8 Movies Which Explain the Ancient Greeks’ Four Types Of Love

The history of Valentine’s Day dates back to the fourth century, when Pope Gelasius 1 declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day. So let me introduce the four types of love from Greek philosophy.

1️⃣ Experience: Four Types of Love

Without experiencing the many forms of love, we’ll always feel a little empty.

The ancient Greeks possessed a complex understanding of love that still holds relevance today.

Their lexicon included four distinct types of love: Agape, Eros, Philía, and Storge.

Examples for Four Types of love
Movies Which Share The Experiences

Four Types of Love: Greek Philosophy

❤️Agape denotes a selfless, unconditional love that extends beyond personal desire and encompasses the well-being of others.

It’s selfless, puts others first, and doesn’t expect anything in return. Imagine helping a stranger without expecting thanks, volunteering, or donating to a cause. I hope you have seen the movie Schindler’s List or Malyalam movie 2018.

2018 Trailer

❤️Eros, on the other hand, represents a passionate, romantic love driven by physical attraction and desire.

The “butterflies-in-your-stomach” experience. It’s passion, intense attraction, and physical desire. Think that first crush, the romantic spark, or the thrilling excitement of new love. Think of a movie like Chunking Express or Njan Gandharvan.

Njan Gandharvan teaser

❤️Philía describes a deep, platonic love rooted in mutual respect, shared interests, and genuine friendship.

Experience that “best friend forever” companionship . It’s built on friendship, shared interests, mutual respect, and understanding. Think movie nights with your buddies, deep conversations with an old friend, or the camaraderie of a sports team. Hope you have seen When Harry Met Sally or kannada movie Katheyondu Shuruvagide.

Katheyondu Shuruvagide Trailer

❤️Finally, Storge denotes a familial or parental love that is instinctual and unconditional.

Think the bond between parent and child, the unconditional love you have for your siblings, or the close connection with your grandparents. Hope you have seen the animated movie CoCo (2017) or tamil movie Peranbu.

Peranbu Trailer

Experiencing all these four types of love is vital for a fulfilling life, as it nourishes and enriches our emotional well-being.

Beginning of a Lifelong Romance

We should strive to evoke these emotions in others and elevate them for one another to create a more loving and empathetic society. These four types of love explains the nuances of love. By understanding the nuances of love, we can cultivate stronger, more meaningful relationships that enrich our lives and the lives of those around us.

So, go forth and experience the four types of love — agape, eros, philía, and storge — and embrace the diversity and depth that life has to offer. And remember, if all else fails, a little laughter can go a long way in matters of the heart.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

So, experience all four types of love, evoke it in one another, and elevate it for one another. That’s the key.

2️⃣ Pain & Redemption

At the core of any transformative experience is the element of pain and suffering. Love, in particular, is known for its ability to inspire profound changes in individuals.

The reason for this is simple: transformation requires the shedding of one’s old self, and this shedding process can be painful. In fact, some of the most significant changes we experience are born out of great suffering.

Movies Which explain the Pain

This is why love demands that we surrender ourselves to a little bit of suffering. Whether it’s the pain of rejection, the agony of heartbreak, or the discomfort of vulnerability, these experiences are necessary to spur on the kind of transformation that love offers.

Suffer For It

And it’s not just romantic love that requires this level of surrender. If we truly love our work, our art, or our craft, we must be willing to suffer for it. We must be willing to endure the long hours, the uncertainty, and the setbacks that come with any creative pursuit.

But it’s not just about enduring suffering for the sake of transformation. We must also take the time to reflect on our journey, to understand why we’re here, who we are, and why it matters. Only by embracing the transformative power of love, and by surrendering to the suffering it demands, can we hope to unlock our full potential.

Redemtpion

And so, as we embark on this journey of love and transformation, let us remember that it is not a path for the faint of heart. But if we are willing to take that deep breath and plunge headfirst into the abyss, we may just emerge on the other side, transformed and ready for whatever comes next.

And as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “What does not kill me makes me stronger.”

So, let us suffer a little, and emerge stronger, wiser, and ready to love again.

I recommend you watch Masaan (2015) , Tamasha (2015), La La Land (2016).

3️⃣ Slow & Steady: Mean it

Love is not a commodity that we can buy, nor is it a game that we can play. Love is something that we give, and it’s a reflection of who we are.

Most importantly, it’s a verb, not a noun, it’s an action.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said, “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”

Love inspires us to be creative, kind, and compassionate, and it can elevate our lives to new heights. However, if we don’t mean it, we risk losing it all.

Fake it ’til you make it

There’s a famous saying that goes, “Fake it ’til you make it,” but when it comes to love, that’s a dangerous game to play. You can’t fake love, and you can’t substitute it with anything else. As the American author H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, “Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.”

If we don’t mean it, we risk hurting ourselves and the people we care about.

So, how can we mean it?

Well, it starts with being honest with ourselves and others. We need to be clear about what we want and what we’re willing to give.

We need to be vulnerable and open to the possibility of rejection, knowing that it’s part of the process.

And we need to be patient and persistent, knowing that love takes time to grow and blossom.

Lunchbox & RBDJ: Indian Movies

Remember, genuine love is not something that we can fake or substitute. It’s a precious gift that we give and receive, and it requires us to be true to ourselves and others.

As the American singer-songwriter John Legend once said, “Love is not just a verb, it’s you looking in the mirror.” So, let’s be honest, vulnerable, patient, and persistent, and let’s mean it.

I would recommend movies like The Lunchbox (2013), Call Me by Your Name (2017).

Read about How you should read the film: The Lunchbox

So love your Partner. Love your friends, Love your family, Love your life, Love your job.

Your Love liberates your inner strength, and that’s the beauty of it.

So, how was your Valentine’s Day?

Me?

I had a busy day doing some Ad shoot and campaign management for the marketing.

But tonight, after seeing multiple stories and statuses in my SM feeds, I decided to write something on this.

❤️None of us belong here and there’s not enough time. Let’s Live. Love. Learn and Liberate❤️

The Lunchbox vs. Photograph: Ritesh Batra’s Parallel Narratives

Ritesh Batra took 6 years to release his second Hindi film, Photograph, after my favourite film, The Lunchbox. This time he explained the story of two obedient individuals, Miloni (Sanya Malhotra), who is studying to become a chartered accountant, and Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a street photographer. Let’s see how Batra crafted a different movie from the same set of characters, elements, and geography that he used in The Lunchbox. In essence, both films are narrating the same crux.

Photograph Trailer

Miloni meets Rafi at the Gateway of India in Mumbai, where she allows him to take her photograph. Unfortunately, her family calls her away before he can give it to her in an envelope. Later, circumstances make Rafi ask Miloni to act as his girlfriend while his grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar) visits. She agrees, leading to the formation of an unexpected connection between them. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra perfectly match the film’s gentle mood, expressing much through subtle body language, the setting, and their eyes.

“Years from now, when you look at this photo, you’ll feel the sun on your face, wind in your hair and hear all these voices again. Or it’ll all be gone. Gone forever.”

 – Rafi in Photograph (2019)

Two Parallel Rays From Different Sources

Miloni and Rafi have different backgrounds, yet they are moving in parallel in the same direction. Photograph explained this journey in The Lunchbox style. They both are not sailing in life for what they want; rather, they are living for others. They are obedient people who have followed whatever has been told to them

Miloni was always obedient to her parent’s choices. There is a scene where, during dinner, her family members say that Miloni wanted to become an actress before her family pushed her to study accounting. and her father is surprised. She wears what her family thinks looks good on her. She doesn’t even have a favourite colour in her life. Miloni conforms to her family’s expectations, donning attire they find appealing. 

Similarly, Rafi’s life is dedicated to his family’s well-being. He toils away, shouldering the heavy burden of his village home’s debt and single-handedly covering his sisters’ wedding costs. His unwavering commitment extends to fulfilling his grandmother’s desires without hesitation. His nights remind me of Saajan from The Lunchbox. Both are isolated in their own islands.

Symmetry happens From Asymmetries

The movie describes Rafi & Miloni both living for the sake of their family by killing their smiles; they were on the stage of life where they forgot their smile and were going through a monotonous life. In Rafi’s photographs, Miloni is finding her smile, which she lost in between.

At the post office, while sending off a money order, the clerk gently nudges Rafi to consider his own needs for once, suggesting he keep a little money for himself. “Keep some for yourself too, Rafi Bhai,” she advises. Rafi’s life is a testament to selflessness and familial devotion, painting a portrait of a man who lives not for himself but for the ones he loves.

Contrast in two characters: The position, brightness, and frame are louder than my words

Miloni and Rafi face similar challenges, though their lives began very differently. Miloni comes from a Hindu, upper-middle-class urban family, while Rafi is Muslim and from a lower-middle-class family. Their differences are stark, not just in their religious backgrounds but also in their skin tones and how they dress.

There are even moments in the film where people comment on Rafi because Miloni looks so different from him. Yet, at their core, they are the same: both are kind, empathetic, and lonely yet surrounded by people. Rafi is like a gulab jamun, and Miloni is like a rasgulla—both are sweet, yet distinct to those around them.

As the relationship between Miloni and Rafi unfolds, Photograph explained their progression from strangers to connected souls.

Being the Slave of Own Past

A smile

Miloni seems to live in her past, reminiscing about her childhood. She inquires about farm life from her maid and shares with Rafi her fond memories of drinking Campa Cola with her grandfather. There’s a scene where a doctor remembers her as a young, adventurous lady, visiting with her grandfather, Campa Cola in hand.

A smile again

Even in a matchmaking scene, when a man asks Miloni where she would like to live, she answers, “A village.” Surprised, he asks her what she would do there. She tells him, “I will do farming in the morning and take a nap in the afternoon“. Rafi, on the other hand, feels stuck due to his duties.

Who Do Not Move, Do Not Notice Their Chains

As their relationship develops, Miloni and Rafi start to move away from their obedient roles towards rebellion, each in their own way. What disappoints me is that, like Batra’s previous film, The Lunchbox, Photograph also ends with an open ending, leaving us wondering what happens next.

