay,a satisfactory conclusion,due to these factors I do not feel that viewer will be disappointed after watching this movie.

Jayaram and Sheela as lead characters have been able to give good performances.In the case of jayaram we have seen him in similar roles before many times,still to give credit to him he has not failed the audience here.But I feel the standout performer is Suraj as the production controller.He brings the house down with his humorous antics,add his own unique style to make this character interesting.Another great performance is by jagathy,as the loan shark who is at the receiving end always.He has been able to imbibe the characteristic slang in the language this character speaks,the slyness required in the character to perfection.Rest of the cast is adequate with special mention to Siddique and Janardhanan.Music is poor and none of the songs register any impact.
My Rating: AVERAGE

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Stoneman Murders Hindi film review

Year 1983.A series of killings occur in the mega city of Bombay.The victims happen to be pavement dwellers with their heads smashed with stones and the killings occur at night when the victims are asleep.Police is mystified and in spite of increasing night patrol,there is no stopping of the carnage.Mean while inspector Sanjay is suspended for a custodial death.He wants to get back into the force,so with the help of his superior Satam,he unofficially carries out the investigation to nab the serial killer who is known as the Stoneman killer by now.The film looks at the cat and mouse game between the officer and the psychopath where Sanjay is so overwhelmed in this quest where by cracks begin to appear in his family life.The film is an edge of the seat taut thriller where a surprise conclusion awaits at the end when the serial killer's identity is unmasked.

Director Manish Gupta has to be applauded for telling this story in a realistic manner,rather than taking the approach of the manipulative ways of Hindi commercial cinema.He has been able to extract good performances from lead actors.The investigative aspect is structured in a way with which one can identify and seems authentic and natural.The inner skirmishes among the police department is portrayed without any exaggeration.In fact loved the portrayal of Sanjay who also has some dirty secrets in his cupboard who is not the straightforward one as one assumes. Even though there is no wide pool of suspects,still the way suspicion shifts from person to person hooking the viewer to the proceedings has to be applauded,thereby passing the litmus test of what a good suspense movie requires.

The reasoning behind the serial killer's objective seems plausible,but the film's minor flaw sees to be the fact that the ease in which the killer is able to pursue Sanjay,do raise doubt about killer's identity at early stage.May be the screenplay should have taken care to have a wider pool of suspects so that film would have been more interesting.

Kay Kay Menon has given an excellent performance.He has been able to bring forth the inner turmoils,emotional outbursts of a cop outwitted by a wily,cunning psychopath convincingly.Arbaaz khan unfortunately has not been able to nail the character.He looks wooden in many scenes.The rest of the cast is adequate.Background music is excellent.It has been able to bring alive that eerie and haunting atmosphere of the film.The songs are also well tuned.


Gaddama Malayalam Film Review

There are some films that shock you with realism,the films that tug at your heartstrings,Gaddama belongs to that category.An average Malayalee is a migratory bird,he is someone who risks dangers to give life of happiness to his near and dear ones.When Ashwathy a young woman,who fell into financial difficulties due to untimely death of her husband accepts the job of a housemaid in a conservative,male centric but oil rich gulf country with tribal laws, she didn't expect the dangers that awaited her there.The film looks at her journey,her attempt to escape from her life of misery,the people she meets in this journey,most with sinister objectives,but some with hearts of gold.It also looks at the life of an immigrant population,the race to earn money,how it extinguishes humanness,how it forces people to betray their own people.This is a film by a director with a profound sense of knowledge of human conditions,acute observation power of Malayalee way of life,he who observe the various shades of gray even in relatively harmless common man and bring forth it  convincingly to the audience.

Even though on the outset the film looks like telling the simple story of a harassed house maid trying to escape from her employer,there is far more beyond that in this film.There is a level of complexity in this film ,that astute viewers could extrapolate if given sufficient attention,the way various stakeholders try to play their game and utilize the occasion to steer it for their advantage.The journalist who takes advantage of the situation by giving an yellow journalistic aspect to the story to increase circulation of his newspaper,the driver who betrays Ashwathi,these people in fact are far more dangerous and malicious than the tribal laws that punish innocent people like Ashwathy and her protector.You can see the strength of screenplay here where even a minor character like that of injured construction worker,how he takes advantage of the social worker who tries to help him,which proves that even among the so called common man you can find parasites which sucks the blood out of good Samaritans.

