Saturday, June 13, 2009


I have to start any recommendation of Chatrapathi with disclaimers: This film is pretty violent. It's a hero-centric film where the heroine gets less screen time than the hero's muscles and is mostly just there for the songs. And the songs are, with one exception, totally unnecessary and rather goofy.


That said, I love this film. There are two main reasons why. First, I love 1970s masala, especially plots about heroes saving the downtrodden and being reunited with their misplaced family members, and Chatrapathi is very much in that style. Second, after about twenty minutes of not-so-subliminal messages, I gave in and agreed with the film that Prabhas is a very attractive man. And, the film has good pacing and great (albeit plagiarized) background music (which you can check out in the trailer here).

70s ishstyle

In a prologue that will seem familiar to anyone who's seen many 70s masala films, Chatrapathi begins with two young brothers and a widowed mother. In this case, the younger brother is totally psycho. He's clearly not going to grow up to be a light-hearted Shashi-type brother. He is psychotically jealous of his mother's love for his half-brother Shivaji, and thus, when the inevitable separation takes place ten minutes into the prologue, he tells his mother that his brother has died.

Creepy little brother

Not Shashi

Meanwhile, our young protagonist ends up in a refuge camp run by a very evil gangster/smuggler. He grows up smuggling and surviving constant threats from the police, rival gangsters, and his own boss. And after twelve years, he turns out to be Prabhas pretty darn awesome. Where 1970s masala heroes sometimes proved their toughness by wrestling with unrealistic stuffed tigers, he proves his toughness by fighting off an unrealistic animated shark.

Putting the "special" in special effects.

Sharks may pose no problem for our intrepid hero, but his life is certainly not problem free. He and his friends must decide whether to rebel against the powerful gangster who controls them, putting all of their family members and friends at risk, or to live with oppression and deal with it the best they can. (There are some shades of Sholay here.) While he continues to search for his mother and brother, he is unaware of the extent of his brother's craziness and doesn't realize that their reunion may not be as great as he hopes. And of course, this being a South Indian masala film, there are corrupt politicians to spare. It's fortunate he gets a love interest so he can take a break every once in a while from all of the demands of being an action hero.

Chatrapathi may not be a great film, but I find it to be a highly entertaining and emotionally satisfying one. Just keep the disclaimers in mind if you decide to watch it too.

Don't watch this movie, Mom.

Saturday, June 6, 2009