Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dhruva Natchathiram: A Teaser Breakdown

So the teaser came out on January 14th. Some are arguing it is more of a trailer on the basis of its length alone. It is over two minutes long. Any Gautham Menon fan will know that this project was originally intended for actor Surya, who backed out of the film. Now, a few years later, the project has been revived with actor Vikram. The teaser has Gautham Menon and Vikram fans all across the world excited for August 2017. 

So here is the one of the popular first look posters that was released a few days before the teaser. It has Vikram in a nicely tailored suit and a stylish salt-and-pepper look holding an American newspaper. So that was already a major hint that the film will be predominantly set in The States. Also, it had the hashtag #meetJOHN. 

Below is the original poster when Surya was attached to the project. It is a list of 11 names with a twelfth one simply stating "Looking for my 12th man." It had fans intrigued and it was such a downer when the project was infamously shelved. 

Another promotional poster of the revived film was released next. This one looked very similar to the Surya one, apart from a few names and the order changed. Also, this one does have a twelfth name, and it is Dhruv. There is also the phrase "My Basement" underlined below, just like in the Surya poster. Clearly, this basement is something important. What does it mean?

Over the next few days, before the release of the full-fledged teaser, a few promotional movie stills were revealed online. These three feature a seemingly younger Vikram with jet black hair. Could this be a younger version of the John character. Or could it be someone else. 

Then, there were some stills with a more mature-looking Vikram with the salt-and-pepper look playing John. Why two different looks?

Now let's go into the trailer.

We see Vikram getting some coffee at a New York cafe. In the background, there is an ongoing by two unknown characters. They are speaking about John who has gone off the radar for many years and have resurfaced after being spotted by the US immigration. He met with the US Secretary of State due to a drone strike on Pakistan and this somehow led to some problem with the CIA. 

We then cut to several montage scenes of John going about New York City in different looks. 

There is also mention of how this John is a threat to these unknown narrators. It is hinted that John is part of a covert Indian team of possibly eight to ten members. But we are not shown anyone else apart from John. Could it be just John operating as different personalities?

We then return to the scene of John with his laptop at the cafe. It is revealed that a mysterious Mr. K is the mastermind behind this covert team. This comes as a shock to one of the narrators, suggesting that this Mr. K is a character we should watch our for. 

Now one of the promotional posters had the word 'Basement' on it. Maybe it is not an actual basement but some kind of code name John is using, judging from this shot. 

As the Skype connection is made, John receives a message from another mystery person called Darkman, who claims to have Mr. K with him. This prompts John to make a Skype call to get to Darkman. Meanwhile, we are shown scenes of someone, possibly with evil intentions, secretly taking photos of John while he is out and about. 

We also see John talking to this girl, as well as going ice skating with her. Could she be an important character or just another extra?

One of the narrators state it is their agenda of the year to abduct Mr. K in order to eliminate John and his entire team. For that, they have a plan. It is possible that it is these guys who are shadowing John. 

And then, the audio and visual finally sync as John and Darkman finally speak via Skype. Darkman allows John to speak to Mr. K for awhile. Darkman demands John meet him at Cannought place in New Delhi if he wishes to see Mr. K alive. John accepts the challenge. 

The teaser ends with John walking through what seems to be the hanger of an airport where perhaps a plane is waiting to take him to New Delhi. 

Some questions that have me hooked:

- Who are the 8 - 10 members of this covert team? Could it be Vikram in a multiple roles?
- Only Vikram is shown in the teaser. Is this a hint he is working alone?
- Who is Mr. K? Is Gautham Menon playing him?
- Does the story line feature US, India and Pakistan? 
- Is Senthil Veerasamy, Gautham's long time associate playing Darkman?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Top 10 Tamil Films of 2016

Just so you know, this list only features films we have watched this year. Therefore, you will not find Dhruvangal 16, Aandavan Kattalai, Irundhi Suttru or Pichaikaran here since we have not had the chance to watch them yet. So here is a list of the Top 10 Tamil Films of 2016 that we have watched so far. Here we go: 

10) Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum

This film would have been higher up the list if it was not an official remake of the 2010 Korean film My Dear Desperado. Yes, it is an official remake, not a rip-off. Don't be fooled by the simple premise of a street smart gangster wannabe falling in love with a well-educated engineering graduate. The blossoming love between these two young people from very different backgrounds is beautifully narrated with some lighthearted comedic moments thrown in to spice things up.

