In Conversation with Rekhs, the Doyen of Subtitling in South India (Part 1): On Subtitling-the Journey, Process, Challenges, Milestones Etc.

Rekhs is someone who hardly needs any introduction as far as people who have been following Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu cinema are concerned. After all she is the one who has gone on to bring subtitling to the attention of the common viewer so wonderfully. In a relatively interesting span of 6+ years she has already gone on to take care of the subtitling for more than 350 films, mainly across Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. This Friday (22nd July) sees the release of Pa.Ranjith’s Kabali, one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year and this is again a film which has seen the involvement of Rekhs. Here in the first part of our conversation with Rekhs she shares a lot of insights on how it all started, how her journey has been so far, the challenges that she has faced and some remarkable films that she has been part of so far.Continue reading “In Conversation with Rekhs, the Doyen of Subtitling in South India (Part 1): On Subtitling-the Journey, Process, Challenges, Milestones Etc.”

I Movie Review: Vikram deserved better!

A young filmmaker way back in the early nineties had the gall to tell the story of a seemingly grey-shaded protagonist who accuses the top government official of the state after looting crores of government money, for his debut film. As if he thought that it was way too much for the audience then to handle, he decided to masquerade it amid-st the rollicking fun of ‘Chikku Bukku’, Gounder’s crude antics, beautifully choreographed yet overtly long action sequences and sadly a cliched heroine’s sister character. The film which was made at a budget of more than five crores for the first time in the South raked in 22 crores at the box-office and shot the young director to instant limelight.

i-am-shankar-interviewAnd thus started the journey of a maker who chose to think ‘large’ (read ‘expensive’) and brand ‘Shankar’ was born. We loved him for what he seemed to be best at – narrating a compelling (though at times flimsy) conflict in the commercial space, while making mainstream cinema seem a lot richer and grandiose than it used to be. He proved this without doubt quite recently in his dream project with the Superstar, when he didn’t sacrifice his story-telling even for satisfying Rajni’s mass appeal, in the process giving us a sincere film that still managed to send the fans into raptures.

Today after seeing his two and half-year old year old mammoth project ‘I’, I had a nagging doubt if Enthiran was only an exception. Had Shankar unknowingly or knowingly reversed his formula yet again? With I, Shankar seems to have taken extraordinary pains to make the final product on-screen look technically astounding, aesthetically stunning, ornament-ally rich and visually exquisite, but has he narrated a compelling conflict in an engaging way? The answer to that would be a more emphatic ‘NO‘ and a less resounding ‘Partly’.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that Shankar is indeed a magician, if not any thing else. It takes a special set of skills and lots of guts to even attempt to visualize and pan out a ‘beaten to death’ linear story of such monotony (believe me when I say that I’s script actually qualifies for a brilliant ten minute short film) into a seeming complex maze of convolutions and grandeur, that we, at times, actually give in to the audiovisual sorcery that is being played on us. Given the discernible illusion of brilliance that Shankar nonchalantly brings to screen, our visual signals to the brain on many occasions trick us into forgetting that the film is dangerously pretentious and shallow. But not for long. Soon reason takes over, and we start questioning the tiresome length and painful predictability. With the film lagging with reference to the key ingredient of good cinema, the I experience turns out to be less wholesome than expected, with visual stupefaction and narrative disappointment constantly at loggerheads.

This is not to say that the writing (by Shankar and Suba) is downright uniformly bad or soul-less. I has its moments of cheer, vibrant energy and some really heart-wrenching poignancy that are lifted by the acting performances, but they are very few and far apart. The treatment falters big time, in the way things pan out in a totally expected manner, with no sight of the thrill factor in a purported romantic thriller. The dialogues at many instances are uninspiring, and fall flat, no way measuring up to the gravity of the situation.The antagonists are all weak unlike earlier Shankar ventures, and they mostly come across as a bunch of jokers.

