Life, as we know it, is never going to be the same again and who knows what a post-Coronavirus world will look like. Could there be a better time to air out our most controversial and unpopular opinions about the movies? We think not.
My most controversial film review? That's easy. It's the one for Mani Ratnam's widely detested Kadal. (The one for the only slightly less detested Kaatru Veliyidai would be a close second.) As someone who has increasingly found this filmmaker's post-Iruvar career far more interesting than his beloved work from earlier, I knew I would be in the minority with my (relatively) positive take on this flawed story of God and Satan fighting for a young man's soul. But I was totally unprepared for the vehemence of the reactions to my review. Interesting, is all I'll say!
It's been more than three years, but the more I think about it, the more I vehemently dislike Nitesh Tiwari's Dangal, that rare (super) critically acclaimed and commercially (super) successful sports movie. Other than the subject itself – the Phogat family and the world of Indian wrestling – I thought most aspects of Dangal were jarringly self-conscious ("look, Haryanvi sexism," "look, strong-minded daughter," "look, evil coach"). Most of all, I couldn't stand Aamir Khan's performance ("look, immersive acting"); he plays the role of an omnipresent, overbearing father with the practiced intensity of a superstar who visibly wears that one-film-in-three-years gravitas.
Since the world, as we know it, is ending, I will admit that I bought into the love story in Arjun Reddy. It's problematic and convoluted but also startling and seductive. Vijay Deverakonda is wholly convincing as the angry, angsty lead. Arjun is not a man I would want to know in life but on screen, he made for compelling company. There, I said it!!
My reviews are anything but objective. When I review Kannada films, the context is Kannada films and this may lead a few viewers into feeling that I cut a lot of slack for the vision of the film alone and not necessarily the execution of it. Avane Srimannarayana worked for me in parts. The problems were evident, however, the intent, attempt and vision (again, in parts) were praiseworthy. "It was self-indulgent!" – may be, but that's not uncommon to Narayana himself, I guess.
I did not understand the love for and the hype around The Shape Of Water. I thought despite the 'oooh interesting'-ness of it all, it was weird and child-like, in the wrong way. Not gonna lie, every time the 'monster' came on screen, all I could think was 'Man in a suit man in a suit. Man in a suit'. The villain was lazily written and the conflicts felt really dumb. The film didn't move me at all, and I just didn't buy into Guillermo del Toro's universe. 🤷🏽♀️ Sorry?
I'm a big fan of Lijo Jose Pellissery, but the way Don Palathara's Savam gets brushed aside in favour of Ee Ma Yau feels unfair to me. While the latter had more finesse and signature-Lijo energy. Savam, in my opinion, is a better film as far as death and the odd business of funerals go. In fact, Savam uses the camera more meaningfully and interestingly than Ee Ma Yau, and I'd choose it over Lijo's vast, beautiful frames on any given day.
Okay, I'm going to bite the bullet and spit it out today. I hate every bit of Upendra's Om. I don't understand the craze behind it. It's considered a classic work in Kannada cinema and yet, I don't see any amount of value in it. I might be taken to the gallows on social media for this, never mind, let me say it – Shiva Rajkumar is a better rowdy in Prem's Jogi. Om is just a soggy sandwich of crime and noise.
I believe Saawariya is Bhansali's best work to date. A dreamscape where without referencing it in dialogue (cough, Sooryavanshi), Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians thrive together, where violence can be solved through song, happiness and love blossom through glances, and flowing drapes and keys hanging from shirts give more away about the character than what they say and what they do. The harsh reception of the film canned the possibility of making dreams like this again. If you are going to re-watch the film, I suggest you read the short story by Dostoevsky 'White Nights' before. It adds colour to the viewing.
I'm a certified mush queen, the kind who, as a teen, watched Maine Pyaar Kiya for almost a year, every Saturday at 3.30 pm, on VCR. So, yes, I fell for Vivah, big time. Yes, it ticked all the tropes of a Rajshri film, it was cheesy, it was old-world… but it worked, for me. The utter innocence of Poonam and Prem struck a chord, despite the shudh Hindi and the 'jal' references. Somehow, in a world that was moving fast ahead, the world of Vivah seemed a throwback to a time when we all had the time to stand and stare, when holding hands was a big deal and when only a newspaper was a distraction at the dining table. And yes, I go back to it every time I read or see something about Kabir Singh, to remind myself as to why I still like Shahid Kapoor.
Trivikram Srinivas is not the genius we think he is. He simply rehashes a format that existed earlier, and built upon the genius of earlier filmmakers like Jandyala and EVV Satyanarayana. Also, most of his earlier films shamelessly copied scenes from all over the world. The least one would expect from a 'genius' is originality. For some reason, he has been touted as a philosopher and a modern 'Veda Vyasa' (!!!) when all he does is rehash the same script and themes over and over again. It is tragic that he is the most recognised writer-director of Telugu cinema in our times.
Rajinikanth is not the biggest superstar in Tamil Nadu anymore. A decade ago, his brand would keep getting bigger, even if his films flopped. But that's not the case now. He's the man who invented the limited supply model for stars by cutting down on films to just one every other year and by completely stopping interviews and endorsements. With his political plunge (or whatever it has become now), you see him several times a day. And his lineup of films now seem so crowded that a release doesn't feel like the astronomical phenomenon it used to be. Not only are stars like Vijay and Ajith beating him at this game but their films are making as much or more money as Rajini's. I mean he's still ONE of our biggest stars but he's certainly NOT the "only one, the Super one."