20 Years of Kandukondain Kandukondain: A Pioneering Tamil Film In Many Ways

As I write this, we are 6 weeks into the lockdown, all thanks to the Covid-19 situation & most of us are working from home. With cinemas being closed (and with no clarity of when they will reopen again) and Satellite T.V facing an acute shortage of content (hence the re-runs of old soaps and reality shows), its thanks to the various digital/OTT platforms that we are managing to get our regular dose of entertainment. And with a mention of digital/OTT platforms it is also mandatory to add the point that in today’s times, the language barrier is not as severe as before and thanks to English subtitles (let me not elaborate on this as it requires a separate article by itself) a lot of regional cinema (and web-series) is being watched by people who aren’t fluent with the language in particular. Similarly, Hindi cinema (and web-series) is continuing to reach out to those who do not understand a single word of Hindi.Continue reading “20 Years of Kandukondain Kandukondain: A Pioneering Tamil Film In Many Ways”

Bharat Ane Nenu Movie Review: Our Dear Leader

What defines a leader? Is it ascertained by how he takes care of his people? Is it based on how he conducts itself? Can it be established by how he makes a decision?Continue reading “Bharat Ane Nenu Movie Review: Our Dear Leader”

OK Jaanu Movie Review: Ok Remake

There is always a sense of trepidation when one hears about an upcoming Bollywood remake of a successful South Indian film. After watching filmmakers slaughter their movies with indifferently made remakes (AR Murugadoss being the chief offender here with the godawful Holiday, with Prabhu Deva, Krishna Vamsi, Gautham Menon, etc. propping up the list from the bottom), one didn’t know what to make of the announcement that Shaad Ali planned to remake Mani Ratnam’s sublime OK Kanmani. While Ali’s remake of the brilliant Alaipayuthey made for a solid directorial debut in Saathiya, his last two directorial efforts, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Kill Dil ended up being examples of interesting ideas that somehow fizzled out on the big screen. So, will the audience say Jaanu or stick to Kanmani after watching this?Continue reading “OK Jaanu Movie Review: Ok Remake”

X:Past is Present Movie Review: Experimental and Interesting

Deep down a lot of us are romantics right?And one of the things that excites us the most is to get nostalgic over our romantic tales,some great,some not so great.Some funny, some tragic, some silly, some plain embarrassing. And in case one feels he/she hasn’t had a colourful life, you may still want to feel or pretend otherwise. There are so many topics that we talk about and things that we tend to do but often get bored of, but falling in love or reminiscing about an old romantic tale is usually not something that one ever gets bored of, well normally at least 🙂 . That’s why it’s no surprise that films like Cheran‘s Autograph (2004) or the recent Malayalam blockbuster Premam have done well. After all these films have an instant connect with our basic psyche, also this perhaps explains why I’ve been looking forward to X: Past is Present or X The Film as it was called earlier.Continue reading “X:Past is Present Movie Review: Experimental and Interesting”

Imaging Cinema 2014: Screenwriting and Filmmaking Workshop at IIT Madras

Imaging Cinema Poster_For Web (4)IIT Madras is presenting  Imaging Cinema 2014, a Screenwriting-cum-Filmmaking Workshop from 7-14 June. The focus is on various aspects of screenwriting. Sessions on screenwriting will be conducted by experienced resource persons. Special session on aspects of direction and screenwriters will be conducted by established names from Mumbai and South Indian cine industries. Continue reading “Imaging Cinema 2014: Screenwriting and Filmmaking Workshop at IIT Madras”

Top 12 friendship songs of Bollywood

The bond of friendship has been one of the oft depicted bonds in Bollywood since time immemorial. From Jai and Veeru of Sholay to Akash , Sid and Sameer of Dil Chahta Hai , the depiction of friendship in Hindi cinema might have gone a radical change. Still it continues to be one of the most explored relationships in Hindi. Moreover , when it comes to declaring undying love and dedication to their friends no one does it better than Indian cinema.

