Saturday, May 18, 2019

THE PIANIST (2002) - ENGLISH

A great film on a World War Two jew survivor and not someone who is a hero or a fighter and that is unique in itself and the best thing about the film. It's as real as it could get.

The Pianist is based on the book by the same name written by 'Wladyslaw Szpilman'. Szpilman is a Polish Jew who is a Pianist in Warsaw and this film is about his survival. He survived through his own instincts, luck and stoicism and this film just showcase the same, it does not dramatize and we witness what Poland went through from 1939 to 1945.

The film does not have any urgency and takes its own time and that for me is the point about this film. I like films that take space and time to set things up. The establishment of the protagonist as the finest Pianist in Poland, the announcement of World War Two and the inhuman nature of the German Soldiers towards Jews, it's done and setup taking a considerable amount of time before the survivor story kicks in and gives us few lumps in the throat and goosebumps.

When I first watched this film, it left an indelible mark on me and even as I revisited this recently, it still feels fresh and left the same impression as it did in the first viewing. Thanks to the writing of 'Szpilman' and the screenplay by 'Ronald Harwood' there is hardly a dull moment in the film.

The acting by each and everyone is impeccable and for his acting as 'Szpilman', 'Adrien Brody' was deservingly awarded the Academy Award (Oscar). The technical departments like the Art Direction, the Sound and the casting are all pitch perfect and they transcend us flawlessly to the times of war and transport us to Warsaw.

One of my personal favorites is the usage of music and the one scene where the movement of fingers (without touching piano) is shot with Piano music playing in the background stood apart and that heart-rending scene won me over.

A 5/5 for this. Can't rate it any less a must watch for many generations to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

STREE (2018) - HINDI

A rustic film that thrills more than horrifies.

I was happy by the end of the film, despite few illogical aspects and the existence of a devil. I was pleased to see an film set in the country side and has those characters itself. There is no camouflage and it's all given to us as it is. In villages or in rural India, there are many stories like 'Stree' being told but to bring it to the screens without much drama is a commendable effort.

Rajkumar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor did their roles well and so did all the supporting cast. Looks like the whole cast is on top of their game. The role that stood out was Pankaj Tripathi as Rudra. He brought out the original flavor of the central India and the dialect, his body language and his appearance enhanced his character and the whole film in a big way. The film comes into it's own since Rudra entered and each time he is thereon screen, a bone is tickled

The originality comes from the fact that a folklore story has been depicted without much frills and drama and in the end there is ambiguity. The only aspect of concern was the length, few moments in the second half were unnecessary I felt. It's a horror comedy that resembles the rural India in it's own fears and scares.

The camera and sound departments did wonderfully well to provide the eerie atmosphere needed for this film. The setting in Madhya Pradesh and the shoot-on-location helped a lot. The locations, the people, the environment seemed authentic adding value to us as a viewer.

This is the second outing for Pankaj Tripathi and Rajkumar Rao together after a wonderful 'Newton' and they seem to have great chemistry on-screen. It's endearing to see so many good actors together.
Despite it's flaws, it's fears and hilarious scares, 'Stree' conveys an important message and that is the icing on the cake.

I liked it when I watched it in theaters and also when I revisited it now. A 3/5 for this.

Friday, December 14, 2018

TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) - ENGLISH

One of the finest opening scenes, a film has ever got. Great from the word go.

This film directed by Orson Welles, need to be watched multiple times to understand the careful scene setup, the camera angles and the intercuts in the screenplay and how the story moves forward by characters. There is action certainly but it gels so well with the plot that it seems very organic and that's the beauty of the construction of the scenes.

The opening scene of 3 minutes that is continuous and shot with very few changes in angles, and just follows the leads is amazingly done. I suppose it's a superlative achievement in the history of cinema itself.

Orson Welles and his cinematographer, Russell Metty, were meticulous in the construction of every scene, the characters and entangled in the shots that resonate the feelings. There is a sense of claustrophobia in the film depicting that the characters are locked in their own emotions. The story although told linearly, it feels like there are scenes in a loop.

The acting and writing are top-notch. Charlton Heston (Of Benhur and Ten Commandments fame) did a terrific job in the film. I felt his performance in this film as Vargas was more accomplished than his other films. (Benhur and Ten Commandments)

The writing is great too, yet to get to the dialogue, it took me 3 viewings till date Yes, the plot is kind of labyrinth and the direction extremely calculated. So, I was engrossed in these aspects more than the story itself.

This is a great work of art and passion for sure. watch it for Orson Welles, his direction and yeah, he indeed acted too and his character of Quinlan is something that I had cherished for all its eccentricities. I am not sure if there is an ever a director who indulges in his own character as much as Orson Welles does.

A 4/5 for this and definitely a great film.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

EVEREST (2015) - ENGLISH

It's about an expedition went wrong, the film went wrong too with a straightforward narration.

Although we need more such films that talk about the perils of tampering with nature, there are hardly any coming out. The so-called disaster movies are mostly about what happens when nature turns against us and this one seems no different and that's the sad part. The predictable screenplay and the no surprise narrative made this film a dull affair despite a terrific cast. 

This had an ensemble cast of Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, and Jake Gyllenhaal and yet their roles were written with less or no substance. Except for the cinematography which captured the grandeur of the Everest well, there is little that struck me. 

The writing is just laborious as if they wanted to make a film straight from the book. A backstory to some characters and the why was this expedition trying to be made commercial, could have been shown more dramatically. The non-dramatic narration did not work with me. 

Although I liked it, I would go back to the Everest made for IMAX in 1998. I saw that Everest in 2006 and I loved it, this Everest pales in comparison. A 2/5 for this.

