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Gunde Jhallumandi April 13, 2009

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Director Madan’s most recent venture is a romantic comedy about a girl who creates an imaginary boyfriend to avoid the temptation of love and a village simpleton who goes to the city to get a degree that will allow him to become the Sarpanch of his village. As you might imagine, they fall in love and the imaginary boyfriend plays the most important part in the development of their relationship.

Debutant Aditi Sharma isn’t bad but Uday Kiran (who has gained a lot of weight) isn’t all that watchable anymore. The cast isn’t one of the film’s assets but its music is. Keeravani’s soundtrack is a mixed bag but has a couple of really good tunes. Telusa Manasa is a signature Keeravani melody and equally interesting is the naughty Pavada Kastha but its evocative lyrics are completely wasted as the song is played in the background while the opening credits roll.

Unlike Madan’s previous venture, Pellaina Kothalo, which was quite bearable and was based on an identifiable premise, this one is all contrived. As the absurd premise clearly manifests, the film aims to be a light entertainer and has a lot of farcical moments. Some of the silliness puts a smile on your face as does some of the dialogue but it has its share of irritating moments too. I’d put this in the “watch it if you really have nothing better to see” category.

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Sasirekha Parinayam January 11, 2009

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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I just couldn’t get myself to not see this film after I saw the trailer. The enduring image of Genelia, fully dressed in her wedding attire and jewellery rising from the river was too hard to resist (and no bikinis can top that).

A bride on the run. The guy who helps her along the way. And the love that blossoms. Sasirekha Parinayam is a bit more than that but I wouldn’t want to give away some of the surprise elements.

Like his recent ventures, writer-director Krishna Vamsi’s latest is another watchable film. The plot is quite simple (it is a road movie like Jab We Met but isn’t anything like that film). The humor is appealing. The music (Mani Sarma) is good. The performances are impressive. The film doesn’t bore you for the most part. And it also has a message.

KV tackles another social issue this time. The lack of importance given to the bride’s feelings/opinions in arranged marriages (of course, that may not always be the case). KV tries to remind the audience about the responsibilities of a married woman in the Indian society and how the transition might scare a young girl, especially if she isn’t given a choice. But this is only a part of the film that is otherwise looking to entertain.

I was initially worried about watching another KV film with a joint family in it. However, my apprehensions were soon removed. The film revolves around Genelia’s Sasirekha and Tarun’s Anand. Sasirekha is the bubbly type of girl that Genelia has played often in the recent past. Despite that, she still gets the scope to perform (the scene where she is drunk and the one in the Auto instantly come to mind) and she shines once again. Tarun makes a good foil but he is overshadowed by Genelia. Nevertheless, this is a good comeback for him. Ahuti Prasad plays a role reminiscent of his part in Chandamama and I am still thoroughly amused by the accent and dialogue delivery.

Despite everything, the film still fell a little short of my expectations. I have come to expect a lot from KV but he probably has simpler goals. So, there isn’t anything particularly novel in the film. Except for one smart misdirection, it is quite predictable. Also post-interval, there isn’t much to really hold your interest because you know the what and the how doesn’t matter all that much. Nevertheless, the film is an entertaining commercial venture. Don’t expect too much from this one because it is a Krishna Vamsi film and you should find it an enjoyable experience.

Mozhi May 17, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Tamil.
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In the beginning of this film, Prakash Raj makes a joke about ‘the daughters of rich landlords falling in love with beggars’ being a common scenario in recent Tamil cinema. I expected then that this film would not fall into the trap of creating an unexpected love story without plausible reasons. But it definitely does and that disappointed me a little.

The love here is between a handsome young keyboard player and a beautiful deaf and dumb girl. The boy proposes but the girl disposes. Will the situation improve? Will they get together in the end? It is as simple as it seems with the physical disability being the reason for its existence.

The movie does have some nice material but the problem for me was that director Radhamohan could have decided to make it a bit more subtle. A lot more subtle, actually. That, of course, means that this movie is made for the mainstream audience (despite its purported critical acclaim) and that is not necessarily a bad thing (as substantiated by its box office success).

