Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Watching Movies, Vazhakku En 18/9

Not a Review of the movie. But mostly my thoughts on why a person likes a movie vs not a like a movie. I wouldn't have written about this movie if I hadn't written ( a few weeks ago) a post that involved the 3-idiots movie. I sense that there is a continuum on the levels of exaggeration a director can resort to in order to make his point. After a particular threshold (and this changes per viewer) the movie looks comical and relatively 'unreal'. Two directors may employ very similar techniques (stereotype+exaggerate, remove shades of gray to emphasize their point) but the magnitude of exaggeration and purpose for which they exaggerate (enhance story vs enhance masala) makes the difference.

Vazhakku En 18/9 was a very disturbing movie.  I actually loved the movie. I felt immersed into the characters and cared about them. The main story of the movie was deep, different and very touching. Outside of the main story - the contrast between two sections  of the society - shown in a black and white way - seemed like the underlying point the director is trying to make. And he exaggerated the relative morality of the two classes as part of telling his story. But I felt the vehicle that was used to make this point - i.e. the actual story of the movie - took control and over-whelmed me to an extent where I didn't mind the rather poorly balanced class based stereotypes portrayed in the movie. I found this interesting because in 3 Idiots, I had the complete opposite experience where the stereotypes the director uses for purposes of  making his underlying point were so annoying and misleading that they dominated the rather weak story line of the movie. I felt an invisible line was crossed.

Probably because one aspect of the "director's touch" in Vazhakku En 18/9 resonated with me. This is a subjective observation because it isn't necessarily part of the movie's central story but is an underlying voice that passes social commentary as the story progresses. Balaji Sakthivel argues against the trend of today's society. Outside of the main class-based contrasting - Balaji Sakthivel seems to be making  a secondary point as well. He shows  that economically richer parents either (a) neglect their children or (b) are the reason for children's poor ethics or (c) do try to take care of their children in the best way possibly but cannot compete with the growing moral decadence of the society that uses new technology to make the world very unsafe for school going girls/children. I agreed with this part of the secondary narrative. Bringing out this nuance in an effective way made me think that the richer class were projected in a more true-to-life sort of way compared to the poor class. In comparison to 3-idiots: while both worlds were distorted to fit the movie format, I felt the distortion of this movie's world fell within a threshold of acceptability. Probably because it enhances the central story. It felt more 'real' than the way 3-idiots portrayed the world to make its point.


mlc said...

unga analazation ku oru "O" podalaam! :-)

Alan Smithee said...

Technology should scare the rich away from depravity and the balance must have been tilted. I mean those living in rural areas with no cell phones can hump each other as much as they want and worry only about 1 or 2 eye-witnesses after which it descends to "he said - she said" type of accusation. Whereas in pattanam, you hump and you are on youtube in no time.

mokka musketeer said...

A very well observed nuance. Never thought in an angle to compare the surreal boundaries two movies cross.The class-based contrasting was not presented as this is how every poor person or every rich person lead their respective lives. It was about individuals/group of individuals who behaved in a certain way- far more realistic than a whole town being 'modified' to a certain way like it was shown in 3-idiot/Nanban(towards the climax). About movies that attempt to bring changes in society; the more exaggerated they are, stronger are the possibilities that a common man will think of it as just a movie/entertainment; and take back home no message. A subtle and a closer to real life depiction alone will ensure that messages conveyed are taken seriously. In that way Vazhakku Enn 18/9 managed to pull it off.

Venkat Hari said...

I don't know what the end game of the post is, but I'll assume that you're saying that a movie which brings out nuances in a subtle manner are better/acceptable and if we use that token of evaluation - 3 idiots is distorted and misleading.
You're right, but at the same time, this is a post that's fairly distant from reality.

To state the obvious - Balaji Sakthivel can afford to be nuanced, but Aamir Khan with his mega budgets cannot. Assuming that both Balaji and Aamir make movies with a premise of making money - Aamir needs to appeal to a much larger base of people, consequently the average intelligence level to appeal to will be fairly lower.
Therefore, The spin I would give to a movie like 3 idiots is that it's a credit to someone like Aamir for successfully juxtaposing entertainment with a social problem that is worthy of contemplation... The threshold of acceptability - as you put it - may have been breached, but that's fine. In a line, your comparison of a popular movie maker with an up and coming small budget movie maker is a palapayam, apple comparison that invalidates the central point of your post - sorta!

On the subject of the 3 idiots premise - I feel it's ok even if people take it's flawed message a little seriously. In the end, common sense and pragmatism dictate the ordinary man's actions, the minority dude who's motivated to follow his dreams and strength would do it anyway.
But if it makes schools and colleges contemplate on structuring their course in a way that creativity is 'also' harnessed - then it's a job well done, no ?
My bet is on Aamir to bring out that effect with his distortion as opposed to someone like Balaji Sakthivel with his nuance..

Anonymous said...

Finally its about whether you agree with the core message of the movie. Exaggerations are generally overlooked if you like the message.

You did not like what 3 idiots was trying to preach. You like what Balaji Shakthivel is trying to say. So you like this movie.