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“Sarabham”… Active vice

Spoilers ahead… Arun Mohan’s intriguingly titled Sarabham is a classic noir-style mystery. It has the patsy, the femme fatale, the plot with more twists than a jalebi – what it doesn’t have is a consistent mood, and noir just isn’t noir without mood. This is one of those films where they appear to have spent […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Slumming it…”

On good actors in not-so-good movies. Or sometimes downright terrible ones, like “Kick”. It’s sometimes a bit of a shock to see a good actor in a bad movie – and it’s always actors that make us feel this way. We say nothing when a famous lawyer takes on a case that doesn’t deserve his […]

The king of tragedy

Thoughts on a lopsided autobiography of Dilip Kumar, which sheds light on the actor’s early life and career, but skimps on what we really want to know. A few pages into Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, an autobiography “narrated to Udayatara Nayar,” Dilip Kumar admits that he does not know how he came […]

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”… Dial W for whimsy

Spoilers ahead… Just to get the formalities out of the way, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a shaggy dog story – rather, a shaggy drawing story. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge of the titular establishment, inherits a priceless painting that goes by the name of… Boy with Apple, which sounds like someone’s tongue-in-cheek homage […]

“Thirumanam Ennum Nikkah”… Wedding woes

Spoilers ahead… How far will you go when you’re in love and the going gets tough? Throwing yourself off a cliff is easy – you’re dead. It’s more difficult to stay alive and persevere, even if it means a drastic realignment of your life. Jai’s character, in Anees’s Thirumanam Enum Nikkah, chooses the tougher option […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The genre and the specific”

“Gay movie.” “AIDS movie.” “Chick flick.” Thoughts on the informal tags we slap on films… By the time you read this, the Chennai International Queer Film Festival (or to call it by its proper name, Reel Desires: Chennai International Queer Film Festival) will be on its last day. And if things go according to plan, […]

“Velaiyilla Pattathari”… Idle worship

Spoilers ahead… There are films that cater to the actor, and there are films that cater to the star – in Velayilla Pattathari, Dhanush gets a film where he gets to showcase both sides. In the first half, we see Dhanush as we know him from Selvaraghavan’s early films, a loser named Raghuvaran who just […]

“Sathuranga Vettai”… Spicy con masala

Spoilers ahead… In an early scene in H Vinoth’s Sathuranga Vettai, Gandhi Babu (Natraj, who’s quite good) sells a businessman a snake. What he’s really selling, though, is snake oil. He’s a conman, and the film – inspired by true events, we’re told at the beginning – is a series of cons. Vinoth employs a […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “An offer you cannot refuse”

Thoughts on “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which comes off, at times, like the “Godfather: Part II.” While watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it occurred to me that this film is to its predecessor (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) what The Godfather: Part II is to The Godfather. […]

“Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania”… Old wooin’, new bottle

Spoilers ahead… Is this retro season? If last week’s Lekar Hum Deewana Dil dragged the old elopement dramas into the modern day, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya updates a certain kind of romantic melodrama that was popular in the 1990s. When a lovelorn youth (Rakesh ‘Humpty’ Sharma, played by Varun Dhawan) is licking his wounds after […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Coming attractions”

Thoughts on trailers in general and the ‘Gone Girl’ trailer in particular. I cannot wait to see Gone Girl. For one, it’s directed by David Fincher – that makes it an automatic must-see. Two, I’ve read the book, and its halfway twist is easily one of the best acts of rug-pulling I’ve encountered. It’s genius. […]

Switching channels

Baradwaj Rangan gets used to the idea of life without TV. I am amazed at myself. The last time I was so amazed at myself was when I discovered that I could touch my toes without bending my knees. Okay, so I bent my knees a little. But that doesn’t count as cheating. We are […]

“Lekar Hum Deewana Dil”… Shit happens

Spoilers ahead… In theory, Lekar Hum Deewana Dil, directed by Arif Ali (brother of Imtiaz), is pretty interesting – it turns the elopement trope of our cinema on its head. In the older movies, when the boy and girl eloped, it was the result of deep, unflinching love. They met, they sang songs, and when […]

“Arima Nambi”… Hollywood calling

Spoilers ahead… At the beginning of Arima Nambi, Arjun (Vikram Prabhu) and his friends are unwinding with drinks. They do the usual things youngsters in Tamil cinema do when they unwind with drinks. Their conversation zeroes in on sarakku, figure. There’s a song. There’s dancing. Only, this isn’t a TASMAC bar. It isn’t a kuthu […]

“Bobby Jasoos”… Hyd and seek

Spoilers ahead… Bobby Jasoos, a low-key charmer set in Hyderabad, makes you wonder why more filmmakers don’t step out of their Mumbai-Delhi-London cocoons and locate their tales in the various nooks of India, each of which comes with its own lingo, colours, food, sensibility, cultural and religious complexions, and even architecture that’s a cinematographer’s dream. […]

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