Archive for the the good Category

An Jo on Kabali

Posted in the good on July 24, 2016 by Satyam

Handling a super-star beast like Rajnikanth isn’t an easy task. You tame this beast, and it can do some great things. The ‘actor’ in Rajnikanth might have had branches in the form of excellent K Balachander’s movies or even the remakes of Amitabh Bachchan’s super-hits that adorn his super-stardom down south but the roots that make him what he is to his fans are and will continue to be his insane fan-fare thanks to his, in today’s lingo, ‘SWAG.’ . If he tries to break-away from the carefully cultivated image his fans have of him, he is actually cutting off his roots. And that, no super-star, however big — or however powerful an actor might lie within [read Amitabh Bachchan] – can afford – at least in this country. Shankar successfully capitalized and extracted what-ever was needed out of Rajnikanth’s stardom and made a cunningly smart film in ROBOT, where, he ensured the stardom served the film’s greater interests while still garnishing the film with Rajnikanth’s mannerisms and antics that form the magnet to his multitude of Tamil fans. Pa. Ranjith, who gave us the superior MADRAS [a film all about Dalits without ever mentioning the D-word], alas, struggles and fails massively at this soul-struggle of a film. He surely has lost the battle between Rajnikanth the super-star or/and Kabali the film – HIS film. Continue reading

X Files Reviewed

Posted in the good on July 20, 2016 by jayshah

Having read that the X Files was returning to the screen on the blog, I was very surprised & excited to start to watch the new series. I watched the first episode & as my partner enjoyed it to my surprise (as I think Series 10 has turned out to be a bit meh), I suggested to her to start at the beginning.
To novices of this show, which I hold in high regard, a good place to start are the writers. Before Breaking Bad, Homeland, American Horror Story, 24, Fringe, Intruders, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural to name just a few (none of which I have seen but some I hear good things about) there was a TV show in the 90’s that started the career of most these writers – The X Files. Continue reading

Eye in the Sky and the Good Soul…

Posted in the good on July 6, 2016 by Satyam

In light go An Jo’s thoughts on Eye in the Sky I tried to respond elsewhere but then decided to just make a post out of the comment..


I liked both your writeup and the one I’ve referenced here. However I do think the film is ambiguous in a more problematic sense as well or in ways that go beyond the ‘ethical’ stakes raised in the film. The very ‘staging’ of such ethical concerns in a film, the degree to which so many of the principal characters seem tortured by the decision they’re about to make, not just on ‘humanitarian’ grounds but also legal ones (citizenship.. British, US), finally the sense that ‘ordinary’ people in these parts of the world are just going about their daily lives and they too are threatened by ‘fanatics’ all the time (the father chides the girl for playing in front of others who are as he calls them “fanatics”) and who in a sense wouldn’t mind being ‘rescued’ from this hellish existence (not of course at the cost of their children but even those who order the Drone strikes seem to agree on this point, more or less, which makes the decision a somewhat ‘impossible’ one)… this entire framework serves what is precisely the ideological justification for the strikes. Continue reading

An Jo on Udta Punjab

Posted in the good on June 19, 2016 by Satyam

The best shot in Chaubey’s Udta Punjab is at the start when a breezy, too-good-to-be-true romantic night with swaying branches and twinkling stars is interjected with three men stealthily riding a scooter. That the men are from across the border is finely conveyed through a 180 degree shot that reveals the moon-lighting discus-thrower’s homeland. He exercises, huffs, puffs, warms his arms, and finally, throws a majestic throw that will land in Punjab. As soon as it crosses the fence, the parcel stares at us with a cartoonish title-card across the parcel – UDTA PUNJAB. The scene then cuts directly to Shahid Kapoor’s Tommy Singh, a Punjabi rapper high on heroin and consequently music. One waits for more of such directorial quirks; sadly, they hardly come again. It’s uncanny but this scene immediately brought to my mind a segment from John Oliver’s show where he talked about the futility of The-Great-Wall-of-Trump in stopping drugs.
Continue reading

