‘Sunny’, ‘Kota Factory’ & More – 11 New OTT Releases This Week

Last week, makers of several highly-anticipated films announced the theatrical release dates for their projects, including actor Sivakarthikeyan‘s Doctor (October 9), director Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan (summer of 2022) and actor Ajith Kumar‘s Valimai (Pongal 2022).

Even with theatres across the country returning to normalcy, several filmmakers are still open to releasing their films on OTT platforms. On Thursday, the makers of actor Tovino Thomas’ Minnal Murali announced that the film will premiere on Netflix on Christmas eve (December 24).

On that note, here are 11 new films and shows releasing on OTT platforms this week:

1. Sunny – Amazon Prime Video (September 23)

According to the official synopsis, Sunny revolves around the life of titular character (played by actor Jayasurya). Sunny leaves Dubai dejected and returns to his hometown, Kerala amidst a global pandemic. Quarantined in a hotel room away from human contact, he goes through a myriad of emotions and unfathomable pain having lost his family, his money and his best friend. A gleam of hope emerges through encounters with some strangers.

2. Alanti Sitralu – ZEE5 (September 24)

In Alanti Sitralu, the lives of a gangster, an amateur boxer, a prostitute, and a guitarist take an unexpected turn after they cross paths with each other.

3. Season 2 of Kota Factory – Netflix (September 24)

Kota Factory is built around the trials and tribulations of preparing to get into the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The show follows the life of Vaibhav, a young student on his journey to Maheshwari – one of Kota’s leading training institutes, and how he tries to balance his friendships, his relationship with his mentor and the looming pressure of getting into IIT.

4. Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum – Amazon Prime Video (September 24)

Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum is a political satire about the primary character, Kunnimuthu, a 35-year-old innocent farmer who loses his beloved bulls, Karuppan and Vellaiyan. When searching for his bulls, he meets a reporter who decides to help him. Soon the village is breaking news on all television channels across India. However, the villagers don’t have electricity to watch TV.

5. Naduvan – SonyLIV (September 24)

Naduvan is a thriller drama set against the hill station backdrop of Kodaikanal. Talking to Silverscreen India, filmmaker Sharang said, “Bharath plays the role of a businessman and certain negative events happen around him without his knowledge. People around him wear masks and are fake and not faithful. Finally, he understands what is happening and how he reacts forms the rest of the film.”

6. Season 4 of Goliath – Amazon Prime Video (September 24)

Goliath revolves around Billy McBride, a disgraced lawyer, who agrees to take on a wrongful death lawsuit in hopes of getting revenge on the firm he helped create. According to the official summary, in season 4 of Goliath, Billy returns to his Big Law roots after Patty takes a job at a prestigious white-shoe law firm in San Francisco. Together, they try to take down one of America’s most insidious Goliaths: the opioid industry.

7. Britney VS Spears – Netflix (September 28)

American pop singer Britney Spears has been in a conservatorship under her father since 2008 following several public meltdowns. It gave him control over her financial affairs, estate, and her personal life. Recently, her father filed a petition to end the 13-year long conservatorship. Investigated by journalist Jeni Eliscu and filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, Netflix’s documentary Britney VS Spears is said to feature several exclusive interviews, confidential evidence and memos, and audio recordings of Spears. The documentary is set to premiere just a day before the next scheduled hearing of the case to end the conservatorship.

8. Aakashavaani – SonyLIV (September 24)

According to filmmaker Ashwin Gangaraju, his upcoming Telugu film Aakashavaani is a serious drama about people living in the forest. Speaking to Silverscreen India, he said, “The film happens in a remote forest where people live far away from the normal populated world. It will have references to the zamindar rule which controls the belief system of these people. The film’s theme is based on how their belief system is related to their lifestyle. When people live in the forests unconnected with others, they are not polluted and remain innocent. When you are innocent, your belief system is stronger.”

9. The Starling – Netflix (September 24)

The Starling tells the story of a married couple, suffering hardship. Jack heads off to deal with grief while Lilly remains in the “real” world, dealing with her own guilt and a crippling internal struggle to live with a dark secret. Soon a starling bird that has nested in her backyard begins to harass and attack her. This starling comes to represent all of Lilly’s problems, and she becomes comically obsessed with killing it. Lilly eventually finds guidance from Larry, a quirky psychologist-turned veterinarian with a troubled past of his own. The two form a unique and unlikely friendship as both help the other to explore, acknowledge and confront their problems.

10. Foundation – Apple TV+ (September 24)

Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire.

11. Midnight Mass – Netflix (September 24)

Midnight Mass revolves around an isolated island community, who begin experiencing miraculous events and frightening omens after the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest.

Britney vs Spears: Netflix Drops Trailer of Upcoming Documentary on Britney Spears’ Conservatorship under Her Father

Netflix on Wednesday released the trailer of Britney vs Spears, its upcoming documentary on American pop singer Britney Spears‘ 13-year conservatorship under her father Jamie Spears.

“It’s been 13 years and it’s enough,” the caption quoting the singer read.

The documentary is set to premiere on September 28, just a day before the next scheduled hearing of the case to end the conservatorship.

An 18-second teaser was earlier released on Tuesday, featuring a clip from a voicemail sent by the singer to a lawyer on January 21, 2009 about the process of terminating the conservatorship.

Investigated by journalist Jeni Eliscu and filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, Britney vs Spears is said to feature several exclusive interviews, confidential evidence and memos, and audio recordings of Spears.

The trailer released on Wednesday begins with an audio clip of the pop singer saying “I just want my life back,” which is a part of her 24-minute testimony during the June 23 hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court, where she first publicly addressed her “abusive” conservatorship at length.

“I’ve worked my whole life. I don’t owe these people anything,” she is heard saying in the trailer.

The documentary is said to answer questions like: What was going on inside the conservatorship? And why was she still in one if she was okay?

Without revealing who exactly is featured in the documentary, the trailer includes voiceovers of various people weighing in on the conservatorship, such as Spears’ ex, paparazzo Adnan Ghalib, and a legal expert who appears to be an attorney specializing in conservatorship cases, as per a Variety report.

Britney vs Spears will reportedly delve deep into the issues of the highly controversial guardianship and the alleged corruption of her father’s involvement, along with larger issues with conservatorship laws and the justice system as a whole.

“There was financial incentives for Jamie, for the lawyers. Britney made other people a lot of money,” a voiceover says in the trailer.

The 39-year-old pop singer has been in a conservatorship under her father since 2008. She entered into the conservatorship or guardianship with her father following several public meltdowns. It gave him control over her financial affairs, estate, and her personal life.

After opposing all her attempts to remove him from the conservatorship for a long time, the singer’s father Jamie Spears filed a petition to end the conservatorship in a surprise move on September 7.

Sunny Movie Review: An Engaging Film about a Broken Man in Isolation

Ranjith Shankar’s Sunny is the second Malayalam feature film to feature the Covid-19 pandemic as an intervention in the characters’ lives. Sunny (Jayasurya), a Gulf returnee, moves into a hotel for his 7-day quarantine. The period brings him face to face with the demons residing in his own mind, tests his limits and eventually, brings him to a state of composure.

It is a familiar story, of a man born again after a period of isolation. The film is set in a single location, a high-end Kochi hotel with a balcony that offers a sweeping view of the backwaters. The narrative is slim – nothing much happens over the seven days other than a daily dose of phone calls from different people in his life, new and old. At one point, he strikes up a friendship with a young woman staying in the room above his. A romantic cliché. But the film is written smartly enough to keep the viewer hooked to the protagonist’s life.

Information is divulged in a measured fashion. Sunny has a heavy burden of debt and a marriage in crisis weighing on his chest. In the opening scene, he asks his taxi driver for a lighter, the latter hands it over with a gentle warning. A hackneyed exchange, but the scene ends oddly, with Sunny setting his passport on fire. It would be long before the viewers understand the man’s disenchantment towards life. Ranjith Shankar, here, displays an unusual grip on the narrative pace, neither rushing to make a motivational statement nor going into a murky self-indulgent show of melancholy.

And this rhythmic storytelling is, to a great extent, thanks to cinematographer Madhu Neelakantan, whose camera deeply engages with the space and the character. Kochi, in Sunny, is a deserted city, dripping blue and black, seen through the thick glass windows of the luxury hotel that acts like an artist’s canvas.

Although the film’s primary theme is the state of isolation that the pandemic pushed many people into, it addresses the issue rather subtly, without making a fuss about loneliness, a word that is slowly losing meaning thanks to overuse in pop culture. For one, twice in the film, Sunny calls out to the bellboy who leaves meals at his door, first out of desperation, to ask for a bottle of alcohol (he comes dangerously close to becoming an alcoholic) and the second time, out of impulse, perhaps to make contact with another human being. In another instance, he is seen looking at a security guard in front of a faraway gate and a bellboy pushing a food cart through the lobby downstairs. Sunny’s yearning for human contact comes through organically, through images of him watching.

Had the pandemic not happened and confined him to a hotel room, would Sunny have faced a similar sense of isolation? Yes, by all measures. The film etches out a rational picture of a man drowning in a mix of financial and personal problems, whose friends and family no longer recognise him. In one of the most poignant moments in the film, he calls his dead father’s number and talks to the stranger on the other end. The stranger does not sound flabbergasted or irked. He understands.

The film smoothly presents the supporting characters through phone conversations that do not sound expository. At one point, he makes desperate calls to a number saved on the phone as Doctor Anuradha who, several scenes later, is revealed to have played an intimate and prominent part in his life. Although you do not know their backstory, you can guess the bits and pieces from the clues the film drops.

Jayasurya is in his element here, delivering a thoroughly restrained performance, careful not to turn it into a one-act play that draws attention to itself. There are several instances where he understates Sunny’s state of mind and lets Madhu Neelakandan’s camera assume centre stage. Although the supporting actors, such as Aju Varghese and Vijaya Raghavan, do not appear on the screen, they beautifully bring their characters alive through their voices.

But the film is far from perfect. One of the forceful insertions in the film is the character of a psychiatric counsellor, voiced by Innocent, who trains Sunny to come out of alcohol dependency and his suicidal thoughts. In this part, dialogues sound like they were written to impress, to push to the audience a clichéd message about the value of life. When Sunny requests a bottle of alcohol to survive, the doctor gives him a plant, a rather strange gift given that Sunny’s stay at the hotel is temporary. The plant reappears in a later scene, composed of unwarranted painstaking shots, where Sunny prepares a medicinal tea using its leaves to cure the signs of the virus infection.

