Showing posts with label movie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fallen Kingdom - Just monster mayhem

Do you hear that? That ruffling sound ? Scratching and heaving ? Its not an Indoraptor. That is the sound of Michael Crichton turning in his grave.

Well that is what I heard, while watching the Fallen Kingdom in a theatre. With this one, the series has fully entered monster mayhem territory. Except for a few frightening scenes, its largely a forgetful affair. I guess that's good, because I really want to forget I actually watched it.

Fallen Kingdom can be summarized as a monster movie where the monsters conveniently eat up all the bad guys. And the good guys survive, with minor bruises. If you watch all the movies in in sequence, you can see how the focus of the movie moves from  discovery, to wonder, to fear and then flat-out ridiculousness . Although they came out during the summer blockbuster season, the first two movies still had a heart. The man vs nature conflict was continuously debated, the characters were relocatable, and the animals were too adorable that the audience would actually want any of them killed. That changes with the 'World' series, then the new genetically engineered hybrids are so nasty, killing them off would be just that much more better. And I think that is not what Crichton would have wanted.

The underwater opening scenes reminded me of how Titanic opened, for some reason. That 10 minute sequence in the beginning is spot on. The darkness, music and rain heightens the thrill of it. But you can still see the shoddy,lazy writing here. The bad guys could have come into the park any time of the day. Instead, they decided that the best time to pay a visit is during night, with a thunderstorm in the background. You can see that the whole point of that scene was just to get them all eaten.

But then, it falls back into really lazy writing zone. Politics, and economics and what not. By the time they are back on the island, you get a clear picture of who all will survive and who won't. What, all of a sudden the volcano on the island erupted ? Didn't the park builders do a feasibility study on that risk ? And this is all nature correcting man's mistake ? All the creatures run in the same direction ? Thats just beneath the volcano ? Amazing. Now they weaponise the creatures ? To russian mafia ? What the hell ? That scene where they try to take blood from the T-Rex ? Absolute bullshit. Whoever came up with it has to be eaten by that indoraptor.And all the creatures fit conveniently under that castle ? They have already built huge enclosures for each creature ? Including the T-Rex ? And the old man had no idea ? Shouldn't the constant construction have alerted him ? Even the old lady had no idea what was going on . And by the way, what happens to her ?

There were numerous scenes paying homages to the original movie. Clearly, they were expecting the nostalgia to kick in. Like the scene where the huge brontosaurus walks into the midst of the crew. That scene clearly refers the famous "Its a dinosaur" scene from the first.  But this time they were thoughtful enough to add the huge sound of walking, again a reference. The scene where the indoraptor opens locks. And then on entering the floor, taps twice using its middle toe. That is straight from the kitchen scene. Also the scene where the kid tries to open the doors from a computer, but fails. And then opens the wrong one. There is again a scene where Owen shuts down the power in the castle. And then the kid reboots everything and, well, it was a stupid thing to do.

But the first scary scene for me was not the dino-eaitng-human scenes. It was halfway into the movie, when it is revelead that Maisie is a perfect clone of her mother. Damn ! Didn't see that one coming. This fact is revelead to Maisie and the audience at the same time. This opens up a lot of frightening ,ethical questions. Does a cloned human have the same rights a normal human has ? Can they bring back Hammond ? :) Ok, that last one never crossed my mind, but clearly there are ethical boundaries being crossed now.

But again, the focus of the current series has moved away from wonder and awe, to fear and loathing. It is just another monster movie now. There is nothing new to add, and the series has run its course. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Post. Relevant, but boring.


Yes. The 2017 movie. Directed by 'Sir' Steven Spielberg. Starring 'Sir' Tom Hanks, and that lady who has all the oscar nominations. I finally got around to watching it. Been very busy lately. And finally got a good print. This movie was tipped to win at least a few oscars. Ended up winning none.

I could see why it did not win the best picture or director awards. But I could not see why it did not win anything at all.

This has to be the most...hmm...boring Spielberg movie I have watched. No offense, but it is not the kind of subject matter young movie goers would want to watch nowadays. But it discussed a very relevant topic, that of the freedom of the press. That of accountability of the government to the people. This is a serious topic which will be discussed for generations yet to come.

Inspite of being boring, I loved it. It has the Spielberg stamp everywhere, in the direction, photography, the way people react, even lense flares. Yes, there is a scene when a kid runs across the street and there is a lense flare in the pan. There are some nice dialogues, and good charachters . Hanks again plays a nice guy,that guy can NEVER play a baddie. There is tension in the scenes, short war scene in the beginning was unexpected. And has great music. And since its a speilberg movie, you know that it will have a happy ending. The press wins, and there is a moment of triumph, highlighted by John Williams music. "The press was to serve the governed. Not the governors". That scene.

But the thing that kept bothering me the whole time was that, I felt they chose to tell the wrong story. It was not the Washington Post, but the New York Times which broke the story of the Pentagon papers. I really really really wanted to know how they did it. How did they research the material for over 3 months, and ultimately took the decision to publish it. Who where those charachters, what all did they stand to gain from it. How did the , allegedly, 'Failing New York Times' discuss their options and take the risk of going against their Federal government. And how did they react when a case was filed against them.

