Thursday, July 22, 2010

Surya and Joe's Son name

Suriya and Jyothika’s new born son has been named! The naming ceremony was a very private affair with only family and close friends attending it. When everyone was expecting the couple to name their son that means light or brightness, they have named him Dev.

It may be recalled that when the actor was questioned about when he would name his son, he had replied their family would consult their astrologer and name him on an auspicious day. With the naming ceremony taking place after a month of Dev’s birth, it indicates that Suriya and family had indeed been waiting for an auspicious day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

kareena to gain more weight for her next film

If reports are to be believed, Kareena Kapoor may soon go back to her size zero image. The actress has been signed up by Karan Johar for the film Short Term Shaadi. With this film, the lady will pair up with Imran Khan for the first time.

Sources in Bollywood say that Karan had asked Kareena to lose weight in order to fit the role she plays. Ironically, the actress was keen on putting on more weight as her partner Saif Ali Khan insisted on it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Abi - Kat for Dostana-2

Abhishek Bachchan and Katrina Kaif will be pairing up for not just one but three films. The duo had starred in Sarkar together about five years ago. The three films that they have signed up together are Tarun Mansukhani’s Dostana 2, Abbas-Mustan’s Italian Job and a Vipul Shah film.

Katrina, who is currently at the Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara shooting, will be available for the Dostana 2 shooting early next month, say sources.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Trisha not available for promos

It is common knowledge that film promos mean a lot in Bollywood as it is considered to be essential for a film’s success at the box office. Even Trisha had once said that she is awed by the way a film is promoted in Bollywood.

However, Akshay Kumar and Priyadarshan are reportedly not happy with the actress because she is not available for the film’s promos. The lady is currently stationed in Europe, where she is participating in the Kamal Haasan starrer Manmadhan Ambu and hence could not make it to the promos.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inception Film Review

The relationship between movies and dreams has always been — to borrow a term from psychoanalysis — over determined. From its first flickerings around the time Freud was working on The Interpretation of Dreams, cinema seemed to replicate the uncanny, image-making power of the mind, much as still photography had in the decades before.

And over the course of the 20th century, cinema provided a vast, perpetually replenishing reservoir of raw material for the fantasies of millions of people.

Freud believed that dreams were compounded out of the primal matter of the unconscious and the prosaic events of daily life. If he were writing now, he would have to acknowledge that they are also, for many of us, made out of movies.

And movies, more often than not these days, are made out of other movies. Inception, Christopher Nolan’s visually arresting, noir-tinged caper, is as packed with allusions and citations as a film studies term paper.

Admirers of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 will find themselves in good company, though Inception does not come close to matching the impact of those durable cult objects. It trades in crafty puzzles rather than profound mysteries, and gestures in the direction of mighty philosophical questions that

Nolan is finally too tactful, too timid or perhaps just too busy to engage.

So Inception is not necessarily the kind of experience you would take to your next shrink appointment. It is more like a diverting reverie than a primal nightmare, something to be mused over rather than analysed, something you may forget as soon as it’s over.

Which is to say that the time — nearly two and a half hours — passes quickly and for the most part pleasantly, and that you see some things that are pretty amazing, and amazingly pretty: cities that fold in on themselves like pulsing, three-dimensional maps; chases and fights that defy the laws that usually govern space, time and motion; Marion Cotillard’s face.

Cotillard, her most famous movie role evoked by occasional eruptions of Édith Piaf on the La Vie en Rose soundtrack, is the film’s principal enigma and its chief signifier of emotion.

She is not, however, exactly a character in Inception. Rather, at least as far as a first-time viewer can guess, she is a projection in the subconscious of her husband, a specialist in corporate mental espionage known as Cobb and played by Leonardo DiCaprio with some of the same twitchy melancholy he brought to Shutter Island.

To say too much about their marriage would be to risk compromising some of the pleasures of discovery tucked into a carefully crosshatched, multilayered story.

Better to explain what Cobb does for a living, since that exhaustive enumeration of the metaphysical rules of his profession occupies an awful lot of the dialogue in Nolan’s script.

Using a combination of drugs, wires and other vaguely Matrix-y methods, Cobb and his co-workers penetrate the minds of their slumbering targets, usually for the purpose of extracting hidden information.

But a wealthy client named Saito (Ken Watanabe) induces them to try the much more difficult trick known as inception, which involves planting an idea in someone else’s mind that will bear fruit in the real world. “That’s impossible!” more than one person has occasion to exclaim.

In any case, Cobb and his team are trying to induce a young man (Cillian Murphy), whose father (Pete Postlethwaite) is a business rival of Saito’s, to break up the company he is about to inherit.