The first half of this film breezes through quite quickly but it gets a bit turgid towards the conclusion when it moves into the romantic comedy conflict zone. One interesting aspect is that you don’t feel for the dumb girl with a high self esteem and short temper. The film makes her seem normal enough to be unlikable, which is quite unexpected in a commercial film, but it focuses too much on her disability to treat her as a normal person. A movie that could successfully achieve this would be worth a watch but this isn’t it.

I wouldn’t rave about Jyothika’s work too much but Prithviraj and Prakash Raj make an impression fas does Swarnamalya. It was surprising to see Brahmanandam in a major comic part in a Tamil film but it is the sort of role that he gets in every second film. The tunes composed by Vidyasagar are quite beautiful (that was what pulled me to this movie in the first place) and the lyrics (Vairamuthu) seemed good too (the subtitles were definitely much better that what I’ve seen earlier with DVDs of south Indian movies).

Overall, this is a reasonably entertaining film that isn’t a bad watch. Just don’t expect it to be a realistic portrayal of an uncommon love story.

Parting Shot: In a movie that projects itself to be sensitive, making fun of an obese kid is clearly a major faux pas.

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!

Bommarillu – Love makes life beautiful September 11, 2006

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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There was so much hype around this movie after it released. The audience was mesmerized. The critics raved. All the NRI students talked about the praise from Jeevi (the very famous online film critic for Idlebrain.com). Discussion boards were filled with comments comparing the movie to films like Ninne Pelladatha, Nuvve Kavali, Arya, Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana and even films of Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. So the expectations were humongous to say the least. However, I tried to keep my expectations low and watched the film. The verdict? When I left the theatre I felt that this was a beautiful film. As I continued to mull over the screenplay, I realised that comparisons to some of those movies is not really uncalled for.

Recently, when I wrote about Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, I mentioned that there were few movies that aptly depicted a conflict arising due to love between two people. This movie depicts such a conflict realistically. In that movie there was a very relevant social issue like race that provided the conflict. In this movie it is a more simple issue yet very relevant to the Indian community as such. I mentioned earlier in the discussion about Good Will Hunting that Indian parents tend to decide most things for their kids (or at least have a great influence on the decisions) from their career path to their life partner. The issue here is about parents who believe that they are doing the best they can for their children without realising that what is best in their minds is not really what the child needs or wants. This is the crux of the film. Some of the families that came to this movie enjoyed it as much as I did but little did they realise that they themselves are doing some of the things that the father does in the film. In fact some of my friends probably don’t realise enough that we would probably commit some of the same mistakes that the previous generations have been committing. Kids who are like Subbalakshmi (Neha) may not find an issue while kids like Sidhu (Siddharth) will suffocate.

Some of my friends ask me if I mean to say that our parents are committing mistakes when they in fact have our best interests in their mind. Having best interests and doing the suitable thing are two different issues. Every individual has a justification for every action however wrong it may be. We do not act until we satisfy ourselves that it is fine to act that way. Mistakes are a part of every individual’s life and just like us, our parents are no exception no matter how much we love them. I have many friends whose descriptions fit Sidhu, Haasini and Subbulakshmi in the film as far as the relationships with a parent goes (and this relationship might differ between the two parents too). Some have more freedom while some do not have as much breathing space to let their feelings out while others get used to a dependent life and cannot even take a simple decision without enough support. I am generalizing but you should get the picture. I was really moved in the final confrontation between the father and son when I realized that there is so much love, affection and commitment from both parents and children and yet it still creates a confused and unsatisfied child (some people may say that it was the child’s fault because he did not open up earlier but it is the upbringing that makes the child what he is and that is the reason that the child cannot open up to his father). Simple understanding of what a child wants would have gone a long way in creating a happier child, not to mention a more satisfied parent.

