Peepli Live

Certainly one of the best movies I have seen this year. A satirical take on the serious issue of farmer suicides in the country and a very good depiction of how politicians and media typically work/react. Wonderful performances by the cast. Kudos to Anusha Rizvi and her team and to Aamir Khan for bringing this gem to us.

Movie: Raavanan/ Raavan

Liked the movie for the cinematography, music (songs + BGM) and performances by some of the cast (especially Vikram). The movie though couldn’t have kept me engaged throughout if not for Santosh Sivan’s superb camera work and ARR’s work with the BGM. I also felt that the Tamil version “Raavanan’ has come out better than the Hindi one “Raavan”

Kites

Slow moving, boring and predictable movie that can be watched for Hrithik Roshan/ Barbara Mori.  The only positives for me were the cinematography, the performance of the lead stars and the chemistry they shared on screen.

Slumdog Millionaire

The Golden Globe Awards and the Oscar nominations would certainly pull crowds to this well thought out and well made movie. Though the movie has many positives, I would love to watch it again just for the way the kids have gone about doing their roles. Just brilliant stuff! Young Jamal and Salim’s expressions in the first few minutes of the movie were just awesome! Not to take credits away from the rest of the cast who have played their roles very well too. 

A.R. Rahman’s music just rocks. Given the limited scope for BGMs in this movie and given the theme of the movie itself, I felt ARR has once again proved his mettle.  Starting with “O Saya” right at the beginning, the music just seems to uplift the movie and hold it high up right till the very end. I especially loved “Mausam” and “Latika’s theme” and the way they were placed in the movie. 

For some unknown reason,  I have been addicted to Latika’s theme ….. I was listening to it in the afternoon and have been listening to it ever since I came back from the movie. A simple but haunting track. Way to go ARR!

Margazhi Raagam

Imagine a concert in Chennai’s music season where

  • you prefer the last row to the first
  • the balcony ticket is costlier than the ticket for a seat in the main hall
  • the sound system is excellent
  • there are no MTC buses honking
  • there are no mamas/mamis shouting raga names the moment the singer starts singing
  • no one seems to bother carrying/refering to a raga identification guide
  • there is an intermission
  • (last but not the least) the venue has clean toilets

 

This is Margazhi Raagam for you (Official web site: Link). 

 

Positives:

  • Audio/video is of very good quality
  • Camera work is excellent
  • It is bound to appeal even to non-carnatic-concert-goers, going by the feedback from some of my friends who do not listen much to Indian Classical Music

 

A few things that I thought could have been better:

  • The intermission could have been done away with or else some carnatic audio could have been played. Instead, some pop music was played followed by ads of TV shows and what not. In Arar Asaippadar’s screening at the same Sathyam Cinemas (Chennai), Sanjay’s music was played before the movie began and during the interval which had a very good effect. 
  • The taniavartanam could have been shot better. For instance, both sides of the mrudangam could have been shown with the split screen effect. The tani also seemed to appear all of a sudden as if it was a disjoint piece force-fit to the song it was played for. But people did recognize the tani, for many of them got up and left the hall promptly, as they do in regular concerts ;-)
  • Personally, I would have loved a more traditional kutcheri-ish stage and backdrop than the panels lit in blue with curtains dropping from the top. (The presence of smoke would have given it the effect of a Kollywood movie dream scene ;-) )
  • Volume for khanjira could have been higher. 
  • I would personally have preferred them record a live concert with the audience present, especially to capture the on-stage interactions between the musicians more completely. The on-screen personas of a few musicians were totally different from their on-stage ones. Some just seemed to be too concious of the camera.

 

PS: I loved the music on offer, especially the RTP

A Wednesday

Bollywood is on a roll! Four good movies released in the span of last 3 weeks – all with different themes. The latest addition to this list is “A Wednesday” – an engrossing, neatly made and well paced movie that kept me glued to my seat throughout. After a long time, Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah seemed to have got roles that did justice to their capabilities. Jimmy Shergill and Aamir Bashir played their parts very well. A very impressive directorial debut by Neeraj Pandey!

Rock On

“Live your dream” shouts Rock On and everything about it rocks! Cinematography is top class. The songs and BGM are just fantastic and fit in the movie so well. Direction is too good … how many directors can manage to make such a brilliant movie with a story line that even a kid with a little exposure to Bollywood movies would be able to predict!

Hindi cinema has arrived!

Mumbai Meri Jaan

There have been some very good Indian movies in the recent past that have tried to explore topics other than the run-of-the-mill ones. One of the directors who has had the courage to attempt such movies and according to me has been very successful in his attempts is Nishikant Kamath.

