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Showing posts from 2016

Arrival: A nice linguistic fiction

-----SPOILER ALERT----- Arrival was an amazing experience. Firstly, it is the first alien film I have seen, in which they are not here to kill us.  That itself is a breath of fresh air.  Given that it is not about killing each other, we need to communicate. This leads to several interesting ideas.  Would we be able to communicate with an alien species?  Many linguists believe that communication between people speaking different languages on earth was possible because there are a lot of basic similarities between any two languages.  Some also believe that this "Universal grammar" is wired in the brain.  Now a sentient species from another planet might have a very different brain.  So, it does not seem obvious that we might be able to communicate with each other.  In the movie, however, different the language might have looked, followed a "Universal grammar" similar to languages on earth.  Notice that the book written by Louise (the protagonist) had "Univera

Godavari: reliving 2d life in 3d

Godavari is one of the first few Telugu movies I watched and I enjoyed it a lot. I think it is one of the best romantic movies. The love is so mutual. Most love stories are one sided. The guy or the girl is perfect (at least in the other person's eyes) and it is this perfection that they fall in love with. So much so that they are afraid to compare their loved ones with the moon, as even the moon is tainted! I think the use of "Shwetambara dhare devi" in the Malayalam movie Thattathin marayathu is the peak. In this film Godavari , neither are perfect. However, they fit each other well. Moreover, there is very little importance for the physical attraction between the two. The love develops slowly. I mean, as slow as possible in a film. And the film ends where their love story begins. So, it is a unique love story. The setting of the movie is even better. Most of the story happens during a pilgrimage on the Godavari from Rajahmundry to Bhadrachalam. And this

Naruto; the saddest death

For me, the saddest death in Naruto, is undoubtedly, Yashamaru's death. Let me say a few words about why I think so. For me death by itself is not sad. I would in fact say that death is a blessing for the one who is dying. It is sad for those who are left behind. From that perspective I think Yashamaru's death is the saddest. Yashamaru was the only comforting figure in the life of Gaara. The moment it is revealed that the assassin who tried to kill him was that same Yashamaru was heart breaking. The way Gaara cries "Yashamaru.." still resonates in my mind. Loneliness is one of the central themes of the anime. And, that scene captures it so magnificently. One of the most touching moments in the anime. There are several other deaths for which I shed a lot of tears. Like the deaths of Haku or Zabuza or Jiraiya or Obito. But they truly shine through their deaths. As Jiraiya himself says "The true measure of a shinobi is not how he lives but how h

Naruto; My favourite anime

I am a huge fan of anime and I have watched several anime. However, no matter how many anime I watch, Naruto manages to remain my favourite. No anime could emote as much as Naruto - it makes me cry, it gives me goosebumps, it makes me laugh and so much more - and it manages to do that every time I re-watch Naruto. What is most surprising is that, there are scenes which made me genuinely scared. I was afraid what will happen to the characters I love, even though it is obvious that nothing will happen to them. For example, Naruto's and Sasuke's first confrontation with Orochimaru at Shi-no-mori (forest of death) is so scary. And not just this fight, there are so many fights where you feel that fear. I quoted this example, because this fight scared me the most. I don't remember getting scared while watching other anime. Anime in general are good at making you cry or give you adrenaline rush, but this is unique to Naruto. There are anime which has made me cry as mu

Is stalking a valid form of romance?

Swathi, a 24-year old Infosys employee was murdered on June 24, 2016 at the Nungambakkam railway station in Chennai  allegedly by a stalker whom she refused . This ga ve birth to several discussions about the portrayal of stalking in films, romanticizing stalking in films, the effect of these on society, how and why stalking is not a valid form of romance and so on. There were even petitions asking directors and actors to stop this. Personally, I find the portrayal of stalking as a form of romance and its overuse distasteful. But, I was uncomfortable signing the petition, as I felt that would be exploiting the emotion to bring forward a change we always wanted. However, urged by a relative of mine I finally signed the petition. After a few days I happened to watch a Korean serial named "Boys over flowers". It is based on a Manga (Japanese comic) "hana yori dango". It is written by a woman for women - a shojo (teenage girls) manga. The story is about a poor

24; Time travel in Tamil film industry

I have seen several takes on time travel in short stories, novels, films and anime, but 24 is different from all those.  Usually, the central theme is the adverse effects of changing the past.  Given the dearth of science fiction films in India, I was happy to see the 2015 Tamil film Indru netru naalai, which did a decent job in portraying this theme.  24 does not deal with such deep moral or philosophical questions, but their take on time travel was very interesting. According to the film, when you travel in time you go into your body at that time.  So, there will never be two instances of the same person, unlike many other portrayals of time travel.  Basically, only the memories are different.  In some sense, this is similar to time travel stories where you can only send messages to the past of future.  If you are interested in this theme, I highly recommend the anime Stien's gate. This mode of time travel limits the extent to which you can travel in time, namely, you should

