Tag: Sivaji Ganesan

Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal

As The Swivel Chair Spins #5

Let me be honest, I underestimated what Kannum Kannum Kolaiyadhitaal was going to be. The first five minutes is just Dulquer Salman driving a car which says DQ on its license plate, there is also mention of his Kerala female fandom (yaawn), there was the genuinely irritating Vijay TV sidekick quota, it confirmed my fears that this was a generation film i.e not for me. 

I sat through nevertheless and things got interesting. 

After a song (or two, sorry didn’t notice) and usual love interlude, we really come to know what our heroes are up to: they are small cons who utilize the gaps in the ecommerce system to profit and they are of course not bound by any morals. But with them is that small niggling thought at the back  that they would be caught. 

If they have shown a thief, they will show police also- enter Gautham Menon as DCP Pratap Chakravarti (DCP PC?), how he will catch these small time crooks is the rest of the story. 

Or so I thought. 

Kannum Kannum Kollayadithal is that kind of movie that stacks up a bunch of carpets and pulls it one by one from under my feet. 

But thankfully I was seated.  

KKK is a very competent investigation thriller, the policemen use logic to get from one clue to another, it is also a competent heist film- be it in the objective, team assembly, planning and showing things when they don’t go according to plan. 

Lessons from the screenplay has a great video comparing two mission impossible films and how they execute their best heists, I would say KKK too has some elements of them in it and kudos for getting elemental genres right, it’s rare in a tamil film. 

But KKK is one of those rare things which try to show that they are about something, but is about something else and succeed in both- I am not getting into the morals portrayed but in a way a concept is presented. 

If you have not seen Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal then you should stop reading after this sentence. <SPOILERS> 

<SPOILERS, there is no other way to explain without going into spoilers sorry>

The concept of no one is a yogiyan (sorry couldn’t find an immediate english equivalent) is worked into the story and comes full circle, everybody is in some way a criminal and in some way there is no big or small crime- the magnitude of that doesn’t matter. 

But where the move falters is when it tries to become a hero and co winning just because they are hero and heroine types, but why, anyone could have won. It also falls into the Petta trap of suddenly making solid characters look weak so that the hero can win. 

I can disagree with the concept and still like the film. So in a film full of bad guys, does the hero heroine looking types win just because they are hero heroine types? 

Maybe DCP Pratap might ultimately catch up with them in the end? Maybe their money will dry out in Thailand and they will fully realize the folly in their lives? Maybe some natural tragedy will befall them. 

I closed the TV thinking, yeah they are happy for now, but not for long.Just like that final shot in the Graduate. Things happen to people. That’s just my coded narrative watching habits. 

In Moondru Deivangal, one of the finest Tamil movies ever made; Sivaji-Muthuraman-Nagesh play thieves who are out of jail and trying to con a very simple retailer, the goodness of their family ultimately changes the trio- but still they use their history tricks to protect this simpleton and ultimately go back to prison. 

Bad guys winning is fine, but for me it is more rewarding when they end up turning into good people, it’s a movie, it gives closure, it gives purpose for them to have been crooked in the first place. 

But closure as they say

But Dada Mirasi did it first

It is unfair to compare two movies, even if they are similar, there are other movies in which the relatively good-bad guys win like for example the Ocean’s trilogy which is a lot more than heist films, but it clearly establishes the meanest of the mean, the annoyerest among the annoyers.

Meanwhile in KKK, even GVM is smart, the drug dealer is smart and powerful but the guys getting away with it are just because they are like hero and heroine of this generation. That didn’t sit well. No it didn’t and pulling Oceans and Moondru Deivangal into this was a bad idea. 

Should have never done that. All I wanted to say is that you have introduced a concept very well- whatever be the morals, very convincingly but not going the full distance. Pch.

Still a very engaging watch.

Calling The Cops

Or what I found when I kept Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu and Thanga Pathakam side-by-side

Even the meanest of Gautam Menon critics (some of whom, write for this website-gulps) will agree that the “kanna nondi eduthaanga da” opening sequence is among his best. 

It also presents a good template for us to study hero introductions.

Hmm, then I found something, from a 1974 film. 

The Open Challenge

“Bring me the eye of DCP Raghavan!” 

Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu (VV) begins with Royapuram Mani, who would never appear again in the course of the movie – putting out an open challenge after being pushed to a corner by the police specifically Raghavan. 

He wants to run his ‘business’, but of course he cannot do it with Raghavan giving him the heat around the corner. Mani needs Raghavan dead- no, he wants more, he wants his eyes. 

Good setup, so now we know who our hero is and what his goals are without even showing him- and close. 

“Bring me the head of SP Chowdary!”

25 minutes into 1974’s Thanga Pathakkam (TP- to pronounce it properly go here); director P Madhavan is faced with a challenge- how do I reintroduce the hero? 

As I said 25 mins of the film has already run its course, the usual familial introductions have been made- including the wayward son, the doting wife and the family friend around whom the movie would revolve. 

Probably P Madhavan feels the present state does not give enough ‘weight’ to Sivaji’s character- so I hope he would have asked the writer Mahendran ( who would later make Mullum Malarum, yes that Mahendran) to come up with another introduction. 

