The Shining – Devastatingly Kubrical

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[Pic – gonemovies.com]

Every time I want to write on film released long back, I fall short. To think about it, I realize that it’s the hesitation that one goes through in re-hashing stuff that has been already said and analysed. So when I wanted to write on Anjali, Unnal Mudhiyum Thambi or even Sridhar’s Kathalikka Neramillai, I was unable to. Either I compulsorily procrastinate or I consciously forget to write about it. The same isn’t true with The Shining. This is the 25th year of The Shining’s release. Watching it even now on a 27″ inch screen, which is nothing close to a movie screen, I was awestruck. I was stunned and floored. A stream of thoughts and emotions ran across as I watched the film and it is still disturbing me after two days. Not many films have disturbed me as Kubrick’s movies. First it was Mahanadhi, second it was Hey Ram and ofcourse Schindler’s List.

Based on Stephen King‘s third published novel, The Shining is regarded as an epic of modern horror films. While in school, I had stayed awake to read the scariest of Stephen King’s stories. My favorite of them being IT. The Shining isn’t even close to ‘IT’ in terms of the storyline. Its just the way how Stanley Kubrick has fancied it, has made it into a prodigious flick.

The premise of shining comprises of three primary characters and a grand hotel. Jack Nicholson, a man suffering from mid-age crisis takes up a job as the winter caretaker in far-flung hotel near Denver. When he, his wife and his kid Danny re-locate to the hotel for pursuing his job, the hotel gets closed for the winter season. The family gets stuck in an improbable situation that makes them undergo sheer terror, hardship and loss. With just these characters Kubrick terrifies the audience thoroughly.

I watched The Clockwork Orange and was amazed by Kubrick’s flamboyant manner of film-making. He is probably the first director to understand the grammar of the big screen. His sense of imagery and colors are thought provoking beyond doubt. Having watched few other older films, I had my expectations set for haunting images and mesmerizing music in this one. My assumptions were blown-away, for good. The images and the background music are nothing close to description. You have to watch it to believe it. Even as the logo of Warner Bros fades away in the first shot, the movie opens into a huge land of wilderness. The water and a strip of mountains around stay still as the camera, from the helicopter, locates a volkswagen travelling on the mountain road. The camera[from the helicopter] starts to zoom in on the car and also starts to descend, it cuts through the road and flies back in air over the water. With a movie like Shining, one would expect a dark start but this one is just out-of-the-world experience. I could easily vote that this is one of the best opening shot of any film ever made.

Through out the movie, there are all types of horror. We see the ‘ghosts’ briefly, we await the unknown, we listen to some outrageous background noises that scares your spirits, we go on a horror-and-seek in a maze of snow. This is probably one of the success formula for the movie. Kubrick has used all types of horror to make this a pilot for horror films. As Shelley Duvall, the wife of Jack Nicholson, in the movie, scans the bundles of paper types by Jack throughout the day time. She sees nothing but All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The BGM and the slow camera pan during this scene affrights even the unscared. The hotel with it’s grandeur and technicolor restrooms plays it’s own part in increasing heartbeat. The use of mirror in the movie enormous. Kubrick surprises with the mirror shots and also scares you at the same time.

Jack Nicholson with his eyebrows lifted gives peculiar stare and shouts, Here’s Johnny. It’s been written and written again that Jack is one of the finest actors of previous generation. Proves it with ease even from the first scene. Danny Lloyd as the kid is brilliant. It’s been said that Kubrick scanned through 5000 kids for the casting of Danny’s character. The effort didn’t go for a toss. Danny delivers and even as the camera is stuck very closely in his face, his expressions show the mature actor in him. As we watch The Making of Shining we know how Kubrick, with his loud shouts during filming made acting a cake walk for Danny. A performance to remember for ever and ever and ever(watch the movie to see the significance of this line). Shelley Duvall starts out unassumingly and as her character grows, tries to vanquish Jack himself.

Though the motifs and the ending of The Shining has in debate over the years by Kubrick’s fans but for a normal unassuming viewer its nothing more than a top-class horror flick. No one is complaining. For each of the audience gets what he is upto. The Shining isn’t one of those b-grade Hollywood horror flicks made in shoestring budget. Kubrick stresses on the fact that a movie needs the grandeur it demands. His lavish spending on the sets and the art hasn’t gone waste. Even when you are making a horror movie, make it as the best of the genre. It’s Kubrick’s philosophy on film-making, as he quotes, “One man writes a novel. One man writes a Symphony. It’s essential for one man to make a movie”. For he is undoubtedly, THE ONE.

Anniyan – Aala Vudu !!

