Samantha Kannan joined me for a discussion about her new book, A New Journey, just released July 1, 2020. We also fangirl together over our love of Nivin Pauly playing Giri in one of my all time favorite films, Ohm Shanthi Oshaana.
Samantha’s book is a fictionalized account of the few months she spent teaching at a village school in Kerala, India. Samantha sent me an advance copy, and I found the book delightful. Due to COVID-19, my own trip to Kerala this fall has been delayed at least a year. This book was the closest thing to actually visiting. She vividly describes the hospitality of the people, the food and all her adventures. The principal of the school wrote the foreword for the book. Samantha has reasonably priced the book on Amazon in the US and in India.
We talked just before the book was published, and in its first days it became a best seller in travel books on Amazon!
I hope you enjoy our discussion of A New Journey and our favorite Ohm Shanthi Oshaana!
Gulabo Sitabo was one of the first Indian film releases straight to streaming services, skipping theaters due to COVID-19. With the cast of Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan, plus the behind the camera team of writer Juhi Chaturvedi & director Shoojit Sircar, my expectations were high. I was sorely disappointed in this film. The narrative was just not compelling enough to sustain for the length of the movie. Gulabo Sitabo is playing on Amazon Prime.
Streaming service Simply South has a #ThrowbackThursday series, and they re-released the classic Rajinikanth 1978 film Mullum Malaram (The Thorn & the Flower) in a crisp newly mastered print with new subtitles by rekhs. It was glorious! I loved seeing Rajinikanth the master actor, without all the gestures and schtick. Some of these old films are on Youtube, but frequently the songs are not subbed. I could fully appreciate the beauty of the poetry of the lyrics with rekhs’s new subtitles.
Kandukondain Kandukondain (I Have Found It, I Have Found It) is one of my all time favorite Tamil films. This adaptation of Sense & Sensibility came out in 2000, and has an amazing cast: Ajith, Tabu, Aishwarya Rai, Mammootty and Abbas. The music by A. R. Rahman is just amazing. When I was listening to one of the songs, I thought, I just want to watch this whole movie again, and I invited Alisa to watch this film and discuss it with me. She loved it so much, that she watched it three times in one week! I also rewatched the 1995 Emma Thompson Ang Lee Sense & Sensibility so I would have that fresh in my mind for comparison. Alisa and I agreed that while the Emma Thompson film is held up as the gold standard adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Kandukondain Kandukondain improves on it in several ways. I had such a good time discussing this wonderful film with Alisa Rivera (@BollywoodNewbie).
Ponmagal Vandhal is a new Tamil film starring Jyothika that was released directly on the OTT platform Amazon Prime Video. Rekhs provided the subtitles for this courtroom drama, but inexplicably Amazon altered them, adding random punctuation. It’s still great to have new content since movie theaters remain closed, and probably will be for some time. While Ponmagal Vandhal is flawed, Jyothika gives a wonderful performance. Definitely worth a watch!
I finally caught up with the 2019 Tamil film Thambi (younger brother) starring Karthi and Jyothika. This film is directed by Jeethu Joseph, the director of the Malayalam film Drishyam, and has some similar themes of a family with secrets.
I am so grateful I started watching Malayalam cinema a few years ago, and stumbled into the films of Mohanlal. What a distinguished career for one of the world’s finest actors. I have only seen a small fraction of his over 300 films. I thought I’d make a compilation of those reviews here to celebrate Lalettan on this milestone 60th birthday.
Alisa Rivera, @BollywoodNewbie on Twitter, asked me to suggest a South Indian film we could both watch and discuss. She’s been watching Hindi films for the last couple of years, and has just started to watch Malayalam films. She had not seen any other Telugu films other than Baahubali, and did not know Mahesh Babu. 1: Nenokkadine was my first Mahesh film, and I’d been meaning to watch it again. I’m not sure it was the best one to recommend as Alisa’s first Mahesh film, but she left wanting to see more of his films. We also talk about the deaths of Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor as we recorded this right after their deaths.
Many viewers had recommended the 2020 Kannada film Dia to me. It’s now streaming on Amazon Prime, and I’m so glad I watched it. K S Ashoka has a well crafted script, about introverted Dia. I wasn’t expecting the boy she falls for in the first half hour to NOT be the love of her life! This film was unique and really different with a shocking ending. If you’re looking for something completely light for quarantine viewing, this may not be for you, but if you want to see an offbeat romance, I highly recommend Dia.