Engirundho | Brahma

Well the movie Brahma doesn’t need any introduction to tamil movie lovers. Specifically Goundamani fans. The movie is a riot with Goundamani as Valayapalayam Chinnasami creating rousu in almost every scene he is in. Who can forget the “Mother Superior…Suppariya paaku poduvangala..?” scene which ends with Sathyaraj unable to control laughter even in the final cut that got released in theatres. While that’s the first thing that everyone gets reminded about Brahma, the movie had one beautiful composition as well. The song “Engirundho Ilankuruvi…”. There are two versions of this song – a female version sung by Janaki and is the introductory song for Kushboo in the movie and a male version sung by S.P.B. This post is about the latter.


This is one of the few songs of Ilayaraja which has a beautiful prelude.

The prelude is just a simple arrangement of a Piano at the foreground and bunch of violins in the background. The piano starts the prelude and quickly a bunch of violins follow around 6 seconds. Around 10 seconds, the Cello joins them and the emphasis starts on the Cello. If you relate this to the scene, the time when the Cello plays is when the heroine gets shocked on the tune that is being played and clearly the Cello is used to emphasize that. The prelude alternates between the Piano and the Violins to alternatively depict the tune played by the hero (and what Kushboo had heard when she was a child) and the shocking moment of recollection of her memories.


Here are both the interludes:


Both the interludes use one of the highly underrated aspects of Ilayaraja’s music – chorus. He uses chorus in songs and also in BGMs (remember the scene in Nayagan when Kamal loses his wife from the balcony and the scene where he sees his son’s body from the same balcony?). These interludes also use chorus extensively to convey the intensity of the flashback scenes. The first interlude starts with the chorus playing a longish “Aaaaah…” with very simple use of trumpets. And it is this chorus which occupies most of the first interlude.

The first one to me is just another Ilayaraja affair. But it is the second one which I am big fan of. The first 10 seconds are just a standard guitar/drums/trumphet combinations that is widely used by many composers and isn’t such a big deal. But just give a close listen around 13 seconds when the trumphets finish off. You will hear a bunch of voilins at the background adding to the emphasis and around 19 seconds is when the magic starts unfolding. A chorus of “Ha ha haa haa ha ha…” sung at a base tone adequately supported by the Cellos starts. This is pure magic created by simple use of Chorus that creates a profounding impact on the listener. The chorus instantly communicates an intense situation in the song which is later shot as a scene where the child is in danger of getting killed by the villains.

Obviously, we may not appreciate this when we listen to this separately. The impact of the effect is realized when you see it along with the picturization. Most people appreciate Ilayaraja for BGMs. While composing BGMs the composer would have seen the footage, would have understood the entire scene and then composes the BGM (I am nowhere under estimating Ilayaraja here btw). Where it blows my mind is this: these are interludes, which are present in songs that are composed before the scenes are shot. The composer has the opportunity to listen to what the director describes as a scene and has to come up with something as powerful as these. I think this is where Ilayaraja the genius really shines – the ability to grasp what the director imagines as a scene and comes up with a song that becomes a classic of its own. And those times were his peak where he would have recorded an entire movie’s songs in couple of days.

Go ahead and see the song again in YouTube (linked below) to get the impact. Did search quite a bit for a good resolution video with a good audio but this is what I could manage to find:

Ennullae…Ennullae… | Valli

Well, I am not a fan of this particular movie even though it had Superstar in it (who wrote the script and screenplay). I remember the hype around the movie as it was written and produced by Superstar, Latha Rajinikanth had sung in the movie (and guess she composed a song as well). It bombed in the box office!! But it had one beautiful song composed by Ilayaraja. “Ennullae Ennullae” is such a beautiful song and an emotional one sung by Swarnalatha (How I wish she had sung more and lived longer!!). While the song captivated me the very first time I had listened to it back in the 90s, I got even more addicted to it very recently due to the composition of the interludes.

Interlude 1

As a bunch of violins start, there is a gentle play of either a Cello or a Double Bass in the background. And around 11 seconds when the violins in the foreground starts peaking, the background starts getting filled with those taps of Cello/Double Bass. The flute joins them. And around 28 seconds all of the come together. The Cello/Double Bass give a wonderful finish to the composition. Yet another brilliant composition. The best part is, these compositions were done in the the digital/stereo era and we are now able to hear the nuances of the composition very well (unlike the ones he composed in 70s and 80s which were recorded in mono)

Interlude 2

This one is as good as the first one. The pattern is just awesome – a few violins start and as they hit towards the end of their portion, the Cello/Double Bass further extends by playing like a quick “Sine Wave”. A long Sine Wave by the violins followed by a short Sine Wave by the Cello/Double Bass 🙂 This gets repeated twice. Around 12 seconds, as the violins hit the peak, the gentle taps on the Cello/Double Bass happen just like Interlude 1. A Trumpet/Shehnai type vocal instrument joins to give a perfect finish to the composition.

