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Archive for December, 2007

Return Of Hanuman – IRREVERENT BLUNDER!

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

IndiaGlitz  [Saturday, December 29, 2007]

The importance of the three pillar of cinema – script, direction and editing – is not confined to live features but also extends to animation, documentaries and anything on movie camera. Nothing highlights this more than The Return Of Hanuman, a complete anticlimax after the pioneering and enlightening Hanuman in 2005.

Maybe, too late in the day, the producers realized this somewhere, so right in the beginning of the credit titles they clarify that this is not a sequel. After all, every sequel since 2006 has bettered the predecessor!

The importance of a director who knows clearly what he is doing is again spotlighted graphically. Director (?) and co-writer (??) Anurag Kashyap is least equipped to deal with the rather fanciful subject of Lord Hanuman wanting to be an earthly kid and being born in a humble family. With the right creative team at the helm, this could have been a wonderful exercise with high fun and novelty quotients! But he lets things go completely haywire, neither satiating animation feature buffs, nor devotees of the lord, nor fans of the first film and certainly not the international audience the film wants to target. In simple words, he makes a global laughing stock of Hindu mythology and the superhero genre!

For one, he brings in a convoluted semi-mythological angle where Shukracharya, the guru of demons, takes on the shape of the planet Shukra (Venus). Shukracharya curses mankind that it would be destroyed by a creature created by his own sins.

A very much adult Hanuman is envious of the fun some school-kids are having and after sight-seeing around the world to a very modern background track – the liberties taken here including the Statue of Liberty dancing away world and Hanuman bendings the Twin Towers so that the 9/11 attacking planes pass through!! – wants to visit Earth. Brahma lays down certain conditions, and his account-keeper Chitragupta draws out the printout of a contract from his computer!

Hanuman is born to a village pandit and his wife as a cute kid with a tail, a monkey-like countenance and an insatiable appetite that soon finishes every grain of food in the village. The funny angle here is not exploited well. Meanwhile a whole lot of dark things happen. There is a mysterious wall as high as a mountain behind which demons reside in the village. The pandit joins the many missing people (all shown with “Missing” placards on the mountain wall!) and everyone’s cool about it including Hanuman and the priest’s wife! Finally Maruti has to save the world from parlay unleashed by the demons, apart from the kid solving the problems of his schoolmates, including a kid who is an underdog.

The absurdities and irreverent things shown in the film are plain mind-boggling apart from being sometimes offensive in the desperate effort to be ‘with-it’ and appeal to a generation that should be educated instead. The script is painful – we do not mind Hanuman as well as his kid avatar Maruti using English words, but we must draw a line at cameras focussing on the behinds of mini-skirt wearing females cavorting to music, or Hanuman threatening to expose Narad’s eavesdropping on Lord Brahma’s romantic rendezvous! Then we have a chap speaking like Shah Rukh Khan and a reprise complete with dialogues of Gabbar Singh in Sholay.

By a little past interval you have completely lost interest in all the action, because emotionally, the film leaves you completely cold. I would recommend a strong dose of current Hollywood animation features to Mr Kashyap and his co-writer Amit Babbar. Leave your stone-cold dark noir content for all those overrated Black Fridays, Mr Kashyap! Go see Ice Age, Shrek, The Incredibles and so on!

Yes, technically the film is amazing. Though Indian people are as usual drawn with drab facial features, the actual animation has been superlatively done and the Toonz Animation team deserves high kudos. The background music is familiar but competent and the songs barely there.

And one final word to all those behind the content of the film – the liberties taken here can be only tolerated by the liberal Hindus. Try this with the other religions and deities and you will know what it means. If you cannot educate Indian children with our great mythological heroes, stay away and make another dark thriller or namby-pamby romcom. With his legendary magnaminity, Hanuman may forgive you, but not the audience. And very successive generation is bringing up more intelligent children whose tolerance level to sheer nonsense is reducing by the day!

Rating: ** (entirely for the technical team!)

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Preethi Eke Bhoomi Melidhe

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

Preethi Eke Bhoomi Melidhe – Deserved to be better
IndiaGlitz  [Saturday, December 29, 2007]

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Director Prem with lovely track record in his maiden film as actor has churned out unique subject in an opulent style. What is deserved to be better are the length, takings of the film, editing and music. He wins as a director but fails miserably as an actor. Why is ‘Love’ on earth the title of the film – ‘Preethi Eke Bhoomi Melidhe’ is a poignant story of lovers told in protracted style. What is lovely in the end is the separation of lovers who are actual lovers in the eyes of the audience.

