Category: Movies

Dedicated to Sivaji Ganesan on his birthday – 1st october 2013

Rajini & Kamal looked upto him for style!

Overacting has been one thing that the legend of Tamil cinema has been often accused of. Even you might have heard such a thing from someone or might have even thought so yourself. It is not really surprising that many of today’s youngsters and those accustomed to new age cinema find Sivaji Ganesan as one who went overboard with his expressions. It is a classical example of the generation gap, the present not being able to digest or accept what was considered great in the past. There can be no two opinions about the fact that Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan is a legend. But there are many who see chinks in that legacy. I believe it is a case of not being able to understand the great man and the times that he was part of.

Coming from a theater background (he acquired the title Sivaji from theater), expressing in a very pronounced manner came naturally to him. Being subtle was not the flavor of those days and if you watch cinema of the early Sivaji era, you will see that what many call overacting now was the norm in those days. Cinema had not evolved enough to accommodate subtle expressions. It was more or less a theater setting with the camera being kept straight and the actors being asked to perform within the frame, the occasional close up shot being given for the expression of surprise, shock, romance or whatever. Even the dialogues were theatrical. All techniques like bottom and top angle cuts, lighting that suited the situation, precise make-up that enhance cinema so much were non-existent. Sivaji Ganesan began and for a large part, worked in such an era as an actor who excelled in emotional roles. He just kept along with his times.

The greatness of Sivaji Ganesan comes to light when we look at the range of roles that he has done in his career and the range of styles that he adopted in each of his movies. Not many actors of our times have shown the courage that he has. To do a full fledged hateful negative role while you are still a leading hero takes a lot of confidence and Sivaji Ganesan showed that in Andha Naal. Actors of our times have shown a liking to the negative role, but not the totally despicable type. Even if they have, they have also chosen to have the security of playing a double role with one character being a do-gooder. Andha Naal had Sivaji Ganesan as a completely unscrupulous person who would not even stop short of treason to make money. His detractors (though few and oblivious of his greatness) should take a look at this performance. They also should take a look at Uthama Puthiran where one can see upon close observation, a striking similarity to Rajnikanth’s famous brisk walk. Then, there is that famous scene from Thiruvilayaadal where he runs towards the shore after slaying a shark, very similar to what Superstar does. Even Kamal once said in a function that actors of all ages have taken something out of Sivaji Ganesan’s book, be it style or acting skills. What Sivaji did so many years back is adopted and replicated by so many contemporary stars- a compliment to his greatness.

And if any of you still doubt whether the great man was overdoing it, then take a look at some of his films in the 90s. Cinema had evolved and he had understood the change. His performance in Thevar Magan must count as one of the finest in Tamil cinema, please go back and see the scene where he and Kamal Haasan talk in the courtyard, discussing about the hotel that Kamal proposes to build in the city. Such performances can come only from an actor of brilliance of the highest order, only a true genius can adjust to changing times and Sivaji Ganesan was one.

Once the famous journalist and cartoonist Madan was asked, ‘Who is the better actor, Marlon Brando or Sivaji Ganesan?’ He said, ‘Marlon Brando is an actor who delivers to perfection what the director asks of him but Sivaji Ganesan used to do more than just that, he used to analyze and add to the character and performance. So, Sivaji is greater.’ Do we need to say more? Another interesting fact is that in a survey conducted long back it was found that Sivaji Ganesan had a greater female fan following than the great M.G.R. Not because he always did emotional family subjects, but because they liked his style. If anyone still feels that the great man did more than what was required of him, then they are in the clutches of ignorance. Perceptions change with time. What was right then need not necessarily be right now and what we celebrate as acts of genius today may be ridiculed upon tomorrow. Wonder how youngsters thirty years from now will react to the patent star mannerisms, intro songs and one liners that we enjoy so much at present. The greatness of Sivaji Ganesan must never be subject to scrutiny. Seldom do men like him grace the screen.


Sara Dickey, in her writings on film watching in Tamil Nadu entitled ‘Consuming Utopia’, talks of the unique film viewing experience that the mass indulges in, and the various connotations that it may have. Cinema in Tamil Nadu has an overpowering effect on the audience with more movies being produced and watched per capita in South India than almost anywhere else in the world. She talks of how movies are a pervasive visual and aural presence outside of the theatre with dazzling posters lining the main street, smaller posters slapped onto spare wall space, movie songs blaring at every street corner and every social occasion, trading of movie star cards, copying of their fashion and hairstyles, etc.

The text chronicles the relationship between cinema and its audience in Tamil Nadu.

Cinema is a public spectacle and most of its consumers belong to the urban poor. Dickey claims that in Tamil Nadu, film-viewing is generally seen to be largely a lower-class preoccupation, while film making is a terrain that belongs exclusively to people from the middle and the upper classes. Cinema is one of the main vehicles by which the urban poor, limited by a lack of economic resources, are drawn into the growing public culture of India.

The relation between Tamil film, their producers and the audience is a very intrinsic one. The audience demand is catered to religiously as this is the ensuring factor of a success at the box office. The creation of a successful film doesn’t require fulfillment of all the audience desires. However, what should be kept in mind is that the ideas presented in the film not clash with any of these desires.

The form and content of Tamil film is highly melodramatic. Tamil filmmakers employ opposed tactics of portraying crisis as a difficulty as faced in the viewer’s own life. Due to the conflict of the ‘what is’ in the viewer’s existence and the ‘what could be’ outcomes in the movies, the melodrama incorporated into Tamil movies is both a reality and a fantasy, and thus, internally contradictory. The basic reason why viewers accept these honey-coated projections is to escape the drudgery of their own lives.

We must keep in mind that neither realistic representation nor pure fantasy alone dominates this melodrama’s appeal. It is based on the resolution of the two. Much of this setting is taken from their daily life. More often than not, these films project certain elements which are more luxurious or modern than most viewers have or will ever experience in their own lives.

