TRANCE – Movie Review; A stunner from Anwar Rasheed. Fahad Fazil at his best.

Why do people watch movies? The general answer would be for entertainment. But when the entertainment quotient meanders to cheap slapstick comedy, mindless violence and skin show, you get the kind of cinema you are watching today. Great films are born, when a film director takes it upon himself to add something extra which compels the viewers to use their brain to comprehend the movie. Trance, the Malayalam movie directed by Anwar Rasheed falls exactly into that genre. The movie deals with a subject which very few people dare to take on these days, religion. It takes you through the story of Viju prasad, who is a struggling motivational trainer in Kanyakumari. Viju has a troubled past and an younger brother who is mentally unwell. The motivational speaker is turned into a pastor by two corporate guys (Gautham Menon & Chemban Vinod) who know how to sell religion to gullible and blind devotees.

Viju prasad is renamed as Joshua Carlton and the gift of the gab he possesses is turned to lure devotees. Viju rises to the top and earns millions for the company that is formed just to mint cash in the name of religion. The ensuing differences between Viju Prasad and his sponsors unfold as the movie progresses.

The fist half is stunning and hard hitting. The second half of the movie is supposedly the imagination of the lead character. The movie is open to many interpretations. You are kept guessing, whether the second half is real or just the imagination of the protagonist who is in a state of coma after fatally attacked by his sponsors’. The director throws slight hints here and there without revealing things and that itself shows the calibre of the movie. I do not recollect any movie in recent years, which has an open ending like Trance and subject to so many interpretations. It is an indication of the maturity level our film makers are reaching.

The movie is stunning and hard hitting and the best one released so far this year in India. It is India’s answer to Quentin Tarantino. It is swift and fast and touches the real issue of exploiting people in the name of religion although It could rub some people in the wrong way. That is the precise reason why it has got a mixed review from the press.

Fahad Fazil has delivered a stunning performance as the pastor. His troubled past, dealing with a mentally unwell sibling, stunning transformation as the pastor, struggles to maintain the bubble going, the repentance and the downfall, Fahad has delivered it with stunning conviction. It is the kind of performance you have not witnessed from a lead actor for a long time. Nazria plays the role with ease. Other notable performance come from Dilesh Pothan (Avarachan) who trains Viju to become a successful preacher. Performance of Soubin Shahir, otherwise a reliable actor and one of the faces of agents of change in Malyalam film industry, is disappointing. He needs to improve his diction and dialogue delivery while doing roles out of his comfort zone. Similarly, Chemban Vinod could not match up to the role of a corporate Honcho. Gautam Menon’s does not bring anything new to the role of a typical villain. Magnificent camera work by Amal Neerad further adds to the quality of the movie. The sound design by Resul Pookutty and the background score by Sushin Shyam is of international standard.

Finally all credit goes to the director Anwar Rasheed who dared to think differently and chose to walk on a path less travelled. We certainly need more films like Trance which addresses the real issues and questions the society as a whole.

Anjam Pathira- Movie review- Definitely not a thriller

Anjam Pathira (Fifth Midnight), directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas is a Malayalam crime movie. Police men gets killed in the city of Kochi, which prompts the investigation team to believe that a serial killer is on the run. The police is clueless regarding the death of their colleagues. Investigation is led by a lady officer Catherine Maria (Unnimaya Prasad) and the team, which includes ACP Anil Madhavan (Jinu Joseph) and a psychologist Anwar Hussain( Kunchacko Boban), is all at dark when police men, one after another gets killed. The only clue left behind by the murderer is the statue of neethi devatha (goddess of justice)

The story takes you through the various hurdles the investigation team meets on the trail of the killer. The killer is always one step ahead. Various plots and sub plots later you reach the real culprit. But the story loses the steam well before the climax.

This is not the edge of the thriller, as many are touting it to be. Although the movie keeps you interested upto a point but it does not get into you. There are many holes in the script. It was interesting to note that why the question of only the police men gets killed never seriously crossed the minds of the investigating team. It is also hard to believe that a criminal psychologist was involved in the entire investigation and he leads you to the real culprit ( Yeah, the super hero always does it single-handedly! Do not blame the director, blame it on the star system ingrained in your subconscious) . The body exchange of the Christian priest with a convict, that too in a jail is hard to believe. The director, who also wrote the script, did not have a grip on the entire plot is evedient from these faux pas.

The criminal investigation thrillers should able to hitch you slowly and keep the viewer guessing. The plot is not new, as we have seen or heard this story line multiple times. The treatment is also not new. So what is the director offering new keeps popping up in your mind especially if you are watching the movie after reading the reviews and all that hype and hoopla.

