Bombay (1995): Mani Ratnam’s ode to the city that never sleeps

Bombay now Mumbai, was a city considered to be a cosmopolitan city, a city which was only concerned about making money and not interested in knowing from where you have come from or who were you.  Post ’92, the fault line has run deeply with ghettos that are now an integral part of my city.  For a city which is the epicenter of Bollywood, there are hardly any movies based on ’92 riots. The one which comes to my mind are Bombay and Black Friday, both coincidentally directed by people by non natives. Continue reading “Bombay (1995): Mani Ratnam’s ode to the city that never sleeps”

‘9’ Movie Review: The Father, the Son and the Unholy Guest!

 

 

Prithviraj’s latest movie,  ‘9’, does start off with an exciting premise. The earth is about to witness a rare cosmic event, one that involves a comet passing through the earth at such a close distance that it would leave the world without electricity, internet or any communication for the next nine days.

So, when his mentor Dr Inayat Ali (played by Prakash Raj) offers an opportunity to do some research on the comet from the Himalayas, astrophysicist Albert Lewis (Prithvi) grabs it immediately and lands up at the high peaks with a handpicked team of four members.

Also, with him is his seven-year-old son, Adam. Albert, being a single parent, has been having trouble in keeping the young lad on the right track. So, he decides to take the boy along during this research expedition.

On the first day of the comet’s presence, Albert ends up running into a mysterious woman in the woods. He brings the unconscious woman back to his resort. The following day, the woman (Wamiqa Gabbi) introduces herself as Eva and informs that she got lost in the forests while on a similar trip with her friends to check out the comet. She does hit it off well with both Albert as well as his son, Adam.

But something about the new visitor seems strange and the following nine days is about how the equations between the father, son and their new ‘guest’ change throughout these days.

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It cannot be argued that Prithviraj is trying to give the Malayalam film industry, usually known for superb content but with limited budget constraints, a leap to the big league. With much more technical and production quality, it is a sincere attempt to tap into a bigger market beyond the boundaries of the state. And this co-venture with a big player like Sony Pictures is an excellent example of the same.

However, the problem comes when the storytelling attempt looks more inspired as opposed to saying something original and homegrown. And it has become a common streak in the actor’s recent choices. As he tackles ghosts, serial-killers, cults, supernatural beings etc., the flashes of originality or even attempt to finely adapt to the local milieu goes missing. One wishes the focus is kept more on telling our stories well to the world rather than compromising into telling their stories to stand out.

Director Jenuse Mohammed, despite the different yet promising sci-fi touches, steers the whole thing down the alleys of familiarity. After all the talks about humans headed back to bonding with nature, the movie never really stops to address those aspects. Instead, the genre slowly shifts, and elements of science get traded in favour of supernatural elements.  And the grip over the audience begins to loosen.

It is fair enough to tackle different genres. But if it is horror, there needs to have a proper atmospheric building. And that is never going to happen with the incessant background score (Sekhar Menon) like this one has.  The beauty of silence in such sequences is matchless to amplify the fear and creep factor. But that is not opted for here, and it fails to engage the audience.

Another point is it science-fiction, horror, fantasy -whatever the genre, there is a certain logic within the movie that must be followed and respected. For example, if a character can fly through windows, you do not expect them to struggle with a closed door in the next scene. Or for here, you have a character swooping in on another on a cycle but has issues in chasing down a young lad on foot.

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The results are mixed. Because technically the movie has everything going for it. Be it the stunning visuals from Abhinandan Ramanujam or the exemplary sound design. Even the VFX work is quite good (barring the wolf, of course). But Jenuse’s writing proves to be a downer. For a film that is said to revolve around the father-son bonding, there is hardly any importance or time given to develop this aspect. They do try to reason it out with an exposition towards the climax, but it never really convinces you. From a narration point, it should have been told from either the father’s point of view or the son’s. But the film tries to do both and eventually as a viewer, we are not invested in either predicament.

But the choices the makers make only add to the problems. The director then tries to make it even more profound by throwing more genre-busting moves towards the climax. It helps in covering up some of the flaws but also reveals new ones. Especially a scene where the character goes shopping raises a question on the validity of the whole theory.

Performance wise Prithvi seems to be resorting to his trademark mannerisms and reactions, merely playing to the script but never to his strengths. The actor we saw in Koode is nowhere in sight. Mamta Mohandas and Prakash Raj have nothing much to do in their cameos. Master Alok does well with his role, while Wamiqa Gabbi manages to shine but both suffer from sluggish writing and equally flat dialogues.

The solace is that 9 (nine) keeps to its promise of being a one of a kind theatrical experience for Malayalam films with its technical prowess. Yet it frustratingly falters on two of the biggest strengths of the industry – content and acting.  And as far as the talks about it being a unique sci-fi offering, the closest it gets is with the black hole, it manages to create in its script!

