Kaashmora Movie Review

It takes great conviction to converge a number of genres into one. With a two-film old director like Gokul trying to mix up horror, comedy, thrills and period spectacles into the tag of an entertainer, the herculean task set before him is something that needs a lorry of Red Bulls. In his latest offering Kaashmora, the director sits as a cat on the wall, taking a safe route in a story which needed a composed head.

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In Kaashmora, what’s the most appreciable, is Gokul’s core idea of blending the lines of a fake black magician with a historical segment which is best explained through the visuals. The thirty minute long episode towards the end is its lynchpin, packed with wondrous staging that is skilfully choreographed as well. But on the way to this much hyped chapter, the film has comic scenes interspersed with serious ones, both of which become an ephemeral ultimately. By the time one reaches the third act, it is easy to realize the ‘something missing’ feel which lingers throughout the movie.

When things are left hanging, the film needed a saviour to bring up the underdevelopments in its script. And to the rescue comes Karthi, who has seemingly walked a different path in terms of his body language and dialogue delivery. He is pretty comfortable as Kaashmora, while the second character Raaj Nayak comes off with terrific styling and costumes. There is also a third surprise suit, which is middling to say the least. On the other side, it is Nayanthara who is the highlight of Kaashmora. Sporting on grand costumes as the brave princess Ratnamahadevi, she oozes beauty all over the screen in a role only she can do. Vivek is present for comic relief and does bring about the occasional laugh, while Sridivya is just there to fill up a space. Some more depths into the characters of Kaashmora would have really made that world more exciting than what it is today.

Technically, Kaashmora gets past the line. Om Prakash’s camera captures the dark locations with enough detailing, while the editing passes muster. Santosh Narayanan’s music doesn’t work out well this time, paving way to tunes which act as speed-breakers. When it comes to the VFX, sets and costumes, hats off to the team for pulling off the impossible with minimum compromises. The visual grandeur which Kaashmora offers accounts to more than half of the price you will be paying to watch the film.

Kaashmora ends up as a borderline passable multi-genre offering that might pick your interest. The film has a little bit of everything, but what it could have done with is some more clarity. Nevertheless, the horror-comedy genre which is a crowd favorite now in TN is a given, and that should help to get the job done. Let’s wait and see.

Verdict: Generous visuals, middling material.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 

 

Kabali Movie Review

When Superstar Rajinikanth announced a new film with a two-film old director, eyebrows widened. As the film found its shape, people were struck with surprise on the new look and feel of a Rajinikanth movie on the road, the name being Kabali. Today, the film hits the screens, much to the relief of a zillion fans round the globe who rejoice at the end of a long wait.

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Walking in with fist-pumping excitement, I found myself absolutely enjoying the first 30 minutes of the film where we get to see Rajinikanth in a way he’s never been projected before. The sublime combo of deadly looks and a mischievous character took over, and I got myself ready for a huge wave of awesomeness. Little did I know that the film was going to slow down by a mile, as soon as the emotions take over.

Kabali is neither a Rajinikanth film nor a Ranjith film. While the former is awesome with his trademark mannerisms and style, the latter’s effort on the storyboard is underwhelming to say the least. Ranjith gets the action and the swag totally right, but his space of strength which is the depth and connect goes awry here. With too many characters around Rajinikanth including a weak villain gang, the attention fluctuates in and out of the frame, and one starts to ask for quicker proceedings.

Kabali’s technical departments are rock solid. Cinematographer Murali’s top angle frames and shot creation tactics are a charm to watch, for he knows exactly where to place the camera to pack the best view. Watch out for his work in the climax and the first action block, and you will realize the essence of proper reel registering. The art director and the editor have done a splendid job too, making us delve into the feel of the film, seamlessly. And Santosh Narayanan, wow. Kabali is yet another feather in the cap of this composer who brings his best to the fore with the riveting background music. Comprehending the mood of the scene perfectly, he helps us gel with the situations in the film with just simple tones such as a staggering wobble and horns.

Kabali could have probably taken another route in narrating the chronicles of a gangster. Here, it ends up as a mixed bag of flaky emotions and an impactful protagonist. Rajinikanth truly rocks his part with great character and charisma, but this is a Ranjith film where I would have loved some more of, Ranjith. Definitely not bad, but doesn’t go all the way either.

