Film Reviews

Santosh Subramaniam – The Romance is back

santhosh subramaniam

I didn’t have any hope for the film knowing that it was a re-make from the remake king Raja. But it turned out to be the exact opposite. It was fun, pure fun and clean entertainment for a genre that’s out of fashion in Tamil cinema. Priya’s Kannamochi Yennada couldn’t bring back that classic romance-family combo. Yaaradi Nee Mohini attempted to do that and failed badly. Not only Santhosh Subramaniam kept me awake for the entire span of the movie but it also brought back memories of yesteryear films that were mere theater plays made for the big screen.

In what seems like an acting competition between Prakash Raj, Geetha and Boys fame Genelia D’Souza, Genelia wins hands-down. She will probably walk away with the heroine of the year award, if Asin wouldn’t match her performance with Dasavathaaram. Genelia seems very natural and the major part of her success in this movie should go to Savitha, the dubbing artist. Genelia is becoming a talent to watch-out for. Watch out.

Prakash Raj wasn’t spontaneous in Mozhi and even in Vellithirai. He probably takes too much of importance in films he produces and I didn’t like his performance in those movies. But in SS, he rocks. Thanks to his controlled act as a strict father, I am starting to like his performance, again.

Geetha, one of my all time favorites in Tamil cinema and a much under-rated actress makes an impact with her stereotyped Kamala Kamesh role as the Kollywood mom. Everyone including Balachander[Azhagan] to Mani Ratnam[Thalapathi] under utilized this great performer and its one of the many shames of Kollywood.

Jeyam Ravi delivers a better performance than what one expects from him. And that’s good for his career. Santhanam cracks a dozen wordplay jokes on others. Another talent to watch out for. I’ve saying this from the days of Sagalai Vs Ragalai. And what was Sadagopan Ramesh doing there as the brother. Dude, aren’t you supposed to play cricket ?

The editing by Mohan(father of director Raja) is just perfect. He has to be thanked for the crisp climax, just like Chennai 600 028. T Kannan’s camera and combined with Mohan’s editing makes the film an easy watch. Two neat tunes by Devi Sri Prasad.

I haven’t watched the original Telugu movie, Bommarillu and so I am not sure if this is a scene-by-scene remake. But I’m sure Raja has sense of the big screen. He brings back Kollywood’s classic formula of bubbly romance mixed with family drama in a perfect fashion. This is a perfect rich-family-boy falling in love with single-parent-middle-class-talkative-girl story. For the fun filled first half, thanks to Genelia and Director Raja. Paisa Vasool !!

Film Reviews

King Kong – Demi ‘Peter Jackson’ God

King Kong

An outright commercial. Fantasy flick. Overtly sentimental. Glitches here and there. Popcorn muncher’s special. Graphics Galore.

Yet its an accomplishment in modern cinema. Its bigger than what you have seen before. While it pays tributes to many classics, its tries to get better than all of them. It slightly succeeds too. If you are a sane person you wouldn’t attempt to make a movie like that. One would assume it was Matrix or Charlie Kaufman flicks which were unconceivable. Even after conceiving, bringing them on-screen would be a tight rope walk. But King Kong is very much conceivable but the script to screen conversion is where Peter Jackson displays his genius in movie making. If Lord Of The Rings was anything by grandeur, King Kong is an epitome of this show business. With this PJ proves he is one among the top showmen in Hollywood.

Oh !! yeah, its the same story. The beauty and the beast. The same moving fantasy tale that we have witnessed before more than once on-screen. But there’s not one beast here but an array of them. While the gorilla falls in love with blond babe, the other spooky creatures try to eat the beauty, flesh and blood. Its like making Mahabharata or Bible, as a film. The whole world knows the story. So what are you going to do different about it ? Peter answers that with an utmost ease. Even succumbing to have a very ‘believable’ ending, PJ still works his crazy ways of getting there, to the climax. With a three hour movie you could pretty much bore the fans with all the build-up. PJ does take his own sweet time in unleashing the beast but doesn’t allow you to sink in the seat, even until then. Howabout having King Kong + Titanic + Jurassic Park + all the what-if-you-get-lost-in-a-creepy-forest movies in one movie. Its a sheer tact to combine the best of all these and pack them into one movie.

