Sunday, November 28

First Look - Kandahar

Movie - Kandahar (Malayalam)
Director - Major Ravi
Producers - Mohanlal, Sunil Nair
Cast - Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal, Ganesh Venkatraman, Sumalatha, KPAC Lalitha
Cinematography - Ravi Varman
Editing - Don Max
Art Direction - Rajeevan
Music - Shamir Tandon
Written By - Major Ravi
Release Date - 17th December 2010. 

Kandahar, the movie based on the 1999 hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft has been in the news ever since the project was announced. The primary reason for the buzz being that the director Major Ravi and the producer and lead actor Mohanlal had convinced one of the country's biggest superstars and a brilliant actor called Amitabh Bachchan to play a small but significant part in the movie. Mohanlal was playing his iconic Major Mahadevan character for the third time after Keerthichakra and Kurukshetra, and for the first time after he was granted the honorary Lieutenant Colonel rank in the territorial army of India. Tamil Superstar Suriya was signed to play Amitabh Bachchan's son as per initial plans, but he backed out later stating date issues and was replaced by model-turned-actor Ganesh Venkatraman, who had already acted with Mohanlal in Kamal Haasan's Unnaipol Oruvan. The movie was shot in a record 28 days in different schedules and locations and is expected to release on 17th December 2010. Kandahar also marks the return of Pranavam Arts International, one of the most prestigious production companies in Malayalam to the Silver Screen. Pranavam Arts, Mohanlal's home production company has produced many brilliant movies which turned out to be milestones in Malayalam Cinema - His Highness Abdullah, Bharatham, Kamaladalam, Kalapani, Harikrishnans, Vanaprastham, et al. After a 10 year hiatus, the production company has been revived by Mohanlal along with his friend Sunil Nair. The cinematography of the film is being done by ace cameraman Ravi Varman who shot to fame with Anniyan and has also done some spectacular work in movies like Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and Dasavathaaram.  Music is by Shamir Tandon who is a favourite of the National Award winning director Madhur Bhandarkar. The movie also stars yesteryear actress Sumalatha and veteran actress KPAC Lalitha in important roles. The spectacular trailer of the movie has sky rocketed the expectations of everyone who has been waiting for this mega venture eagerly. Get ready for December 17th. :) :)

Thursday, November 25

College Days is average at best.

Movie - College Days (Malayalam)
Director - GN Krishnakumar
Cast - Indrajith, Sandhya, Dhanya Mary Varghese, Biju Menon, Govind Padmasoorya, Suraaj Venjarammoodu, Bhama, Sayikumar. 
Music - Ronnie Raphael
Cinematography - Sujith Vasudev
Editing - Babu Retnam
Release Date - 19th November 2010. 

College Days is a Shaji Kailas inspired thriller which is about ragging in medical colleges a la Chinthamani Kolacase. The title and the stills suggest a breezy college flick, but then the posters have the tagline 'Spine-chilling suspense thriller' which creates doubts in your mind. And yes, College Days does not have even a single good thing about college life - the classes, friends, romance, fun or anything, its only about one aspect of college life - ragging. It also includes the mandatory Suraaj Venjarammoodu and an item song. 

Athira (Bhama), a medical student is killed by a group of 5 seniors including 3 guys and 2 girls in the ladies hostel of a famous medical college. The 5 free themselves from the case, since one of them is a highly influential minister's son. The story then moves to the next academic year, when Rohit Menon (Indrajith) joins the college for house-surgeoncy and on the very first day, he turns into the biggest enemy for the 5 bullies. They hatch different plans to trap Rohit, but none of them works, and when one of their plans go seriously wrong, Rohit gets killed. They hide the body and return back to their normal lives, but the city Police commissioner Sujith (Biju Menon) is on the trail of the murderers of Rohit. The events that follow forms the rest of College Days. 

The storyline of the movie is similar to many movies of the same genre that have come earlier in Malayalam, the most recent being Chinthamani Kolacase. The director has tried to do something different with the treatment, but has not succeeded. With a great actor like Indrajith on board, he could have used him to the film's advantage. But instead, Indrajith gets a raw deal as the actor is not utilized at all, especially in the entire second half, except for the climax. The writing is poor and most of the events and twists in the second half are easily predictable. 

Indrajith is earnest in his short stint as the young college hero. But in his second avatar, he is not given anything to perform. During the entire second half, he keeps appearing with thunder and lightning for company and does not utter a single word until the climax. Biju Menon excels as the police commissioner and he's the sole reason why we can sit through the entire second half. Sandhya is decent in the negative role, but Dhanya Mary Varghese and her bad acting does a lot of damage. The guys are competent, especially the main villain (didnt get his name) and Govind Padmasoorya. Suraaj Venjarammoodu is cheap and dirty as usual and his scenes with the fat star singer fellow are gross and puke-inducing. Bhama comes in a couple of scenes. Sayikumar has his regular bad minister role. 

