Whistle Hustle.

A few months back, I had gone to the theatres to watch John Carter (4th row from behind the back, I think, accompanied unfortunately by family) and as soon as Taylor Kitsch jumped up the air to interfere in that Barsoom mid-air war scene, set in a pretentiously kitschy setting ,whistles started to whiplash from around the back seats. Now, at that time, some part of me wanted to whistle is another matter (you see why I said “unfortunately by family”?). (That these same whistles made entry during Deja Thoris’s (Lynn Collins) entry is another matter -note: iron-clad skimpiness) , but these whistles were the same ones that filled the hall when I watched Surya in Ezham Arivu and Ajith in Billa and Vijay in umm.. (it’s been a long time since I watched an Ilaya Thalapathy’s movie), well never mind, but by now it’s obvious that it’s just not about the whistles.

Although, what was interesting in the John Carter film is that it reminded me of the wide Transformers (also replace Deja Thoris with Megan Fox’s strategically angled bike seat entry, yeah well come on!, it was obvious) fanship that had gathered around in metro cities last year, like forest fire. Megatron could very well match a Vishal or a Jeeva here. But the key being, John Carter is a film that had hit the theatres for the first time, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ (Tarzan’s creator) first of Barsoom series (A Princess from Mars), hence the characters that walked on screen were totally new and still Carter’s long jump got the same treatment as Dhanush’s triple swirl somersault in Sullan or Vijay’s facing-the-villain-sodakkusodakku (insert “seriously guys, there is only one Rajini” dialogue) or Ajith’s demonic laugh, say, here {http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFEvLfauKYE} . It’s interesting to note how the heroism trope works among us. It’s almost so easy for us to embrace a hero jumping 30 storeys high to land on a space shuttle for the first time (allthough, here it has a scientifically constructive explanation, not that it matters, because the adoration is equanimous) and this, {http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdAJtmiFvVk&feature=related} (say), like a hundred times.

As much as cinema in Tamil filmdom has changed and extensive hero worship has annealed (I would rather call Vijay, Ajith, Surya and Vikram a compulsive hangover) to a comfortably warm region, we still have films like Vettai with a pudgy Madhavan trying to relinquish the fact that during his thinner days where he used to Run more often, he was the one who closed the shutter i.e “Ennake Shutter moodriya?” or roughly something like that. Yes, self-laudatory punch is the new “coming back to formula film” milieu while two cheery heroines {ofcourse one of them should be a Sameera Reddy or a Tamanna (cuz she’s the real Theni-maavatta ponnu) to do/dance/hip-swing the village belle template} sing a “naughty” song about their prospective husbands while the group dancers alone are not that priveleged enough to be bright or that fair and lovely. These are trinkets in our film universe that have formed a natural trope (that has grown tolerable) of that Migaithanmai (yet again am forced to invoke that link, because it’s a very well talked debate in Neeya Naana), here {http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo5rQTBRejM}. What I found interesting is when Radha Mohan cheekily pleads our heroes to avoid the bullet-biting and later spitting it out like an aftermath of a paan-debacle. But what’s more confusing is to see when people take a constant dig at Vijaykanth for his antics while Vijay, Ajith and other Tamil heroes are forced to take part in the very same circus, almost like they are all part of a wicked Tim Burton plan.

Also, simultaneously there are films like Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Epdi that has Sidhharth narrating the film relentlessly to us ( a little tiresome, but defniitely enjoyable) and I heard the same audiences giggle at those well-etched simple witty moments. I am sure they were smiling too.

With respect to Udhav’s piece {http://clapsandboos.com/w/c/article/20034f65166a0663c2_66886175_01/gazing-at-our-hero}, when Nanban was about to realease, it was talked about almost (too quickly) as if Vijay has graciously come out of it his “usual template film” and that his fans might look out for something “different” (yes, different is the word we easily borrow many times) and soon after the film delivered, critics took notice of this new Vijay in a clearer, or rather “different” light. But here, there is a need for a rational gaze and it can go both ways. The fact that Vijay had chosen to do this film creates an argument that tickles his fanship. In ordinary journalistic terms, “Did he select the film because he liked Pari’s character and thought he could do justice to it?” or was it just a curt finger squiggling under the thundu since it was a Shankar-banner and he has been jumping and fighting (mundane) too long that his audience (note: his audience) started whistling for somebody else? Or maybe his legs were just paining. Also, after the film, do all his fans think about how much the Pari character is in consistency with his earlier “loose-unbuttoned-shirt-sporting-rough-tough-uneducated-mechanic doing street justice with hooligans” or maybe all these string of questions don’t have a purpose, because each film is mutually exclusive? Well that’s for the (whistles) to know and these heroes to be worried about constantly. The actors who fortunately/unfortunately fall under this trope (hero, in this case) becomes a puppet of audience obssession.

