Pa Paandi (TAMIL)

Starring: Rajkiran, Revathi, Prasanna, Chaya Singh and many more
Editing : Prasanna
Music : Sean Roldan
Cinematography : Velraj
Directed by: Dhanush

Dhanush has now entered into direction..!! After acting, producing, singing, writing lyrics he dons the hat of the director. He has chosen a 60+ actor as his lead in his debut directorial venture. Lets see what he has tried saying us through his story.

Power Paandi (Rajkiran) is a retired stunt master in Tamil film industry, living with his son Raghavan (Prasanna), daughter-in-law (Chaya Singh) and their two children. Raghavan wants his dad to stay at home and spend his time but Paandi is a person who can’t take things lightly, as  he wants to work and be occupied. When Paandi picks up a fight with the local thugs, it causes embarrassment to Raghavan. This forces Paandi and he writes a letter and leaves home. The old man wants to explore life and goes on a road trip to meet his first love (Revathi) in Hyderabad. What happens next forms the rest.

Dhanush has packaged the movie in such a way that the film has necessary commercial elements including fight, romance, songs and family sentiments. Establishing the characters and premise  takes up a chunk of the film’s first half. The film’s second half moves briskly, save for the unnecessary songs that act as speed bumps in the narrative. Rajkiran carries the entire film on his broad shoulder and shines in every frame emoting effortlessly be it charged up for the fight sequences or becoming a child when playing with his grandchildren.

Revathi lifts the film with her brilliant performance though for a very short period of time, she steals the show. The way she sits down with her daughter and discusses the idea of companionship at 60. Take a bow. The flashback scenes of Dhanush and Madonna Sebastian (young Rajkiran and Revathi) though well-written is cliched. Prasanna as the son who repents for his behavior towards his dad after he goes missing has given a good account of himself while Chaaya Singh as his wife does not get any scenes to score. Rinson as the boy next door who has a casual and loyal friendship with Power Paandi is so natural that you wish there are more scenes between them.

If simplicity is the heart of the film, Sean Roldan’s music is the soul. The background scores and the album itself is all about narrating Power Paandi’s story. Velraj’s camera captures the rural flavor and ambience effectively. Dhanush gives us a heartwarming film that, despite its conventional storytelling, packs in a huge emotional wallop. An emotionally strong film but not too much emotional on a story basis. Can give a try..!! 🙂

Kaatru Veliyidai (TAMIL)

Starring: Karthi, Aditi Rao Hydari, RJ Balaji, Rukmini and many more
Editing : Sreekar Prasad
Music : AR Rahman
Cinematography : Ravivarman
Directed by: Mani Ratnam

Mani Ratnam, known for his romantic tales with a different note is at it again! Each time he surprises us with a fresh angle. Tweaking his lead characters with curious settings and narrating the tale in a refreshing manner, Mani is able to achieve his vision to a great extent. Thanks to his long time association with ARR and Vairamuthu he has once again given the oomph factor needed for the film. Lets see how the movie has fared.

Fighter pilot Varun aka VC (Karthi) and doctor Leela Abraham (Aditi Rao Hydari) fall in love against the backdrop of the Kargil war in Srinagar. Everything is smooth till Leela realizes that it is difficult for her to move with VC’s self-centered nature and the way he disrespect her in public. She is a modern girl who wants equality in a relationship and decides to walk away from his life. VC gets caught by Pakistan army and he keeps on thinking of Leela and what happens next is the rest.

In this film, Ratnam rehashes themes and moments from his previous films, but he also takes a bash at understanding the gender wars. The climax looks tad weak, the scenes where Karthi escapes from a Pakistan jail looks convenient filled with logical loopholes. The screenplay sleep walks till the pre-climax where only the film moves in a normal speed. The film’s biggest strength is Aditi Rao Hydari, and she shines in every frame. She is there throughout and even gets a perfect introduction scene. She owns the film with her winsome performance. The way Aditi cries, laughs and emote completely attract us.

With a toned physique and sporting a new look sans a mustache, Karthi is at his career best, be it in a male chauvinist act or as the one who regrets his past actions. Blame it on his character of a self-centered egoistic brash guy, we hardly root for him and he looks quite uncomfortable in most of the intimate scenes. Visually, Kaatru Veliyidai is beautiful, beyond anyone’s imagination. Each frame is like a painting and Ravi Varman as the cinematographer deserves more than just praise. It is amazing how Ratnam uses the beautiful backdrop of Kashmir and a few other places throughout the film to paint a troubled love story and to highlight the different facets of love.