The movie has a good technical side. Sujith Vasudev's camerawork is very good, except for the night scenes. Music by Ronnie Raphael is also good. The fresher's day song was very nice. And the item song, even though picturised horribly with some terrible lyrics, had a good rythm. The background score is apt for the theme of the movie. Art direction is okay. It was funny to see posters of Shah Rukh Khan in hostel rooms in 2010. 

Summing up, College Days is mildly engaging because of the genre it belongs to. It is slightly better than the other recent movie which called itself a Thriller. Indrajith gets a raw deal. Biju Menon gives a spot on performance along with some competent villains. The movie could have been a lot more with a little more interesting screenplay and some able direction. But in its present form, College Days is average at best. 

Rating - 2.5/5

Tuesday, November 23

First Look - Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)

Movie - Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) [Hindi]
Director - Kiran Rao
Producers - Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao
Cast - Prateik, Monica Dongra, Kirti Malhotra & Aamir Khan
Music - Gustavo Santaolalla
Cinematography - Tushar Kanti Ray
Editor - Nishanth Radhakrishnan
Writer - Kiran Rao
Release Date - 21st January 2011.

Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) is the quiet and stirring story of four disparate characters who slip away from the comforts of familiar moorings and are inexorably drawn into compelling relationships. Fragments of their experience seen through a naïve video diary, black and white photographic images, and painting form a portrait of a city and its people, bound together as they journey through longing, loneliness, love and loss. Its an Aamir Khan Production, directed by his wife Kiran Rao, which features Aamir himself in one of the key roles. That alone makes this movie a must watch in any case, going by Aamir's reputation alone. :) Here's the trailer of the film. 

Sunday, November 21

TD Dasan Std VI B is a tiny little gem that deserves to be seen.

Movie – TD Dasan Std VI B (Malayalam)
Director – Mohan Raghavan
Producers – Paul Vadakumchery, Paul Valikodath
Cast – Alexander, Tina Rose, Biju Menon, Shwetha Menon, Shruti Menon, Jagadish, Suresh Krishna, Valsala Menon, etc
Music & Background Score – Sreevalsan J Menon
Cinematography – Arun Varma
Editing – Vinod Sukumaran
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues – Mohan Raghavan
Now Available On – Moser Baer DVDs & VCDs.

Malayalis constantly complain that there is no quality cinema being made here and when quality films come up, they turn their backs towards them and go watch the mundane formula films instead, turning them into huge hits. One victim of this sheer hypocrisy of Malayalis is TD Dasan Std VI B. A small gem of a film, which didn’t get the success or attention it deserved. Such films need to be seen and promoted so that more and more such films are made, rather than spending money for the banal formula flicks. I was away from Kerala during the week when this movie released, and when I came back and wanted to watch it, I was surprised to see the hopeless Vijay movie Suraa playing at almost all theaters in Erankulam while this movie was long gone. And I had to wait for the DVD to watch it finally.

TD Dasan (Alexander), a 6th standard student at a small village school in Palakkad, finds his estranged father’s address in his mother’s (Shwetha Menon) trunk. He secretly sends a letter to the address because he wants to silence his class bully who constantly calls him a bastard. The letter reaches Ammu (Tina Rose) who lives with her father Nandan (Biju Menon), an ad-film maker at the address where Dasan’s father Divakaran lived earlier. Ammu feels a certain affection for Dasan through his letters and responds to him as his father and in the meanwhile the ad filmmaker Nandan finds Dasan’s situation as a great material for a film script. What happens next forms the story of TD Dasan Std VI B.

The movie takes us back to the era of good Malayalam films which were simple, sweet, short, had a Malayali nativity and a wonderful story to tell. TD Dasan is just 1.5 hours long and yet it tells so many things in that short span of time which many long films cannot. Newcomer Mohan Raghavan has taken a concept which has almost become extinct in this age of social networking – pen pals. While Ammu considers Dasan something like her pen pal and understands his world through his letters, Dasan discovers about his father whom he has never seen through the letters that Ammu sends him. At the same time, Nandan considers Dasan’s story as a potential story for a film, unaware of what Ammu is doing. This leads him to several interesting discussions with his writer friends on what could have happened to Dasan’s father Divakaran.

