Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prithviraj, Arya and Deepa Dev at Urumi - Padhinaintham Nootrandu Uraivaal Movie Press Meet

Kalaipuli S Thanu & Santosh Sivan at Urumi - Padhinaintham Nootrandu Uraivaal Movie Press Meet

Vijay Watches Urumi - Padhinaintham Nootrandu Uraivaal

Urumi - Padhinaintham Nootrandu Uraivaal Trailers

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Urumi - Power Of A Period

Making a historical film needs enough preparations and solid research. For Santosh Sivan, an acclaimed cinematographer-cum-director, it seems to have come quite easily. His 'Urumi' chronicles Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama's visit to India and the revenge of a youth who was hell-bent against the sailor for allegedly killing his father.

Though the movie is set in 14th century, the message it throws fits the contemporary audience. The love for motherland, respect towards relationship, aforestation and promote greenery et al is highlighted.

Santosh Sivan has utilized the opportunity to pack some powerful messages in the film. Though the movie was originally made in Malayalam and is all about warriors in Kerala, the Tamil version doesn't sound much alien for some fiery dialogues by writer Sasikumar. Also the star cast is familiar to Tamil audience.

Prithviraj plays the lead role while Prabhudeva, Genelia, Nithya Menon, Arya, Tabu and Vidya Balan among others chip in with their best.

What begins in a confounding manner slowly settles down to a revenge drama. Kelu Rayanar (Prithviraj) is confident of settling scores with Vasco Da Gama for killing his father Sedurayyan (Arya). He is supported in his endeavors by his close buddy Vavvali (Prabhudeva).

They come across Aracckal Ayesha (Genelia), a valorous woman who fights the foreigners. The trio set out for a war with the Portuguese.

Prithviraj is impressive as Kelu Rayannar. He gives one of his best performances till date. It's no regular chirpy innocent Genelia here. She plays a bold woman who indulges in war, breaks the back of her enemies in war front.

Nithya Menon as Chirakkal Bala who falls for Prabhudeva's innocence plays her part well. Arya's cameo sets the momentum in the movie. Vidya Balan and Tabu appear and disappear in split seconds.

But cheers to Prabhudeva. The actor provides loads of humor and is a treat to watch on screen. Music by Deepak Dev compliments the theme. 'Urumi' is entertaining and educative too. Santosh Sivan deserves acclaim for his sincere attempt.


Urumi (Tamil) Review by TOI

Critic's Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Prithviraj, Prabhu Deva, Genelia D'Souza, Arya, Amol Gupte, Nithya Menon, Vidya Balan
Direction: Santhosh Sivan
Genre: Drama
Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes

Story: Kelu Rayanar (Prithviraj) wants to avenge the killing of his father Sedirayan (Arya) at the hands of Vasco da Gama. In his quest, he gets support from his friend Vavvali (Prabhu Deva). When the fight becomes a struggle against the invading Portuguese, the story takes epic proportions.

Review: Winston Churchill said, "History is written by the victors". Vavvali says the same, about how their names will get buried in history. This is the simple story that Santhosh Sivan spins into a magnum opus in 'Urumi'.

The story and the screenplay (Shankar Ramakrishnan) have all the elements needed for an epic - action and magical images, all rooted in history. The glorious visuals, captured by Santhosh Sivan himself, make this movie a treat to watch.

Set in 1500 AD when the Portuguese reached the southern shores of present day India, 'Urumi' captures one of the earliest fights for freedom in the pre-British era, at a time when the subcontinent first saw canons and pistols.

Dubbed from Malayalam, 'Urumi' has one of the finest screenplays in recent times when it comes to historical drama. Shorter than the earlier version by 30 minutes, the Tamil version works well, thanks to the dialogues by Sasikumar. They are in the Tamil of yore, but at no point will you find them difficult to understand.

'Urumi' has a fabulous cast and Santhosh brings out the best in them. Prabhu Deva comes out on top, particularly because of his comic timing. His best scenes are when he romances the wide-eyed and quirky Chirakkal Bala (Nithya Menon). Genelia breaks the stereotype of the bubbly and chirpy character she is usually saddled with and shines as the angry and violent Arackal Ayesha. Prithviraj does a good job as Kelu Rayanar, his muscular physique and dialogue delivery helping him make the character convincing. Arya and Nithya Menon are also okay, though their roles are rather small. But Vidya Balan gets a raw deal with little to do, and her role as an oracle fails to impress.

