Monday, February 17, 2014


Cast: Nivin Pauly, Anoop Menon, Valsala Menon, Tiny Tom, Jacob Gregory, Saiju Kurup, Kalabhavan Prajod, Neeraj Madhav, Saji, Sanju, Joy Mathew, Jiyad, Nikki Galrani, Rajeev Pillai, Shine Tom Chacko, Srinda Ashab, Dinesh, Seema G Nair
Genre: Sport, Family Drama
Direction: Abrid Shine
Production: TR Shamsudheen
Story: Abrid Shine
Screenplay : Abrid Shine, Bibin Chandran
Cinematographer: Pradeesh Varma
Music: Gopi Sunder
Editing : Manoj
Studio : Shams Films
Distribution: LJ Films (India),PJ Entertainments (Overseas)  
Release Date: 31st January, 2014 (Kerala), 14th February, 2014 (Delhi)
Language: Malayalam
Duration: 2 hours 18 minutes
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
1983, has captured the euphoria of cricket so efficiently and effectively. It is indeed a great treat to the country that eats, drinks, breaths and sleeps cricket.
The beginning note of the movie itself is power packed with the 1983 Cricket World Cup victory in the backdrop, jubilation in a remote village Brahmamangalam in Kerala, supported with great musical score in the background.
Rameshan, a 10 year old boy, remained glued to the television to watch the match and the victory sparked a new passion within him for the sport. There is a beautiful scene where this boy while playing cricket along with his friends falls in the field and for the first time he notices the dew drop, its freshness and beauty. It shows how the sport and the cricket ground became the entire universe for Rameshan who started living cricket.
The grown up Rameshan is played by Nivin Pauly, another great performance by him. He grew to be a great batsman who gave mesmerizing shots at the local club matches along with Pappan (Saiju Kurup), Babukuttan (Sanju), Saji (Dinesh), Prahladan (Neeraj Madhav), Mantle Johny (Kalavbhavan Prajod), Varkey, Chandru, Basheer forming the rest of the gang. 
Rameshan’s whole focus was to practice and play matches; academics and even his love interest Manjula (played by Nikki Galrani, who looked very fresh on screen) took a back seat.
Meanwhile the passage of the decades is smoothly shown through visuals of India’s defeat at the world cup matches, which followed thereafter, movie poster of Chitram… Harikrishnans…on the walls, b/w television sets to colour televison sets and the historical 2011 Cricket World cup victory.
A bit of drag was felt towards the end of the first half, since it seemed like the movie is shifting its focus from the main frame of sport into domestic things. It was painful to see a great player Rameshan settling down to his disillusioned father Gopi’s (Joy Mathew) mechanical shop, but then also, it was delight to watch him hitting brilliant sixers during local club matches. Srinda Ashab essayed the role of his onscreen wife Susheela very naturally, innocently and certain scenes of hers were full of humour.
The pace again picked up in the second half where Rameshan sees the fire in his son Kannan. There starts the journey of the father Rameshan in living his passion and I must say Nivin Pauly excelled even as a forty year old man. Vijay Menon (Anoop Menon) as a cricket coach is very impressive, who is sharp to understand the talents of the young boys, disciplined and empathetic. Rest of the movie is woven around how Rameshan chases his dreams through his son. Certain father-son moments actually gave a lump in my throat.    
Jacob Gregory as Sachin’s namesake, though in a short frame in a cameo, creates an impact through his performance. All other supporting cast and child artists have also given great performances.
Fashion Photographer turned director Abrid Shine actually shines through his debut film. A great work by him. He is flawless as a story teller with his minute detailing. Screenplay by Abrid and Bibin Chandran has elements of humour, sadness, disappointment, hope, passion, dreams, innocence, expectations, joy etc. The movie seems to be a dedication to the living legend Mr. Sachin Tendulkar whose emotional good bye speech had a message (his father’s advice to him), which was – “Chase your dreams but make sure you don’t find short cuts”. Indeed, a beautiful message…
Cinematographer Pradeesh Verma has captured the beauty of the village very nicely. Yes, it indeed seems to be part of God’s own country. Editing by Manoj is also very sharp and appropriate.
Gopi Sundar has done amazing music. The song “Olanajali kuruvi...” sung by P Jayachandran and Vani Jairam  is so melodious. Background music is also full of life. “Thallvettam Kanumba…” is also full of positive energy.

