Mohanlal’s ‘Randaamoozham’ Will Go On The Floors Soon

Randaamoozham, a much awaited Malayalam film, has been confirmed. Sreekumar Menon, a well-known ad filmmaker who is helming the cinematic version of the epic drama, said that the film will soon be a reality, with actor Mohanlal playing the protagonist, Bheema.

On January 8, actor Mohanlal told a Malayalam television news channel that he would be playing Bheema in the Mahabharatha spin-off which would go on floors soon. He had also said that he had already received the film’s script, written by veteran writer MT Vasudevan Nair. The film, will be made on a whopping budget of Rs 600 crores.

When contacted, Menon said, he had nothing new to add. “I have nothing more to add as of now. It will take at least another three months before I can say anything more about Randamoozham. But I can confirm that the film will be a reality soon,” he told Silverscreen.in.

Randamoozham, a 1984 novel written by MT Vasudevan Nair, is a retelling of Mahabharata from the perspective of Bheema, the second of the Pandava siblings. Rumours about a cinematic version of the novel have been floating around for a long time. Initially, it was said that director Hariharan, who made the big budget epic war drama Pazhassi Raja, would be directing the film. However, in 2016, it was reported that Sreekumar Menon would be helming Randamoozham

Although no information about the film’s cast and crew is out, fan-made posters of the film are already doing rounds on social media. Fans speculate that industrial stalwarts like cinematographer KU Mohanan, actors Naseeruddin Shah and Aishwarya Rai, will be a part of the film.

 

Transgender Actress Anjali Ameer In Director Ram’s ‘Peranbu’

Anjali Ameer, a transgender actress, will play one of the three female leads in director Ram’s Peranbu. The film, a drama, has Mammootty playing the male lead.

Actress Anjali and child artiste Sadhna, who played a critically acclaimed role in Ram’s award-winning Thangameengal, will play two pivotal roles in the film. 

“It was Mammootty who suggested Anjali’s name,” Ram told Silverscreen. “He had seen her talking to a Malayalam news channel. She was selected for the role after an audition in which she performed really well. She plays an important character in the film, the details of which I can’t reveal now,” he said. 

Anjali, who hails from Calicut in Kerala, underwent a sex-change surgery at the age of 20 to be a female. Now settled in Coimbatore, she started off her career as a model. She is the first transgender to play a vital role in a big mainstream film in India.

On Sunday, Mammootty introduced her through his Facebook page:

Ram, who began his career as an assistant director in Bollywood films like Pukar and Lajja, directed Kattradhu Thamizh in 2007, and Thangameengal in 2013. The films won him rave critical acclaim. His third film, Taramani, starring Andrea Jeremiah and Vasanth Ravi, is awaiting release. The film is being promoted as the final one in his ‘globalisation trilogy’. 

Peranbu marks Mammootty’s return to Kollywood after a gap of 12 years. The Malayalam superstar’s roles in films like Viswa Thulasi (2004), Thalapathi (1991) and Mounam Sammadham (1989) are well-known. 

 

Road To Mandalay Review: A Hard-Hitting Urban Tale

Road To Mandalay was screened at the 14th edition of the Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF).

There are movies that take a while to settle into. Those with slow-paced initial sequences that seem mundane. Characters that come across as plain, without bearing the look of carrying the weight of a heavy plot. And then the film sheds all this and delivers a blow. Everything begins to make sense and the audience is awestruck by the gravity of what is unraveling. 

Burmese director Midi Z’s Road To Mandalay is such a film. There are plain long-drawn shots of people travelling through Bangkok in tuk-tuks, and lengthy static shots of women sitting around a table in a crammed apartment and slurping instant noodles. But Z’s film is backed by a brilliant script and performances that make you really feel the peculiar rhythm of the drama.

A powerful narrative about illegal Burmese immigrants in Thailand, Road to Mandalay is the antithesis to Kipling’s poem of the same title, an ode to the ‘exotic east’. The Burma (Myanmar) the film refers to is a poverty-stricken third world country with no life prospects to offer its younger generation. The couple the film is centred around, Lianqing (Wu Ke-xi) and Guo (Kai Ko), are smuggled into Bangkok by an agent in the dark of night. Both of them want to find work and earn money in Thailand. But while Guo’s wants to go back to Burma after saving some money, Lianqing dreams of settling down into a comfortable life in Bangkok. He is an earnest simpleton. She is smart and ambitious. Despite this difference in approach to life, he falls for her at first sight. After some persuasion, she reciprocates his feelings.

While most of the denizens focus on conquering their dreams, what happens to the group who can’t seem to fit in, who suffer from loneliness and a lack of belongingness in the urban jungles? The film clinically depicts the suffocating alienation that Guo faces in the new country, and how he only wants to leave as soon as he can with the girl he loves. He doesn’t want a work permit, and has no intention of staying in Bangkok for long; unlike Lianqing, who does everything she can to get hold of a fake work permit, a decent job in the city, and soaks in the comforts that the city offers. 

There are striking images of Bangkok’s undocumented sector, consisting mainly of illegal migrants from poorer countries. Overcrowded workers’ hostels, dirty kitchens in restaurants where young migrants work for pitiful wages, government offices which run on bribes, the giant factory machinery where the couple works, and the tuckshop where they buy ice cubes and cheap instant noodles for lunch – the film portrays their life without taking sides or slipping into melodrama.

The approach is clinical. After they are turned down by an employer who tells them that their employment papers are good for nothing, all we get is a shot in the rain. The couple are on Guo’s bike. If you look closely enough, you get a glimpse of Lianqing weeping on Guo’s shoulder. It’s this emotional aloofness that makes the unfolding tragedy a horrifying experience to watch.

Z’s film is brutally honest in its depiction of the world we are living in. Lianqing falls into the trap of bogus immigration officials. She, in spite of her intelligence and unshakeable spirit, is a naïve third-world citizen, desperate to get out of poverty. Guo’s fall from a life-affirming youngster to a frustrated cynic shows the heartwrenching side of what the world is doing to its young and vulnerable. You want to put an arm around him and say – everything is going to be alright. 

*****

The Road To Mandalay review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

14th CIFF: Clash Over National Anthem

The second to last day of the 14th Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF) turned chaotic as the audience at the screening of Bulgarian film Glory verbally abused and manhandled two women and a 21-year-old man for not standing up while national anthem was being played on screen.

As per a controversial December 2016 Supreme Court order, every movie hall in the country should play the national anthem before each screening. The ruling came under criticism from different quarters, while also spawning a series of incidents across the country in which “concerned citizens” assaulted, manhandled those refusing to stand up for the anthem. Similar incidents have occurred at the International Film Festival of Kerala.

The latest incident unfolded at Screen 7 of Palazzo cinemas in Forum Vijay Mall in Vadapalani during the 12 pm screening.  A group of men launched a ruckus, huddling around and verbally accusing two women, one of them 65-years-old, who were sitting while the anthem was playing on screen.

The women were asked to leave the hall, which they refused to. Another group started shouting at a youngster, accusing him of the same. The organisers stopped the movie screening, and asked the crowd to calm down, but in vain. As the chaos started getting violent, police were informed. The three persons were taken into police custody, after which the screening resumed.

Geetha, an LIC officer, who tried to stop the protestors from manhandling the three persons, too was verbally abused by the angry crowd. “Isn’t there anyone here who knows what democracy is? Who authorised a mob to threaten, harass or throw out a delegate, who has a valid pass, from the movie hall? That’s the duty of the police to take legal action,” said Geetha. The volunteers too did not do anything to stop the mayhem, she said. 

“If you do not want to stand up for national anthem, don’t come to theatre,” said one of the delegates who was part of the protesters. “If you are inside the theatre at that time, stand up or face consequences,” he said. This was echoed by Ramesh, a senior volunteer. “It’s natural that the crowd got angry. Everyone should stand up for national anthem.”

As per latest reports, a charge under Section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971, has been levied against them.

The law states:

As provided in Section 3 of the Act, whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

However, this law does not stipulate any required action on the part of the citizens when the National Anthem is being played. It only stipulates that no one prevent the anthem being played. The three members of the audience did not prevent the anthem from being played, nor did they cause a disturbance while the anthem was being played. Given this, it is not sure why exactly they’ve been charged.

Featured Image Courtesy:  Desimad YouTube Channel

Fahadh Faasil To Team Up With Vineeth Kumar Again

Director-actor Vineeth Kumar, who made his directorial debut with Ayal Njanalla (2015), starring Fahadh Faasil, is all set to make his second film with the same actor. He will team up with Faasil in a new project which will go on floors in July this year, as per a Times Of India report.  

