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.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Round-up for September 2011

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (September, 2011): 10
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of September 30, 2011): 122
Khadgam, Amudhey, Chokkathangam, Mr. Pefect, Ponnar Shankar, Orange, Duet, Dookudu, Parijatham, Khatarnak
This month I saw films in which Prakash Raj danced, lip-synced to autotune tracks, ate ice cream in a menacing way, and lounged on a the hood of an SUV.


Khadgam (Telugu, 2002)
Date Watched: 9/3/11
Role type: Prakash Pal
The story: Aspirng actor Koti (Ravi Teja), conflicted policeman Radha Krishna (Srikanth) and auto driver amjad (Prakash Raj) cross paths, build friendships, and face the challenge of a terrorist attack.
Thoughts on the film: I enjoyed the interconnected stories. Telugu films are usually so hero-centric, and it was nice to see Ravi Teja in more of a supporting role, and to see equal time given to Prakash Raj's character. The ending was pretty crazy, especially the part where the crowd rushes to the train platform to confront the bomb-wielding terrorists. Shafi (the evil brother in Chatrapathi) was great as Prakash Raj's brother.

Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another nuanced performance, and an interesting arc as he came to  understand his brother's transformation to a terrorist.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: The emotional showdown in the train station:

The dances:



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Amudhey (Tamil, 2005)
Date Watched: 9/7/11
Role type: Prakash Jilted Lover
The story: Two lovers Dinakar (Jai Akash) and Nancy (Madhumati), are sep
arated, try to find happiness with new partners.
Thoughts on the film: There was lots of drama, and then a very sudden, tragic ending (which reminded me a lot of Poi.)
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: There are not as many examples of Prakash Raj playing a) a romantic interest, who is b) nice and not evil. I loved his conversations with his friend as he explains why is is trying to do right by Nancy.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
There's a great scene where Nancy sees a photo of her fiance with a bunch of kids, and becomes suspicious, but he explains it:

Prakash fiance buries his troubles in whiskey and cigarettes:
Even when he leaves, it's to do something good!



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Chokkathangam (Tamil, 2002)
Date Watched: 9/11/11
Role type: Prakash Lover/Brother-in-law
The story:
Muthu (Vijayakanth) dotes on his sister Maragatham (Uma) and his mission is to find a suitable match for her. Sundaram (Prakashraj) is his choice, but the interference of Sundaram's family causes drama for Marathagam, Muthu, and his romantic interest, played by Soundarya.
Thoughts on the film: A pretty standard rural story, featuring the usual case of scheming in-laws
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Two movies in a row with Prakash Raj as a not-sleazy romantic interest!! It wasn't a huge part, but it had a nice trajectory as he learned to trust his wife (through a Vijayakanth-administered beat down) and finally stood up to his family.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:

Big entrance!
Waving a pipe!

Realizing the value of his wife!


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Mr. Perfect (Telugu, 2011)
Date Watched: 9/12/11
Role type: Prakash Dad
The story: Software designer Vicky (Prabhas) comes India to meet his childhood betrothed, Priya (Kajal.) Vicky rejects the engagement, and returns to Australia,where he falls in love with Maggie (Tapsee) and fails to impress Maggie's father (Prakash Raj.)
Thoughts on the film: This was an interesting take on the themes of modern love, and the returning NRI. I liked that Vicky's uncertainty about the engagement was grounded in real issues,  Priya was spunky enough (at least in the first half), but Maggie was mostly a cardboard cut-out of a character.

Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another take on the "rich-businessman" father that Prakash Raj can probably play in his sleep. I hope that he actually got to play a few rounds during the golf-course scenes, and there was some enjoyable golf fashion.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:

Lecturing Prabhas.
Hugging it out with Tapsee.



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Ponnar Shankar (Tamil, 2011)
Date Watched: 9/13/11
Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: The epic story of twin princes Ponnar and Shankar (played by Prasanth) as they are stolen from their parents, rise to heroic greatness, romance princesses, are reunited with their family and reclaim their kingdom.
Thoughts on the film: On a scale of historical epics (1 being Veer and Subhash Chandra Bose and 10 being Urumi), I'd give this a solid 4. The heroics by the princes were fun, and the family drama was great. Special kudos to Kushboo and Sneha for playing strong female characters, but I was less impressed by the models/pageant winners who played the princesses.

Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: I'm not sure if I've seen Prakash Raj in full-on period costume, so that was fun, along with the usual scenery-chewing evil-ness.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
The big, final battle, complete with impressive helmets, clashing swords, and blood spraying in people's faces:


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Orange (Telugu, 2010)
Date Watched: 9/14/11
Role type: Prakash Cop
The story:  Graffiti artist Ram (Ram Charan Teja), is caught defacing his own artwork by an Australian cop (Prakash Raj), and then proceeds to tell the officer all about his love story with Jaanu (Genelia D'Souza.)
Thoughts on the film: I have to admit that other than the scenes with Prakash Raj, the crazy Australian lion, and a few of the dances, I didn't pay much attention to this. The romantic drama between Ram and Jaanu seemed unnecessarily drawn out.

Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He was the most engaging thing in the film. The humor and curiosity of his character was enjoyable (although why he would possibly care Ram's troubles is beyond me.)
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: All three-four of them, because they were the best part of the film.




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Duet (Tamil, 1994)
Date Watched: 9/17/11
Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: Musical brothers Guna (Prabhu) and Siva (Ramesh Aravind) struggle to succeed in the music business. They both fall in love with choreographer Anjali (Meenakshi Sheshadri). Anjali in turn falls in love with the virtuoso saxophone playing of Guna, but mistakes Siva for Guna (this gets sorted out in the end.) Meanwhile, the Anjali's lustful, crazy director (Prakash Raj) is also pursuing her, and won't take no for an answer.