To me, both the above compositions are definitely in the levels of “Symphony Orchestra” that gets immensely appreciated. These feel divine when you listen and can be composed by someone who is completely at peace inside. These compositions had originated in his mind, he has translated them as notes and given to individuals who just played their part. And for him this song would have been “just another song composed on yet another day”

ps: There is actually a pretty lengthy prelude in the song itself which is mainly composed of the traditional Kerala “Chenda Melam”

pps: Both the interludes end with a female chorus. Despite multiple listens, I somehow didn’t like both the chorus. I feel it lowers the overall quality of the entire composition (like a Dhrishti). Of course, he is the master and the genius and he would have every reason to have that. Just that I didnt like it. I included in the first one above (so that you can listen and form your opinion :)) and deliberately removed in the second

Here’s the full song if you are interested in listening:

pps2: What a lame picturization for the song (try watching it in Youtube). And how such a genius composition gets lost in a crappy movie like Valli!!


En Vaanilae | Johny

I think Johny had one of the best sound tracks in those times. Every song in the album was a hit (and is still) including the famous “Aasaya Kaathula”. The song “Kaatril endhan geetham” was one of the best songs sung by Janaki. While the songs themselves were good, I am particularly intrigued by the interludes of the song “En Vaanilae…”

Interlude 1

Here’s the first one. Just give a full listen to this one. May be couple of times

This one starts with just few gentle piano strikes and the solo voilin takes over. And for the next few seconds there is a good healthy exchange of this voilin and flute. At around 14 seconds is when the magic in the composition starts to happen. The solo voilin plays for a good 5-6 seconds. If you listen around 20 seconds, the solo voilin plays a quite longish stride and as it does that, there 3 to 4 different sets of voilins in the background play alternatively. This form is repeated once more where the solo voilin completes it stride and then the background voilins finish too leading to a naugthy play between the piano and the voilins finally ending with the piano strikes. This is the kind of magical composition that Ilayaraja was doing back in those days. This, in my opinion is the type of orchestration that simply made him the genius he is. This kind of orchestration in songs doesn’t happen these days anymore. And in the western world, these type of orchestration happen for background scores primarily. Ilayaraja was doing these back in those days and people seldom outside the film fraternity (and that too who took very close of his music) appreciated these.

Interlude 2

This one is quite good too. Not as good as the first one for me. The initial flute portion is just awesome in this one. It’s one of his romantic high tune I would say. It’s just a tune that instantly conveys the feeling of either both or one of the lovers are feeling the ecstasy of being in love. That’s followed by a voilin orchestration that is so typical of Ilayaraja. Of course, that portion is awesome too. It’s just that he has set such a high bar for himself and the music that he creates that these type of composition just feels normal to the listener.

Both these interludes still remain one of my favorites. Imagine yourself witnessing these creations happening in his studio. Especially the interlude 1. Imagine you witnessing Ilayaraja providing notes to all his orchestra members. Each of the members practicing their part. Ilayaraja asking may be each one to play their part (I am assuming that’s how its done. I could be completely wrong). You are an observer just observin all of these and figuring out where all these individual pieces are going. And then the magical moment starts unfolding there – a take where everyone plays their part as they were instructed and you witness one of the magical creations. How I wish, I could go back in time and witness these in person. If I had a choice, I would just plead Ilayaraja to just let me be an observer in his recording studio every other day.

ps: While I loved these interludes and the song in itself, I felt the way the song was picturized didn’t do enough justice to this. Yes, the movie was directed by Mahendran but somehow felt that the picturization was just lame. Showing flowers, mountains and Rajni running in slow-mo? Here’s the video of the song in case you want to see how the interludes appeared in the movie. I am fairly confident nobody would have even given a damn to those magical pieces of music


Paruvamae | Nenjathai Killadhae

When it comes to interludes, the first thing that comes to my mind is the song Paruvamae from Nenjathai Killadhae movie. Of course, this song is one of the cherished songs by Ilayaraja fans. It just instantly refreshes you, especially if you hear it in the morning. You would just be taken off in to that morning “jog in the fog” moment. While the song in itself is awesome, both the interludes in this song is even more awesome.

Before you read further, a quick disclaimer. I do not know the specific terms used in music – like I haven’t learnt it professionally to write the description/analysis using specific terms. I would write them in plain English as if a layman would describe it in-person. I am fairly confident that I would probably be miserable in describing everything that happens in these interludes (there is always so much happening) in plain English. It’s pretty difficult to describe feelings in writing; for his music are more of feelings anyways.

Interlude 1

Here’s the first interlude:

It starts with a gentle guitar for few seconds and while the guitar is playing the foreground, the violins start in the background and then eventually the violins take over (as in most of his songs). When the violins take over, while you hear them, there are Cellos and Double Bass joining in the background. How I wish that Stereo, Digital Recording were present during Ilayaraja days. Most of the base sounds are completely lost in his recordings and its left to the careful listener’s imagination to absorb those. The theatres in those days were also not equipped with great sound systems and nobody would have had the pleasure of listening to these.

Interlude 2

Here’s the second interlude:

The second interlude is even more interesting. The violins start the interlude and starts fading out in about 10 seconds. The keyboard strokes continue for few more seconds and they fade away. The flute takes over and a Cello or Double Bass tapped through fingers join the background. While the flute continues to play in the foreground, the violins start in the background eventually leading up to an awesome mixing of two set of violins – one set starts and peaks, the other one start from the peak and reach the base.

I think these interludes independently are a great listen. You interject them into a romantic tune, the song becomes one the classic that would linger in the listener’s mind forever. And that’s probably what had happened to “Paruvamae…”.


