Visaaranai: An Honest, Spine-Chilling Take on Abuse of Power

Visaaranai; Vetrimaaran, Dinesh, Murugadoss, Samuthirakani, Ajay Ghosh, Kishore, Anandi


National award-winning filmmaker Vetrimaaran’s “Visaaranai” reminded me of a couple of words – System and Power – from Ram Gopal Varma’s films. System, in RGV’s language, is someone or an establishment with the power to do anything. In “Visaaranai”, men in khaki are bestowed upon with power, which in turn makes them the system and nobody, from the most influential person to a daily wage worker, can escape from its clutches. And within the system, the power ranges from the high-ranking official to the lowest in the hierarchy. An inspector can’t question his superior when asked to do something and there’s no right or wrong in the way it’s done. In a lovely scene, an officer knows what he’s about to do is wrong, but he can’t stop himself from doing it. With a guilt-ridden face, he says, ‘when the time comes, all of us will regret for our actions. That day, I’ll speak’.

“Visaaranai”, partly based on Tamil novel called Lock Up, is an honest, spine-chilling take on these ‘powerful’ men and how they abuse power to get their job done. Early on, four Tamil migrants – Pandi (Dinesh), Murugan (Murugadoss), Afsal (Silambarasan) and Kumar (Pradeesh) – are taken into custody (in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh) for a crime they didn’t commit. How do they get arrested in the first place one might wonder? Well, these are ‘powerless’ men, faceless men, voiceless men and those with no identity. With the language barrier and no roof over their head, they sleep in a park and hence, become easy target.

The entire first half revolves around the four sacrificial lambs, caught in a web of deceit, and how they cope with police brutality. For long, Pandi and his friends are never told on what charges they are arrested and we are as clueless as them. In the course of making them admit to the crime, they are beaten black and blue in the name of interrogation. When Murugan asks for what crime they’re being beaten up, he gets the boot to his mouth, knocking out his tooth. When the reason is finally revealed, we’re told a high-profile individual’s house is robbed and the police are under tremendous pressure to nab the culprits. Since time is a luxury they can’t afford, they’re forced to pin the crime on Pandi and his friends. It all boils down to do system and power.

There’s a sub-plot involving Anandi, a domestic help, who is being sexually abused by her employer, a police officer, and Pandi wants to help. In other words, she’s a victim too of the system. In the second half, the story shifts to Chennai, where an auditor, KK (Kishore), involved in a multi-crore deal is being interrogated. If he speaks, the whole government will be shaken. This time it gets dirtier. As KK points out, ‘all of this is a game’. The people lower the hierarchy are merely used as pawns by the system.

“Visaaranai”, made in an industry that’s known for celebrating and worshiping khaki-clad heroes, this gritty and hard-hitting portrayal of the police force comes with a jolt of realism. Not even for an instance do we feel like the filmmaker is taking sides and he achieves that because of his ability to strike a balance between good and evil. He introduces us to characters with a conscience, with the urge to do the right thing but are helpless.

With exceptionally great performances from the ensemble cast, especially from Dinesh and Samuthirakani, “Visaaranai” is absorbing, gut-wrenching and leaves you with a lump in your throat. The film hits you like a ton of bricks, right in the gut, and will haunt you for several days.

Four and a half stars

Leave a Comment

Filed under Tamil, Thriller

Irudhi Suttru: Rises Above Predictability with Great Perfromances

Irudhi Suttru; Sudha Kongara Prasad, R. Madhavan, Ritika Singh, Mumtaz Sorcar, Nassar, Radha Ravi, Zakir Hussain

Irudhi Suttru Movie Stills (6)

When was the last time a leading star played a grumpy, foul-mouthed and ill-mannered womaniser in Indian cinema? In “Irudhi Suttru”, director Sudha portrays Madhavan (Prabhu), who plays a boxing coach in the Indian squad, in ways most heroes won’t be willing to see themselves on the screen.

In his introduction scene, he wakes up with a woman in bed who cribs about travelling 20 km to spend time with him, only to be humiliated by his actions. He’s used to sleeping with random women ever since his wife eloped with another boxer. Cut to next scene, charged with sexual harassment, he’s transferred from Hisar to Chennai. As a viewer, one quickly forms an opinion about Madhavan’s character and that’s what Sudha wants from her audience.