The cinematography by Shaiju Khalid, is good, but again not great as being claimed by many. The background music is some time jarring. in the acting deparment, Kunchacko Boban, Unnimaya, and Sreenath bhasi are good (Again not great), while Ramya Nambeesan is totally wasted as the wife of the psychologist. Indrans showed the range of the actor in the brief role assigned to him, especially with that chilling smile. Sharaf U dheen could not measure up to the role essayed to him, same goes for Jinu Joseph.

The climax is a dampner. The climax plays an important part in any crime thriller. It is appreciable that the director Midhun Manuel Thomas , who is mainly known for his comic flicks has dared to change the track. All in all it is a watchable movie but not a great thriller.

Rating:3/5

Director & Writer: Midhun Manuel Thomas

Cinematorgraphy: Shyju Khalid

Producer: Ashiq Usman

Picture: Courtesy Google

Video Clip: Courtesy You tube

Joker – Movie Review: Marching towards Oscar

Joker, directed by Todd Philips tells the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown and an aspiring stand up comedian. Life is difficult for Arthur and rightfully he holds a grudge against society as a whole.

The film depicts how constant rejections and child hood scars results in to gradual degeneration of mind. Arthur is a loner, looked down up on by the society. He has a certain condition which makes him laugh at inappropriate times. He lives alone with his ailing mother.

The movie is set in the early eighties on the background of a rotting Gotham city where the rich and mighty holds the sway with poor people pushed to the margin. The elite class is represented by Thomas Wayne, the mayoral candidate, whom Arthur suspects to be his father. He confronts Wayne, but goes completely out of mind when he discovers the truth.

The dialogues are crisp and touches your sole. The cinematography by Lawrence Sher is magnificent and captures the mood of the story to perfection. Music by Hildur Guðnadóttir is haunting to say the least.

The direction by Todd Philips is top class. He shoots straight into your heart. Zazie Beetz and Frances conroy do full justice to their roles as Arthur’s love interest and mother respectively. But the film is all the way a Joaquin Phoenix show. His performance is iconic and essays the role with aplomb, His psychotic vibes will send shivers down the spine. His eyes convey angst, pain, anger and tenderness to perfection which we have not seen on the silver screen in a long time. His dance on the stairs and the climax interview with Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) stand apart. “How about another joke Murray” will keep ringing in your ears even after you leave the theatre. You will not be surprised if Joker sweeps the Oscar including the awards for the best movie and the actor.

Once upon a time in Hollywood-Review

Once upon a time in Hollywood, directed by Quentin Tarantino is unlike any of his films. Tarantino movies are full of violent action and gore that shakes you of out of your comfort zone.

The movie is extremely slow paced and you would wonder what exactly is happening and where the maverick director is leading you. It keeps you guessing how the director is going to piece together the different sets of jigsaws that was flashing on the screen for near about two hours.

Courtesy:YouTube

The real action starts in the last 30 minutes and you are riveted to your seat till the tittle credit roles up. It indeed is a violent storm after an inordinate lull.

The story is about Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) an actor who is struggling to cope up with the changing Hollywood and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who is his stunt double. It is a unique relation shared by Rick and Cliff. More than a stunt doble, Cliff takes care of everything and acts like Rick’s Man Friday. Rick is emotional while Cliff is calm. The story is also based on the murder of Hollywood actress Shane Tate, which shook the Hollywood in 1969. But Tarantino takes the artistic liberty of spinning this tragic event according to his own fantasy.

Courtesy:YouTube

The film has some outstanding performances. Brad Pitt gives an exceptional performance as the calm but tough stunt man. Margot Robbie as Shane Tate is a delight to watch. Just see the scene where she goes to a movie hall and asks for a ticket. The expressions on her face when she watches herself on screen, her counter reactions to the reactions of crowd watching her performance is top class. Leonardo DiCaprio is convincing as the struggling actor. Unfortunately Al pacino did not have much to perform and is wasted.

Whether you love it or hate it, Tarantino once again cements his place as one of the best directors of our times. Blame the slow nature of the movie or the lack of zing you expect from Tarantino, the film remains one of the best films produced in 2019 and has obtained 10 nominations in the upcoming Oscars. In the hands of a lesser director, the movie would have been a disaster. That brings us to the question, If not Tarantino, who else could have directed this movie?

