The story of the Malayalam film, August Club (2013)| KB Venu

Saw a film, August Club, Malayalam, where a ripple of an extra marital affair crosses into the 8 years of marriage of a couple, disturbs the wife for a while and goes away making her feeling guilty of the very thought of it. Sounds familiar, we have encountered a similar guilt in the character of Shilpa Shetty in the Hindi film, A life in a Metro..  For once I thought the character played by Rima Kalingal, Savitri..should have gone ahead but not with that character she was attracted to. He was too much of  balloon largely filled with air, although a master at chess.

Life in the film revolves around a couple with two kids and the August Club. Savitri the protagonist is the reigning chess champion of the club, she has so far defeated every man who knows to play game, men because no women in the vicinity play chess. The other woman in the story in a grass widow who talks about attracting men to her, or exotic and fancy ideas of intercourse.

So, Savitri is portrayed as this typical faithful wife and mother to her two kids, with a more than ordinary knack for the game of chess and writing poems in English. She has graduated in English and is portrayed as this character with great potential if she had not opted as a SAHM. She is this eternal romantic, in love with her books, with nature, who constantly slips into book and literature lands, and pens poetry. Her husband, played by Murali Gopi is a successful IT professional who seems dismissive of the game of chess, the English language and its literature and Savitri’s habits of versification.

This is the premise of the film where Savitri faces on the one hand an intellectual isolation at home and on the other, her passions are regarded as worthless by the husband. Within her she tries to make peace, if not her life is very happy and peaceful. That’s when our hero arrives who for the first time defeats her in the game of chess in the history of the August Club. There starts, a relationship of chess, literature and personal poetry between Shishir and Savitra tipping towards a romance; where Shishir is obviously trying to woo her, and Savitra is falling for his moves under the circumstances and the lack of attention. Until, a moment in her life, when she opens her husband’s laptop to recognize his care, concern and love for his wife and children in spite of the lack of time, his busy schedules, his taunts, and his lack of appreciation.

My quarrel with the film is in the way it falls into the loop of the ideal or the good wife. She realizes and she does a touch base with her circumstances and reality however, her life continues with this man who is faithful caring husband nevertheless at some level has trouble accepting her talents. There is no visible change in her situation or her dissatisfaction.

Rima Kalingal looks lovely in the film, her gait, her sense of dressing, her choice of attire.. Murali Gopi, I am a fan of his acting, but he cannot to save his life cuddle or kiss or make love in this film! There is that awkwardness. The location of their home at the beachfront is serene. There are l’l practical lessons the characters teach you in letting go of your ego, and stubbornness.

The highlight of the film was watching Thilakan and Sukumari. I guess it is the same feeling about not able to see them again on screen just like many of us mourn about Sachin at the 22 yard crease padded, ready with his willow, to face the ball again with an Indian cap…

Rima Kallingal steals the show.. Zak’s Pregnant Women

I’ve been wanting to see this film for a long time, just like I wanted to watch Memories¬†(2013). Now, after listening to conflicting reviews and the resonating songs, finally when I get to watch it, I’ve no words in any coherent way to explain my reaction to it in a word that is, whether it is a like or a dislike. (etd: looking at the length of the post, well I do have a lot to say after all ūüėõ :P)

Odd!! That is..

I can say, I love the songs… all three of them, although I thought there were only two initially before watching the film.. ¬†and those two have been playing non stop from my system for days at a stretch…. after long hours of “Badtameez Dil,” “Oh ho Penee” is in a loop.. there is something about the guitar in the introduction, the playback voices…. there is something that is very sweet about this song.. sweetness in the way it is sung, when it hits the ear, and the body automatically moves to the rhythm…….soothing I would say… I fell in love with it.. ¬†which makes me listen to it again and again, and most importantly, work happens with it in the background ūüėČ Now that’s priority.

Getting back to the core of the film, there is no one answer to whether I liked the film or not..I don’t think a one word review or a point system is relevant in this case, because there can’t be one answer to it. It opens up not a can of worms or a pandora’s box of troubles, but it does open ¬†5 cases of women who are attached to a hospital and a gyno, as patients, or an employee or as a daughter like figure…

There are certain intuitions that plays in a viewer’s head while watching films like these, or it could be the experience of watching and reading similar stories, or encountering the reactions to them on a routine basis. Just like Tara’s and Sid’s part of the story in Farhan Aktar’s Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Sr. Jasmine Jeniffer’s pregnancy story had an obvious trajectory. If it was otherwise, then it would have been a turning point. Film makers on their part try to portray the so called ‘revolutionary’ bits in their works, however, once the part of the revolution is over, they are in fix as to how to go forward with the revolutionary idea they created. Because at some point, the revolution, which is obviously against the societal ways of thinking and practice, has to merge and live with what they are revolting against. And most often than not, the revolution dies away with the character’s death.

