Mar 24, 2010

In today's Read as section:

Car manufacturer Daimler AG will pay $185 million to settle a criminal investigation in which the company is accused of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 foreign governments..

Read as, "Car manufacturer Daimler AG will pay $185 million as compensation to the Justice Department & the Securities and Exchange Commission to appease them after pleading guilty on charges of not adopting a universally fair standard of bribing."


Mar 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I have been wanting to check out the nearby IMAX theater for quite some time. Not because I have never been to an IMAX before but just that I have not been to this one before.

The movie was really amazing and worth being seen in a 3D IMAX if you have one near you. The story was nothing great. The end is totally predictable and so are quite a few scenes in between. But seeing some of the legendary characters such as the White Rabbit and the Cheshire cat (and the Mad Hatter, of course) with some top class animation made the movie special. The story is a take off from Lewis Carroll's original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice is 19 years old and about to be asked for marriage by a Lord. Finding these sudden rush of events difficult to handle, Alice tries to bide some time by running away from the party thrown out for this occasion. She sees the White Rabbit and follows it to the burrow of the tree that is the entrance to the Wonderland.

Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter and Anne Hathway plays the White Queen. Johnny Depp really doesn't have to do anything different than what he did in the three editions of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The swagger in his walk, the lilt in his talk and the animated gestures are quite familar to everyone and fits the role perfectly. Anne Hathway doesn't have much role to play and other than grinning wider than the Cheshire cat. And oh, there is the Cheshire Cat.

Easily, my favorite character of the movie which is saying something as it beats my default overwhelming favorite, Johnny Depp. The cat's character is quite...hmm...what is the right word for it...yes, magical. The fluid appearances and the disappearances, the way it saves the Mad Hatter and its mystical dialogues makes it the star of the movie. Only later did I realize that the voice for it was by Stephen Fry! The voice for Absolum, the dreamy yet wise old Blue Caterpillar, was by Alan Rickman (of Severus Snape fame).

It is a movie worth seeing if seen in an IMAX. Not sure about its impact on an ordinary 2D screen.


Mar 16, 2010

Quote of the day

நான், ரொட்டி என்று சொன்னால் உதடுகள் ஒட்டாது; பரோட்டா, சப்பாத்தி என்று சொன்னால்தான் உதடுகள் கூட ஒட்டும்.


Mar 5, 2010

Thamizh Padam

What do you call a movie, for which the dialogues are not by Crazy Mohan but still ends up providing the same kind of entertainment? A movie where you had to pause some scenes so that you can finish your laughter so as not to miss the next quip or dig that would immediately ensue? Only one way to describe: Utterly brilliant. (A friend of mine said we should not pay to watch Thamizh Padam as it is produced from our tax money (guess why!) anyway)

The movie is a 2.5hours of non-stop good humored dig at every watershed movie and cliche of Tamil cinema; and the best part is that it has been handled with some real class. When you make fun of movies, you are invariably forced to infuse some crassness in it. Lollu Sabha did a wonderful job of it but if you have seen lot of its episodes you would know what I mean.

The movie is about Siva, who is born in a village but comes to Chennai with the aim of becoming a Superstar in movies. Mirchi Siva plays the protagonist in the movie and one could not think of a better choice for the character. He convinces his Paati not to kill him with branded kalli paal and instead take him to Chennai where he can become an actor. How he ends up achieving his only goal in life forms the rest of the movie. I could narrate the entire story here but it is tiresome and also useless because the story is not what the movie is about, even though it is coherent enough. But some of the scenes do warrant a special mention.

The hero is still a boy when he witnesses few rowdies thrashing some people. He wishes to grow up soon so that he can fight those baddies. So his Paati (Paravai Muniyamma) advises him to pedal a cycle that is 'parked on its stand'. The confused boy does so and the camera pans to his feet and then in the next few seconds the grown up hero has arrived! After the baddies are thrashed the hero gets the opening number where he refers to himself as not only a pachai thamizhan but also a pink, blue and yellow thamizhan! It is really hilarious when you see it as a video. The hero also gets angry when the dance master jumps in and starts dancing with him stealing away his limelight ala Prabudeva in recent Vijay movies!

