Thamasha Movie Review

What keeps you sit patiently and watch the one hundred and forty minutes of drama is the performance factor of the lead pair and their on screen chemistry that looks stunning. But apart from that, Tamasha from director Imthiaz Ali is enjoyable only in parts that fails to click completely.
Ved who is a fun loving and free-spirited guy and Tara meet for the first time in Corsica, an Island in France. They decide not to reveal their real identity to each other and introduce themselves as Don and Mona darling, the famous filmy characters from Bollywood. The couple spend some valuable time in the company of each other and return back to India parting ways.
But they bump into each other years later, four years to be precise but to Tara's surprise find that Ved has changed from that free-spirited youth to something that she could not imagine.
The fun element is mostly reserved for the first one hour or so. It seems Imthiaz Ali wanted to pass a strong message which he conveyed loud and clear in the post-intermission portion. Tamasha ask us to break out of the shell and live for our dreams revealing our true identity instead of keeping our aspirations close to our heart within ourselves. Something good that we can take back home.
Still the path through which Tamasha travel do turn boring with less excitement and as said, its the performance and Ranbeer-Deepika onscreen presence that helps the film to be a one time watchable one. They duo pump in lot of energy through their efforts and watching them on screen was a treat. The scene were Deepika breaks in front of Ranbeer confessing her mistakes was an absolute delight to watch and at the same time touchy too.
Tamasha has high visual appeal. Supported by excellent behind the camera works, S Ravi Varman has captured the beatiful Island of Corsica giving a rich and beautiful feel and colour tone to the film. One also cannot forget the contributions from music maestro A R Rahman whose tracks and background score had a magical and mystical feel to it.
One can find the director borrowing concepts already shown by himself here. How far you can enjoy the film and how you find the presentation of love and ways of living totally depend on your tastes. There are moments that will stay with you but taking the film completely, I could find it only as an average one. The rating is two and a half out of five for Imthiaz Ali's Tamasha.
Rating - 2.5 / 5

Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam Malayalam Movie Review

A movie that more than justify its tagline, thats Ranjith Shankar's Su.. Su.. Sudhi Valmeekam. The tagline says "Su+Su+Sudhi=Two Hours and Eleven Minutes of Happiness" and the film provide happiness and good positive energy. Its all the more heartwarming to note that the story is based on a true character who is close to the director himself.
Very few films these days can provide motivation and inspiration to the people watching it and Ranjith Shankar's latest flick belong to that genre of a film that oozes out these two factors for the entire running time without any drama or unwanted tensions.
Narrated in a very simple manner, the story is based on a real life character who has stammering disorder. Sudhi, the protagonist always find this a problem wherever he goes. Majority of this problem is created by the society by poking fun and also taking the stammering disorder as something big.
The film portray how he overcome the hurdles and transfer into a successful human being. In the process, certain people comes into picture playing a part in this transformation which is narrated beautifully through a well written screenplay.
Ranjith Shankar and Jayasurya join together after the success of Punyalan Agarbatis which had humour in the backdrop. So there are chances the viewers go with an expectation of such a film with fun element. But humour has very little or no presence here as the story doesn't demand such things though little dose of light hearted moments from Sunil Sugadha is there for some laughs.
The story is told by Sudhi himself to actor Mukesh who play himself and through a journey the plot takes its shape which doesn't lag or make one uncomfortable with a dull feel though the pace at which the events unfold is quite slow.
Jayasurya is in fine form as Sudhi and it was a perfect casting as the actor has brilliantly portrayed the character justifying the faith of the director in casting him. When portraying characters with physical disabilities and disorders, there are chances the acting not synching well with the character. But such a case here is out of question as we have a talented actor portraying that role.
Shivatha Nair made a convincing act as Kalyani. There is another girl also that has a small part to play and she was also a good choice. KPAC Lalitha, TG Ravi, Sunil Sugatha, Muthumani and Irshad are also there to support. Mukesh as himself impressed in an extended cameo. Aju Varghese this time was not in a comic role and his serious act was okay.
Vinod Illampally who earlier impressed me in Padmakumar's Jalam put in another notable work on the cinematography side. Edits were okay. Bijipal was able to come up with couple of good songs to his credit with matching background score.
Overall, Su..Su..Sudhi Valmeekam is a feel good family film that we can watch in a relaxed state of mind and offer lot of good things. It makes us change our attitude in a positive way without the tone of any preachings. I was impressed with the story, direction, treatment and good performance from Jayasurya. The message conveyed through a true story is something which we all can take back home and the rating is three and a half out of five.
Rating - 3.5 / 5

