Monday, November 30

Paiyaa (Music)

Movie - Paiyaa (Tamil)
Director - Linguswamy
Producer - Subhash Chandra Bose
Cast - Karthi, Tamanna
Music - Yuvan Shankar Raja
Lyrics - Na. Muthukumar

Paiyaa looks like a breezy movie starring the young and talented Karthi, along with current favourite Tamanna. The movie is directed by Linguswamy who has given superhits like Aanandam, Run and Sandakozhi and an averageBheema earlier. The music for this youthful movie is by Yuvan Shankar Raja. The movie is expected to release during the Pongal festival in January next year. The album has 5 songs composed by Yuvan and written by Na. Muthukumar.

'Poongatre Poongatre' is an upbeat, youthful song rendered very well by Benny Dayal in his powerful voice. The tune reminds you of some old English songs, but since that has become a common thing with Yuvan's songs, lets not go there :P. The lyrics by Muthukumar are in pure Tamil for a change with no English words thrown in for rhyming. The lines, tune and singing give a very breezy feeling to the song which goes perfectly with the movie's mood. The electric guitar portion towards the end is really good. All in all, a good start to the album. (3.5/5)

'Thuli Thuli' by Haricharan and Tanvi begins with a very familiar tune done with guitar notes. From the lyrics, one gets a feeling that this would be a rain song and the composition also gives that particular mood. Haricharan is a great singer and he has done a wonderful job with his vocals. The song which talks about the hero's dream girl, has a catchy chorus part which repeats several times during the length of the song. Tanvi is just there to do some humming in between. The song is Haricharan's all the way and he delivers a good one. Coupled with a good picturisation, this song should work very well once the movie comes out. (3.5/5)

'Suthudhe Suthudhe' by Karthik and Sunitha Sarathy starts with a female humming portion which is very similar to Yuvan's own 'Enammo Nadakkirathe' from Sandakozhi. Karthik is one of my favourite singers from the younger generation, and his voice can make even average songs sound great. This love song has a nice tune by Yuvan and good lyrics by Muthukumar and Karthik makes sure that the song sounds really nice through his youthful rendering. The female singer Sunitha Sarathy is again doing only backing vocals. On the whole, a nice energetic number. (3.5/5)

'Adada Mazhaida' by Rahul Nambiar and Saindhavi reminds you of the team's superhit song 'Dhavani Potta Deepavali' from Sandakozhi. An energetic number with folk beats, Rahul Nambiar shines in this song. Again with rain as the backdrop, this song would do very well if it has a neat visualization. Saindhavi joins in towards the end and is the first female voice to be actually singing some lyrics in the entire album so far. She does very well and adds some energy as well. I have been giving the same ratings for all the songs so far because all of them have been equally good. It is not different in the case of this one also. (3.5/5)

'En Kaadhal Solla' by Yuvan Shankar Raja and Tanvi is a soulful track with some great beats. Yuvan's singing is really good and the melancholic nature of the song is brought out well through his singing, though it sounds like 'Oru Kal Oru Kannadi' from Siva Manasula Sakthiat times. The guitar interludes are interesting. The humming portion by Tanvi is neatly done and adds more value to the song. Yuvan's singing and the catchy beats are the highlights of this song. I'm giving the same rating again for this one also.(3.5/5)

Paiyaa's music is consistent to say the least. It has 5 equally good tracks with good, catchy, youthful and energetic tunes. The lyric writer has used hardly any English words for the sake of rhyming in any of the songs (which is a rarity in Tamil songs). Almost all songs have just male voices and the presence of a duet in this romantic film is sorely missed. The only female voice heard singing some lines is Saindhavi's in the folk number. The album would become more popular once the videos of the songs are out. All in all, a very good complete album from Yuvan after a long time.

Rating - 3.5/5 ;)

Friday, November 27



Movie - Neelathamara (Malayalam)
Director - Lal Jose
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - MT Vasudevan Nair
Producer - Menaka Suresh Kumar, Suresh Kumar
Cast - Archana Kavi, Kailash, Suresh, Rima Kallingal, Samvritha Sunil, Sreedevi Unni, Parvathy and others.
Music and Background Score - Vidyasagar
Cinematography - Vijay Ulaganath
Art Direction - Gokul Das
Editing - Ranjan Abraham
Lyrics - Vayalar Sharat Chandra Varma
Costumes - Kukku Parameshwaran
Make-Up - Sreejith Guruvayoor
Release Date - 27th November 2009

