The Amateur’s Art #9 – “Ulaga Nadaththai” (Tamil, with English subs)

November 3, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Aechaar. Director’s note: I have tried and depicted a slice of life scene in the form of a 20 minute film…

“Shivaay”… Some terrific action, but punishingly long

October 30, 2016



Spoilers ahead… Within its first few minutes, Shivaay makes a strong case for its existence. We see the eponymous hero (Ajay Devgn, who also directed), a mountaineer who escorts tourists on treks, driving a jeep. Beside him is Olga (Erika Kaar), a Bulgarian client. Not knowing that she understands Hindi, Shivaay decides to pay her […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Kodi”… A very effective masala movie, despite a very ineffective heroine

October 30, 2016



Spoilers ahead… After Thodari, Dhanush could have made Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram: Part 2 and we’d be calling it a return to form – but Kodi, directed by RS Durai Senthilkumar, is really the kind of “commercial movie” we wish more of our stars would make. A bird’s eye view of the plot suggests business […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Kaashmora”… A bloated, badly made fantasy

October 30, 2016



Spoilers ahead… The Kaashmora team, in interviews, has been asking us not to compare the film with Baahubali. What a laugh. It’s not the budget that’s lacking. It’s the vision, the conviction, the ability to sell a tall story. Baahubali was a genuine epic. The only thing epic about Kaashmora is its running time: nearly three bloated hours. The film, directed […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”… A satisfying bridge between Hindi cinema and Bollywood

October 29, 2016



Spoilers ahead… The way we speak in real life, that’s conversation. The way people in a certain kind of movie speak, that’s dialogue. Both kinds of exchange are present in Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushil. The film opens with a gun-to-the-head dedication to the army that doesn’t feel all that misplaced. Romance, after all, […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Pretty pictures

October 22, 2016



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 […]

The Amateur’s Art #8 – “Platform Paune Dus” (Hindi, with English subs)

October 17, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Vaibhav Munjal. Director’s note: The film revolves around the education system in India and how it gets to a point of being a blind race. So much so that young kids don’t really know what they are trying to achieve.

A sense of books

October 15, 2016



My contribution to a “musings” column in the Weekend Reading section of The Hindu… Sir Francis Bacon had great taste in books. Think of his most famous quote: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” The image isn’t so much of the bibliophile as […]

Posted in: Books, Shelf Help

Effect and cause

October 15, 2016



‘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 […]

“Ammani”… A drama with textured characters and a tough message

October 14, 2016



Spoilers ahead… It’s easy to care about Salamma (Lakshmy Ramakrishnan), the hardworking protagonist of Ammani. She’s employed at a government hospital, where she swabs floors and tends to an amputee’s stump and cleans up after a patient whose motion is like stone. The words make us flinch; the visuals don’t. The film strikes a fine […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Mirzya”… A major misfire… But for a while, a fascinating formal experiment

October 9, 2016



Spoilers ahead… Something about star-crossed lovers nudges our filmmakers towards formal experiments. Chetan Anand’s Heer Ranjha is entirely in exquisite verse. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, itself containing a lot of spoken verse, seals itself from natural light and the outside world – it’s shot entirely on doomed-fairy-tale sets painted in colours of the night. Rakeysh […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Rekka”… An action film that’s totally nuts, and quite enjoyable

October 8, 2016



Spoilers ahead… I had a lot of fun watching Rekka, which is essentially Vijay Sethupathi saying he can be Vijay Sethupathi even in Vijay’s world. The actor plays Siva, who spends his life abducting women who are in love with X but are on the verge of being married off to Y, and reuniting them […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Analysis, critical!

October 8, 2016



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 […]

“Remo”… A charmless movie that puts effort into everything but the script

October 7, 2016



Spoilers ahead… For a while, Bakkiyaraj Kannan’s Remo looks like Tootsie. A small-time actor (SK, played by Sivakarthikeyan) discovers that he has a shot at a part in a KS Ravikumar film, but only if he transforms himself into a female nurse. We await the scene where SK frantically hunts for help in the makeup […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Fact? Or rah-rah fiction?

October 6, 2016



The problem with the recently released biopic of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the problem with many biopics of the famous: the flaws make way for fawning. MS Dhoni – The Untold Story is a terrifically entertaining sports saga, but is it a biopic, a “biographical picture”? On the evidence of dictionary definitions, it probably qualifies. […]

Posted in: Cinema, Cinema: Hindi, Op-ed

The Amateur’s Art #7 – “Juliet’s Shiva” (English, with English subs)

October 4, 2016



See here for what this series is about. This short is by Nikkhil Menonn.

From Love Marriage to Dhoni

October 3, 2016



A short history of cricket in Hindi cinema. Take the topic of cricket in Hindi cinema and the temptation to concoct a quiz is irresistible. For instance, name the actors who played father and daughter in two films featuring the game. That would be Naseeruddin Shah and Urmila Matondkar, inMasoom and Chamatkar. Which is the […]

“M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story”… Not a good biopic, but a perfectly entertaining yarn

October 2, 2016



Spoilers ahead… At one time, the minimal requirement for a biopic to be made about a man (or woman) wasn’t just a life that lent itself to drama but the subject’s death. Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948. Richard Attenborough’s film came nearly 35 years later. You could point to the films about Mary Kom and […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

More than a few good women

October 1, 2016



‘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, […]

“Parched”… A very well-acted film that hits hard, hits home

September 29, 2016



Spoilers ahead… Is Radhika Apte the best weeper on screen today? With other actresses, you hunt for a handkerchief to lend, a ladies’ room to usher them into. You worry about their makeup. With Apte, the emotion goes deeper, down to her core, and then it bursts out. You hunt for something to hold on […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi