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cinema:tamil

Kamalum Hashtagum

A sudden rush of excitement and then normalcy returned.

Today takes me back to some evening in 2006, when a two part poster joined together in the center with a cool cop like Kamal Haasan asking the onlooker (including me) “Chinnapasangala Yaar Kitta?” was stuck outside our wall. 

It was a line from his recently released film “Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu”, it was also probably a poke at then other younger stars he was (is?) competing with. 

My mind rushed back to that very moment on seeing the hashtag on the latest announcement from Alwarpet; it said #KamalHaasan232. 

Loool I said to myself. 

The simple audacity of it, when even now Ajith and Vijay fans are creating a mindless riot over twitter expecting updates for their stars’ 60th something films. It is doubtful with their current productivity that they would reach two hundred films in total. Here was KH at 232.

Loooool I said again, he is still saying “Chinnapasangala Yaar Kitta?” 

A sudden rush of excitement, I shared the poster online and then normalcy returned. 

Meanwhile…

Media has successfully juvenilized Kamal too or current environment necessitates such hashtags. 

It was happening for sometime now, the definition of being a Kamal fan had changed this decade too, possibly it will change in the next. 

Being a Kamal fan meant that you would have to swallow the saliva in gulps when he released Guna with Thalapathy, being a Kamal fan meant honing individual tastes, being a Kamal fan meant that by default it was going against the crowd, being a Kamal fan meant you never know what you are going to get. 

It was not that KH did not command following or fandom, but the successive movies that he made where he did not fit himself in the hero template when faced with the onslaught of peak Rajnimania in the 90s.

This meant that the fans still retained in their head-individually and not as a group, why they loved him and for different people KH meant differently.

I’ll explain, for some when they say they like Kamal

  1. it was his film making (gumbal identifier for this is – Kamal is best screenplay writer/director, but Sivaji is best actor)
  2. It was his acting (gumbal identifier is – Kamal should stick to acting and let others to the directing) 
  3. It was his off screen views (gumbal identifier- KH has constantly inserted his politics as kuriyeedu in his films- xyz kuriyeedu) 
  4. It was his serious films (gumbal identifier- KH is the only true independent Tamil filmmaker we have)
  5. It was his comedy films (gumbal identifier- Why did he not do more films with Crazy Mohan?)
  6. It was his social service (gumbal identifier- do you know how many litres of blood Narpani has donated?”)

<Psst gumbal means group, I know I can use group, but using gumbal is more fun.>

These are just the six gumbals I wrote off the top of my head based on impressions on Kamal and that too only from the 90s.

80s gumbals will have their own qualifiers, because this man has been around for so long that not only different generations have hot takes on him, but within these generations there would be sub groups with hotter takes and more often these sub groups don’t see eye to eye.

There is also a growing generation of kids who might probably know him as BiggBoss tamil host. 

Which can mean only one thing. No single fandom. 

There is no combined KH fandom as it is for other template stars like MGR, Rajni, Vijay, Ajith and so on. Even if their stars go out of their grain and do a one-off film, their fans know that Rajni and Vijay have AR Murugadoss on speed dial to make the next total enmasse entertainer. 

To be a fan of the others, is to completely buy into the persona of the star, to see oneself in them. 

That never happens in a Kamal film, it is very difficult for a group to identify with the character that Kamal is playing on screen, also always it is a different Kamal and it is through the story or his acting or the other skills that he has that takes away our attention. 

So no singular fandom, but KH might be the biggest niche star in Indian film history. 

Allow me that one generalization now. 

Since Kamal was unique and he tried to make his unique movies, his fans too got unique bits of his persona which they clung on to, depending on how much they liked him over the years. 

Which brought me back to the hashtag. 

Lokesh Kanakaraj is a self confessed Kamal fan, he even speaks about Kamalism. 

Which takes me back to the launch of Kamal’s political party MNM, on the stage of which he said “isms dont work” 

Would Kamalism be another ism? Would it work? 

If so which gumbal would be able to fully appreciate the said Kamalism, is it his creative choices, is it his filmmaking, is it his insistence on doing quality stunt sequences (an underrated Kamal element even by gumbal), is it his offscreen comments or the newly adorned political character coat? 

I don’t know what Kamalism stands for at any point of time, guess it keeps changing like KH himself. 

Which was when the normalcy returned. 

Lokesh Kanakaraj has directed three films, two of them have seen the insides of a theatre, one is hoping it will pull us into one, post the pandemic.

Honestly, I liked both Maanagaram and Kaithi (hmm), but only till the movie run time and I have never since wanted to see it again and sometimes even worry about the fuss when I see the general acclaim. They are perfectly serviceable vehicles of entertainment, but neither moving to the mad cap extreme to develop a cult following nor pushing tamil cinema to the other side of art. 

Neutral films with an interesting premise. (Hmm)

When normalcy returned, I thought about the times when fans got to make their films with their idols, more recently Karthik Subbaraj with Petta, Atlee with his Vijay film trilogy and Prithviraj with Lucifer. 

Forget Lucifer, it is a great film, very rewatchable and Mohanlal can insert himself into any persona. I have seen Lucifer thrice in the lockdown alone, so forget Lucifer when I group it Petta etc. 

Sorry but my choice does help me illustrate the  contrast with the others viz. : if I don’t buy into the fanboy nature of the movie I won’t be able to appreciate it fully. 

Allow me one more speculation. 

Is Kamalism going to be like the 2021 version of “Rajnified” or will it be another Lucifer?

But why make another Lucifer? (hmm, lot of guns in the poster with a ghost like hero) 

This was when my normalcy dipped into sadness. 

Ok then I came back to a steady state and said to myself,”let’s wait for the movie, hobbitses”. 

And then I jotted all this down. 

The End.

PS

But I do know one gumbal who will be very pleased with today’s announcement: which is the “Kamal must submit himself to a young visionary filmmaker” gumbal. (single quotes over visionary)

Lool, I thought to myself, Kamal will never submit, go see the climax of Drishyam. 

Categories
cinema:tamil FRS

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