Archive for the ‘(Malayalam)’ Category

Excellent: (Malayalam) Bharatham

Classical arts, particularly Carnatic music, are something I generally value very highly.  So coming across a film which is either based or revolving heavily around classical arts can either be a real gift or an embarrassment, depending on its implementation.  However, considering the esteem with which Bharatham is held, I went into it with great expectation, and was not disappointed in the slightest.  The movie as a whole is of very high caliber in scripting, direction, and acting.  Right from the very opening credits sequence, which superbly provides both a visual and musical prelude to the story while also introducing its characters, it is very clear that this is a film made with care and purpose.  It is ostensibly a mixture of a family and musical drama, with the second half leaning more towards the former, and manages to deliver a familiar idea in an exceptional way with only a few, subjective missteps.

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(Malayalam) Agni Devan & Mayamayooram

Haven’t posted in some time, and thus there is a list of both newer films (Payanam and Aadukalam seem like worthwhile attempts) as well as older ones (a bunch of Revathy, K. Viswanath, and Kamal Haasan films mostly) that I’ve been planning to write about.  Before that though, there are two Malayalam Mohanlal-Revathy starrers that I viewed some time ago, and it’s about time I wrote something on them.

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Good: (Malayalam) Varavelpu (1989)

Short article this time, since Varavelpu is fairly straightforward to describe: a Keralite by the name of Murali returns home after working abroad for 7 years.  His siblings are hoping he will use his money to start ventures with them, but instead, he buys a bus and starts up “Gulf Motors”.  The film is about his trials and tribulations as the owner of his bus (and company) as he deals with inspectors, socialist leaders, poor workers, and some less-than-admirable siblings.  There is a subplot involving a local girl, Rama, who injures herself on his bus and starts to take advantage of the situation, but it is fairly minor – this is a film that does not veer very far from its course.  There are no songs (apart from background songs during montages), no explicit “comedy” bits, and the only trace of generic elements is an action sequence towards the end.

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Great: (Malayalam) Kilukkam (1991)

When you start delving into Malayalam cinema, there’s only so long you can go without hearing someone mention Kilukkam, which apparently was one of the most successful films ever in its state.  Due to its reputation, I was willing to hold out until I got my hands on a subtitled DVD – which actually exists – in order to understand every moment of dialogue.  As always, there are of course complaints to be made – both about the movie as well as the actual DVD – which I’ll get to later.  But I certainly don’t have any trouble understanding why this film is held in such fond memory.  Overall, I found it to be an extremely enjoyable, fun, and clean film.

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Excellent: (Malayalam) Kakkothi Kaavile Appoppan Thaadikal (1988)

This one cemented its place on my favourites list very shortly after my first viewing.  It is a wonderfully down-to-earth and simple movie with a universal appeal.  There is absolutely no cinematic excess or glutton, it is a pure and simple fable brought on screen.  People often like to distinguish between “masala” films and art films, with the latter being assumed to be about sad, heavy subject.  But this is a perfect example of a movie with no “masala”, yet is perfectly enjoyable in every way.  A real gem.

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Great: (Malayalam) Kattathe Kilikoodu (1983)

Titling a film is an art in itself.  That’s why I always make a point of mentioning whenever I come across a good title, and this one definitely merits a mention.  I assume it means “A Bird’s Nest in the Wind”.  That is really a very evocative way of describing the essence of the movie, which is about a close family who finds their close bonds shaken when a “gust of  wind” passes through their lives.  The latter refers to a young girl, Asha, who becomes a student at the university where the father of the family teaches.  She has a boyfriend, Unnikrishnan (a young Mohanlal) who forms a platonic bond with the father’s wife.  However, this doesn’t sit well with Asha’s childishly possessive nature, and she retaliates by attempting to create a romance with the father, causing a rift in the family.

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Good: (Malayalam) Devasuram (1993)

Devasuram is an interesting movie that alternates between being captivating and being predictable.  Unfortunately, it’s true that the film is filled with a lot of masculine histrionics and a by-the-numbers “save the heroine” finale.  This part is a shame because the film also has another, better side which focuses solely on characterization.  The main character, Neelakantan (Mohanlal), begins the film as a rather unlikable chap with a bit of an ego – culminating in a scene where he severely insults a classical dancer-neighbor (Bhanumathi) who vows to renounce her art until he has died.  These words seem to have cursed him, as his life begins to go downhill from this point.  The film deals with his discovery of a secret in his past and how this reforms him into a better person.

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