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Women and song

So there’s a new Gautham Menon movie out this week. I look forward to his films, for two reasons mainly. One, to see the way the heroine has been shaped. I know. This is borderline-blasphemy considering it’s essentially an Ajith movie and all, but even in Menon’s big-star outings like Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu – the kind […]

“Khamoshiyan”… More stupidity than scares

Spoilers ahead… As Khamoshiyan opens, we see a mansion – its name: Lakeside Manor – and over it, we hear a man’s voice. “Kal raat phir wohi khwaab dekha.” And I thought this was going to be a retread of Rebecca. First, there is that looming mansion, redolent of Manderley. Then there’s the line itself, […]

The Bishop and the Beautiful

When I heard about the demise of Colleen McCullough a few days ago, I felt a twinge. Maybe “twinge” is too strong a word, but right now, I’m unable to think of an alternative. Maybe it’s easier to describe the emotion behind the word I’m groping for. Remember the boy who sat next to you […]

“Hawaizaada”… A good director flounders without a good script

Spoilers ahead… Some of our politicians are going to be very, very happy with Vibhu Puri’s Hawaizaada. (About that title – is it just me, or did you too feel, when you first encountered it, that you’d heard a swearword?) The film posits that an Indian named Shivkar Bapuji Talpade invented the airplane eight years […]

“Isai”… Lots of problems, but the preposterous plot pulls you through

Spoilers ahead… SJ Surya’s Isai begins with a curious disclaimer, that what we’re about to see is fiction. Wait. Isn’t that obvious? After all, this isn’t a biopic. But slowly, we begin to see why this bit of bordering-on-legalese was necessary. The film tells the story of a famous film-music composer named “Isai Vendhan” Vetrichelvan […]

“Baby”… A solid entertainer with a semblance of reality

Spoilers ahead… Watching Akshay Kumar as covert ops specialist Ajay Singh Rajput in the new thriller Baby, I began to wonder if there was another star who would have been equally at home in this exceptionally physical role. Salman has the muscles, yes, but with him, the film would have turned more escapist and pop-py. […]

“Dolly Ki Doli”… A flat comedy that should have been more serious

Spoilers ahead… Dolly Ki Doli opens with a long, concentrated narrative stretch that zooms in on Sonu (Rajkummar Rao) and Dolly (Sonam Kapoor). The first time we see them, they’re in a car by a railway crossing. He leans in to kiss her. She simpers and shakes her head. Shaadi ke baad. He sulks that […]

“Aambala”… Bits of comedy, a lot of useless filler, and at least one existential question

Spoilers ahead… The ideal Sundar C movie would last 30 minutes. Don’t believe me? Then do the math yourself. Aambala, for instance, goes on for some two-and-a-half hours. The songs take up about half an hour, and they add nothing – despite the fact that the tunes by Hiphop Thamizha are really catchy. Take away […]

“I”… A terrific performance let down by an uninspired, exhausting movie

Spoilers ahead… Is there another filmmaker as fascinated by the double role as Shankar? (Even the frivolous Jeans is riveted by the sight of twins.) Where others employ this trope as merely a means to magnify the hero – see two stars for the price of one! – or maybe to flesh out the separated-at-birth […]

“Tevar”… Amidst masala clichés, a new director leaves a mark

Spoilers ahead… I wonder who coined the phrase “dishoom-dishoom.” It has to be an Indian, and it has to have come from watching Indian cinema. No other filmic tradition has featured, so consistently, the action sequences that produce this sound. It’s a great bit of onomatopoeia – close your eyes and say the phrase loud, […]

Bitty Ruminations 79

Part of the fun in maintaining a blog is glancing, occasionally, at the search terms that led to said blog. By now, I am used to the fact that not everyone is going to land up here using search phrases like “hail the great awesome genius Baradwaj Rangan” — I get that. I get that […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A matter of same”

Thoughts on Rajkumar Hirani, formula films, and the astonishingly successful ‘pk’. Most of us turn filmmakers when something we’re watching doesn’t satisfy us. If X occurs and we’re not happy with it, if our mind screams out “this cannot be happening,” then we automatically come up with alternatives. It’s our way of making peace, finding […]

Freedom of speech: an alien concept?

The protests against ‘pk’ bring up the question: When the people themselves don’t mind, why are self-appointed people’s representatives getting all hot and bothered? Centuries ago, a Hindu named Vatsyayana wrote a treatise that, if filmed, would never clear the Censor Board today. The erotic imagination of another Hindu named Jayadeva, whose Gita Govinda depicts […]

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 1,400,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 60 days for that many people to see […]

My top twenty

Recalling the Tamil films of 2014 that, even if not great in the overall sense, stood out for some reason(s). Here, in alphabetical order. Appuchi Gramam: A meteor threatens to annihilate a tiny village in a clever little subversion of the Hollywood disaster epic. Stuffed with a ton of clichés, yet the sci-fi backdrop makes […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A ticket to Bizarro World”

Notes from a random day at the 12th Chennai International Film Festival. Under normal circumstances, this would have given me an aneurysm. I walked into a film a couple of minutes late. If that wasn’t bad enough, I did not know the name of the film. I know you think I’m being overdramatic with all […]

“Kayal”… Has its moments, but strains too hard to be an epic

Spoilers ahead… The ignition point of every love story is the stretch where the hero and heroine meet – and in Kayal, the director Prabhu Solomon gives us a wonderfully orchestrated sequence. Aaron (Chandran) and his friend Socrates (Vincent) have unknowingly abetted a crime – at least, it’s a crime in the eyes of the […]

“Meaghamann”… A pretty decent action-adventure

Spoilers ahead… A young drug-cartel employee named Siva is shown to be a bad shot – such a bad shot that he misses even the outermost circle of the target board in front of him. (The bullet pathetically pierces the surrounding wooden frame instead.) A little later, Siva is shown to be having an affair […]

A ladies’ man

‘Avargal’ is a good place to begin analysing K Balachander’s unique, complicated and quite amazing love for his female characters. As reductive as it sounds, is there one film that sums up K Balachander? It isn’t easy – not when there are so many to choose from, but maybe we can settle on Avargal, which […]

“pk”… Funny, yes, but now it’s begun to feel like formula

Spoilers ahead… Rajkumar Hirani has often spoken about his admiration for Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s films, and it comes as no surprise. Hirani’s films, from the two Munnabhai entries to 3 Idiots, are essentially reworkings of Mukherjee’s...Show More Summary

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