A Blog on Cinema

March 8, 2018
by Administrator

Kerala State Awards – 2018

This year, we propose that we give an award to jury for making least number of people upset. Sensible folks, this jury:

T. V. Chandran (chairman)
Dr. Biju
Manoj Kana
Vivek Sachidanand
Santosh Thundiyil
Jerry Amaldev
Cheriyan Kalpakavadi
M. Rajeev Kumar
Mahesh Panju (member and secretary)

Here’s the list of winners:

CategoryAwarded toMovie
Best FilmDirector: Rahul Riji Nair
Producer: Rahul R. Nair
Ottamuri Velicham
Second Best FilmDirector: Sanju Surendran
Producer: Murali Mattummal
Best DirectorLijo Jose PellisseryEe.Ma.Yau
Best ActorIndransAalorukkam
Best ActressParvathyTake Off
Best Character ActorAlencier Ley LopezThondimuthalum Driksakshiyum
Best Character ActressPouly ValsanEe.Ma.Yau
Ottamuri Velicham
Best Child ArtistAbhinand  (male category)
Nakshatra  (female category)
Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu
Best StoryM. A. NishadKinar
Best CinematographyManesh MadhavanAedan
Best ScreenplaySajeev PazhoorThondimuthalum Driksakshiyum
Best Screenplay (Adaptation)S. Hareesh
Sanju Surendran
Best LyricsPrabha Varma (song: "Oolathil Melathal")Clint
Best Music Director (song)M. K. ArjunanBhayanakam
Best Music Director (score)Gopi SundarTake Off
Best Male SingerShahabaz Aman (song: "Mizhiyil Ninnum")Mayaanadhi
Best Female SingerSithara Krishnakumar (song: "Vaanamakalunnuvo")Vimaanam
Best Film EditorAppu BhattathiriOttamuri Velicham
Best Art DirectorSanthosh RamanTake Off
Best Sync SoundSmijith Kumar P. B.Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu
Best Sound MixingPramod ThomasAedan
Best Sound DesignRenganaath RaveeEe.Ma.Yau
Best Processing Lab/ColouristChitranjali StudioBhayanakam
Best Makeup ArtistRanjith AmbadyTake Off
Best Costume DesignerSakhi ElsaHey Jude
Best Dubbing ArtistAchu Arun Kumar  (character: Ali)
Sneha M.  (character: Aishwarya)
Best ChoreographyPrasanna SujitHey Jude
Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic ValueProducer: 100th Monkey Movies
Director: Ranjan Pramod
Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu
Best Debut DirectorMahesh NarayanTake Off
Best Children's FilmProducer: Ramya Raghavan
Director: Deepesh T.
Special Jury AwardVinitha Koshy (awarded for acting)Ottamuri Velicham

February 20, 2018
by vc

Cliche: The return of the friend

One of the cliche scenes in the Black Panther movie is as follows.

Somewhere in the middle of the movie, Killmonger reached Wakanda and challenges T’Challa to ritual combat. He throws T’Challa off the waterfall and becomes king. Following this Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda and Ross run away to the tribe which did not accept T’Challa as the king. There they find T’Challa, rescued by the Jabari tribe. After he recovers, T’Challa asks the head of Jabari tribe to support him in the battle against Killmonger. M’Baku, who is the head of the Jabari tribe declines.

T’Challa goes alone to fight the enemy. There is a point in the battle when T’Challa is about to loose. At that moment M’Baku and his fighters appear and help T’Challa defeat the enemy and claim the throne.

This is a familiar pattern seen in Star Wars as well. Towards the end of A New Hope, the rebels identify a weakness with the Death Star. Luke Skywalker joins the rebel squadron while Han Solo collects his payment and decides to leave. Everyone asks him to stay back, but he declines. Then again while the fighting gets bad, guess who shows up. Hans Solo.

We don’t see this specific cliche much in India movies. We have our own like the twins who are split at birth, the blind mother, the comedic villain or various Sathyan Anthikkad movies. We will continue this series with specific examples. If you have your own favorites, please chime in.