Viewers’ comments demonstrate active engagement with and response to cinema. The attitudes that viewers express in private conversations differ from critics’ opinion and also the general public opinion. The majority of statements that are made by poor urban viewers about movies’ morals and the connection with their own lives have to do more with their personal relationships than a critical analysis. A sizable portion of respondents may also comment on the portrayal of class differences. Most people view cinema as having a variable influence dependant on their innate propensity. Viewers also believe that watching movies and seeing situations that speak of their own circumstances can have effects on their behavior.

Tamil cinema provides viewers with a sense of Utopia in two basic ways:

1. Through a portrayal of luxury that far exceeds the circumstances of most Tamil lives.

2. Through resolution of many viewers’ most persistent and deep seated anxieties.

Movies are not just a three hour relief from poverty, but something much more complex than that. They feed hopes that a spectacularly easier life is available. They show how various concerns of societies are solved simply. Whatever problems the society may face, movies assure their audience that they can be resolved. Viewers themselves reject films that have tragic endings and do not like to watch movies in which problems are shown realistically. Dickey notes that the viewers feel that films provide relief from their immediate and long term worries in several ways. The communication that takes place between audiences and creators of spectacle is in no sense un-directional.

Dickey completes her analysis with the split between image and reality. She says that this is repeated in other aspects of cinema and indeed is extremely frequent. The question then arises whether such a split or contradiction is central to the pleasure that Tamil or perhaps other cinema offer.

A movie for everyone!!!

Cinema viewing has changed since the advent of the multiplexes.  Earlier there were 1500 seats in a single screen. You were captive.  Today theatres have a smaller capacity and there are several screens. If you don’t like one kind of film you can always move to another screen.

You can go out and have coffee in the mall and then start seeing another film.  Multiplexes have given us the luxury to choose the cinema we wish to watch. The shelf life of a film has become very small.  Major audience comes only on the weekends.

Gone are the days of the 75-week movies.  As a  guy who belongs to the video cassette era and watched the transformation into the VCD, DVD era and now the blue ray I remember seeing golden and platinum jubilee posters.  I remember walking through RTC Cross Roads and Ram Kothi or Abids Road road and seeing posters celebrating golden jubilees at Ramakrishna, Maheswari-Parameswari, Sudarashan, Devi, Santosh-Sapna.

Golden and silver jubilees vanished and then came the 100 days, 50 days run.  Now it is also about one or two big weekends and the story ends. This year has been a golden period for the industry. We have seen all kind of movies succeed.

Take July for instance – we had Bbuddah, Delhi Belly, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Singham. All different in form and narrative and all successful.  Now corporations like UTV and independent producers want to back different kind of cinema. ZNMD is an elitist subject so it did better numbers in multiplexes. But the money coming from multiplexes is huge today.

Singham opened very well all across. The opening day business was phenomenal.  But nothing can touch Bodyguard that opened to earth shattering figures. All kind of cinema works now. Be it Jessica, Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji, Murder 2, are all enjoyed. Delhi Belly was like a Guy Richie film made for a mature audience. The parameters are different. Total jalwa!

There is space for everyone. Enjoy!!!

Religion is controversial in its raw form, but when people tinker with the beliefs of religious groups for the purposes of entertainment, things definitely heat up. Some of the films on this list have caused riots, and some have even resulted in deaths. Hardly a great example of religious tolerance. Here are the 10 most controversial religious films ever made. 

The Exorcist

The exorcist is really one of the best horror films ever made – it continues to scare and enthrall new viewers to this day. But at the time of release, while many saw great merit in the movie, others were not so happy. Some critical responses were: “a chunk of elegant occultist claptrap” “[A] practically impossible film to sit through” “it establishes a new low for grotesque special effects…”, “The Exorcist succeeds on one level as an effectively excruciating entertainment, but on another, deeper level it is a thoroughly evil film, and [N]othing more than a religious porn film”. Some preachers – like Billy Graham, felt the movie itself was satanic.

Battle Field Earth

While the majority of the assaults on this dreadful film were due to bad acting, bad scripting, and a lame story, it can not be excluded from this list because it ties in to the Scientology mythology about the origin of humans on earth. This is a piece of scientology propaganda and it is not surprising that it was such a failure as a film. The biggest criticism of the film was the fact that people were not willing to open their wallets for it. John Travolta, for the record, says he’d love to make a “Battlefield” sequel. We can only hope that never happens!


This film was highly controversial due to the manner in which it dealt with issues close to Catholic’s hearts. While Catholics consider stigmata to be a sign of holiness, this film has an atheist hairdresser experience stigmata in a manner in which she appears to be demonically possessed. In addition, the other main character, a Jesuit Priest, discovers a connection between the stigmata and one of the Gnostic Gospels (4th century religious writings condemned by the Catholic Church). The priest uncovers a plot within the vatican to keep the gospels “truth” concealed.


This film is a satire of the Catholic Church and Catholic belief, which caused organized protests and much controversy in many countries. Although there was no opposition to the film while the actual filming and pre-production was taking place, the following months of post-production and publicity were plagued with controversy over a perceived anti-Christian message in the film. Over time, the director (Kevin Smith) received over 30 thousand pieces of hate mail. Catholic groups around the world staged protests, and Smith received several death threats. Perhaps to head off controversy, the film’s title sequence contained a disclaimer, which included the line “Even God has a sense of humor–just look at the platypus.”


