Tag: 2018

FRS: Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (CCV)

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

Nevermind, we are quite excited when a Mani saar movie comes about anyway.

-101: Narration, even if it is through Vijay Sethupathi’s voice

-102: Narration accompanied by drone shots

-21: Gangster is the most powerful man in the city cliche. How do they arrive at these conclusions, is there a Forbes list for gangsters? 40 under 40 kind of based on killing etc?

Look we get it that most filmmakers from a generation are inspired by the Godfather, most of them hold it as the greatest piece of film ever made, but then it does not mean all movies about gangsterism should be taken seriously unless of course it is as arresting as the Godfather

+21: Gangster sings KV Mahadevan hits from 1961, because singing Ilayaraaja songs would now be considered cliche

+54: Effective foreshadowing is effective. The song Prakash Raj sings is from Thaai Sollai Thattadhe which is about a police officer trying to bring down a gang. Hey wait….good one Mani Saar.

-44: Director trademark of characters asking one word questions which is passed off as dialogue. Enga? Eppo? Yaaru types you know the drill So much so that the dialogue in the film is indistinguishable from the questions a five year old sitting next to you keeps asking.

-21: 66.67% of the dialogues are questions, 33.34% of the time they are left unanswered or followed by more questions. Since Mani Ratnam has already made Nayakan, he should aptly be called the Kelviyin Nayagane of the year. FRS team wants to institute this as form of an annual award. Data provided by our analytics team based out of Pune.

+17: Dubai Shieks will close all deals only on private yatches, also they have unbelievable level of patience.

<Interlude not sponsored by Harvard Business Insights>

Let’s analyse Thyagu’s business here, he takes money from Varadan-Senapathy his father to pay the Dubai Shieks but in exchange of what? How much could Senapathy afford to give his dubai son to get this business going. Seems pretty shady even for a shady business for like this, maybe the Shieks are patient because they are making a killing out of this deal.

</Interlude not sponsored by Harvard Business Insights>

-AAA: Even in the moment of almost calamity, even in a film directed by namma resident auteur Mani Ratnam; Simbu will get slow-mo opening sequence

-87: Serbian cops don’t know basic that you need to put a checkpost before a junction and not after; this simple mindedness of Serbian cops leads to Ethi (STR) being seeing as a master criminal. Serbia is not going to like this movie.

-61: Convenient STR’s Serbian girl friend is tamil speaking level convenient. Never mind…

+37: Gangster STR believes in not imposing his music choices on his girl friend, so both wear separate head phones. Feminist gangsters are the wonder of the 21st century.

-12: Movie does not realize the seriousness of situation and keeps the mood light even the issue here is about a set of brothers and their father being bombed to near death! (Insert the scream smiley here) Seems like the brothers don’t really care only.

-1: For whenever Varadan (Arvind Swamy trying to play Inba from Ayutha Ezuthu who was trying to play..oh never mind) says “Vidu, naa paathukaren” (means like I’ll take care). Says it two dozen times but things become worse after he says it.

+34: First they used K V Mahadevan’s songs in the movie, then they use MS Viswanathan’s character trait from Kathala Kathala. Thyagarajan’s (not Thyagu) dialogue is limited to 3 Muruga’s per minute

-12: Movie tries to build to tension around who would have tried to kill Senapathy but at this point of time we don’t really care and it seems like most of the cast don’t too.

-54: If you are female character in this movie, you either end up dead or in the lock-up or of course dropped from the screenplay at the most opportune moment.

+61: Aditi Rao Hyderabad (now in Telengana ) plays a very prosperous news journalist who has an affair with the main gangster by afternoon and reports his misdeeds objectively in the morning. Of course no one has any issue with that, at least some one is having fun in this movie.

+89: The women of Senapathy household seem to be ‘okay’ with everything, like extra marital affairs, gun running in Serbia, deal making in Dubai, drug peddling and all that. Which is kind of the underlying theme of the movie: shit happens and we are okay with it.

