Star Trek Beyond - Review

Star Trek Beyond is a worthy sequel and is an overwhelming experience by any means. The sci-fi film is action packed with lots of fun with good feel on the visual side as well. Having seen and closely followed the television series when it was aired on our National Channel years back, Star Trek is one name which is very close to me. So didn't had any second thoughts for watching this part which is the third installment of the reboot series.

The USS Enterprise is forced to crash-land on an unfamiliar territory after a deadly attack happen in the outer space by Krall and his beastly team who are on the lookout for a valuable artifact which is somewhere hidden in the spaceship. Now it is upto Captain Kirk, Spock and rest of the crew to fight against these aliens to save themselves and save their race. Star Trek Beyond shows how Captain Kirk and his team execute their plans to defeat the deadly Krall and his army of creatures.

Doing total justice to the previous two versions of the reboot series and at the same time retaining the essence and feel of all the series, Star Trek Beyond is heavily loaded with action and violence. There is also considerable amount of fun the film has on offer making it really enjoyable.

While it was J.J. Abrams who directed the first two parts titled Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, it is Justin Lin who is more famous for making the Fast & Furious series getting the opportunity to hold the megaphone in the third installment. Believe me, Lin has done total justice to the franchise in making a visually good sci-fi film which the fans of this series can accept without any inhibition.

The length at two hours is a little more but that doesn't play a part in making the film looks dull nor does it cast a bad shadow on the overall proceedings. There is good movement in the plot and at no time does the film become boring. Screenplay takes care of that part giving lot of life and energy aided by plenty of action keeping the momentum on the up always.

Excellent CGI complimented by good background score, spectacular visuals of the space, taut screenplay and neat direction and of course plenty of action and that too some of them running to more time than we expect are some of the major highlights of this reboot.

On the acting side, Chris Pine, Zackary Quinto, Karl Urban playing Captain Kirk, Spock and Dr.Bones lit up the screen with their totally convincing acts. Rest of the actors supported them with humourous as well as serious acts that helped the film in its cause in a positive way.

One area of disappointment for me was seeing Idris Elba in a prosthetic makeover for almost ninety five percent of the film which I have to accept on the fact that it is as per the demands of the character. I would have loved to see him in his original looks but for Krall to be effective, that prosthetic appearance was a necessity. Still his voice was able to make a good impression inspite of his face being covered up.

Providing lot of scope for ample enjoyment as a Sci-fi film, Star Trek Beyond is something that you should not miss if you are one who is closely following the series. Even if not, you would find it a thrilling film with uninterrupted action, firework and pace. I go with three and a half out of five for this reboot series and expecting more films with some exciting stories from the franchise.

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Lights Out - Review

"FROM PRODUCER JAMES WAN DIRECTOR OF THE CONJURING". This was projected on the posters of Lights Out, the horror film directed by David.F.Sandberg. James Wan's name was the sole factor pushing me to theatre for watching Lights Out even though he was involved only on the production side and not the man wielding the megaphone. Anyway, the experience turned out to be highly rewarding and satisfying. 

Lights Out is a spine chilling movie that hits bulls eye as far as its objective is concerned. It makes you really scared and unsettled once the evil element gets its presence in the film.

Its too difficult to scare you these days as majority of films belonging to the horror genre in its desperate attempt to make a fearful impact on the audience mind fails miserably by following the age old clichéd methods. A notable exception on this front are directors like James Wann who somehow find some means to create fear in the minds of people watching it.

The story basically has three principal characters namely Sophie, her daughter Rebecca and young son Martin. Rebecca's boy friend Bret too joins the party at a later stage. There is a chance of revealing some critical elements on the spoiler side and hence putting a full stop to the plot by saying that the movie focus on some psychological as well as external fears created by a frightening entity on this family.

The basic thread and concept of Lights Out is taken from a 2013 short film with the same name directed by David.F.Sandberg. The attempt to make it a full length feature film borrowing that little thread from that short film is really commendable and hats off to the man behind the screenplay Eric Heisserer.

They have presented the film making sure that a terrifying feel is maintained right throughout. The pace is slow but that doesn't stop in offering some spine chilling and horrifying experience to the audience. Sound does play a vital part in creating the mood of this genre and hence the advice is to watch it on the big screen itself to get a complete feel of it.

Performances also played a pivotal role here. Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello and Alexander DiPersia played the characters of Rebecca, Martin, Sophie and Bret with lot of vigour putting in sincere acting efforts supporting the screenplay. The lady who acted in the short film (not sure of her name) also makes an appearance in a cameo role.

Lights Out is a must watch film if you love this genre. I can assure you that the presentation is quite different and there is darkness combined with thrills and fear to make the film an effective one. I am giving three and a half out of five for Lights Out. Go for it is the final word.

Rating - 3.5 / 5

White Malayalam Movie Review

After all the postponements and wait, White finally manages to see the day light. But the wait turns out to be a disappointing one. The film tries desperately to blend style and substance but in the end the style factor outweigh the substance factor leaving the film on a sore note. 

Prakash Roy and Roshni Menon are the two central characters in the film. Prakash is a middle-aged man while Roshni is much younger to him. The story portray the relationship that blossom between these two which happens in London.

Director Uday Ananthan's film is a lifeless film that is a good patience tester. A lacklustre screenplay of which Uday himself is part of along with couple of other writers fails to inspire at anytime. Moreover there is an element of confusion as to what the intentions and purpose of this story is.

Partially there are some answers to the long and neverending romance but in the end, the movie is shredded with mystery and doubt as to what was intended to convey. In my opinion, the film has failed to convey what it wanted. A slow paced film that has boredom right from the start till the very end, I am pretty much disappointed with the film.

The only saving grace was the efforts behind the camera. Visual beauty of London has blended well giving the frames a rich and vibrant tone to it. Next positive factor is the cool and stylish looks of the megastar. Other than these, I didn't find anything to take home after watching White.