Anniyan

tribute
noun
1. An expression of admiration or congratulation: commendation, compliment, congratulation (often used in plural), praise. See praise/blame.
2. A formal token of appreciation and admiration for a person’s high achievements: salute, salvo, testimonial.

screw up
verb
To harm irreparably through inept handling; make a mess: ball up, blunder, boggle, botch, bungle, foul up, fumble, gum up, mess up, mishandle, mismanage, muddle, muff, spoil. Informal bollix up, muck up. Slang blow1, goof up, louse up, snafu. Idioms: make a muck of.

Sometimes tributes end up as screw-ups. Though being inspired and inspired again by his movies, Shankar fails poorly to display his tact in handling social subjects with proficient ease. Anniyan ends up being a bad exercise in execution and is undoubtedly a defective tribute to his own classics. I was sold even during the first 15 minutes of the movie. After that, just like a bad one day cricket match, the movie treads into an unrealistic path with a face mask of realism, only to bore you and me to the core.

Coming from the S A Chandrasekhar factory, Shankar has always stuck chord with problems dodging the society and has delivered escapist fantasy flicks with earnestness in story-telling. Boys was his first full-length realistic movie with little exaggerations sprinkled throughout. With the entire Tamil Nadu taking a holy dip to remain virgins by making Boys a super-dooper flop, this is what they did to a human called Shankar, whose directing career graph, until then, knew no south-pole bends. I can perfectly sympathize Shankar for being hurt with the hungama made with Boys at the box-office. At the same time, one would also expect a mature director to rebound from the fall, make a movie that would be applauded by the same crowd which made his previous gem a failure. Instead, Shankar goes on a remix mode and loses the artistic credibility, what kollywood had on him.

Anniyan had a much better message storyline than Indian or Muthalvan. It calls for a root cause analysis of social issues and not harvesting weeds in the bureaucracy. This probably should have been the first of Shankar’s movies as it shouts for a bigger attention than the reformation to education department, like in Gentleman. While I strongly believe in the philosophy of watching a movie as presented instead of suggesting changes to someone who conceived it, Anniyan made me cross the rule. If made appropriate changes to the basic story-line, Anniyan would become a classic. It ends a sore interlude in a beautiful symphony. If only…If only the MPD wasn’t used and misused, Anniyan would emerge as a winner of sorts.

There are logically unanswered questions, poor characterization, terribly bad screenplay and of course some hyped acting in abundance, throughout the movie. While the protagonist, Ambi has a truly admirable character his alter egos are preferred to be forgotten as nightmares. Contrary to popular belief, in my opinion, Ambi aka ‘Rules’ Ramanujam isn’t a loser. He is one of the stalwarts of this society. As we see hundreds of social blunders happening within our vicinity, most of us escape from the scenario. Ambi at least has this innocent confidence to fight out the blunders right at that spot. Though being dishonored by others, Ambi is a true citizen of this society. If we were take a poll, as to how many of us would engage in questioning a dada molesting a girl in the pallavan bus, Ambi would win hands-down. Ambi is an Anniyan in this country for that matter. With a country full of escapists and hypocrites of various degrees, who can just make passing comments on social issues while traveling bus or writing about what should happen to the politics in blogs, like us, Ambis are rare breed of brave heroes. Aayitha Ezhuthu‘s Michael Vasant and Anniyan Ambi have similar milestones, only that they choose different ways to reach there.

Vikram was a huge let-down. While his body language was nearly perfect to the ‘timid’ Ambi character, his intonation as Remo and Anniyan were unbearable. Vikram portrays Anniyan’s killing-of-the-bad with only a revengeful attitude and not with a fierceness of achieving a goal. By just rolling the eyes and blowing air like Arjun, I don’t think the characterization of Anniyan was complete. I only wished Vikram to have understood the subtle fierceness, Kamalhassan displayed as Indian Thatha. Even the thatha had fire in him to cleanse the society and it was brought out in a manner, with a devastatingly underplayed role. While I’m not comparing Kamal Hassan to Vikram, Vikram might need good directors to help him with true-to-life characters.

Prakashraj’s character not only ends up a bad joke but also helps in bringing down the interest in the movie. While Vivek provides some good escape from the boredom, Sada disappoints as the heroine. Acknowledged artists like Nasser, Prakash Raj, Nedumudi Venu, Cochin Haniffa, Kalabavan Mani are wasted with tiny unimportant characters. The Thiruvayaaru festival ends up as a hyped up marketing effort.