Prem focusing on the ancient belief of ancestors looks unconvincing to the present genre. His carving of scenes to emphasize on such believes looks awful on screen.

Every boy has a girl on this earth is the new philosophy of the director in this film. But where are they? When they meet it is ‘Kalaya Thasmai Namaha’.

Chandru (Prem) an oily face, curly haired dark complexioned youngster making a paltry income from ticket sales in the bus station believes that he has a girl whom he had not seen on this earth. On the other side there is Sandhya (Namratha) who is told by his father that there is one boy born for her on this earth. The meeting of Chandru and Sandhya happens in the interval time but before this there is some deadly action scenes, friends of Chandru cajoling him and mother sentiment. When Chandru and Sandhya meet they have some vibration which they cannot express. A series of incidents that happens similar in both the life of Chandru and Sandhya sends a right signal to their friends but unity of these two should happen only through common friends. Chandru friend (Sharan) informs Sandhya on the development in the life of his friend while Indhu who is immensely in love with Chandru on a condition inform Chandru about the look out of Sandhya – this in fact guarantees both Chandru and Sandhya that further strengthen their believes.

At a place both Chandru and Sandhya wait for their common friend to surface and clear all the doubts. But it is very unfortunate that Chandru and Sandhya’s common friends Sharan and Indhu meet with a tragic accident. The lovers from the point of view of audience waiting to know each other after a long wait go back without explaining on the situations they are facing. They are so near yet so far!

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Director Prem should have selected a nice looking guy in his place to play his role. He is not a hero material. He lacks conviction and clarity. He has shortfalls in delivery of dialogues too. No doubt that he is a great director. His technical know how of the film is excellent. He also knows how to spend in excess from the pocket of the producer.

Namratha and Rohini have done a neat job while Sharan is highly boring. Ramesh Bhat and Paramesh are convincing and it is regular tear jerker for Archana in the role of mother.

The guest appearance of former CM H.D Kumaraswamy, Balagangadaranatha Swamiji, former don Muthappa Rai, Vinayaprakash and Ambarish does not add to the value of the film.

The appearance of Mallika Sherawat in a song number is lost in the crowd of people dancing around her.

R.P.Patnayak has once again given below average music. Only two songs – “Neene neene…”and “Chandamama” songs are worth hearing. A lot of strain and struggle is taken by cameraman M.R.Seenu.

This is worth watching once.

Scoring 6/10

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Welcome – IT’S A MOB MOB MOB WORLD!

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

Before we get into the review of this caper, let me go off at a tangent. When I read the cast, I ruminated on the following points:

Feroz and Anil last came together in the dark Feroz production Janbaaz, Anil and Nana were at loggerheads in the deadly Parinda, Anil, Akshay and Katrina featured in the dull love triangle Humko Deewana Kar Gaye and Anil and Akshay in another melodramatic exercise in drudgery Bewafaa.

So how will these teams break the mould with Welcome? Could they go to the other extreme and make us genuinely laugh and have a blast?

Then I thought of Firoz Nadiadwala, who since 2000 has only been making crime comedies (except for the gritty but unsuccessful Aan – Men At Work), never mind if they include terrible aberrations like Deewane Huye Paagal and Fool’N’Final. And director Anees Bazmee, who’s delivered a copy-that-was-better-than-the–original in both Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha and the hilarious No Entry. Will he be able to deliver in his zany style, that too with a Firoz signature too?

Even the three music director entities have collaborated in all permutations in the past, with mixed results. And while Akshay and Suniel were a part of four Base Industries’ films in a row and were missing from F’N’F, why is only one of them around this time?

And so I proceeded to watch Welcome, the latest in a long line of madcap movies (Partner, Dhamaal, Heyy Babyy, Om Shanti Om) that show that today’s audience want star-studded laugh riots unlike in the past when comedies were poor small-budget cousins with about five exceptions in 25 years!

And do you know what? Anees Bazmee, who unlike David Dhawan and Priyadarshan takes comedy seriously (as he has said often) delivers. Critically, you can sit in an ivory tower, laugh as much as the frontbenchers and the kids of all ages, and maintain your hard-boiled, easy-earned intellectual image by writing a condescending review. But the film, in totality, works – and works good.