Shankar-I-Movie-PosterAnother issue with I is the way Shankar seems to go on and on with sequences that literally don’t seem to have any say on the proceedings. And its appalling to see a man of Shankar’s caliber resorting to demean a character by her looks and the consequent stereotyping that happens is all in bad taste (for the reason that she seemingly looks like a transgender). The film’s last forty minutes didn’t work for me totally, and was more a mockery of agonising human suffering. It’s highly unbecoming of the writers to deal with life disasters like fatal disease and burns with such insensitivity, in whatever justified circumstances they are depicted in.

To put things in the right perspective, if at all you decide to see I, it’s for two people who have worked their asses off (for lost causes?) and probably given their career best. No prizes for guessing that they are Vikram and PC. Sreeram. Vikram to me, is more of a hard worker and non-quitter than a naturally gifted actor, and he proves it yet again with tons of conviction in I. The grueling torture that he has willingly submitted his body and psyche to, for slipping naturally into the multiple looks catches us literally gaping and dumbfounded. The more you see his inhumane efforts, the more you doubt the ability of this screenplay to tap it to the maximum potential.

i-movie-poster_141054272400Nevertheless this man, Kenny, gives every scene his two hundred percent and makes the film his own to the extent that if you remove him from the equation, it seems like the film (for whatever its worthy of) is non-existent. Here he takes up the quintessential ‘revenge drama’ script and makes it at-least watchable with his drool-worthy body, electrifying screen presence and stylish charm. As the ghastly kyphotic victim, he comes across more than convincing, managing to communicate with his sharp eyes even with at that heavy prosthetic make-up. But how much of all these can save an average script?! Amy Jackson looks a million dollars and slips into the skimpiest of costumes without seeming lewd or inappropriate. Surprisingly she emotes well too, utilizing her meaty role to the fullest. Suresh Gopi has been wasted in an insignificant role.

PC. Sreeram deserves a handful of awards for redefining ‘cinematic elegance’ and  setting a benchmark in cinematography in I. Be it the action sequences or the magnificently shot songs, he essentially makes the film what it is. The ‘Ladio’ and ‘Aila’ tracks scream of world-class visuals, keeping our eyes glued to the screen, as we involuntarily forget to blink. The VFX by Weta Workshop in the ‘Mersalayitten’ number is top-notch and the pristine beauty of China in the ‘Pookale’ track is a sight to behold. Art director Muthuraj deserves special mention for creatively designing the beast’s abode in the ‘Unnodu’ song. Despite the fact that I is more about painstakingly conceived and splendidly executed songs, its also true that their abundance make a coherent narrative totally impossible. A.R. Rahman scores well with his vivacious numbers and a highly relevant background score. The costume design, stunt choreography and  makeup are all bloody brilliant, making it probably the strongest technical film to come out in a long time,

Shankar with I proves that he is more of a visual sculptor than any kind of story-teller. His weakest script till date, is made occasionally engaging and watchable by Vikram’s sincerity and PC’s insanely lovely frames. I walked out of the theater with this thought eating my mind, “Didn’t Vikram deserve better?”

 

Lingaa Movie Review: The King’s Speech lacks the Punch!

Cast:  Rajinikanth , Anushka Shetty, Sonakshi Sinha, Santhanam, Karunakaran, Jagapati Babu, Dev Gill

Directed by K.S Ravikumar

Music by A.R. Rahman

During the course of the movie Lingaa, we are introduced to a man in the year 1939, travelling in a train, reading a copy of ‘The Hero with Thousand Faces’.  From behind the book emerges our hero, Rajinikanth- the hero with a single face. The same ‘you have seen it once, you have seen it all’ face that is enough to send a frenzy amongst his die hard fans.Continue reading “Lingaa Movie Review: The King’s Speech lacks the Punch!”

Aranmanai Movie Review: Ghost Movie Blues!

