Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Speak Now or .. Never Again?

The biggest mistake a person can make is not saying how they feel to the one they love. Whether it be happiness, sadness, love, anger, frustration or even annoyance, there needs to be some for communication or else before you realise it, that loved one will walk out your door, never to be seen again. Well, never to remain the same again I should say. But I guess where most people stumble is how.

I know that from my own bottling up nature and fear of being left alone, I don't tell the people I care about that they hurt me. Silly I know but I am still learning how to let people know how I feel deep down. But an even worse aspect is I don't realise when how my actions can be perceived. To me, the awkwardness that surrounds being witness to a fight between people you care about may result in me walking away. Sometimes not saying anything is my way of avoiding that confrontation. Yet the truth is, sometimes, confrontation is needed. To clear the air, know where you stand or even to come to terms with the end.

Making sense of all these emotions we possess is hard enough without the confusion of maybe's and if's. Walking away may not have been the smartest thing for me to do but I really did think it was the best. That is till reality sat in front of me and told me I was a fool to do so. The result? I made mistakes and never had the chance to explain my intention. Yes, sometimes the end excuses the means but just like watching a scene of a stumbling character and thinking what the hell were they thinking, until its said and explained, no one really knows why you do what you do.

On the flip side, there are the times you want to yell and scream and make your voice heard. The times where you want people to know the choice you've made, the decision you've come to or even the colour you want your nail polish to be. And yes, there will be times, where you cant say them. Sometimes, silence is the only language you can utilize. When your choice is good or bad, its easy to lean but what about 2 goods? Between love and trust? Compassion and devotion? What do you choose? And how can you react without harming the other? I guess, its at this point you think which matters more, your choice or your faith? Because in effect, that is what stops us from simple task like verbalising an opinion. The freedom to choose or talk takes the backseat when our faith in love, relationship, people or even respect comes to the fore.

Much like the contradiction that's life, verbalising and not verbalising can be confusing. But I guess life will also teach us when to talk and when not to.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

7aam Arivu Review

Before we begin this review, lets take a look at one aspect of this film. The concept of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk dated in existence in the 5th/6th century does have some inconsistency. Some scholars note he was a Prince from the Pallava dynasty while others say he was from a Brahmin family with only a possibility of a royal bloodline. But there are two things they all confirm. One, he was one of the forefathers of martial arts and meditation. And two, he was a Tamil man from Kanchipuram Tamil Nadu. Now the scholars that quote details of his origination aren't exactly available so much like the origination of Zen, there is little factual evidence to prove this barring the temples and scriptures that are present even today. 7aam Arivu is based on these and the best way to watch the film is with the notion this is supposed to be an entertaining film, not a documentary on actual facts and events. So here we go.

The film begins with in 6th century Tamil Nadu and narrates the legend of Bodhidharma as a form of setting the back story straight. History lesson over, we fast forward to today and a plan against India devised by China is being actioned with our bad guy, a Chinese agent named Dong Lee [John Tri Nguyen]. His target? A geneticist [not a scientist] named Subha Srinivasan [Shruti Haasan]. How her research on genetic engineering and genetic memory ties the descendant of the 6th century patriarch, a circus artist named Aravind into Dong Lee's line of fire forms the crux of this conspiracy-sci-fi-action caper. There is little bit of love, history and loads martial arts along the way so its does behave like a masalafied version but the premise is something you wouldn't have seen before.

Due credit must be given to A.R.Murugadoss as a writer as he has gone to great lengths to research and insert the ideas of genetic memory stimulation, Tamil history and high level conspiracy for the common man to understand. Murugadoss' choice of Surya in the lead role works for the film as the actor dazzles once again. Even though Bodhidharman makes a bigger impression, the playful Aravind is good as well and the extent the actor has gone to for the characters is plain for all to see. Shruti Haasan is marking her debut in Tamil with this film and makes an honest effort to play it well. While there are a few things she needs to improve, as a newcomer she does well in a meaty role and isn't playing a ditsy college goer. In fact, there are moments where she is the brains of the outfit and Suriya the brawn, a nice change from the usual. John Tri Nguyen has played the bad guy before but he fits the bill with his sinister hypnotism act well and his background in martial arts is also evident. Its been a while since the bad guy had equal or even more screen time. Abhinaya is hardly there, Illavarasu has two scenes and Pakru plus the circus gang get lost when the story shifts gears.

Technically enriching, Ezhaam Arivu boasts of a particularly credible crew. Ravi K Chandran behind the camera works magic right from the first shot. He depicts the surroundings with style but nothing too OTT. Anthony at the editing board makes the film flow neatly. Special mentions need to be made for the action director, Peter Hein and art director, Rajeevan. Both have put in a lot of effort and it is evident on screen. The SFX plays a big part in the film to depict the fictional past and the action packed present. As a team, each member has taken forward their craft and as captain of the ship, A.R.Murugadoss gets the best out of them.

Yet Ezhaam Arivu is not without its shortfalls. As much as Subha and her research are given importance, the is no reason or purpose for Aravind to be in the circus. Nor is there enough screen time to show his antics. While the light moments cause a few giggles, the first half spends a lot of time on a 2 dimensional love story that really doesn't have enough merit to it, regardless of the effort put in by the actors. The holes in the conspiracy are gaping wide and the 1980's dialogue mouthed by the Chinese characters don't help. An odd fact since its the same Murugadoss who wrote the dialogue that makes sparks fly when speaking about Tamil culture.  It is nice to see he has tried to bring to attention the pressing issue of knowing your heritage and the culture behind it in amongst the story. [This is something which this writer believes is relevant to  all cultures, not just Tamils, but that is a separate issue.] However, it deviates from the entertainment factor which the director himself has requested for. Maybe the patriotism side of the viewer is the target but the emotion is not always consistent enough to pull it through. The pre-climax drama also seems way too far-fetched to be believable and the decision to do the experiment is definitely dipped in masala mayhem sauce. Cinematic liberties are part and parcel for filmmaking but this isn't something you would expect after the history lesson you get in the beginning. And finally, the music. Harris Jeyaraj is indeed extremely talented, but the fact that more than one song seems like a spin-off of a track from his own discography is not a nice feeling. The positioning of the songs should have been rethought since they act as additional speed breakers for a slow first half.