I also read Sabari’s interesting piece on the “Psychology of Hero worship” (http://clapsandboos.com/w/#article/20034f68b8b41e8419_78008647_01) and stumbled upon this blog by the same Eric Klein (http://dharmaconsulting.com/2008/hero/) and he explains with a specific example of Mighty Mouse (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_dTGGFctDfJw/S9Z0HH3KTuI/AAAAAAAAAAM/F0yubCC0H40/s1600/mighty-mouse-movie.jpg) and after reading it we come dangerously close to whether our films need to come with a parental advice viz. “Please do not try this at home” (cc: WWE). The question is whether we treat our films with the same failed seriousness as that of Tom and Jerry. If so, I would like to make a cutout for Speedy Gonzalez and do melted cheese abhishegam (Oh, nothing big, just something like this—> I mean; http://www.sify.com/movies/Paal-abhishekam-for-Rajini-on-opening-day-imagegallery-kollywood-kkbqykgcfag.html?html=5), because Speedy taught me how to help/stand for a friend even when he is slow (Slowpoke)- he brought the good qualities inside me and made me a better person, hence. Is Surya’s Singam treated with the same predetermined playfulness? How much do we take from our films? Do we really need to take anything from a film? If so what is that we take. Well whatever *that* maybe, there seems to be a need for more rational sense for our godmen heroes (http://reviews.in.88db.com/images/Velayudham-Audio-Launch/Velayudham-Audio-Launch-photos.jpg; http://mrinkenti.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/pawankalyan_cutout.jpg) to come out of our nostalgic classroomgiri (remember the days when we used to fight about Rajini and Kamal?), out of our Sura vs Billa, out of ourselves.

Times are a changing. There is only so much one can believe from what’s on the screen. Ofcourse, this is something different (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI1KhOP3St4) 😀

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Twitconvos #1

@equanimus First of all,Thanks for the refining insight. I must assert here now itself, that my fanboyism for Bala is not a hangover of his creations. It has grown without myself knowing it. Also, Bala is daring and thus a provocateur and not vice versa , you know NOT like a Gaspar Noe where his trangression started from his love-hate relationship with French street movement (also social resent), Bala hasn’t travelled extensively in those regions.

OK, As always it is fascinating to discuss Bala films, I respond in humility wrt to his work. You must have noticed that I had included the word Parpaniyam as only a subtle rebellion. In fact even though Bala affirms his friendship with Jeyamohan in that second interview, for the sharp question as to why the beggars in Naan Kadavul were shown to be sporting the Indian flag, he casually replies, “It was to show that, you know that these people are also from India( a need to be shown as a part of a country)”. It is here clear in fact that he is far away from any Tamil diaspora seditionist views or segmentation for autonomy. Also about what you said about Dravidian ideology, a little personal thought, here(What follows are my personal views, may not be enitirely acceptable). Earlier I did a similar tease with respect to a small segment in Enthiran, but later about that. Let me take a bite. With the acceleration of globalisation, film has again become one of the most active mediums to get influenced and to influence (am talking about the commerce that “sells” nowadays).In that perspestive, what Bala has to offer, probably has more girth if not technical grandeur and more importantly with respect to the discussion, a definite purpose. With this in mind, Bala’s films uncannily trace the stories if people who are in the “upliftment” process.Though Bala considers them as equals demolishing politely (“soft dismissal” if you may)anything and everything that brings a difference in societal recognition and placement. One of those, especially prevelant in his tsubversive habits is RELIGION.

He decides to call it off one day, by stating Naan Kadavul. He sees God in everyone.

