FRS: Seema Raja

So we all know what an FRS is right? Right? Let’s get on with it because this movie took seven hours to end.

 

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-300: The one millionth time when we see molten metal falling into the mould to create the movie title.

Here it comes with heraldry also. #MadeOfSteel types

 

-101: Some minor irritation happens and someone in the crowd shouts: “indha aniyayatha thatti ketka aale illaya?” and cue to SK introduction.

Yes this has been happening from Bhagavater times.

 

+12: SK has two horses named Alex and Telex #goodnames

SK also names his pigeons after Tom Cruise, Arnold, Obama etc

 

-10: Just when we thought director Ponram had done away with narration and ushered in a new age in commercial filmmaking, there is narration.

Damn narration.

 

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All narration about (insert regional language here) history is ultimately a glorified version of the (insert regional language here) past.

 

+21: SK breaks a wooden fence during introduction, uses pieces of the broken fence to continue action. We appreciate this reduce and reuse approach.

 

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98% of movies about villages will be about how one village is not able to get along with nearby village. Here it is Singampatty vs Puliampatti

 

+32: SK,Rajah of Singampatti is able to attract an audience of 11,000 people for his facebook live.

This is in a time when even Sunny Leone was able to get only just above 6K in a recent live stream. We will not speak about how we know about this Sunny Leone fact, matter ends there.

 

+101: Self referential movie is totally self referential

SK acknowledges this very fact in the opening song, when the oeuvre of director of Ponram is compared to “aracha maava araipoma” but even a talent is required for that.

Seema Raaja is essentially the SK-Soori combination and a lot of girl chasing thrown along the way; as usual getting the girl is the goal of the hero

 

-101: Even if hero is the rajah of Singampatti, goal of hero is: get the girl.

Here it is Samantha going under the name Sudhandhira Selvi (Daughter of Freedom?)

-54: Heroine says no means no, but hero tells story of phoenix bird which attempts to reach the sun at every possible attempt even after burning; heroine is amused and ultimately gives in to these ‘charms’. #ModernLove

-341: As usual, hero sings song in praise of farmers and how they never seek to gain profits

But never pauses to ask question what film producers seek to gain from such unabashedly profit making films.

-100: Ex-Lady Superstar Simran plays the baddie in this semi-rural film which means that audience need to understand that shouting will be a major character trait.

-29.8: At some point that movie becomes so boring that usually enthusiastic FRS writers themselves have stopped coming up with random FRS points and started to browse their mobile.

It was at this time that they could have seen the Sunny Leone instagram live stream, although we won’t talk about this anymore.

-54: That no one on-set had the courage to tell what Soori was doing is not funny.

-890.3: Movie suddenly tries to become Baahubali with an absolute force-fit for the ages with a story about Kadambavel Raja(also SK) who protected his land from invaders.

Since the present day story-line was not going anywhere, the story of Kadambavel Raja is echoed and Seema Raja also protects the land of his people etc from crony capitalists and middlemen etc

I mean… was this not boring while writing itself?

 

Seema Raja pushes the boundaries of boredom to such an extent that boredom is transformed into an irrepressible irritation, only very few movies are possible of doing such things. That itself is an achievement.

 

Also since most things are force fitted in the film, you can at least listen to what we have to say about pride and history in general.

 

If our pride should come from past glories, then we are failing in the present and will surely fall in the future as well.

 

Well, that is a depressing statement to finish an FRS with, so we will add some 20 marks for a CGI generated leopard which is there for laughs in this movie.

 

Regards

Team FRS

Vanakkam

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Parking Lot Notes: Vada Chennai

First Strike

 

Consider the carom board, a single strike shakes up an entire setup; displacing even disks that are not in the direct line of the striker.

Vetrimaaran,  believes that the impact of death has far reaching consequences even to those removed from the person. He supports these with the deaths of popular leaders; Rajiv Gandhi and MGR through the film.

 

<Eerily similar to how deaths of J and MK have in some way affected everyone in the state of Tamil Nadu>

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Vada Chennai begins with a gruesome murder; but we are constantly shown (and guided through Vetrimaaran’s narration) that this death would soon shake up things for all of the characters, and these characters come by the dozen.

 

Alliances that were forged in time look weak moments later and so begins a classic case of one gang vs the other in a fight over the city’s dominance.

 

Moments later, these gangs have divided amongst themselves two prison blocks and in-effect the city and there is one guy in between. This did remind me of A Fistful of Dollars; but nope the director is not just interested in the surface; let’s go deeper and show how the gangs establish their dominance and an economy within the prison; the stated revenues of which are astounding (Vada Chennai is a period film and the movie doesn’t try to be in the face about it).

 

I also got used to how the director keeps drawing attention back to the first murder; even if it at times it feels that he has gone pretty far away. Drawing back/moving forward is also done differently, sometimes it is just the voice-over;a visual cue here, an on-screen narration there, another time it is just a fade to white. I would really like to go over these punctuation again.

 

But what is always there in the background, how will THAT murder be avenged?

 

Second Strike

 

The title “Vada Chennai” too is very emblematic; represents a whole section of the city, referred here as “janam” but for most part the film is really about a select few from this population and the power they fight for; so when towards the end of the film when it moves towards the ‘us vs them’ narrative, the movie has a slight jarring effect. Maybe this has been done to elevate the story of Anbu? Only the sequels will tell.

 

Or to put it differently, there are far more interesting stuff for me in the film than the politics of gentrification, a subject touched upon by Kaala too earlier this year. For example, the thread of how history keeps repeating itself and how the players find themselves in different positions every time that happens.

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The kick-in-the head happens when the characters themselves realize this moment. Wow, that’s complex and damn good writing; to be able to feel what a secondary character is feeling (At one point it is Guna, at another point it is Chandra). Vetrimaran also throws in a clairvoyant who seems to be the only person who knows how this will all end. Superlative stuff.

 

Red & Follow

 

Yes, it does take it own time; but then this movie should. Even reading this as a basic revenge film needs convincing characters for viewers to revel in the avenging, but this isn’t just a basic revenge film.

 

The board is now set, the players are ready; we have a good game at hand.

Parking Lot Notes: First Man

Damien Chazelle’s First Man is an intimate portrait of the first man on the moon and not necessarily of his times; in absolute essence it is the tale of focus and realization. Look for the number of times the camera stays on the eyes of Ryan Gosling and then cuts to the solitary moon.

Unnaturally too for a space biography film which could have made us of the expanse, the camera lurks close to the astronaut and their families, but the emotions that come with the families are not not effective and as with most real lives do not readily lend themselves to drama.

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Ryan Gosling is fantastic as an distant archer with eyes always on target but using the moonshot as a way to get over his daughter’s death results leads to a contained movie.

This leads me to a question on the nature of bio-pics themselves; to establish the greatness of a person or in other words for a person to warrant a bio-pic shouldn’t the impact and hence the setting be also part of the story telling? Chazelle doesn’t seem to think so, but maybe he is right; everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon; here it is more about carrying the weight of ambition.

The Apollo Moon Landings is a very important moment in American history, it reestablished them as ‘the greatest country in the world’ and the ones who reached for the stars (to quote that monologue from the Newsroom) and to see a film that does not harp on this fact is a bit unnerving.

Probably greatness is incidental and that makes making greatness as the main goal pointless. To be the best versions of ourselves, space and time permitting seems a more fulfilling goal.

 

PS: The 2 biggies in the theatres currently (First Man & A Star Is Born) were both first optioned by Clint Eastwood; both were finished by others.