“Segappa irukravan poi solla maattaan daa” – Shouldn’t WE consider this dialogue more seriously?

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After the revelation of furore sparking insights by Mr. Tarun Vijay regarding racism in India, while participating on a discussion in Al Jazeera regarding a string of recent attacks on African students in Greater Noida, in social media, we the people in South India held out quite a number of deliberations criticizing the Ex-BJP MP’s statements and shared contents (including memes) taking aim at him.

Whenever the slightest of an oppressive act arises to impose dominance by one over the other, it is the stiffest resistance by few that does a world of good to many. At the same time, are the many ever noticing the disparity in their conduct that exists in their regional society? Yes, I am very much talking about the imbalanced perceptions of most people pertaining to the skin tone of their fellow citizens. Here, you might ask me, “How could you say that most people possess views that are blatantly inconsistent?” To answer this, I would like to share two instances from two Tamil movies.

Let me start with the Kamal Haasan starrer and Shankar directed 1996 film, Indian which had its dialogues written by late writer Sujatha. In the movie, in a scene involving Goundamani, Senthil and a kid, we get to see Goundamani referring the kid named, Arvind Swamy as Aduppula Vendha Saamy citing the kid’s dark skin tone.

Next moment up in the queue is from the Shankar directed 2007 film, Sivaji. This movie again had its dialogues penned by Sujatha. By now, you would have guessed which moments I would touch. Yes, it is the sequence of events involving two dark-skinned characters, Angavai and Sangavai. These occasions are just samples from among the plentiful that slowly have been establishing a pseudo perception about a race within the race itself.

Here, ‘some’ might say, “Movie is a movie and joke in it is just a joke. With false interpretations, do not arrive at wrong conclusions”. As far as our society is concerned, real life and reel life have been very closely intertwined. Had a stiff resistance risen by our people against the depiction of color discrimination of people in Indian and Sivaji then, Mr. Tarun Vijay who has been for quite some time praising Tamil literature and expressing his pride towards Tamil culture would not have uttered such a racial remark in the interview. This revelation by him could well be equated to the idiom, ‘The cat has come out of the bag’. So, all a citizen needs to get advocated is to exhibit a stiff resistance to even a slightest of oppression imposed over him/her and to realize and revolt against the supremacy-minded views of one over the integral sect of the fellow citizens.

So, isn’t this the high time for ‘many’ to consider the dialogue, “Segappa irukravan poi solla maattaan daa”, that takes jibe at them, more seriously?

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Kavan – ‘An entertainer that delivers some solid takeaways’

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While watching a Tamil movie, if you sense its screenplay to be highly engaging; if you notice the storyline to be slightly unusual; if you feel captivated by few brilliant turnarounds; if you find too much detailing about the plot’s aspects here and there; if you feel it to be possessing a dense storytelling; if you get to view catchy songs that are beautifully choreographed in the backdrop of exotic locales; if you get to see a populist depiction of certain facts that are less known to the majority section of audience; if you come across few scenes that you think the family audience wouldn’t be comfy with then it means that you are watching a directorial venture of K.V.Anand.

The recent end product of K.V.Anand – Kavan – pretty decently fits into the above mentioned template. In addition to the elements of the template, I see Kavan possessing few more exciting ingredients. Firstly, it’s Vijay Sethupathi. We all knew that he is well known for rendering performances in a casual manner. In Kavan, he is at his casual best. The casualness that Vijay exhibits while dealing with scenarios related to the bold and sensitive topics, which the movie has chosen, strengthens the emotional connect between the cine viewers and the character that he essays. Secondly, it’s T.Rajhendherr, aka TR. Of late, going by the off-screen persona of TR, I had this wish of watching him in the films of one of the happening directors in Tamil Cinema. It’s an absolute delight to watch K.V.Anand quite effectively leveraging TR’s outreach among the audience.

As Kavan’s screenplay seems to concentrate more on its crux, we get only a momentary view of the ‘Kaadhalum Kadandhu Pogum’ hangover from the pair, Vijay Sethupathi and Madonna Sebastian. The sequence involving ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan was a pleasant surprise indeed, as it was refreshing to see him articulating words that take aim at the restricted and ignorant mindsets. You get to hear many razor-sharp dialogues in the movie.

