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“Baaghi”… A very basic ‘mass’ movie, but the action is tops

Spoilers ahead… As a Tamilian, I’m going to be nursing nightmares for years about Baaghi, for the film features an act of murder using… poisoned curd rice. To those of you who don’t get it, let me attempt an explanation: this is the gastronomic equivalent of the scene in Khakee where Akshay Kumar is betrayed […]

Still talking to us

Forty years on, ‘Taxi Driver’ remains a stunning example of what a great director can do with an already great script. For a film that’s become all kinds of iconic, Taxi Driver has entered its forties with very little noise. It wasn’t until The Hollywood Reporter rounded up cast and crew for an “oral history” […]

“Manithan”… A hmmm-not-all-that-bad remake

Spoilers ahead… Ahmed’s Manithan is a remake of the Hindi hit Jolly LLB, and the surprise is that it Tamil-ises the original without hero-ising it. Udhayanidhi Stalin, who plays small-time lawyer Sakthi, isn’t out to get us with his gethu. Sakthi is a failure in every sense – and he knows it. He laughs along […]

Guest Post: What Queen and Tamasha tell us about gender stereotypes

Beginning a new feature on this blog, features written by others. This is a post by Chinmayee Kantak and Sampada Karandikar. “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” –  Rumi Vikas Bahl’s Queen, which released in March 2014, deals with the story of a young woman whose […]

“Sairat”… An epic reimagining of the typical love story touches (and crushes) the heart

The following is based on the cut of the film screened at the Berlinale this year. And yes, spoilers ahead… In Nagraj Popatrao Manjule’s first film, Fandry, a dark-skinned, poverty-stricken Dalit boy tried to get the attention of a fair-skinned upper-caste (and upper-class) girl. What if he got her attention? What if she started liking […]

A star in a strange role

Salman Khan is in the middle of another Olympic-sized controversy. But why is he in it in the first place? Is Salman Khan qualified to be Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent at the 2016 Rio Olympics? His father Salim Khan certainly seems to think so. In a tweet battle with Milkha Singh, who objected […]

“Nil Battey Sannata”… A well-made, at times moving, but facile drama

Spoilers ahead… Cute. That’s the word that kept flashing through my mind while watching Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s Nil Battey Sannata. The film is about a domestic help named Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) – she does a number of other odd jobs as well – who despairs that her daughter Apeksha (Ria Shukla) isn’t interested in studies, […]

Stalking point

While celebrating ‘Fan’, let’s not forget Kamal Haasan’s ‘Uttama Villain’. Or the fact that these films can be made only in India. Watching Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan, I kept recalling Kamal Haasan’s Uttama Villain. Both films are not just about the characters these actors play (within the movie) but also about who these actors are […]

“Vetrivel”… A well-written formula outing

Spoilers ahead… In Vetrivel, M Sasikumar is out to convince us, yet again, that he can do all the things a Tamil-film hero usually does. He’s a son-of-the-soil from Thanjavur, and he’s introduced in a song that dispenses Rajini-like aphorisms. (Yaarudhu vaanam… Pogudhu megam… Adha patta poda mudiyadhuda.) He gets duets, and he gets to […]

The lay of their land

The Kani tribals in the hills of Mundanthurai know what they want (and what they’re likely to get) from the forthcoming elections. The forests of the Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, situated in the hills of the Western Ghats that slice through Tirunelveli, are a typically rough-hewn terrain, but P Veluchamy prefers to walk barefoot. If he […]

Old is cold?

‘The Jungle Book’, like ‘The Revenant’, is a showcase for new technology that’s making it increasingly difficult to watch older films. Let’s begin with a quiz. You just have to name the film. It features an attack by a grizzly bear. The victim is a Caucasian man making a living in an unforgiving, inhospitable, bitterly […]

“Fan”… A well-made but unsatisfying mix of meta-movie and thriller

Spoilers ahead… Forget, for a moment, the fan on screen. Maneesh Sharma’s fourth film is, first and foremost, a tribute to fans of Shah Rukh Khan, the actor, the star, the middle-class-boy-to-millionaire myth. When I first heard about the film, I thought of Misery, The King of Comedy, The Fan, those other thrillers about the […]

Bitty Ruminations 82

So some of you may have seen the video review of Theri. We, at  The Hindu, aren’t abandoning the traditional review. (And I hope they never will.) But this is the future, and I can see why this is important to our digital presence. It was funny doing this. Came back after the film. Wrote […]

Bitty Ruminations 81

After all these years, it’s amazing how much of a knot in the stomach there still is when you sit down to write something. You know vaguely what you’re going to write about, but you also know that there are going to be false starts, stumbles. Maybe the third paragraph is when you really get […]

“Theri”… This man is from Mass

Spoilers ahead… So we wait for the hero-introduction scene. Maybe he’ll smash through a wall and land a punch on a villain who is extorting money from slum-folk. Maybe he’ll ride in on a bike, in slo-mo, the scene lasting long enough for fans to expend all the wind in their lungs through wolf-whistles. But […]

Ode to a nightingale

Reflections on the peerless P Susheela, who’s found her way into the record books. When I learnt that P Susheela had found her way into the Guinness Book of World Records and the Asia Book of Records for singing the most number of songs in Indian languages, there were two reactions. The first, a smile – […]

Use the Force

Making the case that a film that’s considered “light entertainment” can also strive to be good cinema. Or that a film is more than just plot/dialogue/performances. When I watched the recent Tamil film Thozha, a remake of the French hit The Intouchables, I experienced a curiously schizophrenic reaction. I was quite entertained, but I was exasperated […]

Out in newsstands now…

The new issue of The Indian Quarterly is out, and I have a story in it. (As in, fiction.) Do check it out. PS: A big shout-out to everyone who read early drafts and made suggestions. PPS: It’s not online yet. Filed under: Fiction, Personal

“Ki & Ka”… A frothy rom-com whose entertainment value makes up for what it lacks in depth

Spoilers ahead… I’ll begin with the end. It’s an echo of the Boy-Girl meet-cute, in a plane, and it made me smile for a couple of reasons. One, I am a sucker for rom-com tropes. And two, R Balki, after three tries, finally gets his ending right. Cheeni Kum, Paa and Shamitabh turned hideously overwrought […]

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