Source: Google Images

9) 24

Putting aside that outdated, cringe-worthy love portion and strange ending, Vikram Kumar really took the time-travel genre and made it his own. The time machine here does not transport one's body between time, but rather their consciousness. Apart from the story, the technical team also outdid themselves with the music, costume, set designs and everything else to produce and very good looking film.

Source: Google Images

8) Joker

The first few minutes of the film led audiences to assume this is a dark comedy with a mental patient who thinks he is the Indian president and comedy rarely works in this industry when it is dark. But those who stayed with the film saw how director Raju Murugan handled multiple serious topics in one film in a satirical way and left a huge impact in our hearts.

Source: Google Images

7) Thoza

This is one of the few better remakes out there. Tamil cinema has been plagued in recent years with bilinguals that seem more like a dubbed film which are made simply to cash out on two languages' audiences. This one, however, is a proper out and out Tamil film. Apart from the great story and great acting, it was a please to see Tamannah and Nagarjunan speak in Tamil rather than using dubbing artistes.

Source: Google Images

6) Jil Jung Juk

An action comedy set in a post-apocalyptic India with three heroes, no romantic subplot based on a famous dialogue by Vadivelu? Sold! There are times when the film really stretches out and tries to hard to be better than it already is. But overall, especially taking into account the mere effort to make a film like this, this film deserves a place in this list.

Source: Google Images

5) Kabali 

Tamil critics labeled it too alternative for Rajni. Non-Tamil critics called this too formulaic for Rajni. But following the aftermath of average reviews, many came to see this as a film where directed Ranjith tried to make a genuine gangster film, but with a movie star in it. Whether it was done well or not had both critics and audiences split. Nevertheless, this film was well received in Malaysia, where the film is set. For the first time, an Indian film depicted the Indian diaspora here accurately and not how Indians in the fatherland view them.

Source: Google Images

4) Iraivi

When it was announced that director Karthik Subbaraj, who has only made a critically acclaimed suspense horror and a gangster comedy, is now making a feminist drama, he had people scratching their heads. What is a new age director doing in K. Balachandar territory? After watching this film, it is safe to say it is not a preachy, feminist film that we were expecting, but rather a film about women, with a heist subplot in it. In an industry where women are almost always objectified, it is nice to see a film that shines some light on an issue that has plagued the Indian women for ages.

Source: Google Images

3) Kuttrame Thandanai

The opening shots of the film led audiences to believe they have once again walked into one of those low budget, artsy films. And they are probably right. But this film is so much more than that. The film rejects the usual narrative about an alpha male hero, but instead revolves around a young man suffering from tunnel vision that is slowly making him blind. This illness acts as both a figurative and metaphorical state of what happens to our hero throughout the story. A truly intense trailer that has everyone wanting to know what happens next.

Source: Google Images

2) Acham Yembanthu Madamayaada

The VTV Trio is finally back. Watching the film, it does feel like three separate films. The first act was a feel good romance film, not unlike what director Gautham Menon is great at. The second act is the most nail-biting, action-packed, thrilling road film Tamil cinema has seen this year. Despite these two distinctive genres, they do come together well. If only not for the third act, which felt like a cheesy, commercial, 'masala' flick, this film would have been the number one movie of the year.

Source: Google Images

1) Visaranai 

No matter how serious a Tamil film is, most filmmakers try to push in a romantic subplot and a comedy sidetrack to keep things lighthearted. That is why it is really unusual to watch a film so dark yet uncomfortably entertaining produced today. Adapted from a novel that was based on a true story, this film has already made its rounds in international film festivals. Though it will keep you at the edge of your seats throughout, the film will leave a mark on you that will have you questioning if it is safe to trust the authorities ever again.

