Sunday, March 21



Movie - Nayakan (Malayalam)
Director - Lijo Jose Pellissery
Cast - Indrajith, Thilakan, Siddique, Dhanya Mary Varghese, Lalu Alex,Jagathy Sreekumar, Kalasala Babu, Vijayaraghavan, Sreejith Ravi
Producer - Anoop Johnson
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Rafeeq PS
Cinematography - Manoj Paramahamsa
Music - Prashant Pillai
Editor - Manoj
Art Direction - Salu K George
Release Date - 19th March 2010

This is a film that suddenly came out of nowhere and created a lot of buzz through its slick and stylish promos and posters. The movie, which was supposed to catapult Indrajith into the hero league, was in the making for quite a long time and has finally released today. Directed by Lijo, the son of the late actor Jose Pellissery, the movie is certainly one of the most stylishly made films in Malayalam.

 The movie tells the story of Varadhanunni/Varadhan who lives a double life. One as a Kathakali trainer/performer and the other as a henchman for Vincent Karanavar (Thilakan), to reck vengeance against the person who killed his father (Kalasala Babu), Shankardas (Siddique), who is a magician as well as political bigwig. The film traces the different attempts that Vincent Karanavar, Varadhan and team make to reach Shankardas and kill him because he is their common enemy. Lalu Alex plays the Police Commissioner who investigates this case.

The movie is told in an interesting fashion by going back and forth from past to present and vice versa. The making follows the pattern of Amal Neerad films with a lot of slo-mo shots, never seen before shots of Kochi and slow narrative style with ample scope to display the director's visual style. But the story is an often-repeated story with the hero trying to get revenge for his father's murder against a big villain. The kathakali angle looks like it was added just to get those vibrant colours and a new visual pattern for the film. The villain's character is clearly inspired from the Hollywood movie The Prestige and the sudden change of events in the second half is not really explained, even though the director takes a lot of time in explaining many other scenes which can be clearly understood by the audience even without any explanation. The screenplay deviates from being good to being mediocre at many instances. Same can be said about the dialogues which are smart at times, but extremely silly most of the times.

OgAAACmMJWoABV11EaUE71B1f09OuFOgXyOHPadenuxY6zSyRTpMoUAoAgjde5_6TO63Os56LmhEqYg1vuG9tBTQeZMAm1T1UL-xnEKQIggXz2pNjFK8NXyz532tComing to the performances, Indrajith is the best of the lot, playing the hero Varadhanunni with the required restraint. He looks real suave and has trimmed down a lot for this role. He is very good during the stunt sequences, but does not shine very much where he is made to showcase expressions from Kathakali. This movie certainly proves one point - That Indrajith can certainly give the other heroes a run for their money if he's cast as in a lead role. He has everything that can make him a young hero, now that he has trimmed down a lot. The actor took a lot of his time out from his career for this movie and the result has shown in his looks. He is not able to rise above a certain level, only because the script lets him down. Thilakan, in a different role, with a ponytailed look does not really impress. He does the same things which he has done in many other similar movies. And the pony-tail looks really funny on him. Jagathy Sreekumar is as usual, very good and is not doing comedy in this movie for a change. Dhanya Mary looks nice and does not have much more than that to do. Lalu Alex has given one more really impressive performance after Ividam Swargamanu, as the Commissioner in this movie. But his character is conveniently forgotten at many crucial parts of the movie. Siddique has the toughest role in the movie, but since the character is not developed well, his role remains like a caricature and at many times, we feel as if he is overacting. His looks are indeed very good and very villainous, but the role hasnt been fleshed out well. The others in the cast are just adequate.

