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3- A review

Well to begin with, I walked out of the theatre singing,”Why this kolaveri Da???????” and it was a lot later that I figured why the movie was named 3? And its another fact that my friend slept during the second half.  So here is my verdict:

True to its name, the film is about three phases in the life of Ram (Dhanush) and Janani (Shruti Haasan). The movie loops between flashback and the present.

Phase 1: Ram, a school student meets Janani and falls for her and within no time Janani also reciprocates. The first phase is refreshing and lively with realistic incidents like following the girl home on his bike, joining tutions just to see her, phone calls at night, secret tete a tete on the terrace etc. Ram’s friend Kumar played by Siva Karthikeyan is humour personified and manages to keep the audience in splits with his one liners.This phase is the most enjoyable phase in the film as this phase entertains you the most.

Phase 2: Love strengthens between the couple but as usual their parents come in their way.Janani’s parents decide to move to the US and Janani retaliates against her parents by burning her passport and tells them that she loves Ram and wants to live with him. Initially, they oppose, but later they give in after they meet Ram and find out that their daughter is iin safe hands. The two get married in a nightclub and live their dream of living happily ever after. This phase, again, passes off like a breeze.The film sails through smoothly and engages you completely because it is hitherto a roller-coaster ride of emotional ups and downs. The narration is refreshing with the scenes moving back and forth with some suspense thrown in between.

Phase 3: Post interval, the final and third phase starts when Ram suddenly starts having psychological problems. He’s detected with bipolar disorder (!!!), a problem which forces a person to swing between moments of extreme happiness and sadness. Ram’s friend Senthil (Sunder Ramu) tries to help him and gets him treated without the knowledge of his wife. It is wierd given that they are a couple who share a very deep bond, how janani  takes so long to realise that something is wrong in their life!So, not only the relationship between him and his wife starts to falter from this point, the film starts to stumble too.

The film now takes the typical psychological thriller route from that point and one will tend to lose his interest from this point on because it becomes too predictable. The screenplay starts dragging lot and starts boring you. You have B Grade graphics being thrown in to make the audience understand that Ram is hallucinating ang that he is on the brink of suicide.The only consolation in this phase is ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ song and its simple and no nonsensical picturisation. You will like the song but not the phase.

The ending is very predictable. The message that comes after the ending (about suicide) will add to your dislike.

Ram is tailor-made for Dhanush and the National award winning actor once again proves that he is one of the finest actors in South India. His acting is natural and subtle. His body language and voice modulation are fantastic too. His commitment to the film is so high that one feels that all his hard work has been let down by a half-baked script, particularly in the second half.

Shruti Hassan has improved a lot since her last outing in ’7am Arivu’ and impresses as a caring and confused wife.But its irritating when she starts smiling in each scene and bursts out crying in the end of that scene. And mind you not tears, but loud wails!! Sunder Ramu has done his later part to perfection but his physique didn’t blend well in the initial phase. Veteran actor Prabhu as Ram’s father has given a subtle performance with good support from other senior artists like Rohini and Bhanupriya.

The film is technically very rich with awesome sound clarity made possible by Oscar winner Resul Pookutty. The songs are the soul to this film and are perfectly in sync with the scenes and have been shot well. Anirudh Ravichander proves that he is not a one-song wonder kid and impresses with the background music particularly in the light-hearted moments.

Overall, ’3′ fails to meet the expectations and works only in parts. Newcomer Aishwarya shows promise by taking a serious subject in her very first film and if she dared to think a little differently instead of walking on the beaten track, she would have triumphed here.

I would suggest you to give the theatrical watch a miss and wait for the DVD instead.

P.S- Look out for the Dhanush who looks neat in a suit and for the really cute first half of the movie 🙂

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Beautiful-A Movie Review

Stephen (Jayasurya), a multimillionaire who has lived his entire life on a wheel chair, strikes up an uncharacteristic camaraderie with a hotel singer John (Anoop Menon). The two get along like a house on fire, and when Anjaly (Meghna Raj) arrives as the new maid, the two men find themselves falling hopelessly in love with her.

Menon’s script is a no-nonsense one and can easily claim to have some of the best one-liners in recent Malayalam cinema, and with this magical combination, turns out to be an intelligent film that works on multiple levels.