It’s a little annoying to sit through a movie with bad continuation and screenplay. The minute you have Anniyan executing Garuda Puranam type punishments, you know you are heading in the wrong direction. Garuda Puranam has a good mythology behind it. And I think it wasn’t presented well on screen. The loosely hanging strands of hair in-front of the camera, made me hate the man called Anniyan. It’s so amateurish to have shots like that. I only doubt if Shankar and Sujatha ever saw the movie before it released to public. While I believe they have a good eye for detail, how could they ever compromise on such bad shots and characterization of Anniyan? Yet again, childish graphics end up as villains for Shankar movies. With so much talked about technology involved in making movies, I can’t believe shots of Anniyan website having such poor quality graphics which any local graphic artistic can make.

Harris Jayaraj disappoints even more than Shankar and Vikram. And one is forced to think the impact of having Rahman for a movie like this. The BGMs are nearly missing while songs are a mediocre effort by Harris who has some good numbers before. I loved the Kaadhal Yaanai song but bad picturisation made me avoid it. Even the similar Muthalvan’s Shakalaka Baby had some nice picturisation. I’m unable to distinguish between Mani Kandan and Ravi Varman’s splendid cinematography. It’s lovely to have two good cameramen for the same movie. Camera ramping has become a sort of Shankar trademark and I just love the way he uses it at right place of the movie to speed it up without having to edit them.

Sujatha’s dialogues not only help in setting up the movie, it helps to ground the movie and make it relatable to the audience. It’s a potent combination to have such realistic dialogues with a fantasy story. Only that Anniyan had overdone the fantasy part. But I wasn’t for comparing Singapore to India. It wasn’t comparing apples and apples.

Anniyan isn’t certainly a movie; Shankar could be proud making it. I would only expect a sensible director like Shankar to bounce back and raise his own bar, instead of getting crippled to the joint discouraging effort of the media and public for his Boys. He probably should be making small budget flicks of his own taste instead of such big budget movies like this, to escape out of the image he has created amidst the public. Not only would we get a classy director Shankar who can make movie watching a thorough experience, it would also allow him to pursue his endeavors. Whatsoever, Anniyan would remain as a biggest blooper of recent times.

War of the Worlds – From IPOD to Tripod attacks

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I’ve never walked out of a movie hall after a Spielberg flick like this, so untouched. Coming from H.G.Wells novel of the same name, War of the Worlds fails to impress because of it’s loose knitted screenplay and the influence of numerous movies that have stemmed over the years on alien attack. Considered to be the Mother of Alien Attack fiction, this HG Wells book is best read with its context in place than to be seen. Spielberg fails to impress, leaving a die-hard fan think, whether summer blockbusters are made just for seizing the box-office.

We have this husky voice-over of Morgan Freeman, quoting first few lines from the book and after that the camera briefly pans over the post-9/11 skyline hinting us on the social/political metaphors, the movie is set to deliver. When the aliens [not essentially our favored Martians] attack through the tripods [not IPODs], buried under the earth’s crust some million years back, the day on earth is July 4th. As the world slowly succumbs to the alien invasion, a father tries to save his kids from the terror and in the process fights for the survival of human race. All this and more masterfully told by Spielberg from one man’s point of view, just as the original story of HG Wells.

Instead of the thrilling dialogues and clichéd super-hero characters of the Independence Day types, War of the Worlds feature a rather unassuming divorced dad who runs from/after the alien creatures to save his kids. In the process of saving his family, he emerges as an unsung hero by making on-the-fly moral decisions, at times of catastrophe. Ever alien attack movie, including this, doesn’t even outline the reason for their attack, leaving the audience to ponder. As the dock worker, Ray Ferrier [Tom Cruise] tries to ‘baby sit’ his teenage kids over the weekend, he has the slightest clue of what terror is. Even as he looks up to the sky, he is puzzled by the weird movement of leaves moving to the eye of a storm. When he witnesses, the tripods plunging from the earth and breaking buildings with a practiced ease, he knows his kids are in danger. And as the tripods send rays of light to just evaporate people, leaving their clothes flying in air, he knows they are under attack.

With the grey dust on his coats and panic stricken people running on streets, Spielberg subtly reminds of the 9/11 attacks and the makes a statement on how men on earth, wage wars-of-survival at times like these. There are no worlds involved here. Just a single family’s witnessing of the Armageddon and its aftermath is misnamed as War of the Worlds. We see the blood sucking tripods and the creepy creatures called aliens walking into a house to inspect it and how a young girl kid watches it with open jaws. This long sequence has Spielberg’s brilliance except that I wished he never showed the aliens on screen like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. The family also gets into trouble because an unruly mob attacks them. This is one silent yet powerful sequence displaying the mental attitude of a panic-driven mob.

