24 (Tamil) – Movie Review


At the outset let me confess that I like Suriya more than I like Vijay or Ajith for no other reason other than the fact that he remains the perennial underdog in this trinity of the current crop of stars in the Tamil film industry. Yes, his choice of films and roles leave a lot to be desired, but that being said one has to admit that he puts in his 100% effort in all the films he does irrespective of the box office prospects of the film itself.

Now that I have put that disclaimer there right at the top, let me go on to pen down my thoughts about 24. When I first saw the poster of this movie some time ago I was intrigued by the fact that Suriya chose this particular script and theme not only to star in but also to produce the film itself. From the poster itself, it was quite visible that this was one movie which completely went against the grain of the standard masala movies that most Tamil superstars tend to settle down for and was quite ambitious and bold in its attempt to present a story with a sci-fi bent of mind. And believe me when I say this director Vikram Kumar manages not only to deliver a competent sci-fi movie but also manages to keep the audience entertained for most part of the film itself.

I am a reasonably big fan of sci-fi movies and have devoured the Back to the future series of movies made in the ‘80s more than once. Now while this movie also deals with time-travel at the very heart of its story, the fact remains that there are more than a few logical and ‘time-space continuum’ issues and lapses in it. However, given that this probably is the first large scale project in Tamil cinema dealing with time-travel as its subject I have to say that the director has done a commendable job. The best part is that there are absolutely no loose ends and on more occasion than once the director has left little tit-bits here and there which make sense only when the movie ends. Not one scene (at least the ones relating to the time-travel bits) is wasted and the director has ensured that he has made the most of the screen time devoted to the main plot of the film itself.

What is even better is how he has managed to infuse more than a sufficient bit of comedic element into the proceedings without it feeling forced on us. When Mani (Suriya) first discovers he can travel back and forth in time and essentially bend time itself, what ensues for the next ten odd minutes is nothing short of hilarious and how he initially uses his new found abilities make for quite a few amusing moments in the movie.

While acting in a double role is nothing new for Suriya and he has done it more than once in the past, I personally cannot remember a movie in which he has played a negative role. And from his performance in this movie it is quite visible that he enjoys playing such characters quite a bit, and to be honest, he is quite convincing playing the part as well. Of course it helps that the role itself is quite meaty and is well carved out with more than a few nuances. This is not one of those dumb villains whose actions are mostly reactions to the hero’s, but is somebody whose actions drives the script forward and has got the smarts to outwit the hero more than once. I, for one, would love to see Suriya play the villain more often, if possible with other heroes as well. Would make for interesting hero-villain conflicts in my opinion.

All of the above being said, the only loose end or unnecessary aspect that I found in the movie was the inclusion of the romantic angle with Samantha. Yes, Tamil audiences don’t quite accept a movie without songs, and to hear of a movie with AR Rahman in the roster without songs is quite sacrilegious, but my personal opinion was that Samantha and her romance with Suriya did nothing to the movie. It didn’t add anything at all to the proceedings nor did it provide any eye candy (what with Samantha being among the list of heroines I am better off not watching at all). However, in the director’s and AR Rahman’s defense, the songs are really nice and the soundtrack is one which I intend to download sometime soon and enjoy quite a bit (without the visuals, of course).

In a nutshell, this is one summer movie which you must watch and for sure take your children to see as well. Am more than sure the entire family will enjoy this brave, competent and entertaining attempt at popular science fiction.

Jigarthanda – Movie Review


Every once in a while you come across a movie which is so refreshingly different and has the director’s trademark style written all over it without necessarily pandering to the ‘lowest common denominator’ (read ‘box office collection contributing viewer’) tastes.

Jigarthanda by Karthik Subbaraj is one such whiff of fresh air to grace Tamil movie screens in the recent past. Along with the upcoming release of Kaaviya Thalaivan co-starring a personal favorite Prithviraj Sukumaran, this was one movie which I have been eagerly anticipating for quite a few months now after having seen their teaser on Facebook. And man, was the wait worth it or what!!!

Touted as ‘a musical gangster story’ in its promotions, the premise of this movie deals with Karthik, a struggling film maker who sets out to make a ‘gangster movie’ and comes to Madurai to research the life of ‘Assault Sethu’ (played wonderfully well by Simhaa of Neram fame), a gangster of some note there. While his initial efforts to get closer to Sethu via his minions come to naught, circumstances end up in a situation where he ends up convincing Sethu himself to volunteer for more information regarding his life.

