Rabhasa | Movie Review

Rabhasa

What happens when you pick up story lines from a bunch of movies and make a pot-pourri? You get a boring Rabhasa!

I never got to watch Santosh Srinivas’s first film Kandireega. By the looks of it, it must have been a better film for he actually got chance to direct another with the same producer. The problem actually is not with the director, but the script. Rabhasa offers nothing new: a young man fighting not for his love, but for his family. The only twist here is that he’s fighting for some stranger’s family reunion. To add value Santosh tried to twist the screenplay, but that doesn’t work well. Add to that innumerable number of uncanny fights, and there you go, another boring film aimed only for the masses. While direction is good in parts, it’s mediocre for most of the film.

NTR, who finally gets a release after a long time, is perfect to play the lead. But the problem is that you’ve already seen him play similar character in the past. So it’s a cake walk for him, but his choice of doing same roles baffles me. While he looks slim and fit in few scenes, he needs to lose weight (again). Samantha has a full fetched role and she’s alright (but for in few scenes). She looked really glamorous. Pranitha has a small role to play and doesn’t make an impact. I was surprised by the number of negative characters in the movie. While everyone starts off strong, they all end up being pussies with no one making an impact. Bramhanadam entertains in the second half, but again it’s the same old bakra character.

Music by Thaman is, as my cousin puts it, same-to-same. But for ‘Rakasi Rakasi’, you’ve heard every other tune in the past (just like you’ve watched most scenes of this film somewhere). Editing by Venkateswara Rao is alright. Cinematography by Shyam Naidu is pretty good. However, the graphics could have been better. You expect good dances in an NTR movie, but there was nothing on offer.

Is it worth your time and money??: Unless you are a fan, you can probably give this one a miss – not because it’s a bad film, but since you’ve already seen most of this in the past. NTR is a definite asset to the film, but I am not sure if people want to see him play the same roles again and again.

Worth mention: Cinematography. And to an extent, Bramhanadam’s episodes.

Acting: 7.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 5/10
Technical Aspects: 7/10

Verdict: 6/10

Drishyam | Movie Review

Drishyam

Drishyam has garnered quite a bit of positive buzz within days of its release. A remake of Malayalam version with the same title, this one is a good film, yes, but definitely not a good thriller.

Scripted by Jeethu Joseph (director of the original), Drishyam tells a story of an ordinary middle class family who get pulled into unanticipated circumstances thanks to a guest (film term). Before I delve into rest of the details, here’s some trivia.

Immediately after watching the movie, I came home to watch the original. And to my surprise, the Telugu version happens to be a scene to scene rip off of the Malayalam version. Except for a few edits, everything including most of the character names, dates, dialogues, and even the camera angles happen to be the same. There was absolutely no change in terms of the screenplay either. Unfortunately though, the subtlety of the original was far left behind.

Back to the review now. Debutant director Sripriya had no role to play as most of the cast happened to be senior actors, and could replay the original to the ‘T’. At no point was her ability showcased with respect to direction or screenplay. As already mentioned, the subtlety was lost in translation, especially in the first half hour where the characters were established. Everything seemed loud and artificial. Talking about the screenplay, while it was decent, I wasn’t really impressed by it. And it definitely didn’t belong to thriller genre. When most of the story is revealed immediately after the scene’s occurrence, I don’t think that can be called a thriller. Yes, it had some (very little I say) suspense associated with it, but no, it wasn’t edge of the seat stuff. Oh, add unconvincing, and at times pretty slow as well.

Venkatesh did a commendable job as the lead, and it was more or less a tailor-made role for him. It would have been nice if he had let go of his cheekiness in the first half hour though. That apart, he had to downplay for most of the film, and he does a commendable job. It was a cakewalk for Meena, having played the role in the original. She was good, but again could have reduced the makeup (she looked so much better in the original sans makeup). Krutika is pretty good as the elder daughter, and Baby Esther was good in the role she essayed in Malayalam. Nadira was decent as the ruthless cop, while Naresh came up with a good performance. The rest of the cast is alright.