Alexander, the young lad who plays the protagonist TD Dasan is very good and has brought out all the emotions that the character goes through very well. Tina Rose who plays Ammu also does her part effectively. Biju Menon gives an impressive performance after a long time in a role that suits him perfectly. Jagadish was a little over-the-top, but that is not even 1/100th of the overacting he has been doing in his recent films. He was pretty decent in this one compared to those films. Suresh Krishna plays his part subtly and that works very well. Shwetha Menon is evolving into a fine actress and you can actually see the difference in each film. The award winning actress has done a great job in this film too. Shruti Menon is decent in her short role. Valsala Menon is excellent as usual. The kid who played the bully Thomas Kutty was very good as well.

The director takes on several topics – the boy’s loneliness and the insult that he goes through each time when he is called a bastard by his classmate; the mother’s struggle to run the family and the tag of a slut that she has to face; and Ammu, who is separated from her mother and not getting enough attention from her busy father (even though she is portrayed as a happy child), finds joy in building a relationship with Dasan; Nandan who feels Dasan’s story would be able to connect to a wide audience. And while all this happens, there is a struggle against a multi-national Cola company going on in the background as well. There are no unnecessary songs, except for a lovely song which syncs well with the film when Dasan is overjoyed getting a response from his father. There are no sub-plots which convolute the main plot and the ones which are present in the movie contribute towards it in some way or the other. It was very nice to see the creative process (popularly known as discussions) in formulating a screenplay, being depicted in a film, that too with visual detail. Those scenes are proof that the director Mohan Raghavan is a very talented writer-director.

Music and background score by the talented Sreevalsan J Menon is very effective. The one delightful song takes us through the sweet little world of Dasan. Cinematographer Arun Varma has done a neat job. Editor Vinod Sukumaran has made the film crisp and to the point without even a single sequence that can be termed boring.

On the whole, TD Dasan is one of the finest films to have come out in Malayalam in a long time. It deserved a better fate. There were even reports in newspapers saying that the theatre owners themselves dissuaded people from watching this movie saying its no good. The makers are also to be blamed partially since there was absolutely no publicity and marketing for this film and many people were not even aware that such a film had released. And by the time people realised that such a film was out, it was gone from theaters. And it looks like that the talented writer-director Mohan Raghavan will have a bright future ahead, provided his work gets more visibility. Get hold of this movie at least on DVDs and watch it soon.

Rating – 4/5

Friday, November 19

Hrithik Roshan makes Guzaarish a great watch.

Movie – Guzaarish (Hindi)
Director – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Producers – Ronnie Screwvala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast – Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Rajit Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Nafisa Ali, Monikangana Dutta, Suhel Seth,
Music – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cinematography – Sudeep Chatterjee
Editor – Hemal Kothari
Screenplay, Dialogues – Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhavani Iyer, Vibhu Puri
Background Score – Tubby
Release Date – 19th November 2010.

I was quite turned off by the promos and song visuals of Guzaarish that I saw on TV so far. I thought Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali was making the same mistake of being over-indulgent like he did in Saawariya. The movie looked like it was inspired from Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Prestige from the visuals of the magic shows in the promos. The music also didn’t impress me much except for a couple of songs on the first hearing. Yet, I wanted to watch the movie for Hrithik Roshan and the stunning visuals that has become Bhansali’s trademark. And when I watched it today, I realized I was so wrong about the movie.

Guzaarish tells the story of Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), a famed magician who turned into a quadriplegic after a fatal accident during one of his shows.  He has been going through the pain and suffering of living a completely paralyzed life for 14 long years. He is completely dependent on his caretaker/nurse for 12 years, Sofia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) who gave up everything in her life to look after Ethan. Ethan hosts a radio show through which he inspires the people of Goa to live their lives fully, but on the other hand, he wants to end his miserable life full of suffering. So he requests his advocate friend Devayani (Shrenaz Patel) to appeal for Euthanasia aka mercy killing to the court. In the meanwhile, an enthusiastic Omar Siddiqui (Aditya Roy Kapoor) also lands at Ethan's mansion to learn magic from him. Guzaarish tells the story of Ethan and his relationships with these few people in his life.

The storyline of Guzaarish is almost completely lifted from an Academy Award winning Spanish movie The Sea Inside [2004] (No, I havent seen it, I read up the synopsis on IMDB. :P) making it Bhansali's second film on disability lifted from a foreign feature film. And the various sub-plots are lifted from various other films. If Rani Mukherji could not see, hear or speak in Black, those are the only things that Hrithik Roshan can do in Guzaarish, as he is completely paralyzed below his neck. Even though the film is not original, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has managed to create a beautiful picture out of the source material with some great performances, touching moments and stunning cinematography. There are several moments in Guzaarish which make you smile utilizing Hindi Cinema’s best charm – the feel good factor, and there are many others which make your eyes moist. And yes, he has utilized his passion for narrating his stories opulently, Broadway style, just like he did in Saawariya, but he has used it better this time around for a much more engaging story. While Saawariya remained a showreel for Ravi K Chandran’s cinematography, Omung Kumar’s art direction and Monty’s music, Guzaarish is more than just that.