“And nAn kadavuL topped it all and was clearly identified as a film with Hindutva leanings. Some people then attributed this to Jeyamohan, who’s well known for his Hindu/India sympathies, wrongly so in my reading. The overarching mystique angle, the visceral good vs. evil narrative and the mythical godlike hero are all patently Bala’s signature. Jeyamohan is far too rigourous for this sort of stuff.”

As I understood what you were trying to convey in this, it’s hard not to go more into the fascinating dialogue that Naan Kadavul puts.
It’s “not only” a brash take on theology. Debased with a pot smoking guy who apparently knows it all, by falling into the habits of a rare occult. Atheism, as you know has been closely knitted with the Dravidian movement. It was(is?!) it’s core socio-emotional arm.It forms the basic structural platform against MertharathuMakkal. But Bala is simple and single layered in his allegory.

He, most progressively put is in an emotional voyage atleast WRT to his film works. Naan Kadavul’s dialogue is a constant and a simple one. There were confused responses as to what Arya with held in the film, especially among Tamil reviewers (am taking simple examples here). From what I see, Rudran on the surface level is a ruthless pot smoking ruggard in the symbols of a rare occult that Bala got fascinated with during his visit.—I came across an interesting tidbit about Bala from a friend a couple of days back(probably you’d know this already but still am typing). Bala during his “lost” days (after Pithamagan shooting)was seen to be kicking around and playing with Manda Odus (human skulls) in cemetries. A vettiyan was watching this. After some time, when Bala’s father had passed away and after the burnt body bones had to be treated with a certain orthodox procedure (he was asked to take the bones in the left hand) and Bala refused, “This is my Dad why should I use my left hand?”, That’s when the vettiyan had questioned his skull kicking. And that apprently hit Bala a lot.

Coming back, Rudran was an extrapolation of Chiththan in Pithamagan; an angry dialogue. As far it goes, Bala weighs the importance of what Rudran says in the holy script and what Chiththan mumbles at the graveyard in the same way. If some saw what Rudran had to say with his Aham Brahmasmi (I also saw someone getting all spiritual and shit during a certain padathodakka vizha talking about the “vibrations” of that word). Bala was in a phantasmagoric search for a higher meaning, more than patronizing, I repeat “DOES NOT patronize”. It would remain the same old gibberish to him. He was interested more about the “Irakkamilla Kangal” of Arya and how to exploit it in the grand stage that can be ruthlessly and almost liberatingly set by an Aghori, bad mouthing away into glory. The story was hardly about this character. It was Bala there, again testimony to the fact that all his characters are him , in some/a major way.

His God is about the unfairness of life and the struggle to find fairness/self-respect among people(Beggars are people, was the statement). In fact there were some immediate thoughts in me after I wacthed the film, sort of philosophical-epiphany if you may that “the poorest man in the most senstive man and thus the most emotionally receptive” feeling the rythm and pulse of daily life that he is almost able to see God within himself. Now Arya is just the pissed Off Bala is just directing us to see these people. There is an odd scene where Rudran sits on a rock and near a temple, almost like some unwarrant entry of an unwanted person near a place where there is much need.

We also see a blind Pooja dragging herslef to Aarya for help and a dumbstruck Laila in the rain running to Chiththan after she sees Shakthi getting help. Both need help. In some form/way. Bala I think, chooses to meditate at this point. His vision of God is someone who makes his entry here. Here , at this point. Pooja is crying, like a Sita (some Hindus would say) and here, where is Krishna? But in real nothing happens. This is not good Vs Evil. It is Humans Vs God. Humans are God. And if at this critical juncture if the observant critic chooses to place Rudran as God, (am stifling a laugh here), you know where I am going with this.
A new Human Design, if you may, that Bala has tried in all his happiness with his characters prior to this “incident”. In fact, given to the repeatedness of this in his films, Bala is “Yearning” in all forms. It’s(has been)part of his life. He wants to say, It’s part of everyone’s.

