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Movies, memories and everything in between

Watching old films on the big screen is a form of travelling through time. Why don’t we have revival theatres? The US has them. Among the coming attractions at the Texas Theatre in Dallas is a screening of The Fly, to commemorate its 30th anniversary. The point isn’t that the film can be seen on […]

“Aandavan Kattalai”… Yet another marvellous comedy of desperation from Manikandan

Spoilers ahead… At the opening of Manikandan’s Aandavan Kattalai, these words flashed on screen: This film is meant to create awareness. My heart sank. The film is about debt-ridden Gandhi (Vijay Sethupathi), who, with the help of falsified documentation, attempts to get to London on a tourist visa, stay back, and make pots of gold. […]

“Thodari”… Given the names involved, shockingly inept

Spoilers ahead… With most films, a critic prepares for a dissection. With Thodari, it’s more of an autopsy. The film is dead on arrival. You come away with the impression that director Prabhu Solomon gives one hell of a story narration. What else can explain why an artist like Dhanush signed up, despite situations that […]

The Amateur’s Art #6 – “Kadaladhigaaram” (Tamil, with English subs)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Lokesh Raghuraman. Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“Pink”… A solid courtroom drama that makes solid points about the way we treat women

Spoilers ahead… Had Pink been made in Hollywood, it would have been labelled “Oscar bait.” It makes all the right noises. The story is one that will launch a thousand op-ed pieces. In an echo of Shah Rukh Khan’s gesture, the leading man’s name appears after the names of the female actors. The cast makes […]

“Sadhuram 2.”… A ‘Saw’ redo that’s just not pukey enough

Spoilers ahead… The most curious aspect of Sadhuram 2 is the numeral in the title, which makes you wonder about Sadhuram 1. But that film is yet to be made. We are, thus, in the realm of Limca Records. Along with astonishing Indian feats like longest ear hair and fastest sentence typed by the nose, […]

The Amateur’s Art #5 – “Pollena Kathe” (Tulu, with English subs)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Udayraj P J, “my graduation film inspired by Tulu folktales titled Pollena Kathe” Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“Freaky Ali”… A silly, uneven comedy with a terrific Siddiqui

Spoilers ahead… The attraction of Freaky Ali is the prospect of seeing Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a movie that, in just its first half-hour, insults a lisping child, a wizened old man and an albino (“nakli angrez!”) – all set to a background score made up of cartoon noises, the sonic equivalent of the BIFF, POW, […]

“Baar Baar Dekho”… A bland, but very pretty, time-travel romance

Spoilers ahead… There are films with eye candy. And then there are the Dharma films that deposit the eye at the confectionary store. Katrina Kaif is only the third most beautiful thing in Baar Baar Dekho, after her lavish Delhi home, whose lawns appear manicured by Toni & Guy, and Sidharth Malhotra. If I looked […]

“Irumugan”… Veers between just-about-watchable and inexplicably dull

Spoilers ahead… Sometimes, while watching a movie, I’ll end up thinking: ‘But Kamal Haasan has done this before!’ It’s possibly a couple of things. One, Kamal’s films are so unique, so ahead of their time, that they become the template for a certain kind of movie. Two, present-day filmmakers have grown up worshipping these films, […]

The Amateur’s Art #4 – “The Robbery” (English)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Thulasidasan Jeewaratinam.  Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“Akira”… Can’t hold a candle to the original

Spoilers ahead… To know the kind of filmmaker AR Murugadoss is, you only need the scene from Akira (a mostly faithful remake of the Tamil sleeper hit Mounaguru), where the victim of an acid attack sees herself in the mirror after her bandages come off. The people around her – family, friends – don’t make […]

Conversations with Mahesh Bhatt

This April, at this event, I was invited to converse with Mahesh Bhatt about Smita Patil. It took a while, but the video is finally here. Really enjoyed the conversation. Hope you do too. Filed under: Cinema: Hindi, Personal

“Kutrame Thandanai”… Carefully, thoughtfully made, but something’s missing

Spoilers ahead… The title of Manikandan’s new film – Kutrame Thandanai (Crime is Punishment) – may appear to knock on Dostoevsky’s door, but the film owes more to Alfred Hitchcock and Rear Window. At least for a while. The opening scenes are set in a crowded tenement complex, and we observe the goings on from […]

“Kidaari”… Needed fewer sickles, more suspense

Spoilers ahead… If you’ve wondered what the archetypal Agatha Christie whodunit would look like if transplanted into Sattur soil, you have your answer in Prasath Murugesan’s Kidaari. The film begins with big shot Kombiah (Vela Ramamurthy) stabbed in the neck. He cannot scream for help. His bloodied hands reach for something he can make a […]

The Amateur’s Art #3 – “Uruvagam” (Tamil)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Harish Sampath. Best wishes. Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

The Amateur’s Art #2 – “Agadiyam” (Tamil)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Best wishes. Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“54321.”… In-your-face style cannot compensate for hollow writing

Spoilers ahead… Director Raghavendra Prasad likes gimmicks. His first film is called 54321. Why? Because it’s about… 5 people, 4 lifestyles, 3 murders, 2 hours, 1 act of revenge. His filmmaking is equally flashy. A recurring trope is the freeze frame presented as a three-dimensional space, through which the camera “travels” in order to set […]

“A Flying Jatt”… An amiably silly superhero film flounders when it gets serious

Spoilers ahead… An indigenous superhero who isn’t just generically Indian but a Sikh? Part of me says “What an idea, sir-ji,” while the other part wonders if what we need now is the celebration – rather, valourisation – of specific communities as saviours. (Whatever next? Captain Arora? Iyer Man?) But at least for a while, […]

The Amateur’s Art #1 – “Kadesi Aasai”

I’m starting a sub-section in the blog to host films by amateur filmmakers and get them more eyeballs than on the vast, anonymous seas of YouTube. These films are not going to be rigorously curated. The idea is more to help these filmmakers get noticed rather than separate wheat from chaff. But that does not […]

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