Rahman’s music, too, serves as the backbone of the film. The songs are perfectly placed and never break the flow of the narrative. Usually Mani flashes his brilliance in all his movies and he has shown in this too but unfortunately all that gets lost in a largely underwhelming film. There are some great scenes, some moments that prove why he’s a legend, but otherwise it is disappointing. Either he comes to our world and give his version of our story or he wants us to come us into his story. This belongs to the latter part where we are invited but we could not enjoy it fully. Better luck next time..!! 🙂

Kavan (TAMIL)

Starring: Vijay Sethupathi, Madonna Sebastian, T Rajendhar, Bose Venkat and many more
Editing : Anthony
Music : Hiphop Tamizha
Cinematography : Abinandhan Ramanujan
Directed by: KV Anand

KV Anand has joined hands again with write duo Subha and new face Kabilan Vairamuthu to pen the story of this film. This adds the curiosity of the film along with the casting led by Vijay Sethupathi and energetic T Rajendhar. When this unusual combo joins together we can expect a cracking film. Lets see whether the film is like that or not.

Thilak (Vijay Sethupathi) is a talented journalist, who wants to achieve big in media, he gets a job in a leading TV channel owned by Kalyan (Akashdeep Saighal). There he meets Malar (Madonna), his ex-flame in college, and love blooms again. Slowly Thilak finds the process is not so interesting, and he is upset. After Thilak’s unexpected honest live interview with a politician (Bose Venkat) where he is connected to issues with student power (led by Vikranth), who is a close friend of Kalyan goes awry, he and his friends decide to walk out. Now Thilak and gang join a little known TV channel owned by Mayilvaganan (T Rajendhar). The rest of the film is all about how the young team unmasks the corrupt side of the TRP driven channel.

The film moves at a rapid pace during the first half and is highly engaging and entertaining taking a dig at the TV channels as how they manipulate everything from reality shows to news to awards to get their TRP’s high. The dialogues are bold and striking and each character has its own distinctive style of speech which enhances the viewing. The ever-charming Vijay Sethupathi does his job to utmost perfection. His natural flair for comedy combined with his earnest attempt, he is a treat to watch. TR is acting in a full-fledged role after long time and he goes over the top with his usual rhyming and timing which is his strength.

Madonna Sebastian does a neat job and looks fascinating in the songs. Vikranth has given a riveting performance. Pandiarajan makes his presence felt while Bose Venkat is a revelation as the ruffian politician. Abhinandan’s cinematography, especially in the second half is excellent in giving the right feel for the different versions of the sequences of events. HipHop Tamizha’s BGM had a good sync with the content but still could have been better. KV Anand has dished out a well researched screenplay on their chosen subject and the powerful dialogues compliment it. Though it has its own flaws it can be enjoyed once..!! 🙂

Angamaly Diaries (MALAYALAM)

Starring: Antony Varghese, Reshma Rajan and many more
Editing : Shameer Mohammed
Music : Prashant Pillai
Cinematography : Girish Gangadharan
Directed by: Lijo Jose Pellisery

I had no clue what type movie is this when everyone said that this film is good. Seeing the posters, I could not even imagine what the film will be about. That too with no known faces. As usual went to see this film without any expectations. Read below about the film and you will come to know.

The story starts with happenings which leads to scuffle between two gangs and there we get to see about Vincent Pepe (Antony Varghese), a hot-tempered youth coming from a modest household of Angamaly a small town in Kerala. He wants to have a gang like how he has seen the other gangs in his town and he gets attracted to violence pretty early in his life. Pepe tries to get out of all the shady activities at a certain point but things go wrong, as some unprecedented happenings lead to a rivalry with another gang. In between this we see about his love life and what happens in his story forms the rest of the film.

First thing to see is the movie has 86 new faces that make up most of the casting and you can’t even point one performance as low and they are the one’s who carry the movie on their shoulders. There is a freshness which we feel right at the outset itself. The raw feel is a welcome break. The frames are real and the people in it are real. Antony Varghese, the newcomer has played the role of Vincent Pepe to near perfection. The actor astonishes with his balanced, natural performance.

The artist who played the role of Ravi is another actor who scores with his extraordinary performance in the movie. The actor has successfully broken the stereotypes of negative roles, with his stunning act. Reshma Rajan as Litchie steals the show when she gives the twist in the movie. Comic moments stand out with humor told in the most bizarre of situations and minute details bring out the flavors of life which adds plus for the film.

Chemban Vinod Jose has managed to come out with a convincing script that is based on real events and characters that behave like normal people. A big round of applause for Prashant Pillai for his terrific music and Girish Gangadharan’s splendid visuals. The icing on the cake is the climax scene filmed in a one eleven minute uncut shot. Director Lijo Jose Pellissery proves his extraordinary craft with the excellent portrayal of the Angamaly town and people who live there. He has done a great job by creating a truly raw and realistic movie experience with absolute brilliance. Overall, it is a realistic, brilliantly made film, which is a complete treat to the movie lovers..!! 🙂

Take Off (MALAYALAM)

Starring: Parvathy, Kunchako Boban, Fahadh Faasil and many more
Editing : Abhilash Balachandran
Music : Shaan Rahman, Gopi Sunder
Cinematography : Sanu John Varghese
Directed by: Mahesh Narayan

After a long time got a chance to see some Malayalam movies and I saw two of them on the same day. Let me tell you about them what i felt good and bad about those two.

