Categories
cinema:tamil

Kamalum Hashtagum

A sudden rush of excitement and then normalcy returned.

Today takes me back to some evening in 2006, when a two part poster joined together in the center with a cool cop like Kamal Haasan asking the onlooker (including me) “Chinnapasangala Yaar Kitta?” was stuck outside our wall. 

It was a line from his recently released film “Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu”, it was also probably a poke at then other younger stars he was (is?) competing with. 

My mind rushed back to that very moment on seeing the hashtag on the latest announcement from Alwarpet; it said #KamalHaasan232. 

Loool I said to myself. 

The simple audacity of it, when even now Ajith and Vijay fans are creating a mindless riot over twitter expecting updates for their stars’ 60th something films. It is doubtful with their current productivity that they would reach two hundred films in total. Here was KH at 232.

Loooool I said again, he is still saying “Chinnapasangala Yaar Kitta?” 

A sudden rush of excitement, I shared the poster online and then normalcy returned. 

Meanwhile…

Media has successfully juvenilized Kamal too or current environment necessitates such hashtags. 

It was happening for sometime now, the definition of being a Kamal fan had changed this decade too, possibly it will change in the next. 

Being a Kamal fan meant that you would have to swallow the saliva in gulps when he released Guna with Thalapathy, being a Kamal fan meant honing individual tastes, being a Kamal fan meant that by default it was going against the crowd, being a Kamal fan meant you never know what you are going to get. 

It was not that KH did not command following or fandom, but the successive movies that he made where he did not fit himself in the hero template when faced with the onslaught of peak Rajnimania in the 90s.

This meant that the fans still retained in their head-individually and not as a group, why they loved him and for different people KH meant differently.

I’ll explain, for some when they say they like Kamal

  1. it was his film making (gumbal identifier for this is – Kamal is best screenplay writer/director, but Sivaji is best actor)
  2. It was his acting (gumbal identifier is – Kamal should stick to acting and let others to the directing) 
  3. It was his off screen views (gumbal identifier- KH has constantly inserted his politics as kuriyeedu in his films- xyz kuriyeedu) 
  4. It was his serious films (gumbal identifier- KH is the only true independent Tamil filmmaker we have)
  5. It was his comedy films (gumbal identifier- Why did he not do more films with Crazy Mohan?)
  6. It was his social service (gumbal identifier- do you know how many litres of blood Narpani has donated?”)

<Psst gumbal means group, I know I can use group, but using gumbal is more fun.>

These are just the six gumbals I wrote off the top of my head based on impressions on Kamal and that too only from the 90s.

80s gumbals will have their own qualifiers, because this man has been around for so long that not only different generations have hot takes on him, but within these generations there would be sub groups with hotter takes and more often these sub groups don’t see eye to eye.

There is also a growing generation of kids who might probably know him as BiggBoss tamil host. 

Which can mean only one thing. No single fandom. 

There is no combined KH fandom as it is for other template stars like MGR, Rajni, Vijay, Ajith and so on. Even if their stars go out of their grain and do a one-off film, their fans know that Rajni and Vijay have AR Murugadoss on speed dial to make the next total enmasse entertainer. 

To be a fan of the others, is to completely buy into the persona of the star, to see oneself in them. 

That never happens in a Kamal film, it is very difficult for a group to identify with the character that Kamal is playing on screen, also always it is a different Kamal and it is through the story or his acting or the other skills that he has that takes away our attention. 

So no singular fandom, but KH might be the biggest niche star in Indian film history. 

Allow me that one generalization now. 

Since Kamal was unique and he tried to make his unique movies, his fans too got unique bits of his persona which they clung on to, depending on how much they liked him over the years. 

Which brought me back to the hashtag. 

Lokesh Kanakaraj is a self confessed Kamal fan, he even speaks about Kamalism. 

Which takes me back to the launch of Kamal’s political party MNM, on the stage of which he said “isms dont work” 

Would Kamalism be another ism? Would it work? 

If so which gumbal would be able to fully appreciate the said Kamalism, is it his creative choices, is it his filmmaking, is it his insistence on doing quality stunt sequences (an underrated Kamal element even by gumbal), is it his offscreen comments or the newly adorned political character coat? 