February 18, 2018
by vc

Freedom of Expression

The intolerance police is in action again. This time it is against a Malayalam song Manikya Malaraya Poovi from the film Oru Adaar Love. Here are some news snippets:

1.‘Fatwa’ seeks song removal in Oru Adaar Love. “The film-maker should immediately remove the geet (song) from the film. The government should prevent the screening of the film till the song is removed,” the reply states. The document was signed by chief mufti of Jamia Nizamia Mufti Mohammed Azeemuddin.

2.Oru Adaar Love: Hyderabad seminary issues fatwa against Malayalam song over Prophet reference. “Our objection is not for the film, but a song that references the Prophet and his wife. The director should have used some other characters to depict the couple’s relationship. Why did he take the name of the Prophet? That is why we issued this fatwa seeking that the song be dropped from the film,” said Jamia Nizamia secretary Ahmed Ali.

The objection is against the song which speaks of the romance between Prophet Muhammad and his first wife Khadija.
Here is a translation of the lyrics:

A woman like the pearl flower
Her highness- Khadeja Beebi
In the holy city of Macca
She lived like a Queen

A woman like the pearl flower
Her highness Khadeja Beebi
In the holy city of Macca
She lived like a Queen

Asked Khathimun Nabi
Sent as in charge of trade
At the first sight of him
She desired him

After completing the expedition
Blessed Rasulullah came back
To marry the Prophet
was the Bibi desire

A woman like the pearl flower
Her highness Khadeja Beebi
In the holy city of Macca
She lived like a Queen

We don’t understand what’s the problem with these words. It is beautiful and romantic. It does not insult anyone. It is not like M F Hussain drawing nude pictures of Hindu goddesses in the name of art.
But then India is a land of competitive intolerance. Every day there is someone who is offended about something. Look at the jokers who went violent over Padmavati. In some occasion the dumbness of the intolerant people show through. For example, here is one news snippet. On most occasions dumbos like Karni Sena are tools of other political players.

A local organisation has lodged a police complaint against Malayalam actress Priya Prakash Varrier and film director Omar Lulu for allegedly hurting sentiments of the Muslim community through a song in their forthcoming movie “Oru Adaar Love”. However, police have not registered an FIR in the matter yet. The complaint against the two was filed at Jinsi police station by a group of people under the aegis of Janjagran Samithi. “This is a deliberate effort to hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. We demand that a case under IPC section 295 of the IPC should be registered against actress Priya Varrier, director Omar Lulu and producers of the film,” Samithi president Mohsin Ahmed told PTI.

Why is there a complaint against actress Priya Varrier? Why not against the kid who made Priya wink? There are some thousand kids appearing in that song. Why not against all of them? Why not against the singer or the music director? It’s all about publicity.

Now here is the funny thing which these Einsteins did not know. This is not a song which was written for the movie. It was written in 1978 and is popular among Muslims in Kerala, who sing it during the occasion of marriage. No one in Kerala thinks it’s offensive. So the fundamentalists who are opposing this song seem to be clueless as well.

The film makers have rightfully said that they will not delete the song. That is the right decision. If they are forced to delete the song, then we hope, the people who return awards back to the government to get ready.

February 15, 2018
by vc

We are back!

4 years looks like an eternity in Malayalam Cinema. While the landscape is almost unrecognizable since then, not all changes are bad. While we are thrilled at the infusion of young actors and cool ideas, we still yearn for the giant talents of the past. They are still slots that will remain vacant for foreseeable future.

We are not mindlessly fawning over Tamil or Telugu movies. Our movies are getting recognition and acceptance across India. We are regularly making 140+ movies a year and with the proliferation of multiplexes success rates are also high.

Our super stars are still around, surviving on marketing gimmicks.Neither of them has acted in a meaningful movie after 2014. While their recent hits won’t stand the test of time, they make sure that their legacies are intact, following the nepotistic trends seen elsewhere in India. Not to take away the talents of their progenies, some of them are talented. It’s heartening to see some of the new actors taking the position on top solely based on their talent and cinematic acumen.

While speaking of superstars, it is also important to mention supporting actors. They are what gave an edge to the superstars. When you share the screen with Thilakan or Nedumudi Venu, your acting goes up a notch. Now there is no one to give that edge.

