Tamil Movie Review: 3 Idiots vs Nanban

It suppose to be a quick post on Shankar’s Nanban but I ended up writing more especially after yesterday I watched again the well made 3 Idiots

nanban

(The guy on the far right – your right – seems better than the rest. Trust me, you will be safer watching the original 3 Idiots than the “new” idiots in Nanban – they are nowhere close to the beauty of story-telling and acting in 3 Idiots. Poster source: Indiaglitz)

Indiaglitz in their review of the movie said:-

First things first. Let’s not compare ‘3 Idiots’ with ‘Nanban’. Though the latter is a faithful remake of the Aamir Khan starrer, ‘Nanban’ has its own moments.

It carries a nice theme presented in an interesting way. It drives home the point that one shouldn’t run behind success and rather pursue his/her own interests. If one develops right skill anything is possible.

I guess they are just trying to be nice here and nothing more. I agree – perhaps Nanban would have made more sense and entertaining if you have not watched 3 Idiots in the first place. This post however will make more sense for those who have. Indiaglitz asks us not compare ‘3 Idiots’ with ‘Nanban’ but how we could not do that? It is almost 100% remake of 3 Idiots in many ways including many of the dialogues, settings and characters.

And if you are intending to watch this latest Tamil flick, I strongly suggest you not waste your time and money watching it. Despite the big names in the acting roles and film-making (Enthiran’s Shankar being the director here) and having copied almost 100% of 3 Idiots which was released in 2009, this remake in Tamil sucks big time. Don’t get me wrong – those acted in this movie is highly talented in their own standing but coming together in a remake of the 3 Idiots, something did not just click right.

It is missing the fire that we saw in 3 Idiots.

Comparing the two movies side by side, you will be better off watching the more original, the more entertaining and more believable 3 Idiots starring Aamir Khan. Take the main character – Aamir Khan is like thousand times better than Vijay in the same role (so does all others). You can see a glimpse of hidden intelligence when you see Rancho the first time in 3 Idiots but you see nothing (despite trying very, very hard) when you see Pari in Nanban.

Nothing seemed natural here – Vijay seemed to be trying very hard to be that innocent but brilliant student who changes the life of his 2 friends. All the actors in Nanban seemed to be trying hard to follow the same style of the actors in 3 Idiots but do not achieve the same fluid. You don’t feel the same agony even after Jeeva’s character jumps from the top floor of the university. And once that key characters in the movie is ruined, you can kiss the whole movie good-bye as well.

(Who is the better “virus”? Boman Irani was a class better than Sathyaraj in the same role. Image source: https://cinemovika.blogspot.com)

Even the well talented Sathyaraj seemed to have wasted his energy and time here as well (you want to see Sathyaraj in his elements? Watch Kannamoochi Yenada and you will see why I say that he has wasted his energy and time here).

The award winning Boman Irani who acted in same role (as the much hated “virus”) in 3 Idiots have done his role just too well – In 3 Idiots, it was a clear fight between the 3 idiots and the virus but here in Nanban, Sathyaraj hardly come close and ends up playing a very minor role.

Perhaps the film makers with all that talent and resources at their disposal should have done something different that sets Nanban apart from 3 Idiots. Perhaps the film makers should have localized Nanban to more South Indian settings (yes, they tried but it was not enough – speaking in Tamil instead of Hindi does not really count) – perhaps even dropping “All is Well” to something more localized in Tamil.

The only saving grace in Nanban is Harris Jayaraj’s music – it is good to be heard on its own although you need to forget that it was made for Nanban (if you do that, 1 + 1 ends as something else and not 2). My favourite would be Irukkaannaa – nice touch of the various background instruments by Harris.

I have seen 3 Idiots several times before and I still love it but Nanban, despite a “brave” attempt to rekindle the magic that 3 Idiots did, failed miserably in almost every department. It’s sad because we were expecting something better and entertaining from the famed Shankar. If you want to watch any recent movie that is far better than Nanban, I suggest instead you watch Porali – starring M. Sasikumar.

Reviews Outsourced

(Image source: http://fabe-lous.blogspot.com)

I started blogging in 2005 – it seems to be “in” thing back then

I started blogging mainly because I wanted an avenue to put my thoughts in writing and improve on my mastery of English (I am still trying). And along the way, I have picked something on presentation, html and coding. Blogging also became a mean of communication between me and my wife when I had to travel overseas.

Then one day, I took a step back and had a hard look at my blog. Surely it was not a specialized blog – it had too many things in it, often driven by my mood, news of the day or simply, the country I was in. I often bring along my camera wherever I go and over the years, my photo collection has been growing too. I have put up some of the photos in the main blog but often it is presented as the “side story” and in smaller resolutions. I had to have a dedicated site for the photos. So, a year later my photo blog was born. It was going great for sometime – yes it has been sometime since I last update it but at least, my blogging on photos will be focused on dedicated site instead of cluttering in my already multi-themed posts main blog.

And over the years, a few more blogs have born (some remains stagnant now) – mainly because I wanted to write on certain things but I do not want it to be mixed up in my main blog posts.

