Velaikkaran(2017) – The Worker – A Test of Patience

The glowing reviews by a lot of my friends, senior reviewers, and general hype created around the movie made me think this was going to be a cracker of a film. In the case of ‘Aruvi’ there were polarizing views but here everyone was praising the movie.

Year-ends are usually a day to catch up with friends and watch a movie. So legendary Instagrammer and travel junkie Deepanarayanan – chaps it is a guy not a girl named Deepa Narayanan – before you get any ideas 🙂 sent a booking SMS.

Reached the theatre after an adventurous bike-ride as my charioteer – Krishnan – BP to me being Arjuna (mudiyalai yaenaake kandraviya iruuku ) as I held my phone to follow Google Maps pillion-riding through a relatively free road to reach Abirami Mega Mall.

Dr. Sai the Dr. Strange of our group a neuro-surgeon with a mind-blowing humour sense -and Prince Deepu were humming to a ‘galeej’ number tuned by Annirudh that was a cacophonic assault to the auditory nerves.

So Vyasarpadi and its surroundings is the gangland-badland of Chennai city controlled by Kashi (Prakash Raj) – Arivu (Shivakarthikeyan) sets up a community radio highlighting the happenings in the community and aims to help people come out of a life of crime.

As a web of incidents unfold he ends up joining Saffron a food consumables leader as a sales executive. The interview sequence is well done. Aadhi/Adhiban Madhav played by Fahadh Faasil does a good job, though I really think he deserved a better deal.

The movie seeks to highlight the high level of corruption and malpractices in the packaged foods industry. Essentially we see how over a course of three months a lady gets cancer by eating junk foods. A lot of twists and turns abound as we see see how the hero turns saviour and victor.

I yawned about eight times during the movie – dialogue, dialogue dull dialogue and characters that made me laugh (I am turning cynical perhaps). Marketing and Sales lessons from MBA class get an outlet on the big screen. Throw in red flags, throw in some Communist / pseudo-Communist hogwash, get people to flash their mobile flashlights and hero and heroine hug each other. Plus Nayanthara playing Mrinalinee is reduced to second fiddle here. Too many characters seem to have got a raw deal here in this movie. Wikipedia says there’s a 195 minutes Director’s Cut. God save us!

 

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Theeran Adhigaram Ondru – Theeran Chapter One – A Riveting Cop-Tale

A gritty cop-tale without the trappings of commercial excesses is a rarity and the movies that come to my mind include:

Ardh Satya

Droh Kaal remade in Tamizh as Kurudhi Punal with Kamal and Arjun

Crime File in Malayalam based on the real case of the murder of a nun in a monastery

Kaakha Kaakha and Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu by Gautham Menon did a fair job but still had the song and dance routine in them. I am not going to speak about the Singham series as Hari and Suriya tested hearing capabilities with all the loud shouting though they were full paisa vasool hits.

Wednesday and Special 26 are other movies that come to my mind.

Last year, a debutante won the hearts and minds of viewers with Dhruvangal-16 that brought the good, old-school police-procedural to Tamil cinema.

As always, I deviate from the core topic, Karthi’s ‘Theeran Adhigaram Ondru’ made me sit up with its excellent trailer that spoke about a true-crime inspiration.

The actual case detail is listed here:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/operation-bawariaon-silver-screen-now/article20493784.ece

The movie has to cater to the needs of bringing in all categories of audiences and thus includes a cutesy romantic track between Karthi and Rakul. Then the movie hits the right gears. The story is about daring dacoities and murders perpetuated in farmhouses away from main cities across Tamil Nadu, especially in Thiruvallur District. As Karthi tries to uncover the case, some startling facts emerge that takes the investigative team across India.

Kudos to the director for doing his research and presenting a quick animated sequence about the Bawaria community.

Ten minutes before the interval starts the movie in its true sense and it is one thrilling ride till the end credits roll as Karthi, Bose Venkat and the remaining officers in the investigative team track down Oma and his gang of dacoits.

There is a sequence where the cops chase a dacoit on a bus. The dacoit jumps from one bus to another and is caught as he holds onto a rope and the cops hold him as the buses run on high speeds across the desert. There is a final shootout as well in a remote village that has been really well done.

