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Archive for January, 2010

1)    Rahul, Raj, Karan and Arjun. The names, I mean.

2)    Switzerland pastures and Interlaken masqueraded as the wheat fields of Punjabi heartlands. Historic building in London passed off as Mumbai boarding schools.

3)    Aaja soniye/Naach kudiye/Tu hi mera bale bale kind of ‘rustic’ songs.

4)    Pati, patni aur woh stories. We’ve had enough of them to last a lifetime I think. Also those in which husband and wife go together in search of his/her ex-lover like it’s some kind of holy pilgrimage.

5)    Himesh Reshammiya acting, err.. appearing onscreen. I would add singing as well but heard he does have a following, so who am I to deny their pleasure?

6)    Wannabe Shahrukh Khans/Wannabe Hrithik Roshans.

7)    Titles with more than three words in them. No ‘Humara dil aap ke paas hain’ , ‘Hum tumhare hain sanam’ and ‘Aa ab laut chalein’ please. And no la-la-la title songs for these movies in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice either. Do these movies run at least for as long as it takes to spell out the titles?

8)    Children bringing estranged family/divorced husband-wives/boyfriends-girlfriends-best friends/long lost pets back together. Actually children should just do what they do in real life. Eat, sleep, go to school, play, be pests.

9)    Priceless title taglines like ‘some love stories have blood on them’, ‘it’s all about loving your parents’, ‘the real hero’, etc.

10) Men acting gay unless they’re actually gay (atleast as per the script).

11) Ten stories/sub plots/sub-sub-plots in one movie.

12) Any movie on Devdas. Why can’t we just leave the poor fellow alone?

13) Bare bodied men. Yes, you too Mr. Salman Khan. Button up now. You started something that just doesn’t seem to end now.

14) Movies on 9/11 and muslim terrorists. At this rate, there will be more muslim terrorist hindi movies than muslim terrorists themselves in the world.

15) Vidya Balan in anything but a saree.

16) Size zero. Some more weight loss and Kareena Kapoor might vanish into thin air.

17) More than 4 songs in a movie. Are you listening Mr. Gowarikar?

18) Priyadarshan comedies. Bhansali tragedies. Bachchaooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

19) Twin bother sagas. One good, one bad. Both love/hate each other. Separated, family song, tattoo… No, please. PLEASE.

20) Kiron Kher playing Punjabi mother. Can we audition somebody else for the role atleast now? The poor woman has played it approximately 157 times.

21) Sequels to Krish, Dhoom and most importantly, BLUE. There is a limit to what the audience can bear. Kindly consider.

22) There should be some law against producer fathers launching their pampered sons. Especially horrible ones in horrendous movies like Love Story 2050, Jimmy,etc.

23) Kangana Ranaut from playing psycho/drug addict/evil spirit roles. Amitabh Bachchan from playing 12 year olds. Aishwarya Rai from playing sweet-sexy-sixteen-something. Aamir Khan from playing college student. Mimoh Chakraborthy and Jackie Bhagnani from playing ANYTHING at all.

24) Garbage-worthy copies of well made English films. They ruin the reputation of the originals themselves.

25) Last but not the least, RAKHI SAWANT. Not just from films but from television, newspapers and any public domain. Amen.

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1) Red pant and yellow shirt. Blue pant and yellow shirt. Yellow shirt with anything. Period.

2) Hero introduction song featuring sickles/painted potbellies/pierced navels of out-of-work heroines/directors cum dance masters/hero’s son.

3) Switzerland/Chiffon sarees.

4) Directors in cameos like paalkaaran, pichakaaran, velaikaaran, car driver, etc.

5) Lyrics like sexy-baby-shake-your-body in item songs. Make that any wannabe rap lyrics in item songs. Make that any rap lyrics in any song. Thank you.

6) Heroines falling down from scooter/ladder/staircase/perfectly non-slippery floor and hero falling on top of her.

7) Transgenders doing seductive moves or the usual kuthadi-kuthadi-sailaka in a circle.

8 ) One blow. Ten people. Four directions. Flying.

