Slices of south - South of Nowhere

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Subramaniyapuram - Welcome aboard...

Some movies can be just withstood while sitting in the theatre, which also might make you wonder, "how the hell did I sit through that crap" at a later point of time; and some movies grow on you even after you've come out of the theatre. While the recent "Muniyandi vilangiyal" belongs to the former category, "Subramaniyapuram" is in the latter category.

A simple story of four youngsters wasting their lives around a growing politician has been nicely woven with a period (1980s) backdrop. It has neatly incorporated emotions like love, deceit, anger, fear and slyness peppered all through which motors the story. The first half passes by without much of the story moving forward until the interval block, which is where the movie starts to gain momentum. The lack of story in the majority of first half is compensated by the well-shot romantic episode with a beautiful song, Kangal irandaal. It has some very natural, earthy dialogues that are crisp and to the point most of the times. The attention and care taken (the 80's feel and look) for canning the first half, which moves around a oft repeated theme (like Satya or Thotti Jaya etc), alongwith uncanny wittiness and realism, makes us look forward to the plot in second half.

The second half packs quite a punch. It shows betrayal, fear, hunt etc in quick succession wrapped around with brutal violence. The scene where the councillor's brother is killed in the auto has a very forceful impact that will refuse to leave the mind for some time to come. The movie on first watch reminded me that there is nothing drastically new told in this movie but the characters and their traits make the movie a whole lot interesting than what the story premise suggests.

Jai, the hero, does a pretty good job - his mannerism of smiling radiantly through his beard with rhythmic shaking of his head in "Kangal Irandaal" and his enaction in the scene "enakku saavu bayam kaatitaangada" will remain with you for long. Sasikumar, the director, fits his role as the hero's friend perfectly. His smile, rarely seen in the movie, is very captivating. Kanja Karuppu does his usual stuff (with a good restraint channeled by the director) and also gets to register his image with his potrayal towards the end ably supported by the neat writing of his character. Other characters like Mari, Sithan etc fit the bill perfectly. Samudhirakkani makes an impression in his role and he is here to stay in this new role of his as an actor. The heroine, Swathi, contribute heavily to the pleasantness, the first half carries, and acts with depth in the second half.

Art Direction, Music and Photography rank in that order after the Direction and Scriptwriting departments - all walking away with honors. The lack of major twists in the first half, violence in the second half are minor, negligible put-offs.

Subramaniyapuram shows how some freshness in treatment & effort and little bit of creativity can turnaround a ordinary story into a near classic. A welcome addition to Tamil Cinema.
Go Watch it !

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dasavatharam, a review in tamil - Costly entertainment

தசாவதாரம் - யானைப் பசிக்கு சர்வதேச சோளப்பொறி...

தசாவதாரம் பார்க்கக் கூடிய ஒரு பொழுதுபோக்குப் படம். கூடவே சில கமலின் சிந்தனை சிதறல்கள், சிந்தியும் சிதறாமலும்...

ஒரு வரியில் கதை சொல்வதென்றால், அமெரிக்காவில் கண்டுபிடிக்கப் படும் ஒரு உயிர்கொல்லி கிருமி ஆயுதம், திவிரவாதிகள் கையில் சிக்காதபடி, கமல் இந்தியா வரை வந்து காப்பாற்றுகிறார்.பிறகு எதற்கு பத்து கமல்கள்? சாதாரணமாய் ப்ரகாஷ்ராஜ், நாசர் செய்யும் கதாபாத்திரங்களை கமலே லாவிக் கொண்டதுடன், கொஞ்சம் மானே, தேனே எல்லாம் போட்டுக் கொண்டதால், பத்து கமல் அரிதாரங்கள், ஒட்டியும் ஒட்டாமல் - நம் மனதிலும், அவர் முகத்திலும்...

சரி. கதைக்குத் தேவையான கதாப்பாத்திரங்கள் – Scientist, Assassin, தெலுங்கு கமல். அவ்வளவே. மற்றவை, கமலுக்குத் தேவையானவை... Costly செலவினங்கள். ஒன்றுக்கொன்று தொடர்பில்லாத இந்த மூன்று பாத்திரங்களில் கூட கமல் மூன்றிலும் தேவைப் படவில்லை.(No Long lost mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother etc relationships!).

