A Blog on Cinema

Review Roundup: Notebook


Hollywood Actor Steve Martin wrote the movie of an insecure film actor who won’t act in a producer’s movie and the producer has to resort to various tricks to make the movie. Our favourite comedy writer Srinivasan took this thread, added his usual mix of Dasan-Vijayan routine and wrote the movie Udayananu Tharam and it became a blockbuster hit because the film made fun of the film stars themselves. Due to this success, expectations were high for Director Rosshan Andrews second movie Notebook which at least seems to have an original script. But then that original script seems to be the Achilles Heel for the movie. All reviewers, both from the media and the blogosphere agree unanimously that this is a terrible movie.

Sreejith writes

The movie wanted to communicate so many things simultaneously, yet could come up with only a few, thus not living up to its propaedeutic strains. Scuttle scenes in the second half, expressions of the parents of the girls, the lives of the girl pals after the set of incidents and the anonymous letter in the end did not seem to have any connection with the story till then. Andrrews says Notebook is about the love and understanding that should arise between parents and children; but one would wonder how he passed on that message in the movie. No great scenes to relic when you leave the theatre, suggesting Notebook failed to infuse the intended inputs. The producer of the movie, PV Gangadharan and Andrrews deserve a lot of applause for the intrepid attempt in putting up such an experimentation with youngsters, thumbs down to the script writers Bobby and Sanjay though.

Ratheesh writes

Notebook is set in a mysterious posh school in Ooty, where all the students and teachers speak in pure Malayalam. The film tells the story of three girl students of twelfth standard. One of them falls in love with a boy in the school, and then follows a series of tragic incidents, which form the main thread of the film. I think Roshan Andrews as a director has tried hard to make a watchable film based on a rotten script. The film is packaged nicely with postcard-like images, and two of the girls playing the roles of Saira and Pooja (both of them are newcomers, I guess) are expressive and capable of acting – but that’s it. There is nothing really worth writing about this nonsense film.

Velu writes

The mammoth expectations raised by Roshan Andrews’ second film, are never really lived up to, (no) thanks to a script by the duo Bobby and Sanjeev, that plays spoil sport every now and then, much to the viewer’s chagrin. Several honest attempts to delve into the intricacies of the transient age with maturity are met with an inevitable disdain, courtesy the insipid narrative that grows errant with each fleeting juvenile event. Solid performances from a relatively fresh cast and the melodious songs set to tune by Mejo do pep up the scene for a while, and so does the awesome camerawork of Diwakaran. But sadly, the struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future is never really conveyed across and the film invariably turns out to be a chaotic amalgamation of a whole lot of affairs that defy all sense of judgment. writes

The pain that Rosshan Andrrews took in shaping his maiden venture Udayanaanu Thaaram was reflected in the totality of the film, and found it a place among one of the most exquisitely crafted movies of recent times. Now, about two years later, Rosshan has come up with his second film, Notebook, produced by P.V. Gangadharan of Grihalakshmi Productions. But this colourful film, though entertaining and good, falters on many counts and is perhaps indicative that the promising young director didn’t take as much pain moulding this film as he did making Udayanaanu Thaaram.

Sify agrees

So it was but natural for us to rush to the cinemas on opening day, opening show to watch this much talked about Rosshan’s brave new attempt at Rs 3 crore. But sadly, the director has slipped with a weak and undernourished love story set in a boarding school that makes you snooze.

If Udayan was a masterpiece in screenplay writing (Thanks to Sreenivasan), Notebook’s major flaw is the story and screenplay by Bobby and Sanjay. This completely insensitive film is excessively verbose with three girls as protagonists holed up in a boarding school trying to iron out their emotional problems through passionate dialogues.

How Saira and Pooja deal the situation and what follows form the rest of the story. The weakest link in Notebook is its script and presentation. The director has inflicted us with a film which has no coherence, consistent plot and the screenplay is amateurish and moves at snail pace. The all new star cast infuses energy into their roles but a boring and monotonous script lets them down completely.

India Glitz also agrees

Roshan Andrews seems to be in the end of his good honeymoon with commercial cinema as his second film Notebook is predicted to be a loser. 23 months after his debut film Udayananu Tharam, one of the classics in Malayalam cinema, the expectations from Roshan’s next, a three crore extravaganza with all new stars falls flat. We are not encouraged to talk of the brave attempt and the unexpectedly bold theme as the film portrays insensitiveness all through the proceedings, giving much little for the viewers to cherish.
The all new star cast tries their best to bring in the energy of freshness into their roles but a monotonous script lets all the chances null. Even the climax which is a look alike of recent Classmates brings comparisons, which may also affect the box-office prospects of the film. However, the plus points of the film that is quite evident are the camera of R Diwakaran and the effective rerecording which in many ways tried to avoid the total breakdown of narrative continuity. Songs tuned by Majo Joseph are hummable and are well picturised

Paresh Palicha in Rediff

The screenplay, credited to Bobby and Sanjay, does not however make us emotionally involved with the girls; we are told their story, but never invited into their world. Thus, empathy is missing; when the timid one reveals that she may be pregnant after a fling with her boyfriend during the school excursion, we are indifferent to her fate.

