Ajith and the Flying Taurus

Ajith and the Flying Taurus

Ajith is desperately in need of a godfather. He needs someone who can teach him the do’s and don’ts of the Tamil film industry. I mean in no way to offend Ajithkumar or his acting skills. His recent press meet didn’t hit the bulls eye. He organized the press meet to convey his priorities and to bridge the gap between him and the media that was formed as a result of his addiction towards car racing.

Off late, the media has been talking about Ajith shying away slowly from movies and getting into his passion of car racing. Also his recent diwali flick Anjaneya, was a flop because it was very evident that the movie was made quickly without good planning. At this juncture, Ajith’s freethinking interviews that he was racing for the Super Star throne, created chaos among the industry. When Anjaneya fell, it was dubbed as Ajith’s interview was to fool his fans that he was still interested in filmdom.

Being at crossroads, Ajith’s recent press meet-cum-image building show was successful to a certain extent. As Ajith is also known for very outspoken interviews, this press meet displayed an organized Ajith who understood that his image has been shaken and wanted to bounce back again. There were promo-type-videos that were played that showed Ajith’s car racing achievements.

During his speech Ajith outlined his set priorities and how he manages his time between the filmdom and his car racing tournaments. But while briefing about his films and their schedules, he got emotional which made him talk presumptuously daring. It is when he was talking about his contemporaries and competitors his got a little gushy and made a statement to his fellow heroes that if they would step in his route, he wouldn’t mind to run on them. While the rest of the press meet displayed a gentlemanly Ajith, I couldn’t help thinking that he could have been a little subtler but firm in his ideas.

Ajith needs a godfather in the film industry to apprise him about the way to handle his fellow heroes and how his image would be spoiled if he makes such open comments about them. Everyone in that press meet knew whom he was referring to. Even you and I know who it is. But it takes a lot for a hero like him to be frank and outspoken. One quality which many of our celebrities lack badly.

He also introduced his website called flyingtaurus.com, named after his passion for flying and his zodiac Taurus, flying taurus shows how Tamil film heroes are become aware of their presence on the net. From Madhavan to Vikram and Surya have their internet presence already. Even Kamalhassan recently announced that his official home on the net would be kamalhassan.net.

Virumandi Movie Review

Virumandi Movie Review – Beyond The Horizons of Screenplay

Kamalhassan as Virumandi

The moment anything is reported or written, truth suffers. This is one of the most fundamental points in reporting news. The eye witness’s narrative is the most sought out at such times. At all possibility, the eye witness brings his perspective of the news. The moment a perspective is brought in, subjectivity creeps in. He selects which part of the news has to be told, which part of the news he remembers, which part he forgets and which part he compels himself to hide. Thus selection of the scene from eye witness becomes inevitable. Finally, the truth suffers. So what happens when truth suffers?

Excuse me for the cliché, no innocent be punished despite many criminals escape. The previous paragraph and the previous statement form the basis of Virumandi, Kamalhassan’s directorial venture. Virumandi also touches upon the fact that capital punishment needs to be abolished but it doesn’t dwell in this ideology like the Hollywood flick Dead Man Walking. Neither is Virumandi, an analysis of a death sentenced criminal’s mind. Virumandi is a just an observation of modern day, cell phone cultured rural folks of Tamil Nadu. There is however a message implied in this observation which is made without passing judgments on their life style, their sentiments and their everyday outcries. This message implied displays the genius in Kamal. Only experienced directors and writers are capable of such subtle messages.

Virumandi by itself is like a festival of sorts. It is sensational at all times like a roller coaster with a huge cast and happening moments. Never dull and never a story-thirsty movie. It deals with slice-of-life of a 20ish naive-yet-brave Virumandi from a distant village in Theni district who is caught in a web of unscrupulous and covetous people. He check-mates their desirous behavior with a humanitarian cause and erupts at the loss of his beloved wife. As situations and the fickle minded people turn against him, he gets dubbed as a criminal who is responsible for the killings of 24 people and is awarded a death penalty. What would Virumandi do at this juncture of being presented a death sentence for no mistake of his? Being brought up with principles and no fear, Virumandi emerges as a demi-god in the prison, when situations force him and comes out of his gloominess. He gets a chance to fight for his right.