Source: Google Images

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Top 20 Most Beautiful Gothic Churches in India

India is not just the land of Hindu temples. About 2.3% of the population is Christian, which is roughly about 27.8 million of its people. Contrary to popular belief, Christianity reached India long before the arrival of the British and other Europeans. Though there are many church designs that can be seen in India, these Gothic churches look like those from Europe. Here is a list of The Most Beautiful Gothic Churches in India in no particular order. 

1) All Saints Cathedral Allahabad

2) The Afghan Church, Mumbai

3) Christ Church, Simla 

4) St. Andrew's Basilica, Arthunkal

5) St. Lawrence Shrine

6) Loyola College Church, Chennai

7) Our Lady of Lourdes Church , Tiruchirappalli

8) St. Mary's Church, Madurai

9) Holy Spirit Church, Manapad

10) St. Mary's Basilica, Bangalore

11) St. James' Church, Manapad

12) Our Lady of Ransom Church, Kanyakumari

13) Idaikattur Church, Madurai

14) Our Lady of Dolorous Catholic Basilica, Thrissur

15) St. Joseph's Cathedral, Trivandrum

16) Santhome Basilica, Mylapore

17) Medak Cathedral, Medak

18) St. Philomena's Cathedral, Mysore

19) Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, Velankanni

20) St. Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Westworld Season 2: Top 10 Fan Theories

First things first: A round of applause for Westworld's die hard fans who have made a name for themselves for coming up with not only plausible theories, but plausible theories that actually came true. On more than one occasion! From the one on Arnold being a host, to William being a younger version of The Man in Black, and of course, the fact that there are multiple timelines. So, it is only fair that the Net is now clogged with fan theories on what Season 2 will be about.

In case you haven't realized, these entry has major spoilers up ahead. Here are the theories:

1) The show is set in the year 2052

The biggest mystery of the show has to be how far in the future does it takes place. The answer could have been in a security camera footage that we can find on the mock Delos website. The footage shows the date Maeve tries to break free from the theme park, which is on the 15th of June, 2052. This video has since been removed from the website, which indicates the show's creators don't wish to make things to obvious to us considering many fans have figured out most of the plot twists. 

2) Next Season might be set in Samurai World

While attempting to escape, Maeve, Felix, Hector and Armistice come across a different section of the theme park's headquarters with a different logo than the usual 'W' on the entrance. This logo says 'SW', which could mean Samurai World based on the androids we see inside. Could it be that the next season will be set in Samurai World instead? Or could each season be set in a different World? Or will Westworld still be the main setting, but other parks will be depicted alongside it? 

3) Dr. Ford Created a Replica of Himself

During the finale when Ford is unveiling his new narrative, he states, “Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music.”Earlier in the show, when Bernard murdered Theresa, the camera was focusing on a machine making a new host, suggesting that Ford is creating a host replica of Theresa to help him control Delos. However, this was never the case.  Could it be, like how Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin continue to live through their music, Ford wishes to remain immortal by becoming a host?

4) Dolores Shot a Replica of Dr. Ford

There is a possibility Dolores simply shot the replica of Dr. Ford, while the human Dr. Ford is hiding away safely somewhere, hatching a plan for world domination by using his androids. Remember how the camera lingered a tad bit too long on his hands when he was shaking Bernard's. Strange hands were the sign of the hosts in the original 1973 film. Even in the second episode, Dr. Ford explains how the earliest hosts were so underdeveloped that they were easily distinguishable from humans by a simple handshake. 

5) Felix Lutz is working with Dr. Ford 

The closest thing to a comic relief in this show are the Westworld butchers, Felix and Slyverster, who are both coincidentally (or not?) named after cartoon cats. Ever since Maeve seemingly gained consciousness, Felix appears to be blindly following her every word. We already know Maeve is still under someone's control even though she has been led to believe she has free will. Felix never points this out to her. Only Bernard does. Unlike his partner, Felix never questions Maeve's actions even though as human, he has more power over her and can easily report the malfunction to someone higher up. Could it be the innocent looking Livestock Management surgeon is secretly working for Dr. Ford, who has been orchestrating the events leading up to the disastrous gala night all along? 

