Lal Bahadur Shastri

lalBS (2)

Vampire Owl :: You are going to watch another historical movie?

Vampire Bat :: No, this isn’t about India’s second Prime Minister.

Vampire Owl :: So, there is not even a Chief Minister in this one?

Vampire Bat :: No, not even an MLA. Its like Bal Gangadhar Tilak consists of Balan, Gangadharan and Thilakan; remember that old joke? So, this one should have Lal, Bahadhur and Shastri.

Vampire Owl :: Disrespectful indeed. I am not watching this.

Vampire Bat :: You have always been looking for an opportunity not to watch a Malayalam movie. So, that is a lame excuse.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I need this excuse. You sit in there to study, and with the points noted down in the mind, you write them down as reviews. May be someone will valuate it someday and give you a job. Then, I can try not to be distracted and spend the rest of my life not watching movies and always planning to owlify the world.

Vampire Bat :: You don’t need more feel-good?

Vampire Owl :: No, such movies are too cute, plus I need feel-bad or feel-evil. I quit – may be until weekend.

Vampire Bat :: Take the route through the cemetery. Your zombie team is resting there counting the bones. You never really pay them for the work.

[Gets the ticket].

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of three strangers, whose paths cross on an eventful day in the city of Cochin. All of them are from around Aleppey and meeting each other at Cochin. Lal (Jayasurya) is a simple man with a good heart, still looking for a job at the age around thirty, and travels to the city for the same reason. He is the one who acts as the narrator at times too. Bahadhur (Nedumudi Venu), a former panchayat president, is an alcohol addict with a weakness for women, but spends his time without bothering others. He goes to the city to visit his fellow alcoholic friend who is in the hospital. Shastri (Aju Varghese) is a young man in the farming field who has his own problems in life. He is in the city to get some of his papers passed from the agricultural office. The next significant character who arrives at the same city is Thaara (Sandra Simon) who works as a nurse at a hospital there. A lot of incidents happen following an accident, and by the interval, things get to revolve around a lottery ticket which becomes the major factor in solving all the problems.

The defence of Lal Bahadur Shastri :: Lal Bahadur Shastri makes its entrance into the feel-good genre and make it work. With its simple characters who are like those among the audience, the movie progresses in an interesting way, and keeps the audience interested. Never losing its flow, there is no boring moment here, even as this movie is more of a drama than anything else. The joints of the stories all also nicely done, and the characters fit in there quite nicely, with situations well managed. There are also some heart-touching moments, as the movie successfully manages its emotional side with the needed ingredients, and this achievement also has its cast to thank. The humour is also good, even as more could have been included. There is only hundred percent decent comedy in this one making it an even better choice for the family audience. There is also a light tone running throughout the movie, never letting things go out of control into the darker shades.

Claws of flaw :: Lal Bahadur Shastri follows a predictable path, even as there are little twists here and there. This idea of having different characters crossing their paths on one big day on a big city has been tried on a lot of occasions, including the critically acclaimed Traffic, its successor Friday, and even in Money Rathnam up-to an extent. The beginning is also kind of unnecessary showing Jayasurya’s character grow up – there was never a need, and is of no value to the story. The plot is not thick, as it depends too much on the creation of confusions, and the “just missed” moments which are recreated to bring the needed effects on the story-line. The scope for humour is not fully utilized, especially with Aju Varghese there (his character even talks about having twins nicely reflecting his real self to bring some nice humour). Those who don’t want to watch another feel-good movie with nice morality elements can skip this movie too.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya comes up with a controlled show here, as a character which has worked so well for him, like in Janapriyan and Apothecary; the good and simple man from the village has never been a role which was supposed to challenge someone like him who has been proving his versatility for sometime. Nedumudi Venu has a role similar to what he did in North 24 Kaatham, but here it is a character with more flaws. Aju Varghese is once again doing his job, but this one has less comic scenes for him. Sandra Simon has a very good presence in this movie, even as there is not much here to test her – but does well and lets welcome her to the Malayalam movie industry, wishing her best of luck for the future in this field. One would wonder if there is a show stealer in this movie, and it is Master Minon, who won the National and State film awards for the best child artist with his performance in 101 Chodyangal – when we think that the movie is going to be about the three main characters, this kid comes up in the second half, taking his simple first half presence to a new level. Kavitha Nair’s small role is very much notable too. We can also see Noby, Mala and Lakshmipriya in shorter, but memorable comedy roles.

