A Blog on Cinema

February 13, 2012
by vc

Asif Ali super Star

He is currently trying to be the next superstar and there is concerted effort to make that happen. The best way to be a superstar is to do the role of an underworld don and that is what he did in Asuravithu. Maybe it was due to A K Sajan’s talented direction, the underworld movie went underwater. Soon it will also have the company of Unnam in the ocean bed.

But then is Asif Ali really superstar material? We don’t think so.

For example, look at Salt N Pepper. There is a scene where he sits in the train and introduces himself to the girl sitting opposite, pretending to be an acquaintance. When he gets caught, his reaction is really terrible. Similary, his scenes with the heroines are really bad. Stacked against seasoned actors like Lal and Shweta Menon, he was found lacking. In fact we will go on to say that he is the weakest link that wonderful movie. He was terrible in Unnam as well.

The performances, except perhaps for Lal, are mostly disappointing. After his dismal show in ‘Asuravithu’, Asif Ali proves once again that he is not yet ready to be an action hero[Unnam Review].

But then we liked him in Traffic. That is a pure adrenalin movie with little time for dialogue with hardly any “reaction shots” and he did a wonderful job in it. But is doing action movies alone sufficient? It won’t take him far since there are others with better physique.

Why are we lowering the bar for these new superstar wannabes? Mohanlal and Mammootty proved their ability in every genre of movies before they were anointed as superstars.

So it maybe a bit early to call him a superstar. He has to prove himself in a range of roles and that is when he will find public acceptance. Till then we say, let’s wait for him to do some excellent scripts as he looks very promising compared to many.

January 22, 2012
by vc

6.5 reasons why Randamoozham might flop

1 Mohanlal: Somewhere along the way he lost the craft of acting. This role, which needs subtlety and controlled acting which was partly seen recently in Pranayam may be lost on this once great actor. He now sleep walks in most of his roles. The Mohanlal of Kireedam  and Bharatham is no more.

2 Budget may be too big to recover. Adding Kamal Haasan may help a bit. But MT’s version of alternative history of Mahabaratha may be a bit hard to digest for non Malayalees.

3 Hariharan had his peak with Vadakkan Veeragatha. After that Pazhassiraja failed in script, direction and music. Now to pull off a bigger effort than Pazhassi might be out of his scope. It might be a better idea to get a bunch of directors instead of one.

4 The book, though only a few hundred pages, covers a vast time scale. It will be impossible to cover such a movie in 3 hours. 

5 The book is very subtle in narrative. According to MT, he tried to fill in the gaps left by Vyasa. Some of the gaps, like Kunti intentionally letting her 5 sons marry Draupadi is very subtly told by MT. There are many such scenes which require talented actors.

6 Lack of good women actors. Both Shobana and KPAC are too old for their respective roles and there are not many others who can fill in that shoes.

6.5 Fans of: Mohanlal, book & MT

December 14, 2011
by James

Best Malayalam movies of 2011

There is still 3 more weeks towards the end of 2011, but I think this is a good time to find out our “Best” artists of the Malayalam film industry for the year of 2011. It’s just a little early but its a good time for an estimate. I encourage all the readers to post your opinions, if you were a part of a jury to give out the awards.

Any way this is what I would give, if I was a member of any award jury.

Best Director – Lijo Jose Pellisserry – City of God
Best Screenplay – Shyam Pushkaran & Dileesh Nair- Salt N’ Pepper
Best Actor – Indrajith – City of God
Best Actress – Kavya Madhavan – Khaddama
Best Cinematography – Shyju Khaild – Traffic & Salt N’Pepper
Best Editing – Manoj – City of God
Best Music (bgm) – Prashant Pillai – City of God
Best Supporting Actor – Jagathy Sreekumar – Urumi
Best Supporting Actress – Parvathi Menon – City of God

