About us

It was destiny!

One fine-ish day in Melbourne, on the set of Chak De India, a couple of extras got talking. And the rest is history. In a suitable filmi twist, we could be long lost siblings only we are from different countries , look nothing alike and well, we aren’t related. We love watching films, talking about films, pestering other people to watch films we love. We share a  belief that there are few ailments that cannot be cured by a decent dose of Helen, a pair of sparkly pants and a bit of prancing around the living room in high stepping tippy toe ishtyle. Or, failing that, a good snake dance. Sadly, Hindi cinema seems to be neglecting the music and masala that drew us in. Happily, South Indian film makers are producing the kind of big-hearted, all singing, all dancing, machete and moustache strewn films we have grown to love.

So here we are. It was hard to find useful reviews and information on Telugu and Tamil films so we started our blog as a way of capturing what we discover. We hope you enjoy our insights, theories, ramblings, reviews and rants about the cinema we love. Join in! We want to hear what you think, but do respect the opinions of others when you post. If your comments are spammy, they will be deleted.

You can email us at : cinemachaat at gmail dot com,  leave a message on the Guestbook or drop by the Cinema Chaat page on Facebook.

Heather & Temple

Update:

The elusive jenni, when not caught up in her administrative and academic duties at the Academy of Applied Filmi Snake Research and Ethics, will publish occasional snippets of her filmi research here at Cinema Chaat. Or not.

25 thoughts on “About us

  1. Hi,

    Good to find your site – like you I’m not 100% sold on recent directions in Bollywood films. Love Helen. Pran is good value. Shammi Kapoor’s moves always entertain. And Disco Dancer leaves me speechless.

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    • Thanks! I do realise I am not the target demographic for Hindi films so am probably quite out of step with what producers will see as a worthwhile investment. Thank heavens for Telugu films is all I can say. They’re not uniformly brilliant, but the spirit is there :) And DVDs provide the Helen-y goodness needed for a healthy masala balance. Cheers :) Temple

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      • I really hope they don’t think that! It’s so totally not true.
        I think actually its more that modern Indian audiences see most of the big HW blockbusters which don’t have any songs at all. Sadly it seems to be part of the Hollywood-isation of Hindi cinema. A terrible trend IMO! As Temple said, thank heavens for SI cinema, and for the the smaller budget Hindi films which still appear to try and keep to their roots :) Otherwise its back to the oldies but goodies for proper masala fun! Heather

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    • Hi Su – There’s only one Telugu film showing, which is a shame as there were so many excellent Telugu releases in 2010. We’ve already reviewed it on the blog (it’s called Prasthanam) and I’m not planning to see it again. Of the Tamil and Malayam films there are a few I might go see if time allows. Keep an eye on this blog as we will post reviews as we see them. You’re more than welcome to use our reviews just so long as you credit/link appropriately. Thanks for dropping by, Temple

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  2. Hii Temple, thanks for ur review of 100% love, I worked for the film in direction department, would like to chat up more on that film as the hindi version is on cards, care to contact me via mail?

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  3. Hello Heather and Temple,
    It’s great to see that cinemachaat is so active! It is turning out to be my primary fallback for movies I might have missed out on. :) And I was just thinking it would only be fair, if the users could contribute! Have you considered opening a separate area (page/forum) here, where we could post our wishlists? I’m sure people are already sending them to you via mail or FB, but it’d be more organised and easier for everyone if made available here.

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    • Hi Aditya
      Thanks :) I hope we can live up to your praise!
      We are lucky enough to get some great movie recommendations and tips from readers, and always appreciate hearing about films we may not ever hear about otherwise. This blog really doesn’t have the capacity to operate as a forum, but I agree it would be good to have an area where those ideas could be captured. That’s one of the reasons I set up the FB page as I think that allows for more random and spontaneous messages. You are always welcome to post your film ideas in comments on here, or email us if you prefer. I always seem to have a list a mile long, and add to it all the time, so I can’t promise when or if I’ll get to your suggestions :)
      Temple

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  4. Fun looking around your site, guys! My friend Julie and I do an Indian film blog, too on WP (at filmigoris dot net), but aside from the obligatory Mani Ratnam films, some Kamal Hasan offerings, and an occasional fit of Rajnikantism, we are sadly lacking experience of Tamil filmdom. I’m glad I found your site so I can check a few more out! I do wish my local cinema (which carries quite a few Tamil offerings) were more hardnosed about insisting on subtitles for those films. Try as I might, I make little headway understanding Tamil without them. I might try it sometime just to watch Ajith, I think.

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    • Hi Jenny – I think I’ve ‘seen’ you over at Beth’s blog :) Just be aware that the total of Tamil films made in any given year contains a large subset of narratives in which everyone dies, usually brutally. Having said that, I don’t know about Ajith’s films as I’m not a fan so I only see him by accident as it were. It pays to do your research! Cheers, Temple

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    • Hi Jenny,
      Thanks! We hardly ever get subtitles for Tamil films here, and never for Telugu but I’m just thankful we get them in the cinema at all! It’s even difficult to find new Tamil films on DVD with subtitles, so love of Tamil cinema seems to be particularly frustrating :(
      My knowledge of the Tamil language is restricted to the words I use while eye testing in Tamil Nadu each year (not the most useful – which is clearer the first lens or the second for example!) and my knowledge of Telugu is even more minimal!
      But aside from the stalwarts of the industry you mentioned there are a few good new actors and directors, so, as long as you don’t mind the generally unhappy endings, there are a lot of good Tamil films out there.
      And plenty of absolutely dreadful ones, but they can be good too(although for all the wrong reasons!) :P
      Cheers
      Heather

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  5. Hi Temple and Heather,

    I happened to browse through some reviews and was pleasatly surprised hit upon your site where I see a different perspective of Indian films from the Aussie duo.