One of the things we are missing is the raw talents that made malayalam movie music stand out – we are very short on that department. Raveendran and Johnson remain memories.

Talking about decline, we cannot avoid talking about moral decline. Last year, we had one of the darkest chapters in Malayalam movie history. An actress was molested and we have the fans of the perpetrator(of course not guilty until proven)who see things in black and white. They say that the success of a movie vindicates the pronouncements of the perpetrator. Are things that simple? This does not vindicate the 100% literacy we are so proud. We salute the courageous actress(es) who have taken a stand and stood up against misogyny.

We will posting regularly with our usual style. There will be movie reviews and analysis, all done with a critical eye. So for those who missed us, — We are baaaack.

January 26, 2014
by NikhiMenon

Most Disappointing Movies of 2013

We had earlier written about the best Malayalam films of 2013.This time we are listing what we think were the most disappointing films of the passing year.

Ps-We are sure you,dear readers,have your own list.Go on and share your views with us.

10.Lisammayude Veedu-Babu Janardhan’s follow-up to Lal Jose’s critically acclaimed 2006 film-‘Achanurangatha Veedu’ had Meera Jasmine playing the title role of ‘Lisamma’ but suffered heavily due to bad writing.The Movie which traced the life of Lisamma after the incidents in ‘Achanurangatha…’ was severely panned by the critics and the audiences alike.

9.Vishudhan-Vishudhan was Vaisakh’s (who is often referred to as the ‘Rohit Shetty of Malayalam Cinema’ by the mainstream media)deliberate attempt to break away from his usual formula of larger-than-life mass masala entertainers.But the move back fired as all he ended up making was an half-baked moralistic fable which had a Christian priest as it’s lead character.May’be,the makers were trying to rake in some moolah by choosing a ‘controversial’ theme but that too didn’t help as the film ended up as a major disappointment at the Kerala boxoffice as well.

8.Proprietors Kammath and Kammath-Okay,no one was waiting for a ‘Casablanca’ from the Dileep-Siby/Udayan team.A decent entertainer with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments and a few colourfully visualized peppy songs was  the least thing that was expected out of this big budget mass masala multistar venture directed by Thomson. Poorly written and shoddily directed, these Kamath brothers bored the viewers to death.The strained attempt at creating some laughs using the Konkani accent also fell flat and even Dhanush’s cameo couldn’t salvage this mess of a film.

7.Lokpal-When Veteran director Joshiy and Mohanlal teamed up again after their previous Blockbuster ‘Run Baby Run’,the expectations were obviously humongous.With cheap production values,a waterlogged script and un inspiring performances from the lead cast,this S.N.Swamy attempt at making a vigilante thriller ended up as an unintentionally funny affair.Lokpal explored none of the possibilities that the film’s basic theme offered and it was a classic case of irresponsible film making by some of the big names of Malayalam Cinema.

6.Ladies and Gentleman-Siddique was a director who had an almost hundred percent success ratio till he directed this massive dud named ‘Ladies and Gentleman’.A potpourri of various yesteryear films like ‘Hallo’,’Time’,’Angel John’ and ‘Ínnathe Chinthavishayam’,Ladies and Gentleman was undoubtedly one of the biggest disppointments of 2013.

5.Three Dots-Sugeeth was the director of last year’s surprise hit-‘Ordinary’.So when the succesful ‘Ordinary’ team came together once again for ‘3 Dots’,the expectations were naturally sky high.Many regarded this film as the only safe bet among the Easter releases but were proven terribly wrong when the movie hit the screens on the 22 nd of March 2013.A bad rehash of Ramji Rao Speaking andSaroja,’Three Dots’ had nothing in it which we hadn’t seen before.The climactic revelation was anything but shocking and the movie met with it’s deserved fate at the boxoffice.

