Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fortune Teller

With a little smile or maybe a hug

And she sweeps away any gloomy bug
As the cards stand guard who she is
The secrets will show another little miss

But there's never a moment is she ever fake
Feisty yet kind a great mother she'll make
So emotional blackmail, life is way too short
Whatever the desire, no compromise she does retort

Yet clever is the key word for my little pretty
And sweet too like a white chocolate cookie
Dreams and wishes packed into a bundle
With enough time to live and mingle

So lovely, the distance you travel maybe long
But sing with it like your favourite song
Time may test your strength again and again
But have courage till you reach your end

If there was anyone that I could depend on for a supportive shoulder and a creative viewpoint then this is my girl. I love her to bits and will cherish our memories. Happy Birthday, darling..

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anaganaga O Dheerudu Review

***This is a republishing of my review from the Bollyspice website***

From the get go Anaganaga O Dheerudu or Once Upon A Warrior is bound to grab your attention for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that it’s Disney's first live action film in Telugu and add in that is jointly produced by the legendary K.Raghavendra Rao, it has a National Award winning director, Prakash Kovelamudi in his first full length feature, and a lead cast that consists of Siddharth, Shruti Haasan and Lakshmi Manchu and you have got a film that any film buff would want to check out. Then the soundtrack boasts of composers from the experienced to the upcoming including M.M.Keeravani [aka M.M.Kreem], Koti, Salim-Suleiman and Mickey J Meyer coming together on one fabulous OST. But with all this talent, the question remains do they succeed? Read on to find out.

Taking from the classic Good vs. Evil story-telling that is a Disney trademark, we begin with the story of Angarajyam, a tear drop shaped island that suffers under the cruel reign of Irendri [Lakshmi Manchu], an evil sorceress that possesses magic powers from a pact made with serpents [Sarpa Shakthi]. But no matter how powerful, even Achilles had a weakness and for Irendri, her powers rely on a mysterious figure that gives her a drop of blood every day. Even if she misses one day, she becomes very weak to the point of being powerless. The only way to rid herself of this dependency and to achieve her ultimate aim of immortality and power she must sacrifice a divine child by the name of Moksha [Harshitha]. With Moshka's blood, Irendri will transform from her spirit in the human shell state into the most powerful being across the land and will be virtually unstoppable. She sends her men to find the child, but Moksha is also being sought by the people of a small village called Agartha. With the ability to heal, they hope she can heal their children that suffer from mysterious diseases implanted by Irendri. They send forth a villager named Druki [Ramji] to bring her back for help. Moksha, along with her guardian, a blind warrior named Yodha [Siddharth] who lives with a painful past, and Druki, travel from the Kazi monastery in Pushpagiri to Agartha. Of course, as it is in all good vs. evil stories they don't know of the danger that lies ahead. Do they make it in time to save the children? Who is the mysterious figure Irendri relies on? Does Irendri succeed in her plan? And what happened in Yodha's past that still haunts him? The answers to these questions form the crux of the story.

Now to the performances: Siddharth is an absolute delight to watch. The way he plays Yodha makes him both lovable and dignified. As a common villager with an extraordinary talent and an enormous responsibility, he adds a human touch with the mischievous streak yet maintains the sharp wit of a warrior. Incidentally, the actor has not done an action-based role like this before, but has shown he is quite capable without the OTT six-pack bare chested poses. Shruti Haasan may be playing the typical "damsel in distress", but she is far from the ditsy "save me" type. Almost picture perfect for the role, she maintains a feisty nature, yet oozes sensuality and charm that is bound to appeal to all. Yet these two are almost gobbled up by the talented Lakshmi Manchu. Daughter of legendary actor Mohan Babu, she takes the role and transforms into a larger than life figure that will make some question if this is really her debut. A complete natural as Irendri, her voice modulation alone is bound to chill you to the bone especially as Sarpini, the serpent spirit residing in Irendri's tresses. Young Harshitha is an integral part of the story and shows confidence beyond her age. Ravibabu, Subbraya Sharma and Ramji do justice to their roles while Brahmandam and Ali tickle the funny if only for a few scenes.