This film caused controversy by showing aspects of Hinduism in a negative light. The day before filming of Water was due to begin, the crew was informed that there were complications with their location permits for filming. The following day, they learned that 2,000 protesters had stormed the ghats, destroying and burning the main film set and throwing the remnants into the Ganges in protest of what ultimately were revealed to be false accusations regarding the subject matter of the film. The resulting tensions and economic setbacks led to several years of struggle as Mehta was eventually forced to film Water in Sri Lanka, rather than in India. Finally Mehta was able to make the film, but with a new cast and under a false title (River Moon) in 2003. “Water” was nominated for a 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

The Life of Brian, is a 1979 comedy film written, directed and largely performed by the Monty Python comedy team. It tells the story of Brian Cohen (played by Graham Chapman), a young Jewish man born in the same era and location as Jesus Christ, who is mistaken for the Messiah. Protests against the film were organized based on its perceived blasphemy. On its initial release in the UK, the film was banned by several town councils, some of which had no cinemas within their boundaries, or had not even seen the film for themselves. In New York, screenings were picketed by both rabbis and nuns while the film was banned outright in some American states. It was also banned for eight years in the Republic of Ireland and for a year in Norway (it was marketed in Sweden as “The film so funny that it was banned in Norway”). One of the most controversial scenes was the film’s ending: Brian’s crucifixion. Many Christian protestors said that it was mocking Jesus’s suffering by turning it into a “Jolly Boys Outing”.

The Passion of Christ

This film based on the final days of the life of Jesus cause controversy on two counts: many Jews were angered by it claiming it was anti-semitic (due to the depiction of the treatment of Jesus at the hands of Jews in the film) and from anti-Catholic protesters who were angered that the film did not rely solely on the Bible for its plot. Asked by Bill O’Reilly if his movie would “upset Jews,” Gibson responded, “It’s not meant to. I think it’s meant to just tell the truth. I want to be as truthful as possible.” Accusations of anti-Semitism were fueled by news reports that Mel Gibson’s father, Hutton Gibson, denied the Holocaust. After Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote against the unreleased film and called Gibson’s publicist a “Holocaust denier defender” Gibson was overheard by The New Yorker telling his publicist, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.”

The Da Vinci Code

Ron Howard’s “The Da Vinci Code,” based on the best-seller by Dan Brown, places the Catholic Church at the center of a (fictional) conspiracy to cover up the truth about Jesus–that he was married to Mary Magdalene and the father of a child whose descendants have been protected from the murderous Church ever since. What’s more, this denigration of Mary Magdalene’s “rightful” place as Jesus’ wife is portrayed as part of a larger Church conspiracy to stamp out devotion to the divine feminine, which was at the heart of early Christian worship. In the months leading up to the film’s 2006 release, most Christian organizations refrained from calling for an outright boycott, instead using the film to spark discussion about Jesus and to challenge the story’s claims. Despite poor reviews, the film took in a reported $758 million worldwide, making it one of the highest grossing of 2006.


Submission is a 10-minute film in English directed by Theo van Gogh and written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a former Tweede Kamer member for the Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy); it was shown on the Dutch public broadcasting network (VPRO) on August 29, 2004. The film’s title is a direct translation of the word “Islam”. The film tells the story of four fictional characters played by a single actress wearing a veil, but clad in a see-through chador, her naked body painted with verses from the Koran. The characters are Muslim women who have been abused in various ways. On November 2, 2004, Theo van Gogh was assassinated in public by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch Muslim of Moroccan descent. A letter, stabbed through and affixed to the body by a dagger, linked the murder to Van Gogh’s film and his views regarding Islam. It was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and called for jihad against unbelievers. Following the murder of Van Gogh, tens of thousands gathered in the center of Amsterdam to mourn Van Gogh’s death. There were fire-bombings of mosques and Muslim schools, and counterattacks against Christian churches. I am pleased to be able to present the entire movie here on the site – it is embedded from youtube above. It is interesting to note that Amazon does not stock this movie.

The Last Temptation of Christ

The Last Temptation of Christ is a film adaptation of the controversial 1951 novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis. Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ, and its central thesis is that Jesus, while free from sin, was still subject to every form of temptation that humans face, including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust. This results in the book and film depicting Christ being tempted by imagining himself engaged in sexual activities, a notion that has caused outrage from some Christians. Protests against the movie from religious communities began before the film had even finished production. The studio was expecting a backlash due to the controversies revolving around any media treatment of Christ (see dramatic portrayals of Jesus Christ), but the protests accompanying Last Temptation were unprecedented. Major religious leaders in the United States blasted the film in fiery sermons, and condemned its subject matter as pornographic. On October 22, 1988, a French christian fundamentalist group launched molotov cocktails inside the Parisian Saint Michel movie theater to protest against the film. This attack injured thirteen people, four of whom were severely burned. The film is still not available from Blockbuster Video and some libraries. In some countries, including Mexico and Chile, the film was banned for several years. It continues to be prohibited in the Philippines, Singapore, and South Africa.

Notable omissions: The Pope Must Die(t), The Crime of Father Amaro, The Birth of a Nation, Priest, The Message, Agnes of God, Hail Mary

There are some movies, that for any reason, known to us have a high rewatchability quotient as I would like to put it. You know, one of those movies that happen to be played on TV one night on when you have nothing better to do, and you end up watching till the end (even when there’s something else on that you haven’t seen before) – and you still found it enjoyable and not a waste of time.

Or if you have it on DVD, you might pull it out every now and then and put it on for whatever reason, and then find yourself sitting there two hours later, still captivated despite having seen it 10 times already.  The best part is that some of these movies actually get better the more times you watch it. Following an agonising selection process, I have finally come up with my most rewatchable movies of all time.

The Sound of Music (1965)Be fair.  The Sound of Music is a rewatchable classic, and it’s pretty much on all the time. You know all the songs.  You sing along. Admit it.

The ‘Burbs (1989)

I am not kidding here.  The ‘Burbs is one heck of a comedy about life in the suburbs, complete with nosy neighbours, crazy characters, and maybe even serial killers. It has Tom Hanks, before his head got too big.  Bruce Dern in his prime.  Rick Ducommun  (a poor man’s Dan Akroyd) at his best.  Carrie Fisher, before she was too far removed from Princess Leia.  Corey Feldman, when he was allowed out of rehab on occasion.  Eighties comedy at its best.  What more could you ask for?

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino makes rewatchable movies, and Reservoir Dogs is highly rewatchable.  Fragmented, but in a stylish way, with a cast of super actors belting out classic dialogue.