Verdict: A different Rajini outing. That’s about it.

3 / 5

VVV Movie Review

Vishnu Vishal’s latest offering in Velainu Vandhutta Vellakaaran not only breaches above the minimum guarantee entertainment that director Ezhil usually associates with his films, but also shows us how hilarious comic sequences can be scooped out of formulaic, done-to-death filmy situations. The film is a perfect launchpad for the actor as a mass hero, in order to extend his horizon to the nooks and corners of the state.

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Never taking itself too seriously, VVV (as it is being called) presents itself as a straightforward entertainer, with engaging comedy shouldered by two specialists – Soori and Robo Shankar. The wafer thin plot line rarely comes off as a hurdle here as Ezhil adds enough and more attention to how he gets across the scene rather than what he is putting in it, and why. The film does follow a lot of clichés and textbook rules in order to accumulate a pattern, but what makes it click is the accessible comics which thankfully aren’t overdone at any point. Though there are instances where the film slows down – songs for example, and the occasional comic line going for a duck, VVV ends on a cheerful note which helps you with two hours of solid time-pass comedy.

Vishnu Vishal, who has been streamlined to content-oriented films until now, dons a new hat as a producer and simultaneously starts treading new paths towards the mass audiences. He checks most of the boxes when it comes to being the people’s darling. VVV is probably the first time where you will see Vishnu dance in full swing, and perform long and loud comic sequences. Aiding him equally is Soori, who continues his terrific form which he has been holding strong in 2016. ‘Pushpa Purushan’ is something you will hear a lot from now on. Nikki Galrani and Ravi Mariya do the needful and Motta Rajendran is adequate, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Robo Shankar, who brings the roof down with his bombastic body language and dialogue delivery in the second half. In his best since Vaayai Moodi Pesavum, he exhibits a whacky new shade as the MLA gone crazy.

Technical aspects don’t really come to the fore in a film which focusses solely on entertainment, but VVV does have apt costumes which comfortably co-operate with the mood of the film. C.Sathya’s music is quite inventive, though the songs might turn out to be needless in an otherwise rib-tickling affair.

Toting up, Velainu Vandhuta Vellakaaran is a safe first outing for Vishnu Vishal as a both a mass hero and a producer. It packs in a plethora of funny moments along with a solid ensemble star-cast who complement the situations in the film well. Ezhil delivers his best in recent times, for this is a full-fledged entertainer which should go on to click with the masses.

Verdict: A proper stress buster.

3 / 5

Thozha Movie Review

Films on friendship have paved our shores many a times in the past. And as you would already know it, the core of a film on friendship lies in the rapport between the lead characters, stressing on their camaraderie. Vamshi Paidipally’s latest offering in Thozha lends a fantastic crux from the French, adapts it pretty well with Indian sensibilities, and presents a delightful film for us to watch.

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The film rides on the rope between the lead men in Karthi and Nagarjuna, who form a great pair satisfying both audiences. Thozha gets its right, with its ability to clock hilarious moments out of its melodramatic space, not going over the top. The shifts between the sweet nothings and the teary-eyed scenes are seamless, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the rich visuals, neat tech work and the wordplay from Raju Murugan and Murugesh Babu. Though there are a handful of dull moments throughout with the needless songs adding worry, the feeling at the end of it all is near-complete, leaving a smile on your face.

Karthi is amazing with his comic timing, with the rib ticklers such as the painting snippets and the episodes with Tamannah working wonderfully. He also emotes excellently, this is arguably one of his better performances till date. Nagarjuna as a quadriplegic on the other hand has limited scope with just facial expressions on his palette, but he makes sure that he doesn’t negate the effect created by the rest. Tamannah’s character lacks depth, but she provides enough and more eye-candy with her glowing, gorgeous appearance. Watch out for Prakash Raj and the late Kalpana, who are much more than just supporting cast here.

PS Vinod’s work in Thozha is a definite treat to the eyes. His commanding control over the visuals are a big plus, especially in the Parisian portions where he gets tons of area to cover. Praveen KL’s unleashes his artistry cutting the right amount of reel, as the film doesn’t feel too laggy even at a length of 2 and a half hours. Gopi Sundar hasn’t made much of an impact with his songs, but he makes up for it with his background score which does impress.

