Write & Watch

Salesh Dipak Fernando

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I was a little skeptical when I was called upon as a critic for a Tanglish Comedy Kala Gala 5.0. That space is something which I haven’t explored before. But I am grateful for the opportunity. I have been to their shows before this time I wasn’t there just for the laughs. The show had 6 acts which varied in tone, structure and approach.

The show began with Annamalai whose set had one primary objective – To warm up the audience for the acts that were to follow and he was spot on in that aspect. The jokes were very toned down but very well phased out to keep the audience in splits consistently.

The next two acts were Abishek Kumar and Syama Harini. I half expected Abishiek to start off with a comedy about his name. But he took a pleasant detour to comment on Depression. To present it in a comical way without offending anyone in the audience takes a lot of effort. And there’s this unusual chirpiness about Abishek which resonated very well with the audience.

Syama’s set was very precise and to the point. She focused on periods which is again a topic which we rarely speak about. It’s supposed to be a taboo. There was a lot to ponder for the audience in between the laughs. To me, these two sets were the high points of the entire show. It is important to have some space for comedy which is socially relevant.

Krithin was the next on stage – The guest spot. His set felt dry humor but a little too dry for my liking. But then that’s me. It seemed a little too abrupt too. A bit of work and the same set would be top-notch.

Marasamy started off very well by taking a dig at his grandfather. But after a point it became repetitive. A little too stretched beyond the time frame required for grandfather jokes. Maybe he could have tried to fill in with something else just to add some variety and avoid repetition.

Jagan is what you would call a glorious finale. He’s got that amazing ability to keep the audience hooked for the entire time frame. Every joke landed. Every musical note was a laugh riot and more importantly his set was something which everybody could relate to. It was a perfect end to a fabulous evening.

Despite the minor hiccups I loved how the acts were spaced out. Kudos to the entire for a brilliant effort.








This review wasn’t on the cards an hour ago.  Picking up Randomly Ordered for reading was an instinctive reaction. For starters, I loved note at the beginning which gave the readers an idea of what to expect. More often than not our working days are filled with set routines. Wake up, Go to Office, Finish the Day’s work, Come back Home and Sleep. It does like a mediocre day to the naked eye.

We seldom pause and reflect on the extraordinary sequence of thoughts that occupy our mind day in and day out.  From the time we wake up to the time we sleep our mind functions like a never-ending maze with each action and reaction resulting in a particular thought process. Randomly ordered amplifies an ordinary day in a person’s life by sprinkling it with extraordinary thoughts.

Randomly ordered is smartly written in the sense it packs in all the necessary elements to keep the readers hooked till the end. There is the Rajini- Illayaraja touch, a brief nostalgic time travel and more importantly it finishes with a flourish. Each Chapter is set in a particular time and my favorite is 1:35 PM. Read the novella and you will know why.

On the flip side the minor editing flaws, especially at the beginning, could have been avoided and a couple more chapters to nullify the huge time jumps would have made it a perfect read.

The author claims it to be an experiment of sorts but I believe it would appeal to everybody. All of us are used to the routine in our daily existence. Randomly Ordered adds a little bit of spice to our ordinary day. It is one of those nice, breezy, harmless reads which will make you feel good.

Pick it up if you love short reads which doesn’t take too much of your time.




Godha is a glorious surprise.  I knew the film would be good but it turned out to be a wonderful lesson on smart film making. It is yet another sports film but what stood out was the simple narration. The film is just 2 hours but it has traces of Woman Empowerment. Inclusion, Individual Aspirations, and Collective Strength. Godha addresses all of these topics yet it never tires the audience.

The Joie d verve touches you at the beginning of the film remains intact till the very end. And for once there is no gender bias when it comes to empowerment.  The yearning for an equal space finds a lovely voice in the film.

The film doesn’t scream to make a statement. Godha isn’t in your face either. It is smart, funny and subtle with pearls at the right places to drive home the messages scattered across the two hours. The warmth that embraces you when the end credits roll stays with you for a very long time.  