I have been long thinking about this. Blogs about Ilayaraja. I get immense pleasure in just listening to his songs – so would anyone who has grown up hearing his music. Even today, across generations, his songs are the ones that people jump on to when you are in love, when your love broke, a lullaby for your toddler, on that long drive, on that lonely night when your mind is on random thoughts. So much that his songs are an essential part of your life. And so much has been already written, discussed and debated about this genius. Beyond songs, one of the other important things that people relate to him is the background scores that he has composed for his films. I could be biased, but till date no one has come even close to Ilayaraja’s background scores. A very simple scene gets elevated to a powerful one because of his background scores and he is highly rated for these scores.

One of the lesser appreciated things about Ilayaraja is the interludes in his songs. While most people appreciate the songs for the overall composition (tune) and the background score in movies, not a lot of people appreciate these interludes – the music that’s between the stanza’s of a song – the ones that come between Pallavi and Charanam. And also the preludes – the music at the beginning of the song, before the Pallavi starts. Often I have found that these interludes and preludes are as awesome as the background scores that people appreciate Ilayaraja for. There is so depth in these interludes and preludes, so much orchestration (generally violins) that you can enjoy them independently of the song.

This blogpost series is going to be an attempt in collating all such magical interludes and preludes that he has created for all those 1000s of songs. Those interludes and preludes that elevate the songs to a different level. Sometimes, the song by itself may not have been a huge hit and would have gone unnoticed by many but the interludes of those lesser known songs would have been a masterpiece by itself. Couple of callouts though:

  • I have no vested interest in making money out of these blogposts. The reason why I am saying this is, the songs that I have collected (from which I would clip out specific preludes and interludes) are from internet sources. I definitely do not own the copyright for those and there is no intention to violate copyright here
  • I do have a vested interest. To centrally collate such interludes and preludes and tag them. So that, I can revisit them anytime and start listening to those magical creations. Because he has potentially created 1000’s of such interludes and preludes, it is hard for me to remember all of them in my memory (which is anyway starting to fade away with age). So, I wanted to have a digital memory which I can access anytime. Hence this attempt – one that has been long pending
  • Those who stumble upon these posts, I would encourage you to listen to these interludes and preludes through an earphone or a headphone. You would appreciate the sheer genius in these interludes only when you listen through an earphone or a headphone – a good one would be preferred. As such, most of his compositions are available in mono (not even stereo) that the depth is lost. You would definitely not appreciate these if you hear through a laptop speaker or a cheap earphone
With that, off I go. Let me start working on the first one and come back soon on the first post in this series. And hopefully, I am able to continue this series in a sustained manner to create that digital memory that I have been wanting to create for a while.


Mersal – not a review

I knew its been a long time since I blogged. But looks like its been close to 5 years since that last post. Plenty of things happened since then both on the personal and professional front that kinda kept me busy. I have been wanting to resume blogging for a while now. But nothing really pushed me hard enough to sit back and spend some time composing a post. Until last week. Until Mersal happened.

A quick disclaimer before I continue. I am not a fan of a particular actor. Neither a hater. I like movies. I fall in love with movies. Despite many entertainment options available today, I still like going to the movies (or watching them at home) because nothing else provides that long lasting, soul filling experience like movies. It is still truly the medium that can transport you to a different world in those 2/3 hours of time.

Over the last few years, I have been very selective in terms of watching movies in general. Especially tamil movies. I have a 4 year old daughter – so you should be able to understand how precious it is to get 3 hours of time. And where you want to spend that time. I generally follow tamiltalkies (fondly called as Blue Sattai) and Prasanth in Youtube and Baradwaj Rangan’s blog for reviews. My taste for movies typically go well with them, especially Prasanth (where he tends to call spade a spade) and a lot with BR (only exception being recent ManiRatnam reviews of his where he goes deep in to Mani’s thought process that I cannot relate to and suffered watching movies like Kadal and Raavanan).

The day next to Deepavali. The roads weren’t that crowded. So, turned on Youtube while driving to office and listened to reviews of both Blue Sattai and Prasanth. I was actually expecting pretty negative reviews (given Vijay’s recent track records) and I was taken aback. Blue Sattai, though in the first couple of minutes called out negative aspects of the film, quickly jumped in to a different track and ended the review saying something close to a one time family watch type of movie. Prasanth on the other hand went to the extent of praising the movie a lot, especially Vijay’s performance, voice modulation, efforts in stunts/dance and I think he gave like some 80/100 kinda score. Most importantly he praised Atlee a lot in terms of direction and rightfully using folks like Vadivelu, Kovai Sarala and Sathyaraj.

When I reached office it was pretty low turn out of folks and people were still in Deepavali mood – or so I thought. One of my friend actually had an additional day of holiday. So, I was also like taking it easy. I quickly checked for tickets and it was all completely booked. After an hour so, I had left the spicinemas browser tab open and refreshed it to find a new screen in Escape open up and the entire screen was available. I called up my friend (ex theevira Vijay fan), confirmed his availability, selected nice seats and booked tickets in 100 milliseconds (Think of a typical fast forward scene (rather any scene) in Singam movies).

