Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Music & Lyrics / Anukokunda Oka Roju

Music & Lyrics

Hollywood romantic comedies are completely predictable. Boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love and sleep together; they have a fight; boy and/or girl realize they still love each other and get back together to live happily ever after. So how much I like a movie in this genre depends solely on the leads (the heroine more than the hero) and the script. Music & Lyrics, with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, scores on both the above aspects and so ends up as one of those rare romantic comedies that I like.

Hugh Grant plays a singer from a popular band from the 80s, who is now performing at theme parks and other public events. He gets the chance to write a song for Cora, the hottest singer/dancer now but is unable to come up with even one good line, let along an entire song. Drew Barrymore first arrives to water his plants but he spots her talent at writing songs and together the two manage to finish the song and give it to Cora. But how their song is eventually performed by Cora leads to a misunderstanding between them.

Barrymore is incredibly cute and she turns on the charm effortlessly here. Her lack of self-confidence adds a dash of vulnerability to her character and the result is a completely loveable character. Ofcourse, Hugh Grant’s contribution cannot be treated lightly. He has great comic timing and with his usual disarming style, is able to turn even ordinary lines into something funny. They have great chemistry and their conversations are a pleasure.

Ofcourse, the leads can't completely carry a movie, as was proved by movies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which I hated inspite of the effervescent Kate Hudson. M & L follows the storyline I mentioned in the first paragraph to a T but because of a good script and sentiments that never go over the top, it succeeds in being entertaining. There are a number of clever and witty lines, especially from Hugh Grant. The couple's fight when it comes arises from something meaningful and so is not a silly contrivance that could’ve been solved by the two them simply talking. And the way they patch up is somewhat unexpected and involves a song with some hilarious lyrics.


Anukokunda Oka Roju

Recommended very highly by a friend, Anukokunda Oka Roju turned out to be a great thriller. With a lean, well-paced screenplay, good performances and assured direction, it is a very accomplished, satisfying film in a genre that cannot boast of many such entries.

Charmi plays a chorus singer who is waiting for that one big break. When her family goes out of town for 3 days, her friend takes her to a rather wild party where drinks and drugs flow freely. Charmi though keeps away from all that and we next see her wake up the next morning thinking life will go on as usual. But what happens after that brings into question what happened to her at the party and after.

AOR is constructed in a way that all thrillers should be and resembles a jigzaw puzzle - and a very addictive one at that. It first reveals in small fragments that Charmi didn't exactly have an uneventful night and we are with her as she struggles to find out what happened (it reminded me of Memento in the way it is constructed and in its MO of keeping us as much in the dark as its protagonists). We are constantly kept in a state of curiosity about Charmi's actions that night and can't wait to find out what happens next. So the film takes us along effortlessly. As things are eventually revealed, there is the pleasure of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place and not in the way we expect either.

The final(and biggest) piece of the puzzle evokes mixed feelings. One one hand, it is something out of the blue and so doesn't give us the satisfaction of a twist or a surprise, which is what we expect after sustained suspense at such a high level. On the other hand, it definitely isn't expected and so has the element of surprise. The film goes on a completely unexpected and different track and leads to some moments that are very tense (which is all the more remarkable since we know the outcome of those scenes already).

The director manages to deftly inject some humor into the proceedings too. There are a couple of laugh-out-loud moments in the most unexpected of places and because of where they occur, they don't damage the movie's pace either. Songs don't feel awkwardly inserted and are picturized well. Charmi looks simple and cute and manages to bring out the frustration of her character. Jagapathi Babu plays his role casually and has some funny lines.


At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aah.. Balaji liking two films in a row and writing pleasant and approving reviews for them.. what a fulfilling feeling it is to read this!

Will this ever happen with tamil movies? How long has it been since you saw two good tamil movies back to back? Not a surprise that you watched an English & Telugu movie back to back and liked them, I suppose! :-)

Not a huge fan of Hugh (still liked 4 weddings & Notting Hill though) or Drew.. but I should give Charmi potfuls of credit for loosing oodles of weight and spending extra time with her makeup artist. She looks much better than when she started with Simbu back in "Kaadhal Azhivadhillai"..

