Notes from the south

January 28, 2017

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Meandering thoughts on music based on a few recent happenings. When the Carnatic musician TM Krishna unveiled Chennai Poromboke Paadal a couple of weeks ago, it felt like the musical world’s answer to the fall of the Berlin Wall, facilitating a crossover between two hitherto separate realms. “Poramboke” refers to land set aside for communal […]

The Amateur’s Art #11 – “Ti… Majhyatli” (Marathi)

January 28, 2017

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See here for what this series is about. This short is by Aditya Sanjay Joshi. Story & Dialogue – Pranao Lepse Screenplay – Aditya Washimkar & Aditya Sanjay Joshi Editor – Aditya Sanjay Joshi Director of Photography – Soham Navghare Planning and Co-ordination – Prachin Bhoyar Starring – Pranao Lepse and Priya Thavare

“Raees”… A disappointingly generic story of a criminal, with too few highlights

January 27, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Like any self-respecting rags-to-riches gangster movie, Raees shows the boy before it shows the man. With a difference. In Deewar, the boy sees his father being branded a thief. He sees his mother struggling to raise her sons. So when a get-rich-quick opportunity presents itself, he grabs it, becomes a gangster. Or take […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Adhe Kangal”… Not as good as it sounds on paper,  but not bad either

January 26, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Adhe Kangal is directed by Rohin Venkatesan, but it’s perhaps more useful to consider the name of the producer: CV Kumar. Some of his films work, some don’t – but they’re always interesting, at least on paper. At the beginning, Adhe Kangal looks like a love triangle. A blind chef (Varun, played by […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kaabil”… A thoroughly underwhelming thriller

January 25, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… So how bad can it really be? If that’s your frame of mind when you settle into a screening of Sanjay Gupta’s Hrithik Roshan-starring Kaabil, who can blame you? The director is coming off Jazbaa, the hero off Mohenjo Daro. The bar for their new outing together is barely an inch off the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Jomonte Suvisheshangal”… A trite premise made very watchable by warm performances

January 24, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Sathyan Anthikad’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal is catching a lot of criticism for its similarities with the recent Jacobinte Swargarajyam, but that’s like accusing one love story of being like another. This type of melodrama is a genre of its own: a twist here, a tweak there, and you can name 5000 similar films. We […]

Posted in: Cinema: Malayalam

“Haraamkhor”… Beautiful performances in a story that doesn’t judge a warped relationship

January 21, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… It’s probably facile to drag Lolita into the discussion of a film about a consensual-yet-exploitative relationship between an older man and a schoolgirl, but Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor makes a strong case for the comparison. There is, first, the disclaimer at the beginning, informing us that the film (I’m paraphrasing) “highlights dangers faced by minor […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Arunagiri Perumale”… The search for a saint, with beautiful music

January 20, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… I’ve just walked out of a screening of Arunagiri Perumale at the Goethe Institut Auditorium, organised by Prakriti Foundation. The title of this intensely personal documentary makes you think it’s about the poet-saint. But it isn’t. About suggests a kind of biopic. He was born here. He did this. Then he did that. […]

Kalki: First look

January 20, 2017

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The first look is out for Kalki, a short film I wrote for director Dhilip Kumar, based on a premise he had in mind. It stars Kishore and Yasmin Ponnappa, and though I wasn’t present for all stages of post-production, it was a special thrill to work with Sreekar Prasad in his editing room, pacing […]

“Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga”… A taxing narrative experiment with a handful of laughs

January 14, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… The cleverest thing about Radhakrishnan Parthiban’s new film, Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga, is the title: It means “fill in the blanks.” The film is a narrative experiment, and it’s all blanks. We see a couple at the beginning, but we don’t see their faces – their identity is a blank. We move to Rangarajan […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“OK Jaanu”… A wan remake that just doesn’t take off

January 13, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… A few thoughts before heading to a screening of Shaad Ali’s OK Jaanu – mainly about Hindi remakes of Mani Ratnam’s films and what they miss. The first thing is the sense of place. There is an air of alienation when a Tamilian moves to a “north Indian” city – when Mouna Raagam’s […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Bairavaa”… A masala movie without spice or seasoning

January 12, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… Why isn’t Papa papa the hero-introduction song in Bairavaa? This is the kind of thing you think about when a film is 168 minutes long and so short on entertainment. The picturisation of the Santhosh Narayanan number is a riot of colour, and it’s filled with the energetic steps that make Vijay’s dance […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Khaidi No 150.”… Less self-important and more palatable than ‘Kaththi’

January 11, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… The Tamil film Kaththi opens in the middle of a chase outside a prison. We see a group of policemen, apparently firing at will. We see the back of a fleeing convict – the whistles in the theatre tell us it is the film’s star, Vijay. An instant later, this is confirmed with a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Telugu

“Kirik Party”… A joyous, irresistible coming-of-age tale

January 8, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… The Kannada hit, Kirik Party, is the latest entry in the genre we could call South India’s answer to the South Bombay movie. The vibe is similarly cool, the sensibility similarly young, the air similarly irreverent, but there’s one crucial difference. The feel is grounded, recognisably rooted. The kids in the South Bombay […]

Posted in: Cinema: Kannada

The revisionary

January 7, 2017

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Post ‘Lagaan’, Aamir Khan has reinvented the big, fat, pre-multiplex era Indian movie for the modern day. In the Koffee with Karan episode featuring Aamir Khan last December, aired before the release of Dangal, Karan Johar asked his guest about the ghost-directing accusations that have often been flung at him. As some conspiracy theorists claim, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Allied”… A silly melodrama barely made watchable by its stars

January 6, 2017

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Spoilers ahead… It’s 1942. The French Morocco. A man parachutes into the desert. This is the opening of Robert Zemeckis’s Allied. But we quickly see that this is not your average spy thriller. For one, the dull roar of planes gives way to flutes and strings. Romance is in the air – and in the […]

Posted in: Cinema: English

Happy 2017

January 1, 2017

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I’m really bummed about not getting the annual WordPress stats report. One of the start-of-the-year things I look forward to the most is seeing the top five commenters. Who has maintained his/her position from last year? Who’s dropped out and found a life? Alas, these revelations shall remain locked up in the bowels of this […]

Posted in: Personal

“Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru”… A procedural with solid writing, first-rate filmmaking

December 30, 2016

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Spoilers ahead… It’s night. It’s raining. A mystery man steps out of a car. He’s outside a house. Inside, we see a man, a woman. They’re in an embrace. The man enters the house. A lifetime of movie-watching tells us that he is a psycho killer, that he’s going to leave behind a couple of […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

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? […]

Posted in: Screening Room

2016 in review

December 24, 2016

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Recalling the year’s Tamil films – the best ones (in order of release), as well as those that stood out for some reason(s). Irudhi Suttru: Sudha Kongara spruces up a predictable underdog sports story (Ritika Singh is marvellous) with fresh, funny, lived-in situations. The resulting film is a wonderfully old-fashioned heart-warmer. Visaranai: Vetri Maaran’s drama […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil