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Movie Mania

The Amazing Visuals of Baahubali

The day the Baaubali 2 trailer was released, it was the hottest forward on all my Whatsapp groups. Goes to show how much expectations the movie has created. For me, Baahubali on the first viewing didn’t impress me at all. I was more concerned about the explicit violence depicted. Even when i watched Arundhati, it was the same feeling of queasiness that i got. I was hooked by the movie but repulsed by some of the dialogues and scenes.

But the second time around, I watched Baahubali, (must be like a year after), I ensured that i didn’t have any disturbances and fully focused on what the movie had to offer. This time around I paid a lot of attention to the detailing, the scenes. And I was so blown away.  I was blown away by Rana Daggubati, the song Dheerane (which was on loop for quite sometime after), and one scene with Ramya Krishnan, which literally shook my core. I am glad to see an Indian director, not just treating the ladies in the film as beautiful art pieces, but also as muses that inspires art. (more on that later)

Another fact that awed me was that I could just randomly pick out any shot in the movie and that would have been a wonderful poster. So i spent my third viewing, snapping pictures of the many scenes that I loved and wouldn’t mind having as posters.

Dheerene

For me in that song, the hero was not Prabhas or Tamannah, it was the amazing falls. And there are so many shots in the song, long shots, which shows the falls in all its mighty glory

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Prabhas is ant-like compared to the endlessly towering falls

 

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I love how the sunlight is tinging the water a golden hue, like molten liquid gold.

 

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Rana Daggubati

Baradwaj Rangan of the Film Companion, had likened him as ‘Oak-Like” and i hooted with laughter reading that, because, i don’t think there can be any other better analogy for the impressive looking Rana, especially in his intro scene. It took me a lot of time to click these two images, because i realized that the particular segment gets over in a matter of seconds. Pity! I would have really loved to see this lunge completed in this same angle instead of cutting to a reaction shot.

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Prabhas

Talking about lunges, looks like not only has the director made the actors do a lot of lunges in the gym, but also on the sets. This movie has a lot of action spun around leaps and lunges. from the ground, from the fortress, from the cliff, through the fire…

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I was told, that the above pic is a copy from an action scene involving Hawk Eye. But that does not take away the thrill of watching this leap

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Kattappa

Below are two amazing snaps of the two defining moments of the film and of course it involves Kattappavlcsnap-2017-02-19-23h09m19s720vlcsnap-2017-02-19-23h40m34s092

Looking at these two images side by side, I wonder, whether the elements of fire and rain is supposed to have a deeper meaning? Like when Kattappa had to kill Baahubali, his mind was literally on fire for having to do this betrayal and that when he finally found Sivadu, this fire that has been consuming him for years, has finally been doused? Or am i just overthinking this?

The Goddess

Mother Kali, the Goddess blessing the warriors looks impressive in this picture and it conforms to all usual notions of Amman,

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But the director has also given another portrayal of Goddess. OK, she is not the Goddess here, but I was gobsmacked by the imagery and how much that single picture conveyed, All the feelings I felt when I saw the blood splattered Sivagami, calmly feeding the two possible successors to Mahismathi…. I mean, i don’t know whether there can be any other gesture that can show that both the boys are equal in all ways. And this image has become my new image of a Goddess… Always Goddesses are either depicted as a nurturing mother or a fiery warrior.I It is always either or. For the first time I am seeing an imagery that shows both – Being a warrior and a mother at the same time..

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And for this one image,  only this image, I am now a big fan of S S Rajamouli.

Don’t lock the Manichithrathazhu

Yesterday, yet again I saw manichithrathazhu… Probably for the 105th time? And I never seem to tire of it. It’s influence on me was phenomenal. All during my adolescent years I was saying that either I will be a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I became neither and that is another long story worthy of a 3-part blog post. But that movie made me fascinated about the human mind it’s depths, it’s intricacies -like a glacier where only 10% is known and the rest remains an enigma. 

And movies that impact me, triggers a craving to know more about it. And I end up googling like crazy for the next one hour, for any tidbit, some scrap of trivia that can assuage my fevered curiosity. (Such a kind of a search last night led me to a blog which hypothesised that Ganga was a lesbian… 🤐) This happened also right after I watched Kammattipadam. I wanted to know more about it. What were the difficulties they faced in recreating the Ernakulam of the 60s. How did they over come those obstacles. Where did these people (the story writers – Madhu Muttam or P. Balachandran) get the inspiration to write such amazing stories? 

