What’s Music Doc? Mazhai Vara Pogudhe

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No one really shoots songs like Gautham Menon, even folks who don’t like his films will like to sit through the songs, which is the opposite of what they would do for other directors.

In 2015’s Yennai Arindhaal (If you know me), Ajith Kumar plays Satyadev, an honest cop, honest to a fault in fact; explaining this song would need a little bit of context setting because the song itself is placed somewhere midway.

So yes, Satya had just driven out a gangster ‘Golden’ Raj from his house after literally stripping him, yes the price that one has to pay for offering bribes to DCP Satya, this honesty is also emphasized by means of harsh dialogue. Also worth mentioning is that Satya lives alone, naturally a dry life.

Happy and honest but dry.

The song is not a meet-her-the-first-time kindoff song, in fact Hemanika (Trisha) and Satya have met before in not so normal circumstances and a magistrate court is not even a romantic place, but this is where Satya realizes that he actually likes her. So stiff DCP goes and watches mock dance drama and all.

Even if you are Thala, you will find difficulty in getting a girl’ s number and even the usually honest DCP has to resort to other ‘tactics’ to proceed in this matter.

This is where the song starts.

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I really liked it when text in the form of SMS was used to move the narrative in Sherlock, here GVM employs the same technique, it might not add to the character as it does in Sherlock, but surely expresses the uneasy waiting moments that the hero goes through, in fact with every successive text message our hero softens.

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And then it rains.

Dry life and all that washed away. Hence Mazhai Vara Pogudhey.

GVM cuts back and forth between Satya punching goons and Hemanika correcting ‘mudras’ of her disciples, this is not just some love song in Swiss magic backgrounds, this a love song of two professionals going on about their work.

Both hand-to-hand combats, but of a different kind.

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Also notice that the song is used as a catalyst to push time, so it does not seem severely out of place when Satya proposes to her, this is a recurrent GVM theme; single mother who speaks in monosyllable, confident hero who plans far ahead; but look at at the way how it all comes together at the end of the song. Conveys so much five minutes of a song that even after an hour of talkies some directors fail to get.

Satya reaches Hemanika’s house, gives her flowers and there is a hand holding, he is firm/confident but she is unsure, concerned for her daughter perhaps or too shy admit, I dunno it could be anything.

However moments later in the song (almost an evening has passed in their life), there is another hand holding, but this time Hemanika is relaxed, they are alone.

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This tricky relationship is so well carved out in the song, in fact superior to the scene when they actually discuss it out in the open.

This song is story telling.

 

I am not saying this is a perfect song, in fact the Satya and Hemanika walking through malls and Satyam cinemas montage does become repetitive(wink and you will miss a VV reference), but GVM understands songs and where they are placed and their outcome, this one in particular I feel. How much of Hemanika we connect to (which is important for the rest of the film) solely lies in the success of Mazhai vara Pogudhey.

Through her, we see him (yes that is a GVM-ish line, but i’ll risk it) . Superb design.

Songs(in films) are not for relief as some directors would like to say, songs are not even embellishments or travel opportunities to far flung nations, they are very much part of the narrative, when used wisely they could become the director’s greatest ally.

Yes it is a great song to hear, one of my favorite Karthik solos, Harris as usual delivers and one can listen to this number day and night, but taking it with the context of two people coming together within the movie and how it denotes things to come, it is bloody brilliant!

And they say there is no use for song in films.

 

<What’s music doc? is an occasional short column to be put together on the influence of film music or the inability to explain the influence of film music or some such thing>

 

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FRS:Thangamagan

A note on the Fawlty Rating System (FRS)

*Initially thought about in 1934, it came to fruition only in the late 2000s.

*It is the only movie rating system in the universe to be based on a Buddhist scroll that was actually written by an Irish traveller who had been an assistant director in the movie “Birth of a nation”, the scroll was curiously titled “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari to make a Baahubali”

*The rating system is now named after than Irish Traveller, a small portions of proceeds from this review will go to a bhel puri vendor in an undisclosed street corner for secret reasons.

*All numbers and words are arbitrary, mostly imaginary. They do not mean anything

A note on the Fawlty Rating System Ends

Movie: Thangamagan

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-321.3 : Movie begins with hero voice over, introducing himself, family, house etc. (thus being the 1001th movie to do so).

+231 Movie referencing another movie plot so as to indicate that this is basically that movie, hence making it easy for audience to sit and eat popcorn

-56: Guys will go to temple to find girls

-102: Heroine’s mother believes going to temple increases culture quotient

-3: Hero will fully shave to look young

+4 Growth of beard indicates responsibility, making me wonder about another famous tagline “with a great moustache, comes great responsibility”

-7 Heroine is architect will build house for herself without hero’s parents

-56 The continuing problem of the loyal hero friend cliché, maybe perfect example of “supporting” role

-20 Understanding wife is absolutely understanding

-12 Understanding mother is absolutely understanding

-12 Understanding father is absolutely understanding, innocent also

-10 Hero’s father is so cool, because he treats him like friend cliché

-156.7 Cousin becomes film villain because hero went to temple without him to see figure/heroine number one

-203 This is entire driving point for the story, no really

-3 Darjeeling

-18.9 Hero comfortably named so as to mouth punch dialogue

+564 Rock behind hero’s house

-2 Overall Drama

-234.6666 Money is not everything, family is. OK.

 

That’s all, nothing more to say.

