SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE SELECTION| ESSENTIAL VIEWING: MANAL KAYIRU

“Scenes from a marriage selection”

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I do not remember when was the first time I saw Manal Kayiru, but it must have been a very long time ago and with  some certainty I can say that it was an afternoon movie; I have since watched it multiple times at multiple points of time; classic is a word that has been tossed around as tags for many movies and is a word that should be used only after much deliberation, but Manal Kayiru has the word classic written all over it.

No one has made films relentlessly on the problems of the middle class woman like Visu, can only be compared to the nothingness and existentialism in the films of Woody Allen.(Unmeasured comparison)

And in the core of the problems of the fairer sex was marriage.

Oh but wait, weren’t Visu’s films stagey? Thoroughly dipped in the sentimentality of the time and mostly adapted from stage plays and really looked like a televised one, that they may be but, they are not without their own inventiveness.

To continue with the Woody Allen analogy, Manal Kayiru can be called the ‘Annie Hall’ of Visu’s career which began from the stage, the film in which he found the balance and his own space within Tamil film making.

It is the world of 1982, unknown and seemingly distant to the now world of shaadi and bharat matrimony; a middle class man has aspirations, not two but eight(including bizarre ones like failing in college). If you had been a daughter’s father in eighties and before, conditions is not a word that you would have wanted to hear.

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That is the thing with comedy, it takes away that tears that go behind the thought of these jokes; and this is where Visu stands tall as a maker of socio-comedy films, he never cuts down on the seriousness of the issue; yes the eight rules seem ridiculous but by the time we reach the end, these rules represent the stupidity of ourselves and how big a deal it was to get a girl married. An achievement worth putting into your CV types.(Again now, everyone will put anything on the CV, I was talking about the eighties)

To thank God for how things have changed is being childishly optimistic, marriage selection has remained a sort of gruelling job interview, the only things that have changed has been the medium and now that both sides can do this ticking of checkboxes exercise, before thanking God reflect on Darwin and this quite unnatural selection.

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Enter Naradar Naidu, who completely randomises this process; with Manal Kayiru, my formative thoughts about marriage has been about co-existence rather than the one of selection, and this is primarily because of Manal Kayiru, selection in this case so seems like a recruitment for a slave, but what about expectations?

Is it possible to live with someone who does not meet even one of your expectations?

Pardon my middle class movie loving brain, but the act of marriage is really much higher than fulfilling individual’s expectations and that is what the world is moving towards, bespoke dating.

Visu is like that teacher who comes back to the starting point of the lecture at the end of one, most teachers don’t. He knows his subject in depth, the lesson here is: let not your expectations bring tears to the other party.

Like the job of the ‘marriage broker’ whose occupation has been quietly replaced by the match making sites, Visu’s family dramas have been replaced by television soaps starring murderous mother in laws and wailing working women, but more so it has the generation that has been replaced, a generation that looks at marriage and family in the long run, as this India Today article puts it ‘obliquely’.

Maybe the events that happen in Manal Kayiru are exaggerated, and the days of conditions are long gone; but as number of divorce applications and new family courts suggest that there are more broken marriages than broken hearts and the saddest part is that there will be no Naradar Naidu to liven things up for you this time.

Epilogue

Dowry Kalyanam can be seen as a companion piece to Manal Kayiru, while the former deals with the struggles that happen during the course of marriage, the latter covers the pre-marriage irritations

Sve Sekar plays the fool of a groom in both these films and is tremendously effective.

While lovers of good old drama might not have anything to complain, cineastes might be pleasantly surprised by Visu’s handling of a deaf character. Gimmicky and stagey yes, but the film is not without substance and the characters hold up well even after years have piled over the film. Class apart, Manal Kayiru is an extremely easy film to love, proving again the best way to approach serious stuff is by making comedy.

PS:  The title of this column was originally called “we cannot be friends if you do not like this movie”, but changed to the more boring but just-about-doing the job “essential viewing” because the previous title was considered antagonistic to our already dwindling audience.

PS2: None on the staff of the Lowly Laureate is married, except the 86 year old printing press operator. His Facebook relationship status as of today is: I won’t tell you, go.

Xbox: Naradar Naidu is the first in a long list of typical Visu characters, a wily outsider who sets up the film’s flow and provides the solution as well, but here he faces a saddening end, not unlike the one Kamal faces during the climax of Panchatantiram(well, almost)

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MAAN KARATE: DEATH BY UNDERDOGISM

 

This film is strictly reviewed according to the FRS™, for more details on our completely unscientific way of watching movies, do refer to our Irandam Ulagam review.

