Monday, December 12, 2011

Critics: 'Beautiful' is a Winner

Director: V. K. Prakash
Cast: Jayasurya, Anoop Menon, Meghna Raj
Year: 2011

The critics are all unanimous in their praise for the V.K. Prakash directed, Anoop Menon scripted movie Beautiful. While some point to a few problems with the script, overall the movie has been well received and Prakash's narrative style is roundly praised.

Here is a look at the reviews from the major sites:

After much stroll around inconsequential scripts, director V K Prakash is finally into one that will give him that much elusive winner.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Casanovva: Another Teja Bhai?

Director: Rosshan Andrrews
Cast: Mohanlal, a bunch of beautiful women, a gang of young men played by no-name actors

Casanovva -- probably one of the most eagerly awaited Mohanlal movies in recent times. The two v's in the title, in case you didn't know, is just the numerology crazy director's way of trying to bring some good luck to the movie. I think he's going to really need it. The trailer has been released and it appears to be another one of "those" movies.

By "those" I mean the Teja Bhai genre of movies, catering to the hormone-driven youth. The testosterone level in Casanovva is Teja Bhai times ten. The main attraction of this movie seems to be women -- plenty of them. Young, beautiful, and nearly naked.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Violin: A Sob... er... Love Story

Director: Sibi Malayil
Cast: Asif Ali, Nithya Menon, Vijayaraghavan, Abhishek
Year: 2011

Violin is basically a tragic love story, with emphasis on "tragic". I have come to expect a minimum quality from Sibi Malayil films, and he delivers in this movie as well. But it leaves you depressed and that's not what you watch a love story for.

Even Romeo and Juliet, the archetype of the tragic love story, is not this depressing. It seems as if the hero and heroine are caught in a state of perpetual misery. Every time they see some hope for happiness, something happens to push them right back over the edge.

Asif Ali plays a village simpleton named Aby who has come to Fort Kochi for a job. He finds lodging at a house where three women -- Angel, Annie, and Mercy -- live without any male protection. The three women are the objects of desire of all the local men. The pimp living across the street is waiting eagerly for the day when financial troubles will force them into prostitution.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mammootty has no faith in his son Dulquar

Have you visited IndiaGlitz lately? Did you have a promo of Dulquar Salman's new movie launch shoved in your face.

I was blessed with such an experience recently. You couldn't get to the main IG Malayalam page without first seeing an ad about Dulquar's movie launch supposedly being shown live on IG. If you wanna read all about it, go here.

My first reaction was, who the f**k is Dulquar Salman? I quickly learned that his claim to fame is that he's Mammootty's son.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Remake Idea: Aaraam Thampuran

No, I'm not crazy. I have no wish to see that stupid movie again. But wouldn't it be fun to see a parody of that "classic"? As the viewers in Kerala are starting to reject superhero movies from our superstars, the time is ripe for such a parody.

I envision a movie titled Ezham Thampuratti (ഏഴാം തമ്പുരാട്ടി), starring Urvashi. Almost all of the scenes and "memorable" dialogues from the original should be repeated. Some modifications would be necessary to suit a strong female character, of course, but that should be easy enough.

It would be hilarious to see Urvashi romancing a much younger, poor boy (i.e., a male version of Manju Warrier) who looks up to her as a savior.

Mammootty: I'm Not a Superstar

According to a new IndiaGlitz article, one of our superstars has decided that he no longer wants to be a superstar.
Megastar Mammooty has requested all his fans to stop referring  him as a superstar. Mammootty believes that the word, as of now, has turned a little bit offensive, as many accusations are now inflicted upon the superstars....   [Read more]
How refreshing! If only he had had this epiphany sooner.

I always felt that it was all the fawning over Mohanlal that killed the brilliant actor in him. Maybe now he too will give up all this superstar business and focus on resurrecting his buried talent.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

City of God: All Style, No Substance

Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Cast: Indrajith, Parvathy, Prithviraj, Rima Kallingal, Shwetha Menon
Year: 2011

City of God is an admirable effort from director Lijo Jose Pellissery. It is obviously an honest effort at making good cinema, which makes it all the more difficult for me to criticize it.

