FRS: The Mummy

 

TheMummy1 copy

So, we all know what FRS is right? Right?

Vacation’s over boys!

-101: Narration, even if it is in Russel Crowe’s voice also cheating-like. Because narration brings in a point of view but the rest of the film doesn’t even acknowledge that. What’s this da big holly.

-23: Tired Russel Crowe is extremely tired, maybe it is his character, maybe it is us. We are extremely troubled when our favourite actors land such roles. Taking this opportunity to welcome Kamal Haasan to Big Boss. Hi.

+25: Speaking of favourite actors: Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

A word on Cruise, let’s give the critics the benefit of the doubt, he does play the same character in every film, which of course is ‘pop criticism’, but we have a feels that Cruise knows what he is doing because at 50+, he was able to bring out something as exciting as Rogue Nation.

There is no actual rule that a screenplay should not lend itself to its larger than life lead actor, in fact it requires some really smart writing.

Boys and Cruise is among the last of the old world Hollywood type movie stars da, like that only.

-50: Speaking of smart writing, Tom Cruise being chased by a 5000-year-old Mummy who thinks he is her chosen one, like really this is the Nagesh arc from Utharavu Indri Ulle Vaa

+22: These ancient Egyptians are very specific in their rituals, so elaborate

-100: Elaborate Egyptian rituals can be interrupted

-343: Movie rests entirely on the above point

-5: Bossugal of Egypt think that Mummifying is the worst of punishments not realising that it is the most favourable situation for Hollywood Bossugal

+6: Hero does not say the useless overused line “I hate mummies” in this franchise

-21: Hero thinks stealing and protecting artefacts are the same, although he is not Indiana Jones. Hero does not belong in a museum

+23: Bug-Calling: the pioneering tech to communicate in Antman seems like walkie-talkie because The Mummy can do all that without tech only.

+56: Over-powerful Mummy is over-powerful.

TheMummy2 copy

It’s like unbeatable Mummy meets (Mission) Impossible Cruise

+5: We actually came up with the above line

FRS Rule of Thumb: Whenever main villain is captured and put on full display, you can bet your house in Adayar and that estate in Conoor that villain will surely escape.

-3: Conoor

-1: Adayar

-192: Hero sleeps with heroine as mark of love, this is mentioned multiple times in the film but never actually shown. Boss, why do you think we watch English films in the first place (dubbed also same). Please convey to concerned department.

-76: American hero saying “What the hell” when they don’t know what is happening

 

+50: Very good to decent (we give range, for specific data we are not one IBM) action sequences, I mean you don’t really care about Mummies getting hit left right and centre, but it is fun and funny, there is even a Raiders type fight in the lorry.

-10: American archaeologists immediately get into, “what we have here is a 2000-year-old artefact” kind of voice recording which works ok as exposition, but second and third time it is like over professional, boring even

+101: Hero’s friend: yeah yeah he is funny, but then also (no spoilers) LOL this is one of the films where they give a twist to the companion character and much welcome change this is.

 

+5 Tom Cruise running away from things

From a strategic career point of view, I hope he runs away from what this franchise will become, oh wait, there is more. Strike that out.

-35.9: This concept of power, like u were first Pharaoh of one region, suddenly you want to rule whole world. Why? All your IAS officers are doing so well?

Also if you are princess of Egypt, high chance you will not inherit throne, not unlike modern times. Someone said history repeats itself, someone was right.

So, if we keep repeating this statement (which is ‘history repeats itself’) then we will be proving that person right. Right?

+22: Double Pupils

-208.112: Actually, we had decided in one FRS board meeting that we should not cut points for lack of originality, or lack of ideas or something along these lines. Because we believe that very few can come up with something new, see like this FRS itself is one modified (read as copy) format, but this and all if we see…Nevermind.

But still when you have the wealth of content with you (some 300 Universal monsters) … Hollywood Bossugal must revisit this whole franchise funding.

tenor

Oh before we go, there is no Rachel Weisz in this thing, we have no idea how many points we should cut for that alone.

 

Yours Sincerely

THE FRS Team

A LhF Production

Subam

Vanakkam

Anbe Sivam: What sort of design is this?

Something that I have observed during the course of this ongoing education called movie watching is that when characters are faced with loss or suffering or even an unattainable dream eventually tend to receive it in some form.

This as I see it, is to bring about balance to the character, the way in which this cycle happens can be as direct as a revenge drama or something as poetic and long drawn as Gollum losing it before the lord of the rings begins, only to hold it again in his last moments at the very end. 

It here refers to the one ring of course.

