Ms Representation: The grey shades of love

Valentine’s Day is just over, and love is still in the air. For Tamil cinema, that means bringing back the romance on-screen. And this is one genre that cannot exist without its women. As a female Tamil actor recently observed, women do not get meaty roles unless it is a romcom or a romantic drama. It might be a reflection of the limited roles and spaces we want to see women in, especially on-screen; nevertheless, the genre is crucial when speaking about women’s portrayal. Sure, it has its pitfalls. But, this genre has given us some terrific women characters and has done so more consistently than others. That said, as with every genre, romance also has its share of stereotypes. Kutty Story — the love anthology from Gautham Vasudev Menon, Nalan Kumarasamy, Venkat Prabhu, and Vijay — attempts to break a few of these.

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Aadai DoP Vijay Kartik Kannan: Cinematography is like a sine wave

Aadai might have opened the Pandora’s box of debates but it received unanimous appreciation for its top-notch cinematography that embodied the ‘dignified gaze’. In an industry notorious for objectification, this film is unique in how it showed a woman’s nudity in a respectful light. Ask Vijay Kartik Kannan, the cinematographer, and he says with an honest smile that it was a team effort. Here, he talks about Aadai, his third film after Sindhubaadh and Iravakaalam, about the need to maintain rapport with the director and how big a part budget plays in cinematography…

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Aadai Movie Review: A rebel without a cause

Aadai begins by narrating the story of Nangeli — a woman from an oppressed community who protested against Breast Tax, a sickening practice of asking women from the oppressed communities to pay if they wanted to cover their breasts. In a brief animated sequence, Aadai shows Nangeli’s rebellion and about how she cut off her breasts in protest and eventually died fighting against the practice. The sequence ends by saying that all the rights we enjoy have a blood-stained history. One would think, with a title like Aadai and such an empathic start that the film would address the intricate, layered politics behind clothing. We could not be more wrong.

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Ratsasan Review: Technically admirable but emotionally distant

If I had to pick two fascinating things about Ratsasan, it had to be the film’s editing and the sound design. Ratsasan’s nifty cuts and sound cement the ‘effect first, cause later’ strategy that the cameras and screenplay adopt. One might say that this is the usual modus operandi for a thriller. Well, it isn’t just about the turns that the story takes but also about how they are revealed. In one particular sequence, a suspect holds a police officer at gunpoint in an attempt to escape. As he backs into a lift, we hear a shot and the lift opens to reveal both men on the ground. The suspense lingers a second longer before we get our answer. And Ramkumar’s answers are effectively simple for the part. Take a chase sequence where Kaali Venkat, a cop, is in close pursuit of the killer; the former is on a bike while the latter is in a van. How does one lose the trailing cop? Ramkumar comes up with another ingenious solution – stop the van abruptly. Continue reading “Ratsasan Review: Technically admirable but emotionally distant”

Bhaskar Oru Rascal movie review: This Arvind Swami film lacks focus and depth

During a press meet in the run-up to Bhaskar Oru Rascal’s release, Arvind Swami said something intriguing. A journalist had asked him about his choice of roles and Arvind said that he likes doing what makes him feel like a fish out of water. I was reminded of what he said while watching Bhaskar Oru Rascal as this is a version of Arvind we are seeing after quite some time on screen. I was born in 1995 and Arvind took a break from acting in 2000. The films that I have managed to see, and revisit, had him as the urbane, young, ridiculously handsome man. So, you can imagine the image that comes to my mind when I hear his name. Maybe this was the image Arvind wanted to break with Bhaskar Oru Rascal. As the title suggests, Bhaskar is nothing like the Arvind that I was used to seeing. Bhaskar doesn’t have manners. He is rude, loud and has a temper that shoots up at the drop of a hat. Continue reading “Bhaskar Oru Rascal movie review: This Arvind Swami film lacks focus and depth”

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