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Ikkat Review: It Is Silly But Fun!

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Ikkat (Kannada, Amazon Prime)

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Plot
A couple on the verge of divorce have to stay together during lockdown as a nasty surprise awaits them.

Rating: ***

Ikkat Review: Covid is now big business in  our movies. But somehow  to generate humour out of the pandemic is not an easy task. Not when the  frowners  will inevitably accuse  the co-directors  of  trivializing a   worldwide crisis.

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Well, to hell with the  partypoopersIkkat the  first  funny comedy I’ve seen  in the  Kannada language,  thumbs its nose at the naysayers. It takes well-aimed posthots at  the  terrifying predicament  of   couples who during the lockdown  were left to their own devices, mainly sex, during the lockdown. Hence the baby boom. The  workingclass couple  in  Ikkat played with broad  unsubtle strokes of satire  by  Nagbhushan and Bhoomi Shetty are  not  into baby-making.

They have  other  problem s to deal with  when Prime Minister Modi announces  a lockdown.It’d easy for him to talk of sampoorn lockdown.  The ones  to take  the brunt  of  the  crisis were  nuclear families  forced to stay  together  for weeks.

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 A  dismayingly  irritating uncle(Sunder Veena) , the bin bulaye  mehmaan  drops in.He  will remind you  of  Paresh Rawal in Atithee Tum Kab Jaoge. Except that this  uncle is far  broader  and  bristling with a comic  synergy. Every actor is into broad burlesquing,  which is  not  a bad thing in this case, considering the plot about coping with  unwanted guests  during lockdown  is leaden with  the spirit of an over-the-the-top  humour  which somehow never crosses  the line  of decency except when the  riled  wife  rhetorically asks not once  but twice, “What is  there  in our  house that is  long in size?”

Is she talking dirty or am I imagining it? Bhoomi Shetty as the wife has excellent comic  timing. Her faint resemblance to  the great Sridevi made her more interesting to me than she actually is. But her expressions of disdain dismay and  disgust are bang-on. Nagabhushan as her bitter-half reminded me of Laxmikant  Bherde.  However the two actors  playing unwanted  guests  in the tiny house are originals. They have to  be. To replicate their  comic synergy   and  satirical expressions would be  impossible.

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While the writing gets  progressively clumsy with the ending  being more like a  sudden unplugging  of the  heated energy than  an actual  solution , Ikkat does make you smile once in a  while. At  its  best it is   mildly humorous. At its worst, it is  loud and  cheesy. The  humour  regarding  Janvi’s tiktok  friend who  hides in her closet, under the bed ,etc gets annoying like  a house  guest who  overstays.  That apart, if you are  looking for broad humour during  these turbulent times, Ikkat is just the  pill that you will  find  hard not to swallow.

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Subhash K Jha Selects The Best  Malayalam Films of 2022

