Southern Comfort

19 Sep
Southern Comfort

There are people out there who need to medicate their obsessive selves. And then there are folks who manage to exert a bit of control over their compulsions – I choose to channel it into tight spirals of in-depth immersion to burn the subject down to manageable levels. Whenever this happens to me, which is more often than it ought, I describe it as having fallen into a wormhole and I hope to come out the other side.

My wormhole for the past week or so has been Mahesh Babu. It’s sort of mystifying – I saw Pokiri a while back and I was perfectly fine putting it out of my mind. Then I saw Athadu on Cinema Chaat’s recommendation and it was hello-madness-my-old-friend time again.

However, while the rules of the wormhole dictate that I must ceaselessly hunt down and devour every last bit of everything connected to the central subject, it does not demand I lobotomize myself in the process. In the present case of Mahesh Babu, for instance, I was perfectly able to understand that the man has oodles of that mysterious-yet-all-important It factor that marks a charismatic star, while recognizing that half the stuff I was watching (particularly the early movies although the fairly-recent, pseudo-scifi, pedotastic-by-inference, all around weird fantasy Naani co-starring Ameesha Patel was pretty terrible too) was almost irredeemably bad.

There’s Takkari Donga, for instance: apparently an homage to father Krishna’s groundbreaking portrayal of a cowboy in Telugu cinema, it stars Mahesh as a Wild West robber full of derring do who intentionally courts unnecessary trouble, hoping his notoriety would lead him to his father’s murder. In the process, he’s stalked by a skimpily-clad (at one point, completely unclad) Bipasha Basu and carts around a half-naked (at one point, completely naked… you get the picture) Lisa Ray who keeps trying to get his pants off so she can check if he’s The One she’s supposed to marry. There’s also a mine right out of an Indiana Jones movie where diamonds grow like crystals inside stalagmites and an adorable little puppy whom he heroically saves from certain death – I mean, I can’t recommend this movie enough except for the times when I’m strongly warning you against it.

So I was really happy to see Sainikudu. All your questions answered here:

Q. What is Sainikudu?
A. A Telugu movie starring Mahesh Babu. Duh.

Q. Okay, smarty pants. What’s it about?
A. In flood-ravaged Andhra Pradesh, government corruption is destroying the lives of the poor. So a group of university students, led by Siddhartha (Mahesh Babu) decide to do something about it.

Q. Oh dear. That kind of stuff never works out, does it?
A. For reals. They get framed as terrorists by evil villain Pappu Yadav (Irrfan Khan) and his brother-in-law Mondi Naani (Prakash Raj) when they try to field a student as a candidate against him in the upcoming elections.

Q. That’s a very not-nice thing to do.
A. It is a properly villainous thing to do! Especially when Pappu wins the election and ends up as the Home Minister.

Q. Set a thief to catch a thief, so to speak!
A. Right! Except he doesn’t want to catch any, he just wants to fix it so he doesn’t get caught! The students say nix to that and kidnap Pappu’s bride Varalakshmi (Trisha Krishnan) under his nose on their wedding day and hold her hostage in exchange for Pappu completing his election promises.

Q. How does that work out?
A. For Siddhartha? Probably better if Varalakshmi hadn’t been the bride. For the viewer? Fabulously! The way it does when the heroine isn’t just your random naive village belle – but a deeply romantic, naive village belle, convinced (rather understandably, if she watches Telugu blockbusters where such threats fly around like confetti) the world is full of rapists, and hilariously overconfident about her fighting-capabilities. I was prepared to find her completely annoying, but she was absolutely charming – even Siddhartha thought so and she was either trying to get him killed, lecturing him about her purity, or questioning his manhood.

Q. Good stuff!
A. You bet. And a lot of it depends on Mahesh’s ability to just be silent. There aren’t a lot of actors who can resist the impulse to “do something” (at the 7.00 mark) when the camera is on them, but he can. You could argue that it’s a lack of ability, but having seen his earlier movies, I think it’s a sign of evolution. He also goes a little darker in this movie, doing stuff that is distinctly un-hero-like (albeit in a dream), has what appears to be a drinking problem, and thinks nothing of using dead children as party table centerpieces. Very affecting! But then, I like my action stars strong, angry and silent, which is probably why I don’t much care for it when he starts singing and dancing.

