FRS: AAA

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So, you guys are quite familiar with what FRS is right? Right?

We have no idea why we keep asking this, but it cuts the cackle and come to the osses’.

Yes, that is a phrase.

It is a phrase like how AAA is a movie.

+500: This movie got made, absolutely. Like if you are screenwriter, which means you are also the director here and if you walk up to a financier and say that this is going to be my movie, we don’t know; maybe there a lot of risk hungry financiers out there or let’s just call this Avant-garde art film( we have no idea what it means, but if you are in a written quiz this phrase will fetch you part points somewhere), because none of us are equipped to even classify what AAA is.

What is AAA? Let’s find out seekers of the truth, let’s find out.

-5: above phrase has repetition, to add effect.

-389.108: narration irritations, like seventy years of movie making and people can’t kick this habit and in AAA we don’t even know who is narrating, some old fellow somewhere in dubai etc, the whole film is narrated in his POV but then again scenes are not written from his POV which means that we are shown things that he has no way of knowing, this is simple boss, why should we keep saying these things. Who is this narrator guy anyway? Troubling.

Just start with something like you guys know what FRS is right? Right? People who know will follow, others will find out, if they want.

-10: Dubai

-25: If hero goes to Dubai he will become a Don only (not oxford don, underworld don)

This is of course an extension of the rule, if hero goes to X location, he will become an underworld don only. No other occupation is worthy of the Tamil movie hero, he is either simpleton farmer, urban agitator or underworld don.

He protects the masses in all cases. Of course, gets the girl also.

Introducing let’s blame it on Godfather clause, ever since Coppola’s movie came out, every other filmmaker thinks it is the best profession for mass hero which results in over romanticising of illegal activities. Like have u guys seen Goodfellas or not?

-15: Madurai

If hero is from Madurai he will not be veterinary doctor, he will be ‘veritanama killer’ only, also obviously, he will work for a don there, like not even freelancing.

-30: Movie made with the assumption that even killing a life is justifiable, as long it is done by a hero.

+50: Hero syndrome: In AAA hero’s friends believe that Madurai Michael is special, but example of his speciality is ever displayed, yes he kills people for living, but then friends be like “Wow da dei super da, semma da”.

In real life, real friends assess you and bluntly put out your lack of talent in stuff out in the open.

Like how our friends tell us all the time that we suck at writing, but we continue to, maybe we should get some cinematic friends who praise even the shite that we write.

Nevertheless, this is becoming too emotional for us.

-10: Hero’s friends have no reason to be alive expect to sing praise of the hero.

Update to the reader: 500 words and we haven’t even come to the opening song sequence yet

We try and improve our vocabulary once in a while, like hey, we are writers you know and the new word we are using here is: demure.

-12: Demure lady falls in love with demolishing hero trope. Also, if you are contract killer in Madurai, you have enough time to do romance and all. Must be good profession.  But no work from home option available since it is an on the road job. Hmm.

+50: Opening song, hero claims that he is no one without us. (not the Laureate, us here refers to the audience at the large). Which is true because we buy tickets.

-17: Why will a town celebrate a contract killer, who like weekly kills one of their own is a big question that needs answering. Unless of course Madurai Michael and STR are used interchangeably.

-25: Heroine’s father portrayed like a stupid man who has a ‘thing’ for switches, the sad state of heroine’s father is a sorrow song in the history of tamil cinema.

Notice how Y Gee Mahendran has Bhiarava wig.

Everybody has a wig in Madurai, hair raising city.

-10: Mouth to mouth resuscitation which can bring back a life in emergencies is used for comedy effect

-10: Something something happens and we end up with an old STR who is an ex-underworld don but now in Chennai feeding pigeons under the alias Ashwin Thata.

Yes, really.

<Insert Interval Block here>

 

-12: Thata means not really thata, Simbu looks more like middle aged only, but I guess at this point in the movie they don’t really care.

-51: failed prosthetics is failed only. Gurunathar Michael Westmore will not be happy.

+34: Ashwin Thata wears good clothes that even IT employees don’t get to wear on fun Fridays.

If you don’t know fun Fridays, then you are better off not knowing.

+5: Tammanna aka Tammy plays a social worker who life mission is to bring happiness to the lives of elders.

