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The Mani Ratnam Interview – Part 2

My Mani Ratnam video interview for Film Companion. Part 1: Coming up: Part 3 Copyright ©2017 Film Companion.Filed under: Cinema: Hindi, Cinema: Tamil, Interview

Readers Write In #13: Adho Megha Oorvalam and how Rahman gave Ilayaraja feedback

I am a happy man these days.  My DTH provider is now offering me Jaya Max as a part of the package I have already subscribed to. Why Jaya Max?  Because it plays Ilayaraja tracks mornings 7 to 8 and nights 9 to 10.  Watching a TV channel to listen to music may seem an […]

Rant about 2017 National Awards

This is in response to this request by Rohit Sathish Nair: Rangan sir, can you keep a blank space in the blog open for at least some of us solely for ranting against this year’s National Awards? Rant away!Filed under: Cinema

“Kaatru Veliyidai”… Fascinating characters in an intense romance that works better as cinema than a movie

Spoilers ahead… A few minutes into Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Veliyidai (Breezy Expanse), an IAF pilot named VC (Karthi) drives his jeep across a hideously twisted mountain road in Srinagar. Beside him is a girl he’s probably interested in. She asks if he’ll marry her. He says – in that smile-inducing, Mani Ratnam-esque way – he […]

The Mani Ratnam Interview – Part 1

My Mani Ratnam video interview for Film Companion. Part 1: Coming up: Parts 2,3 Copyright ©2017 Film Companion.Filed under: Cinema: Hindi, Cinema: Tamil, Interview

“8 Thottakkal”… A police procedural with existential overtones that far outweigh its flaws

Spoilers ahead… Rarely have I heard a film’s leading man dismissed with such exquisite contempt: “Mudhugelumbu illadha oru nallavan!” (A spineless saint!) Part of the powerlessness we sense in the character – a sub-inspector named Sathya – is surely due to the ineffectiveness of the actor, a newcomer named Vettri. He’s terribly stiff. There’s no strength, […]

Coming soon…

Cinema: Hindi, Cinema: Tamil, Interview

“Kavan”… A ‘satire’ on the television industry is overlong and laughably overblown

Spoilers ahead… There’s a very witty moment in KV Anand’s Kavan (Catapult). I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll just say it toys with the interval moment in our cinema, the way we’ve come to anticipate it from events that keep building to a dramatic high. And that’s it. Nothing else is remotely interesting, unless […]

“Naalu Peruku Nalladhuna Edhuvum Thappilla”… A not-bad noir thriller about a small crook’s attempts to pull off the big one

Spoilers ahead… Naalu Peruku Nalladhuna Edhuvum Thappilla (Nothing is Wrong If a Few People Benefit From It) takes its title after the famous line in Nayakan — but there’s a bit of a twist. In the Mani Ratnam film, the philosophy was framed around have-nots. The justification was that it was okay to stick it […]

“Dora”… A surprisingly well-written (and emotionally solid) horror film whose heroine kicks real ass

Spoilers ahead… The trailer of Doss Ramasamy’s Dora brought to mind the Stephen King haunted-car story, Christine, which became a John Carpenter movie. But what we have here is the acknowledgement of an entirely different kind of superpower: the heroine’s. Nayanthara gets the kind of “glorifying” dialogue usually delivered by the hero’s sidekick to keep […]

“Katamarayudu”… Pawan Kalyan anchors a masala movie where he might know how to speak “bird language”

Spoilers ahead… In the first scene of Kishore Kumar Pardasani’s Katamarayudu, named after the character played by ‘Power Star’ Pawan Kalyan, we see four cars speeding through rugged Rayalaseema terrain. Suddenly, the shot is inverted. The sky is at the bottom of the screen, the speeding cars on top. You’re probably wondering “Why?” But hardened […]

The seller of fish

A deep dive into moments from the 2014 Kannada neo-noir drama ‘Ulidavaru Kandante’, which details the search for a man through the people who knew him. A journalist is in search of a story, a story about a man named Ritchie. One of the people she interviews, a cashew nut seller named Shailesha, tells her, […]

“Phillauri”… A schmaltzy, enjoyable ‘Love Aaj Kal’ retread whose only fault is overlength

Spoilers ahead… Anushka Sharma plays three roles in Phillauri. The first brought the film into existence – she’s the producer and star-clout wielder. The second is that of a vaporous ghost that haunts the weed-smoking Kanan (Suraj Sharma), due to reasons even she (it?) cannot fathom. (Existential “Why am I here?” questions aren’t something you’d […]

Readers Write In #12: A Chennai story

City | Chennai Location | Shivan Park, Ashok Nagar A bright little evening on a weekend, I was taking a walk with my friend/mentor, a man of action with words to match up for it. The usual gleeful evening crowd filled up the park ; Children playing see-saw and swing, parents with their kids, the badminton […]

The Amateur’s Art #13 – “Nastha Thunniya” (Tamil)

See here for what this series is about. This short is by Udayraj P J, “a word pun sketch” Filed under: Short Films, The Amateur's Art

“Take Off”… A beautifully made rescue drama where the personal struggles score over the logistical ones

Spoilers ahead… When we first meet Sameera (Parvathy), she’s missing a certificate. She’s at the Department of Health, applying for a job as a nurse in Iraq, but they won’t give her the necessary papers unless she produces that certificate. She screams, in frustration, at an official. She calls her son, asks him to search […]

“Engitta Modhathey”… A throwback to the 1980s Kamal-Rajini wars isn’t all that it could have been, but the nostalgia compensates

Spoilers ahead… Natarajan Subramaniam’s (aka Natty) career is among the more curious ones in Indian cinema. On the one hand, he is the cinematographer of A-list Bollywood projects (Black Friday, Parineeta, Love Aaj Kal, Raanjhanaa). On the other, he’s settled into the groove of a B-movie hero in Kollywood. His latest outing as leading man […]

“Kadugu”… A drama about a folk artist has interesting ideas that are lost in the execution

Spoilers ahead… There’s a nice bit of technical showboating in the first scene of Kadugu (Mustard), where the filmmaker Balaji Sakthivel plays… a filmmaker. His latest project is about alcohol addiction. The Sakthivel character is talking to his assistant, who leaves, and enters the wardrobe van, and exits the wardrobe van, and meets Pandi (Rajakumaran), […]

Readers Write In #11: The World Cup that wasn’t

India Won! The entire country won! The 11 men on whom hopes of 1.2 Billion people rested made the nation proud. A billion dreams, as someone wrongly said it, was made into reality. People were happy, which is good. However, I have just one problem with it. It seems to me that pride and nationalism […]


A deep dive into moments from the 2016 Telugu rom-com ‘Pelli Choopulu’, which is as much about finding a life partner as finding oneself. Among the happier trends in movie-watching down south is the release of films with subtitles. Speaking as someone from Chennai, this is how it used to be. The majority of releases […]

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