THE CURIOUS CASE OF VIJAY SETHUPATHI


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I never intended to post this one but the Memes haven’t stopped. What is so wrong with Vijay Sethupathi doing 8 films a year? The trouble is most top heroes do only 1 film a year making it an industry norm but have they been successful in delivering a quality product with that 1 film is a huge question mark. If that one particular film doesn’t work it’s a huge burden on the hero and his choice of films. Multiple films give a hero the required breathing space. 

There was a time before the late 2000’s when our top heroes did multiple films a year. It’s a prevalent norm in the Malayalam film industry where even Superstars do 4-5 films a year even today. Then why do we mock a hero who consistently delivers in his multiple avatars. Didn’t we love Vijay Sethupathi as the no nonsense cop in Sethupathi ?  Even in Iraivi he was impeccable as the prey in a flawed premise. Ka ka po saw him lift an otherwise ordinary film with his usual charm. Dharmadurai was all about second chances while the recently released Aandavan Kattalai impressed all of us with it’s inherent simplicity. 

Isn’t it time to celebrate an actor who has been versatile with his choices. There’s another facet which we conveniently ignore. Almost all his recent choices have an incredible supporting cast with some outstanding performances even by actors who fill in with small roles. It’s a welcome shift. At a time when we are conveniently falling prey to hero worship by celebrating mediocre films where the hero is the alpha and the Omega. Vijay Sethupathi has managed to break all the prevalent industry norms without being noticed.

Both Rajini and Kamal have constantly advocated the 4-5 films a year philosophy with KAMAL leading by example by completing films in 30 days. If a stalwart can do so why can’t the younger breed follow suit ?

Before you mock Vijay Sethupathi for his line up of releases. Let me remind you one thing Our Superstar Rajnikanth did 25 films in one year when he was at his peak. I see nothing wrong in an actor’s attempt to explore various genres and at the same time fill his pockets while at the peak of his powers.

You needn’t applaud him but atleast don’t try to pull someone who is trying.

 

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PINK – MOVIE REVIEW


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Pink isn’t merely a film. It’s a strong statement. It is also a proof of the creator’s conviction in his craft. The film deviates itself from commercial trappings that usually hinder Hindi Cinema to dare the audience. Pink is a difficult film to digest. But the narration is relentless and forces you to put yourself on the victim’s shoes.

The opening act of Pink belongs to Taapsee Paanu. She surprises with an astounding performance which captures the fear, helplessness, anguish and the inherent strength of a woman being victimized.  After a brief sparkle in Baby she re-invents herself as an actress in Pink.

The second act of Pink belongs to  Kirti Kulhari  and Andrea Tariang who are at their best when forced to break down before the law. In more ways than this follow up is of utmost importance. It forces us to re-evaluate our perceptions towards the actual victim. It also shows us how vulnerable we can be when forced to take a stand before the law.

 The final and most important act of the film belongs to Amitabh  Bachchan and his famous baritone. Without his famous voice this would have been just another critically acclaimed film lost in the film libraries. But his presence elevates the film and gives it a whole new dimension. The stalwart underplays letting the girls hog the limelight. His experience shows as he battles own demons while fighting for the girls. The trick lies in knowing when to voice out and highlight the star performer hidden within. He stays in the background for most of the film making the audience wait and yearn for that moment of magic which happens right at the end when he begins the No means No closing statement and he makes a lasting final impression. He makes the final moments his own with a flawless finale.

 A big thumbs up to  Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Ritesh Shah, Rashmi Sharma Shoojit Sircar and team for taking a diversion from the commercial route and giving us a film which we needed. Pink never shies away from baring it all. It questions the misogyny still spread like an epidemic in our flawed system. It questions our moral convictions.

How easy is it to label a woman? We give her an identity based on our own perceptions. Pink is a film which has it’s heart in the right place. Hopefully someday reality too might mirror the actual verdict of the film. But we still have a very long way to go. But I wish, I hope and I believe a better tomorrow awaits the women suffering in silence.

My verdict – A perfect 5/5 for the intent and stellar performances by the lead cast. Go watch it on the big screen.

 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF MAMMOOTTY


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I just sat through the pathetic Kasaba and it raised a lot of questions within as a die-hard Mammootty fan.  The subtexts within Kasaba are so cringe worthy that I found it nauseating. I agree not every film has to have a message. But if the intent was to give Mammootty a stylish makeover why not do it with a good script.  And when an actor of Mommootty’s stature endorses such degrading themes it leaves a lot to be desired

Why does an actor of his calibre resort to mediocre films every now and then. It is definitely not the lack of scripts for Malayalam cinema regularly proves itself by churning out one good film after another. I agree the depth of the good old days is missing but still it’s top notch when compared to other South Indian Industries. Is it the lack of charisma perhaps ?  No absolutely not. The screen presence is still very much intact.

