Saturday, March 27, 2010

Movie: Ishqiya

Khalujaan(Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban(Arshad Warsi) are two petty thieves working for Mushtaq(Salim Shahid). Due to their closness, the duo is fondly referred to as uncle and nephew though they do not share any relationship. At present, Khalujaan and Babban are on the run after stealing money from their boss. Their boss, Mushtaq, is tracking them.

After knocking on several doors, Khalujaan and Babban finally ends up in Gorakhpur in UP. Here, they hope to obtain asylum with an old acquantaince, Vidhyadar Varma(Adil Hussain). To their surprise, they meet Varma’s widow, Krishna(Vidya Balan). Having nowhere to go, Khalujaan and Babban end up staying at Krishna’s house.

Khalujaan gets attracted to Krishna while Babban finds the nearest place where flesh is traded! But their happiness is shortlived as Mushtaq finds them holed up in Krishna’s house. To their surprise, the stolen money is also missing. Mushtaq gives them a month to return money. In this one month, Krishna helps Khalujaan and Babban in raising the money. In doing so, Babban gets smitten by Krishna. The rest of the story traces what happens in their lives.

Abhishek Chaubhey directs this movie based on a script by himself in collaboration with Vishal Bharadwaj and Sabrina Dhawan. This movie bears an unmistakable stamp of his mentor, Vishal Bharadwaj and can be summed as a Tarantinesque tale with Bharadwajish twist. Abhishek has concentrated on telling a tale greed, lust and vengeance. In order to tell his story, he relies on seasoned performers. The songs blend into the movie, helps to take the movie forward and never hampering the tempo.

The photography by Mohana Krishnan is clear and crisp. The rustic backgrounds of Krishna’s house looks like a painting.

Vidya Balan gives a jaw dropping performance as Krishna. Like the script, Vidya never lets out the mystery of Krishna. But with each scene, she reveals enough to suspect that she is more than a demure widow. From the first scene onwards, her sexuality is subtle yet pronounced.

Naseeruddin Shah is perfect as Khalujaan. Using a trace of naughty smile on his lips and eyes surreptitiously following Krishna, Naseeruddin shows us how a fifty year old can turn into a lover when he encounters a woman of substance. He impresses in the scenes after he finds out the truth about Krishna and Babban.

For Arshad Warsi, this is a difficult film as he is pitted against two seasoned performers – Vidya and Naseeruddin. But he holds his ground. The other performance worthy of mention are Rajesh Sharma as KamalKant Kakkar and Gauri Malla as Mamta.

Go for this! The movie has raunchy scenes. So, viewer discretion is advised.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ****

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Naseeruddin Shah,Arshad Warsi,Vidya Balan,Abhishek Chaubhey,Vishal Bharadwaj,Thriller

Friday, March 26, 2010

Movie: In Ghost House Inn

Using the money gifted by his friends – Mahadevan(Mukesh), Govindan Kutty(Siddique) and Appukkuttan(Jagadish) – towards the end of the previous movie, Thomas Kutty(Ashokan) buys a bungalow in Cliff Hill. The locals believe the house to be haunted as three dead people were disposed inside a huge well inside the bungalow 70 years ago.

Thomas Kutty invites his three friends to the bungalow. The three friends happily arrives without their respective families in order to check out the bungalow and relive their younger days. After learning the history of the bungalow, the three friends are shaken and also persuades Thomas Kutty to sell the property. For Thomas Kutty, this is the big ticket as he wants to convert the property into a hotel after dispelling the rumors of ghosts.

The three friends decides to help Thomas Kutty. Very soon, these friends are joined by their respective wives (Rohini, Lena, Reena Basheer and Rakhi). The four friends realizes there is something spooky inside the bungalow and enlists the help of Father Dominic(Nedumudi Venu). The rest of the film gives you the answers.

Lal directs this movie based on a script written by self. The emphasis of this movie is not on comedy but on the spooky events. For a movie series based on Harihar Nagar, the shift in focus is not expected by the series lovers. The red herrings are easily identifiable which works against the movie. Although the best technicians were used, the movie still lacks finesse and looks like a product made in hurry. The songs except the one in the second half look forced.

Jagadish handles the comedy element in this movie too. Most of the comedy is based on Appukkuttan’s blunders. This is milked to the maximum in the movie. The rest of the performances have nothing much to write about.

