2013 in Review

Happy New Year everyone. I was waiting for WordPress to give me my year in review, but no such summary and statistics came up for this blog, and so I thought I should come up with a movie summary instead. I had posted this without detail on Facebook, and I guess I would share this in detail here for the new year.

2013 copy

Best Malayalam movie: Celluloid
Its awesomeness approved by Kerala State Film Awards and the National Film Award committee of India. Prithviraj starts the year well. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/celluloid/

Best Hindi movie: Madras Cafe
There is absolutely no doubt about this one, as even with actors not known for their acting, this movie nails it. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/madras-cafe/

Best English movie: The Conjuring
I had thought long and hard about this one, but a horror movie always deserves an extra push and this one deserved it. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/the-conjuring/

Best Animated movie: Frozen
Unlike Brave, this year has a respectable animated movie at the top. People of no age group can afford to miss this one. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/frozen/

Best Action movie: Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro doesn’t miss out as he makes the right robot movie in our world plagued by Transformers. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/pacific-rim/

Best Visual experience: Gravity
This visually superior movie is all set to make it big on the Academy Awards next year, that is for sure. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/gravity/

Best Thrills: Drishyam
The director Jeethu Joseph maintains his cent percent record with another thriller, his second super hit of the year. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/drishyam/

Big Surprise: Philips and the Monkey Pen
Not that inspiring from the name, and not at all hyped, this movie is a beautifully crafted allegory with children as main characters. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/monkey-pen/

Righteous One: North 24 Kaatham
This movie is so simple and yet scores with the simple thoughts about goodness, righteous and happiness, and it has the power to change lives. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/north-24-kaatham/

Magical Movie: Amen
This movie is magical with or without its clear share of magic realism, and it is one of its kind, to be remade in other Indian languages. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/amen/

Powerful Experience: Rush
For a movie which can bring even non-Formula One fans to feel the emotions, there is no evil to be said about this one. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/rush/

Game Changer: Go Goa Gone
This movie might be the best thing that has happened to Bollywood in 2013, and I hope that this zom-com brings good changes instead of mindlessness. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/go-goa-gone/

Personal Favourite: Memories
One of the two brilliant movies from the director of the year, this movie establishes Prithviraj as the Malayalam actor of the year. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/memories/

Unnoticed One: 10:30 am Local Call
This movie had lots of good things about it despite a small cast except for Lal. This is a thriller as well as a love story with strength at both levels. Sadly, it didn’t get the attention or the appreciation it actually deserved.

Worst Malayalam movie: Kammath and Kammath
The movie provides us a world of nonsense and one can’t even understand what they say or intend to say. It wastes two actors and two actresses in a few hours of crime which they call a film. The side-effects of this movie include an eternal hatred for dosa which I could overcome only by hating idli.

Worst Hindi movie: Besharam
The shameless movie of the year has one of the so called young actors of the future in one of the worst roles anyone can do. This movie is a disgrace to Gandhiji as it released on the day of Gandhi Jayanthi. Taking in a whole family of actors and adding bad jokes which are older than our leading actor doesn’t help either.

Worst English movie: Mortal Instruments
This movie wonders who is the lover of whose brother and demons, vampires, hunters and werewolves have never been this retarded. There is this nonsense which makes Twilight look better. One comes to know that Lily Collins is incredibly cute, but the story or the characters makes no sense even when they are not on screen.

Most Undeserving Hit: Chennai Express
This is a painful watch as its take on the South – the actress has a Hindi accent which is not from the South of India, but from outside the nation, and the movie isn’t even funny enought to be taken lightly, and its romantic side is terrible. This is a clear case of stereotyping, and with all due disrespect to Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3, this will remain the undeserving one.

Of a Mental Asylum: Olipporu
From the moment it begins, to the end, the movie has tried to do something intellectual, that is for sure – but at most times, it makes no sense and with this movie, I have stopped watching Malayalam movies on the first day, alone. In the movie Nadan, Jayaram tells a few words which are applicable for this movie.

