A Blog on Cinema

Review roundup: Alibhai


Amidst sky high expectations, Alibhai arrived. Sky high expectation, record number of release stations, festival season – as we mentioned in the preview, this movie might work in box office. But if you go by the reviews,as a movie, it falls short. Reviews were identical in many aspects, commonly used terms being – talks about Rajni like acts (Shivaji Hangover!?), Meesa piriyal, talking directly to camera, lack of story line etc.

tvmtalkies writes 

Story : Mohanlal plays a Calicut based goonda, supposedly based on a real life character Ali Bappu. The story line is he defeats all the villains. End of story. Lal gets introduced around twenty times in the movie; every time Lal comes into a scene, it is in slow motion with a loud, rather amateur leitmotif in the background. There are around 2500 characters in the movie, almost everybody except say my dentist.

Shaji Kailas proves again that he has forgotten movie making long long ago. It is not necessary to release a movie every two months, if they are movies like “Chinthamani”, “Time” and “Ali Bhai”. “Ali Bhai” reeks of the basic Shaji Kailas qualities – sheer lack of subtlety (when Mohanlal says he smells, the camera focuses on his nose) and scriptlessness (there is no script).

Sify,com reviews:

Welcome, to Mohanlal’s mass masala action movie strictly meant for his legion of fans and the crass festival audiences.
Don’t look for reason, logic or story, as the film is all about Mohanlal’s ‘heroism’ and interaction with his mass viewers, and most of the time he talks directly to the camera! Today, audiences in Kerala just want to have a good time by watching Mohanlal, the one-man entertainment troupe, instead of seeing a film which has a storyline and human emotions.

Ali Bhai (Mohanlal) is the uncrowned king of Palayam market in Kozhikode. He is the savior of the poor and downtrodden (Cochin Haneefa, Jagadish, Shammi Thilakan, Ganesh, Sooraj Venjaranmoodu, Vijaya Kumar, Sudhish, K P A C Lalitha, Zeenat etc). Two girls in the market, the flower seller Chenthamarai (Navya Nair) and a tea shop assistant Ganga (Gopika) are crazy about Ali Bhai, but he has no time for love because he is obsessed with taking up and fighting people’s causes. comments:

Shaji Kailas had earlier heard a lot of criticisms for the Mohanlal’s Meesa Piriyal films which have him twirling his moustache. But now in his best of the times, audiences in Kerala may digest having good time by watching Mohanlal’s mass masala action than him in a film which has a humane storyline and stronger emotions. Don’t look for reason, logic or story in harder terms, as the film is all about Mohanlal’s ‘heroism’ and interaction with his mass viewers, and most of the time he talks directly to the camera!

Alibhai is a thorough Lal fare which has him in another hard-hitting performance, most of which we had seen earlier. Apart from Lal, there are very few reasons why one can spend money on this movie.

(Photo Courtesy :


  1. I am totally surprised that people are ready to pay to see such crap! Hopefully people will stop watching these films and put their money on sensible stuff.

    The photo looks unreal! But I love the constipated look on his face :))

  2. Teh total demise of movie culture in Kerala is on its way. Ironically it will be at the hands of these two Great actors. lal is a smart business man. He knows if he release it on Onam day it will fail in a weeks time. hence two weeks in advance release. Such craps will satisfy his hard core fans, but a death knell for the Industry. They do not care about the Industry, but of themselves. Majority of the media ais after them. No gaurantee that even if a good movie comes without them it will run. Now even Dileep’s movie needs to be supported by big directors like satyan, etc the July 4 and Garud are best examples. How long public, whose life is synimous with poor health recors, poor waste management, extremely horrible roads, militant student unions who takes support from other states professional institutions to creat uncertainty in Professional education field, who finds every excuse to stop private enterprenures, Total all aound corruption. land mafia etc etc etc. will suffer such horror acts from the aging actors whose main aim is to creat a vacuum. Pity, when Tamil or even Telugu (forget about Hindi, it got changed a lot) can make sure of a hit is it is having substance we Malayalees suffer from these company. Great going.

  3. Alibhai is the latest example of the creative genius of T.A Shahid & Shaji Kailas! HORRIBLE would be a too generous word to describe this movie. Another Superstar Masala flick made to drink the blood of the poor & unknowing festival audience.

    Sad to say that Varnachitram totally ignored well made movies like Thakarachenda, Veeralipattu & Thaniye. These are the movies that should have got the applause & accolades instead of these brainless flicks.