Barring segments like this, little in Sunny reminds you that it is the work of the same Ranjith Shankar who directed bloated and bland films such as Kamala and Punyalan Private Limited. This restraint in Shankar’s filmmaking was last seen in Ramante Eden Thottam which was, despite the flabby comic segments in the middle, a rather earnest work that knew what it wanted to say. Things do not take miraculous turns in Sunny, and rightfully so. It is a film that merely takes a compassionate look at a life making a sincere effort to fall back on track and run for a second chance.

***** 

This Sunny review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment Ends Exclusive Deal with Netflix

Filmmaker Karan Johar and OTT platform Netflix have ended their exclusive content deal that was was signed two years ago, The Economic Times reported.

In September 2019, the streaming platform had announced a long-term partnership with Johar’s digital content studio Dharmatic Entertainment to create a broad range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films, exclusively for its viewers.

“The deal has been called off and Dharmatic can now work with other video streaming services too,” an unnamed source with direct knowledge told The Economic Times.

However, Netflix and Dharmatic will continue to work on shows and series that were previously signed and announced. “There are multiple projects which have already been green-lit and deliveries of these will take place over the next 12-18 months. Then, there are some returning seasons too,” another person told the publication. Whether they will work together after that is not yet clear, the person added.

While there has been no official announcement from either Netflix or Johar regarding this, one of the sources told The Economic Times that “too much interference” from the streaming giant was one of the main reasons the exclusive deal was called off. “The entire industry knows it. They (Netflix) want everything a certain way and sometimes it’s frustrating and confusing. There is a disconnect between what they want and what they say,” the source added.

But, according to another report, Johar told journalist Subhash K Jha that the deal was supposed to end after two years. “It was always a two-year deal with Netflix. No more, no less. As always, this is a case of making a mountain out of a molehill,” the filmmaker told Jha.

Dharmatic and Netflix are currently working on a new series named Finding Anamika as well as the next season of Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives. They also have an upcoming film, Meenakshi Sundareshwar, and a few other projects in the pipeline.

Rana Naidu: Venkatesh & Rana Daggubati to Team Up for Netflix Crime Drama Series

Telugu actors Venkatesh Daggubati and his nephew Rana Daggubati are set to team up for the first time for Rana Naidu, an upcoming Netflix web series, the streaming service announced on Wednesday.

An official remake of the US series Ray Donovan, the show will be a crime drama produced by Locomotive Global Inc. The original show ran for seven seasons from 2013-20. The format rights are licensed by Viacom CBS Global Distribution Group.

According to Netflix, the crime drama will follow the life of Rana Naidu, the “go-to guy for everyone in Bollywood when they have a problem.”

While filmmaker Karan Anshuman will serve as the showrunner and director of the series, Suparn Verma is slated to co-direct. The shooting for Rana Naidu is set to commence soon, the press release added.

Speaking about the series, Rana Daggubati said in a statement, “It’s lots of special firsts for me. Working with my uncle Venkatesh and the first with Netflix in long-form storytelling that’s completely different from what both of us have ever done in our careers. I’m extremely happy to be with a crew and a platform that knows this the best. It will be challenging and new, and is definitely going to be fun. Looking forward to filming soon.”

Venkatesh added, “We are going to have a blast on set and this show is the perfect project for us to work on. I am a huge fan of Ray Donovan myself and the entire team is pulling out all the stops to ensure we do justice to it.”

It is to be noted that Rana Naidu marks the maiden collaboration with Netflix for both the actors.

Meanwhile, on the film front, Rana is awaiting the release of Virata Parvam. Venkatesh, who was last seen in Narappa, is awaiting the release of Drushyam 2. The Telugu remake of Drishyam 2 was recently certified ‘U’ and cleared by the CBFC.

‘Emmys So White’: Emmys 2021 Called Out for Lack of Non-White Winners Despite Nominations Promising Diversity

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards that were held on Sunday saw no actors of colour winning in any of the major performance categories despite the Television Academy announcing a record-breaking nominations slate with respect to diversity. This led to the Emmys getting called out by netizens, several of whom used the #EmmysSoWhite hashtag to express their outrage.

Significant nominated performances by actors of colour that were overlooked included those of Billy Ray Porter and Mj Rodriguez in the FX show Pose.

Porter received a nod in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, that saw a total of four people of colour nominated. Rege-Jean Page (Bridgerton), Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country), and Sterling K Brown (This Is Us) were the other three. However, all four lost to Josh O’ Connor, who essayed the role of Prince Charles in the Netflix show The Crown.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez, who became the first ever transgender performer to receive an Emmy nomination in a major acting category, lost out to Olivia Colman in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. Colman took home the award for her role in The Crown.

Colman’s colleague and fellow nominee, Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana, would have become the first openly non-binary actor ever to win an acting Emmy were the award given to her, as per Variety.

Photo Credit: Still from The Crown – Netflix

The lack of diversity in the awards this year came as a surprise, as the 72nd Emmys felicitated artists of colour like Zendaya, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Uzo Aduba, and Regina King, and shows like Watchmen.

One of the few countable wins for the non-white community at the 73rd Emmys came when Michaela Coel, the writer, director, and star of I May Destroy You, won for best writing in a limited series.

While none of the actors in the musical Hamilton won, the musical itself won the Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Emmy.

The Creative Arts Emmys, that were held on September 11 and September 12, were more inclusive in nature.

Maya Rudolph won the Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series award for her appearance in Saturday Night Live, and the Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance award for voicing Connie the Hormone Monster in Netflix’s Big Mouth, at the Creative Arts Emmys. She became the third Black woman ever to win back-to-back acting Emmys in the same category.

American drag queen and host of the show RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul Charles won the Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program for the sixth year in a row.

The show was further declared winner in the outstanding competition program category on Sunday. RuPaul, who also serves as the executive producer on the show, has reportedly won 11 Emmys so far – the most won by any person of colour.

Also winning at the Creative Arts Emmys earlier was HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming. The show’s entire cast, as well the writers’ room, consists of Black women.

Photo Caption: Netizen’s tweets against the all-white wins at Emmys 2021

Several artists, including former Emmy winners and nominees, have voiced out against the all-white wins at Sunday’s Primetime Emmys.

Ashley Nicole Black, who won an Emmy in 2017 for writing the show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, noted on Twitter that there have been only 33 Black women Emmy recipients so far.

Another netizen wrote, “I remember when Viola Davis won her Emmy she said ‘the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.’ That’s still true. It’s not like we can audition for a role on shows like The Crown.”

Journalist Benjamin Ryan, in a reply, wrote, “The point is that a lot of the shows and movies that win awards are historical dramas that because of historical accuracy have largely all-white casts. Some people see this as an all too convenient way to keep celebrating the same old thing: entertainment for and about whites.”

Inclusion and representation in terms of awards and recognition, has become a major concern in recent times. Earlier this year, the Golden Globes came under fire for nominating Lily Collins and her Netflix show Emily in Paris and leaving out Coel and her show.

The Globes curator, Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), went on to receive a streak of backlash from across the globe due to its lack of inclusion. It culminated in around 100 studios, including Netflix and Amazon, distancing themselves from the HFPA and compelling the association to redraw its plans.

‘Average Ambili’ is a Break from Typical YouTube Genres, Says the Director of the Musical Drama Mini-Series

Karikku Fliq, the web series vertical of the Karikku digital platform, recently produced a musical drama mini web series titled Average Ambili. The sixth and final episode of the series was released last week.

Karikku, a new-age Malayalam digital platform founded in 2018, is known for producing comic sketches, short videos, web series and independent music tracks, under various verticals. According to the platform, Karikku has established itself as a leading digital company in Kerala, with over 12 million followers.

The platform is branching out beyond the traditional comedy genre with Average Ambili, a musical family drama written and directed by Adithyan Chandrashekar, who previously made another web series for Karikku titled Rock Paper Scissors.

Average Ambili follows a young woman who is average in all aspects. The series reflects on family dynamics, relationships, human emotions, parenting, and more.

In conversation with Silverscreen India, Adithyan, who also stars in the series, talks about making Average Ambili, exploring a new genre in the YouTube space, and the scope of the platform for aspiring artists.

Breaking away from typical genres and including songs in a mini series

Average Ambili was an attempt to break away from the usual genres of YouTube series, says Adhityan. “Over the years, Malayalam content on YouTube predominantly falls into genres like thriller, humour or romance. As a creator and as an audience member, I always wanted a break from that. So when I got to know that Karikku was looking for new content, I pitched this idea. The team liked the subject and agreed to produce it.”

Average Ambili is not just a drama, it’s also a musical – an unusual move for a mini series. There are six short songs in the series, one for each episode, composed by Vishnu Varma. “While writing the script, I realised the need for music in this drama. Music has set the right pace for the series and to an extent, it has enhanced the content as well,” says the director.

He adds that making the series was a challenging exercise. “I did not have any examples. And our audience has only been exposed to a specific type of content all these years. So there was worry about how they would receive something like this. I am glad that Average Ambili has been well received.”

Adhityan feels his attempt will motivate fellow creators to think out of the box and come up with exciting new content.

A story about an average young woman

Aside from experimenting with the genre, Adithyan also wanted to tell an untold story in Average Ambili. “Most films and series tell the stories of successful people. Or they go the other way and tell tragic tales of the losers. But what about those in between? We don’t know about them. Hence, I wanted to tell a story about a person who is average, between these extremes. That’s how Average Ambili happened.” The series emphasises the idea of self-confidence and perseverance, he adds. 

The story is told from the perspective of a young woman, Ambili, and in a bid to ensure authenticity, Adithyan made sure to include a woman in his writers’ team. “My teammate Megha Ranjini Krishnan and several other female members from my family and friends circle contributed to the content. I wanted to be sensitive and careful while handling such a subject. So I took inputs from many people, especially women,” he explains.

Team Average Ambili

Sensitive scripting and relatable characterisation

Adithyan believes that one of the aspects that makes Average Ambili relatable to the audience is its well-defined character arcs. “We went in depth into each character during the scripting process. The series shows the dynamics of a middle-class family and a girl who is considered to be average. So, during the writing process, we built background details of these characters which could justify their behaviour. There are no black or white characters and we also ensured to keep the show rooted. This, I believe, made it possible for the audience to empathise or connect with at least one of the characters.”

