Don’t Breathe (2016) Movie Review: Don’t Miss It

Right off the bat, I’m not a huge fan of the horror/thriller genre. Although I’ve seen the Jason series, gone through most of the Freddy Kruger list and even convinced myself to see 5 of the 7 Saw flicks, ll to stay with the list and less fun-tertainment.Continue reading “Don’t Breathe (2016) Movie Review: Don’t Miss It”

Shut In: Trailer

shut-in-posterShut In is a forthcoming English-language French psychological thriller film directed by Farren Blackburn and written by Christina Hodson. The film stars Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, David Cubitt and Jacob Tremblay. The film is set to be released on November 11, 2016 in the U.S while the India release is expected on 18th November.Continue reading “Shut In: Trailer”

Don’t Breathe (2016) Movie Review: A Breathless Experience

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Directed by – Fred Alvarez           Written by – Fred Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues

I have always held the belief that a good horror movie is one that has the ability to shit the pants out of the audience through a combination of the 3 S’s – situation, settings, and suspense, without the need to rely entirely on gore and jump scares (while there has to be violence, the audience shouldn’t be reacting just to the nature of violence, rather the circumstances that lead to it). Classic horror films like The Haunting, Les Diaboliques, The Omen (not the over the top remakes of these films) and even initial slasher films like Halloween had that quality.Continue reading “Don’t Breathe (2016) Movie Review: A Breathless Experience”

Kshanam Movie Review: Deftly Handled Thriller and a Case-Study Movie for Telugu Cinema

There used to be a time when I would be very excited whenever I would hear anything positive about a Telugu film. After all I have been watching and tracking Telugu films for ages now, having seen all kinds of films over the years. But as mentioned in one of my earlier reviews as well, in the recent past my expectation levels have reduced considerably, also I find it hard to get excited whenever I hear of any new Telugu film, thanks to the sharp fall in standards. But despite all this I still try to ensure that I remain committed to viewing and reviewing Telugu films as part of my endeavor to keep myself fully updated on regional cinema. Of course once in a while a small/medium film like Bale Bale Magadivoy or Nenu Sailaja does come along which manages to put a smile on our faces, managing to defy the odds and surprise the audience and trade. But then these are exceptions and can never be predicted.Continue reading “Kshanam Movie Review: Deftly Handled Thriller and a Case-Study Movie for Telugu Cinema”

Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu (1990): ‘The axe forgets; the tree remembers.’

Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu (In this Cold Morning) is termed as a murder mystery film, but to term it is a murder mystery would be being lazy on our part. Directed by Joshiy and written by Padmarajan, the film offers an interesting perspective for the audience as to how different directors bring a certain style and have their own take on a screenplay.Continue reading “Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu (1990): ‘The axe forgets; the tree remembers.’”

Airlift Movie Review: The Film Leaves an Impact Without Much Fuss

There is an innate calmness and simplicity about Airlift. No matter how big the scale or how herculean the task at hand is, Airlift goes about its business with an extraordinary easiness. There is no patriotic chest thumping (may be a little bit towards the end), no heart wrenching portrayal of war and its associated grief, no screeching or shouting. Most of the frames in Airlift are fittingly raw (sometimes eerily ‘still’) and heartwarmingly subtle. And, this is the biggest win for director Raja Krishna Menon and his team. They manage to tell an extraordinary story of courage and survival with an authentic, real-life ordinariness.Continue reading “Airlift Movie Review: The Film Leaves an Impact Without Much Fuss”

Hate Story 3 Movie Review: This One Deserves all the Hatred in Your Heart

There are some films which are so bad and unpalatable that you want to find the makers, hold them by their collars and whisper in their ears, “Thank you! That was so disgusting, I actually kind of liked it!” Hate Story 3 falls under this rare, coveted category – nauseating and headache-inducing to such an extent that you want to thank God for all the good things in your life.Continue reading “Hate Story 3 Movie Review: This One Deserves all the Hatred in Your Heart”

Main Aur Charles Movie Review: Suave and Stylish, but Where is the Substance?

MAC 1Director Prawaal Raman’s Main Aur Charles is riddled by an inherent dual conflict. As a viewer, if you are familiar with chronicles of the (in)famous ‘bikini killer’ or ‘the serpent’ Charles Shobhraj, you will find Raman’s film to be devoid of sufficient thrill and excitement. On the other hand, if you are ignorant about Charles Shobhraj, you will find Main Aur Charles to be confused, incoherent and incapable of providing any deep insight into the life and times of perhaps one of the most dreaded serial killers in recent times. It is this ambivalent nature of Main Aur Charles that eventually pulls it down, even if it does have its share of merits and a great degree of style and charm.Continue reading “Main Aur Charles Movie Review: Suave and Stylish, but Where is the Substance?”

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…