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.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Round-up for July 2010

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total 7/31/10):  5
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 7/31/10): 35

It's been fun to go back to things I watched a few months ago, but it's sort of sad how so many things I don't remember about these movies.

Mass (Telugu, 2004)
Date watched: 7/1/2010
Role TypePrakash Bad*
The story: Orphan Mass (Nagarjuna) lives in an apartment block in Vizag. His neighbor Priya (Charmee) falls in love with him, but it is revealed that he was previously engaged to Anjali (Jyothika), the daughter of Vizag's leading mafia don Satya (Raghuvaran). 
Movie Rating: 3/5  I think this may have been my first Nagarjuna movie, and I found him pretty appealing.  I like Charmee and Jyothika, and I liked each of them as the comedic neighbor and the tough, but romantic gangster's daughter. If I recall, there were some fun dances in this one.
Prakash Raj Rating: 3/5 This was a very small part--Prakash Raj shows up towards the end as the lawyer who the bad guys call in to get advice on how to legally defeat Mass. I think it's just one scene, but he does a great job as the smart but evil legal mind. (Interesting that this sort of role shows up a lot in Hollywood gangster movies/tv shows, but not so much in the SI version of the genre.)

Minsara Kunavu (Tamil, 1997)
Date watched: 7//5/10
Role TypePrakash Pal*
The story: Priya (Kajol) aspires to be a nun. Thomas (Arvind Swamy), falls in love with her, and seeks help from his barber friend, Deva (Prabhu Deva) to woo her. Along the way, Priya and Deva begin to fall in love. Who/what will Priya pick? Thomas, Deva, or a religious vocation?
Movie Rating: 3.75/5  The was Rajiv Menon's first film; his second (and only other) film was Kandukondai Kandukondain). Both films share a love and generosity for their characters. It was so nice that Priya's narrative arc had an interesting and real emotional conflict beyond "which guy do I love?" The romance between Deva and Priya was just really sweet, and played out in some nice songs that referenced An American in Paris (Prabhu Deva dancing in Gene Kelly's part FTW!!) Nasser has a delightful part as Deva's musician friend.
Prakash Raj Rating: 3/5 Priya's parents aren't too happy about her plans to become a nun, so they try to arrange a marriage for her. The first suitor is a distracted, NRI businessman played by Prakash Raj. It's just one scene, but he's very funny as he takes phone calls about his business, and tries to court Priya by advising her on how to bust the unions in her father's company. *This is a tiny cameo, but we'll put this in "Prakash Pal" category.  When I get around to fleshing out the "Prakash Lover" character type (as has been suggested), I may reclassify it.

Wanted (Hindi, 2009)
Date watched: 7/12/10
Role TypePrakash Bad
The story: Hindi remake of Pokiri. Radhe (Salman Khan) is a street tough who ends up working for and then against mafia don, Gani Bhai (Prakash Raj.) There's also a romance with Jhanvi (Ayesha Takia) and a big twist at the end (unless you've seen Pokiri or Pokkiri.)
Thinking evil thoughts.
Movie Rating: 3.5/5  I'd seen the Telugu and Tamil versions before this one, so I didn't have huge expectations. It was mostly faithful in the plot and characterizations, but I did like that Prabhu Deva was able to indulge his penchant for crazy song picturizations and fanciful "dream" sequences, and adding a bit more "big-city" glitz to the bad guys worked well in the Mumbai setting. (Overall, the Telugu version is my favorite--I liked Mahesh's taciturnity and the grittier Hyderabad street scenes.)
Prakash Raj Rating: 4/5 One thing that has improved over the course of the remakes is that each one gives more and more screen time to Prakash Raj's Ali Bhai/Ghani Bhai character.  I don't think he shows up until at least a third of the way through Pokiri, but in Wanted he is introduced fairly quickly, watching a ladies boxing match, and ordering the death of an informant. This film adds more for the character to do in all of the scenes: he's even more decadent in the night club item number, and more threatening in the scenes where he kidnaps the CP's daughter.  By far, the best spot where they expanded his role is in the scenes where Gani Bhai is in police custody.  Prakash Raj does some great physical comedy in this: reacting to the policemen, attempting to phone his henchman, trying to outsmart the police with his Buddha-like calm. His glee at seeing an opportunity to escape, his triumph when he is out of his cell, and his despondency when he realizes he won't be able to escape are telegraphed really well in his face, body language, and voice.
"I am freeeeeeee!!"
"I guess not."
"Fine, I might as well go back inside..."

Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi (Telugu, 2003)
Date watched: 7/16/10
Role TypePrakash Dad
The story: Chandu (Ravi Teja) is an aspiring kickboxer.  He goes to live with his estranged father, Raghuveer (Prakash Raj) who is a famed kickboxing coach. How Chandu achieves his kickboxing dreams, romances Asin (can't remember the character's name), and reconciles with his father forms the rest of the movie.
Movie Rating: 3/5  I expected a Ravi Teja movie about kickboxing to be sort of cheesy, which it was, but it was also an interesting portrayal of the parent-child relationships.  The early scenes with the teacher/professor mom (Jayasudha) supporting her son's interests, and his love for her, were really sweet. The father-son relationship in the second half was also pretty interesting. Chandu was very prickly to his father, and the father was pretty upfront about having abandoned his first family to pursue his ambitions.  There was some comedy around Asin being Tamil--I wish I understood Telugu and Tamil, so I could get these jokes (which seem to show up a lot.)
Prakash Raj Rating: 3/5 Overall, another solid "stern father who transforms by the end of the movie" role. The flashback scenes with Jayasudha had a nice tension (I like their pairing as film parents a lot.)  He also gets some nice "Mr. Miyagi"-like training scenes in the song "Zum Zum Mare."
"Yes, hitting you with a stick is an approximation of what it will feel like when Subbaraju kicks you.
No, I'm not just doing it because I want to hit you with a stick."

Aathi (Tamil, 2006)
Fun-loving dad and uncle.
Date watched: 7/21/10
Role TypePrakash Dad/Prakash Cop
The story: Anjali (Trisha) and Aadhi (Vijay) meet at college, cross paths in their quests for justice/revenge, and fall in love.
Justice loving IPS officer.
Movie Rating: 4/5  This was one of the (somewhat rare) SI films, where I got really caught up in the suspense and all of the plot twists and turns. The movie starts out with Trisha stabbing a guy in the gut, and I was immediately hooked. The other plot twists worked well for me, and I liked the performances from Vijay, Trisha, and especially Nasser (as Anjali's uncle) and Manivannan (as Aadhi's adoptive father.) Sai Kumar and all of his henchmen were scary and intimidating. The flashback scenes were done well; all of the happy scenes with the joint family gave me a bigger sense of loss when the tragic events started to unfold.
Prakash Raj Rating: 4/5 Prakash Raj plays an upright police officer and doting father/uncle in the flashback. I didn't realize he was in this, so it was a delightful surprise when his character was introduced. He did a great job of making the character likeable in the home scenes, and you were rooting for him in all of the scenes with the bad guys, so it was especially sad when his character met his end.

1 comment:

  1. Aadhi is a remake of Telugu Athanokkade :) Try this one too, I heard it's better.


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