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.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Round-up for December 2009

Monthly Prakash Raj Movie Total (December, 2009): 2
Overall Prakash Raj Movie Total (as of 12/31/09): 15
Going all the way back to 2009! This month featured two Prakash Raj supporting role staples: the crazy guy in a mass film, and bemused voice of reason in a class film.

Murari (Telugu, 2001)
Date watched: 12/20/10
Role TypePrakash Bad
The story: In debt to the British, a landowner/prince (Prakash Raj) attempts to steal the Durga Devi statue from the temple. This places a curse on his family, and one descendant is killed every 48 years. Murari (Mahesh Babu) is the latest heir, who must try and bring family peace and end the curse, in order to marry his sweetheart (Sonali Bendre) and live happily ever after.
Movie Rating: 3.5/5  It was nice to see Mahesh in a sweet film about village families, and there was nice chemistry between the romantic leads, even if the dubbing for Sonali was much too shrill. My favorite things about this film were the scenes with Murari's elephant buddy, and when Murari rescues a snake.
Prakash Raj Rating: 2/5 It's one scene, where he is a delightfully hammy drunk and seems to be wearing Jackie Shroff's hair.
Best Prakash Raj Scene: He's only in the film for a few minutes at the beginning. Why not just watch the whole thing:


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Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil, 2002)
Date watched: 12/28/10
Role TypePrakash Pal
The story: On her ninth birthday, Amudha (P.S. Keerthana) learns from her parents Thiruchelvan (Madhavan) and Indira (Simran) that she is adopted, and thats her birth mother was a Tamilian refugee from Sri Lanka. Amudha convinces her parents to take her to Sri Lanka to find her mother (Nandita Das), where they are helped by Professor Vikramsinghe (Prakash Raj) and meet a rebel/LTTE/Tamil Tigers leader (Pasupathy.)

Movie Rating: 5/5 The scenes and the storyline with the conflict in Sri Lanka were well done. Mani Ratnam introduced Nandita Das and JD Chakraborty's characters in a very sweet, romantic way, then showed the aftermath of the violence, but not the actual violence itself. I thought this technique struck a good balance for transitioning to the modern story, and laid the groundwork for the more explicit war scenes in the second half of the film.  I loved all of the scenes with Amudha's family--the sibling squabbles, the grandfather spoiling them, and how she manipulated her cousin. I also liked that Amudha and Indira had a developmentally appropriate, prickly relationship. The flashback romance between Thiruchelvan and Indira also sucked me in, and I liked how their general personalities and flaws carried through in the present-day scenes.
I also thought it was also an interesting and nuanced look at adoption in general.. There's a scene when they meet all of the refugees leaving the village, and they find a Shyama who turns out not to be the right one. This brief interaction between the adoptive parents, who are urban, educated and middle-class, and this village woman was pretty powerful, and probably similar to that first meeting between adoptive parents and birth parents in lots of situations around the world.
Prakash Raj Rating: 3.75/5 It seems like big purpose of the character of Vikramsinghe is to deliver exposition about the situation in Sri Lanka, but I also liked how the character added to the story in his relationship with Thiruchelvan, as sort of the ideal "fan" for the writer. It's another fun, bon-vivant-type character, who gets some serious moments, so of course Prakash Raj imbues the character with a lot of depth. (I'm also curious if there are any Indian-held stereotypes of Sinhala people that are getting played on in this portrayal.)
Best Prakash Raj Scenes: 
*Vikramsinghe and Thiruchelvan are walking in the cane fields and are ambushed by the LTTE. Vikramsinghe is shouting for Thiruchelvan to save himself by identifying himself as a famous Tamil writer. When they realize that the LTTE soldiers may know Amudha's birth mother, Vikramsinghe  recklessly gets in the face of the rebel leader, even though just moments before he was being carted off to possible execution:


*In all of the scenes with Amudha, I continue to be really impressed with his ability to act really naturally with kids, and it probably elicits a stonger performance from the kids.

I love how this shot is framed.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for recapping what you watched of Prakash! I loved both Murari and Kannathil Muthamittal

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  2. My most favourite scene with him in KM was when he meets Amudha (actually one of my fav scenes in the whole movie, which I love sunstantially less than most people). I see you noticed it as well. Their interaction was such a delight to watch, and so natural! You're right: he really is gifted with children.

    And sort of off topic: why do we have to wait until 2009 is done for all those fun cappy posts to come??? *whines* Can't we have them sooner? Pleeeeease :D

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  3. I need to finish 2009 so that I have a complete library of screencaps from which to draw inspiration. Picture posts coming by the end of the month!

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