Thursday, April 8

Janakan


Movie - Janakan (Malayalam)
Director - Sanjeev NR
Producer - Arun MC, A Shan
Cast - Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Biju Menon, Harishree Ashokan, Vijayaraghavan, Kaveri, Rajith Menon, Jyothirmayi
Cinematography - Sanjeev Sankar
Music - M Jayachandran
Editing - G Murali
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - SN Swami
Release Date - 8th April 2010

Janakan was a movie which was made during the latter half of 2009 and was a planned as a December-January release. But it was purposefully delayed because the storyline of the movie was very similar to a movie released during November, called Vairam. The movie has released now and one cannot help but agree to the fact that the storylines of both these movies are pretty much the same. A small family consisting of a loving father and mother and their only daughter undergo a tragedy when the girl goes missing. The father loves the girl more than anything else and his life is torn apart when he learns that his daughter has been brutally raped, and later, murdered. He doesnt get the justice he needs and decides to take the law in his hands and kills the people responsible for the brutal fate of his daughter. And then, approaches a brilliant advocate who promises to save him out of the mess because he understands the father's emotion. This is the basic storyling of both Vairam and Janakan and the narrative style is also more or less similar. What is surprising is that both Suresh Gopi and the cinematographer Sanjeev Sankar were very much part of Vairam as well. And it is surprising that they didnt notice any similarity between the 2 films even then. If it was Pasupathy who played the distraught father in Vairam, Suresh Gopi plays that part here. If it was the same Suresh Gopi who played the role of the brilliant lawyer in Vairam, it is handed over to a much bigger superstar Mohanlal over here.

Mohanlal comes in an extended special appearance in the film. He is just there in 6 or 7 scenes but thanks to the screenplay, it looks as if he's there throughout the movie. If the movie provides any kind of entertainment, it is during the few scenes that feature him. There is nothing challenging in a role like this for a great actor like him, and he does whatever he is required to do in that short role, but still makes an impact. It was a delight to hear him speaking in 'Thrisshur bhaasha' out of the blue, in the movie after a long time. Suresh Gopi also has precious little to do. He just keeps crying in most of the scenes and thats it. But he does not go overboard at any point and his performance remains very understated thankfully. He was very good in a scene where he cannot control an outburst at the minister. Biju Menon is okay in another role which doesnt demand anything. Jyothirmayi, Kaveri, Harishree Ashokan, etc. are just there. Vijayaraghavan shined as the Police Commissioner. 2 of the villains were quite funny looking and the other one, scary looking. The new girl who played Suresh Gopi's daughter was just passable. Thankfully, there were no additional humour or romantic tracks in the movie.

SN Swami who wrote one of last year's worst movies, Rahasya Police does a decent job as a writer in this movie. He does not resort to his cheap trick of introducing someone totally irrelevant to the story as villain in the end, in the name of suspense this time around. Instead, he uses the sharp mind of Mohanlal's character to give a conclusion to the story. There were some good dialogues written keeping Mohanlal in mind. The director really has to go a long long way. His treatment makes the movie look dated, giving the feel of a 90s movie at many places. Also, when the same story was made earlier in the same language, the director should make some difference in his treatment while making the second film. But I feel Vairam was directed much better than this movie and the way the story was narrated was much better in Vairam. The director got the dates of 2 great actors like Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi and could not use them to their full potential, I would say.

The movie has one below average song by M Jayachandran and a decent background score by Rajamani. Cinematography by Sanjeev Sankar was just okay. There were many out of focus shots in the movie. I dont know if it was an error from the movie technicians or a problem in the projection at the theatre. There's nothing noteworthy to be mentioned about the other technical departments.

The good thing about the movie is that it doesnt torture you like many of the other recent releases. It maintains an interest level in the viewer till the end and I dont think there's any howl-worthy scene in the movie, which is a very good thing in these days. It wouldnt be truthful to say that the movie has a good message. Taking the law in your hands is definitely not a good thing. But the movie can be called as a portrayal of the plights the father of a girl child has to go through in these days. All in all, the movie says the same story as Vairam, has an added appeal of Mohanlal, but remains just average because of the mediocre direction.

Rating - 2.75/5

Friday, April 2

Paiyaa


Movie - Paiyya (Tamil)
Director - Lingusamy
Producer - Thirupathi Brothers
Cast - Karthi, Tamannah, Milind Soman, Jegan
Music - Yuvan Shankar Raja
Cinematography - Madhie
Editing - Anthony
Story, Screenplay - Lingusamy
Dialogues - Brindasarathi
Choreography - Raju Sundaram, Brinda
Stunts - Kanal Kannan
Art Director - Rajeevan
Release Date- 2nd April 2010


Nothing can make you happier while watching a movie than a masala/formula film done well (At least for a regular viewer of Tamil Cinema). And things get more interesting if this formula is modified to include new techniques of storytelling. Lingusamy who has given us one of the previous decade's best formula flicks in the form of RUN, has made Paiyya as a road movie which takes us on a trip from Bangalore to Mumbai on a Mitsubishi Lancer with an energetic Karthi and a beautiful Tamannah. Paiyya is in the same format as RUN, and sometimes we do feel like we are watching a renewed version of RUN (even the hero's name is the same), but the director makes sure that his audience is not bored for even a single second.

