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cinema cinema:english cinema:tamil Essay

IT’S THE SAME THING, MR SIVAM!

HOW KURUTHIPUNAL AND THE DARK KNIGHT ARE ONE AND THE SAME

Well, almost the same. An essay.

“The mind sees what it wants to see”

The Da Vinci Code, 2006

The choice of opening quote from the Da Vinci Code might put you into a lot of worry, I know, but I simply love that movie. Nevertheless the movie has this brilliant quote which is so close to what I am trying to do here.

When you keep seeing a lot of movies, ok let me refine that, when you keep seeing a lot of movies, a lot of times; things just strike you, you begin to see things that you wouldn’t have cared about during your first viewing, you start to make assumptions based on thin connections, this article is a voice of all that goes into a head which makes these connections.

It could be frivolous to many who have reached this page, and this is what that gives me the nervousness.

Nevertheless, I begin.

Sometime after Inception was released, there was a Disney comic that was doing the rounds, written of course years and years ago which had the exact structure as that of Inception (A dream within a dream within a dream), we can hardly accuse Christopher Nolan of theft, but the interesting point here is the similarities in structure and how some things are quite universal.

Let’s now get to the wonderful police film Kuruthipunal, released in 1995 is actually based on a Govind Nihlani film Drohkaal which was released the previous year.

Then why doesn’t your article cite Drohkaal? You are bound to ask, I’ll come to that in a bit.

The starting point is of these kind of these connections are of course the interrogation scenes from Kuruthipunal.

Kuru-TDK12

FEAR AS AN INSTRUMENT OF TERROR

The above subtitle would have been a better title for this whole piece, because that is what these two movies are essentially about. Two men; one with an ideology (Badri-Nasser) and another seemingly without (The Joker- Heath Ledger) make up the main antagonists, so critical to both the films

While the joker constantly plays on the subject fear and loss, not only on the main characters of the film, but also on the inhabitants of the city; similarly do Badri and his gang unleash terror on the common public and the honest police officers.

Interestingly both movies begin with an incident involving a school bus.

Well, all this too generic to see, every terrorist group will aim to do just that.

But Wait.

In the Dark Knight, the token of Harvey Dent is a coin, he keeps referring it to as chance- the fairest of all things in the world, but just look at it from here, a flip of a coin can indicate many things and among them is the change of sides.

WE ARE NOT AS STRONG AS WE THINK

The Joker keeps referring to himself and the Batman are one and the same, just on different sides, he also strangely says that he is able to understand the freakiness that is the Batman character and that Batman would do better on his side.

This is again exactly what Badri says to Adi (Kamal Haasan), but here it is not the freakiness that is in question, but honesty.

Both films have characters that have been lured by the tricks of the antagonist and cross over to the other side, Harvey Dent even asks “why me?”, but it was the Joker’s trick with everyone, only Harvey was not as strong as he seemed to be, similarly the case with Adi who accepts to become a terrorist informer for the sake of his family and friends.

Shake your belief to an extent that you topple and fall from grace, the death of Harvey Dent had far reaching consequences including a major cover up, similarly in Kuruthipunal, Kamal makes a last ditch attempt at honour even when fully realising that he can live no more without his honesty.

Thematically these movies are so similar because of the below: fear and faith, and most of the conversations in Kuruthipunal are about the same, while only the scale of events are different.

In the Dark Knight, as with most Batman lore is about the city, while Kuruthipunal is interestingly anonymous about the whole setting of the movie, there are few references to other places in the country, but invariably the setting seems anonymous, to imply what I believe is the universality of terror.

The terror groups in the film also represent the threat of the times in the south, although that could be reading into it too deeply.

Something which Kamal again touches upon in Unnai Pol Oruvan (again a remake, improved if I might add)

Kuru-TDK21

The Dark Knight has three pivot characters around which the Joker operates, the Batman: The Dark Knight who as we know has many issues including one childhood girlfriend, Harvey Dent: The White Knight who also has girlfriend issue and then there is Commissioner Gordon who fears for the life of his family.

Ok, Kuruthipunal too has three central characters whose life is turned upside down by Badri, DCPs Adi and Abbas and Commissioner Sreenivasan (Director K Vishwanath). The transformations that these characters undergo because of the activities of the antagonist are what I think the most common element amongst them.