  4. I’m confused. What do you guys (VC and its regulars) really want? You write articles that call for Malayalam cinema to make blockbusters like they do in Tamil, Hindi, and Hollywood (most of which are crap). When they do exactly that, they are criticized for bringing down the quality of Malayalam cinema. You suggested in a previous article that such blockbusters would bring the audiences to theaters, which would help keep them open, and lead to the overall success of the industry. So, the success of Alibhai should make you happy. Malayalis watching home-made crap is better than them watching imported crap, isn’t it?

    Our small Malayalam film industry is trying to make it against the big boys. As long as it keeps the industry afloat, I’m all for it.

    We still have good movies to look forward to: Ore Kadal, Akasha Gopuram, Paradesi, Calcutta News, and Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s new movie. All in the same year. Our small industry can still dish out some good stuff. I’d like to see that the glass is half full.

  5. I do not recall reading anywhere that there should malayalam blockbuster movies with bad quality.

    Also Alibhai – there is nothing new – same old stuff, atleast Hindi blockbusters like Dhoom has some excellent dance, good music, terrific stunts and locales. Blockbuster movies does not mean rehashing the same story.

  6. The movie is really horrible.I was so unfortunate to watch such a stupid movie .We mallus don’t have the right to criticize movies like Shivaji.

  7. Alibhai ofcourse is a terrible movie.But i dont think that “some excellent dance, good music, terrific stunts and locales” make a better movie after all”.There should be something new or fresh in a movie and you can’t expect that from shaji Kailas and script writer T.A.Shahid.They simply look at Box office success and both lack an important attribute of film making,that is “creativity”.

  8. It is unfortunate that Lal decide to do this horrible movie with Shaji and Shaheed even after he had some doubts about the script. So now the talk is the the movie will make up for all the shortcomings with lal’s acting! Actinginokke oru paridhi illedei?? Shaheed its better you change your profession and Shaji, action/ investigative movies are fine but please read the story and script before you decide on calling ‘action”! And finally to Antony Perumbavoor, your cameo was totally unimpressive, we want Mohanlal as Lalettan and not Rajnikanth!

  9. Shaji Kailas will be remembered as the man responsible for destroying a fine actor. Its amazing that he never learns from his mistakes – be it Thandavam, Nattu Rajavu and now Alibhai.

    Sadly while our malayalam audiences would lap up the same things being shown by Rajnikanth, they need not accept the same when its done by the M and M’s.

  10. I’m looking for a word to describe “Alibhai”. I tried using “Horrible” “Atrocious” “Baseless Crap” and some similar words and everyone looked at me as if I was from some other planet… But I really wanted to make a word by putting all those words together because “Alibhai” is just that and much more…. It is high time Shaji Kailas either quit his profession gracefully or find time to learn the nuances of film making… and T.A Shahid should appoint someone to change the slang of his dialogues [like they did in Rajamanikyam] because then we tend to concentrate on the dialogue delivery & we can thus forget about Shahid’s lack of creativity… “Alibhai” has some useless dialogues, not to mention different versions of slangs [of the malayalam spoken in Kozhikode] by every actor… Mohanlal speaks like someone from trivandrum trying his hand at “Kozhikkodan Bhaasha”… Gopika hangs on to thrissur slang & navya to the village slang [god knows from where! defenitely not alappuzha]
    Apart from all that… what on earth was Mohanlal thinking while doing the interval scene [not to mention the director/writer’s lack of creativity and stupidity] in which the villain calls Mohanlal a “Choo____”. Sorry guys, i dont want to use that word… because it is not worthy to mention in a place like this as well as to someone like Lalettan…
    Phew! what else can i say?? Mr. Shaji kailas… you better go to kailasa or kaashi or some jungle where you might go unharmed… because very soon you are going to be thrashed black & blue by the enormous group of Mohanlal fans for trying to ruin Lalettan’s career again with baba kalyani & alibhai… No, we haven’t forgotten Thaandavam & Naatturajavu.
    And for god’s sake people, please don’t say that “Alibhai” is a hit. it’s just been a week and i saw someone mention it as a blockbuster… ha ha… As far as i know, the theatre was not full unlike what was the case for “Hallo”… and ya, the movies from other languages releasing here in our state is not “imported crap”. Why should we import crap when we have loads of it here in the form of Mr. kailas, joshi & many more? Movies in tamil, telugu & hindi are defenitely superior to our movies in content, technology & success ratios… Ofcourse, there are exceptions… but look at the brighter side…
    And as for poor malayali folks, the brighter side would be that movies like “Ore Kadal” and a film by adoor & also some neat commercial films from young directors are on the way for Onam & Ramsan… wait & watch!