In the middle of the movie, when Rafi and Miloni go to a movie theatre, a rat runs over Miloni’s feet, making her uncomfortable. This scene quickly cuts to Miloni’s study table.

Initially, we don’t see what happens after the movie theatre incident. Ritesh Batra saves this crucial scene for the end, where they have a brief chat, Miloni asks him, “Don’t you want to continue the movie?” and Rafi says, “I know the rest of the story. They will fall in love, but because of their backgrounds, they won’t be together.”

The open ending of ‘Photograph,’ explained as a choice by the director The director wants us to follow the story in a linear style until the ending scene. Here, it becomes clear that both Rafi and Miloni understand their backgrounds and social status and that they are unlikely to end up together in this society. After recognising this reality and their probable future, they decide to go with the flow without saying it out loud.

Nostalgia is an Illusion

The story brings back memories with its use of public phone booths and the classic kaali-peeli taxis, even though smartphones and online cab services are common now. It feels like the story was meant for the last decade. Because of this, while the movie becomes nostalgic, it might not seem as relevant today.

I noticed something similar in Sriram Raghavan’s “Merry Christmas.” There is a dialogue in Photograph where a cola factory worker says: “Our country is big, but its memory is short.” But Photograph will definitely make sure to recall your memories.

Photographs are Footprints

Another notable aspect of the film is the frequent focus on characters’ feet, especially Miloni’s. When she feels nervous, the film often shows her feet moving restlessly.

Since Miloni doesn’t share her thoughts out loud and stays quiet, these shots of her feet help show she’s feeling nervous.

It seemed meaningful that the gift Miloni receives from Rafi’s grandmother is a pair of anklets, perhaps suggesting a wish for her to express her feelings more loud.

Parallel World, Parallel Events

The world of Photograph is not different from the one in The Lunchbox. Both films incorporate traditional elements like letters and photographs in an era dominated by text messages and selfies. The main characters exist in a state of isolation amidst the bustling life of Mumbai, where everyone else seems to be in a rush, and they are left hoping for a change.

In both movies, loneliness plays a critical role, almost acting as a character itself. Both stories gradually evolve after an accidental encounter, forming unexpected friendships and ambiguous relationships among the main characters.

A mix-up with a lunchbox initiates a classic letter-writing romance between Ila (Nimrat Kaur) and Saajan (Irrfan Khan) in The Lunchbox. Similarly, a random meeting at the Gateway of India sparks an impromptu romance between Rafi and Miloni. In each story, there is a noticeable age difference between the male and female leads, highlighting their distinct contrasts.

Same Templates, Different Emotions

Ritesh Batra employs familiar cinematic techniques in both The Lunchbox and Photograph. The Lunchbox starts with imagery of two trains moving in opposite directions, while Photograph captures traffic flowing similarly.

Notably, in The Lunchbox, we hear Deshpande Aunty’s voice without seeing her, and only glimpse the exterior of Ila’s father. Similarly, in Photograph, Rafi’s interactions at the post office feature only the voice of the postal worker, whom we never see, yet who seems to know him well and speak like a well-wisher.

Batra’s way of intensifying emotional scenes diverges from the age-old Kurosawa technique of using close-up shots of face gestures. He emphasises voices over facial expressions.

In Photograph, Batra effectively uses auditory elements multiple times. For example, the woman on the bus questioning Miloni about appearing on a billboard for Miloni’s coaching centre remains unseen.

The introduction of Miloni’s teacher delays showing his face until the scene nearly ends. When a potential suitor’s parents visit Miloni, everyone’s face, except Miloni’s is blurred. Additionally, in the scene where Rafi encounters the Campa Cola manufacturer, the factory setting is blurred, focusing on Rafi from behind, while the background sounds and music convey the scene’s essence.

Same Characters, Same Elements

In The Lunchbox, Ila says Deshpande Uncle always stared at the ceiling fan because he thought his life depended on it. Deshpande Aunty bought an inverter to keep the fan on forever. In Photograph, we also see and hear the ceiling fan a lot. Even after the very first scene of Rafi, it cuts to a ceiling fan. The movie shows some scenes as if we are looking down from where the fan is. Tiwari Ji took his own life with the fan.

In The Lunchbox, Saajan writes that he spent his whole life standing in trains and buses, and he will have to stand even when he is dead as there are no horizontal burial plots left and only vertical burial plots are being offered.

In Photograph, you can see a similar viewpoint from Rafi, he complains to Miloni about the hurry-burry of people in Mumbai. Even Batra added a symbol for the rat-race life of Rafi and his friends. The door of Rafi’s house opens upwards, making it feel like he is living in a box.

Even the elements of death and those haunting narrations are similar in The Lunchbox and Photograph. A woman jumps along with her daughter and commits suicide in The Lunchbox; In Photograph, it’s Tiwari ji, who commits suicide by hanging over the ceiling fan. Even there is a scene where Rafi’s friend Zakir comments over Tiwari Ji, “No one gets peace in Mumbai, not even in death”.

Even the utopian dreams of lead characters are nearly the same in The Lunchbox and Photograph. In the Lunchbox, it’s Ila and her desire to move to Bhutan for happiness.

In Photograph it’s Miloni’s desire to live in a village. They are yearning to move out of the cubicle life of bustling cities. Miloni connected more with people who came from villages, whether it was her maid or Rafi.

Photograph: A Pause Button

Even sometimes, I felt that Miloni was an extended version of Ila’s daughter in the Lunchbox. Mostly, Miloni’s character is inert in the movie, which makes it difficult to read her motivations. For instance, Miloni agrees to play Rafi’s girlfriend, but the film never explains her reasons for doing so.

Ritesh Batra beautifully packed Nostalgia or “those good old days,” in every frame of The Lunchbox and Photograph. The Lunchbox depicted old TV shows, radio shows, video cassettes, and letters. Photograph shows Campa Cola, softies, kulfi, kaali-peeli taxis, money orders, old theatres, and post offices.

 “I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to,”

Saajan (The Lunchbox)

Perhaps this is the reason Ritesh Batra includes such nostalgic elements in his movies. By doing so, he leads us down a path where we too revisit our own childhood memories alongside him. Nostalgia becomes even more delightful when we have someone to share those memories with and look back on the times that will never return.

Read more about the Lunchbox here.

Animal Explained: Dissecting the Hidden Philosphies and Patriarchal Ideologies

Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal is streaming on Netflix with 3 hours and 24 minutes of adrenaline pumps. This is not a review, but rather an analysis of the propaganda art and politics of Animal. So, this blog contains spoilers, and if you haven’t watched it yet, skip this.

After Arjun Reddy (2017) and Kabir Singh (2019), two films about a sexually desperate misogynistic doctor with anger issues and Preeti obsession, director Sandeep Reddy Vanga returns with Animal. This time, it’s about a toxic patriarchal chain-smoking engineer obsessed with his father.

Animal movie explained
Animal Movie Poster

The crux of the story is a son protecting his father from animals in an animal park. Despite the script being imbued with his palaeolithic view of human instincts, Sandeep Reddy Vanga managed to infuse it with high adrenaline action, music, and a bloodbath. In essence, the hero is a carnivorous animal in human form, devoid of sin, vision, or empathy, driven only by instincts.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, although I disagree with a few of Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s perspectives. This film is a commendable mass entertainer.

How Sandeep Ignites the Adrenaline Rush With Animal

Sandeep Reddy Vanga brilliantly incorporates elements that have recently succeeded in commercial movies. Bringing in a weapon dealer, adding a massive gunfight scene, and retro songs like Roja, Punjabi DJ songs & Jamal Jamaloo, created high moments in theatres and on Instagram as well.

The cold-blooded revenge arc, fatherly sentiments, and nationalism (the weapons are made in India scenes) are well-placed. Surprises, such as the bystander-turned-traitor twists and the double climax, the 2-hour (so-called) street fight in the end (a reminiscent of Thallumala) the list is long. The high-adrenaline music is another highlight. Kudos to the long list of music directors from Harshavardhan Rameshwar, Jaani, Vishal Mishra, Shreyas Puranik, Manan Bhardwaj to last but not least: A. R. Rahman.

Forgot to add, the climax scene, inspired by Rolex, is particularly notable. Fans of Leo, Jawan, Pathan, and Arjun Reddy will find Animal a high-adrenaline theatre experience.

Animal’s Anthropology Class & Thrills from the Start

The movie begins with a narration, swiftly moving to a school episode of Ranvijay (Ranbir Kapoor) showcasing his love for his father. One of my favourite scenes follows, filled with A.R. Rahman’s Roja background score, where Ranvijay is now a college boy. The film transitions seamlessly to love at first sight.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga acts like an anthropologist, sharing perspectives on the evolution of poetry. These insights could be used to promote a whey protein brand or a fitness centre. He then progresses Ranvijay’s character arc to highlight his prejudiced and narcissistic nature.

Sandeep Reddy & His Art of Crafting a Predatory Protagonist

Sandeep Reddy Vanga meticulously wrote this character. Ranvijay cries only once in the entire movie. He never shows his vulnerabilities; even when he informs his sister about her husband’s death, he immediately consoles her by suggesting a remarriage. He consoles his wife by stating that happiness is a choice, and there’s a scene where he enjoys biryani made from human flesh (though Sandeep Reddy Vanga doesn’t explicitly show this). With all these elements, Sandeep tells you how umpathetic Ranjvijay is.

I appreciate Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s meticulous crafting of dialogues for Ranbir Kapoor. Ranbir’s dialogues always reflect an animal mindset, like his comments on business expansion or his various lectures. When Ranbir talks about patience and his fights with schoolmates, it reminds me of predators on Animal Planet. Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s portrayal of his hero as a tiger is contrasted with a more dog-like loyalty, treating others as subservient. Sandeep Reddy Vanga has a knack for highlighting character flaws, like Ranvijay’s.

The Subservient Female Roles in Animal Explained

Sandeep Reddy Vanga doesn’t give much importance to female characters like Geethanali, Zoya, or even Reet. They are portrayed as subservient to their male counterparts. Geethanali’s quick fall in love with Ranvijay, perhaps influenced by watching Arjun Reddy, is an example of this. Similarly, Zoya is depicted as submissive to Ranbir’s character. What is most disturbing is that Zoya is even ready to lick his feet for his love.