This debacle can be explained only one way. No three ways about it 🙂  It appears to me that on one inspired night, Sundar had watched ‘Amman’. ‘Rajakaliamman;, ‘Palhayathamman’, ‘Dhurgaiamman’ and ‘Padaiveethamman’ back to back on a repeated loop and ended it all with ‘Chandramukhi’ before going to bed. The lucky chap wakes up the next morning in the middle of a vivid dream where Andrea, Hansika and Raai Laxmi (sporting one rupee coin bhindis) fight in thin air a la ‘Matrix’ style with long bearded and thick eyebrow-ed Tantris trying to control them. Cut to Sundar.C, the influential person that he is, jotting down a few lines, and proceeding to convince Kushboo that die-hard fans, who obviously wont give two  (or three) hoots about the script or screenplay are very much there for Andrea, Laxmi and Hansika! He then makes a few phone calls and then bankrolls Aranmanai. The rest, as they say, is history.Continue reading “Aranmanai Movie Review: Ghost Movie Blues!”

Bramman: Trailer

Bramman PosterSocrates a former associate of Kamal Haasan has now turned filmmaker himself with Bramman. This Tamil film features actor,director and producer M.Sasikumar in the lead. Lavanya Tripathi who’s worked in a few Hindi and Telugu films makes her entry into Tamil Cinema with Bramman. The film also features Soori and Santhanam too and is produced by K.Manju and Anto Joseph. Bramman has music by Devi Sri Prasad while Jomon T.John is the DOP and Raja Muhammed is the editor.Continue reading “Bramman: Trailer”

Inga Enna Solludhu: Trailer

Inga Enna SolluthuDirector Vincent Selva has been making Tamil films for a long time but is mostly known for the 2 films he made with VijayPriyamudan and Youth, apart from Jithan (the Tamil remake of Gayab). Of late he has been out of the radar though he has been making the sporadic small film on and off. He is now ready with his new film Inga Enna Solludu (what does it say here?) and the film has been in the news from the time it got announced as it has VTV Ganesh making a transition as hero. Continue reading “Inga Enna Solludhu: Trailer”

Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal: Trailer

Idhu Kathirvelan KadhalS.R.Prabhakaran made his entry into filmmaking with the popular Tamil movie Sundarapandian (2012). He is now ready with his second film- Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal which is produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin‘s Red Giant Movies. Udhayanidhi had made his debut as hero with Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (2012), a popular rom-com directed by M.Rajesh. Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal has Nayantara as the female lead and she is on a roll right now with the back to back success of Raja Rani and Arrambam in 2013. The film also has Santhanam in a prominent role and considering that the Udhayanidhi-Santhanam duo were successful with OKOK, expectations are for a similar experience this time as well. The rest of the star cast includes Chaya Singh, Saranya Ponvannan, Aadkulam Naren, Mayilsamy etc.Continue reading “Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal: Trailer”

Salala Mobiles: Sneak Peek

Salala MobilesSharath A.Haridaasan who has made numerous short films & ad films and also known for his entrepreneurial pursuits is now all set with the upcoming release of his debut Malayalam feature film, Salala Mobiles. Produced by Anto Joseph and featuring Dulquer Salmaan and Nazriya Nazim in the lead, Salala Mobiles also features Jacob Gregory, Siddique, Geetha, Janardhanan, Tini Tom etc.Continue reading “Salala Mobiles: Sneak Peek”

Veeram Movie Review: Celebrate this Pongal “Thala” Style

Veeram First LookThis Pongal at the very outset appeared to be special, what with ‘Thala’ Ajith’s Veeram clashing with ‘Ilayathalapathy’ Vijay’s Jilla. While this is not the first time that the two popular Tamil actors are aiming for top honours with their festival release at the same time, this is the first time their films are clashing in the last 6 years. That in itself makes this contest worthwhile for not just the fans of these 2 actors, but also for all those who follow Tamil Cinema seriously. Close on the heels of the announcement of Arrambam (then untitled and code named as Thala 53), Ajith ended up signing for Veeram, a film to be directed by ‘Siruthai’ Siva and produced by the veteran production house, Vijaya Productions. The actual production of the film started only post the release of Billa 2, and we had Ajith juggling between the shoot of Arrambam and Veeram, two films which are as different as chalk and cheese.Continue reading “Veeram Movie Review: Celebrate this Pongal “Thala” Style”