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

FRS: Sarkar

FRS: Sarkar
One finger, election swinger

So by now everyone knows what an FRS is right? If not we probably will have to fire the entire marketing department at the Lowly Laureate.

Wait a minnit, we don’t have a marketing department; but what we have is a musical department.

<Musical Department plays Sad Appu theme from Aboorva Sago on cue>

Editor: Get on with it. Please.

-501: To us, as usual posting late FRS; no excuse dammit! (That’s the editor’s only contribution, he wanted us to include this to show that unlike most publications, writers here are relatively accountable)

-30: Director feels that it is important for him to show all the great “empires” in world history in the titles just because he named the film Sarkar.

+12: Vijay played a magician (sort of) in his previous film thus confusing many people to believe that this movie could be a biopic of legendary magician PC Sarkar.

But rumor was that this was abandoned from the word go because a movie about an Indian magician would actually be interesting and would involve lot of hard work etc unlike this one. There we said it.

-404: It has been decades since the IT industry became a good part of the Indian economy but Tamil movie directors don’t want to understand what this IT is only.

-33: IT company head honchos will call employees out to the bay area and ask them to google about a CEO of rival company under fears of a takeover by the said CEO because he is visiting India.

We mean LOOOOOOL, all the Saturday Night live comics put together cannot beat this master of an open. Funny and fun forever.

-169: IT company girl who is ‘researching’ about CEO is actually watching a youtube video called “Sundar in Las Vegas” also tells something to the effect like “he is a playboy, but very cute ya”

Las Vague-as

+101: Vijay does breaking the 4th wall to speak to greet his fans even in open spaces.

Everytime Vijay na breaks the 4th wall, a season of house of cards is cancelled somewhere.

-36: All the dancers in Las Vegas know the exact same steps as CEO Sundar, do they go to same dancing class? If so did GL Corp pay for their CEO’s dancing classes?

Oh BTW all songs in this movie are just Vijay dancing in the foreground with fancy lights/ferris wheel in the background.

#OOOOooooOOO

+56: We can clearly see what CEO Sundar is doing in Vegas, thus this movie has broken the long standing myth that what happens in vegas stays in vegas.

-22: Movie goes into ultra slow motion when CEO Sundar lights up a cigarette

Slow in motion, low on emotion

<FRS Mini Bytes>

Unwritten rules in Tamil Cinema be like if you are going to shoot on a runway then it must be in slow motion to emphasise “hero-walking-down-flight-stairs” or in other words what is commonly misunderstood as style

</FRS Mini Bytes>

-57.8: Movie keeps emphasizing that CEO Sundar’s corporate strategy is entirely driven by acquisitions, well even if we do take that at face value; we think movie misunderstands acquisitions and thinks it is something like going to a mall and buying a watch kind-off thing. I mean these are complex, like ok let’s go a little deeper into this.

{I would like to point out that here FRS writers work twice as hard as the writers of this film; and thus our sentences now resemble CAT problems}

Historically acquisitions have benefitted the seller more than the buyer (in this case CEO Sundar) and majority of the deals that went through could not meet the projected revenue numbers, which means that CEO Sundar would have to answer a lot to the board.

<Now that’s a movie that I would like to see>

Wow, a tech CEO who makes tough choices by acquiring companies that don’t make money is taken to task by the governing board, that makes an interesting story.

</Now that’s a movie that I would like to see>

What we really want to say that things don’t look so well for GL Corp.

+101: ARM is total genius, instead of having usual tagalong sidekick that hero can bounce off jokes; he moulds that character into Keerthy Suresh, only that it doesn’t work to the intended comic effect, nevertheless genius attempt.

+102: Usually some smart critic will use the term “subverting audience expectation” although at that point they mean they were not prepared for such a film, which means to say that we can safely deduce that most critics make up their mind about films before they watch.

Loool and people actually trust critics with their choices.

OK back to subverting audience 101, here ARM has subverted critics expectations like a total boss.

Usually, on seeing when the heroine character not having much to do in the course of the story, critics wearing blue and other color shirts will say something like in exasperation :”hey, what is Keerthy Suresh doing here?”

ARM is boss, he has so many years of experience in the film industry and hence anticipates the whole scenario and subverts critics expectation by making the hero Thalapathy Vijay aka CEO Sundar aka Vijay na to ask the question: “Hey, Keerthy Suresh; what are you doing here?”

Critics thought movie was very ‘self-aware’ (again one of their phrases) and gave centum marks for the film.

-55: Sundar’s lawyer’s name is Malani which half of the name of Ram Jethmalani; but still Malani commands the same fee as Ram Jethmalani.

When you come at half the name, you only deserve half the price.

+236.2: CEO Sundar becomes Lawyer Sundar after overnight reading of 300 KG law books, this we believe is a tribute to the underappreciated art of last minute cramming or known in some academic circles as “mugging”.

+38: For the cost of one movie ticket you get to see two villains and one secret villain, as consumers of goods we were very happy. But very sad to see that all villains have only one strategy which is : send goons to kill Sundar.

Buy 2, get 1 free

Villains may come and go, but the demand for goons has shown a healthy increase, but we would like to know if there is an increase of minimum wages for such professions.

Mostly there is a union for these goons, there are unions for everything anyways.

-38: Needless to say CEO Sundar will defeat goons single-handedly; but of course he uses both hands that was just an expression.

His corporate training tool-kit comes with 40+ hours of action block training from the school of super subbarayan, looks like.

-102: Benevolent ARM is benevolent.

Looks like ARM was very happy with what his writers came up with for the first half and so in that happiness sent them packing to some location and the writers never returned, hence ARM was forced to take newspaper headlines and make them into situations.

What ARM did not realise was that most newspaper headlines are boring, and if people wanted to read newspaper headlines they will buy or borrow newspapers and not buy or borrow movie tickets.