The whole film is like a collection of memorable quotes on everything from tipping etiquette to Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ (“How many dicks is that?”).  After a couple of viewings you’ll be talking like Mr Blue or Mr Blonde (or my favourite, Mr Pink).  I believe this is one of those quality cult films that get better each time you watch it.

White Fang (1991)

My favourite ‘boy and pet’ movie has to be White Fang, adapted from the classic Jack London novel of the same name.  I must have watched this movie at least half a dozen times, though it was primarily because there was something intriguing about Ethan Hawke.

That said, it is a genuinely great movie.  Beautifully filmed, and the bond between Jack (Hawke) and White Fang (a half-wolf half-dog hybrid) is truly heartwarming in the way that only Disney films can be.  All kids should watch this.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

One of those outrageous, silly and crazy 80s action flicks with a wacky storyline and hilarious one-liners.  Directed by John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China makes no excuses for its Chinese stereotyping, but that is part of what makes it so funny. I think this could have been Kurt Russell’s best role ever.  A perfect combination of bravado, utter stupidity and dumb luck, Russell’s Jack Burton has made the film a cult classic.

12 Monkeys (1995)

One of the most underrated sci-fi classics of all time.  I was a bit on the young side when I first saw 12 Monkeys (the film, that is; I was much younger when I first saw 12 monkeys at the zoo), so I didn’t ‘get’ all of it – but the amazing thing is that it still blew my mind.

The film had it all – a post-apocalyptic Earth, terrific envisioning of the future without going overboard with the technology, quirky characters (including a loony Brad Pitt), sweet dialogue, and of course, Bruce Willis trying to save the world.  And that whole circular time-travel, cause-and-effect business that I just thought was so clever at the time. Repeated viewings have not dampened my enthusiasm for 12 Monkeys.  Actually understanding everything that happens in it has made it even more enjoyable.

The Rock (1996)

Controversial choice here.  I had to put one Nicholas Cage action classic in here, and I went with The Rock over Con Air and Face/Off, even though I think Con Air is the best film of the three.  The difference must be the presence of old Sean Connery.  The man is just too awesome.  Oh, and Ed Harris as the bad-good bad guy, and David Morse as the good-bad bad guy added an extra dimension to the film.

All very exciting stuff – road chases, Alcatraz setting, hostages, rockets with deadly gases, a geek and an old man against a whole army of bad-asses.  Extraordinarily over the top and about as cheesy as you can get, but highly rewatchable and fun.

Meet The Parents (2000)

First saw this on HBO with very low expectations and laughed so hard I almost fell off the chair.  This was Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro at their comedic peaks (I know, Zoolander, but not for me), and the jokes were very ‘rewatcher friendly’.  Classic lines usually are. I have since watched Meet the Parents several times, and each time it still brings out the laughter.  “The animal doesn’t even have thumbs, Focker!” I was disappointed with the sequel, Meet the Fockers, which went too far below the belt for my liking.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

I think this was one of the first films I watched more than once at the cinema, and actually wanted to watch it again after that.

When it came out, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a landmark in filmmaking.  Arnie was at the peak of his powers and Edward Furlong came out of nowhere to be the next big thing.  And who could forget skinny Robert Patrick as the unstoppable liquid metal T-1000?  You had unbelievable special effects, insane action (including that truck vs motorbike road chase), and memorable lines and scenes that have withstood the test of time.  A true classic in every sense.

Minority Report (2002)

I am a big fan of Dick (Philip K Dick, that is) adaptations, and Minority Report is right up there as one of his best.

As sci-fi films go, Minority Report has one of the coolest and slickest visions of the future thanks to Steven Speilberg.  The morally confusing premise, the cool gadgets, the intriguing storyline, the cool colour scheme; precogs (I love that word), rolling eyeballs, amazing futuristic transport, and a ripper of an ending – Minority Report is one of those films I always continue watching when I am lucky enough to stumble across it.

Total Recall (1990)

Another Dick adaptation and another classic movie capable of multiple viewings.  From the Martian landscape, Arnie’s bulging eyeballs, and Sharon’s Stone’s bitch fight, to the lady with the three breasts, Total Recall had plenty of lasting images.  In my opinion Paul Verhoeven’s best film. A true measure of the film’s classic status is that it is still debated to this day – was it real or was it all in his head?

Happy Gilmore (1996)

Hear me out.  Happy Gilmore is Adam Sandler’s best film as his old self (the new ‘dramatic’ Sandler doesn’t count).  Better than Billy Madison, better than The Waterboy, and better than all his later crap.

The main reason is that Happy Gilmore is actually funny.  Still a bit hit-and-miss at times, but it definitely has the highest hit ratio of any of Sandler’s early films.  Many of the laughs come from Christopher McDonald’s Shooter McGavin, one of the best villains in history (“I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast”), as well as Carl “Apollo Creed” Weathers as Happy’s golf coach.  The best scene, of course, was the Bob Barker fist fight.

I really wish they would make a sequel.

Armour of God (1987)

Here is a random one.  Armour of God is in my opinion Jackie Chan’s best film, and miles better than any of his later stuff.  He also almost died filming one of the scenes, when he fell from a tree and hit his head on a rock, cracking a hole in his skull (and hence the difference in hair length before and after).

The story follows Chan, an ex-band member turned treasure hunter who, together with an old mate, searches for the various pieces of the Armour of God in order to save an ex-girlfriend from an evil cult.  Sounds tacky, I know, but Armour of God was way ahead of its time.  It had that Indiana Jones-esque feel to it, with unbelievable innovation in terms of action, gadgets and stunts.  The fight scenes were also some of the best of Chan’s career, especially the final battle, where he takes on four buffed kung fu women at once (I am not making this up).

Definitely check it out if you can find it.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984)

My favourite of the Indiana Jones franchise and the most rewatchable one of the lot.  It was more fun, more funny and more exciting than the original and its sequels.

The premise was also probably the most ridiculous (until the Crystal Skull came along), but Indy and Kate Capshaw (and Short Round) took it in their stride.  Whether it was eating monkey brains, crawling amongst bugs in the dark, ripping hearts out of chests, or roller coaster rides in underground mines, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom manages to capture that old fashioned adventure feel that is rarely replicated these days.