Rashmika Mandanna & Ranbir Kapoor from Animal

Unfortunately, Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s skill seems solely invested in building the character of Ranvijay. When it comes to the character arc, it only moves in one direction, continually ascending. I believe actions should have consequences, but nothing Ranvijay does in Animal seems to have any.

Sandeep’s Reply for Concerns Around Sexuality, Violence, and Gender Equality

Sandeep Reddy Vanga also tries to counter criticisms of male chauvinism. He addresses consent by having Ranvijay touch Geethanali’s feet and give a lecture on the importance of women in the Paleolithic era.

Ranbir kapoor and Rashmika Mandanna from Animal
Ranbir kapoor and Rashmika Mandanna from Animal

If there’s a problem with him slapping her, this time let her slap him. If there are issues with domination and masculinity, let her come to his home, kiss him in front of everyone, and let him praise her physique. He addresses body shaming by giving a spiritual lesson on pubic hair.

If there’s a problem with adult content and gory scenes, let’s have a three-hour blood bath with nudity and discussions of sexual fantasies.

What I really like is the idea of recording the moanings of their first lovemaking and using it to calm his angry wife, that was truly a wow! what an idea moment 🙂 .

So, in simple words, this movie entertains the majority with ease. I was expecting a Tarantino style but got an ultra-mode RGV style. Raw violence, sex, and obsession await you in this movie, sprinkled with a few good father-son sentiments.

The climax scene, with two sons fighting for their father’s honour and love, battling with emotions, and a background song echoing their family connection, made the whole theatre dark and silent without any mobile screen light or murmurs. That’s the power of bringing raw emotions to the screen.

From Ranbir to Tripti Dimri: Explaining Performances from Animal

Ranbir Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Rashmika Mandanna and Anil Kapoor from the Animal movie
Ranbir Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Rashmika Mandanna and Anil Kapoor from the Animal movie.

Regarding performances, Ranbir Kapoor establishes himself as a superstar with Animal. Sandeep Reddy Vanga did justice to Bobby Deol fans, though I expected more from Bobby Deol. My surprise was Tripti Dimri, whose screen presence was mind-blowing despite limited screen time. Charu Singh and Anil Kapoor did their parts as Ranbir’s parents with ease. Saurabh Sachdeva delivered a killing performance as Bobby Deol’s brother, especially in the climax. Rashmika gave a decent performance, possibly her best since Kirik Party

Why is it Animal ? Animal Explained

Let me explain my views on why the film is called Animal by Sandeep Reddy.

The film explores the more primal, instinctual aspects of human nature, as shown in how Ranbir celebrates his heart surgery and how Abrar releases his pain of loss. In Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal park, the lead male characters operate based on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification. The climax fight is reminiscent of the survival of the fittest theory, living in a world where the law of nature prevails.

In this movie, after Papa, SWASTIK is the most highlighted word. It’s their family business, indicating a blend of traditional values and a darker quest for power (Nazi approach).

The tagline of Swastik, “Power, Progress & Victory”, is repeated by Ranvijay during his oath of vengeance. As per psychologist Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow, this tagline could be seen as manifestations of Ranvijay’s shadow, where his animalistic traits (aggression, dominance, the pursuit of power) are embraced and externalised as his personal and corporate ethos.

Animal & Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Propaganda Art

Regarding opinions, my friend argued,

How conveniently do we forget that Scorsese used slow-motion and rousing soundtracks for despicable characters in ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’, and when Sandeep Reddy Vanga does an extreme Indian version of that, it’s suddenly ‘glorification’?

Robert De Niro & Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro & Martin Scorsese

As a die-hard fan of Scorses, I feel Martin Scorsese never portrayed Travis Bickle or Jimmy Conway as heroes, nor did he justify their actions. His characters dealt with consequences, unlike in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Ranvijay. This is where Sandeep Reddy Vanga falls short as a responsible artist. I believe he is obsessed with certain ideologies and celebrates and promotes them through his movies. Scorsese’s Raging Bull highlighted male insecurity in 1980. Can we expect such a film from Sandeep Reddy Vanga?

Toxic masculinity is a propaganda tool for promoting patriarchal beliefs. Ranvijay’s words to his sister about killing any of her choices he dislikes, and his actions as a school kid stepping in with a gun to protect his sister, and delivering a lecture to his father suggest a patriarchal mindset. That’s where he fails to responsibly handle his craft.

Read about the Yadhoom philosophy & Sriram Raghavan’s Merry chritmas here.

Merry Christmas: A Tale of Yadhoom, Love, and Mystery

Merry Christmas, directed by Sriram Raghavan, is a beautiful film, especially if you like slow-paced yet engaging movies like the Before trilogy. Merry Christmas uniquely blends the romantic drama of Wong Kar Wai with the suspenseful elements of Hitchcockian noir thrillers.

Merry Christmas Title Credit

In essence, it’s reminiscent of Thiyagarajan Kumararaja’s Ninaivo Oru Paravai, which seamlessly fuses these two elements. It’s not surprising that the director, Sriram Raghavan, mentioned Thiyagarajan Kumararaja as an inspiration.

Retro Charm & A Mood For Love, Sprinkled with Witty Black Humour

Merry Christmas begins with a note saying, ‘When Mumbai was known as Bombay.The film takes place in Bombay during the 1970s and makes you feel nostalgic.

The colours, music, and songs in the film are sync with the era and make the experience even better. The story revolves around Albert (Vijay Sethupathi) and Maria (Katrina Kaif). Two souls wandering in the neon-lit lanes of Bombay, whose lives intersect in a serendipitous Christmas encounter.

Merry Christmas Title Card

It’s more of like a O.Henry short story; whatever you are reading and imagining in the first half will get a 180 degree shift in the later half. 

The movie’s pacing is deliberate, slowly building up to a climax. If you are expecting a thriller like Andhadhun, you may get disappointed. Merry Christmas is a cute black comedy.

Perfect Blend of On Screen & Off Screen Efforts

Vijay Sethupathi is outstanding in his role. Watching him dance with Katrina Kaif, who is famous for dance numbers like Chikni Chameli,’ is a treat for the fans of both. You can’t help but be drawn in by Vijay’s cute dance performance.

The film’s homage to the bygone era of Bollywood, Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, background score by Daniel B George, all these adds layers to its storytelling, makes ‘Merry Christmas’ more than just a movie set in the 70s. It feels like it truly belongs to that time.

Scenes from Merry Christmas

Cinematographer Madhu Neelakandan deserves a special applause for meticulously capturing the essence of the setting, focusing on even the smallest details. The vibrant red-blue-green colour palette that fills each frame is so catchy and sync with the moments. However, the close-up shots of Katrina Kaif are a bit of a letdown. Personally, I felt that these moments were jarring, as Katrina seemed to struggle with conveying the subtlety of emotions required for these shots.

Sriram Raghavan’s Yadhoom: A Merry Christmas with Self-Discovery

Sriram Raghavan’s Merry Christmas not only shines with performances but also with its intriguing scripting.The movie looks at ‘Yadhoom’ moments – those instances of clarity and realisation of one’s true purpose in life.

Tamil veteran actor Rajesh plays a kind man who took care of Albert’s mother, Celine, before she passed away. He also looks after her apartment. He gives Albert a bottle of homemade wine called Yadhoom.

But what does Yadhoom mean?

Rajesh explains it like this:

‘We spend our lives working, raising families, and doing other things. But we’re all waiting for a special moment. When that moment comes, it’s like you suddenly know what you’re supposed to do. That’s what Yadhoom is about.

Merry Christmas (2024)

Sriram Raghavan carefully places his characters right before the Yadhoom moments in their lives. He shows us how they find out who they are and what they want.

Before he starts his night adventure Albert reads a quote “Night is Darkest Before The Dawn”, this blend with the eastern version of Yadhoom philosophy where challenges and sufferings lead to self-realisation. Hope you have watched Lion King which beautifully portrayed this philosophy.

Albert’s return to Bombay is more than just a trip. It’s a journey through his past and into his own heart. The idea of Yadhoom is key in the movie.

The characters of Albert and Maria are skillfully crafted to evolve towards this Yadhoom realisation. Their interactions, laden with yearning and a sense of lost time, gradually lead them to their respective Yadhoom moments.

Complementary Yadhoom Arcs

The characters, Albert and Maria, are created in a way that Maria is skeptical, fragile and is more sure of her motivations than her decisions, while Albert is almost too careful, yet easy going.

Katrina Kaif & Vijay from Merry Christmas

There is a dialogue from Albert: “I’ve left a lot of things unfinished in life, but never a bottle of chilled beer,”. These complementary arcs in their behaviour is what makes them complete in the end while talking about the agony of remorse and awaiting. 

Sriram Raghavan’s storytelling is subtle, he cleverly uses the festive atmosphere of Christmas to create a striking contrast with the deep self-reflection experienced by his characters. This contrast serves to highlight their personal growth. Initially burdened by their pasts and uncertainties, Albert and Maria evolve throughout the film. They move from being individuals weighed down by life’s complexities to people who gradually come to embrace the concept of Yadhoom.

Yadhoom, Albert and Maria: Philosophical Layers in Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas is more than just a black comedy on screen. It introduces us to the deep ideas of some philosophies.

Katrina Kaif & Vijay Sethupathi playing Flying Wish Paper Swan

Existentialism

For example, the film reflects existentialism. This is the belief that people must create their own meaning in a world that doesn’t have a clear purpose. Albert and Maria are characters struggling to escape their past and the truth, and in the end, they use what happens in their lives to make their own meaning and purpose for their present.

Stoicism

The film also shows ideas from Stoicism. Stoicism consists of wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation.

This ancient philosophy teaches that people should accept what happens in their lives and use these experiences to grow and become better people. We see this in how Albert and Maria deal with their past and how they change to find their purpose. In the climax there is a shot where Maria burns a Teddy and keeps two fish in the flush tanks. The way that night ends was narrated beautifully by Sriram and captured elegantly. by Madhu Neelakantan.