Watch it only if you do not have other choices.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Drama

Rating: *

Picture Courtesy: http://www.keralapals.com

Tags: Movies,Mukesh,Siddique,Jagadish,Ashokan,Nedumudi Venu,Rohini,Lena,Lal,Drama

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rendezvous with FBI

“Can you accompany me to LA?”, he asked. It was one of the laziest long weekends a few summers ago. In spite of having three days of holidays, we were too lazy to plan anything! As a result, four of us ended up in an apartment in Santa Clara sipping alcohol, watching TV and browsing the net. We would have continued doing this for the next three days if my friend had not posed this question.

Three of us were uncomfortable on hearing this question. LA was around 450 miles away. Going to LA means renting a car and also a room. So we responded, “Why all of a sudden?”. He answered, “I have never driven long distance in this country!”. We continued our line of questioning. “So, what is the big deal about LA?”. He blushed and replied, “My girlfriend is waiting there!”.

Sensing an opportunity, we negotiated with our lovelorn friend. As a result, he agreed to pay for the car and also the room. For the rest of us, it was a change of location. We will still be sipping alcohol, watching TV and browsing the net. But now, we will doing this from LA instead of Santa Clara.

“Where are we meeting her?”, we enquired. My friend responded, “We will meet her at Denny’s. There is one on Sepulveda”. On hearing the name of the place, sirens went off inside my head. “How can a place be called vada? How long has this guy known her? Is she setting us for a wild goose chase?”. Being smart, I kept quiet!

I heaved a sigh of relief when we found the Sepulveda Blvd in LA and also the Denny’s! We found our friend’s girlfriend waiting inside the restaurant. After we conquered our initial awkwardness, the conversation became loud and fun. As we became more boisterous, the friend’s girlfriend said, “I’m FBI”.

Suddenly, everyone stopped midway and the awkwardness returned. Although I was sure we had done nothing wrong, I practiced my he-made-do-it line mentally. In this case, he did make us do it. We were chilling out in Santa Clara and he made us travel all the way to LA. As I rationalized the event, my breathing became normal!

While I was busy preparing my defense, I heard someone asked haltingly, “What?”. I gave the inquisitor a dirty look for he had asked the wrong question. He should have asked, “What did we do wrong?”!

The girl replied, “FBI. Fiji Born Indian”!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.dcgiftshop.com

Tags: Musings,LA,Santa Clara,FBI

Monday, March 22, 2010

Movie: Thanthonni

On a fine day, three patriarchs(Captain Raju, Ramu and Vijayaraghavan) controlling the fortunes of Vadakkanveettil family decides to divide the wealth amongst the next generation fearing the new generation might turn foes in greed. Although they have a sister (Ambika) who is a widow, they decide not to consult her on these matters as she opted for a marriage against the wishes of her elders. The partition plans goes haywire and incomplete because of the absence of Vadakkanveettil Kochu Konju(Prithviraj), their nephew. On the day of the partition, he is busy attending an auction and bashing up their family rivals.

Kochu Kunju is always in a drunken state and does not have a single penny in his pocket. But he is a daredevil! Achu(Suraj Venjaramood) is his sidekick. During his childhood, Kochu Kunju had run away from his home and finally returned when he attained adulthood. All his cousins (Suresh Krishna, Sadiq, Tony etc) hates him except Helen(Sheela). Helen is engaged to Kochu Kunju. Unknown to everyone, Kochu Kunju has a secret. The movie reveals this secret slowly and painfully during second half.

George Varghese directs this film based on a script by T A Shahid. Both the direction and script are mediocre never raising above what has witnessed umpteen times before. They have unsuccessfully tried to cash on the successful but illogical superstar themes.

Prithviraj gives his best to the half baked role. He is quite good at mouthing the superhero dialogues. At the same time, he fails in comedy because of imperfect timing. He isn’t irritating while doing comedy. But the jokes are lost because of the imperfect timing.

The rest of the supporting cast is a major disappointment. Sheela has nothing much to offer. Saikumar is totally wasted. There are imports from across the border – Pithamagan Mahadevan, Renjith, P Vasu, Adithya – who are all wasted.

Skip this! Not even Prithviraj can save this one! If you really want to watch this, I advice you to get more drunk than the thanthonni Kochu Kunju.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Tags: Movies,Prithviraj,Suraj Venjaramood,Vijayaraghavan,T A Shahid,Action

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plantation Trails: Cottabetta Bungalow

Plantation Trails offers cozy bungalows tucked inside the coffee or tea estates as a home away from the mad rush of the city. This is being managed by Tata Coffee. Cottabetta Bungalow is one of the bungalows which is offered under this service. Formerly known as the “Director’s bungalow”, this has been opened up commercially in the recent times. Cottapetta Bungalow is located in Coorg, two kilometers away from the town of Pollibetta.

