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, December 19, 2010

Round-up for March 2010

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (March, 2010): 3
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 3/31/10): 21


This month was a good mix of the iconic role "types": Dad, Bad, and Cop

Date watched: 3/4/10
Role TypePrakash Dad
The story: Village girl Geeta (Tamannah) comes to Hyderabad to study, where she meets her cousin's Casanova-esque friend Siddharth (Siddharth).  They fall in love, but her father (Nasser) will agree to the marriage only if Siddharth can reunite his own estranged parents Prakash (Prakash Raj) anRajyalakshmi (Ramya Krishna.)
Movie Rating: 3.75/5  This is a pretty straight romance, but it presented that story particularly well, and added some nice touches.  Plenty of films do the plot of "I hate you!/I love you!", but this film did a nice job of showing how Geeta's feelings for Siddharth change as she gets to see him in different situations, and how Siddharth recognizes his feelings.  I wish that they'd had the same level of nuance with the parents' reconciliation--in particular, the mother. She was pretty antagonistic to the father until the end, and you didn't have the same sense of her softening towards him or the small scenes of her changing her mind.  



(I did like  the scene when she calls the son by his father's name.  However, since I've accidentally called family member's by dog's names, I wasn't as sold as Siddharth that this was a big sign of her underlying feelings, as much as normal forgetfulness.)
Other things I liked:
-the core group of friends, and how they interacted with one another.
-the jazzy score was nice, and complemented the songs pretty well.
-the shots of people watching older movies in the background. Since I watched this in April, I've seen Geetanjali, and I was able to appreciate the references to it. (If anyone can point me in the direction of the Pawan Kalyan movie that they were watching at another point, it would be much appreciated.)


I have mixed feelings about films where the character names are the same as the stars. I can see that there's maybe a little bit of marketing in it, there's a bit of humor, and those names are often as good as any other names for the characters.  On the other hand, I'm not sure it adds anything, and I feel like it takes you out of the film a bit by reinforcing that you are watching "stars" rather than characters.

Prakash Raj Rating: 4/5 This role is essentially the cosmopolitan, sophisticated father from Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana, but this film adds a rich backstory and a whole truckload of interesting, nuanced scenes.  I appreciated that the storytelling wasn't rushed, and the scenes between Prakash and Siddharth and lots of breathing room, which allowed for more realistic reactions and for emotion to build more organically. These two actors have great chemistry, whether it's comedic scenes or the emotional ones. Of the former, I especially loved the dinner where Sidd is trying to convince his father to try the eggplant cooked by his mother.  It quickly turns into a competition of exaggerated enjoyment of their meals. (Also, all of the recurring eggplant scenes totally made me crave eggplant.)

Favorite Prakash Scenes:Sidd finds out that his father is going to a restaurant for business lunch, he has Geeta take his mother to lunch there, in the hope that seeing each other kindle their romance. I like the way that Prakash keeps getting distracted and tries to steal glances at Rajyalakshmi. Her glares are kind of funny in this scene (again, I just wish that there had been a little bit more to her than the glares.)




There's a pair of scenes where Prakash Raj is fantastic as he reacts to Siddharth.  In the first scene, Sidd has fought with Geeta and is feeling despondent, his father offers him a drink (which turns into 3-4), and Sidd pours out his heart.  You get the sense that Prakash is listening, and trying to draw out responses from Sidd, and I love that there's space for the characters to pause and organically react in the scene.
The next scene is where Prakash drives Sidd to Geeta's house so he can apologize.
 It's a pretty sweet, sappy romantic moment, and the scene cuts between Sidd silently declaring his apology to the shots of Prakash watching him the car.  What's great is that Prakash's reactions to it both temper the sappiness, but heighten the emotion of the scene. His reaction to Sidd changing his name is funny, but in a nice, understated way. (Always a treat to see understated comedy in Telugu films!)



And a few other fun pictures:
"Wow, I can't believe it's taken Liz seven months to do a blog post about KIKK!"