Mili: the best Malayalam film of the year 2015

Mili is a film about an introverted, insecure, and timid girl slowly gaining the strength to stand on her own legs.  In her childhood, she found it hard to meet the expectations people had from the daughter of a reputed Professor.  On top of it, due to the early demise of her mother and the sickness until then, she missed the support of a mother's care.  It is hinted that, her nature and lack of confidence can be attributed to her broken childhood.  Amala Paul played the role of Mili and did a wonderful job. Mili seeks the help of her father (Saikumar) or Nancy (Praveena) even for trivial issues.  Her father, concerned about her and her inability to survive in the real world, forces her to solve her issues on her own.  The dilemma whether to help her or not is shown wonderfully in the movie.  Often, he helps her indirectly through Nancy, his student and Mili's local guardian.  Nancy is very supportive and like an elder sister to Mili.  At the same time, Nancy is sometimes st

The Jungle Book (2016)

The new Jungle book movie showcases amazing graphics and spectacular visuals, but I was somewhat disappointed by the film.  It failed to create an impact in me, and I blame the script. The bond between Mowgli and the wolf pack was not developed well enough.  Thus, when Shere Khan kills Akela, which happens not long after the movie starts, I felt nothing.  I remember, this to be one of the most touching scenes when I watched Jungle Book as a kid.  For the same reason, if this movie is the first exposure to Jungle Book for someone, he/she will not get why Mowgli badly wants to avenge Akela.  This happened with one of my younger friends.  I feel, more time should have been spent on developing this bond.  I think it is a major flaw.   If you ignore this point, the movie had its moments.  I loved Bagheera and Baloo. By Source, Fair use,

Su.. Su... Sudhi Vathmeekam (Malayalam)

Su.. Su... Sudhi Vathmeekam, is a simple movie about the life of a stammerer Sudhi (Jayasurya).  The movie deals with struggles Sudhi faces in his daily life. The movie is well made and Jayasurya has acted well.  This is noteworthy, as it is so easy to overdo the stammering. It is clear from the movie that Sudhi is a very smart individual with many skills, but years of mockery and ridicule killed his confidence.  Thus, he is forced to work like a slave for Kurup Sir.  Society's attitude towards an individual has deep impact in his ability to reach his potential.  This, I feel, is the reason why we need affirmative action. Sudhi is however blessed with some close friends and a very supportive family.  The dynamics of these relationships has a big role in making this film so enjoyable.  Greagon, Sudhi's friend played by Aju Vargese, is an exceptionally good character.  He is the antithesis of Sudhi, the ever confident individual always chasing his dreams. The movie also pu

Snehaveedu (Malayalam)

Snehaveedu, the 2011 movie from the duo Mohanlal and Sathyan Anthikad, though well received in theaters, was a big let down.  It takes a good 45 minutes in a 150 minute movie to even reach the main plot. This initial stretch is filled with overused village nostalgia pills with nothing new to boast.   In one of the scenes, Mohanlal boasts how he used to be a Casanova in  his youth. And the movie stops for the interval soon after the arrival of a young boy, who claims that he is Mohanlal’s son.  The interval is well timed and promises a good second half.  But, the main plot is complete nonsense, the truth behind the boy being the worst. (If you want to know, read the spoilers section in the end).  Mohanlal vehemently denies the fatherhood throughout the movie.  Sheela is shown as a doting mother in the first half, but her behaviour indicates that she does not believe Mohanlal.  Is not trust an essential aspect in love?  Whenever confronted, she says that she trusts him, but is jus

Ki and Ka (Hindi)

Last week when I was in theatre to watch Kali (a Malayalam movie) I saw the trailer of Ki&Ka.  Seeing it is about the concept of house-husband, I immediately decided to watch it first-day-first-show. It is a concept close to my heart and something I used to discuss often with my friends during my undergraduate days. They were also excited about the idea and we often jested that we will grow into house-husbands.  If (some) men feel women have it easier and (some)  women feel men have it easier, why can't they just exchange their gender roles?  I know it is easier said than done, but can't we atleast try?  With this motivation,  I kept my promise to myself and watched Ki&Ka today, the 11am show.  And,  the film didn't disappoint me at all. I recommend this film.  The film is about Kia, a highly ambitious girl who thinks marriage chains down a women's dreams and ambitions, and Kabir, who wants to lead a life away from this pursuit of dreams and ambitions

Natholi oru cheriya meenalla (Malayalam)

Natholi oru cheriya meenalla is a 2013 Malayalam film written by Shankar Ramakrishnan and directed by V. K. Prakash. Among the people I know, very few enjoyed the film. The general opinion is quite negative. IMDB rating is just 5.5/10. However, I loved the film. I have already watched the film 4 or 5 times. People are surprised by the fact that I loved the film. They often ask "How could you like it so much?". This is my answer! There are spoilers ahead. So, those who have not watched the film and hate knowing the story, please come back after you have watched the film. But, I would say, don't worry too much. In my opinion, knowing the story is not going to make the movie less enjoyable. In fact, I hope, my article will help you enjoy the film better. I also promise that I will reveal as little as possible. The movie is about Preman (Fahad Fazil) who is an aspiring writer. However, he becomes a caretaker in an apartment to meet daily needs. He develo

