Friday, February 12



Movie - Aagathan (Malayalam)
Director - Kamal
Cast - Sathyaraj, Dileep, Lal, Biju Menon, Charmi, Zarina Wahab, Innocent, Reena Basheer, Shilpa Bala
Music - Ouseppachan
Cinematography - Ajayan Vincent
Editing - V Saajan
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Kamal, Kalavoor Ravikumar
Release Date - 12th February 2010

Both the director of the movie Kamal and the hero Dileep have been going through rough patches in their career. Kamal has not made a good movie sinceKarutha Pakshikal in 2006. And Dileep has not had a big hit sinceVinodayathra in early 2007. The trailers and songs from Aagathan which were out some time back, were very impressive and the movie looked very promising from them. Especially because the cast included the veteran actor from Tamil, Sathyaraj, acting for the first time in Malayalam. The trailer depicted the movie as a dark revenge tale, something completely different from what is expected from a Kamal-Dileep combination. But the movie just remains an average fare as the writers and the director have treated the movie in a completely predictable manner. What makes the movie watchable are the performances, music and cinematography.

Aagathan-39The movie begins in Srinagar where a happily living family of four is destroyed when the parents are shot dead by militants. The children- a teenage girl and her young brother escape from the house, only to reach a gun-point. What we see next is that the girl is in a hospital trying to recover from a coma stage. The boy studies and grows up and one fine day, his sister dies at the hospital after years of treatment. The boy grows up to be Gautham Menon (Dileep). He travels to Kerala to find Major Joseph John (Lal) who was one of the people who saved him and his sister from militants. From him, Gautham gets information about the chief of the operation that rescued him, General Hareendra Varma (Sathyaraj). We are then introduced to the General's family who stays in a farmhouse somewhere around Ootty. His daughter Shreya (Charmi) studies in Bangalore and is under constant pressure from her grandmother to get married. Gautham and Charmi have a chance encounter during a bus journey and due to certain circumstances, they miss the bus from a certain point as a result of Gautham's urge to a good deed. Gautham develops a liking towards Shreya and leaves as soon as they reach Bangalore. Shreya also feels a sense of admiration towards Gautham and tries to find him at various places. A romance slowly blossoms between the two even though they hardly meet after that. Gautham stays at an apartment rented to him by Shreya's cousin Dr.Sudhir (Biju Menon). And the romance culminates in a marriage proposal with the approval of the family. So all of them travel from Bangalore to the General's farmhouse to introduce the groom to the father-in-law. But right on the second day, Gautham tells the General that he had an another hidden intention in coming there, which has a strong connection with his wounded past. The incidents that follow forms the rest of the story of Aagathan.

The screenplay is at major fault for the predictability of the movie. If the initial portions shot in Kashmir hadnt been shown and the movie had directly started with the love story, one would have been certainly surprised by the turn of events in the second half. But sadly, that isnt the case here. As the audience is aware of the hero's past, they can easily guess what will be his business with the General. And another thing which could have been done was, not to reveal that Shreya was General's daughter to the audience, at least till the interval point, so that they dont have any suspicion in the love story, which is also not done in the screenplay. As a result, there is absolutely no suspense and anyone can easily guess where the movie is going. But in spite of that, the movie is imminently watchable because it moves at a good pace and has consistently good performances, aided with good music and brilliant camerawork. The climax is a huge let down and severely affects the impact of the movie as a whole. The second half, which shows some promise initially where the audience expects some mind-games between Gautham and the General. But nothing of the sort happens and an extremely silly family song is inserted in the middle of all this, to make matters more worse.