While there are sensational episodes all over, the movie as a whole fails to impress. The sweet ending framed for the summer blockbuster is a true let down. While I was largely excited by major part of the movie, it fails to deliver in the end. It’s an intelligent move for Spielberg to stick with one man’s point of view in the movie and that by itself should be able to grip the audience. It’s the screenplay that doesn’t allow the audience to cuddle up with the movie. It’s detached at various fronts, especially due to the characterization of Tom Cruise. Also logical errors prevent from getting related to the story.

Tom Cruise is missing while Dakota Fanning as his daughter is impressive. But the impressive of all is the Justin Chatwin as Robbie, a teenaged rebellious son of Tom Cruise. Not to forget the impressive short note of Tim Robbins as the man with the gun. The special effects are as brilliant as any other Spielberg flick and one reason why the movie has to be watched in a big screen. Vivid images of the dead bodies seeping through water, a speeding-burning train, blood sucking of the tripods and ofcouse the human sucked by laser with their clothes flying on air, show the doomsday without any pretensions. John Williams scores the music just like every other Spielberg film and this one has some extraordinary BGMs with a classical tone. This movie is one good example of what digital film-making is capable of. Yet another long timer with Spielberg, Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography scintillates just like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

Though the movie is set to be a summer blockbuster and money spinner at box-office, this isn’t the best of Spielberg. While I am sure, I could identify Spielberg in his next coming films, hugely missing him in this one, will be a long-running nightmare for me. Again, I’ve never walked out of a movie hall after a Spielberg flick like this, so untouched.

Chandramukhi – The Second Coming of Super Star

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Kann Emaikkum Nodiyill Ada Ethuvum Nadakkum
Ithu Enakku Therium Naalai Unakku Puriyum
Hey!! Anjukkulla Naala Vaiyu
Aazham Paathu Kaala Vaiyu

reads the lyrics of the superhit song Annanoda Paatu in Chandramukhi. You might wonder if they were written based on the Baba’s lessons learnt document. May or May not be. Baba wasn’t the first of Rajini’s movie that failed in box-office. Yet it was a notable fall because the media was on all-time high about Rajini. It wasn’t the be a crucial time in Rajini’s career. He wasn’t in one of those if-this-fails-i’m-lost-forever times of his film career. Still, Rajini tasted the failure gracefully and refunded the financial loss to his distributors. What about his diehard fans ? He deceived them with Baba. He never repaid them nor even reassured them. Was completely out of the movie scene for more than 3 years after the Baba disaster. He probably wanted to go by his own dialogue, Sonnathaium Seivaen Sollathathaiyum Seivaen. Comes back with bang in Chandramukhi providing wholesome entertainment for the entire family. He treads in the most popular and the most safest roads of movie making that encompasses entertainment values for the masses.

Just like any AVM flick, Chandramukhi has an amazing proportion of commercial cinema for everyone. There is a ‘story’, some suspense, comedy, super hit songs, stunts and hey as a bonus it also has Rajini in it. Instead of the story getting twined around Rajini, for a change, Rajini ties all the elements together. If only it was the other way, he had to do more gimmicks and adhere to the silly formulas. More of this a little later.

Chandramukhi premise is ripped-off from a wonderful Malayalam classic, Manichitrathazhu. A haunting and a realistic movie directed by Fazhil has become a suspense thriller with lots of exaggeration[the graphical anaconda snake] and commercial compromises. I would hate to compare Chandramukhi to Manichitrathazhu because they just have the same story premise but the intention behind making them are a lot different. Apples and Oranges. The video shops are going to be haunted for Manichitrathazhu video allowing more people to understand the taste of malayalam movies.

Chandramukhi is a story of a girl suffering from multiple personality disorder also known as split personality. A curious urban girl comes in contact with a ancient story of a dancer Chandrmukhi, becomes interested in her and in the process of knowing more about her, gets affected with MPD. Before she gets too dangerous for others to handle, a psychiatrist treats her appropriately by risking his life. I didn’t want to write even this storyline but it’s just to show the point in which Rajinikanth’s character gets importance. It’s only in the last 20 minutes Rajinikanth does something closer to his character. Until then he just there to provide fun time for his viewers.

Jyothika the wonder girl does a great job in the title role. It’s probably the movie for which she will be talked about. Even though there is just too much kajal in her eyes, trying to dub her as a ghost, she gives a performance that will be rewarding. For someone so charming and fun filled even in the movies, a ferocious role must have been a challenge. She walks away with full marks for the acting sequence in the final scenes and her version of tounge twisting flirt, Laka..Laka..Laka. If only they would have downplayed her make-up and didn’t glare her eyes with those extra lights, the role would have been remembered for a long time. Nevertheless it’s her movie and she emerges as a grand winner.