Q. You didn’t like the music of Sainikudu?
A. This was actually an exception – I liked the soundtrack. In fact, I was thinking about it when reading Beth’s CurrySmugglers interview: it’s unusual for me to really love film music in a language I don’t understand because lyrics matter a great deal to me, but either Harris Jayraj’s score was really that good or else the subtitles managed to work well enough for me to like it. Probably a combination of the two.

Q. The subtitles were good?
A. Well, I’m sure I missed a great deal of the wordplay and stuff – in fact, I’m pretty sure I did because there were certain segues that were distinctly odd – but going by various comments around the net, I’m better off that way because the original seems to have really pissed people off.

Q. Why is that?
A. I dunno. Maybe they didn’t like the political bits? They seemed pretty dire in a recycled way. Or maybe there wasn’t enough of it? Who knows! Personally, I thought it flirted with the borderline where I was just able to restrain my fast-forward finger.

Q. But you still had a good time watching it?
A. A bowl of Maggi noodles (original Masala please – none of this “new and improved”, “healthy” jiggery pokery), a bottle of wine and this movie? Totally my Sunday.

Q. That’s disgusting.
A. Sez you. Viva la revolucion!


Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video


Tags: , , , , ,

16 responses to “Southern Comfort

  1. shilpa

    September 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Ahh the joy of watching Mahesh Babu! I was worried non-telugu’s would be deprived of this goodness, but God bless you for discovering him! Pokiri is WOWsome but for me, he is absolute GOD in Murari. Theres drama, punarjanma, Death curses, punches and love, all in one, and MB excels in EVERY SINGLE FRAME!

  2. cinemachaat

    September 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I probably should feel vaguely guilty but I just don’t. I am currently (slowly) watching as many Chiranjeevi films as I can. I love him and I don’t really know why. It defies analysis. But like you, I can tell the difference between excellent and dire. Although I may enjoy both! Temple

  3. Praveen

    September 19, 2010 at 10:58 pm


    I would highly recommend this flick called Vedham

    Here is the trailer.

  4. Gradwolf

    September 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    You didn’t see Okkadu? That’s one awesomely entertaining flick! I’ve seen the remake, Gilli but assuming Okkadu is as awesome.

  5. bitsofchocolate

    September 20, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Da worstu things about Sainikudu were dumb-damsel Trisha and the unintended comic villainy of Irfan Khan – poor Prince was tolerable by comparison

    For the true Mahesh Babu fan – Athadu, Okkadu, Pokiri and Murari would be total paisa vasool fun

  6. Leia

    September 20, 2010 at 8:42 am

    I watched Athadu when I was living abroad and totally fell in love with it and Mahesh Babu. Don’t like Trisha… but hey! she fits the role… and the way the movie opened, I thought it had a bit of that ‘english movie’ touch lol.
    I dunno how you can rate him as an actor though… the entire role in Athadu was mostly silent… and Pokiri was all masala (which i utterly loved and thought Sallu’s style in the remake didn’t quite match the careful nonchalance of the telugu one).

    I don’t understand telugu completely but there is something fun about these movies…

  7. bhel

    September 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

    First your Dabangg review and now this one – I am beginning to get obsessed with your reviews. Another good one.

  8. mainhoonemily

    September 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Hmm, I’m a bit sad now that I gave away my copy of Takkari Donga without finishing it. Or…maybe not. There were no subtitles, so I mostly had no idea what was going on anyway.

    I love Sainikudu. It and Okkadu are probably my favorite of Mahesh Babu’s movies. I love the way he does that cool-as-a-cucumber, “I’m pretending not to care but actually I care deeply” persona. It’s very effective.

  9. heatherrmwilson

    September 20, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I can relate to this so well.
    I just have to watch every movie I can find by my fave actors and it does lead me into some very dodgy territory indeed. But that is all part of the fun of SI cinema, especially when there are no subtitles so you can make up your own dialogues 😛

  10. Ultimate Yum!

    September 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    “A bowl of Maggi noodles (original Masala please – none of this “new and improved”, “healthy” jiggery pokery)” — hey, my son might just start calling you mommy! 😛

    I hadn’t the faintest idea about these Actor’s Studio interviews — thoroughly enjoyed Matt Damon, thanks for trawling! And now, if only I’m able to scrounge up time enough to indulge my obsessions, the first thing I’d do would be curl up on the couch and triple-play the Bourne series (and enjoy falling into its wormhole), all over again.