There’s Something About Mary (1998)

I first went into There’s Something About Mary not having a clue what it was about, and came within an inch of pissing my pants (the only other time I came that close was when I watched Paradise Road, but that was because I had 3 large beverages before the movie and it was too freaking long).

There have been so many copycat movies since (including by the Farrelly Brothers), trying to take the grossness and the outrageousness to new heights, but none have come close to the magical power of Mary.  We, the viewers, became like Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon, hopelessly devoted to the film like they were to Mary.  Everyone remembers the zipper scene and the hair gel scene, but the best parts for me belonged to Dillon’s Pat Healy, who combined wonderful sleaziness with killer politically incorrect lines.

No matter how many times I watch Mary, I still laugh hard, every time.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

The first time I watched Pulp Fiction, I may have been too young or not focused enough, and as a result I didn’t find it all that great.  It wasn’t until several years later, when I watched it properly, that I realised what a freaking masterpiece it was.  And the more times I watched it, the more I loved it.  Now, it’s one of my all-time favourites.

From the initial diner scene to the gimp scene to the hilarious sequence beginning from the car ride with Marvin to the final diner scene, every segment is a classic.  It makes you wonder how anyone could have come up with such sensational dialogue and situations that make you clueless as to what the heck is going to happen next.

How many lines from the film can you recite off the top of your head?

Fargo (1996)

Fargo was the last film I expected to like when I accidentally stumbled across it one day at the video store, but I loved it from the very first time I watched it and loved it more and more with each subsequent viewing.

It’s black comedy at its very best.  Some of the dialogue and scenes make you wonder whether it’s appropriate to laugh, until you realise it’s too late and you’re already laughing your ass off.  It made Steve Buscemi my favourite actor – from his banter with Peter Stormare to his encounter with the escort lady to getting shot in the face, it was simply a masterful performance that should have gotten just as much credit as Frances McDormand (who won the Oscar) or William H Macy (who got nominated).

I must have annoyed the hell out of everyone when I went through a phase responding to any human interaction with “The heck d’ya mean?” or “You’re darn tootin’!”

Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me is a film I can say with confidence that there is no film I have seen more. Based on Stephen King’s novella The Body, Stand By Me is the ultimate coming of age movie and the ultimate friendship movie.  There’s that distinctive narration by Richard Dreyfuss, the innocent young faces of Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell, and of course the late River Phoenix, whose poise and screen presence even at that age makes me sigh every time I think about his tragic death.  Oh, and who can forget Kiefer Sutherland as the bad older kid?  I bet that’s what Jack Bauer used to be like as a teenager!

Stand By Me is one of the films that, no matter how many times you watch, still gets to you in the end.  They just don’t make movies like this anymore.

Die Hard (1988)

“Yippee-ki-yay, motherf&*ker.”  I have a friend who insists Die Hard should be number one, and to be honest, it came very close.

It’s the film against which all other action films are measured.  It is also the film against which all Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and the dad from Family Matters’ films are measured. One man (John McClane) against an army of terrorists, trapped inside a massive corporate building.  He’s hurt, he’s bleeding, and he’s all alone.  And yet he’s their only hope!  Gotta love that.

It’s a premise that film-makers have challenged many times, but for some reason Die Hard just has that special supernatural ability to make you want to keep watching it.  The most amazing thing is that all the sequels to Die Hard are actually pretty good, but none can even come close to the brilliance of the original.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The first time I watched Shawshank, I went “WHOA”.  The second time I watched Shawshank, I still went “WHOA”.  And the third time, and the fourth time, and so on.  There’s no movie quite like Shawshank when it comes to rewatchability, and what makes it more remarkable is that it is a freaking prison drama with very little humour and almost no action.

There’s a good reason why Shawshank is consistently ranked as one of the top 2 at  It’s the type of film that, after watching it, you need to sit through the credits just to compose yourself.  You don’t have to speak to the person beside you or even tell them “That was good,” because you know they know it was bloody awesome.

It’s a downright travesty that despite being nominated for 7 Oscars in 1994, Shawshank didn’t get a single one.  Seriously, look at the other 4 nominees for Best Picture that year: Forrest Gump (winner), Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show and Four Weddings and A Funeral.  Yes, all good films.  Forrest Gump was very likable and enjoyable, but if you ask anyone now which was the better film, 9 out of 10 would say Shawshank, without a doubt.

The most amazing thing about all of this is that Stephen King also wrote the novella (Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption) upon which the film was based (that makes it 2 out of my top 3 on this list!) and even crazier, both novellas were in the same book (Different Seasons)!

Yes, as you may have noticed, there were a lot of comedies and action films in the above list.  Well, that’s because comedies and action films are the most rewatchable genres.  They are easy to watch, don’t require much emotional investment or brain usage, and are more likely to still be watchable even if you start watching mid-way.

On the other hand, dramas and romances take too much out of you, and except for the really amazing ones (like the ones in this list), lose their emotional impact on repeat viewings.  Few horrors and thrillers are capable of scaring or thrilling people the second or third time round (some can’t even do that on the first), and apart from the really exceptional ones, the more you watch the clever/twist films, the less clever they become.

Oh, and the reason why there aren’t any recent films on the list?  Because they haven’t been out long enough to be capable of repeated viewings.

So there.  My top 20.  What are yours?

Missing the cut

Con Air (1997), True Lies (1994), The Mighty Ducks (1992), Back to the Future II (1989) , Dead Poets Society (1989), What About Bob (1991), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Lost Boys (1987), Gladiator (2000).

Delhi Belly: Music Review

Delhi Belly starts with Bhaag Bhaag DK Bose DK Bose DK Bhaag. And you must by now know how well the song is ‘running.’ LOVE this one. Nothing more to say. Can just praise Amitabh Bhattacharya and Ram Sampath for the masterpiece of its own kind they have created.