Currently, Vineeth is shooting for director VK Prakash’s Careful, in which he plays a journalist.

Ayal Njanalla was written by director Ranjith and received mixed reviews. Fahadh Fazil, however, earned critical acclaim for his performance as a simpleton who passes for a film star. 

Fahadh is currently shooting for Dileesh Pothen’s Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. This is his second film with Pothen, whose directorial debut Maheshinte Prathikaram was one of the biggest hits of 2016.

Fahadh is also working on director Rafi’s Role Models, a romantic comedy in which he is paired opposite Namitha Pramod. He has also signed two Tamil films this year – Thiyagaraja Kumarasamy’s Aneethi Kathaigal and a Mohan Raja film starring Sivakarthikeyan and Nayanthara.

14th CIFF: Dhananjayan’s Documentary Showcases Life Of Panchu Arunachalam

When Panchu Arunachalam decided to introduce a new music director in his 1976 production Annakkili, there were subtle and loud oppositions from many corners. It’s bad luck, said some people. Others thought it was plain stupid to forgo veteran composer MS Viswanathan and try a fresher whose unconventional style might not work with the Tamil audience. But Panchu was determined to use this young musician who had, some time ago, come to his residence and made him listen to some of his compositions.  

To prove his worth to non-believers, the composer was asked to perform all the songs he had tuned for Annakkili, with complete orchestra, in front of a general audience. “No one really trusted in me until the film was released and songs became a huge hit. But Panchu had faith in me right from that day, when I went to his house and sung a few songs casually, tapping on a wooden table,” said the composer who reigned over the industry from then on. His name? Ilaiyaraja.

Vignettes such as this make A Creator with Midas Touch, a documentary on the late Panchu Arunachalam, veteran producer, screenwriter, lyricist, and director, a treasure trove. The film has Kollywood’s veteran artistes, filmmakers and producers, like Rajinikanth, SP Muthuraman, G Mahendran, Sivakumar, and Ilaiyaraja opening up on their much-loved and revered colleague and the golden period of Tamil cinema, from 1970s till late 90s, like never before. 

The maiden public screening of the documentary, directed by writer-producer G Dhananjayan, was held at Chennai Citi Centre on January 8 as part of the ongoing 14th Chennai International Film Festival. Originally 16-hours long, a concise version of the documentary was screened for the audience that included many friends and colleagues of Arunachalam. The stalwart died on 9 August, 2016.

“Despite being one of the most successful writers and producers Indian cinema has ever seen, Panchu remains a name unknown to the people outside Tamil Nadu. There is no one else in India who has written screenplays in such a vast range of genres,” said G Mahendran, who was one of the guest attendees, post the screening. 

The film traces the life of Panchu – his childhood in Karaikkudi, his teenage days when he served as an apprentice to his uncle, writer Kannadasan, in Chennai and his journey to the top league of Tamil cinema. He made over 100 films in Tamil, out of which at least 70 were blockbusters. The auteur’s old friends recall that he had a rather mean nickname – Paathi Padam Panchu, thanks to the set of projects of his that were stopped mid-way due to various reason. In the same breath, director-producer SP Muthuraman adds, “And it was this Paathi Padam Panchu who made superstars out of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan”. A fact the former validates in the documentary. Kamal Haasan, however, is not part of the film, although his name gets many mentions throughout the film.

“Kamal and I were not sure a title like Sakalakalavallavan would find acceptance among Tamil audience,” recalls SP Muthuraman. “But Panchu was confident. Tamil Nadu has already accepted Jagathalaprathapan. This is an easier word,” he laughs. Now, Sakalakala Vallavan is widely used to describe Kamal Haasan. No one knew the pulse of the audience like Panchu did, he adds. 

The well-researched documentary details anecdotes and trivia on the making of classic films like Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai, Bhuvana Oru Kelvi Kuri, and Kalyanaraman. Interestingly, Dhananjayan’s film also serves as a testimony to the extraordinary character actor that Rajinikanth used to be in his earlier days. Using split-screens, the film compares Rajini’s performance in films like Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai with the film’s other language remakes, underlining how impeccable the actor was in those films.

Dhananjayan’s film, curiously, features barely any women. Radhika Sarathkumar and Khushbu are the only actresses who make an appearance in it, and Panchu’s beloved wife comes in a brief shot. In a film on someone like Panchu, who has written many a powerful female character, this skewed gender representation comes across as a serious oversight. 

***

14th Chennai International Film Festival: Interview With ‘Veeram’ Editor Appu Bhattathiri

Appu Bhattathiri is the editor of the upcoming epic war-drama Veeram, starring Kunal Kapoor and directed by Jayaraj. The 27-year-old began his career as an assistant director in Dulquer Salmaan’s debut film Second Show. He went on to edit Oraalpokkam, the critically acclaimed filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s directorial debut. In 2015, he worked with Sanal again in Off-Day Game, which won the state award for Best Feature Film. A song from Veeram is in the race for an Oscar nomination. Here we catch up with him at the 14th Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF). 

Film Festivals are where you run into the most curious breed of film-goers. Those cinema buffs who run from one venue to the other throughout the day, forgoing or sometimes forgetting meals during the festival fever, only to be reminded of their hunger pangs by a dinner scene in a movie. And then there are the people who travel from city to city during the film festival season attending one festival after another, like a diligent devotee. 

For Appu Bhattathiri, the editor of the upcoming epic war-drama Veeram, the 14th CIFF is the fourth film festival he is attending this season. He travelled to Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) in early November, followed by the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at Goa and the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Trivandrum. After CIFF, he will be off to the Pune International Film Festival.

Appu began festival trotting after completing the editing work for the mega-budget Veeram. He watched the film on the big screen at IFFI, and describes the experience as surreal. He says, “Festivals are a place where people with a common love for cinema converge. For a cinephile, IFFI is a purgatory. To watch a film that I have worked in at IFFI was like a dream.”

“There are some films that you get to watch only at festivals,” says Appu. “Like the Egyptian film Clash, a copy of which might not be easy to find elsewhere. Sometimes I miss the film I want to watch due to timing problem or heavy rush. At the next festival, I make it a point to catch that film. For instance, I couldn’t watch Glory at IFFK because it coincided with Nawara. Today, I will watch Glory here, at Casino.”

On Veeram

Based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and inspired by Kerala’s famous Vadakkan Paattukal (ballads), Veeram is centred around Chandu Chekavar, a Kalarippayattu warrior played by Bollywood actor Kunal Kapoor. The film is the fifth in Jayaraj’s Navarasa series. 

Veeram was shot in Hindi, English, and Malayalam simultaneously. Appu says, “It was very different from the films I worked in before. Veeram has around 700 VFX shots, most of which are shot using green matte. So, I had to work carefully, keeping in mind how those shots would turn out once they go through all the post-production works.” 

The technical crew of Veeram includes Jeff Olm, the Hollywood colourist who has worked in Titanic, and Hollywood music composer Jeff Rona, who was a part of Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer’s illustrious film score company Media Ventures. Allan Poppleton, the stunt choreographer who has films like Hunger Games and Avatar to his credit, is also a part of the Veeram team. 

Veeram will be a novel experience for Indian audiences,” says Appu. “It’s technically brilliant, with extensive visual effects and stylised graphics. It has high-octane Kalarippayattu sequences. Even for those who are familiar with the story of Chandu, Unniyarcha and the ballads, Veeram will come across as something they have never seen before,” he says. “Although it’s an epic drama, Veeram doesn’t resemble Baahubali. It has a distinct style.”

On Film Festivals

Editing Veeram took around 12 months to complete. As soon as it was over, Appu returned to doing what he loves most: Watching films back to back, just for the sake of it. 

“I love watching films. That’s what came first. The career and everything else came later,” says Appu. “I watch films from myriad genres, cutting across languages. Some of them stay with me longer, helping me evolve as a person and as an editor. It isn’t something that I do consciously. Everything you see and experience contributes to the making of the person you are, isn’t it?”

Of all the festivals organised in India, he feels IFFI is the best. “It is great because it happens in a smaller area. The theaters are great – well-maintained with good seats and fine projection. And the crowd is relatively lesser than the one at IFFK and other festivals.”

He also feels that the lack of proper venues is hampering CIFF. “The venues are far from each other. It’s impossible to travel from Palazzo after a movie at 4 pm to catch the next one at Inox by 4:40 pm.”

Veeram will be screened at CIFF on 10 January at the Russian Cultural Centre.

