Monday, October 30, 2006


Love stories need to come from the heart to touch our hearts. The story(i.e. the romance) should take centrestage and make us care about the characters for a love story to work. That becomes almost impossible when you have a hero who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “low-key” and tries to upstage everything else in his quest to project himself as the next Rajnikanth. That’s Vallavan’s biggest problem though the weak screenplay and lackluster characterization share the credit for the film’s failure.

Its love at first sight for Valluvan(Simbhu) when he spots Swapna(Nayanthara) at the temple. Learning that she is a lecturer at his college and is 3 years older than him does nothing to dampen his feelings and he woos her. She reciprocates his feelings soon but turns out the age difference is a bigger issue for her. She breaks up with him and to make things worse, Valluvan’s past, in the form of his schoolmate Geetha(Reema), comes back to haunt him.

In Manmadhan and Thotti Jaya, Simbhu had conveyed the impression that he could cut down his mannerisms to suit the character. But here he is back in full finger-swishing, camera-mugging, philosophy-spouting, punch-dialog-mouthing mode. And it is intolerable. Particularly after Reema enters the picture, almost every sequence has him walking in slo-mo, reeling off long dialogs hyperactively or grinning condescendingly after throwing a challenge. Without another director to rein him in, he is completely over-the-top and frequently gets on our nerves. Not to mention his aping Rajnikanth at every given opportunity. From the dialog just before his introduction to morphing his face into Rajni’s, he leaves us in no doubt as to who he wants to be.

We’ve seen a number of romances run into problems because of ego, religion, caste, social status, etc. in Tamil cinema but this is one of the few times age is used as the stumbling block. That gives the romance some freshness but we soon realize that it is little more than a gimmick. Problems arise because of Nayanthara’s principles on the issue rather than any analysis of why the age difference might create problems. Simbhu also addresses the usual infatuation/love question by deglamorizing himself as he woos Nayanthara. This makes sense(and leads to the wonderful, remixed Kaadhal Vandhiruchu… song sequence) but the point when he reveals himself makes no sense considering his reason for putting on the disguise in the first place. But the above 2 touches to the romance, along with Santhanam’s one-liners and another couple’s activities, do keep us engaged.

The film then abandons the love story as Simbhu walks down memory lane to remember his romance with Reema in school. Absolutely nothing rings true in this romance and everything is extreme. Reema’s character is completely over-the-top but there is always the possibility that she is psychotic. Since this is a flashback, her behavior is acceptable as the setup for a strong female villain for Simbhu to go against. Simbhu bending over backwards to please her is what makes the whole thing unrealistic and totally unbelievable. Nobody would ever go through what Reema puts him through. And then he does a 180 and goes to the other, chauvinistic end of the scale so he can insult her.

In theory, the film’s pace should have picked up as Reema comes back from the past to clash with Simbhu. But the screenplay does not do a competent job, merely leading to a couple of weak confrontation scenes between the two. Padaiyappa and Neelambari, these two are not! The completely unnecessary and vulgar Ammaadi Aathaadi… (with T.Rajendar making an appearance at the end) too does its part to completely destroy the little tension there is.

Nayanthara looks great sometimes and a little too ordinary at other times and its her pottu that makes all the difference. Poor Reema… She initially looks pale and washed out in the attempt to look like a school girl. She makes us get over it with her performance in the flashback but then fails at that too as her acting becomes as over-the-top as her character after the flashback ends. Sandya hangs out with Simbhu a lot but barring one scene, has no impact on the story. Santhanam makes us laugh with one-liners delivered in his usual style.

Yuvan’s soundtrack supports the film well. Loosu Penne… is quite catchy and even its lyrics make sense in the context of the film. Nayanthara and Simbhu have a good time in Vallavaa…, another good duet. The Kaadhal Vandhiruchu… remix is well-placed and features some good choreography as Simbhu abandons his usual style and tries to dance clumsily. Both Hip Hip Hooray… and Podu Aattam Podu… look grand with the huge number of dancers on screen. Ammaadi Aathaadi… has some nifty visual touches but sounds and looks crass.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Continuing the tradition for the third year in a row, we had the Halloween party at our place today. We had more participants than last year and so, as you can see from the photo above, more jack-o-lanterns. But with a couple of newbies and some of the kids attempting carving for the first time, the jack-o-lanterns were a bit more conservative compared to the last couple of years.