Another major plus is the way the creators amplify the locality to draw the audience into the narrative. Malayalam cinema has been fairly consistent in this aspect over the years. Almost every story has a local flavor to it which is very distinct and helps in establishing the characters as well.

Godha pairs up two unconventional fresh protagonists and both Tovino Thomas and Wamiqa Gabbi play to their strengths and perform well. Tovino Thomas might just be the next big thing in Malayalam Cinema. Wamiqa Gabbi is the surprise package in the film. She was splendid in Malai Nerathu Mayakkkam and with Godha she scores once again. Music by Shaan Rahman and cinematography by Vishnu Sarma blend well with the mood of the film.

And then there’s the small detail of Renji Panikar once again coming up with a top-notch performance. Kudos to Basil Joseph and team for a well-made film. What baffles me time and again is why other industries aren’t able to replicate the simple storytelling pattern of Malayalam Cinema. The scale isn’t big yet they consistently deliver in terms of content and a big fat salute for the same. I know most of you wouldn’t have watched this in theatres. But do catch it on DVD. A must watch,

Godha – Punches above it’s weight.


Taramani – A film which I loved and hated all at once. A film which starts off with great promise but falls way short of being one of those memorable love stories which we will cherish forever.

Ram gets his women right which deserves a huge round of applause but he gets his men horribly wrong which sort of nullifies the joy that we get from celebrating the imperfections of the women on-screen. The men are half boils who don’t deserve to exist.

The first half sets it up so beautifully but the second half goes on and on and on until it exhausted me. You know your destination is Taramani and board your mode of transport in the hope of reaching there soon but the driver travels the entire city before reaching Taramani instead of opting for the shortest route.

The problem with Taramani is that it deviates too much from the central conflict with too many sub plots which convey too many things all at once.

I find it hard to understand why our creators find it very difficult to write roles where you don’t have to pull down the characters from one gender to elevate the other gender. Why can’t the cry for an equal footing translate on screen too? 

Yuvan’s music is soulful though I am not a big fan of the composer rendering most of his songs. Sreekar Prasad could have done a better job by chopping off scenes which stretch endlessly. The cinematography by Theni Easwar is eye catching. Ram’s voice overs pack a punch where he is brutally honest regarding the things that matter to him.

Andrea gets a meaty role and does a decent job. The debutant Vasanth Ravi tries to do what he can to salvage a half baked character sketch.

The second half screams self-indulgence and that’s where it falls way short of what it could have been. Ram the director impresses in parts but is largely unsure of the journey he wants to undertake. 

Taramani is a plausible decent one-time watch – Nothing more nothing less.



 I would love to say LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA a great film but it ends up being yet another plausible film which is saved by a great cast and good performances.

Oh yes, the conflicts that arise when a woman yearns for sex does evoke interest especially when you see it in four different dimensions but after a point, it goes on and on ultimately leading to a finale where the conflict remains as it is without a proper closure. It is as if the creators opted for a safe landing when there was an option to go all out

All the 4 ladies do their best to elevate the film. It is always a pleasure to see Ratna Pathak and Konkana Sen Sharma perform. Ratna Pathak earns the viewer’s empathy as the older woman. Her role is an echo of how the Indian society views sex. It is almost a taboo to yearn for sex irrespective of how badly your body needs it.

If the film had replicated the execution of Ratna Pathak’s portion it would have been one of those spectacular films that we would be raving about. But it falls well short

But kudos for the thought process which alone makes it a worthy one time watch. But lipstick didn’t give me a sense of fulfillment like Parched did. Parched was a complete film.

You don’t settle for a moan when there is an option of screaming in pleasure. But lipstick Under My Burkha is just a moan.