The story is based on the true incident where a group of Malayali nurses working in the Iraqi city of Tikrit were held captive inside a hospital when the terrorist outfit ISIS captured a section of the country in 2014. Sameera (Parvathy) is a nurse working in a hospital in Kerala, struggling hard to take care of her family. She has recently been divorced and has left her son with her husband. Sameera is waiting for a visa to Iraq, where she would get a good salary. Her colleague, a male nurse named Shaheed (Kunchako Boban), is her greatest support and marries her. The group of nurses who reach Iraq are not really aware about the extent of the situation there, initially. It’s a war zone and they have to take care of patients in pathetic conditions. What happens to Sameera and others forms the rest.

The great plus of the movie is how the makers have convincingly created the environment for us to empathize with the lead and her plight. As the movie progresses to the second half, the scenario in the civil war is well woven and the film takes a turn to become a thriller. Initially the movie moves very slowly as it takes time to set off things. The cast has come off brilliantly with nuanced performances. Paravthy as Sameera packs a powerful performance. She is impressive with her emotional delivery and has handled the character with ease. Kunchako Boban impresses with the balanced, matured performance. Fahadh Faasil amazes with his excellent performance. Even though his screen space is comparatively less, the actor succeeds in stealing the show with his fabulous acting skills.

Technically the movie is astounded by the way in which the special effects look realistic and the war hit Tirkit resembles reality to the perfect. Cinematography by Sanu John Varghese is specially good. Music by Shaan Rahman and Gopi Sunder is again perfect for the movie. Editing is neat. Mahesh Narayanan has come good in this brilliantly crafted movie. Without being overtly dramatic and surpassing expectations of a predictable story line he has narrated the story engagingly. Overall the movie is an engaging experience, even though it falls into slow pace at certain points.

Maanagaram (TAMIL)

Starring: Sundeep Kishan, Shri, Regina Casandra, Charlie, Ramdoss and many more
Editing : Philomin
Music : Javed Riaz
Cinematography : Selvakumar
Directed by: Lokesh Kanagaraj

This is one film which got released with very low expectations and gained popularity over the word of mouth publicity by the normal audience. I was waiting to see this film as it had almost every one in the crew making their debut and also with not so strong cast in the film. Whats so special about the film. Lets see..

As the title suggests, movie deals with the different perspectives of people living in today’s fast-moving urban life. A youngster (Shri) with a lot of dreams comes to Chennai to take up a job in an IT firm. Then there is this care-free youngster (Sundeep Kishan), who will go to any extreme for the safety of his love (Regina Cassandra) who works as HR in the firm where Shri is about to join. We also have a soft-spoken taxi driver (Charlie) who has come to the city so that he can give better medical treatment to his son. How the lives of these four characters get hyperlinked through a kidnap that goes wrong, forms the rest of the film. This kind of plot is called as hyperlink cinema.

Hyperlink cinema is a complex theme and narrating it in an entertaining manner needs a lot of work and detailing. Any good cinema will have realism and fantasy in equal proportions. Lokesh enforces audience to get ready from the beginning and ensured they don’t miss out the thrill. All thanks to the director for his gripping and an engrossing screenplay. Shri comes up with a brilliant performance as he conveys, the shock, desperation and dejection without going overboard anywhere. Sundeep Kishan as a rugged youngster is quite apt in the action scenes and does a pretty decent job otherwise.

Regina Cassandra gets a little limited screen space,  but still manages to perform in a way that justifies casting her in the role. Charlie comes in a pretty lengthy character after a gap and he has as usual plays the part effectively. Ramdoss has given yet another hilarious performance as a naive kidnapper. He evokes laughter every time he appears on the screen and the best part is that it is his character and the way he has handled it makes us laugh. The attempt at dark humor is successful as even the way he weeps when his life is in danger, tickle our funny bones.

Special mention to the young technical crew of the movie. Music composer Javed Riaz is top form be it BGM or songs. Cinematographer Selvakumar showcased the nightlife of Chennai in a gritty manner while Philomin’s cuts have contributed for the crystal clear narration. Lokesh Kanakaraj, the man behind the product has oozed his passion and interest towards cinema and the same could be seen and felt in every frame. Finally, a definite watch for all sections of audience and not to be missed at all..!! 🙂