Music by Sharreth, borrowed from the original is alright. Editing by Marthand Venkatesh and cinematographer by Gopal Reddy were both decent. However, I’m disappointed that neither had anything special to add to the movie.

Is it worth your time and money??: It’s a good movie and an entertainer. But to call it the best of the lot thriller would be injustice to the genre (Go watch Anveshana (1985), that’s a thriller). Give it a watch without expectations and I’m guessing you won’t be disappointed.

Worth mention: Hero Venkatesh downplaying for most of the movie.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 7.5/10

Verdict: 7.5/10

After watching both the versions, I have a different take on the movie. Spoiler alert, so only people who have watched the movie are advised to read on.

Instead of revealing the fact that IG’s son had shot a video of George Kutty’s/Venky’s daughter and him being murdered in the first half, I would have preferred if it was kept under wraps till the end of the movie. The family could have travelled to Vizianagaram, gone to the temple, come back, and the entire storyline of them being arrested and tortured could have been showcased without giving away the plot. In this case, you are more connected to the family for you as audience don’t know that they have committed the crime as well. Entire suspense could have been revealed in about 10 minutes in the last shot where Venky meets the IG couple. Voila, you now have a thriller! 

Should I be directing movies?? 😛

Oohalu Gusagusalade | Movie Review

Oohalu Gusagusalaade

Oohalu Gusagusalade happens to be one of the surprise hits of the year, and it is not without a reason. Well canned with a simple storyline, this movie is surely refreshing!

Scripted and directed by Srinivas Avasarala, the story revolves around a shy guy taking the help of his friend to woo his girl, little knowing that the friend loved the girl in the past. It’s an old story, yes, but Srini presented it in a very refreshing way. With relatively new cast, Srini excels in directing the first half. While he does pretty good in the latter half as well, I thought he failed to invoke emotions. The lead letting go of his love so easily, with a smiling face was lamentable. But now that I think of it, it might have been intentional to avoid the regular emotional scenes and show everything on a lighter note. Screenplay is very effective as well.

Shourya comes up with an exceptional performance as the guy caught up between love and family. He has ease to his acting, and is way better than any than the other breed of so-called actors. Rashi Khanna is really cute and puts up a fine performance. I’ve always liked Srinivas Avasarala’s style of acting and he doesn’t disappoint. Every cast member comes up with notable performances.

Music by Kalyani Koduri is pretty decent. While songs break the flow at a couple of instances, the tunes are really peppy. Stand out is “Em Sandeham Ledu”. Editing by Kiran Ganti is decent, and so is the cinematography by Venkat Dileep.

Is it worth your time and money??: Definitely yes. It’s a refreshing film with some fine performances. Though it lacked emotions, the flow of the film is great. A film not to be missed this season.

Worth mention: The cute little love story in the first half, and the climax scene.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8.5/10
Technical Aspects: 7.5/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

Autonagar Surya | Movie Review

AutoNagarSurya

I believe any movie needs a strong plot. Even if isn’t conveyed on-screen, the director should know his script. Unfortunately, Deva Katta has no clue on what he wants to convey, and so Autonagar Surya is close to a disaster.

Set in the 1990’s, Surya is our rebellious orphan living in a union run colony controlled by mafia. Like any other movie, our hero fights the goons from the word go, so much to an extent that he lands up in jail for murder at an age of 16. The rest of the movie is all about him fighting more goons and murdering more people, this time without being arrested. Looks like Deva Katta was very inspired by Hrithik Roshan starrer, Agneepath. I initially didn’t get why he chose to showcase the story in the 1990’s, but later realized that if he portrayed such violence and atrocities in the current age, people would laugh at him. Dev Katta got so confused that he had no clue on what to do towards the end, resulting in one of the quickest climax in recent times. But for the dialogues, the direction and screenplay are pretty weak.

