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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 […]

“Happy New Year”… Heil Bollywood!

Spoilers ahead… Farah Khan wouldn’t be making movies if people before her hadn’t made movies. She loves the films she grew up on, and she gives the term “tip of the hat” a whole new meaning. In Happy New Year, she tips her hat to Tezaab (the dancer-heroine, played by Deepika Padukone, is named Mohini), […]

“Poojai”… Where Hari turns auteur and… nah!

Spoilers ahead… Midway through Poojai, I had a frightening thought. The director Hari is… an auteur. I know what you’re thinking, that this is what happens when you watch way too many of these films – but hear me out. If the definition of an auteur is someone whose distinct fingerprints are all over the […]

“Kaththi”… Beneath the flab, some solid masala moments

Spoilers ahead… Had Kaththi been a film with loftier ambitions, we might say it begins in medias res – but it does begin with a bang. A prison. An escape. A freeze frame. Then, a flashback, which contains one of those procedural depictions AR Murugadoss is so fond of. (If nothing else, it must be […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The critic doth protest too much?”

Thoughts on readers’ thoughts on my thoughts on “Haider”. About the observation that I try to “find faults” with good films while giving lesser films an easy pass, here’s how it works (or at least, here’s how I think it should work). Firstly, it’s not “finding faults.” It’s not nitpicking. It’s gnawing, mental mastication. It’s […]

“Tamanchey”… This crime story needed more chemistry

Spoilers ahead… Some actors you don’t have any opinion about. It isn’t about whether they’re good or bad – it’s just that they don’t have much of a presence. They blend right into the scenery. Nikhil Dwivedi is one of those actors, the cinematic equivalent of a potted plant or the daytime sky. The hard-edged […]

“Nee Naan Nizhal”… Good ideas that needed better handling in an online love story that’s also a thriller

Spoilers ahead… On the face of it, Nee Naan Nizhal is fairly far-removed from the concerns of the typical Tamil movie. The young hero (Rohit, played by Arjun Lal) and his Coimbatore-based friends are part of a pop-rock group, and in one of their practice sessions we hear them performing Hum tere bin, the ballad […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “ ‘Impure’ Tamilians? ”

The reviews for the Tamil film ‘Madras’ suggest that most English-language writers are divorced from a certain kind of reality. Pa Ranjith’s Madras is the work of a good, thoughtful filmmaker. It’s a supremely well-made film, but not especially well-written. The narrative superstructure is derivative, and Ranjith doesn’t do enough to make his film different. […]

Kamal Haasan – Part 7

The seventh part of the Kamal Haasan interview about his life in the arts can be found here. The newer installments are below the older ones….Filed under: Arts: Indian

“Haider”… Very well made, if a tad too footnote-heavy – but why ‘Hamlet’?

Spoilers ahead… It’s possible to imagine an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet without the balcony scene – not ideal, but conceivable. Julius Caeasar, too, you could probably rewrite without Mark Antony’s appeal to friends, Romans and countrymen. But a rendering of Hamlet without the prince’s most famous soliloquy is unthinkable. Even those who haven’t read […]

Coming soon…

Books, Cinema, Cinema: Hindi, Cinema: Tamil, Music: Indian Film

Acts of life

Naseeruddin Shah’s memoir is unflinching, evocative, witty, even if feels somewhat incomplete. Sometime during the “bone-wrenchingly boring six-month shoot” of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Naseeruddin Shah began to type out what would become a memoir. In the book, titled And Then One Day, Shah explains why. “For me it’s an exorcism of sorts, and […]

“Haider”… Very well made, if a tad too footnote-heavy – but why Hamlet?

Spoilers ahead… It’s possible to imagine an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet without the balcony scene – not ideal, but conceivable. Julius Caeasar, too, you could probably rewrite without Mark Antony’s appeal to friends, Romans and countrymen. But a rendering of Hamlet without the prince’s most famous soliloquy is unthinkable. Even those who haven’t read […]

Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The hunt for other cinema”

Scattered thoughts on foreign films. Plus, the disturbing ‘Jagten,’ a ‘child sex abuse’ movie that isn’t really about child sex abuse. I wanted to write about one of the better foreign films I’ve seen this year – Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish film Jagten (The Hunt) – but first I thought I should write about our relationship […]

“Yaan”… All icing, no cake

Spoilers ahead… You’d think a big budget would automatically make for a better movie – imagine the freedoms of a director who can do anything he wants. He can afford the best writers, the best technicians, the best locations… Why, then, do so many big movies end up so lacking, so unmemorable? Ravi K Chandran […]

“Bang Bang!”… Products, products everywhere

Spoilers ahead… I’d heard that Knight and Day was really bad, and then, long after its release, I caught it on TV and found that it was quite fun. Sidhdharth Anand’s Hindi remake, titled Bang Bang!, could be something similar. It’s way too long for this kind of movie, but at least on TV you […]

“Madras”… Beautifully made, but with little to say

Spoilers ahead… It’s probably very reductionist to describe Pa Ranjith’s Madras as Sathya meets Subramaniyapuram – but that’s how I saw the film. From the former, we get a young man’s coming of age against a knavish political backdrop. Like Kamal Haasan’s character, Kaali (Karthi) is a graduate with a merry bunch of friends, and […]

“Jeeva”… Well played, but only up to a point

Spoilers ahead… With last year’s Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer, the director Suseenthiran took a major step forward, towards the smallish pantheon we have, but with Jeeva, it’s two steps back. The film narrates the story of the eponymous cricketer (Vishnu Vishal), and it begins well enough, with a flashback of kids in a playground. Can anyone […]

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