It’s only amusedly that you can listen to Kamalu’s (Nandu) take on beauty and the human perception of it, and when he exhorts you to think Aishwarya Rai struggling with stomach issues, you realize for the umpteenth time probably that a belle with a belly in distress could ruin it all and wonder if beauty is after all only stomach deep!

And yet, when Anjaly walks in a few minutes later, dripping wet in the rain, it’s impossible for us not to be awestruck along with Stephen and John, by her curves. The droplets that simply refuse to let go of her waist seem to share our sentiments as well. This is the sheer electricity of male longing at work that merely fortifies with each feeble attempt to refute it.Really, just don’t miss the scene right before the Interval!!

For a change, the women in ‘Beautiful’ are aware of something called desire, unlike the archetypal Malayali film heroine. There is this much-married doctor (Praveena), who admits that marriage is after all a ‘license to start an extra-marital affair’, and who confesses that she meets up with her lover once or twice a year to keep the spirit up and going. The reason why they didn’t end up being married, was simply because they didn’t want to ruin all that love.

There is the housemaid Kanyaka (Tesni Khan) as well, who puts in an extra bit of effort when she settles down to trim Stephen’s unruly beard. She has lost claim to her name “kanyaka” which means Virgin, after she was physically abused, memories of which she brushes aside with a smirk. She even whispers to Stephen that Kamalu has been making advances on her, and when quizzed as to why she didn’t care to respond, comes up with a remark that’s nothing short of a holler.

And ofcourse, there is Anjaly herself, who with her sheer presence takes carnality to new heights. She is no seductress, which is to mean that there is no deliberation on her part to lure the men, but her being is reason enough to charge up the dimly lit rooms of Stephen’s abode with an erotic magnetism; like in the scene, when she walks into Stephen’s washroom to take a bath, and the resonance of the running water becomes almost agonizing to the two men outside.

There are a number of well written scenes in the film, and though it would be difficult to list them all out here, a few do stand apart. John, having been rejected in love, spends a night in drunken stupor, and on waking up finds his fellow singer (Aparna), who is madly in love with him, picking up the past night’s leftovers. He looks at her for a while, and admits that he finally realizes the anguish of being spurned. Equally adorable is another scene, when an overtly flirtatious Stephen attempts to make Anjaly uncomfortable, by quizzing her on the complex process of wearing a sari. When she retorts by asking him if his mom has never worn a sari, the grin that spreads on Stephen’s face is infectious.

There are two other men who deserve a special mention as well. There is Jomon T John, whose cinematography is, let me utter it out, as sexy as it gets. The dampness of the ambience and the forever falling rain, those fantastically lit interiors and the subtle nuances of expressions – almost everything looks stunning thanks to Jomon. Ratheesh Vegha is at it with a vengeance again, and the sound track of the film is truly out of this world, with ‘Mazhaneer Thullikal’ reverberating in your ears for a long, long time.

And who could forget the overwhelming performances of both Jayasurya and Anoop Menon, who seem to have well realized that this is a masterful, and perhaps even a bit of a cunning script that they have landed up with. The actors have hence given it their best shot, and the results are there to see. And perhaps there wouldn’t be any other actor who could play Anjaly the way Meghna has. The enticing charm and sexiness that the actor exudes in a deglamorized avatar, and the spontaneity in her portrayal have contributed immensely to the hypnotic quality of this work.

A close-to-masterpiece! Breathtaking cinematography, natural feel scenes, classic dialogues and one liners has made this  movie the best I have watched in 2011. Beautiful is indeed Beautiful…..

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Don 2-A review

Don is back with a freakingly stylish SRK and a stooping low plot.

