Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kamal can. Why doesn't he?

I donot understand what makes them do it but Sun TV always has the tendency to air ‘Aalavandhaan’ only at unearthly hours. After a long time, it was televised at 11 PM(once again) this Saturday. I saw it one more time – the nandhu asylum scenes, the hallucination scenes, the flashback scenes - in a state of reverie, sacrificing a much needed good night’s sleep in the weekend. So, naturally, I was cursing Sun tv.

In parallel, one more thing struck me. It was the fact that the Kamal of such films is reluctant to come out these days. The genius in the actor-writer comes in sparks in Aalavandhaan. Why cannot he use the flair to the fullest, now that he has reached an age of 56. Do we really need a romantic comedy being picturised in a cruise in Monte Carlo,with Kamal romancing Trisha,a girl about half his age?! Not that he cannot make it look convincing in ‘Manmadhan Ambu’and give us an interesting watch. He can and he will. The question is ‘should he?’. What pricks me is just that he hasn’t got a lot of cinema years left in him. Let me be realistic here. He can play the protagonist roles till he reaches say 60-65. This leaves only a handful of years and the least I would like Kamal do is waste them by acting in paisa-vasool comedy films.

So what is that I expect him to do? The answer is a simple proposition. Give us a hard-hitting, soul stirring, ‘food for thought’ film like the gem ‘Mahanadhi’.

That was not the last of gems he had given but I purposefully site it as it was the last successful of such attempts. The other gems that failed have been mega-budget flicks like:

Hey Ram – A wonderful, carefully researched blast from the past. A Godseian view of the partition of India told tastefully. It was a casting coup of sorts and so was understandably a high budget venture, the fact that it was a period film didn’t help the monetary cause as well. The net result was that people did not (or should I say did not want to) take it. In raking the moolah, it failed miserably. Many memorable scenes notwithstanding , the only scene that became popular was the romantic tryst between Saketh and Aparna – the youtube hits of it being a proof to this viewers’ sham – disgusting sham!

Aalavandhaan – Even though it stays right on top in my list, I wouldn’t call this a masterpiece. Nevertheless, it had its own share of some mesmerizing sequences. Some of Nandhu’s scenes were brilliantly etched by Kamal. Unfortunately, not many watched those scenes from the angle of a drug-hallucinated, paranoid schizophrenic suffering from the trauma caused by a step-mother in his miserable childhood. The net result of this film was the talk that Kamal squandered the money to send one more producer to exile.

Another brilliant work of his that suffered at the box office but didn’t suffer at the hands of the audience after its release was 'Anbe Sivam'. The film was not complex like a Hey Ram or an Aalavandhaan, yet it made people think. It remains a huge mystery why the film didn’t fare well at the BO. Anybody who has seen the film has only good views on it. Maybe the problem was they all saw it in thiruttu cd!

So, the analyses on these films would make my point clear. If Kamal does an authentic emotional class film that isn’t complex, the people would accept it. Only when he chooses intricate concepts to be made as films does he suffer. He seems to have understood this. But, maybe understood that a bit too much, because, he seems not only to have given up writing complex scripts but also to have given up making uncompromising films.

If the argument is that he makes such stop-gap films to only get financial backing that would make get his dream films like 'Marudhanayagam' and 'Marmayogi' back to life, I have given the answers for that too. No production house will be ready to fund such interesting projects. They would consider it safe to invest 200 crores on wigs, sets and graphics on a Shankar-Rajni film than to invest such amounts in an experimental film of someone whose track record has a Hey Ram in the list. They cannot be entirely blamed, for, they are doing business. Afterall, a loud, crass 'Singam' earns,in its first few weeks, more than a semi-experimental 'Raavanan' in an urban centric Chennai which is said to be a Maniratnam bastion. People’s taste for films hasn’t seemed to have changed. But with some tough arousing films, Kamal can cause that change. He nearly did it on a few occasions, only to falter at the final hurdle by giving either a complex film or riding the upswing tide with a commercial flick. All that the writer in Kamal needs to do is, give a string of (not one, but a string of ) prudent, low budget, heart touching works instead of wasting time in a luxury-liner at Monaco. What’s the thrill in doing something everybody knows he can do at ease!

