Category Archives: Reviews

Bombay Review

This is a review about the 1995 Tamil film titled Bombay.

First off a little background about this film and me. At the time of writing this review, I had just finished watching it for the second time ever. When I first watched this film, I was about 12 years old. Being the young, stupid kid I was, I disliked this film a lot when my mother first showed it to me. I saw it purely as a lame romance film set against a bunch of religious zealots killing each other. Now, 10 years later, while I was surfing YouTube, I stumbled the song “Uyire Uyire” from the film and was actually impressed by the song. So I decided to sit down and re-watch it. Now that I’m older, I was able to appreciate this film much more during my second viewing. I now consider it to be a classic of Tamil cinema. Yes, I know that some people’s definition of classic Tamil cinema differs from my definition, but I was born int he 90s, so films from the 90s feel classic to me. Anyhow, enough background! Let’s get on to reviewing this film.

 

Acting/Characters

All I can say is wow. Seriously, the acting in this film from the main and supporting characters is fantastic. Again, Manisha Koirala shows off her acting skill by portraying a young school girl thrust from rural into city life, and then a distraught mother perfectly. Her acting easily carries the entire film. This film has cemented her in my personal actress Hall of Fame. There are not many actresses who can capture my attention and hold it for a 2.5 hour movie just on the strength of their acting alone. The character she plays in the film is well developed. We get to see her background including her religion, her family and most importantly, how she grows and develops over the course of the film. I can’t say I have seen very many films (Tamil or otherwise) that have shown the level of growth that Koirala’s character undergoes. Of course, Manisha is not the only star of this film. We have her counterpart, Arvind Swamy. While he does not give that great of an impression at a beginning, soon I was impressed by his acting as well. The man really knows how to portray emotions. Again, just like Manisha’s character, Arvind’s character also grows during the film. Then of course, we get to the two actors that played Arvind’s father and Manisha’s father respectively: Nasser and Vasudevan. Both of these men show some serious acting prowess. While you are watching them, you would think that these actors hate each other and hate their contemporary’s religion  in real life. That’s how strong their acting is. Again, both of the characters that these actors play also develop and change during the course of the film. All in all, a solid cast delivering solid characters.

Score: 9/10

 

Music

I think it is safe to say that this is one of the best set of songs that A. R. Rahman has ever composed for a film. The tracks cover a wide diversity of genres from ballads/melodies to more fast-paced dance-ish songs. Each song is memorable and consequently each song has made it into my music collection. They are that good. Rahman takes full advantage of the singers and instrumentals to deliver songs that are powerful and emotional. I actually felt the songs affecting my emotional state as I was watching the movie. Same with the instrumental soundtrack used during the various scenes in the film. The music was perfect in creating the atmosphere that Mani Ratnam wanted to show to the audience. The tracks “Uyire Uyire, “Kannale” and “Malarodu” were incredibly powerful tracks that fit perfectly for the scenes, moments and dance sequences they were used in. All in all, an astounding soundtrack. I will not go too much into the music videos for the songs themselves. They all did a wonderful job of keeping up with the quality of the songs. I would however like to highlight that the music videos for “Uyire Uyire” and “Kannale” were fantastic. The shots used in “Uyire Uyire” were beautiful and the use of nature to accent the emotion of the song was brilliantly done. “Kannale” also managed to keep up with the song itself and showcased some beautiful scenes.

Score: 9/10

 

Cinematography

After watching this movie, it is pretty obvious that the cinematography is amazing. The locations and shots used during the beginning of the film are beautiful to look at. I found myself replaying certain scenes over and over again just to enjoy the landscape and weather. Then there is the entire sequence with the riots in Bombay. The props, the set, costumes and makeup were all incredibly detailed. You saw people’s clothes get dirty as they were moving through the chaos, cars were moving, trash and smoke everywhere. It looked exactly how a riot was supposed to look. The use of cloudy weather was also a nice touch and contributed to the negative atmosphere of the entire riot portion of the film. Mani Ratnam also had no qualms about using tons of extras to feel like the riots actually had mass and momentum instead of looking like it was a small group of people. Indeed, the entire film looked beautiful.

