Write & Watch

Salesh Dipak Fernando

Category: MOVIES (Page 2 of 17)

JAB HARRY MET SEJAL ?

Shah Rukh  – The Lover Boy who never grew up.

Dear Shah Rukh,

We grew up watching you. You made us all fall in love even though you were playing different variations of the same role – Raj.  The songs, the way you made the ladies go gaga over your lover boy image made us watch you in awe.  And then Mohan  Bhargava and Kabir Khan happened.  Our excitement knew no bounds. You were trying to steer clear of an established image.  For those who were waiting to see different dimensions of the actor in you those two roles were an absolute treat.

We thought you would eventually move away from the lover boy image completely to transform into a fine actor. But you cheated us. Those two movies which gave us hope were merely false notes as you went back to playing type. Even at that point, Surinder was absolutely adorable. But everything beyond that point became a mess you have created for yourself.

You are no longer an irresistible box office force that you were back then. Bhai’s taken over that mantle with ease.  The perfectionist is very choosy and has gone global with a remarkable sports film and a certain Mr Kumar seems to have studied the tricks of the trade very well to balance commercial entertainers with that one remarkable film every year. He has turned himself into a producer’s darling.

None of them were this relevant when you struck box office gold with one film after another. But you have made them relevant with your fall. You are no longer the charmer we used to adore. You have turned yourself into a star who is so full of himself, a star who doesn’t give a damn about the changing preferences of his fans.  You seem to be playing Aryan to perfection while the Gaurav in us is dying a slow death. You seem to be stuck in a hole of self – obsession you have dug for yourself. Let me remind you that your fans have all grown up.  It’s time you do too. We no longer want to see an overgrown man play the lover boy again.

With Pain,

An ardent fan.

WONDER WOMAN – MOVIE REVIEW

 

Wonder Woman : Ah! Here she is. Finally we have a super heroine who can give the men in the Super Hero World a run for their money. What a long wait it had been. But the good news is Wonder Woman is here to stay.

I have still not forgiven Marvel for the way it used Black Widow as a mere prop. But then you can’t blame Marvel their Universe is always jolly good fun and doesn’t stretch your imagination.

DC on the other hand consistently haunts you with the Why question. The dark, brooding nature of their world might even make you uncomfortable. These features were very much visible in other DC films too but sadly those films were marred by a shoddy narration. But in Wonder Woman it works admirably well as a whole. The captain of the ship Patty Jenkins hits the sweet spot as far as the Why’s are concerned.

The narration itself is divided into 3 parts – The Origin, the Amalgamation and the Revelation.

The origin takes us back to the roots – The fear of the mother who takes up the role of safeguarding her kid isn’t too far fetched. But how long will you safeguard the warrior princess from finding her actual purpose? You can’t hide from your destiny for too long. The origin focuses on the questions that haunt both the mother and the child.

The Amalgamation focuses on how wonder woman becomes one among the human beings without losing her actual identity. She sees the world like a new born kid. There is curiosity and innocence as she transforms into a warrior princess. Respect and Acceptance follows as she finds love in the unlikeliest of circumstances

The Revelation focuses on giving Wonder Woman the answers to the questions that haunted her in the beginning. It is here she finds out who she actually is and fulfills her purpose.

Each of the three phases is marked by some wonderful action set pieces.  I especially loved the sequences where she surprises both the audience and her co-actors by taking charge of proceedings. She goes full throttle without holding back to give us a breathtaking experience. And the background score that wonder woman’s surge is truly breathtaking.   

 The innocence that is sprinkled throughout the first half is heart-warming as Wonder Woman wears the mask of a curious kid until the action shifts to the war zone and it fits her very well. But once the action begins the narration is inconsistent but I can happily forgive the flaws for one reason – Gal Gadot.

Gal Gadot is a treat to sore eyes. Much like the film itself Gadot is inconsistent but her charming screen presence makes up for the flaws. Whenever the film threatens to fall flat Gadot’s irresistible aura gives the film the elevation it deserves. I couldn’t blink even for a single moment. Her eyes speak a different language. They hypnotize, mesmerize, haunt you and taunt you. Chris Pine too plays second fiddle with enthusiasm

Marvel doesn’t give you the space to question a character’s moral stand for there’s hardly any time for questions as you drown yourself in their world of escapism. But DC keeps it raw, real, gritty and dark and it’s a refreshing diversion atleast for me. The inconsistencies didn’t seem to matter at all.