9) Heroine slapping hero. Hero slapping heroine. Love coming. Duet singing.

10) 30+ years old heroes as college students. 40+ years old comedians as their friends.

11) Titles like Sivakasi, Thirupaachi, Thiruthani, Thiruvannaamalai, Koyambedu, Vadapalani. You get the drift right?

12) Punch dialogues. (Exception: Superstar)

13) Shriya Saran or any other 18 plus, opposite Rajni, Kamal, Sarath, Gabtun or any other 50 plus.

14) Jyothika style 100-expressions-per-minute = acting.

15) Ravi Krishna style block-of-wood = acting. Wait, I don’t want to see Ravi Krishna itself on screen hereafter. Please. *Shudders on recollecting his earlier films*

16) Amma/appa/akka/thangachi/maama/machan/purushan/pondaati/nanban sentiment songs. Phew!

17) Amman movies.

18)  ‘Pei/aavi inside small child’s body’ movies.

19) Rain fights. And rain songs. What? The men are all going to boycott my blog? Ok, I give up. Only rain fights. Hmph.

20) Gabtun singing Amul baby kind of songs in phoren, chi, foreign locations. *Falls on the floor, begs and weeps*

21) Heroines/heroes suffering from cancer/brain tumor.

22) Naataamai scenes. Naataamai comedy scenes.

23) Kids talking beyond their age, like 50 year old thaatha paatis.

24) Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi movies remade in Thamizh. Oh, then we wouldn’t have any movies made at all here? Sigh, I take that back.

25) Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Any friend singing horrible melody song in jam packed railway stations, bus stands, football stadiums, etc to locate the other Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Any friend.

P.S. Please feel free to add your lets-please-get-rid-of-these-too items in the comments section. Nandri.Vanakkam.

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Long after it was over, I was left wondering why the movie had been named Aayirathil Oruvan. Now I see only one way to justify the title. The director has named the movie for himself, after himself, for he is indeed one man in a thousand. A man who had the vision and the conviction to not play safe after blockbusters and churn out the same stories of love, action and sentiment film after film. A man who did not see the need to follow footsteps or copy stories but instead chose to spin his own yarn in his own style, however flawed it may be. A man who would not be bogged down by the expectations of a million people. A man who does not rise or fall below those monstrous expectations that break many, but instead, defies them. A man, who now I pray, has the strength to not be crushed by the brickbats thrown his way. Aayirathil Oruvan.

Let me get the point first. I’m not here to say that Aayirathil Oruvan is a masterpiece or brilliant unparalleled cinema. It is as flawed as we make them here. It has extreme gore as some have already pointed out. It has loopholes the size of the quicksand pits the lead trio once come across during the course of their journey in the movie. But inspite of all this, I say Aayirathil Oruvan deserves to be watched only because someone dared to make it.

*SPOILER AHEAD*

The story follows Anitha (Reema Sen), Lavanya(Andrea Jeremiah) and Sugumaran(Karthi) as they embark upon a journey to discover the lost Chola descendants in exile in a far away island off the shores of Vietnam. Lavanya’s father and many others who went before them were either found dead on the way or never heard of after. Their adventurous journey through water, forests and deserts to make it alive to the destination of their quest forms the first half of the movie and what happens after they make it, unravels in the second half.

