Trapped

Trapped is a brilliant exposition of how a movie can be made at a single location of sorts with just one principal human character. A review or an analysis will not do justice to the magic, the fears, the pain, hope and redemption and torture that unfolds on screen as Rajkumar Rao nails the role of the man trapped in a high-rise building in Mumbai.

At a deeper level we are all souls trapped in this sea of humanity, seeking individual identities in the vast scheme of things.

Vikramaditya Motwane continues to delight and each of his three films has been a delight to watch.

Go for the movie – 

At a time when stars and studios stuff drivel down our throats, this is a refreshing movie. Tip – Don’t eat stuff when you are watching or have an hour’s gap between your meal and watching the movie!

The Accountant – Ben Affleck Nails It!!!

It is not quite often that we in India get a chance to watch a movie on the big screen before it releases in the UK. Rarely do star-vehicles get a release here before the USA or the European release.

As “Inferno” continues the Robert Langdon saga, through various circumstances, I saw a movie on the big-screen on Day-1 of release that too first show in the participating theatre after ages. I had a couple of hours to kill before I could visit my doctor friend for advice on my mother’s health reports and I took a chance and strolled into the theatre. As usual, the show was going to take some more time to start and the ticket-handler at the counter said – “Relax sir”. Apparently the earlier movie was yet to end; height of advertisements being played to the audience, methinks 🙂

“The Accountant” is an action thriller film, directed by Gavin O’Connor, written by Bill Dubuque and starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow. Ben Affleck plays the eponymous accountant. It is tough to write a review for movies like these because even adding a bit of the plot will reveal away too many surprises.

Sample this — a start that sees a camera following a person entering a shoot-out spot with dead bodies piled up. Then the frames shift to a school for special children, then we see an accountant talking to a couple his clients on saving tax. Then we see the scene shifting to Washington where the director of the Treasury Services speaks to an analyst. A lot of things happen. Then there are flashback sequences of an autistic kid, his younger brother, their parents a teacher and an army officer.

A lot is happening. We have Ben getting instructions from a British voice via – mobile – instructing him on his next assignment at at prosthetics manufacturing mega-company. Mystery deepens, Ben befriends a junior accountant there who had discovered the original anomaly in the accounts. The anomaly is found, then deaths occur, we have a group of hired killers operating as well. In tandem, the investigators from the FBI and the Treasury are on the tracks of Ben as well.

Who are the mysterious killers, what secrets does Ben hide, why is Ben being investigated? The movie ties down all the loose ends admirably. Do watch it.

Ben is moving from strength to strength, have always admired him for his directorial skills. Here he gives a fair demo of his acting skills.

Oppam — Movie Review

Oppam is a return to form of sorts for Priyadarshan and Mohanlal a director-actor combo that has given Malayalam cinema lots of memories to treasure.

A long, long time back a movie called “Yodha” came out. It had Lalettan playing Ashokan who travels to Nepal and becomes the protector of a Rinpoche – Holy incarnation of the Buddha. There is a section of the movie wherein he is rendered blind by the villains and Mohanlal becomes a blind warrior relying on his hearing and martial arts skills to destroy the villains.

In Oppam, we get a sense of deja vu , all over again, but in a good way. After a fair amount of debacles in recent years and Priyadarshan choosing to remake movies in Hindi with varying degrees of recycled success; this is a decent attempt.

In Oppam, Lalettan plays a visually challenged lift-operator/care-taker who witnesses the murder of a retired judge played by Nedumudi Venu. He is accused of the murder and the movie goes on in how he proves to the police that he is not the murderer.

Samuthirakanni is in a purple patch of sorts and getting some real good roles. Here he plays Vasu a mentally deranged serial killer of sorts. There is not too much of suspense as the audience learns that he is the killer and the confrontation scenes between Lal and SK are well done.

There is a little girl as well who becomes the target of SK and how Lal saves the day is what the movie is all about. Unwanted drama towards the end with SK trying to ape Jack Nicholson from “The Shining” with an axe in tow. A fair bit of loopholes here and there in the plot and Vimala Raman in no way looks like a maid! Hopeless casting there!!!

Songs nothing remains in memory!! Mammukoya and Chemban Vinod have a good bit of comedy with a play on the blind man not witnessing/witnessing the murder!