Mammootty has nothing much to do on the acting side. He just had to maintain his stylish and cool looks and has come out successful in that attempt. Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi plays a character matching her looks and she looked dazzling as Roshni Menon though in the close up shots her lip movement was not syncing with the dubbing. Shankar Ramakrishnan and Sidhique plays supporting roles that have not much importance in the totality of the story.

As I said, on the technical front, camera work was a major highlight. Editing was okay but this slow romantic drama badly needed some trimming. At two and a half hours running time, the film was way too lengthy for a weak story. Rahul Raj has done the music who tried mixing some cool background score and tunes matching the backdrop and it was not bad.

With a lacklustre story, weak screenplay and pointless direction, White is one film you can forget. Now all the postponements seems to have some valid reasons behind it. I will not recommended the film to anyone not even to hardcore Mammootty fans. If you want to see the style this man has in him, there are other good movies for that. The rating is a below par one and a half out of five.

Rating - 1.5 / 5

Allu Arjun talks about Dulquer, Prithvi, Nivin and Big Ms

This is a portion of an interview in MM where Allu Arjun talked about Kerala and Malayalam film industry. From this interview we can understand that Allu Arjun is a keen Malayalam movie watcher and is a fan of every Malayalam movie actors. The interviewer is Adil Ibrahim, who did a wonderful job. Kudos!

Kasaba Movie Review

Here is a mass movie that is strictly for the hardcore fans of the megastar. For neutral audience, well I seriously doubt if they will find anything concrete and substantial to fill their appetite in Kasaba. Nithin Renji Panicker, son of writer, director and actor Renji Panicker makes his debut through Kasaba, which is primarily targeted at the fans of Mammootty. They have been given lot of spaces to cheer and clap for their hero who walks talks and behaves in a typical but familiar larger than life fashion.

The film has very little to say on the content part and with a weak screenplay, Kasaba doesn't explore anything new. Whatever is projected on screen more or less follow a clichéd pattern that we have seen over the years when it comes to police investigation and films that belong to such genre. As a newcomer, our young director has showed promise but it is the writing side that he needs to improve. Dialogues were overly dramatic at many places.

Rajan Zakariah is the protagonist who is a circle inspector. Some untoward incidents happen in Kasaba station limits, a place close to Kerala Karnataka border. Rajan at the behest of his superior officer gets transferred to Kasaba to unofficially investigate the reasons for all the happenings there.

Though Nithin has avoided using lengthy dialogues with lot of words from the English vocabulary, something which his father is famous for, the treatment and the way how the wafer thin story emerges has resemblance to movies of Renjith and his guru Shaji Kailas. It was a very ordinary first half and the pace gets a jump in the latter half as the investigation progresses.

The main drawback is that there is no amount of suspense and the 'Who done it' part is exposed very early in the film. Now 'How and why they did it' is the only remaining question which gets an exaggerated description in a weak screenplay that demanded some more depth and character detailing for a convincing narration. So do not expect any sort of suspense and twist in the film.

Use of some double meaning signals and language should have been avoided. Also there is a scene where the CI pulls a senior lady police officer to his side by his hands held inside her belt /unmentionable place which was too substandard.

Mammootty plays the character of Rajan Zakariah for the gallery and masses especially his die hard fans with ease. I personally didn't enjoy him walking in a 'strange' way supported by that background score that was a bit over the top. Otherwise it was an okay mass role. Sidhique as usual did his part very well even though the role was not that big. Sampath played the baddie role in his typical style supported through the voice dubbed by Shoby Thilakan.

Varalakshmy Sarathkumar was passable while Alencier Lay didn't had a meaty role at his disposal to showcase his acting credentials. Jagadeesh impressed with the portrayal of junior officer. Maqbool Salman could not make a strong presence and same is the case with Sidhique's son.

Cinematography was not bad while editing had its share of problems. Rahul Raj has scored the background score which in my opinion was not bad.

Overall, Kasaba is strictly for the fans of Mammootty who can enjoy his mass avatar but for others the experience and engaging level would not be the same. It was an average experience for me and I go with two and a half out of five for Kasaba.

Rating - 2.5 / 5

Sulthan Movie Review

One can complain about the almost close to three hour duration of the film as a pain. One can also say about some excess amount of melodrama acting as a roadblock in providing complete entertainment. But at the end of the day, what matters is whether the film is able to satisfy you and made you comfortable with its story and storytelling. Sultan does exactly that. 

Salman Khan's Eid bonanza for his fans and well-wishers turns out to be a decently told sports and drama film which in spite of its length manage to keep the audience engaged with its lively presentation and some notable performances. Its a film that has made the right choice of coming before the audience during a festive season and making it watchable for any class of audience.

Sultan begins with a board meeting of an Indian professional league of martial arts fight who are deeply concerned with the lukewarm response to their league for the last two seasons in India. For reviving the sport and the league, one of the board member decides to bring in an Indian touch to the fight by roping in Sultan Khan who is an Olympic Gold Medalist and former World Champion in the field of Wrestling.

They reach out to Sultan who has now stepped aside of the ring and is a pale shadow of the past. The film as a flashback mode dwell into the title protagonists' past life and show us what happened to him to abandon the game that once he ruled like a king.

Salman Khan in his previous film Bajrangi Baijaan could emotionally connect with the audience and the same thing happen here in Sultan as well. The film has been given an emotional flavour right through as we instantly gets attached to Sultan and his mannerisms. The script does the rest though some lagging scenes act as a bottleneck. Some unbelievable moments also makes its presence through the backdoor. The style of Hindi spoken has flavour of Haryana that sometimes make it difficult to understand the completeness of dialogue. Subtitles would have definitely helped.