While the series addresses topics like bullying and patriarchy, Adhityan says he did not want to force-fit any politics and has only added whatever the situations demanded to keep it genuine. “We wanted to be sensitive. There were several instances in the series where we could have had dialogues to underscore things. But instead, we opted to convey the essence through the artists’ expressions and music. I feel that created a better impact.”

Casting and production

Adithyan and his team completed the script in 15 days in March 2021. Actor Arsha Baiju, who was part of the 2019 Malayalam film Pathinettam Padi, was then roped in to play the titular role in Average Ambili. The rest of the cast was chosen through virtual auditions followed by look tests. All of the actors had prior acting experience.

The entire series was shot in just 17 days, says the director. He further adds that his team, consisting of cinematographer Azad Roshan, sound designer Sreejith Sreenivasan and editor Pinto Varkey, has managed an output on par with a feature film.

Director Adhityan and actor Arsha Baiju

Where it all began

Adhityan is not new to YouTube or content creation. His interest in art began with school plays and eventually developed into an interest in acting and cinema. After graduating with a B Tech degree, he decided to make YouTube content that he could also act in. “In 2017, I  made my first mini-series called B Tech Maman. At that time, there was no big web series culture in Malayalam. From then on, there was no looking back.”

After doing a few more sketch videos, he collaborated with Karikku for Rock Paper Scissors. It was Karikku’s first outside production and the first series to be released on the Karikku Fliq channel.

Last year, Adithyan won the best director award for Chandrettayanam under the music video category at the IV Sasi International Short Film Festival. The music video also bagged three more awards at the Indian International Film Awards 2020.

For Adithyan, who has not gone to any film school, YouTube has been a valuable learning ground. “It’s a boon for budding creators and artists. The platform gives one the scope to experiment with new ideas and improve their craft before taking the leap into feature filmmaking. With every new attempt, I get a chance to reinvent, learn and unlearn a lot of things. I didn’t know that I’d be the first to make a musical drama series, but by doing this, I feel ready now to broaden my horizons even more in the future.”

Emmys 2021: Netflix Bags Record 44 Awards, Including First Best Drama Series Emmy for ‘The Crown’

The Crown bagged seven awards at the 73rd Primetime Emmys, held on Sunday, bringing Netflix its first Emmy in the Best Drama Series category. The streaming platform’s total tally for the night was a record 44 awards.

The Crown, which follows the British royal family from Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, also bagged actors Josh O’ Connor and Olivia Colman wins in the lead actor categories. While Connor played Prince Charles, Colman played the queen. Tobias Menzies and Gillian Anderson took home Emmys in the supporting actor categories for the same show, which additionally saw Jessica Hobbs and Peter Morgan win for directing and writing, respectively.

Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit won Emmys for Best Direction in a Limited Series and Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series.

Both The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit won a total of 11 Emmys each, including the Creative Arts Emmys.

Following Netflix was HBO/HBO Max, that won a total of 19 Emmys, including the Creative Arts Emmys. Among the HBO shows that made a mark was Mare of Easttown, headlined by Kate Winslet. While Winslet won the award in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie category, co-stars Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson also bagged awards for their supporting roles.

Jason Sudeikis won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy for his role in Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso.

Michaela Coel received an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for her HBO show based on her own sexual assault, I May Destroy You.

Receiving the award, Coel, who also directed and starred in the mini series, said, “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you. In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves and to, in turn, constantly feel the need to be visible. Visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear – from it, from us, for a while – and see what comes to you in the silence.”

Coel was also one of the few artists of colour who received an Emmy on Sunday. American drag queen RuPaul Charles’ show RuPaul’s Drag Race won the Emmy in the Outstanding Competition Program category. As host of the show, RuPaul earlier took home the Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program for the sixth year in a row.

The 73rd Primetime Emmy awards was hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, and conducted in a fully air-conditioned tent at LA LIVE in Los Angeles. Presenters at the event included Uzo Aduba, Awkwafina, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Ava DuVernay, Jessica Long, Mindly Kaling, Amy Peohler, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among others.

Attendance was limited after the Academy declared in August that nominated teams of three or more members were to be restricted to no more than four tickets per nomination.

The full list of winners can be accessed here.

Review Roundup: What the Critics Are Saying About ‘Kaanekkaane’, ‘Annabelle Sethupathi’ and More Releases This Week

Cinemas across the country are marching towards normalcy as films like Thalaivii, Laabam, and Seetimaarr which released in the second week of September, are continuing their successful run in the theatres.

 

While viewership of Seetimaarr has topped the charts, Thalaivii, Jayalalithaa’s biopic starring Kangana Ranaut, has picked only over the weekend and has reportedly collected Rs 4.75 crores. Laabam, which has had a wider release than the Ranaut-starrer in Tamil Nadu, has collected only Rs 4 crore in the four days after its release.

While films like Kodiyil Oruvan and Friendship have released in theatres, several films like Nithin’s Telugu film Maestro, and Vijay Sethupathi and Taapsee Pannu’s Annabelle Sethupathi have taken the digital route.

Silverscreen India brings to you, responses from critics and audience, for films that have released both online and in theatres.

Kaanekkaane (Streaming on SonyLIV)

Photo Caption: Poster of Kaanekkaane; Credit: IMDb

The Manu Ashokan directorial features actors Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi, and Shruti Ramachandran, in lead roles.

Reviewers have appreciated the first half of the Malayalam film that set a subtle premise, but criticised the second half that chose a convenient and mainstream conclusion.

“When Paul (Suraj Venjaramoodu) chances upon a shocking piece of information about Sherin’s (Sruthi Ramachandran) death from a carelessly placed photograph at Allen’s (Tovino Thomas), he decides to seek revenge. Paul, who had been blaming a lax taxi driver for the accident all along, suddenly finds a new enemy, a target to steer his anger and grief towards,” writes Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India.

“The premise of Kaanekkaane takes off from countless front-page news items about women who were eliminated to make room for the men’s illicit desires,” she says.

She adds, “The film’s betrayal of its own cause hits hard because it began with immense promise.”

Vishal Menon of Film Companion notes “The thriller-like treatment disipates and the film’s moral undertones suddenly appear on the forefront, pushing back its subtleties.”

S.R. Praveen of The Hindu, writes “The ever-dependable Suraj carries much of the film, but even his shift comes across as unconvincing in the climax. Kaanekkaane works when it patiently unravels its many layers, but spoils it with a convenient stitching-up.”

However, it seems like the film worked better with the audience, as it currently has an IMDb rating of 8.5.

Kaanekkaane went on floors in November 2020 and was shot for around 33 days in the outskirts of Kochi. “Though we shot the film amidst the pandemic, the story is not set in the Covid-19 context. The filming was not confined to a single location either. We have a mix of both indoor and outdoor scenes,” Manu told Silverscreen India earlier.

Kodiyil Oruvan (Currently in theatres)

Kodiyil Oruvan Movie Stillls Starring Vijay Antony
Photo Caption: Still from Kodiyil Oruvan

The Vijay Antony-starrer Tamil film is a political thriller that revolves around an IAS aspirant, played by Antony, who decides to take the responsibility to fight against corrupt politicians of Chennai.

For reviewers, the film seems to have fallen flat as a political thriller with only the ‘Amma’ sentiment keeping it afloat.

For Arunkumar Sekhar of Silverscreen India, while the film is confused and falters in terms of sound mixing, editing, and character study, it “delivers because it has the quintessential amma sentiment as its driving force – it dictates the protagonist’s choices at crucial segments. This core is solidly written from start to finish.”

Similarly, Baradwaj Rangan of Film Companion while appreciating the film’s premise, calls the screenplay, a “garbled mess”.

Haricharan Pudipeddi of Hindustan Times calls the film predictable but lauds it for making the “sentimental mother-son subplot” work for itself.

It is to be noted that apart from playing the lead in the film, Antony also served as the editor.

The film has a current rating of 9 on IMDb.

Ankahi Kahaniya (Streaming on Netflix)

Photo Caption: Poster of Ankahi Kahaniya

The anthology film comprises three shorts directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, Abhishek Chaubey, and Saket Chaudhary. While Tiwari’s work features Abhishek Banerjee, Chaubey’s short features Rinku Rajgugru and Delzad Hilwale, and Chaudhary’s short features Kunal Kapoor and Zoya Hussain.

The three films about love and relationship has received mixed responses from reviewers.

For Mrinal Rajaram of Silverscreen India, Tiwari and Chaubey’s stories works the best as both capture the innocence in their protagonists’ romance. Despite an interesting premise and writing, Chaudhary’s final short proves to be the weakest link because of the acting which fell short.

Rohan Naahar of Hindustan Times calls Chaubey’s Madhyantar, a genius.

While Tiwari’s short stands out just for Banerjee’s acting, it falls flat for him due to the absence of a subtext.

Anna MM Vetticad of Firstpost, however, contrary to the two, finds Chaudhary’s short “breezy” and attributes it to the actors.

Ankahi Kahaniya is currently rated 6.3 on IMDb.

Annabelle Sethupathi (Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar)

Photo Caption: One of Annabelle Sethupathi‘s posters

The Vijay Sethupathi and Taapsee Pannu-starrer horror-comedy film revolves around a palace full of ghosts.

According to director Deepak Sundarrajan, while the film was not conceived as a pan-India film, it became one with the addition of actors like Jagapathi Babu, Rajendra Prasad, Raadhika, Yogi Babu and Vennela Kishore.

Despite a good cast, the film failes to impress both critics and the audience.

Sinndhuja of Silverscreen India, writes, “The director has everything in place – a history with the industry, good cast and crew, and the capability to lavish on vast sets and locales. He has everything but convincing writing.”

According to Vishal Menon of Film Companion, the film looks and feels like a television serial. It is “an extremely derivative horror comedy that’s never clever enough to double up as a spoof of the many films it borrows from.”

Praveen Sudevan of The Hindu, writes, “The story, after all, isn’t as important as how it’s told. But that’s where the film falters; Annabelle Sethupathi doesn’t address what it makes fun of.”

Annabelle Sethupathi has a current IMDb standing of 4.6.

Maestro (Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar)

Photo Caption: One of the posters of Maestro

The remake of the 2018 Hindi film Andhadhun, Maestro stars Nithiin reprising Ayushmann Khurrana‘s role, Tamannaah reprising Tabu‘s role, and Nabha Natesh in Radhika Apte‘s role.

According to Mukesh Manjunath of Film Companion, the film’s biggest let down is its lack of humour. However, reviewers agree that Nithiin and Tamannaah’s performances deliver a good watch.

