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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