Did I say Naga Chaitanya improved as an actor in Manam review? I would take that back but for the fact that this movie was shot much before Manam. He is absolutely pathetic. Just like Ram Charan in Racha, he tries to imitate his dad and fails miserably. Any B-grade actor would have probably performed better. Samantha looks cute but is as good as a doll. There is a huge cast, most of them come up with average performances. Most disappointing was the characterization of Sai Kumar for he is totally wasted in a purposeless role.

Music by Anoop Rubens is mediocre with songs popping in between for no reason. Cinematography by Srikant Naroj is average while editing by Goutham Raju is pathetic. The film is unnecessarily long with a number of scenes which make no sense. Visual effects by my childhood buddy Asif Bhushan are neat.

Is it worth your time and money??: I don’t think so. Give it a month’s time and it’ll be playing on your television. It’s a different discussion as to whether it’s worth watching it on TV as well. 

Worth mention: A couple of powerful dialogues being uttered by one of the most untalented actor in recent times.

Acting: 5.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 5/10
Technical Aspects: 5.5/10

Verdict: 5.5/10

Ulavacharu Biryani | Movie Review

Ulavacharu Biryani

A remake of a Malayalam blockbuster, Prakash Raj’s Ulavacharu Biryani is a feel good film. But, it could have been way better.

The story is pretty simple – two elderly, unmarried adults accidentally start talking to each other over phone and eventually fall for each other, but the problem arises when they decide to meet. The first half of the film is very witty, and the food background creates the right impact on the audience. However, it’s the latter half which is a huge disappointment. Instead of staying with the humorous thread, the script takes a u-turn and steps on sentiment. This really doesn’t work well and the effect created by the first half fades away slowly because of a bore dealing with self-confidence and self-pity. Instead, it would have been nice to see a quick-witted screenplay even in the second half, and create more humour while involving food. Direction by Prakash Raj is pretty good, and he shines as a director in parts. Screenplay could have been a little better, and the scenes involving the tribal men could have been avoided.

As an actor, its’ a cake walk for Prakash Raj. He is one of the most versatile actors with great screen presence and voice in Indian cinema today, and I hope he keeps up his good work while staying out of controversies. Sneha makes a very good comeback. She looks pretty, and Sunita’s dubbing is perfect for her. Newcomers Tejus and Samyuktha are alright. M.S. Narayana and Brahmaji have good roles and perform well, while Urvashi and Aishwarya shine in their brief appearances.

Music by maestro Ilaiyaraaja is a definite plus point of the film. However, the background score could have been better. Another major plus point of the film are its dialogues by Vallabha. Cinematography by Preetha and editing by Kishore are decent.

Is it worth your time and money??: Ulavacharu Biryani is a feel good film on the likes on Anand and Godavari. If you like these kind of movies, then this one is for you. Plus point are acting by Prakash Raj and Sneha, music, and entertaining dialogues. On the other hand, a laggy second half with unnecessary sentiment spoils the fun. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable watch, and after Manam, a family entertainer.

Like the name, the film is an odd combination of fun (first half) and sentiment (second half)!

Worth mention: The entire first half with mouth-watering food was super fun.

Acting: 8/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 7/10

 

Manam | Movie Review

Manam

After a successful entertainer (Ishq), director Vikram Kumar has another winner at his hands, thanks to Akkineni family.

Manam is not a great film, for it has numerous flaws in terms of logic and reasoning. But it still works, only because it is earnest, and the effort on everyone’s part is sincere (which shows on-screen). The script is very clichéd, with reincarnation and all such stuff, but Vikram was able to put it all forth in a very effective manner (though it seemed a little unconvincing at times). He used humor to bring out the best from his cast. Though the screenplay was dragged quite a bit at times, it was still effective.

In reality, the film works not because of the script, but because of Nagarjuna, who is the real star of the movie. He is absolutely charming and came up with one of his best performances. He couldn’t have given a better send off gift to his father, legendary actor, ANR. Whilst ANR has limited screen presence, he entertains us to the fullest one last time. Chaitanya has improved as an actor, but I believe there is still a long way for him to go. Akhil impresses in his cameo. Both Shriya and Samantha have meaty roles, and they performed to their best. Samantha looked very pretty, while Shriya looked elegant. There’s not much of other cast, and I thought Brahmanandam and Ali were wasted.