And isn’t it ironic that I have troubled my brain so much thinking about a film that sets a trend of being advertised as a ‘leave-your-brains-behind comedy’? Why are they degrading their own films – and above all the audience? Why not face the truth and accept the axiom that Subhash Ghai believes in – that only intelligent men can make unintelligent films?

Yes, Bazmee keeps the characters and proceedings on a more or less even key, and Akshay and Katrina make for an eye-candy pair as they go through their turbulent love. Akshay is Rajiv, nephew of the immaculate Dr Ghungroo (Paresh Rawal) and Katrina is Sanjana, sister of mobsters Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) and Majnu (Anil Kapoor).

There is no conflict of interests: both Dr Ghungroo and Uday and Majnu want law-abiding, nice spouses for their kids (so to speak). So – where’s the catch? Well, the respectable doctor is aghast when he comes to know that his bahu-to-be hails from a parivar of pistol-purveyors!

And so begins the mayhem as Rajiv and Sanjana realize that they must bring the criminals to the straight-n-narrow path before their love can lead to the saat pheras. Dr Ghungroo, completely indifferent to the mafia samdhi’s threats, isn’t exactly the mob’s terrified victim. And in any case, everyone’s reckoned without RDX (Feroz Khan) and Ishika (Mallika Sherawat) who sashays in saying that she’s Rajiv’s childhood sweetheart and yet dangles a love carrot to the two gangsters!

We have read right from the launch of the film that Welcome is based on a Hollywood caper Mickey Blue Eyes, but then Anees always has a Hollywood blueprint for his films. But what is interesting is that it also packs in a slice of another Holywood-inspired comedy Shaadi Se Pehle (a film much before its time) and shares Mallika Sherawat and Suniel Shetty (yes, Suniel is there for a fleeting cameo to keep up the superstitious ‘lucky Akki-Shetty team’ angle!).

Let’s go to the flipside. Welcome is not perfect. Writers Rajiv Kaul and Praful Parekh work at a lower level of humour than Bazmee, and we have some corny gags, erratic editing and pace in the second half that Bazmee could have bettered by being solo writer. Akshay (he’s the crowd-puller, right?) has already become repetitious as the dour-meets-comic, but this time he is tepid compared to his co-actors. Katrina’s just eye-candy, but we cannot help think that she’s got a raw deal compared to her deft turns in the past. The music is of the (h)ear-today-gone-tomorrow kind.

And now for the film’s biggest plus-es: in that order Anil-Nana and Mallika. They simply lift the film with their scene-stealing acts. Nana goes one better than his image-defying act in Bluffmaster! and Taxi No. 9-2-1-1, and as for Anil, after No Entry he once again shows his perfect sync with Bazmee. As for Mallika, Welcome lady into the second half. Her sauce and spice makes up whenever the film goes loose at places.

So what’s the nutshell verdict? Go watch the film. Leave your brains behind to read this review. But don’t look for the uniform levels of either Hera Pheri or No Entry. They are classics that will be hard to better anyway!

Rating: ***1/2

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Puli Varudhu

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

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It stars with a dream. The dream of the hero Ramesh shows a mishap in a marriage hall. The ‘Thirumangalyam’ falls down in the fire. The marriage is stalled. Ramesh comes forward to marry the girl. A friend is sent to get a new ‘Thirumangalyam’ but he dies in an accident. The second marriage too gets stalled. The bride is dejected and kills herself. The dream ends.

It is a dream that comes when Ramesh is traveling in a bus to attend a marriage. He ignores it as just a dream. But he is in for a shock when he goes to the marriage hall. The friend of the bride is the same girl, whom he saw in the dream as bride.

The marriage goes on without any hiccup. Our hero, meanwhile, keeps on seeing many dreams. In the dream he loves the girl, whom he saw dead in his first dream. He starts loving the girl in real life too. When the love develops and leads to marriage, he is afraid that the girl would die as seen in the dream.

Did they ever get married? How does the hero tackle the impact of the dreams?

‘Puli Varudu’ is an idiom derived from a folk tale (similar to that of ‘Crying wolf’ in English). Debutant director G.V. Kumar has succeeded in narrating a wafer thin story based on the fear psychology in an entertaining manner. The proceedings are interesting and fast paced. The scene in the church is hilarious. The way the director gives ‘scientific’ reasons to the dreams looks silly.

‘Jithan’ Ramesh has portrayed the fear over the dreams well. He as handled the dilemma between the love and the fear very naturally.

Mallika Kapoor impresses with her expressions of shy and frustration.

