A koffee moment…

February 24, 2017

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So we got a press release (reproduced below) for the latest episode of Koffee with Karan (to be telecast this Sunday), and guess which film critic’s name popped up!!! I hope they don’t delete this bit at the last minute, but even if they do, it was fun just reading this. Koffee with Karan Renowned […]

Posted in: Personal

“Ezra”… A well-crafted horror film that needed much better writing

February 23, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Jay K’s Ezra, which is set in Kochi, is filled with Malayalis; the story revolves around Ranjan (Prithviraj) and Priya (Priya Anand). But their domestic help is Maharashtrian, and the large, large house they live in (for once, wouldn’t it be nice if a horror film unfolded in one of those matchbox-sized flats […]

Posted in: Cinema: Malayalam

Readers Write In #9: Aaromale

February 20, 2017

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‘Catcher in the Rye’ had spoiled me. It is always a problem when you meet a great novel. ‘Great’ in the sense, how the novel had hit you. It wouldn’t have hit you, had it not reflected your persona with such uncanny authenticity. Similar to how Vadivel gets surprised when someone reads his mind-voice. ‘Velila […]

Posted in: Books, Readers Write In

“Ghazi”… A comfortingly old-fashioned (and entertaining) war movie

February 19, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Kay Kay Menon rarely finds roles worthy of his talent, but in Ghazi, he lucks out. He plays Rann Vijay Singh, a naval captain entrusted with a submarine and a mission. It’s 1971. News has trickled down that Pakistan is preparing to strike the eastern coast. Singh and his crew are asked to […]

“Irada”… An earnest but inept drama about the groundwater crisis in Punjab

February 19, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Punjab isn’t having a good time at the movies. Last year’s Udta Punjab transformed the state into a drug-addled dystopia. This week’s Irada slaps on it the label of “cancer belt of the country.” Arshad Warsi isn’t having a good time at the movies either. Last week’s Jolly LLB 2 was a reminder […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Ennodu Vilayadu”… An underwhelming thriller that’s more of an underwhelming romance

February 18, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… I perked up at the beginning of Arun Krishnaswami’s Ennodu Vilayadu. (That title! What a great fit if someone made a Fifty Shades of Grey in Tamil.) The story deposits us in Guindy, by the race track, and we get this voiceover: “Inga kuthirai saththam innum kekkudhu!” As if on cue, the sound […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Rum”… Not many scares. Not much coherence either.

February 17, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Vivek is the nominal comedian in Sai Bharath’s Rum, but he’s no match for the censors (or whichever board it is that slaps advisory texts on screen). We’re in a haunted house. It’s the usual assortment of people who witness strange goings-on, but don’t immediately pack their bags and flee. Soon enough, the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol”… A lovely dramedy woven around the ups, downs in a marriage

February 16, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… By all rights, Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol should have been a sex comedy – one of those films in which a married man begins to scratch that seven-year itch. Mohanlal plays Ulahannan, a panchayat official whose life is leached of excitement. The first time we see him, he’s snoring in a bus. He’s married to […]

Posted in: Cinema: Malayalam

“Jolly LLB 2.”… Merely okay as courtroom drama, but a vivid look at Hindu-Muslim dynamics

February 12, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… What happens when you move from Arshad Warsi to Akshay Kumar? You get the scene where the lawyer nicknamed Jolly (he’s not the same character though; Warsi’s Jolly was Jagdish Tyagi, Akshay’s version is Jagdishwar Mishra) is on a boat on the Ganges. He jumps into the water. This decision isn’t about Jolly […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The captain of the ship

February 11, 2017

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Sensing the director’s touch, at the recently concluded Bengaluru International Film Festival. At a film festival, the brochure is invaluable. It gives you a plot synopsis of the films being screened. It gives you a note about the filmmaker. This not only helps in deciding whether you want to give this particular film a shot, […]

“Lightman”… An inconsistent yet illuminating docu/fiction about cinema’s foot soldiers

February 9, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Venkatesh Kumar G’s Lightman shines a spotlight on… the men whose job is to shine a spotlight. The film narrates the story of Guna (Karthik Nagarajan), a folk-theatre artist who leaves his village in Madurai and comes to Chennai with dreams of making it big in Kollywood. But he’s not able to get […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Singam 3.”… Loud, fast, and without a single memorable moment

February 9, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… THERE’S PACY NARRATION. AND THERE’S PACY NARRATION AS PRACTISED BY THE DIRECTOR HARI. Oh, sorry. Did I seem to be screaming? I’ve just exited a screening of Singam 3, and I’m still trying to make myself heard. This is the kind of movie where a SpiceJet flight makes a landing and the sound […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Readers Write In #8: The Great Story Obsession

February 5, 2017

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Whenever I ask for feedback about a film from my friends, and if it turns out to be a negative one, I used to quote Kamal from Vasool Raja, ‘Nee enna solla pora nu therium, kadhaye illa nu sollapora’. Our audience strongly consider ‘The Story’ to be the garbagriha of a movie and would consider their pilgrimage […]

The reinvention of a K-k-k-khan

February 4, 2017

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Given Shah Rukh’s career crossroads, it’s going to be fascinating to watch where he goes from here. Is it just me, or has Shah Rukh Khan become the most interesting actor around? This isn’t about his performing skills. This isn’t about his box-office clout, healthy enough for a star, yet nowhere near that of the […]

Bitty Ruminations 84

February 3, 2017

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There are many tributes to Nirmal Shekar out there. I just want to talk about what it meant for a kid interested in words, in language, in writing, in self-expression to read someone like him. There’s the general tendency, today, to look down on writerly writing. It’s considered masturbatory. Write simply, in a way everyone […]

“Bogan”… A fair-enough popcorn thriller, anchored by a terrific Arvind Swamy

February 2, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… While discussing filmmakers who begin with a bang, we usually talk about a “sophomore slump”. But is there a term for the opposite, when a Krishna bounces back with Nedunchaalai after debuting with the soggy Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, or when Lakshman follows up the awful Romeo Juliet with Bogan? The beginning isn’t promising: […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

About free speech, ‘Padmavati’, and that scene in ‘Kaabil’

January 31, 2017

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Dear liberals, if you think what happened with Bhansali was wrong, then you have to see ‘Kaabil’ for what it is, not what you want it to be. It’s somewhat pointless to write something on free speech in a country where the right comes with an “if and only if” clause, but I’m going to […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi, Society

Readers Write In #7: Heist movies vs Demonetisation

January 31, 2017

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A person robs a huge sum of money at gunpoint and absconds to obscurity. Law and order is totally against this person, and every single cop starts an unending trail behind this mysterious robber. Eventually, He gets caught but his altruism prevails over the legal system and Constitution. He remains a mysterious enigma forever. Either […]

Readers Write In #6: An Unsuitable Boy

January 31, 2017

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Ramit Bajaj requested to open a thread on Karan Johar’s autobiography An Unsuitable Boy. Happy commenting. Also, if you have an idea — not covered in a review or column — that you’d like to discuss, do let me know. And, here’s the page from the book that talks about me:

Notes from the south

January 28, 2017

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Meandering thoughts on music based on a few recent happenings. When the Carnatic musician TM Krishna unveiled Chennai Poromboke Paadal a couple of weeks ago, it felt like the musical world’s answer to the fall of the Berlin Wall, facilitating a crossover between two hitherto separate realms. “Poramboke” refers to land set aside for communal […]