Superstar Project 6/174.

thaaillaamal_naanillai WPIMDbLB

Thaayillamal Naan Illai (“I’m Nothing Without My Mother”) is a 1979 Tamil film directed by R. Thyagarajan. The movie stars Kamal Haasan and Sridevi and also has Rajinikanth in a short guest appearance.

Moser Baer’s DVD has two large disturbing watermarks (“Moser Baer” and “West Top”) and no subtitles, so I decided to watch the Hindi dubbed version Aakhri Sangram with subtitles and better picture quality from Eros Now. The Tamil version is almost 16 minutes longer than the Hindi version – some of the stageplay stuff has been cut off as well as the childhood flashback from the beginning. The missing scenes don’t seem too important although it would’ve been nice to see the childhood scene with subtitles as it seems to add some background information to the characters, like a swordfight which eventually gets repeated when the characters are grown up.

aakhrisangram_kamal aakhrisangram_crazy

(I’m going to use the character names from the Hindi version that I watched with subtitles. They might be slightly different in the original Tamil version.)

Raja (Kamal Haasan) is a stage actor who a local landlord’s daughter Pushpa (Sridevi) is madly fallen in love with. Pushpa has a nice pet peacock Balwanta who can be used to guard her room and steal things. For example, once he steals binoculars for her so that she could spy on Raja. She soon realizes that Raja is also spying her. “Very good. He also has a binocular.”

aakhrisangram_peacock aakhrisangram_spying

aakhrisangram_romancegoingon

When the landlord finds out that a romance between Raja and Pushpa is going on, he agrees to marry Pushpa to Raja on the condition that Raja forgets his lower-class mother (played by Sukumari). That would also make Raja the next landlord instead of greedy Mohan who had also hoped to marry Pushpa. Raja disagrees even though his mother insists him to agree to the landlord’s condition. Later, the landlord is trying to marry Pushpa to Mohan but finds out that Pushpa has eloped to live with Raja and his mother. However, until the landlord accepts Raja’s mother to his family, Raja won’t consider Pushpa as his wife.

Rajinikanth plays a righteous goon who has been sent to bring Pushpa back home. He has an awesome intro punch and he’s great in the small role that he has. He almost defeats Raja in a fight but Pushpa interferes and explains that she actually loves Raja and Raja hasn’t forced her to elope with him. The goon understands the situation and leaves the couple alone.

aakhrisangram_rajini aakhrisangram_marry

The situation gets worse when the upset landlord breaks up his relationship with his misbehaving daughter. When Mohan finds out that he cannot become the new landlord by marrying Pushpa, he kills the landlord and is elected as the new landlord as everyone thinks that Raja was the killer. After Raja hears about these events, he disguises as a religious guru and gets the new landlord to invite him to his home. It is revealed that the old landlord isn’t dead after all and Mohan has kept him alive to find out where he has hidden his treasure. Eventually Mohan discovers Raja’s true identity and puts him behind bars with the old landlord. Mohan’s plans to marry Pushpa fail once again because of a phenomenal rescue operation by Balwanta the peacock. Mohan gets banished from the landlord’s lands and the landlord finally accepts Raja’s mother as Pushpa’s mother-in-law as he realizes that greatness is not in the caste but in character.

aakhrisangram_end


P.S. I wonder what the VCD cover of the Hindi version has to do with the movie…

aakhrisangram_vcd

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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

kathanayakudu-3

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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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Thanks to Review Raja, today I discovered a very interesting upcoming Tamil movie, Puli, which I somehow hadn’t heard about before. The main role is played by Vijay who I really don’t know as well as I should, but the supporting cast includes some very big names (at least big for me, if not officially big names), like Sridevi, Sudeep (!), Prabhu, Shruti Haasan, and Hansika Motwani. The teaser trailer released just today.

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kutty WPIMDbLB

Mithran Jawahar’s Kutty (also spelled as Kutti) (2010) is the Tamil remake of Sukumar’s Arya (Telugu, 2004). It stars Dhanush, Shriya Saran, and Sameer Dattani in the main roles.

Kutty turned out to be not as good as the wonderful original version. It is almost a scene-by-scene remake but the original Arya’s charm is missing. Dhanush has a very limited range of facial expressions compared to Allu Arjun and some of the jokes aren’t performed as well as in the original. (The remaking is still done much better than in the Bengali remake of Magadheera.)

