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General News Film Reviews
#51
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Pulimurugan - Review

Don’t miss this Mohanlal thriller

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While actors of his age are struggling to find the right script and give a hit film, Mohanlal has been redefining his position in the industry with every film.

Cast: Mohanlal, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Jagapathi Babu
Director: Vysakh

Not for nothing he is called ‘a complete actor’. While actors of his age are struggling to find the right script and give a hit film, Mohanlal has been redefining his position in the industry with every film.

It is worth noticing, how flexible is Mohalal in selecting movies. Unlike his peers, he doesn’t remain within the confines of his hard-earned stardom. He constantly pushes the boundaries. For instance, he plays Godfathersque roles in Jilla and Janatha Garage, and lets younger actors to do most of the fighting. And in films like Pulimurugan he does stunts that can give the young actors a run for their money.

First things first, Pulimurugan has lived up to all the expectations. Director Vyshakh has given big hits and some flops, but the new Mohanlal-starrer will be the major highlight of his filmmaking career.

Vyshakh, indeed, knows how to exploit Mohanlal’s stardom to hilt. The film has a number of scenes specially designed to enthrall the actor’s fans and make them burst into cheers, claps and whistles.

The issue of man-animal conflict lies at the heart of Pulimurugan. It is a simple movie that basically aims to entertain the audience. The movie does not dwell too much on the man-animal conflict and discusses what is right or what is wrong.

The story is set in the fictional village called ‘Pulioore’ that share the land with the forest and is prone to attacks from wild animals. Whenever a stray tiger wanders into human habitats and starts killing people, the village turns to Pulimurugan. He is a pro in searching, finding and hunting down a tiger. There is a backstory as to why he started hunting tigers. Pulimurugan’s father got mauled by a tiger in front of his eyes when he was a boy. Later, with the help of his uncle, he kills the man-eating tiger that took his father’s life and continues to do so as a service to his village.

The tiger hunting scenes are brilliantly done and are the best part of this action-adventure. A lot of research and effort have clearly gone into making these scenes and the results outstanding. The high-voltage action is another highlight of the film, courtesy Peter Hein, who has been pushing the envelope in stunt choreography in the country.

The film’s screenplay, which is also the first independent work of Udayakrishna of Udaykrishna-Sibi K Thomas duo is tight and engaging. The human’s fight for territory between themselves and with animals forms the basic premise of the story.

Kamalinee Mukherjee has done justice to her role as a grumpy and nagging housewife. Lal, who plays Pulimurugan’s uncle, is impressive. Besides providing emotional and moral support to Pulimurugan, he also brings comic relief in the film.

There is not enough scope for Tollywood actor Jagapathi Babu to showcase his acting skills in the film. He plays a regular villain, who provokes the humble hero only to be killed at his hands soon. Pulimurugan also marks his debut in Malayalam film.


The background music by Gopi Sundar enhances the cinematic experience, especially in the scenes involving tigers. The breathtaking visuals captured by cinematographer Shaji Kumar are a plus for the film.

Overall, Pulimurugan provides a thrilling experience and it is the movie you should not miss this week.

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#52
Thoppil Joppan - Movie review

Mammootty shines in this comedy film

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Mammootty pulls off a range of emotions, from comedic, to mischievous, to heartfelt, without breaking a sweat.

Cast: Mammootty, Andrea Jeremiah, Mamta Mohandas
Director: Johny Antony

While reviewing the first teaser of Thoppil Joppan, we suggested that the new Mammootty-starrer won’t be a disaster like his previous films. Thoppil Joppan, directed by Johny Antony, brings out the actor’s versatility in pulling off a range of emotions, from comedic, to mischievous, to heartfelt, without breaking a sweat.

Almost 30 minutes into the film, I realised that I have been grinning widely and frequently breaking into a laugh. And this continued till the end of the film. The film’s unique selling point was Mammootty reprises the role of an achayan after a long time.

For those who are unaware, achayan is a colloquial expression for male members of the Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala, especially in Kottayam. And Mammootty thrives on such roles. He had played an achayan in super hit films like ‘Kottayam Kunjachan’, ‘Nasrani’ and ‘Kizhakkan Pathrose.’

