I read an absolutely exhaustive account on the Chetan Bhagat controversy yesterday by Sudish Kamat. Whether you are a Hirani basher or a CB hater or a fence sitter, I strongly recommend you read this. It kinda answers the million dollar question of last week – What percentage of 3i is FPS? If you care two hoots, that is.
Dear Anwar Rasheed,
The thing about ‘Eeram’ is that for more than 3/4ths of the film, the director is continuously screaming to you from behind the screen – ‘see how different I have made this frame look?’, ‘see how logically I have connected these scenes?’. This almost kid-like enthusiasm is very palpable at the other side of the screen. Clearly, this is a man who has put everything he has got into his first film.
A title picked from Andal’s ‘Nachiyar Thirumozhi’. Is it gonna be erotic spirituality (as Thirumozhi’s genre is) or does the literal translation of ‘a thousand elephants’ mean this is gonna be an action flick?
Harris’s best work till date was an enigma by itself. An overwhelming ‘rock’ feel in couple of the numbers; A flat Sudha ragunathan crooning a disturbingly emotional melody; and a slow folk number that I was hoping will not make the final cut.
Gautham has a history of rip-offs. He has already made two films inspired by ‘Seven’ and one inspired by ‘Derailed’. Lately, he has been talking to the media about how ‘Forrest gump’ inspired this one. So is this gonna be a straight rip off?
There was also the ‘father & son’ talk. Does Gautham Menon now becoming Gautham Vasudev Menon mean that this was going to be a ‘Thavamai Thavamirunthu’ redux?
And then there is also that critical factor of Sameera Reddy’s shoulders and lips.
So, I had more reasons than one to look forward to Vaaranam Ayiram.
The only place I managed to get tickets was the drive in. And it was a cloudy evening.
But the weather held up mostly and the film did as well. The best part was, it surprised the hell out of me.
An honest, straight from the heart film. Now that by itself is surprising in Tamil these days. Add to it:
– an earth shattering performance by Simran.
– an intriguing background score
– a gimmick-less, narrative based editing
– minimalistic, but very effective make-up (u gotta have seen Dasavatharam atleast once to fully appreciate this)
– dialogues that actually strike a chord
– Imagination in most of the frames
you gotta winner.
Now, the other thing about this film is that Surya is in every single frame (no, am not kidding. Every frickin frame). In fact, most times, there are two Suryas in a frame. So, it takes some performance to pull this off, without pissing off the audience even once. He does it pretty well.
Its obvious that a lot of imagination and heart has gone into sketching the father character. It shows! Also, Gautham has always been amazing with relationships. There is a dignity and an intimacy that be brings to them, which makes you love the ‘couple’, more than you do the individual. You get into a bit of Deja vu many times.
And oh…the shoulders and lips dont disappoint you one bit. And that folk number is actually interesting.
Of course there is the length of the film, some scenes that tire you, the overtly episodic nature of the film, some monochromatic characters, Gautham’s penchant with extending his films for 10 minutes after it is technically over, blah blah, which the critics will throw at you. Its all true.
But then at the end of the day, there is the heart thats been put into this. And thats in fantastic health 😉
It has been a wallet-bursting last few weekends at the movies:
The Happening, Dasa, Hulk, Mongol and Dasa again.
Hulk could have as well been an animated feature and Mongol is just too amazing a piece of art to write about on a Friday afternoon (I refuse to say anything about ‘The Happening’). That leaves me with the one film I have waited impatiently for over half a year. Literally.
So, when I actually settled into my seat (first day, 2nd show), I had an embarrasingly wide grin on my face. And like everyone else, I too was nailed to my seat during the first 10 minutes. What followed though was a roller coaster ride of amazement and disappointment in equal measure, so much so that I left the theatre without knowing whether I actually liked the film or not. The second helping did not help either.
For what its worth, my ‘Dus’ things about Dasa:
1. Dasa ends with a montage of Kamal, ‘before, during and after’ the make up of each character (with the ‘ulaga nayagane’ track in the background). This is before the credits begin and so, seemed like he intended the audience to see it as part of the actual feature!!!! Its a minor detail, but it kinda gives us an insight into the thought process behind this film. This clearly is a ‘come and see what all I can do’ kinda gig and not the ‘come, watch and get blown away’ types. For some strange reason, I just assumed it would be the latter.