Best Film – Traffic- Listen Stephen
Best Popular Film – Indian Rupee – Prithviraj, Santhosh Sivan, Shaji Nateshan

Special Jury Mention:
Jayasurya – Beautiful (actor)
Sameer Thahir – Chappa Kurish (director)
Anoop Menon – Beautiful (screen writer)
Santosh Sivan – Urumi (cinematographer)

Editor’s Note: Reader comments are welcome. Any comments with words ChinaTown, Tejabhai etc would be deleted- vc


December 13, 2011
by vc

Ganesh Kumar: Stop telling us what to do

Minister K B Ganesh Kumar is usually a sane person. First of all he has some ideas on how to get people back to theaters. Second he tried his best to implement his ideas in a state like Kerala which is pretty much ‘anti-anything’. That said we were surprised to hear such an announcement  from him. He says that if the Govt decided to give an award to someone, then that someone better come and receive the award. You cannot skip the award ceremony to make a point about issues like Mullaperiyar which most politicians and film actors are scared to talk about. Of course, he was talking about Salim Kumar’s nemesis Ranjith.

We hate it when the Govt tells us what to do, think, read etc. If anyone wants to skip any ceremony because of anything, it is his freedom. Once you start telling others what to do, then we have  lost a way of life. If Renjith wants to make a big issue out of it, so be it.

All this is because this Government is in the business of giving awards. That should stop. Instead of deciding which movie is good or which script was better, the Government should spend that money and effort in making sure that Mullaperiyar dam issue is solved. Now we have a situation where Government is involved in every aspect of life from arts to literature to what not and is missing from areas where we would like to see them do something.  What we need is to abolish unwanted ministries like the ones which Ganesh Kumar runs and let private industries like the movie industry do what it needs to do.

December 11, 2011
by vc

Comment of the week(Randamoozham)

Jac the reader, posted the following comment on our Post: Randamoozham – Who should act in it?.  From the comment it’s obvious that Jac has internalized the novel.

I just read the comments here. Its very amusing that how people favor their heroes on each cast ! Also lot of replies shows that most of them never read MT’s novel. First of all the novel by itself is a flick, its not Vyasa’s Mahabaratha. It’s MT’s vision of what might have happened in real life behind the whole glory of the epic. I dont know who will be best fit for those roles here.  Bheema is the major character and the Anti-hero in this, may be Mohanlal at the time of his Spadikam and Aram Thamburan fame.  Is he still have that Charisma? I doubt it.

Yudishtira is the most stupidest fellow who loves to gamble and very selfish in the story. No major actor in Malayalam wont fit in that. Arjuna is the glamor boy with all the whims and best friend of Krishna, any 6 Pack youngster will do that.  Krishna, another major portrait of a cunning fellow which is entirely different from the epic hero, this character reminds me Saif Ali Khan in Omkara. You need somebody like that, a man who smiles and earn respect in public but a pure business minded crook in his deeds and he don’t care anything other than his friend. Suresh Gopi is a best fit for Karna, because MT’s Karna, is exactly the angry hero who is a gem in his moral side but always got deserted by his own people.

Kunthi is not just another lady character in this film.  She is a powerful women, who just made the entire story line of Mahabaratha into existence. I dont think malayalam have any actress who can pull up that aristocratic, politicaly motivated ego centric women.  If Seema can be in her better shape(Aarudam) she might be able to do it.  Draupathi is a voluptuous women, who just play it very safe on all sides, but only loves Arjuna, if she had any emotions at all. Its easy to portrait any glamor girl in that role, but she is far beyond just glamor, if anyone can invent a young Rekha here! That will do it.

Rest of the characters are just objects around this major characters. The only significant one is Dhuryodhana- a dumb strong idiot (find any good villan) and Shakuni ‘s role, jagathy can do that very easily.

