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 […]

“Vai Raja Vai”… An inoffensive caper

May 5, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Aishwarya R. Dhanush likes men who see things. The protagonist of her first film, 3, saw holographic demons. Or something. The protagonist of her follow-up, Vai Raja Vai, sees the future. At least, he knows what’s coming. That’s his boon and the film’s curse. Early on, we get a hint that the clairvoyance […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Uttama Villain”… A superb core let down by lackluster filmmaking

May 2, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Kamal Haasan’s films suffer sometimes because they end up looking like vanity projects, but Uttama Villain, directed by Ramesh Aravind, couldn’t be anything else – for this is the story of a vain star named Manoranjan (Kamal Haasan). This is cinema about cinema, and because Tamil cinema is really about the hero, the […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

Terms of indoor-ment

May 1, 2015

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Every time I return from a trip abroad, the one thing I’m glad to return to is the health faucet, even if I’ve never really figured out why it is called that. We are unafraid to announce other parts of the anatomy. Without a care, we say “eye shadow,” “ear buds,” “nose ring,” “tongue piercing,” […]

“Court”… An impressive achievement

April 30, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Note the way Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court begins. An old man. A bunch of kids. The setting: an unremarkable room. The old man is trying to teach the kids something. He’s teaching them about butterflies. He’s teaching them about the country’s geography. Now, note the way Court ends. Another old man. Another bunch of […]

Posted in: Cinema: Regional

Comments? Or bulletin board?

April 27, 2015

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After going through the comments under the “O Kadhal Kanmani review,” a reader wrote in via email that not many people read the comments section and therefore it might be useful to… I’ll let you read for yourself. Any thoughts? Just read the comments to your befitting review of OK Kanmani. What wonderful conversations. Lot’s […]

Posted in: Personal

“Margarita With a Straw”… A light, lovely tale of sexual awakening and other things that make up life

April 25, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Laila (Kalki Koechlin), the protagonist of Shonali Bose’s Margarita With a Straw, is like any other person in their late teens/early twenties, give or take a skill or two. She’s on Facebook. She’s terrific at chess. She’s into music – she writes lyrics for a band called Tribe. She’s friends with these musicians […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

“Mr. X”… A sci-fi disaster

April 24, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Vikram Bhatt’s Mr. X is an irredeemably bad film, and proof of its irredeemable badness arrives very early. We are with Raghu (Emraan Hashmi) and Sia (Amyra Dastur) in their bedroom. They’ve just made love – at least we think they’ve made love. We don’t actually see anything. This coyness is a little […]

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi

Caste and class in popular Tamil cinema

April 23, 2015

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Observing and interpreting class or caste markers in the discussion of a film isn’t the same as celebrating them. I co-wrote a screenplay some years ago, and we named the hero Rahul. We hadn’t thought about Rahul’s caste.  The only thing he was, in our minds, was young – and Rahul sounded like a young […]

In verse

April 18, 2015

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April, I hear, is National Poetry Month. Only in the United States, technically, but we can, we should appropriate it for the global village too. And so here I am, wondering how to celebrate NPM this morning While at my desk, waiting for my phone to charge And the laundry cycle to finish. Maybe I’ll […]

Posted in: Fiction, Personal

“O Kadhal Kanmani”… A lightweight but enjoyable romance

April 17, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… After a long time, I caught myself smiling while watching a Mani Ratnam movie. The cuteness, the zingers, the youngness – it’s all back. Seen one way, O Kadhal Kanmani is something of a greatest-hits package. It’s as if the director is telling us: “So you didn’t like it when I went too […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil

“Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkirathu”… A sprawling, unwieldy drama about strugglers

April 15, 2015

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Spoilers ahead… Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkirathu is a variant on Angadi Theru. This, too, is about people from outside Chennai who come to the city with dreams of making it big, but find that life here is the stuff of nightmares. And yes, one of these dreamers – Chellapandi (Bobby Simha) – is a wannabe […]

Posted in: Cinema: Tamil
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