Read the post on Filmcompanion.

Marana Mass has a smattering of SPB, a sign that the older order is out, even for the same actor. Petta Paraak is fantastic background music. In Ilamai Thirumbudhe, Poet-u Dhanush impresses, but the melody is serviceable. Anthony Daasan attempt Chandrababu-style retro in Aaha Kalyanam, but the music eventually drowns it. Ullaalla and Thappad Maara get everything right – pulsating Latino sound in the former, delightful Rajasthani sound in latter. Ironically, there’s lot more melody in the instrumentals, particularly Madura Petta, Singaar Singh and Jithu Theme. Karthik Subbaraj’s shift from Santhosh Narayanan, for his biggest film, seems like a blunder.

Keywords: Petta, Rajinikanth, Karthik Subbaraj, Anirudh Ravichander

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Saturday December 8, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – DEC09.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 51:
On Saavn | On YouTube
After 50 weeks, I’m discontinuing Apple Music playlists. Reason: a potential bug that they couldn’t care to help resolve. Result: My 2017 annual playlists are in tatters, mutilated. Across 7 playlists, where I had carefully built each top 30 list, now it has 1-2 songs 🙁 Quite a few people seem to be having this problem with no resolution from Apple – see: 1, 2 and 3, for instance. I have written to them officially, tweeted to them, tagged the India editor… no luck. A regular Milliblog reader tried to help and raised an internal bug alert after which I understand that an engineer from Apple told him that the playlists were manually updated on April 29, 2018! And because it was a manual update, they cannot do anything. Eventually, I found that the weekly Apple Music playlist I created on April 29 has no songs now, while the Saavn equivalent has 16 songs. The subsequent playlist on May 6th – on Apple, it has one song, while Saavn has 15 songs! This is a monumental waste of my time.

Let me just stick to Saavn—now JioSaavn—and YouTube.

12 songs this week; quite a zingy week, I must add! YouTube has all 12 songs, while Saavn is missing just one – Petta’s Ullaallaa. Petta’s first 2 songs were released by Sun Music (on YouTube), while Sony had announced yesterday that they have got the rights. I guess Sun floated the 2 songs just to negotiate a better price from Sony 🙂

A note on the songs in the playlist.

Aankh Marey (Simmba, Hindi): As if preempting our annoyance with remixes, Karan Johar opens the song with, ‘Oh no, not another remix’ 🙂 And in an inspired move, Tanishk Bagchi uses Kumar Sanu primarily for the nasal ‘aankh’ word, almost like that running ‘phlegm’ gag! But yes, the dance moves and the revamped tune is a total earworm!

Issaqbaazi (Zero, Hindi): A zingy folk song by Ajay-Atul with the requisite amount of modern sounds, almost like blending the Shah Rukh character and the more modern (in-film) Salman cameo. Good vocal sparring between Sukhwinder Singh and Divya Kumar, courtesy Irshad Kamil.

The Journey of Ayya (Seethakaathi, Tamil): Govind Vasantha is having a stupendous year – no doubt about that all. If the title song and Avan were brilliant, this one, based on Gowrimanohari raaga, is incredible! The trailer had featured this song’s snatches and I had mentioned how fantastic it sounded. It turns out to be an instrumental and one that literally melts you!

Maya Maya (Sarvam Thaala Mayam, Tamil): If the title song sounded great, but not really fitting the Rajeev Menon-A R Rahman combo’s phenomenal past 2 soundtracks, this one surely does. Sung by Chinmayi, the melody flows beautifully in directions that are not predictable or making us feel comfortable. It does require a couple of listens to absorb the flow, but once you get it, the tune works wonderfully; particularly the anupallavi. And Rahman’s music, in the background has a light, ethereal feel! The second interlude, featuring Kamalakar’s flute, is a delight.

Ullaallaa (Petta, Tamil): This one fares much better than the first single, Marana Mass, which had everything going for it but not cohesively. The energetic Latin rhythm and the philosophical life-lesson lyrics that Rajini is known for adds to the fun.