I was going to a Vijay movie in a theatre after many many years and I was definitely excited; given the reviews. And what followed was a complete disaster. 10 minutes in to the movie, both me and my friend realized what a terrible decision it was. I am not going to slice and dice the entire movie here but wanted to call out few things:

  • The first 30 minutes are so – it was completely confusing (may be a deliberate attempt by Atlee) as we see Vijay doing completely disconnected things. I knew that there is triple action in the movie and the scenes were probably done by two Vijay. I get that. The problem is not with the screenplay for that portion. But rather the scenes themselves – read below
  • About 10 minutes gets wasted in France airport where Vijay gets interrogated because he landed wearing a Dhoti. And then that ends with a dialogue: “Amma-va maatha mudiyadhu” – meaning tamil culture. There is another 20 minutes of footage in France (including a dance sequence) and everywhere Vijay is seen wearing ultra modern clothes. Later in the movie, in Chennai, Vijay is never seen wearing Dhoti (except in the Flashback. Adhukku apram varraen) #MeLookingForPrasanth
  • Apparently one of the dream of the magician Vijay is to perform at the capital for magic (something like that) and he performs in front of white audience in France. The camera shows the audience wow-ing and getting amazed at the magic sequences which are things like knives being pierced through a box where a person is present inside. And you know what, nothing happens to that person. Something that P.C.Sorkar senior had done you remember? Of course, folks in France wouldn’t have seen a P.C.Sorkar show right? #PrasanthDei
  • Kovai Sarala. What an amazing actor she is. I have always admired her in terms of her acting skills (SathiLeelavathy anybody?) and thought after Manorama she is the one who can potentially survive as a woman performer in this male dominated industry. Off late, I have hated her so much because of the kind of roles she gets in movies. I don’t know who told our beloved directors that Sarala can only do the type of character she does in the Kanchana movies. I am talking about the voice modulation she started doing in Kanchana. The way she utters every dialogue in an elevated, fake Kongu accent with a fake laughter. The 5 minutes of screen time she gets in this movie, she just repeats that and gets going. The larger point is, if I completely delete the scenes where Kovai Sarala appears on screen, it still wouldn’t do anything to the movie
  • Vadivelu. The only time you smile for various jokes that he attempts is when he jokes about Cashless India. That too I was wondering if my smile was for his joke or for our reality. None of his jokes bring any kind of smile on anybody in the theatre and here we have another actor who has been completely wasted
  • Sathyaraj. The only purpose of this role is to be a placeholder for a flashback scene
  • Haryana. I still don’t understand that connection of the movie with Haryana. May be I am too low to understand Atlee’s plot. However, what I definitely don’t understand is why our tamil directors are hell bent on getting folks in the North to sing and dance for tamil songs #revengeforlungidance?
  • A.R.Rehman. I heard couple of songs before the release of the movie because it was Rehman. I had a feeling that it cannot be Rehman. Few minutes of listening to background score in the movie, I realized it was definitely not Rehman. Rehman had somehow managed to license his name to appear as composer for the movie. A small request Rehman: This is not the first time you had done this. I remember Varaluru. I vaguely remember an Arjun movie too. And of course Azhagiya Tamizh Magan. It shows. It outrightly shows you weren’t involved in the project. What I still wonder is: Why do you agree? I am sure its not the money
  • #Prasanth #Dei
  • And the last scene. Vijay is in jail and the person next to him is having a conversation with him. A TV in the background is announcing about yet another medical related scam/error. Vijay is holding a newspaper with his complete body being hidden behind the newspaper. The entire theatre was at the edge of the seat to figure out what Vijay will do. To everyone’s surprise, Vijay disappears. Tamil cinema is always about opening sequence. But I am sure this is the best ending sequence ever shot in tamil cinema #wearein2017 #Prasanth #NeeEngaDaIrukka
Like I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of any specific actor. Nor a hater. What I refuse to tolerate is low bar for movies. And such movies being glorified. I went to this movie, not expecting something like VikramVedha (which I loved). I wanted to be entertained. Entertained as part of the festival mood. But I literally came out with a lot of frustration. There is a lot of controversies now with respect to the politics of the movie, religious sentiments being hurt and so on. I didn’t see any of those things in the movies. I just wanted to be entertained. And that’s where I learnt my biggest lessons:
  • Actor Vijay has moved in to a different dimension. His political ambitions are very clear (the MGR/Vijay slow mo scene in the flashback is a testament) and this movie simply was a vehicle.  May be an experiment by him to understand the pulse of the people in the state. Now that’s what I missed and went as a normal cinema goer. There is absolutely nothing wrong in what Vijay is doing. He seems to be absolutely clear with what he wants out of his movies. And its fine
  • It is super important to have reality distortion field like Steve Jobs’ when it comes to movies these days. Couple of years back, producers and directors were worried about how social media and things like instant review, twitter posts are distorting films performances. It is clear now that they have figured out how to use these to make sure they are making money. The way teasers and trailers are released, teaser reviews, trailer reviews, blocking every theatre to release only one movie over the weekend make sure that enough money is made before word spreads out
  • As Goundamani says in a movie where Senthil asks for a chance to prove him that he has changed: “Ungala thirutharadhu ennoda vela illa da. Naan enna thiruthikkaraen”
  • And as Kamal says in Kurudhi Punal “Yengayum safety illa. Yaarkum safety illa”. I echo:  “Yavanayum namba mudiyala”
PS: Please do not compare this movie with Aboorva Sagodharargal. That was a movie which had the guts to have the flashback told at the beginning of the movie and still kept you in your seats for the next 2.5hours

