Monday, September 27, 2010

Bale Pandiya Review

I'll be honest. I was thinking of writing a review on the movie the night I saw it but thought I might gush about the wrong things so I put it off. But when you dealing with a fun movie, what else do you expect. Yes, I am the rom-com type but this isnt just your average comedy. Its a comedy about a tragedy which seems to be the trend of the season. Seems Tamil cinema is going through a good run of new filmmakers that have their hearts in their work and their head around technology. Whether its a high-tech or not doesn't matter. Its about how the director holds your attention. But lets get back to the movie.

Pandiya (Vishnu Vishal of Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu) is not your average down-on-his-luck youth. If a black cat crossed paths with him, it would run home to drink water and ward off bad luck. Even if he tries to end his life by riding head on into a truck one night, it turns out to be 2 motorcyclists riding side by side. But persistant on ending his feeble existence, Pandiya finds himself a contract killer in the form of "AKP" (R. Amarendran). After much explaining, a song and some laughing, AKP agrees on taking Pandiya's life. Date set, premise set but what to do in the meantime? "Peaceful-a Va, piece piece-a po. Jollya iruda, Pandiya" he says [Come peacefully, go in pieces. Have fun, Pandiya]. Cut to next song. But where does Vaishnavi (Pia Bajpai) come into this? Well, while Pandiya is trying to end his life, the baddies have their own agenda (read: politics) and little Miss Vaishnavi is stuck between her corrupt father ( Jayaprakash) and his comical arch-nemesis (John Vijay) but the how's and why's are something you're going have to watch to find out.

To say that I was excited about this movie and was dying to watch it, would be putting it lightly. Siddharth Chandrasekhar is apparently marking his debut with Bale Pandiya as writer and director. So whats his intention? A rib-tickler with all the elements of a commercial flick. No qualms held here about logic lost. And he does delivers. Vishnu has come away from his rustic, rural look in VKK. Playing the part of "Bad Luck" Pandiya, he makes you laugh at his misfortune and does what he can to be your average middle-class youth. Although in certain parts, he seems to be stuck with only a few expressions, somehow he manages. Pia is bubbly, cute and doesn't have much to do, like most commercial flick heroines but puts in her two cents worth with gusto. Vivek is back with his trademark "thinking comedy" but when the secondary cast of henchmen (Apologies as names were not available) tickle your ribs on their own, while still being apart of the story, this separate-track-comedy doesn't sit well with the screenplay. Nevertheless, he and his partner-in-arms Murugan, do a decent job. Big dissappointments though as after blowing everyone away in Vamsam and Naan Mahaan Alla, Jayaprakash hardly comes to mind when the movie is over. In a forgettable >4 scene role, the same applies to most of the cast including John Vijay, who pretty much repeats his Oram Po act. 

Many would recognise the name in the credits under music director. He's been singing, acting, hosting, dubbing and performing for quite some time. Besides the director, BP marks the debut of Devan Ekambaram as composer too. He has shown his versatility with the soundtrack but could have avoided having 2 remakes. He does, however, do a commendable job with background score and is a true asset to the film.

But all that glitters is not gold. The story has some memorable characters and while most, on face value, dont need a backdrop, the character of "Katchitham" is just plain weird. In fact, the whole episode at the end with the kidnapping and rescue lacked the suspence it needed. As mentioned the music is applaudable but where " Bale Pandiya", "Happy", "Kangal Kamalaalayam" and "Aradha Kobam" have decent visuals to enhance the song, "Sirikkiren" tries to bring back the superb comedy from the "Mama" track of the 1962 "Bale Pandiya". Sorry guys, it ain't working.

So while I recommend you watch this film for the crazy comedy it has, I warn you that there is an unavoidable lull. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Broken Ties

It's amazing how life takes you on a path you never expect. The way friendships turn out. The ambitions never attained. The achievements that seemed so simple, after time. My personal favourite is the unexpected friends you lose.

You don't mean to lose heart when bad things happen and you certainly don't intend on getting a big head when good ones do. But it happens. Regardless of how I felt at that moment, I am trying to get into the habit of giving each their due credit and, understanding you get what you deserve. Once again don't get me wrong, I am not trying to preach godliness or karma although that is my belief. But after screaming, throwing tantrums and making a general fuss, if you didn't study for your HSC exams, you're not going to get the ranking you to be a lawyer! If you put all the effort for an interview to keep your sweetheart happy but you didn't get the job, then your sweetheart has not right to leave you because you tried sincerely. (In that particular situation, I would say that person never deserved you in the first place)

After denying it for a long time, I finally admitted to myself that I was not wanted by someone in my life. No matter how much importance I gave/give them, there is something that was needed that I couldn’t fulfil. But I cant go doing things just for them to want me again. If I work hard I can change many things that I find wrong in my life. But is that possible for friends too? Some things just don’t have a solution.

Odd reference I know but I watched a telugu movie called "Kick". Now instantly it appealed to me because of the cast but I found the name odd. Anyway, I watched it and beyond the madness of Raviteja's character, the awesome songs and the fact the Tamil remake "Thillalangadi" with Ravi Mohan sucked because he wasn't as crazy, I loved the concept. A man that lived his life on his terms. That is, he would only do things that gave him happiness or a "Kick". Now this maybe an average storyline to some but it's something that I would love to be able to do in real life.

