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“Ezra”… A well-crafted horror film that needed much better writing

Spoilers ahead… Jay K’s Ezra, which is set in Kochi, is filled with Malayalis; the story revolves around Ranjan (Prithviraj) and Priya (Priya Anand). But their domestic help is Maharashtrian, and the large, large house they live in (for once, wouldn’t it be nice if a horror film unfolded in one of those matchbox-sized flats […]

Readers Write In #9: Aaromale

‘Catcher in the Rye’ had spoiled me. It is always a problem when you meet a great novel. ‘Great’ in the sense, how the novel had hit you. It wouldn’t have hit you, had it not reflected your persona with such uncanny authenticity. Similar to how Vadivel gets surprised when someone reads his mind-voice. ‘Velila […]

“Ghazi”… A comfortingly old-fashioned (and entertaining) war movie

Spoilers ahead… Kay Kay Menon rarely finds roles worthy of his talent, but in Ghazi, he lucks out. He plays Rann Vijay Singh, a naval captain entrusted with a submarine and a mission. It’s 1971. News has trickled down that Pakistan is preparing to strike the eastern coast. Singh and his crew are asked to […]

“Irada”… An earnest but inept drama about the groundwater crisis in Punjab

Spoilers ahead… Punjab isn’t having a good time at the movies. Last year’s Udta Punjab transformed the state into a drug-addled dystopia. This week’s Irada slaps on it the label of “cancer belt of the country.” Arshad Warsi isn’t having a good time at the movies either. Last week’s Jolly LLB 2 was a reminder […]

“Ennodu Vilayadu”… An underwhelming thriller that’s more of an underwhelming romance

Spoilers ahead… I perked up at the beginning of Arun Krishnaswami’s Ennodu Vilayadu. (That title! What a great fit if someone made a Fifty Shades of Grey in Tamil.) The story deposits us in Guindy, by the race track, and we get this voiceover: “Inga kuthirai saththam innum kekkudhu!” As if on cue, the sound […]

“Rum”… Not many scares. Not much coherence either.

Spoilers ahead… Vivek is the nominal comedian in Sai Bharath’s Rum, but he’s no match for the censors (or whichever board it is that slaps advisory texts on screen). We’re in a haunted house. It’s the usual assortment of people who witness strange goings-on, but don’t immediately pack their bags and flee. Soon enough, the […]

“Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol”… A lovely dramedy woven around the ups, downs in a marriage

Spoilers ahead… By all rights, Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol should have been a sex comedy – one of those films in which a married man begins to scratch that seven-year itch. Mohanlal plays Ulahannan, a panchayat official whose life is leached of excitement. The first time we see him, he’s snoring in a bus. He’s married to […]

“Jolly LLB 2.”… Merely okay as courtroom drama, but a vivid look at Hindu-Muslim dynamics

Spoilers ahead… What happens when you move from Arshad Warsi to Akshay Kumar? You get the scene where the lawyer nicknamed Jolly (he’s not the same character though; Warsi’s Jolly was Jagdish Tyagi, Akshay’s version is Jagdishwar Mishra) is on a boat on the Ganges. He jumps into the water. This decision isn’t about Jolly […]

The captain of the ship

Sensing the director’s touch, at the recently concluded Bengaluru International Film Festival. At a film festival, the brochure is invaluable. It gives you a plot synopsis of the films being screened. It gives you a note about the filmmaker. This not only helps in deciding whether you want to give this particular film a shot, […]

“Lightman”… An inconsistent yet illuminating docu/fiction about cinema’s foot soldiers

Spoilers ahead… Venkatesh Kumar G’s Lightman shines a spotlight on… the men whose job is to shine a spotlight. The film narrates the story of Guna (Karthik Nagarajan), a folk-theatre artist who leaves his village in Madurai and comes to Chennai with dreams of making it big in Kollywood. But he’s not able to get […]

“Singam 3.”… Loud, fast, and without a single memorable moment

Spoilers ahead… THERE’S PACY NARRATION. AND THERE’S PACY NARRATION AS PRACTISED BY THE DIRECTOR HARI. Oh, sorry. Did I seem to be screaming? I’ve just exited a screening of Singam 3, and I’m still trying to make myself heard. This is the kind of movie where a SpiceJet flight makes a landing and the sound […]

Readers Write In #8: The Great Story Obsession

Whenever I ask for feedback about a film from my friends, and if it turns out to be a negative one, I used to quote Kamal from Vasool Raja, ‘Nee enna solla pora nu therium, kadhaye illa nu sollapora’. Our audience strongly consider ‘The Story’ to be the garbagriha of a movie and would consider their pilgrimage […]

The reinvention of a K-k-k-khan

Given Shah Rukh’s career crossroads, it’s going to be fascinating to watch where he goes from here. Is it just me, or has Shah Rukh Khan become the most interesting actor around? This isn’t about his performing skills. This isn’t about his box-office clout, healthy enough for a star, yet nowhere near that of the […]

Bitty Ruminations 84

There are many tributes to Nirmal Shekar out there. I just want to talk about what it meant for a kid interested in words, in language, in writing, in self-expression to read someone like him. There’s the general tendency, today, to look down on writerly writing. It’s considered masturbatory. Write simply, in a way everyone […]

“Bogan”… A fair-enough popcorn thriller, anchored by a terrific Arvind Swamy

Spoilers ahead… While discussing filmmakers who begin with a bang, we usually talk about a “sophomore slump”. But is there a term for the opposite, when a Krishna bounces back with Nedunchaalai after debuting with the soggy Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, or when Lakshman follows up the awful Romeo Juliet with Bogan? The beginning isn’t promising: […]

About free speech, ‘Padmavati’, and that scene in ‘Kaabil’

Dear liberals, if you think what happened with Bhansali was wrong, then you have to see ‘Kaabil’ for what it is, not what you want it to be. It’s somewhat pointless to write something on free speech in a country where the right comes with an “if and only if” clause, but I’m going to […]

Readers Write In #7: Heist movies vs Demonetisation

A person robs a huge sum of money at gunpoint and absconds to obscurity. Law and order is totally against this person, and every single cop starts an unending trail behind this mysterious robber. Eventually, He gets caught but his altruism prevails over the legal system and Constitution. He remains a mysterious enigma forever. Either […]

Readers Write In #6: An Unsuitable Boy

Ramit Bajaj requested to open a thread on Karan Johar’s autobiography An Unsuitable Boy. Happy commenting. Also, if you have an idea — not covered in a review or column — that you’d like to discuss, do let me know.Filed under: Books, Cinema: Hindi, Readers Write In

Notes from the south

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)

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 Filed under: […]

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