Thursday, December 22, 2005


A 2-minutes long tracking shot takes us through a lower-end brothel in Hyderabad and ends showing Guna on the terrace (shot from below with a 'Godly' respect), standing on one leg. It is a Pournami (full-moon day) and Guna is awaiting the arrival of Abhirami. He sees a bride going through the Jaanavasa ceremony and mistakes her for Abhirami.

So starts Gunaa, one of the best films to have come out of Tamil Cinema in the last decade. This was the first of the twin efforts (the other being the great Mahanadhi) of Kamal Haasan with his friend Santhana Bharathi wielding the megaphone. Kamal packs in a superb team (Venu for Cinematography, Balakumaran for dialogues, and of course Raaja). Yes, it is not a flawless film. But, it is a film of the kind that stays on in your mind.
The film looks at this man Guna, with unconditional sympathy; how he is doomed in this big bad world; and in that sense, it is a cynical film. Guna is a madman (an obsessional psychoneurotic) who is told, by a fellow asylum-inmate (Ananthu), that Abhirami (the Goddess) will marry him on a full moon day and will take him out of all his miseries. There is this sense of Godliness attributed to him in the movie - He can unlock anything like cars, safes etc. and helps his uncle in his thefts. He wants to be cleansed (in the famous scene Guna explaining to the doctor about how Abhirami would 'cleanse' him). He unconditionally believes that he is God, and that only Abhirami can cleanse him. He believes in uniting with Abhirami, the Goddess (an imaginatory sequence shows the formation of the Lingam). So he kidnaps her; takes her along with him to a deserted church on top of a hill and explains his love for her, and their destiny.
The screenplay of the film {written by Sabjaan, a Kamal Haasan associate who wrote Chanakyan and (according to my assumption) played the role of Narasimhan is Kuruthippunal} is of the highest standards w.r.t. Tamil Cinema. It's expertly woven, richly textured, subtle and doesn't scream for our attention. Not to forget the insightful and yet realistic dialogues by Balakumaran. Ilaiyaraaja gives a great background score (most of BGM pieces during chase sequences are liberally borrowed from Kamal Haasan's 2 earlier flicks Aboorva Sagodharagal and MMKR). Kamal Haasan comes up with a truly wonderful performance (before anyone pounces on me, I haven't seen Rain Man yet, which would not change this statement anyway), with all the rest of the cast chipping in accordingly.
What is striking is that the film doesn't melodramatize the state of Guna. It doesn't put him in fake glory. It looks at him with a detached sympathy. Guna is after all, a madman and it never bats an eyelid to put forth the fact to us. He says he is in love with Abhirami and that she can never go leaving him behind. But, he still ties her giving a new reason each time.
Apart from this, the movie also works as a traditional thriller with an (albeit heavily stereo-typed) villain, CBI in chase, and lots of money at stake. As in every other KH film, the subtle humour is unmissable.
Looking at the mythological connections of the story, the keypoint in the film is how the usual assumed gender roles are reversed here. The mythology has this story of Parvathi, the Goddess, who takes human form because of a curse and eventually re-unites with Lord Shiva. We also have other examples like Meera and Aandaal. In Gunaa, the roles are reversed. It's Guna who has taken an earthly form and yearning to unite with Abhirami.
This is apparent in many scenes like,
1. Guna tying the thaali around his neck.
2. Guna, looking reverently at his "thaali" after Abhirami walks out of the car hanging at the edge of a mountain.
3. Guna waiting for Abhirami to complete her meal.
4. Or when Abhirami kisses Guna.
The story also owes the main thread of obsession towards the Goddess to the story of Abhirama Bhattar, who wrote Abhirami Anthathi.
In a beautiful sequence, Rohini and Guna playfully pretend to be bees and buzz around in air (ending with the bees "kissing" each other), and Abhirami asks Guna to tie the Thaali, Guna says they have to wait till Pournami. But, she says "Nila aagasuthalaiya irukku? manasula irukku. Manasu thaan nila. Neranja naal!..". Apart from serving as a point for the culmination of their love (Nilu feels that this is a "must-have-sex" film and I agree; but this sequence does have the desired effect without showing them have sex), it also directly refers to the mythology itself. In the story of Abhirama Bhattar, Abhirami turns an Amavasai into a Pournami by throwing her ear-ring into the sky. Guna recollects the mythological incident and says "aamaam! Abhirami sonna Pournami thaan!".

And when the movie ends (with that divine and strangely soothing theme playing in the background), we see the deserted church in the bird's eye view and the glowing moon behind it. It is the next Pournami (thus completing the cycle) and Guna has joined hands with his Abhirami. Or has he?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara

It's quite late in the movie one would realise (disregarding preconceived notions raised from the movie's interesting title and from what one has heard about the film) that Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara's theme comes very close to being a preachy film. It can be defended that all the talk on current "apathetic" generation is nothing but the ramblings of a senile man and not meant to be preachy. But Prof. Uttam Chaudhary (Anupam Kher), the retired Hindi professor and the protagonist of the movie, does thrust some Gandhian ideals on us and quotes recent examples ranging from bombing the twin towers to some tragic incident in Japan (which I fail to recollect). On how we forgot the Gandhian principles (and how "we all killed him and locked him up in the pictures and statues"); if ever we understood them at first place, that is. This doesn't impact us to any extent because it appears as a late offshoot. A tangential take on contemporary violence/destruction doesn't strike hard as the movie wasn't about Gandhian principles till then. This concern of the professor over the current world situation (though we see passing glimpses of the professor disturbed by newspaper headlines about various crimes) seems plain abrupt.
Apart from this quibble, the movie is well made though appearing quite stagey at times. In the beginning, we are introduced to the retired Prof. Uttam Chaudhary, whose forgetfulness is crossing the normal limits of an old man, and his three children. The movie employs quite a number of regular plot devices here - a daughter torn between her own good (professionally too) and her concern over her dad's mental state, her indifferent boyfriend and a failing love affair, a dude who has 'forgotten his roots' and is unable to connect to his father's concerns - but handles all of them with adeptness. The first half revolves around many incidents revealing the professor's increasing forgetfulness because of which the plot sometimes seems to meander pointlessly (like the sequence with a barber). It also revolves around Trisha (Urmila) and the diffculties she is going through to take care of her old father, and that's told in a compelling fashion. At the end of the first half, we get to the point of concern in Chaudhary's illness. He thinks he has murdered (accidentally) Mahatma Gandhi. From there, the movie proceeds towards how this man is cured from his illusions. In the final minutes, the professor's illness serves as metaphor to the illness of the contemporary "non-idealistic" generation and suggests that we, like the professor, are also ill and need a cure.
Anupam Kher pulls off a crackling performance as the ageing man whose mental balance is getting out of his control - especially in the scene when his daughter comes to his room and apologises to him (which he seems to be unaware of) for being cross with him, he is a class act. Urmila Matondkar gives a decent performance as the caring daughter. Rest of the cast did not have much to do.
Jahnu Barua has written and directed this venture. Overlooking Barua's accomplishments one can say he has done a commendable job. But I wish I could catch his Assamese films which, I presume, must have been much better than this effort.

Monday, November 07, 2005

  • Firstly, Kamal Haasan turns 51! Here's wishing him!
  • In Sivakaasi, the unique mind of Perarasu is not as evident as it was in the inimitable Thirupachi. I found (and vouch for that) that Thirupachi was very very different from a usual Vijay Masala film and went in for Sivakaasi hoping Perarasu will be doing it again. Not quite!
    Though, my friend (with whom I watched the film with), who managed to see the similarities between Thirupachi and Sivakaasi, could not help but laud me for finding the talent in Perarasu after watching only the first of his yet-to-complete oeuvré of movies, though.
  • The good thing about Majaa is that it doesn't have much of the trappings of a usual tamil masala film, if you would disregard the usual round-up of things for a hero of Vikram's stature. But, the overwhelming bad thing is that it has all the trappings (everything in the book) of a usual malayalam masala film. The story skeletally looks much like a marriage of the medievel tales about petty thieves (not so unusual in malluwood, I perceive), and the good old Westerns (but the treatment is so ordinarily done that the thematic similarities might be barely visible). Pasupathy does shine in an ineptly written role. The simple humour is yet commendably done in the initial sequences. When the story goes back to the family feud business, you are better off being a chain-smoker (to use cliché from Aanandha Vikatan reviews).
    I am particularly not bought off with Vikram's idea to import movies/ideas from mallu world and he seems to like it to no end.
  • Taking a cue from here (via George), Abhishek Bachchan starrer, Bluffmaster! (the promos of which are already on all TV channels) seems to have been sourced from Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men; Roy, the name of the protagonist, being intact.
  • Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    The Man whom nobody deserved! Well, almost.

