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.

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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

Premam (2015) snubbed at the kerala state film awards

After two back to back serious films, Neena from Lal Jose and Ivide from Shyamaprasad, Premam comes as breadth of fresh air, light in its approach with a lot of fun rolled into its making. In its idea, it is a new film, a fresh take on the same old, boy meets girl love story from the point of view of just men. Now this little detail has to be kept in mind throughout the film otherwise it can lead to problems as to the absence of a feminine voice in the script… One area where the director Alphonse Puthren excels in is his editing skills, and that editing ensures the film stays with its pace.

For starters, if you haven’t seen the three films, then I suggest you watch it in this order..  first watch Neena… follow it up by Premam and then watch Ivide.. to get out of the hangover of Ivide you could watch old Malayalam film like, Akare Akare Akare or Boeying Boeying.. 🙂 I watched Neena and Ivide on consequetive days and was unprepared for the heaviness in the subject matter that was portrayed, epsecially in Neena. Neena looked so deceptively naive from its posters.

 

     
    Vinay Forrt and Soubin Shaheer in Premam-PT Mash-Vimal Sir  

 

The story of the film is built on a concept of the bildungsroman of its central character, George David played by Nivin Pauly. The time span of the film stretches from his final year of pre-degree to when he is 30 and gets married. It is the story of how he falls in and out of love with two girls and finally ends up marrying the third. However, the second love story, if it can be called a love story, is the crux of the film, the most refreshing, and the most talked about, the most imitated, and what Premam as a film has come to be now, known and remembered for. The combination of the black shirt-white mundu, the kalippu song sung by Murali Gopi and Shabarish, the character of Sai Pallavi as Malar, the tamil-malalayalam conversations, the stage show, the  humour worked out between Vinay Fort and Soubin Sahir, Vinay Fort teaching java, vinay fort owning 900 acres of pear (sabarjalli) orchards….easily, it is one of the most remembered part of the film.

Premam as a boy’s journey from his school days to his 30s with his ongoing relationship with this idea of love and his friends is a treat because  visually, the transformation of the boys plays a major turning point in the film, each stage of the transformation brings with it its own mannerisms and an attitude towards life. The two women if not three, have made a mark… Malar is a heartthrob by now, Anupama lost out in the race, though she is still remembered for her bushy hair combed to one side. Madonnna needs to make her presence felt, because among the three she was the invisible one. Anupama appeared in the promos and for a long time before the release was considered to be the only lead opposite Nivin. After its release, it was Malar all through..

Now, if you ask me whether Nivin Pauly looks like a pre-degree student I have no one answer for it, I will have to draw a parallel from Raju Hirani’s 3 idiots in 2009 and tell you we all did assume that Rancho played by Aamir Khan was 17  or according to the film’s time period, even younger. Nivin’s Pauly’s character can be thought of and compared to Surya’s and Dhanush characters in growing up stories in the Tamil industry.

I don’t know to what degree this film will appease the current school and college goers, it seems to have created an influence and Nivin Pauly has been transformed into the status of a superstar after its release.. but, that said, it will definitely bring in a kind of nostalgia for Malayalees who passed out of school about 10 to 15 years ago. This batch born in the early to mid 1980s has grown up with say, Hrithi Roshan becoming an overnight sensation with his Kaho na pyaar hai, and now the upcoming patisserie business, so the context of the film is relate-able. Plus the college Puthren has chosen as the locale is UC, which is different from the other college campuses in other campus films like Niram (1998), Nammal (2003), Classmates (2005/06) and Chocolate.

I just fell in love with Nivin’s acting all over again in the film.  I feel I am going on to like another actor just I like Mohanlal! …And Malar, the character played by Sai Pallavi.. from her voice to her dance.. I think by now, almost everyone who watched the film is in love with her.. the element of fun hidden in the lines spoken by the PT Coach … 17 new comers.. including the director of Om Shanti Oshana, Jude.. Alphonse himself in a cameo role… The film is a box office hit because of a variety of reasons, the lyrics of the songs are taken from every day conversation.. so easily picked up, sung and hummed. The dialogues are minimal and when they are spoken are realist. It could easily be something we would say … There is a naturalness in the acting and the way the story is told.