After watching an almost two and a half hours of movie that I found thoroughly engaging for most parts, I listened to a conversation, pertaining to the film, between three persons. With makers putting up a disclaimer initially stating that Kavan isn’t targeting any, the perceptions of the trio were like:

Person1: “Guys… The illustration that has been shown in the movie seems to be exaggerated. But, things like this happen in real-time at a relatively less degree!

Person2: “I don’t think so. This is purely a fictional piece by K.V.Anand. But, to an extent, it sounds entertaining

Person3: “Why the hell did the movie expose all the off-screen happenings so blatantly? I would have enjoyed the reality and talk shows like I did before if the movie hadn’t showcased the reality

It’s nice and quite interesting to see an entertainer (Kavan) delivering some solid takeaways as above!

Kadugu – ‘A movie that voices a realistic solution to a society’s disturbing (and disgusting) concern’

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Spoilers ahead…

Kadugu begins with a scene that exhibits the ‘behind the scenes’ happening of a cine shoot. In this sequence, with a short-lived storytelling, certain aspects related to the movie’s plot, are proffered to the audience, like: What disturbing (and disgusting) aspect in our society is the film going to deal with? Which character in Kadugu is going to play the pivotal role in driving the story? What makes the character ideal to do so? What sort of a follow-up is in waiting for a person, with absolute righteousness, from his fellow citizens?

What a brilliant piece of an episode this is by S.Vijay Milton to kick-start Kadugu’s narration! This approach really sounded interesting to me and straight away, kindled my curiosity over the flick’s actual plot. I just anticipated this kind of a storytelling to be a metaphorical glimpse of a hard-hitting narrative, which the cinema is going to depict (My guess was right. It was truly so!). Soon after the completion of the above said short and sweet episode, the film started detailing the characters involved in it.

It was refreshing to see Bharath (as Nambi) and Rajakumaran (as Puli J Pandi) in completely different makeovers. Having seen Bharath as hero for more than a decade, it really would sound odd to see him without a pair in a movie. So, we get to see the cute Subhiksha playing his pair. As far as the amusing factor is concerned, the on-screen proceedings between Rajakumaran and Bharath Seeni (as Anirudh) were pretty engaging. The one-sided love affair of Anirudh over the character enacted by Subhiksha also seemed quite interesting and fresh. At the same time, there were few moving segments interspersed in the course of the film especially the backstory (animated display of events backed by a monologue in a heart-rending manner) of the character, Eby enacted by Radhika Prasidhha.

But, at one point of time, two queries popped up in my mind, like: When is the movie going to concentrate on the concern, it had implicitly promised to do in the beginning? Secondly, every primary character in the picture seems to be good-at-heart. So, will anyone from the bunch take a negative shade?

Around the interval point, a scenario that would leave a person, heavy-hearted, gets placed as a twist in the tale. Post the exposition of the harsh reality, in Kadugu, we get to see the cunning activities of ‘ugly’ minds dominating over the helpless and the inabilities of the latter to rise against the former. Here, you might get thoroughly involved in the screenplay and empathize with the powerless. You feel that a realistic solution, for all the troubles shown out there in the picture, is ‘corrupt’ individuals correcting themselves. Towards the climax, you get to see Rajakumaran as Puli J Pandi voicing the same, facing the audience in a cinematic fashion (But, the information has well been conveyed!).

What if the Suriya – Gautham – Harris trio reunites for a reboot of ‘Singam’ franchise?

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It was way back in 2010, Singam got released. Since then, two sequels have been released under the umbrella of ‘Singam’ franchise. At this time, when the mind-sets of the moviegoers have been stamped with a perception pertaining to Singam movies, what if a thorough makeover is done to their execution? In other words, what if a reboot of the franchise transpires? To put my thoughts in an even more precise manner, what if a celebrated, populist franchise like Singam gets dipped in the essence of Gautham Vasudev Menon’s classy film-making style? This idea might sound weird or even funny as we have been used to the manner in which the Singam movies have been served to us.

