‘Onnaiyum Aatukuttiyum’ is a Vintage Mysskinish Thriller!


I have watched many good movies and reviewed them too. For the first time this review will be in 1st person as I find it to be more appropriate to describe an experience. Indeed director Mysskin’s ‘Onnaiyum Aatukuttiyum’ was not purely an indulgence to get entertained but an experience to remember. After the colossal disappointment with his last movie ‘Mugamoodi’ which neither had the substance nor the style, I should say I was eagerly waiting for this one. And now 60 minutes after the credits rolled and @ 1 am in the morning, I feel this experience which lasted 2 hrs and 20 minutes deserves my burning of the midnight lamp to review it. Yes, director Mysskin is back to his forte and reigns as a ‘Master’ in this genre of movies. Just like it took the great Hitchcock to make ‘PSYCHO’ by himself, coincidentally this happens to be the directors home production.

To keep it simple, the travails of a hired killer in his attempt to seek redemption forms the crux of this brilliant script. Right from the first scene with a person shot in the highway until the heart wrenching climax in the basement of a car park, I was hooked on to it. With no commercial escapism’s whatsoever there was nothing to distract me in this riveting thriller. Thoroughly impressed, I was, by the leads of this movie – ‘Sri’ of Vazhakku En 18/9 fame who plays a medical college student and the director himself who plays the hired killer. The former personifies the meek lamb and the latter – the Wolf. I felt a similarity in the treatment to his Yudham Sei where all which the story establishes pre-interval unfolds to enlighten the audience in the 2nd half.

To me there is another ‘Hero’ in the movie. Though only behind the scenes his soul stirring BGM added a different dimension to this experience. Despite no songs at all, our Maestro ‘Illayaraja’ reminds us of why he is an ‘Isai Gnani’. After a long time, I sat through the entire credits to listen to Raaja sir’s composition. There are many many beautiful scenes which left a lasting impression in me, be it the first 20 minutes (or) the sterling climax sequence in the basement (or) specially the scene in the cemetery in which the premise to this chase is narrated as a story to a blind child and his parents symbolized with animals.

Verdict: While ‘Yudham Sei’ is still closer to my heart, don’t miss this gem for Mysskins midas touch!

Thanga Meengal: Graceful Living, Outside Water!!!


After 3 long years in the making and all the bottlenecks with its producers, finally director Raam’s golden fishes are out to swim not in water but gracefully in land though. My expectations from someone whose debut was the critically acclaimed dark satire on the Indian education system ‘Katrathu Tamizh’ was nothing more than a gratifying experience. Thanga Meengal was a surprise, for it was supremely Honest, Intelligent & Brilliantly crafted!

Seldom there has been a dilemma if I was to highlight the striking aspects of a film, however this movie had a surprise factor in that too. Each and every aspect of this piece of art was outstanding, be it the content, the directorial craft, the acting, the music and most importantly the cinematography. If my prognostications were to hit bulls eye, director Raam’s ‘Thanga Meengal’ is up to grab many State awards this year.

The script and the characters woven in it are a class apart. As an almost good for nothing father with his cherubic daughter, devout wife, loving yet disappointed parents, director Raam has hit bulls eye both as a director and an actor with his this story – Once again an ode to education but this time around a deeper sense of the word ‘Education’. If you liked his scenes in ‘Katrathu Tamizh’, then you are in for much more in his Thanga Meengal. Scenes such as the one in which the daughter is asked to choose between her father’s cycle or grandfathers car in the ride back home from school or the one in which he explains to his daughter about the fantasical gold fishes in front of the pond (hauntingly visualized by Arabhindu Saara) or the climax for that matter were all superlative.

Yuvan Shankar Raja has probably scored one of the best albums of the year specially his ‘Ananda Yazhai’ sung by Sriram Parthasarathy which sounds divine. Along with all this comes Arabhindu Saara’s breathtaking cinematography which is to win accolades with many well know jury’s.

Verdict: These golden fishes deserve an audience for they are a delight to watch!

Madras Cafe: Delicious Cuppa indeed!