The single biggest handicap this film suffers from is the fact that none of the characters are real, believable; in fact, on many occasions, the actions of the characters are uncharacteristically insensitive, as for instance the way the principal deals with a boy who climbs the clock tower threatening to commit suicide.

The bright spot is that the bunch of newcomers put in some exuberance into the otherwise turgid film; especially Roma, who has charming screen presence. The appearance of Suresh Gopi as her father, towards the end of the film, gives a bit of a fillip to proceedings, but even he cannot salvage the film beyond a point.


  1. From Rosshan on sify

    Sify: How are you feeling after Notebook release?

    RA: First and foremost, let me tell you that your review on on the opening day of its release came as a rude shock to me. Why don’t you understand that a lot of people read your review, which affect the collections? And from all over the world people called me up to say they had read it. I was in tears because it was review of Udayananu Tharam, which got me a few offers from Bollywood.

  2. Was Rosshan Andrews merely a flash in the pan. Or was it my high expectations from his latest project Note Book that left me with a sense of disgust, I cannot say for sure.

    Note Book deals with a complex theme “teenage” which unlike the immaturity of that period requires deft and mature handling to bring out interest. An immediate movie that comes to mind is “The Sleepers” which talks of the growing up of boys to men and the loss of innocence.In that respect, Note Book could have been a breathe of fresh air, dealing with a topic that will be forever relevant.

    Unfortunately, Note Book lacks credibility in the storyline and the movie just rambles on and one wonders whether the story itself has a purpose to achieve or a message to deliver.

    An avoidable movie at best

  3. I wonder why there is this slur campaign on one of the best efforts in malayalam in recent times. As one of the contributors on this blog i am also surprised that a lot of good responses to this movie have been removed and now there are only negative responses posted. Why this selective display? Does someone want to make this movie look bad? Take a look at the statistics. In collection record as well as public response this movie has topped the x’mas releases which included super star releases and much hyped films like ‘palunku’ which have sank without a trace while notebook is still running high and steady. As a lover of good movies i welcome this trend and call upon the internet community to maintain impartiality and objectivity in discussions.

  4. This is the review of the movie that i saw on Indiaglitz: How come there is a different one here?
    Twenty-three months after his debut film Udayananu Tharam, one of the classics in Malayalam cinema, the expectations from Roshan Andrews’s next, a three crore extravaganza with all new stars, manages to spring a lot of surprises. Having embarked on an unexpectedly bold theme, the director and the producer have made a brave attempt all through the proceedings, to capture the zest and colours of adolescent life.

    “Children should grow up with their families and not in boarding schools.” Roshan has used his new film ‘Notebook’ to convey this strong message. And they have succeeded in planting the idea successfully with negligible compromise, with beautiful frames and splendidly dealt sequences. Roshan has proved in many a sequence with his directorial stamp that he is not a one film wonder. Accolades must also be made to Grihalekshmy productions for having given such a film.

    The film set against the colourful backdrop of a boarding school in Ooty delves into issues like friendship, love, parental care and sophistry of adolescence in a sensitive manner. Everything about the film is colourful.

    The film has three girls as protagonists. They are in a boarding school trying to find out a way to overcome their emotional problems. Saira (Roma), Pooja (Parvathy) and Sridevi (Maria) are classmates and close friends studying in twelfth standard in Lord’s Academy in Ooty. The threesome come from totally different backgrounds. Pooja lives with her mother (Seeta), Saira comes from a broken home and Sridevi’s parents are heart smitten on their daughter.

    Pooja is the brightest student in the class and also the school leader while Saira is the naughtiest one in the group, even though she is more emotional due to her family problems. Due to her separated parents (Suresh Gopi & Aishwarya), Saira, who is in hostel always plays fowl to get caught every time by their principal whom they passionately call Dracula. Saira and Sridevi who are in the hostel find their best friends in Firoz (Majo Joseph) and Suraj Menon (Sooraj) in their class. Firoz is a modest guy, bad in studies but crazy about music. Suraj, the hero of his class falls in love with Sridevi and in a school excursion, they end up making love which results in Sridevi becoming pregnant. The rest of the story revolves around how the friends handle the pressure of pregnancy and how they find ways to overcome the associated troubles.