Leaving behind…tamil cinema and the consumers

I love the movies. For movies are the medium that can transport one in to a different world altogether. And I love going to the theatres. The large screen viewing and most importantly the sound effects gives me more high than anything else in this world. OK, next to Filter Kaapi and South Indian food 🙂

I am in Chennai and I want to catch a movie that’s released this weekend. Let’s see what the options are for me:

  • Try to get a ticket in Sathyam – for me, this is the theatre that provides the best movie experience in Chennai. But very hard to get tickets on the opening weekend since I am not the only one who thinks so :). Including the online booking charge, seat selection charges and parking charge (two wheeler) the average ticket price is about 300 for two (2*120 per ticket + 40 booking charge + 10 seat selection + 10 parking). But getting a ticket is next to impossible since there is a huge demand to watch movies at Sathyam from celebrities to politicians to the general public. And Sathyam is the first theatre to open up bookings
  • Devi – This theatre is very close to my heart. I mean, this is the theatre where I watched Speed. A theatre which showed what Dolby and DTS is. On the largest screen projection (till date). I mean, you get in to Devi Paradise and sit in the middle. The way the whole theatre is designed and with the huge screen takes you in to that different world that I spoke about. But then this is a theatre which has the following
    • Power Cut – Yes, if there is a power cut in the area during the show, then there will be a disruption in the movie. You will have one “Yellow Bulb” glowing in the middle of a movie
    • 90’s Projection – I am bound to compare projection quality to Sathyam. At least have a projection quality as close to Inox and PVR? If you can increase your ticket prices, can’t you invest in a digital projector?
    • Hopeless Parking – one of the worst parking facilities in the city and the worst exit a theatre can have. I mean, this is the largest theatre in the city – both Devi and Devi Paradise together can accomodate 2100 people for a single show. And you have an exit in to a single lane at the back side of the theatre. In case of any emergency, it is actually better to stay inside the theatre than getting out. And how much do they charge for a bike parking? A whooping Rs. 20
    • And then there are very normal seats, rest room having a single door entrance, over priced food (for the quality), etc…
  • Despite all those, I still some times visit Devi because she is like your first love. Cant really get rid off 🙂
  • PVR and Inox – they are the ones that are next to Sathyam in terms of the movie experience. The projection quality and sound systems are good but not as great as Sathyam. But since both are in malls, you are bound by the parking rules of the mall and not a theatre. The parking time-slot is not in-line with movie length (for Indian movies). Inox is also famous for having a website which is pretty much useless. It is not just slow (even Sathyam gets slower during any new release)  but is just stupid when you keep getting server errors. PVR is definitely better than Inox in these aspects
  • I don’t even want to talk about theatres / malls like Mayajaal, Abirami and AGS. The thought of these theatres bring in a lot of negative energy in me that its very hard to control the filth coming out of my mouth
  • And then, you have these small theatres all around the city which are not able to attract crowd because of these large multiplexes. But do they have any of the qualities to give a good cinema experience? But their prices? Nothing is less than 95 + taxes. Just go to ticketnew.com and try to reserve in any of the theatres such as Kamala, SSR Pankajam, Sangam, Kasi, etc..And even Abirami Mega Mall. The only exception is AVM Rajeswari which still has ticket prices at around Rs.45

And it doesn’t end there.

  • Mayajaal can price its tickets in its own way – 200, 300 during the first two days of a movie. Rest of the days it depends
  • The online booking of Inox is crap. But let’s say you want to try booking in person. You got to use the mall parking which you will end up paying anyhow even if you don’t get tickets in person

For some detailed analysis of what’s the ground reality of the theatres and malls, please read this, this, this, this and this.

I, as a consumer, would like to see the Viswaroopam DTH issue only from that background. For a family of four, if I need to catch a good movie in a theatre, the expense would easily touch around Rs. 1000. And with that you don’t even get a good movie experience. So why will I come to theatres? All these theatres which are doing business with the Rs. 120 ticket pricing are doing because of the floating young population in the city. For a couple working in an IT company, may be it doesn’t matter or probably they don’t realize about it.  But it is not a matter of affordability but about the value for money. And the main factor that we forget here is  that it’s for entertainment. You have to get entertained not stressed out.

Note:If you look at Bangalore, the ticket prices are even higher. Tickets are at least Rs.150 on a week day and on week ends its about Rs. 200. That way it is better in TamilNadu at least. But that can’t be a justification for not providing value for money. TamilNadu has more number of theatres – it ranks second in India, next to Andhra. So the volume is huge and there is a potential to make good amount of money if you do the business right

As I said earlier, I have a huge liking for the movies and the experience a theatre provides. It is completely indistinguishable from watching a movie online, TV, laptop or for that matter a Home Theatre. But that’s only for movies which have that technological marvel. I mean, movies like Life of Pi, Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, Die Hard, Enthiran, Sivaji, Yudham Sei are amazing to be seen in the big screen (Why Yudham Sei in that list? Because of the background score). The impact that it can create in a theatre with good sound system.

But then what about movies like Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanum, Pizza, Attakathi, Boss Engira Baskaran, OK OK? They are casual movies right? I am OK to see them on TV or online. I am willing to pay and watch them. An year or so back, I still had the interest to catch every movie in theatre and in the first weekend itself. But not anymore. I am inclined to see movies in Sathyam only and to get a ticket there is pretty difficult. But I am willing to wait. I am willing to wait for even couple of weeks and enjoy the movie wholly instead of catching up in a useless theatre.