While watching this movie, I kept feeling a sense of deja vu. It's the non-linear narration that gave me that feeling. It's a style that's in vogue in international art house cinema. I like non-linear narration -- if and when it is necessary to the story. And when it adds a new dimension to the movie. For example, the movie Memento is narrated in reverse and it gives an entirely different perspective than you would've had if it had followed a forward, linear timeline. The reverse narration is essential to that movie. Without it you won't get the climactic punch.

The non-linear narration is a mere distraction in City of God.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Remake Idea: The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid (1984) is a very cliched, yet powerful, Hollywood movie about a young boy named Daniel (Ralph Macchio) who moves with his single mother from New Jersey to California. The skinny kid with a New Jersey accent is a total misfit in his new school. He's severely bullied by the school's "surfer dude" crowd. But he meets a Japanese immigrant named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morito) who teaches him karate and helps him overcome his tormentors

Here's a plot summary from Yahoo Movies:
Daniel moves to Los Angeles from the east coast and is bullied by the Cobras, a menacing gang of karate students, when he strikes up a relationship with Ali, the Cobra leader's ex-girlfriend. Eager to fight back and impress his new girlfriend but afraid to confront the dangerous gang, Daniel asks his handyman Miyagi, whom he learns is a master of the martial arts, to teach him karate.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ivar Vivahitharayal

Director: Saji Surendran
Cast: Jayasurya, Bhama, Samvritha Sunil
Year: 2009

Ivar Vivahitharayal (ഇവര്‍ വിവാഹിതരായാല്‍) is a decent entertainer. It's one of those "message" movies that seems to be popular with audiences and filmmakers alike, but which I find insulting to my intelligence. Fortunately, the message is woven into the story for the most part, and the preaching is limited to a few - very irritating - scenes. The best thing about the movie is that the central character, Vivek (Jayasurya), is well-developed. That makes the story believable. Jayasurya has definitely improved his acting skills.

While the movie itself is rather entertaining, I was left puzzled and worried.

If art is a mirror of society, the picture this movie paints about the average malayali male psyche is really worrying.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Remake Idea: Liar, Liar

When I watch a Hollywood or other foreign language movie, I often find myself thinking, "This would make a great Malayalam movie!" So, I'm gonna start blogging about some of my "remake ideas".

 First up -- Liar, Liar starring Jim Carrey. You can watch a trailer of the movie on YouTube, where it's also available for rent.

Here's a synopsis of the movie from IMDb:
Fletcher Reede, a fast talking attorney, habitual liar, and divorced father is an incredibly successful lawyer who has built his career by lying. He has a habit of giving precedence to his job and always breaking promises to be with his favorite young son Max, but Fletcher lets Max down once too often, for missing his own son's birthday party. But until then at 8:15 Max has decided to make an honest man out of him as he wishes for one whole day his dad couldn't tell a lie. When the wish comes true all Fletcher can do is tell the truth and cannot tell one lie. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spotlight: Arun Elat & Vishnu

I was really impressed by the singing in two new songs. I had to immediately find out who the singers were. Those singers were Arun Elat and Vishnu.

The songs were "Swapnam Oru Chakku (സ്വപ്നം ഒരു ചാക്ക്)" from Best Actor and "Kannum Neetti Varumo (കണ്ണും നീട്ടി വരുമോ)" from Sakudumbam Shyamala (സകുടുംബം ശ്യാമള). Arun Elat was the singer for "Swapnam Oru Chakku" and Vishnu sang "Kannum Neetti Varumo".

Arun Elat
Arun's voice is perfect for the song. Music director Bijibal deserves credit for recognizing that Arun would do the most justice to his song. A Yesudas-style singer would have changed the flavor of the song completely, and not in a good way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reviews: Indian Rupee

Director: Renjith
Cast: Prithviraj, Thilakan, Reema
Year: 2011

The general consensus among online critics seems to be that Renjith's new movie, Indian Rupee, is one of the best movies of the year. Here's a roundup:
Ranjith's Indian Rupee gets off to a slow start, but within no time zooms ahead, splendidly bursting out into a deadly final knock out. The details are downright gripping, the asides sparkling and the setups almost surreal, so much so that it hops straight into the year's must-see movies list and scrambles right up to the top
[Read Full Review]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinema Karyangal

Today, I discovered a show on YouTube called 'Cinema Karyangal' (സിനിമ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍), which is broadcast on Amrita TV. This show provides a very informative behind-the scenes look at the Malayalam film industry. It's hosted by noted director Lal Jose.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Teja Bhai & Family

Director: Deepu Karunakaran
Cast: Prithviraj, Akhila, Suraj Venjaramoodu
Year: 2011

A piece of crap!

