This week, the fanboy friday film has released a little too soon. On a wednesday. Already a lot of complaints, “Machi Megan Fox illayam, yaaro Rosie Huntington Whiteleyaam. 3D vera. Can’t wait da.” The poor office going people. But what heights of loyalty. I saw this , wait-not-so-soon-adjective film in the new AGS multiplex. It was like travelling to another city for a night show and felt like one of those shady weekend sneakouts to you-know-where and to do you-know-what. I reach there and I see a sundry mix of Polaris, Cognizant and Ford employees care free about their Thursday work-day issues. They have achieved something for their comfort food appetite by 2 o’clock, post-midnight.

For myself, I bought a Thumbs-Up tin to get ready for the latest American cheese burger in town. Oh, what cheese. “Yuck”. It is the sound of the cheese dallops that have fallen on your food.

The updated franchise of everything that you want to be in a film, to entertain. “Arre , what art film and Tarantino rip-off film noir and all. I can Haz Transformers!!!! It is so awesome. bitchen. bad alien shiz. Optimus kicks azzz.” For only we trust in Michael Bay to entertain us in his high confidence on what sells. For the arbit film goer who comes from 20 years behind (probably an uncle who thinks Octopussy is the best Hollywood film ever, “oh his old-fanboy days”) will be watching a truck (painted red and blue, but comes from space), before even enters, to be cheered with whistles and signatory-heavy-“Otha”. Now, get ready to say a bunch of wows.

"Best Burgers in town"

For getting actors like John Malkovich to say “Bitchen”, John Turturro to say “That kid is a bad-alien magnet” and Frances Mc Dormand looking at a big ass Autobot with scorn, “Optimus, this is all on you” , the film is an ad for their indisciplined comdey days of theatre. (Here is where Spoilers actually sell the film even more, so am just going ahead) This is the latest-updated software, geek boys. It has everything. 3D-check. CGI-check. Heavier Optimus Prime voice intro-check. Snippets of past footage to get all serious about the plot in the beginning (‘cuz you know, you can’t waste time during the movie, explaining the main plots.) Only stuff that’s not too tough to comprehend, like “Let’s roll” and “In just a few minutes, you’ll be Sentinel’s bitch”.-check. Get three real actors (possibly the ones that have baited the Oscars previously) to get the criticboys buy the tickets.-check. Bringing the latest shiz that’s on the filmbuzz hits.-check. You like HansZimmer music? O.K. wait till you see thi–heavy Hans Zimmer burrssssssounds-check. We have some human stunts too, not just a robot movie (who made fun of us huh? )-check. Hangover 2 type-inappropriate gay humour- check. Oh we even have the same Asian guy who ROFL-ed you.-check. Welcome, Ken Jeong to corpowhoring in the capitalist pinnacle of the pyramid’s self-actualiZation point. You have successfully sold yourself. Congrats. Black man brotherhood “‘Cuz that asshole killed my friends too.”-check. (Common get the fuck over it!). The mandatory Sam Whitwicky and inappropriate parental advice scene.-check. The climax,the anti-climax and the anti-anti-climax-check,check,check. There is everything. And Poor fucking Buzz Aldrin.sigh-check.

They introduce Rosie Huntington-Whiteley with a soft-toy-bunny inuendo, because you know, She is not JUST a fill-in replacement or a doll that just looks different. She rechristened with an auspicious long-leg shot (oh all the dollars) for good luck and claims for betterment. She breaks up with him, oh infact, she rips off the softoy’s legs in frust. How cute. Now, that’s real acting man. clap clap Also, she is always running here and there with nuts and bolts flying and transforming in the slow-motioned air. This is the high point in the franchise, I think. It can even be termed as the “dame and debris” scenario. This time it comes with a helpless British accent, “Loooouuuke” (look).