Samayama (Anthariksham 9000 KMPH, Telugu): Composer Prashanth R. Vihari has been behind some good songs in the past, but in Samayama, it almost feels he has truly made it!! Not only does he get his singers—Harini and Yazin Nizar—to do an outstanding job with singing his immersive melody, but the way to adorns it with Sandilya P’s violin and adds a fantastic tabla-layered anupallavi is absolutely scintillating!

Idhem Life Ra (Mithai, Telugu): Vivek Sagar is back! I didn’t like the other song released so far (Liberation), but this one’s comfortably in Vivek zone. Bluegrass’y sound, superb chorus (by Sai, Ishaq and Harsha) and excellent lead vocals by Sravya Kothalanka.

Kallolam (Padi Padi Leche Manasu, Telugu): The title song was super. This one too works effortlessly. Vishal Chandrasekhar definitely has a winner here! Anurag Kulkarni’s singing is a particular highlight as much as that ‘Prapanchame Amaanthame’ hook!

Thandaane Thandaane (Vinaya Vidheya Rama, Telugu): Typically Devi Sri Prasad’ish song with a basic, largely familiar tune set to sparse, but highly rhythmic sound. It’s left to MLR Kartikeyan to do the best of it!

Dhuvun Taak (Mauli, Marathi): Ajay-Atul produce the Marathi equivalent of a kuthu song and what a job they do! Ajay’s singing is his usual ebullient self and the manic speed of the song never falters, keeping us consistently shaking our feet!

Ready For My Vyah (Shaadi Anthem) (Raftaar, Deep Kalsi, Akriti Kakar; Punjabi): A simple, but insanely catchy Punjabi song by Deep Kalsi. The ‘Ready For My Vyah’ hook and the persistent musical hook stay with you, quite annoyingly.

Ki Ae Yaar (Karan Sehmbi, Punjabi): Rox A’s music offers Karan really long, winding phrases and he handles them wonderfully. The tune has an unusual edge—reminded me of Bhairavi raaga, like in Beetab’s Jab Hum Jawan Honge—that keeps it constantly interesting!

Wednesday December 5, 2018

Top 10 Kannada songs of November 2018

See the list on Filmcompanion.

Read the post on Filmcompanion.

Read the list on Filmcompanion.

Tuesday December 4, 2018

Top 10 Telugu songs of November 2018

Read the list on Filmcompanion.

Monday December 3, 2018

Top 10 Tamil songs of November 2018

Read the post on Filmcompanion.

Monday December 3, 2018

Top 10 Hindi songs of November 2018

Read the post on Filmcompanion.

Monday December 3, 2018

2.0 (Tamil) – Director: Shankar

Before you begin, my movie review of Endhiran, if you have not read it.

More than anything else, Shankar’s 2.0 is a shining statement about the evolution of non-cricket sports in India. Not only does the extended climax take place in a football stadium (and not during a cricket match), but when Akshay Kumar’s Dr. Pakshi Raajan boasts that he is about to kill 80,000 people in the stadium, Shankar’s soaring imagination goes way past the previous highest attended football match in India – 63,000+ people who attended the ISL match between Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC, in Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, on 16th December 2015!

In case you want to know, Atletico de Kolkata won 2-1.

2.0 is proof that we Tamilians have clearly left behind Nijam Paakku’s TV advertisement that boasted of impressive graphics – faces morphed like that Michael Jackson music video in Black or White. Shankar has been gradually building his prowess in graphics, starting with his very first film, Gentleman, when he had Prabhu Deva interact with cartoon arrows and shed giant animated tears. In 2.0, he finally challenges Hollywood in both scale, scope and sheer imagination.

The quality of visual effects is astoundingly good, only because the crux of what and why is so convincing. It’s a particularly interesting twist during the only song in the film, the end-credits song, ‘Endhira Logathu Sundariye’ where the names of visual effects technicians are all foreign names, while the film’s other departments are largely Tamilians. Most Indians are accustomed to seeing the reverse in almost every Hollywood film – when you sit impatiently through the post-credits scene in a Marvel film, you’d notice tons of Indian surnames and can also see the rest of theater pointing at a ‘Janakiraman’ or ‘Khandelwal’ floating up on the screen.

