Breathe Easy – ‘A decent film from a collaborative involvement of directors’

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Spoilers ahead…

In most films that are based on the concept of natural calamity, one among the primary aspects pertaining to the movie, which garners the attention of the movie goers, has been the concept itself. But, what offers the audience, an emotional movie watching experience are the effects of the natural calamity on the familial and the societal behavior of the human beings under such adverse circumstances.

Breathe Easy is an Indie film that goes by the above said theory. But, in the case of Breathe Easy, there is a piece of information that is even more striking than the movie’s synopsis. It is nothing but the collaborative involvement of twenty directors from across ten countries to deliver this movie. The collaboration by directors showcases their earnestness and commitment to stay true to the plot of the movie as the movie captures the happenings in various parts of the world over a period of time.

While delving deep into the screenplay of the movie, the presence of too many dialogue driven portions and stage drama resembling enactments did act as a hindrance to the rhythm of the movie. Also, in many portions, background scores seem to subjugate the dialogues. In spite of possessing these aspects on the downside, there is some handful of notable sequences too.

Talking about the notable sequences requires a recall to certain clips: a scene that happens in the outskirts of South Africa, where a mutual trust gets built up between a guy and a girl post a sequence of serious drama, a portion which takes place in an apartment in Mexico that depicts a split between a couple over a difference of opinion and an intense sequence featuring two guys and a girl in the outer parts of United Kingdom. The factor that has assisted such sequences in the flick, to render the moments of the movie, is the elegance in their film making and the background score.

To be precise, the immense effort that has been put in by the movie’s makers to bring the directors from various places of the world has yielded a movie that possesses segments, which are authentic in their own right. This kind of collaborative involvement of directors would remain as a sign of encouragement to Indie Film Makers who would wish to work in collaboration and make them follow suit in the upcoming days.

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Bad People – ‘Effective utilization of the cine medium’

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Spoilers ahead…

Going by the movie’s name – Bad People – we might anticipate that director Alex Petrovitch would choose one story, for a selected theme at a time and render a full-length motion picture. But, what we get from Alex is a flick that is packed with multiple narratives presented via a segmented screenplay. In spite of the approach of storytelling being unconventional, Bad People seems to be a highly engaging dark comedy drama.

As far as the template of Bad People’s screenplay is concerned; there is a striking theme (i.e., Bad People), under which there are a handful of subtopics, further below are interesting, crisp and crystal clear dramas that are built around each of the subtopics. In a nutshell, Bad People seemed like a concoction of various short films that are made on a theme of the same name.

The movie commences with a portion where we are introduced to two contract killers. In the following sequence of scenes, we are amused predominantly by the timing dialogues of the duo that centre on the topic of political correctness. The segment ends up like: The more the people are concerned about their political correctness, the less effective is their subsequent course of actions.

The movie then traverses into a news reading session and subsequently into an interview where once again the aspect of timing in the dialogue deliveries render a highly engaging content. Here, another factor that renders amusements equally to that of the dialogues is the picture-perfect, comic depictions of the actors involved. This news track finds its place at regular intervals in the movie. In fact, this approach of track placement is what that keeps the experience of watching a full length movie intact.

Following suit the segments pertaining to ‘political correctness’ and ‘news’, the other segments too take aims at the happenings that tend to be bothering in the contemporary society. Those are as well complemented ably by an all-round effort of film making. At the end of the day, Bad People has seamlessly illustrated the fact that cinema is a medium that could not just render entertainment but also could help in effectively propagating the different facets of a society to the audience.

 

 

5 things I liked in Bairavaa

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Bairavaa could well be termed as Vijay’s revisit to the style of film making that once had helped his movies to rake profits in box office, had garnered him a loyal fan base and eventually gave him a big boost to his stardom. Having watched the movie, I have come up with this write-up jotting down the aspects that I liked in Bairavaa.

Here are five things that I liked in Bairavaa:

5. Screenplay that plays to the gallery:

It was way back in 2007 when we saw Bharathan making his debut as a Director in Tamil Cinema with Azhagiya Tamil Magan. Vijay was then fresh after delivering Pokkiri, a movie filled with a balanced blend of seamless screenplay and massy moments sufficing the fastidious fan boys and general audience alike. These factors that aided greatly for the stupendous success of Pokkiri failed to make their mark in Azhagiya Tamil Magan.