The story revolves around Joppan and his failures in love at different stages of his life. He first falls in love when he was a teenager with Annie, played by Andrea. When his father slaps him and orders him to quit romancing until he has a job and earns money. A young Joppan runs away from the home determined to return as a rich man. And he asks Annie to wait for him. And he comes back to his village with all the money he made from ‘smuggling’ in Mumbai only to find out the love of his life is getting married to some other man. He turns to alcohol for solace and soon becomes a chronic drinker. He is the head of a pack that lives only to drink alcohol.

But, his first love failure was not the end but the beginning. He meets another girl. Right when he thinks he has found love again in his life, it gets snatched away from him. Again he finds a new hope. And it soon turns into ashes.

Yes, achayan is a drunkard, but has a heart of gold. So much so that he even helps the girl he loves to elope with her lover. Gosh, that must hurt. That’s not all. He goes through a series of heartbreaks, amid his predetermined every day drinking session, messing with cops, winning Kabbadi tournaments and doing social service.

The most striking part of this comedy film is, except for Joppan and friends, other characters are very practical. Characters that are not controlled by their emotions and know how to let go of things when needed.

And the film deals with consequences suffered by the hero from heartbreaks and alcohol, which is clearly suggested in the film’s tagline that reads: “50% Love, 50% Alcohol.”

Besides all the jokes and fun, Thoppil Joppan also delivers a strong social message. The bad consequences of habitual drinking, is effectively explained through a touching story of a small girl, which also influences the life of Joppan.

While Mamtha Mohandas plays a bubbly young girl, who openly flirts with achayan and adds to film’s comedy, Andrea is convincing in her role as a hapless woman, for whom the life has been mostly unfair.

It is worth mentioning, Salim Kumar’s role as Father Isaac Vaalambarambil, who runs the church to rehabilitate people with problems of drinking and smoking. His brief but solid performance leaves a mark on the screen.


And the filmmakers should be appreciated for not hindering the flow of the story by forcefully injecting songs. The music is used as a tool to progress the film and the characters. Vidyasagar’s music is a plus, especially the title track.

Mammootty’s Thoppil Joppan is a good time pass movie with a strong social message.

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#53
Beiimaan Love - Movie Review


An unknown actor who plays an important character in this unintentional farce stares hard at Sunny Leone across the table in the boardroom.

"What do you want from me?" she asks imperiously.

Well, what do men want from Sunny Leone? Not a dramatic performance as a leading lady for sure.

Rajniesh plays an arrogant self-important egocentric casanova who thinks every woman he wants in bed will oblige. Then, he falls in love.

This is where the plot caves in completely. Unable to handle the complexities of a drama where the disgruntled become the perpetrators of wrongdoing, "Beiimaan Love" is like a tune written over lyrics that never made sense to anyone, not even the 'poet' who wrote it.

The film, if we may call it that for the want of a better description, is filled with ridiculous dialogues and situations that desire to make the heroine look sympathetic.

Sunny plays Sunaina, a ruthlessly ambitious woman who infiltrates a tycoon's organisation and usurps his everything, besotted son included. Just how a character so inured in scheming and self-interest can be endowed with empathetic shades is a miracle that this film's writers try to achieve. They are braver than us, the viewers.

While they think of ways to make Sunaina look saintly -- and that includes a mother with a past who commits suicide -- the situations in the plot and the dialogues get progressively absurd.

In one sequence, Rajniesh sends carnations to Sunny on her birthday.

"Are they for me?" she asks.

No, they are for the people who thought of making yet another Sunny-centric revenge saga that looks, sounds and smells so ancient, you can actually hear the wheels of time turning in the background. The bungalow that serves as Rajniesh's mansion is one where innumerable Hindi films were shot in the 1990s.

Then there is the girl who plays Rajniesh's fiancee. A girl with the morals of an alley-cat being thrust upon him for business purposes. There is apocalyptic moment in a hotel room where Rajniesh sees his fiancee with a stranger. Instead of acting shocked, Rajniesh smirks.

Our feelings, exactly.

This isn't nostalgia. It is plainly lazy filmmaking. The prize for the most ludicrous performance of the century goes to Daniel Weber who plays Sunny's not-so-secret admirer.

