Bheeshma Parvam (2022) Malayalam Movie Review: When The Mahabharata Meets Godfather

The Godfather as a movie has been inspiring filmmakers across the globe even today. In India there have been many variations of Godfather which have been made right from Feroz Khan’s stylish Dharmatma, to Mani Ratnam’s gritty Nayagan, to Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar. 

Continue reading “Bheeshma Parvam (2022) Malayalam Movie Review: When The Mahabharata Meets Godfather”

Petta Movie Review: The Stars Are Out Tonight

There’s something to be said about the excitement in the air, as one walks into the theatre for a Rajinikanth movie. The old cliché about a Rajinikanth movie being an event didn’t ring true for a while, what with the critically reviled Kochadaiyaan and Lingaa and mixed feelings with regard to Kabali, but with Kaala, it seemed like the star for a change made way for the actor, and 2.0 was for the fans and fans alone.Continue reading “Petta Movie Review: The Stars Are Out Tonight”

Iraivi Movie Review: An Interesting Tale of Three (WO) MEN

At the very outset let me start by confessing that Karthik Subbaraj makes it difficult for critics when it comes to reviewing his films. I say difficult because he comes up with films for which it is tough to analyse things in detail as such and also avoiding serious spoilers as well. At the same time he packs in way too much into his films, that it is tough not to think, assimilate one’s thoughts and then come up with something that you feel is satisfactory enough for the film in question. With his third film, the well anticipated Iraivi now in theatres it’s also heartening to say that Karthik has managed to pull it off once again. He has come up with a film that once again carries his stamp of intelligent filmmaking and is completely different from his earlier works, Pizza and Jigarthanda. With Iraivi the focus is on just a few characters, 3 men and 3 women to be precise. It’s a story of multiple relationships, with nothing seen as simple and straight forward.Continue reading “Iraivi Movie Review: An Interesting Tale of Three (WO) MEN”

Iraivi: Trailer

Iraivi Poster 3Karthik Subburaj the maker of the acclaimed Tamil films Pizza (2012) and Jigarthanda (2014) is back with his next film, Iraivi (Goddess). Iraivi sees Karthik reunite with C.V.Kumar, the producer of Pizza. The film has an interesting star cast comprising of S.J.Suryah, Vijay Sethupathi, Bobby Simha, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Anjali, Pooja Devariya, Karunkaran etc. The music is by Santosh Narayanan while Sivakumar Vijayan is the DOP and Vivek Harshan is the editor.Continue reading “Iraivi: Trailer”

Kali Movie Review: Keep Your Rage in Check

While I generally do not lose my cool all that easily and claim to have a relatively high level of patience, there are rare occasions when on hitting the threshold level I have gone on to really get upset and vent out my anger. Looking back in time I wouldn’t say I am proud of those instances, especially those where unpleasantness set in. In fact a few years ago I actually ended up getting into a tight situation, something that could have easily been avoided. After that I have tried to be a lot more careful especially when I am outdoors. I’m sure if you look around it is always easy to spot people with a clear short fuse, you can find such people arguing with other motorists on a busy road, or screaming and abusing someone over his/her mobile or even appearing to fight or quarrel with their own family or friends. Stress is certainly one major reason for people to get provoked easily these days, thanks to the busy lifestyle that we are leading and the kind of pressure that we face, both in our professional and personal lives.Continue reading “Kali Movie Review: Keep Your Rage in Check”

Peruchazhi Movie Review: A Film of the Star, by the Star and for the Star

Note- Today (1st September,2014) MAM celebrates its 3rd anniversary as its been 3 years of madness about movies all the way. We thank all our authors, friends and well wishers for their support so far. Here’s to more more fun and madness after all we are Mad About Moviez, Cheers ! 🙂

