26 Dec 2017

The BoomBox Best South Indian Movies 2017

The three movies picked here for the BoomBox Best South Indian Movies 2017 are not without their faults and contradictions. But there is so much more compelling and engaging in comparison in all these films that they deserved making this blog post. The list is not comprehensive and compiled from a selection of movies I managed to catch this year. Any recommendations and suggestions are welcome.


A modern mad hash, drug-swimming, alcohol-sinking interpretation of Devdas has a trippy, self-destructive young doctor at the helm. At several places during the film's 3-hour running time, I wished Arjun Reddy would just die. That is the degree of pain and suffering he puts himself through, he is also extremely unlikeable, heinous and rude.

Deverakonda Vijay Sai rocks as the volcanic lead character. The dangers of the film's influence on the young audience is justified to a large degree. Aptly rated "A", Sandeep Reddy Vanga's Arjun Reddy is a throbbing story of over-indulgence and downfall, strangely very watchable.  


One sleepy upper-middle-class Malayalee family is hit by a thunderstorm. The mother is diagnosed with second stage cancer. The awkward bunch of the husband, sons, daughter and related family members stumble at this news.

The genius of it - the movie unexpectedly pitches itself as a family and social comedy, the results are refreshingly hilarious. Althaf Salim's adroit writing and direction, great turns by the entire ensemble cast, including Nivin Pauly, Lal, and Shanti Krishna make this a creative high.

Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela (An intermission in the land of crabs) was a big fun surprise to catch at the theaters this year. 


H. Vinoth's action drama is inspired by the real-life run of brutal robberies and killings that led to the police undertaking "Operation Bawaria" to nail the culprits. 

The film initially threatens to end up in "one invincible man bashing up ugly, dark, screaming villains" territory, apart from enforcing sugar candy romantic cliches. When police officer Theeran single-handedly fights off an entire village, it starts to become unconvincing, but only for some moments.     

The second half more than makes up for the diversions. We get a nail-biting story with minimum lather, relentless pace and minus any superhero decoration. Karthi is rock-solid as the lead character. Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru is a superb high-quality entertainer despite the length, once it sheds the mass audience-appeasing traits.    

25 Dec 2017

The BoomBox Best Hollywood/International Movies 2017

The Boombox Best Hollywood/International Movies 2017 is not a comprehensive list. It is a selection from what I watched this year at the theaters.

Several US movies didn't make/are yet to make it to Indian theatres. As has been the case, many Oscar-winning movies release the forthcoming year, with posters proclaiming the Oscar nominations or wins. International movies apart from Hollywood releases rarely reach the big screens in my city.

The Hollywood year 2017 was a bombardment of popular superhero genre movies and some good drama. Despite the fading magic of wannabe blockbusters, there were some unforgettable movie theatre moments to relish.

The breathless gasp of the car chase and train collision in Logan, a refreshing, bumbling, awkward, error-prone teenage superhero in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the heart-stopping air fight in the supremely understated Dunkirk...

Traveling down to Mumbai to catch the last day, last show of Loving Vincent is my enduring memory of the magic of movies this year. Here are my picks:       

Christopher Nolan cuts through war movie tradition, sacrificing scale and epicness for the minor and microscopic details. In the confines of a sharply edited running time, he instead tells us why making it out alive is the biggest victory of all.

Reworking the pivotal World War II incident, Nolan revisits his famous non-linear narrative (best used in Memento) to cover a time-is-running-out war premise as fought over land, sea, and air. Tense and taut, the bloodlessness rankles, but the rest is masterful clever cinema.      

A dying superhero with waning powers has a final task to accomplish in an apocalyptic world. A road movie, a brutal, gruesome action thriller, Logan connects because of its identifiable human elements of mortality, companionship, imminent danger, death, loss of innocence and how the old make way to the new.

James Mangold gets Hugh Jackman to deliver his best and (poignantly) last performance as Wolverine. A feast to watch at theaters. No other superhero movie rivaled the Logan impact this year. Logan is up there in its populated genre if notches below The Dark Knight (2008).          

