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“Chalk n Duster”… Stuff N Nonsense

Spoilers ahead… In the innocuously titled Chalk N Duster, director Jayant Gilatar sets out to add a new villain to the pantheon. Gabbar Singh. Mogambo. Dr. Dang. And now, Kamini (Divya Dutta). Don’t be fooled by the fact that she’s the headmistress of a high school. In her quest to make the school “No. 1,” […]

“Rajini Murugan”… A lazy comedy saved somewhat by its star

Spoilers ahead… When you ask young actors why they keep making the same kind of movie, they’ll say they want to establish themselves first, with these “safe films” – but here’s the rub. Once you’ve established yourself, once you’ve become the brand ambassador for a certain kind of movie, once you know this is what people […]

“Gethu”… A stylish but empty thriller

Spoilers ahead… Now that Santhanam’s star is on the wane, Udhayanidhi Stalin must have been in a fix about his forthcoming film. “Why not try action?” someone must have said. Hence, Gethu, which begins with a sniper (Vikranth) in Leh. I didn’t get his name. Wikipedia says it’s David Christopher. It doesn’t matter. He could […]

Mad visuals and melodrama

Brief notes from the 13th Chennai International Film Festival. Where are the great images? I kept asking this question during this year’s edition of the Chennai International Film Festival, usually a December fixture in the city’s cultural calendar but postponed a month due to the floods. When I say “great images,” I’m not talking about […]

“Thaarai Thappattai”… Warmed-over Bala, but still worthwhile

Spoilers ahead… Why doesn’t Bala make comedies? His obsession with bloodbaths may suggest he has one of the most twisted minds in the industry – it’s a wonder he’s not yet been snapped up as a consultant by the people who run Hell, to design increasingly vivid tortures. But his mind is also one of […]

“Kathakali”… A fairly watchable thriller

Spoilers ahead… If Murder on the Orient Express were set on land and made into a masala movie, it might resemble Pandiraj’s Kathakali. The film is a whodunit centred on this question: Who killed the gangster Thamba (Madhusudhan Rao)? We know it’s not Amudhan, because this part is played by Vishal, the hero – or […]

“Azhagu Kutti Chellam”… Seriously amateurish, but a notch better than ‘Pasanga 2’

Spoilers ahead… Normally, I wouldn’t have written about Azhagu Kutti Chellam. It would have been one of those films I saw just because the job demands it – maybe you’ll have to refer back to it someday while writing about another movie, or maybe there’s an actor in a small role who shows promise. But […]

“Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam”… An unbelievable story about an unsuited couple

Spoilers ahead… Gitanjali Selvaraghavan’s Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam begins with a note that it’s difficult to describe some love stories… “But we’ve tried.” (I liked the word used: muyarchithirukkirom. I also like the title, reminiscent of the slow-burn LR Easwari song from Dharisanam.) But is it really so hard to describe this love story? Just call […]

“Chauranga”… A gently hypnotic drama about fiery issues

Spoilers ahead… Why watch Chauranga when a lot of what it’s about – pig-herding, love across caste lines, the constant tensions between Dalits and the people who won’t treat them as equals, the young boy who decides enough is enough – was already seen in Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi drama Fandry? One reason could be the mood […]

On the watch

Looking back at my vacation viewing, which included heavily intellectual entertainment like… um, ‘Downton Abbey’. What does a film critic watch while on vacation? I was surprised people even thought this was a question worth asking, but then someone explained why. With “normal” folks (a category I clearly do not belong to), holidays are a […]

“Wazir”… A decent relationship drama, a silly thriller

Spoilers ahead… Bejoy Nambiar likes slo-mo songs. His most sensational use of the technique came in the Khoya khoya chand sequence in Shaitaan. Guns were blazing. People were fleeing. The sequence had all the makings of a white-knuckle thriller, but the slo-mo made it something else. The most important aspect of a chase, time, was […]

Yesterday never dies

Thoughts on the ‘Star Wars’ prequels, occasioned by the intergalactic success of the latest film in the franchise. The hate for the latter-day Star Wars movies understood I never have. That the force was beginning to weaken in George Lucas was evident right from The Return of the Jedi, whose Ewoks, those toy-store-ready furballs, hinted […]

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 1,900,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 82 days for that many people to see […]

My top twenty: 2015

Recalling the Tamil films of 2015 that, even if not great in the overall sense, stood out for some reason(s). Here, in alphabetical order. 144: At first, I found the narrative a rhythmless mess, too “quirky” for its own good. But slowly, I tuned into the film’s vibe, and just thinking about the bits now […]

“Bhooloham”…

Am on a break now, but that doesn’t mean you are. So please keep adding your comments and keep the discussion going until I manage to write the review :-) Filed under: Cinema: Tamil

“Pasanga 2.”…

Am on a break now, but that doesn’t mean you are. So please keep adding your comments and keep the discussion going until I manage to write the review :-) Filed under: Cinema: Tamil

“Thanga Magan”…

Am on a break now, but that doesn’t mean you are. So please keep adding your comments and keep the discussion going until I manage to write the review :-)Filed under: Cinema: Tamil

“Bajirao Mastani”…

Am on a break now, but that doesn’t mean you are. So please keep adding your comments and keep the discussion going until I manage to write the review :-)Filed under: Cinema: Hindi

“Dilwale”…

Am on a break now, but that doesn’t mean you are. So please keep adding your comments and keep the discussion going until I manage to write the review :-)Filed under: Cinema: Hindi

After the waters recede…

What some of us are feeling now, it’s vague, hard to put into words. And at least part of it is a little existential. Why were we spared? You don’t think this when you hear of shootings in America or earthquakes in Nepal. You register the horror, and do what you can – sign a […]

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