My Year of Prakash Raj

Some people spend a year
cooking Julia Child's recipes, or following all of the rules in the Bible, or reading books by people who spent a year doing something. My quest is to watch the 200-some films of South Indian character-actor-extraordinaire, Prakash Raj. (It'll probably take more than a year... and I'll post about some Prakash-less films here as well.)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Round-up for May 2015

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total: 5 (May, 2015)
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total: 234 (as of 05/31/15)
Hai, Thekkekara Superfast, Juniors, Preethi Prema Prenaya, Bimba
Still working through the early 2000s. The find of the month were two great Kannada films directed and written by Kavita Lakesh, that were really interesting "slice of life" films with well-developed female characters.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Round-up for April 2015

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total: 6 (April, 2015)
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total: 229 (as of 04/30/15)
Preminchalani Vundi, Adrustam, Usire, Baava Bamaida, Premakke Sai, Dhaya
Still working my way through turn-of-the millenium films, full of dancing and saxophone-playing psychopaths.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Round-up for March 2015

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total: 9 (March, 2015)
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total: 223 (as of 03/31/15)
Nagavalli, Shart: The Challenge, Pandipadda, Chinna Chinna Kanile,  Tirumala Tirupathi Venkatesa, Sadduku Podam Randi, Alexander, Mommaga, Keralida Kesari
Before the long break I was mostly watching the films in no particular order, as the mood struck me. Now that the end is in sight, I’m trying to be methodical and watch them chronologically. I was so happy that I’d made it through the 90’s, and was done with 2000, when I decided to check up on the Prakash Raj filmography on Wikipedia. To my surprise, another 8-10 films, mostly from 1990-2003 had been added to the list! The good news is, most of the films are also available on youtube channels. So back I went to the slow, rock-up-the-hill task of checking off films, year-by-year.
Themes of the month:
1) This street set in Ramoji Film City.

Tirumala Tirupati Venkatesa

Shart: The Challenge
2) Prakash Raj characters burying murder victims, then frantically digging them up again.

Chinna Chinna Kanilae


Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Heroine's Journey in Pournami

This is something that I started to write three years ago for blog project that Katherine at Totally Filmi organized about women in Indian Film. In honor of International Women's Month, I'm finishing it up and getting it posted for International Women's Day.

The Telugu film industry is the most hero-centric of all of the Indian filmdoms, with its larger than life fighters, acrobatic dancers, and hirsute comedy heroes.  Many of these films trace the journey of the hero, and closely align with Joseph Campbell's Monomyth/Hero's Journey/Hero With a Thousand Faces. The hero is called to adventure, and after first refusing the call, finds a mentor, faces a series of tests, leading an ultimate ordeal, reward, and return to normalcy.

The second or third Telugu film that I ever watched was Pournami (2006, Prabhu Deva, dir.), the intertwined stories of two dancer sisters and a young man caught up in a violent family feud. If Pournami followed the pattern of most Telugu films, the protagonist would be the tall, mustachioed dance instructor/tortured factionalist Shivakesava, played by Prabhas. It would also be logical, and an interesting twist, if the protagonist was the title character, dancer/circus performer Pournami, played by Trisha. (In fact, these two characters get center billing on the DVD cover.)
But I think that there's a compelling case that the true protagonist of the film is Pournami's younger sister, Chandrakala, played by Charme Kaur. This film--directed by Prabhu Deva, no less--is a rich story of a young women's heroic journey, and that's why it remains on my favorite and most rewatched films (even though Prakash Raj isn't even in it.)