Ms Representation: The honour that kills

Paava Kadhaigal (stories of sin in English) is quite the appropriate name for the new Netflix anthology, helmed by Sudha Kongara (Thangam), Vignesh Shivan (Love Panna Uttranum), Gautham Menon (Vaanmagal), and Vetri Maaran (Orr Iravu). In all of them, sin is at the centre, with the characters placing honour above love, family, and humanity. Another similarity here is that the victims are all women or those who identify as women. Honour and honour killings are usually associated with casteism, but I found Paava Kadhaigal to interpret honour in a different, more inclusive manner. It touches upon the complicated relationship women have with ‘honour’, and this goes beyond caste. The patriarchal society has saddled women with the responsibility of ‘honour’ for centuries, censoring their lives and choices. Ironically, Paavam is also an expression of sympathy in Tamil. There’s another layer then to this title, about stories that reflect the unfair universe that our women are bundled into.

Continue reading “Ms Representation: The honour that kills”

Lisaa Movie Review: Can we reboot horror, please?

On several occasions, I have wondered whether filmmakers sit and ponder on how to say the same thing in new ways. I know I do with my reviews. But then, it becomes unavoidable, especially when you write about a film almost every week, and when they become predictable to a fault. And if any genre deserves this accusation, it has to be horror. Our films rarely break away from the template -— in fact, our horror films are so trite even when blindfolded, you can guess when the ghost comes. And Lisaa falls prey to the same.

Continue reading “Lisaa Movie Review: Can we reboot horror, please?”

Peranbu has made me a better person: Sadhana

Sadhana is what we can call the accidental actor. Spotted by Ram, the young actor played an important role in his second film Thanga Meenkal, that rechristened her as Chellamma to the Tamil audiences. Little did she expect that she would get a National award for her performance. After all, nobody had expected her to act in the first place. “My family has always been ardent supporters of art but they never expected that someone from the family would act in films. My mother just asked me to give it a shot and see if I am able to do it.” The reception, Ram’s confidence and of course, all were a surreal surprise. “On one hand, we were all so elated, and on the other hand I wasn’t even sure if I deserved it,” she says unassumingly. The talented actor is now back with Ram’s upcoming film Peranbu, where she shares the screen with Mammootty and also takes on the challenge of playing an adolescent girl affected by cerebral palsy. Continue reading “Peranbu has made me a better person: Sadhana”

Peranbu movie review: A poignant memoir of love, life and everything in between

How often do we use the word Peranbu in our daily lives? Anbu, maybe. But Peranbu? Not really. It is one of those charming Tamil words that sounds deceptively simple. But Ram couldn’t have found a better name for his film which is an intense, explorative film on love, all kinds of it. The desire to be loved and socially accepted and the film’s characters are no different. Beginning with Paapa (a phenomenal Sadhana), the child who suffers from cerebral palsy. ‘People who see Paapa feel sympathetic and therefore pamper her, but she doesn’t realise that they don’t stay’ — Ram’s lines are poignantly insightful. Paapa craves for love that doesn’t leave; that sees her for who she is. Amudhavan (a resplendent Mammootty) is also looking for love — one that cares for him and shares his responsibilities. (Don’t caretakers need to be cared for as well?) However, it is not just about their search, but also the decisions that this love pushes them to take. Thangam, Amudhavan’s ex-wife, decides to leave her daughter in her search for love that respects and acknowledges her. In fact, Peranbu is a collation of a few such people’s expeditions for love and also the turns that their love powers them to take. Continue reading “Peranbu movie review: A poignant memoir of love, life and everything in between”

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?”

More than screen time, the impact my character creates is important: Balloon actor Janani Iyer

While Avan Ivan might have been Janani Iyer’s big break, several people would remember the doe-eyed-beauty (one of the times where the adjective perfectly suits the interviewee) as the ‘Thegidi’ girl. However, it wouldn’t be fair to call her the same anymore as Janani has two releases in a matter of few weeks. Balloon has already hit the screens and it is also the movie that gave Janani her first tryst with stunt ropes. “It wasn’t a big thing but it was a vital scene in the movie. I am not used to the ropes. So physically it was very taxing,” says Janani. Also, the weather condition didn’t help. “We were shooting at 3-4 am in the morning in Kodaikanal and Ooty. It required quite a number of takes. Now I am kind of used to it,” admits Janani. Prepared enough for more? “If it is important for the film then why not,” she remarks. Continue reading “More than screen time, the impact my character creates is important: Balloon actor Janani Iyer”

Kaali movie review: This Vijay Antony film is a shallow tale about estranged love

As a child, several of Kollywood’s motifs used to puzzle me. For example, how do fathers and sons look identical in films except for a dash of grey in the former? (A trend heavily popularised by Shivaji Ganesan and Supreme Star Sarathkumar.) In this week’s release Kaali, Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi gives an interesting take on why this happens. Vijay Antony (Bharat) is an NRI doctor who comes to India in search of his biological parents. In the journey, he listens to the stories of men who could be his prospective fathers. The first time the film gets into the flashback mode, we see a younger Madhusudhanan Rao (who is narrating the story). “Indha face a student a imagine panni kuda paka mudila,” says Yogi Babu and then we see Vijay Antony assume the role in the flashback. I realised that Vijay Antony’s several looks are a choice of convenience and of course, with some creative relevance as well. Continue reading “Kaali movie review: This Vijay Antony film is a shallow tale about estranged love”

Balloon movie review: This Jai and Anjali starrer is a mosaic of horror moments from yore

To be fair, the opening credits of Balloon does start with a list of movies the film is ‘inspired’ from. But I felt a faint trace of involuntary outrage as a scene from ‘It’ is almost recreated and this is even before the name of the film appears. It felt like a warning — a signal to lower our expectations as the movie progresses. Balloon’s story or scares aren’t novel but the laughs are. The humour and the one-liners are the saving grace in this film that is a predictable mish-mash of some memorable horror moments from the past. Continue reading “Balloon movie review: This Jai and Anjali starrer is a mosaic of horror moments from yore”

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