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.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Round-up for September 2015

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total: 16 (September, 2015)
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total: 283 (as of 09/30/15)
Temper, Malai Malai, Ongole Githa, Suyetchai MLA, Power, Policegiri, Crazy Star, Chennaiyil Oru Naal, Alludu Seenu, Mukunda, Vinavayya Ramayya, S/O Satyamurthy, Dabanng 2, Pulan Visarinai 2, Rowthiram, Entertainment

Themes of the month: Lots of films from the last year, Tamil and Kannada remakes of Traffic, films launching star kids, and two sequels! Also a recurring theme of kabbadi games:
Alludu Seenu

Alludu Seenu

Vinavayya Ramayya

S/O Satyamurthy

Temper (Telugu, 2015)
Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: An abandoned kid named Daya grows up to be a self-serving police officer (Jr, NTR.), who happily takes bribes. When he’s transferred to Vizag, he makes an alliance with Waltair Vasu (Prakash Raj) the local crime lord and uses underhanded means to romance Shanvi (Kajal Agarwal.) Daya starts to fall for Shanvi, and she convinces him to rescue Lakshmi, who was kidnapped by Walter Vasu. As Daya challenges Walter, he comes to realize the negative impact of his own, self-serving actions, and decides to right these wrongs.
Thoughts on the film: This was really great watch, with such an interesting trajectory for Jr NTRs character. There aren’t many Telugu films where the “hero” was complicit in the horrific rape and death of another character, and I liked that the film showed him coming to grips with that. I do wish that the film had not so easily redeemed him, and had him actually serve time for his own crimes.  I do remember there being some buzz around this film, and it was well-deserved.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another fun, flashy bad guy, and the character’s ffrustration and confusion at the change in the hero’s character was great to watch, and complemented Daya’s own confusion.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: The song Ittage Recchipodham features some excellent dancing.
Making threats.
Dancing and looking sad.

Malai Malai (Tamil, 2009)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: (watched w/out subtitles) The story of two brothers in the country. The younger one (Arun Vijay) follows a girl (Vedhicka) to Chennai. He gets work as a taxi driver and is befriended by a “local businessman” (Prakash Raj.)  The younger brother realizes that his new friend is a criminal leader, and he tries to bring him down. When the older brother (Prabhu) comes to town, it’s revealed that he and the bad guy are old school friends.
Thoughts on the film: A good film, and like Temper, it has the  interesting trajectory where the hero starts out liking the bad guy, then realizes he’s not so good. The death of the female second lead seemed unnecessary, and didn’t even pack very much emotional punch.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: It was a pretty nuanced role, since there were scenes of him mentoring the younger brother and trying to maintain his reputation in the eyes of the older brother, as well as the evil plotting roles.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: A variety of facial expressions and a ride in a festival parade.

Ongole Githa (Telugu, 2013)
Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: A young boy named “White” (Ram) comes to work in the market. Over time he works his way up to being the big chili pepper dealer, with the support of the head of the market, Adikeshavulu (Prakash Raj.) White tries to be elected chairman of the market sellers, but when political allies ask him to stand aside for the current chairman, he agrees, but asks to marry Adikeshavalu’s daughter, Sandhya (Kriti Kharbhanda.)  A flashback reveal’s that White’s father (Prabhu) was the head of the market. His sometime friend, Adhikeshavalu killed his wife, and framed him for the murder and destruction of the market. White gets close to the villain in order to expose his wrongdoing and restore his father’s reputarion.
Thoughts on the film: I really liked the setting of the market, with all of the internal politics and maneuvering of who’s in charge, where the market is, who can sell what. I haven’t seen a Ram movie in a while, so it was fun to watch him.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: An enjoyable, truly duplicitous character. It was clear how he could seem like a model citizen to everyone else, while he did all of his machinations behind the scenes. His big character quirk/flaw was that he liked to get naked and drink.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
There was a cool motif of shaving mirrors.

I can't believe it took 270 films to see pixellated nudity!

