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cinema cinema:tamil Movie Notes

Vishwaroopam II: Tinkered Tailored Older Spy

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Let’s start with the ending
The thing that struck me about the first Vishwaroopam, a film for which I crossed state borders covertly to watch(much like an espionage operation) was the abruptness in the ending.


It ends with Wisam telling that there is more to the story and what we witnessed is not really ‘the end’, but it did not have the niggling hook that would keep me guessing on what the next part would explore and moreover it did not really help that Kamal himself is delivering this as exposition and not a visually striking image of say a (too use the often used) Kattappa killing Baahubali.


Even looking at the first part in a facile manner which is a spy navigating between complexities and saving the world; the film did provide enough closure.
{Bad guys plans a series of attacks on a city and a team of spies unearth and thwart the operation.}
But Vishwaroopam is not a superficial spy thriller, at least it aims to do more.

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At the core of it all is Wisam Ahmed Kashmiri, a spy who believes in his cause someone who does not treat his license to kill as target practice and is empathetic to those he might have to kill.


Case in point is the friendship between Omar Khureshi, Salim and Wisam which takes up much of the middle of the first movie and these threads need to be addressed.
(not necessary a universal requirement, but more like universal hero’s requirement)


That brings us to Vishwaroopam II, which works more as a companion piece to the first film and not as a sequel; filling in for things that better explain the Indian spy’s motivations.


While the movie does go deeper into things that were throwaways in the first film, especially effective is Wisam’s relationship with his mother.(Waheeda Rehman in a brief role, last seen in Tamil cinema in the 1956 film Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum). Wiz temporarily returns to being Vishwanath in a teary moment dominated by Alzheimer’s (second medical ailment in the franchise after killer cancer in the Roopam I), when the movie is just about casting away the role of the dancer.


Needless to say, Kamal is on top form or is it like displaying all these nuances in half-awake mode now? The other story machinations like how Wisam became Viz are less successful, a London mission before the intermission seems like a very long stop-over before Wisam and team reach the national capital.


I love the spy films in all forms, they lend themselves to the multi dimensional entertainment, the genre comfortably accommodates modern action films like the Bourne movies, cinephile-treasures like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the wink-winks like The Kingsman, send-ups like Paul Feig’s Spy and Oscar favourites like Argo and these are only from recent memory. All of them add to and derive from the construct of the spy thriller.


Vishwaroopam II draws from all the aforementioned sub-genres and naturally the result is not a satisfying mix; for a moment it a mission-driven-race-against-the-ticking -bomb-action-film, a few scenes later it is a musing on the futility of war and even further down the run-time it is an examination of loyalty and nationalism.


There’s isn’t time for all this, boss. Omar waits with one more bomb around the corner. (A bomb around the corner would have a been a better title to this piece, #justsaying)


There simply isn’t time and it shows, the action seems too rushed and the globe-hopping locations which usually adds to the excitement and romance to these spy films here are just tailored to suit exposition dumps.


The lack of resources too very evident, with the actors limited to performing in moving cars or in an uncharacteristic hotel suite and the number of times toilets conveniently appear in this film only made me think about how constrained the production would have been ; a stark opposite to the expanse of Afghanistan which was reiterated multiple times in the first film.


As though to make up for all the above, there are genuine fun sequences in the film and director Kamal draws me in with a cracker of a title sequence which is a crash course of things past in freeze time played to new version of Nyagabagam Varugiradha.

The story is also in the telling, the nonlinearity is intact and Wisam still gets to sweat about his past. Packed with multiple “woohoo!” moments and timely call-backs to the first film (Namaz panna poriya!). In Kamal’s world even a blood splatter can dissolve into a map.

5

But Omar bhai takes precedence over everything and Rahul Bose is absolutely fantastic as the villain who thinks he is the hero and wait a minute, he isn’t even in the movie till the third act.


I loved how the movie returned to the outrageous-ness of Roopam I, when he came back on screen giving Wisam something really challenging to work with, because until then Wisam was just putting bureaucrats in place with his wit.


