Dec 26, 2013

Movie Review: Drisyam

What a way to spend a Christmas day! After a disastrous attempt to watch Drisyam that ended up in it staying "Adrisyam" last Sunday - I couldn't even find the end of the ladies' queue - we tried online booking to find no more reservable seats. So after drinking some extra-strong tea yesterday evening, we reached the theater by 5 pm for the 630 show. I took the first place in queue in front of the box office and waited till 645 to get the coveted tickets. Canny soul that I am, I did carry a book in my bag that helped me bear the looong wait. Poor DH had the tougher assignment of getting our car into the theater parking lot - which he barely accomplished just before the ads came on. I haven't seen such crowds at a movie theater bar a few opening days - and those we religiously avoid.

Was it worth the wait? YES, YES, YES! I won't give away even a teeny bit of the story line here, because this is a must-watch movie. Suffice to say, you won't need but the seat's edge to sit on in the second half of the movie. Oh yes, the film takes a long time to describe the protagonist's background, but once done with that, it's a really engrossing tight-rope act that has you holding on for dear life! 

Mohanlal and Meena handle their roles beautifully in the middle of quite a few superb secondary characters. The only disappointment is Asha Sarath who fails miserably in balancing her role - her over-emoting is especially glaring when set against such a smooth and subtle performer like Siddique. How I wish Shobhana had been given that role! But the plum role has fallen to the lot of Kalabhavan Shajon. After a long spate of nameless / minor characters as comic or villainous sidekicks, Shajon has proved his mettle with a tough role - you have to see it to believe it!

So there it is, an "old-generation" family thriller that has no need to resort to obscene language or crude sentiments to draw in people by the hundreds - I don't know how many were turned away without tickets before each show. It just needs a good story, fantastic director and a supportive cast. Do go and watch Drisyam in the theaters!!!

Dec 15, 2013

Movie Review: Neelaakaasam, Pachakkadal, Chuvanna Bhoomi

I seldom write reviews about movies that have already come out on DVD, but I had to write about this one. We got the DVD of Neelaakaasam, Pachakkadal, Chuvanna Bhoomi last week, but didn't get a chance to watch it. Mid-week, I put it on for my mother-in-law who was here. She barely sat through it and said finally that she didn't like it. So I for one was not looking forward to it. DH voiced his wonder why his Mom thought so when it had garnered a few good reviews when it was in theaters.

We put our reluctance and wondering aside yesterday and put the movie to the test. I was engrossed in cooking dinner, then serving it and finally settling down to decorating our Xmas tree (finally!) while the movie was going on. I had one eye and one ear on the movie, but was drawn in inexorably towards the middle and then I couldn't take my eyes off the screen...

Sameer Thahir's third directorial  venture is definitely a must-watch. Kasim (Dulquer Salman) and Suni (Sunny Wayne) set off on a couple of bullets to nowhere in particular - at least that is what Kasim professes. But along the way he inadvertently has such varied adventures that change the tone and direction of his trip. Each part of his adventure invokes specific parts of his backstory that finally puts us the viewers on the same page as he is for the climax. 

I can't praise the cast enough for their contribution to the movie - I don't know the names of most of them, especially the female half. Joy Thomas, Vanitha, Baby Anika besides Dulquer and Sunny were the ones that I could recognize. Of course I Googled the rest of the cast and saw that Bala Hijam is a Manipuri actress and she does very well as Assi. 

There are teeny tiny moments in the movie that show the sure touch of a good director - moments like the sudden swaying of a Nano car driven by Fatima, the innocently wide-eyed question "Cool drinks unda?" by Wafa and the question of a not-so-goodlooking woman who speculates that the babies of Dulquer are likely to look like his beautiful, but unmistakeably Northeast Indian sweetheart as though that would be a very undesirable thing!! Those and a lot of others are what I would go back to watch again (well, I've already watched those moments twice thanks to DH and his forefinger that presses the rewind button at the slightest provocation!)

Neelaakaasam... is a perfect road movie and the episodic adventures are well strung out - wry, comic or tragic - some simply scary. It is one of the best kinds of road movie there is. I had already been dreaming about biking around in India after reading this blogNeelaakasam... just intensified it about a thousand times - how could I help it with those visuals of wide roads, beautiful mountain vistas and the wind that seemingly gusts out from the screen to tease our own hair...

So what are you waiting for? Go out and get the DVD and perhaps you would also like to pick up 5 Sundarikal while you're at it... Among the five short movies of  5 Sundarikal, give "Gauri" a miss and you can't go wrong - all the others are perfect. After watching Sethulakshmi in it you can rest easy that Malayalis won't have to hunt for talent outside Kerala once Baby Anika grows up. She is simply superb!

