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“CityLights”… Metro vanilla

Spoilers ahead… Something about metros makes filmmakers reach for metaphors about birds. Most recently we had Nadaan parindey, the song in Rockstar that had the protagonist calling out to pigeons that were displaced when a jungle made way for a city. It’s the other way around in Hansal Mehta’s CityLights. (About that title, apart from […]

A director is never off duty

On the eve of the release of his second Hindi film, “Holiday,” AR Murugadoss talks to Baradwaj Rangan about remakes, violence, and returning to his hometown to watch films with friends and family. Half an hour isn’t much when you think about it. It’s just thirty minutes. But to AR Murugadoss, this is time he […]

“Poovarasam Peepee”… The three find-outers

Spoilers ahead… To see the kind of movie the evocatively named Poovarasam Peepee wants to be – the title refers to a toy trumpet fashioned from the leaf of the hibiscus plant – we have to get past an awkward opening stretch. It’s the last day of school before the summer holidays. The bell rings. […]

Something in the hair

After a look at the latest film to feature a waxed hero, Baradwaj Rangan recalls the days when a man wasn’t a man until he brought along a moustache. So I’m going to begin with a disclaimer. Don’t read this article if you’re a little, uh, sensitive, if you think certain things shouldn’t be talked […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A mutant walks into a bar…”

The new, smashing X-Men movie proves that gags and light touches aren’t unwelcome in serious, near-apocalyptic stories. Whenever I say that Christopher Nolan takes himself too seriously, I’m told that that’s because Batman is a serious character and there is no way those films could be anything but serious. But Tim Burton, in his two […]

“Heropanti”… Paper tiger

Spoilers ahead… It’s a wedding. It’s Jatland. That’s not really a word but it isn’t hard to guess what it means. Like Finland is occupied by Finns, Jatland is the domain of Jats, who, we’re told, don’t believe in love before marriage. But if that were true, there would be no movie, and so the […]

The school in the forest

Tribal children. Foreign teachers. Classes named after fruits and trees. On the eve of a national educational conference to be held at its premises, Baradwaj Rangan visits the “educational experiment” that is Vidya Vanam. Maybe the boy broke the bucket. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just found the broken bucket, in the school’s premises. But […]

“Kochadaiiyaan”… The return of the king

Spoilers ahead… I suppose we should begin with this question: How is the animation, performance-capture and otherwise? Imagine that we had the kind of merchandising culture that Hollywood has perfected, wherein the release of a Star Wars movie would mean that the stores near you would carry figurines of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. You’d […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Gods and monsters”

For the average moviegoer, ‘Godzilla’ is probably a trifle underwhelming, but it does give the critic a few things to mull over. At times, Godzilla comes off like a mashup of Spielberg films. The general feel is that of War of the Worlds. The scaly creatures – Godzilla and MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) – […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Movies and memories”

Some thoughts on the fondness some of us have for film-related trivia. How do you know so much about cinema and how do you remember so much? Every time I am asked this question – which is not all that often, but frequently enough to serve as the opening for a piece such as this […]

“Manjunath”… Oil and trouble

Spoilers ahead… Manjunath is the story of an incorruptible oil-corporation employee who died in a nondescript village in Uttar Pradesh when he was 27, with six bullets in his chest. Even to those unfamiliar with the real-life Manjunath Shanmugam, a Tamilian from Karnataka, this is not a spoiler. Sandeep A. Varma, the director, opens his […]

Babysitters for adults

On the eve of the release of the new ‘Godzilla’ movie, Baradwaj Rangan muses about the generic nature of Hollywood’s summer blockbusters. I watched the new Spider-Man movie last week. I use the word “new” cautiously, for it only refers to this Spider-Man instalment being the one that was released most recently. Otherwise, it’s the […]

“Hawaa Hawaai”… Gone with the wind

Spoilers ahead… Amole Gupte makes movies about children but he doesn’t make children’s movies. Taare Zameen Par (which Gupte was involved in, but did not direct), Stanley Ka Dabba and his latest film, Hawaa Hawaai, are upbeat stories, certainly, but they’re grounded in prickly truths about the way children are and the way we treat […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A small tribute to a big legend”

A slim compilation of B Nagi Reddi’s memories is a welcome addition to the increasing number of books on Indian cinema. In the introduction to Many Shades Make a Rainbow: Reminiscences of B Nagi Reddi, the publisher (and Nagi Reddi’s son), Viswam, lays out what the book is about. He says that his father’s birth […]

“Purani Jeans”… Faded memories

Spoilers ahead… The most annoying affectation in the movies today may be the framing device set in the present day. 2 States structured its story as the flashbacks of a man baring his heart to his shrink. In Purani Jeans, we have the flashbacks of the US-returned Sid (Tanuj Virwani), an engineer who dreams of […]

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