Monday, November 20, 2006

Sringaram – Dance of Love.

Its been ages since I've seen a good Tamil Movie...
Sringaram made my wait worth it! :)

Sringaram – Dance of Love.

Sringaram, a riot of emotions, dance, music, and costumes so earthy in portrayal, its cinema rediscovered in a trance. I was one of the few lucky people who witnessed this cinematic masterpiece at The Indo-German film Festival, yesterday, and I'm still recovering.

The film is a compelling narrative that exemplifies the essence of womanhood, and feminism. Set in the awakening of the Freedom Struggle, in rural Tamilnadu, the film portrays the life of Madhura (Aditi Rao Hydari), a Devadasi as she struggles with the conflicting passions for her art and the heritage and tradition she now represents as the temple's principal dancer. The narrative includes space for the lives of many other women, Kamavalli (Hamsa Moily), Ponnammal (Manju Bhargavi), The Mirasu's Wife (Aishwarya) and Ambujam (Lakshmi Ravi), who perfectly represent women in the different roles they played in Tamil Society at that time. The films oscillates from being a strong feminine narrative expressed through dance to a period film so well-researched, that Mahadevapuram, comes to life in those well-spent 117 minutes.

Filled with brilliant dance pieces that have an unignorable Devadasinatyam / Sadira style of choreography by Saroj Khan and music by Padma Bhushan Lalgudi G Jayaraman, featuring several classical renditions by Bombay Jayashree, the film rises beyond the spectacular, and leaves you pining for more.

It's no surprise that this movie is the firsts for several people including Padma Bhushan Lalgudi G Jayaraman, Saroj Khan in Tamil, and Sharada Ramanathan, as a director. Aditi Rao Hydari and Hamsa Moily also make their first appearances in this film.

So, if you're in the mood for a two hour journey filled with dance, music, and art, as has never been portrayed before, watch the film when it hopefully releases in Jan-Feb 2007, and indulge in this gentle exploration of love, dance and music in all its possible hues.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My review of Monster House:

MONSTER HOUSE, There Goes the Neighbourhood.

Directed by: Gil Kenan
Cast: Mitchel Musso (DJ), Sam Lerner (Chowder), Spencer Locke (Jenny), Steve Buscemi (Nebbercracker), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Zee), and Jason Lee (Bones).

Fluke Spook

Little Girl: Hello Fence!”

If animated movies were getting just too animated for you, thank god for Monster House. This 91-minute take on an urban Halloween legend, is loads of fun to watch. The story is simple. DJ (Mitchel Musso) is a kid who lives across the street from a spooky house, owned by a spookier neighbour, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi, ‘Tony Blundetto-Sopranos’). Mr. Nebbercracker has a secret he doesn’t want to share. No one’s allowed onto his property. DJ and his friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) get them selves into serious trouble with Mr. Spooky Neighbour. They end up investigating the haunted house, with Jenny (Spencer Locke), the crush at the moment, and the non-stop spooks keep getting better. A haunted house, three inquisitive kids, several unbelieving adults, and two outrageously stupid neighbourhood cops, what more could you ask for in a Halloween movie. The movie outdoes most of the other ‘real’ horror films we’ve seen recently. It actually keeps you interested. Watch out for the simply adorable Chowder, trying to be all ‘man’ with Jenny, and really bizarre characters like Bones (Jason Lee), and Reginald Skulinski (Jon Heder). The movie scores on the animated characters looking almost alive; all thanks to 3D motion capture technique. What really makes the movie click however, is the innocence that animated movies lost long ago. If you’re in for a total weekend entertainer, about a house that ‘mocks you with its houseness’, Monster House is your perfect family treat.

PS. Keep really small kids at home, it is scary!

Published on 4th Nov, Page 10, MiDDAY Bangalore.

CID Prakash... Code 999!

My review of Dr. Rajkumars 'Operation Diamond Racket':

“ If you come today, it is to early…
If you come tomorrow, it is too late.
You pick the time…
Tic, Tic, Tic… ”