Ivan’s Childhood – Movie Review

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

Story: Vladimir Bogomolov

Cinematography: Vadim Yuosov

Screen play: Andrei Tarkovsky,Andrei Konchalovsky,Vladimir Bogomolov & Mikhail Papava

Production: MOS Film

Release date: 6th APril 1962

This masterpiece (1962) from Andrei Tarkovsky on the backdrop of second world war will make you fall in love with the movie from the very first scene. The movie was adapted from a story by Vladimir Bogomolov. Tarkovsky got the movie only because it was abandoned by a fellow graduate. He made the most of it and that too in his debut movie, tells a lot about the brilliance of the director. The film focusses on the lives of people crippled by the war rather than on heavy bombings and combats.

The story revolves around a 12-year-old boy Ivan (Nikolai Burlyaev) who happened to be a scout of the Soviet army during the fag end of the second world war. The boy has lost his family during the war. His mother and sister were killed by the Nazis and his father was killed at the border.  Although 12 years old, Ivan’s face depicts none of the innocence of childhood. He is full of anger and overwhelmed by the feeling of avenge. The war has torn away his childhood.

He just enters an army post and announces that he wants to meet the commander. After much persuasion, he was taken to the commander. They decide that he should go to an army school since there is no place for a child in war. The boy refuses to go to the army school since he wanted to continue as a scout. The boy’s stubbornness wins, and he remains as a scout with the army.

The life was hell in Russia during Nazi invasion. The director managed to portray the hardship of war through a few scenes interspersed with a series of dream sequences which took the movie to an altogether different level. There was hardly any scene which depicts a war or a combat. But it is in the air through out and you literally feel it. That shows the brilliance of the director. Brilliant acting and photography have added new dimensions to the movie.

The Photography by Vadim Yusov needs a special mention. The birch tree forests, the dream sequences, the final mission on marsh are a bliss to watch.

Dream sequences:

The boy’s past is revealed mostly through dreams which was shot brilliantly by the director.

The first dream sequence shows the boy strolling through the woods chasing butterflies indicating a happy past.  He tells his mother that there is a cuckoo in the woods. Suddenly he wakes up from the sleep into the dark reality of war.

The second dream sequence shows the boy and his mother taking a deep look into a well. The mother tells the boy that there is a star in the well. In the next scene the boy is shown inside the well trying to hold the water along with the star. Then suddenly the pail comes down amidst a lot of crumbling voices. Ivan cries out for his mother. The mother is seen lying face down on the ground next to the well.

The Third dream shows the boy travelling in a truck with full of apples. Suddenly it starts raining. For the first time we see a little girl, presumably his sister. The boy picks up the apples and holds it in rain.  Apples fall from the vehicle. Some horses appear and they start eating the spilled apples on the road as the vehicle moves by.

The fourth dream clearly indicates the death of the boy. Is it really a dream? The question arises if it is a dream then who is dreaming it since Ivan is already dead. It is an extension of the first dream where the boy was seen drinking water from a bowl on the riverbank. His mother smiles at him and leaves to draw further water from the river. She looks back and again smiles at him.  Suddenly we see the little girl we saw on the third dream running along the banks. The boy runs behind her. The girl keeps running faster. The boy increases his pace and outrun the girl straight into the shallow water where he almost collides with a dead tree.

The story also takes you through the love triangle involving captain Kholin, Lieutenant Galtsev and Masha. Critics have questioned about the romantic element in a serious cinema. It is a universal truth that even during hard times the human emotions remain the same. Moreover, the kissing scene remains one of the best scenes shot ever.

The final mission in marsh where the soldiers try to retrieve the bodies of scouts killed and put on display by the Nazis’ is brilliantly done and will remain etched in your memory. As the film moves to an unavoidable tragic end which wrenches your heart, you are left amazed by the genius of Andrei Tarkovsky.

The movie was well received the world over when it was released. It won the Golden Lion award at the Venice film fest. It had its share of critics, particularly from the communist press. But they were countered by none other than by Jean-Paul Sartre. Ingrid Bergman had to say this about Tarkovsky.

When I discovered the first films of Tarkovsky, it was a miracle. I suddenly found myself before a door to which I had never had the key, a room which I had always wished to penetrate and wherein he felt perfectly at ease. Someone was able to express what I had always wished to say without knowing how. For me Tarkovsky is the greatest filmmaker

Such a brilliant comment from the master!

A must watch if you love realistic movies. The current generation of film makers would do well to watch this movie and would be amazed by the ease with which a debutant  director had handled the scenes.

