Aug 31, 2009


The problem in seeing a movie after some considerable time since its release is that I end up reading reviews that are both favorable and unfavorable which affects my perception subconsciously. Initially, I had some friends tell me that this is a good movie and then I read reviews which said the movie had nothing new to offer.

The movie is directed by Samuthrakani (who is the director of mega serials such as Selvi and Arasi). Sasikumar plays the key character in the movie. It is worth noting that previously Samutharakani acted in Sasikumar's Subramaniyapuram. The movie unfolds at a village near Rajapalayam. Sasikumar plays the role of Karunakaran who is a BA (History) gold medallist. Not surprisingly, that doesn't fetch him any job and his father makes sure that he criticizes Karunakaran for that. Karuna has two friends Chandran and Pandian. Karuna is in love with his uncle's daughter whose father is adamant that he will give his daughter to him only if he has a Government job ala Mudhalvan. So Karunakaran tries his best to become a policeman, write IAS exams etc. Chandran has dreams of opening a computer center and settle in life. He is in love with Karunakaran's sister. (I should mention here that this girl is played by Abhinaya who is deaf and dumb. It is really incredible that you cannot notice it in the movie at all) Pandian wants to go abroad and get a job. Things go at their own pace till an old friend of Karunakaran, Saravanan, comes to their village. Saravanan is in love with a girl in Namakkal. Her dad (who is a big shot) disapproves of it and he comes to see Karunakaran for an unapparent reason. When Karunakaran comes to know of his depression (after Saravanan attempted suicide) he decides to kidnap the girl and marry them. His friends Chandran and Pandian accompany him to Namakkal. When they try to kidnap the girl things go horribly wrong as the henchmen of the girl's father (whose character is incidentally played by the guy who was the school teacher inPasanga) chase and attack them. While running away from them Chandran accidentally gets run over by a truck and loses his left leg. A rowdy strikes Pandian on his left side of the head with a steel pole and as a result Pandian loses his hearing. Karuna sustains a gash on his right forehead. Somehow they successfully get Saravanan and his lover married. Karuna gives Saravanan money to elope and also arranges for them to be with another friend of his who works at a resort. The girl's father files police complaints and the police arrest Karuna and his friends. With a criminal history to his name, Karuna's hopes of landing a Govt. job is dashed. Pandian and Chandran, who lose their hearing and a left leg respectively, are forlorn too. The rest of the movie is about how they stick together and slowly limp back to life coping with the dissapointments of lost love and dreams.

Meanwhile, the married couple lose that initial fascination they had for each other and slowly arguments start creeping into their lives. Lacking a conviction to keep their marriage going and sparing no thoughts for the personal sacrifices of their friends, they decide to get divorced. This irks Karuna and his friends a lot. They feel cheated and are furious at having given their lives and futures away in vain. Pandian wants to kill the couple but Karuna talks some sense into his head. Eventually they just vent out their frustrations by kidnapping the couple to an isolated spot. Karuna and Pandian vent out their frustrations verbally at the couple and leave them alone in each other's company. The movie ends with a scene where the trio are at a tea shop when some stranger is talking on the phone about arranging for some people to help his friend with his love. Karuna and his friends brighten up and offer to help the stranger's friend.

The movie waxes praises on the virtues of friendship and how a friend is someone who is there for you when you need him the most. The message is conveyed at various points of the movie. Some times it comes across effectively and some times it feels highly contrived. Towards the end love is also praised by the director and it is not clear if the director was trying to say friendship is the only purest form of relationship or love is equal to that because the trio are ready to help strangers with their love even after suffering so much. There are several references made to current day scenarios of divorce cases queing up in court and how such things should be and could be avoided.

The first half hour of the movie is frivolous and the acting of the cast are even more so. Their facial expressions seemed highly artificial with a narrow range of emotions. Sasikumar, definitely, does not have his best moments of the movie in the humorous scenes. But once the kidnapping scene begins the movie moves faster and for some unknown reason all the cast members seem to slip easily into role of their characters with a loud click and the movie makes a rivetting view till the end.

I would say it is one more to the list of good movies that Tamil cinema has churned out in the last two years. Irrespective of his suspect credentials, Samudharakani has given a good movie with a smooth screenplay and direction.


Inglorious Basterds

I am not a big fan of Brad Pitt. In fact, whenever I see his movies I try to find some fault so that I can criticize him for it. Maybe it is due to the hype he gets every time or because he seems so full of himself in his movies. But even a prejudice could not prevent me from admiring his performance in this movie. In fact, I would say he carried the movie through though I am sure many would argue that the movie is bigger than Brad Pitt or the character he played.