But seriously, the film makes you ponder on some important things. Have we sold out to be entertained in 3D while we are sojourned into a pseudo-American environment to support in their Middle East connotations ,foreign policies (silent witnesses again but this time in a theatre) and Obama humour, just to gape at colourful robots which look like hot wheels cars, botched up and rearranged by an angry dyslexic kid?. Do we need someone to actually say,“Why do the Decepticons always get the good shit” for later the hero robot to come swashbuckling in a stretch of demolishing action? Have we all started to enjoy this? Is this even our country? If we are able to accustom ourselves to so much alineation both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, where are we heading to? Have we completely embraced globalization without knowing what it actually means? What is this urge to alienate humans in Earth and derive fascination to bond with Robots,(and they also mirror humans/earthlings with beards and blood and spit like venomous snakes), are these even going to be in our future text books of history. Do you want it to be?

Heh. Just Kidding. Go enjoy your burger. You deserve it after a hard day’s work. By the way, It is fucking long–> Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Perhaps this is an extrapolation of that orgasm of “we-are-all-humans” and “we-need-to-stay-together” to win over Artificial/ExtraTerrestrial/GinormousBeings , the sour-cream onion of the aftertaste that Speilberg’s utopia dream leaves after facing a nightmare. Oh, the military sentiment and the romance hug. How could I forget.


Avan Ivan.

Avan Ivan is probably the most casual film, Bala has ever taken. But wait for it, in here you have the previlege to see him get carried away by his characters and lose the need for a story. You get to his simplistic view on things, where he decides to narrate about the story of him and yeah, him. These two people, in the course of the film are not humiliated nor tortured nor cut-out to emotionally drain us by the end, because this time Bala doesn’t wish to get serious. Well, not as serious relatively speaking, post a heavy and esoteric Naan Kadavul


In recent interviews Bala was seen a little concerned (that in itself is a surprise for someone who primarily doesn’t give a fuck) on people thinking tat he was capable only to evoke people with powerful onscreen distress and he seemed to have confidently let a clue hang around that he was in fact, writing a comedy.

At one point, his pen has made you laugh so much that you stop realising that this is his first-time serious indulgence into such full-time practices and at another point, he can’t sustain it, therby making the gaping hole in the plotline visible for those horrible seconds. Interesting to see that his anger has dropped short. He is seen as breezy and bright as ever, with the help of Arthur.C.Wilson, in a lazy drunken first half filled with his type of real world comedy. In his lay man world, people are raw; and the most receptive and the sensitive have a deep drunken wisdom on real word politics and an intentional religious mockery. (My favourite being ,”Who is considered to be the second Gandhi?”) In fact, Kumbudren Saami (Arya) could have just been a drunken Bala on a goodol’ times types night. You know, a night only with your old, close friends, who already know about your stubborn opinions. Vishal on the other hand, in all this wide space, has been given, well, all this wide space to spice up a joy ride. Walter Vanangamudi, an effeminate guy with a squint eye as a struggling actor in a Bala film , well that is #enoughsaid on Vishal’s efforts in making use of his bone in his wet dream. This is in reference to the immense pictorial masks that Bala finds in his actors. If not for the posters, you’d probably be gaping at Vishal’s face just like how he gapes peculiarly when he is shown first onscreen. (What did they do to his face?!)

It’s also more of his loyalty to bring acting back to the basics, constantly, after his colourful character sketching ( bright bermuda wearing Arya and underwear sporting Vishal). He does this so elaborately in one scene during the cameo of Surya and his Agaram Foundation speech. The nine famous masks of an actor (Navarasam) and what it actually means to evoke people who see his creations. Probably, he has loved and studied it so much that it is amazing in Avan Ivan too, whenever he evokes us at his own will, command and in his own time.

