Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Review: Putham Pudhu Kaalai

On Amazon Prime Video

Five very melodramatic, very loud short films that could have worked even without the COVID theme.

Mini Review:

Why are we Indians so over the top in the drama department? Why do we need so much loud background score and music in every film we make? For a supposed 'films made during the pandemic', how and why were a camera crew inside the stories? Why are all these films so staged? Except for one film that touched me most - and that too did not have a direct connection to the pandemic - others seemed to be fake. Such a waste! 

Main Review:

I watched Social Distance which has 8 short films during the lockdown in America, and wrote about it on MoneyControl. Here is the link: 

Social Distance on Netflix 

When I was reviewing this, I realised that there were to be five Tamil short films on the Lockdown on Amazon Prime Video. Excited to watch our version, I watched the films as soon as they were released on saturday october 17.

It's already monday night (19th) and I'm struggling to understand why watching Social Distance was so much easier to watch and this was such a task. Social Distance had me feel for the characters, my cup of empathy overflowed. This made me feel too, but despair.

Pardon the comparison, but if they can use simple devices like cell phones and laptops to create eight wonderful films, why do we have an extensive editing of stories shot like they were shot like regular movies, with a camera crew et al? 

Why is it that Social Distance is able to use music gently and make films that offer emotions on a roller coaster, then we make films with choreographed dancing and singing and loud background music to tell stories?

The first story: 

An older man shoos off the household help because he has planned a naughty weekend with a lady friend. I have never wanted to slap anyone so hard as I did this very obviously grown up man literally going tee hee hee like a naughty child (i'm not even trying to say young man. 

So the premise is 'you make me feel young again' and the director turns the old man young again and the older woman into a young person. I mean how embarrassed are we to actually show an older man romancing an older woman? And why oh why do they have to dance to a song that says, 'Baby, baby!' And why are they drinking what looks like pomegranate juice gone cloudy?  

So lockdown is announced and they inadvertently get 21 days of privacy. But here we see them fighting about wet towels on the bed! Erm...

The film has one real moment when the woman admits: no one in my home has ever asked me if I wanted tea...

But the young couple needed a few tight slaps. How much overacting can you do in a short film?

The Second Story:

I loved this film, but it has nothing to do with being forced to stay indoors during the lockdown. A granddaughter comes to stay with grandpa. Why is she staying when she said they would come only to give him diwali sweets, no one knows. But she's on zoom calls (assuming people did not work on zoom calls before the lockdown!) and the grandpa interruots. From I hate grandpa to I love you and mom loves you too is a sweet jouney even though predictable. 

Trouble is, this story works even if it weren't shot during the pandemic. Sigh.

The Third Story:

Father and sister come to pick up Akka at the airport. The airport's bustling. And Akka has shown up because mother is in the ICU. Aha, I think! Finally a movie about COVID. But nopes. The mother has been in a coma. Dammit!

Then we realise amma has been home all this while. Dad is doing the dressing up of amma and taking care of her at home. If she's in a coma, does she not need help with the breathing? Is she dead already and appa is Norman Bates? That would have been a fun film, actually. But no. Alas, the old lady seems to be responding to her daughters and predictably when the youngest daughter - who is supposedly rebellious - calls, the old lady...

Ugh! this ending you can see from the International Space Station. It's that obvious. The only saving grace, is realising Suhasini Mani Ratnam wears the same powder blue kurta that I once had...

Is this film going to encourage more people to get their loved ones in coma back home from ICU care and think they're going to be cured by talking to them? Irresponsible... 

Don't worry, the sisters here are prone to a song and dance too. Thank god for the move ten seconds forward button on Prime Video.

The Fourth Story:

This is such a bizarre story about an old lady and her son (doc in quarantine) cold curing a girl's Cocaine addiction, who stops by for a lift just when lockdown is announced. 

It is not just the nightclub singer who dresses in 'nightclub goer type clothes' who overacts her addiction, but the old lady overdoes it too! The poor doc has to scream, 'Amma, that white powder is drugs-aa!'

She cured enough to say she's going to rehab. And the doc trusts her...This film does great disservice to those working tirelessly to help people get over their drug habit.

Who are these people who write such stories?

The Fifth Story:

By the time we get to this one you just want to fast forward the whole story. The film starts with someone watching a religious channel where the obviously fake guru is promising a miracle. The man looks like a gangster, smokes like a chimney and seems to be plagued by demons. Who is he, and why he's behaving like that, no clue. Then there are two gangsters (one of them watching the same channel) who are hungry, literally. They case a car supposed to be filled with money and there's a botched robbery attempt, and a dead guy revived and... 

