Monday, June 04, 2007

Movie Review: Chennai 600028 : Brilliant : Sixer

Talk about unconventional movies. My Thamizh heart beams with pride. This is the second 'aasum' movie of this year - And Sivaji, Dasavatharam and Varanam Aayiram haven't even come out yet. Chennai -28 is about the rivalry between two cricket teams that participate in Radio Mirchi's annual 'knockout' tennis-ball cricket tournament. Sharks Vs Rockers is this tournament's equivalent of India Vs Pakistan. As a result of a four year cricketing rivalry, the teams hate each other and often physically fight each other. The opening sequence stands out. After the introduction of the 'Sharks' team players and its manager (who does a commendable Saravana Stores Kumbudu), we are taken into the heart of a tense encounter. An extremely incompetent fat guy is the striker. His stance belies his cricketing stature. As he runs to complete the vital second run, he flings himself towards the crease a'la Jonty Rhodes and Robin Singh. A splendid jump. He falls down flat on his body, screeches a good distance with his bat is outstretched. He seems to have done all the right things. But there is a catch. After his forward motion stops, he is still a yard or two short of the crease. The man has apparently executed the jump at half-pitch. The opposition keeper waits with the ball in hand, a sarcastic smile on his face. The batsman flails his bat desperately trying to reach the crease, the keeper uproots the stumps. Game Over.

The movie is about the lives of the members of Sharks cricket team for the next one year. Until the finals of the next year's competition. No! its not what you think. Its not even close to that kind of movie where the team trains hard, goes through challenges and wins the next year's trophy in the last ball. Its not the opposite of the cliche either. It does not even meet the same team again in the subsequent year's final game. And the actual cricket results does not even matter. That's why this movie is so unconventional. The story, the narration, the comedy and the dialogs are all off the beaten track. I haven't seen something this fresh and innovative for a long time. Thank god for Thamizh sarcasm. This movie is all about nakkal. A nakkal that is probably the Essense of Madras itself. It does nakkal on any one of the team members, on their manager, and sometimes on the audience. Even the cricket commentator provides his dose of 'nakkal' (" aiswarya rai vanthu enakku pakkathil ukkarnthu irukkum sumaar kumar'ai kaathalippathaga solluvathu evalavu saathiyamo, athey pole 15 overs'il 135 runs adipathu saathiyam aagum" - "avan panthai pidithan enbathai vida panthu avanai pidithathu endru thaan solla vendum" ) . Every time you expect something serious is going to happen, every time you think this is treading down the formula path, the movie mocks you. There are few serious moments but overall the movie takes itself and the events it narrates very lightly. The narrative thread picks up when Raghu's father, a police officer, is transferred to Chennai 28. Chennai 28 is where Team Sharks live. Raghu plays for Rockers and he walks right into Sharks' den. His fear and insecurities about survival in enemy territory is wonderfully shot. The pace and tone of the movie is set from that scene onwards and never slows down. Even though the movie is over 2 hours, you never feel it. I couldn't recall a single boring moment. And I laughed every time "ennai kodumai sir ithu" was said. Even louder, when the guy who can't catch anything finally manages to catch one

Teginical aspect: I found it hard to believe that the movie is by a new director. It seems so sophisticated. The editing was simply a class apart. Not just in songs but in the way it increases the pace of the narrative and in the way it provides multiple perspectives on certain events. It is quite obvious nowadays that Thamizh cinema has the best cinematographers in this country. The low contrast and the lighting used in this movie is striking even for a casual observer. I loved a couple of songs. Especially Un Paarvai and the way it was pictured. Above all, the flow of narration and the way this story has been told to us has to be commended. The execution of scenes where cricketing shots are involved, could have been better. It is pretty mediocre in the beginning and then improves towards the end. One could argue that this is the way tennis-ball cricket is played. Venkat Prabhu has done a fine job. He has used hi-fi technology to show the lives of lower-middle class people. Their language, mannerisms and lifestyle targets a different audience from what the movie overall seems to target. Whether it is an intentional counterpoint or not is moot. It is beautiful. If this movie runs in C centers, it makes economic sense also. As a side note - most directors have a lot of new things they want to say ( Like Gautham's Potrayal of villains) and they say it very well in their first movie. After that they run out of tricks. Can Radha Mohan, Venkat Prabhu or Guatham Menon do what K. Balachander did. That is the more interesting question.

And finally :-)


Vee Cee said...

would love to see this movie.
but they could have come up with a better title - even something like 'chennai 600***'.

I said...

Kollywood makes the best movies. thamil valga

anantha said...

You failed to mention the funniest line in the movie where someone says Shaaks a? Soo podarathukku munnadi poduvaangale, adhu va?

And the plaintive - Eppadi pottalum adikkaran da

And the subtle play on Raghu's resemblence to Vijay. Orey nakkal, only!

Sakthivel said...

kollywood... most of the indian movies suckss . atleast tamil industry churns out a odd good film once in a blue moon. rest of films ( kollywood and other woods included) are utter crap... the best drain of monetary resources in the country

arun said...

yes,hailing from chennai, i feel that this film has touched the pulse of the city audience, thanx to such bubbling directors like venkat,radha mohan..we still have good movies around the corner making hopes 4 revival in tamil cinema which has been caught in a vicious cycle of heroism .... however the director could have avoided the embarrasing song sequence which incl the steaming bed scenes ........