A Change Of Pace

In the history of Tamil cinema, there have been many memorable female characters. Although the proportion is too little, every now and then we are greeted with something that is for lack of a better word, nice. These films show that it is possible to have women in the film and use them for something other than titillation. In that vein, I would like to talk about a female character I really like. She is not someone who immediately comes to mind when we discuss the best roles written for women. She is not someone who fights against the evils of society, yet she is strong in her own way. I am talking about Ganga from Dumm Dumm Dumm. Played by Jyothika, she is one of Tamil cinema’s more underrated women.

dumdd

So, what makes her special? There are a few things that are impressive about her. First, it is her desire to do well in life and not just marry the first person her father chooses. It also helps that her father is so supportive of her; so that’s refreshing to see as well. Even when the marriage is stopped at the beginning of the film, she doesn’t break down – she continues her journey. You may ask what is so special about this given the fact that so many millions of women do this. I feel that this is precisely what makes her special. When we talk about strong women on screen, more often than not, we have an image of a woman fighting against society. Ganga is fighting as well, but it is at a different level. It is no surprise that such a character came from the mind of Mani Ratnam, who co-wrote the script. To conclude, the character of Ganga is not revolutionary but her relatability is what makes her great. And a special mention has to be made for Jyothika who gives the character so much charm and depth, that we too end up falling in love with her.

Until next time, bye.

When Man Becomes Myth

THIS IS NOT A REVIEW

For many, the name Sanjay Dutt is associated with controversy and the excesses of the film industry. For some, he is someone who was wronged and is misunderstood by the public. Whatever your opinion may be of him, the fact is that Sanju is an amazing film, easily one of the best movies to come out this year. Making a film about such a sensationalized character is a tricky task but the script by Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi manages to show us the man behind the myth. Even if you know everything about the man, they manage to keep you engaged. I feel that is the film’s biggest achievement.

sanju1

It shows the human side of the character at each point in his life. The film is ready to show that Sanjay Dutt is someone who is flawed but by no means is he bad. But, if you have made up your mind before watching the film, there is nothing that is going to change your opinion. Some of you may even dispute the accuracy of the events shown in the film. Even if you put aside the man/myth the film is about, there is so much to admire. This includes the performances of Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala and especially Vicky Kaushal who continues to show why he’s one of India’s most underrated actors. A special mention must be given to the Director Of Photography Ravi Varman, who frames the bright and dark times of Sanju’s life with a painterly feel.sanju2

There are very few directors who make films the way Rajkumar Hirani does. His ability to combine good film making with a commercial sensibility is astonishing at times. Another trait of his films are the way in which sentiments and humor blend seamlessly and not one scene seems out of place. When I left the theater, I felt the same way I do after a great meal. I guess this is what happens when you get to see magic on screen. A big thank you to team Sanju for reaffirming the power of good cinema.

Until next time, bye.

What Is A Spoiler ?

The 2013 Malayalam film Mumbai Police is a fantastic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last moment. It has everything that a thriller should. A central mystery, great performances and enough twists and turns to keep you engaged. But to be honest, the experience for me was ruined a little bit because of one thing that I did. Before I saw the film, I opened the Wikipedia page of the film to see if it had done well. And though I skipped over the plot, my eye caught a piece of trivia that gave away quite a bit about the big twist. Now, knowing that there is a twist is bad enough but at least then, you can think of all the different ways in which it can happen. In this case, I had more than a hint about how the film would play out. So, to anyone who has not yet watched this fantastic film, please don’t go on Wikipedia before watching it. Save yourselves.

Until next time, bye.

The Beauty Of Paris

When I first saw Midnight In Paris, the one facet that amazed me the most was the cinematography. It was incredibly beautiful as it showed how Paris really is, magical.  The opening montage can be watched over and over as it beautifully shows the varied delights of Paris. It is easily one of the best Woody Allen films in the recent past. A lot of people have never really seen Owen Wilson in this kind of a role, but the fact is that not only does he make it work, he makes his character completely convincing.

mip3

The plot of the movie has elements of fantasy which makes it a little different from the usual romantic comedy. The movie succeeds with its wonderful sense of humour, characters that are so likable and a city that has a mystical persona. The performances are delightful, and Darius Khondji (Director Of Photography) manages to portray the different eras with ease. A particular highlight is the scene where Wilson’s character enters 1920 and meets the literary greats of the era. It is captured with innocence and a sense of playfulness that is alluring.

mip2

Essential to the flow of the film is Wilson’s mind. Is it real? Is it imaginary? The point is that Allen has left it for us to decide, which is a wonderful thing. It clearly shows how we like to romanticize the past. Would you like to be in a different era, the era you consider to be the ‘Golden Age’? Since I am familiar with the artists and the writers shown it was memorable for me to see those great people being brought to life. If you do not like that era you may not enjoy the film as much as I did. The ending left me feeling satisfied with the film. With this effort Allen has taken us on ride that is heartfelt and fun. Sometimes, that is all we want from a film.