Very rarely does a film become house full in Kerala based on the merits of the director and the crew. It was great to see the first show on the first day of Neelathamara becoming house full just because of the two names, Lal Jose and MT Vasudevan Nair. And even more rare is the fact that this is a film where almost all the members of the cast are newcomers. The only known faces in the movie are of Samvritha Sunil, the television anchor Parvathy and Rima Kallingal. And through some amazing marketing and lovely songs, this movie had created a great buzz among the youth. Neelathamara is the first official remake of an old Malayalam movie in a new version. The original Neelathamara (1979) was directed by Yusuf Ali Kechery and scripted by MT Vasudevan Nair. The earlier version also saw the debut of the yesteryear actress Ambika, who went on to become one of the top actresses of her times. 30 years later, Lal Jose has recreated the movie with a script reworked by the original writer MT Vasudevan Nair. Archana Kavi and Kailash make their debut in the lead roles supported by Sreedevi Unni, Samvritha Sunil, Suresh, Rima Kallingal and others. The promotions which showed a sensuous and beautiful Archana in the old world costumes of blouse and skirt, created a frenzy among the young crowd and her introduction in the movie was received tremendously, almost at par with the reaction seen for a superstar's introduction (Complete with paper bits flying in the air and all that. Most of it would have been done since she was also present for the show). There was a great crowd of young girls as well, which is a great sign on the first day of a movie (where girls usually dont come). That means the movie has generated enough hype for all these people to come and watch it on the very first day. Now, lets get to the review.


The movie has a very tried and tested storyline, of a vulnerable young housemaid falling in love with the young son of her mistress. What happens after that forms the rest of the story. This story may not have been a common one, back in 1979, but we have seen lots of similar stories after that, the most recent one being Ranjith's Nandanam(2002).  But MT and Lal Jose make sure that the cliched story does not appear that way through their treatment. In fact, the movie has a completely refreshing feel to it. Watching the movie is like reading one of MT's short stories which would make you smile and feel nostalgic. This movie takes us back to a village in the 1970s and recreates that era beautifully and tells an interesting story of a helpless girl Kunjimalu (Archana) who falls for her mistress' son Haridas (Kailash). She also has a friend in her neighbour Ammini (Rima Kallingal). But what happens when Ratnam (Samvritha Sunil) and Appukkuttan (Suresh) come into her life? The movie is about that and also about the tale of a peculiar flower that blooms in the neighbourhood temple called Neelathamara.

neelathaamara-movie-stills-22It is indeed very refreshing to see so many new faces in a film. The interesting thing is that even all the supporting characters are played by new actors, quite unlike the regular newcomer movies that are made in Malayalam. Archana as Kunjimalu, the protagonist of the movie, makes a warm and confident debut. She looks extremely pretty and there is an old-world charm to her face. Though majority of the audience had come to see her for various other reasons (mostly for the skin show which would be there because of the kind of dress she wears in the movie), they were soon hooked seeing her convincing portrayal of Kunjimalu. MT penned a fine piece of dialogue for her where she says, 'Enne polullavarkku abhiprayam undayittu enthenkilum kaaryam undo?' (Or something similar) which instantly touches you, as part of a particular scene. She has performed without any hiccups of a newcomer, shows great promise and can be moulded into a fine actor, if she gets to do more films with directors like Lal Jose. And the fact that she and Parvathy (who plays the older version of Kunjimalu) have a strong resemblance in their features, also adds more value. She has got a fantastic start for her career with a Lal Jose-MT film. Hoping to see more good work from her.

neelathamara-08Kailas, as the law graduate Haridas whom Kunjimalu falls in love with, is smart, handsome and again, confident. He carries off his role extremely well and does very well in the romantic portions. He is a great addition to the industry which has a huge scarcity of good newcomers. Rima Kallingal is extremely natural as Ammini and plays a credible supporting role. She looks very pretty too. But the abrupt conclusion to her character created some confusion among the viewers. I guess MT left the reason for that incident to the imagination of the audience. Samvritha Sunil shines the most among the lot. She gets some really nice lines and scenes in the second half of the movie. Her character is very mature, educated and sensible. But still she has all the basic emotions of a woman as well. Even for her older part (played by a new actress whose name I didnt get), she has given her voice, and has done a good job in that too. neelathaamara-movie-stills-samvritha-sunil-02Sreedevi Unni, who acts as the mother of Haridas, is wonderful and consistent throughout the movie, even in her older version. Suresh as the ruffian Appukkuttan is decent. Thekaranavar, the aalthara aashaan, etc. are competent. A presence of a Bhagavatharis felt throughout the movie with keerthanams floating in the air everytime night comes. But the ones who dont perform well are the (really) old ladies - Kunjimalu's grandmother and the other housemaid. Kunjimalu's grandmother is supposed to have difficulty in walking, but she appears to be very cool and healthy while she walks. And also, her lips does not move at all when she says dialogues. The dubbing was out of sync at a lot of places for her. Even the other housemaid's bad acting got a few laughs from the audience.

