Monday, October 31, 2016

Spotlight: Dulquer Salman

I watched this YouTube video a few days ago, and wanted to share it here. It's a well-made video. A tribute to Dulquer Salman by a fan.

I will be the first to admit that I'm prejudiced against Dulquer Salman. In my mind, currently there are two superstars among the younger generation of Malayalam actors --  Nivin Pauly and Dulquer Salman. During the Mammootty vs. Mohanlal era, I was squarely in the Mohanlal camp. And now I'm pretty much in the Nivin camp.

My bias against Dulquer stems from how he entered the industry -- he clearly took advantage of his father's celebrity and connections. There are so many people who struggle for years and never make it. But he just waltzes in and becomes a star overnight. I've always been the type who roots for the underdog, so that makes it difficult for me to root for Dulquer Salman.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Agraharathil Kazhuthai: A Must Watch Classic

Director: John Abraham
Cast: M.B. Sreenivasan
Year: 1977
Language: Tamil

I grew up hearing the name "John Abraham" practically on a daily basis. My brother was a big fan of his work and was enamored with his nomadic lifestyle. He was simply referred to as "John" in our house. Meeting him in person was one of the highlights of my brother's life.

I had heard so much about his movies during my childhood, but never got a chance to watch any of them. When I first saw a copy of "Agraharathil Kazhuthai" on a website a couple years ago, I was so excited. I wasted no time watching it, and I was blown away. I had expected it to be somewhat draggy, like some of the art movies of the 70s. I had watched some of Adoor Gopalakrishnan's and Aravindan's movies, and I expected that "Agraharathil Kazhuthai" would be in a similar vein. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lessons From The Malayalam Film Industry -- From Fully Filmy

I found an interesting article on Fully Filmy talking about the virtues of Malayalam Cinema, and it is a real ego boost for all Malayalees who love Malayalam cinema.

I had often tried to get my Tamil and Telugu friends and coworkers to watch Malayalam films, with little success. The ones who actually watched the whole movie, really liked it. But most of the time, they simply didn't have the patience to sit past the first 10 mins. I gave a Telugu guy a VCD of "Namukku Parkkan Muthiri Thoppukal". He returned it the next day, saying that he only watched about 20 mins or so. He said that it was too slow. I didn't push it, but I kept thinking to myself that he lost out on a great experience. If only he had been patient enough to watch the whole movie!

It's nice to see that Malayalam cinema is finally cultivating a significant fan base outside of Kerala. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Actresses Still Going Strong Past 30

This YouTube video talks about four superstar South Indian actresses: Nayanthara, Trisha, Anushka, and Kajal Aggarwal who are all over 30 and are still the reigning top female stars in South Indian films.

I was really excited to see this, because it is such a positive development. It means that beauty concepts in South India are starting to shift. Actresses past 30 are no longer automatically rejected as being too old to be a heroine. They are not second rate actresses either. They are the leads in some of the biggest movies being made, and acting with the biggest stars.

This is good news for women in India, because it causes an important shift in people's psyche. Women of the previous generation really believed that once they got married (in their early twenties), their life was on the decline. A close female relative once said to me, "Once a woman hits 40, her life is almost over; beauty is gone... health starts to fail... Look at me, I'm fifty and I'm good for nothing." I reminded her that Hillary Clinton, who was in her first Presidential race at the time, was in her 60s. She nodded, but it was almost as if she considered white women to be on a different planet. What works for them will not work for us.

This change in Indian society's attitude toward actresses is definitely positive. I hope that it will translate to a more optimistic outlook on life for the current and future generations of Indian women.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jacobinte Swargarajyam: Great First Half, Bland Second Half

Director: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Cast: Renji Panicker, Nivin Pauly, Sreenath Bhasi
Year: 2016

After I watched the trailer of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, I was really intrigued. I knew from reading some previews that the story was about a son who took over the burdens of his family after something happened to his dad. I didn't know whether the dad had died, or if it was something else. Since I knew I wanted to watch the movie, I didn't want to ruin the element of surprise by checking out the plot details prior to watching the movie.

The first half of the movie definitely matched the energy of the trailer. The casting was superb. The chemistry between the family members was superb. It really felt like they were a real family. It was kinda weird to see Sreenath Bhasi doing such a morose, withdrawn character though. I am so used to seeing him in comic roles.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Is Vineeth Sreenivasan Better Than Yesudas?

Let me begin by apologizing for the title. I realize that it's almost sacriligeous to compare a legend like Yesudas to a young singer like Vineeth Sreenivasan. Yesudas is undoubtedly a virtuoso singer with phenomenal technical ability and a voice that has often been compared to God's. It is unfair to even compare Vineeth to Yesudas in that sense. I am also as much a Yesudas fan as anyone else in Kerala.

However, there is a purpose to the question that's the title of this blog (besides attention grabbing). This morning I listened to the classic song "Pavizhamalli Poothulanja Neela Vanam" for the hundredth time. On the YouTube search results I happened to also see Vineeth Sreenivasan's new remix, which I had never heard before. When I listened to that, I just thought, "Wow, that's way better than the original!" I just wanted to stop what I was doing and close my eyes. I had the same feeling when I first heard Vineeth's rendition of "Aayiram Kannumai".  Am I the only one who's felt that?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Premam: A Masterpiece

Director: Alphonse Puthren
Cast: Nivin Pauly, Sai Pallavi, Anupama Parameshwaran
Year: 2015

I know, I know. This review is a little too late, considering the movie was released well over a year ago, and it has already been reviewed, parodied, and talked about to death. But I absolutely LOVED this movie, and have been meaning to write about it for quite a while. My current schedule forced me to push this blog to the bottom of my priority list. Hence the long delay.

I will undoubtedly be criticized by many for daring to call a recently released movie by a relatively new filmmaker "a masterpiece". But that's precisely what I believe this movie to be.

A google search yielded the following definition of "masterpiece": a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Om Shanthi Oshana: Delightfully Fresh

Director: Jude Anthany Joseph
Cast: Nazriya Nazim, Nivin Pauly
Year: 2014
Language: Malayalam

Has there ever been a Malayalam movie where the girl falls in love with a guy, pursues him relentlessly and wins him in the end? I am not an expert in the history of Malayalam movies, so I cannot say for sure if there has ever been a Malayalam movie with such a plot. (If anyone reading this would like to enlighten me in this regard, please feel free to leave a comment). I know that I've wished for such a plot in Malayalam cinema, so I was really excited as Om Shanthi Oshana unfolded on the screen.