Romeo and Juliet. Dead. Who’s

Romeo and Juliet. Dead. Who’s to be blamed:

Just as I do the first thing every morning, I switched on the TV, this saturday. To my weekend surprise!!, Franco Zeffirelli‘s version of Romeo and Juliet was about to start. What else would a movie buff like me do other than making a cup of coffee and get stuck before the TV. This 1968 super hit flick is considered as the best adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo and Juliet. This story of love and tragedy is best read than to be seen. But Zeffirelli’s experienced hand on period films makes this one too a magnetic screening.

It’s said that back in 1968 there was a lot of confusion in air when Zeffirelli casted two unknown teenagers as protagonists. The impulsive 17 year old Leonard Whiting as Romeo and the stunning, voluptuous and magnetic 15 year old Olivia Hassey as Juliet. I could well imagine how teenagers would have drooled over her those days. Eventually they became icons of their age, later. Carrying this larger than life characters, these naive teenagers wade through the movie along with the powerful screenplay and rest in your hearts.

Just having the right cast does not make a masterpiece. It only makes it possible. As Romeo sees (not meets..he trespasses into the party) Juliet in the party, he whispers the first sentence as She doth teaches the torches to burn bright. With the same intense passion kisses her on her hands behind the pillar. Oh! boy, there you go. With a poetic class, Zeff takes us through the rest of roller coaster ride. A plethora of emotions glide before you in a flash all involving love-at-first-sight, all-consuming love, passion, denial, love lost, sacrifice and unconditional love. While unconditional love is still a question to be answered, Olivia and Leonard makes this emotion seem very possible. Reminds me of Kannalanae song in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay.

Zeffirelli brings the typical Shakespearian Verona before us and also the true-to-life characters of Shakespeare. Friar Laurence (Milo O’Shea) character amazes me. As the priest of the church, he helps Romeo and Juliet and as the climax strikes in, he runs outside the cellar in the fear of being executed by the prince. That is a practical characterization. Michael York as the much pompous tybalt, the typical villain and a honest swordsman. Zeffirelli’s liberties over the script and dialogues of this play must have made the literary critics run from pillar to post. But then that is what people love to see. Especially the balcony scene when Romeo couldn’t stop looking at Juliet for a second and Juliet experiencing the love from her heart for the first time is unseen before. This scene clearly crosses the international standards and makes an impact. The character of nurse looks like a sandwiched character for fun in the movie. Other than this everyone seems to be in place.

Pasqualino De Santis, the cinematographer won an Oscar for this film. I am sure he deserves it. Especially those sudden steady-cam-like shots when Romeo comes running over to Juliet in the church was classy. And also the market place stunt when Romeo kills tybalt in a sword fight was fierce with mud flying all over and people making huge noises, was notable.

This movie gave the completeness of watching Romeo and Juliet. The 1996 version of Romeo + Juliet directed by australian director Baz Luhrmann (director of Moulin Rouge) was more dramatized and was a modern day gangster depiction. It could be re-named Romeo And A Shot Gun. Leonardo Di Caprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet were appealing till now. I watched this in ’96 Woodlands theatre, Chennai. Though the audience were ok, but the flashiness couldn’t be overseen and finally during the climax when Di Caprio pops in the poison, the audience started laughing and the whole emotional drama became a slapstick comedy. I still appreciate Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, for it was a combo of modern day music with a backdrop of an emotional epic. He was still able to get around the difficult anachronisms and was able to prove Romeo and Juliet lived in the modern day Florida.

Whatsoever, I was stunned by Zeffirelli’s picturization of climax. Romeo dies of poisoning himself and Juliet wakes up from her long sleep to see her beloved husband dead. She tries to kiss his mouth to get a drop of poison so she could also be dead. His mouth is warm and there is no poison left for her to die. She gets tensed as she could hear the voices of kingsmen around, finds Romeo’s short knife, punchers her heart with it and dies. A well known climax but it was still heart-breaking. Who should be blamed for this death of Romeo and Juliet ?. Is it the dogmatism of Montague and Capulet families or the rebellious Romeo and Juliet who were in love with the concept of just falling in love or the priest friar laurence who could have suggested a better idea than this to save the couples. None. Except the man, Shakespeare. Yes !!, He is to be blamed for killing this star crossed lovers.

