Familiar and yet charming-Soggade Chinni Nayana


SOGGADE.jpg

Soggade Chinni Nayana is a film whose sensibilities you can unabashedly call Indian at heart. You see the smell of the humour, a delicious regional spin to it, supernatural elements surrounding temples, souls, handpicked from many tales we all grew up hearing and witnessing; the mix expectedly strikes an instant chord. And to top it, this package is firmly lead by an actor, Nagarjuna, who’s increasingly getting less-conscious of his presence and yet surer of his choices. That’s why, you see the humour, action, subtle horror blending like wildfire. All the lush green farms, the motu sarasam, the banana leaves in this rural backdrop greet you to a meal that you’re not yet ready to outgrow.

There’s a lot of ANR-inspiration that the lead actor has quoted recently for this role of Bangarraju, but his self-made panache does the trick here. You don’t find sequences where he’s trying to play beyond his belt, knowing where to go overboard, act coyish, and coming to his own to connect the emotional strings. He invariably plays true to his on-screen casanova image, his flirtatious doings with multiple actresses bearing naughtiness every now and then ensure a heartfelt grin.

On the making front, the film reiterates how strong storytelling more often than not makes up for an okayish story. Here, if you need a one-liner, it’s about a man’s soul making an earthly return to solve an issue. There comes the supernatural side of it, a socio fantasy turn, a yama, a hell-like setting, a muhurtam of a sivaratri, the film is well aware of its limits and the crowd it wants to target. There are parts you would call tentatively slow, old fashioned. But, contemporary relevance is never what debutant maker Kalyan Krishna’s aims at.The film’s twists are still preserved for the right places, some for the first hour, the intermission and the last hour too. However, Soggade relies more on the beauty of the little moments, especially in the Ramyakrishna-Nagarjuna thread, where the romance is pure, organic and chirpy.

The aftertaste of the film lies in your apetite to tolerate the toast it gives to Nagarjuna’s ‘oh-I-am-a-dream-boy’ image. Well, he is deserving of it, but the makers keep pushing it more and more. He makes the girls do a cat walk, works out a mehndi design for them and has a baggage of one-liners to make them fall for him. It’s nice to see the confidence with which a 54-year-old enacts these parts.

That’s where too, the film gets into a shell of its own, only to thankfully emerge out of it later. You’d have wished for the film to end better for all the efforts put in. Although the male lead seems to be walking away with the honours at the end of the day, Soggade shows our need to celebrate Ramyakrishna’s presence more, be it for the every ounce of glamour she showcases or that bit of intensity and sincerity in the climax. Lavanya Tripathi definitely looks more assured after Bhale Bhale, the other girls Hamsa Nandini and Anasuya too add up to the feminine charm of the movie. Brahmanandam’s part comes with a reason, but the lead actors do the humour bit better. It suddenly feels fresh to see a full-on village drama with sparkling dialogues, peppy music, bullock-carts and the rangolis. This festive trip is a timely shift from the urbane.

Rating: ***.5

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Taking the goodies- Humanly Cinema


HRISHIKESH-RAJU HIRANI

Sometimes, we feel that some makers should indeed belong to the old school. Not bothering so much about aesthetic sense, parameters and focusing on the inconsequential indulgences that stamp their identity. Spending time with each of their characters, as if our longtime neighbours have kept their issues with us behind and coming on-screen. We feel like having a cup of coffee with the David, Ashok Kumar and Rahim Chachas, their genuinely old-wise words amidst a lazy evening backdrop after a relieving siesta.

Hirani, being the torch-bearer of the goodwill cinema that Hrishikesh Mukherjee in his early 70’s propagated, thinks similarly. He looks at cinema in a common man’s terms. Something within our reach,but equally cinematic. Like the Jadoo Ki Jhappi, a Bhai gives to a floor-cleaner in a hospital. We too empathise for them, but hugging them is out of our equation. The hero does what we can’t and wins our hearts.

MunnabhaiRegardless of the plot, treatment, casting or whatever parameters we come up with, to downplay or positively evaluate a movie, these storytellers need to be celebrated. They have such a vast outlet of happiness to be spread around. Most of them are implicitly preachy messengers to be better humans after all. Bawarchi, Guddi, the Munna Bhai series and 3 Idiots. The choices here explain how early these directors decided the ‘brand’ of their films. It’s like Yash Chopra deciding his extravagant days of Chandni and Lamhe while making Dhool Ka Phool.

The consistency in these decisions for a viewer is that, the happy ever after moment isn’t forced. It’s happy, but not exactly to come up with an ending. It’s a situation that’s positive and we’re hopeful that such times shall continue, even if it isn’t the case. These cases do have a shelf-life.