Don 2 is the sequel of the Farhan Akhtar directed Don, itself a remake of the 1978 classic Don, starring Amitabh Bachchan. Don 2 starsShah Rukh Khan in the iconic role of Don, the under-world baddie. The story begins five years after where its prequel left, the escape of Don from the hands of the Interpol. After having conquered the Asian drug under-world, Don now sets his eyes on the Europe and wants to become the European drug-lord. Unfortunately for him, the reigning European drug dealers want him dead. Don surrenders himself to the Interpol in Malaysia where he meets his nemesis Vardhan (Boman Irani), in the prison. While Vardhan and Don get into a scuff in the jail, Don convinces Vardhan that he surrendered only to break him out of prison and in return he would require his services in a future heist he is planning. Unfortunately enough that was a lie and as the film progresses, you never find any reason for Vardhan to be present in the team pulling off the heist. Don hires Sameer Ali (Kunal Kapoor), a computer hacker to break into the DZB of Zurich to rob the printing plates of the Euro currency notes. Don blackmails the Vice President of DZB in to give him the code to the vault where the plates are kept. When the VP hires an assassin, Jabbar, to kill Don, he effortlessly turns him into his accomplice. The rest of the film revolves around Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and Mallik (Om Puri), chasing Don and Don and his team pulling off the heist and how painlessly Don manages to escape scot-free from the hands of the Interpol and the European Police.

Don 2 is a film that defies logic. Reason evades the chain of sequence of events. Why Don enters a building and then winches down a rope from its roof to lose a tail of assassins pursuing him on foot, still remains a mystery. Don 2 not only suffers from sloppy writing, which seems to be an epidemic these days in Indian film-makers, but it also is the victim of a confused plot. Farhan Akhtar, it seems could not make up his mind whether to show the sparks of love between Roma and Don or to let Don have a new girlfriend (Lara Dutta), so he settled for both. Also, among cross-fires and blowing grenades too much dialogue-baazi and time is wasted in the incongruous love-hate chat between the two. The role and character of Arjun, Roma’s colleague in the Interpol, raring to ask her out, feels unimaginably uncomfortable in the bottomless character that he is shoved into. Don, who had been relentlessly killing people until more than half the film suddenly develops a soft corner for the hostages that he had decided to leave inside the vault with Vardhan and Jabbar. When Don explains how he pulled off the heist, it almost feels that he did not plan only the heist but scripted the arrival of the police and their actions as well.

What percolates onto the screen isn’t Don as a character, but Shah Rukh Khan, the actor, playing Don. What is painful is that Shah Rukh grunts his dialogs rather than delivering them. There is a fair bit of arrogance in the way he portrays the character and his performance graph consistently dips as the film progresses. Priyanka and Lara unfortunately have very less scope of performance in the mini-roles that they appear in. Kunal Kapoor delivers an earnest performance and looks good on-screen too. Both Boman and Om Puri have short roles but consistently carry forward from where they left in Don.

Apart from an under-written script, Farhan Akhtar has probably made the most forward film ever  in India. The film is shot in a Hollywood style, using tungsten and sepia frames appropriately. The car chases and action sequences are beautifully shot but unfortunately lack the edge-of-the-seat feel you would expect from them. The film in one word has Shah Rukh Khan written all over it but that, precisely seems to be the biggest mistake. What’s most enjoyable is the 5-odd minute walk on by non other than Hrithik Roshan and long after he is gone, you feel he, probably, should have been the one playing Don.

Don 2 is a let down in more respects than one. Not only does the film move at a sluggishly slow pace, but it also draws futile inspirations from films like Oceans 11, Mission: Impossible series and also from TV shows like Prison Break. The inspirations are not too well drawn, and look like a misfit in the story.

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Dam(n) 999- A review

Cast:Vinay Rai, Vimala Raman, Joshua Fredric Smith, Megha Burman, Linda Arsenio, Jaala Pickering, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapoor, Jineet Rath

Oh dear, what an insult to the Mullaperiyar Dam issue! For weeks I have been trying to figure out why this film is hyped about and why on earth is it banned in TN?!?! Is the film an effective comment on an issue close to their hearts? Will it inform the world about the risk to the lives of all those living in areas surrounding Mullaperiyar? The questions are natural considering that the film’s title seems like an allusion to the Tamil Nadu government’s 999-year lease to operate the Mullaperiyar Dam located in Kerala. Now that TN has banned the film, director Sohan Roy is crying himself hoarse that it has nothing to do with Mullaperiyar. So why 999, Mr Roy? Because 09/09/2009 is a significant date in the story? Feels suspiciously like a publicity stunt deliberately designed to mislead.