Arjun (Telugu, 2004)
Date watched: 3/12/10
Role TypePrakash Bad
The story: Arjun (Mahesh Babu) rescues his twin sister Meenakshi (Keerthi Reddy) from her murderous in-laws Bala Nayagar (Prakash Raj) and Andal (Saritha) and as in a very underdeveloped side plot, falls in love with Roopa (Shriya)
Movie Rating: 3.25/5  Overall a good revenge-justice flick.  Things I noticed:
-The early family scenes did a nice job of setting up the relationship between Arjun and Meenakshi.  
-The Meenakshi
-I liked the way they framed the film with the big fight in the rain--it started off the film, then was there at the interval, and wrapped things up at the end. Meenakshi temple set is really amazing, liked the framing of the ultimate fight in the rain, how it starts the film, then at the interval.  
-I laughed out loud in the scene when the kid comes in and proposes marriage to Roopa's little sister.
-Fights were great, especially the chase scene with the cart, which was mostly goofy, but still fun.

Prakash Raj Rating: 4.5/5  Prakash Raj and Saritha were a scenery-chewing delight as the in-laws bent on murdering Meenakshi and Arjun. I liked that there was always a sense of real menace, that they might actually hurt Meenakshi.  It was loads of fun to see two archetypically evil characters playing off of each other. Usually the "Prakash Bads" are alone at the top, with no true partners in their villainy.  It was sort of sweet (in a twisted way) to see the pairing as the two plotted evildoing.
Favorite Prakash Scenes:  There are several scenes where they sort of play on "normal" scenes of marital affection and bickering, but played out by murderous baddies.

After Andal pushes the Police Commissioner off of the roof, Bala declares his love:
I also love this scene, where they are driving home in the car, it's sort of a standard married couple talking and arguing in the car, but they are debating how to kill their daughter-in-law and her brother.

There's a humorous moment when Bala electrocutes himself instead of his intended victim:

And the epic final fight scene:



Nijam (Telugu, 2003)
Date watched: 3/20/10
Role TypePrakash Cop
The story: Seetaram (Mahesh Babu) is a shy, wimpy guy who is terrified by the amorous advances of his neighbor Janki (Rakshita.) When his fireman father is killed by an evil mafia don (Gopichand), Seetaram's mother Talluri Rameswari) trains him to be a killing machine. Trying to sort it all out is CBI Officer (Prakash Raj.)
Movie Rating: 3/5 This is up there as one of the bloodiest Telugu movies I've seen.  I liked it, but it could have lost 20-30 minutes in the first half. I liked that Janki was so spunky and the scenes where she tormented the prudish Seetaram were hilarious. Seetaram's transformation from timid mouse to vengeful tiger was entertaining. The highlights of the film were the dueling crazy characters of Gopichand's villain and Seetaram's vengeance-obsessed mother.
Prakash Raj Rating: 3/5 In this one, he's playing the "cop trying to track down the hero, who seems bumbling, but is actually really smart, and lets the hero off the hook at the end", a character-type also found in Athadu, Anniyan and Tagore.  He has lots of fun scenes when he's connecting the dots and trying to track down the killers.

He's also not above using some "enhanced interrogation" techniques:

Favorite Prakash Scenes:  At one point, the officer is putting it all together, and has figured out the pattern of who the killers (Seetaram and his mother) are targeting.


I love his gleeful delivery of the line "They are on a killing spree!!"" (Which sadly, they translated as something completely different in the subtitles.)


In the final scene, he arrives just after the bad guys have been served by the bloody justice of Mahesh Babu (as if there was any doubt). The police officer does some speechifying, then sets things up to look as if he had killed Gopichand and company in self-defense, including a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

2 comments:

  1. Oh YAY!!! Almost a whole post about KIKK! I love that movie, and Prakash Dad in it :) He's such a perfect dad (the kind that I would keep my girlfriends away from :P)!

    I still have to get to Arjun... sigh...

    But anyway, actually writing to say that I love this new feature: Favourite PR Scene! From now on you have to do it on every post! :)

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  2. So glad you like the "Favorite PR scene"--I realize I was sort of doing that in the write-ups, so I decided to make it a regular feature.

    Ah, KIKK. I like Prakash Raj almost as much as I love eggplant, so the two together in one place is almost more than I can take.

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