FRS: Rekka

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We all now know what this FRS is right? right?

-12: Drone photography overdose, i mean even for thennanthoppu(coconut plantation) and all, also this movie has the same kind of drone shot opening like Vishal’s Paayum Puli

-65.1: Villain watches football in coconut farm.

-99: Hero is someone who is loved by all in his town, he is like Kumbakonam’s favourite son, for reasons unknown, the opening song for which we will deduct points later seems like the one in Run, even VJS attire resembles Madhavan.

+56: Hero

Yeah he is the hero ‘hero’, but still there are some characterizations that work, like the not so usual hero entrance quietly while he playing chess, his ‘cute’ refusal to do punch dialogues (panju panju a pesuven), him being non indulging when villains shout and create a scene, low decibel, low profile. VJSs’ Siva is not a reactionary hero, or even a vengeful one, he really is a different leading guy; who exudes confidence from quietness, this is truly welcoming and Vijay Sethupathi aces it.

+56: Heroine

Only two days ago we were speaking about Kodi had a major miscast, but here is Lakshmi Menon taking up the much played role of a the daughter of (insert Madurai here) villain, but also giving it a spin. Also professes that she is not the ‘loosu ponnu’

Scores as of now Keerthy Suresh 0, Lakshmi Menon 1

+42: Coming back to ‘spin’, this is really a thought out movie even though it uses the ‘hero-caught-between-two-rowdies’ template, because the villains here are not so one-note, they too have their problems, which is what two more writing backed (whatever little) characters, add to this the proverbial hero’s friend who is not here to just give ideas to ‘correct’ the girl. In fact there is no ‘correct’ the girl sequence at all, this itself is victory no?

add this to it a string of supporting characters (including the two villains) who exist as a part of the film, not just to support the hero.

-81: All songs, whenever, wherever.

+17: Director sets the ground running, there is no ‘set-up’, things keep happening and we find out things as we run around with the hero and heroine, most of the movies tire us in setting up stuff and getting to the plot, here more dynamic. Very good. Also as mentioned the hero’s reason for doing the things he does really makes some sort of sense (yeah yeah hero’s arc and all is there)

+21.5: KS Ravikumar, someday people will put one debate session on how good he is as an actor. Diversification is key, sir.

(Remember Mudinja Ivana Pidi, yikes)

-41: Madurai is full of Tata Sumo-meesai-aruval-veshti clad thugs, Madurai burns and they do one silapadikkaram reference (dei)

and also inefficient thugs theory, villains still keep using them even when they fail again and again, what there is no appraisal system, why not use funds to buy modern weapons which can actually do something or hire consultants who can help you optimize your workforce?  #JustSaying

-59.017: To us, we had thought that this will be just another mass action Ghilli-Run clone, but yes we were not entirely wrong. This is a Ghilli-Run clone but with slight differences that make it seem something else, add to this the Vijay Sethupathi persona. Our love for this movie largely depends on how much of love remains on second viewing (fingers crossed), but can say bravely that yes this is a stupid action movie, but does not treat us (the audience) stupidly and does not ask us leave our brains at home.

Yes, it is quite fun also.

Subam.

as always all numbers are irrelevant and arbitrary.

FRS team, The Lowly Laureate

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Truth alone triumphs

 

(And also side characters)

andavan-kattalai

Before getting down to praising Aandavan Kattalai, let me first get down on the system; innumerable films have taken on the system, whisking out heroes who break the system, become the system even; but rarely acknowledge it.

Even in Manikandan’s film, the cheekily named Gandhi wrestles with the system and with the truth much like his Gujarati-namesake. Like everyone else, he doesn’t want to be seen as the one who is not smart enough not to take a short cut.

This mindset has served us well right from our daily commute, right up to the get rich quick plans we invest in. Short cuts have been ingrained into our skulls as an Indianism, street smartness is something even companies look for in candidates.

It is time to drive away this smartness.

The Messengers (or who says these things in the movie)

Vijay Sethupathi, in his fifth appearance on screen this year! (Surely this must be a criteria for TIME person of the Year) plays the small town guy in the big city with absolute plainness, there isn’t any special characteristic, there is no extraordinary back story, Gandhi could be anyone, Gandhi could be me or even you, maybe that’s why. So this isn’t much of a performance but more of an appearance.

But this appearance serves him well especially in the comic portions of the film, but the problems in Aandavan Kattalai is unusual because you really don’t know who to follow on screen, obviously Vijay Sethupathi drives it forward; but the supporting characters are not so much a supporting but  actually essential.

I am a supporting character sympathizer, as in if there is one movement I would like to be part of, it would be for the ethical treatment of “hero/heroine’s friend” in Tamil films.  First there is Yogi babu as the not so constant companion, he is luckier than our hero, which almost never happens in films, he gets the best lines as well; then there is the Srilankan refugee in search of his family but has to play dumb, the friends at the theatre crew and the intrepid journalist who also happens to be the heroine.

