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“Dil Dhadakne Do”… It’s like watching paint dry… only, inside a palace

Spoilers ahead… Luck By Chance, Zoya Akhtar’s first and best film, is also one of the most dispiriting movies ever made. You know those books you find in the self-help section? This was the exact opposite. Consider its… lessons, if you will. Everything’s a fluke. All the hard work in the world may not get […]

“Kaaka Muttai”… An outstanding debut

Spoilers ahead… The National Award for Kaaka Muttai doesn’t make any sense. Best Children’s Film. What does that even mean? Best film that has good parts for children or good performances by children? Or best film for children? Either way, the award is an insult. Kaaka Muttai isn’t just for children — actually, some of […]

“Masss”… Redeemed by a not-bad second half

Spoilers ahead… Massu Engira Masilamani comes with the tagline ‘A Venkat Prabhu Sixer.’ If this is a reference to Massu being the director’s sixth film, then fine. But if it’s a clearing-the-boundary cry, then sorry, there are a hundred fielders out there, palms cupped, looking at the sky. The only sixer in Venkat Prabhu’s career […]

Other careers

I could have been a painter. I wouldn’t have been a very good one, but I’d have managed. I’d have drawn three lines in blue, splashed on a few red dots and said it has meanings you have to cock your head and interpret. I couldn’t have been a chef, though. Don’t have the patience. […]

“Tanu Weds Manu Returns”… A romance that struggles to measure up to its heroine’s performance

Spoilers ahead… What an odd title: Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Considering the audience just needs to be told that this is a sequel, was Tanu and Manu Again unavailable? Tanu Weds Manu Returns sounds like Tanu weds and Manu returns. The blue-penciller in me kept wanting to insert a comma midway. Though, really, it’s Tanu […]

You’ll run out of adjectives raving about this one

Spoilers ahead… You may have seen a lot of David Lean comparisons in the reviews for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s not difficult to join the dots. The scope is epic. It all happens in a desert. Tremendous emphasis on visuals, with extraordinary use of screen space as well as 3D technology. Had […]

“Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai”… An entertaining prison-escape drama that also manages to make you think

Spoilers ahead… A lot of filmmakers make “message” movies. SP Jhananathan makes propaganda movies. His films aren’t about walking home with a warm glow and a trite little homily ringing in the head. He weaves complex tapestries from skeins of impassioned ideology. His first film, Iyarkai, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s White Nights, was something I […]

“Bombay Velvet”… An Anurag Kashyap film with bafflingly few traces of Anurag Kashyap

Spoilers ahead… When I heard Anurag Kashyap was making a movie about Bombay, I wondered – despite the heavily Hollywoodised imagery – if he would tip a hat to the “Bombay movie.” Bombay Velvet opens, instead, as a Bombay documentary, with grainy, sepia-toned footage that gives us glimpses of the city, round about 1949. There’s prohibition. […]

“36 Vayadhinile”… Worth a cheer, despite a broad TV-soap approach

Spoilers ahead… In Rosshan Andrrews’s 36 Vayadhinile, Jyotika plays an alien. What else could the character, named Vasanthi, be? She’s 36. Her eyesight is no longer what it was. Her hair is turning silver. She has a teen-aged daughter. She works in a government job and lives in a joint family. And to unwind, she […]

“Gabbar is Back”… One of those masala movies that’s too “cool” to be one

Spoilers ahead… Gabbar Is Back, directed by Krish (and based on an original story by AR Murugadoss), keeps making us think it is the real deal, a real masala movie. We see dabbawalas. We witness a lavani performance. We step into a barbershop. In other words, we see not Mumbai but Bombay, which is always […]

“Piku”… An irresistible amble with a dysfunctional family

Spoilers ahead… We haven’t seen a heroine like Piku (Deepika Padukone). That’s an odd word to use in this case, heroine – it suggests not just the female lead of a film, but the Rani of Jhansi, or at least the Rani Mukerji of Mardaani. Piku, on the other hand, is simply an Everywoman, bringing […]

Crowd funding inititative for Orson Welles’ last film

Got this via email. Now go do your good deed for the day. Hi Mr. Rangan, Without mincing words, I am writing this mail to you to seek the help of your name. A crowd funding Inititative has been started to finance the completion of Orson Welles’ last film “The Other Side Of the Wind”, his […]

“India Pakistan”… A not-so-bad comedy

Spoilers ahead… Midway through India Pakistan, Karthick (Vijay Antony) and Mellina (Sushma Raj) – Chennai-based lawyers both – find themselves in a village. Karthick is hanging out with some guys who think Mellina is easy: andha maadhiri ponnu. It’s the kind of cheap talk you hear all too often about urban women who have a […]

In Salman, they trust

A fascinating documentary shows us what Salman Khan means to an India that’s not quite shining. One of the more perplexing moments on Season Four of Koffee with Karan was when Salman Khan made an appearance – his first on the show – and declared, “I am a virgin.” He added that he was going […]

“Vai Raja Vai”… An inoffensive caper

Spoilers ahead… Aishwarya R. Dhanush likes men who see things. The protagonist of her first film, 3, saw holographic demons. Or something. The protagonist of her follow-up, Vai Raja Vai, sees the future. At least, he knows what’s coming. That’s his boon and the film’s curse. Early on, we get a hint that the clairvoyance […]

“Uttama Villain”… A superb core let down by lackluster filmmaking

Spoilers ahead… Kamal Haasan’s films suffer sometimes because they end up looking like vanity projects, but Uttama Villain, directed by Ramesh Aravind, couldn’t be anything else – for this is the story of a vain star named Manoranjan (Kamal Haasan). This is cinema about cinema, and because Tamil cinema is really about the hero, the […]

Terms of indoor-ment

Every time I return from a trip abroad, the one thing I’m glad to return to is the health faucet, even if I’ve never really figured out why it is called that. We are unafraid to announce other parts of the anatomy. Without a care, we say “eye shadow,” “ear buds,” “nose ring,” “tongue piercing,” […]

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