Guest Post: How Manikandan has revived an ancient art

December 4, 2016

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Continuing the series of posts written by others (see here), here’s one by Shyam Rahul, on the link between the religious epics and message movies. Reading Baradwaj Rangan’s take on Aandavan Kattalai, I was struck by this line …. “Entertainment that is about something, that says something – it’s the elusive grail Tamil filmmakers keep chasing. […]

“Kahaani 2.”… Despite a few slips, a first-rate piece of genre cinema

December 4, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Who is Durga Rani Singh? The name forms the subtitle of Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2, and it belongs to the character played by Vidya Balan – but who is she? Is she a construct from the last scenes of the earlier film, where the Balan character literally turned into an avenging Durga? Is she […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Interview: Thiagarajan Kumararaja

December 3, 2016

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Thiagarajan Kumararaja exploded on the movie scene with ‘Aaranya Kaandam’, which was festooned with raves by the few who saw it. And then he disappeared. Now, there are signs of a resurrection. In the midst of shooting his second film, he shoots the breeze with Baradwaj Rangan. Thiagarajan Kumararaja does not know if he is […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Surround the world…

December 3, 2016

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A mind-scrambling encounter with virtual reality at IFFI, Goa. Plus, an independent Tamil film. If you want to know what a virtual reality (VR) experience is like, Google up YouTube videos about people reacting to a VR rollercoaster experience. These are men and women inside a room, but screaming and flailing about as though they […]

“Maaveeran Kittu”… A drama with very little… drama

December 2, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… The title of Suseenthiran’s new film, Maaveeran Kittu, suggests a look at the life and times of the LTTE militant Sathasivam Krishnakumar, who was called Kittu. (This film’s protagonist, played by Vishnu Vishal, is even named Krishnakumar.) And while the broad beats of Suseenthiran’s story are similar – an arrest, a mysterious disappearance […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Saithan”… An unfocused, preposterous thriller

December 1, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… In the provocatively titled Saithan, Dinesh (Vijay Antony) is a software engineer who begins hearing voices. Is he hallucinating? Is he on drugs? Is he remembering a past life? His friends and family are spooked, and they search for a cure. Should they take him to a quack? Should they trust a doctor […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Taking a stand

December 1, 2016

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The Supreme Court’s ruling on the national anthem is yet another instance of the movies being a soft target for tokenistic measures. Why is it always the movies? Take smoking. There are many ways to bring down cigarette and liquor consumption. You can stop the sale of singles, force people to buy a pack every […]

Posted in: Cinema, Op-ed, Society

“Moh Maya Money”… A pretty decent slice of ‘domestic noir’

November 29, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… In Munish Bhardwaj’s Moh Maya Money, Ranvir Shorey plays a real-estate broker named Aman, one of the millions of middle-class men trying to escape middle-classness. But he doesn’t want to claw his way out. He wants a first-class flight ticket over the fence – hence the revelation that he’s been pocketing money from […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Communities of cinema

November 26, 2016

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Thoughts on a book on India’s film society movements, with a guest appearance by Jawaharlal Nehru. When was the first official film society movement started in India? Where? And why? If the answers intrigue you – 1940; Bombay; to expose budding Indian documentary filmmakers to the best documentaries in the world, so they could make […]

“Dear Zindagi”… Overlong, a tad simplistic, but buoyed by great performances

November 26, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… In a sense, Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi is a greatest-hits compilation of Alia Bhatt’s career. Bhatt’s character, Kaira, suffers from insomnia (we saw that in Shandaar). She has abandonment issues (Shandaar, Kapoor & Sons). She gets long scenes in which she dredges out a painful past from a repressed corner of her psyche […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Kavalai Vendam”… An awful mix of gross-out gags and romance

November 25, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Another week. Another story about a local boy and a so-way-out-of-his-league-she-may-as-well-be-Scarlett Johansson girl. Except, the director Deekay is ambitious. In these films, we usually get just the loosu ponnu. Kavalai Vendam gives us a loosu paiyan, a loosu amma, a loosu appa, a couple of loosu friends… The film is this year’s Raja […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

An inglourious wish list

November 19, 2016

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Idle (and admittedly wild) ruminations on Quentin Tarantino’s next two films, which he’s announced will be his last two films. At the Jerusalem film festival this year, in July, Quentin Tarantino announced that he would retire after making his tenth film, which meant he’d be making two more. If the number suggests he has made […]

“Force 2.”… A generic but decent-enough action entry

November 19, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… It must not be easy being John Abraham. It’s the Arnold Schwarzenegger problem, the Sylvester Stallone problem. When people approach you to carry a movie on your shoulders, they mean it literally. In Abhinay Deo’s Force 2, Abraham has to carry a car as well. At least, lift it from behind, in an imitation […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Kadavul Irukaan Kumaru”… Even by M Rajesh’s standards, terribly unfunny

November 18, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… If the Prime Minister, tomorrow, announces a surgical strike against filmmakers whose currency is no longer valid, may I propose M Rajesh’s name? I have never been a fan of this director. His films go on and on, and there’s no rhythm – fatal in a comedy. His latest film, Kadavul Irukaan Kumaru, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The Amateur’s Art #10 – “Naam” (Tamil)

November 17, 2016

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See here for what this series is about. This short is by Pradeep Kumar. Director’s note: It deals about the mind of a mentally ill child. It won best actors award and 2nd runner up in Cini bees national short film competition.

“Rock On II”… As needless sequels go, not entirely a waste of time

November 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… It took me a few listens to get into Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score for Rock On II. The music is somewhere between fantastic and forgettable – but that’s just another way of saying it’s the perfect background for chores. Like dicing carrots. Or doing the laundry. Or watching this movie. The songs are better on […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

A conversation with Karan Johar

November 12, 2016

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A new film. A new season of his guilty-pleasure TV show. And a new sense of liberation. Karan Johar talks. Baradwaj Rangan listens. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we’ve never seen a filmmaker like Karan Johar. It isn’t just the films, those unabashed celebrations of very pretty people in very pretty locations […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Vox un-populi?

November 12, 2016

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Musings on the media, post the bomb that just blew up in the United States. The recent events around Trump already seemed to have played out at movie theatres around Tamil Nadu, around the time the film Remo was released. The word around the rom-com, starring the young (and young-skewing) actor Sivakarthikeyan, was toxic. The […]

“Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada”… An underwhelming mishmash of genres

November 11, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Gautham Menon’s Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada is a mind-scrambling mix of genres – part romance, part road movie, part action thriller, part what-if-Michael-Corleone-came-to-Kollywood? The film begins with the admission that it is inspired by a moment from The Godfather – it turns out to be the moment at the hospital where Michael becomes a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

West side stories

November 5, 2016

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At the Jio MAMI film festival with vampiric mermaids, touchingly liberal Indians, a donkey laden with symbolism, an unusual gay pairing, a rape fantasy, and a sparklingly restored version of ‘Teesri Manzil’. This year’s Mumbai Film Festival played out differently. Usually, I flip through the catalogue and say, “I have to see this film. And […]