As I said, there were some unwanted scenes and chopping off those scenes would have definitely helped the cause in making the product here look more crispier. Anyway let's leave aside that part. Director Ali Abbas Zafar who hasn't been able to make something big in terms of success will definitely feel the taste of sweet as Sultan has in it that punch to go the extra mile.

Salman Khan in my opinion has a character that is a mix of humane as well as larger than life shade to it. Believe me, he has given his best shot as far as acting and also for the fights inside and outside of the ring is concerned. His efforts will surely yield results in the form of success at the box office. He shared a good on-screen chemistry with Anushka who also has put in lot of hard work to bring such finesse to her character which is not the usual Bollywood heroine that we normally see in a superstar and male dominated movie. It was a well performed acting display from the actress.

The guy who acted as Sultan's friend and also the coach of hero also were notable with their good and simple acting. Randeep Hooda makes an extended cameo which in my opinion was not bad.

Cinematography looks pleasing to our eyes and is done very well and the songs had good punch and rhythm to it. Background score jelled and mixed in a very neat manner with the plot and each scene. Fights were orchestrated quite well with some standard touch in it creating adequate thrills.

Overall, a neat and clean entertainer is Sultan and is almost the exact recipe to satisfy the mood of festive audience. I enjoyed it and has no hesitation in giving three and a half out of five for Sultan.

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Raman Raghav 2.0 - Hindi Movie Review

The film isn't a biopic on the real ripper modeled serial killer Raman Raghav. It puts an end to that notion through a disclaimer at the beginning. Anurag Kashyap's Raman Raghav 2.0 to be honest is a difficult watch for sure but the treatment and how the revelations are shown in the end compensate for a somewhat dull and non-moving part of the film. 

This isn't a film close to some of the director's best work. Even with a slow paced narration that show the two sides of a serial killer, the film is likeable for certain aspects in it.

Raman is a psychopath who is on a killing spree. He shows no mercy at all to any of his victims that included his sister as well as his nephew. He has his own reasons for the killings and Raman Raghav 2.0 the film depict how Raman finds his 'soulmate' in ACP Raghav.

The film is too dark and intense and surprises you with the treatment given to it by Anurag Kashyap. One would definitely need to be in a different mindset to watch this film that has Anurag Kashyap trying something which is in his comfort zone.

Mixing of characters who are poles apart but at the same time who are different sides of the same coin is something notable. The climax in the film justify many things and puts a full stop to many of the questions that will crop in our minds midway through. Both the pivotal characters (Raman and Raghav) have been solidly sketched in the screenplay. Director who has tried a Tarantino style narrative dividing the film into eight chapters was something notable.

Watching Nawazudin Sidhiqui perform is a real pleasure. The guy is in a different level and the range he has is really commendable. Here, in this film he gives a brilliant act in front of the camera as Raman. As a psychopath, the character has multi shades to it and demanded emotional and facial expression change quite frequently at a rapid pace. The actor was spot on with his expressions.

Vicky Kaushal enacts the role of young ACP Raghav with style adding substance through the way he has contributed with his acting skills. There aren't many supporting actors in the film and among them the two names who I should not miss are that of Sobhita Dhulipala who played the role of Raghav's sleeping partner and Amrutha Subhash who played Raman's sister' s role.

Though Raman Raghav 2.0 is not in the league of Kashyap's previous films, it surprises you with its dark theme. In attempting to say the story of a man for whom killing is something that gives him pleasure, Anurag Kashyap has somewhat succeeded in that endeavour. The rating is three out of five.

Rating - 3 / 5

Karinkunnam Sixes Review

We have seen many impressive movies with any of the sporting activity occupying the central theme. These films provide lot of inspiration and majority of them turns out to be motivational ones barring a very few. Director Deepu Karunakaran's Karinkunnam Sixes is a Sports movie that has the game of Volleyball as its pivotal plot. Though the game part is highly predictable and similar to many of the movies that have come out in this genre before, the writing and making side has made it a watchable film by infusing good amount of tension and drama at the right and appropriate time.

There is a character played by Anoop Menon who wants to popularise the game of Volleyball. His idea is a Volleyball Premier League, just like we have the twenty-twenty league of cricket. He feels there is an unexplored market for this game and seeks the support of a Corporate firm to realise his dream of making Volleyball a popular and mass game.

But little did he know that the task is not that easy as the challenge before him is numerous. At some stage of the film, he has to move apart and his wife Vandana had to take charge and develop a team from scratches and that too people who are jail inmates. What are the circumstances that prompted her to take such a drastic move and what are the various threats and challenges she had to overcome form part of all the drama in Karinkunnam Sixes.

Actually if you take the whole plot and do an analysis, you will know that there is nothing fresh on the treatment part. The film follow a similar pattern that all sports related movies have in common. So the forming of the team, the threats in different forms, other challenges in front of the coach and the conflicts within the team are all we have seen. The different angle here comes in the form of jail inmates forming part of the team.

We can easily guess that the team here is definitely going to win the cup and it was a matter of time for that to happen. The tensions and dramas that form part of the story is what that makes the difference here and putting the film on a safe zone.

This is by far the best work of Deepu Karunakaran. Even though on the making side, there is still scope for some freshness as the director still has that old school making touch, you can never complain about the end result of the film. Its a one time watchable film that has its ups and downs.

Manju Warrier plays Vandana the Volleyball coach in a cool and comfortable fashion bringing good amount of tension and emotion on her face with success. Anoop Menon has very limited role and whatever he had to do was performed as per the demands of the character.

Now to the actors who formed part of the Volleyball team. Babu Antony is the leader of the pack and he played his part well. Sudev who won the State Best Actor award couple of years back plays another player and then there is Gregory and Baiju who handled the humour side. Padmaraj Ratheesh gets sidelined while Santhosh Keezhattoor did make his presence felt. The best of the lot was Sudheer Karamana. There is one more guy in the team whose name I am not aware of.

