Category: cinema:tamil

Parking Lot Notes: Psycho (2020)

Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan sowed in me the fears that the director is not really interested in genre but more interested in using the genre to speak about larger themes, something I should have feared even earlier, when he released his reimagining of a ghost story in”Pisasu”. Sometimes I am late to these insightful fears and that hurts when I am sitting inside a theatre watching the movie unfold. 

Psycho is a continuation, it is really a different take on the serial killer or slasher sub genre, to the extent that it is devoid of any suspense and does not evoke any fear ( apart from my fear of this not being a true genre film). It does not even pierce into the psyche of the psycho and it is nowhere close to being a serious police investigation film. 

It paints a generic picture,oversells humanity. So now you see how far Mysskin has come away from the genre.There are still instruments from his flourish box- the calmness in the dark, the rustling of the trees (oh I wish there were more of this) but very little more. 

To understand my pain,then let’s start at the beginning. There is a serial killer on the loose in Coimbatore, he stalks, kidnaps and before our characters could enter, has killed 13 women.Our characters are introduced via a radio show discussing the recent spate of murders-one is Dahini played by Aditi Rao Hydari who somehow has the knack of finding herself in angelic roles in boring films, the other is of course Gautham played by Udhayanidhi Stalin who is introduced as her blind stalker but goes on to become the detective who solves this case. After a point, the movie becomes less and less about solving the murder and more about hero finding the heroine. 

In his efforts to paint a hyper unreal love story- Mysskin just drops the aforementioned 13 murders of women-just like that- it leaves a bad taste when the serial killer is almost portrayed as a saint by the end of the film. (breathe in deeply, hold, breathe out) 

I always return to my musings on genre, because that is what constitutes overwhelmingly to how I receive a film (also the mood) and I am amazed how uniquely Mysskin manages to make my favourite type of films dull and completely devoid of excitement. 

He did it to the detective thriller before with Thupparivalan, but Mysskin was not like this, he used to understand how important a thread is, a line of thought is, what is it to uncover a clue and how one thing leads to another- for that I should have just stayed home and watched Yuddham Sei. 

That film too had an underlying social message, but the movie by itself worked because of the right push given to these genre elements including one of Tamil cinema’s best portrayal of the obsessive detective (by Cheran). 

But am I really doing a disservice to Psycho by comparing it with other films and pushing it down by my own expectations of genre elements? Maybe I do not have the maturity to accept “subversion” in genre. 

Maybe I have begun to realize that I watch movies from the experience of watching other movies.

(Pause for reflection). 

True. There could be many reasons why the movie did not work for me at all, maybe that’s why I waited with ‘this’ languishing in the drafts for 15 days before putting out a Parking Lot Note (usually these are quick, I mean relatively). 

Honestly, I felt nothing really happens on the screen and with great difficulty I tried to keep my attention on the screen- even the later attempts at a horror thriller did not evoke my required response and I was asking myself again and again, why is it important for this director to sell this concept of “humanity” again at the cost of the story itself? So boring. 

That’s when I try to disassociate myself from the character and look for breaks in the story thread or logical holes. I couldn’t help myself but. 

But what really worked me up was that this thrill-less movie begins with the lines that they say that it is a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, it was like dedicating a movie without dialogues to Visu.  

Fin. 

FRS: Darbar (2020)

So you all know what an FRS is right? Right? 

Editor’s note: why do you guys keep saying this? I don’t like it, Chumma kizhi this line; add something like Happy New Year buddies or some such thing. 

+5: Movie has no narration, this simply means that it will try and use the simple visual medium and not over indulgent voice overs to simply tell a story. Kudos. 

+2: Movie begins with suspense type character killing rowdy boys here and there, face not shown. Immediate suspense buildup. 

-2: Next moment itself, newspaper tells that this is actually done by Mumbai police commissioner Aaditya Arunasalam. So much for immediate buildup which is immediately spoiled, newspaper headlines also are quite lol worthy. 

+5: Mumbai Police have a lot of Tamil speakers on the force, this is considerably more than the number of tamil speaking doctors in Srinagar (wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge! We made a Kaatru Veliyiday reference) 

+6.7: ARM’s Durbar is truly a bilingual in a different sense, as in people are speaking in one language and dubbing is happening in another and of course there is no sync, which is intentional we believe. 

-50: Small time crook releases video asking hero to ‘encounter’ him within a day. Bad move nanba. 

-21: Not enough pistol training for all the rowdy boys in the movie because there are at least 100 of them and when they fire at Rajni, not even one bullet even causes a flesh wound. #RowdyBoysNeedSkillDevelopment

+5.34: Rajni is introduced by showing the impression his boots make on the ceiling of the building he is raiding, much like in a monster movie. Just saying. 

Editor’s note: don’t proceed with this imagery, our offices might get hit. Chumma Kizhi. 

-11: Rajni literalises an idiom by really bringing a knife to a gunfight, of course wins 

-34: Ok ok, now we know that our hero is indeed a mad cop, all we need is a sympathetic human rights activist to tell us the backstory as to why he became the mad cop. Waiddaminit, this movie has confusing timelines! 

+7.2: SPB goes into his golden age raspy voice for one second in the opening song, that reminded us of many things. 