(My god what a precious arc!)

If there is loss, there is gain; unless we are watching some harrowing tragedy. Which is a different topic altogether

 

This loss and gain, of course I assumed was a part and parcel of story writing and very noticeable, and this can happen to supporting characters as well and when done well, resonates.

Let us now come to Anbe Sivam, one of the few things we know about ad filmmaker Anbarasu is that he is currently in love and had lost his brother earlier in a cricketing accident; this at face value seems like a backstory to explain his nervousness around bloodshed; the fact that a character has lost his brother and is now almost about to get a new brother didn’t strike me till today.

 (Slow mind eh)

Waitees, but Anbarasu doesn’t get a brother back!

His loss is not actually balanced, he almost gets a brother back. Difference, small yet key to this post.

Waitees again, we are still with Anbarasu; there is again a disturbance at balance. 

An unknown kid caught in a horrendous train accident and fortunately shares the same blood group as Anbu; the blood is obviously the connect here since Anbu’s brother’s bloody death was in many ways the biggest loss that Madhavan’s character has faced (or at least this is what the movie tells us)

In a usual film of course this would have been the balancing point, matching blood groups and saving the kid which will make Anbarasu overcome his fear and grow for the later part of the film.

Waitees, but Anbarasu does grow and become a different person through the course of the story but the outcome of these almost balancing points are exactly the opposite of the usual.
Nalla (Kamal) doesn’t stay and fill the void of a fallen brother nor is Anbu’s blood enough to save a boy’s life.

Summary: so you have a structure or a road-map , you almost reach the end but then turn the other way; this I see it as a way to introduce some amount of randomness, even if controlled into the story.

A point where the screen writer knows what should be done next if the film is to take its usual course, but doesn’t (want?) do it.

 I imagine at these balancing points, the writer putting down his hand on the table, hoping the pen would somehow write down the next few words.

It is amazing. Really.

AS1

I guess that this didn’t strike me on previous viewings because I was not looking for it and of course there are other very fulfilling  themes in Anbe Sivam which is why it has endured for me.

Small addition to this ‘aberration’ from usual is the name of Poun, which here denotes two characters, one of course is the street theater artist  who dies in the bus accident which also disables Kamal, and also the aforementioned small kid who mumbles the same name.

Again the lead comes close, but doesn’t quite make it.

Doesn’t quite get what he is wanting.

Important to note that Anbe Sivam is not a tragedy.

While loss is not balanced by gain, loss by itself is not tragic, whenever a character in Anbe Sivam gives away or loses something it feels heroic and it feels real because there is no return of this ‘giving away’ much like in real life.

Real life doesn’t have the comfort of a writer’s balance. Real life is really random but filled with common folk out there making choices beyond their imagination.

Maybe the film is about giving after all.How else would we experience Anbu?

Maybe, we are just over-reading as usual, let us know what you think.

 

 

 

The Stuff Stories are made of: Vasool Raja MBBS

Are all stories, the same?

Ever since I heard about the monomyth or hero’s journey, I have been intrigued; the fact that all the stories at some level are the same may seem disturbing, some writers even might find it alarming, readers might think they are reading the same stuff again and again, Manmohan Singh might feel that we are all dead in the long run anyways.

Joseph Campbell, the proponent of the hero’s journey(or mono myth theory) came into pop consciousness when George Lucas did not stop with using the monomyth in the creation of Star Wars, but went on to call Joseph Campbell ‘his Yoda’. Hollywood has since churned out innumerable films year on year. His book, the hero with a thousand faces is a goldmine for writers.

Anything that is universal, must tug at the heartstrings of the viewer, make them connect themselves with one or more of the characters to follow the length of the story and at the end of it, have something to mull upon or even bring about a change in themselves.

 

This is the reason why I chose Vasool Raja MBBS as Exhibit A to see if this hero’s journey holds true and also it is one my favorites and the movie and its message has remained intact for me, even after multiple rewatch-als, I’m sure many would say the same about Munnabhai which is of course the parent film. I would also like to assume that it is a widely watched film, so that we need not dwell on plot details.

Another reason for choosing Vasoolist was because a comedy film is not so frequently dealt with when it comes to the theory of monomyth, here is a chance to see if the theory sustains immaterial in which genre it is applied to.

 

An education in management has made me look for frameworks for every damn thing, and yes there is a framework for(every damn thing) ,this one comes from Dan Harmon, the creator of Community.

 

community

Reduced to the most basic level, the story (read any story) can be expressed in the form of a circle, begins and ends at the same point.