The city of Pollibetta is difficult to find in the maps. Although the locals know these places very well, it is better to look up the city of Gonikoppal while looking for directions in the internet. From Bangalore, the directions are as follows.

  1. Bangalore to Mysore on SH 17
  2. Mysore to Hunsur on SH 88
  3. After crossing Hunsur, there is a smaller road branching out of SH88 on the left. There are hoarding displaying the directions to Plantation Trail.
  4. Go straight on this road till you reach Thithimathi.
  5. Turn right at Thithimathi and look out for the signs for Cottapetta Bungalow. This is located on your left.

Once you get off SH 88, the roads display wear and tear, giving you a jerky ride.

  DSC04834 DSC04835TT01 TT08 TT03TT05 DSC04839 TT02

Cottapetta Bungalow offers 5 room out of which one is an heritage room. A long porch welcomes you while entering the building. This opens up to the living room which offers a TV and sofas that could seat 9 people. The living room is connected to the dining hall with a long but slender table that could seat around 8 people. Once you cross the dining hall, there is a small courtyard. The rooms are built around the courtyard and dining hall.

There is a cook and other personnel attached to the bungalow. There are restaurants if you are willing to drive for more than 10 kilometers. If you want to stay in, the in house cook is the best option. They also arrange for barbeque and bonfire in the courtyard. But, you will have to inform them a day in advance for this. The bungalow do no have a liquor license. So, you will have to buy liquor from outside. If you buy it from the local shops, it may cost you more.

In spite of being managed by Tata Coffee, it is difficult to make a booking here as they do not have any online portal. The booking is crude as you have to deposit money into their ICICI bank account and fax the receipt to their offices.

If you are willing to travel more than 40 kilometers in a day, then there are many options for a traveler like Dubary Elephant Park, Irappu Falls, Golden Temple etc. Otherwise, this is an ideal place to eat, drink and relax.

Tags: Travel,Plantation Trails,Cottapetta Bungalow,Pollibetta,Gonikoppal

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movie: 12 Rounds

New Orleans Police Office Danny Fisher(John Cena) and his partner Hank Carver(Brian J White) accidently bumps into a notorious terrorist Miles Jackson(Aidan Gillen) who is fleeing from FBI. After recognizing Miles, Danny chases him down the streets on foot and arrests him. But, Miles’s girlfriend gets run over by a truck while trying to escape.A year has passed since this incident. Danny and Hank have been promoted to detectives. As they go about their peaceful and fun filled life, Miles escapes from prison and kidnaps Danny’s girlfriend Molly(Ashley Scott). Using Molly as a bargain chip, Miles lures Danny into a game which has 12 rounds.

The game sends Danny across the city following the cues given by Miles. How Danny completes the 12 rounds form the rest of the story.

Renny Harlin directs this movie which fails to impress. The 12 rounds does not translate to adrenalin pumping action scenes. The story towards the end gives a sense of déjà vu if you have seen Die Hard With A Vengeance.

John Cena is miscast as Danny Fisher. The role requires agility which John Cena is not able to successfully portray.

Skip this!

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Tags: Movies,John Cena,Brian J White,Aidan Gillen,Ashley Scott,Renny Harlin,Action

Searching for a landmark

During my visit to Coorg last weekend, our hotel was located on a lesser known and rarely maintained roads that branched out of the main highway. This road branched out a few kilometers away from Hunsur.

After reaching Hunsur and travelling for a few kilometers, we were confused about the turn as there were many roads branching out of the main road. So, we decided to pull over and check with the hotel staff on the phone.

Over the phone, the hotel staff assured us that we were on the right track. In order to simplify, I asked for landmarks. The hotel staff promptly replied, “Sir… Please continue forward. You take a turn where you see a person selling tender coconuts by the roadside!”.

I reached safely at the hotel despite seeing the tender coconut sellers at every 500 meters. Thankfully, there was a huge hoarding before the turn displaying the directions to the hotel.

Picture Courtesy: http://bangalore-city.blogspot.com

Tags: Musings,Coorg,Hunsur,Landmark,Tender Coconut

Friday, March 12, 2010

Movie: Aagathan

When his dad is transferred to Srinagar, seven year old Gautam moves with him along with his sister and mother. After the move, Gautam and his sister is happy in the paradise like city. But, their happiness is short lived. A group of terrorists attacks their neighborhood. As a result, his parents are killed and his sister battles with death in a hospital. After being suspended in a critical condition for years, his sister breathes her last.