Rajamma @ Yahoo Malayalam Movie Review

Rajamma @ Yahoo, the catchy title give an impression of an all out and rollicking fun entertainer but in reality the fun part is there only in limited dose. Whatever humour and entertainment is there work only in parts.
There are moments of light hearted humour that can tickle the funny bone but the change of story from certain stage avoiding humour and replacing it with an out of place serious drama spoil the party for Reghu Rama Varma's debut outing Rajamma @ Yahoo that could not offer a fresh story nor treatment other than an attractive title.
Rajamma and Yahoo (nicknames of characters played by Kunchacko and Asif Ali respectively) are two brothers who lost their parents at a very young age leaving them with no one to look after other than few local people. The boys grew up in a huge house bought by their father which they cannot dispose off due to documentation problems. But the brothers earn their livelihood by renting out rooms of this huge house. One such renting lands them in some sort of trouble and connect them to some serious stuff.
Till the halfway mark, humour and fun in the script kept things moving but the introduction of the film where the brothers give a helping hand to the leading lady supporting her cause turned the tables around. From there the script turned out to be a pretty easy guessing game with too much cliches. There was scope for something good where the laziness and spoilt life style of the two protagonists could have been worked to the film's advantage but here it is a classic case of how such a chance is wasted.
As I said, there was ample scope for an all and out comedy entertainer exploiting the characters of Rajamma and Yahoo. But here what happened was their story was sidelined and the prominence angle shifted to someone and something else. Even the humour part I won't say have worked out completely. Some did evoke laugh while majority of the jokes fell apart.
Kunchacko Boban and Asif Ali made a great combination and sadly the director and the writing team could not take full advantage of their onscreen chemistry. Nikki Galrani didn't look comfortable in a half baked role but Anusree was able to make a mark for herself.
Hareesh in his typical slang and style was a saving grace and made sure his comic act was well accepted by the audience. Renji Panicker was okay while Shajon did a pretty good job but somewhere along the line, he goes missing from the scene.
Camera work was pretty decent. Editing was okay with some cuts not doing any good for the film. Music and background score from Bijipal was disappointing this time, which was quite surprising.
Overall, its a disappointing end result. Comedy and fun is what we expect from such films but sidelining that and bringing a predictable and uninteresting plot midway leaves the film on a sore note. The rating is one and a half out of five for Rajamma @ Yahoo, a film that has nothing to boast about.
Rating - 1.5 / 5

Jalam Malayalam Movie Review

Discussing a very strong subject and passing a very good message to the society, director M. Padmakumar's "JALAM" is a touching movie that makes for a compelling watch.
With a thought provoking subject with very huge relevance in a developing place like Kerala especially Kochi, Jalam is one movie where Padmakumar has gone one step ahead with his presentation compared to all his previous flicks without touching Vasthavam which is still my personal favourite out of all his films.
Before further digging more into Jalam, let me first salute the makers who have come up with a Charity film. If the information I have is correct, then this is the first of a kind for Indian movie industry. The hot topic of discussion in Jalam is landless people and all the revenue that is to be generated through the film will be used for the rehabilitation of landless peope.
What the film portray through an intense and powerful presentation of the story is about two couples who receive a small piece of land near Aluva as part of 'Pattayam' issued by the State Government. They dream of making a small house of their own but to their utter dismay find that the survey number through which the land has been issued belong to someone else. In other words, they have no rights whatsoever to this land and are left helpless.
Now the two of them doesn't give up but situation changes when the husband of the girl travels to his homeland Chengara to sort everything.
In the name of development, people's land is acquired but no one cares for their rehabilitation. Jalam discuss this topic. Same way, common man faces lot of hardship when it comes to approaching Govt offices and agencies for obtaining approvals and licenses. This is another issue shown in an honest manner. Chengara Land struggles that created big media attention and furore few years back is also playing a part here.
S.Suresh Babu is the screenplay writer of Jalam and he has written a convincing screenplay touching many issues that we face and come across in our daily life and that happen on a very frequent basis. Kudos to him and his director to come up with such a powerful film presented in a simple way.
Priyanka portray a character that has a very big screen presence right from the start till the very end. She has come up with a great attitude in presenting that character doing total justice to it and ensuring that the faith shown by the makers in casting her doesn't go wasted.
Jain Syriac as the husband was another actor who made his acting count. One scene that he made a mark and that is also a touching one is when he beg the Thahasildar to help him citing their dreams and the hardships they are facing currently. Sethulakshmi as usual did her part supported by Prakash Bare and P.Balachandran. Haresh Peradi looked less convincing this time in a role unsuited for him.
Neat cinematography by Vinod Illampally and backed by sharp edits from Ranjan Abraham. Ouseppachan did his part on the music and BGM side as per the demands of the theme but more than the music, its the lyrics that stood out with some powerful lines that matched the situation and issues.
I was deeply moved by the film and its content. Though at times it had a preachy tone on a minimal level, cannot ignore the noble intentions behind this venture and its relevant theme. My rating for Jalam is four out of five and a thumbs up to Padmakumar this time.
Rating - 4 / 5