Here’s Appu’s favourite films from the festival season: 

  1. I, Daniel Blake
  2. Warehoused
  3. Age of Shadows
  4. Graduation
  5. The Salesman
  6. Clash
  7. Death in Gunj
  8. The Student
  9. The Net
  10. Train Driver’s Diary

*****

Read: 14th Chennai International Film Festival: Long Queues, Undeterred Crowds

Mumbai Police Investigating Om Puri’s Death

Two days after the death of actor Om Puri the Mumbai police have registered an Accidental Death Report (ADR) and interrogated his domestic help and driver.  According to a  report in DNA , there was a wound on the left side of the actor’s head which may have been sustained in a fall.  

The preliminary postmortem report of the actor states that the cause of death is ‘unknown,’ and police have sent the actor’s viscera samples to a forensic lab to ascertain the exact cause of death. The DNA report quoted Mumbai Police Spokesperson and DCP Ashok Dudhe as saying that they would record the statements of the actor’s family members once the latter are back from Nashik where they have gone to perform his last rites.

Read: Veteran Actor Om Puri Dead At 66 

One of the pioneers of independent cinema in India, Puri is known for his gritty performances in several landmark Indian films. His career included films in Hindi, English and other regional languages.

Om Puri was born to a Punjabi family in Ambala, Haryana. He graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune, and subsequently from the National School of Drama in 1973, where actor Naseeruddin Shah was also a student. In 1976, Puri made his movie debut with the Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal. 

Malayalam Film Crisis Temporarily Solved; Christmas Films To Hit The Screens

The release crisis in Malayalam cinema industry has finally come to a partial closure. At a crucial meeting held in Kochi on Saturday evening, Producers’ Association decided to release movies in theatres that come under the purview of Cine Exhibitors’ Association, the organisation of B Class theatre owners in the state, and A Class theatres that agree on the existing 60-40 revenue sharing policy. As a result of the Kochi meeting, actor Vineeth’s Kamboji will hit the screens on January 12. 

Four big budget films which were scheduled to release on December 23, have been put on hold ever since the strike began. The films – Dulquer Salmaan’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal, Mohanlal’s Munthiri Vallikal Thalirkkumbol, director Siddique’s Fukri, and Prithviraj’s Ezra – have completed their censor process and are ready for theatrical release.  As reported earlier, no Malayalam films were released in theatres in Kerala after December 16. The issues began after the Kerala Film Exhibitors’ Federation demanded a 50 percent revenue share as against the current revenue sharing ratio of 40 percent for exhibitors and 60 percent for producers. 

Read: Film Trade Unions’ Meet Fail To Resolve Crisis; No Christmas For Mollywood

In the subsequent weeks, the Christmas films – Jomonte SuvisheshangalEzra, Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Great Father, and Fukri – will be released. The exhibitors federation, led by Liberty Basheer, has been given an ultimatum till January 19 to come up with a positive solution to resolve the crisis, else the producer’s council has decided to cut off all business dealings with them. 

Last Tuesday, Liberty Basheer had met chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who asked the film unions to resolve the crisis as early as possible. On January 6, an unofficial meeting was held between Mollywood producers, distributors, and exhibitors, excluding Liberty Basheer. However, the meeting wasn’t fruitful. 

At a meeting of film unions held in Palakkad on December 21, the Exhibitors’ Federation, had stood firm in their demand for 50 per cent share of ticket revenues. Although the minister asked the unions to solve the issue ahead of Christmas, one of the biggest seasons for the industry, the unions refused to yield. 

Veteran directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Kamal have reacted strongly against the attitude of Exhibitors’ Federation. Theatres that refuse to screen films should be shut down for good, said Adoor, as quoted by Mathrubhumi. 

G Suresh Kumar, president of the Kerala Producers’ Association, told the Deccan Chronicle that the exhibitors’ demand was “unrealistic’”. He said, “This means the producer will get just half the revenue. We cannot agree [to] that as it does not benefit the producer, who funds the film facing many risks. That is why the association members unanimously decided to hold the release.”

Meanwhile, Liberty Basheer accused Suresh Kumar of conspiring to prolong the strike for the benefit of the Tamil film Bairavaa, in which Suresh’s daughter Keerthi is playing the female lead. In the present situation, the Tamil film will get 225 screens in the state, as against the mere 55 screens if the crisis is resolved.

Read: Mollywood Crisis: Exhibitors’ Federation Might Shut Down Theatres In The State

Read: Mollywood Release Crisis: Trade Unions To Meet Minister On Tuesday

14th Chennai International Film Festival: Long Queues, Undeterred Crowds

“Hello, do you know where this queue ends?” 

“Such a long queue! The film must be really good!”

“Was CIFF always this crowded?”

This year, the Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF) is a venue down, and it shows. There is chaos, confusion, and impatience. The Woodlands Theatre complex with its twin screens hosted the film festival for over eight years. But this year, it was unavailable for the new festival dates in January. Unsurprisingly, the delegate queue for every screening at the other five venues is longer than ever. Apart from the Russian Cultural Centre, the good-old Casino theatre, the Inox screens at Chennai Citi Centre, and the RKV Film Institute, CIFF also has a new host this year – a screen at the Palazzo, Forum Vijaya Mall. 

“It’s unfortunate that Woodlands isn’t a venue this year. It was initially reserved as a venue, but after the festival was postponed to January, owing to the demise of the Chief Minister, we couldn’t book the theatre for the scheduled dates,” said festival director E Thangaraj. “But we have increased the number of shows from four to five daily. And we have screenings at Palazzo which has a seating capacity of around 300. That has solved the problem quite a lot,” he said.

He also said that this year the participation of film union members was unprecedentedly large. However, there will not be as many events, discussions, and Q&A sessions at the festival. “We are trying to organise an event or two. Earlier, Woodlands used to be the chief venue of such events. This year, we don’t have a convenient space to host events on the side,” said Thangaraju.

CIFF opened on Thursday with the screening of the Italian documentary Fire At Sea. The film is about the ongoing refugee crisis and won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016. In total, 150 films from 52 countries will be screened at CIFF, which comes to a close on January 12. Organised by the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation, a non-profit organization, CIFF is supported by the Tamil Nadu state government, which granted it Rs 50 lakhs this year. 

Day 2 Highlights: Tamara Wins Rave Reviews

Acclaimed Venezuelan director Elia Schneider’s Tamara drew some of the longest lines at the second day of the festival. Tamara is a biopic of Tamara Adrian, an LGBT rights activist and the first transgendered person elected to the National Assembly of Venezuela. The film is a portrayal of the intense physical and emotional trauma the protagonist goes through as she comes to terms with the fact that she is a woman trapped in a man’s body. Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways had a similar plot, but Schneider’s film is gutsier, less flamboyant, and motivated by facts more than emotions. Tamara Adrian had attended the World Premiere of the film at the International Film Festival Of Goa this year.  

Other films that drew delegates in large numbers were After The Storm, Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda’s latest film, director Koji Fakuda’s family drama Harmonium, the Finnish drama The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, and director Fatih Akin’s 2014 genocide drama The Cut

2017’s Most Anticipated Movies: From Raees To Kaatru Veliyidai

In 2016, the biggest stars on Indian screens chose scripts with great content. Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan did middling business at the box-office, but brought back on screen the fine actor that Khan is. Rajinikanth did Kabali, a drama that belonged more to the director Pa Ranjith than to Rajinikanth’s superstar power. Alia Bhatt stunned the audience with an extraordinary performance in Udta Punjab. Salman Khan repeated his box-office success with Sultan, where he played an ordinary man who struggles his way to the top and performs extraordinary feats.

The number of well-written, well-executed films was easily bigger than previous years. Akshay Kumar did Airlift, a well-made drama based on a real-life incident. Nawazuddin Siddiqui wowed the audience with Raman Raghav, where he played a psycho killer, and with Manjhi, The Mountainman, where he played a real-life hero who moved a mountain for love. Vidya Balan returned to the silver screen with another brilliant Kahaani. Amitabh Bachchan teamed up with three young girls to make Pink, a riveting thriller-drama about sexual abuse. The film not only won critical acclaim, but also performed well at the box-office.

Mohanlal did Janata Garage and Oppam, which were critical and commercial hits, and Puli Murugan, a giant commercial hit that didn’t impress critics much. Down south, another superstar emerged – Nayanthara, with a number of sensible, performance-oriented roles, became one of the most bankable actors in south India. 

In fact, the Indian box-office continued becoming bigger and less exclusive. One of the most widely discussed films in the country was from the Marathi industry. Sairat, a tragic love story directed by Nagraj Manjule, won hearts and box-office alike. Regional language films have now started getting wider release, with subtitles. 

Looking ahead, there are several such projects in the pipeline; Bollywood and regional films that are worth waiting for. Here’s a roundup of the most awaited films scheduled to release in 2017. 

