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“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 […]

Sa ri, but you asked for it…

Our annual feature, where ‘Metro Plus’ staffers (names changed), all newbies to Carnatic music, raise questions about the Season. Baradwaj Rangan attempts to keep a straight face and provide answers. An earlier installment can be found here. Dear BR: Why are most popular ragam-s named after women? Bhairavi, Arabhi, Kalyani, to name a few… – […]

“Veera Sivaji”… Yet another feeble attempt to ship a hero to ‘mass’

Spoilers ahead… In a film named after his illustrious grandfather, Vikram Prabhu gets a mass-hero entry. He sends someone flying through the air, and that someone crashes through the windshield of a car. Who is this man? A petrified Frenchwoman looks on. Maybe the man kidnapped her. Maybe he assaulted her. Maybe he Eve-teased her. And […]

Treats from the desert counter

Same, yet different. That became the inadvertent theme of a few films at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival. The films you watch at a festival are the result of a calculated exercise. I picked Certain Women because of the cast (Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Lily Gladstone). I picked Frantz because it was […]

The Amateur’s Art #11 – “Roses” (Telugu)

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

The lost word

Thoughts on lyrics. The words in them. How they’ve changed. And how we’ve changed. As part of the Poetry with Prakriti festival, I was recently in conversation with Akshay Manwani, the author of Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet – and the evening ended up being about more than just the subject of the book. Among […]

“Befikre”… An underwhelming rom-com with some interesting ideas

Spoilers ahead… Aditya Chopra’s new film, Befikre, begins beautifully. The opening credits appear over images of lip-locked couples in Paris. The lines of the song that plays in the background, Labon ka karobaar, suggest that these couples are literally starry-eyed romantics: Jebon mein bikhre hain taarein, khaali hua aasmaan. (The sky is empty because the stars […]

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