It’s an irritatingly ironic thing that a series that aims to showcase the ills of piracy, might actually be helpful in bringing out the case for the pirates.
When the Sony Liv series was announced, it had enough intriguing elements that made me seek it,
First was the writer-director Arivazhagan who has, in my book, one of the best thriller filmographies in recent Tamil cinema.
Next was the comeback of the storied production house AVM, whose last theatrical release was in 2011.
Finally, the story of Tamilrockerz, a renegade pirate group who had gained popularity for releasing pirated versions of Tamil movies on the same day of release.
As usual in this never-ending cycle of “expectation-leads-to disappointment”, none of the expected elements fired to push this thriller to even the bare minimum of what could be termed as thrilling.
Instead, what we get is for the 700th time in cinema, a police officer with a dead wife, running a rather uninteresting race against time investigation.
Ok let’s write an investigative thriller.
What should our police hero be called?
It must be one single name.
How about Rudra?
Super. Rudra it is. Basic police hero name. Ajay Devgn also used recently.
What should be his motivation?
A masked gang kidnapped his wife and killed her. Basic police motivation.
Super, put that in.
So, he becomes rogue and executes fake encounters at will.
Because we need to have at least one chase and fight for our hero.
What happens as a result of this fake encounter? Do they reprimand him?
No, he is in fact given the task to round up Tamilrockerz.
Yes, this series is as cliched as the Z that comes in Tamilrockerz.
Ok theek hai, that they didn’t have enough time to write better characters, maybe they spent that time in trying to find out how piracy networks work.
But then that is too not the case, in fact the film is not about the inner workings of the piracy network, it is another careless revenge thriller.
Tamilrockerz are not faceless villains who wrecked the Tamil cinema industry, but it was all a personal score to settle with a certain producer. Someone from the producer’s past badly lip-syncs his way to become the villain of his future.
The Kollywood producer victimization meter too is turned to a 11, constantly trying to remind the audience that production of movies is both risky and noble.
Guys, feel for the producer.
Think about the families!
Think about the 300 people working on set!
Kollywood Victimization reaches peak when Arivazhagan decided to drop MS Baskar into the mix, as a failed producer who has lost it all.
In the 1970s this would have been considered cute. Cute but with tears.
It’s the magic of the movies, guys, it could lead you to madness. Don’t you get it?
Think about all the families!
But what about telling a story? What about characters? What about cutting down the bullshit?
Uh…um…think about the families!
Of course, there is no point in expecting a balanced take or even an in-depth take. Kolly simply doesn’t do depth.
Kolly also doesn’t give credit when it ‘adapts, nor is it fully accountable to the taxman, and fully exploits the emotions of fanboys but somehow wants us to feel for them producers.
Them producers who from their Audis and AC rooms want to convince us of their noble intentions.
Get Shorty , 21% on the kindle. Yet to watch the movie.
Rum punch, same.
Up in Honey’s Room, started this year, did not finish.
Of course I watched Out of Sight and 3:10 to Yuma.
I also read those ten rules he framed for writers, which included the most famous “try to leave out all the parts readers tend to skip.”
Sane advice, something I’m sure he must have followed. Although I cannot be completely sure because I have never read a Leonard novel.
But for some reason I could never read a Leonard novel, 99% of that is only because of my motivation and it’s a shame.
It’s a shame because I cannot accept that 100% is because of my lack of focus.
But I’ll get there, because writing is all about honesty. Get honesty out of the way so that we can start telling stories.
While this lack of motivation and focus posed a serious threat to my reading abilities, another elitist mentality seemed to be creating flaming problems on the other side of the spectrum.
When confronted with a media recommendation, namely a TV series or movie, I would brush it away with five fat fingers and with a smug look say, “ gotta read them books first”
It’s the reason why I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, Sacred Games, you-name-it-the-trending-tv-series-of-the-time etc and for years I have felt some small pride in saying this.
Honestly, if I ever in my life say to you, “gotta read them books first”- I give you full permission to say, “stop lying you lying **** piece of ****”
Well, that’s true, I never got around to reading them, I never got around to seeing the TV series flavour of the day, It didn’t help my culture seeking mind and I was all the poorer for it.
But from sometime last year, Leonard was in my collective consciousness, and he also added to my collective shame. Ah yes, the same shame that prevented from accepting my lack of reading skills.
And that made me pick up, Up in Honey’s Room, and as you know, drop it, even when I found it engaging.
To think of it, there needs to be no shame in not having read any author, but personally it’s best to read the masters before I call myself a fan of the crime fiction genre on my “about me” page.
