Wednesday, 25 March 2009

(Much Delayed) Review - Pattiyaal

After multiple watching of the film I last reviewed (
I know its not a movie you can expose yourself to multiple times in a short time-span, but yeah, I did) I just had the idea of dusting off Arya's earlier movies. I thought his commitment to his character(not to mention the hype) in Naan Kadavul was so tremendous, it kind of overshadowed his performance itself (does not mean it was not good in any way). Therefore, I re-ran my copy of Pattiyal, one which gave him a more commanding character, atleast screen-time wise. Now I have not seen Bangkok Dangerous, so I wouldn't know about the much talked about influences and therefore you wouldn't be reading any comparative study, if there was to be any, at all.

The story deals with the life of Selva(Bharath) and Koshi(Arya), two orphaned youths, plying their trade as ruthless(
putting the chill into cold-bloodedness) contract killers. In the loose unorganized network of the Chennai underworld, middle-man Sami(Cochin Hanifa) provides them with information on their targets, they go home watch a few movies for inspiration, executes the said targets clean and precise, collects their reward and goes on about their otherwise normal lives without much ambition. In the midst of all this is Sandhya(Pooja) and Saroja(Padmapriya) their respective love interests. One such day Sami agrees a deal for a hit on Nachimuthu Gounder(Santhanabharathi), a big-name in business and politics, this time around in Coimbatore. Selva wants to bring the dangerous lifestyle to an end and start moving on, and Koshi agrees that it would be their last deal, and use the big amount they are promised to mend their lives. From here it leads onto a brilliant climax letting us enjoy, the much ignored, edge of our seats.

Now the good part of reviewing a not-so-new movie is the fact that I do not have to stress if the movie is good or not. The word is out already, so all I have to do is justify it. There are so many factors that contribute to the success here. Behind the cameras, Nirav Shah deserves high praise, for the stylish but simple visuals devoid of the usual gimmicks similar movies abuse. There are no weird, head ache inducing angles(
Or fast cuts and the like for that matter. Well done Sreekar Prasad(editor)). The director, Vishnuvardhan, as such has opted for the realistic approach, be it the frames, characters, their behaviour, outfits, the walk and the talk. The portrayal of the various relationships - Selva and Koshi, their friendship and trust, in a totally believable, touching yet entertaining manner; Koshi and Saroja, his rough and playfully careless demeanour about her, were well etched out and is a treat to watch, which also owes to the performances. Coming to that department, Arya was a pleasure to watch, he goes on from killer mode to the friendly, witty guy effortlessly. His performance is only outshined by Bharath, as a deaf and mute, who does splendidly to communicate with the audience(and the characters) through his facial expressions and the eyes, which spoke volumes, especially towards the closing scenes. Padmapriya's character was a cast against type, but she did well enough to get out of her usual serious/gloomy image, with a chirrupy performance. Pooja showed potential and handled her emotional scenes well. Cochin Hanifa, though in a rather negative character, provided a few laughs and was commendable overall. The music by Yuvan Shankar Raja is mostly catchy, but the background score is even better.

The Selva-Sandhya angle could have been better, but is saved by individual performances. Also the movie could have done without a few scenes, like the scene where Selva & Koshi goes to intimidate the movie actor, which was over-the-top and could have been avoided seen as there is plenty of humour filled scenes, without being over the top, throughout (
Selva's interaction with the Coimbatore connects or vice versa). But then it was not made with the idea of making the perfect film, as it's not trying to contribute anything new to cinema. But what it does is, deliver a not so unique story in a refreshing, stylish package with rich contents filled with well executed scenes(no puns intended) and good performances, and successfully at that.

The movie was well received, alike by critics and audience(
and torrent downloaders). The fact that Tamil cinema was on low tide, at the time, also contributed to the film's floating to the top. If you have not watched it yet, I'd recommend you hurry up and get your copy right away. If you have, it's still worth another watch. If you are a Malayalee, then definitely, while hoping Sagar Elias Jackie would be to Malayalam what Pattiyal was to Tamil, if not better.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Naan Kadavul - An Interpretation Attempt

For a director of such a small filmography as Bala to command such anticipation for his new film, is testimony to the quality of his work. As such, Naan Kadavul, his fourth work as director had attracted lot of pre-release attention, especially with the film being under production for nearly 3 years. Not unlike his earlier films, there are his signature attributes all over the latest, from the various odes to old movie tracks to the abnormal hero, the shocking realism and the bloody violence.