I especially loved the closure which is filled with love and hope. As someone who is eternally in love with the emotion called love I found it enchanting. It is personal gratification of a different kind.

 Patty Jenkins doesn’t scream woman empowerment but throws subtle hints at what a truly empowered woman could do. The good news she’s already been signed on for the sequel.

  Go watch Wonder Woman on the big screen to cherish the Super Heroine we richly deserve.

 

WHAT IS TO BE DONE WITH SATHE ?

What is to be done with Sathe ? One of the very few times you walk into a theatre expecting a play and walk out of an explosive dream. It was very soothing to see to people go all out to hold the attention of the audience for the entire time frame.

The first thing that stood was the way the play was paced. A leisurely start to help us know understand the thought process of the two antagonists. The play grows on you as you get in touch with their everyday struggles and joys and when it reaches the finale the eruption that follows is enticing and irresistible.

Sathe is a haunting and beautiful exploration of the moral tussle within the human mind.  The invisible third eye haunts you, unsettles you and forces you to reflect. The dynamics change with each passing sequence as the questions pile up.  You are in a dilemma. Whose side do you take  ?  Salma or Abhay ?

Abhay and Salma could be you me or anyone we know?   Haven’t we all dug a hole of self – pity for ourselves and fallen into it.  And we blame every Tom, Dick and Harry for the failure when the answers lie within us.  The redemption that we seek lies in how we choose to answer the questions that haunt us.

It felt good to see two actors bring the stage alive after all these years. What was the name of the actors again ? Oh I don’t know and I don’t want to know. To me they will always be Salma and Abhay.

 

 

SAKHAVU

Malayalam cinema stuns once again. Siddhartha Shiva decides to scratch the surface of an ideology and does it admirably well aided by star whose irresistible charm helps in decoding a compelling message. Right from frame one the intent of the maker screams through the big screen. He goes all out leaving no stone unturned in making sure that his ideology makes an impression on all those who were watching it on the big screen.

The Name:

When the film starts off both Krishnan and Krishna Kumar are two different and distinct personalities. But there comes a point when the two personalities merge to become one and the same but as an audience you don’t find it difficult to connect and root for a remarkable transition. The name is the first subtle hint on Krishna Kumar’s metamorphosis.

The Mirror:

As an audience you are never allowed to have a glimpse of Sakhavu Krishnan’s physical appearance. Instead Siddhartha Siva uses the mirror to give us an insight on Krishna Kumar’s thought process as he visualizes himself as Sakhavu Krishnan. This visualization is of utmost importance for you to empathize with Krishna Kumar beyond his supposed flaws.  You see Sakhavu Krishnan through Krishna Kumar’s eyes from the beginning to the end.  That is exactly how we imbibe our favorite person’s personality traits within us.  

The Time:

More often than not stories that remain compelling on paper turn out to be shoddy final products on the big screen because we are never given time to identify and connect with a character. But Siddhartha Siva takes his time with carefully etched sequences to help us understand who Krishna Kumar is.  Slowly but surely you identify yourselves with Krishna Kumar’s beliefs and perceptions. Beyond a point it doesn’t matter how shallow his beliefs are. You wait in anticipation as the character grows on you.  

The Aura:

Sakhavu is an interesting lesson on how to use an actor’s charm and aura to hit the nail on the head in one sequence after another.  The director makes use Nivin Pauly’s inherent strengths as an actor to make sure the message leaves a permanent impression in the minds of his audience and Nivin Pauly’s aides the maker with subtle variations in body language to convey a shift in perception and the ideological differences between the two main leads.

Malayalam cinema once again gives us a lesson on how to fit a star in a compelling narrative. I wonder when the other industries will follow suit.  For now I can only hope.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY THALA

There was a time in my life when I used to adore Ajith as an actor. An early filmography consisting of Vaalee, Kadhal Kottai, Amarkalam, Asai, Kandukondein Kandukondein, Mugavari and the 17 consecutive flops in between. I add the 17 flops because it is not an easy task to hold on to your space in the industry after 17 consecutive flops. 

