All That Breathes is a poetic tribute to a New Delhi family that has devoted its life to rescuing black kites that fall wounded from the sky.
The documentary focuses on the family, which has been operating the rescue for decades with the help of donations and other funding sources, and then lyrically pans out for sweeping shots of the sky and cityscape.
With stunning cinematography and utmost attention to the tiniest detail (down to mosquitos buzzing over a puddle), Sen follows Wildlife Rescue cofounders Nadeem and Saud and their equally dedicated volunteer Salik.
The film is an ambitiously intricate study of the intersection of environmental collapse, religious tension, and the love of two Muslim brothers for a feathered scavenger unnervingly falling from a smoggy Delhi sky.
It’s a tale of high drama in which the avian stars serve as canaries in a toxic global coal mine soon to engulf us all.
Nadeem and Saud learned about skeletal and muscle structure and the like from being teenage bodybuilders. They learned about caring for “all that breathes” from their mother.
There’s a scene in which one of the brothers mentions a (February 2020) New York Times profile, which seems to have turned on the funding spigot for their Wildlife Rescue.
Sen hopes his film inspires audiences to feel a kinship with the black kites and their bird relatives. “I want audiences to leave the theater and immediately look up,” he says.
When he read a newspaper article about the brothers, he knew he had the emotional anchor of his story. He found the brothers in the basement with huge, heavy cutting machines and other equipment for producing their soap dispensers.
“I think the brothers want to share their knowledge, receive more knowledge and make a bid for more resources so that they can improve their conditions of work,” he says.
In an industry dominated by influential families and their wards, Vijay Deverakonda’s rise to stardom is an impressive story which itself can be made into a film.
Deverakonda, one of the popular young actors of Telugu film industry, or Tollywood, says his family used to call him a rowdy every time he did something not approved by them. Over time, he started to use the term for himself and his fans. And, he has been staying true to the sobriquet with his outspoken views and bold acts. Let’s have a look some of his films.
DEAR COMRADE (Telugu, 2019)
Genre: Romantic action drama Director: Bharat Kamma Starring: Vijay Devarakonda, Rashmika Mandanna and Shruti Ramachandran Producer: Mythri Movie Makers and Yash Rangineni Streaming on Amazon Prime
The film was made in Telugu and simultaneously dubbed in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. It was theatrically released on 26 July 2019 in all four languages
Bobby (Vijay Deverakonda), a hot-headed student union leader, falls in love with Lily (Rashmika), a state-level cricketer. But soon his anger issues become a roadblock on his way to unite with Lily.
‘Geetha Govindam’ is one of the biggest hits of Telugu cinema in 2018. Subbaraju, Nithya Menon, Rahul Ramakrishna, and Nagendra Babu play supporting roles. The movie garnered the attention of audience in other languages too, mainly due to its song ‘Inkem inkem inkem kaavali…’ (music by Gopi Sunder).
The story is about Vijay Govind (Vijay Deverakonda), a young lecturer in a college, wishes to get married at the earliest. He tries to woo Geetha (Rashmika Mandanna), an independent and a level-headed woman, who is not easy to convince.
MAHANATI (Telugu, 2018)
Genre: Bio-pic Director: Nag Ashwin Starring: Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Akkineni, Vijay Devarakonda, Rajendra Prasad, Prakash Raj, Bhanupriya and Shalini Pandey Producer: Priyanka Dutt Streaming on Amazon Prime
Filmed simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil, with the latter titled ‘Nadigaiyar Thilagam’, the film is based on the life of legendary actress Savitri, which was played by Keerthy Suresh, while Dulquer Salmaan, in his Telugu debut, plays the role of Gemini Ganesan.
It follows Savitri’s life, depicting her turbulent rise to prominence, marriage with Gemini Ganesan, and subsequent fall from grace, which is viewed from the perspective of a journalist and a photographer, which is played by Samantha and Deverakonda.
Though Deverakonda’s role in this film is like an extended cameo, he performed well in whatever space was available to him.
ARJUN REDDY (Telugu, 2017)
Genre: Romantic drama Director: Sandeep Vanga Starring: Vijay Deverakonda, Shalini Pandey Producer: Pranay Reddy Streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+hotstar
The film tells the story of Arjun Reddy Deshmukh (Deverakonda), a high-functioning alcoholic surgeon who has anger management problems.
Arjun is on a self-destructive path after the marriage of his girlfriend Preethi Shetty (Pandey); the film focuses on his downfall and subsequent resurgence.
The film went on to receive six nominations at the 65th Filmfare Awards South, including Best Telugu Film, Best Telugu Director for Sandeep Vanga and Best Telugu Actor for Deverakonda, the film’s only win at the ceremony.
