varnachitram

A Blog on Cinema

MovieMazaa Review: Katha Parayumbol

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Story telling is an art in itself – one that has as its prerequisites three imperative traits; characters with potential, a decisive plot and cautious attention to detail. A good narrator does not use these in isolation; rather he spectacularly weaves them together in a vibrant fabric of creativity and comes up with a mind boggling story in which they are indistinguishable to the rapt audience.

Balan (Sreenivasan) is the local barber at Melukavu, who leads an uneventful and almost passive existence, and except for the occupational haphazards that have been eating into his life, his worries remain minimal. Until Ashok Raj, the reigning superstar, (Mammootty) arrives for a film shoot amidst much aplomb, and the village gets to know of an alleged camaraderie that once existed between these alarmingly dissimilar souls.

Katha Parayumbol is indisputably one of Sreenivasan’s best compositions of late, in that it manages to redeem a few facets of the writer whom we have sorely missed over the years. The writer wages a battle with the actor and comes up trumps; the story that he dares to tell is one that is told with a whole lot of heart, and hence remains absorbing throughout. The benchmarks of the yesteryear Sreeni scripts are for once, discernible yet again; the remarkable simplicity and the witty structuring of affairs, the pleasant laughs on offer and the distinctive illustrations. And they’re conveyed with such conviction that you’ll catch yourself believing every outlandish detail.

Sreenivasan as Balan is apt; yet another extension of his self-hypnotic persona that is fitfully funny in his usual way. He makes the simplest off the cuff lines burst into life, and we find ourselves laughing at observations that might, in the hands of a lesser actor, land with a thud. Mammootty gets to play Santa Claus this Christmas, and wades in fabulously with a climactic surprise. He is bright and blustery and is a revelation, a supreme sweet froth of poise, bravura and unstoppable confidence.

The cultural slice that Sreeni puts up on a salver deserves all the consideration that an impeccable delicacy demands. Beneath the flimsy decorative toppings lie the sturdy pieces of analogies that are playfully arranged along the margins of a society under scrutiny. Every guffaw that it offers is invariably coupled with a moment of introspection, the result of which is as astounding as it is totally fulfilling. Sreeni does something different with Katha Parayumbol; he sets the story as his focal point, the human drama, and the passion of it all. Rather than attempt a colossal sociopolitical declaration based on a notion that does not require to be further examined, he watchfully links his inventive images with a potent exploration of human life and the vital desire to be remembered. The story does succumb to an over dosage of dramatics in the end, but not in a repellent manner. I find the outlook of it all, and the fundamental message of love and family, to be brilliantly elevating, for this is a thoroughly enjoyable, good-natured movie.

Katha Parayumbol is beautiful in the way it looks, but more importantly, it’s beautiful in the way it resonates. It’s a rewarding unique film that is well worth the time it claims for its earnestness and inspirational candor that is vividly brought to life. And above everything else it abundantly displays the calm urgency of a story that so badly wants to be told.

(Crossposted at MovieMazaa)

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35 Comments

  1. From the review it looks like a good movie. So is this the last week Romeo will be in theaters? :)

  2. i had gone to see romeo with lot of expectation after long time rajasenan was teaming with rafi meccartin but film was a total dissappointment tip is that dont go for this film with any prejuicedments

  3. Hi

    Review well written. Nice language. Didnt see the film though.

    Regards

    Diju Jose

  4. Katha parayumbol is a well made movie, and the climax is superb. Mammootty gave a startling performance in the last two sequences. while flash going to be a nightmare for mohanlal. one of the worst film ever made by sibi malayil. contentwise and formwise the film is nothing but waste of money and time. the only saving grace is the intelligently manipulated climax by the script writer even it is a cliche in these days.

  5. Velu,

    Wonderfully penned! Hoping to see the movie soon.

    I was searching for reviews on the movie and reading this I knew, its you.

    Keep up the good work!

    Regrds

    Riyan.

