Rajinikanth

Review: Airlift’s screenplay never takes off!

In one of the only emotional scenes of this movie, a very old Punjabi grandfather character (played wonderfully by the veteran Indian TV actor Arun Bali) speaks of the horrors of getting uprooted from what you once considered home, and being forced to leave everything behind. This scene is crucial in establishing why a certain Mr. Kohli (Kumud Mishra), a paper-pusher in the External Affairs Ministry Office, turns into one of the key figures in enabling the success of an impossible rescue mission. It is sad then, that Airlift, a movie based on true events of world’s largest civil evacuation could not evoke any further emotional hooks for me as a movie audience to remain invested or engaged. And yes, it even has a mini segment where we see the tricolour being hoisted and K.K. singing Vande Mataram. And even then, I did not participate in that moment of triumph. THAT is the biggest failure of the movie.

I am not for a single bit, attempting to undermine the real heroism of the true heroes who were involved in this rescue mission of 170,000+ Indians from war-torn Kuwait. I am in fact saying that a story as incredible as this deserves a much better movie than what it got in Airlift. It is a classic case of an ambitious director meeting an “out-of-their-league” story and getting overwhelmed by it. Writer-Director Raja Krishna Menon along with his team of writers have put up a screenplay which can be the equivalent of a college play on opening rehearsal day, with a very rough first draft of a scribble on a tissue paper acting as a script.

Airlift_Poster - INTERNATIONAL

 

The narrative tries to introduce several characters into the plot – from the ever so grouchy George Kutty (Prakash Belawadi – Madras Cafe, Talvar), the unnecessary Mr. Poonawala, and the somewhat simmering and confusing love story of Ibrahim (Purab Kohli – Rock On). But none of them ever have a sub plot as such. There is no distinct payback that we as audience get from these plot threads. The trunk of the story tree is the man who is front and centre in the poster – Akshay Kumar as Ranjit Katiyal. He is the Ship Captain who is reluctantly put in charge of the fate of 170,000+ Indians. And Akshay handles it as best as he can. But the screenplay again fails him.

In one of the scenes, Akshay’s wife played by Nimrat Kaur convinces him to go to the docks – because he is a negotiator. And there is hardly anything following that scene which highlights this very characteristic of Mr. Katiyal. On the other hand, there is a scene where Akshay goes gung-ho and attacks a bunch of check-point gunned security guards, and even manages to threaten them. It seemed like Katiyal was playing Akshay for that moment, and not the other way around. We are told of Rajiv Katiyal being a businessman through and through. But in the face of such hardships, there is hardly any conversation in the movie that is scripted as one that demanded special skills. The Iraqi General played by Inaamulhaq (Filmistan), is layered in poor and generic Middle Eastern accent, and is a character written as a caricature. And hence, there is no sense of threat or perhaps, we have all seen this done way better in many other movies and TV shows.

The female lead in the movie, Nimrat Kaur seemed like one of the stereotypical naggy Indian housewife for most of the movie. She’s pretty glammed up for a woman stuck in war-torn Kuwait. But I assume, the writers felt compelled to give her something more than just that. And by virtue of that, she gets one scene which showcases glimpses of the actor we liked so much in The Lunch Box.

But my biggest complaint from this movie, is that being titled Airlift, the movie spends a total of only 2 minutes speedily narrating about the mega-operation taken up by Air India who managed to “airlift” the 170,000+ Indians from Jordan. Perhaps, that wasn’t as exciting on paper as Akshay punching dudes in sandy desert. And let’s not even get started on that cringe-worthy remix of Khaled’s Didi .

This one is not even for a lazy matinee.

 

Airlift is directed by Raja Krishna Menon and stars Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur (Homeland, The Lunchbox).

The film releases internationally on on the 22nd of January in the UK.

You can find more of Sujoy’s work on BollyPop or OneKnightStands or Follow him on twitter on @9e3K.

 

 

 

Lingaa Upodcast Review

Superstar Rajinikanth returns to the big screen in a live action role after 4 years with KS Ravikumar’s Lingaa. As every release of the megastar there is quite a bit of excitement and looking at the initial box office numbers, it seems to be another killer at the box office.

Although we South Indian cinema has a special place in our hearts, we are not the experts we would like to be so we called our friend Josh Hurtado, who covers a lot of Indian cinema for TwitchFilm.com.

We speak about the Rajini Effect, the expectations attached to Lingaa, Sonakshi Sinha’s South Indian debut and how Lingaa compares to Rajnikanth’s massive hits with Shankar (Sivaji- The Boss, Enthiran).