Nandu as one of the jail inmates along with Suraj Venjaramudu and Sreejith Ravi as police officers were very much notable with their convincing acts in front of the camera. Major Ravi and Syamaprasad along with Manian Pillai Raju have small but important roles to play at some stages of the film.

Close to eighty percent of the film involve the gaming part. So a high degree of skill is required to make this portion highly energetic and real without loosing the essence of the game. Both cinematography and editing needs utmost care and skill to successfully show it convincingly. I would say both these departments have rose up to the challenge before them and whoever has done these jobs deserve special mention. Background score helped to get the necessary feel and tensions of the matches.

Karikunnam Sixes is not a great sports movie but it has its moments. All films in this genre follow a similar style of narration and this one from Deepu Karunakaran too follow a similar treatment. But in spite of this familiar template and also the predictable nature of the whole story along with the flaws in the making, Karinkunnam Sixes is a watchable film that can be given a try.

Rating - 3 / 5

Anuraga Karikkin Vellam Review

A simple story can be told in a lighter and simpler way. There is also the possibility of narrating a simple plot by adopting a more complex approach either unintentionally or purposefully as per the demands of a film which at many times backfire. Anuraga Karikkin Vellam directed by debutant Khalid Rahman adopt the former approach and the result is a feel good rom com entertainer. Sincere in its approach and following a realistic way to tell the story, AKV is a light hearted family movie watchable for any class of audience.

The story as I said is a simpler one and primarily focus on Reghu, a police officer, his wife and their son and daughter. This middle-class family somehow struggle to communicate with each other and is passing through some turbulent time. What that helps to fix and resolve their internal issues and how things gets sorted out is what is basically shown in this little over two hour movie.

There is no amount of tension and drama for the entire running time. Credit goes to the making and direction along with a free flowing screenplay by Naveen Bhaskar that gives the perfect icing on the cake for the film to survive and go to the next level. Dialogues are less dramatic and the realistic approach in conveying the lack of communication within the family has been well orchestrated with good amount of clarity making it look so natural.

The teaser itself where Biju Menon singing a song and his wife Asha Sharath saying that his singing style resemble the way how Yesudas sings was so catchy that I was sure this film had something that will makes us rooted to it. Director Khalid Rahman is quite successful in presenting this theme with lot of sincerity and he has displayed enough talent that he possesses through this film. He can be one to be watched out in future for sure.

Biju Menon effortlessly and successfully portray the character of Reghu. His dialogue delivery bringing in humour and laughs is quite commendable. He is casted here as a pair with Asha Sharath and both shared good on-screen chemistry between them. On her part, as the fearing and obedient wife Asha Sharath acted remarkably well playing perfect foil to Biju Menon.

It was a gamble casting Biju Menon as father to Asif Ali but the gamble has paid off. There were no ill feeling or any sort of uncomfortable feel seeing them act in such a relationship. Asif Ali plays Abhilash effectively while Rajisha Vijayan who had a role with some substance in it came out with flying colours making her character look really fine on screen. Sudheer Karamana was impressive as Reghu's colleague and friend. Shoubin Shahir once again handled the comic department in his usual style with success. There is also a supporting act from an actor whose name I am not aware of. He was really natural in front of the camera as the call centre guy and friend to Asif Ali's character.

Cinematography was good and the same can be said about the editing works that has been done without affecting the total feel and flow of the film. Prashanth Pillai has done a remarkable job with his background music as well as the songs. Use of Sarod, if I am not wrong was a welcome change in the background score and sounded soothing and fresh.

Overall, its a pleasing and refreshing experience watching this film that makes you literally forget the tensions and dramas of the real world. I am going with three and a half out of five for Anuraga Karikkin Vellam and looking forward to more promising works from the director of this film.

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Shajahanum Pareekkutyum Review

I was desperately trying to control my sleep while watching Shajahanum Pareekkutyum and though I was successful in my attempt, had a torrid time watching this film. Just like me, the film too was trying desperately but for a different thing. The film tries too hard to make us laugh with its slapstick humour but fails at many places. There is dullness and boredom creeping at many places making Boban Samuel directed Shajahanum Pareekkutyum end up on a sore note.

There is this girl named Jiah played by Amala Paul. She loses her memory (only partially and that too some recent happenings dating back to two or three years) as a result of a car accident. Now her parents and her would-be are put into trouble as they came to know that she had a lover whose name had 'P' in it. Things gets more complicated as Prince and Pranav, two young men claim to be the P and lover of Jiah. Now who is the real one is what is revealed later.

The desperate attempt to infuse comedy falls flat and all those jokes were too silly and cliched. Even with the presence of some good actors who can bring laughter out of any situation, the film could not do any face saving thing by bringing some life into it. Script is the main villain here along with its outdated making doing the bulk share of pulling the film down. Story too lacks any conviction and with a dull first half combining with a lifeless second half, the comedies shown in Shajahanum Pareekkutyum are all we will just leave behind the cinema halls after watching with nothing as takeaways.

You will find lot of similarities with films watched before with many a borrowed moments from those films.For enjoyment it is better to rewatch those films that succumb to this boring film projected to be a brainless entertainer for the festive season.

On the acting side, both Kunjacko Boban and Jayasuriya were in their safe zones as far as their characters were concerned. Jayasurya playing Prince was able to create few genuine laughs inspite of the screenplay letting him down at many places. Kunjacko Boban was okay. Amala Paul didn't do anything bad but was unable to contribute anything substantial.

Suraj Venjaramudu succeeded partially in tickling our funny bone. Aju Varghese was also able to offer some genuine humour inspite of a weak screenplay offering more of forgetful humour than something to remember for long. Vijayaraghavan, Vinayaprasad, Lena and Shajon are there doing supporting acts.