*END OF SPOILER*

I haven’t been a fan of Selvaraghavan before and I’ve hated some of his earlier works. So it’s very surprising even to me when I see myself rooting for this so called misadventure of his. Though the basic premise of the film is built on an extremely silly and flawed premise, there were many moments of sheer brilliance in the movie. What I liked the most was that the adventure did not end up in a treasure hunt copied from Hollywood but delved straight into our past for inspiration and to carry the story forward. The bloody feuds between the erstwhile Pandyas and Cholas which result in the Cholan prince running away to safety along with the Pandyan deity in tow forms the crux of the story. Salvaraghavan shows how the exiled Cholan ancestry along with the king and royalty live a famishing life in the middle of nowhere waiting for word to go back to their motherland and boy, how! People, if you watch Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana on TV and think all exiled people live like the Rama and Sita in it, with perfectly manicured eyebrows and women in designer clothes then AO shows how exactly it would be in real life. The hunger and filth that the people live in, the fight like animals for a morsel of food, the cannibalistic tendencies and gory sacrifices, the yearning to go back to their own land of milk and honey, the unconditional love for their king despite the fact that he is reduced to live like an outcast, Selvaraghavan shows the pain and the pathos of living a banished life like it has never been seen before. The unconventional war sequence where one side fought with the most modern of the weapons and the other side with those from 800 years ago and the following atrocities committed were deeply subtexted. Isn’t this happening in Sri Lanka even today? Aren’t men, women and children forced into exile, robbed off the rights of their own land, raped, maimed, mutilated and buried? Isn’t it happening in Afghanistan? I heard sneers and giggles from the audience when they saw men protect themselves with spears and shields against machine guns and rifles but our brothers in some parts of the world do not even have those, my friends. They infact, have nothing but their integrity and respect as shields which are eventually ripped off too like it happens towards the end in the movie.

The performances were awesome to say the least. Karthi must be best new talent which Thamizh cinema has seen in ages. He makes acting look so effortless. If he goes the usual way with 5-songs-5-stunts routine (like I heard he already is) it’s a terrible and criminal waste of prodigious talent. There are hordes of others for that, Karthi. His character is estremely vulgar and sexist but as a woman I haven’t ever seen a coolie who would not try to brush against or make crass comments on a woman he passes, so it’s completely justified. The women here are no delicate dolls either and are potrayed as strong, dominating, arrogant and powerful. Reema was good too, especially in the second half , but in some of her close up shots the lip sync was mighty bad. Her lips say something and the voice says something else. It’s my opinion that a better actress, one with basic Thamizh knowledge, could have done more justice to the role than Reema. Andrea had nothing much to do but did what she had well. And what does one say of Mr. R Parthepan? He ‘lives’ (clichéd but yes) the role of the King in exile with such dignity and poise. His portrayal of the vulnerability and heart break  on seeing his people suffer, the happiness on knowing that they would finally be back to their homeland and the pain on discovering the treachery that means doom to his people, that man is simply mind blowing. G.V. Prakash does a better job on the BGM than I expected him to, though it’s interesting to think what Rahman or Raaja would have done given such a subject. Selva has made a lot of effort to replicate the dialect of Thamizh spoken from the Chola period. It actually backfires since the audience at large isn’t able to understand such chaste thamizh spoken and that too for more than an hour at a stretch. (One front bencher comment: Machan, Yenna da pesraanga? Sri lanka lerndhu thappichu vandhutaangala da??)

As for the negatives, the film is long by 30 minutes at the least. A large portion of the second half is used up to depict the way of life in exile, the miseries and their plight, but it does nothing to hold the interest of the audience or keep them riveted. The story that the present day descendants of the Pandyas who hold high positions such as a Union Minister, Military head and Archaeological head would bring down military troops and ammunition enough to bomb down a small country all for the sake of revenge on their enemies(Cholas) from their past and to recover their deity is laughable. This is where Selva slips big time. A better premise would have worked wonders. The CG is poor. We’ve seen much better CG in Jaganmohini movies with white tightsuited aavis. The climax scene, though it has a brilliant touch by the director, is a damp damp squib.  As for the complaint that the movie is not realistic, is illogical, unexplained and so on, hey, did you know that this genre is called fantasy/adventure?  It is MEANT to be unrealistic and illogical. For realism, go back to Pasanga and Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu please.

Till the interval, all I heard in the movie hall were positive comments. But at the end of the movie there was an uncomfortable silence and people walked out talking that Kutty (that dhanush movie in which he acts all cutie-pie again) would have been a better choice when compared to this. It pains me to think that if this movie fails, it means death to a hundred other creators who want to break the shackles and come up with new themes, ideas and genres. If this movie fails, it means that the usual thamizh cinema routine wins over a bold different attempt. And let’s be ready not to sulk and say people don’t attempt anything different anymore. Aayirathil Oruvan deserves to be talked about, hated, debated on or loved. All it doesn’t deserve is being ignored.

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