Aanandam (2016)| Ganesh Raj | Habit of Life| Vineet Srinivasan

a fun film about students of an engineering college going on their first ever trip together as a class! It does look like a chapter from life in college!

Vaayadi Pennu

We have all gone on trips from our schools and colleges. Aanadam is the story of one such four day industrial visit from an engineering college in Kerala to Hampi and Goa. Since a trip is something we have all been part of with our friends and classmates, the film brings back memories of our own trips. Like I went back to the time we had planned a visit to Hyderabad in the month of September from college or that time when my brother came to Hyderabad with his classmates, and my roommates and I took them around HiTech City to make it look like they did go on an IV 😛 Many memories fall in to place with a film like this.

  • Aanandam means joy (that happiness that comes from the heart)
  • I like that name for a production company – habit of life
  • All new faces – waiting…

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Innale – A Padmarajan Film

hqdefaultInnale meaning, yesterday in Malayalam…

It is the story of a young woman who lost all her memories from her past life after a bus accident. A bus accident far away from where she calls home, a bus accident in which she was the only survivor. The doctors at the hospital tell her to be happy that she is alive. They say that the memory loss is a small prize to pay for her life, the big thing was that she had survived.

The film is set in a hilly town somewhere in Kerala/Tamil Nadu border where the different parts of the town is owned by a single family. They own a hospital, the club, houses.. the school.. so this young woman who has nowhere to go is taken up by the family, as a friend. However, love blossoms and then a lover from her past arrives..the story stops is brought to a standstill, so is their happiness.. in that moment when the past comes into the present and is asked to make a decision!

The peaceful life of this little town is disturbed one night when a bus with pilgrims from northern India meets with an accident and fell into their river. Of all the passengers she survived without any physical injury but her memory was wiped clean. It seemed like she was beginning afresh, making new memories with the new people she found after she woke up. However, she is constantly searching for clues of her past life. As she waits, she falls in love and as is with film, the twist appears in the form of her past. Somebody comes in search for her, somebody who came specifically looking for her..

One of the few films where I love the subtlety in the actor Suresh Gopi. The many instances of situational humour brings alive the film all over again,

Innale.. when yesterday is no more, there is only the present and the future to look forward to… starring Shobana in the lead with Jayaram, Suresh Gopi, Sri Vidhya, Captain Raju in supporting roles.

Anu Menon’s Waiting (2016) Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin

I would say go watch Waiting. Not just for Shah and Koechlin, but for the concept behind the film. Because it is something which people tend to easily overlook. Unless,          they have lived it at some point in their lives (god forbid)

Waiting in front of an ICU or an ICCU, or being a bystander to a dear one (in a state of coma)/admitted to the hosptial for something .. is an anxious moment nevertheless enveloped in a lot of hope. I think that is why even if we add dots after the word waiting it becomes onomatopoeiac, the dots imitating the waiting in the meaning of the word ……..

The film stages a comaradarie that develops between two such bystanders, Prof Shiv Natraj and Tara Kapoor. They are in their different stages of shock, grieving over their spouses who are admitted to this hospital in Cochin. The difference between how two people stuck in a similar situation can help each other is how the film progresses.

The film begins when Tara is informed that her husband has met with an accident and has drifted into a coma. The film follows her “stages of grief” as it were,

However, this could also be an indication that these are the stages Prof Shiv had gone through when he was first informed about his wife’s stroke. He has been waiting for his wife to wake up from her coma for 8 months now. In this time, he has brought back a rhythm to his life around his wife who is in the hospital. It is endearing to see him read to her. At the same time, it is sad to see him wide awake when the alarm rings at 6 in the morning. He passes on his experience to Tara who is a mess in the first-two weeks.

With focus on these two characters, the film is layered with ideas of a generation gap, new age technology, spousal relations, empathy, friendship, human interactions and belief systems.Out of all this, I loved this one very practical line that Shiv tells Tara, (paraphrasing) in a situation like this eating, sleeping and bathing should go on like daily routine. I think it makes a lot of sense. Not just in the given situation but under any circumstance that temporaralily upsets the equilibrium of our lives. I would add, reading, if you are a voracious reader, or whatever one does with their hands in terms of crafts and recreation, and daily exercise..  Here’s the trailer.

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My soft corner for the film also comes out because I could go to Cochin and back in 90 minutes. Familiar roads of my home! 😘

Cross posted @ pins n ashes

Jacobinte Swargarajyam (JSR for short)

Jacobinte Swargarajam, JSR for short, translates to Jacob’s Kingdom of Heaven. The story, set in Dubai, closely relates to real events in the life of Jacob Zachariah and his family who are close friends with director Vineeth Srinivasan.

Given this background, the film is the story of a large family. Even though the word large is an exaggeration, Jacob (Ranji Panicker) and his wife Sherly (Lakshmy Ramakrishna) has 4 kids, Jerry (Nivin Pauly), Abin (Sreenath Bhasi), Ammu & Chris. Each member has a part to play. If you ask whose film is this, it is all of theirs. It is a Nivin Pauly film, so is a Ranji Panickar film, so is a Lakshmi Ramakrishnan film.

Periodic in a way, the film shows the sutures and the ruptures in a family during an extended bad patch they face.