Aham Bhrahmasmi - The whole theme of Naan Kadavul revolves around this often misinterpreted Vedic phrase. Rudra, played by Arya, is an Aghori Sadhu who believes in this. He considers himself as God, that if the evil had to be fought it would be best done by himself and that when death is a punishment to the evil, it is more of a blessing to those who are suffering. These might be extreme views, but let's look around in today's society. Our current affairs are extreme. This brings us to the parallel track of the film. A tormentor and the tormented. Bala's frames unveil the painfully disturbing view of the beggar mafia. The beggars, played by real beggars, are themselves as painful to look at, as they are, to be in such mental and physical abnormality. But their conditions are made worser by the exploitation of their misfortune by an organised gang who search, find and group such people and send them to beg in trains, temples and other public places or just sell them to similar-minded exploiters. (The muthalaali, Thaandavan, played menacingly by one of Bala's regulars, Rajendran, in one particular scene does refer to actually designing or rather further deforming a beggar, so as to gain the person more sympathy.) They are also violently reprimanded for every undesired act. A pretty hard to stomach affair even with the subtle dark humour cleverly sprinkled around.

Critics are always ready to jump the wagon on this regard as in Bala's films are uneasy to view and whether there is a purpose in these overly morbid approach than just for shock-value. In the current state of affairs, where the country is firmly regarded as one of the best developed places in recent years, the swift growth we are witnessing, we need someone to atleast remind us of the neglected, simply because along with the rest of the society its also time that's running away from them. That's where Bala succeeds, in creating a character(or a group, thereof) that are undoubtedly suppressed and tormented in every form; with the additional advantage of actually bringing this relevant but often ignored social problem into proper light. Where he fails though is in the fact that, in highlighting the plight of these characters, the Rudran character and plot remains slightly under-developed. Some of the many
ganja smoking scenes could have been traded in for a more deeper character study which would have given the movie a refreshing energy too, that it sometimes lacks. Religion is a very touchy subject, and even masters of similar subject tones can sometimes end up pushing the wrong buttons. (This might have been a reason as there are Hindus who readily disown the Aghori sect due to certain extremities associated with them.) But the plot still calls for some polishing.

In other technical areas, camera work by Arthur A. Wilson is top notch, especially the opening scenes at Kasi and the tense scenes approaching the climax, with the right mix of colours all the while maintaining the dark tone of the movie. Music and background score by the maestro Ilayaraja is also superbly apt, considering the situations. Another accomplishment by Bala is the complete and, more importantly, successful transformation of both Arya and Pooja, who plays a blind singer. They both are virtually unrecognizable physically as well as when performance is considered. Very well realised. Even the rest of the cast do their roles well, perhaps because they are actually living the plight.

Unlike Bala's previous films, this movie brings two totally different characters to a common place. Their only similarity would be the fact that they are both sections of the society that are neglected or elusive and as such of unknown attributes that we cannot relate to. Therefore, the film has lots of potential to open up various perceptive interpretations. Whether we can match those of the director's and concur to his views would determine its success. In spite of this Bala deserves praise for the effort, and for keeping with his usual sense of realism in the midst of a clouded cinematic climate, eagerly waiting for a drop of originality.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Music Review - Brother Ali : Shadows On The Sun

This hiphop thing is universal. Its beyond the music, its about the looks, the swagger to the mindset and beyond. So what if the image doesn't matter? For your average rapper this might be a case of worry, as most of them rely heavily on the gangsta/rich/ex-coke dealer image that they've managed to impose upon themselves but within these shells the soul is more or less lacking.