Coming back to the movie (written and directed by Bhaskar), this is a magnificent screenplay first of all. We have had a writer-director like Chandrasekhar Yeleti (Aithe, Anukokunda Oka Roju) who has given us tight screenplays without loopholes or the inclusion of irrelevant matter. If Yeleti brought class to the thriller genre, Bhaskar brings the same class to the family entertainers. The brilliance of Bhaskar lies in the fact that the taut script is character driven more than anything else. At many places in the movie, you feel like he might compromise the characters but he stays true to them (especially when Genelia speaks up after the “week” is over). The characters and dialogues are close to reality and reminded me of many people throughout. Of course, the script may not feel perfect to some but better ones are rare in Telugu cinema of recent times. The director rarely tries to manipulate you and the drama nevers gets melodramatic. The movie is abundant in humor as is the current trend for family cinema. There is some really neat stuff here (check out what happens as the titles roll). As a director too Bhaskar is good and there is a lot of attention to detail. Bhaskar seems to be a perfectionist and he definitely has a strong will to succeed. I think he is a superb find though a couple more movies would be needed to decide how good he really is.

Siddharth does an excellent job as the son whose thoughts/ideas/decisions are nipped in the bud. His character is key to the movie and his casting is a good decision. His telugu diction is not really perfect but it is pardonable considering his effort to learn the language. His dances are passable. Genelia’s Haasini character is very believable to me because I have closely known a few people who are childlike in their behavior and are always happy and bubbly. Their enthusiasm rubs over to you. Sidhu’s character falling in love with Haasini’s is very believable because of the fact that she is able to do what he cannot (though love at first sight may seem a bit of a stretch). Haasini’s characterization reminded me of Rekha’s in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khoobsoorat (one of his great comedies which is not as famous as his others). If you did not like Siddharth in Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana or Salman Khan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, you will not like Genelia here but believe me such people do exist. I really did not believe that Genelia could act before this one but the director gets her to emote well (though she overdoes it here and there). Some of the mannerisms are definitely based on the director’s observations. She dances horribly (she actually jumps instead of dancing) but doesn’t do much of it anyway. Savita Reddy’s dubbing has really gotten monotonous over time.

Prakash Raj is perfectly suited for the role of the father (you are also reminded of another excellent portrayal of a father by him in Trivikram’s Nuvve Nuvve). Jayasudha does not have much to do overall but her expressions from time to time add to the movie, justifying her presence. From among the rest of the cast, Sunil is as always excellent (he is one of the few comedians that shows an appreciable variation in the way he portrays different roles). Satya Krishnan (who had a great role in Sekhar Kammula’s Anand) does not have much to do here. Neha (who acted in V.V.Vinayak’s Dil) gets a cameo and does well.

The music by Devi Sri Prasad is very good and so is his background score (compared to the composers from this generation like R.P.Patnaik and Chakri, Devi Sri is the only one that does a decent background score). He comes back to form with this one. If I had to pick a couple of songs, I would pick Appudo Ippudo (sung pretty well by Siddharth with Devi Sri chipping in the background to great effect) and Bommani Geesthe (reminds you of an Ilayaraaja number from Chinna Rayudu but is definitely not a lift) apart from the music bit. The lyrics of Bommani Geesthe are quite good (Bhaskarabhatla).

Coming to the comparisons with various movies. Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge which ran for over 500 weeks (and is probably still running in Maratha Mandir) had many good things about it but it still manipulated your emotions. The plot wasn’t as character driven as this one and the conflict isn’t as identifiable. Karan Johar’s flicks are all about manipulating your emotions (though they have great humor) as are many flicks from the Chopra/Johar camp. Krishna Vamsi’s Ninne Pelladatha had little manipulation and great identification factor except for the conflict (which to some was not as believable). Vijaya Bhaskar’s Nuvve Kavali, scripted by Trivikram had the best humor of the time when it released but it never had the brilliant characterization of this one though the conflict was believable. Prabhu Deva’s Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana lacked in originality being a mish mash (an excellent one though) of so many bollywood flicks ranging from Maine Pyar Kiya to Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (M.S.Raju’s script is to blame). Sukumar’s Arya was never really that realistic though the Arya character is what drives that movie. I could go on but comparisons with what are favorite movies for many is probably unnecessary. My point here is that the character driven screenplay, the identification factor and lack of manipulation of your emotions are the key strengths of the movie.

Don’t expect too much from this movie (you may not like it as much as you should if you expect too much). This is a great family entertainer even if you don’t really care about story, screenplay or direction. Watch it even if you do not want to think. Watch it if you enjoy cinema.