    The Man whom only a very few of the whole lot actually deserved. Period.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Black Friday

    Finally caught Black Friday; full thanks to vcd piracy.
    And the film is path-breaking and brilliant, to say the least. We have heard, many a times, claims about a movie that looks at an event objectively in a non-judgemental way. But, in Black Friday, it's as close as it gets.
    The movie, ably supported by the "voyeuristic" screenplay (the movie is based on Hussain Zaidi's eponymous book) written by the director Anurag Kashyap himself, describes the events of the 1993 bomb blasts in Bombay, its precursors and the subsequent investigations by the police, in a non-linear format. The ordering of the events is in line with how they were revealed to the police/public (again emphasizing the voyeuristic and objectival narration) rather than the chronological order. Hence, very correctly, the movie starts with the blast itself and the juggles to the past and present.
    The movie itself is more like a docu-drama. Since the events involve numerous characters (mostly unrelated), there is no central character in the movie. Even, many of the significant characters in the movie, don't even share their screen presence (well.. mostly), evoking strong reminiscences of the Steven Soderbergh film "Traffic". This is one of the characteristic qualities the movie wants to maintain as new characters come into the main story (which is about the 1993 blasts and nothing else) and disappear.
    But, the same cannot be said of the individual chapters. In fact, the best aspect is the way the movie seamlessly moves focus from one character to others - like the radical shift in one chapter to show what Baadshah Khan (Aditya Srivastava grabbing the top acting honours, after a good number of small roles elsewhere and the unreleased Paanch;please take a bow) one of those involved in the blasts, is going through; rather than introducing him when he is caught by the police, that is.
    The film is moderately paced and doesn't try to be a thriller or anything of that sort. A remarkably done chase sequence (ending quite humourously) which was the most close-to-life chase I (perhaps, all) have ever seen stands as a testimony to this statement. There are at least a dozen sequences in the movie which a Scorsese would be proud of; like the sequence of one busy night at the police station when the policemen enquire a friend of one of those who was involved in the bomb blasts, when so many things are happenning in the station (remarkably done with tracking shots to-and-fro from one place to another within the station). Talking about the Cinematography, Nataraja Subramaniam's work is terrific and the red tone used to film the investigation sequences is very effective.
    The entire cast is full of the low-key usual suspects (i.e., those who emerged with a strong theatre background and/or worked with the likes of Shekhar Kapur, RGV etc.) each of them chipping in very well; including wonderful performances from Kay Kay as Rakesh Maria, who investigates the case, and good old Pawan Malhotra as Tiger Memon who masterminds the blasts.

    Last but not the least, here's doffing my hats a dozen times to Anurag Kashyap, himself.
    When will the day come when I will be allowed to see his Paanch?

    1. My reaction after seeing the film about its release is this: The film is too real (and it will be called biased by all the sides) to have a theatrical release in India.2
    2. Yesterday had something to do with unreleased films. First, it was Black Friday which I had rented the day before. Next thing I did was to grab a vcd copy of Makrand Deshpande's Hanan (from Crossword when I chanced upon it!) and watch it. So, that's coming next..

    Friday, October 07, 2005


    From the discussion I had with Suresh in the the comments section of my rant-post on the Oscar Swindlers, I decided that I will have a neat little write-up on Ghajini. I watched the movie yesterday and I should say that Murugadoss did surprise me in quite some aspects on the genre he was trying to touch upon. I was expecting him to make a 'taut thriller' (a real abused term) in which he will sit back, explain what happenned in every significant scene in the form a stand-in character for the audience, hence making the movie a real bore to watch. Boy, how wrong I was! Not only did the movie come out of the mold of an archetype thriller, it also bowls you over with it's twists.
    Firstly, I feel it's quite unfair to say that this movie is ripped off from Memento considering how much of that premise is actually used in the movie. It's very difficult to remake an Indie American movie like Memento maintaining all it's primary elements and still expect the movie to work wonders at the B.O. But, the director goes completely off-track thereby serving the producer's desire (as I hear the movie is doing great business) to see the cash-regsiter ringing as Ghajini is anything but an Indie film. Now, for the actual review.

    Ghajini is a film of lost opportunities. With a little care, the director could have sure made an unintentional piece of Altman-esque black comedy. Try revisiting the following sequences and you will know what this movie could have been.
    1. The moment in which a Police Officer (played to hilarious effect by Riyaz Khan) desperately looking for the 2003 diary since he is not able to resist his anxiety to know what happenned to their love story on the new year day (reminiscent of Kubrick's idea to have Gen. Turgidson in the toilet when apparently a much significant thing - the bomber wings being sent to U.S.S.R. - happens). This is a recurring theme of the movie. There is also a direct nod to the Kubrick's classic when Nayanthara (again played with remarkable understanding) goes to take bath (mind you, here it doesn't serve as being funny but is a tipping-off-the-hat-act only) after reading the 2002 diary.
    2. The hilariously in-your-face death of the Police Officer (Sudhish Kamath points this out in his take as well).
    3. The Jyothika-esque Asin helping out handicapped children by helping them swing off the gate entrance floor without stepping on the bars. This seems to be a bold commentary on human being's pleasure (like this review) to indulge in his/her creativity in the name of charity and goodwill. I hope, in the future, this scene find a place in all those black-comedy handbooks.
    4. The already much-praised sequence (finding place in every damn review like here, here) as a not-so-intelligent cop (a possible reference to the cops-gone-crazy hollywood flicks) takes his time to find out that the 10-digit tattoos in Sanjay Ramasamy's body must be cellphone numbers.
    5. Much has been already said about the BGM by Harris Jeyaraj. All I would like to add is that he gives able support to the proceedings and he has put all the talk, that he could be the next best thing to have happenned to Tamil film music, to rest.

    So, is this as entertaining as, say, a Narasimha? Definitely not; It would have been one only if it had completely made sense throughout its duration. But it had those little differences.
    1. The stand-alone comedy track in the flashback, involving Surya and Asin as lovers in a strange setup. This would have definitely served very well in some other romantic comedy. But here it was off-track and made one wait helplessly to know what happens to the main story and Riyaz Khan's antics :p.
    2. The songs. There are too many of them. These seems to have been added for commercial viability and hinder the film's proceedings in more than one way.
    3. If he had completely left behind the rather oblique inspiration from the movie Memento which was rarely put to use (and the little moments when it is put to use, it serves as a spoof of the movie).
    4. Surya, in his lone (but failed) crusade trying to make the movie appear like an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

    P.S.:- It's too easy for self-professed critics to lampoon Ghajini. Ignore them.
    P.P.S:- And for a little saner review, look elsewhere!

    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    The much-necessitated disclaimer

    Well.. with all the hullaballoo going on about the correctness in the choice of Paheli as the official nomination from India (Rediff leading from the front), I wanted to reiterate my stand on this whole Oscar-thing. I mean, this token Oscar nomination has been going on for long time with not much significance (swayed by south Indian films for years including the likes of Jeans) and nobody seemed to care as much as they are doing now!
    My previous post was of the rants-kind on a token piece of parody in the name of nominees happenning year after year.
    I am not reacting in anger (like the repeated rants here) about what should have been the right choice instead of 'Paheli'. But, surest thing, I would have loved had HKA got selected, though :(.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Oscar Swindlers

    Well, the FFI has chosen Paheli* as the official Indian entry for this year's Oscars. Not that it's going to make some difference. But FFI is so screwed that they do this every year; only once in a blue moon, have they selected one among the worthier efforts of that year.
    Otherwise it's all like some parody like this year's nominees list which include Veer-Zaara, Sachein, Anniyan and the likes. Enough said.
    Even National Awards falter sometimes to mediocrity. But nowhere near to match FFI!
    The grapevine has it that after Jeans, this is the closest chance we might get to clinch the oscars! ;)

    * - I haven't seen Paheli myself and hence no comments on the movie itself.

