A New Beginning

AnbeSivam1Kamal Haasan (KH) announced that he would retire from films from barring Vishwaroopam 2 and Indian 2, not surprising at all. The fact to be noted is that both are extensions of his previous works and sadly not something new.

‘Something new’ would be the murmur of those who walked out of a Kamal film, even for the truest of fans, the films would be things that couldn’t be described at a moment’s notice.

Notice that KH has been very cautious about his late career, not wanting to be another curd rice eating lion (his phrase for the later phase of Nadigar Thilagam) but somewhere along the line he too had realized that it was time.

Time is of the essence, something that resonates in Kamal’s cinematic swan song “Uttama Villain” in which an ageing superstar has to balance between his final act to right his wrongs and his final act (in a movie) with his mentor.  For me the last Kamal consummate performance.

Performance that has no end is of interest, one song from the film claims. Yes we have finally reached the point in the universe that there would be no more waiting for a Kamal film. Waiting and patience, the two characteristics that binds even unlike Kamal fans of which there are many.

Many careers come to an end, but few leave a lasting impact; while in fields which are driven by statistics (hi sports), achievements  which will always be broken. Performance artists on the other hand achieve near immortality thanks to their craft and can comfortably disregard numbers.

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Numbers too are surprisingly in Kamal’s favour; in a career spanning almost sixty years he has played from camp to class and what lies between.  Take 1982 for instance which gave the Tamil movie going public both Sakalakalavallavan and Moondram Pirai. This is not a singular occurrence Sagara Sangamam came with Sattam, Nayagan came with AVM’s Paer Sollum Pillai, Virumandi and Vasoolist etc etc etc and it is hard to imagine any other actor who can withstand this stretch consistently and still look natural.

Naturally, his multifaceted nature attracted different kind of fans. His long career has ensured that there was a constant churn in admiration, old fans becoming disillusioned allowing new ones to take their  place. An example would be a generation that still believes that KH was the coolest in the 80s, while another set claim he peaked in the 90s, some say he should just direct and not act, others don’t want him behind a megaphone, some want him to even work with youth directors (LOL). Personally, it is KH’s ability to be all this and more that makes me revisit the films.

Films (of his) are all that we will have of him in the future (not discounting the interviews), and it is surely exciting to revisit them not just as a fan, but as an explorer of the medium. Especially now, when there very little to expect. You have given me a lot to work with and all the best for your future endeavors, Kamal.

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FRS: TSK

So we all know what FRS is right? Right?

<Slow narration in deep voice, usually male>

“The FRS was supposed to be a weapon of limited use, it has been so faulty as a device that even multiple upgrades have failed to better it ( hi to Microsoft system update), but the FRS (having a mind and life of its own) seems to have overstayed its shelf life far exceeding the expectations of those founding fathers (no mothers) who first thought of this nonsense crazy concept.  We thank all those film makers who keep the FRS alive.

Indha FRS ungalukku samarpanam <not translating>

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-1008: too much self-importance, no one cares about the FRS. More points should be cut for the FRS team which hates narration to use narration to begin this piece.

-5: Ganavelraja credited when someone from background asks “Do you have money? (In tamil, here we are translating, earlier we didn’t ok) because he is producer. Oh so funny. Studio Green fans can unite.

-5: Director credited when same voice over says “you have very bright future” #yeppa

-9.07: The usual-unusual method of hero introduction of showing hero’s fingers, mouth etc before showing face; while showing face and while “GETONWITHIT” would have been best way, what will the first day fans do otherwise. Also first words spoken by our hero is “jeichiduvom” (translated to we will succeed, ofc)

+1: GETONWITHIT

+23: Hero is very positive attitude based; also he is quick to provide two line summaries of goals, life and leadership and destiny. Hero’s friend is normal but.

-42.56: Hero breaks policeman’s neck, then breaks into a song “Sodakku”, suddenly whole of Chennai is celebrating, no one knows why #IntroSongParidhabangal

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-12: Hero blames system and their location for lack of jobs but doesn’t stop to address the issue of skills required for the job or the training. While opportunity (or lack of) is always the issue in such ‘hero saves his surroundings’ movies but we have always been asked to accept that the hero is skilled at face value, there is absolutely no learning curve established because mastery at anything comes with continuous…oh my god..GETONWITHIT…

-8: All rich people are not just bad but greasy palmed slave traders who profit off the spine of the bent labourer, while this may be true; again we have to accept this at a moment’s notice.

<FRS Mini Bytes>

Arthur C Clerk’s third law: any sufficiently underwritten Mass hero movie will be indistinguishable from the hero’s projected image in real life

Like here Suriya’s height is one major point to address, then how he avoid swear words but uses them only when the time comes, regular call backs to the hero’s other films etc.

All this exists in abundance

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-45: All songs whenever wherever

-32.5: Role of heroine is to make hero fall in love in <wait for it> 1….2…..3… oh my god they are cute couple now…seconds…

-62: Time and again we have fought for the rights of those who play the hero’s friend, very pitiable state

-5: Community of heroine or adopted community of heroine is explained in detail but to no real relevance to plot, oh I forgot hero gets to call her as maami. No other community is established anyways.

-89.42: Heroine knows classical dance means she will practice with children in balcony only, no other place, how else…i mean

+22: Hero sitting with kids dressed as bharatiyar means he is going to say something very uplisting

Number of kids dressed up as bharatiyar is tooo damn high!