Friday, November 30, 2018

96 (2018) - TAMIL

A walk down the memory lane with the first love has never been more mature than this.

To be frank, there is nothing that one can strongly dislike, but for me, the WhatsApp chat messages messed up the emotional feeling a bit. The journey overall was nevertheless beautiful.  It's a film that is emotional and drove the emotions pretty well. It's realistic, subtle and keeps the emotions clean. It never messed up once with the feeling and the love between the teenage Ram and Janu seemed genuine.

I was in school in the 90's so I could correlate to this story, although I never had a love story in school. If ever there was one, then perhaps it would be in this way I think. More of the eye and fewer words. The flashback story was beautifully done.

Above all, I loved the character development in the film. The film began with the song, there is no dialogue nothing, just as the titles ended, the film cut into a song where a photographer captures many aspects of nature. The song was beautifully shot and the music is extremely good. That song is named as "The Life of Ram" and even now, I am listening to that song. It will be in playlist forever I think. Also, never did I see the protagonist directly shown as living his profession. It's for the first time I suppose, I have seen a photographer's journey in a film through a song.

The story seemed very much of Ram till the point Janu entered. She owns the story and brings her own perspective. It acted like the perfect foil for the straightforward Ram. Janu even interprets one scene from 2 perspectives and that is also subtly placed. Felt like 'Rashomon for a scene.

Also, the journey they underwent for a night was beautifully captured in a terrific composition 'Thaabangale'. This song too will be in my playlist for a long time. Just hats off to the entire crew to take a normal story and yet make it one of the most memorable ones.

Director Prem Kumar must be credited and applauded heavily for the right cast and content. There are hardly any dull moments in this film, where mostly we here 2 people talking. Such is the strength of the writing that it would be sad if I had not loved what I saw. He succeeded in making me in fall with the film. The only glitch if any is the duration of more than 2.5 hours.

This film will definitely last as a memory in your lifetime. Thanks, everyone who worked especially Ram (Vijay Sethupathi) and Janu (Trisha). A 4/5 for this memorable film. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

CLASSICAL NIGHT WITH BOMBAY JAYASHRI AND ABHISHEK RAGHURAM


DATE : 23rd NOV 2018
VENUE : RAVINDRA BHARATI, HYDERABAD

ARTISTS : 

Bombay Jayashri (vocals) 
Abhishek Raghuram (vocals)
Ravichandra Kulur (flute)
Murad Ali (sarangi)
Praveen D Rao (keys/harmonium) 
Anantha R Krishnan (mridangam)
Ojas Adhiya (tabla)

 Yatra - The jounrey within conceptualised by Carnatic vocalists Bombay Jayashri (my Goddess) and Abhishek Raghuram , travelled through my city of Hyderabad and I was blessed to be witnessing their journey.  It was a concert par excellence, I have Bombay Jayashri's concert in 2013 but this was beyond words. I can never find any words to explain how good I felt while at the concert and even now as I write this blog.

Nonchalant notes on Sarangi began the flow in an enchanting manner. I always thought of Sarangi as a melancholy instrument that set pensive tone but the blend it brought was pitch perfect and Murad Ali was too good with the Sarangi to begin with.

The first song of the concert was  Subramania Bharati’s provocative ‘Enda Neramum Nin Maiyal’ in Shuddh Sarang  and I suppose that the raag had something to do with Sarangi. The lift was beautiful and it set the mood for what was to come through for next hour or so.

The song was followed by Marathi bhajan, ‘Tejonidhi Lohagol’, composed by the late Jitendra Abhisheki.  The raag was Lalit. Although I heard the bhajan few years back, this rendition was beautiful and brought the might of the sun to the stage on a full moon night (Yes it was Karthika Pournima)

Next came a medley of a trinity - excerpts from familiar padams Ososi (raag Mukhari), Panimati (raag Ahiri), Aligite (raag Huseni). The rendition just took the flow to a beautiful place where, I wished, this recital could go on like this. The notes chosen were slow and they highlighted the highs and lows of the compositions perfectly. 

Then came the biggest surprise, the most beautiful surprise I ever heard. Before the surprise was the mellifluous prelude of the flute that set the mood for the joy that would follow. The suprise was 
‘Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma’ composed in a new bottle with raag Nand. It was full of life, bubbling and cheerful. I have heard the composition many a time before but never with such jest and adulation. I felt blessed to have heard this rendition live.  Abhishek Raghuram flirted with the notes beautifully and it felt like a composer was making love with the composition he was flirtfully yet meticlulously rendering notes with all the passion expressed in his voice.

The suprise continued with the blend of spring raag Bahar and monsoon raag Malhar, for the composition of ‘Kamala Vadane’. Although a Carnatic composition, this piece was rendered more in the Hindustani in familiar Adi talam. The flute and the sarangi followed, with the interlued of the harmonium adding it's flavor too. 

This rendition was followed by the paddhati of 'Tani Avartanam', the conquest between the percussionist for a good 10 minutes without any break or pause. Both the percussionists Anantha R Krishnan (mridangam), Ojas Adhiya (tabla) were relentless and also breathtaking sans pause.

To close the concert, 'Krishna nee Begane’ was knitted with Lalgudi Jayaraman’s tillana. and Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s ‘Vande Mataram’ closed the concert. 

And then, came the applause that had been heard many a times all through this great concert and I stood there bowing my head in salutation to the God and Goddess and to the heaven, the stage that has given me divine pleasure. It's a night that I shall never forget. 