The beauty and the beast are so well attached to each other. Just like the previous Kong flicks, you would fall in love with the Kong even at the very minute you meet him. At the end, it does compel you to shed a single tear. Though it might be laughable to watch the inter-species romance, this is how the original was made. Kong loves the Ann Darrow, a suffering actress. Ann just sympathizes Kong for that. But no where as I feared, Naomi shouts,” Kong…Kill them”. And thats a big relief.


An effort of re-creating this classic is an herculean task. There are hundreds of infinitesimal details that needs to be taken care. Without a worthy team, PJ wouldn’t have succeeded in creating this to-be-classic. Yes, PJ’s King Kong is the most complete movie in the Kong series and its an instant classic. A perfect cast which includes, Naomi Watts – the babe from Mulholland Dr., Adrien Brody – with a nose of namooru Vikram and the superb Jack Black. I would crime if you missed to mention, Andy Serkis as the man behind the CG Gorilla. You just can’t ask for more in the casting department.

Re-creating the depression-era New York mustn’t have been hard with computer graphics. But the production values are just mind-blowing. The skull-island and those wacky creatures seem horribly true. King Kong by himself seems completely alive. Be it the way he jumps thunderously to catch the blond girl or the way he sneaks through the streets of New York after finding her. while the most brilliant sequences being the above, there are also masterfully picturised stunts between the Gorilla and T-Rexes. You wouldn’t be skeptical, that Kong is a computer generated creature. However there are places where the cast caught in between graphics, seem unreal. An amazing support from the music director for those splendid BGMs.

It takes nearly 100 minutes for the Kong to enter the story but the entry is with a build-up much bigger than a Super Star entry. From then on until the end its pure action, every shot. At times it gets so high that you just wish, PJ would give a few minutes of break for the action.

As Peter Jackson says, its his childhood dream to make King Kong. But none including him would have believed that it would turn so spectacular. The whole three hour movie seems to be a big dipper of fun, romance, action and fantasy.

A must see, ofcourse in the theatre. Don’t even dare to watch in on the DVD. Forget your logic and critic hats at home. PJ’s King Kong like Spielberg’s ET is one of those reasons, why movies exist.

Film Reviews

Harry’s Hormones

harry's hormones

After nearly the whole world has watched Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire, I set out to watch the movie on a Saturday morning. By the time, I walked out of the theater, it was freezing cold outside and I couldn’t believe that there were still cars running around. Not because it was freezing cold outside but I was in a state of trance for the last couple of hours that made me believe that when you aim a wand at something it can transform into a monkey or a donkey or even an IIPM Ad. Who knows. Harry Potter isn’t Rajini to get you transfixed during his on screen presence. Still, Harry Potter has a magical aura around him. And even if you never liked, with people around you cheering, ” Harry Harry Harry”, you can’t just hate him. And I was one such odd man out.

Harry Potter and I have a love-hate relationship. Before I go on to state what the love is, here’s a secret. I haven’t yet read any of Harry Potter books. One reason could be that before I set out to read book one, I saw the first movie. After then, year after year, it’s a custom to walk into a theater where Harry fights Voldermot and succeed every single time. Hence I am not a major Harry Potter freak to whom you could ask, ” Which spell makes the Dark Mark appear ?” and I would readily shout, Morsmordre. From the first time, I always have a feeling that I haven’t understood the entire thing about Hogwarts and Harry as compared to someone who has read the book(s). Generally, I would love to read a book and watch the movie but I am not used to read a book series like Potter and watch the respective movies on screen. Not just me but millions of people around the world aren’t used to this kind of book-then-movie-book-then-movie stuff. Thats probably one reason, why I believe Harry Potter is a major phenomenon and would be talked about until at least the next century. I ain’t awestruck at Harry Potter’s movie but I I truly believe in this.

Even as I purchased the ticket, I knew that Harry Potter wouldn’t die in the hands of Voldemort. As the print media is already selling Harry’s sixth book, one would know before hand Harry Potter is going to succeed even in fifth and the sixth movie. That certainly distances you from getting involved with the movie. This is where my interest never gets even as as Harry gets a wild card entry in the Tri-Wizard tournament. So I have to say if there are major changes to the climax of the next Potter movies, my energy levels would soar and would make people like me, get involved. I wish that happened much against the wish of Harry Potter fans.