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Karunas and Manivannan have done their part flawlessly.

Srikanth Deva’s songs are just about okay. The song ‘Ther Varuthu’ is an enjoyable peppy song. Sridhar’s choreography too has come out well.

Though the film has nothing special, it does manage to entertain with its fast pace and humour.

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Taare Zameen Par – OUTSTANDING ENTERTAINMENT

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

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Welcome (pun intended) to the world of Walt Disney in India! Yes, that’s exactly how Aamir Khan, debuting as director, and his creative team package the film, making a classic entertainer that does not bore a second at 18 reels on a subject as socially-vital as dyslexia. So all you Revathis, Farhan Akhtars and Ashutosh Gowarikers et al out there who think that social issues need dry and drab treatments get ready for Mr Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), a colourful arts teacher who – rightly and vitally – believes that every child is special, whether dyslexic or physically- and mentally-challenged.

And in this lies hidden the great myth about dyslexia, a disorder that spans a diversity of symptoms but is found only in children with above-average intelligence, imagination and emotional quotient. Taare… could have emerged as a cloying or crawling docu-drama without the colours in which Nikumbh and his favourite student Ishaan so boldly love to dabble. Instead, Khan uses his superstardom and his family tradition of full-on entertainers (his uncle and role model Nasir Husain) and his acting icon Shammi Kapoor’s mantra of universal connect to make a film that is vibrant and funny but stunningly moving and impact-laden too.

The top billing over the superstar to Harsheel Daftary who plays the clumsy, carefree, conventionally “duffer” and internally-suffering Ishaan is completely justified. The boy delivers a performance that can only be called stupendous, and no doubt a few more words can be added from the Thesaurus. Taare delights, touches, elevates, instructs and motivates both such children and adults who have to deal with such offsprings, students and kids in general, and full marks and more to the creative teams – writer and creative director Amole Gupte and his wife Deepa Bhatia who is responsible for the concept, the painstaking and authentic research and the compassionate editing that does not cut off scenes for dramatic brevity when detailing is vital.

View Taare Zameen Par  Stills

While the climax of Lagaan was set in a cricket match, here it is in an art competition, but the effect is as rivetting and cheering. Ishaan, the underdog, the boy who is a ‘disgrace’ to his parents, school and orthodox teachers with his blunders, low marks and aggressive behaviour blooms into the hero of the day, all because of the farsighted and motivated Nikumbh ‘Sir’ who waters this human plant with compassion, sympathy and affection instead of pouring reprimands, beatings, criticisms and ridicule on him!

The film takes care to paint the parents, hassled from their own perspective, as real, believable people who are ignorant of the enormity of the problem and where it can lead the loveless Ishaan. Ishaan’s animation diary is the masterstroke in the film (which has to be seen on screen rather than described) and the sledgehammer impact of Ishaan’s father’s second interaction with Nikumbh is another dramatic highpoint. Through subtly effective rather than in-your-face methods, the film spotlights vital points, like laws about handling dyslexics, the gifts of handicapped children, the lack of individual attention in schools, physical punishments, academic pressures of performance on small children and other rampant evils in the socio-educational fabric of Indian society.

Incredibly, the script even brings out dry facts in an interesting fashion through visuals and dialogues, and if cinematic license is taken in Nikumbh’s idealistic character, it is only to highlight how much better Indian children would be today if teachers and the system thought out-of-the-box even with normal children!

A word about the animation by Tata Elxsi – it is nothing short of fantabulous, and the same goes for the dialogues (Amole) and the outstanding lyrics (Prasoon Joshi) especially in “Maa”. Amole contributes here too, with “Mera jahaan”. The music (except for “Maa” and the title-track) could have been much better, ditto the background score. But Setu’s camerawork and Shruti Gupte’s production design are extraordinary and thankfully again, very ‘Indian film’ and bright. No noir or ‘mood’ rubbish here – the film is too progressive and bright for that!

View Taare Zameen Par  Stills

 

The rest of the performances are no less, even if some of the teachers are intentionally caricature-like. Aamir Khan is effortless, his artless performance in the more dramatic and intense scenes packing a  zor ka dhakka dheere se lage wallop. The kids are simply wonderful, especially Sachet Engineer as Ishaan’s bright brother who unwittingly makes things worse by his all-round genius and Tanay Chheda as the crippled Rajan, Ishaan’s best friend in class.