There can be no private life of a public protector

The Dark Knight however has this advantage of having a symbol that is incorruptible and hope giving, while Kuruthipunal and Drohkaal manage to bring the same story out with real life characters as opposed to comic book heroes.

That brings us to Drohkaal and why Kuruthipunal is more closer to the Dark Knight than its predecessor, on casual viewing you can say that Kuruthipunal is really better made, there are so many things that are added to the Tamil version that is not there in the Nihlani film, like for example extending the role of Abbas (Arjun) and involved action sequence on the platforms of the dimly lit Egmore Station, which still remains as chilling as I saw it the first time, cinematic differences aside which are many and bound to be when a film is being helmed by one Mr PC Sreeram, the structural similarities between the Dark Knight and Kuruthipunal is only heightened because the screenplay and dialogues (John and Kamal Haasan), because only through dialogue character motivations are completely brought out.

Drohkaal on the other hand brings it down to a more corrupt police vs good police generic concept.  But there is no denying what Kuruthipunal owes Drohkaal, the basic story.

While Kuruthipunal makes it a clash of cultures and ideologies as shown through the conversations between Kamal and Nasser, and this is what the Dark Knight tries to achieve by letting off the Joker against the Batman.

Both scenarios end with a sacrifice.

ENDING NOTE

All this analysis is for what? Any movie can be compared to anyone and with a convincing writer, connections can be established.

I am hardly a convincing writer and this is not a post of revelation, it is just a thought that has been doing the rounds for quite some time in my head, to look at the ideas that make these films as one fluid entity and that may be the reason for the similarities, ideas that flow from one person to another. But the explanations might be even simpler for this, a common movie that has inspired these both, putting this entire post to waste bin. But that is a risk I am willing to take.

I have always seen Nolan’s Batman films as police films that comment on terrorism and maybe that is also one of the reasons for this post.

The stories of both progress differently, Kuruthipunal with a strong grounding towards the families of the policemen involved, while it is only a sub-element in the Dark Knight.

The relationship between the three characters in both the movies oscillates between absolute trust and just working relationships which as mentioned before is exploited by the villain.

Did not want to put this up as points and reduce it to a scoop whoop/buzzfeed release, because this is more involved and needs more discussion. Both are great movies even without these similarities: taut and exciting thrillers which deliver one good scene after the other.

Both films are elevated to a different level by their villains, although Heath Ledger has been lauded posthumously, Nasser’s chilling portrayal towering over the leads and that to in a Kamal film has sadly been forgotten, like most of his roles.

Interestingly Ashish Vidyarthi whose role Nasser assumed for the Tamil version won a National Award.

Kuruthipunal and not Drohkaal was India’s official entry to the Oscars in corresponding year, while the Dark Knight was nominated for every other major category except Best Film, which it would have, had it not been a super hero film.

PC Sreeram has just made one film after Kuruthipunal as director; Nolan came to the theatres with yet another terrorist film called the Dark Knight Rises.

It is also interesting to note that Kuruthipunal begins with a phrase that contains the word Kuruthipunal which translates to River of Blood, while the Dark Knight literally ends with the words: the Dark Knight.

#justsaying

The title of this post, if you haven’t figured out is a direct reference to another Kamal film called Anbe Sivam

This post also marks 20 years since the release of Kuruthipunal.

kuru3

Thank you for reading.

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil reviews

APPEARANCES ARE DEFECTIVE: THE ‘I’ REVIEW

i-movie-poster_141075512910 WARNING IF YOU DO NOT LIKE READING IN PARAGRAPHS, PLEASE SCROLL  TO JUST BEFORE THE ENDING, WE HAVE GIVEN EVERYTHING IN POINTS, READERS MUST NOTE THAT THIS IS THE ANNA UNIVERSITY METHOD OF WRITING, OTHERS CAN READ FROM HERE Caustic Kumar sat at the edge of his assigned seat, somewhere at the back of the auditorium which played host to the Annual Movie Reviewers award, the announcer: a really short man who looked shorter in his borrowed suit began to announce the nominees for the “third best movie reviewer-male” category. Caustic Kumar unhinged himself from his removed self and showed some expectation in the names that were being announced, the organisers had the good sense to arrange for an LED screen which had live footage of those who had been nominated, in the right bottom was the smiling face of Moderate Manohar. It was those rare occasions in life when the world actually favoured fairness against flamboyance, fake-ness and flowery-ness, Mod Manohar had actually won the award. Amidst chattering crowd who unconsciously clapped without care or knowledge as to who had won, Moderate Manohar began his now epic acceptance speech. <Cut to the cell phone screen of Caustic Kumar> <Incoming Message noise, Ping or Ting> “Caustic, need urgent review of Shankar’s I, we have a lot of space for tomorrow’s edition because the Bollywood editor has gone on leave. Write something like ’25 things that we learned from I’ would be ideal for digital edition, repeat urgent” Editor in Chief (non-Bollywood Segment-special charge) <Cut to Caustic’s face>

