The love story, between the revolutionary thinker and writer Shyam Singha Roy (Nani) and the young Devadasi Mythiri (Sai Pallavi) set in the late sixties in Bengal, is what makes this new release from Tollywood on Netflix stand out. After watching ‘Shyam Singha Roy’, you feel that the Telugu director Rahul Sankrityan (2018 Vijay Deverakonda’s ‘Taxiwalla’) seems to have invested all his creative energies in just framing the charming romance of this talented pair that appears as part of a flashback.
Sankrityan however doesn’t seem to have spent time shaping the narrative of the present day plot of an aspiring Telugu filmmaker Vasu Ghanta (also played by Nani) that runs parallel to this period romance. Quickly, after some scenes in which he woos Keerthi Shetty to act in his short film, Vasu goes on to make a successful Telugu film. This film is so successful that it is going to be remade in Hindi (the ultimate sign for a regional filmmaker that he has arrived in the Indian film industry!). But, the police storm the press conference and arrest him for plagiarism. A leading Bengali publisher has accused Vasu of copying the earlier works of a popular leftist writer, Shyam Singha Roy, who lived in the 60s.
Vasu is baffled because he cannot read Bengali. Neither has he heard of this writer. Keerthi Shetty, who is luckily a psychologist and her lawyer cousin (Madonna Sebastian) and his friend (Abhinav Gomatam) get together to help him. Not to forget Keerthi’s professor, Leela Samson (dancer and former director of Kalakshetra, who has found an alternative career in acting) hypnotises Vasu and manages to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The film is entirely driven by Nani and Pallavi. Her dancing, her secret night trysts with Nani by the riverbank are enchanting and brims with poetic mysticism. ‘Shyam Singha Roy’ has been shot by Sanu John Verghese (‘Vishwapooram’, ‘Malik’ fame), and the portions of the film shot in a fictional village in Bengal and Kolkata city are rich in colours, textures and composition.
The film, which landed last weekend, is worth a watch for Nani, who completely slips into the role of the fiery writer, fighting caste injustice and slavery and oppression of women in the name of God, and for Pallavi’s dancing and acting. In fact, Pallavi, who dances like dream in the film, posted a few BTS dance videos from the film on her Instagram page. Check it out.
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OTT platform pays tribute to Puneeth Rajkumar
After being largely ignored by the OTT space for over two years, Kannada cinema too seems to be finally muscling its way in. Besides the biggest Republic Day release, Prithviraj Sukumaran’s directorial, the Malayalam film, ‘Bro Daddy’ with superstar Mohanlal on Disney+Hotstar, Kannada film ‘Badava Rascal’ released as well on Voot platform. The film revolves around an auto driver’s son falling in love with a politician’s daughter. This middle-class drama with loads of action stars Dhananjaya, who has had six releases this year, which includes the Telugu blockbuster ‘Pushpa: The rise’ and the late Puneeth Rajkumar’s ‘Yuvarathnaa’.
Also read: OTT: Tamil anthology taps pandemic plots; lowdown on human trials & obsessive love
Incidentally, Amazon Prime Video has decided to honour the late actor by releasing three new Kannada movies from his production company, PRK Productions besides screening five of his films for free from February 1 for a month.
The first of the three Kannada movies from his production house to land on OTT is Danish Sait’s ‘One Cut Two Cut’. This racy comedy focusses on one mad day in the life of an arts and crafts teacher Gopi (played by Danish Sait).
According to the synopsis, Gopi’s first day at work becomes a task of saving the school which has been taken hostage by four radical social media activists. Danish Sait says in a statement, “In this film, the viewers will see Gopi landing into a hostage situation and taking on social media activists, in his own quirky and innocent style…” The film also features Prakash Belavadi and Samyukta Hornad. ‘One Cut Two Cut’ happens to be one of the last production projects kick-started by Puneeth Rajkumar before his untimely death last year.
Ode to a one-eyed weasel
In the event of the so–popular ‘Ice Age’ franchise completing two decades, one of the most favourite characters in the film, one-eyed Buck, gets this stand-alone film, ‘Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild’. This new animated film comes after a six-year gap in the franchise, and this time it follows the adventures of the weasel Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg), who was introduced in ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’.
Eager for a little independence, the thrill-seeking possum brothers Crash and Eddie (remember them?) set out to find a place of their own but soon find themselves trapped beneath the ice in a massive cave inhabited by dinosaurs. They are rescued by brave Buck, who is the new ringleader not afraid to throw himself into death-defying adventures. Naturally, this means he puts himself in danger and ends up needing to be rescued by other beloved Ice Age heroes, the woolly mammoths Manfred and Ellie, Sid, the prehistoric sloth, and the sabre-toothed tiger Diego.
All of this takes place in The Lost World, “the most dangerous place on Earth” that houses giant predators, traps and everything an animal who isn’t at the top of the food chain should try to avoid. The Ice Age franchise premiered in 2002, and its worldwide gross of over $300 million put Blue Sky animation studio on the map. Unfortunately, this studio had to shut down due to the economic impact of the pandemic and this latest instalment has been produced by animation studio Bardel Entertainment.
Zombie outbreak in a Korean school
What more can lovers of K-dramas want? A zombie movie, after making us all wild-eyed with the high-stakes, brutal drama, ‘Squid Game’, now comes ‘All of Us are Dead’, which releases on Netflix this weekend. This series depicts a zombie outbreak that swiftly overwhelms a typical Korean high school. After introducing the characters, and some vicious school bullies tormenting their victim, this series turns into a high-pitched survival drama as the characters hide out in different parts of the school and some in different areas of the fictional Hyosan town.
As they learn to make peace with their predicament, these characters try to find ways to get together and make it out of the zombie zone. It has 12 episodes of one hour each, which makes the series long, while ‘Squid Game’ had nine episodes and had a quick pace. Early foreign reviews have warned that the series tends to drag and there’s predictably a lot of blood and gore. Some have raised concerns about some of the “moral” implications behind the social commentary in the film. But, in this game for capturing eyeballs in a pandemic, anything goes.
For some light relief, Netflix has another offering, which seems like it may be fun. It mocks Hollywood’s famous thrillers in this genre particularly Amy Adams’ ‘Woman at the Window’ and Emily Blunt’s The Girl on the Train’. The series’ title is a mouthful: ‘The Woman in the House across the Street from the Girl in the Window’ and this eight-part series is a spoof on this kind of genre.
There’s heartbroken Anna (Kristen Bell), who sits with her wine, staring out the window, watching life go by without her. Her husband a psychologist had taken their little daughter to work but on that particular day he was supposed to interview a murderer, who is a cannibal. So, after their daughter’s gruesome death, her husband leaves her and she is alone with her misery. But when a handsome neighbor (Tom Riley) and his adorable daughter (Samsara Yett) move in across the street, Anna starts to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That is until she witnesses a gruesome murder… Or did she?
It is a darkly comedic, wine-soaked, satirical slant on the psychological thriller that will have you guessing who, what, where, why and how in the hell? Check it out.