Jan 2, 2013

The enigma of Shaun Marsh

It’s said that first impression is a lasting impression. Shaun Marsh, would disagree with the saying. He made a good impression on both his ODI debut and Test debut, but finds himself out of reckoning in both the formats.

Making his ODI debut after a successful IPL season, he acquitted himself well. He scored a polished 81 in that match. That the debut came 5 years after Steve Waugh picked him to be a special player is a surprise. After that match, he went through a normal run in the Sheffield Shield and didn’t come into the collective notice of the selectors till the breakthrough IPL performance

Looking at his career, one thing is prominent. He finds it difficult to maintain good form over a period of time. In fact, every good innings of his is a microcosm of his career. His knock of 85 (against Melbourne Renegades), spread over 52 balls showed us the reluctant starter, the team man, the excellent reader of the match situation and also, at times, a man who can’t will himself on for the long run.

At the beginning of the innings, he was happy to stand at the non-striker’s end and let Gibbs handle the task of providing an aggressive start to the innings. When Finch, Renegades captain, brought himself into the attack, he was all at sea against him. He struggled to get bat onto the balls that were speared onto his pads.

When each and every aspect of that innings is dissected, you would find that he played shots that were hit straight down the ground. The first boundary of Sheridan, the sixes off Samuels and Finch and the way he rotated the strike, everything pointed to a man who was at the top of his game. In fact, he was hitting Finch off the deliveries that he found difficult to put a bat on early in the innings

Australian supporters of cricket know better, because they didn’t hype the innings. They knew that Shaun was bound to fizzle out after an effervescent performance. And he did live up to their expectations. They have multiple examples of this phenomena that they simply stopped bothering

If one saw him in his first two innings in Sri Lanka (Tests) and that resolute 44 in the first innings at Cape Town, it would have difficult to believe that his career would careen to the depths that it inhabits now.

With two slots opening up in the middle order, it was indeed pitiable that the name of Shaun Marsh didn’t figure in the discussions. He has himself to blame for this. His record of indiscipline and an injury prone back are held up against him every time a good knock of his surfaces.

If he wants to retain a spot in the Australian team, his brief is simple; do something that he hasn’t been able to do for the last 12 years: be consistent

Dec 2, 2012

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum review

Why waste dialogues when a few visuals can convey them? Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum sets the tone early in the movie when they show a tribe getting displaced because of mining activities in the region

Why waste dialogues on an actor, when his eyes can do the trick for you? LB Sriram, often an underrated actor has but a few dialogues in the movie. He is always digging and storing away soil for future use. He says, “Thindi lekapoina parvaledhu, mattini adigithe peduthundhi. Matti-e lekapothe? “ (We can always depend on the soil for food (agriculture), but what if there isn’t soil available?”

Dialogues in the movie are the lifeline. It helps that the diction of Rana is top notch in the movie. Early in the movie, when the credits are rolling, a couple sitting on the porch say, “Nyayam, annayam lo Annyayam chelltuthundhi, endhukante annyayam lo oka aksharam hechhu ga” (When it comes to justice and injustice, it’s injustice that always prevails because it has more alphabets)

Similarly the dialogue flow in the scene, especially about opportunity and need, where Rana is applying for a US visa is brilliant. Being a mass entertainer, there is a problem with so many good dialogues in the movie. Even if you can’ understand a lot of them, the understanding of the basic plot of the movie won’t be hampered. If you can understand them, it allows you an emotional connect with the movie

One can’t help but draw parallels with ‘Khaleja’. While Khaleja dealt the issue with a light hearted tone, this does it with lot of emotions. Comedy was central to the theme in Khaleja; in Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum, it seems forced even in the presence of Brahmanandam

If Nayantara had a fleshier role, the comedy could’ve been sidetracked. Then, the makers ran the risk of having made a serious film.

Rana Dagubatti has made considerable progress in the acting department, or is it that the directors have come around to the roles that don’t require a lot of acting prowess. One thing in the movie that you can’t fault him with, is his impeccable diction. His acting and diction both rise in graph as the movie progresses. In most of the emotional scenes in the movie, he holds the attention of the audience and that’s not easy. Comedy and dances, critical to being a mass entertainer, are the departments that he needs a lot of development in. The desire to be a mass hero is pretty evident. In one song of the movie he imitates his uncle’s steps and dances with the uncle himself in another song

Nayantara’s comeback vehicle doesn’t have too much for her to do. She is upto the mark. As said earlier. She could’ve been provided with a meatier part and the movie could’ve been better than what it is. It is probably the first time that she has dubbed for herself in a Telugu movie and does well
Milind Gunaji played the role of the antagonist in a sophisticated manner. The dubbing for him was brilliant. A lengthier role and more dialogues could’ve catapulted him to the bigger league immediately

All the others in the movie perform brilliantly, none more so than LB Sriram and Kota Srinivasa Rao.