In Chennai, Prabhu finds a potential boxing champion in Madhi, a fish dweller, who is grumpier than him. He wants to train her and is willing to pay her Rs.500 per class. She gives in to the lucrative deal, not because she aspires to be a boxer, but so that she could buy her mother a new sari. Early on, Prabhu pays women to sleep with them. Now, he pays a woman to train her.

Unlike the regular template in sports films where the mentee goes the extra mile to get noticed by the mentor, here the latter identifies the hidden talent in the former.

Sudha beautifully explores the mentor-mentee relationship against the backdrop of boxing and merely uses the sports angle as a metaphor. The story is about a washed-out coach’s shot at redemption when he finds a protege with all the qualities of a champion, but the spotlight also stays on the unison of two eccentrically diverse personalities and their common goal. At one point, you’re almost convinced that they might fall in love, but Sudha duly avoids taking that route and stays faithful to the script.

One thing that’s not clear is whether Madhi is really interested in boxing or not. While she says she has been training from the age of 3 and idolises Muhammad Ali, there’s no sign of anything aspirational from her side. Initially, she agrees to get trained because she can support her family financially and later on, for her sister, who has been boxing for many years with the hope of earning a police job in sports quota. Towards the end, she fights for her coach. Never do we understand clearly what really motivates her to box.

Though it’s tough to shake off the predictable story, what still works in this sports drama is the way it’s treated. Extremely well-written, the dialogues will be etched in your memory and so will the performances be. Madhavan breathes life into the role of a grumpy coach with ease and elan, while the extremely impressive newbie Ritika Singh steals the show with a knockout performance. Both of them complement each other with the kind of raw acting we’ve rarely seen. There’s no way any other actress could’ve done a better job than Ritika in this role.

Three and a half stars


Filed under Action, Drama, Tamil

Bhale Manchi Roju: Excellent writing makes this a winner

Bhale Manchi Roju; Sriram Adittya, Sudheer Babu, Wamiqa Gabbi, Sai Kumar, Venu, Posani Krishna Murali, Dhanya Balakrishna, Chaitanya Krishna, Prudhviraj


The best thing to have happened to Telugu cinema since “Baahubali: The Beginning” is the release of “Bhale Manchi Roju”, a terrific debut feature from 26-year old writer-director Sriram Adittya, whose writing will sweep you off your feet.

The film, which could be easily described as a crime comedy, offers more than just entertainment and that proves that the young filmmaker is clearly not bothered only about box-office success. Here’s a director who wants us to take notice of his writing, and it will make you sit upright and laud the effort that has gone into to making a predictable story a cut above the rest.

Early on in the film, we’re introduced to the heroine Seetha, played by Wamiqa, as she’s getting ready for her marriage, and are told that she has always dreamt of this day. In the next scene, we meet the hero Ram, played by Sudheer, who is reeling under a breakup, and vows to slap his ex-girlfriend on the day of her wedding. It’s quite normal to imagine that Ram and Seetha are former lovers, and if it was a regular Telugu outing, your guess would’ve been right. But this isn’t your regular film and that’s what makes “Bhale Manchi Roju” stand out.

Packed with so many twists, this is a film that shines solely because of the writing, and what’s even more creative is that it still manages to play to the gallery. Every time you guess how a scene is going to unfold, there’s a twist, and you won’t see it coming. For instance, in a scene that unfolds in a church, Ram goes to slap his ex girlfriend who is about the exchange marital vows, and what follows is something you wouldn’t have guessed it.

It completely catches you off guard and leaves with you with a grin. In another beautiful scene, the lead pair accidentally kiss each other in a fight sequence but it isn’t followed by a duet. Sriram, working with the limits of commercial cinema, shows us that it’s possible to experiment and entertain, too.

