cinema cinema: hindi


It is New Year’s Day 2014 as Caustic Kumar and Moderate Manohar make their way to one of the theaters screening Dhoom 3.

They find that they are not the only ones who are spending the first day of the year watching a film, at that very moment CK remarked

CK: Heard some news about some set ratings is slowly going to replace us.

MM: I heard them, too. Think the recession is catching up in our field too; soon robots will start writing customized articles in long form for readers.

CK: Who reads long form anyway? Imagine the horror when people get to read what exactly they want to!

CK and MM together: The Horror!!!


<Movie Begins>


<Movie Ends>

CK: You go first

MM: No! You go first.

CK: You were the one who complained that you were being made the ‘Watson’ in the two of us.

MM: As if that isn’t true, you are the vociferous one, take the first shot.

CK :< starts to say something…pauses…looks around to the thinning crowd> I actually liked it.

MM: Aha!

CK: What Aha? Can’t I like any film?

MM: Surprised actually, was hoping you will run this down with a bulldozer with the ‘Prestige’ point, which this film is a sort of reworking.

CK: That it is, maybe reworking is not the right word.

MM: But then this is the same reason you had problems with earlier films, I see that clearly the film will work for anyone who has not seen ‘The Prestige’ assuming all those cheering in the audience haven’t seen it.

CK: It does work for people who have seen Prestige too, at least for me. Dhoom 3 takes the big reveal from Prestige and digs with it for plot moments, almost care-able characters. I must say I was not disappointed.

MM: And you are not going to say anything about the increasingly irritating buddy cop routine brought out by Jr.Bachchan and Uday Chopra, forced excuses like world crime conference and the utter buttery premise of a plot.

CK: No. I won’t even try to remind everyone that Katrina appears only when there is a song.

MM: I thought the songs were done quite well, even if you are irritated of their occurrence you cannot look away.

CK: Exactly

<Both then speak on the choreography for a moment>

MM: So you are saying that even if this is more than an ‘inspired’ film, it is alright and you are not going to snipe this down; which is more like the philosophy that I’ve been trying to tell you all the while. That means we are not too different after all.

CK: No such thing, just that this movie didn’t irritate me as such the previous feigned ones did, and there were likeable things going on screen even if you knew what was going to happen. Something emotional I guess, and that I think is a primary requirement for any film.

MM: So you are going to be inconsistent in your views, I don’t know how chief will react to that.

CK: Inconsistent it maybe, but at least I am honest, I don’t think you can have an objective approach to these things, I’m not going to decry anything to which I was hooked to, also this Aamir Khan did lift this film; even if his tics did get quite tiresome in the end.

MM: Clearly you are reading some pseudo-spiritual meditation books, the ones which have bearded sanyasis on the cover with “happiness” quotes.

<CK frowns for a while, not unlike what Aamir Khan does in the film>

MM: Thought you would ask, but nevertheless I couldn’t buy this whole revenge against the bank is the motive for the heist thing, but otherwise yes I did find the film engaging, eye candy entertainment and technically superior; serious doubts are now in mind as to whether the film would have been engaging if not for Aamir.

CK: Speaking of Aamir, what’s with his cheeks, they seem to be playing a completely different role all through the movie, hope they too got paid.

MM: Oddness noted, but not so odd as much as your mild treatment of the film itself.

CK: I have a whole new year to be belligerent.

MM: I look forward to those times.

Happy New Year!








cinema cinema:tamil FRS


This film is strictly reviewed according to the FRS™, for more details on our completely unscientific way of watching movies, do refer to our Irandam Ulagam review.

FRS- Unscientific. Unsympathetic.Unwanted (how’s the tag line buddies?)


A note on noting.

It has come to our notice that the Royal Bengal tiger and the joint family comedy are now endangered, the reason for the tiger’s dwindling population is unknown to us, but the family comedy has surely come to its near end; its proponents have either given up on the genre because the genre’s faithful audience now sit at home and watch TV serials.

And now to the review.


+1: for defying all existing rules and making a film without Santhanam

-2.5: partially misleading title, movie is not about the food served in marriages<possible spoiler>

-10: guy (hero) attends phone call during important meeting thing, first things first, we really hate that. We never get calls during meetings, never, ever.