One-time watch — Good fun!

 

 

S for Sargam and Spadikam

I am rushing to finish this as I am starved for time; will keep the movie-descriptions as precise and concise as possible.

‘Sargam’ ‘Tune/Rhythm’ was directed by Hariharan and had a relatively new starcast – Rambha (unrecognisable from the glamour-queen that she would turn into), Vineeth, Manoj K. Jayan, Nedumidi Venu and others.

Kuttan Thampuran played by Manoj is the son of Subhadra and Kochaniyan Thampuran he is an epileptic, who often has violent fits, plus he has a roguish streak to him and is dreaded by his school-mates. Haridas played by Vineeth is his only friend who tags along with the Thampuran. As the years turn, both the boys have grown into unsuccessful youth, the Kuttan Thampuran behaves eccentrically and chews tobacco, smokes and drinks on the sly. Hari is marked a failure by his father – Bhagavathar a noted classical singer.

Hari and Thankamani a student of the Bhagavathar are in love, but Kuttan’s wedding is fixed with Thankamani as a means to cure Thampuran of his illnesses and bestow a sense of responsibility in him. Thampuran is unaware of Hari and Thankamani’s love for each other. In the interim during a temple festival, Hari breaks into a song and gains prominence as a singer. Subhadra Thampurati speaks to Hari and requests him to leave the village for the sake of her own son his dear friend Kuttan. With a heavy heart, but under the burden of friendship and for all the help that the Thampuran’s family had provided over all these years – Hari leaves the village.

The wedding takes place and Kuttan is devastated when he realises he has been married to the girl who was loved by his own friend whom he thought as his own younger brother. In absolute disgust and depression Kuttan commits suicide.

The clock turns yet again – many years later we see a bearded hari returning to the illam on Subhadra Amma’s request; she is on her death-bed – she wants to meet Hari and apologise for her mistakes. Hari sees Thankamani and is in shock as she has become paralysed after suffering the tragedies of a failed marriage and her husband’s suicide.

Hari sings – ‘Raga Sudha Rasa…’ – the movie ends on a positive note as we see signs of Thankamani attempting to sing along with Hari – the audience is made to believe that good things lie in store for Hari and Thankamani.

A musical gem – great performances and a lovely tale of friendship, sacrifice, love lost and found, redemption and salvation. A must-watch!

‘Spadikam’- Prism

Written and directed by Bhadran with a stellar starcast including Thilakan, Mohanlal, Urvashi, Silk Smitha, Nedumudi Venu and others; this was one of the early movies that created the larger than life roguish do-gooder image that Mohanlal would perfect years later in Narasimham, Ravana-Prabhu, Naran and other movies.

The movie is the tale of a strict disciplinarian father Chacko a headmaster in the village-school who punishes students who can’t comprehend Mathematics. His own son is a failure at Maths but has a creative mind and devises inventions like a radio-receiver. In a tragic twist based on his request the language-master played by Venu gives poor grades to the young boy – Thomas. Thomas feels he has been betrayed by the one person whom he loved his language teacher Ravunni master – he runs away in anguish!

He returns a changed man 14 years later as Aadu Thoma a stone-quarry owner/contractor, a lorry-driver and a rowdy; the other goons fear him, the law pursues him; but he craves for this family’s love. A romantic twist in the form of urvashi – ravunni master’s daughter is also there. Though the movie won more fans for the song picturised on Mohanlal and Silk Smitha!

Like a Roman tragedy – Chacko realises the follies of his past and seeks pardon from his son and dies!

How this happens? Why does the law pursue Aadu Thoma? Why does he bash up some goons and corrupt police-officers?

Watch the movie for answers.

A riveting emotional saga with love, affection, family-sentiments, good fights and ear-catching songs – Spadikam was a mass-hit!!!!!

G for Godfather

OK hold on to your socks not the Mario Puzo gem brought to life by Marlon Brando – that’s another cup of green tea for another pleasant day!

