“Ghayal Once Again”… Good, old-fashioned, masala mayhem

February 7, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Sometimes you wonder why a movie struck such a chord. Ghayal had nothing new by way of plot. Even within the Sunny Deol-verse, Dacait had the same rage-against-the-System narrative arc, and before that, Arjun. But something clicked with Ghayal. Maybe the action felt new. Maybe it was Sunny Deol discovering how to deliver […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Those makers of magic

February 6, 2016

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Christian Bale plays Michael Burry in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

In the third Oscar-season piece, a look at the directors. Just how mad is Oscar madness? I’m not talking about the ceremony that’s a few weeks away. That’s so… 2016. I’m talking about the fact that, on January 27, vulture.com, the pop-culture web site of New York magazine, published a feature titled “Which Sundance Films […]

“Bangalore Naatkal”… A faithful, warm, fun remake

February 6, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… When they announced a Tamil remake of Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days, I wondered how they’d pull it off. Because the biggest strength of the film is its warm embrace of the polarities that make urban Indians tick. The fact that we slip easily between local tongues and English. The fact that we like […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Saahasam”… A dull, empty vanity project

February 6, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Watching Saahasam – aka Prashanth’s attempt to prove he’s still relevant, by dancing and romancing and stopping moving cars with his fists (he plays a happy-go-lucky “youth” named Ravi)  – I kept thinking it can’t be easy being the dialogue writer for a masala movie. You’re expected to give every line a… punch. I’m […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Visaranai”… A powerful, chilling drama about how the System toys with us

February 5, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… The ancient Greeks probably had it right. According to them, gods were power-hungry pleasure-seekers who got their kicks by toying with human lives. It’s a fancy way of saying shit happens – but how else to explain away the mind-boggling randomness of, say, the recent floods in Chennai? Or the plight of the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 / Mastizaade”… Sophomoric smut

February 4, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… The Kya Kool Hain Hum movies pride themselves on their wit – all fifty per cent of it. (You can imagine the writing team in T-shirts that say “The penis mightier than the sword.”) So in the manner of the Hindi film hero who puts up with whiplashes because Nirupa Roy is tied […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The women in waiting

January 30, 2016

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More Oscar-season talk. This week, about the actresses. I know people are going on about the lack of diversity at this year’s Oscars – as opposed to all those other years when people of colour hogged all the nominations, resulting in howls of protests from the whites – but the real scandal may be that […]

“Irudhi Suttru / Saala Khadoos”… A heart-warming boxing drama

January 29, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… There’s a sly joke in Irudhi Suttru about the Kollywood (and indeed, the Tamil) tendency to bestow titles and nicknames, put up cut-outs and banners, transform the most ordinary of events into a combination of Pongal, Deepavali and the Superstar’s birthday. The utterly ordinary event, here, is the return of Hissar-based boxing coach […]

After-effects of an award

January 27, 2016

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With Rajinikanth’s Padma Vibhushan, the North is finally seeing what the Superstar is all about. Baradwaj Rangan reports. “Hey Ram! Is it raining?” These were the first words out of Mrs. Sharma’s mouth when she opened the door and saw her husband, soaked from head to toe. Mr. Sharma didn’t reply. She looked past him and […]

A bit of bragging

January 26, 2016

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I’m beyond-beyond-beyond thrilled that my blurb for Anand Pandian’s excellent book, “Reel World: On Location in Kollywood”, is featured alongside one by Walter Murch, the legendary sound designer and editor, whose film work includes The Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now, and The English Patient. Flipkart link for the book: https://tinyurl.com/hvkphqd Copyright ©2016 Baradwaj Rangan. This article […]

Posted in: Personal

“Airlift”… A fine mix of Western understatement and Indian heart

January 24, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… In August 1990, when Iraqi forces took over Kuwait, Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) discovered that he had to get out with his wife Amrita (a lipstick-happy Nimrat Kaur) and little daughter. But instead of buying three one-way tickets – a matter of loose change for this business tycoon; he’d just have to sell, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

All signs point to Leo

January 23, 2016

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In the year of DiCaprio, some thoughts on acting and this year’s Oscar for Best Actor. One moment during this year’s Golden Globes left me misty-eyed. It was when an actor, long overlooked, took home a prize. Clearly, others in that glitzy hall felt the way I did, for they gave the actor a standing […]

“Moondraam Ullaga Por”… An imaginative premise, that’s about it

January 22, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… It’s 2025. Things look slightly different. The handheld devices, for instance, have a holographic quality. But The Hindu still looks the same – there’s even the same masthead. And Tamil film heroes still behave the same way. Take Saravanan (Sunil Kumar), the Indian soldier who’s been captured by the Chinese and is being […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Chalk n Duster”… Stuff N Nonsense

January 20, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… In the innocuously titled Chalk N Duster, director Jayant Gilatar sets out to add a new villain to the pantheon. Gabbar Singh. Mogambo. Dr. Dang. And now, Kamini (Divya Dutta). Don’t be fooled by the fact that she’s the headmistress of a high school. In her quest to make the school “No. 1,” […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Rajini Murugan”… A lazy comedy saved somewhat by its star

January 18, 2016

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Keerthi Suresh and Sivakarthikeyan in Rajini Murugan Movie Stills

Spoilers ahead… When you ask young actors why they keep making the same kind of movie, they’ll say they want to establish themselves first, with these “safe films” – but here’s the rub. Once you’ve established yourself, once you’ve become the brand ambassador for a certain kind of movie, once you know this is what people […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Gethu”… A stylish but empty thriller

January 18, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Now that Santhanam’s star is on the wane, Udhayanidhi Stalin must have been in a fix about his forthcoming film. “Why not try action?” someone must have said. Hence, Gethu, which begins with a sniper (Vikranth) in Leh. I didn’t get his name. Wikipedia says it’s David Christopher. It doesn’t matter. He could […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Mad visuals and melodrama

January 16, 2016

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Shots from "Mia Madre"

Brief notes from the 13th Chennai International Film Festival. Where are the great images? I kept asking this question during this year’s edition of the Chennai International Film Festival, usually a December fixture in the city’s cultural calendar but postponed a month due to the floods. When I say “great images,” I’m not talking about […]

“Thaarai Thappattai”… Warmed-over Bala, but still worthwhile

January 15, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Why doesn’t Bala make comedies? His obsession with bloodbaths may suggest he has one of the most twisted minds in the industry – it’s a wonder he’s not yet been snapped up as a consultant by the people who run Hell, to design increasingly vivid tortures. But his mind is also one of […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kathakali”… A fairly watchable thriller

January 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… If Murder on the Orient Express were set on land and made into a masala movie, it might resemble Pandiraj’s Kathakali. The film is a whodunit centred on this question: Who killed the gangster Thamba (Madhusudhan Rao)? We know it’s not Amudhan, because this part is played by Vishal, the hero – or […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Azhagu Kutti Chellam”… Seriously amateurish, but a notch better than ‘Pasanga 2’

January 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Normally, I wouldn’t have written about Azhagu Kutti Chellam. It would have been one of those films I saw just because the job demands it – maybe you’ll have to refer back to it someday while writing about another movie, or maybe there’s an actor in a small role who shows promise. But […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil
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