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Since IMDb has recently underwent an upgrade, I won't be adding my comments about tentative dates or rearranging the order. It's just too much work and a waste of time. Therefore, the titles are listed in random order, with the first one being my personal, most-anticipated film of that month.
Follow me at my blog - http://www.nairtejas.com/.
Good movies - [link]http://www.imdb.com/list/ls066873346/[/link] Bad movies - [link]http://www.imdb.com/list/ls066873674/[/link]
This list was created because I faced a lot of backlash last year as I was adding both average and below average films in the "bad films" list. I was trolled by a lot of imbecile Facebook users who would use the language taught to them by their parents to take a jibe at me. This list is for them so that they become more humane and understand that we are in this life together.
On a more technical note, these films are not awful but are also not that great. I have rated them anywhere between 3 and 5 stars.
Visit my blog, Thoughtcream [[link]http://nairtejas.wordrpess.com[/link]]. Thank you.
These are the top Malayalam films of 2017 (in random order).
For the complete analysis of the top Malayalam movies of 2017, check my blog post at [link]https://nairtejas.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/ranked-top-malayalam-movies-of-2017/[/link]
Also, the title is sort of a figure of speech, which means the list also contains films which I did watch wholly but did not like.
These are the top Bollywood films of 2018 (in random order).
Check out my blog at [link]https://nairtejas.wordpress.com/[/link]. Thanks.
These are the flop Hindi films of 2018 (in random order).
Check out my blog at [link]https://www.nairtejas.com/[/link]. Thanks.
These are the most average Bollywood films of 2018 (in random order).
Check out my blog at [link]https://nairtejas.wordpress.com/[/link]. Thanks.
These are the top Malayalam films of 2018 (in random order).
Check out my blog at [link]https://nairtejas.wordpress.com/[/link]. Thanks.
These are the average Malayalam films of 2018 (in random order). For other lists, check - Best films - [URL]http://www.imdb.com/list/ls021815249/[/URL] Worst films - [URL]http://www.imdb.com/list/ls023358418/[/URL]
Check out my blog at [link]https://nairtejas.wordpress.com/[/link]. Thanks.
Molecule Review: Mayaanadhi (6 Stars)
Mayaanadhi is more about morality than it is about romance, yet at the end your heart aches for the latter. And that is the biggest problem with Aashiq Abu's mostly ambitious, but sometimes pretentious, drama about a naive young man (Tovino Thomas) and an aspiring actress (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who are in a casual relationship and who are unable to decide whether to commit to it or not. There's an authentic attempt at describing the plight of youngsters and millennials of today who are unable to commit to anything, be it love or work or passion. Thomas's character is someone who got into bad company thanks to his directionless childhood, whereas Lekshmi's character has shades of social awkwardness and depression - all of which have been captured with essence by Abu and writer due Dileesh Nair and Syam Pushkaran. However, Abu's try at this subtle art falls flat when his two main actors put up a show that is hardly natural or convincing. Both Lekshmi and Thomas are lethargic in their portrayal, and despite achieving the impossible in some sequences, seem to falter at some crucial points. These crucial points in the film are also the ones that are truly commonplace, and go against the subtle dramatic grain of Mayaanadhi. It's a dull atmosphere overall, with some boost added by Rex Vijayan's music and an electrifying performance by Ilavarasu. There are also these short sequences that are bound to put a smile on your face, but that obviously never happens in the lead characters' faces anytime in the film. Just a notch above average. TN.
Capsule Review: Aabhaasam
Director-writer Jubith Namradath is an angry man trying to sample every single social cause prevalent in the (Indian) society today. His characters are all regular people - boys and girls - trying to live life and where they experience friction. From travel buses named after political personalities to commentary about Kerala's political and social status quo, the film is actually a release of unnecessary ire that seems to have percolated from the makers' own experiences. I get it when they make such a film that has every ingredient to be considered vindictive, but I am not sure what the surrealistic sequences involving Rima Kallingal was meant to be or what am I supposed to understand from the ambiguous ending. Broken pieces stitched together by an amateur tailor is all what Aabhaasam is as it tries and fails to tell a story, among other things. Every other character has a story here, but the fact that Namradath does not complete a single one and instead lives on the periphery is what costs Aabhaasam the attention it seemingly deserves. Except the music by Oorali (which is experimental, to say the least), the camera work, the whole idea of bringing a bunch of people together and mixing their perspectives, and some good performances by the cast members like Suraj Venjaramoodu and Alencier Lopez, there is nothing much to take away from this road drama. Aabhaasam is like a social media post where the poster has written an essay on few terrible experiences. A few likes and approving comments later, the post stops making an impact. Just like this film. TN.