If there's a movie that deserves to be called crap, this is it. A movie is the product of many months of hard work by so many people, so I don't use words like 'crap' lightly. Even though I had read a lot of bad reviews, I didn't expect it to be this bad.

Prithviraj likes to say that he will only agree to a movie after he reads the full script. Really? That must mean that Prithvi liked this script. That says a lot about his sensibility, and the amount of trust we the audience can place in his judgment.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are We Over 'The Good Old Days' Yet?

You can hardly go on a Malayalam cinema blog or website these days without reading a lament about how much better everything was in the 'good old days' of the '80s.

This article from the Deccan Chronicle is another one of those:  Can Death of Creativity Maul Malayalam cinema? The writer is essentially asking if the death of so many talented technicians and actors will spell doom for Malayalam cinema.

Industry insiders like director Siddique and actor Jagadeesh answer that question by saying that while talents like Murali and N.F. Varghese can never be replaced, many youngsters with a lot of talent are coming up.

People everywhere have always wished for the 'good old days' -- some point in the past when everything was better. This is essentially a myth. Every age has its plusses and minusses. When we get nostalgic and wish for the 'good old days' we neglect the fact that the 'good old days' really weren't all that much better.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Malabar Wedding

Director: Rajesh-Faizal
Cast: Indrajith, Gopika, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Maamukkoya, Bijukuttan
Year: 2008

I watched this movie with very low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. The movie is based on a practice called "Sora Kalyanam" in Malabar, where friends play merciless pranks on the groom with the intention of embarassing him in front of his new bride. These pranks are usually payback for similar pranks played by the groom.

The movie opens with Satheeshan (Suraj) dreaming about a prank he pulled on Avookka (Mamookkoya) at his wedding three years ago. Now Satheeshan's wedding's fixed and he knows that it's payback time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Malayalam Cinema & Plagiarism

While surfing, I came across a list of plagiarized Malayalam movies at IMDb. That gave me the idea for this post.

If you go through the movies on the IMDb list, you can see just from the synopsis of the movies that the malayalam movies are vastly diffferent from their sources of inpiration. In most cases, only the basic thread is the same. For example, Ramji Rao Speaking was supposedly plagiarized from the 1971 American TV movie, See The Man Run. The synopsis for See The Man Run reads like this:
When some guys kidnap a man's daughter, they call to make their ransom demand but the number they got was an old one and that's been reassigned to another man. When he tries to call the girl's father, they freak out before he could explain. That's when he decides to pretend to be the kidnapper and get the ransom money from the father and keep part of it for himself.
Anyone who has watched Ramji Rao Speaking knows that this movie only inspired the sequences in the climax. The bulk of Ramji Rao has no resemblance to the American version.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Actors & Fans Associations

"The emerging big star of Mollywood, Asif Ali is saying that he is not interested in rearing fans associations."  - IndiaGlitz
When I read this bit of news on IndiaGlitz today, I felt very happy. This is exactly what Malayalam cinema needs. I hope more actors follow suit.

Mammootty and Mohanlal developed bloated egos after their success in the 90s. In their quest to become demigods like their Tamil counterparts, Kamal and Rajini, they formed fans associations. Or perhaps they just realized the power of such groups and actively encouraged their activities. Either way, by supporting these organizations, they helped to drag Malayalam cinema into the gutter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chappa Kurishu

Director: Samir Thahir
Cast: Vineeth Sreenivasan, Fahad Fazil, Remya Nambeesan, Nivetha
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

Brilliant movie! Chappa Kurishu reminded me again why movies are my drug of choice.  

The title itself is pretty brilliant from a marketing standpoint. As soon as I heard the title, I wondered what it meant. Even watching the movie didn't enlighten me in that regard. Nowhere in the movie do they even say the words "chaappa kurishu" (well... except in a song). 