Here was an actor who could underplay or go all out depending on the creator’s demand. Agreed they were merely impressions of the captain of the ship. But those picture perfect imitations made him almost a perfect understudy to his captain.


I go back to the day Dheena happened. Dheena was both a boon and a curse. A new fondness and connection was formed where his fans fondly referred to him as thala which became a tiring reference point in one film after another. It was a boon for the producers for it showed them they could mint money by making him walk on screen but that is where we lost Ajith the actor. Ajith the star was born.

There is no possible explanation for the way his fans adore him. His fans go wild even when he walks with an expressionless face and a salt and pepper hair which makes him look like an uncle to his pair. But we are willing to let go of all that just for a few good moments that could make us root for that magnetic screen presence and delightful smile.

I still don’t understand how it’s possible but that’s thala for u. It is difficult to decode this sort of blind adoration which shatters all his inherent flaws as an actor so you surrender to that guilty pleasure of clapping for him during those rare moments where he is a riot on screen. I miss the actor and I wish someone re-discovers the dormant actor someday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY THALA

BAHUBALI – THE CONCLUSION MOVIE REVIEW

It is easy to get carried away by Rajamouli’s supposed grand spectacle. I am tempted to dismiss the entire film as trash but something stops me.

Right from Vikramarkudu/ Siruthai/ Rowdy Rathore he has consistently decoded the commercial template with absolute conviction. Considering the fact that Telugu Cinema gets away with any form of big screen escapism Rajamouli’s efforts to mount the same formula film on a grand scale is commendable. He has raised the stakes higher and higher with each of his films. Bahubali the conclusion is gloriously commercial and plausible.

The clue to the success of the Bahubali Franchise lies in the obvious question which has plagued Bahubali Fans for the last two years. Why did Kattapa Kill Bahubali ? The actual answer doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that the onus was placed on Kattapa to make the audience anticipate the possible outcomes and not on the principal character Bahubali.

If the first part was all about Sivagami and Kattapa. Devasena takes over the second part and makes it her own from the moment her eyes show up on screen. All the crucial plot twists of the second part are a by product of Devasena’s firmness and courage. It is here that Rajamouli wins us over by giving Devasena, Kattapa and Sivagami the space they deserve. It is the supporting characters who give the film the much needed push.

Keeravani’s tunes are a delight especially the duet number. But I couldn’t convince myself to keep watching beyond a flashback which lasted for 1 and half films. It was almost like snapping out of a good dream. The finale was an unnecessary stretch.

It is not the best Indian film in terms of making or grandeur but it can be a starting point for film makers to convince themselves that they can translate stories which need to be told into a grand vision which can be a delightful masterpiece.

Despite the flaws for now this film deserves a trip to the theatres to witness those grand sets which bring the kingdom alive. But I sincerely doubt if this one will stand the test of time.

 

PA PAANDI

POWER PANDI

Thank you for the photograph my love. You have just helped me re-discover my lost treasure. No I am not talking about nostalgic memories of the past; I am talking about a future which has US in it.  You might consider it a re-start but for me our story has just started.  A forgotten full stop transforms into a coma. Maybe that’s how it was meant to be from the very beginning.

The soul remains the same, the soul which has started yearning for you after all these years. I love this sweet little surprise by destiny. Let’s hold on to each other till time bids farewell. Let’s look beyond the grey hairs and embrace love. It’s our only shot at a spectacular rejuvenation. Don’t crowd your mind with too many questions. Let’s walk together and I am sure life will always have an answer for our endless questions.

I surrender to the singular emotion which governs all of us at different points in our life. I always thought love had cheated us with a promise. But love had just taken a break until we found each other again. Let’s forget the grey hairs for the rest of our journey. I want you by side listening to my endless musings. Don’t worry about the loved ones around us. They will definitely embrace our story and pass it on to the future generations.

Our love story was never meant to be ordinary. We were too young to realize it back then. Let’s re-write the story and embrace the young spirit within us until it becomes a celebration for all the people around us.

Come to me my love. Let’s become young again.

POONTHENDRAL.

