Archive for the ‘Movies’ category

Kandaswamy

September 2nd, 2009
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NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Kanda, Kanda, Kanda, Kanda…Kathai Kanthal!

There’s been a lot of hype about this movie for the last two years. The reviews so far are mixed. Some say the movie is good, while others not. For me, the movie is carries a well-used plot of corruption, black money, vigilantism, and religion, till some people say its a mix of Robin Hood, Sivaji the Boss and Anniyan. For me, this is a Comedy movie due the amount of laughter in the cinema. Its not really an action or romantic flick.

The story is straight forward. India is grappling with “black money”.  Income earned without proper proof and not taxed. These money is the laundered overseas or hidden from the Income Tax department. The story starts with a comedic “cocky” act by Vikram (dressed up as a rooster) who drops down from the roof (ala Jayam) and bashes up Mansor Ali Khan, the local police officer. Why? Because Mansor took the money that a lady surrendered to the police. The money was actually given by Vikram to the lady’s family. Why you ask? Because the lady prayed to Lord Kandaswamy (Murugan) in Tiruporur (near Chennai?) to ask for help since her husband needs money. You see, temples in India(and Malaysia) would have a tree where people can tie things to send their requests to God. So in this particular temple, people can write their problems and tie on the tree branches, hoping that Lord Kandaswamy will answer their prayers. The temple priest are in cahoots with Vikram (whose name is also Kandaswamy) and will pass the request slips to him. Who is Kandaswamy? Well he is an income tax officer who is anguished because all their cases takes long time in court, and the seized money lies idle. So, he and another 11 friends (hint: flashback time) team up to deliver the wishes of the people by taking up the form of a rooster, the symbol of Lord Muruga. That’s when the comedy starts. Whenever Vikram appears as a fowl, its looks funny. The imitation of chicken walk was nicely done with lots effort, but still can’t resist laughing.

The story continues where Vikram’s department raids crook PPP’s (Asish Vidyarthi) house. To avoid further questioning, he pretend to get a stroke. Only his assistant YG Mahendran (wasted talent here)  knows this. His daughter Subulecthumi (Shreya), who thinks Kandaswamy is the cause of her father’s stroke and vows to avenge him. She tries the “he tried to rape me” formula but fails miserably. Next is, yes you guessed it, – “i’ll make him fall him love with me until he becomes crazy” strategy. Boring stuff, but plenty of eye candy.

The story of Lord Kandaswamy appearing in the various forms – rooster, old man, young lady, etc to fulfill the makkal’s request or to teach a lesson to those who deserve it gathers momentum. Naturally the police led by Prabhu start their inquiry.

After a some time, Kandaswamy gets caught, not by the the actual cops, but by bad guys pretending to be cops, a setup by PPP. Left with no choice (Shreya was about to be molested by a prisoner as part of the process to get Kandaswamy to admit. duh!), Kandaswamy agrees. Kandaswamy then realises its a trap set up by father and daughter team. Kandaswamy also reveals why he did the robbery – a flashback involving the loss of a limb of his friend. He admits to his “crimes” and PPP uses the admission to blackmail Kandaswamy. Every raid Kandaswamy makes, he wants 50%.

The story drags on, with timely comedy by Vadivellu, including some scenes shot in Mexico where Kandaswamy goes to get in touch with the money laundering agents. Oh ya, the director Susi Ganesan makes a cameo here as a CBI officer who tails Kandaswamy to Mexico.

To cut the long story short (it was a 3 hours and 15 minutes movie!), Kandaswamy manages to catch another big crook and also gets arrested. Since there’s no proof that he was the one who actually helped the makkal (so said the judge) he was freed, but ordered to be transferred to another state. In the last shot he is shown being in a temple, and when walking out, takes a paper from a tree (ala Anniyan ending).

Story wise, its partially OK. There are holes here and there, but passable.

Acting wise, Vikram did well in the various roles, but Kandaswamy seems to prove that Shreya can’t actually act on par with other actress of substance. You might as well replace her with any other models and still the movie will go on. I don’t think both of them had any kind of  on-screen chemistry at all. Frankly speaking, I kind of got turned-off when the duo was on screen together.

The villains were quite comedic as well menacing.  Prabhu acted well as a police officer bent on revealing the truth about the persons behind the apparitions.

Comedy is the strength of the movie. The main attraction is of course Vadivellu. Without him, it would have been a below average movie. Villains, Vikram, Prabhu, YG Mahendran, and other actors also provided the laughter.

In terms of direction, the movie seems to stumble along and scenes fitted in to showcase Vikram’s talent, instead of strictly adhering to the movie. Some scenes are totally unnecessary, like the Mumaith Khan’s dance (waste 5 minutes to provide a 3 second dialogue – “can afford to pay 30 lakhs for a dance”). The scenes where Vikram’s team set up the cables and wiring, and conduct the stunt are not believable. Looks like inserted just to please someone.

Songs – Lots of modern beat. My favorites are Idhellam Dupe, and Excuse Me Mr Kandaswamy. The visualisation for Allegra looked messed up, probably trying to do some medley or combo dance sequence. En Peru Meenakumari is unecessary in the movie, but a catchy song nevertheless. Miow Miow also same – disjointed and irrelevant to the movie.