Yes yes, I also know that the movie tries to deal with larger issues like how education is important, how war creates more problems than it can solve etc, how nationalism cannot be ‘instilled’ etc but OK this is not the blog site for all that boring stuff.

But this is the kind-off blog which will stand-up and applaud at the inane moment of the villain’s glass eye popping out and rolling on the streets of Delhi. Movies like these are hard to come by and need to be savoured probably with steaming jilebis.

Good luck Wisam! Hat-tip to Munnavar!

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cinema cinema:tamil FRS

FRS: AAA

AAA1 copy

 

So, you guys are quite familiar with what FRS is right? Right?

We have no idea why we keep asking this, but it cuts the cackle and come to the osses’.

Yes, that is a phrase.

It is a phrase like how AAA is a movie.

+500: This movie got made, absolutely. Like if you are screenwriter, which means you are also the director here and if you walk up to a financier and say that this is going to be my movie, we don’t know; maybe there a lot of risk hungry financiers out there or let’s just call this Avant-garde art film( we have no idea what it means, but if you are in a written quiz this phrase will fetch you part points somewhere), because none of us are equipped to even classify what AAA is.

What is AAA? Let’s find out seekers of the truth, let’s find out.

-5: above phrase has repetition, to add effect.

-389.108: narration irritations, like seventy years of movie making and people can’t kick this habit and in AAA we don’t even know who is narrating, some old fellow somewhere in dubai etc, the whole film is narrated in his POV but then again scenes are not written from his POV which means that we are shown things that he has no way of knowing, this is simple boss, why should we keep saying these things. Who is this narrator guy anyway? Troubling.

Just start with something like you guys know what FRS is right? Right? People who know will follow, others will find out, if they want.

-10: Dubai

-25: If hero goes to Dubai he will become a Don only (not oxford don, underworld don)

This is of course an extension of the rule, if hero goes to X location, he will become an underworld don only. No other occupation is worthy of the Tamil movie hero, he is either simpleton farmer, urban agitator or underworld don.

He protects the masses in all cases. Of course, gets the girl also.

Introducing let’s blame it on Godfather clause, ever since Coppola’s movie came out, every other filmmaker thinks it is the best profession for mass hero which results in over romanticising of illegal activities. Like have u guys seen Goodfellas or not?

-15: Madurai

If hero is from Madurai he will not be veterinary doctor, he will be ‘veritanama killer’ only, also obviously, he will work for a don there, like not even freelancing.

-30: Movie made with the assumption that even killing a life is justifiable, as long it is done by a hero.

+50: Hero syndrome: In AAA hero’s friends believe that Madurai Michael is special, but example of his speciality is ever displayed, yes he kills people for living, but then friends be like “Wow da dei super da, semma da”.

In real life, real friends assess you and bluntly put out your lack of talent in stuff out in the open.

Like how our friends tell us all the time that we suck at writing, but we continue to, maybe we should get some cinematic friends who praise even the shite that we write.

Nevertheless, this is becoming too emotional for us.

-10: Hero’s friends have no reason to be alive expect to sing praise of the hero.

Update to the reader: 500 words and we haven’t even come to the opening song sequence yet

We try and improve our vocabulary once in a while, like hey, we are writers you know and the new word we are using here is: demure.

-12: Demure lady falls in love with demolishing hero trope. Also, if you are contract killer in Madurai, you have enough time to do romance and all. Must be good profession.  But no work from home option available since it is an on the road job. Hmm.

+50: Opening song, hero claims that he is no one without us. (not the Laureate, us here refers to the audience at the large). Which is true because we buy tickets.

-17: Why will a town celebrate a contract killer, who like weekly kills one of their own is a big question that needs answering. Unless of course Madurai Michael and STR are used interchangeably.

-25: Heroine’s father portrayed like a stupid man who has a ‘thing’ for switches, the sad state of heroine’s father is a sorrow song in the history of tamil cinema.

Notice how Y Gee Mahendran has Bhiarava wig.

Everybody has a wig in Madurai, hair raising city.

