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.