The movie is set during WWII. It is a fictional tale of a group of men from the US who land in France with the intent of killing every German in sight. Brad Pitt plays Lt. Raine the leader of a group of Jewish Americans who are referred to as the Inglorious Basterds by the Germans. They are ruthless in their killing and cut the scalp of their victims as a souvenir. Col. Landa is a high ranking officer in the German ranks who comes to be known as The Hunter because of the way he sniffs out Jews in hiding and exterminating them. The movie starts in rural France where Col. Landa was about to sniff out a family of hiding jews. Somehow a girl escapes Landa's men and comes to the city, assumes a new identity of Emmanuelle Mimieux and ends up being the owner of a movie theater. A chance visit by Frederick Zoller, who earned the reputation of killing 300 odd people after being isolated in a bell tower, changes the life of Emmanuelle. Frederick is a war hero and a movie has been made about his exploits in which he plays himself. He decides to premiere the movie in Emmanuelle's theater as he is 'infatuated' with her. The twist here is that Hitler chooses to attend the premiere which makes the event a prime target for Lt. Raine and his men. The story unfolds with sudden twist and turns, some out of the blue and some totally as expected such as Emmanuelle getting gunned down by Frederick (come on dumb blonde, when you shoot a guy you make sure he is dead).

I should admit at this stage that I have not seen a single movie of Tarantino before this. I see a lot of movies but somehow I have not seen his movies till date even though I have Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction at home. So I saw the movie without any expectations or idea on what to expect. The screenplay was mighty impressive and so was the direction. The story was not too taut and had some incosistencies with few things left unexplained (such as how come Landa lets the girl escape), which I am sure would be attributed to the brilliance of Tarantino or whatever by his fans. But the highlight of it, as I have said before, is the acting of Brad Pitt. His demeanour and the accent of a southerner that he has pulled off was a treat to watch. The pace of the movie is pretty good. It has some gory scenes but other than that it is a good movie to watch. But definitely not the greatest.


Aug 27, 2009

A Typical Weekday


Aug 22, 2009

Kandhaswamy, Pasanga, Saroja

கந்தசுவாமி - முடியலடா சாமி!
Apparently all main actors are falling into a rut and dishing out the worst movie of their career. Rajini came out with Kuselan. I thought it was the worst movie I saw in some time. Then of all the people Kamal came out with something like Dasavatharam. After hitting the forehead with a 'enna koduma kamal idhu..' I thought the worst was over. Then Vikram says I am also in the race. Everybody said his previous movie Bheema was pathetic and gay etc. I thought it was ok and not too bad. So to silence the few people who actually liked the movie he has now acted in Kandhaswamy.

The movie has a storyline typical of Shankar's movies. Kandhawamy is a CBI officer. He raids many corrupt and rich people and somehow syphons the money to good use. Seriously I don't remember how he does it. The movie was so bad with so many distractions I couldn't even remember what the exact story was.

The movie opens with a scene in Thiruporur outside a Lord Murugan (Kandhaswamy) temple where a woman needs money for some surgery. She writes on a piece of paper and ties it on the branch of a sacred tree. Next day morning she finds a bag of money in her home. Scared, the woman takes it to the police station where the apparently corrupt Inspector (Mansur Ali Khan) seizes it for himself. In the night, when Mansur is drunk and getting ready to sleep Kandhaswamy makes his entrance. He is dressed like a super hero and makes a grand entrance through the roof. He has the feathers of the Cock (Seval) which is the flag of Lord Muruga. So here is our super hero with a cape and stuff and few cock feathers on his head. The funniest thing is his mannerisms. He maybe the cock-man or whatever but that doesn't mean he has to act so cocky. Vikram imitates the cock as he chases Mansur Ali Khan around the room. He moves his head sideways, tilts it and then does a full throated crowing. The BGM was high adrenaline but the scene was so out of sync with it I couldn't suppress my laughter. I knew that moment that the movie is going to be a riot. Anyways, so Kandhaswamy goes about doing good for people as the cock-man and raids rich people as the CBI man. Shriya is the daughter of Ashish Vidyarthi who gets raided by Kandhaswamy. Ashish acts as if he gets paralyzed when his house is raided. Shriya promises to seek revenge and pretends to love Kandhaswamy.

Anyways, no point on talking about what happens for the rest of the movie because it is all so muddled up. Devi Sri Prasad did some decent numbers and the picturizations were decent. Other than that nothing much to remember from the movie except Shriya's omnipresent cleavage. Like a kitten, she tries to purr and rub againt the feet of the audience to seek attention all through the movie but only ends up irritating them instead. Also, I have no idea how long the movie was. I think it was like an interminable 3.5hours or something! What the hell.