We don’t want overtly optimistic souls, trying to spread the goodwill. In a sequence in Happy Ending, Govinda tells Saif, a first time screenwriter in the film, not to teach life for 300 rupees. He speaks for us here. Do how much you can within the little possibilities, but don’t dare stretch it and make it obvious. These are anyway,  the gaps that need to be filled between every masala outing and the multiplex/art house droppings. Amidst every need to serve business purposes and make an engaging film, the undermined social responsibilities deserve a chance within the medium.

sekhar kammulaHow about someone like Sekhar Kammula ? He is good at it, but overdoes it with the sugar-coating, that his films tend to look like patients waiting to catch up with diabetes. Yes, I’m hinting here at the voice-overs and the coochi-coochi-cute hints he threw at us in Life is Beautiful. Even in a supposedly political film like Leader, he didn’t give up on his list of ideals to be ticked off. Opposed to this, he struggled for creating double-edged parts in Anamika, which should have taught him a lesson or two about his strengths.

Back to the goodwill, how direct should the essence be ? Doesn’t the obviousness in coveying something make such films totally manipulative ? The treatment will have a better answer. Anjali Menon got away making small statements about feminism, independence and emphasising cultural fondness in a single film like Bangalore Days that’s more slice-of-life. The beauty of such efforts is probably enjoying them and not knowing the mystery of it all. Savour the ‘goodies’ and leave it to the writer we say !

English Vinglish is effortlessly charming!


In times where films are made purely for box office numbers, it takes some amount of courage for a debutante like Gauri Shinde to dish out an overtly simple film such as English Vinglish. Sridevi’s  comeback vehicle borrows a leaf out of the methods of yesteryear filmmakers such as Hrikishesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee besides having its own charm. The fact that the film stays in your heart for  a long while after its viewing indicates its impact.

             Shashi(Sridevi) is a naive yet a responsible wife of a corporate, mothering two children. She is mocked by her own family members repeatedly for her English speaking abilities or for the the lack of it. Despite being subjected to regular humiliation, she doesn’t complain. The movie showcases the path that Shashi takes to prove that she deserves to be something more than being a mere object of ridicule.

              The theme of the  film when essentially plain demands a screenplay that is neat, straightforward and entertaining. This one succeeds on this front consisting of characters crafted with honesty. The initial part of the film where the world around Shashi disapproves her  simply on the basis of a language is unconvincing. The memorable moments in the flick, however, lie in the protagonists’ humourous experiences with her ‘interesting’ classmates in the language learning classes and the self learning she does, to get her act right.

             Sridevi ably supported by Priya Anand and Mehdi Nebbou,  does an excellent job as an extremely conservative Indian ‘entrepreneur’ making the victory of an underdog look beautiful. The sequences where she sits back on the bench and weeps after a disturbing incident in an American cafe and utters  those unforgettable lines in the climax in her trademark ‘tentative’ tone show the effort she takes to get into the skin of her character. Amit Trivedi’s music silently wins you over and ensures the progress of the story seamlessly. The most important person who deserves a pat on the back is the first time writer, director Gauri Shinde who is unpretentious in driving through her point and does her best in making situations look close to life.

          English Vinglish as a film strikes a chord because of its performances in spite of having its own limitations in the story. Watch it if you desire for a mature ‘Happy Vappy’ film that is Indian at heart and see a legendary actress spin a cobweb around her audiences yet again.

A beautiful portrait without substance….


 

endukante premanta

The ultimate challenge of a filmmaker is to make his work look believable, regardless of its pointlessness. Endukante Premanta, in that case takes too many cinematic liberties to an extent that a spectator doesn’t care to believe them. This Karunakaran venture is an immense delight for the eyes, which sadly can’t suffice a product that lacks clarity. It isn’t its inspiration from the English flick “Just Like Heaven” that mattered, but it’s inability to mix entertainment with philosophy is what, that disappoints on an entirety.

               The film begins with a reincarnation saga of two unsatisfied souls who aren’t able to get together for various reasons, only to unite and realise their love in their next birth. Ram and Tamanna are portrayed as conservative students in the first birth with the latter’s inhibitions in entering into a relationship and are provided  contrasting characterisations in their next birth. They are often placed in tricky situations and the story deals with the duo’s tactics in outsmarting them and ultimately getting together.

                 The basic flaw in the film is essentially the nurturing of love between the leads. Every time we see Ram helping Tamanna, it looks mere sympathy and love is nowhere to be found. Though the story lacks logic, it’s puzzling to see an established director  failing to connect crucial links in the screenplay. Not all is bad with the film though, the clean humour is something to watch out for, especially the second half which provides ample entertainment.

