Serious Men (2020 Netflix Original) Movie Review: The Angst of India’s Voiceless

Serious Men releases at a time, when the Uttar Pradesh state machinery has gone all out and try to cover up the Hathras tragedy that has been in the headlines of late. It is also interesting that it comes at a time when filmmakers like Pa. Ranjith and Nagaraj Manjule are giving voice to the Dalits of India. 

Serious Men is based on the novel of the same name by Manu Joseph. It tracks the journey of resourceful Ayyan Mani (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who works at a prestigious scientific organisation in Mumbai as a PA for his boss Acharya (Naseer). Both come from different class and different caste while Ayan is from the lower caste, his boss belongs to the uppermost caste.Continue reading “Serious Men (2020 Netflix Original) Movie Review: The Angst of India’s Voiceless”

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”

Johny Mera Naam (1970): 50 years of Crime & Morality

The long weekend had given me some respite from work from home, I decided to watch a film of which I have heard so much, but never found the time to watch it. earlier Surprisingly as I watched this in the early hours of Sunday, I must say that it kept me hooked on for the entire duration.

Johny Mera Naam is a tale of two brothers who get lost in childhood, ending up in two different sides of the law. But then this is a Vijay Anand film, twist in the tale is that the one who is supposed to uphold law the cop is cheating people to achieve his goals.  Johny Mera Naam might look like a crime thriller at the outset, but like a good pulp film, it has layers to it.Continue reading “Johny Mera Naam (1970): 50 years of Crime & Morality”

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”

V (2020) Telugu Movie Review: Bullets Misfired

In films from southern India, especially Tamil and Telugu industry, the film revolves around the lead actor. So whenever a film is announced without a title, the film is generally referred by the name of the lead actor and the forthcoming number of his (as per his filmography). Actors pay an important attention to milestone films likes their 25th or 50th  and so on. Continue reading “V (2020) Telugu Movie Review: Bullets Misfired”

Class of ’83 Movie Review: A Misfired Shot!

Netflix India has garnered a reputation for churning out one after another boring series and films, I am sure that their recent original film, Class Of ’83 can firmly get a place in the walk of shame. And with this being the of the third collaboration of Netflix with Red Chilies Entertainment after Bard of Blood and Betaal,  should lead them to introspect on the quality of their output. Or may be there is an aim to get the audience to unsubscribe from Netflix, if that is the aim they are on their path.Continue reading “Class of ’83 Movie Review: A Misfired Shot!”

GHAR (1978): Finding Home

I have been watching a lot of old Hindi films on Amazon Prime of late, given the lockdown it is strange that Bollywood is giving me solace, it is my comfort zone. I must say that I was surprised by Ghar, a pleasant departure for a film that talks about rape and rape victims and the people close to them. After the horrific Nirbhaya Delhi case there have been many films where rape has been a pivotal point only to take the narrative arc of having a male hero or even films like MOM where the only retribution is the killing of the preparators of crime.Continue reading “GHAR (1978): Finding Home”

Krishna and His Leela movie review: Love me Two!

Telugu, 2020

Cast:  Sidhu Jonnalegadda, Shradda Srinath, Shalini Vadnikatti, Seerat Kapoor , Jhansi and Sampath Raj

Directed by Ravikanth Perepu

Music by Sricharan Pakala

Streaming now on Netflix

 

Krishna and his Leela, the latest Telugu OTT offering, presented by Rana Daggubati,  is a breezy rom com that is a essentially an update on the age-old ‘one guy-two women’ staple . Though there is certainly no reinventing of the wheel here, director Ravikanth Perepu does put in a neat little job of giving some relatability and rootedness to the whole tricky subject.

Sidhu Jonnalegadda, who is also a co-writer on the film, is introduced in one of those typical cinematic ‘jilted lover boy’ fashions – with the trademark unshaven beard, pondering over life in some picturesque corners of the country. And knowing Telugu cinema, we may easily write offthe rest of the film as one suffering from the Arjun Reddy hangover. But breaking the fourth wall, Sidhu’s character Krishna assures us this could be lighter by asking us not to laugh at his emotional tales. And we pretty get the mood of the film from thereon.

Krishna does not waste time and gets to the heartbreak instantly. We are immediately told how his girlfriend Satya dumps him when she believes the relationship is not going anywhere. The breakup leaves Krishna completely broken, spending the rest of the days crying and sobbing away. It takes a few good time before he decides he is over all these girls and relationship dramas.

But Krishna cannot be kept away from his Leelas for long, and it is no surprise when he ends up immediately falling head over heels over a junior he meets at college, Radha.

As Radha claims, Krishna does not tick off any of her boyfriend material lists. But she still ends up liking the guy and Krishna would believe everything is finally smooth sailing in his love life.  However then comes the hurdle, with a job offering in Bangalore. Having to move out from Vizag, he assures an unsure Radha that they will get this long-distance working.

But things take an interesting turn when in Bangalore, where he runs into his ex-girlfriend Satya. If that is not spice enough, add an attractive roommate (Seerat Kapoor) to the mix. And you know you are getting a perfect recipe for trouble in Sidhu’s paradise.  The rest of the film has Sidhu trying to figure out the Dos and Donts of relationships. The only question is will it be too late by the time he does the figuring out.