What struck you throughout the concert was the singers’ brilliant sruti management, a Herculean effort for performers, especially when one is a male and the other, a female voice. This not only involved vocal adjustments here and there, but also at times, for one to sing in the lower octave in long stretches as the other used the regular pitch. Bombay Jayashri dared to sing long spells in the lower register, with power and control. The effect was almost one of harmonising. Not everything worked as well of course, like the attempt at simultaneous singing and sollukattu. Also, a brief introduction to each piece would have added production values.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ख़यालों की पनाह

फ़ना होजाये हम आपके लिए ,
चाहत भी आज चाहती है वो समा 
ज़रा हटाकर तो देखो ख़यालों की पनाह को 
आपको भी नज़र आयेगा वो समा 

आपके बातों का मेहफिल

सो रहे थे जीवन में जब सोने का साहिल मिला 
सोचा न था जो सपनों में, ऐसा मंज़िल मिला 
सोना भी कुछ नहीं जब आपके बातों का मेहफिल मिला 

आपकी परछाई

दिल के दामन पे छा गयी आपकी परछाई ऐसी 
ज़मीन के ऊपर विशाल आसमान जैसी 
क्या केहते है इसे मालूम नहीं, पर लगता है 
पूरे हुए दिल के सारे अरमान जैसे 

Monday, November 12, 2018

CHAK DE! INDIA (2007) - HINDI

One of the few sports films from India, that stood the test of time.

"Chak De" is one such rare film where Shahrukh played the character the only other film where Shahrukh did that was "Swades". Like Swades, this film too is one of the most memorable films of the last decade (2000-2010). I don't think Shahrukh Khan can ever become a character again, although he says he tried very hard at becoming one. 

Coming to 'Chak De' the film is extremely well written and holds up extremely well all through. It is wonderfully directed and tightly written that kept the film very enjoyable. There are some moments of fun that are done very creatively and help in gelling the team as well the film together. The restaurant scene where the girls become a part of a quarrel is hilarious yet emotional. 

The cinematography is very well done, and considering this as a hockey film of 2007, I felt the camera work is very smooth and there are no deliberate out of focus moments. Casting is another department that deserves a lot of credit. Picking up girls from different states and convincing them to play their respective roles is a feat in itself. The acting of the girls is the icing on the cake.

This is a film that also has a political undertone and there is a message on politics in sports that is delivered subtly. It is the subtlety of narration that won my heart.

I hope, Shahrukh Khan did many such performance-oriented roles. A 5/5 for one of the finest films of last decade and even as I watched it now, I loved it again. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

MUNICH (2005) - ENGLISH

Another terrific film from a master director.

I had seen this film long back in 2005 but when I revisited the film again today, I was surprised. This film is technically good and emotionally terrific. It's the blend that took me by surprise and although the film was nearly 144 minutes, I did feel it was a breeze and the film ended too soon. So much happens in so little time and there is never a dull moment. The editing should be applauded for keeping it very tight and engaging.  Thanks to Michael Kahn, the editor of Munich.

One can interpret this film as a statement on Munich and its aftermath, but it’s much more rewarding is what I think. If we see it with a different perspective, and from the prism of the ghastly terror of 9/11 in NY or 26/11 (nov 26) in Mumbai, then it all makes senses. In “Munich,” a traumatic public massacre staged for maximum media impact stains the imaginations of all who see it and fills them with grief and frustration of helplessness that they are willing to, negotiate with their values. Although, "Munich" is an enactment and only claims to be "Inspired by True Events", it plays a much bigger and wider role. We need a film like "Munich" more than ever now.

I am thankful of Spielberg to have chosen the script and took the responsibility of directing it himself. I am not sure if any other director would have done as much justice as Spielberg has. He being a jew, and yet keeping away the Jew faith, he directed the film unemotionally.

Technically, it will stand the test of time and it must be seen by many generations to come. Especially those who are willing to be a true sportsman.  They will excel in sports but to understand the complexities of life, we need such films that are affirmative and keep the point straight.

A 5/5 for a gem from Steven Spielberg. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

DEAR IJEAWELE


AUTHOR: CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: ENGLISH


Before I review, I am putting the fifteen suggestions as extracted from the book (reworded accordingly but mostly verbatim).

1. Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by
motherhood
2. Do it together (Mom & Dad)
3. Teach her that the idea of ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she
should or should not do something because she is a girl.
4. Reject this entirely  the idea of conditional female equality
5. Teach the child to read. Teach her to love books
6. Teach her to question language. Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our
assumptions. But to teach her that, you will have to question your own language.
7. Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that marriage is not
an achievement, nor is it what she should aspire to.
8. Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full
self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people
9. Give the child a sense of identity. It matters.
10. Be deliberate about how mom engages with her and her appearance
11. Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.
12. Talk to her about sex, and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary
13. Romance will happen, so be on board
14. In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints
15. Teach her about the difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to the difference

These 15 suggestions are absolutely doable if a mother determines to implement. Having said that, it's upon the mother and mother alone to determine what she wants for the girl child. Although there is a huge role of the father in running the family, it is emotionally confined as a mother can understand the emotions of the girl child better than a man. I say this because, before becoming a  mother she had been a daughter and she understands, what girls go through emotionally.

This essay is a letter Adichie wrote to a friend who asked for advice on how to raise her daughter as a feminist. It touches upon different aspects like the role of fathers, beauty, sexuality, empathizing with child and societal view of a being girl,.

It is definitely an easy read that is simple accessible and yet very emotional and powerful. The language is very simple while the tone is strong, it is assertive I must say.

It is indeed very accessible who understands compassion and is sensitive at heart.  Yet, if I look at the book from a guy's perspective (of a current husband and probably a future-father of a girl child), I doubt if all the suggestions are practical enough. I have reservations in few of these while I agree to most.