1983… a great treat to watch…it hits a sixer…

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Cast: Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla, Victor Banerjee, Pankaj Tripathi, Darshan Gurjar, Jayesh V Kardak
Genre: Crime, Action, Drama, Romance
Direction: Ali Abbas Zafar
Production: Aditya Chopra, Padam Bhushan (Line Producer), Aashish Singh (Exceutive Producer)
Story: Ali Abbas Zafar, Sanjay Masoom (Additional Dialogue)
Screenplay : Ali Abbas Zafar
Cinematographer: Aseem Mishra
Music: Sohail Sen, Julius Packiam (Background score)
Editing : Rameshwar S Bhagat
Studio : Yash Raj Films
Release Date: 14th February, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 34 minutes
Rating: 3/5 (Good, only for its cast)
Gunday (गुंडे), is built upon the same old formulae – two friends falling in love with the same girl, friendship turning sour, heroes as gunday (as per the law) but maseeha for the poor… we have seen it all. Gunday, although not falling under the genre of my preference, let me be unbiased in reviewing the same.
The movie begins at the backdrop of 1971 war, where Bangladesh as a country was born. It gave birth to lot of orphans and refugees. Gunday is about two young orphans Bikram and Bala who witnessed the war and its aftermath. Refugee camp turned out to be a hell rather than a shelter for them, where the seeds of gunday was sown. Fighting for survival, the inseparable duo escaped to Calcutta (now Kolkatta). The young Bikram and Bala enacted by Darshan Gurjar and Jayesh V Kardak reminded me of Salim Malik – Jamal Malik (played by Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) of slumdog millionaire. Both Darshan and Jayesh have given fabulous performance.

The grown up Bikram (Ranveer Singh) and Bala (Arjun Kapoor) with their illegal business (they have justification for all these) started ruling Calcutta and became its most loved, most celebrated, most reckless, most fearless, and most powerful ... Gunday!
There comes the entry of gorgeous Nandita (Priyanka Chopra), a cabaret dancer who swept both Bikram and Bala off their feet. There are certain light moments when both Bikram and Bala try to woo Nandita turn by turn. I wish, these moments could have been prolonged a little more. Nandita has given some sensuous performance through dance sequences. Although her costumes don’t belong to 80’s era of fashion.
Irrfan Khan as ACP Satyajeet Sarkar has definitely added his style, cool, composure to the character. He plans a chakraviewh and the movie moves ahead to let us know whether and how Bikram, Bala get trapped in that chakraviewh. Irrfan is also the narrator.
Music by Sohail Sen is good. Jashn-e-Ishqa, Jiya, Tune maari entriyaan and Aslame-Ishqum have ranked well in the chart-busters. Irshad Kamil as penned down some good lyrics. Cinematography by Aseem Mishra highlights Hoogly, Howra Bridge, fish market… the specialties of Calcutta.
Director Ali Abbas Zafar has definitely tried to take out the best from Ranveer and Arjun, although I felt Arjun’s expressions betrayed his dialogue at times – ‘Ye tevar humare khoon me hai’. I need to mention that I missed the director Ali Abbas Zafar of Mere Brother ki Dulhan fame in this movie.
Saurabh Shukla is natural and effortless as always.
It is disheartening that Gunday has nothing new to offer. Very predictable plot.
Watch Gunday only for Ranveer & Arjun’s chemistry, Irrfan’s tactful cop act and Priyanka’s dance numbers.
Alas! Gunday …Hum Gunday the, Gunday hain aur Gunday rahenge… Koi hume sudhaar nahi sakta…   

Monday, February 10, 2014

Om Shanti Oshana (ഓം ശാന്തി ഓശാന)

