“Thaarai Thappattai”… Warmed-over Bala, but still worthwhile

January 15, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Why doesn’t Bala make comedies? His obsession with bloodbaths may suggest he has one of the most twisted minds in the industry – it’s a wonder he’s not yet been snapped up as a consultant by the people who run Hell, to design increasingly vivid tortures. But his mind is also one of […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kathakali”… A fairly watchable thriller

January 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… If Murder on the Orient Express were set on land and made into a masala movie, it might resemble Pandiraj’s Kathakali. The film is a whodunit centred on this question: Who killed the gangster Thamba (Madhusudhan Rao)? We know it’s not Amudhan, because this part is played by Vishal, the hero – or […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Azhagu Kutti Chellam”… Seriously amateurish, but a notch better than ‘Pasanga 2’

January 14, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Normally, I wouldn’t have written about Azhagu Kutti Chellam. It would have been one of those films I saw just because the job demands it – maybe you’ll have to refer back to it someday while writing about another movie, or maybe there’s an actor in a small role who shows promise. But […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam”… An unbelievable story about an unsuited couple

January 13, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Gitanjali Selvaraghavan’s Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam begins with a note that it’s difficult to describe some love stories… “But we’ve tried.” (I liked the word used: muyarchithirukkirom. I also like the title, reminiscent of the slow-burn LR Easwari song from Dharisanam.) But is it really so hard to describe this love story? Just call […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Chauranga”… A gently hypnotic drama about fiery issues

January 11, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Why watch Chauranga when a lot of what it’s about – pig-herding, love across caste lines, the constant tensions between Dalits and the people who won’t treat them as equals, the young boy who decides enough is enough – was already seen in Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi drama Fandry? One reason could be the mood […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

On the watch

January 9, 2016

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Looking back at my vacation viewing, which included heavily intellectual entertainment like… um, ‘Downton Abbey’. What does a film critic watch while on vacation? I was surprised people even thought this was a question worth asking, but then someone explained why. With “normal” folks (a category I clearly do not belong to), holidays are a […]

“Wazir”… A decent relationship drama, a silly thriller

January 9, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… Bejoy Nambiar likes slo-mo songs. His most sensational use of the technique came in the Khoya khoya chand sequence in Shaitaan. Guns were blazing. People were fleeing. The sequence had all the makings of a white-knuckle thriller, but the slo-mo made it something else. The most important aspect of a chase, time, was […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Yesterday never dies

January 2, 2016

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Thoughts on the ‘Star Wars’ prequels, occasioned by the intergalactic success of the latest film in the franchise. The hate for the latter-day Star Wars movies understood I never have. That the force was beginning to weaken in George Lucas was evident right from The Return of the Jedi, whose Ewoks, those toy-store-ready furballs, hinted […]

2015 in review

December 30, 2015

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 1,900,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 82 days for that many people to see […]

Posted in: Personal

My top twenty: 2015

December 26, 2015

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Recalling the Tamil films of 2015 that, even if not great in the overall sense, stood out for some reason(s). Here, in alphabetical order. 144: At first, I found the narrative a rhythmless mess, too “quirky” for its own good. But slowly, I tuned into the film’s vibe, and just thinking about the bits now […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Bhooloham”… A tepid boxing drama somewhat punched up by the milieu

December 24, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… N Kalyanakrishnan’s Bhooloham is yet another warming-up of the local-boy-makes-good boxing drama. It has the gruff-father-figure coach (Ponvannan). It has the sinews-popping training montage. It has the giant opponents who represent the “other” in multiple ways – Dayal (Arpit Ranka) is from North India, Steven George (Nathan Jones) is from North America. And […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Pasanga 2.”… A shockingly inept message movie

December 24, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Y ou know that dengue ad with Vivek? If someone expanded it to feature length and married it off to a Visu starrer from the 1980s, we’d get something resembling Pandiraj’s Pasanga 2. Why employ the tools of cinema if all you want to do is have people spout words of wisdom? Kuzhandhainga […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Thanga Magan”… A solid 80s-style melodrama slips up when it decides to worship the hero

December 21, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… It’s an unusual introduction for a movie with a big-ticket hero. For one, the hero gets no big-ticket introduction – not in the get-the-fans-screaming sense, considering the whistle-ready title, Thangamagan. Thamizh (Dhanush) and his friend Kumaran (Sathish) ride up to a house. Beside them, in an auto-rickshaw, are Thamizh’s mother (Raadhika Sarathkumar) and […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Bajirao Mastani”… Director and star put up a bloody grand show

December 21, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Ranveer Singh plays the first half of the title in Bajirao Mastani, but he’s really playing the Sanjay Leela Bhansali leading man. This isn’t a revelatory performance, exactly. After all, Ranveer did play the Sanjay Leela Bhansali leading man in Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela, and here too, his character, that of the great […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Dilwale”… A super-lazy film somewhat redeemed by star wattage

December 21, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… There’s a thin line between silly and senseless. The gags in Chennai Express, Rohit Shetty’s previous film with Shah Rukh Khan, fell on the silly side. But take this stretch from their new outing, Dilwale. Veer (Varun Dhawan) is in his BMW (the Shah Rukh Khan of cars; in Shetty’s films, cars are […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

After the waters recede…

December 14, 2015

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What some of us are feeling now, it’s vague, hard to put into words. And at least part of it is a little existential. Why were we spared? You don’t think this when you hear of shootings in America or earthquakes in Nepal. You register the horror, and do what you can – sign a […]

Trials and starry tribulations

December 14, 2015

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So what is the long-drawn Salman Khan trial all about? Baradwaj Rangan wonders. The Salman Khan trial isn’t just about an actor who may or may not have done the things he’s been accused of, the things he’s now been acquitted of. (Whoever was driving that car has, by now, become as mysterious an entity […]

“Angry Indian Goddesses”… An enjoyable, if over-ambitious, tale about sisters in arms

December 12, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Angry Indian Goddesses. Not since Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaye has a film’s title so briskly summed up its appeal, its audience. Chew on those three words. The first one is an emotion that makes the subject sound important enough to be debated, written about in op-ed columns. You don’t have to […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

At the movies

December 12, 2015

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Rain or shine, the connection between Chennai residents and cinema is an unbreakable one. Imagine there’s a death in the family. Some people weep and wail. Some people realise that there are practical things that need to get done. They get busy making calls, getting a photo ready in order to put out an obituary […]

“Eetti”… A sweet little love track amidst a lot of tiresome macho posturing

December 12, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Under normal circumstances, the story of a hurdler (Pugazhendi, played by Atharvaa) with a rare blood disease – thrombasthenia, if you’re a doctor; in English, once the patient begins to bleed, he won’t stop – would be story enough. A slightly ambitious filmmaker might even use the sport as a metaphor, that Pugazhendi […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil
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