The Ghazi Attack Movie Review: Thunder Down Under

It is rather surprising that with all the war movies that have been made in India, not one has ever focused on our naval forces, let alone one set in a submarine. Therefore, the promos of The Ghazi Attack brought with them a sense of intrigue. When one thinks of movies set on a submarine, the mind goes to the dark and claustrophobic Das Boot, the tense Cold War thriller, The Hunt for Red October, the gripping Crimson Tide, and the classic, Run Silent Run Deep. The question here is, can debutant director Sankalp Reddy make an impact, through the narration of a war tale, long forgotten, the tale of the sinking of PNS Ghazi?Continue reading “The Ghazi Attack Movie Review: Thunder Down Under”

Kammatipaadam Movie Review: A Crime Saga from the Underbelly of Kochi

In today’s fast paced world we see tall skyscrapers housing residential or office complexes all around us. Gone are the days when this was a phenomenon restricted to the Metro cities alone, now it has even percolated down to all the State capitals & even further down. But have we ever bothered to know how these original cities once looked like? How the sites housing these large buildings once appeared to be as? A lot of these places were probably agricultural lands, wastelands or perhaps even slum dwellings where the poor lived, only to make way over course of time to these concrete jungles. Kochi or Cochin is one of those rapidly developing cities, a city that is becoming more and more cosmopolitan by the day. You hear people often say “Kochi ippol pazhaya Kochi alla” (Kochi now isn’t the same old Kochi like before) and perhaps Rajeev Ravi has kept all this in the back of his mind as he conceived his latest film Kammatipaadam, a tale that spans across three decades, taking us virtually into the underbelly of Kochi.Continue reading “Kammatipaadam Movie Review: A Crime Saga from the Underbelly of Kochi”

Sardaar Gabbar Singh Movie Review: All Sound and Fury, But Hey What about the Story?

The Salman Khan starrer Dabangg (2010) was not only a trendsetter of sorts in Hindi films; it even inspired similar versions in a few other languages, most notable of them being Gabbar Singh (2012) in Telugu. Despite basically using the same plot outline of Dabangg, director Harish Shankar made an effort to make a few simple changes, basically adapting it in a way that made sure that the personality of superstar Pawan Kalyan was well highlighted, making the film a delight to watch for fans and even the general audience. It was but natural that there would be an extension of the brand Gabbar Singh, after all who wouldn’t want to put his/her money on a winning horse.But with Dabangg 2 not meeting with the same reception as Dabangg the prospect of once again going for an adaptation was ruled out. After the mega success of Attarintiki Daaredi the project was announced, but there were frequent changes, the director, DOP and even the title ended up finally changing. What remained constant eventually was the presence of Pawan Kalyan and producer Sharrath Marar.Continue reading “Sardaar Gabbar Singh Movie Review: All Sound and Fury, But Hey What about the Story?”

Kallappadam Movie Review: Meta Heist!

The closing sequence of Subbaraj’s Jigarthanda attempted to slap a radical yet relevant thought on our faces, sugar coated with the saccharine feel of a juicy heroic retribution. On the surface, it is about a struggling film-maker getting back at someone, who once humiliated him, not with any sort of creative subtlety, but by royally targeting the fear of his life. But dig deeper, the sub-texts, that are hidden to non-discerning viewer, catches you grinning.  Was it an indirect reference to the plight of directors who want to stay true to their script, believing their skills? Is this the only way, a filmmaker today, in the present Tamil-cinema-scenario, could shoot the film of his dreams? How? By turning a gangster. By effecting a  reversing of roles in the compulsive routine of falling at the feet.

Continue reading “Kallappadam Movie Review: Meta Heist!”

In Conversation with the Team of ‘Kallappadam’: Part Two

Here is the link to Part- 1 of this interview.

“I am equally responsible for Kallappadam. Hope you realize that its tougher for a cinematographer to don the grease paint than a director!”, Sriram Santhosh interrupts my discussion with Vadivel with a playful grin. I ask him about his contribution to the Kallappadam project. “Ideally I should have been credited for the screenplay too. Thats how close this project is to me”, Santhosh looks at Vadivel and smiles again. “The idea cropped up in one of our late night brain storming sessions as room mates”.

