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.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Round-up for November 2011

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (November, 2011): 133
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of November 30, 2011): 5

Priyam, Venghai, Bhagareetha, V.I.P., Vastadu Naa Raju
A variety of villains, and one nice guy. Read to the end for pirates!


I was looking at my master list of all of the Indian movies I've seen, and decided to run a little formula:
Prakash Raj has been in 21% (1 in 5) of all Indian film I've seen , and in 38% (2 in 5) of all of the South Indian films I've seen.

This alleged likeness of Prakash Raj makes me sad, too.


Priyam (Telugu, 2000)
Date Watched: 11/6/2011

Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: 

Amar (Arun Kumar) and Preety love each other, but their fathers rivalry comes in their way. To break the relationship, their fathers hire Dharma (Prakash Raj), an ex student of their college. Later their fathers realize their mistake and ask Dharma to stop interfering into their relationship, but now it becomes a challenge for Dharma to break their relationship.
Thoughts on the film: Lots of family drama, and I like how it didn't end with the parents coming around and tearfully accepting their kids. They, too, were stuck as the plans that they'd set in motion with crazy Dharma spun out of control. Arun Kumar excelled at yelling forcefully, and there was also the requisite miraculous recovery from mortal injuries, which relied on the medically-questionable style of CPR where you hurl the victim's body against your own.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: The transformation of the character was a lot of fun--at first it seems like he is going to help out the lovers, but then he gets increasingly psycho and set on hurting them.

Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: 
Lounging around and talking on the phone.
The last scene, where he drinks, strangles and fights. 
 
Embedding is disabled, but here's the link to the pertinent part: Priyam final scene on Shemaroo Telugu.


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Vengai (Tamil, 2011)
Date Watched: 11/11/2011

Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: Hot-headed Selvam (Dhanush) is the son of respected landlord 
Veera Pandi (Raj Kiran). In order to keep him out of trouble, Veera Pandi sends Selvam to stay with an uncle in Trichy. Selvam starts up a romance with his childhood friend Radhika (Tamannah). Meanwhile ambitious politician Rajalingam (Prakash Raj) tries to take down Veera Pandi by inciting Selvam. Selvam tries not to rise to the bait, but a final straw pushes him into action.
Thoughts on the film: A pretty straightforward factionalist-themed mass film. I like Dhanush and Tamannah a lot, but I don't think that the film used either of them to their fullest potential.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Again, another straightforward gangster part, which Prakash Raj can (and possibly does) play in his sleep. However, it was one of his most dramatic mustaches, 
and he had a helicopter.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Rajalingam is upset because Veera Pandi's name is printed in larger letters than his own name on a sign. He throws shoes at his own portrait, orders his henchmen to do the same, then yells at them for doing it:



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Bhagareetha (Telugu, 2005)
Date Watched: 11/15/2011

Role type: Prakash Bad  
The story: Bullabai (Vijay Kumar) is the leader of an island in the Godavari district. Many people have died traveling to and from the island via boat, and it is Bullabai's dream to build a bridge. He seeks the help of his friend Venkata Ratnam (Prakash Raj) to build the bridge, but time passes, and there is still no bridge. Chandu (Ravi Teja), Bullabai's son, travels to Hyderabad to meet with Venkata Ratnam. Chandu learns that Venkata Ratnam has been focused on lining his own pockets rather than helping with the bridge, and puts plans in motion to get the bridge built. Chandu also romances Hyderabad girl (Shriya) who has a (not a all) surprising father.

Thoughts on the film: Of the "sons avenging the fathers" films I watched in November, I liked Bhagareetha quite a bit more than Venghai. Ravi Teja is great in these "pulling off a scam" roles (I could totally see him as the Matt Damon character in a Telugu Ocean's Eleven). The romance track was cute, and the scenes where Shriya is trying to convince Sunil's character that she has a twin sister were pretty funny.
These guys were great as the henchmen--why haven't I seen them in more films?
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: I thought this had some potential in showing a character who isn't necessarily "evil", but is just lured into inaction by his own ambition and sense of complacency. Unfortunately, they took it into typical villain territory a few times.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Shriya is explaining to Sunil that her father (Prakash Raj) had a romantic affair which resulted in her twin sister. As she tells the story, there's a Shree 420 -style song of Prakash Raj and his lover.