This bit of commercial intrigue provides the fairly banal material foundation on which Nolan’s phantasmagorical world is built. The pursuit of competitive advantage by well-dressed, emotionless men is hardly the stuff that dreams are made of, Humphrey Bogart’s observations at the end of The Maltese Falcon notwithstanding.

And the content of those dreams, once Cobb and company have dropped into their mark’s sleeping mind, is often curiously pedestrian.

Most of the time, one group of guys with guns chases another, in cars across the rain-soaked streets of Los Angeles, on foot through the corridors of a retro-elegant hotel, and on skis and snowmobiles through an icy Alpine landscape from which James Bond might recently have departed.

A lot of this is — what is the critical term of art I’m looking for? — pretty cool. And the heist-movie cast of mind-cracking technicians is also cool.

Dileep Rao is the shaggy, anxious nerdy one. Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a pair of wisecracking specialists in something-or-another, and Ellen Page is the architect. This means that she designs the physical environments in which the dreams take place, and also that, like a precocious sophomore in a graduate seminar, asks the right questions and spells out the obvious connections.

She also notices that Cobb’s personal issues are clouding his ability to work, and putting the rest of them at a vaguely defined but serious risk — a graver danger than just waking up. (The conceit that they’re all dreaming takes some of the edge off the movie’s violence, since it’s hard to grieve for extras who are just “projections” in some else’s mental theater. On the other hand, that is pretty much what all movie characters are. This is what I meant by overdetermined.)

Cobb, whose life depends on suppressing emotions and memories that he cannot control, is thus a typical Christopher Nolan hero.

His air of guilt and sorrow — the sense of unfinished psychic business pushing against his conscious intentions — marks his kinship with Christian Bale’s Batman, with the detective played by Al Pacino in Insomnia and with the anguished amnesiac played by Guy Pearce in Memento.

DiCaprio exercises impressive control in portraying a man on the verge of losing his grip, but Nolan has not, in the end, given Cobb a rich enough inner life to sustain the performance.

The accomplishments of Inception are mainly technical, which is faint praise only if you insist on expecting something more from commercial entertainment.

That audiences do — and should — expect more is partly, I suspect, what has inspired some of the feverish early notices hailing “Inception” as a masterpiece, just as the desire for a certifiably great superhero movie led to the wild overrating of The Dark Knight.

In both cases Nolan’s virtuosity as a conjurer of brilliant scenes and stunning set pieces, along with his ability to invest grandeur and novelty into conventional themes, have fostered the illusion that he is some kind of visionary.

But though there is a lot to see in Inception, there is nothing that counts as genuine vision. Nolan’s idea of the mind is too literal, too logical, too rule-bound to allow the full measure of madness — the risk of real confusion, of delirium, of ineffable ambiguity — that this subject requires.

The unconscious, as Freud (and Hitchcock, and a lot of other great filmmakers) knew, is a supremely unruly place, a maze of inadmissible desires, scrambled secrets, jokes and fears.

If Nolan can’t quite reach this place, that may be because his access is blocked by the very medium he deploys with such skill.

And the limitations of Inception may suggest the limits not only of this very talented director, but also of his chosen art form at this moment in its history. Our dreams feed the movies.

The movies feed our dreams. But somehow, our imaginations are still hungry.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Udaan Film Review

In 1959 in France, a teenage boy ran away from a juvenile home. That moment in 400 Blows was symbolic for French cinema, as with it they left the baggage of cliché behind and embraced a new, youthful vibrancy that would change cinema of the World.

Fifty years later, Hindi cinema finds itself just at that moment of epiphany with this year's, perhaps even this decade's best Hindi film, in Udaan. Will Hindi cinema hold on to the wings of this film and take flight?

Rohan is just another 'average' kid, rebellious and dreamer. After being expelled from boarding school, he has to live with his authoritarian, oppressive father in the steel town of Jamshedpur. It is obvious that the apple has fallen as far from the tree as it is possible.

The father runs a small steel plant and wants his son to be an engineer and enjoys defeating him in running, while the son sits on railway tracks, under a tree, by the bed of a river, composing poetry. Senior Singh cannot digest the fact that his son dreams of being a writer. So he makes his rules clear to both Rohan and his young step-brother Arjun.

Rohan rebels in his own little ways, but has to concede to his fathers demands. When he comes to know that the reason for his step-brother's hospitalisation is because of a beating from his father, he seethes with rage, but can do nothing.

Yet, in the end you cannot hold a rebellious spirit down and Rohan breaks free from his shackles.

Udaan will not only resonate with those who had a troubled childhood, but with anyone who has faced oppression, or ever nurtured dreams. The film is an analogy of life and of a nation's social ethos.