neelathaamara-movie-photos-song-kailash-archana-11Lal Jose has narrated the story in a short, simple and sweet way. His handling of the romantic portions deserve special mention. The Talat Aziz, Yesudas and Jagjit Singh songs that play from Haridas' tape recorder create a great ambience. The songs also indicate the passage of time in the movie. 'Jalte hai jiske liye' is played at an earlier stage of the movie, whereas 'Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho', which is a relatively newer song, is played during the latter part of the movie. The idea of using Yesudas' song 'Zid na karo' along with the lovemaking scene was a great touch. It also made sure that the voice of Yesudas is not missed in such a movie. :)  That particular sequence has been shot extremely well by Lal Jose and is one of the very few such scenes which have been taken well in our Malayalam Cinema. MT creates some peculiar characters and instances like the bhagavathar,  the aashaan at the aalthara, Ammini and even theNeelathamara, which stay in our mind long after the movie is over. The movie is less than 2 hours long which is a very good thing, as the story was a very short one. Many people are complaining that there was no major turn of events in the climax. But I felt the climax was done very well. In fact, it couldnt have ended in any other way. There was no  melodramatic crying and cliched dialogues and all that. The characters deal with the situations with maturity and react as they would do if they were caught in such situations in real life. The movie ends by giving you a good feeling. Very few Malayalam movies have been able to do that recently.

neelathaamara-movie-music-composition-stills-03The music is the major attraction of the movie. Vidyasagar has bounced back with an amazing soundtrack. The track by V Shreekumar and Shreya Ghoshal,'Anuraga Vilochananayi' has become a rage all over Kerala. No other song has become such a huge hit in the recent times (maybe after  Kolakkuzhali Vil Ketto). It is the ring back tune of every other person now(including mine :)). And the song got an amazing response in the theatre. I was so sad that the other wonderful song 'Neelathamare' was used only as part of the titles. I wanted it to be there in the movie as well. 'Pakalonnu' is a slow, ghazal type song picturised wonderfully by Lal Jose. Vidyasagar does an extraordinary job with the background score of the movie as well. He creates the right ambience and mood for the entire movie. The tunes used in the background during the romantic portions are exceptionally good.

neelathaamara-movie-working-stills-set2-12Cinematography is another highlight of the movie. This film was supposed to be the debut of cinematographer Vijay Ulaganath. But he suddenly had to do Madambi in between and that became his debut film (he did good work in that too). But he touches a new high with his work in Neelathamara. He has shot the movie in different colour tone which gives an old world feel. The night shots are shot remarkably as well. Editing by Ranjan Abraham is perfect. Art direction by Gokul Das recreates the entire time period of the 70s with precision (including Cuticura powder, Brut perfume, calendars from old Saaree shops and many more small touches which are not very obvious). Costumes by Kukku Parameshwaran stay true to the time period. Make-up by Sreejith Guruvayoor is excellent. The sound department has also done a great job.

6252_121961336033_546416033_2943573_2041442_nOn the whole, Neelathamara is a beautiful picture which takes us on a nostalgic trip back to the 70s. To tell such an oft-repeated tale effectively is not such a simple task. Lal Jose gets full marks for making this story interesting for the new generation as well. The movie has opened very well thanks to the great marketing by the team. The name MT Vasudevan Nair should bring in the elderly people as well, including the people who have seen the original Neelathamara. Neelathamara is a strong reinforcement that our cinema hasnt totally deteriorated. And as I have mentioned in the title, thank God for giving us Lal Jose. He has constantly been giving us good cinema which is a mix of both entertainment and artistic value. Many other senior directors in the industry have been expressing their strong desire to direct a script by MT, but the legendary writer chose Lal Jose to direct his script. That itself is such a great honour to the talented director, who is certainly the best director in Malayalam Cinema at present. As far as we have people like him around, we need not fear of a decline for our industry. In short, Neelathamara has to be watched - for its simplicity, the nostalgia, the romance, the songs, the performances, the camerawork, the dialogues, the emotions, the characters and most of all, the great feeling it gives you while watching it.