Full Movie with English subtitles
Cast:
Nikola Burlyaev – Ivan
Valentin Zubkov- Capt.Kholin
Evgeny Zharikov-Lt.Galtsev
Stepan Krylov – Cap.Katasonov
Nikolai Grinko – Lt.col.Gryaznow
Dmitri Milyutenko – Old Man
Valentina Malyavina – Masha
Irma Raush – Ivan’s Mother
Andrei Konchalovskiy – Soldier





















Manikarnika Movie review: Another failed attempt to cash in on patriotism

Manikarnika the queen of Jhansi is a disappointment to say the least. We all grew up hearing to the heroics of one of the key warriors of independence movement. Unfortunately the movie turns out to be another damp squib which fails to touch your soul. The movie tries to cash in on the patriotic sentiments of people, but falls flat on its face.

Image courtesy You Tube

The movie takes you through the journey of a child to the throne of Jhansi and her confrontation with the East India Company to salvage her kingdom. Rani Laxmi Bai’s name is written in golden letters in the history of our independence struggle, but the director fails to do any justice to the martyr’s short but glorious life. The movie is all about Kangana Ranaut. She is there in almost all the scenes from beginning to end. To be fair to her she did justice to the role.

Clip courtesy You Tube

The first half is devoted to Manikarnika’s childhood and her marriage to the ruler of Jhansi. The second half takes you through the palace treachery which catapults her to the throne of Jhansi and her battle with the British. The visual effects and the action scenes are ordinary. The dialogue penned by Prasoon joshi keeps harping on swabhiman and Mathrubhumi. The screen play by K.K Vijayendraprasad has nothing to rivet you on your seat. The characters of seasoned actors like Danny denzongpa and Atul Kulkarni were never allowed to rise above the mediocre.

The film leaves you exhausted. Why do we allow people to make such movies? It is time we passed a law to stop exploiting the stories of our great freedom fighters for commercial gains. If Rani Laxmi Bai were alive today she would have certainly pointed her sword at the makers of this movie.

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Ankita Lokhande, Jisshu Sengupta, Zeeshan Ayyub, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni, Khulbhushan Kharbanda

Direction: Kangana Ranaut & Murali Krishna Jagarlamudi

Producers: Zee Studios, Kamal Jain & Nishant Pitti

Release Date: 25.01.2019

Tumbbad – Movie Review

Tumbbad is a mysterious movie which is least expected from the Bollywood. No stars, no big names here, but the story turns out to be the star itself. The movie directed by debutant Rahil Anil Barve opens up a creepy mysterious world that has become alien to the Bollywood for quite a long time.

The film, based on a Marathi story written by Narayan Dharap, is set in a rural village in Maharashtra and spans over a period of three decades from 1918 to 1947. The plot revolves around the hunt for an ancestral treasure hidden in unknown recess in a dilapidated mansion.

Along with the hunt for the treasure the story takes you through the greed of mankind. The fear of uncertain and unknown lurk around through out the movie. The movie builds on the village legend that, Hastar, the first and most beloved child of goddess of prosperity tries to gather all the gold and grain which infuriate other gods. They attack Hastar, but the goddess hides his son in her womb and agrees to the condition that nobody worships Hastar anymore. Somebody in the village builds a temple for Hastar and worships him for the lust of the hidden gold which infuriates other gods who curse the village with incessant rain.

A young boy, Vinayak, sets his eyes on the treasure hidden somewhere in the mansion. His mother forbids him even to talk about the treasure as it is a cursed one. The family abandons tumbaad and migrates to Pune after the death of Sarkar (Local Zamindar). The mother makes the son promise that he will never set foot in Tumbaad again. But the greed for the treasure makes him return to the village after 15 years. Vinayak finds the Dadi still alive although in a skeleton form. He learns the way to the treasure from her and set her ablaze to give her mukti.

Vinayak becomes richer and richer after every visit to the mansion. His life style changes dramatically, he visits brothel and have a mistress. As the time goes by Vinayak gets older and finds himself unable for the arduous task of unearthing the treasure. He trains his son for the task. As the story progresses, the son become more greedier than the father and that leads to a catastrophe . The climax scene was brilliantly shot where the monsters kept coming one after the another that left Vinayak and his son helpless.

The film emphasizes that the human greed has no limit. The lust for money and women predominates the protagonist of the movie which eventually leads to his downfall.

Sohum Shah plays the lead and has essayed the role convincingly, but one feels he could have shown more emotions. His son played by Mohammad Samad was another notable performance. On the hindsight the movie could have been made much better. The director could have further explored the psyche of the main protagonist. The wife played by Anita Date was reduced to just another typical housewife.