I don’t know what Kamalism stands for at any point of time, guess it keeps changing like KH himself. 

Which was when the normalcy returned. 

Lokesh Kanakaraj has directed three films, two of them have seen the insides of a theatre, one is hoping it will pull us into one, post the pandemic.

Honestly, I liked both Maanagaram and Kaithi (hmm), but only till the movie run time and I have never since wanted to see it again and sometimes even worry about the fuss when I see the general acclaim. They are perfectly serviceable vehicles of entertainment, but neither moving to the mad cap extreme to develop a cult following nor pushing tamil cinema to the other side of art. 

Neutral films with an interesting premise. (Hmm)

When normalcy returned, I thought about the times when fans got to make their films with their idols, more recently Karthik Subbaraj with Petta, Atlee with his Vijay film trilogy and Prithviraj with Lucifer. 

Forget Lucifer, it is a great film, very rewatchable and Mohanlal can insert himself into any persona. I have seen Lucifer thrice in the lockdown alone, so forget Lucifer when I group it Petta etc. 

Sorry but my choice does help me illustrate the  contrast with the others viz. : if I don’t buy into the fanboy nature of the movie I won’t be able to appreciate it fully. 

Allow me one more speculation. 

Is Kamalism going to be like the 2021 version of “Rajnified” or will it be another Lucifer?

But why make another Lucifer? (hmm, lot of guns in the poster with a ghost like hero) 

This was when my normalcy dipped into sadness. 

Ok then I came back to a steady state and said to myself,”let’s wait for the movie, hobbitses”. 

And then I jotted all this down. 

The End.

PS

But I do know one gumbal who will be very pleased with today’s announcement: which is the “Kamal must submit himself to a young visionary filmmaker” gumbal. (single quotes over visionary)

Lool, I thought to myself, Kamal will never submit, go see the climax of Drishyam. 

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil FRS

FRS: Bigil


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

+2: Movie is without narration. Always a good sign (or so we thought). 

+5: Movie puts itself into porali category immediately as it begins with students protesting against change of the college building from a heritage building to a new building outside the city. (actually in Arakonam).

We feel the government is in the right here, since in-city colleges and their buses actually contribute a lot to city traffic. But of course it is not a Tamil movie, unless it opposes the government.

Even heritage buildings will breathe better without the trouble of students <umm…where are we going with this>

Heil Democracy and all that. 

-41: Predictably politician character is played as a mixture of being clueless and ruthless. Politico uncle orders a riot on protesting students, of course this is what is going to set-up the hero introduction sequence. 

+5: Hero has mastered the art of throwing bijli vedi in a manner that it explodes just before the thug’s face. Also this is a way to wish the audience “Happy Diwali Nanba”

-5: Hero hits at least 20 people within the first 20 % of the movie, means ki you can comfortably say that for the remaining 80 % of the movie any such hitting will be surely tiring and you will not experience any exhilaration. 

-2: If hero is from gully, then surely he must be the most popular guy with all the thaaymaargal’s and kutties love and affection. We will never understand why this is so, apart from the fact that he is the hero.. 

-11: Since it is written in the Kollywood Shaastram, that the  best way to end a semi-comedic intro fight would be to convert into an intro song. We now have an opening song which is shot in all shades of red available. 

-24.5: Yogi Babu is in this movie, that means a “moonji” joke is always around the corner. We have to face it. <We mean…>

+6: It’s not a big hero tamil movie, if it does not have a chief minister reference; althought this seems to be a new virus; such a thing was never said in the Kollywood Shaahstram

-90: Kollywood continues to exploit gansgterism without even for once explaining the mechanics of it. 

-91: Kollywood heroes continue to exploit cooling glasses by wearing them for 90% of the movie, so we can never see them act. 

#ItsNotCoolToWearCoolersAlways

-12: When in hospital, supporting characters will regain consciousness only to reveal entire back story of character. 

-30.8: Surprise! Father of gangster hero is also gangster, but with white hair and all. That’s about it. All pazhaya scenes only. 

+30.8: But he is well meaning gangster, because of course he is played by hero only. 

<Pause for reflection> 

Rayappan believes that his son becoming a national football player will encourage more people to move out of their gully by taking up football. 

