Cinema. Culture. Sports.

The growing pains of south Indian web series

Vilangu , a police procedural set in a village near Trichy with its narrative marred by caste, culture and politics, is one of the better web series to come out of south India. In an interview to YouTube channel Galatta Plus last year, its writer-director, Prasanth Pandiyaraj, elaborated on the challenges facing long-form series creators in the south. He mentioned “Mumbai" at least three times. He spoke about how he must convey his pitch and story to the local team of an OTT platform, then impre

‘Cinema shouldn’t be limited to one kind of storytelling’: Don Palathara

Even among independent filmmakers, Don Palathara is an outlier. His latest film Family premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2023 and travelled to festivals including the Bengaluru International Film Festival, the International Film Festival of India, and the International Film Festival of Kerala. Starring Vinay Forrt and Divya Prabha among a talented ensemble, Family will have a theatrical release on February 23, 2024, and in the run-up to that, director Anurag Kashyap relea

Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust Delivers Spectacular Sci-Fi Animation

WE hear snatches of Hindi, maybe a few other languages and then settle on English. Two characters speak on a balcony overlooking a busy road. The animation suggests it is after dusk in a land where it is perpetually dark. The aesthetics suggest a combination of Blade Runner and Dark City, a futuristic dystopia with sprinkles of noir and it is all animated in 2D and 3D using video game engine. Overhead shots of the city and its roads, and car windshield as frame within a frame. Based on his 2016

Kiss Wagon review: An animated epic adventure, protean and powerful

Midhun Murali’s Kiss Wagon, which premiered in the Tiger Competition at International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) last week, won the Special Jury Award as well as the FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique or International Federation of Film Critics) prize. The Malayalam-English selection from India can be best described as an animated epic adventure film though it is far more than that.

It is not an easy task to elaborate what the film is about; it bends genres

Anand Ekarshi On Making His Malayalam Feature Debut With The Acclaimed Aattam

Aattam: The Play is an incisive exploration of the human psyche in the form of a chamber drama. It is part of the programme at the International Film Festival of Kerala.

Anand Ekarshi’s Malayalam feature debut Aattam: The Play had its world premiere at 21st Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles where it won the Grand Jury Award for Best Film. An incisive exploration of the human psyche in the form of a chamber drama, the film had its Asia premiere at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023, was the op

Mithya review: Athish Shetty shines as a trapped soul in an emotional tug of war

In Sumanth Bhat’s Kannada film Mithya, we are always behind eleven-year-old Mithun aka Mithya (Athish S Shetty). We see what he sees in these moments. Bhat, with his cinematographer Udit Khurana, films Mithya from the back of his head almost all the time. In the very first scene, Mithya is standing perilously close to the door of a zipping train, and we are behind him as he remains still and the background whizzes away.

The composition follows a similar pattern — when he arrives at his new ho

Mia Hansen-Løve: ‘I wanted this film to be austere’

Time is one of the pillars of Mia Hansen-Løve’s films. We follow characters through changing weathers, years and decades. “All my films deal with passing of time in some way, the earlier films were more obvious in this regard as there were longer stretches in their stories and some films focus on shorter periods,” she says over Zoom. “But the question of time, growth and how we change and how much we remain the same is at the heart of my films.”

Time is fluid in her films. The earlier films lik

Biweekly Binge: In the name of the father

In Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun—streaming on MUBI—Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio play Calum and Sophie, a father-daughter duo vacationing in Turkey sometime in the 90s. He is barely into his 30s. She’s all of eleven. It’s a curious dynamic to the extent that fellow vacationers casually assume they are siblings. Mescal possesses a heavy guttural voice of a coach that does not betray his age, so when he says, “I am her father though” in a thick accent, the teenage traveller is quick to apologize and

