Saturday, April 16, 2005

Chandramukhi: Must Watch: It is really a movie!!!:


Note: The plot or Story line is not revealed

Minutes after the movie opens, a gang of rowdies sent by a politician attacks SenthilNathan's (Prabhu) construction-site-inspection-van and try to "behave indecently" with the girl engineers in that van. The gang members are shown chasing the girls in slow motion. That is when someone kicks one of the gang members, kicks him so hard that the goonda flies about 100 yards from the point of impact and lands on a car, smashing its windshield. The camera zooms to the sky, comes down back to earth, the wind is roaring angrily and the dry leaves are flying all over. The camera settles down on the bottom part of a shoe and gradually zooms outward in slow motion. Voila! For the 153rd time -Rajinikanth is revealed! The grand backgroud music that accompanies his introduction and the ear-shattering whistling that goes on in Udhayam theatre, makes the occasion surreal. Wait! Its not yet over! Rajinikanth has just kicked somebody and he has not completed his kick. The camera then captures Rajinikanth in mid-kick, his right leg raised upward like Jackie Chan. It then captures all the angles of the kick using the now-famous bullet-time technology. Rajinikanth brings his leg down and rotates his right leg in a circular fashion and a mini tornado forms around his leg, thereby raising the dry leaves above the ground again. He then throws something in the air, which people automatically assume to be a cigarrete, the camera captures the upward motion of the thrown object and when it directly lands in his mouth, you find that its a BOOMER bubble gum ( he has given up cigarettes for this movie). The rest of scene shows Rajini jump on top of a person's shoulder, pivot to his right, kick someone on the face and then Rajini pauses in mid air ( "in mid-air mind you" did Seinfeld say :-) ) as if to say "Jujupee to you - Newton's second law of motion" to pivot magically to his left and kick another person. The scene ends when Rajini throws people around and makes them attain escape velocity. Jokes aside I was enjoying every moment of this and was clapping furiously.

Abhay After a scene like this and dialogs like "I have come back after one year amma! I just want to make everybody happy", I was thinking that it is very tough to take Rajini for the character that he plays - Saravanan - A Doctor of Psycology. The real rajinikanth is so explosive that he permeates into every character he plays. So much that he is obligated to explain his break in making movies - to the audience - through his character. I was thinking, I should sit back, enjoy and evaluate the movie in Rajinikanth's own parallel movie world, with its own set of rules and laws ( much like the James Bond ones). But I was wrong! Rajini plays a character close that of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and the movie follows a classic Poirot kind of plot. This is really a movie. What I mean by this is - unlike many other Rajinikanth movies - this movie has a rock solid story line ( a proven one at that in Kannada/Malayalam too). When was the last time you sort of tensed your arms and legs feeling scared, like the way you do in a horror movie - for a Rajinikanth movie!. This movie if it wanted to could scare the B-Jesus outta you. Rajini for most part of the film does really become and play the role of Saravanan. Not only that, he is not the main dude in the movie! He merges into the background and comes forward when the script makes it necessary. Rajinikanth has chosen quality over grandoise. A rare thing indeed. Though it is extremely difficult to make Rajinikanth look credible as a Doctor of Psycology, this movie comes as close to acheiving that as any movie can( albeit not completely).

Abhay P.Vasu has obviously broken down a very heavy story line to fit it with the requirements of a Rajinikanth movie. A very difficult task in itself. The story is so good that probably even after hours of chipping away at the script and de-intelligenc'ing it for the palatability of an average Rajini Fan, it still carries a lot of weight. However, P.Vasu in this movie has shown poor attention to detail. There are too many logical flaws to pen down. I wouldn't wanna be a party spoiler and harp about logic in a Rajini movie but these flaws aren't introduced for the sake of Rajini. These are errors created by the director because of the choices he makes in deciding how the movie progresses. He could have very well avoided these flaws and made a better movie without compromising on the "Rajini" factor. The problem that the movie poses requires that the Doctor of Psycology ( Rajinikanth) should solve the problem and not anybody else. The movie creates huge gaps in logic to make that possible. A little thought and clarity in scripting could have made that possible. Bottomline if someone like Kamalahassan or K.Bhagyaraj was asked to write the screenplay instead of P.Vasu himself, this movie would have worked much better. There are jarring cuts in the way movie progresses and some scenes follow each other so quickly that we are left with a "drama" feeling than a movie feeling. Apart from the script P.Vasu has also done a poor job extracting performances from the side-artists, especially Nasser, Prabhu and K.R.Vijaya. The "drama" feeling is especially prominent in the first half an hour where you almost get the feeling these actors are "acting" the part than actually "living" the part. This was not true for some of the earlier Rajini movies.

Abhay The plot, which I will not reveal, is a complex one. It involves two perspectives - and the viewer is privy to only of the two perspectives. The other perspective is something only Rajinikanth is privy to. The story evolves and changes direction as a result of some of Saravanan's(Rajini) decisions. The movie pauses at a point where the problem(the viewers are still not aware of it) is so interwined that, only Saravanan can solve the problem. He then narrates, in Poirot style, the second perspective to everybody ( the viewers are synched up with Saravanan at this point) . This is when Kurosawa's old and famous technique of showing the same scene from two different camera angles is once again used in Tamil Cinema ( although this may have been used in the Mallu movie which won Shobana the national award). The final few scenes wonderfully reveal the second perspective and makes you slam your head with your hands and say "I saw this scene! why didn't I notice this". After you hear Saravanan's narration, you understand that if the problem is solved Saravanan will die. You are thinking! "Wow! Rajinikanth dying" that never happens unless its a double action movie, does it? You are not sure. This movie is delightfully so far away from the Rajinikanth formula that you half-entertain the thought of such a possibility.