After the stupendous success of Drishyam it was always going to be a humongous task for all filmmakers working with Mohanlal to come anywhere close to delivering a film that is not only successful but also manages to keep the fans and the general audience happy as well. B.Unnikrishnan’s Mr.Fraud, the actor’s first release this year saw the director trying to play it very safe by giving us a recycled tale with a contemporary touch and as expected the outcome was also not completely satisfactory. With Srinath Rajendran’s Koothara again the expectations were immense despite Mohanlal only having an extended cameo in the film. The reasons for the same being the actor’s peculiar getup and also the fact that it’s been ages since the veteran star has done a cameo and hence people were hoping that the film must have a lot of merit going for it which must have influenced his decision to accept the film. But what turned out was a complete disaster of a film and the extended cameo also turned out to be a totally bad decision.Continue reading “Peruchazhi Movie Review: A Film of the Star, by the Star and for the Star”

Burma: Trailer

Burma Poster 3Written and directed by Dharanidharan and produced by Sudharshan Vembutty, Burma is a forthcoming Tamil crime thriller. Featuring Michael Thangadurai, Sampath Raj, Atul Kulkarni, Reshmi Menon, Madhu Raghuram etc, the film has music by Sudharshan M.Kumar. Yuva is the DOP and Vivek Harshan is the editor of the film. Burma is due for release on 12th September.

Check out the trailer now.


Breaking Down Jigarthanda’s Recipe For Awesomeness: Final Part Of The Trilogy

What makes Jigarthanda so special? Here are my thoughts about the recipe for the movie, penned down in chronological order as per the running structure of the film. (Contains Spoilers)

Here is the link to Part-1 and link to Part-2 of this article.


Plot point 2:  shock it up!

As I stressed earlier, the director is not about half measures. If you want to shoot a scene in a bus, better make it engaging. If you want to record an interview, have it brimming with nervous energy. If you want to stage a spirited folk song, better put it inside a goddamned empty well! Simha taps the raw performer inside him as he gyrates wildly to the delightful beats of “Puzhudi Parakadhu”, clad in a dhoti! The tempo rises slowly and we are literally on our feet. This to me, is a perfect example of intelligent film making – having only one full track in your script right at the 100 minute mark. Myshkin did it in style in his ‘Yudham Sei’ and here Karthik repeats the trick. At a moment of heightened spirits, Karthik brings in plot point two through Lakshmi Menon, who is hungry for revenge against Sid for having used her just for gathering information about Sethu. In a fit of contempt, she suggests Sethu to play himself in the movie based on him. And that’s it! We laugh with Sid. But after a minute, we smile. Wow, here is a leading lady who doesn’t behave like one! When Simha gets obsessed about it, we know all hell is about to break loose. The mood is further intensified by Simha’s ‘maranakuthu’ right after his revelation – something I would cherish for long! Watch out for a follow-up scene where Sethu proceeds to give a taste of fear to Sid, where the proceedings are intelligently interwoven with the screening of ‘Thalapathi’ on television. The whole of this segment truly belongs to Simha, who has a field day with his punny punches and dialogue delivery, keeping us right at the edge of our seats.

Jigarthanda Poster 5

All is lost. Or is it?

The moment a battered Sid is joined by shop vendor Palani in the streets, we know we are in to witness an epic scene. Karthik weaves some pure emotional magic as Palani starts recounting his early days as an assistant director, with dialogues like “The thing about opportunity is that it mostly strikes only once. A lot depends on how you choose to treat it!” Piloerection stuff, again. And as the scene progressed, I was wondering at the screen writer’s skill at inciting his protagonist and the audience using the power of words. Here was a scene, where a character spoke a few lines, but conveyed a lot of unspoken emotions. Karthik has managed to charge us up for the last act.

