Ustad Hotel: What I Thought!

Yes, you read it right. Its a Malayalam movie featured here. Although I do watch Malayalam movies I was never a fan, exceptions being some old classics. The reason? The film makers started churning out recycled and rehashed films based on family values, cheesy romances and all. It was until recently Malayalam movies got the balls to move forward to make movies with more bold topics & unconventional/non-traditional storylines.

I had to write about ‘Ustad Hotel’ directed by Anwar Rasheed, who previously gave us the hilarious romps that were ‘Rajamanikyam’, ‘Chotta Mumbai’ & ‘Annan Thampi’. I’d say ‘Ustad Hotel’ marks his REAL directorial debut. Although Rajamanikyam/Chotta Mumbai/Annan Thampi were regarded hits, it always followed the family-entertainer route, oozing cheesiness and being mere-masala-entertainers than anything else. It was formulaic. ‘Ustad Hotel’ on the other hand is a movie with and made with a heart. It has all the right ingredients for a perfect movie and taken with the right pinch of salt it tastes delicious. And talk about delicious, ‘Ustad Hotel’ is sure to test your taste buds. It has been said ‘Sex Sells’ in both Hollywood & Bollywood….well it seems here in Mollywood…’Food Sells’ (a’la 2011’s ‘Salt & Pepper’). Though ‘Ustad Hotel’ is more than just a story about food. Its about family values and how people change chasing recognition/fame/money. It has a very good moral, but these days its one thing to make a well intentioned point and another to make people take it serious. Though it could be considered a success if the author/filmmaker could atleast make the reader/audiences think for just a second. Rest assured ‘Ustad Hotel’ is a sure-fire winner in that case. It wont keep you pondering on the subject matter but just that ‘second’ is enough.

Dulquar Salman, Mammootty’s son, plays the lead ‘Faizi’ in ‘Ustad Hotel’. Although still amateurish at times, he was impressive, considering its his second movie. His boyish charms, I am sure, are gonna make female fans weak in their knees though I have to add that he equally puts his efforts in dramatic as well as sentimental scenes. Thilakan deserves a standing ovation for his perfomance as Faizi’s, granpa ‘Kareem’. He brought a sense of life to the movie, his acting genuine and heartwarming. Nitya Menon, plays Faizi’s romantic interest ‘Shahna’ had some pretty nifty scenes too. The evergreen Maamukoya gave way for some laughs as well. These 4 among the cast were the heart and soul of the movie; can’t say the same about the others as they just remain ‘underdeveloped-characters’.

The movie itself is picturesque. Brilliant cinematography and its all evident in all the plethora of colors around in each scene. I have been to Calicut and I’d never seen the city like I’ve seen in the movie. That’s ingenious cinematography indeed.

The score was absolutely spellbinding. Take it from the previews itself, its an absolutely pleasantry to the ears. I don’t know how Gopi Sunder did it. Each sequence, each scenario had a distinct feel to it. When Calicut sequences had Islamic/Arabic tunes blended into the score, it quickly shifts to Tamil-esque classical harmonics during the Madhurai scenes. 2 thumbs up for the score. The same goes for the songs, while ‘Appangalembadum’ was funky and fun, ‘Mel Mel’ was purely soothing. So all in all I am absolutely acoustically satiated. Makes me wish they released the movie score as an OST.

Its great to see Malayalam movies evolving from scratch and recent movies like ‘E Adutha Kaalath’, ’22 Female Kottayam’ are all valid proof on celluloid. Directors, veteran and novice alike, are trying out their hands at contemporary and fresh topics as storylines. Kudos. Looking forward to see more movies made so.

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