Many years later, Gautam(Dileep) is a successful professional now and visits Kerala to meet the doctor who took care of his sister. During the visit, he also befriends Major George Joseph(Lal). Major George Joseph is a drunkard who was stripped off his stripes after a court martial. Major George Joseph was part of the commando operation that rescued Gautam. On his way to Bangalore, he and his fellow traveler Shreya(Charmi) misses the bus due to unforeseen circumstances. Gautam rents out a apartment from Shreya’s brother-in-law Sudhir Krishna(Biju Menon). This gives him a chance to be in touch with Shreya. Before long, Gautam proposes to Shreya.

Shreya is the daughter of Colonel Hareendranatha Verma(Sathyaraj), who was the commanding officer that led the rescue mission on that fateful night in Srinagar. The rest of the story tells us how all the seemingly disconnected events are tied together.

Kamal directs this thriller based on a weak script. The script and the treatment forms the weak link in this movie. There is no suspense and very few thrills. Moreover, the songs acts against this movie. For a thriller, he has chosen the wrong pace.

The good performances from the actors do not save the movie. Dileep has played this character with great restraint. Sathyaraj acts well. But, Kamal has failed in selecting a suitable voice for Sathyaraj. Sathyaraj’s voice is provided by the popular actor Saikumar. This confuses the audience. Lal is okay. Biju Menon is again wasted in an insignificant role. Innocent and Zarina Wahab are lost in the crowd.

The tagline says “Aagathan…One who came”. This is one who came for nothing!

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Thriller

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: http://www.aagathan.com

Tags: Movies,Dileep,Lal,Charmi,Biju Menon,Innocent,Zarina Wahab,Sathyaraj,Kamal,Thriller

Monday, March 8, 2010

Boys and Gifts

“When is your birthday?”, asked my daughter. She asked me a couple of days after my birthday was over. As the clock stuck 12, she had woken me up from deep sleep to wish me. But the young mind has not understood the concept of birthday fully yet. For her, the birthday is not a day long affair but a brief one which involves a group of people, a cake and subsequent merry making.

The sadist in me decided to induce guilt in her mind instead of correcting the concept of birthday. “Where is my gift?”, I asked. On hearing my question, her eyes moved around the room to avert locking my eyes while a sly smile played on her lips. “I brought you a gift on your birthday!”, I continued. “Where is mine?”. The final nail has been driven into the coffin!

Now, I waited for her to respond while trying hard to mask my smile. She replied immediately, “Boys buy gifts!”. Being a girl, she is off the hook! Where did she learn this?

Picture Courtesy: http://www.scooterstoys.com

Tags: Musings,Birthday,Gift

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Conversation with Vidya Balan

After being enchanted by Trisha’s beauty and performance in VTV, my friend walked into his apartment and had an interesting conversation with his roommate.

My Friend(MF): Damn it! Trisha was so sexy in the movie!

His Roommate(HR): *nods*

MF: I hate Simbu for kissing and hugging her so intimately.

HR: *suddenly interested*

MF: Why did she have to do it? I loved her in all her movies. And suddenly, she turns bold! I’m disappointed now!

HR: I can understand your predicament!

MF: *scoffs* Can you?

HR: Yes. Totally!

MF: *puzzled*

HR: I loved Vidya Balan the way you loved Trisha. And then I saw Ishqiya

MF: You mean Arshad Warsi’s & Vidya Balan’s Ishqiya?

HR: Yes, the very same!

MF: And?

HR: I couldn’t sleep that night!

MF: *sensing that he is onto something* Who can sleep after watching the onscreen fireworks?

HR: I dreamt that night!

MF: *definite that he is onto something* About Arshad and Vidya?

HR: No!

MF: *puzzled*

HR: *lost in thought and obviously revisiting the dream*

MF: *can’t contain himself no more* What happened?

HR: She apologized and told me why she had to do it. She needed the money badly and so, she took up that role! She said sorry.

All is well after an apology even if it was in a dream!

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Musings,Trisha,Vidya Balan,Arshad Warsi,Dream

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Hotdog Tale

A couple of days back, I walked into the local outlet of MarryBrown with my daughter. Being the Holi weekend, we were all in the holiday mood and there was minimal cooking at home. So, we opted for takeouts whenever we could.

I had narrowed down on Biriyani when I approached the Food court in Spencer Hypermart. But, my daughter wanted deep fried potatoes offered by MarryBrown which are cut in round shape and having a smiley etched on them.

But when we approached the counter, she added one more to the list of items. She pointed at the overhead display and demanded something. As I was not sure which burger she wanted, I decided to the use the very same trick these outlet chains employ to make the ordering process easier.