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#54
Anna - Kisan Baburao Hazare movie review

Like the man himself, Anna Hazare's biopic means well


Serving the cause of cinema may not be as vital and crucial as serving the nation. However, making a film on the selflessly altruistic life of Anna Hazare, the saintly ascetic man who singlehandedly took on the task of eradicating corruptiona -- and failed -- seems like a task as daunting as nation-building.

Writer-director Shashank Udapurkar must be lauded in no uncertain terms for taking on the uphill task of telling the story so gripped and cramped by socio-political complexities that even Richard Attenborough would have been stumped as to where to begin the task of unravelling the life of a man who went from farmer to national leader without losing his innocence.

The narrative keeps it simple, austere and stripped down. Almost like Anna Hazare himself. There is a certain sincerity of purpose that Anna embodies in his persona. The film assumes a similar role of transparency in bringing to us various vital incidents and anecdotes that shaped the destiny of the man who could have been King but chose anonymity.

The tone is as blunt as a Doordarshan documentary. And that is not an undesirable format to assume, provided the storyteller can pick out moments of revelation from the documentation.

One could argue sternly against the cult of anointment that elevates figures in a biopic to a demi-god. We recently saw Dhoni being extolled to the point where all his (self-confessed) flaws were swept away in a tidal wave of encomium. "Anna" is even more eulogistic in tone. If at all the saintly man's weaknesses show up in the narrative, it is to underscore his ultimate moral supremacy.

I sorely missed seeing the human being behind the haloed surface. But then I realized that Udapurkar made the film not to humanize Hazare, but as a fan-boy eager to share his hero-worship with the world.

In that endeavour, "Anna" strikes gold. Very often the narrative assumes the personality of a mythological. We see Udapurkar as Anna posturing in pauranic positions that project him as demi-god. Expectantly, the other characters, including fellow politicians, are reduced to shadowy figures basking the glorious radiance of the king-maker's humility and benevolence. Capable actors like Govind Nmadeo, Kishore Kadam and Rajit Kapur portray sketchy parts.

There is not doubt as to who endows an epicenter to extolling excursion. Either it's Anna on screen or other actors talking about him.

As an actor, Udapurkar is reasonably convincing, even as he seems immeasurably convinced of his proximity to the man whom he so nakedly idolizes.

Yes, "Anna" is a two-hour paean to the humble visionary who could have changed the shape and destiny of our politics if only he had not allowed power-politics to be transferred to people around him.

Udapurkar could have taken the biopic to frontiers far beyond Anna Hazare's public mage. Instead, Udapurkar elects to portray his idol in calendar-art shades. That is an approach not unknown in biopics.

Laudatory and hero-worshipful, "Anna" gives us a vivid broad-stroke look into the life of a man who swept into Indian politics with a hope for change. Alas, Anna was short-changed. The film blessedly manages to stay above the breast-beating of betrayal.

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#55
Motu Patlu - King of Kings movie review

Desi animation film that kids, grown-ups can enjoy


It gladdens the heart to see a competent well made animation film from an Indian production house. And full marks to Ketan and Deepa Mehta and their visual effects studio for putting together a children's animation film with a strong yet supple message that's acceptable to both kids and grown-ups.

'Motu Patlu' is based on the well loved animation characters.

The two friends Motu and Patlu (described rather blatantly by their physicality but drawn with personality strokes that are far more subtle than the name-calling suggests), this time befriend a lovable but lazy and somewhat cowardly circus lion (actor Vinay Pathak gives endearing voice to the lion), who longs to escape and live a free life.

But wait. Life for our four-legged friends is not so simple. Writer-director Suhad D Kadav throws in the complications without cluttering the quaint canvas with unnecessary socio-ecological sermonizing.

Yes, there are some strategically positioned comments on deforestation and animal extinction. But none of this is done in the spirit of preaching. The fun element is predominant as our circus-bred lion-hero is coaxed into abandoning his innate timidness to emerge a true lionheart.

The scenes are written in playfully bantering style. The dialogues are colloquial and crisp and spoken in a simple yet intelligent language that is dexterously communicable to both the young and the older audience.

