Naanaku Prematho review

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Brian Charles Lara – This man was an exceptional batsman, doing stuff that few were capable of doing. He had an ability that was second to none. To date, he remains the only person to reclaim the highest individual innings score.

Till 2011, for a period of five years, he held the record of figuring in most lost matches. 63 of them. It was eventually broken by a teammate of his – Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Now, ala Jagapathi Babu fashion, in the movie, I will ask you to remember this.

****

Sukumar’s title rolls are among the best in the industry. In this movie too, the title rolls are brilliant. But then there is a sense of deja vu to it as a similar thing was seen by me just a few weeks ago . Sukumar has had to bear the burden of being an ‘intelligent’ director. Sometimes, it seems as if he himself buys into the hype and over complicates a normal situation. Case in point, Jagapathi Babu’s introduction scene. The scene neither points to the menace of the man or to his intelligence. However, as the movie proceeds, we are provided an insight into his personality.

The scene where NTR asks Jagapathi Babu to play his own game, Jagapathi Babu, for the fear of being upstaged, asks one of his henchmen to play his game and when he realises he lost, he says the henchman lost the game. That is, at once, indicative of flaws and strengths of Sukumar at the same time. Strength because he built that scene up beautifully well (in a standalone manner). Flaw, because without setting the menace or the cantankerous nature of the man, he ran the risk of  making him a side note in the story.

Though it is difficult to maintain a count, there are as many good sequences as there are bad. One of the worst flaw in the movie is the lack of continuity or you can call it as undermining the audience too. When you yourself are pitched as an ‘intellectual’ or a ‘brilliant’ director and known for making ‘intelligent’ movies, you can’t have sequences for the sake of convenience.

There’s one sequence in the movie where NTR wanting to gift Jagapathi Babu a painting asks his associates to get the same painting from an auction. When the associates end up with a counterfeit, NTR rejects that painting because of a stroke of Cobalt Blue in the wing of the butterfly.  According to his reasoning the colour didn’t exist 2 centuries ago but when he has the original, he has no qualms in placing a camera in it.

When NTR and Jagapathi Babu meet for the first time, Jagapathi Babu plays the game that he plays with everyone else with NTR too. The beauty of the sequence is such that you too end up playing the game with NTR. Like Jagapathi Babu, Sukumar, as a director, tries to put you off the track when NTR borrows the phone from Jagapathi Babu.

The movie is such that the good in it is juxtaposed with the bad at all times.

****

Yes, what did I ask you to remember? Brian Lara. NTR is the closest we have that can be compared to him. He is one who is brilliant in each one of the ‘navarasalu of natana’. He has everything in him that can make him a reigning superstar, but he isn’t. Somehow, when it comes to him, the sum is never equal to the parts. This isn’t the first time that I am saying this.

NTR shines in the movie. The dances are effortless, as always. He blows the argument to smithereens about the best dancer in the industry with his moves in the final song. They are a treat to watch.

It’s  a little sad to see him go overboard with the promotions. ‘THE SCENE’ when it happens doesn’t quite make you cry as much as NTR said it made the people in the room cry. Yes, he performs admirably well in the scene, but it’s nowhere close to moving you to tears.

To call it his best performance would be doing injustice to his body of work. He has better performances than this. This is a different role for him.

****

There are very few movies in which actors match wits. This is pitched as one of them. Rather ‘Naanaku Prematho’ tries to be one of them, but it isn’t. The premise is set very early in the movie and you know how it’s going to end.

Jagapathi Babu could’ve done with a little more menace or some character build up or both. Though the character is sketched well, it pales in comparison with NTR’s

Rakul Preet Singh, dubbed for own character and does well in the scenes in Spain. Rajendra Prasad, Rajeev Kanakala and Srinivas Avasarala are adequate in the their roles. It is good to see Sukumar deviate from the stereotype in offering Thagubothu Ramesh a role in which he doesn’t need to drink. Sukumar plays cleverly with this point too, by making him drink a glass of juice and making him say that.

****

Verdict: A disappointment considering what could’ve been. Sukumar needs to drop the monkey from his back and try to make a normal film without trying to hoodwink himself, audience or both

Image courtesy : idlebrain.com

The wrong line by Andrew Ramsey

Andrew RamseyA writer when he begins his touring life with a tour to a tournament which all the teams take lightly, can rightfully say that he began on the wrong line. He talks of being affixed with cricket rather than looking around as all sorts of bookies were involved during the tournament. Thus the book seems to be named well.

He talks of getting into tough situations and also talks of how quickly his views on Hong Kong changed. Initially he comes across as an author who complains a lot. He also introduces us to the division within the team; Julios and Nerds. Julios were named after Julio Iglesias.

He likes to talk about his career as a cricket journalist as though destiny favoured him and he was the right person at the right place at the right time. After the first tour, the cricket that he got to cover was the one day legs of Australian cricket team.

This was also around the time when Australian cricket team started to have different teams for ODI’s and Test matches. So, the newspaper that he worked for thought that it was a good idea to have different journalists to cover Tests and ODI’s

So, his first tour was to New Zealand and it was the first time that he saw the crowd trouble first hand. It wasn’t to be the last time too. It was just to be a curtain raiser for what he was to witness and experience on the caribbean tour.

The writing part in the book goes few notches higher because he decides to infuse the happenings with more than a touch of sarcasm. So, his experiences at the hotels makes you chuckle. While the problems he faces with a dial up connection are unknown to a lot of people brought up in the the broadband era, he manages to strike a chord every single time he talks of internet connection.

After the series he is sent to cover the 1999 World Cup and it’s here that he brings his best ability to the fore – describing cricket grounds vividly. He also starts to talk of the ideas bounced to him from the head office as ‘Ideas factory’. Once he starts talking of the ideas factory, he makes it clear from the outset that he doesn’t like them. It’s on these twin tours that he realised how insecure players can be. They can be as fragile as the next man.