If Clint Eastwood can do that with ‘Gran Torino’,’Invictus’ & ‘Million dollar baby’, Kamal too can. He only needs to realize it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Two line Reviews - #40

Movie: To catch a Thief(1955)

Cary Grant at his casual best. Acting comes so naturally to him.
Intriguing conversations between the lead pair.
Grand aerial shots, those must have been difficult in the 50s!
I was caught unawares when the actual Cat thief was revealed.

For some unknown reasons, i felt it was a bit slow for a Hitchcock film.
The role the french police play is too weak. They are shown as mere clowns!

Overall Score: 9.2/10

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two line Reviews - #39

Movie: The Conversation(1974)

The flawless portrayal of the guilt driven surveillance workaholic Harry Caul by Gene Hackman.
The way Francis Ford Coppola builds the tempo & sustains the suspense.
The twist and the climax that ensues.

The movie definitely had some non-events which could have been avoided.

Overall Score - 9.1/10

Monday, June 21, 2010

Two line Reviews - #38

Movie: Karthik calling Karthik (2010)

A gutsy work with a theme considered an unfamiliar territory for Indian films, and a good one at that.
Farhan Akhtar handles the challenging role well. He shows the vulnerability of the mentally affected Karthik wonderfully.
Deepika Padukone has grabbed the meaty role and has done a very good job.
Cheers for the writer for an engaging screenplay. There is never a dull moment.
S-E-L's superb tracks and background score.

The phone call changes Karthik into a different person in a flash.Can't take that.
The suspense is predictable.

Overall Score: 9.1/10

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two line Reviews - #37

Movie: My name is Khan(2010)

Shah Rukh Khan as Rizwan Khan(Khan-from the epiglottis!) is a revelation.One of his very best roles if not his best.Rizwan is surely the desi Forrest Gump.
Kajol plays her part as the happy mother & angry mother to perfection.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy's wonderful songs.
Karan Johar's success in bringing some very emotional scenes on screen.

Some dramatic scenes that are a bit too hard to be believed.
The way Mandira dumps Rizwan after the loss of her son- couldn't comprehend that.

Overall Score: 9.2/10

Two line Reviews - #36

Movie: The Ugly Truth(2009)

Gerard Butler as the cool,happy go-lucky anchor is a plus.
Katherine Heigl's show might find favor with ladies who might feel she is cute.
Some of the jokes.

The entire film is in a 'not so serious' mood.So,there isn't much impact when the pair join at the end.
Some of the other jokes!

Overall Score: 8.0/10

Two line Reviews - #35

Movie: Dirty Harry(1971)

Clint Eastwood plays the role of Inspector Callahan with elegance and style.
The Scorpio killer is a real scream. A truly menacing act.
Some intelligent scenes - The scene where the killer makes Harry run from one end of the city to another with checks employed via phone booth calls.
Funny and massive one-liners.

The killer escapes from the police every time so easily.
In the climax,if Harry could locate him so easily,why does the Mayor act so soft towards the killer!

Overall Score: 8.9/10

Two line Reviews - #34

Movie: RocknRolla(2008)

Taking a hiatus after Lock stock & Snatch,Guy Ritchie comes up with a similar film and doesn't disappoint. It is an engaging fare.
The roles of Lenny,Archy,One-Two & Mumble are etched tastefully.
Johnny Quid the rockstar and his antics.

Unlike the previous films,there aren't many loops that run here. It is just between money & a painting.That is,kind of, a let down.

Overall Score: 8.7/10

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review of Raavanan

Raavanan - Dan dan danakka,it is!

What would one expect when an ace director, a supremely talented actor ,the most celebrated asian music director, arguably the most popular Indian actress and a remarkable cinematographer join forces - A visual treat and that is exactly what Raavanan is.

The film opens showing the Veerayya (Vikram) gang outwitting the police forces and successfully abducting the wife(Aishwarya) of SP Dev (Prithviraj) as a revenge for something the police had done earlier to the forest guardian Veera. What follows is a cat and mouse game of who wins who. That’s the story in a nutshell. This is being told in a way that makes us relate the lead characters to the lead players of Ramayanam. The climax portion reiterates the Ramayanam connection poetically and fits smoothly.

