“Thani Oruvan”… A pretty smart, pulpy thriller

August 28, 2015

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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