cinema cinema:english reviews

Not an unsuitable job for a woman

CK, MM and somebody else watch the spy comedy called “SPY”

CK got out of the auto, rushed towards the newly laid granite steps of theatre only to be shocked.

CK: What the efff are you doing here?

Well you can’t really blame the usage of the expletive, after all no one expects your writing partner who hurried away for a career break in the US to be standing outside a theatre in Koyambedu.

MM or Moderate Manohar as he is known in certain circles or Mano as he is known in domestic circles looked cheerful to see his partner, but his face also gave away a hint of sadness.

CK: Mod! You look like you have been chucked out of the Chicago Sun Times

Was the first thing CK said to MM.

MM: I’ve been chucked out from the Chicago Sun Times.

CK: What? Why, you don’t need to say that just to make me feel happy.

MM: I’m not, in more ways than one that is the truth, but now I’m back. Took back the job this morning, bargained hard for a raise but chief wouldn’t budge.

CK( now feeling all brotherly) : Typical of Chief! Let’s get cracking now.

MM: We are supposed to meet someone now, we have been assigned to one more writer.

CK: What? Already two’s a crowd, no offense Mod, but three will be the Kumbh Mela, how are we to converge on opinions.

MM: That’s the whole point CK, we are not, the magazine plans to bring out a 360 degree view on film, all our views on it.

Just then when everybody else had retreated into the theatre and only CK, MM and the cleaners who had turned out to be extremely punctual for the next show remained, a motorcycle drove in and from beneath the government imposed helmet emerged a head and that of a woman.

CJ: I was supposed to meet you two here, outside the theatre, chief sent me.

<CJ said to the cleaners>

MM: Hey! It’s not them, it’s us, we are the reviewers here.

<aside> For God’s sake CK please dress better than a domestic help.

CK made an irritating face, but morphed into an adequate smiley for the informal introductions. For sake of integrity we will not describe how CJ looks like.

CK <to MM>: Her? I don’t see this happening

CJ: I heard that

CK and MM are not yet fully aware of CJ’s super hearing as hey bolt to the screen just in time for Mellisa McCarthy’s name beam into prominence from the title sequence of Spy. And so it began.


When the lights came back and the three realised they were the only fellows left in the theatre, apart from the cleaning staff; they decided to utilise this time to discuss what they should be writing about.

The usually “I will not tell my point till prodded” CK was the first to mouth, understandable because CK is usually excited when he witnesses such a film, especially if it a spy pastiche.

CK: I would eat my words if you don’t think this movie is worth your time

MM: I would have thought similarly if only it hadn’t fallen down to the level of fat woman falling down type jokes

CK: Hyeshh! those were funny…<realises CJ’s presence>

CJ: Look I don’t care if you laugh at a woman falling, my question is only if there are enough men falling from motorcycle jokes that irks me…

CK: Well you can’t really be counting the things that we laugh about and in SPY they were just a minimum, we must see it like a bit from America’s funniest videos or something

CJ: It’s not a bit, it is a gag, an easy one at that. Make the woman, run, fall, hit cake on her face

MM: Oh come on, for the sake of comedy

CJ: Let someone try that on you, look guys, I get context and all, this IS comedy and anything goes and over analysis is kindoff banal here and to be true I did think this was funny, but I guess there is something for everyone to laugh at

MM: Apart from the easy jokes, which were sprinkled, I liked that part where the female characters try and establish a connection between themselves, the bumbling detectives, the deputy chief of CIA and the agent, even the villain and the spy, I thought that was really sweet.

CJ: That’s what women do, establish connections, refreshing to see the genre from a different stand point

CK: I love this genre, just everything about it, the trumpets, the silhouette models, the cracking action scenes; the relationship between spy and villain reached dizzyingly different levels of satisfaction, I think to the level between Goldfinger and James Bond is not at all a wrong analogy when you are speaking about Susan Cooper and the villain played by Rose Bryne

MM: Well, odd that you notice the soundtrack, I never got much out of it except of course when compared to Kingsman, which is a movie that we should be comparing a lot too

CJ: Too many spy movies, just too many funny spy movies. But atleast Susan Coop gets the job without any smiling prince ‘aiding’ her, Jason Statham here exactly trying to be that character but failing all the time

MM: I thought he was brilliant, a type of supporting character that doesn’t actually support.

CM nods in agreement.

CK: I don’t think this should be taken in comparison with Kingsman just because it is a spy film, Kingsman was a Bond homage propah spy film, also more of a comment on class. This is a comment on women’s work rights masquerading as a spy comedy.

CJ: I wouldn’t take the women’s work rights angle but probably we should write something about this and Mad Max, something under “Rise of the feminine flicks” or something like that.