-10: Mouth to mouth resuscitation which can bring back a life in emergencies is used for comedy effect

-10: Something something happens and we end up with an old STR who is an ex-underworld don but now in Chennai feeding pigeons under the alias Ashwin Thata.

Yes, really.

<Insert Interval Block here>

 

-12: Thata means not really thata, Simbu looks more like middle aged only, but I guess at this point in the movie they don’t really care.

-51: failed prosthetics is failed only. Gurunathar Michael Westmore will not be happy.

+34: Ashwin Thata wears good clothes that even IT employees don’t get to wear on fun Fridays.

If you don’t know fun Fridays, then you are better off not knowing.

+5: Tammanna aka Tammy plays a social worker who life mission is to bring happiness to the lives of elders.

+6: Since Tammy is doing this social service, we hope this will be followed by millions of youth

+11: Heavy duty Tammy dancing, not Devi level though

-57: All songs whenever, wherever, most mimic STRs previous films, tune setting everything

+5: veteran Nilu calling up STR and addressing him as Machi. LOL

Suddenly Tammy & thata become expert painters of portraits, when and where did they learn this art, do underworld dons go to summer camps with kids to learn water colors?

Interesting questions, no answers

A repenting ageing don, seeking to colour the rest of his life by joining a summer painting class. Now that’s a movie there. Go make it,  ideas are not only bulletproof, here we give it for free.

-91: Director thinks mere presence of Mottai Rajendran and Kovai Sarala will make us laugh like anything, like they need to do something hai na?

+100: Director gives three to four movies for the price of one, in fact AAA is an assemblage of all STR films put together, there is a monologue like VTV about love, there is the age difference love matter from Vallavan, there is the I will do anything for my friends thingy also from Vallavan, there is the “Dei all girls will ematify boys” from Manmadan, heck there is even a recreation of Thallipogadey from AYM with Mottai Rajendran and Kovai Sarala.

The last bit is a must watch for sophisticated GVM fans.

Yes, all of this is there in this one movie, in fact all of this happens in the second half which means that this movie has taken controlled randomness to a different level.

You know something is going to happen, but you don’t know what, but you can guess it is from an earlier STR film.

AAA itself is an existential film where STR lays out all his glories and worries right before the audience and asks them to choose what path he must take, it is really deep that way.

-56: Three four fights happen, but we didn’t really get what was happening

-26: Two hours into movie and director cannot decide if the movie is romance, gangster or comedy

-71: Tammy thinks (or director wants tammy character to think) Rajni+Kamal=STR (actual line, not extrapolated by FRS fact checking team)

-34: Hero spends two minutes explaining to everyone the ill effects of drinking.

Starts drinking next second

+68.91: Thikku Siva LOL Spoilers LOL

-145: General discourse on how boys and how girls are….yeppa yawn

<Insert cue for part two>

<Yes there is more>

Until then it is goodbye from

THE FRS Team

Subam

Vanakkam

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil FRS

FRS: Singam 3

So you all know what an FRS is right? right? OK

s3_3

-5 : For every fellow who said Singam 3 is very loud, boss he is shouting in the poster for Godsake, also you do some 300 poster/teaser breakdown videos, like you didn’t expect it or what?

Singam is supposed to be loud, that is the point, what did u expect Silence?

Adhu Scorsese film.

#HariDa

<Adra! Adra! Adra! Adra!> read it in caps

+151.3: Hari, perhaps the only big budget director currently operating with a stamp of his own, commercial filmmakers mostly focus on the returns, but Hari is perhaps the only one who focuses on increasing excitement film after film, testimony to this is the title credits of a lion literally jumping over roman numerals I and II, only to leap over a gigantic III and roaring at those assembled.

I mean what’s not to like.

+1.5 Tonne: Suriya, yow what a performance; we were reading somewhere that for an audience to feel what actor is doing on screen, the actor must really feel what is really happening around him, Suriya takes method acting and combines it with monstrous rage.

