22 August 2015


We had seen a large haul of gold smuggled from the Gulf countries being caught across the airports in Kerala, some time back. There were many conspiracy theories doing rounds, stories of hapless carriers and the names of big fishes doubted to be involved in this precarious business were thrown around. All these things make good fodder for a masala film. And, who better to do it than director Ranjith. So, Loham - The Yellow Metal, written and directed by Ranjith with Mohanlal in the lead carried the heavy burden of expectations being an Onam release. But, sorrily it fails to deliver on those expectations.

We begin with the arrival of human remains of a young man in Karipur airport, this man had died in an accident at a construction site in Dubai. And, none other the local MLA, played by Hareesh Perady had come to the airport to expedite the customs clearance of this body. The back story of the young man portrayed by Musthafa with the Malabar backdrop playing a significant role in it and the song Kanaka Mylanchi that has topped the charts for the last few days featuring here.

Next we see Jayanthi Ramesh (Andrea Jeremiah) landing in Kochi. Here Mohanlal enters as her cab driver Raju, he is talkative and bubbly to the boot. But, she is the silent sort and it is obvious from her body language that something serious is going on in her head. She has come here to find the whereabouts of her husband Ramesh (Ashvin A. Mathew), the customs officer who has gone missing after clearing the dead body of the youth in the Karipur airport a few days back.

Numerous other characters make an appearance as Jayanthi and Raju drive around the city adding to the thickness and the mystery of the plot. It feels as if the director is deliberately on the simmering point in the first half relying on Mohanlal’s comic prowess and we sit expectantly for the narrative to explode with vigour and wit. But, it never comes to the boiling point and the excitement that was anticipated never comes to the fore. Things just fizzle out without providing us any real thrills.

As we go along it is revealed that the coffin of the young man had 100 kilos of gold hidden in it, which has gone missing while the body was delivered at his home. And, everyone around is after that without the distinction of being a good guy or a bad guy. Then there many twist and turns in this tale that are not original or interesting.

There is an endless list of characters making an appearance in the frame and a couple of them like Sasi Kalinga and Shankar Ramakrishnan do not even contribute anything to the plot.

Others like Renji Panicker who is becoming very active as an actor these days appears as a member of Mohanlal’s gang is the only one who shows some spark as an actor, all others in the ensemble cast seem to be going through the motions as instructed.

After testing this Loham we can only say that it lacks glitter and lustre, and is not original at all.

As it appeared in Rediff.

08 August 2015

Review of Ayaal Njanalla

If re-imagining or recycling an old theme can be called an experimentation then Ayaal Njanalla can be termed as one of the best experiments in the recent times in Malayalam cinema. We have seen lookalikes of superstars used by directors to make spoofs or stories where the dupe of a superstar using his looks to get rich quick or to get out dicey situation. But, here Prakashan the lead character of film played by Fahadh Faasil, a simpleton who had migrated to arid Kutchh from Koyilandy some fifteen years back after failing in his tenth standard exams. And, on a short trip to Bengaluru realises that he has uncanny resemblance to an upcoming star Fahadh Faasil. This may be a rare occasion where a star duping himself.

To begin with; we see Prakashan as formulaic hero of Malayalam films, a simple person with a heart of gold, working hard to stay afloat in the face of financial crisis. He is such a naive fellow who cannot convey his feelings to his lady love. He works in a tyre repairing shop run by his uncle. He does have big dreams of setting up Dhaba there in the future.

The story by Ranjith helmed by actor turned director Vineeth Kumar does have the novelty in the form of the atmospherics o f Gujarat and the way Prakashan looks. He is vulnerable and does not win the kite flying challenge (his entry point into the story) as a typical hero would.

His life goes into further tailspin when his uncle dies in a freak accident and he has to make a short trip to Bengaluru. Prakashan has come here to sell his share of ancestral property in his home town. There is his school friend Arun (Jins Bhaskar) to help him. Apart from using his connections of Malayalis in Bengaluru to help his friend Arun also gives Prakashan a taste of urban life by taking him for an exotic facial and fish pedicure, after that Arun takes him to an upmarket shopping mall to get him a few new dresses, it in a way changes Prakashan's life; here a couple of young girls mistake him for being Fahadh Faasil and request him to pose with him for a selfie.

Till now we had seen Prakashan in a full grown beard and head full of hair and an angelic smile. Now, to cut the long story short the circumstances make him pose as Fahadh Faasil with a clean shaven face and receding hairline for a public function in a women's college, which drags his life into further complications.

There is no denial that there are a few genuinely laughable moments, but on thinking back the situation seems to be far fetched where stars even keep a close watch in the cyberworld to stop people from robbing their identities, here a fake person attends a public function with hundreds of people there and gets out unscathed. The situation is dragged further where Prakashan has to be Fahadh with peppering of humour that is sprinkled by actors like, Sreekumar, Tini Tom, Noby and others.

The resolution of all the problems faced by Prakashan is too simple to be believable where the makers have tried to present a layered narrative that goes beyond just being an ordinary comedy.

So, we can only suggest that you go and see Ayaal Njanalla without high expectations and come out happy.

As it appeared in Rediff.