“The dialogues are functional and the scenes are too faithful to the original barring the film leaning a bit too heavily on the organ donation aspect and getting into a preachy zone. The film doesn’t have as ambiguous an ending as the original and that’s understandable given that Telugu audiences have generally favored clear cut endings,” he writes.

For Balakrishna Ganeshan of The News Minute, Maestro works as a decent thriller as director Merlapaka Gandhi does not resort to shot-to-shot copy.

Apart from the aforementioned films, the third season of the highly anticipated show Sex Education has begun streaming on Netflix.

‘Schitt’s Creek’ Creator Dan Levy Signs a New Film and TV Deal with Netflix

Dan Levy, the creator of Schitt’s Creek, has inked a new deal with the streaming platform Netflix. The multiple-year deal includes both television and film projects.

While Levy will immediately begin work on a film, the television component is likely to begin in July 2022 after his three-year overall deal with ABC Signature expires. In light of ABC’s decision to not re-negotiate, he signed the new deal with Netflix.

According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, the upcoming film is a romantic comedy that he will direct, write, produce and act in. Stacey Snider and Kate Fenske, who are a part of the film studio Sister, will co-produce the movie.

The Schitt’s Creek actor said, “Netflix offered Schitt’s Creek a second home at just the right time and opened the doors to a whole new audience for us. Watching the show thrive there has only enhanced my excitement about continuing to tell specific, meaningful stories with them in both TV and feature film. A full circle moment.”

Speaking about the new deal, Netflix Head of Global Film Scott Stuber and Head of Global TV Bela Bajaria said in a joint statement, “Dan Levy is an incredible all-around creative talent, who thoughtfully approaches every story with a meaningful perspective. His work on Schitt’s Creek charmed audiences around the world and we’re thrilled to partner and create new films and shows with Dan.”

According to a report by Deadline, Levy has three live-action projects for ABC Signature and also an animated comedy for Hulu titled Standing By.

Dan Levy was last seen alongside Kristen Stewart in the romantic comedy The Happiest Season. Levy also made history at the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards where he won four awards. He took home the prize for Outstanding Comedy Series, Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. This made him the only individual to win in four major categories in a single year.

Prithviraj’s ‘Brahmam’ to Have Theatrical Release in the Gulf & Simultaneous Amazon Prime Video Premiere in October

Bhramam, the upcoming Prithviraj Sukumaran starrer, will have a theatrical release in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and a simultaneous premiere on Amazon Prime Video in October, the actor said during a recent media interaction in Dubai. 

Prithviraj was in Dubai to receive the Golden Visa from the United Arab Emirates government. Apart from him, Malayalam actors like Mohanlal, Mammootty, Tovino Thomas and Dulquer Salmaan were also bestowed with the Golden Visa in the recent past. 

During an interaction with a radio channel, Prithviraj noted that Dubai is “officially” his second home now and said he would establish his production house, Prithviraj Productions, there in the coming years.

The actor also discussed his upcoming projects such as Brahmam, Bro Daddy, and Aadujeevitham.

Revealing that Brahmam would simultaneously release in theatres (in GCC) and on Amazon Prime Video, Prithviraj noted that the Gulf audience could choose their preferred medium of viewing. “This [simultaneous release in theatre and OTT] is an interesting phenomenon and has already happened in the West,” he said, adding that streaming services have come as a blessing for the film industry which was at a standstill in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added that though films are designed for community viewing, the shutdown of theatres has caused a lot of grief in the industry. “However, with OTT platforms, at least a part of the industry was able to restart operations. I am really looking forward to the days when theatres can reopen fully.”

The actor also revealed that Brahmam will be released sometime in October first or second week. “The announcement will be made in the coming days,” he added. 

Bhramam, a dark comedy crime thriller directed by Ravi K Chandran, is the Malayalam remake of the Hindi film Andhadhun. The film also features actors Unni Mukundan, Mamta Mohandas and Raashi Khanna

Prithviraj also spoke about his second directorial venture Bro Daddy which, like his debut directorial Lucifer, stars Mohanlal in the lead. The actor-filmmaker said Bro Daddy, much like every other film, is made for a theatrical experience. However, due to the prevailing uncertain situation with the pandemic, he would not be able to comment on its mode of release at present, he added. “I don’t know when theatres will reopen. Whichever way it is, I’ll be happy if the film reaches the audience.”

When asked about the other film he is starring in, the upcoming Malayalam adventure drama Aadujeevitham, written and directed by Blessy, Prithviraj said he would resume work on the film in December. “We will start in Algeria with a big 40-day schedule, then shift to Jordan for another big schedule, and then back to India for a small schedule,” he added. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Benyamin. 

Sex Education Season 3 Review: Third Time is Also the Charm

Season 3 of Sex Education opens with a bang, quite literally – a series of montages of all the characters engaging in sexual activity. It is shocking, if you are new here, or strangely familiar and delectable for loyal fans. This sets the tone for what is to come over the course of eight episodes.

The previous season left us with one burning question: What will happen to the internet’s favourite will-they-won’t-they pair Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey)? The last time we saw them, Otis had left a voicemail confessing his feelings for her. However, Isaac (George Robinson), who is the most hated character on television right now, deleted the voicemail before Maeve could hear it. But we don’t get our answers just yet.

Other things have happened too. Former alpha jock Adam (Connor Swindells) finally confessed his feelings for Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), there was an alien and penis-themed school musical, and the headmaster Mr Groff (Alistair Petrie) was given the boot.

Now, the new school year has begun and everything is different. There is a new headmistress, Hope (Jemima Kirke), whose fun jig at the assembly does not seem to fool anyone. Otis and Maeve drift apart and hardly interact with each other. Adam and Eric are dating, but the former is struggling to adjust to his new relationship. And Otis’ mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) is pregnant and is working up the courage to tell her ex Jakob (Mikael Persbrandt) about it.

Sex Education sticks to its strong suit – it does not shy away from discussing teenage and adult issues in a real and raw manner. As in previous seasons, it addresses very real and relevant concerns effortlessly. Touching upon the taboo surrounding older mothers, infertility, fetish-shaming, and sex education itself, creator Laurie Nunn makes progressive points through her characters. For instance, Jean calls out the hospital staff when her judgmental doctor lets it slip that he disapproves of her being a middle-aged pregnant woman.

There is grief, love, anger, and of course, lots of sex. And sometimes, all four – drug dealer Jeffrey (Joe Wilkinson) is frustrated but he is unable to tell his wife that he is tired of having sex constantly because she is grieving for her dead cat. While some old things like the famous sex clinic are gone, there are some delightful callbacks to earlier seasons. Much like the “It is my vagina” chant that all the girls did when a nude photo was leaked in season one, there’s a hilarious, but heartfelt “It is my poo” sequence this season.

Season 3 also boasts of a plenitude of funny moments. Otis and Eric’s ever-blossoming friendship and their goofy dance on the stairwell to commemorate the latter’s decision to go all the way with Adam is memorable. The comedy is consistent, but it is the raw moments that stand out. There is a scene where Ola gets her period and they show her stained underwear. It is normal and there is no fuss about it. It is just plain honesty.

Credits: Sam Taylor/Netflix

Arguably, the show’s best aspect is its depiction of friendships and relationships. This season sees many unlikely bonds being formed. Friendships are complicated and Sex Education gets it right. Former head boy Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and current head girl Vivienne (Chinenye Ezeudu) are at loggerheads throughout the season over Hope’s authority, but they still maintain a friendship. Perhaps the show’s biggest highlight is the introduction of its new character Cal (Dua Saleh) from Minneapolis. Identifying themselves as non-binary, their friendship with Jackson is a pleasure to watch. From inspiring him to care about social issues to smoking cannabis with him on a high rock, there never is a dull moment when the pair is on-screen.

The list of loveable characters doesn’t end there. Despite their flaws, nearly every single person on the show is likeable. Even previously despised characters like Isaac and Mr Groff are redeemed. The lone exception is the headmistress. Hope, who is a stickler for rules and proper conduct, is racist, conservative, and not very sex-positive.

Under her, the school students walk in a single file, take out their piercings, and sport an unflattering grey uniform. (To be honest, for those of us who survived an Indian high school, these rules will not seem shocking.) She advocates abstinence and rules with an iron hand. While the archetypal strong female antagonist is not new, Kirke does play her part well.

Songs from the likes of David Bowie, KRS-One and Queen elevate the show’s important moments. The choice of music this season is spectacular – Bill Callahan’s The Breeze truly tugs at your heartstrings during an emotional scene with Maeve and Otis.

In Season 3, Sex Education does what it knows best. It is funny, shocking, and ultimately honest in its portrayal of human beings. In true Sex Education style, this season also ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. But, if you truly are a fan, you were probably prepared for that from the beginning.

***** 

This Sex Education Season 3 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the show. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies/shows that are reviewed on the site.

Annabelle Sethupathi Review: Zero Horror, Negligible Comedy and Entertainment in This Taapsee & Vijay Sethupathi Starrer

Perhaps the best thing about Annabelle Sethupathi is that it tries to be funny. The genre – horror – is a complete misnomer, but we’ll get to that later. The landscape is populated with actors of certain comic heft, who are known for their ability to elicit a laugh or two even without being actively humorous. There’s Vijay Sethupathi. Devadarshini. Yogi Babu – the propellant, quite overused. Radikaa Sarathkumar, whose antics are vaguely reminiscent of every 90s film made for “viewing with family” – reliant on everything loud and slapstick. It’s possible that Annabelle Sethupathi was conceived on these values that sold a few decades back. Scenes and dialogue exaggerated for comic effect, setting and characters larger than life. A semblance of a story – which exists as a mere prop to drive forward the various acts. Annabelle Sethupathi checks all the boxes.  

Somehow, Yogi Babu and Vijay Sethupathi, despite being actors in the new age, fit in with the scheme of things – they seem to intuitively know their limitations in the film. The misfit here is Taapsee Pannu – the eponymous Annabelle – who braves the lines she’s given, but after an hour, her act turns excruciating to behold.

But this isn’t an isolated instance in Annabelle. Every actor, by design or will, performs their piece with overstated drama. Except perhaps for Vijay Sethupathi, who plays an aristocrat-slash-ruler in pre-independent India. He buys a plot of land amidst the hills for more than what it is worth. His aide wants to know why. Sethupathi – as king Veera Sethupathi – says it’s because the mountains seemed sad. It’s a classic Vijay Sethupathi delivery – totally deadpan.  

