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When it was sixty-four

‘A Hard Day’s Night’ turns 50 this July. It’s a great ticket to ride back to a swinging era… How does one truly get the Beatles? This isn’t about their music, which, like any music, doesn’t belong to any single generation, even the one that it was birthed in. We do, after all, listen to […]

“Ek Villain”… A few bad men

Spoilers ahead… If the movies have taught us anything, it’s this: Whenever a blood-spattered gangster falls in love, he will get in touch with his inner twelve-year-old girl. Thus, in Mohit Suri’s Ek Villain, Guru (Siddharth Malhotra) transforms from a thug who douses a man in kerosene and shoves him into a fire to a […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Four decades later, a flashback”

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao remembers ‘Dikkatra Parvathi’, his first film in Tamil, based on Rajaji’s story. Singeetam Srinivasa Rao’s first film was in Telugu, a 1972 comedy named Neeti Nijayiti. It flopped. For his second film, he wanted to do something different. “At that time, there was this big art-cinema movement,” he told me last week. […]

“Vetri Selvan”… The best laid plans…

Spoilers ahead… A filmmaker sees something horrible. It gnaws at his soul. After nights spent writhing in torment, he decides that he needs to exorcise those feelings – and what better way than to create a work of art, with each scene, every line of dialogue a stinging whiplash on the aspect of society that […]

“Vadacurry”… The spirit of a skit

Spoilers ahead… The plot of Vadacurry is a spin on the race-against-time thriller we saw in Neram, but before you go in expecting more of the same – namely, sharply drawn characters, evocative location photography, scenes that segue neatly into the next and gather narrative momentum – you must know that the director, Saravana Rajan, […]

“Humshakals”… What a drag

Spoilers ahead… Humshakals opens with a scene where Ashok (Saif Ali Khan) is doing stand-up comedy. At least, he seems to think he’s doing stand-up comedy – he’s really just unleashing PJs that were old when our grandfathers were in school. The audience, understandably, departs in droves. Ashok’s best buddy Kumar (Riteish Deshmukh) – Ashok… […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Kerala days”

Is the Malayalam film industry making the best mainstream cinema today? Once upon a time, I used to watch cinema from all over India – every Sunday afternoon, on Doordarshan. I remember, especially, the Malayalam films like Koodevide and Alicinte Anveshanam, which were neither all-out arty nor fully commercial – it was the middle-of-the-road-style that […]

The supreme court

Is there another sport as epic, as dramatic as tennis? A couple of weeks ago, as I was walking on the footpath, I came in front of a ladder that was propped against one of the stores on the side. A man standing on one of the upper rungs was painting over some existing signage, […]

“Mundasupatti”… Light camera action

Spoilers ahead… Mundasupatti, directed by Ram, is filled with wry little gags. It’s set in the 1980s, so it’s inevitable that we are treated to Ilayaraja’s hits. One of them, Mudhal mudhalaaga kaadhal duet paada vandhene, plays on the radio next to Gopi (Vishnu Vishal, in an endearingly dopey shag) after he falls for Kalaivaani […]

“Naan Thaan Bala”… Friends with benedictions

Spoilers ahead… In Naan Than Bala, Vivek plays the eponymous character, a priest who lives in an agraharam in Kumbakonam. He refuses to move elsewhere as his aged parents live with him. When a priest in the US invites him over – the donations are in dollars – Bala refuses. He says that our parents […]

“Fugly”… Dross capital

Spoilers ahead… Fugly gets at least a part of its name right. The film is filled with “ugly” behaviour. There are ugly cops, politicians, mediapeople – even the regular folks are ugly. A schoolgirl waves a sweet goodbye to her parents, and the minute she steps out, she musses up her hair and begins to […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Figures and facts”

Box-office numbers tell only a part of the Tom Cruise story, so why aren’t we looking at the other narratives? If Edge of Tomorrow, the new Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller, has taught us anything, it’s this: Your film could gross some $29 million in its first three days in the US, and some $110 million […]

“Filmistaan”… Access Bollywood

Spoilers ahead… Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan gets going when an affable Indian named Sunny (the fantastic Sharib Hashmi, who looks like Satish Kaushik in his college days) is captured by militants and held hostage in Pakistan. We get a glimpse of Sunny’s plight through an early scene where a local cop drives up to the film […]

“Holiday”… A vacation for the brain

Spoilers ahead… Watching Holiday, AR Murugadoss’s remake of his Tamil hit Thuppakki, we are able to see better what made the earlier film work. One, the fact that the other big-budget, hero-worshipping Tamil films that year – Thaandavam and Maattrraan – turned out to be terrible, and Thuppakki showed up just in time for audiences […]

“Un Samayalarayil”… Food of love

Spoilers ahead… Prakash Raj’s Un Samayalarayil is the love story of a man who is 90 and a woman who is 75. At least, that’s what it might look like to viewers of Tamil cinema who – exceptions like Pannaiyarum Padminiyum apart – are force-fed a diet of young love. (With that title, it’s hard […]

“Manjapai”… Aging bull

Spoilers ahead… In the scene that opens Manjapai, directed by N Ragavan, an elderly villager (Raj Kiran) writes out “amma” and “appa” on a writing slate and asks his grandson to read the words out loud. The boy says “thatha.” The heart-warming (or bile-inducing, depending on your constitution) song that follows lets us know that […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A for effort? Or achievement?”

When it comes to reviewing, what the film is about is less important than how the film goes about realising its ambitions. I wasn’t very impressed with Hansal Mehta’s CityLights, and when I wrote a fairly negative review, a reader complained, “Even assuming that ‘Citylights’ doesn’t break new ground in terms of cinematic narrative, is […]

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