Regarding his earlier films, I must say, it was too early to look too much into his subversive habits and stereotypes, but any insight is a welcome as such. But recognising his stereotypes is important, I think. I mean whether or not his films fuel Dravidian support is one thing, but there is a “soft dismissal” regarding his reactions towards paarpaniyam. Also, whatisthere if I choose to look into more? If one does it with Carnatic music , sipping filter kaapi, why not into this? Even so , I am more ready to believe that Bala is in a cloak of pan-Indian manouvre to make people indulge in such speculatory teases (choose what to believe right? Freedom of belief right?). I atleast think so. Please don’t take this as a defense. I guess , if you think my response has been a little opinionated, then I wish to contribute this to a result of a very moronic/opinionated critic given by J_A_F_B(with all due respect) in BR’s comments section (Avan Ivan).

Twitconvos #2

@equanimus Firstly I wanted let this off– on some cultural hijacking(please forgive).Ok what do you think of these blogs sir? This twitter spammers of a particular cultural dominance. I was reading this coconut chutney (a very much visited blog, nothing specific there a million blogs like this) or something, by this Lavanya. And oh fuck the abacharams that might follow from here. In fact One might be severely unfollowed if he/she continues after this. Also if this was a blogpost out in twitter,’thebigones'(adhigamaa saththam podravanga) will disregard it -‘when will people grow up’ and do subtle futile trolling. I was reading a post called Angst in this blog and what I was able get from it this girl has problems ; u know like how we all have a localteaparty (another one of those #worldfamous bloggers)inside; well I guess this is mine.

Her problems is that we need to protect our culture it seems because it gets immediately westernised. Now let’s take this one by one. First what culture? Sabudaana vada? Poonool kalyanam? Filter kaapi drinking and the hindu reading old man? Mmm Is it just me? because I don’t get it. My old man used to wear a blue kaili and drink sunrise sometimes. Given to the fact that Krishashok does makes all this in good humour he comes across someone light. A ‘knowledgeable’ person himself playing it down cutely with you know what “small referencing type” humour. The educated etiquette humour sake. Like how Vijay doeas an LOL in DeiVaThirumagal. Adadadadada appappapapaaa. Roflmao (unnum athukku outrage illaya?) and his well-adapted TR fanboyism. As much I enjoy( and then one will say here, you enjoy no? Then why think?) but I think one must know what makes them happy. If you’re practising cutural hedonism I want to know what am pleasuring my heart with. Right? Ok atleast I play like this. Kris Ajoke has always been someone who tries hard to make the Tambrahm look cool. But why? tambrahmrage nu solraanga. I already knw so many brahmins who are cool enough to think beyond these signatures. This not only relates to clinging on things stubbornly but a constant advertisement atleast in twitter. I call it advertisement because of the chain manner in which it inspiringly triggered gultrage mallurage and kannadarage; a sudden identity crisis and when this happens its clearly visible to what they immediately cling on to. Now and only now, it becomes relevant whether it should’ve been just Tamrage of Tambrahmrage and it’s funny to see this branding a representative ambassador to whole of tamilnadu (in the big picture) this is plain tongue-in-cheek Geek rebellion in the end, it churns out like a big bowl of spoilt curd rice. Refrigerated Maavudu during MS studies and Tamilnadu? Nope. Now this has definitely become a castiest ad. Harmless, but I too dig it from time to time. But Abeyaar knowledgeable ondi podhuma? In the end? Its a subtle intellectual bullying only. Ivaru ithaye solraar,writing in Hindu.(this makes him a satirist? I don’t know)

Coming to this chutney case ,When a cycle of generations have had the chance to do their MSUS routine and look into the western culture they are able to go into this self-actualisation and identity grabbing all of a sudden. Now this tamil culture and all we ll keep aside. I believe there is only one culture. With the accln of an intellectual percolation from the top of the pyramid (Maslow) seeps into the bottom, people are forced to look at things they would not necessarily look into. and this PJ cracking too. I use to witness a lot of this when I was school. It was called mokkai. And I used to hate it. Now here the same is qualified as wordplay and in some serious referencing tone. And I must say I have learnt much from this game too. It’s good and I have indulged in it myswlf but now with it being branded is getting a little off the charts. Probably I didn’t want this to end up as a rant. I don’t know probably I am either too early or too late in twitter (I still consider myself a n00b) talking about all this. But hopefully someone else has done it already.