Molecule Review: Cappuccino
However good might be director Noushad's intentions, his directorial venture Cappuccino can be only seen as an amateur and haphazard attempt at highlighting a social issue. That how circulation of a photo of an aspiring model wreaks havoc in the lives of at least four people is the central theme of Noushad's comedy drama. Aneesh Menon is the head of a video advertising agency who thinks that the woman in this photo is the woman who has been chatting with and who he now is in love with. I like the idea of how perversion is the main character here (thanks also to Raveendran's cringeworthy cameo), but the poorly stitched narrative of random sequences that do not add up anything to the film is what will make you doze off in the first 10 minutes itself. The story, or whatever you can call it here, starts only after 30 minutes, before which Menon and his co-stars are seen fooling around. There is hardly any comedy in the proceedings, which affects the entertainment quotient, further affected by the ridiculous acting by Anita Lukmance, Vineeth Mohan (who did a great performance in John Varghese's 2015 horror comedy Adi Kapyare Kootamani), and others. Despite having a moral at the end, Cappuccino suffers from rookie filmmaking and hence cannot be recommended. Even if you have nothing better do, skip this and watch some indie Malayalam films instead. TN.
Long Review: Sanju
A mix of melodrama, pure comedy, and light suspense is the recipe for a film that has what I like to call the "Hirani effect". The last four films of filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani all have the characteristics of this effect, which makes it look like a burden here in Sanju, a comedy drama that is not a biopic at all, as even the lead character laments in the final minute of the film.
Long-time collaborators writers Abhijat Joshi and Hirani's main guy Ranbir Kapoor fires up the story of Sanju as he plays Sanjay Dutt, the real-life Bollywood actor who rose to fame with his macho looks and deadpan acting in the early 80s while simultaneously abusing nearly every intoxicating substance on Earth and all that comes with it psychedelically, and then spiral to a period of disgrace because of it and some naughty connections thanks to his adolescence. Hirani's film is more about his attempt from his rise from this disgrace, which Kapoor experiences second-hand through simple imprisonment, unparalleled debauchery, a strong friendship (Vicky Kaushal), and emotional suspension from his father Sunil Dutt (Paresh Rawal). Although Sanju is about Kapoor's Dutt portrayal to showcase his calamitous life through the lens of a comedy and I-like-to-play-safe man like Hirani, it is about nearly everything that you can witness in a modern Hindi film. Except it does not qualify as a biographical drama because of a large number of broken pieces, hagiographical undertones reminiscent of other similar attempts at biopics in Bollywood, and convenient storytelling.
Sanju is high on entertainment as Joshi and Hirani bring about a captivating appeal and unnecessary and undeserved hyperbole to Dutt's ordinary story. The use of melodrama, as previously observed in director Hirani's P.K. (2014), uplifts the film's quotient as it competes with the speed of light to get to the point while making you laugh. At least in the first act where Dutt fools around snorting charlie and delivering sexual innuendos to his girlfriend's shocked parents in the middle of a night. It's almost like smoke and mirrors, the concept that Donald Glover recently applied in a music video of his to hide the real issues by resorting to tomfoolery. The montages of trance, with correct use of computer-generated video effects and strengthened by Kapoor's over-the-top performance, brings out a smooth flow of the narrative in the first half. There is enough comedy here that conveniently diverts the focus from Dutt and instead puts it on his parents, especially his mother (Manisha Koirala), and the most solid character in the film, his friend Kamlesh, played with magic and reverence by Kaushal, who last impressed me in Netflix's Love Per Square Foot (2017) directed by the talented Anand Tiwari. Yet, the Hirani effect is in full show as hummable songs appear out of nowhere to enable the non-fastidious storytelling.
Hirani is a master of comedy and drama, but he is incapable of separating them. As a result, you will find yourself absorbed in the humor that he makes his characters create and then shuts the door. Even if you try, there is no escaping from his effect, which he flips flops using comedy and drama at the right time, and which you will experience in the second half. After inviting you into Dutt's fun-filled life, Hirani shoots you in the leg and then asks you not to cry. You may not empathize with Dutt as he uncontrollably engages in hedonism to the point of drug addiction and sex addiction, with the latter conveniently etched out, but you will be enthralled by Hirani's treatment of family issues. Especially Dutt's relationships with his father and his close friend, which take precedence throughout the film. Therefore, even if I cannot call Sanju a biopic, it still excels in picking out certain phases of the man's life, add melody and histrionics to them, and serve with hot sauce ready for consumption. It is a film about everything, I should reiterate, where Kapoor can be seen running, jumping, dancing, and doing whatnot like our dear friend Forrest Gump did in Robert Zemeckis's 1994 slice of life. There's no comparison.
Despite that, Sanju has been made like a story coated with loads of jesting, much like the Munnabhai series, starring the subject of this film himself. More than a decade after the second film released in that series, and today it is largely remembered as a comedy. Same could happen to Sanju had it been not the change in the proportion of the ingredients of the recipe. Thanks to the talented actors who know what they are doing and the purported attempt at emotionally tugging at the audience with sentimental story arcs and cheesy dialogues, it stays afloat like Dutt does using intoxication.
Hirani also does not waste too much time going over the specifics. Dutt is married to Maanyata (Dia Mirza), but you see her hardly 3-4 times in the film, either smiling or crying while not looking at the camera. Anushka Sharma is an oversmart biographer who has investigative superpowers but seems to be still hungover from her ecstatic performance in P.K. It also looks like that Hirani's own Munnabhai M.B.B.S. (2003) was the only successful film that Dutt did in his lifetime. The broken pieces may have attached reasons, but they still rob the film of its essential quality that would make it a biopic.
