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Maniratnam’s latest lands in religion controversy

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Controversies are not new to veteran director Maniratnam. In the initial days of his career itself, he created ripples across the country through his ” Bombay” movie. Now “Nava rasa’, the film produced by him landed into similar controversy as Muslims are severely objecting on this movie. Details as follows.

Navarasa’ is a nine-film anthology produced by Mani Ratnam. It was released directly on Netflix this weekend. The movie has nine short films based on nine ‘rasas’. The movie got good feedback from the viewers. Most of the viewers say at least 5 out of these 9 stories are really good. Each of this short film is directed by different director like – Arvind Swami, Gautham Menon, Karthik Subbaraj, Priyadarshan etc.

While the makers are happy with this positive response, they received a jolt from unexpected quarters. Some Muslims were deeply offended with the makers of the movie utilizing the verses from holy Koran for the publicity of the movie. Also, one of these 9 stories has references to the verses of Quran. This upset some of the Muslims. Raza Academy, a Muslim organization tweeted, “Netflix has published a verse of the Quran in the advertisement of its film NavaRasa in Daily Thanthi newspaper. This is an insult to the Quran. We demand strict action against @NetflixIndia.”

However, Maniratnam or any director of the movie did not respond on this controversy yet. We need to wait and see how they respond.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Mani Ratnam inks a deal with Netflix

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Veteran and versatile director Mani Ratnam has been working on his dream project from the past few months. The web-based project is titled Navarasa and will have nine episodes with nine actors playing the lead roles. Mani Ratnam was holding talks with Amazon Prime for the project but he recently inked a deal with digital giant Netflix for the same. Suriya, Vijay Sethupathi, Aravind Swamy, Siddarth, Sneha, Jai will be seen playing the lead roles in different episodes of Navarasa. Madras Talkies will produce Navarasa.

Mani Ratnam will direct one of the episodes and the others would be directed by Gautham Menon, KV Anand, Bejoy Nambiar, Rathindran Prasad, Aravind Swamy, Siddharth, Karthik Naren and Ponram. Siddharth and Aravind Swamy are making their directorial debut with Navarasa. The project would be made on a high budget and will roll soon. More details will be announced officially soon.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Nani misses a Golden Opportunity

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Natural Star Nani is always in hunt for interesting roles which suits him the best. The actor’s recent track record turned out to be an inspiration for many young actors after he scored seven blockbusters in a row. The actor has been dreaming of working with his mentor and legendary filmmaker Mani Ratnam from the past couple of years. He has been approached to lend his voice for OK Bangaram and he was quite excited about it. He wished of working with Mani Ratnam soon and the legendary filmmaker too approached Nani with an interesting role.

Things did not work out because of Nani’s prior commitments and he had to walk out of Mani Ratnam’s next project which is a multi-starrer and will start rolling soon. Mani Ratnam recently announced his next which will feature Vijay Sethupathi, Jyothika, Simbu and Fahad Fassil in the lead roles. The regular shoot is expected to start from November this year. Nani is busy wrapping up MCA and is shooting for Krishnarjuna Yuddham which will release in December and February respectively. Nani will have to wait for some more time to make his dream of working with Mani Ratnam coming true.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Cheliya Movie Review : Technically Brilliant, but Boring !

Cheliya Movie Review

Cheliya Movie Review

Known for his poignant romantic entertainers with strong emotions, master filmmaker Mani Ratnam is back with yet another film titled as Cheliya. Starring Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari in the lead roles, the film has its music score done by A R Rahman. The refreshing trailers and the heartwarming songs have hinted that the romantic thriller will be on the lines of Mani Ratnam’s cult classics. Let’s see if Mani Ratnam casts a magic spell with this romantic entertainer or not.

Story:

Varun ( Karthi ) is an Indian army pilot, who’s being held as prisoner in 1999 Kargil War. While in Rawalpindi jail, he recollects his love travel with Leela (Aditi rao Hydari). Set in Shrinagar , an young air force officer VC aka Varun romances with multiple girls before falling for Dr. Leela into deeper true love. The conflict point is his non-serious appearing love, male egoistic attitude versus her mad love which also demands an equal relationship. Rest of the story is the consequences of his attitude in flashback, in present day how he escapes from Pakistani prison. Narrated in sliced flash back format, Cheliya story has an interesting plot on paper.

