Film Review: Grand Master (2012) | Malayalam | B. Unnikrishnan | Mohanlal, Naren, Jagathy, Priya Mani, Anoop Menon

I loved the film. Period. Therefore, I was a little disturbed and surprised at the not so good reviews.

To me it seemed to be one of the better made thrillers in some time in Malayalam filmdom or Mollywood as some refer to it.

Mohanlal in the character of the head cop is different from the aggressive cop roles played by Suresh Gopi in Commissioner and Tiger. It is also different from the Sethuram Iyer roles played by Mammootty in the CBI series. If this character has to be likened to somebody it has to be the cop played by Anupam Kher in A Wednesday. If my memory serves me right, Mohanlal plays the role assigned to Kher in A Wednesday’s Tamil remake.

As in films, this head cop has a past, a briliant past as a police officer  that is brought down like a stack of dominoes as a result of a personal crisis. The current case, the ABC muders and the murderer brings his past into the present; his personal past gets entangled with the professional present. Most of the murders are revenge stories, this one is no different. However, the narration takes the audience away from the personal and the vengence in the first half. It makes us focus on the professional present and while we are at it, the narration takes us back to the past. Every character falls into place and the film ends in a grandiose way.

The two motifs that take the film forward are the motif of the stage and the motif of the chess board. Grandmaster, the title is related to the game, and in the film the battle is between the cop and the murderer and among them who wins the title of the grandmaster… the tweaks in narration and narrative flow is brilliant where at every move, there is the scene of the two players on either side of the chess board. The face of the villain/murderer is revealed in the end. The film enters its climax and resolution through the motif of the stage. Both Shakespeare (stage) and the mystery writer Agatha Christie (ABC Murders) are remembered.

The dramatics and the face paint on the villain in the end, especially during the scene when he is lured on to the stage where his identity is revealed is brilliantly executed. There is an aftertaste of a drama there…. the spotlight, the exits and entrances… The film brings to life… what is oft quoted from Shakespeare’s As You Like It:

“…. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances …”

The plot of the film is such that one man sets out to direct a set of serial murders – a set of ABC Murders, however he also makes a cop a participant in it. The police chase begins … Apart from the Bard and Christie, a third idea comes from the Da Vinci Code*… where, a man, the dummy killer is persuaded to commit the acts of murder (Aside: believe that for the time being), the cause – religious persuasion leading to blind faith in one human being…. whom he thinks is God himself!

The songs are hummable… Arike vaAranu Ni is catchy. Edited to add: it is much later I realized from an interview that vijay yesudas sang akaleyo ni… love it, it runs as a loop on many days, beautifully sung. The man sings very well, and has a range. For instance, mangalyam from bangalore days is also sung by him, but it is of a very different timbre.

One cannot rush through the film… The slow pace, gives it the edge, the intermittent scenes of Mohanlal with the Chess Boards, with his nameless, faceless opponent gives a meta view of the tale itself….

  • Babu Antony’s make-up and make over – good.
  • The kid who plays their daughter – charming
  • Mark Roshan is expressive
  • Anoop Menon should come in cameo roles 🙂
  • Priya Mani’s saris – loved them
  • Naren looks so toned down in body as well as acting….

There is no rush of the youth, it is a calm mental game…calculated of course. I hope I have not put forh spoilers 😛

Film Review: Spirit (2012) | Malayalam | Ranjit-Mohanlal

Finally Spirit released in Bombay this weekend and we flocked to watch it at Maxus Cinemas. The movie and the theatre both a first time, as the usual theatres got filled quickly (much awaited movie). 8 of us trooped into the theatre, out of which a couple of them were looking out for the movie release eagerly, sent mails, scraps, messages to all and sundry to release it in Bby 😛 😛 The delayed release did cause a minor frustration that it was released a month or two later here, when others films, namely, Ustad Hotel came and went.