Kapoor is brilliant at his exaggerated portrayal of an unusual man with a crooked gait and life, but Kaushal steals the limelight by all means. Kapoor's efforts at suiting up as this rough-and-tough guy are laudable, but he is funny more than he should be, or at least what we can perceive from his dispositions as a man who has courage enough to load up assault rifles in his car. The nuances are visible, especially during the drug sequences, but I cannot call it extraordinary much like how I cannot credit Sonam Kapoor's appearance as anything. Kaushal, on the other hand, who we saw more recently in Meghna Gulzar's terrific spy drama Raazi (2018), plays life with absolute finesse, maintaining his language, his dialect, his appearance to fully align with the character that he is. If this were a usual drama film where the actors are not competing with Kapoor, Kaushal would win the award hands down, and Rawal would fail to come in second. He plays Sanjay Dutt with dull conviction and still manages to bring out the tears. Koirala supports him for some time, but I am happier that she finally could find a classier role than a mopey mom in the 2017 Sunaina Bhatnagar directorial blunder. Jim Sarbh comes in second, through his ultra-hip performance as Dutt's other friend who helps him go down the road of a drug addict. I am still surprised at his ability to pull off the lisp-like talking style, that even Sharma wouldn't be able to pull off with another lip job if she tried. Almost makes me wonder where he was all these years when we wanted a guy to play subtle torchbearers of evil.
Sanju is a film with missing pieces, which the makers try to fill by taking you back to the Bollywood of the 70s and 80s. The old songs playing in tandem with emotional scenes are the height of the Hirani effect, despite the film having A R Rahman's oldie songs, and a remarkable pumping number "Kar Har Maidaan Fateh" sung with otherworldly energy by Sukhwinder Singh. A tearjerking second half further makes you forget about the pieces as well as the poor product placements of at least two brands. There is a lot going on between the lines. Unfortunately, they are not the parts that are missing from this ambitious biopic that reeks of conflict of interest. Nonetheless, it still is a well-crafted film that has a very high entertainment quotient as a standalone story about "a father and son". Just don't believe everything you see. TN.
Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (2018)
Molecule Review: Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (7 stars)
The raw and edgy surface of Tinu Pappachan's Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil takes the front seat in his attempt to describe a classic jailbreak recreated using elements that we have seen before. It is not Anthony Varghese, who plays a patient convict eager to escape prison, nor his co-stars who shine throughout the film, but the gritty actions and stunts that fill this envelope made of superficial aspiration. I understand what the makers wanted to develop here, and considering that I finished it with some interesting takeaways, I can say they succeeded. Coupled with hitting rock music, unconventional cinematography, and a basic non-linear narrative, director Pappachan etches a story that is run of the mill but does it in a way that will entertain the hell out of you. I was enthralled by the way the characters talk, using slangs and deadpan expressions like they are talking at a tea stall on a Sunday evening talking shop, or rather how they were made to talk by Pappachan. Which is why I have given at least one extra star here for the brilliant effort. I was hooked for more than two hours in the film, but then was a bit disappointed in how the thriller ends. Even if I do not talk about the multitude of plotholes, Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil still remains a film far from perfect. But, hey, it is a rare try at a jailbreak film in Malayalam cinema, which is why it comes highly recommended. Watch for the rawness of jail life, amazing performances by Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Rajesh Sharma, Sinoj Varghese, Vinayakan, and a couple new faces, and the brilliant soundtrack. TN.
Kuttanadan Marpappa (2018)
Molecule Review: Kuttanadan Marpappa
Kuttanadan Marpappa looks like a lovechild of a boisterous circus couple - with shining lights and colorful setups, loud noises, and much fanfare. It is appealing to watch Sreejith Vijayan's romantic comedy, but not more than 10 minutes. Kunchacko Boban plays a young and naive photographer who finds himself in a difficult situation where he is supposed to cover the wedding ceremony of the girl (Aditi Ravi) he was madly in love with years ago. I liked the concept, but I am disappointed at how director Vijayan creates a mockery of the whole story just to churn out few "twists" at the end. Apart from the sexist undertone of the film, thanks to Ramesh Pisharody and Shanthikrishna (at her most oversmart performance since Njandukalude Naatil Oridavela (2017)), Kuttanadan Marpappa goes on and on adding new characters and developments to a story that is as basic as saltwater. After a point, the film stops making sense as the characters resort to unfunny slapstick and loud dialogues. I am okay with this generally, but when you have no movement in the story and half-baked characters with no jokes in their hand, it does not add up to the entertainment quotient. Boban is fine, but both Ravi and Shanthikrishna succeed in irritating their audience - one with a meek performance and other with the opposite of that, respectively. The songs are abrupt and there is a lot of nonsense in the proceedings that make up Kuttanadan Marpappa. Even if you like boisterous masala films and watch them in your free time, I wouldn't recommend this because it can lower your morale and trust in cinema. TN.