And , who the hell delivered that shoe box of copies to the post ? Was it somebody from NYT ?

But instead, we see a story of another press trying to keep up in the competition. And then alloting a lot of time to discuss the legal repercussions of what they are about to do. Not bad, but there is hardly anything happening there. At some point this movie was more about lawyers than about reporters. And the whole dull lighting and grey-color palette was off.

Today the media has a more active and faster role in spreading information, people no longer wait for their morning newspapers. They get it fresh off the internet, often spreading it via posts and likes. In the past few years there have been numerous instance of media barons NOT doing their jobs, or simply overdoing them. Spreading news without indpendently verifying them. The media back home in my my country are notorious for over dramatizing events and discussing non-relevant topics just for the airtime. So watching the story of people responsible in The Post thinking ten times before publishing underscores the roles reporters play in modern democracy. Yes, they have the freedom. But then they also have the responsibilty of reporting it neutrally, without taking any sides.

So do watch how they did it at the Post.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Panther


Another weekend. Lots of time. And nothing to do. It bothers me that all shops and malls in Australian cities close down sharp at 6pm, even on weekends. And only late night bars are open afterwards. There is nowhere to go in the 6pm - 9pm sweet spot, something we used to enjoy back in India.

A quick search showed that some movies were still open. Okay. So lets go there. And then we found there was hardly any choice of movies. Having read the rave reviews of Marve's Black Panther, we decided to catch it at the Crown in Melbourne.

The movie ? Meh. So-so. Things have come to a point nowadays that the only way to really enjoy a hollywood movie is to leave your brain at home. Marvel's cinematic universe is now larger than all the other sci-fi-fantasy stuff put together. And now they were moving towards secondary heroes, building up mythology in parts of the world other know, cities in the US.

So as long as you not question logic, the movie is good. Though I still don't understand how people are comparing Killmonger to The Dark Knight's joker. Naah, not even close. Whereas Killmonger fights with force upfront, the Joker was all about brains. And for me the revenge story didn't make sense.

Wait wait, I got carried away. That was the kid in me talking.

I also found it really really wierd that everyone in Wakanda talks in English ! In that slow, clearly pronounced accent. Jordan's killmonger is the only one with his american accent, which made sense. But it sounded like everyone in Wakanda had a honors degree in English.

And what was Bilbo baggins doing in all of this ? And gollum was there too. Gollum and Baggins in a movie out of middle earth. That interrogation scene, I half expected Andy Serkis to go..."my precious !!" there.

But I liked the story of the reluctant king, hesitant to do the right thing, because it conflicts with his own conscience. There are some profound scenes of reflection and dialogue there. "You are a good man. Its hard for a good man to be a good king.". You know, absolute power and everything.

But the reason people are excited  about Black Panther is because the demand for media that centers minorities is far greater than the available supply.



PS: I think this is the first superhero movie I have watched in a theatre ! And maybe the last.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A series of flops



Rangoon revolves around Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan), Miss Julia (Kangana Ranaut) and Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor). The film is set in the era of World War II. Contrary to all the hype created for the film, Rangoon soon ran out of the fizz and failed to make a mark. The film was made on a budget of INR 80 crore and satellite, digital and music rights were sold in INR 15 crore. So, to break even, the film had to earn INR 65 crore. But, the film could only manage to collect INR 21.57 crore at the box office. And hence, Rangoon turned out to be a huge debacle at the box office.

Ok Jaanu

Produced jointly by Karan Johar and Mani Ratnam, Ok Jaanu is the remake of successful Tamil film from 2015, Ok Kanmani. Ok Jaanu stars the Aashiqui 2 stars Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor in the lead roles. Made with a budget of INR 28 crore, Ok Jaanu couldn't even manage to earn to recover the cost of production. It collected INR 23.64 crore and hence comes in this category.

Running Shaadi

Adding to the list, next up is Taapsee Pannu and Amit Sadhs's Running Shaadi. It is a romantic comedy and revolves around three character who start a new website called Running Shaadi which helps couples in Amritsar elope with their lovers. Well, the film itself had to elope from the race of becoming an earner at the ticket windows. The film could only earn INR 50 lacs at the box office, but was expected to rake in around INR 3 crore.


Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, Trapped is about a guy who gets locked in his own apartment and the whole story revolves around his tactics of survival and how he manages to make his way out. Ever after Rajkummar Rao's brilliant performance couldn't attract the audience to come to the theatres. Trapped is made on a very low budget of less than INR 10 crore,  but would still struggling to recover that money. The film earned only INR 2.59 crore.

Aa Gaya Hero

Govinda's comeback Aa Gaya Hero had to return to the pavilion before even making a 10 runs on the field. The film was made on a budget of INR 8 crore, but could only earn INR 1.30 crore at the box office.


Directed by Abbas Mustan, Machine features Kiara Advani, Carla Dennis, Eshaan Shankar & Mustafa in lead roles. The film couldn't make a mark and even viewers weren't interested watching the film. Made on a budget INR 25 crore, the film could only earn INR 3.12 crore at the box office.

