2.0 Movie Review: Shankar’s Sci-fi Extravaganza

Shankar’s films have always been known for extravagance and visuals. To some of Shankar’s films may be in your face and loud, but for those who are familiar with his work, it is known that they are up for a magical ride of three hours. Shankar and Rajamouli are two of the last showmen in the Indian film Industry. I feel that the last showman in Bollywood was Mukul Anand.Continue reading “2.0 Movie Review: Shankar’s Sci-fi Extravaganza”

Mumbai Film Festival 2016: Day 2 Must Watch!

Here’s our recommendations for the 2nd day of the movie extravaganza. We have very little info about Indian films playing in the fest. On getting to know more about them, we hope to put up a separate post recommending only the Indian films, before the festival begins.

So here are the unmissable ones from Day 2 :Continue reading “Mumbai Film Festival 2016: Day 2 Must Watch!”

10 Endrathukulla and the Curious Case of Being Vikram

Vikram is one of the most talented as well as hardworking actors not just in Tamil Cinema, but perhaps across Indian cinema these days. I don’t think I will be exaggerating when I say this. After all for someone who had started off as an actor way back in 1990 with En Kadhal Kanmani,before finally finding success with Sethu in 1999, he has come a long way indeed. It wasn’t that he got a bad start, in the first 3 years of his career itself he had 4 Tamil films as hero, which included films directed by well-known names like C.V.Sridhar, S.P.Muthuraman and P.C.Sreeram. His best bet among these definitely was P.C.Sreeram’s Meera (1992), a film whose music is popular even today but which somehow did not live up to its potential. Later Vikram went on to feature in many Malayalam and Telugu films, mostly as the 2nd lead, in an attempt to survive and keep himself running in the race.Continue reading “10 Endrathukulla and the Curious Case of Being Vikram”

Shankar’s I: A Misunderstood Beast ?

**SPOILERS FOLLOW **

In Shankar’s latest magnum opus, titled ‘I’, the central character Lingesan is injected with a lethal virus that results in a total disfiguration of his body. After spending several days in the dark, he finally decides to face the dreadful truth and takes that walk into his gym room. Staring back at him he finds a grotesque version of himself. A version he hardly recognizes and so altered from his original self!Continue reading “Shankar’s I: A Misunderstood Beast ?”

I Movie Review: Vikram deserved better!

A young filmmaker way back in the early nineties had the gall to tell the story of a seemingly grey-shaded protagonist who accuses the top government official of the state after looting crores of government money, for his debut film. As if he thought that it was way too much for the audience then to handle, he decided to masquerade it amid-st the rollicking fun of ‘Chikku Bukku’, Gounder’s crude antics, beautifully choreographed yet overtly long action sequences and sadly a cliched heroine’s sister character. The film which was made at a budget of more than five crores for the first time in the South raked in 22 crores at the box-office and shot the young director to instant limelight.

i-am-shankar-interviewAnd thus started the journey of a maker who chose to think ‘large’ (read ‘expensive’) and brand ‘Shankar’ was born. We loved him for what he seemed to be best at – narrating a compelling (though at times flimsy) conflict in the commercial space, while making mainstream cinema seem a lot richer and grandiose than it used to be. He proved this without doubt quite recently in his dream project with the Superstar, when he didn’t sacrifice his story-telling even for satisfying Rajni’s mass appeal, in the process giving us a sincere film that still managed to send the fans into raptures.

Today after seeing his two and half-year old year old mammoth project ‘I’, I had a nagging doubt if Enthiran was only an exception. Had Shankar unknowingly or knowingly reversed his formula yet again? With I, Shankar seems to have taken extraordinary pains to make the final product on-screen look technically astounding, aesthetically stunning, ornament-ally rich and visually exquisite, but has he narrated a compelling conflict in an engaging way? The answer to that would be a more emphatic ‘NO‘ and a less resounding ‘Partly’.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that Shankar is indeed a magician, if not any thing else. It takes a special set of skills and lots of guts to even attempt to visualize and pan out a ‘beaten to death’ linear story of such monotony (believe me when I say that I’s script actually qualifies for a brilliant ten minute short film) into a seeming complex maze of convolutions and grandeur, that we, at times, actually give in to the audiovisual sorcery that is being played on us. Given the discernible illusion of brilliance that Shankar nonchalantly brings to screen, our visual signals to the brain on many occasions trick us into forgetting that the film is dangerously pretentious and shallow. But not for long. Soon reason takes over, and we start questioning the tiresome length and painful predictability. With the film lagging with reference to the key ingredient of good cinema, the I experience turns out to be less wholesome than expected, with visual stupefaction and narrative disappointment constantly at loggerheads.

This is not to say that the writing (by Shankar and Suba) is downright uniformly bad or soul-less. I has its moments of cheer, vibrant energy and some really heart-wrenching poignancy that are lifted by the acting performances, but they are very few and far apart. The treatment falters big time, in the way things pan out in a totally expected manner, with no sight of the thrill factor in a purported romantic thriller. The dialogues at many instances are uninspiring, and fall flat, no way measuring up to the gravity of the situation.The antagonists are all weak unlike earlier Shankar ventures, and they mostly come across as a bunch of jokers.