Score: 8/10

 

Plot

Now the important bit, the plot. All I can say is wow. We start off with Arvind and Manisha born into a Hindu and a Muslim family respectively. They are from worlds very different from each other and have fathers who are incredibly religious and dislike the other family’s religion. We see them meet, and see their love overcome their religious differences. We seem them move to Bombay from a rural village and adapt to big city life. We see them raise a family together and teach their kids both religions in a respectful manner. We see their parents come to visit their grand children and how the grand children have allowed each of their parents to come to respect each others’ religion. We the family survive the ethnic 1993 riots of Bombay. It’s not everyday that we see a film about a couple who are from different religions trying to survive in a world where the religions of the couple are at each other’s throats. But, the film is not purely a love story. It manages to delicately weave into the story an exploration of the religious divide between Hinduism and Islam, and how the two co-exist in India in a tense yet mostly stable state. We see what happens when that stability breaks down and both religions clash, how it can escalate into a vicious cycle that feeds itself, and how people can overcome their differences to join together to end the conflict between the two religions. The film has several fantastic moments where various characters highlight how despite being two different religions, Hindus and Muslims are really the same people on the inside. In fact, one moment that really stuck out to me is when the lady that saves one of Arvind’s and Manisha’s kids tells him (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Hinduism is one path to god. Islam is another path to god. They both go to the same god, but I have no idea why people fight like this.” The entire plot takes place over about 6 years from Arvind and Manisha first meeting to the riots. What amazes me is that despite all these different stages of life being shown, the film did not feel overly long. All I can say is that my skepticism from my first viewing of this film has been totally blown out of the water. This is one of those films where I actually was thinking about the consequences of the two main characters’ actions instead of just being pulled along for the ride.

Score: 9/10

 

Overall

Score: 8.75 / 10

This is a must see film, regardless of whether you are Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, or any other religion. As a self-proclaimed atheist, even I enjoyed this film immensely, and I’m sure many others will as well.

Naan Ee Review

Today, I am going to reviewing a more recent Tamil film, Naan Ee. The basic premise of the film sounds silly, a man is reincarnated into a fly. As the fly, he has to defend his love interest from the antagonist of the film. Yes, the premise is totally ridiculous and it is not hard to dismiss this film outright. But surprisingly, this film does not that bad. Read on for more.

Acting/Characters

The three stars of this film are Nani, Sudeep and Samantha Prabhu. The real star of this entire film is Sudeep. The man switches easily from serious action and villain moments to pure silly comedic moments well. It’s hard to pretend you are in a fight against a house fly, but Sudeep pulls it off flawlessly. The femaile heroine, Samantha does a decent job of her role. Unfortunately like many Tamil films, the heroines usually don’t get to show off their versatility very well, and Samantha’s role in this film prevents her from doing anything spectacular acting wise. However, like Sudeep, she manages to interact well with a CGI house fly without looking like she is faking it at all, so she gets points from me there. Finally, there is Nani. I am not going to evaluate his acting much because he was in the movie for like the first 30 minutes. He does a wonderful job playing the love-struck boy chasing after a girl. The characters themselves are not fleshed out very well and are very very 2-dimensional. While this does not detract that greatly from the film, it does result in a few points being taken off for this section.

Overall, Sudeep single-handedly carries the entire acting team through this entire film despite the 2-dimensional characters that are in this film.

Score: 8/10

Music

As far as I can tell, there were two distinct song/dance/music video sequences in this entire film. While both were good, only one song from the entire film will actually make it into my music collection. However, that is not going to result in an abysmal score in this section. Yes, there were not many memorable songs. But let’s be honest, it would be hard to add many song/dance sequences to this film without the sequences looking forced. After all, this film is about a guy and a house fly duking it out. There is not much room for fancy songs. That said, the background instrumental track did its job well during the various scenes of the film and definitely contributed strongly to the atmosphere. Thus, the music gets an average score.

Score: 6/10

Cinematography/Special Effects

This really is where the movie shines. The movie is full of special effects, especially considering the fact that it stars a CGI house fly. I think this is a good movie to use as an example of Kollywood finally catching up to Hollywood’s CGI standards. While this movie is not quite at Hollywood’s level yet, it’s special effects can definitely hold their own alongside Hollywood blockbusters. The house fly itself is well detailed and its movements are convincing. Same with a sequence where there are birds chasing the house fly. There is also a sequence where the antagonist shoots up an entire house and the special effects are good enough that it looks like a classic shoot-em-up Die Hard film. The special effects team should be commended for their great work on this film. The cinematography itself is standard fare for these kinds of films. The colors were correctly chosen, angles were fine, no shaky sequences, etc. All done well.

Score: 9/10

Plot

This is arguably the weakest part of the film. Let’s get one thing straight, the premise of this film does not help the story. It’s very hard to come up a good story for a film about a house fly. While the script writer for this film does come up with a good enough story, the film certainly won’t be winning any awards for this story. The story is simple and straight forward. The antagonist wants the same girl that the hero of the film likes. However, for the antagonist, the heroine also likes the hero. So the antagonist does what any good antagonist would do, and gets rid of the hero so he can have the heroine for himself. Of course, the hero is reincarnated as a house fly and is now out to stop the antagonist from getting the heroine. While certainly many parts of the plot are not very original, they come together well enough to keep the audience entertained for the 2 hour film. There were some plot holes that could have been fixed, but these problems did not ruin the film for me. In fact, despite the premise, I found that I enjoyed the film. There were tons of laughs and some tense action moments. One thing viewers should keep in mind is that this is a lighthearted film not meant to be taken seriously. Thus, I am not going to dock too many points on the plot score.

