Sunday, December 7, 2014

Athirathram 1984

The blockbuster of 1984,directed by I.V.Sasi which is claimed as one of the best crime thriller of it times.

Starring Mammootty, Mammootty and Mammootty.

No typo there. That's all the movie is about. So much panache and style by the dude that you will forget Mohanlal is in it.

Yeah we want to see more ;)

Though a super hit in that era, I'm sure we have better storylines in crime genre in Malayalam cinema now. Events and situation are just jumbled up in the movie together as if the 2 hrs just had to finish.

Nevertheless a nice watch if you don't mind the script. Great styling for the dude and lot of 007 type cinematography.

Adwaytham 1992

A Malayalam political thriller starring Mohanlal ,Revathy and Jayaram and directed by Priyadarshan.

I felt the 2006 film Vaasthavam had very similar beats. Nevertheless ,Mohanlal and Prithviraj,respectively have done a fantastic job of portraying human nature when exposed to political storms.

Mohanlal's character is one of friendly,caring person but gets embroiled in local politics. The story is about memories of a love affair gone bad, a broken home and amidst all this his only bright hope being his friend, played by Jayaram and his own ambitions,lay hidden,unknown to him.

All the lead stars do a great job and makes for a dramatic movie experience. Watch it to know the ever - rolling wheel of Kerala politics and the pieces of everyday life it loops in.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Nayam Vyakthamakkunnu 1991

Nayam Vyakthamakkunnu (English: Making Your Point Clear) is a Malayalam political family movie. Yes it is exactly as it sounds and also not. It is a family movie about a family of 3 and their resonances due to politics in the middle. 

Mammootty is the aspiring,active and busy political member of the local party which has all elements of a typical one. His wife is played by Shanti Krishna, the wife who slowly shows the effects of such a husband on her and on her son. The trials and tribulations in the presence of politics that a normal family goes through are shown in a non-preaching,witty way enjoyable enough as a movie.

Most of Balachandra Menon's movies are about family life and this is no less. Touching performances by the lead pair make it a movie you can add to your collection. Also the usual favourites of classic Malayalam cinema are there - Sankaradi, A.C Zainuddin,Jagadish and Karamana Janardhan Nair.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nanma Niranjavan Sreenivasan 1990

Trust Jairam to take you to Kerala and then get you in the swing of localness. He is like the grandma who tells you stories with warm chocolate milk and cookies. That was an American metaphor but you get the picture right?

Jairam is the quintessential malayali. Almost all his movies are about the common Keralite guy who has common problems under coconut trees. He does such a fanstastic job of it that I can tribute a whole new genre of Malayalam movies about him.

Nanma Niranjavan Sreeivasan is a movie about a simple guy who is interested in local theatre and hanging out with his friends. A police job application changes the story towards a differnt village, new acquaintances ,romance and suspense. All mixed but not thrown about like some meaningless masala bag.

Excellent movies are those which can depict the same old formula but bring its own freshness by aspects like dialogue, cinematography and giving ample oppurtunity for other characters to flourish. In doing so, the viewer gets an idea about what the movie is saying indirectly and maybe more. In particular this movie does so by the ever brilliant Oduvil and Mukesh. Urvashi as usual is her best as the girl who battles her pretty eyes.

Watch it for naadan feel, old theatre life and some comfort time.

Director - Viji Thampi

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kallanum Policum

The art of storytelling is rare. Its easy to bring twists and plots in a basic story and keep people glued. But to create the basic story itself is something which only comes from a focus to keep things simple.

Movies are no less. I love movies and can sit and watch one or two everyday,depending on how many dishes dry in the sink ;) I love old movies specially and the reason I do is coz they had a lot of original thought process in their cinematography, plot and storytelling. Malayalam movies have set a benchmark in brilliance and have been coped by other Indian film industries (sadly without known credit). And amongst the pillars which hold Malayalam film industry ,I want to mention Mukesh.

Though Kerala is synonymous with Lal and Mamootty, there have been less precious but gems nevertheless such as Mukesh. Having mostly acted in movies which capture quick interest without concentrating on one-man-show gimmicks or cheap thrills, he has a foundation of himself.

Of his scores of movies, I love Kallanum Policum which I surprisingly missed inspite of Asianet Movies' ever running movie reruns. An engaging story,simply told without dramatic set ups or bends and still surprises at times. Or maybe its so well told that it surprises?