Love Per Square Foot (2018)
Capsule Review: Love Per Square Foot
When you have such a great cast giving their 100%, you are bound to end up creating a lovely film. Anand Tiwari's Love Per Square Foot is such a film that is so tasty and relatable, it has all the ingredients to entice and entertain you. Vicky Kaushal, in his career best performance, and debutante Angira Dhar play two young people looking to buy their own flat in Mumbai. So when an offer that would help them do that without much financial burden comes their way, they brush as acquaintances and then to lovers. Lover Per Square Foot is about their romance and struggle to buy a property in the satellite city, their attempt to maintain romance despite being an inter-regional couple, their ups and downs in life as independent participants in a relationship. And it works wonders. I am massively surprised to learn that Tiwari has impressive direction skills, which enables him to bring out the best in his lead stars and supporting actors like Ratna Pathak Shah, Surpriya Pathak Kapur, and Raghubir Yadav just to name a few. Apart from the brilliant performances, there are a lot of small things that you will enjoy watching in the film that has been written in a politically correct manner whose only aim is to entertain. Although the plot sways to cliched territory towards the end, there is freshness in Tiwari's execution. It's a palpable love story that aims at highlighting the pains and fun of middle-class lifestyle, which comes to the fore through the fantabulous dialogues written by Sumeet Vyas. Everyone involved in making Love Per Square Foot should get together and rejoice for they have made a film that is funny, relevant, and important. It impressed me and made me laugh a lot. TN.
Orayiram Kinakkalal (2018)
Capsule Review: Orayiram Kinakkalal
Orayiram Kinakkalal is the kind of ambitious movie that expects you to tag along in its fun ride of a bunch of unscrupulous ordinary people trying to defraud money from a rich businessman and an aspiring politician (Suresh Krishna). The problem is that neither the process makes sense nor do you empathize with the characters. Biju Menon and Roshan Mathew play the leaders of this plan with support from newcomer Sharu Varghese's character, who together get in the mess that churns out twist after twist like it's an Abbas-Mustan film. It is clear that director Pramod Mohan is a creative man, for the production value and attention to details is impressive. But I am not sure if he validated the storyboard enough because he creates a plot that is hardly convincing. Menon's character is a cowardly stock trader who lies to his wife about their finances; but at two specific points in the film, he does the opposite, making wise choices and showing courage, thereby making me doubt his disposition. Mathew is perhaps the only person who puts up a good show here, maintaining his air as this sadist criminal with only money in his mind. Kalabhavan Shajon is also decent, but I sincerely hope Nirmal Palazhi shuns his Hareesh Perumana mimicking and stops fooling around. It is irritating to watch him try and fail at comedy, which aggravates your bad experience. Save for the third act in the film, there is absolutely nothing enjoyable in Orayiram Kinakkalal that has some very great amateur performances by Varghese and Sakshi Agarwal. I don't know where these new actors are coming from, and I am upset how they are lowering the total appeal of the movie. TN.
Molecule Review: Melle
I don't understand the reason behind the existence of this film. First, they show us a woman (Thanuja Karthik) falling prey to a possible fraud medical experiment but don't describe the motivation of the perpetrators behind doing so. Next they show a love story between this woman and a doctor (Amith Chakalakkal) and waste the second half in showing absolutely nothing but the unfolding of their romance. The problem is that writer-director Binu Ulahannan has not stitched his work properly, which makes Melle look like a collection of random sequences involving these two lovebirds. Debutante Karthik is astonishingly poor in her performance, not moving even her lips while talking. Chakalakkal is a familiar face and also manages to pull his part decently. So does Joju George and other supporting actors. With useless songs thrown around and an attempt to highlight the fallacies of the medical industry, Melle chugs as a feeble story. It goes on for about 2 hours with a predictable ending that does not make you feel anything. Do you feel for this woman and her lover? No. Do you understand what director Ulahannan had wanted to convey? No. Does this film come recommended? No. TN.
Molecule Review: Parole
Sharrath Sandith's Parole is an experiment in nonsense. It has a story that sends out a wrong message in the name of kinship, is played out by amateur actors, and goes on for eternity at about 150 minutes, ultimately ending at a note that will make you cringe with pain. Mammootty plays a good man (as always) who wishes that only good happen to other people. But things go massively wrong for him and his family when he is wrongly accused of a sorry crime and is sentenced to life. It is how he tries to absolve his actions eight years from then by going out on a parole is what writer Ajith Poojappura uses to create what hardly looks like a family drama. It sets out to showcase how far a man will go to save his family's life, and ends up vomiting on itself. I don't see any justification in what the protagonist does here, making me question the makers' motivation behind spending so much money to produce this drivel. Except Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, and in only a few sequences Mammootty, everyone else put up a very amateur show, which again highlights director Sandith's novice ways. Parole has been presented like a big drama that tries to impart values, but much like the question of righteousness we all had after watching Jeethu Joseph's Drishyam in 2013, the question asks itself here right from the start of the second half. I do not recommend Parole at all, even though it has a fairly watchable and entertaining first half. TN.