An Jo on TE3N

Posted in the good on June 12, 2016 by Satyam


Out of the many moment-to-moment captivating scenes in TEEN, a couple of them stand out in my memory: a) The opening scene that is a direct throw-back to that time-less comedy, GOLMAAL, and here, Amitabh replaces Utpal Dutt. It’s only the realm that is changed. GOLMAAL’s Bhavani Shankar cut a comical picture; Amitabh’s John Biswas is a defeated, depressed grand-father who’s looking for a closure to his grand-daughter’s kidnapping case that’s 8 years old. Time’s brutal; Amitabh’s gotten old, and it’s already end of June 2016, and I am getting/already old. b) Amitabh sells his rusty but reliable scooter to a peon from a government office [Land Measurement, to be precise] to get some information. The peon says it’s always been one of his dreams to own a 2-wheeler. Continue reading

Gomorrah box set review – a grimly authentic tale of Naples gangsters (THE GUARDIAN)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , on April 29, 2016 by Qalandar

Earlier, related piece HERE.  I’m very interested to see this TV series — I hadn’t liked the movie Gomorrah all that much the first time I saw it, but liked it a whole lot when I re-visited it last year (it is suffused by the sadness of cruelty and meanness, by the sheer sordidness of these criminal enterprises, un-redeemed by the frisson of glamor, by the glamor of power; Gomorrah the film never lets us forget that the power glorified in other gangster films is the power to humiliate, brutalize, and steal, nothing more). The review from The Guardian in this post is from a couple of years ago, and it’s great news that instead of a re-make the series will be broadcast in the USA this year on the Sundance Channel – Qalandar

Excerpt: “The Camorra are a real-life outfit, Secondigliano an actual suburb. That’s what marks Gomorrah out from the cops-and-robbers herd: its roots in reality. And there’s nary a peep from la polizia. Roberto Saviano, who co-developed the show, is a decorated Neapolitan investigative journalist whose fearless 2006 bestseller about the Camorra put him on the mob’s hit list; the government assigned him a bodyguard.

As such, Gomorrah feels grimly authentic, recalling not just The Sopranos but perhaps more vividly The Wire, with its from-the-hip shooting style, drug-trade plot and Bodymore-style cornerboys. Much of the action takes place amid a notorious failed housing project, the Vele di Scampia, which resembles a pair of giant, dirty sneakers dumped on a brownfield.”

Complete review HERE.


BOOK: Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars: The World of Tamil Politics

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2016 by Qalandar

I hadn’t heard of this book but it sounds fascinating — Qalandar

Penguin India’s blurb: “A must for [anyone] who wants to understand Tamil Nadu politics’ “New Indian Express Tamil Nadu is a state very different from the rest of India, both culturally and historically. It has retained a fundamentally separate identity for itself in language and caste structure, and this is most evident in its politics. Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars: The Word of Tamil Politics tells a political story that has all the elements of a blockbuster film, where ironies and larger-than-life characters abound: Periyar, a Kannada-speaker, who introduced the notions of Tamil self-respect and regional pride, yet dismissed Tamil as ‘a barbaric language’; the matinee idol MGR, a Malayalee born in Sri Lanka, who became Tamil Nadu’s most popular mass leader; the Dravidian movement which, by its own ideology, should have helped the Dalits but has instead supported only the upwardly mobile middle groups; and parties that rose to power by propagating anti-Hindi and anti-Brahmin sentiments but have now allied themselves with the BJP. It is fitting that this reel-like scenario is presently dominated by the electoral politics of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, one a scriptwriter and the other a former actress. Well-known writer and journalist Vaasanthi has observed the dramatis personae in this epic drama at close quarters for a decade. Now updated with an additional chapter on the war of succession Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars offers an objective and insightful view of a political world that is both fascinating and perplexing.”