If you haven’t seen the trailer for Lingaa yet, here is it.


You can check out more of Josh. work on TwitchFilm.

Or follow him on twitter on @HatefulJosh

Listen/Stream/Download the episode below. You can also subscribe to the Upodcast on iTunes so you never miss an episode!

The Rajini Effect Review

What does the “Rajini Effect” mean? It is extremely hard to encompass the meaning of these two words. No superlative feels adequate to describe the force of the superstardom and religious fan following of the one and the only Thalaivaar Rajinikanth. And so, kudos to debutante director-duo Kuvera and Nelson Sivalingam to have picked up such a monumental task upon themselves. And surprisingly somehow, they have been able to convey what the Rajini Effect stands for.

The Rajini Effect is what makes you wake up in the morning at 5 am, to travel 2 hours, and stand in the queue to get the tickets of a Rajini movie on the first day. It is the undying enthusiasm to fight the crowds and to uncontrollably whistle at the entry of the hero. It is the madness that makes you dance like a fool, trying to ape the Baasha, plastering your wall from corner to corner with Rajini images, and quoting dialogues even when you don’t know the language. All this dedication of a true hearted Rajini fan is shown through the story of our protagonist – Taiho (Jonathan Truong), a Japanese guy who has grown up watching Rajini movies and passionately loves them. When he comes across an advert for an Indian short film competiton looking for “Tomorrow’s Superstar”, he realises this to be his ticket to Kollywood (nickname for Tamil Cinema). Teaming up with his 50 year old Indian friend Ramu (who happens to be a budding filmmaker/accountant), they set out to make their mutual dreams come true.

In true melodramatic Kollywood style, this is life imitating art imitating life. I say that with the utmost love for this movie. It is an underdog story, like many of those Rajini movies. Our hero Taiho is a regular Joe, who is upset with his life, and seems his passion for Rajini movies to be his only outlet and also his true calling. Ramu, played exceptionally well by Ramesh Vethanayagam, juggles his life between satisfying his wife’s demands, his 9-6 work schedules, and attending to his true love – cinema. Through Ramu, we get a crash course in what South Indian cinema stands for. Not only do we get schooled on the “Feel” of a heroine romancing her loved one, but also how the Sari should be draped for maximum exposure of the belly.

Of course what follows next is quite predictable. The duo hit multiple road blocks, ranging from finding the correct female lead, to villains and their goons, to even the creative duo getting separated due to circumstances beyond their own control, and then eventually emerging triumphant. But, when I say predictable, make no assumption that it is boring; far from it. The script swims through these events smoothly, and the dialogue ensures that the audience is chuckling all the way. I believe I have never laughed so hard in a movie for a very long time, especially in an indie movie such as this.

I think the directors have used the indie movie feel to their utmost advantage. There is a movie within the movie, and this allows for shaky cam, amateur angles, guerilla filming, as well as not really spending on any exotic locales. After all, this is the story about a regular London guy trying to shoot his “Youtube movie”. But this alone cannot simply convey the Rajini effect, can it? The directors have a cure for that too. Weaved beautifully into the narrative, are some messages from many Rajini fans – from actors to journalists to just admirers, who in their own words try to express (and how) the essence of the Rajini effect.

The movie as a whole succeeds in conveying that very essence. There is a special scene where Ramu and Taiho, after having a fight and not being in contact for a while, agree to meet up and reconcile.

There is an awkward silence between the two when they meet. And then Taiho plays a Rajini song which depicts the meaning of friendship. Taiho and Ramu look at each other and smile instantly. The Rajini Effect is also that instant connect that you share with a fellow Rajini fan. Vethanayagam and Jonathan play it extremely well without a single false note.

And if just for that, for me, this movie achieved its goal.

*Winner of Audience Award for Best Film at the 10th Stuttgart Indian Film Festival*
*Official Selection for the 8th Seattle South Asian Film Festival*

For more info on the movie head over to www.TheRajiniEffect.com

4 Lungis Out of 5.
OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

Kochadaiiyaan Teaser looks choppy!

When we met the Kochadaiiyaan team for a press conference back in April 2012 producer Murali mentioned: “Kochadaiiyaan is going to be a very different animation film with Indian and international technicians. Even better than Tin- Tin. And first of the kind to use photorealistic technology., making it more realistic”

Since then we haven’t heard too much about Kochadaiiyaan and today the first teaser has dropped and is frankly quite dissapointing.