Since I need to travel often and sometimes I end up going to places where there is no entertainment or cable TV (or beer), I often had to bring my own “entertainment” to keep my sanity up (it is either that or bring along a captivating computer games). And traveling also means I spend most of my free time watching movies – mostly via cable TV or when that is not possible, from cheap DVDs and movie files. It is one of the best ways to kill time – watching a good movie is almost as good as reading a good book, almost. And in the last few months, I have noticed that my collection of music, movies, documentaries and animations have been slowly growing too. And it is easier these days to transport it from a “space hungry” discs into a small file that can be stored away in an external hard disc instead of in a cabinet.

And out of the many, on the contrary I have done a very few reviews in my main blog. Reasons for this is rather simple – 1. There is already less time for me to do write-ups for more critical issues (like this) for the main blog, what more on posts on a lesser critical posts like movie reviews, and 2. While I like the diversity in my blog posts, given the number of the movie I watched during my free time, I do not want the main blog to be dominated by movie reviews alone.

Clearly I was running behind on my reviews especially when there are some unknown movies simply that blow you away. But faced with the same dilemma that I had with my photos, I don’t want to have too many movie reviews to clog up my main blog, it was clear that I need to “outsource” again – this time to a dedicated site for English movie reviews (includes others like documentaries, animations and concerts) and another for Tamil movie reviews.

To kick things up, head over here for review on the movie Buried (2010) and here for review on Tamil movie Vaanam (2011)

I hope to do up more reviews soon, now that there is a better place to do up the reviews as compared to previous time and also to distract the focus from the headache that one had when had to content with the issues facing the country and the future generation. And with an unexpected “break” in my daily routines this month, it gives good opportunity to catch up my previous “should have done, should have watched” reviews. Comments and suggestions on the review sites are always welcomed, of course.

Movie Review: The Next Three Days

(Poster source: http://dischordmusic.blogspot.com)

If you are looking out for a good movie to watch, remember this name – Paul Haggis

The twice Oscar award winning screenwriter & director has done it again with “The Next Three Days” (TNTD) and if you thought “Crash” was damn good, it gets even better in this movie.

The summarized synopsis is as follows:-

Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is convicted of murdering her boss after an altercation at work. Following the failure of her appeal, Lara’s husband John Brennan (Russell Crowe), a professor at a community college, becomes obsessed with the idea of breaking her out of jail after attempts for appeal looked bleak, while their son Luke ceases to acknowledge her during their prison visits.

John consults Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson), a former convict who successfully escaped from prison seven times. Damon advises John to study the prison, saying “every prison has a key”.

John contemplates several ideas that don’t pan out and is defeated more than once, but latches onto a solid plan and the necessary paperwork after some painful efforts. John falsifies and plants blood work results indicating that his wife is in a state of hyperkalemia, and she is transferred to the hospital. He follows the ambulance and helps her to escape although she is doubtful and reluctant, motivated only by the idea of her son being without either parent.

With the police getting some lucky breaks, they are hot on John and Lara’s trail through a series of chases. At the end of the film, the family is safe in Venezuela. It is also revealed that Lara is indeed innocent.

(Source)

The movie itself is a remake of a 2008 French film titled “Pour Elle”. In essence, the movie is about a husband getting his innocent wife out from jail and keeping the family close – a welcome depart from the usual story of “former special forces” convicts making the break from some high security lock down.

Paul Haggis however narrates it in a rather interesting manner – it starts with the fact that Lara Brennan is having problems with her boss. Lara finds blood on her jacket and the next thing the family knows, the police barges in and arrests her for the charge of murder. At first, the family tries to go by the legal way by filing appeals to overturn the conviction but nothing worked to an extent, Lara tries to commit suicide. It is then, John Brennan (excellently played by Russell Crowe) knows that there is only one thing to do – he needs to break his wife from jail. And this is where the story really starts.

How John Brennan plans and finally executes his plan to get his wife from jail is brilliantly shown in this movie. Paul Haggis was careful, not to rush on things and tells the story on a rather proper pace – from John Brennan doing up his research and trying rather clumsily, failed in his earlier attempts to finally turning out to be professional and precision in his execution, down to the very last second of the plan.

Small things in story telling certainly make big impact and you need to keep an eye for these small things such as:-

1. John Brennan almost getting caught trying to open a door using tips he picked up from the internet but maintains his cool when the authorities question him and immediately as he comes out of the building, go to the side and start vomiting.

2. The prison chief questioning John Brennan and he knows that John Brennan is lying and he tells John Brennan that having both parents in prison is not going to help their son and waits for John Brennan’s reaction. The prison chief finally lets him go.

3. Within minutes to spare to get their son from the zoo, John Brennan decides to take the other route to avoid road blocks, whilst promising his wife that he will try to get their son somehow, not realizing that his wife had opened the door and decided to jump out from the moving car, causing near misses. After managing to stop by the road side, both John Brennan and his wife sit down to catch up on their breath before heading back to the zoo to get their son.

4. The way John Brennan throws the police off guard on whether they might to heading is brilliant – you have to see it to believe. At first, we too lead to think that the plan on the way is John Brennan’s main plan but in the end, that plan tells two different story.

