Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Ayitha Ezhuthu Review

The Prelude

3:10 PM, T.Nagar, Madras: My friend from Madras Talkies calls and tells me he's got a ticket for me for the 3:15 show. He asks me if I can make it to sathyam in 5 minutes.

3:22 Sathyam Theatre, Madras: I make it to sathyam alive. I probably would have broken a dozen traffic rules in the last 12 minutes. I get the ticket and rush into Santham by mistake and see the first scene of the hindi version, Yuva. I am thinking "oh! My gawd wrong ticket" and check my ticket. Thankfully I am just in the wrong theatre.

3:30 Sathyam theatre, Madras: I am in sathyam. the guy next to me tells me I have missed 2-3 minutes of the movie. I may have done a crime thats punishable in atleast 10 states.

Is It for the chics

Okay! chics wont like this movie. its a dude flick. you dont see any girl saying "kill bill" or "pulp fiction" was tender and made her heart swell! do you? chics should stay at home or watch some dumb dead crap like "hum tum". AE and Yuva is for the dudes.

The Flow of Narration:

Imagine a virtuoso artist, a painter sprinkling paint all over the canvas randomly and you are thinking, "is this another mess in the name of modern art". But slowly the pieces fall into place and as the full picture becomes visible and you think " Boy! never judge a painter until he is finished".

The full arc of his argument is not visible until 70% of the movie is over and once it becomes visible we are simply swallowed by the sheer delight of living through the experience of watching this movie. Not all directors have the guts to draft up such a script in their drawing boards. And a very few make it to the point where they
decide to tell the story the way Manirathnam has told it in Ayitha Ezhuthu. Here is a virtuoso filmmaker at the peak of his powers thrilling the public with his sheer genius.

The style of narration and the way events unfold is radically different from the way indian cinema usually works. The movie unfolds from Inba's (played by Madhavan) perspective and runs headlong to meet all the other characters. This is where the movie
scores the most; introduction of every character. The other 2 protagonists, Michael vasanth ( played by surya) and Arjun ( played by Siddarth) do appear when the story is told from Madhavan's perspective, but they are like a distant blur almost part of the
background. Exactly at the point, and lets call this point Point A, when Surya's character is required in the narration, he zooms into focus and his character suddenly comes alive.

The movie takes off to another dimension when it pauses at the point where Surya comes into focus . Here the narration perspective shifts and rolls back in time a few months to tell the story from Surya's point of view . A small glimpse of this technique was shown in "Run Lola Run" but since the German movie's scope was rather limited, it
did not allow this narrative technique to be fully explored the way manirathnam has done in this movie.

Surya's story then unfolds and moves forward in time until the point, that is point A, where Surya was first brought into focus . This is where Manirathnam's interpretation of kurosawa's narrative technique in the movie "Roshamun" is in full display. I was
impressed by Kamal Hassan's take on the same technique in Virumandi, but Maniratham shows how its really done. The events that were shown as almost incidental events during the narration of the story from Madhavan's perspective assume larger & different proportions when show again from Surya's perspective.

I dont think anybody could have dealt with this concept and implemented it with so much clarity the way manirathnam has done in this movie. As I write the review trying to explain the concept, I realize how many times the draft of this script would have been
refined to tell this story with such clarity.

The Movie:

Manirathnam always has this knack of giving a specific look and feel to his movies. It is almsot as if he decides this aspect first before penning down a serious scrit. This look and feel he brings about by the choice of colors, the camera angles, thee pace of
narration and some other intangibles. He instantly creates a magical
parallel Chennai city where Lallan, Arjun and Michael live and breathe. The Movie seems to give a hep look while simulatneously maintaining its seriousness. Make no mistake this movie is not a rib tickler. Manirathnam's movies always have serious undercurrents with
comedy strewn around here and there. This movie decides to dispense off with the strewing and just shows the serious stuff.