So the final verdict on what has to be one of the most anticipated and biggest films in Surya's career is watch it for John, the SFX and Suriya. Try not to think about the logic behind it all.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Friend Pinto Review

**This is a repost of the review on Bollyspice**
So we jump straight into My Friend Pinto and as far as the story goes, the main one [yes, there are more than one] is about Michael Pinto [Prateik Babbar], a Goan lad that has his world shaken up because his dear mother has passed away. So sad. But wait, there is a bright side. With no-one else to turn to, Pinto decides to go the big, bad city of Mumbai in search of his childhood friend Sameerurff(aka) Sam [Arjun Mathur]. Along the way, he saves the life of a Mallu Don [Makrand Deshpande], saves a dog that is given to said Don’s muse [Divya Dutta] but loses his wallet in the process, and basically becomes a magnet for trouble, all in one night. Throw in a few life lessons, a cute aspiring dancer/ladylove named Maggie [Kalki Koechlin] and a few songs and voila, you have a light hearted giggle-a-thon. Not exactly.
Sometime noble intentions are not enough to make an impact on the big screen. For My Friend Pinto, the story of simpleton coming to the big bad city maybe basic but it isn’t all it entails. Yet when it adds in a few [or many] subplots to make the proceeding a little interesting, the concoction that becomes the film just doesn’t work. Ok so maybe I’m jumping ahead a little and being a big harsh. After all, sometimes you need to look at the simple things in life to enjoy it. Maybe that is why Sanjay Leela Bhansali decided to step away from his larger than life canvas films with deep, meaningful and heartfelt stories of human emotions. Maybe he wanted to do something a little different, lighter with some fresh upcoming talent like Prateik Babbar and Kalki Koechlin in the lead roles. Noble intention, indeed, for the film is essentially about seeing the good in your fellow humans, friendship and making your own destiny. Alas, SLB’s My Friend Pinto isn’t working too well on that front either.
That’s not to say it is all bad. Yes, it does induce a smile or two here and there. But with the confusion of the plot, the multiple characters that are half baked and the situations which you can see happening, it does make it hard to remember them all after you’ve walked out of the film. On the acting front, Prateik is improving with each film and while you do get the feeling on occasion that he isn’t as innocent as Pinto, the attempt to be charming is sincere. Kalki doesn’t enough screen space to make this impact she needs and what’s more the character itself is sketchy. Makrand playing a Mallu Don may have been funny on paper but on screen, it doesn’t sit very well. Divya Dutta surely deserves better than this and Shruti Seth’s animosity towards Prateik isn’t explained very well, making her character a tad annoying. The rest are just so so.
With pretty much everything falling out of place, it’s not going to be easy to save this. Editors Shan Mohammed and Dipika Kalra try to snip it back together in a desirable way but unfortunately, fail. The cinematography has some unique shot added in to it and it is appreciated. Sadly, the writing plays spoilsport to such visuals. The music by Ajay-Atul too leaves much to be desired, although it seems to flow with the film ok. So what is left to watch in My Friend Pinto by debut director Raghav Dhar? Well, had there been a little more depth into Kalki’s character/relationship with her mother or maybe proper giggle worthy material for Makrand and crew to work with, a nice comfy couch-and-popcorn worthy film, maybe. But all that you are left with is the thought that the film was meant to be funny and charming but wasn’t.
My Friend Pinto has a long way to go before he can befriend the audience.
Our Rating: 

Rascals Review

**This is a repost of the review on Bollyspice**
Oh dear. Where to begin with the film, Rascals. Sometimes the level that our writers go to recreate a hit can be baffling. Ok, so we have the amazingly talented Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt as the Rascalsin question. And yes you are expected to leave your brain at home but this is nowhere near what you would expect from them or director David Dhawan. This is one of those films that regardless of what or whom you see on screen, your brain and possibly your whole being will object. Expecting a comprehensive story would be naive but it isn’t too much to ask for some funny and innovative proceedings, is it? Apparently so.
So if you are prepared to take the plunge after seeing the trailer, there really isn’t much more to it. Bhagat Bhosle [Ajay Devgn] and Chetan Chohan [Sanjay Dutt] are your typical con men that incidentally pull one of the same guy, Anthony Gonsalves [Arjun Rampal] on the same day. To escape him, they both fly out to Bangkok where they meet. Now instead of becoming comrades, the two become instant rivals as they try to out-con each other for the major prize. To marry the rich, well-settled and beautiful multimillion dollar heiress, Khushi [Kangna Ranaut] for her money. Unfortunately for us, what was supposed to be a gag fest of one-upmanship turns into a lame excuse to recreate some classic slapstick comedy that Dhawan had created in the past.
Literally the only thing is pleasing to the eyes is the cinematography by Vikas Sivaraman and the initial reels of cartoons. And that’s about it. Right from when the two leading men are introduced and the location of Bangkok is established, it comes crashing down like a pack of cards. Seriously speaking Ajay and Sanjay have their hearts in the right place but neither stood a chance up against the ridiculous writing. Ajay’s blind major act may have been plausible enough to accept but what the writers were thinking when they wrote Sanjay’s “social worker/swamiji” type act, it beyond this writer. Arjun Rampal is also sincere in his attempt and while he is probably one of the more serious characters in the film, he doesn’t get much to do. Kangna has the role of being the ditsy billionaire that flaunts her assets [pun intended]. Not really a role that requires in depth acting or precision. But even then, she hams more than SPAM. Lisa Haydon has an amazing figure and clearly that was all that was required for her “role” of Dolly. Satish Kaushik is back on screen after a while but it is sad to see him wasted. Chunkey Pandey really needs to get better roles.