Fairy tales are a hard style to pull off on celluloid and in less capable hands; a film like this can fall flat miserably. However, Prakash Kovelamudi not only infuses the right amount of human emotion and values with fantasy but also, shows it in a way that's unique and universally understandable. There will not be a moment that you will feel you have seen this somewhere else. Hats off to Prakash's imagination. The presentation i.e. the cinematography [Sounder Rajan], production design [Raj Golay] and art [Bhupesh R Bhupathi] is amazing. The visual effects team at Firefly deserve a very special mention for their work, both obvious and hidden. The detail is evident and remarkable. All four music directors leave their trademark stamp on the soundtrack as Salim-Sulaiman do what they do best with the background score, charm and enchant.

With so many pluses, what about the minuses? To be honest yes, they are there. As mentioned Harshitha is a central character so while she has done her bit and there is an explanation for her existence, a bit more depth to the character would have helped to fill out her role. Also, the dialogues of the film are meant to be folklore styled but at times, the emotion could have been expressed much stronger for a deeper connection. With such a shrewd director at the helm, editor Shravana Kartikaneni's job is made easy, but one does feel a jerk in the screenplay every now and then.

So does Disney and K.Raghavendra Rao's magnum opus Anaganaga O Dheerudu work? Yes, definitely. As a whole package the film is sure to delight its audience with great visual, amazing performances and a simple yet appealing story. Who is this film directed at? Well, the answer to that lies in the age old phrase, you are only as old as you feel. The movie enchants, bewitches and mesmerizes just like a Disney classic would and theirs is an audience that has passed several generations and continues to do so. For me it gets 4/5 stars!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Siruthai Review

Remakes are somewhat taking over Tamil Cinema again and this Pongal/Sankranthi we have two releasing at the same time. The one in question is of one of my favourite S.S.Rajamouli flicks called Vikramarkudu. As Siruthai, we have a team consisting of Vidyasagar making a come back after a small break, director Siva who directed Souryam and Sankham in Telugu making his debut in Tamil and the Paiyya jodi, Karthi Sivakumar and Tamanna Bhatia in lead roles. To add a bit of masala in the mix, Karthi will be joined by Santhanam for the first time. But do they succeed in recreating the magic created by S.S.Rajamouli, M.M.Keeravani, Raviteja and Anushka that took the Telugu audience by storm? Read on to find out.

The story is pretty simple. Rocket Raja [Karthi] and his friend Kattu Poochi [Santhanam] are your average petty thieves. Picking pockets, cutting handbag straps, shaving people bald and conning wherever they can just for the sake of it. Squabbles with kids and their mothers aside, life is merry with beer aplenty and not a care in the world. Along the way, Raja encounters Swetha [Tamanna]. A rich girl from Andhra, who misunderstands circumstances and believes the stories that Raja spins. So as Cupid throws a few arrows, Swetha thinks Raja is a software engineer and Raja in turn decides on one last heist before saying goodbye to his theiving ways for good. However, what was supposed to the easiest heist of a box with more jewelry than they could imagine from a Rajasthani woman turns into a nightmare as a cop named Bharath [Rajiv Kankala] intercepts the two in a share squabble unaware they stole the box. But the biggest shocker come when they open it. Instead of jewelry, they find  a 3 year old little girl named Divya[Rakshana] sleeping inside. If that wasn't bad enough, she wakes from her slumber, looks at Raja and calls him Appa[father]. Shocker number 3 comes in the form of a photo of the girls father who looks exactly like Raja. No choice of ditching and no chance of finding the father, he slowly forms a liking to the lil' one but is then thrust into a wild chase for their lives as a bunch of goons attack the Raja and Divya. Before Raja can react, he finds himself standing face to face with the man from the photo. Who is Rathnavel Pandian [Karthi again]? Why are the goons trying to kill him? How does Bharath tie into all this? Well you know the drill. Check it out to find out.