I relished Pathemari which showed us a glimpse of the Mammootty we had lost. He was the one who first embraced the new wave of Malayalam Cinema with Pranchiyetan and the Saint but after that he submerged himself in a sea of substandard films which were made just for the sake of Satellite rights and commercial gains.  What was the need to kill an extraordinary actor ? Since when did he become just one among the pack. 

There was a time when Mammootty and Mohanlal were unstoppable. But Mohanlal has cleverly blended with the times constantly re-inventing himself in excellent films the recent Oppam is a fine example. Mammootty on the other hand seems to have stalled himself. No this isn’t a comparison statement just the anguish of a hardcore fan who clings on to the hope that re-invention is just around the corner. I hope so. I desperately hope so. 

With the charisma still intact there’s a lot more Mammootty has to offer to Malayalam Cinema and I believe it’s never too late to re-kindle the old flame which made him a fine actor.

 

MONEY MONSTER – MOVIE REVIEW


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How do you dress up the mundane and make it look spectacular. Ask Jodie Foster. Money Monster is a bluff which works primarily because of spectacular star turns by it’s leads the eternally charismatic George Clooney and Hollywood’s pretty woman Julia Roberts. 

The plot – A clichéd hostage drama which we have seen many times before. You can almost predict every scene in Money Monster. Yet it’s a clever ploy by Jodie Foster. She picks a basic one line plot where the focus never shifts from either of them. And they do a very fine job of distracting you from the plot loopholes and the deja feel that every scene brings.

It’s a move which could have easily backfired for having an A-lister does not necessarily guarantee box office returns. Perhaps it’s a good lesson too. When you have competent actors who can light up the screen don’t mess the plot with too many complications. Just a simple one liner and a top notch execution would work just fine.  It’s only after the movie ends you realize that you have been tricked into watching another average Hollywood fare. But you don’t feel bad either

And now the big question – To watch Money Monster or not. Definitely a one time watch and a welcome diversion from the barrage of sequels and horror overdrive that we have been witnessing lately. As for those who love George Clooney and Julia Roberts it’s your best opportunity to drool over their charisma, skill and onscreen chemistry

My Verdict – It’s all about the MONEY. Go for it.

My Rating – 3/5 

LESSONS FROM RAJINIKANTH – PART I


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Identify and Retain your Uniqueness: What made Rajinikanth different from his predecessors ?  Tamil Cinema wasn’t new to concept of Mass Heroes. Yet he was different. What is the one factor which sets him apart. His SPEED which ultimately transformed into a never before seen dimension on screen – A STYLE Statement like never before. There have been numerous imitators who have shamelessly copied him in the hope of attaining the same glory. But he has been relentless giving us a new style with each passing film. All the rest of the heroes can do is watch in awe, applaud and play catch up.

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Age is just a number: Rajinikanth is in his late 60’s yet the aura is unmatched. Perhaps it’s an eternal lesson for those who admire him too. If you can retain the same passion even  when age when catches up with you then the grey hairs and weak muscles will merely be another hurdle for you to overcome and succeed.

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Never ever give up on yourself: We all remember the Baba debacle. There were detractors asking him to move away, hang up and retire. I believe some of them even make money out of his movies even today. But Rajinikanth answered them in the best possible way. He came back as stylish as ever delivering one of the biggest hits of his career Chandramukhi. And he gave a lesson for life with the now famous ” I am not an elephant. I am a horse.I will rise up quicker than you think”. He never gave up on himself.

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Appreciate Wholeheartedly: I believe there has never been a greater example of heartfelt apppreciation than Superstar Rajinikanth  in the cine industry. One anecdote which comes to my mind was quoted by PrithiviRaj who was basking in the success of Mozhi at that time. Rajinikanth had apparently called him around times. But PrithiviRaj didn’t pick up the call as he was busy shooting and couldn’t identify the caller. There was a call again later in the evening he picks it up to find the superstar on the other end of the line. The conversation made such a lasting impression on the young actor’s mind that he proudly declares in his interview that no one has appreciated him like the Superstar not even Mammoty or Mohanlal.

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Never Forget the people who shaped your life: Rajinikanth was loyal to his mentor KB till the great soul bid farewell to this world. We live an age where people easily forget and even push away the great souls who shaped our lives. But the Superstar was a living epitome of loyalty. The mentor himself is said to have been very happy that his mentee is the irreplaceable Superstar. 