Another film that came out earlier this year Leaving Home, a documentary about the band Indian Ocean, resonated with the same middle-class aspiration that Udaan dabbles with. There too the band members detail how they had had to fight their own parents and the system to become artists.

The cast gives a stellar performance.

Rajat Barmecha as Rohan is a precious find, while Ronit Roy as his father reminds you of another super-villain of world cinema, nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Looking at his maturely restrained performance, you wonder what he is doing wasting time overacting for television.

Yet, the winner is director Vikramaditya Motwane. Like Francois Truffaut with 400 Blows, his is also a delectable, beautiful debut. And like Truffaut himself, he too had been a rebel with the film being a veiled biography.

Hence, in the end, when Rohan outruns his father, you cannot help but celebrate, and like 400 Blows did, you only wish Bollywood too comes out of the shackles of its own clichés and open its arms to directors like Motwane.

If nothing, the fact that even after seven months Bollywood has not had a single hit in 2010 should be sign enough for them to adopt the much needed newness.

Perhaps it is too much to expect. But then, all the best things in the world exist because of these individual rebellions, from people who have run away from conventions to create their own dreans.

Udaan is both a celebration and a triumph of that spirit rebellious.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Neetu chandra with Baton

Actress Neetu Chandra became one of the few privileged Bollywood celebrities to have the honour of running with Commonwealth Games torch, in her hometown Patna this week.

Neetu was selected for the relay, popularly known as 'Queen's Baton' relay, owing to her active association in sports.

Apart from being a regular basketball player, the actress is a Black Belt 2nd Dan, having participated in various martial arts tournaments at national and International level.

"The Commonwealth Games promote international integration, so it was a huge honour for me to sprint with the torch. I got goose bumps in excitement," Neetu said after the run.

"The Queen's Baton felt like a power baton and gave me a different kind of high. It was a mix of pride and responsibility," she added.

The baton will arrive at the 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on October 3, 2010 in New Delhi after having visited the other 70 nations of the Commonwealth and
travelling throughout India, reaching millions of people to join in the celebrations for the Games.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Madharasapattinam Film Review

Get ready to be transported back into Madras. The makers have promised a trip from Chennai to Madharasapattinam and that is exactly what has been delivered through this movie. But, is it just a trip back in time or is there more to look forward to? Before we begin analyzing Madharasapattinam for what it is, let us lay down
lines that quite clearly define what it is not. Any movie set in the pre-independence era carries the expectations of portraying the freedom struggle. Madharasapattinam makes little or no attempts to get into that. Yes, the events of the freedom struggle and subsequent achievement of independence from British rule are important events that have a bearing on the story. But, those events have not been shown in detail, nor have any of the legendary names associated with the freedom been depicted. So, Madharasapattinam is not a documentation of the freedom struggle and events associated with it. Then what is it?

It is a love story set against the backdrop of India that is on the verge of independence. A young British lady (Amy Jackson) is visiting India. She is from a family that is well connected to the highest echelons of power in the Madras presidency. As it is, tensions are brewing between the British and Indians all over the country. That rubs off on a small washer man community in Madras who stand in the way of the powerful British personnel when they attempt to evict them from their place. It hurts the ego of a highly placed British officer who challenges a young dhobi (Arya) for a one-on-one which would decide the fate of the place. The British lady happens to be a silent spectator to all that transpires between the British and the dhobi community; she notices the young man who has the courage to stand up to a mighty force. Soon, she finds herself attracted to this man who also seems to be reciprocating those feelings. But, the proximity between the two does not escape the eyes of the power hierarchy who look down upon the relation as a disgrace to the family and the empire. With freedom fast approaching and the British getting ready to leave the country, time is running out for the couple who have to make a decision between love and country. What happens to the love story that faces the wrath of mighty empire whose ego has been badly bruised by the freedom struggle? Watch Madharasapattinam to find out.

The storyline and the events might sound a bit familiar to you. Yes, there are points in the movie where one is able to draw parallels to other great movies. The opening portions remind us of Titanic, while the challenge thrown by the British at the dhobi community gives us a Lagaan feel. But, in spite of all this, Madharasapattinam has a unique identity and the reason for that is in the title of the film itself - Madras. That is the single biggest highlight of the movie.

Full marks to the team of Madharasapattinam for recreating Madras, which existed only in photos, history books and minds of people who lived during that era. Though most of us do not have a very clear idea about how Madras would have looked like before 1947, the picturisation is good enough to convince us that this is an authentic representation. First on the order of merit for making this possible is the art department headed by Selva Kumar. We are taken to a Mount Road (not Anna Salai) that is not overflowing with traffic, the old Washermanpet, the haloed building of the Madras Central and the Buckingham Canal which once was the backbone of a very efficient drainage system of the city. We are even shown a Cooum that is not filthy; which is hard to imagine, considering the state of the river these days. All sets are exquisitely constructed and look very original. Hordes of junior artistes have been employed in proper period attire to add to the authentic feel. What is provided by the art department in terms of magnificent sets has been enhanced into a wonderful on screen experience through Nirav Shah’s lens. The cinematographer is in top form capturing Madras in all its glory. The tone adopted to give a period theme is apt.

