Monday, 31 October 2011

Bodyguard (Hindi) - Movie Review

I finally chanced to watch Bodyguard in Hindi by Siddiqe starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the lead roles. I really wanted to watch this one after watching the Malayalam one. Really wanted to see what mainstream bollywood brought to the table.  

Though the story by-and-large remains the same, certain details undergo a change from the original one – some for good and some for not so good. The film starts off with a narration of a love story being read from a diary by a child in a train aka Kuch Kuch Hota Hai style. The story in the diary narrates the birth of Lovely Singh, son of bodyguard Balwant Singh and only born alive because of Sartaj Rana, his father’s boss. Lovely grows up to be a DEDICATED bodyguard just like his father, overtly indebted to Rana for his life itself. So when Rana’s soon-to-be-married daughter Divya requires a bodyguard owing to impending danger on her life because of revenge directed towards her father, Lovely is assigned as her bodyguard. He is expected to be with her ALWAYS, and Lovely being Lovely takes the task very seriously, which irks Divya and her friend Maya unboundedly. Irritatibly for them, he wears safari suits and aviators always, lives life on a clock, sleeps, eats and drinks his duty. The girls are embarrassed and frustrated owing to all this and decide to play a prank on him to divert his attention. Divya, who has a restricted number, starts calling him in a changed voice and thus begins a phone love affair. Lovely falls for this person on the phone who speaks to him under a pseudo name and being the simpleton he is falls in love with the girl on the phone. In the mean while what began as a prank turns serious for Divya as she too falls in love with the simple and honest Lovely. But dilemma’s have no end for her as – her father will never agree to her marrying her bodyguard and Lovely will also never accept her against her father’s wish as she is Madam to him and her father god to him. In the meanwhile Rana discovers amidst a lot of misunderstandings that Lovely is planning to elope with Divya while Lovely thinks that he is eloping with his phone lover. After all the confusions and complications the film’s story takes a 8 years leap where we see a High profiled Lovely Singh, Lovely’s son, a bedridden Rana and a still not married Divya eventually leading to final clarifications once and for all.

The story has a lot of loopholes and leaves the audience unconvinced and feeling silly. The film has an assemble feel to it and seems like an assorted dish – an Indian Chinese noodles sans the tadka. Salman Khan does what he does best i.e. entertain his fans with antics that are so much his signature style but consistency seemed marred. Kareena Kapoor disappoints in this one. An actress of her calibre was just a pretty face in this one. Manish Malhotra does a fabulous job with her styling but the emote output from Bebo was next to nil here. Hazel Keech as Maya impresses while Mahesh Majrekar is wasted. Over all a very mediocre effort. A film that completely relied on Salman’s Daabang acquired estyle and made to just entertain his fan base.

iVerdict: Average. May be a one-time watch. Keeps brains locked. 
Rating: 2/5    

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (Hindi) - Movie Review

Mere Brother ki Dulhan (MBKD) had held my curiosity from the time the project was announced in the form of the first look in Bombay Times for not very proud reasons. I really wanted to find out what two near non-actors (Imraan Khan and Katrina Kaif) and a debutant director (Ali Abbas Zafar) can put together for Yash Raj Films that will garner footfalls at the theatres.

MBKD is basically a triangle of three characters as the title suggests. There is mere namely Kush, brother namely Luv and Dulhan namely Dimple. Luv and Kush are brothers (and no there father is not named Ram! He is luckily named Col. Agnihotri) Luv works in London and Kush is assistant director in Mumbai. In a moment of impulsive decision making Luv asks Kush to find a bride for him from India and promises to marry any girl he chooses for his brother. Col. Agnihotri is apprehensive of this decision on his elder son but still plays on and after much disaster after disaster the Agnihotri’s land up at the Dixit’s where they meet the prospective bride – Dimple. Kush is shaken up to see the bride-to-be, quite literally, as he remembers her from a meeting some years back and finds it difficult to imagine her as his brother’s wife going by the image of the girl he remembered her to be from their earlier tryst. As fate would have it the marriage is fixed and as always in bollywood Kush and Dimple fall for each other. So the brother-in-law-to-be and the bride-to-be are in love and they need to get married without hurting anyone in the families. So a plan is hatched which involves getting Luv’s ex-girlfriend from London to India, a lot of mis- convincing’s on both sides, an error-full flow put right.