Here are few points that I want to raise

  • When a big star’s movie is released, all the theatres are going ahead and buying them. They are not willing to take other movies even if they may be good. How do the theatre owners justify that? For example, when Billa-2 was released, “Naan-E” did not find any screens. But later when people realized Billa-2’s box office, the theatres started giving more screens to “Naan-E”. This includes Sathyam Cinemas as well. As a consumer I am OK with this. But you got to remember that there is a producer / distributor behind “Naan-E” as well. Who is going to cover their losses?
  • If the answer to the above question is “Big star’s movies have big opening and we can do business”, then you gotta let Kamal do his business. If he is not asking for any Minimum Guarantee and as a producer if he is willing to take the risk of releasing the movie ahead in DTH, what is your problem? If people do not come to theatres because the movie is a flop, then give more screens for Alex Pandian and “Kanna Laddu” and run them. But you cannot stop Kamal from releasing it in DTH
  • I read couple of other point of view about this issue here and here. The sad thing about that is there is nowhere consumer is in picture. Like producers want to be happy, distributors want to be happy, theatre wants to be happy. But what about us? Who cares man? This is what you get here. If you want, you watch it. Otherwise shut up
  • Abirami Ramanthan seems to be interested in solving all theatre owners problems. I am just wishing that he can spend few minutes every day to think about removing the “Mall” from Abirami Mega Mall, for it is not one
  • Somehow, every time I think of Tamil movie’s state, the movie Aaranya Kaandam figures in it. For it is one of the awesome movies ever made in Tamil. But what happened to the producer and director? Because of the then government which had a media house, the producer (SPB Charan) bleeded losses. The media house wanted to distribute the movie and the producer restrained. Because of that the movie never got released for close to 6 months (that’s the story I hear). The movie released only in few screens and was taken out of theatres within couple of weeks. The producer never had any money to market the film and eventually ended up selling an audio lab (Kodandapani Audio Labs) that’s next to my house. There is a multi-storey apartment coming up there. How do the theatre owners justify this?

If you have this new medium, movies like Aaranya Kaandam, Ammavin Kaipesi, Neerparavai, etc…may even directly release in DTH if the theatres are busy releasing big star movies. Now, with that, Tamil movies would be better. If these movies get more audience, naturally every other director would be forced to provide good movies and not crap.

I am somehow not able to digest the fact that Siruthai was made a hit and these good movies don’t even run for few days. And now looks like Alex Pandiyan would follow suit (I have nothing against Alex but just that the trailer suggest the movie to be in lines of Siruthai and Saguni. If it’s a good movie I have no qualms about it).

The theatre owners are just scared that there is a new competitor for them in the way of DTH operators. But they are wrong. Either they are unaware or they refuse to accept the fact that Netflix in India is not long way. But then will I watch Avatar or Hobbit or Iron man 3 in Netflix or at Sathyam? I would any day come and watch it in Sathyam. And Viswaroopam too.

The mask and the man behind it

The Super Hero Within. Super hero movies are misconceived by people with concepts having really super powers to save the world. Like some one who can fly or some one who can defy gravity and go all out against the evil. Well that’s what hollywood has taught us. But then you have movies like Batman Trilogy (by Christopher Nolan) where the true identity of super heroes are shown. People do not need super heroes who can fly and fulfill their fantasies. When things are real bad, they need inspiration. They need hope that things will be better. They need some one who can re-kindle their motivation to go against evil. Some times all they need is some one to show them a path, a person, an ideology that goodwill always triumphs. The mask is only to hide the fact that there is a real, ordinary person behind it. An ordinary person who has got that will. The man behind the mask does not matter. But the man behind a super hero movie matters a lot. When all the previous versions showed Batman comically, Nolan really managed to build the true super hero that every one relates to. That, not just in movies, even in our world when things go wrong, a super hero can emerge. Like an Anna Hazare. An Abdul Kalam. And turn things around.

Well, I am no big time movie buff. And what said above was my version of a super hero. Mysskin who has claimed to be watching world movies and has given some of the best tamil movies ever certainly cannot go wrong with that. And in all the pre-release interviews, Mysskin has repeatedly conveyed that “Mugamoodi” is not a regular super hero movie. Well, at the end of the movie, one feels at least he could have taken a normal super hero movie. But the budget requirements would require Rajini to be part of it and that would be mean a different script that will suit Rajini. I have watched “Anjadhae” and “Yudham Sei” umpteen times. What really stands apart in these movies is the characterization. Mysskin’s movies have lot of characters and each will make a distinct impact on you by the time you leave the movie hall. The visualization and background scores will create that impact. The amputated friend in “Anjadhae”, the father who gets shot and his son who just runs sideways towards the climax in Anjadhae, the two obese on a bullet in “Nandalala” and “Yudham Sei” is full of such characters. “Mugamoodi” doesn’t have any of them. May be a couple which don’t make much of an impact.