Shankar’s Boys Movie Review :

Shankar’s Boys Movie Review : Maathi Yosi, That’s what we say (Think Different)

(Read from the 2nd paragraph if you aren’t familiar with Tamil)

Inga panam illaama irukara ovvoru payanukkum padippu kedaikanum,
Padippu ezhaingalukku etta kaniyakida kudathunu thaan sir naan ippadi paninen – Gentleman


Naattaiye azhikera oru governor irundha enna illana enna – Kadhalan


Podhupanithurai, Pokuvarathuthurai, Kalvi, Sugadhaaram, Minsaram ippadi
ella thurailayum lanjam vaangi vaangi naatai seer kedhututeenga – Indian


Indha America cosmetics ellam nekku pidikaathu. enakku therinchathellam thallaikku seiyakkai, udambukku manjal thool. Please itha ellam edhutundu poidungoo – Jeans


Enakku thevayellam ettu mani nera thookam, poo pola naalu idli, pudhina chatney, mansakku niraivana vellai, appa ammavoda oru kai rummy, pooncholai kiramathilai oru azhaghana ratchashi – Mudhalvan


And now BOYS.

Completing half-a-dozen movies successfully with BOYS is the whiz kid Shankar. Brought up in the neighborhoods of Chennai and having done his schooling and college in Chennai, this is shankar’s wish to celebrate the coming of the age of adolescence. His boldness to describe BOYS as they are has helped him to come out of his pedestrian fantasy movies.

Keeping out the controversies of the media to the end of this review, Boys is a movie with no false pretensions, no intended puns and a no-nonsense movie. Even if you have the smallest nail in the world, I can write the story on it. Five guys and a girl find their hidden talents due to unforeseen situations and take an elevator to their career. The thread that unites them is friendship and love. What begins as a small time eve teasing ends up in a relationship that displays a spectrum of emotions, debacles and re-unions.

Sidharth playing the quasi-hero, leaves a distinctive influence of a typical lover boy in us. Harini playing the full-time heroine is the most natural of all the characters. To use an often used cliche, amazingly brilliant performance. Not a typical heroine to just run around those lavender farms. To our surprise, she often gives a FINGER. Good one.

The other BOYS have done their best and ‘natural acting’ comes so easily to them. That innocent looking Kumar has given a flambuyoant performance. Vivek as Mangalam sir is a typical drunkard whom we find in every other bar in Chennai. He has downplayed his comic sense to match the character. The surprise is senthil’s cameo role. It is a sure shot shankar punch to explain Information is wealth through a most unassuming character of senthil. Glimpses of classic characterization.

A loosely written screenplay has let down shankar’s ambition of unfolding the carpet of The Pimple Age. Nearly the first half of the movie is spent to wade through the life of collegers. But there is honesty in the depiction. Every mischief of these boys is nothing but true. None of them has the slightest exaggeration. From girls to cigarettes to beers to porno movies to ‘first experiences’ do happen in the life of a college guy. Trying to pack all these mischief’s among these five boys made the boys look like bad exceptions of the college crowd. Though everyone who has gone through that phase could feel a pinch of them in these boys. If you can’t, write-off, you are an exception.

A R Rahman has added his part to the celebration. Seven songs which are certainly the best of tamil music, this year. Vaali’s lyrics for the Secret of Success is the best of all. The small songs, which haven’t appeared in the CDs, are worth a mention. ARR – Shankar combination is known for fantastic BGMs like Ni Sa Ri Sa in jeans etc.. ARR has not done his best in BGMs for Boys like what he did for the songs. Not a single BGM stays back in our minds.

Writer Sujatha‘s down-to-earth dialogues forms the core of the movie. Bringing in the local taminglish lingo of chennai has been a cakewalk for him. The punch comes when harini replies to her father, who ditched his lover for wealth. She says ” You kept my name as harini because it was your ex-girlfriends name. You are still living in thoughts of her. I don’t want to repeat you. I cannot ditch my boyfriend (munna) and then keep my son’s name as munna“. Listen to these lines with the context and you would appreciate it. Except for some dialogues, which are explicit, sujatha proves he is a clean observer of surroundings. The wineshop scene where the boys meet mangalam sir is typical. Dialogues like OTMP are very common in the badly lit, improperly maintained wineshops of chennai.

The proper villains of BOYS are the unwanted graphics. Trying his hand on 3D animation Shankar spoils the quality of songs. The BOOM BOOM song is the biggest let down. The 3D animated character of BOYS in-between this song is horrible. It spoiled the feel and the sets of the song. Those unwanted graphic leaves during ALE ALE are also irritating to the core. How can someone like shankar afford to include such cheap animation in the picturesque Tasmania gardens? Also Ravi K Chandran has done an OK job. Not like the powerful shots in Kannathil Muthamitaal.