MBKD is similar in treatment to another rom-com Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani and Katrina is the common factor and so is her performance. The film is entertaining is its genre and the lead actors – Imraan Khan, Katrina Kaif and Ali Zafar enthral in their characters well. Though you will find some over acting in parts by Katrina and Ali and some under acting by Imraan, the film is overall entertaining. The music is another plus point of the film. All the songs of the film are catchy and go well with the story line, though my personal favourite is the title track.

Deffo an entertainer.

iVerdict: Good. One time watch
Rating: 2.5

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Indian Rupee (Malayalam) - Movie Review

An often-told story about a young man wanting to make quick bucks but a refreshingly new film that is what Indian Rupee is! Written and directed by Ranjith and starring Prithviraj, Thilakan in lead roles the film boasts of superlative performances and a moral message to the society and the youth today at large.

The film speaks about a very average young man of our generation who does not represent the FB-ing, iPhone-ing youth but the other part of our generation - a youth that is in the mad race to quick money irrespective of the path taken. The film takes us through the life of a young man – Jayaprakash aka JP who is a small time real estate dealer in Kozhikode (Calicut).  JP and his friend CH work with a senior real estate dealer Rayeen and dream of breaking away as independent entities as soon as they land on a big land deal that will earn them a big commission. Amongst all this Achuthan Menon, an old lawyer comes into acquaintance with JP to sell off a land that Menon owns. Though the deal never comes through, Menon stays back to become a part of JP and CH’s life after helping JP out of a major crisis. JP along with CH and Menon goes through some major events, enters some major risks and nearly goes to jail eventually paying for the folly of adopting not-so-honest modes to earn money.

The high point of Indian Rupee is the performances by Prithviraj and Thilakan. This can possibly be called one of Prithvi’s best performance and Thilikan is subtle and powerful in his role as Menon. The low point of the film is its script. Nothing new or original about the story though the way it is narrated and presented has its freshness but it is a story that has found its way to us earlier also in some way or the other. Rima does not has much to do, she is a heroine for the sake of a heroine. Her role is akin to the one Asin had in Bollywood flick London Dreams – eye candy. The film basically belongs to Prithviraj in terms of role as well as performance though wish he would have got the Calicut slang a bit better. That would have been the knockout punch missing in the film.

Overall Indian Rupee is a must watch for its performances and subject.

iVerdict: Good. Must watch.
Rating: 4  

Friday, 14 October 2011

Marykkundoru Kunjadu (Malayalam) - Movie Review

The Thrissur trip this time was full of movies, infact to be precise 5 Malayalam movies in 2 days. The final one that I watched was – Marykkundoru Kunjadu (Mary has a Little Lamb) by Shafi starring Dileep, Bhavana and Biju Menon in the lead roles. Though I am not the biggest fan of Dileep I did find the name cute enough to watch.     

The story takes place in a small village settling on a hill in Kerala and has two Mary’s and one little lamb. Ofcourse not a love triangle because one Mary is the Little Lamb/ kunjaad Solomon’s mother and the other is his lover who is Ittichan, a Rich Landlord’s daughter. Mary has been in love with Solomon since childhood but she knows that Solomon can never fight her father and brother’s for her because of his nature. Solomon is an innocent soul who is afraid of literally everything including the school going kids in his village and hence is nicknamed Kunjadu (little lamb). Ittichan (Mary’s father) is very supportive of the love between Mary and Solomon not because he wants to get Mary married to Solomon but because of a past Ittichan and Solomon’s mother Mary share. Ittichan was engaged to Solomon’s mother but she finds out about Ittichan’s infidelity a day before their wedding and in revenge marries Solomon’s father. Ittichan still has a soft spot for Solomon’s mother. He is supportive of his daughter’s and Solomon’s love affair because he wants they love to reach its peak and then get his daughter married to someone else so that Solomon feels the same pain that he felt when he lost Solomon’s mother. In between all this fight for a less beaten body by Solomon a mysterious man lands up at their village and eventually in Solomon’s house and all of them assume him to be Solomon’s elder brother who had run away from home in his teens. Solomon gets an image makeover in the village with this mysterious body builder of a man by his side but his actions remain very ambiguous and start haunting & behaviourally changing Solomon out of fear for his family.