Maniratnam doesn’t cease to amaze me when it comes to the radical perspectives he offers in his films. Be it Iruvar,Bombay,Guru or Ayitha Ezhuthu. Here he offers Ramayana from Raavanan’s view point. He takes the applauses for being successfully able to take this one-liner into an interesting journey with some poetic scenes explaining the ‘poles-apart’ thoughts that run through the mind of Veera. The dialogues as usual carry the Mani stamp and ooze class every now and again even though the credits for dialogues are attributed to his wife Suhasini. What makes Maniratnam tick is also the way he fully utilizes the potentials of his crew. You get to see the best out of the lead & supporting characters and the men behind the making as well.

Vikram as Veera is a delight to watch. He seems to be at home when he is given such unconventional roles. In the scenes where he speaks, he expresses things the way they ought to be and when he doesn’t speak, it is even more enjoyable. His facial expressions do them all. What an actor!

Aishwarya Rai looks beautiful and acts adequately. She pulls off her monologues quite well and that is as much to tell about her role. Prithviraj,as the cunning and sly SP Dev looks the part with his physique and he seems to have successfully thwarted off the malayali accent from his tamil. Prabhu,as Vikram’s brother once again shows that he can act as well if not much better as anybody who could be fitted into the roles he plays. Karthik , who plays the role of a forest officer is refreshing and adds some humor to the proceedings. Thankfully,he doesn’t speak in his famous plum-in-the-mouth accent.

The locations and the picturisation are big,big pluses in Raavanan. The film has entirely been shot in rain forests across the country and the efforts seem to have paid off, with the output looking spectacular and scenic. All credits to the cinematographers Santosh Sivan, Manikandan and their teams. The art,SFX and editing are perfect. The climax fight sequence is ample proof to this claim.

The songs of A.R.Rahman add fervor to the events and have been shot brilliantly which is a given in any Maniratnam film. The Ila Arun version of ‘Kaatu sirukki’ is a pleasant surprise. There usually is a complaint that Rahman,these days,isn’t giving much importance to background scores in his films. The background score in Raavanan is the silent Rahman answer to all those complainants. There are quite a few scintillating tracks I am waiting to rip and get my hands on.

Now to the minuses. The purpose behind the police launching an attack on Veera on the day of his sister’s marriage isn’t clear. So is the reason for Veera choosing to kidnap the wife of an officer and working not to kill her! The Ramayana connection seems obvious and they could have done away with talking about 14 days & 14 years frequently. The role of Karthik is analogous to Hanuman’s in Ramayana. But to make him jump and creep across trees to reinforce that point seemed needless.

The confluence of the crème de la crème doesn’t disappoint. It has given us a visual
poetic spectacle. In short Verithanamaana Vikram, a spectacular Sivan, a refreshing Rahman and the mastermind Mani have rocked the Raavanan ship the Raavanan luxury cruiser!

Don’t miss this Veera,for,you don’t often get to see characters like him!

Friday, June 11, 2010

An attempt at poetry

The network was down at office. It meant I couldn't work.And that was not all. To be honest I couldn't youtube,couldn't facebook,couldn't wiki,couldn't imdb,couldn't google, couldn't what not! That's when I thought of taking a shot at writing some poem.There is a suspense which I will reveal at the end of this blog.Hope the reader finds it interesting and has a laugh. Here it goes:

rose the fire inside me.
Alter,alter,alter -
The style that belonged in me.

One innocent little thing,
I'm a pure gold king!
Yes..I haven't been that clean,
My face ought to be clean - I mean.

I'm the king of my ring
Roses all over the ring
I'l blow off your thing
sing praises of the king

The classes - we bunk;
The exams - we don't flunk.
Haven't seen the rise of the sun,
When we rise,our watches show 'ten'.
Our romantic thoughts scale light houses!
Alas - The answers in exams have short douses!!

What that causes burns is fire,
We learn from straits that are dire.


Yes,we we work out with vigor-
Arms,chest,shoulders with rigor;
Heavily inspired by Schwarz Arnold!
On fights,we escape - not that bold.