Aagathan-33Dileep puts in yet another impressive performance. Moving away from his usual comedy roles, he shows extreme restraint and underplay in his performance. He looks really good in a stubble and formal clothes in the first half of the film and his romance with Charmi is very believable. In the second half, we see glimpses of his humorous side, but by the latter part of the second half, his characterization becomes very weak, thereby affecting his performance. But on the whole, his performance is very very impressive and we get to see a different side of his acting through this movie and sadly the actor is let down by the weak script towards the end of the movie. Charmi looks extremely pretty and has some good scenes in the first half. She does well in those parts, but is completely ignored in the second half of the film, except for a duet that randomly pops up. Lal was the most impressive among the entire cast. As an alcoholic ex-military man, he shines and displays his comic side yet again with some great lines and humorous scenes which go down very well with the audience. The few scenes which got applause during the entire movie, were the ones featuring him. But the most disappointing part was Sathyaraj, whose Malayalam film debut was hyped so much. The main reason for this disappointment is that his character is the weakest in the movie. The veteran actor tried his best to raise that character above the weak script, but he could not do that beyond a point. So, his whole effort of making an entry into Malayalam films is wasted because he gets such a weak character which doesnt require much from an actor with so many years of experience and who was an expert at doing negative roles at one point of time in Tamil Cinema. His voice was dubbed by two people, Saikumar for the Malayalam dialogues and the usual dubbing artiste speaks good English dialogues in almost every Malayalam movie (I still havent found his name).  Saikumar's voice is so familiar to every Malayali that it looks odd when his voice comes out from a different person. Biju Menon is completely wasted except for one good comic scene in the second half of the film. Otherwise he has nothing to do in the entire film. Innocent's comedy doesnt work one bit. Zarina Wahab who was delightful in this week's other release My Name is Khan,  is also completely wasted in this movie. All she has to do is to stand behind Sathyaraj in the entrie movie, with very few dialogues.

Aagathan-19The music for the film composed by National Award winning composer Ouseppachan, is very good and is one of the few redeeming factors of the film. The song 'Njaan Kanavil' stands out as the best track and has a very warm picturization as well. It is a welcome change to see a Malayalam song being shot in and around Bangalore city with a completely urban feel to the romance between the lead pair. 'Manju Mazha' shot in Kashmir (or someplace which is made to believe as Kashmir) is a very good song, but was not really necessary. And on top of that, the song is repeated once more in a male version which further increases the length of the movie and tests the patience of the viewer. The duet 'Oro Kanavum' is a great song, but was totally unnecessary in the second half. The song is shot in some neat locations, but the really silly dance steps spoil the visualization. There is yet another song 'Munthiri - something' which is shot in Sathyaraj's vineyard in Ootty, and was really laughable, because nobody expected such a song when the movie was going on such a serious note. And Sathyaraj, who was brooding till then, joining in to sing and dance, looked really silly. The background score was very good and enhanced many of the scenes and helped them work better. Cinematography by Ajayan Vincent was the best thing about this movie. The cinematographer, who showed us his amazing skill through Bhramaram, repeates his good work in this one. And like in Bhramaram, he has shown special skill in taking shots on moving vehicles, out of which, one shot inside an auto stands out as the best. He consistently gives great shots and visuals throughout the movie which makes it a visual pleasure to watch the movie in spite of the predictable script.

Aagathan-21On the whole, Aagathan is definitely better than Kamal's recent outings like Goal, Pachakkuthira andMinnaminnikkoottam and is a watchable film. It is definitely not bad and one cannot say many negatives about the film. But with a better and innovative script, this film could have been much, much better and much more engaging. As of now, one can just say that it is an average movie. It doesnt create any thrill or suspense in our minds and as a result, doesnt engage its audience. It has good performances by Dileep and Lal and re-introduces us to a beautiful leading lady, Charmi. The veteran actor Sathyaraj is let down by a weak character. The movie has very good music and one lovely song tops the list. Cinematography by Ajayan Vincent is the most interesting aspect of the film. Go for it, if you have nothing better to do. Kamal seems to have regained some of his lost form, and looks like he is quite updated on the technical parts of filmmaking, but he has to update himself with new methods of writing as well, to make different movies from now on. I had reasonable expectations for this movie, but I am very disappointed with the outcome. The movie is not bad, but is not great either. An average fare.

