Category Archives: Crime

Asuran Review

Asuran Review – Asuran is a Tamil crime thriller released in 2019. When powerful landlords in the village, try to overpower the poor farmers to take over the land, the family of Sivasami doesn’t budge and the following events turn into an endless revenge saga between families.

I always wish that Indian directors make movies on already written material than trying to create material on their own every time. Director Vetrimaaran has taken a step if followed by other fellow directors in this country could change the landscape of Indian Cinema in a positive way. Kudos to him for making a movie based on a novel Vekkai by Poomani. This makes the content very rich, characterization very deep-rooted and overall movie a very engaging one.

I haven’t read the novel so I may not be able to comment on how much true to the book the movie has been. My analysis is mostly on the structure of the movie. The structure of the screenplay is much akin to the structure of the cult classic commercial movie Baasha. Due to the rural treatment and the message in the movie, it also resembles Devar Magan in many ways. An innocent protagonist, who doesn’t raise voice against atrocities has a dark past in which he is akin to a menacing Villain, the secret breaks right at the interval block and then dwells into the past to establish the gory side of the protagonist, coming back to the present to close the proceedings. While many directors have tried to emulate the success of these movies have miserably failed, Vetrimaaran banked on the content which eventually created a successful product.

I was very intrigued by the fact of the choice of the name Asuran. In Hindu mythology, the Asuras were always looked down upon by the Devas and were constantly at war between each other. Devas also made peace with Asuras whenever they needed some work to be done with them like in the case of churning the ocean to create Amruth. In the movie too, the landlord keeps a good pact with Dhanush till he is preparing liquor that helps his business grow. It is only later he realizes where his real place is and things change. Even the scenes involving the insult of the upper cast before women, the insult he takes for her laughing and the way he avenges for it are all in correlation to the Deva and Asura wars. In that way, it is a befitting the title.

The characters are sketched well. Although Dhanush becomes of prime importance in the second half, other characters still have a convincing life cycle. It is nice to see Pasupathi and Prakash Raj on screen after a while. The choice of Manu Warrier to play Dhanush wife as well is a great choice. She has a lot more scope in the first half of the movie.

The locations in which the movie is shot adds a more convincing tone to the whole narration. In particular, the forest sequences are taken very well. The background score is the soul of the movie and GV Prakash has done a phenomenal job in scoring the BGM.

High Points – Strong content, Interval Block, background score, depth of characters, visuals of the forest sequence, action blocks, raw treatment

Low Points Too much violence might not appeal to everyone.

Overall Asuran is a very well made commercial crime thriller. It has all the ingredients that would keep you glued to the chair until the end and leave you with a powerful message. It is now available in Amazon Prime.

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Joker Review

Joker Review – Joker is an American psychological thriller released in 2019. The movie is based on the famous DC Villain Joker and traces his origin story.

After the rave reviews, the movie has been receiving, I had finally watched Joker on the IMAX screen. It is a movie that breaks the fourth wall of sorts where it requires the involvement of the audience to interpret and make sense of the proceedings. It leaves you with a lot of emotions about what you have witnessed. It sort of symbolizes the rise of a dystopian society that Gotham had become later as you would have watched in Batman movies.

The movies opening scene paints the picture of the city that it is becoming. Arthur is putting on his clown make up, metaphorically putting on a happy face when the city is gone to the rats as it is conveyed by the newsreaders in the news channel. Rise of rats indicates the rise in the homeless people in the city living in makeshift shelters leading to the rise of rodent menace. The government is trying to control the rodents rather than addressing the source of the problem. There is a joke that gets aired in the Murray Franklin show on TV calling the rodents as super rats and the solution is to fight them with super cats. A sarcastic take on the tryst between Super-Villains and Super-Heroes is brilliantly weaved into the story.

The economic divide in the city has become so huge that the quality of life of the jobless people is in a very pathetic state. Arthur is just a representative of them where he craves an identity by fantasizing himself to be a successful standup comedian. Post the dramatic turn of events ( not revealing them here to avoid spoilers ), the prospective candidate for the Mayor, Thomas Wayne calls them clowns by accidentally giving them an identity that unites them.

The rest of the movie is about how Arthur’s life takes a turn with the turn of the events and what he becomes eventually. The climax is very open-ended letting you reflect and create your own version of the story.

Joaquin Phoenix is literally in every frame of the film and has delivered a very commendable performance. The hysterical laugh convinces you of a man who has a condition of mental illness. Director Todd Philips has given a movie that is much beyond the movie made out of comic. Joker can be an independent movie that has a lot to convey without having the link to the comic.

High Points: Performance of Joaquin Phoenix, the open-ended climax that leaves room for interpretations, the soundtrack from Frank Sinatra classics, the gripping dark screenplay.

Low Points: The film is dark, gritty and bold which may not appeal to the taste of folks who do not like it.

Overall, Joker is here to stay as a cult movie for very long and is arguably one of the best performances of Joaquin Phoenix yet. Joker is not just an origin story of Super-Villain but a movie that paints the side effects of the inequalities in society.

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Andhadhun Review

Andhadhun Review – Andhadhun is an Indian crime thriller released in 2018. Aakash a pianist who pretends to be blind witnesses the murder of a famous film star, what unfolds next is the plot of Andhadhun.