Rating - 4/5

Wednesday, November 25

Gulumaal - The Escape (Music)

Movie - Gulumaal - The Escape (Malayalam)
Director - VK Prakash
Producer - Sajitha Prakash
Cast - Jayasurya, Kunchacko Boban, Mithra, Nedumudi Venu, Salimkumar, Devan, Suraaj Venjarammood, Bijukkuttan
Music - Manu Ramesan
Cinematography - Fowzia Fathima
Editor - Mahesh Narayanan
Lyrics - S Ramesan Nair, Simon Paluvi
Story, Screenplay - YV Rajesh
Release Date - 4th December 2009

Gulumaal promises to be a fun comedy about two 'tharikidas' Jayasurya and Kunchacko Boban who are out to make some money by conning people. The film has been shot in the digital format, a not-so-tried method in our industry. The music of the film is done by debutante Manu Ramesan, who is the son of our famous lyric writer S Ramesan Nair and Ramesan Nair has penned the lyrics along with Simon Paluvi for this film too. The album has 4 songs which stay true to the genre of the film.

'Gulumaal' is probably the theme song of the film. We have had quite an iconic song in the same name 20 years back in the film Ramjirao Speaking. We are yet to forget that song, but this one is a completely fresh number which clearly brings out the 'gulumaal' or ultimate confusion feel. The singers are Anoop Shankar, Roshan and Ajay Sathyan and they do a neat job together. Its a fun, energetic,  peppy number which has a comic feel throughout. It should probably work very well as the theme track of the film, whenever the two get into some Gulumaal. Lyrics by Ramesan Nair contribute a lot to the fun element. (3.5/5)

'Vennila' is by veteran singer P Jayachandran, who regularly has at least one song in almost all VK Prakash films. The song starts in a Mappilappaattu style and proceeds adding some nice beats. Then Jayachandran's great voice takes over. Simon Paluvi's lyrics talk about the mother, father and the family of the person who's singing. But the lyrics and the tune do not sync well. If its a song about the family and all, the tune shouldnt have had so much rap and beats and all on it. But Jayachandran's voice is a plus point. The song gets over in less than 3 minutes. A mediocre song whose only plus point is the presence of a singer like Jayachandran. (2.5/5)

'Thaam Tharikida' is the best track of the album. It begins in an interesting fashion. The Suprabhatham is rendered in a different way and then an RJ from Red FM takes over wishing everyone good morning. Then Salimkumar introduces Kochi and its people through some witty dialogues in his usual comic style. That is truly an innovative beginning to the song giving an idea about what to expect from the song as well as the movie. The lyrics by Ramesan Nair talk about each and every person being a tharikida, and is very witty throughout. The singers Anoop Shankar, Vidhu Prathap, G Venugopal and Vinay Govind do a great job together. Vidhu's rendering stands out among all of them. Another VK Prakash favourite, G Venugopal lends his beautiful voice making tharikida sound melodious. The English definition of tharikidarendered by Vinay Govind in some sort of a robotic voice was really funny. Anoop Shankar is also a new promising singer. It would be interesting to see how this fun song is picturised in the movie. All in all, a great track. (4/5)

'Kilu Kilukkum' by Sithara takes us back to the cabaret songs of the 70s. The whole composition and rendering has maintained that retro feel throughout. And that is probably the best thing about this song. Lyrics by Simon Paluvi also gives that 70s feel. It should probably be an item number picturised in a retro style in the movie. Special mention to Manu Ramesan for coming up with this unique tune which reminds us so much of the 70s and those cabaret songs which would most probably take place at the villain's den (who would most probably be Josprakash :P). Singer Sithara is quite good and has the kind of voice which we have heard in those kind of songs earlier. Even though remixes have been done, its probably the first time that a retro style song has been attempted in Malayalam. So this song scores in that aspect. (3.5/5)

On the whole, the songs of Gulumaal stay true to the genre of the film. Manu Ramesan is a music director to watch out for. He has come up with some fresh tunes and has his signature in all the songs of the film (which is great for a newcomer). The film is a comedy and songs are not such a crucial aspect for such films. But this film has songs which have the comic feel that goes in sync with the movie's theme. To make it short, the soundtrack has enoughgulumaal and tharikida to keep you occupied.  :) Let's see how the movie fares.

Rating - 3.5/5

Sunday, November 22

What's Your Raashee - An amazing plot gone haywire!!!

Movie - What's Your Raashee? (Hindi)
Director - Ashutosh Gowariker
Producers - Ashutosh Gowariker, Ronnie Screwvala
Cast - Harman Baweja, 12 Priyanka Chopras, Darshan Jariwala, Anjan Srivastav, Rajesh Vivek and others.
Music - Sohail Sen
Cinematography - Piyush Shah
Editing - Ballu Saluja
Lyrics - Javed Akhtar
Story - Inspired from Madhu Rye's novel, 'Kimball Ravenswood'
Screenplay - Ashutosh Gowariker, Naushil Mehta
Dialogues - Naushil Mehta
Release Date - 25th September 2009

You can be happy when you see good movies. You can have a disgusted feel after seeing bad movies. But when you see a great concept made into a bad movie, you feel sorry. That is exactly how I felt after watching Ashutosh Gowariker's excruciatingly long What's Your Raashee. And to add to that, a lead actor who does not know anything about acting. But the one factor which made me sit through the whole movie was the leading lady, Priyanka Chopra. She was the only good thing about this badly made movie. 