But the film is not devoid of faults. Bhansali’s films have always been detached from reality and Guzaarish is no different. The film is set is supposed to be set in present day Goa, but it is drastically different from the Goa we have seen on screen so far. His trademark melodrama also seeps in time and again and goes to great heights during a silly group hug in the closing shot, which one can tolerate only because of Hrithik’s great performance. The major issue with the writing is that the audience cannot identify with Ethan’s plea for Euthanasi in spite of all the characters and Ethan himself talking about his pain and suffering several times. Guzaarish begins like a feel good movie which you think would have a very positive ending which would leave you with a smile. But when it actually gets over, one is confused whether he/she should feel happy or sad about what happened in the end. Another aspect is that, the relationship between Ethan and his student Omar is never explored. It had such great potential to be a great influence on Ethan’s life. But it is not developed beyond a point. Bhansali doesn’t show how Ethan passes on his magic tricks to Omar, and conveniently tells us by the end that Omar has learned all of Ethan’s tricks and has become a great magician himself. This angle certainly needed to be developed in a better way, especially when there was a back story of why Omar came to Ethan. In spite of all this, the movie strikes a chord with the audience, and that is the director’s success. The dialogues by Vibhu Puri and Bhavani Iyer are very good.  

Hrithik Roshan gives a mesmerizing performance as Ethan Mascarenhas. Acting out such a part where there is absolutely no scope for body language, since the character is paralyzed, is extremely difficult. And Hrithik has come up trumps by using only his face and dialogue delivery and gives us his second best performance (his best still has to be Jodhaa Akbar). All the awards should come pouring in pretty soon. After the dismal show of his previous film Kites, the actor is back with a stunning performance which only an actor of his calibre can deliver. If there’s one reason which you should watch Guzaarish for, it is Hrithik Roshan.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is very good. This year, there has been an overdose of Aishwarya through Raavan/Raavanan, Enthiran, Action Replayy and now Guzaarish. She looked stunning in Enthiran and Action Replayy, but in Guzaarish, her looks are not that impressive, and she messes it up with some really unwanted (in this movie at least, :P) display of cleavage and the bright red lipstick that she sports in almost all the scenes. Come on, she’s a home nurse, for God’s sake!! If home nurses were to look like Aishwarya Rai, almost all the men in the country would willingly fall ill. Her wonderful chemistry with co-star Hrithik, evident in their earlier films like Dhoom:2 and Jodhaa Akbar is still intact. Watch out for the scene where Hrithik pretends to be aroused and Aishwarya responds to it with some naughty moans. Its an instant classic. Aishwarya’s acting is great, but is completely overshadowed by the absolutely brilliant performance of Shernaz Patel who plays Hrithik’s advocate. Shernaz is excellent as Ethan’s friend and lawyer who has to fight for his death plea in spite of being against it. Aditya Roy Kapoor is impressive in a loosely written role that had so much more potential. Rajit Kapoor, Nafisa Ali and Suhel Seth are good.

Each frame in the movie is a masterpiece. Sudeep Chatterjee, take a bow!! The frames are designed in such a way that they look stunning, no matter what the content of the scene is. The cinematographer and art director along with the costume designer have worked hard to give an amazing look to the film. And unlike Saawariya, the film is not saturated with any colour. Most of the colours are muted and dull, just like Ethan’s world and the only instances where the movie gets colourful are the ones where Ethan is taken out of his mansion. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music was not great when listened to as an independent soundtrack, but when the songs play out in the movie; they work very well for the film. He always had a great taste for music and that has been evident in all his films so far. ‘Tera Zikr’ is the pick of the lot and the beautiful ‘Sau Gram Zindagi’ reflects Ethan’s life. The brilliantly choreographed ‘Udi’ has Aishwarya showing off her dancing skills yet again. But the brilliance of a usual SLB movie soundtrack is sorely missed. The film is credited to four production designers and the effort is definitely shown. The background score is decent.

Bhansali has plagiarized a great plot and made it into a fairly good movie, with some serious faults in the writing department, which the which the master craftsman that he is, managed to camouflage to a certain extent. Picture perfect cinematography, opulent sets, good music, some beautiful moments and most importantly, Hrithik Roshan’s stunning performance make Guzaarish a worthy watch which you wouldn’t regret spending your time on. Definitely one of the better films of the year.