Suyetchai MLA (Tamil, 2006)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: (watched w/out subtitles) Two small town friends,  Nambirajan (Sathyaraj) and Visky (Goundamani) are very helpful to the local MLA Arivudaiyan (Nassar). When the MLA is taken down by his evil political rival (Prakash Raj), the friends decide to enter politics to avenge their mentor and to woo the heroine.
Thoughts on the film: This was a very broad comedy, with Tamil comedians I haven’t seen much of before. In many ways, it made me think of Jim Carrey comedies.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Perfectly fine politician bad guy.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Lots of scenes on the phone, and in the park plotting while jogging.

Power (Telugu, 2014)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Cop
The Story: Policeman Baldev Sahay (Ravi Teja) is killed while helping a criminal to escape. Cut to his look-alike named Tirupathis, who wants to be a policeman. He helps his IPS brother-in-law (Brahmandam) to catch criminals, and falls in love with a conwoman astrologer, Nirupama (Hansika.) The home minister sees Tirupathi on television, and recruits him to play the original cop. There are various twists and turns where it’s revealed that everyone who appeared to be good is corrupt, and everyone who appeared to be bad is good.
Thoughts on the film: This movie was very, very messy. There were flashbacks inside of flashbacks, and with all of the twists, it became a chore to track of who was good and bad at what point in the story. There was even a final,idiculous plot twist. And yet, it was still fun to watch because of Ravi Teja, and Subbaruju and Ajay as his cop helpers.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He plays an internal affairs investigator, who feeds plot information via phone to the other police officers, and drives in right before the fight scene to deliver a key piece of exposition and then just drives away before the hero arrives to kick ass.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:

Talking to his team in the office and in a car in a rainstorm.
Getting news at the hospital.
Delivering the pre-final fight monologue.

Policegiri (Hindi, 2013)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: A Remake of the Tamil film Saamy. DCP Rudra (Sanjay Dutt) is assigned to a new town. He makes a deal with Nagori Subramaniam (Prakash Raj), that he’ll look the other way at Nagori’s organized crime. But after several conflicts, Rudra starts to enforce the law, and when Nagori blows up a bomb in the marketplace, it’s all out war. Rudra has to persuade high-raking police and politicians to let him take on Rudra, who he captures at a temple, and takes to a deserted farm for a final showdown.
Thoughts on the film: A perfectly fine remake. The idli-beer scene which is a favorite of mine was done well, but I think it tipped slightly more towards comedy, which made the final death scene a little too campy, given all that had come before.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: A nice scenery-chewing bad guy, whose major quirk was (bad) musical performances on the harmonium, hand drums, and voice.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: music!

Playing the harmonium and drums.

 Plotting the bombing in disguise and final fight.

Bonus cool shot of an avenging Rudra.

Crazy Star  (Kannada, 2014)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Doc
The Story: (watched w/subtitles) Remake (in part) of the Malayalam film Traffic. A movie star (Ravichandran), is focused on his “art.” He spends the first half contemplateing/obsessing over his long career and what it all means, to the detriment of his wife (Priyanka Uprendra) and daughter, who is suffering from heart failure. When a young journalist is killed in a traffic accident, one of his die-hard fans (played by his son, Vikram Ravichandran) leads a team to rush the organ to the film star’s daughter.
Thoughts on the film: I made sure I watched the Malayalam version first, since it had subtitles. The wiki entry said it was remake of Traffic, but for the first half, I really wasn’t sure. The first half was almost entirely Ravichandran reminiscing about a very loosely fictionalized version his own career and family. What had been realism in Traffic became a self-indulgent fantasy and melodrama. (Sorry Crazy Star, I have liked other movies you’ve made.)
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Prakash Raj plays the doctor treating Ravichandran’s daughter, and it’s both good and bad that his acting in this role (mostly shouting overdramatically on the phone) matches the over the top dramatics of the film.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Yelling on the phone, making heart transplants happen!

Chennaiyil Oru Naal (Tamil, 2013)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Dad/Star
The Story: (watched w/out subtitles) Tamil remake of the Malayalam film Traffic. Lives converge at a traffic signal. A young journalist is killed in a car accident and, his family agrees to donate his heart to the daughter of a film star (Prakash Raj.) The journalist’s friend, a disgraced policeman, and a troubled doctor race to deliver the heart.
Thoughts on the film: This was a much more straightforward remake and I think I might like it even better than Traffic. In particular, I was very impressed by Raadhika Sarathkumar in her role as the  superstar’s wife. I felt like there was much more of her perspective and agency in this version, and I think several other female roles were expanded, which I like to think was because Raadhika Sarathkumar was also the executive producer.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He plays the actor/superstar, and I found him the most believable of the three versions, because he had  a nice balance of his focus on work, narcissism, and love for his family.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: m
Skype/Facetime places this film in the mid-teens.