The number of people in my life that have inspired me continues to change. Some inspire me to love, some to learn. One particular girl inspired me to write. Thats just simple stuff. Imagine if you could get away with doing only what you loved. How would those ambitions that you didn’t attain look like? What about those unexpected people that you hate or love? I mean, if you were granted that chance, would this unexpected turn of events exist? Would the insecurity of oneself exist?

I am the queen of insecurities but even I understand what I can do, some others cant. And I am happy. Finding that balance between your inner demon and your inner god is hard and it takes time. But one thing I know. If you are going to leave, I will question but if you don’t tell me why, I will take it that you were never meant to be there for me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Boss Engira Bhaskaran Review

They say comedy is a serious business. Not everyone can capture what is funny on paper, on celluloid. For director Rajesh M, he does it with such ease; you find it difficult to believe it’s only his second feature film. With great performances from his lead cast, he returns after the huge success of Siva Manasula Shakthi (SMS), with another comedy caper that is sure to follow suit.

Meet Bhaskaran aka Boss (Arya). A busy bee with nothing to do. Carefree and callous, he has failed his English exam that many times, he will soon be doing the exam with his much younger sister. Now meet Nallathambi (Santhanam). A barber shop owner who’s making ends meet. As a dutiful friend, wherever necessary, he helps his best friend out with ideas and whatnot (read: money). This doesn’t always work out for him. As you may have guessed, enter Chandrika (Nayanthara). Boss falls for Chandrika while he's waiting for a bus to attend his exam. As he tries to impress her and fumbles, he reaches the exam hall only to find out she is the exam hall teacher. But wait, why was he running after someone with a sickle in the opening scene? Isn’t it supposed to proceed with how Boss gets his girl and becomes the son/brother/son-in-law that everyone wants him to be? 

If you follow me on twitter, you will know that I was keeling over in pain from laughter while watching this movie. Yes, it’s a "leave your brain at home" type of movie but so what? It’s entertaining to say the least and Rajesh has made it abundantly clear that is aim. The best part for me was the old Arya from the days of Arindhum Ariyaamalum is back. And how! From a serious, heart-wrenching role in Madrasapattinam, the actor has done a 180 degree turn, showcasing a natural performance in comedy. As Boss, he is just your average lovable loafer. Although accused of being a dead-pan with his facial expressions on occasion, Arya has shown improvement from his previous comedy caper Oram Po. With Santhanam in the mix, the two just have a ball. The chemistry between them is superb and sure to be seen again. Already known for his amazing timing and quick wit, Santhanam returns with Rajesh and delivers yet again, a rip-roaring performance. With them, another person that I wish to see again is Subbu Panchu who plays Arya's older brother. Having seen him tear-jerker Tele-serials as an arch-nemesis for the protagonist, I honestly could not recognise him on the silver screen. In a small, yet vital role that’s definitely a pleasant surprise, he leaves his mark and brings the house down.

With the boys hogging the limelight, Nayanthara does tend to get lost in the mix. But as the demure yet confident teacher in training, Nayanthara looks and acts the part effectively. Often criticised for her costumes, Nalini Sriram has finally got it right with her costume design to suit Nayanthara’s physique and character. Adding to the already good looking on screen couple, their chemistry is effortless. While Arya is the verbous bumbling idiot, Nayanthara composed and calm, comes back with a "Pardon?" The expression on Arya's face is priceless.

Although the performances are what you look out for in the film, it would be wrongful to not mention the re-recording and dialogue. If one openly makes you giggle, the other makes you gaffaw with what it alludes to. Look out for the references to past Tamil flicks. Some may find it offensive, but I simply could not stop laughing. Rajesh has made the dialogues easy for the common man to identify with what's being said. Admittedly in a humorous manner, but the emotions and projection are quite natural.

Once again it is time to pull out the short straws. And for this, I am a little disappointed. As mentioned, no path-breaking cinema is expected but when the viewer can guess the next “twist”, you better have a backup plan. Having a guest appearance is fine but this one was just stupid. The re-recording was typical Yuvan, yet he still had me questioning his state of mind. Undoubtedly it is him on the soundtrack too but he is just not up to par. For such a fun film, I was expecting a lot more.

For the non-Tamil viewer, if possible, watch it with someone that can explain Tamil slang properly as you don’t want to be lost in translation. A total Paisa-vasool kinda film after a long time...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vamsam Review - Royal Bloodshed

Before we go into detail about this movie, there is one aspect that I need to clarify. The premise in which this movie is set is based on beliefs and traditions that todays society may not be aware of or in most cases, completely forgotten. Within reason, certain cinematic liberties have been taken but the essence is true, very much alive and kicking in rural India.