U know Hollywood has spawned an entire industry of collectibles and Blu rays long after a cult movie is released – extended version, director’s cut, remade, digitised and re-released version (eg Star Wars)… Hmmm, how would it be if Manichithrathazhu was re-released in theatres, just like how My Dear Kuttichathan was? I for one would be delighted. And going by the IMDb ratings and so many people gushing over it, I am sure there would be many takers for it. Or atleast a DVD re release with the full movie (the ones that you get now are shortened versions, many scenes were cut for the sake of brevity) with the story writers or directors commentary. Or a “making of the movie”, movie? Oh, the possibilities !!! Come on New generation and Malayalam film industry – you are not short on ideas like before. Give us fans something to chew on… Don’t lock up the Manichithrathazhu!

Kabali – review

I had always wanted to write a movie review. I’ve been quite inspired by the blog of Mr. Baradwaj Rangan, and I love the way he writes about movies, the passion, the sarcasm and the discussion thread. But since I am living in the cinematically barren land of Burundi, I have no hope of reviewing movies first hand and by the time I watch anything, another thirty movies would have already been released. So I was thrilled that Kabali was releasing during my trip home and super excited like every other super star fan… Finally I got to watch it today, and here goes my two cents along with a million other reviews of it.

First of all, I feel the biggest mistake of the movie was, the team had not managed the expectations of the movie well. This is not a Rajini movie or a P. Ranjith movie. This is a gangster movie. Period. Hence it follows that THIS movie should not have got U certificate. If like Billa, they had gone for the proper certification, and managed expectations, families would not have thronged the cinema halls expecting a “masala padam” and thereafter left the theater sorely disappointed. Basically it is a pure marketing failure. And also a mistake from the team trying to make it look like a mass movie. Which it is not. But having read the reviews, I was not expecting… basically I kept my expectations at zero level and because of that, I was not disappointed. 

Frankly, I was thrilled by the fact that this movie does not have the superstar shaking his leg in duets and running around trees. Finally! And sincerely, he doesn’t have to. Also this is one movie which does not try to teach women their place. Or women waiting to be rescued. Instead this movie has a tomboyish daughter who is no lesser than any man in her job and does not need to be rescued… I know her characterisation was not really appreciated. But I was enthralled by her super cool look and badass attitude. And this coming in a Superstar movie, has given me goosebumps. (I am so used to seeing determined women shown as headstrong and arrogant, eg. Mannan and Padayappa, women who have to be tamed. But here, his daughter is a gangster, but there is no condescension instead there is acceptance – acceptance of who she is and her judgement)

I know the superstar does not use Botox for his off screen public appearances. But have they used it for the movie? Is that the reason why, some of his dialogue delivery does not seem smooth? Frankly, I liked the bearded look more than the clean shaven look. (By the way, what is up with all the fake tattoos and the bling? Is this a true depiction of the people there or just the imagination of the stylist let to go berserk?)

Another thing that I appreciate was that there are no song and dance breaks for the movie and the songs were seamlessly integrated with the story. This is a welcome trend in current movies, especially Malayalam movies and I am glad that the director has taken some bold decisions to do away with many such unnecessary interruptions to the story. But having said that, I cannot help wondering if the movie could have been a better viewing experience, had the flashback scenes been tauter and the movie slightly  shorter. (What was the need to show an elongated chase scene for Dinesh, which only unnecessarily adds to the lengthy and goriness of the movie? And also show the “moment” between him and Dhansika, if they didn’t plan to elaborate on it?)

But how well these decisions to do away with the clichés – one SPB intro song, one romantic song, parallel comedy scenes, advise on how women should behave, punchlines on how manly a man is, mother-father-sister sentiment, are received by the non multiplex viewers, only time can tell.

6 Animated movies that children should watch

Stories have the power to convey subtle messages to people. Isn’t that why stories have always been the means of preachers to easily send a message across. Jesus conveyed his message through parables, Buddhist monks preached “Dhamma” to the people through the Jataka tales, the humorous Mulla Nasruddin stories embodies Sufi teachings and Vishnu Sharma sought to impart the principles of “Niti” to the 3 ignorant Princes through the Panchatantra tales.