Devi Sri Prasad, the music director of Arya, composed the music also for the remake. While some songs are familiar from the original Arya, some other great songs are replaced with new and not-so-great songs. “You Rock My World” has been entirely cut off.

Overall, Kutty might be an OK movie but it’s not possible to not to compare it to the original Arya and it just doesn’t have anything new to offer. I would recommend this only if you like the actors or are a curious Arya fan. Otherwise it would probably be better to watch Arya instead.

kutty-arya
kutty-arya-actors

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With this post I’m starting yet another new experimental post series. This time it’s called Mega Power Quiz and it’s a quiz game for my (probably nonexistent?) readers. There might be no one who would be interested to take part in the game but that doesn’t stop me from creating questions! At least for now I don’t have any predefined schedule for new questions and I’ll just post one whenever I happen to come up with something that isn’t too easy to solve with Google. Unfortunately I cannot (at least not yet) offer any prizes for the winners but whoever is the first to post the correct answer in the comment section of this post will get 1 point and the leaders of the scoreboard can call themselves the Mega Power Sages of Indian cinema – how cool is that!


The first question might be an easy one if you’ve seen enough of these movies. The question is:
What is the connection between these twelve movies?

q1

  1. Patala Bhairavi (1951)
  2. Zabak (1961)
  3. Jalte Badan (1973)
  4. Shaan (1980)
  5. Adavi Donga (1985)
  6. Khoon Bari Maang (1988)
  7. Yaadein (2001)
  8. Ponnar Shankar (2011)
  9. Crocodile Love Story (2013)
  10. Jagadguru Adi Shankara (2013)
  11. I (2015)
  12. Uttama Villain (2015)

Hint #1 (added Nov 19, 2015): Thirteenth movie that would qualify to the above list would be the 2015 Tamil fantasy film Puli.

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Bollywood expedition update

I continued my Hindi adventures with a 7.5 hours long Dhoom marathon. I liked the third part the most. Abhishek looks just like young Amitabh! I also finally watched 7 Khoon Maaf and My Name Is Khan. All of these are very different than what I’ve used to by watching South Indian movies but still quite enjoyable.

Quick notes from recently watched South Indian movies

  • Kathaswamy: !!!
  • Aa Okkadu: I hoped it would have been better but it still is watchable at least once. Ajay’s role isn’t as big as one might think after seeing the cover. There is a song with some crazy editing and horrible clothing. I love the guys who write the plot summaries on DVDs’ back covers. “The rest of the film is all about whodunit!”
  • Businessman: This movie sadly had nothing special to offer. The hero doesn’t even have to face any major problems.
  • Upendra: I rewatched this one as requested in the end of the film because “IT’S A 2D FILM” but I really didn’t learn anything that I hadn’t get at the first watch. If I’m going to rewatch it again some day, I’ll have to count how many different outfits Upendra has. It has to be somewhere near the world record.
  • Vedam: I rewatched also this one and it’s still one of the best Telugu movies that I’ve seen!
  • Uttama Villain: Kamal Haasan’s newest movie is both very funny and sad at the same time. When comparing Kamal to Rajinikanth, the other big superstar of Tamil cinema, I have noticed that Kamal seems to make more “serious” films (with realistic gravity etc.) whereas Rajinikanth makes epic spectacles where nothing is impossible to him. At least during the 2010s. I should watch more Kamal movies to be sure. (Luckily I like both of these genres.)
  • Crocodile Love Story: Two lovers are trapped in a tree guarded by a hungry crocodile! The movie has its moments but it isn’t as good as it could have been (which is sad because I like crocodiles).
  • Shankar Dada M.B.B.S.: This was actually much better than I expected. I had to watch it because its sequel has Allu Arjun’s special appearance, but it was also nice to improve my knowledge of Chiranjeevi’s filmography as so far I’ve watched mostly the younger Telugu stars.

