So you wanna watch something…
Vikram Vedha: This may well be one of the last Bollywood flicks to remake a South Indian blockbuster—since they are now released in multiple languages. Though the director duo Pushkar-Gayathri insist that they have re-imagined the original—and not just recreated it. The film stars Vikram (Saif Ali Khan) playing a Lucknow police officer hunting down a criminal named Vedha Betaal (Hrithik Roshan). But things take an unexpected turn when Vedha turns himself in. During the course of his interrogation, he shares stories of his past that challenge Vikram’s notions of morality. Yes, it is a spin on the traditional folk stories of Vikram and Vetaal. There aren’t any reviews except this badly written one in Times of India—which gives it 3.5 stars. ‘Vikram Vedha’ releases in cinemas today.
Ponniyin Selvan: Part One: Everyone is waiting to see what legendary director Mani Ratnam has up his sleeve—in this lavish historical epic set in the 10th century Chola empire. This is the first instalment of a two-part series that focuses on a bloody battle for succession—to be the man who replaces the ailing king Sundara Chola (Prakash Raj). Vikram plays the erratic crown prince—while Karthi is his friend and wingman. Aishwarya Bachhan plays an enigmatic figure intent on the destruction of the Cholas. The News Minute has lots of details on the characters and the setting if you need a cheat-sheet. ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ releases in cinemas today.
Blonde: This Marilyn Monroe flick is based on fiction rather than fact. The adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel touches on all the famous events of her tumultuous life and tragic end—from her unhappy childhood, abusive relationships, complicated tryst with fame and inevitable downward spiral. It has received mixed reviews—with many calling it exploitative. For example, here’s the New York Times’ opening line: “Given all the indignities and horrors that Marilyn Monroe endured during her 36 years… it is a relief that she didn’t have to suffer through the vulgarities of ‘Blonde,’ the latest necrophiliac entertainment to exploit her.” OTOH, The Guardian praises Ana de Armas’ “screen-stealing presence”—and calls it “a horror movie masquerading as a film about fame”—which isn’t about Marilyn at all. ‘Blonde’ dropped on Netflix on Wednesday.
A list of good reads
- TM Krishna wrote an excellent op-ed about casteism and privilege among Indian Americans in the Deccan Herald.
- Since Netflix is soon going to start charging you for sharing your Netflix account with way too many people, it may be time to get rid of the freeloaders. Mashable tells you how.
- Vanity Fair has a powerful excerpt from Constance Wu’s new memoir—where she recalls a sexual assault that wasn’t at all violent, but was still rape.
- Buzzfeed News marks the demise of the Wife Guy—the man best known for being lavishly devoted to his spouse… and then cheating on her.
- The Guardian has an interesting piece on a new AI system that is helping protect whales from getting killed by ships.
- Also in The Guardian: why so many music fans are quitting Spotify.
- Speaking of music, the Washington Post (splainer gift link) has a fascinating piece on why we love the music we love.
- Lord save us, New York Times has discovered the ‘art districts’ of Delhi—as in Hauz Khas village etc.
- Mint looks at the soaring use of dating apps in Tier 2 and 3 cities in India.
- The Atlantic explains why everyone has the same damn nightmare—about flunking that school exam.
- For a thought-provoking perspective on the Gyanvapi mosque case, read NewsClick’s interview with Rajendra Prasad Tiwari, the mahant of the Vishwanath temple.