    My 2 cents on the review – be as much critical on the merits of the film within context of the culture – irrespective of your readers supposed bias towards thier favorite films. Desi’s sometimes look for an echo chamber to validate thier views in certain cinemas.

    I am an avid movie buff (and so are many of my Desi brethren). I was surprised that Michael Madana Kama Rajan (MMKR) missing in your review. Its another Kamal/ SS Rao’s classics.

    A couple of other notables from some new talent in Tamil movie:
    – Pizza
    – Soodhu Kavvum
    – Subramaniapuram (violent)
    – Pasanga

    Some 70s and 80’s classics:
    – Avargal – K Balachander movie
    – Mudhal mariyadhai – K Bharathiraja
    – Arangettram – K Balachander movie
    – Vedham Pudhithu – k Bharathiraja

    And many more.

    I would avoid Tamil movies from Mid 80’s to late nineties, when the focus was in masala movies – but had a very rich Musical in them.

    All the best and keep it coming.

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    • Hi
      Thanks for your comment and list of recommended films :)
      I’ve got Pizza in the pile to watch, loved Subramaniapuram (and will write it up at some stage) and will see if I can find the others. I’m always wary of comedy films without subtitles since generally the comedy is in the dialogue so I miss too much to make them worth watching. It’s very difficult to find any of the older films with subtitles – even many of the newer films don’t release with subtitles (desperately waiting for Mayakkam Enna with subs!) and my Tamil is just not anywhere near good enough to keep up :P
      Of the classics you mention I’ve only seen Arangettram – one of the guys I order DVD’s from has been looking for a copy of Avargal for me (so far unsuccessfully :( ) but the others sound interesting too, so I will see if I can track down copies.
      Love your comment about the mid 80’s!! I have quite a few Rajni and Kamal Hassan movies from that era, and the costumes alone make them worth watching!
      Cheers
      Heather

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  6. Hello Heath and Temple !
    As u just mentioned Kamal Hassan, I wasnt able to find out the review of his much recently released flick ‘Viswaroopam’ in your lists. Eager to see the review of that film and few of his other classical releases too which were released earlier.
    Notable ones are
    1)Heyram
    2)Aalavandhaan
    3)Virumandi
    4)Nayagan
    and list goes long !!
    Thanks

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    • Hi
      Thanks! Thanks also for the Kamal Hassan recommendations :)
      The biggest problem is trying to find older films on DVD – I’ve just about given up trying to find them on DVD with subtitles!!
      I do like his earlier movies though and I will keep an eye out for the ones you’ve mentioned.
      Unfortunately I was leaving Hyderabad on the day Viswaroopam released and when I got to Chennai found it was banned in Tamil Nadu! It didn’t get released until after I had left India, so I’ve only just got a copy on DVD – hopefully I will have a chance to watch it (and then write about it) soon :)
      Cheers, Heather

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  7. Interesting, just got done reading your review of ‘Maryan.’ So this is mostly a South Indian movie blog then? I got introduced to Bollywood a couple years back by my Nepali girlfriend, and now I’m starting to branch out to other types of Indian cinema. I recently finished Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ (1955) and have a couple Malayalam movies lined up (‘Mumbai Police’ and ‘Neram’).

    Also, funny you should mention how Hindi cinema “seems to be neglecting the music and masala that drew us in,” ’cause originally BW seemed so exotic and different when I first started watching. Then I noticed that the more recently the films were released that I watched the far more “Americanized” they seemed to become. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing (Hollywood and indie America makes plenty of fine films, and ‘3 Idiots’ was excellent), but many BW flicks seemed to be increasingly poor South Asian impersonations of big Hollywood action blockbusters (e.g. ‘Dhoom 3′ and ‘Ghajini’), instead of sticking to what the musical industry did best. The amount of English, or code-switching between Hindi and English in modern Bollywood films and their dance numbers’ resemblance to MTV music videos is very interesting to me, and I can see why many Indian fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned with Bollywood.

    It seems like a lot of people interested in South Asian film view Bollywood and Hindi cinema much the same way that many “hipster” cinephiles view Hollywood over here in America. Both HW and BW are characterized as “industrial cinema,” or “1st cinema,” film industries that generate art projects seemingly on an assembly line. Both industries appeal to mass audiences and tend to represent the mainstream. It makes sense that film fans from either place seek respite and more sidestream cinematic interests elsewhere.

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    • Hi :) I don’t exactly want Hindi cinema to remain stuck in the 70s but I think that in trying to be more city dweller/NRI/Western audience friendly the film makers are losing the thing that made them unique. And if I wanted to see a routine Hollywood thriller or rom com, I would. I often look at Hong Kong cinema, especially the action films, as an example of an industry that has stuck to its guns while continually pushing the technology and performers to deliver more and more amazing scenes.
      I think South Indian film makers and actors know and are closer to their audiences. So while I don’t like the broad comedy and some of the values are not aligned to my own, they just seem to have a bit more heart. Even if that heart is pure cheese :)
      Temple

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