But the possible deception is not the worst part of Dam 999. The worst part is that it’s a lousy film. The story set in Kerala is about a couple who’ve been kept apart by astrology. Vinay(Vinay Rai) and Meera(Vimala Raman) have been friends ever since his father Shankaran(Rajit Kapoor) took her into his home as a little girl when she lost her parents. The years pass, they fall in love. But dad – a keen practitioner of both Ayurveda and astrology – matches their horoscopes and arrives at the conclusion that they are incompatible. Vinay does not care, but Meera refuses to defy Shankaran. Years of separation and heartbreak follow, until Vinay returns home to get his diabetic son treated by Shankaran. Also in the picture is Vinay’s estranged wife Sandra, a foreign TV journalist who arrives in town to cover a controversial dam in the area; an unscrupulous local politician (Ashish Vidyarthi)who ignores warnings that the new dam he has built is in a precarious condition; and sundry other characters who are so irrelevant despite the screen time they get, that I don’t want to bother listing them.
The Vinay-Meera romance is the focal point of the film, but neither their love nor the satellite stories add up to much. What on earth is Dam 999 trying to say? Well, there is an attempt to use a dam-on-the-verge-of-bursting as a profound metaphor for the emotional pressure cooker that the lead couple have been living in. It’s all quite wonderfully silly!
The choice of language too is purposeless. Dam 999 is in English with a smattering of Malayalam spoken by a few very minor characters but not by the leads. There is also a Hindi version which I have not watched, but I can tell you that the dialogues in the English original are atrocious. English is certainly not the natural tongue for that milieu – in real life, I’d imagine characters like Vinay, Meera and Shankaran perhaps blending Malayalam and English in equal parts. But even if I were to believe that these people speak only the language of our colonisers with not a touch of Malayalam, I can assure you that no Malayali – in fact, no human being at all – would utter such stodgy, contrived, bookish lines. Instead of telling her husband she wants a kid, a woman says to him one day in bed: What would it feel like to have someone between us? For a moment I thought she was suggesting a threesome! Teehee!
The actors most pathetically served by the dialogue writer are Vimala Raman and Vinay Rai playing Dam 999’s star-crossed lovers. Both do their best with the laughable lines given to them, and deserve National Awards for having kept straight faces throughout. Rai is a very attractive-looking man who is clearly too good for this amateurish film. And Raman, talented though she may be, is amusingly miscast here. You see, Meera is supposed to be a Sardarni, but casting a classical Malayali beauty like Raman as a Punjabi is akin to getting Madhuri Dixit to play a Japanese woman in a film. The actress – a former Miss India Australia – also fails to entirely camouflage her marginally foreign accent. But that faux pas is not one-tenth as entertaining as watching National Award winner Rajit Kapoor tying himself in knots trying to look and sound Malayali. The one who comes off best in Dam 999 is the pretty American actress Linda Arsenio playing Vinay’s wife Sandra. She dashes around town issuing instructions to her TV crew and to local dam experts with an earnestness that belies this film’s stupidity.
At one point in Dam 999, while fobbing off Vinay’s renewed advances, Meera reminds him that every time they’ve tried to express their love for each other, something bad has happened. With all his pretensions to grandeur and philosophising, I wonder if the film maker realises that the regressive message emerging from his film seems to be that we humans must accept what is written in the stars, that those who dare to follow their dreams are doomed!
Films like Dam 999 are the reason why I respect David Dhawan, Rohit Shetty and Anees Bazmee: they don’t promise anything more than they intend to deliver! Misleading an audience is a crime! The Mullaperiyar Dam deserves a better envoy than this damned film!
P.S- I watched the  3D version n now  I’m not sure why, since the disaster sequences in the film are minimal and not particularly impressive and Warner Bros is distributing this film. What were they thinking when they signed up for it?!
Last word: Do not watch it for the dam! Watch it like a normal 2 star entertainer. No more no less..
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Salt n Pepper- A review

It has been about a day since my taste buds fell in love with Aasihiq Abu’s Salt ‘n Pepper and they are yet to get over it. You would see what I’m talking about, when I tell you that I drove around a drowsy city on a Sunday afternoon after the noon show, frantically hoping all the while to hit a food joint somewhere, where I could settle down in some corner, and eat, eat and just eat.