But now movies have overtaken orally narrated stories as the primary source of entertainment for children. So why not make the best of the situation and use what we have to convey some good messages across to our children.

So this is a list of 6 movies which in my opinion has a good value to teach to children, and of course they are quite entertaining. No, i have not watched all the animated movies in the world, so I may have left some good ones out. (Please leave in the comments any other movie which you think worthwhile) Nevertheless here goes, 5 movies that children should watch, in no particular order.

1. Cars

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This 2006 animated movie is about a world filled with anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles. It is about a race car trying to win a race. Problem is, he knows only to win a race and nothing else. Sounds familiar, right? I mean, who in this social media age is not running a race? And many of us may not be lucky enough to get an intervention like Lightning Mc Queen. His encounters with Doctor Hudson, Sally and Mater, makes him understand the finer, better things in life. Which leads to the climax, the true culmination point of his learnings. I might have watched the movie at least a dozen times. But every time, it never fails to draw tears.

2. Iron Giant

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Hogarth Hughes: [to the Giant, in battle mode] It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.

A little known movie from 1999, this movie is about the friendship between a boy and an alien iron giant. Moral conflict has always been a core issue in most animated movies where the protagonist finally does the right thing. This is movie is no different. When a robot built to be a weapon, is faced with mortal threat, what will it choose to do – to behave as it is programmed to do or do what it feels it should do? This message can be interpreted with multiple layers of complexity and hence a good movie to show children and adults.

Considering that my children are seeing guns everyday, it is specially enheartening to hear them mouth the words above in their play time.

3. The Lion King

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Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.

Young Simba: But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?

Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

As a young child, I loved The Lion King and I still do. The Circle of Life is the reason why I put it in the list. But there are so many impactful scenes. In fact one of my most favourite scene of all times is the segment where Mufasa reprimands Simba after rescuing him from the elephant grave. It is a perfect Masala movie with laughter, sadness, love, family, betrayal etc.

4. Frozen

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Finally Disney has started rectifying the wrong that they had perpetuated though the decades from their first movie – Snow white and the seven dwarfs. Finally they have started making movies echoing contemporary thoughts and not just building on the fantasy and illusions spun around “Love”. Finally they made a movie, where “love at first sight” is not glorified, but actually teased at.

Anna: Oh well, it was all my fault. I got engaged, but then she freaked out because I’d only just met him, you know that day. She said she wouldn’t bless the marriage and…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?

Anna: Yes, pay attention, but the thing is she wore the gloves all the time, so I just thought, maybe she has a thing about dirt…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Didn’t your parents ever warn you about strangers?

And they also gave a new twist to the phrase “Act of true love”. Frankly one shouldn’t have been surprised by the twist. But the fact that movie makers have started considering other “acts of love” worth making movies about, is actually giving me goose bumps.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

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Animated movies have always been about the underdog, how David wins over Goliath. How good triumphs over evil. But recently there has been a slight shift in the portrayal of underdogs. For e.g., Despicable me was about a villain, Wreck it Ralph was about the “bad” game character, How to train your dragon was about the evil dragons. Just that once you get to know the motive behind their actions, it does not feel so evil anymore, and in fact you start sympathizing with them. I have always felt that this is the truth about our world. Nobody is particularly evil. Just that their lifestyle is different, it may sometimes clash with ours and that a little understanding and an open mind can do wonders in bringing peace.

6. Lorax

Dr. Seuss imaginative characters and alliterating rhymes have brought pleasure to many a young reader for many decades. His Seuss-isms are indeed a treasure chest full of fantastical rhymes and immeasurable meaning.

Like all good books which gets a movie adaptation, Lorax is one such movie based on the book of the same name. It tells the story of the Once-ler who had a great idea and built a whole new industry around it. But along the way, he forgot to – care. And what happens when finally someone does care… it is a fun movie with catchy songs and introduces children to the concept of pollution, deforestation etc.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

These are the 6 animated movies in English that children should watch (for their good message). I will follow this post soon with 5 live action movies in English on the same subject. Please feel free to name other movies in the comments section.

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