+142.8: Vijay Sethupathi seems to be doing his own thing and doesn’t really care what the brothers are up to, which is the best part of the film, he seems to show up with the same casual attitude that he puts on when he comes for a fully filmy interview with cinemapayyan.

+21: Varadan is an expert cook at his mistresses’ house but nothing is mentioned about how he is at his home, but he lets Chitra call him by his name; so feminism certified. Feminist gangsters are truly the wonder of 21st century.

-45: All songs whenever, wherever. Raghu aka ARR & co still doing the “let’s use the songs for BGM again” strategy. Hmm.

+101: Every time on the FRS we spend words and words on how goons are being ill treated by film makers. In this movie they actually get on-site opportunity and all, we just want to stand up and applaud. Thank you guys for taking note.

-20: Hero realizes that all of us (philosophically) are zero towards the end but doesn’t realize that gangsterisau is wrong and affects manly families badly. Maybe underlying theme is that people will be okay with gangsterism if there is enough feminism in the movie, maybe we are reading the movie wrong (mostly right option) and we will wait for the extended conversations with Mani Ratnam pdf to know what the movie is really about. Then we can always change our mind.

-25: Something something happens in the name of double cross- triple cross etc and person staying alive in the end of all this is the winner and of course let’s shoe horn the title Chekka Chivantha Vaanam into the works now. This also wins the Vaaranam Aayiram award for title explanation of the year.

PS: If you would like to see a better movie where men make reckless decisions and it is left to the women of the household to handle stuffs; check out this National Award film called Samsaram Adhu Minsaram. Just saying.

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

If you like what you see then here is the FRS of Kaatru Veliyidai

Subam

Team FRS

Movies As Two Different Things

Part One: Movies As Personal Things

On youtube (and mostly in life), one thing leads to another.

The first thing was a video of Y G Mahendran listing his favourite Sivaji Ganesan films as part of the 90th birthday celebrations of the actor; the video makes for interesting viewing even if you do not know that Y G Mahendran takes pride in calling himself a Sivaji Veriyan.

He throws into the mix, a set of acclaimed ( Deiva Magan, Thevar Magan ), popular ( Bale Pandiya, Navaratri) and overlooked (Motor Sundaram Pillai) but finally settles for a very personal film for his top pick; I guess I’ll leave that in suspense, you can enjoy the video here.

One is more often than one would like, asked to choose the best or favorite among a set.

To choose the best, one must have considerable technical knowledge to compare things on pure metrics. To choose a favorite is to tilt towards a generally accepted work highly endorsed within the community.

YGM does well in spite of the fanboism, because he is a cinephile and deep down-the movie that he reserves for the last is the film that affected him the most, personally. A film, when he watches every time makes him feel as though Sivaji is standing next to him, vacating the screen.

Great movies like great art (I always think before using the word art, because it has already been abused so much) is something that affects the person internally, resulting in some change to the person. This may or may not be the intention of the filmmaker, but the viewer forms a unique relationship with the film and this relationship strengthens on every rewatch. To put it in short, great movies for me are the ones that affect me personally.

Yes, I do not believe that movies are a communal experience; although there is an effect of watching movies in the theatre with strangers, it is not a lasting effect. When someone says that such a film is best enjoyed in such and such format in a specific theatre, it means that the movie takes second place over the medium.

A great movie should stand on its own, irrespective of how and where and to whom it is projected; and with that we have raised the stakes for what a great movie is. Stay with me as I summarize.

My great movie

  1. Brings about internal change
  2. Stands on its own, not dependent on medium/ message

Looking for the greatness of movies internally; gives me a sense of what I truly like and what affects me and this unending quest excites me. Although I would also like to add that this search for greatness is hard work and observations only manifests after a long time.

Part Two: Movies As Public Things

Coming back to the unseen force that makes us conform to a select crowd, that results in fanboism.

As stated earlier one thing leads to another on youtube and the second thing is also a Y G Mahendran video.


