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, January 2, 2016

Round-Up for December 2015

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total: 10  (December, 2015)
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total: 307 (as of 12/31/15)
Mr. Airavata, Mr. Rascal, Love Story 1999, Maa Aavida Meeda Vottu Mee Aavida Chala Manchidi,  Khiladi Gandu, Bhoolagam, JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkkai, Pilla Nuvvu Leni Jeevitham, Neetho, Tropical Heat
I started December with just one film on my “to watch” list, so I planned that I’d watch that film between the holidays and be all caught up. Then Mr. Airavata, which was released this past summer, became available to watch (through methods.)  So that meant I’d see two films in December. Then I got a google alert that Boolaham was finally going to be released on December 24. I went to IMDB to confirm the release date, and discovered another 9 (nine!) films that were not on my list AND were all available either online or to rent. So I went from 1 film to 10 in December, and I’m delaying my “all caught-up” post for January.
Theme of the month: scenes at the racetrack:

Mr. Airavata (Kannada, 2015)
Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles.) A supercop (Darshan) eliminates criminals in his city, and his transferred to new place. He rides his motorcycle around the city, exercises by running against horses at the racetrack, and is stalked by the heroine (Urvashi Rautela.) He saves a school bus full of kids from disaster, which is somehow connected to the main criminal in town (Prakash Raj.)
Thoughts on the film: I enjoyed the over-the-top manliness of the main character, and I’m always amused by the “heroine pursues the reluctant hero” plots.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Pretty run-of-the-mill bad guy.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Some nicely framed shots, and a dramatic death by shipping container.

Mr. Rascal (Telugu, 2011)
Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Uncle/Cop
The Story:  (Watched w/out subtitles.) Troublemaker Ravi (Parachuri Ravindranath)gets sent to Vizag to live with his policeman uncle (Prakash Raj.) He videotapes a couple who are having an extramarital affair on a golf course, and blackmails the woman. He uses the blackmail money to take his friends to Bangkok, where he meets and romances Sowndarya (Payal Ghosh.) Back in Vizag, Ravi get caught up in Sowndarya’s troubles, and has second thoughts about the blackmail plot. He decides to go straight, but may have crossed the wrong people.
Thoughts on the film: It was interesting that the hero started out as a “rascal” who was doing actual harm to other people. I wish there’d been subtitles so that I could understand what was going on with the blackmailed wife and her husband.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He was mostly in the background as the uncle-cop, it didn’t seem like the character really impacted the plot at all.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: All of the scenes where he's being supportive of the nephew, even when he screwed up.


Love Story 1999 (Telugu, 1998)
Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: Krishna (Vadde Naveen) meets cute with Meena (Laila). Her mother (Jayachitra) is in a fight with rival club owner DK Bose (Prakash Raj). There are all kinds of hijinks between the couple and their friends (Prabhudeva, Rambha, Ramya Krishnan) and machinations between the mom and DK Bose, which culminate in a kidnapping gone awry and a song/fight scene.
Thoughts on the film: All of the dances with  Prabhudeva were of course fantastic, and the bickering between DK Bose and the mom were great.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: A fun, chatty bad guy with fantastic costumes,
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Always screaming on the phone, and the song-to-fight with Prabhudeva.

Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Pal?
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles) Praveen (Naveen) and Subadra (Raasi)  are set to elope, but don’t. Years later, they are married to different people, and become neighbors. The original pair contemplates reigniting their romance, travels to Goa where they meet another couple who divorced their own spouses (Prakash Raj and Avantika). They have second thoughts, return home, and after various dramas decide to stick with their original spouses.
Thoughts on the film: As always, kind of interesting to hark back to time when the Telugu industry was making more films that weren’t entirely hero-centric, and focus on existing marital relationships. Note: this may get the prize for Prakash Raj film with the longest title.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Lots of fun scenes at the beach, where you get that he’s a friendly, but maybe not morally upright guy.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Lurking at the beach and later giving out medical advice.