While this is an inspiring thought, since there is always only a limited number of people who can be part of a national football side, the idea itself might not scale. 

There is a possibility that those who don’t make it to the national side either return to their rowdy roots or become sports followers on twitter who tweet GOALLLLL while following matches. 

Neither will help the overall ecosystem. 

Rayappan should have thought better. Won’t scale. 

</Pause for reflection> 

-05: No girl in the football team had the slightest doubt that Michael indeed looked like ex Tamilnadu captain Bigil. Because….hmm…

+11: Nayanthara is playing an empowered heroine in a movie about woman empowerment

-11: Empowered heroine does not tell father that she is not interested in marriage right now, this would have cut some 20 minutes of attempts at a comical church wedding. 

-3: Convenient team physiotherapist is extremely convenient (for hero)

-24: When movie transforms into sports movie, so all sports officials transform into villains and hero can become coach. 

+33: For a few minutes we actually thought this would be a women’s empowerment film, points for those minutes.

When issues are watered down so that the hero can take a stand on it, then ultimately the issue only suffers. 

Here in Bigil, while women empowerment is treated with allowable care; director offers no apology for violence and rowdyism.There are at least 300 people being thrown here and there by the hero. 

That rowdyism itself is a threat to women’s safety never occurred to the director. 

Hmm of course, hero is rowdy because rowdy is cool/wants to be etc. 

-33: For a full second half which is supposed to be about the girls, barely their names registered and most don’t have any role or character. 

+6: Director firmly believes that scoring goals is the only aspect of football he will concentrate on. 

-78: Movie relies heavily on stereotypes, but also does some baavla in the name of dismantling them. 

-101: Movie is not over yet. 2 more football matches to go. 

+3: One police station sequence which seems was directed by ARM during Darbar break. 

-5: Director sneaks in outtakes from Adidas ads for SIngapennay song, we hope people found it inspiring, or atleast to do some Diwali sports shoe shopping

<Use code BIGIL50, wherever you want, you never know> 

+5: Everyone in football team is wearing Bigil jersey, but we expected them to turn to camera and say “I am Bigil” like “I am spartacus” , no such luck.

-41.8: A team in full form will suddenly play like they have never played together before in THE FINALS of the tournament, just so our hero can go to locker room and motivate them. 

+11: Hero fulfills everyone’s wishes, including the wishes of his dead father and his father and their friends and their uncles and their gullies and the whole world. 

+32: Hero gets credit for everything by NOT getting credit for everything, wow well played. 

Hmm but..

Haters can hate, because Peace is the answer. Everyone becomes good. Society is happy. World is happy. Sleep well. 

All numbers are incidental and arbitrary, except the facts provided by our data analytics team

Happy Deepavali Nanba.

Subam

Team FRS

Categories
cinema

FRS: Sarkar

FRS: Sarkar
One finger, election swinger

So by now everyone knows what an FRS is right? If not we probably will have to fire the entire marketing department at the Lowly Laureate.

Wait a minnit, we don’t have a marketing department; but what we have is a musical department.

<Musical Department plays Sad Appu theme from Aboorva Sago on cue>

Editor: Get on with it. Please.

-501: To us, as usual posting late FRS; no excuse dammit! (That’s the editor’s only contribution, he wanted us to include this to show that unlike most publications, writers here are relatively accountable)

-30: Director feels that it is important for him to show all the great “empires” in world history in the titles just because he named the film Sarkar.

+12: Vijay played a magician (sort of) in his previous film thus confusing many people to believe that this movie could be a biopic of legendary magician PC Sarkar.

But rumor was that this was abandoned from the word go because a movie about an Indian magician would actually be interesting and would involve lot of hard work etc unlike this one. There we said it.

-404: It has been decades since the IT industry became a good part of the Indian economy but Tamil movie directors don’t want to understand what this IT is only.

-33: IT company head honchos will call employees out to the bay area and ask them to google about a CEO of rival company under fears of a takeover by the said CEO because he is visiting India.

We mean LOOOOOOL, all the Saturday Night live comics put together cannot beat this master of an open. Funny and fun forever.