Nishikant’s last movie Evano Oruvan had a great impact on me but was very loud. Mumbai Meri Jaan on the contrary is so subtle and non preachy and yet manages to convey what it wants so effectively. It explores the lives of six different characters through five separate episodes in the days following the July 2006 serial bomb blasts in the Mumbai local trains that took many innocent lives. The movie has a message for almost everyone – even for some TV news channels that seem to be bothered only about scoops and try to sensationalize news to gain TRPs.

Each of the six characters have been portrayed beautifully by the cast. Madhavan and Irfan have so few dialogs to speak but still manage to create such an impact with their acting. The camera work is just too good!

Certainly one of the best movies I have watched in recent times and one that I would highly recommend to everyone. Hats off to people like NIshant who dare to make such movies!

Kuselan

Behind the scenes of the movie

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

The director shouts. The cameraman turns to his left from where he is currently focusing to capture the most important scene of the movie. It is the scene where the towering personality of Kollywood enters the movie. A personality larger than life and one that is so difficult to capture on film that the cameraman really struggles to do justice to the shot.

Director: “Belddy fellow … use the joom out feature daa”

Cameraman: “Yov … evvalavu yaa oruthan zoom out panradhu? Innum panna camera odanju poyidum”

Heroine pleads: “Innum konzam try pannunge … for my sake no … please no”

Cameraman: “Sappa … orey emotions of India …. mudiyala”

Heroine: “Thambeeeee … naa venaa try pannatuma?”

Cameraman: “Ennadhu .. thambiya ….. nee onnum thevai illa …. aaniya naane pidungikkaren”

Director: “Badava rascole …. appadiye odi poyidu nee”

Cameraman runs and shouts after he reaches about 8 miles from the spot “Soopper idea boss … idha modhal la ye sollirukka koodadhu? I am able to capture better from this spot with maximum joom out”.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

This is how we get the best shot of the movie. A shot that will make every police officer envious …. one that would put even our Captain to shame. It’s the scene that marks the entry of the “Ilaya Thilagam”…. the greatest of the greatest …. our very own superstar Prabhu. Make sure you don’t miss this scene when you watch the movie .. and beware … this scene can’t be watched on thiruttu VCD (note the message in this blog post). You need the vast expanse of a cinema theater screen to even try to capture it in its entirety. It will teach you what dressing UP means. Ilaya Thilagam beats even the legendary police inspector of Thanga Padakkam in this.

If you are thinking what crap is all this, then wait ….. the movie is a lot worser. It is not worth wasting your money on. You can see the last 20 minutes of the movie and come to know almost everything about it … and that’s all about it. The rest of the movie just drags on endlessly to the point that I heard some South Indian mothers in North India finished sweater pottufying for their children while watching it.

Producer topline, bottomline target ellam meet panna poraaro illayo … cameraman waistline a correct-a capture pannittar, be it for Ilaya Thilagam or for Nayantara. Mind you … it’s no easy job. Enna zoom range irukkanum in the lens to complete this task!

Nayantara sizzles, especially in the song “Chaaral chaaral”. I liked this song for more than just that one reason for this is one of the two songs where the picturization does some justice to G.V. Prakash’s decent work as a music director (the other one is “Sollamma”) and because it has been sung so beautifully by Shreya Goshal. “Cinema cinema” is also very good musically and promised to be the perfect entry song for Superstar but the way it has been picturized left a bad taste.

The comedy is pathetic at most places. Some scenes of Vadivelu and some dialogs of Santhanam kept my attention in an otherwise boring and dragging movie. Innum evvalavu padathukku thaan ya Vadivelu adi mattum vaangardha paarthe naanga ellam sirikkardhu? To add to the woes are the roles given to people like Livingston, Vaiyapuri etc. Santhana Bharathi is totally wasted in the movie. Pasupathy does full justice to his role and Meena supports him well, though her get-up and dresses are not in line with the financial condition of her family.

Usually Superstar grows old as his movie progresses and appears with a lot of white hair towards the end. This was one movie where everyone in the audience grew old instead.

Dasavatharam

I am speechless. Hats off to Kamal Hassan. This film must be watched for all the hard work he has put in, if not for anything else. All avatars have been portrayed well, though I felt at least one of them didn’t fit into the story at all. Special effects are too good at most places. Sometimes I just forgot if this was indeed a Tamil movie. A prominent disappointment though is the music. I cannot help but imagine how the songs would have been had A.R. Rahman been at work. But Kamal Hassan more than compensates.

Go grab your tickets expecting an entertainer, not a Kamal classic.