Iswarya  – I had no idea that she would turn out to be one of the constants in my life when we started out.  In fact, I underestimated her presence until I got to know her better. I met this beautiful soul when I was going through one of the worst phases of my life. I was so fragile that a small hiccup would tear me apart. My life seemed like one big bundle of pessimism. I couldn’t even muster the courage to greet new people I met. I hid behind the comfort zone of old relationships and past memories.

And throughout the whole nightmare, this girl made me a part of her daily existence. She would listen to my nonsense every day reassuring me that things would get better.  It was tough but she held on without letting go. Other people would just hear and forget but this girl chose to listen until I got rid of my scars.

It requires a lot of courage to hold on to a person when they are at their worst but she did that as if it was an everyday habit.  The ease at which she understood my turbulence surprised me initially but as I got to know her better I understood why she held on to me firmly. We both thrive on the same emotion – Love.  Love has this remarkable ability to forge unexpected bonds and heals scars and that’s exactly what happened between us.

In a world, everybody is rushing to be part of the race Iswarya reminds me of a beautiful pause button.  She’s someone who can savour life for what is without worrying too much about what lies ahead. No big aspirations or ambition just a life filled with love. There’s an inherent simplicity in the way she approaches life which is very beautiful. I wish there were more people like her around we wouldn’t have to worry about success-failure, winning or losing.

And to date, she remains the only person outside of my family who calls me by the favourite part in my name.  There’s a certain joy in seeing a person do that.

Best wishes Iswarya.  Cherish the love and hold on to your way of life. Good things await you.  


For way too long we have held on to the virtuous woman as an ideal representation of how a woman should be.  Why not take a diversion and celebrate a flawed woman instead. To me, the play didn’t begin until Jeannette came on stage, a woman who is so unabashedly herself despite the constant turmoil surrounding her life.

I know Jeannette for I have been love with Jeannette for a long time without giving her a face and a name. I know Jeannette, a woman who refused to be stripped of her desires. I know Jeannette, a woman who refused to let go of the scars that trouble her. She embraces her flaws in the form of a wedding gown.  Her only ray of rope questions her and demands answers. But she’s relentless and determined to hold on to her flawed persona.

She seeks doom as her only gateway to redemption and embraces the end with open arms. For once she’s not alone there’s someone willing to hold her hand before she closes her hand for one final time. “Save her” her loved ones scream but it is too late for her troubled soul seeks an answer in the alternate world.

We all do that mistake, don’t we? We judge, make choices on her behalf and demand what we deem to be an appropriate behaviour.  Why not leave the choice to her and cherish her presence as she lives her life to the fullest. It’s ok if she messes up; it’s ok if she makes wrong choices. The choice of how to live belongs to her alone. Let her be what she is. Let’s celebrate her free spirit.  Maybe it’s not too say I love you Jeannette before she takes that final step of embracing doom.



I am indebted to this guy for a lot of things, for the number of times he’s saved me from a bad movie, for the number of times he’s literally pushed me to watch the good ones but more than that I am grateful for the sanity he brings to the movie reviewing space. Social media these days has literally turned into a space for one upmanship where people literally scream out the supposed flaws in a movie review if they don’t agree with a review. Ravi remains a rare exception. He knows his space and allows space for other reviewers without being too rude while contradicting a review or a movie opinion. It is a basic social media etiquette but not many follow it. That is my biggest take away from him. He is one of those rare souls who understand my passion for movies

Beyond that, there’s the number of delightful books he highlights on his timeline which almost makes me jealous of his collection. And then there’s that small life-changing event of NotionPress workshop. I say life changing because it gave me a few friends who are permanent impressions in my life. I have always admired them from a distance and it was quite fascinating to watch them in action from close quarters.

Ravi, I love the fact that you are taking your time for your first published work. Let me know when it’s done let’s celebrate together. I love the fact that you remind me of Po’s unassuming charm. I love how you remain so calm despite juggling with so many things. There’s no noise, no scream, just the silence of a person who is sure of his space and gets things done. I wish you well for all that is to come and I can assure you that I will be applauding for you when you get to where you want to be. We haven’t watched a movie together. Now that I have time on my hands we will plan a proper movie outing.