At 1:10 AM, Blogger narayanan said...

BB rather watched pick-out movies than back-to-back released movies. Am pretty sure you wont find many such incidences reviewing back-to-back Telugu or English movies.

I do remember seeing a positive review pair for Ong-Bak and Thanmatra as well.

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Anukokunda Oka Roju released in July 2005.
//Will this ever happen with tamil movies? How long has it been since you saw two good tamil movies back to back?//
How about Mozhi and Paruthiveeran? Ofcourse,such things happen rarely.
Well Balaji,it's the best 'straight Telugu film' you've watched.(Considering that you've watched classics like Sagara Sangamam,Khsana Khsanam in dubbed version.)
This director's first venture 'Aithe' is even more better than AOR.(He even received a National Award.)Check it!

At 2:04 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

I remember that once 3 good Telugu movies were released in the same week(In 2000).But after that came a series of 'inane movies'.
Just as our BalajiB had to face inane movies like Vyabari after 3 consec. good/very good Tamil movies!(i.e.PKM,Paruthiveeran and Mozhi.)

At 5:32 AM, Blogger anantha said...

Guess Ganesh gave you the scoop before me. Do check out Aithe as well.

At 6:18 AM, Blogger VThinkTank said...

Wonder why those movies were not remade in tamil. Seems like they would fit into the scheme of medium budget films in tamil. I am going to check out AOR and Aithe.

On a totally unrelated note, what do you all think about the controversy surrounding Maran and his Thatha. Do you think it will have a big impact on SUN TV?

Pardon Moi, if you think I asked an inappropriate question.

Nanri Vanakum

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was there a Hindi remake of AOR? I read about it somewhere. Does anyone know, just curious.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger VThinkTank said...

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Yes,anon,you're right.Heard Bhumika is the heroine.Read it here:

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Balaji,Read my new blogpost here:
Do write a comment.Bye!

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you liked Music and Lyrics, you are bound to like the recent french movie, Priceless. It doesn't boast of a very clever plot but is such a charming and unpretentious movie. I hope you you review it.


At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

am dying to watch music & lyrics after reading ur review...somehow missed it when it was out in the theatres...
I love drew barrymore as well as hugh grant...both are pitch perfect for movies that offer a blend of comedy and drama...
yep, i do agree with u on the importance of stars and their charm for romantic comedies to work...
a witty script helps! in that respect, i absolutely love "about a boy" *-ing hugh grant. have u guys seen that movie?

the other telugu movie u wrote abt...dont think i've ever watched a telugu movie save geethanjali! think i'll leave my telugu movie-going experience with just that one movie on my 'resume!'

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Groundhog day is the kind of film I would want to watch in the romantic comedy genre. Most of these Hugh Grant Sandra Bullock films turn out to be more of the same.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good thriller seem to be a rarity in Tamil. I dont remember the last time I saw one. I can still watch portions of Poovizhi vaasalile, a good mix of emotional drama and thriller. Much of what is being offered recently however is wannabe Hollywood trash, churned out by directors who think they are Hollywood-material just because they happen to be the quickest to lay their hands on the original DVD.
Although Evano Oruvan sounds like a ripoff too, lets see if the director has done something with the original material.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I franly think AOR deserved a much better review, especially from you, BB. It is one of the best original attempts in Telugu I have seen so far (and I do watch a lot of Telugu movies). And, I liked it much better than the National-award winning Aithe (which was remade as a sloppy Naam in Tamil), just because AOR was smooth, glitchless and had excellent character sketches. You should also check out Godavari if you can: a feel-good, time-pass movie.

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You thought "Naam" was sloppy, Anu? Surely, I'd agree that it was no masterpiece, but definitely not a sloppy film. Paavam Prakashraj. It was one of his finer productions that went into oblivion, thanks to the lack of star power in the film.

Personally, whatever I can remember of it (which is not too much, even after I went and read Balaji's review of the film in his reviews site!), it wasn't as boring or badly made for it to be berated (at least, I don't think so! :-)

But, if you said it was 'sloppy' in relation to the original 'Aithe'.. that I can't defend, obviously because I haven't seen Aithe. On its own, Naam can honestly hold its own compared to many films that released at that time (and even now in 2007!).