On technical front, music by Anoop Rubens is a definite asset to the film. Background score is impressive as well. Cinematography by P. S. Vinod adds more color to this vibrant film, while editing by Prawin Pudi is decent. Dialogues by Vishnuvardhan are good. Production values by Akkineni family are excellent.

Is it worth your time and money??: Definitely. It’s a clean film and a perfect family entertainer. While it might seem a bit clichéd and little unconvincing at times, an earnest effort from the entire cast and crew make this film work. Nagarjuna is the major plus point, while watching ANR on silver screen for the last time is a bonus. Watch it with your family. 🙂 

Worth mention: The scene in the second half with all three generations of the Akkineni family (and maybe even the climax).

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 8/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

Chandamama Kathalu | Movie Review

CK

I’ve wasted two and half hours watching this dumb film. Not worth spending more time analysing it. In one line, it’s a badly scripted film with mediocre direction and pathetic screenplay. Only grace are decent acting and music.

Is it worth your time and money??: I don’t think so!! I’d actually ask you to stay away !

Worth mention: Nothing.

Acting: 6/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 4/10
Technical Aspects: 5/10

Verdict: 4.5/10

Legend | Movie Review

Legend

Before it is taken off theaters due to elections, I ventured out to watch the “Lion Roar”. And roar he did. I’ve never been a far of Balakrishna, and mostly find it disgusting when he romances girls younger than his daughters. But if I choose to ignore that, Legend is actually a decent film.

Boyapati Srinu likes his movies being grand, and he made sure this film is no less. He knows the pulse of the masses and Balayya’s strengths, and therefore was able to pull off a loud yet watchable movie. Direction is neat, and I thought the screenplay was very good. However, the second half could have been short and crisp. Dialogues by M. Ratnam are a definite plus point to the film.

On acting front, Balakrishna is perfect as Jai Dev. Except for the fact that he wears his watch over his shirt sleeve, there’s no false note in his acting. However, he either needs to stop romancing young girls, or lose tons of weight to make sure that he doesn’t look like their dad. Both Radhika Apte and Sonal Chauhan are decent, while the rest are alright. The ‘Nanamma’ character could have been cast better though. Though its Balayya’s movie, the undoubted star turns out to be Jagapathi Babu. His antics and body language as the antagonist are just brilliant. Big thanks to Srinu for showcasing this side of Jagapathi Babu.

On technical front, while music by Devi Sri Prasad is mediocre, editing is neat and cinematography is pretty good. Production values are excellent, for the richness of the sets and locations could be seen on-screen.

Is it worth your time and money??: If you can sit through loud movies, and can stand Balayya, then yes. The first half is entertaining and short, while the second half is full of violence and at times, a drag. Plus points are brilliant acting by Jagapathi Babu and strong dialogues. Overall, a decent film.

Worth mention: Balayya’s dialogue targeting Chiranjeevi in the climax.

Acting: 7.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 7/10

Race Gurram | Movie Review

Race Gurram

Right from the word go, I was cursing myself for coming to watch this movie. The family sentiment seemed contrived, acting too loud, romance illogical, and the list goes on. But surprisingly, after almost 3 hours, I left the theater satisfied (how is that even possible?).

Scripted and directed by Surender Reddy, Race Gurram starts off just like any other commercial Telugu movie, with phony sequences and loud acting. Entire first half continues on the same path, where it is established that our hero, Lucky has irreparable issues with his cop brother, Ram. The reasons for this hatred between them seemed so stupid that even their parents can’t help. While these guys are fighting, in comes our (can’t even lip sync) villain, who wishes to kill Ram. And the rest of the story, or second half, is about how Lucky gets involved in between. Luckily for us, this is when the movie gets interesting. While the first half seemed dull with mediocre screenplay, Surender manages to pull half the later half exceedingly well. The overall direction though could have been much better.

