Browsing All Posts filed under »Film Festivals«

Prithvi Konanur’s superb ‘Hadinelentu (Seventeeners)’ opened the Indian Panorama section at IFFI; it’s about a leaked sex tape, and is a scalpel-sharp dissection of caste

November 25, 2022


Spoilers ahead… I was riveted by this story about a Brahmin boy and a Dalit girl. It’s like watching a gut-churning Asghar Farhadi melodrama filmed in Michael Haneke’s detached CCTV- style. Hari and Deepa (Neeraj Mathew and the excellent Sherlyn Bhosale) are Class XII students. They find an empty classroom, have sex, and record it […]

Amartya Bhattacharya’s ‘Adieu Godard’, in Odia and English, is a repository of Godardian playfulness: in terms of form as well as content

September 13, 2022


Spoilers ahead… The film’s most beautiful thought is that art has the power to move you, even if it’s an art you’ve never been exposed to. Sometimes, if you give it a chance, the connect just happens.  There’s one distinguishing trait about Ananda (Choudhury Bikash Das), who looks like he is in his sixties or […]

Shishir Jha’s ‘Tortoise Under the Earth’ is a moving document of the Santhal-speakers in Jharkhand, whose lives are being displaced by uranium-mining companies.

April 4, 2022


Spoilers ahead… Will these oral traditions and songs exist after the people leave their homes and become anonymous labourers in the nearest city? That is the big question that hangs over the film. Shishir Jha’s directorial debut, Tortoise Under the Earth, is in the Santhali language spoken in the Jharkhand area. (Shishir is also the […]

The fascinating ‘Kayattam’ (Manju Warrier) finds Sanal Kumar Sasidharan in an experimental mode, pursuing a woman of mystery

September 29, 2021


Spoilers ahead… If transcribed, you can read the text here: Copyright ©2021 Film Companion.

Nithin Lukose’s powerful ‘Paka’, world-premiering at Toronto Intl. Film Festival, pushes Romeo and Juliet to the background and brings the violence to the fore

September 15, 2021


Spoilers ahead… The English title of Paka is River Of Blood and it’s evident from the very first scene. An old man dives into a river to retrieve the body of a young man and nobody knows how he died. One of the many, many jokes in this movie is that all the expert divers are old men — […]

Leena Manimekalai’s ‘Maadathy’, on Neestream, is a powerful social-horror story about a Dalit girl

June 24, 2021


Spoilers ahead… Text: The story of Leena Manimekalai’s Maadathy is almost folkloric in its simplicity, but if the final scenes remind you of The Shining, it may be no accident. The film, billed “an unfairy tale”, is really a horror story — about a subsection of Dalits in southern Tamil Nadu, called Puthirai Vannaar. As the name suggests, they are […]

Hasyam: Jayaraj fashions a comic masterpiece that revolves around death

March 22, 2021

3 This is a very funny film, and the “humour” rests on a couple of existential questions. One is that life is absurd. We have to laugh if we want to get through it. Spoilers ahead… The amusingly named Japan (Harisree Ashokan) has a very matter-of-fact approach to death. In an early scene, he says […]

Céline Sciamma, Jacqueline Lentzou, and the other women with films at the Berlinale

March 6, 2021

0 Five of the eighteen titles that will compete for the Golden Bear, are directed or co-directed by women. A look at ‘Petite Maman’, ‘Moon, 66 Questions’, ‘Ballad of a White Cow’. Spoilers ahead… I’ll begin with a shout-out to the web site It was founded in 2007, and it “educates, advocates, and agitates […]

Luiz Bolognesi’s ‘The Last Forest’, playing at the Berlinale, takes us to the Yanomami tribe in the Amazon basin

March 5, 2021

0 This is a record of a rapidly vanishing home. In 1986, the discovery of gold deposits led to an invasion by 45000 prospectors and the death of 1500-1800 natives. Spoilers ahead… In Ex Pajé (2018), filmmaker and anthropologist Luiz Bolognesi captured the spirit, the essence, the modern-day conflicts of the Paiter Suruí, an indigenous […]

Hong Sangsoo’s ‘Introduction’ is at once wispy and profound, like eavesdropping on the universe

March 5, 2021

0 Plus, the boarding-school mystery, ‘Brother’s Keeper’. And the marvellously titled ‘Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn’. Spoilers ahead… In the opening scene of Hong Sangsoo’s Introduction, a man is praying. He says he will do anything. He will give up half his wealth, give it to an orphanage even, if God gives him one […]

