Chennai

Chennai Express Upodcast Interviews

We’ve kept you waiting but finally our Chennai Express Upodcast Episode is finally ready! Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Siddarth Roy were in town promoting their biggest Eid release which has also become the biggest box office earner in the history of Hindi Cinema.

How long it will be able to hold that position is another story with Dhoom 3 and Krish 3 (I refuse to learn how to write the title of this movie) releasing soon.

So being in the unique position of attending the Press Conference, the journalist round table as well as doing a 1-2-1 interview, we had so much content for our listeners, it took us a while to find the right format since none of us are genius editors as the listeners of our shows know too well.

If you want the Video interview head over to HeyUGuys by clicking here.

For all the other, Listen/Download/Share our chat with SRK and Deepika as well as our “5 things we learnt” by clicking below:

@asimburney

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Madras Cafe Review

Director Shoojit Sircar’s latest – Madras Cafe, sees him teaming up again with actor/producer John Abraham after the successful Vicky Donor to bring a different story to life. This time, John takes matters in his own hands, as he takes centre-stage as the big and brawny Indian Army Officer Vikram Singh, who is dropped in the middle of a country in civil war. Set mostly in India and Sri Lanka, Madras Cafe depicts the tale of 25+ years of the Sri Lankan Civil War, which eventually resulted in the assassination of one of India’s ex-Prime Minister.

The events in the story demand the plot to be taken seriously, and Madras Cafe wants to be a lot of things. From a political espionage thriller, to a war drama, to even a conspiracy theory about the dealers of war, Madras Cafe does not shy away from the grim side of politics and war. It does not necessarily take any sides, or show a blatant support to anyone. The one opinion it projects however, is how humanity is completely destroyed when the wrath of war strikes.

With cinematographer Kamaljeet Negi’s lens sweeping the tropical landscapes of Sri Lanka and the Southern coast of India, Sircar expertly captures the ugliness of how a nation gets torn into pieces when its people go to war. Enter our hero Vikram, who is on a mission to “conspire” peace by dealing with the ones who are the centre of it. Turns out, things are more convoluted than it seems, and caught in the action are not only the neighbouring countries, but a hell lot more. With so many dramatic elements playing, Madras Cafe does get a bit confusing at times.

And yet, it somehow feels a bit inadequate in its storytelling.  The scenes where RAW officers are in a cabinet meeting, making the calls on what would happen on the field is reminiscent to many political thrillers. And yet, it lacks that extra oomph that would grip us. It often feels like the dialogues by Juhi Chaturvedi were instead written by an intern who was provided with an outline of the scene, and just wrote the first thing that came into their heads. It is blatantly obvious at times, sometimes obvious enough to make you cringe.

It is unfortunate to see a brilliant supporting cast such as Siddharth Basu, Piyush Pandey, and the Bongs from Vicky Donor to be undermined by these badly written lines. Having said that, Siddharth Basu does seem effortlessly natural in his role as the head of RAW. Thankfully, there  is no sexual tension explored between John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri’s character, however it did come a bit close. Fakhri is not as annoying here as she was in Rockstar, however her character makes me confused. Why would a war reporter (apparently intelligent and pretty attractive) go in a jungle full of sexually starved men, dressed like she was? All for the job eh!

Madras Cafe also sees the debut of News Reporter Debang as a “khabri”, and one can only laugh when he says with a deadpan face – “Ye meeting kabhi nahi hui”  (This meeting never happened).

For those who expected this to be a John Abraham version of Ek Tha Tiger, they would be utterly disappointed. Because our hero is a mere mortal, and not a Sunny Deol, who’d gatecrash the Jaffna border, and win the island back with a handpump in one hand, and a baby in the other. Abraham’s Vikram Singh is a helpless protagonist who is compromised by moles in the organisation, kidnapped, beaten, and who eventually ends up as a drunkard in Kasauli. If you are not ready for your hero to be that, you should rather catch the Chennai Express. John does seem to play his part well, and I think it is all down to a director like Sircar to cut down the theatrics and treat the story as how it should be. However, I do have a problem with the lead guy being treated as one, when it comes to fashion. There are several moments where it does look like a snippet from a shirt advert.

In conclusion, all I would like to add is that Madras Cafe is an earnest effort at telling the tale of the Srilankan civil war and its aftermath. However, it does fall short as a captivating movie, and it is entirely the writer’s fault. There are scenes which you can predict coming from a mile, and for a thriller, that just should not be. With scenes involving hacking code that will make you giggle more than having a “Whoa” moment, Madras Cafe could have been so much more. Instead, it is a fairly simplified version of one of the many espionage conspiracy political thrillers that we have seen.

Rating: A disappointing 2.75 stars out of 5.

Find more of Sujoy’s work on : OneKnightStands | Bollypop | @9E3K

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Madras Cafe New Images and Video’s

Whatever we’ve seen of Madras Cafe until now has been quite intriguing, it might be because John Abraham makes a savvier producer than leading man and because casting Nargis Fakri as a foreign war correspondent might actually work.