-169: IT company girl who is ‘researching’ about CEO is actually watching a youtube video called “Sundar in Las Vegas” also tells something to the effect like “he is a playboy, but very cute ya”

Las Vague-as

+101: Vijay does breaking the 4th wall to speak to greet his fans even in open spaces.

Everytime Vijay na breaks the 4th wall, a season of house of cards is cancelled somewhere.

-36: All the dancers in Las Vegas know the exact same steps as CEO Sundar, do they go to same dancing class? If so did GL Corp pay for their CEO’s dancing classes?

Oh BTW all songs in this movie are just Vijay dancing in the foreground with fancy lights/ferris wheel in the background.

#OOOOooooOOO

+56: We can clearly see what CEO Sundar is doing in Vegas, thus this movie has broken the long standing myth that what happens in vegas stays in vegas.

-22: Movie goes into ultra slow motion when CEO Sundar lights up a cigarette

Slow in motion, low on emotion

<FRS Mini Bytes>

Unwritten rules in Tamil Cinema be like if you are going to shoot on a runway then it must be in slow motion to emphasise “hero-walking-down-flight-stairs” or in other words what is commonly misunderstood as style

</FRS Mini Bytes>

-57.8: Movie keeps emphasizing that CEO Sundar’s corporate strategy is entirely driven by acquisitions, well even if we do take that at face value; we think movie misunderstands acquisitions and thinks it is something like going to a mall and buying a watch kind-off thing. I mean these are complex, like ok let’s go a little deeper into this.

{I would like to point out that here FRS writers work twice as hard as the writers of this film; and thus our sentences now resemble CAT problems}

Historically acquisitions have benefitted the seller more than the buyer (in this case CEO Sundar) and majority of the deals that went through could not meet the projected revenue numbers, which means that CEO Sundar would have to answer a lot to the board.

<Now that’s a movie that I would like to see>

Wow, a tech CEO who makes tough choices by acquiring companies that don’t make money is taken to task by the governing board, that makes an interesting story.

</Now that’s a movie that I would like to see>

What we really want to say that things don’t look so well for GL Corp.

+101: ARM is total genius, instead of having usual tagalong sidekick that hero can bounce off jokes; he moulds that character into Keerthy Suresh, only that it doesn’t work to the intended comic effect, nevertheless genius attempt.

+102: Usually some smart critic will use the term “subverting audience expectation” although at that point they mean they were not prepared for such a film, which means to say that we can safely deduce that most critics make up their mind about films before they watch.

Loool and people actually trust critics with their choices.

OK back to subverting audience 101, here ARM has subverted critics expectations like a total boss.

Usually, on seeing when the heroine character not having much to do in the course of the story, critics wearing blue and other color shirts will say something like in exasperation :”hey, what is Keerthy Suresh doing here?”

ARM is boss, he has so many years of experience in the film industry and hence anticipates the whole scenario and subverts critics expectation by making the hero Thalapathy Vijay aka CEO Sundar aka Vijay na to ask the question: “Hey, Keerthy Suresh; what are you doing here?”

Critics thought movie was very ‘self-aware’ (again one of their phrases) and gave centum marks for the film.

-55: Sundar’s lawyer’s name is Malani which half of the name of Ram Jethmalani; but still Malani commands the same fee as Ram Jethmalani.

When you come at half the name, you only deserve half the price.

+236.2: CEO Sundar becomes Lawyer Sundar after overnight reading of 300 KG law books, this we believe is a tribute to the underappreciated art of last minute cramming or known in some academic circles as “mugging”.

+38: For the cost of one movie ticket you get to see two villains and one secret villain, as consumers of goods we were very happy. But very sad to see that all villains have only one strategy which is : send goons to kill Sundar.

Buy 2, get 1 free

Villains may come and go, but the demand for goons has shown a healthy increase, but we would like to know if there is an increase of minimum wages for such professions.

Mostly there is a union for these goons, there are unions for everything anyways.

-38: Needless to say CEO Sundar will defeat goons single-handedly; but of course he uses both hands that was just an expression.

His corporate training tool-kit comes with 40+ hours of action block training from the school of super subbarayan, looks like.

-102: Benevolent ARM is benevolent.

Looks like ARM was very happy with what his writers came up with for the first half and so in that happiness sent them packing to some location and the writers never returned, hence ARM was forced to take newspaper headlines and make them into situations.