The knight rises

In what pans out as a separate film altogether, Sethu and his henchmen are directed to take acting classes for the film by Sid. But I also had a feeling that this transition in mood was intentional. This segment of the movie has perhaps the best moments of the film humour-wise, but it’s also true that the character arc of Sethu doesn’t sync with this kind of a drastic transformation. True that Sethu has seen the potential for fame, and will go to any lengths for the sake of it. But the kind of abuse he withstands from his acting teacher, though hilarious, kind of undermines the character. But Karthik knows this and hits gold with casting Simha as Sethu. Simha’s ease at both ruthlessness and comedy comes to his rescue, as he along with Karan and his gang take us through an insanely funny ride, so intense that our stomachs hurt. Karan in fact tries to steal the thunder right under the nose of Simha with his Silambattam practise, while Simha hits back by bringing the roof down with his attempts at romance.

Jigarthanda Still 4

Lights. Camera. Laughter!

Jigarthanda-Simha 2Enter ‘Aaranya Kandam’ fame Guru Somasundaram as the acting guru, and what had already been a laugh riot, just turns totally explosive. Still trying to make sense of the bizarre con-job that had been played on us, we laugh our guts out at Simha and Karan explaining parotta and mutton sukka in ‘gibberish’. In an extremely manipulative move, Sid returns the favour to Lakshmi by hooking her to Sethu, and the dialogues here like ‘Ivaru periya Virgin Rowdy!’ at unexpected times work really well. Karunakaran’s emotive brilliance shadows all others in an extremely well executed scene, where Guru shortlists the actors. We are still caught between getting lured into this and asking “Why the hell then did Karthik build up Sethu’s character so much in the first half?” But before we start looking for answers, the atrociously hilarious ‘shooting sequence’ starts in the background of Santhosh’s inventive ‘Baby’ soundtrack. Despite the characterisation going for a toss, Karthik Subbaraj does sell off his deception pretty well, mainly because of some smart writing and non-stop black comedy sketches. Take Simha off from the equation, and this part of the film might fall flat. Every movie will have a line which defines it. You would know when you hear it! Here, it comes from Simha in a moment of mismatched sentiments. The way he mouths the “Acting the part of a gangster is tougher than being one!” line is enough to identify the real protagonist of the movie. Though the director is able to extract what he wants for his storyline, it’s also true that some of the sequences feel like a stage drama. But we don’t care. We have been sucked into the con-labyrinthine with a confidence and freshness that couldn’t be debated.

The reveal

As the film featuring Sethu is completed, curiosity about the consequences starts getting the best of us. Karthik deftly builds up the suspense here by including some tongue-in-cheek scenes, showing Sethu’s ‘heights of power’ techniques to bring in the audience to the theatres. As Sid waits outside and the first show is screened, Karthik takes the final plunge. I found the reveal perfectly timed (literally, with a countdown!), logically quite well-explained and skilfully orchestrated. Though it reminded me of quite a few earlier films, I found Karthik’s version different. My greater concern was in fact the way he was going to plot Sethu’s character arc and take the story forward from here. Sethu had been royally transformed from an arrogant fearsome gangster to something very polar, without his knowledge. Would that mean something?  We can’t take our eyes from the screen. We are glued waiting for answers.


The final showdown

The beauty of the final showdown is that it is shown as repeating jump cuts of events occurring in three contrasting places – A beautiful landscape, a house with an ongoing funeral and a theatre. That’s certainly a award-deserving, phenomenal show by the editor Vivek Harshan, who silently proves his brilliance with every opportunity he gets.  Cinematographer Gavemic brings in frames which seem straight out of a big budget Hollywood movie. The final confrontation in the open fields in particular is so well conceived and crafted that along with Santhosh Narayanan’s soulful background score, it becomes an instant classic! There is a particular long shot where Sethu opens the tall doors of the theater and walks in, the sole window lighting casting a long shadow behind him,  which slowly reduces in length as he walks into the theater until it becomes the same as the man. Talk about similes! Having wondered about the significance of Sethu’s mother in this story, I was literally moved to tears when the scene involving her unfolded. Sethu realizing the fact that spreading happiness is much tougher and more rewarding than demanding fear has been brought out exceptionally well by Karthik by staging some well-planned and written sequences. We have been just treated to a stunner!