Cast: Nivin Pauly, Nazriya Nazim, Aju Varghese,Vineeth Srinivasan, Renji Panickar, Vinaya Prasad, Shobha Mohan, Nelson, Lal Jose, Akshaya Premnath, Oshein Mertil, Harikrishnan, Vijay Raghavan (Guest Appearance), Manju Satheesh, Nikki Galrani
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Direction: Jude Anthany Joseph
Production: Alvin Antony
Story: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Screenplay : Midhun Manuel Thomas, Jude Anthany Joseph
Cinematographer: Vinod Illampally
Music: Shaan Rahman
Editing : Lijo Paul
Studio : Ananya Films
Release Date: 7th February, 2014
Language: Malayalam
Duration: 2 hours 10 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good +)
Om Shanti Oshana (ഓം ശാന്തി ഓശാന), is so refreshing and exhilarating. The female protagonist of the movie Nazriya Nazim as Pooja Mathew narrates the story. The movie scores high due to its simplicity. Though when the movie opens with the birth of a girl child and her journey to grow as a teenager (shown in the inset) with nursery rhymes in the background, it gives a feeling that the movie plot might have been dealt very very lightly. But as the plot unfolds, it is delightful to watch a teenage girl Pooja trying to explore love in life. After a brief period of infatuation with Yardley (a class mate), she gets infatuated with the male lead Nivin Pauly as Giri Madhavan. Yeah, initially it seems to be a mere infatuation of Pooja with Giri. I could relate very well to the infatuations of the teenager but later it is amazing to watch the beautiful lighter moments through which an infatuation transforms into steadfast love and it has been dealt in with great maturity by ‘still-to-grow’ teenager Pooja.
Nazriya as Pooja has given a very natural and spontaneous performance, who has expressed the intricate emotions of anxiety, love / possessiveness for Giri, disappointment after being treated as a small girl by Giri, still holding him close to her heart with the hope of uniting with him etc. very convincingly.
Nivin Pauly as Giri has given a fine assured performance with his serious look and dons various roles viz. a social worker, kung fu master effortlessly. Though this movie is narrated from Pooja’s perspective, Giri as a clear-headed, almost ascetic, practical youngster does leave an impact through his ground-to-earth performance.
Pooja’s parents Doctor-Teacher couple – Dr. Mathews (played by Renji Panikar) and Annie do give some wonderful positive and humorous moments in the movie. I liked the way parenting has been shown.
Aju Varghese as David Kanjani is hilarious. And Vineeth Srinivasan as Dr. Prasad Varkey has less screen time but pivotal to the plot. Vinaya Prasad as Rachel has also a small role that of a wine-maker, but adds value to the movie by her sheer serene performance.
Other actors viz. Shobha Mohan as Giri’s mother, Lal Jose, Harikrishnan, Manju Satheesh, Nikki Galrani have also given good performances.
Director Jude Anthany Thomas has been successful in making a very simple straightforward rom-com movie without much twists / turns and a grey character / element within it. I watched the whole movie with a smile on my face.
Cinematographer Vinod Illampally has shot the visuals in sync with the simple positive tone and mood / tempo of the movie.
Shaan Rahman’s music adds to the romantic flavour of the film. Especially “Kattu Mooliyo Pranayam…” is good.

Watch Om Shanti Oshana and celebrate Oshana of love, positivity, tranquility and splash of humour.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Cast: Adhyayan Suman, Ariyana Ayam, Om Puri, Deepti Naval, Shekhar Suman, Madan Jain
Genre: Romantic Medical Thriller
Direction: Shekhar Suman
Production: Alka Suman
Story: Niranjan Iyengar
Screenplay : Nina Arora
Cinematographer: Derrick Fong
Music: Gaurav Dagaonkar
Editing : Akshara Prabhakar
Studio : Windmill Entertainment
Distribution: Windmill Entertainment
Release Date: 7th February, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 17 minutes
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
Heartless, a directorial debut by Shekhar Suman. I heard Shekhar Suman sharing in one of the TV show during movie promotions that this movie is literally and figuratively heartless. True upto an extent. Shekhar Suman indeed dons the hat of a director in a very good manner. Though, I need to admit that this movie has its own share of flaws and fine points.
The first half of the movie is not built up logically and the characters are not defined nicely. I kept on wondering at the fast-motion love which blossomed between the lead pair Adhyayan Suman as Aditya Singh / Addi and Ariyana Ayam as Ria and tried to figure out what actually clicked between them. Why Aditya seemed to be unsure of himself, insecure in life, rebellious at times in spite of his businesswoman mother Ms. Gayatri Singh (played by Deepti Naval) showering him with her love, care, concern…it is not justified properly.
The first half gives a feeling that it is going to be the struggle of Aditya to cope up with a deadly heart disease, rather win over the disease with the support of Ria’s love. But, when the movie began, the noting said that it focuses on Anesthesia Awareness (a scary situation wherein a patient seemingly unconscious to the doctors is able to hear sounds and experience pain). So, my thoughts moved to the direction that probably, it could be a case of medical negligence. Could it be a love story or be a Medical Thriller…?

