More than a few good women

October 1, 2016



‘Dil Chahta Hai’ is the ultimate male-bonding movie, but today, the females seem more fascinating. So Dil Chahta Hai turned 15 this year. It hasn’t aged all that well. That’s the thing about being such an embodiment of your era that mere English words cannot do justice to what you captured. You need something heftier, […]

“Parched”… A very well-acted film that hits hard, hits home

September 29, 2016



Spoilers ahead… Is Radhika Apte the best weeper on screen today? With other actresses, you hunt for a handkerchief to lend, a ladies’ room to usher them into. You worry about their makeup. With Apte, the emotion goes deeper, down to her core, and then it bursts out. You hunt for something to hold on […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Banjo”… Some nice touches cannot salvage a trite story

September 28, 2016



Spoilers ahead… In Banjo, Marathi director Ravi Jadhav proves, once again, that only regional filmmakers know their way around a “mass” movie. It isn’t just that the underprivileged banjo-playing hero (Taraat, portrayed by Riteish Deshmukh) is shown rising from a manhole, blackened with sewage, after rescuing a child that’s fallen in. It’s that his bathing […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Movies, memories and everything in between

September 24, 2016



Watching old films on the big screen is a form of travelling through time. Why don’t we have revival theatres? The US has them. Among the coming attractions at the Texas Theatre in Dallas is a screening of The Fly, to commemorate its 30th anniversary. The point isn’t that the film can be seen on […]

“Aandavan Kattalai”… Yet another marvellous comedy of desperation from Manikandan

September 23, 2016



Spoilers ahead… At the opening of Manikandan’s Aandavan Kattalai, these words flashed on screen: This film is meant to create awareness. My heart sank. The film is about debt-ridden Gandhi (Vijay Sethupathi), who, with the help of falsified documentation, attempts to get to London on a tourist visa, stay back, and make pots of gold. […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Thodari”… Given the names involved, shockingly inept

September 22, 2016



Spoilers ahead… With most films, a critic prepares for a dissection. With Thodari, it’s more of an autopsy. The film is dead on arrival. You come away with the impression that director Prabhu Solomon gives one hell of a story narration. What else can explain why an artist like Dhanush signed up, despite situations that […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The Amateur’s Art #6 – “Kadaladhigaaram” (Tamil, with English subs)

September 21, 2016



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

“Pink”… A solid courtroom drama that makes solid points about the way we treat women

September 19, 2016



Spoilers ahead… Had Pink been made in Hollywood, it would have been labelled “Oscar bait.” It makes all the right noises. The story is one that will launch a thousand op-ed pieces. In an echo of Shah Rukh Khan’s gesture, the leading man’s name appears after the names of the female actors. The cast makes […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Sadhuram 2.”… A ‘Saw’ redo that’s just not pukey enough

September 16, 2016



Spoilers ahead… The most curious aspect of Sadhuram 2 is the numeral in the title, which makes you wonder about Sadhuram 1. But that film is yet to be made. We are, thus, in the realm of Limca Records. Along with astonishing Indian feats like longest ear hair and fastest sentence typed by the nose, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The Amateur’s Art #5 – “Pollena Kathe” (Tulu, with English subs)

September 13, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Udayraj P J, “my graduation film inspired by Tulu folktales titled Pollena Kathe”

“Freaky Ali”… A silly, uneven comedy with a terrific Siddiqui

September 12, 2016



Spoilers ahead… The attraction of Freaky Ali is the prospect of seeing Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a movie that, in just its first half-hour, insults a lisping child, a wizened old man and an albino (“nakli angrez!”) – all set to a background score made up of cartoon noises, the sonic equivalent of the BIFF, POW, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Baar Baar Dekho”… A bland, but very pretty, time-travel romance

September 11, 2016



Spoilers ahead… There are films with eye candy. And then there are the Dharma films that deposit the eye at the confectionary store. Katrina Kaif is only the third most beautiful thing in Baar Baar Dekho, after her lavish Delhi home, whose lawns appear manicured by Toni & Guy, and Sidharth Malhotra. If I looked […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Irumugan”… Veers between just-about-watchable and inexplicably dull

September 8, 2016



Spoilers ahead… Sometimes, while watching a movie, I’ll end up thinking: ‘But Kamal Haasan has done this before!’ It’s possibly a couple of things. One, Kamal’s films are so unique, so ahead of their time, that they become the template for a certain kind of movie. Two, present-day filmmakers have grown up worshipping these films, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The Amateur’s Art #4 – “The Robbery” (English)

September 7, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Thulasidasan Jeewaratinam. 

“Akira”… Can’t hold a candle to the original

September 3, 2016



Spoilers ahead… To know the kind of filmmaker AR Murugadoss is, you only need the scene from Akira (a mostly faithful remake of the Tamil sleeper hit Mounaguru), where the victim of an acid attack sees herself in the mirror after her bandages come off. The people around her – family, friends – don’t make […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Conversations with Mahesh Bhatt

September 3, 2016



This April, at this event, I was invited to converse with Mahesh Bhatt about Smita Patil. It took a while, but the video is finally here. Really enjoyed the conversation. Hope you do too.

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi, Personal

“Kutrame Thandanai”… Carefully, thoughtfully made, but something’s missing

September 2, 2016



Spoilers ahead… The title of Manikandan’s new film – Kutrame Thandanai (Crime is Punishment) – may appear to knock on Dostoevsky’s door, but the film owes more to Alfred Hitchcock and Rear Window. At least for a while. The opening scenes are set in a crowded tenement complex, and we observe the goings on from […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kidaari”… Needed fewer sickles, more suspense

September 2, 2016



Spoilers ahead… If you’ve wondered what the archetypal Agatha Christie whodunit would look like if transplanted into Sattur soil, you have your answer in Prasath Murugesan’s Kidaari. The film begins with big shot Kombiah (Vela Ramamurthy) stabbed in the neck. He cannot scream for help. His bloodied hands reach for something he can make a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

The Amateur’s Art #3 – “Uruvagam” (Tamil)

August 30, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Harish Sampath. Here is a note from the filmmaker: Making a short film is a very enjoyable as well as a tedious process, but when you make your first short film the enjoyable factor somehow disappears, Getting the right team was the biggest […]

The Amateur’s Art #2 – “Agadiyam” (Tamil)

August 26, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Venkatesh Venkataraman. Best wishes.