It’s been a while now since we’ve seen a movie dealing with a real warring political issue blending both Facts & Fiction with such intrigue. Director Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Madras Cafe’ precisely does that in his well researched portrayal of the Lankan crisis which had plagued the nation for a while in the governments hunt for the Tigers in their ‘from genuine to brutal’ quest of the Ealam. Surprisingly the director takes up this premise for his 2nd venture, diametrically opposite to his rib tickling humor in Vicky Donor and ends up giving you a engaging political thriller.

Set in a flash back narrative mode, the 1st half of the movie is very interesting deep diving into most aspects of the Lankan issue which eventually led to the assassination of the then EX-PM of India. Be it the description of the Lankan political scene i.e. the emergence of LTF (symbolizing the LTTE), the stance taken by the SriLankan government, the internal alliances (or) the role of the Indian peace keeping force, the changing aspirations of each of them leading to dreaded double standards, the director establishes a fantastic context for a delicious thriller post intermission.

What follows is a thrilling cat and mouse game between the LTF, Lankan government, Indian Govt & the RAW which cruises to an all known finale. While the cast and crew have executed the directors vision to clinical perfection, the ‘Casting’ team itself deserves a special praise for the faces which have been chosen to symbolize both these real & fictitious characters. There is this constant ‘unknown-ness’ which adds to thrill in the screenplay. My favorites were ‘Anna’ (the name for the rebellious LTTE chief Prabhakaran) played Ajay Ratnam who is a known face in the Kollywood fraternity and Siddhartha Basu (the prominent quiz master of BBC’s ‘Mastermind’) as ‘RD’ – RAW’s senior officer.

A refreshing break this for John Abraham and the audience who are tired of seeing him play inconsequential roles leaving an impression this time around. Nagris Fakhri as the english speaking Indo-Brit journalist is adequate too. the The gripping screenplay, haunting BGM and good cinematography also complement this well etched story line.

However, what this movie misses out is a binding underlying emotion which despite the directors conscious effort to bring in is not effective.
A more reflective look into the lives on the LTF rebels, the RAW agents and the issue itself could have taken the movie into a different dimension altogether. Another mistake though negligible is on the Tamil dialect used by the Lankan Tamils in movie which resembles the one spoken in Tamil Nadu and not their native.

Verdict: Go grab a cup right away!

Chennai Express: Chi Thu Po!!!


’11 fools are playing and 11000 thousand fools are watching’ – were the words of the Irish Nobel laureate and Oscar winning playwright, the great George Bernard Shaw. This was his inventive description of the game of cricket. While I wholeheartedly dismiss his this claim hailing from the land which knows only Cricket to be a definition of the word ‘Sport’, I would with regret rephrase his line for reasons which you’re to know soon. ‘Just 2 fools are acting and more than 11 million fools are watching, with many more to follow’. Certainly with regret as I was one of those. Yes, this is what director Rohit Shetty makes of you in his latest nonsensical venture ‘Chennai Express’.

In an attempt to make a Bollywood movie in a completely South Indian milieu i.e. with Tamil Nadu to be precise, all that the crew manages is a movie which is no way authentic in its depiction of the Tamilian sterotypes and just a big bore. If you had no clue about the Tamilian way of life and ended up watching Chennai Express, you would expect everyone in Tamil Nadu including women to be wearing ‘Lungi’s’ that too folded above the knees and each one calling the other ‘Anna’. Most importantly- All Tamil women clad in beautiful sari’s explicitly showing their bosoms. After 28 years of a ‘Madraasi’ existence I’ve not yet found even a handful of our women with such a sari fashion quotient. Director ji zara batayiye kahan dheke aise saadi pehne huye tamil ladkiyan (Translates to: Respectful director please tell us where did you see Tamil women clad in a sari as shown in your movie)

After writing this review, I am in serious contemplation of penning a letter to Pranab Da, the honorable president of India who was the key behind the hangings of Afzal and Kasab. Just a snippet: ‘Respected Sir, I would like you to approve the hangings of 3 more anti social elements who are in disguise of film actors and director for their brutal murder of an age old rich language by the name ‘Tamil’. I am sure you would identify the elements if you happened to see the movie ‘Chennai Express’ and I leave the choice to you sir. But in the best interest of your time being the president of our country, I will name them ‘Drunkard Stadium mob: Shah Rukh Khan’, ‘The ex lover of Ranbir Kapoor, Sidharth Malya and many more to follow: Deepika Padukone’ and last but not the least ‘Self proclaimed Action king: Rohit Shetty’.