After the pumpkin carving, we dressed the kids up in their costumes. With superheroes, princesses, an astronaut, a monster and a pumpkin, they sure made a cute and colorful bunch! Now all thats left is to go trick or treating with Kavya and Karthik Tuesday night...

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remakes - I

Its déjà vu time in Bollywood as old classics are being upgraded and brought back to the screen for the new generation. Farhan Akhtar’s Don, with Shah Rukh Khan, has just been released while Ram Gopal Verma has started filming his version of Sholay (this one’s supposed to be set against the backdrop of the Bombay underworld, RGV’s favorite subject). No such remakes have been announced yet in Tamil cinema too but there has been talk of remaking old Rajni movies like Billa. Vijay has supposedly even picked Murattu Kaalai as his choice if he were to star in a Rajni film remake.

Remakes ofcourse aren’t new to us. Just that so far, remakes meant remakes of films from other languages. Our directors have been looking to other languages for inspiration for a long time. And a number of our actors and actresses (some more than others!) have relied on remakes to give them box office success.

It’s easy to see why remakes are so popular. The source films, usually successes, provide a pre-packaged stories(and often screenplays, scripts and songs too!) that have been accepted by a sizeable number of viewers. Viewer tastes are difficult to judge but the director of a remake already has in hand, a story that has been accepted by viewers. So his job comes down to changing the screenplay to suit his target viewer sensibilities. The size of that job varies depending on the language of the source film. The task becomes pretty simple when remaking films from other South Indian languages since the culture and hence, viewer tastes, are pretty similar. So the changes that need to be made when adapting it to a film from one of those languages are pretty minor.

But these minor changes play a big factor in the remake’s success. While what viewers enjoy is probably similar from one state to the other, how they want it presented differs widely. For instance, loudness, whether in the heroism, comedy or sentiments, are a trademark of Tamil and Telugu films while Malayalam films are known to be more natural and subtle. Remakes made without these considerations in mind are bound to fail.

And then there are the people involved in making a film. Everyone (the actor, the actress, the director and the music director to name a few), plays a significant part in the film. They bring in their style, their experience, their connection to the audience, etc. to the film. In other words, each of them adds their own unique touch to the film. Additionally, there are the dynamics of the team when these people work together. But the remake replaces one or more of these people. The new people are ofcourse talented and have their own style but it is not necessary that they fit the film or its characters and they work as well together. When they don’t, the remake fails.

I cannot think of a single remake that I liked better than the original. The remake could be a very good film on its own but when compared to the original, there is something that keeps it a notch below. Naayagan, Avvai Shanmugi(yes, I do consider it to be a remake, whatever Kamal may say!) and Perazhagan would probably qualify as very good remakes. Seenu, Engirundho Vandhaan and Rishi would count among the worst. Chandramukhi and Ghajini would fall somewhere in the middle. They definitely didn't recreate the magic of their respective originals but managed to include other things not found in the original, that made the films work as a whole. And then there are movies like Pattiyal, Gilli, Jayam - remakes that I really liked but whose originals I haven’t seen. I'm not sure how much my opinion of these movies would change if I saw the originals.

So go ahead and let me know the movies you consider the best and the worst remakes. And yes, I'd like to know if there are any remakes you think are better than the original...

To be continued...

Monday, October 23, 2006


Considering that his previous film Iyarkai(which was also his first film) was a love triangle, director Jhananathan has been bold in selecting a heavier, more ambitious and more topical subject for his follow-up feature E. But at the end of the film, after a convoluted screenplay, some uneven characterization and an overblown climax, we feel let down that he has just managed to trivialize the important issue that he selected.

E(Jeeva) lives with his grandmother in the slums, doing anything people ask him to do, as long as the money is right. Jyothi(Nayanthara), a dancer in a hotel, moves into the house opposite his and develops a liking towards him. One of the men who uses E regularly is Dr.Ramakrishna (Ashish Vidyarthi), a popular doctor who helps the poor by offering them free treatment. But in reality, he is developing a virus that could be used as a weapon and performs his research on patients who come to him for treatment.

