Ohm Shanthi Oshaana with Samantha Kannan

Samantha Kannan joined me for a discussion about her new book, A New Journey, just released July 1, 2020. We also fangirl together over our love of Nivin Pauly playing Giri in one of my all time favorite films, Ohm Shanthi Oshaana.

Samantha’s book is a fictionalized account of the few months she spent teaching at a village school in Kerala, India. Samantha sent me an advance copy, and I found the book delightful. Due to COVID-19, my own trip to Kerala this fall has been delayed at least a year. This book was the closest thing to actually visiting. She vividly describes the hospitality of the people, the food and all her adventures. The principal of the school wrote the foreword for the book. Samantha has reasonably priced the book on Amazon in the US and in India.

We talked just before the book was published, and in its first days it became a best seller in travel books on Amazon!

I hope you enjoy our discussion of A New Journey and our favorite Ohm Shanthi Oshaana!

Happy 60th Birthday Mohanlal!

I am so grateful I started watching Malayalam cinema a few years ago, and stumbled into the films of Mohanlal.  What a distinguished career for one of the world’s finest actors.  I have only seen a small fraction of his over 300 films.  I thought I’d make a compilation of those reviews here to celebrate Lalettan on this milestone 60th birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manichitrathazhu Movie Review

I finally saw this classic Mohanlal film!  OMG Shobana was AMAZING!  She won a National Award for this film for good reason.  I was intrigued to see Shobana and Suresh Gopi in a classic film after seeing their chemistry in Varane Avashyamund.  The last 45 minutes of this psychological thriller were absolutely jaw dropping incredible.

HIT & Trance are on Amazon Prime

Two recent films I saw in the theater, are now streaming on Amazon Prime.

HIT is a Telugu mystery thriller starring  Vishwak Sen as a troubled detective.  This film produced by Nani is worth a watch!

 

Trance is a Malayalm film starring Fahadh Faasil as a faith healer preacher.  It’s the first film with Fahadh’s wife Nazriya since Bangalore Days.  The film is directed by Anwar Rasheed, director of Ustad Hotel.  The first have is exceptional, but I found the second half abstract and confusing.  Still worth a watch for Fahadh’s performance, and the supporting role of director Gautham Menon.

 Maheshinte Prathikaaram – Fahadh Faasil is great in this unconventional revenge story

Maheshinte Prathikaaram (Mahesh’s Revenge) is a delightful Malayalam Comedy-Drama starring Fahadh Faasil.  I think this is actually only my third Fahadh Faasil film, but I have many of his recent films in my watch list.  I loved him in Bangalore Days.  Oh, my gosh when he revealed that huge tattoo!  I hated him for most of the movie, and then he totally won me over in those emotional scenes.  I really didn’t like him in Amen, but then his character was such a nebbish!  He was true to the character, which was a character I didn’t like that much.

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Mahesh, however was such an interesting character.  As was the whole small town setting of the movie.  I loved this peak into the Indukki area of Kerala, which has very tough women.

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Like many Malayalam films, the entire first half meanders it’s way through character introductions and not a lot really happens until almost the interval.  But I didn’t mind at all.  I picked this movie to watch on a day that I had been watching news of the shooting massacre in Las Vegas.  I relished getting away from it all to this beautiful small town in Kerala.

Mahesh has a photo “shop” where he takes passport photos, “Chin up.  Shoulders down.”  He’s a fixture taking photos at every wedding and funeral in town.  He’s not very good.  He has a long distance relationship with a girl he’s had a crush on since childhood, and then she gets another marriage offer from an NRI.  Mahesh is passive.  He doesn’t pursue the girl.  He’s satisfied just taking passport photos.

And then there is an incredible cascade of arguments and spats that starts with a disagreement at a funeral and ends in a brawl.  This whole sequence of one fight leading to a bike accident, to the next argument, and on and on was one of my favorites.  It was very clever.  One person’s ill temper leads to the next situation and so on.

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And finally Mahesh gets drawn into a brawl with some rowdies from a nearby town and gets literally hit in the head — pushed into the metal bar of a rickshaw.  He is so thoroughly trounced that his elderly father has to step in to say “enough” to the rowdy.  Mahesh is humiliated and vows to go shoeless until he gets his revenge — throwing his flip flops away!

And Interval.

That’s the set up.  This passive, happy to just go along in life guy, suddenly wakes up.  And starts to make things happen.  He meets a girl.  He realizes he doesn’t really know how to take pictures, and learns to appreciate photography as art.  And he does get his revenge, eventually.

The gentle story telling makes those couple of intense fight sequences all the more visceral.  They felt very real. The final scuffle was so intense I cried out because I though someone had a broken limb and my son came out of his room to see if I was okay.  “Oh.  It’s just a movie.”  LOL

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What’s delightful is just letting this movie wash over you.  I just loved the meandering gentle story telling.  Learning about all the people in this small town, and especially the spunky girl Mahesh meets.  Young actress Aparna Balamurali was absolutely fantastic as Jimsy!  She’s blunt and speaks up for herself in a very straight forward way.  “Love me if you’re brave enough.”  Both the women in this film totally were able to make their own choices.  Even the ex-girlfriend when presented with an arranged marriage offer is given free choice by her family.

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The supporting cast was all universally great, too.  I particularly liked the performances of Alencier Ley Lopez as Baby, Mahesh’s best friend who owns the next door shop, and Soubin Shahir as Crispin, Baby’s new employee.

Maheshinte Prathikaaram won the Malayalam National Film Award and I can see why.  Director Dileesh Pothan and screenwriter Syam Pushkaran transported me to Kerala for a few blessed hours.  The cinematography and music were very nice too.  There was a flash mob scene with Aparna which I though was a brilliant way to have a big dance number in a natural feeling film like this.  It totally fit her character!

 

The Amazing Classic Malayalam Mohanlal film Spadikam

I’ve been on vacation out of the country for a couple of weeks, so I’m catching up on the films in theaters.  One of the films I brought with me on my iPad was Mohanlal’s Spadikam which is on ErosNow.  I love that ErosNow lets you download films now!

 

I loved the crazy action, but especially the intense family drama between Mohanlal and Thalikan, who plays his stern father.  Devasuram is still my favorite Mohanlal film, but this one is right up there.

The film is also readily available on Youtube.  Check out how crazy the first 10 minutes of the film are.  The viewer is just dropped into the action, with no initial clue as to who Mohanlal is fighting or why.

Comrade In America – First Video Review together with Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood!

Margaret of DontCallItBollywood and I have been friends for a couple of years, and I was the one that got her to start watching Malayalam films.  There’s only one theater in Chicago that plays them, and we meet in the middle there to watch them together when we can.  It’s a 45 minute drive for both us — but for Dulquer, it’s worth it!  I’ve started doing regular reviews on the Bollyfools Youtube channel, and this is my first joint video review with Margaret.  We filmed it quickly in the lobby of the theater, so I apologize in advance for all the background noise.

CIA didn’t blow us away, but it was an enjoyable one time watch.  Margaret’s more extensive review of CIA is posted here.

 

 

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Podcast with Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood!

 

How we met through her masters thesis project, and how we both started watching Indian films!