Music by Deepak Dev comes out best in 'Yaaro nee yaaro' and the theme song.

Tip-off: A stylistic movie with arresting visuals.


Monday, May 28, 2012

User Review - Urumi - A benchmark for dubbed movies!

More than a year after Urumi released in Malayalam, the film has finally released in Tamil. However, it is nothing short of its original counterpart and despite being dubbed, it has all the qualities of a great movie. I can go a step further and say that this is probably the best dubbed film I have seen. Credit goes to the entire team that has made this possible.

Urumi is directed by Santhosh Sivan, who is know more in the Tamil film industry as a cinematographer, thanks to his work in several movies including Roja, Iruvar and Raavanan. His style in direction is reminiscent of Asoka, the 2001 Shah Rukh Khan starrer, which didn't do very well. Ten years later, taking up a period film again, Santhosh Sivan has shown how much he has grown as a director. For starters, portraying a film like Urumi and its periodical elements are a daunting task in itself. To be cinematographing, partly-producing and directing the movie at the same time represents a job that cannot be put into words. We salute you for your efforts!

If you had seen the posters, you would know that this film includes a lot of big actors. Prithviraj (who is also producing this time), Prabhu Deva, Genelia, Nithya Menon, Amole Gupte (writer of Taare Zameen Par and Stanley Ka Dabba), Vidya Balan, Jagathy Sreekumar (who has acted in more than 1000 Malayalam movies) are part of a long prominent. In addition, Arya and Tabu also do guest roles in this one. All of the characters played by these roles add weight to the film and with Santhosh Sivan directing them, they have possibly done one of the best portrayals ever, despite how long they take the screen.

The lead actors are Prithviraj, Prabhu Deva, Genelia and Nithya Menon and they are the ones who take up considerably more screen time. I was surprised to see that they were not the ones who had done the dubbing. Their performance deserves credit. Action sequences, adjusting to costumes and some very good reactions shown during dialogues give the movie a very natural look. However, a little more effort and time in dubbing would have gone a long way. This would definitely be a shortcoming.

The highlight of the movie and perhaps the most important factor in enticing the audience and reducing the dubbing-factor would be the dialogues by Sasikumaran. Dialogue translation is difficult on its own, but translating a Malayalam period movie and yet managing to keep the very essence of it and also matching them with the original lip movements, WOW! If you ought to give credit to one man for how good this movie is, or how it has been managed to be released, you must look at Sasikumaran.

The next specific credit goes to Deepak Dev, the music director. I could notice several genres in the music and was very delighted to learn that there was no electronic music used. Others may complain, but I credit him for capturing and delivering tunes to the director that have made a whole lot of difference.

To get into more technical stuff, Santhosh Sivan's cinematography is brilliant, which is not surprising. Slow-motion action sequences close up shots of actors; capturing emotions during dialogue delivery and using unique angles in the music videos are all attributes to his work. It makes me wonder if he becomes a better cinematographer if he takes the director's seat. Sreekar Prasad's editing makes the movie intriguing and gripping throughout the 160 minutes despite some annoying scenes which seem to be dragging. Costumes are admirable, but are far from the best we have seen in modern-day cinema. The budget of the film being Rs.23 crores is also a surprise.

Despite having a complete package, there are quite a few shortcomings. Some of the voices do not match the faces of characters correctly and I could find many inconsistencies in the way the scenes got more importance on some occasions and not so much on others. The storyline makes you think a lot, but also makes you wonder if there is too much fantasy involved.

However, the good points trump the bad ones very easily and I promise you will have a great time if you see it in the theatre. Do not write this one off because it's a dubbed movie, or don't just simply get the Malayalam version and see it home. The big screen adds a lot of things to your experience, even more than the traditional movies. Compare it with Asoka, and you will be able to see the minute differences that make Urumi a whole lot better.