Brother Ali, a devoted Muslim, was known as a battle rapper who frequented the Scribble Jams and has won many a fans with his unique punchlines and delivery, and that he is an albino rapper, which as experience has taught me is a good thing as the only other such rapper, Krondon from Xzibit's
erstwhile Strong Arm Steady crew is also pretty good. Brother Ali then signed with Slug's Rhymesayers Entertainment and dropped Rites Of Passage in 2000. This gathered him wider but limited publicity (considering it was a casette only release and the lucky owners of that album would now be running eBay empires) but mostly some loyal fans plus, more importantly, gave hints that he has more to him than just battle rhymes and punches. His various cameos in hiphop's underground universe served its purpose of keeping the fans happy as such fucking with their appetite for more, turning 2 of them from Minnesota into wolves overnight.

Shadows On The Sun was the answer and in an ideal world where you could judge by the cover, you'd right away say some good shit. The album, produced entirely by Ant earned so much acclaim that there was a demand for the previous album to be re-released as a CD, which Rhymesayers did on a later stage as a limited edition pre-order bonus with his third release, The Champion EP.

Room With A View: Im always a sucker for good storytelling. A good example of that would be this track where Ali paints a picture of his neighbourhood and growing up there. The beat is more than engaging, the delivery is full of energy and the way the lines are put together looks so effortless that all in all this song is just brilliant.

Champion: Switch gears and we are presented with a battlesque track with enough braggadocios rhymes as one would have expected from a title like that. Im not the biggest fan of the chorus for some reason.

Star Quality: Similar in vein to the previous track where Ali explains why he's to be considered star quality but except this time he does it over a more laid back beat that sounds so peaceful that you wouldn't either notice or you'd ignore the fact that he's trying to convince you/the invisible foe of your incompetence and how your approach is 'ass crack backwards'. The fact that he also has some genuine humour sense does help his mission.

Prince Charming: This is a song where Ali finds the girl of his dreams and tries his best to charm her, but instead she files a restraining order against him. The song is strangely amusing and you start to notice a couple things by this point. 1 - Apart from all this me-better-than-you rhymes Ali can also make fun of himself for amusement sake. 2 - Ant. Where the hell had they been hiding him? The 4 beats so far got more soul than probably half of all the mainstream beats from 2003!

Win Some Lose Some: Urban tales, but all the things said about the earlier tracks do apply here too. Now this is good as in the album is so consistent, but at the same time its been on a rather same level so far that some individuals may start feeling a monotony. But the song taken individually, you cant really complain.

Pay Them Back: By this point you notice 2 things. 1 - The vocabulary and wordplay in less than half an album here would equal your average rappers entire discography and then some. 2 - Fuckin Ant. Where the hell had they been hiding him? Well we did notice him already, didnt we?

Blah Blah f/ Slug: This is a funny track where Ali & Slug go back & forth about random shit. The beat is minimalistic and a step down from the standard set so far.

Shadows On The Sun: Just when we thought Ant was stepping down he goes back a couple notches and delivers a banger. When Brother Ali says that he 'keeps an eye on heaven and an ear to the street' it kind of sums up the vibe of this album. Brother Ali's flow is super smooth on this song.

Forest Whitiker: Its only a personal verse and a sung chorus and from what he's suggesting here, he's got a point.

Bitchslap: The beat is as old school as it can get. The rhymes are again punchline heavy. Replay value may not be the song's strong point. Slug is on the chorus but is not credited in the titles.

Backstage Pacin: By now you notice another thing. Whenever it comes to a point where you feel the momentum is going down these guys jump right back. This song flips 3 different situations where a show promoter, a newbie rap crew and then Brother Ali himself is backstage pacing trying to get in control of their respective situations at hand. Good shit.

When The Beat Comes In: The beats a banger. For the peaceful looking person Ali is he is a monster when he's got a mic in his hand.

Missing Teeth f/ Slug: Almost the same as Slug's other verse feature except this is more aggressive.

Dorian: Ali tells a story about confronting an abusive neighbour and is caught in some misunderstanding. You cant help but notice that he's got a unique style when it comes to story telling and once again good humour in the right places always help. The outro where he is teaching his baby to recite Qur'An is sweet.

