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Oy! July 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The first frame of Oy! opens with the director stating his admiration for and admitting his inspiration from Erich Segal’s “Love Story“. In a further (rather too honest) admission, the second frame features a bigger list of about 10 movies or so which inspired him. That second frame is visible on the screen for less than a second – maybe we were really not meant to see it. I think it’s because after watching Oy! some of the audience members would try to figure out where exactly those “inspirations” were and hardly find any.

In essence, Oy! is supposedly a “terminal illness” flick which tries hard at every moment not to appear like one. Probably a good idea if you don’t want to alienate viewers who “cannot accept a heroine dying in the end”. Debutante Anand Ranga seriously needs to get a few basic concepts right. First of all trying to make a tragic story into happy one doesn’t translate to inserting insipid “comedy” tracks whose only connection to the movie is that the actors in them share a scene or two with lead pair. More disturbing is his conception of an “ideal woman” in Shamili’s character – whose simplicity is linked with ease to her dumb religiosity and superstitions.

Shamili is a undoubtedly a fine actress and one has to give her credit for pulling off such a badly written role. Siddharth is a livewire as usual in yet again a role tailor-made for him. Unfortunately, he seems to have been caught like many others in the alternate movie jinx – on the brighter side we can hope that his next much talked about big-budget venture might be a good one. Apart from the lead pair, Yuvan Shankar Raja’s score is the only good thing about this movie. The best numbers show up when the movie still hasn’t begun its downhill ride. My pick is the title track (extremely well rendered by Siddharth) which is still playing in my head.

Oy! doesn’t make you cry when it tries to be tragic nor does it make you laugh when it tries to be funny. I feel some of the reviews of this film have been too generous; however given the involvement of Siddharth with this venture – the outcome is indeed disappointing. Worth only a watch in fast-forward mode when the DVD comes out.

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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.

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”.

Nenu Meeku Telusa? October 13, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Aditya (Manchu Manoj) suffers from an amnesiac condition which triggers complete memory loss after a night’s sleep. As days pass for Aditya the viewer isn’t quite sure if the person suffering from this condition is the hero or the director. At the end, there doesn’t seem to any improvement as far as the hero is concerned; the director shows symptoms of recovering but it is already too late.

Nenu Meeku Telusa? is a classic case of how to ruin a nice concept. Aditya goes through a daily routine guided by his own recorded voice. There are only two other people who know about his condition. One of them (who happens to be his uncle) gets killed and circumstantial evidence points to Aditya. How does he get out of this mess? The films starts off quite promisingly and the daily routine of Aditya is very believable too. Then progressively irrelevant and boring scenes start popping now and then. Despite many inconsistencies and flaws, things still look good at the intermission. But like I suggested before, writer-director Ajay Shastri seems to have no clue of where to begin shooting after a night’s sleep. Sorry to say but what starts out as one of the most interesting films of this year will have no trouble finding its place in the list of worsts.

Ajay Shastri (credited for story, screenplay, dialogues and direction) has to take the blame for all of it. Manchu Manoj is the only redeeming factor of this film. Depsite not having a hit ever, there have been good things written about him. This is the first film of his I am seeing and I found him very impressive. Unlike his elder brother (who has been promoted more by his family until now), he is an absolute natural. As Aditya, the believability he brings to the role is worth a mention. He is completely at ease with comedy and action too. There’s an eloborately choreographed eight minute long foot-chase sequence though marred unnecessarily by the use of still/slow motion shots just to prove that there is no double being used. Like most things in the movie it is absolutely irrelevant to the plot but still something to take home from the ruins.

Riya Sen is alright but Sneha Ullal as an IPS officer is truly – as Brahmanandam would exclaim – a “What the Frock!” case of miscasting. Ms. Cutie with her stock expressions would find it hard to convince you that she’s capable of killing a mosquito and here we are supposed to accept her as an IPS special investigative officer!!! If this were a far better film then Brahmanandam could have added his “Barmani” to the list of his most memorable roles. No matter how inconsistently it’s handled, he still make you laugh the moment he says “What the Frock!” along with the hilarious expression/sound he makes.

A couple of songs are good while the rest don’t work. The camerawork with a huge overdose of still shots and slow-motions are quite distracting. A bout of merciless editing might make the film better but not enough to make one like it. To quote Brahmanandam once again – he literally ends the movie with a final “What the Frock!” and so do the viewers.

Chintakayala Ravi October 6, 2008

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The catchy title itself lets you know what to expect from this one. Moreover with Venkatesh in the lead things look all set for a great fun-filled entertainer. Does Chintakayala Ravi deliver? Well it does in parts. On the whole it is a decent entertainer but doesn’t fall in the league of Venky’s previous blockbusters.

Chintakayala Ravi (Venkatesh) works as a bartender in the US. Initially supposed to study for being a Software Engineer, he lets go of his money in unforseen circumstances due to which he ends up in his current profession. However, everyone back home (especially her mom) is still made to believe he really is working as a Software Engineer. Based on this notion they find a girl Lavanya (Mamata Mohandas) for him. Now Lavanya has a friend in the US – Sunita (Anushka) whose help she uses to verify Ravi’s credentials. What happens of him and his marriage when Ravi’s true identity is disclosed is for you to see.

The story though not new is nevertheless much welcome but director Yogesh hasn’t capitalized on that fully. the humor works only in parts relying more on Kona Venkat’s one-liners than genuinely funny situations. I felt this one actually worked more as a love story (which begins quite late into the movie) than a comedy. Venkatesh is completely at home doing his usual stuff and he effectively holds the entire film. Despite the presence of the usual gang of comedians, he ends up stealing the show mostly. Anushka for a change gets a nice role to play while Mamata doesn’t have much to do. There are a few cameos too – Nikita was quite funny and NTR does a jig in one of the songs.

Vishal-Shekhar’s music has nothing great to write home about except for the first song. They shouldn’t have used their “Jag Soona” number from OSO in this film as it resulted in some unprovoked comments and laughter during some of the heavy duty moments. Better humor and probably doing a bit more justice to the romantic track would have worked wonders for Chintakayala Ravi but still it manages to be an above average Venky entertainer.

Baladhoor August 19, 2008

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Somehow pushing in a “family” in between doesn’t make a “clean family entertainer”. Udayasankar – best known for his blockbuster “Kalisundam Raa” few years ago tries his hand again with a feel-good family flick but cheated is the only thing you’ll feel after watching this.

For starters, you know a film isn’t going anywhere when Ravi Teja is talking less and fighting more. He plays this regular good-for-nothing guy who under certain circumstances gets thrown out of his family and has to win back their love and trust – especially of his uncle (Krishna). Successful films with this storyline have mostly relied of fun moments to sail through but the director decides to do something different here and his definition of fun just seems to be those flying-people-fights. Ravi Teja does most of those while Krishna is also brought in towards the end to throw a couple of punches. Whatever little laughs are there are brought in by our hero and Sunil but even that won’t make you smile too much. Brahmanandam is also given a lame routine to perform. Anushka gets to do her trademark slutty act once again. In one of the scenes, she makes multiple references to something shocking “she did when she was 13 years old”. Unfortunately, the censor board muted it out and kept everyone guessing.

In the first place you are subjected to a flick which starts being average, then turns boring and finally becomes almost unbearable….and on that you have these songs which don’t seem to run out. The collective groans of the audience when they realized that the song which they thought was the last in the film actually wasn’t is noteworthy.

Baladhoor is the most disappointing Telugu flick I’ve seen in the last few months and even if you are a die-hard Ravi Teja fan you might want to have second thoughts about watching this.