Posts by mahdiahmed

JERSEY (2019) REVIEW

This heart-wrenching yet deeply satisfying Telugu underdog sports drama kept my floodgates opened long after the end credits rolled. My wife and I kept sobbing loudly.

Arjun, played with restraint and conviction by Nani, is gifted but a down on his luck retired cricketer. When his life hits rock-bottom, he is forced out of retirement, at a cost. But his raison d’etre would never leave a dry eye in the house.

The entire cast hit sixes with their exceptional performances, especially Shraddha Srinath as Arjun’s abandoned wife who carries the burden of supporting the family. Sathyaraj as Murthy who is the long-time mentor and the only person who never stops believing in Arjun. And Ronit Kamra as Arjun’s son who adores his father despite his pitiful struggle to keep his family together.

Anirudh Ravichander hits all the right chords with his engaging music, and the cinematography by Sanu John Varughese adds a solemn depth to the intense drama and the sports sequences.

The screenplay is creatively written by Gowtam Tinnanur, keeping his nonlinear narrative poignant and straightforward. He even hits a biggie out of the stadium with his solid direction.

Highly recommended.

Advertisements

WITH LOVE…

My dearest love,

I feel blessed and thrilled to be celebrating another memorable year of your life.

Regardless of what age you have turned, your inner and outer self remain intact. But every now and then, you are anxious about your eyesight, your skin and your wrinkles. On second thought, who isn’t? But worry not. ISA, you are beautiful, loving, tender, caring and intelligent. By the way, those are just a few of your traits. If I must list all of them, I might run out of space here and end up with blisters on my fingertips. And yes, you will always be my Jessica. Purr!

Simply put, I couldn’t be prouder to be your husband. There is no greater happiness for me in this world than to have you in my life. And then there is Kokko. Together, you both complete me.

I have lived all the beautiful moments of my life with you. Our courtship, getting trapped in a room, us getting married, the day you conceived, your entire pregnancy, your delivery, parenting Kokko, your graduation and the exhausting adventure we had finding your phone some three days ago is some of the best memories that will remain engraved in my heart forever. Even all the problems, difficulties and tragedies we faced from the tsunami to your depression when you were unjustly fired and to my botched-up colonoscopy have helped us to be better and stronger. And most importantly, we value each other with the utmost care and respect.

We were utterly clueless of our destiny even though all your life you frequented to my house, and we crossed our path million times. But look at us today, it seems as if fate was written for us. I am confident with all my heart that ISA our love will last, and we will be together forever. You and Kokko are in my prayers every day.

Kokko fills our hearts with joy and happiness. He is more like you possessing your sense of humour and sincerity. But I am happy if he has my adorable cheeks. I also feel contented seeing that you are such a wonderful mother who takes good care of him and continues to do so day in, day out. You provide him with your undying love, affection and heart.

Thank you very much for making me who I am today. Thank you for sprucing me up. Your love, caring, and affection keep inspiring me.

Thank you for helping me when I am not in my best of moods. Your wittiness never fails to leave me in stitches, especially when you dance an Oryantal or the Bharatanatyam. I am already cracking up. Thank you for making me see how beautiful our life is.

I am glad you have this newfound admiration for the diarist, late AH. May his soul rest in peace. Even I have been reading some of his excerpts secretly and find his writing very inspirational and amusing. Thank you for obtaining almost all his digests.

We still love riding over the bridge even though we feel our heads falling off from our shoulders at the end of our spin. Yes, the helmets have robbed the maximum experience we previously enjoyed. But we keep communicating to and from HulhuMale’ like astronauts on a motorbike.

We’ve been quite the opposite of what we do. You love all the contemporary music while I am still in the 80s. When you watch an exciting movie, I am catching a few zees. While you are funny and open-minded, I am closed and an introvert. But we are low on tension and more on the fun. Now I wholeheartedly believe in the saying that opposite does attract.

It’s inevitable that with time, we will grow old and wrinkly. But all that is trivial to me. What really matters is that we are together and with you today is better than yesterday. I wish and pray that our love keeps getting stronger with each passing day. I give you my unconditional love and the rest of my life and eternity with you.

Happy birthday, my love.