E sure aims bigger than most Tamil movies as it tackles issues like biological warfare and pharmaceutical companies using the poorer, illiterate masses in the Third World countries as unwitting research subjects. But having picked this topic, it fails to do justice to it. It barely skims the surface of the issue and is frustrating because of that. The duppanguthu songs and the romance and the wisecracks are fine initially. But as the movie proceeds, we expect the issue to take centerstage. Instead, the focus increasingly turns to Jeeva and the movie then becomes about his character and the tough choices he has to make.

Jeeva here is certainly a very interesting protagonist. Along the lines of Tamil cinema heroes recently, he walks on the wrong side of the law and does so without trying to justify it. We are frequently surprised at his actions and behavior be it towards Nayanthara or Pasupathy. His romance with Nayanthara reflects this. The two are interesting characters very different from the usual hero and heroine in Tamil movies and the romance exploits this. While she firmly believes that she can change him, he is unable to change for the sake of love. This naturally leads to fireworks. Though the romance starts off weak, the two then have some very interesting conversations and meetings.

While the trend in Tamil cinema is to produce mostly feel-good films, Jananathan can be applauded for presenting what could be termed a “feel-bad film”. The main theme of patients being unwitting guinea pigs in illegal research is scary enough to make us view every doctor with doubt. The fact that even a few bad apples in the medical profession are enough for the scenario to come true and the truth behind some of Ashish Vidyarthi’s statements make the movie scary. There are individual scenes, like Jeeva’s trip to the morgue, that turn our stomachs with their depiction of the conditions of the place and the treatment meted out to the inhabitants. And on a physical level, there are a couple of close-ups that made me wince and avert my eyes.

We are used to our filmmakers dumbing down any new concepts that they present to the viewers. So the extravagant graphics that show how the drugs work are acceptable. We can even overlook the doctor naming his project with the not-so-subtle title “Project Bio War”! But the characterization of the bad guys could have used a little subtlety. Ashish Vidyarthi is so blatant about his acts that we feel someone so stupid could not have done all this! The movie also stumbles badly when it enters sci-fi territory towards the end. The path to a lab is so futuristic and unreal that it takes away from the realism Jhananathan had strived to bring out so far. And the final scene, with Jeeva smiling at the camera, is possibly the worst way to convey the turn of events, considering the seriousness of the issue.

Jeeva cements his reputation as a dependable performer here. He has become one of those actors who can transform himself into the character and be completely believable. With a disheveled appearance and great body language, he is completely at home as E. There is more “acting” here and he is not as natural as he was in Dishyum but he is definitely impressive. Nayanthara has a tough time fitting in with the other residents of the slum. There were reports she’s lost weight but that must’ve been after this film! She still looks plump and her moves in the Kala Kala… dance remind us of Ghajini. She looks good even sans makeup though. Pasupathy is solid as always in a role that requires him to be immobile a lot of the time. Ashish plays the doctor just as he plays any other villain and the glasses make his job easy. Karunas doesn’t try too hard for laughs and so is tolerable.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Coming Soon - Varalaaru, Vallavan

Recently, we’ve had several films undergo problems that affected their release. But Varalaaru (previously Godfather) easily takes the crown for the most-delayed film in recent times. I remember talking about the release of Anniyan and Godfather in the same post on this blog over a year ago. But while Anniyan has come and gone, Godfather, after a name change to take advantage of the tax exemption for Tamil movie titles, will finally see the light of day only tomorrow. But the timing worked out since it is the only film with a really big-name star releasing this Diwali.

The film has some strong names behind it, which makes these delays all the more surprising. Ajith, who is considered the actor with the biggest and most loyal fan base after only Rajnikanth, is starring in three roles. The actor is currently on his comeback trail and Varalaaru's success is quite important. Based on the initial rumors and the promos, one of the roles seems to be that of an old man while another is that of a eunuch. Not much more is known about the story though. Paired with him is Asin, definitely one of the top and most sought-after heroines today, after her turn in Ghajini.