Worst Drag: Annayum Rasoolum
This had three hours of nothing but drag – the hero looks at the heroine, and keeps looking at her till the end of first half, and in a relationship of few words, they kiss, he goes to jail and she dies in a world of pathetic pseudo-romance. To add to an already slow movie, there is slow motion – what is wrong with these people?

Worst Drift: Bicycle Thieves
This movie drifts again and again with no idea where to go and what to do with its characters. There are twists of no sense and characters of no use. After stealing the title from Vittorio De Sica, this one comes up with a heroine who looks many times younger than the hero, and lead by her being weird. almost everyone acts strange, wonder why.

Worst Emptiness: Kili Poyi
This one has nothing, but smoke inside it, with clear glorification of drugs and a loose lifestyle, and its characters are so plain that one can hope to have just smoke inside it and feel the emptiness throughout the world. The movie itself is a black hole which has unfortunately made an impact of nonsense.

Worst Lie: Neelakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi
This movie is a lie from the beginning to the end, and has characters who use the mask of travel for being stupid and aimless. The leading character is a man who pretends so much that he obviously has no identity of his own, and the journey is useless. This is rather an Indian Born Confused Desi (IBCD).

Worst Stupidity: ABCD
This one uses that kind of jokes which can’t appeal to even the worst of brains, and it is surprising that it became a big hit. The story of two shameless people who live a shameless life to end shameless doesn’t bring up any interest, except for the fine debutant performance of Jacob Gregory.

Unbearable One: Sringaravelan
This year’s most shameful comic movie comes up with a hero who falls in love with the heroine in another strange and meaningless way and their adventure is indeed a mentally retarded one, with the only hope being the beautiful heroine. Why would someone subtitle a movie “The Romantic Fighter” is beyond all hope.

Clueless One: The Host
There are no Twilight movies this year, and this movie is the worthy successor to that legacy, coming from a work of the same author. From the beginning to the end, this is a clueless alien invasion with no sense. At the end of the movie, we are aliens and would wish to escape from that world.

Worst Hype: Django Unchained
A story of violence and racial hatred has the shoot-at-random-people theory going throughout it. If the colour is different, shoot more people, and dead people are so much fun in this movie. Show a grin after you shoot people, because murder and destruction is so much fun. I have written a review, but you needn’t read it 😀

Malayalam Only:
Best Actor: Prithviraj Sukumaran (Celluloid, Memories, Mumbai Police)
Second Best: Fahadh Faasil (North 24 Kaatham, Amen)

Best Actress: Remya Nambeesan (Philips and the Monkey Pen, Left Right Left, Nadan)
Second Best: Swati Reddy (Amen, North 24 Kaatham)

Best Pair: Fahadh Faasil and Swati Reddy (Amen, North 24 Kaatham)
Second Best: Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim (Neram)

Best Performance: Prithviraj Sukumaran in Celluloid
Second Best: Prithviraj Sukumaran in Memories

Best Negative Shades: Indrajith Sukumaran in Left Right Left
Second Best: Indrajith Sukumaran in Ezhamathe Varavu

Best Villain: Joy Mathew in Amen
Second Best: Sreekumar in Memories

Best Supporting Role: Indrajith Sukumaran in Amen
Second Best: Fahadh Faasil in Immanuel

Best Comic Lead: Asif Ali in Honey Bee
Second Best: Kunchacko Boban in Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum

Best Debut: Reenu Mathews in Immmanuel
Second Best: Keerthi Suresh in Geethanjali

Surprising Performers: Vijay Babu in Philips and the Monkey Pen
Second Best: Lena Abhilash in Left Right Left

Best Impact: Shobana in Thira
Second Best: Indrajith Sukumaran in Amen

Best Character: Georgekutty in Drishyam (Mohanlal)
Second Best: Sam Alex in Memories (Prithviraj Sukumaran)

