Dr Arun Dravid and Aditya Modak in ‘The Disciple’

Netflix started streaming Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple from end April 2021. The film won the Best Screenplay award and the FIPRESCI International Critics prize at the Venice Film Festival. Tamhane’s first film Court (2014) too won an award at Venice — the Best Film in the Horizons category. Court arguably stands out as the best Indian film of the last decade. From the Kafkaesque trial of a Dalit activist in the Mumbai Sessions court in this debut film, Tamhane moves to the Marathi Brahmin subculture of Khayal music in Mumbai.

Synopsis

Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak), a 24-year-old vocalist, was initiated…


Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman in ‘Mank’

The Netflix film Mank (2020) directed by David Fincher is of particular interest to film buffs, since it revolves around the writing of the script of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane by Herman J. Mankiewicz. As much as the meaning of “rosebud” was a mystery — albeit a bit of a gimmick — that the reporter Jerry Thompson set out to unravel in that Orson Welles film, the question on the authorship of the screenplay for it too was turned into a mystery of sorts. Although Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles, jointly credited in the film — were conferred…


Ananya Kasaravalli’s 2016 film ‘Harikatha Prasanga’ (Chronicles of Hari)

Shrunga Vasudevan in ‘Harikatha Prasanga’

Looking back at the Indian art films one has seen in the past five years, Ananya Kasaravalli’s Kannada language film Harikatha Prasanga (2016) is among the few that stand out. This movie is relatively less known hence the need for looking at it in some detail. It is set in the backdrop of Yakshagana, the traditional theater form of the Indian state of Karnataka. In Yakshagana, stories from epics or ancient texts (puranas) are performed by a dance and dialogue group to the accompaniment of background music. …


‘Leaving Afghanistan’

Afghanistan is currently in focus now that US troops are on the process of withdrawal from there, ending the 18-year war. Pavel Lungin’s Russian film Leaving Afghanistan (2019) is a timely look at the way the Soviets freed itself from the Afghan quagmire in 1989. Lungin won the Best Director award at Cannes for his path breaking film, Taxi Blues (1990). Pyotr Mamonov, the Russian rock musician and songwriter, played the lead role in this film. Lungin is known for two more films which too had Mamonov as the lead: The Island (2006) was perhaps indicative of the resurgent religiosity…


An Introduction to the Films in the Andrei Tarkovsky Retrospective at the Bengaluru International Film Festival BIFFES 2020

Andrei Tarkovsky

The legendary Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky’s cinema may appear elusive even to those who have some exposure to world cinema. The following tribute to Tarkovsky by another master filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, helps to understand what Tarkovsky attempted and points to Tarkovsky’s pre-eminence: “My discovery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease. I felt encountered and stimulated…


Visual & Olfactory Rendering of Class Structure in Bong Joon-ho’s Korean film ‘Parasite’ (2019)

Choi Woo-shik, Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin & Park So-dam in ‘Parasite’

Bong Joon-ho is known among film buffs for a couple of excellent films he made: Memories of Murder (2003) and Mother (2009). The film, Memories of Murder, was based on the true story of serial murders. It depicted police brutality and incompetence during the hunt for the mysterious killer. Mother (2009) was a disturbing film about a widow excessively protective of her son afflicted with intellectual disability. Parasite, Bong’s recent offering, has bagged a number of awards including the Cannes Palme d’Or and four Oscars — one of them, the Best Picture, given for the first time to a non-English…


The Azerbaijani director Ilgar Najaf’s Pomegranate Orchard (2017) was one of the best films at IFFI 2017, Goa and BIFFES 2018, Bengaluru. It was inspired by Anton Chekhov’s play “The Cherry Orchard”. Najaf’s 2011 film Buta is more than just a charming film. Asif Rustamov’s Down the River (2014) is impressive for a film which hasn’t won any award in a film festival. A common theme emerges when these three films are seen together.

Rafig Guliyev in ‘Buta’

Buta (2011)

The first film of Ilgar Najaf, Buta, won the Best Children’s Film Award at Asia Pacific screen Awards. It opens with the shots of…


A Review of the HBO documentary by Alex Gibney, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019) on Elizabeth Holmes and her now defunct visionary startup, Theranos

Elizabeth Holmes

There is an iconic image of Elizabeth Holmes that keeps recurring in The Inventor… Clad in black turtleneck she holds between her fingers the ‘nanotainer’, the small capsule-like container with just a few drops of blood. She stares at the camera reminiscent of the image of her idol Steve Jobs holding the iPhone. It eloquently conveys the myth of Theranos as the hottest startup founded by the next Steve Jobs.


A Review of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Turkish film ‘The Wild Pear Tree’ (2018)

Aydin Doğu Demirkol & Hazar Ergüçlü in ‘The Wild Pear Tree’

For a typical youngster, returning to his hometown after graduation is the time when he faces the reality. He finds that his ambitions are not all that easy to achieve especially if it is of the creative kind. Unlike in a city, he doesn’t even have anybody to share his interest so he ends up a loner. The girl for whom he had a fancy in school may prefer to marry into wealth. There is also the conflict with his father who may influence him on his…


Lee Chang-dong’s Korean Film ‘Burning’ (2018) Based on a Story by Haruki Murakami

Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo & Steven Yeun in ‘Burning’

Lee Chang-dong’s Burning is one of the best films of 2018. It won the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes but didn’t get nominated for Oscar 2019. Lee has already established himself as one of the leading filmmakers in world cinema today with outstanding films such as Oasis (2002), Secret Sunshine (2007) and Poetry (2010) in his oeuvre. Burning is a thriller based on the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s mysterious short story ‘Barn Burning’, a title drawn from a different story by William Faulkner. The first-person narrator of Murakami’s tale is obsessed with the shocking revelation, of burning other people’s barns, made…

Babu Subramanian

Film Critic — Co-founded ‘Deep Focus’ a Cinema Quarterly https://medium.com/@400films https://medium.com/@thirainaanooru

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