Partly based on real life incident of ‘Spitfire BBQ’ food truck, the film revolves around a boy and a girl who meet during a match-making and how their aspirations bring them together forms the rest of the story.
The film provided breakthrough for the film’s cast and crew. It won two National Film Awards for Best Telugu film, and Best Screenplay – Dialogues, two Filmfare Awards, and the SIIMA Award for Best Film.
YEVADE SUBRAMANYAM (Telugu, 2016)
Genre: Coming-of-age drama Director: Nag Ashwin Starring: Nani, Vijay Deverakonda, Malavika Nair, Ritu Varma, Krishnam Raju Producer: Priyanka Dutt, Swapna Dutt Streaming on SunNXT
Debut movie of director Nag Ashwin, the film stars Nani as the title character, a corporate man who sets out on a journey of self-discovery.
Produced by Priyanka Dutt and Swapna Dutt, the film also features Vijay Deverakonda, Malavika Nair, Ritu Varma, Krishnam Raju, Nassar, and Kireeti Damaraju in supporting roles.
Much of the filming took place at the Everest Base Camp, becoming the first Indian film to be shot at the location. The film gave a break to Vijay Deverakonda who won high praise for his performance, allowing him to take up lead roles following this film.
NUVVILA (Telugu, 2011)
Genre: Romantic comedy Director: Ravi Babu Starring: Ajay, Havish, Yami Gautam, Vijay Deverakonda, Prasad Barve, Sarayu and Remya Nambeesan. Producer: Ramoji Rao Streaming on YouTube Movies
Ravi Babu introduced six new faces with this film in lead roles.
The film features music by Shekar Chandra and is produced by Ramoji Rao. This movie marks the debut of Vijay Deverakonda. Three young men, Anand, Mahesh and Raju work at the same pizza joint. They are busy pursuing their dreams until cupid strikes and things get complicated,.
Contrary to the popular perception that actresses normally prefer to wear heavy make-up while standing in front of camera, Sai Pallavi doesn’t like it- both on and off screen. The natural beauty is a physician by qualification.
But, fate had other plans for her and she became popular as an actress with her memorable role in ‘Premam’. And the rest, as they say, is history. Sai Pallavi is now a sought after actress in Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil film industries, with notable films and roles to her credit. Here is a list of some of her flicks.
ATHIRAN (Malayalam, 2019)
Genre: Psychological Thriller Director: Vivek Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi Producer: Raju Mathew Streaming on Disney+hotstar
‘Athiran’ was reported to have taken inspiration from ‘Stonehearst Asylum’ and ‘Shutter Island’. Athiran’ tells the story of Dr Nair (Fahadh), a psychiatrist, who visits a mental asylum located in a remote location in Kerala. He meets a patient, Nithya (Sai Pallavi), who is kept in isolation, and soon uncovers mysteries from her past.
MAARI 2 (Tamil, 2019)
Genre: Action comedy Director: Balaji Mohan Starring: Dhanush, Sai Pallavi Producer: Dhanush Streaming on Disney+hotstar, MX Player
It is a sequel to 2015 film ‘Maari’. Dhanush, besides producing the film under his company Wunderbar Films, also stars as the title character, reprising his role from the first film.
Krishna, Tovino Thomas, Sai Pallavi, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, and Vidya Pradeep play other important roles, among others. The music was composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja.
Sai Pallavi played the energetic Araathu Aanandi, an autorickshaw driver who falls for don Maari in this film. Her power-packed and emotional performance in ‘Maari 2’ won her many hearts.
NGK (Tamil, 2019)
Genre: Political action Director: Selvaraghavan Starring: Suriya, Sai Pallavi, Rakul Preet Singh Producer: S R Prabhu, S R Prakash Babu Streaming on Disney+hotstar
‘NGK’ (abbreviation for Nandha Gopalan Kumaran) featured Sai Pallavi as Geetha Kumari, Kumaran’s (Suriya) possessive wife who supports him in his endeavours.
The film, which was in the making for a long time, hit the screens much to the expectation of fans. The film had many layers, and fans appreciated Selvaraghavan for his ‘unique touches’.
FIDAA (Telugu, 2017)
Genre: Romantic comedy Director: Sekhar Kammula Starring: Varun Tej, Sai Pallavi Producer: Dil Raju Streaming on Disney+hotstar, Amazon Prime
‘Fidaa’ marked Sai Pallavi’s debut in Telugu cinema. It is dubbed into Malayalam under the same title and in Tamil as ‘Banumathi’. Sai Pallavi’s performance in this movie was ranked by ‘Film Companion’ in 100 Greatest Performances of the decade.
