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”

Kayamkulam Kochunni Movie Review: Prince of Thieves!

In the simplest of terms, one can label the legendary figure of Kerala folklore, Kayamkulam Kochunni as a local Robin hood of sorts. However, given the context of social structure of that times, he is much more than that. Here is a young Muslim man who is considered a deity in one of the Hindu temple in Kerala to this day. A Muslim who learned the martial art form of Kalari at a time when it was not exactly thought to ‘outsiders’. And a man who from whatever we know of him, stood for the lower caste and oppressed while taking on the rich and the upper strata of the society. A man who was eventually betrayed by his own men for a few pieces of gold. In short, a man who has a story that has all the makings of an epic.

And yet, direct Rosshan Andrews attempt at giving this legendary figure a fitting movie adaptation proves to an underwhelming one.

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Kayamkulam Kochunni narrates the tale of Kochunni (Nivin Pauly), a young chap with a heart of gold and a do-gooder. He flees from home when his father is caught for stealing and seeks to live an honest life. He takes up the job with a Tamil Brahmin as a storekeeper for his livelihood.

There is also the whole episode of him wanting to learn the art form of  Kalari which makes him seek out a local teacher Thangal (Babu Anthony) who initially refuses to teach him.  However, the determined man ends up learning the art by hiding on a treetop and watching the classes closely after dusk. When he is eventually sniffed out, the master is impressed at the man and his skills he has picked up.

The turn of events comes in when Kochunni stumbles upon some treasure which he duly informs the high priests of the village. However instead of being rewarded, they frame him once they get their hand on the loot and brands Kochunni as a thief and leave him out to die.

And he would have died, had it not been for the timely entry of a famed thief by the name of Ithikkara Pakki (the hyped cameo from Mohanlal). He comes in to save the central character and the film just in time. Pakki inspires a crushed Kochunni to stand again on his feet and fight back at the privileged few who cheated and framed him a criminal.

Thus, Kochunni becomes gradually Kayamkulam Kochunni, the feared thief whose name is enough to send shudders down the spine of the elite, while ensuring he does his bit for the oppressed and downtrodden.

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Sure, all of it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as much of the screenplay is about creative cinematic liberties. Kochunni has already made it to the big screens once in the sixties, with Sathyan playing the role of the infamous thief. And even in recent past, the stories made its way into our living rooms in the form of a televised series.  And now with a budget of supposedly 45 crore, director Rosshan Andrews takes a shot at it.

Bobby-Sanjay, the writing duo, who has been the backbone of some of Andrews’ finest works fails to really bring out the distinctive epic materials that the script required. Instead taking inspiration from a basic Amar Chitra version of the character, the screenplay also goes about ticking off some basic events of Kochunni’s life without really bothering with the whys and hows. We never really get into the emotional psyche of the man, and as a result, we are not really engaged with the central character. The screenplay basically misses all the emotional beats making us disconnected with Kochunni’s victories or setbacks.

This is only made worse with the portrayal of the character by lead man Nivin Pauly. For starters, his approach to what could have been the role of a lifetime is extremely disappointing. He never looks comfortable in the part and does not really come off well in the transformation from the boy next door to the much-dreaded thief in town. His failure to become the character, mentally or physically turns to be the biggest bane of the project.

In fact, Mohanlal, even in his fifteen minutes, puts in much more effort with mannerisms and body language to give his character of Ithikkara Pakki, the much-needed distinction. So much for a tale of a thief, when the veteran in his 20 minute appearance ends up stealing the thunder. Yes, Pakki does look like a character from belonged in another film, with the costume and the western BGM. But no one would complain about authenticity there, because his scenes were the better portions of the movie. Wish Andrews and Nivin put in as much effort to the titular character.

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Priya Anand also turns out to be another case of wrong casting. She does not look the part and is seen struggling with her lines. Of the supporting cast, the ones that does shine are Sunny Wayne and Babu Anthony. Director Jude Anthony also do well in a brief sequence. The rest of the lot, including the extras and the foreign actors, all seem over the top and appear too amateurish. It has always been a recurring problem in the historical / period dramas and the same issues continue here too. There is that sense of artificialness that makes you detached from the period setting and giving you the feeling that instead you are witnessing a school play.

The movie makes room every now and then to voice the social issues of the times with a commentary on the prevalent caste structure of the times. Add to that the presence of the British. However the dialogues are poor, including one hilarious line mouthed by one of the English characters who goes “ He is your race, he is your case!” .  In fact, the whole British portions have no impact on the proceedings and seem just fillers with no real implications. The item number from Nora Fatehi also comes across as an unnecessary addition.

On the positive side, one needs to applaud the makers in spending the time and effort in recreating the settings. Sunil Babu’s production design and the cinematography by Binod Pradhan and Nirav Shah are definitely the major plus factors of this expensive venture. Gopi Sundar’s music is decent but it needed more folkish touch. Which is why he ends up creating a better impact with the background score and folk songs towards the end.

All in all, the movie is an amalgamation of several wrong choices that takes away the authenticity and works against the mood and feel of the movie. Something that no technical prowess is going to change or conceal. In its safe commercial avatar, Kayamkulam Kochunni turns out as an average venture that robs the audience from having something memorable or path breaking.

 

Cast : Navin Pauly, Priya Anand, Sunny Wayne, Babu Anthony and Mohanlal

Directed by Rosshan Andrews

Music Gopi Sundar

Kaaviya Thalaivan Tamil Movie Review: Good Ol’ Drama!