If you thought Bhaag Bhaag DK Bose was going to be the only highlight of Delhi Belly, you might be in for a surprise. The second song, Nakkadwaley Disco Udhaarwale Khisko is not on very different lines, though it doesn’t create such punny situations as the earlier one. Still, teri tirchhi nazar ne dil ko kar diya pancher is some really innovative use of Kirti Sagathia’s voice. And so is the song. Innovative, only two steps behind Emosanal Attyachar.

The next number, Saigal Blues, sung by Chetan Shashital, is almost clear by its name. The song is almost a clear cut copy of KL Saigal’s singing, with some twist, that will make the song run longer in this age.

The next song of the album is finally a little less into fun though it’s not all serious. Ram Sampath gets an item-ish Bedardi Raja for his wife, Sona Mahapatra. Okay composition, well sung.

The next number again has a name that would get people interested. Suraj Jagan sings this slightly espionage-y, very rocky Ja Chudail. Suraj almost does a Zehreelay Zehreelay with Chudail, but with the lyrics it has, the song is bound to be funny. I smell Dev.D to some extent, but not exactly in that way.

Ram Sampath comes up to sing the next normal and probably the first and only romantic number of the album, Tere Siva, with Tarannum Malik. The song has a slight ’90s touch though the song is very likable and lovely, something that has been seen in some other Ram Sampath songs too, I feel. Well composed, well sung, with a nice end.

Switty Switty Switty tera pyaar chahida. Sung by Kirti Sagathia. The song might not sound completely new as one can find some similar sounding songs before, in pieces, but the song as Ram and Kirti have made it is a bit different. A completely ‘Delhi’ sounding song, it has Sufi’ish touches (NO, this is NOT a Sufi song), a-very-Punjabi-mixed-Delhi’ish language, and that will (read chipku’ish-ness). The song should work well with this movie, though I’d see no future for this one in a normal movie I guess.

The next song, tere pyaar ne kar diya deewana/ I hate you like I love you is a beautifully confused song. The song starts in a good qawwali mood and shifts to almost a cheerleader song (rock n roll?). But the mixing is well done and in a way that it only makes the song interesting. Kudos to Ram Sampath for the composition and even Amitabh for writing this one.

And then, if the original tracks weren’t enough, there is a ‘punk’ version of Switty, sung by Kirti and Ram Sampath himself, though I liked the original more, as that one had taken me by more surprise.

Overall, Delhi Belly is what you had wanted it to be after that first trailer and that first song. There is still nothing better in the album, nor the album is what you’d say ‘musical,’ but then still for the album I’d say Go get it. Or in other words, bhaag bhaag!

Overall Verdict on the album – 2.75/5

Allu Arjun, Tamannah’s Badrinath audio was launched on a grand scale. Badrnath is a semi-period subject, being made with a whopping budget of 40 crores. V.V.Vinayak is wielding the megaphone for this action-packed entertainer and Allu Aravind has produced it on Geetha Arts. Being made with such a huge budget and being semi-period film, fans are expecting no lesser than another Magadheera from the makers. Keeravani, who scored music for Magadheera has been roped in for Badrnath too. Check out the Badrinath Music Review exclusively on Way2Movies…

01. Omkareswari: Artist(s): Shankar Mahadevan, MM. Keeravani; Lyricist: Veturi; Rating: 4/5

Keeravani has dedicated this track to Badrinath. Omkareswari is a devotional number that starts off with words Hari Om… The number goes with strong drum beats all over and Shankar Mahadevan, MM. Keeravani’s vocal rendition is extremely good keeping up the tempo and a special mention for late Veturi’s wonderful lyrics. This is the last song Veturi has penned for, and brilliant work by him. Listen to it!!!

02.  Amba Dari: Artist(s): Revanth, Shravana Bhargavi; Lyricist: Chandrabose; Rating: -3/5

Keeravani has composed a fast-paced duet song which is of typical Indian style with a folk touch. Chandrabose lyrics are enjoyable and entertaining with the use of rhyming words at the end of stanzas. With a variation in the music instruments, Revanth and Shravana Bhargavi sang in a steady tempo and extend to a high pitch. Allu Arjun would have rocked the number with his dances.

03.  In the night: Artist(s): Baba Sehgal, Shravana Bhargavi; Lyricist: Shravana Bharghavi; Rating: 3.25/5

The track starts of with the English words In the night… Keeravani has composed completely youthful song, which goes on western style and the entertaining singers Baba Sehgal and Shravana Bhargavi joins to give out the necessary zing to the track. Apart from singing, Shravana Bhargavi also contributed for lyrics, which is appreciable. Keeravani’s instrumentation had a nice variation of tempo with some rap that grabs your attention.

04. Nachchavura: Artist(s): Sreeram Chandra, Chaitra; Lyricist:  M.M.Keeravani; Rating: 3.25/5

Nachavura is a sensual duet with a mix of electronic and traditional instruments. Besides, acting as a music director, Keeravani himself has penned romantic lyrics for the number. Sreeram Chandra and Chaitra are good in their vocals and added melody to the number. The track lacks uniqueness and is just like other melodious duets.

05.  Nadh Nadh: Artist(s): Jassie Gift, Sunidhi Chauhan; Lyricist: Chandrabose; Rating: 3/5

Kannu moosthe Badrinadh… is a fast-paced duet with a masala style in the form of its lyrics as well as beat. Sunidhi Chauhan has excelled in the track and she has been supported by Jassie Gift. The track has all the elements to attract the masses and imagine the Stylish Star dancing to the tune. Well, wait for it to reach the big screens folks.

06. Chiranjeeva: Artist(s): Revanth, Shreya Ghoshal; Lyricist: Chandrabose; Rating: 2.75/5

Yet another slow romantic duet rendered by Revanth, followed by Shreya Ghoshal with her sweet vocal and Chandrabose has penned simple lyrics in his regular style. The number reminds you of old songs and might not grab your attention in the initial listen. The track is strictly for melody lovers.