4.Ezhamathe Varavu-A remake of late Sukumaran-Venunagavally starrer ‘Evideyo oru Shathru'(which never saw the light of the day)this Indrajith-Vineeth starrer written by M.T.Vasudevan Nair and directed by Hariharan was actually not a very bad film.Had it been made by some ‘lesser known names’,this movie wouldn’t have even featured in this list.But as it’s often said,with big names come bigger expectations.The basic problem with the film was that the film dragged big time and to add on to that the script also had a dated feel to it.Though the movie had splendid visuals(by S.Kumar) and a brilliantly executed climax it didn’t save the film from tanking at the boxoffice.

3.Kadal Kadannoru Mathukutty-Popular Malayalam satellite channel Asianet was so confident about this Ranjith-Mammooty outing after ‘Pranchiyettan and the saint’ that they had no qualms in shelling out a whopping 5.75 crores for the Television rights of the film.In ‘mathukutty’ Ranjith tried to repeat the same template(of narrating the few incidents in the life of the protagonist) which he had succesfully used in ‘Pranchi’ but only this time it didn’t fetch him the desired results.Unlike Pranchi,this un-employed Mathukutty neither amused nor entertained the average Malayalee moviegoer and thereby became a major boxoffice dud.

2.Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal-When Lal-Jose rejoined with his ‘Classmates’ writer and ‘Janapriyanayakan’,nothing short of a Blockbuster was expected by the trade.But the movie which tried to be a new-age romantic comedy not only bombed at the boxoffice but will also be remembered as a failed attempt to look at the fickleness of human relationships by the master director.

1.Geethanjali-It couldn’t have got bigger than this.’Geethanjali’ saw the union of some of the biggest names in Malayalam Cinema.It had Mohanlal reprising the role of Dr.Sunny from his cult-classic ‘Manichithrathazhu’ and had the show man of Malayalam Cinema-Priyadarshan wielding the megaphone.’Geethanjali’ was a golden opportunity wasted and after all,what’s the point in re-telling a story that has only recently been told in Malayalam?(and that too a flop one at that!).The joke was on us,the poor Malayalee audience who paid to watch this Priyadarshan farce at theatres!

December 31, 2013
by NikhiMenon
1 Comment

Malayalam Cinema 2013-The Movies You never knew existed!

2013 saw an unprecedented rise in the number of Feature Films that were being made in Malayalam.Though on the face of it this trend looks good the trade facts tell us otherwise.Here is the list of the Movies which ended up as disasters despite having known faces/saleable factors associated with it.

10.My Fan Ramu-directed by singer-turned-actor Nikhil.K.Menon,’My Fan Ramu’was tauted as the First feature Film which brought together all the youngsters of the celebrity cricket team.The movie scripted by actor Saiju Kurup had Rajeev Govind Pillai,Malavika Wales,Guiness Pakru besides the writer himself playing prominent roles.The makers might have bonded well and have had a gala time while shooting for the film but the common man had little time to bother about their bonhomie.The result-‘My Fan Ramu’ became an epic disaster!

9.Chewing Gum- Sunny Wayne(Sujith Unnikrishnan) rose to fame after his hilarious performance as Kurudi in Dulquer Salman’s debut movie ‘Second Show’.Later he amused us with some really likeable performances in films like ‘Thattathin Marayathu’,’Annayum Rasoolum’,’Neelakasham Pachakadal..’,to name a few.So naturally no one expected him to do a highly pretentious,pseudo-intellectual flick like ‘Chewing Gum’.The movie which delt with an unlikely romance between a lower class welding worker and an upper class girl turned out to be a dud at the boxoffice.

8.Players-Though ‘players’ was released in 2013,the Movie had actually got completed a good 5 years back(initially titled as ‘Two Wheeler’).Set in the backdrop of motorcycle racing,’Players’ had Kavya Madhavan,Jayasurya and Jishnu playing the pivotal roles.


7.Cowboy-A blatant rip-off of the 1995 thriller film ‘Nick Of Time’,this half baked attempt by Balachandrakumar was extensively shot in Malaysia.Plagued by a poor script,insipid execution and un-inspiring performances from the lead cast(Asif Ali,Bala and Mythili)this ‘Cowboy’ had absolutely nothing going for it and had no choice but to run away from the theatres within a week of it’s arrival!


