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“Singh Is Bliing”… Very funny in parts, until it gets painfully serious

Spoilers ahead… Singh is Bliing isn’t a movie so much as a collection of colourful bits (the real bliing is in the cinematography) in the style of what one may call a nautanki or a vaudeville performance – and for a while, that’s the film’s strength. Some bits are brilliant in the way a Mr. Bean episode is brilliant when you are in the mood. …

“Talvar”… Superbly written and performed

Spoilers ahead… Meghna Gulzar owns the directorial credit in Talvar, but this is really Vishal Bhardwaj’s baby. He’s the writer – the film is based on the Aarushi Talwar murder case that transfixed the nation even as it left some of us wondering whether a similar tragedy in areas of the country not named Mumbai or Delhi would have commanded so much airtime and attention. …

Rickshaw rides in an aviation age

Watching avant-garde theatre in South Korea. A little confounding. A little boring. And yet, exhilarating. The Asia Cultural Center Theater in Gwangju, South Korea, was inaugurated recently, with a three-week-long festival from September 4 to 21. Show More Summary

“Puli”… A colourful diversion for undemanding kids

Spoilers ahead… If Chimbu Deven’s brief was to create a colourful diversion for undemanding children, then Puli, starring Vijay, must be counted as some sort of success. Through his career, the director has pitched his tent a couple of feet away from the mainstream – here too, his quirky inventiveness is charming. Show More Summary

Bullets over Blandings

In which I’m left wondering about the similarities (and differences) between Wodehouse and Woody Allen. You know those ‘Art of Fiction’ interviews in the Paris Review, where they talk at length with a writer? I stumbled upon one with PG Wodehouse recently, conducted when The Master was ninety-one and a half, and still working seven days a week. Show More Summary

“Calendar Girls”… Bleurgh!

Spoilers ahead… Why is Madhur Bhandarkar still making movies? This is not a question about craft, for it is evident that the word means to him something that flies in the sky or sails in the sea. This is more about his interest in exposing the seamy underbelly of dance bars, jails, the fashion industry, Bollywood, and so forth. Heck, give this man a camera …

“Kirumi”… A superb, low-key character study masquerading as a thriller

Spoilers ahead… Sometimes, five minutes is all it takes to assure you that you’re in the hands of a genuine filmmaker. Anucharan, who makes his directorial debut with Kirumi, is one. In those five minutes he establishes everything – tone, texture (you can feel the milieu like fabric), and the fact that this is an anti hero film. Not an antihero film – heaven knows …

“Kuttram Kadithal”… Very well done… up to a point

Spoilers ahead… The crux of Kuttram Kadithal, which was recognised as Best Film in Tamil at the National Awards announced this year, is the blurring of the line between religion and humanity – rather, the blind belief in a higher power...Show More Summary

Wide-angle cinema

On ‘Swades’ versus ‘Srimanthudu.’ And the idea of the socially relevant ‘mass’ movie. A few weeks ago, Mahesh Babu’s Srimanthudu had a subtitled release in Chennai. I must say it was a brave move. Not because it was a Telugu film – these Telugu ‘mass’ films (or wide-appeal masala movies) are practically identical to the ones in Tamil – but because it referred to Mahesh …

“Katti Batti”… A generally terrible rom-com that morphs into a melodrama

Spoilers ahead… Sometimes I wonder if we react badly to films because of the way they are promoted, the way we are programmed to think they’re going to be. Take Nikhil Advani’s Katti Batti. The trailer promised us a teddy bear; the film is a porcupine. We thought this was another rom-com – perhaps with a few more frayed edges than usual. The girl, Payal, …

It’s complicated

Facebook has announced that they’re working on an alternative to the ‘like’ button. But is there a single button, a single word, that can contain the spectrum of negative human emotion? For a while, September 15 was like any other day. Show More Summary

“Trisha Illana Nayanthara”… An okayish sex comedy where the joke is on the hero

Spoilers ahead… Adhik Ravichandran, the director of Trisha Illana Nayanthara, loses little time in establishing that his film is indeed the adolescent-male fantasy that the trailers promised. In the very first scene, set in a train, at night, a girl occupying the top berth invites a boy to share her space. Show More Summary

“Savaale Samaali”… Yawn!

Spoilers ahead… In the absence of remarkable films, let’s see if there are at least some remarkable statistics. For instance, was last week the first time we saw the release of two films whose names harked back to older hits? Paayum Puli was one. Sathyasiva’s Savaale Samaali is the other – and it has nothing to do with the Sivaji Ganesan drama about his villager …

“Paayum Puli”… Awful, with few silver linings

Spoilers ahead… The director Suseenthiran’s career is something like that line from Forrest Gump about life being like a box of chocolates… You never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes you’ll get a delectable Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer. Show More Summary

Bitty Ruminations 80

I didn’t know Anne Tyler was still writing books. I had many hours to kill at an airport recently, and a bookshop had a buy-three-get-one-free thing going. I don’t have the time to read three books (plus that one-free book) – but when has that stopped me? So I looked up, I looked down. I found nothing. I got so desperate to find four books …

They remember so we don’t forget

A new documentary explores the Nellie massacre from a ‘micro’ perspective, through the accounts of two survivors. Abdul Khayer is an angry man, and to get to the root of his anger, we have to revisit the events of 18 February, 1983. This is how he remembers the day: “I saw our people leaving their homes and running… I tied one of my sons to …

“Hero”… Inoffensive… and that’s not a bad word

Spoilers ahead… Subhash Ghai had a thing for Sholay. Karma, of course, was his most explicit homage. Hero, on the other hand, is something of a what-if riff. What if a romantic musical were made using bits like the cop with the joint family, the scary villain, and the conman reformed by love? The surprise about Nikhil Advani’s remake of Hero is that he makes …

“Yatchan”… A well-crafted black comedy that isn’t all it could have been

Spoilers ahead… Imagine you are a filmmaker given these ingredients: murder; shattered dreams; a young woman’s (Swati Reddy) fear that her boyfriend may have run off with someone else; more murder; and a series of riffs on the notion of doppelgangers. Show More Summary

Tennis lessons

So we’ve reached a point where a player who’s won 14 Gland Slam titles (at least one on each surface), amassed over $70 million in prize money, and has a million other super-statistics that you only have to Google up his name to find, all before turning 30, is beginning to be written off as something of a has-been. But this isn’t about Rafael Nadal. …

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