படம் பல கமல்களை அள்ளித் தெளித்த வண்ணம் வேகமாக செல்கிறது. திரைக்கதைக்கு வேகம் பலம், பல கமல்கள் பலவீனம். இசை, பலமுறைக் கேட்டதால், நன்றாகவே உள்ளது. பின்னனி இசை பலம். Camera திரைக்கதையுடன் வேகமாக பயணிக்கிறது. Graphics பெரும்பாலும் அமெச்சூர்தனமாகவே உள்ளது. ஆனாலும் இது ஒரு நல்ல தொடக்கம். முதல் அடி சிகரத்தை நோக்கி. மேக்கப் முகமூடிகள் உள்ளிருக்கும் கமலை மறைக்க திணறுகின்றன. அரிதாரம் இன்னும் இந்தியன் தாத்தா கால்த்திலேயே இருக்கின்றது. சிவாஜியின் "ஒரு கூடை சன்லைட்" பாடலில் உள்ள நேர்த்திக் கூட George புஷ், Assassin, பாட்டி, பூவராகன், கலீப் உல்லா, ஜப்பானிய கதாப்பாத்திரங்களின் மேக்கப்பில் இல்லை...
வசனங்களில் Crazy மோகனின் வாடை - சிரிப்பு வரும் இடங்களில். வேறு சில இடங்களில், கமலின் அறிவுப் பறை சாற்றல். (எ.க்.: You are the south end of a north facing horse, One sperm in 4 million finds its way to make one a human and hence a உலக நாயகன்!, அழகிய சிங்கர் - மடோன்னா!)

பத்து வேடங்களில் தெலுங்கு கமல், பூவராகன் கமல் மனதைத் தொடுகிறார்கள். Assassin, கோவிந்த்தும் பரவாயில்லை. மற்றவர்கள், மாறுவேடப் போட்டியில் வந்து செல்கிறார்கள்.
பன்னிரெண்டாம் நூற்றாண்டும், சம்பவங்களும் நன்றாக படமாக்கப் பட்டு இருந்தாலும், பின் வரும் கதைக்கு ஒட்டுதல் நூலளவு. பிரம்மாண்டம் பிரமாதம் (தெலுங்கில்). அசின் சிரிக்கவும் வைக்கிறார், வள வளக்கவும் செய்கிறார். மல்லிக்கா ஷெராவத், இன்னும் சில லகரங்களை தனது ஆடை போல குறைத்தால், அவருக்கு நமீதா போஸ்ட்டும், நமீதாவுக்கு மும்தாஜ் போஸ்ட்டும் கிடைக்க வாய்ப்பு பலமாக இருக்கிறது. நாகேஷ், கே ஆர் விஜயா, ரேகா, ஜெயப்பிரதா, P வாசு எல்லோரும் வந்தார்கள் சென்றார்கள்.

எதுக்காக இத்தனைக் காலம், செலவு செய்து இந்த சோதா கதையை எடுக்க வேண்டும்? விறுவிறுப்பாக இருக்கிறது. ஆனால், ஒரு "மைக்கேல், மதன, காமராஜன்" அல்லது ஒரு "தெனாலி" கொடுத்த Entertainment Value இப்படத்தில் இல்லை. செலவுக்கு ஏற்ற வரவு - சந்தேகமே.. கமலுக்கு உடனடித் தேவை - கடிவாளம். கில்லி எடுக்க 'தரணி'களும், கே எஸ் ரவிக்குமார்களும் எப்போழுதும் உண்டு. ஒரு கே எஸ் ரவிக்குமாருடன் சேர்ந்த கமல், சில சிந்தனை சிதறல்களையும், பிதற்றல்களையும், சுய அரிதார ஆசைகளையும் நிறைவேற்ற இத்தனைக் கோடிகளை கரைத்து இருக்க வேண்டாம். இன்னும் கொஞ்சம் ஆழமான, பொழுது போக்கு படம் எடுத்திருக்கலாம்.

பொழுது போக்கு, கண்டிப்பாய் இருக்கிறது. ஆனால், இதுக்குத்தான் இத்தனை ஆர்ப்பாட்டமா?

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Veyyil - Everlasting - Movie Review

Two beautiful roses bloom in a shrub. One gets plucked and finds its way to garland the head of a beautiful maiden while the other gets trampled under the feet of the same lady. The lady more commonly called fate, circumstances, destiny etc. This is exactly what Vasanthabalan has tried to explore successfully, to a large extent, in ‘Veyyil’, the standout mainstream movie of the year 2006 in Tamil cinema.

Veyyil is the story of two brothers who start the same way in the dust-laden streets of Virudhunagar, but traverse different paths in life, until they come back together… I am not delving into the story beyond this as this movie is certainly worth a watch and I would not spoil the freshness and the aroma of soil (“mann vasanai”) that it offers you.

Pasupathi portrays the role of the elder brother with a marked maturity that stands out purely by its effective subtleness and spontaneous expressions. This movie would certainly be a hallmark canvas of display in the reportaire of Pasupathi for times to come. The romantic shades followed by despair in the first half and the sentimental, solace-seeking, emotionally charged second-half brings alive the life of a loser, close to perfection.