Animation has never been of too high a standard, because most of the times it is still seen by Indian audiences as something meant for children and not adults. And even though there have been collaborations with even with Disney, it has never been an attractive proposition on the box office.

But what no one can’t, Rajni- can (t)! or that’s what we hoped for.

 

 

According to Producer Mural the movie is “a fantasy film with an indian subject, which has been carefully done to attract international audience”. Director Soundaryha (Rajnikanth’s daughter) added that Photorealistic Animation was used because: “It immortalises my father and everything is really created. He plays a warriorin the movie. And we wanted him to do something that we as a fans would want to see. Everyone wants the sound and vision to be spectacular”

We know this is just the first shots we are seeing but they are quite dissapointing shots, the realism spoken about still needs quite a bit of work and what we see doesn’t look much better than a video game (an old and cheap video game for that matter).

Deepika Padukone, who we don’t see in the teaser, is paired opposite Rajnikanth, which i hope looks less creepy than it sounds and one place where having the movie animated migh pay off.

Here is the press release which next to the actual teaser looks like someone talking about an entirely different movie:

Film aficionados across the world are gearing up for the futuristic fantasy event of the year with the release of the eagerly awaited film Kochadaiiyaan – The Legend worldwide in cinemas this December 2013.

Poised as the grand finale film of the year, Kochadaiiyaan will rival and transcend the CG capabilities utilised in such Hollywood masterpieces as Avatar, Tin Tin and Beowulf. The avant-garde film features the unique visual mastery of Photorealistic Performance Capture technology, a first within the realm of Indian film-making.

Kochadaiiyaan is an epic dramatisation of good versus evil starring South Indian megastar Rajinikanth who is cast as the archetypal superhero in a dual role. Also starring in the grand production are Indian A-listers Deepika Padukone, Jackie Shroff and South India’s leading stars R. Sarathkumar, Nazzer, Aadhi, Shobana and Rukmini.

Providing the musical score is maestro and Oscar-winning composer A R Rahman, whose list of credits includes a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and two Academy Awards for his outstanding musical compilation for the multi-Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire. The story, screenplay and dialogues have been penned by K S Ravikumar and the lyrics by National Award Winning lyricist Vairamuthu.

Kochadaiiyaan stemmed from the grand vision of the director Soundarya Rajnikanth Ashwin, a talented and forward thinking filmmaker who is well versed with various trend setting film techniques. She says: “My ambition has always been to immortalise my father and bring the legendary Rajinikanth that audiences around the world adore in an ‘avatar’ he hasn’t ever been seen in nor experienced.

During the making of Kochadaiiyaan, I began to realise that through the medium of this film, we had to embrace a much broader aim which had the potential to be a game-changer for Indian cinema on a global level.

I have been passionately involved in film animation techniques and production for the last six years and for Kochadaiiyaan we wanted to do something unique and to create a new cinematic experience for India. To achieve this we decided to use Photorealistic Performance Capture technology which allowed us to have unlimited creativity on all grounds from building lavish sets, directing expansive fight sequences and creating elaborate costumes. Through the film, we will be able to transport audiences back to historic India and provide them with a much broader sensory experience.

Kochadaiiyaan has created not only firsts in Asia but also on a world level through the use of the technology. What we achieved with the support of our technical partners in the UK, USA, India and China, has made this project a truly international venture and we are sure that Kochadaiiyaan will set the path for Indian cinema’s next 100 year journey.”

The British funded project by reputed producers Mediaone Global Entertainment Limited and the AIM listed company Eros International has been shot exclusively at Pinewood Studios in the UK with a team of world-class technical experts including the London based Centroid Studios, a state of the art facility for Full Body Motion Capture, which have worked on various famous Hollywood productions including the recent Brad Pitt starrer World War Z, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ironman 2 and Harry Potter, and Counter Punch Studios from Los Angeles, who have been behind successes such as Beverly Hills Chihuahua. They worked in collaboration with Faceware Technologies, who have worked with The Mummy 3 and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for the Facial Capturing technology. A team of technical experts from South India and China have worked on the animation and the overall completion of the project.

India’s first Photorealistic Performance Capture film Kochadaiiyaan – The Legend is not only set to transcend boundaries creating a market first in the realm of world cinema but will cement Indian Cinema’s place indefinitely within the global film fraternity.

Kochadaiiyaan – The Legend releases worldwide this December 2013.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta