Autism in Cinema: Are Indian films getting it right?

When it comes to Autism on the silver screen, the 1988 Hollywood film Rain Man created a watershed moment. The highest grossing film of that year, Rain Man was unanimously celebrated for its autistic lead character, played by Dustin Hoffman, who exhibited what later became the earliest reference point for ‘savant skills’. The term refers to the extraordinary skills that a person on the autism spectrum sometimes portrays — think Thomas Alva Edison, Sir Isaac Newton or Alfred Hitchcock. Continue reading “Autism in Cinema: Are Indian films getting it right?”

This rare book store in Chennai is a paradise for the bookworms and cinephiles

Would you believe me if I say there is a connection between Alfred Hitchcock, SrideviRajinikanthKamal Haasan, Sashi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Nutan, Padmini and that it is hidden away in plain sight in one of Chennai’s busy lanes? Well, there is. The tad bizarre assortment of stars, amid multitudes of others, are all part of the massive collection of books and articles with 82-year-old Govindaraju. With a 50-year assortment, stars and cinema are just a humble part of this octogenarian’s wares. If you’re a bibliophile, cinephile or just an anachronistic soul, Govindaraju’s stories and his collections are a source of delight that you wouldn’t want to miss. Continue reading “This rare book store in Chennai is a paradise for the bookworms and cinephiles”

TFPC strike explained: Why Tamil film producers are refusing to back down

In a worrying phase, the Tamil film industry is moving towards a standstill. A complete shutdown has been announced by the Producers Council whereas the theatres have announced a different strike. What is the fight and why is the producer council refusing to back down? From the four industries why has the fight trickled down to the Tamil industry? What significance does the theatre owners’ strike have? In conversation with the producer, distributor, national award-winning writer and author of The Art and Business of Cinema (ABC), G Dhananjayan breaks down the different narratives of the story. Continue reading “TFPC strike explained: Why Tamil film producers are refusing to back down”

TFPC Strike Explained | We haven’t increased our prices in ten years: Digital Service Providers

In a strike of huge proportions, the Tamil Film Producers Council have announced a complete shutdown where production and post-production work has been stalled completely. The TFPC has rejected a new offer from the Digital Service Providers, going ahead with the strike from March 16. The shutdown comes at a point where there hasn’t been any new releases for two weeks. In an earlier report, we had reported the side of the Producers charting out their reasons behind the strike. In this piece, we speak to Jayendra Panchapakesan, co-founder, Qube Cinemas to get Digital Service Providers’ side of the story. Continue reading “TFPC Strike Explained | We haven’t increased our prices in ten years: Digital Service Providers”

How did women-centric films go from being a norm to an exception?

The years 2016 and 2017 were considered to be a harbinger of change for women in Tamil cinema. Words such as feminism and women-centric were increasingly thrown in the mix with cinema. Our heroines don’t have a ‘shelf life’ anymore; they don’t have to stop working when they get married or don’t have to be there just for the glamour quotient. Off-screen, we see more women enter production, direction, cinematography and several other fields. The fact that cinema can revolve around women seems new to many — a pleasant surprise. But has it been always been so? Continue reading “How did women-centric films go from being a norm to an exception?”

Are new-gen directors the answer to our Kollywood stars’ stereotype woes?

‘Pa Ranjith to direct Rajinikanth’s next’ — the headline was quite a surprise when it first came in 2015. They say failure feeds speculation and boy it did. After both Kochadaiyaan and Lingaa turned out to be disasters, Rajinikanth’s career became a topic at the dinner table. Is the Superstar losing his touch? What is he going to do next? It was at this time Rajini announced his next with Pa.Ranjith. A director with substantial political ideologies and craft, the combination was unusually exciting. While Kabali had disappointed, one thing cannot be denied. Rajini had gotten an effective makeover — a one that is closer home. Many thought the project would be a one-off occurrence, but here they are again with Kaala. Ranjith has given yet another version of Rajini that is a whistle-worthy version of the star that is more age-appropriate. Continue reading “Are new-gen directors the answer to our Kollywood stars’ stereotype woes?”

This Valentine’s Day, let’s say ‘time’s up’ to these film stereotypes on love

There is a light breeze that gives the falling leaves a direction. A man is standing on the road, most probably leaning on a bike. It takes a few minutes, but he notices her. Her dupatta flies in his direction with precision. He pushes it away, sees her face and falls in love. Sounds similar? This is probably the ‘introduction scene’ most of our romantic films have. The dupatta might now and then become a saree, but the scene never changes. We have been fans of the same too. They might have made sense in the time these films came. Our films have evolved and so have we. Those tropes have had their time, we should give them a rest. Invoking the power of the Supreme Lord of humour to save me, here are five Tamil film stereotypes around love we need to put to rest. Continue reading “This Valentine’s Day, let’s say ‘time’s up’ to these film stereotypes on love”

Suriya body shamed: Where was all this outrage when our actresses were trolled for their looks?

In a recent show on a private music channel, two women anchors, who were having a discussion about Suriya’s next film with KV Anand, decided to make fun of the actor’s height on the show. As they talked about the prospect of Amitabh Bachchan making a cameo in the film, the anchors commented that Suriya might need a stool to match the veteran actor’s height. A video clip of the same has gone viral on Twitter leading the Twitterati to go up in arms, with several celebrities on the vanguard. Continue reading “Suriya body shamed: Where was all this outrage when our actresses were trolled for their looks?”

Happy birthday AR Rahman: The ‘Isai Puyal’ which still blows strong

The earliest usage of the nickname ‘Mozart of Madras’ I could find was in 2004 — a TIME magazine article titled the same. A rather short piece about AR Rahman’s Bombay Dreams that said ARR’s name stood in unison with “melody, quality, energy, instant hummability — a sound both personal and universal, devouring many older forms and transforming them into something gorgeously new.” The description of Rahman’s brand of music is perfect, except for the phrase ‘instant hummability’. In fact, there is a three-step penance to savouring the legend’s music; the phase of dissatisfactory shock (the what is this phase), the phase of the indulgent listener (I know I don’t like it but let me hit the play button one more time.) and then, epiphanic addiction (Why didn’t I like this before?). The penance has become so customary that we don’t instantly reject a song that has the AR Rahman tag. Take the 2.0 album for instance. The unanimous verdict was ‘Give it time, we will see it’. Continue reading “Happy birthday AR Rahman: The ‘Isai Puyal’ which still blows strong”

Rajinikanth turns 67: From being a ‘Sruthi Betham’ to becoming a Superstar

In Carnatic music, Sruthi Betham is when the singer misses pitch. Ironically, Rajinikanth’s first ever frame called him a Sruthi Betham. Pushing off a creaky gate, his entry into the glitzy, glamourous world of cinema wasn’t the brisk strut that is now immortal. He slowly walks inside and asks with a tinge of uncertainty, “Bhairavi veedu idhu dhane?” to Kamal Haasan. To Kollywood back then, everything that made Rajini who he is, was probably sruthi betham: his stylised gestures, the pace at which he spoke, his throaty laughter. As opposed to the more manicured Kamal Haasan, Rajini’s unconventional and raw style made him relevant to masses. And a new villain was born. Continue reading “Rajinikanth turns 67: From being a ‘Sruthi Betham’ to becoming a Superstar”

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