Tag: 2019

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.

Joker (2019)

The immediate message that got to me after watching Arthur Fleck slowly descend into madness is that I should get out of my head for good. 

Joker’s a really well made film, thoughtfully so in the departments of art and cinematography, but something about this record of madness doesn’t sit well with me. This was one of the reasons, I gave myself for skipping the film, until today.

Another reason is that I don’t really like the Joker character. 

There, I said it. 

Enough hot takes, I would like to elaborate a little, what I really mean is that I don’t really appreciate the modern interpretations of the character- starting from Heath Ledger’s take in the Dark Knight.

The character (in the movies) has traveled far from the camp that Jack Nicholson literally painted on screen. Now all the fun is gone. 

Well it’s been a generation since 1989. Things change, people tend to be attracted to different things. 

Maybe they do prefer this interpretation, where a comic prince of clown is moulded into this thinning frame which has nothing in its heart, but only itself ( and self pity of course). Maybe there is a reason why Arthur Fleck is a stand up comedian- a profession that requires a lot of suppressed anger (on society and on self) to be converted into jokes. And when those jokes don’t work? It turns into the descent, that I touched upon earlier. 

Drawing directly from Scorsese’s influential work in the 70s & the 80s that also featured decaying characters in cities of decay, Todd Phillips, adds too little. By throwing in Robert De Niro in as a funny talk show host, Phillips ensure that the Scorsese references don’t go unnoticed.

Gotham now has a rat problem, there is garbage everywhere and they hate the rich. The city then erupts into protests with people wearing clown masks because billionaire Thomas Wayne made an offhand comment, an indication that protests may not always have its origins in meaning.

But there is one thing, it doesn’t seem like a usual super hero(or villain) based film, and kudos to the director for that and Phoenix is in his usual great form; but after a point it becomes difficult to back the delusions of a depressed guy. 

Joker, the character itself is quite diabolical and is in constant need of space and adoration, it almost stole the movie from Batman in the Dark Knight; now it wants it’s own movie and going by the box office collections, it could have its own franchise. 

A franchise for those who feel they are disenfranchised. God, help me.

Enai Noki Paayum Thota

It’s been a week since I saw Gautam Menon’s latest film. I remember almost nothing of it. I take home images of a movie and only then, do I begin to form opinions on it (unlike whatever you might think). 

With ENPT, I can only recollect Dhanush dancing on the edge of the salt pans somewhere on the ECR. I know for sure that this does not directly concern the story- something like Sunaina’s character ( whose name I have to Google), but I guess one of the bad guys described her “gummunu irukka” (not translating due to lack of appropriate word) somewhere in the movie . 

It’s just me, I am getting old. I need to seek help to get this ENPT blog post out. ENPT blog out and ENPT out of my system, so we can really plan what to see and discuss in the coming year. Get the blog out!

So I decided to call up the buddies who put together the FRS, they of course had a good memory, but they said since we have already written the FRS of Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada or AYM, the points would hold good for ENPT. 

The writers were also very smart, they said that if I badly wanted a blog post about ENPT then I could just replace AYM with ENPT, Dhanush with STR, Megha with Manjima and voila, ready. 

Sometimes, I wonder how such smart people write for us. Mostly, I forget that these people are smart people. It’s just me. I am getting old. 

Next I look to the internet, which is a rich in opinion and low on insights medium. Maybe these opinions could help me remember what the movie was all about. After all, I needed to have a memory to form opinions, this seemed a logical option. I had to do it, I had to get into death wish mode and complete this blog post. 

But mostly the internet was talking about how ENPT had a lot of voice overs, hmm they were right, but also this was a Gautham Menon movie, what were they expecting? Maybe they were expecting smart voice-overs. But then again, this is a Gautam Menon film. 

Ah, now I remember; Dhanush’s college senior is Sunaina. But I know for a fact that Dhanush is much older than Sunaina, so maybe I should write about actors playing their appropriate age, that will surely resonate on social media. It is fairly an easy piece to write, almost a low hanging fruit, even our data analytics team in Pune said it would do good for overall website traffic. I rejected the idea, low hanging fruits don’t appeal to me. That’s why I didn’t write about a 30 years old actress playing a 26 year old. 

Another section spoke about how voice overs (i.e VOs) is the modus operandi (i.e MO) of Gautam Menon, they even said like if ‘we’ don’t question shadows in a Hitchcock film, then ‘we’ shouldn’t question GVM too. On the face of it, this seems like a very intelligent argument, our data analytics team also saw such arguments get the much needed traction. 

But is it not about using a method of storytelling but how well it is used and what impact it creates on the audience, the “we” in this case. Of course, if “we” say this, the response would be like, impact is subjective etc. Don’t ask me what I thought about the voice overs, I barely remember this film. It had voice overs. 

Ah! Now I remember, Sunaina’s character name is Mythili and she works in Mumbai. 

With only these minor memories, I was again faced with the question, should I even write about this film? The options before me were clear and they all pointed to one way to escape this misery, I had to. 

Don’t ask me why, you don’t have the right, because you did not ask when Scorsese used voice-overs or when Hitchcock used shadows. 

I should probably make up sentences like “first half was breezy-romantic, second half was action packed” , but honestly, I don’t know what breezy romantic is. But I should write these things, it’s probably what the ‘we’ felt in the theatres according to some critics. 

I know this blogpost will not add anything to discourse, much like Dhanush’s sister character in the movie, much like all GVM’s sister characters. 

So I should just put it out there, get ENPT out of the way and move on. Maybe I should go to Mumbai too, just to think about this movie in detail. But that would be a costly thing to do and my life might cross with gangsters and arms dealers. But I can always stay in Mythili’s place. Damn! I should just publish this blogpost.

“Do it. Do a spelling and grammar check. Now hit publish!” a voice in my head tells.

Don’t ask me why. 

Even if it is mediocre, some critic in the future might compare it to a blog post about a Hitchcock film.