-342: But this is our usual rant that falls on deaf ears. Everyone goes to tamil movies to be educated, who are we to question that?

-86: Although Sundar is CEO of GL Corp, he only wishes his compatriots should have 1990s type desktop installed in their new office. Also at this point we begin to doubt the actual role of CEO Sundar, he always keeps talking about marketing and branding which is what a CMO would do.But anyway, good for GL <spoiler alert> Sundar resigns.

Cutting across party lines

+56: Hero solves all problems. Everyone is happy, elections are reformed, parties have been cleaned up and good governance has been put in place; until of course in the next film Vijay na is asked to deal with a different issue.

All numbers are incidental and non-indicative

Regards

Team FRS

 

The Aunty Terror Squad

FYC: Spyder

spyder3

Has there been any Hollywood movie that has influenced so many Indian filmmakers within a short while than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight? Maybe it is about the obsession with creating an antagonist.

Oh but I’m only thinking out loud, but it could really be the next on the ‘movies-we-look-up to-for-immediate-inspiration’ after Coppola’s The Godfather.

But the Batman and Joker are already part of larger conscious because of decades of multimodal existence, making it easier for writers to evoke invested past strands and bring to life the characters; it is not the same case in a Telugu-Tamil bilingual; a genre where a master in the culinary arts would not feel out of place.

Such movies are not called masala for nothing.

The Dark Knight is a (dark) blockbuster superhero movie, the near equivalent from what we have is the south Indian mass masala.  While some of it can be considered as comic, but here the word does not refer to periodicals out of which characters leap out of.

Mass masala by itself depends much on its leading man and the story gives into him. By that very statement it means that these films are meant to work only for those who buy into the charms (or lack-of) of the star.

Which means that for the most part the writer-directors are restricted in their choice of ingredients, sometimes they have to make do with just one condiment, more often than not trick the audience by throwing garam masala in our eyes.

AR Murugadoss seems to, in my eyes at least an expert chef who can find different uses for the same ingredient.

(I am really overdoing this samayal-cinema analogy, must come to the point before things get over cooked)

Under The Influence

Spyder1

I believe more than the act of being inspired by another work, it is more important to know why that particular inspirational moment worked and think before replicating it.

Spyder’s hero does what Batman wanted Lucius Fox to do, listen in on people; while the ethical ramifications of spying are superficially dealt, they provide a convincing motivation for the lead; to prevent crime before it happens.

Yes, this could be the pre-crime from Minority Report but it could also be the inversion that is seen in ARM films like making a Vijaykanth film without making a Vijaykanth film?

The hero becomes a mass hero as a reaction to personal tragedies or societal atrocities, but can he/she really still be called a hero by preventing events from happening and not let the world know?

But it isn’t really an inversion unless you follow through with the act of an unseen hero, ultimately compulsions prevail and there is a love track and so there must be songs and an overblown climactic fight which makes you forget the questions that the film tried to raise earlier.

Especially notable is when Madan Karky rhymes mosam with awesome and concludes love is eternal much like plastic.

But Spyder is still somewhere there and even these commercial elements are not without joy.

Who Wants To Be A Hero?

Spyder2

Earlier in the Spyder, a scene made me reflect on an underlying theme in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, that every person is capable of heroism, Bruce obviously states this in the concluding chapter but there are enough visual examples.

The way the common folk are involved in the events that happen to the city, not just as observers but as  active participants, they are not alienated in the good vs. evil battle nor are they just used as bait for the hero to rescue.

But why?

In Spyder’s best segment which lasts about 20 minutes, has nothing to do with Mahesh Babu  or the antagonist S J Suryah, but about common people (middle aged ladies in this case) finding courage to do what they would not normally do and lend a helping hand beyond possible imagination.

It worked totally for me and convinced that this involvement of the nameless with whom we can identify, add to how we receive a film.

Yes yes, S J Suryah character and how he seems to have played it tries to match Heath Ledger’s Joker in every step, but then there is more to the Dark Knight trilogy.

Only if we choose to see, hence for your consideration.

 

 

 

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!

Thuppaki: A Farewell To arms, but is it a welcome to brains?

THUPAKKI(2012)

If this genre was a temple, director Shankar built the Gopuram around which numerous multi colored flats began to appear, obstructing the view and highlighting things that should have never been highlighted. So much so that people were forced to like these high rises and forget the temple.

If you might feel that this masala thriller is a structure made of paper-mache and do not care for it much, then you might not have to bother about how it needs strengthening or how it has dampened over the years. Then like any masala film, Thupakki is not for you.

While wondering whether to strike out irritating architectural metaphors from the previous paragraphs, I realize that I am at an odd position whether it is right to expect serious storylines in a casual film an even an attempt to bring about some story should be applauded. But then a film is a film.

Thupakki succeeds in suspending thought for almost the length of serious bits (the movie can be divided into two films one which has a crazy unrelated love track with Kajal Agarwal and the action film about a military officer saving a city, not once but many times on his own)

The supposed comedic-romantic interludes made me lose interest in the film and thought heavy adrenalin needed to be pumped into me to come back into the man saving the city mode; which also made me think that latter could have been a taut film by itself; while those things had to be stripped out for commercial interests.

Hours after watching the film, the thought that people will always make films thinking that I will like something and compromise on the work, only depressed me more.

I do not belong to any of the fan boy camps and I am not exactly anxious for Vijay/Ajith’s next film; but the time spent in the theatre was good. There was action where it was needed and a lace of intelligence for the action to happen. That’s about it, I wouldn’t subscribe to the ‘greatness’ phrases tossed about in relation to this film.

I doubt if it will accumulate magic over the years and become a staple diet of a movie fan, but one can never rule out anything because entertainment has different meanings even within the same households.