  • So Spirit… An out and out MohanlalRanjit movie.. I keep Lal’s name first as he is visually present on screen, the charm of the actor … Renjith, second as of course how can we forget the think head behind the tale.. Aha 🙂 😛
  • Do watch Spirit if you haven’t already… it is about the evil called addiction – could be any form… brings to us the problem of alcoholism, the difference between social drinking and addiction, when and where to stop and get treatment… I think..
  • Mohanlal the actor, the complete actor as they say in some websites… well the wink of an eye, the flick of a finger, the feel of his hand over a child’s hair… you feel it coming out of the screen to you, we imbibe as audience…
  • His unique receiver in this movie, I want to get a similar one 😛 , the cloth texture looks like that of a band dress, said a friend.
  • Another observation a friend made, – the no smoking, no drinking sign/words to the left bottom corner of the screen never seemed intruding or imposed, it was part of the movie as the story.
  • Siddharth Bharathan – mwaahs to that guy. Seems decades away from the college boy role of Nammal, the sukamano song… the maturity, the beard, the act of just caressing the beard… his craft
  • Alexy – felt the character too good.. and you know what, there was an Alexy among us inside the hall, that many of us pointed out to him while the show started after the interval 😛 😛 as he walked in with his popcorns and coffee
  • Meera – subtle movements, watch her body language when Raghu starts his fights to wreck the party

    Nandu as plumber Maniyam – he is such an under utilized actor!

  • Lena – I think for the first time dubbing for herself – well, she is also getting small meaty roles these days – her best scene, when she walked away from a preachy Raghu (Mohanlal) at a party at Casa Rosa, angry, but stood and smiled – that act 🙂
  • Furniture : The living room partition frame in Raghunadan’s house – those circles, so fully used framing so many artifacts in that house – especially a crane on a side table, framing Mohanlal’s face many a time…
  • I should be ashamed that I did not recognize O V Vijayan – but that portrait was a piece.
  • Siddharth Bharathan‘s act in white during the another song 
  • Costume : Mohanlal’s black shirt and dhoti at the party where he picks up a fight with Lena, his chocolate brown shirt and a dhoti again in a different scene
  • Madhu in atrocious flowery blue shirts! took some time to digest the appearance! reluctant still !!!
  • It could have been a little less talk from Mohanlal’s character Raghunandan – the arrogant narcissist … preachy at times!
  • Then what – popcorns – don’t order the caramel ones.  For the caramel popcorn – head to R City –  but the Samosa‘s were really tasty, so Maxus Cinemas  🙂
  • Suraj: Hats off to him for acting out a role without his typical funny ways and accent, what that is called reversal of audience expectation 🙂
  • Siddique – your voice over 🙂 loved it
  • And this look – Mohanlal look with the spec – awesome 🙂

Problems: There were some problems with continuity – especially the last part – the transformation was predictable. Things did not smoothly gel in the second half – The movie would have worked even without the transformation of the Manyan. The let down! free education at Choice! Aha! publicity stunt! too much. Good to see Vijay Menon in person. We have been hearing his voice for long long time.

And may be finally what the movie teaches you, where there is a will there is always a way… the problem is the will needs to be self motivated, self thought out, an outside force may influence, but it is all up to the individual 🙂

Cast: Mohanlal (Raghunandan/Raghu), Kaniha (Meera), Shankar Ramakrishnan (Alexy) (Alexy & Meera run Casa Rosa), Tiny Tom (Bartender John at Koshy’s Bar), Sidharth Bhadran (Sameer, a budding lyricist),Thilakan (Aashan), Madhu (A retired shippie, neighbour to Raghu), Lena Abhilash (ASP ASP Supriya Raghavan IPS), Kalpana (Pankajam, househelp, wife to Plumber Manyan), Nandu (Plumber Manyan)| Director: Renjith| Producer: Antony Perumbavoor|Banner: Aashirvad Cinemas| Lyrics: Rafiq Ahamed| Cinematography: Venu| Editing: Vijai Sankar |Art Direction: Santhosh Raman | Story/Writer: Ranjith |Costume: Sameera Saneesh

A big thanks to Ranjit for making the movie. Worth watching it for every aspect 🙂

Verdict: I did not like the movie much. It was interesting, but it lacked something. But Mohanlal on screen after long… watch it for the theme, and performances of Lal, Nandu, Siddharth and the frames …