Friday femme fatales: A look back at the movies this week
Let’s just say that cinema has generally seen better weeks than the one that just whizzed by us. There was the Hollywood biggie, Life, about a Mars alien whose biggest threat is how uninteresting it becomes with each passing minute. The film’s biggest achievement, however, has surely got to be the makers’ sales pitch to Jake Gyllenhaal. How they managed to get him on board for a character less animated than the Mars alien, I’ll never know. In a sense, you could say that the film itself is embodied in the alien, considering how it gores the living hell out of all the talented actors on board.
Meanwhile, there was little respite to be had from Tamil cinema if you turned that way. It was one of those five-for-one weeks, as a whole host of small films jostled for screen space, in the absence of a biggie. As we draw closer to Baahubali’s release, don’t be surprised to see many such small films emerge cautiously from hiding. This Friday, however, there was no Dhuruvangal 16, there was no Maanagaram. There was no unlikely hero.
Kadugu was promoted as the dark horse, and a return to form for its director Vijay Milton, whose last film was the excruciating 10 Enradhukulla. If anything, Kadugu showed that the safe way to redeem yourself as a filmmaker is to take refuge in a self-righteous film as it is unlikely to be rubbished easily. It’s all well in keeping with the times, I suppose. What wasn’t though is the film’s portrayal of internet romance, which wasn’t even remotely in keeping with the awareness of say, a Kadhalar Dhinam that released almost two decades ago. My heart goes out to Bharath, who just can’t catch a break it seems, despite a string of sincere performances.
In comparison, Katamarayudu, the Telugu remake of Ajith’s Veeram, is an unabashed glorification of its hero, Pawan Kalyan, fondly called by his fans as Powerstar. If only they knew the infamy attached to the sobriquet in Tamil Nadu. Katamarayudu has everything you’d expect of vainglorious masala films: deification of the hero, slo-mo fight sequences, energetic songs shot inexplicably in foreign locales, and most alarmingly of all, a wafer-thin female character in need of constant male protection. There’s one scene in which she’s shown hanging from a tree branch (don’t even ask) barely a foot above the ground, and she is too scared to jump this ridiculously insignificant height until the hero comes back to bring her down, hands around her waist, in slow motion.
And that’s why even though Anushka Sharma’s Phillauri was reasonably entertaining, Anaarkali of Aarah, starring Swara Bhaskar, is my pick of last week’s releases. Unlike Life, it has a role worthy of the talent of its lead actor. Unlike Kadugu, its lessons aren’t hammered in, and definitely not at the expense of sophisticated filmmaking. Unlike Katamarayudu… Scratch that. Let’s not even go there.
The writer is the entertainment editor at The New Indian Express