This is a story filled with wannabe characters with some strange filmy connection. There are two kidnappers who idolise veteran Telugu actor S.V Ranga Rao, and one of them even considers him his grandfather. The hero’s friend is an aspiring writer and the main villain, played by Sai Kumar, is a film buff, who operates out of an old theatre named after a popular Telugu classic “Narthanasala”. And then there’s Prudhviraj as Mallepushpam Rama Rao, who plays a junior artist who hasn’t got his due, and will go to any extent to elicit applause for his performance from public. At one point, all these characters including the lead pair come under one roof, and, call it ironical, it happens to be the old theatre. If that isn’t the perfect meta moment then what is.

The film comes with its share of drawbacks, like the slow buildup in the first half. It takes time to set the ball in motion and once it does, right before the interval, you’re in for a roller-coaster ride. Sriram spends a lot of time to develop his characters and if you’re an impatient viewer you’ll probably hate to wait. But sometimes good things happen to people who wait and one can’t think of a better example than this.

Sriram is aptly supported by the work of cinematographer Shamdat and music composer Sunny M.R. In one of the best scenes, an important character learns that his lucky colour of the day is yellow. Minutes later, when a chase ensues, everything in the frame turns black-and-white, except for the colour yellow.

“Bhale Manchi Roju” ends the year for Telugu cinema with a bang. It may have been last release of 2015 but this is, hands down, the best film of the year.

Four stars

Leave a Comment

Filed under Action, Comedy, Telugu

Pasanga 2: Too educative to be entertaining

Pasanga 2; Director: Pandiraj Cast: Suriya, Amala Paul, Karthik Kumar, Bindu Madhavi, Vidya Pradeep and Ramdoss


There isn’t much to rave about in Suriya’s “Pasanga 2”, which is fun in parts but otherwise feels like a long-drawn counseling session for audiences on how to treat children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and is strictly targeted at the middle and upper middle class families. This leaves us with the question whether this disorder is highly prone only in kids raised in an urban environment? As a doctor points out, the kids in the film – Kavin and Nayana – are hyperactive only as they are devoid of any physical activity.

When we’re first introduced to the two seven-year-old protagonists, who are extremely mischievous and make their parents’ lives nightmarish, we don’t quite understand if they’re really suffering from ADHD, and if you’re a parent watching the film and have no idea about the disorder, you might leave the hall in a state of confusion. From what I gathered, the film isn’t actually about kids suffering with the disorder, but about parents who mistake their child’s irregular and partly eccentric behavior as ADHD, and that’s very common in most cases. While it’s good that this angle is being addressed, sadly it doesn’t get articulated in the way it’s supposed to be.

As much as you want to appreciate director Pandiraj’s effort to address an important issue, which he could’ve have done with little more subtlety, you can’t help but wonder why do all these filmmakers always show what we already know but rarely offer a different perspective to look at things. Along the way, “Pasanga 2” becomes a film about social reform and targets the educational system, especially the way schools function.

It makes both cheeky as well as blatant digs at private schools by pointing out how they favour only smart kids, in a bid to boost their reputation, and how life in a hostel is nothing less compared to the one behind bars. Does this mean government schools are any better? There’s a lovely dialogue in the film and it goes like this – a father says that he believes in his daughter and not the school she’s sent to. Or you could also say a kid who wants to learn will do so irrespective of the school he’s put in. As parents, the decision to send their kids to the school of their choice totally rests with them and nobody has the right to correct them. It also depends on their spending capability, because education doesn’t come cheap nowadays.

The film goes a tad overboard in making a point about schools and in the process becomes too preachy, and that’s where it all goes downhill. Wish it focused more on the lives of the kids and made “Pasanga 2” even more entertaining and children-friendly and less educative. Even the scenes featuring Suriya, who plays an extend cameo, are a delight to watch, but there’s still some sense of pretentiousness in his portion.

Two and a half stars

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy, Drama, Tamil

Inji Iduppazhagi: Mildly Amusing Fitness Commercial

 Inji Iduppazhagi; Prakash Kovelamudi; Anushka Shetty, Arya, Sonal Chauhan, Urvashi, Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam, Gollapudi Maruthi Rao and Bharath


In Inji Iduppazhagi, Anushka Shetty plays Sweety, an overweight woman who finds solace in eating – from keema samosa to jalebi – anything and everything she can stuff herself with.