The movie has a very interesting plot. Yogesh Patel(Harman Baweja) has just finished his MBA in Chicago and has a fun life there. He is suddenly called back home by his family and only when he reaches there, he learns that he's been called to get himself married off. Apparently, if he marries, his grandfather would bestow all his properties upon him, which can be used to clear his elder brother's humongous debts. So after a lot of emotional blackmail, Yogesh agrees to get married within 10 days. And after reading an interesting book on astrology called What's Your Raashee, he decides that he will see one girl from each sun-sign, and get married to the one he likes the most among them. He starts meeting the girls one by one, and he soon realizes that all the girl whom he comes across, look the same. (His granddad gives him some silly logic about this, which I didnt really get). 

Now, this plot sounds great on the surface level, but the way it is executed, makes you cringe most of the time. The worst part of the movie is that the director is confused to treat it as a social satire or fantasy or a comedy or a musical. He messes the whole thing up and the end result is disastrous. The nail on the coffin is the usage of songs for each of the 12 different sun-signs. So that makes it 12 songs and 2 extra songs for the hero also. So the songs themselves make up for more than one hour of the running time. Seriously, how did Mr.Gowariker expect people to sit through this?? If this movie had Rahman (who usually does music for all of Gowariker's movies), people would have still sat through this movie just because of Rahman's songs. But unfortunately, this film has music by newcomer Sohail Sen and all he gives is a bunch of mediocre songs. The only saving grace about the music is the good work by Javed Akhtar on the lyrics of the film. The sub-plots regarding the marriage broker's illicit affair and the goondas chasing Yogesh's brother are all terrible. They are brought for comic relief, but you feel like crying, when you see those scenes. This is Ashutosh's first city based subject in a long time, completely different from the epic-scale movies like Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar or the sensitive Swades. He had gained immense respect and a great stature through these three films and all his fans would certainly be disappointed by such a film coming from him. I heard that he's going back to his period film style with his next featuring Abhishek Bachchan. Hope that one brings him back on track. (I hope Rahman gets back with him in that project). 

I didnt have the courage to go watch this 3.5 hour long film in the theatre, thats why I have put up a review so late, after watching it on DVD. (It took me 2 days to watch because I would sleep off quite often during the movie). Nobody minded the length of Lagaan, Swades or Jodhaa Akbar, because they were all good films and kept the interest of the viewer throughout. But the viewer loses his interest on this messed up movie from the second boy-girl meeting itself. And a ridiculous climax which does no justice to all the build-up will just make you hate the movie even more. 

Harman Baweja as the NRI gujju ladka Yogesh Patel, tries hard to act well, but he just cannot do that. In fact, you can notice pretty clearly that he is trying to act, at many instances. I havent seen his other two superflops, Love Story 2050 and Victory. And above all this, his striking resemblance to Hrithik Roshan in both looks and voice, makes him look just like a cheap duplicate of Hrithik. I so badly wish that Hrithik had done this role instead of him. It would have been so much better then. I saw many positive comments about his acting in many of the reviews about this movie, but I didnt like him one bit. He was trying too much, when all he had to do was to stay simplistic. 

The only reason why I sat through this whole movie is Priyanka Chopra. She took up an impossible task of portraying 12 distinct character, even beating the legend Kamal Haasan's record which he created through a lot of make-up and computer graphics in Dasavathaaram. In this movie, each of the 12 girls are made distinct by Priyanka's wonderful acting. She didnt have to rely on make up too much to make her characters unique and distinct. She just played them exceptionally well and created a difference. But her amazing performance is let down by a shoddy script. The characteristic of each sun-sign is not fleshed out effectively. I think Ashutosh focussed on them more in the songs (which were obviously fast-forwarded). Out of the 12, her portrayal of the girls from Aries, Scorpio, Gemini, Virgo and Capricorn stand out. The others are either poorly written or are diluted with stupid songs. 

From the rest of the cast, Darshan Jariwala and Anjan Shrivastav are decent. Rajesh Vivek and the whole lot of others tests your patience with their hamming. 