Editor’s note: Stop it right there. 

-21: Hero’s daughter randomly points to one girl in the whole of Mumbai city and she happens to be heroine, needless to say that the heroine is single (although never stated) etc. Convenient relationship status is extremely convenient. 

-53.2: Now hero is tasked with “okaying” heroine. Following scenes seem to have been taken from some national film archives which somehow safeguards these 80s type coffee type romance.

+22: Rajni makes a clear stand. He likes only filter coffee. Instant powder coffee down down. 

+23: Rajni makes an even more clear stand. Coffee shop sell overpriced coffee that don’t taste so good. 

Editor’s Note: We should avoid such snide social commentary like these in our reviews, coffee shops are modern places  where minds can meet and discuss…stuff, in essence as many business books written by professors inform me that really we are not paying only for the coffee but for the ‘experience’. Much like how in movie theatres we are not paying for the movie alone but for the ‘experience’. 

<Hand Baby (Kai Kuzhandai) in audience goes Kua Kua Kua incessantly, FRS writers record this as part of ‘experience’> 

+12: Movie suddenly becomes serious and wants us to care about human trafficking 

+13: Movie suddenly becomes more serious (of course in between Yogi Babu comedy track is there) and wants us to care about drug menace

Remind us to cut points when movie later will completely forget these issues. 

-67: Movie suddenly then becomes about Mumbai Police finding their respect among the citizenry which was lost because of an old incident. 

-23: Heroine akka simply calls Hero to some random marriage because one girl has lost her chain. The reason for calling is because hero is Police Commissioner. After this, there is the dreaded marriage song, where hero goes and gives advice to marriage couple without knowing who they are, even other relatives don’t know who this person is, although no issue is made of the same

-34: All songs whenever and wherever, even BGM is fully with words like Thalaiva and Superstar with percussion….we mean..what is this? 

+6: Nothing really happens for a while then director decides to introduce the main villain, who will always be an international gangster. 

+11: Said villain has been elected as the head of all gangsters, seems like a quasi democratic process too! Long live gangster democracy! 

Editor’s Note: kindly remove gangster democracy. Chumma Kizhi. Take this out I say. 

-23: Movie bounces here and there, like Rajni’s hair before making it another hero vs villain fight which we know hero will win

-40.9: Movie thinks it is actually putting obstacles in the way of the hero, but then we never really feel anything, to make a show of it, movie decides to suspend Aaditya Arunachalam and then before you put your hands to scrape the bottom of the popcorn box, he is reinstated. So much for the show. 

But that suspension scene reminded us of THAT scene from Thangapadakkam (watch from 6:00 mins)

-7: Useless villain, when he has the opportunity to escape and come back with a better plan, decides to stay back and get hit by hero. 

-502: To Mumbai City planners, a ghastly fire accident has happened some 20 years back and you guys have not pulled down the potentially unsafe building but have actually made it into a memorial. What is this? 

+303: Hero inspires kid to wear police uniform. Now whole city respects the cops, drug problem is solved, human trafficking is reduced. All problems solved. All is well. Go and sleep peacefully. 

Editor’s Note: This is not very funny. Happy New Year. Include go and sleep peacefully as the last line. Thanks. 

All numbers are incidental and arbitrary, except the facts provided by our data analytics team

Subam

Team FRS

Kaithi (2019)

Lokesh Kanakaraj is in a hurry.

In 15 mins, I get to know there is a child waiting for an unknown guest somewhere, a group of students are detained at the police commissioner’s office for drunken behavior, a bloody operation results in 900kg of cocaine being seized, a high ranking official sets up what seems like his farewell party and a gang leader puts out a hit job task to his henchmen. 

All this before the credits.

But with characters and dialogue, not with narration and flash forwards. So when a police constable says that the current colonial building is being vacated for a new headquarters, it means a lot and at different points in time. 

You would notice that all of these events correspond to groups. Kaithi to my memory has the most number of memorable characters in recent times, which is not easy to do, most movies use a good one third of their time in set-up and hardly achieve memorable status apart from the leads. 

Lokesh does this is in a “look, I don’t have time, but this is what you have to know, come along and you will figure it out” kind of way. 

The seized cocaine is what gets things rolling(literally the truck), but this is not a story about how different groups are in the race to get back what they lost; in fact every set here wants something else- the IG wants a respectable retirement, certain henchmen just want money, a brother is in need of another, Kamatchi just wants his truck in one piece and Dilli (Karthi is brilliant) just wants to see his daughter (or does he?) and so on. 

Which is why Kaithi is such a constrained title, it brings back focus to one of the characters, but that is when the movie begins to adopt a one-man-against-the-world-hollywood-actioner aesthetic, and most of it works when set within context, although I fear that some of it, like the bullet ridden climax, is set well outside. 

But not all out of context things are bad, especially when Jumbalaka Jumbalaka and Metro Channel  starts playing to drown out voices in a lock-up. Fantastic!

Kaithi is blockbuster material when it stays on the road and wants to go from point A to B, I would have never imagined our rural roads, forests, quarries and  hills to lend themselves to this type of actioner, but I realize things are what they are, only because of the ways we see it in. Lokesh saw it differently

Kaithi is now streaming on Hotstar.