Now in the case of Saira, the teenage pregnancy…. it was obvious again who fathered the kid. I guess the film on its part failed to bring about and create and sustain a suspense.

It somehow seemed that it was a¬†Rima KallingalAju Varghese¬†film. Because both of them seemed to occupy maximum screen space and time… may be that is what it is, although there are 5 women and 5 stories, all of them are not given equal treatment in terms of space, so as a viewer I get a feel of a couple of stars as opposed to a multi starrer or a multi story….and it is seen in the two songs as well.. One song is for the romance between Rima and Aju, the other one is mostly focused on Sanusha‘s pregnancy although¬†there is a third song, a lullaby sung by K. S. Chitra (I think) which features Geeta and her baby Samuel…..but even then each story has a climax and a resolution in their given spaces but there was definitely a priority it seems. The romance between Rima and Aju is the highlight and is very cutely portrayed.. she steals the show, Rima with her Kasargod dialect.. ¬†ūüôā and her facial expressions ūüėČ

I’d say watch it. It is worth the one time. ¬†I watched it till the very end without feeling bored. Did I enjoy the film? Well, I enjoyed the songs, I waited for them, actually. I enjoyed actor¬†Indrajit¬†Sukumaran’s voice over… would love to hear more of it in many films. ¬†With respect to the characters, pregnancy is a phase in their life, a phase of 8-9 months, director Aneesh Anwar gives his audience a glimpse of these 5 characters, they have the potential to be full fledged stories as short films, however, if you ask me whether I want to see them as 2 hours films, .. may be… may be not.. ¬†In the film, in the treatment of the characters ¬†and the story is interesting. I thought the hospital management and people around in general were quite liberal and forgiving. As in this is one film where there is no obvious villain character, although there is an intolerant brother, an impatient father, a silent mother, a gossiper of a nurse, a stringent landlord.. On the whole, it is a positive film.. and peaceful ..

Like the trend these days .. another film in the line of a compilation of stories of different characters tied together by a main plot and a set of characters. Here the main character as the title conveys is Dr. Zacharia, a medical doctor, a renowned gynecologist by specilisation, efficient in his art, ethical in his principles, ready to help his pregnant patients at any hour when in need. His wife, Susan, plays the role of a supportive and loving partner.

Trivia: The name of the production house, Friday Cinema House ūüôā again an apt name for a box office, friday openings.. resonates a film tradition in the name itself, secondly, acclaimed director Padmarajan is brought back to public memory with the mention of his name and his short story collection towards the end of the film, works as a tribute ūüôā

 

Kathaveedu (2013) Sohanlal | Malayalam

We have watched a couple of films in this genre already in Hindi and Malayalam this year, either a collection of stories by different writers, or directors or a portmanteau effect, here, it is the latter…

the main storyline of Raj Karthi, a debutant film director, is ¬†linked to the 3 other stories written by eminent writers in Malayalam namely,¬†Basheer,¬†MT¬†and¬†Madhavikutty; each of them on the wall in a frame becomes a character and a part of nostalgia for their reading public.¬†Karthi, here is in search of answers about love and marriage as¬†part of his maiden film project as well as in his life. His inability to take a decision on his wedding with his live-in girl friend Jina, played by Bhamma….Each story has a married couple, sometimes moments in their lives, sometimes a whole life shown at a glimpse with a photograph or a character sketch.

The first story is dicey, the second is¬†predictable, the third one touches some corners of the heart…¬†Biju Menon¬†again comes out as a gem. Rituparna Sengupta makes her debut in Malayalam films. The other actors are Manoj K Jayan, Lal, ¬†Swapna Menon and Malika.