This is another movie that though not endowed with the best of performances manages to scrape through because of the thriller part in the script. Dileep, Bhavana are very conventional in their performances but Biju Menon as the mysterious man has an author-backed role and delivers it to the T. Though the story starts off very conventionally and we expect Dileep to win over his cowardness somehow, the script takes a complete and realistic U-turn with Biju Menon coming in and the mystery unravelling in the climax packs the punch.   

All in all a good entertainer.

iVerdict: Good. One time watch    
Rating: 2.5/ 5

Bodyguard (Malayalam) - Movie Review

At the time that Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor starrer ‘Bodyguard’ released I was in Kerala and though the film had a release here, I would not really watch it in a theatre as I was nowhere near the cities where it released (was busy exploring rural Kerala.) Twitter told me that the film was doing really well and that it was originally made in Malayalam. So during my visit to Thrissur, when I found a DVD of Bodyguard in Malayalam directed by Siddique starring Dileep and Nayantara I was tempted to give it a go. I wanted to watch the original before the remake unlike what happened with Gajjani or Wanted (I got a chance to watch the Hindi versions first and then the Tamil ones, which were the originals.)

The title role in ‘Bodyguard’ is that of Jaikrishnan who has an obsessive angle to his personality - his adoration for any person takes obsessive leaps always and ends up in him moving in and around that person like a bodyguard. The plot starts with Jaikrishnan developing adoration for a Business Tycoon, Ashokan, and becoming his bodyguard turns into Jaikrishnan’s life ambition. He somehow manages to get a reference letter from a person whose request Ashokan cannot refuse. Though Ashokan has no requirement of a bodyguard, Jaikrishnan manages to become a bodyguard in the Ashokan’s house after some heroic attempts. But though he wanted to become Ashokan’s bodyguard, he is made his daughter, Ammu’s, bodyguard and out of adoration for Ashokan, Jaikrishnan agrees. Jaikrishnan follows Ammu and her friend Sethulakshmi everywhere they go – college, classroom, canteen, loo, just about everywhere – in typical Bodyguard attire: safari suits, aviators et al. The girls grow tried of this embarrassing scenario and to divert Jaikrishnan’s attention Ammu starts calling him as a ‘fake lover’ from her number, which is a Private Number. Their scheme of diverting his attention works as Jaikrishnan starts falling in love with this mysterious girl and is constantly looking to find her. What started as a joke turns serious as Ammu falls for Jaikrishnan, realising the good heart in him through the phone conversations they have been having as - the fake lover and the bodyguard. Finally as the fake lover Ammu tells Jaikrishnan that they should elope the day their college closes but Ashokan comes to know of their plan. Asokan comes to know that Jaikrishnan is running away with Ammu; while Jaikrishnan knows that he is running away with ‘fake lover’. This whole story is a flashback read by Jaikrishnan’s son in a diary left to him by his mother Sethulakshmi. The climax is the present day situation where widower Jaikrishnan and his son visit an ailing Ashokan and find Ammu still unmarried at her house.

This movie by far, amongst the recent Malayalam films that I watched, barring Salt & Pepper, had the most interesting storyline. Though there was an angle from Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the climax is what worked for me. Performances were strictly ok. Dileep could have infused much more life into the character. I am definitely watching the Hindi one, can clearly see Salman Khan rocking the character of Jaikrishnan as Lovely Singh. Tightly edited, well directed, compact entertainer though performances could have spiced the script up more.

Hope bollywood had spiced up things more and if I get a chance want to watch the Tamil remake Kaavalan starring Vijay too. Would be an interesting case study  - same story, same director, different actors and the outcomes!!

iVerdict: Good
Rating: 3.5/ 5           

Black Swan (English) - Movie Review

Ballet performances if not intense are a big bore and that was one reason by watching a film based on ballet dance was not really priority. But I was pulled why the cover of the DVD and set on to watch this 2010 psychological thriller by Darren Aronofsky starring Nataile Portman in the lead – Black Swan.