In this serving of Harry Potter’s Adventure at Hogwarts, Harry’s hormones work overtime even as Harry is thrown into a deadly challenge for which he isn’t mentally ready. As he makes a lengthy stare at his school mate Cho Chang, you know Harry has grown-up. This is clearly innocence lost. From just being a children’s fantasy story, Harry Potter grows up into a teenager flick. I am not sure if this is what J K Rowling originally intended to be. There is a huge possibility that she just allowed the character to shape it by itself and hence from being just a chandamama story hero, Harry Potter gives a feeling of being a real human being. This is the biggest plus in creating a fantasy story. You could make just about anything in a fantasy story. Even in the next story, JK rowling could take Harry Potter back to his first year at Hogwarts.

I have to ramble here. Harry Potter isn’t James Bond or Spiderman or Superman or any of the super heroes. If this Harry Potter like growth had happened, year after year, James Bond should have turned into a 70 year old man now, going by Ian Fleming’s initial description of James Bond. Or Superman would be a retired old man, sitting in a recliner and reading NY Times. But it never happened. Superman is as young as he was, when first introduced. Watch out for the young Superman as he returns in the summer of 2006. My Paati created a fantasy hero for her grand children. So the same Darling Rajakumaran is still fighting the Mahendrapuri Raaja as he was during my childhood days. My nephew heard the same story a few years back. Just that the latest Darling Rajakumaran drives a Maruthi 800 while mine had only a karuppu horse. May be this growing up is what makes Harry Potter a saga. An epic that could stay for decades to come. None can answer now and its for time to answer how Harry Potter would be carried into the future. Probably 50 years from now, like Peter Jackson, some could give life to the forgotten Potter story and re-take it for the movie standards of that day. The reality is, Daniel Radclife would have enough beard like Dumbledore and would be resting in a recliner like the above said Superman.

Goblet of Fire is a so-so movie. There are some fantastic CGI scenes but the movie is more realistic than other Potter movies. The Quiditch World Cup had breath taking special effects. Made me wish if only there was a real stadium like that. Someone said the whole quiditch stuff ran into more than 50 pages in the book while it was reduced to 5 minutes on-screen. Quiditch was one thing that made me sit-up in the first potter movie and I felt let down as the whole chapter ended up so fast. Still, the movie by itself was filled with competitions. It had 3 races and some story in-between the three competitions. While the dragon episode was the grand one, the other two were pitiful counter-parts. Especially the maze competition for climax, reminded me of the final scenes of Kubrick’s Shining.

The screenplay has a many yawning places which made me slide down the chair and yearned to go to sleep. Of course there are also sensational scenes in the story. Though reading the whole Yule Ball episode might be sleep inviting, on-screen it was short and sweet. Harry asks for a girl to dance with him during the ball. Since she is already going with someone else, he finally settles down for an Indian girl. And why would they want to symbolically represent Indians as brown skinned by choosing darker girls while there are thousands of fairer Patels and Shahs in England. Spontaneously, Harry hugs Granger while he is about to start for the second round of competition. Thats probably a highlight of this Harry Potter episode. I’m waiting to see if Granger would marry(?!!) Potter or Weasley, as Wesley also sights Granger as much as Harry. The ending was sober with the death of a friend but there is an entire sequence before that seems like the mummy awakening, which is exciting.

There is absolutely no reason to write a review for this movie. Its become like a sort of social thingy for Harry Potter movie to release and the world waits for their turn of tickets in long queues of theaters to watch him do magic. They still cheer, “Harry Harry and Harry !!”. More reasons to love this movie than hate it.

Film Reviews

Sivakasi – Okkamakka Kalakks !!

Vijay in Sivakasi

The process of creating a successful potboiler lies in the art of creating an interesting storyline. While a successful film stops there, a super hit goes into unraveling the interesting story with lots of twists thereby doping the audience. Though how much ever Perarasu sounds completely crass and cliched when they display a title, Story Sceenplay Dialogue Lyrics Direction – Perarasu, has managed to create an acceptable masala that is certain to end up as a Super HIT.