Maan Karate

 

-10: Self negative points to our FRS team which could not come with a better title and had to resort to the Neeya Naana Gobinath School of inventing words like Underdogism
-1.5: The protagonist is from Royapuram, calls himself Royapuram Peter. How does the location help the hero/story? Now they have a ‘reason’ to have an opening song at the harbour lines. Other than that no use of location.
+37.7: All the songs, no really. With all those things happening on screen, you might as well set your smart phones to do a countdown for the next song. Them songs, not so classic, but still refreshingly good and tastefully (ok subjective) shot.
-3: Usage of Pondicherry French Quarter in song routine to up supposed classiness. Yes yes, that same painted retro wall with that retro scooter every heroine seems to be having these days.
-12: Wayward-wisecracking-notlisteningtoparents-still the talk of the town type protagonist
-4: portrayal of IT guys as people with too much money and too little to do, which maybe partially true but you have no idea about appraisal system. So take negatives.
-56: Wayward-wisecracking-notlisteningtoparents-still the talk of the town type protagonist preference of white skinned girls is proudly brandished and so he finds love too.
-3: fart jokes in lift lead to love
-5: Thirukural as groom selecting device is not only not funny but also insulting to the couplets.
-10: whenever a Godly-sainted-mythic guy offers a boon, humans will try to test the power of the “Godly-sainted-mythic guy” rather than ask anything fruitful cliché
+14.5: interesting plot which makes no sense in the end of it all, but still interesting.
-109: the underdog story which will makes all the dogs in my city hangs their head in shame, as said complete random guy making it big in life and all is okie and probably hope giving, but at the cost of a professional and no basis is only irritating, the proposed rationalisation of the same is clearly troubling.
+8: for Udhayam corn Puff
-56: No matter how many tournaments you win all over India and how many hours of practising you do in any sport, you will always lose to a guy(yes yes underdog) who has no clue of it all because he is doing it for love.
-6: Love is what happens in the fields of pune with heroine shaking required body parts, hero does shake too. <You can see that we are not being sexist>
-89: Completely watering down one sport in the name of comedy, which again was wanting in humor always.
+67: usage of the phrase “Killer Peter is going to kill you”
+12 chillarai: here and there some one liners which make you chuckle
-3: after chuckling you go into depression for chuckling.
+1: guy who usually plays the rich father of the rich heroine is playing the rich father of the rich villain #changes
+8: Udhayam corn puff (we bought two packets)
-120*2 : We bought two movie tickets
If you don’t care for the review and think that against all odds the underdog should win and love should finally triumph, then this review is not for you. This movie is however tailor made for you.
All numbers are arbitrary and instantaneous and have no bearing on the film, this review, the writers and the readers.
PS: the boxing stadium in the film is named after John Pennycuick, who as you might be aware is the builder of the Mullai Periyar Dam. One only wonders why.

TRAINS OF FANCY: KEDI BILLA KILLADI RANGA

ImageIn a world filled with theatres which are filled with a comedy movie every Friday. Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga (KBKR) is a rare breed, a breed that is so rare that makes you pause and make you think on what makes you laugh.

I saw a film two weeks back, which was perhaps the worst movie ever made and I had seen, a collection of shit recycling shit  sequences pretending to be a comedy. It was so bad that the movie almost pushed me into a sea of depression.

Now at least I will swim out of it.

I believe the basic thinking that goes behind every movie is very limited, it is based on the assumption that whatever worked previously will continue to work. That again is assuming too much and leaving very little space for improvement.

It is these assumptions that provide the familiar scenes in every movie say for examples, “buddy-buddy drinking, buddy-buddy drinking and discussing about not drinking, buddy-buddy drinking and dancing, girl meets boy while retro soundtrack plays behind, item song at a place that seems like a tippler’s paradise, duet love song under umbrella” these things solely exist because of the fact that these have worked at some movie before.

They represent what a collection of movie makers think that the audience will like, laugh and enjoy.

Surprisingly KBKR has all of the above but still manages to be fairly engaging and has some serious laugh out moments even in the absence of any structuring, it is clear that the director’s intent is hell bent on making the audience laugh within the pressures he is allowed to operate, admirable really, but never insulting.

Achieving expectations itself is laudatory, exceeding and all we will see later.