Music is mediocre to say the least. Some songs like, 'Jaao Na', 'Sau Janam' and 'Su Che' are good to listen to, but do not fit into the movie at all. In fact, none of the songs fit into the movie. I have said this earlier, if the movie didnt have any song, it would have been a much better movie. There is nothing special about the picturisation of the songs as well. We are used to such great songs in Ashutosh's movies from the team of AR Rahman and Javed Akhtar, and this one comes across as a disaster compared to them. Ashutosh should stick with Rahman. They both complement each other wonderfully. And the fact that Rahman hardly makes bad music, would also help the movie a lot. There is nothing much to talk about the cinematography and art direction - very mediocre compared to Ashutosh's other films. I think the editor went to sleep watching the film. At least he could have made this film an interesting watch through some smart editing, which unfortunately, didnt happen. 

The movie has good intentions, a great idea and a wonderful performance(s) from the leading lady. But the director and screenwriter could not make use of all these and give us a confused, 3.5 hour long mish-mash. Though it wasnt as bad as I thought it would be, the dumb climax ruined it all. It looked as if the writers didnt know how to end the story, which was already going nowhere. It is not surprising that the movie turned out to be a damp squib at the box office. If there's anything watchable about this movie, it is Priyanka Chopra. All the other aspects of this movie are totally disappointing. I have 3 requests to Mr. Ashutosh Gowariker - 1. Please do not make movies without AR Rahman
2. Please do not take people like Harman Baweja as heroes. 
3. Please try to decrease the length of your movies. It is high time. 

Rating - 2/5

Friday, November 20

Kurbaan - Disappointing

Movie - Kurbaan (Hindi)
Director - Rensil D'Silva
Producer - Karan Johar
Cast - Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, Dia Mirza, Nauheed Cyrusi, Khulbhushan Kharbanda
Music - Salim/Sulaiman
Cinematography - Hemant Chaturvedi
Story - Karan Johar
Screenplay - Rensil D'Silva
Dialogues - Anurag Kashyap, Niranjan Iyengar
Release Date - 20th November 2009

I had reasonable expectations out of Kurbaan, just because of Rensil D'Silva who gave us the extraordinary screenplay of Rang De Basanti. It had Karan Johar doing the story, Rensil doing screenplay and direction and Anurag Kashyap and Niranjan Iyengar doing dialogues. Thats like a lethal combination. But sadly, the film does not have the fireworks that one expects out of this combo. Saif and Kareena were all over the media promoting the film for the past 2 weeks and while watching the movie, you would have already had enough of them. Vivek Oberoi, who is the actual star of the movie, was not part of any promotional activity. In fact, this morning, I saw even Barkha Dutt asking Saif and Kareena when they are going to get married. Karan Johar has a lot of influence I must say. 

Avantika (Kareena Kapoor) is a professor(she doesnt look like one from any angle) at a university in Delhi. She meets a new professor Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan) who had just joined the university. They both develop a liking for each other and fall deeply in love, very quickly. And then Avantika gets an offer to teach in NYU and she wants to go there badly. Ehsaan is ready to sacrifice whatever he has and go there along with her. So they get married and leave to New York and get settled there(again, very quickly). Ehsaan gets a job as professor in the same university where Avantika teaches (though she doesnt go to work at any point in the movie), and he teaches a course on Islam (come on, is it so easy for a Muslim to find a job in the US in the current situation??). Avantika discovers a secret terrorist mission unknowingly and comes to know that her husband is also a part of that group. A television reporter, Riyaaz (Vivek Oberoi) loses his girlfriend in one of their attacks and decides to 'deal with them himself'(:P) by infiltrating their group. What happens after that forms the rest of the story. 

When there are such talents in the writing department, you expect nothing short of a top-notch story and  screenplay which engages you throughout. Kurbaan's story is extremely similar to the two Yash Raj terrorism films, Fanaa and New York. Like Fanaa, the heroine discovers that her lover is a terrorist and like New York, this film is also set in New York and a third person infiltrates the group to obstruct their mission. These are just the basic similarities, you will notice much more as you watch the movie. If the story was new, Kurbaan would have been a very engaging movie. But now, it turns almost predictable killing the fun in watching this thriller. There are numerous plot holes throughout the movie, the most striking one being that the FBI has a photo of Saif Ali Khan and are not able to track him down when he is roaming about freely in New York. Some scenes are done very well, like the scene in Saif's class where Vivek and an American student have a discussion on what terrorism means to each individual. Or the scene where Kareena removes a bullet from Saif's chest, and another scene where Vivek talks to Khulbhushan Kharbanda about them being Americans first. The climax is developed quite well, but has a very predictable ending. The dialogues during the romance portions are very similar to Kashyap's own work in Yuva (the Vivek-Kareena part). For the rest of the parts, the dialogue varies from good to decent to bad. Resnil D'Silva could have handled the film better, and the worst part is that the film has come just a few months after New York, which had more or less the same theme. 