First off, by now you should know I love Karthi but this was one film, I was so worried he made the wrong choice when I heard they were remaking Vikramarkudu. Its one of those films that you cant change the characterisation and is also very hard to adapt. The film's USP is the flamboyance of Rocket Raja and the roar of Rathnavel Pandian and when the original role is done by Raviteja, you are in for some trouble. As Film critic Sri on twitter said, he is like TFI's Jim Carey. His style of acting is hard to trump or imitate. But Karthi has proved me wrong again. Considering how deftly he has handle complex character emotions in NMA, Paruthiveeran and action in Paiyya, I probably should have known better. The actor is a complete delectable delight to watch. As Rocket Raja, he tickles the funny bone so easily and with Rathnavel Pandian, you can almost feel the fire in his eyes. Some may say he is repetitive with his comedy but his quirky style of casual comedy goes up a notch and work BIG time. He may not be perfect with the dancing aspect of things but makes it up with oodles of confidence and attitude. Santhanam as his co conspirator is in top form but it would be best he refrains from using double entendres as he is awesome without them. Either way, his style of comedy and his combo with Karthi is a major plus point to the film. Tamanna Bhatia is very pretty girl and looks really good in her glamouros avatar but she hams alot. In fact, you wonder if this is the same girl that blew your mind in Ayan and Kallori, both varying genres and characters but equally appealing. Comparisons to Anushka would be futile since when Anushka did it in Telugu she was but one film old. Yet Tamanna does follow her skin show act without making that much of an impact. The on screen chemistry of Karthi and Tamanna is just passable which is disappointing. Rajiv Kankala was in the original and reprises the same role but doesn't skip a beat and invokes just as much life into his character in Tamil. Avinash as the village terror, Babuji is loud yet colourful in the comedy pieces. However, Supreet is the only one that maintains a menacing villain fascade as the rest become characatures of comedy villains, easily forgettable loud ruffians or blink and you'll miss type Juniors. Manobala and Mayilsamy are worth a mention as the formery lanky actor utilises every chance he gets and the latter gives a new angle to toilet humor. Little Rakshana does her little bit to be cute.

Camerawork by S.Velraj and art by Rajeevan is apt for the city and the slum as they brings to life the little village of Devipatnam without moving away from the plight of the villagers and also transports you to world of theives with their loot, keeping it light and fun as well. If the imagery set the mood, the dialogue drives the story home. Penned by Siva himself, the seriousness gets a little predictable but he scores brownies for comical antics of the conning duo. On the directional front, Siva sets off sparks every now and then with some brilliant adaptation but loses it a little with a dragging effect. He cleverly starts the film with a screen card stating the film is set in Andhra but will have characters speaking in Tamil to maintain the essence of the village but some may complain about the amount of new faces that are actually from the Telugu industry. Overall they perform well and fill in the gaps as required.

However, Siruthai is far from perfect. If the gore factor maybe an issue for some, the length of it is bound to make you yawn. Editing could have been little more crisp [name unknown]. Siva made a few adjustments in the screenplay that is welcomed with open arms but its the same Siva that has allowed the action sequence to be so lengthy. To an extent he has a hand in Tamanna's lack of impact too. If her hamming was one probably the lack of depth in her character adds to it. Granted its a very commercial heroine character but in could have been filled out a bit. Another major disappointment is Vidaysagar's music. The once reigning commercial film music director that has some awesome tracks to his name, seems very lost off late. Rocket Raja and Raakkamma are strictly ok. Chellam was picturised well but loses out to easily forgettable lyrics. Choreographers please take note, if your lead actors hasn't got a malleable body type, simplifying steps isn't the only solution. In some ways, Karthi's physic is apt for his character but in others, the moves make it seem like he needs a trainer.

All in all, Siruthai is your typical commercial masala film thats made watchable by Karthi.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The Girl from My Past and Future

Can I talk to you
Is it a bad time
What do you think
You sure its fine

She starts to speak
As the words flow
She may not be sure
But wants you to know

And silently so
A bond begins 
And before you blink
There's a change within

Whats more to ask
In a lifetime like this
As we embark
On friendship bliss

Fights and feud
Dont change at all
But nothing is easy
Yet we have a ball

So friend of years
Its time to shine
Show the world
The heights you climb

Happy Birthday to my friend, cousin, foe and fan. You mean more to me than I can say or that I can show. Thank you for being there and I wish you all the happiness in the world, now and the years to come.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When All You Want To Say Is...