To understand why Annabelle Sethupathi was made at all – especially two decades after the new millennium, it’s pertinent to understand the director’s roots. Deepak Sundarrajan, who ventures into filmmaking with Annabelle Sethupathi, is the son of director Sundarrajan, a prominent 90s actor and director. Suffice to say that the director has been and is still influenced largely by the age in which his father was active. Which perhaps also explains the star cast.

But how does one explain the complete lack of cinematic sensibilities? The director has everything in place – a history with the industry, good cast and crew, and the capability to lavish on vast sets and locales. He has everything but convincing writing. Consider this: An aristocrat builds a mansion for his wife. She’s murdered by his rival, who desires the mansion. The rival and his family are poisoned by the resident cook. The cook is reverse-poisoned by his own food. And they all return to haunt the castle, as paranormal as the next person you meet down the street – very human in spirit. What do they do when they encounter the now-reincarnated owners of the mansion?  

At best, Annabelle Sethupathi can be excused as a debutant filmmaker’s nostalgic recreations, but even then, it is an extremely sloppy attempt that devalues the collective intellect of the audience. 

***** 

This Annabelle Sethupathi review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

Ankahi Kahaniya Review: Tiwari & Chaubey Shine in This Engaging Take on Forbidden Love

Based on the Kannada story, Madhyantara, all three of the unnamed short films comprising Ankahi Kahaniya, grapple with forbidden love in its many forms. The first two in the anthology are, in many ways, the most endearing and innocent, making the heart sink and swell as the frames go by.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s first short, with the lonesome sales executive Pradeep at the helm, is the set’s crowning achievement. What makes the character-driven equal-parts-sweet-and-poignant narrative so engaging is Banerjee’s emotion-laden lead performance. Right from his initial introduction as the reticent sales person manning a woman’s section of a family-run clothing establishment, we are given short, sharp glimpses of his monotonous existence. He tells his carefree co-worker to stop slacking off, and concentrate. His working-class life is encapsulated beautifully in a mere scene or two – he’s either at the store attending to customers or at home listening to his roommate whisper sweet-nothings to a significant other.

Pradeep changes in the most unexpected manner when his boss orders a new female mannequin. The sheer loneliness up until that point remains deceptively hidden, but when he begins interacting with the inanimate object (complimenting her, being respectful while moving her around, and so forth), it hits you hard. What makes Tiwari’s story so good is that Pradeep’s romantic affection isn’t sexualised…he wants somebody who listens, somebody he can hold hands with and take to the beach, somebody to love. It unfolds as an innocent/harmless fantasy before those around him kick up a judgemental storm. I last saw Abhishek Banerjee in Paatal Lok as a menacing and deranged serial killer with a unique value system. The incredible switch from that role to this tells me that this man is a great actor in the making. Without his vast emotive range – he cries, he laughs, he pleads, he contemplates, he longs for things – Iyer’s film may not have exuded the kind of pure beauty it does.

Coming in second, in the anthology and my order of ranking, is Chaubey’s old-school love story set in Bombay of the 70s (presumably). Featuring Rinku Rajguru as Manjari and Delzad Hilwale as Nandu, it tells the tale of two unlikely souls falling for one another as a way out. Both hail from difficult personal environments. Manjari belongs to a typically sexist Indian household where the women perform all the domestic duties. In their one-room chawl, it’s only her abusive brother who needs serving. Her escape is the nearby cinema, a place she visits daily, on the pretext of chores. Nandu operates the film projector over there, lending a hand at the theatre’s food stall too. When he isn’t working, he is tending to his perpetually inebriated and sick uncle.

Abhishek Chaubey’s romance captures the same innocence as Iyer’s short, while paying extended homage to the 70s filmy duniya it is set in. Nandu’s fantasy of a grandly-dressed Manjari preparing to dance on stage or Manjari conjuring images of Nandu striding in her direction (sky-blue bell-bottoms, half-open shirt, and shades, in tow), nonchalantly knocking out her real-life sexual harasser with a cola in hand…it’s all an ode to the era’s classic hero-heroine-bad guy motif. Subtle hints at their growing affection and the eventual strength each gathers from the other’s presence, make the film a heart-warming watch.

All things considered, Saket Chaudhary’s third and final short proves to be the weakest link. The premise is interesting, so is the writing. But the acting doesn’t quite match up to the task at hand. Partners who have been cheated on come together to make sense of their significant other’s betrayal. Scenarios are drawn up (where, when, how, why) between Zoya Hussain’s Tanu and Kunal Kapoor’s Manav. After some initial awkwardness, they set about re-creating all the likely sequence of events, based on their spouses’ personalities.

One deft touch in all of this is that the liaison between Nikhil Dwivedi’s and Palomi Ghosh’s characters (Tanu’s and Manav’s respective spouses) is witnessed entirely through the prism of their partners’ thoughts/visions. They play out as dream sequences, with Tanu and Manav interrupting the flow, when either believes their significant other may have gone about a situation differently. How the affair actually transpired is never really shown, and is touched upon very briefly towards the end. A powerful way of telling a story, make no mistake. However, even the awkward, empathetic, situational bond shared by Tanu and Manav feels a bit forced, under the prevailing circumstances.

***** 

This Ankahi Kahaniya review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

Kaanekkaane Review: This Drama on Guilt and Vengeance Takes a Deadly Plunge into Sentimentality

The title Kaanekkaane hints at something that happens in front of your eyes as you watch. A memory erased, or a truth that appears out of the blue, changing the nature of relationships and life itself. In the opening sequence, a father quietly cleans the grave of his dead daughter. Seemingly unattended for a long time, the ledger stone has collected a heap of fallen leaves and mush. Later that day, he visits the house of his former son-in-law, meets the latter’s new wife and his grandson. As he watches the family members interact, he realises that the signs of the dead woman, like the letters on her grave, have disappeared in the husband and the son. Isn’t deletion of memory a form of betrayal?

Written by Bobby-Sanjay and directed by Manu Ashokan, the film is a slow-paced drama that discusses grief and the desire for vengeance. The latter plays out in the narrative like a riddle. When Paul (Suraj Venjaramoodu) chances upon a shocking piece of information about Sherin’s (Sruthi Ramachandran) death from a carelessly placed photograph at Allen’s (Tovino Thomas), he decides to seek revenge. Paul, who had been blaming a lax taxi driver for the accident all along, suddenly finds a new enemy, a target to steer his anger and grief towards.

The knowledge of a secret puts Paul, and the viewer, in a godly position, powerful enough to destroy or forgive. But, can the spectator make a fair judgement if the film makes every effort to paint a deceitful, mushy picture of the proceedings, reducing a complex question about human nature into a toddler’s bedtime tale?

Kaanekkaane begins well – the picture of Paul’s broken family subtly coming to form. At a shop, he asks for chocolates for his beloved grandson and a packet of candles that he takes to the cemetery in memory of Sherin. He meets Sneha (Aishwarya Lekshmi), Allen’s heavily pregnant wife, and Aaron, Sherin’s son, who affectionately addresses the former as ‘amma’. At the dinner table, Sneha’s parents ask him to drop the hit-and-run case so that everyone can be at peace. Paul seethes quietly while Sneha and Allen exchange anxious glances.

Here, the narrative is fluid; every cut and dialogue sprouting organically through the screenplay. The viewer empathises with Paul when he goes about disrupting the life of the couple, and stands in solidarity with his desire for vengeance. The gaze, here, is inward, into the grieving man’s psyche, granting him the right to be volatile and cruel. Rather unusual for a film targeting the mainstream audience who, thanks to years of exposure to soap-operatic narratives, have acquired an aversion for bleakness.

The latter half of the film, nevertheless, assures that the hopes were misplaced. The film smoothly moves back and forth the timeline, revealing the incidents that happened before and after Sherin’s death, creating a complete picture by the time the film hits the halfway mark. Now that there are no more secrets left to examine, the sensitivity Kaanekkaane displayed in the former half changes shape to kitsch aimed at manipulating the audience into looking for a simplistic, heart-warming conclusion.

Allen, the film explains through a set of scenes that offer a limited perspective, became a monster of a husband who cheats and abandons thanks to circumstances. Instead of finding a compelling moment of catharsis for Paul, the film asks the viewer to go easy on Allen, a man whose life looks like a catalogue of self-absorbed and toxic behaviour. The little grandson starts to speak like a fully-formed adult and requests the gloomy Paul to leave him alone, declaring his love for Allen and Sneha. And the tail-end scene is reminiscent of old fables, a done-to-death template in literature and cinema, so predictable that one can see it coming many miles away.

Suraj Venjaramoodu, an exceptional actor, manages to hold his own even as his character’s motives become wildly ambiguous. However, in the flashback sequences, there is a misplaced sense of restraint in his body language. He is strangely reluctant while interacting with his daughter, teasing her about quarrelling with her husband. Tovino Thomas, a lot of his face hidden under his lush facial hair, delivers a neat performance, just enough to convey Allen’s muddled subconscious.

The premise of Kaanekkaane takes off from countless front-page news items about women who were eliminated to make room for the men’s illicit desires. Through Paul’s responses in the initial half – for one, that shot of him visiting the spot of the accident one last time before agreeing to close the legal case – the film invites the viewer to reflect on the grief that these deaths leave behind, on the cold and clinical world where no one is really irreplaceable. The film’s betrayal of its own cause hits hard because it began with immense promise.

***** 

This Kaanekkaane review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

‘The Queen’s Gambit’: Netflix Sued by Georgian Chess Champion Over False Representation

Nona Gaprindashvili, former chess champion, filed a lawsuit against Netflix for falsely representing her in public eye through the 2020 show The Queen’s Gambit, on Thursday. She has sought damages worth at least $5 million.

The series runs parallel to Gaprindashvili’s life and is based on Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name. It follows the life of fictional American chess prodigy Elizabeth Harmon, or Beth, and her journey to becoming a World champion along with tackling her issues with drugs and alcohol.

Anya Taylor-Joy  who plays Beth in the show has won the Golden Globe award for her performance.

According to the lawsuit, that comes a few days ahead of the Emmys, the Georgian grand-master referred to a scene from the final episode, End Game, wherein a commentator is quoted saying, “Elizabeth Harmon’s not at all an important player by their standards. The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex. And even that’s not unique in Russia. There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”

Gaprindashvili claimed that the allegation that she “has never faced men” is “manifestly false,” apart from being sexist, and was added to heighten the drama in the otherwise fictional show. The lawsuit stated that by 1968, the year in which the last episode is set, Gaprindashvili had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least ten Grandmasters of that time.