Shankar’s over-confidence in his art of selling situations to audience has failed this time. Many scenes including the climax look very ordinary without any build-up sequences. Especially that most artificial scene where all the parents meet together just to hear the often-repeated dialogue that television spoils the kids, from vivek. If 22 crores was the original spending for boys, it’s a lavish waste of money.

Coming back to the controversies created by the HYPOCRITIC media and a portion of public who argue that the many scenes in BOYS are obscene and vulgar in nature. Go back a couple of years in the cinema history. The same Chennai had a special screening of Deep Mehta’s Fire exclusively for women in Anand theatre. What a movie to have special screening for women. Surprisingly the show was housefull. A movie that depicts an illegitimate relationship (this type of relationship is still illegitimate in India) between two women, in the same conservative Indian society, is running full houses. But a movie that depicts the lives of five boys as they are is protested to be cut left, right and center to accommodate public interest. Appreciate the height of bias. I’ll have the last laugh. Despite the shortcomings, just for the honesty of filmmaking, I support BOYS. Do you ?

P.S: Read it in Rediff, here

Is Vikram the demi-god ?

Is Vikram the demi-god ?


Producers, Distributors and Directors are all running behind him. He has been the money grosser for the last 2 years and he is expected to rock the box-office for many more years to come. He already has 2 years of dates fully booked for this next 10-12 upcoming films. And he is still cashing in with his Dhool which has just touched 150 days and expected to celebrate silver jubliee. The first and probably the last silver jubliee of the year.

But before the Dhool magic could fade away he is rocking his IPS chair in Saamy (The God). What a pleasurable movie experience it was to see Vikram performing the IPS officer of Thirunelveli with a professional ease. The ease resembles me Rajinikanth‘s role as Alex Pandian in Moondru Mugam. It is a role even a commoner who is no Rajini fan will appreciate for he did with his own style and command. But comparing Rajini with Vikram would be crime. They are players of their own style with Vikram taking over the place which Kamalhassan is leaving. While Kamalhassan is busy elevating himself to the international market in Cannes film festival by releasing his movies in Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) format. This format help in watching the whole movie as streaming media over the internet(even with a bad bandwidth). I have some more thoughts on this format and will write more on this, soon.

Vikram’s role as Aarusaamy in Saamy is commendable and he is reaching the pinnacle of his career and is expected to stay in top for sometime. It has given him a break from the commercial movies which followed Gemini. Saamy is still a pucca commercial movie but it is the Director Hari’s intelligent screenplay that gums the viewer. Saamy story is something which not many people can come to terms with. Aarusaamy comes to Thirunelveli districty as the Deputy Commissioner. Its been a place which is ruled by mafia, specifically by a king maker ‘n’ don called Perumal Pichai (Kottarao from the telugu cinedom). As a DC, saamy wants to perfom his duties honestly and effectively. His past experience with dons have been very effective but due to the political pressures he has had 8 transfers before settling here in Thirunelveli. He changes his strategy to accept bribe from the dons and also make them accept many of their mistakes, which hinder public people. All he wants is public safety for the people in the town. A practical police officer who also has a love life in the form of Trisha Krishnan. How he makes don come down to ground from their mafia kingdom is the rest of the movie.

Vikram is introduced as a rowdy himself and we come to know that he is in disguise to catch others in just few minutes. Follows is how he practically works his way out of the mafia web and how he succeeds. As he adopts new ways of taking a huge sword instead of the usual latti, against a group of people who tend to increase the public tension, Director Hari establishes himself as an intelligent director who knows what people like. We tend to agree with him that only by being practical police can face the dons. As he says to a don, Endha Aruvaa vettutnaalum Vettum, Enntha Thuppaki suttalum sudum and takes out an alternate pistol from his shoes to make the killing an unofficial one, we know the movie is heading towards a racy ending.

Trisha on the otherhand is introduced a brave girl who throws chili powder and locks Vikram inside the room mistaking him to be a thief. She does her little part far better than expected. A talent to look out for in the coming movies.

One of the most appreciable part is the comedy track by Vivek. Its better watched than written. Watch it to enjoy it.

Harris Jayaraj has done a good job. Kalyananthaan Kattikittu is the biggest hit offlate. All the FM stations keep playing through out the day. Also Pudichirukku’ song is picturized well and the BGMs go well with the movie.

But at the end of the movie what lingers in the mind is the energetic, manly and high-pitched Vikram and his acting skills for this is what tamil cinema has been waiting for. A by-runner for kamalhassan and money-grosser for the tamil cinema world. He is surely the present demi-god. Saamy!!.