Here too there is a character who never appears again in the form of legendary villain actor RS Manohar-but the difference is he wants SP Chowdary’s head. 

The Point Of Entry

Both Madhavan and Menon keep it simple here, just them heroes occupying the frame shot from below- memorable in each case. A point of detail is that Kamal kicks the gate open (which would again allow a nice cycle back to ‘gate a moodra’ later)

Let Them Talk  

The impact is in the action, but the build-up is always in the words. Both our heroes are unarmed when introduced, while Chowdary mentions it, Raghavan hands over the only knife he brought to Royapuram Mani. 

Normally one would expect Sivaji to win this hands down, he is after all the most gifted when it comes to dialogues, but sadly I believe as this could be a hastily written scene- it is more “Aeis and Deis”, which belong more in the cinema of today. But maybe SP Chowdary is more brute force than brain force. 

There is a half hearted attempt at humor and then Manohar gives in immediately but the good thing is, Sivaji gets to slip in a “tholachuruven badava” before the final fight.  

Raghavan on the other hand is shooting bullets like line starting from the just-like-that “en kannu venumnu kettiyam?” then easily evoking one accent from his many to give us “ romba thondru panraan” and pausing to make a lol worthy comment on Royapuram Mani’s arithmetic skills. 

My personal favorite is of course to the other assembled goons, “neengellam vera vela paathukonga pa”

Kamal is in quipping best, the dialogues and the camera always on him, half the screen is Raghavan’s face only- really makes the movie worth watching, although his quipping reduces considerably. 

And Action!

The stuff we have been waiting for, one man against an entire set- in Thanga Pathakkam it becomes a silambam fight while Vetaiyaadu keeps it hand to hand in a contained location before going for an opening song and sets the ball rolling.

Same introduction template. But two completely different movies.

Side by Side

Often we see how new filmmakers take time and pay homage to an earlier film or filmmaker, entire podcast episodes are dedicated to this, but I wouldn’t know if Menon is paying homage to Madhavan. A director cannot cross a tamil cinema police movie list without Thanga Pathakkam- it may have come to his notice or suggested by an assistant with an encyclopedic mind- and there is the question of Kamal being in the movie itself. 

But it is practically the same narrative structure for introducing a cop hero-maybe both Mahendran and Menon borrowed from a common source.

It doesn’t really matter, what matters is that these things strike out or should I say leap out from the screen and what I have left is this confidence of a slight bond. It is a difficult feeling to describe, something like discovering an entire new branch in a family tree. 

Watching movies and seeing other movies in them is by itself a rewarding feeling-makes me feel like a small shareholder in the big scheme of things. 

Parking Lot Notes: N.T.R: Kathanayakudu

An enduring aspect of Indian mass movies owes a lot to NTR, the aspect where everyone sees their hero as a divine being.

Sample this: Asia Week’s posthumous story on MGR was titled pretty much the same, a song from Kuselan harps about how cinema was the first to ‘show’ God on screen, it persists even today in the eyes of the people of Mahismati when they see Mahendra Baahubali. (also see Maya Bazar climax)

While the others in the list crafted an image playing heroic characters, NTR played the Gods themselves.

NTR is still my favorite on-screen Krishna (sorry Nitish Bharadwaj), I can exactly pinpoint when the movie Karnan (sorry Sivaji fans)  turns into the fun epic that it is, the moment NTR literally walks into the screen as Krishna (a similar scene is recreated in this movie) and of course Maya Bazar; arguably the greatest Indian film ever made (sorry Sholay fans and also looool sholay).

Sadly, NTR’s movies are not the focus points in this biopic.

The movies are just occurrences which pinpoint how great NTR the person was. Most of the dialogue is either a prophecy (which we now recognize as true) or a set-up for the sequel Mahanayakudu, which promises to trace the political life of the screen icon.

Knowing myself, I have already lost interest in the sequel. I am more interested in the man who played God and want to know more about the mythological movies, like how Daana Veera Soora Karna was shot in 43 days.

Balakrishna eases into the life of his father and the performance betters with surprising restraint  as the character ages. In-a-only-in-the-cinema-of-India-kind there is a meta moment when baby Balakrishna is born to the real Balakrishna who is playing his father and ends up naming himself!

Vidya Balan makes her Telugu debut, in a nothing much to write about already over played pillar of a support wife that most bio pics have.

While Balakrishna gets to play his father, Sumanth gets to play his grandfather Akkineni Nageswara Rao (ANR); in some portions it does feel like it is a story of these two actors lighting cigarettes, exchanging notes, reworking their careers, and collecting relief together. These are the portions that have stayed with me.


Now that you are here, why not see NTR and ANR in Lahiri Lahiri and wonder along with me, why no one is making a movie about how Maya Bazar was made!

Extra Notes

NTR and ANR featured themselves in a late career film called Chanakya Chandragupta, in which one actor called Sivaji Ganesan played Alexander the Great! I mean, yes!

Jai Mahismathi! I mean….Jai Pathalabhairavi!