JACOBINTE SWARGARAJYAM – MOVIE REVIEW


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Malayalam Cinema Industry – Perhaps the only industry which has consistently placed it’s faith on content driven films. After a brief lull Malayalam Cinema re-discovered itself through the new generation directors.  Simple themes with special emphasis on surroundings became the norm. JACOBINTE is one such film. It’s the journey of Jacob and his family as fate tests them with an unexpected obstacle.

Nivin Pauly once again scores with a sensible understated performance. He plays second fiddle without too much fuss.  Nivin ‘s success so far lies in how effectively he fits into the director’s narrative even if it means being overshadowed for a major portion of the film. Om Shanti Oshana , Milli and Banglore days are very good examples of the same.

Renji Panikar takes centre stage in the first half of the film as the inspiring dad. But he isn’t invincible. He is vulnerable which makes the character very real and endearing.  The second half begins and Vineeth deceives you once again. The passing of the baton isn’t direct and straightforward.  A towering presence disappears; the hero is struggling as we wonder how the story will move forward.

It’s the mother who takes up the responsibility of motivating the protagonist.   Lakshmi Ramakrishnan  gives a compelling performance as the mother. The shifting of responsibility from father to son is gradual which makes us relate to the struggles of the protagonist. The elevation at the end is a lot more sensible and leaves a lasting impression in the viewer’s mind.

The emotional bonding within the entire family is conveyed with a lot of depth as each of the characters go through their own ups and downs. Another major plus is the portrayal of Dubai as the land of dreams.

Vineeth Srinivasan and Nivin Pauly once again join hands to entice the viewers with an uplifting film.

My Verdict : One of the best films of the year. Do watch it on DVD if you didn’t get a chance to watch it in Theatres.

My Rating 4/5

 

                                       

PELLICHOOPULU – MOVIE REVIEW


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What a movie! Telugu cinema has sheltered itself within the pre- set commercial formula for a very long time. The prevailing star system has made it virtually impossible for the creators to experiment.

But every year there comes a film which reminds the creators that it is not too difficult to move out of the comfort zone and engage the audience with compelling story telling.  

On the surface Pellichoopulu is a rom com. But the difference lies in how it explores role reversal. The underlying message is so effortlessly conveyed that you barely notice the shift. The character arc remains constant throughout the entire narration which is a huge plus.          

 Of course influence of Chef is visible at places but the essence isn’t tampered too much. You are hooked from start to finish. Even the smaller characters do a fantastic job and the music blends seamlessly with the proceedings.   Kudos  Tharun Bhascker and the entire team  

An engaging and delicious rom-com and highly recommended for the non telugu audience.  

            My rating 4/5.                                                    

Do yourself a favour. Watch it on the big screen before it is removed from the theaters.

Next post – Jacobinte Swargarajyam

KABALI – MOVIE REVIEW


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I was fuming when I left the cinema hall. I am still fuming. Kabali – Very rarely does a Rajini film leave me crestfallen. Kabali just did the impossible.  Ranjith as a film maker fails big time. Neither does he stay true to his own sensibilities nor does he cater to the actor’s fan base and the end product is an absolute rubbish where you end up getting a film which is neither here nor there.

Perhaps it’s the lethargy of getting Rajini on board. It seems like the director forgot that there had to be a script to make the film work. I do agree that Rajini is the centre piece but what was the need for endless number of characters who serve no purpose. The film just made me bang my head in desperation. Was it even necessary to have the whole of Ranjith’s team on board ? Why couldn’t he choose the cast based on the script’s requirement.

Ranjith’s earlier works had a certain depth which made the Superstar choose him. But here he mounts Rajini on a shallow vehicle. Rajini gives it his all only to be let down by Ranjith’s  over indulgence. In his urge to showcase Rajini the actor he misses out on creating a perfect blend which would have made the story appealing to the masses.

The inexperience shows in every frame. What would happen when you hand over the reins of a star vehicle to a relative newbie. He is left with muddled choices. The entire movie seems to be a lesson on how not to make a movie with Rajini. He  suffers from the same predicament as chimbudevan in Puli.

The casting choices are weird. More often than not the strength of the protagonist is revealed only when he is pitted against a worthy opponent. But here they all remain mere caricatures who mouth over the top dialogues.

Ranjith did you actually intend to convey the anguish of the oppressed. If that is the case. Just reflect whether you did it right and whether you had the right cast at your disposal to do it the right way.

Of course there are few good factors in the film but those are very negligible. How difficult is it to write a story which would cater to the actor and the star who lies dormant within the SUPERSTAR. Where is the essence that made him a Super Star?

