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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.

 

 

 

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cinema cinema:tamil cinema:tamil FRS

FRS: Thozha

A note on the Fawlty Rating System (FRS)

*Initially thought about in 1934, it came to fruition only in the late 2000s.

*It is the only movie rating system in the universe to be based on a Buddhist scroll that was actually written by an Irish traveller who had been an assistant director in the movie “Birth of a nation”, the scroll was curiously titled “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari to make a Baahubali”

*The rating system is now named after the Irish Traveller, a small portion of the proceeds from this review will go to a bhel puri vendor in an undisclosed street corner for secret reasons.

*All numbers and words are arbitrary, mostly imaginary. They do not mean anything

A note on the Fawlty Rating System Ends

thozha

-10: Yet another friendship film.

<But this being a remake of a French Film which we have NOT seen, we will be even more cruel>

-10: Yet another remake film. (Oops!)

-7.5: Hero is a wastrel, like most Tamil films; the story will trace how from being unabashedly wasted the hero gains responsibility. The point is, if you begin with this premise then where else can you go? I meant with the story.

-6: yeah, where else can you go? Paris?

-3: Hero gets job because he is honest in interview

-367: Actually this is a long standing grouse, I have been HONEST in interviews and NO, you dont get jobs like that, unless of course…never mind

+13: Business magnate does not use HR professionals in the hiring of his assistant, seems to be  a good decision.

+56: Tammanaah plays a secretary in this film. Although her job profile is not clearly explained, sometimes she comes off as a matron more than a secretary, in later parts she is happy ignoring her work etc.

-196.32: What Business does Nagarjuna do? i mean we see all those boards and all, so many companies, but not once, NOT ONCE, there isnt something that he needs to attend to, no pressing matter, no consultation with the board NO? i mean you have only one staff (able Tammy) and one friend (Prakash Raj), life can’t be so easy for one of India’s Top 10 businessmen.

<We get it, the movie is not ABOUT BUSINESS, but still>

-2: Unwanted Manobala cameo supposed to evoke laughter, creates despair instead.

-10: Staying on the subject of cameos…never mind, not spoiling, but still irritating.

+150: Movies, as they tend to be; mostly like friendship movies and all, very prone to being self-aware, there is very little bonding for the sake bonding kindoff moments in the film, which is extremely interesting, because there isnt any big conflict for the characters to prove their friendship and mouth emo shizz, “yenna nee en nanban” types. Those are the kindoff movies which elevate friendship to this unattainable godliness which becomes frustrating in real life. Well done guys, no Thalapathy shizz.

-12: Thalapathy

+34: painting humor and Prakash Raj, seems like he could sleepwalk into these roles and he sleep walks like how Brando would. Also Karthi is the Go-To guy if your hero is LIG flat living-family fighting-smiling-joking-chennai youth, very well done.

-32.2: Women as dressing, right OK; this film is about two guys and their bonding, so why not make it that way, the women here are just there, neither adding any emotional depth or having anything to do on their own.

-2345.66: Money is not important, but people are. <Morals, OK>

Also as a Bonus, here is Tammy during the Batman v Superman premiere, whose side are you on?

-736 to self for using such cheap tricks.

tamz

 

 

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cinema cinema:tamil FRS Uncategorized

FRS: Rajni Murugan

“Quick Gun, Make Fun”

A note on the Fawlty Rating System (FRS)

*Initially thought about in 1934, it came to fruition only in the late 2000s.

*It is the only movie rating system in the universe to be based on a Buddhist scroll that was actually written by an Irish traveller who had been an assistant director in the movie “Birth of a nation”, the scroll was curiously titled “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari to make a Baahubali”

*The rating system is now named after the Irish Traveller, a small portion of the proceeds from this review will go to a bhel puri vendor in an undisclosed street corner for secret reasons.

*All numbers and words are arbitrary, mostly imaginary. They do not mean anything

A note on the Fawlty Rating System Ends

“Quick Gun, Make Fun”

-245: Movie begins with voice-over telling us that Madurai is not about violence, extortion but a lot of fun. Shows villain as extortionist, previous violence is heavily stressed, climax fight will make Roman warriors cry out in shyness

-32: Hero is a wastrel.