BAVATHI review

First and foremost, I want to congratulate first-time writer-director Ilyaas Waheed for his above par effort to bring a movie not only dealing with an ominous subject but presenting it with such a never before seen visual flair and style. His work as a writer and a director is promising and deeply felt. Our film industry has found a force to be reckoned with.

This film also marks as the first Dhivehi psychological thriller that focuses mainly on the psychosis of the protagonist and delving deep into a few clinical practices used in psychology. It’s a slow burner, though. But once it starts to simmer and comes to a full boil, it’s an experience both spine-chilling and thought-provoking.

The narrative is hard to explain without spoilers. But I say this much, it’s surprisingly imaginative. In most part, there are glimmers of brilliance in Ilyas’ writing and directing. And it’s the way he peels off the narrative layer by layer using beautiful and sometimes creepy visuals mixed with intense drama that stands out. For a first-timer, I say he is impressive.

Nuzhath Shuaib has established herself as one of the most versatile actors in the local film industry today, showing her acting prowess in a vast range of roles. It’s not surprising that she accomplished her stardom in such a short span of time. Here, her performance, which is evenly balanced with restraint and nuance, will put her a notch above the rest. She plays an alienated woman who begins to experience strange occurrences around her once she relocates to Male’ after marrying a fitness trainer she meets from her island.

As the narrative progresses, she keeps raising the level of her performance as her life starts spiralling both physically and mentally to a point where her reality becomes blurry. In some sequences, she made me disconcerting and in one pivotal scene, gasping for air even.

However, its at the climax where she bites to the bone of her meaty role showing her acting brilliance with aplomb. It’s a role that any actor would die for. But she made her performance so convincingly powerful that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in it. I am her biggest fan now.

My admiration goes to all the newcomers in the cast, especially Ahmed Ifnaz Firag and Fathimath Latheefa. The former plays the fitness trainer that Nuzhath marries who is not only sympathetic, he’s likeable and will stop at nothing to protect the love of his life. And the latter plays Nuzhath’s uncompromising mother. For their debut, both give decent performances.

Even though veteran actor Mohamed Rasheed appears briefly, his role is crucial to the narrative and heavily supports the new actors. He gives assurance to them.

One of the highlights and in my opinion, also an essential character in this movie is the visual effects combined seamlessly into the narrative. I applaud Orkeyz, the VFX and the technical team behind this film to bring the unique vision of Ilyas to the screen with such finesse. If my memory serves me right, no other Dhivehi film to date has used visual effects so extensively, if not effectively as this.

Kandi Visan’s cinematography is another plus. The way he has set the mood elevates the mystery and the creepiness around Nuzhath. And the long tracking shots used sparingly are lively and a joy to watch.

Regardless of how much technical effort employed, a film is soulless without music. This is where Mistee, the music composer shines. After a praiseworthy composition for Illnoise, Hahdhu and the recent blockbuster, Gohraalhu, he has done it again. Unlike the previous films, which are of contrasting genres as well, he has composed a piece of brooding and moody music that’s so fitting to the sensitive theme of this film. It’s at times heart-pounding too.

In short, this film shines in all the filmmaking departments. For a film from a first timer, it’s technically good and well-performed by the entire cast with a gripping narrative. Highly recommended.

Black and White

Few black and white snaps.

Bokeh

A Selection of bokeh shots I have tried over the years.

Mud boy

On our visit to the beautiful mangrove of Huraa, my son loved sitting in the mud.

Trip to Huraa

My trip to Huraa with family.

A NEAT SURPRISE!

When producer/ director, Mohamed Aboobakuru aka Maaenboo asked me to write Neydhen Vakivaakah, I repeatedly requested him that he should take it as a challenge to make it better than all the movies he has done so far. After watching the premiere of the film last night, I am impressed and happy to see that he has risen to the occasion by delivering a pleasantly well-balanced film that the audience thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. This is his best work to this date by many miles.

Official Poster

Few minutes into the film, I knew the audience was hooked. They had a whale of time reacting to the jokes, the unexpected twists and turns that were unconventional for a romantic drama including some red herrings thrown here and there. Above all the performances by the entire cast kept the audience fully engaged. My wife, my strictest critique from whose feedback I always consider if a film I have written has hit the bullseye, rated it as one of the most delightful screenplays I have written so far. Phew!