Firstly, the reason behind me going for Gautham Vasudev Menon has been the styles of film-making between him and Hari being poles apart. Secondly, the gutsiness (in the sense… trying-out to make a movie that is devoid of background score (Nadunisi Naaygal), placing all the songs of a movie in its pre-interval segment by not prompting any boredom and packing three different genres within a movie (Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada) with two out of three appealing in a better manner to many), which Gautham has been showcasing so far within the frame of his tried and tested style.

Now, imagine a Singam movie that possesses characters, which are a lot more urbane; imagine the narration to be interspersed with the voice-overs of the protagonist; imagine the movie to be a cop venture that is embedded with the ever green Gautham Vasudev Menon Romance; imagine the characters to render their respective dialogues in a restrained manner (especially Durai Singam’s); imagine the scissor works of the film’s editor offering the audience the much needed time-lapse to visually and sensually savour the on-screen proceedings; imagine a  stunt choreography that is not-so-over-the-top or gravity defying (Here, I would comfortably exclude the climax stunts of Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada from consideration)… doesn’t all these changes sound fresh!

While glancing at the reboots of popular franchises, it looks like the precedence suggests that a complete revamp of the existing cast has been typical with few exceptions here and there. If a reboot of Singam is made then it should be one among those exceptions as the updated version needs to retain its lead star with not one iota of doubt. Because, such is the quintessential persona of Durai Singam that Suriya has infused into this 7-year old franchise. With Suriya and Gautham Vasudev Menon getting on board then whom else would a fan expect to helm the department of music composition other than Harris Jayaraj? If the trio who once beautifully decorated a period of cinema comes together for another time (and that too for a Singam reboot version) then ‘one hell of a’ kind of hype gets around the project.

To summarize the above ideations, in a light-hearted manner, I would term the passing of the directorial responsibility of ‘Singam’ franchise from Hari to Gautham Vasudev Menon as analogous to the handover of the job of directing a Batman series from Joel Schumacher to Christopher Nolan.

 

 

Maanagaram – ‘A praiseworthy thriller, driven significantly by debutants’

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Spoilers ahead…

While watching debut director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Maanagaram in theatre, there was a kid sitting behind me accompanied by his parents. After a while from the movie’s start, the kid pointed Sri and asked his mom, “Is he the hero of the movie?” The mom replied, “Yes”. Here, it might be the noble character sketch of Sri that would have prompted the kid to ask so. After a while, on watching Sundeep Kishan, the kiddo repeated the question. His mom reiterated her answer that she had told him before. This time, it might be the heroic personality of the role played by Sundeep that would have made the kid to ask so. The kid’s act of questioning continued with every single prominent character of the movie. The kid did not even spare quizzing about Munishkanth Ramdoss. It might be the comical enactment of the actor, or might be because Munishkanth has been tickling the audience’s funny bones by his amusing act, which would have captivated the kid. The ultimate query, which the kiddo posed towards his mom was, “Eventually, who will save the kidnapped kid?” citing a boy in the movie. Such is the impact of a simple and a gripping thriller flick. In a nutshell, if not the engaging factor, the kid would have not been so involved with the movie’s screenplay. In fact, it is this same factor that firmly held the attention of even the grown-ups among the audience out there in the cinema, throughout the movie.

When it comes to classifying the genre of the movie, in no way, we could categorize it to be either a dark action thriller or a black comedy. We either smile or laugh when the goings-on in the narration intend to make us do and we feel glued to our seats with anticipation to know “What next?” when we are served with some tense moments. Here, we don’t lodge a complaint on the screenplay as being inconsistent in the way it handles the movie’s crux. Such is the manner in which both the genres have been intertwined.