    Links thru India Uncut.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005


    When Surya, a low-life yet honest man gets released from the jail (convicted for murder), because a sidekick of a big law-breaker in the city claims that he committed the murder, Surya asks him "Why?". He replies, "Deva". An attempt at pithy stylized dialogues. But, it is really funny in its awkwardness nevertheless. Wait, there is more to come. As Surya comes out of the jail doors, he sees Deva standing there, all alone, waiting for Surya's arrival. He expresses his gratitude for Deva and says "En kitta irukkurathu onnu thaan. En Uyir. Adha naa unakku kodukka thayaar'aa irukkaen" [paraphrased]. Deva, in turn, asks him to be his friend, his Thalapathi (Commander-in-chief). And they hug each other heartily, only in a few seconds after their second meeting (and the first doesn't go too well)! This sequence definitely reminds me of what Jabberwock wrote here (in a 'subtle' sense, of course).
    Quite obvious that the scene I have sampled is from Thalapathi, Mani Rathnam's attempt in retelling the mythological story of Karna from the epic Mahabharatha. It is worth mentioning that it also has Mani Rathnam writing the dialogues for his movie (An unusual thing; Anybody shed lights on Idhaya Kovil & Pagal Nilavu, please).
    The movie could have well been one of MR's fine efforts with its interesting premise (with strong echoes of Benegal's tour-de-force Kalyug). The references to the mythological original are quite straightforward unlike, say a "Hey! Ram", but yet adapted to the contemporary scenario very effectively.
    1. Surya, as a child, coming in a small piece of floating pad stuffed with chaff or something.
    2. Surya doesn't say "No" to anybody coming to him for help.
    3. Placing Arjun on the law's side {and he does come from a place called Pandavapuram (?)} thus placing him in a "war" against the "Kauravas", Deva and Surya.
    4. The Shobhana love-angle also suggesting Karna's failed attempt at marrying Draupadi since he was not a Kshatriya. Interestingly, Benegal also suggests that "Draupadi" was once in love with "Karna" in his Kalyug (though, I don't remember any such suggestion in Sage Vyasa's masterpiece. May be, I missed it out thanks largely to the kitsch, good-wins-over-the-evil version of Mahabharatha in Doordarshan).
    More higher points are IR's fantastic score and Santosh Sivan's impressive cinematography give a solid support the very bleak atmosphere maintained throughout the movie. MR's affinity to picturise songs with all the aesthetics is all too evident in this movie (and he pays his tribute to Kurosawa in the song Sundari Kannaal Oru Sethi). Inspite of these high points, the misé-en-scene throughout the movie (who are these people who rever Deva and Co. as their Saviours and which city are we in? both of these unanswered deliberately) and an impulsive leaning to go over-the-top in melodrama really pulls the movie down.
    The melodrama quotient reaches strange levels when one starts wondering if it was deliberate from the Mani Rathnam's part to equate the story to Mahabharata which had come in T.V. with over-the-top melodramatic setup. So, we have Surya (the name indicating the connection with God Surya, apart from quite a number of shots of Surya standing right in between the twilight sun and the camera giving him a halo effect) crying on his mother's lap the moment he meets her; Arjun, his half-brother (played by a young Aravind Swamy, a MR constant-to-be), calling him "Anna!" and hugging him after Deva's funeral.
    Rajini, in his last attempt at shedding off the heroic persona, still gets quite a share of it to appease his fans and we have MR on the other side trying to make Thalapathi as a great film. That conflict shows up in the movie too (and in the film's denouement too, with Surya joining hands with his mother safely, as "there is no evidence against him").
    I always maintained (then, perhaps mainly because I was/am an ardent fan of KH) that Guna was a much better effor than Thalapathi (the comparison being for the sole reason that they were released on the same day). I still think so.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal

    That this movie got made in the 1970s will be very hard to believe for many many generations to come. This is due to the condescending way with which we look at the older movies and our nonchalant feeling that the newer generations of film-makers are making better movies in the Tamil Cinema arena (I, myself, am guilty of this). The fact, I see on second thoughts, is that such gems get made once in a while. We have gems being made now as well. But, its more like a freaky occurrence. Well, in that sense, this movie is a freaky occurrence too. Perhaps, the freakiest of them all. IMHO, Jayakanthan should have written and directed more movies. He (like Sujatha - who in his screenwriting stint wrote, more often than not, for movies of much lesser worth), is no stranger to Cinema. In the preface of the book on the screenplay of this movie (available in some Tamil bookshops), A. Bhimsingh, the director of the movie [*], beams that working with Jayakanthan was a revelatory experience and he was quite awed at knowing that Jayakanthan was a fantastic screen writer and that he understood the grammar of Cinema very well.
    This is a movie about Ganga (Lakshmi in a career-best role; and National Award winning role), a Brahmin girl, who gets sexually 'assaulted' (well, there is a big question mark left here which is an audacious stroke of beauty from the writing department) by a man who gives her a lift on a rainy day, and how that day changes her whole life and how she attempts at getting her life back to normalcy. The movie works at various levels -
    1. a searing criticism at the way marriage/sex/women are treated by the bourgeois society.
    2. a character study of a lonely woman and loneliness itself
    3. an unusual love story (heck, this description sounds terrible; but, hope you get the point)
    4. and above all, a movie about relationships.
    When Ganga's uncle asks for her pardon, the way the film cuts to the time when Ganga leaves with him to his home and he says "I will show them what's what!" is the clearest testimony for the reason behind the movie's title apart from the study of the lives of the two protagonists.
    The movie steers clear of all clichés starting from not being yet another overtly pseudo-feminist fare (which was quite an identity for "good films" of Tamil Cinema in the 80s) with its very non-judgemental look (to such an extent that it even refuses to observe from a typical feminist standpoint, though that might be the most rightful position to take) on that fatal incident. After years, when she decides to meet the man (who is then introduced as Prabhu played by Srikanth) and she even befriends him, it is very strange from her part to catch the man who raped her and ruined her whole life. The girl going after the man who 'raped' her has been the plot of many movies [**], mostly terribly handled, and as if it was a righteous thing for the woman to go for that man. But here, it is not a mere indictment on the woman to go after him; but a willful decision from her part to do so; to prove her "smartness" to her uncle who, quite stupidly, says "she should go get that guy and marry him if she is smart enough" trying to prove she "cannot marry" unlike all other women. Her loneliness and Srikanth's helplessness and guilt plays the main factors in their progressing friendship. When Prabhu says he never forced anybody and asks Ganga if he really forced her that day, it is suggested that it was not a rape at all. In short, when Ganga finally yearns for his love, she no more feels he was the reason for her state of abandonment; rather, its the people around her who disowned her after that fatal incident years ago.
    The writing involves many moments breaking many a cinematic cliché. Just to sample, Prabhu is a rich man. But still "his English is not good" (at least he thinks so; portrayed without much emphasis on it by, say, letting him speak horrible English) and admires Ganga for that. Literary references have been mostly absent in the history of Tamil cinema. But here we get references to Chekhov, Wodehouse (in a throw-away scene) etc.
    Well, this is the only Jeyakanthan movie (clearly the man behind this fare) I have seen and I am still on the hunt for his other movies.
    Also, Check out Baradwaj's take on this movie.

    * - A. Bhimsingh collaborated again with JK and made Oru Nadigai Naadagam Paarkkiraal. His son, B. Lenin, adapted JK's "Oorukku Nooru Per" (a very serene, 'art-house' work which won him the National Award for the Best Director.

    ** - Sirai, a movie made by R. C. Sakthi is quite similar to this movie (and inspired by Benegal's Nishant, perhaps). Only that there we have a self-conscious director telling us that he has tried to tell the story "visually" (being apt to the cinematic medium, that is). But, something awfully goes wrong in its execution and becomes an unbearable piece for most of its running time, thanks in large proportions to the comedy track which in an approximate measurement goes for more than an hour.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Through George's post, I read Rediff's list of upcoming Hindi movies this week and had one serious question.
    What's a Madhavan-style comedy?

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    It's high time I did something much better in this blog. I accept this, unconditionally. I should do something. Something.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    The talk on the next movies of the biggies of tamil cinema is around. Kamal Haasan's Dasavatharam and Rajini's Sivaji. I am not too keen on the former and the latter is pretty much out of the scope of this blog, as of now. Not pinning much hopes on Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu either.
    It's high time he goes ahead with his own next venture (a Raajkamal Production, that is).
    I haven't seen any worthy tamil flicks in recent past (just some half-baked wannabe-cool movies like Arindhum Ariyaamalum and some clearcut B-flicks). The nearest ray of light I see is in the release of Bala's Naan Kadavul.

    Of marriages, murders and irreversibility

    Bingo! The Factory can smile! My Wife's Murder is, simply put, a worthier effort (also considering it's much lower profile compared to even the next-to-be-released James; and also for being an honest unpretentious effort) compared to the other efforts from the factory in recent times.
    Thankfully and as expected, this movie is not a yet-another-whodunnit. In fact, almost everybody in the movie knows who did it. The obviousness with which the policemen track the criminal behind the murder is what I would say as the singularly striking and applaudable aspect of the movie.
    Ravi Patwardhan (played with remarkable understanding and restraint by Anil Kapoor) has been nagged by his wife (Suchitra Krisnamoorthy) ever since he got married to her and after so many years he feels their marriage has not worked out. In one of those unpleasant fights, his wife dies accidentally when he slaps her in a fit of rage.
    From then on, his attempts (with able support from his assistant who in an act of utter "bewakoofi" tries to save him) to cover up the murder is rivetingly told by the Jijy Philip, the director, without diluting the credibility of the proceedings (like not allowing the protagonist to be "smart" matching his wits with the cops). Some of Ravi's moves might appear stupid when looked at as a mere game of escaping from the cops (as any other lesser movie will turn out to be). The murderer-by-accident's helplessness and loss of logical reasoning is portrayed as real as it gets. For eg., the way Ravi carefully repositioning the carpet and the draw over it in his bedroom after he uses it to cover up the blood temporarily (who is going to question him on the position of the carpet, anyway?). His deadpan expressions (in an attempt to not show his fear, he does reveal thye truth that he is less upset about the loss of his wife) each time the police investigates him about his wife's death is so apt and yet so convincing that he has to be the murderer, suggesting that tracking the murderer is quite easy, after all, in domestic circumstances. And at the end, all Ravi Patwardhan does, when he hears the first gunshot from the cops is to cry back in agony - "Arreyy.. Yahaan pe bachhe hain.. Dikhaayee nahin deta hai kya?".
    The way the undercurrents in the other "marital" relationships in the movie are touched upon is also commendable. Boman Irani is terrific, as always, and walks away with honours for the best performance. All the other performances are first-rate (a usual, for a factory venture). From the technical side, the cinematography by P. S. Vinod is stark, realistic and also renders the necessary claustrophobic environment in the first half of the movie.
    Indeed, My Wife's Murder is a small film, but still a rare effort and first of its kind in Bollywood. Don't even read further. Go watch My Wife's Murder before it vanishes out of the theatres.
    P.S.:- Add to this my egoistic bliss for having pinned my hopes on an underdog from RGV stable and having a very satisfying experience. A factory product is always awaited by me, but not always with the same inexplicable eagerness I had for this movie.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    The talented Mr. Shukla

    Saurabh Shukla is back into the fray, this time, with the participation of his film, Aye Dil [translated as Heart Goes Sha La La], in the Osian's-Cinefan film festival.
    Annie has covered about Osian's-Cinefan here where she goes all thumbs-up for Aye Dil. The movie stars his friend Rajat Kapoor [a case of two film makers acting in each other's movies[1]; go here to see more such cases;] and is a comedy about a balding, middle-aged writer [echoing similarties with Shukla himself, as he himself admits; and for which Rajat Kapoor shaved off his hair!], who meets a Miss India finalist on the net.