Ghibran’s background score seems to be a bit too loud as in quite a few sequences the dialogue was not audible. It could be the theatre’s poor sound effects, so perhaps I could be wrong.

Do watch this movie, action-sequences itself are worth the price of admission and Abhimanyu Singh as the leader of the dacoits – Oma is menacing. Special congrats to the stunt coordinators as well.

Go watch it 🙂

Mukti Bhavan – In Search of Salvation

Mukti Bhavan and Masaan – now make companion pieces of sorts – Varanasi and the River Ganga playing a major role in both movies.

Mukti Bhavan titled Hotel Salvation for international releases is a powerful, poignant and bitter-sweet tale of the patriarch of a middle-class family and his relationship with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in his quest for salvation.

In Varanasi/Benares/Kashi – remains a hotel called Mukti Bhavan where those who seek their final journey find an abode. Our lead character Daya played by Lalit Behl is a 77-year old man who has lived a life, well-spent, he sees a dream that foretells his death and he decides to leave for Varanasi to spend his last days. His son Rajiv played brilliantly by Adil Hussain seems to work in some kind of bank or investment firm and is seen chasing sales targets. Rajiv’s wife Lata played by Gitanjali Kulkarni and daughter Sunitha played by the elegant Palomi Ghosh also add to the perfect portrayal of the slightly upper middle-class family structure. They own a car as well as a Bajaj scooter.

Rajiv manages to secure a fortnight’s leave and accompanies Daya to Varanasi and they check-in to Mukti Bhavan. The caretaker Mishra ji is  played by Anil K. Rastogi who has some brilliant lines – “Death is a process.” “The souls here reside within the body. Once the body dies what purpose does the soul serve here.”

At one juncture, Daya falls sick and everyone feels he will die. An elderly lady at Mukti Bhavan played by Navinidra Behl adds grace and charm to the tale, she quips – ‘I have been waiting all my life here to die.” Daya apologises to his son for scuttling his son’s talents and dreams of being a poet. Some real good father-son scenes and I am sure a lot of us guys will relate to these scenes. Daya survives, Latha and Sunitha also make a surprise visit. The 15 day period comes to an end and the caretaker says – ‘Register in a new name and continue to wait for salvation.’

Daya finds a friend and companion in Vimala, then Vimala dies and Daya narrates a moving obituary that he has written for her. Daya advises Rajiv to return to his regular life.

Do watch this movie to figure out what happens to Daya.

At times, amidst all the drivel and leave your ‘mind at home’ cinema that all the woods bombard us with – small little gems like these arrive and make us fall in love with cinema and real characters. By the time the movie ended, I was quite emotional, been some time since I cried after watching a movie; Mukti Bhavan makes me think a lot. My obsession with death, salvation and redemption continue. There are no answers, neither are there any new questions. Celebrate death, embrace it, that which needs to happen will happen.

Full marks to director – Subhashish Bhutiani for an assured, confident and meaningful debut.

 

The Keeper of Lost Causes – Movie Review

Title–The Keeper of Lost Causes

Language–Danish

Original Title-Kvinden i buret

Genre – Crime Thriller / Police Procedural

Directed by–Mikkel Nørgaard

Written by–Jussi Adler-Olsen

Screenplay by–Nikolaj Arcel

Starring– Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Sonja Richter, Søren Pilmark.

Release-2013

 

“The Keeper of Lost Causes” is the first movie in the Danish film trilogy titled ‘Department Q’. Based on the best-selling books by Jussi Adler-Olsen the movie is a throwback to a proper investigative police-procedural instead of the slam-bang-chase-two-sex scenes formula that Hollywood seems to have perfected. A routine investigation goes horribly wrong with two police officers shot dead and our protagonist injured badly and returning to duty after recuperation. The top-cop speaks to our returning cop stating that he will no longer be a part of Homicide squad and is being assigned to a new department – Department Q, which will dig through old cases that have not been closed and sort them out appropriately.

Left without an option – Carl Morck joins Department Q, which has Assad a Muslim cop who is jovial and focused and enjoys his work. The camaraderie between the two is brought out well as the movie progresses. Carl digs out a five-year old case of a young lady politician, Merete who had gone missing when on a ferry trip with her mentally challenged brother Uffe.

