Mohan's Measures:

✳ ✳ ✳ ✳ ✳ Wow!
✳ ✳ ✳ ✳ Your money's worth
✳ ✳ ✳ Sure, why not?
✳ ✳ A one-time watch
Go for the popcorn

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Black Panther - Bajrangi Ubhuti Wam

Black Panther

Directed by Ryan Coogley

Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa
Michael P Jordan as N'Jadaka
Lupita Nyong'o as Nakita
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Martin Freeman as Edward K Ross
Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi
Letitia Wright as Shuri
Winston Duke as M'Buku
Angela Bassett as Ramonda
Forest Whitaker as Zuri
Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue

Mohan's Measure ✳️ ✳️ ✳️ ✳️ ✳️

The Western reader will now have to think twice in saying Indian names are complicated. But, just as hard as the names are to the Westerner to say, is it going to be for an average Indian movie-goer to grasp the full potential of this precedent setting film.

For inasmuch as we bought in to the British notions that we were inferior and that our history is nothing more than children's tales, we also were quick to accept the idea that our neighbors to the West were savages, a mere one step from the level of apes.  

But, it wasn't them who found satisfaction in aping the West, nor was it them who quickly tossed away their heritage and their history for the spoils of the almighty dollar.
Nor was it them who began our story with the arrival of Mughal conquerors. And, let's face it, the rampant corruption plaguing us was our own doing.

For they have their own culture, one that is far older than anything we can possibly begin to compete with.  And it is, as this masterpiece of film-making shows, a culture of noble men and powerful women, of equality, social justice, and respect for the world. And, it is filled with its own great stories, of heroes, flying ships, beautiful princesses, and even one ape-man. His name in the native language of Xhosa - Hanuman.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Puthiya Paravai - spellbound by vertigo

Puthiya Paravai
(New Bird)
Tamil, 1964

Directed by Dada Mirasi

Sivaji Ganesan as Gopal
B Saroja Devi as Latha
M R Radha as Rangan
Sowcar Janaki as Chitra
Nagesh as Sanjeev
Manorama as Alli

Mohan's Measure ✳️ ✳️ ✳️ ✳️

In terms of cinematography, Puthiya Paravai remains nothing short of a masterpiece. From the scenes of Ooty to the timeless fashion to the majestic mansion, nothing has been spared to convince the audience of the urbane sophistication of upper-class Madras society.

The bringing together of the megastar cast adds to the sophistication. The chemistry between the legendary Sivaji and the captivating Saroja only reminds us of the classic combos of Western cinema. Sowcar Janaki adds a certain sultry overtone to the mysterious character she plays.  And, of course, the remaining characters certainly bring in some zany comedy relief, although I must admit it feels misplaced at times.

What doesn't work, however, is the heavy-handed borrowing from Hitchcock themes. Elements of Spellbound, Vertigo and Suspicion are recklessly interwoven to create this film noir.  Such borrowings are so direct, however, they are on par with a Kamal Hasan film.

But, despite Sivaji's inimitable soliloquy - on more than one occasion - justice is served in such a clever and bittersweet way, it leaves us speechless.

Thirakkatha - useless piece of...

Malayalam, 2008

Directed by Ranjith

Priyamani as Malavika
Ajay Menon as Ajaychandran
Prithviraj as Akbar Ahmed
Samvritha Sunil as Devayani
Ranjith as Aby Kuruvila

Mohan's Measure ✳️ ✳️ ✳️

For all that the movie industry has to offer, and despite my passion for movies, one can only wonder if selling one's soul to the devil is actually worth it.  Even though there a million stories that can be shared, a few stand out as iconic, penultimate.  The less than hidden story of the South Indian Sri Vidya, is one of them.

Akbar has a storyboard in mind, and along with his partner, researches and recounts the tale of the actress, called Malivika in this film, and the aspiring young eccentric called Ajaychandran, who is undoubtedly the ego-driven Kamal Hassan.  The movie follows their explosive affair very closely, and the acting is certainly convincing.  But the Kerala Catholic sensibility offers an overtone of decency - a tale of a failed marriage,  an aborted child, and the hope of forgiveness at the end. Indeed, at the end of the tale, a misunderstanding and a hidden secret absolve Ajaychandran from his misdeeds.

Little can be said of real life. The tale of Sri Vidya and her tragic death are filled with many troubled marriages and relationships, all failing to her own inability to come to terms with her stardom and her rapidly failing health.  As for Mr. Hassan, the title of his own recent film, Utthama Villain, says it all.  He is what his rejected religion of Sri Vaishnavism would describe as an asuran, a rakshasan, one who is obsessed only with himself.