Cinematography effectively captures the beauty of Vagamon. Edits were not bad while songs and background music by Gopi Sundar could not do much and were not upto the standards set by the music director.

Giving no prominence for story and screenplay, what the film tries to do is to bring in humour and adding color to the whole proceedings which in my opinion hasn't worked out in any way. Some laughable moments are there created by some individual as well as combination scenes of the actors but overall Shajahanum Pareekkutyum is disappointing.

Rating - 2 / 5

KABALI REVIEW

To know the real pulse and feel of words like "mass" & "hype", one should keep a close watch and follow the pre-release movement of films of this man, who is the ultimate superstar whose brand image is incomparable and unreachable by any other Indian movie star. The hype surrounding Rajnikanth's Kabali reached the full crescendo on the eve of the release such that it was a festive mood everywhere with the talking point focused on Kabali and its outcome.
Now to the big question of how the film has performed and whether all the pre-release hype and expectations have materialised into something positive that can satisfy the fans of Thalaivar as well rest of the audience.
Well, in my opinion its a mixed bag of mass, sentiments and emotion. Expecting a high voltage mass film with heavy scenes would be a mistake as Kabali has mass scenes of the superstar in limited dose. Director Pa.Ranjith had used a different treatment to this gangster story but at the same time borrowed cliched moments from films belonging to this genre. But what that makes the film a watchable one inspite of lagging moments is definitely the presence of this man and his style.
The film begin with Kabaleeshwaran's release from a Malaysian jail and he goes about with the job of taking revenge on Gang 43 lead by Tony Lee who were instrumental in eliminating his family.
Introduction and the beginning scenes create real goosebumps and this is followed up with lagging feel that ends with some surprises and unexpected twists towards the beginning of latter half. Slowness is felt in the post-intermission portion as well that culminates with a little surprising climax which I am not sure how the masses would accept.
Director Pa.Ranjith has tried to give a mass flavour to the character of Kabaleeswaran only partially as there are shades of a common man in the character. Story is a pretty ordinary gangster plot with the usual revenge part in it. Its just that the location is taken to abroad unlike the ones we have mostly seen where the backdrop is somewhere in this part of the world. Screenplay is average and lacks the full punch we expect in a Rajni film. Lack of thrilling scenes and some fireworks that we normally expect from a Rajni movie is absent. Not sure what prompted the scenarist to go for such an approach.
On screen, as always its a treat to watch Rajnikanth in full form. Though on the mass side, there are less number of scenes for him he used his style to make it look classy with his walk, laugh and other mannerisms. The emotionally and sentimentally filled scenes were also performed well. Radhika Apte as the better half of the superstar played perfect foil with a decent act.
Attakathi Dinesh acted as the the right hand of Kabali and it was a notable performance from the actor. Kishore as the baddie wasn't utilised properly while the foreign actor who played Tony Lee couldn't rise up to the occasion. John Vijay as Ameer supporting Kabali was impressive.
Cinematography captured the Malaysian background quite well while editing had its problems. On the music side, Santhosh Narayanan could not match his standards at all. The background score when Kabali appear was a catchy one with lot of energy and in rest of the areas it was a letdown.
In my opinion, the expectation level should be brought down before going to watch the film. The absence of heavy mass scenes would disappoint the section of audience who had their anticipation level at a higher level expecting a cracker of a movie after watching the teaser and of course the Njeruppudaa number. An average film for me and I settle with two and a half out of five for Kabali.
Rating - 2.5 / 5

Ozhivu Divasathay Kali - Malayalam Movie Review

Happy to say that it was a wonderful and a satisfying time as far as my Friday and weekend movie watching is concerned. Close on the heels of#UdtaPunjab and #Lens providing more or less a complete satisfaction, here comes another small film that gave a satisfied feel after leaving from the cinema halls.

Last years Kerala State Award winning film Ozhivu Divasathay Kali (An Off-Day game) finally reaches the larger audience and believe me it is a strong and disturbing film that makes for a compelling watch. I am giving complete credits to the director behind this small but simple and sincere film, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan.

Based on a story by Unni.R, Ozhivu Divasathay Kali as a story is quite simple but passes through many interpretations that one can make and deal with the caste system, religion, political viewpoints and mindset of the people who are part of the story. It also touches topics like how sex is interpreted by different people.

The film basically has five friends on an election day leaving all their tensions behind and decide to go to a remote guesthouse located at a scenic place inside a forest good for some drinking fun. They go to the extreme and celebrate enjoying the moments just like each of us do when we hangout with friends. They also debate on certain occasions debating their viewpoints on some hot topics.

The film right throughout maintain an equal balance and have adopted a complete realistic approach. The situations and the way in which the five of them enjoy is something that we all have passed through and seen. It was too natural and believable making it so real. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan has adapted the story in a remarkable fashion and ends the film on a very strong and disturbing note.

On screen, you don't feel that the five of them were acting. It was as if the camera was placed hidden capturing their off day enjoyment and entertainment. The performance was so natural and real.

But the reality is that most of the shots were quite long and almost the entire second half was captured in a single scene. That is quite an achievement for the actors as well the makers and technical team. Abhija the only female presence in Ozhivu Divasathay Kali was also spot on with her realistic acting as Geetha.

The storyline depicts the political viewpoints and also the mindset of the five men towards general issues. Their mentality is showed in a humorous way and when situation demanded a serious tone in the discussion, the film never shy away from that.

Technically, the film has done its homework right. Cinematography is neat and clean. Edits are also sharp. There is no background score used but I could feel some silent music towards the end. Live sound is used very well throughout. The film has a rainy background right from the start till the climax and the sound design they have used has been so perfect giving the feel of real rain. If the rain was natural, then I have to correct and take back my words.

Overall, here is a fine film making a strong political statement and dwell on some important topics effectively. It gives a disturbing and haunting feel once the climax and final scene is complete. I am giving four out of five for Ozhivu Divasathay Kali. An Off-Day game at the cinemas was worth a watch for me.