Soul Whisper: Is as such not a rap, but more of a poem plus an Arabic verse from the Qur'An.

Picket Fence: Brother Ali posts an honest portrayal of who he is and the difficulties he had to face growing up and the rare looks of sympathy and love that helped him move ahead. Touching. Very good material.

Victory: The album couldn't have been closed any better as this song has Ali flexing his lyrical muscle once again to send his message across. The beat is good which has been the story of this album.

After you listen to the album one time over you would not doubt Ali's lyrical prowess. It is best utilised when he is trying to tell a story or to get a valid point across. Ali uses it to great effect and the honesty and passion in his words cannot be overlooked, which makes his rhymes whether dipped in religious tones or personal tribulations worth listening to. It also helps that Ant has brought out the best funk & soul laid canvases for Ali to paint his vivid pictures over. It does get to a plateau around the halfway mark but they bounce it up again and there are some real gems to be found all over.

Listen to:
Room With A View

Friday, 10 October 2008

Music Review - Slipknot: All Hope Is Gone

I prefer not to write reviews of new albums. Most albums that I like today are the ones that have grown upon me and, if I think about it, most of these were hated during early listens. So this is a change of trend considering Slipknot only released this album less than a couple months ago. But during this period I'd travelled a lot and therefore the CD had the chance to spin numerous times in my discman(No, I dont own an iPod, thanks for asking. Yeah, you didnt ask). So the point was that I had a number of spins to bring myself to a less rushed conclusion. I've still got the CD in my backpack where it would stay for a while, after which it will go sit with my other CDs in a crate. How often I would dust it off and throw it back in my bag remains to be seen. But their last album, Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, has done that bit of shuttling around more times than the masked metallers change song pace in this new album of theirs.

But this LP, at that, is nothing like V3: TSV. With Slipknot, its not just the masks that are evolving. Its the music. In recent interviews more than one member has stressed the fact that there is more to Slipknot than just music. They have evolved from almost Nu-Metal-ish shock band to something more brutal to something more controlled & brutal to something else. That something else needs to be defined by the listener. Sometimes they are moving in the direction you've wanted them to, and then they surprise you, take a u-turn and move away from you. This is exactly why the band has earned massive numbers of fans as well as haters. What Slipknot is trying to do is not tread into the paths that you want them to but ride a pack onto unique paths that they've just laid. Some follow, some might jump off. With their previous opus, there were more people that jumped on than off. Reason 1- Guitar solos; 2- Joey Jordison. The latter has become an indispensable and defining part of the crew in recent years that even haters of the band cant brush off the skills the man brings to the table. The former has given the band a more meaningful heaviness to their brand of music and has attracted some people that had earlier wrote them off as mere nu-metal gimmicks with masks.

.execute - If you were expecting something in the vein of previous intros like Prelude, this is nothing like that. In a bad way. The jokes are easy. Bad execution. If you are listening to it on headphones take this as a warning. This is migraine inducing.

Gematria(The Killing Name) - 20 seconds into the song and you will immediately forgive them for the torture the intro was. Good chugs and riffs and some good drumming which makes it sound more like thrash metal and less like normal Slipknot. The lyrics didnt matter much, but Slipknot is hinting at changes already.

Sulfer - One thing Slipknot has always reveled at was proper songwriting and choruses. A pretty good example would be this song. Joey Jordison drums all the way to hell and back on this track. Definitely a good track.

Psychosocial - Back to thrash metal elements. This is a song were Slipknot actually started making use of all its extra members. There is good guitar work and Corey Taylor brings some versatility to his usual screams with a sung hook. The song to watch out for on their tours. So far so good.

Dead Memories - This is when the problems start. This is in no way a bad song. But it doesnt belong anywhere here. Maybe Corey mixed up writings for Stone Sour or something. That is probably where this belongs.

Vendetta - Back to heavy. This is not usual Slipknot either. Check out the death metal influences. Throughout the album, excellent drumming can be seen as a constant theme and that includes this one.