-101: Ramyakrishnan says she has x number of daughters because in her days of youthful marriage there was no tv/radio and hence nothing much to do; this is delivered as a comic track

+12: Closely follows the adage that festival films should be colourful, Holi has been so highly adopted by Tamil heroes that entire temple floors are coloured with red colour powder.

+15: Some humour here and there

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Acting: a new dimension

The whole acting in this film is defined by how aggressive do actors put-on/ off their cooling glasses, this means that we have sit through 4600 shots of frustrated villains adjusting their sun glasses 

#ColorKannadiParidhabangal

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-29: After sometime story doesn’t know where it is going so introduces one more villain, what is this da, demand based hiring?

-23.17: Movie is called Thaana Serndha Kootam but shows a lot of process of hiring thus telling that this is not a natural crowd but one that has been assembled, then how thaana serndha…seri namakku en

+75: Hero combats corruption with corruption (fighting fire with fire types)

+11: Audience made to digest that this movie is made in 80s because buses and dresses are colourful and TR movies are being released.  #PeriodFilmParidhabangal

-67: Senthil still doing Petromax comedy is funny (in the filmmakers head)

-23: It is not a film shot in Hyderabad, if there is no shot of the hero walking around the Charminar

Something something happens, obviously even two villains are not as skilled as hero and after an outrageous climax all his well

But not before hero has time to tell his message.

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+14: Movie predicts that movie ticket prices will increase, interesting foreshadowing but if we look at it from the point of ….well…GETONWITHIT….no one cares, this is supposed to by smartly written ‘festival’ film with roller coaster family audience magnetic heroic films with social angle in lighter tone

+189: Film believes that no one gives anyone an opportunity and you have to take it yourself: we still don’t know if this is the underlying philosophy of Tamil rockers, because like hero and co can adopt slightly shady methods to give justice but common people should watch films only in theatre etc…

Shubam

Ungal Naam

The FRS Team

Vanakkam

 

The Aunty Terror Squad

FYC: Spyder

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Has there been any Hollywood movie that has influenced so many Indian filmmakers within a short while than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight? Maybe it is about the obsession with creating an antagonist.

Oh but I’m only thinking out loud, but it could really be the next on the ‘movies-we-look-up to-for-immediate-inspiration’ after Coppola’s The Godfather.

But the Batman and Joker are already part of larger conscious because of decades of multimodal existence, making it easier for writers to evoke invested past strands and bring to life the characters; it is not the same case in a Telugu-Tamil bilingual; a genre where a master in the culinary arts would not feel out of place.

Such movies are not called masala for nothing.

The Dark Knight is a (dark) blockbuster superhero movie, the near equivalent from what we have is the south Indian mass masala.  While some of it can be considered as comic, but here the word does not refer to periodicals out of which characters leap out of.

Mass masala by itself depends much on its leading man and the story gives into him. By that very statement it means that these films are meant to work only for those who buy into the charms (or lack-of) of the star.

Which means that for the most part the writer-directors are restricted in their choice of ingredients, sometimes they have to make do with just one condiment, more often than not trick the audience by throwing garam masala in our eyes.

AR Murugadoss seems to, in my eyes at least an expert chef who can find different uses for the same ingredient.

(I am really overdoing this samayal-cinema analogy, must come to the point before things get over cooked)

Under The Influence

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I believe more than the act of being inspired by another work, it is more important to know why that particular inspirational moment worked and think before replicating it.

Spyder’s hero does what Batman wanted Lucius Fox to do, listen in on people; while the ethical ramifications of spying are superficially dealt, they provide a convincing motivation for the lead; to prevent crime before it happens.

Yes, this could be the pre-crime from Minority Report but it could also be the inversion that is seen in ARM films like making a Vijaykanth film without making a Vijaykanth film?

The hero becomes a mass hero as a reaction to personal tragedies or societal atrocities, but can he/she really still be called a hero by preventing events from happening and not let the world know?

But it isn’t really an inversion unless you follow through with the act of an unseen hero, ultimately compulsions prevail and there is a love track and so there must be songs and an overblown climactic fight which makes you forget the questions that the film tried to raise earlier.

Especially notable is when Madan Karky rhymes mosam with awesome and concludes love is eternal much like plastic.

But Spyder is still somewhere there and even these commercial elements are not without joy.

Who Wants To Be A Hero?

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Earlier in the Spyder, a scene made me reflect on an underlying theme in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, that every person is capable of heroism, Bruce obviously states this in the concluding chapter but there are enough visual examples.

The way the common folk are involved in the events that happen to the city, not just as observers but as  active participants, they are not alienated in the good vs. evil battle nor are they just used as bait for the hero to rescue.

But why?

In Spyder’s best segment which lasts about 20 minutes, has nothing to do with Mahesh Babu  or the antagonist S J Suryah, but about common people (middle aged ladies in this case) finding courage to do what they would not normally do and lend a helping hand beyond possible imagination.

It worked totally for me and convinced that this involvement of the nameless with whom we can identify, add to how we receive a film.

Yes yes, S J Suryah character and how he seems to have played it tries to match Heath Ledger’s Joker in every step, but then there is more to the Dark Knight trilogy.

Only if we choose to see, hence for your consideration.