Toting up, Thozha offers straightforward feel-good drama, embedded with cherish-able moments all the way. After long, it’s refreshing to see a film without even a slight grey shade, but made just to make you laugh, and teach you a load of good. The slight inconsistency and the alien feel at places might distort you a bit, but Vamshi Paidipally pins down a film that the team can be proud of. Uplifting, likable drama.

Summary: Thozha offers straightforward feel-good drama, embedded with cherish-able moments all the way. After long, it’s refreshing to see a film without even a slight grey shade, but made just to make you laugh, and teach you a load of good. The slight inconsistency and the alien feel at places might distort you a bit, but Vamshi Paidipally pins down a film that the team can be proud of. Uplifting, likable drama.

 

Verdict: Endearing tug at the heart strings!

3.25 / 5

Bangalore Naatkal Movie Review

Taking up a remake is always risky business. This is a phenomenon which has been discussed over and over again in the past, and is a great topic of debate in the days to come. The latest remake to hit the marquee is ‘Bangalore Naatkal’, which is Bommarillu Bhaskar’s marginally altered perspective of its Malayalam equivalent.

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There are two things you can do when you remake a film. Either you make it a scene-by-scene translation and play it safe, or gamble around with your own version of someone else’s vision. Bhaskar here, takes the former route. There are very minute, negligible changes, sans which the film is very similar to Bangalore Days. Though the first half is awkward and strives hard to make a connection, the second has a good share of feel-good moments, making it the better of the two. It is only when the film divulges into the sea of emotions that it begins to score, with the little-off-nought performances not adding much to the mix. Above all, it is Bhaskar’s packaging and presentation which makes Bangalore Naatkal a passable, watchable ride.

The biggest drawback of the film lies in its unacceptable casting. While Arya tries his best to impress with his so-called lazy elegance, Simhaa is a complete misfit in a role aced by Nivin Pauly in the original. It is really tough to see him struggle with that kind of an accent, letting go of a handful of good scenes with his amateurish acts. Rana Daggubati is probably the pick of the lot, managing to walk the talk, despite his big built structure being a small hurdle. In return, the girls uphold Bangalore Naatkal, barring the one miss in Raai Laxmi. Sridivya is superb as the bubbly and cherubic Ajju, and she deserves a lot of praise for her dubbing efforts which well match up with her performance. On the other hand, Parvathy pulls off a near-perfect show as RJ Sarah, lighting up the screen whenever she’s on it. It wouldn’t be fair to go off without talking about Saranya Ponvannan, who adds Bangalore Naatkal as another feather to her already overflowing cap. And Samantha, well, some cute smiles in a blink-and-you-miss walkover.

While the cinematography and the editing stays adequate, Gopi Sundar’s music is a blend of his tunes from the original OST and some fill-in-the-blank work. A little bit of trimming to finish the final cut at less than 150 minutes would have helped this too.

Altogether, Bangalore Naatkal would be a fine watch for those who have kept themselves away from Anjali Menon’s ostensibly superior version. For the others, it is a time-pass fare with a few good moments to take back home.

Verdict: Gently absorbing rehash.

2.75

Puli Movie Review

On how many occasions have we seen big pockets, a grand canvas, a huge starcast and tech teams coming together, only for the director to screw it all up? Vijay’s Puli is a perfect example of this occurrence, where a visionary director in Chimbudevan gets it right on paper but messes it up in the script to screen translation.

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Somewhere through the second half of the film, you get this feeling that both the baselines of Puli and Baahubali are surprisingly so similar, right from the first frame. When it comes to period films, it is sad that our directors opt for the safe (not anymore) revenge sagas rather than bringing interesting events from history to our knowledge. After starting off pretty decently, the film goes bonkers in the second half, with the introduction of the second Vijay in the infuriating, cringe-worthy flashback sequence. It is Chimbudevan who has to take up the blame here. Though his imagination range is evident, he fails to transform it into a narrative. Most of Puli feels like a parody. Yes, a parody.