Cinematography is OK. The temple scenes, and song scene in Mexico was nice to watch.

Cast: Vikram, Shreya, Prabhu, Vadivelu, Ashish Vidyarthi, YG Mahendran (and Susi Ganesan the director)

Genre: Comedy, Action, Romance

Acting : 7/10

Story : 5/10

Special Effects: 6/10

Cinematography: 7/10

Overall Oomphness: 6/10

Note: Saw this movie in Big Cinema Sitiawan last weekend. Crowd was about half full, and not so noisy, so could enjoy the movie.

Tamil songs I listened to recently

June 9th, 2009
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The Tamil movie season picks up again. Though I’ve not been watching Tamil movies at cinemas of late, I’ve been listening to some of the songs aired over radio and Internet.

Some new songs are worth listening. Unfortunately, the much anticipated Kandasamy doesn’t impress me. The songs are irritating at the moment. But I kind of enjoyed “Idhellam Dupe” song. Others like Mambo Mamia, Excuse Mr Kandasamy, Meow Meow, En Peyar Meenakumari, I’ll give it a miss.

Angadi Theru has one song banned in Minnal FM, but the hit song is of course “Avval Appadi Ondrum Alaghellai”.

Kunguma Poovum Manjal Puravum has one superb song – “Chinna Sirisu”.

Much awaited Nandalala movie by director Mishkin has a standard Illayaraja tune – Mella Oornthu Oornthu which brings back memories of the early 90s tunes.

TN-07-AL-4777 starring Pasupathi has one famous song – “Athichudi”. Yup, THAT song.

Another movie in the pipeline is Adhe Neram Adhe Idham. The song I like in that movie is “Mudhal Murai Unnai Paarthe”.

Some older songs worth adding to your playlist (2008/2009 movies) are:

Laadam – “Siru Thodutalile”

Ali Baba – “Hare Sambo”

Aanandha Thaandavam – “Kallil Aadum”

Ayan – I like all the songs in this movie.

Siva Manasula Sakthi – “Oru Kal Oru Kannadi”

What about you guys? What’s the recent playlist like? Tamil songs only please. 🙂 I don’t really listen to other songs.

Next posting will cover few other movies like Thoranai, Sarvam, Pasanga, Yavarum Nalaam, Mutthirai, Modhi Vilayadhu, Newtonin 3am Vidhi, etc.

A R Rahman wins double Oscars

February 23rd, 2009
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Well, this news will be soon around the world. People in India and Tamil Nadu especially, will rejoicing over this victory. Rahman’s win double the number of Indian wins in the last decade to four. Rahman won the Original Score and Original Song (Jai Ho) for the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Rahman started his career under Maestro Illayaraja and was given his first break as music composer for movie by director Maniratnam in the 1991 1992 (0r 1993?) hit Roja, a Tamil movie.

Here’s some info from NST:

In doing so, the 43-year-old once called “the Mozart of Madras” becomes only the third Indian to be honored by the Academy, just weeks after becoming the first person from the sub-continent to win a coveted Golden Globe.

Born A.S. Dileep Kumar in the southern city of Madras (now Chennai) on January 6, 1966, Allah Rakha Rahman’s father, R.K. Shekhar, was a musical director for movies in the Indian language of Malayalam.

The young Dileep’s father died when he was nine, prompting his mother to convert from Hindu to Islam and forcing Rahman into playing music to support his family.

Rahman, who also switched faiths, went on to write jingles and scores for Indian television and eventually set up a high-tech recording studio in his home city where he still lives and works.

His break into the Hindi-language film industry of Bollywood came in 1991 when he composed the music for the movie “Roja.” Its box office success won him plaudits among audiences and peers.

Leading Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar described Rahman’s composition as a “masterpiece.” Rahman has never looked back and is responsible for music on some of the biggest hits in Indian cinema in recent years and is thought to have sold more than 100 million albums.

The legendary Indian film singer Asha Bhosle once said he had “brought about a freshness, a new sound to film music.” Rahman’s move onto the world stage began in 2001, when British composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber asked him to compose the music for the musical “Bombay Dreams.” Work on the stage version of “Lord of the Rings” followed.

“Slumdog Millionaire” brought him even wider acclaim, with its versatile soundtrack fusing hip-hop and pulsing electronica, haunting ballads, instrumentals and upbeat Bollywood-style numbers.

Hard-working Rahman, a devout Muslim who composes only at night, is not one to court the limelight, preferring instead a simple life with his wife Saira and three children and working on charitable projects.

He even missed the wild celebrations with the cast and crew at the Indian premiere of “Slumdog” just after the film was nominated for 10 Oscars. He was putting the finished touches to music for a new movie.

The composer’s Golden Globes win, which he dedicated to India, was greeted with drums and dancing in movie-mad India. His Oscar win assures him of immortality.

Chance of a lifetime

February 23rd, 2009
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These young kids are extremely lucky to be at the Academy Awards right now… [ Photo from AP]

6 10 of the slum dwellers who acted in the movie were flown from Mumbai to watch the event!