Black swan is the story of a young ballet dancer, Nina, who works with a top ballet company in NYC. The company is about to start the new season with the production of Swan Lake. The director of the company, Thomas, wants a new lead dancer to perform the dance of Swan Queen. He requires a ballerina who can dance both the parts - of the fragile, innocent white swan as well as the conniving, sensual twin black swan. While Nina is perfect to play the part of the white swan another dancer Lily is perfect to play the part of the black swan. As the girls compete for the part, though not perfect for the part Thomas selects Nina as the ballerina to play the swan queen as an incident after the auditions shows Thomas a dark side of the fragile Nina.  Soon after strange incidents start happening, which were nothing by very strong hallucinations of Nina. The darker side in Nina’s personality along with the hallucinations start taking a grip on her resulting in strained relationships all around her and odd, erratic, insecure behaviour from her. All this peaks and creates havoc during the act on the opening night threatening to destroy everything that Nina held dear.

The movie is just so gripping that I just did not leave the couch. It is intense, disturbing, uninhibited, dark & deep. It takes you on a rollercoaster into the depths of the mind of a ballerina. How she in the desire to fit the role goes through a complete psychological upheaval and reaches into the depths of darkness in her own mind. The film in a sense leaves you numb with a fact-in-the-face that the white as well as the black swan in within us. We should never let either take over.

Kudos to Director Darren Aronofsky. It takes a mature mind to make movies starring minds.  Nataile Portman was Nina to the T. Kudos again.

iVerdict: Excellent. Must Watch.
Rating: 4.5/5    

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Pambummekkat Mana - Place Review

A week back I was in Chalakudy in Thrissur District of Kerala for a religious visit. The visit was to ‘Pambummekkat Mana’ - one of the most famous serpent worship centres in Kerala, in a place called Mala in Vadama Village in Mukundapuram Taluk in Thrissur District. Chalakudy is the nearest railway station to reach Mala.

Serpent worship is a common practise in Kerala owing to the legends associated with the formation of Kerala and it becoming a habitable place. Parashuram the creator of Kerala had laid down various rules as way of life for the land he had created. One amongst them was that each house and temple in this land would have some special place for the worship and comfort of serpents. There are many legends associated with the snake gods and Pambummekat Mana is one of the most revered amongst them. It is in reality not a temple but a family house and was earlier called Mekkattu Mana (Mekkattu is the family name and Mana means ‘a place where Brahmins live’). As soon as we reach the road leading to Mekkattu Mana you will see walls with pictures of serpents on them, which leads us to an arched doorway with statues of two huge hooded serpents guarding a shiv ling. Decades old tall trees, long creepers, thick vegetation line the two sides of the pathway that leads us to the main area of adoration – the sarpa Kavu (the snake grove).

As we walk in, on the left is the illam (house) where the Mekkattu family lives and through a half closed doorway we can see a seated old lady who is the reining priestess (amma) at the illam. We do meet her standing at the doorway. She blesses us and tells us what is to be done to solve the problems that we have come to the Mana with. Thereafter we proceed to pray to the deities – The Nagarajav (the serpent god) and the Nagayakshi amma (the serpent goddess). There are only two deities to be prayed here and there after we proceed to take the prasadam (temple offering, considered equivalent to blessings). Legend has it that nothing can be taken out of the Sarpa Kavu, not even the prasadam so we have to eat it completely before leaving the premises. The prasadam in the last of the rituals here, after having the prasadam you cannot pray to the deities or meet amma.      

There are 5 Kavu’s (groves) around the mana but you cannot enter them always.  Only after taking bath in the pond in the premises and with wet clothes on can you enter the Kavu and pray to the serpent gods. There are some cast restrictions also on entering the kavu but on special occasions people from all castes are allowed inside after the ritual bath. There is a serene, not to be messed around feel about the place and that feeling led me to dig into the legend of how did Mekkattu Mana become Pambummekat Mana?

One of the legends about the place says that the Brahmins at Mekkattu Mana were great scholars and devotees in rituals but were very poor, so rituals along with survival was very difficult for them. In such a situation one Brahmin from the mana went to The Thiruvanchikulam Temple, near present day Kochi (one of Lord Shiva’s oldest temples in South India where he is believed to stay with his whole family) and started praying to god for liberation from poverty. When the Brahmin was nearing completion of his 12 years of devotion at the temple, one night he had an experience that led to his home Mekkattu Mana becoming Pambummekat Mana.