He talks of competition among the journalists – to be the person that breaks a news, to be the person that gets the rare soundbites or to be the person that a player wants to talk to. He says in the book, “In the super-competitive world of modern media, being first is regularly preferred to being right”.

Players can be men of moods depending on the way they perform on the field. They can range from being nice to being surly. If they realise that a same publication or the same person is criticising them more often than not, they resort to the simple question, “Have you ever played cricket?”. Andrew counters this by saying,”You don’t need to have killed anyone to report on a murder”

Warne is a regular feature in the book. Be it describing his abilities or his frailties, Andrew doesn’t flinch. When the whole saga of removing Shane Warne played out, Andrew describes it saying, “The nation’s cricket administrators had made it clear that vice was no longer a prerequisite for the vice-captaincy”

Gilchrist also comes in for some major praise from the Andrew as he presented him with impeccably clean columns, to the comma. The next person whom he ghosted for, did not leave him with good experiences. In fact, towards the end of the book, coupled up with his own frustrations he lets go. He talks of the man he was ghosting for, in a none too pleasant manner.

He is brilliant with conveying his emotions at a moment with few words. When he is sent off to cover the Test series v Pakistan and has to describe Sharjah, he does it by saying, “Western morality may be a crime but western extravagance remains an essential status symbol”

Yes, he does put his opinions bluntly and is off the mark when he is forming opinions, but that does not deter you from the fact that he wants to tell you what he thinks. The fall out with the “Ideas factory’ starts to happen on the return trip from Sharjah.

He gives two reasons that made him feel bad about the job. First was the instance when he was asked for a vox pop piece. Instead of approaching people, he made up names and views and sent it back. Second and the major one was after submitting to the ‘Here’s the headline , give me a story to fit beneath it’ principle, he refused to toe the line. There were many things that brought up the realisation. One of them was him going after Mark Cosgrove. After that, he quit the job

Nenu Sailaja review

NS.jpgAround 13 years ago, a writer made his debut as a director with a movie called ‘Nuvve Nuvve’. That movie was different from a lot of movies of that time. It demanded that you hear. Hear to what’s spoken between the characters in the movie.

If you saw the movie, chances are high that you would’ve seen it again. The reason being the dialogues take a little time to be understood. By the time you understood the dialogues, unravelled the relationships between the characters and realise how simple the movie is/ was, you would’ve seen the movie multiple times.

It is difficult to not assume that the director of ‘Nenu Sailaja’ was inspired by Nuvve Nuvve. He isn’t scared to throw a few hints that he indeed was. The place ‘Annavaram’ is just one of them.

***

In both the movies, the relationship between the father and the daughter forms the crux of the story. In ‘Nuvve Nuvve’ the lover slowly realises the love between them and in ‘Nenu Sailaja’ the lover makes them realise the love that exists between them.

When people related to a movie get talking about it there appears to be a general lack of sincerity. After all, we have been ears to talks like ‘If the previous movie in our combination was 10%, this movie is going to be 100%.’, ‘This movie is going to be like a festival feast for everyone. They will take back something or the other from this movie.’ No wonder these proclamations didn’t match up to the end product and the movies ended up biting the dust.

After such scarring experiences when the hero of the movie, Ram, says that the movie has an everyday feel to it, you take it with a pinch of salt. Once you see the movie, you would probably agree with him.

***

Though Ram has had three blockbusters, he is yet to have a pathbreaking performance. Devdas ran on oomph and music. Ready ran because of Brahmanandam and Kandireega was more of a Sonu Sood hit than anyone else. Though not pathbreaking, Ram has come close. One can call it career altering. Once he makes his entry in the film, he is pretty much there in every frame of the movie.

Keerthi Suresh, the debutant, performs with elan and shows us what a gifted performer she is. She has two sequences in either half where she bares her heart -one with joy and another with sorrow- and she lights up the screen with her performances in those scenes. Once in a while it feels good to see a director showing the heroine as a performer too and not just having her to show cleavage, midriff etc. There are no snide remarks about her appearance too. It has been a long time that a heroine isn’t made fun of or made to expose a lot in the movie. With the acting talent at her disposal, one just hopes that she isn’t lost to the Telugu Film Industry.

***

Kishore Tirumala, the director of the movie was praised unequivocally by Ram. He said the director made most complex sequences simple. He was speaking the truth. He makes everyone understand what he is trying to convey. Without putting down marriage, he conveys the difference between arranged marriage and love marriage in the opening sequence very easily.

His ability as a writer shines through in the movie, especially when Keerthi Suresh in in the frame. As complex as her character is, the director unravels it with beautifully written sequences. One wonders how the movie would’ve been received if they went ahead with the working title of ‘Hari Katha’. Probably they would’ve had a lot of explaining to do. That said, the naming of the movie is a masterstroke. If it was his decision, people have to doff their hats to him.

The locations that he chose for the movie are simple and reveals the taste of the director. He shot it in simple locations like Vizag, Goa and Araku. Though these locations are often seen in many movies, the cinematographer makes us see them in a new light.

***

The movie has three people who have acted as heroes – Ram, Prince and Chaitanya Krishna. The screen time that they get is directly proportional to their fluctuating fortunes. It looks like Ram will get himself out of the rut that he had gotten into with this movie. It becomes doubly important to follow this movie up with a good character.

The banner of his uncle has helped him through tough times. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that ‘Nuvve Nuvve’ was produced by the same banner too.

***

Verdict – A good movie that has equal doses of entertainment and sentiment. Ram and Keerthi Suresh deliver in their respective roles. As much a director’s movie as it is of the actors’

Image courtesy – idlebrain.com