Shankar-I-Movie-PosterAnother issue with I is the way Shankar seems to go on and on with sequences that literally don’t seem to have any say on the proceedings. And its appalling to see a man of Shankar’s caliber resorting to demean a character by her looks and the consequent stereotyping that happens is all in bad taste (for the reason that she seemingly looks like a transgender). The film’s last forty minutes didn’t work for me totally, and was more a mockery of agonising human suffering. It’s highly unbecoming of the writers to deal with life disasters like fatal disease and burns with such insensitivity, in whatever justified circumstances they are depicted in.

To put things in the right perspective, if at all you decide to see I, it’s for two people who have worked their asses off (for lost causes?) and probably given their career best. No prizes for guessing that they are Vikram and PC. Sreeram. Vikram to me, is more of a hard worker and non-quitter than a naturally gifted actor, and he proves it yet again with tons of conviction in I. The grueling torture that he has willingly submitted his body and psyche to, for slipping naturally into the multiple looks catches us literally gaping and dumbfounded. The more you see his inhumane efforts, the more you doubt the ability of this screenplay to tap it to the maximum potential.

i-movie-poster_141054272400Nevertheless this man, Kenny, gives every scene his two hundred percent and makes the film his own to the extent that if you remove him from the equation, it seems like the film (for whatever its worthy of) is non-existent. Here he takes up the quintessential ‘revenge drama’ script and makes it at-least watchable with his drool-worthy body, electrifying screen presence and stylish charm. As the ghastly kyphotic victim, he comes across more than convincing, managing to communicate with his sharp eyes even with at that heavy prosthetic make-up. But how much of all these can save an average script?! Amy Jackson looks a million dollars and slips into the skimpiest of costumes without seeming lewd or inappropriate. Surprisingly she emotes well too, utilizing her meaty role to the fullest. Suresh Gopi has been wasted in an insignificant role.

PC. Sreeram deserves a handful of awards for redefining ‘cinematic elegance’ and  setting a benchmark in cinematography in I. Be it the action sequences or the magnificently shot songs, he essentially makes the film what it is. The ‘Ladio’ and ‘Aila’ tracks scream of world-class visuals, keeping our eyes glued to the screen, as we involuntarily forget to blink. The VFX by Weta Workshop in the ‘Mersalayitten’ number is top-notch and the pristine beauty of China in the ‘Pookale’ track is a sight to behold. Art director Muthuraj deserves special mention for creatively designing the beast’s abode in the ‘Unnodu’ song. Despite the fact that I is more about painstakingly conceived and splendidly executed songs, its also true that their abundance make a coherent narrative totally impossible. A.R. Rahman scores well with his vivacious numbers and a highly relevant background score. The costume design, stunt choreography and  makeup are all bloody brilliant, making it probably the strongest technical film to come out in a long time,

Shankar with I proves that he is more of a visual sculptor than any kind of story-teller. His weakest script till date, is made occasionally engaging and watchable by Vikram’s sincerity and PC’s insanely lovely frames. I walked out of the theater with this thought eating my mind, “Didn’t Vikram deserve better?”

 

Shankar’s ‘I’: Trailer

I Poster 2One of the most awaited Indian films in recent times has been Shankar’s I, which will see a release in Telugu and Hindi too apart from its original Tamil version. Slated for a Pongal/Sankaranti release, I is produced by Aascar Films and written by Shankar along with Subha (dialogues). Featuring Vikram in the lead role, the rest of the star cast includes Amy Jackson, Suresh Gopi, Upen Patel, Prabhu, Santhanam etc. The music by A.R.Rahman has been in discussion ever since the grand audio launch on 15th September this year. While the stunning visuals are by P.C.Sreeram, the editing is by Anthony.Continue reading “Shankar’s ‘I’: Trailer”

“I” Music Review: The Shankar-ARR Combo is back, but just about

‘I’ or Ai as it was being referred to earlier is an acid test of a film for multiple reasons and it has been in the news ever since it was launched. The film brings back Shankar and actor Vikram together once again after their blockbuster Anniyan (2005). In my opinion Vikram hasn’t really had a good film after that (with films like Mani Ratnam’s Raavanan and A.L.Vijay’s Deiva Thirumagal being passable fare), hence what could be a better way to bounce back finally in style than associating with the same director who gave him such a big turning point in his career earlier. After working with Harris Jayaraj in his previous film Nanban, Shankar once again has fallen back on his trusted music composer A.R.Rahman for the soundtrack of ‘I’. Incidentally ‘I’ is the 12th film to be directed by Shankar of which ARR has composed the music for 10 of them (the other 2 films, Anniyan and Nanban being Harris Jayaraj compositions) and so the expectations were always going to be high.Continue reading ““I” Music Review: The Shankar-ARR Combo is back, but just about”

New Stills of Shankar’s Magnum Opus Tamil Film “I”

Tamil filmmaker Shankar, who is known for directing big budget blockbusters right from the early 90’s always seem to increase the budget for his next film. Though the maverick film maker himself never discusses the figures and budget of his films, but they are always in news. Shankar has been media shy and extremely guarded about his films, but this seems to be changing with his latest Tamil film Ai, where he has been actively discussing about schedules and giving out information via his Social Media platforms. His fans were in treat as Shankar tweeted some new stills of the film and also confirmed the movie will be ready for release this summer, which means the movie will hit screens somewhere between May to June. Shankar also managed to keep the interest level high by tweeting a picture of old man, which may be Vikram, Do check out the photos for the moment.

Continue reading “New Stills of Shankar’s Magnum Opus Tamil Film “I””