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cinema cinema:tamil Parking Lot Notes

Parking Lot Notes: Vada Chennai

First Strike

Consider the carom board, a single strike shakes up an entire setup; displacing even disks that are not in the direct line of the striker.

Vetrimaaran,  believes that the impact of death has far reaching consequences even to those removed from the person. He supports these with the deaths of popular leaders; Rajiv Gandhi and MGR through the film.

<Eerily similar to how deaths of J and MK have in some way affected everyone in the state of Tamil Nadu>

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Vada Chennai begins with a gruesome murder; but we are constantly shown (and guided through Vetrimaaran’s narration) that this death would soon shake up things for all of the characters, and these characters come by the dozen.

Alliances that were forged in time look weak moments later and so begins a classic case of one gang vs the other in a fight over the city’s dominance.

Moments later, these gangs have divided amongst themselves two prison blocks and in-effect the city and there is one guy in between. This did remind me of A Fistful of Dollars; but nope the director is not just interested in the surface; let’s go deeper and show how the gangs establish their dominance and an economy within the prison; the stated revenues of which are astounding (Vada Chennai is a period film and the movie doesn’t try to be in the face about it).

I also got used to how the director keeps drawing attention back to the first murder; even if it at times it feels that he has gone pretty far away. Drawing back/moving forward is also done differently, sometimes it is just the voice-over;a visual cue here, an on-screen narration there, another time it is just a fade to white. I would really like to go over these punctuation again.

But what is always there in the background: how will THAT murder be avenged?

Second Strike

The title “Vada Chennai” too is very emblematic; represents a whole section of the city, referred here as “janam” but for most part the film is really about a select few from this population and the power they fight for; so when towards the end of the film when it moves towards the ‘us vs them’ narrative, the movie has a slight jarring effect. Maybe this has been done to elevate the story of Anbu? Only the sequels will tell.

Or to put it differently, there are far more interesting stuff for me in the film than the politics of gentrification, a subject touched upon by Kaala too earlier this year. For example, the thread of how history keeps repeating itself and how the players find themselves in different positions every time that happens.

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The kick-in-the head happens when the characters themselves realize this moment.

Wow, that’s complex and damn good writing; to be able to feel what a secondary character is feeling (At one point it is Guna, at another point it is Chandra). Vetrimaran also throws in a clairvoyant who seems to be the only person who knows how this will all end.

Superlative stuff.

Red & Follow

Yes, it does take it own time; but then this movie should. Even reading this as a basic revenge film needs convincing characters for viewers to revel in the avenging, but this isn’t just a basic revenge film.

The board is now set, the players are ready; we have a good game at hand.

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cinema:tamil reviews

WHAT THEY DO UNDER THE BLANKETS

CK AND MM AT THE MOVIES: O KADHAL KANMANI

Okay_Kanmani_film_poster

Moderate Manohar approached the end of the corridor with much hesitation, in his hands was an envelope, the fine-ness of it indicated its foreign nature. As the door creaked to an open, he could see Caustic head down on the table, the room only filled with the soft electronic buzz of an unsaved word document.

“CK, the appointment has come….” Began Mod quite loudly.

MM: CK, the appointment has come!

CK: huh…what?

MM: the appointment from Chicago Sun Times, it came in the mail just now.

CK< widens smile>: IS it? Wow when are we leaving?

MM: Not we.

CK: huh?

MM: It’s only me they want, as in…they can only accommodate me right now.

<A little background here, CK and MM quite fed up with their lives in Chennai had applied for the post of resident movie reviewers in Chicago, although CK was sceptical about working abroad, he finally realised its importance and was quite looking forward to it, now everything had just fallen flat for him>

CK took a moment, or maybe even shorter than that to recover and went ahead and patted MM on the shoulder.

CK: “Great, you are taking this up right?”

The room was again filled with MM’s hesitation and the soft electronic buzz.

Some higher power intervened in the form of the editor who barged in unannounced like he owned the place, in fact he did.

Aye Sinamika Tamil Lyrics – OK Kanmani

“CK!MM!, OKK review on my table, fifteen minutes, already every major media and everyone with a Facebook account has already written a lot about it. We shouldn’t miss out.” The editor walked out with the same pace.