The plot is Black Mirror’ish dystopia which you wish did actually happen, for the sake of all the birds and glorious human conversation, even if you wished, 5 minutes later, that it all went back to how it was before. The very fact that most of us show the mobile QR code to enter a theater that tells you about evils of mobile tower radiation is worth pondering… for about 5 minutes before being distracted by the next the Whatsapp forward. That explains the fleeting crux of the film perfectly. It is hugely imaginative, has a global appeal and makes you ‘feel’ good for the time you are inside the theater. That’s also how Dr. Pakshi Raajan explains how people ‘support’ the cause of birds – share the video of birds dying and then move on, happy that their part is done.

2.0 seems like the first film in Shankar’s repertoire where he has a flashback (his famous, now familiar narrative technique) for the villain, even though, in this story the villain is actually fighting for the right things (with a destructive method, though)! Gentleman had a flashback for Kicha, the good person; Indian had a flashback for Senapathy, the good old man; Jeans had a flashback for Nachiappan, the father of the twins, a good person; Anniyan had a flashback for Ambi, the good person.

In 2.0, the flashback is for Dr. Pakshi Raajan, Akshay Kumar’s character, to explain why he became a supervillain. From a sequence perspective, it seems appropriate – all the other flashbacks in Shankar’s films are for the good person, like in 2.0 too. But all those characters with a flashback, in all those films, lived to win in the end. 2.0 is the first Shankar film where the good person has a flashback but has to be vanquished! The closest that comes to this is Indian’s Senapathy where he had to abscond towards the end of the film (perhaps he’ll be back in Shankar’s next, starring Kamal Hassan – Indian 2?).

And this may be the first movie by Shankar where a woman has been given a character that is, quirkily, both appropriate and critical. Amy Jackson’s acting skills have been called, in the past, as being a bit robotic. She plays a robot in the movie so you cannot blame her at all here. And she literally saves the film by recreating Chitti 3.0! Without her, there’s no movie after a point! That is significant.

Akshay Kumar seems sincere, hiding under his multiple make-up kits. I reckon he has been added only to lend a Bollywood-heft to the marketability of the film.

This is also the first film where Shankar, like Mani Ratnam recently, has done away with the idea of a dedicated soundtrack, despite both of them having A.R.Rahman at their disposal. Mani, at least, released the soundtrack on the day of the film’s release (Chekka Chevantha Vaanam), but Shankar has 3.5 songs in the film if you count the smaller theme pieces that pepper the film. And only one plays in the film fully, in a forced narrative, over the VFX credits. Everyone sits through it silently, like expecting a Marvel post-credits scene, only to get Dr. Vaseegaran in the hospital again, greeting his grandson, amidst extreme and persistent close-up of assorted Patanjali products.

That brings me to Rajinikanth. The man is 67. To call him ‘clay’ in the hands of directors, at that age, is a new form of hero-worship, because the directors that have used that clay so far haven’t really bothered about that age at all. They seem to be stuck in a time warp where the idea of Rajini is more important than the man himself. Shankar again asks only for Rajini’s face and uses VFX to create the rest of Rajini. And since robots don’t have a soul, he doesn’t need that from Rajini either.

Much like Endhiran, this film extends the idea of Rajini as a super-hero using a convincingly convenient story as a prop. The story allows Shankar to play with robots and making three such robots as Rajini obliterates the age-old problem of Rajini’s age. The only other hero who has tried something along these lines is Jackie Chan, with his own animated series where he is, obviously, ageless. Rajini, with Endhiran, 2.0 and Kochadaiiyaan is pitching in that zone quite convincingly.

Like Endhiran, this is a Shankar film. The scale, the imagination, the familiar story and narrative structure that also includes a post-interval flashback is straight out of his predictable and successful playbook. Like in Endhiran, he lets us glimpse into the menacing Rajinikanth of his villain-past, at places in 2.0. Those are literally the places where the film jumps out of the screen, beyond the over-indulgent 3D (that even has the innards of a door latch jump out of the screen, quite pointlessly, when NILA is opening a Government store house’s door). Beyond that, 2.0 is a hugely enjoyable children’s film that even adults can sit through comfortably. And I mean it as a compliment.

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