    He is a class apart, as his credits in the writing department of films like Satya, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, Raghu Romeo, etc. would indicate. But, his attempts at direction - namely Mudda and Chehraa - were not well-received and went without much of a response from any circles [and I haven't watched them as well :|].
    Aye Dil was to be telecasted in Zee TV. Or, was it already telecasted?
    In this interview [early this year], he talks about his new film The Piano, which must have been already telecasted in STAR One on May 29 at 9 pm.
    Anybody has got a clue about Aye Dil's telecast?
    This RAMLI thread should be watched to see if anybody can come up with more information on this telecast on Zee.

    [1] - Update on 6 Aug, 06:00 p.m.: This apparently had been achieved in Mudda, and consequently in Chehraa as well, both of which starred Rajat Kapoor in supporting role/cameo. Blame it on me for being unaware of this; though I did suspect this as they are close buddies and hence this update.

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    This post makes no claim that I am the lone challenger to this man or something. I have expressed my admiration openly quite many times about his determination and diligence.
    But, of late, I too am going bonkers.
    Latest is that I managed to watch Daas [another B-entry - there are so many these days - with some sparks of unintentional satirical take on religious harmony; but the tempo wasn't maintained throughout like, say a Narasimha to enjoy the movie], first-day-night-show; and driving home all the talk that I am Andy Dufresne's alter ego [minus the "hope" factor], I didn't cry once. not once!

    Update {Aug 2, 11:50 a.m.}: As an update to the last edition of masochism and its undertones in movie-watching in this blog, here's a simply hilarious interview by one Mr. Hosimin on his film, February 14. I seriously advise you to watch the movie and then read the interview. Or else, you will miss all the humour; like
  • The film opened well [...] and is a hit, especially in cities. The youth audiences like it and there is a positive talk about the film.
  • All shows are going full and it is right on top in Sun TV’s ‘Top Ten’.
  • That his film has been criticized for its slow narration [quite unfairly] {This is the best, isn't it?}
  • [He] made a honest film straight from [his] heart that can be watched with the entire family.
  • [the writer/director actually had a script and] finished it about three years back [and thought he could pull it off, even after pondering over it for so long].
  • [Last, but not the least,] February 14 is way ahead of all competition.
  • Friday, July 29, 2005

    Taking a cue from Mahesh Manjrekar?

  • Caught Viruddh yesterday [knowing what it would be like, which I could sense from the promos] and should say, it was ordinary, as expected [But, Mahesh Majrekar did surprise me with those ads for oil, Nerolac paints and Western Union Bank and that unique idea of ghost narration by John Abraham ;)].
  • Thanks to a visit to T.N. last week, I saw Feb 14 [two words: A bad B-flick and Bharath is done for a couple of years] and Priyasakhi [A Vikraman-meets-V.Sekar-meets-a-pathetic-Visu enterprise] and there is still a debate as to which was worse. My vote goes for Feb 14, though. Hmmm... talk about masochistic tendencies.
  • Collective Chaos has this Makhmalbaf & family Film Festival this weekend and this a dont-miss alert.
  • I don't know why. I am eagerly awaiting for My Wife's Murder's release. The interesting promos and Anil Kapoor's interview here [however much I get alerts on possibilities of his desperation and the trend of calling every new movie as the actor's/director's/producer's best, nowadays; or perhaps, from time immemorial] really hooked me on to this.
  • And the self-advertisements continue. My blog-equivalent of Karna [elder, but abandoned] has some questions. Do answer them.
  • Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Yesterday, I was one of the blessed ones to go through the whole sort of rumours about National Awards [I guessed many of them could be bogus, then; it turned out that only one info, a fatal one at that, about the awards was actually false] as I was updating on a minute-basis. The first link I bumped upon was Rediff's (very) immediate reaction [they had only this link in the main page, then; not even the link to a bigger set of awards] to Aishwarya Rai "winning" the award, where in, a rediff journo was lamenting [of course the link is dead now] if Aishwarya really deserved the award [which I duly linked in the very first question mark in my previous post as that was the biggest joke for me; blame it on my bias]. Thankfully, it was Tara for her lead performance as Haseena in Kasaravalli's Haseena [btw, which was the Kasaravalli movie which didn't win any national award?].
    Today, the main rediff page cries that "Ash deserved the award" [agreed, it was actually Rituparno Ghosh and not rediff; But, still something tells me that these guys can't live without references to Ash just as much Kamal Haasan can't make movies without references to Charlie Chaplin].

    Update (at Jul 15, 05:11 p.m.):-
    Check out Saif's cheeky reaction on receiving the national award! I have quite liked him as an actor since he got his RGV connection [since LKLKBK, that is; as against the general opinion that it was DCH which transformed him into what he is now, I thought it was when there was a refreshing change in his persona and acting skills; the same comic flair was evidently visible in the former too; only that it developed to a great effect in DCH]. But, I am still very much surprised ['surprised' meaning 'not convinced'] with he receiving the national award for best actor. I like all the counter-points as to why the award should not go for a light role and all that. But, the National Award for his effort in "Hum Tum"? Not that there was no such case before. Heck, Anil Kapoor won it for Pukar. Anyways, I haven't seen "Hum Tum". Nor do I remember any exceptional performance [which I've seen] that was outrageously overlooked or something [only some small commendable efforts like that of Madhavan/Abhishek in AE/Yuva; SRK's performance in Swades was sincere, not superb; Did I miss anyone? Alert readers can remind me!]. So, I should rather shut up and see Saif get his national award until then!
    As to "Page 3" winning the Best Film award, I will rant on that later.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Some joke ? ? ? ?
    Is it that these are the hot candidates (pointer?) or is it actually announced?
    Will be right back.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    a little bit of self-advertising

    A small piece of self-advertisement [**]. My post on life (as I would like to put it) originally posted in this blog of mine, features on the blog mela conducted by Nilu.

    ** - however much I restrict myself to the fact this will always be a movie blog ONLY.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Narasimha - a unique achievement in a unique genre!!

    Yes. You read it right. Narasimha is clearly distinct from, and superior to, most of its contemporaries belonging to various genres. That its part of the folklore for many tamil film connoisseurs, highlights its merit. This is my appreciation of the movie which kinda culminated its genre. The reader must have to understand the breadth of possibilities in cinema as a medium to understand my appreciation of the movie.
    Narasimha is a no mean achievement. Regardless of what the critics would like to believe [check this insipid review; I still wonder how the reviewer gives some points to the movie even though he has completely failed to get hold of the spirit of the movie], this is one of the most creative efforts that has come in tamil cinema in recent times and the best secret agent movie to have come in tamil cinema. Pity that the director, Mr. Thirupathisamy, had to die before giving us more such movies.
    The so-called intelligent audience, in search of "logic" (I hate the word) and "intellect", to assure themselves that the story is realistic enough and could happen to them on a series of dull and insipid days be theirs as well, would not be able to gauge the amount of inventiveness employed in this movie.
    Just because a movie stars an aged, fat, not-so-good-looking actor doesn't mean that one should put down the movie straight away. Why don't we talk about realism in this case? Aren't real cops/secret agents old enough that they can't shake their hips as much as a Mallika Sherawat can? But that, anyway, is NOT the point. In fact, much far from it [and all the talk about fat cops is just my attempt at being neutral to a Vijayakanth starrer]. After all, realism is not the movie's key point. In fact, its humour. I am no Vijayakanth fan. But his performance here really takes the movie to an altogether superior and surreal plane. To claim that he had no sense of humour in the making of the movie is very very hard to believe. The same can be said about every other actor/actress in the movie. What an ensemble cast it was! One careless/less serious actor could have introduced a boring moment in this piece de resistance (A special mention about Venu Aravind, here in a blink-and-you-ll-miss role, who with his deadpan serious face really rocked). In fact, the whole cast look very very serious and still are very very funny (definitely reminds me of Kamal Haasan's claim about Mumbai Xpress; still I would say watching this movie once could have given him more ideas) thus making each of their expressions, intonations all suggestive and subtle. And the writer/director knew exactly where/when/how to cut from one scene to another to give the exact effect and strike the perfect chord, so that the whole first hour of the movie plays like some gung-ho music (Why the hell did I have to leave the house coz of which I am yet to watch the full movie? Though, I will complete it soon).
    And what was Vadivelu doing in this movie, bringing down the level of humour and wit? Was a crass comedy track even necessary in such an ambitious effort? Same for the stretched action sequences. There has been a clear underestimation, from the director's side, of the script's merit that he had to go for such commercial compromises.
    This might have featured in the elite list of overlooked tamil films along with, Thirupachi [another stunner, put down for the simple reason that it doesn't have a poignant/believable story or understated performances; this was India's answer to Kill Bill, Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver all rolled into one, with its visceral depiction of violence; and an analysis of this will be the next to watch in this space], only if Ebert chose to go for an all-Indian list. Anyway, when was the audience smart enough to understand movies in Brechtian format?