In case you're wondering what it means, here's what I found on Wikipedia:
"Chappa Kurishu" means Head or Tail in Malayalam. Sameer Thahir says: "While I was writing the script itself, giving shape to the main male leads, Arjun and Ansari, i knew that they were the two sides of the same coin. So I thought of ‘Heads and Tales’ as the title. But I wanted it in the colloquial lingo. It's called 'Changum Chappayum' in Kollam, 'Thalayum Valum' in Kottayam, 'Raja Kozhi' in Thrissur and 'Chaappa Kurish' in Cochin. And I belong to Cochin."
"Two sides of the same coin" does not seem like the right analogy for the dynamic between Arjun (Fahad Fazil) and Ansari (Vineeth Sreenivasan). To me, that implies that they share similarities somewhere, somehow. I don't see any similarities. But their personalities do evolve in opposite directions throughout the movie, and meet at the same point in the climax.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Best Actor

Director: Martin Prakkat
Cast: Mammootty, Lal, Nedumudi Venu, Sruthi Ramakrishnan
Year: 2010
Language: Malayalam

A really weak title for such a good movie! I think malayalam directors should stop using English titles for their movies. The titles they choose (Best Actor, Loud Speaker, In Ghost House Inn, Notebook) tell you nothing about the movie, and can often keep you from watching an otherwise good movie. I almost didn't watch this movie because of the title.

Best Actor is about a struggling actor named Mohan (Mammootty) whose dream is to act in movies. His dream is the primary driving force in his life. He visits directors' homes on weekends and holidays to beg for a "chance". They all politely advise him on what it takes to be a good actor, and then send him on his way saying, "We'll call if there's anything that suits you." Tired of all the rejections, he takes a drastic step with hopes of getting a role in a new movie

Monday, September 26, 2011


Director: Mohan
Writer: Padmarajan
Cast: Ashokan, Idavela Babu, Nalini
Year: 1982
Language: Malayalam

I watched this for the first time a few days ago. What a beautiful movie! I've always been a big fan of Padmarajan. This movie reminded me why. While watching this movie, I felt like a fly on a wall spying on other people. I felt like a voyeur, because it was so real. There wasn't a single moment (except maybe for some reaction shots), where I felt like I was watching a movie. Padmarajan created some excellent characters and Mohan does the right thing by keeping things simple. It's good writing like this that made Malayalam movies the envy of the rest of India for a while there in the 80s and 90s.


Manikya Kallu

Director: M. Mohanan
Cast: Prithviraj, Samvritha Sunil, Nedumudi Venu
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

Manikyakallu is director M. Mohanan's second venture. His first was the hit Katha Parayumbol, which was built on a script by Sreenivasan. With Manikyakallu Mohanan truly struck out on his own -- he's credited with the story, dialogues, screenplay, and direction.

The movie is set in the village of Vannanmala (വണ്ണാന്മല), whose government high school is notorious for it's zero percent pass rate on the SSLC exams. A new teacher named Vinayachandran (Prithviraj) is determined to turn things around.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

24 Hours

Director: Aditya Sam Abraham
Cast: Kuldeep, Komal, Manoj K. Jayan, Devan
Year: 2010
Language: Malayalam

This was another movie that had glowing online reviews. Here's a sample:

24 Hours - Gripping
The new Malayalam movie 24 Hours is an impressive film considering it is by a debutant director Aditya Sam Abraham. Starring newcomer Kuldeep in the title role, 24 Hours is a well-made gripping thriller... [Read article].

Now Running:
Just when we thought the real thrillers had disappeared into the dusk, along comes 24 Hours with its sturdy barrels raking up a welcome din. The film is captivating and clever enough to keep us absorbed, and in crafting it, Aditya boosts the sagging genre and offers us an adventure ride that lasts for ninety minutes that's indeed worth taking... [Read article].

Overall, the film works for those who want sensible and racy entertainment. The technical values were excellent and with crisp performances from the cast, the film appeals to all genres of audience.
Bharatstudent Verdict : Well made thriller, recommended ... [Read article].

After watching the movie, I felt terribly betrayed by these reviewers. I know that from now on I will never rely on online reviews. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Plus Two

Director: Shebi Chavakkad
Cast: Roshan, Shafna
Year: 2010
Language: Malayalam

Glowing online reviews prompted me to watch this movie. After watching it, I had to wonder if the reviewers had seen the same movie that I just saw. Since I don't live in Kerala, and no one in my circle of family or friends watch malayalam movies regularly, I am totally dependent on online reviews to pick which movies to watch. More often than not, those reviews have failed me. They failed me with this movie, too.

