Browsing All Posts filed under »Culture«

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 […]

Art reorientation

November 13, 2015

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A colossal performing-arts space in South Korea hopes to establish the East as the centre of the cultural world.  One evening this September in Gwangju, South Korea, some 125 people watched Tishani Doshi and Shaji John slip into what seemed like a trance and demonstrate Chandralekha’s theories about “the geometry of the body.” The production, […]

I hate the idea that a critic is ‘reliable’…

October 31, 2015

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Baradwaj Rangan catches up with Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian’s chief film critic, who was at the Mumbai Film Festival mentoring future critics.  Do you think reviews are a kind of consumer report, or are they an art form? They’re certainly not a consumer report. I can’t say whether or not you will like a film. […]

About and around pop culture

August 29, 2015

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When it comes to writing about cinema, the bad films are as important as the good ones. “What makes you go watch this film despite knowing full well that it is nothing but trash?” Some version of this question crops up every time a critic reviews a “bad” movie. As subjective as the qualifier is, […]

In Salman, they trust

May 8, 2015

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A fascinating documentary shows us what Salman Khan means to an India that’s not quite shining. One of the more perplexing moments on Season Four of Koffee with Karan was when Salman Khan made an appearance – his first on the show – and declared, “I am a virgin.” He added that he was going […]

Caste and class in popular Tamil cinema

April 23, 2015

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Observing and interpreting class or caste markers in the discussion of a film isn’t the same as celebrating them. I co-wrote a screenplay some years ago, and we named the hero Rahul. We hadn’t thought about Rahul’s caste.  The only thing he was, in our minds, was young – and Rahul sounded like a young […]

Apples, oranges, and a lot of stale cheese

February 23, 2015

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If you want to know what was wrong with this year’s Oscar telecast, just Google up “2013 Tony Awards: Neil Patrick Harris Opening Number HD.” Now that is a show. There’s singing. There’s dancing. There’s acrobatics. He leaps through a hoop. And there’s magic – literal magic. Harris steps into a box on stage and […]

Us and Them

November 21, 2014

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With a new Pink Floyd album out, Baradwaj Rangan reflects on the band’s longstanding popularity with kids across college campuses in India. So Pink Floyd have a new album out. It’s called The Endless River, which sounds about right for a Pink Floyd album. It’s the kind of name the band is so fond of, […]

Master of Arts

October 17, 2014

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Kamal Haasan talks about how music came into his life. And dance. And everything else. Baradwaj Rangan listens. Forget the actor. That was the brief. After fifty years of acting, that’s the only facet of Kamal Haasan people think about. Sometimes, maybe, they think of Kamal Haasan the writer or Kamal Haasan the director. But […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “ ‘Impure’ Tamilians? ”

October 10, 2014

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The reviews for the Tamil film ‘Madras’ suggest that most English-language writers are divorced from a certain kind of reality. Pa Ranjith’s Madras is the work of a good, thoughtful filmmaker. It’s a supremely well-made film, but not especially well-written. The narrative superstructure is derivative, and Ranjith doesn’t do enough to make his film different. […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Book love in the time of cinema”

May 2, 2014

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On Márquez. On language. On books. On movies made from them. Such are the accelerated times we live in that I wondered, in a moment of panic, if this essay might be too late. It was spurred by the demise of Gabriel García Márquez on the afternoon of 17 April, a Thursday. But that was […]

Oscar fever!

March 1, 2014

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A day before the 86th Academy Awards, Baradwaj Rangan explains why the madness around the event will never abate. Last Monday, New York magazine’s web site featured an article that was titled And the Oscars Will Be Presented By, and went on to say, “In alphabetical order: Amy Adams, Kristen Bell, Jessica Biel, Jim Carrey, […]

Seeking unity in diversity

January 29, 2014

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In a country as diverse as ours, how do we prevent the ghettoisation of the regional film industries? Subtitles could be a start… When an Elizabeth Taylor or a Paul Newman dies, all of America grieves. One reason, of course, is that these stars belonged to a time when we had to go to the movies, like […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “And the loser is…”

January 24, 2014

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…Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose exquisitely frills-free performance in “Enough Said” didn’t stand a chance in front of Meryl Streep’s outrageous overacting. Looking at the Oscar nominations every year, you have to wonder if, in the Best Actress category, they basically check if Meryl Streep has had a movie that year, and if she has, then they […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Recycled pop-culture”

July 5, 2013

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Thoughts from a theatre legend that are as much about the movies… One of those Google jumps – that unfocused sport where you click on a link for something, and then click on a link on that page and go elsewhere, and wash, rinse, repeat – brought me to a wonderful conversation between Stephen Sondheim […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Hardboiled tweets”

February 8, 2013

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Thanks to social media, the world has become an even more unfair place. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Every time a major release ends up being savaged on social media, there rises a question about the fairness of it all. The points made by the filmmakers and their PR people are these: […]

The land of the unfree

February 3, 2013

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With every passing controversy, we’re learning to redefine our rights. This is the story of two YouTube videos. The first one came up bare hours before I sat down to write this, and it featured an actor, a producer, a director announcing to a media gathering that he was now homeless in every sense. His […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Tweet and lowdown”

May 11, 2012

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Celebrities on Twitter. Those poor little rich boys (and girls). The whole world against them and only their millions to cry into. To a Marvel Comics fan (and a fan of The Avengers), the only justifiable critical reaction to the film is to jump on a trampoline and chant “It’s awesome it’s awesome it’s awesome…” […]

The other Miss Koovagam

May 5, 2012

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Transgenders from all over Tamil Nadu – and some from outside – dress up, dance, and compete in a beauty contest that’s not the one you usually hear about. Behind a marriage hall in Villupuram – named, somewhat ironically, Sri Anjaneya, after a deity who opted to remain wifeless – I run into Shakila, a […]