5. John Brennan’s aged father discovering airplane tickets for 3 the night before John Brennan plans to break out his wife from the prison. He knows that he is going to see his son and his grandson for the last time but keeps the secret to himself, not letting his wife know about it. The next morning, John Brennan and his father look at each other – you can see it in their eyes that they know this is the end

6. John Brennan unable to raise enough money in time decides to rob a couple of drug dealers, almost getting killed in the process. The house get burned down and John Brennan managed pull out one of the younger drug dealer who been shot by his own friend and as he drives out with this dying man, all you hear is the cries of pain and then it becomes silent.

Deeply entrenched in this “husband breaks wife from prison and escapes” is a story of a husband still believing in his wife despite the odds and his wife’s lost of faith that things will get better. There is also a story of a father who wants to keep his family intact and as one. There is also a story of a mother losing her communication with her young son who had become distanced after she was arrested.

Similar in the movie “Crash”, Paul Haggis managed to inter-twine the sub-stories into one seamless movie. Russell Crowe who won best actor award in the Oscars for the movie Gladiator is at the very best here. He is just a simple school teacher who drives a hybrid car to work (which also caused some confusion when the police start investigation and wonders jokingly which hard-core criminal is environment conscious). He is not good with fights, often on edge of desperation and simply one of us.

A worthy movie for year 2010…

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Tamil Movie Review – Yuddham Sei

This was one of the most waited movies in my list for 2011!

(One of the best scenes in the movie – Cheran facing off the criminals with just a small knife on a bridge. One to one and almost immediate – no stupid scenes like one hero flying or punching 20 guys at one go.  Image source: Indiaglitz)

Sometimes, we can determine a good movie upfront by seeing who is the director of the movie – throw some names like Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and in Tamil movie scene, Shankar (although he screwed up his last movie), Mani Ratnam, Gautham Menon and many more up into the air and you can be assured that you going to see a movie that is not only entertaining but well made and with the right storyline.

One such director that have been consistently been churning out “must watch” Tamil movies in recent times is Mysskin. In the last 5 years, he only made 4 movies – Chithiram Pesuthadi in 2006 (still remember the “fish” song?), then one of the best, Anjathey in 2008 and did one personal movie for himself titled Nandhalala in 2010 and now we have Yuddham Sei in 2011.

There is a good reason why Yuddham Sei is also known as Anjathey 2 – quality and well-directed storyline continue to ooze from Mysskin’s magical hands.

The synopsis

From Wikipedia:-

The film starts with a brooding CB-CID officer J.K. who is worried about his missing sister. His senior officer promises J.K. that he can take up his sister’s case after he solves another one, so J.K. agrees. Amputated male arms are packed in cartons and left in public places. J.K. suspects that they are done so deliberately, as a message to the police. Based on identification from families of missing persons, they find that the arms belong to Raja Manikam, Moorthy et cetera. By triangulating the co-ordinates they find a lead in this case.

Durai Pandi is a leading textile shop owner who was beaten and insulted in public and handed over to the police after it was found that he had used a peephole to look into the dressing room for women. He is caught by the victim Suja’s family, who are totally shattered by this incident. The inspector in-charge of this case is Isakki Muthu. Later, Durai Pandi’s manager surrenders to the police accepting the charge of the crime, and thus clearing Durai Pandi’s name.

Later, Suja’s father Dr. Purushothaman was arrested on charges of bribery, and later released. A sex affair complaint was lodged against Dr. Purushothaman’s wife. These events shatter the family, and they suicide by setting themselves on fire. But Suja is still missing, so J.K. decides to reopen Dr. Purushothaman’s case.

Read further here

(There is “dirt” in this police station – Cheran facing off a dirty cop who is part of the criminal gang involved in the kidnapping of young girls. Image source: Indiaglitz)

The storyline

Very similar with Anjathey with a little twist here and there but the ending was something that was not expected. Many slammed Mysskin for using similar plot with Anjathey for this movie. Yes, admittedly it is indeed similar but what is more important is how it is presented to the audience – in the past, we have seen remakes of older movies but not all turned out to be well). In that sense, Mysskin maintains his grip on quality and good story-telling to be better or in par with Anjathey.

So, what we have in Yuddham Sei? In this movie, there are 4 groups of characters with 4 subplots twisted together as one big plot in this movie and it was well presented by Mysskin:-

1. There is the story of a brother looking for his missing sister – JK, the main character well played by Cheran is a police detective who had to content with investigating gruesome murders in the city whilst investigating the disappearance of his sister (In Anjathey, Sathyanathan investigates the kidnapping of young girls whilst had to content with his good friend turning to the “dark side” of life)

2. There is the story of the police who seems to be at loss with finding of human parts in a box, left in the public areas around the city. Mysskin was careful to show the details of the police investigations, the frustrations and the pressure from the police chief and politicians and the public to get the people who been cutting up the victims (Same thing in Anjathey – one of the best scenes there was when Sathyanathan asks the IGP to investigate when he was asked to get out from the room. In Yuddham Sei, IGP is a much cooler head than in Anjathey but no less, keeps up the pressure on his men to solve the case fast)

3. There is the story of a criminal gang who kidnaps young women for sexual purposes and portrays the act to a group of old wealthy men who pay good money (Similar in Anjathey where young girls get kidnapped for ransom)

And then

4. There is the dark story of revenge – something that is not noticed until it is explained in the second part of the story. Revenge is indeed sweet.