Anaarkali Of Aarah

Swara Bhaskar's Anaarkali Of Aarah was in news ever since it was announced. It made headlines for its tussle with CBFC and how the film's scenes got leaked online, But, none of these factors really helped the movie mint money and it ran out of steam as soon as it released. The film was made on a budget of around INR 5 crore and it collected only INR 0.80 crore at the ticket windows.

Friday, December 2, 2016

They destroyed Inferno

Been very busy nowadays, at a new job in a new role. So it was after a long time I got the time to watch a movie. Inferno. Yep, based on the novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks returns as Langdon. And Ron Howard as director. Which is why I was confused as to why they made this movie. This is the same team which made Apollo 13.

To be honest, the source material wasn't that strong to justify this movie. I was unimpressed with the book when I came out, and remember feeling Brown has lost his touch. In Inferno, the subject matter is not mainstream, the legends and history is not something which would attract public attention. The Lost Symbol, which had some American history conspiracy in it, would have been a better choice. Not many know about the importance of Florence, or have heard of Dante.

I think they should now stop making these movies. Brown's plots just gets clumsier , and clumsier. And now its totally predictable. Every novel has Langdon waking up in a hotel/hospital/room , being chased by police/secret service/FBI/CIA and bad guys/mafia/crazy cult. He is helped by a young , attractive and super-smart female, and the whole story gets over in like..24 hours. And I still don't buy the fact that Langdon is able to keep all those details of symbology in his head, he practically knows every work of literature created by the great artists.

In addition, they changed the story. Which was the biggest disappointment for me. In the book, Zobrist does not create a plague, but a virus which renders half of the human population infertile, so that there is some population control in the coming generation. But the movie version paints him as a foolish genius, who wants to kill people.

So right when I thought they could not go wrong with making Inferno, they have managed to mess it up completely.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016


20 minutes into watching this movie, I could feel the director's dilemma. How can one tell a credible story of a reformed criminal gangster, who now has a heart of gold, full of regrets, while still meeting fan's expectations of Rajnikanth, India's only true superstar. Well, he has mostly succeeded, but the director's ending , I felt, just ruined all the fun.

I have never done this, but it was my first Rajni movie, first day, first show. Don't ask me how I was lured, but maybe I just wanted to see what the hype and hoopla was all about. So I got to watch this movie from the 3rd row of an AC multiplex in Bangalore, at 9am on the first day itself. It was crazy. Fans were screaming, whistling, cat calls and claps. Grownups were behaving like kids. When we first see him, Kabali is a 60 years old, just released from prison, and he is soon surrounded by his loyal supporters, who now run a charity organization. But first, he visits the current leader of his rival gang and beats them all to pulp, for revenge.

This is the dilemma I was talking about. This contrast was too much for me to handle. During the first half, he is trying to find out what happened to his beloved wife, and just after intermission we find out that he has a daughter, and his wife is also well and alive. Ok, so everyone is alive. What is the need to continue this story then, when there is no need for revenge, the old man just got his family back. He should now just retire and spend the rest of his days with them.

Instead, circumstances cause him to return to his gangster way of life. More kills, more thrills. Sure , this is fun. But just when he has become the undisputed Don of all of Malaysia, the director decides to tell his story, and has somebody else walk in and kill him.

I could feel the shock of the audience when the credits rolled. No more claps, no whistles. I guess it was too much for them to bear. They all just walked out quietly from the theatre.

PS: That one hour flashback was like a one hour documentary. That should have been fully cut.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

And now they are going to destroy Ustad Hotel


After the Bangalore Days remake massacre, they are now going to remake the hit new-age movie,  Ustad Hotel. They are going to retain some of the actors, but it will definitely be localized a lot.

You can surely separate the creative directors from the business minded directors via these remakes. Remake directors don’t have the courage to put together something of their own. So they resort to remakes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Eye in the Sky


I didn’t go to office today. Didn’t feel like it. There was not much work, and its raining heavily across the city. The thoughts of navigating through those horrible roads in the torrential rain dicouraged me. So I stayed back, and watched another movie  :) . It is a British-American movie called Eye in the Sky. No, its not a poem. It is about a single day in modern day warfare. A day in the life of modern soldiers, and the buerocratic nightmare they have to deal with while following orders issued by their own countries.


It does not have the kind of action you see in Bond or Bourne movies, there is a lot of talk. In so may different accents. They just sit and talk and talk, but man, it is rivetting. The movie holds you at the edge of your seats till the end. You really want to see how it plays out. And gives you something to think about too. The general assumption is that technology has made modern warfare much more safer, and easier. These new age satelite video feeds and drones give the armed forces reach into critical places which where way out of their reach earlier. Instead of actually getting into a fighter jet , pilots can control drones remotely, and decision makers have much more time to think and act upon the intel they receive. But that certainly does not make things easier for them. In every war, there will always be collateral damage. And policy makers try to minimize that damage as much as they can.