My Life Partner Malayalam Movie Review

Well the courage and boldness shown in selecting the subject of gay relationship deserves a big round of applause. Apart from that, the film is a worthy watch for the presentation of the content as well as the genuineness in the treatment of the sensitive subject without giving any loose ends for a controversial discussion.
"My Life Partner" directed by M.B.Padmakumar won the second best feature film of Kerala 2014 and also has Sudev Nair sharing the best actor award with another actor.
Richard and Kiran are the two male friends. They come from an altogether different cultural background. When Kiran was going through a turbulent patch of his life, the care and support provided by Richard comes in handy as this love and care brought Kiran back to life.
They soon realize that if both of them care and love each other to this extent, they don't need a woman in their life and decide to start living together. Situations and their life change once they decided to have a baby in their life not by adoption which Indian law doesn't allow for a man to do so. The plan was to get Richard who is a bisexual marry and have a child.
Utmost care needs to be taken in the way subjects of this sensitivity is being handled and I should say the director who is a debutant has shown good level of maturity in dealing with it. More than the sexual relationship, its the emotional attachment and bonding between the two that are given focus.
There are chances the plot and dialogues might look indigestible and unnatural and at the same time giving a feel of embarrassment and awkwardness to the people watching it. That never happens which is a sign of the good work from Padmakumar as a director who is also the script writer of this film.
The film try to show that people who share the same feeling of attraction towards the same gender like the way the two protagonists Richard and Kiran share deserve a space in this society which look upon them as different species.
Contradictory to this approach, when the Phycologist character of Sukanya appear and counsel one of the pair, there is a tendency to show that there is some unnatural element against the nature in the relationships between same gender couples. So I think there is an attempt to support both the sides.
Though Prithviraj has done a gay character in Mumbai Police which they revealed in a single scene towards the end, it will be hard to find mainstream actors to do the roles enacted by Sudev Nair and Ameer Niyaz.
Both of them played it as per the requirements and out of which Sudev going one step further in portraying the character of Kiran look real and more convincing. Anusree, Sukanya, Valsala Menon and Geetha Vijayan are also part of the supporting cast. Bijipal's background score was apt and cuts by Sandeep Nandakumar were not bad either along with decent camera work.
Overall for its bold content and the way the delicate and sensitive subject was handled without creating any controversy of sorts, M.B.Padmakumar's My Life Partner is a good attempt in Mollywood breaking from the orthodox set up in terms of the subject. I am going with three and a half out of five as my personal rating for this film.
Rating - 3.5 / 5