Kalidasan (Lal) is an archaeologist who is equally obsessed with food, and the smell and feel of the past. Maya (Swetha Menon) lives in another corner of the city, and has to put up with a job as a dubbing artiste that she enjoys, but which is often contrary to her beliefs. The two strike up a conversation that doesn’t go too well, after one of Maya’s calls to the local Dosa guy ends up on Kalidasan’s mobile. Hate slowly gives way to affection, but when they decide to finally meet.

However, Kalidasan on the spur of the moment sends over his nephew Manu (Asif Ali) instead. And, Meenakshi (Mythili), Maya’s roommate, volunteers to make an appearance on her behalf.

This is perhaps the first film that I have seen, where an entire audience smacks their lips in anticipation, barely two minutes into it. This is a dream-come-true film for any foodie out there, but even for the others there is no escape from the drool and dribble. Get ready for some real flooding in your mouths, as almost everyone in the film digs into food, and more food.

Having struck up an affinity over the telephone, Kalidasan proceeds to let Maya into the secrets of baking a Joan’s Rainbow Cake. Made by a French soldier’s wife as the Second World War raged on, and as she anxiously waited for her husband’s return home, the sumptuous cake with strawberry, pistachio and orange layers placed one over the other, is topped all over with delicious chocolate sauce. Kalidasan and Maya bake their own versions, and the world around them turns a tad sweeter.

Kalidasan almost undergoes a teleportation, courtesy the Unniappam that proclaims Babu’s (Baburaj) culinary skills. Almost everyone at the beauty parlor that Maya’s house owner (Kalpana) runs, bites into her juicy banana fries with a vengeance. Manu stares at Meenakshi round eyed, with the froth of a hot cappuccino plastered over his upper lip. Balakrishnan (Vijayaraghavan), an officer at an excavation site, explains the impact of a steaming hot tea, after a terribly drunken night. And even the lecherous technician who’s after Maya at work, chews into a drumstick in his Sambar as if there is no tomorrow.

As much as the film is about food that comes in all possible delectable forms, it’s about several other things as well. It’s about the lives of people who love to bite into something scrumptious and lose themselves in the glory of the moment. It’s about people unearthing themselves, and on their route to discovery coming to finally comprehend, what they really want from life.

There is so much to be said, of each of these adorable characters. Maya is a struggler striving to confront her own insecurities, and constantly challenging herself to prove that better days lie ahead. She gets the jitters on a driving test, and eventually does grab the driver’s license. She takes one hard look at herself in the mirror, and tries to come to terms with the fact that men aren’t in love with her any more. And it doesn’t help much, that they are lusting after her instead.

Kalidasan has been busy gorging on anything that he could lay his eyes on, and all on a sudden finds that the ground has turned slippery, as he starts yearning for companionship. He is a Self-doubting Thomas all right, and the salt on his beard isn’t reassuring to him either. There isn’t a flavor that escapes his savory tongue, and yet the tang end essence of human relations remain almost alien to him. Until he meets Maya.

I especially loved the wholehearted, keen servitude that characterizes Babu. Over the years, he has comfortably imposed wifely duties on himself, and is every bit what his employer wants him to be. Moopan (Kelu Moopan) is a silent spectator from another culture, who merely has a toothless grin as an answer to most questions. And who would forget K T Mirash (Ahmed Siddique), the irksome, on-your-back guy who eats into your ears with undecipherable, nonsensical advice, as much as you are trying to vigorously shake him off. Last but certainly not the least, there is the dysfunctional radio in Kalidasan’s retro Premier Padmini, that jumps into life each time the car runs into a ditch. It soon dies out again, but not before playing a song that adds a little bit to the story.

Performances are uniformly splendid, and Lal and Swetha Menon head the lot, with feats that are crisp and quite crunchy. Asif Ali and Mythili whip up some real fresh cream with thick sugar syrup. Baburaj has some real spicy fries in store, that are downright yummy. Ahmed Siddique pours over some steaming soup that’s sweet and sour. And the rest of them see to it that the garnishing is perfect.

Shyju Khalid, with his apron right on spot, has captured perfect frames that make Salt ‘n Pepper, a visual delicacy. Saajan wastes no time, mincing it all up and slices and chops with precision. Bijibal and the rock band Avial have mixed up mint and cinnamon with their musical scores, and the very special ‘Kanamullal Ulneerum’ pours honey over raisins.