The Square (2017)
Molecule Review: The Square
Claes Bang is charming in this satirical commentary on the state of freedom of expression and politics in the Swedish art museum scene which depends on shoots of massively appealing sequences but falls flat when you see them as a whole. Director Ruben Ostlund uses the narrative story of a man (Bang) in the upper strata of society who has to brave the world as he doesn't know it. Starting from the loss of his wallet and phone to the uphill task of managing the museum of which he is a director, he fails to use his intelligence or charm and ends up facing the wrath of the merciless collective world. I am not sure what more Ostlund tries to say here but his primary theme of how far freedom of speech can go and who is supposed to cap it is loud and clear throughout The Square. Elizabeth Moss also stars in this sleek little abstract film that has some great music (Justice, for instance) and enjoyable shots of people enjoying themselves. Special nod to whoever designed the sets and the costumes of the characters because now I want to dress like Bang. The sex scene between two characters is one of the most natural thing I have seen all year in film, which is why I should stress that The Square has some extraordinary sequences for you to enjoy, but as a whole it still is an overlong mess. TN.
Molecule Review: October
The ambiguity in Shoojit Sircar's October is its biggest enemy as you spend two hours waiting to find the message being conveyed and then get disappointed. Varun Dhawan is the star of this tragic drama where he plays a dim-witted but innocent young man working as a hospitality intern at a 5-star hotel. It is when one of his co-workers, played by newcomer Banita Sandhu, slips from the terrace of the hotel and finds herself in a coma that the film starts talking to you. I like how director Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi take a slow-paced approach at storytelling, not revealing much about the characters while at it. In that regard, the film is an unfolding of Dhawan's character, which I should mention reveals Dhawan's acting skills to some extent. I don't know how he signed up for this, but in lines similar to Sriram Raghavan's Badlapur (2015), he puts up a mature and demanding show, stealing the limelight all the way. October, therefore, is a film solely made to showcase his talent as an actor and tell a bland story from the side skirts. Sandhu is bedridden for most part so there's nothing to see there, but the supporting cast do a decent job. I also appreciate the nostalgic tone of the entire movie, which sets up the mood for the drama that unfolds. October also tries to showcase how words can mean a lot even when they are uttered in regular dialogue, and for that, it gets 4 stars from me. I still cannot forgive it for almost putting me to sleep. TN.
The Shape of Water (2017)
Molecule Review: The Shape of Water
I'm unable to adjudge whether it is the outstanding performance of the cast or the brilliant narration of the love story that pushes The Shape of Water to the level of a classic. But I'm certainly able to call it one not because of its critical reception but because of what it aims to highlight and succeeds. Guillermo del Toro's protagonist is a mute, young woman named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who plans to save a mystical human-like amphibian from the clutches of a government-run scientific research institute where she works, and which is managed by a sadist and unscrupulous ex-Army (Michael Shannon). It is her love and sympathy for the creature that motivates to do what she does, but Toro projects it as a connection between two creatures with their own flaws and shortcomings. The Shape of Water is purely a love story and nothing else, narrated in the classic 80s style which only uplifts its appeal. Hawkins is Godlike, but I'm without words at the impeccable performance of Richard Jenkins, Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer who play more than life. They are so intricate and IN the character that more than the otherwise bland love story I was impressed by their natural skills. Together with Alexandre Desplat's melodious background score and a fitting production setup that puts James Cameron's Avatar (2009) into shame, the film goes above and beyond as to what it sets to achieve. Which is why I will recommend it to anyone who's familiar with Toro's filmography and those who simply appreciate good cinema. The Shape of Water is good cinema and we must appreciate it. TN.
Capsule Review: Missing
Manoj Bajpayee is absolutely brilliant as an opportunistic and philandering womanizer in Mukul Abhyankar's ambitious psychological drama Missing that is largely led by Tabu. Hers is the main character here, who steals focus from her audience as this worried mother of a young girl named Titli, who goes missing later in the film. Missing narrates the story of these three characters as Annu Kapoor, playing an Indian cop in Mauritious, heads the investigation of the missing child. Abhyankar's writing is tight and you are going to be hooked since the first frame itself. Apart from the gradual unfolding of events, and thereby the truth, there's an air of suspense throughout the 120-minute running time as you try to predict what will happen with the characters. Sometimes funny but always thrilling, Missing works because of writer-director Abhyankar's solid direction and execution. Bajpayee shines better than Tabu, although it is the joint effort by the entire cast that makes this more worthwhile. I am also impressed by the score by M M Kreem, which compensates the issues I have with the plot and the several holes in it. Even if you regard these issues as problematic, the unexpected climax and the consequences of all the proceedings makes Missing an above average thriller. They hardly make such films in Bollywood, so it is important for us to take note and appreciate when they do. Catch it when you can. TN.