Pushpak at 35: The silence of the clowns

Vasan Bala’s Monica, O My Darling sent everyone on a spot-the-reference treasure hunt but a rare warm moment in the film is in its bibliographic hat tip—the who’s who of Bala’s likely favourites on an apartment nameboard. It’s warm because one of those names is not like the others. The Indian names make up a certain kind of genre film-makers—Sriram Raghavan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Abbas Mastan. Almost all the names roll off the tongue for even the casual watcher but the very first name might have elud

Biweekly Binge: Mothers and daughters in a chamber

Two of the best films of 2022 premiered at Venice International Film Festival, followed by showings at Toronto International Film Festival. One is Alice Diop’s first narrative feature Saint Omer which came after several revered documentaries by the filmmaker, and the other is Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter. The former also won the Silver Lion at Venice.

These two distinctive films share special similarities in the way they use dialogue and sound in addition to the centrality of the relation

Kummatty: At 59th New York Film Festival, restored classic is reminder of G Aravindan's mastery

In Govindan Aravindan's cinema, bogeymen, mystery figures and a stray spectre of a saintly form are common. In Oridathu (1986), set in the late 1950s, a homeless man dissociated from the main plot functions as silent witness to everything that goes down in the village. Electricity has just arrived, and he listens to the news on All India Radio Kozhikode, seemingly the only one in the populace bemused by recent events. In Uttarayanam (1974), the disillusioned Ravi, jobless during the period chara

The making of an international juggeRRRnaut

Good morning! A big hello to readers who signed up this week. Welcome to The Intersection, The Signal's weekend edition. This week, we talk to the people who made Telugu action epic RRR a runaway box-office hit in the US. Also in today’s edition: we have curated the best weekend reads for you.

If you enjoy reading us, why not give us a follow at @thesignaldotco on Twitter and Instagram.

Ariel Vida is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and production designer. If you look at her social media, you mi

Understanding the new ‘pan-Indian film’

In M. Rajshekhar’s Despite the State, the author meets a man in Bihar who downloads music and films and sells them for ten bucks. He mentions the popular titles—Akhil: The Power of Jua, Heart Attack, Businessman 2, Shivam, Viraat, and The Return of Raju. They are all titles from South India. Businessman 2 is the Hindi dub of Pandaga Chesko and The Return of Raju’s original is Soggade Chinni Nayana. Rajshekhar goes on to write about the popularity of the dubbed version of Telugu and Tamil films s

Inside labyrinth of Irma Vep: How to make a remake on making of another remake

In 'How The Picture Moves,' Aditya Shrikrishna offers a technical breakdown of recently released movies and shows.

Olivier Assayas flips a pivotal moment in the TV series adaptation of his 1996 film Irma Vep. He flips great many things in the modern version, which is an updated exegesis on the state of art and business of filmmaking but this moment, as it does in the original, stands out.

In the film, Maggie Cheung playing a version of herself, visits René Vidal, the increasingly volatile film

NYFF 2021: Why Payal Kapadia's A Night of Knowing Nothing is essential viewing

In Payal Kapadia's A Night of Knowing Nothing – winner of L'Oeil d'Or (Golden Eye) at Cannes, Amplify Voices award at Toronto International Film Festival and part of the Currents line-up at 59th New York Film Festival – a student union leader in the middle of a passionate night time speech to his friends and fellow students, talks about preserving the past but also safeguarding the future. The line can be obtuse in the best of contexts, but it is succinct in capturing the core of Kapadia's work.

Suzhal: The Vortex and Vilangu — A tale of two Tamil small-town mysteries

In a span of four months, we got two Tamil web series that could be slotted under the genre of "small-town mystery". Vilangu, written and directed by Prasanth Pandiyaraj, released in February on ZEE5. Suzhal: The Vortex, created and written by Pushkar-Gayathri and directed by Bramma and Anucharan, released a few weeks ago on Amazon Prime Video India.