Jilebi Malayalam Movie Review

There is nothing much to talk about the storyline of Jilebi, the debut film from Arun Shekar. But a feel good factor work positively for the overall outcome of the movie that lands it in a safe zone. A simple message in the end and some fine performances makes this Jilebi taste sweet.
Shilpa (Remya Nambesan) sent her little kids from Dubai to her home in Kerala where her parents and cousin brother Sreekuttan (Jayasurya) are staying. The purpose of Shilpa was to get the kids admitted to a boarding school in Kodaikanal. The story show how the kids spend few days with their grandparents and their journey with their uncle to the school that is narrated with a fun element in the backdrop.
Basically the film is trying to portray the importance of relationships and orthodox lifestyle which has become alienated in the present day world. Director deserves a pat on his back for conveying a nice message in the end without any preachings or melodrama. Of course the storyline is threadbare but little little moments with fun and familiarity that touch you keeps the movie going in the right direction and ultimately ending on a safe territory.
The character of Kuttan played by Jayasurya is a farmer who is a simple and down to earth man. All credits to actor Jayasurya for portrayal of that character in a convincing manner. Equally good was the two kids Master Gaurav and Baby Sayuri who happens to be director's daughter. The kids along with Jayasurya were the main highlight of the film with their natural rendition of their respective characters.
Remya Nambesan did a decent act as the mother of the kids while Sasi Kallinga and Dharmajan handled the comedy side evoking many laughs. Vijayaraghavan, KPAC Lalitha and Shaari are also part of the cast who all did a fine balancing act among the supporting actors.
Arun Shekar on his debut innings is able to make a mark and credit to him for generating the best in terms of performance from the little kids as well as Jayasurya and other senior actors. Screenplay was a simple one without any complex situations as per the demands of the plot. Cinematography was excellent giving the visual side a good lift. Bijipal played his part on the music side with his simple and soothing songs & BGM.
So here is one movie without any tall claims passes the litmus test and actor Jayasurya is again part of such a good film. Irrespective of what the box office does to the movie, I would recommend this film for a one time watch that will not disappoint you. I am going with three out of five for a sweet Jilebi.
Rating - 3 / 5

Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo Hindi Movie Review

Salman Khan came as Bajrangi Baaijaan a few months back as an ordinary man in a character without any amount of heroism. The actor returns again shedding all his macho image tags and again the role he is fitted into doesn't have any dose of larger than life element in it.
Sooraj Barjatya the man who gave us splendid hits like "Maine Pyar Kiya" and "Hum Apke Hain Kaun" wields the microphone again after a gap of almost nine years through "PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO".
Talking about PRDP, it seems the director is still obsessed with the melodrama of the nineties. The hangover of those period is looming large in PRDP. With an outdated content and a lengthy drama, the film is watchable only for the Salman factor and for the money thrown in on constructing a massive set which looks lavish and colourful giving the backdrop a much needed lift from sinking.
Prem Dilwale is the protagonist here who by coincidence lands up in a palace at Pritampur and had to fill the shoe of Yuvraj Vijay Singh. The interesting part here is that Prem and Vijay are lookalikes. Yes we have Sallu in a double role. Now how Prem manages this and how he handle Pritampur's would be Yuvrani is narrated in an old fashioned way in Sooraj Barjatya's Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo.
All the formulas and mannerisms employed by the director two decades back returns with no major changes. So if you are expecting a content which is fresh and novel, you better stay away from this.
As I said, the larger sets with a colourful background do give a bright appeal for the film. The art department can take credits for it but that alone cannot provide wholesome entertainment. The question is whether the story and presentation can make the audience sit through patiently for two hours and in this case it is two hours and fifty minutes which was too much considering the overdose of melodrama.
Salman makes a big impact in PRDP through his dual role. Its more or less a Salman show and the slightest chance of making this movie a watchable one is the screen presence of the actor. Sonam Kapoor was okay as Mythili. Anupam Kher put up an improved and noticeable effort as the Dhiwaan of the palace. Neil Nithin Mukesh, well nothing much to say about him. Rest of the actors could not make much of an impact except Swara Bhaskar as Vijay's younger sister.
Cinematography is perfectly done. Himesh Reshamiya's music and their choreography was perfectly matching the theme of the film. But in reality, one gets a feel of overdose of songs that only helped in loosing the connection with the plot and its flow.
I would put the film as an ordinary one watchable just for Salman Khan. Too much drama and a treatment that looks too old in the present day put Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo on a sticky wicket to bat on. The rating is two and a half out of five and that extra half goes to Salman's overall contribution.
Rating - 2.5 / 5