Here’s a film of which its makers and we as Indians can be truly proud. A film for every human being who realizes that the future of mankind lies in how he nurtures today’s children. If this film does not win any Best Film award this year, it will be the awards’ loss. For rarely have entertainment and message so exquisitely combined in Hindi cinema.

Rating: *****

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Mirugam – Powerful portrayal

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

IndiaGlitz  [Wednesday, December 17, 2008]

Director Sami’s Mirugam tells you the story of a man who lives like an animal and pays the price for it. It deals with the recent history when the dangerous AIDS infiltrated Tamil Nadu in the eighties.

While we can appreciate the noble intentions of the director in sending a strong message regarding AIDS awareness, we cannot help asking him about the relevance of such a message in current day’s scenario, where we see a widespread awareness on AIDS all over the state.

Moreover, while we do sympathize for the man for the agony he undergoes, we cannot identify with him, as he shows no sign of humanness in his behaviour. The reason told for his attitude is too weak to be considered. In short, the depiction of the character is powerful, while the rationale behind such characterization is not.

However, a film, any creative work for that matter, works beyond the realm of its apparent message and Mirugam too is not an exception. Though the ‘message’ has nothing new to the audience, the experience of such an agony of an AIDS patient and his family could be new and eye opener to many. The plight of the protagonist and the struggle of his family have been effectively told and that could make a strong impact among the audiences.

While the second half concentrates more on AIDS and its impact, the first half has no such baggage. The story is set in a village near Ramanathapuram, sometime in the early 1980’s. It narrates the care free and ruthless conduction of the protagonist (Ayyanar played by newcomer Aadi), who behaves more or less like as an animal.

Ayyanar does whatever he wants to do. He could get away with anything with his brutal strength and dare devil attitude. He is a terror to the whole village. The compulsive womanizer sleeps with sex workers and rapes the housewives. He beats up anybody including his mother who rubs him on the wrong side.

The visuals and the proceedings effectively show him as his stud bull, using which he earns his livelihood.

His brutal journey takes a turn when he meets Alagamma (Padmapriya), a tomboyish girl. Her beauty strikes him and he manages to marry her just to have sex with her. The girl revolts against his brutality but soon changes her mind after knowing his pathetic background. She then tries to put him on the right path by her love and affection but it is too late…

Ayyanar’s past starts haunt him mercilessly. He is ostracized by the villagers. He is slowly dying. Alagamma then becomes the one and only solace to his life till the death.

Director Sami has handled a serious theme with a serious approach. He has etched out strong characters and selected right actors to handle hem. The way he has shown and extracted performance from the newcomer Aadi is awesome. His visual sense is powerful. The man’s animal like behaviour has been told more through the visuals than the dialogues.

However, one wishes that he should have avoided the propagandist approach in the second half. The story revolving around the man and the girl gets deviated by the message on AIDS. Though he has told the plight and agony of the decease effectively, the propaganda is something uncalled for. In the process, the movie tends to become a documentary show. The scenes are redundant and the narrative becomes slow.

The climax is powerful but the director goes overboard by restoring to melodrama and unjustifiably accusing the public, who ostracize the man because of just ignorance.

Sami has conceived and executed some scenes very well. The initial scenes efficiently show Ayyanar’s animal like behaviour. The second half has some poignant moments. The one where Ayyanar gifts his bull to his friend is outstanding. The revelation of ‘Pump Set’ episode comes as a gentle breeze amidst a storm. The hospital scene too is effective.

Debutant Aadi as Ayyanar has made a remarkable debutant. His body language and dialogue delivery are excellent. His expressions are excellent. He has depicted the transformation of the character so well.

Padmapriya gets a meaty role and comes out with flying colours. Her performance has put her among the top performers in Tamil cinema today. She does amazingly well in emotional sequences. She has done particularly well in the hospital scene and in the climax.

Ganja Karuppu has provided the comical relief through out the film as the friend of Ayyanar. He has shown his histrionics when he meets his friend in a poor condition. The comedian has proved that he could also handle the character roles well. Art director Thotta Tharani has brought the villages of eighties live on screen. The sets, and natural lights used by the cinematographer add immense value to the film. Sabesh Murali’s tunes are lively. His background score adds the impact of the scenes. Na. Muthukimar’s lyrics, particularly in the climax song, deserve special mention. Overall, the movie is a powerful portrayal of a bizarre character and his life. The documentary like scenes, slow pace in the second half, and the unjustifiable characterization mar the efforts of the director. The visual quality, outstanding performances, amazing sets, and the background score work in favour of the film.