India has a rich tradition of classical tales. It just surprises that how we ignore those gems and make sub standard movies. The credit goes to the director, Rahil Anil Barve for unearthing one of the gems. The film is beautifully shot by Pankaj Kumar capturing the drenched land scape and the “womb” of the goddess with equal aplomb. The movie is made on a meager budget of Rs.5 crore and reportedly collected around Rs.13.75 crore. It is a welcome relief from the pompous and chest thumping duds like 2.0, Thugs of Hindustan or a Zero. It certainly deserves a more wider audience.

Film Release Date: 12.10.2018. Now available in Prime video

Producers: Sohum Shah, Anand L Rai, Mukesh Shah, Amita Shah

Screen Play: Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Rahil Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi

ZERO MOVIE REVIEW

No surprises here. As expected the movie failed to live up to the expectations. It is not even an average movie. It is a damp squib which insults the intelligence of the audience.

The story revolves around Bauua Singh (Sha Rukh), a 38 year old dwarf, a good for nothing fellow based in Meerut who does nothing but splashes his fathers earnings, roam around the city with his friends and obsessed with a Bollywood starlet, Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaiff)

A marriage broker sets up a match for Bauua with a space scientist Aafia(Anushka Sharma) who is physically challenged an bound in a wheel chair. After the initial altercation the two fall in love and decides to get married. A chance meeting with Babita Kumari and a kiss on the middle of the road change the course of the life of Bauua Singh.

On the weding day, Bauua is informed that he was selected for a dance completion and the winner will get a chance to meet Babita Kumari. He runs away from the marriage hall. He wins the completion and gets a chance to meet Babita Kumari. The life of Bauua changes forever. He becomes a part of Babita kumaris team and accompanies her everywhere. Another altercation and Babita Kumari throws him out of her home. He yearns to return to Affia, who is in USA and works for the worlds largest space research centre. Bauaa and his side kick packs their bag and fly to USA to meet Aafia.

Here onwards the director looses the grip and takes the story to preposterous level. The final slap on the face of the viewer is Bauua’s return from space after 15 years.

Zero turns out to be another disappointment of 2018 after Thugs of Hindostan and 2.0. The story is pedestrian, the plot is hackneyed, the direction is amateurish at the best.

To be honest, Shah Rukh, Katrina and Anushka gave their best, but the director failed to put up a decent plot and a convincing story line.

Anushka’s performance stood out and needs an applause. Surprisingly Katrina gave a good performance especially in the inebriated scenes’. Sha Rukh Khan once again proved that why he is still labelled as the king of romance. He exuded warmth and charm through out the movies. But he needs to choose his movies well. More than the movie he should choose the directors well. Otherwise he will be dethroned as the Badshah of Bollywood soon.

According to the trade reports, Movies has collected Rs.20 crore on the opening day, way below the expectations. Movie would well recover the initial cost because of the wide screen releases and the week end crowd. Even if it fails, the PR agents will prove that the movie is a hit by their constant feeds of inflated figures. At the end it is the public who are the losers.

Movie lovers in India deserves a better product Their intelligence should not be insulted. They have every right to sue the director Anand L Rai & Gauri Khan for refund of the money they paid for the movie ticket.

Zero- Another Dud From Shah Rukh Khan?

The much awaited movie Zero is getting released this Friday. Zero could very well turn out to be a major disappointment for Shah Rukh Khan. We have already seen two duds during the last two months, Amir Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan & Rajnikants’s 2.0. The former tanked at the box office while the latter is reportedly believed to be minting money. Rather the media wants us to believe that 2.0 is a major hit which sounds to be untrue.

The trailer of the movie has evoked mixed responses from the larger public. The story moves along the line of a typical Shah Rukh romantic movie. Only noticeable difference is that the hero is a dwarf and the heroine (Anushka Sharma) a disabled person. Katrina Kaif forms the third angle as the Bollywood heroine. The young generation is bound to ask what’s new and what’s different.

Sharukh has been doing the same role over and again during the last two decades. The last few films have been duds and failed to rake in the moolah even though the press wanted us to believe otherwise. In the meanwhile a bunch of young stars have come up in Bollywood and the younger generation relate with them more than Sharukh. Obviously the charm of the superstar is fading.

The trailer of the movie does not inspire much confidence. The film has also received a lot of flak for the technical gaffe of hero appearing as a dwarf in some scenes and a full blown adult in other scenes. That is unforgiveable given the kind of technical know how we have today.

The winter of 1993 saw the emergence of a new super star in Bollywood. Winter of 2018 could very well turn out to be a disaster for the ageing super star.