Almost a decade later, Bharathan is back as Bharhathan with Bairavaa. This time he looks clearer in his approach…the approach of taking one aspect (Fan boy appeasing moments) at a time and constructing an engaging screenplay around the aspect. In other words, he has delivered a product that plays to the gallery. Of late, Vijay’s movies have been studded with sequence of scenes that his hard-core fans would genuinely glorify for days. Bairavaa is also driven by the same template. It looked like Bharhathan had conceived such sequences keeping in mind the temperament of the fans.

4. Dialogues offering ‘theatre’ moments to the hard-core fans:

Be it the personal branding driven ones as in Ghilli or the story oriented ones as in Kaththi, dialogues have always been one among the fortes of Vijay’s movies. In terms of dialogues, I have always been expecting Vijay to deliver a movie with an authentic spice of Ghilli which he has been shying away from, for a while. This was my state of mind until the release of Bairavaa’s teaser. Right after watching the teaser, a sense of excitement did creep into my mind pertaining to the flavour of the movie.

My excitement got manifold post the trailer’s release. It made me feel, “What better a person could Vijay have opted for other than Bharhathan for him to proffer the audience a movie possessing dialogues along the lines of Ghilli?” In terms of dialogues, I would admit that Bairavaa is not Bharhathan’s Ghilli. But, at the same time, I would say that the crisp and the measured dialogues did offer some ‘theatre’ moments for the hard-core fans of Vijay.

3. Pulsating theme track and SaNa’s touch in background score:

As far as my memories are concerned, previously it was in Aaranya Kaandam where I came across a pleasant background score for a sequence that is packed with ruthless stunts backed by some fiery expressions of the artists involved. Along the lines of the Yuvan’s composition in Aaranya Kaandam, in Bairavaa, for a stunt sequence, there is a Hans Zimmeresque rendition by Santhosh Narayanan. I would describe it as Santhosh Narayanan’s touch in Bairavaa’s background score.

As far as the theme track is concerned, it has ably sufficed the larger than life depiction of the character, Bairavaa enacted by Vijay in the movie. Not to deny the fact that the theme has been over-used in the movie. At the same time, not to put aside the fact that the track has proffered a vibrant mood irrespective of the sequence in which it has been utilised in the movie.

2. Surprise in the eye-catching stunt package of Bairavaa:

Right from Thupakki, Vijay’s movies have been possessing considerable number of eye-catching stunt sequences. Amidst such sequences, there have been few fun-filled ones too. In fact, the very sharing of the concept of certain stunt sequences tends to be interesting.  Same continues to be so in Bairavaa as well.

In spite of all the stunt sequences in Bairavaa being striking, the sequence that stood fresh among the lot was the one that has been shot in slo-mo in the post interval segment backed by a score that is unconventional to a stunt sequence. It was indeed a surprising one from the movie’s stunt package. It was quite refreshing to experience the approach in the execution of such an over the top choreography.

1. Vijay, an undisputable show stealer:

Vijay has been one among the few top stars in Tamil Cinema, who with their demeanor have been implicitly imprinting the importance of fitness for an action hero. But, the manner in which Vijay has been exuding energy has been complementing his demeanor. As far as this aspect is concerned, Bairavaa is no exception. First aspect that came to my mind while watching Vijay in Bairavaa was his flawless physical fitness.

Be it the boyish enactments or the spirited dialogue renditions or the grace in the dance or the liveliness in the fight, yet another natural performance comes out from Vijay. Vijay exhibiting spontaneity, in all these aspects, is always a delight to watch. Vijay deftly continues to do his good work in a movie that has done hefty investment on him and is heavily reliant upon him to make it an engaging affair.

All said and done, Bairavaa is not a movie that would pacify the individuals possessing Christopher Nolanesque mind-sets. Rather, it is meant for the die-hard fans of the star and for the ones who expect nothing but an engaging content.

Dangal – ‘Seamless digital take on women uplift’

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Spoilers ahead…

The film opens with Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) watching Seoul Olympics, in a television, in his office. In a casual manner, he verbally anguishes over the sad state of affairs of people not patronizing wrestling enough. His brief monologue remains as a preaching to deaf ears. Listening to Singh, a guy who has just joined the office takes pot-shots at him. Mahavir level-headedly takes jibe at the guy. Provoked by the remarks, the guy offers an attitudinal invitation to him for a short wrestle. A win in the wrestling bout comes as a cakewalk to Mahavir. Having been defeated, the guy arrogantly reveals his credentials as the former state level champion wrestler. To which, Mahavir placates the guy by letting him know what sort of a wrestler he was.