I am a sucker for romance, and in my opinion, malayalam cinema has not had enough love stories. My favorite love story of all time is Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal. Plus Two is also a love story, but unlike the Padmarajan classic, this one is made for high schoolers.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Arjunan Sakshi

Director: Ranjith Sankar
Cast: Prithviraj, Ann Augustine, Mukesh, Nedumudi Venu
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

Like his first movie, Passenger, Ranjith Sankar's Arjunan Sakshi is a thriller with a social message: ordinary people who stand up to threats from corrupt elements have the power to change society. 

Prithviraj plays Roy Mathew, a young man who inadvertently becomes enmeshed in a murder mystery. When his life is threatened, he chooses to stand up to his harassers and fight instead of running away.

If you've read my previous posts, you know that I don't like "message" movies. This one is definitely preachy. I personally find it insulting to my intelligence to be preached to. I don't watch movies to be enlightened on political issues. That's what you read or watch the news for. Movies are meant to entertain. I don't find someone shoving their personal political views down my throat entertaining.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Director: Leo Thaddeus
Cast: Jayasurya, Rohini, Lal, Anjali
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

If I had a way of screening out movies I know that I won't like, I would have used that on this movie. This one would definitely not make it to my "watch" list for any reason. Not as a "must watch", or an "okay to watch", or even as a "watch if there's nothing else". 

Blonde-haired white women have become a trend in recent malayalam films. The creators of this movie must've decided to jump on that bandwagon. For the first 20-30 mins, we are shown a parade of white women.  These women are portrayed as idiots and easy targets for groping. As a malayali, the drooling (olippikkal) over white skin made me cringe. And as a woman, the illicit touching of these women made my blood boil. Men are shown taking advantage of the liberality of the western culture to abuse white women. Showing such behavior on screen is equivalent to condoning or even encouraging it in real life. How would we like to see our women groped in foreign movies?

Monday, August 29, 2011


Director: V.K. Prakash
Cast: Jayasurya, Kunchacko Boban
Year: 2009
Language: Malayalam

According to Wikipedia, this movie is "an uncredited remake of the 2000 Argentine film Nine Queens ". I haven't seen the original, but I'm sure this malayalam remake doesn't hold a candle to it. But since I watched Gulumaal without any preconceptions, I found it to be pretty entertaining.

I'd classify it as a slapstick comedy with a lot of unusual twists and a totally unexpected climax. Jayasurya plays an anti-hero character -- a con man with no conscience. Actually he's a villain, because he has no saving grace. But being a comical character played by Jayasurya, it's difficult to think of him as a villain. Kunchacko is pretty good as Jayasurya's partner. He is the foil to Jayasurya's character -- a con man with a conscience.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Salt n' Pepper

Director: Aashiq Abu
Cast: Lal, Shwetha Menon, Asif Ali, Mythili
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

This was one of the more interesting malayalam movies to come out in recent times. For a malayalam movie, this one can definitely be called "experimental".

Lal and Shwetha Menon play two unmarried middle-aged people who share a love of food. They "meet" accidentally when Shwetha calls a restaurant to order "thattil koottiya dosa" and gets Lal's phone by mistake. They get into a fierce argument with name-calling and such. They reconcile with an "apology" call. Thus begins a phone relationship where their conversations are primarily food centered.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Director: V. K. Prakash
Writer: Jayasurya, Skanda, Ananya, Vani Kishore
Cast: Lal, Shwetha Menon, Asif Ali, Mythili
Year: 2011
Language: Malayalam

I saw this movie today. I was very reluctant to watch this V.K. Prakash movie, because I did not like Police and Mullavalliyum Thenmavum, the other two VK malayalam movies that I watched. Although I loved  his English movie, Freaky Chakra.

Positive was written by S. N. Swamy, the writer of the CBI Diary Kurippu series. This is also a "whodunit" crime thriller -- think Agatha Christie. We are fooled into suspecting several innocents. In the end, the actual suspect is revealed and it was someone we never expected.