+6: Since Tammy is doing this social service, we hope this will be followed by millions of youth

+11: Heavy duty Tammy dancing, not Devi level though

-57: All songs whenever, wherever, most mimic STRs previous films, tune setting everything

+5: veteran Nilu calling up STR and addressing him as Machi. LOL

Suddenly Tammy & thata become expert painters of portraits, when and where did they learn this art, do underworld dons go to summer camps with kids to learn water colors?

Interesting questions, no answers

A repenting ageing don, seeking to colour the rest of his life by joining a summer painting class. Now that’s a movie there. Go make it,  ideas are not only bulletproof, here we give it for free.

-91: Director thinks mere presence of Mottai Rajendran and Kovai Sarala will make us laugh like anything, like they need to do something hai na?

+100: Director gives three to four movies for the price of one, in fact AAA is an assemblage of all STR films put together, there is a monologue like VTV about love, there is the age difference love matter from Vallavan, there is the I will do anything for my friends thingy also from Vallavan, there is the “Dei all girls will ematify boys” from Manmadan, heck there is even a recreation of Thallipogadey from AYM with Mottai Rajendran and Kovai Sarala.

The last bit is a must watch for sophisticated GVM fans.

Yes, all of this is there in this one movie, in fact all of this happens in the second half which means that this movie has taken controlled randomness to a different level.

You know something is going to happen, but you don’t know what, but you can guess it is from an earlier STR film.

AAA itself is an existential film where STR lays out all his glories and worries right before the audience and asks them to choose what path he must take, it is really deep that way.

-56: Three four fights happen, but we didn’t really get what was happening

-26: Two hours into movie and director cannot decide if the movie is romance, gangster or comedy

-71: Tammy thinks (or director wants tammy character to think) Rajni+Kamal=STR (actual line, not extrapolated by FRS fact checking team)

-34: Hero spends two minutes explaining to everyone the ill effects of drinking.

Starts drinking next second

+68.91: Thikku Siva LOL Spoilers LOL

-145: General discourse on how boys and how girls are….yeppa yawn

<Insert cue for part two>

<Yes there is more>

Until then it is goodbye from

THE FRS Team

Subam

Vanakkam

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IT’S THE SAME THING, MR SIVAM!

HOW KURUTHIPUNAL AND THE DARK KNIGHT ARE ONE AND THE SAME

Well, almost the same. An essay.

“The mind sees what it wants to see”

The Da Vinci Code, 2006

The choice of opening quote from the Da Vinci Code might put you into a lot of worry, I know, but I simply love that movie. Nevertheless the movie has this brilliant quote which is so close to what I am trying to do here.

When you keep seeing a lot of movies, ok let me refine that, when you keep seeing a lot of movies, a lot of times; things just strike you, you begin to see things that you wouldn’t have cared about during your first viewing, you start to make assumptions based on thin connections, this article is a voice of all that goes into a head which makes these connections.

It could be frivolous to many who have reached this page, and this is what that gives me the nervousness.

Nevertheless, I begin.

Sometime after Inception was released, there was a Disney comic that was doing the rounds, written of course years and years ago which had the exact structure as that of Inception (A dream within a dream within a dream), we can hardly accuse Christopher Nolan of theft, but the interesting point here is the similarities in structure and how some things are quite universal.

Let’s now get to the wonderful police film Kuruthipunal, released in 1995 is actually based on a Govind Nihlani film Drohkaal which was released the previous year.

Then why doesn’t your article cite Drohkaal? You are bound to ask, I’ll come to that in a bit.

The starting point is of these kind of these connections are of course the interrogation scenes from Kuruthipunal.

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FEAR AS AN INSTRUMENT OF TERROR

The above subtitle would have been a better title for this whole piece, because that is what these two movies are essentially about. Two men; one with an ideology (Badri-Nasser) and another seemingly without (The Joker- Heath Ledger) make up the main antagonists, so critical to both the films

While the joker constantly plays on the subject fear and loss, not only on the main characters of the film, but also on the inhabitants of the city; similarly do Badri and his gang unleash terror on the common public and the honest police officers.

Interestingly both movies begin with an incident involving a school bus.

Well, all this too generic to see, every terrorist group will aim to do just that.

But Wait.

In the Dark Knight, the token of Harvey Dent is a coin, he keeps referring it to as chance- the fairest of all things in the world, but just look at it from here, a flip of a coin can indicate many things and among them is the change of sides.

WE ARE NOT AS STRONG AS WE THINK

The Joker keeps referring to himself and the Batman are one and the same, just on different sides, he also strangely says that he is able to understand the freakiness that is the Batman character and that Batman would do better on his side.

