Shyamaprasad’s Ivide (2015)

These are the days when I do not miss to watch the films of two actors, Prithviraj and Nivin Pauly. Shyamaprasad’s Ivide had both of them in leading roles so it proved to my advantage. To me, watching Ivide felt like watching an episode of say, Criminal Minds, CSI or Castle, because the attitude and tone of the film was very American. American in approach except for the fact that the main cast are three leading actors of the Malayalam film industry. Shyamaprasad has succeeded in creating that illusion of an american urban space and its ethos.

Ivide sets out to tell the story of three Malayalees settled in the city of Atlanta in the backdrop of an American IT workforce steadily losing jobs as a result of the new policies on outsourcing work to countries namely, India.

The film begins when Bhavana is recruited by the Nivin Pauly led firm as part of their project team. Bhavana is also Nivin’s classmate from school. Prithiraj plays the role of a cop in the city police force, also Bhavana’s ex husband and the father of her daughter. The plot of the film runs as a diary in his head and the film is narrated from his point of view

The plot thickens when details of their personal lives spill out. Prithviraj’s life is such and such because he is a Malayalee  adopted by American parents when he was 7 years old from an orphanage in Kerala. As a result of which, the man has internal conflicts leading towards a kind of rootlessness.. he knows no Malayalam although he was born to Malayalee parents, he is an American citizen by adoption but feels less American for many reasons. Nivin Pauly is the brain behind bringing and turning around a company which sold oil into a successful IT firm.

The plot gets a further dimension with the murder investigation assigned to  Prithviraj and his partner. The first man to be murdered is an Indian in the timeline of the film. The murder story is up to you to watch and solve. If I dwell more on the causes and reasons of the murder, I may just solve the mystery here in the blog post, so watch the film for where it takes Prithviraj and how it intermingles with the lives of the characters played by Nivin Pauly and Bhavana.

Unlike Premam, the film caters to a niche audience because of the prolific  use of the English language. It is not a Malayalm film set in the US, but seems like an American film with a few Malayalee characters.

In addition, I feel it falls more into the category of drama rather than that of a crime thriller because the crime and the investigation are not the driving forces that take the film forward. The relations between people are a key to understanding the film, between employers and employees, what the axim blood is thicker than water does when it comes to taking core decisions, the sweat and determination of people to become successful, unhappy married lives, internal traumatic personalities and finally reasons for killing another human being ..

English is the main language of the film because of the location, there is also Malayalam, and Tulu/Konkani, a little Tamil… the presence of more than one language among an umbrella group called the Malayalees presents the diversity.

The surprise package was the dubbing – Prithviraj and even Bhavana speak flawlessly in an American accent coupled with their mannerisms, from their walk and talk, they seem to be born and brought up and settled in the States for a long long time! A well made film… recommended

©pins n ashes 2016

Charlie (2015) Kerala State Award 2015 Best Actors male & female

Charlie is a 2015 Malayalam film directed by Martin Prakkat with Dulquer Salman and Parvathy in the lead, supported by Aparna Gopinath, Nedumudi Venu, KPAC Lalita and Kalpana, Neeraj Madhav et al. The film is narrated through the journey of Tessa (Parvathy) who goes in search of the tenant, Charlie (DQ) who stayed in a room she rented before her. Among his things he left behind, she finds an unfinished graphic novel. With it begins a search for the rest of the story, the tenant who drew it and a direction for the plot.

The story of Charlie begins thus. It would have been an ordinary story if not for that room, its exquisite interiors with its crafty stairs, paper lanterns, tinted bottles, wind chimes created by the art director, Jayashree Lakshmi Narayan. We enter with Tessa into Charlie’s world through this house, through the caricatures he has drawn of the people he has met and observed.. And stories some of those people have to say about him… Like he says, “what if we are not real and somebody’s imagination”. Sameera Saneesh dresses Dulquer in some very uber cool colourful attire to bring a very touristy feel and a feeling of lying lazily on the beach .. It brings alive the carefree life Charlie leads .. Through Jomon T John’s lens spanning parts of cochin and munnar (i think) a little more of the ever so loving, sanguine and enigmatic nature of Martin Prakkat’s and Unni R’s Charlie is revealed.. Tessa falls in love with the stories she hears of Charlie and the image she has sketched of him.. And goes in search of him..

Between Charlie and Tessa, Charlie is brought up by his father who has given him the freedom to explore his potential. But Tessa turns out to be the rebellious daughter who runs away from home to pursue her music and animation career against her families plans for her. So, her every step is seen as an effrontery in the eyes of her family where as Charlie has such qualms, he is born, brought and lives like the free bird.. the film gives us two characters who almost at the face of it lead the same kind of life.. But, there is a big but.. Through the banner of Finding Cinema, a very apt banner, the producers have tried to explore cinema taking the art director and costume designer also into their confidence to see what happens if Charlie and Tessa are let loose. The film with its choice of props, locations, shots, aesthetics, narration and depiction make an ordinary love story magical and exciting..