-12: He is proud about it, hence a hero. Also has friend who does the same.(soori playing soori)

+90: Title font is good. authentic.

-10: Real life sports be banned, heroes will always win no matter what their competency is, even if the movie is out and out about a non performing hero, still he will hit the pot at the top of the school culturals, so that flowers fall on his head (cut to title song “Rajni Murugan! Gun !Gun!)

-1500: Hero dresses himself as John Wayne, movie is not a western.

-12.5: If there is a grandfather, hero is the only guy compassionate towards him. Rest of the relatives (some 1200 people living in 244 countries) does not care for the old man.

-2: Hero’s father is a simple school headmaster cliche

-100: Heroine does not say “Yes”to hero immediately, so that we can spend rest of one hour in wooing tactics

-12: When heroine says ” I dont like him”, means she likes him, extra minus points for gullible father who believes in them

-67: For all the movies that employ the above tactic

+345: Heroine falls for hero when he puts tea stall opposite her house, yeah just because he tried, so easy, come on guys. This is the best way to get girl!

-10: Tea shop does not register profits, no proper inventory also (MBA shizz talking)

-08.56: Villain will be successful in his attempts with others, same technique will fail with hero, just because he is hero.

+77.9: One whole RajKiran sequence which is genuinely funny.

-58.9: Number of bad jokes more than number of good ones

-63: Whatever happens, hero will get girl (minus one more if you didn’t know that already)

+45.6: An assassin who should actually be working in PETA or Jallikattu prevention force, because he fears for the life of a dog when he is going to kill 25 people. Environmental token positive points.

-160: SivaK movies getting self referential already, boss his filmography itself is not even half a page, also all songs look like some song in his previous film, same what’s the word..ah..mileu.

“Family is core, dont abandon them and all that ok?”

 

That’s all.

 

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil Essay Music

IT WAS SHOT HERE

An attempt to view Madras/Chennai through its songs          

 madras1

Who knows what type of day it would have been, but trust the Madras resident to come conclude that it would have been, like every day: a very hot one. The imaginative residents would have even got to the extent of picturing a sun burned and sweating exploring officer of the East India Company, pausing at this small and then insignificant sand bar on the Coramandel coast.

He could have gone further, but then he stopped.

The officer on duty was Francis Day, one of the neglected founding fathers of the city; the city they once called Madras and now we call Chennai. There are many tales as to why Day stopped here, it wasn’t even a natural harbor, so essential for the works of the company; the story of Madras is perhaps the most cinematic one; the one never told or explored by the dream spinners who now work in what widely circulated newspapers call Kollywood, a name which sounds so odd that you would like to say something nice after you mouth it.

But there has always been the beach, the coast that made the travelling Englishman stop has churned the memories of many a Tamil filmmaker. C.V. Sridhar often heralded as the first modern Tamil director shared Day’s enchantment and used to write all his scripts on the Marina and would shoot at least one scene there, his classic comedy Kadhalikka Neramillai (No time for love) was set entirely in the southern mountain retreat of Chinnamalai but that couldn’t prevent Sridhar from shooting this opening song on the sunny beach overlooking the Madras University, it is one of the most happiest openings in Tamil film and Sridhar’s sentiment with the Marina would continue all through, not far away a bridge named after a 19th century city Governor Francis Napier, the distinctly red lighthouse and the Indo-Saracenic architecture of the university buildings has also served countless location managers, the stretch of the Marina would be the most exploited, mostly for songs providing walking space for leading couples to ad lib while the composer’s music played out.

When the Marina is used, can Elliot’s be far behind; the city’s second favorite hangout has an added advantage of having a cenotaph to decorate the panoramic shots.

 

I do agree that there has been repetition in the Madras that appeared in songs; after all there can only be so many places of interest, so we can afford to forgive Mani Ratnam (who incidentally has a company called Madras talkies) for using the Chennai Museum complex for a dance recital and as a court-house. He famously used the college of Engineering for the same, but that is another matter.