  11. sachita

    September 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    hear you on the worm hole, I always harbour one current obsession. couple of weeks ago it was tina fey, last sat. morning was dabangg, this week it is a movie called oram poo:)

    And I landed up craving for masala movies on mahesh babu movie couple of years ago.. it had trisha in it …
    Ps; i dont need subtitles for golt, unfort. i need it for kannada and mal but it is too hard to find them subtitled.

  12. Amrita

    September 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    @ Shilpa – yes! The world needs to be let in on the goodness!

    @Temple – ha, I’m just teasing! In reality, I thank you very much!

    @Praveen – Thanks, will do! It stars Anushka so that’s already a plus!

    @Adithya – I haven’t seen Gilli although I meant to but I have seen Okkadu and liked it very much despite Bhumika Chawla. Mahesh has some of the worst leading ladies anywhere. At least the next one brings Anushka! Yay!

    @bitsofchocolate – It’s comments like that make me so glad I’m dependent on subtitles 😀 I loved everyone of those movies although I thought Sonali looked a bit like a cradle snatcher through most of it.

    @Leia – Athadu is definitely one of my other faves! I can’t really stand Trisha myself but she really surprised me in this one. I was giggling from the get go once the two were on their own.
    I’ve seen some of his earlier movies and I have to say he’s definitely better now that he’s cultivated the baby face killer brand. I personally think Prakash Raj was consistently the best actor in all the movies they’ve made together (which is like almost all, I think) but Mahesh is pretty darn good too.

    @Bhel – not so fast, wait until I review some art movie 😛

    @Emily – he is absolutely brilliant at it! Salman does a bit of it too but Mahesh really nails it. You didnt really miss much with Takkari Donga – there were a bunch of songs that were basically a competition to see which of the two ladies could take off more clothes and then a lot of really hamhanded robberies. The best parts of it were the doggie rescue and the hilarious diamon mine which was beyond anything I’d expected. It’s available subtitled on YT if you’re interested.

    @Heather – oh I saw the weird ripoff of Mr. Big without subtitles and I think I saw an entirely different movie from the one they made 😀 Still sucked though.

    @UY – Try the one with Angelina Jolie. That’s the one that made me a fan because she brought it that day!

    @Sachita – Try for subtitles if you don’t get a video with one. It works for the newer ones anyway.
    You probably saw that other Mahesh Babu-Trisha movie: Athadu. It’s what kickstarted this wormhole. One of the many things I appreciate about him is his commitment to one word titles.
    I must see Oram Poo after reading your write up 🙂

  13. Gradwolf

    September 22, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Ayeee watch Oram Po fast fast! Because the director duo’s next film is up for release. A magnificent trailer to boot:

    • UY

      September 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm

      Wolf, LOL @ “Oram Po fast fast”! Yen? Neenga unga car-la topspeed-la vandhundrukeengala? 😀

      AR, listen to him yaar. He’s right. That movie is all kinds awesomes. Also can’t wait for this Va Quarter Cutting thing. Fan of that guy Shiva since Tamil Padam.

      And what’s with sachita and you calling it Oram Poo? It’s “Po” like Edgar Allan Poe, meaning “Go”. Not “Poo” like Winnie the Pooh”, meaning “flower”.

      Also watch this brand new flick called “Thiru Thiru, Thuru Thuru” — I saw it earlier this week and (but for the mandatory item numbers that were badly botched up), it was a refreshingly acted/directed Tamil movie with cute, young leads (as the title hints at).

  14. dustdevil.liz

    September 24, 2010 at 1:06 am

    “My name is Liz, and I’ve been a Takkari Donga obsessive for 9 months, 10 days, and 4 hours.” I shamelessly love that movie, and I wish that there was a subbed dvd so that I could push it on friends and family.

    Also, there’s probably some sort of equation for the amount of time Mahesh is smoking onscreen to how enjoyable the film is.

    • Amrita

      September 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      Adithya & UY – that good huh? I do like the trailer. Ok, I know what I’m doing this weekend!

      DD.L – I dont know about subbed DVD but some superfan subtitled it and loaded it on YT so you could always email the link to friends and family! It’s a really clear print too!

      Ha @ the smoking. All his movies have this completely out of context moment where he just randomly drops whatever he’s doing to grab a smoke or a drink and the girl is left staring, like “what are you doing? there are a thousand angry people running after us to kill us!” Gotta love it.

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