  6. Thammil Bedham Thomman!!!
    This is much better than other two christmas releases -Romeo and Flash….Not up to old Sreeni movies .But still has some normal people with emotions …

  7. Pingback: Ormmakal » Blog Archive » Song from Katha Paryumbol

  8. “Alpanu Arttham Kittiyaal Arddharaathrikkum kuda pidikkum.” Movie Mazaa’s atrocious review of “Katha Parayumbol” can be summed-up thus in Paccha Malayalam.

    A writer who is caught up in what he thinks is the beauty of his own language, gets lost in presentation, rather than focusing on what he actually wants to say.

    Mazaa’s language is not in the least poetic, as some seem to think – but rather – pompous, immature and very often stylistically awkward or just plain wrong.

    Here is an example:

    “Balan (Sreenivasan) is the local barber at Melukavu, who leads an uneventful and almost passive existence, and except for the occupational haphazards that have been eating into his life, his worries remain minimal.”

    “Occupational haphazards” is not English. The correct expression is “occupational hazards.” (“Haphazard” is an adjective/adverb, not a noun.) Even if Mazaa had used the correct phrase, occupational hazards don’t “eat into one’s life.” That is a horrible mixed metaphor.

    Here is another terrible line: “Mammootty gets to play Santa Claus this Christmas, and wades in fabulously with a climactic surprise. He is bright and blustery and is a revelation, a supreme sweet froth of poise, bravura and unstoppable confidence.”

    How exactly does one “wade in fabulously”? Beware the adjective and adverb! They are the refuge of those who have nothing to say, but nevertheless want to give the impression of intelligence.

    Here are some of the unnecessary words Mazaa uses in these mere two sentences. “climactic, bright, blustery, a revelation, supreme, sweet, froth, bravura, poise, unstoppable” – God save us from bad language! Why not simply say “Mammootty gives a great performance” and leave out the rest of this childishness?

    If Mazaa were to write this same passage in Malayalam, even Balarama would not dignify it with publication, let alone a respectable adult forum.

    In case our readers are not yet convinced, here is another gem: “The cultural slice that Sreeni puts up on a salver deserves all the consideration that an impeccable delicacy demands. Beneath the flimsy decorative toppings lie the sturdy pieces of analogies that are playfully arranged along the margins of a society under scrutiny.”

    The first sentence makes no sense in English. Is Mazaa trying to say that a discerning audience would like Sreeni’s screenplay? The second sentence uses an even worse metaphor, if that is even possible, given the nonsensical nature of the first one!

    It seems that our misguided reviewer is now trying to compare Sreeni’s writing to a decorated cake.

    Mazaa, friend, if a cake were anything close to “sturdy”, neither you nor I would go anywhere near it, let alone eat it, for fear of ruining our teeth and getting indigestion.

    Moreover, “a society under scrutiny” hardly lends itself to “playful arrangement” along the “margins.” “Margins” of a society generally refer to people who are poor, powerless, disenfranchised, etc. Why would you compare them to a decorated cake, that is “playfully arranged”?!

    Here is how Mazaa could have said it much more effectively: “The well-narrated story is not simply entertaining, but sheds light on many problems in today’s society.”

    I am well aware that the words that I have used here in critiquing Mazaa’s language have not always been the simplest ones. However, I had to resort to using such high-fallutin’language so that the various readers of this forum who are sadly bedazzled by Mazaa’s unfortunate English, may not think that my problem with his review is a lack of familiarity with the colonial tongue.

    Mazaa, if you have something to say about a movie, why not just say it directly? Those of us who frequent this website, do so to get information about and insight into Malayalam movies, not to see who can fake English better than everyone else.

    You seem to have something to say about movies, and spend a lot of time putting reviews together. While we appreciate your efforts, a lot of us would like it much better if your language was less pretentious and more direct.

    Here is some advice: Don’t be afraid of short, simple sentences! Use as few adjectives/adverbs as possible. Beware the metaphor! Don’t use words and expressions whose meaning you are not absolutely sure of.

    These basic guidelines are appropriate for writers in Malayalam, English, or any other language for that matter. Thank you for your work. Here’s hoping that you take some of this advice to heart.