Varun (Varun Tej), an NRI medical student, and Bhanu (Sai Pallavi), a vivacious, young woman, fall in love with each other. However, they face many personal differences that create complications in their relationship.
MIDDLE CLASS ABBAYI (Telugu, 2017)
Genre: Action comedy Director: Venu Sriram Starring: Nani, Sai Pallavi Producer: Dil Raju Streaming on Disney+hotstar, Amazon Prime
The story is about Nani, who dislikes his sister-in-law, Jyothi (Bhumika), and leaves his house to stay away from her. Later, when Jyothi faces the wrath of an evil gangster, Nani steps in to save her.
Jyothi and falls in love with Pallavi (Sai Pallavi), who proposes to him in the first encounter. Nani soon realizes that Pallavi is Jyothi’s cousin after she comes to live with them. This film helped Sai Pallavi to attract more Telugu fans. Devi Sri Prasad composed the film’s soundtrack and score.
KALI (Malayalam, 2016)
Genre: Action drama Director: Sameer Thahir Starring: Dulquer Salman, Sai Pallavi Producer: Sameer Thahir, Ashiq Usman, Shyju Khalid Streaming on Disney+hotstar
‘Kali’ is the second collaboration of Thahir and Salmaan, after ‘Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi’ (2013).
The film was shot in Kochi, Vagamon, Athirappilly, Masinagudi, and Gudalur. The film has been remade in Kannada as ‘Kidi’, dubbed and released into Telugu as ‘Hey Pillagada’.
The film revolves around Siddharth (Dulquer) who often has problems with his wife Anjali (Sai Pallavi) owing to his short temper. Things take an unexpected turn when they get involved with a gangster.
PREMAM (Malayalam, 2015)
Genre: Musical romantic drama Director: Alphonse Puthiren Starring: Nivin Pauly, Sai Pallavi, Madonna Sebastian, Anupama Parameswaran Producer: Anwar Rasheed Streaming on Disney+hotstar, SunNXT
This coming-of-age film, written, edited, and directed by Alphonse Puthren. featured 17 debutant actors. Rajesh Murugesan composed the music. The plot follows George and his friends from their teenage to adulthood. Sai Pallavi played the most lovable Malar character.
Genre: Drama Director: Hansal Mehta Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi Streaming on EROS NOW, ZEE5, JIO
A gay professor is hounded by a hidebound town and university and eventually driven to suicide. The true story is narrated with unimpeachable integrity and empathy for the ‘outsider’ fighting a losing battle against an insensitive society.
High points: A knockout performance by ManojBajpayee as the wronged professor, with solid support from Rajkummar Rao
The ills of the caste system have been laid bare in stark detail in Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15. The film is a worthy follow-up to Anubhav Sinha’s earlier film Mulk, which addressed the issue of Islamophobia head-on. Article 15 is an important addition to a very small number of Hindi films that have successfully tackled weighty social issues through the means of a more popular idiom.
High Points: We might argue that Indian films still haven’t gone far enough to call out patriarchy and the Brahmanical order. But the very fact that some films (like Article 15) are making an attempt, no matter a feeble, is itself a sign of the changing times.
Dweepa (Kannada, 2002)
Genre: Drama Director: Girish Kasaravalli Starring: Soundarya, Avinash, M. V. Vasudeva Rao, Harish Raju Streaming on YouTube Movies
In the backwaters of a big dam, a village is going under water due to heavy rains. A family struggles to save its dwelling because the government compensation isn’t enough for them to begin life afresh in a different place. Dweepa (The Island) is one of Kasaravalli’s best films.
High points: Visually stunning backdrop and a profoundly moving story addresses environmental degradation and displacement
Gulabi Talkies (Kannada, 2008)
Genre: Drama Director: Girish Kasaravalli Starring: Umashree, K. G. Krishna Murthy, M. D. Pallavi Streaming on Disney+hotstar
This multi-layered masterpiece, set in a fishing village in the late 1990s, probes the phenomenon of rising communal tensions linked to the Kargil conflict and its impact on Gulabi, a cinema-loving midwife whose TV set draws women of the community to her home.
High points: A superb central performance by Umashree and masterful adaptation for the screen of a Vaidehi short story
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (Hindi, 2003)
Genre: Political, Drama Director: Sudhir Mishra Starring: Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh, Shiney Ahuja, Saurabh Shukla, Ram Kapoor Streaming on Disney+hotstar, Sony liv
Set in the 1970s, in the years before and after the Emergency, Sudhir Mishra’s evocation of a turbulent period in Indian political history revolves around three college students who go their own ways only to find their paths crossing again in the cauldron of a people’s movement that severely tests their idealism.