 

NINE (Malayalam)

Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Master Alok, Wamiqa Gabbi, Prakash Raj and Mamta Mohandas

Written and Directed by Jenuse Mohamed

Music by Shaan Rehman

Produced by Prithviraj Productions in association with Sony Pictures India

 

Rating:  2.5

 

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam Movie Review:

Godfather has been an inspiration for filmmakers across the globe. Closer home Mani Ratnam has adapted it as Nayagan. What makes Godfather interesting is that it showcases the human side of the mafia, people who are vulnerable and jealous like us.Continue reading “Chekka Chivantha Vaanam Movie Review:”

Bharat Ane Nenu Movie Review: Our Dear Leader

What defines a leader? Is it ascertained by how he takes care of his people? Is it based on how he conducts itself? Can it be established by how he makes a decision?Continue reading “Bharat Ane Nenu Movie Review: Our Dear Leader”

Sila Samayangalil: Trailer

sila-samayangalil-posterPriyadarshan who has just recently met with a huge commercial success in the form of his Malayalam film Oppam is now ready with his Tamil film, Sila Samayangalil (sometimes). Incidentally this marks his return to Tamil cinema after the well received Kanchivaram (2008) and also seems to be in the same space and unlike most of his films which are commercial entertainers. Produced by Prabhu Deva, Isari Ganesh and Alagappan, the film has music by Ilaiyaraaja while Sameer Thahir is the DOP and Beena Paul is the editor. Sila Samayangalil features Prakash Raj, Ashok Selvan, Shriya Reddy, M.S.Bhaskar, Nassar etc and is scheduled to play during the ongoing JIO MAMI 2016 film festival.Continue reading “Sila Samayangalil: Trailer”

Thozha Movie Review: An Unlikely Tale of Friendship That Works Quite Well

When I first heard of someone having acquired the official remake rights for the French Film The Intouchables (2011), I was mildly amused. Later when I heard that PVP Cinema was going to adapt the film in Tamil and Telugu, having bought the rights from Guneet Monga I was quite surprised, even a little annoyed I must admit. I was wondering why would they want to really play around with such a sensitive well-made film which is based on a real life story of two friends from totally contrasting backgrounds. With names like Nagarjuna and NTR Jr. being discussed initially, later giving way to Nagarjuna and Karthi and with a director who has a successful track record for making mainstream commercial films, Vamshi Paidipally I was somehow feeling uneasy. After all everything seemed to indicate that this could be the opposite of a simple, fun filled and realistic film, but then I was hoping to be proved wrong. Continue reading “Thozha Movie Review: An Unlikely Tale of Friendship That Works Quite Well”

Masterpiece Movie Review : The Leading Man May Be One, But Not This Testament To Mediocrity!

masterpeieceThe last couple of years have been pretty good for Kannada cinema. We have seen a willingness to shake off the cobwebs of the last decade and a half, when the average viewer was starved for some substantial entertainment and had to sit through endless mind-numbingly mediocre movies, only occasionally offset by the rare gem like Aa Dinagalu or Just Maath Maathalli. Therefore, it is highly disappointing that in a year that has seen some brilliant releases like Rangitaranga, Kendasampige, Naanu Avanalla Avalu, Aatagara and First Rank Raju, one has to also contend with the kind of mediocrity that a promising actor like Yash brings to the table with something like Masterpiece.Continue reading “Masterpiece Movie Review : The Leading Man May Be One, But Not This Testament To Mediocrity!”

Thoongaa Vanam (2015) Move Review: A Ticking Clock Which Doesn’t Start

Divakar (Kamal Haasan) is in the VIP lounge of a night club where a producer(Santhana Bharathi) points to the TV showing the news and laments that his completed film hasn’t been released due to him owing money to people and dejected fans have been sent back home. Kamal Haasan references the state of his film Uttama Villain on the day of its release. In another scene, his son picks up the football instead of taking up a cricket bat. In a city this has become quite a common occurrence these days, what with Messi and Ronaldo as well known in a household as Sachin or Dravid once were (please pardon me if I am being blasphemous). Once again, a troubled father-son relationship which we saw in Uttama Villain. There is,of course, more referencing. The lip locks Kamal is involved in with Madhu Shalini and the last line the son utters reference Kamal’s romantic hero image. I remember a function where Radhika Sarathkumar mentioned Kamal and the lip locks from his movies. Like in Uttama Villain and the movies which have becomes star vehicles, the self referencing is part of the script but unlike the star vehicles, these are organic inclusions, especially the lip locks. Smooth.Continue reading “Thoongaa Vanam (2015) Move Review: A Ticking Clock Which Doesn’t Start”

Temper (2015) Movie Review: The Moral Basis for Individualism

Puri Jagannadh is a director who is influenced by Ayn Rand.Temper his latest film is in a way similar to an earlier film of his,Businessman which dealt with the same idea of individuality and society.  Daya an orphan works for a small time goon, but he soon realizes the power a policeman has and thus he dreams of joining the police force to earn power and money.

Credit to Puri and story writer Vakkantham Vamsi for not giving any justification to Daya being corrupt or a modern day Robin Hood, Daya is a villain for major part of the film.  Temper is not a path breaking film, nor does it intend to be. The item song in the first 10 minutes makes it clear what the director is aiming for, the lyrics of which translates to this is an item song for boys to dance is evidence enough of his intention.Continue reading “Temper (2015) Movie Review: The Moral Basis for Individualism”