Krish has this knack of making movies similar in content to movies previously released. Like with Vedam, so with Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum. There are a few places where the recklessness shows, especially with the graphics in the portions leading to the intermission. Comedy surely doesn’t seem to be his forte as he has inserted a few comical interludes (?) without them actually being comical. Where he didn’t err was in picking a brilliant dialogue writer. Much after the movie has ended, the dialogues remain in your head. One more thing where he needs to be commended is with the length of the movie. At 130 minutes, it’s of a perfect duration. Doesn’t make you shift in your seats uncomfortably looking at the watch

Overall a movie that isn’t novel but surely provokes a thought or two

Nov 23, 2012

The problem with genres in Telugu cinema is that there exists a template for every genre. The same is true for the so-called ‘Fantasy’ or ‘Socio-fantasy’ genre too. The premise for these movies is established in the beginning and the audience are all waiting for the good to prevail over the evil.

Dhamarukam, a movie that has faced problems from the time the makers announced a release date. After postponements and public humour, the movie’s prints did turn up at the theatres today. The ticket counter people themselves were perplexed at the multiple postponements. In fact, yesterday when I asked them as to why the internet booking wasn’t opened for the movie, they replied saying they weren’t sure if the prints would come.

Once you get to see the movie, you would be surprised that the amount purported to have spent on the movie was actually spent. The CG work on the movie is nothing to write home about. What makes you sit through the movie is dashing Nagarjuna.

The director, Srinivas Redde (yes, that’s the name), has handled the comedy scenes with panache but it is towards the end of the movie that he fumbles. He can’t be alleged with not paying attention to detail. The child who played Nagarjuna’s  character in childhood has a tattoo on his right shoulder that Nagarjuna sports in real life.

As mentioned earlier, the voice of Ravi Shankar and the presence of Anushka create a feeling of déjà vu for the movie.

Nagarjuna, as has become the norm looks extremely handsome and doesn’t look like a 50+ man. Credit to him that in the song ‘Nesthamma’, which is similar in picturisation to Gundello Emundho in Manmadhudu, he doesn’t look like he has aged a day from that movie. What is undesirable in the performance is constant reference to mass. We aren’t used to listening it from Nagarjuna. One wonders what it was in the script that Nagarjuna got attracted to and nodded his approval

Anushka, sleep walks through the role and it is evident in many scenes. The scene where she drags the chariot, she is required to be radiant at the very least but she looks sleepy and dreary eyed. It can be said in the character’s defense that she was coming after having performed an operation, but the character she plays and the body language has no relation whatsoever

Ravi Shankar, plays the principal antagonist and shines in the role. He is the person in the movie mouthing lengthy and twisted dialogues. At no point does one feel that his performance graph is dipping. Based on this performance alone, we can expect to see him in more roles in the days to come

Prakash Raj,  does what he normally does- deliver a solid performance

Rest of the cast performed well in the short duration that they appear for in the movie

All in all, a movie that needs all the star power of Nagarjuna to steer it to safety. Considering the fact that the movie went over budget, it remains to be seen if people take to the movie. I feel it might garner the initials but wouldn’t be categorised under blockbuster category in the long run

Nov 22, 2012

Superman or Bradman of 2012

Who averages 1022 in Test cricket this year, every time he crosses 100? Who is the player having a conversion rate of close to 80% in scoring centuries? Who is it that has broken the record of Bradman and Ponting today by scoring an unprecedented 4th double ton in the calendar year?

The answer to all of the above is Michael Clarke, the captain of the Australian Test team. From the time he has been made the captain, he has been contributing with the bat. The century in the final test in Sri Lanka, where Australia conceded a 163 run lead remains fresh in the mind. His batting in that innings was of such top quality that not a single run came off the edge (outside/inside) of the bat.

Then came the century at Cape Town. People remember it as much for the stroke play as for the examination of his technique against shorter ball by Steyn. Today too, in the initial phase of his innings, he was subjected to the same treatment by the same bowler. Steyn came back with the same questions, with Clarke on 98 this time. For added menace he went around the wicket. What was surprising was the fact that they abandoned that line of attack way too early.