She almost eats through the entire first half; much to the worry of her mother whose only concern is to get her married off to an NRI. Her partner in crime is her diabetic grandfather, who likes to feed her everything he’s not supposed to eat. At one point, you get the feeling that this old man could be really responsible for her weight.

With weight struggles as the core theme of the film, the makers could’ve handled this story in two ways – attempt a full-length spoof with no compromises, or address the issue as sensitively as possible.

The film, directed by Prakash Kovelamudi, achieves neither of these things and ends up making a mockery of even the little promise it displays sporadically, like the wonderful scene between the father and young Anushka at the very beginning.

While the first half is fairly engaging even with the cliches, the film almost turns into a fitness commercial post interval, especially towards the end, featuring cameo appearances by a bevy of stars such as Nagarjuna, Rana Daggubati, Jiiva, Simhaa, Kajal Aggarwal and Hansika Motwani among others. The things that get great mileage out of the film are the Clean India campaign, a weighing machine, jalebi and laddoo.

Despite all the pain she went through to gain weight, Anushka couldn’t save this one from turning into a largely boring experience. And to add to the woes, the makers fooled the viewers into believing that it’s a bilingual, which the film definitely isn’t as it mostly appears like a dubbed Hindi serial on Tamil channel.

Two stars

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy, Romance, Tamil

The Walk: Gripping And Awe-Inspiring

The Walk; Robert Zemeckis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kinsley, James Badge Dale, Clement Sibony and Cesar Domboy

Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in TriStar Pictures' THE WALK.

Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in TriStar Pictures’ THE WALK.


That’s what you are after watching the climax of “The Walk”, a biographical drama of Frenchman Philippe Petit. The film is about his “surprise, illegal, high-wire walk”, between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in August 1974.

Captured in Eastman colour tones, the film begins on a fantasy note – light and frivolous – till reality dawns, where the insanity of the artist, his art and the risk merge together, leaving you mesmerised and awestruck. And with the 3D effect, the film has its moments of cinematic joy.

Written by Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne, based on Philippe Petit’s book, “To Reach the Clouds”, the film is narrated in a non-linear manner which reveals Petit’s ambition and finer nuances of his character, effortlessly.

It begins with Phillipe, a wire-walker, magician, unicyclist and street performer, speaking to the audience from atop the Statue of Liberty with the iconic buildings as its backdrop.

He throws at you the same questions, you are certain to ask him at the end of the film. Questions like, “Why do you tempt fate? Why would you risk your life?”

Packed with lessons of fulfilling his dreams and ambition, he tells us how his fascination for walking the wire began; his baby-steps in wire walking, his inciting moment at the dentist’s clinic when he saw the picture of the proposed towers that attracted him like a magnet.

He also speaks about his inspiration and accomplices; his mentor Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), his girl-friend Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon) and his unlikely cadre of helpers who aided him to carry out the coup.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with his slightly impish and arrogant demeanour, is a perfect fit for Zemecki’s vision of Philippe. His blatant, “It’s impossible, but I’ll do it” reeks of an impulsive platitude and dubious ambition which makes his act gripping and performance appealing.

This is evident especially when he moves back and forth between the towers, pausing to sit, look down and taunt the police officers who have gathered on either roof of the towers.

Charlotte Le Bon as the street singer Annie is more humane and realistic. It is her encouraging words, “If you dream it, you should do it” is what propels Philippe to take the plunge. And your heart bleeds for her, when she decides to return to Paris from New York.

Ben Kingley as his mentor Papa Rudy, with a tough exterior and a soft heart, is stereotypical. And the rest of the motley group with limited screen time are reduced to hammy side-kicks.

With excellent production values, director Zemeckis along with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski’s camera-work has managed to; replicate the era, blend his characters and the computer-generated images in such a way that breath taking visuals spring naturally from the material itself.

What elevates the viewing experience is Alan Silvestri’s music, Randy Thom’s sound designs and Jeremiah O’Driscoll’s fine edits.

Finer details of Philippe’s journey especially his trials and tribulations are lost in the 124-minute runtime, making it seem like a piece of fiction.