2. I think the folly of Dasa was the fact that much of its brilliance was too subtle to be noticed, let alone appreciated.
3. Almost no paati I have met in real life has had forearms that reminded me of Sanath Jayasuriya.
4. I have a sikh friend whose Tamil is way better than some of my Tamil friends. So I dont have a problem with Avtaar singing in Tamil. However, I do have a problem with him mouthing a phrase like ‘Paarada Maanuda’
5. People say that the Tsunami sequence special effects were bad. Of course they were. This is a $25 Million film. That is half the budget of ‘The Happening’ (which at $60 Million is considered a teeny weeny small budget film). Even if you subject all the animation engineers in India into bonded labour, you cannot do much with $25 Million. Having said that, there is just no excuse for the scene where some police constables flee the rising ocean as if they were running away from a mouse on the loose.
6. The subtle brilliances. So many! The shot at the hospital with 4 kamals criss-crossing and the car chase with 2 kamals inside the car must have all been shot on multiple days. To have managed the same lighting and to have choreographed extras over and over again, etc must have been a continuity nightmare, pulled off brilliantly. I think the biggest indication that those scenes worked is that not many talk about it!
7. I totally loved the ‘conspiracy theories’ of the undying Kamal fan (http://sathyaphoenix.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/the-mapping-of-each-ten-roles-to-avatars-in-dasavatharam/). Some of them actually seem plausible.
8. Prosthetics kick ass. I think we all know that. Kamal’s linguistic and voice modulations kick ass. We all know that too. These obviousnesses kinda brought down the novelty of 10 for me.
9. I think critics are having a field day butchering Kamal the writer. I dont know about that. I guess there is the script and then there is the premise. “A depiction of the ‘Butterfly Effect’, with a 9th century execution as the ‘flutter of the wings’ and a Tsunami nullyfying the effect of a biological weapon as the ‘tornado’……In an industry that has been pre-occupied with ‘boy meets girl’ and ‘good man kicks bad man’s ass’ for the last 75 years, I think this is pretty ground breaking.
10. Like sky diving or cardiac surgery, cinema too has no points for ‘trying’. In the end it is all about the folks in the dark room with their backs to the projector, who paid to see your film. They either like what they see or they dont. It doesnt matter if you spent 100 hours to get into a plastic mask. They are still gonna come out and say “Hey that ‘paati’ did not look real, yaar!”.
Thank GOD am not a believer….
Tirupati is a freakin circus. Thousands of people, whose ages vary anywhere between 6 months to 103 years, are sandwiched together daily in 6 feet wide cages for miles together with no emergency exits or cops or cell phones in sight. Move over, trapeze artists!
It is quite a sight – that teeny weeny ‘people’ bridge in the middle such vast expanse of land!
So what happens if there is a stampede?….there almost was one the other day…or worse, what happens when somebody has a stroke?…Then again, thats just the Rs. 50 queue. So it aint really important. I am told the Rs. 500 “V.I.P” queues are not so long….but hold on for a sec….who the fuck are you to decide that if I dont have the dough, I cant see my God comfortably?
moving on….Saw Jodha a few weeks back, at 9:30 in the morning!! I usually prefer my cinema later in the night, well after the World has called it a day…but my buddy had scheduling problems and so I tried a post breakfast thing…..aint bad at all!
I hate films with commentaries, or a placard at the end saying what happened to the characters, later in their lives…like anybody cares! Thankfully, Jodha dint have the latter….but the former was bad enough. My take on commentaries is that if you cant say it with your screenplay, you are probably trying too hard. The first 15 minutes of the film reminded me of one of my all time fav TV shows – ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’. I did not pay Rs.125 for that though.
Hrithik was awesome. He probably aint gay after all, like I had thought all these days. The man makes a fantastic Akbar. The scene with the elephant was pure panache.
Strangely, the thing I looked forward to most when I entered the theatre and the thing that put me off most during the film, were the same – Rahman. I thought the songs were brilliant and I found myself waiting impatiently for the next song, throughout the film. I almost jumped with joy when ‘Khwaja’ began. However, the background score was horrendous. It seemed as though Ashutosh’s brief to Rahman was “dude, just spray it. I want atleast 125 musicians jamming at any point of time in my film”. Not a single frame passes by in silence….and worse, the BG always gives away the mood of a scene, even before the audience enters it. Makes you yearn for a “Junoon” or “Last Emperor”, mid way though the film!