    Coming up next in this series:
    1. Kill Bill, Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver all rolled into one - Thirupachi
    2. Let us B!! - An analysis of the Rajini's blockbuster movies

    P.S.:- This post has been modified since it was first published (on 11 July 2005). Sarcasm, if you find any, in this particular post is clearly a figment of imagination from the reader's side and has got nothing to do with my honest intentions.

    Monday, July 04, 2005

    There are no goods and bads. only a bland Sarkar.

    If you were one of those who wondered why Godfather HAD to be a movie of 3 hours length to masterfully depict the characters, go watch Sarkar. Not that Sarkar being too short, was its only folly. It was just one of them.
    Sarkar (writing credits to newcomer Manish Gupta) was shockingly mediocre, having come from the Factory and more importantly made by the man himself. I found D run-of-the-mill (w.r.t. RGV camp) too. But, I kinda understood that because plainly put, it wasn't made by RGV himself. And, RGV's candour in telling that D has a definitive Hero and is more on lines with Don that Satya/Company was hitting the nail on its head as to what D actually was meant to be. But somehow, many claimed (incl. a not-so-candid/illusioned Varma this time) Sarkar to be RGV's best effort.Hence the shock.
    RGV seems to have been not as ambitious as I thought he would have been when he was making Sarkar, that is, remaking The Godfather. Heck, let's not even use the word Ambition, as apparently there wasn't any, unless you count directing Big B as one.
    Sarkar is a hip-packaged movie (read as more 'on lines with Don', or 'D' for that matter) relying much more on Amitabh-Abhishek chemistry rather than merits on scripting and directorial departments. I am saying this not by comparing/contrasting it with the Classic. Sarkar, independently as a movie, regardless of where it is inspired from, is a very ordinary effort. That it comes from RGV is what is unacceptable. Hell, we even have a cliched glib-talking villain in Kota Srinivasa Rao as Selvan Mani cracking insipid jokes (that he is going back to Tamilnadu and asking Rashid to go to Dubai) at serious situations that one would expect in superHero flicks when the lamenting villains await for Hero's inevitable arrival to take his revenge on them, and a self-mocking character in the bogus saint played by Jeeva. In the above instances, the audience may have got a few laughs, but at the cost of characterization assassination. Rashid stares, stares, stares and then dies [Chhota Sarkar's words here - "Tujhe marte huae dekhne ki mazaa khona nahi chahta tha" - are some rare points where the movie scores regardless of its plot; Again, contrast this with Michael Corleone who is in the baptism ceremony when the "revenge" is being taken]. And, whats with the heavy noisy background score? Was Amar Mohile thinking he was scoring for a horror flick? There were shades of such heavy BGM scores even in RGV's last directorial attempt Naach. But here it really irked me.
    In a scene where some friend reveals to Vishram that Sarkar has got his bail, we hear a big bang on the background. The camera zooms fast towards Vishram for a moment and comes back in sync with the background thud - worthy of inclusion in next Simbhu flick where he would inform an overcaring/rich/powerful father that he just now slept with the latter's daughter. The performances were all competitive. Lesser appreciation because most of them are very much underwritten that some otherwise nice performances like that of Kay Kay's are tarnished.
    I never thought I would be panning a RGV movie to this extent. Neither was the movie bad. But much much far away from being a worthy successor to Ramu's previous works on "Crime and Punishment", as he had put it here - "Satya and Company were just preparatory blueprints for SARKAR. With this film, I hope that my trilogy on crime and punishment; within the reality of our country, our city and our neighbourhood; has come a full circle." Hence, I have one question to Ramu. That, what was going on in his mind?
    Perhaps, I should have given more thought to/interpretation on what Ramu had said here too.

    P.S.:- For all the non-tamil-movie-watching readers, Simbhu is one of the last disasters that struck the tamil moviedom.

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Anniyan and Shankar's other super-hero movies

    Steering clear of euphemisms with a nonchalant ease, characteristic of me, when it comes to Shankar, I would like to shout that Anniyan is plain bad. More so because, nobody else seem to be doing it. Not that I had expected anything out of Anniyan. But, Shankar sure seems to have lost his touch at the B.O. and might never repeat the success of his previous movies.
    Making use of a big cliche found largely in movie reviews (that so-and-so movie had everything GOING for it) in an opposite context, Anniyan had nothing going for it except for Vikram and loads of money to be spent. A beaten-to-death case of multiple personality (if this was a spoiler for anyone of you, kindly forgive yours truly and write so to me and I will remove it), an escapist plot (now, I am talking only within Shankar's context), a screenplay characteristic of under-development of each character like in those movies made by S. A. Chandrashekhar and likes.
    Shankar had mentioned in his recent interview with Hindu on "how he brings realism in his own way within the commercial format" and I was nodding with acknowledgement. Yes. Though all his movies have esssentially been fantasy movies making ways for all possible commercial outlets, he always adds realism and colloquy which not many can match or even sense. Real characters (the ones with smaller screen presence too) and some hard-hitting intelligent dialogues (I will attribute that to Shankar as much as his writers). So in his issue-based commercial potboilers, Shankar had always been a quite good one and more importantly a very sensible one. Leave aside his "light" movies (Kaadhalan, Jeans; Boys being both here and there, but very very bad nevertheless), which were always unworthy though sometimes having that Shankar-kinda-realism in them.
    The way Anniyan begins with the Ambi character, for the conformist he is, realising the faulty way in which the society works and his resultant frustration being protrayed in an amateurish way, one begins to wonder if Shankar has lost the touch. In these scenes, we can see how the character of Ambi is used more for the flat humour (which just doesn't work, btw). Ambi receives a spam letter which talks about how one Mr. Anniyan is gonna slay sinners. And thus we are introduced to Anniyan, the second Vikram. As "Anniyan" bashes a bunch of hooligans (Vikram doing a "Dhill" here just didn't work; was it Vikram who was indulging?) kills the sinners using creative methods (a la Se7en) based on a sadistic Sanskrit literature. We get to see a serious-looking Prakash Raj on the trail of Anniyan along with a glib-tongued Vivek. Add to this Ambi's outrageous efforts to win Sada's heart (which makes Siddharth's bear-all-clothes method pale in comparison on degree of plausibility for winning a girl's heart). And bang, we get the other Vikram as Remo and Vikram with his antics manages to be an effective parody of what he intends to be.
    You have to see the movie to know how bad Vikram has performed. Add Prakash Raj, Nedumudi Venu, Nasser etc. to the big list of actors with no impact whatsoever. Sada needs no mention unless if you had ever wondered how her navel looked like (which I found was just like anybody else's :p).
    Harris Jeyaraj's soundtrack score is so-so (mind you, not the BGM score). At least, had the Keerthanai been played, as it was on the audio release, it would have been nice. But, it seems Shankar wanted to capture the Thiruvaiyaaru scene as it actually happens.
    The sole saviour, of course, is Vivek who with his very scarcely scattered one-liners (Kamal aficionados alert: 2 take-offs on him!), had me in splits for some moments.

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Rediff's feature on India's Best Films

    Rediff has been publishing this feature of "Top 10 Indian movies of all-time", since Time magazine released a list of what they(Richard Corliss and Richard Schicker) felt was the all-time top 100 movies. That Time's list featured 5 (not 3 as mentioned in many blog circles; a result of viewing Ray's trilogy as a single movie! heck!) Indian movies has been a reason why Indian bloggers have been talking at length (people googling Nayagan-Time connection can go here, here) about the selection. And here is Rediff's share of the talk - Subhash Ghai, Vipul Shah's lists were published. Theodore Bhaskaran, in sync with what I have mentioned elsewhere (to be precise, here) about his time-warp-syndrome, chose "Ezhai Padum Paadu" in all-time top 10 Indian movies.
    But, the thing that triggered this post is what Rediff put up today as Mohanlal's list. I opened the page and went through the list and was very surprised to see the movies in Mohanlal's list, many of the ones being films in which he starred. When Subhash Ghai's list was published, Balaji pointed out Ghai's ego inteference resulting in placing his own movie in his list (which was perhaps triggered by Taal's participation in Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival LOL!) I was not WTFing to that extent, after reading about Mohanlal's. But in the same ballpark, nevertheless. And, I should say that the movies mentioned by Mohanlal aren't in the same ballpark as Ghai's Taal as well. But, this is not the Mohanlal we know. Then, I went on to read Mohanlal's "disclaimers" at the top. Taking into account of his disclaimers, Rediff should not even have called this Mohanlal's top ten, as the actor so carefully avoided anything "great" about his list and maintained his humility. But then, is that what we know Rediff for? Probably I should ask George. :) And, yeah! Ghai might have had his own "disclaimers" as well.

