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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A must see for serious movie lovers

Author: azeema ( from Pakistan
28 January 2001

One of the finest movies I have ever seen. Though lots of violence depicted, but they are required by the plot. Can compete with any movie in the international arena, be it for story, treatment, direction, acting, cinematography or whatever. A must see for serious movie buffs.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The best film I've seen from India.

Author: unsensed from United Kingdom
11 October 2001

"Kalaa Paani" is one of those films that the Indian film industry churns out from time to time to convince the rest of the world that Indian film-makers are perfectly capable of making great films, films that will have a powerful impact on the viewer, films that you cannot easily forget (if at all you can). It rises above established conventions and is of the same class as films such as "Gandhi" and others.

Be warned that, below, although I have tried not to give too much away, I am including a summary of the plot.

The film features a good cast, although not a perfect one: Mohanlal and Prabhu play the leading roles, those of Govardhan Nair and Mukund Iyengar respectively, Tabu is Paarvathi, Govardhan's wife, Alex Draper is David Barry, the tyrannical jailor, Amrish Puri is Mirza Khan, his sub-ordinate officer, and other actors such as "Delhi" Ganesh, Sreeni, "Cochin" Hanifa, and several others. We are basically told a story about the lives of prisoners in a prison in British India and their relationships. This is where the film shows originality. We are not being told about the Indian Freedom Struggle itself, we are told about what it was like to be in prison in British India, that is all. A point to be noted here is that the lives of prisoners in FREE India, and indeed, perhaps almost everywhere else in the world, is just as horrifically sad as we see in this movie.

Govardhan Nair (as already mentioned, played by Mohanlal), a doctor, intending to help some friends of an old aquaintance of his, unwittingly helps a group of terrorists plant an explosive on the path of a train carrying a few British officials. Despite his desperate efforts to avert the tragedy when he realises what he has done, misfortune strikes him, the bomb explodes, killing fifty-five people and he is sent to prison on charges of murder. Here, he meets other people who have actually committed crimes involving participation in terrorist activity and "revenge" attacks (and he also meets other people, who are actually innocent of committing any crime, just as he is). He forms relationships with these people, partly in the hope that he will have a positive influence on their lives, i.e., intending to turn them away from violence. We also see that sometimes, beneath their hardened, disturbing exteriors, criminals can have human sides, too. After all, as they say, sometimes criminals are made, not born. The rest of the film tells the heart-rending story that can sometimes be nastily play out in innocent people's lives. I think I have to mention that there is one scene in this film that is really saddening. It's probably the saddest scene in any film ever made. But strangely enough, while I could feel a lump in my throat, I wasn't really moved to tears.

The cinematography is excellent. The sound was stunning when I watched the movie in the theatre, the film being one of the earliest films made in India to utilise the "dts" sound system. The makers of the film did not make a gimmick of this fact, but it got noticed anyway - the way a film should gain praise. The art directors and the set decorators are the people who, in my opinion, have let the rest of the crew down slightly. There are several occasions when you can clearly see that you're actually being shown a set, but there certainly are several other occasions when this is in a way, made up for. And of course, you can sometimes see that you are being shown showers from hose pipes in place of rain. The music by Ilayaraja, one of India's finest musicians, is excellent, except for one song, which isn't too bad, but still not as good as the rest of his work in this film. The make-up crew have worked really hard and have done a good job, at least by Indian standards. It is unfortunate that these few flaws are present in an otherwise great film.

To sum up, if you've never watched Indian films and you want to watch one, this is the one.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A must-see

Author: negimp ( from Mumbai, India
18 December 2001

Priyadarshan's magnum-opus is one of the finest depictions of pre-independence India that i have ever seen. In this moving cinematic spectacle, Mohanlal essays the role of Govardhan with elan, while Prabhu acts as a perfect foil, with the supporting cast also doing a commendable job. The cinematography is breath-taking, and the screenplay and editing are top-class. Being one of the first Indian movies to use DTS technology, it has been used very effectively in the movie. The plot is brilliantly crafted, and the ending is superb. An absolute must-see.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Probably the only original movie of Priyan

Author: rck5054 from United States
6 March 2008

A very good movie acted superbly by the leading actors. The movies story revolves around the lives of Indian prisoners during British India. Some says its inspires from Schindler's list but i don't think there is a single scene to scene copy. though there is some similarity in the story like 1) one bad jailer who kills prisoners without reason and both dies in the end. 2) A white guy trying to help prisoners(in this movie a doctor and in SL- schindler).

But overall I believe the movie is original and there is no frame to frame to frame copy like now-a-days. The dedication of actors for the movie was unbelievable. Mohanlal goes to the extent of licking Amrish Puri's shoes! The movie is very violent and has lot of blood and gore. Though the movie cannot be watched with family, it is probably one of the finest south Indian movie showing freedom fighting of India. The direction of priyan is very good. Most of the scenes are original and some scenes are really good too. Priyan is wasting his real talents by copying other movies. Overall a very good movie with good acting and good direction. 4.5 out of 5

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

kalapaani 1996 its must watch -its too good

Author: venkatb83 from Bangalore
16 December 2012

I have heard about KalaPaani punishment and read about Andaman cellular jail,and its jailers brutal punishments and also as a Indian of this after independence age i was curious about making a film on such an issue and how well they might make(made) it?

after watching movie(i have heard about it when am just 12 yr old n watched now 28..)i felt sad not about film but the punishment given to inmates...

film is made very well with blasting cast mainly MohanlaL ,praBU ,AMARI SH PURI, TEENU -ANanD ANnu kapoor..

in every department film excels well.. i have watched many hilarious comedy movies by pr i y an, but never thought he'll make such an film (kancheevaram too)..but he's genius on far with Mani rathnam and ram gopal varma...

its a cinema which will showcase Indian directors capability to handle such an issue well and make films on far with west film makers.


all Indians should watch it too know the freedom fighters plight their sacrifice for our country's independence ...

i give whole 10/10 for it... it deserves it..

go watch it...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Saza E Kala Pani.... a hard hitting historical movie......

