Saturday, January 23


Body guard (10)-1Movie - Bodyguard (Malayalam)
Director - Siddique
Producer - Johny Sagariga
Cast - Dileep, Nayanthara, Mithra Kurian, Thyagarajan, Harisree Ashokan, Guinness Pakru, Appa Haja, Janardhanan, Cochin Haneefa and others.
Music - Ouseppachan
Cinematography - S Kumar ISC
Choreography - Prabhu Deva
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Siddique
Release Date - 23rd January 2010.

A Siddique film after a gap of almost 7 years, Bodyguard is a decent movie which would classify more as a romantic comedy rather than Siddique's usual brand of comic thrillers. His last movie was Chronic Bachelor starring Mammootty, which released in 2003 and was a moderate success. Bodyguard was in the making for over one and a half years and the release of the movie got delayed several times because of many problems faced by the crew and the producer of the film. And after a lot of struggle, Bodyguard finally released on January 23rd and had a great opening. But has been doing just average business after that. The movie actually deserves more than that as it is quite decent and tells a different story.

The story is about Jayakrishnan (Dileep) who idolizes rowdies because he thinks that strength and the ability to create fear in others is the biggest thing in life. So he works as a bodyguard to big time dadas to learn from them, much to the opposition of his family. While working with a dada called Shanmukhan, he learns that a man called Ashokan is the boss of all the other dadas and he is the most feared and respected person in their community. So Jayakrishnan leaves immediately to get a job as the bodyguard of Ashokan (Thyagarajan). A letter from a family friend who taught Ashokan in school, helped him in bagging that job. Jayakrishnan meets Ammu (Nayanthara) at Ashokan's place and realizes only later on that Ammu is actually the daughter of Ashokan. Soon after getting appointed as the bodyguard, Jayakrishnan saves Ashokan and family from a murder attempt on them. Scared of his daughter's safety, Ashokan sends Jayakrishnan along with Ammu and her friend Sethu (Mithra Kurian) as a bodyguard to her college. And to make sure that he is there with her all the time, he arranges a seat for Jayakrishnan also to study in the same class and continue his studies which he dropped long back. Jayakrishnan's funny attire of a Safari suit and cooling glasses causes lots of embarrassment to Ammu when she goes to college. She thinks that the only way to change him is to trap him in a love affair. So she decides to play a prank on him by calling him in a different voice as a girl who is in love with him. Bodyguard tells the story of the confusions that follow.

Siddique has moved away from his usual style in this movie and has tried to narrate a more youthful story, set in a college. The movie follows the genre of a romantic comedy more than an out and out comedy. The movie starts on a disappointing note and picks up momentum once Dileep and Nayanthara move to the college. The prank, which later turns into a romance has been treated quite decently. But people who go for the movie expecting an out and out comedy from Siddique would be disappointed. The comedy is considerably lesser than his previous movies as the director has decided to give more importance to the romance between the leading pair. But the songs which pop without any reason at all are totally irritating. There are six songs in the movie, when it required only a maximum of 2 songs. His decision to cast Thyagarajan, who has just one expression throughout the movie, in a vital role has certainly lessened the impact of the movie. The much-publicized climax of the movie, is written in order to surprise everyone, but becomes predictable once the movie reaches its final stages. There is an obvious inspiration from the blockbuster Hindi movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai as well. (And ya, the famous train scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge also finds its place in the narrative).