Also, I am hoping that the film in the coming days is able increase its theatre runs with more cinemas coming up to take it based on the positive feedbacks the film is garnering during the last couple of days.

Rating 4 / 5

LENS Hindi Movie Review

Many of you might not have even heard about this movie called Lens that is hitting theatres today. The film would have gone into oblivion and would have just confined to just festivals alone had LJ Films owned by director Lal Jose did not get the chance to watch the film. Distributed by LJ films and directed by independent film maker Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan with a rank of new comers in it, Lens, a multilingual film came as a big surprise to me. The film turns out to be a shocking, powerful and a hard hitting one that has a very high relevance in the society we live in today and deals with a bold subject.

Social media has virtually taken over the daily life of many people and has a very big influence on the society now. The question is how we use it to make our life more meaningful and exciting exploring the various facets of this medium.

Now what happens when the medium tempt us to explore the not so nice side of it. Lens can be called a psycho thriller that is set against the backdrop of the vast and enormous digital world which can be rightly called a cyber jungle now. The story unfolds in a video chat room of the digital world where Aravind, a married youth gets a request to watch one of his online friend committing suicide. Story further develop from there.

The tag line of the film goes something like this; "Watch me die live". The story and premises in Lens oozes some freshness to it. A thriller with suspense element, the film breaks the conventional norm and follow a different pattern for narrating the story. A haunting feel is there throughout and the film makes up for a compelling watch, thanks to its lively screenplay and beautiful execution staying sincere to the story and its presentation.

The film has taken utmost care on the technical front with excellent camera work. The incidents unfold in a single room of an apartment and the cameraman has done his part making the visuals look totally apt. Nice background score and sound effects also is another highlight. Whoever has done the sound design also deserves a pat on his back.

I am not familiar with the actors who all are new faces. Director Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan himself dons the role of Aravind bringing in the required amount of tension and stress that he was passing through. The actor who portrayed the character of Yohan (Anand Sami) too has done an outstanding job.

Social media has a heavy influence in our day to day life these days and if we do not use it wisely, it will conquer us in a negative fashion and it will be difficult to come out of that shell. Lens makes us think and show us how our life can go upside down if the internet savvy and gadget loving generation of the present travel through the wrong path of the digital world. The message passed has so much importance now and without going in the direction of any sort of preachings, the film convey what it intended in the best possible manner.

There is very less or little publicity going into the film for promotion even with LJ films behind the distribution. So not sure how the film can make a strong presence at the all important box office. So word of mouth is the next best option to get the movie a big attention. Watch it and spread the word about Lens, a film that is highly watchable for the lifestyle of the present generation. So next time you see something bad in the virtual world, just ignore it.

Now to the ratings side which you all eagerly look forward in the review. I am very much impressed with the content, its presentation and the value it hold passing on an all important message to each of us. Going with four out of five for LENS.

Rating - 4 / 5

Udtha Punjab Review

After all those tussles with the Censor Board, Udta Punjab finally gets released, thanks to the timely judiciary intervention and passing a verdict that was a long standing demand of film makers as well as film loving public. Well, what should I say, for all the off-screen controversies the film created, it more than compensate with a hard hitting, serious and intense portrayal of the narcotic mafia, clearly it is more than a worth a watch film. Some outstanding performances and a sharp screenplay along with Abhishek Chaubey's able execution takes Udta Punjab to another level of movie watching.

Its the story of Punjab, not the one we are familiar with. Known as the land of five rivers and more famous for the bhangras, Kabaddi, wrestling and also a place ideal for cultivation of wheat, Udta Punjab the film show us a different Punjab altogether where the youth is heavily influenced by drugs. The State now is in the hands of the drug cartel that has blossomed through the unholy alliance with the politicians and situation is compared to what it is prevailing in countries like Mexico.

Four parallel tracks takes the film forward. The four tracks doesn't really connect to each other even though at some point couple of them do comes face to face. Tommy Singh, a singer and a youth icon who gets pumped up only when he gets a narcotic kick is the first one. The second is Kumari Pinky, an innocent Bihari girl who accidentally gets involved with the drug cartel and is in a hopless situation.

Next is a cop named Sartaj who changes his mind and start fighting against the menace once he realise that his brother is drug addict. Last but not the least we have Preet played by Kareena who is a doctor who wants to fight and save Punjab from the excessive use of cocaine, opium and hashish, all of which are readily available aplenty in Chaubey's Punjab.

There is occasional dragness and slowness before the half way mark but the screenplay never allows us to rest. Director had a vision and he has executed it quite brilliantly in making Udta Punjab a partly realistic film that stays close to its heart.

Language spoken majority of times has that Punjabi flavour in it but thanks to the subtitles, non-Punjabi speaking audience would never feel as if they are alienated and in a jungle. Also, the famous four letter word makes its presence in every sentence anyone utters which one will get used to as the film progresses. The nature of the story and narrative is such that one would find a little time in adjusting to the film's tempo and way of storytelling.

For Shahid Kapoor, this one is one of his career best role and almost at par with the one he did in Haider. Its a transformed Shahid that we can see in him. Tommy Singh was a character that is a lot eccentric, high in energy with a very loud nature of talking. The actor in him has done all the homework in making it look so real. The dedication he has put in is there to be seen.

The best of the actors was Alia Bhat playing an innocent Bihari girl who gets trapped and suffer. A role with no make up, Alia just steals the show and makes it her best role to date. Kareena Kapoor Khan dons the role of doctor who wants to change things for the good. Not a character that has that much prominence as Alia's, but it was a controlled acting display from the actress.

Diljith Dosanjh as the Inspector was an ideal casting playing his part in a remarkable fashion. Rest of the actors were also good and among them Satish Kaushik and the superior officer of Sartaj was notable.