First Impressions: Not a so called “time pass film”.. it has a serious tone to it and the viewer needs patience, the subject is everyday..¬†worthwhile, especially the second half…. it is that effect of watching a film in a film in a film, ¬†as explicitly stated at the beginning, it is a tribute to 100 years of Indian Cinema

There are times from the second story on where we as audience wonder what is being filmed and what is reality in the film Kathaveedu. Alongside it reminds one of Brecht, and his alienation effect. As audience we are constantly reminded of the fact that we are watching a film, within a film and the writers of the stories, the only person absent I would say is the director, Sohanlal in person ūüėČ

Newer ways of story telling …the framed photographs of the three writers on Raj Karthi’s wall next to his writing desk and its use to introduce, to call interval and end the story…

Water is used brilliantly in all its forms, the river, the beach, the waves, the turbulent river, especially rain, rain plays a role in every story, even the main storyline… it could be that rain reveals inner character of the characters..

The introduction sequence of each character at the beginning with the title is noteworthy. Another brilliant introduction piece was that was the film, Karthik Calling Karthik. Kathaveedu if you have noticed the title has a set of coloured squares as its backdrop, and each square, opens to reveal a character, with the name of the character and the actor, attention to detail and giving important so that the viewers know who is who, even the ones doing the minor roles, rather than a list of faceless names that go up in the last credits…

Overall.. it would be boring to somebody expecting a noisy explosive dhamaka with the usual songs and dances | it is subtle, slow,¬†¬†has its breaks, pauses, meanderings and meditative ponderings … I enjoyed.. so did my partner ūüėČ

The recent emerging genre:That brings me to does an adequte mix of an aesthetic interior deco for the homes shot + a balcony view of the entire city and the roads below + some collectibles like painted vases of different shapes, some silver or red coloured ferns, some scented candles + frames, framed photographs, a photograph wall + a live-in relationship + a deep lip lock + music with the bands on the scene, add to a film or a newer or older film of any generation.. As a viewer, I enjoy and look forward to see the vases, and the ferns, it was interesting in the first couple of films that was released, then as it continued film after film, the repetition took away its awe factor!

Behind the scenes :)¬†It was an impromptu decision to watch the film, no reviews read, no knowledge about the script, or the actors except for¬†Kunchacko Boban¬†and¬†Bhama. I’ve been a big fan of this actor since¬†Aniyathipravu, to the extent that I had forced my folks to watch that stupid film¬†Chandama¬†in a theatre..These days watching a film has turned out to be a research…

Long time ago, as I was browsing through some of the channels one afternoon I came across one of those programmes with cinema updates on television which had a news item on Boban and Bhama in a bike sequence (the one on your left :)) The image stuck, and led to us watching Kathaveedu when it  showed up in a film poster

Film Review: Mumbai Police (2013) | Malayalam | Rosshan Andrrews | Prithviraj, Rahman, Jayasurya

And I loved Prithviraj all over again, better than Celluloid (2013), just a notch more than Ayallum Njannum Thammil (2012)… Actually, the three of them in lead, ACP Antony Moses¬†(Prithviraj),¬†Farhan Aman, Commissioner of Police (Rahman)¬†and ACP Aaryan John Jacob¬†(Jayasurya) are impressive. ¬†In one word, impressive, good suspense, and most of all, have to say it… Malayalam cinema seems to have evolved to¬†accommodate¬†newer themes… if I say anything more, it would be a spoiler.. Go watch. Recommended

I need to confess, my heart skipped a beat when I saw Roshan Andrrews’s name as the director. I went for the film Mumbai Police which had a cast of three actors out of which, a love for Rahman goes a long way back… Heard excellent reviews from dependable sources not read (mind you) and we were off to catch the movie, in the process, I haven’t read a review nor did I know the details of the rest of the cast or the film crew.

Just like last year’s film Diamond Necklace starring Fahad Fazil¬†and three women in the lead that released in May/June 2012, this film’s crew has given importance to its interiors… exquisite interiors, beautiful colour combinations, hand picked pieces of furniture and show pieces, its different living spaces are done well… even the clothes, although I did eeeeeeeeks out when I saw Prithviraj in a checkered pyjamas.