One would assume that things would ease out for Karthik from this point onwards, but the beauty of the plot is that things take a sudden twist and the movie is pretty much turned around on its head from this point onwards. And that to me, was the beauty with which this movie turned from a relatively brow-beaten plot to something that ended up being immensely enjoyable. Obviously, I am not giving up any more plot points here as that would end up spoiling the entire movie for any potential viewers.

The director Karthik Subbaraj was somebody whose work I immensely enjoyed in his first outing Pizza and true to his trademark style, Jigarthanda also carries his signature all over it. Right from his choice of Simhaa (who seems to be a favorite of his even in his short films) as Sethu, to the choice of the lovely background music score by Santhosh Narayanan, to the awesome cinematography by Gavemic U Ary, this movie is the director’s ‘dark comic’ tribute to all gangster movies of yore.

All said and done, this is one movie which all lovers of cinema must watch in a theatre without fail. And it comes as no surprise that it is the talk of Chennai and its crazy fanatic movie fans nowadays. It appeals to the serious cine aficionado with its technical brilliance and to the regular average Joe movie fan who likes his punch dialogs and punches more. There’s something in it for everybody and that to me is the hallmark of a movie maker who knows his craft and his economics quite well.

One small complaint I have with this movie though is that in my personal opinion (and this is just me, as more than a few others who have seen the movie disagree with me) the ending could have been structured a little differently. In fact, I would even do away with the last three to four minutes at the very end, and this movie would still have been equally, if not more enjoyable to me. But as I stated earlier, this is just my personal opinion.

Just in case, you are not convinced about watching Jigarthanda yet, the movie trailers below will just help you change your mind.


Neram – Tamil – Movie Review


These days Tamil cinema is in the middle of a silent revolution. While movies continue being made with big budgets, big stars (such as Singam 2, poised to release on 5th July), there is this entire other stream of movies being made with smaller budgets, smaller ‘stars’ which give much more weightage to crisp scripts, taut screenplays, and an overall appreciation to the different facets of film-making. Some recent examples of this new stream are Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanam, Soothu Kavvum, Neram, etc, most of which have already become 2013’s so called ‘sleeper hits’. And trust me, as an avid movie-lover (even movies of the big budget, big stars kind), this entire silent revolution excites me a lot. All of the movies named here and others as well have been so good that I cannot stop ‘gushing’ about them and recommending them to all other movie lovers I know.

Neram (classified as a ‘romantic comedy thriller’ film by Wikipedia [Link to article]) is one such movie which captured my attention first because of its hit song – Pistah being played on the Tamil music channels. Apart from the fact that the song went viral due to its catchy lyrics and beats, the fact that the video itself features off cuts from the movie itself piqued my interest in the movie. The catchy tags to the characters – the main villain, the tall villain, the short villain, the fair villain, the dark villain, etc, immediately made me go the web and read up a preview of the movie.

The premise of the movie where the protagonist has just one more day to go before his deadline to return borrowed money expires, was something that immediately made me to put this movie on my ‘must-watch’ list. And believe me when I say this, that probably was one the best decisions that I have made in a long time.

Neram, written, edited and directed by debutant Alphonse Putharen is one movie where people will be extremely hard pressed to find even one loose end. Everything in the movie, all the scenes, shots, situations, characters, dialogs, have a specific purpose to play and no knot remains loose at the end of the movie. As stated earlier, the premise of the movie is very simple, Vetri (played wonderfully well by Nivin Pauly, one of the up and coming Malayalam heroes) has borrowed money from Vatti Raja (portrayed extremely convincingly by Simhaa, a character artist whom I am seeing only for the second time on screen) for his sister’s wedding. Vetri has run out of time and has only till 5 PM in the evening to return the money with interest to Vatti Raja. What follows during this particular day forms the crux of the movie.

The fact that the script borrows the premise for its thrills from the fact that the hero has a clock against which he is running, and this by itself has been made into numerous successful thriller films. What takes the cake in Neram is the fact that it uses the non-linear storytelling technique. While this also is nothing new to Tamil cinema and has been tried in various movies in the past, the fact that the director makes it work wonderfully well, especially in the climax sequence, is what makes Neram stand out from the crowd.

All in all, watch this movie if you want to have an edge of the seat experience wondering what the hero will do and how he will manage to repay the money, if at all, for a crisp 117 minute running time experience.

PS: Veteran actor Nasser makes his presence immensely felt in a wonderful little cameo performance at the fag end of the film. This character by itself can form the subject of a separate movie by itself.

Image courtesy : Wikipedia link to the movie