So we have a bunch of British and American soliers co-operating a joint task operation to monitor and capture some terrorists in a friendly African country. And what starts a capture operation moves to a strike operation due to the change in the target’s location, and the presence of multiple wanted people there. Among them are three people in the Britishers’s ‘East Africa Most Wanted’ list, and two new radical recruits, one a British and one an American citizen. Looking at the new changed situation, the decision makers - a colonel , some ministers, the attorney general, quickly loose their confidence, and decide they can NOT approve the kill-operation. Thats when things start getting messy. They refer up , in their respective hierarchies, for approval. And those guys are spread across the world, and they too refer further up.

Fun fact- this is how most decision are done in my office :) .

When the green light finally comes in, after many more hours, the novice done pilot (this is his first time firing a missile) now develops crow’s feet, due to the presence of a very young local girl within the blast radius. This starts of another series of questions up the chain. Does saving the life of ~80 people who migh die in a suicide attack soon , justify the death of one innocent girl as collateral damage ?







There are some really hard hitting dialogues in the movie, around the cost of war, politics, and its aftermath. Sometimes I felt this movie was more of  a propoganda to describe how each drone strike is carefully evualuated, assessed , the pros and cons weighed, and finally approved. But other times, it made sense too. Fighting any war is not easy, even with all the advantage one might have, its human lifes at stake.



Star of the movie is that little girl playing hoops in this movie. And before I close, Alan Rickman, you will be missed. Snape’s acting in this movie reminds one of what a talented actor he was.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Dory - Splash of Fun !


The long awaited sequel to the 2003 animation hit Finding Nemo finally came out this week. And strangely enough, it made me feel young and old at the same time. Seeing the old fish gang back in action in the sea brought back fond memories. But man, I still can’t believe it has been 13 years since the Nemo came out. I feel old.


This is a fun, fun movie. Fast, emotional, funny and clever, it has all the ingredients which made Nemo a smash hit. But I did feel there were too many charachters and the story was a bit too complex, specially the (spoiler) truck chase towards the end was a little far fetched. For an ocean movie, a big part of this story is set outside of the ocean, at a sea-world kind of oceanarium. There are more humans than before and the fish gang seem just at home taking over the human world. Theres also a giant squid !! Some old charachters are back too, like Crush dude and Mr Ray ! Water is obviously a big deal in a fish story. But the water in Finding Nemo was just implied, something of an animation magic trick with the fish “floating in this virtual air,” But animation technology has improved in the last 13 years, allowing filmmakers to include all the complicated properties of water — from surface movement to the rendering of light rippling through the depths. It’s a stunning improvement.


But the stars of the show are the two Dorys, and Hank. There is an oh-so-cute little-Dory in the flashback scenes to show her childhood. And Hank, the octopus (or septepus, I don’t know) is Dorys capable partner in crime how helps her in the complex human world. As always , there are a lot of those visual gags and deadpan humor. While Dory played a not so helpful supporting charachter last time sometimes putting Marlin in trouble, this time she is on her own for a longer time. Her disability keeps getting in they way when she tries to find her parents first, and then trying to save her friends again. But thankfully, there are far lesser predators in this movie than last time, and every fish she runs into is friendly and willing to help.

Already there are reviews out which celebrate the movie focussing on the positive message around disability in the movie, and others are criticizing a part of the story which makes fun of  some other charachters which seem a little…underdeveloped. But I think one should take the movie for what it is, pure fun, aimed at kids. And to turn us grown-ups nostalgic. A whole new generation of kids are going to rediscover the strange amazing wonderful life in the sea through this movie.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kapoor and Sons


Have you ever went to watch a movie expecting something, and got something else completely ? I mean, there are lot of movies marketted and adverstised  with extreme hype, and then the movie does not live up. It would turn out to be dissapointment, or just your average movie, just marketted for the multiplex. Countless times ? Well I recently had this experience again, but completely in the other direction.

I am talking of the 2016 bollywood movie Kapoor and Sons. Lately all bollywood movies staring young actors are being marketted as young, party kind of movies, with lof of drinking, pubbing, synchronized dancing, bedroom scenes and filthy double meaning dialogues. This movie too has young actors playing the leads, and two party songs, and all the marketting was targetted at them. The stupid sounding club song, and a love triangle was the focus of all the ads. Due to this, I never felt like watching it when it came out. But watching it now on DVD, I am blown away.

I watched this movie without reading its reviews.This is actually a very good family drama. Of an Indian family living today, circa 2016. Not a privileged family living in a metropolitan city. But a middle class family living in the beautiful hills of Coonor , TN. Rishi Kapoor plays the fantastic patriachal grandfather. There is a father and mother, and they have two sons, born during the eighties. The eldest is a successful writer, the younger one is still struggling, but he’s almost there. They live in a beautiful bungalow in the hills, snuggled between hills, embracing the local culture. This is the kind of family everyone wants to have. A picture perfect family.

Except, its not. Like every family out there, this one too has problems. Family problems. Within the first 15 minues of the movie, we see cracks. The grandpa does not act his age, and always pretends to fall down dead ! The parents marriage is in choppy waters, he might be having an affair. There is friction between the sibling brothers. The elder , more successful son (Rahul, played by Fawad Khan) is the favourite of the parents. The younger (Arjun, played by Siddharth Malhotra), seems jealous of Rahul’s success, and of the extra love and care Rahul gets. There is some financial turmoil in the family. They all see each other very rarely. To the world outside, they seem like the perfect family, but personally, they would rather live separately.