Rating – 3.5/5

Thursday, November 18

You would need a lot of luck to sit through 'Best of Luck'.

Movie – Best Of Luck (Malayalam)
Director – MA Nishad
Cast – Asif Ali, Kailash, Archana Kavi, Rima Kallingal, Urvashi, Prabhu, Suraaj Venjarammoodu, Bheeman Raghu, Jagathy Sreekumar, Baiju and Mammootty.
Music – Palash Sen (Euphoria)
Cinematography – Sanjeev Sankar
Art Direction – Salu K George
Dialogues – Vinu Kiriyath
Screenplay – MA Nishad
Release Date – 17th November 2010.

First things first, Best of Luck is a bad copy of 2009’s superhit Hindi film All The Best, with minor changes in the title and the screenplay. MA Nishad who has made only serious movies till now, takes the easy route of copying a successful Hindi film, just like Happy Husbands did with No Entry. All The Best in itself was inspired from Kamal Haasan’s Kaadhala Kaadhala, which was inspired from an international play. I doubt if any of these people know of this copy called Best of Luck. Starring relative newcomers like Asif, Kailash, Archana and Rima in lead roles, this comedy is not funny for most parts.

Surya (Kailash) is the step brother of a rich businessman from Tamil Nadu Venkiah (Prabhu) and he lives in a huge house with the 3000 Rs pocket money that his brother sends him every month. His prankster friend Manu (Asif) wants to make a movie with megastar Mammootty. A chance encounter with Mammootty helps him get a go-ahead from the superstar, and he starts making plans for making the movie, by mortgaging the papers of Surya’s house to a moneylender called Bhasi (Bheeman Raghu). He also lies to his brother that his wedding is over and he needs money from him. Confusions arise when Venkiah lands in Surya’s house and mistakes Manu’s girlfriend Diya (Rima) to be Surya’s so-called wife Neethu (Archana Kavi). They also hire a cook Thamara (Urvashi) who further adds to the confusions and mayhem.

The Hindi film’s script was perfect for a mad, brainless comedy, which would be entertaining nevertheless. But it is instead converted into a sad, unfunny comedy in Malayalam. Most of the jokes which worked well in Hindi fail miserably in the Malayalam version. The acting is horribly bad, even from veteran actors like Prabhu and Urvashi and that does some more damage. It is sad to see all the actors/characters trying so hard to make us laugh with absolutely no results. Having said that, there are some scenes and situations that are funny, thanks to the Hindi script.

Kailash is very bad – both at comedy and emotions. He needs to go a long way before even attempting such roles. His performance makes Fardeen Khan (who played the same role in Hindi) look like Marlon Brando [:P].  Asif Ali is decent and has good comic timing. He tends to go overboard in a few scenes, but manages to give one of the few good performances in the movie. He suits the part, but is definitely leagues behind Ajay Devgn’s performance in All The Best. Anyways, he is the life of the movie, for almost the entire running length.  Archana Kavi continues her horrible acting from Mummy n Me and her close-ups makes matters even worse. Her dancing is also as horrible as her acting. Its surprising that the same girl was so good in her role in her debut film Neelathamara. (Maybe because she didn’t have to do much in that movie). Rima is okay, compared to Archana, but she also needs to go a long way to be called a good actress. Prabhu is decent in parts and goes the ‘Yenna Kodumai Saravanan’ way during the emotional scenes. Urvashi is completely over-the-top wearing some embarrassing costumes and looks horrible. Her Trivandrum accent gets on your nerves after a point. She manages to deliver a few laughs here and there, but she’s really bad otherwise. Jagathy Sreekumar again proves why he’s the best at what he does, even with a poorly written character. Suraaj Venjarammoodu continues getting on our nerves with his cheap humour (thankfully there was very little vulgarity this time). Bheeman Raghu is genuinely funny and deserves an applause. Baiju also does a good job. Mammootty’s much-hyped guest appearance is just so-so. He does a rope-fight with a weird beard (haha, that rhymed), appears in some shots where he rides a bike, a car and a boat and also shows us shades of his real-life personality in the rest of the scenes. But his incredible screen presence and personality makes us wanting more scenes from him, instead of the mundane and unfunny scenes in the movie.  

Music by Palash Sen from the famous Euphoria band is very bad and something totally unexpected from someone who’s known to create really awesome songs. (Remember the great Maaeri, Dhoom Pichack Dhoom, et al?) None of the songs are worth remembering. Sanjeev Sankar manages to make things look colourful with his vibrant cinematography. Art Direction is over the top. The costumes were good, for a change, except for the ones worn by Urvashi – she looked horrendous in those costumes.