Mukesh's trademark confused-harrased look, KPAC Laitha and Innocent's banter, the wonderful bunch of side actors with their small but talented roles and the setting of Kerala greenery ( I'll call it as bonus ) all make it a movie you can watch on a monsoon day.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ustad Hotel - ordering a biriyani now!

Movies on food are not new. But Malayalam cinema making movies on food is like finally going to confession a day before Easter admitting that we have serious gastronomic fetishes. After Salt and Pepper,its Ustad Hotel which is tickling the food hormones and almost making one reach Zomato pages.

Before we talk about the current foodirectors (see what I did there? ;) ) ,lets not forget probably the first movie which celebrated eating pleasures guilt free Mr.Butler. Remember a young, thin I-dont-have-an-upper-lip Dileep with his Japanese cooker-cum-utensil to attract his heroine in the lift. I rememebr that scene coz that vegetable pulao made my mouth water!  For many days after that,I've had dreams of being stuck in the lift with a hot pulao-and not a hot guy.

                                           Dileep doing a demo of ccoking to the auntys of the flat. Humming the Gopalakrishan song are you ? :)

So we are serious about food? yes! and we are serious about films on food? oh yea! And with the not-so-serious youthful dapperness of Dulquer,the deer eyes of not-so-shy Nithya and ofcourse we need the patronage of someone -Thilakan (for mallu parents), we have Ustad Hotel. A movie about the journey of 3 people - Faizi ( Dulquer), Shahana (Nithya) and Thialakan - where they find themselves through relationships, food and through each other.

The movie has a very Bohemian approach to it. If you take a bunch of Malayalam movies, most is about relationships, the seriousness surrounding duty and the bipolar world of good vs bad. UH takes a detour but only slightly. No its not a rebel so you dont shrug it off as a 'youth' movie nor does it goes on a preaching class to brand it as art movie. It is as real as you take it. The reality of fleldging,small but reputed restaurants that we have seen in our sleepy naadan towns during our annual vacations to hometowns is a reality but to restore them is probably not so easy. UH takes up that real to reel.

I'm sure I dont need to review it coz every Mallu worth his biriyani would have seen it. I resaw (really Treez,is that a word?) it yday and thought if I love it I should share/post/publish/show off it before the next foovie ( I'm a genious!) comes out :)

I'm still very curious about what goes in the sulaimani tea.

Good job Anwar Rasheed - Director

I've decided to credit directors from now on coz woh nahi to taare zamin par. :) #geddit

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Khalnayak 1993 - the good Ghais,bad Ghais and mirrorwork cholis.

Khalnayak is a story of Rakhee's two sons (not), who got separated at birth at Kumbh Mela (not) and grew up to polish Pran's shoes (not) and then story moves to whether he is their real father (not). Also there is a locker full of gold biscuits in some godown somewhere (not).

Ok fine, so this is that Subhash Guy movie ,yes you read that right. And since all his movies are different (?), Khalnayak was too so this was one of the biggest blockbusters of 1993.
A good boy turned bad is wanted by the police and Madhuri takes up the sacrifice to bring him to line. Indian women always make sacrifices and one of these includes drinking with the bad guys and dancing to romantic, educational, school girl songs like 'choli ke peeche'.

We all know that  Sanjay Dutt was the villain and Shroff is the good guy and Mads' the lass and there's almost forms the triangle. But since I love classics so much, I try to bring them back to our recall list so that you can opinionate on them differently and luk,luk,luk,luk again.

Mads was known to hold her own in almost all her movies. She was the man, the  muscle and the spine of any film she took on. This was no different. I can safely say she is the real villain in this. Not in character but the chameleon speed of her roles. Sanjay melts at her thumkas and is soon discovered as an exploited youth so can hardly be called a villain. But Mads with  her tough policewoman role, her flippant attitude to dance to a rusty number, her cowboy nature with the gang and her Durga avatar as one who saves her would-be's reputation is enough to hail her as the true actor in this movie and otherwise too.

Watch it for :

Sanju baba's long hair.

Madhuri,in a ghaghra choli and enjoying happy hours with Sanjay's gang.

Rakhee as a non-mother of two separated sons. (Yes please, you should just watch if she cries any different from her usual role)

And this is for the chic girls - Mirrorwork cholis.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Aakasha Kottayile Sultan 1991

Build a house in a tea estate.
Appoint Sreenivasan as the caretaker.
Get one, no two, four families as tenants- all under one roof.
Throw Innocent and Mamukoya to mix up things.
You have chaos called Aakasha Kottayile Sultan!

