“Saamy 2.”… A terrific sequel idea that cries out for a more invested writer, a less ADD-ed filmmaker

September 25, 2018


Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/saamy-square-review-baradwaj-rangan-vikram-hari-tamil Despite the general crudeness of a Hari production, the first Saamy was built on a solid masala foundation. Our extra-judicial dispensers of punishment are usually commoners, with the cops on their tail. But what if a cop turned vigilante, someone who pardons (and even […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Readers Write In #50: Why the Baahubali movies failed in China

September 24, 2018


Vamsi: Your insight about wrong marketing seems very credible. That’s what i thought was the right takeaway from all that you said. I still don’t think Baahubali 2 had bad special effects, it just didn’t have grand stuff on a scale compared to LoTR or Avengers. I feel it’s about Scale than Quality. Ant-man won’t […]

“Ranam”… An existential thriller that needed more individuality, fewer Hollywood-isms

September 24, 2018


Spoilers ahead… R anam, written and directed by Nirmal Sahadev, is the latest entry in the subgenre called Prithviraj Makes a Hollywood Movie in Malayalam. The plot beats are pure Hollywood, beginning with a man (Aadhi, played by Prithviraj) whose nondescript day job (as an auto mechanic) hides the fact that he is affiliated to […]

Posted in: Cinema: Malayalam

“Laila Majnu”… An idiosyncratic take on the legend takes a while to soar, but it’s worth the wait

September 24, 2018


Spoilers ahead… Sajid Ali’s Laila Majnu (co-written with Imtiaz Ali) finds interesting ways to update the legend of the star-crossed lovers. It’s not just the electric guitars and smartphones, but the heroine who’s dressed in virgin-white — first as a schoolgirl, later as an angel — but is driven by hormones and profound impulsiveness. In […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Imaikkaa Nodigal”… A generic, barely watchable serial-killer thriller that squanders a great premise

September 20, 2018


Spoilers ahead… After an utterly generic (and quite terrible) first half, I practically gave up on R Ajay Gnanamuthu’s Imaikkaa Nodigal. The story has Anjali (Nayanthara, as a CBI officer who sports a Bulgari watch) on the trail of a serial killer who calls himself Rudra (Anurag Kashyap, unleashing his inner ham, as though imagining […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Every Mani Ratnam film, ranked

September 20, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/every-mani-ratnam-film-ranked-baradwaj-rangan/ To call Mani Ratnam a mainstream filmmaker is a bit redundant, because every (primarily) Tamil filmmaker is a mainstream filmmaker: Tamil cinema does not have an “art film” tradition, the way Malayalam or Bengali cinema has. But even within the mainstream, there are two ways to […]

‘My Life with James Dean’, ‘gay cinema’, and whether cinema should be classified as ‘gay’

September 20, 2018


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/my-life-with-james-dean-queer-gaze-and-whether-cinema-should-be-categorised-into-inclusive-labels-5216091.html/​ In the June 25 column, written on the occasion of Pride month, I wrote, “There are, of course, many filmmakers who are homosexual, but it’s interesting to explore whether this ‘gayness’ manifests itself in the films they make, and what really makes for a ‘gay film’. Is […]

“Manmarziyaan”… This lighter outing from Anurag Kashyap is still a ferocious, stream-of-consciousness narrative

September 18, 2018


Spoilers ahead… For the second time, after Dev.D, Anurag Kashyap tackles a love triangle — and Manmarziyaan, too, follows a Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay template, established in Swami (which became a 1977 film, with Shabana Azmi and Girish Karnad). A headstrong, liberated girl falls for a caddish youth, but gets married to a man with the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Readers Write In #49: The Portrayal of Disability in Indian Mainstream Cinema – Where’s the Nuance?

September 16, 2018


So, the husband and I were craving a good Tamil masala movie last night, and chanced upon the Suriya-starrer, “Thaana Serndha Kootam”. It seemed to have got decent reviews, and we went in expecting a light, fun watch. Half an hour and two fast-forwarded songs later (thank God for modern online watching. Can’t imagine having […]

50k subscribers

September 15, 2018


Almost exactly a year ago, we made the decision to branch off into a separate South channel. Today, we’ve crossed the 50,000 subscribers mark. A small milestone. A big thank-you.