 

Repetition too has some beauty, but that lies in the mind of the reciter,  a song which begins with a sombrero wearing Manorama aptly titled Madrasa Sutti Paaka Poren (I am going to see Madras)is your quickest guide to the city, even makes fun of Lord Ripon after whom the Corporation headquarters is named; the same year (1994) also came Shankar’s Kadhalan (Lover)a song which quickened the pulse of a nation and also managed to capture Prabhu Deva taking over Madras from the top of distinctive green buses while people watch, mesmerized from the sides of the High Court and the LIC buildings, which I should take time to mention as Chennai’s Empire state, it is not much, but still it is ours.

Staying on the topic of LIC building as a symbol of the city, for years that umm…modest skyscraper and the Central Railways station has been used to the change in setting of any film, from the village to the big bad city; going to Pattinam(as Madras was called in the villages then) was considered an ill act.

Here in B&W Madras, the villager ponders over skyscrapers and how irresponsible the citizens are, the trend continues to this day; in a time where Tamil Cinema is moving southward to the raw rustic surroundings of Madurai and elsewhere; Chennai is often seen as a city of IT professionals who live fake lives and always speak English to the uneducated.

But the city silently bears all that, waiting for that rare moment where even the immigrants;  these protectors of Tamil culture pause for a moment and realize what a ladder this city has been for them, on the other hand new blood from the city have not been silent as they had to deal with inter-zonal conflicts; eternally dividing the city into one of the haves and the have-nots; after all which city does not have boundaries.

But what many cities do not posses is a tongue of its own, rumored to have borrowed equally from English, Tamil, Sanskrit and Hindi, perhaps even German (who can say) is the Madras Baashai, no Tamil film attains completeness without a Zaam Bazzar Jaggu having his bichua knife ready to slice or singing songs on the banks of the foul-smelling holy Cooum: our ever unclean-able.

But how can I finish with the Cooum, so I return one last time to the cool Marina where it all began. Sivaji Ganesan here walks past innocently in search of a better tomorrow where his majestic statue now stands; a merger of worlds of sorts.

The clips in this document is far from complete, but have been assembled to give a fleeting glimpse of the city, many great songs and sites have been left behind and there are still many corners in the city to be explored and filmed, for who would have thought that the famous banyan tree in the Theosophical Society would have given ample shade to silent lovers or that a gully cricket match between the RA Puram Sharks and the Royapuram Rockers would mete out an amusing tale, if not for cinema. We will wait.

For mine is a laid back coastal city, till only recently sprouting signs of competing with the hustle of its colleagues; but somehow maintaining the warmth and air of welcome, I have never been anywhere else; but I have always been welcome at home. Maybe that is what made Francis Day stop, he probably felt home.

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil reviews

APPEARANCES ARE DEFECTIVE: THE ‘I’ REVIEW

i-movie-poster_141075512910 WARNING IF YOU DO NOT LIKE READING IN PARAGRAPHS, PLEASE SCROLL  TO JUST BEFORE THE ENDING, WE HAVE GIVEN EVERYTHING IN POINTS, READERS MUST NOTE THAT THIS IS THE ANNA UNIVERSITY METHOD OF WRITING, OTHERS CAN READ FROM HERE Caustic Kumar sat at the edge of his assigned seat, somewhere at the back of the auditorium which played host to the Annual Movie Reviewers award, the announcer: a really short man who looked shorter in his borrowed suit began to announce the nominees for the “third best movie reviewer-male” category. Caustic Kumar unhinged himself from his removed self and showed some expectation in the names that were being announced, the organisers had the good sense to arrange for an LED screen which had live footage of those who had been nominated, in the right bottom was the smiling face of Moderate Manohar. It was those rare occasions in life when the world actually favoured fairness against flamboyance, fake-ness and flowery-ness, Mod Manohar had actually won the award. Amidst chattering crowd who unconsciously clapped without care or knowledge as to who had won, Moderate Manohar began his now epic acceptance speech. <Cut to the cell phone screen of Caustic Kumar> <Incoming Message noise, Ping or Ting> “Caustic, need urgent review of Shankar’s I, we have a lot of space for tomorrow’s edition because the Bollywood editor has gone on leave. Write something like ’25 things that we learned from I’ would be ideal for digital edition, repeat urgent” Editor in Chief (non-Bollywood Segment-special charge) <Cut to Caustic’s face>