As DCP Duraisingam Singam, Suriya becomes his own animal (see even we write such loaded phrases) , throughout the movie the camera and Suriya try and compete with Hari’s screenplay.  Faaaaar better than when he is restricting himself in other films(hi to Pasanga 2 and such), maybe a component of Singam-rage is against his other directors?

Only time will tell.

So fast is that what is happening on screen that if you allow it in the Olympics, it would win a medal or something (we write such phrases as well )

Also watch out for the 1.5 tonne reference

-712: Shruti Haasan,

or in other words, because we killed Hansika in the previous film (same character, different occupation)

+45: Home Minister Vijaykumar: for being the longest serving Home Minister and having more powers than American President so that he can send Duraisingam to any corner of the universe and take over cases, i think Singam 4 will be about how some Russians steal cement from Thoothukudi for the international space station and only Duraisingam can bring it back.

+007: Yes, Duraisingam is our James Bond, like really he is, well he doesn’t sleep around and has family and all and drinks only green tea, but really he is. Bond too is driven by rage and patriotism (which again came into much question, when the character turned gray), but even he wont be able to match Duraisingam in commitment

Open thread:  Also what is with this liking towards gray characters? why a film with gray protagonist always treated with some deference, here in Singam good cop vs bad guys, why should the film be anything else?

-95.7: Soori, not even telling how bad this comedy track is

+6: Even in item song, Duraisingam will be watching for clues, rest of audience is watching Neetu Chandra

-6: Item song

+120: 2nd Biggest mystery in Indian Cinema answered in SIngam 3, no not telling what it is

+61: For a villain who has memorized latitude and longitude of every place, I have not seen anything like this before and another villain whose cheeks vibrate like a suppressed mobile phone (yes)

+10: When Government has any doubts in Indian Penal Code, they can ask Duraisingam, a hero who knows his law and a villain who loves geography, this is really the most academic movie I have seen since Pallikoodam.

-42: In Singam 2, Duraisingam climbed up and down a full mountain in 2 minutes, nothing in Singam 3 has been able to match that, but almost running down a plane using a police jeep is almost there

s3_4

-214: Drones: there are only three types of shots in the film and shot-breakdown is as follows

Singam rage shot: focuses on him mouth dialogues, total rage in closeup (11%)

360 Singam shot: camera going all over the world to cover action sequences without skipping a beat (4%)

Drone Shot(85%): Every other shot in this movie is a drone shot, sometimes in the second half we began to think whether we are sitting in movie theatre or watching the world from a chartered flight. DEI!

Movie could have been called Singam III: Attack of the Drones

-20: Ethical Hacking monologue, also first Tamil movie to feature ethical hacker Ankit Fadia look-alike

-4: Ankit Fadia

-52: All songs whenever, wherever, I mean Harris Jayraj would have taken a holiday to some Bodhidharmar cave for peace and self reflection because, this movie is totally NOT for him, even Adra! Adra! Adra! doesnt make it.

#MissingYouDSP, but yeah Duraisingam shouting would have drowned the BGM anyways.

+77: Something , something , something happens, before you reach halfway point in popcorn box, movie is actually over.

No really it is like that.

Hari never disappoints, he gives you 1200 for your 120 rs!

It is not like you are going to remember the scenes.

+44: Singam films offer a kind of high that most films can only aspire about, coming out of the theatre, people were seen walking in upright swagger and showing symptoms of wanting to hit someone right in the middle of the head.

Yes even some FRS writers reported this feeling.

This however can be calmed by listening to some eight hours of Gangubhai hangal type music, only then.

Just beware if you are a person of dubious character, Duraisingam might just be a phone call away. We loved it, we really did.

All numbers incidental and arbitrary.

Subam

THE FRS TEAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

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cinema cinema:tamil FRS Uncategorized

FRS: Bogan

 

Hi

 

Right, we all know what an FRS is right? right?

 

bogan1

+50: Hero is Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) which is the go-to designation for heroes playing cops, TN Police in an unofficial statement said that the morale of ACP aspirants had gone up by 50% since Tamil cinema discovered the post. Jeyam Ravi is the 300th person to don the role. He himself had played the designation a record 12 times.