    Roshan wins a major battle by selecting the right actors in the lead, who look every inch the characters they play. The all new star cast tries their best to bring in energy and freshness into their roles. Going by the way it is all packaged, the director gets a perfect ten with a different narrative style, camera angles and lighting that match the mood and the background score which fits the storyline perfectly. Not anytime in the recent past have we seen a movie with so much visual splendour. The definite plus points of the film are the camera of R Diwakaran and the effective re-recording, which in many ways, has kept intact the continuity of a racy narrative. The screenplay is quite upright and on the flip side, it is the dialogues which often go haywire. For instance, the way the principal deals with a boy who climbs the clock tower threatening to commit suicide, could have been dealt with in a better manner.

    Among the cast, Roma as Saira excels, projecting herself as a definite prospective performer, while Parvathy and Maria are promising as well. Mejo Joseph, who has also scored the songs for the film, has put in a very impressive performance as Feroz Ahmed, the rather meek and shy student who has a passion for music. Songs tuned by him for the film are hummable and are well picturised.

    Suresh Gopi as Brigadier Alexander (Saira’s father) does an impressive guest role. Seeta as Pooja’s mother too is impressive. Bobby as the Principal-Father Antony, nicknamed Dragon by the students, is also a good choice for the role.

    The real problem with the circumambience of strict and naughty dwellers of a boarding school is the distance that the happenings on screen have from the normal folk, because generally, not many parents send their children to residential schools. Much of the audience don’t relate to the theme hence.

    Notebook is a film made with the best of intentions, rarely so in Malluwood. Roshan and Grihalekshmy need to be appreciated for the rare effort and for the conviction with which they have handled the sensitive theme.

  5. Sreeja, Good point. The reason why the review looks different now is because India Glitz changed the review. The old one can be found in Google Cache

    Now on why some positive comments were not approved. There were some positive comments which were childish and without any elaboration. If you liked a movie, you should be able to write atleast a few lines explaining why. In some cases for some positive comments had followup comments even though we had not approved the original comment, and all from the same machine!

  6. Hey, Was only the review in Indiaglitz changed or the movie was also changed like the recent Chakarapothu/potten/muthu etc… 😉

  7. notebook is the first movie which dared to deal vth such a subject.roshan andrews is a promising director.songs r excellent

  8. although the film is has a thin story,i liked very much acting of saira(roma).she is so beautiful,i have no words to define.

  9. Notebook is a very sweet movie indeed. Highly watchable and very good acting considering all are new faces. In my opinion UT was highly over-rated. I didnt like it that much. Notebook is several notches above UT. Its a good though simple story presented very well and not to mention one of the best songs in malayalam history in terms of picturisation as well..

    Do watch it. All my friends who saw had similar opinions.

  10. Notebook is just sweet and beautiful..An exceptional piece of work from Rosshan and certainly one of the Top 3 movies in 2006. The movie tells about the story of a 3 teenage gals in a brilliant way. Their innocence, love, and friendship are well portrayed. If you like gud movies, don’t miss it.

  11. I saw the movie, and I just loved it. The movie has a few promising new comers and a new & touching story. Thanks to Roshan Andrews for a sweet movie. I hope the above bad reviews wouldnt make the movie a flop at the box office. It is sad that the movie is being compared with “Udayanaanu thaaram” which is entirely a different movie with high stars values.

  12. I saw the movie and I liked it very much and all my friends whoever watched the movie has the same opinion.But I read some nasty comments about the movie (only in Sify and Varnacahitram).I can’t understand the reason why u people support only superstar movies.
    Any way thanks a lot to Roshan and Grihalakshmi productions for this nice movie.

  13. Anish,
    You sound naive. What you see above is comments by other people. The persons who have written the reviews in this review round-up have explained why they liked/disliked this movie. But you are not able to explain even in a few lines why you liked it. VC’s opinions would be
    expressed in it’s review.

  14. Considering that the film was shot almost entirely with newcomers , i must say that Rosshan Andrews has done a good job. I had read many reviews of NOTEBOOK and i’m a little disappointed to find that most of them are rather very critical of this movie which i found very much watchable. I agree with VC about the amateurish script and some tickling dialogues and also with the fact that Rosshan failed to deliver his intended message . But looking at the performances of the three girls we tend to forget those flaws . They have done brilliantly for newbies , particularly roma and parvathy . Both of them have given worthy performances and watching them is like a breath of fresh air , and towards the end Suresh Gopis role as a protective father who backs his daughter during distress will bring a smile upon your face. Out of these three , i liked the one of saira elizabeth the most. To say that i was mesmerised would be saying very little , she’s an actress to be watched in future. I would say it was worth to watch this movie for the two girls(roma and parvathy) alone .

