Nov 20, 2014

Movie Review Digest: 9 movies at one go!!!

Due to a family wedding and subsequent activities, it's been a while since we got out to watch a film. But what is Karthi without movies? We decided to watch a few DVDs we have been holding on to for a while now. Here we go.

We do not watch many Hindi movies unless they are recommended to us by friends or family. That is how we got to see the following.

Highway: Wow, a fantastic cinematic experience in all senses of the word! Alia Bhatt was a revelation in this soul-scraping movie of an heiress who gets kidnapped on the eve of her wedding. She accurately portrays the angst of women who have to fear sexual exploitation from absolutely everyone - it's absolutely a miracle how all women do not turn out to be misanthropes! Great watch, definitely recommended. Also a road movie - which is another one of my likes!

Two States: Everyone I talk to either loves or hates Chetan Bhagat. I like a few of his books and would say "meh" to some others. Two States, I definitely liked. The movie adaptation is an almost verbatim copy of the novel except for understandably omitting the not-so-relevant parts. Although Alia would not have been my choice to play Ananya (completely lacks the doe-eyed look), she makes up for it by her peppiness. My picks of the cast are Amrita Singh and Ronit Roy as Krish's (Arjun Kapoor) parents. Great performances! Okay to watch.

Lunch Box: What is it with foodie movies and inducing hunger? Please make sure you have a full tummy before you watch this movie!!! I had just watched a documentary about the dabbawallahs of Mumbai on TLC when this movie came my way. The movie develops through a tiny error made by the dabbahwallas whose error margin is claimed to be one in 6 million (allegedly). But the mistake is savored by the receiver and cook between whom a relation slowly blooms helped on by the aromatic wafts coming from the green-bagged lunch box which is a central character of the movie! Lovely performances by Nimrat Kaur and Irfan Khan. And I had to search and find the recipe for Bhindi fry right after the movie: our younger one who refuses to eat okra was compelled to eat one. He did and thereafter was tough to stop. He said he would give me "hundred out of hundred" for the dish! 

Now to get to the Malayalam movies.

Mosayile Kuthirameenukal: We completed the first half of this movie, then remembered to watch it only after several weeks! But once it was completed, we felt bad for not having watched it earlier! :) By which I mean to say, the first half  is not very remarkable although it has a snappy narrative technique. It also takes an unconscionably long time for Sunny Wayne to be introduced, which to me is a huge flaw! :) But once we got into the second half of the movie shot in Lakshadweep, the movie took on an ethereal, lyrical quality which I think is owing to the exotic location as well. Wow! The music too changes and takes on the rhythm of the waves that lap those golden shores. I could go on and on in this vein - I will end on this note - the second half is a must watch - but you are welcome to watch the first part to be able to understand the second! :) DH has been looking up passage to Lakshadweep after watching the movie!! Hurrah!

Hi, I'm Tony: Watch this only if you have an affinity for I Know What You Did Last Summer. For the genre, it's an ok movie with adequate doses of creepiness, gore and pain. The last two twists were totally predictable. I dislike such movies on principle, but please do not let that prevent you from scaring yourself!

Praise the Lord: Years ago Zachariah penned the delighting little novella of the same name. It was the true  and funny picture of the thought process of a wealthy plantation owner in Pala.  PT Devarajan had the unenviable task of expanding and updating the novella to fit the movie format. He has done a good job, but the fact remains that there is too little matter in the novella to be spread over 2.5 hours. The attempts to inject humor are pathetic. And nowhere does Zachariah say that Samkutty talks in that singsong voice even though his phraseology is kind of preachy. I definitely like the book better. There is something to be said for brevity.

Vegam: "Meh". Resembles Nivin Pauly- Nazriya starrer Neram in several aspects. But nowhere near it. Definitely avoidable.

Avathaaram: Old-fashioned revenge story with the totally cliched murder of honest customs officer part. Of course, Dileep as Madhavan Mahadevan is the brother of the dead officer. In many ways, his character is a continuation of the character Vinod in Anthikkad's Vinodayatra, albeit in a lethal form. Only new things are the extensive use of the mobile phone and apps to apprehend the wrongdoers. Okay, if slightly too gory for my taste.

Ormayundo Ee Mukham?: Finally, one movie we WERE able to watch in a theater. Shouldn't have. I mean, if you have watched "Fifty First Dates" (openly acknowledged in the movie), no point in watching this one. And it's not anywhere as interesting as the original. Added to it is the characters who live in Kerala of some alternative universe - totally disconnected from reality. Humor injections pathetic in this movie too. Watchable only for the Sand art parts - which are truly breathtaking.

Nov 7, 2014

From my bookshelf - The Fault in Our Stars

It's been a while since a book moved me so much that I wanted to write about it. What with Kala Chaarutha happening, my reading is limited to what I can snatch at bedtime before I drop off to sleep. Even so, I managed to somehow finish John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in just a couple of sittings. 

I had had my doubts about reading this book despite some rave reviews I've been reading for some time. When the protagonists are both cancer patients, it wouldn't certainly be a happy story, I was sure. And after the mind-numbing shallowness of Stephanie Meyer's vampire series, I was not sure I wanted to try a "teenage" romance again. It was probably the small size of the book and the promise of absolutely no sequels that made me go for it :).

And was I surprised. Yes, the story is unutterably sad. Yes, it is tragic. Yes, it made me cry.  But they were cleansing tears - the good kind. I will not set out the plot here or the points that made me love the book because I hope you will go ahead and read it and feel as moved as I did. Let me just say that I was awed by the quiet bravery that human beings can achieve in the face of the greatest pain.

In many ways it reminded me of another of my all-time favorite love stories: Erich Segal's Love Story. Which of course, is another tragedy. It has the same type of snappy dialogue, the same brevity of expression and the same intensity of feelings, not to mention cancer playing spoilsport. 

All in all, a must-read for people who like love stories and don't mind if they don't have happy endings!

Spring/Summer Projects

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