Yet no matter how much the actor’s try, when you are stuck with shoddy writing, saving the film is next to impossible. But the disappointment isn’t just in the writing. Music by Vishal-Shekhar isn’t a title card you would expect for Rascals when you walk out of the film. ‘Shake It Saiyyan’ may linger the charts a little longer but pretty much every song is forgotten by the time it’s over. The forgettable film’s editor Nitin Rokade may be talent as an editor and while you wish… nay, beg he had used his scissors more often; you can’t blame him since his material wasn’t the best. Fine, David, you want us to forget about logic and just watch the film for what it is. But this is ridiculous even by your standards! I mean the twists in the film are so obvious, you could see them at the beginning of the film. [Well sort of, but you catch my drift.]

So while Sanjay Dutt Productions in conjunction with Rupali Aum Entertainment and Venus Worldwide Entertainment, may have had the right intentions, but the audience won’t be conned by Rascals.

Our Rating:

Breakaway (Speedy Singhs) Review

**This is a repost of the review on Bollyspice**

After seeing umpteen films about cricket from Lagaan to Iqbal to Victory, Speedy Singhs is the first Canadian-Hindi film we see about ice hockey. But this isn’t your average sports based first with a dash of patriotism and individual storylines of triumph. Its a story about Rajveer Singh [Vinay Virmani] who is stuck between the expectations of following the family business and devotion enforced by his father [Anupam Kher of course] and his dream of greatness in ice hockey. But you can’t play ice hockey without a team so while papa doesn’t know, he forms his team, the Speedy Singhs, and tries to fulfil this desire.

Yes, its Akshay Kumar’s Hari Om Productions first international production jointly produced by Canadian based producer-actor-writer-singer-director Paul Gross. Yes, its directed by Robert Liebermen of “D3: the Mighty Ducks” fame. So the talent is definitely there for a comical drama/feel good entertainer. But somewhere along the lines, the makers of Speedy Singhs/Breakaway lost track. Instead, the film simply rehashes of certain aspects several films therefore losing any originality it possessed. Even the character of the stern father is something Anupam Kher played before and that too, to a T in Bend It Like Beckham. It does have a few giggle worthy point but amongst some of the more crass comical scenes and the downright rude ones, you tend to lose sight of them.

Performance-wise too, the film is quite mediocre with lead male Vinay Virmani who also co-wrote the film with Noel Baker, Jeffrey Schrechter and Matt Simonns, doing a decent job but with still a long way to go. Camilla Belle is just about ok but it wasn’t the most detailed character in the film. Rob Lowe’s character lost his chance to play in the major leagues because of his temper but more than anything, he is quite somber and bored. Russell Peters doesn’t really do anything different from his own stage shows but he does induce a few giggles or two. The boys of the team simply do not have much depth to stand out. A shame since with better writing, they could have made things more interesting. Unfortunately, good comeback lines don’t count.

Perhaps one of the few highlights would be the cinematography by Steve Danyluk and the soundtrack for the film by the Colombia Records India head and music composer, Sandeep Chowta, who has been missing from the forefront since Mukhbir. Yet it isn’t enough to bring the fireworks. The song ‘Shera Di Kaum’ which features Drake, Ludacris and RDB [Akshay Kumar makes a cameo also] is quite catchy but is better heard than seen. ‘Sansar’ and ‘Ne Aaja Ve’ are just about ok. Editing by Susan Shipton cannot be blames since the content itself is lacklustre.

All in all, the light moments are just not enough for Speedy Singhs to score a goal.

Our Rating:

Of course we have our dash of love with Camilla Belle playing the love interest Melissa, sister to coach Dan Winters, played by Rob Lowe that agrees to train the Speedy Singhs to victory. And maybe for a little fun, a dash of comedy supplied by Russell Peters who plays Sonu, the annoying cousin out to make Raj’s life as uncomfortable as possible. However, where the film has reminisces of Bend It Like Beckham and the more recent Patiala House, it is certainly not in the same league as either of these films.

Force Review

**This is a repost of the review on Bollyspice**

Tried and tested formulas can weaken any film. Regardless of star power, chart busting music or excellent performance. But with the right people on board, and an innovative way to tell a story, your average film can become almost epic. However, Force doesn’t fit into this category. Even while we have John Abraham, Genelia D’Souza and debutant Vidyut Jamwal stepping into the roles of ACP Yashvardhan, Maya and Vishnu, originally played by Surya Sivakumar, Jyothika and Jeevan in the Tamil smash hit Kaakha Kaakha, all is not well. Nishikanth Kamat is no doubt an amazing director and each actor in their own right is talented. However, when put together with Vipul Shah backing the film in production, the sparks that normally you would expect to fly fail to make attendance.