This is a very unique movie in another sense too. The best part of it is reserved for the audience after the credits. Oh yes the ‘LUNGI DANCE’. A complete mockery of the taste of its audience and the Tamil superstar Rajnikanth. While the latter seems to deserve this owing to the fanaticism for which he has been a reason, for the audience however this is a final nail in the coffin.


Lootera: In a league of it’s own!


This memory is green: Close to 3 years back it was a Friday and like most the mind craved to enjoy the 48 hour break from the corporate lunatics. While it was a routine affair for me to identify the celluloidal releases for the week to quench this hunger, I read this review from one of the most revered Indian film critics (http://www.rajeevmasand.com/reviews/our-films/one-from-the-heart/). After an emphatic thump of the ‘Ctr’, ‘Alt’ & ‘Del’ buttons in my computer, off I was in a flash to find myself queuing to get the tickets for the movie. It was ‘Udaan’ directed by the debutante Vikramaditya Motwane and based on real life incidents of another master craftsmen in Bollywood, Anurag Kashyap. It was a scintillating 140 minutes.

And today, as I strolled down the aisles to step out of the theater, all that my spaced out mind was left with was Pakhi Roy chaudary, Varun Srivastava & their beautiful love story. Yes, they are the wonderfully crafted characters in Motwane’s second outing ‘Lootera’. Based on O’Henry’s 1907 short story ‘The Last Leaf’, Lootera is an aesthetically presented & wonderfully enacted deep love story. In short, a terrific experience.

Set in the post independent times when the Zamindari system was going to be abolished with a law, archaeologist Varun Srivastava arrives to the country’s intellectual capital Calcutta, in the pretext of excavating few of the many acres held by one of the Zamindars. As his eyes meet Pakhi’s (Sonakshi Sinha who plays the Zamindars daughter) only the hearts speak thereafter, the language of love. And what follows is even more engaging.

What a screenplay to keep you engrossed until the final credits and the supremely spectacular acting. The latter was off a different dimension all together right from the first scene (pics.below) where Pakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) & Varun (Ranveer Singh) meet, up to the last scene where one falls to the ground with a smile with a sense of redemption and the other smiles too but rejuvenated with a hope of love. However there was one particular scene in which the eyelids of the leads turn red very slowly to break into a happy tear as though the veins were all completely controlled. And that is my favorite.


Sticking to his same crew as in Udaan, Amit Trivedi’s compositions are melodious and Mahendra Shetty’s cinematography is picture perfect.

Verdict: Need I say more!!!

Mariyaan: Disappoints!


In these times of films with tiring star worship, breezy romantic comedies and slick action entertainers, it is quite a rarity to find movies with a slow yet steady narrative to gradually etch out its characters and build up to a fitting finale. Now here’s the problem with movies which aim at the latter. Despite the technical brilliance in terms of many a breathtaking visuals and some soul stirring music, the whole narrative derives its meaning from a strong underlying script. Having said this, it is not so easy and requires a midas touch to cross the ropes. For in all these years of Indian cinema, we’ve had only a few to name. You know them and they were truly legends in their own respect.

And yes, Bharat Bala’s ‘Mariyaan’ deep dives into this abyss. With a screenplay which moves at a snails pace with the hope of building strong characters and giving you a heartwarming climax, neither the characters nor the finale is memorable. While the deep love of Mariyan (means one who does not die) with Pani a.k.a Pani Malar (Parvathi Menon of ‘Poo’) forms the first half, it is Mariyan’s endearing escape from Sudan back home which is the crux post intermission. Though based on real life incidents, the directors expression of the accounts is purely cinematic. The solace in this 2hr 40 minute watch is the acting of the leads. We are now very used to such intense performances from the leading man Dhanush, but it is Parvathi Menon who is the surprise element. It’s time the Tamil directors exploit more of the skills of this talented actress.

