Category: Parking Lot Notes

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. 

Parking Lot Notes: Nerkonda Paarvai

It is difficult for me to see Nerkonda Paarvai without making comparisons to Pink, at the same time it is also difficult for me to accept that an EDM festival in such a large scale would be held near Mamallapuram.

Yes, that is how H Vinoth’s Nerkonda Paarvai begins. 

If this had been an FRS we would have cut points for disbelief, but this is no FRS. 

Even with some years behind since its release Pink had something going for me, its absolute lack of heroism itself was heroic, the smooth transitions between the scenes which were not wanting to create dramatic tensions when they did not exist. 

When Amitabh Bachchan stands up to say “No” there is but a ticking clock (presumably of the court) which keeps him company, there is no other score. 

Just a lawyer delivering the closing arguments of his case. 

There has been many a column dedicated to how bold it is for a hero like Ajith Kumar to take up such a subject.But many columns need to be written on how the film making differs and the additions that Vinoth has added only hamper the classic and on point film making of Pink. Hopefully this is a start. 

Nerkonda Paarvai is in all ways an inferior remake of Pink. Let’s start with the characterisation. 

Deepak Sehgal is a disturbed ageing lawyer, his illness is mentioned but not explained, we know it is an impediment when he mixes up words when fighting for the girls. These impediments make the fight difficult, they add one more layer when the wronged girls go against the powerful boys. 

In the Tamil remake, the worst I had feared had happened; Bharath Subramaniam has a mental condition- bi polar, stress and anger issues etc but this is hardly an obstacle, in fact this mental condition gives Ajith a superpower to bash goons- again typical nondescript goons. There is no obstacle, in fact here they fear the hero. 

I loved Viswasam, I almost felt it was a clever Tamil reworking of Logan- Ajith even sports the same tired look of Hugh Jackman (this for another blog post). In Nerkonda Paarvai, his association with super heroes continue and Bharath Subramanium is nothing but a Bruce Banner/Hulk as realized by Ajith. 

Nothing wrong with that, except that this characterisation is in the wrong movie. 

I am not sure if the Pink remake needed a heroic backstory for its hero, but it surely did not require the utterly unconvincing Vidya Balan flashback. Oh and a loud Yuvan background score. 

And of the other actors only Rangaraj Pandey seems to be having fun, playing a version of himself- one of the most confident debuts in recent times. 

At the Laureate we do not celebrate movies just because of the themes that they take up- but hey many liked this film- why such negative notes? 

Maybe it is me, I should have given more time between viewing these films. 

In that case I would have forgotten about how beautifully absent of background music Pink was.

I would have forgotten the biting sarcasm that Sehgal brought about in his ‘guide to the modern Indian woman’.

I would have forgotten that Amitabh was just a player ( an able one at that) in the movie which was more focussed on the girls. 

I would have forgotten all about how the original treats people as people and not playing them as heroes and villains, the remake does this constantly by close-ups and ominous music. 

Maybe it is not them, it is me. 

Parking Lot Notes: Kadaram Kondaan

There is something more frustrating when a movie comes close to greatness and then falls short- it is when a movie is perfectly flat and gives me not enough reason to hate it. 

Rajesh M Selva’s follow up to Thoongavanam is the cinematic equivalent of what is referred to in corporate appraisal meetings as “barely meets expectations”. These meetings don’t end badly, but neither are they the source of future happiness or gross percentage increase in salary. 

It is like just doing enough to avoid being hated by the manager. 

Doubly frustrating if you can relate it to our writers at the Lowly Laureate- this could have been an FRS. 

Lucky for the director  that he has the script from the french film which saved him from doing stuff from scratch- ideally would have given him more time in character development- but who cares what I believe. 

“Let’s just have Vikram walk in slo-mo and hope the audience go bonkers and maybe they will use indeterminables like” chiyaan swag etc.” Let’s also have him smoke a cigar because that would add to the style right? 

Ghibran could add some “BWAAAAH”, that dark knight type music? Ok cool. 

Character development done. 

Somewhere along the line, a set of characters do an exposition dump in the middle of a car ride- this is just after they discover the mysterious KK (vikram)  in the police database. Of course he is ex-special forces, double agent and expert safe-cracker and no one on the robbery unit couldn’t recognize him on the go, because Malaysian police are nothing without their databases. 

I thought maybe the movie should have begun with something like “In a world where everyone in malaysia speaks Tamil” that would have been crazy and fun, but this movie does nothing crazy(or fun), even the tired ‘twist’ comes before the halfway mark. 

The initial romantic portions between the leads Abi Hassan and Akshara Haasan (not related) too look like they have been inspired by a real estate ad asking young couples to invest in a new apartment so that they can claim subsidy from the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana ( but then this scheme is not applicable in Malaysia). 

Maybe I should not be expecting anything. Maybe I should not be so mean. 

Easily one of the worst RKFI films.