What ARM did not realise was that most newspaper headlines are boring, and if people wanted to read newspaper headlines they will buy or borrow newspapers and not buy or borrow movie tickets.

-342: But this is our usual rant that falls on deaf ears. Everyone goes to tamil movies to be educated, who are we to question that?

-86: Although Sundar is CEO of GL Corp, he only wishes his compatriots should have 1990s type desktop installed in their new office. Also at this point we begin to doubt the actual role of CEO Sundar, he always keeps talking about marketing and branding which is what a CMO would do.But anyway, good for GL <spoiler alert> Sundar resigns.

Cutting across party lines

+56: Hero solves all problems. Everyone is happy, elections are reformed, parties have been cleaned up and good governance has been put in place; until of course in the next film Vijay na is asked to deal with a different issue.

All numbers are incidental and non-indicative

Regards

Team FRS

 

Categories
cinema cinema:tamil Uncategorized

Cold Dish, Makes me wish: Theri and other things

theri4

Part One: Avengers of Revenge

“Revenge is a dish best served cold”- quote based on which 10,000 tamil movies have germinated.

Clearly there must be something about this revenge that brings out the blockbuster in theatres, otherwise there is no logic behind so many movies having it as a Palar water undercurrent to many a hero’s river of success. (ok that was unwanted river imagery)

This something can be the dispersal of swift justice to the wronged, which includes innovative ways of killing the villain; maybe does not make for the best of cinema but good engagement.

Speaking of the best of cinema, Kamal’s Aboorva Sagodharargal (The Amazing brothers!) is a late textbook of perfection with respect to revenge as a theme that these filmmakers have undoubtedly read. No one can stop recurring themes, but themes done in a way which is not readily identifiable by the audience,that it is recurring, is what that works.

Theri is as open as a frog during dissection.

So it does take a lot of effort to un-see the other movies that are inside Theri, but you have to hand it to the director for packing in so many other movies into one and since my ticket price was just under Rs.90 (udhayam rocks) I was marginally happy, economically speaking. But my marginal rate of satisfaction for the movie had come down the mountain when the film was reaching its very end.

Aside 1: It is known that Kamal was concentrating solely on the dwarf character that he had not written the script for Aboorva Sagodharargal, and in hasty story discussions one writer is supposed to have suggested “take revenge story saar, always works”.

Good advice and it worked.

theri1

Part Two: Kids as personification of cuteness

This is my main gripe with films employing children, the children themselves are secondary characters to the story/hero etc and more than the children it is their ‘cuteness’ that sells.

Those who are wondering what is this ‘cuteness’is, will benefit from watching the movie. There is something rotten in the selling of ‘cuteness’, and at this point I end my case and we shift to part three.

theri2

Part Three: Soft character, dark flashback

If the hero is playing someone who is soft spoken, kind, compassionate and all the other adjectives that a mother-in-law will put to describe a prospective match; then the hero will surely have been badass cop/ underworld don/ rowdy in exile in his darker than monsoon cloud past, in other simple words, adjectives that no mother-in-law will use.

Amusing that this construct is never questioned or modified.

Another construct is, if there are two heroines then…..<Not spoiling>

But there is a lot working for this Vijay film, especially the DCP Vijay Kumar scenes, the actor does it with some new found zest that really does elevate the movie and my expectation but all these are in the earlier part of the film leaving little for the end.

Part Four or The Condensation of the Adi-Seshan

Adi-Seshan or Seshnag (hindi!) is the king of the snakes. Like all things in the modern world, serpents also need to be brought down to an appreciable length.Hence the title.

 

Joseph Kuruvilla lives in an isolated villa

along with his daughter and her teacher who looks killa*

No one knows who is Joseph Kuruvilla

So they send goons to his isolated villa

In the past, Kuruvilla was DCP Vijay Kumar

Then second half goes on quite sumar**

<The End>

theri5

*killa: modification of killer, used to denote Amy  Jackson

**sumar: ordinary (tamil!)

 

Here’s the trailer:

 

Categories
cinema:tamil

PIPE DREAMS: KATHTHI

ck and mm

“In the darkness that is the theatre, it doesn’t matter if you’re a critic or a common man”

Anonymous,but sensible quote.

kathi-first-look

Caustic Kumar(CK): Are they going to have some celebrations now that we are back

Moderate Manohar(MM): We don’t encourage any kind of celebrations

Editor: What celebrations? Get back to work!