Puli is more of a Vijay film than a Chimbudevan film, and that is not a good thing. There are a ton of political mentions which make you ponder whether they were floated in by the director or the actor. His characterisation too, doesn’t correspond to the situation. Ostensibly, Chimbudevan brought in Kathiresan from Kaththi and pushed him through a makeover. It would have been so much better if Vijay had put in some efforts from his side to suit the role. Finally, it boils down to his cherubic expressions and the dance which have to make you content. Of course, we cannot conclude without appreciating the guts to do a fantasy film at this point of his career. Apart from him, the two leading ladies have no lead in the film, and Sudeep has been wasted in a negative role of sorts. Sridevi has made a comeback, that’s about it. In this puzzle, it is Sathyan, Thambi Ramaih and the rest of the comedians who offer the occasional laugh which tickles the funny bone.

The tech team of Puli has done a commendable job to make it a visually satisfying experience. Be it Natty’s stunning camerawork or Muthuraj’s artwork, the result is flawless. I also liked the way how the costumes slowly got better for Vijay in ascendance, good job there. Some scenes really did take me back to the childhood fantasies like Kutti Chaatan. But yeah, even those had better music.

Yet, the air of creativity that you usually associate with Chimbudevan’s films is present in Puli too. There are talking birds, miniature men and the 180-year old adviser is not a long-haired sage but a huge tortoise. Though the director has chosen to narrate a familiar story in an unfamiliar land, the setting and the never-seen-before characters that you find in the film are those that help you sit through it. The stunning CGI work which was the punching bag before release, turns out to be the life saver here. And that somehow equalizes to Puli’s result – a glossy looking comic-book which isn’t completely enjoyable when you read through it.

Verdict: A triumph of creativity, taken to the gutters.

2.5 / 5

Maya Movie Review

The situation in Tamil cinema is both a boon and a bane for horror films. There is at least one scary flick coming out every weekend, which makes it quite a challenge for directors to churn out a film which stands out from the rest. The good side of it, is that all the horror films have been making decent money at the Box Office, irrespective of their quality. Amidst a truckload of so-called horror comedies which infuse provocative clothing, double-meaning dialogues and women objectification in the name of entertainment, Maya comes off as a genuinely terrifying film which ups the standards by a mile.

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Ashwin Saravanan. There’s a lot to like about this guy. It has been quite a while since we have got to see a horror film with zero (I repeat, zero) commercial compromises. There are a 100 ways in which Ashwin could have made this film jog towards being more entertaining. But he decides to not let any of that in, and sends it back at the door itself. And that’s where Maya clicks – right from the first frame, it doesn’t let you settle and makes you play the guessing game rather than serving you the plot on a platter. You will be confused, thrilled, connected and left screaming. But at the end, you will get your answers.

In just his first film, the director takes it by the horns and sneers around with dual coloured, non-linear narration. Though the connection point did puzzle me a little, I got myself back on track soon enough. The first half takes a little time with character establishments (quite a long list) and bringing about the emotional embrace, but the second pans out as a thrill-a-minute whodunit which keeps you on the edge of your seat. With minimalistic production values, Maya sets a benchmark on how great films can be made with stoopingly low budgets.

It is heartening to see Nayanthara come out of her comfort zone and essay the role of a single mother. At such a towering point in her career, the woman is making the right choices with her films and Maya is yet another feather in her cap. With little or no make-up, she brings the right amount of emotions without overdoing anything. Believe me, nobody can cry as well as she does. Aari is the next bullet in the gun, doing a fine job with his underplay. With a strong supporting cast which boasts of the proficient Lakshmi Priyaa and a bay of male artists such as Mime Gopi, Amzath and Robo Shankar, Maya has live, believable acting.

Hats off to the technical team for matching up with Hollywood’s range in terms of their professionalism. The stupendous camerawork along with its blue-ish colouring and the editing which doesn’t feel like it are the sure perks of this film. A special mention to the sound team, who have created an atmospheric experience which will crack you out at places. The chilling background cues – phew!

In all its glory, Maya is a stunning, no-nonsense horror thriller which is sure to raise your eyebrows. The fact that it has come from a team of relatively new talents (mostly debutants) doubtlessly makes it a masterstroke. Miss it at your own risk.

Verdict: Unmissable is the word.

4 / 5