  15. NOTE BOOK: The boldest Malayalam movie ever made on teenagers

    Friends I have watched the movie Notebook twice. I have read the reviews about the film on sites like rediffmail, Indiaglitz, Varnachitram, etc.Iam sorry to say that they were too harsh on this movie. One should understand how difficult it is to make a teenage movie in Malayalam. It is not like in Hindi or Tamil were some good dialogues (romantic ones), some one-liners, songs etc can fetch you audience in good numbers. Nevertheless, things are different in Malayalam movies. Here we do not like melodrama; niether do we like too much romantic dialogues; we want realism and when we get it we say we want entertainment too.
    I do not want to say that Notebook is a perfect movie; but still it is a bold strong movie. Hats off to Roshan Andrews and Bobby Sanjay.Frankly I liked this movie more than Udayananu Tharam.Now about the movie; this is not a mere teenage love story (many have misunderstood it that way).This story has three friends of age 17 and it is about their friendship. All the young actors have given their 100 % to the film. I do not go to the details of the story but would like to mention few touching moments in the film.
    1) When Saira is being fired by the principle and the police officer her father (Suresh Gopi in a cameo) stands by her and gives them back.
    2) The hero Suraj Goes to Sridevi’s house after her death. And even though her father realizes that he is the one responsible for his daughter’s death he lets him go since he had shown the boldness and the character to come and meet them.
    3) The climax; i have not seen much Malayalam movies with such good climaxes.

    This film like Classmates is a film in which each character good or bad; big or small are important.It is very much different from the usual Suresh Gopi, Mohanlal, Mammootty movies where they alone carry the show and the rest are merely in supportive roles or ornamental roles. Above all, it is a female oriented movie; male characters do have importance but it is the female lead lead by Roma who holds the baton in the film. Do you remember the last time u saw such a movie (May be a Nandanam or a Prumazhakkalam).So I request you all to see such movies and support them and encourage its makers to make more of them.
    One last thing; Both times when I went to see the movie and heard some group of people howling for some of the scenes. I never thought those scenes were bad(It happened in classmates also).This is a very poor practice in Keala.If people can’t admire a good movie at least don’t abuse it
    with love;

  16. Visakh, Where did you read the varnachitram review of Notebook?

  17. i meant reviews of other sites highlighted in this site

  18. Hello Dear reviewer,
    I was passing through several of your reviews.I have a strong interest in malayalam movies.The fact that there are not promidsing youngsters in malluwood is due to the excessive critisism belted out to the first timers.
    The 2M’s and their closest accomplices were helped by not having such critisism at their earlier part of their career.There is 1M who still acts in movies that are very off.He does not fit the whole canvas even though his acting is natural what good does it do if he dosent match his co stars.So when you review have the guts to address aspects such as that.
    Note was an attempt to address aspects in the society that evident but not addressed in the proper way.The only people who were addressing similar issues were the ones from the serial factory.The idea is to provide the audience with the facts without too much is a was to entertain the audience within the movie scope but not to distract them.So please refrain from one sided critisism.I felt this while going through your blog of suresh gopi.most of his movies are made within the forecasted budget and they break even and detective,bada dosth,smart city,chintamani kola case and BCIPS were hits and 3 of them were super hits.There should be credit given to him for the massive comeback he made even though some people have not figured it out.
    Therefore making critisism is fine when the bench mark set by the 2M is compared to them.But for the others they are trying to get there so dont belt them instead critisise them with a positive frame of mind and suggest ways for the better.

  19. jikku,

    Commercial success does not mean a great movie. Suresh Gopi movies all look alike. It is like watching James Bond movies. Finally from the title you cannot say if you have seen the movie or not.

    The above reviews are from various sites. Hope you understood that.

  20. I think Notebook is a powerful theme, directed well by Rosshan Andrews. It did a lasting memory and sort of an indefinable melancholy…
    In the present Indian movie industry where pure trash make box office hits, it is not surprising that this movie has had many bad reviews.
    O tempora, O mores!
    By they way the heroine’s name is Sara or Saira? I thought it was Sara but most reviews seem to say otherwise.

  21. in that movie the person which i liked the most was
    i like the others too dont think i like only suraj

    it was a nice movie but when i saw the ending part i started to cry

  22. Sreejith writes
    ‘Andrrews says Notebook is about the love and understanding that should arise between parents and children; but one would wonder how he passed on that message in the movie.’

    Well you need a wee bit of visual literacy to get rid of that wonder.

    Velu writes

    ‘But sadly, the struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future is never really conveyed across’

    Some people want to see a Krzysztof Kie?lowski every time they go to a theatre.Can’t help them.

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