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Crime does pay

On the tenth anniversary of ‘Pudhupettai,’ a look at other antihero films and what made this one special. The anti-hero has always been a prominent presence in Tamil cinema, but he usually came with a “but only because.” Sivaji Ganesan, in Andha Naal, took to selling Indian secrets to Japan, but only because his big […]

“Amma Kanakku”… A feel-good film with a problem at its core

Spoilers ahead… Despite what the title may have you believe, Amma Kanakku is not about the monthly bills at a certain Poes Garden residence. This amma is named Shanti (Amala Paul), and she has no assets, disproportionate or otherwise. She juggles many jobs. She works at a fish market. She washes vessels at a roadside eatery. […]

“Metro”… A terrific premise, but let down by the cast

Spoilers ahead… Director Anandakrishnan zooms in on a terrific subject in Metro. We read about chain-snatching all the time, but this is the first film to delve into the subject and make it a backdrop – the way, say, Udta Punjab tackles drugs. We see how gold moves through the black market. First, a guy […]

“Raja Mandhiri”… As with most films these days, some scattered laughs

Spoilers ahead… Opening shots can be deceptive. Raja Mandhiri begins with a glimpse of a temple, and the camera glides over trees and fields and finally lights on a house. This is the only part of the film that soars. Outside the house, a child’s parents begin to argue about his first word. The mother […]

“Dhanak”… A ‘cute’ fairy tale that could have used other shades

Spoilers ahead… Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak, set in Rajasthan,  is the story of a boy named Chotu (Krrish Chhabria), who turned blind from malnutrition. His parents are dead. Dhanak is the story of his sister (Hetal Gada), who looks after him. She even fails her exams so that she can be in his class, helping him. Dhanak […]

“Udta Punjab”… Very well made, but also very banal

Spoilers ahead… Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab opens with trees swaying in the breeze at night, topped by a handful of stars. The calm composition is held for a while, but soon, light from a motorcycle pierces this idyll. The sound too. Three men are on the bike. “Packet nikaal,” someone says. You think they’re going […]

If rushes were horses

The ‘Udta Punjab’ verdict fills me with enough hope to draw up a laundry list of wishes for our cinema. The next time a demand for a ban comes up, I wish we’d remember the Udta Punjab verdict. I wish we’d stop being blackmailed by cultural policemen about the content in cinema. Most of us […]

“Enakku Innoru Per Irukku”… A scattershot plot, but many gags work

Spoilers ahead… After a series of action-dramas featuring rowdies, we seem to be in for comedies featuring rowdies, which tweak our cinema’s obsession with anti-heroes. We recently saw Naanum Rowdy Dhaan. Now we have director Sam Anton’s Enakku Innoru Per Irukku. The film revolves around the power games in Royapuram, where the godfather is called […]

“Muthina Kathirikka”… A few scattered laughs

Spoilers ahead… I must confess I’ve been dreading this film’s release. Not because it’s a remake of the Malayalam hit Vellimoonga. (Most of our remakes miss out on whatever made the original film worth watching.) Not because of “comedy scenes” like the one in which a man gifts his girl an iPad, only to see […]

Aboorva raagangal…

Thoughts on the music of ‘Kabali’, which is easily the least “Rajini-style” album since ‘Sri Raghavendra’. Listening to Santhosh Narayanan’s soundtrack for Kabali is an exercise in imagining what must have run through Rajinikanth’s head as he heard these songs. I’m sure he must have smiled at Neruppu da, even if the track is driven […]

“Do Lafzon Ki Kahani”… A missed opportunity for a four-hankie weepie

Spoilers ahead… Do Lafzon Ki Kahani is adapted from the 2011 South Korean film Always, which hinged on a plot point from the Kamal Haasan-starring Manmadan Ambu, made a year earlier. Strange are the workings of the remake world. This is one of those films about two lonely souls with troubled pasts who come together. […]

What do you do for an encore?

Thoughts on ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ and sequel fatigue. J upiter Ascending, the sci-fi mega-flop from 2015, left me with quasi-philosophical thoughts. Had it actually been a good movie, these thoughts would have come from inside it, from what it’s about, from how it’s been made – but these were outside thoughts. I […]

“Te3n”… A thoroughly underwhelming thriller

Spoilers ahead… Eight years. That’s how long John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) has been chasing a ghost. His granddaughter was kidnapped and she turned up dead – he wants justice. He wants to find the kidnapper who vanished into thin air. He keeps haunting the local police station, where the top cop (Sarita, played by Vidya […]

“Oru Naal Koothu”… For the most part, an effectively low-key drama

Spoilers ahead… An early scene in Nelson Venkatesan’s Oru Naal Koothu depicts the first step in an arranged-marriage scenario – the girl is presented to a young man and his family. The song on the soundtrack threw me for a second. It’s a retuned version of Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s Eppo varuvaaro, and it seemed like preposterous […]

“Housefull 3.”… A flat, unfunny “comedy” that needed far better actors

Spoilers ahead… The surprise in Housefull 3 isn’t that it’s spectacularly unfunny. It’s that it needn’t have been so. Sajid-Farhad, who wrote and directed this film (that a “director,” leave alone two, was needed for this mess is surely some kind of in-joke), are good at thinking up running gags. There’s one about three women […]

In search of Kryptonite

Looking back at those two games in the fourth and final set of the French Open, when it seemed Superman might be invincible after all. There was a point during the French Open when I discovered how badly I wanted Andy Murray to win. I wasn’t rooting for him when he won the first set. […]

“Iraivi”… An interesting feminist film that subverts  “you go, girl” clichés

Spoilers ahead… Dear Karthik Subbaraj, Congratulations on yet another interesting movie, and for resisting the impulse to name this one, too, after a food item. Iraivi is an unusual feminist film, in the sense that it’s seen entirely through the prism of sympathetic male characters. Your men aren’t monsters who drink or cheat on their […]

“Velainnu Vanthutta Vellakaran”… Some big laughs in a comedy that needed a better script

Spoilers ahead… Every comedian has his time. This is Soori’s time. He was the best thing about last week’s Idhu Namma Aalu. He’s one of the best things about Ezhil’s Velainnu Vandhutta Vellakaran, a film best described by a quote the director gave The Hindu: “I have high BP. So I prefer to make and […]

A legend walked into a bar…

Tanmay Bhat has every right to mock Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar. But a little sensitivity wouldn’t hurt. Is comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video-spoof depicting a trash-talking Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar cause for offence? Before addressing this question, we may have to ask another one: Is it funny? The video shows Bhat playing Tendulkar and […]

“Waiting”… A lightweight drama about love and loss

Spoilers ahead… In the best scene in Anu Menon’s Waiting, Tara (Kalki Koechlin) is sending off her friend Ishita (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee). Tara’s husband Rajat (Arjun Mathur) has been in an accident, and he’s now in a coma in a hospital in Kochi. (He was there on work; the couple lives in Mumbai.) Ishita flew down […]

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