Even there is an instance were, Albert talks about Violence, he says: “Violence is better than the sufferings from non-violence”. This reminds me of Dharma philosophy.

In summary, ‘Merry Christmas’ is not just a black comedy thriller but a philosophical journey that resonates with the heart and mind. Echoing the essence of trendy Ikigai, Existentialism, Dharma,and all other such philosophies, Merry Christmas inspires us to explore our own paths, encouraging us to find our unique place in the world.

Read more reviews and get updates here.

Why ‘The Lunchbox’ More Than Just a Love Story

Whenever someone inquires about my favourite romantic films, my mind categorises them into ‘pre-The Lunchbox’ and ‘post-The Lunchbox’ eras. Before experiencing The Lunchbox, it was ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Kandu Kondein Kandu Kondein,’ but not any more. 

In the Mood for Love and As Good As It Gets are my favourites from the post-Lunchbox era. This transformative journey commenced with a simple, unassuming film from 2013 directed by Ritesh Batra—‘The Lunchbox.’

The Lunchbox: Title Card
The Lunchbox: Title Card

The Lunchbox: A Lens into Realism

This movie is not just for a weekend entertainment; it offered me a fresh lens through which I could explore the nuanced, unspoken dialect of human connections.

The movie is set in the bustling life of Mumbai, home to the renowned dabbawalas and their near-perfect lunch delivery system. However, an unusual mix-up one day led a dabbawala to exchange lunchboxes, it became the link for an unexpected companionship between Saajan Fernandez and Ila.

Irfan Khan as Saajan in The Lunchbox
Irfan Khan as Saajan in The Lunchbox

As an accountant on the brink of retirement, Saajan’s character reflects every scene with an air of melancholy that resonates with anyone who has ever gone through loneliness once.

Saajan’s routine commute to work begins with a Mumbai urban bus ride, accompanied by a stop at his late wife’s grave before heading to his mundane accountant job.

Nimrat kaur as Ila in The Lunchbox
Nimrat kaur as Ila in The Lunchbox

On the other hand, we have Ila. Movie begins with Ila, a housewife who tries to get her husband’s attention by making tasty lunches for him. She thinks the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Her neighbor, Deshpande aunty, helps her out with recipes, joking that her husband will build her a Taj Mahal after tasting the food. Ila sends a lunchbox to her husband’s office using a dabbawala.

From Salty to Sweet: The Beginning

When fate humorously redirects Ila’s delicious lunchbox to Saajan, Saajan’s response to the first meal is precisely what you’d expect from a lonely accountant uncle – “Dear Ila, the food was very salty today.”

That’s all he has to say about the meal Ila put her heart into. However, this complaint marks the beginning of a unique bond between two lonely souls. Here begins the beautiful tale of ‘The Lunchbox’.

What follows is a series of letters exchanged between Saajan and Ila.

Saajan’s letters give a glimpse into his life and the changing world around him, like when he mentions,

“Life is very busy these days. There are too many people and everyone wants what the other has. Years ago you could find a place to sit on the train every now and then but these days it is difficult…When my wife died she got a horizontal burial plot. I tried to buy a burial plot for myself the other day and what they offered me was a vertical one. I spent my whole life standing in trains and buses and now I will have to stand even when I am dead.”

This newfound mode of communication allows them to open up in ways they hadn’t with anyone else before.

This is where I want to tell you, ‘The Lunchbox’ isn’t merely a story of romantic inklings; it’s just one layer of it.

Why The Lunchbox is More Than a Romantic Film

The Lunchbox is a film that explores a wide range of human emotions and relationships through its simple but powerful storytelling. It’s not just a love story between Ila and Saajan. It’s also a story about several characters who are searching for comfort and connection in their mundane loneliness.

Every character in ‘The Lunchbox’ has a touch of loneliness. Ila is trying hard to bring back the missing spark in her marriage; Saajan, a sad widower stuck in the same office job for over thirty-five years without even a friendly chat with his office neighbor; Aslam, the orphan seeking familial bonds; and the Deshpande couple, each lost in their own realm of silence. Even young Yashvi, Ila’s daughter, seems quiet and serious throughout the movie. Something not common for a child of her age.

Sonakshi Sinha as Pakhi in Lootera
Sonakshi Sinha as Pakhi in Lootera

Maybe this is the same reason, why I am obsessed with the characters of ‘Lootera’ and there Pakhi resonates with the same echo of solitude.

What Lies Beyond Romance in The Lunchbox?

Lens 1

There are multiple instances where The Lunchbox proves that it’s talking about human connections, a deep bond that’s formed between people when they feel seen and valued—not a curious attraction or mere romance.

One line from Saajan beautifully captures the underlying theme of his and Ila’s shared bonding: “I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to.” This simple line tells us about the deep need we humans have for connection. It also shows how good it feels to find someone to share our everyday moments with, whether they’re boring or happy. Aslam, Deshpande Aunty, Saajan, and Ila are all looking for this kind of connection.

Just like Ila is searching for a new spice to rekindle her husband’s affection, each character is searching for something missing in their lives, and that missing piece is a bond to share!

In addition, look at the vegetable Ila chosen for her delicious dishes. Bitter Guard, Baby pumpkin aka Tinde & even Brinjal —could be a metaphor for their unconventional life choices, or maybe it seems like a gentle reflection of narrative’s core, where bitter experiences pave the path to the sweet essence of companionship, understanding, and perhaps a subtle hint of romance as well.

Lens 2

The Lunchbox is a film that celebrates the unity and diversity of the human connections. The characters in the film come from different shades of life though they are connected beautifully like a string of pearls.

Saajan’s poetic observation is a beautiful example of this. In a scene, Saajan explains his reflections on a painter’s works, “I felt like stopping to look at a painter’s works. All his paintings are exactly the same but when you look close, real close, you can see that they are different, each slightly different from the other…”

After that letter, Ila is sharing her memories with her daughter.

He sees himself in one of those paintings; he compares people to paintings, noting that they may all seem similar at first glance, but when you look closely, you can see the unique differences that make each individual special.

This is exactly what you are seeing in the film. In one angle, they all are same. But if you look close, you will see the differences.

Aslam is a Muslim, Saajan is a Christian, and Ila is a Hindu. Saajan writes in Queen’s English, I never heard someone referring to a ‘Brinjal’ as an ‘Aubergine’ and Ila replies in Hindi.

Deshpande Aunty and Ila share a deep emotional bond, even though they do not have a visual connection. This is because they are both able to sense and understand each other’s feelings.

Here communication goes beyond language, diversities, and limitations; it’s tapping into the essence of human connection.

The Lunchbox and its Painful Romance

In the romantic parts, Saajan’s sadness really hits you when he opens up to Ila, saying that he can only dream through her young hopes. He mentions, “No one buys yesterday’s lottery ticket.” This is a honest way to say that his own dreams are fading away.

But Saajan’s thank you to Ila is really heartwarming. He tells her, “You are young, you can dream. And for some time you let me into your dreams and I want to thank you for that.” You can really feel that he means it.

As the story moves on, Saajan sees that life still has more for him to experience. This part leaves you smiling with hope.

The movie gently encourages us to find the sweetness in the bitter, to look beyond the ordinary, and to appreciate the simple joys that life places in our everyday lives.

In doing so, The Lunchbox is not just a movie; it is a gentle nudge to appreciate the unspoken, the unexpressed, and the unnoticed nuances of human connections around us. In the beginning of the movie, we see Saajan’s neighbour, a young girl, closing the window on him, but by the end, that same little girl is waving at Saajan, and Saajan smiles back.

Reheating The Lunchbox: A Cliched Angle on the Ending

The ending of The Lunchbox really a debatable topic. The internet is full of explanations on climax interpretations. At first, I liked open endings but not recently, since, it confuses us.

Here are my two cents on The Lunchbox ending.

A part of me, maybe the pessimist Akhil, thinks that Ila might have given up and ended her life. When she took off her jewellery, it reminded me of the lady who jumped from the terrace to find peace (news in the movie).

Positive Akhil looks into Deshpande Aunty tells Ila that she was able to clean a running fan. Could this news have given Ila the courage to clear up her own life’s messes? Will the train bring Fernandez to Ila before she leaves? I hope so, deeply.

Window scene from The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox tells the stories of people tied together by thin strings of chance: a dabbawala’s mistake, voices across the old walls of a worn building, a basket dropped from one window to another. A lonely man and his letters, a housewife and her delicacies… Through life’s unsure moments, they all found relief in a unexpected bonds, and in the midst of loneliness, sparks of connection showed up, warming the hearts stuck in life’s endless give and take.

The Lunchbox is an experience about the simple everyday interactions between people that make a difference.  Experience it!

Read more perspectives and movie recommendations here.

Psychology of Baby (2023): What You’re Not Seeing

Since its OTT release, the Telugu movie Baby (2023) directed by Sai rajesh Neelam, has been the talk of the town. Viral reels and memes are flooding social media with taglines such as “it’s a message to the new generation” and “it’s the reality of our present generation.But is this film really a mirror to contemporary relationships, or is it propagating outdated social norms and stereotypes? Let’s try a detailed analysis.

Baby telugu movie poster
Baby Telugu movie poster

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, please watch it here, or read the story here.

Is It Really a Love Story?

On the surface, Baby (2023) appears to be a love story, but is it really? It seems to perpetuate outdated notions from the 80s and 90s, where a woman’s character is judged based on her attire or lifestyle choices.

Remember how Neelambari was portrayed in the movie Padayappa? Or consider the characters of Vani Vishwanath in Malayalam cinema, and similar examples in the Telugu industry with second heroines in movies.

Just like them, Vaishnavi is subjected to a set of unfair expectations and judgements.

Questionable Messages

One of the alarming messages that Baby seems to deliver is that stalking is acceptable behaviour. Vaishnavi finds herself in a situation where she accidentally kisses Viraj. Though she realises her mistake and apologises, Viraj continues to stalk her, disregarding her repeated refusals.

