“Titli”… A sharp portrait of family traps and flights to freedom

November 4, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Violent films usually invite us to take off our politically correct hats and indulge our inner atavists. The spurts of blood in the work of Scorsese and Tarantino are like the money shots in porn films – we get off on them. There’s a very different kind of violence in Kanu Behl’s Titli […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The heart will go on, and on, and on…

October 31, 2015



Thoughts on a Malayalam documentary (and the movie it inspired) about star-crossed lovers who rival Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Ambikapathy-Amaravathi… Why do we love love stories so much? I’m talking about the genre, which we never seem to tire of. When Ram Gopal Varma made Satya and Company, we raved about them, but when his follow-ups were […]

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

October 31, 2015



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. […]

Posted in: Cinema, Culture

A subtler magician

October 24, 2015



The superb new Spielberg movie is a showcase for the superb new Spielberg. In a recent interview with deadline.com, Guillermo del Toro – whose entertaining throwback to Gothic horror, Crimson Peak, is in theatres now – spoke of his admiration for Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. “It’s preternaturally nimble with such grace in […]

“Sivappu”… Not dismissible, but not much more either

October 23, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Sivappu, directed by Sathyashiva, begins with some tight writing. A construction worker falls to her death, and this tragedy gives us multiple insights. One, the working conditions are unsafe. Two, women are in especial danger. (The fall may have been the result of a rape attempt.) Three, Konaar (Rajkiran) is the general fixer-upper […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Shaandaar”… A misfire, but an interesting one

October 23, 2015



Spoilers ahead… When we say “fairy tale” in the context of a certain kind of narrative, we usually refer to the deliberate unrealness, the escapist-wish-fulfilment-happiness of it all – but Vikas Bahl seems to take the term literally. His earlier film, the pleasant enough though over-praised Queen, was one. I wrote in my review that […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Naanum Rowdy Dhaan”… An entertainingly nutty comedy about an anti-rowdy

October 21, 2015


Naanum Rowdy Thaan (9)

Spoilers ahead… A kid in a jail cell. That’s an unusual image to begin a movie with. He seems to be filling out some sort of what-I-want-be-when-I-grow-up questionnaire, and against “Ambition,” he scrawls, carefully, “Police.” His mother, after all, is a cop (played by Raadhika Sarathkumar). Soon, he slips out of the cell – he […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“10 Enradhukulla”… A slipshod road movie

October 21, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Vijay Milton’s 10 Enradhukulla wastes little time in letting us know that it is a hero-centric masala movie. A battered, bloody man who’s being held hostage has with him a package. He’s waiting for someone to pick it up. Pasupathy, who plays one of the villains, asks him the name of the pickup […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Wedding Pullav”… Stale doesn’t begin to describe it

October 20, 2015



Spoilers ahead… The most interesting aspect of Wedding Pullav is that it’s been directed by the great cinematographer Binod Pradhan, who has done stellar work with Rakeysh Mehra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. I still remember watching 1942: A Love Story on a massive 70-mm screen. It was the beginning of the song Pyar hua chupke […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Self life

October 19, 2015



Some people laugh when I tell them I do yoga. These are people who do not do yoga, people who think yoga is standing on one hand and pedalling the air. And this type of yoga is best imagined with someone slim, someone tall, someone whose buttocks you can crack walnuts on. As I score […]

The lost world

October 17, 2015



Remembering Ravindra Jain, and the India he made music for. When I heard about Ravindra Jain’s demise, I thought of Naseeruddin Shah. Not the most obvious association, I know, but think of Jain’s title song for Sunayana, the 1979 Rajshri Productions’ romance, and recall Shah trying to do the romantic-hero thing, flailing his arms about in […]

“Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.”… A string of funny bits in search of a movie

October 16, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Luv Ranjan, the director of Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, would probably make a good stand-up comedian. He thinks in terms of snappy bits. There’s a bit about the futility of honking in a traffic jam. There’s a bit about our parents’ obsession with the first-IIT-then-MBA course plan. There’s one about who pays for […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Rudhramadevi”… Great story, weak movie

October 16, 2015



Spoilers ahead… As a history lesson, Rudhramadevi checks all the boxes. A girl is born to the queen of the Kakatiya dynasty, and because women cannot rule – even palaces, apparently, have a glass ceiling – the king raises the child as a boy, a warrior. He’s worried that his vassals will revolt at the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kathukutty”… Messagey, but just about watchable

October 15, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Era. Saravanan, a long-time Junior Vikatan hand, makes his debut as director with Kathukutty. It’s one of those stories where a wastrel son (Arivazhagan, played by Narain) redeems himself in the eyes of his concerned father (Santhanam, played by Bharathiraja’s dead-ringer brother, Jayaraj) – but with a twist. The arena is politics. Santhanam […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Mistress of arts

October 12, 2015



Whether comedy or drama, Manorama’s success sprang not just from her remarkable talent but also her amazing ability to adapt. Maalayitta Mangai, the 1958 drama produced by Kannadasan and directed by GR Nathan, is remembered mainly for two reasons today. One, the magical Viswanathan-Ramamurthy score, studded with hits like Naanandri yaar varuvaar and Senthamizh thenmozhiyaal. […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Jazbaa”… Irrfan kills it in a just-about-watchable pulp thriller

October 11, 2015


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Spoilers ahead… Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa is the mature actor’s answer to those star-son launch pads that tell us this boy can dance and ride a horse and isn’t allergic to glycerine. This is about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan announcing she’s back. She’s first seen in a track suit, stretching and running and generally posing against the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The invisible man

October 10, 2015


Sagara Sangamam - Salangai Oli (9)

Thoughts on the often-overlooked producer of a film, occasioned by the passing of Edida Nageswara Rao. When I heard that Edida Nageswara Rao had died, my first thoughts were about the three films – Shankarabharanam, Sagara Sangamam (Salangai Oli in Tamil), Swati Muthyam (Sippikkul Muthu in Tamil, Eeshwar in Hindi) – that defined him as […]

“Andhadhi”… An unsatisfactory thriller

October 10, 2015



Spoilers ahead… With first-time filmmakers, you feel, sometimes, that you should be an indulgent parent, not expecting miracles, just appreciating the effort. It takes so much to make a movie, and you want to say, Hmmm, not bad. Now let’s see what you can really do. But then, you remember films like Burma and Kirumi, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Masala Padam”… Scrappy, but some good light moments

October 10, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Laxman Kumar’s Masala Padam opens with a commemoration of Tamil cinema. We see leading men down the years – MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, right down to Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. This, combined with the title and the fact that ‘RJ’ Shiva plays a role, made me expect a sly take on […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Singh Is Bliing”… Very funny in parts, until it gets painfully serious

October 4, 2015



Spoilers ahead… Singh is Bliing isn’t a movie so much as a collection of colourful bits (the real bliing is in the cinematography) in the style of what one may call a nautanki or a vaudeville performance – and for a while, that’s the film’s strength. Some bits are brilliant in the way a Mr. […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

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