The setting is the thirties – forties of the twentieth century in the culturally rich and famous ‘Athens of The East’. The golden era of Tamil theater, with vocals and chords reigning supreme, had just been ushered in. South of India, drama as an art form had previously existed as ‘Theru Koothu’, but Western practices heavily influenced the roadside drama form to follow a set format. Music lovers had moved on from the confines of the gramophone record and their doorsteps to relish the magical lively moments on stage and the new-found excitement was pretty conspicuous. People started thronging theatrical plays like frenzied gatherings for a temple festival, camping for several nights at random shelters around the theater houses and waiting for several days at a stretch to get tickets. A few plays even had special trains plying from Madras, an indication of the kind of influence these shows had on the audience. A firework into the skies used to be the indication that the play would begin in an hour, sending fans into a kind of hysteria.Continue reading “Kaaviya Thalaivan Tamil Movie Review: Good Ol’ Drama!”

Kaaviya Thalaivan: Trailer

Kaaviya Thalaivan PosterVasanthabalan who is known for his Tamil films like Veyil, Angaadi Theru, Aravaan etc now returns with his latest film, Kaaviya Thalaivan. Written by Vasanthabalan along with Jeyamohan,the film is set in early 20th century and talks about the lives of two theatre artistes and the competition that exists between them in a small drama troupe. Produced by Varun Manian and S.Sashikanth the film features Siddharth, Prithviraj, Vedhicka, Anaika Soti, Nassar, Thambi Ramaiah etc. While the music by A.R.Rahman is already quite popular,the film has cinematography by Nirav Shah,while editing is by Praveen K.L and N.B.Srikanth. The film is finally all set for a theatrical release on 7th November.Continue reading “Kaaviya Thalaivan: Trailer”

Saivam Movie Review: Honest, Heartfelt But Only Half Engaging

Saivam PosterThere are quite a few directors in the industry who push their limits by trying their hands at a variety of genres. I am not too sure if director Vijay would qualify in that list, but after quite a few debacles in action (Thaandavam) and hero-worship (Thalaivaa) he returns to his comfort-zone of light-hearted family drama with ‘Saivam’, featuring his regulars Nasser and  Sarah along with an ensemble cast. It takes quite some guts to even conceptualize a movie without a well-defined male/female protagonist, leave alone writing and directing it, but Vijay proves his capability by trying to tell a tale of compassion and bonding through the eyes of a large family who gather at an ancestral place for a local festival. The intent is no doubt genuine and sincere, but the final product on-screen oscillates between brilliance and mediocrity throughout its running time.Continue reading “Saivam Movie Review: Honest, Heartfelt But Only Half Engaging”

Thalaivaa Movie Review: From Times too old

Thalaivaa Movie ReviewLanguage : Tamil | Running Time : 183 Minutes | Director : A.L Vijay

The last time I went to watch a Vijay movie in the theater was Thuppaki, which was a film I liked. The one I watched before that was Ghilli. The rest I’ve had the good sense and good fortune to avoid watching in the theater. “Ilaya Thalapathy” Vijay is back in action with Thalaivaa. After a successful and not the usual fans movie in Thuppaki, Vijay has come back with Thaliavaa and directing him this time is A.L Vijay.

As I finished watching the trailer of the movie when it first came out, the only thing I didn’t want it to be was to try to follow The Godfather when it came to making Vijay’s character and my worst fears where confirmed as the movie settled down after a prelude that starts off as an interesting one that sets the beaten path of ages old. When an old helpful Mafiosi dies, his people are targeted and there’s a rise of a new godfather. Circumstances make sure that his son has to leave him and live abroad, brought up by a man who decides to leave the underworld behind. A prelude that started off well but the way it sets up things for the rest of the film, it is obvious that the movie is going to look like a rip off of  better made crime films and in one scene, even an idea that was most recently used in Ameerin Aadhi Bhagwan. Continue reading “Thalaivaa Movie Review: From Times too old”

Thalaivaa: Trailer

Thalaivaa PosterVijay, one of the most popular Tamil actors currently seems to have got into a new zone of late as seen by the kind of projects he has accepted with established directors, unlike earlier. After the resounding success of A.R.Murugadoss‘s Thuppakki, the next offering from Vijay is Thalaivaa  which is directed by A.L.Vijay.Continue reading “Thalaivaa: Trailer”

Trailer of Tamil Movie Thaandavam

Tamil filmmaker A.L.Vijay teams up with Vikram once again after their recent outing, Deiva Thirumagal. While their earlier film together was an extremely emotional family film, their latest outing Thaandavam is a big budget revenge saga shot majorly in London. Continue reading “Trailer of Tamil Movie Thaandavam”

Madharasapattinam Movie Review : A Period Love Saga

Note- As we keep debating about what wrong with Gautham Vasudev Menon‘s Ek Deewana Tha and keep writing about Amy Brown’s selection for the role of Jessie as one of the reasons, here’s a look back at Amy’s 1st movie- Madharasapattinam ( 2010 ).

When director A.L.Vijay who had apprenticed under Priyadarshan and made 2 reasonably good films like Poi Solla Porom & Kireedom announced his decision to make his 3rd film, most people following Tamil Cinema including me were quite intrigued. The reason for the people to get surprised was that the movie in question- ‘Madharasapattinam’ was to be a period film based in the 1940’s in erstwhile Madharasapattinam i.e the Chennai of today. For someone who had found reasonable success by making remakes till now, it looked like quite a bold departure.Continue reading “Madharasapattinam Movie Review : A Period Love Saga”