While he had his problems against Steyn, he took a particular liking to Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir. There were two shots that he played off Morne Morkel that will stand the test of the time. One, a leg-cutter pitched on the off stump that Clarke lofted over mid-off for a boundary. It was the execution of the stroke that can impress any purist. He stayed rooted to the crease, standing tall and with the upper body leaning forward he lofted an inside-out drive over the mid-off fielder. The next shot that will remain in the memory is the on-drive of the final ball of the over in which he creamed five boundaries. With minimal follow through, it was a sight to behold.
Apart from the short ball test, there was a probing spell that was bowled to him by Kleinveldt post that blitz after lunch. He induced three edges, all of which flew to the boundary, that Kleinveldt was unlucky not to get a wicket of. There was one appeal in du Plessis’ over that Smith didn’t refer. If he had, Clarke would’ve been dismissed as the replays found him to be in line with the stumps when the ball made contact with his pad.

37-3. 84-3. 40-3. 55-3. These are the scores that Clarke has come in and scored double centuries (a triple) from. If he had Cowan & Hussey for company in the last test, this time around it was Warner & Hussey.

His treatment of Tahir would have bought some semblance of smile on Bryce McGain’s face. The problem for Steyn & co, is that its not over yet

Oct 20, 2012

Cameraman Ganga tho Rambabu review

When asked his opinion on Monty Panesar, the legendary leg spinner, Shane Warne said “Monty hasn’t played 33 Tests, he has played the same Test 33 times.” Hilarious, it surely was, but it also tells us that the lack of variety can never go unnoticed.

Puri Jagannadh is also treading the same path as Monty Panesar now. His movies have become monotonous. No two ways about it. Protagonist leading a normal life, rises in staure, opposes authority and finally, gets his way. This has been the standard flow in the majority of his movies. A more recent addition is the way they talk to/about women.

In spite of all these blemishes, there are moments of brilliance in the movie, depending on your perspective that is. The scene where Pawan Kalyan confronts Prakash Raj on his knowledge about Telugu Thalli and the scene where he explains to Tamannah that every man is a poet in his own right are pointers to a brilliant dialogue writer hidden in the reckless director that we have come to know in the recent past.

For all the similarities in the narration and the similarity in the characteristics of the protagonist, Puri does get the actor performing the role to do it in a manner not associated with him previously. Case in point would be Mahesh Babu, Prabhas, Gopichand, and now, Pawan Kalyan. He gets them out of their comfort zones when they act under his direction. Perhaps the reason why people still watch his movies.

Pawan Kalyan is surely trying to come out of the mould. He is normally associated with the jumpy characters. In this movie, he does everything. From being intense to being comic. From being self-assured to being shy. He understood the nuances of the character very well, reflected in the close-up shots and no drawl in the dialogue delivery. He is the backbone of the movie and carries it well. That he had a lot to do in the development of the project is seen in the appearance of ‘Che Guevera’ in the movie. During the title-roll, his name appears next to a photograph of Che and then there is a painted portrait of Che in the house that Pawan lives in. There are hard-hitting dialogues in the movie and he has delivered them with aplomb. In his scenes with Tammanah, one does recognise the uncanny resemblance to Chiranjeevi. The tilting of the face to the sides, the affirmative responses and  the facial expressions were all pointers to his brother’s acting in his prime.

Tamannah appeared in a tomboyish role and did very well. The dialogue delivery was jarring and robbed her of whatever brownie points she earned through the performance. On a slightly different note, she wasn’t needed in the movie as the director could’ve even done with a male performer in the same role. It was heartening to see that there was a lot lesser skin show from her in this movie. Her reference point in terms of body language seemed to be Varun Sandesh. The costumes she wore, the dialogues for her and the body language were all similar to that of the abovementioned hero.

Others did, what was expected out of them. The brief scene between Prakash Raj and Kota Srinivasa Rao stands out amongst all the scenes. As is the trend these days, there is a twist in the movie and also an acknowledgement to Lawrence’s Kanchana in a fight in the movie.

To actually try to give a message in a movie meant for entertainment is pretty much like trying to perfect Physics Lab experiments in a SUPW class. The scene where Pawan Kalyan advices Tamannah not to short-change her femininity is followed by a song where all Tamannah does is to provide an ample glimpse into the mid-riff area.