Butcher's Hook - This is like one of them early era Slipknot tracks, super angry, explicit but with their new found noise control and good use of the guitar and good use of their extra 2 percussionists. The team work factor is actually paying off very well.

Gehenna - This song could be a hit or miss. It has both the softer and darker elements of the band on it. There is some singing, roaring. Some admittedly good soloing towards the middle. It sounds like one of them epic songs that a band would play live after a couple mosh heavy songs, just so the fans could take a breath or go buy a couple beers.

The Cold Black - This is another vintage multi rhythmic brutal Slipknot. But with the added bonuses of some actually good riffing and solos sprinkled in. Picture Korn when they were good.

Wherein Lies Continue - Yet another heavy track. Nothing new otherwise. Slipknot does actually try to send some messages through this album.

Snuff - Acoustic Slipknot with some actual singing. This is actually one of the less heavy tracks on the album. The lyrics are actually audible this time and it disappoints as it treads the cheesy grounds. With an evolving sound one would wish for some evolving theme to your lines, Corey!

All Hope Is Gone - Noisy, screamy with lots of clanging. This is back to V3 era Slipknot in a good way. I wish they had more guitar solos towards the end. But its a strong finale nevertheless.

There were lots of press about how the band has internal conflicts(which has been the flesh of rumours throughout their career). But listening to this album and experiencing how effectively they team up and work off of each other, you'd think all those press shiz is Borat. The album is rather a strong offering from the 9 piece. Slipknot has picked up the good bits from their previous offerings and abandoned some bad bits that attracted the most hate and as such would easily please a current fan. The good songs here are really good, the others are not necessarily bad but may not belong or is not compatible with the Slipknot image, but its still worthy of appreciation given the fact that they were bold enough to experiment. Haters have lesser reasons to hate them now but fans have all the reasons to smile their way to the store and back. The hope is not gone. Buy.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Seelabathi: Cinema Can Be Art!

In my previous entry I said that I ran across a few movies, well this was one of them. But I didn't buy it as 

1) Apart from Kavya Madhavan and Narein none of the names or faces rang a bell.
2) As much as Kavya can be a good actress when she chooses to, what if this is normal romantic fare? 

Classic example of see-cover-no-judge case there for me. I went home, did a small online research(where else do you research these days anyway), came across one review, one torrent and one stream. To give you a quick verdict, the movie is on my delivery queue now.

R. Sarath, the writer/director of this movie had previously done 2 movies. Sayahnam(2000) had won numerous state, national and international awards/recognition but maybe around 25 Rupees as box office collections. The second, Sthithi(2002), that starred singer Unni Menon may have fared slightly better as I remember the song 'Oru Chembaneer' was on regular play on most TV channels. Thus the movie starts and Im immediately disappointed at the quality of production. Video is maybe of a normal TV Serial quality, and Im sure I heard the microphone boom and crackle once or twice or maybe Im being too cynical. But you'd forgive all that once you get a proper view of the locations and the serenity of the environment, where the story is about to be unveiled. Sumangala(Urmila Unni) and her daughter Seelabathi(Kavya) is visiting their native village in Kerala, from Kolkata. Sumangala is the subject of a female worship ritual at the local temple. The director cleverly inserts a few scenes that capture the mismatch of attitudes, though trivial, among the new and older generations. Sumangala, though reluctantly, leaves her daughter back as she returns when the head teacher of the local school offers a temporary job for Seelabati, who is awaiting results of her computer PG. Though, not without some initial troubles, Seelabathi soon blends in with the life of the village and she makes it a practice to look after her ill grandfather, taking him to the doctor etc. The gentle and caring doctor Jeevan(Narein), is also a newcomer to the village. Seelabathi, though evidently only an everyday young girl, win the hearts of her students with her friendliness, which is misinterpreted by some. The peace and quiet of the village was soon to be disturbed as many new machinery, brought to the village to dig bore-wells, which in its discreet loudness also effects the availability of water and overall balance of life. Director Sarath quite cleverly juxtaposes the woman, with the earth. The village that practiced female worship earlier is now disturbed with the news of young abused girls and chaos. The director easily switches between the earth and woman angles, delivering subliminal symbols and messages throughout, like when the grandfather who's overly worried about his cattle, the negligence and death of one, and later the row among the women over collecting well-water. This is also what makes the film seemingly simple, but complex on repeated watching, which ofcourse I did, finding a new interpretation on each. The effect it has on Seelabathi forms our view of direction, which can only be understood once its watched.

