Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim Review – Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim ( Ali Mizah wa Ibrahim ) is an Arabic comedy drama film released in 2016. Ali a man who considers his goat Nada as his fiancee and Ibrahim a sound engineer who hears disturbing sounds in his ears meet at a clinic and embark on a journey together to find cure.
I watched this movie in the Bangalore International Film Festival 2018. The movie has a very interesting plot. Director Sharif El-Bindari has created the character of Ali and Ibrahim very well and makes us fall in love with them. You cannot fully understand the suffering of someone until you are in their shoes is an underlying message of this comedy drama. Right from the first shot the movie has a subtle reference to the prejudiced world that goes based on appearance and behavior. Police detain Ali for carrying a Teddy Bear suspecting it to be a smuggling racquet while they miss capturing a gang of folks kidnapping a women. Even Ali himself is seen having some prejudice about Ibrahim during their trip.
At time you would feel Ali is doing bit too much of being obsessed with Nada the goat. He can’t take any one calling his Nada as goat and he furiously. The journey puts them through various trials and builds a strong bond between them until some unexpected turn of events.
The lead actors portraying Ali and Ibrahim have done well. There are many moments you would laugh and the climax tops it all and makes you feel good. Nada the goat is yet another lovable animal character on screen. Although there are some cliched moments in the film, it still makes it a very enjoyable ride.
Overall Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim is a feel-good movie that would make you laugh and fall in love with life.
Aruvi Review – Aruvi is a Tamil social drama film released in the year 2017. Aruvi a girl is being interrogated for her involvement in an incident that puts her under suspicion of being a terrorist.
A team of new faces has come together as a team to create a movie that is very sincere to the script and the plot. Without any commercial frills, the movie has the material that would keep the audience engaged throughout. The most striking performance comes from the lead star Aditi Balan who has performed the role with ease and she creates an impact that was intended by the role. The first 20 minutes of the movie revolves around the growing up phases of Aruvi with flashback sequences. Songs and humming have been used as the part of the background score for these sequences, that has striking contrast against the present day dark and gloomy interrogation. The growing up phase through a series of montages brilliantly covers the growing phase of a girl. This one is a fantastic example of using visual language to precisely convey the story on screen. The entire growing up phase is compressed into a ten-minute sequence without any explicit narration.
The holding back of suspense of what bought Aruvi to the place she is in right now has been handled brilliantly. Though an emotionally heavy subject, the director has handled by adding some humor to it like how Aruvi sees her life despite the condition she is in. Kudos to the director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman for handling a very sincere script with new faces so well. Also, the movie is not at all preachy with some message.
High Points: A very strong script, no unnecessary commercial cliches, performance of Aditi Balan
Low Points: Any low points can be easily forgotten and forgiven due to the good execution of the script.
Overall Aruvi is a very sincere attempt that would go a long way in setting an example of how a script based on the story without commercial cliches and without being preachy would still work well with the audience.
Must Watch – for the novel attempt
Mersal Review – Mersal is a Tamil action drama released in 2017. Maaran a doctor who charges just 5 rupees for treating patients is suspected to be on a spree to kill people in the medical profession.
I watched Mersal after much of the hype around it settled down. There has been a huge expectation on the movie after the success of Theri at the box office. Director Atlee has stuck to only commercial elements that work for any mass hero movies to create Mersal. Vijay has a triple role to play this time. Evaluating this movie from a commercial mass masala film genre, it falls short of engaging throughout. The story is based on some superficial philosophy and wherever the screenplay drags Atlee has used the dialogues around the glorification of Tamil and Tamilan to appease the audience. However, this does not fit the tale. Too many characters with 3 heroines and 3 Vijay there is very less time on the screen to complete their introduction and get to the story. Although Vijay tells he needs 15 minutes of time to explain the flashback, it actually runs for 45+ minutes and slows down the movie even further. Using the same structure of a 3 act play for the flashback was a bad idea. If this has been inspired by Aboorva Sagodharargal they could have taken a leaf out of the movie to keep the flashback short and quick.