Best Director: Jeethu Joseph (Memories, Drishyam)
Second Best: Lijo Jose Pellissery (Amen)

Best Child Artist: Esther Anil (Drishyam)
Second Best: Sanoop Santhosh (Philips and the Monkey Pen)

Best Song: Memories Never Die (Memories)
Second Best: Etho Sayahna Swapnangalil (10:30 am Local Call)

PS: Most read movie reviews:
Drishyam (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/drishyam/)
Oru Indian Pranaya Katha (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/oru-indian-pranaya-katha/)
Phata Poster Nikla Hero (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/phata-poster-nikhla-hero/)

*103 movies watched on the big screen this year, with 71 of them reviewed. There were 44 English movies, 43 Malayalam movies, 12 Hindi movies and 4 Tamil movies. Total Reviews including honorary ones = 109.

Diamond Necklace

diamondnecklace (4)

As they say in the movie Neram, there are two types of time, the good time and the bad time, and the good time of Fahadh Faasil had started from Chaappa Kurishu, with no disasters at the box office moving on to Immanuel. I didn’t really like what came later though, but as we know already, another thing about our versatile actor is that we can often identify his career with the quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities too; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I would identify the same with his other movies, Annayum Rasoolum and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. Yes, Diamond Necklace was part of the good time, or the best of times, and it was the best from Lal Jose, no real doubt about that unless you bring Achanurangatha Veedu, Classmates or Arabikkatha into the picture with a handful of logic. Does any of these movies have this simple a plot set in too simple a world, and still come up with such an intriguing situation on screen? No, they were movies of incidents, revolving around one major incident or decision which set the events running while Diamond Necklace belongs to everyday life, and a collection of life; its celebration as the worlds of ups and downs which flows through our life, supported by beautiful songs, “Nilamalare”, “Thottu Thottu” and “Nenjinullil”.

Arun Kumar (Fahadh Faasil) is a docor who lives in Dubai and leads a life of luxury, supported by his wallet full of credit cards. He has no regret about the past or worries about the future, as he lives in the present, spending money lavishly with nobody to stop him from doing the same. His friends belong to higher league, and he shares apartment with his friend in the tallest buildig in the middle east and the world, Burj Khalifa. Savithri (Rohini), his boss in the hospital also seems to spoil him with her sisterly affection, but she is also unaware of how much of a debt Arun is putting himself into. He has acquaintances with labourers from Kerala, especially Venu (Sreenivasan) whom he tries to avoid in his stylish, high quality life which has no place for the lesser people of lower social status, even as he is still friendly with all on the outside. Driving the latest cars and enjoying life to the maximum, he meets Lakshmi(Gauthami Nair), a newly recruited Tamil nurse in his department. She is the first girl to whom he is seriously attracted. She had come to the middle east with a dream of making enough money for building a hospital in their village, so that no more people have to die there for having no facilities or money. Arun is impressed by her wits, attitude and dedication towards work.

Even as their relation blossoms, his chances of going through with it receives a serious blow, as he runs out of money and his car is towed away by the creditors. He is left with no way to go home and see his sick mother as the credits keep him in the country. He is helped by an influential man, Narayana Menon (Maniyanpilla Raju) who makes it possible for him to go back to Kerala, but at the same time, he is tricked into marriage with Narayanan’s niece, Rajasree (Anusree) who is a simple village girl who has absolutely no clue about city life nor life outside Kerala. Even as they are thought to be a rich family, Rajasree’s world is later known to be a small and simple one, not enough to pay back even a percent of Arun’s credits. When he comes back to Dubai, he is left with no place to stay, and as he doesn’t have enough advance to pay for any place, he stays in the labor camp with Venu. Lakshmi who comes to know about his marriage, ends their relationship and refuses to talk to him. Maya (Samvrutha Sunil), a relative of Savithri, is a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, with a wish to start a boutique in Dubai. Her fiancee had left her due to her illness which had left her highly depressed. Arun ends up sharing her apartment and becomes very close to her.