Anbe Sivam – Literature in

Anbe Sivam – Literature in Tamil/Indian Cinema

As Kamalhassan admits, he creates literature. Movies are his way of literature just as Shakespeare, Kalki and RK Narayan wrote literature as books. Anbe Sivam [Love is God] does this thoroughly and thoughtfully. It creates a celluloid miracle with various elements that will just make you think what an incredible artist we have in Kamalhassan.

Anbe Sivam has a simple message to say. See god through love. But at the same time it doesn’t dig grave out of believers in god. Though at the first glance of the name Anbe Sivam, given the kamal’s personal atheist principles, you might think he is going to be a messenger of anti-god in this movie. But what emerges is a formula ; thesis + anti-thesis = synthesis. Kamal joins with Madhavan and comes out with a synthesis of ideas and truths. Now, whose ideas are thesis and anti-thesis in the movie, relies on your perspective.

Madhavan and Kamalhassan meet in a common situation of getting stuck in Bhuvaneshwar on their way to Chennai where they get enough time to share their ideologies and Maddy gets a hang of what life is. He is a lad who has seen lighter, brighter and creamy side of life being an ad filmmaker. He has never come across a situation where life hits reality on your face. Whereas, Kamal is all-knowing-yet-nagging guy whom you will meet in everyday life. Someone who has seen the full depth of life and one who has gone to end of life before disfiguring himself.

When they meet, Maddy gets irritated with the acquaintance of Kamalhassan and tries to ignore him. He realises after sometime that it is with the noble manners of Kamal he is able to get along and reach Chennai. The film talks about how Maddy gets to know the realities of life in this journey. The journey consuming the major part of the movie, kamal’s flashback about how he got disfigured and how he got to know ‘life’ is told as a small beautiful interlude. Kamal explains Maddy the realities of life in a rascally manner when Maddy tends to ignore them. When he experiences it himself, he believes them and starts looking life with full of love.

Kamal’s characterisation in Anbe Sivam is study on its own. A a street play artist, an angry young man, a man who is love, someone who went till the end of death and recovered, a common idiosyncratic man, a man suffering from disfiguration and above all a man full of love on everything are various dimensions of this Kamalhassan prism. How Kamal grips the audience consummately with this character of Nalla Sivam is magic. Much has been said about his obsession for make-up and he proves it once again with his big scar make-up in his face and his one shortened leg. Same with acting, he weaves a portrait of a common man whom we meet in everyday life. This common man talks and yaps so much and has opinion about everything in life but when you go near him and enquire, he would be a man of sheer greatness. Frankly speaking, the movie left me thinking what a great man this Nalla Sivam is.

Maddy is the goodie-goodie ad filmmaker. Again, someone whom we encounter in day-to-day life. A man, who lives among the latest tech gizmos and latest fads, suddenly loses them in one single day and ends in a strange situation with a talkative man. His character is a tight ropewalk. If it goes beyond he would sound like villain. Maddy, who comes from the Mani Ratnam camp, has done it exceedingly well. At times, we feel he reflects a pinch of character in all of us. It is like one of those days when you are still superfluous in life and suddenly by the turn of events, face the reality of life at your doorstep. How Maddy digests these sudden lessons of life and wades through them is well handled by him.

The background score by Vidyasagar is notable. Nee Naan Sivam song is one of the best things happened to this movie. Vairamuthu, the lyricist has penned extremely thought provoking lines in this song and the music stretches near to the Titanic song. If you understand tamil you would appreciate these lines in this song better. ‘Anbin neelam ethuvo, Athuvey vazhvin neelamadaa‘ meaning the length of your life is not measured by years but by the amount of love you have.

Another surprise of this movie is the communist ideologies. The street play song talks about communism and anti-capitalism in detail. Pralayan, a street play artist has written the full script for this song play. Orginally planned to be directed by Priyadarshan, the director of Kalapani, it went to the hands of Sundar C. But as expected every scene shows kamal’s personal touch.

The orissa train accident has been well picturised. Prabhakaran’s sets for this is amazing. Also most notable is Madhan‘s (Cartoonist and Journalist) sharp dialogues which gives this movie a different dimension. He has an amazing sense of logical humor. One scene when Maddy ignores a dog and he says to Kamal it is just another DOG. Kamal replies saying turn the word DOG and it results in GOD. This might sound a trivial joke but when you attach it with the context, the whole theatre blasted out.

Movies like this are a long awaited relief for Tamil cinema. It is a perfect combination of art and commercial cinema. Well, If Anbe Sivam is a hit, we will have much more sensible movies like this. If not, nothing will happen. Just as before, we will be satisfied to see our hero and heroine running around the Switzerland highway with jazzy colors, singing a semi-romantic stupid song. As you like it !!!