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, June 16, 2012

Round-up for May 2012

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (May, 2012): 8
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of May 31, 2012): 191

Vathiyar, Aadum Koothu, Idhaya Thirudan, Chamundi, Seenu Vasanti Lakshmi, Avide Shyamala, Perarasu, Mathiya Chennai

This month featured a whole spectrum of corrupt characters (cops, politicians, gangsters, philanthropists, and husbands.) Plus three films where Prakash Raj was in front of or behind the camera.
shp 2012-05-11 19.55
Aadum Koothu
Mathiya Chennai
shp 2012-05-19 10.46
Seenu Vasanthi Lakshmi


Vathiyar (Tamil, 2005)

Date Watched: 5/7/2012
Role type: Prakash Bad (then good) shp 2012-05-07 23.35
The story: From Wikipedia “Dorai (Arjun) is a do-gooder don. But a police force led by ACP Easwara Pandian (Prakash Raj) and his sidekick (Sathyan) are after him. However, the poor need him as he is a Good Samaritan running an orphanage. He has help from his friends (Manivannan and Vadivelu). But Dorai has a problem. His mother (Sujatha) doesn’t approve of his ways. She feels that he is just a loutish goon. There is also Anjali (Mallika Kapoor), a TV journo, who is in love with Dorai because of his dare devil ways. Dorai has a past too. He was just an honest-to-goodness school teacher, who ends up as the deathly Dorai after a fire ravages a school and kills several children. The incident forces him to take on the system of venal officials and politics. Now, Dorai’s biggest task is to nip a dark and dire politician who wants to bomb the city.”
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) I feel like I’ve seen Arjun in this type of role a lot, and he’s perfectly good at it. Manivannan and Vadivelu were the highlights as the buddies.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This character reminded me a bit of Severus Snape—he harasses the hero, is a “yes man” to the bad guy, but then realizes the error of his ways, and helps the hero, at a cost to himself.
shp 2012-05-07 21.06  shp 2012-05-07 22.22
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: His big moment of redemption in the hospital, when he removes his oxygen mask to apologize to Arjun.
shp 2012-05-07 23.41   


Aadum Koothu (Tamil, 2005)shp 2012-05-11 19.33

Date Watched: 5/11/2012
Role type: Prakash Mysterious
The story: Manimekhala (Navya Nair), is college student who likes to fantasize, and has visions that are projected (like movies) from the bangle given to her by her fiance. When she has visions of herself in the past as a dancer who is tormented (and possibly killed) by a village headman (Prakash Raj), she and her fiancé go to the village from her visions to seek the truth. The story takes interesting twists and turns as Manimekhala discovers that she was not the historic dancer, but rather a film actress from 30 years past, who was playing the role of the dancer.
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) This was really enjoyable movie. The story of the young girl and her visions was interesting, but about halfway through the reveal that the visions were part of a story being filmed made the story both more fun and more emotionally compelling. I think Navya Nair was nominated for (and maybe won?) a National Award for this role, which was well deserved.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This was really rich, fun role for Prakash Raj. He played three “characters”: the villainous village headman in the flashback scenes, the actor playing the village henchman, and an aging recluse in the modern scenes:
shp 2012-05-11 18.49shp 2012-05-11 19.46
shp 2012-05-11 20.19
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
shp 2012-05-11 18.48
Evil filmi zamindar.
shp 2012-05-11 20.07
Romance-assisting actor..


Idhaya Thirudan (Tamil, 2005)

Date Watched: 5/14/2012
Role type: Prakash Bad vlcsnap-2012-05-14-19h07m18s113
The story: From wikipedia: “Deepika (Kamna) can't bear with the control imposed on her life by her mother (Vani Viswanath), who is the Home Secretary. In order to make her mother angry, she uploads some hot pictures of herself and send them via e-mail to a fictitious name "T.Mahesh". But turns out there really is a T.Mahesh (Ravi), her college mate. Circumstances make them run into each other a few more times, which irritates Mayilravanan (Prakash Raj), a policeman who wants to marry Deepika and he'll try to separate them by making alliance with Deepika'mom. Finally all problems are solved and two lovers get united.”
Thoughts on the film: I thought that this film was well made, and had a nice narrative flow. I found it a bit challenging because the female lead was so unsympathetic.  She sets up a fake love affair, just to annoy her mother, and knowingly sets up a stranger to be harassed by the police. When she falls in love with T. Mahesh, she continues with deceptions that put several people in danger. I really didn’t like Jayam Ravi in the first few films that I saw him in, but he’s growing on me, I think.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another somewhat unusual bad guy. On the one hand, he was a pretty corrupt police office, who seemed quite happy to end up with the girl through backhanded means and harass people in order to gain favor with her mother. On the other hand, he was very sweet when he was seeking romantic advice and friendship from Jayam Ravi’s character, and I felt sort of bad for him that Deepika was using him as a way to get at her mother and T. Mahesh. In the finale, he not only loses the girl at his own wedding, but ends up with pigeon poop on his jacket.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: When he’s being goofy and dorky trying to woo Deepika by going dancing, sliding on a water slide, and reciting poetry to her over a police radio.
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Chamundi (Telugu, 2000)