Raees (Hindi)

Shah Rukh Khan is playing a liquor baron named Raees Alam from Ahmedabad in this thriller-drama directed by national award winning director Rahul Dholakia. Joining him in the lead cast is Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who plays an honest police officer hell-bent on bringing down Raees’ empire. The film’s trailer was an instant hit on internet, and Khan’s portrayal of the protagonist, a character with many dark shades, seems to be on point. The film also stars Pakistani actress Mahira Khan.

Release Date: January 25

Jagga Jasoos (Hindi)

The trailer of this Anurag Basu film was as quirky as his previous release, Barfi! (2012). Warm colours, exotic locations, and a lead pair with stellar chemistry are a few of the things that make Jagga Jasoos one of the most awaited films this year. In Jagga Jasoos, Ranbir Kapoor reunites with Anurag Basu after Barfi! and with Katrina Kaif after Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani (2009) and Rajneeti (2010). The film tracks the adventurous journey of a young man in search of his father. 

Release Date: April 17

Jolly LLB – 2 (Hindi)

Akshay Kumar’s next release Jolly LLB 2 is the second film of a semi-realistic court drama franchise. Kumar plays the titular character, an ordinary advocate from Lucknow who takes on big villains. Saurabh Shukla returns as the good-humoured judge. Other cast members include Huma Qureshi and Annu Kapoor. The film is directed by Subhash Kapoor and produced by Fox Star Studios. 

Release Date: February 10

Kaatru Veliyidai (Tamil)

Ace director Mani Ratnam’s next film, starring Karthi Sivakumar and Aditi Rao Hydari, is a love story set in Kashmir. Kaatru Veliyidai (Breezy Expanse) has Mani Ratnam’s regular collaborators composer AR Rahman and cinematographer PC Sreeram. The film’s first look poster was widely discussed, and given that the director is known for sublime romantic movies (Mounaraagam, Geetanjali, and Roja), the hype around Kaatru Veliyidai is huge.

Release Date: March, 2017

Tubelight (Hindi)

Director Kabir Khan joins hands with Salman Khan again, after Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, for a war-drama set on the Indo-China border. The film narrates a love story between an Indian soldier and a Chinese girl against the backdrops of the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The film stars Chinese actress Zhu Zhu as the female lead. 

Release Date: Eid 2017

Baahubali 2 (Telugu)

In 2017, the question of ‘Why did Kattappa Kill Baahubali” will be finally answered. The second part of the epic war-drama, directed by SS Rajamouli, will be released in 2017. Baahubali, The Conclusion, has reportedly been made on a more grand canvas than the first part. The film will feature Prabhas as Amarendra Baahubali, the just and valiant ruler of the ancient kingdom of Mahishmati, while Anushka Shetty plays his wife Devasena, and Rana Daggubati plays his evil cousin, Bhallalla Deva. Ramya Krishnan plays their mother, Sivagami. 

Release Date: April 28

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Malayalam)

After the brilliant Maheshinte Prathikaram (The Revenge Of Mahesh), director Dileesh Pothen and actor Fahadh Fazil have begun work on their next film, a drama centred around a middle-class family in Kasargod district. The cast includes 25 real-life policemen from different parts of Kerala. Rajeev Ravi, one of contemporary cinema’s most acclaimed director-cinematographer, is handling the camera. The film is written by Sajeev Pazhoor. Other cast members include Suraj Venjarammoodu, Alencier Ley, Soubin Shahir, and Nimisha. 

Release Date: Not Known

Haramkhor (Hindi)

When a film has Nawazuddin Siddiqui in it, some amount of quirkiness is guaranteed. Haramkhor, directed by Shlok Sharma, has a hilarious trailer. It is love triangle story  – the weirdest of its kind on Indian screens. Siddiqui plays a teacher at a rural school. Married and definitely not a youngster, Shyam falls in love with a girl in his class. Her classmate, a boy, forms the third angle of this triangle. Needless to say, the story has already become controversial. 

Release Date: January 13

Trapped & Bhavesh Joshi

Often termed as one of the most intelligent writers in Bollywood, Vikramaditya Motwane stepped into direction a few years ago with two excellent films – Udaan and Lootera. Now, his third film, Trapped, is set to release this year. The film premiered at Mumbai’s MAMI film festival in 2016 and earned rave reviews. National Award-winning actor Rajkummar Rao plays the lead character, who is trapped in a room for about 25 days in an apartment in Mumbai. The film was shot in a span of less than a month in Mumbai last year.

Also expected to release in 2017 is Bhavesh Joshi, Motwane’s fourth film, starring Radhika Apte and Harshvardhan Kapoor. Produced by Phantom Films, Bhavesh Joshi is a high-octane action-drama drastically different from Motwane’s previous films. 

Release Date: Not Known

Velai Illa Pattathari 2 (Tamil)

After the success of Velai Illa Pattathari (Unemployed Graduate), Dhanush is back with the second instalment of the franchise. Velai Illa Pattathari 2, directed by Soundarya Rajinikanth, Dhanush’s sister-in-law, features actress Kajol as the antogonist. This marks the actress’ return to Kollywood after Minsaarakkanavu, a romantic-comedy directed by Rajeev Menon in 1997. Amala Paul, who was part of the first part, will play a pivotal role in this film as well. 

Aneethi Kathaigal (Tamil)

Thiyagaraja Kumararaja, whose debut directorial Aaranya Kaandam (2010) is regarded as one of the finest neo-noir gangster films produced in the country, has started shooting his next, a dark-thriller titled Aneethi Kathaigal (Stories of Injustice). The film will star Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Fazil. Veteran cameraman PC Sreeram and composer Yuvan Shankar Raja are also part of the project. The dialogue has been co-written by Kumararaja, director Mysskin, and director Nalan Kumarasamy. 

Release Date: Not Known

*****

Manju Warrier To Play A Mohanlal Fan In IDI Director’s Next

Actress Manju Warrier will play the lead in the second directorial of actor-director Sajid Yahiya, whose debut film IDI, starring Jayasurya, was released three weeks ago. According to a Times Of India report, the film will revolve around a woman who is ‘deeply influenced by actor Mohanlal’s onscreen persona’. The film, has therefore, been titled Mohanlal. 

Actor Indrajith, who was Manju’s co-star in Rajesh Pillai’s Vettah, will play the male lead in the film. According to the TOI report, the film will explore what Mohanlal means to the women of Kerala.

Meanwhile, the film has already got mired in a controversy. Writer-director Kalavoor Ravikumar has alleged that the film’s story is plagiarised from one of his short stories, Mohanlaline Enikkippol Pediyaanu. “My story was published in a prominent Malayalam publication when the scriptwriter Suneesh Vaaranadu was working there. Anybody can take such a recorded story and tweak it for a screen version, claiming it to be another unique story. Therefore, there is an ethical issue here”, the writer was quoted by TOI as saying, He has, reportedly, filed a complaint about it with the FEFKA writers union.

Sajid Yahiya, however, told Mathrubhumi that he was yet to announce the project officially. He said that neither he nor his screenwriter had read Kalavoor’s story. He added that though he had requested Kalavoor to read his script to cross-check the facts, the writer refused to do so.

Sajid’s film, reportedly, is about a girl who was born the day Mohanlal made his career debut through Fazil’s Manjil Virinja Pookkal in 1980. From then, the actor, virtually, becomes a part of her life. She considers him as her source of support. Kalavoor’s story too, is centred around a similar character.

“It is a universal thought and we have had many films released like that, across industries over the years. For instance, Bollywood film Guddi, released in 1989, is about a girl smitten by Dharmendra while the Tamil film Cinema Paithyam is about someone who adores Kamal Haasan,” Sajid was quoted by TOI as saying.

Sajid’s first film, IDI aka Inspector Dawood Ibrahim, is a comedy-action about a police inspector named Dawood, played by Jayasurya. An actor who has played minor roles in a number of films like Bangalore Days and Double Barrel, Sajid also runs a popular movie promotion portal named Cinema Pranthan.

Feature Image Courtesy: Manorama Online

 

 

Akshay Kumar To Play Lead In The Maiden Joint Production Of Salman Khan & Karan Johar

Actor Akshay Kumar is by far, the Bollywood star with the most exciting film line-up for 2017. Recently, it was announced that he will be starring in Padman, a biopic of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a school dropout who spent many years to to provide low-cost sanitary napkins to poor women across rural India. Now, we hear that Akshay Kumar will star in the first joint production venture of Salman Khan and Karan Johar. The film is slated for release in 2018.