The former dead guy is supposed to be a movie director and he takes to laughing like a maniac. I want to laugh exactly like that at executives at Amazon who have been duped into believing that this set of films is 'trendy because they've shot during the pandemic' and will bring in audiences! 

I realise that the films are so loud, I have turned the volume to minimum. I had to forward the song and dance routines (too many!), and that these five short films felt like never ending. 

What is sad that these are renowned directors (and actors) who will get away with this shoddy representation of our times. These films are so far from reality, you'd think everyone lives in perfectly art-directed bungalows and are shot bydirectors who don't know how to think of technology that is keeping the rest of of us sane during these awful times.



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Venting about Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare


A movie about women my arse! This movie should have been called:

Another OTT Movie about women empowered by smoking, drinking and taking off their inhibitions at the delivery of food.

Pretentious shit about small town again. 

I am rather benign when it comes to 'hating'. I have started looking at bad stories like how people look at dog poo on the street when they're out for an errand. You see it, you step away from it and then think thoughts like, 'What idiots! When will they learn to pick up after their dog? I wish there were police drones who could spot them ask them to be responsible!'

But here we are! Netflix's original Indian content, (and most OTT platforms want only content from 'famous' or 'known names') touted on many media sites as how amazing these stories are going to be... 

this is the tralier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as3YLG5DmL0

the sister who says, 'kuch bhi ho, hum hain tumhare liye,' is the one who drags the other by the arm and calls her 'Kulta' and 'kulakshini'! 

It could have been two sisters competing, it's not even that! it's just a hotch potch. 'Drink hai kya?' and idle, 'Women need a lonely hearts club too.'

It's a woman director so she must be right, right?


Dolly is a woman is so class conscious, she pretends she is moving to a better home, a home with AC, jaguar fittings, she has even lied about her need to work at office that 'she's only working as a hobby'.  HOW do i reconcile with the fact that she is going to make out with a delivery guy? 

Most people do not have more than necessary conversation with delivery/service people. They say thank you if they are well brought up, but beyond that no one gets talking to the delivery guys. I can get that she asks the delivery guy to come inside because he's late and he helps with the food, but I doubt she will flirt with him readily. the delivery guy may even call her 'mataji' since she's in the greater delhi area, and she could take objection to that, but no matter what these so-called writers from small town insist, women do not want to have sex with sweaty plumbers, electricians, drivers and delivery boys  Or do they? 

Kitty has enough spunk to stand up for herself in the chappal factory, but begins to cry buckets in the romance app job. Did anyone force her to choose that job? Could she not have stitched petticoats and blouses like Bollywood film heroines of yesteryear or sold her body like in Pradeep Sarkar's laaga Chunari Mein Daag...

The only honest moment in their relationship is when Kitty tells her Dollydi that Jiju was trying to feel me up, Dolly does not believe it. Or pretends it didn't happen.

Aamir Bashir the husband, the two sons, Konkona's delivery boy lover, Konkona's boss, Kitty's lover Pradeep, Kitty's friend's DJ lover, DJ's brother and his entire Hindu gang are all the important male characters in the film. ALL are flawed and bad. 

Konkona's kids: the older boy is ready to tell tales about how mother ordered food and is passing it off as her own cooking, will tell tales on his mom after he overhears her with the delivery boy. The second son wants to play with dolls, hence is a problem and is gay. So he is beaten up...

The boss expects Konkona to make them tea.

The builder's man is out to cheat Konkona out of a dream home.

Konkona's delivery boy is a virgin, happy to bend rules to make her happy. 

Kitty's lover Pradeep has cheated on his wife, but needs a 'virgin' Kitty to ask him if he has a condom. If Kitty is that innocent, then she should just have been some ingenue who has been taken advantage of by a creep, no?

Even the DJ who when making out with his gal, is looking at Kitty...

Is there any reason to want to see these stupid characters?

I wish the director had created a story of the two sisters - and you might say that it is their story obliquely - but there are too many distractions for us to want either of them to be redeemed. 

And when you don't care what happens to the characters, that's cinema sin. 

I am sure there are small town stories that don't need women to swear, drink or have sex to prove that they have been empowered.

For god's sake, we had Nargis shoot her wayward son years and years ago and we call her Mother India. Netflix Africa has made Queen Sono a story about a female spy. We are still crying over cheating boyfriends and husbands who call in to have phone sex. Netflix Latin America is making Control Z, a program about high school teens affected by rumor mill on their whatsapp...We pair a frigid housewife with a virgin delivery boy! 