Bonus clip

Awesome usage of Nokia 2310 (a non-touchscreen model from 2006) in Vedam.

nokia2310

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Movies that released in 2014

  • Best Film (Tamil): Jigarthanda
  • Best Film (Telugu): Manam
  • Second Best Film (Telugu): 1: Nenokkadine
  • Best Action Film: Action Jackson
  • Best Star Cast: Yevadu
  • Best Comedian: Brahmanandam in Race Gurram
  • Best Song: “Engae Pogudho Vaanam” by A. R. Rahman from Kochadaiiyaan
  • Funniest Joke: Bunny in Govindudu Andarivadele
  • Funniest Occasion: Best Couple Competition in Brahma
  • Best Special Effects: the elephants in Lingaa – if they really aren’t real
  • Superbest Subtitlist: Rekhs in Lingaa, particularly in the song “Mona Gasolina”
  • Best Cinema Experience: the Finnish Lingaa premiere in Helsinki on 12.12.2014
  • Most Times Watched in 2014: Kochadaiiyaan (4)
  • Worst Fail: Lotus Five Star for releasing Jigarthanda DVD without subtitles

Older movies that I watched in 2014

  • Most Entertaining Drama Film: Moondru Mudichu (1976)
  • Most Entertaining Gangster Film: Billa (2009)
  • Most Entertaining Science Fiction Film: Love Story 2050 (2008)
  • Most Entertaining Thriller Film: Anniyan (2005)
  • Most WTF Moments: Upendra (1999)
  • Strongest Hero: Jr. NTR in Baadshah (2013) for throwing four cars about 15 meters high with a single kick from 25 meters away
  • Scariest Supporting Character: Uncle Limu (Anupam Kher) from Aabra Ka Daabra (2004)
  • Cheesiest Line: “Oh my God, is that your gun? Can I hold it, please?” by Mala (Priyanka Chopra) from Zanjeer (2013)

Edit (Nov 19 & Dec 5, 2015): added more award categories for 2014 movies that I’ve seen later.

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I don’t always write new blog posts when something cool happens, so maybe I should periodically summarize the most relevant unblogged things from a longer period of time into a single post. This is a brief summary of the most exciting film related things that have happened to me in March 2015.

  • The blog now has a new domain name and I even managed to write a new about page!
  • Even though I didn’t yet advertise it anywhere, I made a new high score system for the Magadheera-inspired Warrior Game that I made last year. (My record is now 353.) I hope to add support for touchscreen devices some day but right now I have no idea how to do that. Until that, it’s playable only with mouse or touchpad.
  • I started the Super Star Project which might have been my worst decision ever. My DVD shelf is already so full! I’m glad I’m not doing a Brahmanandam Project.
  • Now I’ve finally seen Student No.1 (Telugu, 2001) which completed my list of movies directed by S. S. Rajamouli, and Gangotri (Telugu, 2003) which was my last unseen movie of Allu Arjun as the hero.
  • Dhoom Dhoom 1+2+3
  • I’m quite a newbie to Hindi cinema since I’ve watched mostly South Indian films. While I’ve seen some random Hindi films before, I haven’t seen anything that good that would make me watch more Hindi films instead of Telugu or Tamil films. Still Hindi films are more popular than South Indian films, so maybe I’ve just watched the wrong movies? Now I started to explore Hindi cinema a little more systematically than before. I began by watching Sholay (1975) which was actually quite good. I was surprised how well the songs fitted in the story, as most Indian films that I’ve seen have at least a couple of songs that feel a little random and disconnected from everything else. I also got DVDs of some newer “super hits”, for example Dhoom and Krrish series, as well as some more or less questionable Hindi movies.
  • Bollywood for Beginners Bollywood for Beginners
  • Just when I started to wander around in the big and scary world of Hindi cinema, one of the greatest Indian cinema bloggers, Filmi Girl, published a book called Bollywood for Beginners. I’ve really enjoyed reading it so far.
  • I remember a day last summer when I traveled around my home town. I laughed silently in my head because I saw a man that I thought looked a little like Dhanush. Then I came home and read the unthinkable news that Dhanush was making his new film Shamitabh in Finland! I missed a screening of the movie in February but this year the Season Film Festival screened two Hindi films, Shamitabh and Raja Natwarlal, so I got another chance to see it. Both of the movies were worth watching even though I probably missed a lot of references to other Hindi films in Shamitabh. It’s funny that the first Bollywood song shot in Finland is a song about toilets. I also made a fool of myself by some very bad dancing when a Bollywood dance group made the audience to try some dance moves in the cinema hall before the show, but I forgot it as soon as an enormous image of Rajinikanth appeared on the screen in Eros International’s short video clip and said “Let’s begin!” which already was more than enough value for the ticket price.
  • At least three interesting soundtrack albums for upcoming movies were released recently: M. Ghibran’s Uttama Villain (Kamal Haasan), Devi Sri Prasad’s S/O Satyamurthy (Allu Arjun, UPENDRA), and Ilaiyaraaja’s Rudhramadevi (Anushka, Rana, Allu Arjun). I managed to watch the live stream only from Rudhramadevi’s audio launch event. It was held in two different cities on consecutive days so that they released three songs a day. Anushka made a grand entrance in a royal carriage and some of the dance performances were entertaining (while some others were embarrassing).
  • Aa Okkadu Aa Okkadu
  • I also have to mention that I got the DVD of Aa Okkadu (Telugu, 2009) which has AJAY in hero role! I hope to watch it as soon as it fits into the schedule of one of my friends who also is an Ajay fan.
  • And finally, I now have Yoddha (2014), the Bengali remake of Magadheera, on (unsubtitled) VCD, so now I’ll be able to make a screencap comparison between the two if I won’t have anything better to do.
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Superstar Project 2/174.