6.Tourist Home-Perhaps the only decent movie in this list,’Tourist Home’ directed by Shebi is a classic case of poor marketing killing an otherwise good film.The Movie which traced the incidents happening in the ten rooms of a Tourist Home had some known faces like Meera Nandhan,Kalabhavan Mani,Saiju Kurup,Nedumudi Venu and Rejath Menon acting in it.


5.KQ-Parvathy Omanakuttan’s first Malayalam Feature Film,’KQ’ was also Baiju Johnson’s(remember the Fan’s club secretary in ‘Traffic’?) debut Movie as a director.Designed as a low-brow comedy aimed at the front benchers(the movie even had yesteryear pornstar Shakeela in a cameo),the film was a colossal failure with even the target audience largely ignoring it!


4.Kaanchi-This MuraliGopi-Indrajith-Archana Gupta starrer explored the David v/s Goliath tussle in a highly unconvincing way.The poorly written script didn’t have enough meat to keep the audience engaged neither did MuraliGopi’s menacing act as the main antagonist-Peringodan.What’s even worse is that the Movie even largely reminded us of Indrajith’s own ‘Chekavar‘ which came out a couple of year’s ago.The only saving grace of ‘Kaanchi’ was that hummable track-‘mullappoo chelulla mandara penninmeyyil…’set to tune by Ronnie Rapheal.

3.Ginger-Shaji Kailas is the RamGopal Varma of Malayalam Cinema.This highly talented director entertained us with superbly crafted action-thrillers once upon a time.But at some point of time(very much like Ram Gopal Varma)he lost interest in reading scripts and started giving more importance to weird camera angles and jump cuts.’Ginger’,starring Jayaram,Mallika et al is his 14 th flop in a row(or is it 15 th?)and we sincerely hope Shaji will bounce back soon.

2.Paisa Paisa-Indrajith had way too many releases this year.But apart from one or two,most of them sank without a trace.Paisa Paisa directed by Prasanth Murali was one among them and I can confidently say that this one with a ludicrous plot certainly deserved it’s fate.The (illogical)tale of an AD film makers’ desperate attempt to get ten thousand rupees was plain boring to say the least!


1.Miss Lekha Tharoor Kanunnathu-The situation was so pathetic for this Meera Jasmine starrer that it didn’t get a proper theatrical release even in the main centres.Shajiyem’s Malayalam remake of the Pang Brother’s Horror Classic(The Eye) ,’Ms.Lekha Tharoor….’had no takers at the box-office and hence was taken off from the majority of theatres(where it managed to get a release)within a day or two of it’s release.


December 28, 2013
by NikhiMenon

Best Malayalam Movies of 2013

It’s that time of the year where we crib about the best and the worst of the passing year.The first one in a series of posts,here’s my list of this year’s Best Malayalam Films. [- NikhiMenon]


This KunchakkoBoban-BijuMenon starrer (partly inspired by the Robert De Niro-Sean Penn starrer ‘We are Not Angels’)told the comical story of two thieves who had to disguise themselves as Priests inorder to escape from the eyes of the Law.Though the script had it’s own share of flaws it was the terrific comic timing of the lead cast that made ‘Romans’ worth a watch.

Okay,let’s put it bluntly-this Mamootty Film fromLal Jose was nowhere near the team’s earliest offering-‘OruMaravathoorKanavu’ (which incidentally was also the director’s debut venture as an independent film maker).Neither was it a worthy successor to the director’s previous outing,the critically and commercially acclaimed ‘AyalumNjanumThammil’(which also won him last year’s Kerala State Award for the Best Director)but still this Movie managed to find a place in this list because it achieved what it intended to be-a decent family entertainer.It was also the only decent film in which Superstar Mammootty had acted this year.

Directed by debutant Alphonse Puthren,Neram narrated some strange incidents happening in the life of an un- employed lad named Mathew(NivinPauly).The movie had a wafer thin story to say but it was the brilliant making by the talented director(ably supported with a highly believable performance by Nivin) which made it a really enjoyable affair.The fresh-pairing of NivinPauly and NazriyaNaazim also worked to it’s advantage.