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The biggest strength of the movie undoubtedly lies in its restrained writing. At several instances, there is an opportunity to go too melodramatic or score some each cheap laughs, except for a few initial portions involving Viva Harsha. But the writing holds back and avoids falling into the usual easy trappings of Telegu commercial cinema. The characters are certainly well written, especially the women and therefore keeps the proceedings refreshingly relatable and real.

Performances also immensely helps here. After all, it is vital that the audience needs to develop a rooting interest in the characters for this set up to work. And to the credit of the writing team and the trio of Sidhu, Shradda and Shalini, the manage to nail that factor.Even the fourth wall breaking which may seem gimmicky at first, works well in opening  frank one way conversation between the audience and the main character.

Lead man Sidhu masterfully steers his complicated character convincingly through the whole messy deal. Shradda as usual impresses effortlessly, while Shalini Vadnikatti though good, finds herself a little short when it comes to the emotionally heavy sequences.  Seerat Kapoor chips in just fine with Rukhsar, a very interestingly written character that in my opinion, deserved a little more space and voice in the screenplay. Sampath and Jhansi plays the roles of Sidhu’s parents in graceful, convincing manner, with a delicately written scene showing their dynamics in a mature, no-frills manner. It was also an appreciable gesture of having the dubbing artists names alongside the actresses in the title credits.

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The movie just about loses steam even with its mere 120-minute mark as the screenplay goes back and forth between the Leelas of this Krishna’s life, constantly shuffling between Vizag and Bangalore with a little Coorg detour. But Ravikanth keeps things light and constantly moving. And though the performance manages to sell the lead character’s predicament, the final speech disappointingly falls flat sticking out like a weak excuse. And also time writers realise that this lazy act of transforming their characters into overnight authors is getting a little too stale.

But these are minor quibbles in what is essentially a welcome addition to an otherwise ‘done-to-death’ romcom formula. Refreshing and sure-footed, it is worth spending a couple of hours checking out Krishna and his Leela, for an easy OTT watch.

– Joxily John

KAPPELA movie review: Couple Trouble!

Malayalam , 2020

Cast:     Anna Ben, Roshan Mathews, Sreentha Bhasi, Sudhi Koppa,

Music    Sushin Shyam

Written and directed by Muhammed Musthafa

 streaming on NETFLIX

 

Continuing the golden run in recent years, Malayalam movie industry dived into 2020 with a bang!  Right up in January the thriller Anjaam Pathira took the box-office by storm, and the next month saw the arrival of the widely appreciated Ayyapanum Koshiyum. And in the month of March, a small little film titled Kappela quietly came to the big screens and instantly impressed audiences. It was unfortunate though that the movie did not get its due cause of the immediate lockdown measures put in place.

Kappela (meaning Chapel) is a neatly packaged movie from actor Muhammed Musthafa who is making his directorial debut with this venture. Musthafa, who over a decade has become a familiar face in Malayalam movies shows that he has some tricks up his sleeve when it comes to writing as well. Because his sharp and creative screenplay is what works for this, otherwise simple looking film.

Much of the credit goes to the smart casting and leading from the front is Anna Ben. This actress after the highly impressive roles in Kumbalangi Nights and Helen, once again charms literally carrying the entire movie on her petite shoulders.  In Kappela, she plays Jessy, a a simple naive girl from an orthodox Christian, residing in a high range village in Wayanad, Kerala. Having flunked her exams, she really haven’t any high ambitions set for herself in life, and goes about her routine life, with rather modest desires. Like something as simple as a visit to a beach.

Jessy’s life gets interesting when she ends up dialing a wrong number one day. The voice at the other end belongs to a Vishnu (Roshan Mathews), an autorickshaw driver.  Soon it leads to more calls between the two, and before you know it, a romantic relationship brews between the duo over these regular phone calls.

The two decide eventually to meet each other in the city of Kozhikode. But what should have been a simple rendezvous gets complicated when in walks a third character, Roy (Sreenath Bhasi) into the equation and the lives of this couple will never remain the same.

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Telling anything more would be spoilers because the strength is in the screenplay taking you places which you do not expect it to and Musthafa the writer makes the job easy for the director in him. He shows how an ordinary tale can be spun to effective results, without going all flashy or in-your-face. It also holds back from being preachy or taking any moralistic high stand when it comes to dealing with its characters and situations. For a minute, you would even think this is going the way of last year’s Shane Nigam starrer Ishq and we are going to get yet another round of the clash of male egos.

 

Sreenath Bhasi and Roshan Mathews does a good job in their respective roles, going at each other’s throats. Having to walk on this fine thin line of characterization, the two pulls it off with aplomb. But as mentioned the real heart and soul is Anna Ben and she emerges extremely confident in her craft, adding this one too as yet another feather to her short but impressive filmography. She gives the needed relatability to the character of Jessy, grounding her in earnestness. Able support also comes from the rest of the cast that includes Sudhi Koppa, James Elia, Nisha Sarang and Tanvi Ram.

Sushin Shyam’s delightfully wonderful score and Jimshi Khalid’s captivating frames enhances the movie, enriching the experience, supporting Mustafa’s vision.

With a refreshing take that toys with one’s perspectives, Kapella is another small yet impressive work that once again shows that the Malayalam industry is indeed in promising hands. And this gives us a prime example, how boundaries of storytelling are constantly being pushed despite all the seeming limitations.

 

– Joxily John