A pale shadow of his past – 365 Days Review


365-5

It’s apparent that Ramgopal Verma is continuing to make films as a resource for easy money and not by any stretch, for creative satisfaction. His latest offering 365 Days is expectedly another stint with his favourite muse, sex. The premise of love-turning-sour-after-marriage is imposed on a viewer.

The maker, in a 110 minute narrative, revokes the same message in varying forms, reinstating the existence of marriage as a societal trap and convincing it as a means to satisfy sexual desire. He indulges in a lot of personal commentary enroute to the same, with his voice over and a  background score that hints of a mystery thriller on the cards than a drama.

The mundane side of it being a pain is the major part of the essence, he wants us to take back; ranging from basic family chores to handling the suspicion and the lack of excitement post rosy romances.

The wife in a situation catches her husband watching porn. The man doesn’t remember her birthday at once. The prospect of watching each other everyday hurts. While he’s staring at a window when the two are in a restaurant, she asks if watching a traffic jam is more interesting than her presence.

It’s not as if these aren’t pertinent issues but Verma is way too lazy to explore any of it to good detail. The snapshot-like-plot, to add, shot like an adult television soap has an unlikely happy ending, more for the U/A tag it has managed to elicit from the certifying authorities, when they were probably were caught up having a nap.

There’s a certain recklessness with which the film is shot. It lacks focus and adds sub-plots only for a namesake necessity. The boss is clear-headed of marriage being a ‘moju’. The friend suggests that they need to adjust. The couple feels they’re too strong-headed to stay together and compromise for long. All of it is just reversed with a convenient climax.

On another day, when the maker hits form, the plot may well not be a bad idea to get back to, given the fetish with which he has explored dark relationships in the past. But for the rock-bottom scale he has stooped down to, now, this better be avoided. No, thanks.

Advertisements

Ramblings of the past : 1 Nenokkadine Review


1-Nenokkadine

Aptly titled, 1: Nenokkadine is all about a single character who is in the quest of his identity. In a precarious situation where he asks a character, ‘Who am I?’, you understand the desperation of Gautham (Mahesh Babu) to find some necessary answers to questions that have been haunting him throughout his life.

Yes, though surprising, the Sukumar directed 1: Nenokkadine is loaded with a lot of emotion, in the guise of being a psychological thriller with relievably small doses of the usual commercial put-ons expected of a festive treat. With the producer’s trust on the story visible in each and every frame, the film turns out to be an extraordinary visual experience where traditional elements of a thriller aren’t compromised upon and logic does not take a backseat.

The storyteller uses the magic cube as a hidden metaphor to suggest his puzzle is waiting to be unlocked. The energy that captivates into the story within the first minutes also throws light on the electric atmosphere which is almost sustained on an entirety. When Gautham, the rockstar, takes the centrestage and shouts ‘Who are you?’ at his concert, you infectiously submit yourself to the surroundings.

Only when a mockery is made on his psyche by an over-curious stereotyped journalist in the form of Sameera (Kriti Sanon), in fact, a futile attempt to ease the intensity, 1: Nenokkadine rather seems a farce. The first half is dedicated to explore his mental crisis in elaborate detail, brought out to the fore with an matchless screen-presence of Mahesh Babu, who especially shines in the interval portions where he battles between imagination and reality, which surely isn’t the easiest of aspects to be depicted cinematically.

Considering that Sukumar has tried to strike a balance between his narration and ‘mass-pleasing’ moments here, the grip on the screenplay goes amiss for certain junctures. However, the alluring cinematography becomes another element where you crave for more of the water-scooter fights with the cheer and buzz of the Goan surroundings in addition to the gorgeously dressed characters creating an appeal to the senses like never before.

The achievement here is that, the story still remains the focus and the add-ons, the bonuses. Another aspect unlike his other outing has got to be the director’s return with a bang in the post-intermission phase where the incomplete details opened up in the earlier half begin to power the narrative.

There’s obviously the journey where the lead pair toys with the available clues. The twists start becoming more frequent. Though the entry and the typicality of Posani’s character is a distraction, the goof-up episode involving the trio to fool the police is a brilliantly conceived one though you need to admit that only the larger than life brilliance of characters could have made such an occurrence possible.

We get to see more of Mahesh Babu’s shades witnessed in an Athadu and a Businessman here. In a work that demands crisp dialogues at intense situations where character histrionics turn more significant than rhyming one-liners, he invests his career-best performance into this one. When he explains the dialogue of life not being a bed of roses to a mother-less child in a graveyard, his genuineness is uplifting.

Similarly, the incompleteness yet the commitment in his eyes to unveil his personal mysteries do a lot of good in making even foolish instances look believable. He runs, fights and argues, all with a firm purpose. And at last, when he accomplishes his aim too, there’s an element of fulfillment.However, one would have wished appropriate music tracks and their placement to supplement the stirring background score of Devi Sri Prasad.

It is an unconventional offering from a maker like Sukumar who thrived earlier on creating wacky characterisations, but yet manages to undermine those aspects here to extract the best out of his resources to make a neat thriller that doesn’t complicate itself too much.