    Jun 16, 10:00 p.m.
    Further updates: Check out more lists from P. C. Sreeram, Sourabh Usha Narang, RGV, Adoor and Amol Palekar.
    But, tonight's hot update is an ROTFL material from Pradeep Sarkar (just for the last 2 inclusions)!
    And this confirms that Rediff offers a shot of Tequila to everybody (and unsuspecting Ghai & Sarkar seem to have accepted the offer!) before actually asking him/her for the list :D. Or, I am missing some in-joke here. Elsewhere in Rediff, Vidhu Vinod Chopra too seems to have taken a couple of shots before this interview, as well!

    Assorted compilation here!

    Btw, It is confirmed :(

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    No "No Smoking" in films, please!

    So I've been hearing about this ban on showing smoking in films, first thru Lazy's post and then thru Balaji, here.
    My personal opinion, of course, is that it's a ridiculous thing to do and it would really put the creators of the art in a fix.
    That I vehemently oppose this is one thing. But I didn't know until this day that it was Dr. Ramadoss all along, until I read Aamir's letter, thru Gaurav's post, the politically illiterate guy, that I am. And why wasn't there any talk on the Ramadoss-cancerstick connection (after all, the minister is his son) in the blog arena which would have enlightened me even before my self-realisation of the main factor behind this issue. Or, am I being politically incorrect in my suspicion?
    That Ramadoss has been taking his personal opinion too far, for quite sometime now, is undeniable. But now, he is also taking his personal duel with Rajinikanth (his accusations on Rajinikanth and all that, about which I won't completely disagree with) too far and trying to make it a law at the national level. And, that precisely is bullsh*t.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    Woody Allen

    Why am I yearning (to death) to see movies of Woody Allen, all of a sudden?
    I don't remember reading about him anywhere accidentally or something.
    I did google about him intensely for a couple of days now (or was it around a week) during day hours in my company. But, all by myself...
    I wonder why? Something (currently sub-conscious) must have triggered this....
    Oh.. yeah, I saw a book in Crossword which had the complete collection of his writings and I was kinda impressed by its looks (?); and am a big fan of the quotes of his, which I have come across!

    And why am I blogging about this? Yeah, I vow I will watch at least half-a-dozen soon.

    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Read and Relished!!

    Read this (and here too) and Relish!
    Yeah, there were scenes inspired/lifted/copied (varies as per one's leaning towards the movie) from multiple Hollywood classics.
    But, may I ask, "So What?".. All I know is its a landmark/classic out here, just like say, the first two installments of the Dollar Trilogy in Hollywood.

    Friday, April 29, 2005

    mid-day bloopers?

    What the heck? "Ram Gopal Varma’s Naina"??

    Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi - Two Thumbs Up!!

    Finally, watched Sudhir Mishra's Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi after missing it when it was screened by Collective Chaos!

    And a lovely movie, it was!

    Its great to see Sudhir Mishra, back in his elements, after a couple of off-shoots, namely, "Chameli" and "Calcutta Mail". This time he gifts himself with a wonderful script co-written by Ruchi Narain (who might direct a film soon executive-produced by Mr. Mishra) & Shivkumar Subramaniam.
    Back to HKA. Its about three young people, Siddharth, Geeta and Vikram. Siddharth is born with the silver spoon and wants to change the corrupt system with his revolutionary ideas. Geeta is in love with Siddharth and unsure about what she wants to do, and follows the dynamic Siddharth with his revolutionary ideas. Vikram doesn't care a heck about the system and wants to climb up the economic ladder. But, he is hopelessly in love with Geeta. He argues Siddharth has time for this indulgence; but, not him. In this neat setup, echoing similarities with Yuva (Make no mistake, Hazaaron was completed much before Yuva), the movie explores the ideologies, politics, ambitions of the youth of the bygone era of the 60's and 70's. But the story is not about politics. Its a love story, which twirls alongside the political turmoils of the 1970's, serving as an allegory of role of Indian youth in yesteryears politics and more broadly, India. The actual historic incidents and happennings like the emergency period are kept in the backdrop of the plot. The way humour is strewn over the movie is commendable!

    Sudhir Mishra doesn't eulogise the way of the revolution; all we see, initially, is a bunch of dopers and their political friends with communist leanings, discussing Marx, Castro, et al. That we find the path of Vikram most agreeable is inevitable and that has been the director's intention. Sudhir Mishra succeeds by showing things as they happenned. People who chased their revolutionaly ideas were either left disillusioned or lost their ideals and the writers do not mince their words on this aspect. That they chased such a quite impossible dream to change the world is by itself a fascinating subject; and is portrayed profoundly, and nostalgically too, by Mr. Mishra. Its the character of Vikram the audience are most likely to identify with; and the character is so seamlessly written that as the movie proceeds, we see his character develop much more than the cliched-selfish cardboard character we are being served with, in movies generally. In the process, its the other male protagonist, the idealistic Siddharth, who appears a bit too upright for the empathy of this generation, but true to those times nevertheless. Thats why we don't see the human side of him, with all its intrinisic flaws, until the very end, where he is left disillusioned and renounces his revolutionary ideas. There is a sequence, in which Vikram, hopelessly in love with Geeta, follows her to a village in Bihar, just to find that Geeta had come to meet Siddharth, who had joined a naxal group. And then, alongside a river, they talk.. That's a miniature setting of the whole story of the lives of the three. In an effort to pacify an angry Siddharth, Vikram says "Long live Revolution!" (with a bottle of beer in his hand; so is Geeta). There is a short silence and then they have a hearty laugh!

    Among the onscreen performances, all the three protagonists Kay Kay Menon, Shiney Ahuja and Chitrangada Singh have given clean performances. The scene stealer, of course, is Shiny Ahuja, who as Vikram Malhotra walks away with the top honours. somehow, I felt he is going to be the most under-appreciated, after finding him and his character excellent in the movie. But, was more than happy to find most of the reviews, the precious little that are written, giving due applause to him! Other notable performances include Yashpal Sharma. Saurabh Shukla makes a special appearance.

    My only minor grouse (in want of a softer word) is the full-blown use of English in the dialogues of the movies, unlike his earlier movies like Dharavi, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (the comparison being somewhat unfair as the settings are different). Agreed, that they are in Delhi, Siddharth can't talk both Bengali and Urdu - his possible mother tongues, and all that. Still, I feel more of Hindi dialogues between the three characters could have been added to make the characters more real. It seems Geeta had been made a south Indian just to be politically correct to assure that they can't get away with Hindi (similar to Mr. and Mrs. Iyer). It looks out-of-place, when Geeta talks to Siddharth in English, even when in absolute panic, after having spent around four years in Bhojpur. Hell, she even puts a few words of English (in clean British accent) into the policeman's ears knowing he would not get a bit of what she meant, but just to vent out her frustrations. Absolutely detailed characterization of all the revolutionaries, relatives, aunts, et al, with smaller screen presence, do not allow them to speak English and their Hindi/regional language befits their characters to T. Only that, the lead characters could have played it a bit less with the English dialogues. Was Mr. Mishra aiming at a wider audience by making it in English? Nothing wrong in this when all he is popular, in Bollywood, is for his substitute-effort in "Chameli".

    The soundtrack, by Shantanu Moitra, featuring in the movie is classy with the qawwali number "Mann Yeh Bavra" sung by Ajay Jhingran and Swanand Kirkire being the best pick; "Bawra Mann Dekhne" (female rendition by Shubha Mudgal and male rendition Swanand Kirkire) also stands out among other tracks.

    Easily, the best Indian film I have seen this year!!!
    Or, am I forgetting any movie here? nope!

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Search keywords pointing to my blog

    Top 25 Keywords (via BlogPatrol) used for searches that pointed to my blog (nothing to brag about as far as the actual numbers are concerned :)):

    Anurag Kashyap (Google) - 9
    Vijay dan Detha Duvidha (Google) - 2
    duvidha (Google) - 2
    Michael Madhana Kamarajan Movie Review (Google) - 1
    mumbai xpress (Google) - 1
    pushpak based on hollywood movie (Google) - 1
    pushpak tamil film (Google) - 1
    rehan ansari 2005 (Google) - 1
    sathi leelavathi (Google) - 1
    singaravelan kamal crazy mohan (Google) - 1
    tamil dvds bama vijayam (Google) - 1
    Thirupaachi tamil Movie download (Google) - 1
    trois couleurs (Google) - 1
    Vijay dan Detha + Duvidha (Google) - 1
    avvai shanmugi download (Google) - 1
    duvidha film review (Google) - 1
    Duvidha Vijay dan Detha (Google) - 1
    Duvidha, a novel by Vijay dan Detha (Google) - 1
    hazaaron khwahishen aisi pictures (Google) - 1
    hazaaron khwahishen aisi soundtrack (Google) - 1
    hazaaroN Khwahishen movie (Google) - 1
    jyothika (Google) - 1
    madhan's thirai paarvai (Google) - 1

    So, I am doing quite some publicity work for Anurag Kashyap! The odd ones are of course, the one that says "Thirupaachi tamil Movie download (Google)" and "Jyothika" ( Crying out aloud:((( ). There was only a passing reference on that movie in one of my posts. At least, all the keywords are related to movies ;)

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    FDES ala Golmaal ala Thillu Mullu!

