“Thani Oruvan”… A pretty smart, pulpy thriller

August 28, 2015



Spoilers ahead… When we first meet Mithran (Jayam Ravi), he’s just the best cop ever. He knows exactly where to be, what to do, whom to shadow – it’s like he can do no wrong. And then he meets his match in Siddharth Abhimanyu (Aravind Swamy, underplaying nicely). Siddharth gets a terrific introduction. I’m not […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

How I read

August 27, 2015



Or maybe this essay should be titled how I don’t. At least not the way I used to, eyes glued to the page. What a funny thing to say. It’s funnier to think of it literally, as though if I nodded off, I’d wake up with a book for a face. Anyway, that’s how we […]

“All Is Well”… Uh, not really!

August 23, 2015



Spoilers ahead… All Is Well loses very little time telling us that the title is a lie. The film opens with a performance by a singer named Inder Bhalla (Abhishek Bachchan). The actor is stiff – he looks like a Citibank employee in the middle of a PowerPoint presentation. It’s hard to see who’s buying […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The one-for-all channel

August 22, 2015



Doordarshan Chennai turned 40 recently, which is as good an excuse as any to talk about what Doordarshan meant and what it means today. This Independence Day, I was thinking about Doordarshan. In the late 1970s and early 80s – that’s when many of us got a television set, something that resembled a crate with […]

“Manjhi: The Mountain Man”… A molehill of a movie

August 22, 2015



Spoilers ahead… In 1960, a Dalit from a village in Bihar sold his last goat and, with the money, purchased a hammer and a chisel. He then headed to the nearby mountain and began chipping away at it. He kept at it for twenty-two years and ended up clearing a path through it, and now, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Veerapandiya Kattabomman”… Much more than just that one scene

August 21, 2015



Spoilers ahead… It’s the film that fuelled a thousand acting dreams. For generations, Veerapandiya Kattabomman isn’t the story of a brave king brought down by the British. It’s essentially a single scene – the scene in which Kattabomman (Sivaji Ganesan, who’s beyond magnificent) gives Lord Jackson the chaste-Tamil equivalent of a giant, upraised middle finger. […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Brothers”… A melodrama that fails to make us feel

August 21, 2015



Spoilers ahead… The Macbeth quote, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, could have been coined for Karan Malhotra’s cinema. As with his earlier Agneepath, his new film Brothers is immaculately mounted – some of the frames could be hung in the living room of the Dil Dhadakne Do family. But there’s a big […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Vaalu”… A not-bad star-dispensing machine

August 17, 2015



Spoilers ahead… It’s pure formula. The primary ingredient is the hero (Simbu) who’s a “Plus-Two fail.” An aside may be necessary at this point: How strange that on the one hand we celebrate a Sundar Pichai while on the other our heroes positively revel in their lack of education. The hero’s name is Sharp, and […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Common men, uncommon stories

August 15, 2015



On the eve of the release of ‘Manjhi – The Mountain Man’, Baradwaj Rangan traces the journey of our biopics, which are no longer just about larger-than-life achievers. It all began in 1959, when a landless Bihari from the Musahar community, a scheduled caste that traditionally made a living as rat catchers, decided to make […]

On Cruise control

August 15, 2015



Celebrating the “Mission: Impossible” films. And their star. Sometime last week, Shah Rukh Khan managed to combine, in a single tweet, escapist cinema, Victorian literature and what sounded like the motto of your local gym: “Ethan Hunt & James Bond in one film….that’s my Final Fantasy…then as Thomas Hardy wrote…. ‘I can pass away and […]

“Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga”… Where are the laughs?

August 14, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Let me begin by mimicking a Santhanam routine. I’ll say, “Let’s grab a drink,” and you’ll say, “Well, hurry, don’t crawl like a crab,” and then I’ll say, “Maybe we’ll have rum,” and you’ll say, “Don’t speak like your mum,” and I’ll say, “Oh look, my shirt is without a button,” and you’ll […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The work-life seesaw

August 12, 2015



I encountered this Alain de Botton quote in an article recently and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: Work-life balance is impossible because everything worth fighting for unbalances your life. It’s so true. If you’re fighting for something at work (more visibility, a bigger pay cheque), then you’re going to have to do […]

Posted in: General, Personal, Society

“Bangistan”… A religious satire that’s… God-awful!

August 8, 2015



Spoilers ahead… If the Harold and Kumar team decided to remake Padosi, V Shantaram’s 1941 plea for religious tolerance, you might have something like Bangistan – it’s a give-peace-a-chance stoner comedy with an explosive climax right out of the older movie. Here too, a Hindu and a Muslim, so far on opposing sides, realise the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

A daylong duet

August 8, 2015



Thoughts on a beautiful (and near-wordless) Bengali movie that won a couple of National Awards this year (Best First Film, Best Audiography). In the last week, approximately 1200 people have lost their jobs in West Bengal. In a state of fear, panic and rage, people are taking to the streets to rally and protest. The […]

“Chandi Veeran”… A disappointingly generic drama

August 7, 2015



Spoilers ahead… As Chandi Veeran opens, enraged men brandishing weapons descend on a village and all hell breaks loose. A bomb explodes under a woman and her young daughter – they fly into the air and land charred, dead. A few feet away, a man lies splayed on the ground, his face bisected by a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Sakalakala Vallavan”… How do you say ‘trash’ in Tamil?

August 3, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Sakalakala Vallavan, directed by Suraaj, belongs to the genre I like to call the “whoosh movie.” Every edit is accompanied by a whoosh on the soundtrack. The idea is to give the impression that something is happening all the time – and if nothing is happening, if it’s just a simple edit taking […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Idhu Enna Maayam”… Fascinating premise, but the film’s a mess

August 3, 2015



Spoilers ahead… The opening scene of Vijay’s Idhu Enna Maayam reminded me of the younger Kamal Haasan character’s quip to his girlfriend in Indian. He says they should go to a theatre playing Schindler’s List – it’s a very good film, so there’ll be no one in the audience and they can do what they […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

A lover, a model and a nose

August 1, 2015



Remembering ‘jhankaar beats,’ the nineties, and ‘Aashiqui,’ which turned 25 this July. If you were the cassette-buying type in 1990, you probably remember this image. A white background with horizontal, equidistant lines – like a page from a ruled notebook. A boy and a girl in what appears to be an embrace – only, we […]

“Orange Mittai”… A fairly affecting road movie-cum-drama

July 31, 2015



Spoilers ahead… You may know Ramesh Thilak as the sidekick from films like Soodhu Kavvum. He’s the guy who looks like Prabhu Deva’s long-lost younger brother. Orange Mittai, directed by Biju Viswanath, is his coming-out party. He plays an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) named Sathya, and the film gets going when he responds to a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Masaan”… Worth every bit of the Cannes hype

July 28, 2015


richa masaan

Spoilers ahead… I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Neeraj Ghaywan’s  Masaan since I saw it a few nights ago. For one, it’s astoundingly good – dreamy and textured and with powerfully understated images that refuse to fade away. Reciprocated love is shown through two red balloons rising into the night. Boys dive into a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

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