Director Sriram Raghavan has sketched yet another gripping dark tale with suspense weaved in, that makes it an interesting watch. The story starts with the narration of the protagonist about the events that had happened in the past. Sriram has teased with the usual twists in a typical thriller much ahead in the movie giving you the sense of wondering is what is left. As you begin to wonder what would be left, the movie takes unexpected turns and goes deep down a rabbit hole of complex knots, that makes it more interesting. Ayushman Khuranna and Tabu play a pivotal role in the movie. Tabu has played a badass character with so much ease. The entire sequence at the house of Ayushman Khuranna is one of the brilliantly scripted scenes in the movie. The script reveals the truth at the right moments of time leading to a very engaging climax.

The movie opens with thanking Chitra Geet and Chitra Haar for entertaining us for a long time and ends with the great piano sequences from yesteryear bollywood movie. The music from Amit Trivedi stays up in the game and forms the soul of the movie.

High Points: The script is the strength of the movie, the performances of Tabu and Ayushman Khurana stand out very well, the art design of the locations add to the aesthetic flair of the movie. The background score and songs of Amit Trivedi lightens up even a dull scene.

Low Points: The only weak point of the script is Radhika Apte’s character. It is too shallow and forms too irrelevant for the plot to move forward. 

Overall Andhadhun is a very gripping dark crime thriller that would entertain you. It may not be the movie of epic scale but still would join the list of well written and made dark crime thrillers in Bollywood. This is now available on Netflix.

Worth a Watch

The Invisible Guest Review

The Invisible Guest Review – The Invisible Guest is a Spanish Crime Thriller released in 2016. A Spanish businessman Adrian is arrested for a murder in a hotel room. With all the doors locked and no way to leave the room, nails him as the culprit. But could there have been an invisible guest who could have left the room without a trace?

A good thriller is the one that always thinks ahead of the audience and does not fall into the cliches of McGuffins that had been tried and tested in many thrillers. The Invisible Guest is one such movie that keeps you guessing till the end. Just when you think that you have figured out the plot, the movie takes a different turn, adds an additional knot making the plot complex. In the end, the knot is removed very convincingly.

The tone of the movie is very gritty from the start, with constant gloomy atmosphere reflecting the gloominess in the unsolved mystery. The screenplay is structured brilliantly to removed the monotonous linear narration. It keeps jumping back and forth in the timeline to keep the interest going. Mario Casas has very well fit into the role of Adrian.

High Points: Very gripping screenplay, very convincing end, brilliant performances by the lead actors, cleverly structured non-linear narration.

Low Points: Hardly any low point

Overall, The Invisible Guest has all the ingredients required in a gritty thriller that keeps you guessing till the end. The movie is available on Netflix.

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Kaala Review

Kaala Review – Kaala is a Tamil crime drama released in 2018. Mumbai’s politician Hari Dhada has hidden agenda of cleaning up Mumbai’s Dharavi to let it open for commercialization, but people of Dharavi protest against it under the leadership of local don Karikaalan.

I was disappointed with the second half of Kabali wherein I felt director Ranjith had a masterpiece in the making but fell flat in the second half. This time in Kaala the screenplay is much tighter and travels towards the purpose. The screenplay also provided a much larger scope for the mass moments of Rajini. Be it the swag of the black dress and shades, not being able to hide his lost love or getting drunk and blabbering in the police station, its out and out Rajini’s moments. He makes all these scenes very enjoyable.

Kaala has a very similar structure to his previous movie Madras. The movie jumps right into the core problem and how the voice of people is not heard in the massive political schemes which are supposed to be for the people. Apart from Rajini the biggest strength of the movie is Nana Patekar. He has played the unapologetic, gruesome villain with ease. His acting and body language are exemplary.

The screenplay does come with its own flaws. The character of Huma Qureshi is very weak and one dimensional. There was a much larger scope for the character but again the writers seem to have struggled with it as they did for Radhika Apte’s character in the second half of Kabali.  The rapper group is becoming a very predictable part for Ranjith’s film which again could have been avoided.

Samuthrakani has played a very good supporting role. It is refreshing to see him explore different roles other than being typecast into roles that shout out social messages. Eswari Rao makes a good pair to Rajini. She has a lot of scope in the first half and the way her character has been sketched is very nice. It is also refreshing to see Dileepan playing a significant role after Vathikuchi.

The subtext of the movie is about the perception people carry regarding the slums. Ranjith has questioned the stereotypes. If we talk about Dharavi or the North Madras slum, we remember movies like Nayagan, Thalapathy, Pudupettai which stereotypes the areas as the hub of crime. Pa Ranjith’s Kaala paints the picture of more life and family values in the slum, unlike the popular stereotypes.

High Points: Rajini’s charisma and screen presence, Nana Patekar’s acting, Mass moments of Rajini and Nana Patekar, a very compelling subtext of the movie, the climax sequence, brilliant cinematography, editing and art design to recreate Dharavi.

Low Points: Huma Qureshi’s character build-up, too much violence in the second half might upset many audiences, some components that are becoming too predictable in a Pa Ranjith’s movie.

Overall Kaala is a compelling tale about the slums beyond our perceptions and beliefs. Pa Ranjith is very sincere in what he believes and has the ability to narrate it in a compelling way. Ram killed Raavan and established Ram Rajya for making people’s lives better, but is that what the people wanted is essentially the question the movie asks. If you like crime dramas then do watch this one in the theaters.

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