If made well, with a better cast, All The Best, sorry Best of Luck would have been at least something in the range of Happy Husbands in Malayalam. But instead, it turns out to be an embarrassingly unfunny comedy, which makes us feel sorry for the new bunch of actors in the movie. The only good things in this movie are Asif Ali, Bheeman Raghu, Jagathy Sreekumar and the few glimpses of Mammootty. This movie would hardly have any luck at the box office. When you've decided to lift/copy a movie, at least do a good job at that!! 'Best of Luck' to the folks who want to go watch this movie. 


'The Thriller' does not thrill.

Movie - The Thriller (Malayalam)
Director - Unnikrishnan B
Producer - Sabu Cherian 
Cast - Prithviraj, Sampath, Siddique, Lalu Alex, Katherine, Riaz Khan, Subair, P Sreekumar
Music - Dharan
Cinematography - Bharani K Dharan
Editing - Manoj
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Unnikrishnan B
Release Date - 17th November 2010.

The latest release that calls itself 'The Thriller' does everything except thrilling you. The movie follows every cliché of every other police movie made in Malayalam, the only exception being that Prithviraj has replaced Suresh Gopi in the investigating officer's role. And yes, that makes a lot of difference. After trying to go the Mohanlal way in Thanthonni and taking refuge with Mammootty in Pokkiri Raja, Prithviraj steps into Suresh Gopi’s territory through The Thriller. And the result is out there for everyone to see. Suresh Gopi can effortlessly play a police officer’s role even in his sleep, but it is a little disturbing to see Prithviraj trying very hard to do the same.

The movie is allegedly based on the infamous Paul murder case and it also tries to connect the Kochi IPL issues along with it. A young, spoilt rich businessman Simon Palathingal is killed on a highway and conveniently, the young, dashing, honest & idealistic cop DCP Niranjan (Prithviraj) lands on the crime scene just before he dies. The Thriller tracks Niranjan’s investigation of the Simon murder case.

The movie has every cliché of a random Malayalam cop movie in place. Right from the introduction, the face-offs with superiors, the honest cop routines, the retired mentor, the estranged lover, English, innumerable stunt sequences, the surprise in the form of the main villain and of course, the thing inseparable from Malayalam Cinema – the climax fight at the godown. It is all there, the only difference is that the hero who goes through all this is not Suresh Gopi, it is Prithviraj who tries a little too hard. In fact, the movie is so predictable that I could guess the villain (the suspense at the end) in his very second scene.

Prithviraj is okay as DCP Niranjan. But his desperation to become the next superstar is very evident in his performance and the way his character has been portrayed on screen. The long drawn out, over the top fight sequences where everyone keeps flying at the lightest of his touches and all that jazz, are purposefully constructed to portray him as the next big thing. But sadly, it does not work in this movie. He looks great and delivers his lines (especially the English ones) decently. That’s all. The terrific screen presence of somebody like Suresh Gopi, especially in the police uniform, is sorely missed. Sampath is a great actor, and he plays his villain part perfectly. Siddique is always good, and he plays his clichéd character very well yet again. Lalu Alex in another clichéd character is pretty okay. The heroine Katherine Teresa is ugly and does not have a single acting bone (or muscle, whatever). (I heard the previous heroine was replaced coz’ she couldn’t act. Wah!! What a replacement!!). Riaz Khan has his regular job of getting beaten up. The guy who played the murder victim Simon, was unintentionally funny.

This has to be B Unnikrishnan’s worst movie till date. His only good movie so far has been the very clichéd, but entertaining Madambi. And out of the others which include Smart City, IG and Pramani, this has to be his worst. Even IG was mildly interesting since it had Suresh Gopi comfortably playing the honest cop role. The pace is what makes movies of this genre interesting, but The Thriller is a very slow moving boring movie which takes its own sweet time to get to the point. Unnikrishnan’s making, characterizations and narrative style, both as a writer and a director are very dated and clichéd. The only addition is that he has added a half-baked romantic angle between one of the suspects and the officer, which is again, terrible. If he does not change his style for good, there is a high chance that his films will get even worse responses than they are getting now.

Why does a movie that calls itself ‘The Thriller’ have an item song, a hero introduction song and a romantic duet? Usual Malayalam cop movies are interesting because they are paced very well with no speed-breakers in the form of songs. But this movie has a very funny introduction song for the hero, a random item song that pops in for no reason and a terrible romantic duet when the case is progressing. The background score, especially the theme track which is supposed to get our adrenalin rushing each time the hero walks in slow motion, is pathetic here. No effect whatsoever. Cinematography is strictly okay. Art Direction is terrible – the sets in the songs are straight out of the bad movies of 80s. Editing is inconsistent.