Ashutosh is an old school guy and I think I love him for that….but I think that also makes him a terrible maker of songs. He (and I think Mani also shares this vice) has an unexplainable urge to lip sync every vocal in a song. This gets pretty tricky when Rahman scores the music, because he experiments with multiple vocal tracks of the same singer in a song. The result – you have 3 qawwali singers in a scene, all singing different parts of the song at the same time and sounding suspiciously like Rahman!! Thats stretching it a bit, boss!
Ashutosh is also one of the few film makers around, who still believes in ‘goose pimple’ scenes. In ‘Swades’, it was the kid selling water at the railway station. In Jodha, its Akbar getting up to dance in trance! WoW!
I loved the film, though. I think I saw endearing romance on the Hindi screen after a long time. Yeah, it was simplistic and it was very long….but I guess thats alright. I loved the fact that the director did not for the most part, move away from the love story into anything else too fancy.
That night, I saw a bunch of film makers (including Ashutosh) on NDTV, defending their right to creative liberty in interpreting history for a film. While I have absolutely no insight into how much of this film is factual, I actually think their argument is pretty ridiculous. If you dont think sticking to historical facts is important for a film maker and if you want the audience to see this only as a work of art, then why bother calling it ‘Jodha Akbar’? Why not ‘Usha Rahim’?
moving on….sneaked in a bangalore trip a few weeks back….and did Purple Haze after 5 years! It was nostalgia all over again….the backlit jimi hendrix, the smell of a decade of pints and cigarretes, the big screen TV playing ‘comfortably numb’, the gobi manchurian and good old rock n roll. I guess somethings never change….thankfully!
Both Marc Foster and I have spent most of November 07, working on the Kite Runner. Him, trying to finish the post production and me, trying to finish the book. He beat me to it! I finally finished the book last week and bought myself a ticket last night at the movies. The last time I saw a movie by myself was in the early nineties, when I watched Braveheart on the last show of the last day. None of my school friends wanted to see a depressing film about a man in a skirt (this was before it won the academy awards). Similar situation last night. Most of my friends were either not in town or not too keen to watch a film by the ‘Monster’s ball’ director. The little or no advertising that the film got in the States dint help either.
ok….am a bit jobless right now…..but hey, almost everybody else is doing it….’Of the Year’ awards seem to be the best thing that man can do in December….I refuse to be left behind!
The 2007 K award for the real ‘weapon of mass destruction’
With the exception of suicide bombers and ‘philishave’ users, every other man I know is willing to put a couple of blades more to his face, once every 6 months…just because gillette says so….from 2 to 3 to 5 to ‘i have lost count’…..and did i mention, paying a fortune more every time?….but damn, they are good!
The 2007 K award for the ‘Rapidest of Rapids’
The Chennai MRTS project started when I was 8….I am 30 now…it is still ‘a work in progress’….this work horse has successfully weathered through 7 wars….4 recessions….25 Rajini films….countless prime ministers….an entire highway connecting the 4 corners of the country and 2 other transit projects…..a lil birdie tells me the Delhi Metro project took only 4 years to complete…what a loser! Thats almost a premature ejaculation!! Go Chennai!
The 2007 ‘This film makes me want to go to the restroom and stay there for 2 hours’ award
The sweetest half bake of 2007…
I think child actors, when they are good, come off really stunning on screen….be it Shamli in ‘Anjali’….Anna Paquin in ‘Piano’…the kid in ‘sixth sense’….or Darsheel in ‘Taare’….something mesmerizing happens, when real innocence and real talent mix….something that will never be possible for an adult to pull off, ever.
During Taare, you never get enough of Darsheel, in spite of him being in almost every frame…his performance seems so genuine, that it is difficult to believe he would have just repeated what was enacted to him.