This was, as industry people would like to call it, a success meet celebration. Nevertheless interesting, because the movie Karnan was released in 1964 and its digitized re-release had exceeded expectations in 2012, running more than a hundred days.

Karnan is grand in scale, because the story demands it; and yes it has immense re-watch potential not only because it has Sivaji in it but also other appreciable parts.

Karnan is not a signature Sivaji film, like the ones YGM mentioned in his first video. Interesting to note that Karnan is not there in his top 10.

But here, YGM is before an audience, it is his core group, a selection of the choicest of Sivaji Veriyargal (who of course will have their own top 10, when asked to pick) who would do anything for the thespian, in fact one of them did the crazy act of re-releasing Karnan after 48 years!

YGM is in his fanboi-est best, in fact his aggression can be compared to the fanboisms of Thala-Thalapathy that populate tamil social media today.

Utterance after utterance is to establish that Sivaji Ganesan is the greatest actor to have walked the earth and how actors who came after, have ruined the field and hence movies themselves.

It is. by defintion peak fanboism.

When YGM and his group seek pleasure, it is not just the raising of Sivaji’s flag high but also garners relevance when their fandom is acknowledged by successive generations.

In effect, Sivaji’s legacy becomes the life’s work of the Veriyargal, because of course they cannot accept anybody else other than Sivaji.  

It is something like that quote from the Jungle book, for the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

Without the community, fanboism has no meaning; but there is an obvious downside to this as it heavily depends on finding common ground in an individual and not entire works which leads to unwanted superlatives and the time lost in countering or defending them.

The upside is that, their craziness preserves a good part of the legacy.

Part Three: The Conclusion

No this is not a point against fanboism, but it is certainly a post to remind viewers that comments made by people in the fanboi mode should not be taken seriously.

‘Movie-public’ and ‘Movie-personal’ are the modes that we operate in, and increasingly the word ‘great’ as used by fanbois is being mistaken for the meaning that an exceptional film provides, yes there is a difference and it should be noted.

Additional reading

You can also read an earlier Laureate piece on Karnan here. 

I don’t have a Sivaji Top 10, but would have put in Gowravam, Moondru Deivangal, Sivandha Mann, Ooty Varai Uravu, Thiruvarutselvar and the such.

But I do have a favourite song from Karnan, thank you for reading.


First Reformed

In silence, a moving camera slowly stops at the entrance to a church; the First Reformed church in New York, the setting of Paul Schrader’s film.

The lack of camera movement is striking, the lack of music drowned by cawing-cawing creates an unsettling atmosphere; my movie mind immediately reclines to the mode of familiarity, that smug sense of the mind jumping ahead of the story.

Oh, but how wrong my movie mind was and how happy I am. It is not that I have not been wrong before, the lord knows I have but it is not often that the feeling of being defeated is accompanied by indescribable happiness.

First Reformed is nothing like anything I have ever seen.

Movies are a visual medium, meaning they communicate to us through the eyes and when that sensation is achieved, we have in our hands what is often called a visual treat.

First Reformed goes beyond all that. Schrader forgoes cinematic mastery for spare but sure-footed direction and lets his main character wrestle with the theme of the movie.

From the very beginning it concocts a headache giving mixture of hope and despair, headache giving because it confirms simply that there can be no hope without despair. But what should one do when those tasked with reigning us out in times of despair are themselves sinking in doubt?

Ethan Hawke in a career defining performance plays Reverend Ernst Toller, a former military chaplain who is now faced with convincing an environmental activist who strongly believes that we are headed for the worst of times and it is all our doing.

The restraint in film-making and lack of score, automatically puts the weight of the film on the actors and the success of the themes on the lines that they speak. Hawke is excellent and we must take time to thank the lines on his forehead, which jump from disinterest to doubt to finality of despair.

A spiritually moving and transformative film, which made me feel the truly small nature of our collective existence and how helpless we are in the great problems that we create for ourselves.

Finally, it felt like a great movie.