Songs were good and appeared very timely without affecting the flow and mood. Good cinematography and fine edits though at two hours and twenty eight minutes the film was a bit lengthier.

Udta Punjab is not the regular family entertainer that we usually see in Bollywood. It is at a level more than such stuff and is a highly recommended film from my end. Go for it is the final word from here and concluding the review by giving four stars out of five.

Rating - 4 / 5

Raman Raghav 2.0 - Hindi Movie Review

The film isn't a biopic on the real ripper modeled serial killer Raman Raghav. It puts an end to that notion through a disclaimer at the beginning. Anurag Kashyap's Raman Raghav 2.0 to be honest is a difficult watch for sure but the treatment and how the revelations are shown in the end compensate for a somewhat dull and non-moving part of the film. 

This isn't a film close to some of the director's best work. Even with a slow paced narration that show the two sides of a serial killer, the film is likeable for certain aspects in it.

Raman is a psychopath who is on a killing spree. He shows no mercy at all to any of his victims that included his sister as well as his nephew. He has his own reasons for the killings and Raman Raghav 2.0 the film depict how Raman finds his 'soulmate' in ACP Raghav.

The film is too dark and intense and surprises you with the treatment given to it by Anurag Kashyap. One would definitely need to be in a different mindset to watch this film that has Anurag Kashyap trying something which is in his comfort zone.

Mixing of characters who are poles apart but at the same time who are different sides of the same coin is something notable. The climax in the film justify many things and puts a full stop to many of the questions that will crop in our minds midway through. Both the pivotal characters (Raman and Raghav) have been solidly sketched in the screenplay. Director who has tried a Tarantino style narrative dividing the film into eight chapters was something notable.

Watching Nawazudin Sidhiqui perform is a real pleasure. The guy is in a different level and the range he has is really commendable. Here, in this film he gives a brilliant act in front of the camera as Raman. As a psychopath, the character has multi shades to it and demanded emotional and facial expression change quite frequently at a rapid pace. The actor was spot on with his expressions.

Vicky Kaushal enacts the role of young ACP Raghav with style adding substance through the way he has contributed with his acting skills. There aren't many supporting actors in the film and among them the two names who I should not miss are that of Sobhita Dhulipala who played the role of Raghav's sleeping partner and Amrutha Subhash who played Raman's sister' s role.

Though Raman Raghav 2.0 is not in the league of Kashyap's previous films, it surprises you with its dark theme. In attempting to say the story of a man for whom killing is something that gives him pleasure, Anurag Kashyap has somewhat succeeded in that endeavour. The rating is three out of five.

Rating - 3 / 5

Sulthan Hindi Movie Review

One can complain about the almost close to three hour duration of the film as a pain. One can also say about some excess amount of melodrama acting as a roadblock in providing complete entertainment. But at the end of the day, what matters is whether the film is able to satisfy you and made you comfortable with its story and storytelling. Sultan does exactly that. 

Salman Khan's Eid bonanza for his fans and well-wishers turns out to be a decently told sports and drama film which in spite of its length manage to keep the audience engaged with its lively presentation and some notable performances. Its a film that has made the right choice of coming before the audience during a festive season and making it watchable for any class of audience.

Sultan begins with a board meeting of an Indian professional league of martial arts fight who are deeply concerned with the lukewarm response to their league for the last two seasons in India. For reviving the sport and the league, one of the board member decides to bring in an Indian touch to the fight by roping in Sultan Khan who is an Olympic Gold Medalist and former World Champion in the field of Wrestling.

They reach out to Sultan who has now stepped aside of the ring and is a pale shadow of the past. The film as a flashback mode dwell into the title protagonists' past life and show us what happened to him to abandon the game that once he ruled like a king.

Salman Khan in his previous film Bajrangi Baijaan could emotionally connect with the audience and the same thing happen here in Sultan as well. The film has been given an emotional flavour right through as we instantly gets attached to Sultan and his mannerisms. The script does the rest though some lagging scenes act as a bottleneck. Some unbelievable moments also makes its presence through the backdoor. The style of Hindi spoken has flavour of Haryana that sometimes make it difficult to understand the completeness of dialogue. Subtitles would have definitely helped.

As I said, there were some unwanted scenes and chopping off those scenes would have definitely helped the cause in making the product here look more crispier. Anyway let's leave aside that part. Director Ali Abbas Zafar who hasn't been able to make something big in terms of success will definitely feel the taste of sweet as Sultan has in it that punch to go the extra mile.

Salman Khan in my opinion has a character that is a mix of humane as well as larger than life shade to it. Believe me, he has given his best shot as far as acting and also for the fights inside and outside of the ring is concerned. His efforts will surely yield results in the form of success at the box office. He shared a good on-screen chemistry with Anushka who also has put in lot of hard work to bring such finesse to her character which is not the usual Bollywood heroine that we normally see in a superstar and male dominated movie. It was a well performed acting display from the actress.

The guy who acted as Sultan's friend and also the coach of hero also were notable with their good and simple acting. Randeep Hooda makes an extended cameo which in my opinion was not bad.

Cinematography looks pleasing to our eyes and is done very well and the songs had good punch and rhythm to it. Background score jelled and mixed in a very neat manner with the plot and each scene. Fights were orchestrated quite well with some standard touch in it creating adequate thrills.

Overall, a neat and clean entertainer is Sultan and is almost the exact recipe to satisfy the mood of festive audience. I enjoyed it and has no hesitation in giving three and a half out of five for Sultan.

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Kasaba Malayalam Movie Review

Here is a mass movie that is strictly for the hardcore fans of the megastar. For neutral audience, well I seriously doubt if they will find anything concrete and substantial to fill their appetite in Kasaba. Nithin Renji Panicker, son of writer, director and actor Renji Panicker makes his debut through Kasaba, which is primarily targeted at the fans of Mammootty. They have been given lot of spaces to cheer and clap for their hero who walks talks and behaves in a typical but familiar larger than life fashion.