Mr. Hasan will one day have to face his maker.  Let us pray Sri Vidya has found Peace with hers.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Aadhi - Reddy, Set, Go

2018, Malayalam
Director: Jeetu Joseph


Pranav Mohanlal as Aadhithya Mohan (Aadhi)
Aditi Ravi as Anjana
Anusree as Jaya
Jagapathi Babu as Narayana Reddy
Siddique as Mohan Varma
Lena as Rosy Varma
Sharaf U Dheen as Sharath
Siju Wilson as Jayakrishnan
Meghanathan as Mani Anna
Sijoy Varghese as Siddharthan

Mohan's Measure ✳️ ✳️ ✳️ ✳️

History records the Reddys as being the descendants of a powerful lineage of rulers who held their ground against the Moghuls in the 13th Century. Currently engaged in international business, their culture of regal living is known throughout the world.

Aadhi, an aspiring musician, never expected to get on the bad side of one. But an unexpected set of events puts him on the hit list of a Bangalore Reddy, and brings the audience to the edge of their seats in this well-timed, artfully presented action thriller.

The film introduces us to the legendary Mohanlal's son, Pranav, and we are hooked. Albeit portraying an over the top.hero, the very fact that he does his own impressive stunts is quite unlike other heroes occupying this role. Combine this with his mop top hair and sad little boy eyes and we see a legend of his own emerging.

Despite the formula, the hero has no leading lady, but instead, relies on two soul sisters, each played by attractive actresses who offer far more than eye candy.. In this way, the film offers what it should, an intelligent, tightly-wound and truly engaging movie.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Tholi Prema - some things borrowed, nothing new

Tholi Prema
(First Love)

Directed by Venky Atluri

Varun Tej as Aditya
Rashi Khanna as Varsha
Hyper Aadi as Aditya's sidekick
Vidyulekha Raman as Godavari
Suhasini Maniratnam as Aditya's mother
Naresh as Aditya's dad

Mohan's Measure ✳️ 

Effervescence. It is the magic that makes champagne bubble, fireworks sparkle, and predictable movies become sensations. And, it is especially necessary for romantic comedies.

Unfortunately, unlike champagne, effervescence can't be bottled; it has to be brought in by the energy, the commitment, and the personality of the actor.  Sadly, neither Varun Tej nor Ms. Khanna can provide enough to keep Tholi Prema alive, leave alone engaging.

It's not that the actors aren't trying; they are - trying to convince us of chemistry between them, trying to feel hurt their relationship didn't work out, and trying to admit the continuing tension between them is because they are still in love.  All of this is seen with virtually the same handful of facial expressions which verge on lifeless to boring.  

So, while London Bridge doesn't fall down, Mr. Atluri's first movie certainly will.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Jawaan - Octo-fuss

(Junior Soldier)

2017, Telugu

Directed by BVS Ravi

Sai Dharam Tej as Jai
Prasanna as Keshava
Mehreen Pirzada as Bhargavi
Jayaram as Jai's father

Mohan's Measure ✳️ 

Patriotism and nationalism are slowly returning to the South Indian fabric, as the BJP and RSS are increasingly gaining support among younger but more conservative members of the post-Modi generation.  And, in an effort to play off them are movies, bringing us over the top tales of how the enemy can be put asunder even by the common man.

Jai is perhaps a bit too common.  He seems to do nothing for a living, but his family loves him.  His love is beating up insurgents who plague the Indian soil, even if it means bruising half of Charminar.

This leads us to the plot of Jawaan, a formulaic, poorly acted, movie about terrorists and the one-man army who brings them down.  Neither Sai Dharam Tej nor Prasanna carry their characters well; they are clean-cut enough, but not classy enough to bring belief to their characters.  And Mr. Prasanna's propensity for playing psychotic villains is not heightened enough to bring entertainment. 

The story itself leaves you dry; it is more about the thrill of chasing and beating the bad-guys than it is about the secret military organization DRDO and its activities. 

Less the villains and more the audience who are beaten up in this movie.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bhagamathie - Evil Among Us

2018, Telugu/Tamil

Directed by G. Ashok

Anushka Shetty as Chanchala Reddy
Jayaram as Easwar Prasad
Unni Mukundan as Shakti
Asha Sarath as Vaishnavi Natarajan
Murali Sharma as the ACP

Mohan's Measure ✳️ ✳️ ✳️

Humanity's incessant fear of creepy mansions, dimly lit hallways, cobwebs, and those awful bats and bugs, has been used successfully by movie directors for decades. All of us hate to admit it,  but all a good director has to do is put these together in any combination, add some scary sounds and tense music, and like moths to fire, we are pulled in, squirming in our seats, feeling our hearbeat in our chest, and worrying about the condition of our jeans.

Director Kumar banks on this, using tricks which we've all seen before, to convince us by intermission that the stunning Ms. Shetty is possessed by an insane spirit which is out for blood. But, the truly frightening is in the second half. And, it is in the shock of knowing what is really going on that we leave the theater scared all the more.

For despite our need to ascribe evil to external sources, the only evidence we have for its very existence lies in our own hearts.