I know I am looking forward to watching Laxmmi Bomb on DisneyPlusHotstar but I had better treat all Indian content like dog poop until someone else tells me that it's not shiite. 

Someone please tell the men and women taking these decisions on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that it's not necessary that Bollywood stars can deliver good OTT content. Sitare chamak nahi rahe, fuse ho gaye hain. 



Saturday, August 01, 2020

Review: Lootcase

I like Kunal Khemmu muchly, but how can there be so many smart alecks in one movie?

Rating: Blah

I watched the first 30 minutes waiting for smart dialog to end and movie to begin.

Then I fast forwarded the film... watching it in bits and pieces...

So this is not a review, but dil se niklee aah:

Q. Itne saare shaane log ek film mein kaise aaye?
A. Dialog writer ka revenge. Narration ke wakt hasaya sabko.

Q. Underworld/Bhai log itne stupid aur quirky hain toh how did they reach the top of their business?
A. Nat Geo subscribe karo.

Q. Why are kids in movies so annoying?
A. Bhagwan ki den hain.

Q. How do we know the situation is funny?
A. Background music batayegaa naa...

Q. Aisi filmein kaise ban jaatee hain?
A. You have to be a small town lad who lives with other lads (araam nagar?) and then koi bhi concept ho woh bik jaata hai,

Q. Suitcase full of cash concept naya hai kya?
A. Hollywood made a movie where an ordinary family transports an RV full of drugs, Bollywood has made many movies and the last funny movie was 99 Not Out which is a 2009 movie made by Raj and DK and there is a similar suitcase of cash that is misplaced...

verdict: there is so much content that you can watch on disney plus hotstar that is better than this thing. I feel for Kunal Khemmu.    


The Raat is Mildly Interesting, Terribly Long and is a Tiresome Watch

Rating: 3 cups of chai so you don't fall asleep

Mini Review:

'I will reach the truth, no matter what' promises Nawazuddin Siddiqui who is the policeman in charge of the investigation of a murder of a rich old man who has just married his 'rakhail'. Everyone at home looks suspicious and have a motive. The film makes us go through the elimination process and kills innocent bystanders (yawn!). If you are a fan of detective stories, then this is too tiresome, but there are many interesting things about this film. 

Main Review:

Mere Paas Maa Hai

Nawazuddin is a cop named Jatil Yadav. (After Hathiram Choudhary in Pataal Lok, an unusual name for a cop does not even ask for an eye roll, but they explain it because they think it's clever: mother made a spelling error Jatin ko Jatil bana diya). His relationship with his mother is the best thing in the movie.

Ila Arun plays his mother, who wants him to get married, misses conversation, gets ragged at him for not talking to her nicely and replaces his cream with fair and lovely...If you need one reason to see this film, this should be it.

Mere Paas Sidekick Hai

The second reason is his sidekick Nandu (played wonderfully by Shreedhar Dubey) who works with Nawazuddin, offers a counterpoint, and even begins dressing like Nawazuddin after Nawaz is out of the picture. I loved that change in Nandu (he wears a leather jacket, and sunglasses and walks with a swagger). 

Is Raat Mein Bahut Tropes Hain

Otherwise the story of a haveli with interesting dubious characters is a trope. The aunt who spies, the girl who doesn't care about the dead patriarch, the rakhail who is dames, the pregnant daughter with a loud, angry husband, the son who is the rakhail's secret lover, the maid servant who has seen everything but won't say anything. 

The cops and political leaders are straight out of a stereotype too: the hero cop (leather jacket, sunglasses, motorbike swag), the sidekick who is part of the system but will change his opinion, the corrupt chief of police, the politician who uses power to corrupt the situation, the politician's goons who do his dirty work...

I know we have now have access to shows from all around the world and see sexually deviant content, and I would be stupid to say fathers don't rape daughters in India because we are sanskari...but showing the old patriarch take pictures of the young woman is just not necessary.

Plus some red herrings are just needless (will not add spoilers). Also no one can tell us convincingly why the old man had to marry his rakhail.  

The only thing weird was the romance between Radhika Apte (who plays the 'rakhail') and Nawazuddin even though we are given broad hints by the conversation he has with his mom. 'You can put conditions on with who you are going to fall in love'. You know the more he says he wants a 'cultured woman' he's going to find one that is off kilter.

It's a better watch than Lootcase on Disney Plus Hotstar, that's for sure. Nawazuddin delivers. The problem with a who dun it is that it has too many whos who could've done it, and it painstakingly goes through each one, so... I yawned so many times. 

The biggest grouse: I love this song from Jewel Thief and it's really unfair to use it as title for the film.