Soul exploration :: The movie focuses on good people and how they are rewarded, despite going through troubles. It has the message that goodness will rarely go unnoticed, and this movie has so many things which seem to work against the reward, but it finally finds the way. There is also an assertion on the need to do the right thing when the time comes, not thinking about the benefits. If the divine will is on your favour, or may be if destiny is awaitings, good things tend to happen. It is a reassuring message given into a world of chaos, in a society where people rarely care about the other, and there are doubts about any divine intervention and the value for karma. This is why Lal Bahadur Shastri is a good effort, and at at time it is cool to be evil, when being good is not considered the fashion, this movie tells the viewers that it is to be done because it is the right thing. Well, how many people think about the same? The only thing people and media care about are things like people who want to kiss, people who want to watch kiss and people who want to stop kiss – when focus should be on something good or productive.

How it finishes :: Lal Bahadur Shastri is strong in the theatres due to the presence of Jayasurya and Aju Varghese. It is actually present in more theatres than one might have expected it to. A major problem should be with its name though, as it is almost impossible to feel that a movie with such a name would be interesting – no creativity in there; otherwise why would someone choose the name of a former Prime Minister of India, and there is the joke which is years old, taking Lal, Bahadhur and Shastri as three names which seems to have influenced the title. Are we short of good titles, and does it seem that each and everyone of them are used? I wouldn’t think so. Nevertheless, Lal Bahadur Shastri has enough power to impress the family audience, and anybody who wishes to have some feel-good experience will surely try to give this one a chance. That should be where this movie should be targetting and winning its battle in the process.

Release date: 21st November 2014
Running time: 110 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Rejishh Midhila
Starring: Jayasurya, Nedumudi Venu, Aju Varghese, Sandra Simon, Kavitha Nair, Adwaith Jayasurya, Lakshmipriya, Aiswarya Nath, Nandhu, Mala Aravindan, Master Minon, Noby Marcose

lalBS!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Agarbathis

punyalan (1)

The time of the saints :: It is the time for the saints, and it was proved by one of the best satirical movies in Malayalam belonging to this century. There was indeed a saint in that movie, and it was Pranchiyettan and the Saint. Now, with the word “punyalan” translated as the saint, this movie also tries to take on the saint + trichur slang which shaped that wonderful satire. The saint is for sale this time, as our hero sells “Saint Incense Sticks” which is how “Punyalan Agarbathis” would get translated, and also if we consider it in another way, it is the sale of a useful saint imagery that happens here, now just as a Christian saint, but rather as the saintly figure in the centre which gets explored so many times, mostly remembered by this year’s movie Immanuel with its title character and Pranchiyettan was himself nothing less than a saint. There is still a lot of interest for the saintly figures among our usual audience, even as the hero who beats up people and says vulgar dialogues might come back any time now – I just hope they stay dead.

What is it about? :: Hailing from Trichur, Joy Thakkolkaran (Jayasurya) is a man who keeps trying his luck in many business ventures, but none of them really working. His latest attempt is on creating incense sticks from elephant dung, and it is named Punyalan Agarbathis hoping that Saint George will help him in his attempt to make it big. He wanders around looking for collecting what he calls “raw materials”. His wife, Anu (Nyla Usha) supports him with a regular job, but it is often insufficient for what he has to spend for his business. He is helped by his long time friend and assistant Greenu Sharma (Aju Varghese) and a driver Abhaya Kumar (Sreejith Ravi) as well as two workers who rarely works. But he has to fight a lot of narrow minded people, politicians and after all, fate which means that his troubles might never end. He is forced to spend most of his time in the court seeking justice, and his ideas keep getting struck down by destiny’s lightning, as he begins to feel that the whole world is against him. The story deals with how he finally survives in his battle.