The former is smaller in scale in terms of both story and budget. The opposite is true for Suzhal, especially with the pedigree of writers and dir


Let me tell you a kutty story, a sample of how the arts in Tamil merged into a seamless whole that is the Tamil cinema universe. The Siddhars were wandering mendicants, rebel ascetics who wrote poems of philosophy and dissent. Kaduveli Siddhar wrote Nandavanathil Or Aandi, a folk poem centred on the futility of life. It is about a man who waits ten months for a mud pot, and then manages to break it when he finally receives it. The song’s lyrics were adapted for comic effect by Pattukottai Kalyana

Biweekly Binge: Inside Don Palathara’s Cinema

Don Palathara’s Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam (Joyful Mystery) premiered at IFFK earlier this year and Everything is Cinema, premiered at IFFR and will release on MUBI on August 21. Both the films have little in common and yet share seemingly coincidental details. Both feature a couple at crossroads, one threatened by an immediate concern and another in its last legs. There is a glimmer of hope in Joyful Mystery, an 85-minute single shot off a dashboard camera. In Everything is Cinema, Chris (v

Berlinale 2021: The Girl and the Spider - A waltzing ensemble

A spider crawls on Lisa's (Liliane Amuat) back and Mara (Henriette Confurius) creates uninterrupted surface from Lisa's back, her shoulders, her clothes to Mara's hand. They exchange the spider hand to hand in smooth, lyrical motions and then transfer it back on the wall. It's the new Zürcher brothers' film, Das Mädchen und die Spinne or The Girl and the Spider, premiering at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival. And just like this smooth transition of movements and energies where there w

How would Satyajit Ray have responded to the pandemic?

There may be clues in his cinema, which reveals a politically and socially conscious, and often prescient, vision of Bengal, India and humanity

The Spanish Flu ended in April 1920. Satyajit Ray, India’s most fêted filmmaker, was born a year later, on May 2, 1921. This year marks his birth centenary, as another pandemic ravages the world, its impact particularly harsh on India now more than anywhere else. A question that has arisen over the past year is how cinema will reflect this period. We ha

How Shakun Batra masterfully establishes mise-en-scène in his films

In Shakun Batra's Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012), Rahul Kapoor (Imran Khan), a jobless architect in Las Vegas picks up after his newfound companion Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor). A beer bottle on the sidewalk, a candy she flings at him in mock anger followed by a coffee cup in the middle of the road. Rahul's parents brought him up under the compulsion of neatness and tidiness in all their varied meanings. He grew up to become exactly what his parents wanted him to be, learning to iron his socks and

What Arivu's erasure from Rolling Stone India's cover and story of 'Enjoy Enjaami', 'Neeye Oli' highlights

Songwriter-musician-activist Arivu is at the centre of both the songs that form the anchor for Rolling Stone India’s August 2021 cover story featuring singer Dhee and rapper-recording artist Shan Vincent de Paul. The two are on the cover with Arivu nowhere in sight.

In 1972, Dr Hook & the Medicine Show released their song ‘The Cover of Rolling Stone‘, penned by Shel Silverstein. It parodies the pinnacle coveted by bands then, to appear on the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine and made a famou

Dhanush: An Actor Poised to Become Indian Cinema's Next Polymath

A film critic, after the India premiere of Visaaranai, experienced the kind of disbelief that can be summoned by a truly original film and tweeted, “who is this director Vetrimaaran”. Everybody clamoured to point out that he is a National Award-winning filmmaker. Dhanush, Visaaranai’s co-producer, who won his first of two Best Actor National Award for the director’s Aadukalam in 2011, had lived through much worse – “pigeon-chested paavam who looks like a paanwala on probation” went one gem from

Berlinale 2021: Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy- An ear to the door

Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Guzen to sozo) won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 71st Berlinale this year. Over the last year, we've seen an endless barrage of anthologies. Here, Hamaguchi comes up with a three-film anthology that packs magic and coincidence, age and innocence, fellowship and camaraderie to examine tiny nuggets of human behaviour with a canvas larger than what the film seemingly allows. At the centre of the three films are women, followed by conversat
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