That Loving Vincent is the world's first completely oil-painted movie, four years in the making, combining 65000 oil-painted frames, 853 oil paintings, made by 125 artists, is a highly commendable achievement. The important thing was, will it work cohesively as a story? 

Retelling the final days of legendary painter Vincent van Gogh's life as a possible murder mystery, Loving Vincent is a gorgeous, heart-bleeding tribute to art, human fragility, and tragic genius. 

Loving Vincent does a rare thing, it unveils the passion, madness and to an extent, the soul of van Gogh. A sweet sadness and vindication linger at the end credits.

Art lovers, creative people, and artists will make a better connection. Mesmerizing on 70mm. Yes, Loving Vincent is our Best Boombox Hollywood/International Movie 2017

22 Dec 2017

The BoomBox Best Hindi / Bollywood Movies 2017

It has easily been the most prolific and fun year at the movies for me. I have watched more movies as the first day, first show audience this chalchitra season than ever. It has been a mixed bag of experiences, but all very enjoyable.

Catching the Hindi-dubbed version of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion in a single theatre on its opening day was an exhilarating experience, as was admittedly laughing out to the juvenile yet hilarious jokes from Golmaal Again. The cleverly written romcom Bareilly Ki Barfi also lit up my day, despite its mitigated finale.

Newton burst in with a brave new air on its wry take on Indian democracy, while the stalled release of Padmavati signaled the harrowing rise of mob fury and an ominous signal to the continuous curtailing of the basic right to freedom of expression in India.

Irrespective of their box office performances, and solely based on what I saw at the theatres this year, here's my pick of the best Hindi/Bollywood films of 2017.

Konkana Sen Sharma's directorial debut is a slow burner of a statement that is not as much about a death, but more on fragility, isolation, bullying and its tragic consequences. Vikram Massey nails it as the main protagonist, along with an impressive ensemble cast. Haunting, atmospheric, heart-breaking and unforgettable.

Alankrita Shrivastava's daring humorous take on four Indian women is our Best BoomBox Hindi Movie 2017.

An elderly widow secretly vents out her sexual longing for a young swimming instructor, a stiffened collegian uses the burqa to live an exciting double life, a wife is crushed under her husband's sexual authority, a lover struggles to handle her restless sexuality. Themes that popular Hindi seldom visits, depicted here with laugh-out-loud cheekiness and a groovy pulp fiction narrative. Featuring Ratna Pathak Shah in the role of her lifetime. We don't need more films like Lipstick Under My Burkha to be hindered for its subject matter. Let the audience decide.  

Oscar or no Oscar, Amit V Masurkar's neat take on Indian elections and an often ignored reality check on democracy is a winner for its balance and the uneasy confrontation between privileged and downtrodden India.

It's an old fable: One man wants to do his duty while the rest of the world gripes at him for doing so. Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi show why they are the best in the business. Another admirable rebellion of a movie.

Actor/Director Rahul Bose's snitches a little surprise in this spirited real-life take on the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. At once endearing with its earthy cast, Bose keeps it simple and charming, with none of Bollywood's overplay, self-indulgence and vanity. He ends with a little gem on childhood, rural India, sheer courage and a love for adventure and mountains. The Best BoomBox Standout Hindi Movie 2017.

A clean, humorous movie on erectile dysfunction? Tea dunked biscuit that hints to a condition? RS Prasanna's superior remake of his own Tamil venture Kalyana Samayal Saadham (2013) sparks in his skillful audience-pruned storytelling and Hitesh Kewalya's writing.

A damn funny movie, also featuring the Bollywood mother of the year Seema Pahwa and an impressive Bhoomi Pednekar in a ROFL Arabian Nights allegory.

Lights Out! Projector! Popcorn! Munch, Munch!
Considering largely dismal and dwindling numbers at the theatres, except for "event" movies, Bollywood would do well to encourage more single-screen theatres and cheaper, accessible tickets for the mass audience to come enjoy the movies again, away from their unlimited Internet plans, WhatsApp groups, choking traffic and alternate entertainment options.

Here's wishing a splendid movie experience in 2018. Pass the popcorn please and don't charge Rs 500 for one, just because it's harder to rob us at gunpoint, dear multiplex owners!