PS : Someday I am going to make you watch all the bad movies that you have missed so far.





Shah Rukh  – The Lover Boy who never grew up.

Dear Shah Rukh,

We grew up watching you. You made us all fall in love even though you were playing different variations of the same role – Raj.  The songs, the way you made the ladies go gaga over your lover boy image made us watch you in awe.  And then Mohan  Bhargava and Kabir Khan happened.  Our excitement knew no bounds. You were trying to steer clear of an established image.  For those who were waiting to see different dimensions of the actor in you those two roles were an absolute treat.

We thought you would eventually move away from the lover boy image completely to transform into a fine actor. But you cheated us. Those two movies which gave us hope were merely false notes as you went back to playing type. Even at that point, Surinder was absolutely adorable. But everything beyond that point became a mess you have created for yourself.

You are no longer an irresistible box office force that you were back then. Bhai’s taken over that mantle with ease.  The perfectionist is very choosy and has gone global with a remarkable sports film and a certain Mr Kumar seems to have studied the tricks of the trade very well to balance commercial entertainers with that one remarkable film every year. He has turned himself into a producer’s darling.

None of them were this relevant when you struck box office gold with one film after another. But you have made them relevant with your fall. You are no longer the charmer we used to adore. You have turned yourself into a star who is so full of himself, a star who doesn’t give a damn about the changing preferences of his fans.  You seem to be playing Aryan to perfection while the Gaurav in us is dying a slow death. You seem to be stuck in a hole of self – obsession you have dug for yourself. Let me remind you that your fans have all grown up.  It’s time you do too. We no longer want to see an overgrown man play the lover boy again.

With Pain,

An ardent fan.



A vibrant young man takes charge of a reluctant team. Not many of us would have guessed that particular choice to hand over the reins to a newbie would change the dimensions of T -20 Cricket around the world.  Many of us would dismiss that Sreeshanth catch as pure chance. But there’s more to that moment than what meets the eye.  Misbhah’s hara –kiri moment gave us a glimpse the young man’s greatest asset as a captain – his ability to spring surprises with his moves on the field, a trait which would be his trademark during his tenure as captain.

He becomes the centre of attraction. The cricketing world prepares itself for consistent reverberations of his 183.  But he surprises once again by giving life to a non-existent role in Indian Cricket – The Finisher.  That was his connecting point to an average Indian Fan. A fan who was so used to seeing his team lose from winning positions after the Little Master set the game up so beautifully.  The fan who would constantly see his team lose from winning positions.

For a change, we had a man who knew how to steal victories from the nose of his opponents, a marksman who knew when to hit his target. The World Cup arrives and the whole nation waits with bated breath. Will we or won’t we? But once again the man chooses to surprise us by promoting himself up the order. A captain willing to take charge and finish it off for his team and for the man who had been the flag bearer of Indian Cricket for a very long time – SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR.

The Champions Trophy arrives – A trophy which was supposed to be in its last stretch until one moment of Houdini Act changes it all. He hands over the ball to the worst bowler of the day – Ishant Sharma. What the hell was he thinking? The team is already on the verge of losing the match. But all it takes is one delivery to change the course of the match.  The wheels come as ball lands in the hands of fielders who seem to stand in the right positions. Another Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat and Champions trophy gets a lifeline.  It was the leader’s greatest moment of triumph for the team was entirely his own. There were no traces of the past. They were going to be the future of Indian Cricket.

The Agile Young Man is no longer visible but the never say die attitude might stretch itself for one final moment of glory. You never know. Champions have this remarkable ability to spring a surprise when you least expect them to.  It could be a surprise that the cricketing world has never seen before.

Many more Happy Returns of the day to the warhorse who knew how to cross the final hurdle with ease. MSD – These initials will resonate long after the leader is gone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


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