“U Turn”… A focused, heroine-oriented mystery that’s mostly engaging

September 14, 2018


Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/u-turn-movie-review/ Pawan Kumar’s U Turn is a remake of his Kannada PSA-disguised-as-a-horror movie, and it contains many… U-turns. Let’s begin with the ostensible leading man, crime reporter Aditya (Rahul Ravindran). He has a thing for Rachana (Samantha), the intern at his office. But she’s the […]

Interview: Aishwarya Rajesh

September 14, 2018


Aishwarya Rajesh talks about TV serials and her entry into cinema with films like Pa Ranjith’s Attakathi. She talks about casting couch, about North Indian heroines and the opportunities they get. Despite performance-oriented roles like the ones in Dharma Durai (with Vijay Sethupathi) or Kaaka Muttai, she emphasises the need for glamorous roles opposite big stars […]

Running between films at Venice, Cannes, Berlin… Why put yourself through the festival grind?

September 13, 2018


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/running-between-films-at-venice-cannes-berlin-why-put-yourself-through-the-festival-grind-5175061.html​ At the Venice Film Festival, this year, I ran into Peter Bradshaw, chief film critic at The Guardian. We were in line for a press screening, and we were generally chatting about the films we liked and disliked. The topic shifted to the nature of film festivals, […]

“Seema Raja”… Sivakarthikeyan really tests his audience’s love for him in this overlong non-entertainer

September 13, 2018


Spoilers ahead… Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/seema-raja-review-baradwaj-rangan-tamil-movie/ In a recent interview to Film Companion, Sivakarthikeyan said, “Humour-driven films can be good cinema, and I don’t subscribe to the view that good cinema has to be serious.” Ironically, the star’s new film, Seemaraja, is his most serious yet. Oh, the jokes (or […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Subramaniya Bharati’s poetry in Tamil cinema

September 11, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/subramaniya-bharati-poetry-tamil-cinema-southern-lights-baradwaj-rangan The great Tamil poet, activist and social reformer died on September 11, 1921. Here are some of his songs that made it to the big screen. Had this been a literary web site, I would have used this occasion to talk about AR Venkatachalapathy’s Who Owns […]

FC @ Venice 11: New films from Zhang Yimou and ‘The Babadook’ director, plus ‘Soni’, a terrific Indian drama

September 8, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/fc-at-venice-2018-zhang-yimou-ying-jennifer-kent-the-nightingale-ivan-ayr-soni/ Zhang Yimou’s Ying (Shadow; Chinese) plays like an all-action, zero-psychology take on Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (which shared the Palme d’Or with Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival). The latter film was about a shadow warrior, a lookalike used as a body double […]

FC @ Venice 10: New films from the makers of ‘The Lives of Others’ and ‘Son of Saul’, plus ‘The Summer House’

September 7, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/fc-at-venice-2018-new-films-from-the-makers-of-the-lives-of-others-and-son-of-saul/ While talking about Vox Lux, director Brady Corbet presented an interesting view on the biopic. He said that imagining fictional characters as eyewitnesses of crucial events in history — or placing real-life personages in altered historical settings — is more useful than the traditional historical biography. […]

On the 20th death anniversary of Kurosawa, remembering his Golden Lion winner ‘Rashōmon’, and his only female-centric film

September 6, 2018


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/on-kurosawas-20th-death-anniversary-remembering-rashomon-and-his-only-female-centric-film-5128341.html/​ You’re lucky if you get one solid peg for an article. This one, about Akira Kurosawa, has two. First, it’s the 20th death anniversary of the great filmmaker – he died on September 6, 1998. Second, the Venice film festival is underway, and it’s a good time […]

FC @ Venice 9: Willem Dafoe as van Gogh, Natalie Portman in ‘Vox Lux’, plus ‘Acusada’

September 6, 2018


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/fc-at-venice-2018-willem-dafoe-as-van-gogh-natalie-portman-in-vox-lux-plus-acusada/ How many versions of the same story do we need? I saw Utøya 22.juli (U – July 22) at the Berlin Film Festival. The nerve-shredding thriller, directed by Erik Poppe, depicts a terrible chapter in Norway’s history, when a right-wing extremist set off bombs in the […]

Readers Write In #48: Clive’s Angels: Whitney and Phyllis, united in tragedy

September 5, 2018


I usually do not find biographical documentaries about celebrities very interesting to watch. I mean fairly contemporary figures here as opposed to long dead legends who offer fertile ground for historians. They have a tendency to tell us what we already know or, at least, can find out with not much effort and veer to […]