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. 

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The Universe Conspires…

Many of us have quoted “when you want something ….” in places known and unknown to make points, further arguments, to silence another discussant, to inspire a friend in a dire situation, for self motivation… I’m also guilty of having used it many times, what is there, it is very inspiring quote, it only helps. Kochavva also found Paulo Coelho interesting for some reason, and quoted his “the universe conspires …” theory to everyone and everywhere he went in the remotest parts of his village. But Appu took it to heart. He began to believe that the entire universe would conspire to make his dream of boarding a flight come true. Appu is boy of 8 years old who always wanted to take a flight to somewhere. Kochavva and Appu are characters in Kochavva Palo Ayyappa Coelho a Malayalam film released last year. But that brings me to this.. C9Wh4CMV0AE7K8y.jpg

That said, have you had any intense deep seated desires like this little boy Appu?

I started to write this post while the film was being telecast on tv this morning an hour ago, was waylaid elsewhere and then I found this picture quote that coincided with what I was writing. It said what I said in the exact way I wanted it to be. Is this the universe conspiring?

Cheers…

Vettah (2016) – Rajesh Pillai’s Swan Song

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At the crux of it, Vettah is about an inhuman crime, the seeds of which begin a story of a vengeance.. a vengeance like that which washed over the Count of Monte Cristo.. With such an intense sense of retribution, the crime is also near perfect. Two police officers .. and a murder suspect .. take us through the plot of a kidnapping and murder and a conspiracy!

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Manju Warrier has finally risen above her personal life, her bygone fame and comeback to play the part of a police officer

She plays the role of Sreebala IPS, and full marks to her gait when she is in uniform.

2. Two back to back police stories at the box office… This one however falls in line with the older genre of a police officer and her team who set out to investigate a kidnapping and a possible murder..the difference is that the team is led by a female officer. After Vani Vishwanath there has been no female police officers so far until Asha Sharath in Drishyam. I would say Sharath had a meatier role at par with that of Mohanlal in the film. With Vettah, it is more subtle. The personal life of a police officer is intertwined in a vicariousness as the plot is a built up as a mind game!

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3. Our once upon a time chocolate boy hero Kunchacko Boban has come this far when his smirk hides the answers to all questions of the police. Rajesh Pillai is one among the many directors who has offered him roles to step out of his boyish romantic charm to portray more nuanced human emotions… He plays the pivotal Melvin Philip who moves the plot forward, one of his best so far in his comeback..

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4. Indrajith Sukumaran is turning into the likes of actors such as Siddique and Sai Kumar an actor who takes up any role so much so that the audience is kept guessing as to whether he plays the good cop or the bad, or a mixed shade.. He plays Xylax Abraham.. The name stands out and has a sharpness to it that rings the name villain out loud 😀

I wouldn’t say Vettah is an edge of the seat thriller but it captures our interest to know how deep the still waters run.

If I say anything more, I may have to say spoiler alert 🙂 let me just say this, it begins just like A Wednesday ..

A police officer shares a case file with us, her most challenging case to date.

Though the film begins with a spotlight on Manju Warrier, the film is shouldered equally by Kunchacko Boban and Indrajit Sukumaran.

And with Vettah, a day after its release Rajesh Pillai leaves us to make films elsewhere

©pins n ashes 2016

Manju Warrier’s How Old Are You? (2014) | Rosshan Andrrews| Kunchachko Boban

I went to watch the film on a Monday evening. The Malayalee audience of this city for the show  came in early, waited patiently in the lobby munching on their first batch of popcorns and drinking their cups of coffee until the cleaning of the screen was over.. to walk in, take their seats, settle down to watch Manju Warrier….it has been a Malayalee dream to see her back on screen.. an actor’s dream to act with her.. may be a director’s dream to direct her and .. so on and so forth.. This  film will  run to house full theatres because we have been waiting for this film for the last 14 years…

…think it was the first shot after the credits…she appeared.. in an ash/grey and green bordered sari…..the audience clapped!

She is back.. and I wish her all wishes to have a successful rerun…

This film is one about Manju Warrier, her comeback.. and two about the transformation of the character, Nirupama Rajeev/Krishnan she plays..  a script that can be talked about as fictitious however, one that resembles Manju Warrier’s own circumstances and absence from the industry for 14 years. The comparison is inevitable.