Other technical aspects of Madharasapattianam also a delight, especially G.V. Prakash’s background music. The small touches that he has provided, especially when the love between the lead couple begins to bloom, are wonderful. The songs too are a treat, especially ‘Vaama Dorayamma’ and ‘Aaruyire’. Though there is a feeling that adding a few western pieces here and there would have made it even more perfect for the movie. Costumes of the entire cast are almost perfect, especially Amy Jackson’s.

Performances are a real delight in Madharasapattinam. The one who walks away with the top honors is Amy Jackson for a beautiful portrayal of a lady torn between her love and the mighty empire. She looks absolutely beautiful, emotes well through her expressive eyes and is able to earn the sympathy of the audiences during tough times. Arya is perfect for the character of the dhobi who is also a wrestler. He is intense, manly, yet soft and romantic when it is required. A convincing performance. The rest of the cast too is spot on in delivering the goods. The British cast looks convincing as the colonial power. VMC Haneefa delights as the dubashi (translator) lending many moments of fun as he plays around with languages that he does not know. Nasser brings power and intensity to the character that he portrays. The lady who portrays the aged Amy Jackson, through whose memory the story is told, also impresses a great deal

While there are positives aplenty for Madharasapattinam, there are one or two aspects that could have been better. The dialogues do not seem to be the kind that would have been spoken before 1947, the lines look very contemporary, especially the Tamil dialogues. One can overlook this in a commercial film. Using the proper 1940s Madras Tamil could have worked either way for the movie. There are quite a few English dialogues (understandably), but they do not look like an inconvenience or act as a barrier between the film and the audiences; the subtitles have been done well.

Overall, Madharasapattinam is a film that takes you back in time and shows you a Madras that exists only in photos and memory. Hats off to the entire team for making this possible and kudos to Vijay for heading this team and pulling off the huge task. Also thanks to AGS Films for taking up such a subject which would have definitely cost a lot. Madharasapattinam is a pretty often seen love story where poor boy meets rich girl, much to the angst of the family. But, it is the backdrop and the treatment that make it a different experience. Watch Madharasapattinam for some great art work, cinematography, performances and to appreciate an effort that is a rare occurrence in Tamil cinema. But, do not look for a documentation of the freedom struggle and other historical milestones. Just enjoy the trip from Chennai to Madharasapattinam

Verdict: Enjoyable trip to Madras Presidency!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Milenge Milenge Film Review

If only the world hadn’t drooled upon the Zero figure of Kareena, if only Kareena and Shahid hadn’t grown into such brilliant performers in the past few years, if only we all have not been accustomed to all those Vishals, Dibakars and Anurags and most of all, if only Shahid and Kareena hadn’t broke up, this attempt at remaking
the John Cusak starrer ‘Serendipity’ by the remake king - Satish Kaushik would have had few more chances of increasing its first week collections by a tiny margin. But this long delayed movie may have looked quite an interesting watch due to the cool posters but is as dated as Kareena’s flab.

The story is about Kareena waiting for Mr. Right, Shahid Kapoor posing to be Mr. Right falls in love with Kareena. Shahid becomes Mr. Right but its too late, Kareena is long gone leaving away a trail – a fifty rupee note with Shahid’s name and phone number and Kareena’s name and phone number in a book which is being passed on from one old book stall to another. And now it’s left to Destiny (read - the Director) to reunite them. Can it?

Satish Kaushik, a brilliant actor, is not an accomplished filmmaker by any standards. He has found few successes but the success rate ratio is pretty low. And this one too is a losing venture from the very first frame. The story is outdated, acting – overdone, comedy – crass, screenplay – lackluster. And when I sit and wonder about the plusses and minuses of this movie, there seems to be dominance of the latter as I hardly could come up with one or two in the former side. So the Satish Kaushik’s cameo and the rare glimpse of Aarti Chabbaria’s sexy body seemed to be the only plusses and the rest (which is almost 97% of the movie) is forgettable.

Kareena Kapoor looks dead throughout the movie; she looks uninterested from the second reel. Shahid looks fresh but overacts in almost all the scenes. Delnaz Paul is her usual quirky overacting self, Satish Shah and Kiron Kher has only one emotion throughout - the first being happy and cheerful and the second giving a mysterious smile. Satish Kaushik does a cameo effectively; Aarti looks hot but has no role.