+5: admirable to see someone attempt a quasi- crazy mohanian film

-34.83: however it isn’t an admirable quasi-crazy mohanian film, if it doesn’t have enough laughs. Definitely not crazy enough; or perhaps we are misreading the film, which is quite possible< the complainant who accuses us of this can write to us, we will duly apologize>

+5: for the heroine not being the daughter or sister of MLA/goonda/main or sub villain( Lekha Washington plays a mechanical engineering graduate who also blogs. We are recruiting such kinds)

+6: actually for all the characters for being simple and rooted and quite likeable

-12: for focussing on stereotypes to provide on humour (not happening buddies) instead of focussing on humour for which situations were rightly setup

-4: thick accents as humour (ok covered in above point, but still we do like to double strike)

+7.89: guy actually doing something do-able (as in real life) to impress girl

-5: what happened to the heroine’s brother????? <No we really want to know, he was there for some time, then went to study for exams?>

-7: subplot (or sub of subplot) based on rumour, again not funny; also the movie takes “the long and winding road” to the end. <Suppressed yawns>

+3: NRI friend who actually is not a threat to your life and will not take away the girl (points given considering the writers have not gone past amjikarai in their whole lives)

-3: hero sidelines Chennai friends when NRI friend appears and saves the day (yes this happens and we take friendships seriously)

-2: Bridesmaids have inherent synchronous giggling quality which they do not find irritating

-1: bajji-sojji based

+10: Delhi Ganesh <as usual a pleasure to watch, but has very little to do>

+5: Crazy Mohan cameo, and that too playing a doc (nth time, still works)

+16: for taking up a subject about which is rarely spoken about in films, also in real life. Well handled.

+1: best use of the phrase “cat is out of the bag”

We really wanted to like this film, but then in life very little things go according to our wants.Maybe a viewing with reduced expectations would have been satisfying.

The title of this review does not mean anything.<Mostly the whole review also>

All numbers are arbitrary and instantaneous.

Review Board, the Lowly Laureate

cinema cinema:tamil



Hello all,

In keeping with the need to provide something new to the reader even in these dark times of incessant bad films we have decided to drop our initial simple verbosity to more graphic, easily understandable numerical schoolboy type ratings system for our movies.

Readers should realise that this is not because of the laziness on the part of our writers, and one more rating system to the existing pool will not make any difference.

We have realised that movie reviewing is a complex process and should not be streamlined akin to a car on an assembly line, but we also feel we have wasted enough words on films that do not even deserve an exclamation. Hence the Faulty Rating System (FRS™), yes this rating is inherently flawed and we hope to achieve some balance as we plod along, there is no science behind this and I’m sure you the reader will have no difficulty in understanding them.

We openly agree that these ratings are not fair, free or fearless and we pray the reader has this in mind all the time.

The Editor, the Lowly Laureate.

Fortunately or unfortunately the first film to be tried under FRS is Irandam Ulagam.

And so it begins.


+1: for anyone making any movie without Santhanam in it. (Fundamental Rule)

+1: for anyone attempting anything other than a comedy featuring Santhanam in combination with some other mildly irritating comic actor. (Extension of fundamental rule)

-3: for trying to show alien land by colouring rocks in purple and orange

-2: white painted face characters that look like they have landed after rehearsing for Dracula: Dead and loving it, the stage musical

-6.5: absolute loss of lip sync, excess point deducted for making audience go through banal dialogue.

– 3: wall of violins to show stirring scenes via classical music BGM, but nothing moves in the movie.

-2: Other world people are dumb, have no concept of love; yet repeatedly try to rape and plunder.

+2: Other world people are actually happy folk whose only worry would have been the non-blooming of color color flowers, do not know why the director is misleading us here. <Points given as grace from audience understanding>

-1: graphics lion whose face is more human than all the human characters in the film

+1: too little irritating characters

-1: too little characters, irritating nevertheless

-2 : orange colour water fall used to indicate other world

-3 : dragons flying over every city but not doing anything else, why are they flying anyway?

-4 : guy drinking in bar, singing badly about love loss, love failure (extra points because this devastating trope has been extended badly to aliens also, yes other world has bar with color color bottles)

-5: Arya

-10: Arya in double role

-10: unwanted show of heroine midriff (generally) especially while sword training in winter when everyone in the other world is more clothed in fur than a hundred wolves

-5: the usual trope that however independent the girl is, she becomes a girl only when “vekkam” comes (vekkam comes has a nice ring to it, anyone use it). Heroine equally fierce in battle as hero, but finally subdues herself???