Now coming to ARR and Ilayaraja. I think once complicateur invoked something about him being Salieri, I dono why but it got me thinking Raaja that time. Doesn’t he create the simplest of music, you know even getting rid of Tamil Folk signature off it? There was a very insightful bit that I found in tehelka, forgot the author. It is seen that ARR’s base was constructed from a subversive attitude. It invokes other instances where the author interestingly cites the places where ARR uses sounds in his layers of music. What progresses from then on was his journey purely upwards with what was essentially more relevant; pure intent and pure music using ‘inspirations’ and on the way compromising you-know-what. But in the end, I feel music was meant to bring people together and more the people the merrier which incidently brings this –>into pop culture and how pop music is related to it. As you know on how Rahman was into MJ it’s important to know on how he sees music. To expand his stage and inevitably lose all his roots and to the art itself. Ilayaraaja’s genius was what Kamal tried so compassionately to lock in words calling his creativity an “unorganised statement of discussion”. It is in here his Isaignanam comes from. It’s a wonder that’s unexplainable; that tries to evoke in one grand single tune that has been composed and not an instrument based genre-kissing effort. So I understand on what you said about what irritates Ilayaraaja. It’s understandable. A global musica franca Rahman tried to construct and he chose to remind a crowd during the Oscars about the language he once started making music in. Hmm. This is the same to what Meena Kandasamy replied on why she chose english to refine her emotions through poetry  on castiest domination which obviously looks more procreatingly at Tamil’s beauty , so on and so forth. This is in where she says she uses the global lingua franca to her advantage. This is what one might call reverse cultural hijacking. Pulling one into another from the down to the up to achieve more mass,more people and sometimes/most times more hearts.

and Raja’s music is a place to stay, more on how it connects– later.

Flying Away.

Had written this a while back.

“I am typing this out in my mobile as am flying across Chennai to Mumbai. Work based. Am actually quite sad even with all the clouds up here. Yes window seat; almost like am given a full view of what all am going to miss. Well; a new life ; new place. Facing life and all that. I get it. You know you must think am very home based person you know Chennai love and all that- ” Mr.Manoj? any beverages? Chai coffee juices?” -sorry am interrupted by this guy giving breakfast. Spicejet ufwck. Whatever. So yeah; it may not be like home based love. Heck I studied four yrs away from home undergrad and didn’t have any touble with missing anything. But this time am squirming my soul into words like this, because, you know ummm. My dad. Yeah. I love that guy. I mean like who doesn’t right? Its like almost like the past two months I’ve begun to realise I infact do love him ; you know literally will be missing him and with his stroke last year, its made me very conscious about it. Where I live, what I do, how far I am from that person. I mean that’s love right? That throat has already dried up. And this pova or whatever the hell this is making it worse. So I am putting these into words.

So today morning he came to the airport and oh my bro also came. Well I asked him to come. No one talked while we drove to the airport. Ofcourse my dad asked me to check in as soon as I get in and you know he is not that nerve wreck parent (not that there’s anything wrong in that) constantly prodding with each and every detail and displaying worry each and every minute. He is a man of few words. Very few words. That makes it even harder. A heavy load on my heart. Couple of days back, uncannily this taciturn of a man; the man of few words; the man who rarely talks other than those sunday afternoons where after a session of Biriyani, family anectodes are welcomed; tells me how he cried when he left his dad to another place, you know when he was young. Hehm. And as I said goodbye. He shook my hands tight and held my arm for like a second. I don’t know. And this thing he has put me through as I fly across cities where a lot of parents are with their kids right now; lucky enough to enjoy their family presence, is worse than crying.    I so wish my dad was a narrow- minded curmudgeon who I had somehow after my childhood ,chose to distance myself from.  But he isn’t. I wish he was that selfish dad going away for business ; away from an irritating, ultra-sensitive wife and demanding kids. But he isn’t .I wish he was that dad who gave life lessons everyday compulsorily. But he isn’t. I wish he had compromised family, giving business foremost importance and later repeatedly justifying ‘This Is All for You People’. But he isn’t. I wish he was the dad I choose to think about only when I am at home, like I was in college.

But he isn’t,now.”

Happy 45.

I came to know a couple of days back that Bala’s birthday is in a couple of days and it got me thinking about his films. Then and there I got around catching Pithamagan (last night I think) on TV. Almost like a cosmic wake-up call to remind me on all the problems that people see in him, including fanboy regrets. Also, an interview came along, the most social Bala I’ve ever seen. You can catch that,here.