  • With Mysskin, you expect even the title card to be different. You do not want to waste time spent on the title card and want to get straight in to the movie. Why spend the first couple of minutes in the title card display and that too designed in older hollywood sci-fi movie style?
  • And why design scenes like flipping through the pages of a comic book? Something that we have seen in batman movies? Nothing wrong in showing a comic book style scene. But why like an English comic book?
  • When a character in the song itself plays a gimmic on the director saying “Manja saree la oru dance”, why be a stereotype and have a bar song? That too the steps and sequences almost similar to “Kannadasan Karaikudi” in “Anjadhae”. “Kannadasan” was definitely a differently choreographed song but why again?
  • The movie looks heavily inspired from “Batman” series with Girish Karnad playing the role of Fox and the other old man playing the role of Alfred. And scenes where the Mugamoodi stands on top of buildings and the suit sums it up. You almost feel that you are watching an imitation. But then Mysskin doesn’t make those characters strong. Just because he has said this is not like your other super hero movies
  • With his other movies, each character had a role to play and their characters are “created”. May be except the heroine. When I mean created, they are born out the brains of the man behind it – Mysskin. But here every character looks weak – be it the old guys, the police, the Villian or the Super Hero himself
  • The interrogation scene where Nasser gets hold of a bad guy and how he makes that person open his mouth was brilliant. But the same Nasser is made to appeal to “Mugamoodi” saying “we need your help”. You could have got the guy who played as inspector in “Sivaji” movie and get away. Why build a character only to waste it?
  • Of course, the name “Mugamoodi” was coined by the hero out of an accident. He didn’t intend to become  a super hero but when gets caught in a scene where he is scene as a funny super man he just picks a name called “Mugamoodi”. But he really becomes one and when Selva (as the Kung Fu master) calls out “Mugamoodi. Nillu”, it looks funny. Same goes with how Nasser saying “Mugamoodi. Unga help engalukku vaenum”. You gotta watch it and you will feel miserable
  • Mugamoodi asking the master “22 varusham munnadi neenga yaaru”, master saying “22 varusham munnadi” and the scene transforms to a flashback. “Angusamy” (the villain) repeatedly saying “Unga master epapdi setharu theriyuma” and narrating the past. I mean, this is not the way we expect a flashback from you Mysskin. We are used to this kind of flashback in Tamil cinema for so many years
  • And the super hero. With a tag line of “The Super Hero Within”? You don’t even feel that there was a hero in the movie. Great. That’s how Mysskin’s movies are. But you will feel the character. Which doesn’t happen here. If you wanted to inspire people, you gotta have a scene like how Judas narrates to JK in Yudham Sei and asks “Unga thambi tangachingalukku nadandha summa irupeengala”?. Where are dialogues like “Aal balathalum, pana balathalum thoratharan. Evvalavu dhaan da odradhu. Ippo naan thoratharaen. Nee odu”? “Konjundu moolai vechuttu nee ivvalavu pannum bodhu. Yaen da dei. Neraya moolai vechu naanga evvalavu pannuvom”
  • The villain? Again looks like inspired from “Joker” in Batman but deliberately made not to look like one. You are only hoping that it would end soon when he tries to show the psycho side of his in the climax
  • K seems to be repeating the same type of background score as Yudham Sei. Period.
Of course, there are couple of Mysskin “touch” in the movie as well. Like Jiva’s friend Viji who keeps saying “Paathu da”. And says the same when  he dies as well. A very short romantic interlude in the middle of a chase. Well that’s about it. A couple. In the end, it looks like some one asked Mysskin, if he can ever make a masala movie and this looks like his attempt. Yes, it is not a regular super movie. It is a masala movie attempted from a director who cannot make one.

Third World War

Remote village pond down south TamilNadu

The Third World War will not be fought for countries gaining supremacy over each other. It will not be fought with guns and weapons of mass destruction and bio chemicals. It will be fought with drought and food scarcity. And the war will not start because of top military admirals and leaders’ decisions and will not be fought with drones and tanks. It will be fought on the streets and by normal people.

Above is a picture of a remote village pond down south TamilNadu near by native village. This picture is after two months of south west monsoon (if it had set on time). The monsoon is delayed and water that is distributed for irrigation has not begun. Mettur Dam is the primary water storage for irrigation down south and normally the water is released from Mettur by first week of June. It would take a month and by around middle of July water would have reached these villages. The dam hasn’t been opened yet and not even a single drop has reached these villages. The entire cauvery river is dry across all the districts.

There is acute power shortages in the state – we cant run the motors to pump water from the ground. And even if we manage to pump the water, the water is salty after years of prawn and other farming. Plus the Tsunami that mixed a lot of sea water with the ground water. There are no rains in TamilNadu till October anyways and this time there are no rains in Kerala and Karnataka for us to receive water in the Cauvery. We will have cars and houses and loans. We will just not have enough food to feed our people. And this is a situation of a place where our ancestors cultivated thrice in an year.

And why will we even change ourselves? There are campaigns shouting to leave the planet earth for the next generation. I wonder if we will even have enough for ourselves.