Bharath shows us yet again that he is the front runner in terms of acting skills in the current crop of young actors in Tamil filmdom. He plays the role of an active, typical busy-bee in a small town, with loads of temper contrasting with the affection that he has towards his family. It is not uncommon to find such “leaders” / “entrepreneurs” in smaller towns of Tamilnadu, and the film history has not seen a closer look of such people, until Bharath, the advertising agency owner, arrived yet again through Veyyil. His temper leads to some good funny moments with Bhavana (serves as a relief in an otherwise serious narration) and her family. His devotion towards his brother and the delicate situations that he is put in inbetween his family on one side and his brother on the other side have been well-handled by the fast-growing actor. His dancing skills help in infusing pace to the movie in the opportunities provided.

Some of the remarkable sequences in the movie are, the younger days of the protagonists, the love sequence between Pasupathi - the movie operator and Malavika, the return of Pasupathi to his home after 20 long years, the affection of Bharath towards his brother and siblings, the funny encounters between Bharath and Bhavana and the parting shot. The three heroines Malavika, Bhavana and Shreya reddy have handled their roles with dignity and elegance. The supporting cast playing parents and sisters of the heroes have played ‘part of the family’ to perfection. Special mention to the person who plays the father role – brooding, affectionate and adorable on the whole.

Music by the debutant GV Prakash, will top the charts, deservingly so. “Uruguthey”, “Veyilodu vilayadi” and “Kadhal neruppu” – pick of the flowers. A red carpet welcome to you Prakash! The background music in the opening sequences of the second-half add lots of weight to the scenes. A mature BGM in such young age…

The songs have been picturised beautifully fitting in line with the story mileu, without resorting to gimmicks, garish sets or outlandish foreign locales. Special claps to the director, choreographer, and art director on this aspect alone. Case in point: “Kadhal neruppen”.

Next comes the captain of the ship – Vasanthabalan. Wonderful attention to details in every small segment of the movie (e.g.: In the song “Uruguthey”, the movie operator Pasupathy is shown romancing with the lady outdoors only when the theatre is closed due to “Bandh”. This - in a passing segment for 5 -10 secs in a song. The typical spread of match boxes drying under sun in the streets of Virudhunagar is another example). The picturisation of “Veyilodu” is poetic. The realistic settings and earthy dialogues add lots of weight to every scene. The choice of actors is close to perfect (the villain, for some reason protrudes). Not resorting to comedy track, avoiding stereo-typed characters to the maximum extent (Villain and the mother characters exempted) and giving fresh backgrounds to the protagonists (movie operator and ad agency owner) deserves a special shake-hands. Wonderful second movie after a not-so memorable first. Probably Maniratnam in Tamil was the last to have this record, who peaked later. Wish and hope Vasanthabalan shows this maturity in the forthcoming offerings and touch half the heights scaled by the former. Shankar, thanks for finding Vasanthabalan again…

Stressing upon realistic settings and portrayals, Veyyil is certainly not without its droughts... The villain character, being shown a complete negative right from the start, ever-weeping mother character are some of the oft-seen stereotypes. The heroes, being stabbed umpteen times in close-gruelsome shots managing to go running, hunting for the villains somehow does not gel in this otherwise believable-by-frame movie. Making the character of Shreya Reddy, husbandless, seems to be a clear ploy to bring the ‘loser’ hero closer to her. The character and family of Bhavana, adds fun to the movie and nothing to the story. Minor thorns in a beautiful bouquet…

The ‘loser’ smiles triumphantly from the posters as the final winner at us, the audience, making us feel the same about having seen the movie…

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Pudhupettai – An annal of Madras rowdism – Movie Review