The film is helmed by K.S.Ravikumar, a director with an enviable hit ratio. He has made hit films with actors like Rajni and Kamal and is an expert at creating fast-paced, masala films that work at the box-office. But most importantly for Varalaaru, he is the man who have Ajith his last bonafide hit in Villain. Music is scored by A.R.Rahman, whose Tamil albums have almost become rarities. Though the album is pretty lackluster with no real hit numbers, Rahman’s name on the credits always adds gloss to a film. Adding more gloss is P.C.Sriram, who is behind the camera.

Going up against Varalaaru is Vallavan, Simbhu’s directorial debut. Though Manmadhan is widely believed to have been ghost-directed by him, Vallavan is his official first film as director. After facing its own share of problems, that film is also poised to hit the screens tomorrow.

This film too has a 3 associated with it – it’s the number of heroines Simbhu has. Leading the group is Nayanthara, who, with 3 movies, is undoubtedly this Diwali’s queen at the movies. Giving her company is Reema Sen, who is being called a lucky actress because of the box-office success of her movies so far. The third heroine is Sandhya, in her third film after Kaadhal and Dishyum. According to Simbhu, the film deals with three time periods in his life. One of them is school life and this seems to be the segment where Sandhya is paired with him.

Vallavan was most in the news for complaints from its producer that Simbhu had gone way over budget. Simbhu was accused of the same in Manmadhan(the reasons then were his insistence in getting cameos from expensive actresses like Mandira Bedi) and looks like he hasn’t changed. From the looks of the trailer, the movie does have an expensive and grand look, especially in the song sequences. So let’s hope the money was well-spent.

Working in Vallavan's favor is the fact that its the only film whose soundtrack is a hit. Simbhu and Yuvan Shankar Raja proved in Manmadhan that they shared a good rapport and looks like YSR has come through for Simbhu again. Loose Penne... is already a huge hit and the picturization might make hits out of a couple of more numbers too.

There are 5 other movies opening for Diwali but the big fight seems to be between the Ultimate Star and the Little Superstar. Lets wait and see who creates fireworks at the box-office…

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Next Gen - The Heroines

The idea of doing a ‘Next Generation’ post for our heroines came from the comments section of the post on the young heroes. But making this short list turned out to be quite tough since the positions of our heroines is so different from the positions of our heroes. But then again, it was more fun too :-)

Most importantly, Tamil cinema is unabashedly hero-centric. It’s the heroes who bring in the crowds to the theaters and the heroines are usually little more than props in a movie. The bigger the hero, the smaller the heroine’s role. So their survival usually depends more on the heroes (their chemistry with them, the fate of the movies where they’ve been paired with them, etc) rather than on their own looks or talent. There’s also the sheer number of contestants since every other movie these days seems to have a new, pretty young thing as its heroine.

But inspite of this, we’ve had a number of heroines make a mark in the past. They are the ones who pair up with the biggest stars but also get movies where they get the chance to play important roles. They have their own fans and play a significant part in the movies’ success. Going backwards from today I would pick Jo, Simran, Kushboo and Revathi to be the top heroines of the last 15 years or so.

With that in mind, here are my predictions for the 5 actresses of today who have the biggest probability of making a mark in the next generation of Tamil cinema. In other words, these actresses haven’t reached the position held by those heroines I mentioned earlier but have the best chance of doing so.

5. Pooja
Here’s an actress whose time is due. I’ve been rooting for her ever since she stole the show from Amoga in Jay Jay but its only now that she finally seems to be getting noticed. After a line of flops, Pattiyal proved that she’s not really jinxed and she has a few films lined up. A couple of more hits, and she’ll be in the running for the top spot.

4. Nayantara
Considering that her first 2 movies were with Sarath and Rajni, I’m surprised that Nayan’s come this far. Our younger heroes are known for sidelining heroines who’ve acted with more senior heroes (Meena comes to mind) but Nayan seems to be doing the balancing act well (this Diwali she has movies with Sarath, Simbhu and Jeeva). But I think her ‘senior’ tag will still work against her and she does have a mature look that makes her look older than most younger heroes.