  11. Guys as you know Anthony Perumbavoor is nothing but the benami of lal, he is actually his driver. And for all of your kind information, it was lal who went to Shaji kailash and asked him to come up with any such crap and that he can pump money through Antony Perumbavoor, this will salvage his ageing career. Industry insiders says that when Lal was going thru rough patch he signed up Balettan with a b-grade director whom he had shooed away in the past. Then he went on to make patch-up with Satyan Andikad whom he had discarded earlier to make Rasathantram produced again by his benami, followed by Baba Kalyani. and again out of desperation he asked Blessy (Kazcha) to come up with some movie and Blessy had no choice and thats how Tanmatra was born.

    Mr.Lal refused to understand that he is growing old and with all that wig and crappy dialogues things will not work. He almost finished Thilakan career and now the so called superhero is out to finish his own. All this while did anyone notice Mamooty getting so desperate to hold on, but even he is getting better project and he does not need to woe anybody. Lal is frustrated that Mammooty is getting more mileage. One should realize that this guy will never allow young guys to enter malayalam film industry and those who have dared to do so he has not worked with him…like Kamal, Vinayan, lal jose etc., but who is the loser here.

    Lal should better go back to his restraurant and start baking porottaas!!!! atleast people will remember him as one of those fine actors.

  12. It was during the shooting of Pattanapravesham and at Perumbavoor. The taxi driver who was supposed to take Mohan Lal to some location, didnt turn up. Someone asked a driver named Antony to be the replacement. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Antony has been his man friday, secretary, manager and benami producer.

  13. What does “benami” mean? I couldn’t find it in the dictionary.

  14. benami means doing bad things using your driver.

  15. Don’t look in Gundert’s dictionary. Look in a dictionary that was released after Antony became MohanLal’s driver.

  16. Benami is a legal word and means “in the false name on another person”

    Many commentators here seemed to have disappointed by Alibhai. I wonder what they where expecting.

  17. Wanna be Rajnikanth

    Lets check some facts first. Mohanlal’s rate was 80 lakhs in last year. Now he is drawing 1 crore for the last two three films. For his forthcoming film “College Kumaran”, its 1.25 crore. The next Roshan Andrews film coming in the March, his asking rate is 1.5 crore. Here we can see around 100% increase in the salary in one year. There is no case of reducing the amount once it is increased. When a producer pays such big amounts, what will be his benefit. Then Lal should be able to promise grand openings for his films. For this grand opening, the fan base must be strengthened. The major part of fans who are dying to watch the films at the opening days are the low class youth in the society. (This is the same in Tamil and Telugu). This strengthening procedure is happening through ChottaMumbai and Alibhai etc.. stories(?) highly rooted on lower class of Kochi and Calicut.

    The films based on heroism are there only in south indian films(Telugu and Tamil). Malayalam was not there in the league till some recent times.

    Now there are many publicity stunts and functions happening for the last two months regarding Mohanlal’s new films. The pooja events are common in the cinema related programs in tv. But it is different case when it comes to prime time news in the channels. The below mentioned 4 incidents were reported in the prime time news in Asianet.

    1) The pooja of Alibhai and birthday celebration of Lal was conducted at the same stage in the presence of fans. Lal in full getup of Alibhai and made the mustache twirling (meesha pririkkal) for the fans in the stage. Its all for the hype creation.

    2) Many of you know the notorious place “Chenkal choola” colony at the centre part of Trivandrum city. Two months ago, there was a function organised by the fans association for receiving Lal and in his speach, he told that he has immence relationship with the place. Trivandrum is the largest fan base of Lal. So its all needed to satisfy the fans there.

    3) Imitating Sivaji’s promotion, Hallo’s film box was brought to the releasing centre in a procession of elephant. (i think it was in tvm)

    4) Latest film “College Kumaran” ‘s pooja was also reported in the news, though it was a simple funtion.

    These incidents are getting reported intentionally in the prime time news. All these publicity stunts are neccessary for the hype creation and to strengthen the fan base for ensuring initials for the forthcoming movie. I haven’t seen any Mammooty film’s pooja news in the prime time news. Now before 1 or 2 days of the release of Lal films, we can see paper ads of Lal fans association making best wishes to the film. Hallo’s first thanks giving in the title was “sincere thanks to Lal fans association”. ie films are for only fans. Anyother guy worked behind the film comes only second. All these are my observations. I haven’t seen any such attempts by any other actors in Kerala.