This movie belongs to its cinematographer Manoj Paramahamsa, who  just WOWed us with his work in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya some weeks back. Each frame in this movie is brilliant and there are some really extraordinary shots which makes Nayakan a real visual treat. Kochi has been shot in all its glory and so is Malaysia. At certain points, you even feel Kochi looks better than Kuala Lumpur, because of his superb shots in Kochi. Nayakan deserves a watch just because of its excellent camerawork by Manoj. Art Direction by Salu K George is very good and the sets have a raw look which goes with the mood of the movie. Stunts are done very well, especially the one before the interval, even though it looks very similar to the climax stunt sequence in the Hindi version of Ghajini. But the stunt sequences have been done really well and certainly deserves an applause. Editing is all right. Music by AR Rahman's erstwhile assistant Prashant Pillai is another very appealing part of the movie. The music and re-recording have been done very well and adds a lot more impact to the proceedings.OgAAAMX_8xydBWP4ykYGnwAukFw7dVmg3xDqpUNtm0hh9PZh2QoQTYWupwvbrnL8OhZmcqZDTZeGZbrx65Gjk7J4vl8Am1T1UBbugBq2o-diXwm5xMz201lk6Ydd

On the whole, Nayakan remains as an average fare because of its mediocre writing. But can be seen just for the visual beauty of the movie. Such movies are good signs that Malayalam Cinema is indeed progressing as far as style is concerned. Directors like Lijo and Amal Neerad and all sure know how to make stylish movies. All they need are good scripts, which they seriously have to work on, otherwise its very difficult for them to stay for a long time in the industry.

Rating - 3/5

Friday, March 19


Movie - Thanthonni (Malayalam)
Director - George Varghese
Producer - Shahul Hameed Marikar
Cast - Prithviraj, Sheela Kaur, Ambika, Adithya, Saikumar, Suraaj Venjarammood, Suresh Krishna, Vijayaraghavan and so many other people without even a single dialogue.
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - TA Shahid
Music - Thej Mervin
Cinematography - Sajith Menon
Release Date - 19th March 2010.

New directors making their debut through big budget flicks is certainly a thing to cheer about, in the talent-deprived Malayalam film industry where very few new directors get such opportunities. But it is their duty to utilize those opportunities to make interesting or compelling films. A movie like Thanthonni can be made by any Tom, Dick or Harry. The movie doesnt look like it was directed, because it keeps on going direction-less till the end credits roll. A movie made to cash in on the image created by Prithviraj through his fluke hit Puthiya Mukham, Thanthonni is a pathetic mixture of many formula films from Tamil and is made with the sole purpose of glorifying its hero. The movie does not have a storyline, have totally unimportant supporting characters as most of them dont even have dialogues, has terrible songs, bad cinematography and worst of all, its saturated cringe-worthy scenes and dialogues. Why are Malayalis subjected to this kind of torture season after season?? We cant bear even our great actors Mammootty and Mohanlal doing formula stuff like this, so how did they even think that the audience would sit through all this done by Prithviraj?

As I said earlier, there is no story, so I am not bothering to write the synopsis of the story in this review. There are just scenes created to glorify Prithviraj. He comes as the drunk Kottayam Achayan and tries his best to do comedy, Lalettan style, but falls flat on his face. He just cannot act drunk. He is unbearable when he acts drunk. I think he should see the young guys in the Tamil flick GOA to learn how to act drunk naturally, without any extra effort. Here, our man stretches every muscle of his face and the rest of his body to make us believe that he is drunk. SAD!!! Next he turns into action hero by beating up Baburaj who is twice as big as him. A very evident wannabe-Mohanlal-ness comes in here when our hero removes his watch just before the stunt starts. He should realize that just by doing things great people have done earlier, he cannot be great. Prithviraj had started acting in interesting films like Thirakkatha, Thalappavu, etc. but got blinded by the so-called 'Next Superstar' tag which he got with Puthiya Mukham. He is an upcoming young actor who is getting better with each film of his, but it is when he does stuff like this, that people forget all the good work he has done and hate him with all their heart. Such films are meant to be done by superstars, and they are in that position because they have earned it by doing great commercial flicks which were wholesomely entertaining. Not half-baked films like these which are made only to glorify the lead actor. The movie continues with loads of such similar scenes and by the second half, you get mind-numbed seeing his transformation into a Baasha-like character in true Tamil style. If you want your movie to be like Baasha, your scenarist should at least be able to create a character that the audience would want to cheer for. Who wants to root for Valiyaveettil Kochukunju, who keeps repeating in every single line he says in the movie that he is a Thanthonni? Puthiya Mukham, in spite of being an extremely silly film, could keep the interest of the audience at least to a certain extent. But this one just gets on your nerves instead.