3. Bhavana
Just her lineup of movies makes Bhavana the next big thing in Tamil cinema. While she is cute enough for the light romances, Bala’s Naan Kadavul offers her the chance to be taken seriously as an actress too. If she continues to keep up this balancing act and keeps away from the glamour route, she could end up as her generation’s Revathi.

2. Trisha
She is definitely pretty but I think the biggest factor in Trisha’s current standing in Tamil cinema, is luck. She’s been incredibly lucky(or sensible) in picking films that end up as hits while rejecting – or not being considered for – similar films that eventually flop. Consider Saamy and Arul. Unakkum Enakkum and Mazhai. She’s yet to prove herself as a great actress or dancer and hasn’t so far had a film that could be called hers. But time is on her side…

1. Asin
She is the only actress who has proved herself so far and that makes me place her at the top of the list. She is cute, she can act, she is great at comedy and she seems to be the heroine of choice for the biggest stars today. Those were the aspects that characterized the top heroines of the past in their earlier days and they should help Asin reach that top spot in the future also.

Sabaash... Seriyaana Poatti!

Friday, October 13, 2006

3 New Reviews

Reviews for Manadhodu Mazhaikkaalam, Perarasu and Jaambavaan are now online @ bbreviews.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thanmatra / Ong-Bak

These 2 movies are rather strange candidates to be grouped together for reviews. Just that I felt that one was a movie for lovers of acting while the other was a movie for lovers of action...


Thanmatra is an affecting tale of a man afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and his family’s handling of the situation. Held up by an amazing performance by Mohanlal, the film is an intimate and close look at the effect of the terrible disease.

Like some of the best Malayalam films of the past, Thanmatra is effective because it is not showy. Mohanlal is an everyman with a loving family, a regular government job and grand ambitions for his son. His downward spiral because of the disease is captured naturally and when he is under the grip of the illness, there are no artificial situations or cinematic circumstances created to illustrate its effect. Things are presented as they are.

We’re used to acting being expressive. Loud expressions, voice modulation and grand gestures are what usually make a performance memorable. But Mohanlal here is required to do the opposite. He needs to be stone-faced and inexpressive. He needs to be almost immobile. His character’s mind is blank and he needs to reflect that in his performance. It is possibly the most difficult thing to do in acting and that is why it is such a great performance. With a blank expression, a fixed smile, slurred speech and sagging shoulders, Mohanlal is scarily believable as someone who has no idea what is going on around him. It is one of those performances where you go beyond admiring the performance of the artist and you feel for the character instead.

Thanmatra is so effective because it doesn’t exploit tragedy. Yes, Mohanlal is afflicted with a terrible illness but the film doesn’t try to squeeze any more sadness out of it than what naturally happens. It surrounds him with people who love him and would do anything for him. Atleast in that, he is lucky. As his son tells him a happy news only to be rewarded with a “Who are you?” or his father tearfully wishes he could have his son back for a single second, we feel for them as much as we feel for Mohanlal.

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

If you are tired of the obviously-fake, wire-fu stunts(however good they may look) of recent Asian films and the special-effects-filled stunts of the Hollywood films and want a throwback to the raw stunts of the Bruce Lee films, then Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is the film for you. Filled wall-to-wall with fight sequences, it’s the film martial arts lovers were waiting for.

The “no wires, no stunt doubles, no computer graphics” proclamation that the film proudly makes is its biggest strength. All the jumps, leaps, falls, hits and kicks are performed by the film’s hero Tony Jaa himself and there are enough slo-mo repeats and multiple camera angles to prove it. That adds to the thrill.

Like District B13, this film too has an exhilarating chase sequence. Designed to showcase Jaa’s agility and skill, it has him jumping through barbed wire, stepping on people’s heads, leaping over cars and sliding under trucks on the streets of Bangkok, all accompanied by thumping techno music. Quite exhilarating.