MM: The chief might like that. Let’s just say that we love this film, but only various degrees of love.

<MM starts on a tone that resembles lecturing, while CJ and MM make ‘let’s get the hell outta here’ face>

Cleaning Staff: Guys!

All three: Yep, we are leaving

Cleaning Staff: Next time wear distinguishable clothes

<Theatre Door SLAM, roll credits>

CK<pssting to MM>: psst Mod, can I use “a supporting character who actually does not support line?” that was really good.

MM doesn’t know what to say

<And cut to black screen>

cinema:tamil reviews




Moderate Manohar approached the end of the corridor with much hesitation, in his hands was an envelope, the fine-ness of it indicated its foreign nature. As the door creaked to an open, he could see Caustic head down on the table, the room only filled with the soft electronic buzz of an unsaved word document.

“CK, the appointment has come….” Began Mod quite loudly.

MM: CK, the appointment has come!

CK: huh…what?

MM: the appointment from Chicago Sun Times, it came in the mail just now.

CK< widens smile>: IS it? Wow when are we leaving?

MM: Not we.

CK: huh?

MM: It’s only me they want, as in…they can only accommodate me right now.

<A little background here, CK and MM quite fed up with their lives in Chennai had applied for the post of resident movie reviewers in Chicago, although CK was sceptical about working abroad, he finally realised its importance and was quite looking forward to it, now everything had just fallen flat for him>

CK took a moment, or maybe even shorter than that to recover and went ahead and patted MM on the shoulder.

CK: “Great, you are taking this up right?”

The room was again filled with MM’s hesitation and the soft electronic buzz.

Some higher power intervened in the form of the editor who barged in unannounced like he owned the place, in fact he did.

Aye Sinamika Tamil Lyrics – OK Kanmani

“CK!MM!, OKK review on my table, fifteen minutes, already every major media and everyone with a Facebook account has already written a lot about it. We shouldn’t miss out.” The editor walked out with the same pace.

MM: Let’s discuss the movie first, later perhaps…

CK: Nevermind…whenever it suits you.

MM: Should we start with the bit about how bold Mani Ratnam is, making a film on live-in relationships?

CK: No….this isn’t about that, I mean at least I feel so, it isn’t.

MM: Should I wait for you to tell what’s it about?

CK: It is about validation of love, this whole live in relationship thing is to keep it all contemporary and all that… you know like that skype call and the iPad song

MM: So contemporary that they have T.M Krishna’s latest book “A Southern Music” in the shelf somewhere in PrakashRaj’s house

CK: Understandable, considering the fact that Leela Samson plays an Alzheimer’s affected Carnatic singer, oh my god their walls are the same colour as the zari of the Kanchipuram sarees that these singers wear for concerts, so much richness. Also Thanjavur painting, it is the stuff upper middle class dreams are made of

MM: let’s come to the production design bits later, let us get back to the validation of love part, I think that this is a new concept, the exploration of live-ins

CK: ..Mod, that’s what the director wants you to believe, to linger on the surface, the whole movie is about Tara and nobody else. Tara is the updated version of the Mouna Raagam Revathy.

MM: hmm..wild, willing to break rules and attracted to rash lover boy types and bored with domesticity etc…

CK: exactly, but she is also in a way the Agni Nakshatram Nirosha, not giving a damn because of a troubled past. Tara here hates marriage because her parent’s divorce affects her even now.

MM: But she falls for Aadi….they both fall for each other.

CK: Yes, but she never thinks much of him, atleast he is thankfully never full of himself, he just says “he will become rich like Gates etc”, she doesn’t think much of his game development career also when compared to her overtly passion filled love for architecture, she really doesn’t want anything serious.

MM: so when she really does realise she loves him anyway, he is about to go and he has already done something, but still she will only want him to say it. < “Marriage”>

CK: Yes enough instances to prove that this is a Tara fuelled relationship and not a flirty boy meets serious girl cute love story. First call back, first kiss even, all initiated by Tara.

MM: I see…where this is going, but what about Bhavani and Ganapathy, where do they actually fit in?

CK: they are clear examples for Tara to believe that a traditional relationship can work, she seems to be the one who is most affected by the happenings in their lives. Again a validation that she requires for secure love, in the end she isn’t clear about her career.

MM: So this is how is it going to be written? I mean this line of thought?

CK: What other is there? Isn’t this plain as daylight?

MM: No…no…what about the actors? The setting…the music and PC’s camera work, he seems to have let out this beast of a camera on this couple and the writing itself?

CK: Isn’t it what the others will also be saying? Mumbai trains and rains, mornings with pigeons flying, tastefully lighted blanket interiors and characters who alternate between sophistication and words of yore (“ummanamoonji! Kadavul”), the director’s insistence that friends of protagonists be as beautiful as them, etc, isn’t it what the others will also be writing or already written? OK we can write such stuff as well.