December 5, 2011
by vc
1 Comment

Memorable Songs from the Past – Episode 1

One of the advantages of music programs like Idea Star Singer is that it brings back to our attention some songs we knew, but had forgotten. Two recent episodes percolated two such songs to our attention. Each of those songs bring joy to the listener. It also tells us that we are blessed to have such talented music directors, lyricists and singers of to bring it to life.

So enjoy.

The picturisation of these two songs are studies in contrast. Srinivasan moves the story through the song. You would be engrossed in the song. The second video , is from the movie Mazhavillu. Wish they had chosen an actress who would have done justice to the voice of KS Chitra.

December 2, 2011
by NikhiMenon

How to Save Malayala Cinema?

Malayalam Film Industry and the word ‘crisis’ are like the ‘Lava-Kusha’ inthe Ramayana. Whenever we talk about Malayalam Cinema we hear someone lamenting:   ‘Malayalam Cinema is in deep crisis’ or ‘Malayala Cinema ICU vilanu’ or ‘Malayala Cinema Nashikkunnu’…   Infact these phrases have are oft repeated  that they have become as stale as any Satyan Anthikkad- Nattinpuram-Pattikutty-Nelpadam-Amma-Makan  script.

What is it with Malayalam Cinema these days?  Is it the ‘OLF’ invasion(my friend whose dad runs a theatre in Ernakulam district says that except for Vijay’s Velayudham’ all the OLF released in recent times have failed miserably after the initial hype and hoopla died down and will cause heavy losses to it’s kerala distributors!) that’s doing the damage?  Or should theMalayalee film makers who make outdated stuff be blamed?  Or is it a problem with the Malayalee audience who prefer watching everything via Youtube or Torrent to going to a nearby cinema hall?

Maverick film maker Ram Gopal Verma recently said:  ‘when a movie flops,itdoesn’t mean that all the money that a producer invested in it has vanishedinto thin air but it simply implies the poor guy could nt make the public pay for the losses that he had incurred from a director ,actor(s), and the technicians involved in making a movie’.  This year we have not only seen many producers going bankrupt making super star disasters like ‘Doubles'(Reels On Wheel Entertainment), Train (Harvest movie makers),  Bombay March 12(RedRose Creations), Teja Bhai Family (Anantha Visions),  Orma Mathram (HorizonMovies ), Arjunan Sakshi(SRT Films) but also some really promising debutant investors making a mark with meaningful yet commercially succesful ventures like  Traffic(Magic  Frames), Salt N Pepper(Lucsam Entertainment), Indian Rupee, Urumi(August Cinemas). One of it’s offering even made it as the country’s official entry to the Academy Awards(Adaminte Makan Abu). So definitely things are not that bleak . It’s easy to write it off by saying ‘Make good movies,we will watch it’. But then were movies like  Sandesham,  Thaniyavarthanam (now considered as cult classics)  hits at the time of their theatrical release?  The answer is a big, emphatic  No!  Here  we try to analyse some possible ways which can at least help the aspiring producers/film makers in  not making big flops  in the future!

1.Make Movies based on realistic/contemporary/innovative themes:

Be it Traffic, Salt N pepper, Indian Rupee, Urumi, Seniors(a sex comedy with a some what innovative premise) all the movies which  made a mark this year had something fresh to offer. The same Malayali who booed and trashed stale stuff like ‘Kudumbasree Travels, Teja Bhai, Ulakam Chuttum Valibhan flocked to cinemas and made movies like Seniors, Urumi hits. Remember, at least 50% of movies success is based on how good the script is, script should be the super star!

2. Recognize your target audience and time the release accordingly:

Like in any other bussiness, movie making should also be based on market requirements. You can’t expect a sober movie like Pranayam (even if how good/bad it is) to do well in a festive season when some quality entertainment is what every one is looking for in theaters. Had it not been released in the long summer vacation period, we don’t think an utter nonsense like ‘China Town would have made this much money. Similarly the lack of competition helped a    not-so-great offering like Make-Up Man a success.