Leaves may fall and become new
As the day may bask in sunlight blue
A ruffling sound may skim the ear
Whispering a word softly and clear

The dulled shadow of picture so old
Or an event that may never be told
With time passing by with what shall be
The task of being will set you free

Like a bullet instantly shot to the brain
A reaction to wipe these tears in vain
How do you stop a memory from forming
As something simple starts without warning

Yet a road of flowers has been left
With thorns and petals in each breath
No wounds will ever stay the same
Those smiles are there for you to claim

Directly or indirectly, I've been witnessing a bit of suffering within the 11 days that have passed in this new year. Yet, I chose to think this too will pass. Life maybe short but the future is bright. This is dedicated to those that have been left behind, that have been set aside or that have to move on.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ragada Review

Commercial masala flicks have somewhat of an "easy-to-do" tag to it. A macho looking hero, a sassy leading lady, a villain everyone hates, a comedian that gets beaten, 5 songs, one of which is an item number, 4 fights, a twist and then the "The End" card. Yes, Ragada is of the same genre but I'd like to think that there is more to any cinema than that. And this is the same. Veeru Potla saw success with Bindaas, Nagarjuna needs one since Kedi didn't fare too well, Anushka and Priyamani are finding success in other states but still need to hold their spot in TFI. Add in some tap worthy tunes by Thaman.S and the chemical reaction is sure to create Ragada!

Ragada begins in true mass form with an intro in the form of a fight sequence. A fight that is between GK [Dev Gill] and Bagawanth [Satya Prakash]. Enter Satya. Hailing from Kadapa, he's street smart and fierce but that smile of his is just as deceiving as it is casual. Having intercepted and saved him in the brawl between the two rivalling gangs who work for one man, Peddanna [Pradeep Rawat], GK takes him under his wing but is more in awe of him than others. While things seem to go according to plan for GK with Satya aka Kadapodu around, problems arise in the form of not one but 2 women. First is Sirisha [Anushka]. Classy and intelligent, she is to marry GK but clearly has no intention as she flirts with Satya nonchalantly in front of Brahmam [Brahmanandam], an ex-con wannabe Don and also uncle to GK. The other is Ashtalakshmi who stumbles into Satya while being chased by goons. From here the movie will take you on a double-horsed ride as Satya falls for Ashtalakshmi and flirts with Sirisha while on the other side, the small friction caused by Satya for Peddanna becomes an all out war as Satya targets his men and last goes for him. The reasoning for all this? Is it really Satya's greed for money? All is not as it seems and the only way to find out is by watching the film.

I know I usually start with the male leads in the film but given my newly renewed admiration for Priyamani and existing one for Anushka, I think I'll start with the ladies this time. First one you will see is Charmy. No she isn't a heroine; she is the item girl in this. Haven't seen her in a while and she is back with a total glam look as she busts a move with Nagarjuna in his intro track. Welcome back, Charmy. Next is Anushka. Fashionable, sexy and cool yet has nothing much to do. I must say her pairing with Nag isn't new but not boring either. Boring would be here acting or lack of. She is capable of so much more and yet, the maximum emotion you will see on her face is during the songs. Regardless, she looks stunning. Priyamani is pretty much in the same boat as her but has more animated character, giving her a better chance to be remembered character-wise. Special note to Priya. Please, oh please, fire your stylist/costume designer. Clearly maximum exposure was the only thing on their agenda and it would have been ok if not for the fact in some circumstances, it makes the viewer uncomfortable [N.B. I wasn't the only one]. Now to the main man. Nagarjuna is the kind of actor that can pull off any character. His charm and personality on and off screen makes him lovable to all ages. As Satya/Kadapodu, he is an out-and-out rustic ruffian and plays it with ease. A special mention must be made for the accent. Brahmi darling, you are the shizzle! One thing about Brahmi sir I love is that no matter who the hero is, he can form chemistry with them so easily. And when it comes to Nagarjuna, there is no need for explanation, just watch the magic. However, both Dharmavarapu Srinivas and Master Bharath put up some stiff competition in the comedy department. Watch their on stage sequence as Dharma speaks in English and Bharath in Telugu. 