Watch the interview and proceed,because unfortunately what follows has turned out to be based on it.

This compere, I have seen him. His kid studies in my school, meaning previously where I studied. Actually,I have seen him a number of times at the school, nonchalant, bermuda wearing and sometimes weirdly tensed at the expected attention he is supposed to get (cuz you know he is a SUN TV anchor and all) and in the end when rarely if someone does come up to him, he is a nice chap allright. But don’t forget he is the same guy who hosted Venghai song release recently and with this interview in perspective it’s hard to know what he understands by “Bala’s touch”. Was he film-gravity-conscious enough to stop at that and jump to the next question? Or was he in a platonic outlook of what Bala had just replied to his first query? And all that with a hyper-fan Sangeetha by the side (all though she did ask a couple of sensible questions at the right time).

You see, Kumbudren Saami and the need for that sort of name is probably the introductory Bala “touch” (as the compere would call) but these aren’t just names that are in for the “sake of just doing something different each time” is it?. In fact, Bala would later go on and accept that there is that amount of expectations that have rested on him to bring in something “new” – pudhusaa, an innovating forte. But there are definite, constant perpetuating undertones/intentions. He says that these names are “ofcourse” in common use. Of all the “uncanny” names that the compere enquires about, he consciously selects Kumbudren Saami to retort with, (that wondrous humour piece that Arya invokes in his introduction and continues in the govt. servant’s house),  “Thazhthappattavangannu naan sollamaaten,… aana kaalangaalamaa merkudimakkala pathuttu kumbudren saami nu sollitrinthaangilya?, Avangulukku…” and he continues to explain some assumed origins. But the point has been sold. He has been doing this in own beautiful phases and paces and all in constructive humour irrespective of his stories that needed to be told.

In that devilish, almost madly smiling Shakthi in Pithamagan who sings the then-popular pan-Indian culture catchphrase Lagaan’s “Chale Chalo” in a ridiculous manner riding a cycle and obviously not to ignore the carefully constructed rip-roaring laugh riot on the train where a “Maami” interrupts his business due to her scatalogical inconveniences and when returned to her seat to be called “Paithiyakkaari” by an angry Laila (not very “Kozhunthey”) who has just been hustled. Outrageous disrespect  for both the “respectable” age and and a “respect(ed)able” community. Again with the habit of celebitching once started with Simran, he introduces his meta-film humour. He abducts the performer from the acting stage and brings her to the crowd within the crowd and not one word she is able to converse with them.( This is also done in Avan Ivan, no not the equivalent Surya cameo,but note when the judge says, “Aama, nee enakku oru favour pannanum” and Walter, confused replies, “Ennadhungya?”). As the old song medley continues, in between a short midget Iyer ( that’s funny as long as you find midgets funny) gets up getting the attention of the crowd( a split second subtle satire this man can provoke) and starts reciting devotional “muthai-tharu pathi thiru-Nagai athi-kiRai sathich-saravaNa” to be later ofcourse taken away by Shakthi, gundukkatta. It is both about the religion and the community that holds attention with it. A subtle rebellion stereotype gathered against either பார்ப்பனியம் or sometimes just plain anger against any type of plutocratic domination.

As much in relevance with the former innuendo, religion solely, also takes a hit in there somewhere. That outrage from Kamal on Bala’s views over Prabhu Solomon’s beliefs during Myna launch (#youremember), well for those interested there is an interesting bit he gives on religion, here in an earlier interview. One can question whether all kids that are lost in Kasi end up tackling existential crisis in the Aghori way. I mean it should be one damn lucky kid. Even in the esoteric and the most alienating circumstances in Naan Kadavul, Bala finds humour. It’s pure humour. Unadulterated. Something that most directors avoid in all their responsibilities to cover other money laundering aspects that build a film’s responsibility and end up hiring Vadivelus and Viveks to do their business. Balachander found an insinuating genius in Nagesh. Bala is making a habit of his commercially competing Kollywood stars to do it for him.  This is his sense of humour. Probably the most daring I’ve come across. This humour can be seen more clearly in Avan Ivan and when Bala says such kind words “I have kept the audiences in mind when I made this film”,  his idea of a commercial film to “his” audiences make you understand him more.  Throw away your fanboy regrets and get ready know the funniest badass in town. When Karunaas in Nanda, a small time crook  in the “honourable court” is as unruly as the Rudran who later arrives to court in Naan Kadavul, talking about missing “ulpaavaadais” from Vannandurai, is a clear sense of deliberate judicial misconduct.