Sivakasi is coming together of a divided family and this ain’t new for kollywood for we have been witnessing this since Kudiyirundha Koil. As a change, the movie starts in the Ranganathan Street of T.Nagar and travels to the village for a climax. Offlate, the stories from villages come speeding towards a city, this story actually is a relief as the second half is set in a village. The speedy second half would actually cover-up for the comedy drag in the first half and when the people come out of theatres, they would certainly look at Sun TV cameras and repeat, “Sir, Padam Super”. The winner is actually AM Ratnam. While a successful movie always reward nearly everyone, AM Ratnam manages to get a super hit from every alternate movie.

Exactly on the fifth minute, an iron door is cut with a gas burner and an image walks out. The camera pans in wide angle from the shoe to show the face. The camera wantedly shakes and a loud harmony of Oh !! Oh !! continues in the background. Few minutes later, the mechanic kid says, “Anney!! Oru anju thadava turn pannunganney”, our hero actually turns five times with a ready-made music of vishk vishk vishk. Irrespective of your movie philosphies, you tend to enjoy just these supremely exaggerated shots and willing to watch this angry young man in action. By the time, our hero reaches for the kumkum plate and make a thilak on his forehead, you are sucked into an idiosyncratic world of Super Stars. With Vijay, An HEIR to the Super Star arrives.

Heroism in kollywood terms, comes easy to Vijay. He is graceful, cool and is on his best when the story requires him to display heroism. This is the third of Vijay’s good movie in the last 3 years. After Thirumalai it was Gilli and now its Sivakasi. Vijay has nearly perfected the rajini pattern and infact I should say he says that loud in few scenes like when he is throwed onto the throne as in Rajini Muthu. Also when he pronounces, Unmaiya Sonnen while vishking his finger. With the boy-next-door looks and a typical dravidian face, Vijay will be celebrated like Rajini. Vijay who is 30 has an advantage of starting early. Vijay is here to stay provided if he doesn’t get carried away in doing ‘different’ movies. I only wish those crappy dialgoues on ‘how to be a girl’ are most avoided.

Prakash Raj actually increased the value of the film. With his role similar to Gilli if not the same, he out performs most of others in the movie. As they say, only when you have a Nambiyaar, MGR can become a hero, Prakash Raj is a must have for such movies. Asin is the heroine. Asin is the heroine. Asin is the heroine. Nothing much about this girl who even laughs in malaylam. The comedy gang spear-headed by the ‘hari-giri’ Chittibabu does a neat job. Prakash Raj’s sidekick, the guy with the beard is actually funny. And as many believe, the director just ensembled the hit characters of the recent commercial hits and brought them together in one movie. The songs and dances are certainly cool and reminding me of Dhill, Gilli, Dhool and Thirumalai.

If you are all out for the movie, you will enjoy, clap hands and whistle along with the crowd and I did miss watching this movie in Kamala among numerous Vijay fans. Have a mighty timepass !!

Film Reviews

How not to write a review !!

While the puritans, journos and some industry elites are upset that anyone today can write movie reviews on the internet, I was worried about those who say that. When anyone can walk into a theatre to watch a movie, anyone can comment on it. Whether the comment withstands applauds or succumbs to criticism depends on the smartness of the reviewer. When someone could get angered on all the reviewers of the mainstream media and kick start his own reviews online, it is his way of expression. Just like how the technology enables sharing of the knowledge which was once reachable only by the haves, it also enables expression of a common audience.

With blogging becoming an enabling device for reviewers of all sorts, movie reviewers were also born. A few years later after blogging kick started, you could spot only a few gems here and there. Many of them are just re-telling of the story, sub-standard and completely clueless about the grammar of reviews. They are silly, sloppy and irritating. But these are bound to happen. I am going to support them. Call me biased. With a heap of crap coming from the mainstream media, who are regarded as the people who define standards for writings, these mushrooming blog reviewers will also get consolidated and only the fit will survive. If someone was to write a review of Kurudhippunal and has no idea about the motifs and the philosophy behind a movie, it will glaringly show-up in the review. Either it will end up as 5 paragraph review with every para directed towards a component of a movie thereby encompassing all the elements of a movie or the other way. The other way is to just take a small theme of the movie and magnify it to exorbitant proportions and finally ends up as just a piece-of-the-pie.