Mayakkam Enna…

  • Your best friends for life need not always be in good terms with you. They can be completely pissed off with you when you introduce your girl friend to them. They soon can accept that girl in to the gang. Your best friend can be your worst enemy when you realize that he and your girl friend are in love. You can then come back to terms with them over a booze calling that girl as “galeej” and the girl would split them  up. You will even curse them on their marriage “en girl friend-ayae correct panni kalyanam panran” and yet superficially wish them good luck in their marriage. And few years later when there is a huge mess up in your life, the same best friend will be the first one to show up
    • Selva has probably shown a very realistic picture of friendship. This is not the “nanbaen da”, “surya nna yaaru theriyuma, natpu nna enna theriyuma” kind of friendship. But something that we are used to in our lives
  • When Dhanush walks out on the streets after getting rejected from the advertisement agency and seems the old lady sitting in the platform the entire scene is shown with a glow around the lady. There is sunlight from the left side of the frame, that diamond ring glitters and there is an element of beauty in those wrinkles of old age
    • The scene is completely from the eyes of Dhanush where his immense interest is in photography is not within the four walls of advertising photography but rather out there in the world. And he can see beauty in normal lives where even the husband of that lady says he hasn’t scene his wife so beautiful in all these years. And for that compliment, its a simple “OK” reaction from Dhanush
  • When Dhanush meets his “God” Mathesh Krishnamoorthy with the photographs taken from the forest, he has a “Vibhoodhi” on his forehead. And that’s the only scene where he has it in the entire picture
    • That’s probably the most important moment that he has been waiting for. He has been shown as a simple, sensitive and probably little emotionally weak person who is desperately looking for a break. Something that a very normal person will do even if he is completely not used having a “Vibhoodhi”
  • The scene where Richa breaks down to Shankar in the car after the wedding mess up, she sums it up saying that her husband is a genius. To that complaining neighbor she says “en purushan kirukkana irukkalam aana nallavan”. Dhanush’s number is stored as “Genius’ in her mobile phone. “Pirai Thedum” song has the following lines sung by the female voice “Vizhiyin andha thaedalum, alayum undhan nenjamum purindhaalae podhumae yeazhun jenmam thaanguvaen”
    • Shows how much she believes on him and just that she doesn’t understand him completely. The reason why she never gives up on him. And a woman like that, a woman who is that strong, can definitely make a huge difference on any man’s life – however messed up he can be
  • The climax where Dhanush comes back and says that he needs to speak few more words. He starts saying about Richa. After the first word that he utters he clears his throat and continues. The most emotional moment for him where he was not able to continue without clearing his throat.
    • For a moment I thought Dhanush was kind of an asshole when he thanked only his friends and didn’t even mention about his wife. Probably it’s one of the brilliant climax by Selva where when the friends were all on tears and proud about the achievement and few even say “He is so smart”, “Such a lovely couple”, “So sweet right”, both the lead characters display amazing maturity in the relationship. When the friends start hugging Richa, she would just peep over them to look a the TV and Dhanush would be looking straight in to her eyes. I think that just sums it all
  • “Kaadhal en Kaadhal” song was probably wrongly placed in the film. I don’t think at that moment, Dhanush was so pissed off with they way the relationship is. The song goes by Dhanush completely pissed of with the girl and the relationship and wants to get out of it and the friend consoling him saying that it is not worth worrying off and just move on. Dhanush and Richa aren’t completely into it and its just starting to build up and more importantly the friend doesn’t know that Dhanush is into something. If this song was placed right after the scene where Sundar’s father offers a drink for both of them it would have been brilliant
    • Having said that, may be the song is not about Sundar actually consoling Dhanush but rather its Dhanush consoling himself – showing what he is going through in his head. In middle of the song when the lyric goes by “Aayiram Sonniyae Kaadhula Vaangala”, you can see Dhanush hitting his heart and then pointing his head. And after the song is over when both of the were completely drunk Dhanush says “Ulla vechukkavum mudiyala, Sollavum mudiyala”. Same goes to “Oda Oda” song where the comic character jumps out of his ear all of a sudden and alternatively displays the other world that he is in. It even spits on him showing the times where one would be at the weakest moments of their life. So may be it is all about himself

Of course there are numerous brilliant individual scenes all over the movie. One of the weirdest editing to the marriage scene right after the fight between the two – with a brilliantly placed long shot where you will wonder if it is Dhanush or Sundar getting married.  Dhanush saying with a sarcastic smile “Goyya bayangara kaduppula irukkaen” in the bar when someone asks “Thambi love failure-a”. The scene where Sundar is sitting in the forest room with Richa in the bathroom, Dhanush enters in to the room and you will actually see Sundar’s feet on the fingers and not firmly placed – 🙂

And I don’t want to mention about Dhanush or Richa’s acting and GV’s BGM, its all over the place that they have done a wonderful job. I personally liked GV’s silence in the background scores. It just gives you that additional time to capture the emotions on the screen and this is in line with the tricks that Ilayaraja played for years to give you that feel of the film. GV definitely has got wonderful years ahead if he continues like and it holds true if he has not lifted the scores of this film from somewhere else.

My respect for Selva has completely multiplied by this movie and this movie is just a reflection of what went on Selva’s head. And not everything would be explicitly put across as dialogues or scenes but you would just need to feel it – easier if you had been in similar situations. I still keep wondering what really went on in Selva’s head because lyrics like “Aaathadi aadu mekka raasa vandhaaram…Aadu thinna yechi pull maeya vandharam”, “Karu naakum kaara pulla, karupatti nerathu mulla, yedupatta nerathu tholla, nee kalavani” sounds brilliant and still keeps me wondering.

And women – of course, you are the emotionally strong species here. If you decide and be firm on a decision, you can completely ridicule a situation as if everything is OK when there actually is a storm around. And it would simply show on men’s face. It is this simple thing for which we will never understand you. And the very same reason why we need you as well (though we may never accept it in front of you).