When Krishnakumar was in Class 6, he watched a play that fetched one of the actors a standing ovation. That kindled acting interest in his young mind. More than a decade later now, a film in which he has acted, Soorarai Pottru, has fetched him similar appreciation—so much so that he is now referred to as ‘Che’, the name of his character from SP. He is full of praise for director Sudha Kongara. “Every period has a filmmaker, who changes how the industry looks at cinema. Sudha Kongara is that person.” He says he knew the film would reach people the way it has. “The team is amazing,” he says, and adds that he considers all the love that has come his way to be a gift. “I was very surprised and am truly grateful.”
There’s a story about a baby elephant being chained. Introduced to the chain even before it can walk, the young elephant thinks it can only move as far as the chain allows. It gets so accustomed to this, that it refuses to go out of those boundaries, even when there is no chain. It is a good analogy of how conditioning works, how patriarchy works. But, with each generation, we become more confident to push forward, closer to equality. This is visible a lot in mother-daughter relationships. Most mothers don’t want their daughters to face the struggles they had. And daughters, after they grow up, become the strongest supporters of their mothers’ desires and push them to go for it. This understanding comes from having a common enemy, and a shared battle. This is the premise of the short film B Selvi and Daughters, starring Kalaivani and Gayathrie Shankar.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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…