 

 

 

 

 

A STRANGENESS MORE THAN NIGHT

A CK and MM Review Mystery

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Caustic Kumar  looking for a face he could recognize through the controlled darkness of the pub, mouthing something he had been thinking over and over again, “who keeps a meeting in such a place?”

“We do”

It was the chief, his thin frame had been accentuated by the darkness, pencil in the night. His white David Lynchian hair bent forwards when he spoke.

“Important night CK, someone just told me that the Laureate must be prepared for a hostile takeover”

“What! I can’t see any one reason anyone would want to buy The Laureate!”

“So did I”, said calmly the chief “But it is in this pub that I am to meet the informer, I had called you to tell that if things go the wrong way, let the piece on Thoongavanam be the last one you write for us”

CK did not understand, this could have been conveyed by a simple text message, an even easier free Whatsapp message, more importantly he could not come to terms with the fact that that the only establishment that thought him fit to be employed is actually being taken over, could this be the end?

He turned to convey the same to chief, but the chief had silently slipped away, a near distant light showed the location of the bar, legs moved involuntarily.

“Thoongavanam” CK repeated

MM appeared out of nowhere, like a genie waiting for a keyword, he shouldn’t be here, but CK was willing to put down everything in the disbelief component of his brain.

CK: “I’m sure you’ve seen it too Mod” (looking visibly disturbed)

MM: not once, but twice, and I absolutely loved it.

CK: this is even after seeing Nuit Blanche (the movie on which the latest Kamal movie is based)

MM: Look here, CK; we are the only ones who have seen the French film and we wouldn’t have seen it if not for the fact that Thoongavanam was in the works, but I guess I like Thoonga more.

CK: Nuit Blanche was a straight-jacketed action thriller, engrossing and feverishly cinematographed and leaving no room for extensions

MM: unless of course if Kamal Haasan takes up scripting duties…

CK: when I saw Thoonga for the first time, I was only doing mental comparisons scene by scene, how Thoonga is different but at the same time retains much of the core of Nuit Blanche.

MM: the detailing, the back stories, in NB the hero is a regular detail-less action hero, but here CK Diwakar is played by Kamal and that means that he will have issues, women, children and morals

CK: Kamal has rarely written and played any character without any noticeable motivations, remember that line from Vishwaroopam ?

(“I have a lot of emotional baggage”)

MM: Yes digging a little deeper, here in the improved screenplay there is a bit of detailing for everyone who partake in the back story of Diwakar and in that we are able to connect with the problem of the hero, like his wife, his colleagues and even his adversaries; but then again the characters Kamal play are increasingly becoming like ‘him’

CK: that is only scratching the surface type reading of a film, let us look at it this way, how much of value has been added when Kamal has taken up scripting duties, obviously you are not going to touch the action sequences

MM: which were done exceedingly well, I might add, finally had moments on screen when I was bothered who was getting hit and by whom

CK: and why is that? Because we know the characters, at least to the extent of what Kamal is willing to tell us, like say the importance of soya milk or how cell phones have replaced watches, when all this happens, when you put in characters of flesh blood in a setting much like this pub, you actually feel for their lives, dismissing them as extrusions is quite troubling for me, Kamal just uses his ‘Kamal-ness’ to get the feeling about

MM: I wouldn’t still agree to the whole self-referential for a reason argument, but there is still something that is there in Thoonga that is very much absent in Nuit Blanche, the humour.

CK: Absolutely!

MM: But then at points I thought that this was in a way dampening the overall tension, this mixing of the genres, this trying to appease different sections of the theatre

CK: Mod, my only response to you for that will be that you are forgetting that you are watching a Tamil remake of a French film. Yes maybe strictly speaking in this type of a film there must not be any place for humour, but there has been films like Die-Hard…

MM: Oh no, wait! You are bringing up Die-Hard….

CK: I thought I would bring up the Shining as well, it is not that Thoongavanam flanks these movies, but strangely yes occupies the same mind space as these two, even more so in the case of the Shining, the hallways with doors that lead to unimaginable places, the restriction of the setting itself, here a pub named Insomnia and there The Overlook; the setting does things to the main characters. Movies should remind you of other movies, if the remembrances are good, there you go, if they were bad then I really don’t know what to say…

MM: And Die-hard because of the one man in the building against the villain type, yes I do think there is quite a bit of humour in most block buster material, still strange this mixing of genres and thoonga is hardly blockbuster material

CK: yes it is quite a strange film, which kinda gets more enjoyable when you know what is going to happen, because you sit there and see the other things like how a change in radio channel is used to denote time of day, the dripping ceiling denoting time past, plush interiors that somehow feel dreamlike and characters who walk in and out, just like that?

CK: Mod? Mod?

He calls out again to see no one respond, only again it is the barman who motioned for another drink.

CK: have I been talking alone all the while?

CK’s phone lightened up the dark place, obviously it was a Whatsapp message which read as thus

“No one is buying the Lowly Laureate, that’s the bad news; but I’ll kill you if you don’t send the Thoongavanam review, as it is you have declined doing a Vedalam review, because of your principles our readership is threatened . Add few nice words on the cinematography, engrossing music by Ghibran, Hollywood style making etc etc, send them soon, I mean by tonight, SOOON- Chief”

The chief didn’t realise that he didn’t need to sign himself in a whatsapp message, this old fashioned-ness made CK smile and he went to work, and it would be a sleepless night.