bodyguard180Coming to the performances, Dileep shines in a role tailor-made for him. In his first outing with director Siddique, he has made sure that he gives his all to the character Jayakrishnan. Even in the scenes which are written to depict some mushy romance, he adds his own brand of humour in most of those scenes making them more lively. The parts where he goes to college in Safari suits are hilarious. But his dance was much more hilarious in all the songs (unintentionally, of course). If this movie succeeds, it would be a great relief for the actor who hasnt had a solo hit since Vinodayathra in 2007. Nayanthara, in her comeback role, is pretty decent. She gives the much-hyped glam-quotient to the movie and is quite okay in the acting department as well. The actress also hasnt had any hit after Yaaradi Nee Mohini in 2008 and her dates were one of the major reasons for the delay in the shooting of Bodyguard. Mithra Kurian is just passable and in the scenes where she's required to act, she is saved because the director has used only a voice-over by her dubbing artiste. Thyagarajan's stone-faced acting was totally horrible and killed the impact of the character Ashokan, who could've been yet another powerful character like the other villains created by Siddique/Siddique-Lal. Such a role required a much more powerful actor who can be very expressive. Here, Thyagarajan has just one single expression throughout the entire movie. Janardhanan is too loud. Harishree Ashokan is the one who's appointed to provide comic relief, but as seen in recent movies, he has totally lost his old touch and just irritates more and more in the name of comedy. Somebody should seriously tell him that shouting the dialogues will not make it sound funnier. Guinness Pakru provides some good laughs in the college scenes. The late actor Cochin Haneefa, in his last on-screen appearance in Malayalam is very good. His appearance was greeted with a great round of applause even though the theatre had a small crowd. The first 30 minutes of the movie is unbearable due to the loud acting by the cast, which gets all right only when the narrative moves to the college.

Music by Ouseppachan is just okay. Barring 2 songs, all the other 4 songs were totally unnecessary and out of place in the movie. They just pop in randomly when you least expect them and suddenly the entire cast begins to dance to those songs. The only 2 songs which are good are 'Arikathaayaro' and 'Perilla Rajyathe', both having the much-hyped choreography by Prabhu Deva. While the first one has some interesting visualization, the latter one has dance steps which look funny and odd. I didnt find any necessity of having such a big-shot choreographer for the songs of this film. And Prabhu Deva working on those songs, hasnt made much of a difference as well. They look as if they were choreographed by one of the regular people who compose steps for songs.

For the first time, I was not impressed by S Kumar's camerawork in this movie. There is not even a single shot worth remembering in the movie, that too when such a reputed and respected cameraman is behind the camera. First of all, the movie got released in film prints all over Kerala where most of the theatres even in local centres have installed UFO and QUBE digital projection facilities. So that itself kills half the fun. On the whole, the movie doesnt have much visual beauty that one usually expects from a cinematographer like S Kumar.

On the whole, Bodyguard is pretty decent, but not up to the high standards set by the film's director Siddique, who hasnt had a single flop in his career of over 20 years. Lets hope this one also helps him keep his track record intact. The movie is certainly one of the better movies playing in theatres now.

Rating - 3/5

Sunday, January 17

Happy Husbands


Movie - Happy Husbands (Malayalam)
Director - Saji Surendran
Producer - Milan Jaleel
Cast - Jayaram, Indrajith, Jayasurya, Bhavana, Samvritha Sunil, Rima Kallingal, Vandana, Manian Pillai Raju, Suraaj Venjarammood, Salimkumar
Music - M Jayachandran
Cinematography - Anil Nair
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Krishna Poojappura
Release Date - January 17, 2010

Saji Surendran may be one of the few directors who acknowledges where the idea for his movie has been taken from. Happy Husbands is based on the blockbuster Hindi movie No Entry, which in turn, was a remake of a Tamil movie Charlie Chaplin. Having seen No Entry several times and enjoyed it each time, I went in for this one, expecting nothing more than some timepass. And I must say that the movie was total timepass and had lots of hilarious scenes, even though it is a scene by scene remake of No Entry. I watched the film almost a month after its release and the theatre was still packed to its capacity and people were having a really good time watching the movie. The movie was declared a hit in the first week itself and is doing great business now also. Saji Surendran shows some promise as he was able to turn both his debut film and his second film into runaway hits.

