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.

 

 

 

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FRS: Singam 3

So you all know what an FRS is right? right? OK

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-5 : For every fellow who said Singam 3 is very loud, boss he is shouting in the poster for Godsake, also you do some 300 poster/teaser breakdown videos, like you didn’t expect it or what?

Singam is supposed to be loud, that is the point, what did u expect Silence?

Adhu Scorsese film.

#HariDa

<Adra! Adra! Adra! Adra!> read it in caps

+151.3: Hari, perhaps the only big budget director currently operating with a stamp of his own, commercial filmmakers mostly focus on the returns, but Hari is perhaps the only one who focuses on increasing excitement film after film, testimony to this is the title credits of a lion literally jumping over roman numerals I and II, only to leap over a gigantic III and roaring at those assembled.

I mean what’s not to like.

+1.5 Tonne: Suriya, yow what a performance; we were reading somewhere that for an audience to feel what actor is doing on screen, the actor must really feel what is really happening around him, Suriya takes method acting and combines it with monstrous rage.

As DCP Duraisingam Singam, Suriya becomes his own animal (see even we write such loaded phrases) , throughout the movie the camera and Suriya try and compete with Hari’s screenplay.  Faaaaar better than when he is restricting himself in other films(hi to Pasanga 2 and such), maybe a component of Singam-rage is against his other directors?

Only time will tell.

So fast is that what is happening on screen that if you allow it in the Olympics, it would win a medal or something (we write such phrases as well )

Also watch out for the 1.5 tonne reference

-712: Shruti Haasan,

or in other words, because we killed Hansika in the previous film (same character, different occupation)

+45: Home Minister Vijaykumar: for being the longest serving Home Minister and having more powers than American President so that he can send Duraisingam to any corner of the universe and take over cases, i think Singam 4 will be about how some Russians steal cement from Thoothukudi for the international space station and only Duraisingam can bring it back.

+007: Yes, Duraisingam is our James Bond, like really he is, well he doesn’t sleep around and has family and all and drinks only green tea, but really he is. Bond too is driven by rage and patriotism (which again came into much question, when the character turned gray), but even he wont be able to match Duraisingam in commitment

Open thread:  Also what is with this liking towards gray characters? why a film with gray protagonist always treated with some deference, here in Singam good cop vs bad guys, why should the film be anything else?

-95.7: Soori, not even telling how bad this comedy track is

+6: Even in item song, Duraisingam will be watching for clues, rest of audience is watching Neetu Chandra

-6: Item song

+120: 2nd Biggest mystery in Indian Cinema answered in SIngam 3, no not telling what it is

+61: For a villain who has memorized latitude and longitude of every place, I have not seen anything like this before and another villain whose cheeks vibrate like a suppressed mobile phone (yes)

+10: When Government has any doubts in Indian Penal Code, they can ask Duraisingam, a hero who knows his law and a villain who loves geography, this is really the most academic movie I have seen since Pallikoodam.

-42: In Singam 2, Duraisingam climbed up and down a full mountain in 2 minutes, nothing in Singam 3 has been able to match that, but almost running down a plane using a police jeep is almost there

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-214: Drones: there are only three types of shots in the film and shot-breakdown is as follows

Singam rage shot: focuses on him mouth dialogues, total rage in closeup (11%)

360 Singam shot: camera going all over the world to cover action sequences without skipping a beat (4%)

Drone Shot(85%): Every other shot in this movie is a drone shot, sometimes in the second half we began to think whether we are sitting in movie theatre or watching the world from a chartered flight. DEI!

Movie could have been called Singam III: Attack of the Drones

-20: Ethical Hacking monologue, also first Tamil movie to feature ethical hacker Ankit Fadia look-alike

-4: Ankit Fadia

-52: All songs whenever, wherever, I mean Harris Jayraj would have taken a holiday to some Bodhidharmar cave for peace and self reflection because, this movie is totally NOT for him, even Adra! Adra! Adra! doesnt make it.

#MissingYouDSP, but yeah Duraisingam shouting would have drowned the BGM anyways.

+77: Something , something , something happens, before you reach halfway point in popcorn box, movie is actually over.

No really it is like that.

Hari never disappoints, he gives you 1200 for your 120 rs!

It is not like you are going to remember the scenes.

+44: Singam films offer a kind of high that most films can only aspire about, coming out of the theatre, people were seen walking in upright swagger and showing symptoms of wanting to hit someone right in the middle of the head.

Yes even some FRS writers reported this feeling.

This however can be calmed by listening to some eight hours of Gangubhai hangal type music, only then.

Just beware if you are a person of dubious character, Duraisingam might just be a phone call away. We loved it, we really did.

All numbers incidental and arbitrary.

Subam

THE FRS TEAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

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>