He is his film and no more than that and he takes immense pride in it for he rarely compromises. When he made Naan Kadavul probably everyone took notice of his achievement of making a film on beggars and want to desperately call for a sympathy card, tagging it as a socially-moving-film. Well, its good for him if you call that too. For he realized a vision in the vile humour of beggars that reside on either sides of the holy stairway, more interested in the God dialogue or more likely, a system that has failed miserably to recognize them. It is quite a picture to find beggars cracking real world humour. Such pride. Bala makes characters to make them speak out from their(his) heart, make(his) jokes (sometimes on their(his) own profession) on societal problems he is aware of . No bright lights and cameras, he refers. This makes him a socially conscious personal director. You can see, how he still childishly wishes to be an actor’s director, most interested in getting these characters out, alive all flesh and spit. It is such an interesting practice to him. In that interview,look at him when he evaluates with that 98 and 96 marks for his actor students Vishal & Arya ,proudly flaunting the torture that Vishal would’ve undergone with all his squint rehearsal problems. Probably not something that professional directors would do. But there is some pride in there. Something deeply honest of his creations, both his characters and stories. While on the other news,this has already been debased as attention mongering/National Award bait therapy for setting up scenes that unnecessarily challenge actors. (like, for ex, one could ask, why that squint eye at all in the first place and why the staged up Navarasam scene for Vishal) One must ponder at a futile argument that rest with the problem in it. Unnecessarily challenging? Heh. Bala probably asks, what is a film that doesn’t have challenging roles to don? You can probably dream and find a grand genius in all those underplayed stoic realism. Ulrich Muhe in The Lives of Others, Michael Caine in Sleuth et al. But Bala doesn’t play that way.

His characters are all loud and crass. They either seem to have a lot of heart or no heart at all. They are happy beyond limits or repressed beyond belief . His film is an archipelago of extreme, individualistic characters that hope to find connection in deep emotional waters to stand out as an island. Within this, he creates an ol’ time emotional reverie of old drunk villagers. It is an humbling plateau of emotions. Down to earth human bonds that don’t depend on materialistic thresholds. It is at the point of no return, where all that remains is hope or where all hope is gone is where Bala decides to begin his emotional sojourn. A more serious and little less vigorous Kusturica, probably. You know, where a beggar misses out on a drunk delinquent or when a playful Kumbudren Saami realizes the place where he belongs and automatically sheds tears or when an angry Chitthan never really understood why he was supposed to be resurrected into life just to love and lose it all in the end. It is really surprising that people who have the turn off for his sad endings never really saw what happened before. So much is happening in such a beautiful array of emotions, however shoddy it is shot (to hell with your aesthetics). Here  is a man with a simple story. It has always been simple for Bala. The common thread of human bonding and the climactic upset of the very same and as he puts it, “Sogamaana mudivuthaan vandhu, oru rendu naal thookatha kedukkum”. Just when you would think that his world is too happy for happy endings and probably that he is a “director with problems and an emotional prejudicial backlog”, he says, “Cinema paathu thoongavekkaama irukkardhu oru creatorukku oru peruma thaan” and there is that wry smile.

You can call it audacious allegory, but this may necessarily intend to invoke outrage , opposing the jollygoods of the infamous TamBrahmRage, on Bala and his Anti-Brahminical inuendos that are prevalent in his films. But even so whatisthere? It is about recognition.  So if there is considerable fanship for Mani Ratnam and his confident, “contemporary” film-making that adapts his own commercial habits of star casting and stereotyping, why shouldn’t a Bala be pardoned? He brings the most phantasmagoric, lesser known characters into a vibrant mosaic of real world humour that more often than not is dark and someone ends up dying or hopelessly helpless. So what? Life is unfair and people die. But what happens before?

Life, and so much of it.

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

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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.