April 15th, 2017


Book Critique 2016 – 10/27/2016: Agatha Christie - Spider's Web

Note: It's 2017 and I still have three months of reviews to go from 2016. I am hoping I should be able to finish it soon but we have to wait and see how far into 2017 this will go into. :)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: All the elements of mystery, suspense and thrill that you see in any Christie's novel is seen here too. But what lacks is the chase and the chill.

After the success of the novelization of Agatha Christie's first plays Black Coffee (My review of that book is here) and Unexpected Guest (My review of that book here), Charles Osborne made a third play of her into a novel.

The play Spider's Web was originally written in 1954 by Agatha Christie at the request of Margaret Lockwood who was a star in the play as well. Charles Osbourne novelized it some 46 years later in 2000. This is another of the straight forward transfer from the stage script into a book by the author.

The play opens with Mrs. Clarissa Hailsham-Brown having her unharmed fun at the expense of Sir Rowland Delahaye and Hugo Birch while fooling them into tasting three wines blind-folded and identify them although they all are same as identified by Jeremy Warrender. Jeremy loves Clarissa and he makes no effort to hide it. But, what is Jeremy trying to search in the desk? And what did Clarissa mean when she said suppose if she murdered someone will Jeremy help? Then Pippa shows him a priest's hole in the room - a secret hidden door and a recess behind it. But she then muses that it is a nice place to hide a dead body. Why would Pippa need to hide a dead body?

The Oliver Costello - husband of Henry's ex-wife Miranda - is threatening to take Pippa with them. Clarissa is determined to not let that happen. In the meanwhile Henry Hailsham-Brown is hosting his home to Soviet Premier, Kalendorff and Sir John, Prime Minister of England for a few hours before he heads back to London. Then a few hours later Clarissa finds a very dead Oliver Costello in the very room where he had earlier threatened to take Pippa. Who killed Oliver Costello? Clarissa takes help of Sir Rowland, Hugo and Jeremy to get the body disposed off so there would be no trouble for Henry when his important meeting was to happen. But before they get to dispose it off, the police arrive at the scene and they hurriedly hide the body in the secret recess. Someone had called them telling a murder was committed in this house.

Who had called the police? What is it that Oliver Costello was looking for in the house again? Was it something same that Jeremy had looked for? The previous owner of the house - Mr. Sellon, had passed away but his death was considered suspicious. Is that in some way connected to the murder of Oliver Costello? The other actors in the play are - Pippa (Henry Hailsham-Brown's daughter with his first wife), Miss Mildred Peak (Hailsham-Browns' gardener), Elgin (the butler), Inspector Lord and Constable Jones.

Mary Higgins Clark's attempt to make a comedy-murder mystery is at best feeble. It does have a murder and it does have comedy, but both elements seem to be traveling along in parallel like a railway track - neither elements melding or crossing nor overpowering. And added to that so much confusion created by Clarissa's constant lying and ability to spin tales as fast as a spider spins her web that almost bordered on driving us crazy. Yet it was an enjoyable read that I finished rather quickly.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Pippa plays a game Demon Patience and it made me wonder what it was. On googling it I found that it is a card game also called as Demon Solitaire. Interesting. She also talks about another game called Beggar-My-Neighbour which is again a card game.
2) I did not understand what the Christie meant when she wrote that Mr. Hailsham-Brown allowed his first wife to divorce him. Was it a state back then that there was no mutual divorce? Hmm

Movie Critique 2016 – 10/28/2016: Prema Katha Chitram

Note: It's 2017 and I still have four months of reviews to go from 2016. I am hoping I should be able to finish it soon but we have to wait and see how far into 2017 this will go into. :)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars:  5 / 5
Recommendation: A perfect medley of comedy, horror, romance and music that will keep you glued to the screen.

Prema Katha Chitram ( = Love Story That is Funny) is a 2013 Telugu (Indian Language) horror-comedy movie. It stars Sudheer Babu and Nanditha in the lead roles. The plot basically is about four youngsters who come to a farm to commit suicide because they have failed in their lives. But then if that was it then it wouldn’t be a horror movie, isn't it. So, enters the ghost. And the rest of the movie follows the way they deal with the ghost.

Yes, yes, people, I watched a horror movie again. But this time I was tricked by my friend that this was a comedy more than horror and so I watched and hence the review here. :P And I must say I liked it very much.

