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Vishwaroopam: What it could have been

Director: Kamal Haasan

When Wissam (Kamal) and his wife Nirupama (Pooja) enter the elderly care to meet Wissam's mother, an Alzheimer's patient, we see that her world of four walls is adorned only by her son's images. It reminded me of another member of the extended Haasan family's film, OK Kanmani.  There too a key character, suffering from Alzheimer's, had a loved one as an anchor. But Kamal the director pushes this trope further. Through a twist of fate, she isn't able to recognise her son standing in front of her. Akin to how Wissam is hit by flashes of images from the past throughout the film, this plot point took me back to the various moments prior to this scene in the series where Wissam is alienated.

Wissam's alienation starts when his father leaves him as an illegitimate baby; the Indian Army disavows him so that he can be an espionage agent; his colleagues want to get rid of him at the drop of a hat; his jihadi brethren feel he has betrayed them…
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Kaala: A regular Rajini one man show with the best parts reserved for others

Director Pa Ranjith
By the time the first song in Kaala comes on screen, Pa Ranjith skillfully establishes the conflict in the film. While on surface the conflict is about the right to property, as one digs deeper, Ranjith taking a leaf from Godfather, sets up a world where the aging don, Kaala, guards Dharavi against upper-class politicians with his righthand man-cum-elder son, while his younger son attacks the same problem through a liberal framework with his more efficient girlfriend. To further drive the point home for the Tamil audience, Ranjith names the relatively subdued younger son, the name of a Soviet Revolutionist and his elder son a Tamil name. Ranjith thus establishes early on that the film is going to talk not just about land politics with race and colour as extensions, but also an inner conflict as to how to approach the common problem.
As the film progresses with class conflicts on one end and a subtle and effervescent love triangle at the other end, it’s the inner con…

Why Avengers: Infinity War is 'marvel'lous

Director: Russo Brothers

When Civil War came, I was one of the few to not be impressed by the outcome, not just because of my over expectations, but also because the Russo brothers went for a subaltern formula compared to the one employed in the best Marvel movie, Winter Soldier which they helmed. With Infinity War, they are back to their best formula, viz. episodic thriller.
Let’s just digress to understand what an episodic thriller is. An episodic film is one where each block of the film is treated as an episode with an ending that pushes the stakes up for the next episode. When a thriller element is added to this type of screenplay, besides upping the ante through a singular goal tying all the episodes together, it makes the audience focus on what’s next rather than nitpicking any shortcomings.
In Infinity War, this format solves a perennial problem of star-studded films (DC please take note). It takes the focus out of the individual stars and puts the spotlight on the goal, thus av…

Arjun Reddy

Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga
The first thing that struck me deeply about AR (Arjun Reddy) is how the love between AR and Preethi develops. She is a fresher with innocence written all over her face, carrying a pair of eyes filled with a mix of fear and sadness. As a result, her gaze towards AR is filled with helplessness. She is helpless because AR, bitten by love bug at the first sight, surrounds her teenage world in every manner possible. In essence, she is his princess-prisoner. This Stockholm Syndrome-ish relationship isn't punctuated with morality, ethics or etiquette that which one sees in star-crossed love stories that occupy Indian screens. The status-quo of the relationship changes only after she believes he is the one and willing surrenders herself to him. Not just that, her gaze too changes from fear/helplessness to unadulterated love. 
In this character driven film, from the plot perspective, there isn't anything new Sandeep has done that one hasn't seen in De…

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

Director: SS Rajamouli
Walking out of Baahubali 2, my mind was filled with concepts relating to the art of communication. Most of them were surrounding the view that a movie becomes complete only in the minds of the audience. Yes, from the most submissive to the most dismissive audience member, everyone, in some form or the other, prods the movie in his or her own way to understand what the director is trying to convey through the silver screen. While watching Baahubali 2, I had more than one thought propping up in my mind; but not all were positive.
Take for example the last shot of the film. The golden statue head of Bhallaladeva is thrown into the river on Mahendra Baahubali's command to demonstrate the consequence of acting against dharma. The head drifts and falls from the waterfall, tracing the path of Shivudu’s ascend in the part 1. Rajamouli, the director, clearly wants to convey that Bhallaladeva is falling from the same heights that Shivudu climbed and eventually becom…

Kaatru Veliyidai

Director: Mani Ratnam

In the poem ‘Kaatru Veliyidai Kannama’, the poet describes the beauty of kannama, how it mesmerizes the lover, captivates him to his core and becomes the torch for the darkness within and around him. VC, the protagonist of the film, Kaatru Veliyidai, takes off from the poem in spirit. He is mesmerized by the mere presence of Leela. Such is the power of Leela that the moment she lights a torch into the eyes of VC, the player gets played by the ethereal aura of the rightfully named Leela.
Mani Ratnam, here seems to be more interested in interpreting the poem in its various facades. He starts off this ambitious vision with self-indulgence.  Thus, VC, who gets mesmerized by the beauty of Leela, wants her to be his anchor, the human embodiment of his poetry, the breeze that comes along with the air that surrounds him and ultimately the light to the darkness within. No wonder Mani makes the protagonist apologize through a poem, reminisce her through the wind that flut…

Baahubali - The beginning

Director: S S Rajamouli
I have said it in the past, I am saying it now, and from how he goes about his career, I think I will be saying it again in the future as well – what audacity does SS Rajamouli have! It takes a master with raw passion towards the material to create ingenuous piece of art with such banal stories. Yes, you read it right – banal; for that is what Baahubali’s story too is if you go by Rajamouli’s stories – stories that have been told since our puranas came into existence. What then transforms this material into something extraordinary is the conviction with which it is narrated. People who have seen the film Kadhalika Neramilla’s horror story narration scene (or its counterpart in telugu/hindi) will agree with me that the way Nagesh/Mehmoob narrated the simple scene created the chill & humour and not the dialogues itself.
Of all the praises I want to shower over Baahubali, the most deserving one is the laid back approach in the narration. The story essentiall…