Superstar Project 4–5/174.

kathanayakudu-earthquake

kuselan-kathanayakudu WPIMDbLB (Tamil)
WPIMDbLB (Telugu)

It is finally the time to continue the Superstar Project. I finished watching P. Vasu’s Kathanayakudu (2008) already a couple of months ago but didn’t write anything about it until now. I hope I haven’t forgotten too many details. Kathanayakudu is the simultaneously shot Telugu version of the Tamil movie Kuselan that I had watched a couple of years ago. The movie is a remake of a 2007 Malayalam Mammootty film Katha Parayumpol. I haven’t seen the original version so I cannot do a remake comparison. Bollywood fans might know the story also from Shahrukh Khan’s 2009 remake Billu (which I haven’t seen either).

Ayngaran’s Kuselan DVD has slightly better picture quality than AP International’s Kathanayakudu DVD but both versions are watchable. The biggest difference between the movies (besides the language) is that the main character Balakrishna is played by a different actor (as well as his sidekick comedians). I like the Telugu version’s actor more so there must be a choice between nicer actor and better picture quality. (Kathanayakudu is also 12 minutes shorter than Kuselan but this time I didn’t check if there were any scenes missing.)

kuselan-interval kathanayakudu-interval

Balakrishna (played by Pasupathy in Kuselan and Jagapati Babu in Kathanayakudu) is a poor barber who lives in a small village. One day his childhood friend Superstar Ashok Kumar (Superstar Rajinikanth) visits the village for the shooting of his new movies Chandramukhi 2 and Annamalai 2 (with Nayantara who is playing herself!). Surprisingly, Balakrishna is afraid to meet Ashok again. Does the superstar care about him anymore now that he is significantly richer than his old friend?

kuselan-100 Looks like the children have seen Rajinikanth’s Baasha.

I’m not sure why they named Rajinikanth’s character Ashok Kumar as it’s very clear that Rajinikanth is playing none other than himself. The film is full of references to his earlier work. It’s strange especially because Nayantara is playing herself without an imaginary character name.

Officially the movie was a flop and reviews that I’ve read have been mostly negative or neutral but I don’t see why. Maybe the audience didn’t expect this kind of film from Rajinikanth, as this is definitely not a typical Rajinikanth role. There’s no fighting against mafia or corrupt politicians. Instead, it’s just a simple story about friendship with a heart-touching climax. Superstar Rajinikanth, who despite the DVD covers and opening credits, is only in a supporting role (his character is not even introduced until the halfway through the first half of the film) while Balakrishna is really the main character. (However, Jagapati Babu who plays the main character in the Telugu version Kathanayakudu was nominated for Filmfare Awards South only in the best supporting actor category…)

Jagapati Babu came up with one of the finest performances of his career. This role demands a tremendous histrionics from the actor in Jagapati Babu and he does a wonderful job. His get-up is also good. But one wonders why he has light beard though he is doing the role of barber.

kuselan-vadivelu I’ve never seen anything like this.

While I agree with Idlebrain’s Kathanayakudu review about Jagapati Babu’s superb performance, I think their reviewer hasn’t heard of the famous two barbers puzzle: If there are just two barbers in the town, the barbers must shave each other’s beards and therefore the one with the messier beard is actually the better barber of the two! And in this case the other barber is played by Sunil who is famous for his comedy roles in Telugu movies… Sadly, it seems to be the other way around in the Tamil version Kuselan – Pasupathy doesn’t have a beard while Vadivelu’s mustache is the most horrible ever! (Oops. Now that I think of the puzzle again, I think it actually applies to hair cut and not beard shaving which is easier to do alone. But right now I’m too tired to come up with anything more intelligent.)

Meena plays Balakrishna’s wife in both versions (as well as in the original Malayalam version). Her role isn’t very large but she does a good performance. I haven’t yet seen many of her other films but I can’t wait to see some of them later during the Superstar Project!

It’s also always nice to see Prabhu who has a small role in the film.

Comedy could have been slightly trimmed. I liked Telugu version’s Sunil a little more than Tamil version’s Vadivelu. There are also other usual Telugu and Tamil comedians in minor roles, like M. S. Narayana, Ali, and Santhanam, but their jokes aren’t very memorable. I didn’t even recognize Brahmanandam from Kuselan but he was easier to locate after seeing the Telugu version where he does the talking instead of his Tamil friend.

The songs are awesome in this movie! My favourite one is Rajinikanth’s introduction song “Cinema cinema” which commemorates the 75th anniversary of Tamil cinema and has several cameo appearances by celebrities of the industry. “Om Zaarare” is also very catchy. The picturizations of these two also have very epic costumes! I like the other songs too.

♪ No one has seen God for real but Cinema shows them on screen. ♪

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zwVdzXJFCI&t=9s

Story 4
Star Power 4
Songs 4½
Comedy 2½
Overall 4

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baba-srirag-pyramid

Today’s random product review is a Pyramid DVD that contains two Superstar Rajinikanth’s Tamil movies, Baba (2002) and Sri Ragavendra (1985) (also spelled at least as Sri Ragaventhrar and probably also as some other combinations of similar letters). I have no prior experience about the quality of these cheaper 2-in-1 DVDs compared to the usual 1-in-1 DVD releases but I would guess that the quality of a movie in 2-in-1 DVD isn’t as good. Let’s do some comparison!

I have also Baba DVD by Ayngaran and Sri Ragavendra DVD by Bayshore. The most natural way to compare these is to take screenshots of the same frame in each version and check which of them looks better.

baba-srirag

Sri Ragavendra

I actually bought the 2-in-1 DVD because I hadn’t found Sri Ragavendra with English subtitles and it clearly says “WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES” right there in the cover. Surprise surprise, this version of Sri Ragavendra doesn’t have English subtitles. Yes, it also says “BABA WITH SUBTITLE”, but it doesn’t say “SRI RAGAVENDRA WITHOUT SUBTITLE”, so basically this can be considered cheating. It’s actually quite surprising that this movie doesn’t seem to have a subtitled release. Sri Ragavendra is known as the 100th film of Superstar Rajinikanth. (I’m not sure how that is counted as it is number 107 on my list. Maybe they don’t count the remakes of his earlier movies?) Even though it was a flop at the box office, only the fact that it’s his 100th film would be enough to get people to watch it. Maybe there just aren’t enough non-Tamil speaking Rajinikanth fans or something? Now that it doesn’t have subtitles, I too won’t probably watch it before I’ve seen most of the subtitled Rajinikanth films.

Here are the screenshots. The first one is from the Pyramid version and the second one from the Bayshore version. (Click to see them in full size!) The picture from the Bayshore version is slightly more detailed. The only thing that is worse in Bayshore DVD is that it has Bayshore’s logo on the top-right corner and an almost transparent but still visible watermark on the left side while there are none in the Pyramid version. But I would probably still watch the movie from the Bayshore version.

srirag-pyramid-2in1 srirag-bayshore

Baba

Both versions of Baba have subtitles. The first thing I noticed was that Ayngaran’s version of the film is 180 minutes long while Pyramid’s version is only 174 minutes. I didn’t check if there are any missing scenes in the Pyramid version or does it just play the film faster.

Ayngaran DVD is clearly the winner of the picture quality comparison. Most notably, there are more recognizable details and the orange colour is much brighter in the screenshot from the Ayngaran’s version (the second one). Looks like Pyramid’s version is horizontally stretched and then the picture is slightly cropped. Pyramid also has a big but fortunately mostly transparent watermark at the top-right corner. If I’m going to re-watch the film some day, I will definitely watch it from the Ayngaran DVD.

baba-pyramid-2in1 baba-ayngaran

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