Kuthiraivaal, directed by Manoj Jahson and Shyam Sunder: A surreal experience about the multiple selves we inhabit, with Kalaiyarasan and Anjali Patil

March 4, 2021

0 This Pa Ranjith production, being screened at the Berlin Critics’ Week, is too literal. It’s also a fascinating attempt to put psychoanalytic theory on film. Spoilers ahead… In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a man wakes up to find that he’s transformed into a giant bug. There are echoes of this classic story in Kuthiraivaal, a Pa […]

Berlinale Talents participant Tathagata Ghosh: ‘Through my films I try to freeze the rapidly changing corners of rural Bengal’

March 3, 2021

0 113 women, 84 men and 8 who preferred to not state their gender — 205 film professionals in all, from 65 countries — have been chosen for Berlinale Talents. An interview with Tathagata Ghosh from Kolkata, one of the nine Indian talents selected for the programme. Spoilers ahead… Tathagata Ghosh, director and screenwriter, gained […]

Berlinale 2021: Ted K tells the story of the Unabomber as a demented eco-activist

March 3, 2021

0 If someone told you what ‘Taste’ was about, you may think of Zakariya Mohammed’s ‘Sudani from Nigeria’: a footballer from the African nation ends up in Asia… Spoilers ahead… While watching Tony Stone’s Ted K – as in, Ted Kaczynski, as in, the Unabomber (played by an excellent Sharlto Copley) – I kept thinking […]

Berlinale 2021: A lament for a lost festival experience

March 1, 2021

1 Cannes has the Riviera and Venice has the water scooters. But Berlin has the cold that someone from Chennai so desperately craves. Spoilers ahead… A fter that rather dramatic headline, let me clarify that the lament is not about Berlinale 2021 going online. The pandemic has opened up something akin to what social media […]

Dekel Berenson’s superb short film ‘Anna’ sheds light on the “love tours” industry in Ukraine

February 27, 2021

0 This 15-minute film is about: meat. Rather, women treated as meat, ready to be picked up by American men who want someone to cook and clean. Spoilers ahead… The first scene of Anna, a 2019 short film written and directed by Dekel Berenson, is about two people inside a meat fridge. One’s a man, a […]

Nilanadukkam, by Balaji Vembu Chelli: A fascinatingly original take on our scoop-addicted media era

February 27, 2021

0 The hallucinatory film has its India premiere at the Arthouse Asia Film Festival in Kolkata.  The earthquake of the title is both a metaphor as well as an actual calamity. Spoilers ahead… Nilanadukkam! An earthquake! How sensational the term sounds! What a scoop it could be for a journalist who happens to be in […]

Seththumaan: Thamizh makes an impressive directorial debut with a quietly shattering drama, produced by Pa Ranjith

February 16, 2021

3 The nuanced writing in ‘Seththumaan’ (meaning “pig”, like the title of Nagraj Manjule’s ‘Fandry’) weaves in a lot, from Ramnath Kovind to the caste-politics of food. Spoilers ahead… The time is 2017. The place is a village in western Tamil Nadu. Through newspapers and radio, a victorious and empowering Dalit story plays out: the […]

Don Palathara’s fascinating Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam, with Rima Kallingal and Jitin Puthanchery, is both familiar and new

February 13, 2021

0 This time, we have a “plot”, and characters who talk a lot. But the aesthetic is as rigorous as in the director’s earlier work. The camera, for instance, is “locked in” throughout Spoilers ahead… When speaking of a filmmaker as distinctive as Don Palathara, the latest work becomes a part of a continuum — […]

Uberto Pasolini’s ‘Nowhere Special’ is having its Indian premiere at the International Film Festival of Kerala

February 13, 2021

1 This tale of a dying father trying to get his little boy adopted is moving without being melodramatic. Spoilers ahead… At some level, John (James Norton) is the bestest dad ever. That’s what his four-year-old, Michael (Daniel Lamont), might say. John combs Michael’s hair for lice. John reads Michael a bedtime story, very patiently, […]

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Churuli makes us walk the tightrope between mind-blown and mind-fucked

February 12, 2021

4 Usually films come full-circle. But here, it’s like a hypnotist’s wheel. From the centre-point of the inciting incident, the narrative (and your head) spins further and further away into an unending whirlpool. Spoilers ahead… The one thing you can say for sure about Lijo Jose Pellissery: he doesn’t do ordinary. The closest he came […]