    No time for a new post now. Caught yesterday's evening show and here is my comments on Lazy's blog.


    i did a FDES (first day evening show) in typical Golmaal-Thillu Mullu style on Mumbai Xpress and almost felt the same way as Ram Murali did except for the Crazy-Mohan-absent-lament part. I feel the second half could have been done much better. First half was absolutely hilarious and all too good. Pasupathy excels! Also, Vaiyapuri provides able support in the first half. Detailed review later. Somehow feeling Hindi version is gonna be better with Saurabh Shukla (Santhana Bharathi role) and Om Puri (Nasser's role) rocking! Not that Nasser was bad. Somehow, they (Santhana Bharathi & Nasser) could not add pep to the second half.

    Going for evening show of the hindi version today. brb!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    The discovery that made my day!

    I am loving Baradwaj Rangan's blog so much that I went thru more than 80% of his posts within half an hour, flat, during the day hours in the office, most of which were movie reviews. My first spontaneous thought was to download them right away, using some site tracker and save it to relish it for the rest of my life (hey, personal use only! "Relish", I said) :).

    P.S.:- [On a more serious note,] I used to do the same for many film reviews/information available on the net during my college days, where in, I had limited access to the net and wasn't always connected. Thats a reason why I got reminded of site-tracking thing when I read this blog. I know it is illegal to use site-tracking applications coz of which I refrained from doing it. Now, since I have free access to the net, it is not even required and this might be the actual reason for the refrainment! :)

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Another MMKR in the offing?

    Honestly (and cynically), I don't think Kamal could have recreated in Mumbai Xpress, what he did in MMKR. He himself must be aware of it by now, if my prediction is for real. But, Kamal has been making lofty claims about the movie (here and now, here!) and he seems to be creatively much more satisfied with the movie than any of his recent comedies.
    His quotes have ranged from,

    With due respect to all my friends involved with that project, "Mumbai Express" is a different league of comedy. This is way above "Vasool Raja".
    - in one of his early interviews about the movie.

    After `Michael Madhana Kama Rajan,' this has been the most difficult screenplay to conceive.
    in his interview with The Hindu.

    But what I feel is that it's hard to get a performance when everybody does so well. Boman Irani is such a fabulous actor that if he does anything less than excellent, the audience will lynch him. So, leaving him out, if you look at Mumbai Xpress, the performances are unanimously far superior.
    - in his interview with Rediff.

    He doesn't generally do this. He did not say things of this kind for pre-release hype for any of his comedy ventures since MMKR (that he did'nt do it for MMKR was coz he didn't estimate exactly what a wonderful movie he had made along with his team!). He actually means it now! All the more, its directed (co-directed, should I say?) by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao who was behind the best comedies of Kamal.
    Thats why I ve been excitedly talking about Mumbai Xpress and have high expectations on this, despite the absence of the genius of Crazy Mohan ( :(((( ) from Kamal's team; more expectations than any of the comedy movies he has done since MMKR!

    When I say Kamal's team, I mean Crazy-Kamal writer-duo and the director (Singeetham in this case). Now, some peek into their works (qualitative! qualitative!)

    1. Neither one of the three seems to have succeeded alone.
    Singeetham - Little John (Singeetham's tryst with SFX).
    Crazy Mohan - All duds except the delectable Poikkal Kuthirai (based on Crazy's drama "Marriage made in Saloon" and directed by K.B.) and Kadhanayagan (famous for its "Dubai" sequence!) to quite some extent, largely due to S. Ve. Shekhar's presence. Notable among these were Arunachalam, Aahaa (much praised one, though), Poovellaam Kaettuppaar, Ratchagan and Mr. Romeo. Other lesser-known attempts were Chinna Maappillai (Directed by Santhana Bharathi, a Kamal constant), Vietnam Colony, Thaedinaen Vanthathu (All Prabhu Starrers). Crazy tried his hand at screenplay as well for some of these movies.
    Kamal Haasan - All his yesteryear comedies (err.. I mean 80's) and Singaravelan. None of them were written by Kamal.

    2. The collaboration of the other two in the absence of Kamal Haasan was a mishit.
    Crazy-Singeetham - Chinna Vaathiyaar, another dud with Crazy Mohan as the sole crusader.

    3. The other two in the absence of Crazy Mohan collaborated really well in the past.
    Kamal-Singeetham - Raaja Paarvai, Pushpak (Absurd quip: No dialogues. No Crazy. ;)).
    Both movies were not pure comedies (I mean, humour for the sake of humour!).
    ... and now Mumbai Xpress.

    4. The Crazy-Kamal duo without Singeetham were mostly partially successful. But, most of them ranged from reasonably good to occassionaly OK and weren't in the league of their works alongwith Singeetham. Exceptions were Sathi Leelavathi (notches way above the rest with a fine control on the humour), Avvai Shanmugi (largely because of the inherent set-up for fine comic moments and an ensemble cast with the finest line-up of actors in Tamil cinema, inspite of the absence of a fine director at the helm) which were real treats and not just reasonably good. PKS was immensely likeable in parts, with not much help from a very frivolous plot. Panchathanthiram, like Kaadhala Kaadhala, had sparsely scattered sparks of intellingence, but failed as a movie with its stagey setup and over-dependency on blink-you-will-miss-dialogues by Crazy and marked the saturation of the level to which Crazy Mohan's dialogues could help an otherwise ordinary movie.

    5. And there is the fifth category with all the 3 present but
    a. still were unable to deliver a patch of their earlier works in Kaadhala Kaadhala (it did have strokes of brilliance from Crazy Mohan), and
    b. delivered Magalir Mattum, a very neat (not GREAT) comedy.

    Disclaimer:- Though, this analysis does appear pointless, its for the reader to make his own conclusions.

    P.S.:- Do check out the review (a tribute, rather!) of MMKR, a post by aNTi. The only comprehensive review of the movie, doing justice to the reviewed material, available on the web!

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Anurag Kashyap!

    There is one thing about which I wanted to post for quite sometime and got reminded even today morning before posting about Paheli.
    It was about Anurag Kashyap. Its already an old news that Bombay High Court held the release of Black Friday till the 1993 bomb blast case verdict (WTF, gimme a break).
    Now, I feel even Paanch might see the light on some day, but not Black Friday. The court has ordered that Black Friday should be released only after the 1993 Bomb Blasts Case is closed. Atrocious. I have never heard of (layman's view there; law pros can clarify) any such controversial/communal/riot cases getting closed. That sadly might mean, its curtains forever for Black Friday. Those who caught it during PIFF (through George and Ramanand) and other festivals are the luckier ones. My tryst with Anurag Kashyap still is limited to those movies he wrote.
    He must be damn frustrated. It seems to be more of an instance of Murphy's law. There can be no possible words of consolation for him. But here's Rediff's note on him (seems to be a collection of all his current/old interviews with Rediff, esp. the bits about RGV).
    Allwyn Kaalicharan and Gulal may also, probably, not get made :((. His reputation in the industry is also not all that fine, as his very honest opinions are, many a times, at loggerheads (and more loggerheads!) with the big names.

    And now its Palekar!

    The talk about Paheli has been goin on for sometime now. The movie is said to be based on Vijay Dan-Detha's novel (or short story?) Duvidha. But didn't Mani Kaul make Duvidha, the movie adapatation of the same novel quite long ago? wonder why there isn't no mention on that!
    Though the synopses of the two movies seem to be the same, this one seems to be a very high-profile remake. Heard of some grand and colourful sets and great dance sequences elsewhere.

    Now, tell me what's Amol Palekar doing here, after having made some very simple and sobre films!

    P.S. :- I am still expecting Paheli to be good, This one is just a sanity-check if it is going the way Thakshak did, with the film's USP being something like Tabu's dance in "Rang De" song!

    Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Mumbai Xpress!!!

    Mumbai Xpress website has been kicked off!
    check it out!
    Heard some days before that its a kidnap(-gone-awry?) story..
    and so it is!
    The site looks great!

    Some weeks ago, Kamal Haasan said at a news conference organized at the Sahara-One Motion Pictures office that, "Except for the soundtrack, 'Mumbai Xpress' looks like 'Nayakan' or any of my better films". I am expecting a lot this time!

    and pleeeeeeze Kamal.. I hope (I really hope this should not happen, and am being damn honest in admitting it) there is no Hollywood inspiration this time...
    Though I still would say even most of his hollywood adaptations have been great/good/rarely OK; w.r.t. the standards set by comedy movies from Kamal production house in an otherwise insipid Tamil film industry (save for a few others) as far as comedy is concerned.
    no inspired story this time please!

    Wednesday, March 30, 2005

    Bala's funny bone!