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Bheeshma Parvam

  1. Bheeshma Parvam: This  is  probably best adaptation  of  The Godfather in  recent years. Director  Amal Neerad  doesn’t let  us forget that this is  his take  on Francis  Coppola’s The  Godfather.And what a take it is!  This  masterly Malayali  mafia movie is  self-explanatory. Its muted violence is  stifling .It creates a world so  tightly wound around its own  heritage  of successive violence that the family unit  threatens  to fall apart.Sweeping in its melodrama,arching in its velocity and  untameable  in  its  epic  ambitions Bheema Parvam  hurls us  into the world  of  Michael(no coincidence  this Michael name-calling) Anjootty, kicking dragging and screaming.The narrative is custom-built to accommodate  all  the characters  from The Godfather into the Malayali household.And  it’s all done  with a chaotic perspective on  the  moral and ethical  dynamics  of  extra-constitutional  violence.Even  if  one is  familiar with  the  original  material  this  ravishing remake takes you by surprise with its distending  temperament and  a choleric  enormity whereby the  violence comes  in  revealing  welters  rather than as  rule.
  2. Salute: The  Write  Brothers Bobby  & Sanjay are the real  heroes of this   clenched  tale  of  the teacher and the taut. Interestingly two  brothers in the police force,  ideologically far removed from one another ,are at the crux of a  film that prods at the  audiences’ collective  conscience while creating an edge-of-the-seat thriller about  guilt and  redemption. Is Salute the best screenplay that Bobby and Sanjay have written to date? The answer would have been  a resounding    yes, were  it not for a relatively  lame endgame which left me  feeling  a wee cheated  thought  not betrayed.The narrative  has  too much going for itself to  suffer from a post-climactic  depression. I  would say Salute survives the  end-blow  most gracefully, thank you.The pacing is  consciously  languorous , as  though the pressures to come on the drama of ideological  warfare need  ample breathing space to grow. Grow,  the narrative does with astute velocity. While the  last-half hour is compromised,  the  narrative remains  partly breathless  but    pertly pacy  all through.Sreekar Prasad’s editing is firstrate  with the  plot  moving  in tandem with the stressful  tension that the protagonist  creates when he prefers  to be  a  pebble in the stagnant pond.Salute has  a lot to say about mending broken promises. It is  a  coiling seething  angry  film  about  injustice and corruption set  to  a  normalized tone which doesn’t pick on  any character for  poor discharge  of duty.
  3. Dear Friend:  Betrayal is  a lot like  a terminal  illness. There is  no point in talking about it. The more you do , the  more bitterly ravaged  it leaves  you. Betrayal is  best left to itself. It is  , to some like me, a  crime worse than physical  violation.  Time heals  the damage to the body.What about the  heart?The  look that I saw  in the character  Jannat’s eyes  at the end of  Vineeth Kumar’s  Dear  Friend would stay with me forever. It said so much that words  cannot. Not that Dear Friend is  short of words. It cannot be. With five flat-mates  sharing  space, thoughts, dreams,peeves and, yes, a pet too, words  flow.And yet Dear Friend is a very quiet film.Quiet and  non-judgemental, even when  one  of the  friends  just leaves,quits,exits. Without  prior notice.The  friends, two of whom Jannat(Darshana Rajendran)and  Arjun(Arjun Lal)  are a couple, find their own way of dealing with the betrayal.    Writers (Sharfu, Suhas,Arjun Lal) and  director Vineeth  Kumar  refrain from probing into the raw wounds. It is a  remarkably dry-eyed  film. Where  there is  so much room for drama  and hysteria, Vineeth Kumar choses to internalize  the hurt and  wounded  pride .This is one of  the most restrained  projection of hurt and betrayal I have seen, and also one of the most dispassionate  There is a wonderful  lengthy sequence with the vanished  friend’s mother where the  four friends find out the  truth about the filth of the  fifth. The  mother doesn’t shed  a single tear.These are  emotions  buried  too deep for tears.
  4. Puzhu:  Mammootty in  the Malayalam Puzhu is  the most complex problematic father I have seen  in any  film since  Hrishikesh  Mukherjee’s Anupama.  Mammootty plays  Kuttan a blatant  casteist, who has disowned his sister(Parvathy Thiruvothu)  after she  married a Dalit actor.Mammootty’s frighteningly  prejudiced  patriarch  doesn’t hide his biases. He is  like a bull in a  china shop that makes  no effort to spare crunching over fragile content.Kuttan’s  autocratic arrogance  is amplified when he is the company of his young son Kichu(Vasudev Sajeesh).  That  the  70-year Mammootty passes  off as the 14-year  old boy’s father is a  measure of the actor’s charisma and credit. That  they don’t look comfortable  as  father and son serves  the  film’s purpose  just fine.Kichu is  petrified of his disciplinarian dad. The  boy is not allowed  any space to breathe beyond school, books and  parenting. He  is losing out on all the pleasures that make adolescence such a  rewarding adventure. The father has the  boy his neck squeezing the life and breath out of him.In the beautifully designed  though at times clumsily executed  film,debutant director  Ratheena  draws drama out  of the simplest of  situations, like the father making his son watch  the same  family  video every night where he is seen disciplining  the boy as a toddler.Puzhu shows us how tyrannical  parenting can destroy a  child’s life.And hats off to Mammootty for  slipping so effortlessly into such an evil  character.Kuttan  could have easily been  played  like a full-time villain. Mammootty embraces  all  of  Kuttan’s  negativity and  alchemizes it into a force of  inhumanly rigid  nature. He  is at once a despot and a  weakling. His son hates him for his  tyrannical behaviour. But Kuttan has his own logic, no matter how faulty and fractured,  for what he is doing.In his  preposterous  worldview and his failure to tell  discipline from despotism Mammootty makes the most despicable dad , barring Alencier Ley Lopez in Appan.
  5.   InAriyippu streaming  Mahesh  Narayanan  actually steps out of his home territory in Kerala  and takes  the protagonists  to NOIDA for  better prospects. As  migrant workers in a glove  factory   Kunchacko Boban and Divya Prabhu merge so effortlessly into the migrants’ world of  invisibility that if you are  not  familiar with these two actors’ work, you would think they are  actual migrants.The  only time they are called  out is when  someone during a scuffle mutters, “These bloody South Indian migrants.Hareesh and Reshmi would have remained entrapped  in  their  citadel of anonymity,  like Balraj Sahni and  Nirupa Roy in   Do Bigha Zameen , if something terrible didn’t happen. A doctored video surfaces, showing  Reshmi performing oral sex on a man not seen  in the video(anonymity/invisibility has many faces in Ariyippu). This  ugly incident  triggers off a  chain of  recalcitrant actions with far-reaching consequences to the married couple’s mutual trust fund.Mahesh Narayanan’s  has written a  fable with  irreversibly tragic consequences.  
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Nagarjuna Stands by Samantha  In Her Hour Of Distress

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Nagarjuna and Samantha

It was known  for quite sometime  in  Hyderabad that  Samantha  Prabhu  was  suffering from a skin disorder. Now  that she has so bravely confirmed  that she is  suffering  from Myositis , the entire Telugu  film industry  has   shown its solidarity,and that includes  her former father-in-law Nagarjuna.

