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…Interludes…Ilayaraja

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 150 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 closest 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 power cut for that area is during any 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 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).The parking problem is also with Escape in Express Avenue and that has been a reason for me not visiting Escape. Inox is also famous for the website where it is ridiculously 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. The question here is if AVM Rajeswari an NGO or running a business?
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 any movie 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).

All we need is a change…

By now, the entire nation knows about Anna Hazare and there seems to be huge huge following for him. I went to Marina beach yesterday and there were about 2000 people near light house supporting Anna. I was definitely amazed to see such a huge crowd of normal ordinary people of this country. I saw people from all walks of the life, middle class aunties, oldies and lots and lots of youngsters – people who are probably in to the first or second year of college.

And there seems to some difference of opinion amongst different set of people:
1. People like Nandan Nilekani and Arundhati Roy seems to be okay with the “right for protesting” but definitely not OK with a single man dictating what the government should do

2. The opposition (if at all we can call it one) seems to be on the same line – “we are against the way the government handled the situation” but they don’t speak if they support or disagree with the bill

3. The government – it seems that it is completely indifferent to what is happening in the country. It definitely handled the situation badly but doesn’t seem to be thinking about breaking the impasse

4. And the public – almost everybody is with Anna. Frustrated, having lost hope with this country, they desperately need a change and are willing to support anyone who is willing to make that change happen.

The fundamental problem today is that people have lost confidence and trust in this government. And when I say government it is not about Congress. Why I say this is because, yesterday at Marina, I saw a small group of girls shouting “We want change in power”. It is not about changing this government and getting a new one. If that happens all we gonna have is a new government which is going to be UPA or NDA – and there seems to be a prediction that if election comes, UPA will win again. With a change in government, nothing is going to change in our day-to-day lives. We are going to get the same treatment from the policemen, ration shops, government offices and a dont-care-attitude from the fellow citizens. Traffic signals are going to be broken, roads are going to be bad, poor will not get access to proper healthcare, food and will sleep in roads – nothing will change. What every Indian (in India and abroad) wants is a change in our daily lives – things that we interact on a daily basis. Things that will make our life better. We want a complete overhaul of the system that we are in. And I believe that’s the reason everybody is inherently in the roads.

What Nandan Nilekani said in his interview is that through technology and automation these basic interactions of the general public needs to be cleaned up – made transparent, accountable and efficient. And he said that bringing Lokpal will only create another independent committee like Prevention of Corruption Act, CAG, etc… And here are few more views from different parties involved:

1. Government
From a government’s angle (I’m not talking about Congress here), I think it is actually a larger problem. For example, Team Anna were demanding for a public place to conduct the fast. And they wanted it indefinitely. Huge crowd may actually come in and the government definitely needs to think from security angle. The first thing that happened after Ramlila Maidan was chosen as the venue was that, right in the morning, we saw policemen, sniffer dogs and massive equipments sweeping the grounds. Being a country with not-so-friendly-neighbors and an equal amount of enemies within, the government will have to worry from security angle. What if a RDX blows up on the venue (Delhi being national capital too)? We will blame the government again. Secondly, we have the parliament where representatives from different parts of the country are functioning. As Nandan pointed out, there are definitely good people out there. And some serious business does take place. I do not know the ratio of good to bad politicians there, but I know people like Jaiprakash Narayan are sitting out there. And the Standing Committee seems to be very good where it healthy debates happen. And these are people representing different sections of the society – the tribal, Muslim, Dalit, Urban, Rural, etc…and the bill needs to be debated from all angles because it is going to affect the entire functioning of our country

2. Alternative theories
There is also another round of views about the people who are behind Anna. If you look at the kind of people who are behind Anna, most of them are from Urban living. That’s how it started at least and now it is spreading to the towns as well. The movement has spread through the media and Internet. And people in the Cities and Towns are the ones who have access to these – especially Social Media. Now, we cannot enact a law obliging the demands of certain section of the country. And that too due to mass following. I am not for this – but for example, tomorrow, India being a Hindu dominant country, what if some other person starts an “Anti-Muslim” movement and there is a mass following to it. I mean, people are not that stupid but it theoretically it is possible – the government is probably thinking about this too? And this thinking is probably beneficial for the larger benefit of the people. Or probably this is how government is run – you cannot decide Just Like That.