Highlights:

  • There is a shot inside Prithviraj’s home when the three friends meet for drinks.. there is a shot of a shadow of a crystal lamp shade/candlestick.. beautiful ūüôā
  • The looks of the actors are so right…
  • One of the first scenes when Annie calls, … and Farhan speaks to her … their relationship is subtly revealed. And Prithviraj’s smile at acknowledging it…
  • Sharpness of images and scenes.. I jumped when I heard the voice when he opened the door of the refrigerator for water
  • I don’t remember there were any songs in the films…
  • The characters are well etched, although I felt touches of cliche… the more I say, I will need to write spoiler alert… refraining therefore…
  • But if you do not read any reviews and go for the film, well you are in a for a surprise..
  • And there is loads to laugh, when I say laugh it is not slapstick comedy or comedy as such… situational.. and we do smile and guffaw many times…

Lows:

  • Found the action initially lacking spontaneity, just the beginning
  • Oh yes! some of the cast.. especially a junior police officer and the like… are bad in acting, they could have picked actors well…
  • Other than the three the rest of the cast has nothing much to do… although there are gestures of all of them having a role to play..
  • I had a couple more listed in my head but can’t recollect now… will add as and when it comes back…

Last Word

Mumbai Police means Friendship that’s the tag line of the film… I would add the makers of Mumbai Police are bold enough to sketch a rarely visited but common theme in the society today… hidden under the wraps of so many masks…. used it to its purposes of suspense and cause of the climax and resolution in the film.

Recommended Definitely .. I reiterate..¬†Malayalam Film is back on track or so it seems with its new generation band wagon in actors and directors …

And I cannot believe that Prithviraj has a place in my mind as a actor … like Mohanlal, not like Mohanlal of course…but his image of Teja Bhai and Simhasanam has definitely been pushed out to be replaced by his last three-4 films…… Ahaa.. the man has done a good job.. OMG seriously, am I even saying this…

Film Review: Annayum Rasoolum (2013)| Malayalam | Rajiv Ravi | Fahad Fazil, Andrea Jeremiah, Sunny Wayne

I loved the film.¬†Rajeev Ravi¬†Thank you ūüôā

The initial review said that some more editing and the film would have been perfect. What I feel, well that editing was not required at all. The pace is slow because the film requires that pace to narrate the kind of story it narrates. And such an innocent love story intertwined with religious, minority, religious minority, language and locality politics. Beautifully narrated. As a viewer we travel along with the character and many times feel we inhabit them and their space, a feeling more than empathy.

It is an innocent love story between a muslim man and a christian woman, both of the working class striving to make a living in the big city of¬†Cochin. The girl is a sales girl at a city’s saree boutique while the boy drives a cab and does odd jobs. They are in their own worlds, the worlds of their¬†colleagues¬†and this becomes an escape from their own personal worlds they enter when they reach their home. Two lives in the rut of time, one can say… the commonest of the common.

It is as if Rajeev Ravi, the director was stationed at this invisible unseen apex observing the people on the road below. He could be sitting on the terrace of Hotel SeaLord, or in one of the apartments in the Mather Flats, two locations where the film is shot. He watched many people on the road and the bridge, met them daily because their routes were the same and finally zeroed in on two people, daily commuters going about their lives. Added a little excitement called love to their mundane lives the rest is the film as it unfolds for us to watch.

As every love story begins, the boy catches a glimpse of the girl, again on the road and her glimpse sticks to his heart forever. Then he meets her again elsewhere and again and finally finds himself in a house next door to hers. Coincidences play a big role when it comes to falling in love! Or lovers take them as a sign ūüėõ He follows her everyday, takes the boat she takes to her work place, hangs around near the roads she passes, runs along the footpaths of her bus route to catch of glimpse of her and be with her through her day journey from the time she starts from home for work to the time she returns home tired to rest.

It is natural that when a man is following you everyday you notice, so she does, and so do her friends. And then a friend of his intervenes and they are set. Their love is pure and innocent. I repeat innocent because that’s the feeling that comes through out the film. Natural and innocent when two people fall deeply in love with each other with the conviction that they are meant to be.

The rest of the story is complicated because of the religious, minority and local politics, but go through it to see how Rajiv Ravi has brought about the climax and the resolution.