CK and MM together: We have come up with a unique format which could give us a head start when compared to the other movie scribes; it is so different that it has never been tried before in the history of movie criticism!

Editor: Even in the US?

CK and MM: Even in the US!

Editor: No! Just get back to work!

CK and MM walk back with wry smiles; CK sees that his table hasn’t been cleaned since the time he left.

CK: It’s good to be back (hmpf)

MM: Whether you like it or not Caustic, film criticism is dead, not that we were any good but then, anyone with a facebook account can write a review

CK: it’s just parameters, these are not reviews

MM: as in?

CK: parameters, any viewer goes in with a set of parameters which they have accumulated in the back of their mind, they match their reflections to these parameters and put it down as a status. That’s simply not a review.

MM: Oh, so how is ours…umm I mean yours different from them?

CK: Our…sorry my process is based on feeling, pure feeling and feeling gives context.

MM: Do you think the people out there care? Why would take your feeling to their head when they can have their own.

CK: I do not know if they care, maybe they do not, but this is the only way I express myself.

MM: hmm…typical

CK: It seems that little hiatus you took, has made you more proficient in mockery

MM: For God’s sake CK, lets discuss Kaththi, our bickering already eaten up 320 words!

CK: maybe you’re right, where to begin?

MM: At the beginning, did u see the pattern? This is Enga Veetu Pillai (Ram aur Shyam for our northern audience, if any i.e) meets Rajadhi Raja meets whatever hero who tried this active- passive hero swapping places for the greater good of mankind plot

CK: My God! Mod!, you stole the words from my mouth, yes it is the same sub-sub-genre if something could be called that, but you know, this is a genre that actually works when done well, I still catch Enga Veetu Pillai on TV, it has some great moments

MM: And here?

CK: Oh, where do we begin, the movies cited above really had some kind of thing going for them, because they did not take their plots too seriously…seriously as in the outcome of the plot would not have changed the whole world as such, both Enga Veetu Pillai and Rajadhi Raja had domestic and limited even personal problems

MM: Exactly! Here’s this film deals with changing the mindset of city dwellers about the struggle of the farmers and there is this character swapping happening in between.

CK: I really like film with social causes, they make you feel so small, question your very existence, might help you become a big time buyer of organic products etc

MM: what are you saying!?

CK: I don’t care, I mean I don’t really care about society, as in do I always have to show the world how I really think that I care about the society?  If my intention of caring will really change the plight of millions then I will, I really like how easy it is to take sides and paint the other guys as black, it really helps from a writer’s POV. If you are a corporate guy, you will be bad, even your henchmen will be bad, your security guy will be bad…on the other hand… if you are from a village

MM: SHhhhh!!! Some years ago, you might remember that Raguvaran as Anthony employed the well-meaning Vijaykumar, even when they had a conflict of interest.

CK: Yes! Conflict, no conflict here, which made me root for none, there, is no writing here, just positioning. If movies are the guilt based conscience awakener that could reform society then with the number of society-conscious heroes, our would have been the most developed country in the world

MM: So you’re saying that if a director feels strongly about poverty, he should not make a film about it?

CK: Who am I to say such things? I have no rights even, but then I have the rights to question the motives of a director who goes from farmer suicides to “let’s take a selfie pulla” within seconds.

MM: hmm yes disturbing…

CK: and the heroine…

MM: Caustic, we made a pact about not discussing things that will be usually discussed in other reviews, like hero performance, opening songs, cinematography, heroine, item numbers, music, technicalities, comedy tracks etc…

CK: yes, readers know these things anyway. But couldn’t help but notice, why is she there? I mean why?

MM maintains some kindoff silence

CK: leave it Mod, I have reformed, I am going to help the blind man cross the street.

MM: Who?

CK points to a frail figure walking slowly

MM: That’s our editor!

CK: oh didn’t realise from the distance, anyhow Mod, it feels good to be back

MM: It’s good to be back!