I discovered my extraordinary ability to even tolerate some of Vijay's movies like Aadhi and Pokkiri in recent times. Even I was not able to sit through this trash. And I paid $20 for the tickets. Talk about being swindled.

பசங்க - Cute, realistic, childish and mature
This is a movie set in a small village in Pudukottai district called Virachilai (which is the native village of the debutant director of the movie, Pandiaraj). It shows the world from a child's point and how they perceive it. Anbukarasu is a new kid in the village's school. His father moved there recently due to many reasons which include cost of living, a disgruntled wife etc. Anbukarasu is a bright kid. He is the typical mundhirikottai of the class. Jeeva is the typical backbencher with two aides Kuzhandhaivelu aka Pakada and Kuttimani. The movie is about the friction between Anbukarasu and Jeeva, how their families go on the warpath because of them and how they end up together. The story has a gentle love story that is the trend nowadays ala Sasikumar (who is incidentally the producer of this movie).

It is a Director's movie. Pandiaraj has absolutely loved what he was doing and we can clearly see his fine touches in the movie. For example, the scene where the warring family heads slowly mellow down. There is a friction between them even though they sit down to talk(at 2mins in this video). They sit with their legs crossed in a sign of dominance between two alpha males. But as they begin to talk freely and the barrier breaks down they both uncross their legs and face each other. It is a very simple scene but I thought it meant a 1000 words. There are many such nuances in his direction. The way he has captured the rural life, the activities of kids in school, their dialect, the kind of games they play in free time etc are all etched in the movie. Pandiaraj has written the dialogues too. A friend of mine said 'Anubavichu ezhudhirkaan da'. That sums up the effort.

James Vasanthan is brilliant. He doesn't compplicate his works too much. He is not AR Rahman and is never going to compose songs like Harris Jayaraj. But he is brilliant. He proved the doubters that Subramaniyapuram is not a chance hit. His song Oru Vekkam is of the same genre as Kangal Irandaal and one cannot be blamed for drawing comparisons between the two. But his BGMs are equally amazing. He has this flair of using some Ilayaraja's blues in certain love scenes that are a bit comic yet effective. And his own pieces are exceptional too. For example, there is a violin piece that comes in 3 different instances. The first time is when Anbukarasu wants to hit Jeeva after being humiliated in front of the entire class. The music starts off slowly and gathers pace along with Anbukarasu's anger(at 3:50 of this video). The same bit is used differently when Anbukarasu's father apologizes to his wife thus bringing peace and relief to the family (5:55 of this video).
A must watch. Hopefully, movies like these encourage other people to attempt and veer away from love centric storylines.

P.S: I wanted to write a review on Saroja too but it is not relatively new. Anyways, I loved the movie. Another casual appearing movie taken with some serious intent from Venkat Prabu. Interesting characterizations and timely comedy scenes liven up the movie. Makes me eagerly wait for their next venture Goa.


Aug 20, 2009

மனசுல லார்ட் லபக்குதாஸ்னு நினைப்பு..

Now that the King Kong of Indian cinema is really popular worldwide (or the US since the US considers & refers to US as world and vice versa), maybe people will quieten down. How many people will recognize Brad Pitt if he comes to Chennai Airport? The desk clerk who stamps the immigration stamp? Other than the prolonged stares any white skinned person will get in any part of India he wouldn't be recognized in most parts. Then why is Khan an exception if he is treated differently in a land which is so self centered.

Meanwhile, our respected Minister for Information & Broadcasting spreads the message that we should take up the arms with Americans visiting India (yes, all the Yankees and Texans who queue up at Chennai, Bombay, Delhi beware!) that they be meted out with the same treatment. Tobe precise she says, "I am of the opinion that the way we are frisked, for example I too was frisked, we should also do the same to them".

Many a times I have wondered why some people deserve to be treated specially. How does being an actor entitle you to benefits that the common man is deprived of. The answer is obvious but it is still irritating to see it happen. So when the stars are made to wait in line or meted out the treatment that a common man gets it is a humiliation, embarrassment etc., If the Ministers and other politicians really feel that we are discriminated against, why did they wait till Khan was detained? Were not thousands of Indians detained before him?

Not satisfied with the publicity stunt he has performed, our hero returned home and as expected patiently answered the ara-vekaadu reporters. "
I did feel bad. I felt angry. I am glad my family wasn’t there. God knows what they would have done to them,” said Khan who was chilled to his bones when he thought of the image of his family also sitting next to him like lowly beings waiting for their baggage to arrive for an hour.