Ok so we take a step back and understandably, the story of the remake from the South was not unique to even for the original Tamil, or subsequent language audience. A sharp and intelligent cop ACP Yashvardhan played by John Abraham taking down a drug ring including drug lord Reddy Anna (Mukesh Rishi), in turn becoming the revenge target for his brother Vishnu played by newbie Vidyut Jamwal. And everyone knows, the burnt bad guy shaking up your work life is never enough. This is where Genelia comes into play. In between the narcotics cases that threaten his fair city, Yash reluctantly brings social activist Maya into his life, making her danger’s sweet and easy target. How things pan out form the crux.

The film’s action and testosterone exchange between John and Vidyut is high in volume as an attempt to keep audience on the edge of their seat. Unfortunately for us high in volume does not mean high in spark. On one side, the screenplay is percieved to depict a slick, urban cop story. And on the other, the masaledaar treatment (plus a fair few strategic brand placements) is interjected. Individually speaking, each actor has done their part. John’s beefed up exterior does add to the character and its brute strength. Yet, even as he tries hard to fit the bill but simple things like his dimpled smile take away from the stern and seriousness of the role, causing him to lose the essence of a strict cop. Genelia D’Souza dons a young, bubbly yet responsible version of Maya but she plays it very well as she is on familiar ground with a good of chunk of her roles in the south having similar traits. A quick mention must be made about the chemistry between the two though which fluctuates from hardly there to cute. A bit of a sad point since it is integral to the love angle. But by far newcomer Vidyut takes the whole cake, kit and caboodle. The actor has amazing screen presence and is the perfect bad guy of the new generation. Mukesh Rishi is ok as drug lord Reddy. Monish Belh is sufficient as is Sandya Mridal. The cast of John’s remaining comrades Mahesh and Kamlesh, pitch in their two cents.

From behind the camera, Ayananka Bose brings to life every scene with Aarif Shaikh keeping the proceedings crisp. The scenery is almost picture perfect. However, beautiful locales aren’t the only thing we see on screen. Watching a film like Force isn’t for the faint hearted and that is evident in Allan Amin’s action sequences. Its possible, the trend of masala films making a comeback may be behind the depiction and screenplay for this Nishikanth Kamat directed venture. It would be unfair to say it doesn’t entertain but the high voltage action doesnt sit the way one would like it to for a masala film. On the other hand, the intro fight scene for Vidyut does make you sit up and take notice. The same can be said for the music of the film. Harris Jeyaraj makes a return after Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, another remake from the south and has brought a track from the original Tamil film, ‘Khwabon Khwabon’. But the pick of the lot would have to be Main Chali with Kaise Kahoon coming close behind.

So is Force as forceful as you would expect it to be? Yes. But brute force doesn’t always work.

Our Rating:

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan Review

** This is a repost of the review on Bollyspice**

Yash Raj is a production house that has given us some timeless classics and introduced many new directors. Once again, it brings us yet another with Ali Abbas Zafar in his debut film Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Now with Rocket Singh and Dil Bole Hadippa being average fares, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan has got its fair share of expections banked on it. Beyond the success of the films, the lead cast of Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif and Ali Zafar are all set out to try their luck again with each of their last films Delhi Belly, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Tere Bin Laden working well. But sadly, this is far from a classic that the production house is renowned for nor is it the best work of the cast. We do need to give the director credit for bringing Imran, Katrina and Ali to the screen and even though the story is pretty much evident from the title/trailer itself, it does have its good points. However, the film’s predictability and major loopholes tarnish the experience.

Ok, so we get right to the point and say it isn’t path breaking cinema of a story about a guy, Kush [Imran Khan] who sets out to find his NRI brother Luv [Ali Zafar] a bride. But by the time he finds the perfect one in Dimple [Katrina Kaif] and arranges the alliances, he realises that he loves her. From here, its a game of conspiracy as Kush, Dimple and their buddies in crime race against time to break the alliance Kush helped form without hurting the one whom he did it for, his brother Luv. Quite simple and unfortunately, quite plain as well.

In essence, the performances by the whole cast show their effort to convince the audience of this film. Imran Khan doesn’t let any lingering side effects of his Tashi from Delhi Belly come in sight as he plays film director Kush rather well. Yet you still wish he went all out where he could have instead of being so restricted. After all, he’s supposed to be a dutiful bhai, not a demure one. Katrina tries really hard to be a vivacious Dimple, a girl that is a rebel on the outside that strives to have her own fun but inside would feel bad if she did anything to hurt her parents. She succeeds to a degree but then becomes a cartoon for the rest of the time. Ali Zafar unfortunately, is not seen on screen enough for the natural performer that he is. Barring the fact of his blind faith in his brother that sees him exploited in comical manner, he fits the bill. The Kingfisher model-turned-actress Tara D’Souza needs to brush up her acting quite a bit. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyu is quirky but nice as the sidekick friend helping to break the alliance, Shobhit while Ajju played by Afreen Khan does well in the role of Dimple’s autistic brother. The rest, and there are a lot, make do with their scenes and add to the film.

Due credit must be given as the dialogue is written so that the supporting cast gets the best lines, not just the leads, and there are no obvious bad traits to scrutinize and discriminate against the lead characters, something often happens so the audience favours the main lead couple. But thats not to say the clichés arent there. From the so-called “connecting moment” Imran-Katrina and Katrina-Ali combos to how they get out of their situations, some things are so obvious, you simply get bored. After the interval block, where there could have been some major funny bits, there is a whole bunch of outdated gimmicks and questionable writing.

I guess what’s so disappointing is that with a fun soundtrack by Sohail Sen, great visuals by Sudeep Chatterjee and apt editing by Ritesh Soni, director Ali failed to capture and enhance the fun quotient in his writing for a tried and tested formula.Clearly logic isn’t on the agenda, but at least make the proceeding a little less predictable.