chandramukhi WPIMDbLB

To begin with, here is Rajinikanth’s title screen for the Superstar Project’s title card gallery. In 2005 it’s already quite shiny.

chandramukhi-credits

Chandramukhi is a Tamil superstar starrer from 2005, directed by P. Vasu. It is a remake of the 2004 Kannada movie Apthamitra (also directed by P. Vasu). Besides the superstar, the cast also includes Prabhu, Jyothika, Nyantara, Vadivelu, “and others”.

Chandramukhi is a “hounted house” type of story. Sometime in history, a fatal love triangle had taken place in the mansion and as a result, one of the rooms is inhabited by a ghost of a dancer named Chandramukhi. Fortunately, we have Rajinikanth, an excellent psychiatrist, to save the day. The story is interesting and easy to sit through at least once, but it doesn’t have anything so special that I would re-watch it in the near future. (Watching the sequel two days later was already enough of the same story.)

I have nothing bad to say about the songs either, although I like the more recent Rajinikanth songs more. One funny thing was the song sequence where Rajinikanth is flying kites with his friends. The result can be seen in the following image.

chandramukhi-kites

rajinikanth-gravitylaw

There are two fights in the movie. The first one is the compulsory Rajinikanth introduction fight which once again is very entertaining because of Rajinikanth’s Law of Gravity. The second one feels a bit pointless, but it’s an unwritten law of nature that whenever a character is played by Sonu Sood, he is a villain and therefore has to be defeated at some point.

Another noteworthy gravity moment is when Rajinikanth saves Prabhu’s character from drinking poisoned coffee.

Don't drink, the coffee is poisoned!


nagavalli WPIMDbLB

Chandramukhi has a 2010 Telugu sequel, Nagavalli, which is also by the director P. Vasu. It is a remake of the 2010 Kannada movie Aptharakshaka (again by the same director). In this movie, Chandramukhi returns and once again a psychiatrist’s help is needed to drive her away.

This film doesn’t feature Rajinikanth except in some flashbacks from Chandramukhi. Instead, the film stars Venkatesh as Rajinikanth’s assistant. I realized that somehow I hadn’t seen a Venkatesh film before, and he actually is quite good in this one. I also liked Anushka’s role as Chandramukhi. Rajinikanth’s authority is in danger as his assistant’s assistant is played by none other than Brahmanandam. M. S. Narayana is in a minor role and he dies almost immediately after his introduction which felt a little inappropriate when watched so shortly after the actor’s death in real life. In addition to those actors, the film also features Shraddha Das who is known for her roles in at least Arya 2 and the Malayalam horrific horror film Dracula 2012.

Though the actors’ performances are good, the movie doesn’t have much to add to the story of Chandramukhi. We get to see a little more of the history part. Also the climax scene is nice. (Now I need to add random thunderbolts to my rules of K/Tollywood drinking game.) I believe that Nagavalli can be watched without seeing Chandramukhi first, but I would still recommend Chandramukhi over this one.

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