“Waiting”… A lightweight drama about love and loss

May 29, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… In the best scene in Anu Menon’s Waiting, Tara (Kalki Koechlin) is sending off her friend Ishita (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee). Tara’s husband Rajat (Arjun Mathur) has been in an accident, and he’s now in a coma in a hospital in Kochi. (He was there on work; the couple lives in Mumbai.) Ishita flew down […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Phobia”… An effective horror film, with a superlative lead performance

May 29, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Pawan Kripalani’s Phobia looks like the scary love child of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and Todd Haynes’ Safe. From the former, we get the young woman (Radhika Apte’s Mehek) alone in an apartment, the older sister, the young woman’s gradually disintegrating mind, her not-easily-explained attitude towards men and sex, and imagery involving hands. From […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“U Turn”… ​No ‘Lucia,’ but still a smart, engaging mystery

May 28, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Pawan Kumar is the rare writer-director who does justice to the job descriptions on either side of the hyphen. U Turn, his follow-up to the buzzy and justly acclaimed Lucia, begins with a lovely scene, in an auto, between Rachana (Shraddha Srinath) and her mother. The scene is essentially to establish that the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Regional

Village people

May 28, 2016

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Thoughts on ‘Thithi’, a small film with big buzz and bigger ambitions. The burden of expectation can sometimes be too much for a small film. Raam Reddy’s Kannada directorial debut Thithi won last year’s National Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada, which seems just about right. When we think “National Award-winning film,” we think […]

“Uriyadi”… ​A gritty (and refreshingly grown-up) little film

May 27, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Uriyadi, set in the 1990s, begins with four youngsters in an engineering college in Trichy. At first, they appear to be fairly typical boys. They’re from smaller towns and they’re enjoying being free, smoking and drinking and celebrating birthdays by smushing cake on the face. Slowly, we see there’s a bit of a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Idhu Namma Aalu”… ​A fairly fun love story that toys with reel and real

May 27, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… As sarakku scenes go, it’s the usual scenario. Two men get drunk. One of them talks about the girl who ditched him, the one that ran away. The other one talks about the girl he loved, the one that got away. (In Tamil cinema, the woman is always the heartbreaker, the man always […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Sarbjit”… Another week, another underwhelming biopic

May 21, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Omung Kumar was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s production designer before he turned director, so certain things are a given. He likes strong women characters. His first film was Mary Kom. His latest is Sarbjit, about the Punjabi man who wandered off into Pakistan and was arrested as a spy – but the film should […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

A king and his times

May 21, 2016

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Looking back at the Ilayaraja era, which began forty years ago, with the release of ‘Annakili’ on 14 May, 1976. So Ilayaraja’s music and I, we’re both in our forties. This doesn’t mean that his is the only music I grew up with. The songs on radio and television came from the 60s, 50s, sometimes […]

“Marudhu”… A generic (though well-shot) action entertainer

May 20, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… The first scene of Marudhu shows a sickle being forged. This can mean only one of two things. Either we’re going to watch a motion picture about the birth of communism. Or it’s a masala movie set in Madurai. With Vishal (as Marudhu) in full action mode, it’s clearly the latter. He is […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Brief Reel: Kankaanikkum Maranam

May 19, 2016

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I get a lot of requests to watch short films, and I thought I’d use the blog to showcase some of them — this one’s called Kankaanikkum Maranam, adapted from a short story by Azhagiya Periyavan and directed by M Arikarasudhan. Most short film makers concentrate on plot, but this one’s also very well directed, with attention […]

Posted in: Brief Reel, Short Films

“Dear Dad”… A modest, involving drama about a family coping with a secret

May 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… They should invent a name for the genre of films that are small, intimate, about 90 minutes long, infused with a Hollywood-indie-movie vibe, filled with good (but not great) writing and down-to-earth performances, scored with guitar and piano rather than a cascade of violins, carefully (but not fussily) framed and shot, attentive to […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Azhar”… A weak attempt to whitewash a disgraced sporting hero

May 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… There’s a shot in Tony D’Souza’s Azhar guaranteed to give gooseflesh to viewers of a certain age. The film doesn’t use last names, so we’re watching “Javed” bat. He whacks a ball to the boundary and smirks that “Javed” smirk. He hoists the next ball for what looks like another encounter with the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Lights, camera… and action!

May 14, 2016

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Thoughts on fight sequences that are more than just… fight sequences. I sat glumly through the new Captain America movie. It was too long, and it took itself too seriously. There’s probably something to the theory that no post-9/11 superhero film can afford to be, you know, light and fun and nothing but escapist entertainment, […]

“Ko 2.”… A gentler vigilante movie that kind-of works

May 13, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Sarath’s Ko 2 – an in-name-only sequel that carries over only one character from the earlier film, Chief Minister Yogeeswaran (Prakash Raj) – borrows its premise from the Telugu film Prathinidhi, but Tamil viewers will instantly recall Cheran’s Desiya Geetham. It’s the same one-line plot: the CM is kidnapped. But it’s not quite […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Pencil”… A vaguely watchable whodunit

May 13, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Pencil plays like an Agatha Christie mystery set in a posh school. The victim is Nithin (Shariq Hassan) – he’s stabbed in the neck with the titular implement. (We’re not shown his last words, but allow me a guess: “2B or not 2B?”) In true Christie fashion, there are many with a motive. […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Broad Reflections #3: Tamil short stories

May 12, 2016

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So this is a plug, not just for the book you’re going to read about in a bit but also for the Tamil short story. The first grown-up stories I read were in Tamil. Enid Blytons and Hardy Boys adventures and other kinds of English reading came from the library, but I’d get done with […]

“One Night Stand”… Material for a major sexual-equality statement is trivialised by cast and director

May 9, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… For a while, One Night Stand plays out exactly like you expect it to. Gauzy red scarves brushing against skin. Horny men in Phuket. And a hookup. He’s Urvil (Tanuj Virwani). She’s Celina (Sunny Leone). His name means “sea.” Her name means “sky.” When he begins to flirt with her, she says sadly, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

In the hills, they hope for change

May 7, 2016

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The tribals of Sathyamangalam are seeing red during these elections. The Oorali tribals of the village of Kaalidhimbam, in the Sathyamangalam hills, say that the houses they live in were built during Kamaraj’s rule, some sixty years ago. They want new houses. And the government says they can get new houses under the Pasumai Veedu […]

Posted in: General, Society, Travel

“24.”… An intelligent, joyous mix of sci-fi and masala-myth

May 6, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… A discussion about 24 must begin with Suriya, and a discussion about Suriya must begin with the fact that you have to travel back in time, to Rakta Charitra in 2010, to get anything close to a performance from the actor. Had Suriya been just one of those “mass stars,” from whom we […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Baaghi”… A very basic ‘mass’ movie, but the action is tops

May 1, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… As a Tamilian, I’m going to be nursing nightmares for years about Baaghi, for the film features an act of murder using… poisoned curd rice. To those of you who don’t get it, let me attempt an explanation: this is the gastronomic equivalent of the scene in Khakee where Akshay Kumar is betrayed […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi
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