Also, we get enlivened by a lot of lighter moments that come along the way of the movie. For instance, the character played by Sri that is in Chennai and is new to the city’s “atrocities” gets his belongings (including money) ripped by few miscreants. Following which, he approaches a road-side tea shop and pleads for some money from the shop owner. The shop owner stares at Sri with a disdain. In parallel, the song, ‘Vanakkam Vaazhavaikkum Chennai’ from the movie, ‘Marina’ gets played in an FM in the shop. In another scene, Sri’s character has the address of his friend’s residence in Chennai but he doesn’t know how to get to it. Post-midnight, he bounds a cab from his office. As far as the road routes in Chennai are concerned, the cab driver (played by Charlie) is as well in no way more or less knowledgeable than Sri is. With both searching for a while with no breakthrough in their attempts, the song, ‘Madras’ from the movie, ‘Madras’ gets played in an FM in the car. On hearing the lines, “Enga ooru Madrasu… athukku naanga thaanda addressu”, Sri frustratingly asks Charlie to switch off the FM (Conversations between Sri and Charlie in this sequence take a soft aim at the harsh realities of our current day society). Amidst serious sequence of events, when we are proffered with moments like these, all we render is a genuine smile or a laugh. Such moments have been carefully interspersed in the course of the movie. They don’t weaken either the unidirectional screenplay or the seriousness which the characters involved hold.

If not the inclusion of the character of Regina Cassandra, if not a not-so-distracting love track involving her and Sundeep in the screenplay proceedings, if not an appealing portrayal from Regina then Maanagaram could have been an Aangal Mattum venture as far as the acting front is concerned. At one point of time in the movie, I was very much hoping for the character of ‘Temple Monkeys’ fame Shah Ra to not turn good and avoid the cliché of letting the kidnapped kid escape. I felt very much satisfied after watching the movie as many such clichés have strictly been ignored. The manner in which the director has deftly twined together various tracks by placing scenes that lie outside the radar of the typical guesses of the general audience is something which makes the film standout. As far as the camera works of Selva Kumar SK, scissor works of Philomin Raj and, mostly pulsating with occasional soothing scores of Javed Riaz are concerned, they could well be termed as the populist versions of their counterparts’ in director Mysskin’s flicks. With all said and done, if you are the one who is crazy about dark action thrillers, loves to relish dark humours, and feels satisfied watching a movie with a gripping screenplay involving minimal characters and amusing moments then Maanagaram could well be the ideal flick.

Yaman – ‘A realistic, dialogue-heavy political thriller’

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Spoilers ahead…

Following suit the slow-paced, big ticket entertainer, Kodi that is equally realistic, Yaman, directed by Jeeva Shankar, is the kind of “political thriller” that we wish to watch. The movie begins with Arivudai Nambi’s ascension in his political career, conspiracies transpiring around the same to pull him down and subsequently, the goings-on victimizing him. Thereupon, Nambi’s wife ends her life leaving their only son to be nurtured under the care of Nambi’s father (played by Sangili Murugan). There ends the narration pertaining to Arivudai Nambi.

Post 30 long years in the narration, the focus switches to Tamilarasan. Now, all he is in need of is money for his grandfather’s medical treatment. There comes a situation that offers him chances to have a break through. Straight away he accepts it. Here, you expect to get to know about certain aspects like: what Tamilarasan’s family does for a living? What is his societal perception? What sort of a political outlook he has? You get none. All you get to know about him is that he is “good-at-heart”. Afterwards, we are proffered with a couple of finely choreographed stunt sequences and not-so-catchy… more importantly, not-so-well-placed songs.

I have always admired Vijay Antony for not losing his sheen over the department of music despite being an actor and a producer. In Yaman, the songs don’t seem to hit the bull’s-eye. He holds his authority over the background score though. As in the case of any actor in Tamil Cinema, to revamp one’s status as a star, at some point of time in their career, they tend to display their swagger in slo-mo shots backed predominantly by a vibrant background score. In that respect, Yaman is Vijay Antony’s turn to be so. It is really good to see him continue being less reliant on brand images, ensuring that personal branding takes a back seat and not being over-ambitious in delivering movies that appeal to family audience.