We received some new images and plot synopsis, which explains a bit as the movie itself was shrouded in mystery.

 

The political action thriller is set against the backdrop of the tumultuous and controversial Sri Lankan civil war of the 1990s. The film stars John Abraham as an Indian Army Intelligence Agent sent to Sri Lanka to break a resolute rebel group.  Once there, he meets a charismatic female journalist, played by Nargis Fakhri who is determined to uncover the truth about the civil war. Together the pair uncover a deeper, sinister conspiracy by a faceless enemy.

Madras Café releases nationwide on 23rd August 2013.

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Chennai Expres Trailer Breakdown

Rohit Shetty and Shahrukh Khan’s collaboration Chennai Express finally hits audiences with it’s first proper trailer and the result is an odd marriage of established tropes of both these brands.

We have SRK character named Rahul, who helps girls catch their trains, he runs a lot in slow motion and ends up with a bloodied mouth at what I’m guessing is the climactic battle of the movie.

Rohit Shetty on the other hand provides us with saccharine cinematography, car flips, a horrible soundtrack and everyone dangling from wires.

The oddest choice is to give heroine Deepika Padukone a very strong South Indian accent, I have to admit I did not see that coming.

On the one hand it’s interesting to see that it’s Deepika that’s providig the only bit of originality we can find in this trailer, she is at least trying something different and there is always a fine line between being humurous and being offensive.

The other surprise of the trailer is how much it is banking on the previous successes of Rohit Shetty rather than King Khan for this movie.

Our good friend FilmiGirl pointed out that Chennai Express is looking like the South Indian minstrel show to her on our Bollywood Mid Year Wrap Up UPodcast (going live tomorrow evening) and I’m not sure anything that the trailer shows us will prove her assumptions wrong.

But on the other hand both Rohit Shetty and Shahrukh Khan can’t be called subtle in anyway when it comes to humour.

This trailer definetly makes me want to watch the movie, which is a feat in itself when it comes to Shetty’s brand of cinema. Although it just seems odd that I won’t be getting an Eid release from that other Khan instead this year.

 

Here is the trailer and some posters. Let us know what you think in the comment section below:

 

 

Chennai Express is in theaters on th 8th of August

@asimburney

 

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Aaranya Kaandam Review at LIFF 2012

Yet another gangster flick made its London Premiere (the other one being Gangs of Wasseypur) at the London Indian Film Festival. And like a moth to the flame, I sniffed my way to the cinema screen to witness one of best selections of the festival overall. Director Thiagarajan’s “Aaranya Kaandam” (referring to the ‘jungle chapter’ in the Ramayana) throws away all the rules in the rule-book, and narrates a story so compelling, that we are bound to lend him our ears and eyes. Soaked in dark hues, this gangster flick set in the grit and dirt of Chennai, bypasses all set clichés and stereotypes associated with the genre.

The story circles around the rivalry between drug-lords of Chennai. In the red corner (there is a lot of red), is Singamperumal aka Ayya (Jackie Shroff)- impotent, dangerous, and a mental freak complete with a signature smile that shows the ins and outs of his lack of dental hygiene. He beats his mistress Subbu (Yasmin Ponappa), and bemoans her fate with the timid Sappai (Ravi Krishna). Sappai and Subbu fall in love. And in the blue corner, is the gang of the Gaj brothers – Gajendran and Gajapati, one uglier than the other. And we are also told of the legend of Gajendran. (You’ve got to find that out for yourself).

But when it comes to gangster films, nothing is as simple as just two opponents battling it out. Thrown in the mix are Pasupathy (Sampath Raj), Ayya’s lead henchman,who comes up with a stolen drug deal, which actually belongs to the Gaj brothers. And this sets the ball rolling for the rest of the movie which moves at an insane pace, jumping across the numerous characters and building up to a climax that wraps it all in, in a very satisfying way.

I am trying hard not to reveal much about this movie, because I’m concerned if that will dilute your experience. You should sit through this movie, without any prior knowledge of it, just like I did, and just let yourself get consumed by its sheer powerful imagery. Be it from Jackie Shroff’s relentless and no-holds-barred portrayal of a gangster struggling to “keep up” even when he’s way past his prime, to the little kid Kodukkapuli (Master Vasanth) whose smile and tears can melt your heart.

Aaranya Kaandam quenches that thirst for something “new” to watch. With stylish cinematography and action choreography, as well as an anime inspired moody omnipresence, Thiagarajan’s array of quirky, mad and loud characters come to life in their rawest form. Accompanied by a rocking background score, dollops of humour, and razor sharp dialogues, Aaranya Kaandam breathes life into the jungle of Chennai and its wildlife. For a debut feature, this is a must-watch.

Verdict: Blood Spurting 4 out of 5

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

@asimburney

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