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“Happy Ending”… Hip surfaces, but downright clichéd at heart

Spoilers ahead… Happy Ending, which is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., begins with a scene in a cinema hall where a surprise guest star declares her love to Yudi (Saif Ali Khan). A startled Yudi’s response is to spill Coke on his shirt and stuff his face with popcorn, so he doesn’t have […]

Us and Them

With a new Pink Floyd album out, Baradwaj Rangan reflects on the band’s longstanding popularity with kids across college campuses in India. So Pink Floyd have a new album out. It’s called The Endless River, which sounds about right for a Pink Floyd album. It’s the kind of name the band is so fond of, […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Time for a toon-up”

Thoughts on animated features, which aren’t just for kids, and ‘Big Hero 6’, which is. “But that’s an animated movie!” I hear some version of this when I say I’m going to watch… well, an animated movie. It’s surprising how, even today, so many people think that animated films are only for children – something […]

“Vanmam”… So indifferently made, it’s shocking

Spoilers ahead… After watching Soodhu Kavvum, I wrote, “Vijay Sethupathi, the poster boy of this cinema, was welcomed in his first scene with cheers and claps usually reserved for mass heroes making their entry. It’s the sweetest sound I’ve heard in years.” But then, those are just A-centre cheers and claps, and if we know […]

“Thirudan Police”… Some tonal problems, but the comedy works

Spoilers ahead… Tamil cinema has always sought shelter in the amma sentiment, and at some point, the appa sentiment pitched a tent and set up camp as well. But when, exactly? Sure, there were the Sivaji Ganesan dramas where he kept screaming at his son (usually played by Srikanth), but those films were about ideological […]

“Kill/Dil”… More po-mo pranks from Shaad Ali, but count this as a misfire

Spoilers ahead… If you’re one of the four others on the planet who liked Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, you should check out Shaad Ali’s follow-up Kill/Dil – not because of the film itself (it’s pretty much a disaster), but because of the film’s style, which basically does for the gangster movie what JBJ did to the […]

“Gnana Kirukkan”… Sad lives, in a sad excuse for a movie

Spoilers ahead… If they made T-shirts for down-on-their-luck villagers who inhabit a certain tract of Tamil cinema, this is what the slogan would read: “Life’s a bitch. Then you end up in Chennai.” Eleyadevan’s Gnanakirukkan begins with a harrowing scene of childbirth in a nondescript village, and then the father (Ganesan, played by Daniel Balaji), […]

“Appuchi Gramam”… Less Bradbury than Bharathiraja, but that’s part of the charm

Spoilers ahead… The conceit is gold. A meteor is headed towards earth. It’s the end of the world. At least, it’s the end of Tamil Nadu. The localization isn’t a surprise. Had the same scenario played out in a Hollywood movie, the events would be set in Anycity, America, with the occasional TV shot convincing […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The curious case of a buttoned-down movie”

Thoughts on the ho-hum film version of a book that I found a knockout (made by a director who’s usually a knockout). It’s hard to say why an eagerly anticipated movie – like David Fincher’s Gone Girl – doesn’t work for you. Part of the problem may be the eager anticipation itself. A book you […]

“Rang Rasiya”… A film about art, made with very little artistry

Spoilers ahead… It’s the wedding night. The groom is the man who will go on to become the famous painter, Raja Ravi Varma (Randeep Hooda). His bride, smiling shyly, makes a move to blow out the oil lamp. He stops her. “Let it be,” he says. “I want to look at you.” She doesn’t comply, […]

“The Shaukeens”… Where’s the sex? And where’s the comedy?

Spoilers ahead… Why can’t we make a good sex comedy? Perhaps the problem lies with the Censor Board that demands cuts instead of rating films according to content. And surely, part of the problem lies with the audience too – the screening of The Shaukeens I attended was filled with children, and with them in […]

“Arjunin Jai Hind 2.”… ‘Well, if you liked Jai Hind…’

Spoilers ahead… In some parallel dimension we aren’t aware of, there must be theatre chains screening Mysskinin Jai Hind 2 and Mani Ratnamin Jai Hind 2 and Selvaraghavanin Jai Hind 2, and to avoid confusion, star and director Arjun appends his name to his movie: it’s called Arjunin Jai Hind 2. Not that there’s much […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The man who does too much”

Thoughts on a filmmaker who wants to be considered so deep, it must hurt to be him. Has there been another director who has laboured as much as Christopher Nolan to make simple, generic stories look impressively complex? In Memento (Nolan’s first biggish movie; it still holds up very well), a routine revenge saga was […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Hell on screen”

Thoughts on the violence in ‘12 Years a Slave’ versus ‘Lacombe Lucien,’ which was co-written by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I wanted to write about Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien when I saw 12 Years a Slave. The brutality depicted in the latter film bothered me, and it took me back […]

Names of south Indian noir films…

Sidharth Bhatia is doing some research on crime films, esp from the 1950s and 60s. He need the names of some really well known Noirish films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada from the time. I have sent him some names in Tamil, but do write in about anything you have in mind (either in this space […]

“Nerungi Vaa Muthamidathe”… Needed more tension, but well-written and keeps us guessing

Spoilers ahead… What would Nerungi Vaa Muthamidaathe look like had it been a star vehicle, with a bigger budget? For one, the protagonist Chandru (Shabeer) would have been bumped up to hero – his journey from Trichy to Karaikal, driving a truck with stolen diesel, would have been the story. Maya (Pia Bajpai), who ends […]

A walk through time

Thoughts on the remarkable “Before” films – “Sunrise,” “Sunset” and “Midnight”. There’s a reason I kept putting off watching Before Midnight, the third and final instalment of Richard Linklater’s chronicle of the evolving relationship of Jesse and Céline. I wanted to catch up on the earlier two films first – and now that I have, […]

Hell on screen

Thoughts on the violence in ‘12 Years a Slave’ versus ‘Lacombe Lucien,’ which was co-written by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I wanted to write about Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien when I saw 12 Years a Slave. The brutality depicted in the latter film bothered me, and it took me back […]

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