Anarkali Malayalam Movie Review

Seems the success wave that Prithviraj is riding on is to continue with a hatrick of victories. Anarkali is another good selection from him that he won't regret as the film is a beautiful and intense love story told in the backdrop of picturesque island of Lakshadweep. With excellent visuals and an engaging screenplay from writer Sachi of Sachi-Sethu duo, the directorial debut from the former is a well executed film that will stay for sometime after leaving cinema halls.
Shantanu who leaves the Indian Navy is a diving instructor at Kavaratty. But he has a haunting past that makes him land in Lakshadweep. Anarkali portray the purpose of his travel to this place and dig deep into the serious and intense love between Shantanu and Nadira.
Sachi is successful in presenting a convincing love story where the biggest factor that worked was the chemistry between the lead pair though the two characters are from different states showing language and religion has no place when it comes to the eternal feel of love.
The first half is excellent and end on a promising note. Though the same momentum could not be sustained in the second half, the story makes us root for Shantanu and Nadira. The second half in a way is too lengthy and it seems Sachy was running out of ideas about how to end the film. But everything gets recouped as the audience do not feel letdown once the film close out things.
On screen, Prithviraj once again deliver with a character that has two shades quite effectively. As the cheerful Naval officer and as the love struck and matured Shantanu, the actor portrayed his portions beautifully. Biju Menon in his trademark style handled the humour part and his combination with Pritvi was successful.
Priyal Gor played Naadira Jamam and fitted into that role perfectly. She play a North Indian and speaks Hindi throughout and hence she was in a safe zone since she hail from Mumbai. Kabeer Bedi as Nadira's father impressed with his voice and stubborn act.
I am yet to see Sudev Nair's My Life Partner that won him the State Award for Best actor that he shared with Nivin Pauly. As Naadira's brother speaking half Malayalam, the guy was quite good. Suresh Krishna as Koya talking in the local dialect of Lakshadweep was in a different role this time and quite convincing too.
Miya George along with a host of directors like Shyamaprasad, Major Ravi and VK Prakash appear in brief roles. Renji Panicker who was once a writer and director is a busy actor these days. He is also part of the drama along with Madhupal.
Anarkali the film would be incomplete without mentioning a word about cinematographer Sujith Vasudev. His visuals, frames and coloring pattern lifted the film a lot. Editing by Renjan Abraham is fine but certainly some trimming was required as the film is a tad too lengthy at 167 minutes.
Music by Vidyasagar is another highlight as the songs were apt and what was needed for a love story and as per the demands of this film.
So its more or less a perfect debut innings by Sachi in his role as a director. The film is a good one watchable for all. Barring that extended second half and little dose of lagness felt towards the latter stages, Anarkali is a movie you can definitely go and see without much thinking. The rating this time is three and a half out of five.
Rating - 3.5 / 5