Stunning closing images

In arguably the best resolving sequence in recent Indian cinema, we cross-cut between the first scene we were introduced to at the beginning and another scene involving Sid narrating the story of his next film to Vijay Sethupathi. The first scene is played from the front this time, and Santosh again grabs the opportunity to show why he is such a talented musician. The scene involving Sid and Vijay Sethupathi amused me to the core, especially for the subtext in it. Does Karthik Subbaraj convey a subtle message, to be picked up only by the discerning eye? Was it an indirect reference to the plight of directors who want to stay true to their script? Is this the only way, a filmmaker today can pursue the film of his dreams today? As Sethu started falling off the chair in slow motion, and Sid began walking back from Vijay’s office, I was smiling uncontrollably. And as the screen turned black, the theater rose for a standing ovation. I had just witnessed a beautiful work of art, which was perhaps one of the best genre defying efforts in contemporary Indian cinema. Hats off, Karthik Subburaj for giving us an entertaining film, where art and commerce make a cheerful pact!

The end.

Breaking Down Jigarthanda’s Recipe For Awesomeness: Part Two Of The Trilogy

What makes Jigarthanda so special? Here are my thoughts about the recipe for the movie, penned down in chronological order as per the running structure of the film. (Contains Spoilers)

Here is the link to Part-1 of this article


The nerve-wracking ‘Game of Thrones’

You have been warned. “When you play the GOT, you win or you die” 

Karthik Subbaraj’s dazzling writing prowess blends with some top-notch technical assistance from cinematographer Gavemic and editor Vivek (akin to milk, china-grass and nannaari syrup in Jigarthanda) to make this segment of the movie delicious, yet brimming with raw gritty nervous energy. Karthik stages a couple of convincing incidents to get Sethu suspicious of a clandestine spy shadowing on him. Lo and behold, the game of thrones swings into motion and the tension is gradually mounted as Karthik Subbaraj makes an attack on Sethu seem imminent. In this tense atmosphere, he again brilliantly sneaks in a ridiculously funny segment where Sid and Karan get caught spying on Sethu’s house. Karunakaran in particular is at his hilarious best in this scene, completely overshadowing Sid with his impeccable timing in slapstick. This segment results in a young enthusiastic chap (Soundar) from the gangster gang being called upon to have an eye on Sid and Karan. While this prospect has us expecting some hard-core action, Subbaraj utilizes it initially for extracting some nervous chuckles. Intelligent! Somewhere in between these riotous scenes, when we are least expecting it, Karthik once again unleashes the trickster in him, in style.

Jigathanda-Siddharth and Simha

The chef-d’oevre sequence

In probably Karthik’s master-scene, Gavemic’s camera shows the gangster gang sharing a loud joke in a theater canteen, while Sethu gets up with a bhajji in hand and starts walking. The camera follows him as he makes small-talk with a cook and proceeds to take a plate to protect himself from the rains as he crosses over to the adjacent theater premises. The tense unease keeps scaling as the camera still follows him through the hall’s passage to the toilet, where he meets the cleaner. Still nothing. We wait in bated breath for the scene to explode. But not yet! Where is Karthik leading us to? A vomiting alcoholic is about to get thrashed. Is it? No. Then it happens. We stare astonished at the pomposity of the scene, and the way the scriptwriter in Karthik has staged it in the background of the “Ennadi Meenaatchi” track from ‘Ninaithalae Inikum’. And after a minute of mixed emotions, when Sethu nonchalantly proceeds to do the ‘thing’ he came for, we just can’t help but clap at the brilliance we have just witnessed. Simha makes it look so easy and believable, and it has grandly served its purpose. We are hooked, surrendering ourselves to the mastery.