                 Ram’s energy in his dances and desperation to make this film work is visible from the very first frame. He is at ease and consistent throughout the film never overplaying his character.  However, we never get to witness anything unique from his previous portrayals. Tamanna is just about passable and tries too hard to get her act right. Shinde, Anu Hassan, Suman have stereotypically designed roles. Though Brahmanandam’s comic act works once again, the redundancy in his characterisations is one factor he should take a note of.        

              Technically, this is one film, the director would be proud of his team. The quality cinematography makes every frame look like a portrait. The grand locales in Paris do well to aid the film’s stylishness. ‘Nee Chupule’ and ‘Chill Out’ stand out among the compositions from G.V.Prakash Kumar ,who does a neat job with the background score too. Karunakaran as a director is bearable and his screenplay could have been crisper to handle a subject such as this.

            Endukante Premanta in simple terms is, strictly a one-time watch. Though the performances try to save a sinking ship, they can’t rise above the loopholes. Keep your brains aside and be patient, if you are to enjoy this one. Kicking a coke bottle up your face isn’t love baby!!

My Take:  2.5/5

Betrayal in style!!


Mankatha

“Strictly No Rules” as the tag line says it, Mankatha is one unpredictable story with twists like an irregular swing of a pendulum. Ajith revels as a king maker continuing his tryst with action thrillers with an audacious screen presence and an enviable ease. This Indian “Italian Job” style drama is smart, witty and keeps you guessing. Venkat Prabhu’s gutsy attempt pays off with an edge of a seat screenplay keeping a spectator engrossed constantly.

                     The film encircling the betting mafia has characters trying to outsmart each other with their greed to earn quick money with little effort.  Their attempts however collapse like a chicken waiting to be ripped apart. Prudvi(Arjun) leads a special squad assigned to unearth people behind the illegal dealings. Vinayak is a 40+ suspended police officer , fearless in his methods. He has a girlfriend Sanjana(Trisha) whose father Arumugam holds a position of influence in Mumbai. A team of four plan to rob a sum of 500 crores from the former. Vinayak makes an astounding entry into the troop. The film then unravels the true intentions behind the characters backed by the cat and mouse chases wherein each of them attempts to flee with the money.

                   The biggest challenge of a fast paced thriller is to sustain momentum and remain mysterious which Mankatha does  in equal amounts leaving out a few amateurishly directed sequences.  One needs to appreciate the directorial vision in the pre-interval scene where Ajith idealizes his plan for the escape. The chases are supremely designed and the so called filmi clichés are well handled. The first half drags initially but the director packs a sucker punch in the latter part which obviously aids the film.

                   The performances are not as memorable as one would have expected. Trisha for instance appears in a listless role that could have so easily been labeled as a special appearance. Laxmi Rai has more screen space than Trisha, but not even half the charm of the former. Another set of ladies don’t get their due too, this time Anjali and Andrea. The character of the IIT’ian hacker  though not completely original, is well portrayed. The other trio is passable. Ajith is sparkling. His charisma is such that you are left bewildered by the bluntness with which he says “This is my f**king game”. Arjun marks a surprise comeback and is extremely convincing as a tough officer. The other characters don’t deserve much of a mention.

                    This, being Venkat Prabhu’s magnum opus doesn’t have the emotional base of his earlier works as he centers the film around a single character who hogs the limelight. Technically though, the film is sound backed by some neat camera work. The picturisation of the song with Ajith and Trisha is extremely well conceived. The dialogues just about fit the bill. The background score is unique. The songs are pretty much a disappointment.

                  The basic aspects that go in favour of the film are its theme, action stunts and Ajith. This is not  a ‘classic’ by any stretch of imagination but has enough elements that can surprise audiences. This is no rocket science. Go watch the kingmaker turn the tides!!Velayadu Mankatha!

Force is a lethargic ride……..


After Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan having packed a punch with their cop tales Dabanng and Singham, John Abraham’s earnest performance in Force unfortunately isn’t good enough to strike a note. This being a season of remakes, Force inspired from the Gautham Menon directorial ‘Kakka Kakka’ doesn’t have the courage nor the intensity to impact a spectator. We are left witnessing a work that’s aesthetically spectacular let down by noticeable flaws in the direction department. Nishikant Kamat is no match to Gautham Menon who was able to derive extraordinary emotions through simple situations. However, the screenplay has been smartly adapted with a certain slickness action films demand, that makes Force a decent watch, if not a perfect one.

                Yashvardhan leads a group of four committed officers who are determined to wipe the drug mafia raging in the nation. Each person in the lot is backed by a family who undeniably are a weakness in their thankless profession. Yashvardhan is an exception to the above only until he encounters Maya who sweeps him off his feet completely. She empowers a new lease of fresh air in his life that has been an implicit definition of passion,dedication and commitment for his profession. In his life that’s intricately coated with danger from all quarters, Maya makes her space. The basic story deals with the conflicts between Yash’s personal and professional life.