Although Pradeep Rawat is the main "baddie" in the film, he is hardly unique in characterisation and is annoyingly loud [dubbing artist needs a break or 10]. How one wishes we could see the silent, sophisticated and matured acting he displayed in Homam or even his comic side from Oy! Kota Srinivasa Rao and Supreet play typical goonda father and son, while Dev Gill was funnier than he was scary. This may have been unintentional but was amusing anyway. Tanikella Bharani was wasted in a tiny role but shines in the 5 minutes he is there. The rest of the cast is easily forgettable which is sad since Venniradai Nirmala and Latha are supposed to integral characters. 

On the technical front, Sarvesh Murari's camerawork deserves a special mention. Whether it’s Jordan, Greece, Bangkok or Begumpet, Sarvesh tackles it all with élan. He also has a special hand in making Nagarjuna look smashing given his age but kudos to the costume designer as well as he is dressed appropriately but remaining casual for the character. Action by Vijay is a treat for action lovers while the rerecording is apt barring a déjà vu feeling you get every now and then. Thaman has already shown that when it comes to upbeat folk songs, he is all over it. Ragada OST is no different however, not wanting to sound too brash and loud all the time, he slides in melodies like Sirisha that  gives the soundtrack a good balance. Besides Sirisha, Ashtalakshmi, Ragada Ragada and Suno Suno are sure to have you bouncing around.

However, Veeru hasn’t quite hit the bullseye on this one. Yes the movie is masala styled therefore no indepth story is expected but the biggest problem is that it gets predictable. The screenplay has twists and turns to keep you invoked but to a degree, we know certain things beforehand so when it drags, and it does on occasion, the audience’s patience gets tested. Also, as mentioned, the large number of villains in the film could have been a major asset. Instead due to poor characterisation, none of them come to mind at the end, barring Dev Gill but this may not be a good thing. Given that this is the same person that made Bindaas which I enjoyed watching and loved the twist at the end, it was disappointing that only the lead actors are in mind once the movie is over. Even then its more of a Nagarjuna movie since glamour is the main factor that is associated with the female leads when they could have scored majorly at least in the comedy sequences. 

So the final word: Leave your brain at home and watch it for what you see on the screen, Nagarjuna spinning his usual masala magic.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Goodbye 2010, Welcome 2011!

Another year, another decade. Its quite a year for me. So many hopes, dreams, ambitions, regrets and achievements. Even as the year began, I was clueless as to where I wanted to be at the dawn of a new year. And as a new year approaches, I still don't know. But I think the best part was not having a worked out plan in front of me. Letting life take me on a ride. From family to friends, each and every person I know has grown so much. I'd like to think I have as well. Yes there has been some regret. Regret of what was and regrets of what could have been. They will still remain I feel. But I think the new year will have a few lessons for me. Hopefully, the ability to let go of pain and accept change will be in amongst those.

No matter what anyone says, certain feelings do arise. People will say forgive and forget. People will say take it easy. People will say strive for the best. I have probably said the same myself. At the end of it all, and I mean when you stand in front of your chosen creator, like Ram says in Orange "you don't want to just have reasons why things didn't work out". It takes an enormous amount of time to understand life in its entity. I don't preach that I know it. Just sharing some lessons that I have learnt. So what if I got some pointers from the movies I watch! I have enough sense and sensibility [not referring to the film] to know that some things do come to an end and sometimes that ending isn't happy. Picture khatam, lights off! But what else can you do but live on. Whether its a fight, a break up, a resignation, a lost job, a demise, a failed assignment or a blind date gone wrong! 

I believe the new year will be full of secrets and surprises. Some that we will enjoy and some that may leave us heart broken. All you need to do, is take them on as they come. No baggage! With that note, I present to you, my painting. I named it "Time".

Happy New Year,

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