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, May 8, 2011

Round-up for April 2011

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (April, 2011): 4
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 4/30/11): 83
I've been having fun watching some oldies and a few unusual films.
Intlo Srimati Veedhilo Kumari, Muthina Haara, Yagnam, Nishkarsha

Date watched: 4/9/2011
Role TypePrakash Comedy (?)
The Story: From the Idlebrain review:
Anjali (Arti Chabria) is a girl ran-away-from-home who is desperate to look out for shelter and job. Gopal (Prabhu Deva) is a budding guitarist who is frenetically looking for a shelter at a cheap rate. Anjali and Gopal finally agree to stay in the same house in the guise of husband and wife because the landlord rents out his cheap apartment only for the married couple.
Sundara Murthy (Prakash Raj) - a village bred industrialist who has a chain of industries named after his wife Anjali (Urvasi) - had to move to city as his city-life-stuck-wife bugs him consistently.
Sukumar (Srikanth) starts an electronics mall after stealing 10 lakhs from his father's locker. Sukumar misunderstands Anjali to be the daughter of Sundara Murthy and offers a petty job in his shop for Anjali.
Gopal and Sukumar are in love with Anjali. Sundara Murthy suspects that his wife Anjali is having an extramarital affair with Sukumar. Wife Anjali suspects that her husband is having an extramarital affair with young Anjali. The climax of the film unwrap the errors that lead to comical situations.
Thoughts on the film: The whole time I was watching the film, I kept thinking of Priyadarshan films, and it turns out that this is a remake of an earlier Telugu film, Rao gari ammai, that was remade by Priyadarshan as Hungama. The story was chock full of mistaken identities, physical comedy, and other goofiness, and the leads (Aarti Chabria, Srikanth, and Prabhu Deva) were appealing and funny. The ending left if up in the air which of the two heroes the heroine would end up with, which was a refreshing change from all of the two heroine movies I seem to have seen lately.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Prakash Raj doesn't often play these "crazy, henpecked husband" roles that are more Brahmanandam's bailiwick. As I go back into the filmography, it is interesting to think about the different paths that Prakash Raj's career could have taken.  I enjoy him in comedy roles, but I'm glad he's not stuck in the comedy b-plots.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: The song Premannadhi, where Urvasi fantastizes about the romance betweenher husband (Prakash Raj)  and the heroine. Go to the 1 minute mark when the action and the gaarish shirts start:

Muthina Haara  (Kannada, 1990 )
Date watched: 4/18/11
Role TypePrakash Cop (Army version)
The Story: Muthina Haara tells the story of Achappa (Vishnuvardhan) and Suhasini (Suhasini).  During World War II, Achappa, a soldier is injured and meets Suhasini, an Army nurse, in the hospital where he is recovering. There's a nice romance, they are separated by war, and finally married. The film follows how Achappa and Suhasini's lives are impacted by India's wars with Pakistan and China.
Thoughts on the film: This was a pretty moving and beautiful film. The review on Wikipedia calls it a "tragedy", but one of the things I loved about it was that even when terrible things happened to Achappa and Suhasini (and there were several of them), they found meaning in their love and in their work with others, and carried on, without being totally consumed  by grief.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: According to the wikipedia entry on Prakash Raj's filmography, this is one of his first films.  I kept my eyes out for him, but it wasn't until the end that I think I recognized his voice as one of Achappa's troops in the Indo-Sino war.  I've watched it a couple of times, and I'm not entirely sure...
I think that's him on the left, it's the best screen cap I could get.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: The one scene that he's in: the Indian troops have escaped from a Chinese prison on skis. Achappa and Mohan (his star military cadet) stay behind to provide cover.  Prakash Raj has a few expository lines, is shot in the shoulder by the Chinese, then skis off.  
I'm fairly certain that's a stunt man, but wouldn't it be great if Prakash Raj was an awesome skier?

Yagnam  (Telugu, 2004)
Date watched: 4/22/11
Role TypePrakash Cop
The Story: Seenu (Gopichand) is an orphan who grows up to become a goonda/enforcer for a factionalist family headed by Reddeppa (Devaraj). When love blooms between Seenu and Reddeppa's daughter Sailaja (Sameera Benarjee), Reddeppa begins to plot various ways for Seenu to be killed.
Thoughts on the film: I'd recently Mahanandi, where Sumanth plays a similar role of the loyal henchman who falls in love with the boss's daughter, and this plot totally works for me. The conflict of the honorable thug caught between his loyalty to his benefactor and his love makes for nice character development, and Gopichand
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Prakash Raj plays the local police inspector. At first, he seems to be lazy and incompetent, but then it becomes clear that this all a distraction as he prepares to take down the feuding families of the area.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: When Sailaja flees from an arranged marriage and goes to the police, 
 Prakash Cop actually enforces her complaint (!),
The way he stands in the doorway.... kind of hot
and then gives an impassioned lecture about how the factionalists have given Rayalaseema a bad name.

Nishkarsha  (Kannada, 1994 )
Date watched: 4/30/11
Role TypePrakash Cop (Army version)
The Story: When a bank robbery in a high rise goes awry, the robbers take hostages. Ananth Nag and Vishnuvardhan play the police commissioner and commando leader charged with freeing the hostages.
Thoughts on the film: It did owe a lot to Die Hard, but I probably enjoyed this more, because the lighting was better. (Yes, I am officially old.) It was a well-paced film, and the performances by the robbers, police and the hostages were all strong. There was only one song that I remember. It was a flashback, and it actually helped build the characterization of one of the key hostages. 
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This was totally a "red shirt" role, but after searching and searching for him in Muthina Haara, I was mostly just pleased that Prakash Raj got as much screen time in this film as he did, and he even had a few lines! His Army commando character, named "Suresh" was often paired with another commando, who was called "Prakash", which caused me a little bit of confusion whenever someone would bark an order at "Prakash", and Prakash would just stand there, 
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: This character got to do lots of things:
Ride in a helicopter
(back, right.)
Put up a temporary wall to help deliver
the baby of a woman in the high-rise
Guard the elevator.
Hoist two people on his shoulders.
Die a heroic death, and be mourned by the hero.


  1. I agree--I've been really pleasantly surprised at by a lot of these early films that I would not have watched if they weren't part of this "project."

  2. Goes Double for me!