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“Prem Ratan Dhan Payo”… Salman scores in unexceptional Barjatya formula

Spoilers ahead… What could explain my affection for Sooraj Barjatya’s work? My sweet tooth, definitely. But also his rootedness in an ethos that we think of – maybe “imagine” is a better word – as “Indian.” We may not be that “Indian” anymore, and we may squirm, sometimes, at his insistence on serving us orange […]

Mani matters

Much kindness from a reader. Thank you Ravishankar. Dear Sir I was gifted the book ‘Conversations with Mani Ratnam’ recently by a talented “kid” in my office for my birthday. Contrary to what I expected it was an extremely breezy read. I read Conversations with Hitchcock by Truffaut twenty five years ago in college and […]

“Thoongavanam”… An okay thriller, with goodies for Kamal-watchers

Spoilers ahead… Kamal Haasan’s films are increasingly beginning to look like the “circus thuppakki” so memorably showcased in Aboorva Sagotharargal – the kind of gun that fires from both ends. The targets at one end are the general viewers, who just want a good time at the movies. At the other end are the fans […]

Festival dates

Thoughts from a few days when Fassbinder rubbed shoulders with Rajinikanth and Guru Dutt…. How do you plan your viewing schedule at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival? One way is to simply let the film find you. Earlier this year, at the Berlinale, the documentary Fassbinder – To Love Without Demands was one of […]

Coming soon, and not just to theatres

Baradwaj Rangan reports on a film market at the Mumbai Film Festival, which hopes to help directors like Vetri Maaran target the screens on your laptops and smartphones. On the second day of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, the producer Guneet Monga (The Lunchbox, Gangs of Wasseypur, Shaitan) screened a two-minute trailer of her […]

New clichés for love

Greeting cards still exist. Okay, at some level I knew they hadn’t become extinct, exactly, but when was the last time you saw one? I saw one when a friend and I ducked into a small stationery store. Someone in her office was retiring. She wanted one of those cards that everyone can scribble you-will-be-missed […]

“Main Aur Charles”… A slick, not-bad thriller

Spoilers ahead… We remember Charles Sobhraj as a serial killer, but Prawaal Raman’s biopic (though it doesn’t actually call itself one, or use the name “Sobhraj”) Main Aur Charles isn’t very interested in murders and gore. It follows the time-tested Godfather or Don strategy of hinting at a bad side but focusing on the things […]

“Guddu Ki Gun”… Not enough meat

Spoilers ahead… A monumental sex comedy could be erected from the premise of a young man who finds, one day, that his “man power” has transformed into a “sone ka tower” – but Guddu Ki Gun isn’t it. It isn’t for lack of trying, though. Kunal Khemu is game as ever – he must have […]

“Titli”… A sharp portrait of family traps and flights to freedom

Spoilers ahead… Violent films usually invite us to take off our politically correct hats and indulge our inner atavists. The spurts of blood in the work of Scorsese and Tarantino are like the money shots in porn films – we get off on them. There’s a very different kind of violence in Kanu Behl’s Titli […]

The heart will go on, and on, and on…

Thoughts on a Malayalam documentary (and the movie it inspired) about star-crossed lovers who rival Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Ambikapathy-Amaravathi… Why do we love love stories so much? I’m talking about the genre, which we never seem to tire of. When Ram Gopal Varma made Satya and Company, we raved about them, but when his follow-ups were […]

I hate the idea that a critic is ‘reliable’…

Baradwaj Rangan catches up with Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian’s chief film critic, who was at the Mumbai Film Festival mentoring future critics.  Do you think reviews are a kind of consumer report, or are they an art form? They’re certainly not a consumer report. I can’t say whether or not you will like a film. […]

A subtler magician

The superb new Spielberg movie is a showcase for the superb new Spielberg. In a recent interview with, Guillermo del Toro – whose entertaining throwback to Gothic horror, Crimson Peak, is in theatres now – spoke of his admiration for Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. “It’s preternaturally nimble with such grace in […]

“Sivappu”… Not dismissible, but not much more either

Spoilers ahead… Sivappu, directed by Sathyashiva, begins with some tight writing. A construction worker falls to her death, and this tragedy gives us multiple insights. One, the working conditions are unsafe. Two, women are in especial danger. (The fall may have been the result of a rape attempt.) Three, Konaar (Rajkiran) is the general fixer-upper […]

“Shaandaar”… A misfire, but an interesting one

Spoilers ahead… When we say “fairy tale” in the context of a certain kind of narrative, we usually refer to the deliberate unrealness, the escapist-wish-fulfilment-happiness of it all – but Vikas Bahl seems to take the term literally. His earlier film, the pleasant enough though over-praised Queen, was one. I wrote in my review that […]

“Naanum Rowdy Dhaan”… An entertainingly nutty comedy about an anti-rowdy

Spoilers ahead… A kid in a jail cell. That’s an unusual image to begin a movie with. He seems to be filling out some sort of what-I-want-be-when-I-grow-up questionnaire, and against “Ambition,” he scrawls, carefully, “Police.” His mother, after all, is a cop (played by Raadhika Sarathkumar). Soon, he slips out of the cell – he […]

“10 Enradhukulla”… A slipshod road movie

Spoilers ahead… Vijay Milton’s 10 Enradhukulla wastes little time in letting us know that it is a hero-centric masala movie. A battered, bloody man who’s being held hostage has with him a package. He’s waiting for someone to pick it up. Pasupathy, who plays one of the villains, asks him the name of the pickup […]

“Wedding Pullav”… Stale doesn’t begin to describe it

Spoilers ahead… The most interesting aspect of Wedding Pullav is that it’s been directed by the great cinematographer Binod Pradhan, who has done stellar work with Rakeysh Mehra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. I still remember watching 1942: A Love Story on a massive 70-mm screen. It was the beginning of the song Pyar hua chupke […]

Self life

Some people laugh when I tell them I do yoga. These are people who do not do yoga, people who think yoga is standing on one hand and pedalling the air. And this type of yoga is best imagined with someone slim, someone tall, someone whose buttocks you can crack walnuts on. As I score […]

The lost world

Remembering Ravindra Jain, and the India he made music for. When I heard about Ravindra Jain’s demise, I thought of Naseeruddin Shah. Not the most obvious association, I know, but think of Jain’s title song for Sunayana, the 1979 Rajshri...Show More Summary

“Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.”… A string of funny bits in search of a movie

Spoilers ahead… Luv Ranjan, the director of Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, would probably make a good stand-up comedian. He thinks in terms of snappy bits. There’s a bit about the futility of honking in a traffic jam. There’s a bit about our parents’ obsession with the first-IIT-then-MBA course plan. There’s one about who pays for a dinner when there are six people at the table. …

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