Veere Di Wedding (2018)
Capsule Review: Veere Di Wedding
In a modern world full of chaos, Shashanka Ghosh's four protagonists try to find harmony in their relationships, both familial and external. Highlighting their journey through deft realism and contrived drama is what she manages in her comedy drama Veere Di Wedding, after being on a four-year hiatus to mourn the failure of the 2014 debacle Khoobsurat. In a hackneyed story that has been sampled in countless art forms before, Kareena Kapoor plays Kalindi, a young, chic woman who is about to get married to her boyfriend (Sumeet Vyas) of 2-3 years JUST because he proposed to her with a diamond ring. Introspecting her decision through the days before her nuptials along with her equally chic three friends who are confused but more (sexually) frustrated than her, Kalindi fights her familial issues and inner doubts that are mostly triggered by the blanket controlling of her beau's family in everything that she does, including the wardrobe. Director Ghosh should be lauded for crafting an indomitable chick-flick in Bollywood despite the trite nature of the story and the unnecessary hyperbole. For instance, the controversial masturbation scene involving Bhaskar's character is the most unoriginal thing in the film, which makes me doubt both Ghosh's and the writers' (Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri) intentions behind making this. There are many more scenes that come across as exaggerated, which although are hilarious, could have been soaked with realism to make the film not look like an exercise in man-hating and namesake destruction of the patriarchy. (Wonder what's the deal here, after the recent Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017) by Alankrita Shrivastava that also depended on exaggeration and far-right feminism!?) Nonetheless, there are a lot of great things to appreciate here: from Kalindi's gay uncles to the incredible performances of Bhaskar, Sonam Kapoor, and Shikha Talsania to the portrayal of men (Vyas's and Vishwas Kini's (fantastic performance) characters) to the free dialogues that bring out the best in the film. It's a well-made film even if we disregard the conspicuous and therefore poor placement of ads in the film for HSBS, Uber, and Gulmohar Lane. Plus, if you notice, all the books (in the bookshelves) in the film look irritatingly unnatural. I'm a 100% sure that these books were borrowed in bulk from a nearby sale (those 300 rupees per KG book sale shops that have cropped up these days) and stashed in the shelves because never have I seen the books of Bill Bryson, Wilbur Smith, and Danielle Steel in a single room; it just cannot and should not happen. What an amateur work by whoever designed the production set. Enough with the digression; Veere Di Wedding is overall a good effort for a comedy chick-flick and surely paves the road for more such films. Regarding it as crass just because you don't get the point that Ghosh tries to make makes you a hypocrite. TN.
Molecule Review: Viswa Vikhyaatharaaya Payyanmaar
The first half of Rajesh Kannankara's Viswa Vikhyaatharaaya Payyanmaar is a laugh riot, thanks to Aju Varghese, Deepak Parambol, and Devan, the former two of which are the main protagonists of this comedy drama. Varghese plays a young man who is assumed to have the jinxing power where if he says anything bad, it will most definitely happen. Whereas Parambol plays a gullible friend of his who is out in Kochi to find a college-mate who cheated him on various occasions. Other than the comedy, I am impressed by director Kannankara's technique of non-linear storytelling where pieces fall into place not at the end, but at different points of time in the film. This way, Viswa Vikhyaatharaaya Payyanmaar follows a strict timeline, which is only affected by the entry of Hareesh Perumanna, in one of his worst performances till date. Sudhi Koppa is fine and so are the remaining cast members, but I don't know what the female actors were doing here other than for eye candy. There is a story lying somewhere in Viswa Vikhyaatharaaya Payyanmaar, but I would recommend you go for this if you have comedy in mind. The songs are useless, and there is this unnecessary arc of a crime drama concerning Manoj K Jayan. This is where Kannankara goes majorly wrong with his concoction, but that is not to say that it is not worth watching. Go for an afternoon watch with friends or family. TN.
Gandhinagaril Unniyarcha (2017)
Molecule Review: Gandhinagaril Unniyarcha
There's a scene in Jayesh Mynagapally's Gandhinagaril Unniyarcha where a character played by Rosin Jolly says that she wants to get married to Donald Trump. That itself is the biggest hint about the fact that the makers of this film have no idea what they are doing. Why would someone even cast Rajini Chandy, that woman who was the center of ridicule after Jude Anthany Joseph's Oru Muthassi Gadha (2016) released, in a film where the main character is supposed to be a good Samaritan? I don't see any because had this rundown story not told, the cinema world wouldn't have missed anything. Chandy plays this loud-mouthed and obnoxious woman in her sixties who roams around with a bunch of goons, throwing her weight around and taking law into her own hands. She is supported by her henpecked husband (Kochu Premam) and granddaughter (Jolly), but everything comes raining down on her when a new policeman takes charge with some ulterior motive behind his transfer. Gandhinagaril Unniyarcha is unpleasant to watch and has no sense of direction. On one hand, it is a film made from crass that has scenes stitched together like a collage, while on the other it feels like a joint audition roll of some of the most average and non-funny actors in Malayalam cinema. You have Kottayam Nazeer, Ramesh Pisharody, Saju Kodiyan, and Noby Marcose, all trying to complete with each other to win the worst performance award. It's supposed to be a comedy drama, but all I can say after braving this 2-hour nonsense is that Gandhinagaril Unniyarcha should not have been made. But now that it has been, let's together execute its funeral. TN.