Harmon divides the circle into four quadrants and 8 markers

But first let us look at the circle in two halves, the hero’s world is divided into known and unknown, a hero must move from a place of comfort to an unknown place. The moments in the story too work within these halves.

 

g01_orderchaos-jpg

Specifically with respect to Vasool Raja MBBS (from now Vasool) the order and chaos are represented by his rowdy state and his wish to be a doctor represented by the hospital state.

g02_rowdydoctor

Now we will proceed to go over the story traversing the eight points as mentioned in Harmon’s framework.

Stage 1: Character in comfort

g03_thecircle-jpg6

 

The most essential thing in the journey of the hero is the hero himself/herself, at the beginning they are in a place of comfort, something like how Raja (Kamal) is introduced in the film. With his buddies, going about his job; there is even a dialogue which explains his way of work (2% commission)

Stage 2 : Hero Wants Something

g04_thecircle

Although something or someone doesn’t let things remain the same way, the journey begins with the hero’s want to do something, the trigger could be internal or external; mostly external.

Here when Raja’s parents are insulted by Dr. Vishwanath (Prakash Raj), he decides to become a doctor, the want here on one level is to become a doctor and irritate the hell out of Dr. Vishwanath, but at a deeper level is to fulfill his father’s wish of becoming a doctor  (Hero Onnu sonna senjukaatanum, adhan hero)

Stage 3: Hero enters the other world

g06_thecircle5

This is a direct consequence of the previous stage, something like to become a wizard Harry needs to go to Hogwarts, similarly to become a doctor Vasool Raja needs to join a medical college, of course here he takes the route of the fraud (93.5 FM)

Stage 4: Hero adapts to this new world

g07_thecircle9

Getting accustomed to how a class,college and hostel function and how much it is different from his earlier Vasool phase, although it is not alarming for Raja when compared to say the Ringwraiths who chase Frodo, basically this is coming face to face with the reality (and dangers) of the other world. Raja also begins to understand this hospital world.

Now he is well out of his comfort zone (remember the two halves)

Stage 5: Hero gets what he ‘wants’

g08_thecircle

This is the tricky one, heroes like most of us do not really know what they want, they might have more than one targets, sometimes they might get what they did not plan for, drifting away from what seemed like their initial goal.

Here Raja doesn’t really want to become a doctor, he is content with his current position where he is able to irritate doctor Vishwanath, but he achieves other things like new friendships and love (with Dr. Janaki), his gregarious nature and helping tendency make him a darling at the hospital. (kattipudi vaidiyam)

Stage 6: Hero deals with loss

g09_thecircle

Raja somewhere believes that a doctor is not just one who treats diseases but a care giver to the heart , testimony is his ability to heal people with humour and hugs, but even his best of interests cannot save the life of Zakir , the cancer patient. Raja’s inability to do anything when a man dies in his arms makes him question the very journey he has taken.

14

Stage 7: The Return

g10_thecircle

In the penultimate stage Raja is convinced that he is not going to achieve anything by prolonging his stay at the hospital, he feels responsible for giving hopes to a dying man; in the end concedes defeat to Dr. Vishwanath (again recollecting how his parents were made to do the same) and literally walks back to never become an MBBS, the return.

Stage 8: The Change

g11_thecircle

Raja is now back to where he started, though he doesn’t want to go back to his ‘Rowdy’ days. But time has changed and it has brought his parents back, they too realise that they have been hard on their son for not becoming a doctor.

He is now a changed man.

17

There and back again.

g12_thecircle

18

Epilogue

An ending in a circle is in fact the point of beginning, this story of the hero might have ended, but the journey is continuous. Real heroes accept the change and learning that comes with the circle and set off on another adventure, hopefully a different one.

A framework is merely a way of understanding concepts in an easier way, there is even further scope in the framework when we drill down to the characters, I am not trying to establish that this is the only way to look at stories, but this is certainly one way and I tried it with my favourite movie.

Again a framework is not a rule book, things need not happen in all these stages, some might be skipped, maybe not in the same chronology, start somewhere in the middle and make your way both sides.The potential is immense.

The point here is that a framework gives you the freedom to experiment with it, even break down. Dan Harmon’s Community is a telling example of how imaginative you can be in using a system.

The commonalities established with examples from the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and even Star Wars and yes Vasool Raja MBBS too, brings about a feeling of universality in the way think, tell and consume stories. Yes stories can all be the same and still be different in the telling.

Do let us know if you liked this way of looking at film, do let us know if you think it is number one quality hogwash as well.

Thank You19