And the story of the movie is of they learn to resolve their differences, iron out the issues, and come together again.

Grandpa Kapoor knows he is at the verge of death, and he wants to take a family picture with this family. This is the breakdown scene. Here, secrets are revealed, all wounds open, and some new truths are uncovered. The biggest plot point is that the successful elder son may have stolen the novel of his kid brother , and gained success after that. The presence of Tia (Alia) creates a new rift between the brothers. Harsh, the father, might be having an affair. And the mother is furious that his perfect elder son is in fact, gay. That breakdown scene is the centerpiece of this movie. It is setup, shot and closed fantastically. It starts to rain just after the whole family breaks down.

The story moves smoothly, the cinematography and background music complement each other beautifully. There is some melodrama, but nothing over the top. There are only a few scenes , about 7-8 in total, scenes at the home, some at the hospital, and some others in the hills. But they tell a wonderful story.

This is a really nice, relevant movie for India in today’s world. I would not call it a family movie, because some of the dialogues might make children uncomfortable. But its a must watch. Kudos to the director Shakun Batra, and the team for creating something relevant out of all that mess in bollywood today.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Jacobinte Swargarajyam


Yesterday I watched this new Mlayalam movie : Jacobinte Swargarajyam (Jacob’s Kingdom of Heaven), written and directed by Vineet Sreenivasan, and starring Nivin Pauly. I haven’t felt such a positive vibe in years watching a Malayalam movie. I went to the theatre unprepared, recent hectic work didn’t give me time to read up on it. And I was pleasantly suprised and amazed that Vineet Sreenivasan could create such a nice feel good movie. And the how of it is explained in the end. This whole rags to riches to rags to riches (2nd time) story is based on real life incidents, one of many people who lost money during the financial crisis , and that of a personal friend of Vineet. And I am sure for years to come, this people are going to watch this movie just to get inspired.


For once, Nivin is happy playing Jerry,the eldest son of Jacob, and he watches silently from the sidelines as Jacob (the fantastic Mr Renji Panikker) shows him how to run their business. He talks to Jerry as a friend, and shares his philosphy and hard work, honesty and perseverance is all that one needs to succeed in life. Jerry takes control only in the second half of the movie, where he proves that he too has his father’s business acumen and won’t give up without a fight. Jacob and family live a very comfortable life in Dubai, where he has built his empire of business. He is extremely positive, and is proud of his achievements, and wants his children to become even more successful than him. He helps the poor, and the entire family is god fearing.  His family is his everything, and he knows that when he loses everything else, his family will be his only wealth. When a family is so well settled and close to one other, what could go wrong ? And then the movie plays out exactly this scenario. His business contact cheats him of millions of Riyals, and his investors come knocking at the door wanting their money back. Jacob stands ground, and finds a way to make some money, for which he has to leave Dubai. in an very emotional scene ,he asks his eldest son to handle matters till he gets back, and leaves Dubai.

All hell breaks loose. Jacob in stuck in Liberia (I didn’t even know such a country existed). The police arrest Jacob’s wife, and Jerry. Though Jerry knows the business, the establishment is tarnished, everyone knows the company made a huge loss, so no one is ready to do busines with them. Jacob’s second son turns out, is a black sheep,and they have to sell all their properties to generate some funds. Except for very few friends, Jerry has no one to help him. The second half shows how Jerry is able to surf this tide, and slowly win back some business, and in the process, some more time from his investors. There are long voice over scenes, where Jerry recalls his father’s wisdom. Even when he makes money, his mother reminds him that none of this is theirs, it all belongs to their investors.


Even during this dark phase in the movie, there are fun, light hearted scenes and funny dialogues. Vineet inserts himself as another self made rich guy, who is the first to trust Jerry with a small business. Jerry gets a rare opportunity to diversify his business, and gets into travels too. There is another welcome cameo by Aju Varghese. Muthu, the youngest son of the family, is an absolute delight, and a little genius, per his teacher. And of course, the story takes place in Dubai, so there are many many scenes of the beautfiul city. The director intercuts the dark scenes with fun, humour and even a little stunts to keep the movie steady. There is no antagonist per se, but that charachter Murali Menon, looks scary ! He really looks like a baddie who can cause some damage.


In the end, it all ends well. The family’s hard work pays off, they are able to pay back most of the money they owe, and buy sufficient time for the  remaining . Jacob is able to return to Kerala, and the whole family gets together. But we already knew this, they were going to get through. The movie is about their journey through hardships, and how they find strengh in each other.