Rating - 2.5/5

My Name Is Khan

my-name-is-khan2Movie - My Name is Khan (Hindi)
Director - Karan Johar
Producers - Hiroo Yash Johar, Gauri Khan
Cast - Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Zarina Wahab, Jimmy Sheirgill, Parvin Dabbas, Sonya Jehan, Anuj Mathur, Sugandha Garg, Vinay Pathak, Tanay Chheda
Music - Shankar/Ehsaan/Loy
Cinematography - Ravi K Chandran ISC
Editing - Deepa Bhatia
Production Designer - Sharmishtha Roy
Story, Screenplay - Shibani Bhatija
Dialogues - Shibani Bhatija, Niranjan Iyengar
Release Date - 12th February 2010.

'My Name is Khan and I am not a terrorist!'This is the simple point that the leading man of this movie wants to make unlike all the recent movies with the 9/11 incident as its backdrop. My Name is Khan is not about religion, not about terrorism and definitely not about autism. It is about just one simple thing - love, which the movie's director has specialized in, over the years. But this time around, he chooses a much more serious backdrop to tell yet another superb love story. And as the end product, we get a movie which is compelling, spirited, touching and uplifting. It makes us laugh, it makes our eyes moist, it makes us smile, and most importantly, it lifts our spirits. And in the process, it also touches upon a lot of issues with clear cut sensibility.

The movie tells the story of Rizwan Khan (Shahrukh Khan), who is on a journey to meet the President of the United States of America, to prove that he is not a terrorist. Rizwan suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a different form of autism, which makes him different from all of us. He cannot display his emotions like normal people, he has problems adjusting with new people, new places and hates loud noises and the colour yellow. His style of speech is also very different from others and he is very particular about the pronounciation of his name. Other than that, he's a very intelligent person, who can 'repair almost anything', in his own words. Raised by a loving Ammi (Zarina Wahab) in India, he is brought to USA by his younger brother Zakir (Jimmy Sheirgill) after his mother's death. While working for his brother's company, Rizwan meets Mandira (Kajol), a Hindu single mother who works in a salon. Rizwan is immediately smitten by her and after some beautiful SRK-Kajol magic shot wonderfully by Karan, they get married and move into a new house. Shortly after that, 9/11 occurs and their lives were never the same again. They begin to be subjected to racial discrimination and religious intolerance and one such incident turns into a nightmarish tragedy for the Khan family which changed their lives forever. The relationship between Rizwan and Mandira breaks and Mandira asks him to leave and not come back until he proves to the country and its people that all Muslims are not terrorists. My Name is Khan tells the story of Rizwan's journey that follows.

mynameiskhanshahrukhkhaze3Karan Johar has always been branded as a candyfloss filmmaker who makes either mushy romantic movies or emotional family dramas/tearjerkers. And he has been exceptionally good with that brand of cinema. He tried to tread a different path with Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, but he wasnt very successful in creating a good film. And when I heard that he is taking up the subject of terrorism and Indians post 9/11, I seriously had zero expectations. In spite of the return of THE BEST on-screen jodi ever, Shahrukh and Kajol, I wasnt very interested in this movie, as I was already fed up of movies based on this theme after New York and Kurbaan and the likes. I wanted to see Shahrukh and Kajol together in a kind of movie that Karan Johar was famous for earlier, not a serious movie on terrorism. But thankfully, the director proved that I was completely wrong, through this amazing film. He has used terrorism, Islam, etc. just as backdrops to tell the beautiful love story of Rizwan and Mandira. And there is no better person other than him, to narrate love stories in Hindi Cinema. Karan has worked only as a director for the first time and has stayed away from the writing department. Shibani Bhatija has written the story and screenplay for the film. Karan has done away with his usual designer clothes, characters living with a grand lifestyle and of course, song and dance. Rizwan in this movie, comes from a slum in Mumbai, not from a palatial house where he can come down in choppers and all that. And the restraint is there in almost all the aspects of the movie. There is not so much melodrama, no bright colours (since our protagonist hates them) and absolutely no overacting. Karan narrates the story with simplicity and warmth, which makes it completely different from all his previous outings, but he still does all this by staying within the conventional Hindi film format, with a great happy-ending where our hero triumphs in the end. We all know that the second half and the climax of the movie is very far-fetched, but Karan narrates it in such a way that it makes us happy and makes us want to believe that it is all true. Very few filmmakers can do that. Nobody can dare to call him a candyfloss filmmaker from now on. He has given one of the most mature films of recent times.

