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Prayanam June 1, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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You fall in love with a girl you see at an airport and make up your mind to make her fall in love with you before she catches a plane to go and get married to her fiance. Would such a thing work in real life? Well, in all probability not but the bigger question – Does Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s Prayanam work? Hmm…intermittently.

After trying his hand not so successfully at making a regular Tollywood actioner, Yeleti does a U-turn to make a full fledged comic romance with quite an interesting premise. But apart from the basic plot there is hardly anything in the screenplay that holds your attention. The onus here is more on the individual performers to get their act right and this is where the film scores much better. Manoj has always been considered a fine actor despite not having a single hit till date; and here he succeeds once again in a completely different role from his previous ventures. He is quite charming as the smitten loverboy especially because this is a part you generally do not expect a regular hero to play (with the exception of Siddharth I think – but even his films manage to slip in a fight scene or two).

The female lead Harika is absolutely bland bearing a single facial expression throughout. No matter what the situation, her reaction (which is complete non-reaction) is always the same. The pick of the lot is Kalpika who arguably steals every scene she is featured in. To quote Anupam Kher from a forgettable film – She is just “too qweet”. Going by the scenes in the first half, I was actually expecting a parallel romantic thread to brew between her and Tamim (another great find), but nothing exciting like that happens and disappointingly both their screen times are largely reduced in the second half. Janardhan also shines especially in the “Ugra Naram – man with muscle” story narration episode with Brahmanandam. The latter has ample footage but isn’t given a well etched role like the others.

So, should you take this Prayanam? My answer would be a resounding yes if I have to compare this with some other recent “blockbusters”. However, as a film coming from Chandrasekhar Yeleti this isn’t quite up to the mark but then again everday I encounter life size hoardings of upcoming potential blockbusters like Pista, Ride, Current, Aa Okkadu, Naa Style Veru and what not – which makes me feel I was extremely lucky to watch Prayanam.

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.

Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam February 20, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam could have been just another feel good family entertainer on the lines of Dil Raju’s uber-successful flicks – with the underlying thread this time being separated parents. This part is built around the usual¬† boy-meets-girl and boy-trying-to-win-over-girl’s-father stuff. What makes it stand out is however is the effervescent lead pair of Siddharth and Tamannaah who complement each other so well – something you hardly seen in Telugu mainstream cinema.

The film is mostly lighthearted and even if Brahmanandam’s act happens to be the one which doesn’t impress relatively; still watching him in that hilarious “Geethanjali” gag suffices for it. Venu Madhav actually gets a better role as the hero’s sidekick. Prakash Raj, Ramyakrishna and Nazar are fine as usual. Another thing you’ll take home is the music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. It’s a wonderful score and the picturization of the songs is the icing on the cake. The title track is extremely catchy but the one I absolutely loved is the “Subramanyam” number. In terms of pure content there is hardly anything new about this film but the extremely good packaging and other factors combined make it a cool watch.

Apart from the film itself, I was much impressed with the really nice poster campaign – don’t get to see such things too often. Siddharth is in top form though it must be a cakewalk for him to do such roles now. Tamannaah might have a slightly subdued role but she always makes her presence felt – finally an actress who can be given a meaty role to handle and who is not called Genelia. The producer and director go by the names Bujji and Dolly but thankfully their work isn’t as frivolous.

On the whole, KIKK is a fun-filled outing – go for it!

Maska January 26, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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It was touted to be the biggie in this year’s Sankranti race but anybody aware of the recent track record of filmmakers M.S Raju and B Gopal would have decided to give it a miss or watch it with rather lowered expectations. I wasn’t too keen to check this out either – the same old promos didn’t do much to help. Still I took the risk and thankfully for once I wasn’t too wrong.

Maska is still the same old Tollywood action fare interlaced with some humor. Whether one ends up liking such films or not depends purely on how well the humor works and mercifully in this case it succeeds to cross the threshold. It looks like most of the film was directed by M.S Raju while only the parts involving the factionist baddies was given to B. Gopal; only late until the second half does one get to see both threads coming together. Raju seems to have learnt from his previous failures and this time he succeeds in putting in quite a few entertaining episodes without really losing track at any point of time. The leading man Ram together with Sunil (in his meatiest sidekick role till date) are really the reason why this film works.

Ram wasn’t noticed much in his most recent hit Ready but Maska gives him the perfect platform to showcase his abilities. He is very impressive in all departments and irrespective of the ultimate fate of this film this should be his ticket into the top league. As always in South Indian Cinema (read Telugu and Tamil), what starts out as a one-time novelty slowly turns into an irritating adjunct in almost every film. I am referring to the trend of every “youth” hero performing some unbelievable dance movies in a song. It was nice when atleast those steps were part of a song and weren’t given any special attention. Later we saw special music pieces being created within a song to accommodate those steps. This movie goes one step further and before showing off its hero’s skills we are shown a “Don’t try this at home” warning. I guess one has to get used to it like we’ve already done for those stupid actions sequences.