MM: Let’s discuss the movie first, later perhaps…

CK: Nevermind…whenever it suits you.

MM: Should we start with the bit about how bold Mani Ratnam is, making a film on live-in relationships?

CK: No….this isn’t about that, I mean at least I feel so, it isn’t.

MM: Should I wait for you to tell what’s it about?

CK: It is about validation of love, this whole live in relationship thing is to keep it all contemporary and all that… you know like that skype call and the iPad song

MM: So contemporary that they have T.M Krishna’s latest book “A Southern Music” in the shelf somewhere in PrakashRaj’s house

CK: Understandable, considering the fact that Leela Samson plays an Alzheimer’s affected Carnatic singer, oh my god their walls are the same colour as the zari of the Kanchipuram sarees that these singers wear for concerts, so much richness. Also Thanjavur painting, it is the stuff upper middle class dreams are made of

MM: let’s come to the production design bits later, let us get back to the validation of love part, I think that this is a new concept, the exploration of live-ins

CK: No..no ..Mod, that’s what the director wants you to believe, to linger on the surface, the whole movie is about Tara and nobody else. Tara is the updated version of the Mouna Raagam Revathy.

MM: hmm..wild, willing to break rules and attracted to rash lover boy types and bored with domesticity etc…

CK: exactly, but she is also in a way the Agni Nakshatram Nirosha, not giving a damn because of a troubled past. Tara here hates marriage because her parent’s divorce affects her even now.

MM: But she falls for Aadi….they both fall for each other.

CK: Yes, but she never thinks much of him, atleast he is thankfully never full of himself, he just says “he will become rich like Gates etc”, she doesn’t think much of his game development career also when compared to her overtly passion filled love for architecture, she really doesn’t want anything serious.

MM: so when she really does realise she loves him anyway, he is about to go and he has already done something, but still she will only want him to say it. < “Marriage”>

CK: Yes enough instances to prove that this is a Tara fuelled relationship and not a flirty boy meets serious girl cute love story. First call back, first kiss even, all initiated by Tara.

MM: I see…where this is going, but what about Bhavani and Ganapathy, where do they actually fit in?

CK: they are clear examples for Tara to believe that a traditional relationship can work, she seems to be the one who is most affected by the happenings in their lives. Again a validation that she requires for secure love, in the end she isn’t clear about her career.

MM: So this is how is it going to be written? I mean this line of thought?

CK: What other is there? Isn’t this plain as daylight?

MM: No…no…what about the actors? The setting…the music and PC’s camera work, he seems to have let out this beast of a camera on this couple and the writing itself?

CK: Isn’t it what the others will also be saying? Mumbai trains and rains, mornings with pigeons flying, tastefully lighted blanket interiors and characters who alternate between sophistication and words of yore (“ummanamoonji! Kadavul”), the director’s insistence that friends of protagonists be as beautiful as them, etc, isn’t it what the others will also be writing or already written? OK we can write such stuff as well.

MM: Hmm..yes I think, I haven’t read any of them…in totality I liked the film, even from this love-validation-security angle you are coming from

CK: that’s the only angle I like the film from, and also Nitya Menen’s eyes.

MM: Surely we will throw in a bit about Nitya Menen’s eyes and what about Mani Ratnam’s comeback?

CK: What about it?

The editor walked in again, looked at the manuscript and said, “Throw in a few words about Nitya Menen’s eyes and about Mani Ratnam’s comeback, also meet-cute love story of our times etc”

MM: Yes sir, it’s there

Editor: Good, good Manohar, so this will be your final filing for my magazine…congrats on your appointment in Chicago. As for you CK, you are stuck with me for life.

CK: That, I am, sir.

CK went back to his table to file the final copy, but in the ruckus that the foreign appointment had created, he forgot to mention that the video game within the movie had a more interesting storyline than the movie itself and about The Shining reference he had caught in the film.