So while the music is great and the performances commendable, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan lacks originality and leaves one guessing what it would have been like without the loopholes.

Our Rating:

Oosaravelli Review

Honesty is the best policy and since you, my dear reader, have taken the time to read this review, its time to confess. As much as NTR Junior aka Tarak is amazing an actor, Oosaravelli wasn't the most anticipated film for me. Keeping this hesitance aside, the normal hoopla that entails an NTR Jnr flick is anticipated. But lets dive straight into this one with the clear mind set that this is a masala film with a heavy action quotient [read blood, sweat and gore].

So on the story front it seems quite basic. Tony [Tarak] is gangster that is best described as the title, a chameleon. During his travels to Kashmir, he is taken hostage alongwith a bus full of people by some terrorists and meets Niharika [Tammannaah]. The two are bound together in a room as the remaining survivors and in the last few minutes of their survival, they share their final wishes. Tony expresses his desire for a girlfriend that he never fulfilled and in a split second Niharika kisses him and tells him to think of her as his girlfriend. But just as you'd think there begins a love story as Tony busts the both of them out, Niharika slips aways. For Tony, he  must find her even though he doesn't know the name or address of the girl who just kissed him. For Niharika, life has given her a second chance to live and she isn't going to waste it. Fast forward and shift to Hyderabad, Tony finds Niharika and finds out that she's engaged too. Neither shattered nor perturbed, Tony tries all he can until Niharika's fiance returns from his US trip. But who is Tony really? And is it really love that binds him to Niharika?

First of all, it must be said that Surender Reddy has moulded a story into this action-fest potboiler. So while it seems like a routine love story at first, the plot does thicken. Unfortunately, the film takes its time to bring that to the forefront. Until then, he does try to recreate the mayhem from his last film, Kick, to the point its like you are watching Tarak's version of Kick. Speaking of which, thank god that Tarak accepted this role. Not because its an amazing role but more because he explores his comical side in abundance. Barring a quite masalafied climax, Tarak is simple and totally alive on screen. To understand how such contrasting descriptions work for one actor, you will have to see the film. It might be requested though that Tarak find a new stylist. The clothing may have been next door boyish but that hair is unruly. Tamannaah darling, a special thank you to you. The girl has jumped leaps and bounds in the film. In fact, it is not far fetched to say she drives the second half film and that too, for a good portion of it. The ease in which she essays her expression can fool you to thinking she did not need to memorise the lines and meant each one. So she is a little annoying in the first half, she makes up for it big time in the second and thats what leaves a lasting impression. Payal Ghosh is back on the big screen after Prayanam and although the premise of her character is sketchy, she does an okay job. Prakashraj's has openly admitted the bad guy roles are his bread and butter but it would be so much better if he had a challenge because the man just cakewalks throughout. Shayaji Shinde could have been so much more to the film but is barely there, although lovable in the few scenes he has. Vidyut Jamwal is disappointingly absent thus makes an faint,almost non-existent impression. Raghu Babu, Jayaprakash and clan give the giggles initially but wear thin as the film progresses. Shaam is stuck in a circle and really needs to come out. The rest are strictly ok.

Coming back to Surender Reddy, its nice see that he kept his revenge story under wraps but where he and writer Vakkantham Vamsi keeps you interested in the second half, the constant gags of the first half can only cover the fact there is not story  for a while, not hid it. Music by DSP is a highlight as the composer is back to his peppy self with trusty aides Adnan Sami, Mukesh and Suchitra making a repeat attendance like on most his soundtracks. Neha Bhasin and Vijay Prakash's rendition of Niharika is extra sensual while DSP own track Brathakali is little different in tune and tempo. Rasool Ellore camerawork is fine but Goutham Raju's editing could have been that extra crisper but when its a Tarak flick, blood and gore are part and parcel so the action is bound to be lengthy.

Yet, the downside is just as obvious as the fake blood on Tarak's face in the trailer clips. Sometimes you wonder if Tarak's directors want to show him as an action star or a bloodied up star. The amount blood and killing that is depcted in several of his films can be a little putting off. Oosaravelli is no different in that way. But even as people/fans accept this to a degree, it is hard to swallow action sequences which entail the lead sitting tied up to a chair and fighting his baddies. I mean, come on! Laws of gravity or even Physics anyone! Ok so the action is OTT. Points are given to the moving the focus point at the right time but disapproval sets in again when actors like Shayaji Shinde are not used properly. The concept of the father still being around for the son even after death in a ghost form is shown in one scene then completely forgotten about after that. It would have been better to not have that at all. Logic doesn't take a back seat as much in this film with certain point connecting correctly but timeframes don't match on some major ones as well. But considering the premise behind the latter portion, I guess this isn't one of the pressing issues of the film.

Yet as you walk out of Oosaravelli, you don't think you have completely wasted your money so thats a plus.

Rating: 2.5/5

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dookudu Review

Is there a point to explaining the hype behind Mahesh Babu? Not really. Regardless of the film, the director, the music, the heroine or even the comedian that will be on screen for less than 1/5 of the film screen time, the title of Mahesh Babu in lead male role is enough to sky rocket the hype for any film. Whether the film delivers or not is taken as separate. In some ways, this is good for the actor Mahesh with appreciation flowing from all corners. In others, its a shame for such a versatile actor to be boxed into a bad script/film. Dookudu isn't all bad. But it definitely isn't the best either. Read on.