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  10. excellent keerimuri alex

  11. Thanks, Alex. I’ve been hoping someone would make a comment about this. No offense, MovieMazaa. Your reviews are always right on, in my opinion. However, keeping it short and simple would make it easier for everyone — the readers and you.

  12. [Quote Alex]I am well aware that the words that I have used here in critiquing Mazaa’s language have not always been the simplest ones. However, I had to resort to using such high-fallutin’language so that the various readers of this forum who are sadly bedazzled by Mazaa’s unfortunate English, may not think that my problem with his review is a lack of familiarity with the colonial tongue.[Unquote]

    If you had reasons to resort to high sounding language, how can you expect Movie Mazaa not to do the same for reasons of his/her own? Your analysis smacks of self-centredness and animosity and nothing else man.

    If I were you, I would credit Movie Mazaa with the benefit of doubt of a typo regarding the ‘haphazard’ factor. Surely it doesnt make sense to me to feel that a person who writes so elegantly wouldnt know the difference between haphazard and hazard. And regarding your lecture on adjectives and nouns that follow, they are immensely more pompous and immature than the review that you are trying to dissect.

    The reviewer has not used the word sturdy to refer to a cake, and has instead used it in relation to analogies – analogies can indeed be strong and sturdy, Mr. Know-All-Alex. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with “wading in fabulously’ since ‘wade in’ has the meaning of ‘moving effortlessly’ contextually.

    [Quote Alex]Moreover, “a society under scrutiny” hardly lends itself to “playful arrangement” along the “margins.”[unquote]
    You have just proven that you are convoluting ideas for the sake of creating a confusion and nothing else. You do not even have a proper point to make as you have just established here yourself. For, it is not the society that lends itseef to playful arrangement; rather the analogies are playfully arranged along the margins. Margins, as in fringes and edges, Alexie!!

    After having gone through the two instances in which you have attempted to convey the ideas more ‘effectively’, I would say, thanks, but no thanks. And after this erudite critique of yours theres one thing that we the readers are sure of – to keep your advices at a pole’s distance and read what we really like to read. Like Movie Mazaa reviews for instance.

  13. I really dont understand why there should be such a big uproar regarding the language used in a film review, especially since the reviewer himself has not been making any tall claims about his language proficiency. Personally, I love his reviews and admit that I am a regular reader.

    As someone said in a similar discussion regarding his last review, nobody is forcing you to read his reviews. If you like do read, or else let him write in peace. Why should someone have a problem with that?

  14. It seems that my comments have caused some upheaval both here and on the Movie Mazaa blog. But I don’t regret making them. My intention was merely to try and do my part in keeping our reviewers’ writing honest.

    I really appreciate the directness of VC’s style. It conveys what needs to be said, is metaphoric when it needs to be, and does not try to overwhelm us with “poetry” from beginning to end.

    It should be noted that I am a great admirer of poetry. Real poetry comes from a depth of experience and often deep personal pain that causes one to seek out metaphors and connections that are difficult to express using a more direct language.

    However, when “poetry” becomes an end in itself, it succeeds only in confounding the reader and sounding fake and dishonest.

    I believe that good writers should above all be honest and sincere in the content, style and tone of their writing.

    To answer Sam:” Nobody is forcing you to read his reviews. If you like do read, or else let him write in peace. Why should someone have a problem with that?”

    Sam, blogging and the internet have transformed writing into a more participatory and interactive process. What a reader has to say about a review is just as important as what a writer has to say about a movie. That is the new reality. What that means is that the writer is more vulnerable to “instant critique.” But so is the commenter. I have received as good as I have given (from you and Vinu for example).

    Vinu, my use of “high sounding language” was merely to demonstrate that I was not critiquing Mazaa from a position of ignorance, but rather, from one of disappointment. Re. your reference to my “lecture on adjectives and nouns that follow, they are immensely more pompous and immature than the review that you are trying to dissect:” You are right, and your point is well taken. I did go a little overboard on the schoolteacher bit. But that was not without purpose.

    I was merely trying to show that writing should not be undertaken carelessly and without regard for the basics of language and style.

