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Oy! July 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The first frame of Oy! opens with the director stating his admiration for and admitting his inspiration from Erich Segal’s “Love Story“. In a further (rather too honest) admission, the second frame features a bigger list of about 10 movies or so which inspired him. That second frame is visible on the screen for less than a second – maybe we were really not meant to see it. I think it’s because after watching Oy! some of the audience members would try to figure out where exactly those “inspirations” were and hardly find any.

In essence, Oy! is supposedly a “terminal illness” flick which tries hard at every moment not to appear like one. Probably a good idea if you don’t want to alienate viewers who “cannot accept a heroine dying in the end”. Debutante Anand Ranga seriously needs to get a few basic concepts right. First of all trying to make a tragic story into happy one doesn’t translate to inserting insipid “comedy” tracks whose only connection to the movie is that the actors in them share a scene or two with lead pair. More disturbing is his conception of an “ideal woman” in Shamili’s character – whose simplicity is linked with ease to her dumb religiosity and superstitions.

Shamili is a undoubtedly a fine actress and one has to give her credit for pulling off such a badly written role. Siddharth is a livewire as usual in yet again a role tailor-made for him. Unfortunately, he seems to have been caught like many others in the alternate movie jinx – on the brighter side we can hope that his next much talked about big-budget venture might be a good one. Apart from the lead pair, Yuvan Shankar Raja’s score is the only good thing about this movie. The best numbers show up when the movie still hasn’t begun its downhill ride. My pick is the title track (extremely well rendered by Siddharth) which is still playing in my head.

Oy! doesn’t make you cry when it tries to be tragic nor does it make you laugh when it tries to be funny. I feel some of the reviews of this film have been too generous; however given the involvement of Siddharth with this venture – the outcome is indeed disappointing. Worth only a watch in fast-forward mode when the DVD comes out.

Kick May 13, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Not quite sure if many folks are being too generous to this film or quite likely my tolerance levels have hit rock bottom. Well, I absolutely hated this film but more importantly I dread hearing that word “Kick” which seemed more painful to me than being at the receiving end of a real one.

Ravi Teja plays a character whose every action (and I mean every single action) in life is solely determined by whether he “gets a kick out of doing it”. So that you do not mistake him for just an adventurous person who likes to takes risks, he takes the pains to remind you in every other scene that whatever he did in the previous scene was only because he “got a kick out of doing it”. Technically, that means atleast for half of the film’s runtime Ravi Teja or someone else is constanly telling you this profound truth in our hero’s life lest you forget. The humor and action constantly compete with each other to disappoint you the most – the former wins for most part until the latter delivers a final blow towards the climax where a seemingly impossible heist is pulled off casually just to remind you that bad action sequences aren’t going away from Tollywood anytime soon.

Ravi Teja, Ileana and director Surender Reddy may have finally have a hit (going by the intial reviews and collections). BTW, this film also marks the Telugu film debut of Shaam who is just about the only likeable thing in this movie. Though I didn’t feel too upbeat about last week’s Veedokkade; in hindsight that seems like a masterpiece now, so rather check that one out if you want to see a flick in a similar genre.

Nenu Meeku Telusa? October 13, 2008

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Aditya (Manchu Manoj) suffers from an amnesiac condition which triggers complete memory loss after a night’s sleep. As days pass for Aditya the viewer isn’t quite sure if the person suffering from this condition is the hero or the director. At the end, there doesn’t seem to any improvement as far as the hero is concerned; the director shows symptoms of recovering but it is already too late.

Nenu Meeku Telusa? is a classic case of how to ruin a nice concept. Aditya goes through a daily routine guided by his own recorded voice. There are only two other people who know about his condition. One of them (who happens to be his uncle) gets killed and circumstantial evidence points to Aditya. How does he get out of this mess? The films starts off quite promisingly and the daily routine of Aditya is very believable too. Then progressively irrelevant and boring scenes start popping now and then. Despite many inconsistencies and flaws, things still look good at the intermission. But like I suggested before, writer-director Ajay Shastri seems to have no clue of where to begin shooting after a night’s sleep. Sorry to say but what starts out as one of the most interesting films of this year will have no trouble finding its place in the list of worsts.