The camera angle

Similarly in Anjathey, camera angle of the various scenes remains perfectly executed. Sathya handled the camera but you can feel Mysskin’s artistry all over the place. Scenes like the back shot of JK as he is pondering his next move as he in a vehicle traveling towards for a police operation, the fight scene at the over head bridge – one of the fights is shown upside with the criminal shown running in the background, the dead girl lying on the dining table surrounded by her family members and of course, the classic  trademark ground level shots.

Creative camera shots making story telling even more compelling – coupled with well timed background music and that gives a whole new meaning to thrillers.

(I love the camera angles in this movie – Cheran sitting down at the spot where his sister was kidnapped, contemplating on how to find her. Image source: Indiaglitz)

The acting

The key person in this story is Cheran – we all have seen his fine acting (and direction) in Autograph and Thavamai Thavamirundhu but this is first time, we are seeing him in the role of a policeman, out to solve 2 cases at the same time. Acting is fine but perhaps we are seeing Cheran in a totally new role, initially we are unable to erase Cheran from his other roles that he had played in the past but as the movie picks up pace, we start to believe that Cheran is one tough cop and he is just one of us when faced with tough calls.

Another twist in the line of actors in this movie is YG. Mahendra – the actor from the often played funny roles in movies in 1980s and lately involved in TV serials. Lakshmi Ramakrishnan who plays his wife in this movie excels as well in her role.

The music

Background music in Yuddham Sei picks where Anjathey had left off – not much song scenes but plenty of heart-stopping background music for the tense moments in the movie. Mysskin seems to favor violin based music – we found it in Anjathey and  we loved it alot and now we can find it in abundant in Yuddham Sei. I managed to get hold of Yuddham Sei’s soundtrack – the music alone is worth listening on its own.

Final say

The plus points: The direction (It’s Mysskin man, what else you need?), camera work, music and acting (Cheran did one fine work here)

The negative points: The storyline (Damn! It looks identical to Anjathey but it highly, highly acceptable)

Tamil Movie Review: Enthiran

I know, I know…this review is more than a month old late!

(I know there was trouble when I saw a “Borg cube” at the opening credit of the movie. Poster source: Wikipedia)

Before I start with the review, let me tell you upfront that we have been duped, major time, by Shankar and the studio marketers (ya, they did a good job with that) with the whole hype before the movie was released. I keep asking myself – is this the movie that Shankar been thinking for the last 10 years of doing ? The movie that now holds the title as the most expensive Indian movie to be made (approximately USD40 million) and unbelievably the second highest grossing Indian movie of all time (thank God, 3 Idiots are still holding the top place to save grace).

My son have been asking me to take him to see the movie even before the movie was released in Malaysia (he have seen the trailers and he knows who is Rajini). I told him to do well in the exams and I promised to take him to see the movie (I would have taken him no matter what the exam results was but I wanted to buy time and I had to fly overseas for some work). So when I came back, he reminded me (and he got good marks in the exam) and I immediately book our seats on an almost empty cinema hall. Good thing was I went to see it after the ticket price got cheaper and I did not had to tussle with others for a good seat.

(The place where the song Kadhal Anukal was shot – the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Couple the background with great music and you have magic moments in a movie. Image source: http://www.touristspots.org)

The Good

So, let me quickly tell you upfront what is good about this movie:-

1. Art and background during song scenes – the best is for the movie, Kilimanjaro. Good use of the Mayan era costumes and beautiful dancers. The picturisation of the opening song, Kadhal Anukal is also good – deserts with crystal blue patches of water (damn, where did they find these places?).

2. Music – As usual, I hated AR Rahman’s music at the beginning but listen to it a couple of times, it ends as your top of list music for your MP3 player. There are plenty of techno like and scientific kind of lyrics to put the music closer to the theme of the movie. You need patience and time to listen to AR Rahman music, otherwise you will hate them the first time you listen to it. My top pick – Kadhal Anukal, Kilimanjaro and Arima Arima (good use of marching drums and Ash looks stunning in pink).

3. CGI – Seeing many “Mat Salleh” names on the opening credit was not a big surprise. Hollywood technicians are at a class of their own with CGIs and SFXs. The last fight by Chitti 2.0 was a good, a bit over done but refreshing one (why didn’t those robots in Will Smith’s I, Robot did not think of that when wanted to defend themselves from the human).

4. Ash & Rajini – a colleague of mind said that it is like the “Beauty and the Beast” but seeing it in the cinema and despite Rajini is old and Ash is an ex-Miss World, there is certain chemistry between the two. Rajini (thanks to skilled make up artists) looks young and good. Ash is able to conquer the scenes with her own beauty. Rajini acted well for both the parts of Dr Vaseegaran and Chitti – no wonder he is called the Super Star. Chitti 2.0 is the best character in the whole movie.