That night the Brahmin went to the sacred pond in the premises of the temple to collect water and he saw a saint near the pond. He enquired with the saint, what was his name but was questioned back as to what the Brahmin has to do with his name. The saint asked the Brahmin to do what he had come to do and go away. The Brahmin was spell bound by the aura of the saint and stood rooted there and that is when he saw something shiny in the hands of the saint. He asked the saint what it was. The saint again questioned the Brahmin, if he had ever seen a ruby? When the Brahmin replied in the negative, the saint asked him if he would like to see a ruby. The Brahmin said ‘yes’ and the saint passed on a sparkling ruby to the Brahmin. The Brahmin was very impressed by the stone and wanted to show it to a friend who had kingly status. He asked the saint if he could do so. The saint agreed on the condition that the Brahmin brings it back soon.    

The Brahmin showed it to his friend, who was also very impressed by the stone, and retuned it the saint by the pond. As soon as the stone was returned, the saint disappeared. The Brahmin returned back to his cottage, after fetching water, but the identity of the saint haunted him and sleep stayed away from him. He regretted not pressing the saint to reveal his identity. He was convinced that the saint was some godly appearance. The Brahmin did fall asleep sometime during the night but was awoken soon and on seeing the light outside (because of the moon) thought that it was dawn and he was late for his morning bath. He ran to the pond but found a person standing there. He asked the person his name and received the same reply as before. The Brahmin recognised the voice as the saint’s and begged him to reveal his identity for Lord Shiva’s sake. Bound by Lord Shiva’s name the saint said that he was Vasuki – The King of Serpents. The Brahmin expressed his wish to witness Vasuki in his real form but Vasuki was sure that the Brahmin would be terrified by his real form so he did reveal his true form but in a very miniature size.    

After revealing his form, Vasuki asked the Brahmin what boon he wanted from him and the Brahmin requested Vasuki to dwell in his illam always and to put an end to his family’s poverty. Vasuki asked the Brahmin to complete his 12 years of devotion and go back to his illam and in the meanwhile he will take consent from Lord Shiva and come to his illam. The Brahmin did as told and kept doing the rituals as per traditions. One day when he came back after his rituals he saw on his olakkuda (an umbrella made of palm leaves that was used back then) a snake, which took the form of the saint. The saint told the Brahmin that he was Vasuki and he was here on Lord Shiva’s will. He gave him the ruby, that he had shown the Brahmin near the pond, and told him to keep it at the illam safely. Vasuki told him that till the ruby remains in the illam poverty will never enter the place.

About the same time, the eldest lady of the illam came from outside and keeping her olakkuda went inside. A snake appeared from inside the umbrella and took the form of a lady and went into where the Brahmin and Vasuki were standing. Vasuki told the Brahmin that the lady was Nagayakshi (Serpent Goddess). He told the Brahmin to make idols of both him and the Nagayakshi and establish it in the room that they were standing; he said to consider both of them family gods of Mekkattu family and perform daily rituals. He said that more serpents will come to live in the 5 kavu’s and the house, they should be allowed to live. He gave the Brahmin some more guidelines to be practised at the mana and then disappeared along with the Nagayakshi, promising to comeback whenever the Brahmin wants them to. This whole conversation had taken place in the kizhakkini (the eastern part of the illam) and as per the instructions from Vasuki the Brahmin lit two lamps there – Anaya vilaka (lamps that are to be kept burning always) and all rituals are carried out in the kizhakkini thereafter.

The fame of the mana grew far and wide and belief came about that any problem due to the wrath of the serpent gods would have a solution in Mekkattu Mana and so Mekkattu Mana became Pambummekat Mana with time.

Though date details on when was the mana was built or when were the two lamps established is not available, the belief is that nothing can be taken away from the mana and the nearby premises are rife with stories claiming how the serpents gods have never allowed anything to be taken away, even when repeated attempts were made to do so!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Makeup Man (Malayalam) - Movie Review

Genuine guy. Debts galore. Confusing situations. Flow with confusions. Big Mess. All is well climax!! A few hundred films with a similar story line and ‘Makeup Man’ directed by Shafi starring Jayaram and Sheela in leading roles is no different.