So here's how it goes. Ajay Kumar [Mahesh Babu] is gutsy Mumbai cop that has an equally sharp mind. His current target is Nayak [Sonu Sood], a mafia don that dwells overseas and deals in the usual criminal activities. Ajay wants he brought to justice. But his investigation shows that his ties to Nayak are deeper that he realises. Enter Shankar Anna [Prakashraj]. Father to a young Ajay, he met with an accident went into a coma although his town folk think he is dead. After his accident, Ajay was shifted to Mumbai by his remaining his family and has since never returned. That is till now. Shankar Anna is out of coma and has no idea of what has happened since. Ajay now, needs to replicate as much as possible including being his heir to the MLA posting Shankar held. Between his professional battle and personal trials, Ajay learns more about his father's accident with all of it leading back to Nayak. To get him, Ajay will bring in a host of characters to play, each getting him a step closer to his revenge. How? Watch in to find out. No, seriously! You have to watch it since it is way too hard to explain.

If Khaleja saw Mahesh strip his apprehensions and even become the butt of jokes on screen, Dookudu continues from where it left off and proceeds with a sentimental angle as well. His modulations, his expression and his attempt at a different slang are true treat for fans and non fans alike. He comes alive and is electric in every scene. Even his malasafied "Poleeess!" is a magnet for attention. Yet, he too slips behind when the spotlights zeros in on Brahmamandam and MS Narayana. The two veterans have a ball and it shows as they erase whatever past achievements and set new standards for themselves. As his father, Prakashraj is no doubt superbly fitted for the role but with the slight restriction of his "cinematic" condition, he does not get the meat to perform as well as we know he can. Samantha is cute as Prashanthi but besides her clothes, make up and dancing skill, she doesn't really get a chance to do much acting. A shame since Samantha has shown she can deliver. Please take note that the love angle of this film is at a minimal and is simply a starting point. Clearly the focus isn't the lovebirds so no comments on the chemistry as there wasn't enough time to develop it. Sonu Sood goes for a little older look with some painted grey hair but that cant take away from his 2D character losing much of its steam quite early in the piece. After Kandireega, I must say this is a little dissappointing. Nassar has definitely proved he has amazing comic timing several times before and it is great to see him show it off a little. Added bonus being that he dubs for himself [FINALLY!]. Kota Srinivasa Rao, Supreet, Subbaraju and Venugopal dont do anything different from what we have seen before. Adithya's hair is unfortunately, longer than his role. The rest are just there to fill up space.

So how do you describe Srinu Vaitla's brand of comedy? There really isn't one word. He's bankable to put it simply, on having the lead characters involved in the comedy, a drunkard/drinking scene and some crazy ideas that simply flow on screen. The man repeats his magic combo with Brahmam darling like nobodys business and if that wasn't enough, he has MSN in a role you make have seen before but not like this. This is one of those films that you can turn off your brain for but the question remains as to whether it will switch on by itself as some may find. And of course, it has some amazing visuals by KV Guhan and Prasad Murella with Mahesh and Samantha for the eye candy but its not just all visual treats. The film makes no bones in stating that you just need to sit back and let the comedy sweep you over, the action blow your mind and the witty dialogue surprise you. 

Now to the less glamorous side of the film. The negatives. In all honesty, it all boils down to only a few things and even if intentions are commendable, its these things that hinder the experience. Firstly the length. The action alone takes up a considerable amount of screen time. For action lovers it might be ok and yes it's exhilarating at times but it drag massively. If it isn't the action length, its the melodramatic dialogue. Ok, so we love our drama, but please. Inducing a heartache with a few words of someone's return is a bit much. at the same time, a father need not have done amazing things for you to want to keep him happy and safe. He gave you life as Mahesh says. Next the songs. A lot more was expected from Thaman.S after Vandhaan Vendraan[Telugulo Vachadu Gelichadu]. Without looking at previous combinations, there is a spark that is missing from the soundtrack. A note to Thaman, the louder the song doesn't equal to the bigger the hit. Really, the sheer volume of the tracks are only just bearable. Guruvaram is probably the saving grace on a very robust soundtrack but even that has its moments. The picturisation also seemed a little down-sized for two decent dancers but the background dancers attempt to lipsync and their enthusiasm make it passable. Just. While making mention of the loopholes in the script is warranted, its seems to this writer logic very rarely gets the importance it deserves in commercial films, let alone TFI.

So where does that leave us with the Dookudu? A decent film that could have been awesome, I say. Oh and it has Mahesh Babu in it. :)

Rating: 2/5

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dheiva Thiru Magal Review

Sometimes the fact a film is based on another, or "inspired" doesn't make a difference to the outcome whether good or bad. This maybe due to the adaptation or acting. In one way, Nayagan, a "Godfather" based film is one such film where the outcome was amazingly good. With Dheiva Thiru Magal, there is no denying the film is based on I am Sam, a film that saw Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer in lead roles. However, the request of this writer is when you read this and watch the film, do not draw comparison. So with that lets jump in.

The movie begins at night on the highway to Chennai. A figure [Vikram] emerges from the car that slows down to a stop. But as the car drives off, he panics. As he screams Nila, Nila and collapses on the ground, the car drives off. The dawn sees the figure wandering the streets lost. While its obvious to those he meets that he is not of the same mental capacity as them, none want to help. All that is known is his name is Krishna and he wants Nila. At this point enters Anuradha [Anushka], a lawyer looking for a chance to prove her skill and aspires to become an assistant to leading lawyer, Bashyam [Nasseer]. Along with her associate Vinod [Santhanam], the two unknowingly stumble across this lost soul but like the others, run away without helping. But when Krishna gets hurt becuase of them, Anuradha feels responsible. She begins to learn who the mentally challenged Krishna is and about Nila [Sarah], his daughter who has been taken away. Determined to set right her wrong and reunite the father and daughter, Anuradha will face more challenges than she expects. Not only in the form of going head to head against Nila's grandfather, Rajendran [Sachin Khedekar], a business magnet that runs several school throughout the state but also in the courtroom, against her idol, Bashyam himself. Will she be able to keep her promise? Will the bond between this father and daughter be strong enough against the law?