Nevertheless, “The Walk” keeps you on the edge during its show-stopping sequence, which is worth a watch.

Four stars

Review of Troy Ribeiro 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Drama, English, Thriller

Puli: New Cut-Off for Mediocre Filmmaking

Puli; Chimbu Deven; Vijay, Shruti Haasan, Hansika Motwani, Sridevi, Kichcha Sudeep, Thambi Ramaiah, Robo Shankar, Ali and Prabhu


The bigger the film doesn’t always mean the greater it is, and there can’t be a better example than Vijay’s big-budget fantasy drama Puli, which isn’t a bad film but much worse; it’s awful. The film, unlike most Vijay’s outings, comes from someone who loves to experiment and even though not all his attempts have succeeded so far, he’s always given us the feeling that he’s isn’t a lousy filmmaker. With “Puli”, however, all that seemed to have changed and that’s not a good sign.

It’s tough to understand whether “Puli” is a fantasy film or one that’s intended for children, because with so much of violence, it sure doesn’t qualify to be called a children’s film. But with fantasy elements like talking birds, talking Troll, talking tortoise, magic potion and Lilliputs, you’re almost convinced that it’s a fun fantasy entertainer. Sadly, it quite isn’t the entertainer you anticipate it to be as most of the time is spent on glorifying its star hero and his image, so automatically everything you expect him to do in commercial films is checked – from breaking into duets in exotic locations to romancing two heroines and having all the time in the world to deliver pages of dialogues.

“Puli” uses the fantasy angle to merely tell us a regular revenge tale that gets so predictable at a point that it becomes the new cut-off for mediocre filmmaking. If you can’t give audiences the best, give them something mediocre, and that seems to be the mindset of most southern filmmakers. Strangely, most of us are satisfied with mediocre content because we assume that it’s due to the lack of budget, time and technology a film’s made the way it is.

Vijay as the man-on-the-mission-to-save-the-world character does what’s usually expected of him. He fights, dances, romances, mouths dialogues like he was a preacher in his previous birth, but otherwise doesn’t quite impress as an actor. As a star, he shines, and there are deliberate moments in slow motion just to send his fans into frenzy. The leading ladies – Shruti, Hansika and Sridevi – look like they’ve come to participate in some fairness content. This leaves one wondering why does the work of most makeup artists on southern actresses’ feels like, guess who’s the fairest of them all. Why this obsession for fairness?

Sridevi gets the meatier part and she’s good, but it’s the roles of Hansika and Shruti Haasan that end up giving you a migraine. Shruti plays a girl from a tribe, but she’s dressed impeccably, and god knows how she has such beautiful, well-groomed eye lashes. Hansika, well, she plays a princess, so it’s understandable if she looks pretty.

“Puli” has its moments but they’re short-lived, like the wonderful stretch where Vijay embarks on an Indiana Jones kind of adventure. It’s a great idea that goes haywire in the execution. Chimbu Deven is a creative filmmaker, one with good ideas, but doesn’t quite succeed in translating them on to the screen in a way it will appeal to everybody.

One and a half star

Leave a Comment

Filed under Action, Comedy, Drama, Tamil

Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga

Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga; Rajesh M, Arya, Santhanam, Tamannaah Bhatia, Vidyullekha Raman, Bhanu and Vishal Krishna Reddy

v s o p 46136 copy

Friendship and booze are the two elements on which all Rajesh’s films rest, including his latest rib-tickling entertainer Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga (VSOP), which happens to be Arya’s 25th film. But for some reason the spotlight shines on Santhanam throughout the movie.

Although Rajesh clarified in several interviews that the film’s title VSOP has got nothing to do with the popular brandy label, yet the makers cashed in on it and how!

The title is neatly engraved on the cap of a liquor bottle and the title track has a line about the lead characters Vasu (Santhanam) and Saravana (Arya) being popular for drinking in several liquor joints in the city. There’s a scene where Vishal, in a cameo, explains the major difference between men and women over brandy and beer.

Rajesh can’t be blamed for the kind of films he’s been making, for that’s what is expected of him. When he tried to step out of his comfort zone, his attempt in “All in All Azhagu Raja” failed miserably and he was quick to realise it and bounce back strongly.

