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“Dishoom”… Disappointing action film, or a prototype of the Modi-era masala movie?

Spoilers ahead… John Abraham’s thesping skills have always been suspect, but after seeing Dishoom, where he plays a special agent named Kabir, I’m wondering if he’s losing the ability to do more basic things. Like smile. Or bring his hands close to his body. His torso resembles a tree trunk, and his hands angle downwards […]

Guest Post: Petition against stalking

Regulars here must be aware of the petition that Iswarya and others started in Change.org  #CallingOutStalking in Tamil films. You can find here all the updates and follow-up action on the campaign. Those who wish to contribute to this effort can mail antistalkingpetition[at]gmail.com. Also see comments in this post, for more context.Filed under: Cinema: Tamil, Society

“Madaari”… An unremarkable vigilante drama, with some Irrfan moments

Spoilers ahead… Madaari is about the catastrophic aftermath of a bridge collapse, but director Nishikant Kamath wants us to know that the film is about so much more. He gives us split-second visuals of the Uttarakhand floods, about farmer suicides, about train collisions, about petrol/diesel price hikes. Within five minutes, he wants to stir up […]

In her shoes

A breathless, fascinating account of a woman who keeps hurling herself into gruelling tests of endurance. As someone who goes to bed praying the morning papers will publish findings that pizza is good for weight loss, two questions popped up when I read Anywhere but Home: Adventures in Endurance, written by Anu Vaidyanathan, “the first […]

Deconstructing Woody

Thoughts on Woody Allen as he completes half a century as filmmaker. And why ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’ is his defining film. It’s hard to believe, today, that What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, Woody Allen’s first film as director, began with a series of James Bondian action scenes (flamethrowers! murderous discs with serrated edges!). Harder to believe […]

“Kabali”… An unsatisfying clash between the impulses of star and director

Spoilers ahead… Recently, I saw a Malaysian film titled Jagat, directed by Shanjhey Kumar Perumal. The films from the country are usually in Bahasa Malaysia, but this one is in Tamil. It’s about the plight of Malaysian Tamils who used to work on estates, but were forced to migrate to the cities when these estates […]

“Great Grand Masti”… The real boobs may be the audiences

Spoilers ahead… You know those pretty, shapely girls from Belarus or Lithuania who come to Mumbai on a holiday and end up as backup dancers in a Baw-ly-would movie? In the song that plays over the opening credits of Great Grand Masti, one of them opens her eyes wide and goes WOW! as Ritesh Deshmukh, […]

The games city people play

The recent Malayalam drama ‘Ozhivudivasathe Kali’ is the latest in a line of films that involve game-playing in the wilderness. I caught Ozhivudivasathe Kali (An Off-day Game), Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s acclaimed Malayalam drama, when it was released in Chennai last week. The story is set during an election day, a dry day, and it’s about […]

“Sultan”… A well-made, enjoyable sports drama

Spoilers ahead… Watching a Salman Khan film today reminds me of watching Woody Allen’s films in the 1990s, when the sixty-something actor/director kept pairing himself with decades-younger actresses like Elisabeth Shue and Julia Roberts. I remember thinking: Dude, I’m trying to look at this as just a movie, without bringing your off-screen story in. But […]

Moving images, moving words

A tribute to Abbas Kiarostami in his own words, and words from his cinema. Abbas Kiarostami, the hugely acclaimed and influential Iranian writer-director who passed away this week, was, at heart, a poet. In his contribution to a Guardian series in which photographers talked about their favourite works, he said, “It’s said that in the […]

“Dhillukku Dhuddu”… Neither very scary, nor very funny

Spoilers ahead… Dhillukku Dhuddu is less a movie than a manifestation of Santhanam’s career crisis. What does a comedian do when past his expiry date as the hero’s sidekick? Why, he turns hero, of course. So we get an introduction song, love duets with vapid and fair-skinned North Indian import (Shanaya) who can’t be bothered […]

“Adra Machan Visilu”… Excruciating!

Spoilers ahead… According to Thiraivannan’s Adra Machan Visilu, Tamil Nadu’s No. 1 hero is a 22-year-old played by ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan. Something about this cheesy premise sounds promising. With this actor, you’re never sure if he’s in on the joke that is his screen presence, or if he’s oblivious to it. He wears shiny red […]

Cinema, society, chicken, egg

We need to rigorously study the impact of cinema on society before blaming films for every shocking headline. At least for a while, the case that shocked Chennai played out like a Tamil movie. A dark-skinned boy (Ramkumar) from a small town set eyes on a fair-skinned, upper-class girl (Swathi). He fell in love. He […]

“Shorgul”… A good subject trivialised by bad filmmaking

Spoilers ahead… And the award for Most Gratuitous Item Number goes to… Shorgul. So this is what happens. It’s night. A door opens. A man slips out, clutching a bag. He travels to another part of town. He stops in front of a house. Another door opens. This time, a woman. She takes the bag. […]

Broad Reflections #4: Is it really that short a route from Kodambakkam to Nungambakkam?

Following the grisly Swathi/Ramkumar case, just wanted to open a discussion about Tamil cinema’s depiction of stalking and the actions of this particular deranged individual. One part of me says that there are millions who watch these films and a mere handful who are inspired to do these things, so the problem lies not with the […]

Wakao!

A bit of a rant about how we keep dusting off the same set of “greatest hits” every time we want to remember a composer. It was RD Burman’s 77th birthday last Monday. Google honoured the composer with a doodle. Behind an illustration of RD that made him look like a round-faced schoolboy, there were […]

“Paisa”… Not bad, as moral-science movies go

Spoilers ahead… Among the more heartening trends in Tamil cinema is its gradual detachment from the middle classes, and attachment to the lower income groups. Earlier, films like Pasi were one-offs. Today, they’re practically a movement. The protagonist of Paisa (Murugan, played by Sreeram) is a rag picker. He falls in love with Veni (Aara), […]

“Jackson Durai”… A well-crafted misfire

Spoilers ahead… What the thaali was to Tamil cinema of the 1980s, the haunted house is today – it spells kaching! The spirited location in Jackson Durai is inhabited by ghosts from the British-Indian era, and an SP named Sathya (Sibiraj) is dispatched to investigate the spooky happenings. The lyrically sophisticated song that accompanies him […]

“Appa”… Messages galore, but where the movie?

Spoilers ahead… Samuthirakani’s new film, Appa, contains a scene in which a father (named Dayalan, and played by Samuthirakani) facilitates for his son a cup-of-coffee kind of meeting with a girl from school. It’s not exactly a date, though. The boy, a teenager, is confused by his feelings towards this girl, perhaps towards all girls. […]

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