    In short a wanna be Rajnikanth attempt is happening here. Repeating soulless type films with Shaji Kailas for marketing heroism. Trying to boost and market the heroism. Universal hero tag.. Rajni style introduction.. Creating enough hype before the release and the people gets disappointed after the film. Some months ago, Shaji Kailas told in his interview that he will never direct Alibhai. That interview was published in many magazines. And at that time he made Baba Kalyani. But now he created this crap. It is 100% sure that Lal had forced him to create a “Shivaji”. Only for dragging his career. Underestimating the Kerala viewers will not benefit our cinema. We understand all major language films and there are enough viewers for quality films in Tamil, Hindi and English. We are the most recognised viewers in India along with Bengalis even among the foreign film makers.

  18. I agree with Nikhil up to some extent…I watched Alibhai in one of the releasing centers after a few days of its release.The theatre was pretty much empty but the theatre owner was forced to run the movie for weeks by the producer.Lal wants to build the fan base but it is definitely affecting the quality of movies recently.

  19. Mohanlal knows that he cannot remain as a full time hero in the industry more than 5 or 6 years. After that he will not be able to make 5 or 6 successful films in an year. May happen one or two hits. It will surely reduce his number of films. The youngsters are invading slowly. By that time he want to make a Rajni effect among his fans and to remain as a bankable superstar, who gives one or two fans oriented masala films in an year.

    He is already facing enough critisism in the interviews. In Asianet, Jaihind,and Manoramanews interviews, he was pathetically trying to slip from the questions regarding the publicity stunt for his recent films.

    Sreekandan Nair(Asianet) asked him “Are you trying to bring Rajnikanth to kerala?” Lal replies “Rajni once came to my aayurvedic hospital at palaghat”.

    In Jaihind interview, Lal says “I will agree to do a bad film if the director requests me again after my initial NO to him. The film is their fate.. not

    Can anybody accept this excuse for crap films from a great actor who has 28 years of experience. Dont he have more resposibility towards cinema and audience?

  20. Only in malayalam film industry, an actor uses his driver has front man to produce films. Where are the tax authorities, who in world can believe a driver can produce films with product costs worth multi crores..
    Btw, Lal was in US for the past one month giving some boring stage shows. Guys like Jagdeesh with hm saved the show. There was even a big fight by people disappointed by the show in one of the locations and police had to be called.

  21. I too saw Mohanlal’s show in New York. The twice national award winning actor sang at least 10 songs. Whenever Lal came on stage for singing, audience used that opportunity for bathroom break. Probably Lal doesn’t care, of late he’s been reveling in the adulation of brain dead fans. Antony Perumbavoor made an appearence too. There was an announcement that next year there will be a movie with Lal, to be fully shot in US, of course co-produced by Antony Perumbavoor. As the previous commenter mentioned, Antony must have been the highest paid driver.

  22. this was one pathetic Show. Kalabhavan Mani shows are much more entertaining as that man puts his life into the performance. Mohanlal’s talent is in acting and I don’t know why he kept on singing and that too without any music sense.

  23. Actually Mohanlal didn’t sang any of the songs on stage there in US. In Rajesh’s comment, the fight of the audience is mentioned, even with police interfering. The reason for the fight was that all the songs were played through track. Lal was only making lipsing(dubbing)for the songs. It was the main provoking factor for the US audience.

    I saw it in many blogs.

  24. in 1990’s while lal had acted in ‘namukku paarkkan munthirithoppukal’, his pay was 55k. The total cost of the film was 22 lakhs which means his pay came only to 2.5% of the total film cost. Now it has shot up to 33.33% plus. 1.25 crore against 3 crore plus.

    I would call this “slaughter tapping”. When the rubber tree gets aged cut is made from bottom to top, to yield latex from all possible parts. Lal is getting old and he is aware of that and he is trying all the game in the box. The same applies to mammootty too. And to support these veterans there are chaps like anwar rasheed, amal neerad. I doubt these two guys keep a close watch over the bright associate directors that their mileage is enhanced by the talented freshers makes their bombastic debut putting their skills in their first film.

    Anyhow there is a saying “make hay while the sun shines” and the veterans are going in that way. The pathetic part is that in Malayalam we do not have substitutes to replace them. We have only one pritvi who do not have the calibre to make the film with his protagonist part. Malayalam silver screens definitely need fresh blood.

  25. Someone mentioned here that Tamil cinema is in the hands of young directors. Actually in Malayalam too there are bright young directors. Roshan Andrews, Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed to name a few. but why are most of these guys going after these two superstars? Of course, Roshan Andrews tried to make a movie with new comers, but from what I hhear he’s ready to make another one with Lal. It’s like a vicious circle or shows the control these two actors have over Malayalam cinema.