It was at this time MM said, “We need to talk”

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cinema cinema:tamil

CK AND MM AT THE MOVIES: YAAMIRUKKA BAYAME

                WE ARE ALL JUST PRISONERS HERE, OF OUR OWN DEVICE
                             CK AND MM AT THE MOVIES
                         YAAMIRUKKA BAYAME
 
Yaamirukka Bayame
Moderate Manohar was unusually late to the theatres, he had by now guessed that good old Caustic would have taken his seat and would be getting impatient, not because he longed company to see a film but because he knew he would have to narrate to Manohar what was lost in the minutes.
Wiping dripping sweat and cursing the Automan who asked for 20 rupees more than the meter rate, Manohar ran to the ticket counter with his mobile phone cradled in his hands.
“C3” said the gruff voice from behind the counter.
Not minding the unusually dark atmosphere, Manohar continued on his run, stamping on feet of family men, women and children to finally take the seat.
“Sorry Im late, what did I miss?” asked Manohar with some trepidation.
No reply.
Manohar by now had realised that Caustic was fuming and he wouldn’t speak to him till the movie ends, he tried to look at his colleague’s face, but in the darkness he couldn’t get a reaction. Manohar had no other choice but to watch the film as it is.
As the movie progressed however Manohar had forgot all this and was starting to enjoy the movie for what it was, laughing mostly, and his anxiety over missing the first few scenes had vanished.
 He had begun to realize that this was one of the funniest films he had seen this year.
The film ended.
As the lights came on, he decided to confront Caustic Kumar with the issue, he knew he had been late, but being ignored for the entire length of the movie was not something he would like to experience again.
“Now see here, CK…” Moderate began, only there wasn’t anyone in the next seat, the plush pushback leather was empty. There was no way for CK to have got up and left, he would have surely passed Mod.
Shocked and unable to react Mod sat still in the same chair thinking until he heard a call out.
“Hey Mod! Mod!”
It was Caustic Kumar of course, the most cheerful avatar of him waving from the front. Mod by now had been thinking if the Lowly Laureate had sacked him being a gutless git. Shit, they had hired him in the first place because he was one.
The world around him spun. Up and Down. Up and Down.
“I thought you wouldn’t come” said CK as he made his way through the empty seats, “I thought I could change the column to Caustic Kumar Proudly Presents…”
“Stop it! Why did u act so differently during the movie, you refused to acknowledge my existence just because I was late” this was Mod.
“What! You didn’t even turn up I watched the movie alone, there was nobody I knew in G4”
“C4, not G4! See Caustic, you have sat in the wrong place”
“It is clearly G4, and we need to stop this bickering now Mod, we have a review to write remember?” CK said holding out a ticket stub.
Silence followed as MM calmed down and started to think on the movie.
MM: I think it is great! Not because it is an under-seen genre in Tamil, but this horror comedy really works!
CK: Hmmm…but hold your horses Mod, it is good. Not as great as you make it out to be, the first few minutes were close to terrible, I don’t know it doesn’t even prepare us for what comes next. I was sitting there thinking this is one of ‘those’ movies again.
MM: I missed the first few minutes, seems I haven’t missed much
CK: Yes, but nicely tied to the ending as well, what is interesting for me is the blending of the genres and both horror and comedy work big time in Yaam Irukka Bayame. And this guy Karunakaran…
MM: super straight face, I’m wishing he would do more. There is also some good slapstick, which hardly works in other films, guess there is some magic to it when done correctly
CK: And the running gags…
They pause and discuss Vaaya Vaaya for a moment and in unison they said.
CK and MM: Nobody would be able to look into a mirror normally ever again; this film actually is worth a watch for these elements alone and for the laughs.
MM: aren’t you going to say anything about Oviya?
CK: What about her?
MM: Never mind, so overall we basically agree on most things that is a good thing.
CK: Positive.
MM: Let me check with the counter guy on the C4-G4 issue.
Mod walks out into the darkness of the night and is surprised to see that there isn’t any ticket counter at all.
CK: What counter guy? There was no counter, just someone who checked the mobile phones for tickets.
MM: What theatre is this anyway?
CK: I dunno, some theatre. See, don’t be flustered and tell yourself it’s only a movie!
They both walk out in search of a meter abiding auto, while lightning strikes in the background and dark clouds start to group as though it is some congregation.
 
                                                   THE END
 
 
 
 
 
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cinema cinema:tamil

LOVE AND LONGING IN ALWARPET

It is quite evident now that I am quite obsessed with the song; the repeat count alone going into a few hundreds, so I ask you not to trust me on this endeavor. I am probably up to no good.