A pure veg Brhamin family headed by Oduvil Unnikrishnan, a pure non veg family headed by KPS Lalitha, Pentecost devotees with the delightful Philomena and a group a bachelors headed by Innocent all come together to uproot Sreeni's life and as usual it takes a girl to upset it even further.

As with most of the movies, this too drives on Sreeni's detailed portrayal of a helpless man,nose deep in debts and as always a sister to be married off.

Some delightful scenes to watch :

Innocent and Baiju ready to jump into the swimming pool after applying ..oil on their bodies ! :D

Oduvil Unnikrishnan secretly having brandy in the toilet.

Philomena, Meena Kumari as Pentecost devotees. This Philomena is just superb everywhere. Malayalam Cinema's stalwart!

Directed by - Jayaraj

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Half Ticket 1962

'Tumhe pyaar ki acting karni hogi.

- Acting tum karo, pyaar main karoonga'

Not a Sajid Khan movie or Rohit Shetty car crashing comedy. This is a 1962 Bollywood classic comic saga.
From never having seen a Kishore Kumar movie to Half Ticket is like being struck by a cool breeze on a hot,dry summery day. Pure,unadulterated performance. Especially when it's my first Madhubala movie.

I always assumed (Gen Y problem) that he is a singer who did acting as time pass. Watch Half Ticket and KK will make you fall of your chair/bed/floor with his antics,expressions and that never-serious face throughout the movie. Inspired (oh!) by You're Never Too Young, it's a goner one,beats every formula that Bollywood has,yet not a bird brain kinda movie.

'After all I'm the mental doctor of your whole family' is just one of the lines in this classic roller-coaster which is basically a cat and mouse game where Pran is the villian but completely overshadowed by KK's part childishness-part prankster character. There are no overt emotions and behind-the-trees romance so you can safely sit back and enjoy with your post lunch dessert which you probably wont need ! :)

Takeaway  / non-formulaic scenes

 KK prevents the vamp from checking his pocket. And this happens with the music on and them dancing. You can't decide whether to dance or laugh! So much cha-cha and ja-ja! (go go) :D

Helen in a non cabaret dance.

Pran and KK singing O sawariya, O gujariya to each other.


Classics are classics because they take you to a beautiful mellow time when everything was unhurried or untainted. There are glimpses of Murphy Radio, old Coca Cola,jalopies occasionally on empty Bombay streets and ofcourse the ubiquitous Parsi uncles strutting by.

Need I mention Madhubala's bone china look and splitting performance inspite KK's brilliance? We all know her and love her,dont we?

Directed by - Kalidas

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Supporting actors make the most noise - An ode.

Iftikar,Deven Verma,Asrani (Bollywood)

Sreenivasan, Mukesh, Laalu Alex,Jagadish,Siddique, Innocent,Oduvil Unnkrishnan (Malayalam)

Some names we know but probably Sony Max may never promote a movie by saying 'watch blockbuster Don - starring Iftikar, Sunday 9pm' will they?


So do supporting actors remain supporting actors without  being supported? (ok don't support me in my puns!) Well I don't think so. Whoever coined the term did a fab job because its true. They truly do support the actor and not just that. They actually do carry the movie when the script is weakened by the over imposition of the 'superstar' and one man shows kind of movies.

Can you think of Don without Iftikar's balanced,quiet and evolved acting compared to Amitabh's aggressive AYM role? ( that's angry young man in case you didnt know...haww!! ) Iftikar has always been so and probably why he features in most of these AYM roles as the still water to the tsunami which AB's roles were meant to be. Similarily Sanjeev Kumar in Sholay and Utpal Dutt in,well,all his movies.

Utpal Dutt 

Imagine Naadodikaatu without Sreenivasan ( actually I still cannot see Lal without him) such is the affect of those golden stuff. Think how Godfather would be without Jagadish's nervous,comical antics which scaffolded Mukesh's attempts to bring Kanika down. What about Shubhayatra where Siddique is like a bookend to Jayaram?


In Harihar Nagar

Laalu Alex

Oduvil Unnikrishnan

All said and done, the brilliance of such actors is so much that I'm not comfortable calling them supporting. They have carved their identity in singular lead roles too. Vadakku Nokki Yanthram can never be better performed by anyone else other than Sreeni.( imagine Mammootty in front of the mirror applying powder). In Harihar Nagar was an ensemble cast of actors who started out with secondary roles. Saath Saath, Chashme Baddoor and Kisi Se Na Kehna were all better off without the big shots of that time and moreover, needed the calm of actors like Farooque Shiekh.