The script very cleverly uses tropes and stock characters from age-old conventions of commercial cinema and transforms them into some kind of virtual magical emblems of continuity and change amidst terrifying warnings of destruction. The villain who likes to remind us that he is not zero but a hero, is accompanied by a moll named Monica who spends all her time in the wildlife sanctuary swatting mosquitoes.

Midway through the amiable briskly trotting narrative, the lion-hero gets a double role and the animation scenes get progressively ambitious. The film's canvas is grand in its own right. The climactic battle between the villain and the jungle animals skillfully eschews violence and embraces that feeling of fun underlining the sombre context of presentation.

"Motu Patlu" remains confidently in the ambit of non-adult entertainment. While engaging children's attention with genuinely served up homilies and incidents, the narrative never gets down to pontifying or talking down to children.

No small achievement for children's cinema in our country.

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#56
31st October - Genuine effort wasted


MUMBAI: Rather late in the day, 31stOctober is a film about the Sikh genocide of 1984 in Delhi in the aftermath of assassination of the then prime minister of India Indira Gandhi. She was killed by her security guards, who happened to be Sikh. That assassination, again, is attributed to the anger of the Sikh community following an army operation in the precincts of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It has been 31 years since the episode and the relevance of this film and, what it wants to convey would make sense to few if any.

It is pre-October 31-1984 Delhi (mainly East Delhi as depicted in the film) where things are normal. People are going about doing their business, there is bonhomie. There never was a feeling of a divide between Hindu and Sikh, neither the issue nor a reason to think of them as different persons or of community was considered.

Vir Das is shown as a simple family-loving Sikh working for a government enterprise and has Soha Ali Khan as his wife and three children making up his family. He is a sincere worker and is much respected by his colleagues as well as friends.

It is another day at work and Vir is on his desk. But, unknown to him, things seem to have changed suddenly as even the office peon fails to respond to his calls, and there is an eerie silence around him. As he soon finds out, the whole office has gathered around a transistor radio; the news is not good. PM Indira Gandhi has been shot.

Suddenly, everybody has turned cold to Vir. He is advised to leave immediately. The offices are closed, shops down shutters and a pall of gloom and fear envelopes the air. Two lookalikes of prominent politicians are seen inciting the crowds (of Hindus) to go out and seek revenge from Sikhs.

What follows is a massacre of Sikhs all around the city reminiscent of Hindu-Muslim clashes of the Partition era. No Sikh seems to be safe, on the road or hidden at home, nor ones in the refuge of Hindu families.

Since this is not a documentary, a hint of a story and to balance things as well as to showcase a semblance of sanity among Hindus, comes in the form of Vir’s Hindu friends coming to his rescue risking their lives and braving police (which sided with the rioters) and the goons killing people indulging in arson mercilessly.

31stOctober is a sketchy, half-hearted effort to depict the genocide. As numerous Sikhs are slaughtered, an operation to save one family has little effect on the viewer. The direction is patchy; few films have succeeded in showing riot scenes convincingly in Hindi films and this film ranks at the bottom. What is bad about the film is the casting of Vir Das as the Sikh in danger. He carries his deadpan standup comedian look to this rather serious role. Add to that his characterization, which is of a Sikh who breaks down instead of standing by his family while his friends take the risk and one of them also sacrifices his life for the cause. Rest of the actors make a sincere effort.

If 31st October has an audience to cater to, it is unlikelyto be found in cinema halls.

Producers: Harry Sachdeva.

Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil.

Cast: Vir Das, Soha Ali Khan.

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#57
My Father Iqbal - No drama in Indian Muslim's honesty


‘My Father Iqbal’ is like recreating the life of an honest man from Jammu & Kashmir. It is unlike any film as it is neither a potboiler nor cinema. There are no twists and turns, no villains nor a drama or a dramatic ending. It is the documentation of the life of a man and his circumstances. It is supposed to be a real-life account.

Iqbal Khan, played by Narendra Jha, is a family loving Muslim in Bani, a township in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, surrounded by Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and close to the Pakistan border. Jha is an engineer in the PWD and is a caring man to his wife, Komal Thacker, and his daughter and son. Jha is also sincere with his work, held in high esteem not only by his bosses and colleagues but also by people of the area for whom he always goes out of his way.