Going by the popular mis-conception that there weren’t many punch dialogues for a Rajini movie, Rajinikanth’s tightrope walk in Chandramukhi paid-off well. If only there were many of the so-called-punch-dialogues, they would be analysed in every possible angle by the media and they would wage a virtual battle between him and some unassuming political star. Rajinikanth’s huge fan club must be having a great time watching their Thalaivar coming back to the Rajathi Raja type comedy where the story dictates comedy dialogues and not the other way.

With that Matrix stlye introduction Rajini’s character gets pulled into the movie real quick. But his character stands out for a long time until he starts to unleash the Chandramukhi mystery. It’s true that his voice has lost quite a bit of it’s grace. Still he has a powerful on-screen presence and has a fairly good sense of humour. Though it’s mostly of the slapstick genre, we enjoy it thoroughly. While he comes in the disguise of the king in the final scenes, he reminds the villainy roles he played during the yesteryears.

Rajini probably wanted to get out of the political blackhole into which he was drawn into with/without his consent. He probably wanted to relive his good ol’e days of Super Star. In that manner, even though Chandramukhi doesn’t showcase or boast the superstar status with magnificent BGMs or Vishk…Vishk sounds, Rajini comes back full swing. Choosing a story for his re-launch after Baba was so important for him. Chandramukhi which had a perfect script for an entertainment movie, was also successful in Malayalam and in Kannada which must have pushed him to use the script in his favour. It worked magic for him. While there could arguments as to how the movie could/might have been taken, with the given output it brings back the Super star as he was celebrated in the late 80’s. Welcome back !!

Prabhu, a very good actor gets very little chance to make an impact. He was probably very worried about the business of Chandramukhi being the producer and didn’t wanted so much on-screen presence. Vadivelu is on the track. While I would have still preferred to have Janakaraj as Rajini’s sidekick, Vadivelu was also comical. Nayanthara does her part neatly. But she was over-hyped during the pre-release promos. Good artists like Nasser and Sheila get wasted in the not-so-important roles.

Vidyasagar would get a second chance with Rajini for his next film. His BGMs thrills and keeps the tempo of the movie, high. Annanoda Pattu is the ‘once more’ type. Raa Raa is a melodious song and everyone watch it just for the Lakka Lakka sequence. My personal favorite is the Athinthom song which had shades of Illayaraja as mentioned in the music review. Some fine piece of artistry by Thotta Tharani. However it could have been avoided which would have made the film more realistic. But a Rajini film requies this grandeur. Director Vasu would be a happy man from Chandramukhi’s success. He has did a good job of bringing the best out of the crew except that he could have reduced the hyperboles to the story.

Leaving all the pre-concieved notions of recent Rajini flicks, if only you could be open, Chandramukhi is a paisa vasool. If you are the nitpicky type, trying to grip on the loopholes of the movie, Chandramukhi isn’t for you. Truly, not many are criticizing with a Rajini movie. For this is even more a special film, announcing the second coming of the Super Star. If only Rajini would stick to same film-making rules as of Chandramukhi, his fans would be the luckiest of all. For this way, instead of falling for the image trap, Rajini can play roles of his age which would be readily welcomed by kollywood. Hate being cliched but then this could just a beginning. There is a definetly a long way for him to go.

On the Road with Mumbai Xpress – Review

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The camera refuses to move. Stops panning and stands uptight on Vaiyaapuri’s face as he comically remarks about the kidnap plan to the deaf Kamal Hassan. Half an inch more and Vaiyaapuri’s nose would brush the camera lenses. What is an unrestrained close-up like this doing in this comedy film. Out-of-place, you would feel. So did I. As more-and-more similar shots came more-and-more closer to the characters, you know it’s different. And by that definition of different, Mumbai Xpress is very different from the comedies that we have had before. It’s an offshoot of on-the-road movie genre. By a unwritten rule, we have had on-the-road movies either being thriller or serious types. Mumbai Xpress tries to explore the arena of on-the-road comedies. It tries.

Even as Pasupathi(codenamed as A) etches the kidnap plan of a rich business magnet’s son, to his sidekicks, the movie takes-off in a high speed. From then on, it runs express speed to hire Kamal Hassan in the kidnap plan and execute it. All of this told in a way that makes you think the movie was truly shot in a single day. Singeetham’s directorial experience comes to play in executing this kidnap sequence with a professional touch. The Kidnap plan which looks like the plot of the story gets done with half hour with top class comical twists, turns from the top of a crane. The Vande Matharam sequence in the school being the best of all sequence in the movie.