Today we look at on of the best Malayalam comedies that was remade to great success in multiple Indian languages. The movie is ‘Godfather’ written and directed by the magic-duo of Siddique-Lal. Look at the sheer acting power of the cast below:

N. N. Pillai – Anjooran
Mukesh – Ramabhadran
Kanaka – Malu
Jagadish – Mayin Kutty
Innocent – Swaminathan
Thilakan – Balaraman
Philomina – Achamma
Siddique – Veerabhadran
K. P. A. C. Lalitha – Kochammini
Bheeman Raghu – Premachandran

The movie is basically the tale of two rich families, one led by an old man Anjooran with his four sons! The other family is led by the iron-lady Achamma. How the youngest scions of each family fall in love and unite the families is told in a hilarious manner with some stand-out performances. The movie also features a hit melody – Pookalam vannu Pookalam!

Ramabhadran his friend Mayin Kutty and Malu are all part of the same college campus; Ramabhadran insults Malu at every given opportunity and his family is also responsible for thwarting a marriage proposal that had come her way. Achamma hatches a plot where she instructs Malu to make Ramabhadran fall in love with her and then destroy the unity of Ramabhadran and his brothers.

Inevitably as it happens the charade turns real and Malu and Ramabhadran are deeply madly in love!

Ramabhadran has to convince his brothers and father to accept his love for Malu. Then a truth is discovered that Swaminathan played by Innocent is actually married to Kochammini dance-teacher and has children all living far away in another village. He leads a dual-identity. As Ramabhadran threatens to tell the truth some real mad-cap comedy plays on-screen. The sequences are seen to believed! Anjooran confronts Swaminathan – Swaminathan says that he is not Swaminathan – Anjooran says slap me to prove that! In utter confusion Swaminathan slaps another brother and says – I am not Swami but you are old enough to be my father – so how can I slap you!

He rushes home before his father and brothers can reach! In utter disbelief they look at Swami getting ready for an oil-bath at home! The expressions on the faces of everyone make the audience laugh and root for Swami! Then Kochammini comes with her children and threatens to commit suicide unless she is not recognised and accepted by the family! Finally the problem is resolved!

On a parallel track Achamma arranges for Malu to be married to someone else. How the marriage plans are thwarted by the motley group led by Ramabhadran, Mayin Kutty and the other brothers is hilariously portrayed! Finally after epic confusion involving the groom being replaced and the catch-n-catch game with the mangalsutra/thali (ceremonial wedding necklace) – chaos is resolved and Ramabhadran and Malu are pronounced man and wife!

Things end on a happy note as Anjooran relaxes his ‘no-woman in my home policy’ and everything ends on a positive and fun-filled note!

Jagadish’s brilliant comic-timing and idiotic antics deserve special praise as well! There’s a sequence where the dogs at Malu’s home bark and indicate his hiding place. He calmly says he is Malu’s friend and asks for study-notes! The dead-pan expression is simply superb! His race to get a taxi for everyone to leave Swaminathan’s house is another hit scene!

The movie was remade as Hulchul in Hindi with Paresh Rawal in Innocent’s role and Akshay Khanna and Kareena Kapoor in the lead! The movie was a hit! The movie was a success in Kannada and Telugu as well. Surprisingly the movie has not been remade in Tamil yet!

Do not miss this comic gem! I can watch this one and In Harihar Nagar another gem from Siddique-Lal a million times and still not get bored!

F for Francis – Saint Francis – Francis Punyalan!

OK this is a small trick but then I did not want to take a sub-par movie and frame a review for it just for the sake of the Blogging Challenge. Plus I don’t know how frequent my writing will be post Feb-17 – so any bit of spare time with access to the internet will result in something being written and published for the Blogging Challenge.

The movie in question is actually a sweet little gem titled ‘Pranchiyettan and the Saint’ starring Mammooty.

The movie is the tale of a simple rice trader played by Mammootty who is quite rich; but lacks sophisitcation or a great education. A chance encounter of his with that of Punyalan St. Francis of Assisi and how his life changes is what is depicted in the story. 

Co-starring Jagadhi Sreekumar, Priya Mani, Tini Tom, Khushboo and others; this is a feel-good movie that reiterates the simple logic that ‘sincerity of purpose and a noble heart’ willhelp things get done. It is not one’s wealth, education or titles and awards that matter; but the desire and willingness to help others that counts.

Jagadhi is hired as a tutor to help coach a boy in clearing his Board Exams. The sequences involving Jagadhi and the boy are hilarious!

Innocent who plays Vasu Menon has some of the best lines in the movie and his interactions with Mammootty and the quest for praise and awards is really well done. There is a humourous take on an Oscar-winner shamelessly satirising Resul Pookutty’s achievements.

