If 2018 was a grim year for Kerala (with Sabarimala and floods dominating the mental and emotional space of people), 2019 has been quite a distressing year for the nation as a whole with the fervid protests rocking the public space across. At a time like this when the nation is going through a rather tumultuous churning phase, it is kind of awkward to pause the political scene and take a peep into the musical world of entertainment that has enthralled our spirits this year. But life must go on – governments will come and governments will go but the strains of music shall continue to touch our souls as all great art does….Continue reading “Top 50 Malayalam Film Songs of 2019: A Compilation”
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.
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.
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!
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
Sometimes when a film that you are watching disturbs you a lot, moving you in a way that you are probably not too prepared for, it’s tough to really single out any particular moment from it which truly shook you. While Mahesh Narayanan’s Take Off is a film that works on almost all counts, however I definitely do wish to point out something that in particular is an arresting moment from the film. During the interval block we see Ibru/Ibrahim, the son of Sameera (Parvathy Thiruvoth) and Faizal (Asif Ali) in great distress. Well the 8 year old boy was unaware that his parents have been divorced for a while and that Sameera is now married to Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban), not just that she’s also now pregnant as well. On somehow sensing all this and not being comfortable with the realization, Ibru runs away from the hospital premises that they are in, only to be followed in close pursuit by Sameera and Shaheed. He doesn’t however end up running far though, as the film pauses for the interval break, we see violence erupt in the background, even as a deeply disturbed Ibru clings on to Sameera. Forget everything else, this moment alone is worth the ticket price of the film; it only reminds you that editor Mahesh Narayanan has made a fantastic debut as filmmaker now.Continue reading “Take Off Movie Review: A Take Off That One Will Cherish”
As 2016 comes to a close, there are familiar rumblings in the Malayalam film world about new film releases with the distributors, producers and theatre owners slugging it out leading to no releases on a Christmas weekend! This is a familiar scenario for Malayalam cinema buffs but let’s hope this perennial bickering gives way to new releases waiting to hit the road, for an industry which has perked up a bit recently in the mainstream space. Meanwhile, I decided to spend time to look at the audio tracks this year and see how they stack up.Continue reading “Top 20 Malayalam Film Songs of 2016: A Compilation”
Oru Muthassi Gadha (A Granny’s Mace) is a forthcoming Malayalam film that’s written by and directed by Jude Anthany Joseph who made a smashing debut with Ohm Shanthi Oshaana (2014). Produced by E for Entertainment, it stars newcomers in the lead roles of two grandmothers, with supporting characters played by Suraj Venjaramoodu, Lena, Vijayaragahavan, Rajeev Pillai, and Renji Panicker among others.Continue reading “Oru Muthassi Gadha: Trailer”
Let’s admit it, we have all faced adversities in some form or the other, or at least have known people who have faced it. We have also perhaps managed to overcome the same or know people who have been successful in fighting their way back. This is perhaps why we love to watch, or listen to tales of people, who face their crisis head on and emerge a winner. If conveyed in the right manner, there is definitely no way that the tale would not find acceptance. Somewhere down the line we perhaps even look for some inspiration in all these tales, whether we admit it or not. At the very outset there is nothing new that you find in Vineeth Sreenivasan’s latest film as director, JacobinteSwargarajyam. So a family that is prosperous, enterprising and level headed, faces an unexpected calamity, putting a big question mark over their very existence. What’s the crisis that the family faces, how do they handle it and whether they manage to conquer it being the story, now this is something that gives one a sense of déjà vu right?Continue reading “Jacobinte Swargarajyam Movie Review: The Family That Fights All Odds Together, Stays Together”
Velaiyilla Pattathari (VIP) was a film which took the youth by storm last year, not just in Tamil Nadu, but all over South India (even its Telugu dubbed version, Raghuvaran B.Tech was a hit). One of the main reasons for the film’s success being the fact that a lot of youngsters, especially engineers could relate to what Dhanush goes through the film. After all not every engineer gets a job; and if one talks of getting a job of his/her liking, it’s only even tougher. Our protagonist in G.Prajith’s debut Malayalam film ‘Oru Vadakkan Selfie’ (A Northern Selfie)-OVS from here on, Umesh (Nivin Pauly) is an engineering student with a backlog of 42 papers to clear. Umesh represents the typical care free youngster who is least bothered about his studies or his future and thinks that it is his birth right to depend upon his parents. So it is but natural to remember VIP early into the film and at one point Umesh even hums the title song of the film, but all the comparisons end there :). Neither is OVS anything like VIP and neither does Umesh turn out to be Raghuvaran (Dhanush), which is good to be honest. Continue reading “Oru Vadakkan Selfie Movie Review: Youthful Entertainer, but a tad too ambitious”
G.Prajith makes his debut as filmmaker with the Malayalam film Oru Vadakkan Selfie that’s written by Vineeth Sreenivasan and produced by Vinod Shornur.Featuring Nivin Pauly, Manjima Mohan, Aju Varghese, Neeraj Madhav, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Vijayaraghavan etc, the film has music by Shaan Rahman. Jomon T.John is the DOP while Ranjan Abraham is the editor.Continue reading “Oru Vadakkan Selfie: Trailer”
Midhun Manuel Thomas,the co-writer of one of the better Malayalam films of last year,Ohm Shanthi Oshaana makes his directorial debut now with Aadu-Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu (goat is a dangerous animal). Produced by Vijay Babu and Sandra Thomas, the film revolves around a she-goat named Pinki and a tug of war competition. Jayasurya plays the lead and the rest of the star cast includes Srinda Ashab, Vinayakan, Sandra Thomas, Chemban Vinod, Vijay Babu, Saiju Kurup, Bijukuttan etc. Music is by Shaan Rahman while Vishnu Narayan is the DOP and Lijo Paul is the editor.Continue reading “Aadu-Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu: Trailer”