    We Malayalees have a great heritage of honest writing (both in Malayalam – Basheer, Zakaria, Satchidanandan, etc. – and in English – Arundhati Roy/Shashi Tharoor, etc.). Honest writing is of course not easy. It requires one to work hard on a direct language and look deep inside onself for the truth of a particular message.

    I think we dishonor our heritage and end up making ourselves look rather ridiculous when we resort to the kind of fakery that is sadly becoming more and more prevalent.

    Sajeev and Karthyani – Thanks for the props.

  15. This is what MM wrote in his blog in reply. Fundu reply

    #Alex#

    LOL!

    1. I am honored. That u devoted so much of space and time for me.

    2. Your attempts to convince me of the futility of my attempts at reviewing just bit the dust. Sorry abt that! ;)

    3. To engage in a meaningful discussion with you is out of the question. Since logic works only with people who are ready to listen to and accept someone else’s viewpoint. Definitely you wouldnt belong to that category.

    4. I am surprised that you find my reviews atrocious, and yet FREQUENT this site. Surely you would have something better to do with your life than that?? :P

    5. A few of my readers are ‘bedazzled by my unfortunate English’ and you seem to have a major problem with that. But I dont see why? Do I smell something burning here?? :P

    6. Why do you have a non-accessible profile, Alex?

    7. “Margins” of a society generally refer to people who are poor, powerless, disenfranchised, etc. – Alex dear, I REST MY CASE! :P

    8. God save us from bad language! Why not simply say “Mammootty gives a great performance” and leave out the rest of this childishness? Use of not-so-commonly words amounts to childishness! You got a few more of these gems, by any chance?? :P

    9. Several of the statements above are sarcastic. I had to mention this and just did not have a choice, since you seem to suffer from an utter lack of basic common sense, and seem to have difficulty in reading considerably lengthy sentences, and connecting across simple concepts scattered across. And hence you might have missed the sarcasm, as you have missed several other vital points.

    10. The next time around, try less of flaming and more of logic. you might not end up making as ass of urself, as u just did.

    Gud day!
    :)

  16. Alex is not the only one to complain of MovieMazaa’s language. What’s wrong with trying simplicity man? The kind of language that MM uses is victorian — you know the kind that was spoken during the time of Queen Victoria. We were still colonized back then. Now we are free. The world has moved on to a different type of English. It’s called modern. In modern English, the norm is to use short sentences that are to the point. Long sentences are okay if it’s necessary. Otherwise short is the rule. I learned that in English class — at an American University. Buy any good book on essay writing and it will tell you the same thing. You should try visiting the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC etc. You know, the newspapers where the articles, including movie reviews, are written by native English speakers. That’s where you are likely to learn modern English. Also try reading modern fiction. No one speaks or writes in such long sentences anymore. Or use the kind of expressions you use. Except maybe Indian degree holders intent on flaunting their credentials. It’s juvenile. Grow up!

    The following sites are excellent places to learn good review-writing language:
    - movies.nytimes.com
    - rottentomatoes.com
    - filmcritic.com

    I think you should try writing your name and credentials under your review. Ex: John Doe, PhD. Once you get that out of the way, you can relax and focus on what you’re trying to say.

    I’ve read your review before and never said anything about your language even though I found it quite annoying. But after reading your reply to Alex above, I had to say something. It’s okay to not know English. It’s understandable to use improper English. After all it’s not our native language. But you actually believe it when people say that your language is good. If a malayali who learned Hindi in a Kerala government school, praises someone else’s Hindi does it mean anything? Oru muri mookkan thannode paranju, “good English”. And that was good enough for you? If you are even remotely serious about becoming a writer, you should listen to the criticism about your language.

    And before anyone says that I should stop coming here, I already know that. I used to visit the site daily. Now it’s only when there are new Malayalam releases, just to see if the other sites missed anything. It’s not as if an NRI like me has a lot of choices. You should add one other thing to the list of things that ails Malayalam cinema. It’s a scarcity of Malayalam movie-related websites. That’s why we are forced to come here, even if it’s just occasionally.

