articles by MK Raghavendra


Indie films making waves at global film festivals is often a sign of them subscribing to the Western idea of 'India'

The thing about film festivals is that those who judge films from a variety of countries are basically strangers to the realities of that country, aware of them only through narratives already in the media space.

Arts & Culture

Book review: Amitav Ghosh's The Nutmeg's Curse lacks rigorous thought

Most of the information Ghosh conveys is generally available to the educated public and his contribution is primarily its assembly.


Claims against The Family Man Season 2 of being 'anti-Tamil' are a farce; Raj & DK's show is true pan-Indian television

Multilingual television is a step forward for Indian culture since it is an admission of the country's cultural plurality in which the spoken language plays a key part. Season 1 of The Family Man brought in Malayalis played by Malayalis and Kashmiris played by Kashmiri actors.


Ivan Ayr's Meel Patthar depicts a trope common to Indian art cinema: Bleak portrayals of working-class protagonists

Indian cinema has generally taken upon itself to treat its working-class protagonists as victims, and physical labour as drudgery. This is essentially because the films take up social conflict as their subject and conflict produces victims.


A tribute to TS Shanbhag, who fuelled generations of readers' indulgences at Bengaluru's Premier Book Shop

Shanbhag’s Premier Book Shop was always chaotic and there was simply not enough space for the books stored. There would also be people standing about and reading without buying, something he never objected to.


Ravi Belagere (1958-2020): Remembering a maverick whose journalism was both sensationalist and subversive

Ravi Belagere was a gifted individual with an intrinsic understanding of journalistic methods but, rather than restrict himself to being a writer and intellectual in an ordinary world — which he might have been — he used his skills in a darker world, and found himself transformed.


Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple is an elitist take on the 'market' for classical music

The Disciple seems to take its elitist viewpoint from a ‘Brahminical’ position that does not envisage the necessity of a ‘public’ for any kind of artistic practice.


The unbearable sterility of Pather Panchali in colour: Unpacking the row over changes to Satyajit Ray's masterpiece

The coloured version of Pather Panchali invited the ire of purists who wish to see Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece only in its original form


Book Excerpt: In Locating World Cinema, MK Raghavendra examines the role of socio-cultural context in a film's creation

MK Raghavendra's Locating World Cinema: Interpretations of Film as Culture highlights the importance of understanding the local context within which a film was created and the ensuing naunces it conveys to viewers.


Amid César Award win and #MeToo backlash, an analysis of Roman Polanski's An Officer and a Spy

An Officer and a Spy is a painstaking retelling of the Dreyfus affair, impeccable in its recreation of period detail and acting, and invaluable for its political insights.


Why Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a satirical masterpiece watered down by incongruous social optimism

Korean films are extremely violent, and the worst kind of brutality is casually portrayed in them. However, in Parasite, director Bong Joon-ho seems to make a serious compromise when he takes the film to a violent climax, which is not really ‘disturbing’, and ultimately concludes with ‘hope’.


Sam Mendes' 1917, for all its horrors, is casual entertainment, its mood at odds with his melancholy oeuvre

1917 is visually spectacular and there is no horrific effect the film does not spare, but in the end it is unaffecting. If one is lamenting the horror of war — as World War I films are wont to do — there seems to be little sense in showcasing technical wizardry, which is what Sam Mendes is doing.


With Chhapaak, Meghna Gulzar takes laudable stance on a worthy cause without probing social realities

Despite its weak treatment of social realities, the details in Chhapaak are inherently ideological in today’s context and one cannot pretend they are not.


The Irishman: Scorsese's decision to cast charismatic stars as gangsters compromises film's politics

In The Irishman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel draw attention only to themselves without making us understand anything of how unions were once run, or why there was an association between the truckers’ unions and organised crime


From Takashi Miike’s First Love to Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole, introspecting on cinema at IFFI 2019

IFFI showcases the latest in world cinema as well as Indian art cinema, but when one receives the screening schedule, one cannot really make an educated guess on what films might be worth watching; one usually runs into noteworthy films entirely by accident.


Terminator: Dark Fate — As franchise's possibilities diminish, its continued future requires infusion of imagination

Schwarzenegger may be the best thing about Terminator: Dark Fate but it is still difficult to identify with him. It is the human element that the earliest films had — apart from their inventiveness — that is missing here and that’s a huge loss.


Girish Karnad’s last play Crossing to Talikota engrosses, but stops short of being politically audacious

A scrutiny of Girish Karnad's plays hardly shows him taking an adventurous path as a writer and he can broadly be taken to be ‘Nehruvian’ in his outlook, essentially showing faith in the post-independence ideology of the government, roughly describable as ‘anti-colonial nationalism'


The Sky is Pink fails to do justice to a true story by succumbing to gross generalisation on caregiving families

The Sky is Pink, directed by Shonali Bose, is based on a ‘true story’, which has us wondering: should not a ‘true story’ contain personal detail specific to some people? The strange thing about this ‘true story’ is that none of the above is made evident, and its trajectory might hold good for any family dealing with the same illness. In order for the film to touch us with its story of human mortality, it would have needed to make it unique, instead of pandering to generalisation. But this is something it doesn’t even try to do.


Todd Phillips' Joker straddles genres of psychological realism and superhero fantasy — therein lies its flaw

The Joker is an extravagant character out of a cartoon strip and was perhaps correctly played by Jack Nicholson (Batman, 1989), but since then there has been a misunderstanding of the possibilities that the character offers


Hustlers harnesses animosity against Wall Street, but devolves into celebration of mindless spending

Hustlers is good entertainment, but it provides evidence of the mindless lifestyles promoted in free market economies