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Veedokkade (Ayan) May 4, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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I had seen the promos of the Tamil version during its release a couple of months back and I wasn’t impressed at all – especially with Surya S/o Krishnan still fresh in my mind. However the release of the Telugu version had me excited quite a bit given the glowing reviews and box office success which “Ayan” garnered.

Veedokkade turned out be a mixed bag but still making me wonder why the original ended up being such a huge hit. I found this one to be a better and well-packaged version of the beaten-to-death Telugu action film but apart from that there wasn’t anything to look out for. Director K.V Anand tries to fill in a bit of everything for everyone the result being a product which cannot completely satisfy anyone. Among the everythings the one being talked about most is the action – the much touted “Yamakasi” sequence is the highpoint of the enterprise. Actually, I didn’t know what it was before so for those of you who are wondering about what it might be – well it is the technical name for those awesome foot chase sequences you have seen in the last Bourne and Bond flicks. In this film too it has been wonderfully done and part of the reason I did not like this movie a lot was the result of heightened expectations at the end of this scene.

The most boring parts are the romance (on the brighter side, great to see Tamannaah return to normalcy after Ananda Thandavam) and the surprisingly insipid music by Harris Jayaraj. The background score was quite good nevertheless. This is Surya’s film all the way – from pirating DVDs to smuggling Blood Diamonds, from foot chases in Africa to car chases in Malaysia he seems be having a blast. Prabhu is also impressive in a meaty supporting role. The cinematography is also worthy of mention – especially in the foreign locales.

Veedokkade could have been a smart action flick had K.V Anand concentrated all his energies on the main plot – excising out some of the unnecessary parts would also have achieved that effect to an extent. It still is a pretty good watch provided you do not have lofty expectations.

Ananda Thandavam April 14, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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Now that I’ve seen the movie, I think I might have figured out atleast to some extent the basic idea of what the original source material was all about. That’s probably the best compliment Ananda Thandavam can receive from me. A good number of folks who were in the audience with me can’t even say this because they didn’t even bother to hang on till the end.

Most of the times when highly anticipated films go horribly wrong; it is almost always because a concept which sounded good on paper doesn’t translate to the screen as expected. But this one is an exception. Here is an acclaimed director who sets about the task to translate an acclaimed writer’s most popular work on screen and the resulting film seems more as if the filmmaker wanted to get back at the (now dead) writer to settle a past lingering grudge. I seriously cannot find a better explanation than this.

I won’t speak about the plot because it might give you an much better impression of the film than it actually is. Coming to what went wrong the crappy screenplay comes instantly to my mind. However, even more vexing are the characters and the way they actually behave. Topping the list is that of Tamannaah. The intent of the filmmaker seems to be to project her thoughts and actions as childish but at the end of it she comes across more like a retarded slut. In fact there is a scene in the movie when the hero’s dad casts doubts on Tamannaah’s behaviour especially given that her parents are unusually eager to get her married to a guy they hardly know and much lower in social standing. At that point of time I guessed there really was some issue with the girl which would take the film in a new direction. Later I realized that was just the beginning of my disappointments.

The hero’s IQ also seems to be just one point more than that of our leading lady. In the midst of this there is one more guy – the philandering rich bald guy who everyone is supposed to hate; even here the director gets it wrong for the only thing you want to hate about him is his fake bald patch – tell me one instance in your life when you saw a brown skinned guy with a balding scalp painted in “white”. In spite of these and other umpteen causes I was still kinda interested know how this craziness would continue all the way till the end. A.R. Gandhi Krishna doesn’t disappoint in that aspect – the consistent imbecility delivered in each frame is really impressive. Even the talented G.V Prakash Kumar fails to impress except for the final song which is beautifully choreographed as well. I wouldn’t really blame the actors for their performances for I don’t see how they could have done more justice to their roles.

Ananda Thandavam is unarguably an instant “so-bad-it’s-good” flick but I think we might need to invent a new category for this – something on the lines of “I-actually-made-it-through-this” flick. Watch it if reading this piece has actually aroused your curiosity – I can’t offer any reason otherwise why you might subject yourself to this. Sujatha surely must be rolling in his grave.

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.

Hero March 6, 2009

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Sometimes, you are stuck with the most godawful choice of recent Telugu movies. Sometimes, you are foolhardy and decide to try your luck. Sometimes, you are in such a generous mood that you try not to let anything dampen your spirit. Sometimes, there comes a time in life when you have to accept defeat. This is one such case.

So, Hero is the story of a …. well, let’s start from the beginning.

Rewind.

An honest anti-corruption bureau officer threatens to bring the hundred most corrupt people in the city to justice. This, he announces on a television channel post retirement. Now, he is the only one with the relevant information to brings these guys to justice. That makes it extremely easy for all the hundred concerned to get him killed with the suspicion pointing equally to another 99. What a dumba**! Yeah, Yeah, he gets killed by one of the hundred. Note that the film features only one of the hundred and I assume that the others don’t give a sh**.

Cut.

A youngster arrives in a villain’s den (it looks like the same one that is seen in every film) wearing a helmet and bashes a lot of goons. At first, when the youngster enters, you think, “Hmm, the guy looks smart. Could he be Nitin?”. And then the youngster starts moving and shaking and all the awkward movements point to the one and only Nitin.

Cut.

That was all a dream, apparently. His father, the police commisioner (Nagababu) wants to see him become a police officer. But his loud and supremely obnoxious mother (Kovai Sarala) wants to see him become a filmi “Hero”. She manages to make sure that he does not pass his bachelor’s degree that qualifies him for the job. We have to bear her antics for about ten minutes or so, while desperately trying to find something that can make you smile. No such luck.

Cut.