On the eve of Friendship day, here is a look at the some of the best songs in Hindi cinema that have gone to immortalise the bond of friendship on celluloid.

Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge – Sholay

How can one not mention Sholay while talking about Best friends forever(BFF) jodis of Hindi Cinema? Right from doing daylight robberies, harassing “Angrez ke zamaane ke jailor” to taking on the most dreaded villain of Hindi cinema – Gabbar Singh, the duo of Jai and Veeru have done it all. And they survived through almost all of it, thanks to their strong friendship . And what could be better than this song , which brilliantly depicts their love and respect for each other.

Tere jaisa yaar kahaan – Yaarana

The film Yaarana sees Bishan (Amjad Khan) helping his best friend Kishan (Amitabh Bachchan) to realise his dreams of becoming a playback singer and they stick with each other through thick and thin , proving that their  bond of friendship is indeed a strong one.

This beautiful composition by Rajesh Roshan sees Amitabh Bachchan getting his moment of glory as a singer and performer in the film. And it also gives him a chance to thank his BFF for sticking with him through thick and thin.

Diye Jalte Hai – Namak Haraam

Namak Haraam directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee was loosely based on a Shakespearean play ‘Beckett’. The  film tells the story of   two best friends Somu(Rajesh Khanna) and Vicky (Amtabh Bachchan) belonging to different strata of the society and how their friendship gets affected due to a clash of ideologies.

This beautiful song composed by R.D Burman and sung by Kishore Kumar shows the duo in one of their happiest moments together.

Yaaron – Rockford

The film Rockford is a coming of age story set in hostel and centered around a school going kid. Though this song was a part of the Rockford OST, it was never featured in the movie. Instead, a separate music video was shot (which was a very popular trend those days and still continues to be ) to promote the film.

This beautiful composition rendered beautifully by K.K  implies that friendship and love are one of the best things to happen in an individual’s life. And the memories of such love and friendship are to be cherished forever.

Bane chahe dushman zamana hamara – Dostana

This Dostana doesn’t refer to the Abhishek BachchanJohn Abraham starrer. Instead this refers to the Amitabh BachchanShatrughan Sinha film in which the two actors star as childhood friends who are separated due to misunderstandings only to reunite towards the end in true Hindi film fashion.

This song sees them giving an ode to their immortal friendship. Composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal , this song is one of the rare collaborations of Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi who come together to do the playback for Amitabh and Shatrughan Sinha respectively.

Yaari Hai Imaan Mera – Zanjeer

The first solo megahit of Amitabh Bachchan sees him as an honest police officer who avenges the death of his parents who were murdered by Teja (Ajit) with ample help in the form of ladylove Jaya Bachchan and a good samaritian Pathan played by Pran.

This song follows after an explosive confrontation between Amitabh and Pran in the police station. And this song shows  the bond of friendship being cemented between them. With vocals by the versatile Manna Dey and music by Kalyanji Anandji, this song is undoubtedly one of the best songs that celebrates the bond of friendship in true hindi film style.

Dil Chahta Hai – Title Song

Director Farhan Akhtar created a revolution of sorts with his directorial debut , that had some brilliant cinematography (Ravi K Chandran), awe-inspiring visuals and some brilliant music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

The result was Dil Chahta Hai. A trendy, urban, coming of age movie set in an urban milieu.

The film is about three best friends Akash (Aamir Khan), Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Siddharth (Akshaye Khanna), their individual relationships and the effect that these relationships have on their friendship.

At a time when Bollywood was getting increasingly stereotypical, this film came as a breath of fresh air with its subtle and subdued depiction of individuals and relationships.

The title song sees the friends heading to Goa, wherein they are having a gala time whilst enjoying the company of each other , indicating that  the moments spent with best buddies are to be cherished forever.

Qurbani – Title Song

Qurbani directed by the late Feroz Khan was a stylish actioner with the right mix of action, setinments, romance and melodrama. The film focusses on two friends Vinod Khanna and Feroz Khan who drift apart since they are in love with the same woman – the superhot Zeenat Aman only to come together for a action packed and an emotional reunion in the end.