While the first half completes with a bike chase, one is left to wonder how Kamal & Singeetham would manage to drag this rather simple story into the next half. The second half occupies the commercial aspects for the film. A rushed-up romance that wouldn’t gel with the plot, introduction of new characters and new confusions in the aftermaths of kidnap and resolving these knots make up for a dragging second half. Even as I say that the second half goes dragging, there are scenes which make you laugh, like a typical Kamal Hassan comedy flick. Kamal chooses to end the film with a fiesta similar to Shrek.

A kidnap plan gone wrong, an innocent circus bike driver and a bunch of foolish amateur kidnappers gives enough time and space for an adept actor like Kamal Hassan to carve a niche for himself in the film. While acting as an innocent dude is something that Kamal does in most of his comedy flicks, also irritates a viewer who would expect assortment. With that Asterix type knot around his head and colorful bike, Kamal Hassan is all out for fun throughout.

Pasupathi is one who would be the most profited from the movie. Its his character that walks away with the cake, like the Gemini Ganesan of Avvai Shanmughi. Pasupathi talks a natural Tamil slang that just rocks. His voice modulation and his facial expressions just suits the ‘Boss’ role he plays. The scene where he tackles the traffic police alongwith Kamal, WOW. Manisha looks pale and is a misfit for the role. Naaser and Santhana Bharathi take similar roles they played in Anbe Sivam.

Sidharath’s camera needs to lauded for the angels and some amazing free-flowing shots. But then, blame it on the digital movie-making that most of the effort gets wasted and overlooked. Its understandable that the crew is trying to use a movie-making which is even debated in the Hollywood but the audience were just not told of all these. An unassuming viewer would think that it’s just an act of irresponsibility to have a movie show-up grains and poor picture clarity.

Illayaraja needn’t have been there in the film. The songs needn’t be hyped so much. The film would have managed well without songs too. Yelle Nee Ettippo which plays at the background has neat music in the album. All that got lost in the film and makes one feel that Illayaraja’s efforts weren’t paid-off properly.

As said its a beginning of a breed of movies in Tamil and could not pushed aside by overlooking. I don’t seem to recall many on-the-road comedies atleast in Tamil. Thiruda Thiruda was a little adventurous than being a riot fare. Mamootty and Arvind Swamy’s starrer Puthayal was of a similar type but Mumbai Xpress is out-right comedy with more logistics than logic. You may not be inspired to watch it again and again like Michael Madana Kama Rajan or Pesum Padam but you would certainly relish the moments of Mumbai Xpress.

Black Movie Review – Bhansali Blacks-out Bollywood !!

Rani Mukherjee in Black

The screen dissolves into black. A little androglossian strained voice starts to speak-out, feebly. It narrates a story as a first-person account. A story that is nothing but a state-of-mind. A story that transforms the mind and vision of blackness into white. All this transformation accompanied with a lot of trouble, anguish, agony and zillion other words that you relate to the word PAIN. Cut.

Film Fare Awards 2005 – And the filmfare award for the best – film, screenplay, direction, camera, back ground music, actor, actress and child artist goes to the cast and crew of BLACK. Will sport a moustache if this doesn’t come true. Sometimes, even if you are stiff emotionsless critic, you fall shaken with emotions when a movie moves so deeply from the heart. Black is one such gem. A classic that can stand over gimmicks and modernities of film techniques. Cut.

A Hellenkellrish story that carves lives of two people, where both become teacher and student to the other, at various points of the thorn-filled garden of life. A story that could well be complained for being straightly copied / stollen or even inspired from the life of Hellen Keller, known to us from the english textbooks of 4th grade.

Take a vivid look into the black, non-imaged, non-pixelated, muted life of Michelle McNally [Rani Mukherjee], living in Shimla. Take a detailed view into the life of the humane, adorable and angry old Debraj Sahai [Amitabh Bachchan] who is losing his worthy life and it’s memories to Alzheimer’s diesease. Their lives gets inter-twined when Debraj comes to hand-hold the blind ‘n’ deaf Michele. And what would you teach to a child who has no idea about the world around her, except for the sense of smell, taste and touch. All Michelle knows is her maa who has a hand that is soft that touches her cheeks. Any other hand and Michelle reveals her ultra famous emotion, anger. It is this anger that when postively charged gets her moving in her life to the heights, she never had imagined even in the wildest of dreams.