+12: for the foreigners who speak better tamil than the leads

+5: one unexpected happening

-7: caring heroine who surrounds herself with children and do happy-wappy things just so hero can see and fall in love trope

-8: sudden appearance of numerous villainous characters twenty minutes before movie ends

+8: the appearance of hapless villains is laughter evoking.

-3: curiously shaped swords and increased waiting time of thugs to react, so that hero can finish all dialogs

-1: using swearwords on screen is liberating thing (esp this director, see earlier films)

-2: kick in the groin (supposed to evoke laughter, done multiple times)

-7: Unwanted songs, whenever and wherever placed

-1: knowledgeable young oracle called “Amma” who knows everything, just won’t say anything till the end of the movie trope

-290: true love is undying and all that. (Oh my god!)

+15 to all those who feel the movie is an utter and complete waste of time, but who will be sniped by parties who will put arguments such as , “if only this had been a Hollywood director you won’t question anything”

For which there is only one counter-argument, if it is a good movie you will know it when you see it and a good movie can be made anywhere. And it is clearly possible to make a passable-good movie with the above mentioned tropes.

All numbers are arbitrary and instantaneous.



Review Board, the Lowly Laureate

cinema cinema:tamil

Mistresses of Disguise


Often one is faced with a sort of conundrum while talking with friends and arguing with adversaries, this is of course not idle talk; but most discussions on regional films are put down as a pale imitation or a perfect carbon copy of some other film from some corner of the world; this is of course true. Sadly there are many such films which can be down under the ‘lack of originality’ column, but wait should there be a ‘lack of originality’ column in the first place or in other words should originality be a parameter of necessity. In liking a film? I do not think so.

1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire is the spirit around which K.S. Ravikumar’s 1996 Avvai Shanmugi is built, a story about a dad dressing up as a nanny so that he could meet his children(child in the latter) who have been whisked away from him by court proceedings.

The preceding paragraph sums up both films for those who are yet to see it and will make more sense in the following ones where points are made for and against.

Firstly both are big family films, comedic takes on fragility of the family, sexist at times when the till-then underachieving protagonist instructs (at times by use of song and dance) the ex-lady of the house as to how families run on compromises etc and wins back a place into the family; but then which is more funnier?

Pierce Brosnan a good two years away from Goldeneye, plays a dashing man out to fill the place vacated by idealist<?> voice-over artist Robin Williams and the film progresses with Williams’ attempts to thwart these advances, if you will notice that there is no such character present in Avvai.

 Heera Rajagopal plays the sex-opposite character of Pierce in Avvai, obviously made out as a second romantic lead to suit the star Kamal Haasan.

This is just the first of the things that Avvai doesn’t get right (in a manner of truthful adaptation), the lead heroine played by Meena is not career driven as Sally Field is, to say even more she does not even have a career; there is no particular reason for her to employ a nanny in the first place unless of course you give in to the reason that she assists her father (Gemini Ganesan) in the leather business and is too tied up to look after her daughter.

While Robin Williams’ feminine histrionics can be justified as his career as a voice over artist, Kamal Haasan plays a guy on the fringe of the entertainment industry (a dance assistant) but Doubtfire is a meticulously plain and not entirely funny account of an emotional man trying to win back his children.

Ok funny is a relative thing, what is funnier to you might not move a muscle on my lips; but what is inspiring about Avvai is that it is absolutely outrageous, a full-out attack to make you laugh so much so that it makes Mrs. Doubtfire looks like a tired old mouse saving up cheese.

This outrageousness alone makes Avvai a far better film, while Doubtfire entirely rests on the talent of Williams to make up the humour: a task he never fails; Avvai is filled with seriously funny actors upping the laughs per minute rate. There is the drunken make-up man Joseph who could make a parrot into a monkey, the dumb cook Pasha or Palavakkam Swaminathan with dreams of acting, the much-in love house owner Mudhaliyar, the ever snooping Sethurama Iyer ( Delhi Ganesh in a role like no other) as said above there are not even sketches of any such characters in Doubtfire, with introductions which are so diverse <Avvai> swirls around in madness finally elevating this film to comedic greatness.

My attempts fall in vain, as I will try to explain a sequence as follows: there are two people in love with Kamal Haasan as Avvai Shanmugi while he tries to pitch one against each other by claiming things one normally shouldn’t, at one point it is really difficult for the protagonist to keep track of what lies were said to whom, Avvai willingly finds itself in such hilarious situations from which there is no visible escape route except a deadly end.