This essay really affected me personally and moved me definitely and I felt touched although, I am not a girl. So, for that I give this book a must read rating. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

ANOTHER AQUA FLURRY

Waterfall at Tamhini Ghat, near Pune, India. Always Energetic to see the flurry

Thursday, November 1, 2018

ARAVINDA SAMETHA VEERA RAGHAVA (2018) - TELUGU

A movie that did nothing to me except making me appreciate the dialect of a place.

This is a faction film that runs with the message that “the one who stops a war is greater than one who wins it”. This is indeed agreeable but the way this message is conveyed in a preachy tone is a problem for me. This is a film that has a lot of violence and yet tries to showcase as a soft film where women are shown to be better rulers than men. It’s agreed that women are sensitive and are more compassionate than men, yet that being taken as a primary reason to hand over power did not seem convincing to me.

NTR is indeed a terrific actor but he needs a good script and let me say this “till the day he is constrained by commercial aspects of films, he cannot realize his own vastly untapped potential”. Among all the aspects of the film, I loved the way, the actors enunciated the dialect of Rayalaseema. That's the only refreshing thing in an otherwise typical film.

Trivikram gave me two of the best commercial films in Telugu in the form of “Athadu” and “Khaleja” and although he has the ability he doesn’t want to take any risks financially is what I could clearly see in this film.

This is just okay film and a 1/5 for the acting of NTR and the song “Reddamma Thalli” especially the heart-wrenching lyrics.

Monday, October 29, 2018

TUMBBAD (2018) - HINDI

An original thriller that spans generations and will stay that stay for generations to come.

It's like the story that we hear from grandmother's and grandfather's as if there was a legend to a place. It's mythical yet fascinating and that is the selling point of this fantasy thriller Tumbbad. Never have I seen a film, where so less is explained and so much is left for interpretation. I have got to know the story of Hastar more through the internet and through discussions with friends than the film itself. That is what made the film extremely interesting and indeed terrific.

The film is publicized as a horror film, I did not feel so, I felt that this film is more a dark-thriller that treads the path of noir films but has its mystique held till the last moment. The acting is superb by each and everyone and apart from the protagonist Sohum Shah (Vinayak Rao), the kid who played his son (Mohd Samad) did an outstanding job.

The story is narrated in rich imagery in a pre-independence period backdrop. This is the most visually appealing film I’ve seen this year. Cinematographer Pankaj Kumar and production designers Nitin Zihani Choudhary and Rakesh Yadav have done a great job in paying attention to the details like the types of doors, the vessels and even the locks used they look antique and authentic. I felt it's more like a Marathi film than a Hindi film and that is indeed a compliment to the film.

Human greed is a very convoluted and underestimated emotion that is rarely captured in modern films and here comes a film that is visually stunning, verbally minimal and emotionally heavy. A definite watch and I am sure this will stand the test of time.

A 4/5 for this film. Go watch it and I am sure, you will be surprised.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

ANDHADHUN (2018) - HINDI


A wicked neo-noir film that thrills from the word go till the very end.

Sriram Raghavan has given one of his best films with AndhaDhun, a great dark comedy. He is one of the very few filmmakers who has handled the genre of dark comedy well and is in fine form in this film as well. The film's well written and tight screenplay and skilfull narrative by Raghavan where he weaves a web around the protagonist and lets it unfold through his scenes are masterful. He lets the characters do the talking. He builds those characters by bringing them to circumstances which are very cinematic and ones only he can perhaps think of. 

The realistic setup brings a real-feel to the film as makes it extremely believable and that indeed is the strength of the film. You can make weird things happen to normal people as much as normal things happen to weird people. This film is a mix of both and yet it sticks to realism to an extent.

The characters kept me riveted more than the story itself and that's another huge strength of the film. Rare to be having such eccentric yet realistic characters. When I see some cases that are going on trials in the courts these days, this film is more realistic than most of those cases. 

While it's Ayushman Khurana's destiny to be part of the film, it's actually a Tabu's film. Tabu is the one who made the film so hilarious and thrilling all at the same time. If not for Tabu, no one else could have done the part well. I would give all the possible accolades for her performance and I am happy to be seeing her in Simi's role. Tabu as Simi is eccentric, erratic, deceitful and extremely selfish making her character the most interesting one in the film. 

Yesteryear actor Anil Dhawan makes a memorable appearance, although I haven't seen any of his past films, his character, establishes a retro feel to the film and that is refreshing to see in the age of fast-paced thrillers. 

The film has it's own pace and once the crime is done, it moves on rapidly introducing us to dark characters one after another and that makes the whole film a dark comedy with a noir touch.

Thanks to Sriram Raghavan for giving one of the best films of the year. A 4/5 for this.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

GEETHA GOVINDAM (2018) - TELUGU


A film that shows how fabricated an actor can become in a manipulative script that is based on false emotions.

From the word go, I did not get a good feeling. The first scene where Vijay Devarakonda(aka Vijay Govind) asks for a drink looks so so out of place, it made me feel why are they giving a reference to 'Arjun Reddy' here just to pull the audience. Is it necessary?? Does it add anything to the film? I was doubtful and when I started to feel that the script and the film are actually based on a scene where the hero deliberately (oh, sorry accidentally) kisses the heroine, I shut my mind and just whiled away my time just watching and accepting that it happens only in films.

A film that is manipulative and extensively fabricated with fake and created emotions rather than natural feelings. The characters too pretend as if they don't know what happened between the male and female protagonists and that upset me even more.

Of all, I liked the audio of the song (Yenti Yenti, yes not the video) and all else is just so not for me.

