Vada Chennai music review: Santhosh Narayanan captures the vibrant charm of North Chennai

It isn’t every day that we come across an album with ten tracks. But when the music is intriguing as Santhosh Narayanan’s, we have no complaints. His music for Vada Chennai can be split into two parts — one, with the gaana-infused folk numbers and the other, with the melodies that might as well be trademarked in his name. With the first part, Santhosh captures the cultural exuberance of North Chennai. However, he balances this with the other part, melodies that consist of an eclectic mosaic of sounds that we have come to expect of him. Put the two together and you get a holistic picture, not just of the film, but of the composer himself. Continue reading “Vada Chennai music review: Santhosh Narayanan captures the vibrant charm of North Chennai”

Fifty shades of khaki

Moondru Mugam, Kaaki Sattai, Vettaiyadu Vilayadu, Pokkiri, Mankatha, Saamy, Kaakha Kaakha, Singham, Siruthai, Thani Oruvan… You can see where I’m going with this. They are all cop films, yes. They are all blockbusters, yes. Most interestingly, they are all films that boosted star appeal. It’s probably why several of our stars don the khaki with as much eagerness. Vijay did it again with Theri, Ajith with Yennai Arindhal, and this week, Vikram is now putting it to test with Saamy Square. What is it about the force that so fascinates our heroes? Is it the legitimacy the force provides to their actions? Is it perhaps the saviour, do-gooder image? Or is it just plain old commercial success? Continue reading “Fifty shades of khaki”

Tamil film personalities laud the 377 verdict

In a legendary verdict on Thursday, the Supreme Court scrapped Section 377 and decriminalised same-sex relationships between consenting adults. Tamil cinema’s tryst with the LGBTQ+ community has largely been problematic with several films choosing to portray queer characters in a caricaturish light. But a few fair representations have cropped up in recent times, earning praise for their sensitive treatment.



Ashwinjith, who played the lead in the film My son is gay, says that the verdict was long-pending. “This should have come long back. I personally feel very happy about the judgement, and as a country, we are moving forward in a very positive direction. Kudos to the activists and to all those who stood by the LGBT community and made this possible.”

America Mapillai, an original web-series for Zee 5, centres around the  coming-out-of-the-closet journey of its lead. Raja Ramamurthy, the creator, and writer of the web-series says that he used the series as a platform to throw some light on the stigma one faces when they are honest about their sexual orientation. Talking about the judgement, he says, “By repealing the archaic law, the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement upholds the fundamental freedom of the individual. This is not only a victory for the LGBTQ community but a huge step towards progress for us as a society.”

Filmmaker and activist Malini Jeevarathinam, whose Ladies and Gentlewomen focuses on lesbian relationships, says that the judgement will go a long way in minimising suicidal thoughts among the community. She further adds that it will be critical in sensitising the industry about the LGBTQ+ community. “Women have been subjected to great discrimination within cinema and media, even more so when it comes to women from the community. This will definitely help in sensitising people within cinema itself.” She believes this will ease the inhibitions of actors when it comes to portraying characters that belong to the community. “When I was filming Ladies and Gentlewoman, there were several rejections from artistes, technicians and even the victims who we were talking to. But now to see so many actors celebrate the verdict is heartening, and I hope artistes will agree to such roles in the future.”

Roju, director of the web series Kallachirippu, says that he included the sub-plot around homosexuality to break the “perfect society” image. He adds that the judiciary has earned his respect with this verdict. “This judgement is special not just for making the right call, but also for how it has done it. The sensitivity with which it has been worded is what needs to be spoken about the most. I hope it goes into all the political science textbooks across all education boards to make sensitive, global citizens out of our children and youth.”

He further adds that we can only qualify ourselves as an inclusive society if films that unapologetically deal with issues faced by the community are acknowledged and accepted. “I remember watching ‘120 beats per minute’ at the Goa film festival last year, after having completed the post-production of Kallachirippu. Immediately after the film, I felt there was so much more to be said that I wished I had. Now, I’m motivated to do more if and when I get the chance to explore the topic in the future.”

This was originally written for The New Indian Express. You can find it here.