The story is loosely about the two step brothers and their beloved patriarch figure known as Highness (GM Kumar) who is respected all over the town. He is the one they seem to care for any judgements that shall be made on them/about them. Otherwise, both seem to be unruly kids entertaining their mothers having entertaining fights, dissing each other. Its a talk of the town. They also seem to be in love, comfortably simultaneous. Constable Baby (Janani Iyer) and a forgettable Thenmozhi (Madhu Shalini). By this time , the Bala fanatics are searching for some rude thing to happen, some shattering murder or humiliation and with every passing joke, he/she is squirming in his seat. Some punishment please. With this, Bala adresses in his own film, seen in a hilarious comedy track (the final one I think) set for a drunken Arya where he makes fun of himself, Surya well about the whole tinsel town and film conceptualism as such. He runs to the screen, stretching his hands like how a director would, shouting, “Directttionnnnn”. Now, that’s balls. Just when a drunken Highness gets all serious, the smart-mouth fat kid cuts in, “Nalla padam onnum oditturukku, unnoda bitta niruthiyyaa”. There, there. Bala by now, has outdone his purpose with that outrageously subversive piece of satire. It almost seems that he is in full freedom to shape his content to accommodate his wild independent thoughts.

But all the fanboy regrets pile up and one of them might think this might be a Raavanan yet again, when their counterpart Mani Ratnam veriyans started to overthink. So on the course you realise there is a familial contagion that surrounds Highness and this, as a reluctant Bala continues to write shying away from all his jollygoods, finally decides as his plot fulcrum. The final climax will be your curry. The process has been to increase your appetite and not to hog on your favourite appetizers.

At many times during the later half of the film, you are again amazed at how easily he can bring you to his terms. Just. Like. That. You begin to think this film is just like any other film of his; about the common human fabric. A process of dehumanization has been depicted and shared. For in Bala’s world, the rules are just as simple as life and death. In all the smiles and laughter he creates, who better than Bala can come and wipe it off your face? In just a couple of minutes he can demand you to care.

There is no good or bad here. It is a Bala film. Fanatics might have fanboy regret. People who don’t like Bala films i.e people who say “always a depressing ending, when will he change?”, you probably wouldn’t enjoy and people who just casually watch films, GO WATCH for who knows you might like his true,genuine wit.

In his trademark, freeze frame “A film by Bala”, two people stand side by side in a silhouette. This time, probably there is a chance of redemption. A hope of brotherhood to be continued and revived to be understood. Although this time, you are rooting for the people who have made you laugh and not for the people who made you cry. That is the difference.

Paint it Black.

So, here’s that film that had enough trouble and pre-release buzz (52 cuts and that Rajini-Kamal inuendo?) and post-release it’s getting trouble for it’s originality in question?  Man.

This film had a lot of buzz to get the cinephile critic in every enthusiastic film-lover/film-watcher/self-acclaimed-film-connoisseur “up and about” (too much up could do good but too much about negates the whole purpose) to bring about his Tarantino (poor guy leave him alone, already!) and Guy Ritchie (like as though these templates belong only to him) comparisons to get his expectations alive again and quick yardscale measurements to decide whether or not it can be termed as a classic.  Ah Shut it please. When was the last time you have seen anything pay so much attention to tamil pulp and pop culture with such vibrant character dimensions and rich black humour? And oh all of a sudden you became too good for this?

I came about this tweet the other day. 

This is the sad truth and one must really try to come out of that narcotic phase. Hollywood creates more crap manufactured mundaneness than anyone in the world, atleast compared to the huge new wave of Tamil films that appear in much better sense . A thoughtless claim such as a Tarantino-inspired take is a tight slap on Thiagarajan Kumararaja, who took the pains to bring/make the film here with you-know-what-all obstacles. Getting minute referential pleasures is one thing but obsessive correlation thinking it improves their perspective is, sad.

Kumararaja has given a unique film to come in a long time and that yellow black template would reach cult status,if not now then maybe a few years later. More than tagging it as the FIRST TAMIL NEO-NOIR , this film has such hilarious intent at the saddest points. That, in exactness builds the generics of any Black Comedy, though here, it takes a while to set in-  its own sweet time.

That piano note that lingers. Remember?
This is going to stay with you for a long time.