“Joining hands on a project where @akshaykumar is the hero and will be co produced by @karanjohar and #SKF, the 51-year-old Kumar tweeted. The film will be directed by Anurag Singh.

This is Akshay’s first collaboration with Karan Johar, who has worked with Salman Khan in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. “Supremely excited to co-produce with @BeingSalmanKhan #SKF on a film starring @akshaykumar directed by Anurag Singh…releasing 2018! “Truly a fraternity feeling when friends come together to make a special film!!!,” Karan tweeted.

Mollywood Crisis: Exhibitors’ Federation Might Shut Down Theatres In The State

The ongoing crisis in Malayalam cinema industry might not see a closure anytime soon. In the latest, it is known that the Film Exhibitors’ Federation is planning to shut down over 350 A Class theatres in the state. No Malayalam films were released in theatres after December 16, and there are no new Tamil, Hindi releases in Kerala until Pongal (January 15). 

The issues began after the Kerala Film Exhibitors’ Federation, an association of ‘A’ class theatre owners in the State, demanded a 50 percent revenue share as against the current revenue sharing ratio of 40 percent for exhibitors and 60 percent for producers. 

On Tuesday, Liberty Basheer, the president of Kerala Film Exhibitors’ Federation met chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who asked the film unions to resolve the crisis as early as possible. 

At a meeting of film unions held in Palakkad on December 21, the Exhibitors’ Federation, had stood firm in their demand for 50 per cent share of ticket revenues. Although the minister asked the unions to solve the issue ahead of Christmas, one of the biggest seasons for the industry, the unions refused to yield. 

Four big budget films which were scheduled to release on December 23, have been put on hold ever since the strike began. The films – Dulquer Salmaan’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal, Mohanlal’s Munthiri Vallikal Thalirkkumbol, director Siddique’s Fukri, and Prithviraj’s Ezra – have completed their censor process and are ready for theatrical release. 

Veteran directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Kamal have reacted strongly against the attitude of Exhibitors’ Federation. Theatres that refuse to screen films should be shut down for good, said Adoor, as quoted by Mathrubhumi. 

G Suresh Kumar, president of the Kerala Producers’ Association, told the Deccan Chronicle that the exhibitors’ demand was “unrealistic’”. He said, “This means the producer will get just half the revenue. We cannot agree [to] that as it does not benefit the producer, who funds the film facing many risks. That is why the association members unanimously decided to hold the release.”

Meanwhile, Liberty Basheer accused Suresh Kumar of conspiring to prolong the strike for the benefit of the Tamil film Bairavaa, in which Suresh’s daughter Keerthi is playing the female lead. In the present situation, the Tamil film will get 225 screens in the state, as against the mere 55 screens if the crisis is resolved.

Shah Rukh Khan Unveils Aishwarya Rajinikanth’s Next

Actor Shah Rukh Khan shared the first look poster of director Aishwarya Rajinikanth’s next. The film is a biopic of Mariyappan Thangavelu, the 21-year-old Indian Paralympic high jumper from Tamil Nadu’s Salem District. He won a Gold medal for India in the T-42 category of the 2016 Summer Paralympic games held in Rio de Janeiro. 

The film will be a Tamil-English bilingual.

Khan tweeted on Sunday, January 1.

Mariyappan, born in an economically backward family in Salem, was brought up by a single mother. When he was 5, he was run over by a bus while walking to school. The accident crushed his leg below the knee, causing it to become stunted.

The film will have music by young composer Sean Roldan, and cinematography by Velraj. Joker filmmaker Raju Murugan will write the film’s dialogues while GK Prasanna is the editor.

6 Women Directors Who Made A Mark In 2016

The year – 2016 – that’s closing soon, is significant for a feminist reason. Of the commercial films that India produced this year, over 12 were made by women directors. Among them, at least two films, Baar Baar Dekho and Dear Zindagi, are multi-starrers. 

Here is a look at some notable commercial films in 2016 by women directors:

Sudha Kongara – Iruddhi Suttru

It took Sudha, a former assistant of Mani Ratnam, three years to research the subject and write this sports drama. A real life boxer, Ritika Singh, was chosen to portray the film’s protagonist, Madhie, a young fisherwoman from Chennai’s slum area. Madhavan played Prabhu, a boxing coach who arrives in Chennai on job transfer. The film was a bilingual, released in Hindi as Saala Khadoos, and produced by Rajkumar Hirani who was impressed with Sudha’s script. The actors delivered stellar performances, especially Singh who proved that she was a natural performer in front of the camera. “I had this athlete’s story [in my mind] ten years ago, when I was with Mani sir. I have a collection of newspaper clippings of human-interest stories. I came across a story about a family of farmers in a village, who send their daughters to the city for more sporting opportunists. It drew me in,” Sudha told Silverscreen.in. Sudha’s first film Drohi (2012) was a box-office failure. “When Drohi flopped, for a day or two, it hit me hard. But then, I decided to keep moving,” she said. Iruddhi Suttru too had a rather slow opening at the theatres, and gradually, it gathered momentum and finished as one of the most commercially successful films in 2016.

Ashwini Iyer Tiwari – Nil Battey Sannata

Ashwini comes from an advertising background. The former executive creative director at Leo Burnett stepped into film making through Nil Battey Sannata, an inspiring tale of a young domestic help and her daughter who come out of poverty with the help of education. The film, produced by Aanand L Rai, was remade in Tamil as Amma Kanakku, featuring Amala Paul in the lead role. The film was screened at a number of prestigious international film festivals like the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) and the Silk Road International Film Festival in China, where it received tremendous response. Ashwini, wife of Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari, told Indiewire, “In India, we hardly have woman directors. It’s just now that the direction and cinematography space has changed, where we are seeing quite a few women, and I am proud and happy to be a part of this ‘India Bollywood Cinema’ space.” 

Anu Menon – Waiting

Anu Menon’s Waiting is a simple story that unfolds in a span of three days inside a hospital in Kochi. The film, starring Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, was one of the most critically acclaimed films in 2016, making it to the favourite list of every film critic in the country. Anu, an NRI living in London, began her film career with London, Paris, New York, a romantic-comedy starring Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari in 2013. Waiting won her the award for best director at the London Asian Film Festival, and it was screened at a number of international film festivals. The film was an average grosser at the Indian box office, but it received overwhelmingly positive reviews from the critics all over the world. “The women in my films will be always be strong, complex characters. I will never objectify women. They will never be just a foil to the hero. That commitment will always be there. And the same holds true for the guys. Right now, there are content-driven films that are not gender-specific. In that specific genre, you will see a lot of women,” said Anu in an interview to DNA. “I do think that studios should get more female filmmakers to make mainstream cinema. Because we are not changing the narrative of how women are presented in cinema.”

Leena Yadav – Parched

Leena Yadav started off her career as an editor of ad films and TV shows. Later, she started directing TV shows, and made her debut feature film, Shabd, in 2005. Parched, her third film, which features Radhika Apte, Tannishthaa Chatterjee and Riddhi Sen, is a power-packed story about three women from rural India finding their voice and identity in a society where patriarchy and misogyny are part of daily life. The film premiered at Toronto Film Festival where it received highly positive reviews. Yadav collaborated with the Academy Award winning Titanic cinematographer, Russell Carpenter, and Academy Award nominated editor of The Descendants – Kevin Tent, in this project. The best part of Parched was the camaraderie between three lead women characters which was portrayed utmost organically. 

“I really wanted to have and see, lots of frank conversations between women, which we rarely (and I can’t even say rarely); but very, very rarely get to see between women on screen,” Yadav told Firstpost in an interview. “These films don’t fit into a particular formula structure. Also why should these films be bracketed as ‘women-centric films’. Do you call any of the normal Bollywood films ‘male-oriented films’? That’s never a tag, so why use it here?” she adds, “It’s a film, a story, you either connect to it or you don’t.”

Gauri Shinde – Dear Zindagi

Filmmaker Gauri Shinde too comes from an advertising background, to which she owes a lot of her success. Her second directorial Dear Zindagi is a light-hearted take on mental health. A young cinematographer from Mumbai (Alia Bhatt) decides to consult a shrink (Shah Rukh Khan) when she can’t handle a string of professional and personal crises. The movie’s portrayal of the doctor-patient relationship is heartwarming, and the way she presented mental illness in the film is something Bollywood has not seen before. Shinde, whose first film English Vinglish too featured a woman in the lead role, repeated her box-office success with Dear Zindagi, which also earned Alia Bhatt accolades for her performance. “Filmmaking is a very hard profession – even for a man and more so for women. You really have to love it too much and enjoy the process to endure those hardships. Most places are tougher for women because there are mostly men in the professions. But we are getting there,” Shinde told Scroll in an interview.