Jha, a man who is devoted to his family, lives like any normal, law-abiding and patriotic citizen despite the circumstances of terrorism and violence surrounding him and his town. He is probably traditional in the local sense because, while he dreams of sending his son to a high school in a bigger city, his daughter stays put in this small place.

Time passes by with Jha and Komal tending to the family, romancing and singing while the son on whom they hang much hope has grown up. He has decided to opt for a career in media and, much against his parents’ hopes, has decided to move to Mumbai. His concern for his family comes in the form of regular remittances of money.

Terrorism, which was lurking on the outskirts, has now invaded the town. The terrorists confer with Jha’s boss, the town police chief and the local MLA, to find a man with a clean image to store a bag full of RDX. The honest man in their sight happens to be Jha. Why do they need an honest man when the cop and the MLA are a party to the plan?

Jha’s refusal to accept the bag is countered by a threat of harm that can be done to his son in Mumbai. With his loyalty at stake, Jha asks his son to return home instantly. He wants to share his dilemma with his now grown-up son. The son is on his way and his train is running late by a couple of hours. But, Jha, who has made his decision not to betray his country, takes the ultimate step of not waiting for those two hours for his son to return.

That is about all as, if one is waiting for a traditional ending to the story, there is none. It is about a patriotic man who was a Muslim and from Jammu & Kashmir, who was neither a terrorist nor a supporter.

Besides the scenic beauty of the area of Bani and its surroundings, My Father Iqbal has some soothing music in a couple of ghazals. Performance-wise, Jha is impressive and Komal supports well.

Producer: Paresh Mehta.

Director: Suzad Iqbal Khan.

Cast: NarendraJha, Komal Thacker, Paresh Mehta, Raj Sharma, Amit Lekhwani, Sudam Iqbal Khan.

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#58
1:13:7 Ek Tera Saath - A Date with Chicanery


A sordid tale of treachery with fake allusions to reincarnation, set in a Royal Rajputana of decrepit Pink stoned palaces with royalty that wears it’s heirlooms without the bearing of yore, this film has TV actor Ssharad Malhotra playing troubled heir apparent Aditya, whose family and love were lost in flames during a factory fire

His guardians – an aunt and uncle living in a neighbouring palace fort are intent on getting him to marry again. But the disturbed Prince prefers to live with the ghosts of his recent past-ones who speak to him of their hearts desires and directs him through his current existence.

A businessman is found murdered outside the palace and a cop (Deepraj Rana) comes to investigate but the Princely raja will not be troubled by this ‘runk.’ Then comes the old flame Sonali (Melanie Nazareth) who herself has just recovered from the loss of a husband and is ripe to rekindle an old love.

They cavort around for a bit, but the restless ghost of Aditya’s wife Kasturi (Hritu Dudani) will not allow Sonali an easy way into the heart of her husband. So Aditya and Sonali escape to Delhi only to bump into a Kasturi lookalike. Aditya believes she is Kasturi and the Sonali and the lookalike try to prove otherwise. It’s a belittleing face-off that has little reason and even less logic to bind it. And then comes the twist.

The story is outlandish, there’s little room for reality to seep in. The music is off putting and the songs only add to the tedium. None of the actors make any effort to be their characters and you couldn’t blame them for that because the writing is so slip-shod and fanciful that it might have been difficult for them to correlate with what was happening.

Ssharad Malhotra is in TV mode throughout, he has those typical statuesque postures and wears the most ugly costumes. The director doesn’t appear to have got the hang of this medium. There’s nether tension or mood here – just a lot of hocus pocus that doesn’t make any sense.

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#59
Shivaay - Review

Ajay Devgn Is In Every Frame and We Wish He Wasn't


Cast: Ajay Devgn, Erika Kaar, Abigail Eames
Director: Ajay Devgn

A bare-chested trekker is lying on top of a mountain. The white snow in the background makes us notice his prominent tattoos and still warm pipe. Panoramic aerial shots give us a tour of the beautiful place, and a question rears its head: Why didn’t they make it in 3D?

Some college students join Shivaay (Ajay Devgn) for a mountaineering mission. Olga (Erika Kaar), a Bulgarian studying at the Delhi University, is one of them. There is a spontaneous spark between Olga and Shivaay. They fall in love before the sun sets. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to hold Olga back in India.