The movie moves firmly for a two and half hours without a single boring frame. Not only it makes you cry, laugh and applaud but also it teaches you that a movie needn’t pronounce a message. A movie can just arouse plethora of emotions in you. The physically challenged have a zest for life. A thirst to know more and know it completely. Shallow knowledge gets them upset. Their anger is sharp and uncontrolled for they are the ones who react appropriately at situations than the normal mortals who are numb with emotions. Michelle gets angered when Sahai slaps her for not typing as fast as expected. She reacts immediately. From 10 words a minute, she types 30 a minute. She bursts out when her sister makes a miunderstands her on the engagement day. Proves that she has much more to offer than what’s known to the outisde world. Also she becomes a patient teacher to her ex-teacher only to create a miracle on him.

For the first time, one would understand the demon behind Alzheimers disease. You could forget to carry a pen, forget to meet someone at four o’ clock. But what if you forget yourself, your past and every single thing around you. Terrible.

As Debraj Sahai, Amitabh Bachchan carries the entire movie on him. With the intonation so accurate and expressions very classy he takes away the cake in the movie. I’ve never seen such a spell binding male performance in a bollywood flick before. With those wide-open eyes and that stupendous acting performance, I see Kamal Hassan. As a south Indian, I’ve known Amitabh as a bollywood hero compared to the Rajinikanth of south. Being a Rajinikanth admirer, I hated Amitabh for a reason because some of Rajinikanth’s earlier flicks were remakes of Amithabh’s bollywood hits. And I hated to believe this fact. As a carorepathi host, Amitabh was convicing but did not catch my fancy. Many bollywood films that featured after that used him as a brand ambassador for their films. This one is a killer effort. A perfect way for Amitabh to prove he is truly the the BIG B. As he catches the young Michelle with strands of her hair to control the blind kid’s anger, as he slaps her when she could never type more than 10 words a minute, as he walks effortlessly with his head shaking of aging and being suffered with Alzheimers, Amitabh creates magic. He adds color to this rather black movie. A true champion.

Rani Mukherjee. WOW. No exaggerations but this is far most one the best performances by any actress in recent times. As a grown Michelle McNally, she occupies the second half of the movie ans stays throughout in the heart. She has this amazing voice that brings in reality to the movie. It’s her voice that narrates the entire movie. A swaggering gait with a walking stick on her hand, she sometimes reminds the Chaplin walk. And not only that but also dances so rapturously. She listens to the college lecture by feeling the lip movement of her mentor. What everyone does in 3 years, she does it in a two decades withstanding all the pains of being blind and earing impaired. And yeah, even as a blind woman, she wants to know how it feels to be kissed by a man on her lips. She has just her teacher to help her with that. Afterall, isn’t he the one who teached her life, maa, papa, water, cry, snow and every other damned thing of life. She asks. He teaches. A classy scene that brings out gross realities of life as they are without exaggerations. Rani Mukerjee can be announced as the Indian actress of the decade, undoubtedly.

Ayesha Kapur, as the young Michelle grabs the first half with her lovely debut performance. With a movie full of scope for performance, it is the casting department which needs to be appreciated to have casted Ayesha Kapur as young Michelle. Hats off.

Ironically, for a movie that details the life of a blind and deaf girl, the images and the sound stand out first class. Ravi K Chandran, known for his stylish modern camerawork in Mani Ratnam‘s Kannathil Muthamittal and Aayitha Ezhuthu goes in for a conservative yet astonishing camera work. It is through his lens that we look into the life of Michelle and Sahai. The lighting is modern but the camera angles are truly old fashioned. And probably thats what Bhansali drove Ravi K Chandran to do. If only the movie was shot and edited as modern as Aayitha Ezhuthu, it would have failed to impress. This slow movie requires patient camera movements but yet needs to touch the audience. Pre-dominantly colored with black, wherever possible, the color tone itself is rich, lavish and conveys what the movie is upto. I could devote a paragraph for the music by Monty. It would be right to do that. The music and camera are inter-weaved in the movie. So is the review. If only we get to watch the movie with either one of this(visual and sound), it wouldn’t make any sense . The camera pitches the emotion while the music accompanies and heightens it ten fold. There are no songs however and hence the distractions are reduced largely.

The editing and the sets adds more value. The sets of the bungalow as situated in Shimla are realistic and to re-create them after a fire accident must have been a great effort for the entire team. From the title card, it looks like most of the movie was shot in Himachal Pradesh.

