Stories of women, from women

Why are women-centric films thought to be ‘offbeat’? Why does having a female director/technician/producer always become an extra-talking point? Women directors and producers have been in existence since 1930s, but what about the status quo still makes it so novel? Netflix has become an interesting player in this space, in looking to level the gender field. More than 50 percent of its Indian original films have had female protagonists (Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, Bulbbul, Guilty, Chopsticks, Soni, Lust Stories, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl), and have been backed by several women filmmakers and technicians, debutantes and seasoned. What about the digital space makes it conducive for women?

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Ms. Representation: The woman with a voice

I have been thinking a lot about Bommi, since catching Soorarai Pottru on Amazon Prime Video. To be honest, we all have. There’s a lot to appreciate in the final, sure. But the lead woman, Bommi, takes the cake, quite literally. Intelligent and feisty, Bommi aka Sundari is probably one of the best heroines we have seen recently in the Tamil mainstream. It feels heartening to see such a character get as much love. If nothing else, it is a sign that people do appreciate representation that is closer to the truth. There are no more excuses really. (We have never had an acceptable rationale anyway.) A woman of strength and sense can exist anywhere with dignity if we let her. And now, we have another example to show for it.

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Sir Movie Review: Tillotama Shome shines in a poignant film about dreams

They say love is blind. Colour, caste, creed, class… nothing is supposed to matter in the sanctum of love. But how often do we think this way? Even those of us who want to badly believe in the noble notion, still fall prey to biases rooted in stereotypes. Rathna (Tillotama Shome) works as a live-in help at Ashwin’s (Vivek Gomber) house in Mumbai. A widow from the villages, this job is her ticket to her dreams. On the other hand, there is the morose Ashwin carrying the guilt of a broken engagement and lost dreams. And in that safe space of a house, they both nudge each other closer to their dreams, finding an unexpected companion.

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Mookuthi Amman Movie Review: Nayanthara blesses this fairly enjoyable RJ Balaji comedy

As an ardent KTV fan, Amman films hold a lot of personal nostalgic value for me. As a child, I remember those afternoons spent watching the glorious Amman step down from the heavens to save the struggling heroine from the villain. Growing up, my equation with faith transformed, but there still seems to be something comforting about Amman films. It is the ultimate escapist entertainment, right? The world is black and white here, and you know there’s a saviour. Thus, when RJ Balaji announced Mookuthi Amman, I was quite excited. But the big question is, can you sell all those tropes without the cushion of nostalgia?

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Soorarai Pottru movie review: Suriya and Sudha Kongara steer a winning flight

There is a famous quote that time is priceless. But in our world, time is frequently bought. For example, for a regular person, a trip to Mumbai takes roughly a day by train. But for the wealthy, it takes less than two hours. Why is the time of a wealthy person inherently more valuable? Who decides that the time of the not-so-rich isn’t worthy enough? These are the questions behind Nedumaaran Rajangam’s dream of creating a low-cost airline. “Vaanam enna unga appan veetu soththa,” asks Maara furiously. The idea is to make the skies accessible, for anyone who dreams to fly

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The Queen’s Gambit review: A winning game

How do you make chess interesting for the outsider? The sport (or game, depending on which side of the debate you are) often bears a misconstrued image of being ‘boring’, given that it is played in silence, devoid of evident excitement, with even spectators maintaining a stoic quiet. It is just two people, bent over a board of 64 squares staring intently at a bunch of oddly shaped pieces. Naturally, I was curious to see how The Queen’s Gambit has captured the abundant drama that chess embodies. And boy, does it get it right.

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Velmurugan: I was exploited for my singing in Bigg Boss

Singer Velmurugan is well-known for his enthusiastic singing and his peppy folk numbers like Oththa Sollaala (Aadukalam) and Venaam Machaan (Oru Kal Oru Kannadi). His vocal range and throw needed no microphone to get amplified. And yet, though the singer could often be seen singing in the show, he was barely seen talking to the other contestants in the Bigg Boss Tamil 4 house. Branded as a meek contestant, Velmurugan got evicted last Sunday. Here, he speaks about what life was like for him inside the guarded sets of the Bigg Boss house.

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Anoushka Shankar: Mira Nair wanted music with a strong Indian sound but also a global sensibility

Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, which recently began streaming on Netflix, owes its diverse soundscape to three renowned musicians: singer-composer Kavita Seth, who composed and sang the ghazals, and acted as Saeeda Bai’s voice; the sitarist-composer Anoushka Shankar and Alex Heffes duo, who collaborated to create the ethnic soundscape of the newly free India in the 1950s. In this interview, they shed light on their process, working with acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair and the logistical challenges of making music remotely…

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Addham producers: Being a producer is more a matter of taste than funding

A 17-year friendship is behind SNDS Dreamcatchers LLP, the production company that put together Aha’s Addham, which recently opened to positive reviews. The producer duo, Sujatha Narayanan and Devasena ES, first met when working for an FM radio station in Chennai. “Later, I used to help Sujatha in her production projects. So, this was always on the cards and she insisted that I be part of it,” says Devasena.

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Ms. Representation: Return to Manderley

Last night, I visited Manderley again… because Netflix decided to remake the classic, Rebecca. The story originally written by Daphne du Maurier is one of a young woman dazzled by a rich, broody widower, Maxim De Winter, she meets in Monte Carlo. She rushes into a marriage with him only to realise that he is still living in the past, haunted by the memory of ex-wife Rebecca. My first experience with Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar-winning 1940 film adaptation of the same name. Swooped into Manderley, the new wife finds it hard to shake off the evocative presence of Rebecca; she struggles to bear the weight of Rebecca’s legacy which lives on, thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Danvers, the faithful housekeeper.

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