Form the band,hit the beats,
For,we have blood that heats.
Power up,break your tether,
For,we can fly with no feather.

Aim to reach heights
Not scaled even by kites.


If the poem isn't coherent,excuse me.. And all opinions on it shall be showered on Na.Muthukumar. For he was the one who wrote the lyrics for 'Yethi..Yethi' from Vaaranam Aayiram. My poem is a translation of that..Now read the poem again.Hope someone somewhere had a good time reading it!

Two line Reviews - #33

Movie: Lifeboat(1944)

The interesting plot.Just a few characters and a boat.The simplicity of Hitchcock keeps amazing me.
The contrasting emotions brought forth by each of them.
The making. It should have been mighty difficult to film it that way,even though some scenes had the side-screen thing going.

How they were able to survive in the roughest of conditions with scarce resources is a question.

Overall Score - 9.5/10

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two line Reviews - #32

Movie: Spellbound(1945)

The script is the hero. Very much ahead of times. And Hitchcock's marvelous execution.
The roles of Dr.Peterson and Dr.Alex who try to solve the mystery behind John's past.
The surprise that the legendary Gregory Peck offers as a puzzled patient.
The childhood flashback scene and the climax twist - Terrific.

Despite being a psychoanalyst,she falls in love with an amnesia patient right at the word 'GO'.That just seemed a bit implausible.

Overall Score - 9.6/10

Two line Reviews - #31


The lead pair of the cool,suave and elegant Cary Grant and the beautiful Ingrid Bergman(who has a striking resemblance to Sharapova).They do their parts very well and the intermittent romance works like a charm.
The plot itself. I didn't know Hitchcock had handled a subject on spying as well as he had handled murder stories.
Some of the grand shots showing Rio.

It takes quite some time for Alex to get to know that he is being tailed by Alicia & Co.

Overall Score: 9.6/10

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two line Reviews - #30

Movie: Rope(1948)

8 characters.Entire film shot in a room.What a concept! What an execution!!
The brilliant detective act of James Stewart. The best acting show in any Hitchcock film I've seen.
The cool-tense pair of the actors who play Brandon & Phillip.

Forget it..sorry.

Overall Score: 9.7/10

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Two line Reviews - #29

Movie:Judgment at Nuremberg(1961)

Yet another gripping record on the Nazi-policy infested Germany.
The attention given to even the miniscule details of a courtroom trial.
The cool & composed demeanour of Spencer Tracy as Judge Haywood.
The fiery little outbursts of the actors who play Ernst Janning,Rolfe and Rudolph Peterson
The engaging & powerful dialogues.

Not any.

Overall Score: 9.6/10

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two line Reviews - #28

Movie: Suspicion(1941)

The way the film sails through makes me wonder why it is not up there with the rest of Hitchcock classics..there is not a speed-breaker.Credits to the screenplay writer too.
The role of Cary Grant as the witty,lazy,fit-for-nothing gambler Johnny Aysgarth.He is cool as ever.
The role of the Rebecca lady.She shows her suspicions perfectly.

The anti-climax. A climax would have been better given the way things were going till that part.

Overall Score: 9.2/10

Two line Reviews - #27

Movie:Strangers on a Train (1951)

The amazing 'what's next' screenplay of Hitchcock,as usual.
The performance of Robert Walker as the psychotic lunatic Bruno Antony.
The foil played by Granger as the smart,tennis star who gets into trouble for no fault of his.
The merry-go-round climax!

Nothing that came to my notice.

Overall Score:9.3/10

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two line Reviews - #26

Movie:Jackie Brown(1997)

The making - Tarantino has got style (I hear you saying "As if nobody knows!")
His style is similar to Hitchcock in that there are close up shots,long shots,long dialog sequences.But,the two are poles apart when it comes to the question of their orthodoxies. QT gives an exciting masala flavor.

The plot and the screenplay are pluses.

Samuel L Jackson - Tarantino seems to know how best to use him. I haven't seen him as stylish in films he has worked with others.

The role of De Niro. Well, he could have got any dumb ass to do that role.Why a master class act. Save one scene, De Niro has been wasted.
The trap set for Ordell in the climax is weak. How he believes it is difficult to fathom.

Overall Score: 8.9/10