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If rushes were horses

The ‘Udta Punjab’ verdict fills me with enough hope to draw up a laundry list of wishes for our cinema. The next time a demand for a ban comes up, I wish we’d remember the Udta Punjab verdict. I wish we’d stop being blackmailed by cultural policemen about the content in cinema. Most of us […]

“Enakku Innoru Per Irukku”… A scattershot plot, but many gags work

Spoilers ahead… After a series of action-dramas featuring rowdies, we seem to be in for comedies featuring rowdies, which tweak our cinema’s obsession with anti-heroes. We recently saw Naanum Rowdy Dhaan. Now we have director Sam Anton’s Enakku Innoru Per Irukku. The film revolves around the power games in Royapuram, where the godfather is called […]

“Muthina Kathirikka”… A few scattered laughs

Spoilers ahead… I must confess I’ve been dreading this film’s release. Not because it’s a remake of the Malayalam hit Vellimoonga. (Most of our remakes miss out on whatever made the original film worth watching.) Not because of “comedy scenes” like the one in which a man gifts his girl an iPad, only to see […]

Aboorva raagangal…

Thoughts on the music of ‘Kabali’, which is easily the least “Rajini-style” album since ‘Sri Raghavendra’. Listening to Santhosh Narayanan’s soundtrack for Kabali is an exercise in imagining what must have run through Rajinikanth’s head as he heard these songs. I’m sure he must have smiled at Neruppu da, even if the track is driven […]

“Do Lafzon Ki Kahani”… A missed opportunity for a four-hankie weepie

Spoilers ahead… Do Lafzon Ki Kahani is adapted from the 2011 South Korean film Always, which hinged on a plot point from the Kamal Haasan-starring Manmadan Ambu, made a year earlier. Strange are the workings of the remake world. This is one of those films about two lonely souls with troubled pasts who come together. […]

What do you do for an encore?

Thoughts on ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ and sequel fatigue. J upiter Ascending, the sci-fi mega-flop from 2015, left me with quasi-philosophical thoughts. Had it actually been a good movie, these thoughts would have come from inside it, from what it’s about, from how it’s been made – but these were outside thoughts. I […]

“Te3n”… A thoroughly underwhelming thriller

Spoilers ahead… Eight years. That’s how long John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) has been chasing a ghost. His granddaughter was kidnapped and she turned up dead – he wants justice. He wants to find the kidnapper who vanished into thin air. He keeps haunting the local police station, where the top cop (Sarita, played by Vidya […]

“Oru Naal Koothu”… For the most part, an effectively low-key drama

Spoilers ahead… An early scene in Nelson Venkatesan’s Oru Naal Koothu depicts the first step in an arranged-marriage scenario – the girl is presented to a young man and his family. The song on the soundtrack threw me for a second. It’s a retuned version of Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s Eppo varuvaaro, and it seemed like preposterous […]

“Housefull 3.”… A flat, unfunny “comedy” that needed far better actors

Spoilers ahead… The surprise in Housefull 3 isn’t that it’s spectacularly unfunny. It’s that it needn’t have been so. Sajid-Farhad, who wrote and directed this film (that a “director,” leave alone two, was needed for this mess is surely some kind of in-joke), are good at thinking up running gags. There’s one about three women […]

In search of Kryptonite

Looking back at those two games in the fourth and final set of the French Open, when it seemed Superman might be invincible after all. There was a point during the French Open when I discovered how badly I wanted Andy Murray to win. I wasn’t rooting for him when he won the first set. […]

“Iraivi”… An interesting feminist film that subverts  “you go, girl” clichés

Spoilers ahead… Dear Karthik Subbaraj, Congratulations on yet another interesting movie, and for resisting the impulse to name this one, too, after a food item. Iraivi is an unusual feminist film, in the sense that it’s seen entirely through the prism of sympathetic male characters. Your men aren’t monsters who drink or cheat on their […]

“Velainnu Vanthutta Vellakaran”… Some big laughs in a comedy that needed a better script

Spoilers ahead… Every comedian has his time. This is Soori’s time. He was the best thing about last week’s Idhu Namma Aalu. He’s one of the best things about Ezhil’s Velainnu Vandhutta Vellakaran, a film best described by a quote the director gave The Hindu: “I have high BP. So I prefer to make and […]

A legend walked into a bar…

Tanmay Bhat has every right to mock Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar. But a little sensitivity wouldn’t hurt. Is comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video-spoof depicting a trash-talking Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar cause for offence? Before addressing this question, we may have to ask another one: Is it funny? The video shows Bhat playing Tendulkar and […]

“Waiting”… A lightweight drama about love and loss

Spoilers ahead… In the best scene in Anu Menon’s Waiting, Tara (Kalki Koechlin) is sending off her friend Ishita (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee). Tara’s husband Rajat (Arjun Mathur) has been in an accident, and he’s now in a coma in a hospital in Kochi. (He was there on work; the couple lives in Mumbai.) Ishita flew down […]

“Phobia”… An effective horror film, with a superlative lead performance

Spoilers ahead… Pawan Kripalani’s Phobia looks like the scary love child of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and Todd Haynes’ Safe. From the former, we get the young woman (Radhika Apte’s Mehek) alone in an apartment, the older sister, the young woman’s gradually disintegrating mind, her not-easily-explained attitude towards men and sex, and imagery involving hands. From […]

“U Turn”… ?No ‘Lucia,’ but still a smart, engaging mystery

Spoilers ahead… Pawan Kumar is the rare writer-director who does justice to the job descriptions on either side of the hyphen. U Turn, his follow-up to the buzzy and justly acclaimed Lucia, begins with a lovely scene, in an auto, between Rachana (Shraddha Srinath) and her mother. The scene is essentially to establish that the […]

Village people

Thoughts on ‘Thithi’, a small film with big buzz and bigger ambitions. The burden of expectation can sometimes be too much for a small film. Raam Reddy’s Kannada directorial debut Thithi won last year’s National Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada, which seems just about right. When we think “National Award-winning film,” we think […]

“Uriyadi”… ?A gritty (and refreshingly grown-up) little film

Spoilers ahead… Uriyadi, set in the 1990s, begins with four youngsters in an engineering college in Trichy. At first, they appear to be fairly typical boys. They’re from smaller towns and they’re enjoying being free, smoking and drinking and celebrating birthdays by smushing cake on the face. Slowly, we see there’s a bit of a […]

“Idhu Namma Aalu”… ?A fairly fun love story that toys with reel and real

Spoilers ahead… As sarakku scenes go, it’s the usual scenario. Two men get drunk. One of them talks about the girl who ditched him, the one that ran away. The other one talks about the girl he loved, the one that got away. (In Tamil cinema, the woman is always the heartbreaker, the man always […]

“Sarbjit”… Another week, another underwhelming biopic

Spoilers ahead… Omung Kumar was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s production designer before he turned director, so certain things are a given. He likes strong women characters. His first film was Mary Kom. His latest is Sarbjit, about the Punjabi man who wandered off into Pakistan and was arrested as a spy – but the film should […]

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