3. Make Movies within realistic budgets:

Malayalam Cinema is a small entity.It’s high time that our beloved filmmakers realised this. Any Malayalam  movie made with a budget of over 4-5 crores(unless it’s a multi lingual with a Pan Indian cast) spells danger(Anwar,Saagar Alias Jackey,Dubai,Pattalam-to name a few). Moreover no Malayali watches a malayalam movie to see gimmicks/pale imitations of their western-North Indian counterparts being played out. What’s the point inwasting crores when all that you have got to show is a hero(the middleaged,out of shape one or the Young/handsome one) dressed in super cool clothes walking in ultra slo-mo  or him riding a royal enfield motor cycle multiple times? The relevant thing here is that even this year’s blockbuster ‘salt N Pepper’ was a super success only in terms of it’s ROI(5.5-6 crores total gross against an investment of 1.7-1.8 crores). No onereally knows what the real figures of big budget starrers like Christian Brothers(rumoured to be around 12-14 crores), China Town(rumored to be around 8-9 crores). If aMalayalam movie is made within a realistic budget (somewhere around 2.5-3 crores) even if the movie fails in the box office ,the chances of the producer recovering his money through the non-theatrical revenue (satellite,Home video,misc rights) are very high. Which means a producer can even go on to make money out of a movie which had done only average business in it’s theatrical run(Manikyakallu – Gowri Lakhmi movies;Janapriyan -SpotlightVisuals;3 Kings – VNM creations ).

4.Sell your movie in un tapped markets:

There is a saying that’ even in Moon,you might see a Malayalee running atea shop. So far the major chunk of overseas revenue for a Malayalam moviehas been from the middle east. Thanks to the ultra quality youtube, Torrent prints we have lost many markets like the U.S. and U.K.where large number of malayalis have found themselves as migrants. However what the producers don’t realize is that if they make the legal prints of their movies available for the NRI users (i.e for IP addresses except Indian and the middle east)in reputed  websites/you tube on a pay-per-view basis they can still make money out of it).

5.Working on the remuneration of the lead actors:

In Malayalam Cinema, it’s often said that more than 60 percent of the Cost of Production(COP) lies in the remuneration of the lead actors. The 2 superstars of Malayalam Cinema are said to charge about Rs.1.5 crores. So for an average Malayalam superstar movie which costs about 4-5 crores , the effective fund for making the movie is somewhat between 1.5-2 crores. We all know that Kerala is not a place where people would simply flock to theatres just to watch a Mohanlal romancing a teenager half  his age or a Mammootty playing a hide and seek with a North Indian actress. If that wasn’t  the case movies like Alexander the great,  Doubles would have atleast got an opening. The other day someone was heard saying:  ‘Don’t make movie with a Superstar unless you have got the kind of money that they ask for’!  But what these people don’t realise is that this concept of ‘superstardom’ is not working in Kerala anymore! Most of the mainstream (higly paid)actors in Malayalam Cinema have their own production houses. From the bussiness point of view don’t you think it would be more viable if the producers (of the 2 M,Dilip,Prithviraj movies) can strike a deal with the production houses of their lead actors and work in a ‘symbiotic’ manner. This means a movie which cause loss to it’s  producer would also mean loss to the actor’s production house(i.e a reduction in the actor’s  standard remuneration) and a profit  means an incentive to the actor also(in addition to his existing remuneration,of say 1.5 crore he would receive a part of the profit also). I believe that If such a system comes  the bigger stars with all the experience that they have got would at least refrain from doing shits like ‘College Kumaran‘, The Train etc and stop betraying their ever loyal audience.

Wishing Malayalam Cinema all the best!

2.The film producers association list of the succesful films list of 2010.
3.The converstion that i had with Mr Nandakumar,Nandanafilms(Thaniyavarthanam,Yadavam et al)
4.The conversation that i had with  my friend who is the son of a leadingfilm exhibitor in the ekm district.

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