The story, as we all know, is about marriages and extra-marital affairs. Jayaram plays Mukundan Menon, the MD of a popular magazine. He is married to Krishnendu (Bhavana), his murappennu, who obsessively keeps doubting him and his activities. She feels insecure that somebody else would snatch her husband from her. She has a friend Shreya (Samvritha), whose husband Rahul (Indrajith) is the ideal husband in front of her, but is actually a hardcore flirt and playboy. Johny (Jayarsurya) is a photographer who works in Mukundan's magazine and is like a brother to him. Johny slowly falls in love with a psychology student Serina (Vandana) and decides to marry her. But the trouble starts when Rahul introduces Diana Philip (Rima Kallingal), a bar dancer to Mukundan. His mind wavers for a while and is attracted to Diana. But by the time he realizes his mistake, he had already told a hundred lies to Krishnendu. The confusion that follows makes up the story of Happy Husbands.

The movie begins with a title song featuring the entire cast in Malaysia. The director and producer also walk in slo-mo along with the cast towards the end of the song. And the entire movie is saturated with loud colours. Be it costumes, sets, walls, accessories, anything. Everything is so bright and flashy. There are places where Indrajith wears lipstick and Orange pants and and all that. Jayaram also wears fancy outfits to his office. And when they go off to Malaysia, things become even worse. Only Bhavana, Samvritha and Jayasurya appeared in good costumes. The properties and set designs were also overflowing with flashy colours. A major part of the second half of the film is shot in Malaysia which gives them an excuse to show some more colour. These were some major turn-offs for an otherwise entertaining movie. They would have done it to make the movie 'colourful'.

Jayaram always excels in comic roles and here we see him in a full-blown comic role for the first time since his comeback through Veruthe Oru Bharya. He plays the part Anil Kapoor played in the Hindi version and adds his own comic touch it and comes out in flying 'colours' :P. It is a delight to watch his expressions when he helplessly begins to lie to his wife. Bhavana was really good as the nagging and doubtful Krishnendu. She is getting more and more beautiful with each film of hers. Indrajith tried to be the uber-cool Salman Khan of this movie and was partly successful. He was good in many scenes, but his costumes and accessories made him look like a wannabe. Not everyone can carry off flashy costumes like Salman Khan. And his comic expressions at times reminded of his brother Prithviraj's poor comic expressions. But on the whole, he was quite okay, but certainly not upto what is expected from a really good actor like him. Samvritha, as usual was looking really beautiful and played a docile wife who believes her husband is the purest person on earth. Jayasurya didnt get much scope to display his full comic timing in the first half, but he makes up for it in the second half. But one feels that he should have been give some more scenes, knowing how good he is with comedy. There is nothing much to mention about the newcomer Nandana. Rima Kallingal certainly suits the part of the seductress and is quite okay, considering that this is only her second full length feature film. Manian Pillai Raju as a horny minister and Salimkumar's double role as a doctor and a travel agent are just passable. Suraaj repeats his Trivandrum accent yet again and people who are still not bored of it, continue laughing at it yet again.

There is nothing much to talk about the music, which is way below the standards of M Jayachandran. Ivar Vivahitharaayal had a great music score, but this one has 3 boring songs, overflowing with colour. The set created for the bar song featuring Rima, looks straight out of the old CID Nazir movies. It looks like Joseprakash's dens where cabarets used to happen in those movies. I couldnt stop laughing seeing that set.

Cinematography by Anil Nair was very impressive. Keeping aside the overdose of colour, his framing and camera movements were really good. He is just 2 films old, and has already landed a huge multistarrer Joshi project (Christian Brothers), which shows that he is already popular in the film circuit. Editing suited the mood of the film. But the length could have been trimmed a little more.
On the whole, Happy Husbands is a fairly entertaining film for people who have already seen No Entry and would be a no-brainer laugh-riot for people who havent seen it. And thankfully, there is no vulgar or cheap humour in the film, just like Saji's debut film. It is hard to find movies like that in today's times when even the major respectful directors fill up their movies with cheap and vulgar jokes just to please the changing tastes of our audience. Saji shows a lot of promise and should soon become a prominent young filmmaker, provided he cuts down on the colour. So those who havent already seen the movie, leave your brains at home and go get a ticket, to have some good time laughing.

