DailyO: Why Indian cinema needs films like An Off-Day Game

My column on the wonderful Malayalam film An Off-Day Game (Ozhivudivasathe Kali). Attempts like this give meaning to the experience called cinema.

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Movie Review: Boyhood

A movie becomes successful when it takes the audience for an enjoyable ride with it. The pace at which the movie progresses should match the pace at which the viewer wants to watch it. Imagine a movie that introduces to you someone’s boyhood, showing the same boy from his first grade to the 12th, and travelling through the moments of joy, despair, and hope in his life? Call it Boyhood.

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Movie Review – Angels

What would play in the mind of a debut director when he attempts to resolve a murder mystery through his first film? Aren’t his prospects better if he co-authors the script? I am sure his mind would be a furnace, burning with all the twists and suspenses he can fit into his story to make it even more exciting. Jean Markose did that just right in the first half of his debut film Angels. But he failed to keep up the momentum and spoiled the thrill in the second half of what had the potential to become a dream debut.
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Movie review – Gone Girl, Annabelle, & Before I Go to Sleep

I watched three films that were on my watch-list this weekend – Gone Girl (family thriller), Annabelle (horror), and Before I Go to Sleep (thriller). Gone Girl is about the search to find out a missing girl and what happened in her life. The film starts off very slowly, and for a Hollywood movie of this type, looked unusually longer. I didn’t see any extraordinary performances in the film, be it in casting, acting, or screenplay. The characters looked just okay, and the indifference of the lead character portrayed by Ben Affleck not only irritated the media in the film, but me too as a viewer. The final 20 minutes of the movie had life, but even the ending part looked agonisingly stretched. I would give it 5/10.

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Movie Review – Varsham

Life for some people is nothing but an expedition to make money. Although it may appear that such people don’t have a life beyond business, they also have emotions and personal attachments. PK Venugopal, the hero in Varsham, is one such complicated character. He is someone who has tried even shady ways to grow his gold finance company. He plans for the future of his son and even secures him a paid medical seat in advance. Although he appears as a gentleman to the people around him, he carries a purposive and devious approach in his relationships, evident from his reluctance to bother about the wellbeing of his domestic help.

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Moview review: Munnariyippu

Malayalam film industry has, of late, found some wonderful scripts and casting that go beyond the conventions it used to keep and follow. This change has a lot to do with the unorthodox performances of the newcomers in the industry and the comeback of talented film makers and serious scripts. Munnariyippu is one such film. The film announces the return of director Venu and Mammootty, and the presence of the relatively new Aparna Gopinath.

Movie review: Padmavyooham

Today, I watched the film Padmavyooham, directed by my friend Bijoy PI. It is about a 250-year old myth related to the wealthiest temple in the world. The introduction to the film gives the viewer an idea about how Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma developed the kingdom of Travancore. The “myth” is that the idol of the temple is capable of working as a water valve which can let the sea water in and out of the temple in case of an emergency. The fictitious part of the movie suggests that this construction design was adopted by the king to be used if his kingdom was usurped by invaders. What if some people attempt to misuse it today to destroy the city? That forms the story of Padmavyooham.
The movie has a riveting theme, excellent casting and dubbing, mystery-emanating lighting, admirable art work, melodious tunes, and adequate technical backing. As in any pro director’s film, the switching between scenes is seemless and entertaining. Almost all the faces on the screen are fresh, but you wouldn’t feel it as the story progresses. Noby Tharian and Sajeev Nair were brilliant!  
Glitches? There are, but you would expect that from a debutant director’s film, wouldn’t you? Bijoy and his devils have kept them to a minimum. Compare it with the films of other debutant directors and actors, and you would feel the difference. Finally, it was awesome seeing the name “Bijoy PI” appearing on the screen. How many directors would be bold enough to use the same whole scene to begin and end a film with, and still keep the audience interested? We need more film dreamers like Bijoy and not film rapers like Santhosh Pandit!

Top Ten Malayalam movies of 2011

Here is my list of Top Ten Malayalam movies of 2011, in the same order:

  1. Adaminte Makan Abu
    Top-drawer performances by Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab coupled with an excellent script and no-loss direction. As the story developed, came along with it a comforting realisation of the film director in Salim Ahmed. To top it all, a wonderfully positive climax!
  2. Beautiful
    One to add to the revival of Malayalam cinema in 2011. Such films started bringing “Traffic” to the theatre and ended “Beautiful”ly! A simple story told lucidly and effectively. Neat portrayal of a strong script. VK Prakash’s best yet.
  3. Pranayam
    A movie that made me travel with the characters and experience what they felt. Excellent casting and great direction. A sigh, a gleam in the eye, a fleeting smile, an averted face, all conveyed meanings hundred dialogues cannot express. The director proved yet again why his parents christened him “Blessy”!
  4. Indian Rupee
    A movie that provided ample space for an amazing comeback by Thilakan, by utilising his acting skills to its limits. He may have been banned from the industry for a long time, but I just got the feeling that he has been honing his skills further, inside the four walls of his house! Ranjith’s directorial skills made the film even more interesting! Worth every single Indian Rupee you spent on the ticket!
  5. Melvilasam
    I was very late to watch this one. In fact, I watched this one only today. My eyes were glued to the screen for the entire length of the movie. Easily one of the best performances by Parthipan. An example for how an actor can perform even if he gets only very limited screen space in a movie. Also the film gave a strong “melvilasam” (address) to the debutant director Madhav Ramadasan!
  6. Salt N’ Pepper
    A classic example of the Malayalam cinema of 2011. No big stars, no fancy dialogues, no great-impact story, nothing. There wasn’t even a tinge of salt or pepper in the movie; it was all sweet! Matured acting combined with excellent direction is what made Salt N’ Pepper taste sweet!
  7. Traffic
    The movie that paved way for a change in 2011. Again, no stars or fancy dialogues. Crisp script, brilliant editing, and superb direction! I had only one confusion after the movie ended – should I call it Traffic or Terrific?
  8. Urumi
    A period movie that did justice to the effort put into its making. Good casting, scenic locations, and brilliant camera added to the visual pleasure. A movie is a director’s. But some movies are the screenwriters’, some are the actors’, and yet some are the technicians’. If there ever is a Malayalam movie that is a combination of all these, call it Urumi!
  9. Khaddama
    Shocking stories from the life of a (or many?) housemaid in a Gulf country. Kavya Madhavan literally lived as the character and displayed the sense of fear and helplessness in the maid’s mind brilliantly. One of the best shows in her career thus far!
  10. Manikyakallu
    I would have placed Chaappa Kurish here, but the simplicity of Manikyakallu made me think again. A film need not necessarily convey a message, but if it does, “wow”! And Manikyakallu was just that, a simple story which retains its relevance in any society, anytime!

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