The last few moments are the best part of the movie. Jyotika delivers the best performance of her career. Man! She was really good. It is very difficult to appreciate her without revealing the plot but I will try my best. When the telegu song was played, the way one and then later two artists danced to that tune was simply impressive. It was mind blowing. Anybody who is a general movie-goer should not miss this movie thinking " ah! who wants to go to a rajini movie". The fantasy re-enactment of the Chandramukhi story was excellent. I always held that Rajinikanth can act wondefully well in a negative role ( Anybody who has seen avargal knows that). Those few moments reveal his potential in that direction.

The camera work is good but scratchy in certain places. Again some atention to technical details ( not something associated with any of Rajini's directors) could have made those special effects look better. At least the beginning introduction scene where Rajini stands with one leg in kicking motion could have been done better. The way it is right now - it is plainly obvious someone's leg has been digitally cut and pasted. And - oh! my god! enough of gravity defying Rajini jump scenes. Are we still in the 80's? Although the songs, except the kite song, is nothing to write home about and actually irritating ( especially the title "devuda" song), they were taken very well. Colorful, lot of people - 100% Rajini style. The background music was impressive though. I have to make a special mention about the lighting. The selective lighting on Jyotika's eyes and the change of filter colors to dark red and brown during certain critical moments makes the scene appear more menancing. If you remove the lighting and the background music, you may notice the reduction in impact the scene creates. P.Vasu because of his experience making Apthamthra, does very well in creating the horror movie effect. One thing, he could have avoided silly things like putting Sivaji ganesan's photo in the beginning of the movie, P.Vasu and Sivaji's son Ramkumar appearing in that Devuda song to say "repeat" etc. The whole movie is taken inside a single building with the layout of the building being vital to the plot. Sometimes we don't know where the North room is with respect to the other rooms in the castle ( Watch Panic Room for good example of how to deal with an analogous requirement) . When someone is shouting for help and the "evil" chases them, we do not know where they are running. We also do not know why Rajini is the only person to hear Chandramukhi's midnight dances. With a little bit more attention to detail, he could have sorted these things out and made the movie even better.


To sum up. I was very happy to see Rajinikanth do such a movie. He should do more movies like this. Unfortunately ( judging by the jeering whistles in the last few scenes) not all the public may appreciate such sincere efforts at movie making. But for purists sake he should try it anyway. This movie is a must watch. It has a good story and an outstanding performance by Jo! Go watch it.


fieryblaster said...

Excellent, Enthralled. Paucity of my vocabulary do not allow me write anything more.

Harish said...

Awesome review!

innum padatha paarkala.. can't wait to see it :)

Hawkeye said...

Fieryblaster & harish,

thanks for your kind words. Thanks for visiting the site :-)

Anonymous said...

Nalla jaalra!

Ram said...

How come you have not said anything about the new Mallu gal, Nayantara? What was the reaction like, in Udayam theater, when she scolds Rajini?

Here in Sunnyvale, in the preview show on Wed Apr 13th, the fans just stopped short of throwing slippers on the screen?

Also, another thing noteworthy was the picturization of "Konja Neram Konja Neram" song in Turkey, which I thought was one of the best picturized romantic songs in Tamil after Jeans. Another noteworthy fact was the timing of the "Athindom" song.

Really enjoyed the movie and agree with your comments about P. Vasu. I thought Jyothika was a little overacting at times... but she's done remarkably well and arguably her best thus far!

simple_sundar said...

Wonderful, matured and depthful review. Pls send it to who just gave 40 marks for the movie (the same gave 42 for utter flop 'Sachien') and fooled all of its readers.


Anonymous said...

Compared to the kannada version of the same movie called Apthamitra, this movie does not seem to be great. Also the psychiatrist's role suits very well to vishnuvardhan in kannada than rajani. Rajani is no where closer to vishnuvardhan in this role.

DeaK.In.FroSt said...

Great review yarr!! What do you think about the background score?..I do feel the usage of ragas such as hindolam,sallaapam and pantuvarali created a mysterious atmostphere in the movie. Hat's off to Vidyasagar for using rajesh vaidya(Veena)as a medium to convey the emotions..

Bharathi said...

Wow, you know, you portrayed this movie quite well. lol, and i enjoyed ur point of defying newtons law. i loved the movie alot, especially jo's mind blowing performance, at one point i got freaked out. i stop watching the screen. and jo has nice eyes, so when she has those scenes focused on her eyes, those were amazing. well, just droppin a hi!

Anonymous said...

Hey nice review
newtons second law of motion is F= ma
Force = Mass x Accelaration
What does Rajni's intro have to do with either of them?
Maybe ur talking abt his 3rd law
Every force has an equal and opposite force
or his 1st law of inertia!

ksha3yan said...



Ravi R said...

Man.. Bharat, Excellent writing. I chanced on this site of yours, searching for 'Ilayaraaja' in Yahoo. And i am glad i tumbled into this ancedotal world of yours. What struck me is the similarity of thoughts, well maybe atleast what i read. Your thoughts on Rajini sent me in raptures, for i laugh everytime i see Rajini. His mannerism's gives me giggles, but yet i cant switch the TV off. Well i guess thats his magic. If i with all the logic and reasoning can say that Rajini is nothing more than a comedian and yet be glued to the screen when i see him, i can only imagine to the rest of TN. BTW, have you watched "Spaceballs" ? You will love it !

Srijith Unni said...

Nicely written. I am a big fan of the Malayalam original, from which, the Kannada, tamil and hindi versions were made. So while watching Chandramukhi I kept noticing the flaws, but after having watched it two or three times, one realizes what the Rajini phenomenon is all about. and considering the kind of magic and surrealism that evolves like you said, in the introduction scene, I have to agree that this is the best that could have been done considering the average rajini fan.