  • Casting coup. The entire primary cast, and every other actor are fantastic in their roles. TG Ravi as the driver, Sai Kumar as an uncle. And again, Murali Menon played in such a bad ass way. But special points go to…
  • Renji Panikker. He plays a convincing self made successful patriach, the ideal head of the family. So when he falls, you feel his paint. Renji Panikker’s acting turns out better than his screen writing (from yesterdays..)
  • Nivin does a superb job playing the eldest son , thrust with all the responsibilites of looking after his family. His humour is still on track, and cries and emotes as well.
  • I was never a fan of Sreenath Basi, but turns out , this guy can actually act ! …if the charachter is wrtten for him. His deadpan humour contrasts Nivin’s, and gets to show off his singing skills as well.
  • Lakshmi Ramakrishnan plays a caring well doting mom in the first half, and a brave mom in the second half. Even when she scolds, there was laughter in the audience, looks like no one can fight with this one mom.
  • The cinematography and backgound music was awesome ! There is nice use of music throughout, lots of piano, strings..that first Onam song was fantastic ! It was nice of them to focus on Onam , even though the entire family is christian. Jomon T John surely knows his craft , and is improving with every movie.
  • Vineet Sreenivasan has finally arrived as a capable, and smart director. Most of his movies featured youngsters, but shows finesse telling a family entertainer story. I still feel is a better director than an actor. Maybe he should quit acting fully, because there is surely a shortage of good directors.
  • Dubai ! The scenes of the huge city play almost as another characther in the movie. Its only the last scenes which take place in Kerala, and you can finally feel the background shifting from a metopolitan city to green country side. They also satorize the sorry state of Indian roads, and KSRTC buses, an 50 years from now when you watch this movie again, that joke will still work.


Go out and watch this with your family. It could be the best family movie this year.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Action Hero Biju - An ode to the Indian Policeman


I got to watch this Nivin Pauly starrer movie today, and I was blown away. This is without argument the first hit for Malayalam movie this year, and a milestone for Nivin, who turns producer for the movie, and Abride Shine, the director.  Its surprising how a movie can break stereotypes, yet still be a clean entertainer in this time and age. This is one of those rare gems you can watch with your parents, and kids, and still have lots to talk about when its over. TLDR: catch it at the earliest.

The movie is an unconventional-cop-story. Thanks to intelligent writing, the movie holds together spectacularly even  when there is no one single plot or one big villian. Every other cop-movie has the officer chasing down an underworld don, or a corrupt politician, or even has the Indian cop travelling abroad to solve their cases. Not Biju Paulose. He is  the town Sub-Inspector for Erankulam, and he plays within his jurisdiction only, as per the book. I say per the book here, because Biju even knows a few law points to back him up. The movie follows about one-month of a life of very dedicated and honest police officer, and his small team. And the myriad of colorful charachters you might meet in the city. And it is these charachters and their police cases that give us an insight as to what the life of an average police officer is like in Kerala (and the rest of the country too).


The screenplay builds up the intensity of the cases, it starts with a what is usually called petty-cases, a terminated employee not getting her promised salary, young law breakers driving illegal vehicles that sort of stuff. You realize that these might be called petty cases, but an officer cannot simply write them off, he has to give everyone the same attention, and same priority. Then the cases intensify, there are drug dealers, the gunda mafia. Towards the end, Biju himself ends up in hospital due to an encounter.

Star of the show, Nivin Pauly’s charachter of SI Biju Paulose is the uncorruptible , honest police officer. He cannot stand injustice. And he makes sure he dolls out justice to anyone in his jurisdiction coming to him for help. He does not care for ministers, or rich affluent people. He is the common man’s hero. But that does not mean he takes law into his own hands. Nothing illegal. As he says clearly in the movie, “its not about right or wrong, its about the law”. He is willing to turn the other way if the culprit is willing to compromise with the victim. But if the culprit does NOT, well, then its Biju’s way. Nivin changes tone all through the movie, he talks to the complaintants calmly and pleasingly, but if he finds anything illegal, he raises his tone and shouts down the enemy. He is not afraid to smack someone in the face, or use his favourite tool – the humble coconut ! If every policeman in the country were like this, the country need not have lawyers and judges.

What stood out:

  1. A bunch of new actors play the complaintants, everyday people in the city. Housewives, auto drivers, drunkards, thiefs, shop keepers. Everyone plays them convincingly, with enough lines. Lot of humour there.
  2. Sooraj Venjaaramoodu’s 5 minute cameo in the movie steals the thunder. His charachter Pavithran breaks stereotypes too. When he first walks into the station, he looks inabreiated. His complaint is that his wife left him for his friend. We, the audience, is convinced that is is Pavithran’s fault. Surely the wife cannot be blamed.  Biju calls them both to arrive at a compromise. The second time we meet him, we are in for a shock. Turns out, Pavithram does not drink or smoke. Is not a wifebeater or drunkard. He works hard for a living and provides for his wife and his only daughter. The 5 year old daughter is his entire world. But his wife was in love with somebody else the whole time. Pavithran is willing to take back his wife, and even willing to correct any mistake he might have commited. When Biju puts forth a compromise proposal to share custody of the daughter, is is revealed that the daughter was never Pavithran’s ! Sooraj’s acting to his revelation is simply jaw dropping. There were claps in the theater when he finally leaves the station in tears. Reminded me of that scene in Indian Rupee when thespian Thilakan cries holding on to a pole for support.
  3. The movie addresses a few threatening & relevant social evils. The officer talks about the suicide of a mother with her baby at a school function, explaining his point of view that it is when people lose courage to face challenges in every day life that they brink on suicide. He opines that modern life in luxury and care has made people weaker, and when they are not able to meet their goals in life, they give up easily. And the urge to overcome obstacles has to be learnt at home and school. As per official reports, Kerala has the highest suicide rate among the major states in India.
  4. The other topic addressed is the rising usage of drugs/intoxicants among youngsters, specially children. This can be seen as a cliche because Biju is never shown smoking or drinking in the movie, being a police office, one would assume otherswise.  He is againts usage of tobacco or drugs, and gives a like statement that the boys in the family have more freedom, when they should be under scrutiny too.