Performances:

Karthi as army pilot in initial scenes is very good. With his crew cut, cool shades Karthi appeared T-fit for this Casanova army pilot role. However, as the story gets heavy, in pathos he should have done better. Heroine Aditi Rao Hydari is gorgeous with her luminous skin – whitish complexion. Attractive eyes enhance this princess beauty, she acted well too. All other roles in this film are insignificant, whole story runs between the lead pair

Analysis:
Cheliya movie has a different storyline, never seen before backdrop to the story, Jaw dropping locations of Kashmir, Real fighter jets shown in authentic army air bases, couple of great visuals’ songs, very beautiful heroine, Camera work and art work are of top of the top league… But all got killed by Maniratnam’s ultra slow scenes, meaningless emotionless conversations! With great technical teams at his disposal, Maniratnam should make movies at bit faster pace and with natural conversations. It’s a criminal waste of others’ effort to do films at such slow pace. Many dialogues make us laugh with irritation.
In this film, Maniratnam tries to present a love track between two completely attitude lovers. Also, he projects Kids before marriage (born for same couple) is an acceptable norm. In one scene, he jovially showcases that hero’s brother and brother’s lover gets traditionally married with full rituals at her 9th month of pregnancy. At the end of the marriage ritual, she is rushed to labor room for delivery. What A sarcastic take that is.
First half of the film is watchable though the conversations between lead pair are boring. Second half is weak, doesn’t offer much except picture locations. However, Climax is slightly better

Technical:
Technically Cheliya is one of the best films in recent times. Ravi Varman’s cinematography is arresting as he captured Nilgiris , Kashmir and Serbia locations in never seen before way. Each other technical departments too excelled in their job. Sharmishta roy’s art design is elegant. The uncanny homes, rooms set in Kashmir valley are elevated with her designed interiors. Earrings worn by Aditi Rao (Jewelry courtesy: Amrapali) may become trend amongst girls. Sham Kaushal choreographed stunts are good, especially climax chase scene in which Varun runs away from Pakistan search parties after his jail escape. A R Rahman music is great in couple of songs, and as background score. “ Maimarupaa.. “song is one of his best compositions. However remaining tunes are disappointing, are not as popular as his previous films. Production values of this film are superior class.

Verdict:
Cheliya film is visually appealing to eyes, will be liked by ardent fans of Maniratnam style of slow paced taking. Common movie lovers may find it very hard to have a satisfactory experience. Heroine, Picturesque locations and technical finesse being positive points , this film’s survival at Box-office is tough as it tests patience with mindless conversations (atleast in Telugu version) between  the lead pair.

Telugu360 rating 2.75/5

Release Date : 07 April, 2017
Director : Mani Ratnam
Music Director : A. R. Rahman
Cinematography: Ravi Varman
Starring : Karthi, Aditi Rao Hydari

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Ok Bangaram Review

When it comes to romance, Mani Ratnam has an uneven advantage in making even the mundane plots dance on screen with unblemished technical brilliance and undiminished attention to the nuances of love. “Ok Bangaram” passes the test for Mani Ratnam and it is no mean feat for one of the finest masters of Indian Cinema. He has made a memorable romantic movie in every decade since the 80s that gets burnt in our psyche. “Mouna Raagam”, “Gitanjali”, “Sakhi” and now “Ok Bangaram” joins that league. Even if the plot is not something unfamiliar and the treatment lacks wow factor at few places, the finesse of the film with all the visuals, the rich music of AR Rahman and the tracks between the lead pairs (there are two pairs in fact) transport you into trance. Roping in such technical stalwarts like PC Sreeram, Sharmistha Roy, Sreekar Prasad and Rahman, Mani can heave a sigh of relief that his product, after a long gap, will taste some success at the box office. 

Indeed the plot is mundane and much cited on silver screens – a live-in relationship between two mature professionals – Aadi  (Dulquar Salmaan) and Tara (Nitya Menen) who are spectacularly in love with each other while keeping an eye on their fledgling careers. Dulquar is a gaming guru who conceptualises imaginative online games that rake in the millions and Nitya is an architect who is seeking her Masters in Paris. Dulquar stays as a PG with an elderly couple  – Prakash Raj and Leela Samson. Love grows between the two young pros with faultiness often arising from live-in expectations. It goes through a roller-coaster ride before a familiar climax with many moments of truth inspired by the geriatric couple of Mrs and Mr Ganapathy (played by Prakash Raj and Leela Samson). But Mani Ratnam doesn’t believe in a riot of love without a cause, so you see a romantic track with the duress of a success-seeking professional and the affections of your immediate family, however dysfunctional or the care of those who need. In 138 minutes or so, Mani Ratnam’s old magic of story-telling returns without any temptations of narcissism of the craft or visuals that rush up your adrenaline. With good screenplay, stunning visuals and a commendable starcast, the movie deserves a once-watch even if some familiarity with his treatment creeps in at many points. In many ways, the old film “Sakhi” still remains unsurpassed because of the beauty of a sober plot that has many uncharacteristic twists and pathos moments. 