  26. In Udayananu thaaram ,Sreenivasan openly made fun of the superstars-Especially Mohanlal…I think we all remember the characters Jagathy and Sreeni played…Superstar and his dance master they produce all their movies and want to do all kinds of business.(Porotta,pickle etc.)…..

  27. another dialog.. “nammude nattumanga’ aanayanu chenayanu ennu vaarikakalil okke kaashu koduthu ezhuthichenkilum, producerinte andam keeri ennanu kelkkunnathu…” superstar’s assistant makes all the paid post publicity in weeklys and magazines. The same is happening here also. And a lot of blind fans believes it too. I know many fans saying Alibhai is superhit..

  28. Mohanlal should face the mirror and slap both his cheeks exclaiming “What have I done, what have I done” for acting in such a filthy movie.

  29. MohanLal’s Alibai bombed big time. (Even though posters in trivandrum city say it has completed 50 days!!).

    Incidentally Shaji Kailas’ father passed away almost at the same time of Alibai release. There was a joke going around (albeit in poor taste) that he had watched Alibai!!

    Lal’s image also took a beating after his spate of interviews during Onam in Asianet, Indiavision, Manorama Vision etc, where he admitted his vices.

  30. Antony forced Lal to do the movie and now he is paying heavily to some theaters to run it to save Lal. But the viewers who go there can see 80% seats were empty from 3rd week onwards. Second week itself the movie fell flat to 60%. lal is doing too many mistakes as what he did in 2000-2002, where he nearly made an exit. He is the best one but he has to select roles that do good for Industry and Public.

  31. Ummn…are you forgetting that Mohanlal starred in Udayananu Thaaram? If he can laugh at himself and the sorry state of affairs that’s a good sign. And if he’s admitting his “vices” publicly that the first step to rehabilitation. AA anyone?
    Seriously though, why should the blame for these dreadful movies rest on Mammooty & Mohanlal’s shoulders? How can a state that boasts 91% literacy not have sufficient resources to produce great scripts & films?

  32. The problem just may be our high literacy rate. The audience in Kerala are varied. Some like art house movies. Some like Hollywood special effects bonanzas. Some like Hong Kong martial arts movies. And so on.. And these are not small pockets like in other states, but significant proportions of the population. It’s hard to come up with a script that will please everyone. Only “Classmates” has done that in recent history. But you can’t keep making movies that look back at the good old days.

    With the high cost of production for movies now, it’s not surprising that producers are hesitant to take chances. So, a good script is not necessarily what we need. Of course, when you have an audience with such varied interests, it’s hard to agree on what makes a good script. What we probably need is a better business model.

    In Tamil cinema, you see product placement in the middle of a movie. This can be a way to raise money. In the Vijay movie, “Aathi”, he hands a packet of biscuit to a little girl and says the product’s tag line. That particular example looked rather corny, but if it can be done creatively, it could work. Hollywood does it all the time. In fact Hollywood now raises most of the money for the production before shooting ever begins. So they don’t risk going bankrupt if a movie bombs.

    Another solution is government subsidies. It doesn’t help the state if Malayalam movies are being shot in Tamil Nadu and Andhra. Governments all over the world have realized the importance of the movie industry to the local economy and are doing their best to promote it.

    I don’t know what will or will not work in Kerala. But, betting the farm on a single movie is not sustainable.

  33. We cannot pin it down to high literacy rate for then you cannot explain the long queues for Dhoom and Pokiri, movies are insults to intelligence.

    People seem to be looking for well packaged entertainment and do not seem to care about the story. Movies like Thommanum Makkalum, Mayavi etc. had a decent run and there is nothing new in those stories. One thing is for sure, people don’t want to see highly emotional and depressing movies like Karuthapakshikal anymore.

  34. A high literacy rate may explain the varied interests. In other states, only the Pokkiris and Dhooms are accepted. In Kerala, the Ore Kadals, Thanmatras, Kazhchas, Arabikkathas etc are also accepted. I also read that we have one of the largest film festival audiences in the world. I LOVED “Ore Kadal”. I also enjoyed (not without some guilt) “Pokkiri”.

    Mindless entertainment, whether made in Hollywood or Kollywood, can be valuable at times. The numbing effect is very soothing. Who wants to be thinking after a hard day at work?

  35. In other states movies like Paruthiveeran, Chithiram Pesudhadi, Khosla ka Ghosla, Bheja Fry etc are also running to packed houses. Of course, movies like Sivaji and Pokiri rake more moolah due to the star power, but I think the audience there are willing to see well made off-beat films also. So it has nothing to do with literacy.

  36. How about Mammootty?

    does he get into this sort of business as well?

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