#51

Raid is a 2018 Hindi language film directed by Raj Kumar Gupta with Ajay Devgan and Saurab Shukla playing the leads.

Though he has doned different roles, to me Saurab Shukla will always remain Gopi from Tehkikaat. That funny assistant who looks up to his detective friend, Sam (Vijay Anand). In this film in the role of the villain, Thauji, the landlord who is raided, he has the maximum scope of emotions.

Turns out, I don’t remember the last film I stepped into a theatre to watch Ajay Devgan act. It could be as long as more than 10 years with Bhagat Singh or his home production, Raju Chacha. Was he a part of that political drama based on the Mahabharata starring Ranbhir Kapoor & Katrina Kaif with a mother who couldn’t act – Rajneeti. Even that film seems to be a long time ago. You get the point don’t you?

Here, he plays this ‘ultra’ honest ‘patriotic’ officer (you should here his lines about nationalism and mother India) who is also shown to be madly deeply in love with his (newly wedded) wife (Ileana D’Cruz). If their romance was the so called comic relief in this terse drama — it turns out to be more of an irritation, incumbrance & subversion to the plot!

Picture this, Devgan as Amay Patnaik, 10-15 of his department colleagues, with a blue bus full of police troops (think guns, helmets, troops running out to make a boundary line) is at the house of this (most) powerful man, Thauji (Shukla), searching his haveli (mansion like house) for the black money and the records he has kept hidden. Apparently, this is a secret operation so that nobody in high places can tip off this influential man, also a politician, also a member of the parliament to hide his illegal assets elsewhere!

The ‘beautiful’ dainty wife walks in with a tiffin box at lunch time for her IRS officer husband saying, you’d be tired, or the wife knows everything!!!! Comic relief, absolutely. Initially I was horrified, the emotion turned to irritation and finally sarcasm! 😉

The film would have retained its seriousness without this couple angle! Nevertheless, the wives and the kids (when they are present) is the pawn to coerce the honest officers into succumbing to the corrupt villain!

The plot is based on true events about the longest recorded raid in the history of Indian Revenue Service (IRS) – roughly 2 days in 1981. The ending is inspired from a couple of incidents from real life, the aftermath of raids in these towns.

I agree that more films should be made on the stories of these honest officers who dared to enter the lion’s den to thwart corruption under unfavourable circumstances of liaison between the rich, the police, judiciary and the politicians. However, it can be done with a seriousness it requires to get the message across, not resort to unwanted drama like the romance and presence of Dcruz in this film.

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#33

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mussouri is a 2017 film (Oscar nomination) as the title says is about a grieving mother’s public howler to her town’s police chief, Bill Willoughby & force.

Most of the rest of the film is a bunch of reactions to her this action. That said, this isn’t another crime thriller, or about a wailing mother who lost her daughter crying out for justice .. it is about this unrelenting gritty woman who has separated from her husband on reasons of abuse, wants the shake up the police force from their laid back routine. Three billboards puts this quiet town on prime time TV, and gets its people talking, enraged ..

Since the content is serious, there are times when as an audience we’d wonder, what is that that made us laugh about particular scenes. And we do laugh out loud often, continue to laugh at the verbal and situational humour during a dead serious conversation.

“Did she say begets ..?” is one such point, but it also encapsulates the theme of the film in one stroke!

A teenage girl is raped, burnt and murdered in this town. Her mother is irritated that the police force in spite of a diligent officer in charge hasn’t caught the culprits responsible for her daughter’s cruel fate since 9 months. She pays to paint her messages up on three billboards on a less frequently travelled road on an impulse, but that act makes her the target of the ire of the (almost) the whole town.. They, the priests to ex husband, do everything –go from giving her advice to hurling objects at her, her car, arresting her friend under false allegation, beating up the owner of the advertising co who leases the billboards, to setting them on fire– but she stays put, on the way she finds she has new friends and well wishers …

Nevertheless, the story doesn’t end here. Thats for you to find out when you watch it. I’m tempted to share about the god narrative tool but then if I do that I’d have to add spoiler alert to this post! 😀 (some other day, but that narrative tactic speaks out loud everything possible ending that could play in our minds about the direction of the film) 😉

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, especially after a dampening Black Panther. Saw those two, back to back one night, and went to sleep peacefully thereafter.

#TumhariSulu |Vidya Balan, Neha Dhupia

Tumhari Sulu is the new late night show on Radio Wow. I don’t remember the crucial twists in the film, so I don’t know what brought about the end! 😏 I felt it was a little too sudden, the transformation .. (spoiler alert, if you thought the film was an original)

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a one time watch since I watched it once 😉, I left the theatre and didn’t carry the film with me type of .. .

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Oh wait. I loved what she did with the matar (peas). Matar aloo ya matar paneer 😂😂. Certain anecdotes are just spot on beautiful, also the stereotyping. 