Rating - 3/5

Thursday, January 14

Aayirathil Oruvan


Movie - Aayirathil Oruvan (Tamil)
Director - Selvaraghavan
Producer - R Raveendran
Cast - Karthi, Reemma Sen, Andrea, R Parthiban, Azhagam Perumal
Music - GV Prakash Kumar
Cinematography - Ramji
Editor - Kola Bhaskar
Art Director - Santhanam
Action - Rambo Rajkumar
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues -  Selvaraghavan
Release Date - 14th January 2010

Aayirathil Oruvan was certainly one of the most awaited movies of recent times. The movie, directed by Selvaraghavan had been in the making for over 2 years and had faced several hurdles to finally release on Pongal 2010. The movie falls in a never-before-attempted genre in Tamil, or perhaps Indian Cinema - Fantasy Adventure. Karthi, the young hero who stole everyone's hearts through his spectacular performance in the blockbuster Paruthiveeran, is back in his second movie after a gap of around 2 years. Also in the cast are Reemma Sen (who hasnt been doing many movies recently) and the multi-talented Andrea, along with the veteran actor R Parthiban in a pivotal role. The music for the movie is composed by GV Prakash Kumar, thereby making it his biggest project till date. The movie tells the story of two archaeologists and a coolie who set out on an expedition, only to stumble upon a lost civilization.

The movie begins with a 'therukkoothu' which shows the end of the Chola reign and cuts to Thanjavore in AD 1279, where the empire of the last King of the Cholas is being destroyed by the Pandias. With no other option left, the king sends his child and a chosen few of the Cholas to a secret place to escape from the Pandias. They take a sacred idol of the Pandias along with them, which instills further anger in the Pandias. The prince and his group of people is said to have reached a faraway island. Despite several attempts, the Pandias could not reach their hideout due to the traps set by them. And it is said that the Pandias are still trying to get there and recover their sacred idol from the Cholas.

Cut to 2009 - an archaeologist goes missing in an island off the shores of Vietnam. His daughter Lavanya (Andrea), who's also an archaeologist is contacted by another archaeologist Anitha (Reemma Sen) who is given the responsibility to find her missing dad and the area he was exploring, the remains of the Cholas who escaped from Thanjavore. Lavanya joins them on the expedition to help them out with her father's findings about the Cholas and the island. They leave for Vietnam in a ship along with several officers, one of them being an ex-army man Ravi (Azhagam Perumal) and a huge group of Coolies, led by Muthu (Karthi), who is a crass, flirtatious Chennai local and above all, a die-hard MGR fan. They reach Vietnam and set off for the Min-Gua island along with the huge group of archaeologists, doctors, army men and coolies. But the journey was not as easy as they expected. To reach the destination, they have to cross the seven deadly traps set by the Cholas to prevent the Pandias from reaching them. The team loses many of its people on the way and after a while, Lavanya, Anitha and Muthu get separated from the rest of the group. They travel some more, escaping from one trap after the other to finally reach the remains of the Chola kingdom.  Shortly after reaching there, they go crazy due to black magic and are led to another place while they are under a spell. Only then they realize that the Cholas dynasty still exists and consists of a primitive group of barbarians led by their king (R Parthiban). Anitha reveals a secret about herself which causes a crucial turn in the events which later develops into a full-fledged war between the armymen led by Ravi and the primitive Chola group.