Like I said before the screenplay is inspired by many mass commercial movies. Satyaraj himself says after hearing Vijay’s story that it feels like a Shankar film’s story. Throughout the movie, Satyaraj’s role is to listen to stories and flashback. They could have avoided this patchy non-linear screenplay altogether. SJ Surya’s role as the villain is a treat to watch.
High Points: Vijay’s screen presence, AR Rahman’s background score, SJ Suryah’s role as villain
Low Points: Too many plot holes, Dragging screenplay, Cliched done and dusted scenes.
Overall Mersal is a mixture of Shankar, Murugadoss and Vijayakanth movies put together. If you are an ardent fan of Vijay then there are many fan moments to enjoy in the first half. However, when reviewed as a wholesome product it fails to cross the line.
Wait for DVD/TV
Mazhalai Inidhu Short Film Review – Mazhalai Inidhu is a Tamil short film released in 2016. The short film explores the space between the importance to career and personal family life.
In the fast paced moving world with nuclear families and both couples working the time they get to spend with the child gets minimized. In case of high flying jobs, the child often gets lonely and longing for the time with the parents. Mazhalai Inidhu short film does an honest take on the problem.
The plot for the script is very common and connectable one. It also addresses the real world problems in a family. Kudos to the team for choosing it. They have also included the plot devices of showing two extreme characters of one being career oriented and the other willing to lead a balanced life at work. This helps in painting two contrasting picture. The climax of the film is very effective in driving home the message. Meesha Goshal has done the character with ease and is very convincing on the screen. Be it conducting team meetings, chasing down the kid to get ready or breaking down she has done it well. The background score blends well with the theme of the movie. Also, the team has used many different locations for the shoot.
When it comes to a nuclear family the burden should be equally shared between husband and wife. However, the plot hasn’t given importance to that. The length of the short film for its message is a bit too long. It would have been more effective to have it under 20 minutes.
Overall Mazhalai Inidhu is a very good attempt by director Gopinath and team. The team has a good potential for making more such intriguing dramas. Kudos to the team and all the best for their future endeavors.
You can watch the short film here
Lipstick Under My Burkha Review – Lipstick Under My Burkha is a Hindi Black Comedy released in 2016. The movie revolves around 4 women of various age group living in Bhopal. Each one of them has a dream that appears “Rosy” to them.
First and foremost this is a very bold movie and many of you may not like what you see on the screen. Although deep inside it reflects some of the true facts in an overly dramatic fashion that needs to be done to drive the point home. The movie captures the conservative background the four women live in and how contrasting wild their dreams are. A college-going girl Rehana wants to free herself from her Burkha. She idolizes Miley Cyrus and loves Led Zeppelin. Leela, about to get married wants to become an entrepreneur and start a honeymoon package for couples. Shireen, a mother of three kids living with an insensitive husband is a successful sales women and wants to grow in her career and a 55-year-old lady Usha who had lost her husband very young finds solace in fulfilling her desires by reading a soft porn magazine.
The events build up and the transition between the lives of the lead characters are filled in with the description from the book Usha is reading. Rosy is the lead lady in the book and it talks about her dreams. Rosy is a metaphor for the dreams these women wish for. The rosy picture in the dream is not so rosy in reality. There are very brilliant moments in the screenplay subtle yet powerful that exposes the stereotypical nature of the society. The scene where Usha introduces herself as Buvaji and then realizes she has a name. Another scene where Rehana steals items from the shop to look fashionable.
The problem with the plot is not everyone would be able to relate to every woman. But definitely, they would be able to relate to one aspect of it.
High Points: The plot and the premise is an interesting one, the narration style of using text from the book for the transition has worked well, The lead characters have performed well, in particular, Rathna Pathak’s performance.
Low Points: The story touches some sensitive subjects which many might find hard to digest, Due to the content this is an Adult movie.
Overall Lipstick Under a Burka is a bold movie that paints the picture of various stereotypes women are subjected to. Not all that one dream is as “Rosy” as the reality is.