As usual, the heavyweight actors, Yoosuf Shafeeu, Fathimath Azeesha, Ahmed Saeed and Arifa Ibrahim were a real treat to watch. The role played by Yoosuf Shafeeu reminded me of his National Award-winning role from Vehey Vaarey Therein but with more contrast, control and maturity.

Fathimath Azeesha played the sympathetic girl next door who has shut herself from any romantic involvement because of a tragic past. She kept her acting believable and straightforward as her character comes out of the shell, goes back in, comes out again only to find that she has much bigger sufferings to confront.

There’s nothing more to be said of Ahmed Saeed. In this film, he once again turned in a memorable performance. This actor can play any given role he is offered with his eyes closed. He has proven how versatile he is by playing completely different characters in three of his films that were released this year.

But it was fashion designer/ choreographer, Jaadhulla Ismail in his first role in a film that surprised everyone. He was very likeable and showed great depth in his acting. He was funny in the first half with his comic timing spot on. He then showed unbelievable restraint in the second half by relying entirely on his acting as he had barely any dialogues to deliver. He understood his character well and was aware of his character arc. I hope he continues to appear in many more films.

Shoutout also goes to Ahmed Azmeel and Naashidha. Their roles were small, but they were essential to the narrative.

I congratulate the entire team for a job well done. Keep up the good work in entertaining the audience.

Cheers!

FEELING LIMITLESS

When my wife, my life long critique who would stop at nothing to cut me up even at the slightest of opportunities cried, I mean not a drop or two but a lot, after watching Hahdhu, then it’s a reason to rejoice. And it also says she’s impressed big time. Her feedback is all that mattered to me.

Though I have boasted about this movie for so long, this post is once again what I felt after watching it from the silver screen. The film was premiered for the media this evening at Schwack Cinema.

17358597_1910106685939773_899352771839415938_o

I am so overwhelmed with excitement and happiness that I don’t know from where to begin. The cast, the crew, I mean every department of this film were outstanding. Period. But I am going to start with newcomer Ahmed Shiban. All eyes were set on him ever since he was cast in the leading role. For me, he has come out with flying colours. He was in his character throughout the film. The way he handled his character’s introvert traits and his slow transition from start to finish was commendable. Surprisingly, he was way too comfortable with the two leading ladies. And more surprising was his emotions were completely different with each lady. As for those six-packs of his, he made the ladies swoon and guys green.

In my previous post, I have mentioned that this film is a tale of two leading ladies. The narrative intercuts between the lives of Yusra and Zamha played to perfection by filmdom’s most sought after actresses, Mariyam Azxza and Aminath Rishfa respectively. Though neither of them shares screen time in the film, they were neck and neck in their performances.

In Hahdhu, Azxza has given a flawless performance in a role that any actor would die for to sink their teeth into. And as Yusra, she bites deep into her character to show a variety of shades from a free-spirited girl without boundaries to a girl who has to in the end draw a boundary around her. She was beyond brilliance, showcasing a range of emotions as she handled her character with aplomb.

As for Rishfa, she is in a stellar form showing her acting abilities that we haven’t seen from her before. She brilliantly portrays the assured life of Yusra while showing the fragilities and volatilities of life when her own comes crumbling down. She allows the audience to go down with her and succumb to her sadness. She made us easily empathise with her character. She also showed great restraint in her acting. This is one stunning performance.

Dhon Ayya keeps raising the bar with each role he plays. In Hahdhu, he shows his vulnerability and his transformation to accept life as a changed person is so believable and very relatable. Another excellent performance by this promising actor. I wish great things happening for him.

After a long hiatus from films, veteran actor Fauziyya Hassan returns to the screen as an over-cautious mother whose life spirals down to the point of no return when her pride is beaten to a pulp. She made my heart shatter into pieces in one of the pivotal scenes where she shows her acting prowess in a long play shot — just magic.

This film is packed with stunning performances from the entire cast, especially by the veteran actors along with Fauziyya. Add to that list, Mohamed Rasheed. He gives a top-notch performance as an understanding father who is also very philosophical. His performance is very controlled yet in his eyes and in his delivery allowed me to sink in with his emotions. This King rules.