The movie was scripted, produced and directed by Ranjit and released in 2010. The movie was a phenomenal success and was a clean and hilarious look at modern society and the idiosyncrasies of its people!

D for Devasuram

Mangalaserry Neelakandan, ah the name evokes so many memories. This was the movie that established Mohanlal’s mass appeal for another generation of movie-lovers. With a story by Ranjith based on a real life character called Mullasserry Rajagopalan. The story examines the concept of ‘karma’ the fruits of our actions in an entertaining manner.

The movie was directed by acclaimed movie-maker IV Sasi someone who has given hits with both the Mohanlal and Mammootty. The tale is set in a Kerala village and traces the rivalry of two well-off heirs of strong independent and rich clans. Mangalaserry Neelakandan played by Mohanlal and Mundakkal Shekaran played by Napoleon. Neelakandan whiles away his time and money in idle pursuits of alcohol, some music, some dance and general fun; while his estate is managed by Warrier played by Innocent in a really well done role.

In a skirmish Neelakandan’s friend kills Shekaran’s uncle accidentally and Shekaran plots his revenge aiming to destroy Neelakandan.

In the interim, the romantic interlude arrives in the form of Bhanumathi played by Revathi – a classical dancer. In a burst of male ego, Neelakandan uses his influence to force Bhanumathi to dance in his house instead of letting her perform at the temple festival. This is deemed an insult as a dance dedicated to the gods ends up as a performance for a demon-like man. Bhanumathi curses Neelakandan at the end of the performance and walks away in tears. This mellows Neelakandan and he attempts to change and helps Bhanu’s family and tries to convince her to resume dancing again. But Bhanu steadfastly refuses to do so.

There is a moment of epiphany, when Neelakandan’s widowed mother confesses that in reality he is not the progeny of the hailed Managalserry tharavad but he is a bastard son, born of another man. As Neelakandan’s world crumbles around him he realises that all his bravado, pumped up super-arrogant male ego and wealth is the result of a lie. The viewer slowly sees a gentler and more humane side of Neelakandan and Bhanu also realises that an iota of goodness and humanity exists in the demon. One night Shekaran and his gang attack Neelakandan and injure him seriously causing grievous injury to Neelakandan’s legs.

Bhanu realises that her curse has proved true and is ridden by guilt. With care, love and Ayurvedic treatment she nurses Neelakandan back to good health and invariably falls in love with him. Neelakandan tries to distance himself from Bhanu considering her future and even attempts to arrange a dance performance for her in Delhi. But as things pan out – she professes her love for him and with the blessings of Warrier their wedding is arranged.

All this while Shekaran continues to simmer in anger and plans to once again wreak havoc in the life of Neelakandan by insulting him in front of the whole village. He arranges for Bhanu to be abducted and kept in captivity and then at the temple festival begins beating Neelakandan he keeps taunting him telling if he retaliates his men would kill Bhanu. Blow after blow rains on Neelakandan and he bears the pain fearing for the love of his life.

Friends to the rescue:
Neelakandan’s friends rescue Bhanu and as this message reaches Neelakandan, the demon within him is unleashed and a brutal man-to-man hand-to-hand combat begins between the two. Eventually in a powerful climax Neelakandan picks up a ceremonial sword and cuts off Shekaran’s right hand; proclaiming – ‘Enough is enough Shekaran, I want to live in peace and for that I am taking this hand of yours.’

Music:
With lyrics by Girish Puttencherry, music by MG Radhakrishnan and a rousing background score by SP Venkitesh the soundtrack was exceptional. Angopangan sung by KS Chitra, Sooryakireedam by MG Sreekumar and Sree Paadam by MG Sreekumar and KS Chitra evoke a lot of emotions.

The movie was a blockbuster and set the benchmark for Mohanlal’s larger than life image. Some years later a sequel titled ‘Ravanaprabhu’ was released with MOhanlal in a double-role as father and son and retained the core cast of Devasuram. Ravana Prabhu also did good business with a melodious number – Ariyaadhe, Ariyaadhe’ picturised on Mohanlal and Vasundhara Das.

I present the climax of the movie available on YouTube – power-packed finish! Watch the full movie, you will not be disappointed!