Rarely do you see an actor that goes so far with his acting that you lose all capability to describe what the experience is like. Kamal Haasan is one actor that is hard to pin to words and now, it would seem Vikram is not far behind. As an actor, he has poured his heart, soul and voice into this character. Rarely a moment he seems over the top, he blends in perfectly. But even he has major competition in the form of the little starlet of the film, Sarah. To say this girl is cute is an understatement. But what is more endearing about Sarah is she is natural with her part, without a word out of sync or an emotion out of place. For a child that doesn't know Tamil, this is surely a big challenge but she just takes it into her stride. Anushka has stepped away from her usual glamdoll role and is elegant yet funny as Anuradha. Her quirkiness during the initial court scenes and subtle emotions with her onscreen father Y.G. Mahendran score her extra brownie points. Amala Paul plays an important role and does it well but does not have the same screen time. Sachin Khedekar is stern and powerful while Nasseer adds another face to his showcase with the sly and proud Bashyam. Santhanam does make an entry as the main funny man but soon becomes loyal friend. M.S.Bhaskar and his false teeth are much like him although he has a slight negative shade that can be seen as a reflection of society and their perception. Karthik Kumar, Surekha Vani and Pandi have small roles but are ok in.

On the technical front, one cannot complain about Nirav Shah's work since he has a consistency that is evident in Dheiva Thirumagal as well. Each shot is specially crafted to enhance the locales and Antony's editing makes the sequences smooth and crisp. G.V.Prakash has a special touch to his musical scores for films with Vijay and continues this with Vizhigalil, Vennilave and Aariro tingling the ears ever so sweetly. But behind them lies director Vijay. More than looking at what he has said with Deiva Thiru Magal, he makes you look at how he has said it. The act of having someone with the mental capacity of a 6 year old isn't easy. The key is making the audience understand Vikram's character is not stupid. Only that he takes time to understand simple tasks but they are understood with clarity if explained properly.  In the hands of a lesser actor or writer, this could have gone hideously south. Yet even with Vijay pulling the right heart strings with Vikram and Sara's performance, this isn't a perfectly crafted film.

Yes it is a well adapted film and the cast are a major plus point to the film but the slow motions and soft voiceovers can get a bit much. The proceedings take their time to get stuck into things and often drag out even then. Also, the factor of hiding a plaintiff because of his condition even though they believe he is capable, seems like the logic factor isn't one to take seriously. The Anushka-Vikram love track that was alluded to may have been beautiful to look at but really wasn't developed enough to warrant and disappears just as quickly. Especially since as you walk out of the theatre hall, possibly throwing a few wet tissues, the performance and chemistry between this father-daughter is what remains and is supposed to.
Rating: 3.5/5  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dhada Review

Its not always easy to keep up with the hype of an action film. For Naga Chaitanya, Josh had its action sequences and so did 100% Love but the main feature wasn't the action in the film. Ajay Bhuyan's Dhada was supposed to be Chaitu's foray as an action hero with a string of love in the story. But having the elements worthy of a commercial flick like music by DSP, current favourite Kajal Agarwal as the ladylove and locations in Thailand, Milan and Europe isn't enough to make it a successful one. Read on.

There really isn't much to either of the stories [yes, there are two]. On one side you have adrenaline junkie-ish Chaitu who has a run in with Rahul Dev's brother and thus becoming the reason for Rahul losing the 100 girls he sold to black market kingpin Kelly Dorji. On the other the hand there is Kajal who lives by her business minded father Mukesh Rishi rules and finds solace only in her mother's last home video before her mother commited suicide. In between the thrashing of the bad guys from one track, Chaitu spends most of his time impressing Kajal or using Brahmanandam for a bakra to get to Kajal or getting sentimental with his brother Sriram [Srikanth for the tamil audience] and sister-inlaw/mother Samiksha. In short, do the baddies/Kajal get Chaitu or not forms the crux.

A done to dust action film in terms of story can still work if the screenplay and the performance permit. But in the case of Dhada both are a severe let down. Now I dont mind that Chaitu has decided to do something different with the love angle taking a back seat but this is not the film of choice. He does score brownies on making an effort to improve his skills including dancing [one that he has been ripped to shreds for] but sorry Chaitu, you cant save this one. As a majority, it is hard to find leading ladies that have much to do in action films that dont revolve around them. But even with a particular portion about her, Kajal Agarwal fails to do anything. Yes, for the purpose of being a "pensive and melancholy" character, her character is restricted in emotion. But she doesn't invoke any and falls apart like nobody's business. Looking pretty and having 3-4 faces, none of which depict the intensity needed, just doesn't cut it. Rahul Dev tries really, really hard to be sinister but is given some ridiculous lines that just mar his performance. For a deadly gangster, Kelly Dorji doesn't even make you blink as a reaction, let alone fearful of a seemingly dangerously brutal individual. On a side note, both of these actors need to find better dubbing artists pronto! Sriram tries his best to add life to his character but it doesn't help when its a badly written role and is hardly impactive. Samiksha looks pretty. Mukesh Rishi is wasted beyond comprehension and funny men Brahmanandam and Ali need new material.