A 1/5 from me for a film that I did not have high expectations about and yet it could not fulfill my least expectations also.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

SEARCHING (2018) - ENGLISH

A terrific thriller with an innovative narrative technique

It’s a taut realistic thriller sans melodrama, action (fights) and a typical backstory of the killers. A film that is a must watch for its tight screenplay with a different narrative technique

Having seen the movie a few weeks back, I decided to revisit this before reviewing. Watching it the second time, I am convinced that this is one of the best realistic thrillers I have seen in many many years. I am proud that a Telugu speaking guy from the USA made this film and he took a lot of care and blended the intricacies of a search operation into the film very subtly and that is a commendable job. So first and foremost I would congratulate the director for the accolades he has been receiving and also thank him for making my viewing time worthy enough to go for a repeat watch.

It’s a simple story of a girl gone missing and father goes searching but the realism behind a typical search operation or investigation is something that we rarely put and there is some amount of fabrication. Even this plot, there is a hope and it is revealed only at the end, but the way the film held up and made me see again even after knowing the ending is something truly remarkable. The film is set in today’s world and uses gadgets and applications like FaceTime, Skype, iMessage, WhatsApp to a great extent.

On the first viewing, the film looked like it is more about the narrative technique than the plot while on the second viewing, I found how layered the characters are and this film like many great films is about characters. Indeed, the girl's dad David Kim (played by John Cho) seemed very layered and also vulnerable. He brought out what it means to be a single dad. His performance is top notch, to say the least, and I hope to see him more in such realistic performances.

Technically, the editing and cinematography are top notch. Despite the limitations set by the narrative method, the camera is used to capture all the emotions as they are and they do not seem to be manipulated rather they seem to have felt very deeply. So for the way the camera rather the front-facing camera was used, I salute the director and cinematographer. The editor for keeping the pace right in an already tight script. 

I wish the ending was more real and left as it is that the way it is depicted. Only 1% stories end the way this ended and I wish it was more real. Apart from this one glitch, I loved every other aspect of this emotion heavy film.

For all the tech savvy and geeks, here is a true technological film that is real and that can be relished. I loved it and I hope you do too. A 4/5 for this film. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

MAUDIE (2016) - ENGLISH

One of the finest films on love and passion that welled my eyes with tears long after the viewing.

It’s a love story in which neither of the characters ever utters the sacred three words. It’s a story that defines happiness is an outcome of doing something that we love. In one scene, Maudie says “I’m never happier than when I have a brush in front of me.” There is a pain, smile, and life in the movie and indeed, living the life as it comes is also fun in a way. In a scene, Maudie apologizes to a chicken she’s about to kill in order to make stew and that is effortless and natural. Sally Hawkins seems to have given her soul to Maudie and never did I doubt if she was really having an arthritic problem.

I got to know that Maudie really existed only after I viewed the film and I was in tears by then. Yes, it's a film for which I will thank my wife Siri for pushing me to watch the film and also Amazon Prime for making this available on its platform. Perhaps, watching the film without watching the trailer or reading anything about the film, really helped. I had an open mind and I embraced the film with open arms.

Ethan Hawke gave a terrific performance too and although this film is all about Sally Hawkins, it's Ethan whose subdued performance elevated Hawkins. Ethan Hawke never tried to shrug off the rough side of his character and can be easily disliked for his uncouth behavior.  He submitted himself to the role of Everett Lewis and gave one of the finest performances ever.  I loved Hawke since I saw 'Before Sunrise' and I love him even more now.

The best aspects apart from writing and direction are editing, yes although the film feels moves at a slow pace, it gave me time to breathe, embrace and feel the emotion and that's a rarity in the films nowadays. The next best aspect is the music by Michael Timmins, it just holds on the notes and gives a nice period feel and also resonates the emotions of the characters in a tender way. But the best of all is the cinematography by Guy Godfree. He made the whole film look like a series of paintings that are beautiful and full of life. The pulling of a handcart never looked more elegant and beautiful.

Thanks to Aisling Walsh for helming this film and keeping it to the point and subtle. There is not even a single loud moment, everything is calm and serene and happens at its pace. Nothing feels gimmicky or manipulated and that's the biggest selling point of the film.

It's one of the rare 5/5 films for me and indeed one of the touching films I saw this year. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

MANTO (2018) - HINDI

A film that had history and literature superbly blended in the biopic of the writer.

Saadat Hasan Manto is one of the very few writers who deserves a biopic. His life had a lot of history and there are so many happenings that I wonder why it took so long for someone to make a film on him. His values and his perspective is truthful honesty and in 1940's he fought for penning down things "as they are" and had he lived today, perhaps he would be fighting for his rights. 

The movie set in the 1940’s precisely between 1947 and 1951 harks back to a time when India was being torn and carved into India and Pakistan. Manto is torn too and makes a choice upon instigation which did not do any good for either his freedom of expression or for his own family well-being.
I so wish he corrected the decision and returned to his beloved place where he felt home.

Acted superbly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and penned well by Nandita Das herself, the movie gives words a new lease of life. There is space ‘Thehraav’ in the film that gave me time to ponder. The period setup is extremely good considering the limitations of resources for the film. All the technical departments especially the editing are in fine form.

Emotionally, I wished this film did something to me. Except taking me back and telling me how close was Ismat Chugtai with Manto and also refreshing me with Manto’s stories, this film did little. For whatever the reasons are, I was not moved as much as I expected myself to move and feel.  I suppose that perhaps knowing Manto’s life well enough through his stories was a reason.

I strongly recommend you look up his short stories "Khol Do", "Bu", "Toba Tek Singh" and "Thanda Gosht" as this homework would certainly help you better connect with the film.

Although everyone was good in their roles and technically the film was fine, I do wish it made me feel more. For that reason alone, I am giving it a 3/5 in an otherwise terrific film.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

C/O KANCHARAPALEM (2018) - TELUGU

To call this movie GREAT would still be an understatement.