Kavya as Ashwathy has given an excellent performance.Her expressive eyes speak volumes,her transformation from innocent, wide eyed woman with hope of a bright future ahead to one who lose all hopes when everything crumbles around her is astonishing.Another noteworthy performance is by Murali Gopy.He is able to inculcate the conflicting emotions that character has to endure where by he has to decide between himself and another fellow being in need.Srinivasan is aptly cast as the social worker with a conscience among the hard hearted,selfish people around him.He has done justice to the role.Suraj also has given a good performance.Another noteworthy performance is by Shine Tom in the role of Basheer.Director Kamal has to be applauded for bringing forth this true story to silver screen and telling this in a simple straightforward manner without the usual trappings of the commercial cinema.The dialogues are also worth mentioning with dialogoe writer complimented for coming up with humane,hard hitting,realistic dialogues.

The songs by Bennet Veetrag is haunting and melodious.Background music  also complements the film and helps in enhancing the appeal of this well made film.

My Rating: GOOD

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Place Of Execution Val McDermid Novel Review

When you are young,you look at life with optimism and if you add ambition to it then that is a potent mix.For young police inspector George Bennet when he was presented with the case of missing teenager Alison Carter from the remote village of Scardale,he was enthusiastic and wanted to prove his worth.But as days rolled by with no trace of Alison,the initial enthusiasm starts to evaporate and the case starts to take a heavy toll on him.His wife is pregnant and his concern for the unborn child and Alison make him a person on the edge until the fierce determination to solve the case is what prompting him to move forward.He feels that the villagers instead of helping him in this quest are trying to shield someone among them.But by some lucky break emanating from the villagers itself,Bennet is able to zoom on the person responsible for the disappearance of Alison.Bennet is relieved,but is it really the end?.As one can read in this excellent novel,there is a deep mystery behind the disappearance of Alison where even the good hearted Bennet it seems have something to hide.A journalist who wants to write a book on this case is the one who untangles this web and brings out the secrets buried years ago at the village of Scardale.

This is one novel,where I confess that I find it difficult to put down once I started.The suspense is really well built and keeps you on the edge in the anticipation of what is going to happen next.You start sympathizing with the character of Bennet,the pains he go through to solve this tough case and you root for him to win.But then again you realize that life is not fair and what looks obvious need not always be so. Val Mcdermid has been able to paint the remote village of Scardale of 60's and the colorful characters of that village with a type of realism which only novelists with eye for detail and keen observation about human conditions can convincingly pull off.We realise that when we are introduced to the various characters in the village,there is a sense of camaraderie among them and general distrust towards outsiders.You are introduced to grandmother Lomas who turns out to be a mysterious character who holds some aces in this puzzle.As Bennet digs deeper,Ma Lomas's extensive knowledge about the terrain unearth some important clues which help him in getting closer to solving this intriguing puzzle.

This novel is considered one of the best among Val Mcdermid books.It has been nominated for Edgar award and has won several mystery awards.Even though on hindsight you may feel that story is little bit implausible,still what trumps is that this novel has got all ingredients in right mix that makes an excellent suspense/mystery novel.The pace never drops,the writing even though can't be termed as of literary quality,never wavers and maintain a consistent standard enough to maintain the pace,there is depth in characterization,the inner turmoils,emotional outbursts of the characters caught up in a tragedy well brought out by the writer.


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Game Hindi Film Review

Suspense/mystery is a genre which requires considerable thought and has the chances to bomb if not done right.The most important aspect of  this type of film is a racy screenplay which do not distract the attention of the audience and forces him to invest his attention on the film.'The Game' is a film which breaks this cardinal rule and is an abomination to this intelligent genre.The screenplay is weak,the story is implausible,the performances are irritating,add all these factors and what you get is a mish mash of a suspense movie,devoid of any mystery,which the viewer wants to finish as quickly as possible so that he can get on with his life and forget the fact that he wasted 2 hours of his life on this crap.