But the plot changes its track in the second half which kept me glued to the screen better than the first half ...the story begins here. With unpredictable and shocking twists, suspense is built up, still I wish the subject could have been dealt more clearly (though it is heartless on my part to say so).
Adhyayan looks good on screen, especially during the song sequences. Ariyana delivered an average performance, though looks pretty on screen.
Shekhar Suman as Cardiologist Samar Saxena is effortless in his performance. But the non-clarity (at times) of the script gets translated to his certain scenes as well.
Deepti Naval is great as Aditya’s mother, whose head-strong shrewd personality is shown on one side and on the other hand, a doting mother who lived for her son. Om Puri as Dr. Trehaan’s role is minimal yet pivotal to the movie.
Thumbs up for the exceedingly well shot scenes (especially Dubai) by Cinematographer Derrick Fong, a few nice songs (though out of place at times), a heart-touching emotional mother-son scene towards the end, no melodrama overpowering the characters… and above all a welcome break from the regular story…

It would be Heartless to write this off completely.

Hasee Toh Phasee

Cast: Siddharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Adah Sharma, Manoj Joshi, Sharat Saxena, Neena Kulkarni, Karan Johar (Guest Appearance), Bobby Darling (in a Song)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Direction: Vinil Mathew
Production: Karan Johar, Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap
Story: Harshavardhan Kulkarni
Screenplay : Harshavardhan Kulkarni
Cinematographer: Sanu John Varughese
Music: Vishal-Shekhar, Amar Mangrulkar (Background score)
Editing : Shweta Venkat
Studio : Phantom Films, Light N Light
Distribution: Dharma Productions
Release Date: 7th February, 2014
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours 21 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good +)
Hasee Toh Phasee, undoubtedly is not a regular rom-com movie with a typical love triangle, or a runaway bride or a movie with long romantic dialogues. The lead pair Nikhil Bhardwaj (Siddharth Malhotra) and Meeta (Parineeti Chopra) are weird, quirky, and unconventional. Nikhil feels that asking money from would-be father-in-law is not a threat to his self-respect, and on the other side, Meeta steals her own father’s money; both do so for breakthrough in their respective careers. Meeta completely wins us over with her deglamourized performance. 
Yes, the strength of the movie is that it is distinctly different from the usual ones and both Siddharth ‘emotional dhakkan’ (in his own words) and Parineeti as ‘bahut hi khatarnak experimental’ are terrific together.
The first half of the movie moves from a Chawl in Mumbai to Delhi and back to Mumbai over a span of two decades which though moved very fast, but the background / plot of the movie was build up in a sluggish manner. Still, bizarre mannerism displayed by Parineeti (a runaway daughter, who comes back from China), popping up pills followed with projection of a weird expression on face and the confident screen presence / endearing smile of Siddhartha are definitely refreshing which pulls us through the first half. This unusual, soft and neat decent love between the lead pair develops slowly through lot of freakish / comical / bizarre incidents. Let me tell you, there is no mushy-mushy love in this movie.
Almost 80% of the plot develops with the wedding celebrations in the backdrop and wacky guests, which do ensure Karan Johar Moments.
Karishma (Adah Sharma), sister of Meeta is good in the role of an actress, ready to be hitched, who is particular that her fiancée earns on his own capability, announcing break-up every now and then (since she is sure that her fiancée would never leave her).  
Manoj Joshi (as Meeta /Karishma’s father) excels and we get to see wonderful emotional bondage between father and the eccentric daughter Meeta whom he finds extremely intelligent, creative and original. The poignant reunion of the father-daughter duo after a period of seven years do moist our eyes. Sharath Saxena (as Nikhil’s father) is also good as a retired IPS officer. Neena Kulkarni (as Nikhil’s mother) is also good.     
It can not be denied that movie is baffling at times. Just wish that the debutant director Vinil Mathew should have enhanced the pace of the movie atleast a bit more so as to engross the audience (when I say pace, I mean the pace of Tanu Weds Manu, Jab We Met, Banti Babli etc.).
Screenplay / Story by Harshvardhan Kulkarni takes a different take on the modern day romance. Dialogues by Anurag Kashyap are simple and clean without double meanings or slangs. The cinematographer Sanu John Varughese has done a good job in capturing the Panoramic view of Mumbai’s sweeping Powai Skyline and other locale.
The song ‘Zehnaseeb’ sung by Shekhar and Chinmayi Sripada is musical to the ears and a romantic treat. Though other numbers viz. Punjabi wedding number, Shake it like Shammi, Drama queen, Manchala, Ishq Bulaava are youthful but easily forgettable.
Watch this movie, if you can ignore the lapses in the logic in it and are ready to enjoy a very soft, clean, unconventional yet baffling romantic comedy (though it is neither a hard core romantic movie nor a comedy).

