Jan 29, 2008

Calcutta News review (from sify.com)

Hi, I watched Blessy's latest offering 'Calcutta News' in Dhanya theatre, Tvm and let me tell you, it was a wonderful experience to witness brave film making in Malayalam cinema which happens rarely. This review from sify somehow is very appealing and stands close to my view about the film. Rather than writing my own, I thought I could share this with you. Enjoy the review.

Blessy the pathbreaking director in modern Malayalam cinema has come out with his fourth film in six years, Calcutta News which is as good as his previous oeuvres. The writer and director this time holds a mirror to metropolitan India's ugly underbelly of trafficking in women and how a middle class girl from Kerala gets caught in it.

It is riveting cinema and exhibits emotional depth and visual richness aided by lovely music, razor sharp script, superb camera, slick editing and above all knock-out performances from the lovable lead of Dileep and Meera. Blessy is able to bring savvy freshness to form hitherto unexplored. The story and settings are entirely different from the earlier films of the director which were basically family stories set in lower middleclass milieu in Kerala. Here it is a love story set against a big city like Kolkata and the plot unfolds like a thriller and has to be appreciated for tackling a relevant theme with a sensitive portrayal.

Ajit Thomas (Dileep) is an acclaimed investigative television anchor and producer with a leading channel 'Calcutta News', and is the son of a former footballer who grew up in Kolkata. His team at the channel includes news assistant Smita (Vimala Raman), and anchors Aruna (Manasa) and Sheela (Brinda). Ajit is a lovable guy who lives in a flat with his mom and sister and is active member of the Malayalee Samajam led by a comical president (Innocent) and his wife ( Bindu Panickkar) One day Ajit bumps into a newly married Malayalee couple while on work in a tram, but the guy is hostile when he tries to introduce himself as a Mallu! However, while editing the news, he is shocked to find that an unidentified body found near Kalighat resembles the rude guy he met in the tram.

Ajit's investigative nature comes into the fore as he goes about finding the mystery behind the brutal murder of the guy. The guy was Hari (Indrajith), who had married an orphan Krishnapriya (Meera Jasmine) from Pattambi and brought her to Kolkata, before his brutal murder. Krishnapriya is unaware of her husband's job or what he does for a living and is shattered to know about his death. However hope floats into her life after Ajit sort of becomes her protector and also gets attracted to her for her innocence and their mutual love for music.

Meanwhile Ajit finds that there is something rotten and discovers that Hari was one of the henchman in a sex racket that traps innocent girls and sells them to a one-arm bearded guy (Kathal Krishnamoorthy) who operates from Sonagachi, the largest red-light area in eastern India! Ajit along with his friends try to unravel the sex racket using their television channel, which leads to the bearded guy kidnapping Krishnapriya and taking her to his den in Songachi! Can Ajit in hot pursuit get through the maze of nightmarish and confusing alleys and by-lanes of Songachi to reach his lady love?

The film makes a strong statement against the trafficking of women and sex trade in big cities which are dependent on the gullible girls from villages across India including Kerala who are lured into it by middle men who con them into marriage. Blessy has a solid straightforward plot with an emotional core that pulls your heart strings like his previous films. Blessy has told it in a realistic manner through the eyes of his protagonist Ajit Thomas an ordinary journalist with guts and determination.

You cannot take your eyes off Ajit Thomas, played brilliantly by Dileep with a new hair style, glasses and looking every inch a television reporter who is expressive and riveting. The director has fleshed out his protagonist background adequately explaining his reason for falling in love with a country girl and making it believable. Meera is splendid pitching her act just right and portrays Krishnapriya's strength and vulnerability beautifully. Indrajith has the right look and menace required for his character,Thambi Antony as doctor is impressive, Vimala is wasted while Krishnamoorthy creates fear as the sex trader.

Technically it is Blessy's best film. The veteran cameraman S.Kumar has been able to capture the grimness of Songachi and its myriad alleys and the majesty of old Kolkatta its trams, Howrah Bridge, Kalighat, Oberoi Grand and its elegance amazingly. Count among other plus points Vijay Shankar's fast cuts, Ranjit Ambadi's make-up especially of Dileep and Manu Jagadh's art work and choice of locations essential for the story.

And the biggest factor working for the film is the music of Debojyoti Mishra, based on classical forms and definitely there is a Bengali feel to it which Kerala listeners love (Remember Salil Chowdhary influence in Malayalam film songs of the 70's and 80's). Music is part of the film as they are married to the visuals by the lyrics of Vaylar Sarathchandra Varma with the melodious - Engino Vanna Panchavarnakili…. and the peppy Kannadi Kootile Kowmara Thumbi…. being the pick of the lot. The background score of Ouseappachan adds to the rich fare which makes the film gel.

Calcutta News is a vital, sardonic and disturbingly brave attempt within the commercial film format at good meaningful cinema that also entertains. Great going Blessy!

Verdict: Very Good

Jan 20, 2008

Bheema......It's Vikram all the way !

Finally, the long awaited Vikram starrer has hit the screens and opened up to 100% collection all over Chennai city and Coimbatore. Hardly the initial collections talk about the quality of a Tamil flick which has turned out to be a pot-boiler. Director Linguswamy who has given us some memorable films like Run, Sandakozhi etc this time though seem to loose it in the middle. There is neither any story in Bheema nor any eye-catching events.

Here goes the story, Sekar (vikram) joins the gang of Chinna (prakash raj) after a riveting encounter with a common enemy, drawing praise from the latter. Chinna as revealed later in the first half, seemed to be the role model of Sekar the moment after he came to rescue his family under crisis some 15 years ago. From then on, Sekar tries to imitate Chinna in his mannerisms, his dialect and virtually everything in turn treating him as his childhood hero. As the years go by, Sekar's only aim turns out be joining Chinna's gang in which he succeeds. Periyavar (reghuvaran) and Chinna share a long fought enmity between themselves which give way to lots of well choreographed fight sequences between the two gangs in the first half. Soon Sekar meets Charu (Trisha) but doesn't fall in love immediately nor gets tempted by her anatomy unlike any other masala entertainer in Tamil. Meanwhile, the cops lead by Ashish Vidyarti initiate a mission called "Mission Bheema" thanks to Sekar's nickname, to eradicate gang wars in the city. The rest is all about how Bheema's love life affects his 'gunda' life and how he fights the odds.

The wafer thin script is the major setback for Bheema let alone the blood and gore all the way through the movie. It's evident that the director tried to make a stylish action thriller but little he knew that unless and until you provide enough substance in the script, the audience won't fall for the character Bheema. First half really tests your patience with virtually nothing happening other than three songs and action. The characterizations of Sekar and Chinna are adequate yet one has to feel for the half-baked role offered to Trisha. Second half is quite engaging and it has a prefect end which is shot in a different yet appealing manner. Harris Jeyraj's soulful music is a treat for your ears 'mudhal mazhai' being the pick of the lot. Rajasekhar's slick photography, Vikram's daring looks, Prakash Raj's adequate performance all add to Bheema's spice.

This is a role tailor made for Vikram as he is able to hold the otherwise wanting script in his able shoulders. His way of confronting enemies has a Vikram style written all over it. Even in songs, he doesn't look jaded nor predictable. From Linguswamy, we do expect a much better film though he hasn't really taken too many risks like what he did for "Jee" which could have seen the movie go flat and smell sand in the first few days. Yes, it is a pacca action masala. Still, I wonder what could have been the fate of Bheema w/o Chiyyan.

Verdict : Watch it for Vikram