Date Watched: 5/17/2012
Role type: Prakash Bad shp 2012-05-17 19.44
The story: From youtube link “Vijayendra (Prakash Raj) is trying to crack a deal with the foreign company for his own sake. He sends Simham (Rami Reddy) to kill all the persons who are opposing in this deal. There enters Yashashwini aka Chamundi (Malashree) to save the innocent and kill Simham. Chamundi is been arrested and is been accused as a muderer by her own sister Lawyer Tejaswini (Khushboo). But their father Chandra Sekhar (Chandra Mohan) and others save her by creating false proves. Tejaswini cannot bear the fact that her own father had tried to help her culprit sister. While coming out of the court Vijayendra tries to tease Chamundi for which she warns him to stop all his illegal activities. In the war with Vijayendra, Chamundi hurts herself and then the story unfolds to some years back. Tejaswini and Yashashwini were two pampered daughter os Sumithra and Chandra Mohan. Being an eye witness of a murder committed by Devendra, Vijayendra's brother Sumithra goes to police station, along with her family to complain against him. But by using his power Vijayendra manages to save his brother and insult Sumithra by proving that she is mentally retarded. Sumithra cannot take this insult and she kills herself. Chamundi's blood was boiling with her mother's death. She had vowed to kill all the people responsible for her mother's death. And hence she leaves her hom and starts a life in a new way, being useful to the poor and needy. the film ends with Chamundi avenging her mother's murder.”
Thoughts on the film:(watched without subtitles) This film wasn’t listed on any of Prakash Raj’s filmographies, but when it was posted on youtube, it happily popped up in my google alerts. Heroine-revenge films can be a little formulaic, but I really liked how the conflict between the two sisters was a driving force in the plot. I loved Malashree’s awesome perm and aviator glasses, and her posse of helpers in their matching outfits.
shp 2012-05-17 19.25shp 2012-05-17 21.41
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He seemed suitably powerful and conniving, and had some classic “Miami Vice bad guy” outfits, and an interesting fitness regimen
shp 2012-05-17 19.16 
   shp03 2012-05-17 18.49 shp 2012-05-17 19.30
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: The finale, in which Chamundi breaks out some martial arts and Matrix-style moves to beat up Vijayendra.


Seenu Vasanti Lakshmi (Telugu, 2004)

Date Watched: 5/19/2012
Role type: Prakash Bad shp15 2012-05-19 11.05
The story:   From Idlebrain review: “Seenu (RP Patnaik) is a blind man and a sole bread earner for a family consisting of five members. Vasanthi (Priya) is Seenu's sister and she is very close to him. Lakshmi (Navneet) is a dumb woman who is a close buddy to Seenu and Vasanthi since their childhood. Seenu and Lakshmi are in love and they want to get married as soon as possible. Appala Naidu (Prakash Raj) is a Good Samaritan in that village. He takes Seenu to an eye doctor. That doctor says that Seenu has all chances to see the world if a pair of eyes are donated to Seenu. Lakshmi comes forward to donate her eyes to Seenu. Meanwhile, a political acquaintance of Appala Naidu eyes these two girls Vasanthi and Lakshmi. One fine day, he rapes both of them and threatens that Seenu would be killed if they tell this fact to anybody. Would Seenu come to know about it? What is the plight of these two girls?? Watch it yourself to know the climax!!”
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) The Telugu remake of the 1999 Malayalam film Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njaanum, also remade in Tamil in 2001 as Kasi with Vikram. Since I knew how the story would end (not well), I was able to focus on the performances a bit more. RP Patnaik did well in the role, but for me it didn’t match up to Vikram’s heartbreaking performance in the Tamil version.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He plays a philanthropist/film maker who seems like a kind benefactor at first. I was struck that the character wasn’t necessarily portrayed as “EVIL”, but rather a person who simply takes for granted his ability and right to abuse his power over others.
shp09 2012-05-19 11.00
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
shp 2012-05-19 11.06
Threatening Lakshmi.
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Seenu bringing justice.