He further shows that he is a smart guy. “Normally, 99 percent [of the time] I leave early, because I have to stand in line; you have to remove your shoes. I have started wearing shoes with no laces,”. Paradesi. Wear Hawaai chappals from next time. Will save you more time.

Still in a hangover after watching too many Hollywood movies intending to copy the scenes in Indian cinema, the Khan offers advice to USCIS on how they should verify people : “If my identity is my fingerprint and retina, they (airport authorities) should have done this. This was not done, and they were asking me questions for two hours and kept on saying that ‘Your name is common.Maybe my fingerprint would have been uncommon, my retina would have been uncommon,”

According to a report by the Press Trust of India, as soon as he was allowed to use his phone, Khan sent messages to his home, his secretary, and Congress MP Rajiv Shukla, who informed Indian Embassy officials nearby who were able to come to his rescue. Mr. Shukla, can you please publicize your phone number so that all Indians detained in the future can avail of your help. Unless of course they are not worthy enough to deserve special attention.

Khan also makes it clear that this is not a publicity stunt for his upcoming movie. “I don’t want to sound pompous here, but I don’t need publicity to promote my movie, I am too big a star for that.” says Khan with utmost humility.

And also being not a person to miss an opportunity, our Khan also states "If you want to give a tit-for-tat policy to American actors, then call me to frisk Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox whenever they are visiting India.

Meanwhile, our own expert on National Security Farah Khan (who also doubles up as director of such meaningful movies like Om Shanti Om & Mein Hoon Naa when not offering her unsolicited advices) says, "The officer who was on duty wasted so much time, energy and resources interrogating Shah Rukh that three or four terrorists must have entered the U.S. within that time.” Dei Mandaya! It is because of the reason that there is a chance of 3 terrorists entering the country in that time that they are being so cautious. In the name of celebrity if they give special status to all movie stars, drama actors and villu paatu artists then terrorists will enter just like they enter India by talking a short walk. Since 9/11 make a list of the terrorist attacks in US and India before offering your wise quips.

Here is Jon Stewart putting things in perspective even as Arnold Schwarzenegger invites the Khan for no apparent reason!


Aug 13, 2009

Now I know why college graduates go for campus placement

At a stunning 110-hectare campus in Mysore renowned for its modern architecture, Infosys trains as many as 12,000 new recruits each year before they join the company. Many of them join for the boost to their marriage potential-a major concern for young Indians.

In an article about Infosys, the writer meanders in all possible directions. From India'a traffic congestions to population to H1b visas etc. It is amazing how the writing style and content is dressed so that it always has that exotic air that pleases the western readers. Mention has to be made of India's poor infrastructures, how Infosys is the dream of aspirants blah blah blah. He could have written the script for Slumdog Millionaire if he stretches it a bit more.

And what is this line about most of those being recruited by Infosys only joining the company to boost their marriage chances? So after they marry do they resign the job, sit at home and become house husbands or start a tea kadai in their area? Maybe he thinks everybody in their college final year sits and discusses as follows: "machi which company is best if i want to marry a fair, good looking, homely girl da?"

Haven't we seen millions of articles chronicling the timeline of Infy's growth from a backside office to a global corporation, how its the dream of 100,000 aspirants every year, the magnanimity of its founder etc. Summa aracha maavaye arachundu.

On a not so unrelated note, I had a conspiracy theory cross my mind that came back when I was reading this article.
co-founder and former chairman, Nandan Nilekani, has been made the head of a federal government agency to create a national ID system for India's 1.2 billion people
Will be interesting to see who gets to do the IT work for all this integration of databases etc. If Infosys gets it....


Aug 11, 2009

Yappa! Raama! Mudiyalada Saami. Already its a bloated version. And he wants almost twice the number of matches with three new teams in 2011. And ofcourse it ends 5 days before that useless tournament ICC conducts under the pretext of a World Cup which makes it all the more meaningless. By the time people lap up 90 odd matches who wants to see within 5 days time all the players jumble back to their home countries and play against each other again.
He thinks he is some Noah of Ark!


Aug 7, 2009

Yes, this is good. But what India should have done strongly is this. They could still reemphasize the travel advice to people against traveling to and from the US which is the primary source of the flu virus. All these bloody NRIs are somehow catching this virus in places like McDonald's, Walmart, Dollar theater and the nearest Toyota dealership and come sneezing to India. That should also teach US from issuing future travel advisory concerning India on issues like open manholes in Bombay, terrorist threats, soiled notes and poor water quality.


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