I waited to watch the film the second time to give my review, as the first viewing gave an overwhelming feeling. I almost sobbed for an hour after the film and become so emotional that rationality was not to be found even after days after second viewing. So, as I got into my senses and have overcome the overwhelming emotion, I decided to pen down my feelings about this film today.

For me, this is a reflection of a slice of life of characters. I did not see any actor or actress, all I could see are characters and therein lay the greatness of the film. The acting is as natural as it can get. To call the performances as acting would also be wrong, I guess. I would say they just lived their character. Their slice of life was beautifully captured through the view of the director. Never did I feel all through the film, that this film was written and scripted and then shot with a camera. I felt like cameras were hidden from the eyes of the characters, and the way they live their life was just captured and edited out. This is as natural as it can get and am extremely thankful to the vision of the director for bringing out the most natural and realistic film ever in Telugu.

The performances, as mentioned above are just life lived in front of the screen. I did not ever feel that anybody was acting. Every character, big or small just put their heart out. Kudos to the director again for extracting such terrific performances from the mostly debut actors.

The screenplay is top notch, never did I feel in the first viewing that the end would be, what it turned out to be. The matching of the day with day and night with the night as screen shifts from one character to another is in itself technically a superlative achievement. The editing is just perfect there is space for characters to breathe and for the audience to relish those generally routine moments too.

Although all the characters were beautifully etched, I liked "Gaddam" and "Raju" amongst all the characters. But the one who stole my heart was the stammering "Ramamurthy" the one who made idols of clay.

I have been blessed with two amazing songs through the film. They are "Asha Pasham" and "Yemi Janmamu". Thanks to singers "Anurag Kulkarni" and "Venkat Rao" respectively for giving life to these songs with their heart, soul and voice. Just amazing these songs are. The amount of philosophy that is conveyed through these songs is something that takes a lot of thought process for comprehending the lyrics. The lyrics by Vishwa are wonderful I must say and with simple Telugu, he gave a life philosophy in the song "Asha Pasham". Hope is like a net that all humans always fall into and we are bound by hope.

The music of the film is just sublime. The violins by Tyagaraju are just heart-rending. The silences are more powerful through the film than music. Now, am a huge fan of the music director "Sweekar Agasthi. I just wish he teams up with honest and passionate directors like Venkatesh Maha and gives us such gems.

About the director, Venkatesh Maha and the producer Praveena Paruchuri. I can just say a big thank you. How much ever I praise you guys, it would be less. You are like two angels who have blessed us with this gem of a film that has a lot of undercurrent philosophy and address so many issues head-on without making it preachy or over the top. Venkatesh Maha is one of the most honest and subtle directors we have got in Telugu (at least for now). I hope his journey continues for a long long time to come.

A 5/5 for the best film of the year and perhaps the decade. I don't care how many awards it would win, coz I am sure it can easily win millions of hearts. My current favorite film and this film will be on loop for years in my life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

GOODHACHARI (2018) - TELUGU

A spy film that's made with a mix of many hit Hollywood films and yet comes out ordinary.

If you have seen Kingsman the Secret Service then you can understand that Goodhchari is a film 'inspired' by that film. The emotional angle is brought in to elevate the heroics is what I felt. When there is an obvious twist in an obvious story, it falls flat and I felt the same. While the action-packed thriller seemed engaging in the beginning, it lost steam once the emotional core was revealed. It was pretty evident that the character would choose his country over everything else and thus become a hero.

He escapes in a jiffy, has all the technology at his mercy and is too smart for his opponents and these characteristics should have been put in with a lot more care. This film only uses reality for its convenience but is far from reality and I have a problem with those films. A fantasy film is supposed to be that way only but this film is neither real nor fantasy and I falls in the middle.

The film is liked by many including my family with whom I watched, but this just not my type. How can a film be put so conveniently is what I wonder and the climax shootout was too loud that I thought of shutting my ears or walking away than to face it. Perhaps, I am prejudiced with my choices of genres but that's who I am and me not liking this film is not because of my choice but because of the content of the film in itself.

The twists are obvious, indeed nowadays Telugu films are thriving on these twists and getting sold. I wish they had made this a clever screenplay with not so obvious twist. The screenplay is in shambles, it is flowing for some time and then moves on at such a rapid pace that I neither appreciated nor felt comforted with. The screenplay is in patches and is not smooth.

Of all the departments, I loved the background music of the film. The cinematography is strictly okay and other departments including casting are just fine. Also, Prakash Raj seems to be a different plane as compared to all other actors in the film. He is just himself and full marks to him to play his role with such finesse.

Adivi Sesh gave us "Kshanam" and that was way better than this film will ever be and despite no high expectations, this film disappointed me. It also has a reference to "Goodhachari 116" the hit film of Krishna.

An average spy thriller for me and all may have fallen in love, but I stick to 2/5.

KARWAAN (2018) - HINDI

A film that must be watched for Irrfan Khan.

It's a road trip film and despite a few unwanted detours, it has its heart in the right place. It's a film that deals with death in the most practical way on screen. While each is different in characterization, yet they find something in common and that is conveyed subtly yet firmly. There are hardly any speeches or preaches except for one in the end which I felt was better edited out and there is life's journey put in a nutshell in the film. 

Although the actors seem to be in good form, all fell flat in front of the master Irrfan. He is the soul of the film. He is conservative, yet has put out his quips in the simplest way possible.  Irrfan is original and natural and yet another time he puts his fine feet in the shoes of the character and makes it his own. I don't think anyone can replace Irrfan. Dulquer and Mithila have done their roles pretty well I must say, but the flair of Irrfan is something that held the film. A glimpse with moist eyes is also endearing by the master actor. 