 Surya shows up at the end to deliver an important message.
Various scenes with Raadhika Sarathkumar. 

Alludu Seenu (Telugu, 2014)
Date watched

Role Type:
Prakash Bad and Dad
The Story: (watched w/out subtitles)Seenu (newcomer Bellamkonda Srinivas) and his uncle Narasimha (Prakash Raj) travel from village to village running scams and running away from debt. They run away to Chennai, but accidentally board the board to Hyderabad, where they learn that Narasimha is the doppelganger of Bhai, a don in the city. They use the resemblance to earn money and dupe Bhai’s right hand Dimple (Brahamandam.) Seenu also romances Anjali(Samantha Ruth Prabhu), Bhai's daughter when she mistakes him for her fiance. Bhai learns of their tricks, and tries to have them killed, and it’s revealed that the two are twin brothers. In the end, Seenu saves his uncle and marries Anjali.
Thoughts on the film: Overall, I thought this was a fun movie that I’ll watch again if it ever comes out with subtitles. The kabbadi con game in the beginning was fun, the brother conflict had some depth, and it the Gulf States side trip was interesting, if full of stereotypes.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: The dual role was fun, and it’s sort of surprising that he hasn’t done more, since he’s of the few actors who can play a crime lord and a comedy uncle.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:

Good twin:
 Bad twin:

Mukunda (Telugu, 2014)
Date watched
Role Type:
Prakash Pal
The Story: (watched w/out subtitles) Mukunda (Varun Tej), a young guy in a village, tries to help his friend who is love with the niece of the local Minister. When the Minister (Rao Ramesh) tries to kill the friend, Mukunda decides to battle the minister through his efforts to elect a local citizen (Prakash Raj.)
Thoughts on the film: I like this recent trend of debut actors doing films with a slightly different, social or comedy storyline. The mechanics of the election process ended up driving the story pretty well.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: A slightly different role. He’s sort of the layabout Greek chorus who regularly shows up, newspaper in hand, to chide the hero and complain. His transition from gadly into candidate was fun to watch.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
Scolding the main character:
Fighting with the bad guys.
The big triumphant marches to the polling place.

Vinavayya Ramayya (Telugu, 2015)
Date watched
Role Type:
Prakash Badish Dad
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles) Chanti (Nag Anvesh) is in is love with his neighbor Janaki (Kruthika) but she rejects him. When Janaki’s marriage is arranged by her father (Prakash Raj), Chanti’s friends try to help, and kidnap Chanti and Janaki. Her father comes after them, and threatens to kill Chanti, but Janaki realizes she has come to love him.
Thoughts on the film: I liked that the lead couple actually seemed like older teenagers/very young adults, so their recklessness, uncertainty, and changing emotions made sense.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: A pretty standard stern father/village leader. There was some nice character development with the father-daughter relationship
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
A nice father-daughter conversation.
 The final confrontation and happy resolution.

S/O Satyamurthy (Telugu, 2015)
Date watched

Role Type:
Prakash Dad
The Story: When billionaire Satyamurthy (Prakash Raj) is killed in accident, his son Viraj Anand (Allu Arjun) seeks to support his family and restore his father’s name. Viraj must restore a piece of land to his father’s creditor Paida Sambasiva Rao (Rajendra Prasad), who is also the father of his love interest Subhalaskshmi (Samantha). They all end up in the estate of local landlord Devaraj Naidu, and his spoiled sister Valli (Nithya Menen), who decides she wants to marry Anand.
Thoughts on the film: I liked how the conflict of values between Anand and Sambasiva Rao drove the story, and was more nuanced than a simple hero-villain dynamic. The female roles were pretty developed for Telugu film. Sindhu Tolani as the strong sister-in-law who takes a stand to support her family was good, and the comedy scenes were between Nithya and Samantha made me wish there were more opportunities for actresses to do scenes with one another.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: It was a very, very brief role, with a few scenes in the beginning and an important flashback at the end, but it those scenes did a good job of making it clear why Anand loved and respected his father so much.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Being a decent guy in life and on his deathbed.

