Vada Chennai, 96, Badhaai Ho and A Star is Born — Are clichés always bad?

Arguably the most common accusation a film gets from everyone who consumes cinema, clichés are considered to be an abomination in films. However, as Khaled Hosseini puts it in his book Kite Runner, clichés are also ‘dead-on’. Talking about avoiding clichés in creative writing, he writes, “the aptness of the clichéd saying is overshadowed by the nature of the saying as a cliché.” In fact, to prove his point, he goes on to use a few cliched phrases in the next few lines with brimming charm. Continue reading “Vada Chennai, 96, Badhaai Ho and A Star is Born — Are clichés always bad?”

Aaranya Kaandam was a failure for me: Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Thiagaraja Kumararaja’s Aaranya Kaandam (2010) was a game changer in many ways. Touted to be the first neo-noir Tamil film, the film was critically acclaimed and made headlines for its run-in with the censor board. It also fetched a National Award for Kumararaja, who is now set to make a comeback with his second film, Super Deluxe.

Excerpts from a conversation: Continue reading “Aaranya Kaandam was a failure for me: Thiagarajan Kumararaja”

Vijay Sethupathi suggested that I direct 96: Prem Kumar

Marooned by the 2015 floods, Prem Kumar just had with him one notebook to ideate and write the script of 96. He had missed his school reunion due to work, but the stories he heard from the meet gave him an idea for a script. The rains had just started as he began to sketch his story and soon, it was chaos. “I couldn’t have got myself more paper, had I needed it. There was no power, and once the candles ran out, I used my mom’s kuthuvilaku for light,” he says. He could only write at night, as the mornings were devoted to fetching basic supplies. “And it turned out to be a story that unfolds in one night,” adds Prem with a smile. Continue reading “Vijay Sethupathi suggested that I direct 96: Prem Kumar”

Imaikkaa Nodigal actor Raashi Khanna: I don’t want to be defined

When Raashi Khanna was called to audition for her debut film Madras Cafe, she ran away from it. “I was too scared. I wondered why they would choose me as I didn’t know much about cinema. It came to a point where the casting director had to directly call me and persuade me with a separate slot, in case I was too shy,” recalls Raashi. She did give the audition and a week later, the young actor got a call saying that she had bagged the role. “I don’t know how, maybe I just had it in me. When I saw myself for the first time and saw how people laugh or cry for my character, I realised that this is the best profession to be in. One has to be honest to the character.” Continue reading “Imaikkaa Nodigal actor Raashi Khanna: I don’t want to be defined”

Imaikka Nodigal review: Some intelligent writing burdened by commercial compromises

This week’s big release, Imaikka Nodigal has a lot of interesting things to offer. First off, it has Anurag Kashyap, complete with his magnetic screen presence. The Bollywood ace director is making his acting debut in Kollywood with Imaikka Nodigal and boy, he seems to have had fun. Anurag’s large, dramatic eyes do the trick as he delivers the right amount of exaggeration in his body language. Just when you think it is all about the raised eyebrows, the character takes a different dimension. The dubbing, while impressive, sounds a tad inorganic when you watch the film in length. Magizh Thirumeni’s slow, deep drawl sounds impressive in isolation but doesn’t really synergise with Anurag’s sense of muted drama. Continue reading “Imaikka Nodigal review: Some intelligent writing burdened by commercial compromises”

Jaanu from Premkumar-Vijay Sethupathi-Trisha’s 96

I finally watched #96 and I am not going to talk about the exquisite mood piece that it is, beautifully performed with enchanting music and cinematography. Rather, I want to talk about how Jaanu behaves; how her behaviour is a reflection of how we deal with bittersweet memories from the yore.

Sometime back, I read a short story where the author had described memories taking form of boxes that are safely lodged outside the shelves of our brains. Situations serve us a box, covered in fine dust, from time to time; least when we expect it.

What do we do then? We dust it off, open the box and relive the moments. Remember the warm moment and bask in the mellow glow of nostalgia. Follow the waves of emotion that tease us, push us back and pull us forward, and leaves us at the shore of ‘what-ifs’. What if things had ended differently, where would I be now? Whom would I be with? The indulgence begins. At some point, we are forced back to reality, where we draw parallels to reassure our bruised souls. ‘I haven’t ended up in a very bad situation now, have I?’; ‘I’m still doing okay.’ When these boxes get too close for comfort, you shut it out. Close your eyes and leave, before you get pulled in beyond the point of sanity. Over the time, the box gets additions — newer information. We tuck them away again until something else, or someone else brings it out and hands it to us.

Jaanu for me was a personification of a memory that one can never forget. Her entry is, similarly, unexpected. She sweeps Ram back into the past, placing him in the corridors of their memories. There’s reluctance, nostalgia, questioning, indulging in what-ifs, struggle with adieu and finally, addition of newer colours to the has-been.

Junga actor Sayyeshaa: I will only be part of films that are respectful

Actor Sayyeshaa is on a roll. After setting the screens on fire in her debut film, the pretty young actress is now part of two big projects: Junga with Vijay Sethupathi and an untitled film with Karthi. Also recently, the Vanamagan girl has signed a film with Arya in the lead that has been interestingly titled as Gajinikanth. Excerpts from an exclusive chat with the actor. Continue reading “Junga actor Sayyeshaa: I will only be part of films that are respectful”

Junga movie review: A gangster satire that digresses more than it entertains

Junga starts on a confident note. The eponymous hero played by Vijay Sethupathi is all set to be killed in a police encoutner. On the way, Junga tries to set the policemen against each other, making easy conversation. The intrigued policemen wonder how he is nonchalant about his impending death and ask him his story. What more of a cue does Junga need to plunge into a flashback? Thus, begins the story of Junga, the stingy don. Continue reading “Junga movie review: A gangster satire that digresses more than it entertains”

Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren movie review: The Vijay Sethupathi starrer is an erratic, overstretched film

‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain’. That’s the quote my mind came up with for the humour in Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren. Our introduction to the place of action, Yemasingapuram, is narrowed down from the multiverse. Andromeda, Milkyway, Sun, Earth, Asia, India, Andhra Pradesh, the district and finally, the village Yemasingapuram. The idea might have been to show how miniscule the village is. But by the end of the movie you feel that is probably the director setting you up for how the rest of the film is going to be — we are taken on a wild hunt where the jokes are hidden underneath a lot of noise. Thanks to a completely unpardonable run time of almost two and a half hours, what starts as funny ends up leaving us exasperated. Continue reading “Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren movie review: The Vijay Sethupathi starrer is an erratic, overstretched film”

Karuppan movie review: Characterisation and performances save this Vijay Sethupathi film

As a story, Karuppan has nothing new to offer. The core storyline, at least the starting point, easily belongs to the 80-90s. The eponymous hero Karuppan (Vijay Sethupathi) is a Jallikattu enthusiast. In one of the Jallikattu contests, Maayi (Pasupathy) agrees to marry his sister Anbu (Tanya Ravichandran) to Karuppan if he manages to tame his ferocious bull. But director Panneer Selvam’s characters are well-etched and with some good performances, it makes Karuppan a good watch. Anbu and Karuppan end up married, to the annoyance of Kathir (Bobby Simhaa). The family drama that ensues forms the crux of Karuppan. Continue reading “Karuppan movie review: Characterisation and performances save this Vijay Sethupathi film”

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