Then there are references of it being a part of Ramayana and all those animal names. (Pity, a director can’t even name his film’s title a little off the charts without pre-release tagging ?(worst kind)) Meh. Don’t care. There are other fascinations that make the film an utter pleasure to silently watch, listen and laugh out loud with a bitter tone of sadness, as an aftertaste. Now that doesn’t come easy. Probably on the likes of a 90’s Kusturica classic. Do I tell about the number of timely Ilayaraja hits that slowly surround you ? Or  about the pimped-up black low-rider with red-seat covers that occupies most of the first half? Or about the one stop-slow clap one liners? STOP reading this GO WATCH NOW.

The film starts with a wall painted with yellow rings on a black background (or maybe its a wallpaper). That room is apparently like a lion’s den. The film returns back to the same room repeatedly during the course of a secret romance between Sappai (Ravi Krishna) and Subbu (Yasmin Ponappa), who seem to be the only domesticated in-house beings. Jackie Shroff as Singamperumal? Nope not impressed actually. He worked more as a quirk comic relief (Oh, and what was that face grin? A roar was it? BAD.) I wonder why Nasser wasn’t called. He would’ve been fabulous , perhaps an effortless sweep too (No need to get nude and all :P). A Bharathiraja could’ve made it more entertaining.

Anyways, going further into the film with the gangster’s car is like strolling casually with Kumararaja’s well conceived subplots brought into an exhibition through yellow lights from his black silhouettes (Ex: Kodukkapalli and his son, drinking with the “powder”-peddler). In fact, in the initial scenes we see the characters emerge from dark shadows as a talkative gang member sets up ‘interesting’ stories about his aunty adventures. Both Sappai and Pasupathy take presence before you know when. These people have been there. They have been listening to the stories as well. Just like us. The virtual audience. That’s why when Pasupathy shouts to interrupt the gang member’s vulgar comedy, you immediately understand it. There is some sort of gravity, a story , a deal-to- be-made involved. Such efforts taken for lighting as though they took place on a stage. (So here is where one applaudes P.S.Vinod like as though you’ve known him for life :P).

Then again, there, on the table, you see a huge empty liquor bottle they sit around, to talk. A modulated man-shop-talk on libido; voiced just high for everyone around the table to get the joke and low enough to not disturb their sex-hungry, impotent boss. Probably that’s the table they sit around daily. You see that the entire film. Attention to detail like these make the setting and the happening of Kumararaja’s story an instantly believable and delicious pastiche of different pop-cults but made only with his salt and spice for taste. Look at the tea stalls he stops with you. The songs that he has chosen to linger at the back of your ear. The settings of Singaperumal’s house. Cycles and Rusty cars everywhere , the ice-cream trolley and oh, that lonely PCO section of a departmental store. These are his elements.

Also, such words out of his pen is not only commendable achievement as a writer (Oram-Po’s dialogues remember?) but also a subtle plotter. A loud speaker phone as a plot-moving device? Wow. (bring your Tarantino-talks now). There is a scene just after the second half that builds a chase sequence. Here, as Pasupathy runs with jarring slow-mo and alternating visual cuts with the BGM jumping from what seemed to be a Massive Attack song and the original BGM score with diegetic sounds, he also conscientiously narrates on the daily course of action. An action in need. The need of the hour. Now there is one of the many director’s loud cheers to popular culture in noir film. Not to mention the elaborate Mariachi music that accompanies the bloody gang fight. This I believe doesn’t belong only/even to Tarantino. It is the sweet sound of violence washed away by blood.

This piece named as “Kodukkapuli and Kaalai 2” by YSR probably , again, ‘probably’ reminds you of Jean Pierre Juenet’s films.
But in short Yuvan has done it this time, all though I wish he had done something about those long silences (Some where a little too long). But I don’t know about how the director sees it. He tells in an interview that he sweeps you off your feet. I don’t think I did. But more interesting things happen in that chain of interviews.

Here you can see how sad cinema media has become. In each of the director short crisp replies lie his pride on his work to avoid such redundant questions. In fact you can actually tell what her (the host) next question would be.