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Strangers – DECENT THRILLER – BUT…

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

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In a way, the title could take another dimension. The four principle characters (based in London) seem like strangers to Hindi cinema, or at least to what we have come to expect from lead characters. In an earlier, more stereotypical yet socially better era,  three of the four principle characters here could be called negative. But today, with writers and filmmakers obsessed with dark sides of human beings, with being non-judgemental and with spinning tales of “gray” men and women, we have a thriller made on three such people and a fourth character who, though a victim of both circumstances and spouse, is not portrayed as sympathetically as deserved but is the only positive one!

And so the four characters look as if they belonged to a foreign country – at a time when Hollywood is learning from Indian cinema and so many of their films (Meet The Fockers, The Holiday), emotions- and value-wise, come across almost like Indian films set in foreign shores!

It is for this reason that the film, in its story and in its script, faces a fatal hurdle – we do not feel for the protagonists and their ‘problems’ at all. Like many such films, we are made to look non-judiciously and even with empathy at cold-blooded manipulation and complete selfishness. But the audiences are not foolish. History has shown that there is a value-system among Indian audiences, unlike for foreign audiences, and they do not excuse even the selfish obsessed lover (Gupt) or avenger (Baazigar) even in a thriller.  

But while that’s the vital angle that Indians will not ignore, how does Strangers fare purely as a thriller? Taking a peak at the plotline, we have Rahul Bedi (Jimmy Sheirgill), a failed writer (shades of Manorama – Six Feet Under?) who is having problems with his wife as a result, and Sanjeev Rai (Kay Kay Menon), a management guy who has lost a son and so has an emotionally-disturbed wife (Sonali Kulkarni) who is getting on his selfish nerves. The two meet up in London’s tube and get talking. Soon they are revealing their life’s problems and the ‘main causes’ – their wives. And so comes an idea – why not help each other by killing them? Some wife-swapping, this!

But again, if you thought that this film had a shocker twist in the end, you would be wrong. Forget the (so-called) inspiration from Strangers In A Train, anyone who has seen the early 2007 Hindi disaster The Train (Strangers in The Train, get it? Ha ha!) and the 2002 flop Soch and have ruminated on the title (a dead giveaway) will guess the general pattern of the ending.

But the execution is reasonably competent in a stylized, technical sense, even if the film achieves the negative distinction of seeming ploddingly slow for even a 90-minutes runtime! And why have such a suddenly frenzied climax? Was it necessary to save a few additional minutes with such an abrupt change in the pace, like a tortoise changing suddenly into a hare? Or was there just the realization that the editor (the talented Sanjay Sankla) had taken a rest in the earlier reels?

View Strangers Movie Stills

But let’s be fair and look at the assets of this film that shine even among the fundamental handicaps. Manoj Shaw’s cinematography is almost award-worthy, though he has an unfair advantage as the film is based in and around London, simply one of the world’s most beautiful locales. The dialogues (I missed the name) are refreshingly minimalist, even curt, and thus just right for a cynical thriller. Thirdly, though the songs are largely insignificant (Vinay Tiwari of Nikhil-Vinay with Javed Akhtar), Vinay’s background music is not only apt but a pleasant change from the sound-effects-oriented clutter of the Amar Mohiles and the Salim-Sulaimans!

Aanand L. Rai’s direction is undeniably skilled, but next time round he must choose a subject and use a script that is more value-based and brisker too.

Finally, we come to the performances. And this is where the twist comes – my vote goes to Sonali Kulkarni who steals the show (if role and acting are not confused with each other) as Sanjeev’s traumatized and victimized wife. Nandana Sen is okay. As for Jimmy and Kay Kay, they are as usual seasoned and competent in their interpretations of their characters, but since the film at face-value is primarily about them, one must concede that they could have risen a little more above their roles.

Rating: **

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New year wishes

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

IndTiger.com and its subsidiries wishes you ard your family a very happy New year 2008 , let the year flood with all the Happiness.

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Year Ender 2007: Look Back at Kollywood

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

The year is ending but the movie mania in Kollywood continues unabated. The 75th year of Tamil cinema, 2007 has been an eventful year. Big films bit the dust, small films raked in the moolah, awards and kudos, corporates and Bollywood Khans teamed with Kollywood’s directors, new stars were born and directors turned actors.