Rating - 4/5 for giving fans a very unique and historical experience.

Verdict - Urumi is a winner and all audiences will enjoy it, especially when they are watching it for the first time.


Movie Review : Urumi - Padhinaintham Nootrandu Uraivaal

Cast: Prithviraj, Prabhudeva, Genelia, Arya, Jagathy, Nithya Menon, Vidya Balan, Tabu and others
Script: Shankar Ramakrishnan
Music: Deepak Dev
Director: Santosh Sivan

After enthralling audiences with his work behind the camera in many films, ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan gets in front of it for Urumi. Directing a fiction based on historical incidents is always a tough ask and to his credit, it ought to be recorded that Sivan has done a marvelous job. As you’d expect, his film is a visual treat besides sending a strong social message across.

Let’s now get to the script. Poor Krishna Das (Prithviraj) runs a music troupe in Goa along with his friend (Prabhudeva). They get an unexpected offer from a group of foreigners wherein a large sum is offered to them in return of Das’ ancestral property in Kerala leased out to an NGO by his late mother. As the place was rich in minerals, the MNC represented by the foreigners is intent in grabbing the land.

Unaware of this, Das is delighted to lay his hands on that much money. Problem arises when the other person who has to counter-sign the sale deed happens to be mentally challenged (Genelia in a never-before seen role). Das also has the tough task of vacating the tribals who have been living in his place for many years. The organizer at the NGO (Vidya Balan) explains to him the evils of mining in the area at the cost of civilians.

Arya, the tribal leader, tries his best to remind Das of his rich heritage and the way his ancestors had fought to protect the land and its culture from the foreign aggressors. The narration by Arya takes the viewers in the flashback mode where the story of the 15th century martial arts expert Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar (Prithviraj again) unfolds.

Das gets to know how they fought vigorously to eliminate Vasco da Gama and free his land of foreign occupation with the help of childhood Islamic friend Vavvali (Prabhudeva). Genelia appears as the warrior princess here and opposes the invaders valiantly. Watch the film to find out whether they managed to eliminate Gama and his ruthless son with their swords as against the pistols used by their enemies.

It’s neither a historical film nor a contemporary one and is caught in-between, inspired by some notable Hollywood movies of this genre. However, Sivan’s research shows in his watertight screenplay. The various diversities which held our country together on the basis of our culture and heritage is shown effectively and without exaggeration.

Dialogues are sharp though they appear ‘too much’ at some places. The story surrounding the two princesses in Genelia and Nithya is very likeable. Yet, we have a feeling as if we know the story and the sequences well in advance. This kills the curiosity element, a much-needed trait for a film to have a successful run. Santosh shines throughout the film and has been well-aided by stunt choreographer ‘Anal’ Arasu and music Deepak Dev who impresses with his background score but falters with the songs.

The ever-committed Prithviraj does justice to his role, has a good physique and looks every inch like a warrior. Prabhu Deva acts with ease and is a revelation in action sequences. Genelia D'Souza, as the warrior princess Aysha, breathes fire and has put in tremendous effort to justify her casting in the film. Nithya Menon does well in emotional scenes.

Vidya Balan looks awesome but she gets shoddy character and is unable to make notable impression in the minds of the viewers. The national award-winning actress’ much-touted ‘item number’ falls flat; so does Tabu’s appearance in a song.

All in all, the film ought to be viewed and appreciated by the audiences for the sheer hard-work put in by the cast and crew.

Urumi passes the test albeit without cent percent marks!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Prithviraj to play a doctor

Lal Jose, who is still basking in the success of Diamond Necklace, is all set to start his next project. This yet-to-be-titled project will see Prithviraj essaying the role of a doctor.

"The movie is about a young doctor, who takes his job too lightly. Later, he realises how he has been irresponsible to his profession and comes around," says the director.

Rima Kallingal, Remya Nambeesan and Samvritha Sunil will also be part of the cast. The hunt is still on for an elderly character who acts as Prithviraj's mentor.