The Thriller fails in all deparments. It does not even deserve to be called a Thriller. Prithviraj should understand that superstardom will eventually come to him sooner or later and he need not try so hard to attain it. B Unnikrishnan’s movie-making style needs a drastic makeover soon. And yes, the cop roles are best left to Suresh Gopi – that man was born to play a cop. J

Rating - 2/5

Wednesday, November 17

First Look - Best Actor

Movie - Best Actor (Malayalam)
Director - Martin Prakkat
Producer - Naushad
Cast - Mammootty, Lal, Nedumudi Venu, Salimkumar, Vinayakan, Sreenivasan and others.
Music - Bijibal
Cinematography - Ajayan Vincent
Editing - Don Max
Release - December 2010.

Best Actor is Mammootty's upcoming movie which also marks the debut of fashion photographer Martin Prakkat as a director. The stylishly made movie has Mammootty playing an aspiring actor along with a host of other interesting characters. The movie has music by Bijibal and cinematography by Ajayan Vincent. Mammootty looks deadly and the films gives a very positive vibe from its trailer and stills. Here's wishing all the best to the movie which is releasing in December. 

Tuesday, November 16

First Look - Man Madan Ambu

Movie - Man Madan Ambu (Tamil)
Director - KS Ravikumar
Producer - Udhayanidhi Stalin
Cast - Kamal Haasan, R Madhavan, Trisha, Sangeetha, Usha Uthup, Urvashi, Kunjan & Others.
Music - Devi Sri Prasad
Written by - Kamal Haasan
Release Date - 17th December 2010.

Kamal Haasan's much awaited romantic comedy Manmadhan Ambu is all set to release this December. He teams up with his favourite director KS Ravikumar yet again. They've given blockbusters together like Avvai Shanmughi, Thenali, Panchathanthiram and Dasavathaaram. Kamal and Madhavan come together again after one of the best movies ever made in Tamil Cinema, Anbe Sivam. Trisha, who is on a high after playing Jessie in the acclaimed Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, is cast opposite Kamal Haasan for the first time. Others in the cast include Sangeetha, Usha Uthup, Urvashi and Malayalam actor Kunjan. The hitmaker Devi Sri Prasad has scored the music for the film. Kamal Haasan looks at least 20 years younger and his suave looks remind us of the charmingly handsome Kamal of the 80s and 90s. The romantic comedy is written by him and we can all expect the rollicking Kamal Haasan brand of comedy, after a long time. His last full length comedy was Vasoolraja MBBS in 2004. (Even though Dasavathaaram had an outrageously hilarious Balram Naidu). It is rumoured that Kamal Haasan plays a detective in the film while Trisha plays a film actress. Here are the teaser trailer & the stills from the film. Kamal Haasan fans can expect a treat soon as he is all set to perform live for the songs of the film, during the music launch which is happening in Singapore this week. 

Thursday, November 11

First Look - Elektra

Movie - Elektra (Malayalam)
Director - Shyamaprasad
Producer - Vindhyan
Cast - Nayanthara, Prakash Raj, Manisha Koirala, Skanda, Biju Menon, KPAC Lalitha and others. 
Music - Alphonse
Cinematography - Sanu John Varghese
Release - November 2010

The much awaited movie by Shyamaprasad, Elektra, starring Nayanthara, Prakash Raj, Manisha Koirala, Biju Menon and Skanda will release in the month of November. The movie is also being showcased at the Soorya Film Festival in Thiruvananthapuram and is an official selection for the Indian Panorama at the International Film Festival of India, Goa. The movie marks the debut of noted Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala in Malayalam. Prakash Raj appears in a full length role in Malayalam after his impressive performance in Anwar. Nayanthara also returns to Malayalam after Bodyguard earlier this year. The movie was supposed to star the hugely popular Tamil actor with a Malayali origin, Arya. But he couldnt commit this project and then Skanda was selected to play the same character. Sanu John Varghese, the Malayali cinematographer who made a mark up north with Karthik Calling Karthik has shot the movie and Alphonse has scored the music. The movie has an interesting trailer (Except for the fact that Manisha's dialogues and dubbing look totally out of sync). Here are the trailer and songs from the movie. 

Action Replayy - Theek hai.

Movie - Action Replayy (Hindi)
Director - Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Producer - Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Cast - Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Rannvijay Singh, Neha Dhupia, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, Rajpal Yadav, Randhir Kapoor
Music - Pritam
Cinematography - Sejal Shah
Editing - Amitabh Shukla
Art - Aparna Raina
Screenplay, Dialogues - Suresh Nair, Aatish Kapadia
Release Date - 5th November 2010. 