07. Ambadhari Remix: Artist(s): Anuj Gurwara, Geetha Madhuri; Lyricist: Chandrabose; Rating: 3.25/5

The remix version sounds much techno and surprisingly, enjoyable than the original track. Anuj Gurwara, Geetha Madhuri adds the necessary zing to the increased tempo and makes it much interesting and entertaining. Listen to it and enjoy…

08. Vasundhara: Artist(s): MM. Keeravani, Swetha Pandit; Lyricist: Chandrabose; Rating: 3.25/5

Vasundhara is a slow-paced melodious duet and Swetha Pandit makes it even more pleasing with her sweet vocals. Keeravani too, makes the soft with his rendition. Keeravani picked up few instruments to make this track, as simple. Chandrabose lyrics are admiring.

09. Badrinath Theme: Singers: Twin Cities Choir; Lyrics: Chaitanya Prasad;Rating: 3.5/5

Listen to the outstanding work of Keeravani through the theme. The instrumentation is amazing, which is dominated by the singers to uplift the mood of the story in necessary scenes.

Final Verdict

On the whole, Badrinath album is a mix of a couple western beats, melodious numbers, mass beats and a devotional track. Keeravani tried to make the album simple yet entertaining, also giving the Stylish Star, enough scope to show his dancing movements. Give it a try…

Now this is what one calls a perfect project in the making. Salman Khan, Anees Bazmee, Pritam, Bhushan Kumar and that promise of an out and out entertainer – one strongly believes that the music of Ready can’t really go wrong. There are movies that are termed as popcorn entertainers; now here is a soundtrack which one believes would be the kind that would be best enjoyed when being a little high. Though four different lyricists – Amitabh Bhattacharya, Neelesh Misra, Ashish Pandit and Kumaar – are roped in for a song apiece with Devi Sri Prasad also chipping in as a guest composer, you look forward to whether Ready indeed has enough ‘dum’ in it to be the biggest commercial soundtrack of the year so far.

Going totally by Salman’s on/off screen image which in any case is hardly different these days, ‘Character Dheela’ by Neeraj Shridhar and Amrita Kak is a lot of fun for those four minutes that it plays. An interesting choreography with Zarine Khan exuding oomph (a distinct shift from her Veer image) is another good reason that further consolidates the fact that ‘Character Dheela’ would entice a lot of ‘seetis’ and ‘taalis’ when it plays on screen. A chartbuster all the way that also arrives in a ‘remix’ and accentuates the fun.

What follows next is the kind of romantic number that Salman had to his name in dozens during the 90s. Written by Neelesh Misra, ‘Humko Pyar Hua’ also has short English portions in between the ‘antra’ and has KK going subtle in his rendition with Tulsi Kumar giving him good support. Though the original tune as well as it’s remix is fine and doesn’t give any reason to complain, it is nowhere close to the kind that Salman has enjoyed in Veer (Surili Ankhiyon Wali) and Dabangg (Tere Mast Mast Nain). At the end of it all, ‘Humko Pyar Hua’ is one harmless number that will find some popularity going for it only after the film turns out to be a success.

What is definitely going to be popular though in the very first go is ‘Dhinka Chika’ which is all set to be the biggest chartbuster of the first half of 2011 at the least. A re-done version of Telugu number ‘Ringa Ringa’ (Arya 2) with the original composer Devi Sri Prasad being roped in here, ‘Dhinka Chika’ (also arriving again in the ‘remix version’) has Mika Singh and Amrita Kak bringing on the kind of attitude that was pretty much required for the song of this genre. Ashish Pandit’s lyrics are as ‘chalu’ as it gets and reminds one of the songs that were made for Mithun Chakravorty, Jeetendra and Govinda during the 80s. Expect frenzy in theaters, especially single screens, when the song plays on screen.

Pritam returns on the scene with a quintessential North Indian ‘shaadi byaah’ celebration track ‘Meri Ada Bhi’ that starts off with the folk rendition of much heard ‘Laung Gawacha’. A rhythmic track that surprisingly has Rahat Fateh Ali Khan at the helm of affairs (since he is known more for his soulful melodies rather than dance numbers), ‘Meri Ada Bhi’ is what one terms as the kind of number which has been made for family audience. Tulsi Kumar too is pretty much in elements here for this song that at places does tend to veer towards ‘U and I’ (Pritam’s composition from De Dana Dan at places) courtesy the way Rahat approaches it before the composer manages to pull it all back.

 Overall verdict

Any regrets from Ready? Only one which is – ‘it finishes off too soon’. From an album of this stature one expected at least a couple of more songs to make it a wholesome affair. However, with only four songs in the album, one longs to lay hands on a lot more. Nonetheless, from what is made available, there are good enough reasons to celebrate with ‘Dhinka Chika’ and ‘Character Dheela’ all set to be not just huge hits musically but also turn out to be massive crowd pullers. On the other hand ‘Meri Ada Bhi’ ends up adding good variety to the album with ‘Humko Pyar Hua’ carrying a potential to gather steam once the film releases. Once on shelves, Ready should be a sell-out due to all around craze amongst audience to check out what the music is all about. However, the momentum is only going to continue after the film hits the screens.

My Pick(s)

Dhinka Chika, Character Dheela, Meri Ada Bhi

My verdict of the album:  4/5

Mass Maharaja Ravi Teja is gearing up to reach the big-screens, this summer with the film Veera by teaming up with current sensational actresses Kajal Agarwal and Tapsee. Veera is an out and out mass entertainer and the interesting fact is the film is biggest budget in Ravi Teja’s career till date. Producer Ganesh Indukuri and director Ramesh Varma has used the services of music director Thaman. Veera is the fourth film in the combo of Ravi Teja and Thaman and their previous outings Kick, Mirapakaya were well-received by the audience while Anjaneyulu remained as average. Let’s see how Thaman scored for Veera. This is my review of Veera Music review…

1.Ekkadekkada: Singer: Ramya N.S; Lyrics: Ramajogayya Sastry

Thaman started off the album with a peppy number in western style with a mix of Indian beats. Ramya’s vocal rendition is appealing along with Ramajogayya Sastry’s lyrics, which has more of English words. The tune is enjoyable too. On the flip side, it reminds you of Okkadante Okkade from Ragada scored by Thaman himself and sung by Ramya again. Listen to it…

2.O Meri Bhavri: Singers: Thaman. S, Bindu Mahima; Lyrics: Rahaman

Sung by Thaman and Bindu Mahima, O Meri Bhavri is has an interesting beat with a distinct tune. The rap in it makes even more enjoyable. Rahman has penned some interesting lyrics. The number is a foot-tapping one and welcomes you to the dance floor. Good One.