Avide Shyamala  (Telugu, 2005)

Date Watched: 5/11/2012
Role type: Prakash Rogue shp 2012-05-21 21.30
The story: I could only find a fragment of a synopsis online: “Wayward husband and dutiful wife. Prakash is a school master who dreams of becoming big over night. On his birthday along with his other friends goes for a drink where he tells about becoming big and asks a loan of one thousand rupees to one of them and he wants to go hyderabad with that money along with Ali. But velu (prakash …” and it ends there. As far as I can tell, he becomes some sort of religious devotee or leader.  his wife He fights with his wife, Shyama (Ramya Krishnan) and abandons her and their daughter. Shyama is struggling financially, but Ali’s character gives/sells her a sewing machine. To a soundtrack of inspirational music, she sews and achieves independences. Ultimately, her husband tries to come back to her. She at first refuses, then accepts him and they all seem happy.
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) There was a lot to follow, and without subtitles or a full review, I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening. I did like Ramya Krishnan in the film, especially the scenes where she is setting up her sewing business.
shp 2012-05-22 22.05 shp21 2012-05-21 22.59
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This character seemed to go through a lot of different phases—indifferent husband, aspiring businessman, religious leader (or charlatan?), devoted father. I wasn’t sure of the narrative flow, and how he progressed from each phase, but I thought Prakash Raj did a good job of showing them as aspects of the same character.
pr avide shyamala 3 shp17 2012-05-21 22.27   
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: A song showing the flirtatious early days of  Velu and Shyama’s marriage:
The “Triumph of Sewing Machines” song:



Perarasu (Tamil, 2006)

Date Watched: 5/26/2012shp10 2012-05-26 12.45
Role type: Prakash Bad
The story: From Wikipedia “It is basically an investigative film as CBI officer Kasi Viswanath (Vijaykanth) is entrusted to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Judge Sadasivam (Nassar)… Soon Kasi finds out that a state minister Elakyam (Prakash Raj) is behind all crimes in the city and he is assisted by three senior cops. Suddenly one by one the bad cops are killed, with needle of suspicion resting on Kasi as a look-alike is behind the murders. It is revealed that it is a revenge killing by Perarasu (Vijaykanth), Kasi’s twin brother. We are told in a flashback by the family retainer (Chandrasekhar) that Kasi was the long-lost twin brother of Perarasu and their father, the local chieftain (Sarath Babu), was at one time the king maker of Panchalakurichi. After making Mansoor Ali Khan and Prakash Raj, MLAs he falls out with them and they murder him. Perarasu who has seen this murder now wants to take revenge. All this led to a gripping climax in which the brothers are pitted against each other.”
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) The backstory about how the villains rose to power was definitely more interesting than the story of the brothers. Most of the other “double role” films I’ve seen have done a better job of differentiating the two characters—there were a lot of scenes when I wasn’t sure if I was watching Kasi or Perarasu.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: It was a fun, scenery-chewing bad guy role. The flashback scenes showed how his character evolved from a village revolutionary to a corrupt politican, and had lots of shouting and face-making. There was also a particularly gross moment when another character spits in his face.
shp 2012-05-26 11.57 shp 2012-05-26 12.03
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Dancing it up Carmen Miranda-style in a lungi and white knee socks:



Mathiya Chennai (Tamil, 2009)

Date Watched: 5/27/2012shp 2012-05-26 13.33
Role type: Prakash Pal
The story: From the Behind Woods review: “The protagonist (Jaivanth) earns the ire of a gangster after crossing roads with him but merits the love of his daughter (Sangeetha.) He goes on to make a movie with the help of his daughter but when it was ready for release, the enraged father pulls out all the stops to prevent it from screening.
But in the process, he ends up with blood in his hand. Repenting for his act and seeking peace, he goes back to the slum and starts serving the poor who he earlier treated like slaves.”
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) It was a masala of social commentary, film industry “behind the scenes,” and standard romance and gangsters stuff. Subtitles would definitely have helped with the social messages about the poor, but the film-making scenes were a lot of fun, especially this song, set in the “making of” a film song:
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He plays the a film director, who becomes a mentor to the hero. There a few scenes near the end when this character is talking with the ganster father, and I wasn’t sure whether he was trying to help the hero, or betraying the hero in some way.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Lots of fun scenes of him directing the movie, doing his best Stephen Speilberg impression in his baseball cap.

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  1. Hello Liz,

    Why don´t you write anymore? I really loved your posts. Or maybe you are done? Is it possible to have seen all f Praju´s movies?o_O

    Anyway, besides hoping for you to continue writing, I just wanted to tell you that I´ve nominated you for the "My Liebster Blog" Award. It's basically a blogger's way of saying "You're one of my favorites! Good job!"

    You can check it out here:

    Keep writing!


  2. Liz,

    It's sad that you ended with only one year of Prakash Raj. He has made some superb films since - Dhoni, Chennaiyil Oru Naal, Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimella Chettu, to name just a few.

  3. Thanks for sharing the reviews of movies.