Sampath as Pasupathy is in total comfort. Now there’s potential to be fully used. Later into the film, he is the one telling the story to you (interesting that the narration starts late into the film) about his animal adrenaline thoughts of survival from other animals that are closing on him (Two elephants and a lion, hilarious if you think like that- one should STOP it). But the match winner surely is Somasundaram (Kodukkapuli’s dad) What a find. (and here is where one uses extragavant adjectives to describe the child artist talent, “Veyyil” Vasanth. Like Singamperumal tells. “Beautiful.Wonderful.Marvellous.”). Yasmin’s accent is a mood-killer obviously after such beautifully free flowing galeej tamil from the gang, which in importance builds the conversational narrative that the film treads on. Gajenderan and Gajapathy so and so. Someone with an eye for low-budget-effective casting. You would’ve seen for yourself (Assuming you’ve watched).

Other than occasionally testing your patience, the film is cleverly pushing the story of THAT unfortunate day of an aging don. End of Story. Don’t look too much for your mind’s eye may get spoiled.

After all the claims that this was an offbeat violent drama or something (all unnecessary buzz), it is clearly visible that is in fact good commercial cinema that has been sold. In fact I thought this could’ve just been a Venkat Prabhu film (you know, like Saroja) if he had gotten all serious.

A film that doesn’t need to make sounds with it’s credits. A clear must watch. A homage to tamil pop culture painted with shades of black.

And at others who constantly find the need to compare films with each other, First, how does one measure a film readily whether it’s a CLASSIC or not? , Second, how could you possibly LOOK for something in a film that happened in another film? (I mean wouldn’t that be stupid of the director,plus I guess he knows the better side of film . Maybe if you watch a film with pre-conceived notions you’re watching more than you are shown.) Third, if you want to compare references , there are many film quizzes. Do go take part, win something and feel happy yourself , thanks.

Catching Up #4 (contd.)

Disclaimer- In what MUST be said, “important” films (rightly called) that must be watched, I did so withNandhalala and Yuddham Sei.I was completely engrossed in both the above mentioned films. What follows is a mere attempt to try and understand what makes Mysskin an important, yet a little obsessed filmmaker. (also, IMHO)

For all who know Mysskin and those who have read Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot, Mysskin’s casting as Baskar Mani seemed obvious. Not for me. In fact one has look through what Prince Myshkin was all about. Whatever it maybe, Mysskin’s Baskar Mani character was seen much with passion more than accuracy, which leads us to some seemingly unexceptional acting that went loose at the fag end of the film. (In a highly important scene, where Mysskin tries to re-nourish his mother back to sanity, he walks out from shadows and beams at the sun, his face doesn’t quite show ignorance(which had been the common streak of his behaviour till now)but a wide unrelatable wisdom for a second and then starts to walk his usual monotonous way. This and the scene where he makes Agil laugh by taking the helmet from who looked like a fat-military-camp trainee – emotional intelligence of Prince Myshkin, final breakdown when he sees his mother, FAIL)

On the Road.

I would not discuss of the various imageries that were brought into the film, some tastefully and some probably too ambitious (But What Brilliance from IlayaRaja). If you want to know about them read this well-observed review and one other which so rightly calls it an Ilayaraja film (Onnukkonnu and the importance of unconditional love and it’s constant need for nourishment).

Nandhalala on its broader sense claims for terms like visual poetry and dialogue-less magnificence, but still remains in Mysskin’s stubborn vision. The entire film was scripted into a road movie which made Agi‘s maternal needs almost too heavy on the first slow-motion shot (close-up at the entrance of the school). It didn’t tell much as it had to be taken out instead of being given by the director(Later into the film you realise the film is more about human empathy that exudes the urge for maternal affection and that both are connected emotionallly). This in real makes Nandhalala’s content and Mysskin’s emotional intent to an interesting place. The Road, where the common man lives. There are other sequential shots that follow, similar to the afore-mentioned which further makes Mysskin someone constantly testing the receptive intelligence of the audience and this at times would make the film rigid, just like it characters, that one might begin to lose interest (the common audience, I mean).