Capsule Review: Vilakkumaram
Bhavana plays a young school teacher who looks at pedagogy not just as a means to educate children but also as a way to make them good human beings. Such an approach sees her going to a juvenile home where kids with a criminal past/record are confined and rehabilitated. She takes up the job as a counselor (on contract) and tries to improve the ways of the home, which is managed by a powerless administrator (Nandu) and an irritatingly strict warden (Manoj K Jayan). Vilakkumaram has been presented like a fairytale where this good Samaritan of a teacher tries to go out on a limb to save these children from the warden's abusive ways. On one hand, director Vijay Menon tries to show the sorry state of such "criminal homes" in the country where children are often exposed to sexual and mental abuse, while on the other, he tries to make it look like an unrealistic story that has very low chances of happening in the real world. I appreciate the imagination and the optimism, but when you are making a film on a social topic, you at least need to have some realism. Menon gets too overwhelmed by his "fable". Vilakkumaram is essentially a film led by Bhavana, who along with Jayan, Anjali Upasana, and Nandu, is the only saving grace in the cast. Others are ridiculous in their acting as well as the dialogues they utter, especially the English sentences. Together with elevator music as the background and glaringly low production value, this drama further goes down on the cinematic scale, reaching the opposite of zenith in the climax. But that does not mean it is not worth a watch. If you follow Malayalam cinema and appreciate non-mainstream films, this will be an average affair. There's a good statement in here, and the 5 stars are all for that. TN.
Ankarajyathe Jimmanmar (2018)
Capsule Review: Ankarajyathe Jimmanmar
The plot of this comedy is very basic with just a dash of thriller included by director Praveen Narayanan that makes it a fairly watchable affair. Roopesh Peethambran plays a young man who is into moving and packing business in the city but is known in his village as someone who hobnobs with the who's who of Tinseltown. Believing him based on the Photoshopped photos that he shares on his Facebook, Prakashan (Rony David) takes the next train to the city with the hopes of directing a film. All hopes go to the drain when he finds out the truth, and in addition, the uglier truth that his friend is down and out, living with two good-for-nothing men - a gym freak and a loafing loverboy. There is a lot of sequences in Ankarajyathe Jimmanmar that will make you laugh out loud, thanks to the crisp writing, the dialogue delivery, and filler dubbing. What looks like a typical film about a gang of not the brightest four men being in the wrong place at the wrong time, this one never bores, except for Anu Mohan's cringeworthy performance as the loverboy who ogles at every woman that he sees on the street. It is also disheartening to see Rajeev Pillai play a dim-witted gym freak here, but that was compensated by Sujith Sankar's slightly different role in a different get-up and using a different dialect. Overall, there is a lot of original comedy in Narayanan's debut attempt, which only suffers in the second half due to its mindless crassness that sometimes makes no sense. Ankarajyathe Jimmanmar is not an out and out comedy, but it definitely is entertaining. TN.
Molecule Review: Overtake
Whatever maybe the inspiration for making this, John Joseph's thriller drama Overtake certainly keeps you hooked as it begins narrating. The story of a young couple who take the scenic route from Bangalore to Kochi to lead a life away from the city hustle bustle is what lies in the surface of this film. But as it moves ahead, you begin to wonder why there's a truck trying to kill this couple. It's a watchable thriller which starts off and builds well with the only biggest problem appearing after an hour: the chase sequences go on and on and on. Director Joseph uses all his precious running time to create these redundant chase sequences that get tiring after a few minutes. The truck seems to have superhero powers as it shows up everywhere, making me also question the logicality of the plot. That, coupled with Parvathy Nair's horrible acting, are what puts Overtake in the "average film" section of Malayalam history. Otherwise, it's a cool afternoon watch and something that can be discussed at length because the final few minutes are fodder for a family debate. Go for it if you can rent the DVD. TN.
Molecule Review: Zacharia Pothen Jeevichirippundu
Ullas Unnikrishnan's Zacharia Pothen Jeevichirippundu builds suspense like a thriller film high on steroids. An anti-climax, it narrates the personal investigation of the deaths of three people - a couple and a stranger - that happened on a Christmas Eve 10 years ago. Lal's character is a friend of the man (Manoj K Jayan) in the couple and is now joined by his acquaintances (Neeraj Madhav and Anjana Menon) to find out what really happened on that unfortunate night. Director Unnikrishnan has a basic story in hand, but uses long, very long shots and a brilliant background score with multiple genres to lift the story ahead. Flawed as it may be, with a plot that is riddled with holes since the start of the investigation, there is a charm in the shots that take the film forward. Although a tighter editing would have removed more than an hour of the running time (a lot of unnecessary shots here) and made it a much better watch, it is still an unconventional craft. You rarely see such experiments in Malayalam cinema, and even if you leave out the horrible performances and those slow-mo sequences that seem to be the style of Mammootty in most of the film he has been doing lately, Zacharia Pothen Jeevichirippundu earns a few good points for being peculiar and attractive to say the least. The final one hour is complex, and brings out the predictability in the plot, which under performs compared to the electric and intriguing start, which is why I could finish watching the movie. An average afternoon watch with your family because Unnikrishnan should be given a chance. TN.