On acting front, it’s more or less a cake walk for Arjun. His body language is superb, and he performs with ease. In my opinion, he is talented to take up further challenging roles than the ones he’s essaying at the moment. Shruthi looks gorgeous in her “heroine” appearance (a couple of scenes and all songs). Shaam seemed alright while Ravi Kishan was over the moon loud, and irritating to an extent. The fact that there is no lip sync for both these characters even in close up shots was sad. The rest of the casting is alright, but acting wise, everyone was below par. Nevertheless, one man, in his brief appearance towards the climax, makes you forget the mediocre acting and every loophole thus far in the film. Brahmi a.k.a Kill Bill Pandey, take a bow! After a long long time, it was great to watch Brahmanandam in a strong role. He is absolutely entertaining.

Though almost every songs barges in for no reason, music by Thaman is pretty neat. I liked ‘Cinema Choopista’ and ‘Down Down Duppa’, the latter especially for the choreography and picturization. Background score was decent. Editing by Gowtham Raju is alright, while cinematography by Manoj Paramahamsa is of top-notch quality. Production values are excellent.

Is it worth your time and money??: If it weren’t for Kill Bill Pandey, I probably would have said NO. Except for Arjun, I thought everyone else including the senior actors acted miserably. Add to that the pretentious characterizations. Nevertheless, the screenplay in the second half, Bunny’s strong screen presence and Bramhi come to the rescue, and you walk out of the theater satisfied (like I did). So just for that, you can give it a watch.

Worth mention: Every frame with Kill Bill Pandey!

Acting: 6.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 6/10
Technical Aspects: 8.5/10

Verdict: 7/10

1: Nenokkadine | Movie Review

1_Nenokkadine_film_poster

Though I’ve watched some really good movies in the recent past (American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street to name a couple), I haven’t felt inclined to write a review, mostly because enough has already been said about these movies. But after watching 1: Nenokkadine, I feel compelled to write one.

Having read some mixed reviews about the movie, I was eagerly waiting to watch it to judge it myself. It finally released in Singapore a week later after it did in India, and spending as much as I would for an IMAX movie ($20), here I was in a packed auditorium on a Sunday evening.

Scripted and directed by Sukumar, 1: Nenokkadine is a sigh of relief from the regular commercial Telugu movies coming out lately (where Brahmanandam gets slapped for no reason). The unique concept was very well conceived by Sukumar, and Mahesh Babu did a tremendous job to pull it off. The first half of the movie is really gripping (especially the first fight, and few of the Goa episodes). However, the lack of effective screenplay pulls down the movie in the second half. Though the direction is neat, the screenplay which is great in parts, could have been way better. The length (close to 3 hours) also doesn’t help viewers sustain interest for this genre. Nevertheless, the twists were good, and Sukumar did a good job to explain most without leaving any loose end (But for the hero getting away with multiple murders in a foreign land).

On the acting front, it’s more or less a cakewalk for Mahesh. He looked great, and was amazingly good in the imaginative episodes. His dances definitely need a mention. It was good to see the heroine get a full length role. Newcomer Kriti Sanon looked gorgeous and did a decent job. Posani was a little irritating with his fake Punjabi accent and “Dudu”. The rest of the cast was alright.

Music by DSP is more or less mediocre, but the background score is pretty good (and haunting). Cinematography by Rathnavelu is of top-notch quality. However, just like the screenplay, editing work by Karthika Srinivas is another negative. As already mentioned, films of such genre need to be short and crisp, and this is where 1: Nenokkadine loses out.

Is it worth your time and money??: As you must have already read, this is not a film for everyone. It’s a thriller with pretty good twists and turns, and some great acting from Mahesh. On the flip side, the ineffective screenplay and the run time make the film lose steam. Nevertheless, 1: Nenokkadine is a good watch. If you appreciate different genres, I’d suggest you watch this one.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 7/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8/10