But unlike the French film, the chase serves as an appetizer rather than the meal here. After the chase, its simply one stunt sequence after the other. Jaa’s favorite move consists of leaping up and smacking into to his opponent with his knees and we almost feel the blows land. The fights do build up in bloodiness and intensity from one to the next so that every one of them manages to be arresting. Expectedly the fights at the end, like the one in the cave and the climactic showdown, are the best.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Next Gen

Tamil cinema’s phases can be defined by an actor duo who made a mark in each of those phases. First was the MGR-Sivaji era. That was followed by the Rajni-Kamal generation. Then came the Vijay-Ajith phase. Sure there were other successful and important actors in each of those phases but those two actors pretty much defined each phase and mentioning their names makes it immediately clear which period in Tamil cinema we are talking about.

We’re still in the Vijay-Ajith era but I think the next change of guard is happening in Tamil cinema right now. Actors from the Rajni-Kamal generation have already retired or are pretty close to retirement and the next-generation actors like Vijay, Ajith, Vikram and Surya have established themselves firmly and are now in positions where younger actors can look upto them. At the same time, in the past few years, we’ve had a number of new actors try their luck. As they are all atleast a few films old, we can now separate the one-film wonders and the ones who will stick around for a long time.

So here are my predictions for the 5 young actors who have the biggest probability of making a mark in the next generation of Tamil cinema.

5. Jeeva
I guess Jeeva is the best example for how volatile this list is. A couple of years ago, after his first few films, he definitely wouldn’t have been on the list. But Raam proved that he could act and Dishyum proved that he could act naturally. This kind of variety could help him in the long run. And having a powerful father always helps!

4. Bharath
Bharath has the best chance of ending up as the “boy-next-door hero” of his generation. A terrific dancer, he has downplayed his dance skills and instead, concentrated on likeable, down-to-earth, soft characters. He has had a good success ratio so far and if he continues in this route, he could define a niche all for himself.

3. ‘Jayam’ Ravi
If I had made this list right after Jayam, Ravi would have been at the top. He has the goods with his pleasant, decent looks and good dancing and stunt abilities. But he is yet to give a hit without his brother Raja’s help and his voice lets him down in action roles. A couple of more hits and he could solidify his position.

2. Vishal
Tamil cinema has always been kind to action heroes and Vishal seems to have earned that tag already. While he was the weakest among the 3 characters in his first film Chellame, the hype around the film benefited him and its success didn’t hurt either. Sandakkozhi saw him as an action hero and Thimiru, a film where he finally didn’t have to share screen space with other important characters, solidified that tag.

1. Arya
Of late, Tamil cinema seems to be embracing heroes who can carry off both action and romantic roles equally well and off the current young brigade, Arya seems most suited to do that. His good looks and pin-up boy status ensure his suitability for soft, romantic roles and at the same time, his looks are not the “soft, cho-chweet” kind (of say, Arvind Swamy), which means he can carry off action roles convincingly too. If he proves himself as a good actor too in Bala’s Naan Kadavul, there’ll be no stopping him.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

District B13

District B13 is probably the first movie I’m recommending on the basis of just a single sequence! It is an over-the-top, poorly-acted, simplistic French film with a plot straight out of a James Bond flick. But the few action sequences in the film make it a worthwhile watch for action movie fans.

The sequence I was talking about happens a few minutes into the movie, when the hero is chased by a bunch of bad guys. Starting with breaking down the door of his apartment, he squeezes through tight spots, jumps across stairwells, careens down ladders and leaps across rooftops with moves that would put even Jackie Chan to shame. The jumps, leaps and glides are performed with exquisite smoothness and grace and with the racy techno music in the background, the chase is truly exhilarating.

The problem is that the chase starts the movie off on such an adrenaline rush that it is impossible for what comes after that to match up to it. There are a few more stunts, gunfights and chases that are impressive on their own. In another movie, the casino raid and the two heroes' race near the end would've been standout sequences. But coming after the first chase, they end up being a little disappointing here.


Stumbled upon this photo, published a couple of weeks ago in The Hindu, when I was searching for something. Recognize the guy there? I didn't until I read the accompanying article...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Random Thots...