Meri Nimmo (2018)
Capsule Review: Meri Nimmo
I am impressed by the freshness in Rahul Shanklya's Meri Nimmo, a sweet little tale of childish infatuation. The themes that this comedy drama samples have been sampled before, but not in such a crisp and serious manner. Anjali Patil plays Nimmo, a young woman who has reached the point of marriage, and who is like a sister and a friend to Hemu (Karan Dave), the school-going son of a close family friend of hers. Nimmo has seen Hemu grow up to the point that she used to bathe and tidy him up as a kid, but now Hemu is shy. Blame his company, he now sees his sister as a love interest, who he would love to marry. He hates the idea of her marrying someone else, and does all in his might to put a break to such a scenario, mostly to comical repercussions. The seed of this infatuation is born in Hemu, but is not comprehended by anyone else, not even Nimmo, which leads to some minor consequences on the road until it ends one day. Director Shanklya uses a tight timeline of a few weeks to etch a story about this brother-sister duo, set in the backdrop of a backward village somewhere in interior India. There are a lot of tidbits to observe and revel in Meri Nimmo, which makes it a much more entertaining ride. From Hemu's childish talks with his more courageous and streetwise friend to the rehearsal by the girls of how a first night would go post marriage, the drama unfolds in a proper timeline and ends on a slightly thrilling note. You can't predict what might happen, and in the suspense, Meri Nimmo passes muster. TN.
Capsule Review: Kambhoji
Classical dance veterans Vineeth and Lakshmi Gopalaswami play inter-caste lovers in a haunting tale of a man who is destroyed by a wicked lie. Vinod Mankara's Kambhoji is a tragedy of sorts where he tries to highlight the caste issues of a past Kerala and how jealousy can wreak havoc of lives of not one but multiple people. Kunjunni (Vineeth) is an artist from a low caste, who travels to a land where Uma's (Gopalaswami) kingly family reign control. A master of his art, Uma soon falls for Kunjunni, who showcases his talent to both his peers and elders of this new land, helping him ignore the caste-based discrimination. However, his handsomeness and talent have made the women of his same caste vie for him, which ultimately leads to a murky situation. Watching the slow-burning Kamhoji is like an exercise in patience. While the slow movement is justifiable, director Mankara uses apt score and clear dialogues to keep the narrative going. For a lover of fast-paced movies, this is going to be a challenge, but if you appreciate slow cinema about classical art forms of Kerala and the messages they try to convey, Kambhoji will impress you. I was astounded by to see Vineeth outperform Gopalaswami in both expressions and dancing, as he carries the whole weight of the movie till the end. Kambhoji may not have the best production setup or appeal, but it definitely makes a mark through its adequate low-cost filming. The art direction, costumes, and coloring is fantastic, which all reinforces my love for all things Malayalam. It's a treat if you go in with patience and acceptance. TN.
Viswasapoorvam Mansoor (2017)
Capsule Review: Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor
Writer-director PT Kunju Muhammad's Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor is a collection of bits and pieces used to convey the message about the primary and secondary effects of terrorism. Roshan Mathew plays a young man with communist blood who lives peacefully with his single mother. The arrival of a distant, unrelated family friend (played by Zarina Wahab) and her daughter (Prayaga Martin) etches the start of a tumultuous life for everyone involved. The society's perception of certain religions and the assumption that friendly connection with a terrorist-presumed is also an act of terrorism is what Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor tries to highlight. But does it succeed cinematically? Not really, thanks to director Muhammad. They say that an actor will perform badly because of either of two reasons: he has no talent and he is not directed well. In the case of this tragedy drama, both seem to combine to give out what is one of the worst performances by an ensemble cast in recent years. Add that to the sketchy narrative with zero cohesion and you get a film that is as restless as the audience experiencing it. It is clear that the film has been shot on a low budget, but when it plays with the storytelling or cinematic experience, I cannot resist but blame it. Other than the lack of clarity as to what exactly director Muhammad wanted to convey, Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor is a poorly-made drama film that could have been best sampled in a short story in the middle page of a substandard magazine. There's no reason to waste time on this even if you are a fan of Mathew. TN.
Capsule Review: Carbon
Watching the final moments of Carbon reminded me of Christopher McCandless, that American youngster who left everything behind and embraced nature. Here the main character is going after a mythical treasure almost to the point of starvation and discomfort. I would expect that from director Venu who referenced Kafka in his 2014 film Munnariyippu, much superior than this fantasy drama. Fahadh Faasil plays Sibi, a cowardly fraudster who lives by using his persuasion skills, conning other people, and doing petty odd jobs. He has no regard for his family, and the only purpose in his life seems to be hitting the jackpot somehow. So when an opportunity comes that would take him nearer to that jackpot, he jumps ship. Venu has used his classic crescendoing technique to first describe Sibi and his way of life and then move to the main elements: magical realism and fantasy. So it is sure that the characters talk about Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist while flashing back on their life. But all that Venu crafts ends up as a lukewarm affair because you don't exactly know what he intended to convey. Even if you find it (or them) out, the deadpan style of narration that gives no hints at all makes for a tedious watch. Mamata Mohandas, Kochu Preman, Manikandan Achari are all playing life here, and while you ignore Faasil's overboard performance, you get a feeling that this will end in a twist that will make you go agape. Carbon does not drop the base ever. The exotic locales, realistic dialogue delivery, and the eerie music all add to the suspense that is omnipresent in the film, but somehow there is a feeling of lacking which makes Carbon an average afternoon watch. It's well-crafted, but it's not punchy. And I don't what could make it better. TN.