The visuals of the picturesque fishermen locales need a special mention. But I guess we’ve seen them in Mani sir’s Kadal, Seenu Ramasamy’s Neer Paravai in exactly the same milieu or for that matter in Kumki. Last but not the least , Academy award Winner A.R Rahmans music may have topped the charts but to me is an over-hype. Some of the songs and their placement add to the pain not of the character but the audience. Another random scene involving the cheetah reminds you of Hollywood flicks like ‘The Grey’ & ‘Frozen’ but with no impact.

Verdict: On the whole our ‘Mariyaan’ has Over Promised but Under Delivered!!!

Raanjhana: Dil Se!


As I queued with curiosity and excitement to enter the movie hall, I heard this: Man: Arey ye hero kaun hai? (Translates to who is this hero) Wife: This is that ‘Kolaaaaveri’ bandha (This is that Kolaaaaaveri guy.) Oh yes, the pronunciation of the word was stretched like most Tamil words would in their shhhtyle.

Curiosity and Excitement? Yes, my curiosity was to see Bollywood’s verdict for this not so macho, and ‘only’ wheatish looking actor from the south unlike the Khan’s & Kapoor’s. And my excitement had many reasons, most importantly was the sure joy of how this talented actor would bowl over the audience effortlessly with his natural acting skills.

From the teaser, I knew I was to witness one of greatest clichés of Indian cinema,
“A boy sees a girl Stop! Realizes she is the one, a divine send Stop! Decides to pursue her whatever it may be Stop! And then you all know it Stop!” It continued – “Arey kuch to hoga yaar es me” (There is something to this). Anand L Rai’s ‘Raanjhana’ had that something extra, for it was full of heart all the way.

Get transported to the holy locales of UP like Benares, Varanasi to feel that same vibrancy and experience the idiosyncrasies of the people inhabiting the place. Thanks to some terrific dialogues (blending Wit n Wisdom), brilliant screenplay, good cinematography and BGM. Is that all? Not really! It’s the characters of the story who are beyond these superlatives. Two thumbs up to the director for his characterization – Real & Honest, a rare commodity! A foray into the lives of Kundan (Dhanush), Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), Murari, Bindiya(Swara Bhaskar) and Jaspreet (Abhay Deol) is joyful despite the heartbreaking troughs.

While all this setups for an engaging 2nd half, the director’s attempt to break the clichés of his script infusing elements of youth politics (communism, Che guvera etc. etc.) though appreciable is not even close to engaging as the 1st half and fizzles out. The A.R. Rahman factor too doesn’t bother you much. Despite some good BGM, the tracks are certainly not to his standards except the title number and ‘Tum tak’. Despite this let down, the last 10 frames of this journey, leave you with a chuckle not visible on the face, but from the heart.

Verdict: Have you’re tickets booked!

Soodhu Kavvum: Machan, Ithu thaanda ‘Slapstick’!

Soodhu Kavvum

Not sure if there has been an year specially in Tamil cinema which could be commemorated to a never before seen actor. 2012-2013 however is called Vijay Sethupathi’s year in the history of Tamil cinema. With a thrilling debut in ‘Pizza’ followed by a rib tickling 2nd in ‘Naduvula Konjam Pakkam Kaanum’, the man’s back in his rustic Uber cool avatar in Nalan Kumaraswamy’s ‘Soodhu Kavvum’.

Vijay Sethupathy

For those who haven’t heard about Nalan, he was the winner of the Nalaya Iyakunnar contest. His first big screen outing is undoubtedly a bigger winner for its most creative script redefining slapstick humor. Out of his short term memory loss (A Medula oblongata injury in NKPK), this time around Vijay Sethupathy (‘Das’ in the movie) is all set to pursue his new found passion ‘Kednapping’ (no spelling mistakes). What unfolds as he teams with up 4 other novices to the world of Kednapping forms the crux of this story.