5. Fight scene in the train – with such a confined area and too many “baddies”, stunt masters Peter Hein, Yuen Woo Ping and Alex Martin pulled it off rather beautifully. It reminded me of the epic fight between Neo and many of the rouge formerly known as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy.

(Chitti 2.0 is evil but it was my favorite – Rajini acted the character almost flawlessly. Image source: www.indiaglitz.com/tamil/)

The Bad & Ugly

End of good things, now, let’s talk about the bad things of this movie:-

1. Logic of storyline – The biggest letdown in Shankar’s Enthiran and it shows bare chested after the second half of the movie (as if Shankar spent all those years – 10 years – only thinking about the first half, got lost thinking about the second half and decided to fall back to the typical Bollywood kind of story telling).

In fact, IMDB quote “however, in October 2007,  Khan commented that the script was “half-baked” and “dull” in comparison to his other films at the time” and one review website said “Shankar’s obsession with visual creativity overtakes logic and reason to the point that towards the end, the extravaganza on screen totally stops making sense”whilst another says “the climax is definitely a sure-fire way to lose your sanity”.

Let me illustrate couple of examples:-

a. When Chitti kidnaps Sana and that got the whole of TPD (yeah, the Tamil Police Department) coming after them with all it’s might. I was surprised when I noticed that the TPD starts shooting at the car that Chitti and Sana is in. Countless of bullet holes on the car (and it is a convertible and is not a bullet proof car) and nothing happens to Sana (forget about Chitti, he may have internal body armor but Sana?).

b. When a clone of Chitti hijacks a oil tanker and is running away from TPD, the commander will ask the rest to fall back, stating that it will be dealt by the Coast Guard. At that point, I had expected a heavily armored gunship to appear at the scene but once again, Shankar decided to make a fool of himself – a lonely civilian helicopter with a missile launched (hello friend, I don’t see any missile launcher on the helicopter!)

c. One man show – the hero and the villain who work on their respective robot projects is doing on their own (never mind the 2 idiotic assistants that Dr Vaseegaran has in his lab – they look more like the tea boy and the toilet washer to me). Now compare to the real work by real scientists– almost everyone works as team and to build a humanoid that is almost talks and acts like a human, you going to need an army of scientists with many different skills and specialties (even in Dasavathaaram, Kamal is working with a big team on the killer virus in a proper lab). No, I guess since it is a Bollywood movie; the Super Star can do everything by himself.

d. Army evaluation. I am pretty sure that when the Army want to test a new weapon or something that can kill the enemy, they will make sure it is tested in a proper lab or in a proper testing ground and with the evaluators and the top Generals far away from the test grounds. Not in Shankar’s Enthiran! Top generals sits right in front of Chitti who is sitting in front of a table full of weapons and the whole testing is done in an army training camp with new recruits in the background. What happens if Chitti goes haywire (it did once when it tried to kill the maker) and decides to throw a grenade towards the generals or the new recruits, just for fun?

e. The mayhem in the end where it seems the whole police and military in Tamil Nadu is trying to take out one crazy robot. Where is the tactics, man? In the movie, Shankar gets the men in arms to surround the Chitti clones and starts shooting at it. Then Shankar decides to be “brilliant” – he gets 2 gunships (finally a proper gunship helicopters!) and starts them to shoot down – right at where the police and the army on the grounds are busy fighting. I predicted half of the men dead on the ground was killed by the gunship  helicopter. It is obvious that  Shankar need to watch more of Hollywood’s war movies to understand how the military really operates. They operate on well defined tactics and proper teamwork.

2. Unnecessary scenes – instead of giving an intense film and keep us engrossed, Shankar fills up with unnecessary scenes – perhaps he did not know what to do. The scene involving the mosquitoes and Chitti 1.0 is one good example. Another is where Sana tries to make her boyfriend jealous and distracted by trying to make friend with a drunken villager.

3. Where is the underlying story? One good thing I liked on Shankar’s past movies has been the call for Indians to be better and make India a better place – evident in Anniyan and Mudhalvan which deals with corruption and dirty politics. But here in Enthiran, Dr Vaseegaran spends 10 years of his research on a robot for the Army – a weapon of mass destruction as we see later in the climax but that’s about it. When his mentor, Dr Bohra rejects the application by Dr Vaseegaran for the very fact that Chitti goes haywire (defies the 3 laws of robotics – made famous in I, Robot) and tries to kill Dr Vaseegaran, surprisingly Dr Vaseegaran gets upsets and protests profusely (you mean Dr Vaseegaran rather be dead than get his application rejected? What is the underlying message by Shankar here?)

(Clones of Chitti 2.0 charging up – Enthiran was no doubt ground breaking but Shankar had to go and messed up the storyline. Image source: http://www.southdreamz.com)

Final say

The plus points: Music & picturisation, Chitti 2.0 and camera work

The negative points: Storyline that defies logic

(Click here for other movie reviews)

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Tamil Movie Review: Pasanga

(The main characters in the movie – Image source: http://nowrunning.com)

I used to hate Tamil movies…

Ya, they had great music and if you throw in Sivaji Ganesan and Kamalahasan, great acting too but one thing I hated the most was the storyline. There is no logic explanation on how one hero can take on 20 or so armed gangsters and still come out alive or how a very beautiful girl from a very rich family loves a hardcore gangster from the slum on the very first day.