In a movie like Yaman that is heavily reliant upon the cat and mouse game between the extremes of the play, the job of being villain isn’t vested with one but two – Thiagarajan and Aroul Djody. For most part of the movie, Aroul Djody as Thangapandi exhibits the act of villainy. In such phases, Thiagarajan as Karunakaran appears to be more of a godfather to Tamilarasan. It’s only after a particular point in the post interval segment, we see him attaining a grey shade. That is when he starts rendering variations in his tone too. Thereafter we see Thiagarajan getting thoroughly involved in the proceedings as that is when his role as a villain gets legitimate. Initially, Miya George as Anjana aka Ahalya appears as a customary inclusion to the cast. But, an issue pertaining to her in the movie is what that triggers the political clash between Tamilarasan and Thangapandi.

If the addition of Swaminathan to Yaman is for providing smiles in a rather more serious screenplay then the presence of Charle is for providing more than just smiles. He has a moving role to essay. With Jeeva Shankar on board to helm the movie, one could experience his touch doing a world of good to the movie’s visuals. In spite of Yaman being a dialogue-heavy movie, at no point, the dialogues appeared preachy. I really enjoyed the dialogues. They were crystal clear. May be the pace at which the movie progresses were handy to me in following the dialogues. Among the dialogues, the one which I liked a lot is when Thiagarajan says to Arjai: “Newsla etha sonnaalum nambiduveengala da?” I feel that this dialogue appears to be applicable to all the periods of our society.

Adhe Kangal – ‘Romantic thriller backed by a stellar performance’

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Spoilers ahead…

As the movie kick-starts, for a while, the proceedings tend to be pleasing with a feel-good makeover. In this sequence, we get a glance of the one-sided love of Sadhana (played by Janani) on her friend Varun (Kalaiyarasan) and the blossom of a love between Varun and Deepa (Sshivada). Locations scouted and visuals captured with aesthetic sense add value to this preliminary segment of the movie. In spite of possessing all these glass half full aspects, the plain narration here, is what that makes room for the audience to form a cursory view pertaining to the plot and the course of the movie.

Here, it is quite obvious that one would get back the memories of Director Gautham Vasudev Menon’s 2007 Tamil romantic thriller, Pachaikili Muthucharam. At this point of time, in the movie, we get introduced to a sharp turn in the screenplay. But, the happenings post this twist, in no way dilutes our guesses on the movie’s story line. Rather, it adds further strength to our assumptions.

But, for a while, soon after the meet up of Varun with Panju (Balasaravanan), the serious tone of the movie shifts gear to a comical one, aided predominantly by Balasaravanan’s forte i.e., timing in the dialogue deliveries. At this juncture, the movie seem to get derailed from its actual course of a romantic thriller and the serious mood that it has been proffering the audience till then. But, the deviations get brushed aside quickly and the narration gets back on its track. Here, the stage gets well set for a perfect thriller.

Post interval, director Rohin Venkatesan seems to be so focused about the point towards which the movie is destined. But, his approach in narration tends to be different in such a way that we get a genuine comical sequence (Once again Balasaravanan comes to the fore assisted effectively by the Temple Monkeys fame Abdool) followed by a serious one. This keeps playing in a loop until the antagonist gets reintroduced in the screenplay.

In Tamil Cinema, female leads rarely get a meaty role to captivate the audience with their performances. Adhe Kangal is one such rare instance. Even though Sshivada appears briefly with a fine display in the earlier portion of the movie, she thoroughly dominates over the rest of the actors, with a stellar performance, in the post interval segment. Amidst those not-so-new sequence of events, the elegance of Sshivada in the slo-mo shots are as arresting as those of Nayanthara in Billa. Be it the girl-next-door enactment or the villainous portrayal or the stunts, she seems to look thoroughly invested in the proceedings.

In a nutshell, Sshivada could well be described as an actress who could fittingly enjoy being in the list of actresses whom people admire to be the crush of all seasons. Not to forget the aspect that ably supplements Sshivada’s role… the catchy song, Thandhiraa by Ghibran. What better appealing lyrics could well define the character of ‘Vasundhara’ than the lyrics of Anuradha Narayanan in Thandhiraa? Despite possessing ample glitches that act as hindrances in rendering a perfect romantic thriller, Rohin’s debut product still manages to offer a lot of takeaways with the primary one being Sshivada!