The Amateur’s Art #17 – “Incogni2o” (Tamil)

April 29, 2017

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See here for what this series is about. This short is by Venkat Ramanan CS, his second, made for a college-level competition. It was made on a budget of Rs. 50, which was required for the ketchup bottle.

Readers Write In #15: The Forbidden Kiss

April 29, 2017

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It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold. I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was […]

“Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”… Less intriguing than Part I, but still a rousing, astonishing achievement

April 28, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/article/baahubali-2-the-conclusion-movie-review-baradwaj-rangan The war is over. Mahishmati awaits the coronation of its new king, Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas). But while peace may good for the country, it’s bad news for the screenwriter. For a while Baahubali: The Conclusion plods along a predictable path. It’s never boring. SS […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The old man and the hill

April 27, 2017

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A flashback to moments from the 2002 Kannada drama ‘Dweepa’, where the construction of a dam threatens an ancient way of life. Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/article/southern-lights-the-old-man-and-the-hill Only the lower gates of the dam have been closed, and already the water levels have climbed to half the height of the hill […]

“Sonata”… Shabana Azmi has loads of fun in a stilted, yet thought-provoking drama

April 26, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Shabana Azmi has been our go-to “serious actress” for so long that it’s easy to forget she was once cavorting around in Manmohan Desai movies and cat-fighting with Aruna Irani in Fakira. Aparna Sen’s Sonata, based on the Mahesh Elkunchwar play, rediscovers Azmi in that mode – she’s a delight as Dolon Sen, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu”… A wonderfully laidback stroll through the lives of small-towners obsessed with cricket

April 26, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/article/rakshadhikari-baiju-oppu-movie-review Watching Ranjan Pramod’s Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu (Patron Baiju’s Signature), I was filled with fury. First, we got the cigarette/alcohol warnings. Then, someone thought it was important to let us know that, say, the giant bull vanquished by Bhallala Deva in Baahubali was not, you […]

Posted in: Cinema: Malayalam

5 Filmmaking Tropes of Bala

April 24, 2017

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We’re beginning a new column in Film Companion, on important Tamil filmmakers. The author is Ram Chander, who comments on this blog. The first installment is about Bala. Read the full piece on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/article/5-filmmaking-tropes-of-bala During a rare television interview, while Bala shifted in his seat, the interviewer noticed some strange beads around his […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The Amateur’s Art #16 – “Idhayathin Iyakkangal” (Tamil, with English subs)

April 22, 2017

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See here for what this series is about. This short is by Arun Mahalingam, his first.

“Noor”… An uneasy mix of a “serious” film that’s problematic and a rom-com that’s fun

April 22, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Sunhil Sippy’s Noor is a strange film, and not necessarily in a bad way. For a while, it goes for a Hollywood-rom-com vibe that’s derivative (a fun visual language, non-stop bounce on the soundtrack) and yet reasonably diverting. It’s that whole Bridget Jones thing about being an overweight klutz, worried about one’s “wobbly […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Maatr”… An exploitation movie that’s single-minded, but has too few lurid kicks

April 22, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… For once, just once, I’d like to see a rape-themed film where the rapist isn’t a minister’s son. I know I’m treading on dangerous territory here, but aren’t there chartered accountants or barbers out there siring progeny with scant respect for women? The reason for this screenwriting cliché is, of course, that a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Nagarvalam”… Yet another riff on the “Kadhal” template, with lukewarm results

April 22, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/article/nagarvalam-movie-review Early on in Nagarvalam (Around the City), written and directed by Marxx, the hero’s friend (Balasaravanan) makes this comment about a neighbourhood: “Saayam pona undraayar maadhiri irukku.” (It looks like a faded undie.) You will not find these neighbourhoods in Hindi cinema. These people either. The […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Law and disorder

April 20, 2017

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A deep dive into moments from the 2010 Telugu political drama ‘Leader’, where an idealist becomes Chief Minister and sets out to eliminate corruption. I have a thing for idealistic dramas in which a newbie-politician changes the corrupt System. Shankar’s Mudhalvan (Tamil; Nayak in Hindi) is one. Sekhar Kammula’s Leader is another. The former (which […]

Readers Write In #14: Back to school

April 19, 2017

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“When you’re a little kid, you are a bit of everything-artist, scientist, athlete, scholar. Sometimes, it seems growing up is like a process of giving those things up, one by one.” – The Wonder Years. When you live in Besant Nagar and your school is in Mandavalli, the one hour trip on the school bus […]

“Sakhavu”… An idealistic, even simplistic political drama that nonetheless warms the heart

April 18, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: The nutshell version of Sidhartha Siva’s Sakhavu (Comrade) brings to mind Oru Mexican Aparatha, released barely a month ago. Both films are about Communism – more specifically, the before/after arc of a happy-go-lucky youth. And both films feature their leading man (Tovino Thomas there; Nivin […]

Posted in: Cinema: Malayalam

“Anaarkali of Aarah”… A very effective “no-means-no” story, with superb performances

April 16, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Swara Bhaskar bites into the role of a lifetime in Avinash Das’s Anaarkali of Aarah, and she’s gloriously crass, a world removed from the hushed metro-chic of modern-day Bollywood. Her clothes span the gamut of Holi colours – her makeup too. She’s a folk singer/dancer, which is in itself something of a novelty, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The Amateur’s Art #15 – “Uyiralapedai ” (Tamil, with English subs)

April 15, 2017

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See here for what this series is about. This short is by Lokesh Raghuraman N.

“Kadamban”… An eco-adventure tale that’s not entirely unwatchable

April 15, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: Avatar meets Lagaan in the Ragava-directed Kadamban (Protector). From the former, we get the story of an indigenous people – tribals from the village of Kadambavanam, high in the hills – being preyed on by greedy corporate-capitalists. (The villain is in the cement business. There’s […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Pa Paandi”… An uneven film whose flaws are overcome by a fine closing stretch

April 15, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: For the second time in as many weeks, we get a lead character that’s new to Tamil cinema. The protagonist of Pa Paandi, written and directed by Dhanush, is introduced like a ‘mass’ hero. The camera assumes his vantage as he strolls down his neighbourhood […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Begum Jaan”…

April 14, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Not watching ‘Begum Jaan’ for now, but here’s what I wrote about the original, ‘Rajkahini,’ after I caught it at the Chennai International Film Festival: A man behind me loved the dialogues in Srijit Mukherji’s intermittently powerful, eminently watchable period drama Rajkahini. He kept applauding. It’s the art-house equivalent of wolf whistles during […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The Dhanush interview

April 13, 2017

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My video interview with Dhanush for Film Companion. Copyright ©2017 Film Companion.