But in recent times, Tamil movie makers seems to have rediscovered something that been missing for a long time now in the industry – a sensible and logic storyline – a point that was well made when I saw Pandiraj directed, Sasikumar produced, award winning Pasanga. That movie simply blew me away with its simplicity and one of the best storyline involving children.

The Plot

The story starts with a group of men going to the police station to complain about 3 young boys who been creating havoc in their village. One of them, Jeeva is also the son of a strict teacher in the local school, Nithyanandam. Life becomes a nightmare for Jeeva when Anbu’s father (Anbu is the hero in this movie) decided to move out from their old village and moves to the house opposite of Nithyanandam’s house.

On the very first day, Anbu gets into a fight with Jeeva who earlier had intended to bully Anbu. Anbu finds himself in the same class with Jeeva and where the teacher is none other Nithyanandam. Anbu who is kind hearted, strive to befriend Jeeva but Jeeva, angry with Anbu’s success just wanted to get even with Anbu (how he does it is funny too). Without realizing the impact of the fight with Anbu, Jeeva slowly changes – he started to dress well and improves on his studies (with intent to outsmart Anbu in studies), to much delight of his father / teacher, Nithyanandam. However, the fight between Anbu and Jeeva eventually spills over to a fight between the two families with Jeeva’s father intend in chasing away Anbu’s family from the rented house facing his house.

Interwined with the main story of Anbu & Jeeva, is 2 other stories – Anbu’s uncle relationship with Jeeva’s elder sister and the fight between Anbu’s parents. The turning point comes when Anbu’s parents fight gets worse and Anbu’s mother asks for a divorce. The fight is overheard by Jeeva who spreads it at school; with intend to embarrass Anbu to the maximum. Both Jeeva’s and Anbu’s fathers decided to talk things over and things starts to improve for both family (Anbu’s uncle even gets engaged with Jeeva’s elder sister) but the fight between Anbu and Jeeva did not let down until Anbu meets with a tragic accident.

Storyline

The story is pretty simple – it is nothing that we are not unfamiliar with in real life (and movies) but at the end of the day, what we need to ask is whether there is a lesson to be learned after watching the movie. Yes, movies are nothing but a mode of entertainment but if it is packed with the right message, movies can be a very powerful medium for betterment of life.

Acting

On the onset, the premise has been set that the main characters in this movie would be the children. The adults in the movie play the supporting role. And despite having a heavy role to play, the children excelled in their acting, so much so you would think that there is a real fight between Anbu and Jeeva.

One of the interesting things that were portrayed in this movie is the children’s imagination. Anbu imagine himself as a self-defence expert, someone driving a car or as someone who is riding a brand new motorcycle. I still recall myself imagining driving a bus (Toong Fong bus in particular) when I was still small and was staying in my grandma’s house.

[youtube = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaSPnCIFCWg]

Music

My pick – Anbaale Azhagagum Veedu (sang by veteran singer, Dr. Balamuralikrishna) is simply brilliant – both in lyrics and in picturisation. It comes in after Anbu’s parents reconciled and things started to get better for both Anbu and Jeeva (other than their fight, of course).

One of the heartening moments in the song is where Anbu’s father would be outside a shop and sees his son running to the school, imagining that he is riding a motorbike. Anbu’s father decides to buy a bicycle for Anbu, making his wish to come true and making him in par with Jeeva who already had bicycle and been teasing Anbu on this.

The background music especially the violin is well deployed at the right time – like when Anbu is being teased in the classroom by Jeeva on the fight between Anbu’s father and mother – we share the pain faced by Anbu.

Final say

The plus points: Storyline, acting and music (especially the main song)

The negative points: The love scenes between Anbu’s uncle and Jeeva’s elder sister should have been kept to the minimum

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Movie Review: Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year

(Downright honest salesman – you can see it in his face but the reality of things is that it is a dog eating dog world out there. Can Harpreet and his no nonsense company can make the cut? Image source: Passionforcinema)

Indiaglitz reports it as “uplifting and brilliantly performed”!

Along with the excellent 3 Idiots, this movie is another MUST have in your Hindi movie collections. The premise is so simple and yet brilliantly executed. I first saw this movie when I was cruising at 30,000 feet and at first dismissed it as boring but as the story started to develop, I thank God for keeping me to continue to watch the movie. Otherwise I would have missed one heck of a movie which has interesting lessons intertwined within.

It is a story of a salesman and since the day, I was confronted during my lunch time with tired looking street salesman with a huge bag at his back, trying to sell me a teddy bear for RM10, I have always respected salesman. Especially those who try to sell items that no many people want to buy (like nose hair clipper) or already have (I pity those Astro promoters).

Life as a salesman is not easy – I can see it on a daily basis on my friends from the marketing department and I only have the highest respect for them as I see them struggling to close a deal.