The performances, though, are really good. Saif is subtle and understated as Ehsaan the lover, who later turns into a terrorist. Even though his character's actions towards the end is not developed properly, he gives a good enough performance. But nowhere near his brilliant performance in Love Aaj Kal, earlier this year or his earlier iconic negative role, Langda Tyagi from Omkara. In fact, his character becomes lost in the crowd in the second half of the film. But despite the weakly written character, Saif delivers a good subtle performance. Kareena looks great and performs decently also. Her character has to go through a lot of emotional turmoil and she performs all that effectively. And she shines during the emotional scene in the climax with just facial expressions. The chemistry between the two is quite good and they make a very convincing couple. The much hyped love making scene, though shot well, has an extremely silly build-up to it. That kills the whole passion in that scene. 

But the best performance in the movie is by Vivek Oberoi. In fact, it is a comeback of sorts for Vivek, who had been doing terrible movies and even more terrible roles in the recent past. (Except for maybe a decent Shootout At Lokhandwala). Despite the fact that his role is too similar to Neil Nitin Mukesh's role in New York, he brings a certain credibility to it. His American accent works well because he doesnt go overboard and knows where to stop. This movie would be definitely a platform for Vivek to announce that he is still as talented as he was during Company and Saathiya. After seeing his acting in this movie, I am now excited about Ramgopal Varma's Rakta Charitra where he is making his proper comeback. Om Puri acts in a very predictable way as the terrorist chief, but does it well nevertheless. Kirron Kher is not the loud, happy and overreacting mother for a change. She is a stern woman who feels strongly for the lives of the innocent Muslims in Afghanistan. She has a peculiar Afghani accent in her Hindi and she also gives a good performance. Dia Mirza, Nauheed Cyrusi and Khulbhushan Kharbanda make very short appearances. 

Music is exceptionally good and blends into the movie very well. The 'Shukran Allah' song is beautiful and is shot in Delhi just like 'Subhan Allah' from Fanaa. Salim/Sulaiman as we know are masters at doing background scores. So they give their best for this movie. Cinematography by Hemant Chaturvedi is great and gives the film the required feel. The editor could have made a huge difference in the second half, but sadly, we dont have any and it appears to be very long. 

On the whole, you dont feel for any of the characters in the film and that is not such a good thing to happen while seeing such a film. If a drama/thriller is not able to do that, then it would not be very successful in reaching its audience. If the story hadnt come earlier in the above mentioned films, this film would have been much more engaging. But sadly, it is not. It is just a combination of Fanaa and New York, some good scenes, effective performances and some great music and camerawork. It is not such a bad movie. But it disappoints the ones who had great expectations out of it. Congrats to Karan Johar for moving into a different genre of films, even though his story is a little too cliched. Rensil D'Silva needs to prove his talent in a better film next time. We expect much more from him after writing a gem like Rang De Basanti

Rating - 2.5/5

Thursday, November 19

Inglourious Basterds - One word Review

Movie - Inglourious Basterds (English with almost all European languages also)
Writer/Director - Quentin Tarantino
Cast - Brad Pitt, Christopher Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Til Schweiger, Melanie Laurent

I have just one word for the whole movie as my review -


Monday, November 16

Paa - Raja Sir's compositions work very well!!

Movie - Paa (Hindi)
Director - R Balki
Producer - AB Corp Ltd., Sunil Manchanda
Cast - Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Paresh Rawal and Amitabh Bachchan
Music - Ilaiyaraaja
Lyrics - Swanand Kirkire
Cinematography - PC Sreeram
Singers - Amitabh Bachchan, Shipa Rao, Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, R Bavatharini, Shravan
Editor - Anil Naidu
Art Director - Sunil Babu
Writer - R Balki
Release Date - 4th December 2009

Paa is an eagerly awaited film because of its new storyline and the interesting fact that Amitabh Bachchan is acting as Abhishek Bachchan's son. R Balki made a wonderful debut through Cheeni Kum in 2007, which had some very nice music from maestro Ilaiyaraaja. Though the tunes were taken from the yesteryear hits of Raja Sir, they suited that film very well and were quite popular too. Ilaiyaraaja has done the music for this film too. And he has given an interesting album with a mix of some of his old tunes and some new tunes as well. 