The story begins with people of varying backgrounds heading to the lineage festival or "Vamsa Thiruvizha" at a rural village called Singampidari. The local constable explains the traditions of the festival and the importance its given to the newly appointed Inspector. Yet the relevance lies in the violence that occurs during these festivals. Its during these scenes, you are shown our rivaling lineages, Anbarasu (Arulnidhi) of "Eppadu Pattalum Pirpaadu Kodathavar" (he who excels in native sports such as Silambam, Rekla etc) and Seenikannu (Jayaprakash) of "Nanjunda Ma Oh Si" (he who avenges any humiliation). Introductions complete, we are then taken back a year in time, where the story really begins. 

With such a tried, and tested story of revenge, and a debut of a political leader's grandson, one sincerely hopes for something different in the screenplay. Thoughts of how many formerly mentioned "cinematic liberties" will be made does not fail to pop up as well. In all honesty, I dont hold a lot of faith in celebrity kids making their debuts. But personal issues aside, I was genuinely excited about Vamsam. My reason? The one and only amazing director, Pandiraj. Much like Suseendran (Naan Mahaan Alla), he has the gigantic task of proving he's not a one-hit-wonder. And I feel he succeeds. Even though this story too is based in a rural backdrop, the similarities stop there. Undeterred by the success of his first feature film, Pasanga, the expectations upon him from the awards it garnered and the hype surrounding Arulnidhi's debut, he depicts with honesty the violence, honor and tradition that a society lives with and swears by. But its not all blood, sweat and aloe vera trees. He may have shown his more serious side, but he does not forget to add in his trademark humour. Simpletons are rarely shown so sweetly in revenge flicks so it is definitely a highlight for the film.

Special mentions must be made about Sunaina who plays Malar. Yes, she is Arulnidhi's ladylove but she is much more than that. Having seen her debut in Tamil (Kadhalil Vizhuthen), I would say this is the first time you dont see Sunaina but the thorned rural rose Malar. Simply put beautiful, lovable, passionate and full of emotion. Watch as she spits fires through her eyes and then does a complete 180 within minutes. Arulnidhi has done a decent job especially in the comical scenes with Ganja Karuppu, who is a laugh riot as his bestie.  But the one that snatches the praise yet again is Jayaprakash. This man is pure evil as Seenikannu and if he continues with his surprise performances like this, I believe we may have a contender for my beloved Prakashraj. Kishore as guest appearance is sufficient but could have been so much more.

With everyone performing so well, there is always a sour grape. This one has a few. Although the movie beautifully captures the village, it tends to shift between surreal and real visuals depending on the sequence. Also, it tends to drags occasionally,especially in the Kishore sequence and during the fight sequence at the  already-guessed climax. Debut music director Taj Noor, who hails from the school of A.R.Rahman, too has expectations pinned on him but I find his debut just average. So what's the conclusion? Watch it for Pandiraj, Asin the cow and the curiosity it stirs within your self. I'd be surprised if you didn't try to find out more about your own lineage once you have watched this movie. I know I did.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kadhal Solla Vanthen Review

Kadhal Solla Vanthen has been on the waiting-for-release list for more than one reason for many. This movie marks the return of Boopathy Pandian after the successful Malaikottai. It consists of music by Yuvan Shankar Raja and marks the debut of Balaji Balakrishnan (STAR Vijay TV’s Kana Kaanum Kaalangal, Pattaalam) and Meghana Raj (Bendu Appa Rao RMP -Telugu) in Tamil. Added to this, from the moment it was launched in early 2008, it has been in the tabloids for the amount of changes the casting has been gone through. At one stage, it seemed like a musical chairs contest rather a casting call.

2 years later, the movie releases with an awesome soundtrack, some commendable performances and natural cinematography. But when it comes to the storyline, you can pretty much figure it out within 20 minutes of the movie starting. Once again, I won’t be divulging into details but given Boopathy has penned the story again after Malaikottai, one can expect some rib-tickling moments. A mention must be made for Karthik Sabesh who plays Nanu Prabhu (Balaji)'s loyal friend, Petha Perumal. Even though the character of the best friend has become somewhat of a caricature in Tamil cinema lately, he is a pleasure to watch. He has very few serious scenes but even so, is immensely comfortable in front of the camera. Hopefully, this newcomer will be seen more often. As Nanu Prabhu, Balaji displays the varying emotions of first year college student -fresher- but still has a long way to go. The lovely Meghana leaves much to be desired as Sandhya. She fits the bill in the pretty category (reaping from the resemblance of Nayanthara?) but she's yet to show her heritage in talent as the daughter of yesteryear actors Sundarraj and Pramila. Even if for a few minutes Arya surprises but only because he is there (eye candy anyone?). Like the parents of both leads, he has very little to do.

Where the story falters, the music saves the day, to a degree. Yuvan's trusted mascots Vijay Yesudas and Karthik alongwith Udit Narayan, Chidambaram Sivakumar and Yuvan himself form a male only album. I don’t know if this was a gimmick but it definitely works with the story. The only thing I would complain about is that given the immense success of Paiyya, why does Yuvan settle so quickly on the Saamy Varuguthu track? As a typical brash masala track, it seems out of place both in the film and on the album.

This one is strictly for a lazy afternoon with nothing much to do.

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