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 20, 2010

Round-up for October 2010

Hello, dears!
October was busy--a trip to NYC, then across Pennsylvania, then we had various friends and family in town--so I didn't have much time to blog, other than the Prakash Squash Tolloween post.  The good news is that I did manage to squeeze in some movie-watching.  I'm going to do a round-up of the Prakash Raj movies I watched, with the idea that this will be a monthly feature, and a way for me to go back and talk about the movies I'd seen before I started the blog.

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (10/31/10):   7
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 10/31/10): 53

Vellitherai (Tamil, 2008)
"I am a struggling actor. See me project 'happiness.'"
Date watched: 10/4/10
Role Type: Prakash Pal/Prakash Bad
The storyKanniah (Prakash Raj) plays a struggling actor in the Tamil film industry. Saravanan (Prithviraj) is a slightly more established assistant director/screenwriter with aspirations of directing his own films. Kanniah commits intellectual property theft and becomes a major star, while Saravanan's fortunes decline. The whole thing resolves itself in a fun riff on a set-up that I'd seen in Bowfinger.  This is a remake of the Malayalam film Udayananu Tharam, which was also remade in Hindi as Shortcut The Con is On. There are a lot of fun behind-the-scenes references to the Tamil (and Telugu) film industries, which reminded me a little bit of Luck by Chance. 
Movie Rating: 3.5/5  I loved all of the film industry settings and dramas, and the romance scenes with Prithvi and Gopika (as a successful actress with a manipulative uncle.) I wasn't as excited how OTT Kanniah became in the second half, and there was a long dragging section before the comedic resolution kicked in.
Prakash Raj Rating: 4.5/5  This was a pretty substantial role.  All of the scenes at the beginning were amazing, I really felt for Kanniah, and his desperation to move beyond "extra" status. (I just realized that he totally reminded me of Andy Millman/Ricky Gervais in Extras.) It was disappointing that once Kanniah steals the script and becomes a star, all of that pathos is lost, and he's mostly an egotistical, evil caricature. However, it was totally fun to watch Prakash Raj ham-it-up as Kanniah dances and acts in big-budget movies, is a terror on the set, and finally gets his comeuppance.
This song is particularly fun:

Little John (Hindi, 2001)
"I'm a semi-nude version of Charleton Heston in the Ten Commandments"
Date watched: 10/12/10
Role Type: Prakash Bad
The story: This is basically a family movie (I think it may have been originally in Tamil, but I watched the dubbed Hindi version.) The plot didn't really stick with me, but there's a magical nose ring that is stolen/lost from a temple. 
Kalabhairavan (Prakash Raj) is an evil magician who is trying to get it. Bentley Mitchum plays John, an American who has come to study the temple. Jyothika is the daughter of his host family, and the two young folks fall in love. Nasser plays the swami that is helping John to understand the temple/history/mysticism, and at some point he shrinks John so that he can find the nosering/evade the bad guys (?-I really can't remember.) There's a happy ending for the good guys and a bad ending for the bad guys.
Movie Rating: 2/5  It wasn't as cheese-tastic as I was hoping it would be.  On the plus side, the cross-cultural stuff with the visiting American was actually pretty sweet, and Jyothika can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.  My biggest complaint was there was really only about 20 minutes near the end when John was "little."   If I were a kid who had been promised shrunken-people hijinks, I'd be sorely disappointed.
Prakash Raj Rating: 1.5/5  Kalabhairavan didn't have much screen time, and since he was mostly alone, howling in his cave, there wasn't a lot of juicy, villainy dialogue.  I'm scoring the points almost entirely on the costuming and make-up, and the way that Prakash Raj totally owned the craziness and (hopefully) fake belly.

Brindaavanam (Telugu, 2010)
"I can lift my eyebrow!"
Date watched: 10/18/10
Role Type: Prakash Dad
The story:  Jr. NTR's girlfriend convinces him to go to the village to save her cousin from an arranged marriage.  While he's there he patches things up between two feuding families, beats up the bad groom and his goondas, and has two heroines in love with him. (I may add more once I see it with subtitles.)
Movie Rating: 3/5  Good, solid entertainer. The scenery and the dancing were great, and I liked all of the different family members.
Prakash Raj Rating: 3/5  Prakash plays the father of the cousin/heroine. I'll have to wait for the dvd to catch his name. It's a fairly standard, stern father role that he's played before in movies like Kadhal Sadugudu. As with Kadhal Sadugudu, it's fun to watch Prakash stomping around in a formal white shirt and lungi, glowering angrily at everyone.