Not only the final moments after the big reveal (in true sense) are but a big drag in Mrs Doubtfire, there is also the thread of the Robin Williams character trying to get better in his career(hmmm), which completely lacks the punch and the fulfilment that Avvai’s madness provides.

I agree that I am being unfair to Doubtfire for wanting it to be something which it is not, it is by its own standing a likeable children’s comedy and that’s about it; but that is the only way I get to show how different Avvai is different from Doubtfire and how it appeals to me more, how the seed of the cross dressing dad is borrowed and made into something bizarre, a lesson in uncontrollable madness, the screw-ball to end all screwballs. Avvai is not funny because it is complex, it is complex and funny and improves with every viewing.

All this of course will not matter to those who have never heard of Avvai Shanmugi (or ever will) and those who will find it difficult to appreciate it even with Tamil subtitles, but for those who few, those very few who have seen both movies  are more likely to genuflect to the complete comic madness (again!) of Avvai , so much so that originality arguments are thrown out of the window and down comes the blinds.

So next time, when you state something in the lines of “this film is a frame by frame of that”, make sure you have seen ‘that’ film first and how similar or how different it is, nopes you will have to do more than read the IMDB summary to bring down a movie.

PS: Avvai Shanmugi released to roaring reception on Diwali day 1996, the film’s credits do not acknowledge the writers of Mrs. Doubtfire which it rightly should have, but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from liking the film.

cinema cinema:tamil

CK and MM at the Movies: RAJA RANI




< A famous film critic walked past Caustic Kumar and Moderate Manohar brandishing her free ticket at the poor duo who had been assigned the task of reviewing Raja Rani>

Caustic Kumar: Why doesn’t she pay for the tickets? Why don’t we get press tickets?

Moderate Manohar: Heh, we aren’t even press and I think she is going to give a 4/5 rating and calling it an ‘instant classic’

CK: You’re quite right you know, another Friday another disappointment

MM: My inherent moderate outset…doesn’t allow me to see things your way

CK: there is nothing called an inherent moderate outlook, we are all animals, just that you choose to hide your fur

MM: Didn’t realise you were this angry, but yeah movie was sleep inducing at worst, clearly better than most formulaic

CK: This is formulaic with a double capital F, this is Mouna Ragam with a Mohan back story without any of the interesting moments, and this is Rhythm…wait why am I even comparing this with those

MM: Unfair to compare a debutante’s work with a really fine Vasanth film, we should take this like a film made for today’s youth, reflecting today’s sensibilities

CK: We are today’s YOUTH!!!< Brushes hair forward to hide premature dynamic balding>

MM <laughs>

CK: The only good thing about this film is that it made me think about how nuanced Rhythm is, how loss of a loved one in turn blooms into love for another; this in turn  is an ad film, look at the house they live, it looks like an endorsement for German-made furniture, this film has the heart of a refrigerator. People don’t live like that. <Mumbles further>

MM: At least we had Satyaraj, another example as to how a stature of an actor really fills up for an underwritten role, this film was jumping with character sketches

CK: yes the lovers of the past are expected to be cute and innocent, which is what they are; which is ONLY what they are; the only guy who comes out with minor scratches.

MM: your problem is with the subject matter and not with the filming.

CK: What filming?

<Both laugh>

MM: I agree the film has its faults, but I won’t pour out my anger on someone’s films; I don’t think that is right

CK: I have nowhere else to show my anger in this world, is it too much to ask for an honest film?

MM: We don’t want to go the philosophy-ideologue dialogue, so what did u think of the film’s hero?

CK: You mean Santhanam? He is in this enviable unstoppable streak of one liners, seems films are just made show they can take out his reels to Adithya Channel at once.

MM: He is really good; the film is close to nothing without him.

CK: As I believe, most films improve with days and with subsequent bad films; with the continuing trend people in 2020 will call this an epic romance, so we might as well show this the anger it deserves now. So what’s your one-line on this one?

MM: You know I am not these creative types, but I would like to listen to yours. <pretends to listen but invokes a mobile program that downloads the latest Newsroom episode>

CK<clears throat>: OK here goes, “Raja Rani Rocket and Roarer make up the Jog falls, this Raja Rani made things quite false”

MM: Rhymes <shows thumbs up mockingly>

MM: Next time we must ask the chief for a raise, why do we even do this? It is not as if people are going to stop watching the films we thrash or buy the DVDs of which we worship. Leave all that, nobody even reads us. Why do we even do this?

CK: I dunno…for the love of movies?

MM: for the love of movies.

<Exeunt in auto with working meter>