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Surya S/o Krishnan (Vaaranam Aayiram) November 16, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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Apart from being a Gautham Menon-Surya film, this one was in the news during its launch for all the wrong reasons. In the first place this was announced out of the blue only after a couple of films (with the same combination) supposed to begin shooting got scrapped. Also, there were major changes in the casting of the female leads. It’s only very recently I came to know that this was intended to be a personal tribute from Gautham Menon to his father.

Following the death of his father Krishnan (Surya), Surya (Surya) – an army major currently on a rescue mission reminisces his whole life and the relationship he shared with his father; who we get to know turns out to be his inspiration and support at every point in his life. Surya recalls his mom Malini (Simran) telling him how his father “swept me off my feet” in college – through a wonderful flashback sequence. We then move through Surya’s teenage years and college life following which he falls in love with Meghna (Sameera Reddy) and decides to pursue her to the US where she is studying. I can’t say more about what happens from thereon because that would involve giving away major spoilers. Needless to say, every major step Surya takes in his life is inspired by “how my dad would have done it”.

Gautham’s film is uninhibitedly personal and absolutely honest. Apart from including some action episodes for commercial reasons he never really strays from what he is trying to convey. The result is somewhat a self-indulgent effort which is just over 3 hours long but once I was sucked into the director’s vision and the actors’ performances I totally fell in love with it. After the initial wooing sequence between Krishnan and Malini I knew there was no way I am not going to like this one. And it just keeps getting better (for most part). The film actually spans a period of about 30 years and it is so rare to see how much careful thought has been put into the visual detailing of different periods – be it the actors’ costumes or the the surrounding props (vehicles, buildings, billboards etc..). Even the sequences in the US are quite refreshing in terms of the locations. The dialogue is quite contemporary and urban (with the liberal use of English) – however I felt there was a voice-over overdose which was definitely not needed for each and every scene. Harris Jayaraj – in his last collaboration with Menon belts out another hit soundtrack but it is the way he’s experimented with the background score which really stands out.

And now the best part of the movie – Surya. Though he has had great performances to boast of before, I think he’s been quite unlucky when it comes his talent being recognized. Sometimes those films haven’t done well and if they indeed have done well it was overshadowed by a much bigger actor/film. I can only pray that it doesn’t happen this time. For if this film doesn’t do well, not doubt one of the most memorable performances you’ll ever see would go down the drain. Surya gets to play a range or characters right from a teenager to an old man (in a sense he actually does more than that for even the father’s character goes through the same cycle). Be it the body language or the styling, he is just so convincing in each and every frame. And that believability is brought about without the use of any prosthetic make-up whatsoever. He has lost/gained weight (even got a six-pack) as each character demands and by changing his look (hair/beard/moustache) appropriately for each role he plays.

In the past, whenever an actor has gotten to play multiple roles (or even a single “different” standout role) the temptation for some self-serving over-the-top histrionics has always marred the outcome a bit (though that’s precisely the reason they receive accolades). Here, more than anything else Surya’s nuanced, understated delivery for each character is the real stuff you’ve got to give credit for. He is however most comfortable doing his winsome routine chasing Sameera Reddy (check out the Visa Interview scene). Simran is wonderful as the mother. I think she should seriously think of taking up these kind of roles rather than making futile attempts at making a comeback as a leading lady. Sameera and Divya/Ramya look gorgeous (Sameera especially) and they are very impressive. Deepa Narendran – who plays Surya’s sister also makes a mark (don’t recall exactly where I’ve seen her before – probably a TV personality). To sum it up, all actors can easily cite this film for now when asked about their career best performance.

Though the film ends on a happy note, a strong feeling of poignancy took over me as I left the theatre. This is a film which will stay with me for a long time. I don’t know whether I can call it a great flick but Surya S/o Krishnan is unlike any other film you’ll get to see which makes it something you can’t afford to miss.

P.S: Initially I was planning to watch Dostana this weekend but I had to go for this one because I couldn’t get tickets for the former. Now, I am glad I didn’t.

Race March 22, 2008

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Director duo Abbas-Mustan (Baazigar, Khiladi) are famous for their thrillers. With their latest (and biggest) film, they have created a new genre. And I’d like to call this “twister”. Remember, you read the term here first!

Jokes apart, Abbas-Mustan seem to be intent on delivering a blockbuster after their recent flops. Along with writer Shiraz Ahmed (Aitraaz, Humraaz), they fill this film with everything. Stars, style, action, humor, a bit of raunch, sexy girls gyrating to foot-tapping numbers, and most of all – the largest serving ever of twists, turns, surprises and whatever else you want to call them.

Nothing is what it seems in this film. Actually, if you pay close attention, you might be able to guess most of the twists because the directors try their best not to confuse any section of the audience. But that doesn’t necessarily spoil the fun. Because even as you guess it, the surprise is upon you and its time to figure out the next one.

Now, in case you are still wondering, the story and all its glorious twists are pointless. This isn’t something that would happen anywhere else except an Abbas-Mustan film (or its imitations, depending on the success of this film).

The film has star power to bring the audience to the theatres but the acting isn’t special. Anil Kapoor charms his way through the second half and he makes you laugh. Sameera Reddy doesn’t do a bad job with her comic timing as his dumb assistant. Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna tread familiar terrain (the latter has been in too many Abbas-Mustan films) and don’t do anything different to stand out in particular. Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif are passable. Johnny Lever shows up after a long time in one scene.

The film does start off at a slow pace (editor Hussain Burmawala, the brother of the directors, might have been sleeping while editing the first 20 minutes or so) and just when it begins to seem uninteresting, the first surprise spices up things. The dialogue in the first half of this film isn’t impressive. This half lacks humor but the second half fills that void. Pritam provides some hit dance numbers but the theme piece and the romantic Pehli Nazar Mein stand out (and I quite liked the Mujhpe To Jadoo number which wasn’t used in the film). The song visuals aren’t all that impressive and they seem one-dimensional. Allan Amin’s action sequences are good for the most part but a couple of them do fall short. But the action isn’t the prime focus of this film. Remember, this is no Dhoom 2 and anyone who expects it to be might be disappointed.

After reading all this, anyone should be clear that terms like sense or logic do not go well with the description of this film. Questions like “Why did he do that?” and “What was the necessity for that?” are counterintuitive. The number of surprises may numb your senses and vex you. But it can all be fun if you prepare for it. Films like Dhoom 2 and Om Shanti Om are not enjoyed for their stories or realism or character development and neither is this movie. This is an upmarket Abbas-Mustan thriller that has enough masala to go with its shortcomings and it can be a guilty pleasure.