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

Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi: Trailer

Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi Poster 2Anil Radhakrishnan Menon has been noticed for his 2 Malayalam films, North 24 Kaatham (2013) and Sapthamashree Thaskaraha (2014),films which appealed to the critics as well as the audience. He is now ready with his third film, Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi, a fantasy film produced by Prem Menon. The star cast includes Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod, Sunny Wayne, Bharath, Nedumudi Venu, Reenu Mathews, Jacob Gregory, Sudheer Karamana etc. Music is by Rex Vijayan,while Jayesh Nair is the DOP and Manoj Kannoth is the editor.Continue reading “Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi: Trailer”

Koothara: Trailer

Koothara PosterThe team that came up with the interesting Malayalam film, Second Show (2012) which saw the debut of Dulquer Salmaan now reunite to bring us their next film, Koothara. Directed by Srinath Rajendran, the film is written by Vini Vishwa Lal, has cinematography by Pappu and editing by N.B.Srikanth and Praveen K.L.While all of them featured in the previous film too, the music director this time is Gopi Sunder, the busiest music composer in Malayalam cinema these days. Sunny Wayne (also seen in Second Show), Tamil actor Bharath, Tovino Thomas, Bhavana, Gauthami Nair, Janani Iyer, Shritha Sivadas etc feature in the film and we also have the one and only Mohanlal in an extended cameo.Continue reading “Koothara: Trailer”

This Year’s Eid at the Cinemas: With Chennai Express, Thalaivaa and Neelaskasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi

Attarintiki Daredi PosterCome holiday time and that too when a major festival coincides with a weekend and it gets all the more potent for filmmakers who keep salivating at the very thought of their ‘biggie’ running riot at the box office. So with Eid this year falling on a Friday (Aug 9th) we had many films across India lining up for release. Continue reading “This Year’s Eid at the Cinemas: With Chennai Express, Thalaivaa and Neelaskasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi”

Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi: Trailer

NPCBNeelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (NPCB from here on) is a forthcoming Malayalam movie directed and produced by Sameer Thahir. Sameer who has handled the cinematography for various films like Big B, Daddy Cool, Diamond Necklace and Nidra turned director with Chaappa Kurishu and also directed one of the short segments in the just released Anchu Sundarikal. NPCB is supposedly the first road movie from Malayalam Cinema and revolves around two college students (Dulquer Salman and Sunny Wayne) who go on a road trip to Nagaland . Incidentally both Dulquer and Sunny made their debut together in Second Show. NPCB also features Joy Mathew, Manipuri actress Surja Bala, Bengali actress Ena Saha etc.  Written by Hashir Mohamed, the music is by Rex Vijayan while Gireesh Gangadharan is the DOP, Tapas Nayak the sound designer and A.Sreekar Prasad the editor.

NPCB is due for release in August this year. For now check out the first look teaser of the film.

Annayum Rasoolum Movie Review: A Tender Love Story and an Ode to a Lovely City

Annayum RasoolumRajeev Ravi is a well-known name to people following Hindi Cinema seriously. He’s mainly known for his collaboration with Anurag Kashyap whereby he’s been the DOP on films such as No Smoking, Dev D, Gulaal, That Girl in Yellow Boots and Gangs of Wasseypur (Part 1 & Part 2). But outside this association also he has handled the cinematography of films like 99 and Chandni Bar (his debut film) and in fact has left his mark on Malayalam Cinema as well with Classmates ( 2006 ) being his most successful film. Continue reading “Annayum Rasoolum Movie Review: A Tender Love Story and an Ode to a Lovely City”

Cinemausher’s Best Films of 2012

I love lists, especially year end list for movies! Last year when i had an opportunity to make this list, I had jumped to the occasion and this year fortunately (or unfortunately) for readers, I am churning out a list of my best films of 2012. Personally, for me, this year has been good with regards to movie especially with resurgence of Malayalam Cinema. If you ask me to describe 2012 at movies in one word, then it has to be “FANBOYISM”, we witnessed it with Agent Vinod in Bollywood, Gabbar Singh in Tollywood, and even in Hollywood with the release of The Dark Knight Rises. Whether fanboyism is good or bad for industry in the long run is altogether a different matter. Coming back to the list, this year has been bit difficult, probably due to many choices. Also after watching so many movies one tends to become desensitized while watching films, but it is always good to see some good work of art which touches your heart and moves you. Oh, and lastly, the list is not in any particular order. So here goes my Best Films of 2012:Continue reading “Cinemausher’s Best Films of 2012”