-12: Hero is honest means it is assured that hero’s family is also honest to the core, sometimes we are confused if this is family or Sabarmati Ashram.

-17: Hero’s house looks like proper Madras type building, inside however the decor looks like some castle in Budapest (are there castles in Budapest? i dunno, Europe is out of portions for me); maybe art director landed up at the different film set.

I wonder.

-81: Supporting characters as non entities, basically I believe characters are written only for top billed actors (if writing is actually thought of value in a film), it is like Aadukalam Naren means father only, and since we have seen him play the same role so many times, same case with Saranya Ponnvanan. Like while writing they just give names I guess.

-10.78: Hansika’s name is Mahalakshmi Azhagamperumal, is like rooted to society in naming if characters, but casting? Oh well, lets not be unkind.

-12: Hansika’s voice seems to have been dubbed by the person who dubbed for Dora in the tamil version of Dora the Explorer , if someone clarifies that this was for comedic effect, we will of course revert the points to positive. Thank you.

-41: This movie wouldn’t have been made, if Thani Oruvan had not happened, which is quite sad because Thani Oruvan is actually quite good.

bogan3

-31.23333: Director doesn’t realize that characters only came back in their own sequel/franchise model; is not like Aravind Swamy can go on playing Sidharth Abhimanyu (his role from Thani Oruvan) in ever film, here of course he plays Aditya Verma(Varma?) which is just Sidharth Abhimanyu with a different name.

-5: I have signed on Aravind Swamy, so he will always speak in ‘deeeeep’ voice type commitment

+10: Archaeological Survey of India

-107: So Aditya Verma (Varma?) is actually shown as a prince, whose family had lost all their possessions because Government of India took all of it, which at some point seems acceptable, but what isn’t acceptable is that they actually show the Red Fort as one Verma (varma?)’s palaces.

Before you say WTF, they show Mysore Palace as well, we waited till end credits in the hope that they are going to show Marlinspike Hall as Arvind Swamy’s summer home.

Umm..no luck

-120: Maan Karate rule of abuse of spiritual power (or) The Baba theory of kite wishing

In other words whenever in a Tamil film, a character is bestowed with some sort of divine power, they put it to the most trivial tests.

-23:  Hero climbing out of helicopter and walking slowly is considered as Masss/Style. Edho

+55: Hansika goes to TASMAC and asks for a drink so that she can be bold and stuff, sensing this is the first portrayal of dutch courage on the tamil screens, yes were are now international #ulagacinema

-7: Even while drunk, heroine will talk about numerology #yeppa

+16: SJ Suryah references! (Is this a positive or a negative, benefit of doubt based positive)

+41: One scene or is it half a scene (are there half scenes? dammit we are so under prepared as reviewers) in which Arvind Swamy speaks to himself in a mirror

+5: For the number of newsminute articles on sexism in the tamil filmdom, this movie will lend itself to as fodder.

-190.59: If you have been seeing movies on a regular basis, twists in a film stop registering or creating an effect on you after a point of time, especially in a film which uses the reviewer friendly phrase of ‘cat and mouse’ type format, where there is a supposed battle of wits and there are crosses, double crosses and railway crosses happening, sleep comes to you automatically. Maybe this should be prescribed to insomniacs.

-21: Second half of movie should have been titled ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Long’

First part should be titled, ‘wait till you get to the second half’

-37: All songs whenever, wherever, special mention to a party number which spells out BOGAN 300 times, troubling.

+11: the fact that Bogan rhymes with Dragon has been used to good effect.

-91: Commisioner of Police Control Room Server maintenance will take 15 minutes only, dei

0: Movie comes close to being actually bold at one point, but never really is. I am guessing the director should have stuck with his Dutch Courage theme.

-151: Some kind of logic this police offer hero has, whenever there is a video evidence, you take multiple copies of it for safety, you don’t destroy other copies, edho da.

-78.91: All commercial movies will end in a pointless fight in Chennai Harbour, and there is this promise of sequel also.