Kriti Sanon has a decent start in a film that has enough importance for her, even if it doesn’t turn out to be an exact dream debut. Nasser, Posani and Kelly Dorjee are the only ones who get worthy screen-space excepting the leads and they shine. An appreciable effort to make a thriller, 1: Nenokkadine is a winner that manages to score even without buffoons and parodies. A welcome change!

Ramblings of the past : Manam Review


manam-3Manam, a rarity you witness in films that has bigwigs, sticks to its tale and has the guts to travel beyond its cast-adoring formalities. It respects the story as much as the smaller details that you often tend to miss in such films, as minute as the hair style to the clothe-designs to the age-old car models. Most of them are designed to be messengers of destiny and they being a representation of the circle-of-life is targeted at that. As much as it is embedded with the reincarnation motif, the director has a taste for recreating the atmosphere to bring that very necessary supernatural connect and in fact underplaying the same.

There are occasional touches of slapstick comedy where Posani, Ali and Brahmanandam do their bits well. But, for every such aberration to the purist ambitions of Vikram Kumar, there is enough subtlety in the characterisations and the relationship sketches of the lead actors. The initial awkwardness where they don’t realise the connect beyond the times is artfully used to weave humour where the lines are coventionally happy-go-lucky in nature and the hidden undertones lying within them are only elaborated later.

The focus is on building a connect and is generally in tandem with the light-hearted tone that it sustains consistently. Manam never lets the philosophical references diminish its intentions of being an entertainer or a soul-warmer. That’s the biggest achievement in the sense of it never being over-serious about its theme and is instead satisfied in letting the characters drive the narrative sans possible melodrama.

The name-play with the three characters of Nagarjuna, ANR and Naga Chaithanya as comical as they sound help us enjoy their chemistry even more. Samantha’s screen-time for a film that might have gone gaga about its male characters is one of the biggest strengths of the film too. She plays the doll-like foolish girl that most of the contemporary filmmakers restrict her to but the spontaneous depth on display from the actress lends her part an adorable touch.

Shriya’s portions are strictly basic and just when you crave for more of her appearance after the flashback, she is unbelievably sidelined. The film since then is in a hurry to end on a high. The eye for details is suddenly lost and the happy ending tag gets the bulk of the attention. Building a near-perfect foundation with the first half, the focus drops in the latter. The positivity is retained but there’s a sense of incompletion.

However, the maker doesn’t stumble in switching between the times. As it is mostly a semi-periodical, Vikram Kumar only paints the 1920s and the 80s with a few basic elements and leaves it at that. He also doesn’t spoon-feed you with all the essences and is in no mood to give it a classical topping either. The character-sketches are extremely likeable. Be it Nagarjuna’s weakness for cars or Chaitanya’s for a bottle of beer, they are only in place to establish crucial links.

manam-2

The magic in the moment where Nagarjuna and Shriya see each other in a marriage is an example of how the little things can genuinely elevate a film. Manam has aplenty of that. The wholesome, developed and nurtured core extracts a wonderful act from Naga Chaitanya, who is probably the film’s biggest find as an actor apart from Nagarjuna’s bankable performance, even if you can’t blame yourself for being surprised with the presence of Akhil in the last frame.

Anoop Rubens compositions are very much in-tune with the film’s soul too. ANR’s swansong is a humble and an unadulterated tribute in times where stories are only manufactured and aren’t felt. Go watch this, the Akkinenis have packed their lunch well with enough variety and lots of love.

Neither thrills nor chills- Jil Movie Review


jil-1

He’s a fire officer. He messes up with life and death on a daily basis.  These are the only lines that one gets to hear with any little innovation that Jil boasts of. Gopichand here belongs to a breed of Shahrukh Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan as the bomb defusing expert, who was equally toying with his survival.The stale interior is marketed with some confidence and style here.

Gopichand screams with a charisma like a man on a mission and Rashi Khanna complements him on the style quotient ably. But that’s only what you get. It’s a result with staggering production values, costume-designs to make a Manish Malhotra proud, surreal cinematography to elevate the mediocrity in the content.

With commercial films and especially actors like Gopichand, you know that there’s only a limited space for the game to be played. Goons with outgrown salt-and-pepper beards, a man with a position, a vulnerable family and you know where to fill the spaces. There’s help coming from Posani who wears a conventional dhoti like each of his recent appearances alongside Prabhas Raju, playing his mocking sidekick.

The problem with a film like Jil is the genre on the whole. By the time there’s some intelligence, there are the formality pelvic thrusts in the rain and fire too (thanks to his profession here) besides slapstick humour (read heroines who in cinematic terms are bubbly and nothing more than that) and families, whose immediate job is to get the male protagonist married. These indulgences are best handled when you’re a Vinayak or a Vaitla who can make the commercial compulsions seem less forced.

Radha Krishna Kumar, you realise is lost in a wrong film, nearly alike Karthik Ghattamaneni in Surya Vs Surya or even an Amit Sharma in Tevar. He has a great taste for the visuals but the undoing material could have done away that extra focus. On the other front, Ghibran’s songs bring in the best to the film both in terms of the modern scores and the energy with which they’re shot. Swing Swing Swing, a line from a number reads and the one which actually gets you grooving,  but otherwise, for the most of proceedings, Jil is a long yawn. More than the content, it needed a maker with a better attitude to approach masala films. Pizzas and Panipuris at once make a bad combo.