Anand, on the other hand, is portrayed as a possessive lover. While he does make sacrifices for Vaishnavi, such as gifting her a phone, these actions are often more about him than about her. His possessiveness often overshadows other critical aspects of his life, like his relationship with his mother.

Scenes from Baby(2023)
Scenes from Baby(2023)

The film appears to be whitewashing the male characters while darkening Vaishnavi’s character to an extreme extent. But why?

The Psychology Behind Audience Reactions

The mass audience seems to empathise more with Viraj and Anand, while vilifying Vaishnavi. This bias might be rooted in traditional gender roles and social norms that unconsciously influence our judgement. Vaishnavi’s character challenges these norms or mindsets that our typical audience has, thereby eliciting a stronger negative reaction from the audience.

The film’s commercial success and viral scenes beg the question: why are people resonating with it? It’s not necessarily because the film portrays reality, but perhaps because it confirms existing biases and beliefs. This is where I believe directors and script writers should be more responsible and try to make some differences instead of following the masses.

The film taps into the general scepticism around modern relationships & choices, packaging it as the real story of this generation, when, in fact, it might be perpetuating harmful stereotypes and norms.

Why Do Mass Audiences Hate Vaishnavi, not Viraj?

In my opinion, Viraj is the real antagonist of the movie, and he is the real villain. Still, people hate Vaishnavi. Why?

Traditional Gender Roles and Expectations

In our culture, traditional gender roles often portray women as the moral compass in romantic relationships. They want every woman to be like Sita, but men can be Krishna or Rama, depending on the hero. If Pawan Kalyan does the same thing in Badri or Jr. NTR does the same thing in Brindavanam, it is considered to be mass or cute. But when Vaishnavi does it in Baby, it is considered to be cheating.

Narrative Focus

The story primarily revolves around Vaishnavi’s choices and their consequences, making her actions the driving force behind the emotional turmoil. This focus naturally makes her more of a target for audience scrutiny compared to Viraj, who appears more as a reaction to her choices than as an instigator. This is where I felt, the script writer could have done a better job instead of spreading more toxicity.

Moral Ambiguity

Viraj isn’t portrayed as a clear-cut villain. He’s attracted to Vaishnavi and pursues her, but it’s Vaishnavi who hides her relationship status, thereby enabling Viraj’s advances. He does make a problematic move by threatening to release their kissing video, but this comes after he feels deceived.

Social Norms and Masculine Privilege

Viraj’s actions may be viewed less critically due to societal norms that often excuse or overlook male indiscretions in romantic pursuits. As I said before, many superstars have already done this multiple times on reel & real, but people are ready to accept it.

Why is Baby a Blockbuster and Going Viral, irrespective of its theme and toxicity?

The Pull of Confirmation Bias

One reason for the film’s massive success could be attributed to confirmation bias, a psychological tendency to seek, interpret, and remember information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs. Baby (2023) seems to validate certain societal norms and judgements, making it appealing to a large audience that finds their beliefs reinforced. This is alarming, even in 2023, the majority believe in it.

Emotional Highs and Lows

From a cinematic standpoint, the film employs effective storytelling techniques that take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. High arousal emotions, whether positive or negative, are more likely to be shared; this is known as the emotional contagion theory. Scenes that evoke strong emotions—like anger towards Vaishnavi or sympathy for Anand and Viraj—are more likely to go viral.

The Impact of Social Media Algorithms

Let’s not underestimate the power of algorithms in shaping public opinion. Content that triggers strong emotional responses gets shared and commented on more, which gives it higher visibility on social media platforms. This creates a feedback loop in which the more a scene or character is discussed, the more visibility it gains, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle of virality.

The Bystander Effect in Digital Spaces

The ease with which people can share their opinions online paradoxically creates a digital bystander effect. Many might disagree with the portrayals and messages in the film but assume that someone else will voice these concerns. Meanwhile, those who agree with the film’s messages are more likely to share and propagate its content, thus contributing to its blockbuster status.

Baby (2023) is entertaining for youngsters, but it also reinforces harmful stereotypes about women and men. Its popularity shows that filmmakers need to be responsible rather than merely echoing societal biases.

For more movie analysis and suggestions, click here.

Decoding Mani Ratnam’s Layered Storytelling in Ponniyin Selvan

Mani Ratnam’s films are known for their layered storytelling. Ponniyin Selvan is no different, packed with scenes that become more meaningful with an understanding of Tamil history. Here I will share my interpretations and observations, which may help explain Ponniyin Selvan better.

The Entrance of the Enigma: Aditya Karikalan

Aditya Karikalan (Chiyaan Vikram), the character, is introduced in an intriguing manner, with his first appearance shrouded in fog. The moment he steps onto the battlefield, the fog clears, revealing a warrior prince carrying a heavy heart.

The misty backdrop is Mani Ratnam’s creative method to hint at Aditya’s obscure past. With this single shot, Maniratnam establishes that he is coming from a shady past, and we are not clear about his past.

Aditya Karikalan introduction

We are hearing about his past through his conversations with Parthibendran and Kundavai in multiple instances.

As per the historical narratives and the novel, Aditya is stubborn, sticking to his decisions regardless of the circumstances. But no one really knows, who he really was, or what he was going through.

Shadowed Past and Victorious Present

Now, let’s pick another scene. After winning the Nolamba dynasty, Aditya explains his past and agony to Parthibendran.
It’s all dark, and Aditya’s face is not clear; we are getting only one half, and if you look at the background, it’s misty again. I believe it’s symbolic of the shady past of Aditya Karikalan.

Aditya- Parthibendran

The deliberate symbolism points towards Aditya’s murky past. When the painful past is shared, and Aditya waves the flag, the frame transitions into sunlight.

This change implies the flag wave as a metaphorical act to ward off the clouded past. War, Rage, and Victory are his ways to clear off the painful and obscure past around him.

The choice of costumes for Aditya is noteworthy. He is always seen in black and red, contrasting with Arulmozhi, who wears pristine white. This difference in colour choices signifies the differing characters and histories of the two.

Ponniyin selvan

Parallels with Karnan from Mahabharatha

This is actually a wild theory. Thanks to Sandeep (Nanban 🙂 )

Aditya Karikalan’s portrayal has parallels with Karnan from Mahabharatha.

Sunlight glare behind Aditya

During Aditya’s triumphant moments, a sun glare can be seen in the backdrop. Ravi Varman (the cinematographer) brilliantly incorporated the sun glare as an aura around Aditya. Contrarily, when Aditya is depicted in a state of sadness, the sky appears cloudy, or he is shown in darkness. Even his death happened at night.

Nandini - Aditya Karikalan climax scene

Aditya asks Nandini if it is hard for her to look at him. Then he waves off all the lamps and dies in the darkness.

In the Mahabharata, even Lord Krishna wept at Karna’s death because Karna was kind, loyal, and understood his dharma. However, he was cursed by Bhumi Devi for disrespecting her. It was just his luck or curse spoiled him. He was unlucky as much as Aditya.

Aditya was also cursed. Nandini asked him only one thing, to spare Pandiya’s life, but he ignored her plea. He disrespected her and hurt her. That was the sin he was carrying (metaphorically, Aditya says, “I consumed poison that day”).

A dying Karna asked Krishna to inform his mother Kunti of his death. He could have asked Krishna to give victory to Duryodhana and bring his armies back to life. However, he didn’t. He wanted his mother to proclaim publicly that he was her son and that he was not of low caste. He was looking for acceptance.

Aditya’s last words were a request for Nandhini to tell him that he still lives in her heart. He was looking for acceptance.

Climax scene Ponniyin Selvan

The epic beauty of the scene is the way Vanthiya Thevan carries Aditya’s dead body. The background is filled with smoke, just like when Aditya was first introduced in PS-1. It is a shady mystery, and we could never really understand Aditya, even his death remains a mystery.

The Dance of Victory: Devarattam

Devarattam, a traditional dance form, was performed by kings and warriors to celebrate victory, particularly in the Pandyan and Chola dynasties. During Vanthiyathevan’s visit to Kadambur in the movie, however, the dance depicted appears to align more with “Kecak” than Devarattam.

Devarattam
Actual Devarattam, image credits: twitter/@devarattam

Some argue that Devarattam took inspiration from Kecak, but this theory doesn’t holds historical back. The Chola’s naval invasions in Southeast Asia, a possible channel for cultural exchange, started only in 1025, while Aditya Karikala and the Pandyas were active before 1000 CE. Additionally, Southeast Asian rulers like those from Srivijaya, who had close relations with the Pala Empire in Bengal, did not seem to have left any influence on the dance form.

The real Keckak from Bali

The dance is based on the story of the Ramayana and is traditionally performed in temples and villages across Bali (Indonesia).

The Clash of Titans: Kundavai-Nandini Confrontation Scene

The Kundavai-Nandini faceoff scene is one of the most epic scenes in Ponniyin Selvan part -1. The rivalry between two women is on full display in this scene.

But I feel, many might have misread it. Here is my interpretation.

Background: Nandini has deep resentment towards Kundavai, blaming her for all her miseries. Nandini believes that it was Kundavai who got her expelled from the palace and constantly made her feel inferior due to her lineage. In a bid to gain power, Nandini manipulates Periya Pazhuvettayar and considers Madurantakan’s claim to the throne. She keeps Sundara Chola, Kundavai’s father, under house arrest, cutting him off from others for easy manipulation.

Learning about Nandini’s scheme from Vandiyathevan, Kundavai decides to confront her at the Tanjore palace. As the dramatic background music “Saayam Sanchare” (Evening- where Day and Night meets) fills the air, their coded conversation unfolds:

Nandini: “Upon your visit, Tanjore palace itself has become beautiful.”

Kundavai: “But I heard all the beauty in the world has been kept in the Tanjore palace.” (hinting at Nandini’s beauty)

Nandini: “Yes, beauty is held captive here indeed.” (referring to Sundara Chola being under house arrest, Sundara means ‘beautiful’)

Kundavai: “Captive? Does the golden beauty [Sundara Chola] not adorn the throne?

Nandini: “Yes, it’s gold, old gold.” (referring to the king as old)

Kundavai: “Faded gold is the most precious.”