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The plot of this recent film still sits within patriarchal tones about the usual complications which arises when the homemaker bags a job, she is ‘encouraged’ at first, but is blamed later for all the train wreck that follows within the family.

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Something on the lines of #englishvinglish with #sridevi, #howoldareyou with #manjuwarrier

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My entertainment was the people next to me who had a sarcastic say for everything on screen 😂

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Filed in #filmtales #talkingfilms 

Tumhari Sulu is a 2017 Hindi film with Vidhya Balan in the lead, with Manaav Kaur & Neha Dhupia beautifully supporting her. The Hawa Hawaiii song.. it is there in the background. 

A slow paced #Villain, left me with a headache! 

Reviews have been calling this film an emotional tense thriller, a film re-defining the nature of a villain, a hero, and an anti hero. It does delve deep into the master killer’s life.. but there are 2-3 villains in this film, who can be but into boxes of good, not so good, monster, beast 

When Mathew Manjooran (Mohanlal) remarks, “there is a villain in every hero, and a hero in every villain” the water tight distinction between two known types in the popular imagination does not begin to blur, but it does lead to a momentary break from the usual black & white categories. 

The good villain is always the social empath who cringes at the sight of injustice. Too many of these incidents leass them to become thr villain – their rise is a tale of their consequences & motivations, the pinnacle of their (mob) justice, eventually ending in the rise of a new hero to erase older villains, gradually leading to their transformation into the newer villain/hero as the case may be. It seems to be a cycle in which anybody, a hero, can be struck down by an unexpected calamity …

… Manjooran is a borderline case, his wife and daughter were unexpectedly snatched away from his happy life …

 can turn into an antihero in due course of time. Does he or does he not (after Drishyam it is hard to speculate) don the role of a villain to avenge the death of his family to become their hero … is one part of the film.

The film begins on the day ADGP Mathew Manjooran (#mohanlal) decides to end his career in the police force voluntarily. He has opted for an early retirement 7 months after a brutal “road accident” killed his wife killed his wife (Manju Warrier) and teenage daughter. 

A melancholic Mohanlal in a salt and pepper bearded bespectacled gentleman in a trench coat look. We are sure to empathize with the restless demons he faces inside him, the craft of this actor. He is on a journey to a mysterious somewhere, away from his familiar people and places … who knows for what purpose … 

Meanwhile, a murder is planned and executed the previous night, discovered in the morning of his last day which stops him from starting on the that trip. The task force concludes that it is the beginning of a series of public grievence redressals. Somebody has turned vigillante to rid the society of its “criminals” who have escaped the law with their power and money. “If that is the intention, how many people will they kill,” asks the Commission to Manjooran. This is the second part of the story.

The third part of the story is when Manjooran and the vigillante come face to face in a dialogue to review the current plight of the system of justice. The Fourth part … is there a suspense in this story… 😎

Stylish, slick & technical in its packaging, the office of the task force looks very similar to the one in The Blacklist or Hollywood films of the genre. In spite of the excellent dialogue delivery of two very seasoned actors, Mohanlal & Siddique, with a supporting cast of  Ranji Pannicker, Chemban Jose & Rashi Khanna in uniform, the idealistic Samaritan intentions in Manju Warrier’s Dr. Neelima, Vishal and Hansika Motwani bringing in the rest of the cast, the satisfaction of public punishments played out in this police procedural was too slow paced and predictable for my taste, or that of an edge of the seat thriller genre from the Grandmaster team. 

Although categorised as a thriller, it seems to be more on the lines of B Unnikrishan’s take on the greyer shades of people psychology. The series of murders is the drama he pulls up to convey this. He uses Manjooran to filter down this to us.  The film like a murder as the top cop remarks a simple equation of who killed who. The rest of the theatrics are ways of camoflauging the details. 

if only the pace was a notch faster, the script, the actors and the style would have fallen right in place making it a crowd puller.

Reaction: I had to get out of the theatre to buy a cup of extra strong coffee as I was fighting hard not to sleep inside. (The speculations of the men sitting behind me about the film kept me awake 😉) 

Villain is a 2017 Malayalam film starring Mohanlal, Vishal, Siddique, Manju Warrier, Chemban Vinod Jose, Ranji Pannicker directed by B Unnikrishan. 

#Mondaymusings

Pingami (succesor) is a 1994 film in Malayalam with Mohanlal & Thilakan in lead roles. 

Unlike the usual everyday life* of a character whipped up by Sathyam Anthikad, this is a thriller. Therefore, when the film begins with a familiar scene of a friendly conversation at a bus stop, a captain returning home for his annual vacation, the audience will not suspect a hidden mystery.  

However, Captain Vijay Menon (Mohanlal) like his audience will soon find out that Kumarettan (Thilakan) whom he found severely beaten up, left to die, on the road has a key role in his life unknown to him until then. 

