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“Jolly LLB 2.”… Merely okay as courtroom drama, but a vivid look at Hindu-Muslim dynamics

Spoilers ahead… What happens when you move from Arshad Warsi to Akshay Kumar? You get the scene where the lawyer nicknamed Jolly (he’s not the same character though; Warsi’s Jolly was Jagdish Tyagi, Akshay’s version is Jagdishwar Mishra) is on a boat on the Ganges. He jumps into the water. This decision isn’t about Jolly […]

The captain of the ship

Sensing the director’s touch, at the recently concluded Bengaluru International Film Festival. At a film festival, the brochure is invaluable. It gives you a plot synopsis of the films being screened. It gives you a note about the filmmaker. This not only helps in deciding whether you want to give this particular film a shot, […]

“Lightman”… An inconsistent yet illuminating docu/fiction about cinema’s foot soldiers

Spoilers ahead… Venkatesh Kumar G’s Lightman shines a spotlight on… the men whose job is to shine a spotlight. The film narrates the story of Guna (Karthik Nagarajan), a folk-theatre artist who leaves his village in Madurai and comes to Chennai with dreams of making it big in Kollywood. But he’s not able to get […]

“Singam 3.”… Loud, fast, and without a single memorable moment

Spoilers ahead… THERE’S PACY NARRATION. AND THERE’S PACY NARRATION AS PRACTISED BY THE DIRECTOR HARI. Oh, sorry. Did I seem to be screaming? I’ve just exited a screening of Singam 3, and I’m still trying to make myself heard. This is the kind of movie where a SpiceJet flight makes a landing and the sound […]

Readers Write In #8: The Great Story Obsession

Whenever I ask for feedback about a film from my friends, and if it turns out to be a negative one, I used to quote Kamal from Vasool Raja, ‘Nee enna solla pora nu therium, kadhaye illa nu sollapora’. Our audience strongly consider ‘The Story’ to be the garbagriha of a movie and would consider their pilgrimage […]

The reinvention of a K-k-k-khan

Given Shah Rukh’s career crossroads, it’s going to be fascinating to watch where he goes from here. Is it just me, or has Shah Rukh Khan become the most interesting actor around? This isn’t about his performing skills. This isn’t about his box-office clout, healthy enough for a star, yet nowhere near that of the […]

Bitty Ruminations 84

There are many tributes to Nirmal Shekar out there. I just want to talk about what it meant for a kid interested in words, in language, in writing, in self-expression to read someone like him. There’s the general tendency, today, to look down on writerly writing. It’s considered masturbatory. Write simply, in a way everyone […]

“Bogan”… A fair-enough popcorn thriller, anchored by a terrific Arvind Swamy

Spoilers ahead… While discussing filmmakers who begin with a bang, we usually talk about a “sophomore slump”. But is there a term for the opposite, when a Krishna bounces back with Nedunchaalai after debuting with the soggy Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, or when Lakshman follows up the awful Romeo Juliet with Bogan? The beginning isn’t promising: […]

About free speech, ‘Padmavati’, and that scene in ‘Kaabil’

Dear liberals, if you think what happened with Bhansali was wrong, then you have to see ‘Kaabil’ for what it is, not what you want it to be. It’s somewhat pointless to write something on free speech in a country where the right comes with an “if and only if” clause, but I’m going to […]

Readers Write In #7: Heist movies vs Demonetisation

A person robs a huge sum of money at gunpoint and absconds to obscurity. Law and order is totally against this person, and every single cop starts an unending trail behind this mysterious robber. Eventually, He gets caught but his altruism prevails over the legal system and Constitution. He remains a mysterious enigma forever. Either […]

Readers Write In #6: An Unsuitable Boy

Ramit Bajaj requested to open a thread on Karan Johar’s autobiography An Unsuitable Boy. Happy commenting. Also, if you have an idea — not covered in a review or column — that you’d like to discuss, do let me know.Filed under: Books, Cinema: Hindi, Readers Write In

Notes from the south

Meandering thoughts on music based on a few recent happenings. When the Carnatic musician TM Krishna unveiled Chennai Poromboke Paadal a couple of weeks ago, it felt like the musical world’s answer to the fall of the Berlin Wall, facilitating a crossover between two hitherto separate realms. “Poramboke” refers to land set aside for communal […]

The Amateur’s Art #11 – “Ti… Majhyatli” (Marathi)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Aditya Sanjay Joshi. Story & Dialogue – Pranao Lepse Screenplay – Aditya Washimkar & Aditya Sanjay Joshi Editor – Aditya Sanjay Joshi Director of Photography – Soham Navghare Planning and Co-ordination – Prachin Bhoyar Starring – Pranao Lepse and Priya Thavare Filed under: […]

“Raees”… A disappointingly generic story of a criminal, with too few highlights

Spoilers ahead… Like any self-respecting rags-to-riches gangster movie, Raees shows the boy before it shows the man. With a difference. In Deewar, the boy sees his father being branded a thief. He sees his mother struggling to raise her sons. So when a get-rich-quick opportunity presents itself, he grabs it, becomes a gangster. Or take […]

“Adhe Kangal”… Not as good as it sounds on paper,  but not bad either

Spoilers ahead… Adhe Kangal is directed by Rohin Venkatesan, but it’s perhaps more useful to consider the name of the producer: CV Kumar. Some of his films work, some don’t – but they’re always interesting, at least on paper. At the beginning, Adhe Kangal looks like a love triangle. A blind chef (Varun, played by […]

“Kaabil”… A thoroughly underwhelming thriller

Spoilers ahead… So how bad can it really be? If that’s your frame of mind when you settle into a screening of Sanjay Gupta’s Hrithik Roshan-starring Kaabil, who can blame you? The director is coming off Jazbaa, the hero off Mohenjo Daro. The bar for their new outing together is barely an inch off the […]

“Jomonte Suvisheshangal”… A trite premise made very watchable by warm performances

Spoilers ahead… Sathyan Anthikad’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal is catching a lot of criticism for its similarities with the recent Jacobinte Swargarajyam, but that’s like accusing one love story of being like another. This type of melodrama is a genre of its own: a twist here, a tweak there, and you can name 5000 similar films. We […]

“Haraamkhor”… Beautiful performances in a story that doesn’t judge a warped relationship

Spoilers ahead… It’s probably facile to drag Lolita into the discussion of a film about a consensual-yet-exploitative relationship between an older man and a schoolgirl, but Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor makes a strong case for the comparison. There is, first, the disclaimer at the beginning, informing us that the film (I’m paraphrasing) “highlights dangers faced by minor […]

“Arunagiri Perumale”… The search for a saint, with beautiful music

Spoilers ahead… I’ve just walked out of a screening of Arunagiri Perumale at the Goethe Institut Auditorium, organised by Prakriti Foundation. The title of this intensely personal documentary makes you think it’s about the poet-saint. But it isn’t. About suggests a kind of biopic. He was born here. He did this. Then he did that. […]

Kalki: First look

The first look is out for Kalki, a short film I wrote for director Dhilip Kumar, based on a premise he had in mind. It stars Kishore and Yasmin Ponnappa, and though I wasn’t present for all stages of post-production, it was a special thrill to work with Sreekar Prasad in his editing room, pacing […]

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