Until next time, bye.

Love Blossoms

The Apartment has one of the most sweetest love stories that I have ever seen. A major reason for that are the performances of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It is genuinely heartening to see the way their love blossoms. From the beginning till the very end, there is a gradual progression. Nothing seems forced or hurried as the film is paced correctly. It is safe to say that the film’s reputation as one the greatest of all time, is well and truly deserved. There are many aspects of life that the film comments on but I feel that its most profound statement is on our need to be loved. Just the mere thought that someone likes or loves us, is enough to be cause for celebration. Today, I would like to talk about one scene in particular. It is when we see the two characters together in the office lift.

apartment

In this frame alone, we learn so much about these two people. The way they feel about life can be perceived from this one image alone. MacLaine’s Fran does not like the way life is treating her. And while Lemmon’s Bud feels the same way, he does not show it. His attitude towards life is much more upbeat than that of Fran. Even when things are not going his way, he does not lose his cool. This is a valuable trait for anyone to have. As for Fran, initially it looks like she is not doing what is right for her. But over the course of the film, we learn more about her and why she is the way she is. And through this, she earns the viewer’s empathy and sympathy. A lot of love stories do not work for me because I feel disconnected from what’s going on. This is not the case with The Apartment. And for that alone, I would recommend all of you to watch it irrespective of whether you like love stories.

Until next time, bye.

Ranjith vs. Rajni

Let me begin by saying that I liked Kaala but wasn’t captivated by it completely. It is always a tricky task to make a film with someone who has transcended stardom as an actor. The big question with Kaala is how it would have been received had Superstar not entered politics. In my opinion, the reception would surely have been much better. The film also asks a fundamental question regarding its director. Is this a Pa. Ranjith film or is it a Rajnikanth film ? The problem with making a film with such a huge star is that sometimes, it may not be possible to put forth what you want to say. And, we all know the ideology that Ranjith has and it is quite evident in this film compared to Kabali. In the earlier film, it was merely hinted at whereas here it forms the crux of the story. And it seems to be more of a Ranjith film in this case. Ideally, when a director and star combine, you should be getting the best of both worlds. But, something seemed to be missing.

kaala759

In my opinion, the duo and their sensibilities worked for the most part but I was left with one particular feeling. That would be the urge to see a film that is completely Ranjith or something that is out and out Rajnikanth. But therein lies a major problem with the audience and their expectations. As an actor, we have started to expect a certain a kind of film from the man himself. There are those who want him to experiment but when he does, do not seem to be appreciate it all that much. Whenever this happens, there is always talk of the vintage Rajni and how he’s missing. Perhaps it is a case of someone reaching a mythical status and that we have started to project our own expectations on the man. While the latest Ranjith-Rajni outing seems to have had a better reception compared to their first, not everyone is satisfied. Yes, it goes without saying that you cannot satisfy everyone. One can only hope that Karthik Subbaraj can come up with something that will appeal to almost everyone. All we can do now is wait and watch.

Until next time, bye.

The Fight For Power

Iruvar is without a doubt one of the finest films ever made in India. It is a perfect mix of art and entertainment that is sure to leave one feeling awestruck at its brilliance. There is so much to talk about with a film like this. One of them is the historical significance of the story it depicts. And if you know anything about the history of Tamil Nadu, you know how important the two protagonists are. Today, I would like to focus on one scene in particular. It is the scene where Mohanlal’s character goes to the office of Prakash Raj and asks to be made a minister. In other words, it is for the fight for power. Not only is it key to the development of the story, the two actors are able show what acting is in just a few minutes.

iruvar1

This expression, I feel, is acting at an incredibly high level. What we see is a man who has his pride damaged but does not want to show it. He did not expect to be rejected for the minister’s post. The scene also manages to show the distance that has grown between the once great friends. Where we usually see them close to each other, the table in the metaphorically shows the distance among them. Though there is only one expression in this picture, the whole scene has the both of them portray a range of emotions with such subtlety that you may miss it. This is not an easy thing to do.

iruvar2

A fascinating aspect of the relationship between Tamizh Selvan and Anandhan is the love and respect they have for each other till the very end. Though their political ambitions end up making them rivals, they remain friends rather than foes. There is a constant shift in power throughout the film. At the end, one feels that Tamizh Selvan’s monologue shows the feeling of powerlessness. Without his friend, he feels lost. This is how the movie ends but we all know how real life turned out to be.