Ajay Shastri (credited for story, screenplay, dialogues and direction) has to take the blame for all of it. Manchu Manoj is the only redeeming factor of this film. Depsite not having a hit ever, there have been good things written about him. This is the first film of his I am seeing and I found him very impressive. Unlike his elder brother (who has been promoted more by his family until now), he is an absolute natural. As Aditya, the believability he brings to the role is worth a mention. He is completely at ease with comedy and action too. There’s an eloborately choreographed eight minute long foot-chase sequence though marred unnecessarily by the use of still/slow motion shots just to prove that there is no double being used. Like most things in the movie it is absolutely irrelevant to the plot but still something to take home from the ruins.

Riya Sen is alright but Sneha Ullal as an IPS officer is truly – as Brahmanandam would exclaim – a “What the Frock!” case of miscasting. Ms. Cutie with her stock expressions would find it hard to convince you that she’s capable of killing a mosquito and here we are supposed to accept her as an IPS special investigative officer!!! If this were a far better film then Brahmanandam could have added his “Barmani” to the list of his most memorable roles. No matter how inconsistently it’s handled, he still make you laugh the moment he says “What the Frock!” along with the hilarious expression/sound he makes.

A couple of songs are good while the rest don’t work. The camerawork with a huge overdose of still shots and slow-motions are quite distracting. A bout of merciless editing might make the film better but not enough to make one like it. To quote Brahmanandam once again – he literally ends the movie with a final “What the Frock!” and so do the viewers.

Bujjigadu – Made in Chennai May 25, 2008

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In hindsight, one can figure out why Bujjigadu has turned out to be the way it is. Puri Jagannadh’s films always revolve around a hero who can talk – especially with a reckless street-smart accent. Now, among the leading men of today Prabhas is the only guy in the “top league” who has extremely poor dialogue delivery skills when compared to his contemporaries. So, what does Puri do?

Prior to watching this one, I guessed that Mohanbabu was in the movie to do the talking. I was wrong. What happens is this – In the film’s runtime of say 2hrs 40 minutes, there are not less than 2 hours of fights (the same old flying people stuff) and songs. In the remaining 40 minutes where some conversation happens, to justify the tagline “Made in Chennai” Prabhas speaks in Tamil (which he speaks exactly in the way he says his Telugu lines – so that atleast you can’t criticize him for speaking a language you don’t understand – clever move!!!). The rest of the time when he does speak Telugu, he somehow makes it work at times but is highly inconsistent as he slips back into his old mode of delivery regularly. I had to write all this stuff simply because my hands refuse to move on the keyboard to describe the plot. Anyways, that was Bujjigadu summed up.

Hmm…What else did I forget?? Oh…yes, watch out for Prabhas say “Darling” and Mohanbabu use Hindi gaalis combined with some English – if the rest of the movie didn’t make you bang your head against a wall, this definitely will! There was a exodus of people running out of the theatre whenever the songs came on….not because they were bad but to prepare themselves for an extended fight scene which would immediately follow after that. It was not like I had great expectations from Bujjigadu but I never expected it to be headache inducing. Maybe a more capable star than Prabhas would have made this one sail through.

There are some laughs which Bujjigadu delivers at times but that is not good enough justification to sit through this one….unless you are a die-hard fan of Prabhas or Puri Jagannadh.

P.S. Coming out the theatre I immediately booked a ticket for the next show of Prince Caspian (which I actually never intended to see in the first place) to neutralize the Bujjigadu effect.

Kantri May 11, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Despite impressing everyone last year with Yamadonga, NTR had people talking about his drastic weight loss and that it was a bit too much – he’s lost his charm etc. Now that one has gotten used to him in that avatar, his newest offering Kantri actually is the first film of his which you can watch without wondering if he is too fat or too thin. Kantri is a regular formula film – albeit shot better than others in this genre with a nice plot twist (inspired from a movie of course!) to make you think that you’ve seen something different from the ordinary.

