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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.

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Neninthe December 29, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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After two dumbed-down attempts at entertaining the audience in Bujjigadu and Chirutha, writer-director Puri Jagannath comes out with a better product. While those films lacked interesting plots, abounded in unnecessary characters and the latter was, more or less, a bunch of random events strung together by a wafer-thin storyline, this film overcomes most of those problems. Puri has admirably woven the screenplay, incorporating numerous issues faced by the various players in the Telugu film industry and that is the USP of this film.

While the film focuses mainly on the struggle of an assistant director (Ravi Teja), his love story with a film dancer (Siya) and his confrontation with a goon (Supreet), these did not really hold my interest. Instead, the minor interludes – the story of a fan, the adulation for his favorite star and the havoc it wreaks on his life, the fans’ dual response to a star’s flop film, the audiences’ dishonest responses for television, the problems faced by producers in an industry with a low success rate and so on – are much more engrossing.

Where the film fails is in its presentation as a commercial film. The songs never seem like a part of the film and some of the action could have been avoided. They don’t really gel with the interesting and very believable issues being tackled. This could have been a better film but Puri needs to applauded for even going this far with a big star.

While Ravi Teja does well as the main protagonist, the film gives a chance for some of the supporting players to get noticed. Younger actors like Sairam Shankar (Danger, 143) and Subbaraju (Shock) get good parts as the fan and the star respectively. Debutant Siya is alright for her part and Supreet looks menacing. Seasoned players like Sayaji Shinde and Brahmanandam (as director Idli Viswanath) chip in and Mumaith Khan gets a cameo.

Chakri’s score has a couple of hummable tunes but nothing particularly noteworthy (and his singing is as irritating as ever).

If you are looking for entertainment, you can safely skip this one. If you are in the mood for a relatively sensible commercial Telugu film (considering that the oxymoron were possible), this wouldn’t be a bad choice.

Satyabhama March 16, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Amateurish direction, extremely lame dialogue and incomptent acting mar this film. Even though it takes a considerable amount of inspiration from a watchable romantic comedy (50 First Dates), this film is a pain to watch.

For those who are unaware of the plot, it is about a girl who has short-term memory loss (which, at one unintentionally funny point in the film is termed Amnesia – a horrible disease of forgetfulness or something like that) and re-lives the same day for a year. A young man falls in love with her and decides to improve the situation that she is in.

Debutant writer-director Sreehari Nanu’s inept handling of the content and his actors makes this a bad film. The dependable Bhoomika falters in a number of scenes, though she could have been an adequate replacement for Drew Barrymore. Sivaji has a horrible hairstyle and is unbearable at times. Chitram Seenu and Babloo irritate. The limited presence of the more watchable supporting cast members like Brahmanandam, Sunil and Chandra Mohan means that there is not much respite for the audience. Chakri’s soundtrack isn’t great and his ability to ruin decent tunes by singing them himself makes it a lacklustre effort overall.

Keep away from this one!

Mr. Medhavi February 21, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Though not a huge hit, this is definitely the first genuinely good Telugu film of the year. His previous two films weren’t successful but one can say Neelakanta is back in form with this one.

Mr. Medhavi – translated as Mr. Intellectual is about Vishwaksen (Raja) who since childhood believes that people’s emotions/thoughts can be “calculated” and hence easily be manipulated for anything. He is quite successful in life with his formula but trouble starts when he tries the same to manipulate his childhood sweetheart (Genelia) to fall in love with him. His tricks actually backfire and he ends up in the uncomfortable situation of having to act as a matchmaker between her and the guy (Sonu Sood) she confesses being in love with.

Despite the predictability of the twists the movie entertains throughout. A lot of people have complained about the pacing but I found it just right. Ironically, the only issue I actually found with this movie is the overuse of the words Medhavi/Medhassu in every episode. I think the audience who watches such films doesn’t need to be reminded constantly that they are watching a clever film. A little bit of subtlety would still drive the point home more gracefully.

The casting seems to be perfect here. Raja most of the time has to sport a smug look on his face without talking much but carries out his part well. Genelia gets a meaty role and does complete justice to it…she looks gorgeous too. Sonu Sood seems to have made a permanent place and both Hindi and Telugu cinema by playing parts which are too important to be left to lesser actors and not big enough to warrant a star. He has a changed appearance from the last time I saw him and deilvers yet another controlled performance.

The best and the most entertaining part of the movie are the scenes featuring Dharmavarapu Subramanyam and M.S Narayana…..As the bickering managers in the office they generate the maximum laughs both in the first half as well as the nicely crafted “HR seminar” sequence in the second. The good thing about Chakri’s music is that there isn’t much of it to disturb the flow. I liked the background score though. One man show – Neelakanta deilvers a clear winner this time.

Krishna February 11, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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You might be forgiven for thinking that V V Vinayak and Srinu Vaitla directed this film together because, while the action and mind games are typical Vinayak stuff, the comedic elements (especially the oppressed turning oppressor aspect that includes a drunken thrashing) seem straight out of Vaitla’s book. This is quite a prototypical big-hero action film that is saved by the humor, which I believe is the primary reason for its box-office success (helped further by the weak competition during the favorable Sankranthi season).

Writer-director Vinayak isn’t new to gimmicks but he repeats some of his tricks this time. Flying vehicles aren’t as interesting now even if he replaces the Sumo with another SUV or even a lorry. One has to say, though, that some of the vehicles fly quite beautifully. Nevertheless, this isn’t the best thing in the film.

Brahmanandam is.

He isn’t the star of the film but he is the one that makes you laugh most and it is hard to not remember him first. Ravi Teja is obviously one of the more entertaining stars around and he does his job without really standing out this time. Trisha gets precious little to do but she looks good and her hard-to-miss-or-forget tattoo placement is something that I expect will feature in a lot of discussion among the audience. And then there is Mukul Dev as the main antagonist. He seems to be imitating his brother but his work here is better than what I’ve seen him do in Bollywood.

The songs in the film break the momentum every single time and are a bit of a pain to endure as the tunes aren’t special and neither are the visuals. The audience let out a collective sigh when the final song commenced. Ironically, it was the best of the lot, the typical pumped-up prelude-to-the-climax number lifted shamelessly (composer Chakri could have probably been forced to so) from Vidyasagar’s Gilli number Appadi Podu (and watching Ravi Teja dance isn’t quite the same as watching Vijay dance). The lyrics are especially lame. “Taratha ettukupotha” filled with gibberish and the mixed language “Tu mera dilbar O priyathama” are cringeworthy instead of being hip or something. Lyricist Chandrabose might have written the songs keeping the masses in mind but I think he is capable of much better.

This film entertains for a considerable amount of its length, thanks to writer-director Vinayak’s adept handling of the comedy and the performances of the actors in those scenes. Watch it if you must, but only for the humor.