But my favorite would be the senior and junior lawyers at the family court, a truly unusual comic relationship, at least something I haven’t seen in Tamil films; the closest I could pair them to:  the similar comic duo from I heart Huckabees, totally brilliant, yet so fitting in the atmosphere.

Most of the characters seemed lived in, not just turning up for the shoot, but these aren’t serious roles which would require an entire long read on ‘method acting’, these are just everyday people in highly non everyday surroundings and that is how the humor is brought about. I could just go on about the other supporting actors as well, because this movie is a triumph in terms of casting, characters and dialogue.

A major win in a time, when giving a character a name and a job is seen as writing (something which is referenced in the movie)

Now to the message (Or what is being said)

A message movie is one troubling thing, not everyone will be empathetic enough for it to go all the way or sometimes the message itself might not be presented in a way to create impact, or hidden behind subtexts later to be brought forward by others. But there is something in every movie for everyone, it might not be the one that the director intended, but there is something; because that is why we watch a film.

Most of the times the message is lost in the telling. Here in Aandavan kattalai, the director puts first dart bulls-eye from slide one (This is a message movie #hehehe)

We (or you) can infer whatever you want, but this director is telling you not to take the short route, in fact there are no short routes, in fact (v2.0) the short route is the longer one and the one with thorns and no GPS.

No don’t take the short route.

Fill your own forms. Don’t break the line. Don’t ask your colleague if they know anyone anywhere. Don’t refer anyone from anywhere. Don’t break the process or try to bypass it. Just fill the form and wait.

Because the system might just be easier than the short cut.

Hey, I’m not saying this, the movie is.

Movie(s) of the year

Every movie blogger who thinks he/she is worth something will come up with a list of ‘movies of the year’, we are not exceptions; but we would like to do things differently.

Is Aandavan kattalai our movie of the year?

Our answer is “not quite Oru Naal Koothu” *

 

Epilogue

The movie begins with eighties style kaleidoscopic images, nice touch but I couldn’t see how they connect to the overall theme

*Pitting movie against movie is a very bad thing and I’m sure we will be punished for this.

 

 

 

After all, the car is a man’s best friend

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Within three months into this year, we have a winner!

Long ago, man lived in caves. Then man, accidentally discovered fire, then man worshipped fire. We later went to worshipping cows and now on a particular day we garland our vehicles and apply sandal paste.

The quality to see oneself in others in perhaps unique to mankind, I do not speak with any scientific backing, but it certainly seems true, does the cheetah think of the fate of the gazelle before it hunts it down? Does it? We cannot say for sure, but I do feel sorry for the gazelle as much as I admire the strides of the predator.

The idea of thinking that non living things do have life is also an extension of this thought, an interesting twitter account which posts occasional pictures of things that look like humans is an example, but closer home it is the naming of cows, chicken and more importantly vehicles that best represents these traits.

Why do we have the intention of naming anything that is devoid of any form of feeling, which will probably never respond to us?

Although the car is not named in the film, the Premier Padmini is from a time when it really meant something to own something; I do not think if the film would have had any value, if it had been about recent variants of any automobile.

Owning something is not a luxury anymore, but a sign of luxury, the freedom of choice, and the freedom to always wait for an upgrade on the existing. The freedom to cast away what we have; and to acquire something new and, then to be bored by it all.

A telling moment of another time is in Su. Arun Kumar’s Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum is when the Pannaiyaar is confronted with the question of ownership by his driver, the driver fears for his career (more so about his life, for it is this car which brought him everything including love), while the Pannaiyaar wants to please his wife by learning to drive.

Objects mean something to people, not because of the value that is thrust upon them commercially, but because of their usage that connects in so many ways to so many people.The way the principal characters behave are the reactions to the presence and their attachment to the car.

To think of it, in the hands of Peter Jackson this story could have ended up as ‘Hope Diamond’ meets the one Ring kind of story, detailing the fate of the characters, completely consumed by the object of possession. The Pannaiyaar and his wife are consumed by the car no doubt, but not in any diabolical way, but share a relationship similar to that of  a grandfather-grandson.

The state of not being in possession is also deftly handled by the side shot, as if a member of the family is being taken away on one last funeral procession, the car completely humanized towards the end of the film, a dreamy end to the film, an unrealistic but completely agreeable end.

The success of the film is heightened by its setting, a remote village with a loveable headman, whatever is owned by him is in turned ‘owned’ by the village, the children running around, the shunting(a word humorously used in the film as well) to nearby places and the whole sense of community goodness that comes with it.

Although the path taken to achieve this desired effect is dramatised, it is only understandable.

Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum is by no means a path breaking film, it has not shaken up the castle walls at Kollywood, nor it is about something that is entirely new to the screens, but the sense of fulfilment that this film brings is an unanswered question for me, maybe for those whose emotional investment in similar themes is comparatively less might have found it overdrawn and sentimental.

Like how the Pannaiyaar falls in love with this green antique car, my love for this movie is probably without reason; but I do believe that the case for reason to love something is quite inexplicable. Told with abundant humour and loveable characters,the simple Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum is the best Tamil film this year. If this comes out as a challenging statement, it is a challenge that we have already won.