Thoongaavanam Movie Review

The last time we saw actor Kamal Hassan in a stylish makeover was in Gautam Menon's "Vettaayadu Vilayaadu". Kamal returns in another stylish get up this time in Thoongaavanam, an action thriller that has the actor occupying bulk of the screen presence in a screenplay written by the man himself.
Thoongaavanam is a speedy thriller that makes a decent watch. Though the plot have many loose ends to fix and also the presence of certain illogical stuffs do make the film on a sticky terrain at times, our leading man takes the film forward till the end. One can say he singlehandedly takes it on his shoulders as he has very little support from the supporting cast though there is an ensemble list of actors to support Kamal.
An adapted version of French film "Sleepless Nights", which I have not seen, the remake from what I have read have not deviated much from the original.
Ninety percent of the movie happen in a night club where Diwakar played by Hassan is in search of his kidnapped son who is in the hands of a drug mafia that is lead by Vittal Rao. Why he landed there and why his son is kidnapped and whether he can rescue his son from the clutches of the gang is what is that is shown in the film.
Director Rajesh M Silva has ensured that the film is engaging throughout the entire duration and he has succeeded in that for the most part except for some minor glitches and slowness in some portions.
There is not much of a suspense involved here as we are literally shown or the revelations are made at an early stage of the film. So in that way the suspense element is almost nullified or killed by halfway. But that doesn't make the Thoongavanam a bad or an underwhelming movie.
On the making side, the film is entirely focused on the character of Diwakar. Rajesh has given a stylish getup for Kamal Hassan with less doses of slow motions. But there are actions that he had to perform and in those sequences, there is no amount of larger than life element in the character of the protagonist.
Talking about action which is one of the major highlight of Thoongaavanam, the action team has done an excellent job to give the film a different dimension. Cinematography is done nicely supported by sharp edits. Background score by Ghibran also lifted the film and the score was perfect for the mood that a thriller film demanded.
If you ask me to list down the major highlights, I would say apart from the presence of Kamal, it would be action choreography, camera work and BGM.
Art department too deserves special mention and have done something good for the film. Sound design is another notable aspect that deserves to be lauded.
Now to the acting, I was impressed with Kamal Hassan as he almost runs the show here with a clean act conveying the emotions of a lost dad and at the same time keeping the look of a cop intact. But sadly he received little support from a big line of actors like Prakash Raj (some funny scenes worked), Sampath and Kishore. Not that they performed badly but didn't reach a level expected from such a line up.
Trisha has done some action sequences here to the best of her abilities but on the emoting side, she was not in a convincing act. The boy who acted as Kamal's son was good in that role. Not sure what was Asha Sharath doing there in a very inconsequential role.
May be it is not upto the expected level but the film is sleak and stylish with a reliastic treatment that lost on pace as the movie progressed. But citing this reason of sluggish pace in the second half; one cannot disregard the film. An intriguing thriller that has its ups and downs, Thoongaavanam is a film worth watching and my rating is three out of five.
Rating - 3 / 5

Ottal Malayalam Movie Review

Jayaraj's 'Ottal' is already in the limelight winning multiple awards at National level. It also happens to be the Best Film at the Kerala State Awards in the year 2014. Now the film has reached theatres and about the movie it won't make you disappointed but rather it will make you root for the character of Kuttapayi and Vallyappachaayi, the two central characters around which the story of Ottal move along.
Adapted from Anton Chekhov's acclaimed short story 'Vanka', this film through a simple narrative will definitely touch you. Jayaraj has added some finely crafted moments without any gimmicks, exaggeration and melodrama that form the very basic ingredients to create the required feel making us instantly connect with the plot.
Vallyappachaayi, also called 'Thaaravu Mappila' and Kuttapayi are the two pivotal characters here and Ottal show us the deep bond, love, friendship and the relationship that the old man share with the boy. As a flashback story, the film show the hardships and cruelty that the boy suffer later on but not on a detailed level and is conveying a strong message against child labor.
Be it extracting excellent performances from the actors, telling the tale through utmost simplicity and directing it to a level that should make a film look remarkable, Jayaraj has succeeded in giving each and every aspect of direction deliver the goods.
After the final moments and one comes out of the cinema halls satisfied, there are finer moments as a takeaway for the audience which will stay with us for sometime. Credit for that goes to the writer and the director for the execution of the screenplay in the best possible manner.
There are only a very few actors in the film as the central theme is knitted around two characters. Kumarakom Madhavan and Master Akshanth are rank new comers but never show that they are facing camera for the first time except very few scenes where they couldn't deliver the expected feel.
Shine Tom Chacko as the 'Mesthiri' has very little role to play but was able to make sure he did his part in a positive way. Few other supporting actors are also part of the film and they didn't create much of an impact.
The visuals of Kuttanad have been brilliantly shot from the camera angle of M J Radhakrishnan. His frames looked too beautiful. Music is composed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker and background score done by Sreevalsan J Menon. Both of them did their part as per the demands of this film.
So here is a film that you shouldn't miss. Ottal is successful in conveying the message it wanted to. Served to the audience in a raw and different format without any commercial flavours, the film has the stuff in it to make the audience appreciate the effort behind it. I will go with three and a half out of five for this work from Jayaraj.
Rating - 3.5 / 5

