Sunday, January 29, 2017

ഒരാൾപ്പൊക്കം (Six Feet High) (2014)

Director: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan
Writer: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan
DOP: Indrajith
Cast: Prakash Bare, Meena Kandasamy
Language: Malayalam

Mahi and Maya share an apartment and are presumably in a living in but open relationship. The film begins with both of them breaking up their living arrangement over an argument about the open nature of their relationship. After a few days, Mahi gets a phone call from Maya from Kedarnath and they patch things up but the call gets cut abruptly. Next day, Mahi wakes up to the news about Uttarkhand floods and he can't reach Maya again. He embarks on a journey to find Maya again.

Sanal's  Ozhivudivasathe Kali was one of the best films from last year and his latest one 'Sexy Durga' got premiered at Rotterdam international film festival yesterday with a very good reception. I was quite desperate to watch this film, which is his major one and was a crowd-funded affair. He had posted yesterday about the films being available via where you can pay Rs. 150 for a film. However, the payment didn't get through as the bank declined it for some reason but the good people from the site sent me a link for free screening and I promise to pay later when the payment issue gets sorted.

Coming back to the film, while ODK had quite austere ambitions on the technical front, irrespective of the single take second half, Oraalpokkam is quite impressive on that front with the stunning post-apocalyptic settings of the Himalayas being the backdrop for much of it. The name 'Maya' translates as illusion and we're not sure whether the character is an imaginary one as well. There are plenty of sequences which suggests so and there is also that shower scene which suggests that most of it is happening inside Mahi's head. That kind of undermines the film as you've to walk a very tight rope of ambiguity to keep your audience invested in the character. At one point of the film, when they show them during the initial days of their relationship, Maya tells Mahi that he is pretending to be something he is not. The film is essentially about Mahi's identity crisis.

It is overall a very good watch without achieving the great heights of ODK. The sequences in the Himalayas are breathtaking and it reminded me of 'Stalker' and 'Eyes Wide Shut' in some places. The main drawback is that it went too far on the ambiguity front, to the point you really don't care. Never go full retard. Performances are really good and the sound design is stunning as well. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, January 22, 2017

മുന്തിരിവള്ളികൾ തളിർക്കുമ്പോൾ (Munthirivallikal Thallirkkumbol) (2017)

Director: Jibu Jacob
Writers: Sindhuraj, Pramod Pilla, Sooraj
Cast: Mohanlal, Meena, Anoop Menon
Language: Malayalam 

Ulahannan (Mohanlal) is a Panchayat Secretary with a wife and two children. He is going through midlife crisis and his only solace is the daily liquor fueled meetings he have his neighbourhood friends. One of them is a compulsive flirt who encourages him to spice up his life with an affair.

Jibu Jacob's debut feature  'Vellimoonga' is a film that I found to be very overrated and the script writer for this film, Sindhuraj, is a name to avoid. So this was a film on which I had no expectations when it was announced and was not planning to watch. But the month long film strike and the good reviews that it is getting changed my mind and I got to say it is a very decent one-time watch. It is the sort of film I wouldn't complete if I was watching it from the comforts of my home but a theatre experience vastly improves the film as it removes the option of changing channels and paper over lot of its cracks.

The film begins on all the wrong notes with a subtle veneer of casteism and classism that is quite common in most Malayalam films of this kind. But it picks up with the introduction of Ulahannan's short lived affair and is quite an enjoyable watch till the end with minor bumps along the way. Mohanlal sleepwalks through most roles these days and what you get mostly is the preachy ad version of him. He manages to get into this character which is a very welcome change even though he relapses towards the end which can be blamed on the script. The best thing about the film is that it is not centered on something very dramatic when looking from outside but can be for those who experience it. Director manages to do it in a very non-cringy fashion even though there is certainly a morality message in it. The fact that he doesn't opt to drive it through a hammer on nail approach certainly helps.

They could've easily avoided some songs, Asha Sharath's character (the whole conversation was pure cringe in the 'Niram eda poda fashion') and some of his job stuff, especially in the second half. People can make quite an obvious comparison with  'Anuraga Karikkinvellam' ,not just for the similarity of the font used for their respective roles. AKV  had its very real life like character interactions as its strongest point.  MVT is not nearly as good as it in terms of character interactions but will do very well at box office as it caters to the family audience with their concerns being a central issue in the second half. Overall it is a decent one time watch albeit with fair share of clichés like modern rich are loose on 'morals', middle class housewives are always chaste and very sensible for their age teenagers.

Jana Gana Mana Status: Watched it from a houseful multiplex screen and I sat through it without any consequences. Rest all spacemonkeys stood up for it.

Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, January 8, 2017

God Say (2017)

Directors: Sherrey, Shyju Govindan 
Writers: Santosh Manikoth, E.P. Dineshan Nambiar
DOP: Jaleel Badusha
Cast: Vinay Forrt, Joy Mathew, Mythily, Indrans
Language: Malayalam 

Vinay Forrt plays the role of the protagonist who is alcoholic and works as an announcer for All India Radio. When the guy who does the 'Gandhi Maargam' show retires, he is assigned to take over the programme. Gandhi starts influencing the poor chap and that is how the story progresses.

The film begins with a heavy dose of Aakshavaani and Padmarajan nostalgia during its opening credits and once again reinforces my claim that 'Season' is the coolest film of his. Solomon and Mannarathudiyil Jayakrishnan from 'Namukku Parkkan Muthirithoppukal' and 'Thoovanathumbikal', respectively, where both high on cool quotient but the style of narration from Mohanlal in 'Season' is just something else. Heavily getting digressed here, God Say is set in early 90s in and around Rajiv Gandhi's death and India's economic liberalisation.
Gandhiji's philosophies haven't stood the test of times, be it in the economic sphere or the social one. As the film focuses mainly on the economic realm with a mix of Gandhi and communism, it is not that interesting if you don't much have time for both of these. One could enjoy it as a satire but I don't really think they were really going for that. Maybe if they had focused more on the social angle, with a juxtaposition with the current regime which can be described as Godse worshippers, it might have been more interesting.

It is a typical Malayalam art movie, struggling with its pacing and with heavy drama influence on its scripting and delivery. There is also an extreme lack of subtlety to the whole procedure. But the visuals are sumptuous. Vinay Forrt is getting quite typecast these days and you are reaching a point where you can't differentiate the character from the actor.

PS: This was my first movie going experience after the ridiculous Supreme Court ruling which made it mandatory for theatres to play national anthem ahead of screening. I am not intending to follow it and was quite up for sitting through it as a mark of protest. Turns out, there was only one other guy watching this film. As the anthem began, I sat there and glanced behind to find that he was also sitting through it. Ho-hum. That was as anticlimactic as the film that I was about to watch.

Rating: 2/5