But, our heroes know how to preserve love for centuries. And thus after years, Shivaay decides to visit Bulgaria. Gaura (Abigail Eames), an eight-year-old girl, is accompanying him. Olga hadn’t left only Shivaay wandering in the mountains.

The new country turns out to be more mysterious than what the father-daughter duo expected. And they might not be able to untangle the web of lies and deceit coming their way.

Aseem Bajaj’s camera guides us through tunnels and snow-covered hills. With a little help from the CGI team, he successfully creates an environment where the vast canvas makes the audience anxious. Devgn escalates the excitement with a well-choreographed opening action sequence that sees him doing bungee-jumping, gliding and parachuting. The rising crescendo in the background makes him appear flamboyant, tough, skilled and intimidating.

It is also the moment when Devgn gets carried away. He doesn’t want to let go the initial momentum and keeps stretching the sequence. As a result, the film takes time in arriving to the actual plot.

After beating around the bush for many minutes, Devgn finally gathers the courage to come out of the mountains. He has already set a tone for the narrative by now. The film moves to a new location, but it needs to maintain the same attitude.

Shivaay is primarily conceived as an action film. Shiva — the destroyer is dominant than Shiva — the protector. References through names and symbols make it obvious. Plus, Devgn is really good in action sequences.

If the opening sequence brings out his athleticism, the fist-fighting in Bulgaria presents him as a vulnerable yet competitive guy.

You can occasionally be reminded of Vin Diesel’s xXx, Vertical Limit or The Dark Knight Rises, but proceedings mostly remain under Devgn’s control except when he tries to make space for emotional unfolding.

Actually, it’s such an action-dominated film that the efforts to put emotional breathers in between seem futile. After all, we all know where we are going to bump into.


Obvious things take till eternity to happen. The characters sledgehammer us with useless information. Actors like Girish Karnad and Saurabh Shukla mouth dialogues that have no or least connection with the central theme. Accommodating everyone pushes the length of the film to 173 minutes.

What begins as a thrilling adventure turns into a self-indulgent experiment. From shaky camera to mafia to corrupt policemen, everything boils down to Devgn’s uncontrollable urge to raze each standing thing to the ground.

When you think it’s about to touch a logical end, another twist comes into sight. It keeps dragging in search of an end.

The ingredients are there, but loose ends restrict Shivaay from becoming a smooth ride.

Devgn’s stunts are a treat to watch, but that’s about it. Shivaay treks trough high altitudes, but the film keeps waiting for him to return to the valley with a string attached to his legs.

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#60
Mahayoddha Rama (Animation): Combines myth and comic for kids


When it comes to animation films, our filmmakers usually fall back on Indian mythology probably thinking that the viewer will be familiar with the story already. Few, if ever, attempt a theme outside the myth such as the recent one MotuPatlu: King Of Kings.

Mahayoddha Rama adopts a different approach in that this tale has been told from Ravan’s perspective who wants to destroy Rama, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, prophesied to be his doom. The approach is comical with a dash of martial art.

As the story goes here, Ravan has been trying to get rid of Rama since his childhood and trying every trick from sending a tiger to kill Rama to sending his sister Surpankha to lure him and brother Laxman.

Ravan’s 10 heads are the funny part of the film as each head has a different voice. While the main head has the voice of Gulshan Grover to go with his villain image, the rest are voices of Roshan Abbas, Gaurav Gera, Kiku Sharda, Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Amin Sayani, and others. One of the heads of Ravan also keeps chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' frequently!

Kunal Kapoor has done the voiceover for Rama, Jimmy Shergill for Laxman and Suchitra Pillai for Surpankha.

This animation film looks more like a comic take on the epic myth as the character of Ravan here is more like a caricature meant to evoke laughter though his surroundings are dark and he is surrounded by all sinister looking aides.

While the animation is not up to the mark with the characters having limited expressions. The film has taken a long time hitting the cinemas having been made in 2008. It aims more at kids seeking fun out of this comical version of the Ramayana.

Producer: Contiloe Films.

Direction: Rohit Vaid.

Cast (voices): Gulshan Grover, Kunal Kapoor, Jimmy Sheirgill, Mouni Roy, Amin Sayani, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Sameera Reddy

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