What did not;

  1. The most useless movie charachter of the year award would go to Anu Emanuel. With no dialogues, or anything to contribute to the movie, she was just there for eye candy. Her part could have completey written off and that could have improved the movie.

Stray thought: This is Nivin’s first joint production. He is really nervous with the venture. And thankful. The first 3 minutes before the movie is full of him and Abride thanking everybody he ever met on their journey to this movie. And special thanks was to Vineet Sreenivasan, who gave Nivin his first role.

This is definitely the first big hit of this year for Malayalam cinema. Off to a good start, here’s expecting more…


Nivin Pauly Action Hero Biju movie review Anu Emanuel Abride Shine police Biju Paulose preview hit

Bangalore Naatkal–audience reviews




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Here come the poorly made remakes–Bangalore Days




They have released the trailer to the Bangalore Days Tamil remake. And people who have watched the original are not happy. The rants have started on youtube and elsewhere.  The first thing that hits them, and me, is the wierd casting choices. With all the abundant talent in the Tamil industry, the choice of actors for this movie looks miscast. Bobby Simha stands out for being the wrong choice for Kuttan, and his dialogue delivery confirms it. And Rana plays Hulk in the movie. And that other girl, well her dubbing is all over the place. Its fun to read the comments on the youtube video, a bunch of tamil fans defending the remake, and all the mallus in the world sort of condemning it.

I am predicting there is going to be at least one dance scene which was not in the original. And maybe some unwanted stunts. But even with the bad casting, the story and screenplay is strong enough to see the movie through, no matter which language.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 in movies: fantastic year for sequels ; and to 90s movies


I don't watch movies very often, but confession: I watched more movies this year than ever before ! This year moviegoers got to watch the sequels to the movies of the 90s, a new generation of movie makers taking over the mantle.  From Mad Max to Star Wars, and Ethan Hunt to James Bond, it was a whole truckload of movies across genres and timelines.

The first such sequel which attempts to restart a 90s era franchise was Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, I still can't believe this movie came out this year, it seems such a long time ago.



The next feast to the eyes was the (probably) most awaited movie of the year,  Jurassic World.


The third biggest sequel this year was of course Star Wars: Force Awakens. I know the original did not come out in the 90s, but this is one of the earliest trilogies which came out, and millenium falcon was not scene for decades.


Many other franchises also released sequels this year.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation came out half-way through the year.


The 24th James Bond movie came out this year, named Spectre.


But the sequels, well they just kept on coming.

Fans of Fast & Furious got the 7th instalment of the franchise, Furious 7. The re-used plot lines to this genre was mocked in a parody film: Superfast.


The Marvel universe had multiple offerings this year, the biggest impact was via Avengers: Age of Ultron. They also had Ant-Man. But then they released the horrible horrible Fantastic 4 reboot, which was the biggest dud, and which some critics called a spectacular failure on so many different levels.



And hopefully the last of the Hungergames movies too came out this year.



And space junkies were gifted with another space movie, this time set on Mars.



I love animation movies, and this year turned out to be a feast for the child in me. (and you.) It is just me, or has it become easier to make animation movies now ? Multiple studios released long awaited movies using everything from stop motion animation to cutting edge computer animation.

Everyone's favourite animation studio, Pixar had a double offering this year. Two so very different movies set in two vastly different settings. First was Inside Out, set in the mind of a teenage girl.


But then, they released the Good Dinosaur for thanksgiving (thanks , Pixar !), where the story is set in an alternate history where dinosaurs are not extinct.


But this did not stop other studios from testing the waters either. The first animation movie to come out this year was stop motion from Aardman, Shaun the Sheep.


The Minions movie came out half way in July, telling the prequel to the Despicable Me movies.


Then there was the Peanuts movie.


And then…the monster movie Hotel Transylvania 2. Phew !!






But then , the year had duds too , proving that even time tested stories sometimes will fail if not properly done.The biggest dud of the year was the 100th (something like that) Steve Jobs movie. The clue here was it was loved by the critics :-)


And the spectacular failures of Fantastic Four reboot, and the Gem movie.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Man from Uncle


The Man from Uncle is a fun cold war era spy movie. Its a shame it did not get the publicity and recognition it deserves. Armie Hamers hilarious Russian accent is well, hilarious ! I think modern spy thrillers with huge bomb explosions and guns has spoiled audiences.

Good Watch !