The complainant added that the error was made despite Netflix hiring renowned chess players and experts Gary Kasporav and Bruce Pandolfini to work as consultants on the show.

The Queen’s Gambit, that released on October 23, hit a viewership record of 62 million views within 28 days of its release, according to Netflix. After its premiere, the book featured on The New York Times best seller list, 37 years after its publication.

Considering the show’s popularity, Gaprindashvili said that the false representation harms her brand in that her “current participation in the chess world, and her ability to earn income from that participation, remains tied to her historical success and accomplishments” that were notably achieved “when chess was overwhelmingly a man’s world.”

The lawsuit added that after the show’s release, Gaprindashvili confronted Netflix and demanded a public statement. “Netflix could have responded in any number of inexpensive and morally honorable ways of making redress, but instead it responded with extraordinary hubris, dismissing Gaprindashvili’s assertion of defamation by claiming that the false statement was “innocuous”, the complaint stated.

In addition, Gaprindashvili further pointed out that the show got her nationality wrong. “Piling on additional insult to injury, Netflix described Gaprindashvili as Russian, despite knowing that she was Georgian, and that Georgians had suffered under Russian domination when part of the Soviet Union, and had been bullied and invaded by Russia thereafter.”

The Queen’s Gambit is nominated in 18 categories at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, that is scheduled to be held on Saturday. It won nine Emmys at the Creative Arts awards, on Sunday.

‘Annabelle Sethupathi’, ‘Kaanekkaane’ & More – 7 New OTT Releases This Week

As theatres across the country are limping back to normalcy, two big releases in the past week, Kangana Ranaut‘s Thalaivii and Laabam, starring Vijay Sethupathi and Shruti Haasan, had a dull opening at the box office.

Telugu film Seetimarr, starring Gopichand and Tamannaah Bhatia, emerged as the clear winner by collecting around Rs 4 crore on its opening day, the highest any Indian film has earned on the first day of release, since theatres in the country reopened after the second wave of Covid-19.

Thalaivii, which was released in theatres on September 10, in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi, managed to collect Rs 4.75 crore over the weekend, while Laabam, which had a wider release than the Ranaut-starrer in Tamil Nadu, collected only Rs 4 crore over four days.

Even as several films are opting to release in theatres, OTT releases show no signs of slowing down.

Silverscreen India brings you a list of seven new films and shows releasing this week on streaming platforms, including Annabelle Sethupathi and Kaanekkaane.

Annabelle Sethupathi – September 17 (Disney+ Hotstar)

According to the streaming platform, the film follows Rudra (Taapsee Pannu), a small-time burglar who gets into a palace full of ghosts. Along with the ghost, she finds out the mystery about the owner of the palace. The film also stars Vijay Sethupathi in the lead. In an interaction with Silverscreen India, the film’s director Deepak Sundarrajan revealed that it was producer Sudhan Sundaram who gave him the idea to make a film with “a house full of ghosts.”

Kaanekkaane – September 17 (SonyLIV)

Kaanekkaane, the upcoming Malayalam film starring Tovino ThomasSuraj VenjaramooduAishwarya Lekshmi and Shruti Ramachandran in the lead roles, is a family drama, director Manu Ashokan told Silverscreen India. He said that while the film is primarily set in the drama genre, it also has some layers of engaging emotional and thriller elements. “Tovino plays the head of a marketing firm and his character has an emotional journey. Aishwarya essays a homemaker and Suraj plays the role of a deputy tahsildar,” he added.

Ankahi Kahaniya – September 17 (Netflix)

Ankahi Kahaniya is an anthology of three stories, directed by Ashwiny Iyer TiwariAbhishek Chaubey, and Saket Chaudhary, chronicling “three unheard and untold tales of love.” The ensemble cast includes Abhishek Banerjee, Zoya Hussain, Kunal Kapoor, Nikhil Dwivedi, Palomi, Rinku Rajguru, and Delzad Hiwale. The film’s plotline on Netflix reads, “As big city life buzzes around them, lonely souls discover surprising sources of connection and companionship in three tales of love, loss and longing.”

Intrusion – September 22 (Netflix)

Actors Freida Pinto and Logan Marshall-Green star in Intrusion, which is directed by Adam Salky. The film’s synopsis on the streaming platform reads, “After a deadly home invasion at a couple’s new dream house, the traumatized wife searches for answers — and learns the real danger is just beginning.”

Maestro – September 17 (Disney+ Hotstar)

The Telugu dark comedy crime thriller film, starring Nithiin, Tamannaah Bhatia and Nabha Natesh, is directed by Merlapaka Gandhi. The film, which follows a talented musician who fakes being blind and gets entangled in a web of crime and deceit, is the official Telugu remake of the 2018 Hindi film Andhadhun.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – September 17 (Amazon Prime Video)

Inspired by true events, the film follows Jamie New (Max Harwood), a teenager from Sheffield, who dreams of life on stage. Jamie contemplates revealing his secret career ambition to become a fierce and proud drag queen. The story revolves around Jamie and his community, who inspire one another to overcome prejudice, be more accepting, and step out of the darkness into the spotlight.

The Morning Show (Season 2) – September 17 (Apple TV+)

This American drama series is inspired by Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV. According to the streaming platform, the series explores the cut-throat world of morning news and the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning. It is told through the lens of two complicated women working to navigate the minefield of high-octane jobs while facing crises in both their personal and professional lives.

‘The Activist’ to be Reimagined as a Primetime Documentary Special Following Backlash

The upcoming CBS show The Activist, that was announced last week as a competition show with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Usher, and Julianne Hough as hosts, will be reimagined as a primetime documentary special, the makers said on Wednesday. The news comes in the wake of severe online backlash over the show’s original concept.

While the show was earlier slated to premiere on October 22, the statement from the makers notes that a new air date will be announced.

The Activist was supposed to feature pairs of activists from the sectors of health, education, and the environment competing for a chance to present their cause at the G20 summit in Italy.

While the makers claimed that the show was aimed at spreading awareness about real issues, the announcement did not go over well with netizens, who called it out for pitting activists against one another for the purpose of entertainment and monetary gains.

Consequently, CBS along with partners Global Citizen and Live Nation released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging their misstep. “Global activism centres on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologise to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community – we got it wrong,” they said.

The statement further added that the makers are “changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced). It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organization of their choice, as was planned for the original show.”

It is unclear if Chopra, Usher, and Hough will continue with the project. Critics of the original concept had also raised issue with the fact that the show was going to be hosted by three non-activist privileged people.

Of the three, Hough released an apology statement on Instagram on Wednesday, that highlighted the complaints against the show and its hypocrisy. “I heard you say that the show was performative, promoted pseudo-activism over real activism, felt tone-deaf, like Black Mirror, The Hunger Games, and that the hosts weren’t qualified to assess activism because we are celebrities and not activists,” she wrote.

“I also heard you say that trying to value one cause over another felt like the Oppression Olympics and totally missed and disrespected the many activists who have been killed, assaulted, and faced various abuses fighting for their causes,” she added.

Speaking about her association with the show, she said, “I felt it would help educate, mobilize, and inspire people around the world to get involved in activism because many worthy causes need attention, funding, and most importantly, the power to effect real change.”

Noting that she did not “have all the answers yet” to the questions raised, she added that she had shared people’s concerns as well as her own with the “powers that be.”

Hough’s controversial use of blackface in 2013 also resurfaced amidst the backlash against The Activist. Addressing this, she said she regretted her what she did then to this day, and stated that it was a poor choice based on her own “white privilege and white body bias that hurt people.”

Varun Dhawan to Make His Digital Debut with ‘Citadel’

Varun Dhawan, the Hindi actor, is set to make his digital debut with the upcoming American Drama series Citadel, reports Quint.

Citadel is an action-adventure espionage series that will consist of a “mothership series” and other local languages “satellite series,” says the report. Dhawan is expected to play the lead in the Indian spin-off series, which will be directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK.

Created by Anthony and Joe Russo, the main series will feature Priyanka Chorpa-Jonas and Richard Madden. It is currently being filmed in the United Kingdom and is scheduled to stream on Amazon Prime Video from January 2022.

The Indian leg of Citadel is expected to start production early next year. However, an official confirmation is awaited.

The report also states that the local productions of Citadel will be set in India, Mexico, and Italy. While the satellite series will be independent of the main series, there will be crossovers with the main series and cross-references between the various local series. The cast and crew of the Indian segment of Citadel are expected to be officially announced soon.

Chopra had shared photos of herself from the shoot of Citadel on social media last month. While she is yet to reveal her full look, the actor keeps sharing pictures from behind the scenes.

Apart from Citadel, Chopra has several other projects in the pipeline, including the Keanu Reeves-starrer Matrix Ressuructions, a romantic comedy with Mindy Kaling, a wedding-themed reality TV show, and her Hindi film comeback Jee Le Zaraa alongside Alia Bhatt and Katrina Kaif. She will also be hosting the upcoming CBS show The Activist, along with Julianne Hough and Usher.

Dhawan, on the other hand, will next be seen in Jug Jugg Jeeyo alongside Kiara Advani, Neetu Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, and others. He will also feature in the song Vighnaharta from Aayush Sharma and Salman Khan’s film Antim: The Final Truth. Dhawan has Amar Kaushik’s directorial Bhediya with Kriti Sanon on the cards as well.

Critics Review Roundup: Theatres revived with 4 new releases

From no films at all, to three big-banner films, this week saw films like Gopichand‘s SeetiMaarr, Kangana Ranaut’s Thalaivii, and Vijay Sethupathi’s Laabam, hit the big screens. Amidst all the cheer around an expected rise in the footfall in cinemas, Nani‘s Tuck Jagadish slipped an OTT release, on Amazon Prime Video, thereby, adding to the competition, albeit differently.

Besides the releases, Telugu film, Love Story, featuring actors Sai Pallavi and Naga Chaitanya, postponed its release date to September 24, the makers announced on Friday- the day on which the film was supposed to hit the screens.

Silverscreen India brings to you reviews of all the films that released this week, both online and offline:

Tuck Jagadish (Streaming on  Amazon Prime Video)

Photo source: Official Poster of ‘Tuck Jagadish’

Nani’s Tuck Jagadish finally saw the light of the day on Friday, owing to its much controversial digital release, that followed despite Telangana theater owners having requested the producers to opt for a theatrical release.