Worth a Watch
Vikram Vedha Review – Vikram Vedha is a Tamil Neo Noir film directed by the duo Pushkar and Gayathri. The film released in 2017. The plot is akin to the folklore tales of Vikram and Vethal where Vikram was a righteous king who set out to the deep dungeons to capture Vethal. Vethal kept telling him tales where the lines of right vs wrong were blurred. In the end, the Vethal asked a riddle as to what is the right thing to do. Once Vikram answered it escaped. The movie starts with the animated version of this and the story has the same theme with a police officer and an encounter specialist Vikram after a deadly gangster Vedha.
Madhavan plays the role of the encounter specialist Vikram and Vijay Sethupathi plays the role of Vedha. The plot is definitely a very interesting one that can keep you glued to the seats. Vijay Sethupathi has literally rocked the show in his role as Vedha. From a characterization perspective, this is written strongly as well and has a good character arc. Madhavan too has equally performed well in bringing out the demeanor of an encounter specialist. The movie starts with what appears to be a casual outing for the police team and ends in a deadly encounter mission. Very nicely done and it sets up the tone of the movie and establishes Madhavan’s character very well. Even before Vedha appears on the screen there are tales about him which establishes him as a deadly demon. And when he appears it stays up to the expectation. When he narrates the first story it is quite gripping and the twist of his escape from the situation is also well planted. The movie had been extraordinary till this point.
Post this there are more occasions he narrates the story to Vikram but quite unsure as to why Vikram listens to it patiently. He is shown to be a cop who doesn’t take even seconds to leave the bad people alive. Why does he have to listen to Vedha is still a question. When Vedha knows he would escape from the situation why does he have to tell a story to Vikram is also not established well. We did not know why Vethal told stories to Vikram as well isn’t it. That’s the only analogy I could draw for this.
Shraddha Srinath and Varalakshmi’s roles help in moving the story forward.
High Points: Vikram and Vethal as a plot device, Vijay Sethupathi and Madhavan’s performance, The initial story narrated by Vedha, The background score, and cinematography.
Low Points: The screenplay has many loop holes in the second half and it is hard to reason out why Vikram’s and Vedha’s behavior changes.
Overall Vikram Vedha is a Flamboyant and stylish encounter that would make you whistle at many moments. If you are able to ignore the loops holes in the screenplay you would enjoy this very much.
Worth a Watch
The Salesman Review – The Salesman is an Iranian drama released in 2016. The couple Emad and Rana move into a new apartment after their current apartment building collapses. Some unforeseen events happen that change their lives forever.
The movie has won the Academy Award for foreign film category for 2016. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a very emotional drama drawing parallels to the “Death of the Salesman” play by Arthur Miller which the couple is enacting in the theater. The screenplay keeps you guessing until the end. The movie is quite engaging and there is never a dull moment. The climax as it unfolds explores the struggle between anger and forgiveness.
Shahab Hosseini’s performance is a standout in the entire drama. In particular, the way he has performed during the climax portion is impeccable. His performance is ably supported by Taraneh Alidoosti. Her looks convey more powerful emotions. Unlike some run of the mill thrillers where an action is thrilling here the way the characters react to a particular situation causes the thrill.
After such a powerful climax I felt bit hanging in the ending as it was open ended. I couldn’t immediately connect the interpretation that the director wanted us to have. However only later I got the emotional conflict portion between anger and forgiveness. You might be able to draw a different interpretation. If you do share it in the comments section. Although this is a well-made movie, I wasn’t sure if this is path breaking to win an academy award compared to the other nominations we had in that category.
High Points: A very engaging screenplay, The performance of the lead actors, the powerful climax and the conflict drawn between anger and forgiveness.
Low Points: If you haven’t read or watched the play “Death of a Salesman” you would find it hard to understand the parallels. The ending leaves you hanging for you to decide the conclusion.
Overall The Salesman is an excellent thriller drama and stands apart from the run of the mill thrillers. You would enjoy this more if you have watched the play by Arthur Miller. The climax being open ended may not connect with everyone.
Worth a Watch