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.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Round-up for February 2015

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (February, 2015): 6
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 2/28/15): 214
Nila, Chamtkara, Gunshot, Dhinamum Ennai Gavani, Shanti Shanti Shanti, Preminchedi Endukamma

Digging deep. One positive of taking a long break is that a whole lot of older movies that I couldn't find on dvd 3 years ago are now available online, so was able to cross off a lot of films from the 1990s.

Highlights of the month: Prakash Raj characters holding people at gunpoint in cars.

Nila  (Tamil, 1994)
Date watched: 2/5/15
Role Type: Prakash Guy
The Story: (watched without subtitles) Straightforward village guy (Jayaram) and his mother take care of young girl with mental disability (she acts like she's 6, she's in her 20s. Another girl becomes interested in him, but guy (after chiding from mom) marries Nila. Nila and guy get closer and she nearly burns down the house. A few scenes later, it’s shown that Nila is pregnant. Nila has an anxiety attack because of celebratory firecrackers and ends up in the hospital, where she delivers the baby and they do some treatment where she listens to sound of firecrackers. She wakes up, returned to her previous self, and is shocked that she is married with a baby. In a flashback, we see her about to marry a different fiance (Prakash Raj), when series of explosions cause her to lose her memory and run away. Guy tries to see Nila, but she rejects him and the baby. Her parents and fiance agree that the best plan is to give the baby to guy and his mother, who head out of town. Suddenly, Nila realizes she has to be with her child, and goes to live in the village  to give baby to jayaram and his mom, they head out, but nila decides she can't give up her child, and goes to live in the village with guy.
Thoughts on the film: It had some interesting places, I wish I’d understood more of what went into the decision behind the hero marrying Nila, as well as the discussion in the last 30 minutes about what would be best for Nila and the baby.There’s probably some interesting social story themes in there.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film:  He shows up late as the fiance, and has a few moments of jogging, laughing, and then looking anguished.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: This may be the first filmed example of a Prakash Raj character in a hospital bed!

Chamtkara  (Kannada, 1992)
Date watched: 2/7/15
Role Type: Prakash Bad
The Story: From Shemaroo Kannada youtube The rising business tycoon Shankar, wants to smuggle his gold biscuits abroad. To gain success in this mission he meets Mohan, a goldsmith by profession. Shankar's little secret surface's when Mohan's boss gets a doubt about this and so is killed by Shankar. To cover the truth inspector Anand gets to the tail of this case but gains no information. After several ups and downs he catches hold of Mohan and gets to the core of the case. Will Shankar be spared with his gold?
Thoughts on the film: (watched without subtitles) This seemed like two different films stuck together: the first film was the police officers romance with the doctor and his rivalry with his friend, then the second film was the long flashback with Mohan, the goldsmith. The “twist” at the end (where it’s revealed that it was someone else in disguise as Mohan, and Mohan was just a skeleton in a basement?) was bizarre, and mostly amusing.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Another film from his bearded period. Even in one of his early films, he had a more fully developed, engaging bad guy, with a great collection of sweaters and t-shirts.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: wearing sweaters, snorting coke, and drowning his girlfriend in Goa.


Gunshot (Telugu, 1996)
Date Watched: 2/15/2015
Role Type: Prakash Bad
The Story (watched without subtitles): This was super confusing, so I’m just guessing here: Ali is a bumbling barber, and in the first half has some comedy scenes with Brahmanandam and Kota Srinivasa Rao. In the second half, he gives a ride to a beret-wearing Prakash Raj, who takes Ali hostage. the bad guy becomes convinced that Ali is his dead child, and makes Ali do all of these things he would do with his kid: playing games, having Ali rest his head on PR’s lap when driving.
Thoughts on the film: Very odd, but also interesting to think back to 20 years ago, when there were still films based around the Telugu comedians, without a big hero star.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: I don't think I've seen his particular kind of crazy evil with the daddy issues before, so that was a plus.Favorite Prakash Raj scenes: A song where the main characters dance around in the rain, with the gun.
Assorted parent-by-proxy weirdness.