The above sequence of events proffers a perfect kick-start to the movie. Because, it pretty much summarizes the intactness of the burning passion in Mahavir towards wrestling. In fact, this burning passion is what that remains the crux of Dangal. One might coin the movie as being simplistic, realistic and predictable. The point is inarguably true. But, what is equally inarguable in Dangal is its seamless and sequential screenplay. Various sequences of scenes take one phase of the movie’s primary characters’ life at a time and play them out in an engaging manner. But, in most of such sequences, beyond a particular point, we mentally clamor for a turn-around. Surprisingly, we get a turn-around. It might seem exaggerated to say that the director does a live reading of the audience’s mind at such moments.

Few instances to share in this regard:

Firstly, Mahavir feels, having a male child, would be handy for him to groom and suffice his dream of winning gold in wrestling for the country. But, what he ends up with are 4 daughters. Mahavir feels his dreams are shuttered once and for all. What we look forward here in the screenplay is for a turn-around. We get one. Indeed, a funny one.

Secondly, we get to see the daughters of Mahavir (Geeta and Babita) unwillingly succumbing to the relentless training sessions of their father (Not to forget an emotional scene, amidst such tiring sessions, where Aamir enacts, Mahavir’s imbalanced oscillations between that of a caring father and an unrelenting coach, by holding onto one of his daughter’s feet). We get entertained with the dark humor sequences for a while. But, there needs to be an end to this sequence. In other words, there needs to be a progress in the screenplay. We expect a turn-around. We get one. This time, it is an emotional one.

Thirdly, post an unfavorable incident, Mahavir and Geeta, go for a ‘not on speaking terms’ for a while. During such times, a kind of ‘Gap’ gets created not only between the father and daughter; but also between Geeta and her victory in the wrestling bouts. At this point of time, we expect an occasion that breaks the silence between the father and daughter and the father to guide his daughter to march towards victory in wrestling. Now, we get an intense and an emotional conversation between the father and daughter, over a phone call.

Fourthly, we get to see Geeta tasting success in the wrestling bouts, predominantly by depending on the live motivation and the guidance of her father. Now, one might expect, ‘When is this girl going to write her history all by herself?’ We get to witness the answer towards the movie’s finale.

Fifthly and finally, while watching the last wrestling bout in the movie, one can apparently anticipate that the result is going to be on a positive note. But, how a father who is in a disconcerting situation gets to realize, via implicit means, that his dream has been fulfilled? The answer did really make most of the audience stand for a while and render a salute. Can this reciprocation of respect by the audience be seen as a response as a result of their emotional connect with the situation of the movie or can this gesture be seen as a mark of respect and a red carpet welcome to the concept of women uplift that has been touched upon in the movie? Only the course of time could render an answer to this question.

Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada – ‘An engaging movie, despite an ineffective climax’

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Spoilers ahead…

One’s cursory view at the plot of Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (AYM) might bring back the memories of Director Lingusamy’s 2010 romantic road action film, Paiyya. Starting the tale of AYM in a Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaaesque backdrop, the movie then routes itself into a dark mode that one would have witnessed in earlier ventures of Director Gautham Vasudev Menon (GVM) such as Kaakha Kaakha (KK),Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (VV) and Yennai Arindhaal (YA). So, it appears like GVM saying: For AYM as well, I take cues from my earlier movies. From then on, one would expect the movie to carry the essence of GVM till the end. But, what we get is a turnaround towards the climax where the sequences tend to take the form of a fan boy-appeasing vehicle. Here it seems like GVM saying: But in AYM, I also take cues from Hari and Lingusamy.

In the preliminary segments of AYM, we get to see STR, as the flick’s hero, following suit the love principle of Karthik (role enacted by STR in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa) which is, “Kaadhal athuva varanum…nambala poattu thaakkanum…thala keela poattu thiruppanum” and keep waiting for his girl. For a while, we are entertained with the amusements of STR, Sathish (Dancer Sathish does an actor Sathish in AYM) and co. And the day arrives; in fact his sister’s buddy…his girl (Manjima Mohan as Leela with a natural and an unpretentious innocence fits the bill) arrives for a temporary stay at his home. What better a situation can the AYM hero crave for? The stage here is well set to play the ever-green Gautham Vasudev Menon Romance. In fact, in AYM, the romance is at its casual best.