The defence of Punyalan Agarbathis :: Well, the defence of Punyalan Agarbathis is easy up-to an extent. Other than its social relevance which is mostly about the tragic situation of the common man and the social evil which is harthal, the whole thing is about fun. The simplicity of the movie is worth appreciating. There are lots of funny dialogues stored in between. The beginning credits scene itself is well-crafted with scenes from Trichur. Most of the characters are interesting, and the movie has successfully built up a very good first half after its interesting beginnings. It has moments which makes one wonder how more awesome it can get, and keeps the audience asking for more. The movie’s biggest advantage might be its name, and its trailer which keeps the audience interested, and once the movie starts, there is also the ability to keep close to that standard till the end of first half. The songs are fine and the cinematography is admirable. The saint hasn’t avoided this movie, that is for sure.

Claws of flaw :: The movie seems to create the idea that there is a saint in most of the common man who suffers due to the rich, corrupt hands of the same society, but that kind of fades a few minutes after the first half. By that time, movie had deviated from its wonderful world to an abyss of incapacitated story with the undercurrents of that logic which decided that it is better to leave the flick and go to Mars and stay with Martians. There was always the chance to go astray right from the beginning, but it happened only in the second half, and the way they tried to finish it quickly almost as if a limited offer deus ex machina is used, is a real blemish on the movie. It was more like a cargo ship with great items on board going adrift and losing its good cargo by the time it reaches the destination. Why this sudden disorientation? Even if there was no happy ending to the story, may be if they had just let the leading character miss out and leave his business, it wouldn’t have been a lesser level second half or ending.

Performers of the soul :: If I have to tell who is the performer of the day, that would be a surprise, as Jayasurya is the man in form yet again. He transforms into another interesting character with ease, and Aju Varghese is a wonderful support to him. Sreejith Ravi also contributes to the fun in an avatar he is not usually seen in. Nyla Usha joins the party with charm, and Rachana Narayanankutty does a great job, both serious and funny sides handled with care. Innocent and Tesni Khan also contributes with their relatively small presence, even as we would have liked to see a lot more from the former. T.G. Ravi was there for the last Trichur based satirical comedy and he is there to impress us yet again. Idavela Babu is here as a villain for a change and doing a wonderful job, even as the evil face doesn’t just belong to him, but to so many forces of the society. You have to like Sunil Sukhada in his job. The acting department is so close to perfection, and the other areas of the movies are well supported, yes Mala Aravindan’s funny KAPA character included.

Social relevance :: We have had many movies of social relevance, with Sandesam, Varavelpu and Vellanakalude Naadu quite a long time ago, and Arabikkatha, Passenger and Pranchiyettan and the Saint not too far away from the present. Punyalan Agarbathis falls behind all these movies, but is the next movie which comes to the list. The movie takes on harthal as a social disturbance right from the beginning stages itself. The assertion on the harthal stands tall among others, and another focus is on the corrupt politics and the plight of the common man, and also about how difficult it is to begin an industry in Kerala. But the use of elephant dung there might be strange, but still okay enough as the movie is not to be taken that seriously, and the use of such an insignificant and free thing means that one can’t even try little things in a world of corruption and among influential people who are there to create trouble. If it was presented a little differently, with a better second half and a much better climax, the movie would have been remembered for a very long time.

How it finishes :: Ranjith Sankar has given us messages through his movies, and his best shall yet remain Passenger, a fine Molly Aunty Rocks and a below average Arjunan Saakshi. All of them had something other than the story to tell us, and this one is not different either. The elephant dung thing gets irritating after some time, and you know at which point the movie losses focus. Otherwise, this is the right Malayalam movie for the weekend, if we consider the reports. As the title Bicycle Thieves hurts my feelings about Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist drama and the name Escape from Uganda makes one feel worse, with the only thing further strange being the name Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43 – this movie is a winner right from the title. The reports also seem to suggest that there is something in the title that is carried into the movie. Still, if you are not fixed on watching a Malayalam movie, I would suggest Frozen as the movie of the week. Meanwhile, our desire to watch another Pranchiyettan and the Saint remains unfulfilled.

PS: The leading character in Pranchiyettan and the Saint was Francis, and here we have the character as Joy. Something tells me that next satires based on Trichur might having the protagonists, as Jos and Paul, and you can make a guess why I predict so! 😀

Release date: 29h November 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Nyla Usha, Aju Varghese, Innocent, Rachana Narayanankutty, Sreejith Ravi, T.G. Ravi, Tesni Khan, Mala Aravindan, Idavela Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Shivaji Guruvayur

punyalan copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.