Dabangg 2 (Hindi, 2012)
Date watched
Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: Inspector Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) comes to a new town, dances with item girls (Malaika Arora Khan, Kareena Kapoor), teases his father and brother (Vinod Khanna, Arbaaz Khan), flirts with his wife (Sonakshi Sinha), and locks horns with the local don (Prakash Raj.)
Thoughts on the film: The original Dabanng wasn’t a particularly deep film, but the family reconciliation plot moved the plot and the characters forward. In the sequel, there’s really not a lot driving the plot forward. There’s no conflict within the family, and the main bad guy doesn’t even show up until halfway through. That said, the cute scenes with two romantic couples were sweet, and the big item numbers were silly fun as always,
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: This was not that juicy of a role, and someone else dubbed his voice. I did some searching to find out way, and read report that said Prakash Raj and Arbaaz Khan had a disagreement over the size of the role, and Prakash Raj ended up not dubbing. The costuming was really great, though.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
Various scenes that set up his badness:
 The final showdown with Chulbul:

Pulan Visaranai 2 (Tamil, 2015)
Date watched

Role Type:
Prakash Lawyer
The Story: (watched w/out subtitles). A woman is killed by an intruder; a bus goes over a cliff; a policeman investigates; there are songs and an extended courtroom scene.
Thoughts on the film: This film started production in 2006, and was finally released in 2015, and it felt very, very disjointed. I felt like the lead actor and actress changed out three times during the film, but that may have just been the same actors filmed at different points over 9 years. The quality of the “thriller scenes” and the bus crash were not great.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He plays one of the lawyers in the courtroom scene at the end, which was the most coherent stretch of the film, so I’m glad that he added some consistency.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Pondering his courtroom strategy in the one scene.

Rowthiram (Tamil, 2011)
Date watched

Role Type:
Prakash Granddad
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles) Shiva (Jeeva) is trained in traditional martial arts by his grandfather (Prakash Raj). When he grows up, he follows his parents’ wishes and goes to university, but he’s always willing to jump into a fight against injustice. He gets into a fight with a local rowdy, meets law-student Priya (Shriya), and ultimately enters into a long feud with the local criminals. His family disowns him for his fighting, and several people come to harm before Shiva achieves his goal.
Thoughts on the film: The story was fine, but the film could have been cut by 30-40 minutes too long. Priya was an interesting character in the first half, but then was reduced to the usual damsel-in-distress in the second half.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: A fun cameo role, especially since it consisted of one fight scene and then a training montage.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
After he kicks the bad guys' asses, he fixes their dislocated arms and airways.
This part of the training montage had to be CGI, but still fun.

Entertainment (Hindi, 2014)
Date watched

Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: Struggling actor Akhil (Akshay Kumar) learns that his birth father was a recently deceased millionaire diamond merchant. He travels to Bangkok to collect his inheritance, only to find that the father made his golden retriever, “Entertainment” the heir to the fortune and that the father of Akhil’s girlfriend Sakshi (Tamanna), would rather she marry the dog than Akhil. Akhil tries to kill Entertainment, but when the dog saves his life, the two join forces against his plotting, criminal cousins (Sonu Sood and Prakash Raj) who also have an eye on the fortune.
Thoughts on the film: I am not the biggest fan of the broad Hindi comedies, but I have to say that this one actually held together fairly well, mainly thanks to the dog. The dog kept all of the odd side-plots on track, and was a good focus for the comedy and the sentimental changes in the characters, and the canine actor gave a remarkably muted performance for a Hindi comedy. (There was a title card at the end encouraging people to care for their pets, so I assume this was a little of a cause for Akshay Kumar, but it worked out well.)
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: I was worried going in, but I completely loved all of the scenes of Prakash Raj and Sonu Sood as the conniving step-brothers. There were great recurring scenes when they would argue, but then reconcile to the sounds of an old filmi song.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes:
Brotherly conniving.

Chased by dogs, trapped on a deer head.

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