The romantic endeavor goes like this: Hero keeps ogling at his girl; awkwardly shies away when she reciprocates furtively with a glance. He keeps doing this on a persistent basis. With growing casual talks between the couple grows their intimacy. A sense of trust over the hero encourages Leela to accompany the hero’s pre-planned road trip via bike. Following which are wonderful moments analogous to the monologue, “Paakka paakka paesa paesa love…clean…pure…love”. Beautifying the romantic angle even more are the elite, mesmerizing tunes of A.R.Rahman and the rich, picture-perfect camera works of Dan Macarthur.

There comes an end to all the beautiful pleasantries with an unexpected turn of events around the interval point. The acknowledgement that the movie is inspired by a moment from The Godfather finds a place here. Post this revelation, the film transforms into a dark action thriller. The post-interval dark ride leaves the audience to clamor escapism for the lead couple. Amidst all these tense moments, there are some heart-wrenching moments too. Emotions vented out by Leela reciprocating to the love proposal of the hero did sound well on screen. A follow-up to this, which as a sweet surprise to a few and as a shocking twist to many, the genre of the flick, for the second time, shifted gears and this is where Gautham tried to be a Hari or a Lingusamy. In other words, the transition of the genres seemed analogous to the split personality act of Vikram in Anniyan.

On the downside, a menacing antagonist, along the lines of KK’s Pandiya, VV’s Amudhan and Ilamaran and YA’s Victor, catalyzing the transformation of the protagonist (who is with a devil-may-care attitude) into a person with a free will outlook is to an extent lacking in AYM (With their limited scopes as baddies, Baba Sehgal and Daniel Balaji appease quite well). Had AYM been the venture of an out and out masala movie director focusing predominantly on an over-the-top cat-and-mouse game then the finale of this movie would have filled the bill. Being GVM’s movie, AYM falters in this segment. In this sequence, the clips showcasing the root cause of the unpleasant realities chasing the couple takes a back seat by proffering the control to a quickly passing monologue, which narrates the core plot of the movie in a nutshell. At this point, it seemed like the movie which started just like Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa would end up in a KKesque fashion. But, it did not do so.

Kodi – ‘A big ticket entertainer that is equally realistic’

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Spoilers ahead…

Two young politicians (Kodi, played by Dhanush and Rudhra, played by Trisha), belonging to rival front line political parties, are in love – in secrecy indeed. In an unexpected chain of events, Kodi and Rudhra are pitted against each other in their political careers by their respective camps. We await a concoction of sequences of over the top cat-and-mouse-game between the couple analogous to a roller-coaster ride. But, what we get is a convincing entertainer that is nearer to reality.

As Kodi, Dhanush successfully revives his hey days in Durai Senthilkumar’s realistic political thriller Kodi. In his debut dual act, be it in the swagger display of the straight forward, righteous and the progressive Kodi (progressive enough even as a kid to replace the strip of vibhuti with vermilion in his widowed mother’s forehead) or the lily-livered enactment of the academic Anbu, Dhanush of the Velai Illa Pattadhari days is back. Personal branding of the lead star taking a back seat is a welcome sign indeed.

In spite of having a big hero on board, the director has managed to utilize every actor by proffering them a fair share of screen space. There’s the relationship between a mother and her sons, between siblings, between the central characters and their love interests, between friends… all these elements deliver a product that is highly story oriented. Backing it equally are its unpretentious background score and cinematography.

Padaiyappa’s Ramya Krishnanesque kind of cunning and an ambitious Rudhra is all what a character like Kodi deserves to be pitted against. Exhibiting a menacing intention coupled with a flawless beauty is all what the saree clad Trisha has to present to complement the character of Rudhra. With that kiddie kind of demeanor, Trisha does the act pretty decently.

Following suit the age-old scenario of Tamil Cinema, Saranya Ponvannan as the mother of Kodi and Anbu, continues to express the displeasure of a helicopter parent over Kodi’s extended support to public affairs as politician (in spite of Kodi being an influential personality in the locality for his good deeds). Mother’s love getting manifold on her kid when both are not on speaking terms for a while, has been beautifully conveyed. How better the feeling could have been expressed than it has been presented by Saranya in Kodi? And, we have the heart-rending ‘Aariraaro’, along the lines of Velai Illa Pattadhari‘s heart-wrenching ‘Amma Amma’, which complements the quotient of ‘amma’ sentiment in the movie.