The movie begins as an adventure/expedition movie taking several cues from the Indiana Jones movies in the first half and turns into a completely different movie in the second half involving black magic, history, mythology and several other factors. Selvaraghavan should certainly be appreciated for even believing that such a story could be brought alive on the Tamil screen. And with lots of conviction and hard work, he managed to do that with mixed effects. The movie is fairly engaging in the first half with great scenes involving the three leads Karthi, Reemma and Andrea. As usual, Selvaraghavan depicts sexual tension quite openly in this movie also and the 3 main characters are not entirely positive or negative. They are characters with grey shades which make them more interesting. But the movie takes a drastic turn in the second half with the introduction of the lost Chola dynasty and its king Parthiban. First of all, the chaste Tamil spoken by them is very difficult to understand. It takes time for the audience to adjust to that language and the whole setting with a strong dose of sex and violence. It is interesting nevertheless and one keenly follows the whole path where the story is progressing. But it disappoints towards the end where the 'Aayirathil Oruvan' or the 'Chosen One' hardly does anything, despite having the backing of magic powers. In spite of that, the movie is gripping right till the end because one rarely sees such bizarre storylines in our cinema.

aayirathil-oruvan-17Karthi is superb as the coolie Muthu, who later turns into the Chosen One (as the title of the movie suggests). He charms you in the first half with his brilliant comic timing and dialogue delivery. His interactions with the ladies is a delight to watch. Another winning performance from him after his debut Paruthiveeran. With that one film itself, he was touted as the next big thing. Now this one would just add more glory to him.  But he is sidelined in majority of the second half, despite being the hero of the film. He is brought back into action, only towards the end and is not utilized properly in the climax also.

But the movie certainly belongs to Reemma Sen.  The actress, who hasnt been doing many movies off-late, shines in the role of Anitha, the archaeologist, with a hidden agenda. She displays superb confidence in the first half and oozes raw sexuality in the second half. But a minor irk was that her lip-movements for the chaste Tamil were slightly out-of-sync with the dubbed voice.  Her drastic turn in the second half was really impressive. Talking further about her character would give away the plot.

Andrea is beautiful and thats it. She just remains a spectator for most parts in the movie and does not have much to do in this film, other than a swear session with Reemma, which looked really forced, even though it was enjoyable. :P She is completely left out in the second half and hardly has any dialogue.
R Parthiban is the surprise package of the film. He is purposefully over-the-top as the barbaric King. His acting in the scene in which he gets to know that he has been betrayed, and the climax portions, was very good.

The movie relies heavily on Computer Graphics, which are a total letdown. I should say that the graphics were much worse than the sub-standard graphics shown in Dasavathaaram. But the action scenes, choreographed by Rambo Rajkumar (who is no more) are done very well. The logic behind many things cannot be questioned as the movie belongs to the fantasy genre. But still, one feels irritated when certain totally incoherent things are shown in the narrative. The major one being, how did Muthu turn out to be the Chosen One. That question is never answered. I saw the edited version of the film where almost 30 minutes of the film had been edited out from the second half. I heard that those scenes had extreme depictions of sex and violence. But removing those scenes hasnt affected the movie in any manner and from the words of other critics, has only made the movie better. Though Selvaraghavan created a daring and never-before storyline, he was not as successful in converting that on to the screen. But Aayirathil Oruvan deserves to be watched, because such films rarely come in our country and it is very engaging right till the end, even though there are many plot-holes and hiccups here and there.

The music by GV Prakash Kumar is excellent. The first song of the movie is the remix of the superhit MGR song 'Atho Antha Paravai Pola' from the MGR movie with the same title as this movie. Like that song, this one is also picturised during the journey in a ship and its a delight to watch Karthi, Reemma and group doing the old-world steps. 'Oh Easa' is more like a music video with some scary imagery inserted with no particular reason into the movie and also shows the troubles the group has to go through during their expedition in the island. 'Un Mela Aasadhaan' is an awesome song sung by Dhanush, Aishwarya Dhanush and Andrea, which again jars with the rest of the movie. The girls who were fighting with Karthi till then start singing and dancing with him suddenly after drinking a little bit of alcohol. 'Thaai Thindra Manne' featuring Parthiban and Reemma Sen, has Reemma trying to seduce Parthiban where as he sings of the troubles faced by the Cholas since they fled from their homeland. Vijay Yesudas' voice is excellent in that song. The saddest part is that the best track of the album, 'Maalai Neram' sung by Andrea has not been used in the film. It is such a beautiful track and has been the most popular song from the audio soundtrack since its release in June last year. Sadly, there is no place for that song in the movie. And several other tracks from the album were also only partly used or not used at all in the movie. The background score by GV was great as well. Usually Yuvan Shankar Raja comes up with magnificent background scores for Selvaraghavan's films. GV has matched up to that and has even gone above that at certain places.