Watching this movie repeatedly might be an ardous task but having a dekho for the sake of Pawan Kalyan won’t be harmful, and yes, the title is uttered by Pawan Kalyan: once in the movie

Aug 17, 2012

Devudu Chesina Manashulu review

Ravi Teja must be in a huge quandary right now. Once acclaimed as a minimum guarantee hero, he is craving for a minimum guarantee movie now. With Mirpakaya it seemed as if he had reached a level of stardom. Pity then, it has been all downhill after the hit of Mirpakaya

The movie in question, Devudu Chesina Manushulu, has nothing to satiate an average viewer. Nothing at all. For a Ravi Teja fan like me, it is a different matter altogether. I can watch the crappiest of films that he has a role in and not complain. So looking for complaints from me on this movie would be futile.

*This is a rant, you can progress to the next Para and wouldn’t have missed anything*
In December 2008, Neninthe released and was blasted back from the screens because it criticised certain sections of media crudely. There wasn’t a single review that had good words for the movie. Today, as I couldn’t see the movie FDFS, I did check in to find a few reviews. I wasn’t surprised by what Deepa Garimella of fullhyd.com wrote, as her writing has certain fluidity about it and she was blatant in thrashing the movie. Yes, I read her reviews, but that doesn’t have a bearing on whether I will watch the movie. I normally check in to read her reviews, only to find if our views match. She is my favourite writer on Telugu films after all. What put me off was a tweet by a reviewer from a site that does live updates for every Telugu and Hindi movie. Sir, your writing is such that you write Telugu in English. That’s the best I can summon up the words for your reviews. So you complaining about clarity of thought etc is not done: at least not as a critic. Well once I came out of the screen, a lot of people’s opinion was what I read on twitter earlier. The worst of all, people who loved Businessman when it released were unequivocal about their hatred for the same movie

*End of Rant*

Puri Jagannadh, much like his mentor did in Dongala Mutha, made this movie without a basic plot. It entertains to a certain level but doesn’t ask too much of involvement from the audience. You call it negligence or complacence is upto you. A part of me has started expecting a lot less from him after that disaster called Nenu Naa Rakshasi.

Ravi Teja needs a hit, and fast. He is going downhill way too fast. I remember him saying in an interview that he wants the movie to make money. Critical appreciation, to him is secondary. Well with movies like Dongala Mutha, Veera, Nippu, Daruvu failing to make money, he should fall back on movies that will satisfy the actor in him. That 3 minute turn in a negative role as the Home minister is a pointer to the boundless talent that he has. Unfortunately, the line-up of his movies suggest no deviation from the type.

Illeana had the perfect dubbing and it resulted in one of her best performances. Nothing earth shattering, considering she doesn’t have much to show in her repertoire

Prakash Raj, Subba Raju, Brahmanandam, and Ali are all pointers to the talent at hand for Puri and how he went about wasting it. A lot of scenes in the movie are good as stand-alone scenes, but when it comes to blending them in the narrative, it doesn’t quite gel
Pic Courtesy: idlebrain.com

Aug 11, 2012

Australia Under-19s V England Under-19s

Till lunch the match seemed evenly poised. The introduction of the captain, AJ Ball, into the attack eased the pressure on the Australian batsmen. The pull shot by Head off Ball had resounding effect. Twice, Australia tried to mount a counter-attack and both the times the batsman trying to do it was dismissed. Jamie Overton, exchanged a few words with Patterson after being swatted for a boundary and delivered the perfect riposte- an away swinger pitching just outside the off stump. That was the last wicket that England got. Australia got away on account of a tactical blunder by England. England did not bowl Jamie Overton immediately after lunch, thus allowing Bosisto to secure up one end.

In the morning session, both Paris and Steketee got their first wickets with deceptive inswingers. While Paris foxed Drummond with a fuller delivery, Steketee disturbed the woodwork as Foakes left it alone thinking it would swing away. Sandhu offered no respite with his height. He bowled short pitched deliveries that troubled Kapil a lot. As impressive as his bowling was the fielding at fine-leg. He pulled off a couple of brilliant saves. England never had a partnership going. They made an attempt at it twice, only to be set back by wickets.

Turner’s spell was crucial as England seemed comfortable with the leg spinners of Cassell. His arm-ball was a treat to watch today. His dismissal of Wood would have made the best practitioners of the art nod in approval. This was the basic difference today between the teams- the approach. Once Australia got the wicket of Kapil, they wanted to finish the innings off. Bosisto didn’t hold back his best bowlers. He might have given a thought to the fact there were seven overs of Casell left but he wanted to dismiss the remaining batsmen.