Kamalhassan‘s avatar as a director has overtaken the actor Kamalhassan. The director emerges as the clear winner amongst his dual role. The screenplay also becomes the indisputable part of Virumandi’s victory. He believes in the fact that no star bigger than a movie, no actor bigger than a script. Being presented with two narratives of the same story, Kamalhassan unfolds a new story telling method which appears to be a badly planned movie at first. But as the movie races into the second hour you would gasp as to why it looked like badly planned at the beginning. The screenplay which Kamal has etched out is presented with the help of two narratives. One by the witness and one by the criminal himself. As the villainy Kothala Thevar (Pasupathy) who is the approver of the crime describes the scene of crime, you and I would believe that Virumandi is a real Sandiyar. But when the Virumandi, the criminal himself opens up, we know why Virumandi is a great humanist rather than a Sandiyan or Sandiyar. Virumandi, the dubbed criminal clearly details up the reasons and situations leading him to this unforeseen situation. A brave approach in film-making in spite of knowing that the story could be confusing at the start. However, we feel like being dropped in midst of a village clash and also the reason for the clash hasn’t been described clearly in the start. The Madurai dialect and their idioms can be against the understanding of the city cultured audience. But that is the sacrifice Kamal is ready to make for sake of realism. Don’t bother. He has also compromised a little because his major audiences are philistines and they only crave for Dhool movie types.

As Kamalhassan says, the entire cast consists of actors who have executed their job religiously. Sometimes they even overtake Kamalhassan in terms of performance. As the story requires more of other actors, Kamal has downplayed his title role to suit the story. The panchayat and the romance sequences brings back the versatile actor in Kamalhassan, however, you can’t wipe away the craving for more actor Kamal. Kamal has adopted a heroic introduction in the jallikattu for him unlike his other movies. But it gives his fans some cheerful time.

Abirami as Annalakshmi is the immaculate suit for the role of a rascally village girl. With just her expressive eyes, she sits upright in our hearts and also in Virumandi’s. Also her romance with Virumandi, though short-lived, is consummate. She slowly converts the village burnout, Virumandi, into a vitalized soul with her vivacious character. Truly, she isn’t for the commercial stuff, a cut-above in the existing lot of actresses.

The ‘Dhool’ Villain Pasupathy as Kothala Thevar is one of the most interesting villains in the present Tamil films. With his fantastical body language and accent, he creates a modern day M.R Radha. A great talent to look out for. The mythological story of Virumandi calls Peykkaaman as the true villain of Virumandi. So here he is in the form of police officer Peykkaaman(Shanmugam). Shanmugam has done his job well. A good find for this movie.

Though advertised as main characters Nasser and Napoleon appear as cameo. Rohini as Angela Kattamuthu also appears in an important cameo role as a documentary maker and also as an activist against capital punishment.

Illayaraja crosses his set boundaries in background score. As said often, he introduces silence as the only music at times which really carries the movie to a different dimension. His music has overtaken his off late hit Pithamahan. The film flirts a romantic interlude between Kamal and Abirami. Coupled with Kamal’s ability and Illayaraja’s melodious touch, it is one of the most poetic sequences in the movie. Unnai Vida song is picturised with great passion and just mesmerizes the viewer. Shreya Goshal and Kamalhassan render this great number. Other songs are very movie oriented and they shine when watched with the context. Karbakiraham Vittu Saami song is placed in the climax and is a real goose bumper.

Kesav Prakash, the cinematographer and Prabhakar, the art director have created a true village in Campa Cola grounds. Very Appreciable effort. The editor’s job is also commendable. Avid Editing, a new technique in editing which occupied most part of Kakkha Kakkha is certainly missing. It would have helped to speed up the movie when required.

The sub-plot in the prison makes for a good climax but gives a detached feeling from the main story. The ending is very heroic but the story is minisculed by then. It’s a perfect judgemental move by the director to place a cinematic ending for the front benchers. The mix of good cinema and commercial cinema would pull more people thereby taking care of financial success, something thats essential for Kamalhassan. The movie however sports gore violence and the hero himself breaks couple of ribs and mutilates pairs of hands before getting behind the bars. Going by the theory, anything which is approximates is unreal, Kamal portrays a village so true that even the smallest of violence is captured with an eye for detail. But this itself takes the movie to one of the most violent Tamil movies list of all-time. The Jallikattu, Panchayat, Thiruvizha are all picturised with a true to life manner which makes it an offbeat movie.

Death Penalty Issue is still a virgin pasture for Tamil cinema though a recent movie of Lenin called Orukku Nooru Perr dealt with a similar issue. Kamal hasn’t dug deep into this but he has superfluously dusted upon the subject. It is an issue which could have been detailed. Given his recent experiences in dealing with intellectual issues in Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam, he has just kept this issue like a pickle for the climax. The movie however captures the feelings of a victim-of-situations in detail. Some nuances like the videotaping and prisoner insurrection are amazingly sketched.

Kamalhassan has won in proving a point to the people who thought Sandiyar would spark off caste related issues. With Virumandi, new screenplay techniques are taken beyond horizon to prove that this Kollywood industry has a very important role to play in the International Film history. Virumandi makes up the gap for good meaningful cinema. Good Cinema would be appreciated by good audience. Are you one?

The Rising of Marudhanayagam :

[Pic: movies.bizhat.com]

Yesterday was Aamir’s day. Ketan Mehta‘s much expected The Rising had the rising. The muhurat of The Rising was staged yesterday with the chief guest as Prince Charles to clap the first shot.