Shanghai honour for Aakashathinte Niram

Director Dr. Biju and actor Indrajith, along with their producer, are heading to Shanghai this June to represent Mollywood at the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival. Their abstract film, Aakashathinte Niram (Colour of the sky), has been chosen among over 2,000 odd film entries as the final few to compete for the Golden Goblet Award.

"This is the first Malayalam film to have soared up to such a great height, so it is an honour for us to be able to represent the industry as well," says Indrajith. Of the film, he explains, "Even though the film stars big names like Nedumudi Venu, Prithviraj and Amala Paul, it is not what one would call a commercial venture. It's a story about four people on an island. The entire film was shot at the Andamans over a 30-day schedule."

The actor considers his role as a thief in this film to be one among the challenging characters he has played so far. "There are some characters that require you to be loud and in-your-face; while there are others that are more subtle. This film does not have as many dialogues as you would find in others. It's more about emoting with expressions and your eyes. It is definitely a challenge to be able to say so much without saying anything at all. Though, at the end of the day, it is an entertaining film that also provides food for thought," explains Indrajith.

The film will see a world premiere at the international festival.


The ‘Hero'

In the last decade or so, Prithviraj has done around 70 films, mainly in Malayalam and also a few in Tamil, with almost every prominent director in the business. He has now completed shooting for his maiden Bollywood film and is all set to do another one, which he says, enigmatically, is a magnum opus but refuses to elaborate on the project.

At 30, he has gone through success and setback, sycophancy and slander in equal measures. However, he has also learnt to take it all in his stride. An interviewer's delight, the star never shies away from any queries; Prithviraj has an opinion on anything related to his career and cinema. In this interview, he talks about his films and dreams, as his latest film ‘Hero' hit the screen. Excerpts:

Your ‘Puthiya Mugham', which was directed by Diphan, was a huge hit. The two of you come together again in ‘Hero'. What makes this movie special?

‘Hero' is a mass entertainer and we are not claiming it to be anything beyond that. But it speaks about a space within cinema, which has not been discussed extensively before. Although there have been several films dealing with the cinema within cinema pattern, it is for the first time that the focus is on the men who enact thrilling action sequences. In fact, it is a non-glamorous area that we are getting into and I am playing a stunt artiste. As is common in movies, we go to exotic locales in Europe to shoot songs but the action sequences are always shot inside a godown or a factory. What is worse than that is that regardless of the efforts the stunt artistes put in, we don't remember the name of even a single stunt artiste who might have lost his life while playing a ‘dupe' for the hero. ‘Hero' has a fresh look on this subject and outstanding action.

Do you think stars have become less important now from the days when you started your career?

I have always maintained that actors need to be less important in the industry and that projects are not to be constructed around actors. The ‘satellite rights' (paid by TV channels to procure the rights to air movies), which remains the biggest revenue generation area in the industry, are often decided without considering what the story of the film is and or the strength of the script. All they want to know is the cast of the movie, who is directing it, how many action sequences have been included, and how many songs are there. If films are backed because of their content, then we would have taken a bold step. At this point of time, we are in the right direction but we still have a long way to go. It feels good to know that films without big stars are being accepted. I have always maintained that that it is the way it should be.

On a personal note, I have never been an actor who is bothered about my star status. If it were so, then I wouldn't have done films such as ‘Manjadikkuru', ‘Achanurangatha Veedu', ‘Thalappavu' and ‘Akale' and said yes to play a villain in the forthcoming film ‘Arival Chuttika Nakshathram'. If films based on my image as an actor are being made, it does not mean they have been made as per my design. I have never designed or planned a film to cater to my so-called ‘star status'.

How do you plan to fit in to the ‘new generation wave', which is now seen in Malayalam cinema? film a fresh believed to be happening now?

If you mean the good cinema that is being made now, then yes, we have quite a lot of them coming up. I am definitely part of such experiments and I think ‘Indian Rupee' was in such a mould.

Do you think there has been a difference in the tastes of audiences as well?

There has been a natural evolution in the way stories are being told. I don't know if a ‘22 Female Kottayam' would have been lauded so much 10 years ago. The fact that people are coming to theatres to watch these kind of films and that they understand, relate, and comprehend such kind of cinema is amazing.

How was the experience shooting for your first Hindi film, ‘Aiyaa'?

