On Vivek

(1961-2021)

1999’s Unnaruge Naan Irundhal was a marker of how Kollywood comedy would be shaped, at least for the next few years. Headlined by Parthiban, who was largehearted enough to take up roles which provided room for most supporting actors of the comedic variety as yes he could vibe well with them, being a humorist himself. Unnaruge Naan Irundhal had Vadivelu, as the village drunk who Parthiban’s character encounters, the scenes between them are indicative of their partnership which would reach peak in next year’s Vetri Kodi Kattu. 

Vivek joins the party much later, as is typical how this movie could have been made- a collection of random humorous sketches and a thin story to string it all together. As a frustrated actor-director who comes to the village to make a Rambha film (yes this is the Meena-Rambha movie ) , Vivek steals a movie really did require stealing, it was after a long time when the industry made fun of itself- he covers night schedules, late coming actors, sentiment scenes and Telugu style dance steps (Paniyaram Paniyaram Paniyaram anyone?). The short time he is on screen would earn him his first Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Comedian. 

Let’s come back to the indicative part, while Vadivelu was excelling in the comedy situations that left him feeling like fool or left him beaten black and blue; Vivek would take up an issue and deconstruct it, even within the framework of the sketch comedy that the films that was being offered to him, allowed. Unnaruge Naan Irundhal is like a fork in the road where Vadivelu and Vivek parted. 

In the new millennium, Vivek found an immediate place as the funny friend of then up and coming youth heroes, Vijay, Ajith, Vikram and Madhavan- but the frustration in his comedy remained (recollect the Shaeey! Kadhalukku silai vekkuranga, nee elai vekkure from Minnale ) and he elevated himself to the position where he could make fun of the heroes themselves (later Vivek gave up this position to Santhanam) but never would he miss out to include issues ( as in daily travails that the youth faced- ahem of the time) like mobile phone bill, petrol prices and even boring art films (Kadhal Jothi in Eyy Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke!). He strived to not reduce himself to a meme. 

A combination of factors including the multifold ‘image’ growth of the above mentioned heroes and the game changing Winner- well, we all know what happened after that. 

It is this short period between 2000 and 2003 that Vivek shone, he would talk about enrollment in caste societies (Dum Dum Dum), brahminism ( Saami) , ills of city life (Run), advertising ( Eyy Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke- Ullam Ketkume Beer) but it never seemed like he was making a statement for the sake of it, only all round good natured humor. 

Vivek couldn’t go full on into body language adi-dhadi comedy ( he tried that too for a while when we clearly see that Vivek was Vadivelu stand-in such films) , he couldn’t go into insult comedy of his predecessors, but he found his niche in the mix of pop-culture (Mission Impossible, Indecent Proposal all found a place)- harmless imitations (mostly Kamal, Sivaji, Kalaignar and Vairamuthu), social awareness and daily irritations. Sadly this golden period, like all golden periods, only lasted for a time. 

He would do them at a bigger scale (naturally) in later Shankar films which still had the smell of early 2000s in them. 

Like all good artistes,Vivek  reinvented himself by occasionally playing against type and because comedy is the most difficult of arts, he could do everything else, the most recent of which is Vellai Pookal, a well made thriller set in Seattle- an example of how he could carry a film with relatively unknown actors.

Of course, there are many Viveks (within the screen and outside) that are worth of public adulation, it could be his mission to plant one crore saplings or his quest to further the memory of APJ Abdul Kalam in the state or in general the goodness of his twitter account. 

Many will write about those facets and rightly should, but these are where my memories begin. 

No end card for you Vivek sir , this could be just another ‘Take Diversion’ and thank you for the humor.

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