The cinematography is superb an I loved the colors of the film. The color coding made the film pleasing to the eyes and made this film an easy watch to the eyes. The writing especially the dialogues are top-notch they are simple and full of life. There is hardly a dull moment in the trip. Some scenes are actually pretty hilarious I must say and they had me splits with Irrfan's dialogue delivery. While each character has a back story, Dulquer's backstory is the one that is told in detail and it has it's space, Dulquer is the protagonist of the film and to help him find his ground seems to be the purpose of the film. Yet, everyone finds their respective love for life on the trip. Irrfan Khan (Shaukat) finds his "Mohabbat" while Mithila (Tanya) finds "Maa" and Dulquer (Avinash) finds "Photography". 

The trip is rejuvenating and I am keen to watch it another time albeit at home Prime when it releases on Amazon Prime. A 3/5 for a trip worth taking.

Friday, August 3, 2018

EE NAGARANIKI EMAINDI (2018) - TELUGU

A film that began with a promise but ended without conveying a point.

It's a film about four friends and although we have seen many films in this genre it's a film where these lost friends try to find something in common as a passion and pursue. They become crew in a short film and that's where the film lost it. Had there been a better purpose, their friendship would have been more fulfilling is what I felt.

Yet this film is to be watched for the performance of Abhinav Gomatam. Abhinav Gomatam gets the meatiest part and he delivers. His dialogue delivery and comic timing are flawless. He had me in splits in most parts of the film and I felt he was the sole respite in an otherwise dull film.

Didn't understand the purpose of the female leads, while other male leads are given their part and they have pt their sincere efforts. It's definitely not the acting that let the film down for me It is definitely writing and direction. Tharun Bhascker gave us "PelliChoopulu" and I hope he gets back to those purposeful ways soon.

A 2/5 for a strictly average film. Watch it only for Abhinav as all else failed for me.

Monday, July 23, 2018

DUNKIRK (2017) - ENGLISH

A good war film that is great in the screenplay by a highly skilled writer-director of our generation.

It is an intensifying combat thriller that keeps ante go up from the word go. As many of his films, this film too does not give space to breathe or blink it moves at such rapid pace that there is always a fear of losing the track of narrative in a moment and before we take a sigh, the film comes to a closure. It is always fascinating how he writes such elaborate stories and puts them in such a tight screenplay.

This is a story of solidarity and how civilians helped the army in one of the biggest evacuations of history. But, it's the depiction that needs to be credited in a big way. All thanks to Christopher Nolan. He took three landscapes, the land, the sea, the air and put them in three different timelines and that is when he won my heart as a writer-director. It is indeed a bold attempt but with the experience of films like Inception he knows how to pull it off and indeed he did it with ease.

"The tensest beach-set film since Jaws", I read in another review and I totally agree with that. The film is set over the sea the beach and only in the first few minutes and at the end, some interiors of Dunkirk and a train journey are shown, rest all is on the beach, or above the sea. This set piece made this film more interesting and equally challenging to watch.

The acting by the ensemble cast is terrific. There is a lot of authenticity in their accent and their demeanor, French look French and the British look British. The politics behind the war are given their due although in a subtle way and it's those orders that determine action on the ground. Everything together was engagingly put in the narrative. The writing made space for more action than reaction and that makes this film special. I like those war films like "Saving Private Ryan", "Hacksaw Ridge" where a lot of action takes place with less reaction and this film is among those.

The last few minutes where the combat ends, there is a newspaper reading, I did not sit there to see how those were made heroes by media, they were heroes for what they did and perhaps that reading could have been cut out. This is just my personal opinion.

The film is brilliant in all ways possible but there should be a special mention of Hans Zimmer who gave a terrific background score and the film more engaging that it is. Watch the film without the score then, half the life seems to have taken out. I muted a couple of times to check and it was missing impact. Thaks to the genius of Zimmer for taking this film a level above a typical war film.

A 4/5 for a superbly made war film. Nolan gets back to his writing like he did for his earlier masterpieces.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

INCREDIBLES 2 (2018) - ENGLISH

A worthy sequel to a terrific film.

The Incredibles in 2004 was way ahead of its time and even now stands relevant as a superhero film. Now, in 2018 the audience is smitten by The Avengers and most of the youth and kids are now the huge loyal base of The Avengers franchise. In such times, to make a superhero movie that has a legacy and still stands on its own is a remarkable feat. Incredibles 2 is good is many ways except that it does not have the typical PIXAR touch that makes us feel so much more than just happy. Incredibles 2 made me feel happy and there is a lot of fun, but that's not just what I expect out of PIXAR and that's not their problem but mine. PIXAR has spoiled me with expectations. Also, I must confess there are very few sequels of PIXAR that I liked. Except for maybe TOY STORY films, I am not a fan of any other sequels. Thus, Incredibles 2 pulled off something great.

The characterization remains almost the same, there is the same family with an addition of Jack-Jack who is super fun and has some unimaginable tricks as the tiniest superhero. As with the previous edition, I loved the scene with Edna. Oh, she is so adorable as a babysitter this time around.

The writing peppered with a lot more humor is terrific and the production is amazing. PIXAR keeps taking the technology higher and there are some dizzying 3D effects in the film which make this a must watch in theatre film.

Thanks to Brad Bird for getting us a worthy sequel that begins at the last frame of the 1st edition and takes the film many steps forward, indeed a generation forward.

A 4/5 for this one too. I just wait for the next one, perhaps another 14 years but I am sure even that would be worth watching.

