Take-off (2017)|Mahesh Narayan|Parvathy, Kunchacko Boban, Fahad Faasil

Takeoff is a well made film in all its departments, conceived, and executed well by its technicians and actors. The only problem I had with the film was, to me, it seemed more like a documentary, which is also is a way of filmmaking. There is no doubt the film will amass awards, Parvathy, in particular, who has held the film together from start to end. I loved Fahad Faasil’s role as the Indian Ambassador, Manoj Abraham, the best among the key characters. 

Takeoff is a Malayalam film released in 2017 based on true events surrounding the rescue of 46 nurses held hostage in Tikrit, Iraq in 2014. The film on top of that, is a tribute to late Rajesh Pillai (d. March 2016) the director who gave Malayalees, Traffic, touted to be the film that changed film making in Malayalam in recent times. 

C/o Saira Banu (2017) Malayalam | Manju Warrier, Amala Akkineni, Shane Nigam

Manju Warrier dons the role of a postwoman, Saira Banu. She lives with her college going son, Joshua Peter played by Shane Nigam. That’s the mystery the trailer leaves you with. Keeping the religious parentage mystery aside, the story moves on to a murder of a Bengali worker in a freak road accident one night. Joe, short for Joshua is implicated on multiple charges, arrested and in prison in remand. Amala plays advocate Annie John Tharavadi who is convinced about Joe’s part in the road accident. The crux of the story is none of above, but about motherhood. Watch the film to know the tale. 

There are major lip sync issues especially with Amala, who also has only one smiling expression all through. It is difficult to believe she is the one who sat in a corner covered in blood in the last scenes of Ulldakkam! Shane is a very cute guy on screen, Manju Warrier still needs to look out for a role that can give her a comeback boost. 

What’s the first memory of you? | Lion (2016) | Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nichole Kidman

What’s the first memory of you from long long time ago? I remember the night my brother was born, when my mother came out of the bedroom and told my father, that it is time to go to the hospital. A rainy night in August, it was around 11 or 12, a Saturday night therefore I was awake that late.

After effect of watching the film LION. A boy is lost when he was a child. 25 years later he goes in search of his mother and brother. The trailer is pretty intriguing too.

PS. It takes about 53 minutes for the back story of the film to come to the present and begin the search. The narration is linear, no flash backs. The pace keeps the interest going. and the trauma of a boy who remembers his past brings up an emotional connection. it is quite an adventure. the younger Surru is adorable!

It is always the little memories. In case of Suru (Dev Patel) it is the jalebis/immerthis that rekindles his urgency to get set go and search for his mother and elder brother. I remember a birthday of mine when my maternal uncle gifted me ladoos, 9 ladoos, for my 9th birthday because I was crazy about them, but the size of the ladoo was 5 ladoos put together, I could hardly finish one.

Manichitrathazhu & the newgen Malayalee

As recent as last week, I hear somebody say that Manichitrathazhu is a crappy film. Pin drop silence followed. It takes time to digest statements like these among a certain breed of Malayalees who love, adore this film. It is a topic which the new age Malayalee brought up in the 90s and after can talk endlessly on if they are movie buffs. Even if they are not, references from the film in the nature of songs, dialogue and trolls pop up every other day.

Manichitrathazhru is a 1993 Malayalam film directed by Faasil starring Mohanlal, Shobana, (she won her first national award for her role as Ganga), Suresh Gopi (one of the two roles in which I love Suresh Gopi the other being the character he played in Innale), Vinaya Prasad in the lead ( who made her way later into Malayalee daily life with her popularity in the non ending serial Sthree alongside Sidduque aired on Asianet), with Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, KPSC Lalita, Ganesh as the supporting cast. To the non Malayalee/non Madrasi as Shaggy puts it, this film is what inspired Chandrmukhi in Tamil and Bhool Bhulaiya in Hindi in recent years. A film, I’d recommend to anybody who’d ask me about what to watch in Malayalam.

Given this context, when somebody says, everybody in the film over acts, the reaction to such is first silence, then may be a kootathalu (a street rabble) or a long discussion that never seems to end. (snarling!)