Uyyala jampala (Telugu movie) and playing house

Uyyala jampala, a 2013 Telugu film, is a cute love story.  It is interesting and certainly worth watching.  However, there was one scene which stood out for me and made the movie much more than that.  It clearly illustrates that so much can be said with a single scene.  Let me describe it for you. It is a flashback into the hero's childhood.  The heroine and the hero were childhood friends.  One day, the heroine sees a mango (on a tree) and requests the hero to pluck it for her.  To this the hero replies "I will pluck it for you if you promise that you will play house with me".  Generally, girls are more interested in playing house.  Girls coax boys into playing house with the promise of some goodies.  So, I was really surprised by this reverse persuasion.  But, soon I understood the motive. As soon as they started playing house, he started treating her like a servant.  She has to serve him food, massage his legs and so on.  He just lies down and orders her arou

In defense of the Telugu film industry; An introduction

I am a Malayali (Keralite), but I LOVE Telugu movies. I can now understand Telugu well and can speak reasonably. I have spent a lot of time defending the Telugu film industry - often I had arguments even with Telugus. So, I thought I should write down my arguments once and for all, so as to make it easier for me in future. Like every industry, there are bad films in Telugu too. In fact, I believe that 90% of the movies in any industry is bad. One can just choose to ignore them. So you should not judge an industry bad just because it has bad films. If there are a handful of good movies each year, then the industry should be called good. And Telugu industry certainly qualifies. Another point is that, the high budget films try to play it safe - as the risk is higher. So, if you really want to see something different you should see the low budget films. If a certain type of low budget film makes it big, then someone might make a similar high budget film. Now let me answer the quest

Golanthara vaartha: Why is sex the most unforgivable act?

Golanthara vartha is a 1993 Malayalam film, written by Sreenivasan and directed by Sathyan Anthikad. The film stars Mammootty,Shobana, Sreenivasan and Kanaka in the main roles. The film is about Rameshan Nair (Mammootty), who strives hard to make his village an ideal place.  He is well respected throughout the village and is the go-to guy in case of any problem.  I have heard some criticisms, calling this character a typical moral police.  However, I do not agree with this.  What puts him apart, is his true concern and the effort he puts to help others.  The way he helps Karakkattil Dasan (Sreenivasan), a local goon, to mend his ways and start a small business is very impressive.  I fell in love with him. What surprised me is that, he is able to forget and forgive the past of Karakkattil Dasan,  but not of Rajani (Kanaka).  In his efforts to make Dasan a normal member of the society, Rameshan Nair with the help of others, tries to find a match for him.  This leads them to the hous

Priyamanasam (Sanskrit)

Priyamanasam is a movie about renowned Malayalam poet Unnaayi Warrier, about whom very little is known. The film is a fictional presentation of his life, based on available information. It is interesting in many ways. Unnayi Warrier is famous for his Nalacharitham aattakatha - the story of Nala, from Mahabharatha, written for Kathakali. In the film, a parallel is drawn between Nala and Undayi Warrier. The story of Nala, is a sincere love story between Nala and his love, Damayathi. Even though they were both sincere, they get separated as Nala gets cursed. The curse disfigures Nala and he becomes unrecognisable. The rest of the story describes the ordeals they go through, to finally get united. Unnayi Warrier, who loses his love due to the curse of poverty, is similar to Nala. In the movie, the final union of Nala and Damayanthi is described as a manifestation of Unnayi Warrier's dream of getting united with his love. Through his work, he was living the li

Naanu avanalla...avalu (Kannada)

Naanu avanalla...avalu is a film about struggles of a transgender based on the life of Living smile Vidya.  The film is made really well and raises many important questions.  It is a cry to not discriminate those who are different from us -  at the very least treat them more kindly. Madesha (the protagonist) exhibits girly behaviour from childhood and is attracted by clothes "meant for" girls.  He believes he is a female trapped in a male's body.  When I saw this I was haunted by many questions - especially because this is based on real experience.  Is there really something called feminine dressing?  Is there something really called feminine?  What about all the people who attribute gender differences to social conditioning?  As asked by a person in the film - what does it mean to be female(trapped in a male's body)?  Note that, this is different from being a homosexual, which is much easier to understand. What I liked the most in the movie is the relation betwe

Charlie (Malayalam)

I hated Charlie.  Dulquer Salmaan's characterization was irritating.  His scorn+contempt (puchchham) and inhuman ability to influence others reminded me of yet another irritating character - Mohanlal's character in Innathe chinthavishayam.  The hieghts of insanity is reached in this small incident in the movie -  Due to the depression caused by a break up a girl could not concentrate on the surgery and hence a kid lost his/her life.  Due to the guilt and depression caused by this incident, she lost the kid growing inside her.  This was too much for her and she decided to suicide.  At this moment Dulquer convinces her that there is so much beauty in the world by showing her Orion (the constellation).    My problem is really not with it being unrealistic.  In some sense it is trivializing the pain she was facing.  If someone is pushed so far as to attempt suicide their pain is certainly not trivial.  And it pisses me off when someone looks down on someone else's pain.