MM: Hmm..yes I think, I haven’t read any of them…in totality I liked the film, even from this love-validation-security angle you are coming from

CK: that’s the only angle I like the film from, and also Nitya Menen’s eyes.

MM: Surely we will throw in a bit about Nitya Menen’s eyes and what about Mani Ratnam’s comeback?

CK: What about it?

The editor walked in again, looked at the manuscript and said, “Throw in a few words about Nitya Menen’s eyes and about Mani Ratnam’s comeback, also meet-cute love story of our times etc”

MM: Yes sir, it’s there

Editor: Good, good Manohar, so this will be your final filing for my magazine…congrats on your appointment in Chicago. As for you CK, you are stuck with me for life.

CK: That, I am, sir.

CK went back to his table to file the final copy, but in the ruckus that the foreign appointment had created, he forgot to mention that the video game within the movie had a more interesting storyline than the movie itself and about The Shining reference he had caught in the film.

It was at this time MM said, “We need to talk”



ck and mm

“In the darkness that is the theatre, it doesn’t matter if you’re a critic or a common man”

Anonymous,but sensible quote.


Caustic Kumar(CK): Are they going to have some celebrations now that we are back

Moderate Manohar(MM): We don’t encourage any kind of celebrations

Editor: What celebrations? Get back to work!

CK and MM together: We have come up with a unique format which could give us a head start when compared to the other movie scribes; it is so different that it has never been tried before in the history of movie criticism!

Editor: Even in the US?

CK and MM: Even in the US!

Editor: No! Just get back to work!

CK and MM walk back with wry smiles; CK sees that his table hasn’t been cleaned since the time he left.

CK: It’s good to be back (hmpf)

MM: Whether you like it or not Caustic, film criticism is dead, not that we were any good but then, anyone with a facebook account can write a review

CK: it’s just parameters, these are not reviews

MM: as in?

CK: parameters, any viewer goes in with a set of parameters which they have accumulated in the back of their mind, they match their reflections to these parameters and put it down as a status. That’s simply not a review.

MM: Oh, so how is ours…umm I mean yours different from them?

CK: Our…sorry my process is based on feeling, pure feeling and feeling gives context.

MM: Do you think the people out there care? Why would take your feeling to their head when they can have their own.

CK: I do not know if they care, maybe they do not, but this is the only way I express myself.

MM: hmm…typical

CK: It seems that little hiatus you took, has made you more proficient in mockery

MM: For God’s sake CK, lets discuss Kaththi, our bickering already eaten up 320 words!

CK: maybe you’re right, where to begin?

MM: At the beginning, did u see the pattern? This is Enga Veetu Pillai (Ram aur Shyam for our northern audience, if any i.e) meets Rajadhi Raja meets whatever hero who tried this active- passive hero swapping places for the greater good of mankind plot

CK: My God! Mod!, you stole the words from my mouth, yes it is the same sub-sub-genre if something could be called that, but you know, this is a genre that actually works when done well, I still catch Enga Veetu Pillai on TV, it has some great moments

MM: And here?

CK: Oh, where do we begin, the movies cited above really had some kind of thing going for them, because they did not take their plots too seriously…seriously as in the outcome of the plot would not have changed the whole world as such, both Enga Veetu Pillai and Rajadhi Raja had domestic and limited even personal problems

MM: Exactly! Here’s this film deals with changing the mindset of city dwellers about the struggle of the farmers and there is this character swapping happening in between.

CK: I really like film with social causes, they make you feel so small, question your very existence, might help you become a big time buyer of organic products etc

MM: what are you saying!?

CK: I don’t care, I mean I don’t really care about society, as in do I always have to show the world how I really think that I care about the society?  If my intention of caring will really change the plight of millions then I will, I really like how easy it is to take sides and paint the other guys as black, it really helps from a writer’s POV. If you are a corporate guy, you will be bad, even your henchmen will be bad, your security guy will be bad…on the other hand… if you are from a village

MM: SHhhhh!!! Some years ago, you might remember that Raguvaran as Anthony employed the well-meaning Vijaykumar, even when they had a conflict of interest.

CK: Yes! Conflict, no conflict here, which made me root for none, there, is no writing here, just positioning. If movies are the guilt based conscience awakener that could reform society then with the number of society-conscious heroes, our would have been the most developed country in the world

MM: So you’re saying that if a director feels strongly about poverty, he should not make a film about it?

CK: Who am I to say such things? I have no rights even, but then I have the rights to question the motives of a director who goes from farmer suicides to “let’s take a selfie pulla” within seconds.