(At ease at work! D Santosh plays the highly experienced technician who spends most of his working life watching photos of women in bikinis on his computer but the first to be Harpreet’s partner in his new company – Rocket Sales Corporation. Image source: Indiaglitz)

The Storyline

The plot from Wikipedia:-

Ranbir plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, a B Com graduate with approx 39 percent marks who becomes a salesman with a corporate computer assembly & service giants. His idealistic vision of the working world shatters quickly. Within a few days of working, a client asks for a kick-back. Harpreet is aghast and files a complaint.

But his honesty only brings him a demotion and humiliation. Determined to do it his way, Harpreet forms his own company within the company. Other disgruntled employees also find their way to Rocket Sales – a place where even the chaiwallah is an equal partner because he brings talent to the table.

Harpreet and his band of rebels show us that eventually honesty and hard work is a sound business decision.

What I like about the movie is the storyline – it is reflect the actual things that happen in the life of a salesman. Ranbir Kapoor who plays Harpreet Singh starts off as a trainee salesman in AYS with high hopes. But when he finds out that one of the high ranking officer from client’s office ask about his “percentage” from the whole deal, Harpreet goes and do the worse thing possible – files an official complaint on the officer using AYS’s letterhead.

Deeply humiliated by his bosses who were not amused with the complaint and his co-workers who not happy of the sudden increased in sales target, Harpreet had a hard time juggling his options between quitting his job (as pressed by his good friends) and staying and proving that he too is a good salesman. Adding more to the stressful life, Harpreet  is also confronted by his father who ask him to be honest in whatever he do.

(Simply ruthless! The unfriendly co-workers at AYS who pressed to meet their monthly sales target by any means possible, gets upset when Harpreet’s actions causes their sales target to increase substantially. Image source: Indiaglitz)

A stroke of luck – thanks to a frustrated receptionist, Harpreet gets a break and he immediately noticed AYS selling the hardware for very high price and fails to do proper after sales service. He comes with a company on his own (Rocket Sales Corporation) that handles sales and service with a help of a few “partners”. Rocket Sales conduct business with its customers as honest as possible and without any bribery or commission paid.

AYS does it the other way around and soon AYS profit margin comes down drastically and AYS’ big boss, Sunil Puri is loss on how an unknown company can grab a big chunk of his customers. How Harpreet managed to get Rocket Sales up and how Sunil Puri tries his best to know who is Rocket Sales is brilliantly told, keeping the viewers on the edge.

The shortcomings

Shimit Amin who earlier directed Shah Rukh Khan’s Chakde India has worked a great storyline in the movie but the movie is not without its fault. The obvious one is the pace of the movie – it was way too slow in the beginning that I dismissed it as a very boring movie.

NDTV Movies reports:-

But the trouble with Rocket Singh is that it never engages you fully. The first half is especially slow but even in the second; the film doesn’t grab you by the gut.

There are long stretches in which the restrained story-telling becomes indulgent and topples over into sheer boredom. And there are several moments at which you wonder if this is more information about salesmen and their difficult lives than you ever needed.

Shimit Amin also fails to capitalize the gist of the story to the maximum – the story of the salesman. Whatever that was shown in the movie has its own great potentials – the first part talks about the difficulty of being a honest salesman, the second part talks about how a honest salesman have an edge over slimy, dishonest businessman.

The ingredients are all there but Shimit Amin failed to put it in the right portion. The edge that Rocket Sales has over AYS is shown but it was way too brief. Perhaps a tense moment between Harpreet (as a Rocket partner) and a corrupt manager could have been shown to show the difference from the time Harpreet encountered it as an AYS trainee.

(The beauty at the front! The receptionist cum aspirant office manager helps Harpreet with his first break at sales and subsequently becomes Rocket Sales’ third partner. Image source: Indiaglitz)

The characters

The character of the partners under AYS and Rocket Sales is shown but once again in brief and in the wrong portion. It was poorly developed.

We know in great detail of Harpreet (the main character in this movie), a bit more of Girish Reddy (played by D Santhosh) who waste time watching photos of girls on his PC and who does not sleep at night (he sleeps in the office during working hours), Nitin Rathore (played by Naveen Kaushik) who is the sales manager and who is ruthless with his competitors (and his sales people) and who skills is shown at the beginning of the movie (he checks the notice board for the latest story in the client’s office and can read the quote upside down), Chhotelal Mishra (played by Mukesh Bhatt) who is a humble tea-boy in the office but experienced PC assembler (trained by Girish who have no time to do real work and often ask Chhotelal to do his work) and Koena Sheikh (played by the beautiful Gauhar Khan), the receptionist who been taking care of the office hoping to be promoted as the office manager until she was played out by the management.

(Manish Chaudhary as the big boss, Sunil Puri who calls Harpreet the biggest zero in his company and humiliates him like nobody’s business in front of a customer. Note Harpreet’s face – unable to defend himself or saying anything as the person who humiliates him is unfortunately is his own big boss. Image source: Indiaglitz)

The “villain” in the movie would be Sunil Puri (coldly played by Manish Chaudhary) and he shows just how screwed a businessman he really is when he managed to found out about Rocket Sales and goes in for the killing rather cunningly. The man is obsessed in making the most profit and is willing to do anything to grab the deal but in the end, humbled by a new sales trainee.