This is again exactly what Badri says to Adi (Kamal Haasan), but here it is not the freakiness that is in question, but honesty.

Both films have characters that have been lured by the tricks of the antagonist and cross over to the other side, Harvey Dent even asks “why me?”, but it was the Joker’s trick with everyone, only Harvey was not as strong as he seemed to be, similarly the case with Adi who accepts to become a terrorist informer for the sake of his family and friends.

Shake your belief to an extent that you topple and fall from grace, the death of Harvey Dent had far reaching consequences including a major cover up, similarly in Kuruthipunal, Kamal makes a last ditch attempt at honour even when fully realising that he can live no more without his honesty.

Thematically these movies are so similar because of the below: fear and faith, and most of the conversations in Kuruthipunal are about the same, while only the scale of events are different.

In the Dark Knight, as with most Batman lore is about the city, while Kuruthipunal is interestingly anonymous about the whole setting of the movie, there are few references to other places in the country, but invariably the setting seems anonymous, to imply what I believe is the universality of terror.

The terror groups in the film also represent the threat of the times in the south, although that could be reading into it too deeply.

Something which Kamal again touches upon in Unnai Pol Oruvan (again a remake, improved if I might add)

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The Dark Knight has three pivot characters around which the Joker operates, the Batman: The Dark Knight who as we know has many issues including one childhood girlfriend, Harvey Dent: The White Knight who also has girlfriend issue and then there is Commissioner Gordon who fears for the life of his family.

Ok, Kuruthipunal too has three central characters whose life is turned upside down by Badri, DCPs Adi and Abbas and Commissioner Sreenivasan (Director K Vishwanath). The transformations that these characters undergo because of the activities of the antagonist are what I think the most common element amongst them.

There can be no private life of a public protector

The Dark Knight however has this advantage of having a symbol that is incorruptible and hope giving, while Kuruthipunal and Drohkaal manage to bring the same story out with real life characters as opposed to comic book heroes.

That brings us to Drohkaal and why Kuruthipunal is more closer to the Dark Knight than its predecessor, on casual viewing you can say that Kuruthipunal is really better made, there are so many things that are added to the Tamil version that is not there in the Nihlani film, like for example extending the role of Abbas (Arjun) and involved action sequence on the platforms of the dimly lit Egmore Station, which still remains as chilling as I saw it the first time, cinematic differences aside which are many and bound to be when a film is being helmed by one Mr PC Sreeram, the structural similarities between the Dark Knight and Kuruthipunal is only heightened because the screenplay and dialogues (John and Kamal Haasan), because only through dialogue character motivations are completely brought out.

Drohkaal on the other hand brings it down to a more corrupt police vs good police generic concept.  But there is no denying what Kuruthipunal owes Drohkaal, the basic story.

While Kuruthipunal makes it a clash of cultures and ideologies as shown through the conversations between Kamal and Nasser, and this is what the Dark Knight tries to achieve by letting off the Joker against the Batman.

Both scenarios end with a sacrifice.

ENDING NOTE

All this analysis is for what? Any movie can be compared to anyone and with a convincing writer, connections can be established.

I am hardly a convincing writer and this is not a post of revelation, it is just a thought that has been doing the rounds for quite some time in my head, to look at the ideas that make these films as one fluid entity and that may be the reason for the similarities, ideas that flow from one person to another. But the explanations might be even simpler for this, a common movie that has inspired these both, putting this entire post to waste bin. But that is a risk I am willing to take.

I have always seen Nolan’s Batman films as police films that comment on terrorism and maybe that is also one of the reasons for this post.

The stories of both progress differently, Kuruthipunal with a strong grounding towards the families of the policemen involved, while it is only a sub-element in the Dark Knight.

The relationship between the three characters in both the movies oscillates between absolute trust and just working relationships which as mentioned before is exploited by the villain.

Did not want to put this up as points and reduce it to a scoop whoop/buzzfeed release, because this is more involved and needs more discussion. Both are great movies even without these similarities: taut and exciting thrillers which deliver one good scene after the other.

Both films are elevated to a different level by their villains, although Heath Ledger has been lauded posthumously, Nasser’s chilling portrayal towering over the leads and that to in a Kamal film has sadly been forgotten, like most of his roles.

Interestingly Ashish Vidyarthi whose role Nasser assumed for the Tamil version won a National Award.