Khaleja (Telugu, 2010)
"I look cool, even between takes."
Date watched: 10/18/10
Role Type: Prakash Bad
The story: Mahesh is a cab driver who ends up in Rajasthan and saves a village from the direct effects and side effects of the machinations of evil business guy G.K. (Prakash Raj). There's more, but as with Brindaavanam, I saw it without subtitles.
Movie Rating: temporary 3/5  I enjoyed the leads, the dances, and the action, but it didn't quite stick with me as much as I was hoping. I hear that the dialogues are pretty central to the film, so I think I'll like it more after subtitles.
Prakash Raj Rating: 2.5/5 This is a pretty standard urban bad guy role. As I recall, we didn't see G.K. directly doing anything bad until the end, mostly he just fumed, ordered his henchman around, and wore a variety of random suits.

Padayappa (Tamil, 1999)
"I am bewildered by the machinations of Padayappa's relatives."
Date watched: 10/21/10
Role Type: Prakash Cop
The story: (It's been over a month since I watched this, so we'll see how much I remember!) Rajnikanth is the engineer son of a beloved landlord. He comes home to visit, falls in love with the daughter of a family retainer, meanwhile the rich daughter of his uncle falls in love with him.  Evil uncle and relatives plot to kick Rajni's family out of the house, Rajini takes his family and finds success by starting a quarry, and marries his love. Spurned girl cousin waits it out in a room for 20 years, then plots the downfall of Rajni's daughter by having her nephew trick her into loving him.  Prakash Raj shows up as the local IPS officer near the end.
Movie Rating: temporary 3/5  This had lots of twists and turns, AND the plot had a lot of similarities to Indra, which I saw after this, so it didn't really stick with me.  Rajnikanth was enjoyable, and the soundtrack by A.R. Rahman had some nice songs.  Soundarya played the heroine, and she had some nice comedy moments. It always bums me out that she's no longer alive.
Prakash Raj Rating: 2/5 Prakash Raj only showed up for a few minutes. He plays the cop who is initially hoodwinked by the evil uncles, but then is convinced by something (can't recall) to help Rajni's character. I enjoyed this one for the beard--I think he must have been filming this at the same time as Rajakumari (Telugu movie with Mahesh Babu.)

Indra (Telugu, 2002)
"I bought this phone from Gordon Gekko in 1989."
Date watched: 10/22/10
Role Type: Prakash Dad
The story: Indra (Chiranjeevi) dances, battles power-crazed relatives, and has two heroines in love with him.  Along the way, he  locks horns with is Governor Chenna Kesava Reddy (Prakash Raj), who is also the father of another important character in the film. (This had a lot of things in common with Padaiyappa. Padaiyappa  had a montage of Rajini doing construction in his quarry, Indra had a montage of Chiru building a resevoir. And embittered, spurned lovers using their nephews to enact their revenge on the hero via his daughter/niece.)
Movie Rating: 4/5  In my opinion, this was a solid, masala entertainer. Chiru was in fine form, and I liked Sonali Bendre and Arti Agarwal as the heroines. The comedy tracks were fairly well integrated into the film, and there was lots of classic, Tollywood machete action.
Prakash Raj Rating: 2.5/5  The role that Prakash Raj was playing wasn't the most interesting role, but he did a good job with the 3-4 scenes he had.  I always enjoy this type of character, that occasionally shows up in Telugu films--it's the guy (or guys or ladies) that when everything is going crazy with angry relatives or factionalists, is the sort of Greek chorus, saying "hey, this is all crazy."

Rakhi (Telugu, 2006)
"I am judiciously deliberating."
Date watched: 10/31/10
Role Type: Prakash Cop*
The story: After a tragic loss, Rakhi (Jr. NTR) is on a mission to bring flaming justice  to men who abuse women. Ileanna plays his reporter girlfriend, and Prakash has a tiny part near the end.
Movie Rating:  4/5  This is one of my favorite Jr. NTR movies. The second half is full of creative ways to kill bad guys using fire. I liked that Illeana's character was pretty spunky, and helped him with some of the logistics of his revenge plan.
Prakash Raj Rating: 2.5/5 This was definitely a cameo, but I thought he was nicely subdued in the role of the judge who presides over Rakhi's trial. *I'm classifying this as Prakash Cop, because this role functions similarly to the other "Cop" roles, as an outsider to the main action and a supporter of justice/the law.

"I will see you with more movies to discuss in November!"

1 comment:

  1. Wow you did see alot in October! Wish I managed to increase my Prakash viewing. I saw Khaleja and Brindaavanam and Rakhi. As usual am behind on Tamil films. I will try check out vellitherai and have Indhu waiting. Hopefully I will get caught up on some prakash Awesome over Thanksgiving. Great run down of the films and Prakash's roles!


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