    The review of Mayaavi at indiaglitz says "Director Singapuli has obviously some flair for comedy and mirth. Unlike his guru Bala (who is the producer of the film), he doesn't reach for your grey cells. But he aims for your funny bone."
    Strange the reviewer felt so. I found a lot of Bala in the dialogues and the subtle manner in which the going-on were handled. Just because the stories of Bala are morbid, doesn't say anything about his sense of humour. Given any day, I ll have a hearty laugh seeing the Sriman scenes of Sethu, and Surya scenes (I liked Laila too!) of Pithamagan (the rather famous "lodukku pandi" of Nanda was not up to the standards of the other two). Bala's got his funny bone in tact. Dear reviewer, think again before you make such statements!
    I found that the Sishya has picked quite a lesson from his Guru (Could u have said the same on Singapuli's humour sense after having watched "Red"?)

    Liked the first-half of the movie, most of the moments predominantly coz of Surya's witty presence and the other commendable performance from Satyan (could not like Jyothika in this too). Second half drag...ged (with quite a number of g's in it and loads of maudlinness). Songs were placed at random moments. The whole concept of a movie star liking/loving the simplicity of a con man's life (beaten to cliche many a times) went without much impact. Inspirations from movies like Mast was unavoidable for the makers I guess :). But they do tip their hat for Varma, as Jyothika's mom tells her "Night, antha Ramgopal Varma padam 'Bhoot' paakaathey!" (now, why did they have to speak tamil. to add to the comic effect?)...
    Thank god that Jo didn't have to marry Balayya. Surya called it something like a "grammatic mistake in story-writing" if Jyothika and Balayya married (in Madhan's thirai paarvai) :)).

    Watch it for the good humour it provides in the first half!

    Update on 13 Apr, 4 p.m.: The objective of this post was actually to emphasize Bala's sense of humour (as against the general myth that he writes morbid stuff) and not a review of Mayaavi. Then I went on telling my opinion on the movie for a few lines, which was not very clear. Hence this update. When I said "Watch it for good humour it provides in the first half!", I meant that "Watch only the first half with some hope" and that the second half did not have an iota of humour (Exception: The Scene in which Satyan explains why he likes Simran and not Jyothika! unable to recall any other moment). And the first half did have a few good (and well-timed by the actors mentioned above) good gags and giggles which made it worth watching, which otherwise was loaded with fights, dances, punch dialogues (oh.. c'mon!), sentiments and all usual distractions (In fact the screenplay and the movie itself is one weird conglomeration of all the distractions with some good humour spread around it) and was not developing a story but showing some vague incidents. I said "Watch it" (it slipped out of my keyboard) to only those (like me) who watch every goddamn quite-known-movie being released, including the likes of the much-dreaded "Thirupaachi"; and am not recommending this dud to anybody.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    All ye K.B. fans!!

    There is this ongoing Balachander Film Festival in K TV..
    I was continually perplexed to find so many KB movies playing all through the schedule of K TV..
    With no exaggerations around 50 % of the movies being shown are that of K.B.'s (with a whole lot of week-level repetitions as well!)

    The choice of movies aired on Tamil Satellite Channels make no sense. They dont pick the latest movies. nor the good movies of the past. not even the hit stinking-masala films. but obscure movies of the past and label them as "superhit velli" and likes.

    I aint no big KB fan! But he made a lot of sense when nobody else gave a serious thought to cinema!
    Anyways, had some good retrospective session on the man and his movies. Though, I dint manage to catch most of the movies, I dug them at google!

    Can you people (those who are reading this!) tell me ur favourite K.B. movies and y u liked them??

    P.S.:- If you are yet to see some of his movies which you always wanted to see, K TV is in good mood (leave the prime-time movies in weekends. They are the ones that really suck!) and catch them this season on pre-noon, afternoon (There is one 4 p.m. show nowadays which most of office-goers would miss. They showed "Achamillai Achamillai" some days ago at this showtime which i had to miss!) or late-night sessions!!

    Art in its own right!(?)

    Check this out to know what Ebert thinks about Taal!!
    should I ROTFL/laugh/smile/show pride/cry in knowing what Indian Cinema is famous for?
    Is there anything bad about viewing Subhash Ghai's art in its (and his) own way? An unsuspecting Ebert seems to do that and is all praise for the Indian Spielberg (lets hunt the guy who dubbed him as that and execute him!)

    This weekend, I continued my fascination on Cinema Kieslowskia by watching Decalogue (7 of them on the same day!). More on this later!

    Bose: The Forgotten Hero is up and ready for release soon. Audio is already into the market and my playlist!
    Where is Benegal going with this movie? Still deep into commercial cinema where his track record is utterly not good? Though, his choice of Sachin Khedekar doesn't exactly indicate that he is going the Dev-Nihalani way... (sorry for the belittlement there. yet to catch Dev and my opinion on it is mainly based on those vile reviewers whom I seem to believe!)

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    Kamal - a Plagiariser? Pseudo-intellectual? and other bashings!

    There is this ongoing discussion on Kamal Haasan in the comments section of this post by lazygeek. Would like to write a BIG essay on this topic soon!

    Direct link to comments section of the post.


    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc and Rouge


    Watching movies like this is when u feel what Ebert said in one of his reviews - It's as if European films have a more adult, inward, knowing way of dealing with the emotions, and Hollywood hasn't grown up enough. (that it came from the review of the Blue is pure coincidence. His reviews of movies of Fellini, Tati and likes also tangent towards that suggestion!)
    I just love the way he just gives a damn to logic and proceeds and the wonderful use of colours.. and his humanely inward look at the 3 political words (so to say!) Liberty, Equality and Fraternity!

    Rediscovered Godfather : Part II as well!!
    and to end this weekend in a grand manner, watched Ran!! but could catch only half of it, as it was time to pack my bags! will finish it soon and I owe a review on it (and some other movies as well!)!!

    What a wonderful weekend!

    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    Weekend Planner!

    This weekend, I won't be able to make it to Chitrabharathi 2005 (a seminar following the screenings too! Sudhir Mishra's Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi being my prime interest in this!) being conducted Suchithra Film Society along with Collective Chaos as I am goin home. But have got a bigggger project - namely, Three Colours Trilogy!!! :)))

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    has anybody hit my blog already?

    Its so strange if i keep talking to myself in this blog...

    has anybody hit it already?

    if so, leave a comment..

    P.S. :- Today, I took a strange exercise of seeing how other blogs started and was relieved to see it was much the same way as mine. In one of the blogs i frequent nowadays, by Nakul Krishna, he had asked a similar question in his initial blogging days (he had actually given his email id).

    To end up with a recursive thought, may be, this exercise (of looking at some bloggers' blogs as to what extent it was frequented at the beginning stage) itself was not so strange and many used to do it and thought it was strange too. Again, the above-mentioned "may-be-everybody-did-it" thought too struck everyone and so on..... :))

    Monday, February 28, 2005

    oscars... what about Scorsese? - Updated

    So no Scorsese again.. I dont say ":((" coz its pretty odd for Academy not to have credited this man for the last 30 years.. and maintaining their 'legacy'...

    I was very curious if he would pick it up for Aviator having not won for movies like Tax Driver (just imagine Rocky getting ahead of it!), Raging Bull and Goodfellas... and somehow feeling upbeat after he dint bag it this time too.. and Scorsese remains in the dubious yet great list along with Hitchcock..

    Eastwood wins the director and Million Dollar Baby the best movie too!

    oscars... what about Scorsese?

    Though I am yet to see both Aviator and Million Dollar Baby, I am just wondering if Scorsese will win the award this time..

    Only four categories yet to be announced..

    best actor - i am not predicting (haven't seen any as well)
    best actress - ditto
    best director - should be Scorsese or Eastwood
    best Orig Screenplay - who else but Charlie Kauffman (again without seeing the movie :( hunting for eternal sunshine nowadays....)

    Little Terrorist dint win in the short film category... :(((((

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    coming soon!

    A Review on (I would rather call it an ode to!) "Hey! Ram"....

    I don't know why I just love this movie and get peeved when I read something harsh on it. May be, I know the reason. But, I do not admit that as the reason. I confess. I am a fan of Kamal Haasan. But, however much, i detach myself from the fanhood, still this movie definitely captures my admiration every time I try to analyse it.
    critics panned it. self-indulgence, they said. Ravi Vasudevan found it aligned with the Hindu Right's unleashing of certain public discourses and as Kamal's (failed?) attempt at the identification with the broader Indian nation-state.
    Yet to catch hold of what Khalid Mohammed and likes had to say about it. Precious little information available on the net analysing this film such as this by Rehan Ansari (writes in chowk and mid-day too) and an absolutely wonderful analysis by Philip Lutgendorf whose mention I would save for the review.

    My ode will follow..

    i just don't know....

    i just don't know the concept of RSS feed etc...

    anybody who knows can clarify it to me..
    (who will read this blog is a good question!).

    reviews are yet to come..
    i ll make it "a-post-a-day" soon!

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    To myself!

    This post is for myself.
    I vow I will post at least once in a week.
    The post will, of course, be a review on any (and that means ANY!) movie(s).

    So, lets see! If I am keeping up this promise....