Hasee Toh Phasee may not drive you crazy with laughter but am sure you may get trapped in the positive tone of this movie.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

12 Years a Slave

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, Kelsy Scott
Genre: Biography, Drama
Direction: Steve McQueen
Production: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas
Story: Based on biography of Solomon Northup
Screenplay : John Ridley
Cinematographer: Sean Bobbitt
Music: Hans Zimmer
Editing : Joe Walker
Studio : Regency Enterprises, River Road Entertainment, Plan B, New Regency, Film4
Distribution: Fox Searchlight Pictures (US), Entertainment One (UK), PVR Pictures (India)
Release Date: 31st January, 2014 (India)
Language: English
Duration: 2 hours 14 minutes
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good +)
Twelve Years a Slave is an adaptation of the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup, a New-York state born free Negro who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before his release.
It is depressing, sad, annoying, frustrating to watch what Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) went through his 12 years as a slave. A great performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor whose act of bewilderment, despair, anguish, trying to survive is just outstanding. There are moments when with no sound and little movement, he projects what hopelessness looks like. His 12 years of unthinkable abuse, backbreaking labour, fading dreams of happy family, desperateness to figure a way out to his freedom…every act moves us. The brutality, dehumanizing acts of the masters make it so tough to even look at the screen.

Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) as a cotton plantation owner is shown as humane yet ineffectual who eventually sells Solomon to the vicious, drunken Epps (Michael Fassbender), another cotton plantation owner. Epps is ruthless. The screen timings with him in the frame are like an unbearable demonstration of misery in movement.

Another applauding performance has come from Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) who is vocal about her grief, a young slave, victim of Epps’ barbarous and insane ways. She is raped and beaten by Epps, who is also a cause of envy to Epps’ wife who feels that Epps has an eye on her.

I was actually moved by lot many scenes in the movie. Mother’s pleading not to separate her from her two children, still all three being sold to different masters creates a lump in the throat. Solomon strung up by the neck for a transgression and his toes are barely touching the dark plantation mud as he dangles, near-dead under the scorching sun. Another disturbing visual is merged with this i.e. children are playing in the background, other slaves are going ahead with their chores since they fear that if they would help Solomon, they would lose their lives. Patsey somehow manages to give him little water. The psyche of the slaves, their surrendering to the fate one side and the heartless brutality of the masters / overseers on another side are very well captured. The night Patsey comes to Platt (Solomon’s identity as a slave), asking him to kill her is a scene of unbearable pain, particularly as Platt turns his back and Patsey sobs into the night. Male / female slaves with their bleeding back after being beaten up (almost to death) choked me. Solomon just wanting to rush with officials who came to free him (following Bass -Brad Pitt’s) efforts, turning back to give a warm hug to Patsey is so overwhelming.    

It depicts the dark chapter of slavery in American History. It is beyond one’s imagination the kind of suffering the slaves faced. A complete shame to humanity.

Steve McQueen as director is adept with his articulation. Though the title says that Solomon would be slave for 12 years, McQueen and John Riddley makes us feel that it could be forever. Sean Bobbit (Cinematographer) has given great aerial shots which are so effective in making us bewildered, disoriented, and a complete lost feel along with the protagonist.

12 Years a Slave isn’t easy to watch since it not only unfolds the tragedy of Solomon in particular but it also depicts the tragedy of such countless souls who lost the biggest gift of mankind- the freedom.