Kranti aka Kantri (NTR) is a vagabond who joins a gang of baddies headed by PR (Prakash Raj). Now the movie begins with a young PR cheating and killing some folks for money, so you can guess there has to be some link between Kranti and PR. There are quite a bunch of baddies here (Ashish Vidhyarthi, Murli Sharma, Sayaji Shinde) who exist just to give a reason for the fight sequences. In between there are some nice comic moments – Krishna Bhagwan’s thread was the best of them all. Ali and Sunil are also good in a few scenes. Raghubabu as usual gets the same role as the villain’s comic sidekick and he is good too.

This film seems to have been made as a conscious attempt increase NTR’s audience base. If you go in expecting a regular NTR flick you’ll come out impressed as this is quite a stylized upgrade to the stuff he’s been doing until now. There are also some lines which explicitly speak about “class”ifying him to put across the point. Since this film is about NTR he does everything expected of him in style. The lengthy dialogues (with references to taathaiyya of course!), the fights and most importantly the dances. This time the moves which leave you wonderstruck are in the songs “Vayassunami” (reused from Vijay’s Pokkiri) and “I go crazy”. The only thing good about Hansika and Tanisha are that they aren’t hanging around for too long. Mani Sharma’s tunes are good and all the songs are nicely picturized. Owing to the “class”ification the fights also seem a bit restrained (in terms of flying people) when compared to other flicks. Meher Ramesh (quite a popular Kannada film director) makes a neat debut.

Finally, if you are a fan of NTR, Kantri is the summer-special treat you’ve been waiting for….if you aren’t then atleast you won’t crib about him for once.

Jalsa April 5, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Imagine this – Srinu Vytla has just finished scripting a film with Ravi Teja in the lead. He goes through it once and thinks “Hey, this thing is just like my previous flicks…hmm…the humor looks pretty ok. I am not great at conceiving well rounded plots but this one seems even worse than the ones I’ve done before. Maybe I need to take a break and start again”. He then throws this script into the dustbin.

Somehow (don’t ask how) this thing ends up in Trivikram’s hand. He goes through it too and thinks “nothing great in this one but still a pity it’s ended up in someone’s dustbin. Wait a second…I am quite free now, maybe I can use this one…just need to spruce it up a bit with some of my dialogues. Oh…most importantly, who should I make this with? I’ve already worked with Mahesh last. Who else is there in the same league??? Pawan!!! but why would he do a script like this one? On second thoughts – why wouldn’t he! He hasn’t had a hit for seven long years and this one can atleast be the minimum guarantee film he might be looking for. Let’s call him then”. That was for you the untold story behind the making of Jalsa – remember…you read it here first.

Now let’s come to the actual film itself. I absolutely had no clue the kind of frenzy this film had generated until I came across the crazy advance booking lines a few days back. Touted to be the biggest South Indian release ever (in terms of the number of theatres/prints etc..) Jalsa had a lot of hopes pinned on it. The obvious question – does it live up to the hype? A screeching nooooooooo!

Is it then a really bad film? Not exactly. Like I mentioned before, if a certain person would have had second thoughts about throwing the script away, the same movie would have opened to extremely positive reviews. Anyways, there’s no use of talking what this film could have been. I don’t know what else is there to write about this film. You’ve seen all this before umpteen times – the same actors doing the same things all over again. Of course, since this a Trivikram film you’ll have some of those cheeky dialogues and funny sequences but they can’t bear the burden of a sloppy film like this. Even the familiar Devisri Prasad tunes, which sound quite catchy (especially the chart-topping title track) completely lose their sheen on screen.

Pawan Kalyan’s only consolation might be that this one won’t bomb at the box office and at best clear his post-Khushi track record. For me the best thing about Jalsa were it’s nicely done hoardings put up all over the place. So, finally – should you go and watch Jalsa? I would say yes – but after 2-3 weeks when the hype finally comes to terms with the film’s content.