Director Ranjith Shankar’s most successful film till date,’PunyalanAgarbathies’ was the tale of Joy Thakkolkaran,an ambitious youngster who dreams of being an ‘Ambani’ by selling Agarbathies made out of Elephant Dung.The movie which reminded us of the good old eightees when the SatyanAnthikkadu-Sreenivasan-Lalettan combo used to make meaningful social satires laced with humour and family sentiments.Never preachy or boring,PunyalanAgarbathies co-produced by Jayasurya himself was a runaway success.
6.Philips and The Monkey Pen
When was the last time that a really good Malayalam Children’s film made you laugh and cry at the same time?Though there were the odd gems like T.D.Dasan VI.B(directed by Late Mohan Raghavan) or 101 Chodyangal(directed by Siddharth Shiva), most of the recent Malayalee attempts in making movies for Children were eminently forgettable(including the mamooth budgeted ‘Magic-Magic 3D’ from Navodaya).Director Duo Rojin Philip and ShanilMuhammed’s Philips and the Monkey Pen was a sweet little film which was thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining.But the real star of the film was Master Sanoop who played Ryan Philip to perfection.
5.Mumbai Police-

Written by Sanjay-Bobby and directed by Roshan Andrews this Prithviraj-Jayasurya-Rahman starrer was a critical as well as commercial success.Exploring the taboo theme of same-sex love,’Mumbai Police’ is undoubtedly one of the pathbreaking films in recent times.Prithviraj as Antony Mosses IPS gave a splendid performance as the Police Officer who is suffering from an identity crisis/existential crisis.Devoid of any songs or crass jokes,the movie was also technically slick with a highly competent direction by Roshan.
Based on the life of the pioneer of Malayalam Cinema-J.C.Daniel,Kamal’sPrithviraj starrer was not only a big winner when the Kerala State Film Awards for 2012(the Movie was Censored on the 31 st of December,2012 which made it eligible to compete for last year’s Film Awards)were announced early this year but also turned out to be a profitable affair at the ticket counters.Infact Celluloid was also a highly entertaining film with a hilarious first half which was a welcome change from the highly pretentious art house fares that usually shines in the awards/festival circuits.Prithviraj played J.C’s role to perfection while new comer Chandni who played the role of Rosi,Malayalam Cinema’s first heroine also did her part well.
Veteran director Shyamaprasad made a strong comeback through his FahadFazil-Ann Augustine starrer ‘Artist’ which told the story of a self -centered,egoistic painter-Michel Agnelo(Fahad)and his live-in partner Gayathri(Ann).Adapted from a novel by ParitoshUttam(‘Dreams in Prussian Blue’,published by Penguin India-metro reads),Artist tried to explore the themes of solitude,alienation and selfless love.ThoughFahad was good as Micheal it was Ann Augustine who stole the show with a career best performance as the confused and impulsive Gayu who is hopelessly lost in Love.The movie also introduced us a talented new comer,SreeramRamachandran who played Abhi-the friend with sinister plans.

Though this Prithviraj starrer was the least hyped among the Ramzan releases it turned out to be the highest grosser among the other Malayalam Movies which got released during that season.A Psychological thriller written and directed by JeethuJoseph,’Memories’ visualised certain episodes in the life of a police officer.Though the story had shades of Aamir Khan’s ‘Talaash’,Mohanlal’s ‘Grandmaster’ and Anitha Nair’s mystery thriller ‘Cut Like Wound’,it was JeethuJoseph’s brilliant execution and Prithviraj’s towering performance as Sam Alex,the I.P.S. officer with a troubled past that ensured success for the Movie.
Jeethu Joseph’s Mohanlal starrer ‘Drishyam’ is a cinematic triumph by all means.Brilliantly scripted and flawlessly directed,Drishyam is that kind of film which will be talked about by the Malayalee movie goers for a very long time.Thespectacular tale of an illiterate farmer(Georgekutty,played by Mohanlal) and his  struggles to protect his family from the inevitable collapse.I would rate Drishyam as Jeethu’s best work till date both as a writer and a director.It’s a brilliant edge-of-the seat thriller which is totally worth your time and money!
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