He plays to his strengths in VSOP; makes it funnier than all his previous outings. The jokes work, the lines are fresh and the camaraderie between the lead actors has been taken a notch higher.

Santhanam is Rajesh’s trump card, and he can’t imagine a film without him. They make a great pair and each time they collaborate, we get something funny, even if it is mostly the booze jokes and sexist one-liners.

Take the scene where Arya, after being rejected by Tamannaah, meets Santhanam at a bar. Arya isn’t upset as he believes he has rejected her. Santhanam serves him beer, and three rounds down, Arya sobs like a child, coming to terms with his rejection. Santhanam says, “The truth that’s not coughed out when police rough up young men, only comes out when booze goes in”. And you can’t stop yourself from laughing out loud.

Like most of Rajesh’s films, VSOP too doesn’t have much of a story. It follows the lives of two best friends — Vasu and Saravana, who grew up studying and drinking together. Their lives turn topsy-turvy when they welcome women and what ensues is outright predictable and partly cringe-worthy.

The booze jokes are fine because the youngsters dig it. But the sexist jokes are annoying and shows how cheap filmmakers’ taste of comedy has become. At the same time, Rajesh gives the women a chance to get back at men, and that’s something worthy of mention.

Vidyullekha, for instance, has scenes where she’s made fun of due to her weight, but there are moments where she gets to crack jokes at Santhanam and Arya. Vidyullekha chips in with a terrific performance while Tamannaah needs to be specially applauded for lip-syncing dialogues perfectly.

What really makes VSOP work, besides the jokes, is the lovely camaraderie between Arya and Santhanam, who make every scene thoroughly entertaining. Santhanam has teamed up with many heroes over the years but his on screen charisma with Arya is unmatchable.

Three stars

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy, Tamil

Bajrangi Bhaijaan: An Endearing Bhaijaan This One Is

Bajrangi Bhaijaan; Kabir Khan, Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Harshaali Malhotra, Sharad Saxena

Bajrangi Bhaijaan

The beauty of the film lies in the subtlety with which director Kabir Khan weaves in the inherent biases people often have about other religions – more specifically in the case of this film, the Hindus about Muslims and vice versa – into a story that deals with a theme as sensitive as the Indo-Pak relationship.  He brings those emotions to the fore but does not scratch it deep.  He just lets that moment linger enough to leave us with a thought.  There’s a scene early in the film where Dayanand (Sharad Saxena playing Kareena’s father and a devout Brahmin) questions Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi aka Bajrangi (Salman Khan) on what makes him think that the little lost girl is also a Brahmin, and he responds by saying, “She is fair, so she has to be Brahmin”.  But a few scenes later, he discovers the girl’s love for non-vegetarian food and hence thinks she cannot be a Brahmin, and is even quicker to assume that she must be a Kshatriya instead. You cannot help but chuckle at instances like these that induce a sense of familiarity.

Also, the film is quick to get to the point. The director does not spend much time dwelling into the various sub-plots. Ten minutes into the film, we find the adorable six-year-old mute Shahida/Munni (Harshaali Malhotra) separated from her mom and reaches Kurukshetra where she meets her saviour in the simpleton Bajrangi who due to circumstances is forced to take care of the little girl. We are quickly brought to speed with Pawan’s Hindu Brahmin upbringing, his love story with Rasika (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and the current state of affair with his would-be father-in-law.  Soon the family realise that the girl is a Muslim and belongs to Pakistan.  When all efforts to send the girl back home through legal means fail, the man with a golden heart decides to escort her personally to Pakistan through the illegal route. And thus begins the most enchanting and endearing journey of the film.  The adventure gains direction when the two meet Chand Nawab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a Pakistani reporter, who helps them reach their destination.  How they do it is what makes for the second half of the film.