Caustic: Shit

Meanwhile… Moderate: “I would also like to dedicate this award…um…dedicate not the right word…I would like to share this award with my partner in reviews…who is sitting there looking bewildered for not getting nominated this year…Mr. Caustic Kumar!!!” <Yaay! Mod shouts in the mike meekly like an elementary school kid>

Chattering uncaring crowd goes silent over the mention of the name Caustic Kumar. Announcer has no other option, but to signal Caustic on to the stage. A senior reviewer who was three years old when Gone with the Wind was released was not impressed and started to walk out of the auditorium, while the live video feed captures the whole response.

Another senior reviewer, also the member of the awards committee and not surprisingly winner of the awards a great number of times (double digits) scathingly remarked as Caustic got to the stage, “Put on a smile Caustic, you know only the best get nominated”

Caustic: “Thanks Chandru, I would have been nominated a hundred times, if only there had been a category called Honest Movie Reviewer of the Year” Mod laughs uncontrollably

<CROWD ERUPTS IN ANGER>

It is to be noted here that the crowd here consisted of past winners and their intimate families and like-minded friends, only Caustic had dragged himself to the event to see his friend be nominated. <AS EXPECTED THEY THROW CAUSTIC AND MOD OUT>

Caustic: Let’s just get on with this, before someone comes out and starts hitting us. Mod: I had one good moment in life and even before it could be photographed, you ruined it,

Caustic: Come on now, you are not the third best reviewer in town, in fact there is no difference between you and the other guys, I mean the winners…you all say the same THING!!!

Mod: You are jealous that you have never won any award.

Caustic: That I am never going to win, but at least I need to get paid at the end of this month, we need to do this I review thing, I already made a few points, let’s call it “Appearances are Defective”

Mod<going into Mod mode>: See the thing is, Shankar had a concept, to show that beauty is not skin deep… to show that models were humans also.. Caustic: Bull only…I can see that there has been no clear thinking on the side of production, at least no clear thinking, all the people who live in this Model universe are as plastic as the pearlpet jars that these guys gave you as an award here…

Mod<points to the award in his hand>: This is not pearl pet

Caustic: ok, shripet. That is not the point, however when the hero does fall in love for here, which begins as admiration to a celebrity and blossoms into love when he sees her in bikini, that I think is the lowest point.

Mod: Come on now, we can this is an admission on the part of the writer and also the heroine turns out to be more than her looks, further in the movie.

Caustic: This is why they give you awards, I mean all of you, you just say the same thing which everyone expects in a movie, and you can absolutely say what will be printed in tomorrow’s paper.

Mod: My win has really affected you, we are balanced and unbiased and even in a bad movie we try to look at the good things and not take pot shots, and we encourage new talents, as it is too many restrictions in filmmaking

Caustic: WHY SHOULD MOVIE REVIEWERS BE NEUTRAL????<Shouts> we are not part of the judicial system, we are also not diplomats and so there is no reason for us to be…wait for it….diplomatic!

Mod: You are taking this too personally I guess, I try you guess what my review of I would be

Caustic: Easy work, I- so much hard work by Vikram, stunning visuals, imaginative song and fight sequences and second half would have been shorter or some such things….

Mod: Well…. I mean…how much can you really say? Is it not good to see the good things in the whole?

Caustic: I’m saying this now, there can be no two ways about it, you like it or not, it is only when you sit and substantiate on how much effort they have put etc, but it is to those first impressions that act as instigators to you real opinon.

Mod: SO you’re saying that “all this hardwork by Vikram” phrase should not be used at all

Caustic: I’m saying it should not be used at all, it is after all an actor’s sworn duty to bring the character on screen, why give extra points for that and does it mean that in other movies this much effort is not being put in?