Dhinamum Ennai Gavani (Tamil, 1997)
Date watched: 2/15/2015
Role Type: Prakash Bad
The Story: from wikipedia Rolex (Prakash Raj) is a smart international smuggler on the run. The fearless Assistant Commissioner Jai Kumar (Ramki) arrests kim. Jai Kumar and Raji (Sanghavi) are in love, then they get married. Rolex wants to take revenge on Jai Kumar by his way. Later, he escapes from the jail and fakes his own death. What transpires later forms the crux of the story.
Thoughts on the film:  After the confusing/weird plots of Gunshot and Chamtkara, this was a refreshingly straightforward crime thriller. It was interesting that the (bland) hero and his story mostly took a back-seat to the charismatic antics of the bad guy.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: A delightful ball of revenge, who’s very trigger happy: he shoots partygoers, his parole board, a guy who says hello when he’s trying to escape, his accomplice, and (tragically) the comedy police officer, played by Vadivelu. 
So many crazy looks!


Shanti Shanti Shanti (Tamil, 1998)
Date watched: 2/21//2015
Role Type: Prakash Bad
The Story: from wikipedia: There is Murthy, the rich but frugal papa, and his two college-going kids, Siddhartha (Madhavan) and Shanti (Prema). Given papa's ways, the two kids feel a bit shackled, and yearn constantly for the good life. Matters come to a head when Siddharth wants to play the guitar at a college function, Shanti wants to take part in the fashion parade—both need money and, of course, papa isn't in the mood to indulge such extravagance. Enter Raju (Abbas). A foundling brought up by Sumitra, who ekes out a living running an idli stall, Raju is a diehard Rajinikanth fan, working in a garage to help make both ends meet. Trouble begins when Raju loses his job, has a drink or three to ease the angst, and finds himself standing outside Siddharth-Shanti's home, gaping from outside at what he imagines is the rich life within.
At this point the family car rams into him. Raju is quickly carted inside the home by papa's servants—with a foreign delegation due any minute, the last thing he needs is embarrassment outside his gates. Raju is tucked up in bed. Not that there is anything wrong with him, but he figures he might as well play possum and enjoy as much of the 'rich' life as he can get.
The carefree lad makes friends with Sidharth and Shanti, listens to their vows, and promises to help them out. The threesome set off in papa's precious vintage car—and the movie from there on turns into a caper, revolving around the events of one frenetic day. Raju and Shanti become romantic, Siddharth pairs up with Suji, a baddie (Prakash Raj) comes into the equation, and a kidnapping goes wrong as Raju is mistaken for Siddharth. How the foursome get out of the mess is what the rest of the movie is all about.
Thoughts on the film (watched without subtitles):  The middle part of the film, with the rich, sheltered siblings breaking free with the poor, carefree pair reminded me a little bit of Ishq, which came out a year before this, so that make sense. It was fun to see young Madhavan, and Abbas when he was probably close to the height of his stardom.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: The character had white/platinum hair, which may have been a significant character choice?
Favorite Prakash Raj scenes: This was another film this month when Prakash Raj’s character pointed a gun at someone in a car, and had an entertaining big fight with Abbas at the end.

Preminchedi Endukamma (Tamil, 1998)
Date watched: 2/28//2015
Role Type: Prakash Dad
The Story: from wikipedia: Sunil (Anil) is a carefree college student. Swapna (Maheswari) is his classmate. Sunil loves Swapna and vice versa. Jagan (PrakashRaj) is the father and the only parent of Swapna, who is obsessed with the well-being of his beloved daughter. Sunil and Jagan have a few showdowns. Jagan do not like the attitude of Sunil. When Swapna confides Jagan that she is in love, he is visibly delighted. His excitement becomes a short-lived one as he realizes later that his daughter's choice is none but the cockish Sunil. Swapna is torn in between her guy's amorous love and her father's obsessive love. Finally Jagan plays the inevitable trick most of the girl's fathers do play these days. He threatens Swapna that he will go for a suicide as he will have no one left to take care of him if she chooses to marry Sunil… As we head for the climax we have the emotional Sunil asking Swapna why she loved him first (Preminchedi Endukamma?, title justified!) and then abide by her father's directive… Sunil chooses to walk on a rail track as a super fast express is marching onto him. Swapna looks helpless as her father and her lover are at the loggerheads. Her lover is going to be dead in a couple of minutes if she does not react. If she reacts then her father with go for a suicide.
Thoughts on the film (watched without subtitles): Not great, reminded me of other films with PR as the doting father, but not as good. The relationship between the father and heroine was weird.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: From the beard era, the character’s creepy dedication to manipulating of his daughter made this not so much fun to watch.
Favorite Prakash Raj scenes:
Cooking for his daughter.
Arguing with Srihari.

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