               The film isn’t however a direct copy of the Tamil version. The backdrop undergoes a change, the pace improves at the cost of an emotional connect with a spectator. One never feels the pain that Yash had to face at various junctures. Blame it on John Abraham’s muscles which more often than not makes up for the majority of the screen space or the climax that’s extensive, Force doesn’t have  soul. The villain’s character in an action film needs to strike equanimity with the film’s lead to make the encounters engrossing. The shortcomings are visible in both their characters which never get a chance to depict their supremacy. Even though they manage to do, you better prepare yourself for a compromise. Genelia’s romantic track with John has shades of the role Asin had portrayed in Ghajini. Despite the similarity, Genelia’s performance is fresh and genuine. She however needs to come out of her comfort zone of being simply being the cute next door girl which could turn the tide against her in the future.

                  One definitely feels the lack of a powerhouse performer in an emotionally draining drama such as this. The characters are restricted to be eye candy which tells a thing or two of the artistes . An exquisite music score by Harris Jayraj coupled with Javed Akthar’s lyrical brilliance is left criminally wasted where Khwabon Khwabon and Chahoon Bhi are easily the best picks. Ratif Sheikh’s dialogues are really catchy and evoke heartfelt humour as well as the seriousness that the situations had compelled. The lines such as “ Neend Ki Dawai Mat Dena, Varna Hosh Mein Aane Ke Baad Tumhe Pehle Maar Doonga” speak for themselves. The editing is neat, the locations, picture perfect and the camera work is a humble synonym of brilliance. Nishikant Kamat could have definitely done his homework better where pictorial charisma dominates the emotional bonding of the characters whose casting too has a sense of mediocrity.

            The script of Force has a stamp of success marked on it.  With the shortcomings of the film notwithstanding, it still has enough substance to back it up. This might mark the beginning of a crucial phase for John Abraham’s capabilities to come to the fore. Though his performance isn’t as accomplished as the original southern version played by Surya, it definitely has a sense of maturity in comparision with his early ‘Dhoom’ days. Force is a gorgeous dish whose ingredients sadly aren’t well garnished. The couple of hours are a mixed bunch of magnificence and emotional lethargy.

My Take: 2.75/5

(Picture Courtesy: www.bollycurry.com)

Honesty with an intensity…….


Films in simple terms have to ensure a vision to a writer’s desperation to express a story. Full length feature films always score an advantage over short films with respect to the emotional connect as it gives the maker behind it, enough time to explore all his characters. Short films in that sense have to be smartly packaged in their quest to appease audiences. They need to be slick, crisp built with a proper foundation to the story. An aspiring film maker in his own right, Sai Charan’s effort to ensure a technical extravaganza is inherently visible in his short film titled ‘The Assassin’.

              The tale embarks with one of the main protagonists being introduced as an agent of a drug dealer who acts as a messenger to deliver the same. With a railway track as a backdrop, he deals with his clients equipping them with a certain code to ensure privacy in his dealings. He however mistakes a normal person to be his client who utters the same code by the customer who has to take the goods. But a 108 year history beckons the two. They have a connection and they are on a mission. What’s so significant in their past for them to reunite after a century’s gap? Do they have the character in them to conquer the final frontier? You witness every scene unlocking a new mystery as you gear up for an intense drama.

           The film is clearly a product of inspiration, one feels. Every character has a specific intention who poster their intentions to seal their destiny. As the titles beam in, the background score catches your ears instantly. It provides a solid start to a film that’s consistent in its narration. The jaw dropping intensity fascinates you for the film’s entirety backed up by an intriguing climactic sequence. The characters have enough credibility invested in a script constructed with a strong emotional base. However it isn’t a film that’s entirely flawless, but yes, they do appear minor in totality.

          The flashback episode is easily the film’s biggest strength besides it’s technical grandeur. The lead up to the flashback however isn’t memorable. The emotions of the actors Tejas and Raj, failed to speak when it mattered the most. The dialogues of Rajiv lack the seriousness that’s adept for the film’s mood. The camera work is just about neat. The response of the audiences will certainly depend on the fact whether they are ready to neglect the inspirations borrowed, glimpsing the product as an original one. Charan’s work is yet very commendable that he never let a viewer relax at crucial junctures of the work which is an asset to any storyteller.  For a first film, Charan has depicted encouraging signs. His edits have been no short of gloriousness that catapults the film to another dimension. It’s just that, his aides could have complemented him on a better level in polishing an otherwise stable film.

My Take: 3.25/5

Thumbs up to the entire team!

Readers can watch the film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXj805bMXoY