One of the film’s highpoints was undoubtedly the music by Kalyanji-Anandji and Biddu. The extremely hummable title song(co-incidentally once again song by (Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi) well establishes the bond between the duo of Feroz Khan and Vinod Khanna in the film.

Jaane nahi denge tujhe – 3 Idiots

Based on the book ‘Five Point Someone’ by Chetan Bhagat , 3 Idiots was a much better on-screen adaptation of the book directed by Rajkumar Hirani with his usual flair for feel good cinema.

The film focuses on three friends (Aamir, Sharman & Madhavan) and the ups and downs they face during the course of doing their engineering course.

The song comes at a time when Sharman Joshi’s character is going through one of his worst phases as a student. Being unable to take the pressure anymore , he attempts suicide. The song sees his other friends Aamir and Madhavan trying their best to help Sharman recover from the incident. Though the picturisation is a bit filmy unlike the normal style of Hirani , it does manage to brign a lump in your throat.  Shantanu Moitra and Sonu Nigam deserve a great amount of applause for doing a wonderful job composing and rendering the song beautifully.

Imli ka boota – Saudagar

At the time of its release , Saudagar was one of the most hyped and eagerly awaited films . For a very simple reason – since it brough together , two of the biggest superstars – Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar in the same frame. Besides this , the film also featured an ensemble cast of Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher, Jackie Shroff, debutantes Vivek Mushran and Manisha Koirala amongst others. It also featured music by Laxmikant Pyarelal which contained chartbusters such as ‘Ilu Ilu’ and the above featured song amongst others. And director Subhash Ghai met the expectations as the film went on to become one of the biggest box office hits.

The film tells the story of  best freinds Veeru Singh (Dilip Kumar) and  Rajeshwar Singh(Raaj Kumar) who become bitter enemies due to a misunderstanding created by Chuniya(Amrish Puri) and his accomplices. Only to re-unite towards the end to eliminate their common enemy Chuniya and rekindle their everlasting friendship.

This song which is the theme song of the film plays at various critical junctures of the film. At this point , the song is playing when both the friends reunite after a long time.

Khudgarz – Zindagi Ka naam dosti

Khudgarz which was the directorial debut of Rakesh Roshan tells the oft-repeated story of two best friends (Jeetendra  and Shatrughan Sinha) who become sworn enemies due to a series of misunderstandings initiated by the evil Kiran Kumar. Though the storyline is predictable , the film is well directed by Roshan and well enacted by Jeetendra and ‘Shotgun’ Sinha.

One of the film’ s highpoints was the music composed by Rajesh Roshan which featured a couple of hummable numbers, including the above mentioned number which very well depicts the friendship between Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha.

Mustafa Mustafa – Duniya Dilwalon Ki 

Duniya Dilwalon Ki was a dubbed version of the Tamil hit film ‘Kadhal Desam’ starring Abbas, Vineeth and Tabu amongst others. The film is love triangle where two friends (Abbas and Vineeth) fall for the same girl (Tabu).

The music composed by A.R Rahman was one of the biggest strengths of the film even in the dubbed version. The Mustafa Mustafa song was a rage when it had released.  The song which celebrates the spirit of friendship is rightly considered by many as an anthem of friendship.

 

Ek Tha Tiger-Teaser Promo

Salman Khan has been on a winning streak  lately with consecutive hits such as Dabangg,Ready & Bodyguard. Naturally this has raised expectations for his next release-Ek Tha Tiger.Moreover this is the first time Salman would be acting in a Yash Raj production. Directed by Kabir Khan (Kabul Express,New York) and co -starring Katrina Kaif, Ek Tha Tiger is a keenly awaited film. Ek Tha Tiger has music by Sohail Sen and Aseem Mishra is the DOP. The film is due to be released on the 15th of August this year.Incidentally Salman’s Tere Naam was also released on the same date in the year 2003.