Thank you for the letter!.  Fret not for I am always here.  Nothing has changed except the grey hairs. The sheer joy of re-filling my soul with love is priceless. It feels good to see my hopeless lover yet again. I merely smile at the lovely addition to your name “POWER PANDI”.  I guess destiny was tired of making you fight the odds all the time.  It’s time to surrender to love.

I guess time knew we weren’t ready to embrace each other when we were young. Life has gifted us an alternate ending which will be rewarding and fulfilling for both us. Don’t fret about being selfish for you are never too old to live for yourself. 

We all deserve our second chance at redemption. Don’t run away again for I am here waiting for your firm grip to hold on to me for eternity. Let the young ones fly towards their own destination as we re-discover our younger versions yet again.

Cupid has handed both of us a different role, a role which might pave the way for a wonderful permanent impression.  Our love story was meant to reverberate across generations. I love you. I always have and I always will.

Fret not for I am always here.  Fret not for time will freeze to complete our story.                                                                                         

KAATRU VELIYIDAI – THE ABUSE

Mani Ratnam – The genius, the guru and so on. I too agree he is one of the finest filmmakers of the country.  There was a time in my life when I adored him.

Irrespective of my own opinions on his inconsistent ideologies I always view a film in isolation to understand if the matches with my sensibilities as an audience.  Sadly Kaatru Veliyidai didn’t. It seemed more like a bland excuse of a film to cater to a certain section of the audience. I found the film flawed and put forth my opinion on the same. But the abuse I faced after that was unexpected.

Do you know who Mani Ratnam is?  What right do u have to criticize his film? So many questions and all I can do is laugh it off. As someone who is passionate about films I guess and if the film doesn’t connect with me I am within my rights to say it.

We all have our own opinions with regards to a creator and his creation. But since when did the creator become infallible. I can say Amen to a difference of opinion but social media fights and abuses for opinions on a film is a strict NO. And once a creator’s work is out for public consumption there is bound to be a criticism of the same. Outright bashing of those who are not in sync with your point of view is not right.

You are more than welcome to put your Mani Sir on the pedestal but I am within my rights to say he is no longer my kind of film maker. Thank you

BASHEER

I have always considered Mani Ratnam to be a safe filmmaker who knew how to present his craft well. Of course, when it comes to love he had very few parallels in the industry. The depth that he gives to that beautiful emotion makes us overlook all the flaws.

But if u ask me one character or sequence that makes me go wow it is Basheer from Bombay. He hides the entire crux of the film in that beautiful exchange between Basheer and Narayanan Pillal.

The switching of faith between Nasser and Kitu was the bread crumb needed to decode the essence of the whole plot.  Narayanan asks “What did you tell them Basheer” with fear gripping his whole being.

 It is the tone of Basheer’s answer that fascinates me even today a tone of re-assurance to dismiss the chaos that surrounds them. “I told them you are my brother”.

That answer and the way ARR lends depth to the whole proceedings are surreal. It breaks down all the layers of religious fanatism and empathizes on tolerance, brotherhood and love.  That sequence and that character sketch of Basheer stands tall even today.

 

AMMAVASAI

Ammaidhipadai – A film which is relevant even in today’s political scenario. For a change you end up rooting for the antagonist and his sidekick while the protagonist is a staunch reminder of the cliche do-gooder. But Manivannan is a clever film maker he let’s Ammavasai hog the limelight until the final act. It’s a bold ploy which works wonderfully well.

The sheer audacity of conceiving and sketching a character like Ammavasai is a timeless example of thinking outside the box. Ammavasai is a pauper but his rag to riches story is very different. He’s a pauper who doesn’t give a damn about the poverty that surrounds. His dreams are sky high and he is so sure of achieving them in whatever means possible.

The transformation scene stands out. The two stars join hands to touch the highest peak of political satire and the positions are reversed in the blink of an eye. Ammavasai meek frame paves the way for Nagaraja Chozan’s casual arrogance even as the shell shocked mentor sees power change hands rather casually and surrenders to the new role that fate bestows on him.

I don’t think Tamil Cinema will ever a political satire of this quality again. Some might argue that joker is of the same quality but I beg to differ. The arrogance that is sprinkled over Ammavasai’s personality will never be seen again.

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