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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.

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.