Sudheer (portrayed by Sudheer Babu), Nanditha (portrayed by Nanditha), Praveen (portrayed by Praveen) and Giri (portrayed by Satpagiri) plan to combine a flawless suicide. But they want to fulfill their last wishes before they do - Nanditha want to steal a new car, Sudheer want to slap a local MLA, Praveen wanted to always be in a car chase. After fulfilling Nanditha and Sudheer's wishes, both of them along with Praveen escape on the stolen jeep to a farm house. Praveen being the common friend for both Sudheer and Nanditha, he designs an elaborate plan for committing suicide. But he secretly hopes that both Nanditha and Sudheer would come out of this stupid plan of committing suicide and instead find each other. They are joined by Giri along the way to the farm house. But neither of them know what is in store for them in that farm house.

Knowing the past of Nanditha, Praveen doesn’t want her to die. So he proposes to post-pone the suicide for three days. They all get to know each other well. On the end of the 3rd day, Nanditha doesn’t want to still commit suicide and doesn’t want Sudheer also. Praveen suggests her to kiss Sudheer so his mind gets diverted out of the idea. Then enters the ghost - Lakshmi - who takes over Nanditha's body and scares them. The movie continues showing the perils of them with the ghost, the antics of the other residents of the farm house and trying to find why the ghost is haunting the house and them.

The farmhouse comes with weird characters other than the ghost - Watchman (who guards the farm house and tries to scare them away with horror stories), Saidulu (who is all-in-one worker at the farm house and famed to talk to ghosts) and Pedda (a one-eyed old man at the farm house who has a mysterious presence).

Why do Sudheer and Nanditha wanted to commit suicide? What are the reasons for Praveen and Giri to be part of this plot? Was Praveen intentionally setting up Nanditha and Sudheer? Does Nanditha love Sudheer from the beginning? Who is the ghost? Why is she entering the body of Nanditha and scaring everyone? What is the reasons for Watchman, Saidulu and Pedda to scare these people away? The plot continues revealing more than what eye meets.

The movie opens with an introduction about suicide and how the current generation has no value for life and are committing this grave sin for mundane reasons - failure in exams, failure in love, to terrorize the parents. There is so much truth in this and the director uses this tragedy into a horror and comedy mix plot that hopefully sheds some light on the generation who takes their own life so easily.

Comedy is very well blended with Horror. Two contrasting emotions are shown excellently by the director without having either one overpower the other. The actors have all lived their roles well. Sudheer Babu incidentally is the brother-in-law (by marriage) of actor Mahesh Babu and also a professional badminton player. However his acting reminds me so much of another actor Srikanth. This movie is the second movie for both Sudheer Babu and Nanditha albeit them working together first time. Nanditha's acting is superb especially when she acts as a possessed person.

The soundtrack of the movie is enjoyable enough. Music composed by J. B. and Lyrics penned by Veturi Sundararamamurthy, Kasarla Shyam and Karunakar. Veturi had passed away in 2010 three years prior to this movie. Playback Singing provided by a myriad of young singers - Lipsika, Revanth, Malavika, Rahul Sipilgunj, Deepu, Ramya Behra and J. B. Yet the credits show his name although posthumously for one song that has been used in the film. Again it’s a song from veteran actor Krishna and the beautiful Sridevi. The original song Vennelaina Chikataina is from the 1985 film Pachani Kapuram ( = A Happy Family). Another reason to thank Krishna. Here it is remixed with the same lyrics, new tunes and new singers. The original song that this remix was based on:

J.B. used D. Imman composition "Ayayayoo Aananthamey" from the Tamil movie Kumki for the song Kothagunna Haaye.

Here is the entire playlist from this movie:

A low-budget movie that not only entertains one but also pleases the viewer in the form of comedy, romance and horror all culminated into one beautiful picture. It's on youtube if you haven't watched it yet. Trust me it will not bore you for a single moment.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) The film was remade in Kannada as Chandralekha with Chiranjeevi Sarja and in Tamil as Darling with G. V. Prakash Kumar.
2) The opening of the movie has the song "Ee Gaalilo" from the 1998 Telugu film Agni Parvatham ( = Volcano) starring veteran actor Krishna and Vijayashanthi. Sung by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and S. Janaki the song certainly sets the tone of the film. Here is the original version of the song.

Perhaps the director thanks Krishna at the beginning of the film for this very reason as he used this song of Krishna in the movie.

And another movie adding to my list for reviews
3) The director also thanks Mahesh Babu - Son of Krishna and also a famous actor - as the audio launch for this movie was done by him.

4) Check the long shirt worn by Giri. He says that someone's shirt was in the closet so he wore but perhaps it was a large size so it is coming to his mid-thighs. But If you see closely you can see that an additional piece of cloth is stitched at the bottom to make it look big. Clearly an editing and costume error.

5) Pachani Kapuram is another movie that is pending for my review. It ties into old Telugu and Hindi movies as well as their remakes. A review that will be one within another.