Balu is an educated young man, presently under huge debts because of a failed attempt at business. The film opens with Balu trying to get into his ‘own’ house like a burglar, a neighbour witnessing this and Balu ending up in the police station where we come to know that he comes into his house in that manner to avoid creditors. To add to the situation Soorya, who is in love with Balu elopes from her house just before her wedding to be with him. Without money for even one meal Balu now has to fend for two people! He turns to his only friend Kichu, who is a film production manager. Kichu helps them get married with a lot of junior artists from films as witnesses and later on helps them spend a night at a hotel by adjusting them into a room assigned for the heroine of the film. The room was vacant for the time being as the director had fired the heroine that morning and it was on Kichu to find another new face as the heroine of the film. Confusions soon follow and Soorya ends up being cast as the heroine of the film. Owing to financial crunches Soorya and Balu have no other choice but to agree to this and to stay close to Soorya, Balu becomes her personal makeup man. What starts as a one-film thing later becomes a chain as Soorya starts getting offers for better projects and she too becomes interested in acting as a profession. Insecurities flow from Balu’s end as he expects her to be his wife but that ofcourse cannot be publically declared. He does make an effort on publicising it but fails as no proofs stand solid and Soorya denies it completely. What follows are efforts of reconciliation by Balu and Soorya and the drama that follows to a happy climax.

Makeup Man has a very conventional story and a very conventional climax too. There is nothing new that a viewer will take home with after the movie. The performances were good but Sheela can do a bit with some expressions also on her face. Overall Makeup Man did not work for me.

Kunchako Boban and Prithviraj Sukumaran were good in their guest roles playing themselves. The saving graces.

iVerdict: Average. One time watch may be.
Rating: 2/5       

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (English) - Movie Review

I have not read the Sisterhood series of books but I definitely loved ‘ The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’ and when I got the sequel of the movie I just could not help but watch it. The sequel ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2’ retains the original cast of Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively, Alexiz Bledel and America Ferrera in lead roles as Lena, Tibby, Bridget and Carmen – the four best gal pals since eternity.

The sequel starts off three years after the first movie ended and all four are perusing their personal interests – One is on the soccer team of her university, one is attending school of design, one is majoring in film making and one is attending college. The four again, as in the first movie, move away from each other for summer and as was the practice of the sisterhood each would keep the jeans for a week and would then pass them off to the next with a note. This summer one finds letters from the past tucked away, confronts the father on those and then goes away to an archeological dig and then to face the facts about the letters. The other finds an ex-flame married, goes away to the design school to get into a relationship but fails to find peace in any other relationship that she has. The third ends up consummating her romantic relationship in sex but things go wrong after that and a pregnancy scare puts her off radar from everyone including the sisterhood. And the fourth ends up as lead actress in a prestigious play rather than an actress’s assistant, as she had intended to be, followed by jealousy, backstabbing and insecurities. Amongst all these developments in the lives of the four protagonists the jeans keep getting exchanged with notes but the notes keep becoming less and less personal; and the sisterhood kept going away from each other. The climax is about how the jeans once again in the most unconventional manner bring the sisterhood back together.

This second part is much more saucier and bolder that the first part as the girls have grown up from high school to college and their problems and concerns are different now.  I loved the way the script remains realistic and grounded even if the pants give it a fairytale-ish twist. Though missed the converging shots in the first part, this one again is a well-shot, well-emoted, brilliantly executed movie.

Like the first part you just cannot get off the couch since the movie begins and I repeat Greece is so beautiful, especially the sea. Loved Shohreh Aghdashloo’s voice and dialogue delivery. A fan mam!

iVerdict: Very Good
Rating: 3.75/5      

Christian Brothers (Malayalam) - Movie Review

The stellar superstar cast of the movie was one reason why I really wanted to watch this movie. Christian Brothers – brings together Mohan Lal, Suresh Gopi, Dileep, Sharath Kumar and Kavya Madhavan together along with other character actors. A multi starrer, big budget film but disappointing watch.