Caustic: Shit

Meanwhile… Moderate: “I would also like to dedicate this award…um…dedicate not the right word…I would like to share this award with my partner in reviews…who is sitting there looking bewildered for not getting nominated this year…Mr. Caustic Kumar!!!” <Yaay! Mod shouts in the mike meekly like an elementary school kid>

Chattering uncaring crowd goes silent over the mention of the name Caustic Kumar. Announcer has no other option, but to signal Caustic on to the stage. A senior reviewer who was three years old when Gone with the Wind was released was not impressed and started to walk out of the auditorium, while the live video feed captures the whole response.

Another senior reviewer, also the member of the awards committee and not surprisingly winner of the awards a great number of times (double digits) scathingly remarked as Caustic got to the stage, “Put on a smile Caustic, you know only the best get nominated”

Caustic: “Thanks Chandru, I would have been nominated a hundred times, if only there had been a category called Honest Movie Reviewer of the Year” Mod laughs uncontrollably

<CROWD ERUPTS IN ANGER>

It is to be noted here that the crowd here consisted of past winners and their intimate families and like-minded friends, only Caustic had dragged himself to the event to see his friend be nominated. <AS EXPECTED THEY THROW CAUSTIC AND MOD OUT>

Caustic: Let’s just get on with this, before someone comes out and starts hitting us. Mod: I had one good moment in life and even before it could be photographed, you ruined it,

Caustic: Come on now, you are not the third best reviewer in town, in fact there is no difference between you and the other guys, I mean the winners…you all say the same THING!!!

Mod: You are jealous that you have never won any award.

Caustic: That I am never going to win, but at least I need to get paid at the end of this month, we need to do this I review thing, I already made a few points, let’s call it “Appearances are Defective”

Mod<going into Mod mode>: See the thing is, Shankar had a concept, to show that beauty is not skin deep… to show that models were humans also.. Caustic: Bull only…I can see that there has been no clear thinking on the side of production, at least no clear thinking, all the people who live in this Model universe are as plastic as the pearlpet jars that these guys gave you as an award here…

Mod<points to the award in his hand>: This is not pearl pet

Caustic: ok, shripet. That is not the point, however when the hero does fall in love for here, which begins as admiration to a celebrity and blossoms into love when he sees her in bikini, that I think is the lowest point.

Mod: Come on now, we can this is an admission on the part of the writer and also the heroine turns out to be more than her looks, further in the movie.

Caustic: This is why they give you awards, I mean all of you, you just say the same thing which everyone expects in a movie, and you can absolutely say what will be printed in tomorrow’s paper.

Mod: My win has really affected you, we are balanced and unbiased and even in a bad movie we try to look at the good things and not take pot shots, and we encourage new talents, as it is too many restrictions in filmmaking

Caustic: WHY SHOULD MOVIE REVIEWERS BE NEUTRAL????<Shouts> we are not part of the judicial system, we are also not diplomats and so there is no reason for us to be…wait for it….diplomatic!

Mod: You are taking this too personally I guess, I try you guess what my review of I would be

Caustic: Easy work, I- so much hard work by Vikram, stunning visuals, imaginative song and fight sequences and second half would have been shorter or some such things….

Mod: Well…. I mean…how much can you really say? Is it not good to see the good things in the whole?

Caustic: I’m saying this now, there can be no two ways about it, you like it or not, it is only when you sit and substantiate on how much effort they have put etc, but it is to those first impressions that act as instigators to you real opinon.

Mod: SO you’re saying that “all this hardwork by Vikram” phrase should not be used at all

Caustic: I’m saying it should not be used at all, it is after all an actor’s sworn duty to bring the character on screen, why give extra points for that and does it mean that in other movies this much effort is not being put in?

Mod: It means that other movies might not require that much work

Caustic: Exactly, movies must require a LOT of work!!! Here in this case it is the story, this is basically a Aboorva Sagodarargal template (which by itself is a culmination of early revenge films), but this is an Aboorva Sago without the goodness, without the interesting characters….

Mod: You cannot compare….