BTW, the movie has collected two awards now: best adapted screenplay and best cinematography.

Updated at 1.15pm –  Slumdog Millionaire wins 8 awards in total:

— Motion Picture

— Director: Danny Boyle,

— Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy,

— Cinematography

— Sound Mixing

— Original Score:  A.R. Rahman.

— Original Song: “Jai Ho” –  A.R. Rahman and Gulzar.

— Film Editing

Typical response over dismal local movies

December 28th, 2008
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So, the rakyat is being lined up to be the fools again. Ready to pay RM20 for a foreign (Hollywood) movie? I wonder if movies from Indian subcontinent and Chinese diaspora will be penalised as well, just to force us to endure 2 hours of torture in the name support local movies.

Frankly speaking, I don’t really fancy watching local movies. The ones I enjoyed were some  P Ramlee and AR Badul movies looooong time ago. Nowadays, I’ll fail if there’s any question on local actors or movies. I was blasted by Then for wasting time watching Naana Neeya few months back, so its not a matter of Malay movies, but Tamil movies as well.

Local film directors are obviously gleeful over the proposal by the Malaysian Film Producers’ Association to hike the ticket price for Hollywood movies.  Some of their comments:

“It is a good step but it should not stop there,” said award-winning director Datuk Paduka Shuhaimi Baba.

She said another way to help the industry was for local producers to have a bigger cut of the box-office collection.

“Currently, producers and cinema operators are sharing the ticket sales equally. Producers should get a higher cut.”

She said cinema operators could also share the promotional costs of local movies.

Shuhaimi said many countries were imposing regulations to protect their movie industry.

Director Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nazri said:

cinema operators would also benefit from higher ticket prices for Hollywood movies.

“The screening for a local movie now is limited to 14 days — the minimum required by regulations — as cinema operators will replace it with Hollywood movies to generate more income.

“With a hike, they will get more income from one or two Hollywood movies, thus encouraging them to give more days to local movies.”

Director Afdlin Shauki said the number of Hollywood movies in local cinemas should be limited.

He said China only allowed 20 Hollywood movies to be shown annually.

“It means only the best movies from Hollywood are shown, which is good for movie-goers”

Afdlin, however, cautioned that the ticket price hike could backfire.

“At the current ticket price, you can watch two movies, one Hollywood and one local. But if you increase the price to RM20, movie-goers might just skip local movies altogether.”

Let’s see what one guy commented in NST:

A local production professional said increasing the ticket price for Hollywood movies to RM20 to save the local film industry would not make movie-goers watch local films.

Danny G said the move would only make DVD sellers happy and bring down the cinema industry, which was now enjoying a revival.

“The reason why most local movies are not attracting the crowd is because they are poorly made and lack a good storyline.

“It should be noted that movies by Yasmin Ahmad that have good storylines command a good following among movie-goers.”

Danny said he recently went to watch the Antu Fighter movie and found it so ridiculous, he walked out midway.

“One should not go into production with a weak story just because there is funding, and complain later that the ticket sales are poor. ”

Danny said local movie-makers should improve the quality of their films not by using lots of special effects but by emphasising on a good storyline.

BTW, I read that the three local movies released recently bombed. One of it was the Antu Fighter mentioned above.

So, is a protectionist policy needed to revive or develop our local movie industry? Is it a sign of lack of patriotism from our rakyat? Or are the movies not meeting the exceedingly high standards or tastes of local moviegoers? In terms of storylines, technology, directing, and perhaps acting, I think we are quite lagging in one or more aspects if compared to other countries.

Local movies basically means those catered for the Malay market, thus eliminating nearly 40% of target audience (in Peninsular Malaysia). The market is small, so how many movies can we produce in a year? Is there a big enough field for 20 over local movies in a year?

Now, we have Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Iranian etc. movies being shown as well. These cater for the foreigners and also hard core moviegoers. The market is very diversified, so local movie producers have to work triple hard to succeed. They can’t rely on discriminatory policies on the expense of others. We already suffer a lot from NEP and its offshoots.

This is the age of Astro, bit torrents and pirate DVDs. By putting a higher ticket value, people will look for alternative avenues, and I very much doubt that local movies will be on their minds. Just subscribe to Astro or one of the many Internet service providers.

OK, its easy to criticise, so what’s the solution? I think there should be categories of movies – are we going to develop indies, art/noir, sci-fi/tech, drama/action, horror etc. We shouldn’t kid ourself by targeting all areas. Then, we should set up funds to allow directors to make movies. This fund can be derived from the entertainment industry, global institutions, or CSR from MNCs and GLCs.

But money alone does not guarantee a roaring success. There are many cases stretching from Hollywood to Hong Kong.  We should cultivate local talents – start young in schools, organise competitions. Offer free/discounted viewing for local movies instead of charging more for foreign movies.

And of course, the guidelines on censorship most likely have to be revamped. You can’t have one set of rules for foreign movies and another for local ones. From kissing scenes to bloody attacks by vampires, foreign movies win hands down! If we can’t treat the public as mature and able to make own decision, we might as well close down the local movie industry and move on to other industry.