Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Traffic (2011)

I saw a program on Kairali channel when this movie was in the production stage and was surprised to know that this movie's producer is only 23 years old. He looks like a +2 student and back then i thought he was making the biggest or expensive mistake of his life.I was wrong.

Traffic is surprising. Mainly because the script is good beyond belief. It is not completely faultless but it has it's share of glorious moments. Non linear narrative, intersecting story lines, characters from one story dropping in another, these are all new to Malayalam cinema and that's exactly everyone's talking about.Apparently, the movie is inspired from true events that took place in namma Chennai and i'm surprised that no one there thought of adapting it to the big screen.

Movie begins with director Renjith's monologue about fate and how our lives cross every day with total strangers...blah blah blah...his baritone voice is so good that every movie has it (Best Actor too).What pissed me off is the timers shown on screen which was confusing. Though unnecessary the makers spent too much time setting up the premise to raise the tempo. So they cut back and cut forth to make chaos and confusion which is always good in keeping the interest level up as the audience is eager to know what the hell is going on. Somehow to keep up it's frantic pace the movie falls short in emotional impact as if the characters are somehow not that much moved or cracked up by these unprecedented events. None of them are given any appropriate screen time to deliver the emotional leverage and somehow everything is about the heart that has to reach on time. So many possibilities in a multi narrative and none is explored. But the screenwriters were smart to incorporate some twists just when we thought the movie was about to get stale when it reached the interval.But it's pretty much needed and any smart viewer would see it coming because they have to have something in store for the second half right?

They have an ensemble cast comprising of young actors like Vineeth, Asif,Remya etc and seasoned actors like Sreenivasan, Rahman and Kunchacko. The Dynamics is pretty good but some characters were just part of the mis en scene and had nothing much to do. For example Kaadhal Sandhya's character is in half boiled love with Vineeth's character so the makers doesn't get her too much into the plot and doesn't keep her out either.Her character is in a kind of limbo which wasn't needed. Rahman and Lena's performance are praise worthy as they deliver some quality performances. Sreenivasan is kind of half baked and he doesn't have much lines either. All he has to do is to look helpless, surprised and shocked. Kunchacko proves once again that he ain't all that sweet.Vineeth still needs to work on his acting skill but his performance strikes gold especially after the accident. Asif Ali has huge potential in him. He really shines in his character with sheer enthusiasm and energy. Even though he's kinda sidekick his performance magnifies his character's impact on the audience. Remya looks hot in her pivotal role.

Mejo Joseph's background score has it's own heart that beats with the rhythm of the movie. I'm haunted by the piano theme loop which is sad and sweet. Debutant Shyju Khalid,a protege of "Big B" fame Sameer Thahir, is quite impressive. One scene that is still fresh in my mind is with Sandhya ,Vineeth and Asif at the beach with it's sunburn look, displays his skill with the camera.
The Writers Bobby and Sanjay are growing to be a name to be reckoned with in Malayalam Cinema. They made an impressive debut with "Ente Veedu, Appunteyum" following it up with the Rosshan Andrrews flick "Notebook". What really keeps them apart is their diverse topics and tumultuous storylines that grips and moves you. Heard that they are teaming up once again with Rosshan Andrrews for "Mumbai Police" with Prithviraj in the lead. I bet all the prominent directors is going to run behind these two men for their scripts which i hear is already happening.

Rajesh R Pillai's, the director, debut was a disaster starring Kunchacko and Bhavana. I haven't seen the movie but after reading the synopsis i pretty much know why it flopped. If you know exactly why it flopped, then you have seen "Hridayathil Sookshikkan". To Be Honest, i think his directing was mediocre with such a superb script to back him up. What he did is to just shoot them and edit them up. There is no visual language for the film nor style. It's just plainly did and could have been a thousand times better. I'm forced to imagine how good this movie would have come out if it went into the hands of Rosshan Andrewss or Anwar Rasheed but being his second movie, i'm also compelled to say he has a future in the industry but has a long way to go. You don't get a good script like this to support you all the time and only fresh imagination and visions keep you alive in a highly hostile malayalam movie scene.

Overall, this movie is a sure winner. Producer kiddo Listen Stephen will be able to pay back all his dues in time and still make a profit. The force is with this one.
My Rating:3/5

Friday, January 7, 2011

Best Actor (2010)

Have you ever noticed the front cover of magazines like Vanitha and Grihalakshmi. Really beautiful women in nice clothes spotting a fake smile aided by pearl white teethes. Noticed how the entire pic relies heavily on lighting and color that glows radiantly. Well the director of the movie Mr. Martin Prakkat is one of those photographic talents who makes his big screen debut with "Best Actor" and it clearly reflects his roots in still photography as every frame is filled with vibrant colors and scenic locations accentuated by crafty camera work.
As the movie began to unfold in the silver screen, what kept my interest level up is the fact that the movie doesn't indulge in anything beyond what is required to state the obvious. Everything has a flow, a maintained pace, which is clearly a conscious effort made more clear by the fact that most of the songs has been cut short to the best parts and is not played out full. Now that's a smart move. Because i was really worried that if the movie was boring, the songs which does'nt have anything to do with carrying the plot forward would only test my patience. The Screenplay does not drop the dramatic element and comes up with smart,sensible twists and turns to turn up the conflict at the right spots. If it hadn't,the movie would have sulked in it's own mess.
The First half is well done.The second half is more of an exercise to get the movie to it's desired ending. Some embellishments do ruin the fun but you forgive the makers coz it's far better than the shit we have to put up with these days that comes under the label of Malayalam Cinema. I'm not going to elaborate on any of the plot elements coz I honestly believe this movie deserves your hard earned money if you decide to spent it on quality entertainment. The story is sweet, simple and satisfying and if i let anything out , ah that would be a bummer. The Double Climax marketing strategy is kind of an anticlimax strategy because some precious minutes at the climax is put to waste as we already know the know...that he doe....ah i'm not in the mood.Music by Biji Bal is OK and only one song remained with me and that one has been getting some heavy play in channels and radio. Cinematography, well i would say the camera is a winner and i honestly believe some heavy post prod work had been done on the color scheme. I know i'm repeating the same thing over but go see for yourself, it's extraordinarily bright and vivid.
The Performance by Mammootty is just plain superb. He proves once again he is the eponymous protagonist. First of all, the role is tailor made for him. He doesn't slack out on any of the characters requirement that would make him simple, humble and ordinary that secures the audience sentiments. There ain't much scenes in the movie without him as it revolves around him and a power lacking performance would have drained it off it's emotional effect. After all the transformations his character undergoes over the course of the movie, it relies heavily upon his intense performance. The Supporting act by Lal, Nedumudi Venu, Salim Kumar and Vinayakan is quite fitting but tends to overflow with some double meaning dialogues and antics. And also the hairy assistant director dude who gives Mammootty the "Oberoi Idea" is really good even though his character has only peanuts screen time, still deserves my honorable mention. They all make up for some funny times and emotional turbulence too. Lal, stands out for his charged up act, the guy is kinda being stereotyped in charged up roles, reminds me of "Thenkasipattanam" when i see him in this one. Still he is funny, in a serious way.
If you look back at the movies that came out in Malayalam Cinema in 2010, only one or two stands out of the 100+ movies that released. We are still in Dire Straits but movies like these do give us hope in the direction of better times.