“Eli”… Seriously unfunny

June 19, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… All we ask of a comedy is that it keep us entertained. At least, this is what I ask. Not plot. Not acting. And certainly not whether it “makes sense.” I was doing some idle YouTube-ing a while ago, and came across this scene with Kallapetti Singaram and two others. They’re villagers, and […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Hamari Adhuri Kahani”… A melodramatic throwback that just doesn’t work

June 18, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… For a while now, pathetic fallacy hasn’t been a popular technique. In Hamari Adhuri Kahani, Mohit Suri brings it back with a vengeance. The heroine is named after the earth (Vasudha, played by Vidya Balan) and she’s a florist. But these flowers don’t always bring happiness. Vasudha speaks of her profession as a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

The mane event

June 14, 2015

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Tired of the focus on unwearable gowns at Cannes and IIFA and elsewhere, we decide it’s time someone talks about men’s fashion. But don’t worry. I’m not here to tell you what to wear. I’m here to talk about my bald spot, which I’ll refer to henceforth as Bora Bora. It seems an apt-enough name, given […]

Posted in: Humour, Personal, Society

Twists and turns

June 13, 2015

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Baradwaj Rangan drops in at the Rubik’s Cube Indian National Championships and discovers a quirky, super-smart subculture. Naren Ramesh isn’t the kind of person you’d expect to encounter at the Indian Nationals 2015, the competition otherwise known as 2015 Rubik’s Cube Indian National Championships. For one, he’s 10, a small, scrawny kid with a red […]

Posted in: General, Society, Sports

“Inimey Ippadithan”… A not-bad, Bhagyaraj-style comedy

June 13, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Note the title, Inimey Ippadithan. This is Santhanam announcing that, henceforth, this is what he’s going to do. He’s going to be the hero. He’s going to wear yellow sneakers and cavort with a non-Tamil-speaking heroine on foreign beaches. He’s going to do stalk-the-girl-till-she-says-yes scenes (otherwise known as “romantic track” in Tamil cinema). […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Romeo Juliet”… A preposterous mix of ‘comedy’ and melodrama

June 12, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Romeo Juliet, directed by Lakshman, is first and foremost a public service announcement from Kollywood: Look, boss, I know you saw ‘Kaaka Muttai’ last week, and it was funny and well-made and thought-provoking and everything you want cinema to be, but don’t go expecting that kind of movie every week. We are like […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Dil Dhadakne Do”… It’s like watching paint dry… only, inside a palace

June 6, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Luck By Chance, Zoya Akhtar’s first and best film, is also one of the most dispiriting movies ever made. You know those books you find in the self-help section? This was the exact opposite. Consider its… lessons, if you will. Everything’s a fluke. All the hard work in the world may not get […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Kaaka Muttai”… An outstanding debut

June 5, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… The National Award for Kaaka Muttai doesn’t make any sense. Best Children’s Film. What does that even mean? Best film that has good parts for children or good performances by children? Or best film for children? Either way, the award is an insult. Kaaka Muttai isn’t just for children — actually, some of […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Masss”… Sloppy, with a not-bad second half

May 29, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Massu Engira Masilamani comes with the tagline ‘A Venkat Prabhu Sixer.’ If this is a reference to Massu being the director’s sixth film, then fine. But if it’s a clearing-the-boundary cry, then sorry, there are a hundred fielders out there, palms cupped, looking at the sky. The only sixer in Venkat Prabhu’s career […]

Posted in: Uncategorized

Other careers

May 27, 2015

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I could have been a painter. I wouldn’t have been a very good one, but I’d have managed. I’d have drawn three lines in blue, splashed on a few red dots and said it has meanings you have to cock your head and interpret. I couldn’t have been a chef, though. Don’t have the patience. […]

“Tanu Weds Manu Returns”… A romance that struggles to measure up to its heroine’s performance

May 23, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… What an odd title: Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Considering the audience just needs to be told that this is a sequel, was Tanu and Manu Again unavailable? Tanu Weds Manu Returns sounds like Tanu weds and Manu returns. The blue-penciller in me kept wanting to insert a comma midway. Though, really, it’s Tanu […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

You’ll run out of adjectives raving about this one

May 23, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… You may have seen a lot of David Lean comparisons in the reviews for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s not difficult to join the dots. The scope is epic. It all happens in a desert. Tremendous emphasis on visuals, with extraordinary use of screen space as well as 3D technology. Had […]

Posted in: Cinema: English

“Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai”… An entertaining prison-escape drama that also manages to make you think

May 20, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… A lot of filmmakers make “message” movies. SP Jhananathan makes propaganda movies. His films aren’t about walking home with a warm glow and a trite little homily ringing in the head. He weaves complex tapestries from skeins of impassioned ideology. His first film, Iyarkai, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s White Nights, was something I […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Bombay Velvet”… An Anurag Kashyap film with bafflingly few traces of Anurag Kashyap

May 17, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… When I heard Anurag Kashyap was making a movie about Bombay, I wondered – despite the heavily Hollywoodised imagery – if he would tip a hat to the “Bombay movie.” Bombay Velvet opens, instead, as a Bombay documentary, with grainy, sepia-toned footage that gives us glimpses of the city, round about 1949. There’s prohibition. […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“36 Vayadhinile”… Worth a cheer, despite a broad TV-soap approach

May 15, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… In Rosshan Andrrews’s 36 Vayadhinile, based on his Malayalam hit How Old Are You*, Jyotika plays an alien. What else could the character, named Vasanthi, be? She’s 36. Her eyesight is no longer what it was. Her hair is turning silver. She has a teen-aged daughter. She works in a government job and […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Gabbar is Back”… One of those masala movies that’s too “cool” to be one

May 11, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Gabbar Is Back, directed by Krish (and based on an original story by AR Murugadoss), keeps making us think it is the real deal, a real masala movie. We see dabbawalas. We witness a lavani performance. We step into a barbershop. In other words, we see not Mumbai but Bombay, which is always […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Piku”… An irresistible amble with a dysfunctional family

May 9, 2015

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The following review is relatively spoiler-free. If you’ve seen the film and would like to read a more detailed (i.e. spoiler-filled) review, then please go directly to the review below. Piku (Deepika Padukone) brings to screen a robust multidimensionality we don’t usually see in our leading ladies. She balances domestic chores (laundry, dusting) and a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Crowd funding inititative for Orson Welles’ last film

May 8, 2015

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Got this via email. Now go do your good deed for the day. Hi Mr. Rangan, Without mincing words, I am writing this mail to you to seek the help of your name. A crowd funding Inititative has been started to finance the completion of Orson Welles’ last film “The Other Side Of the Wind”, his […]

Posted in: Cinema: English

“India Pakistan”… A not-so-bad comedy

May 8, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Midway through India Pakistan, Karthick (Vijay Antony) and Mellina (Sushma Raj) – Chennai-based lawyers both – find themselves in a village. Karthick is hanging out with some guys who think Mellina is easy: andha maadhiri ponnu. It’s the kind of cheap talk you hear all too often about urban women who have a […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

In Salman, they trust

May 8, 2015

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A fascinating documentary shows us what Salman Khan means to an India that’s not quite shining. One of the more perplexing moments on Season Four of Koffee with Karan was when Salman Khan made an appearance – his first on the show – and declared, “I am a virgin.” He added that he was going […]

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