Netflix has announced a $1million prize to the software developer who comes up with a better system of recommending movies to customers, based on the ratings they assigned to movies they have already seen. As earlier reviews here have shown, the movies I like span a wide variety of genres. But Netflix does a pretty good job of recommending other movies for me to see. I’ve seen a few based on their recommendation and haven’t been disappointed. Will be interesting to see what the improved system does(if someone develops it ofcourse!)…

I’m usually a big fan of sitcoms on TV and rarely watch the 1-hour dramas. The only drama I even tried watching was CSI and even then, only because it was episodic rather than a continuing story. For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been watching the new NBC drama Heroes and its impressed me enough to make me look forward to it. It is about a bunch of people who have special abilities (one can see the future, once can fly, one never gets hurt, one can stop time, etc.). An Indian professor’s son is the link between them as he tries to finish his father’s research, which was on people with special powers. The way the drama is shaping up, it looks like the people will come together to save the world from a catastrophe. Its a little too violent and gruesome, especially for a 9pm show but I’m definitely hooked…

One of the books I reviewed on here was Dearly Devoted Dexter. The protagonist in that (and in the first book in that series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter) was a blood splatter specialist in the crime lab, who also moonlighted as a serial killer. That book was violent enough to put me off a little bit but I still think that the concept of having a serial killer as the narrator was an interesting new twist on the serial killer genre. Now Showtime has developed a series Dexter based on that character. I received an email from M80, the company that I think is behind the marketing of Dexter, offering me a sneak peek of the pilot episode. But since I’m not a big fan of watching anything on the computer, I’m gonna wait until Showtime’s free preview weekend next week to check it out…

Emttan Magan is slowly turning into a superhit. With movies like Paarijaatham, Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi and now Emttan Magan becoming huge hits, it looks like family-friendly, clean fare is back in fashion. Good for us...

Heard from back home that Ramya Krishnan is out of Sun TV’s Thanga Vettai. Her replacement is actress Kaniha, who has appeared in movies like Five Star, Edhiri and Autograph. Ramya brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to her job as host while Kaniha in all her roles so far has been the silent, homely type. Wonder how she's doing…

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Krrish, Rakesh Roshan's sequel to his Close Encounters of the Third Kind/E.T/Spider-man rip-off, Koi Mil Gayaa, is being advertised as Indian cinema's first superhero tale. It is good start for the genre and gives us a superhero easy to root for. But one wishes it gave us more of its superhero and less of its romantic hero.

The film initially reminds us of Tarzan more than anything else. As Hrithik saves Priyanka by flying from tree to tree, enters her camp at night or amazes her by summoning the birds by cooing to them, they might as well have been named Tarzan and Jane. The romance is perfunctory and its only the comedy element, where Priyanka is made to think Hrithik is a ghost, that keeps the film afloat.

I'm not sure there's been another superhero tale where the superhero enters the picture so late! Sure we see that Krishna has superpowers but Krrish makes an appearance well into the second half only. While we do catch glimpses of Krishna's special abilities in the first half, romance plays the bigger part there. So action lovers have to wait.

As a superhero story, Krrish does the job and the basic ingredients that go into any superhero story have been done well. The reason behind Krrish having super powers, the necessity of it being a secret identity, the origins of the mask (and why it is rather incomplete), the presence of a villain with grand plans - the movie gets its basics right. The only problem is that the bad guy isn't powerful enough to make a strong enough villain for a superhero. Naseer's plans may be megalomaniacal but he isn't. So the film lacks that grand, final showdown.

If Koi Mil Gayaa was a showcase for Hrithik the actor, Krrish is a showcase for Hrithik the stud. As he runs in slo-mo with his muscles rippling and his hair flying behind him, he seems to be modelling for an ad rather than acting in a film. As the camera lingers over his body in the sleeveless, low-cut vests, it almost feels like softcore porn for women! He overdoes the "I'm-so-good-and-innocent" schtick at a couple of places but looks the part as the superhero. Priyanka tries hard to be funny but is no natural. She is more believable when she is serious but is given little to do in the second half. The actress playing her friend and Archana Puran Singh, who plays her boss, take top honors in the overacting department.

One of the advantages of Krrish making a late appearance is that the special effects don't feel overdone. Rakesh Roshan hasn't been overambitious and so whats on screen is good. Hrithik's biggest power is being able to jump over long distances and those have been handled well since they look quite smooth. Since he is superstrong, his fights are pretty one-sided but enough visual tricks have been used to keep them interesting.