Craig Overton was the only batsman who offered some resistance. His innings was marked by his stubborn refusal to get onto the backfoot. Almost all of the 81 deliveries were faced with frontfoot plonked hard. He played an innings similar to Bosisto in terms of strike rate but not in terms of the effect it had on the opposition. Where Overton concentrated on keeping his wicket from falling, Bosisto concentrated on rotating the strike. The fact that Bosisto didn’t get his first boundary till he reached 26 is a pointer to his ability to rotate the strike.

Bowlers from both the sides looked very good, good enough to knock on the selector’s doors in the coming years. Topley, Jamie Overton, Paris, Steketee, and Sandhu all impressed in their own way. Topley’s dismissal of Peirson is something that will be remembered for a long time to come. It was a Yorker that Peirson played all over and had the middle stump broken into two. Australian bowlers, in particular seem confident about displaying their wares. The confidence would’ve stemmed from the fact that Cummins was selected to represent the national team. McDermott is making his presence felt in the junior team too. The opening bowlers bowled the fuller length, the length that Pattinson, Siddle, and Hilfenhaus perfected last summer.

With their next match scheduled against Nepal, Australia would want to improve their batting. England, on the backfoot would want everything to come together for them, including winning the toss.

Aug 9, 2012

Julayi movie review

There are directors who know the mass pulse and can set the cash registers ringing. There are directors who can make the best of wooden faces act. There are directors who feel that it’s their job to make movies and make it the way they like it, regardless of the mass sensibilities. There are directors who mould their working style to the strengths of the actor, thereby bringing the latent talents to the fore. Trivikram Srinivas belongs to the last class of the directors

Allu Arjun, for most of us, is known as an actor whose strength doesn’t lie in reciting pages of dialogues. It still isn’t. Trivikram comes into the picture here, as he doesn’t expose this particular weakness by giving him short dialogues and crispy one’s at that.

Trivikram’s movies have all got similar ingredients- dialogues, romantic track of the hero with a weak female protagonist and a patriarchal character. From Jalsa on, he has had one more thing added to the list- comical performances by the protagonists. All these factors never give way to attrition for us as Trivikram has made it a habit to intersperse all these with beautiful dialogues. A pointer to the above mentioned is Brahmanandam’s role in the movie. Though short in screen time, he has two scenes that he can easily add to the archives of his best scenes- one where he talks about the writer’s block and the other being his scene with Hema and Dharmavarapu Subramanyam.

From Khaleja on, his movies have entirely depended on the protagonist. This movie too, is driven by Allu Arjun’s character. Sonu Sood excels as the intense antagonist, only for his part’s characterisation to go up in the climax. Illeana has nothing to do in the film, apart from appearing a few songs.

The director sets up the movie very early in the first half. It is a clash between the protagonist and the antagonist. Trivikram had revealed in an interview that he is a book-worm. A case for psychology analysis can be done for a few scenes in the movie. Watch out for those scenes where the thought process of both the actors proceeds along the same line. This is repeated by Tanikella Bharani towards the end of the movie when he admonishes his son. He reiterates that there is nothing different between his son and the villain. Just that the villain thinks in crores and his son thinks in lakhs.

Dialogues, as usual, are the backbone of this film too. There are a lot of dialogues that stand out, but the best of them are:

Allu Arjun: Mana desam lo logic kante magic paine nammakkam ekkuvva… andukke scientist la kante mana desam lo babalu famous ayyipoyyaru

Dharmavarapu: Veediki nenu koduku la vunna … veedu pelli koduku enti

Allu Arjun has performed well in a role that requires him to be comical, confident, violent and romantic. His dances still remain his best USP. Comparisons with Mahesh Babu, from Khaleja, are bound to arise but he has done well keeping his limitations in mind. His chemistry with Rajendra Prasad is much better than that with Illeana. His imitation of few actors in couple of songs is hilarious

Illeana has nothing to do in a role that asks her to appear sparingly. Accordingly, she doesn’t look at her best in the movie. Her poorly sketched character is perhaps the biggest flaw of the movie. One or two more movies of the same, and she can kiss her fading career in the Telugu film industry a good bye

Sonu Sood has the second best role of the movie. He excels in the role till it is botched up in the climax. He has to take care of not being repetitive in the antagonist roles.

Rajendra Prasad has a good role and does good justice to it. Kota Srinivas Rao, Rao Ramesh, Tanikella Bharani are, as usual, excellent in the roles given to them

There is one flaw that still seems to haunt Trivikram- ending his films. He has a similar problem with this movie too. If not for that, there is nothing much to complain about the movie