The film has very little to say on the content part and with a weak screenplay, Kasaba doesn't explore anything new. Whatever is projected on screen more or less follow a clichéd pattern that we have seen over the years when it comes to police investigation and films that belong to such genre. As a newcomer, our young director has showed promise but it is the writing side that he needs to improve. Dialogues were overly dramatic at many places.

Rajan Zakariah is the protagonist who is a circle inspector. Some untoward incidents happen in Kasaba station limits, a place close to Kerala Karnataka border. Rajan at the behest of his superior officer gets transferred to Kasaba to unofficially investigate the reasons for all the happenings there.

Though Nithin has avoided using lengthy dialogues with lot of words from the English vocabulary, something which his father is famous for, the treatment and the way how the wafer thin story emerges has resemblance to movies of Renjith and his guru Shaji Kailas. It was a very ordinary first half and the pace gets a jump in the latter half as the investigation progresses.

The main drawback is that there is no amount of suspense and the 'Who done it' part is exposed very early in the film. Now 'How and why they did it' is the only remaining question which gets an exaggerated description in a weak screenplay that demanded some more depth and character detailing for a convincing narration. So do not expect any sort of suspense and twist in the film.

Use of some double meaning signals and language should have been avoided. Also there is a scene where the CI pulls a senior lady police officer to his side by his hands held inside her belt /unmentionable place which was too substandard.

Mammootty plays the character of Rajan Zakariah for the gallery and masses especially his die hard fans with ease. I personally didn't enjoy him walking in a 'strange' way supported by that background score that was a bit over the top. Otherwise it was an okay mass role. Sidhique as usual did his part very well even though the role was not that big. Sampath played the baddie role in his typical style supported through the voice dubbed by Shoby Thilakan.

Varalakshmy Sarathkumar was passable while Alencier Lay didn't had a meaty role at his disposal to showcase his acting credentials. Jagadeesh impressed with the portrayal of junior officer. Maqbool Salman could not make a strong presence and same is the case with Sidhique's son.

Cinematography was not bad while editing had its share of problems. Rahul Raj has scored the background score which in my opinion was not bad.

Overall, Kasaba is strictly for the fans of Mammootty who can enjoy his mass avatar but for others the experience and engaging level would not be the same. It was an average experience for me and I go with two and a half out of five for Kasaba.

Rating - 2.5 / 5

Karikunnam Sixes Malayalam Movie Review

We have seen many impressive movies with any of the sporting activity occupying the central theme. These films provide lot of inspiration and majority of them turns out to be motivational ones barring a very few. Director Deepu Karunakaran's Karinkunnam Sixes is a Sports movie that has the game of Volleyball as its pivotal plot. Though the game part is highly predictable and similar to many of the movies that have come out in this genre before, the writing and making side has made it a watchable film by infusing good amount of tension and drama at the right and appropriate time.

There is a character played by Anoop Menon who wants to popularise the game of Volleyball. His idea is a Volleyball Premier League, just like we have the twenty-twenty league of cricket. He feels there is an unexplored market for this game and seeks the support of a Corporate firm to realise his dream of making Volleyball a popular and mass game.

But little did he know that the task is not that easy as the challenge before him is numerous. At some stage of the film, he has to move apart and his wife Vandana had to take charge and develop a team from scratches and that too people who are jail inmates. What are the circumstances that prompted her to take such a drastic move and what are the various threats and challenges she had to overcome form part of all the drama in Karinkunnam Sixes.

Actually if you take the whole plot and do an analysis, you will know that there is nothing fresh on the treatment part. The film follow a similar pattern that all sports related movies have in common. So the forming of the team, the threats in different forms, other challenges in front of the coach and the conflicts within the team are all we have seen. The different angle here comes in the form of jail inmates forming part of the team.

We can easily guess that the team here is definitely going to win the cup and it was a matter of time for that to happen. The tensions and dramas that form part of the story is what that makes the difference here and putting the film on a safe zone.

This is by far the best work of Deepu Karunakaran. Even though on the making side, there is still scope for some freshness as the director still has that old school making touch, you can never complain about the end result of the film. Its a one time watchable film that has its ups and downs.

Manju Warrier plays Vandana the Volleyball coach in a cool and comfortable fashion bringing good amount of tension and emotion on her face with success. Anoop Menon has very limited role and whatever he had to do was performed as per the demands of the character.

Now to the actors who formed part of the Volleyball team. Babu Antony is the leader of the pack and he played his part well. Sudev who won the State Best Actor award couple of years back plays another player and then there is Gregory and Baiju who handled the humour side. Padmaraj Ratheesh gets sidelined while Santhosh Keezhattoor did make his presence felt. The best of the lot was Sudheer Karamana. There is one more guy in the team whose name I am not aware of.

Nandu as one of the jail inmates along with Suraj Venjaramudu and Sreejith Ravi as police officers were very much notable with their convincing acts in front of the camera. Major Ravi and Syamaprasad along with Manian Pillai Raju have small but important roles to play at some stages of the film.

Close to eighty percent of the film involve the gaming part. So a high degree of skill is required to make this portion highly energetic and real without loosing the essence of the game. Both cinematography and editing needs utmost care and skill to successfully show it convincingly. I would say both these departments have rose up to the challenge before them and whoever has done these jobs deserve special mention. Background score helped to get the necessary feel and tensions of the matches.

Karikunnam Sixes is not a great sports movie but it has its moments. All films in this genre follow a similar style of narration and this one from Deepu Karunakaran too follow a similar treatment. But in spite of this familiar template and also the predictable nature of the whole story along with the flaws in the making, Karinkunnam Sixes is a watchable film that can be given a try.

Rating - 3 / 5