Deception’ – Level: Awesome

The master of deception in Karthik starts to take over slowly. On befriending ‘Soundar’ from the gang, Sid hides a spy mike inside his MP3 player after coming to know that the chap has been called upon for accompanying Sethu for an ‘event’. Here again, the detailing is top-notch as the ‘shadow-trail’ is triggered into action. The sketch to murder Sethu’s rival Sekar is so convincingly pitched that even with our now heightened cop instincts, we fail to doubt it. Now, Sekar has to make an escape! But Karthik doesn’t want an inch of lazy film-making in his frames and hence what we get is a hint of a bizarre half-orgy, which has us pondering over the countless possibilities it opens up for the next scene. But then, in a moment of sudden reveal, the tables are turned and we gape at our glorious deception. Having been royally cheated, we turn our attention to the plight of Sid and Karan, who have been eavesdropping on these events through the spy-mike. But the awesomeness of that sequence is not over yet. In another esoteric and superbly offbeat moment, Sethu wearing a Leonardo mask himself, returns the favour to Sekar. Now if that’s not genius, what is?

Jigarthanda Still 2

The electrifying mid-point

Karthik wants to heighten the tension a notch higher and raise the stakes of the protagonist. What better way to do it than have Simha (playing Sethu) converse directly over the microphone to Sid. Sparks fly and incessant claps mask the words, as Simha in a tight close-up once again proves why he is such a versatile actor. His eyes speak volumes and his tainted teeth grit in anger, as he figures out the people behind the spy job. And the inevitable happens within minutes. Santhosh Narayanan and Gavemic make this sequence stirringly ‘Tarantinoesque’ with an outré background score and awe-inspiring visuals. As Sid and Karan trying to make an escape, are greeted at the door by Sethu’s gang, our pulses go racing to one twenty beats per minute. And as the letters ‘Intermission’ pops out of the gun with a whistle, Karthik Subbaraj can take pride in making our hearts pop out to our mouths.

The ‘real’ con-job begins

In a unique demonstration of one of the best con-jobs ever done on a cinematic audience, Karthik Subbaraj pulls off an extreme sort of irreverent hilarity on us, the unsuspecting spectators, especially after a nail-biting interval segment. Personally, when Sid and Karan lure Sethu into being excited at the prospect of a feature film based on him, I found it quite convincing (at least at this moment, especially with the ‘Thalapathi’ reference and all). Karthik uses this platform to create an uproarious interview segment with the gang facing a mounted DSLR. This did offend the rationalist in me for a while, but the explanation that Sethu was blinded by a strong yearning for fame sounded quite persuasive. Here again, the unapologetic tone with which Karthik Subbaraj continues to portray his protagonist surprised me. Sid wants real crime events for his script and he doesn’t give two hoots about the appalling nature of the offences, narrated to him by Sethu and his gang. He even breaks into a broad smile as he fixes Vijay Sethupathy as Sethu in his mind, and lets the events narrated by Sethu play out in his mind as an organised screenplay.


Irreverent humour, brilliantly unleashed!

The character delineation of Sethu is set up from an interesting incident in his school days, which later comes across as an extremely smart move by the director. The writing is exquisite in these Sid’s script-writing sequences, with some spine-chilling dialogues delivered in a comic tone. Simha as Sethu lives up to his part and Santhosh provides the necessary mood with his quirky ‘Thanda’ soundtrack. Two absolute gems in ‘black comedy’ in this segment, one involving Sid asking Sethu to infuse some real action into a Panchayat scene while filming it for his reference and the other involving a charge-drained camera, delve deep into the character of Sid, in addition to bringing down the roof with laughter. Karthik writes arguably the best hilarity of all, when he doesn’t spare even the Russian roulette in his spoof. In yet another side-splitting scene, Karunakaran and Simha are at their rocking best when the former gets his throat almost split. Writing comedy is no mean task, and the element of surprise is what makes it click. Surprise, yes! Both the scriptwriter and the con-man in Karthik are in their elements as he slowly steers the story away from our imagination.

To be continued…