That’s the cause of the shame.
And again today, the conscience was active like a schoolboy on the first day after holidays. First it was a ‘trailer from hell’ of 52-Pickup (another Leonard novel, I have never read)
Audience to me: Lying ****, you’ve already said you have not read any Leonard novel, why do you keep doing this?
Okay, so it was the trailer to 52-Pickup, which interestingly enough, the screenplay was written by Leonard, complex from what the trailer narration suggested.
The trailer narrator also suggested this TV series called “Justified”.
That rang a bell somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, it was not very clear because the deep recesses of my brain were shrouded by shame.
It took me back to the old days when torrenting was an exploration sport and we were all adventurers.
Someone said, “hey boy, why don’t you check out Justified, it’s the perfect mix for you, crime+western and good dialogue, based on the books of Elmore Leonard”
Me, with five fingers moving to the side, “gotta read them books first” and finish with a winning smug smile.
Someone said “ugh” and walked away.
10 years later.
Someone is now a dean on crime writing and appearing on podcast special episodes discussing the chemistry between Clooney and Lopez in Out of Sight.
While me, sitting at home saying, “gotta read them books”
Damn that felt cathartic.
Cut to now, while I finished watching the trailer and immediately checked out Sony Liv (which is where the real gold is while I sell my organs to subscribe to Netflix) and lo and behold, it’s there.
Sitting right there, all six seasons. All six seasons of the series that New York Post called “a true male fantasy show complete with broads, bad guys, blow-ups, bullets and buckets of blood.”
The one that the retro trailer voice over guy called the greatest thing to have happened to TV recently and this series came out in 2010.
I could watch it or I could come back after ‘gotta read them books’. My brain tik-toked away, but I finally gave in to ‘broads, bad guys, blow-ups, bullets and buckets of blood.’
More B words in a sentence have not been found in the universe.
Hence this series, ‘Just Watching Justified’ or the story of me giving up my useless reasons for not watching stuff and actually watching them and…writing about them.
So to make up for lost time and to beat this ‘Someone’ in life, I thought I’ll go one step ahead and start writing about them.
Every one of the 78 episodes.So dive right in.
These are not reviews, but these are recollections of the experiences that I undergo while seeing the series , so it won’t be could-have would-have film writing nor will it be a series of words that start with B and appreciate the show.
It’s just a cool, casual collection of contemplations.
Episode 1: Fire in the hole.
We open with the close follow of the capped crusader (Timothy Olyphant in a ‘Timothy Olyphant is Raylan’ kind of role), our hero, Raylan Givens, it’s a rooftop pool restaurant, sunny and fun, the kind that does not exist in Chennai. Naturally I was interested. But this was Miami.
Raylan goes to a waiting man at a corner table.
“I give you two minutes” he says like Bhavani in Master and so it begins.
These nervy two minutes are the perfect setup for the show and for the character, he is within the law, but willing to go beyond it and has the brains to make these things look lawful. But Raylan surely knows how to shoot in sequence.
‘He pulled first. I shot him.’
The words that would put US Marshal Raylan from the streets of Miami back to Harlan County, his hometown.
Yes, another sheriff coming back to town story.
Obviously, there is no look of happiness on Raylan’s face, he wanted to get away from this place all his life and within minutes of his arrival, he is handed a fat file of one Mr. Boyd (an amazing Walton Goggins) who is the local heel in western parlance but is actually an arsonist, gun crazed drug dealer, bank robbing tax evader and whose views on the Bible will get your eyes rolling.
Oh also he leads the local Nazi tattooed white supremacist group and they go around town blowing churches.
Oh also he is Raylan’s childhood buddy.
Talk about set-up. Maybe that’s why they love you Leonard, maybe that’s why, I am definitely reading you more.
(Stay tuned for a book exploration series called the Learning to write with Leonard, coming soon, hopefully)
Someone: Liar, don’t give unwanted hope you lying ****
Me: okay, okay
But Boyd has hots for his recently widowed sister-in-law,Ava, who has had a crush on Raylan since the time they were in school.
Talk about set-up.
There are lots of other characters, namely the passive aggressive local chief, Raylan’s ex-wife and an absentee father who remains an absentee but gets multiple mentions.
Coming back to learning to identify good writing, two men sitting at a table with guns is the running theme but it’s different yet overlapping.
Not spoiling anything, but Raylan is a bit quicker and there are 77 more to go!
Remember to tune back in, because we are just watching justified.