During a conference for the trailer launch, Nani said, “If, when the situation gets better and things are back to normalcy, my films and I don’t go to theatres, I will ban myself.”

The family-drama, directed by Shiva Nirvana, has an ensemble cast of  Ritu VarmaAishwarya Rajesh, Jagapathi BabuDaniel Balaji, and Nasser, among others.

Tuck Jagadish belongs to the new Telugu cinema that borrows elements from the erstwhile leftist Erra Cinema that portrayed the struggles of the peasant community in the region, not because it endorses the ideology of the latter but because it looks cool,” wrote Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India.

She blamed the “unimaginative writing” for having failed the film despite its several twists.

Sangeetha Devi Dundoo of The Hindu, wrote that while the film makes for an engaging family drama, it could have “sidestepped predictable tropes” and the length could have been shortened.

However, Vishal Menon of Film Companion, called this “clever writing” in which “when you get that shocker of a massy interval twist, you sit up and start taking the film seriously.”

Tuck Jagadish has a current IMDb rating of 6.

Laabam

Photo Caption: Poster of Laabam

This Vijay Sethupathi-starrer is the first Tamil film to opt for a big-screen release post reopening of theatres in Tamil Nadu with 50% capacity from August 23.

According to Arunkumar Sekhar of Silverscreen India, while the film “occasionally attempts to show rather than tell” with those moments standing out, it suffers from what he called the “Superman” problem.

“When your hero is so infallible, what can be a conflict truly worthy of him? And what of his character arc from the start to the end of the movie? When your hero is so good, your villain has to be even better.”

Ranjani Krishnakumar of Firstpost, called the film laughable and mediocre, despite best intentions.

“It is mired by tiresome public speeches, awkward fights, dance numbers and television debates, none of which add any value to the story.”

Baradwaj Rangan of Film Companion, reflected similar sentiments, and said, “There’s no character development and so people start and end up in the film the same way. There’s no story development either in terms of something interesting happening. We’ve seen all of these ideas in much better movies. ”

All the reviewers further criticized the casting of actors like  Shruti Haasan and Sai Dhansika, who had very little to offer.

Laabam‘s box office collections reflect that the audience’s response did not fall from that of the critics’. According to a Silverscreen India report, the film had a dull opening.

Laabam’s first-day collection is very poor and even the occupancy rate is 3-5% only across Tamil Nadu,” said Srither S, joint secretary of Tamil Nadu Theatres Association.

However, Venkatesh, owner of Woodlands Cinemas, Chennai said that the collections are improving on a daily basis with the occupancy in night shows slowly picking up.

Laabam is rated a 4.5 on IMDb.

Thalaivii

Photo Credit: Official poster of ‘Thalaivi’

Kangana Ranaut‘s Thalaivii which was a biopic on the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa feel flat for both critics and audiences.

Featuring Arvind Swami, Samuthirakani, and Nasser, in their respective pivotal roles of MGR, RM Veerappan, and MK Karunanidhi, the film barely made a mark. Many started that the film which claimed to cover the life of a woman, sidelined her and focused on the male characters instead.

Arunkumar Sekhar of Silverscreen India wrote that the film “takes the convenient route by ending exactly with Jaya’s ascension to the highest political post in the state. It is as vanilla a treatment that a public figure of the stature of Jayalalithaa can get.”

Ranjani Krishnakumar of Firstpost, also called the film ‘convenient’ and said that it does not delve into the political complexities.

Sangeetha Devi Dundoo of The Hindu wrote, “That she broke out of the male-dominated political sphere to become a larger-than-life figure, is beside the point. That she was sandwiched between the men, is the larger point.”

Thalaivii was pegged as one of the major contributors of the revival of Indian cinemas until the film opted for a two-week screening window in theatres before an OTT release for its Hindi version.

Mltiplexes like PVR and Inox refused to screen the Hindi version of the film and appealed to the makers to increase the theatrical window. However, the producers did not budge.

This resulted in a limited screening of the film which released in Tamil and Telugu too.

According to a Box Office India report, Thalaivii collected around Rs 80 lakhs in Tamil Nadu and approximately Rs 1.25 crore nationwide. Theatre owners said that apart from the content not being good enough, the Hindi-speaking audience have got very little to resonate with.

Ruban Mathivanan, managing partner of GK Cinemas in Chennai, while speaking about Thalaivii’s poor performance in single-screen theatres said “It is actually an upper-middle-class catering film which means the multiplexes will see more audience for it. As far as single screens go, it might not be able to pull too much crowd.”

Thalaivii has an IMDb rating of 5.2.

Dikkiloona (Streaming on ZEE5)

Dikkiloona Movie Stills Starring N Santhanam
Photo Caption: Dikkiloona Movie Stills Starring N Santhanam

This Santhanam-starrer comedy film is said to have followed the story of Mani, a man who resorts to time-travel in order to make changes to his married life.

While the film stands with an IMDb rating of 7, it fell flat for the reviewers.

Sinndhuja of Silverscreen India, wrote, “In a bid to reinvent himself, Santhanam switches the background of his latest act to a newer – and drearier one – but fails to realise that his brand of humour is no longer viable. The jokes are truly petty and the snark doesn’t sit right.”

Praveen Sudevan of The Hindu, pointed out that the actor employed of the usual trope of insult comedy. In this case, it was for women.

“There are quite a few logical loopholes too. But let’s not get into that. For, we can suspend disbelief in a sci-fi comedy… but should we suspend our sense of humour, too?” he said in his review.

Baradwaj Rangan of Film Companion, remarked that the film fails to put into use, the concept of a time-machine, and thus, “A movie that deserves a certain treatment ends up becoming a Santhanam movie that’s neither here nor there.”

Tughlaq Durbar (Streaming on Netflix)

Tughlaq Durbar Movie Stills Starring Vijay Sethupathi
Photo Caption: Tughlaq Durbar Movie Stills Starring Vijay Sethupathi

Vijay Sethupathi’s Tughlaq Durbar, directed by debutante Delhi Prasad Deendayalan, is the story of a politician who aspires for a party seat, and would do anything for it. He suddenly develops a conscience that holds him back from doing the wrong thing.

In her review, Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India wrote, “The screenplay fails to expand on situations, or look into the emotional damage the lead characters cause to the people in their life. It gropes in the dark, cursorily examining different scenarios and sub-characters.”

Baradwaj Rangan, of Film Companion, also shared a similar view and wrote, “They don’t know how to make the best screenplay from the one-line. This twist is seen in a lot of films about bad politicians who only want to make money.”

Haricharan Pudipeddi of Hindustan Times, called the film a “predictable but entertaining political comedy.”

All the reviewers said that characters played by the women in the film- Manjima Mohan and Raashi Khanna were nothing but props.

Tughlaq Durbar has a current rating of 6.3 on IMDb.

Apart from these films, Gopichand’s Telugu film Seetimaarr hit the screens and went on to collect around Rs. 4 crore, the highest any Indian film has earned on the first day of release, since theatres in the country reopened after the second wave of Covid-19, as per a Box Office India report.

Hollywood films like Fast and Furious 9Conjuring 3 and Shang-Chi continue to fare well at the box office.

Dikkiloona Review: Episode 8403121765 Featuring Santhanam as the Playground Bully

Apparently, Santhanam has come to realise that one can never be ageless as in a comic strip. In Dikkiloona – as the name goes – he tries to level up. By getting a wife. He’s no longer the carefree single man tripping up everyone and everything that has the misfortune of existing within the range of his vision. He’s now married – and amazingly – is the troubled one. Not that it deters him from slapping his co-actors with cringe-worthy one-liners, but you get the drift. His life’s a joke, and his wife is no longer the girlfriend he could cozy up with. There begin the hero’s woes. 

In Dikkiloona, Santhanam is a “lineman” with the TNEB, dissatisfied with his work, life, marriage, and just about anything he sets his eyes on. He arrives to fix an electricity outage at a hospital for the mentally frail, pokes fun at the doctors, patients, their clothes. He discovers an old garage, finds a differently-abled “scientist” inside, calls him something unsavoury. He chances upon Yogi Babu, tears apart his hair.

Even as Santhanam in suspenders and nerd glasses is a sight to behold, they do little by way of packaging his lines well. There isn’t a moment in the film that is genuinely funny. The setting is terrible: Santhanam is Mani, his screen name barely used in the film by any of his co-stars because none of them are allowed to talk up to him. The screen names of his co-stars though, are generously mentioned, only to be trampled upon immediately. Mani, disillusioned in marriage and career, indulges in a pity party, and a two-and-a-half-hour-long sequence about the evil that seems to have a hold on his life: his wife.  

In a bid to reinvent himself, Santhanam switches the background of his latest act to a newer – and drearier one – but fails to realise that his brand of humour is no longer viable. The jokes are truly petty and the snark doesn’t sit right. The character’s ire is primarily directed at the women in the film. Mani marries, realises marriage ain’t easy, blames wife. Mani goes back in time with the help of a time machine, chooses a different woman – nuh uh. He’s more miserable than ever. Now with no other woman in sight (or written into the script), Mani blames his wife’s parents for not raising her right.

Added in the mix are tropes of morality and womanhood that act as a powerful anaesthetic – come to think of it, they could have been administered sooner. Instead, we endure a rather painful ordeal of staying put as our senses repeatedly come under assault. Dikkilona’s ludicrous premise and ideals though point to a certain infallible fact about the crew of the film: the men in there are in dire need of therapy. 

***** 

This Dikkilona review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

Naduvan: Bharath Starrer to Stream on SonyLIV; Thriller Drama is Set in a Hill Station, Says Director

Naduvan, the upcoming Tamil feature film starring actor Bharath in the lead, is set for a direct digital release on SonyLIV, the makers of the film announced on Thursday.

Written and directed by debutant filmmaker Sharang, the film also marks the maiden production venture of Cue Entertainment.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, Sharang, who has previously acted in films such as Inidhu Inidhu and Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam, says, “Naduvan, which means middle man, is a thriller drama that is set against the hill station backdrop of Kodaikanal. Bharath plays the role of a businessman and certain negative events happen around him without his knowledge. People around him wear masks and are fake and not faithful. Finally, he understands what is happening and how he reacts forms the rest of the film.”

“When I approached Bharath, I told him that it was not a hero-oriented film but a story involving a lot of characters, of which his would be the main one. And he was game to try it out,” he adds.

Expanding on the rest of the cast, Sharang says the film also features theatre artist Aparna Vinod (who has acted in the Malayalam film Kohinoor), Gokul Anand, Aruvi Bala, and Yog Jaypee.