A television discussion between the Cops and the Public. The Cops claim that the Public is responsible for crime. The Public claims that the Cops are dishonest and corrupt. And they continue to indulge in this poorly directed, lame, uninteresting and unrealistic discussion till the Home Minister decides to intervene. He decides that, as Cops are dishonest and the Public does not know what it is to be a cop, any honest citizen can apply to be a cop (and he apparently passes a Government Order just because he wants to).

Cut.

The police academy sees all kinds of weird folk, none of whom can be classified as honest citizens, submitting applications including our very own “Hero” who wants to use the three-month training as a stepping stone to a future in films. Of course, it occurs to no one that the candidates should at least be evaluated for the only course requirement – honesty. Despite all evidence to the contrary in the case of everyone that shows up on screen, the forty worst candidates are selected to make sure that no one graduates from the course.

Stop.

I did watch the rest of what is the most uniformly ludicrous crap that I’ve seen in a long time but I won’t bore you with the details. Lest I forget, let me also mention that this film features a cellphone camera that has a 5 kilometer zoom. I am dead serious!

If you are still reading and you have a feeling that you should never watch this film, You Are Right. Don’t!

P.S. The film is written and directed by G.V. Sudhakar Kumar, who has been playing a goon in telugu films for a long time now. It seems that this mild career diversion was totally unwarranted but he must really possess great persuasive skills considering that he got someone to produce this film. Hopefully, he can go back to being a goon. Apart from Nitin, whose career is going further into the dumps with every outing (trust Ram Gopal Varma to sign him despite his lack of success or skills), the film also stars Bhavana in a largely irritating role. But special kudos to composer Mani Sarma, who had to actually create a background score for this film. Imagine having to watch this over and over while trying to compose suitable music! Was he smart enough to thumb off this assignment to one of his assistants?

Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam February 20, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam could have been just another feel good family entertainer on the lines of Dil Raju’s uber-successful flicks – with the underlying thread this time being separated parents. This part is built around the usualĀ  boy-meets-girl and boy-trying-to-win-over-girl’s-father stuff. What makes it stand out is however is the effervescent lead pair of Siddharth and Tamannaah who complement each other so well – something you hardly seen in Telugu mainstream cinema.

The film is mostly lighthearted and even if Brahmanandam’s act happens to be the one which doesn’t impress relatively; still watching him in that hilarious “Geethanjali” gag suffices for it. Venu Madhav actually gets a better role as the hero’s sidekick. Prakash Raj, Ramyakrishna and Nazar are fine as usual. Another thing you’ll take home is the music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. It’s a wonderful score and the picturization of the songs is the icing on the cake. The title track is extremely catchy but the one I absolutely loved is the “Subramanyam” number. In terms of pure content there is hardly anything new about this film but the extremely good packaging and other factors combined make it a cool watch.

Apart from the film itself, I was much impressed with the really nice poster campaign – don’t get to see such things too often. Siddharth is in top form though it must be a cakewalk for him to do such roles now. Tamannaah might have a slightly subdued role but she always makes her presence felt – finally an actress who can be given a meaty role to handle and who is not called Genelia. The producer and director go by the names Bujji and Dolly but thankfully their work isn’t as frivolous.

On the whole, KIKK is a fun-filled outing – go for it!

Arundhati February 2, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Sometimes you just can’t explain why a film is successful. The slick poster campaign and promos might have caught everyone’s eye but is Arundhati really the blockbuster masterpiece it is made out to be? At this point of time there is no doubt that it has gone on to become a blockbuster but I really wonder how it became one. A major reason could be some of the extremely glowing reviews it got because atleast from the murmurs I heard most of the audience didn’t seem too impressed.

Arundhati is quite a misleading title in the first place. It should actually have been called something like Jejamma Mahatyam. Honestly, this movie is more like an upgrade to SFX filled semi-devotional flicks which have been helmed by Shyamprasad Reddy and Kodi Ramakrishna in the past. And before you get gung ho about “SFX filled” let me remind you that the implicit assumption here is: “more SFX” = “great SFX”.

Once upon a time there lived a great lady called Arundhati (Anushka) – who is reverred as “Jejamma”. Her brother-in-law is this sadistic sex maniac called Pasupathi (Sonu Sood) who’d rather stab and rape a woman if she’s causing trouble to him performing the act in normal circumstances. Once he’s banished by Jejamma from that place, he joins/becomes an Aghora which kinda makes him immortal. Poor Jejamma is only left with the option of burying him alive and three generations later when Arundhati is reincarnated again, buried-alive-in-grave Pasupathi wants revenge. Can Arundhati survive the onslaught? Watch the film if you really want to find out.

Supernatural tales like these more or less have a similar plot so everything depends on how you can make the ongoing events engrossing. Atleast for me an overload of crazy mindless visual effects doesn’t do the trick. To give credit where it is due, it doesn’t make you sleep either. However, all said and done I did enjoy some part of it purely because of the craziness and (un)intentional funniness. I couldn’t stop laughing whenever Sonu Sood’s character lets out an “Aaeee Bomali!”. In fact he is the best part of the film. Anuskha is fine but just because she is the main protagonist it doesn’t automatically translate to an exceptional performance. Sayaji Shinde is highly irritating along with a bunch of other characters.

It is more or less confirmed that Arundhati will be remade in Hindi – I wonder if those who are keen are buy the remake rights actually saw the film or are just going by its phenomenal success. In my opinion, Arundhati is the most overrated Telugu film in recent times – it is too illogical even if you give some consideration to the fact that it is based on a supernatural theme. Still the mindlessness provides for some fun and that might be the only reason one might want to watch this. In any case, I am sure the curiosity factor would draw you to the cinemas (if you haven’t seen it yet).