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The Amateur’s Art #4 – “The Robbery” (English)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Thulasidasan Jeewaratinam.  Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“Akira”… Can’t hold a candle to the original

Spoilers ahead… To know the kind of filmmaker AR Murugadoss is, you only need the scene from Akira (a mostly faithful remake of the Tamil sleeper hit Mounaguru), where the victim of an acid attack sees herself in the mirror after her bandages come off. The people around her – family, friends – don’t make […]

Conversations with Mahesh Bhatt

This April, at this event, I was invited to converse with Mahesh Bhatt about Smita Patil. It took a while, but the video is finally here. Really enjoyed the conversation. Hope you do too. Filed under: Cinema: Hindi, Personal

“Kutrame Thandanai”… Carefully, thoughtfully made, but something’s missing

Spoilers ahead… The title of Manikandan’s new film – Kutrame Thandanai (Crime is Punishment) – may appear to knock on Dostoevsky’s door, but the film owes more to Alfred Hitchcock and Rear Window. At least for a while. The opening scenes are set in a crowded tenement complex, and we observe the goings on from […]

“Kidaari”… Needed fewer sickles, more suspense

Spoilers ahead… If you’ve wondered what the archetypal Agatha Christie whodunit would look like if transplanted into Sattur soil, you have your answer in Prasath Murugesan’s Kidaari. The film begins with big shot Kombiah (Vela Ramamurthy) stabbed in the neck. He cannot scream for help. His bloodied hands reach for something he can make a […]

The Amateur’s Art #3 – “Uruvagam” (Tamil)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Harish Sampath. Best wishes. Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

The Amateur’s Art #2 – “Agadiyam” (Tamil)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Best wishes. Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“54321.”… In-your-face style cannot compensate for hollow writing

Spoilers ahead… Director Raghavendra Prasad likes gimmicks. His first film is called 54321. Why? Because it’s about… 5 people, 4 lifestyles, 3 murders, 2 hours, 1 act of revenge. His filmmaking is equally flashy. A recurring trope is the freeze frame presented as a three-dimensional space, through which the camera “travels” in order to set […]

“A Flying Jatt”… An amiably silly superhero film flounders when it gets serious

Spoilers ahead… An indigenous superhero who isn’t just generically Indian but a Sikh? Part of me says “What an idea, sir-ji,” while the other part wonders if what we need now is the celebration – rather, valourisation – of specific communities as saviours. (Whatever next? Captain Arora? Iyer Man?) But at least for a while, […]

The Amateur’s Art #1 – “Kadesi Aasai”

I’m starting a sub-section in the blog to host films by amateur filmmakers and get them more eyeballs than on the vast, anonymous seas of YouTube. These films are not going to be rigorously curated. The idea is more to help these filmmakers get noticed rather than separate wheat from chaff. But that does not […]

Mouna Raagam: 30 years

Just read on the net that the film that was Mani Ratnam’s first hit — the first film that we can now identify as “a Mani Ratnam film,” auteurist touches and all — turned 30 this month. I haven’t seen ‘Mouna Raagam’ in a while, so I don’t know how I’ll respond to it today, […]

“Happy Bhag Jayegi”… Should have been much better, but some really big laughs

Spoilers ahead… Imagine you wanted to make Tanu Weds Manu 3 and Kangana Ranaut did not have the dates. Who would you cast? Who else, among the current set of actresses, can embody this… this… force of nature? Anand L Rai, director of the Tanu Weds Manu films and one of the producers of Happy […]

“Dharmadurai”… A terrific story loses its way thanks to literalness, noble-mindedness

Spoilers ahead… At first, it appears like another lazy appropriation of a Rajinikanth film title, in accordance with Tamil cinema’s belief (or maybe desperate hope) that some of the Superstar’s luck will rub off on the film: a decent man named Dharmadurai (‘Makkal Selvan’ Vijay Sethupathi, phoning in his performance) exploited by unscrupulous brothers. But […]

“Rustom”… Vaguely watchable, and that may be overstating it

Spoilers ahead… I hadn’t heard of the Nanavati trial until I watched Bombay Velvet, and then I realised I’d seen two films loosely based on it: Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke and Achanak. These films – like Rustom, the latest iteration – don’t really try to recreate the sordid (and sensational) case. They are content […]

“Mohenjo Daro”… Every bit the film the trailer led us to fear

Spoilers ahead… Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro opens with a big disclaimer that none of what’s to follow should be taken too seriously. I suppose this injunction is meant for those who missed the trailer with the flying crocodile, but it does make sense, especially when you see what it really means: This isn’t a history […]

“Joker”… Despite the preachiness, an affecting drama

Spoilers ahead… When we first meet Mannar Mannan (Guru Somasundaram), the protagonist of Joker, he’s squatting behind his home, reading the newspaper and relieving himself. The crudeness of the image is intentional – everything about it is. We’re meant to see that there’s no proper toilet, and slowly, we will see how important this toilet […]

“Wagah”… A misfire on many levels

Spoilers ahead… In Wagah, Vikram Prabhu plays Vasu, a young man from a village in Sivagangai who joins the BSF and ends up patrolling parts of Kashmir abutting “the most dangerous border in the world.” But Vasu is no patriot. As a boy, he enrolled in the NCC because the girl he liked was in […]

The five-ringed circus

Do you find it odd that every four years, we sit in front of the television and watch someone be declared the world’s best at… javelin-throwing? I can understand the allure of the sport before, say, the invention of guns. Had television existed a millennium ago, it’s not hard to imagine Native American tribes setting […]

“Budhia Singh – Born to Run”… A solid drama that transcends rah-rah sports-biopic clichés and raises big questions

Spoilers ahead… A quick refresher from Wiki is all you need to know why a movie was begging to be made from the story of Budhia Singh: “Budhia Awooga Singh (born 2002) is an Indian boy and the world’s youngest marathon runner. Singh was born in the state of Odisha. He ran from Bhubaneswar to […]

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