Nandini: “Even golden shackles are still shackles.” (indicating Sundara Chola is under her control, regardless of his position)

Kundavai: “The key to the shackles are in our hand anyway.” (asserting her ability to free Sundara Chola)

Nandini: “No one can defeat the princess (Kundavai) in an argument.”

Kundavi - Nandini fce off

Following this heated exchange, Kundavai smiles as the background score saayam sanchare intensifies. The combined genius of AR Rahman, Ravi Varman, and Mani Ratnam in this scene is simply beyond words.

Kundavi is envious of Nandini’s beauty; Nandini is jealous of Kundavi’s power; and throughout her life, Nandini feels inferior to Kundavi because of the power she holds. You will get all this from this scene, if you read it well.

Nandini: The Ever’green’ Queen

Instagram post_ I_Filmiholic

Pandiya’s Fish Eyed(Meenakshi) diety is green. Crafted from a single large emerald stone, the goddess is believed to be Vishnu’s sister, just as Nambi(Jayaram), a vaishnavite, is Nandini’s brother.

Echoes from the Past and Authentic Settings

There’s a scene where Vandhiyathevan ingeniously escapes from the Pazhuvettarayar guards, reminiscent of chase sequences from the movie ‘Thiruda Thiruda’. The elements that Vandhiyathevan disturbs in the crowd — from buttermilk to puffed rice — align perfectly with the setting of 10th century Thanjavur, enhancing the authenticity of the scene.

Mani Ratnam also adeptly portrays the flourishing trade relations of the time. The period from 900 to 1300 CE, termed the Early Age of Commerce in Southeast Asian history, saw burgeoning trade ties between China and South India.

Chinese charioteer

In the film, the charioteer is usually depicted as a Chinese man when the scene is set in Lanka. The character’s inability to understand Tamil allows Arulmozhi to converse freely with his companions without worrying about eavesdropping. This detail cleverly illustrates the language and cultural barriers present in the historical trade relations.

Accupuncture chola period

Another historically accurate detail is Sundara Cholan’s acupuncture treatment, highlighting the influence of Chinese medical practices in the region during the time.

Unnoticed Moments: Sembiyan Mahadevi & Sendhan Amudhan

One of the most poignant scenes, overlooked by many in the first viewing, happens in Pazhayaarai. As Sendhan Amudhan reaches Trisha to deliver news about Vandhiya Thevan, he nods at Sembiyan Mahadevi, who responds in acknowledgment. This loaded interaction may go unnoticed if you’re unfamiliar with the book.

Sendhan Amudhan is actually Sembiyan Mahadevi’s son, while Madhurantakan is the son of Oomai Rani. Will explain in detail soon.

Sembiyan Mahadevi’s Pioneering Influence

What’s striking in the movie is Sembiyan Mahadevi sporting a pottu (bindi). A surprising element, considering the times depicted, this choice moves away from the traditional depiction of widows.

Sembiyan Mahadevi

Sembiyan Mahadevi was the queen consort of the Chola Empire from 949 CE – 957 CE, wife of Gandaraditya Chola.

Following Gandaraditya’s death, Sembiyan Mahadevi, rather than committing sati or withdrawing to the Andapuram (the palace’s female quarters), chose a different path. She devoted herself to religious and social activism, becoming not only a revered dowager queen but also the matriarch of the Chola family for the next 50 years.

A 1,000-year-old idol of the Queen was traced recently by the TN Idol Wing.
A 1,000-year-old idol of the Queen was traced recently by the TN Idol Wing.

A pioneer in Kalpani (literally ‘stone-work’), Sembiyan Mahadevi initiated projects that transformed ancient brick and mortar temples into enduring granite structures. Her historical foresight led her to order the copying of ancient inscriptions before the reconstruction work. The temples and icons commissioned under her oversight bore a unique mark, and she donated jewels and bronzes to many temples, some built by her and others by her son, Uttama Chola( Madhurantakan).

Symbolism of Victory and Omen: The Red Lion Flag and the Comet

A symbolic scene depicts the triumph of Chola king Arul Mozhi Varman over Mahindan, the Sri Lankan king, as the waves on the coast of Lanka wash ashore the Lankan King’s red lion flag.

Lankan king's flag

A powerful visual metaphor that conveys the complete and utter defeat of the Sri Lankan forces. The foamy waves that touch the Lankan shore symbolize the Chola army’s arrival on Sri Lankan soil, and their presence is a reminder that the Chola Empire is now the dominant power in the region.

Comet scene
Comet in the background When Nandini order to take captive of Arulmozi

In another instance, the scene where Nandhini and Pazhuvettayir order a convoy to capture Arulmozhi, you can spot a comet in the background. This comet reappears when the Pandiya’s are shown. The comet is a symbol of foreboding, hinting at a threat to the throne or signalling the imminent death of Aditya.

Nandhini and Pazhuvettayir

The Comet Scene in Ponniyin Selvan: A Symbol of Impending Doom

Scientifically, the comet seen in Ponniyin Selvan can’t be Halley’s comet as it passed by in 989 CE, by which time Rajaraja had already ascended the throne and Aditya was dead.

Comet in the background while showing Pandiyan Prince
Comet in the background while showing Pandiyan Prince

Historically, the appearance of a comet has often been interpreted as a sign of the impending death of a great person, usually a king. Notable examples include the comets associated with the deaths of Julius Caesar and King Harold. In 1910, when Halley’s Comet streaked across the sky, King Edward VII passed away. Around this time, Kalki (1899-1954) would have been around 11 years old and may have heard about the event.

In the context of the movie, the comet symbolizes the impending death of Aditya Karikalan. However, given Sundara Chola’s frail health, everyone interprets the comet as a prediction of his demise.

Sangam Poetry and Cinematic Genius: The Tale of Mandakini in Ponniyin Selvan

The meeting of Mandakini (Uma Rani), and Sundara Chola has a song playing in the background, it’s another example of Mani Ratnam’s brilliance. 

It was so painful for me considering Mandakini’s fate. She doesn’t know she has children (will explain more on this soon); she considered Arulmozhi her son (considering it’s from her beloved one), and After years, she meets Sundara Chola again and lays down her life to save his.

Now if you try to understand more about that song, you will realise how painful it is to listen by watching Mandakini’s (Uma Rani’s) death.

This song is ‘Puranaanuru 242,’ one of the 400 songs from the ancient Tamil anthology (Sangam Poetry). AR Rahman adapted this song for the heartbreaking scene of Mandakini’s demise.

The original song was penned by Gudavai Keerathanar (was one of the poets of the Sangam period). Although he belonged to Gudavail, he visited many towns and made many friends. Perunjathan was one such friend from Ollaiyur. He was a chief Satthan (Chieftain) who was famous for his valorous deeds in battlefield. 

The poet comes to the town of Ollaiyur and realises that his friend is no more. The whole town is mourning. There he composed this song out of great sadness. 

In the poem, the poet questions the jasmine flower, asking why it still blooms after his death in Ollaiyur.

The lyrics go like this: “Young men don’t wear them. Women with bangles don’t pluck them. The whole town is sad because Satthan, the warrior, died. So, Jasmine, who are you blooming for? Why are you still blooming in vain?”

Mandakini's death (Uma rani)

Nothing could better represent the tragic love and death of Mandakini. For what she lived for. It’s a painful question.

Love, Loss, and Forgotten Memories: Nandini’s Birth Secret

Sundara Chola and Mandakini were in a romantic relationship, but they were forced apart before Sundara Chola’s coronation. Overcome with heartbreak, Mandakini jumped off a lighthouse. However, Anirudha Bramarayan (was a leading minister in the court of the Sundara Chola) rescued her and sent her to Sri Lanka, while telling Sundara Chola that she had died. Meanwhile, Sundara Chola moved on, got married, and had children. His eldest son, Aditya Karikalan, was older than Nandini.

In Sri Lanka, Mandakini and Veera Pandian, both rescued by the boatman(Karuthiramaran) and with Mandakini having lost all her memories, spent a significant amount of time together. She got pregnant and decided to leave Sri Lanka, while Veera Pandian stayed back and lived with the Sri Lankan king.

On her return to Tanjore, Mandakini and her mute sister Vani encountered Sembian Mahadevi, who was also pregnant. They started living with her in the palace. Both women gave birth around the same time. Sembian Mahadevi’s son was stillborn, while Mandakini gave birth to twins and left them. Sembian Mahadevi adopted the male twin, Madhurantakan, and handed over the female twin, Nandini, to Azhwarkaddiyan’s (Nambi) parents. Vani was instructed to bury the supposedly dead infant, who, in reality, survived. She took the child, Sendhan Amudhan, and left.

Meanwhile, Veerapandiyan sent Karuthiruman (boatman played by Yog Japee) to relay a message to Mandakini, who was back in Kodi Karai under her father’s care. However, upon arrival, he found that Mandakini had suffered another accident, which had restored her memory. 

She could not recognise Karuthiruman, which meant she had no recollection of what had transpired between her fall from the lighthouse and her recent accident.

Was Nandini ever in love with Aditya Karikalan?

Nandini, a creation of Kalki, is one of the most multifaceted characters you will encounter in “Ponniyin Selvan.” She is like a diamond. Not only is she stunningly beautiful, but she’s also incredibly intelligent. Her willpower and ingenuity make her a unique femme fatale in literature.

Nandhini and Pazhuvettayir

She has been described as treacherous, vicious, venomous, lethal, and dangerous. These aren’t misjudgments, as Nandini is truly the most formidable character in the novel.

Understanding Nandini takes some time because, much like a finely cut diamond, she has numerous aspects to her persona. The novel introduces us to her character well before we meet her. Kandan Maran speaks of Periya Pazhuvetarayar’s marriage to a younger woman, and teases him about his obsession with her. Later, Azhwarkadiyan shares a censored version of her life story, painting her as a sisterly figure and stoking our sympathy for her as a young woman forced to marry an older man.

Nandini's introduction

We first meet Nandini through the eyes of Vandiya Devan, entranced by her beauty, as she peeks out from the curtains of a veiled palanquin to investigate the disturbance in her path.