It gives you a lot of confidence when a filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap, who is producing it, appreciates your work and wants you to be part of his project. It was an eye-opener to realise that people in other-language cinema are watching our industry as well. Also, it is a great feeling to be 75 films old and then make a debut in another language.

You have achieved so much at a really young age. What goals have you set for yourself to achieve from now on?

Frankly, I have never worked towards a goal. It has always been a journey to be a part of good cinema and, more importantly, to do whatever projects you take up, with conviction. I may have done good films and bad films, but every single film had 100 per cent of my effort.

How serious are you as a producer?

I am only serious to the point that if there is an idea of a film that I love and that can be made by me, I would like to produce it. Of course, I am not looking forward to launch a company where I will have a release every Friday.

You have been the butt of jokes and targeted by some hate-campaigns! by certain groups, sometime back. Are you relieved that it seems to be over?

I really don't bother. The so-called hate campaign has prompted me to work harder. So, all those people who hate me can continue hating me.

What next?

Currently I am wrapping up Shaji Kailas' ‘Simhasanam'. Then there are two films, both scripted by Bobby-Sanjay, directed by Lal Jose and Rosshan Andrrews. I am playing the role of the legendary J.C. Daniel in director Kamal's film and then there is the Bollywood film that will be announced shortly.


Murali remembered in Manjadikuru

Anjali Menon's Manjadikuru, which released recently, is unique in more ways than one. The work for the film started several years back but the release was delayed owing to certain issues.

Thus the film has the late actor Murali doing a small but significant role, as the brother who leaves home. "" Yes, I'm aware that things have changed since the film was shot. I feel lucky that my film has Murali in it,"" says Anjali.

Murali passed away in 2009, making Manjadikuru one of the last movies he worked in.
Manjadikuru also has Jagathy, who is now bedridden following a major accident in March 2012. The film is also one which was shot before the ban was placed on actor Thilakan. The actor plays the role of the grandfather on whose death the family is forced to rediscover each other.


Review: Manjadikuru is enchanting

Paresch C Palicha says Manjadikuru is a film supported by some good performances by the members of an ensemble cast.

There is a charm in seeing the life of adults through a child's eyes, where masks and pretensions crumble and the stark truth is revealed.

Director Anjali Menon tries something like that in her film Manjadikuru. It is easy to categorise this as a story of nostalgia or the loss of the verdant world of childhood. But it is a social and political story too, dwelling on issues we have been grappling with like the breaking down of the joint family system or the disenchantment with revolutionary politics.

The central event is the breaking up of a Tharavadu named Kausthubham after the death of the patriarch (played by Thilakan), the rivalry between his children and the issues they have with each other.

It is all seen through the eyes of a child, Vicky (Sidharath), who has returned to his parents' village from the Gulf for the last rites of his maternal grandfather.

It is a layered story and the layers are peeled away, giving depth and substance to every character that appears on the screen. No pat solutions are offered nor is there a conclusion to the things that these people are grappling with.

As the six siblings and spouses busy themselves with the cremation and ceremonies that follow, the kids engage with each other, seeking their own pleasures and find solutions to their own world-shattering problems.

Vicky first befriends Roja [ Images ] (Vyjayanthi), a housemaid who was looking after his grandparents. Roja is just a couple of years older than Vicky.

His young heart goes out to the girl who does not get even the respect of being called by her proper name despite doing all the work. So, he gifts her a bar of chocolate.

He also engages with his cousins, the children of his uncle Raghu (Rahman), who is the typical angry young man of a bygone era.

In between their games, Vicky is privy to the proceedings of the adult world; the infighting, hurt and pain they have been carrying with them throughout their lives.

We see all this played out by some good performances by actors like Urvashi, the late Murali, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, and Jagathy Sreekumar.

Murali is the eldest of the siblings, who dons saffron garb after being disenchanted with Naxalism and revolutionary politics. Jagathy Sreekumar plays a high-ranking government officer who is a son-in-law of the expired patriarch.

Urvashi, who plays Vicky's mother, had shunned the love of her brother Raghu's friend and married a lowly worker in the Middle East and thereby earned the animosity of her brother.