  17. “Steele has brilliantly dissected the intellectual perversities that present blacks as dependent victims, reduced to trading on their moral blackmail of whites who are eager to be blackmailed in exchange for absolution. But Steele radically misreads Obama, missing his emancipation from those perversities. Obama seems to understand America’s race fatigue, the unbearable boredom occasioned by today’s stale politics generally and by the perfunctory theatrics of race especially.”

    That is George Will, the columnist, writing in Washington Post. Maybe this American did not learn English from Rotten Tomatoes.

  18. ROTFL. Going by Kartyayani’s logic, Adoor should stop making movies like Anantharam and instead make movies like Chotta Mumbai and Chocolate. These people would have prevented Krishnan Nair from writing Sahitya Varaphalam and Mukundan from writing his novels. In their wonderful world everyone would be wearing same color dress. EveryOne would be writing Bobanum Moliyum since cartoons are easier to read.

  19. What surprises me is that Karthyani suggests in the first comment that s/he finds the Movie Mazaa reviews ‘right on’. And when Movie Mazaa reacts to a comment on his blog, blows up like a fireball. JUST LIKE ALEX!

    Karthyani, it doesnt make a least difference to any of us readers here to know that you learned at an American University. Its common knowledge that Indians speak and write better English these days than the natives. Stop the sucking up and GROW UP, as you yourself said!

    And theres absolutely nothing to be annoyed by Movie Mazaa’s response. As a person who has been reading his blog for a few years now, I have seen the way he responds to people’s comments. And he has been civil to all criticism. And Alex’s comment above is less criticism and more of a vicious attack personally on the writer, as has been rightly pointed out. Its criticism for the sake of criticism. And the least bit constructive, as has been proven time and again.

    We have already had a long discussion regarding long sentences and Victorian-in-your-opinion style. No purpose in starting all that again. And the NYtimes as well. Yeah. So how about something else?

    I feel you suffer from a major US-bred-desi complex that is simply brimming over in your comments. When you spit at the Goverment school bred Indian readers who unfortunately happen to frequent this website along with you – the Murimookans in your language – you speak a lot of yourself. It demands no further explanation.

  20. Deepak
    That was right on the spot.
    Great quote.
    It couldnt have been explained any better!

    Sunil
    Exactly. And we should keep stuffing our mouths with simple, short and senseless statements, avoid new words, and suscribe to NYTimes and Washington Post and listen to the BBC. And if God permits, study in an American University.

  21. [Quote Alex] However, when “poetry” becomes an end in itself, it succeeds only in confounding the reader and sounding fake and dishonest.[Unquote]

    A google search on Art for Art’s sake might help clearing up your blurred vision.

  22. VC talks of comment guidelines and all that. And yet publishes nonsense comments like Karthyani’s without a second thought. For that matter, even Alex’s comment needs to be shown the backdoor for the kind of moronic venom that it spills. As Vinu said earlier, he tries to make a point and falls flat, as neither his arguments nor his theories hold any good. Its just a whole load of crap, that goes on and on.

    What VC could least do, is to enable moderation. And by that I mean sensible moderation. I know that it takes a few hours to get a comment published at VC, but thats all that theres to moderation at VC.

    I was surprised that Movie Mazaa was maintaining a dignified silence all this while. Its good to see him delivering a knockout punch though on his blog.

    I wish people like Alex or Karthyani would leave us readers alone and let us decide for ourselves what we need to read and what we shouldnt. Spare us the advice folks! And credit us with a little more intelligence. Plz!

  23. I would suggest reviews to be a bit more simplistic. Afterall, the purpose of a review is to give the reader a general overview or summary of the movie, rather than making him scramble for a Dictionary or Thesaurus for de-crypting the language used !!

    Unless its being sent for some Saahitya Akademi Prize, the reviews are for the common man to understand, who may or may not have a superior skill in English.