Happy Birthday Dhanush: The unexpected, unconventional hero

There is a conversation that I had with a couple of friends in Mumbai that stayed with me. We were discussing cinema and this was a period after Ranjhanaa and Shamitabh. Bollywood had recognised and acknowledged the powerhouse of talent that Dhanush was. But on the ground, there was still reluctance to accept him as a ‘hero’; he doesn’t fit the ‘conventional template’ of one. It is like how there is a joke made on the lead in the web series Little Things, about the hero being a Dhanush. I remember feeling something close to pride about Kollywood and thanked the stars that we were different. If otherwise, we wouldn’t have found a terrific talent like Dhanush. Continue reading “Happy Birthday Dhanush: The unexpected, unconventional hero”

Happy birthday Vijay: From Ilayathalapathy Vijay to Thalapathy Joseph Vijay

Vijay’s first film as a lead was his father SA Chandrasekhar’s 1992 directorial Naalaiya Theerpu. In a sweet note, SAC (as he is popularly known) introduces his son as the hero. “I leave the future of my son Vijay in your (the audience) hands. You all have showered myself and Shoba with love. We hope that our son gets the same love and warm welcome as well.” It is quite fun to read this in 2018 when Vijay is one of the biggest stars Kollywood has produced. The announcement of when the first look poster of his upcoming film would be unveiled had set social media on fire. So you can imagine, the response his 62nd film Sarkar would receive. I don’t think even SAC would have predicted the degree of love that Vijay is showered with now. Continue reading “Happy birthday Vijay: From Ilayathalapathy Vijay to Thalapathy Joseph Vijay”

The timelessness of Subramaniyapuram

There are different types of films that stand the test of time. It could either tell us about the era it released — the themes that get made into films, the cinematic language of that period. Take Balachander’s body of work, for example. The veteran filmmaker’s films socio-economic themes reinforce how different ‘mainstream’ was back in the 1970s and 80s. Or they were made ‘ahead of their time’ when the sensibilities of the dominant audience were different. These films find acclaim much after its theatrical run. A film is also remembered for the nostalgic value it holds or by its time-encompassing relevance. And Subramaniyapuram, which released ten years ago on this day, is a rare film that scores high on all counts. Continue reading “The timelessness of Subramaniyapuram”

Happy birthday Mani Ratnam: Re-visiting the ace filmmaker’s love for experimentation and the madness of Thiruda Thiruda

When I decided I was going to revisit a Mani Ratnam film and write about it, I was sure I didn’t want to go for the usual suspects. That immediately took Nayagan, Mouna Ragam, Thalapathy, Iruvar, Bombay, Roja, Agni Natchathiram and all the films that easily crop-up in a conversation about Mani Ratnam off my list. The idea was to pick a film that wasn’t celebrated as much and recalibrate my perception of Mani Ratnam’s body of work. So when a cinephile friend suggested Thiruda Thiruda, I was sold. Continue reading “Happy birthday Mani Ratnam: Re-visiting the ace filmmaker’s love for experimentation and the madness of Thiruda Thiruda”

How Keerthy Suresh became the Mahanati Savitri no one expected her to be

The first time I watched Keerthy Suresh on the big screen was two years back in Sivakarthikeyan’s Rajini Murugan. Rajini Murugan could have been named Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam part 2 for all the spillover it had from the latter, but the film was a box office hit. Keerthy Suresh, a film old in Kollywood then, struck gold with Rajini Murugan. Overnight, she had several big projects in the pipeline. I remember my social media timelines were flooded with appreciative memes about the young actor. Her role wasn’t remarkable, but she was fresh. We finally had someone who knew the language and was confident about dubbing for herself but that was about it. Continue reading “How Keerthy Suresh became the Mahanati Savitri no one expected her to be”

Happy birthday Vikram: A star with an unwavering spirit and determination

If there is a story that deserves an on-screen adaptation, it must be Kenny’s journey to becoming Chiyaan Vikram. It is not new information that Vikram’s biggest break Sethu happened a solid ten years after he entered the industry or that he suffered a serious accident that could have nearly cost him his leg, well before he stepped into tinsel town. But his biopic would be not about these incidents but rather about how he handled them. The movie would showcase his indomitable spirit, impregnable optimism and of course, the insane sacrifices he makes for his characters. Continue reading “Happy birthday Vikram: A star with an unwavering spirit and determination”

From Pizza to Mercury: The several faces of Karthik Subbaraj

“You have an unusual talent for cinema” says director Prathap Pothen looking at a younger Karthik Subbaraj — this was the before the finals of the reality show for short-filmmakers, Nalaya Iyakunar. One of the judges critiquing Karthik’s work for the show, Prathap was backed by the other judge – cartoonist, film critic and writer Madhan. “Very confident and consistent,” he calls Karthik. Better words couldn’t have been used to describe Karthik — for he is consistent with interesting films and confident enough to make them without many compromises. Continue reading “From Pizza to Mercury: The several faces of Karthik Subbaraj”

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