A  source close to Nagarjuna reveals, “Nag wonders why he is being asked  whether  he would be  reaching  out to Samantha or not. Sam and Nag share a terrific rapport from long before  she married his  son Naga Chaitanya. Now, just because the marriage has ended, no one is an enemy here. The two families maintain cordial relations.”

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About Samantha’s illness Nag was  one  of  the  first  to reach out.

“It is  ridiculous to even  suggest that a broken marriage  ends  relations between the two families. At least not in this case,” asserts  a  family friend  .

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Chhello Show: India’s 95th Oscars selection Last Film Show to release in 95 cinemas at Rs. 95 ticket price!

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Chhello Show

Celebrating the magic of cinema, and considering the massive buzz around the title, the makers of Last Film Show (Chhello Show) are releasing the film on the LAST SHOWS of THURSDAY, 13th October.

While the Gujarati-language coming-of-age drama was set to release theatrically across India on Friday (14th October), audiences can now catch it in advance on Thursday night itself.

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In keeping with its selection for the 95th Academy Awards, Last Film Show will now open across 95 cinemas at a ticket price of Rs. 95! This is a welcome initiative by the makers to bring LAST FILM SHOW (Chhello Show) to the widest possible audience at an affordable price, all a day in advance.

Sharing the news, director Pan Nalin said, “There has been immense excitement among fans for our film Last Film Show (Chhello Show) and we are all too happy to release it on the ‘Last Show’ of Thursday. Also, what better way to celebrate its selection at the 95th Oscars than by releasing it in 95 cinemas at a wonderful price of Rs. 95!”

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Producers Siddharth Roy Kapur of Roy Kapur Films and Dheer Momaya of Jugaad Motion Pictures jointly said, “We are thrilled that our film Last Film Show (Chhello Show) is finally reaching its appropriate destination—the cinematic big screen. With our exhibitors on board, we are releasing the film in the final shows of Thursday across 95 cinemas at a Rs. 95 ticket price. This is our humble way of honouring the love and excitement audiences across India have shown for our film. “

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Madhuri  Aces The  Gujju Housewife’s Role  In Maja Ma

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Maja Ma(Amazon Prime Video)

Maja Ma(Amazon Prime Video)

Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Gajraj Rao, Ritwick Bhowmick

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Rating: *** ½

The LGBTQ  community is suddenly getting a  lot of attention  from Bollywood. Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao played  gay characters  recently. Now it is  the  divine Ms Madhuri  Dixit playing  a  Gujarati housewife In Maja Ma  who after  years of  obedient housekeeping  is forced  out  of  the closet.

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 Actor  turned  director Anand Tiwari(who did well for himself while helming Bandish Bandits) is on firm ground. He explores the  Gujarati middleclass household and the  gossipy  rigidly conservative  milieu with  confidence.  Once again after The Fame  Game  Madhuri plays  a wife and a mother with dark secrets. This time she is more tragic than mysterious. Wordlessly she slips  into her character Pallavi Patel’s pained  past to dig out  uncomfortable truths.

It is a  bold audacious concept. The  film asks some uncomfortable  questions  about  an individual’s identity within  the domestic domain. But the conclusion to an  inherently messy and unresolvable  situation is  most convenient and  unconvincing. One  feels  that  the director has eventually taken the shortcut at  the end opting for a neat resolution when there is none.

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But the  film is no doubt  a whole lot of fun. The festive mood never slips out of the writer’s  and  director’s hands. Some  performances particularly  the redoubtable Sheeba Chadha who as  the NRI  PTMIC(Punjabi turned mod  in confusion) is messcast, and I do mean mess-cast . She is way  too over-the-top to register  as  anything but caricatural.

On the  other hand,some of the other performances blend fluently with the ebullient mood. Gajraj Rao  (as  Madhuri’s  supportive   husband)  , Ninad Kamat ,Simone Singh and  Shristi Shrivastava lend solid  support to Madhuri Dixit’s quietly effective performance.This is a  film where  the  flaws are  easily overlooked in  favour of  the larger picture .

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