Caustic: Let me finish…AS begins with pain, Srividya getting poisoned, Kamal getting killed, Appu doesn’t know it but we the audience do, we fell for them, and then later when Appu comes to know of his past, we feel even more, we want to be there when the Tiger rips off Nasser’s head and share a similar look to that of Appu, which is quote scary. Even if you consider the character of Appu as a gimmick, the weight of the story and how the screenplay is constructed makes all the difference, here in Shankar’s I the Koonan character is nothing but a fancy dress item, I really couldn’t feel for him because his greatest motivation is good looks and god awful villains who really put planning to shame.

Mod: You just run over the film like a train, not staying on things, this as I had first said; is about how love is not about appearances, like how Diya…

Caustic: They should have called her Barbie

Mod: Shhh… Diya the model, loves Lingesh even when he becomes Koonan, to show that love is all conquering

Caustic: In that case I would have liked to see the love child of Koonan and Diya, not see Koonan become Lingesh again; but one thing I do agree is that they have used fairy tales as basis for this whole film. (see Ennodu Nee Irundhaal)

Mod: You absolutely hate this film, I get it, but there is no point going into such details, sit back, enjoy the China landscape and PC’s camera…

Caustic: Oh my God, don’t remind me, that China valley replica had the most irritating Advertisement like house setting ever, this is the point, let us just say that this film is about how ads are soul-less and those who act in them are angels on earth, ok not all but only those who play the leads in this film.

<Mod starts to say something…then decides not to>

Caustic: If you want, we can say that this is a cleverly disguised attack on consumer capitalism and exploitation, we can also use phrases like seduction of the innocent, like how the lead character never wavers from his child-like innocence even though his really bad Madras bashai blossoms into an accent worthy of a super model.  You can also use your favourite phrase “for a tamil film, this had good graphics” line.

Mod: Oh, I’m fed up of writing it, I really do hope that there is a method to look beyond the graphics, all those bulbous villains in the end, but the effort they have put makes me want to encourage…

Caustic: This is not some newcomer you need to encourage…that brings us to Shankar, on the weakest script he has taken up in his career, this movie seems to have been directed on auto pilot or sleep mode.

Mod: That brings us to the primal question, “ Are we getting better, or are the movies getting dumber?”

Both walk into the darkness, while a PING sound is heard, it must be the editor.

THE ‘I’ REVIEW FOR ALL THOSE WHO SCROLLED TO THE END, ALMOST Story=Aboorva Sago minus Kamal minus Ilayaraaja minus Screenplay and of course minus sense Countries you can visit by watching this movie: China, flower valley, song worthy Special Song: Beauty meets beast meets musical type extravaganza. Special mention: none whatsoever MOVIE  FAST FACTS/IMPRESSIONS

  • Vikram lost and regained weight, or regained and lost weight
  • Amy Jackson who plays a model in this film, is actually a model (wonder casting!)
  • Police dogs lose scent on railway tracks, because….convenience
  • Hero will fall in love with body parts.
  • Influenza Virus is deadly
  • Models are popular enough to be movie stars, but will not act in movies (I dunno why)
  • Heroine’s mother will go into coma if heroine does not marry
  • Heroine’s mother shares an interesting relationship with one doctor, although nothing is shown, something is hinted. (This was the only thing that interested us in the movie)
  • Chennai villain model has influence to call up 2500 chinese goons in china on bicycles to kill hero model, hero model of course kills them all.
  • If you shoot a romantic song in china, you can float in air over water, because no gravity in china.
  • Advertisement director gets more pissed than audience on heroine;s acting.
  • Cola barons will look like Vijay Mallya
  • Hero’s parents will always vanish at a point in the movie when the writers thinks that they are no longer required. Henceforth to be called I’s rule.
  • Before important movie event, all villains will gather in one room, so that hero can be explained what the audience knew 25 mins back.

(SPOILERS) Senior but not so popular now (or) other state actor doing side role in earlier part of the movie can mean only one thing: <wait for it…>he is the main villain. In the end everyone is beautiful again. <This movie review was written with all respect to the hard work the makers of the movie had put in, this review was written without much hard work but with almost near death anger on how the movie turned out>