Just few examples of popular cinema but the shine of these stars are bright like Venus in the evening sky,not overwhelming but you can spot them nevertheless,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T.P. Balagopalan M.A - 1986

Look at the pic below. How many of us do that everyday? Looking upto God and loading him with wishes and needs. Promising him and other accessible Gods all the offerings money can buy once he gives us the money.

Balagopalan, the character played by Lal has no less desires. His wishes are many, but, like many of the young men today and esp in the troublesome 80s when unemployment was high, his wishes are more for his family than himself.

Another Sathyan Anthikad movie about hardships, middle class family, values and human nature in the best and worst of times. I would have categorized this too as another 'movie of masses' but Lal once again doesn't let you stereotype his movies! :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam

Kaviyoor Ponamma is not just the mother of Mohanlal ,Dileep and Suresh Gopi but also of all the malayali people who love to watch family naadan movies. So when she cries we all cry.

Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam would have been another cry-athon if not for her superb acting. Like the movies which seek to teach a lesson to modern kids about respecting their parents and mallu kids esp to leave gulf, Duffai and foren shores and go settle down with kappa and meen curry, this movie too is on similar lines.

Though most of all is subtle and not loud. Mammotty is downkey in the movie for some reason and Ponamma cearly emerges out as the actor in all respects.

A wonderful movie to watch with family. ( duh!) Also a great movie or those who truly miss the naadu!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Swagatham 1989

Imagine a Malayalam movie without Mohanlal or Mammootty.

Imagine a coastline with friends hanging out all the time.

Imagine a story about friendships and general fun without fights and villians.

That is Swagatham movie. A 1989 film with an extensive star cast. With Jagathi's histrionics not-withstanding, there is romance and hey! you can choose which one you want - the sweet and shy kind which Parvathy and Asokan share or the serious one which Urvashi feels later on.

A story about friends, young guns ,youth and their immature nature but true feelings, Swagatham takes you back to your college days and the time when chatting meant meeting for an icecream rather than feeling a 'ping' vibration in your pocket from your android phone.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saajan 1991 - Why you should never have pseudonym

There are more reasons to watch Saajan than there are not.

You should watch it if :

- You are an 80s kid. Duh!

- You want to know why Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri are making 2014 seem like 1991,when in both eras they were in the news.

- You should know the classic hits Nadeem Shravan gave.

- The true meaning of love triangle

- Some heartrending shayari

- Ooty

- Salman Khan in clothes.

- Sanjay Dutt acting from his eyes.

- Kader Khan

You should not watch Saajan if :

- You do not have time

-Because classics like these need to be enjoyed and listened. Yes the movie has songs which are hummable till now.

Director - Lawrence D'Souza

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guddi - Movie infatuation in hemlines

Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Basu Chatterjee.

I fell in love with the above two fabulous directors and their creations since I saw Golmaal. Its my comfort movie, sunshine factor and BFF for all seasons and reasons. The duo's movies are not exactly new wave cinema, art movies or commercial.  They are just light ,breezy movies which are made for fun, in fun and watched for fun. But they stay with you forever unlike stupid, funny bone movies. The reason being the script.

Guddi is one among them. I watched Bombay Talkies recently. Supposedly an ode to 100 years of Indian cinema which I still did not understand how. I felt Guddi should have been a better tribute. The below dialogue from the movie says why :

' Guddi to phir bhi bacchi hai. Aaj kal miya biwi ek doosre mein Dilip Kumar aur Saira Banu ko dhoondte hain' ( Guddi is still a young girl. Today husband wife look for Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu in each other)

It isn't exactly a documentary about cinema. Its a story about a girl who breathes cinema and a moviestar worshipper. It's a story of a middle class family,of love and then some bittersweet stories of the movie industry. But true to Hrishida's nature,nothing is grim,gray or gore. Rather its poignant,mellow and rather funny in many parts.

Watch it for :

- all Hrishidas regulars. Utpal Dutt is there yes.

- Asrani in Shammi Kapoor style

- Jaya Bachhan in mini frock

- who calls Sharmila 'baby'

-wonderful poster art

- a glimpse of all leading heroes of that time

- Because very few movies let you live your childhood and adolescence