The movie has a whole needs to be appreciated for what it aims for. I will not go into the details of the story and the eventual fate of the characters. The lofty ambition that every educated individual should realise his duty to the nation and contribute to the
development of the society has been brought out in such a wonderful manner. It almost parrallels the ambition that the movie going public should really raise their level to encourage movies like Ayitha Ezhuthu, instead of merely complaining about the low of
quality of Indian movies. Siddarth infact tells something to this extent in a conversatin with Trisha in Napier bridge.

The Three Dots:

The movie is really about how the three dots of Ayitha Ezhuthu need to be oriented towards each other to make sense. This symbolic parallelism is brought out in the movie very well.

This movie is really Madhavan vs Surya. Siddarth does not have a big role to play. Madhavan's negative character seems to give him the edge as the character itself has so much depth and is so well framed that the scope of earning applause is high. Not many would be prepared to accept Madhavan in such a role. But he really looks and acts like a violent person and does reasonable justice to the role.

Surya is the star of the movie in my opinion. He presents Manirathnam's point of view and really is the director's voice in this movie. One can really identify with Surya's character because he is the person we all want to be , but unfortunately arent because
we have defaulted to be a character like that of Siddarth. Surya has done the role with such convinction and authority that one has to concede that he has really arrived as an actor and a star. Surya seems to be able to carry the movie on his own and doesn't require much help at all. He plays the intelligent but angry rebel character
with ease.

The Surprise Packet:

It may be true that a negative villain character is a shortcut to a standing ovation but Bharathiraja's character really steals the show. One can only fanthom how one ace director can visualised this role for another ace director but Bharathiraja's character simply steals the thunder.

The Cinematographer:

It is really not possible to expect anything less than brilliant from the Ravi.K.Chandran & Manirathnam combination. They deliver as expected and the visual treat is simply stunning. Ravi.K.Chandran transcends many unknown boundaries with the usage of different hues and angles. There is no single theme or color contrast, the camerawork restricts itself to and it seems to change the mood of the audience as it shifts focus to different characters.

Songs come to mind when talking about cinematography and "Hey goodbye nanba" comes out on top as the best picturized song. Though I feel Mani should'nt have had songs in the movie at all. The simple and elegant technqiue of using just 2 artists in the beach
and let the camera do the talking works the same way as it worked in Kannathil Muthamittal.

The Director:
Manirathnam comes out on top again not only for the innovative approach he has shown towards story telling but for the level he has aimed in this movie. One almost feels if he trusts the movie going audience too much by creating a work of art of such high quality. But that is where Manirathnams greatness lies and he really goes
where no indian contemporary directory has gone before.

How the Movie will Fare:

Any Manirathnam movie will have a huge opening. Surya's and Madhavan's presence should bring in their quota of fans to the theatre. But how it will sustain in the long run will depend on its ability draw people who are not movie fanatics but who would simply like to watch a quality movie. This movie is all about quality and depth if not anything else.


tilotamma said...

chicks should stay home and watch some dead dumb crap......

Hello?? Where did that come from?
And what makes AE a dude movie?

Hawkeye said...

hey u should argue with my wife.. her comments prompted this statement from me. it was more like jabbing her than actually referring to women folk around the world :-)

i think she cut my left leg for this commenmt. :-)

tilotamma said...

well your wife should start her own blog then. State her opinion that 'no chick' will like AE/anything for that matter and I will take from there...........

And you should just say what you think on your blog.

Deal. :-)?

Anonymous said...

Nice writeup buddy... better than some of the best AE reviews I've read.... and I've read quite a bit...

Very intelligent....

But, feel bad that this hasnt had as many comments on it.... but, that notwithstanding, I'd like to say that this is an excellent piece...

Neha said...

What a chauvinistic person you are..AE is not for chics? Who are you to pass such generic statement? If your wife prompted you to make such statement please say that "AE is not for my wife"..So many expletives are rushing to my mind but I dont want to use those..

Anonymous said...

Ever seen amores peros???I think the technique is more to that than roshumon..

Anonymous said...

its a brilliant movie.....and became who he is..........interests inspired me to the bones!

Anonymous said...