Yama, the Villain in Mollywood (2016)

Malayalam cinema is in a crisis this year. On the one hand, January releases, Paavada, Action Hero Biju and Maheshite Prathikaaram are entertaining the audience with newer emotional experiences. On the other hand, a handful of artists are existing this reel and real world, one after the other.

They may have been growing old, or may have been ridden with major ailments and falling off the face of the earth. Still, to the audience who knew them mostly through their screen presence, it comes as a shock. They may be recuperating from a chemo session or diagnosed with liver cirrhorisis but they continued working. Early one morning when a flash news of Kalpana’s death came, I remember sitting up glued to the television screen in a state of trance. She may have not been my guardian or a friend, but I have grown up watching her on screen for as long as I can remember. And one day when I hear she is no more without the slightest warning, it becomes worse. I can only imagine how her daughter and siblings felt. I was furious when Prof Snape was taken away a few days earlier than her. Rajesh Pillai’s left without knowing the success of his latest project Vettah. The best tribute Malayalees could give to ONV Kurup was to send him off amidst a chorus of the many songs he penned.. Yesterday even Kalabhavan Mani joins the club! God would be in a mood to produce and direct a film, what else can be the answer to such a string of deaths ..

I never realized that a death of somebody I had no personal relation to would effect me in these unexpected ways. But that would be wrong to say such. There is a personal bond. It is forged between them and me, as characters in a film and an audience, as roles they have enjoyed working which has amused me, roles and scenarios which I often remember and quote. Brings into question what makes a personal connection! Great loss. As an audience and lover of cinema I hope Yama puts a stop!

Linking this post to 18I I for Incomplete. ABC Wednesday.

©pins n ashes 2016

Roysten Abel’s The Manganiyar Classroom

I happened to watch this one hour play, The Manganiyar Classroom by Roysten Abel.  What led me to watch this play is a description of an earlier play by him known as The Kitchen. In the kitchen, the two protagonists, a man and a woman are making two pots of payasam (swee dish) live on stage. Now imagine the sensory tickling of the act on stage. It is a visual treat accompanied by those of smell and taste. The actors on stage after making the payasam distributes it to the audience at the end of the play. I was intrigued. I wanted to watch this play and I did to a packed audience.

This play is interesting because the protagonists are children 8-12 years of age, and singers. It is set in a classroom of a government school where a teacher initially dressed in a trouser and shirt tries to teach these boys who are born into the Manganiyar family of singers to study. However, the boys protest against the teacher and his teaching and drives him away. The teacher later returns as a Manganiyar, customizes the school lessons in the form of songs they are used to, the music that runs in their blood..

Here are a few pictures, I took while watching the play. it was a treat. It is a critique on the education systems, pattern of schooling and teaching in general presented through the taal of the traditional instruments, and the songs of these children. I had a feeling of listening to, tapping to the rhythm of Rajastani folk like Dhol Baje..  if the play was performed out in the open grounds I am sure the audience would have been on their feet dancing to the beats of the dhol.. This was an indoor setting.. an ac auditorium, red velvet material for the chairs lined like those of the outdoor amphitheater. Here is a video from youtube for a taste of the musical ride I enjoyed..

Day 2 of the Blogathon’16. I think I should expand from films only to theatre as well.

©pins n ashes 2016

Salt Mango Tree (2015) | Rajesh Nair| Biju Menon, Suhasini, Lakshmi Priya

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Salt mango tree is an inside joke among Malayalees.. It was made popular in a 1980s Mohanlal film. Therefore, when a new film is released with such a title, a Malayalee will obviosuly guess the context. 🙂 🙂

There is indeed a 2015 film starring Biju Menon, Chandrapriya and Suhasini by that name. The film  makes fun of talks about a middle class Malayalee family’s craze and disappointment in teaching their child English and enrolling him into an English medium as they think that it is the language of opportunity.

Salt Mango Tree is a literal translation of the breakfast dish Upma or upumavu in colloquial Malayalam..uppu – salt/ mavu – mango tree in Malayalam. Throughout the film the son is made to remember the English word for animals, things and phenomena as practice for his interview for junior kindergarten. For eg, he says mazhavillu and automatically spells out its English equivalent, rainbow. The film is different because it brings out a solution to train and prepare parents and their children for these (tough) school interviews. Certain truths can only be driven home through exaggeration. Suhasini’s character in the film is one such. I felt it is a little over the top just like her act in love 24×7 (2015)

Like salt mango tree, the new phrase that may be remembered  from this film is elephant rock school, a literal translation of Aanapara. Aanapara is a name of a place in Kerala. (Aana – elephant, para -rock) School

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Now this dish in the picture is the very popular and yummilicious chemeenum manga from Kerala. When translated into English it becomes prawn mango curry. Chemeen (prawn)/manga (mango). It could be solely my quirky problem that I face when I stare at a menu which says prawn mango curry. I am never able to visualize that prawn mango as this light yellow semi liquid gravy made from ground coconut/coconut milk with the heat coming from long green chillies slit length wise. I can conjure up many many dishes with prawn and mango as the core ingredients, but when somebody says chemeenum manga this is what comes to mind 😛
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ChandraPriya is the same actor who played the role of Indrajith’s wife in Angels (2014).

©pins n ashes 2016