Technically, the movie looks as old as floppy drives, S Sriram’s cinematography may have looked good if the movie had released three years ago as it was supposed to, and the same can be said about the rest of the crew too. Himesh comes up with a real bad score with not even a single song is hummable or presented well.

Overall, Boney Kapoor, not even in the wildest of imagination, would have thought Shahid and Kareena would break up as due to that the movie had been in the cans for quite a long time. And the producer would have just expected that both will surely Milenge Milenge, if only life can also be controlled by Satish!

Verdict: Outdated beyond belief

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I hate love stories Film Review

Well, Its Dharma Productions and the marketing campaign had been spot on. But somehow I started getting a bad feeling about the movie; I thought this movie would go in the similar cliché fashion as many other Bollywood blockbusters. A critic going inside the theatre with a preconceived notion or expectation might have been considered a crime but for a person who sees at-least 300+ movies a year its much better to have such expectation games to feel active and fresh every single time we enter the theatre dome. Was it cliché ridden? Yes, was it a bad movie? That’s a definite no.

The pleasant surprise came in the first reel itself when the hero narrates why he hates love stories having a particular cliché. And all over the movie it has several satire's and spoof on such movies but at the end of it all by having all the cliché added in a different way the director wants to state that such reel cliché can actually happen in real life.

Jai (Imran) is the assistant director to one of the most successful romantic directors in India, Veer (Sameer Soni). But unfortunately Jai hates love stories reel or real and especially movies of Veer, but he needs to be there for he wants to become a director. The work place is filled with people who loves fantasizing and loving each and every single cliché Veer comes up with and to top it all the new art director the young and beautiful Simran (Sonam) idolizes Veer's movies. Simran wants to be in such a fairy tale life only to be turned topsy turvy by Jai. Simran who has a perfect love life with Sameer Dattani slowly falls for the care-free, independent and Casanova or in short term, imperfect Jai. But Jai Hates love stories and never ever wants to be in one. Can Jai fall in love with Simran? But this film being what it is, can it be any other way?

For most parts the movie seemed to be a parody of the cliché and that makes the movie a complete fun to watch. The movie had an under-base of comedy and it has worked well for the movie. The movie does move quite slow in the first half and doesn't quite shift gears in the second but still overall you do come out of the theatres with a smile on your face and the first timer- Punit Malhotra should be patted on the back just for that. A non-melodramatic rom-com which is sure to be lapped up by the youngsters. All the scenes of the sarcastic mother of Imran are a laugh worthy. There are loads of continuation problem though, how can Imran's Mother in Delhi be having a lunch get-together when Imran is in Mumbai taking a night flight? So much of a time difference between Delhi and Mumbai? Well, Its Bollywood for crying out aloud, anything is possible.

Imran is cute but somehow he is just not right for emotional or romantic roles. He just couldn't pull it off but as a Casanova he carries off the comic lines with exquisite timing. Sonam Kapoor is not a great actor herself, but she has improved quite a lot from her Saawariya days. Her laugh looks artificial and her dialogue delivery forced but she is pretty convincing as a dreamer and looks ravishing in modern wear. Even though their acting prowess is highly debatable Sonam and Imran Jodi clicks as they posses a powerful chemistry. A chemistry which was electrifying! Anju Mahendru as Imran's mother was brilliant, unlike any Bollywood movie's before(not that I can remember of) she is the sarcastic kinds and she kindles the love inside Imran which makes all the difference and so is the very cute and lovable Kavin Dave(The sprite guy) who makes you smile whenever he comes on screen. Sameer Soni as Veer is brilliant as the eccentric and vibrant celebrity director. The rest of the crew is just about fine.

Technically the movie looks as rich and sophisticated as any Dharma Production with an exceptional contribution behind the camera by T. Ayananka Bose. The editing looks neat with no major glitches. The soundtrack is young and vibrant and who else could have made it this trendy than the talented young duo Vishal-Shekar? Salim Sullaiman's background worked quite well with the mood of the movie. Art direction was brilliant as well. Dialogue written by Punit himself is the high-point of the movie. Costumes by Manish work wonders for the movie too.

Overall it’s the same old wine in a bottle which states the fact quite clearly that it is the old wine over and over again. The movie would have fallen flat if not for the quirky and brilliantly penned dialogues, scintillating chemistry from the lead and some amazing tunes by music wiz duo. Go for it with an open mind and come out smiling.

Verdict: A perfect Valentine's Day movie. Go for it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kalavani Film Review

It’s hard to expect anything dramatic or even plain different from a movie that has no popular credentials to back it up. Give those preconceived notions the elbow since unpredictability is the essence of life. Kalavani an Indie movie, despite its unsophisticated title, comes across as a whiff of fresh air and stands apart from the other small timers for not having taken itself seriously.