Paiyya tells the story of Siva (Karthi), a jobless youth who is on an interview-attending spree since he's pressurized by his dad to get a job as soon as possible. But he is least interested in joining for a job. While in Bangalore for yet another interview, he sees Charu (Tamannah), while getting down at a bus stop (a la RUN - just that he doesnt run to board the bus again). He is immediately smitten by her and keeps searching for her all over Bangalore leaving even his job interview. And when he goes to the railway station to deliver his friend's car, he meets Charu again over there. But she mistakes him for a driver and asks him for a ride to Mumbai, since she's in some serious trouble. Siva immediately agrees and they set out on a journey from Bangalore to Mumbai and the movie unfolds through the various events that occur during this road trip to Mumbai.

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Karthi is sure-shot superstar material. If his brother had to struggle a lot to reach where he is now, Karthi was immediately catapulted to the big league with his debut film, Paruthiveeran. With a debut film that had a 365 day run, it isnt wrong to name him a future superstar. His second release was Aayirathil Oruvan, which came 3 years after his first movie. Even though the movie had mixed opinions, each and everyone loved Karthi in it. But both those films were totally offbeat and not like any other normal Tamil film. So Paiyya can be called as Karthi's first typical Tamil film, so to say. He appears as an urban hero for the first time, sporting designer wear, which is a striking contrast from the lungis he wore in Paruthiveeran and Aayirathil Oruvan. This movie is designed as a star-vehicle to show off Karthi's skills and the guy shines like anything. Be it song & dance, fights, romance or comedy, the young actor shows that he is here to stay. He has terrific screen presence and keeps reminding you of his talented elder brother who is making his first step towards Bollywood this year. Karthi is a younger and taller version of the exceptionally talented Surya, but still has a unique style of his own. He shares excellent chemistry with his heroine Tamannah in the romantic portions and is electrifying in the fight sequences. Madhavan entertained everyone through his romantic-cum-action hero role in RUN and Karthi does exactly the same through this movie and all the girls in the south are sure to have a new poster boy.


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Tamannah is getting better with each film. The girl who started out as yet another cute doll with no acting skills has improved a lot over the last year. Even though she couldnt match up to Kareena Kapoor, she was very good in Kanden Kadhalai last year. And in Paiyya, her role doesnt require great acting skills, yet she gives a decent performance although her lip movements are still not in sync with the dubbed voice. In fact, none of the actors other than Karthi have lip sync with their dubbed voices in this movie. Even though that looks odd in some scenes, its not such a big drawback in a movie of this genre. Tamannah looks gorgeous throughout the movie and wears some lovely costumes. If she can correct her lip sync problem soon enough, then she can easily be one of the top heroines in Tamil.

There is nothing much to mention about the rest of the cast. Milind Soman looks awesome in a rugged look, but is totally wasted in the villain role. But it looks neat to watch him get beaten up by Karthi. The other villains are all there to get beaten up. The curly hair girl from the Telugu superhit Happy Days, plays Karthi's friend in the movie. Even she has an enormous problem with the lip sync. All the other guys who play his friends are really bad. TV star Jegan comes in the second half in a comic role and gives some good laughs as a Madrasi trying to make a living in Mumbai. (P.S., one of my collegemates, Danny plays a goon in the film and it was really funny to see the star comedian of our college as a thug. :P)

Lingusamy has used this same storytelling pattern in two of his earlier films,Run and Sandakozhi. A soft, romantic hero suddenly turns into a superb fighter who can singlehandedly take on any number of goons. But each time Lingusamy has done this, he had a megahit in his hands. Same is the case with Paiyya. The movie progresses with very interesting incidents including amazing songs, thrilling chase sequences on the road, adrenaline-rushing stunt sequences and of course, some nice romance between the lead pair. After a disappointing Bheema, he is back in form with Paiyya. Even though the second half could have had a tighter screenplay, the stunt sequences and Karthi more than make up for it.

Cinematography is exceptional. Madhie has done a fabulous job in the road sequences, especially in the chase and fight scenes. It is extremely difficult to shoot such scenes and that too on the busy National Highways and Madhie has done a fantastic job in capturing those thrilling scenes to their maximum effect. Editor Anthony has used his crisp scissors to edit together all the various shots coming from different cameras used in the chase and fights scenes and has totally complemented the work of the cinematographer. Rajeevan, the art director has limited work to do for the major portions of the movie on the road. But the set he created for the 'Suthude Suthude' song looks nice even though it looks artificial. The junction created for the final fight sequence clearly looks like a set and the same set has come in many other movies as well. A good art director like Rajeevan could have avoided that.