Continue reading “In Conversation with the Team of ‘Kallappadam’: Part Two”

In Conversation With the Team of ‘Kallappadam’: Part One

It is not every day that you get to hear of a full length feature film, that features its core technicians (director, cinematographer, music director and the editor) playing themselves in the movie. So, when I hear of  this new indie Tamil movie, Kallappadam, apparently based on the struggles, a gang of four friends have to endure to make their ‘dream’ film on-screen, I am filled with intrigue. I cant wait to talk of this maverick project with the gang. I land up on a lazy Saturday afternoon in the director’s office for a free-wheeling chat with the exciting team of Kallapadam.


kallapadam 1

When I meet Vadivel in his office, he doesn’t really paint the picture of a first time director waiting for the release of his maiden film in theatres in less than a week. He is with his team, his friend of ten years, fellow cinematographer and co-artist Sriram Santhosh, music director K, and editor Gaugin.  Something about Vadivel’s unusual calm and poise catches me off-guard. Mention it to him and he smiles, “Well, I am of-course a little tense inside. But over the years of training with my mentor, I have learnt to be stoic. If you do your job well enough, I believe it will speak for itself. I do my part, and leave the rest to the audience to decide.”

The very mention of his mentor triggers memories of our past social media interactions. I have known Vadivel for nearly an year now, as a passionate assistant director to one of my favorite filmmakers, Mysskin. It was in fact my article on Mysskin’s crime trilogy that had us bonding over films. Now, probably sensing my adulation for his guru, he quips, “Yeah, its real tough to stop admiring him. I would say that he is a complete teacher, the ideal one. I mean.. the dream kind, any budding filmmaker would want to have. I am in that way, very lucky”

I ask him more about his tryst with lady luck. What does it take to be a filmmaker? Is it that he always wanted to end up in the film industry?   “I really don’t know, when I got real serious about pursuing a career in films”, he exclaims. “Yes, I had this fascination for cinema right from my school days, and I grew up watching a lot. I was interested in media, and wanted to become a journalist at some point of time. After my M.Phil in Tamil University, I decided to join the Vikatan Student Journalism Initiative, and subsequently got posted in Chennai for assignments. And this is where I met my friend Sriram Santhosh, who had also joined the course. And we started of as roommates. We hit it off right from the start, and soon we were sharing ideas and thoughts about our careers.

“In fact, the core idea of Kallapadam is all old as 2007”, Vadivel ruminates.  “Looking back, I would say that was the year, when I was at cross roads in my career. I and Santhosh used to discuss a lot of scripts. I wanted to enter the film industry, and was looking for a opportunity that was worthy enough to leave my assignment in the Vikatan. And very soon, as destiny wanted it to be,  in early 2008, Anjathey happened”, he pauses, smiles at his attempt at injecting some suspense and sips his coffee.

Vadivel. J – The Director of Kallapadam

Why Anjathey?I ask him. “Thats the film that got me associated with Mysskin”, he ponders on it for a second and continues, “The minute, I finished watching the movie, I was literally blown-over. I couldn’t stop thinking about the scenes, the dialogues and the making. Once the film was over, I found myself in Mysskin’s office in less than an hour. Once I met him, he listened patiently to all my accolades on Anjathey and then proceeded to ask about me! He never uttered a single word about the film or discussed anything about the film that moment. In fact, he wanted to know about my M. Phil thesis!”.

When I smile disbelievingly, he continues, “True, that’s how unpredictably enjoyable, he is. That day, we talked a lot about literature and journalism. After two hours of intense debating, he turned to me at an unexpected moment and asked me, ‘Do you want to be my assistant director? Is it why you have come to meet me?’ In a state of shock and disbelief, I manage to nod in approval. And he immediately asks me to come for discussion for Nandalala from the next day and bingo, my innings in Tamil cinema begins!”


So, it basically boils down to how well you impress Mysskin?, I wonder. “No, you cant simplify it to something that easy. When he talks with you, he knows. He decides if we can be of help mutually. In the two hours we spoke we rarely spoke about cinema. He asks about your interests and tries to expand his knowledge of them. He never loses an opportunity to hear something new. He is a compulsive learner, if you ask me”

vadivel dirSo, how has his stint with Mysskin, shaped him? Has it changed his way of perceiving cinema and films?, I ask Vadivel. “Definitely, I would call it more of a soul-searching and self-defining experience than learning.” He pauses and looks at me to see if I get the gravity of his statement, When I nod in approval, he continues. “He involves his whole team in shaping his film.  We discuss every scene for days together, and his attention to detail is unbelievable. Perfection and passion are two things, he has imbibed in me”

I ask Vadivel for more. Smiling at my enthusiasm, he continues, “I used to type the scripts for him, and he used to insist on the importance of a locked and bound script more than anything else. He believes that the script can be sculpted umpteen times before going for the shoot, but once into the shoot, it must be locked. Everything is discussed and pre-planned, and we don’t do any changes on the shooting spot. This helped me a lot while working on my debut film. More than anything else, I earned a lot of friends there. Almost all of my Kallappadam team stems from Mysskin”

I interrupt him to clear up a long pending query. Is it true that Mysskin gets easily angry and is quite tough to handle, when he is irritated, as the media projects him to be? Vadivel instantly shakes his head in disapproval, “Not at all. He is in fact like captain-cool in the sets. He hardly reacts in shoots. Yes, he does engage in animated debates in person, but between us, it has always been in good spirit”.