Fahad Fazil¬†evolves as an actor with every film, from Chappa Kurishu to Annayum Rasoolum and now his latest venture Amen. It was just in the middle of last year that we labelled him a metrosexual stereotype with the kind of repeated roles he was taking up in 22FK and Diamond Necklace.¬†Annayum Rasoolum¬†brings in a variety, brings in a rustic out of him like Friday did to him in his short space of the auto richshaw driver and the verdict is he has done well ūüôā Obviously, the bias towards an actor is present, but impartially as well, director Fazil’s son has grown up so that the Malayalee audience will stand up and ask now, was it really him in that in that 2002 film Kaiyethum Doorathu. As for Andrea Jeremiah, with minimal makeup, she seizes to be the character, Ashmita, she played in ¬†Kamal Hassan‘s¬†Vishwaroopam/Vishwaroop¬†(2013). I guess the audience got to see her almost at the same time doing two varient roles. To add to her acting, she has lent her voice to the song Kandu Kandu in this film.
Among other highlights, two popular directors of Malayalam films have played two characters in this film – Ashiq Abu¬†(as Rasool’s brother)¬†and Renjth¬†(as Rasool’s father), and yes played their parts to the T.
All in all, it is a¬†silent film, it can be interpreted as a race – because of the metaphor of the running of the main character, it could be interpreted as a maze because of the metaphor of the inner roads that lead to the houses, it could be interpreted as travel because of the different modes of transport presented here, it could be interpreted as flow, because the metaphor of the water is very prominent.It can be about the home coming because of the marine sailor’s trip home after years, it is about friendship and¬†camaraderie¬†among boys, it is about¬†unrequited¬†love, it can be about finding your peace. The last scene brings back the picture of our dear Hrithik Roshan scuba diving in the Zoya Akhtar’s 2011 film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

The marine sailor character played by Sunny Wayne – who is also the narrator, loved his voice.

Rajeev Ravi has shot Cochin from its borders, its harbours, its jetties and its backwaters. The main Cochin city ¬† shots of¬†Panampilly Nagar¬†and the Menaka/Marine Drive area are limited to a couple of shots. There is an everyday-ness to the film we recognize and want to be part of… that seeps through to us beyond the screen … so the different feel.

Annayum Rasoolum, do watch it, highly recommended. Not when you are in a hurry, when you have some leisure time…

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Film Review: Immanuel (2013) | Malayalam | Lal Jose| Mammooty, Fahad Fazil

In a sentence, you will not feel guilty if you haven’t caught it yet!

The best line from the film:¬†Fahad Fazil to Mammooty: “You are my Hero ūüôā Mammooty replies with a smile and pat on Fahad’s cheeks. This could be the real entering the film. A real life admiration for his hero, Fahad Fazil would have uttered the truth. On the other hand, ¬†Mammooty’s gesture was one of those natural moments, a moment of ¬†paternal affection towards a director’s son, somebody he would have seen in his nappies, running around the sets and now a grown up, brilliant actor.

The film, well it seemed as if the director Lal Jose had a series of shots in mind which were brilliant and artistic in themselves but unconnected in many ways. However when they were set in motion to make the picture they remained the shots and never matured to gel together and run as a whole with the added disadvantage of being soooper slow. It was so slow that I asked my friend, let’s go but that’s when some action popped up on screen promising some refreshed view. But nothing refreshing occurred, and the loose ends in the first half were big clues to how the resolution in the film would come about.

One thing I need to say here is the film shows you how handsome the actor, Mammooty is, even to this day. His character has a makeover in the film from a bearded errand boy/man to a sales executive in an insurance company, and man,the change over after he shaves off his beard and wears new clothes is worth a watch. In addition all the animations on his face when he meets kids in the film are cute. Even the choreographed photo shoot kind of song in all white, pearls falling is a treat to watch.

Otherwise, the film tells you the story of a middle class family headed by Immanuel, who loses his job in a publishing company as it closed down. He then joins an a leading insurance company as a sales executive. The character of the manager is played by Fahad Fazil, a shrewd man who runs the show with an iron fist and demands above average productivity from his team. The corruption and the competition of the corporate world symbolised as new generation and the older variety portrayed by characters like Mammooty who has some human compassion left. Oh yes, Mamootty’s son in the film is cute, but I found his talking too much for his age, that can be left out as exaggeration for the role. The film also stars Nedumuddi Venu (seeing him after a long time in character), Devi Ajit (the woman has slimmed down after Trivandrum Lodge), Ramesh Pisharody and Salim Kumar

Verdict: Watchable! If you don’t want to watch that’s fine as well.

But I watched it again when it came on television andnit did not seem all that bad then. Maybe it is one of hose films that grows in you with repeated watch. (Edited to add)

Observation: There was no need for an actor such as Mammooty to do this role. Also, in most of the films released with super stars these days there is a lot of eulogisation and flattery for the stars themselves in the film. It was there in Run Baby Run for Mohanlal, where I remember a couple of us started counting the number of times Reuters’s Venu was quoted. Same here, with Immanuel.