Nandini Reddy – Kalyana Vaibhogame

Unlike others listed above, Nandini Reddy is a seasoned commercial filmmaker. Her first film, Ala Modalaindi, a romantic-comedy, was one of the biggest blockbuster hits in Tollywoood in 2011. Her second film, Jabardasth, came out in 2013, and Kalyana Vaibhogame, her third, in 2016. Reddy is an unabashed lover of light-hearted commercial cinema. In Tollywood, an industry where big-budget action films and masala entertainers abound, her films stand out for their sheer lifelike quality. They feature independent, fun-loving female leads. Naga Shaurya and Malavika Nair play the protagonists in Kalyana Vaibhogame, a romantic-drama which revolves around a married couple. 

The Salesman Review: A Close Look At the Cracks in a Middle-Class Home

Just seconds into The Salesman, you sense tension – an emotion that Asghar Farhadi’s genre of cinema is underlaid with. An apartment complex in Tehran is dangerously shaking, threatening to collapse any moment. Among the ones running for life are the young married couple, Ebad and Rana, the film’s protagonists. They find refuge at a friend’s house and soon, shift to a modest terrace apartment. For a while, laughter is back. They make new friends – the house owner and his family who graciously help the couple move and arrange their furniture, like family. Everything looks perfectly fine. And suddenly, we are back in the Farhadi’s cinematic universe where every calm is quickly interrupted by an unforeseen calamity. 

The film is on the lines of Farhadi’s Oscar-winning drama, A Separation, a tale of how a violent incident shakes up a middle-class home, and renders irreparable fractures to the personal relationships of those affected by it. However, in The Salesman, the crime is darker and the layer of tension never wanes. And Farhadi cleverly interweaves the film’s core story with Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman, a metadrama on marital relationships that the couple is directing and acting in. 

***

When Ebad and Rana revisit their old apartment to pick up some stuff, they notice that a huge crack has formed on their bedroom wall. This visual becomes a metaphor to what awaits the couple in the days to come. A stranger violates their personal space and leaves Rana in a pool of blood, unconscious. Neighbours who attended to her suspect she was sexually assaulted. Farhadi constructs the whole incident through word of mouth, and not through visuals. Ebad who was away at that time, is given details of the incident bit by bit; he never learns it in the full form. Rana is in a rude mental shock. She says she doesn’t remember what happened. She divulges some information, but keeps going back and forth on it. On top of it all, she abhors this new apartment in which the couple has invested quite a lot of their savings. Caught in the middle of this muddle, the usually composed Ebad turns into someone he never expected to be – a man madly obsessed with retribution.

In Farhadi’s cinema, the crisis that drives the plot is always inadvertent, characterised by a moral ambiguity. In About Elly, the mysterious disappearance of a young school teacher from a beach resort snowballs into a graver problem of morality. Her friends realise that she is married, though estranged, and had come on the trip without the knowledge of her husband, who is known to be a wife-beater. You see people racking their brain about right and wrong while the young woman’s fate is still in a dangerous oblivion. Farhadi continues to play with this argument on right and wrong in The Salesman; a film that is is also about the psychology of vengeance.

When they move into this new apartment, the couple find a locked room where, according to the landlord, the previous tenant has kept some of her things. The woman asks him for more time to come back for the stuff, but Rana decides to break the lock. Ebad moves the woman’s things, including a little tricycle, to the front yard of the apartment. That night a rain drenches and spoils all the goods. While it never bothers Rana, Ebad seems concerned. He tries to cover the things up, protect it from the lashing rain. The attack on Rana is linked to this incident. Neighbours say the aggressor could be a ‘client’ of the previous tenant who was a ‘woman with many male companions’, a conservative middle-class euphemism for prostitute. Ebad suspects it could be a goon sent by the previous tenant as a revenge for barging into her room. In a certain sense, the film points its fingers at Rana for upsetting the apple cart. 

It also looks at the way morality is perceived in conservative middle-class communities. The landlord, who initially claims to be just an acquaintance of the prostitute and laments in public for having rented out his place to her, later turns out to be a much closer friend of hers. When Ebad finally confronts the aggressor, he blames Rana for buzzing him into the apartment without checking the identity, and Ebad is defenseless. Rana’s refusal to recollect or part with the details of the incident could also be because of her fear of being shunned. Farhadi, like a perfect shrink, treats his characters sensitively, painting a vivid picture of their dilemma. 

The film is flawlessly acted. There are prolonged shots where characters start a normal conversation that escalate to the level of loud argument and physical violence. The actors perform like there is no camera watching them. The final moments of the film is a spectacle, the brilliance of which has to be seen and experienced rather than be explained in words. Rana’s cold resignation from life turns into fear when she realises that her husband is in more serious a mental trauma than she is. Ebad, who had been a predictable gentleman until then, transforms into a beast whose movements you can barely guess. And the couple realise the magnitude of the rift that has formed between them. 

The Salesman is yet another testimony to why Farhadi is one of the most important filmmakers of his generation. It is cerebral, fast-paced, raw, and thoroughly observant of real life. In his films, human relationships exist on a slack-line, as vulnerable as they are in real life. And the unique grey shade that he brings to his characters is fascinating. When they go on screwing up situations and jeopardising their lives, you expect the filmmaker to interfere and set things right. But Farhadi lays back on his chair outside the frame, setting free the course of things. 

***

The Salesman review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

Debbie Reynolds, Hollywood Royalty, Dies At 84

Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke today at 84. The death came just a day after her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher passed away.

Reynolds reportedly was distraught after Carrie Fisher’s death. According to TMZ, she was at her son’s house working out funeral arrangements for Fisher when she experienced a stroke and was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital.

On Tuesday, she had wrote on her Facebook page, “Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter,” she wrote. “I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop.”  

 Reynolds is remembered for her performance in classics like Singin’ in the Rain, Tammy and the Bachelor and The Tender Trap. She received an Academy award nomination for her role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), a rags-to-riches western musical based on a true story.

Carrie Fisher, 60, died on Tuesday after she suffered a heart attack on a flight. She was best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars original trilogy.

Read: Carrie Fisher Drowned In Moonlight, Strangled By Her Own Bra

Best Of Malayalam Cinema 2016

2016 was an excellent year for Malayalam cinema. Out of 105 Malayalam films that released this year, 23 were box-office hits. Heading that list was Mohanlal’s Pulimurugan, which broke collection records by becoming the first Malayalam movie to enter the 100 crore club, and the fourth highest grossing south Indian movie of the year (after Janatha Garage, Theri, and Kabali). Even better, the industry produced a number of critically acclaimed films this year.

Here’s a Silverscreen Original round-up of the best Malayalam films of 2016.

Maheshinte Prathikaram

Set in a highland hamlet in Idukki district, this comedy-drama was Malayalam cinema’s first hit in 2016. Maheshinte Prathikaram is the story of an ordinary young man Mahesh (Fahadh Fazil), the owner of a small photo studio. His modest life turns upside down after a series of unforeseen events. Directed by Dileesh Pothen, the film was director Aashiq Abu’s first production. Maheshinte Prathikaram performed well at the Kerala box-office, where it ran for over 125 days in some theatres and collected over Rs 17 crores. Aparna Balamurali was the female lead while much of the supporting cast comprised of local actors from and around the village where the film was shot. Maheshinte Prathikaram stood out for its realism, beautiful soundtrack, and excellent technical work. 

Kammattipaadam

Rajeev Ravi’s third directorial Kammattipadam saw the former cinematographer moving closer to mainstream cinema’s turf. The climax featured a face-off with the hero taking the villain to task for all the injustice his kind had meted out to the poor. The film had heavily choreographed action sequences and even a romantic song where the hero throws filmy glances at his lady love. Nevertheless, Rajeev Ravi’s film was so much more than a product of the masala genre. It had a solid screenplay, fine performances, and a lovely soundtrack composed by K. 

Read – Kammattipaadam Review: A Tale Of Blood And Fire

Ozhivu Divasathe Kali

State award winner Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s second film, Ozhivu Divasathe Kali (An Offday Game) is a brilliant film that starts with a slow pace and gradually culminates in a nail-biting finish. Written by Unni R, the Offday Game has a powerful story-line that lays bare the casteism lurking beneath society’s politically correct mask. The film won the Best Feature Film award in Kerala, and got a warm reception at theatres when it released. Ozhivu Divasathe Kali has cemented Sanal’s position as one of the most promising contemporary filmmakers in the country.