How long do we keep on exploiting brand Rajinikanth. The swag is still there. But the age shows on screen despite the greasepaint. Let him age gracefully while we re-watch his classics and whistle while he appears on the small screen.

To have an actor like Rajinikanth on board and not tap his potential is a grave error. Superstar is someone who is known for his good script sense. He is someone who can gauge what works and what doesn’t but of late the choices have been very weird and perplexing.  Are the people around him stretching him a little too much?   

Enthiran 2 doesn’t excite me that much. So I guess it’s time to say goodbye. As a hardcore fan it has been a long and entertaining journey from Raja Chinna Roja till date. You are a legend and an eternal part of my life. 

The disappointment of having watched one of the worst Rajini movie ever will linger on for days. It’s something hard to digest.

My Rating – 1/5.

Skip it.

 

THE BEST OF RAJINIKANTH – THILLU MULLU


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This is one Rajini movie that continues to fascinate me. What a brave move it was – To cast the angry young man of Tamil Cinema in a laugh riot. How was it even possible? Rajinikanth had to reprise the incredible Amol Palekar. No wonder we still hail K.Balachander as one of the greatest directors South Indian Cinema has ever seen.

The plot – A tale of dual identities. KB pits Rajini against an actor of Thengai Srinivasan‘s calibre and pulls it off with ease. There is not one dull scene as the laughter never stops. My favourite scene Thengai Srinivasan hurries from a party to meet Sowkar Janaki after an encounter with her twin. Is she really a twin?  Thengai Srinivasan rushes to confirm. Rajini and his sister are still looking for ways to cover up the absence of the mother. Sowkar Janaki emerges from the washroom as Rajini utters ” Aanalum neenga romba kulikringa ma”.  There’s no way this dialogue can be translated in English I guess.

Rajini’s career can be divided into two halves – Before and after Thillu Mullu. Rajini himself has stated that he was extremely scared to do a full fledged comedy and shave off his mustache but Thillu Mulllu gave him the confidence that he needed to excel in comedy scenes.

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Almost all his films after Thillu Mullu sees him filling the role of a comedian in the first half before changing tracks post interval.  Thambiku Entha Ooru, Annamalai and underrated Veera are a fitting testimony to his comic skills. There’s an almost childlike innocence in his comic acts which endeared him to the masses.

Thillu Mullu is an admirable ensemble with Rajinikanth, Thengai Srinivasan, Sowkar Janaki , Nagesh and Poornam Viswanathan. It is also the movie in which the two legends of Tamil Cinema Rajini and Kamal grace the screen together for one last time. Not to forget the inredible writing by Visu and music by MSV

Watch it if you haven’t. You are missing a classic.

 

 

URIYADI – MOVIE REVIEW


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I don’t remember the last time I walked out of the theatre shell shocked. It isn’t just a movie. It is an extraordinary social commentary by a first time film maker. Vijay Kumar gifts us one of the modern day cult classics. The plot – Caste Politics

The whole trick in the entire film is the timing. The film is barely 1 and half hours and he makes every second of those 1 and half hours worth it. There are directors who outsmart the audience. But Vijay Kumar makes his intent very clear from the very first scene. He reveals everything yet your eyelids never move. 

Even the hints are very subtle with random daily conversations engaging us in scene after scene. There is no gore or hardcore violence except towards the final few moments. In hindsight the director prepares us for one big final slap and when it lands you are left speechless.

The fact that Vijay kumar does this with an entire set of newcomers makes it an extraordinary feat. It shows the man’s trust in his craft. I don’t want to single out any particular cast member for praise for it’s a wholesome team effort. There are minor flaws but I chose to ignore them just for the intent and the execution.

There are people who rant that Tamil cinema has lost it’s charm including yours truly. But the director answers all with an absolutely gritty film. My faith in Tamil Cinema is restored. Maybe there are still filmmakers out there in Kollywood who pursue film-making with passion. Uriyadi is a moving ode to all of them. 

Vijay Kumar – Welcome to Tamil Cinema. We needed you just to remind us how awesome the final output can be when you pursue your passion relentlessly.

My humble request – This is one film which you have got to watch on the big screen.

My Rating – A perfect 5/5

PS: There’s a particular scene in BharatiRaja’s Vedam Pudhidhu. A young boy queries Sathyaraj what is your name ? My name is Balu Thevar comes the reply.  Balu is your name. Is Thevar your educational qualification ? Sathyaraj gazes at the boy lost for words. The boy speaks up yet again  I have reached the shore. When will you? Perhaps it’s a question for all of us to ponder “When will we”