The plot begins to gain a certain momentum when on the next day, Kumarettan’s death is reported in the newspaper as a hit and run lorry accident. When an irritated Vijay confronts the duty doctor and the editor he finds their careless attitude towards the death of this man disturbing. On further enquiry with the locals, he finds out that the deceased was a journalist, known for his fearless exposes of corrupt politicians and businessman. The hit and run was a successful attempt to take his life. Vijay determined to get to the bottom of this murder, visits Kumarettan’s home to get access to his personal writings and space. 

The story that links the two men takes on a depth when Vijay reads a diary entry about a tragedy 18 years ago. Little did he know when he took this man to the hospital out of human concern, that he had been the sole witness to the brutal murder of his father considered until then to have committed suicide.

At the beginning of the film, Vijay finds a letter posted by Kumarettan protruding out of the post box. He tries to push it in, unable to do so, he takes it out, and makes sure it drops into the box safely this time. That letter becomes a key to solving the case. How he later links Kumarettan of the road accident as the sender of the letter, to finding out the secrets behind the death of his father, and missing mother and baby sister, is how the film ties the lives of the two men together in the plot. 

Kamaladalam* (1992)

Today, as I re-watched Kamaladalam, I wondered about the immense trust Sibi Malayil & Lohitadas, the makers of the film, had in Mohanlal* to play a classical dancer. Lal had proved to be an excellent dancer in his earlier films, however, in Kamaladalam his character demanded him to behave like an expert in Bharatanatyam with his actions and performance alike. Usually, in such a case, a trained dancer is brought in as cast, like Faasil did, to pair up with Shobana’s Nagavally* in Manichitratazhu*. 

Looking back, this was a gamble Malayil & Lohitadas took with Mohanlal. But Mohanlal has done really well. During the release of the film, there were rumours that Lal used a body double for his dance scenes, which is possiblity, but I’d like to believe it is Lal and Lal only. 

*Kamaladalam is a 1992 Malayalam film written by Lohitadas and directed by Sibi Malayil. This was released in the same year the female lead actor of the film Monisha died in a gruesome car accident. 

*Mohanlal is a well known actor & superstar of Malayalam Cinema. 

*Shobana bagged her first national award for actor in a leading female  role for Nagavally/Ganga in Faasil’s Manichitratazhu in 1992. 

*Manichitratazhu is one those cult films in Malayalam which has recently been remade in Tamil, Bengali and Hindi. 

#solo water, air, at interval …

“In future, don’t call me for a film with Dulquer in it,” said MJ. The last time she said this was when as a family we went to watch Kunjachacko Boban’s Chandamama

We had gone to watch CIA a month or so ago, I was bored by the interval, but she said, respect the makers until it ends… not that she liked the film either. We had chosen DQ over Tovino that day, but found out the nezt day itself that Godha was a much better film than a comrade going to America via Mexico …

Intermission over. 

In Solo, Thrilok is beautifully done. Shekar, needs a lot of patience., literally. 

Spiderman Homecoming (2017)

All the reviews say it is awesome, the best in spiderman movies so far, so on and so forth. But the second half was hopelessly long.. There were points were I sat there watching because I was a fan! Sometimes some things act as compulsions, one of moments….  The teenager, the classroom, the excitement of being part of saving the world team, tom Holland ….. spot on, but … there are many many many buts after they set all this up in the first half.. 

Would love to know what all of you made of it.. 

Naam Shabana & Baby

A group of us ( we are a let’s-go-watch-every-film-kind of people) went to watch Baby, on high recommendation from a common friend. After the initial 15-20 minutes, we saw that those recliner seats behind us were not occupied, so all of us trooped in to a seat each, put our legs up and slept off … I never knew until I watched Baby again for Rana this time that the girl from Pink, Taapsee Pannu and Rana were part of that film then. That was the interest level the film had for me or that I was too tired that the recliner lulled me into sleep. But, the fact is Baby put all of us to sleep during that show. The recommender also had a earful for guiding us to the theatre! 

I am a sucker for these thriller films, but Baby never worked for me. Neither did Naam Shabana. But I loved Special 26. And that’s the exact reason why I looked forward to, went and watched Rustom because after A Wednesday I’ve always looked forward to a Neeraj Pandey film. Rustom turned out to be melodramatic on screen and dramatic during the National Awards! Anyways! 

Musafir … (Tiger)

Musafir is a key villain in a Malayalam film titled Tiger. A police procedural with Suresh Gopi in the lead investigating a murder of a top official,  a notorious NRI influential main villain who has bought many police officers and govt officials….. It is a regular Suresh Gopi, macho, dialogue heavy, dishoom dishoom film. But this is one film I go back to every once in a while. It is freely available on youtube for one, that could be a reason. But I go back to see how this villain named Musafir is revealed, and his cover is blown!