The other actors in this movie do nothing. The heroine has one song in Dubai and around 10 dialogues, and acts without any noticeable expression throughout. Ambika hams up the senti parts she has been given. Saikumar looks extremely funny in a hideous wig and beard and his song and flashback was unintentionally hilarious. It was one of the most enjoyable parts in the movie, just because it was so so so silly. Vijayaraghavan has a double role. God knows for what!! Suraaj Venjarammood appears in certain parts and disappears for most parts (maybe he didnt have dates), and gets on your nerves, as usual. The Tamil import villain Aditya repeats what he has done in every role he has played in Malayalam so far. Sudheesh was funny as the hotel manager and the scene where he says he'll go to jail instead of Prithviraj got the maximum response in the form of howling in the theatre. Suresh Krishna appeared completely uncomfortable praising Prithviraj in the entire second half. I have never seen him praising any hero in any film of his, not even inPazhassiraja. There are many others, most of them prominent actors like Captain Raju, Sadique, Bindu Panikker, etc. who do not have even proper dialogues in the film.

The songs are ridiculous. The one song which is featured in Saikumar's flashback portions is extremely funny. There is another song sung by Yesudas, which looks forced into the narrative just because they wanted to show a song with the mother. The producer has spent loads of money, and being in the automobile business, has gotten lots of luxury cars in the movie, but the cinematographer has not been successful in making them look good. Hummers, Lamborghini's and all do not get the stylish shots they deserve. They are just plainly shot by the cinematographer without any effort to make them look good. TA Shahid is the man who has written the most number of terrible scripts in this industry in such a short time period and is still surviving. Just look at his track record - Pachakkuthira, Khaki, Alibhai, Naatturajavu, One way Ticket, etc. I think Balettan and Mambazhakkalam are the tolerable ones which has his name on the writing credits. I dont think Rajamanikyam was even written by him, even though he is credited for it. It is way above his standards. Such unimaginative writers are the curse of the Malayalam industry, and people who approach them for scripts should be beaten up before them. (I do not have any personal grudges against any of these people. I am just writing down my feelings after being subjected to such torture in the name of films).

If this film turns into a hit, then I would lose all my respect (half of which is already lost) towards the Malayalam audience. But from the looks of it, I think they have already rejected it. The howling session in the theatre where I watched was not arranged by fellow-actors to degrade Prithviraj. It was coming from the inside of each and every person who was sitting there and was being subjected to all this Thanthonnitharam. Certain people even suggested that the movie should have been named another gross, harsh Malayalam word which rhymes with the current title of the movie, after seeing it. And you cant help but agree when you hear such comments from the audience who pay so much of their hard-earned money to watch stuff like this.

Mr. Prithviraj, please stop trying!!! We have our share of superstars in the Malayalam industry and we are satisfied with them. (Even their superstar -antics have begun to bore us). We can appreciate you in roles which are suited for you. Not ones where you are desperately trying to prove that you are as good as them. You are not!!! And please dont force your so-called superstardom on us. We agree that you are the most promising actor in the younger generation. But then, you have just started out, and need to go a long long way to reach the heights achieved by our superstars. And they have become such big stars because they are great actors as well, because in our Malayalam industry, a bad actor has never become a superstar, unlike other industries. Till then keep doing good movies like Thirakkatha, Classmates, Thalappavu, etc and realize what you are actually good at. Dont torture us with your desperate attempts like these!! And please dont ever try doing comedy!!! You just cannot do it!!! Having said that, I'm really looking forward to what you will be doing in Mani Ratnam's Raavan.

Rating - 0/5