I really enjoyed Love Mocktail, a romantic Kannada film starring and directed by Krishna. A mocktail is a drink with a mix of juices — and this is a tale of the different loves of Krishna’s character. It’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. A sequel is already being discussed, which is what I said I wanted at the end of my video review.
Dia – A Unique Romance Film
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.
KGF – New Kannada Film Teaser
My Youtube channel commenters were clammering for me to react to this new teaser trailer. This film KGF, which may stand for Kolar Gold Fields, seems to be a period (80’s) piece. The film is going to be released in two parts, and released in five languages. The film is written and directed by Prashanth Neel and produced by Vijay Kiragandur under the banner Hombale films. It stars Yash and Srinidhi Ramesh Shetty in the lead roles.
It’s really interesting how this teaser shows both some making of clips of scenes that may not be trailer ready, and then a short teaser trailer featuring the star Yash.
I’m super impressed by what I’ve seen so far, and I hope this film does come to Chicago. The full trailer is due out in February.
U Turn – Shraddha Srinath and Roger Narayan shine in Pawan Kumar’s Kannada supernatural thriller
U Turn is a Kannada language supernatural suspense thriller written and directed by Pawan Kumar. Pawan Kumar blew me away with his amazing low budget Kannada film Lucia. Lucia had twist after twist and I never knew what was going to happen next.
U Turn starts upside down. Literally. We see the divider of a road, and the camera travels along it, but upside down as the opening credits roll. Then the camera does a u-turn and continues to travel the urban highway. Throughout the film there are ‘U’s sprinkled around, both in the visual framing of shots, and horseshoe knockers on doors, etc.
Shraddha Srinath, the star of the film, is introduced to us in a really clever way. Rachana (Srinath) is riding in a rickshaw with her mother, and through their arguing we learn that she’s single, that her mother is pressuring her to marry, that her family is going away on a trip, and thus she will be alone. It’s a really clever bit of writing. She draws the rickshaw driver into the argument, showing us a bit of her moxie and personality.
Rachana is an intern reporter at The Indian Express. She’s working on a story about people who make illegal u-turns on the flyover highway, moving the divider bricks out of the way, but not returning them after they make the turn. She has a homeless guy at the intersection writing down their license plate numbers. She goes to interview one of the drivers but he doesn’t answer the door.
Later that night after she is dropped off from her first date with the crime reporter, Aditya (Dilip Raj), the police come and arrest her.
The police interrogate her as she had written her name in the visitor book, and is the last person to visit a man, found hung in his apartment. They don’t believe her at first that she is a reporter and working on an investigative story. Finally, the young cop, Nayak, listens and checks out her version of events.
Roger Narayan played Nayak and he was my favorite actor in the whole movie. He was great, and had a lot of subtle reactions. You can tell he has a bit of a crush on Rachana, but he plays someone trying to hold it back, but still let’s you see it.
I admire Pawan Kumar for turning some conventions on their head. Rachana is the active heroine of the script, and later her boyfriend Aditya takes on the ‘damsel in distress’ role, and she tries to save him. Shraddha Srinath did a good job carrying the film, and while he doesn’t have as much screen time, Dilip Raj shone in his supporting role.
I saw U Turn in a theater, and while there were a few jumps that scared me, the film just didn’t have enough suspense or thrills for me. It’s based on a real incident, evidently, but the film did not have the magic of Lucia for me.
Part of the problem was the score. The background music is critical in a suspense film, and this music just did not evoke the creepiness or scariness that it should. The recent low budget Tamil film Pizza had not only music but a soundscape that added greatly to the creepiness.
Don’t believe me what a difference music and soundscape can make? Watch this Scary Mary Poppins trailer with some different music:
U Turn is a good film, but it just wasn’t as scary and creepy as I was hoping it would be, or as mind-bending as Lucia.
Three and a half stars out of five.
My first Kannada Film – the Amazing Lucia! ****1/2 Film review
On my Quora post, over and over again, the Kannada commenters listed Lucia by Pawan Kumar as a recommended film. I watched the trailer here and the film is a total mind f*ck kind of trip. Watch the trailer, and you’ll get a taste of what I mean!
First, the way the film got made is totally interesting on its own It was crowdfunded! One of the production thingies at the beginning is “Audience” films, and then they show a grid of like 100 youtube videos of people holding signs. 110 people contributed to make the film, for like $70,000. It won the audience award at the London Indian film festival, where it premiered, and was short listed for the Oscars film from India.
YES, it’s that good!!
It’s a micro-budget film, but one of those indie feeling films where they were super creative and did a LOT with very little. It would totally fit in at Sundance.
So, what’s it about? Lucia is the name of the Lucid dream drug. The movie starts with policemen investigating why a certain patient is in a coma — and news TV debates whether euthanasia should be allowed.
The movie is very non-linear. We flash from color scenes of Nikki, a “torch-shiner” or usher in a tiny little theater in Bangalore, who lives in a shack with 4 other guys. He’s an insomniac, and a local drug-peddler gives him a sleeping pill, Lucia, that will give him dreams so real, he’ll feel that he lived them. But if he stops taking the pills, the dreams become nightmares.