Ok so the performances were a washout. But visually, Dhada is great. Cinematography by Gnana Sekhar V.S. depicts Thailand, Milan and Europe in awesome light. Music by Devi Sri Prasad is good but nowhere near as good as you would expect from the likes of the composer that brought Arya 2 and Jalsa. Hello Hello Laila is hummable but Ey Pilla has too strong of a resemblance to Na Pere Meenakumari from Mallana [En Peru Meenakumari from Kandhaswamy for the Tamil folk]. Editing by Dharmendra cant be blamed for not snipping enough since the material isn't the best to begin with. For that, the man in the criminal corner is Ajay Bhuyan. The thought may have been a good idea at the time but the director not only struggles to present it, his script lacks cohesiveness entirely. We must be honest that originality isn't something that is often seen in TFI, but making the proceedings enjoyable can cover that major flaw. But Dhada loses out to that too. 

So is there are anything good about this film? Yes. The end credits.

Rating: 1/5

Mankatha Review

Where do you begin with Mankatha? From the word go, Venkat Prabhu's directorial ventures have quite a buzz about them so its hard to keep the expectations at bay. Starting with his first Chennai 600028. So ridiculously successful was the audio release, apparently there was requests/pleading from fans to release the film after the exam period. Considering it was from their target audience, request were heeded to and the rest is history. Then came Saroja which met with similar success as well as Goa with Soundarya Rajnikanth stepping into the producer seat. Now the mother of them all, Mankatha, hits screens with some of the biggest actors Venkat has worked with on board. But does all the expectation of Ajith's 50th film, an all star cast, Yuvan's music and a Venkat Prabhu game tag result in a good film? Read on to find out.

There is not much reason to writing a synopsis since the gist of it can be seen in the trailer but just to recap. Sumanth [Vaibhav], Mahat [Mahat Raghavendra], Prem [Prem G Amaren] and Ganesh [Ashwin Kakumanu] plan to heist cricket betting money worth 500 crore in transit when Vinayak Mahadevan [Ajith], a suspended police officer comes into the picture. Intelligent and with his own agenda, there is more to Vinayak than these boys know. However, where there is a crime to be commited, there has to be a hero to stop it. Enter Prithviraj [Arjun], ACP assigned with a special task force to bring down not only the robbery but the whole illegal betting system. Game set and all is falling to plan yet no one will be prepared for the game thats about to begin as the rules have changed without them knowing. The double crosser is about to be double crossed. Who remains and who comes on top forms the crux.

With all due respect, its about time Ajith had done this kind of film and this kind of role. Yes he has done, and very well might I add, negative shaded characters before but this is his first through and through bad guy role and boy does he nail it. He has made some really bad choices in the past but thanks to Venkat's writing and Ajith's acting, none of them come to mind at all. Simply put, Ajith is back and thank god for that! Out with the good guy hero image and in with the bad man, Vinayak is ridiculously cool and stylish. The actor had the time of his life playing Vinayak and its visible. In fact, his counter character Prithviraj played by Arjun who plays the cop role for the umpteenth time, struggles to get the attention of the audience. But he does the role given to him well. Vaibhav gets the meatiest role out of the four friends and plays it to the T. Ashwin Kakumanu is back with a bigger role compared to his last film Nadunissi Naaygal and is believable to a point. Prem G is relagated to funny man once again but doesn't really have a catch phrase this time. Thankfully his "Enna Kodumai Sir Ithu" was used only once through the film. While some may say his mimic act is boring, its become his trademark so its ok. Mahat tries to make an impression for his first credited role but has a long way to go. Now to the ladies. Sorry Andreah, Laxmi Rai, Trisha and Anjali, this one is definitely for the boys.Andreah takes the cake on believable acting, although only briefly. Trisha doesn't really do anything although dubbing for herself does scores her a few brownie points but even then, Anjali is a step ahead of her just slightly. In honesty, you sympathize with these 3 ladies for approximately 5 minutes which is about the same timeframe they are on screen barring their songs. Laxmi Rai is a beautiful lady but she needs to work on her acting and that too in major proportion. Jayaprakash downplays his smuggler act well and doesn't allow his previous stints on the dark side show this time either. The rest flow through.

Ok so stepping back to technicalities, we head to the music department first. Yet again, another round of banging music by Yuvan Shankar Raja and the charts are there to prove it. At the same time, the songs that stand out are Vilaiyaadu Mankatha, Ithu Namma Ballelaka and Nee Naan. However, it cant be said that this is Yuvan's best work. Cinematography by Sakthi Saravanan is passable and editing by Praveen K. L. & N. B. Srikanth could have been a little crisper. But the writing is to blame for any lack of performance here and that is in the hands of director Venkat Prabhu. While this kind of robbery flick from a negative character's point of view hasn't been seen before in Tamil and Venkat should be applauded for his attempt, there is no denying it could have been better. 

First off, we have the misfortune of pretty much every character getting overshadowed by Ajith, with the ladies taking the biggest blow. As remarkable and deserving of praise as his performance is, the focus can be a little overbearing and long winded. Plus you have to think, are the 4 boys, and everyone else for that matter, that easy to manipulate. Understandably, they are not supposed to be as smart as our man Ajith but at some points, it would have been better had they not seemed so stupid or gullible. On top of this, some of the scenes are just a little too long. Keeping the audience on the edge of their seat is vital to suspence flicks. If the scenes dragged out to one point, the songs pitched in on the speed breakers too. Vaada Bin Laada could have had better placing, forgetting that the picturisation/choreography was questionable. Yet it doesn't all head down hill in the second half. Whatever speed was held back through the songs, is picked up with the climax. By the time the film finishes, the out takes begin and you are left in stitches from laughter with the whole team and their fun.

So the final verdict? It may not be a Royal Flush but this one definitely has a Full House and Ajith.

Rating: 4/5
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