Another veteran who shines and almost steals the shows is Arifa Ibrahim. She takes her acting to another level but supports everyone around her to excel with her as well. She does wonders with her one-liners. Truly brilliant.

Mariyam Shakeela is often an overlooked actor, but in Hahdhu, she gives a mesmerising performance. Though she has a few scenes, she allows the audience to understand her character’s inner and outer self, especially in a crucial scene where her transformation is delivered without any dialogue. Well done.

Honourable mention goes to Mariyam Haleem, Aminath Rasheeda and Gulistan for turning in equally great performances as strong independent women we rarely get to see in local films. This is by far their best performances in their careers. Also, I add Najah to the list as boat captain Mohamedbe from whose sympathetic eyes we get to witness the toughest of times that the principal characters go through.

The cute girl who plays the happy daughter of Rishfa takes on an emotionally charged role showing talent beyond her age. Her eyes are so expressive.

Lastly, in the acting department, TV anchor Ahmed Fairooz surprised everyone by bringing his small screen charm and charisma to the big screen with an unbelievable performance. He shows he has acting chops to compete with all the heavyweights of the filmdom. And his comic timing is spot on.

This film wouldn’t be complete without the thought-provoking songs written exclusively for the film’s narrative by Theyra and all the songs performed together with his wife Ashfa. Three cheers to them and the formidable and creative team behind composing and arranging all the songs, including additional vocals to one of my favourite songs, Thaubaa. Ashfa’s haunting vocals to my favourite scene still lingers. Well done, everyone.

On the technical side, kudos to the breath-taking cinematography by Kandi Vishan. Through his lens, he captivates the audience with the beauty of the islands in never-before-seen footages in a local film thus far. This will easily register as his best and his finest of work.

Ju Ma has done an admirable job with makeup changing the actors so smoothly from glamorous to gloomy or vice-versa. He kept his tones and shades properly to the situation his characters were in with every scene. Moreover, his choreography to Giritee Loabin, all I can say is bravo!

When he is given a canvas with creative freedom, whiz kid, Ahmed Sajid has shown his magic in post-production. His editing crisp, well-paced and colour grading looks refreshing. And when his visual effects go unnoticed by the audience, then the job he has done is deemed perfect.

I wasn’t sure when musician Mistee was commissioned to compose the score for this film. But now I don’t see anyone else doing it. His music has given a new life to this film by enhancing the emotions of the actors and tying them directly to the heartstrings of the audience. His build-up to the climax is praiseworthy. He has done wonders and magic in the most pivotal scene of the film. Even as I type this, the goosebumps haven’t subsided. Brilliant work.

The team Hahdhu was made stronger by Umar Ashfaq and Hoodh Ahmed. They were the hard-working production assistants. I congratulate them for a job well done.

I thank with all my heart to Niuma Mohamed and Abdul Fatthaah for producing this film which I wrote some eight years ago for the latter. If not for them, my screenplay would still be lying on the shelf, collecting more dust and cobwebs. Thank you! Thank you!

Finally, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Abdul Fatthaah is the assured captain who sailed and steered this ship to new heights with such a multi-talented cast and a creative crew. In his long journey to bring my screenplay to screen, he inspired everyone in his team to outshine in their respective departments. I salute him for giving up on his old style of film making, and after an absence of two years without directing a film, he returned by revamping himself by applying a very current style of film making for his 12th film of his career. The impact was immediately felt from the opening scene to the final credits. This feels like a film directed by a new director. This, I consider his masterpiece.

This film will go down in the history of Dhivehi cinema as the first film to exhibit with 5.1 surround sound. Now that’s what I call setting benchmarks and developing the local film industry. Kudos to Fatthaah for giving the green signal. Once again it was Mistee who was at the helm of this audacious task along with Sajid at designing and mixing the sound. Their hard work has paid dividends and given this emotional roller coaster ride a thrilling experience. But sadly, the 5.1 surround will only be experienced from the cinemas owned by Schwack.

I hope that the audience will talk about this film even long after watching this film. For me, this film has set a new benchmark. It’s well-paced, well-acted and technically brilliant and also innovative. I congratulate team Hahdhu, and I do look forward to another film from them.

Cheers!