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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

 

F for Feluda

No no not the ‘falooda’ you forever dessert crazy friends, F for Feluda the detective created by Satyajit Ray.

Technically speaking the detective’s name is Prodosh Mitter but he is called Feluda and is one of Bengali literature’s fine creations. Satyajit Ray in addition to making movies also managed a magazine for children called ‘Sandesh’ yes, this sounds like a name of a sweet as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Numerous stories featuring Felu da, Topshe and Jatayu the writer were written by Satyajit Ray. These tales have also come out in English. I fondly remember my first big purchase at the Madras Book Fair, many, many years ago! A two voulme set that collected all the Feluda stories. One fortnight during the Christmas and New Year sale, I worked at Viveks – Luz Corner selling Siemens washing machines and dishwashers. This was about 14 years ago. I was paid Rs 150 a day if memory serves me right! I got about 1800 rupess totally for my stint there. I still recollect getting a cotton saree for my mother, some sweets and handed 1000 rupees to Amma. The saree and sweets came to 400 and I had 400 to buy books. Plus about 200 from earlier savings. Quaid-E-Milleth College was the book fair venue, all those years ago, the books still remain in a special corner in my book-case.

OK back to the movies – Satyajit Ray made – Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) and Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God). His Sandip Ray made some more movies – not a patch on to the original though it recreates the nostalgia and love for Feluda that every Bengali has! Oh – by-the-way – I was born and brought up in Calcutta – so this love for Feluda and all things Calcutta!!

Sonar Kella is set primarily in Rajasthan and has themes of reincarnation, hidden treasure, peacocks and kidnappers and thieves rolled into one.

Joi Baba Felunath has Utpal Dutt in a superb role as a cunning villain and the movie is about a relicof a rich Marwari family – the idol of Ganesha that has a lot of people interested in it.
Watch the movies here:

E for Ezhavathu Manithan – The Seventh Man

Southern Cinema, especially Tamizh cinema is yet to find a villain of Raghuvaran’s calibre. Some of Rajinikanth’s biggest hits have come when Raghuvaran played the villain. Raghuvaran, I believe has acted in all the southern languages and Hindi as well. His portrayal of Bhavani the don in “Shiva” is something that still remains the gold standard for oozing menace with one’s eyes and facial expressions.

Years ago, in his first leading role, Raghuvaran starred in “Ezhavathu Manithan” – “The Seventh Man”. The movie was directed by K. Hariharan based on a story by Arunmozhi. Writing credits include – Somasundareshwarar and the screenplay is by the director himself. He played an engineer who attempts to solve the problems in a factory and the village where the factory is based. Exploring themes of capitalism, communism, environmental pollution, corrupt practices, the government, law-makers, industrialists, gullible villagers and the impact of industrialisation; the movie won a fair number of awards in India and abroad.

The special icing on the cake is the melodious soundtrack based on songs composed by the poet-freedom fighter -Subramania Bharathi. Music by L. Vaidyanathan mesmerises the listener. It is truly a travesty of justice that he did not get enough opportunities in cinema!

I present my favourite song in the movie for your listening pleasure.

 

The movie is available on YouTube – today it may seem a bit dated and artificial, but the movie has its loyal fan-base.

D for Dhund

I am back after a break, the week that flashed by has enough fodder for two movies, but let’s leave it for another day!

D is for ‘Dhund’ (Fog). This movie starred Navin Nischal, Zeenat Aman, Danny Denzongpa, Sanjay Khan and Ashok Kumar in key roles. Produced and directed by B.R. Chopra, the movie released in 1973 and was a success.

Imagine, one evening, you are driving your car, you meet with an accident, you are quite far from the main town or city and a thick fog envelops the increasingly eerie darkness. You spot a mansion and seek to make a phone call from there asking for help from a garage in the town. You go inside the mansion and find a dead body and a beautiful, bewitchingly beautiful woman in tears stating she killed the man, what would you do??

This twisted tale starts on this premise and is quite a nail-biter with twist after twist. I am not going to reveal too much about the characters or who plays who and what happens. Suffice to say, everything is not as simple and easy as it appears to be and everyone has a secret!

Note – The story is based on the play – “The Unexpected Guest” by Agatha Christie.

Watch the movie —

Would be worth your time ๐Ÿ™‚

The Movies I Enjoyed in 2016

No specific order, no rhyme or reason, no money received from any producer, not a fan of anyone in particular since Raghuvaran died! So here are the movies I loved watching in 2016.

Joker — For narrating a tale in a bitter-sweet-bitter manner, the truth remains that corruption will never be weeded out, any voice of reason or sanity or honesty will be snuffed out.

Visaaranai — For rekindling the fear of the system, for the sound engineering that made the audience feel the pain, for Samuthirakani who is caught between the devil and the deep sea and is one more expendable.

Maheshinte Prathikaram — Fahad nails it as a photographer in a small town. Believable tale, lovely songs and picturisation, and a refreshing new actress in the form of Aparna takes her baby steps in cinema.

Anuragakarukin Vaellam — Because we need super-cool dads, because romance never dies, because first love remains special, because love has to be given a chance and life has to move on. Biju Menon and Asif do a great job.

Pink — Because – “No means no” — A painful reminder of how the system treats women and Big B with his commanding baritone nails it.

MS Dhoni — For Sushant who nails the legend’s mannerisms – effective CGI and a treasure for all MSD fans. Now who will make the movie on Dravid???

Oru Mutthasi Gada — Hilarious, slice-of-life and two grannies fulfilling a bucket-list and a super-cameo by Vineeth and his dad Sreenivasan.

Saala Khadoos/Irudi Suttru — Madhavan nails the boxing coach’s role and in Ritika Singh we find a star who expresses a lot with her eyes and the frown.

La La Land — A VTV of sorts to put it inย perspective with a local flavour. Song and dance – Hollywood nostalgia.

Dr. Strange for giving us a new superhero though the bargaining sequence drew hilarious comparisons to Robo Shankar in Vellainu Vandhuta Vellaikaran.

Train to Busan — One weird ride in zombie-land.

Cheers folks may 2017 bring you lots of movies, new flavours of pop-corn and discounts on movie-tickets ๐Ÿ™‚