BEN Malayalam Movie Review

From a relevance perspective, the content discussed in Vipin Atley's "BEN" has very high importance in modern day. The film can definitely act as an eye opener to parents who are almost close to the characters discussed in Ben.
With a neat execution and presentation, the film is a worthy watch and deserves appreciation for Atley who makes a return this time as writer cum director after Homely Meals in which he had a different role to play as an actor apart from writing the screenplay.
The story revolves around a joint family located at Mulavukad, which is twenty five kilometres from Ernakulam boat Jetty. So we have our title protagonist, Ben who is a young boy not much interested in studies. His mother who was not able to study in a good institution wants her boy to go to the best of schools in the City that force the family to relocate to the City.
This doesn't go well with the child as he couldn't come to terms with the city school life that makes him a disturbed character and from here the film takes us to his problems thereafter.
You cannot call "BEN" a children's film. Well it is only partially. Till the halfway mark, there are lighter moments with little humour that suit the young as well as the matured ones. From post-intermission, the film focus on the main content which is somewhat dark.
All the characters have an innocent makeover in them especially since the story unfold in a remote village. Vipin Atley's direction is on the right track that makes the film a watchable one for the most part. He is showing promise here and his future looks good from here on.
One thing that I could not digest is the heavy and matured dialogues coming from the three kids and this happens in the first half which was a bit too much. Also some amount of melodrama towards the end also is a small negativity in an otherwise good film. But these were tolerable and doesn't do any harm for the film's overall likeable aspect.
Gaurav Menon appearing in the title role was a good casting and he puts up a matured performance in the shoe of a child. Apart from Ben, there is another child character named Chaami and he was also impressive and made us laugh as and when he appear.
Suraj Venjaramudu as Ben's father and Anjali Aneesh Upasana as the boy's mother were notable with their acting along with Rajesh Sharma, Anwar Shereef and Kalabhavan Haneef. Good cinematography, edits and BGM from the people who handled these technical sides.
A watchable film with a good message and strong performance, "BEN" directed by Vipin Atley is a sincere attempt with its heart at the right place that will touch you. But with little marketing and promotion happening for the film, it will be difficult to make a strong impact at the all important box office unless word of mouth and promotions in the coming days help out. My rating is three and a half out of five.
Rating - 3.5 / 5

Salt Mango Tree Malayalam Movie Review

It is a known fact that getting admission for today's children to some top English medium schools in Cities is no mean task. But is it a herculean task? Thats what "Salt Mango Tree" try to say in a humorous and fun filled way.
The story focus on Aravind and Priya, a middle class couple. The former runs a medical shop while the latter is an Accountant working in a local firm. Shedding light on the present educational system, "Salt Mango Tree" show the effort the two protagonists put together to get their only son admitted to some reputed English Medium school in the City.
Having enough scope for taking a dig at the educational system, interview boards and the way interviews are conducted for children and parents at the time of admission, the spoofing with the humour in the backdrop do act as the entertaining portion in the film.
But the overdose of melodrama at many places makes the proceedings dull. What saves the film from these negative moments are definitely the comedy part, the simpler narrative and Biju Menon's style of acting we see from him these days.
The amount of effort and training that the parents of the children putting in to get their wards admitted to schools was a bit exaggerated.
Rajesh Nair who couldn't taste any box office success in "Annum Innum Ennum" and "Escape from Uganda" direct "Salt Mango" Tree that unconvincingly try to pass some relevant and valuable messages. But in the process the film becomes too preachy. Though watchable primarily for the one liners and comic timing of Biju Menon, the film follow a steady path right from the start till the end.
Biju Menon is the backbone of the film. Without him it would have been an incomplete product and his performance show us he is a bankable and reliable actor even when the chips are down or falling.
Lakshmi Priyaa Chandra whose voice is dubbed quite well makes a perfect foil to Biju Menon as his better half but she was found wanting at some places. Sudheer Karamana, Suhasini, Saiju Kurup, Paris Laxmi, Indrans and Sunil Sugadha are also part of the cast. A special mention to Haresh for his lively comic act in that typical Kozhikodan style.
Cinematography by Vishnu Sharma created a pleasing feel for the eyes. Edits were also fine. Music is by Hesham Abdul Wahab who has done a decent job with his songs. Same opinion about Bijipal's background score which can be trusted on most times.
So now the question is how the movie can be categorised or graded. Of course it is watchable for the humour content and a sincere act from Biju Menon.
The story and narration is pretty straightforward, simple and relevant but too much preachings and some unwanted melodramas puts this family film to be an average one. My rating is two and a half out of five for Rajesh Nair's "Salt Mango Tree".
Rating - 2.5 / 5