There is a belief among certain film creators that movies are a means of recording culture, customs, behaviours, languages and social patterns. I believe Selvaraghavan has recorded Madras rowdism to fine depths through this movie than what we have seen so far in kollywood. A special congrats and also thanks to Selvaraghavan on this aspect.
Pudhupettai is a movie that traverses a slice of the life of “Kokki” Kumar, where he gets his path in rowdism steady and finds the road of his life. There isn’t any concrete story as such but the movie holds steady the subject it has taken.
There are quite some cinematic moments with loud drama, especially in the second half, but the good mix of realism backed by the research gone behind, is evident on scre
en. One thing is for sure - this movie doesn’t have any similarity in scenes with the “rowdy mela” of tamil movies currently doing rounds. That alone deserves applause for Selva but the same factor might work against the commercial endurance of the movie. (We’ve seen “Chithiram Pesuthadi”, “Pattiyal”, “Kokki”, “Thalainagaram” to name a few, in not very past!).
The music by Yuvan works extremely well and actually adds pace to the otherwise slowly narrated movie. The songs are already chartbusters and not routine. There needs to be mentioned the special efforts of choreographer, who has taken care that all the dances, though dappanguthus have been differentiated to the beats of Yuvan.
A special mention is needed for Arvind Krishna who has used super-35 camera superbly and has really added special impact elevating quite a few frames. The close-up shots, colour tones and rapid movements add energy to the movie overall.
On the acting department, in the author-backed role,
protagonist Dhanush has ample scope to perform and he has grabbed it with both hands. There are few scenes where a carry-over from “Kadhal Kondein” can be felt but still there are many other scenes where he has differentiated and established himself. He should reduce the loudness in voice in a few places. But he has made the audience believe that a rowdy can exist in such a thin skeletal frame and that speaks a lot about his performance. Sneha has the next best role of a prostitute who also lends shoulders the protagonist to quite some distance. In many places, just through facial expressions she narrates and takes forward the story in a calm and assured way. Sonia Agarwal does not have much to do. The fellow-rowdies, minister, politicians and whoever comes on screen for more than 30 seconds register their faces well. Almost blemishless on the performance front by all. A special pat for the actors who played minister Thamilvendan, Anbarasu and Moorthi.
The first half of the movie breezes through with quite a few memorable scenes and focuses on the upward career graph of the protagonist. The second half focuses on both personal and career front and here’s where cinematic drama comes in good dose. The loudness, exaggeration and over-indulgence increases aplenty as the movie moves towards the climax. But still there are quite a few positives to take from there. Politics handshaking with rowdism, operational rowdism in day-to-day life has been touched upon pretty well on both halves of the movie.
Pudhupettai is certainly not a perfect movie. Please note - some minor spoilers in this paragraph. The uniform way in which all rowdies across gangs use mainly swords as their weapon doesn’t suit the otherwise well-researched script. The protagonist never gains sympathy and hence the scenes of his child being caught with the enemy gang and the melodrama after it doesn’t sink at all. Sonia Agarwal’s character either should’ve just been touched upon or should’ve been the main focus of the movie. But being neither, the sequence looks “inserted” and does not impress. The method of protagonist telling the story as though through a monoact is certainly a nice idea and helps the movie jump forward in some places. But it misleads to think that he is mentally affected and unstable. The role of police could have also been touched upon better as they should be a major factor in the operational aspect of this business. The “Godfather” act, where the protagonist s
its in office while his aides do the necessary work all across to bring change of status to the protagonist overnight could’ve been a bit more original.
The climax may not be welcomed by one and all but I certainly liked it. That’s the way it is and why not?
It is certainly different and better than “Pattiyal”, which was quite a bit superficial, and “Chithiram Pesuthadi”, which was not all that impressive - overall, especially in depicting the nuts and bolts of Chennai rowdism. Selva has certainly improved on his directing skills in quite a few places but has taken a couple of steps back in screenplay department.
Overall, do go and watch it – for the departments of direction, cinematography, music, acting and research (story sequences) – in that order with negligible points to differentiate.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Aadhi - Just pass - Short Music review..

Aadhi, a remake of Athanokade, has Vijay turning to VidyaSagar again after a cacaphonious flirt with Srikanth Deva and Dheena. So, it seems VS has tried to get melodies back in a Vijay movie. It is interesting to note that Paramasivan also has the same MD. Lets see which fares better…

1) Athi Athikka – Sung by SPB, this song is a non-starter. Very minimal instruments with a sedate yesteryear feeling in the tune, the choice of words used only emphasize this is a telugu dubbed movie. SPB’s voice unintentionally adds to this feel. 3/10

2) Iruvar Vazhum – A short song with just one stanza. A very decent melodious song with words adding value to the song. However, could’ve been a full song… 6/10

3) Lelakku – A nice taminglish thathuva song that will catch up on the charts. VS has done well to keep the rhythm and flow going and the lyricist hasn’t put a wrong foot with words… The first treat for Vijay fans in the album. 7.5/10

4) Thadakku – A strong heard before feeling. But still a melody that can move towards the ‘hit’ category if the movie does well. A Hariharan special for Vijay movie after a long time. 6.5/10

5) Yei Durra – The king of the pack. Masses will lap it and you can expect this song leading to the climax. The phrase “Ippo illanna Eppo” has been used very well as the signature line in every stanza. Though a mass song, VS has shown it needn’t be with heavy, naarasa orchestration. Srikanth Deva, please take a note here. Just the beats keep it going. Tippu and Saindhavi have added good energy to the song. 8/10

Overall, the quality of the album is fine. But will strongly depend on the movie’s success for it to sell. Only two songs make a straight move to the boundary. Overall Rating would be 6/10 for not damaging the ear buds..