Mod: It means that other movies might not require that much work

Caustic: Exactly, movies must require a LOT of work!!! Here in this case it is the story, this is basically a Aboorva Sagodarargal template (which by itself is a culmination of early revenge films), but this is an Aboorva Sago without the goodness, without the interesting characters….

Mod: You cannot compare….

Caustic: Let me finish…AS begins with pain, Srividya getting poisoned, Kamal getting killed, Appu doesn’t know it but we the audience do, we fell for them, and then later when Appu comes to know of his past, we feel even more, we want to be there when the Tiger rips off Nasser’s head and share a similar look to that of Appu, which is quote scary. Even if you consider the character of Appu as a gimmick, the weight of the story and how the screenplay is constructed makes all the difference, here in Shankar’s I the Koonan character is nothing but a fancy dress item, I really couldn’t feel for him because his greatest motivation is good looks and god awful villains who really put planning to shame.

Mod: You just run over the film like a train, not staying on things, this as I had first said; is about how love is not about appearances, like how Diya…

Caustic: They should have called her Barbie

Mod: Shhh… Diya the model, loves Lingesh even when he becomes Koonan, to show that love is all conquering

Caustic: In that case I would have liked to see the love child of Koonan and Diya, not see Koonan become Lingesh again; but one thing I do agree is that they have used fairy tales as basis for this whole film. (see Ennodu Nee Irundhaal)

Mod: You absolutely hate this film, I get it, but there is no point going into such details, sit back, enjoy the China landscape and PC’s camera…

Caustic: Oh my God, don’t remind me, that China valley replica had the most irritating Advertisement like house setting ever, this is the point, let us just say that this film is about how ads are soul-less and those who act in them are angels on earth, ok not all but only those who play the leads in this film.

<Mod starts to say something…then decides not to>

Caustic: If you want, we can say that this is a cleverly disguised attack on consumer capitalism and exploitation, we can also use phrases like seduction of the innocent, like how the lead character never wavers from his child-like innocence even though his really bad Madras bashai blossoms into an accent worthy of a super model.  You can also use your favourite phrase “for a tamil film, this had good graphics” line.

Mod: Oh, I’m fed up of writing it, I really do hope that there is a method to look beyond the graphics, all those bulbous villains in the end, but the effort they have put makes me want to encourage…

Caustic: This is not some newcomer you need to encourage…that brings us to Shankar, on the weakest script he has taken up in his career, this movie seems to have been directed on auto pilot or sleep mode.

Mod: That brings us to the primal question, “ Are we getting better, or are the movies getting dumber?”

Both walk into the darkness, while a PING sound is heard, it must be the editor.

THE ‘I’ REVIEW FOR ALL THOSE WHO SCROLLED TO THE END, ALMOST Story=Aboorva Sago minus Kamal minus Ilayaraaja minus Screenplay and of course minus sense Countries you can visit by watching this movie: China, flower valley, song worthy Special Song: Beauty meets beast meets musical type extravaganza. Special mention: none whatsoever MOVIE  FAST FACTS/IMPRESSIONS

  • Vikram lost and regained weight, or regained and lost weight
  • Amy Jackson who plays a model in this film, is actually a model (wonder casting!)
  • Police dogs lose scent on railway tracks, because….convenience
  • Hero will fall in love with body parts.
  • Influenza Virus is deadly
  • Models are popular enough to be movie stars, but will not act in movies (I dunno why)
  • Heroine’s mother will go into coma if heroine does not marry
  • Heroine’s mother shares an interesting relationship with one doctor, although nothing is shown, something is hinted. (This was the only thing that interested us in the movie)
  • Chennai villain model has influence to call up 2500 chinese goons in china on bicycles to kill hero model, hero model of course kills them all.
  • If you shoot a romantic song in china, you can float in air over water, because no gravity in china.
  • Advertisement director gets more pissed than audience on heroine;s acting.
  • Cola barons will look like Vijay Mallya
  • Hero’s parents will always vanish at a point in the movie when the writers thinks that they are no longer required. Henceforth to be called I’s rule.
  • Before important movie event, all villains will gather in one room, so that hero can be explained what the audience knew 25 mins back.