Crossing the territorial boundary between India and Pakistan was far simpler for Pawan than crossing his own personal boundaries.  Salman’s character starts the journey with a rigid frame of mind and shows strong religious vulnerability, but sheds his traditional beliefs for a progressive outlook by the end of it. From refusing to enter a mosque because he is a Hindu to sitting in a dargah for hours, Salman’s character takes a giant leap of faith. After all, there is no religion greater than the love for mankind.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is not intended to be a film that dwells into the depth and complexities of the relationship with the two neighbouring nations. To watch the movie with such expectations would be bordering on foolishness. Honestly, there is nothing extraordinary about the story but art lies in the way the commercial and emotional elements of the subject have been mixed to give us a delightful film.  In fact, if you go expecting a usual Salman Khan fare, you will be pleasantly surprised. “Budbak” Bajrangi is no super hero; he is a man replete with follies.  The actor lets theatrics take a back seat, so there are no punch dialogues, no trademark movements. This is Salman’s best in a long time.

Nawazuddin shows you why he is one of the best actors we have.  He effortlessly plays the role of a small time reporter chasing a big story.  Kareena barely has anything to do in the film. Despite not saying a word right till the end, the little Harshaali lets her expressions and gestures do all the talking. As the lost Shahida, she garners all the sympathies and wins many hearts.

Aseem Mishra’s cinematography captures your attention right from the time credits start rolling till the time the reunion happens.  His camera captures Kashmir as beautifully as it does the essence of old Delhi. Pritam’s music just goes by.

Interestingly, the film starts with Pakistan winning a match against India but only ends with the film winning everyone’s heart.  Watch the movie with the heart on your sleeve and to see Salman’s transformation from bhai to Bhaijaan.

Review by Mangala Ramamoorthy


Filed under Comedy, Drama, Hindi

Maari: Dhanush Saves A Very Ordinary Film

Film: Maari; Balaji Mohan, Dhanush, Kajal Aggarwal, Robo Shankar, Vijay Yesudas and Kali Venkat

CS 60_22 (1)

Dhanush plays a local hooligan in “Maari”, mostly seen in a dhoti, smoking a cigarette and twirling his moustache. You almost lose count of the number of times he lights a cigarette, twirls his moustache and mouths the line “I’ll finish you off”. These bits mostly happen in slow motion. So, every time he lights a cigarette, the wave of smoke covers his face like a cloud. It’s quite possible the film sets a new record for featuring most scenes in slow-mo. And not to forget, he also sports John Lennon-like glasses.

It’s no surprise that Dhanush performs the role of a rowdy with such ease. He, along with his sidekicks, Robo Shankar and Vinoth, feature in the film’s best moments. Sadly, these moments are repeated too often, only to prove that the director isn’t capable of delivering a wholesome commercial entertainer with some story, some heroism and some cliches a la Dhanush’s recent blockbuster “Vella Illa Pattathari”. Except the story, we get everything else from “Maari”, and that’s the biggest concern of the movie.

“Maari” is not a bad film. It isn’t a bad film because Balaji Mohan shows he isn’t, after all, a bad director. Though there are plenty of cliches, the director shows how even the most routine moments in Tamil cinema can be made enjoyable. For instance, the first time Dhanush meets Kajal, you expect him to fall for her instantly like it’s always expected to happen between the lead pair in our films. But the scene doesn’t pan out the way majority of the audience would have anticipated. All this saves us the pain of sitting through a duet, usually shot in some exotic location, but thanks to Balaji’s quirks, the romance is underplayed.

“Maari” is a badly written film with sub-plots that don’t keep us engaged even briefly. In the beginning, we’re explained about pigeon racing in which Dhanush is invincible. He also finds solace in raising pigeons, and trusts them even more than humans. When he’s with the pigeons, he’s a different man, much calm and happy. You expect the film to predominantly revolve around pigeon racing, but there’s another sub-plot about red sandalwood smuggling, and there’s one more about Dhanush turning an auto rickshaw driver.

Dhanush saves a very ordinary film, which with another actor or even a star wouldn’t have worked as slightly as it does now. Robo Shankar is a revelation. The effortlessness with which he mixes sarcasm in his lines, makes him one of the best contenders for a comic villain.

Balaji Mohan’s big leap of faith into the commercial stream with “Maari” didn’t seem to have worked in his favour.

Two and a half stars

Leave a Comment

Filed under Action, Tamil