MM: hmm yes disturbing…

CK: and the heroine…

MM: Caustic, we made a pact about not discussing things that will be usually discussed in other reviews, like hero performance, opening songs, cinematography, heroine, item numbers, music, technicalities, comedy tracks etc…

CK: yes, readers know these things anyway. But couldn’t help but notice, why is she there? I mean why?

MM maintains some kindoff silence

CK: leave it Mod, I have reformed, I am going to help the blind man cross the street.

MM: Who?

CK points to a frail figure walking slowly

MM: That’s our editor!

CK: oh didn’t realise from the distance, anyhow Mod, it feels good to be back

MM: It’s good to be back!

cinema cinema:tamil


                             CK AND MM AT THE MOVIES
                         YAAMIRUKKA BAYAME
Yaamirukka Bayame
Moderate Manohar was unusually late to the theatres, he had by now guessed that good old Caustic would have taken his seat and would be getting impatient, not because he longed company to see a film but because he knew he would have to narrate to Manohar what was lost in the minutes.
Wiping dripping sweat and cursing the Automan who asked for 20 rupees more than the meter rate, Manohar ran to the ticket counter with his mobile phone cradled in his hands.
“C3” said the gruff voice from behind the counter.
Not minding the unusually dark atmosphere, Manohar continued on his run, stamping on feet of family men, women and children to finally take the seat.
“Sorry Im late, what did I miss?” asked Manohar with some trepidation.
No reply.
Manohar by now had realised that Caustic was fuming and he wouldn’t speak to him till the movie ends, he tried to look at his colleague’s face, but in the darkness he couldn’t get a reaction. Manohar had no other choice but to watch the film as it is.
As the movie progressed however Manohar had forgot all this and was starting to enjoy the movie for what it was, laughing mostly, and his anxiety over missing the first few scenes had vanished.
 He had begun to realize that this was one of the funniest films he had seen this year.
The film ended.
As the lights came on, he decided to confront Caustic Kumar with the issue, he knew he had been late, but being ignored for the entire length of the movie was not something he would like to experience again.
“Now see here, CK…” Moderate began, only there wasn’t anyone in the next seat, the plush pushback leather was empty. There was no way for CK to have got up and left, he would have surely passed Mod.
Shocked and unable to react Mod sat still in the same chair thinking until he heard a call out.
“Hey Mod! Mod!”
It was Caustic Kumar of course, the most cheerful avatar of him waving from the front. Mod by now had been thinking if the Lowly Laureate had sacked him being a gutless git. Shit, they had hired him in the first place because he was one.
The world around him spun. Up and Down. Up and Down.
“I thought you wouldn’t come” said CK as he made his way through the empty seats, “I thought I could change the column to Caustic Kumar Proudly Presents…”
“Stop it! Why did u act so differently during the movie, you refused to acknowledge my existence just because I was late” this was Mod.
“What! You didn’t even turn up I watched the movie alone, there was nobody I knew in G4”
“C4, not G4! See Caustic, you have sat in the wrong place”
“It is clearly G4, and we need to stop this bickering now Mod, we have a review to write remember?” CK said holding out a ticket stub.
Silence followed as MM calmed down and started to think on the movie.
MM: I think it is great! Not because it is an under-seen genre in Tamil, but this horror comedy really works!
CK: Hmmm…but hold your horses Mod, it is good. Not as great as you make it out to be, the first few minutes were close to terrible, I don’t know it doesn’t even prepare us for what comes next. I was sitting there thinking this is one of ‘those’ movies again.
MM: I missed the first few minutes, seems I haven’t missed much
CK: Yes, but nicely tied to the ending as well, what is interesting for me is the blending of the genres and both horror and comedy work big time in Yaam Irukka Bayame. And this guy Karunakaran…
MM: super straight face, I’m wishing he would do more. There is also some good slapstick, which hardly works in other films, guess there is some magic to it when done correctly
CK: And the running gags…
They pause and discuss Vaaya Vaaya for a moment and in unison they said.
CK and MM: Nobody would be able to look into a mirror normally ever again; this film actually is worth a watch for these elements alone and for the laughs.
MM: aren’t you going to say anything about Oviya?
CK: What about her?
MM: Never mind, so overall we basically agree on most things that is a good thing.
CK: Positive.
MM: Let me check with the counter guy on the C4-G4 issue.
Mod walks out into the darkness of the night and is surprised to see that there isn’t any ticket counter at all.
CK: What counter guy? There was no counter, just someone who checked the mobile phones for tickets.
MM: What theatre is this anyway?
CK: I dunno, some theatre. See, don’t be flustered and tell yourself it’s only a movie!
They both walk out in search of a meter abiding auto, while lightning strikes in the background and dark clouds start to group as though it is some congregation.
                                                   THE END
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>