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, November 26, 2011

Round-up for October 2011

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (October, 2011): 6
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of October 31, 2011): 128

Vaanam, Oosaravelli, Ayya, Badrinath, Badri, Kshemanga Velli Labham Ga Randi
Featuring: a Muslim hero, an international crimelord, a vengeful factionalist, a demanding guru, a concerned brother, and a feminist husband.

Vaanam (Tamil, 2011)
Date Watched: 10/1/11
Role type: Prakash Pal
The story: The remake of the Telugu film Vedam, this film tells the interconnected stories ambitious "Cable" Raja (Silambarasam), musician Bharath (Bharath), prostitute Saroja (Anuskha Shetty), father-to-be Rahim (Prakash Raj), and poor weaver Lakshmi (Saranya).

 Thoughts on the film: Really well done and engaging. The stories with Saroja, Lakshmi and Rahim were fantastic, powered by some fabulous performances. To me, Raja and Bharath's stories only got going when they came into contact with the other characters. I thought the final scenes in the hospital captured the chaos of the situation. I'm looking forward to seeing Vedam when/if it comes out dvd.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: About a year ago, I saw production stills that showed Prakash Raj's character crying, and I figured it was going to be an over-the-top tragi-comic role. I was pleasantly surprised at how the character was fully developed, and it was fun to see Prakash Raj playing off of the many different characters/actors in the film.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Rahim is rounded up and put in jail, where he defends his young cell mates from charges of terrorism. A few moments later, the young men start spouting extremist slogans, and a look of disillusionment spreads across his face.

Oosaravelli (Telugu, 2011)
Date Watched: 10/8/11
Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: 
Tony (Jr NTR) is a ne'er-do-well, who will do anything for money. On a trip to Kashmir Tony is captured by terrorists, and meets and rescues Niharika (Tammanah.) Tony follows Niharika home, and tries to break up her relationship with her fiance, Rakesh. Tony is motivated by love and an secret in Niharika's past, which brings them into conflict with the crime lord Ajju Bhai (Prakash Raj.)

Thoughts on the film: Loved, loved, loved it. Tammanah was amazing, and Tarak did a great job showing the transformation of his character.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This was a pretty standard evil mob boss, with a few enjoyable scenes of Ajju Bhai intimidating his Eurocriminal partners and his underlings. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but he looked sort of like Godfather-era Brando to me in this film:
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
At his beach hideaway, Ajju Bhai stabs his rival with a kebab skewer, which happened too fast to screencap.
The final fight scene in an abandoned book depository/library:

Ayya (Tamil, 2005)
Date Watched: 10/15/11
Role type: Prakash Bad

The story: Ayyadurai (Sarath Kumar), an upright citizen, kills the corrupt MLA who has was stealing food from his constituents, and becomes the MLA. Maadasamy (Napoleon), who belongs to a different caste, has been his right-hand man since those times. Muthupandi's daughter Selvi (Nayanthara) loves Chelladurai (also Sarath Kumar), Ayyadurai's son, but Chelladurai does not reciprocate her feelings. Karuppusamy (Prakash Raj), son of the MLA who was killed, plans to become the MLA by either killing Ayya or driving a wedge into his friendship with Muthupandi, thereby getting the votes of everyone belonging to their caste
Thoughts on the film: An interesting look at village politics. The romance was sort of strange, I was still not sure at the end if Chella really did love Selvi or not.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: (Spoiler) I enjoyed the arc of the character, you see him as a child then his adult journey from vengeance to forgiveness.

Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
His final scene, when he realizes that his own father was not a good guy, and that he has been trying to hurt Ayyadurai unjustly.

Badrinath (Telugu, 2011)
Date Watched: 10/18/11
Role type: Prakash Guru
The story: Guru Bhishma Narayan (Prakash Raj) has raised Badri (Allu Arjun) as a warrior dedicated to protecting the Badrinath Temple. Alakananda (Tammanah) comes to the temple with her family (even though she's an atheistic), where she falls in love with Badri. Alakananda's evil relatives are trying to make her marry their son, and Badri promises Alakananda's grandfather that he will protect her. The conflicts of Alikananda's struggle with her faith, Badri's promise to his Guru to remain unmarried, and the crazy relative's attempts to abduct Alikananda are woven together in the second half.
Thoughts on the film: There was some interesting potential in this film, but somehow it didn't quite hold together. Tammanah was good, and her character's struggle with belief was fairly interesting at points, but sort of hit a dead end. I felt like the plotline with the relatives took away from the more interesting questions of the religious setting.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Definitely lots of fun to see him in a) a giant bushy white beard, b) a guru role.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: When Bunny's character is begging at his feet, and he kicks him away.

Badri (Telugu, 2000)
Date Watched: 10/30/11
Role type: Prakash Brother/Prakash Bad
The story: Badri (Pawan Kalyan) is an ad agency director whose parents live in the US. It's expected that he will marry Venela (Renu Desai), the daughter of close family friends. Vennela and Badri are friends, but Vennela is frustrated by Badri's lack of romance, and challenges him to find a girl who will love him more than she does. Vennela picks a girl coming out of temple, and challenges Badri to make that girl fall in love with him. While Vennela is the US visiting Badri's family, he starts a romance with the temple girl--Sarayu (Ameesha Patel). Sarayu does fall in love with Badri, much to the chagrin of her brother Nanda (Prakash Raj) and Vennela. 

Thoughts on the film: Another subtitle-less film. If anyone has seen it, let me know exactly what happens in the final airport scene, since I thought I heard the word "operation." Otherwise, a pretty basic "two-heroine" love story, and as usual, I bet on the wrong heroine. I did like how the early friendship between Vennela and Badri was portrayed and how Sarayu learned to stand up for herself (sort of). Badri's general "could-care-less" attitude and how it was changed into emo-stalking was interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed this song, which combined Telugu lyrics, cowboy outfits, and charismatic animals of the African Savannah:
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another protective/psychotic brother character. Lots of yelling and slapping required:
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Amisha Patel's character is being harassed by rowdies, and it seems that Pawan Kalyan is going to come to her rescue, but instead her brother shows up and beats them all up. It  would be nice if he was just "anti-eve-teasing" on principle, but he's mostly just a controlling jerk.

Kshemanga Velli Labham Ga Randi (Telugu, 2000)
Date Watched: 10/30/11
Role type: Prakash Pal
The story: A comic "battle of the sexes" movie. A new couple (Prakash Raj and Ramya Krishna) move into the neighborhood. They both work and split the housework, and this model of equality inspires some neighborhood women (Roja, Preethi and Kovai Sarala) to work outside the homes. This causes drama and comedy with their mechanic husbands (Srikanth, Rajendra Prasad and Brahmanandam.)

Thoughts on the film: I watched this without subtitles, so I'm sure I missed 97% of the story, especially at the end when the characters delivered the lines to the camera. Things I liked: the interactions between the female characters, Ramya Krishna, Ravi Teja's cameo appearance, and the songs. Things I didn't like as much: the overuse of comedy slaps, and the melodrama with the parents fighting over the care of the sick child.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He was delightful as the progressive, dinner-cooking, laundry-hanging husband. And he wears lungis a lot in this film.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: When the neighbor ladies stop by, and he's cooking dinner:

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