Music is the best thing about this movie. Yuvan Shankar Raja has returned to form after some average outings. Each song is as good as the other in the movie. But the most popular among them are 'Thuli Thuli' choreographed by Brinda and 'Poongatre Poongatre' shot as part of the road trip. The background score is also very good and Yuvan has been able to create the right atmosphere during both the romantic sequences and the fight sequences with his apt background score. The other department which has worked wonders in this movie is the stunt department. Kanal Kannan is clearly the best stunt master in the south and his stunt sequences in almost all his movies are really raw man-on-man action scenes, unlike the flying and gliding gimmicks done by most others. Kanal Kannan makes us believe that our hero can beat up all those goons singlehandedly through his effective handling of the stunt sequences. And for lovers of stunts, there are plenty of them in this movie to give you your money's worth.

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All in all, Paiyya is the perfect movie for a masala movie lover. It has fights, songs, dance, comedy, action, thrills and romance all rolled into one, without the disturbance of appa-amma characters or separate comedy tracks. And all these formula elements are played out effectively in the movie with some neat acting by the lead pair. (A short note to the Malayali filmmakers who are trying to make formula films. Watch films like Run and Paiyya to know how to make effective formula films rather than creating mundane films using the same age-old formulas which have become outdated).


RATING - 3/5


Thursday, April 1

April Fool


Movie - April Fool (Malayalam)
Director - Viji Thampy
Producer - Santosh Damodaran
Cast - Jagadish, Siddique, Jagathy Sreekumar, Biju Menon, Nayana, Ashokan, Lal
Music - M Jayachandran
Cinematography - Sanjeev Sankar
Editing - Raja Mohammed
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Jagadish
Release Date - 1st April 2010

April Fool, is the new offering from director Viji Thampy who hasnt had a hit in a really long time. It also marks the return of actor Jagadish as a script writer. But the actor can hardly take any credit as the screenwriter, as the movie is a scene by scene copy of the Hindi movie Bheja Fry, directed by Sagar Bellary, which itself was a copy of a French film. Not only the scenes, many of the dialogues are also literal translations of the Hindi dialogues.

The story is about a music producer Rakesh Menon (Siddique) whose weekend pastime is to find talented, but foolish people and present them at his club for his club members to ridicule the person without him knowing that he is being laughed at. His latest prey is Krishnanunni (Jagadish), an income tax officer who aspired to be a singer. A peculiar, nerdy character, Krishnanunni is the perfect find for Rakesh's friday night party. But on the same friday, Rakesh sprains his back after a fall and is advised for complete bedrest by his doctor Mohanachandran (Lal).  Rakesh's wife Seema (Nayana) who is already upset with this hobby of his, leaves the house after she listens to Rakesh's comments about her behaviour to the doctor. Krishnanunni lands up at the apartment at this very point and the events and confusions that follow form the rest of the story of April Fool.

April Fool works fine as an ensemble cast comedy comprising of some of our best comic talents like Jagadish, Jagathy Sreekumar and Siddique, and also has cameos by Mukesh, Ashokan and Lal. Each member of the cast have done their part well but the movie essentially belongs to Jagadish. He plays the title character of the fool very well and his characterization itself is sure to tickle your funny bones. He walks on a thin line between being extremely funny or going completely over the top, and thankfully, the actor manages to be funny, unlike his other release In Ghosthouse Inn, in which he was completely over the top and irritating. Siddique, on the other hand is awesome as usual. He is an actor who performs well in even the worst possible films. So he's bound to shine in films which have him as one of the lead characters. He brings a certain credibility to the character Rakesh Menon who has a lot of grey shades as well. Biju Menon is quite decent as the struggling music-director friend of Rakesh, Sharath. Jagathy Sreekumar as the strict income-tax officer Sathyakaman is impressive (feeling funny using this word for a legend like Jagathy Sreekumar :P). Ashokan in a short cameo has nothing much to do. Lal does a good job in the very little screen time he gets. The heroine Nayana, who plays Siddique's wife Seema has disastrous acting talents and is the weakest link in the movie. Especially when the same role was played by a powerful performer like Sarika in the original version. Mukesh is really funny in his short cameo.

The relationship issues in this film has been really toned down from what was said in the Hindi version, as the writer and director might have felt that Malayalis may not accept such relationship issues in a Malayalam film. But otherwise the film is a scene by scene copy of Bheja Fry adding no extra scenes for most parts (Thankfully) until the ending (the whole episode with KPAC Lalitha was totally unnecessary). 2 songs are forced into the narrative with absolutely no necessity, just for the sake of having songs. The director has been able to extract good performances in this performance-oriented movie from almost all his actors, except Nayana.

There is not much scope for technical brilliance in this movie- majority of which takes place in the hall of an apartment. Sanjeev Sankar has nothing much to do other than capturing the actors' performances in most scenes through his camera. Editing by Raja Mohammed is okay in this 2 hour long movie, and it would have been much better if he had chopped off those two songs. M Jayachandran's music is lackluster.
All in all, April Fool is the best among all the Malayalam movies released during this season so far. The same actors starred in the other big release of the season, In Ghosthouse Inn, and that movie wasnt half as funny as this one. I'm a person who has already seen Bheja Fry and loved it. But still I enjoyed this movie. So I'm quite sure that people who havnt seen or heard of Bheja Fry would certainly enjoy this movie. Go in expecting some brainless comedy, and you wouldnt be disappointed.

Rating - 3/5