Padmaavat (2018) Review Published at Asian Movie Pulse

A lot has been made about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s adaptation of Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem “Padmavat” (1540). Even before its release, the film had been mired in controversy due to rumors regarding tampering with Rajput (an Indian community historically known for their valor and honor) history and a prominent figure, Rani Padmini, in their lore. From vandalism on set and threats to the actors and Bhansali himself by right-wing groups to the eventual delay in its release (it was supposed to release on December 1, 2017), “Padmaavat” has been through a lot of trouble (it even lost the ‘i’ from its title). All of this trouble with an extremist right-wing group gave an impression that probably the film could build a counter-narrative against the glorification of ‘jauhar’ (self-immolation Rajput women used to perform in order to save their honor from victorious enemies) in Rajput lore. But alas! It was too much to expect from Bhansali. [Read the full article here]

‘Wet Woman in the Wind’ – a raunchy tale of the battle of the sexes filled with visual wit

 

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image via justwatch.com

Wet Woman in the Wind is one of the five films released under the Roman Porno reboot project by Nikkatsu. To anyone aware of Japan’s oldest film studio Nikkatsu, the name Roman Porno is likely to ring a bell. Roman Porno, a film series devoted to the showcase of an abundance of sex and nudity in films ranging across multiple genres, is accredited to have revived Nikkatsu’s market share, which had suffered a considerable drop with the advent of television. Established in 1971, the films under the label were essentially softcore porn with better production value than a pornographic film and considerable artistic merit; a lot of these films were critically acclaimed.

 

The makers of the reboot films stick to the sex and nudity clause – Akihiko Shiota (Wet Woman in the Wind) even goes beyond the call of duty and infuses the last half of the film with more sex than a pornographic film – while giving them their desired artistic touches.

Wet Woman in the Wind is one of the best entries in the reboot project. On the surface, it is a breezy sex comedy with lots of sex and as much humour. but under it runs a psychological tension of one-upmanship between the representatives of both the sexes. To put it in other words, the film puts the sex in the battle of the sexes and takes the battle part quite literally as naked bodies indulge in one amusing coitus after another.

Kosuke (Tasuku Nagaoka) is a Tokyo playwright who is taking a break from the world of art and from ‘women’. He puts up a ramshackle camp in the woods and spends his time scavenging abandoned furniture and other domestic articles and brewing himself a cup of coffee. But this apparent idyllic existence comes to end when Shiori (a brilliant Yuki Mamiya) comes literally crashing into his life. Shiori, who has a hyperactive sex life, marks Kosuke as her next target in a rather usual Roman Porno and general movie tradition playing a sex-crazed vixen out to lure the man out of his disciplined existence. However, as the movie progresses and as Shiori manages to break through Kosuke’s guard bit by bit, we see Kosuke’s past catching up with him and undoing his pretenses.

Even before Kosuke’s guard is down we see a glimpse of his past ways with women when he tries to tame Shiori with his “intellectual superiority”. In a later moment in the movie, his old colleague arrives with her secretary and a troupe of male performers dressed identically as Kosuke. The series of orgies that follows humorously lays bare social hierarchy’s role in something as intimate and organic as sex. At the top of this hierarchy is a man, here Kosuke. Shiori is a rogue element, she does not acknowledge this hierarchy. For her, in a coupling, having the upper hand is as important as an orgasm. She brings down this hierarchy by literally bringing down the house and emerging on top, from the debris after the battle.

There is no doubt that the sex scenes are mostly for male gratification (the movie is a homage to older Roman Porno canon), however, by giving Shiori the agency and exaggerating the mostly hetero sex scenes and making the only lesbian sex scene the most erotic, Shiota subverts and takes a dig at the Roman Porno tradition.

Theeran Adhigaram Ondru – Review

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‘Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru’ is the best police procedural action thriller from India that I have seen, or maybe I have not been looking in the right places. Bollywood seems to have forgotten how to make one (I remember Sarfarosh). Although this movie wouldn’t give you a hardcore police procedural thriller like ‘Zodiac’, it squeezes in just the right dose of it to keep you engaged, I mean how many films can compare to Zodiac’s brilliance.

The movie has all you have come to expect from ‘South Indian’ movies (a generalisation of cinema – by people in mostly Hindi speaking regions – that is not Bollywood and is much richer than the latter) of the dubbed versions of which are frequently shown on Set Max and the likes. However, it cuts on the over the top fight scenes (there are still hints in it), gives you characters that are not caricatures, doesn’t treat the audience as children, and hence is smart (not for the sake of being smart), gives a menacing villain although underdeveloped, great performance from the lead, and edge of the seat thrill.

It could have done a bit more by offering a good character study of the lead, given the time spent on his domestic life apart from his life as a police officer. I wish they would stop casting actors from North India to play ‘heroines’, I mean are there not enough women in the southern part of India? And only if the foot chase scenes were good… Nobody is asking for an ‘Apocalypto’, but a bit more effort in editing and from actors would surely do wonders.

Having said all that the movie is still very good. Recommended viewing.

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan Review

Tamil filmmaker, R S Prasanna, heads to B-town with his debut Hindi feature Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, which is a remake of Prasanna’s 2013 Tamil movie Kalyana Samayal Sadhan. A rom-com at heart, the movie deals with the issue of erectile dysfunction, a growing concern among the young office-going population in urban centres.

I went into the theatre with very little expectation and with a very basic idea (as much I as could glean from the trailers) about the movie. And I am glad to say it didn’t disappoint. In fact, even if I had gone with a bit of expectation, given the effective pairing of Ayushmannn Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar (Dum Laga Ke Haisha) and the fact that it has been produced by Anand L Rai, there is not a lot to be disappointed with in the movie.

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan tells the story of Mudit (Khurrana), who falls for Sugandha (Pednekar) and is soon (in a matter of a few funny scenes and probably a song) engaged to her. There is not much in way of complication for the two (unless you count Sugandha’s “na-mein-haan” or whatever logic) until one night in the absence of Sugandha’s family, they discover in the heat of a novice sexual encounter that nothing else apart from awkwardness rises. What follows is Mudit and Sugandha’s humorous yet determined attempt at getting married despite external and internal impediments.

Most of the humour in the movie comes from the fact that it is strangely nostalgic in the use of innuendos, at least in spirit (remember flowers making out?). While the innuendos are not that shy, they do not reach the vulgarity of Pahlaj Nihalani’s “Khada hai” song. The innuendos range from giggle-evoking to the absurd AIBish manhood analogies. Besides it also offers humour on the meta level – Vicky Donor. But what makes the film really worthy of a watch is its criticism of how society sees masculinity. And although the movie suffers from a lackluster final act, it is nevertheless highly entertaining, thanks to strong performances from the leads and the supporting cast and humour (bodering on the absurd and at times threatening to throw it off the rails), which mostly works in its favour.