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The crux of the film is the conflict in interest when a working mother/wife Nirupama decides to make a mark, wants to follow her dreams she has been ignoring for the sake of her husband and daughter …she ignored them to a point where she feels she is a different person now. The choices and chances that come by are serendipitous. She decides to take the train and in her journey,  she has a college friend in Susan (Kaniha) who motivates and believes in her abilities, a set of in-laws (Kunjan & KalaRanjini) who are very supportive, a mother (Vanitha Krishnachandran) who is a pillar of strength, and an office colleague who is a partner in her every crime and another well wisher in Vinay Fort as a new recruit in the office ..

What the film does is present to us through the character of Nirupama about a woman’s life as a wife and a mother and how it is shoved under the carpet in spite of all the sacrifices she makes for the family.  Or as the film itself asks… who decides the expiry date of a woman’s dreams? Nirupama becomes the butt of jokes, the most misinterpreted and misunderstood, and unwanted person in spite of her dedication to her loved ones. The villain of the story is the patriarch himself – her husband Rajeev, a struggling professional who thinks of making it big in another country! He is the demotivator, the emotional blackmailer, the perpetually unsatisfied husband/spouse type who guilt trips his wife and makes her feel inadequate! His fickle mindedness will tickle anybody, any woman in fact, with a sense of a self.

Nevertheless, the film did not work for me.. the character did not work neither did the story..the freshness of the opening credits faded out in the first half itself… it reminded me of English Vinglish at each step, to the point where I thought what would the makers done if there was no precedence in a Sridevi and Gauri Shinde English Vinglish! It is a cause of concern, this comparison.. because the Sridevi film had a beautiful build up..the script flowed, there were other characters, there were twists… this one does not…. and that was the flaw if it can be called one… if nothing else, this was another version of the other recent Malayalam films, Bharaya Athra Pora and Varuthe Oru Bharya.. 

But that apart, she is a good actor and has carried her role very well… It is truly her comeback film, And every character and every scene is directed towards her reaching the goal.

For instance, one way the audience is made to love the character she plays more is by creating this counter character of the chauvinistic husband played by Kunchacko Boban. We would hate Rajeev.. for Chackochan has given a brilliant performance … and if not for that powerful hate towards his character, a similar irritation we felt towards the character of the fiance played by Rajkumar Rao in Queen (2014) we wouldn’t have felt that bad for Nirupama. In addition to this, the persona of Nirupama is made interesting because unlike the usual protagonists she has an equal share of flaws as well, bragging for instance is one…. Some of the humour in the film comes from these flaws.

In the midst of all the /[H]onorable/ and /Jokes/ in a typical Malayalam phonetic flow.. the satire on the serial audience of Malayalam Television, the backbites and the stereotyping of the so called intellectual reading habits, recreation of men, one take away is wash your hands and your vegetables and fruits because “they contain a cocktail of pesticides…” grow your own vegetables, build houses with a space for a little garden of your own..

One disconnect however is that Manju Warrier, the marathon runner is very different from Nirupama Rajeev/Krishnan of the film.. The marathon run seems almost like a dream sequence just like the second half of the film is a page from a modern fairy tale…

In terms of the locations  of  the film, anybody who has been to Jaipur would LOL at a particular scene or react with a sense of a recognition towards it  🙂 As for any Cochinite, like me…the film is a short quick trip to my city.. I went home and returned in a span of 2 hours or so.. 🙂

On another note, I really hope against hope the common Malalayalee will take the essence of the film seriously.. and hereafter stop looking at people, Malayalees and others, in terms of just age. Ageism is one rampant disorder among Mals in particular.. in myriad ways, the younger generation in particular has ways of looking at the older ones.. passing comments such as they are old therefore they have nothing else to do therefore become religious or some such thing! or see serials or buy clothes for them in pastel shades instead of their favourite reds and greens…

The film says out loud and clear that age really does not matter, what matters is  always the will.. the will to take up, the will to work, .. who are we to typecast the older generation or anybody older to us as ineffective, spiritual or useless because they have gone past a certain age! Let’s be as careful and sensitive to age as we are towards say women empowerment!

PS: I can’t really figure what is so intellectually different about watching episodes of Friends, Sherlock and Hannibal and soap operas in regional languages. A form of entertainment people get addicted to, seek pleasure in and find a routine time pass!

 

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 😉

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 😉

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