aayirathil-oruvan-06Cinematography by Ramji is brilliant. Be it the green jungles, the dry and sunny deserts or the dark and dingy hideout of the Cholas, he has captured them all with superb effect. He has replaced Selvaraghavan's favourite cinematographer Arvind Krishna, but has delivered what the film requires and much more than that. Editing by Kola Bhaskar is just okay. He could have trimmed the movie a little more which would have increased the pace considerably. Art Direction by Santhanam is very good, especially in the scenes involving the Chola dynasty in the second half. They havent shown the Cholas to be kings wearing all kinds of Golden jewellery and stuff, but has instead gone for a barbaric and primitive look for all of them.

On the whole, Aayirathil Oruvan is an intriguing watch. After watching the entire movie, I read up stuff on the net about the movie and about Cholas and Pandias. Now, how many movies would make one do that? If you are truly interested, then the movie deserves a second viewing also, to get much more details which one couldnt get in the first viewing. The movie has its share of flaws, but stands out for its courage to tell a story which is drastically different from anything we have seen on screen so far. With a little more work on the screenplay, this movie could have been a classic. But for now, it has to settle being just a good/different movie.

Rating - 3.5/5

Sunday, January 10

VR Talkies Awards 2009 - Malayalam

Best Film
Keralavarma Pazhassiraja

Best Director
Hariharan - Keralavarma Pazhassiraja

Ranjith - Palery Manikyam: Oru Pathirakkolapathakathinte Katha

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Mohanlal - Bhramaram

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Mamta Mohandas - Passenger

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Sarathkumar - Keralavarma Pazhassiraja

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Padmapriya - Keralavarma Pazhassiraja
KPAC Lalitha - Bhagyadevatha

Best Actor/Actress in a Negative Role
Mammootty - Palery Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha

Best Actor/Actress in a Comic Role
Jagadeesh - 2 Harihar Nagar

Best Music Director
Vidyasagar - Neelathamara

Best Lyricist
Ahmed Rafeeq - Kadhayamama (Kerala Cafe)

Best Playback Singer (Male)
P Jayachandran - Kaattaarinu Thorathoru (Loudspeaker)

V Shreekumar - Anuraga Vilochananayi (Neelathamara)

Best Playback Singer (Female)
KS Chitra - Kunnathe Konnaykkum Ponmothiram (Keralavarma Pazhassiraja)

Best Story
James Albert - Ividam Swargamanu
Ividam swargamanu 5264

Best Screenplay
Ranjith Shankar - Passenger

Best Dialogues
Ranjith - Palery Manikyam : Oru Pathirakkolapathakathinte Katha

Best Cinematography
Amal Neerad - Sagar Alias Jacky: Reloaded

Ajayan Vincent - Bhramaram

Best Editing
Vivek Harshan - Sagar Alias Jacky: Reloaded

Best Art Direction
Gokuldas - Neelathamara

Best Background Score
Gopi Sundar - Sagar Alias Jacky: Reloaded

Best Newcomer (Male)
Nishan - Rithu

Best Newcomer (Female)
Archana Kavi - Neelathamara

Best Debut Director
Ranjith Sankar - Passenger

Special Award
M Padmakumar, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Shaji Kailas, Uday Ananthan, Anjali Menon, B Unnikrishnan, Shyamaprasad, Revathy, Anwar Rasheed, Lal Jose and Ranjith - Kerala Cafe