What is that makes Manichitrathazhru special? For one, I’m a fan of its narration. Two, how the plot itself begins to deconstruct the myth it creates. For instance in scene one, Innocent is seen inspecting the painting work in an age old palace which is declared haunted. As he climbs up the stairs, he accidentally hits on a rocking chair which continues to rock for a while, so much so that when Innocent walks down and runs out, he feels the ghost is in the chair, rocking. I will never tire of speaking/writing about this film, but as an introduction to it, I guess this little bit should suffice. Until somebody else begins a discussion on how muscular Vidya Balan looked while she lifted that heavy cot in the Hindi adaptation, signing off…

Manichitrathazhru means a lock, one of those traditional locks on ornate wooden doors.

Utharam (1989) (in search of an answer) | MT Vasudevan Nair|Pavithran | Mammooty, Sukumaran, Suparna, Parvathy

Utharam (meaning answer) one of my favourite Malayalam films is a murder mystery. Leena (an upcoming poet and a happy sort of wife) commits suicide without any provocation one morning using her planter husband’s (sukumaran) double barrel gun.

Her husband is heart broken. The servants in the house are distraught. Mammooty, a close friend of the family is unable to console any of them and himself. Everyone is shocked, trying to come to grips with what has happened to their beloved Leena/leenamma as they call her affectionately.

Mammooty with the permission of his friend begins a personal investigation to find out the cause for Leena’a sudden decision. He begins with her published poems, her diary entries, and gradually travels to her past, meets different people associated with her since childhood, and her school days. The plot is very similar to a police procedural, but it moves forward without that quintessential police officer. As it is a journey of a friend into a friend’s past there are moments when the journey turns quite emotional.

Does he find the answer – utharam to her death? Is the million dollar queation.

The film stars Sukumaran (husband – the planter), Mammotty (journalist friend), Suparna (upcoming poet, wife who dies) Parvathy (prof and close friebd of Leena). Written by MT Vasudevan Nair, Directed by Pavithran.

Ore Mukham (2016) & Angels (2014)

Two films in Malayalam I stubbled upon by chance. They turned out to be thrillers of the police prodecural kinds.

Ore Mukham (same face)  released last year with a cast of Dhyan Srinivasan, Aju Varghese and their friends who until now have made out and out comedies when cast together like in kootamani.  That’s the twist of the tale, I began watching the film thinking of it as one such but it began with a murder, to be continued with an investigation and finally there was a killer, (obviously!) I found it very similar to Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kaalathu (1990) or I was reminded of the film, one of the two, I don’t know which. 

Even Angels for that matter is a benign title. Who would have thought it would be the story of three murders? With Indrajit Sukumaran in the lead who sits down to solve a crime with the help of a journalist and a live talk show host Haritha. 

The non linear narration makes the twists and turns interesting! 

#13/1 Dangal Anthem

The national anthem was played and everybody in the hall stood up. This was before the film had begun. However, during the national anthem played in between Dangal when the girl won a wrestling gold, nobody stood up. Nobody even so much cared for patriotism or nation or treason. A few were sipping their cokes, and others their coffee, while munching on their popcorn, and their sandwiches, or biting into their momos, or chewing noisily on their nachos. There were hushed whispers as to how the climax of the film came about. Still nobody stood up during the national anthem.

I thought the national anthem had to be respected irrespective of whether it is played before the screening of the film, after, during and whenever it is heard/played.

#strangetimes #strangerrules

Short Film: Interior Cafe Night | Adhiraj Bose

I stumbled upon this short film by accident on the previous day of Naseeruddin Shah’s birthday. It was important because he plays the lead alongside Shernaz Patel. The short film is Interior Cafe Night. I found it kind of cutely done the way two people meet after years, and how they recollect their little things in the most natural way. The story is also something else, but that is for you to watch and smile! I generally don’t miss anything from Shah, I enjoyed Waiting to bits, and this one came as a surprise! He looks very cute when he says some lines.. as always, the actor that he is. Shernaz with her presence makes it sweeter! Enjoy.