The story revolves around a rich, retired Army officer - Palamattathu Varghese Mappala and his family. Mappala has two sons and two daughters – Christy, Jogy, Jessy and Stella. While Christy is a police informer in Mumbai, Jogy is sent to Italy to study for becoming a father, Jessy is married to a guy in Mumbai and Stella is at home with her father. Things take a dramatic twist when Jogy drops out of his course because he has fallen in love with Meenakshi and Jessy dies under suspicious circumstances. Christy is framed for his sister’s death by his brother-in-law and old Mappala believes the son-in-law over the son. There is a land mafia and his sons ready to do anything and killing the world over for a land which is bestowed to the local church and the papers of which lie in the safe in Mappala’s house. Meenakshi, who is also Kerala Home Minister’s daughter, is sent back home to Kerala from Italy because her relationship with Jogy has come to light and is kidnapped from the airport. The home minister asks for Christy’s help so he comes to Kochi. Jogy also comes back from Italy because Meenakshi is in Kochi. Christy finds out that the kidnapper is his brother-in-law. So the battle shifts from Mumbai to Kochi. Christy rescues Meenakshi but his brother-in-law is killed and Christy is framed with murder. Christy’s friend from Mumbai rescues him from police custody. Meanwhile an honest but bully police officer is Incharge of Christy’s case and he is also married to Stella. Meanwhile, Christy will not leave Kochi without finding his brother-in-law’s murderer and clearing his name.  

Christian Brothers is a case of two many cooks. The story line has too many layers and the unraveling is in a complicated manner. In the end the audience is left with a feeling that it was a complicated, very complicated story. The performances by all the actors in their individual capacities are really good but the film as a whole should have been better edited. The film completely relies on its star power and masala entertainment. The script should have been better worked on.

Christian Brothers does not work for me owing to its script and editing. I was felt with a feeling – when will this end!! Disappointed Joshiy.

iVerdict: Avoidable.
Rating: 1.5/ 5   

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (English) - Movie Review

A celluloid adaptation of the book by the same title of ‘The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants’ – the movie is awesome especially for someone who has not read the book.

The movie starring Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively, Alexiz Bledel and America Ferrera in lead roles is the story of four best friends - Lena, Tibby, Bridget and Carmen and how a pair of jeans adds spice to their lives changing it for good or bad. The four girls have always been together in highs and lows till now and when the movie starts are about to depart for summer – one is going to Greece, one to a soccer camp, one to stay with her dad and one at home making a documentary. Before they leave to walk into a store and all three convince Tibby to try on a pair of jeans. Just for fun sakes they keep convincing each other to try the same pair of jeans and they do but surprisingly the jeans fits all of them really well inspite of their range in sizes. All of them are convinced that the pair of Jeans are magical and decide to share it amongst themselves. At their secret hideout it is decided that each of them will keep the jeans for a week and then pass it on to the next person with a letter about their experience with the jeans. So the jeans will became a reason of keeping in touch with each other and hence they named it – The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants.

The movie takes us on a simple yet interesting journey of four young girls. A journey that all of us, especially the girls, can connect to. The film is well shot and well emoted. You do get involved in the joys and agonies of the characters and however tired once the film is rolling you will not leave the couch before the credits roll in the end.

And Greece is so beautiful & vibrant. Want to visit sometime. 

iVerdict: Good
Rating: 3.5/5           

Mattancherry - Place Review

Mattancherry - about 2 Kms from Fort Kochi in Ernakulam district of Kerala is a whole new world, infact it is a whole ‘old’ world. There is an old world charm about the place as most of the places you visit here are uncorrupted from the modernizations of our developed times.

Inside the synagogue
The first place you want to visit in Mattancherry is the Paradesi Synagogue or as it is locally known the Cochin Jewish Synagogue. It is a small, uncomplicated place at a corner of the Jew Street. It is one of the oldest active Jew Synagogues in the area and located in a silent corner it gives you a very pious and traditional feel as soon as you step in. Photography is strictly prohibited here and you have to submit all your belongings, except your wallet may be because you are charged INR 5/- to go in and visit the synagogue. As soon as you enter, towards the right you have a room with crude floors that display on the walls paintings that showcase the events that led to the building of the synagogue in the 15th Century. The paintings are in chronological order and tell you the story right from the advent of Jews in India to the building of the synagogue. The paintings tell you that the synagogue was built under the protection of the then King of Kochi on the land gifted by the King himself under the patronage of the Dutch and that is why the synagogue shares a wall with the Mattancherry palace temple. (And I think this once again shows the religious tolerance of the country from times immemorial.) 