  • The film begins with a colourful retro-styled title sequence, complete with dhinchak music. Like.
  • One of the earliest scenes has a joke about Mallika Sherawat. Like.
  • Aditya Roy Kapoor is re-introduced (according to the titles) and he does a decent job. But the length and shape of his hair keeps changing throughout the movie. And yea, he wears a Master Yoda T shirt in one of the scenes which I so want to buy. Like. 
  • The storyline is a straight rip-off from Back To The Future. But they credit it to some Gujarati play. Maybe the Gujarati play itself was lifted from Back To The Future. :P Dislike. 
  • The totally dhinchak and awesome song 'Zor Ka Jhatka' is totally misplaced in the film, even before it goes into retro mode and introduces the characters in their true form. Dislike. 
  • The retro effect does not come out anywhere near Om Shanti Om or Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai. They have tried, but have not succeeded completely. It remains just as an over the top attempt to go retro. Dislike.
  • Rajpal Yadav. :) :) :) :) . Like. 
  • Rannvijay Singh is much better than how he was in London Dreams. Like. 
  • Om Puri is always great. Like.
  • Kirron Kher is over the top in a good way. Like. 
  • Akshay Kumar in a hideous wig and with a completely fake buck tooth in the first half. Dislike. 
  • Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is totally hot in her intro song and continues to look hot and beautiful throughout the movie. Like. 
  • Akshay Kumar continues his nerdy act and that irritating laugh from Jaanemann. Manages to be funny in majority of the scenes despite his bad make-up. Like. 
  • Neha Dhupia appears randomly in scenes and songs. Has no dialogues except for a couple of lines in the second half. Looks very pretty and cute. Like. 
  • Randhir Kapoor as the nutty professor who invents a silly looking time machine. And he's named Anthony Gonzalves. Dislike. 
  • The'Oh Bekhabar' song which has Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who looks gorgeous even at 37 (or is it 39?). Like. 
  • The pathetic quality of all the other songs while there was ample scope for a chartbuster soundtrack. Pritam - Fail. (Except for Zor Ka Jhatka & Oh Bekhabar). Dislike. 
  • Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, apart from looking good, also manages to reflect her own self in a role that suits her perfectly. :P Like. 
  • Akshay Kumar after the make-over, even though the wig is still terrible. In top form. Like.
  • Aawaaz Neeche!! And the entire audience repeating it with Akshay each time he says it in the movie. Double Like. 
  • The screenplay takes a shamelessly convenient and predictable route throughout the movie, just like the team's previous movie London Dreams. If things happened so easily like in this movie, life would be so much better. Dislike. 
  • I didnt get the joke about Kundan Lal (Rannvijay) singing in two voices and being signed by some Mahesh Kumar, which everyone seems to like. Dunno whether to Like or Dislike. :|
  • They had such a wonderful opportunity to recreate the madness of Padosan since they had a very similar situation where Aditya was singing and Akshay was lip-syncing. But they do that also very conveniently, with no connection or reference to the style followed in Padosan. Dislike. 
  • A Hum Kisise Kum Nahin- like singing competition. Great opportunity, totally destroyed with some terrible songs. And again, no reference to that film, despite being influenced by it. Dislike. 
  • One more joke about Mallika Sherawat. Like.
  • The funny chase sequence towards the climax with almost the entire cast. Like. 
  • The half-decent 'Tera Mera Pyar' song, shot well, and has Karthik's vocals. Like. 
  • The broken Time Machine is repaired without any explanation whatsoever. Dislike. 
  • The girl who played Tanya. Dislike. 
  • Cinematography is quite good. The entire film is vibrant and colourful. 
  • The over the top art direction and costumes. Retro look didnt work out. Dislike.
  • Background Score is quite decent. With some straight lifts from Johnny Gaddaar. Its Pritam. Thats expected. Like. 
  • The crowd at Sridar whom I watched the movie with. The atmosphere in there was great and thats a major reason why I could have fun while watching this movie. Like. 

So, as you can see, there are more things I liked about Action Replayy than the things I didnt like about it. I expected a terrible movie after reading the initial reviews. But the movie is much better than Akshay Kumar's recent movies. Its nowhere near Vipul Shah's earlier movies. But still, its a timepass watch, which bored and masala-loving souls like me can enjoy. The film worked for me because of Akshay, Aishwarya, Rajpal Yadav and some good jokes. It could have been a wonderful throwback to the 70s, but the retro effect doesnt work that well. The plot is obviously inspired from Back To The Future but its nowhere as good as the original. But still, the movie is fun as long as it lasts, if you know that you shouldnt be expecting logic and consistency in a movie like this. 

Rating - 3/5