3. Political Parties
None of the political parties seem to be “actually” supporting the Lokpal bill. All parties are actually raising their voice against the way the government handled the situation. Nobody is mentioning that they are OK with “these these points in Anna’s version” and not OK with “these these points in Govt’s version”. I have read both the versions of the bill and what Anna’s version is trying to create is something like a parallel government. There is going to be a central Lokpal which will look at larger problems like 2G scam, black money, etc…and every state will have Lokayukta and similar setups at district, panchayat levels. Now this is actually parallel governance. No where in the world this is present and it may be dangerous also. Let’s not debate that. But the political parties – they are not going to be OK with having a parallel government.

And this is my take considering all these:

Yes, this whole movement may be started by the Urban population. And probably it will spread slowly to other places in the country. But Urban population are the ones who have seen things outside the country. They have been exposed to how proper governance happens in other developed countries. The rural population and the poor have in-numerous problems that they cannot even think about all these. When people are worried about next day meal they will not think about all these. So there is nothing wrong in the movement being started by the Urban population. It is for larger benefit of the entire country.

And the views that things needs to be changed at grass root level – like fundamentally people are corrupt and we need to change that. Yes definitely people are corrupt. I download pirated music and somebody doesn’t obey traffic rules and somebody else doesn’t pay taxes properly. People are definitely corrupt. Now here is where the definition of corruption needs to be made clear. Corruption in my opinion is altering a way of working/decision for the benefit of a single person or a group. When such alteration takes place, it results in a deviation from doing things the way it needs to be done which either results in sub standard service or no service. Now, coming back to the point of people being fundamentally corrupt. I download pirated music because – either i don’t respect or value the service that I get or I cannot afford to buy one. And there are no proper laws to check it. Now, last week I bought an app for replacing the stock keyboard in my Android. Now, that cost me Rs.200. But I bought it because, I used it before and I found it to be helping me and making my life easier. And it was affordable to me. So I bought it. Now I pay taxes properly. In fact, I declare my Savings Account interest and pay even Self Assessed Tax. Why do I do this? Is it because I want to contribute to the growth of the country? No, it is because there is a law and I can later by scrutinized. Now this is fear – fear brought in by enforcing laws.

APJ Abdul Kalam’s says that let’s start by teaching the kids to be good citizens so that at least next generation will be good and not corrupt. And Nandan’s view is also on the same line – instead of changing the people he is trying to change the last mile of the system that people access. This is definitely good. This is what will probably scale on the longer run. This is basically starting from ground up. But I beg to differ here. There needs to be fear amongst everybody (all walks of the life) that if someone does something wrong (against the law) then there is going to severe punishments. And this needs to start at the top level. We cannot have people like Raja, Hasan Ali, Deve Gowda, Yedurappa, Jagan Mohan Reddy walking freely in the country. The law should be made good enough to give faster punishments to people like this. Why start at this level? Why not from the traffic signals? Because if there is a law to first check the ministers – he is going to fear the system and act properly. He will ask questions to his ministry – then to his officers – then to the executives – to the people at the bottom of the chain. Now that way at every level things needs to be checked. Making people change is definitely not going to work – because of the fundamental nature of human being. Even in developed countries, people when intoxicated they run over pedestrians. If there is no one on the road, you may get mugged. Somebody might come in to the convenience store and ask for the money. If you don’t give it you may get shot. This is in developed countries. So basically we human beings, given a chance would like to go over the law and do what we feel like doing – our mind is still fundamentally animal. But under normal conditions, when we are in a society, the fear of getting punished is what keeps us under control. And that needs to be brought in. Through laws. Through tougher laws. A whole generation needs to be toughly punished to bring that fear in people. And this can start only from the top.

You cannot say that “I cannot sack Raja due to coalition dharma”. Now how mean is that?When the entire nation is debating and agitating about this bill, Sonia Gandhi leaves to US for some medical treatment. Okay, she is not occupying any government office. But as a leader of a political party and how influential she is in the country, she doesn’t believe in the country’s healthcare and flies off to the US. Because she can afford it. The power and money that can get her anything in this world. Cut through few years back, Vajpayee needed a knee replacement surgery and it got done in our own AIMS, Delhi. Now as a leader, you need to demonstrate to people of this country. People want a change right now and have no more patience.