Prithviraj gives his voice to the narrator played by the young Vicky.

The realistic script wins our hearts, as do the natural performances by the kids' brigade and also their elders.

If there's anything to complain about, it would be the long drawn out silences and pauses in some places that check the natural flow of the story. Yet this is a minor blemish given the overall impact of the film.

In this film, Anjali Menon succeeds in giving us a charming view of the adult world seen through the eyes of a child.


Movie Review: Manjadikuru (Malayalam)

There is a distinct difference between the world of a child and the world of an adult. Life becomes complicated when innocence is lost and corruption reigns over human whims. 'Manjadikuru' brings back memories of that lost innocence, in a surrounding that is as lost to the modern society as is innocence amongst adults.

'Manjadikuru' is the story of 10 year old Vicky (Sidharth) returning to his ancestral home for the funeral of his grandfather (Thilakan), to find himself experiencing a completely new world. He is mystified by the reasons for the squabbles among the apparently mature people, which have been captured most enchantingly to make way for a very rewarding two and a half hours.

Other than the actors involved, a host of renowned names appear behind the camera as well. The movie is the debut feature film of Anjali Menon, who already is an established name among the lead directors in the industry.

The death of the grandfather played by Thilakan, signifies the death of an era and briefly reunites a large family, which has barely any contact with or shares any fondness for each other. Their rejoining under a single roof first brings to light the problems that had caused the alienation and then the reasons for which they could never forgive themselves.

Lyrics are by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, music by Ramesh Narayan and cinematography by Pietro Zuercher. But the greatest thing about Manjadikuru is that despite the famous names, it is not the individual effort but the total outcome that gives the movie its identity as a classic. The authentic feel about the village life of the 1980s, that's splendidly captured by cameraman Pietro Zuercher, is backed up by the soothing back ground tones by Francois Gamaury and director Anjali Menon has ensured that nothing is amiss, either with the costumes, settings or in the conversation among the characters.

Vicky, meanwhile, befriends the twelve year old Tamil servant girl Roja (Vijayanthi) and then his cousins, who are the children of Raghu (Rahman), the younger brother of his mother. The bond between the children grows stronger and deeper in a matter of days even though the issues between them is too serious in the eyes of his mother for them to even talk. Senior actor Urvashi plays Vicky's mother in the movie.The ego and complex which rule the 'real' world of grown-ups is too naive for the children to get bothered about, and they are more concerned living in their 'childish' world of adventure, learning and sharing.

'Manjadikuru' is a refreshing breeze blowing across an industry, which has been falling behind in its presence in award lists at both national and international levels for the past several years. Whether the film itself is a glimpse at a lost past meant to evoke nostalgia, or if it would indeed pave the way for the return of 'serious' cinema remains to be seen. But for an audience who are proudly playing their part in ushering in the 'new wave' in Malayalam cinema, Manjadikuru is a must watch; one which is an irreplaceable loss if not watched in a theatre, on the big screen.

The movie has a very distinguished star cast including Thilakan, Murali, Jagathy Sreekumar, Bindu Panicker, Urvashi, Rahman and Kaviyoor Ponnamma. Every actor in the movie has turned in their best efforts to make their parts in the movie come alive. 'Manjadikuru' is one of the last films of late actor Murali and the film reminds us of how much of a loss to the industry, the demise of the actor has been. Urvashi, as the loud-mouthed, ‘sophisticated’, self-centered, upperclass woman who takes prides in distancing herself away from her past, seems like the Urvashi of old days who had revolutionised the concept of heroines in Malayalam cinema. Thilakan and Kaviyoor Ponnamma do not have much screen time and have a minimum of dialogues, with Thilakan having none at all. Yet through their expressions, the actors convey more to the viewer than a page long narration. Jagathy Sreekumar is being sorely missed by the industry; his performance as the high-ranking official son-in-law, who finds his own wife demeaning to his standards, marks the versatility that had made the actor acquire the status of a legend. Although appearing in the movie only for a few minutes, the narration by Prithviraj puts the final mark on the easy flow of the movie, which captivates the viewer till the very end.