Browsing All Posts filed under »Screening Room«

May the formula be with you

December 24, 2016

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As ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ demonstrates – and ‘Rogue One’ doesn’t – clichés aren’t a problem as long as the film adds up to more. Two questions kept running through my mind as I numbly sat through Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Is it possible, anymore, to make a Star Wars movie that truly surprises us? […]

Notes on song-and-dance cinema

December 17, 2016

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Musings on ‘La La Land’, a musical film that leaves us with thoughts about the musical genre. There’s a stunning stretch in Damien Chazelle’s La La Land – which I caught at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival, on a gorgeous big screen, in a theatre that looked like a la la land itself, with […]

Communities of cinema

November 26, 2016

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Thoughts on a book on India’s film society movements, with a guest appearance by Jawaharlal Nehru. When was the first official film society movement started in India? Where? And why? If the answers intrigue you – 1940; Bombay; to expose budding Indian documentary filmmakers to the best documentaries in the world, so they could make […]

An inglourious wish list

November 19, 2016

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Idle (and admittedly wild) ruminations on Quentin Tarantino’s next two films, which he’s announced will be his last two films. At the Jerusalem film festival this year, in July, Quentin Tarantino announced that he would retire after making his tenth film, which meant he’d be making two more. If the number suggests he has made […]

Vox un-populi?

November 12, 2016

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Musings on the media, post the bomb that just blew up in the United States. The recent events around Trump already seemed to have played out at movie theatres around Tamil Nadu, around the time the film Remo was released. The word around the rom-com, starring the young (and young-skewing) actor Sivakarthikeyan, was toxic. The […]

West side stories

November 5, 2016

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At the Jio MAMI film festival with vampiric mermaids, touchingly liberal Indians, a donkey laden with symbolism, an unusual gay pairing, a rape fantasy, and a sparklingly restored version of ‘Teesri Manzil’. This year’s Mumbai Film Festival played out differently. Usually, I flip through the catalogue and say, “I have to see this film. And […]

Pretty pictures

October 22, 2016

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On the great shallow pleasures of gawking at beautiful people on screen, and the problems when they pretend they’re otherwise. When the minute-and-a-half teaser for Karan Johar’s upcoming Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was released in August, I froze at the thirty-second mark, the point where Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, in a salmon-pink coat, turns to the […]

Effect and cause

October 15, 2016

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‘Placebo,’ the “AIIMS students” documentary recently released on Netflix, is as much about the filmmaker as those being filmed. “I want to look thin. I’ve always had the image of skinny me, swimming through a swimming pool.” If I hadn’t seen Abhay Kumar’s documentary, Placebo, if I’d just read these words on a page like […]

Analysis, critical!

October 8, 2016

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Social media may not have killed the film critic, but it has definitely changed the business of film criticism. In a panel discussion at the Indywood Film Carnival, held in Hyderabad last week, I was asked about the impact of social media on critics. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question. It […]

More than a few good women

October 1, 2016

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‘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, […]

Movies, memories and everything in between

September 24, 2016

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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 […]

Box-office blues

August 6, 2016

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Thoughts on a summer season where a new ‘Star Trek’ movie or a new Spielberg movie no longer guarantees a blockbuster. Early on in the new Star Trek movie, Captain Kirk is in an existential funk. It’s the third (or maybe fourth) year of a five-year mission, and life on the Starship Enterprise has become […]

How do you solve a problem like Rajini?

July 30, 2016

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Reflections on the week leading up to “Kabali,” and questions about the years ahead. After the deafening hype, Rajinikanth’s Kabali opened bookings last week, and this created a fresh round of hype. People were glued to their computer (or phone) screens, waiting for theatres to announce show timings. Usually, most theatres open bookings on the […]

Deconstructing Woody

July 23, 2016

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Thoughts on Woody Allen as he completes half a century as filmmaker. And why ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’ is his defining film. It’s hard to believe, today, that What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, Woody Allen’s first film as director, began with a series of James Bondian action scenes (flamethrowers! murderous discs with serrated edges!). Harder to believe […]

The games city people play

July 16, 2016

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The recent Malayalam drama ‘Ozhivudivasathe Kali’ is the latest in a line of films that involve game-playing in the wilderness. I caught Ozhivudivasathe Kali (An Off-day Game), Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s acclaimed Malayalam drama, when it was released in Chennai last week. The story is set during an election day, a dry day, and it’s about […]

Wakao!

July 2, 2016

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A bit of a rant about how we keep dusting off the same set of “greatest hits” every time we want to remember a composer. It was RD Burman’s 77th birthday last Monday. Google honoured the composer with a doodle. Behind an illustration of RD that made him look like a round-faced schoolboy, there were […]

Crime does pay

June 24, 2016

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On the tenth anniversary of ‘Pudhupettai,’ a look at other antihero films and what made this one special. The anti-hero has always been a prominent presence in Tamil cinema, but he usually came with a “but only because.” Sivaji Ganesan, in Andha Naal, took to selling Indian secrets to Japan, but only because his big […]

If rushes were horses

June 18, 2016

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The ‘Udta Punjab’ verdict fills me with enough hope to draw up a laundry list of wishes for our cinema. The next time a demand for a ban comes up, I wish we’d remember the Udta Punjab verdict. I wish we’d stop being blackmailed by cultural policemen about the content in cinema. Most of us […]

What do you do for an encore?

June 11, 2016

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Thoughts on ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ and sequel fatigue. J upiter Ascending, the sci-fi mega-flop from 2015, left me with quasi-philosophical thoughts. Had it actually been a good movie, these thoughts would have come from inside it, from what it’s about, from how it’s been made – but these were outside thoughts. I […]

Village people

May 28, 2016

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Thoughts on ‘Thithi’, a small film with big buzz and bigger ambitions. The burden of expectation can sometimes be too much for a small film. Raam Reddy’s Kannada directorial debut Thithi won last year’s National Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada, which seems just about right. When we think “National Award-winning film,” we think […]