Aditya Karikalan’s frank confession to Parthibendran uncovers more about Nandini’s history. It seems that Nandini mastered her unique brand of seduction with Aditya Karikalan. But was it love, or was it a longing for the power she would gain if she were to marry the Crown Prince? It’s hard to say for sure.

Nandini's childhood

What we do know is that the deep-seated jealousy between Kundavai and Nandini originated from their childhood. Nandini coveted Kundavai’s status and influence as the Princess, while Kundavai envied Nandini’s beauty.

The scene where Nandini imagines her childhood as a queen

Nandini’s obsession with power drove her, I believe, and her confession to Aditya in the end holds some truth, in my opinion

Nandini - Aditya Karikalan climax scene

Nandini v/s Kalpana

Do you remember the first movie that Mani Ratnam made with Aishwarya Rai?
It’s Iruvar (1997).

In Iruvar, Aishwarya played a character similar to Jayalalitha. There are striking similarities in their ruthlessness.

It’s as if Mani Ratnam saw reflections of Nandini in Jayalalitha and vice versa. Like Nandhini in Jayalalitha or a Jayalalitha in Nandhini. But both are versions of Lady Macbeth considering their character shades.

That can be a reason why he picked Aishwarya for this role.

A scene in “Iruvar” where Kalpana (Aishwarya Rai) sows seeds of doubt in Anandan’s (Mohan Lal) mind is particularly reminiscent of Nandini’s manipulations.

She asked Anandan, “Who is bigger? An actor or a CM? Don’t you to wish to be the CM?

Anandan thought about her question. He had never considered himself to be a competent to his friend Tamizhselvan. But Kalpana’s words made him wonder if he could be.

Fast forward 25 years, and the same Aishwarya Rai masterfully brings Nandini to life on screen with the same shades of Kalpana.
Kalpana’s words were similar to what Nandhini had said to Pazhuvettarayar. Nandhini had charmed the elderly Pazhuvettarayar and planted the seeds of desire in him.

Nandhini and Pazhuvettayir  emotional
Nandhini and Pazhuvettayir  emotional

She had told him that Madurantakan should claim the throne, by that the power will always lies in Pazhuvettarayar.

But Nandhini had failed in her attempts unlike Kalpana.

Climax
This realisation & the guilt made her commit suicide.

Please share your thoughts in comments.

Read more film analysis here.

Siya(2022): A Journey Through the Dark Corners of Indian Democracy

Before I talk about the movie Siya, let me share some horrible incidents with you.

Case – 1

On September 14, 2020, a case was registered at the Hathras police station in Uttar Pradesh, India, under number 194/2020. The victim was a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by four men from an influential family.

The four accused men dragged the victim into a field and gang-raped her. They also tried to strangle her to death. The victim was found lying unconscious in the field by some villagers. She was rushed to a hospital in Hathras.

A scene from Siya
A Scene from Siya

The police were able to record the victim’s statement on September 22(After the protest). She died on September 29, 2020.

On the night of September 29, at around 2:30 am, the victim was cremated by the Uttar Pradesh Police without the consent or knowledge of the victim’s family. Petrol was used for the cremation.

When the news initially broke through social media, the Agra Police, Hathras District Magistrate, and UP’s Information & Public Relations department dismissed it as “fake news.”

A video surfaced in which the Hathras District Magistrate can be seen pressuring the family to alter their statement. He was heard saying, “Don’t ruin your credibility. These media people will leave in a couple of days. Half have already left, the rest will leave in 2-3 days. We are the ones standing with you. Now it depends on you if you want to keep changing your testimony…”

Inhumane Actions For Defence

On October 2, the head of BJP’s IT cell, Amit Malviya, tweeted a video of the 19-year-old victim, revealing her face, allegedly violating Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.

On October 4, Rajveer Singh Pehelwan, a former MLA of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), organized a rally in support of the accused. The rally garnered hundreds of attendees, including family members of the four accused.

A BJP leader, Ranjeet Srivastava, claimed the accused were not guilty of the crime. He further questioned, “Such girls are found dead only in specific places. They are discovered in sugarcane, corn, and millet fields, or in bushes, gutters, or forests. Why are they never found dead in paddy or wheat fields?

Another statement that drew fierce criticism came from BJP MLA Surendra Nath Singh, who suggested that “Sanskar should be instilled in girls to prevent incidents of rape.

Reports from The Wire and other sources indicated that the Uttar Pradesh government engaged Concept PR, a Mumbai-based public relations firm. Allegedly, the PR firm released press statements on behalf of the government, asserting that the Hathras teenager was not raped.

Some Actions

The Hathras police arrested the four accused—Sandeep, Ramu, Lavkush, and Ravi—on charges of attempted murder and gang rape.

On March 2, 2023, the Hathras district court acquitted three of the four accused—Ramu, Luvkush, and Ravi. The fourth accused, Sandeep, was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder (IPC Section 304) and offenses under the SC/ST Act. However, he was not found guilty of rape and murder, receiving a life imprisonment sentence along with a fine of ₹50,000.

The State government, led by Yogi Adityanath, and the district administration announced a compensation of ₹2.5 million (US$31,000) for the victim’s family. Additionally, they offered a junior assistant job to a family member. Furthermore, the family will be allocated a house in Hathras under the State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) scheme.

Case – 2

This is infamous 2017 Unnao Rape Case.

The 2017 Unnao rape case involved the gang rape and assault of a 17-year-old girl in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, India. The incident occurred on June 4, 2017.

According to the victim’s statement, she was enticed by a woman named Shashi Singh, along with her son, Shubham Singh, and daughter, Nidhi Singh, to relocate to Kanpur with promises of securing a job.

On the night of June 11, 2017, she accompanied Shubham Singh and allegedly endured multiple instances of rape by him and his driver, Awdhesh Tiwari.

A scene from Siya
A scene from Siya

On June 21, 2017, 17 days later, the victim was found in a village in Auraiya district, Uttar Pradesh. She received medical treatment for her injuries at a hospital in Lucknow.

The police recorded her statement on June 22, but prevented her from identifying one of her assailants BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar.

Apr 3, 2018: Rape survivor’s father is beaten up by MLA’s brother and his goons.

Though both sides lodge complaints against each other, the police choose to arrest only her father and he is sent to judicial custody. Her father dies in police custody. The post-mortem report lists the cause of death to be “blood poisoning due to perforation of colon”. It also lists multiple injuries on his body.

Prior to his death, he accused Atul, the brother of Sengar, of leading the assault. However, no action was taken in response to this complaint at the time.

On April 8, 2018, the victim attempted self-immolation at the residence of Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

April 11, 2018:  The victim and her family are confined to a hotel room on the pretext of protection, without water or electricity.

Getting Worse

April 12, 2018:  Sengar, Atul Singh and their accomplices are arrested by the CBI.

April 14, 2018:  The CBI makes a second arrest in the Unnao rape case . It takes into custody the woman who allegedly took the girl to Sengar on the day of the crime.

July 2, 2018:  The uncle of the victim is convicted in a 19-year-old case of attempt to murder that had been filed by Atul Singh. He is sentenced to 10 years in prison by a district court.

July 28, 2018:  A Rae Bareli truck-car collision leaves the girl and her lawyer critically injured. Two of the victim’s aunts are killed in the accident. The victim, who is battling for her life in a hospital in Lucknow with multiple fractures, head and chest injuries, and her lawyer are on ventilator support.

"Our MLA is innocent" on the wall & the victim is passing
“Our MLA is innocent” on the wall & the victim is passing

On December 16, 2019, Sengar was found guilty of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. His associates were also convicted and received varying prison terms.

Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav

As we celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, marking 75 years of our independence, we find ourselves questioning the very essence of our freedom. Has it truly manifested? Can we truly call ourselves free when there is an evident shift of power from one oppressive regime to another? Britishers may have left us, but did they leave a vacuum only to be filled by illiterate criminals?

Who should we blame for this?

The responsibility, I believe, falls upon each one of us. We, the citizens of India, who possess the right to vote, have the right to choose who shall represent us and who shall guide us.

There’s a saying, “Politicians are like diapers; we should change them frequently, otherwise it stinks.” Well, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A truth that most of us have learned through life experiences, but do we act upon it?

Politics in our country seems to have become a playground for the criminals and oligarchs. Once an individual assumes a political position, they cling to power like a leech for their entire life.

South-North-West all same

States like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar and Karnataka all reflect the same issue:

Look at Tamil Nadu; one family has been ruling the state for years. Go to Telangana; one person is ruling the state like there is no alternative. Look at Karnataka; it’s either Siddharamaiyya or Yedyurappa. On the national level, we have dynasty politics, or ultra-right-wing politics.

Our collectivist culture, our admiration of heroism—it’s not wrong! But when it transforms into blind admiration and political slavery, we must recognise and correct it.

If you are a communist, no matter what, you try to defend the party. You want that party to be in power, no matter how corrupt or fascist they are.

If you are a BJP supporter, you don’t care who your CM is or what they do. You just want to see the saffron flag waving.

It’s not about the party we support or the colour of the flag we want to see waving. It’s about who represents us and shapes our future.

Remember the atrocities that have been committed under these ultimatums of power? The VYAPAM scandal (Over 40 deaths, still a mystery) or the Balrampur gang rape—the list goes on.

Just like in our Telugu movies, where the common man bows down to the hero, the “devudu”, we too find ourselves bowing to these politicians and bureaucrats, suffering their injustices.

Pooja Pandey as Siya
Pooja Pandey as Siya

Siya – Untold story of 1000s of girls

Siya is Manish Mundra’s directorial debut, starring Pooja Pandey and Vineet Kumar Singh. 

I am happy that I choose Siya over Adipurush today.

I believe Adhipurush is the past, and Siya is about my present and future. 

Siya, a 17-year-old rape survivor, is being held captive and repeatedly abused by a group of powerful men. 
She had two options: “endure in silence” or “fight injustice bravely.” 
She chose the second option.

Siya decides to go against all odds and fight for justice. The film talks about how the police and politicians using their power to suppress the truth and oppress the oppressed.