Kiladi Gandu (Kannada, 1991)
Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles- this was a challenge, so synopsis is my best guess.) College students start a sweet romance, but a rival guy and his gang (including Prakash Raj) try to undermine them. The bad guys convince the guy in the couple to help them carry the Ganesh statue into the water, where they drown him. A cop (Tiger Prabhakar) comes to investigate. There’s someone who looks just like the drowned guy. There’s a trial, the rival is convicted, then shot and killed by masked men. It turns out the murder was faked by the bad guy’s rich father, and in the end the woman gets justice by driving over the evil father and son. There were other girls in the story, and maybe a cocaine smuggling plot.
Thoughts on the film: I enjoyed that the plot was complex enough to confuse me. Ganesh Chaturthi/Vināyaka Caturthi seems to be a great setting for criminals to kill people in Indian films.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: It was fun to see a young Prakash Raj as part of the gang that mostly hang around the lead bad guy and nod at his lines. I thought he might not have any lines, but he did.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Drowning the heroine's boyfriend, then testifying and maybe perjuring himself in court.

Bhoolagam (Tamil, 2015)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Bad
The Story:  (Watched w/out subtitles.) A Chennai  boxer, Bhoolagam (Jayam Ravi) trains to defeat a the local Chennai champion, then goes on to fight  more opponents, including an egotistical American boxer. He romances Gowri (Trisha.)
Thoughts on the film: A review said that it covered a particular subculture of North Madras, so that was interesting. I watched it the day after I saw Creed, so it was interesting to compare them. They both used a structure of three key, filmed boxing matches and both highlighted the media hype around the sport, and how opponents psychologically battle through the media before they ever get in the ring.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He plays the media mogul who orchestrates the fight. Another review compared it to his character in Size Zero, but this one didn’t seem as fun and slimy.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Lots of talking. This was filmed a few years ago, and I think he's lost weight since then, and this particular illicitly-filmed version of the movie distorted him a lot.

Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Rival
The Story: JK (Sharwanand) starts a series of business with his friends. They find success, and his college friend Nithya (Nithya Menen) becomes his main business partner. JK is challenged by his former business mentor (Prakash Raj), but rebounds, only to meet further challenges.
Thoughts on the film: It was kind of all over the place. The business successes seemed a little too easily won to be dramatically compelling and the two health plotlines were treated so differently that it undermined the impact of either one.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: He does a great motivational speech, and then was nicely threatening in later scenes.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Giving JK business advice, then threatening him over a pool table.

Date watched:

Role Type:
Prakash Politician/Bad
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles- hard to follow without subtitles, so this is based on reviews and what I think happened.) The film starts with a journalist (Shafi) investigating a politician (Sayaji Shinde), then cuts to Srinu (Sai Dharam Teja) hiring contract killer Maisamma (Jagapati Babu). Flashback to Srinu’s romance with Shailaja (Regina Cassandra.) Something goes wrong with their romance. Maisamma tries to kill Shailaja, but Srinu saves her and then she saves him. It turns out that Maisamma is working for the politician who seemed good (Prakash Raj) but they have a falling out. Ultimately hero and heroine confront the politician, and force him to reform.
Thoughts on the film: I think that Maisamma was probably the most interesting character in the film, who was alternately portrayed as being a rogue, a murderer and then a righteous opponent to the real bad guy.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film: Not a huge role, but had a fun confrontation scene with Jagapati Babu.
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: Arguing on the phone, cowering in fear. Bonus: great scene where the heroine pushes the injured hero away from the bad guys on a railroad handcart.

Neetho (Telugu, 2002)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Dad
The Story: (Watched w/out subtitles) College student and millionaire’s son in disguise, Madhav (Prakash) falls in love with hot-tempered Shalini (Mehek.) She rejects him, but he convinces her to pretend that she’s in love with him for 30 days. At the end of the period, she rejects him, even though she’s secretly in love with him. She decides to tell him, but learns he’s rich and doesn’t want him to think she’s a golddigger. In the end, he chases her to the airport for a big romantic reunion.
Thoughts on the film: Two things were interesting about this: 1) the plot could totally work as a Korean drama, especially since the heroine’s actions and thoughts drove a chunk of the plot at the end. 2) the lead actor, Prakash Kovelamudi, directed Size Zero.
Thoughts on Prakash Raj in the film:  He plays the millionaire father, who is very supportive of his son and encourages him to go to the girl in the end. .
Favorite Prakash Raj Scenes: A song, lots of delightful early 2000's outfits, tearfully encouraging the hero, and triumphant, theatrical bow at the end.

Tropical Heat (English, 1993)
Date watched:
Role Type:
Prakash Cop
This one really needs it’s own post, so I’ll be doing a December addendum.


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