Until next time, bye.

 

The Unlikeable Protagonist

When you make a film about someone who is not likeable, it can be a bit tricky to pull off. If the character is a villain then it’s easier but if it is someone more relatable, it can be a little off-putting for some. This is the case with Young Adult, the 2011 film directed by Jason Reitman. While it was a success commercially and critically, not everyone was too taken with it. To be fair, it is completely fine when this happens. But why does this happen ? Is it not possible to make films about people whom we do not like or do we have to relate to the characters to like the film. If you are like me, you do not care about whether the film is relatable or not and just enjoy it for what it is. Now, let’s talk about the film.

YOUNG ADULT

The second collaboration between Diablo Cody and Reitman produces interesting results. In my opinion, Juno is the superior film but there are many things to admire about this film as well. Firstly, it has an absolutely incredible performance by Charlize Theron. She manages to make this kind of a person feel sympathetic. The writing by Cody is another strong aspect of the film that works. And not to mention, it has great supporting work from Patton Oswalt. If you look at the film as just cinema, it becomes easier to enjoy it. I guess what I am trying to say is that, you do not always have to relate or like something to enjoy it. If you loosen up a bit, you may actually end up having a good time even with a film like this. Though it may seem dull at certain points, there is a lot of truth that is being said and that alone makes it worth watching. I’m not sure if what I said is exactly what I wanted to say. Anyway, thanks for reading.

Until next time, bye.

What Is Love

Let me start this by saying that Juhi Chaturvedi is one of the finest writers to come out of India. With just three films under her belt, she has managed to carve a niche for herself. October is another feather in her cap. But to my delight, she is not the only winner in this film. Varun Dhawan emerges as an actor who made me forget that he’s a star. I could only see Dan on screen. A special mention has to be made for Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao for different but impactful performances. Making a film about a story such as this is a little tricky. You do not want to make it too sentimental because people might feel alienated. The script by Juhi and the direction by Shoojit Sircar is able to strike a balance between emotion and realism. As the film’s trailer says, this is not a love story but rather a story about love. But what is love ?

october

This I think is the central theme of the story. It is never made clear to us if Dan is in love with Shiuli. But there is some strange attraction that he has for her. I say strange because generally no one would do what Dan does but it never feels cinematic. You are convinced by his actions even if you do not approve of them. Coming back to what love is, is it being with someone even when they can’t be with you ? Is it sacrificing something for someone else even if you do not get anything in return ? What Dan gets is a purpose and maybe that’s what he was looking for. Love means different things for each person so what is love can only be answered by what your definition of love is. Till you figure that out, go and watch October. It is something to be felt rather than analyzed.

Until next time, bye.

Why Lynne Ramsay Is Great

Lynne Ramsay is one director who always gets praised by many as one of the greatest filmmakers working today. But, there are many who do not think this way. These detractors say that her films are slow with no substance and they don’t really go anywhere. Well, if you feel this way you are missing the point. Let me be clear and say that I do feel that she is one of the best there is today. I came to this realization after seeing her latest film, You Were Never Really Here. Go watch it for Joaquin Phoenix if not for Ramsay. His brilliance has reached a level where we are not surprised when he is amazing. It has become the norm for him. Now allow me to explain why I think Ramsay is a great director.

you-were-never-really-here

There are very few people who make films the way she does. Her usage of imagery and sound is so different from what we see on a regular basis that it takes time to adjust to her style. I feel that if she had made more films, she would have gotten more mainstream attention. Perhaps this lack of attention is what makes her direct her films this way. You cannot take your eyes away from the screen because of the way she packs in details in every frame. Now, this is not on a heightened level such as a Wes Anderson but in a more rooted and realistic manner. She finds new way to look at everyday things. This perspective is what makes her work captivating. You probably will not feel the same way as I do. But if you have not seen any of Ramsay’s films before, I suggest you give this one a try and you may end up learning something and maybe even liking it.

Until next time, bye.