Sarkar Raj

RGV delivers. Positives include good performances by almost the entire star cast, a stellar performance by who else but Amitabh Bachchan, some great dialogs and the sudden twists in the story, at least some of which lead to the unexpected. There are some things I personally didn’t like but they were all weighed down by the positives. A must watch if you loved Sarkar.

Jodhaa Akbar – A must watch

Just brilliant. No two words about it.

There are so many things to keep raving about. For the moment, I am happily lost in A.R. Rahman’s music, syncing it up with the video and admiring all the nuances that I can currently comprehend.

Taare Zameen Par

This is certainly one of the best movies I have watched in the recent times. A brilliant directorial debut by the very talented Aamir Khan, the movie is centered around a 8 year old dyslexic boy Ishaan Awasthi, played by Darsheel Safary. You would have to see the movie to realize what a great job Darsheel has done !!! His body language, expressions and dialog delivery are fantastic.

Really happy to be ending the year with two beautiful movies – Evano Oruvan and Taare Zameen Par.

Evano Oruvan

There have been quite some movies in the past that have made me feel helpless and sometimes even question my very existence. But if there is one movie that has impacted me the most and literally made me cry, it is Nishikanth Kamath’s “Evano Oruvan”. Many hours have passed since I finished watching it but I still can’t get some of the scenes out of my head. They keep reminding me of so many similar incidents that happen around me everyday.

The movie kept me glued to my seat right from the first few scenes depicting the monotony of the protagonist’s life till the very last one. The dialogs were so simple, yet so powerful. Madhavan, Sangeetha and Seeman played their roles so beautifully. The character played by Seeman seemed to add so much meaning to the script – a character who was a part of the corrupt system itself but was impacted by his own conscience, a character that provided some insights into why the rot existed in the first place.

Undoubtedly the best film I have watched in the recent times.

The synopsis, courtesy the movie’s official website :

This is a story of a simple city dweller who journeys introspectively, hunting for the reasons why his society failed to provide him the evolution he really deserved. This is the story of every man who journeys to and fro everyday, trapped in metal boxes, trying to beat the monstrosity he himself created. This is the story of Sridhar Vasudevan, a middle class bank officer who lives with his wife and kids in Nanganallur, a suburb on the outskirts of the city and travels by train to his workplace in the city. Vasudevan’s life is a weird cycle of routine events, which are quite boring. . He struggles right from the water for household use, to get a place to sit in an overcrowded train heading to Beach Station. He works hard in the bank to sustain himself in the rat race. He faces his nagging housewife Vatsala, who is unhappy about every little thing in their life. He worries about the future of his son Varun and his education. He cares for his little girl, Varsha who is about to join school. Vasudevan has to struggle each minute of his day to survive…. But…

But, Vasudevan is not ready to go against his principles. He doesn’t believe in the hook or crook theory. He lives his life in a straight manner and expects the world to live the same way and here comes the disappointment. He finds most people around him opting for the wrong way. Vasudevan feels sick about people who are ready to take any path to succeed in life or for that matter, just survive.

“Evano Oruvan” begins on a note of eruption of Vasudevan’s wrath about the society and people. He is tired of his wife’s never ending demands including that of a new house. He is unhappy about the way his son wants to clear his examinations. He disagrees with the idea of waiting in the line for tanker water as he has been paying the water supply bills to the government. He protests, but in vain. Everybody around him seems to have accepted the system the way it is., Vasudevan is helpless. He is challenged by his wife about the use of his principles in life. The volcano finally erupts. Vasudevan decides to solve all the problems on his own. He looks like a man on mission, a person who has finally understood the purpose of his existence.

Jab We Met

I was very skeptical when my friend “O” suggested this movie. I was not sure I wanted to watch a Kareena starrer, that too a show on the first day. But we decided to take the risk the moment he said Imtiaz Ali was the director and also because I wanted some break from the crazy schedule at work … and I must say we made the right choice.

There are so many positives that make it a good movie to watch – the performance by the star cast (yes … I was surprised someone could make Kareena act so well, that too in a bubbly, cheerful, too-much-talkative role), the dialogs, the direction and the smooth flow, just to cite a few. There were some shots that brought out the situations so well, even though there were no dialogs in the background. Take for example the one where Shahid leaves his cellphone/car keys on top of his car or the one where he drops his tie on the ground. Another shot which will stay in my mind for a long time to come is the one that introduces Dara Singh :-)

There were some obvious loopholes, but they all get overshadowed by the way the movie has been made. The music has been made using cutting-edge technology i.e, cut from many places and pasted together. Some songs have been forcefully fit and introduce unwanted breaks in the story.

Overall a very good experience and a must watch, if you love romantic movies.