  24. Its sad that this discussion, instead of shedding light on this wonderful movie, has deteriorated into a discussion on writing styles. MM’s writing style is disctinct and sometimes not straight-forward for layman. But no one should demand that everyone in the worls write in the same style. Let diversity prevail :-)

    Of the 3 movies I saw during my recent Kerala vacation, “Katha Parayumbol” stands out as the sole winner. The other 2 (Romeo & Flash) are absolute trash with recycled story threads from successful old movies.

    I was particularly annoyed at Sibi Malayail since my expectations on ‘Fash’ were much higher due to his re-union with Mohanlal after more than a decade. How could he blatantly make a lame movie with story situaions very similar to pshycho/crime thrillers like Manichithrathazhu & Vismayathumpath?

  25. Its sad that our dirctors/script writers always go for the time-tested formula.

    I recently watched Taare Zameen Par – a simple and touching story which had a superstar also – but he came just before interval. Why cant our directors experiment on such diverse subjects – of course the marketability can be increased if you add a superstar to it also.

    Katha Parayumbol is another example. Incidentally Priyadarshan has bought the remake rights for Katha Parayumbol – no prizes for guessing who the barber is gonna be. :-) – who will no doubt have a song with skimpily clad girls wielding shaving cream, razors and what not!!

  26. Kishore Kumar, Some people keep coming back like broken record players with the same complaints, “MM should write his reviews this way, he should not use that word” etc. I am sure even for MM’s next review these people will come back.

    But as you said, it takes the focus off that excellent movie. 2007 is really Srinivasan’s year. He was able to shake off that disastrous Bhargava Charitram and come back two winners. I think Katha Parayumbol is the best december release and is one of the best movies of the year. Also, Mammotty has to be saluted for having such good sense. Maybe not having vices like Mohanlal helps.

  27. Kishor

    As Deepak said, its no use crying foul here. There are a few people out here who cook up arguments for the sake of arguing, put up ridiculous analytical reports and try to pass them off as authentic, when in reality they are just the opposite. The best way to let these people RIP, is to ignore them totally and to carry on reading what we like best.

  28. Alex/Karthyani has a valid message but i think you are trying to hijack the blog by reviewing the reviewer.. . Mazaas diction is a bit pedantic and labored in places but at the same time it is fun reading. Hey sports writers and movie reviewers and so forth are allowed some latitude in the (over)use of metaphors and flowery diction. Reviewing is somewhat different than reporting/story telling. But Mazaa I think you will do well to go easy on the heavy artillary :) .. there I think we can meet halfway. Tharoor and arundhadhi roy by the way are not the best out there tho.. “smell of shit hung like a hat over the village” from roy is labored writing..Tharoor is a bit too “honest” to the point of appearing tactless.

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  31. I was searching something else, suddenly stumbled upon this site. I couldnt stop leaving a comment. The movie is worthless trash and if anybody has not seen the film, i would strongly suggest you not to waste your money and time [language edited out - ed]

  32. I enjoyed the review of the review more than the review! Alex is spot on in his observations.

  33. I dont know whats wrong with you guys who keep on whining about the language used in the review. Its simply elegant, stylish and polished.

    For those of you who crib that the review needs to be simple and factual, with lots of the story thrown in, it wud do a lot of others plenty of good, if you stuck to reading all those mediocre reviews available out there aplenty.

  34. An issue out of a non-issue? It has been long since I got to read such a fine piece of writing, and I feel the outburst against the review is purely a matter of jealousy.

  35. occupational “haphazards” – Phew! All English dictionaries take note, new word alert!! Haphazard is an adjective, not a noun to have plural form.

    wades in fabulously with a climactic surprise. He is bright and blustery and is a revelation, a supreme sweet froth of poise, bravura and unstoppable confidence. – Sweet Lord of English! Where is the Booker, Adiga step aside, we have to give it to this Mazaa(wo)man.

    Reviewer’s language aside, Katha Parayumbol IMHO was an ok movie, an interesting story, but would not include it in Sreenivasan’s Greatest Hits – Vol 1(which will definitely have Vadakkunokki Yantram, Sandesham, Vellanakalude Nadu etc) If you insist, maybe in Vol 6.

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