(SPOILERS) Senior but not so popular now (or) other state actor doing side role in earlier part of the movie can mean only one thing: <wait for it…>he is the main villain. In the end everyone is beautiful again. <This movie review was written with all respect to the hard work the makers of the movie had put in, this review was written without much hard work but with almost near death anger on how the movie turned out>

Categories
cinema:tamil

PIPE DREAMS: KATHTHI

ck and mm

“In the darkness that is the theatre, it doesn’t matter if you’re a critic or a common man”

Anonymous,but sensible quote.

kathi-first-look

Caustic Kumar(CK): Are they going to have some celebrations now that we are back

Moderate Manohar(MM): We don’t encourage any kind of celebrations

Editor: What celebrations? Get back to work!

CK and MM together: We have come up with a unique format which could give us a head start when compared to the other movie scribes; it is so different that it has never been tried before in the history of movie criticism!

Editor: Even in the US?

CK and MM: Even in the US!

Editor: No! Just get back to work!

CK and MM walk back with wry smiles; CK sees that his table hasn’t been cleaned since the time he left.

CK: It’s good to be back (hmpf)

MM: Whether you like it or not Caustic, film criticism is dead, not that we were any good but then, anyone with a facebook account can write a review

CK: it’s just parameters, these are not reviews

MM: as in?

CK: parameters, any viewer goes in with a set of parameters which they have accumulated in the back of their mind, they match their reflections to these parameters and put it down as a status. That’s simply not a review.

MM: Oh, so how is ours…umm I mean yours different from them?

CK: Our…sorry my process is based on feeling, pure feeling and feeling gives context.

MM: Do you think the people out there care? Why would take your feeling to their head when they can have their own.

CK: I do not know if they care, maybe they do not, but this is the only way I express myself.

MM: hmm…typical

CK: It seems that little hiatus you took, has made you more proficient in mockery

MM: For God’s sake CK, lets discuss Kaththi, our bickering already eaten up 320 words!

CK: maybe you’re right, where to begin?

MM: At the beginning, did u see the pattern? This is Enga Veetu Pillai (Ram aur Shyam for our northern audience, if any i.e) meets Rajadhi Raja meets whatever hero who tried this active- passive hero swapping places for the greater good of mankind plot

CK: My God! Mod!, you stole the words from my mouth, yes it is the same sub-sub-genre if something could be called that, but you know, this is a genre that actually works when done well, I still catch Enga Veetu Pillai on TV, it has some great moments

MM: And here?

CK: Oh, where do we begin, the movies cited above really had some kind of thing going for them, because they did not take their plots too seriously…seriously as in the outcome of the plot would not have changed the whole world as such, both Enga Veetu Pillai and Rajadhi Raja had domestic and limited even personal problems

MM: Exactly! Here’s this film deals with changing the mindset of city dwellers about the struggle of the farmers and there is this character swapping happening in between.

CK: I really like film with social causes, they make you feel so small, question your very existence, might help you become a big time buyer of organic products etc

MM: what are you saying!?

CK: I don’t care, I mean I don’t really care about society, as in do I always have to show the world how I really think that I care about the society?  If my intention of caring will really change the plight of millions then I will, I really like how easy it is to take sides and paint the other guys as black, it really helps from a writer’s POV. If you are a corporate guy, you will be bad, even your henchmen will be bad, your security guy will be bad…on the other hand… if you are from a village

MM: SHhhhh!!! Some years ago, you might remember that Raguvaran as Anthony employed the well-meaning Vijaykumar, even when they had a conflict of interest.

CK: Yes! Conflict, no conflict here, which made me root for none, there, is no writing here, just positioning. If movies are the guilt based conscience awakener that could reform society then with the number of society-conscious heroes, our would have been the most developed country in the world

MM: So you’re saying that if a director feels strongly about poverty, he should not make a film about it?

CK: Who am I to say such things? I have no rights even, but then I have the rights to question the motives of a director who goes from farmer suicides to “let’s take a selfie pulla” within seconds.

MM: hmm yes disturbing…

CK: and the heroine…

MM: Caustic, we made a pact about not discussing things that will be usually discussed in other reviews, like hero performance, opening songs, cinematography, heroine, item numbers, music, technicalities, comedy tracks etc…

CK: yes, readers know these things anyway. But couldn’t help but notice, why is she there? I mean why?

MM maintains some kindoff silence

CK: leave it Mod, I have reformed, I am going to help the blind man cross the street.

MM: Who?

CK points to a frail figure walking slowly

MM: That’s our editor!

CK: oh didn’t realise from the distance, anyhow Mod, it feels good to be back

MM: It’s good to be back!