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Slum King Millionaire

Film: Kaala

Cast: Rajnikant, Huma Qureshi, Nana Patekar, Anjali Patil

Directed by: Pa Ranjith

Duration: 2 hr 47 mins

Rating: * * 1 / 2

As it has been for a while now, the release of a Rajnikant film is nothing short of a major event, sending fans in a tizzy, like only the superstar can. After a couple of ordinary outings with Kabali (2016), Lingaa (2014), and the motion capture Kochadaiiyan (2014) his last big hit was Enthiran back in 2010. Kaala may not quite emulate that Shankar film but it should please his fans more than the last three films.

But this film, directed by Pa Ranjith doesn’t have anything novel to offer. Rajni sir still plays the messiah of the poor and no one dare say or do anything unless they want to unleash the Kraken. Effectively, what we have is the same old – the only thing different here is the setting.

Set in slums of Dharavi, he plays Kaala, the most revered and feared gent in the locality. Those who have no business in Dharavi fear him and those who live there, respect him – because of his muscle power and a kind heart – Thalaiva has to be a combination of both, that is non-negotiable. In one scene, the land grabbing villain played by Nana Patekar finds himself in a problem that is worse than entering Hotel California – neither can he check out, nor can he leave.

The land in Dharavi is the bone of contention – a builder in connivance with the local rabble rousing politician Harinath (Patekar) wants the residents to vacate the place for one of those fancy projects. Kaala’s own sons are at two ends of the spectrum – Lenin (Manikandan) is an activist who wants to change the system with his friend (Anjali Patil, feisty) while Selva (Thileeban) believes that the hammer is mightier than the pen. The setup sounds fantastic for a clash of ideals but most of it is dealt with in an artificial manner.

Add to it, there are some unresolved personal issues as well as Kaala has to deal with – Zarina (Huma Qureshi, with the odd strand of white hair) his ex-girlfriend has come back to town after studying the Favelas in Brazil. This causes severe consternation to his wife (Easwari) and considerable time is devoted to three of them.

It takes a long time before we get to the climax as unresolved matters are sorted before we come to the show down.

With top production values, there are some scenes which are impressively crafted – an umbrella fight is superbly choreographed and ditto with the colourful finale and the scenes which have both Nana Patekar and Rajnikant in the same frame. That umbrella though could put Hattori Hanzo’s samurai swords to shame.

Clocking at almost three hours, the film goes on and on like an energiser bunny – the fans may want more but the average audience could do without it.


Walk in the Park

Film: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt

Directed by:  J.A. Bayona

Duration: 2 hrs 5 mins

Rating: * * * 1 / 2

25 years ago, Steven Spielberg gave us Jurassic Park, a superlative entertainer that had some very special effects and was a ground thumping film, in more ways than one. After three Jurassic Park films, came Jurassic World in 2015 and this is the sequel to it and fifth in the series.

With so much already been said and shown, there is little scope to be innovative with dinosaurs but yet, to its credit, Fallen Kingdom knows the limitations, sticks to the basics and does a pretty decent job of it. It pays a tribute to some of the iconic scenes from the original – we even see the famous rear view mirror and the camera focuses on “Objects in the rear view mirror appear closer than they are.”

Bryce Dallas Howards returns as Claire Dearing who is invited by a millionaire named Lockwood who was a partner with John Hammond before they parted ways. Aged and sick, he wants to save the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar which is under the threat of a volcano which might lead to the decimation of the creatures who were brought back to life after extinction. Since she is a dinosaur rights activist, the old man thinks she is the right person for the job to save and brings back as many of them as possible from the doomed island.

She needs help and the film needs a hero – enter Owen (Chris Pratt) who is looking forward to an early retirement by building a cabin in the woods. He is the raptor specialist who can also communicate with them, like a whisperer.

Since the volcano is spewing lava like how many paan lovers spit the green leaf concoction, they have their task cut out for them. Also, they come to know of the sinister plan – this save-the- dinosaur is not exactly a good will gesture. They are to be brought home with a bigger purpose which is far from moral or legal.

The Velociraptor named Blue with whom Owen shares a special bond is one of the targets for the bad guys – his IQ is on the higher side and that is of particular interest to a bunch of scientists working overtime to turn the dinosaurs into killing machines. There is also a scene where they are caged, tortured and auctioned to the highest bidder.

Part of the film which is set in the island is fast-paced and has some thrilling moments – like the volcano explosion with everyone running for cover. Jeff Goldblum shows up at a senate hearing and though it is just a cameo here, one expects he will be back in the third instalment of Jurassic World.

All in all, Fallen Kingdom is fun while it lasts.


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