Pooja Pandey, the lead character, beautifully plays her part as a simple, obedient, yet courageous woman. She doesn’t transform into a fiery fighter instantly; the character’s progression is remarkable.

Vineet Kumar Singh stands out as a modest lawyer who handles notary work and refuses to be intimidated by the police, providing strong support to Siya.

Siya is available at Zee5 with subtitles.

Siya & Her Question

We need more directors like Manish Mundra. Here, don’t expect the usual one woman, one man spectacle heroism. It’s a mirror, not a screen.

You are about to witness the experiences of past victims that we discussed. How you and I let them suffer. How cruel our society is. Watch it and feel our shared guilt.

People in power often escape consequences, and yes, sometimes they do get caught, but by then, the victim may have lost everything.

Siya asks us a question:

What good is justice when neither the victim nor her family will live to see it served?

This 1 hour and 50-minute movie serves as a reminder. If a politician or bureaucrat could abuse your sister or kill your brother tomorrow, how would you fight?

A drunk IAS officer killed a journalist in Kerala, yet the police saved him with dialysis, and he remains in power. Where is justice for the victim and his family?

Change your diapers before the smell becomes unbearable.

Read more about unpopular movies here.

Michael Mann’s Thief(1981): A Detailed Script Analysis

Have you ever wondered how scriptwriters create characters? Do they start from scratch? What lenses do scriptwriters use when they watch movies? Here, we will do a mini-script analysis to understand this better. To do this, we will look at the theme (events), characters, and the plot. I will focus on the characters and events more.

A Scene from Thief (1981)

For the purpose, we are choosing Thief, a 1981 American neo-noir heist action thriller film directed and written by Michael Mann. The film is loosely based on The Home Invaders by Frank Hohimer.

Thief (1981) A Brief Summary

In this 1981 film, Thief, Frank is a jewel thief of unparalleled skill. He manages to keep his past hidden behind the façade of a successful businessman. He has two thriving businesses and a seemingly peaceful life, but is it all as serene as it appears?

A scene from Thief (1981)
A scene from Thief (1981)

Frank thinks he has everything figured out. But there is one thing missing from his life: a family. When he starts dating Jessie, a cashier, the missing piece seems to be falling into place.

But then, everything changes. Frank is double-crossed during one last job, a diamond heist. His fencer, Joe Gags, is brutally killed, and his share of the loot is stolen. He is betrayed by Leo, a mob boss who has been watching his every move.

From a thrilling diamond heist gone wrong, to a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with vengeance, and an unexpected twist in his personal life, Frank’s world spirals into chaos. His trusted friend is murdered, his family is threatened, and everything he’s worked for is on the brink of ruin.

But Frank is not going down without a fight. A man with nothing to lose is the most dangerous kind. Armed with determination, a burning desire for revenge, and a whole lot of explosives, Frank is ready to burn his past to the ground and settle the score. He’s done playing by the rules. It’s time for the master thief to step out of the shadows.

A Perfect Script & A Well Written Character

Let’s analyse the script and try to understand how the screenwriter Michael Mann might have developed it. What might have been his thought process when he started developing the script about Frank?

Character Sketch

Frank is a complex character. He is a skilled thief with a hardened exterior, but he also has a desire for a simple, “normal” life. This desire for normalcy comes from his need for stability, which is likely a reaction to his tumultuous past and ongoing criminal activities.

A scene from Thief (1981)
A scene from Thief (1981)

He shows signs of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to his past experiences in prison. He is hyper-vigilant, has recurring bouts of anger, and struggles with emotional intimacy. These experiences have also made him resilient and resourceful, but they have also made it difficult for him to trust others and let go of control.

Frank is an introverted individual who has adapted to survive in a world that demands extroversion. He is guarded, self-reliant, and meticulous in his work. He prefers solitude or the company of a select few. This could be a coping mechanism to manage his PTSD symptoms and control his environment.

Throughout the story, Frank goes on a journey of self-discovery and self-reconciliation. He is forced to confront his “shadow” (the hidden, darker aspects of his personality) and integrate it with his “persona” (the mask he presents to the world). This is a key part of his character arc.

Three Acts & Three Psychological Approaches

ACT ONE: Dissonance and Identity Crisis

In the first act, Frank aspires to live a normal life, indicating a clear cognitive dissonance between his personal identity and his occupational identity as a thief. This internal conflict plays a crucial role in driving the narrative and establishing the emotional tension in the film. This dissonance is a key driving force for the narrative and sets up the emotional tension.

Tuesday Weld as Jessie & James Caan as Frank from Thief (1981)
Tuesday Weld as Jessie & James Caan as Frank from Thief (1981)

ACT TWO: Confrontation and Growth

In the second act of Thief, Frank’s inner conflict becomes too much to bear. After Leo betrays him, Frank’s dreams of a normal life are shattered. He is forced to face the reality of his criminal lifestyle.

A scene from Thief (1981)
A scene from Thief (1981)

Frank realises that he can’t have both. He can’t be a thief and have a normal life. This realisation is a turning point for Frank. It leads him to change his behaviour and attitude.

This confrontation can be related to the psychoanalytic concept of ‘insight’. Frank’s confrontation with reality is a powerful moment of self-awareness. It propels him into the third act of the story.

Act Three: Resolution and Reconciliation

In the third act, Frank undergoes a transformation. He wants to escape his criminal past, so he embraces his “shadow” – the part of his personality that he had previously tried to suppress or deny. In Jungian psychology, confronting and accepting one’s shadow is a crucial step in achieving self-integration. Frank’s decision to quit his life of crime marks his journey towards reconciling his conflicting identities.

Frank’s narrative, from conflict through confrontation to resolution, mirrors a psychological journey that many individuals undertake when they confront uncomfortable truths about themselves.

Title Card of the movie Thief
Title Card

In Thief, this journey is not only an exploration of Frank’s character but also a wider commentary on identity, morality, and the potential for personal change.

Why A Must Watch?

Thief is one of the best “One Last Job” or “Double Life Rom-Com” movies I have ever seen. The scriptwriter did an excellent job of developing the characters, and I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves to write.

For more film analysis & studies, click here.

A Deadly Chase: The Psychological Layers of Hunting Emma

Have you ever witnessed a crime that changed your life forever? Imagine finding yourself trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse, pursued by ruthless criminals. What would you do to survive? The South African action thriller Hunting Emma directed by Byron Davis is about such an incident.

Leandie du Randt as Emma from Hunting Emma
Leandie du Randt as Emma

A Teacher, A Drug Lord , A Crime & A Past

Emma le Roux, a pacifist kindergarten teacher, starts a trip to visit her father in the Karoo region. However, her journey takes a dark turn when she becomes an inadvertent witness to a horrifying crime. Suddenly, Emma finds herself in grave danger, caught between the criminals and her own will to survive.

A drug syndicate, led by the menacing Bosman (Neels van Jaarsveld), is attempting to transport a cache of drugs along the road. The group, consisting of his henchmen Baz and Jay, as well as AJ and Boela, two rich boys seeking notoriety, and Bosman’s nervous cousin Piet, crosses paths with Emma.

As the criminals close in on her, Emma’s peaceful nature gives way to a fierce determination. She taps into the skills her ex-Special Forces Commando father instilled in her during years of training. Emma transforms from a pacifist into a force to be reckoned with, willing to do whatever it takes to survive.

Get ready for a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Leandie du Randt: Woman On Fire

Despite a small budget and lesser-known actors, Hunting Emma strikes gold with its performances. Leandie du Randt, in the lead role of Emma, delivers an intensely believable performance.

She reminds me of Cristine Reyes in Maria (2019). Her transformation from a peace-loving schoolteacher to a woman on the run is both convincing and riveting. It’s a well-developed character arc.

Where to Watch ‘Hunting Emma’?

You can watch this movie visiting dailymotion or youtube. In both the platforms, some kind-hearted human being uploaded the movie with subtitles.

Hunting Emma, watch here with subtitles.

There is Nothing New, Still It Works!

There is nothing new about the plot: A History of Violence, No Country for Old Men, Nobody, Man on Fire, Taken, Equaliser, Maria (2019), and Man from Nowhere—all these films use the same template. Even the recent Indian films Vikram and Kaithi follow the same structure.

They feature a compelling character with a unique set of skills who is often brought out of retirement or their peaceful existence to confront some form of injustice.

They follow a familiar formula: a protagonist with a past, a catalyst for action (often an injustice suffered by the protagonist or their loved ones), and a subsequent series of escalating confrontations culminating in a cathartic resolution.

The repetitive use of this formula doesn’t lessen its appeal. That’s the beauty of this template. Why?

Psychology Behind This Template

Here, the heroes are not one-dimensional; they carry emotional baggage, past regrets, and personal demons, just like real people do. Watching them confront and overcome their past as they struggle against the external threat can be very satisfying for audiences.

Catharsis: In modern psychology, this has been associated with the idea of emotional release and the benefit of expressing emotions. The intense situations and violent encounters in these films can provide a form of vicarious catharsis for audiences, offering a sense of relief or even exhilaration.

From the perspective of a scriptwriter, these patterns serve both practical and artistic purposes. On the practical side, they provide a structure that guides the progression of the narrative, helps maintain tension and pace, and keeps audiences engaged.

On the artistic side, these patterns allow writers to explore different facets of a character’s personality, their moral and ethical boundaries, and how they evolve over the course of the narrative.

Script writer Deon Meyer did an excellent job considering this aspect.

Why Hunting Emma is a Must Watch!

So, Hunting Emma got a tick for all the above reasons, and I highly recommend it for you.

Hunting Emma is a unique blend of intense action, suspense, and character development.

The film takes us on a thrilling ride through the South African wilderness, showcasing both the beauty of the landscape and the depths of human determination. Great work from cinematographer William Collinson.

If you’re tired of the same old Hollywood blockbusters and you’re open to trying something new, then this South African Thriller might be the breath of fresh air you need.

So, are you ready to try a thriller from the other side of the world?
Are you going to give Hunting Emma a watch? Let me know in the comments!

For more film analysis and reviews, click here.