Aashiq Abu and his team (that includes the fantastic writers Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair) adhere to the golden rules of good cooking, and see to it that the griddle is all hot, before they gently spread out a light hearted Dosa story on it. The batter is rich and consistently textured with much mirth and laughter and it settles down on the tava, with a sizzling hum. They grease it a bit further with a dollop of emotional butter that melts all over it in no time. Just as the crust turns firm, they flip it over, and let it turn a golden brown on both sides. And once done, roll it over to a swank platter, and serve it piping hot.

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Chappa Kurish- A review

‘Chappa Kurish’ puts the scanner on the strangeness of reality in a busy city in Kerala, that reeks with life. The title means Heads or tails in local dialects here in Cochin. This wrenching and powerful testament on the politics of power that govern human lives, deals with issues that are real, contemporary and quite complex.

Arjun (Fahadh Fazil) is a dashing young businessman on his way to become a corporate magnate. Living in a swank apartment in Cochin, he likes to see the city move beneath his feet. He is engaged to be married to Ann (Roma), and has an affair on the sly with his secretary Sonia (Remya Nambeeshan). One of their clandestine encounters is recorded on Arjun’s mobile phone as he loves watching replays of his own acts and when Sonia threatens to wreck his marriage, he loses the phone in a scuffle. Where it does land, is before Ansari (Vineeth Sreenivasan), a cleaner boy at a local super market, who quickly grabs it and disappears into the crowd.

Arjun is the kind of man who believes that money has earned him everything possible in the world. His gait is self-assured, perhaps a bit too much at that, and he has selectively ousted lesser individuals from his purview. He is used to having people hop around his fingertips, and is a strategic planner who devises his booming career with as much craftiness and care as his life.

Ansari on the other hand is fast getting used to being jostled at, and has learned that it’s a man-eat-man world out there. He engages in a silent battle every day, with him on one side and the affluent world at the other, where he merely puts up a feeble guard and tries to meekly get away. He never gets to sit on a vacant sit on the bus, is shoved around by the bulky supervisor at the workplace, and gets insulted by all and sundry.

Money is thus the last thing on Anasri’s mind, when he hears Arjun at the other end imploring him to hand him back the phone. For the first time, perhaps in his long and miserable life, he listens to someone talk to him with respect. He is neither aware of the possibilities of a blackmail nor interested in striking up a profitable deal. He is merely fascinated by the voice of a human being, who for a change is eager to take his orders.

It’s a long winding chase that Arjun embarks on, since Ansari soon gets intoxicated by the  contentment that he derives from being in charge. The climatic showdown between the two is all the more vicious and bloody, as they literally tear themselves apart, before finally settling down and resignedly going their separate ways.

Thahir’s film has a deliberate thoughtfulness that is evident throughout. The pace is unhurried hence, and Arjun’s breakdown over the given time frame is complete. There are no jerks and jumps in the narrative, and the buildup is terrific. And yet it remains that perhaps ‘Chappa Kurish’ could have made a crisper film with a shorter running time.

There seem to be ideational similarities between Chappa Kurish and the Korean film Handphone (2009) directed by Kim Han-Min. But the director has pumped in some fresh blood into his characters, and planting them meticulously in the local milieu. Despite all the dark shades of life that the film basks itself in, I found the optimism in it absolutely endearing. People in it do not live in their mistakes for their entire lives; they courageously decide to move on.

The riveting performances of the three lead actors in the film see to it that the blows and bangs that it delivers are right on place. We have seen actors reinventing themselves, but Fahadh literally stuns us with a compelling feat that is easily one of the best leading performances that I have seen in recent times.

Vineeth is a perfect foil, and if you feel he lets himself be outshined by Fahadh, you should realize what an amazing actor he is. And of course, there is the gorgeous Remya for whom I hope there is no looking back hereafter. Three brilliant actors of the new generation, who are here to stay. This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two other names as well; the awesome background score composed by Rex Vijayan and Jomon T John, the man who has workded wonders with his camera. The songs and background scores are in sync with the movie and fits perfectly.

‘Chappa Kurish’ is a simple film that is deeply moving, persistent, and eye-opening that tells a story that is undeniably grim. It’s a brave and genuinely heartfelt directorial effort from a young director, who has clearly won the toss this time around.