Sunil is also very good after a long time. At certain points in the movie it seemed that he would be paried off with the other girl (once Ram finally settles on who he wants to go ahead with). She might have done similar roles before but Jhansi is still hilarious with her Nellore accent. Coming to the leading ladies, Hansika seems a lot better than in her previous outing – now she can actually boast of getting her lip sync right atleast 20 percent of the time. Sheela is also ok (obviously far better than Hansika). Chakri’s songs are fast paced and don’t pop up without notice; also thanks mostly to the vibrant choreography you don’t really complain about them for once.

Maska, on the whole is a time pass entertainer which quite frankly surpassed my expectations purely because I didn’t hope much out of it. M.S Raju may finally have a reason to smile even if not a big one.

Mee Sreyobhilashi January 16, 2009

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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I believe this film was a moderate success and got a lot of critical (assuming all our reviewers can be called critics) acclaim. I am compelled to write about this overrated film as it has apparently won the Nandi award for the Best Film (2007). Among other lame selections at the Nandi awards this year, this one caught my eye.

The plot revolves around a bunch of strangers making a pact to die together through a suicide that is made to look like an accident. The reasons for their decisions and the outcome of their attempt is what the film is about.

The theme was apparently inspired from a Japanese film called Ikinai and writer-director Eshwar Reddy manages to weave a social message into the plot. That is the primary reason for the accolades garnered by this film. Sure, I understand it. After having to watch essentially the same action film rehashed and released twice every month, this “offbeat” “message” film could feel like a masterpiece.

I was put off by the amateurish direction with repeated attempts (unsuccessful, in my case) at overselling the emotions through intentional hamming by the obedient actors, accompanied by the loud and annoying background score (not to mention the repeated use of the depressing song in the background). And all this from the beginning of the film when you don’t really know the characters and aren’t ready to feel sorry (or feel anything at all) for them. As the movie progresses, you get to know the characters who don’t really have compelling reasons for suicide and you are left feeling sorry for this moronic bunch for entirely different reasons.

To its credit, the film moves along well, has some moderately humorous moments and a happy ending. Watch this only if you don’t mind emotional manipulation and can tolerate the inept execution.

King December 29, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The last time there was a major dent in Sreenu Vaitla’s then moderately successful career was when he made Andarivadu with Chiranjeevi. I haven’t seen that film and so cannot comment on what probably went wrong there. His latest flick King coming after three successive hits (and obviously with a lot of expectations) almost proves that a big star can be jinxed for him. I said jinxed because everything seems right here but hardly anything works.

He has a nice plot (various inspirations/lifts notwithstanding) with umpteen situations promising potential guffaws but the end result is more like a Sreenu Vaitla jokes-falling-flat carnival. It’s a twist filled mistaken identity plot so I won’t bother writing about it. Most of the plot/scene/character inspirations come from Anil Kapoor flicks like Race, Khel and Welcome. The director seems to have done his homework in creating quite an amusing screenplay but you wish he had rather spent his time in creating some real humor. The funny moments are forced mostly while the cast also doesn’t quite pull it off a considerable number of times.

Vaitla seems to have been overawed by the presence of Nagarjuna – who is made to act as if every scene was his introduction sequence. He is constantly involved in stupid fight sequences and mouthing seemingly “punch(less) dialogues” –¬† which I feel is not quite his forte. It’s sad because Nagarjuna has his own unique and subtle comic timing which could have worked wonders for a movie like this but seems to have been sacrificed in favor of “appealing to the masses”. He’s looking great though (especially after Don). Also Vaitla’s star vehicle Brahmanandam gets a bland role which as everything else in the movie seems promising but doesn’t quite work. Srihari is the only one who manages to get a better written role. Trisha does the same old stuff. Devisri Prasad’s music is average and most importantly unwanted.

The director seemed to have loved his film so much that he disposed off with the editor; otherwise a film like this would not have a runtime of over three hours. King is a huge disappointment primarily because a majority of people who’d venture into it are likely to have Dhee, Dubai Seenu and Ready still fresh in their minds – if you are someone who hasn’t seen any of these then maybe you won’t feel too bad but I cannot really say if you’d like it. The director’s next one on the cards is with Venkatesh…so I am in two minds whether to be excited about it. Let’s hope Vaitla spends more time on his script than about figuring out how to present his “big hero”.