Talking Movies: Let there be light
In this weekly column, we take a look at the films releasing this weekend and this week it is Nimir, Padmaavat and Bhaagamathie
Last Friday was rather quiet in terms of film releases. The weekend between Pongal and Republic Day always is. To make up for the general absence of regional releases, we had quite a few English films trying to cash in, and among them was the terrific Darkest Hour, which quietly sank without too much ado. Perhaps the half-a-dozen Academy Award nominations it’s since begotten could end up getting it more interest. But perhaps not, given that the Republic Day long weekend, this week, has brought in a bunch of promising films.
The film that shook a country
The title still feels crippled, as crippled as the freedom of expression in our country, some would say. But before Padmaavat could get further letters knocked out, it’s somehow made it to theatres just for the loss of ‘I’ — which seems rather poetically indicative of the loss of individual freedom. Some states, of course, are still resisting, and so, depending on where you live in the country, the film may or may not be playing in your neighbourhood.
As for the film itself, it’s released to mixed reviews, but everyone is united by their praise for the visual splendour. The detailing of a time when the night was alight with candles, when people were ruled by kings, when women’s ornaments likely weighed as much as they did, when an annoyed king meant a full-scale war…. and who better than Sanjay Leela Bhansali to take you into such a world? Even if the film turns out to be as mediocre as some will have you believe, it would still be worth watching as an exercise of trifling resistance against the growing number of censor groups in the country.
The ferocious heroine
Anushka, the ferocious, returns as the protagonist with Bhaagamathie. The Nayanthara of Telugu cinema, she’s previously starred in successful films like Arundhati and Rudhramadevi that were mounted on her appeal. Even if the films feel a tad similar, given the infusion of period and horror elements, it’s always great to have stories written for a female protagonist. The trailer of Bhaagamathie doesn’t seem to indicate a particularly novel universe, but hey, better a woman who slaughters than one who cowers.
Udhay and a remake
The last Udhayanidhi Stalin film to get overwhelmingly positive reviews was Manithan, which was a remake of Jolly LLB. Taking cue from that perhaps, with this week’s Nimir, he returns with another remake, this time of Malayalam hit, Maheshinte Prathikaram. He has large shoes to fill, given he is reprising the role played by Fahadh Faasil in the original. But it could just work, given the story is about a simple man in a village who has a simple ambition, and the simplicity at the heart of it all could suit the actor’s no-frills image. The warning bells should ring, if only because almost everyone associated with the film has spoken in the pre-release interviews about how this has been conceived as a different film altogether. Only recently did we have another remake, with wholesale changes, that failed to match up to the charm of the original. So, yes, we’ll see.