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sandya, narayanan is right. when it comes to non-tamil movies, i pick only movies i've heard good things about or movies i really wanna watch. and i only write about some of them. so the probability that u'd see +ve reviews for non-tamil, dvd movies on here is pretty high :)

ganesh/anantha, i watched 'naam', the tamil remake of 'aithe' (didn't know it was a remake at that time though). very original and one of the best twists i've ever come across. but the 2nd half was a letdown.

venkat, 'aithe' was made in tamil but not AOR. as u said, it would make a good low-budget film. would need a good director though.

gayatri, i try to space my romantic comedies and so it might be a while b4 i see my next. but will add it to my queue :)

ram, yes. that was another romantic comedy i liked (not surprisingly, it had rachel weisz, who i like!). remember feeling it was a bit too long though.

and since u r a movie-lover, i think u should expand ur horizons and c more telugu movies too :)

vijay, 'groundhog day' was a true classic. i never get bored of that one. i'd day M&L is a pretty average movie made above-average by its leads :)

i guess pure thrillers r hard to come by in Tamil. but movies that mixed thrills with other elements - i guess 'aasai', 'vaali' and 'puriyadha pudhir' would fall into that category?

anu, "a much better review"? by better do u mean longer, more detailed? cos if u mean a more +ve review, i'm not sure i can be more +ve than what i wrote :) i said was "very accomplished and satisfying" and compared it to 'memento', one of my favorite hollywood thrillers. can't ask for more than that! my disappointment came with the lack of a surprise twist in the climax. but as i said, that had its positives too :)

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

I've seen many of Lollu Sabha's videos in Orkut,but the best is Bakery(Pokkri) and Onion(Anniyan). Just that the director should not have inserted the 'over scenes' like audience sleeping while song moves on and frequently commenting on Vijay's lack of vareity.
//You should also check out Godavari if you can.A feel-good, time-pass movie.//
Balaji,you need not see Godavari. It's appreciated for the same reason why Unnale Unnale is being praised.(I mean this film too is non-violent and '0' obscenity. Storywise,it's like a 'mega-serial'(Just that here Godavari is the backdrop,while Australia is the backdrop in UU.)
Anyway,Anand is good.
Regarding Aithe,the director was 'inspired' by the big ransom that was laid on Osama's head,post 9/11 attacks.

At 1:22 AM, Blogger narayanan said...

I think 'Kan Simittum Neram' is one thriller I remember in Tamil that had the least disturbances. Adhe Kangal, Andha Naal are good thrillers too, though the latter is rather easy to guess.

I was recommended 'Gayathri', a 1977 Rajini starrer. Dont really know how it is.

If you havent already seen, I recommend adding Gumnaam (1965) to your list. Its one of the early day thrillers in Hindi.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first half of AOR seemed pretty long... it takes a while to get to the meat of the plot. But, after that, yes it was a satisfying watch. I think, in the same genre, Aithe and Nandanavanam 120km were better movies than AOR.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

enna ithu no thamizh movies? thamizhachi reththam pongi ezhugirathu :-)

Of late, I have been tempted to restart watching telugu movies. Godavari was a great movie. Nothing special, but beautiful. Will add this to the to be seen roster.

At 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review there, Balaji. I am late here and many have already suggested "Aithe" as a film to watch out for in the suspense/thriller genre.

if you are interested in this genre then I would say you must watch Neelakanta's Show, Bhoomika's starrerMissamma ,Nandanavanam 120 kms.
P.S: All these are Telugu movies


At 2:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And by the way did you watch Bommarillu?? Its a really good movie and would love to read your review


At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji, awesome recommendation of Anokokunda Oka Rozu! Your review stuck somewhere in the back of my mind and months later, I managed to get the dvd & watch the film this weekend with my husband (he understands telugu and I dont, but we enjoyed it as much as the oth).

What a taut screen play with excellent editing, production values and music. I loved the humor and had to constantly rewind when laffter wud get in the way of the next scene.

I really hope they remake this one in Tamil/hindi and do nothing to change anything in the movie!
Thanks for recommending this one.


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