Expectations rose drastically but did 2007 lived up to them? What sort of a year has it been for Tamil cinema? 105 films were released in 2007. The total production investment for released projects was around Rs400 crores. When including unreleased films and those under production, the figure could range between Rs 600 to 700 crores.

For the average movie goer it’s been a mixed fare. There were commercial entertainers like Sivaji, Pokkiri, Malaikottai, Vel and Billa on the one hand and films with unusual subjects like Paruthiveeran, Chennai 600028, Onbathu Rupai Nottu, Katradhu Tamizh, Mozhi, Kalloori, Saththam Podathey, Ammuvagiya Naan, Pallikoodam, Kuttrapatrikai, Evano Oruvan and Oram Po on the other. Kannamoochi Yenada heralded the family entertainer genre and the entrance of multiple corporate players. Polladavan appealed with its story of a man and his bike while Rameshwaram wove refugee problems into its love story.

The horror genre was revived with Muni and Sivi while Naan Avan Illai with its five heroines enticed audiences into theatres. Periyar, a biopic was well received while the snazzy flick Unnale Unnale infused new life into the love story musical genre. A film like Katradhu Tamil was produced by a Kannada producer while Inimey Naangadaan (the first 3 D non mythical animation film to be made exclusively in TN) received low media support.

Says producer KE Gnanavel Raja of Studio Green whose Paruthiveeran (296 days and still running) emerged a dark horse (with both bumper collections and awards), “It’s been a good year. Both big and small movies have done well. After 2005 (with the successful Anniyan, Ghajini, Chandramukhi and Kadhal) it’s in 2007 that business has grown considerably. Expectations are high from 2008 from Dasavatharam, Bheema, Vaaranam Ayiram, Kuruvi and Ayirathil Oruvan amongst others.”

As actor-producer Prakash Raj said at the audio launch of his ‘Vellithirai’, “It’s a momentous occasion that Duet movies, Moser Baer and Mirchi movies are making a film based on cinema in the 75th year of Tamil cinema.”

B Saktivelan, Distribution co-ordinator, Studio Green, cites several reasons for the upbeat mood. Says he, “The revamping of Sathyam Cinemas, the entry of Inox and the renovation of multiple theatres along with changes in lifestyle, brought in more audiences – making cinema a significant entertainment option for everyone.”

Vinod Babu, General manager, Inox, substantiates, “Marketing strategies like interactive red carpet premieres, Radio and TV promotions, Internet booking, NG pay via mobiles and home delivery of tickets have increased revenues. Varied content and easy accessibility to tickets has brought back audiences.”

Director Saran agrees, “It’s been a healthy year with a variety of films and corporate entities joining in.”

Moser Baer, Adlabs, UTV, Radaan Media, Insight Media, Mirchi Movies and Pyramid Saimira are just some of the biggies streamlining production, distribution and exhibition of Tamil films. New music companies like Shankar’s S Music, Prakash Raj’s Duet Music, Sathyam Cinema’s Think Music and the Times group’s Junglee Music launched in 2007, to produce quality music and break old monopolies, were set up. This augurs well for Tamil cinema.

Young actors like Jeeva (Katradhu Tamizh, Rameswaram) are excited about the quality of films churned out in the 75th year of Tamil cinema, “Overseas audiences have increased for films like Rameswaram. Refreshing films like
Chennai 600028 are infusing fresh blood into the industry. I am proud to be part of this change.”

But though technology, quality of films and experimental approaches abounded in 2007, better marketing strategies could have raked in profits commensurate with big budgets, feels R Ramanujam, Editor, TN Entertainment Film Trade Magazine.

Says Ramanujam, “Bollywood’s 360 degrees approach to marketing and promotion of content is absent here. For example, marketing strategies (like merchandising, co-branding and content packaging) could have made Sivaji a bigger success.”

Offering statistics, Ramanujam reveals, “57 new producers released films this year. But Kollywood has become like a tourist experience. Producers come with some money, make a film and then leave, as if they have come for a year’s tour of Kollywood.”

120 new screens are supposedly coming up in Chennai. But Ramanujam feels, “Many are in crowded areas like Vadapalani and Koyambedu. How will the city tackle new problems like increased traffic chaos and soaring land costs in these areas?”

Ramanujam sums up thus, “With 105 releases, it’s been a good year for cinema, modest for merchandisers and poor for producers.”

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Rock N Roll – A ‘little’ breath of freshness

Posted by harino1 on December 14, 2007

 

A simple story may sound easy to film. But it is not. It requires immaculate narrative skills to keep the audience occupied.

