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“Tamanchey”… This crime story needed more chemistry

Spoilers ahead… Some actors you don’t have any opinion about. It isn’t about whether they’re good or bad – it’s just that they don’t have much of a presence. They blend right into the scenery. Nikhil Dwivedi is one of those actors, the cinematic equivalent of a potted plant or the daytime sky. The hard-edged […]

“Nee Naan Nizhal”… Good ideas that needed better handling in an online love story that’s also a thriller

Spoilers ahead… On the face of it, Nee Naan Nizhal is fairly far-removed from the concerns of the typical Tamil movie. The young hero (Rohit, played by Arjun Lal) and his Coimbatore-based friends are part of a pop-rock group, and in one of their practice sessions we hear them performing Hum tere bin, the ballad […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “ ‘Impure’ Tamilians? ”

The reviews for the Tamil film ‘Madras’ suggest that most English-language writers are divorced from a certain kind of reality. Pa Ranjith’s Madras is the work of a good, thoughtful filmmaker. It’s a supremely well-made film, but not especially well-written. The narrative superstructure is derivative, and Ranjith doesn’t do enough to make his film different. […]

Kamal Haasan – Part 7

The seventh part of the Kamal Haasan interview about his life in the arts can be found here. The newer installments are below the older ones….Filed under: Arts: Indian

“Haider”… Very well made, if a tad too footnote-heavy – but why ‘Hamlet’?

Spoilers ahead… It’s possible to imagine an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet without the balcony scene – not ideal, but conceivable. Julius Caeasar, too, you could probably rewrite without Mark Antony’s appeal to friends, Romans and countrymen. But a rendering of Hamlet without the prince’s most famous soliloquy is unthinkable. Even those who haven’t read […]

Coming soon…

Books, Cinema, Cinema: Hindi, Cinema: Tamil, Music: Indian Film

Acts of life

Naseeruddin Shah’s memoir is unflinching, evocative, witty, even if feels somewhat incomplete. Sometime during the “bone-wrenchingly boring six-month shoot” of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Naseeruddin Shah began to type out what would become a memoir. In the book, titled And Then One Day, Shah explains why. “For me it’s an exorcism of sorts, and […]

“Haider”… Very well made, if a tad too footnote-heavy – but why Hamlet?

Spoilers ahead… It’s possible to imagine an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet without the balcony scene – not ideal, but conceivable. Julius Caeasar, too, you could probably rewrite without Mark Antony’s appeal to friends, Romans and countrymen. But a rendering of Hamlet without the prince’s most famous soliloquy is unthinkable. Even those who haven’t read […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The hunt for other cinema”

Scattered thoughts on foreign films. Plus, the disturbing ‘Jagten,’ a ‘child sex abuse’ movie that isn’t really about child sex abuse. I wanted to write about one of the better foreign films I’ve seen this year – Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish film Jagten (The Hunt) – but first I thought I should write about our relationship […]

“Yaan”… All icing, no cake

Spoilers ahead… You’d think a big budget would automatically make for a better movie – imagine the freedoms of a director who can do anything he wants. He can afford the best writers, the best technicians, the best locations… Why, then, do so many big movies end up so lacking, so unmemorable? Ravi K Chandran […]

“Bang Bang!”… Products, products everywhere

Spoilers ahead… I’d heard that Knight and Day was really bad, and then, long after its release, I caught it on TV and found that it was quite fun. Sidhdharth Anand’s Hindi remake, titled Bang Bang!, could be something similar. It’s way too long for this kind of movie, but at least on TV you […]

“Madras”… Beautifully made, but with little to say

Spoilers ahead… It’s probably very reductionist to describe Pa Ranjith’s Madras as Sathya meets Subramaniyapuram – but that’s how I saw the film. From the former, we get a young man’s coming of age against a knavish political backdrop. Like Kamal Haasan’s character, Kaali (Karthi) is a graduate with a merry bunch of friends, and […]

“Jeeva”… Well played, but only up to a point

Spoilers ahead… With last year’s Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer, the director Suseenthiran took a major step forward, towards the smallish pantheon we have, but with Jeeva, it’s two steps back. The film narrates the story of the eponymous cricketer (Vishnu Vishal), and it begins well enough, with a flashback of kids in a playground. Can anyone […]

Kamal Haasan – Part 6

The sixth part of the Kamal Haasan interview about his life in the arts can be found here. The newer installments are below the older ones….Filed under: Arts: Indian

I candy

Thoughts on AR Rahman’s gloriously fun and wholly individual soundtrack for the new Shankar film. You know that familiar Tamil-cinema contrivance where a prisoner in handcuffs is being led away in a police van, and the van stops at a crossing, and the prisoner looks around furtively and sees a chance, and as the cops […]

“Finding Fanny”… Lots of quirk, but little else

Spoilers ahead… I am relieved to report that Finding Fanny isn’t about the search for a pair of buttocks – not that much searching is needed in the case of Rosie (Dimple Kapadia), whose well-upholstered posterior would raise Rubens from the grave. Rosie is the local busybody in the Goan village of Pocolim, and she […]

“Burma”… A new-gen director debuts with a splash

Spoilers ahead… Some films take an eternity to find a footing. Burma hits the ground running. From the first frame, we know we are in sure hands. The director, Dharanidharan, is a genuine filmmaker – not just because he has the craft, but because he loves the medium. And this love is evident throughout. Take […]

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