“Aparna plays Bharath’s wife, who has a child with him and is also a school teacher. We cast her through auditions. Gokul essays the role of Bharath’s business partner, and he was the first choice for his character. Yog Jaypee plays a police inspector.”

The filmmaker reveals that the film is divided into named segments and follows a non-linear screenplay. “I first conceived the idea for the backdrop of the climax. And then I started to write the script keeping that in mind because I wanted the story to end that way. It was sort of like reverse engineering.”

The film was shot by cinematographer Yuva in Kodaikanal and Chennai in a single 45-day schedule, the director adds.

Sunny Sawrav has edited the film, which has a runtime of two hours and three minutes. Naduvan features three songs composed by Dharan.

Speaking about the film’s direct OTT premiere, Sharang says, “It is the production’s call. We made the decision before the reopening of theatres. We have not yet announced the release date, but it should be out by the end of the month.”

The filmmaker adds that Naduvan will be released in three languages, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu, with the latter two being dubbed versions.

Sharang is next working on a segment for a horror anthology and a thriller script for another feature film.

Priyanka Chopra, Julianne Hough, Usher to Host the Competition Show ‘The Activist’

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Julianne Hough, and Usher will be hosting the upcoming CBS show The Activist, the network announced on Thursday.

The competition series will have pairs of activists from the sectors of health, education, and the environment competing for a chance to present their cause at the G20 summit, that is scheduled to be held in Italy.

The show will premiere on October 22, reports Deadline. The five-week reality series will feature six activists from around the world, who are working to bring change to one of the three aforementioned sectors, going head-to-head in a series of challenges. The success of the participants will be measured in terms of online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ opinion.

While the makers claim that the show will spread awareness about real issues, the announcement did not go over well with netizens, who are calling it out for pitting activists against one another for the purpose of entertainment and monetary gains.

Photo Caption: Netizens tweet against the show and the artists; Credit: collage by Silverscreen India

Some Twitter users pointed out that instead of creating a show, the makers could have donated an amount towards a cause. English actor and activist Jameela Jamil wrote, “Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this unbelievably expensive talent and make this show, directly to activist causes? Rather than turning activism into a game and then giving a fraction of the much needed money away in a ‘prize’…? People are dying.”

The Guardian columnist and social movement lawyer Derecka Purnell said, “Oh no. This is a show about influencers, not activists.”

Some Indian netizens also called out Chopra for her alleged hypocrisy in agreeing to host this show while choosing to remain silent on the issues in India.

Journalist Vidya Krishnan wrote, “Priyanka Chopra, who has remained Modi’s supporter through thick and thin, as he jailed students, activists, poets and intellectuals in India… is hosting The Activist show to promote social justice in America! The hypocrisy is nauseating.”

Neither CBS nor the three artists have commented on the backlash yet.

Tuck Jagadish Review: A Half-Hearted Nani Saves a Village in a Wobbly Drama

(Spoiler Alert)

Within the first eight minutes of Tuck Jagadish, a Telugu language drama directed by Shiva Nirvana, four men are gruesomely murdered, in separate incidents of land disputes. Scenes of betrayal, high-pitched wailing and battered life in a village ruled by a brutal landlord. However, in the ninth minute, the film changes costume to become a comedy. The hero’s homecoming. Jagadish (Nani) enters in a shiny car, rolling out deadpan humour. In his palatial house, he reunites with a horde of relatives who, like diligent stage artistes, come forward one by one and perform soap-operatic melodrama. The background score oscillates unevenly between mawkish and upbeat.

In Tuck Jagadish, emotional continuity is as petty a concept as subtlety.

At the centre of the film are two feudal families. Jagadish, the scion of one of the families, possesses a laughably heightened version of righteousness. In an early scene, he is seen carefully tending to an injured fowl. At the same time, Veerendra (Daniel Balaji), the head of the second family, is a blown-up villain who flexes his muscles and clenches teeth for reasons as minor as a wailing infant. A thoroughly remorseless murderer, the latter is also a habitual sexual harasser. He controls the local land revenue office, the film’s centre of conflicts, using money and muscle.

Veerendra is the yin to Jagadish’s yang; an uncouth villager diagonally opposite to an educated modern man who likes to dress like he is ready for office any time. When the villain sets out to grab the peasants’ farm plots, the hero abandons his boyishness and assumes the role of the village’s guardian.

Tuck Jagadish belongs to the new Telugu cinema that borrows elements from the erstwhile leftist Erra Cinema that portrayed the struggles of the peasant community in the region, not because it endorses the ideology of the latter but because it looks cool. In an early scene filmed like a joke, the hero and his friends disguise themselves as Naxalites and assault a corrupt officer at his official guest house. In a pivotal scene, Jagadish urges the peasants to take on Veerendra and claim their right to work on their land. A folk song about agriculture begins in the background, only to metamorphose a couple of lines later into a devotional song that praises the late landlord (Nasser) and his suave, educated son. The landlord is not a despicable entity in Tuck Jagadish, but a redeemer, an overseer of reforms.

There are twists aplenty in Tuck Jagadish but, thanks to unimaginative writing and staging of scenes that render the narrative bumpy, none of them are convincing. The pivotal revelation scene is inserted into the narrative in the silliest manner, likely to cause even the most loyal mass cinema viewer to go, “Really, now?!”

And Jagadish is not a character worth empathising with or rooting for. He does not undergo a journey but stays still and detached throughout the narrative, like a demi-god powered by his lineage. Now and then, he reminisces about his childhood, his eyes welling up and a piece of sentimental music playing in the background. However, the flashback bits show a nondescript childhood, nothing deserving the spectator’s attention.

The film’s most treasured secret is the duality of his personality. For the viewers who might feel disappointed by the hero’s aversion to violence in the early scene, the film offers several gifts in the latter half of the narrative. Jagadish unleashes bloody assault on the villains, severs limbs and breaks bones while being careful to keep his facial muscles still and hairdo intact. Do not be fooled by the young landlord’s tucked-in shirt and sophisticated ways, the film gloats, for he can perform gravity-defying stunts and carry a sickle around like any masala movie hero.

Nani, whose greatest strengths are his comic timing and a natural charm that makes him tick in romantic comedies, stiffens up and imitates his inferior contemporaries, turning Jagadish into a lifeless cliche. The courting scenes featuring him and Ritu Varma, who plays a junior officer at the land revenue office, are dull. The actors’ performances seem half-hearted, as though they feel romance is beneath their characters. Varma, a solid actor, is wasted in a role where she plays the hero’s sidekick who looks at him in awe and pride in regular intervals. Also, the film has Aishwarya Rajesh, a fantastic actor, in a supporting role that could have been played by a table lamp.

What makes mass movies work are the little things – cliches turned on their heads, quirks in sync with the narrative’s internal logic, and a hero who knows his strengths. Tuck Jagadish has a masala exterior, but it uses a poor mix of sentimentality and a show of uprightness to narrate the story. There isn’t a clever or lively rewatchable moment in the narrative. All there is, is an all-pervading blandness.

****

This Tuck Jagadish review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

‘Tuck Jagadish’, ‘Tughlaq Durbar’ & More- 7 New OTT Releases This Week

With cinema halls across the country slowly reopening, films such as Bellbottom and Chehre released in theatres last month.

While Chehre starring Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi had a poor opening at the box office, Bellbottom starring Akshay Kumar did comparatively well.

Laabam starring Vijay Sethupathi released in theatres on Thursday and Thalaivii starring Kangana Ranaut, which has been shot in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu, is all set to release in theatres on Friday. Multiplex chains are however unhappy with the release of the film’s Hindi version on OTT within two weeks of its theatrical premiere.

Even as several films are opting to release in theatres, several others are taking the OTT route.

Silverscreen India brings you a list of seven films and series that you can binge this weekend including Konkona Sen Sharma starrer Mumbai Diaries 26/11Nani starrer Tuck Jagadish, Vijay Sethupathi starrer Tughlaq Durbar, among others.

Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.– September 8 (Disney+ Hotstar)

Based on the 1989–93 ABC television series Doogie Howser, M.D., Doogie Kameāloha, M.D is an American family medical comedy-drama developed by Kourtney Kang. The series revolves around a 16-year-old aspiring medical prodigy trying to balance her budding medical career and the daily challanges of teenage life.

Mumbai Diaries 26/11– September 9 (Amazon Prime Video)

Starring Konkana Sen Sharma, Mohit Raina, Tina Desai and Shreya Dhanwanthary, the series is set against the backdrop of the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26, 2008, and is based on the stories of the doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospital staff when the city faced unprecedented danger. Mumbai Diaries 26/11, a medical thriller, “pays homage to the frontline workers and celebrates the undying human spirit”.

 Blood Brothers: Malcolm X Muhammad Ali– September 9 (Netflix)

The documentary tells the “story behind the friendship of two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century: Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X,” as per the official synopsis. The documentary, inspired by the book “Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X” written by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, features never before seen archival footage.

Tuck Jagadish- September 10 (Amazon Prime Video)

The Nani starrer is a Telugu action drama film written and directed by Shiva Nirvana. “Set in the tinsel town of Andhra Pradesh, the film narrates the life and journey of Jagadish Naidu (played by Nani) as he traverses through the ups and downs in his family life thereby highlighting the special bond and conflicts between siblings in his closely-knit joint family,” reads the official synopsis of the film.

Borun Babur Bondhu– September 10 (Hoichoi)

Previously screened at the 25th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) in 2019 and the Third Eye Asian Film Festival and the Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati, Ohio in 2020, Borun Babur Bondhu stars late Soumitra Chatterjee. The film revolves around a strong-willed octagenerian Bonrunbabu (played by Chatterjee), who finds himself at the center of all attention after an old friend writes to him about visiting his house.

Lucifer Season 6– September 10 (Netflix)

Based on the DC Comics character taken from the comic book series The Sandman, Lucifer is an American urban fantasy television series. While Fox had cancelled the series after three seasons, Netflix picked up the series and in 2019 renewed it for a fifth season. Season 6, premiering on Friday, marks the finale of the series.

Tughlaq Durbar– September 11 (Netflix)

Tughlaq Durbar, the Vijay Sethupathi starrer, is a Tamil political drama television film premiering on Sun TV on Friday and on Netflix a day after. The film revolves around a budding politician who “has devious plans to rise in the ranks, until he suddenly develops an alter ego that interferes with his every crooked move,” as per IMDb.