In the acting department, its not anyone's movie. Noone can be said to be better than an other, in one of the best group performances seen on screen lately. It would be difficult to pick one character who hasn't preformed naturally. The crew being rather unknown faces help, as it is easy for us to picture them as everyday villagers, as opposed to stars/actors. If there was one star in the movie it would be the writer/director for being able to produce a controlled performance from the cast and more importantly for creating the characters the way they are. Also to be noted is the cinematography(in-spite of the downs concerning quality as aforementioned), the framing and overall environment with props to Anand Balakrishnan who is credited for photography. He captures just what you'd have in mind when you think of a peaceful and unadulterated village with people brimming with innocence and devoid of the crookedness associated with a more
modern society. There are 2 songs, both fitting the aura of the theme, one at the intro and another after the end credits, penned by Mohan Varma and composed by Ramesh Narayan who also scores the background music.

Cinema can be a message, a means of entertainment; this is art, with messages for those who care to give it a little time and thought. Im sure, there are more gems out there that can warrant you spending your time and money on them. If only a share of the money, spent on the atrocities and lunacy-fests we call blockbusters, were spent on promoting meaningful cinema, that can be categorised as art with a guilt-free mind! Wishes eh?

Monday, 16 June 2008

Pakal: Appreciation

I was looking through this collection of Malayalam CDs at this local store the other day. As much as the news of rental libraries back in the old country had shocked me, the cheap prices of the new originals and their ready availability did bring a smile to my face. And anyways, I ran across these few movies that I never knew existed, and quite recent ones at that. One among them was Pakal, released towards the end of 2006, and starring Prithviraj as a central character.

The movie is directed and penned by M.A. Nishad, of whom I'd never heard either, which is not surprising considering this was his first attempt at movie making. As the initial scenes would immediately make aware, the film rolls around Panakkaamkudi, an agricultural village in Wayanad, Kerala. A village where continuous crop failure, low demand, debts and 'political politics' have pushed the life of the, mostly immigrant, farmers, to the edge. Nandakumar(Prithviraj) and Abu(Sudheesh) are reporter and cameraman, respectively, of Kerala Today TV channel. After their report on a recent suicide involving the family of a Panakkaamkudi farmer, they are sent to the village to produce a detailed coverage of the plight. They come across various characters, Kunjappan(Thilakan) with his ongoing strike of 14 years against Governmental injustice his family had to suffer, Thenginthottathil Joseph(T.G. Ravi) who along with his 4 daughters, see death rather a saviour as they try to push their lives forward. Among the suffering villagers, is Ummachan(Jagadhish), a local loan shark, who himself is a cause of unrest for many indebted farmers and the females in their family, if you can catch the drift.

The film thus tries to touch upon a very sensitive subject, which is daring, and as such commendable, coming from a debutante. Nishad does cover a good bit of points throughout the story and does offer some reasonable and some rather ambitious solutions. In doing so, the movie almost tread into documentary territory, read preachy on the boring side, as well as produce some stereotypical scenes of unity and ambition, without properly documenting the changes and sudden developments. One example would be the sudden change of heart of the previously anti-social minded youngsters. They were a problem until Thenginthottathil Joseph's daughter Celine(Jyothirmayi) marches off the church meeting, when they all join her, and suddenly they are all good hearted. But it can also be noted that such downs are not found often and the director does a good job into shedding light onto a number of problems, without being biased, in a touching and understandable way, which is no normal feat. Examples for these would be the unsympathetic helplesness shown by the bank manager or the approach of the Collector(Swetha Menon) during her meeting with Nandakumar and Abu.