The basic issue with small time movies is that they want to make a quick buck and hence come across as shoddy and despicable. What’s so different about Kalavani is that the movie is so light hearted and the cheerfulness is infectious. It unfolds and folds in the manner of a delightful short story.

Vimalraj (the grubby Meenakshi Sundaram from Pasanga) is the ill-behaved son of the gullible Saranya and her husband Ilavarasu. Vimalraj’s financial needs are met by his susceptible mother, whom he either hoodwinks or intimidates to fulfill his frequent needs to gamble or hang out with his friends. He pushes the boat out and spends his time whiling away, aided by his friends. In the course of the time, he also spots a girl and falls in love with her – much to the despair of her brother who nurses a rivalry against him.

But he dares those boundaries and abducts the girl, eventually marrying her. The brother, however, is still fuming with rage and is out to slice him into pieces. But does he do that? And if he didn’t, how did Vimal manage to avert that? All this is answered in an interesting climax that is pleasantly humorous.

For Vimalraj, this role is just a reprisal of his Pasanga chapter and he does it with ease. Saranya is impeccable as ever and Ilavarasu, as the dutiful father, deserves a mention too. Ganja Karuppu’s comical interludes save the movie from sagging in the first half.

Kalavani, thankfully, has no blood and gore. Although the director has been successful in bringing a remote village in Tanjore to the screen, the dialect takes a beating. It appears butchered and city dwellers will have a hard time deciphering the dialogues. But the cinematography more than makes it up for that.

S S Kumaran’s rerecording passes with average marks and a couple of songs, shot neatly, also manage to pull it off. Direction Sargunam’s Kalavani might not be an awesome piece of work, but the movie manages to stand apart from its contemporary Indie ventures for its sheer lack of pretentiousness. The movie is, therefore, guileless and an attempt to watch it will not ruin your weekend plans.

Verdict: Periya Pasanga!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thittakudi Film Review

At one side, we have movies that take Tamil cinema to the next league with world class potential and at the other, there are such movies that even describing them would make one cringe. Director Suntharan’s Thittakudi is one of those B graders simply made to add credit points to the director’s profile and to make the producer Siva Kogul Raj’s finances dwindle.

Set in the Thittakudi town, the movie follows the life of a waywardly young man (played by Ravi) who decides to take life in his hands in the absence of proper guidance. He makes merry, sleeps with every single willing woman, drinks and gambles and falls in love - or pretends to. And the poor girl (Asvatha) who falls for him loses her virginity, after which she is abandoned by him.

The villagers’ attempt to bring the two together fails miserably and the girl gets married to another hopeless bloke. Now Ravi becomes destitute and seeks penance for having deserted the love of his life.

It’s not only that the director has included many obnoxious scenes in the movie; in the name of twists he has packed it with malicious content. Although there was no justification for those scenes, the fact that he used such scenes makes a huge difference to the movie’s social standing.

You don’t tend to remember any of the performances by the end of the movie, no matter how emotionally dramatic the scenes were. Mainly because Thittakudi has no heart in its right place and comes across as rather hollow.

Director Suntharan probably wanted to give some sort of social message with his movie but the way he scripted the screenplay, the movie sounds more like a wannabe sensationalist. If loose morals that make people lose their minds and do pretty awful things do not count for sensationalism, what else will?

Verdict: Stay far, far away

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Veluthukattu Film Review

As much as we are stuck with the song-and-dance routine in our movies, there are a few recurring themes those can just not simply be done away with. Veluthu kattu, produced by S A Chandrasekhar and directed by Senapathy Magan, deals with exactly one of those themes: it’s Amman Koil Kilakaale meets Kilakke Pogum Rail.

Veluthu kattu revolves around a puppy love that develops into something big, parental pressure against the couple’s marriage and their need to prove themselves to win their parents approval. All this happens after two jail sentences imposed on each of the lead and their wait for each other until the sentence is over. So filmy indeed!

Debutant Kathir plays a hopeless and cantankerous guy whose short temper almost costs him his love. Kathir slacks in his studies and ends up being a no-gooder. Arundathi is his childhood sweetheart whose parents refuse to get her married off to Kathir for obvious reasons. Kathir is in a need to prove himself and upon Arundathi’s insistence, goes to Chennai in search of greener pastures. He befriends another girl, secures a big fat loan, gets into a restaurant business (as simple as that indeed!) and makes big money.

But all is not well with Arundathi, who is forcefully married to another man in Kathir’s absence. Arundathi does not take it lightly and hacks her husband to death. This eventually sends her to the prison. Now what will happen of Kathir? Will he wait till she returns?