mnik1Shahrukh Khan surprises us each time we write him off. The actor is famous for his superstardom rather than his acting skills. But once in a while, he gives some really outstanding performances which totally takes us by surprise. He has done that earlier withKabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (which was before he became a superstar), Dil Se, Hey Ram, Swades and Chak De India before. But My Name is Khan can easily be called his career-best performance. In a character who is pretty obviously inspired from Forrest Gump, Shahrukh shines and brings a new-found maturity to his performance. His body language, different style of speech and above all, facial expressions are truly wonderful. The role could have easily gone overboard with lots of hamming, but thankfully, Shahrukh gives a nuanced and restrained performance throughout the film. His character is lovable, endearing and inspiring. The award organizers can already reserve all the Best Actor trophies for next year for this gem of a performance. Kajol, back after a short gap, is absolutely stunning. She looks gorgeous and matches Shahrukh in every frame with her acting. And the chemistry, OMG!! From the second the two of them come together on screen, the movie just takes off to a completely different level. I was smiling non-stop from the scene where Shahrukh meets Kajol, till the 9/11 incident because the romance between them was so beautiful and charming and one cannot help but fall in love with their on-screen chemistry. 9 years after their last movie together, they still have crackling chemistry and can give all the current hot jodis a run for their money. Zarina Wahab is lovely in a cameo. Jimmy Sheirgill gets no scope to perform and does a good job in the few scenes given to him. Sonya Jehan is very good. Anuj Mathur and Sugandha Garg, 2 young talents we discovered recently through Luck By Chance and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na respectively, are cast as media students who help Rizwan in getting to his goal. They do a great job together. Parvin Dabbas as the news reporter is impressive. Vinay Pathak in a short comic role is not very effective. Tanay Chheda who played the younger version of Rizwan is excellent. The child who played Sameer and all the other American artistes were adequate.

Unlike the recent movies which were based on the same issue, none of the characters in this movie are terrorists. The mediocre New York and the terrible Kurbaan had protagonists who wanted to get back at the people of United States because of the discrimination and violence that they faced. But our man Rizwan stands against all that and proves that love and humanity can change everything through his deeds in this movie. Even though Karan takes a lot of time in establishing this in the second half, it is all worth it. The climax, treated in a very filmy fashion, says that Rizwan achieved through love and humanity what many others could not achieve through grief and hatred. The movie just tries to say two simple things - 'There are just two kinds of people in the world - good people and bad people.' And that all Muslims are not terrorists. The movie is sure to please all kinds of crowds and have them cheering for many of the smart dialogues written by Shibani and Niranjan Iyengar.

Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy complements the film perfectly. Going away from the brand of music which is usually associated with Karan Johar films, S-E-L has composed songs with an obvious sufi influence in almost all the songs. 'Tere Naina' is beautiful and shows the growth of the relationship between SRK and Kajol. 'Noor-E-Khuda' is the best track in the movie and is by all means, an uplifting song that lifts your spirits. The visualization is brilliant as well. Cinematography by Ravi K Chandran is spectacular. He gives the dark and grumpy feel to the slums in Mumbai and shoots San Fransisco and all the other American cities in all their glory during Rizwan's journey. This movie would certainly feature among the celebrated cinematographer's best works. Editing by Deepa Bhatia was also very impressive.

My Name is Khan is already up there as the best work of Karan Johar, Shah Rukh and Kajol till date. Filmmakers like Karan Johar attempting movies like this is certainly a great sign and now, even our mainstream Bollywood cinema is going through a process of change. Even the biggest filmmakers who are known to stick to their favourite formulas have started experimenting and getting fruitful results. The entire team can be proud that they have created a landmark movie in Hindi Cinema, where the biggest director and the biggest star in the country have taken a great step forward by making a movie like this. My Name is Khan deserves to be watched. The protests and controversies be damned!!! Do not miss it at any cost. Must-Watch!!!

Rating - 4/5