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V.I.P. (Tamil, 1997)
Date Watched: 11/27/2011

Role type: Prakash Pal
The story: Guru (PrabhudevaIndhu (Rambha) steal a car from a businessman who wouldn't hire him. They escape into the airport, where they cross paths with wealthy businessman (Anupam Kher) and his daughter Priya (Simran). Guru is mistaken for the businessman's nephew Santosh, who is coming from the US to save the family company and hopefully marry Priya. Guru goes off with his new "family" and is finally able to put his skills to use, as he saves the company and falls in love with Priya. 
Meanwhile Santosh (Abbas) arrives at the airport, and is whisked away by Indhu, who keeps him occupied on a road trip to Mizoram and back to Chennai. The two couples quickly fall in love, and their romances take different paths as the truth is revealed and hidden.
Thoughts on the film: This movie is my new poster child for the positives of the "every Prakash Raj" movie project. I probably would never have watched this film if Prakash Raj was not in it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Prabhudeva and Rhamba did a great job at the comedic parts, and Abbas was the most lively I've ever seen him. There's also a funny subplot with the stolen car and the goondas tracking it.
It's available online on Rajshri Tamil's youtube channelOn the plus side, there are subtitles but they are cut off by the youtube window.  (But not when it's embedded on my blog. Huh.)
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: At about the 1 hour 40 minute mark, I started to wonder if I'd completely missed Prakash Raj's part. He's definitely in it, just not until the very last scene. I can definitely see him getting cast in this sort of "surprise appearance/big reveal" role today, but it was interesting to me that he had that kind of role in 1997, and I wonder if there was even starting to be a bit of recognition factor for audiences even then.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: His only scene at the end, which you can watch here:




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Vastadu Naa Raju (Telugu, 2011)
Date Watched: 11/29/2011

Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: The synopsis from greatandhra.com

Venky (Vishnu) is a happy go lucky young man and his dream is to become a Kick Boxing champion. He doesn’t believe in love as he considers it time waste.
On the other hand, there is Narasimha (Prakashraj), a henchman for the Home Minister (Sayaji) and his dream is to become an MLA. To achieve his dream, he also commits to the Home Minister that he will give his sister Pooja’s (Taapsee) hand to the HM’s rogue son Ajay (Ajay).
However, a sequence of events takes place which mislead Narasimha to think that Pooja is in love with Venky. He attacks Venky’s family and in no time Venky also shows his reaction. What is that reaction? Are Venky and Pooja really in love? All this forms the rest of the story.
Thoughts on the film: This is example #2 of "films I really liked but never would have watched but for Prakash Raj." Vishnu probably has a way to go in his acting, but his whole "hapless kickboxer" character totally reminded me of Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, so I couldn't help but like him. The mistaken romance played out in an interesting, even thought Pooja seemed a oddly passive about marrying Ajay, who was clearly unhinged. There was also a great song where Tapsee and Vishnu dance around a European city in bright, traditional Indian costumes:
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: I liked that the scenery-chewing, semi-comedic operatics of the character meshed really well with the rest of the tone of the film. It was also interesting to watch Narasimha swinging between being very threatening (to his own gang and to Venky at first) and then grovelling (to Shiyaji Shinde's Home Minister and later to Venky, when the tables have turned.)
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: This song set in Venice, where Narasimha is imagining the romance between his daughter and Venky.
Fans will note, this is not the first time that Prakash Raj has dressed as Johnny Depp in a song.
Vastadu Naa Raju
Mozhi (click here to watch)

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