The dreams are in black and white, and suddenly Nikki is Nikhil, a movie star! It’s like Wizard of Oz in reverse, as all the people in his humble life are in the movie star life, which is black and white. His uncle the little theater owner, is now his trusted manager. The pizza parlor waitress girl he’s crushing on as Nikki, is his item number girl in the movie he’s filming.
Lots of meta commentary on the value of the little tiny one screen theaters. And life as a movie star in India, etc.
The main actor, Sathish Ninasam, who plays Nikki/Nikhil is amazing. He is this humble sweet poor schlub Nikki, who doesn’t even think he deserves a cute pizza parlor girl and then he has this amazing confident movie star air as Nikhil. The main actress who plays the pizza parlor girl and the item number girl, the love interest in both worlds, is pretty good. I especially love her as the spunky pizza parlor girl. She tries to get Nikki to learn English and get a job at a multiplex, which leads to some very humorous scenes.
The film has sweetness, and a very filmi romance while also being a near Matrix level psychological — which-world-is-real kind of sci-fi plot. This is an Indian film where the script is truly king. It is quite the story — certainly not like anything else in Indian film, and yet, with the dual role, so very filmi at the same time!
I now feel like I have to go back and thank each of those people who recommended this on the Quora post. So good and so interesting! I really enjoyed the roller coaster ride. The director’s next film, U-Turn, is evidently about to come out. Lucia got rave tweets from Irrfan Khan and Anurag Kashyap tweeted “My birthday gift to myself would be lucia…”
Highly recommend this quirky strange wonderful Kannada film. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
Why I Love Indian Cinema
A few weeks ago, I answered a question on Quora, “Does anyone besides Indians watch Indian movies?” This post is adapted from the answer I gave. At first I gave a brief answer, but then people commented and wanted to know WHY? Why would a non-Indian love Indian films? Many commenters were at first incredulous, but then thanked me for showing them an outsider’s view of their cinema. As of this writing, the answer has garnered over 170,000 views, and made me a Most Viewed Writer about Bollywood on Quora. (Which still blows my mind.)
Netflix in the US has over 80 Hindi films at anyone time. Because of the kind of films I enjoy, Netflix recommended I watch Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge about 2 years ago. Since I fell in love with Bollywood, I’ve seen over 200 Indian films. I’m lucky that in my area new release films play in a few local theaters. I was able to see Kapoor and Sons just last night and I absolutely loved it.
I’m not the only non-Desi in America to love Bollywood movies, but I wouldn’t say it’s very common.
My father’s church has a monthly movie night, and he asked me to show a Bollywood movie last week. I chose Dil Se, and showed it to 15 people, including my parents, who had never before seen a Bollywood film. They all loved it!
Editing to add my answer from the comments below, WHY I love Indian films:
I also love old Hollywood musicals like Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly films. Hollywood does not make them anymore. I love the singing and the dancing in Indian cinema, but also the earnest love stories are not the kind of films that Hollywood makes either. Rom Coms are becoming rarer and rarer in American films which tend to be more cynical. The emotions in Bollywood films are something that is rare to see in Hollywood or English films. People joke about how much Shahrukh Khan cries in his films, but I really respond to the emotions shown in Indian cinema. Also, the colors on screen! Bhansali’s film Ram-Leela is an example of this.
I listen to Bollywood music all the time, as well.
Indian films just give me things I cannot get from Hollywood or other Western cinema. Plus Shahrukh Khan. I’ve watched 47 of his films alone (which doesn’t count the countless times I’ve watched DDLJ.) 🙂
I do love South Indian films as well, and I have seen a little over 30 South Indian films. I fell in love with Prabhas after watching Baahubali last year (four times in the theater!). I now own many of his Telugu films on DVD.
Recently, I’ve been watching quite a few Malayalam films, especially recent ones with Nivin Pauly and Dulquer Salmaan. I have watched fewer Tamil films, but I asked my neighbor to bring me back some DVD’s from her recent trip to Chennai, and have been working through the dozen films she brought me. Last week, I watched Raja Rani, and liked it.
For those interested, I keep track of all the Bolllywood films I’ve watched on Letterboxd.com, and here’s my list of Regional films I’ve seen, up to 32 now after watching the Malayalam film Classmates last night.
I asked for commenters to recommend their favorite Indian films — and oh boy, did they. I’ve created a Letterboxd list now of all the films recommended there in the comments that I have not already seen. Now up to 372 (!!) films in several Indian languages: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, etc. The question now is will I live long enough to watch even half of them!
My first Bollywood film ever was Lagaan, back almost 15 years ago when it was nominated for the Foreign language Oscar. That was back when you could only rent Netflix movies via DVD in the mail. I then watched Dil Chahta Hai, because that also had Aamir Khan. But it was not so easy back then for a non-Hindi speaker to find out about other Bollywood films. The internet has helped so much, and Netflix’s recommendation engine is the reason I fell in love with Bollywood 2 years ago. DDLJ was recommended to me, then I was able to watch Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi right after that. I texted my Indian next door neighbor for other suggestions, and she loves Hrithik Roshan and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was also streaming on Netflix and I was off to the races with my new obsession.
I have been mentored by two other non-Desi lovers of Bollywood who then suggested many other films for me to try, and in some cases pushed the DVD’s into my hand saying, “YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS!”
Kathy Gibson of AccessBollywood.net and Margaret of DontCallItBollywood
Shout out also to the gang at Bollywhat forum!