Author: Suman Shakya from Nepal
14 November 2013

"Saza E Kala Pani" is a period film on early 19th century when the British rulers sent the prisoners to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a punishment. The film effectively portrays the sufferings the prisoners had to endure in the Islands. The film was made in Malayalam; so the narration of the film at times is very obscure. Forget it if you are going for entertainment. The film is highly remarkable for the hard hitting account of the gruesome sufferings perpetuated from the film which is rarely accounted in the movies. The film succeeds in recreating a part of the history with highly realized and terrifying accounts of atrocities done to the prisoners which makes it an Indian equivalent of "Schindler's List." The film deserves the acclaim for its hardly realized historical accounts, photography, and performances.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

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A wonderful gem in the Indian Film Industry - Priyadarsan Magic

Author: Vaisakh PC from India
19 August 2017

Normally the director of this movie used to make comedy oriented movie. In fact this was his first movie in a non-comic fashion. This movie depicts the lives of fellow Indian prisoners in a jail situated in Andaman Islands in the time where Britishers were ruling India.The tortures and humiliations they faced during their imprisonment. This also shows how patriotic they were.

There are lot of such movies(which sells patriotism) released in India till now . But this movie is somewhat differently made from all the other makes. The main reason can be that this movie is mostly made using the real facts that happened during that time in Andaman.

This movie used all new technologies of that time to build sch a gem kind of visual experience. This was in fact the most expensive movie of Malayalam Industry at that time. But as it lacked the commercial elements which were essential for a movie to be hit , this registered as a flop movie in Malayalam movie industry. But till date, I can easily say that this is the first movie which is deserved to be in the list of top rated patriotic movies made in India . This even dubbed into several other regional languages of India.

Coming to technology side , this movie was perfect in this case too .Priyadarshan was too keen on skills as a director. The cinematography by Santhosh Sivan was applauded by several Indian movie legends. Ilayaraja proved once more that he is a maestro in his area as the songs were simply superb. Then there comes the actors. One of the finest actor that India has ever produced , the great Mohanlal . He led the main character with his impeccable acting skills which supported by esteemed presence of Prabhu Ganeshan . This movie features other acting gems of India as Amrish Puri,Tabu,Nedumudi Venu,Kochin Haneefa,Shankaradi,Delhi Ganesan,Sreenivasan,Annu Kapoor,etc.

Overall, my fellow movie lovers, You're not going to regret about the movie if you spend 3 hours for it. Its my word,believe it!

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10 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Skip the DVD - Watch in the theatre.

Author: Dave Abbott from Tucson, Az
8 May 2004

I wish that I could agree with the viewers below about the cinematography, sound, and overall quality of the film but the Eros DVD completely failed to capture any of that. The picture quality was somewhat grainy like an old 70s film and, halfway through the film, I had to reduce the sound substantially because of all the static and distortion. Finally, I had to spend close to 45 minutes to finish the last chapter since it kept stopping and, at times, had to see it frame by frame.

Aside from the technical aspects, I felt that the acting by the British actors was either stilted, poorly acted or over acted. I also wish that the two main actors did not look so much alike -- same moustache and body type. In one scene, when they were fighting, it was frequently difficult to tell them apart. Had the same problem with some of the leads in LA Confidential. Teen Deewarein was much better at giving three very distinct characters in every way. I also wished that the director would not have borrowed a scene from Schindler's List -- where all the prisoner's are registering on the island. For anyone who has seen Schindler's List, this scene lessens the impact of the film from then on since, in the back of your mind, you start to wonder what else has been taken from what movies and how much of the overall film can really be believed.

Despite all my misgivings above, I felt the story was well-written and all the Indian actors performed exceptionally well. I only wish that I had seen the same film that everyone else saw.

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4 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

malayalam version of schindler's list

Author: vinod-10 from India
28 February 2006

I can not give full mark to this movie even though it was one of the movie which can be considered as in a Hollywood flavour .Kaalapani is the first movie in Malayalam, recorded in "Dolby Stereo SR" (The tamil version of this film is released in DTS .But original malayalam version and Hindi version used "Dolby stereo SR" only ) . The sound effects are awesome. But we can see the scenes of some famous Hollywood films in this movie such as directly copied.

Eg , 1. The hero (Mohan Lal) and second hero (Prabhu ) are caught by tribals in Andaman. They are kept inside a big tub (a wooden tub half of which poured water ) .They tries to rescue themselves from there . All these sequence can be seen in the Hollywood film "King Solomon's mine" ( if my memory is right ) .

2. ALl the other scenes (yes, almost 70% scenes in andaman) can be scene in the Oscar winning film "Schindler's List " . I think the director Priyadarshan is very much impressed by this Spielberg movie. Even the conclusion of the film is just same as "Schindler's List" .

Ilaya raja has given some beautiful songs again. Also back ground music is remarkable. Santhosh Sivan has done excellent photography in the film .

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