Kabir Malhothra is a billionaire with some secrets to hide who resides in an Island at Greece in his palatial home.He keeps track of four people from different parts of the world with whom he has a connection which will be made clear as the movie proceeds.These four people are from different backgrounds ranging from a casino owner in Turkey,a movie star in India,a journalist in England and a prime ministerial candidate in Thailand.He invites these four people to his island.They also have some secrets to hide and is at a stage of life where they are staring at failures,so this invitation from a billionaire rekindles hope in them for a better future.But what awaits them is not what they expect and they could see that their already miserable life crumbling in front of them when they meet Malhothra.The meeting sets off a chain of events that turn their lives upside down.What now follows is a murder and then the investigation with these four being the primary suspects,the secrets are slowly revealed,we are exposed to shocking truths and surprising revelation awaits at the end.

The film struggles to keep the attention of the viewer.The shocking revelations do not have the necessary impact and there are logical flaws through out the movie.The setting in a foreign country completely botches the authenticity aspect,since the intention here seems to shoot only at scenic places around the world rather than concentrate on the mystery aspect and give a satisfactory solution to the puzzle.

The film is technically sound.Stunt scenes are well pictured.But the chase scene involving Neil Menon trying to get rid of surveillance was poorly done and was getting on the nerves due to its length and its drag on the already snail like pace of the movie.Music of the film is also disappointing.None of the songs are memorable.Background music also do not rise up to the occasion.

Anupam Kher  has given a fine performance as Kabir Malhothra,Shahana Goswami as a journalist has also done justice to that role.Abhishek Bachchan is just about passable as Neil Menon.Rest of the actors do not pass muster.Jimmy Shergill is generally a reliable actor but here he seems to be out of sorts.Kangna Raut seems to be trying too hard to make an impact and comes off superficial and fake.The entire concept of Indian police officer working with English police is something difficult to digest.Then again this film is such a poorly thought out one that there is no point in wasting time in analyzing stuff like this.

My Rating: POOR

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Sahasram Malayalam Film Review

Sahasram is a suspense thriller with an element of supernatural in the background.If an investigative murder mystery combined with a hint of supernatural in the form of a Yakshi(Ghost),makes an interesting premise,then the result can be termed as the story of Sahasram.

A film crew arrives to  shoot a horror film at a dilapidated old building in a remote village.When art director Vaishakh who is also addicted to drugs first visits this building,he meets some people and then tragedy strikes when a group of people attacks them.Vaishakh escapes from there and he later comes to know that the people whom he met happens to be the ghosts of people who got killed in that building years ago.When he explains this to others,everyone associates this as his hallucinations.While at the shooting site the main villain in the movie,Sudhir gets killed and suspicion falls on Vaishakh who had a previous history of enmity with Sudhir.Police officer Sahasranamam is entrusted with the task of unmasking the murderer.The film looks at how Sahasranamam sets about to achieve his objective and what we get is twists and turns,suspicion shifting from person to person and culminating in a surprising conclusion.

This film cannot be termed as a brilliantly executed murder mystery,but director has been able to maintain the suspense to some extent and thereby keeping the viewer interested enough to see through the unfurling of the mystery.It is also interesting that the supernatural element also fits in with the proceedings and add to the mystery element rather than meandering in a different direction.As such there are instances when you feel like it is an implausibe story,then again film as an art form especially when it comes to mystery movies,little bit of leeway can be given as long as director is able to maintain the suspense element with out taking the audience for too much of a ride.

Suresh Gopi of course has become the stereotyped murder investigator in Malayalam films.But then again nothing wrong with that since he does this job pretty well.Here I won't say he is perfect in that but can only say that he is just about adequate and has done his job.Bala as art director was pretty impressive and his interesting face and expressive eyes gave some depth to that tragic character.Some other good performances of note was that of Jagathi,Sudheesh and Suresh Krishna.Madhu is wasted in a small role.When it comes to music,the songs are really good even though background music which should play an important role in this type of films fail to rise up to expectation.