I believe a perfect review lies somewhere in-between these two extremes. Any one who can balance between these two will emerge with a successful review that’s laudable. If you take either of these approaches, you fall short at the end. Stop. Before you start posting that comment here asking me how I can claim a say on this issue of reviews, I am not the authority of reviews, so is everyone. None of the so-called-reviews that I have written here have followed these rules. Its just now, I am getting the see the grammar of reviews clearly. I haven’t followed these at but I believe that this is what will work.

First off, writing a review shouldn’t be just to create a controversy or to add one to the count of your reviews or to brag about the knowledge of films that one possess. Writing in-depth about a movie can become boring to the readers and in the same way shirking the other aspects that contributed to the movie. A good review, again, I believe, can only come out of watching a good/bad movie. Whoever wants to write a movie should be moved by the movie, for good or bad. For an armchair critic, everything will appear faulty or shiny. Someone who watches a movie open-minded, given the skill of expressing what he witnessed, would be the best reviewer. Hence the critic ceases to be correct after a dozen times. For him, alcohol has no effect. But for the fresh reviewer who writes reviews just for the joy of it, even a bottle of beer can be intoxicating. The idea of constantly doing the same joyous job again and again, even for a porn actor, would become mundane. Hence the blogging community taking up reviewing as their second profession is a welcoming move. Even if it is not welcomed, it will happen. But as said before, the best will remain. Others will be discarded or will not be noticed.

I was triggered to write this whole blogpost only because of the review of Anniyan that I finished reading just now on Kumudam’s Theeranadhi. Written by Ramaswamy, the review made me laugh for nuts. It is such narrow minded review that I was mentioning before as blowing up a small motif to a godzilla. Starting from the Aryan invasion, the brahminical violence and few other unheard theologies, the review completely misleads the reader into a different track. One specific instance where the reviewer points out, that a link exists between Charlie’s killing by Anniyan and the Dravidian abuse on Brahmins during the early 70’s. He goes on to say that Anniyan is a movie to role-model brahmins to oppose that abuse. In the concluding paragraph, the reviewer tries to balance the review and then goes back to his own arguments again.

While I’m positive that some amount of Sujatha’s inputs would have influenced in the characterisation of Ambi, I don’t think Shankar to be such a fool to allow his movie to be hijacked for some unknown historical cause. A 70 year old Sujatha needn’t write a movie to infuse brahminical thoughts in the people’s mind. He could might as well tell them straight through a column. Even if these could be theoritically true, Shankar wouldn’t want to risk a high budget movie for such a small cause. Also by infusing these unheard thoughts, Anniyan seems to be a better movie that it really is. Anniyan is such a badly executed commercial movie without any such under-currents. Such reviews are only written to boast on the intellectualism the ‘Siru Pathirikaigal’ seem to be advocate of. While I don’t blame the reviewer for it, because he has a his own limitations of what the editor wants to be published. Probably the entire review would have been re-written in his name.

A similar mi-leading thing happened with a wonderfully shot movie named ‘Kathal’. Balaji Shakthivel’s movie could be called a classic in the coming years except for it’s abrupt ending. While many of us call it abrupt ending, the intellectuals of these small magazines call it as a rebellious and infectious climax. During the final scenes as the protagonist, a backward caste teenager, roams in the road as an insane dude, the heroine comes running to him and falls in his feet to request a apology for marrying someone else. All this happening and the climax being complete here, two reviewers of small magazines (I think, Dheemtarikida and Uyirmmai, though I’m not sure here) wrote that the movie has anti-periyaar sentiments being adviced in the movie. Reason, while the climax happens, a periyaar statue stands in the middle of the road. And hence they call ‘Kadhal’ to be a movie with intentions well hidden. Even Periyaar himself wouldn’t spare these folks.

Not only these folks but there are bunch of mainstream media folks who also write bad reviewers and hence the coming up of a new genre of blog reviewers should be a welcoming move. We have tried everything and now we need to give bloggers a chance. If only bloggers can be level-headed and not write such horrendous reviews, atleast the main-stream media folks would start understanding that just being in main-stream media alone doesn’t help, you got to write right stuff. Bloggers Arise !!