Later, when she sees Rajasree with him, she is shocked as she didn’t know that he was married, and is admitted in the hospital. It leaves Savithri with lesser affection towards him. As he gathers her possessions, he notices a diamond necklace that she keeps with her, something which can save him from his problems. He decides to replace it with a fake one and does the same successfully. This is where the whole situation revolving around a necklace arises, as his wife finds the original necklace and wears it thinking that it is a birthday gift from him. Meanwhile, Maya almost dies due to an overdose of medicine. He is unable to get the necklace back from his wife who has shown the same to almost everyone including her foul-mouthed relatives of vanity. He often feels that he should return it to Maya and he can’t, and neither can he sell it. Caught between the worlds of greed, remorse and helpless, the only people who are with him consists of the simple labourers whom he once avoided. So, the plot still revolves around the ladies in his life, and how Arun comes out of this problem, not with any deus ex machina or a huge twist of fate, but rather with the simple things being the result of everyday happenings and common feelings makes the whole of the story. The artificial stuff has been kept out for good.

So, here is Fahadh Faasil showing his abilities as a versatile actor, moving away from the new generation trends of Chaappa Kurishu and 22 Female Kottayam, but coming up strong as an energetic youth who symbolizes the common young man of the century, with the usual attitude of “I will drink Life to the lees” which was said by the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a liefstyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. These, as I have already mentioned in my review of Spring Breakers, symbolizes the character Fahadh is playing in this movie.

But what does this hedonism, the power of “Carpe diem” bring to him? Does this help him to seize the day? Yes it does, but those days become long gone. I agree to the fact that we are all kind of hedonists in one way or the other, varying only in the degree. But considering the current world and the environment to which we are exposed, something which stays within the limits can rarely be interpreted as hedonism. But our protagonist belongs to the higher degree of “Carpe diem” as he puts as little trust as possible in the next day, as a man who is exposed to all the luxuries of the magical world of the city of Dubai, powered by oil, and highly influenced by modernity and science rather than antiquity, history or literature. For a man who comes the humble backgrounds of a small village, this might have been a big moment for him, being in Dubai and earning so much. It is evident in his relations with the labourers whom he consider as lesser people. But soon he realizes that they are the ones who are there to help him without asking anything in return, and it is his time to live like a common man rather than a hedonist, and live his life of responsibilities. Such a realization is supported by a beautiful ending which makes sure that his world remains one of beauty and goodness rather than crookedness and money. The movie itself is a message against irresponsible hedonism, and a support for unconditional love, responsibility and equality.

Once again, Fahadh Faasil is the man to watch out for, and I guess there is not much need to talk about the same, as it nothing unexpected. Samvrutha Sunil has a powerful role and she has done it with lots of life. Gauthami Nair makes a strong impact as the determined, powerful character. Anusree’s role is worth a lot of acclaim, and the funny moments come from her character’s stupidity, and still the goodness and love that the character exhibits makes this one quite a beautiful portrayal. Rohini and Sreenivasan have to play the roles of two seniors in the life of the protagonist who lends him advice and helping hand, and they form the world of light and goodness in his life. Diamond Necklace relates to its viewer with its tenderness and its high dose of objective correlative; with a reigning simplicity and reflections of the common incidents and random life events. It is the Malayalam movie of the year 2012, no matter how much anybody tries to prove that it isn’t. Also look out for the cinematography by Sameer Thahir; about our director Lal Jose, there is nothing more to say other than making a call to watch the movie. This was a movie which came into the theatres, disappeared, and came back again; such is awesomeness of this movie, even as only a few people recognized it during its first run, and myself came across the same during its comeback run in the local theatre.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Samvrutha Sunil, Gauthami Nair, Anusree, Rohini, Sreenivasan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kailash, Sukumari, Thesni Khan

diamondnecklce copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.