+5: Expected the movie to be troubling, was not disappointed.

bogan4

All numbers are irrelevant and arbitrary. All spelling and grammar mistakes are intentional, because we dont know grammar only. Semi-colon. LOL;

The FRS team

Subam

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cinema cinema:tamil cinema:tamil Essential viewing Uncategorized

Truth alone triumphs

 

(And also side characters)

andavan-kattalai

Before getting down to praising Aandavan Kattalai, let me first get down on the system; innumerable films have taken on the system, whisking out heroes who break the system, become the system even; but rarely acknowledge it.

Even in Manikandan’s film, the cheekily named Gandhi wrestles with the system and with the truth much like his Gujarati-namesake. Like everyone else, he doesn’t want to be seen as the one who is not smart enough not to take a short cut.

This mindset has served us well right from our daily commute, right up to the get rich quick plans we invest in. Short cuts have been ingrained into our skulls as an Indianism, street smartness is something even companies look for in candidates.

It is time to drive away this smartness.

The Messengers (or who says these things in the movie)

Vijay Sethupathi, in his fifth appearance on screen this year! (Surely this must be a criteria for TIME person of the Year) plays the small town guy in the big city with absolute plainness, there isn’t any special characteristic, there is no extraordinary back story, Gandhi could be anyone, Gandhi could be me or even you, maybe that’s why. So this isn’t much of a performance but more of an appearance.

But this appearance serves him well especially in the comic portions of the film, but the problems in Aandavan Kattalai is unusual because you really don’t know who to follow on screen, obviously Vijay Sethupathi drives it forward; but the supporting characters are not so much a supporting but  actually essential.

I am a supporting character sympathizer, as in if there is one movement I would like to be part of, it would be for the ethical treatment of “hero/heroine’s friend” in Tamil films.  First there is Yogi babu as the not so constant companion, he is luckier than our hero, which almost never happens in films, he gets the best lines as well; then there is the Srilankan refugee in search of his family but has to play dumb, the friends at the theatre crew and the intrepid journalist who also happens to be the heroine.

But my favorite would be the senior and junior lawyers at the family court, a truly unusual comic relationship, at least something I haven’t seen in Tamil films; the closest I could pair them to:  the similar comic duo from I heart Huckabees, totally brilliant, yet so fitting in the atmosphere.

Most of the characters seemed lived in, not just turning up for the shoot, but these aren’t serious roles which would require an entire long read on ‘method acting’, these are just everyday people in highly non everyday surroundings and that is how the humor is brought about. I could just go on about the other supporting actors as well, because this movie is a triumph in terms of casting, characters and dialogue.

A major win in a time, when giving a character a name and a job is seen as writing (something which is referenced in the movie)

Now to the message (Or what is being said)

A message movie is one troubling thing, not everyone will be empathetic enough for it to go all the way or sometimes the message itself might not be presented in a way to create impact, or hidden behind subtexts later to be brought forward by others. But there is something in every movie for everyone, it might not be the one that the director intended, but there is something; because that is why we watch a film.

Most of the times the message is lost in the telling. Here in Aandavan kattalai, the director puts first dart bulls-eye from slide one (This is a message movie #hehehe)

We (or you) can infer whatever you want, but this director is telling you not to take the short route, in fact there are no short routes, in fact (v2.0) the short route is the longer one and the one with thorns and no GPS.

No don’t take the short route.

Fill your own forms. Don’t break the line. Don’t ask your colleague if they know anyone anywhere. Don’t refer anyone from anywhere. Don’t break the process or try to bypass it. Just fill the form and wait.

Because the system might just be easier than the short cut.

Hey, I’m not saying this, the movie is.

Movie(s) of the year

Every movie blogger who thinks he/she is worth something will come up with a list of ‘movies of the year’, we are not exceptions; but we would like to do things differently.

Is Aandavan kattalai our movie of the year?

Our answer is “not quite Oru Naal Koothu” *

 

Epilogue

The movie begins with eighties style kaleidoscopic images, nice touch but I couldn’t see how they connect to the overall theme

*Pitting movie against movie is a very bad thing and I’m sure we will be punished for this.