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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 […]

“Nee Enge En Anbe”… Soul mate searching

Spoilers ahead… How does one describe atmosphere in the context of cinema? To call it the very air that the movie needs to breathe would not be an exaggeration – but that’s too unspecific. Atmosphere is in the cinematography, which adds tone and texture to the happenings. It’s in the music, which percolates from one […]

“Vaayai Moodi Pesavum”… Speak season

Spoilers ahead… The place is Panimalai. The subject is talk. A young man hesitates to tell a woman that he loves her. A father screams at his son, who’s splayed out in front of the TV instead of looking for a job. Arvind (the genial Dulquer Salman), a door-to-door salesman with a fondness for monochrome […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Book love in the time of cinema”

On Márquez. On language. On books. On movies made from them. Such are the accelerated times we live in that I wondered, in a moment of panic, if this essay might be too late. It was spurred by the demise of Gabriel García Márquez on the afternoon of 17 April, a Thursday. But that was […]

“Dekh Tamasha Dekh”… 2 faiths

Spoilers ahead… Towards the end of Dekh Tamasha Dekh, we see the police chief (Vinay Jain) of a seaside village on the phone, talking to his young son. (It’s a land line. There are no cell phones around.) He paints a beautiful picture of the place. There’s the sea, of course, and there are mermaids, […]

“Damaal Dumeel”… A shot in the dark

Spoilers ahead… In an early scene in Shree’s Damaal Dumeel, a lawyer on television goes on an anti-IT rant. He wails that his salary of Rs. 15000 is ridiculously insufficient given how expensive everything is – rather, how expensive everything has become thanks to these kids employed in software firms who earn more, spend more, […]

“Tenaliraman”… Clown of thorns

Spoilers ahead… Yuvaraj Dhayalan’s Tenaliraman isn’t about the real Tenaliraman, that wise jester of Krishnadevaraya’s court, but it opens with a classic Tenaliraman episode. (The character is played by Vadivelu, who also portrays the king of the realm, a man with 36 wives, 52 children, and a Salvador Dalí moustache.) Tenaliraman is guarding a temple […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The unknown soldiers of cinema”

A small attempt at a redress for those who did interesting, innovative, things but remain forgotten by the establishment. VK Murthy’s demise brought forth a number of justly deserved tributes, and many of them focused (rightly) on his work with Guru Dutt. They spoke about the visuals in Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool and the title […]

“Bhoothnath Returns”… The perfect ghost

Spoilers ahead… How times change. In 1984, when Amitabh Bachchan was still playing the angry young man, his cure for the malignant tumour of political corruption, in Inquilaab, was to become Chief Minister and whip out a machine gun and pump bullets into the members of his party. Now that he’s older – and, on […]

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