Score: 7 / 10

Overall: 7.5 / 10

 

Ayan Review

I am going to attempt to do reviews of tv shows, movies, and video games that I play. Hopefully, it will improve my writing which has gotten fairly poor over the past couple of years.

First up, I am reviewing Ayan. Yes, yes, giggle all you want that I am watching this movie 3 years late, but its hard to come by Bluray versions of Tamil movies these days. Anyways, as usual, this review may contain minor spoilers, but I will try to avoid it as much as possible. All of the spoilers will be contained in the plot part of the review, so if you want, you can skip that part. Anyways, on with the review.

Acting/Characters

First up, let’s talk about the main actors and their characters. As usual, Surya does a great job of showing his ability to do a wide variety of scenes from comedy, action, drama, etc. No complaints from him here. Tamannaah, while beautiful to look at, as usual (in my opinion) falls short in the acting department. I saw her first in Paiyaa, and if any of you can recall, she doesn’t talk much or do much for much of that film. While she gets much more dialog here, from what I have seen, her acting is in the good enough category, but it is pretty clear that Surya outshines her in this department. Both main characters are enjoyable to watch in this film. What really amazes me about this film is the side characters. Some of them are cookie cutter and 2 dimensional, but a few of the main supporting ones like Prabhu and Jagan actually act well enough that you can like their characters. That’s all I have to say in this department.

While there are many good performances, some of the 2D side characters and Tamannaah’s acting reduce the score a bit.

Score: 7.5 / 10

Music

There are memorable, catchy tunes in this song. The melody piece is also a nice tune and good to listen to. Once again, Harris Jeyaraj proves his mettle as a music composer. The music videos themselves vary. Some of them are solid with good shots and costumes. Some of them hit their mark. Again some of the transitions into the music segments and back are well done. Some of them are completely jarring. Bonus points also go in this department to the fact that several of the music videos actually contributed to the story and characters instead of being completely detached in remote lands.

Score: 8 / 10

Cinematography

Was it good? Yes.

Was it memorable? No.

The cinematography was good, but definitely not something I will remember years from now. The locations they used for a lot of the film are done well. The action sequences have good angles, no shaky cameras and you can clearly see what was going on. So at this point, so far so good. However, some problems are present. Why is Congo portrayed with a perpetual tint that causes it to lose a bunch of its colour? I know that world perception of that country is not great, but seriously, why must the editors make it look like it is some depressing wasteland to live in. I was definitely not a big fan of that. The car chases also showed problems. It was very obvious that the camera footage was sped up quite a bit to make it look like the fast moving car chases. That works well in straight lines, but when the cars are zig zagging and executing sharp turns, it looks totally cartoonish and shatters the standard set up by the foot and fight scenes. These parts almost ruined the movie for me to be honest.

Score: 6.5 / 10

Plot

The plot suffered pacing problems. The first hour felt far too slowly paced and there was no real villain during that first hour. The fact that it took them a whole hour to develop the film’s antagonist is kind of ridiculous. They could have shorted this film by a good 30-45 minutes if they took out a bunch of extraneous sequences. Did the antagonist really need an hour to develop? Nope, the plot made it fairly clear in the beginning where the antagonist was going. The writer could have just sped up the pace a bit, and we could have gotten a more leaner movie out of it. The movie also walked a very fine line between violent retribution and a more peaceful revenge. The moments where some of the supporting characters died looked like it could be moments where the movie would spiral into the common trope of violent retribution that many Tamil action films devolve into (cough Vijay cough). Thankfully, Prahbu’s supporting character kept it from devolving into violence until the end. I was impressed by how they focused a good chunk of the revenge on a less violent path where they used Surya’s skills to seize drug shipments that the antagonist was importing into India. But again, it was a tight line and at moments, it felt like the film could fall off the line towards the violent retribution path. I’m glad that except for the end, the film continued to walk that line. It is refreshing to see Tamil action films not devolve into the protagonist barging into the antagonist’s stronghold and proceeding to cut his henchmen up. The film ended on a happy note which always gets bonus points for me. Overall, the plot is good enough that you will enjoy the movie, but is certainly not astounding enough for it to be getting critical acclaim.

Score: 7 / 10

Overall Score: 7.25 / 10

Ayan is a solid film that will keep your entertained without feeling like you wasted your time at the end of it.