Bhansali did a great job in Khamoshi but it was just not reaching there. His efforts that followed in Hum Dil De Chukke Sanam and Devdas were lavish and were heavily commercialised. With Black, Bhansali proves that he is the bollywood master of melodrama and blacks out the better movies of Bollwood. Black is a picture postcard movie. Any single shot can be blown out into a poster and to this Bhansali has compromised to heavlily exaggerate at some places. By making the story revolve around an Anglo-Indian family situated in a a hill-station, Bhansali tries to show places, people and their costumes which a normal middle class Indian, couldn’t relate so easily. That gives you a feel that the movie happens far away from India. You can shirk these off for the kind of movie Black is. Am sure this effort of Bhansali wouldn’t go unnoticed. If only the reviews/reactions to Black turn-out the otherway it could be because of the prepossessed mind-set on Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his movies.

Black is an effort that needs to be showcased inside and also outside India. While outside India, people would definetly see Black, it needs to be taken to places deep inside India. The best way would be to dub them in many regional languages without affecting the moments of the movie. If you don’t want the rest-of-the-world to dub bollywood from looking at the colorful Monsoon Wedding and Bride and Prejudice, represent Black to the world as an ideal Bollywood flick and articulate the fact that we are one of the movie super stars. For it takes a huge effort to create a movie of this excellence. Whatever it takes, beg-borrow-steal, watch BLACK.

The Incredibles movie review – Unbelievably Incredible (!)

The Incredibles

Why would Vishnu incarnate as Rama in the epic of Ramayana and be sent to exile? He needs to kill Ravana. That’s one perspective. Being a staunch bhaktha of Shiva, it’s the path that Ravana chose to attain Moksha. That’s another. Put both into a single glass and see through it. I am sure you get another perspective. Every perspective also has a moral. A moral that so glaringly and sometimes very subtly told. This probably is the reason Ramayana still exists as the numero-uno of moral story building forte.

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Manmadhan – Serious Serial Killing

manmadhan_1.jpg
[Pic : galatta.com]

Simbhu requests a shoulder to cry, talks a mile long amateurish dialogue about his girlfriend, who ran away with someone and when the cricket fame Mandira Bedi consoles him, catches her by her hips and over her shoulder winks at the camera. You know by then what manmadhan is going to be. Don’t you?

Taking off as a modern day adaptation of Sigappu Rojakkal, manmadhan is all about serial killing girls who are unfaithful to their husbands/boy friends. While this fact hasn’t been established clearly through dialogues, the screenplay makes you to assume this. Similar to its predecessor serial killing thrillers, the protagonist/anti-hero has a purpose. That purpose as expected is a lengthy flashback. By a chance most of the girls whom our hero meets are diseased by infidelity. Contradictory to real life, these girls fall for the hero in the first pass he makes at them. This disease, again as per the kollywood grammar doesn’t affect the heroine.

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The Terminal Movie Review – Go Nowhere

Tom Hanks in The Terminal
[Pic: terminal movie]

Steven Spielberg, other than creating visual magnificence’s in his movies, has also a soft side. The last few films, spoke of it, way too much. Despite the soft side was even well known from Schindler’s List and Amistad, the last four/five films have brought out an interesting side of Spielberg. Having been inspired hugely by Spielberg films, I’ve created myself, a personality of Spielberg to be a technical showman. And Schindler’s List was nothing but a different film for this showman. But Artificial Intelligence and Catch Me If you Can broke those assumptions on him. They showed how Spielberg has grown-over the techie image. I believe, Spielberg has evolved into a style of filmmaking that allows him to take a simple story and weave it into an amazing masterpiece.

The Terminal is one such film. More than the premise of the story, the humane side stands out, clearly displaying the different arena of film making, where Spielberg now treads. The film talks about a man who gets stranded in the JFK Airport, New York because of a legal logical hole in the law. No one could do anything about it, just like Victor Navorski. He couldn’t get anywhere. He abides the law, stays in the airport terminal for months and finally gets a chance to step in the American soil. What would he do ?

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Chellamay !! – Intelligent Rehash

Bharath

It’s the time of rehashes. With the recent kollywood heroes(namely two, guess who ?) movies being re-made from re-made movies, Gandhi Krishna has certainly delivered a re-hashed movie, with lots of interesting moves in the script. Chellamay, may well be called Kadhal Konden 2.0, except for variance the director has shown in the script and the backdrop of the movie is a lot different from the original.

If Selvaraghavan, used a orphan kid, to talk about possessiveness, love, affection and sympathy between the kid and a girl of his same age, Gandhi Krishna makes a similar relationship a little complex. The girl with whom the protagonist or anti-hero(however you may call), is related to, is an elderly mother-figure for him. Worse, she is also married. So we have a true hero here, too. However one is prone to get miffed by the perplexed situations that doesn’t tell you for a long time, how the hero considers his relationship with girl.

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