Kali

Directed by Sameer Thahir, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Sai Pallavi, Kali was one of the top grossing films of 2016. It collected Rs 2.33 crore on the first day and over Rs 16 crores just from the Kerala box-office. The film was given a thumbs up by critics as well. Backed by a strong script, Kali narrated the story of Siddharth and Anjali, a newly married couple who get entangled in a life-threatening problem, thanks to Siddharth’s anger problem. The lead actors’ performances were widely appreciated, and Sai Pallavi, who had created a sensation with her debut film in Premam in 2015, proved that she wasn’t a one film wonder. Gopi Sunder’s background score and MR Rajakrishnan’s sound mixing for the film were well appreciated too. 

Read – Kali Review: Quite The Rage

Action Hero Biju

Action Hero Biju directed by Abrid Shine was Nivin Pauly’s maiden production venture. A realistic cop drama, it revolves around a nondescript police station in Kochi where myriad case files arrive on the table of sub-inspector Biju Paulose (Nivin Pauly). An excellent supporting cast consisting of mostly lesser known junior artistes and first time actors made watching Action Hero Biju a refreshing experience. Thampanoor Suresh, a head-load worker from Thiruvananthapuram, appeared in a brief sequence and stunned the audience with his comic timing. A song that he wrote, composed, and sang in the film became a huge hit. Action Hero Biju also marked the return of Jerry Amaldev, the veteran music director who ruled the industry in the ’80s. The song “Pookkal Panineer”, a romantic melody sung by Yesudas and Vaani Jayaram and featuring Nivin Pauly and Anu Emmanuel topped the charts for a long time. Action Hero Biju ran for over 100 days and grossed over Rs 17 crores from the state. 

Oppam

Director Priyadarshan joined hands with his favourite star Mohanlal for Oppam, a thriller-drama and one of this year’s highest grossing Malayalam films. The film’s thumping success was a relief to Priyadarshan, whose career was in a low phase after a series of flops. Mohanlal played a visually impaired man while Meenakshi played his foster daughter. The song sung by the father-daughter duo Minungum Minnaminunge was popular on the internet and television screens well before the film’s release, and added to the hype around the film. It grossed over Rs 12 crores in its first week and became the fastest Malayalam film to gross over Rs 50 crore worldwide when it reached that landmark in just 40 days. 

Ann Maria Kalipppilaanu

Young director-scriptwriter Midhun Manuel Thomas’ second directorial, after the quirky Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeeviyaanu, is an adorable tale about a kind little schoolgirl. Ann Maria befriends a local goon named Gireesh. Gireesh helps her fight off a sexual offender, who happens to be a teacher at her school. The film explores the way this unexpected friendship changes them positively and helps them deal with crises in their lives. Sara Arjun, who shot to fame with Vikram’s Daiva Thirumagal, played Ann Maria, while Sunny Wayne played Gireesh. Dulquer Salmaan, Sunny’s close friend, appeared in a brief role in the film. The film poignantly portrayed Ann Maria’s loneliness and frailties, without going overboard on the melodrama. 

Anuraga Karikkin Vellam

Debut director Khalid Rahman’s Anuraga Karikkinvellam was a simple tale about a middle-class family in Kochi, and charmingly captured their innate ordinariness. Made on a modest budget of Rs 3.5 crore, it collected over Rs 12 crore. Anuraga Karikkin Vellam starred Biju Menon, Asha Sharath, and Asif Ali. The film’s portrayal of relationships was realistic, and the actors’ performance were widely praised. Debutante actress Rejisha Vijayan won acclaim for her role as Eleena, an extroverted young architect who matures through heartbreak.

Read the review of Anuraga Karikkinvellam here: The Bitter-Sweet Love

Aanandam

First-time director Ganesh Raj’s Aanandam featured a horde of young newcomers behind and in front of the camera. The film follows a class of third year engineering students from Kerala who are on a six-day industrial visit to Karnataka and Goa. Aanandam doesn’t claim to be a coming-of-age film, just a naturalistic portrayal of the joy and adventure the kids have on the trip. The film had top notch cinematography by Anand C Chandran and a brilliant soundtrack composed by Sachin Warrier. Best of all was the young actors’ excellent camaraderie on screen, which only added to the film’s charm.

*****

Also Read: Best Malayalam Soundtracks of 2016

 

Olympic Medal Winning Shooter Gagan Narang Mentors Actor Amit Sindh For His Upcoming Film

Gagan Narang, who won the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics Air Rifle event, is helping out actor Amit Sadh for an upcoming film. Narang is teaching Sadh to operate a rifle for an important scene in the project directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia.

To make the rifle shooting scene appear realistic, Narang, a close friend of Sadh, was approached, say reports. Sadh is also planning to attend shooting tournaments to practice at actual shooting ranges. “He told me a few months ago that he was keen to try his hand at shooting and observe my body language etc. as he is playing the role of a shooter in one of his forthcoming films and I invited him to Pune range. There is nothing more to it; I’m just helping a friend out,” said Narang in a TV interview

Bollywood, in the recent past, made a number of successful sports dramas and biopics. Dangal, the Aamir Khan-starrer based on the life of wrestler Mahavir Dangal and his daughters, opened to a grand reception in theatres on Friday. It was Commonwealth medal winner Kripa Shankar Bishnoi who trained the actors for Dangal.
 
The biopic of Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, MS Dhoni, was a blockbuster too. Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance as the former Indian captain was well appreciated.

National Award Winning Actress Jomol Returns To Mollywood

Actress Jomol is returning to Malayalam film industry with Colourful, an investigative-thriller directed by VK Prakash. The film, which has Vijay Babu in the lead role, will go on floors soon.

Reportedly, Vijay Babu plays a police officer in Colourful. Kuchipudi dancer Sandhya Raju is making her acting debut this film. Aju Varghese, Saiju Kurup, Sreejith Ravi, Vineeth Kumar, Asokan, Krishna Kumar, Parvathy Nambiar, and Sreejaya will play supporting roles in the film, which is produced by Suresh Balaji and George Pious under the under the banner of Wide Angle Creations.

Jomol, a state award winning actress, had taken a break from her acting career after her marriage. Jomon had a successful career in the nineties and had received much acclaim for her performances. She appeared in a number of hit films like Niram and Mayilppeelikkavu and had also won a special jury mention at the national awards for her performance in Ennu Swantham Janakikkutty (1997).

 

Dangal Review: Seeing Champions In Little Girls

At one point in Dangal, Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) approaches a sports official, asking him to fund a synthetic mattress for his oldest daughter’s training. But he is humiliated and sent back. That day he sits by the firelight and tells his brother, “Champions aren’t born. They are made. With love, hard work, and passion.” 

Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal is about a villager who eventually produces two wrestling champions, fighting against numerous odds, with love, hard work and passion. Dangal is also about these two little girls, who daringly fight male wrestlers twice their size and several times their weight, in front of crowds that laugh and leer. 

Above all, Dangal is a  film that beautifully celebrates wrestling, a sport that has ruled villages across north India, far from the limelight of popular media. The sport occupies the centrestage in the film. The characters and their emotional turmoil spiral around it.

***

Aamir Khan’s Lagaan, which released 15 years ago, was about a group of villagers padding up and swinging their locally made cricket bats. And swinging hard enough to beat a trained British team and win the country some lost dignity. Dangal is also set in rural India. But here the protagonists fight the local demons of patriarchy and bureaucratic arrogance. 

Based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, Dangal has a straightforward storyline. It begins with the birth of Geeta and Babita, and ends with Geeta’s triumph at the Commonwealth Games.

When Mahavir’s wife gives birth to daughters, his dream of having a son to win a gold medal for India is dashed. Until the day it dawns on him – “A gold is a gold. How is it different is girl wins it?” Thus begins his mission to train Geeta and Babita and make them wrestling champions.

It’s not easy. In their village, in most villages, girls belong in the kitchen. When he pulls them out of the kitchen, and starts coaching them in a sport that is squarely in masculine turf, Mahavir earns more brickbats than bouquets. And worse, Geeta and Babita are reluctant. They neither care about wrestling nor understand their father’s dream. But nothing deters Mahavir, the tough taskmaster who wakes them up at 5 am every day, and trails them on an old Bajaj scooter as they jog through the village’s streets and fields. To help them run comfortably, he makes them wear t-shirts and shorts. He prepares a diet plan for them, cutting out sweets, spices, and everything delectable. The girls protest meekly and complain about being ridiculed in the neighbourhood and at school for their less than feminine behaviour.

Mahavir responds by chopping off most of their luscious hair.

*** 

This coaching method of Mahavir is problematic on several levels. In a different context, for instance, involving a father forcing his child to pursue electrical engineering because he could not win a gold medal in that subject, this parental pressure would be deemed as abuse. The film too duly acknowledges how abusive Mahavir’s training regime is. “It’s unfair to sacrifice the girls to fulfil your dream,” Mahavir’s wife (Sakshi Tanwar) tells him. 