Naseeruddin Shah & Kalki Koechlin in Anu Menon’s Waiting (2016)

I would say go watch Waiting. Not just for Shah and Koechlin, but for the concept behind the film. Because it is something which people tend to easily overlook… Click here for the full review and here for one my waits

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Charlie (2015) Martin Prakkat, Dulquer Salman, Parvathy

Charlie is a 2015 Malayalam film directed by Martin Prakkat with Dulquer Salman and Parvathy in the lead, supported by Aparna Gopinath, Nedumudi Venu, KPAC Lalita and Kalpana, Neeraj Madhav et al. The film is narrated through the journey of Tessa (Parvathy) who goes in search of the tenant, Charlie (DQ) who stayed in a room she rented before her. Among his things he left behind, she finds an unfinished graphic novel. With it begins a search for the rest of the story, the tenant who drew it and a direction for the plot.

The story of Charlie begins thus. It would have been an ordinary story if not for that room, its exquisite interiors with its crafty stairs, paper lanterns, tinted bottles, wind chimes created by the art director, Jayashree Lakshmi Narayan. We enter with Tessa into Charlie’s world through this house, through the caricatures he has drawn of the people he has met and observed.. And stories some of those people have to say about him… Like he says, “what if we are not real and somebody’s imagination”. Sameera Saneesh dresses Dulquer in some very uber cool colourful attire to bring a very touristy feel and a feeling of lying lazily on the beach .. It brings alive the carefree life Charlie leads .. Through Jomon T John’s lens spanning parts of cochin and munnar (i think) a little more of the ever so loving, sanguine and enigmatic nature of Martin Prakkat’s and Unni R’s Charlie is revealed.. Tessa falls in love with the stories she hears of Charlie and the image she has sketched of him.. And goes in search of him..

Between Charlie and Tessa, Charlie is brought up by his father who has given him the freedom to explore his potential. But Tessa turns out to be the rebellious daughter who runs away from home to pursue her music and animation career against her families plans for her. So, her every step is seen as an effrontery in the eyes of her family where as Charlie has such qualms, he is born, brought and lives like the free bird.. the film gives us two characters who almost at the face of it lead the same kind of life.. But, there is a big but.. Through the banner of Finding Cinema, a very apt banner, the producers have tried to explore cinema taking the art director and costume designer also into their confidence to see what happens if Charlie and Tessa are let loose. The film with its choice of props, locations, shots, aesthetics, narration and depiction make an ordinary love story magical and exciting..

All that said and done, Charlie would have been a better film if it had a stronger storyline. The film comes alive in its moments… These moments or episodes are scattered accounts of Charlie by different people. The supporting cast – Nedumudi Venu is a joy to watch, his interactions with Charlie are just spot on.. Kalpana, she is no more as of this morning has a poignant but small role which moves the plot forward.. Dulquer, he has carried off the role of this character well, an extension of his Aju in Bangalore Days except that here, he is backed by his father in his every endeavour. Parvathy as Tesa has given an excellent performance different from what her role and period demanded of her as Kanchana in Ennu Ninte Moideen. The transition in her is worth a watch ..

I felt the first half a tad bit slow, but the film picks up pace in the second half… For the rebellious.. this is their film, .. It revels in such quirkiness and rebellion, from the dress to scenery .. It upsets the stereotypes of the society and its expectations, but shows that benevolent souls exist.

One highlight of the film for me was nobody dies, ails or is diagnosed with those bigger illnesses like cancer or some such… Usually films that build up momentum towards a certain character brings about the climax with such a revelation. Even if Charlie’s character is built up to be this Good Samaritan, the rescue man and benevolent soul like other reviews have said… he is still active and living life, dreaming everything in double by the end of the film.. (like Bunny says in the climax of Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.) A feel good film.. A happy film..

Watch it for Dulquer, for Parvathy for the art director, costume designer and the cinematographer… A creative film where a lot of thought has gone into the prepping the look. Distributed by Mammooty’s PlayHouse, directed by Martin Prakkat and written by Unni R, all from Mammotty’s film camp.

Blogathon’16 Day 24