Prithviraj is among the best of the younger generation of Malayali(note how I spelled the whole word, patrons of the term 'Mallu' especially) actors. Him choosing similar roles is commendable and him being able to bring the characters to life, in a seemingly effortless manner is testimony to his talent. Jyothirmayi does her role convincingly and so does Thilakan as the mentally scarred old man, Sudheesh with his subtle funny moments etc. T.G. Ravi is in a class of his own, as the veteran actor does live the plight of a farmer on the edge who wants to end it all, if not for his daughters. Also notable is Jagadhish, who otherwise has been annoying in his roles as of late, with his over the top mannerisms and post-expiry date jokes. But here he transforms himself into a menacing and perverted villain and does make a viewer hate him with a passion. Jagathy makes an unnecessary cameo just to add a number onto his film resume. There are a couple songs penned by Girish Puthenchery and composed by M.G Radhakrishnan, which though not magnificent, does not really interfere with the affairs and are rather good in a simple way. Technically this is not the best films we've seen, but coming from a young and fresh crew and considering the theme and effort, there are only forgivable mistakes which can be neglected/overlooked given the fact that there is lot on the good side. Overall Im easily happy I found it.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Kathavasheshan: The Deceased - A Critical Anatomy

2004. This was a time when Dileep was at his peak of commercial acceptance, some sort of superstar, atleast regionally, he was. So like every other star once you are commercially accepted, next stop is critical acclaim. So a role like that of Gopinathan Menon would not have come at a better time.

Kathavasheshan, the movie directed by T.V Chandran was released in 2004. Well reputed among the critics thanks to previous films like national award winning Ponthen MaadaSusanna, Danny and Paadam Onnu: Oru Vilapam, the director is known for his movies upholding a social message.

10 minutes into the movie and the aforementioned lead character, Gopinathan Menon(Dileep), a middle class next-door guy employed as an engineer, commits suicide. Among the appalled is his fiancee, Renuka(Jyothirmayi), who's more intrigued than the rest. Weaving together various fragments of his life, as told by those who were dear and near to him, she paints a picture (literally) of a person who, living among a chaotic and immoral society, finds it hard to live with a humane heart.

Dileep as the central character does pretty well. I wouldn't go as far as to say he was the best for the role or none would have done better etc, but this is certainly one of his best roles, to date. Jyothirmayi is well cast and does her bit with ease. The rest are only okay in my opinion (except maybe Vijaya Raghavan and Indrans in certain scenes), but I would have expected better control of his cast from a director of Chandran's rep. Cinematography and music are departments with minimal flaw. Nothing gimmicky, just plain and simple. Songs are good and fits well into the story like the glove your grandmother would have stitched you for your 3rd birthday (and unlike this usage).

Now to direction, as for me, this is the most flawed area here (doesnt mean its all a mess, at all, but only relatively). Honestly I had never watched any other T.V. Chandran movies before this one, but from what I'd heard he was one of the finest. Also, this being a movie that can be considered of the Parallel genre trying to find a balance between commercial and arthouse, one wouldn't be greedy to expect realism in characters, story and behaviour, not to mention mannerisms of the cast. Ok, acting/mannerisms by most of the cast (other than the ones I mentioned in the paragraph before) are amateurish. Certain scenes were not only unrealistic but unnecessary and laughable(e.g scene where Renuka gets to meet Indrans' character, and how he climbs back when he leaves). Certain characters, like those of Janardhanan, Salim Kumar were either under developed or, again, unnecessary. Now that the flaws have been let out, we can get to the plus. The story, though quite simple, but explained in a more complex manner was good. It quite clearly delivered a rather powerful message without being too preachy. The presentation of the character's life as through a live jigsaw puzzle was one of the best narrational methods I've seen in Malayalam or Indian cinema. I remember some friends mentioning drag, but to me this was less dragging than a Ferrari sitting on a Concorde (pardon the killing usage, again). I was about as intrigued as Jyothirmayi's character to dig deeper into the protagonist's life.

I went in with a lot of expectations for this movie, but as always we all know where that leads. Thus overall we have here one of the better Malayalam movies of 2004, something I'd rate a 8.5/10, all the while wondering what could have been.