Friday, June 29, 2018

THE INCREDIBLES (2004) - ENGLISH


An incredible superhero film that's worth a watch many times over.

It's the most notable family superhero film where we have a family full of superheroes. It's fun by all means and does not stop at that, it goes beyond and even tells us a story of a regular employee, a housewife, and normal kids. There are multiple stories put together in this fun film.

The writing is strong and the direction is terrific as expected out of any PIXAR film. This is one of the few films that are not as human as their other films but yet it tells what a family is and what family means truly. To be there for each other in all adversities and to fight for each other makes the core of the film and it's all put in a fun way that's engaging as well as entertaining.

The voice over was terrific by each and every cast and I love the character of Edna, the costume designer. She stands her own in a film with superhuman abilities to the protagonists and antagonists. The moments with Edna in the film are worth watching multiple times for me.

Thanks to Brad Bird and the PIXAR for giving us a terrific superhero film in the age of many superheroes from DC and Marvel. These Incredibles would stand their own and I wish to see more of these in the future.

A 4/5 for a terrific PIXAR superhero film.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MUKTI BHAWAN (2017) - HINDI

A tragic-comedy film on salvation made masterfully.

I cant say this is tragic, it's more so a comedy because after a point in life we accept that the original destination of life is death and we wait for death. It's more about that realization in a subtle funny way. But it's not the story of the father who checks in Mukti Bhawan hoping for salvation but its more the story of a son who is torn between responsibilities. He has to fulfill the responsibilities as a husband and also must attend to his father as a dutiful son. Interesting I felt.

Acted superbly Adil Hussain as the son and Lalit Behl as the father, this film takes a realistic take on human emotions. How frustrating it is to be in a limbo for a human? Also, the affection between a father and son even when it's known that they are going to part with each other. These are talking points of this film and it handles them beautifully.

There are a lot of good things about the writing of the film. The dialogues are natural and there is a flow in conversations, there are noises in the background and they give a sense of the atmosphere. It's all beautiful and the performances just add to the beauty.

Technically, it's brilliant considering the budget and production constraints. The costumes, editing, sound design and the cinematography all gel well making this an adorable watch.

Thanks to the director and these actors who chose to be part of this film. It's a definite watch. a 4/5.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

TALVAR (2015) - HINDI

A provocative film that is made with honesty.

Crime and Punishment need to go hand in hand like law and order. The order follows Law and the Punishment follows Crime. Well, I was talking about the ideal world, in the real world, anything can follow anything. We are truly living in a chaotic messed up world and we continue to plead for justice and the right punishment, and we shall continue to do so for many more years unless we are all sane and follow the law in spirit and principle.

The film is about Noida Double Murder Case of Aarushi Talwar and the servant of Talwar's that is Hemraj. This case was sensationalized heavily by the media and indeed it shook many in the country. I was not interested in the original case until I saw this film and when I dug the details, I was fascinated and yet sad for the outcome of the case. Two individuals have been convicted based on circumstantial evidence and that is not right for the justice system in India. People cannot be convicted based on circumstantial evidence and I suppose recreation of circumstances is not accurately possible for humans as we outlive the moments so very easily. While I was sad about the case, I was happy with the film telling a story in a bold manner.

Irfan Khan stands out with yet another terrific performance. While each and every one has given an honest performance, I loved what Irfan Khan bought to the character. There is certain believability to his role and that in itself is worthy of applause.

The writing by Vishal Bharadwaj was to the point and the editing by Sreekar Prasad is precise. There is not a scene that is out of context or does not add any value to the narrative. It's a commendable effort in writing, editing and directing. Also, I loved the screenplay that brings into play perspectives and plays with the perceptions of the people than with the actual happenings.

All in all, it's a film that's worth watching multiple times and enjoy more often than not technically. Yet, it can't be liked so easily with content being strong and that is about grey shades of humans.

A 4/5 for me and thanks Meghna Gulzar for your faith in the content and the way you crafted it.

Monday, June 4, 2018

A QUIET PLACE (2018) - ENGLISH

A thrilling entertainer that despite a few cliches of a horror film, stood its own and gave goosebumps.

The concept is thrilling and even though there is no explanation given whatsoever of the time period, the location and the reason for the existence of some supernatural creatures. This movie drives through emotions of humans. There are extinct for survival, love towards family and purpose of existence. Also, it is amazing that it is set up in a weird yet believable backdrop.

It's taxing on the viewers, at least I felt it was taxing but fortunately it was deeply moving. This a thriller tied up with human emotions and it is the emotional content that engrossed me and kept me interested. I loved the screenplay and the editing they are married so very tightly that there is hardly any time left even for gasping. My crib is that this film has an interval in India. I hope Indian Theatres become sensible in understanding that the English films do not have an interval and it's for business in theatres, that the Indians have kept a window calling it interval.

The acting is superb by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski and the kids. The cast is just perfect, it has hardly 5-6 notable characters and each one adds to the plot. Apparently, it is John Krasinski's first feature film and this guy looks a veteran in filmmaking already, his craft is terrific, to say the least.

I fell in love with the film and this took me by a surprise and I am happy about it. A 4/5 for a terrific thriller of this year.

About Me

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I firstly declare here that all the content written in the blog is exclusively written by me and I hold the copyrights of each and everything. Be it a poem or a movie review. Also, the videos or photographs I upload or attach are exclusively owned by me. This declaration is important in a world that seems so worried of piracy. The prime purpose of these blogs is to put my writings and photographs on the net. and well to start with.... I live in my mind, and existence is the attempt to bring my thoughts into physical reality, I celebrate myself, sing myself and I am always happy in my own company.....I am not the best in the world but I strive for excellence and thats what keeps me alive... Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself--Friedrich Nietzsche