Carl and Assad painstakingly rebuild the case looking for answers, the movie builds its tension gradually and uncovers dark secrets and presents a villain that’s menacing and truly diabolical. Was Merete killed? Did she commit suicide as stated in the case=report? What is Uffe hiding? To find out all the answers, watch the movie.

Excellent adaptation of the book and full credit to the director for a job well done!

Mom – Thoughts on the Sridevi Starrer

The ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape case shook the collective conscience of the country. Across the country, candle-light vigils and protests were held and we all prayed that the victim would by some miracle of medicine and prayers survive; but it was not to be. Since the horrific and painful incident, we regularly receive news-reports of abuse, rape, murder and the vilest of them all – child-rape by perverted paedophiles. Every single time, the blood boils, the castrated rage finds outrage-outlet on one’s social networking profile and then everything is forgotten. Some friends whom I know are taking concrete measures by conducting safety-awareness and self-defence workshops, which are empowering women and young girls.

Get in touch with Janani – for more information!

I will get back to the movie, this is not exactly a review, so it will not follow the usual – starcast and technical crew details. Sridevi plays a Biology teacher with two daughters, one a teenager and the other about eight or nine years old. The elder daughter is gang-raped and dumped in a drain, the perpetrators include her classmates, a watchman and a goon. The girl attends a Valentine’s Day party at a farmhouse organised by her classmates and Sridevi grants permission with a bit of fear in her mind and all her fears come true as her daughter undergoes the unmentionable. Credit to the director to not slip into sleaze and show any uncomfortable scenes. The girl survives, is discovered, admitted to the hospital and a case filed. What follows is a true depiction of the blasted legal system that this country is left with as a remnant of our Colonial Hangover and how the suspects/accused escape with ease.

The rest of the movie details how the anguished mother avenges the traumatic rape of her daughter with a bit of help from Nawazuddin Sidiqqui who plays a detective. The climax happens in the mountains and Akshaye Khanna as the investigative cop has a good role too. Kudos to the actor playing the distraught dad as well. The girl who portrays the victim has also done a good job and I look forward to her acting in longer and meaningful roles.

A sad reminder of the times that we live in – vigilante justice remains the only solution!

 

Z for Ice Station Zebra

Imagine you are in a submarine, you are supposed to reach the icy top of the world before the Russians do and there is a saboteur in your ranks in the submarine. Based on Alistair Mc’ Lean’s pulsating novel of the same name. The movie directed by John Sturges, produced by MGM with an all star cast headlined by Rock Hudson released in 1968 and was a decent box-office success that built on the psychological fears of the Cold War era.

Watch the trailer here:

 

Those who love watching spy/army thrillers and don’t mind a bit of rambling dialogue and old school special effects will love the movie though it makes significant alterations from the original novel.

The movie is a good watch on a rainy evening, with a glass of single malt and something spicy and crunchy to eat! 🙂 🙂 🙂

And with that dear readers this exercise in vanity, a race against a deadline and artificial ego-boosting on knowledge of cinema is done 🙂 Whosoever read my posts – thanks!

A shout-out to Miss Shri Abirami who blogs at – https://astrogogal.wordpress.com/ and featured me along with other stellar bloggers at the half-way mark. Thank you Abi!

Other leading lights who have blogged with great panache, passion and dedication and whose posts I loved reading are:

Dhivya Balaji

Rajathilagam

Mokkai Mannan VSR aka Gils the Great!

Kavya Janani

Nandhini

Kishor

Megha

Sylvian

Sneha

Good luck friends! Make a great May 2017 ahead!

X for Mr.X in Bombay

In the 60s Kishore Kumar had a remarkable stint as an actor and worked in a number of reasonably successful movies that blended his comic flair and good songs to provide a safe bet for the producer. Mr. X in Bombay released in 1964 and was directed by Shantilal Soni starring Kishore Kumar, Kumkum and  Madan Puri in principal roles.

The movie has a bit of science fiction as we see a scientist creating a potion that leads to a death. Then there is a love story between the scientist’s daughter and the hero. Hero is eliminated by the villain, but hero returns and gets the heroine and the villain is punished. How does all this happen?? Watch the movie 🙂 There is an invisibility potion in the movie 🙂 that plays a key role 🙂