‘Rock N Roll’ is such a story. So simple that it can practically be condensed into a single sentence. Only an up skill task can make it an endearing movie that will make you laugh and cry.

‘Rock N Roll’ has a bit of everything like romance, action, song, dance, comedy, which filmmakers believe are essentials of entertainment. The simple storyline and a whiff of fresh air make the movie special, which otherwise would have been another run-of-the-mill routine. But even with all these pluses, the film fails to keep it going all through.

The movie, told in flashback, follows Chandramauli, a world-famous drummer who was a member of a team of six who came to Chennai to make it big in the world of music. But at a point of time of their accomplishments, Chandramauli goes international. He was not available for a long time and none could trace out where he was.

Grapevine had many stories like he was settled in London and married a black girl, imprisoned in Latin America for rearing marijuana.

Finally, Chandramauli was spotted in Mumbai by one of his old friends, Gunasekharan (Siddhique), now a popular music director. He was immediately lifted back to Chennai, by Guna who wants Mauli to give percussion support to his new song for a Lal Jose film. Mauli, unpredictable and easy-go, initially was reluctant to associate with such a ‘silly’ song but on insistence from his old friends like Violinist Issac (Lal), Keyboard player Henry (Rehman), Thabalist Balu (Harishree Ashokan), Choreographer Meenakshy (Shwetha) and Rerecordist Vichan (Mukesh), he goes on to play for Guna. Mauli who comes in only for a few days decides to take a happy holiday working together, again with their old friends.

And in the process he embarks upon a Mumbai-born, Malayalee singer Daya Sreenivas. Mauli, who never believed in falling in love, instantly fell for her graceful voice and character. ‘Rock N Roll’ then follows what changes Daya brings about in the life of Mauli and his friends.

The title of the film is misleading. Because the film is certainly not a racy laugh riot as the title suggests. And, at times, a little dragging sequences with over-built ‘Renjith’ian dialogues make the viewers intolerant.

But certainly the film can be passed off as yet another also-ran film. The light hearted plot has seemingly endless stream of gags and stressful jokes that pad the movie up and down and sometimes, slightly take away from the parts that work. Post interval, the film gets quite emotional and heavy. It’s here that the film tends to drag a bit. If you dig silly stuff, they’re here, but they’re an unworthy compliment to a flick that was meant to be carefully shot fun ride, which at least offers a difference in story lines.

The story is largely believable but goes ridiculous in many places like a world-famous percussion artist running after many, to get a song tuned and the introduction scene of Syedapet Giri, which we had seen umpteen times before. We can very well anticipate the ending, we know what’s going to happen even before it does. And even when it does, Renjith, with his huge experience in scripting, still could have made it better. But, most likely, you will pardon the director for these disregards because this is an entertaining film and is slickly constructed with a hip soundtrack by Vidyasagar and good art direction by Sunil.

And as usual, Mohanlal, the one-man entertainment troupe is definitely the highlight of the film. He is adorable with a pony tail and distinct characterizations, looks younger than before and rides the audience as a jockey rides a horse. His comic timing is spot on and his affable easy-going camaraderie with his talented co-artists like Jagathy, Siddhique and Co is pleasant and blends in seamlessly with the theme of the movie. Watching him perform is like being peppered by a Joke Machine Gun. Lekshmi Rai as Daya Sreenivas is gorgeous and gives a good performance all through the film. All others in the cast including Rohini as Nirmala and Anoop Menon as Vivek do their best to make the film a decent affair.

The other highlights of the film are good visuals by Manoj Pillai and slick editing by Ranjan Abraham. The film has some daringly different (in terms of Mollywood) songs by Vidayasager set in the lines of Gireesh Puthencherry. The pick among these songs is ‘Manchadi Mazha’, the title song soulfully rendered by Madhu Balakrishnan and Sujatha. And in the down side is the final punch song of the musical that could have been better and hummable to sustain the spirit of the drama. Renjith too seems a victim of the dialogue in the film which goes on to document that ”There are less film directors in Malayalam with a clear music sense”.

The  creators  essentially must understand that  a fresh backdrop, technical finesse and good songs alone do not make a good quality film, but a taut script that moves on to strengths is the absolute necessity. In a nutshell, the film has a breath of freshness with good technical aspects, but also a little clichéd fare with some entertaining moments.

Recommended for those, who like to enjoy a light hearted comic run without too much logic.

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