3. Chitti Chitti: Singer: Karthik; Lyrics: Bhaskarabhatla

Chitti Chitti is a fast-paced duet number with typical mass beats picturised on Ravi Teja and Kajal Agarwal. It is a routine commercial formula song with lots of drum beats and the song seems to be aimed at mass audiences. Though the tune is regular, it is catchy.

4.Chinnari:  Singers: Karthik; Lyrics: Sirasri

This is a short bit song with meaningful lyrics by Sirasri. Karthik’s vocal rendition is good and the song is a situational number. As per the audio, you can simply ignore it watch it on the big screens.

5.Hosanam: Singers: Ranjith, Roshini; Lyrics: Bhaskarabhatla

Hosanam is a unique composition from Thaman’s regular numbers.  Thaman gave a lovely melodious tune to the duet, which is pleasing to ears at the very first listen. Ranjith, Roshini’s vocal renditions are appealing. The song goes slow-pace and Bhaskarabhatla has neatly penned the lyrics.

6. Maavilla (Remix): Singers: Muralidhar & Ganga; Lyrics: Bandaru Danayya Kavi

Mavilla Thotakada is a remix track of Late NTR’s most memorable mass masala song from Driver Ramudu. The track begins with superb energetic vocals by Muralidhar and Ganga. Thaman keeps the number simple with his instrumentation befitting the original version. A superb remix…

7. Veera Veera: Singers: M.L.R Karthikeyan & Ranina Reddy; Lyrics: Abhinaya Srinivas

Here is the title song of the film and looks like, it is the introduction song of our hero. Veera Veera starts of with the blowing whistles followed by strong mass beats and is sure to woo the front-benchers. The tune is a foot-tapping number and will appeal to Ravi Teja’s fans. However, it reminds you of old tunes and lacks freshness.

Final Verdict

Overall, Thaman played it safe with Veera by scoring typical mass beats targeting Ravi Teja’s fans and the album is sure to provide them the entertainment. While Chitti Chiiti, Mavilla remix and Veera Veera will appeal to the front benchers, Hosanam and O meri Bhavri will go well with the A centers.

Overall the album is a satisfying listen if one keeps aside the repetitiveness of the tunes. The album is definitely better than Anjaneyulu from the same combo but falls short of both Kick and Mirapakai as a whole with only one song Hossanam being the standout song from the album.

Listen to Veera album…

My Rating of the album: 3.25/5

Ask anyone about the biggest bollywood hit of all times and pat comes the reply- Sholay. The answer would be same irrespective of whether the respondent is a 60 year old or just 16.It has been 35 years since the movie was released, yet there is no other movie that can match its stature. Directed by Ramesh Sippy, the movie was released on 15th August 1975.

There could be nothing more extravagant than a cast consisting of Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini and Jaya Bachchan in the lead roles and writer duo of Salim- Javed, whose names were enough to sell a movie then.

One cannot fit Sholay to a definite genre. It was a complete mixture of adventure, action, romance, comedy, musical, thriller and list can go on and on. But the biggest surprise of the movie was Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh, the villain of the movie. The plot revolves around a police officer played by Sanjeev Kumar who hires two crooks Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan to take revenge from Gabbar Singh who has killed his family.

The only other surviving member of the family is Jaya Bachchan who is the daughter- in- law of the police officer. Hema Malini plays the role of Basanti ,the memorable tangawali and adds comic element to the movie along with Dharmendra.

Think of Sholay and you are flooded with dialogues like “tumhara naam kya hai, basanti?”, “chal dhanno aaj teri basanti ki ijjat ka sawal hai”, “kitne aadmi the”, “ab tera kya hoga, kaalia?” and the list is endless. Think of Sholay and you are flooded with scenes like Veeru standing on the top of tank to get his ladylove or Jai going to mausi to convince her to get Basanti married to Veeru. Think of Sholay and you are taken in by the song of friendship “ye dosti hum nahi torenge”, the evergreen holi song “holi ke din dil mil jate hai” or the romantic “koi haseena jab ruth jati hai to” or the sexy dance number,”mehooba”. Think of Sholay and you are instantly reminded of the jai-veeru friendship, the love saga of Jai and Radha, the loathable gabbar and his psychic escapades. The movie clicked with the audience instantly and became a landmark in the Hindi film industry.

Not many would know that Danny Denzongpa was first approached for the role of Gabbar Singh, which was later immortalized by Amjad Khan. He could not take up the role because he was already commited to Feroz Khan’s Dharmatma. In fact, Amitabh Bachchan was keen to do Gabbar Singh’s role but Ramesh Sippy could only see his Jai in him. It was Dharmendra who suggested Amitabh Bachchan’s name for the movie. Dharmendra himself was keen to play thakur, the police officer but when he came to know that Veeru gets Basanti (Hema Malini) in the end, he happily accepted Veeru’s role. These stories behind the movie are as interesting as the movie itself.

Off late many people tried to remake it, but have severely failed. Aamir Khan tried with Mela which was a box office dud. But the most interesting remake was that of Ram Gopal Verma where Aamitabh Bachchan fulfilled his dream of playing Gabbar. The movie was the worst movie of that year. A word for those trying to remake it again- classics can never be recreated.

Sholay is a must watch for every movie lover. Sholay instantly brings up the image of fire and the fire in the movie still remains alive, as it always will.