Meanwhile here is a look at the teaser of Ek Tha Tiger where we see Bhai in an avatar that seems to be a blend of James Bond and Jason Bourne 🙂

Yuva / Aayutha Ezhuthu – Because Youth is for real

Yuva

As soon as you put Mani Ratnam’s name on a film, the expectations associated with it blow out of the proportions. I and my whole family, my mom, dad and elder brother were sort of high on expectations and the film opened to terrible reception all round, still we all knew that it is a Mani Ratnam film and there would be ascertained substance, it would not be a hollow film.Continue reading “Yuva / Aayutha Ezhuthu – Because Youth is for real”

Kannathil Muthamittal- An Innocent Journey of a Girl

Sometimes a film impresses you right from the word go. It consistently meets or even surpasses your expectations as the story unfolds, but somehow, just the way it ends disappoints you. Kannathil Muthamital is that kind of a film for me.
Mani Ratnam’s biggest strength is to make films which despite being unconventional are very mainstream. Kannathil Muthamital is no exception. Here he tackles subjects like adoption and the LTTE movement in Srilanka. But he does not fail even once to take the lowest common denominator of the audience into consideration. It is a feature which was evident in the recent Hindi film Paan Singh Tomar as well. In Kannathil Muthamital, an almost 9 year-old Amudha(P.S. Keerthana) doesn’t know that she is an adopted child. Her parents G.Thiruchivelan(Madhavan) and Indra(Simran) have decided to let her know the truth on her 9th birthday. Amudha gets a little disturbed on knowing the truth and is determined to know the identity of the woman who gave her birth. She even flees away from home in her search to Rameshwaram which is Indra and Thiruchivelan’s hometown and also the place from where Amudha was adopted.Thus forcing her parents to tag along who finally give in to her plea and agree to fly to Srilanka to find Amudha’s biological mother as she is most likely to be found there.

In the lovely prologue, we are introduced to Amudha’s biological parents Shyama and Dileepan, a newly married Tamil speaking Srilankan couple. The war-torn land is no ideal place to grow a child and hence Dileepan, who is involved in the war, doesn’t want a child as of now much against Shyama’s wishes. He gets sucked into the war and doesn’t return home for days. Meanwhile, despite their planning Shyama gets pregnant and hence is rushed across the shore to India as there are much better facilities there. The prologue ends withShyama reaching a Refugee Camp in Rameshwaram in India and delivering a baby girl, whom she leaves to the care of an orphanage and returns to Srilanka to join her husband.

It surely is a fascinating plot and Mani Saar, as expected, is up to the task. The prologue very effectively gives you an idea of the whole situation of Srilankan Tamils. Also,the soulful Vellai Pookal sung and composed by A.R.Rahman plays in the background during this part, all of which enchant you instantly. But the high point of the film for me is easily the camaraderie among Amudha and the family which has adopted her. The film has quite a few exceptional scenes involving Amudha, Thiruchivelan and Indra. One of them is a scene where Amudha after a long and hard try does manage to make Indra forgive her mischief. At this moment Thiruchivelan is keenly observing the mother-daughter pair embracing each other as Indra accepts Amudha’s apology. Well aware of Thiruchivelan’s habit of getting inspired from real life situations in his writing, Amudha and Indra both playfully threaten him from including the just happened events, involving themselves, in his novels.

Madhavan’s performance was a revelation for me. This is by far the best I have seen him acting on screen. The character sketched for him by Mani Ratnam is definitely a triumph. A popular andemphatic writer, Thiruchivelan is a thoughtful, polite, firm and straightforward man. He doesn’t like free advice andcounts the belief that to become a writer you need to have a spark since birth as an absolute lie. Thiruchivelan always has his wits about himself and to pacify Amudha he does give in to her demand and decides that they will go to Srilanka to search Amudha’s biological mother.