I would say, watch it…. a fun ride, a note to women and girls, keep aside that it is a story from a male perspective, keep aside the age difference in an ending similar to the other recent film, Vellimoonga, to the rest of the film critics, keep aside those Tamil films which presented the growth of a protagonist (bildungsroman as we technically phrase it among literary students) from boyhood to a man.. watch the film for its own sake..

The tricks of the film lies in its intertexuality.  Oh man! there are certain scenes when Nivin Pauly’s gestures look very similar to Mohanlal, those I feel are the subtle lines of inter textual references being played out in the film, even though I suspect Puthren and Pauly are big time Mammotty fans. It looks like Puthren wants his audience to remember Mohanlal, the way he looks, the way he walks out after a fight, rolling his mustache, folding his mundu.. Revel in these if you are film fan..and regular movie goer.. now when Jojo’s says vellam, every Malayalee will remember Manichitratazhru, Mohanlal and Pappu. The background score to Ranji Pannikar’s one scene can be enjoyed wholly only if the audience knows that he was the one who wrote all those mincing English lines for Suresh Gopi in most of his cops films of the 1990s.

I enjoyed the film to a packed audience in the theater. But that being said, I don’t feel like watching this film from start to finish again, and I don’t know the reason why.. ! I would definitely like to see it in parts..

alphonse and friends are a film loving groups and it shows.

ps: the featured pic is a poster from google images.

©pins n ashes 2016

Action Hero Biju Abrid Shine & Nivin Pauly

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Action Hero Biju begins a new genre within the police story in Malayalam films. It has the same honest officer in the likes of roles played by Suresh Gopi, Mammootty and Mohanlal. However, the story does not revolve around a single case or “the verbal diahorrea”* scripted by Ranji Pannicker mouthed by our earlier superstars. Abrid Shine brings through Sub Inspector Biju Paulose the day today workings in a police station and their interaction with the common people who come to the station. First off, the police hierarchy is clearly defined. Secondly, the focus of the film is on different kinds of complaints they receive daily, the people who make those complaints and the police procedures of tackling them..

As a result, what is crime gets to be redefined in the context of Police stories in malayalam films .. While crime gets redefined, so does a victim and a villain.

Crime could be an employer not paying salary to an employee, somebody slapping another person on the road, a drunkard creating a traffic block, a theft in a house, over speeding, not wearing a helmet….   These many scenarios also give the director an oppotunity to bring in newer faces, there are about 15 or 18 newcomers who have brought in that kind of real feel to the complaints. This actor in the picture below is Suresh. He has written, composed and sung this song in this film. You need to watch the film to experience why seeing this man makes me lol 🙂
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There are some old faces too whom we have loved on screen before.. Devi Ajith, Rohini, Suraj, Jude Anthony, Meghanthan, Prashanth, Vinduja Menon…

Suraj takes the cake… If only this actor can find himself more roles like these so that he can transform from a comedy star into a character actor like Siddique & Sai Kumar.

Thirdly, the film ticks because of its very tight script that keeps all the episodes together.

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Fourthly, the story of the film is free from the inspector’s personal life. But the romance between the inspector and his fiance is captured really well especially through the song composed by Jerry Amaldev, sung by Yesudas and Vani Jayaram through the streets of fort Cochin.

Nivin Pauly in a police uniform is as good as Kuttan and George of his earlier films. Some of his facial gimmicks are too good to miss. But since we have grown up watching suresh gopi and the rest, we may not feel that punch initially..

So if we are carrying that baggage it is better to leave it at the ticket counter when we decide to buy the ticket.

But that is exactly it.. The film is not about an action hero delivering such punches, it is about a sub inspector, his circle inspector and the commissioner who try to do their duty and maintain the peace and order in the city.. The foil and reminder of such earlier films is also done in an interesting way.. !

©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