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Songs in Tamil films occupy a curious position, having had it all along, it looks colorless without it and having too much of it only hinders the movement of story.

In a recent discussion on television, a director professed that he is ashamed to show his films abroad because that would involve explaining on why do the characters break into the song and dance, it seemed so bizarre to the audience there.

Most Indians are brought up by film songs, with a near absent independent music scene and when classical music seems too far to touch, it is this goddess of film music which reaches its hands to the fallen Indian, quenching thirst and adding music to life.

Quite unusual for a spy thriller, but quite usual for the Indian film, Vishwaroopam begins with flamboyant song and dance and it is a song that has had my attention ever since I heard Kamal announce it one afternoon on TV, obviously it is a trick.

Trick because you can argue quite well on both sides, whether there is a song because he is a kathak dancer or because there is a song he (Kamal) played the dancer; but the simplest answer is because Kamal loves to sing and dance and if cinema is culmination of all arts, might as well.

But it is to the nearest perfect lyrics that I want to draw attention; Kamal has been much ignored as a lyricist; for who would have imagined that a black-shirt- wearing- Periyar-rational-thought speaker wrote the lyrics for this fantastical devotional song.  Kamal of course chooses to call this just a love song.

Like all moving love songs, this is a song of longing and disappointment; it is the careful use of sadness which brings out the happiness in the song set to tune for dancing legs of course; it is a song that has made me sit in wonder for many nights at stretch.

Kamal manages to summon the steadfast waiting of the Alwars, complete with Nayika Bhavam (when the Alwar transforms into the wailing lady in waiting, for Krishna)

In longing, all is not what it seems;

Not even the daily sky is permanent, nor do the warm dreams give me comfort

The Alwars were lyrical madmen(and woman) so immersed in Bhakti, that which gives them their collective name; constantly failing to differentiate between here and there, real and unreal and sometimes rejecting both in favor of disappointment through which they finally hope to get some kind of temporary respite. In effect, it is the longing for the lord which provides them with smallish ecstasy.

But the fact that this sadness that longing will ever remain plunges them into more sorrow.

It is a brilliant line, something I fail to understand how Kamal’s rational mind penned down.

The song uses many such uneven dualities like the Krishna who removed the sleep from the sleepless eyes (!) or the  man who swallowed the world, French kissed me (possibly alluding also to Kamal’s notorious past image of being the original onscreen kisser).

Maybe it is unfair to make comparisons to the Alwars of yore, but he isn’t asking for comparisons; it is an imitation and maybe answers my question how a rational mind can come through with this. Miming and imitations are of course the favourite tools of actors.

Our smart readers will note that Kamal Haasan somehow manages to reside in a Madras locality curiously called Alwarpet and is a bearer of the alliterative title: Alwarpet Aandavar

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cinema cinema:tamil

Nothing to see, nothing to conquer: Vanthaan Vendran


  1. R.Kannan was once Mani Ratnam’s aide, which alone does not qualify to insert references to great movies in his film, whose names I would not be mentioning. Simply because those movies are to be revered, Vanthaan Vendran(VV) should be severed.
  2. Films can suffer from fatal faults in more than one department, many such films have been released and due to the tolerance of the audience even such films have been accepted. VV fails in almost everything.
  3. So much so that, even if the kindest of all human beings say Mother Theresa would have experienced considerable displeasure in the course of watching this film.
  4. It is also not one of those movies which are made on the narcisstic shoulders of heroes by psycho-fanatic directors, three fights/two foreign location songs/one kuthu song/one amma sentiment scene, where film ‘critics’ can make jokes such as: Story-what story?. VV is terribly boring you do not even open your mouth make jokes, even the usual ‘lovers’ crowd which are terribly enthusiastic in a bad film were silent.
  5. We cannot ask southie filmmakers to stop making films in Mumbai as it is called now, but please Mumbai=! Underworld dons congregation, and no they all do not speak Tamil.
  6. The songs are good, but only on FM.
  7. I hated the film, completely. I think it is my duty to warn others.
  8. Kannan previously remade Imitiaz Ali’s Jab We Met. I pray sincerely he does not go near Ali’s next. Even the trailer of Rockstar is better than VV.***

*** Ok so that was assuming that Rockstar is a tremendously better picture than VV, I think it will be and they cannot be compared.