With a storyline like that, the movie could have fit anywhere between the 70s and the late 80s. But blame our stars; we stand witness to a melodramatic and twisted tale of women falling for men who are supposedly good at heart but still good for nothing other than wooing them. Time and again! And it’s not only a singled out case. We are a jinxed audience and the director probably thinks this is what we deserve.

There is lots of scope for Kathir to improve in terms of performance and everything while Arundathi can shine in the hands of an able director and a good role. The movie, as such, wallows in melodrama so much that you stop caring for its actors; and most of it seems forced as well.

In the otherwise dismal state of affairs, the songs are just above passable in Bharani’s music. Director Senapathy Magan might want to do a reality check as to how life is lived in villages. For one, girls from the villages are not naïve enough to squander their lives for unreasonable and foolish men. It’s mortifying even to think!

Verdict: Amman Koil Kilakaale meets Kilakke Pogum Rail!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Raavanan vs Raavan

For years now Mani Ratnam has never been able to create a movie in the league of Nayagan, Iruvar, Anjali or Kannathil. With Raavanan (with the *an*), he has created a masterpiece which can stake claim as one of his best Tamil films ever. Raavan (without the *an*) is good, but unfortunately Abhishek had to be pitted against Vikram and this is a no contest.

Unlike what most reviews say, Raavanan is not to show how Vikram is a Robin Hood or the gray in his character. Its a typical Mani Ratnam movie where the audience effortlessly falls in love with the anti-hero (more effortlessly with every film of his - from the detailed story in Nayagan to not so detailed in Dalapathy to more and more crisp editing in Dil Se and Guru).

Also, unlike what most reviews say, Raavanan is anything but slow - It shows editing at its best and crispiest - The Prithviraj - Ash romance in one song, the Naxal theme in one song, Vikram’s character in a couple of frames and Vikram falling in love in one brilliantly choreographed song which is poetry in modern frames! The editing is so taut that it’s easy to miss a dialogue or a connection to the epic - Hanuman, Vibheeshan, Kumbhakarna, Jatayu. Blink and you miss a scene where Ash gets out of the train and waits for Prithviraj. Turn away and you miss the human side of Vikram falling in love with Ash.

This is one movie where Mani Ratnam has deliberately left a lot of ambiguities. What does Sita go back for? What happens after the end? Who does she love, or does she love Raavanan at all? Who is Raavanan - A brilliant psycho? Millions of voices ringing in his head? Is the movie about Good Vs Evil, about how love destroys, about the captive and captor? Or is it about the Naxals? Or a bit of everything? Or is it a simple love story? Is Prithviraj involved in the Shurpanaka incident? Is he just a righteous cop who'll do anything for justice? Was Ash imagining Vikram falling on her and getting close to her, like the other dream sequences?

There’s no point talking about the brilliantly backlit frames, excellent music or the sets or the cinematography - These are all taken for granted in a Mani Ratnam movie. As are good acting performances from the side cast, especially Priyamani, Prabhu, Karthik and Ravi Kishen.

Finally, the point which most reviewers have missed. Ash's performance - The best by any adult heroine in a Mani Ratnam film (along with maybe Manisha in Bombay), and the best by any heroine in recent times.

And Raavanan Vs Raavan - Raavan is by far better than any of the mindless stuff which comes out of Bollywood these days. And Abhishek doesn't have a good PR manager like that fellow who played Arjun in Rajneeti :) Abhi isn't as good as Vikram, but by any standards an Abhishek performance in a Mani Ratnam film is better than any other peer - Ranbir, Imran Khan etc.

Mani Ratnam is way ahead of his time in filmmaking. He defines moviemaking style in India in terms of camerawork, choreography, music and themes. Nayagan came in years before Company and Sarkar or any Mafia movie in India. Look at Mammootty and Rajnikanth in Dalapathy versus Manoj Bajpai and Ajay Devgn in Raajneeti. Dil Se was way ahead of its time. When Yuva was released, Bollywood was still caught in the traditional fare. Now, six years after Yuva we have mainstream films which are not typical love stories. So we need to wait for a few years for critics to applaud Raavan (without the *an* - that’s already a masterpiece) as a path breaking movie. Haven’t we waited years for critics to say Iruvar, Dil Se and Yuva were good movies after they were ripped apart when they were launched?

Finally - Which other director in India would have the guts to present Ram as the villain and Raavan as the hero?

Raavan makes you think. It requires you to keep up with its breakneck speed. Not a simple movie like Guru, which is why it has flopped.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A letter to Priyamani

The more I look into Raavanan, the movie, the more I admire you for the excellent actor you are Priyamani

To say you were very good as Vennila would be an under statement. Your portrayal as Vennila went beyond my expectation.