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Martian - Second best movie of the year


Jurassic World is the first, obvi :-) .I got to finally watch this movie in 3D, and must say it tells a very realistic and believable story of Robinsonade on Mars. I guess it will be best enjoyed by scientists and engineers, people who solve technological problems every day, and even by anybody who has ever fixed a bike or plugged a leak. The director, Ridley Scott, has made movies across genres and timelines, but has been steadily delivering big budget duds, like Exodus and Prometheus. But in the Martian, he had decided to tell a simple story of engineering problem solving, and a man's resolve to survive.

First things first. Matt Damon, as the astronaut  stranded on Mars, nails it. He gets the best scenes and dialogues. And the supporting cast also does a good job. Matt's space cowboy role is much better written than Cooper from Interstellar, and the astronauts from Gravity. But thats mainly because he is still on solid ground (Mars) and has better equipment and state of mind. Instead of saving the world like Cooper, he is focussed on saving himself, wanting a little bit of spotlight on himself. He is also very logical and plans his actions without emotions getting in the way. While this means he approaches problems scientifically, I think it stops from his character development. And this is my biggest problem with the movie. During the entire 500 sols on the red planet, we never even once see/hear Mark Watney talk about his family, his friends, his hobbies..and what he misses the most on earth. 500 days alone without even a way to hear a human voice. It can mess things up. But Mark does not go crazy or suicidal. He works it out like a robot.

In Interstellar, decades have passed on earth after Cooper leaves and he is desperate to return to his kids. In Gravity, Stone wants to get back to her family and daughter. But Mark was no one close. Even in the end when Mark is safe on planet earth and is now teaching, he is seen alone, without a shot of his home or a partner, or what kind of music he likes. The only thing we get to take away from the movie about Mark's personal life, is that he prefers coffee. The book (which I am reading) tells us a lot more about Watney, that he grew up in Chicago, and likes beer, and that he is sick of potatoes. The movie does not describe his loneliness and isolation while being stranded 250 million miles away.

There are some spectacular shots of the Mars horizon in the movie, you gotta watch it in 3d. And the rescue sequence in the end is awesome. The ships are not overdone, they look functional and well designed. The equipment of the crew is what modern astronauts have. There is not too much jargon in the talk , on hindsight, this is unexpected. And there is almost equal coverage of the actions on earth and Hermes spacecraft to the scenes on Mars. But they could have done a little more, IMHO.

Gravity on Mars is only about one-third earth gravity (actually 68%). So it should have been visible on the planet. But the Mars visitors walk around like they do on Earth. Weird.

There is a huge time lag for electronic communication between earth and mars. Max 22 minutes. Even light,the fastest thing in the universe, would take 22 minutes to travel from earth to mars. But in the final rescue sequence, the crew at Houston is shown listening on the rescue in real time.

Mark does not fall sick, or injured during this 500 sol stay. After the injury from the debris, the staples himself shut, and there is no show of infection or side effects. Except for the passing out on the Mars Ascention Vehicle in the end, he is in excellent health ! Prolonged exposure to low gravity environments  should have shown effects on this health.

Mars is a low gravity planet very far from earth. Relativity tells us that time on Mars will be slower that of Earth time. What effect does this have on communication, and aging ? Nothing addressed.

But these are minor issues. The movie does justice to the book. Clearly the movie is about surviving odds. And solving problems. And team work. All in all, positivity. I am sure at least a few young minds will be inspired to take up astronomy as a career prospect after watching this movie.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ennu Ninte Moideen


Rain. Sound of thunder. Mellow background music. Slow motion. These seem to be the tools of choice of today's filmmakers. These were the first scenes of the 2015 Malayalam movie Ennu Ninte Moideen. I slept through most of the movie. But critics and viewers are calling it the best made Love story of the last decade of Malayalam movies. What really sets this movie apart is that it is based on a true-life incident. Most of the story depicted actually took place in Kerala during 1950s to 1970s (I think). The lead pair depict real life characters from different religions who fall in love the 'traditional' way, via pen and paper love letters. But are forced by society to stay apart for more than two decades. Sadly, there is no happy ending for them. Some say that the best love stories are the ones where they are unable to live together.

Honestly, this is an honest, well made movie. Made from the heart. Melodrama. It depicts life and society in Kerala just after Indian independence. The lead pair is excellent. The visuals are awesome. The music is perfect, and different. And all the characters depicted are believable and relatable.

But there is not much content. More than half of the movie is in slow-motion. Played at normal speed, the movie would be over in one hour. But the director decides to carry us slowly across 20 years, and there is slow motion of rain, river, water, sand, …This was about the time I began dozing off to sleep.

This could be Prithviraj's best role (choice of movie) till date, but I personally like his work from 'Ayalum Njanum Thammil' best. And who would have thought that R J Sarah from Bangalore Days could play such a polar opposite character ? The casting of this movie is perfect, thank goodness they did not include any of those sidekick actors.

On hindsight, it is remarkable how far the little state of Kerala has changed. Today, a couple from different religions would face very little problems if they decided to live together. Much of society has gotten over the 'stigma' of 'love marriage'. I see a lot of couples from diverse religions getting married, sharing pics on social media. Today's youngsters would have no idea how difficult things were 50 years ago.