All we ask is better roads, portable water, good shelter, affordable healthcare. To make our lives better. Nothing more than that.

Kanchana…

The movie “Kanchana” seems to be a runaway hit with huge crowds flowing in the cinema halls. The movie seems to be a hit mostly in the towns and rural areas and moderately in the cities as well. I saw couple of reviews (online and in the print) which claimed the movie to be good and particularly they mentioned about the comedy sequences. It seems that “Kovai Sarala” (as mom to Lawrence) and “Devadharshini” (as “anni” to Lawrence) have done a very good job in the comedy scenes. This definitely kindled my interest and I started seeing the clips shown in TV and online.

The scenes that were claimed to be humorous definitely didn’t even bring a smile in my face – I don’t think I have a bad sense of humor. The so called scenes involved Lawrence going to “choo choo” and asking Kovai Sarala to come along since he is a kid at heart. Other scene was the introduction of Lakshmi Rai where they mock about the length of her skirt. Cut there and the next scene will be Lawrence jumping and being carried as a kid by Kovai Sarala, Devadharshini and yeah guessed it Lakshmi Rai too. And Devadharshini all through the scenes speaks in a worst possible modulation thinking it is actually funny.

I haven’t scene the entire movie and mostly will not after seeing these scenes. People do say that Sarath Kumar has performed well. So may be those portions of the film is actually better. But what is irritating is the fact that these scenes are actually being projected as the most funniest scenes in the recent times. Add to that, today, being independence day, Sun TV is airing some special program on this movie. The interviewer is actually very intelligent in asking questions like “How did Kovai Sarala manage to hold Lawrence in her iduppu?”. For which the Lawrence kept on explaining things and everybody were ROFL.

It was so disheartening to see where these guys are taking Tamil cinema to. What is currently happening is that the industry is giving all possible crappy movies and in between a little better one (read not-so-crappy amongst the crappiest ones) becomes a run away hit. This is what one of my friend told me – “dei…Venghai laam compare pannum bodhu paravala da”. That’s where we are now instead of comparing against “Yudham Sei”, “Aaranya Kaandam”, “Nandha Lala”, etc…

I firmly believe on a quote by Kamal Haasan “You cannot blame the audience saying that they are not mature to enjoy high quality cinema”. The audience are actually well matured and they definitely appreciate good movies. All you need these days is that little bit extra promotion for these good movies. If Kamal has thought about the same and did only the typical masala movies we wouldn’t have had “Kuruthi Punal”, “Virumaandi”, “Anbe Sivam”. Though there are so many other movies of his that can be mentioned, the reason for mentioning the above is that these movies paved way for some of the good movies that we see today. Ameer, Bala, Sasikumar and the likes saw and grew with these kind of movies and resulted in Paruthiveeran, Naan Kadavul, Subramaniyapuram, etc…

Let’s not get in to a debate if Kamal copied / inspired from Hollywood or Korea or whatever. But, I would say that he was at least 10 years ahead of what the rest of the industry was thinking. And those were days where you did not have internet. Probably people didn’t understand what he was trying to communicate through his script. Probably he was bad at the script. Probably he gets confused and can’t give a clean screenplay. But he tried. He pushed things. If I look back now, even Alavandhan was an amazing movie.The movie introduced camera technology for close double action sequences, some of the amazing stunts and visual effects.

What if Alavandhan, Kuruthi Punal, Virumandi were released now? These would have been blockbusters for sure. From my view it’s probably a loss for Kamal from the timing point of view. But I immediately get reminded of the dialogue in Devar Magan by Sivaji Ganesan: “Vedhai vedhacha udanae pazham saapadanum nna mudiyuma…innaiku naan vedhaikkaraen…nee pazham saapduva…apram un payan saapduvan…apram avan payan saapduvan…idhellam paaka naan irukka maataen…aana vedhachadhu…naan…idhellam enakku enna perumaya…?”