The screenplay is swift keeping you to the edge of the seat with a ‘Whats next’ feeling. The unconventionally stylish BGM is certainly an Umphh factor while the only song post interval is purely a commercial escapism, I guess. On the whole this wonderfully creative script, terrifically enacted by it cast is a roller coaster ride. The scenes of Das with his invisible lover, at kednapping training sessions, interactions with the CM, and towards the end with the policeman are a scream.

Verdict: Jolly Lo Jimkana, Kick Ass, Whatever…

The Great Gatsby: An Engaging Adaptation!

The Gatsby

After a hiatus of sorts owing to some personal and professional commitments, am back to digitally pen my views on the films depicting the sagacity of its makers across the globe. Before I begin I would like to pay homage and dedicate this review to one homosapien who has been an inspiration to not just me but to many others in this kind of an indulgence. His knowledge of this medium was vast and unparalleled, attention to detail terrific, words immaculate and a life inspiring. I/We will truly miss you sir ‘Roger Ebert’, while you are no more your words are still with us.

Well, there is a lot to say on this adaptation of Scott F Scott Fitzgeralds 1922 american novel ‘The Great Gatsby’, however its the power packed performances of its ensemble cast which makes it a thoroughly engaging 140 min watch. From Director Buz Luhrmann who has etched out successful adaptations like ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘Moulin Rogue’, comes yet another visually extravagant depiction of millionaire Gatsby’s life of richness with a strong underlying current of love and an even deeper emptiness.

Does it really matter, even if your script was not completely rooted to it source material like Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ ? You would say ‘Not really’ when you have Hollywoods most versatile of actors giving life to characters of this great american novel. Leonardo di Caprio, Carrey Mulligan and ‘Tobey Mcguire’ leave a lasting impression as the curtains unfold specially after the moving climax.

Visually rich with strong performances and a gripping screenplay it is still not a perfect movie with its share of inconsistencies. However its the ensemble cast and the Luhrmann’ish’ kind of film making which makes this a meaningful exploration into Mr. Gatsby’s solitude.

Verdict: Grows on you, that too unknowingly and that is ‘The Great Gatsby’!

Heroine: Same old Wine & Bottle!

Take an industry, do a catharsis of it, understand the darker sides and then depict it in celluloid in a commercial viable way appealing to the audience as an entertainer with not much to contemplate or leaving stones unturned after the viewing. That’s director Madhur Bhandarkar for you! While it was a refreshing approach as he stepped his foot on direction with movies like Page 3, Corporate and the most popular Fashion, now its just tiring. Similarly his latest installment ‘Heroine’ offers no surprises whatsoever.

The travails of a Heroine aspiring to do good movies, rise to unprecedented stardom and hyper-possessive of the acquired fame – That is its tagline. I am sure these will not be spoilers, and in trying to show that there is a generous exposure of the cleaves, sex – both hetero and lesbianism, infidelity, troubled childhood, drug addiction, alcoholism, problems with art movies and other stereotypical blah blah blah. Certainly these are not spoilers, aren’t they.

Despite a similar expectation based on the trailer, promos and other marketing if one asked ‘Is there something about this heroine’? Well, absolutely nothing just cliched and boring. Mr. Bhandarkar gets it totally wrong with the genre and the timing of his film. Just when you’ve had ‘Dirty Picture’ hitting bulls eye with the audience, critics and award committees, Heroine was a bit too soon to seem interesting. If the director needs to sustain with some expectation and following for his forthcoming releases then its high time he looks at other unexplored genres.

This review would not be complete without a mention of Kareena Kapoor, the Heroine. Her performance was super titillating (this will leave the front benches filled) but nothing spectacular. Vidya Balan in the ‘The Dirty Picture’ and Priyanka Chopra in ‘Fashion’ were far more impressive and sensitive.

Verdict: Worth a Miss!