All that said and done, Charlie would have been a better film if it had a stronger storyline. The film comes alive in its moments… These moments or episodes are scattered accounts of Charlie by different people. The supporting cast – Nedumudi Venu is a joy to watch, his interactions with Charlie are just spot on.. Kalpana, she is no more as of this morning has a poignant but small role which moves the plot forward.. Dulquer, he has carried off the role of this character well, an extension of his Aju in Bangalore Days except that here, he is backed by his father in his every endeavour. Parvathy as Tesa has given an excellent performance different from what her role and period demanded of her as Kanchana in Ennu Ninte Moideen. The transition in her is worth a watch ..

I felt the first half a tad bit slow, but the film picks up pace in the second half… For the rebellious.. this is their film, .. It revels in such quirkiness and rebellion, from the dress to scenery .. It upsets the stereotypes of the society and its expectations, but shows that benevolent souls exist.

One highlight of the film for me was nobody dies, ails or is diagnosed with those bigger illnesses like cancer or some such… Usually films that build up momentum towards a certain character brings about the climax with such a revelation. Even if Charlie’s character is built up to be this Good Samaritan, the rescue man and benevolent soul like other reviews have said… he is still active and living life, dreaming everything in double by the end of the film.. (like Bunny says in the climax of Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.) A feel good film.. A happy film..

Watch it for Dulquer, for Parvathy for the art director, costume designer and the cinematographer… A creative film where a lot of thought has gone into the prepping the look. Distributed by Mammooty’s PlayHouse, directed by Martin Prakkat and written by Unni R, all from Mammotty’s film camp.

©pins n ashes 2016

Oru Vadakkan Selfie

Verdict: If you can survive the first half, then the film becomes nicely tied up, scripted, well acted, who-dunit of a second half. But one needs to survive the first half which is a pain

Oru Vadakkan Selfie as the name suggests revolves around a selfie.. the mention of a selfie brings in the use of the smart phone and as a result FB. It strings on to the subject of online friendships, virtual friends, relationships.. these are the key ideas of the film. However, the film is not preachy about how to use the internet.. its good and its bad.. it presents a situation, a situation anyone can get into.. however, how it is taken forward in the second half is the real deal. Ya! but one needs to survive the first half.. a first half of some crass slapstick comedy, some cheap humour, some major over acting..

The director G Prajith and the script by Vineeth has tried to extract the humour the character Krishnan PP uff our Kuttetan of Bangalore Days brought out in Nivin Pauly. But that is where it exactly fails.. his humour almost becomes a joke.. and one wonders, he was too well directed by Anjanli Menon in his earlier super hit film. I have grown to be a fan of this man’s acting… from Arikil Oral to Bangalore Days ..

Aju Varghese brings to the film the role of a Jagathy.. but calling him Jagathy is going a little far too much.. It leaves a bad taste, in Malayalam as we say, it becomes Vallippu….Vineeth Srinivasn does really well… loved him, his voice, gesture, posture.. everything about him in this film..

Manjima who is the new face here has a start, but not the kind of a heroine’s start .. but we as an audience has known her for many of her roles as a child artist of which one of her lines from the film Priyam echoes almost all the time the naughty innocence she exuded during those years.

Then there is Narayan Kutty of Sapthamashree Taskaraha.. I always call him that after that film.. Neeraj Madhav is a treat, especially if you have seen this latter film recently, this role is a contradiction to the one in the Selfie.. he had a tiny but significant role in Memories. I used to confuse him with Sreenath Bhasi until Taskaraha.. Incidently, he is also the choreographer of the film.

Oru Vadakkan Selfie is not the regular Malayalam film. It seems to be post modern in the ways in which some of the songs are shots, lyrics are written.. and in its the self reflections.. be ready for surprises, it starts off as a boy gang film, changes track to a romantic comedy somewhere along the way and turns into a whodunit road film towards the end.. For me the second half worked well, if not for the person I went with to watch the film, I would have walked out during the interval.. but then, I wished the last scene was not added as well, which brings back the not so good memories of the first half.

A literal translation of the title is one north/northern selfie..  but then the essence of it goes off.. it is more useful and more apt to translate the title as “A Thallassery Selfie..” which gets together every idea of a vadukkan selfie..  Thallassery is a place in Kannur district on the Malabar Coast in the northern part of Kerala, it also is the locale of the film, hence the ‘north’ or the vadakkan in the title..

Picture: Google Images