At one point of time in Kodi, the character Anbu is let a dangerous social issue, mercury poisoning, be known via the minuscule role of Malathi (played by the Premam fame Anupama Parameswaran). Director deserves a round of applause for taking up the problem of mercury poisoning in a biggie that features a star like Dhanush. But, it really feels odd to leave the solution to such a high profile social issue unattended.

Post interval, for a while, it was disconcerting; reason being the screenplay neither letting me know the antagonist nor offering me a glimpse of what this story is destined to (Thanks to the gags of Singamuthu that provide a temporary relief in this phase). But the unsettling feeling quickly passes after the cruel approaches of Rudhra, towards her intention, are clearly served on screen. As a follow-up to this revelation, the catchy idea of ‘Once a twin, always a twin’ finds its place in the screenplay; following which the narration gets studded with few fan-boy appeasing moments. In fact, this segment seemed like a fitting farewell to the movie.

M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story – ‘Heeds More On The Bed Of Roses With A Slight Glimpse Of The Thorns’

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Spoilers ahead…

The paramount motif of the much anticipated biopic, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story has been to outline the illustrious journey of one of the most celebrated sports personality of India, Dhoni right from his birth till Cricket World Cup 2011. Not to mention the movie emphatically stressing the inundated moral support, that Dhoni had received from his family members, friends, well-wishers, fellow colleagues and fans during the course of the journey. Excluding few relishing and bitter moments from the professional life of Dhoni, a brief presentation of the happenings from his personal life, permeate into the majority duration of the flick.

Whether it is Dhoni’s walk, his innocuous smile or his nature of staying calm and composed in dire straits, Sushant Singh Rajput goes all out in securing a flawless replica of one of the prides of the Indian cricket fraternity, on the silver screen. Spotless simulation of the Caribbean style cricketing shots and the greatly admired ‘Helicopter Shot’ of Dhoni by Sushant deserves a special mention. In a role, if hit a home run in terms of performance, which could flesh out an actor’s nation-wide reach, Sushant Singh Rajput has struck gold in rendering a picture-perfect enactment of one of the most admired personality of the country. Determined efforts of Sushant should have been complemented better by some even more carefully outlined visual effects.

The narration in the movie seems to be steady when it deals with the happenings that are little-known. But, on the downside, the portions that present the occurrences that are familiar (such as the prominent fixtures) seem to be hastily placed without coherence in their sequential display. Rather than kindling one’s nostalgia, the usage of too many television footages tend to reproduce the feel of an uncomforting travel in a smooth road embedded with too many speed breakers.

If not the two romantic segments of Sushant (one involving Disha Patani and the other with Kiara Advani) amidst the sequences (that seem to be a concoction of television footages) in the post interval portion, the second half of the movie would have rendered a feel of a documentary. Plethora of cuteness of the adorable pair of Sushant and Disha (essaying the role of ‘Priyanka’) make the portions driven by them seem to be moving. In contrast, the clips involving the bubbly Kiara (enacting the role of ‘Sakshi’) turn out to be pleasant and fun-filled.

Smartly, Neeraj heeds more on the bed of roses in the life of Dhoni with a slight glimpse of the thorns. With the character of the protagonist being striking, the director enhances the image of Dhoni by illustrating his impressive traits such as attitude, shrewdness and discipline. More emphasis has been given to the ‘teetotaller’ tag of Dhoni by making Sushant getting irked and advocating his friend to get rid of the harming habit of drinking. Acceptability of the audience over the childhood version of the protagonist being shown possessing razor-sharp mind would have been relatively less if this movie would not have been a biopic on Dhoni.

With the detailing done about the bouquet of people around Dhoni, it looks like as if Dhoni was surrounded only by well-wishers (excluding two of Dhoni’s colleagues in Railways who go on to escalate him to his higher ups). In addition to its intent of endorsing Dhoni, the movie has complimented the other stalwarts who had contributed in constructing the mighty empire of Indian cricket that it is today; the occasions where Sourav Ganguly had approved Dhoni’s place in the playing eleven of the national team, the moment where Sushant as Dhoni briefly summarizes Yuvraj’s herculean innings, to his friends, in the Under-19 Cooch-Behar trophy post the match, the scenes where the little master is held in high esteem, the deliberations held between Jagmohan and Dilip regarding the revamp in the selection process pertaining to the national cricket team. The film also takes a dig at the media that had once showcased the so-called rift between Dhoni and Sehwag.