The Rising is all about the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. Also called as the Sepoy Mutiny, the first war of indian independence started because of a rumor that new rifle cartridges that british introduced had lubricant oil made from the fat of animals. The fat of sacred cows was against religious beliefs of Hindus and for muslims it was the pig fat. The sepoys started rising against the british colonization, which became the root of Indian Independence. The rebellion also saw the end of the East India Company’s rule in India. Power was transferred to the British Crown in 1858 by an Act of British Parliament. The states of India, which was divided until then, recognized the importance of unity and started fighting against the british. Magal Pandey a young warrior shot his british commander in Meerut when the commander forced the troops to use the rifles lubricated with fats of animanls. Heroes were born and died during this insurrection. I still remember all this history from my high school history textbooks. Especially Indian Independence struggle was my second favorite history topic after the renaissance.

So Aamir Khan, the man who was instrumental to take Indian cinema very close to Oscars, stars as Mangal Pandey, the protagonist in The Rising. With A R Rahman hooking on to the keyboard for this movie, I am sure it is a sure shot success.

Here is the other angle, the tragedy, the untold story, and the forgotten man – Kamalhassan, who was well ahead in this arena of historical films. Marudhanayagam was the most well planned, scrutinized and thoughtfully executed movie, which is in the storeroom of Kamal’s mandaveli house. If The Rising had Prince Charles, Marudhanayagam had the Queen herself clap for the first shot. If Aamir has grown hairs all over his head, this man Kamal, had even grown a much-appreciated beard for this Marudhanayagam. Well that was just a glimpse of silly similarities.

As a fact, which many of us don’t know, Kamal was in France for 30 days with a playwright for a discussion over the screenplay of Marudhanayagam. After that Kamalhassan remarked in an interview, some of his best discussion about films where with this playwright in France. Sarika, Kamal’s former wife, made a costly trip to world museums to get details about the sample costumes of the British during the 18th century. And above all there was huge fort constructed in Sri Perumbuthur where the main part of the shooting went on for more than 90 days. What remains after 4 years and 6 months of the initial muhurat is just half an hour of the movie. After editing the whole shoot Kamalhassan remarked in an interview that he has just shot 30 min of the movie.

Marudhanayagam itself is Kamal’s magnum opus and it is for huge sum of money required for his dream project Marudhanayagam, he started acting in a string of comedies like Thennali and PKS. But as he concludes he needs close to 100 crores for the entire movie to be shot. So until someone is able to give him a fair share of investment, that half-an-hour of Marudhanayagam would remain in the dumps of his house.

The Rising is also a similar movie. However, It is not the same. Rising is about the fight for Indian Independence during 19th century. But Marudhanayagam is a story about a small time king from Madurai who was the root of Indian uprising against the British. He existed in 17th-18th century and is even placed much before Veerapandya Kattabomman in pages of history. It is said that analyzing Marudhanayagam’s life will lead to a path of the war which India chose to fight the British.

Since The Rising is on the sets already and poised to release next year it would definitely make Marudhanayagam look similar in approach. I am not being biased about Kamal’s Marudhanayagam. It’s just that someone’s dreams are shattered for he wanted to have first leap into such a modern movie making style of an historical movie. I am sure Rising will be India’s first leap into the rows of grand international movies like Titanic, Schindler’s List and Braveheart.

All these Sony and Columbia movies that are sponsoring for some mushy mushy Hindi flicks, can come forward for this venture of Marudhanayagam. If only someone could make Kamal’s dream come true, he can prove to be the best among the rest.

The happy-go-lucky creativists (!!!??) :

The happy-go-lucky creativists (!!!??) :
Offlate, i have been thinking about the jobs of people in creative arts. Unlike others, they have a very pleasant life from which they derive inspiration for their creative outbursts. Imagine Mani Ratnam’s daily routine : get up late, have a coffee, read newspaper, water gardens, take bath , watch movies, meet for the story discussion , come back home for lunch etc. When i was discussing this with a like-minded friend , he suddenly turned the table and started an argument that creative people are at risk of their career and family. I agreed to him that there is a lot of risk involved in creative arts area . If u fail, then you are out. After 5 coffees and 3 hours of hot hot discussion we saw some light at the end of the tunnel when we came to a understaning of involving creative expression in whatever work we do. Like, while doing a software design show how creative you can be. If u are clerk , show creativity in maintaining books of accounts.

Thinking back, I am skeptical about that idea. Is that possible?. These suggestions do work out temporarily. On the long run , you get fizzled out in 2 to 3 moths again. Probably people who disike mundane life should landup in a job of their love and passion. Like how you give a child a toy of building blocks and instruct is he/she can build it , then he/she will be awarded a chocolate. wow, what a deal. happiness in return for doing something that gives me happiness. I like it …but still I love to be Mani Ratnam and enjoy the finer aspects of life. huh!!