• Baradwaj Rangan’s piece on Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya
    Aarohi | March 9, 2010, 7:05 AM | no comments | 0 views


    Gautham Vasudev Menon’s very real, very true-to-life, very messy romance is yet another effort, this year, that pushes the envelope far beyond the realms of “safe” commercial cinema.

    MAR 7, 2010 – WHAT A YEAR THIS IS TURNING OUT to be for Tamil cinema! Forget good films or perfect films or successful films or films that will be claimed as classics by aliens roaming the planet after humankind has become extinct – I’m simply referring to the unfettered ambition that has been leaping off our screens ever since the new decade dawned. Recent releases like Goa and Thamizh Padam and Porkalam have, in their own distinct ways, helped demolish the long-nurtured myth that the Tamil audience is toweringly traditional – with hair well-oiled and plaited and beribboned and festooned with fragrant garlands of jasmine – and that spoofs and same-sex couples are never going to be tolerated. Industry wisdom was that you could veer into the offbeat, but only if the milieu was rural – and so for a while, the only truly interesting stories revolved around sickle-wielding small-town heroes. But even if it’s too soon to single out a viable movement of any serious value, it appears, now, that edgy urban narratives aren‘t without their assortment of admirers.


  • Baradwaj Rangan reviews Striker
    Aarohi | February 6, 2010, 2:50 AM | no comments | 0 views


    A carrom whiz is constantly tested by life in a beautifully textured docudrama that keeps us at an arm’s length.

    FEB 7, 2010 – SURYA (SIDDHARTH), THE MINOR-LEAGUE LEADING MAN of Striker – I hesitate to call him “hero,” for he stands resolutely, refreshingly life-sized – is someone with major dreams. He lives in the Mumbai suburb of Malvani (the film is based on true-life events, we’re told), where his best buddy Zaid (Ankur Vikal) smirks about not having stepped beyond Ghatkopar – but Surya envisions a lucrative future in Dubai. Despite his brother’s (Anoop Soni) admonitions that life isn’t wish-fulfillment fantasy, like the kiddie tales in Chandoba, Surya forks over a sizable sum to a dubious travel agent and, unsurprisingly, loses it all. What will make good this loss are his considerable skills in carrom, a game he has a natural flair for but hasn’t visited in six years. How does Surya feel about this, and what is his relation to the game? If he’s rusty after all those years away, we’re not aware of it. If he’s disgruntled about being forced to return to the board, if he thrills at the speedy recovery of an innate talent, if he resents the game that’s forced him to partner with slippery underworld customers, we have no insight.


  • Baradwaj Rangan reviews Rann / Ishqiya
    Aarohi | January 30, 2010, 4:32 AM | one comment | 0 views

    The ever-tightening web of news-channel foul play forms the focus of an engrossing melodrama. Plus, a wickedly entertaining desi-Western that pulls its punches.

    Rann: RAM GOPAL VARMA’S RANN OPENS with the sun glowering on a sweltering metropolis. Inside the homes, however, the heat emanates from television, from news channels aboil with sensation mongering (underscored by shivering strings and pounding percussion more suited to the climactic battle in Macbeth). Within a short span, we are thrown amidst a battalion on the rims of the TV-news business – the patriarchal anchor Vijay Malik (Amitabh Bachchan), his smarmy competitor Amrish (Mohnish Bahl), Vijay’s son Jai (Sudeep), Vijay’s son-in-law Naveen (Rajat Kapoor), callow reporter Purab (Riteish Deshmukh), the buffoonish journalist Anand (Rajpal Yadav), go-getting news executive Nalini (Suchitra Krishnamoorthy), and the barbarous politician Mohan Pandey (Paresh Rawal), the vermilion patch on whose forehead resembles a victorious smear of blood after vanquishing a series of opponents. And the first words out of these mouths are invariably overarching opinions on media – about its nature and function, about how news isn’t a communal service anymore but a cutthroat business predicated on TRPs.

    Ishqiya: THERE’S NO IMAGE, ONLY SOUND, at the beginning of Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya, as Rekha Bhardwaj, in her inimitably tossed-off style, hums Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahan. A few phrases later, the black screen begins to brighten, and our eyes descend on Krishna (Vidya Balan) – a Reclining Venus (even if fully clad), a vision that’s woman from top to toe, from the slightest curve of breast to the generous swell of hips to the endless taper of legs. Much later in the film, when Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) exclaims that Krishna is a frustrating amalgam of pari and tawaif, it’s this Madonna-whore picture that pops into mind, at once chaste and carnal, and lit by the afterglow of lovemaking. It wouldn’t come as a revelation if Chaubey intended the mobile suspended from a car’s rear-view mirror – the figure is of Eve, the fig-leaf Temptress – as an homage to Krishna, hinting at the ways she will tempt both Khalujaan and Babban (Arshad Warsi).

    More Here

  • Baradwaj Rangan Reviews POKKISHAM (Tamil; 2009)
    Qalandar | August 30, 2009, 3:41 PM | no comments | 0 views


    “I wanted to shake these bratty SMS-era youngsters by the shoulder and tell them that this story needs this pace – if it’s a slow film, it’s because it isn’t set in a fast world. I wanted to tell them that this was, after all, the 1970s – an India of tonga carts and unsliced loaves of bread and two-rupee notes, and when people had to wait for days to hear from one another, either through letters or the tiresome mechanics of booking a trunk call over staticky communication lines. How easy it was, back then, to lose touch with people, who didn’t leave permanent footprints of their journey through life on, say, Facebook. (Today, you cannot shake off even the friends you want to lose.) It wasn’t unusual to graduate from school or college and have an entire set of people – and along with them, an entire part of your life – vanish into the ether, oftentimes without the comfort of closure. That’s the era this film attempts to evoke. When Lenin does not hear from Nadheera for weeks or months, we need to feel the length of this time elapse on screen – and the noonday-lethargy pacing of Pokkisham is very much a part of its design.”

    Read the complete review HERE.

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