He jovially quips that I am trying to get an interview about Mysskin from him. We proceed to talk about Kallappadam.

kalla padam“How did it all start? Was this the dream film he had always wanted to make? Again he smiles mysteriously. “No. In fact, after I and Santhosh casually talked of this one-line several years back, we never really thought we could make it. We didn’t take it seriously up then. After working with Mysskin in Nandalala, Yuddham Sei and Mugamoodi, I went and narrated to Mysskin a couple of log-lines”.

“I had always wanted to make a sensible, stylish and slick action thriller. Mysskin liked a particular idea, and asked me to expand on it. I completed that script in six months, and realized that it needed a star to carry it. And I scouted around for producers and narrated the script to a couple of stars too”

“This was the time that I realized that the ‘Mysskin student’ tag wasn’t enough for producers to put that kind of money into a debutante’s film. The rules here are simple. You have to start small, prove yourself and earn your place and position in the industry. You have to be practical and realize that it takes enormous guts to invest big money in a fresher’s film. Everything in this industry has to be earned by proving business. You can’t demand it just because you come from someone’s stable”

“Then, one fine day,  I remembered this one-line I had discussed with Santosh, and went on to expand it into a first draft. Simultaneously I was in the look out for producers again. As luck would have it, this was also the time I got in touch with Dr. Anand Ponniraivan through a common friend for some other reason. In a chance meeting, I narrated him the first draft and he came forward to finance it. I also told him upfront that I am planning to cast my technician friends as the protagonists in the film. Surprisingly, he readily agreed without any concerns.”

“I went back and rewrote the script several times. The whole process of scripting took me about three months. I used to constantly discuss scenes with my friends Santhosh, K and Gaugin even in the scripting stage. So basically they are with me right from the start, and having been a part of Kallappadam’s birth, growth and evolution, they are obviously it’s backbone too”

Whats the genre? I ask him. “Though it has all the elements of a thriller, I would prefer not labelling it upfront. I want the audience to experience it with a fresh mind-set.” he shoots back.

To be continued…




In Conversation with Producer Anand Ponniraivan: From Medicine to Films, on Producing Kallappadam and More

Kallappadam is a unique independent Tamil film produced by first time producer Anand Ponniraivan. A medical practitioner based in Australia, he is now keen to be involved with the film business as well. In a freewheeling conversation with MAM, Anand discussed  a variety of topics and shared a lot of details about his debut film as well. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation-Continue reading “In Conversation with Producer Anand Ponniraivan: From Medicine to Films, on Producing Kallappadam and More”

Kallappadam: Trailer

Poster 3J.Vadivel, a former associate of Mysskin now turns director with the forthcoming Tamil film-Kallapadam. Produced by Iraivan Films,it is slated for release on 20th March. A tale of four youngsters who aspire to make it big in cinema (as a director,DOP,music composer & editor respectively), the film features Vadivel, Santosh, K and Venkat in the lead roles & the supporting cast includes Aadukalam Naren, Singampuli and Senthil. Srirama Santhosh is the DOP while K is the music composer and Gaugin is the editor of Kallappadam. Continue reading “Kallappadam: Trailer”

Pizza 3D Movie Review: Leftover

A guy called Karthik Subbaraj came out with an indie called Pizza in Tamil. Before the movie got released in 2012, the promotions were low key but intelligent. You could sense that it was a movie that will go beyond genres. And the movie delivered big time! It was spooky, suspenseful, thrilling and you cared for the leads Michael and Anu.

The promotions of Pizza 3D positions itself as a horror film, and in the theatre in which I watched, people were expecting a regular horror film. Remakes of cult films are tricky; if you stick to the original, it would appear pointless and if you make changes, you run the risk of earning the wrath of the cult followers. Here, the makers have stuck mostly to the original film, but wherever they have deviated, they have faltered.Continue reading “Pizza 3D Movie Review: Leftover”