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“Haraamkhor”… Beautiful performances in a story that doesn’t judge a warped relationship

Spoilers ahead… It’s probably facile to drag Lolita into the discussion of a film about a consensual-yet-exploitative relationship between an older man and a schoolgirl, but Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor makes a strong case for the comparison. There is, first, the disclaimer at the beginning, informing us that the film (I’m paraphrasing) “highlights dangers faced by minor […]

“Arunagiri Perumale”… The search for a saint, with beautiful music

Spoilers ahead… I’ve just walked out of a screening of Arunagiri Perumale at the Goethe Institut Auditorium, organised by Prakriti Foundation. The title of this intensely personal documentary makes you think it’s about the poet-saint. But it isn’t. About suggests a kind of biopic. He was born here. He did this. Then he did that. […]

Kalki: First look

The first look is out for Kalki, a short film I wrote for director Dhilip Kumar, based on a premise he had in mind. It stars Kishore and Yasmin Ponnappa, and though I wasn’t present for all stages of post-production, it was a special thrill to work with Sreekar Prasad in his editing room, pacing […]

“Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga”… A taxing narrative experiment with a handful of laughs

Spoilers ahead… The cleverest thing about Radhakrishnan Parthiban’s new film, Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga, is the title: It means “fill in the blanks.” The film is a narrative experiment, and it’s all blanks. We see a couple at the beginning, but we don’t see their faces – their identity is a blank. We move to Rangarajan […]

“OK Jaanu”… A wan remake that just doesn’t take off

Spoilers ahead… A few thoughts before heading to a screening of Shaad Ali’s OK Jaanu – mainly about Hindi remakes of Mani Ratnam’s films and what they miss. The first thing is the sense of place. There is an air of alienation when a Tamilian moves to a “north Indian” city – when Mouna Raagam’s […]

“Bairavaa”… A masala movie without spice or seasoning

Spoilers ahead… Why isn’t Papa papa the hero-introduction song in Bairavaa? This is the kind of thing you think about when a film is 168 minutes long and so short on entertainment. The picturisation of the Santhosh Narayanan number is a riot of colour, and it’s filled with the energetic steps that make Vijay’s dance […]

“Khaidi No 150.”… Less self-important and more palatable than ‘Kaththi’

Spoilers ahead… The Tamil film Kaththi opens in the middle of a chase outside a prison. We see a group of policemen, apparently firing at will. We see the back of a fleeing convict – the whistles in the theatre tell us it is the film’s star, Vijay. An instant later, this is confirmed with a […]

“Kirik Party”… A joyous, irresistible coming-of-age tale

Spoilers ahead… The Kannada hit, Kirik Party, is the latest entry in the genre we could call South India’s answer to the South Bombay movie. The vibe is similarly cool, the sensibility similarly young, the air similarly irreverent, but there’s one crucial difference. The feel is grounded, recognisably rooted. The kids in the South Bombay […]

The revisionary

Post ‘Lagaan’, Aamir Khan has reinvented the big, fat, pre-multiplex era Indian movie for the modern day. In the Koffee with Karan episode featuring Aamir Khan last December, aired before the release of Dangal, Karan Johar asked his guest about the ghost-directing accusations that have often been flung at him. As some conspiracy theorists claim, […]

“Allied”… A silly melodrama barely made watchable by its stars

Spoilers ahead… It’s 1942. The French Morocco. A man parachutes into the desert. This is the opening of Robert Zemeckis’s Allied. But we quickly see that this is not your average spy thriller. For one, the dull roar of planes gives way to flutes and strings. Romance is in the air – and in the […]

Happy 2017

I’m really bummed about not getting the annual WordPress stats report. One of the start-of-the-year things I look forward to the most is seeing the top five commenters. Who has maintained his/her position from last year? Who’s dropped out and found a life? Alas, these revelations shall remain locked up in the bowels of this […]

“Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru”… A procedural with solid writing, first-rate filmmaking

Spoilers ahead… It’s night. It’s raining. A mystery man steps out of a car. He’s outside a house. Inside, we see a man, a woman. They’re in an embrace. The man enters the house. A lifetime of movie-watching tells us that he is a psycho killer, that he’s going to leave behind a couple of […]

May the formula be with you

As ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ demonstrates – and ‘Rogue One’ doesn’t – clichés aren’t a problem as long as the film adds up to more. Two questions kept running through my mind as I numbly sat through Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Is it possible, anymore, to make a Star Wars movie that truly surprises us? […]

2016 in review

Recalling the year’s Tamil films – the best ones (in order of release), as well as those that stood out for some reason(s). Irudhi Suttru: Sudha Kongara spruces up a predictable underdog sports story (Ritika Singh is marvellous) with fresh, funny, lived-in situations. The resulting film is a wonderfully old-fashioned heart-warmer. Visaranai: Vetri Maaran’s drama […]

Bitty Ruminations 83

Just read that Anil Kapoor turns 60 today. Always a bit of a shock when one of the top heroes — and one of your favourites — from when you were a kid hits such a milestone (“where does time go?” etc.). But happy birthday and all that. PS: That’s one of my favourite songs from […]

“Balle Vellaiya Thevaa”… Barely any laughs for a “comedy”

Spoilers ahead… Why are we so afraid to make comedies? We make dramas with a comedy track, or action films with a comedy track, or romances with a comedy track – but why so few pure comedies, where the comedy track is the only thing? Balle Vellaiya Theva – after Jackson Durai, this is the […]

“Kaththi Sandai”… A silly, noisy waste of a good premise

Spoilers ahead… If you’ve seen the noisy trailer for Suraaj’s Kaththi Sandai, you’ll know the question isn’t whether the film is any good but how bad it is on a 1 to 10 scale – “1” being “as long as you have a smartphone to otherwise occupy you, it’s harmless enough” and “10” being “you […]

“Dangal”… Terrific performances elevate a drama that’s more solid than spectacular

Spoilers ahead… Nitesh Tiwari’s based-on-real-events drama, Dangal, is exactly what the trailer promised. It was a simple trailer. This is a simple film. Often, a simplistic film. One wrestling match, in a flashback, is all we’re given as evidence of Mahavir Singh Phogat’s (Aamir Khan) burning passion for the sport. He hopes for a male […]

“Chennai 600028 II”… The bloated drama is a pain, but the cricket portions are magic

Spoilers ahead… The glass-half-full review of Chennai 600028 – II would state that Venkat Prabhu is back. He didn’t go anywhere, exactly – he’s been making a film every couple of years. But there was, increasingly, this sense that the cast and crew were having more fun on the sets than we were at the […]

Notes on song-and-dance cinema

Musings on ‘La La Land’, a musical film that leaves us with thoughts about the musical genre. There’s a stunning stretch in Damien Chazelle’s La La Land – which I caught at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival, on a gorgeous big screen, in a theatre that looked like a la la land itself, with […]

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