Now my only regret is that we didn't get a chance to watch Neelaakaasam on the big screen... :( Now I consider having had to watch Geetaanjali as just punishment for having missed watching a movie like this onscreen :)

Dec 13, 2013

Movie Review: Geetaanjali

Finally! We made it to a movie last weekend! Our first movie since we went for the stupendous Gravity in November. We had a tremendous choice laid out in front of us in the form of Philips and the Monkey Pen, Thira, Punyalan Agarbathis etc. that looked promising and were showing nearby. But no, we had to pick a movie that had been playing for three weeks and that too in a theater 25 kilometers away! But then, we had to after this encounter!

Priyadarshan's Gitaanjali (sic) had a lot of hype attached to it, especially that of a Priyan-Lal movie after a loooooong time, "Dr. Sunny" coming again and the debut of Keerthi, Menaka's daughter. One's natural inclination is to compare it with that magnum opus Manichitrathazhu. Yes, Gitaanjali comes a very poor second there. So let us drop such a comparison and look at it as a standalone horror movie.

The plot: A young techie couple decide to tie the knot, but just before the engagement, the bride's mother has a fall and is paralyzed. The couple stay at the girl's home which is said to be haunted by the girl's dead twin sister who committed suicide. The girl pooh poohs the idea of the haunting, only to have a rude awakening....

If you enjoy the kind of horror movie in which drowned girls with dripping hair and decayed faces jump out at you at regular intervals, this is YOUR movie! Unfortunately I happen to hate them! Right after the first scare in which Ani shrieked and I barely suppressed my scream, we both spent the rest of the movie in one seat, keeping our eyes firmly closed whenever the specters threatened to appear and peeking out only in the "safe" scenes. At one particularly grisly part, when the theater was relatively quiet, Ani asked loudly, "Amma, should I cover my eyes or my ears?" Well, I had to then cover his ears for him too.   

There were a lot of flashbacks to Manichitrathazhu - it seems Dr. Sunny's patients always manage to study in schools conducted by nuns; there were echoes of Thilakan's character in Nazzer's (why would De. Sunny still need a mentor-like figure?) and of course Innocent was there to provide the laughs - which are very few and far between. As a "whodunit", there are no surprises as I had guessed the truth in the first half hour. The climax scene was good - even I forgot to close my eyes, decayed specters notwithstanding.

Nishaan and Keerthi have done well in their roles - Keerthi shows promise in her debut and looks so much like her mother in some shots that one is hit with a sense of deja vu at various points in the story. Dr. Sunny - alas! Mohanlal does not have much to do here.

I always imagine that the best pieces of real estate must be available only in movies. Where else would a piece of property in Kerala have winding roads through a rubber plantation in the front and a picturesque beach behind it? It was too funny for words. Although Manichitrathazhu was shot in two different palaces that are as different as chalk from cheese, there was a cohesiveness that made the transition smooth. Yesterday there was a rerun on TV and I realized that at times the location changed back and forth 3 or 4 times during a period of 10 minutes - must have been a continuity headache to shoot! But the results!!!

Ah well, it seems as much as I would have liked to avoid comparing the movies, that is EXACTLY what I have done! Hee hee....

So final verdict: Nyaaah... judge for yourself!

Dec 4, 2013

Placeholder!!!

It's so easy to get out of a good habit. I can blame my non-writing hiatus on the rush I've been in. But I know that it is just an excuse. It was not a dearth of writing inspiration or subjects that prevented me either. It just felt so overwhelming ... the thought of having to keep tapping at the keys for a long time and think about the apt word to use in a particular context...

So this post is just a placeholder. To convince me once again that I can write and needn't be exhausted from tapping the black keys or revolving thoughts in my mind...

As to what we have been up to at Karthi - with the exception of the first weekend in November, we have been traveling every weekend since our Madurai jaunt. The trips were good, we had a lot of fun and cozy times with family. In the midst of all this traveling we also managed to squeeze in the enrolment of our younger one in his brother's school (took us two days) and managed to celebrate the elder's birthday.

But there was the inevitable fallout due to the frequent changes in weather, water and surroundings. The kiddos and I got through with sniffles and coughs. But poor DH wasn't going to stop there. He went ahead and had an eight-syllabled malaise, ending up in hospital for eight days. It guess it was his body enforcing rest after he worked hard during the week and traveled long distances in the weekends. Thankfully that is all behind us. DH is back home and at work. I have stopped running between home and hospital. To be on the safe side, we have decided to go not farther than 25 km from Karthi in any given direction for at least a couple of months. So feel free to drop in!

How to bring back the green...

Back in 2007, when we bought the land for Karthi, it looked like this... There were coconut trees that looked tired, a few jack fr...