Sunday, January 27, 2008

Movie Review: Bheema: Brokeback Mountain Revisited

Bheema is a tender love story. One may think it is a traditional 3-way love story, but in my mind this is really the first time a Thamizh movie deals with a homosexual theme. The movie completely and only deals in metaphors. Sekhar (Played by Vikram) falls in love with Chinna (Prakash Raj), a man possibly a decade older than Sekhar. Chinna's sheer masculinity sends ripples down Sekhar's thighs. The childhood moment where the love-at-first-sight blooms has been wonderfully captured. The flashback tells you in a touching way how Sekhar gets to play with Chinna's 'kattai'. Chinna gives his 'kattai' to Sekhar after he is done using it. The opportunity to handle Chinna's 'kattai' gives Sekhar wet dreams. Sekhar and his father police 'yettu' Krisnamurthy spend a sleepless night that is shown in minute detail. Sekhar possibly writhing in fantasy and wet dreams of someday being with Chinna and Krishnamurthy possibly wondering about the impact of a child marriage.

Sekhar grows up, develops his body and pursues Chinna to 'arpanichify' his body to Chinna. I thought the segment where Sekhar earns his right to stand beside Chinna was well directed. Over time he beats people up to earn the rare opportunity of having Chinna's hot hands paw over him. Trisha's navel is a key character in this movie. Her navel falls in love with Sekhar. Trisha's navel has certainly grown and matured as an actor. I have been tracking its growth for the past five years. In my PhD proposal I had observed that "Trisha's little navel is disproportionately small to her stomach. Given a little bit of time, it should grow in size and command more attention". Now, one can confidently say that Trisha's navel is firmly ensconced as the #2 navel in Thamizh Nadu way ahead of Simran's navel and right behind Reema Sen's navel. It has become better in emoting during certain crucial moments, have an attitude, and aptly conveys the proverbial 'directorial touch'. Trisha's mammoth stomach also aids her navel in getting its much needed screen space.

The raw sexual aspect of the movie has to be commended. All three characters cannot sleep well at night - for most nights. Sekhar is told several times that "chinna night ellam unna neneichu thoongave illai". This ensures that Sekhar also has his wet sleepless nights. Trisha does not sleep well and so does her sister. The equations between key actors get complex as Sekhar's love for Chinna goes unrequited for a while. They constantly express they 'love' for each other. Their eyes move and meet during several sequences. Even when Sekhar beats up the entire population of Madras during the Nayagan-like slum scene, Chinna sensuously gives him a 'I want you now' look. This happens several times and Chinna clearly runs his eyes around Sekhar's body and sizes him up. This movie shows Sekhar, even as a young boy, saying that he wanted to talk like Chinna, walk like Chinna, play with his thing like Chinna (cry Chinna's name in the final moments). Sekhar is shown as if he was about to say that he wore the same underwear as Chinna - but he just stops short. Clearly, their love is extremely mature and beyond the understanding of S.Ve.Sekhar's 'bloody society'.
But perplexingly Chinna decides to pursue his heterosexual ambitions and Sekhar faces Trisha's 50-meter-circumference navel as a serious obstacle. The nature of police involvement in this soft love story was confusing. I understood Chinna and Sekhar whenever they said "avane podu", "ivane podu". I could understand Sekhar's anger when Raghuvaran tries to 'pottufy' Chinna. After all Chinna is Sekhar's own. Sekhar is young and raw whereas Raghuvaran is old. I did not understand why police want to 'pottufy' Chinna, Sekhar and many other people. I thought the director lost the plot there. In the end Sekhar unsurprisingly ends up where he wants - his face lies as close to Chinna's armpits as possible - for eternity. A splendid thoughtful ending.

All in all - a fantastic must watch. 'Bheema' should have ideally been named as 'Shikandi'. One must appreciate a different and bold theme of 'karpai kooda natpai pola ennuvom'.

18 comments:

Zero said...

I did suspect something along these lines since I got to know what the film is about. Haven't watched the film yet. Thanks for the thumbs-up, let me keep my fingers crossed until I watch the film.

However, the watershed moment (albeit unrecognized) in Tamil cinema in subversive treatment of themes of sexuality has to be 'Priyamaana Thozhi'. (Ah, the title itself opens up myriad interpretations.) At the core of the film is, of course, the platonic friendship, but it's dealt with a great deal of subversiveness. There's the triangular love story angle when the male friend marries a woman. Now, the newly married "thalli-pottufy" it so that the female friend doesn't "feel." ("Varuththa padaradhu" or something close to that is the actual expression used; anyone may double-check.) "Feel" what, you ask. Feel jealous, may be? Or, may be, feel left out. You never get to know. So, the wife goes and sleeps with the friend of her hubby! A truly stunning moment. Throughout the film, the director unsettles, challenges, questions the audience with such moments.
We never get to know what exactly is going through the minds of these characters, even as the film draws to an end. And, the director lets his character just be, without setting out to explain. The overarching bleakness behind the feel-good ending is stunning, to say the least. A must-watch really.

Anonymous said...

hahaha..kalakeeteenga!!!

Vee Cee said...

hillarious!!!
hawkeye-na oru aaaangle-la dhaan paakkaraaru.

Nilu said...

Someone said the art of writing is about knowing what leave out or some shit like that.

Reading this reminded of that.

MLC said...

hawkeye! unga lollu-iku oru alavey illainga!! I saw the movie and now aftr reading this review, its makn me thnk diffrntly abt those looks that shekar used to gv chinna & vice versa!!! kashtagaalam!

maxdavinci said...

saw the so-called pongal blockbuster, but failed to see this angle!

now that I think of it, prolly the gay chemistry is what delayed the film....

Sarang said...

Hawkeye,
Wonderfully put! I wouldn't have said it better.......

Hawkeye said...

zero,

i have not watched priyamaana thozhi. now i am tempted.

"feel" is such a reusable word. mind boggles.

anon,

danks.

vee cee,

illa saar. there was wonli wone angil.

nilu,

that is valuable feedback (i mean sincerely). however, i think you are an optimistic trusting soul. i am not.

mlc,

i was not nakkalifying. i the serious. this is a gay movie.

maxdavinci,

yes! image problems may have led to delay.


sarang,

nandri hai.

Taurus said...

rofl...

me & ma friends were like wtf --on vikrams 'weird' crush on an aging don...

glass said...

am i the only person that actually enjoyed "bheema" - the movie not the man.... evry1 else seems to have been bored or mad at the movie. good acting and i felt that the the chemistry between vikram and prakash raj rocked.

SilasRam said...

lmao. Holy shit lol. I havent seen the movie yet. But its all gone. I cant watch it after reading your review. Incase if I watch itIm gonna laugh the hell off.

That was hilarious. good job!

sudhir said...

hi.. im a new blogger.. i ve linked ur blog.. pls link back mine...

Anonymous said...

Uproariously funny review. Hats off to your uncanny ability to spot the hidden thread. Reading this is probably only way to justify paisa spent watching this crap fest

Karthik Sriram said...

http://maxdavinci.wordpress.com/2008/02/04/bheema-when-a-man-loves-another/

Karthik Sriram said...

http://maxdavinci.wordpress.com/2008/02/04/bheema
-when-a-man-loves-another/

put them together and use the link

Anonymous said...

reading zero's comment reminded me of that Nilu , but isn't he one of your key jalras?

Nishanth said...

Love this review, brother. Hilarious. I'm switching allegiance from Sudhish Kamath's to yours henceforth.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.