BEAST (2022) Tamil Movie Review: Guns, Swag and Vijay in a Nelson world

Commercial cinema in India is a tricky issue, especially so in Tamil and Telugu where directors need to tread a path wherein they need to balance their storytelling and pander to fans. While Vijay has been consistently among the most popular stars in Tamil cinema, with a solid mass fan following, Nelson on the other hand is a director who is known for dark comedy, a genre which has not been explored much in Tamil cinema. I was looking forward for this combination, expecting something exciting to emerge out of it.

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Karnan (2021) Movie Review: The Missing C Factor

I remember watching Fandry in a packed theatre and the audience laughing at the character and his mishaps, but then came the gut-wrenching climax and the audience went numb because it exposed them. I cannot remember such a stunning silence after a movie, here I thought was a director who has failed but then he has done a much bigger job as he had shown us the mirror. 

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Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban (2021) Movie Review: The System and the Common Man

Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban (KUN) has been making some noise since it was released and it is presented by one of India’s best directors, Vetrimaaran I was waiting for the film to stream on OTT. The film is now streaming on Zee5. 

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Master (2021) Movie Review: Vijay Shines, Lokesh Flatters to Deceive

Covid-19 has given a break to theatre-going experience across the globe. Even though Indian cinema halls have opened up slowly from October 2020 onwards, there has been no tentpole release which has revived the fortunes of cinema halls so far. December saw the release of Telugu film Solo Brathuke So Better which indicated that the audience in Southern India is willing to watch movies in the theatre. With this being the Pongal/Sankranti week in India, we have two films in Tamizh and three in Telugu (plus Master’s dubbed version) hitting marquee in a span of less than a week. If we go by the initial response, it is sure that cinemas are here to stay and co-exist with OTT. Continue reading “Master (2021) Movie Review: Vijay Shines, Lokesh Flatters to Deceive”

Soorarai Pottru (2020 Amazon Original): From Mani’s Ratnam’s Guru to Sudha’s Mara

There has been a slew of biopics in Hindi cinema in the last few years, but most of them have been hagiographies. Biopics as a trend has not picked up in the southern cinema. Even when Bollywood has chosen a South Indian for a biopic, they have transported the protagonist to North India like Padman. Soorarai Pottru takes inspiration from the life of Captain Gopinath and his quest to start the no-frills airplane in India.Continue reading “Soorarai Pottru (2020 Amazon Original): From Mani’s Ratnam’s Guru to Sudha’s Mara”

Mookuthi Amman (2020 -Disney Hotstar) The Goddess And Religion

Amman Padam (Mythology film) was a rage in the 90s in Tamil cinema which had a sample template of a believer suffering and her problems being solved by her favourite deity. The template died a slow death thanks to the rise of cable tv and the primary audience shifted from theatres to home.

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Kadhalan (1994): The Beginning of Shankar’ Extravaganza

The second film of every director is special, considering it is a make or break situation for most of them. Kadhalan came right after Gentleman made a splash at the box office counters of Tamil Nadu & the rest of South India. The film was remade in Telugu with megastar Chiranjeevi donning the lead role. The soundtrack of Gentleman was super popular and thus everyone was looking forward to seeing what the director will make after this solid debut. This was before Brahmandam (grandeur) and Shankar became synonymous. Continue reading “Kadhalan (1994): The Beginning of Shankar’ Extravaganza”

Abhay/Aalavandhan (2001): Twenty years of Kamal Haasan’s Magic Realism

There are some films which you miss, despite they hype and your eagerness to watch it. I remember Abhay/Aalavandhan was one of the most awaited films but it meet with mixed reactions when released. But it is a film which always comes up in discussion with cinephiles.Continue reading “Abhay/Aalavandhan (2001): Twenty years of Kamal Haasan’s Magic Realism”

PENGUIN movie review: Flightless!

Tamil, 2020

 Cast :  Keerthy Suresh, Lingaa, Master Advaith, Madhampatty Rangaraja, Mathi, Nithya Kirupa

Written and Directed by Eashvar Karthic

Music by Santosh Narayanan

 

Another week, and yet another disappointing fare that makes it to the OTT platform as an exclusive prime release. And what you learn from these movies, which follows the earlier tamil release PONMAGAL VANDHAL is that hill stations are no good for children.  Here again, while the setting shifts from Ooty to Kodaikanal, the situation remains the same. Kids are being kidnapped from their mothers.

In the movie oddly titled PENGUIN, Keerthy Suresh plays a mother in search of her child.  Sticking to the trend of odd naming, she is named Rhythm, that gets sweetly shortened to Ritu on occasions. When we are introduced to Rhythm aka Ritu, she is an expecting mother, seven months pregnant. But she is also one suffering from the trauma of losing her child six years ago. All she has is the crumbles of the past…. the kidnapping of her little son supposedly by a man with a Charlie Chaplin mask and an umbrella. The images keep haunting her to this day.

However, one night, the ghosts of her past reappear. Not only she sees the mystery man, but also out of nowhere, her long-lost son mysteriously reappears.

Where had he been all these years? Who was behind the kidnapping and why?  Rhythm finds only more questions as she tries to puzzle it all together, but answers come none whatsoever.

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Like all serial killer flicks, the central plot is about the mystery figure behind the scenes of the crime and the clueless protagonist furiously trying to unearth and solve the puzzle. And in such movies, the mood is critical.  Technically, debutant director Eeshvar Karthic realizes this and has his finger on that pulse creating the atmosphere fitting for the thriller ride. Skillfully supporting him in this task is music composer Santosh Narayanan and cinematography by Palani Karthik.

But therein ends the good things. Because the writing on this again by Eeshvar is painfully a letdown. I am still not sure exactly what about the writing impressed a filmmaker like Karthik Subbaraj to back a project like this.  In fact, I wonder how the writer in Eeshvar was able to convince himself that the ridiculous climax and the motives were good enough to fuel this story.

Even if you leave the final climax aside, the preceding screenplay comes with its share of problems. It seems unsure what it wants to be for most of its running time. Does it want to be an out and out serial killer movie. Or does it seek to be an emotional tale of a mother. Or does it want to be spookier and chiller than it all.  The film seems to be eternally stuck in this confusion.

For starters Rhythm ends up losing the things she is to take care of, quite easily. Almost like a habit. You see the scenes play out and you can predict how exactly the scene is going to play out. And again, the screenplay is not exactly rooted in logic. Cops are literally useless. A pregnant woman is left to do all the sleuth work with a trusted dog as partner. The guys are always missing. Too many expositions, chunky dialogues, and cringeworthy acting from the rest of the cast makes this hardly the tense thriller that it seeks to be.

Also, couldn’t help but notice the heavy influence of the Nolan-Batman movies in the way certain things are treated. Like the fear of buzzing insects, or the climax where the lead protagonist must choose between two options on which to save. Or coming to think of it, even the interrogation scene. Not that any of them is pulled off effectively.

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Keerthy Suresh surprisingly does well.  After spending an eternity being just a prop in most superstar vehicles, and getting that award-winning turn in Mahanati, she certainly seems determined to make the best of her new stature. In Penguin, she does a solid grounded act. The abysmal show from the rest of the cast helps, because it makes her indeed look the Award-winning actress. The cast was so disappointing that literally a dog outshines the rest of the cast here, in both characterization and performance. When you have a dog showing more brains than the humans, you know something is off.

Penguin plods and waddles before falling face down. Barring a sincere Keerthy and a few technical notches as mentioned above, the rest of the film fails to do what it sets out to. Instead the movie is at the receiving end of the cruelest cut of them all – some ridiculous writing.  Certainly avoidable!

  Joxily John