Monday, July 26, 2010

Khatta Meetha (2010 - Hindi) and Vellanakalude Nadu (1988 Malayalam)

    I hadn't gone to see a Hindi movie in a while and Khatta Meetha, director Priyadarshan's remake of his 1988 Malayalam hit Vellanakalude Nadu, was SI Heroine Trisha's Bollywood debut.  My daughter had been complaining she missed Bollywood after so many Telugu films, and it had Trisha. So we went.   I don't really want to get into comparing every Bollywood film I watch with Southies (I don't think its fair, they have become so different) but this had so many SI elements and it being a remake of a Malayalam film I might as well do the comparison. Afterwards, I watched Vellanakalude Nadu to see what Priyadarshan's original vision for the film was. It would be my first Malayalam and obviously my first Mohanlal film.

  I really love Trisha best in comedic roles like NVND and Athadu, and I have enjoyed most of Priyadarshan's collaborations with Akshay Kumar.  Judging from the trailers I was fairly confident we were in for a silly 3 hours.

First of all it wasn't bad, but I don't see it being a hit. It was not a silly comedy but more a dark satire, so I think the advertiseing for it would set people up with a different expectation at the outset. Especially if they were like me,  unfamiliar with the original going in.

Good points:

Akshay did pretty well. He played his role as a corrupt, down on his luck road Contractor fairly strait. More silly and angry rather than silly and stupid like his last few comedies.

Rajpal Yadev: Very funny as one of the construction workers. My favorite charactor in the film. The scenes he was in were the highlight of the movie for me.

The funniest scene involved an elephant, a road roller, Johnny Lever (he's baaack!) and a house.

 I have gotten so used to the pacing and format of Tollywood hero movies that it seemed like forever before the first song came on. Of the four (only four?!) songs, I like the picturization of Sajde (not much dancing but the setting and clothes were beautiful) and the fun Item Number Aila re Aila the best. 


Aile re Aile

Note to Producers : Judging from the audience responses on the First Day First Show video posted on BollywoodHungama, don't have the song rolling over the credits be called "Bullshit" as its the last thing people hear before being asked  about the movie.

Setting and sets were good. Some of the shots of the towns streets looked like the same set used in a few scenes from Love Aaj kal.

I didn't find it to be a very funny movie except the elephant scene and some of the ones with Rajpal Yadev.  Some fairly serious things happen in the movie, so light and fun it's not.

There were many dialogs and speeches about corruption in the bureaucracy and how Akshay's charactor was corrupt because its the only way to get things done.

Trisha plays a former girlfriend (they broke up because Akshay punched her (closed fist, not slap like in SI films, not saying ones better than the other but this one seemed more brutal not OTT). Priyadarshan really missed an opportunity with Trisha, they never had her smile except during songs, she was not in any of the comedy scenes, so the opportunity for audiences to see her at her best (cute, bubbly and funny) didn't happen.

I didn't see any chemistry between Akshay and Trisha. When they revealed that they were in love before, I was surprised, never would have guessed it. Most of the movie they were fighting, so there could have been some dialog or physicality that would reveal a romantic past or sexual tension but there was none. Arguments were all played as corrupt contractor versus bureaucrat- nothing personal.

I know that there is a lot that goes into deciding what films to do. Priyadarshan and Akshay usually equals a hit film, but there was really nothing in this particular role for Trisha to show off what she can do. I hope she gets the opportunity to do another Hindi film and chooses a role where she can really shine.

There were parts of this movie that could have been better if they were Tollyized ( I just made that up!)

First of all Akshay needed a moustache, chest hair and a dhoti.

There was plenty of opportunity for revenge, for example:

Akshay's Sister gets married off to the SI equivalent of a political rowdy. When she is killed after being essentially prostituted out by her husband,  Akshay doesn't have the typical Hero  reaction. He steals evidence of corruption from B-I-L,  gets chased and sort of beats up B-I-L (mostly swinging bag of evidence around and wildly kicking) but no REYYYY! no going crazy with grief and no OTT violent revenge. The B-I-L does get justice so to speak but not at Akshay's hands, so much less satisfying in my opinion.

There is a machete attack but on a secondary charactor and unlike a Tollywood film, the hero, Akshay is unable to stop it, just runs after the bus yelling.

My daughter pointed out that the interval didn't come at a cliff hanger like we are used to in Southies now. It stopped at half way without thought to the scene. At least that's how it seemed to me.

After watching Vellanakalude Nadu, I realized I was being unfair for  wanting it to be more like a Tollywood film since the Malayalam film wasn't like a Tollywood film either. Ex: Evil Brother in Law does not die in a revenge filled bloodbath but gets tried in court and thrown in jail!! This is my first Malayalam film and my first with Mohanlal.  Because I have so little knowledge and experience with these kinds of films I do not feel capable of trully judging whether the satire worked or not. It was a critical and commercial success, but I have to say I found KM to be much funnier.

Khatta Meetha was almost identical as far as setting, charactor and plot points but with some major changes in tone. Vellanakalude Nadu was much more of a satirical melodrama. There was only one song, a love song picturised on Mohanlal and his girlfriend played by Shobhana. The background music was heavily orchestrated with stringed instruments giving the whole movie a melodramatic soap opera feel. 

Priyadarshan clearly wanted to ramp up the comedy in KM, he did this by adding more slapstick to the Elephant and road roller scene and adding additional slapstick scenes to the interactions of Akshay and his construction crew. Mohanlal's performance was much more subtle, plus he had a moustache and he was rocking the dhoti.

Now that's a moustache!


  1. Good review - interesting to hear your take, and really like the comparison. We don't have this in Melbourne yet, and I can't decide if I want to go or not when it does arrive. I really don't like Akshay in comedy - but if it's darker, I might. I do like Trisha, but it does sound as if she didn't get enough scope in this film. All that plus Johnny Lever makes me think I may just give it a miss.
    But based on what you said VN sounds as if it could be worth a look :) The only Malayalam/Hindi comparison I have is for Manichitrathazhu which IMO was much better than Bhool Bhulaiyaa

  2. Thanks for your comments. It's pretty unevenly paced so its a bit of a jarring ride from dark to slapstick. VN is much more evenly paced and the comedy is dialed way way down. Mohanlal was a hottie back in the day. I found it fairly easily in the usual places online.


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