Now at this point one doesn’t compare it to the “other mundane films” and give Mysskin a higher moral ground. and not going to talk about Kikujiro as well.

Mysskin is a cinephile’s dream come true. He is the film-maker for the avid-cinema lover. The one that observes. Especially, North-East-Asian cinema. It is abundant satisfaction that it is not so much of his inspiration in content,but more into technique.

In my interest, the emotional boundaries that his characters visibly depict in their physicality.

For example both Agil and Baskar Mani walk and talk in manufactured syllables with little or better-said in more emotional accuracy. There is not an extra drop of a syllable dripping after they have spoken. Now, this even though one might say characterizes their stagnant maturity, do observe the other characters that come and go. In the first shot, the happenings of Agil’s life are shown almost in a mechanical flow chart. He takes his blind-grandmother to do her business, wait outside and almost like nothing else seems to bother him nor does the director wishes to show even if there is, the characters do their work and walk on-screen like they were given a purpose to do so and so. This is more evident in the road characters they come across on how purposeful they are on screen. This is seen frequently in Korean films where subjectively the characters walk in silence or only diegetic sound presence.

A quick example on the impact of diegetic sound presence could be that beautiful scene in Kill Bill Vol 1where during Beatrix Kiddo and O-Ren(Cottonmouth) Ishii‘s showdown in the snow, a tiered bamboo fountain beats in rhythm to the water that flows in it (allthough this was done for tempo-tension).

This alienates the character(s) in observation and makes the story more purposeful in intent than other unnecessary secondary characters brought for careless diversion in the name of realism. Although this favours focussing on the subject content , it doesn’t excuse for how many times Mysskin uses this to his own satisfaction. It can be observed a lot in Yuddham Sei too, whenever Cheran stumbles upon new evidence or a breakthrough not only does the music beckons but Cheran too breaks to a run more often than usual, but until then, he rigidly walks and talks just like any other day.

Even with all his compulsive technical habits Nandhalala flows in deep emotional waters scoring in a huge way with all the hope in a better world for those two ignorant souls that wander on the screen/on the sunny roads of their lost life. My favourite was the lorry driver and the farmer girl sequences more than the daily-sex-worker(played by Sniktha), don’t know why. Such pleasantry.

Street Thriller

A lot of Mysskin’s obsessive camera techniques,more needless in Yuddham Sei seem to work too much on his stories. The initial conversational duel between JK and his superior officer is cinematographed with a tiresome to-and-fro, the unwanted 360 shot when a disheartened wife with disheveled hair wails about on her dead husband and not to mention those shots where in Mysskin captures all the pairs of legs in the world (experimented in Anjaadhey).

But there are commendable sequences in Yuddham Sei which almost opens and runs like a trip-pop song; the pen-knife close combat on the over-head bridge was highly entertaining and the infamous finale climax set-up where a gun-weilding JK is being voyeuristically followed by villainns here and there, were all elegance. I don’t wish to talk about the predictability of Dr.Purushothaman‘s antics ,his wife’s eye-bulging theatrics, unusually boring villain or the unbelievable captivity of JK’s sister, because it might spoil the validity of a cop-thriller that Mysskin has took pains to craft in his own commanding will. The film had so many fertile settings on the street which makes the film a street thriller if you may wish to call it so. Bathed in darkness other than the occasional yellow light, the film showed just what we needed to see and only that.

Mysskin has become an increasingly important filmmaker, atleast among his cinephile fans. His obsessions must find a quieter place on his screen and if done so, he becomes even more important.

In what maybe termed as the Tamil New Wave(post-Paruthiveeran and Subramanyapuram), I did watch the decent effort that ThoongaNagaram was. Now, looking forward to watch Eththan (That Vimal is good!). In the present screen, I chose to skip Engeyum Kadhal; In my defense, after reading this hilarious review how does one wish to listen Harris “ThaejaRecord” Jeyaraj in the big screen after all those TV promos?

posted first at clapsandboos.com