High points: A rare Hindi film dealing with the eventful Emergency years during which many young people jumped into the bruising battle for a more just society
Janala (Bengali, 2009)
Genre: Drama Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta Starring: Shankar Chakraborty, Arindra Rai Chaudhuri, Swastika Mukherjee Streaming on Hoichoi
Buddhadeb Dasgupta addresses his pet theme – the lure of childhood memories. A man returns to his school and finds the building in a severely rundown condition, He decides to help out but does not have the means. As a result, tensions brew between him and his wife.
High points: Moments of lyricism masterfully tempered with the harsh realities of life
Kaalpurush (Bengali, 2005)
Genre: Drama Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta Starring: Mithun Chakraborty, Rahul Bose, Sameera Reddy, Shraman Mukherjee Streaming on Disney+hotstar
A middle-class big city man with a failing marriage and a drab professional life seeks refuge in the memories of his childhood and tries to reconnect with his father. The film abounds in the surreal touches that define poet-filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s cinema.
High points: Stellar performances from the principal cast led by Mithun Chakraborty and the director’s unique ability to find poetry even in the drudgery of life
Kanchivaram (Tamil, 2007)
Genre: Drama Director: Priyadarshan Starring: Prakash Raj, Shriya Reddy, Shammu Streaming on Disney+hotstar
Mainstream movie director Priyadarshan made an artistic detour to craft this intense drama about a silk weaver’s struggle to rise above his impecunious state in the years following India’s Independence from British rule. The film traces the birth of the cooperative labour movement.
High points: Marvellous interpretation of the protagonist by Prakash Raj and a director at the top of his game
Kathavasheshan (Malayalam, 2004)
Genre: Drama Director: T.V. Chandran Starring: Dileep, Jyothirmayi Streaming on ManoramaMAX
A man kills himself. His fiancée inches ever closer to understanding the deceased’s mental state as she investigates the reasons behind his ultimate act of despair. Directed by T.V. Chandran, Kathavasheshan, which is indirectly set against the Gujarat communal riots of 2002, is a story told almost entirely, and very effectively, through flashbacks.
High points: Chandran’s politically inflected sense of humanity infuses a deeply empathetic portrayal of a man ashamed to be alive\
Ajeyo (Assamese, 2014)
Genre: Drama Director: JahnuBarua Starring: Rupam Chetia, Jupitora Bhuyan, Kopil Bora Not available for streaming
Assam’s leading director JahnuBarua’s Ajeyo (Invincible) is an adaptionof Arun Sharma’s award-winning novel to narrate a tale set in the years before India’s Partition. An idealistic young man in a small village fights social ills against all odds. In present times, his granddaughter, a senior police officer, continues the crusade.
High points: A powerful story told with unwavering control and a sense of how history is never a thing of the past
Kaalbela (Bengali, 2009)
Genre: Drama Director: Goutam Ghosh Starring: Parambrata Chatterjee, Paoli Dam, Santu Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee Not available for streaming
Made largely in the style of the radical political Bengali films of the 1970s, Goutam Ghosh’s Kaalbela documents the unrest that led to the birth of the violent Naxalite movement. The film, based on a 1980s novel written as part of an epic trilogy by Samaresh Majumdar, vividly evokes a turbulent era.
High points: Seamless juxtaposing of past and present and rich visual and aural texturing
Koormavatara (Kannada, 2012)
Genre: Drama Director: Girish Kasaravalli Starring: Dr. Shikaripura Krishnamurthy, Jayanthi, Apurva Kasaravalli Not available for streaming
In Koormavatara (Tortoise, A Reincarnation), an ageing government employee on the verge of retirement is offered a role in a television show in which he has to impersonate Mahatma Gandhi. The spirit of the Father of the Nation percolates into him and poses challenges that are anything but easy to confront.
High points: The film is marked by the quiet, meditative narrative style of Kannada cinema’s most celebrated auteur Girish Kasaravalli
Kutty Srank (Malayalam, 2010)
Genre: Drama Director: Shaji N Karun Starring: Mammootty, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Meenakumari, Wahiida, Saikumar, Siddique, Suresh Krishna Not available for streaming
A body of a nomadic mariner is washed ashore. A Buddhist nun, a Christian woman and a mute lady come forward to claim his body. The film weaves a complex, intriguing portrait of a character while highlighting different locations and cultural and seasonal variations.
High points: Visually stunning and multi-layered narrative; Mammootty’s stellar performance