Yet, “OK Bangaram” scores high because of the freshness of the pair. Nitya Menen takes the cake in the movie with an effortless performance that will win hearts, she is at once vulnerable yet measured, cute yet cold-blooded with her mother, innocent but also volatile in moods. Wearing dresses that she might wear on a day of no-shooting, Nitya strikes a delicate balance with versatility and grace unbelievable for a South heroine. The only thing that takes away marks in her performance is the  inconsistency in her characterisation; she first turns down a lover who is interested in her estate but with Aadi, she gets distracted all the time falling for the same tricks that she believes boys play before getting fresh with girls. Aadi, played by Dulquar Salmaan is exciting. The boy who won all the hearts in “Bangalore Days” is the most promising youngster that Mani Ratnam has re-launched for an audience far removed from Mollywood (Malayalam movies). Whether in control of emotions in love or losing it, in anger and poise, camaraderie at work or sympathy for an elderly landlady, Dulquer smarts ahead with a great show of talent – something that comes easily to him from father and superstar Mammooty. His characterisation is the most consistent and worthy of a protagonist coming of age. Kudos to Actor Nani for lending his inimitable voice to Dulquer in the  Telugu version. Nani’s voice has amplified Dulquer’s character for the masses – it is a great idea and a good sporting gesture. Normally, Aalap Raju or Srinivas Murty are the only voices you hear for all Tamil heroes in Telugu versions but this is a delectable experiment – must be at Dil Raju’s bidding who produced the movie in Telugu. Prakash Raj gets such a meaty role in this film, after “Iruvar”that he should thank his stars for a spotless role which will re-ignite his career in that space where he was virtually unchallenged. If Jayasudha stole the show in “Sakhi”, Prakash Raj did it in “Ok Bangaram” with shades of “SVSC” performance. Leela Samson gives a soulful performance as a lady losing her way in life with Alzeimer’s. Her lines linger on and give the depth to an otherwise elementary story. 

What endears the film is Mani Ratnam’s mature handling of the themes and visuals he wants us to go home with. He could have been tempted to show cliched scenes of fights to elevate heroism or sympathy to pad up the love story etc.but he shows great restraint by sticking to responsible and refined cinema. In the film, for example, the heroine’s mother uses her influence to subject the hero to police torture. Any other director would have shown the scene  – right from Shankar to Rajamouli but Mani dismisses it as an aside plainly told by the hero to the heroine, matter-of-factly. Similarly, a love story doesn’t fire up without a customary item song or a drunken scene or fights. Cleverly, quite deftly, Mani shows none of these banalities – instead, he uses the montage of the gaming animation to show stunts and other chutzpah – skip it or snooze, the story doesn’t jar you. Heroism for the heroes and glamor for the heroines – both these get redefined by Mani in the film, a lesson somewhere for master manipulators of emotions in Tollywood. It is good that successive failures and biting criticisms of Mani’s previous films have made him mellow in his love with the craft versus attempt to tell a good story. 

Mani has told a good story with a familiar message though – with conventional trappings and some deja vu moments of bitterness and celebration in love and life. But the effort shows and leaves you with a nice aftertaste unlike some of his forgettable films in the last decade. Helping him to get a breather again are technicians who worked closely with him in several films. PC Sreeram, that ace cinematographer proves  a nonpareil when it comes to catching fire with screenshots. This time, he choses Mumbai’s lesser-highlighted imagery – torrential rains, jerky rides  on bike, high seas of the Arabian Sea with up-close shots of the ships that keep a vigil on the coast at night and many other shots like that. Sreeram’s work is itself paisa vasool for the film and makes it above-average viewing. Of course, his lighting is legendary – and while he makes the lead pair sizzle in their chemistry and screen presence, he has highlighted the old pair in the moods that Mani wanted them to be in, Leela Samson’s shrinkage from a carnatic musician to a forlorn patient is captured well by Sreeram as also the shots in the trains in which lot of Mani’s films revel. AR Rahman’s music has been a chart-buster before the film released, now it will egg you on more since the film is a treat to watch. With nine songs rich in variety and orchestration, Rahman has given the season’s best songs and BGM. And Mani hasn’t fully done justice to their picturisation;  he hasn’t subtracted though from the music with his visual output. Visually, the song on the gaming concepts that greets you on titles has the raciest groove in the score. The carnatic  number sung by Chitra is the only song abruptly cut short by Mani. Otherwise, almost three or four songs which are good audio tracks are extended in the second half which increase the hummability of the songs. Songs by Rahmanand the music co-scored by Rahman and another troupe take the experience to a new high. Mani’s imagination is not commensurate with Rahman’s perceptible instrumentation reserved for “Mani Sir’s films”. The only song that stands out is the duet in the lodge in Ahmedabad where the young lovers feel the physical temptations of love but don’t give in yet. Dubbing-wise, you don’t feel this is coming from Tamil, the quality and the Telugu diction  is so good. Also, references to local towns and a couple of politicians make it credible. Sirivennala’s lyrics make the Telugu songs enchanting and classy compared to some of the hopelessly inapt lyrics penned in Mani’s previous films dubbed from Tamil. Instead of using words like “Gunde Kinda Needocche” and “Kuriseti Gadiyaaram”, Sirivennala uses lilting words which are also sensible. Dialogues by Kiran are in the same metric length of Mani Ratnam – crisp and business-like. Despite many moments where you feel the lag of a director who is not able to outgrow his favourite love scenes and hurrah moments, “Ok Bangaram” will get Mani’s fans happy again. Here’s a master who gets his mojo back. It is not brilliant and not the best of his movies – but he re-presents the timeless paradigms of skin-deep love for another generation confused in online chats and careerist obsessions with reinvigorated craft and squeaky clean touch of class. Watchable, for sure.

Rating: 3.25 / 5

(Reviewed by Sridhar S.)

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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