The first track is 'Mudi Mudi Ittefaq Se' by Shilpa Rao. Raja Sir's favourite Shreya Ghoshal is replaced by Shilpa Rao who surprised all of with her wonderful rendering of 'Khuda Jaane' in Bachna Ae Haseeno. She has a very unique voice and that is the best part about this romantic song. She makes sure that you do not miss Shreya Ghoshal at any point with her brilliant singing and different voice. The song may remind you of Raja Sir's 'Ninnukkori Varnam' from Mani Ratnam's Agni Natchathiram at times, even though the tune is quite different. The soothing song also has some very nice lyrics. The song is quite short (below 3 minutes) and has two other versions also, with some changes in lyrics. One version is by Shilpa again and is more or less the same as the first version, except that it goes 'Udi Udi' instead of 'Mudi Mudi'. The song talks about coincidence or Ittefaq in all the three versions. The third version is by Shaan and it goes like 'Gali Mudi Ittefaq Se'. It is a much more slower version with minimum orchestration. Shaan as usual sings very well and gives the required feel to the song. All the 3 songs are beautiful and romantic. (4/5)

'Gumm Summ Gumm' has the tune of one of my all time favourite Malayalam songs, 'Thumbi Vaa Thumbakkudathin' from Balu Mahendra's Olangal. That song is certainly one of Raja Sir's best tunes ever and I'm very happy that that particular has come to Hindi now. Children would take an instant liking towards this tune (as the original also was made for children). The song also sounds like a group of children singing for Amitabh's character in the film. Bavatharini, Shravan and Chorus have been credited for the vocals. But the whole song sounds like a chorus piece. Bavatharini, is Raja Sir's daughter and is not a very good singer, but in this song she does well and there is no South Indian accent also in her Hindi. The tune is such that it will work in whichever language it is used in. And I cannot stop listening to this song because I have already been addicted to the tune for my entire life. So hearing it in Hindi, was again very interesting for me. The lyrics by Swanand Kirkire is very happy and cheerful and is asking a character to come back to his cheerful nature from an upset mood. The orchestration is quite different from the original song and is quite contemporary. That works very well too. All in all, this is a gem of a tune, irrespective of the language. And because some nice lyrics have been given, the song stands out as the best track of the album. Full marks!! (5/5)

'Hichki Hichki' by Sunidhi Chauhan is a fun song. I think its the first time that Sunidhi is singing for Raja Sir. The tune again reminds you of many of Raja Sir's songs from Tamil and Malayalam. The lyrics are fun and playful. Sunidhi is very subdued unlike her usual energetic self. But she does a great job nevertheless. The song also has a small portion of the movie's theme song(which is yet to come) in a rearranged version. Though the song is nice, I doubt if it will be remembered for a long time. (3/5)

'Halke Se Bole' is by a chorus of children and talks about a wonderful tomorrow. The tune is taken from 'Putham Puthu Kaalai' from Bharathiraja's Alaigal Oyvathillai(Only the first paragraph is used).  The song is very short(just about 1 minute) and sweet. The children sing very well and it will most probably be a situational track in the film. Short and sweet. (3.5/5)

'Mere Paa' by Amitabh Bachchan is freaky. He sings like how a child would sing, but in an old man's voice, because of his peculiar disease in the film. It freaks you out on the first hearing. But I hope it would work well in the film. The song is about a little boy talking about his mother to his father. The lyrics are beautiful, if you are able to pay attention to them without being disturbed by Amitabh Bachchan's singing. Bachchan Saab usually does a great job whenever he is asked to sing songs. He does well this time also, but just that it is quite disturbing to hear him sing like a child. (It is done that way because the character is like that). He also says some lines in between. We have to watch the film to get their relevance. But the best part about this song is the out-of-the-world Theme Music by Raja Sir which comes in between. That particular bit is truly the best piece of music in this whole album. That particular violin piece immediately puts a smile on your face. I didnt quite like the whole song.  I hope it works as a part of the film. But just for the theme music on violins, I think I should give the song a good rating. (3.5/5)

The theme music of the film has a remix version by Vicky Goswami where a chorus sings the same tune in a 'Paa Paa Pa Pa Pa' kind of way backed by violins. It makes you feel happy and cheerful and has an upbeat feel to it. The music is also played using various instruments in the song, like electric guitar. But the violing part truly stands out and actually dominates above the singing of the chorus. The tune appeals in whichever form it comes and that is the major highlight of this song. (4/5)

On the whole, Paa is an interesting album from Raja Sir in Hindi. He rarely does music in Hindi and when he does, he makes sure that the score is very good. The Hindi audience havent heard many of his earlier works and through albums like this one and Cheeni Kum, he has been able to rework his legendary tunes into Hindi for a wider audience. He has brought one of his best tunes to Hindi through 'Gumm Summ' and has given some beautiful songs otherwise too. The theme music is certainly the best thing about this album. 'Mudi Mudi' and its different versions are melodious and romantic, as well. On the whole, this album would not disappoint and is one of the better music albums to have come out recently. 

Rating - 3.8/5