Simran too is spot on playing Indra. The slightly low-tempered but a caring and loving mother, Indra is also a news reader on a TV channel. She is particularly impressive in the flashback romance segment of the film. Here too Mani Ratnam shows his class. Ravi K. Chandran’s cinematography also shines out in this part which is shot in the coastal town of Rameshwaram.Neighbours since childhood Simran&Thiruchivelan have a thing for each other. And it is Simran here who is chasing Thiruchivelan. A scene where she is trying hard to keep up with Thiruchivelan on her bicycle while he is riding a scooter impresses you with its freshness and unconventionality. Thiruchivelan wants to adopt a little girl(Amudha) but can’t as he is a single man and thus finally expresses his love to Indra and they decide to get married. This is why he tells Amudha that they didn’t choose her but she chose them.

But the star of the film is without doubt the little Amudha played by P.S. Keerthana. The talkative, slightly mischievous character could have easily become highly irritating (like in Kuch Kuch Hota Hain), but it doesn’t and thus Keerthana’s performance deserves appreciation. With Anjali, Mani Ratnam had ample experience of extracting the best from children which is a difficult task indeed. Nandita Das, as usual, is up to the mark and J.D. Chakravarthy too doesn’t fail to leave an impression in his short role.

The music by A.R.Rahman without doubt is top class. However, some songs like Vellai Pookal and Amudha’s intro song Sundari gel very well with the film but others like KannathilMuthamital don’t take the story one bit forward. But to compensate the song Kannathil Muthamital has been shot marvelously. Ravi.K.Chandran has been given a free hand and he holds nothing back with a number of breathtaking helicopter shots, crane shots etc on the vast empty expanse of a beach. Even in this highly stylized song there is one moment which stands out for its innocence which is when the camera attached on the crane comes closer to Amudha we see her just about managing to keep her dress from blowing up because of the breeze, a la Marylin Monroe, and hence she gives animpromptu sweet-shy smile.

What also adds to the film’s victory is the writing by Mani Ratnam and Sujatha. Getting to make a film against the back-drop of the Sri-Lankan crisis was never going to be an easy task at all. While we can always debate as to how effective was the portrayal of the conflict in Sri Lanka as shown in the film, we definitely need to admit that there was no glorification of the issue , any overt statement issued or a stand taken per se. In the end in spite of the serious context of violence hovering around, Kannathil Muthamittal still fundamentally remains a simple story of a girl in search of her parents. That we remain glued to Amudha’s journey till the end is in itself a victory for Mani Sir as most of us might agree by now.

Now, let’s come to the disappointing part. It all starts when the family flies to Srilanka. Though the introduction scene to LTTE activism is brilliant, some scenes after that start to get a bit conventional. Some even defy logic and thus leave you disappointed. But nothing upsets you as much as the finale. Mani Ratnam, as a director, is brilliant in the rest of the film but wonder why he opts to finish of the movie in such a manner. The restraint and freshness visible right throughout the film suddenly gives in to melodrama. Some dialogues become predictable and the background score also becomes loud. Sadly, the finale pales in comparison to the excellent built up.

Despite the final moments, Kannathil Muthamital is an eminently watchable film. The performances, the music, the cinematography would definitely not leave you disappointed as a whole.

Read more reviews on MANI RATNAM BLOGATHON:

1. Pallavi Anupallavi (Kannada) 2. Unaroo (Malayalam) 3. Pagal Nilavu (Tamil) 4. Idaya Kovil (Tamil) 5. Mouna Ragam (Tamil) 6. Nayagan Tamil) 7. Agni Natchathiram (Tamil) 8. Geethanjali (Telugu) 9. Anjali (Tamil) 10. Thalapathi (Tamil) Take 2 Thalapathi (Tamil) 11. Roja (Tamil) 12. Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil) 13. Bombay (Tamil) 14. Iruvar (Tamil) Take 2 Iruvar (Tamil) 15. Dil Se…(Hindi) Take 2 Dil Se…(Hindi) 16. Alaipayuthey (Tamil) 17. Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil) Take 2 Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil) 18. Yuva (Hindi) 19. Aayutha Ezhuthu (Tamil) 20. Guru (Hindi) 21. Raavanan (Tamil) 22. Raavan (Hindi)