There is this mystey person called 'D' who the hero is fighting. First, he takes on D's main henchmen. The first encounter is a spoof of Thalabadhi and the following scene of Devaraj visiting Ramana in hospital brings down the roof. The 2nd encounter with the villain is a spoof of Rajini's faceoff with Raghuvaran in Baasha. It is a riotous moment when the hero says 'kanna konjam ange paaru' to show his hidden bodyguard and the camera pans to an imitation of Kandhaswamy doing his seval movements. The 3rd encounter is a spoof of Dhool when he saves a young guy from being molested by the female villain! The scene where he offers his shirt for the guy to cover himself with is rib tickling. The 4th villain is killed during a spoof of Anniyan's buffalo stampede scene.

Siva is friends with three others - MS Bhaskar, Venniraadai Murthy & Mano Bala. And guess what their screen names are? Nakul, Bharath and Siddharth! The scenes involving the four are terrific as they go about in Boys style trying to woo girls and discuss life in general. My only disappointment was that MS Bhaskar and Mano Bala did not have much screen time though Venniradi Moorthi (Bharat) makes full utilization of the extra screen presence he had. The two scenes where he says he found a girl using Orkut & Facebook and he refuses to sleep saying he is going to study for semester exams cause spontaneous laughter.

The hero has a love interest as is typical of any movie. The scenes in which the lovestruck hero sees his girl's face everywhere including toilet doors, women fighting for water and a funeral procession deserve mention. The heroine's dad refuses to give his girl (of course) because the hero is not rich enough. So the furious hero works hard ala 'Vetri Nichayam', 'Vetri Kodi Kattu' and in the span of 5 minutes becomes a millionaire and opens many business ventures including Siva Electricity Board, Siva Beach, Siva Mortuary etc. When the hero returns to his future father-in-law's house as a rich man at the end of the song, the FIL is taken by surprise as the coffee he asked his servant to make when the hero left is given to him at the same moment the hero returns. He is dumbfounded and can only utter, "Adhukullayaa?". Brilliant!

During the engagement ceremony, a casual remark by a person that Siva doesn't know his parents makes Siva go in search of them. This is where the movie really takes off in humor leaving the first half in a shade. As Siva and Bharat travel to his native village, Cinemapatti, they meet a villager (played by Shanmugasundaram). The following scenes abound with several references and spoofs including that of Raj Kiran, Ramarajan, Ramanarayan and a slight bow to Kamal & his controvery ridden film Virumaandi.

The twist in the end is not that Siva is a police officer (!) under cover but that 'D' is none other than his paati (Paravai Muniyamma). Even AR Rahman is not spared, as the movie ends with a lighthearted take on his now famous statement "Ella Pughazhum Iraivanuke. I really had to pause the movie control my laughing at this stage. Such was the impact of scenes such as this.

There are references to several movies such as Mozhi, 7G Rainbow colony, Nayagan, Sivaji, Ghajini, Mouna Raagam. Nobody can maintain their equanimity after the heroine solemnly states that she is a great fan of SJ Surya and TR and proceeds to see Veerasami DVD saying "Idhu kadhai alla, Kaaviyam".

There are two noteworthy songs in the movie other than the opening number (Pacha Thamizhan). One is the OmaahaZeeyan which is a duet song made up purely of all the nonsense uyalaalas and ballaelakas of Tamil Cinema. The other is an item number that is a tongue in cheek reference to the all too common item numbers of contemporary Tamil Cinema. But the surprise element here is the item girl: Kasthuri. The dhaavani clad heroine of yesteryear movies goes full blown in this song (and to say the least, she looks hot!!)

It is a neatly packaged movie with intelligent sense of humor that opens up a new genre for Tamil cinema.Kudos to the Script writer of the movie who stitched together a taut screenplay. It is so easy to drift away when trying to include so many references but still he has managed to make the scenes flow coherently.


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