The music

Unlike other Hindi movies, songs are kept to the very minimum and thank god, there are no songs with 20 background dancers and shot in exotic places. No, this movie will not have such non-sense – it is direct to the point on the actual story and character.

Final say

The plus points: Refreshing storyline, realism, interesting characters

The negative points: Gaps in the storyline, characters poorly developed, lost of opportunity

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World War 2 Movies: The Most Memorable Movies I Ever Seen

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(The last major war around the world at the same time was the World War 2 that happened between 1939 to 1945. For most of us who were not born then, we can understand the ultimate sacrifices that many gave from some of best movies ever made on this subject. Image source: http://www.buchanan.org)

World War 2 was the last major conflict that we have faced and we all dread the start of World War 3 (which could mean end of mankind or worse, the planet earth).

I like history and I have collection of books and magazines on the subject at home but nothing portrays the event better than seeing them on movies. Over the years, we have been “bombarded” with many types of war movies and mini-series ranging from ancient wars (like “300” and “Braveheart”), World Wars (both 1 & 2), Vietnam Wars (still remember “Platoon”, “Full Metal Jacket” or “Apocalypse Now”?) and all the way to galactic war in a galaxy, far, far away (my favourite – “Star Wars”)

If you are looking for World War 2 movies for your collection, I strongly recommend these (in no particular order):-

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Tamil Movie Review: Raavanan

(The poster looks impressive and the trailer somehow entices us to go to the cinema and get the whole “picture” but that is about it. Poster source: Wikipedia)

This has to be one of the most anticipated Tamil movies for the year but there is a big problem…

The problem is, despite having plenty of stars in it (Vikram, the beautiful Aishwarya Rai, Prithviraj, Prabhu and “good to see again” Karthik) and music by an Oscar winner, AR Rahman, the movie is directed by Mani Ratnam. That is biggest problem with this movie.

Everyone knows that when Mani Ratnam sits on the director’s seat, the movie is going to be very technical. Just look at his previous movies – Roja, Dil Se, Yuva, Kannathil Muthamittal and Guru and you will realised that having a good plot is secondary in priority for Mani Ratnam (although there are some exceptions like Mouna Ragam and Thalapathi). For this very reason, I was not keen to watch his latest movie – Raavanan (Toy Story 3 looked even more promising).

Despite the name, it is not a remake of the ancient story of Raavanan – the bad guy who kidnapped the wife of the policeman turns out to be a hero sort of and the good guy, the policeman is actually no angel either.

Simple plot – bad guy kidnaps the wife of policeman, policeman goes after the bad guy, wife learns about the bad guy, the bad guy dies in the end. That is pretty much all we have to say about the plot. But what makes a Mani Ratnam movies stand out is how he makes the other things looking brilliant – the location, the background, the acting expressions, music and scenes.

(Hey, forget about the 2 characters and the story – just look at the background – Mani Ratnam seems to say. Image source: Indiaglitz)

OneIndia reports:-

Mani Ratnam, one of the film maker, who enjoys the top spot from three decades in Indian cinema, has disappointed the neutral viewers with his newly released film Raavanan. Yes, comparing with his previous Blockbusters like Thalapathy, Nayakan and Mouna Ragam, this modern Raavanan is no where and a boring experience!

It seems that the director has completely lost his midas touch and just presented the film with excellent Indian aquatic and forest locations like a documentary video of ‘Incredible India campaign’!

In fact there is no perfect story in the film. It looks like Mani has just collected all the news paper cuttings and made his script. It seems that he has simply copied the outlines of the epic Raamayan and mixed it with the modern day Robinhood Veerappan’s story.

IndiaGlitz on the other hand reports:-

‘Raavanan’ is for those who appreciate quality cinema ingredients. Director’s touch, camera, art, etc are prominent yet something is missing. Don’t look for the plot; it is quite obvious (from the trailers).

Watch it for Mani Ratnam’s direction expertise, Vikram’s performance, Aishwarya’s beauty and the beautiful locations!

This was branded Mani’s best movie by a few but on second thought, the master’s best is yet to come.

As I said, he makes very good technical movies and Raavanan is no exception to this. But then again, does it means making a very technical movie means one cannot have a very good plot? For some die-hard Mani Ratnam fans, the answer may be an affirmative yes but I beg to differ. Anjathey is also a technical movie but is also backed by one superb plot making it one neat package.

It is difficult for ordinary movie goers (like me) to judge plot-less technical movies – they can come to watch the movie, cuci-mata watching the actresses (or actors), listen to “sometimes technical as well” AR Rahman music and then go back looking like they are missing something. Unless you are student, learning the fine aspect of movie making, you may not be able to appreciate this latest offering by Mani Ratnam.

Final say

The plus points: Good enough to be used as teaching material for future movie makers

The negative points: Don’t bother to look for a story in this movie – there is almost none

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