“Tell me the number”, I asked her. She concentrated on the overhead display and said, “4”. My heart swelled with pride as my offspring was able recognize numbers without assistance. My heart swelled more with pride as she had chosen a hotdog. My daughter is picking up my tastes!

When the order was ready, my daughter wanted to make sure she had received all the items she requested for. So, I opened the boxes and showed her “smileys” and the hotdog. She was happy with the “smileys”. But, she was convinced her hotdog was different. I was confused because how can someone go wrong with the hotdog?

Then, she showed me the overhead display. The display featured bright red tomato sauce sprayed on the hotdog in a zigzag manner. But on her hotdog, it was brown barbeque sauce. She did not get what she ordered for!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.jimdandysbbqgrill.com

Tags: Musings,Daughter,Hotdog,MarryBrown

Monday, March 1, 2010

Movie: Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa

Karthik(“Simbu” Silambarasan), a 22 year old engineering college dropout, dreams to become a movie director. Being jobless, he lives with his parents and leans on his dad, Sivakumar(Kitty), to meet his expenses. Through common friends, he gets acquainted with Ganesh(Ganesh) a cameraman who introduces him to the director K S Ravikumar(K S Ravikumar in a cameo). K S Ravikumar promises Karthik a chance as an assistant director in his next movie.

While waiting for the opportunity to materialize, Karthik meets Jessie(Trisha Krishnan) and falls in love with her at first sight. Jessie is the daughter of his landlord Joseph(Babu Anthony) and Karthik along with his family has moved into Joseph’s house on rent recently. As Karthik struggles to catch Jessie’s attention, his sister dissects the compatibility criteria for him.

Jessie is a Christian and Karthik is a Hindu.

Jessie love Mathematics while Karthik is an engineering dropout

Jessie is older to Karthik by one year!

Karthik is not disheartened. And so begins a love story that spans 3 years and 3 cities(Chennai, Alapuzha and New York).

Gautham Menon writes and directs this movie. He has concentrated on the two lead characters – Karthik and Jessie – and uses Karthik’s perspective to tell the story. He has chosen the right actors for these roles, extracted the best performances out of these actors and captured excellent chemistry between them. He also captures the various phases of love – innocence, longing, ego clashes and even lust – in such a way that the story and presentation is elevated to a level above that of an ordinary boy-meets-girl story. The story can be divided into three acts – the first comprising of meeting & wooing, the second act dealing with confusion & breakup and the final act is the conclusion. Gautham, as the writer, presents a fantastic first act, a repetitive and exhausting second act and a confusing last act. As a result, the audience leaves the movie hall confused with a bitter taste in the mouth when the credits start rolling. The final ten minutes is not something seen in an usual romantic movie and also makes the audience to revisit the movie in their minds.

A R Rahman’s music blends with the backdrop – be it Malta, Alapuzha, Chennai or New York. But the background music is loud at times. The electric guitar blazes loudly and distracts us from the wonderful performances of the lead pair.

Manoj Paramahamsa handles the camera. The camera here plays the role of voyeur. The perspectives quickly change from Karthik to a third party spying on the couple. The camera, characteristic to other movies directed by Gautam Menon, is always on the move hungry to absorb anything and everything that comes in the way of the lead actors. Even the close up shots are beautiful.

“Simbu” Silambarasan impresses as Karthik. His Karthik is very focused on Jessie but not obsessed. He urges her to look beyond the incompatibilities, to trust and to give him a chance. For the first time in his career, he doesn’t go overboard in his portrayals. He still display flashes of his brand of humor. But the emphasis is on the dialog and not on gimmicks.

Trisha Krishnan transforms into Jessie effectively. She is devoid of makeup and the colors of her costumes are subdued. Yet, she looks beautiful. Her Jessie changes with each act. From a silent, curious yet distant Jessie in the first act, she transforms into confused lover in the second act. Just when you think this is the final surprise, the third act brings more surprises. This is a difficult role. But Trisha handles this with ease.

“You are an awesome man”, says Jessie to Karthik. Karthik immediately responds back holding her hands and pushing her to a wall, “You are an awesome lady”. Wish I could say the same about the movie! Even with it’s flaws, watch this for the innocent romance in the first act, Simbu’s sober act, Trisha’s Jessie and Gautham Menon’s direction.

Language: Tamil

Genre: Romance

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia

Tags: Movies,Silambarasan,Simbu,Trisha Krishnan,Kitty,Babu Anthony,Gautham Menon,A R Rahman,Manoj Paramahamsa,Romance

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