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Why did you dial her, Karthik? - Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn

Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon It all starts with Karthik struggling with writer's block. As his mind longs for Jessi's presence, his hand dials her number, hoping she would bring him out of this abyss. What should have followed is an epilogue to the original film or a prelude to a sequel. However, what I saw was a procedural event. To begin with, the writer's block was treated at surface level without any heft. Just because you write heroine intro scene as her brushing her teeth (Raja Rani) you cannot lose hope in life and take drastic decisions. Once the phone conversation begins, it goes into confession mode listing out every detail the audience needs to know about the life of this couple in the past 10 years. It is of course interlaced with the GVM must-haves such as self-deprecating humour, throwbacks to his successful films, and Mani Ratnam; all in now-intolerable staccato.  When I took a step back, recounting events in the form of confessions inherently is a highly
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Super Deluxe

Director: Thyagaraja Kumararaja While watching Super Deluxe, amongst the countless thoughts swirling my head, one thought occupied my mind predominantly. It wasn't the seamless performance of Vijay Sethupathi or that of Fahad Fazil. It wasn't the demonic performance of Budds, who makes me ponder through his no holds bar, yet subtle performance in this film, whether this is how Kamal would have performed Red Chitti in Enthiran. It wasn't the wacky directions and unexpected/ unexplored characters the movie was showcasing. The question was more fundamental: it was about the pacing of the film.  Every scene in the film is painstakingly slow. By slow, what I mean is that after the crux of the information and emotion is conveyed, the scene goes on and on. The worst one was the Myskkin's stoned revelation scene. Is it fear or apprehension which led TK to decide this pace for the movie? For unknown reasons (at least unknown to me), a marvelous debut by TK didn't mi

KGF: Chapter One

Director: Prashanth Neel In my opinion, It would take years to understand, let alone replicate the narrative framework of KGF. I say this with confidence because we still dismiss the screenplays of Sholay and Baahubali (Part One alone) as a grand masala caper. At the surface, KGF is just another hero worship film, filled with lines of adulations and over the top actions. But Prashanth (writer-director) employs a very unusual mix of genres to bring out an original screenplay that is parts stream of consciousness, parts mythical fantasy, parts epic and parts philosophy. While many have attempted movies covering these narrative styles, what sets KGF apart is how Prashanth plays with each style of storytelling and eventually pushing their boundaries to areas seldom visited. As safe as it gets, Prashanth initially frames the story of an orphaned boy who becomes a don and then by the turn of events a messiah, through the narration of the author of a banned book. But the audacity of th

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 betraye

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

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

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'