The song montages are an absolute treat….especially the one where Ishaan has his day out on the road…wow!…I think it is these montages that make a rather simplistic film flow over 3 hours, without boring you – most of the time! Actually, coming to think of it….the film must have only 3-4 pages of dialogue….because i cant remember a stretch longer than 5 minutes, without a song…
if only aamir had not lip synced to that intermission song! ;(
if only the mother character was not mutilated half way though the film ;( and the father’s, murdered!!!
if only the flip book was not flipped 7 times….
if only aamir’s (girl)friend had something to do in the film….
if only the teacher did not ask for poetry interpretation from third graders….
but hey….the film has so many things going for it, that it almost gets made up for – almost!
the special effects of the kid’s hallucinations are especially slick
prasoon joshi’s lyrics for the ‘ma’ song are bound to haunt you for years to come
aamir’s framing throughout the film is that of a seasoned pro…not a first time director!
SLE’s music is lovable – once again……this is one of those films that u will love instantly if u r a ‘buy cd before seeing the film’ person….
even if none of these work for you, a pair of bunny teeth is sure to keep you tied to the seat – most of the time 😉
I think I would trade Orthopaedic injury for any other illness ANY DAY. Why?
a. you can eat and drink anything
b. theres no nausea
c. you can eat and drink anything
d. dont have to pop a pill
e. you can eat and drink anything
My uninterrupted showtime is continuing for a “3rd successful week”. Last week, I watched 2 films which are not set in the World I live in.
‘Children of Men’ is in my opinion, the most important film made in 2007 (I have not seen ‘Eastern Promises’ yet and so I will reconfirm shortly!) – and I am not saying this in any temporary, post-movie hangover. It has actually been about 10 days since I saw it. Alfonso Cuaron – the guy who made the fun-but-profound ‘Y tu mama tambien‘ has written and directed the film.
It is set 25 years from now, when the human race loses its ability to reproduce (a.k.a its mojo!). That world is not ‘AI’ or ‘Minority Report’ish, but a darker one. One without hope. The first thing that hits you about the film is the art and production design that reflects this mood beautifully. The cars are ‘futurish’, but jaded; The city landscape dark – with uncleared garbage, and greying buildings – almost screaming at you with despair. It is not all about the facade. The detailing is equally stunning. In the shot below, the news papers on the wall carry fictional news of destruction of the times. Award winning stuff 😉
…and the long shots…wow!….7-8 minutes shots….not just dialogue, but action sequences. Beautifully choreographed….and no green screen! these are real time shots!!…..Now, I have never been a fan of film makers who employ visual effects simply because they can…but I dont think it is the case here……the visual language of this film is very distinct and is consistent from the start till the end credits……really, some of these shots make you pause and rewind…..not only becuase you loved it, but also because you cant believe they actually pulled it off!!
and the script….a philosopher’ delight…..the audience’s delight too! The way spirituality and politics of the land have been handled is very very interesting. Overall, the kind of film that you want to rip immediately and add to your private illegal collection…..the kind of film that will make you feel dissapointed if it din’t win the ‘picture of the year’…..and the kind of film that you want to force into the hands of the next person you see and say ‘go watch’!
How can a state that is a 2 hour bus ride from Coimbatore be so different from the rest of south India? how is it that milions of people in Kerala go to the theatre and watch ‘Achuvinte Amma’, when the movie does not have any sex; nobody is raped in the climax; no guns; no stunt sequences with earth shattering music; no dumb and deaf heroine; no lip synced songs; no close ups of navels; no songs shot in new zealand or greece; no crane or dolly shots ending in a close up of the hero mouthing a punch dialogue; not even a comedy track! what changes when you travel 250 KMS westwards from Chennai? If it is communism, then lets have a revolution ASAP….
I know I am not the first to ask these questions and I wont be the last.
‘Achuvinte Amma’ is a Sathyan Anthikad film that won a state award last year, along with Lal and Blessy’s Thanmatra. The protagonists are Urvasi and Meera Jasmine – two of the best actresses in the country, in my opinion. It is a tale of a mother and a daughter. A mother and daughter that we have all met in a bus, visited, lived next to or even have in our family! A simple yet poignant tale. I dont think they even rented a dolly for the film! But I totally loved the film.
The thing about Achu that glues you to the seat are the performances. I mean, obviously! Its Urvasi and Meera! I am a self-proclaimed Meera fanatic. There is something very peaceful about seeing her on screen….and boy, what a talent!! Loved her in Perumazhakaalam. Saw ‘Sandaikozhi’ only because she was in it….but this is probably my most fav Meera film yet (will reconfirm after seeing Rasathanthram)…why she will act in a SJ Surya film is beyond me…..;(