But the film takes his side, and everything he does turns out to be right.

Although Mahavir,  with his paunch, cauliflower ears, shabby clothes, and grey hair, looks nothing like the typical heroes in a Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan film, he has this in common with them: he’s always right.

What makes the difference is the subtlety that Aamir Khan brings to his character. He lets the girls take the lead. He lets them believe that the story belongs to them. At the end, the spotlight naturally falls on this man whose every word, every action was in perfect judgement and sense. Geeta stumbles once, only because she didn’t listen to Mahavir. The coach at the National Sports Academy is an arrogant man with no teaching skills. He makes Mahavir look divine in contrast.

In fact, Mahavir can take home the award for best sportsperson, best coach, and even best feminist. It’s this flawlessness that makes Dangal a tad less impactful than it could have been. 

***

The game’s innate toughness sets the first bar for the film’s two protagonists. Geeta and Babita are two ordinary teenagers in a village where patriarchy runs deep. Their first task is to shed their coyness and become physically strong. Thanks to the film’s eye on detail, this is easily the best part of the film. Their physical and mental transformation is gradual. Life in and around the Phogat household is tinged with humour. And everything is realistic – from the messy government office where Mahavir works to the way he introduces himself to Geeta’s national coach.

And Dangal treats its characters carefully. Sakshi Tanwar’s character, mostly a mute witness to her husband’s eccentric ways, has her moments.

Even the patriarchal mindset of the villagers is treated with kindness. The elderly men and women who frown and laugh at the Phogats are not shown aren’t monsters, just unaware of gender equality. Once Geeta starts winning, they gladly gather around her and shower her with praises. A male cousin happily supports the girls and Mahavir throughout this journey to the Commonwealth gold medal.

This kind of optimism around gender equality is stirring. 

***

Dangal makes us watch in awe as the sport moulds the athlete in unforeseen ways. It’s something Lagaan and Chak De India couldn’t do. In one scene, little Babita and their cousin are counting the money that Geeta earned at championships. “Wah! Geeta, now you are a senior wrestler!” the boy says excitedly. Geeta smiles. And there’s a confidence in her smile that wasn’t there before. Only a few scenes ago, she was a timid, reluctant teenager who wanted to chuck the early morning exercises, return to ‘normal’ life, dress up in pretty salwars, and gorge on gol gappas and sweets.

In spite of the generic obviousness of sports dramas, Dangal has many suspenseful moments that keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Geeta’s first wrestling match in Rohtak, for instance, is a real nail-biter.

The film has a brilliant soundtrack. Dhaakad is a spunky number, equivalent to Lagaan‘s famous Baar Baar Haan. Abhishek Bhattacharya’s quirky lyrics make the former a tad greater than the latter. The colloquial Haryanvi of the songs makes thame charming, instantly likeable. When the song calls Geeta and Babita ‘cyclone in t-shirt and and shorts’, you can’t help but nod along. With songs like Dangal and Dhaakad, isn’t half the job done?

It’s hard to think of a more intelligent song than “Haanikaarak Bapu” in recent times. The children’s unwillingness to be a part of Mahavir’s mission, the physical strain they are put through, and the reaction of the villagers to this curious sight are brilliantly depicted in this song sequence. 

***

Only days ago, master auteur Martin Scorsese had said that the proliferation of images and an over-reliance on superficial technologies had diminished the power of cinema for younger audiences. “Cinema is gone”, he said. “It should matter to your life. Unfortunately the latest generations don’t know that it mattered so much.” For an Indian audience used to Bollywood films, this degradation is a familiar fact.

Into this industry of superficial dramas set in exotic locales and centred around characters whose individuality is more or less dependent on the expensive clothes they wear, Aamir Khan and Nitesh Tiwari have brought us Dangal, a movie which genuinely cares about life. It’s the kind of cinema that makes you look at the people around you in a new, warm light. It asks us to see potential champions in little girls, not pretty curls and marriage prospects. It speaks volumes of the power of human will. It uses actors as a tool to the storytelling, not just as pretty camera props.

Khan walks, talks and fights like a 60-year-old man, without dropping a hint that in real life, he’s a dashing star with a perfect body. Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, the child artistes who hold the fort in the first half of the film, perform exceptionally well. You genuinely miss them in the second half. 

Dangal has its flaws, but it’s easily 2016’s most heartwarming film. And it makes you forgive Bollywood for all the soulless flashy films it relentlessly churns out. 

*****

The Dangal review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

Legendary French Actress Michèle Morgan Dies At 96

Michèle Morgan, the best actress award winner at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946, died on Tuesday in Meudon, France. She was 96. 

Her best-known Hollywood film include the wartime adventure Passage to Marseille (1944), and Higher and Higher (1943), a musical comedy in which she starred opposite Frank Sinatra.

She was 26 when she won the Cannes award for her role in Pastoral Symphony (1946), directed by Jean Delannoy. Her final screen appearance was in La Rivale, a French television film in 1999.

Morgan escaped to Hollywood when France was hit by war, and returned to France only after the war. She and Henri Vidal, an actor, (1950- 1959) and  actor, director and screenwriter Gérard Oury (1960-2006). Her survivors include several grandchildren. Her son, Mike Marshall, died in 2005.

President of France, François Hollande, paid his tribute to Morgan, calling her “a legend who made her mark on numerous generations.”

 

 

Martin Scorsese: “The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone”

“Cinema is gone. The cinema I grew up with and that I’m making, it’s gone,” said Martin Scorsese in a recent  interview to Ahram Online magazine.

“The theater will always be there for that communal experience, there’s no doubt. But what kind of experience is it going to be?”, he was quoted as saying. “Is it always going to be a theme-park movie? I sound like an old man, which I am. The big screen for us in the ’50s, you go from Westerns to Lawrence of Arabia to the special experience of 2001 in 1968. The experience of seeing Vertigo and The Searchers in VistaVision.”

Scorsese said that the proliferation of images and the over-dependence on superficial techniques have diminished the power of cinema to younger audiences. “It should matter to your life,” he says. “Unfortunately the latest generations don’t know that it mattered so much.”

One of the most revered directors in the history of cinema, Scorsese has just made a film, Silence, which is different from the kind of films Hollywood is making these days. For Scorsese, Silence is a highly ambitious film that took 30 years to make. 

At 74, Scorsese campaigned for the film at Cannes, signed deals with distributors – both local and foreign, and made the film for about $46 million. Owing to the tight budget, everyone, including himself, worked for scale – a minimum pay much lower than their usual rates. 

Silence, a religious epic about two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) travelling to an anti-Catholic 17th century feudal Japan in search of a missing colleague is Scorsese’s dream project. The movie is based on, Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, which was given to him by a bishop after a screening of his famously controversial, The Last Temptation of Christ, in 1988. 

Also see: Silence, the trailer.

Silence is all set to be released in theatres. It was screened for Jesuits at the Vatican, before the director’s meeting with the Pope.

“If the younger people have something to say and they find a way to say through visual means as well as literary, there’s the new cinema…I’m worried about double-think or triple-think, which is make you believe you have the freedom, but they can make it very difficult to get the picture shown, to get it made, ruin reputations. It’s happened before.”

The interview also quotes Scorsese’s regular collaborator, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, talking about Silence. “He wanted to make this film extremely differently from anything out there. He’s just tired of slam-bam-crash. Telling the audience what to think is what he really hates. Trying to do a meditative movie at this point, in this insane world we’re in now, was incredibly brave. He wanted to stamp the film with that throughout: the pace, the very subtle use of music. ‘How many movies start without music at the very beginning under the logos?’ he said, ‘Take out all that big Hollywood.'”

Angel Singer Taher Shah Leaves Pakistan After Receiving Death Threats

Pakistani singer Taher Shah, known for his song ‘Angel’, has left the country after receiving life threats, a PTI report said. Shah rose to fame with his viral debut single, Eye to Eye, in 2013. The PTI report quotes his agent as saying that Shah had been getting death threats for a while now.

“Pakistan’s famous singer Taher Shah, who is known for spreading love through his music had been receiving life threats for quite some time,” a statement released by his agent said. “Recently Shah made his film debut with Pakistan’s first online film and it seems like the haters are not admiring his approach of using arts to the benefit of mankind. Perhaps that is the reason why he was getting threats.”

“Shah was left heartbroken when the government failed to provide him security and as a result of which he decided to leave Pakistan,” the statement said.

The report also said that even Shah’s manager doesn’t know where he has gone to.