6)  All the Hosts are Replicas of Real Humans

The original film's sequel Futureworld, and the TV series Beyond Westworld portrayed how Delos creates androids of actual people to replace them in the real world. Given that Westworld is a theme park for the wealthy and powerful, could it be that it is ultimately one big memorial for the elite one percent? In this TV show, we are shown Dolores' grave. Could it be that the original, human Dolores Abernathy could have been a patron of the theme park who was immortalized as am android host? After her death, she was buried in the theme park. The same could have been with the real Maeve Millay, who is now either an old woman, or has died while her android version is now a host. 

7) Charlotte Hale is Maeve's Daughter 

This leads us to our next theory. It is possible Delos executive director Charlotte Hale also had a host version as a child but was killed off to make a convincing story line. Many feel that the note Maeve receives that contains her daughter's location is hinting at the existence of other theme parks which Delos owns. But if it was another theme park, wouldn't it make more sense to be called Eastworld, or Samurai World or Roman World instead? Why is it called Park 1 then? Within Westworld itself, there are multiple wild-wild-west-themed settings such as the cowboy town, the canyons, the Mexican town and many others. Could Park 1 be the the location where the gala night is being held? And Maeve is simply going there to finally meet her daughter? 

8) Charlotte Hale is William's Daughter

So, Charlotte and William, who we now know is The Man in Black, clearly know each other. But how is Charlotte black while Juliet, Logan's sister, is white? Maybe Charlotte is not Juliet's daughter. Maybe she is William's daughter through a mistress or something? That explains why William killed Maeve and her daughter in an earlier narrative; he wants revenge against the human Maeve for ruining his marriage and ultimately leading to his wife's suicide. But then again, he told Teddy his daughter's name is Emily, which could be his legitimate daughter, or a name he just made up since he does lie a few times. Like how he lied about Wyatt and Dolores being two separate individuals. Okay, that is quite a stretch. But if Charlotte is indeed William's daughter, that would make his full name William Hale a suitable name for a character like this. William Hale is the name of a 19th century rocket maker, a time period that Westworld is based on. It is also the name of a murderer who was under the FBI's investigation in the same period. There is even a modern Wiliam Hale, who is a film director who has made some famous cowboy films. 

9) Elsie and Ashley are still Alive

Behavioral programmer Elsie was last seen trying to uncover the mysterious staff member who was leaking information about the theme park through a satellite. We were shown someone grabbing her, who was later revealed to be Bernard and we were led to believe that he killed her. Meanwhile, head of security Ashley Stubbs was last seen investigating Elsie’s active location marker in an area of the park called Sector 20 when he was taken by the Ghost Nation hosts. The finale did not reveal their fate. Once again, we need to refer to the show's official website for answers. There is a video showing Elsie's locator device being tracked in Sector 20. Since Elsie has been shown to feel sorry for the hosts, maybe she is working with the Ghost Nation hosts or perhaps she is working to unveil the truth about the theme park. Also, there is a short audio recording of Elsie saying, "Hello?", suggesting she is trying to make contact with headquarters. Apart from that, Dr. Ford admitted to Bernard he has never killed anyone before Theresa. Although Ford is known to not favour his fellow humans much by telling them half truths, it is very unlikely he is a liar. Perhaps there is a bigger reason Elsie and Ashley's fate is not revealed. Perhaps they will lead the human resistance against the hosts. 

10) Westworld is set on an island, or a different planet 

So we have probably solved the question on the show's time setting. But what about the place setting? A popular theory is that the theme park is located on a colonized Mars, or another planet that is not Earth. This could be possible considering the sculpture shown in underground level of the headquarters. The sculpture is of a planet, that upon closer observation, looks nothing like Earth. Another possibility is that the theme park is on a very large artificial island on Earth itself. After all, the theme park is owned by a company called Delos. In the finale, we see Maeve's story line that has been predetermined for her, and the last act states "Infiltrate Mainland." This suggests that the outside world is the mainland while the park is on an island. Furthermore, for the ancient Greeks, Delos is a sacred island as it is considered the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. In 88 BC, the king of Pontus attacked the island and its people were either slaughtered or enslaved and its treasures were looted.

What do you think of these fan theories? Have we left anything out? Or do you have any theories of your own. Please let us know in the comment section below. 

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