We see how much faith the director had in you to have depended on your face and voice, to relate the story of the horrible thing happened to Vennila.

I was struck with an odd feeling when I saw this scene because I think this is the first for our cinema to enact a delicate scene like this, with an unbearable calmness, through the victim and her voice. The director needs to have tremendous confidence in himself and with the actor, you Priyamani. Fantastic.

What is amazing is that the director and the actor came together brilliantly in this scene, to bring out Vennila's pain in a simple narration. But I do not see them. I only see Vennila, who has to repeat what had occurred to her, in spite of the mental and physical pain, she was going through. It really touched my soul Priyamani. Thanks to you, it was educational.

Calmness you emoted, which comes to a person after (a good cry) a devastating trauma and the voice modulation you lend to Vennila for the narration and the body language (movements or lack of it) everything is brilliant. I never thought a scene this delicate can unfold in this manner.

Vennila had to talk about such a sensitive issue out loud, and that too to her brother she respects and loves. She is worried for her brother and for herself also, because she might not be able to handle it, if he gets angry and shouts or goes after them in rage. Brother instead goes into pieces. He was so helpless that he feels the entire world on his shoulders. Director and Veera are amazing here.

Vennila will live in our hearts for a long time to come. Congrats Priyamani and best wishes for all your endeavors in the present and in the future..

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Akshara Ready to make the mark

"I have put 110 per cent in ‘Khatta Meetha’ and can't wait for July 23 when the film releases," says Trisha, who is making her Bollywood debut with the Priyadarshan-directed movie, which has Akshay Kumar as the leading man.

The actress, who is currently shooting with Kamal Haasan in France for 'Manmadhan Ambu', says, "My role in ‘Khatta Meetha’ was meaty and everything was just so perfect. Everything just happened over a 10 minutes phone call, all thanks to Priyan."

On things she expects from her Bollywood venture, Trisha says, "I am looking forward to more acceptance and appreciation. I am very much interested to see how people from south, from where I belong, react to it."

Excited about working with Kamal, she says, "What a man he is. Kamal sir is an awesome genius who has wide knowledge about anything not just under the sun, but beyond that too. I am enjoying every bit of working with him."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trisha Says i can't wait for khaata meetha Release

"I have put 110 per cent in ‘Khatta Meetha’ and can't wait for July 23 when the film releases," says Trisha, who is making her Bollywood debut with the Priyadarshan-directed movie, which has Akshay Kumar as the leading man.

The actress, who is currently shooting with Kamal Haasan in France for 'Manmadhan Ambu', says, "My role in ‘Khatta Meetha’ was meaty and everything was just so perfect. Everything just happened over a 10 minutes phone call, all thanks to Priyan."

On things she expects from her Bollywood venture, Trisha says, "I am looking forward to more acceptance and appreciation. I am very much interested to see how people from south, from where I belong, react to it."

Excited about working with Kamal, she says, "What a man he is. Kamal sir is an awesome genius who has wide knowledge about anything not just under the sun, but beyond that too. I am enjoying every bit of working with him."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Asin's Reply to Complaint made

Asin’s visit to Sri Lanka for the Hindi film Ready’s shooting has drawn a lot of criticism among the various associations in the Tamil film industry. Recently, the Nadigar Sangam secretary, Radha Ravi had said action would be taken against Asin after consulting with various associations.

Reacting to this, Asin has said that she was not instrumental in choosing the shooting locations for Ready and had to merely abide by the selections made by the director and producer.

Asin rued that when the Indian cricket team visited the island for the Asia Cup last month, they were not stalled by any association. So why this partiality, she reportedly asked in an interview.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Priyamani and Bhavana to act Together

Yes, the Vikram’s sister in ‘Raavanan’ and Ajith’s love interest in ‘Aasal’ are set to share the screen space, but not in a Tamil movie. Priyamani and Bhavana will work together for a Kannada film, titled ‘Vishnuvaradhan’.

The movie, apparently titled as a tribute to the late Kannada superstar ‘Vishnuvaradhan’, will also have Sudeep and Sonu Sood in pivotal roles, say sources in the know. “It has a different storyline with equal importance to all stars,” they say.

“Priyamani, who is getting ready to leave for the United States, will join ‘Vishnuvaradhan’ team on her coming back to India by the end of July, while Bhavana will start working for the movie from August,” sources add.

Interestingly, this is not the first time for either Bhavana or Priyamani, both from Mollywood, to act in a Sandalwood film. Priyamani has acted in films like ‘Raam’ and ‘Eno Onthara’ while Bhavana starred opposite Puneet Rajkumar in ‘Jackie’.