Kuruthipunal and not Drohkaal was India’s official entry to the Oscars in corresponding year, while the Dark Knight was nominated for every other major category except Best Film, which it would have, had it not been a super hero film.

PC Sreeram has just made one film after Kuruthipunal as director; Nolan came to the theatres with yet another terrorist film called the Dark Knight Rises.

It is also interesting to note that Kuruthipunal begins with a phrase that contains the word Kuruthipunal which translates to River of Blood, while the Dark Knight literally ends with the words: the Dark Knight.

#justsaying

The title of this post, if you haven’t figured out is a direct reference to another Kamal film called Anbe Sivam

This post also marks 20 years since the release of Kuruthipunal.

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Thank you for reading.

THE LAST TIME I SAW LANDMARK

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Whenever something shuts shop, the memories associated with that something swell out, that is only natural. Because memories need not be rational, this is some loss however.
One thing I realised that, we can continue to have the memories even if the source of those memories has shut down or changed course, because basically these are our memories and we can construct them however and whenever we wish to, immaterial of conditions. So basically this is not a nostalgia piece, but masquerading as one.
I do not know how my generation spent their birthdays; mine was always at Landmark Nungambakkam. Weekdays or weekend whenever it came, didn’t matter; it was the unspoken norm, lunch and dinner also didn’t matter. It wasn’t that we returned with a kart load of books, maybe just one or two.
Landmark Nungambakkam was my first idea of what a bookstore should be, a major introduction to the genres and authors I read now. An idea of a bookstore is important because my reading was and is still to a large part unguided. Earlier I was able to open myself to some authors without knowing anything about their stature. With age comes irritations and information, details which make me doubtful about picking a book rather than urge to pick one up now.
I have moved on, there were other bookstores, libraries and of course the internet and as years passed my visits to the subterranean bookstore decreased, and even if I did I was not as compulsive in buying anything. To tell the truth I was not much surprised when I walked into the store today which looked like a ransacked supermarket in time of a zombie-apocalypse.
Empty shelves.
A Nora Roberts here, a Wilbur Smith there, Chetan Bhagat everywhere.
But Landmark had become like this for many years now, the McDonalds of the bookstores, it may be true that Indian writing in English is the new boom, but this boom had made Landmark into a storehouse, but not of knowledge. Often one could see numerous copies of the same book occupying an entire genre shelf only adding to my existing irritations. There was a constant fear of bumping into the same book cover, like the horror when numerous stern looking Mani Ratnams looked down upon me from the cinema shelf; no he was on the science shelf too.
I think that was the moment it dawned upon me that this shop has to go, at least I would like to think that this was the moment I arrived at this thought. It is a selfish thought of course, to expect things to remain as they were. I never cared for the other stores in the city (City Center, Spencer’s) and I shouldn’t care about this one too.
As people trickled into the store on Monday evening, the unsettling sight of near empty store made them reach out to the nearest attendant. Yes the store was closing, the ‘bestsellers’ would be going to a storage facility in Pune, while the remaining would be put out on clearance in the coming weeks.
Maybe they too were thinking about an early morning many years ago when the store was filled with eager enthusiastic kids and yawning parents to get a copy of the latest Harry Potter. Now people just do some clicks online. Packet delivered.
To keep the bookstore atop a pedestal is in fact a very wrong thing to do, just like how the theatre in which we watch a movie is immaterial, where we buy a book too.
But then the memories?
I got my own Agatha Christie at Landmark, my first LOTR copy, a cassette of Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam and the DVD of Guide too; but my consuming of them would have been no different wherever I had purchased them.
So what are these memories then?
A good bookstore will enrich the informed reader and educate the novice, in these last years Landmark had, I felt never put a step in that direction. The reasons might be many, but it was not my bookstore anymore.
If it had not been landmark, then I can safely say that the same job would have been done by some other similar store. After all there is no point of wasting sympathy on a store which had just the same set of books everywhere, an uncaring enterprise.
Nostalgia should be guarded it is not a time wasting device, it represents the core of our thoughts, and it shouldn’t be spilt on a commercial venture which will anyway be present online. The closing of Landmark Nungambakkam in effect signifies nothing, people who read will always be reading. Maybe nostalgia is also like a bookstore, it should enrich the dreamer and educate the newcomer.
While I waited for my turn at the billing counter with a perfunctory book, the lady next to me was buying an iPhone Scratch Guard.
No this ‘bookstore’ had to go.