In his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, BR Ambedkar observed that India as a republic ‘would enter into a life of contradictions’. He believed that while we will be equals in politics (one man, one vote, one value) we will deny that equality in our economic and social life, thanks to the structures in place. Ambedkar strongly believed that as long as one doesn’t achieve social liberty, the freedom provided by the law is of no use to you. Several decades later, the words still hold extreme significance as we struggle to achieve that mandate. Suriya’s latest release, appropriately titled Jai Bhim, reflects the contradictions Ambedkar speaks of and the harrowing trauma that follows. The film sees Suriya play Advocate Chandru who fights a legal battle for Sengeni (Lijomol Jose), a tribal woman whose family is subjected to brutal custodial torture.
Udanpirappe is Jyothika’s 50th film. Her ‘second innings,’ as she calls it, has been dotted with stories that champion women. More specifically, her films speak of, and for the middle-aged woman, a demographic that is often left out on screen. Tamil cinema rarely engages with middle-aged women, beyond her identity as a wife or a mother. Jyotjika has spoken very candidly about the gender bias in the industry, and her films have been crucial in representing this space.’
However, Udanpirappe is not a female-centric narrative like her earlier films. The film revolves around the bond between Vairavan (Sasikumar) and his sister Mathangi (Jyotika). An ongoing feud between Mathangi’s husband (Samuthirakani) and Vairavan has led to a falling out. While family feuds are no stranger to Tamil cinema, Udanpirappe has an interesting clash of ideologies at the centre. While Vairavan believes in quick justice, even if it means turning vigilante and resorting to violence, his brother-in-law is a stickler for rules. The latter argues that violence will only add fuel to the fire, and can never be the solution. However, Vairavan argues that our snail-paced systems rarely get around to delivering justice. However, Udanpirappe does not explore these contrasting perspectives in detail. It is content to stick to the surface — happy to make an Anniyan out of Vairavan and an Ambi out of his brother-in-law.
Raman Aandalum Raavanan Aandalum is the opening phrase of the blockbuster Rajinikanth song from Mullum Malarum. The full verse is “Raman aandalum ravanan aandalum enaku oru kavalai ila” (Whether Rama rules or Ravana, I don’t care). In Mullum Malarum, the song is a boisterous proclamation of Kaali’s bravado and morality. In Arisil Moorthy’s Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum (RARA), it’s a plea from the common, impoverished man — no matter who rules us, our situations are not going to change. The stage for political commentary is set, but does the film use it well?
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.”
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.
Rakul Preet seems busy, as she answers my call. She is already back on the sets of the film she is shooting for next. Despite her tight schedule, she obliges, and begins talking about her year, and what a bustling year it has been. She has had two releases, Dev in Tamil and De De Pyaar De in Hindi; she also did a cameo in NTR Kathanayakudu in which she got the opportunity to play Sridevi. Interestingly, both of her films saw her play different versions of the modern, sophisticated young woman. “If you look at my character in De De Pyaar De, it is the sort I have never played before. She is fun, liberated, and with a naughty streak,” says Rakul. Dev, on the other hand, saw her play Meghna, a successful businesswoman who has trouble believing in relationships.
It has been twenty years since Selvaraghavan began writing. A filmmaker with a distinct visual and narrative style of his own, Selva is making a comeback of sorts with NGK, six years after his last film, Irandam Ulagam. The break may have bothered some, but Selva is a picture of serenity as he sits down for a conversation. “I try to take it one day at a time. If things don’t go my way, naan saaptu thoongiruven. Every dawn is significant, and I’m grateful that God has given me one more day to live,” he says, with a faint smile.
‘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?”
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?”
Time for an admission. I haven’t watched Special 26. But I don’t think Thaanaa Serndha Koottam and Special 26 are the same kind of films despite sharing the plot. So a fair warning as well — don’t walk in expecting a Special 26. With these disclaimers, I can say that Thaanaa Serndha Koottam does have it’s enjoyable moments but with a misplaced sense of righteousness that prevent it from the being the caper it could have been. Continue reading “Thaanaa Serndha Koottam movie review: The Suriya and Keerthy Suresh starrer is a fairly entertaining film”