Thoughts on the film: I watched this without subtitles, so I know I missed quite a bit, especially the rivalry between the brothers and the mistaken identities. Prabhu's enthusiastic saxophone playing was good, and I always enjoy "behind-the-scenes" on the movie set.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another, fun, really sleazy villain. I just realized that it's a bit prescient that his character fell in love with a choreographer.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
The first scene where we see how truly psycho he is, when he pretends to hang himself in order to show his love for Anjali:
One of the hero's friends calls the hero to tell him of the deranged director's plans, when he is interrupted by the ice cream eating, gun toting baddie:


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Dookudu (Telugu, 2011)
Date Watched: 9/24/11
Role type: Prakash Dad
The story: Idealistic politician Shankar Narayana (Prakash Raj) strives to help the people, and hopes that his son, Ajay will follow in his footsteps. Shankar Narayana is critically injured, and Ajay (Mahesh Babu) grows up to become a police officer. Ajay falls in love with Prasanthi (Samantha), and uses his wiles to fulfill his father's "dream", and to wreak revenge on his father's enemies (Sonu Sood, Kota Srinivasa Rao, and a host of others.)
Thoughts on the film: The main plotline with Mahesh and Prakash Raj was lots of fun, and I think when I see with subtitles I'll get even more of the film-industry jokes around Brahmanandam's character. The romance was mostly an add-on, although it did provide some fun songs.

Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: There was nice continuity of character in the flashback and present day scenes, and Prakash Raj portrayed the character in a way that enhanced the comic premise, without turning into a caricature.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
The giant gold statue of Shankar Narayana:
This tiny snippet of the wedding song, when we get to see him lip-syncing to an autotuned vocal track:


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Parijatham (Tamil, 2006)
Date Watched: 9/27/11
Role type: Prakash Dad
The story: Seetha (not sure of character's name) moves into her new home, and hires the neighbor's daughter Sumathi (Saranya Bhagyaraj) as her maid. She realized that Sumathi is smart, modest, and actually a middle-class girl whose family has fallen on hard times. Seetha tells Sumathi that she is the perfect bride for Sumathi's son. When Seetha suddenly dies, her husband (Prakash Raj) and son Surendher (Prithviraj) move into the house, and start searching for the un-named prospective bride.
Thoughts on the film: I loved this movie! There's a great long segment where Sumathi narrates a story that she has written to Seetha, and the characters in the story are also played by Saranya and Prithviraj. The lovely, developing relationship between Seetha and Sumathi is paralleled nicely by the relationship between Prakash Raj and Prithviraj.

Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This is the fourth film I've seen where Prakash Raj and Prithviraj play against each other, and it's always a delight. PR's character has a nice balance between being a supportive, loving father and being ambitious and prejudiced, which leads to some interesting external and internal conflict. Also, it tickles me every time Prithviraj calls Prakash Raj "Daddy" in the movie.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: The cute scenes when father and son are talking to the mother on the phone:

In the final scene, when the father realizes the impact of his actions, all of these great emotions play across his face (I couldn't get the sound to upload with the clip, but just watch his face.)




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Khartanak (Telugu, 2006)
Date Watched: 9/30/11
Role type: Prakash Cop
The story: From the idlebrainjeevi review:


The moll in the Don’s gang is foiling the Don’s operations. To find the informer, the don wants to get a man of clean record into the police department who can help him out. The Don zeroes in on Dasu (Ravi Teja) an aimless street-smart and uneducated guy. Since a cop should be educated and Dasu is uneducated, they make him join a school and undergo 10th class all over again. After finishing 10th class, Dasu applies for job in the police and gets into the force as a traffic cop. Then he is transferred to the crime branch because of his heroics. The rest of the story is about how Dasu realizes the sanctity of the cop job and eliminates the mafia gang.
Thoughts on the film: A pretty straightforward masala film. It didn't have subtitles, so it's possible it had depths that I didn't understand. Ravi Teja is strangely magnetic, especially when he's wearing goofy school uniforms.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another supportive, mentor role as the police officer who recruits Dasu to take down the criminals. The extreme enthusiasm and occasional dimness of Ravi Teja's characters mean that Prakash Raj's character often has to display heightened levels of patience and/or exasperation, which are loads of fun.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
After Dasu has demonstrated his success as a police officer, Prakash Raj indulges in a drunken celebration:



1 comment:

  1. Hi Liz. I watched Khadgam on the basis of this post. And you know, I pretty much loved the first half or two-thirds of it. Prakash Raj and Ravi Teja were so good as the offbeat Odd Couple friends. Like you, I enjoyed seeing a more balanced ensemble at play. The jingoism and heavy patriotic messages, plus the utterly WTF journey to the end of the film, did put me off. However, by then I liked the guys so much I wanted to see how they ended up. I get the feeling PR likes being allowed to dance up a storm and his songs were really fun. The only weak link in the cast for me was Srikanth. He didn't win me over as poor conflicted angsty Radha. Can we please discuss his girlfriend's death scene? I do not feel bad mentioning that here as it said on my DVD cover 'and of course there is the 15 minute flashback of his girlfriend's death'. And yet I was still VERY surprised by that scene. And not in a good way. Thanks for bringing this film to my attention - I don't think I would have gone out of my way to find it otherwise. Cheers, Temple

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