Once you exit the paintings room, you enter the synagogue itself on the opposite side. At the entrance is a stone tablet installed into the wall – the tablet is in Hebrew and the inscription on it says that the tablet belonged to the first Jew synagogue in India at Kochangadi (in Kochi), which was built in the 13th Century.  The things that catch your attention as you enter the synagogue are the – ceiling and the flooring - many huge glass challendiers hang from the ceiling and hand painted porcelain blue and white tiles form the flooring. Apart from these distinctions the synagogue has very simple interiors and that ofcourse is the old world charm.

One of the shops in Jew Street
As you exit the synagogue building and walk towards the Mattancherry Dutch Palace you pass through streets that house the most exotic artefacts and spices in the area – The Jew Street in Jew Town. Both the sides of the streets are lined with shops in buildings that were once homes to the Jews in Kochi. Back in history the area was known as Jew Town as all its occupants were Jews who had settled here. Today baring a few, most of the ancient Jew families are no more here but the buildings are not much renovated and they scream out stories of the days that have gone by. If you have the patience, you will find all kinds of artefacts in the shops here in all shapes and sizes. Though commercialisation has hit the place due to the continuous inflow of foreigners to these streets but still this is the best place in the area to find a piece of history. A history enthusiast can spend days in these streets exploring history and the journey though times of these artefacts. 

The end of Jew Street takes you the entrance of another chapter in history – The Mattancherry Dutch Palace, which now is a museum and a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. Huge stone steps take you to the counter. After INR 5/- and a notification that photography not allowed you enter a whole different world. I had visited museums in North of India and I was definitely not prepared for this one.  Enchanted is an understatement. The palace as a museum basically houses the items used by the Royal family of Kochi – palquinns, clothes, headgears, utensils, lamps weapons etc. and the chronology of the rule of the royals in Kochi along with their full sized portraits in all royal gallantry but the beauty of the place lies more in its identity as a palace than a museum. The real beauty is its architecture and interiors. 

The history detailing at the palace museum tells us that the palace was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century and gifted to the king of Kochi as a way of atonement for destroying a temple under the King’s rule. The Portuguese built the palace in typical Travancore styled architecture Naluketta style (i.e. a squared structured with a courtyard in the centre.) But in this palace they did something special - they put a temple, of the deity of the royal family, in the courtyard. The palace mesmerises you in many ways. A mesmerizing thing I found was a pond to the southwest of the palace over looking the King’s Bed Chamber. A huge green water body – very enigmatic yet mesmerising. Siesta would have been heavenly in that chamber. The window overlooking the pond just holds you rooted there staring at the waters, but the most enchanting thing in the palace is – the Mural paintings.
Mural Painting

The palace walls are covered with Mural paintings with a religious theme. As you walk through the palace, most of the walls was covered in mural paintings, some unfinished but aesthetic all the same. The most mesmerising mural I found in the palace was in Gallery 1. – Lord Vishnu’s Mural. The colours are still after centuries un-impacted and just enchanting. The lower chamber of the palace, which housed the Queen’s chambers, contains a lot of unfinished murals but the detailing even in the blue prints is just very commendable. Again art enthusiasts can spend days just going through the detailing in the murals as well the architecture. Though built in Kerala architectural style you can find some European influences especially the door arches. But I did wonder why is it called the Dutch palace, if the Portuguese built it? I was told that the Dutch when they took over Mattancherry later on did some renovations to the palace – Hence the Portuguese built Travancore styled palace is called Dutch Palace. Seriously, Incredible India!            

As you leave all the history in the place behind there is Mattancherry Boat Jetty that can take you to Fort Kochi or Vypin Island or Bogatty Island on another adventure. I decide may be some other time. I had a very ‘historical’ time in Mattancherry. Would love to visit the palace sometime again and just keep staring at the Murals…..    

p.s. the mural painting and the synagogue picture are courtesy google images.