Who in Bangalore doesn’t know these lines from ‘Annavaru’s’ 1978 hit ‘Operation Diamond Racket’, the hatrick performance of Dr. Rajkumar as Prakash, Code: CID 999.
I was one of the privileged few who watched the movie at INOX, on Thursday, at a screening celebrating Suvarna Karnataka.
Operation Diamond Racket is a pure entertainer from shot one. The few of us, who did get to see the film on the big screen, were in splits all through. Be it, Dr.Rajkumar’s slurry accent, with his famous ‘Dorrling’, and Kannada one-liners that can drive even Rajnikant up the wall, or the awesome graphics, The movie keeps you waiting for more ‘Rajkumar Magic’ to unravel with each passing minute.
The story line is simple, undercover cop Prakash (aka Vijay), CID 999, has set out from Namma Bengalooru to foil the attempts of a major baddie, all bent on taking over the world. The story moves from our city, to Cochin, and finally climaxes in Nepal.
On the journey our ‘gentleman’ cop, flirts with several beauties, to get information about the Baddies. He swings with Lolita on one hand, and plays with Jennifer on the other. At the end of the spy saga, however his love is true only for Meena, his co-undercover agent.
He refuses to get intimate with her, though and says ‘that’s not what a true cop would do’ (Lesson in manners to James Bond 007!).
Apart from some really good cabaret performances, in several clubs all across Bangalore and Cochin, the film stands out for some brilliant scenes, such as a boat chase in Cochin, and several Car chases in Nepal. Considering ‘Don’, with Amitabh Bachchan was made in the same year, ‘CID 999’, beats ‘Vijay’ in every field of filmmaking. Technically the film does wonders for the time at which it was made. The graphics are futuristic, and the sets, very believable.
The soundtrack has one killer, as we all know, and the rest of the songs are quite good too. A romantic song shot outdoors in Nepal, however left me bewildered. I was left wondering why Meena had to breathe so heavily after every line that Prakash sang.
What caught my attention however was the use of several Nepali Characters in the film, with really freaky sounding names. We had, Nenzing (?), Prakash’s friend from Nepal, who trained with Prakash in Bangalore, and thus spoke Kannada. We also had Dringku, who graduated from Mount Carmel College, and thus knew Kannada too; she however worked for the Baddies. Doma, an obviously Nepali looking Character, was another weird character. She was supposed to be from Singapore (?). She was also a Baddie, and kidnapped Meena later. The conversations in Hindi between Meena and Doma are worth mention. I just died laughing. I also made an observation that all the baddies knew Kannada, and somewhere during the movie, I was completely convinced, that Kannada was the second language in Nepal.
The movie was made to entertain, and it still manages to do exactly that, and even more. So, if you are in the mood for a perfect Sunday afternoon treat, loaded with one-liners in Kannada that can make you travel in time, and songs that are just pure trip-paradise, Operation Diamond Racket is your next VCD to rent.

Operation Diamond Racket (1978)
Produced by:
Anupam Movies,
Directed by: Bhagwan Dorairaj.
Co-Stars: Padmapriya, Vajramuni
Lyrics: Chi. Udayashankar,
Music: GK Venkatesh

Part of a Trilogy, with Dr. Rajkumar as Prakash, Code: CID 999
1) Goa-dalli CID 999 (1968) Opposite, Lakshmi.
2) Operation Jackpot-nalli CID 999 (1969) Opposite, Udayachandrika.
3) Operation Diamond Racket (1978), Opposite, Padmapriya.

Shared his undercover name Vijay with Amitabh Bachchan in Don, aka Vijay, In ‘Don’, released in the same year.

Published November 4th, Page 2, MiDDAY, Bangalore.

Dead (story) Line!

My review of:

DEADLINE, Sirf 24 Ghante.
Director: Tanveer KhanStar Cast:Konkana Sen SharmaIrfan KhanRajit KapoorSandhya MridulZakir HussainPrincey 'Jhanak' Shukla

** (2 Stars)

Dead (story) line.

If you expected anything from this film, you’ll be thoroughly sorry you ever did. Deadline, Sirf 24 Ghante, fails to do anything its trailer so thrillingly promises. What’s worse is to see someone as brilliant as Konkona Sen Sharma being utterly wasted as an actor. She has her moments, and gives quite a performance, but the real show stealer here is Sandhya Mridul. This pretty woman gives you one more genuine performance, something she’s earned a name for in the last few months.
The story is well conceptualized, but its making is terrible. Tanveer Khan should not experiment with writing his screenplays ever again. The dialogues remind one of an 80’s film, minus a scriptwriter.
Krish (Irfan Khan) and Roohi (Sandhya Mridul), lose their son, to a complicated heart problem, because they fail to pay the hospital on time. Held responsible is Dr. Viren Goenka (Rajit Kapoor), who they decide, needs to respect the value of a life in his profession. What ensues is a kidnapping of Dr. Viren’s daughter Anishka (Princey Shukla), and Sanjana (Konkona Sen Sharma) his wife being held hostage at home. The doctor is asked to pay a ransom within a 24-hour deadline.
The film resembles Sanjay Dutt starrer Tathastu, and Hollywood hit John Q. The only difference being Irfan Khan, and his stereotyped role. Give the man a chance and let him act for once. The first half moves so slowly, Sirf 24 Ghante seemed like am mean joke. The second half is where the thrill kicks in, but then the story moves like fairy tale, nothing is unexpected. The film is saved by Kabir (Zakir Hussain) playing the role of Viren’s friend, who is a joy to watch. Unlike most child artists, Anishka fails to do a convincing job. A scene involving a maa-beti separation actually looked funny.
I wont vouch for the film, unless there’s nothing else playing. But make sure you buy tickets for any irresponsible doctor you know; the film has a message for all of them - Medicine is a noble profession, for a reason.

Published on Saturday, Nov 11, Page 10, MiDDAY, Bangalore.