Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dowser Kazhandu pochuda

Kamal: "Indha paapathi ma! chicken'la uppu kaaram ellam correct'a irukkannu sollungo"
Paapathi 'Amma': "Indha court order banning your movie. Sariya padichu 'sa'ku badhila 'sha' irukaanu paarthu Shollungo"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Viswaroopam - Review

Strangely, I am at loss of words on how to describe this movie. It is certainly not a great movie or anywhere close to Kamal's best. At the same time I wouldn't say he did a bad job with the movie. Its just that nothing much happens in the movie. The entire movie seems like a build up to potential second movie he may or may not release. Specifically in the 2+ hours he has spent on the movie Kamal Hasan  paints a nice picture of life in Afghanistan and the lives of the people there. I thought he brought out a very good capture of the 'human beings' who lived in Afghanistan. He showed that they aren't machines who just killed for pleasure. but were people with thoughts and feelings who are into this because of religion or forces they don't really control. Another area where he did really well was the way he set up the Kathak dancer's effeminate'ness to a splendid retribution moment. It was a mini-movie within itself where you could see him wind this coil up for that specific catharsis moment. I would like to think that the area where he has failed - was the part where the movie had to deliver us the payload. In the sense - what is the payoff to this movie? What the culmination point where it all starts to make sense and all the lose ends are tied together? There is no such point. There is no high or adrenalin rush. Nothing really happens.

For one thing Viswaroopam lacks soul. The key part of a movie that would connect us to the characters and make us feel for them. It has a pretty decent first half where it was building on to something. But then like I said - nothing big really happens. the climax is a whimper and some parts of the second half (where American FBI agent ask some arbit Indian woman for advise on nuclear stuff - as if they couldn't bring in their own experts) was just nonsense. And things like 'Faraday cover' etc could not be pulled off without losing credibility. I was wondering why I didn't expect a soul from - lets say - Thuppakki. I guess Kamal Hasan has a nature of peeping into places in the heart where other people do not look. And it shows when he does so in a half-hast manner. Thuppaakki was much better movie purely because of its simplicity. The story had a clear beginning, middle and an end. It defined the problem being solved correctly and there were no layers. Vishwaroopam lacks that clarity, seems have layers but then doesn't do justice to that. As a viewer I am not engaged.

Lastly, the question of whether someone should be offended by the movie. Kamal Hasan has built or tried to build some sort of a trust with the muslim community over time - partly by openly sympathising with them and partly by criticizing Hinduism to the best of his ability. He has tried to cash in on that trust ticket in this movie and that has sadly backfired. If you are one of those paarpana paradesis who think being an atheist or eating chicken mutton inspite of being a paarpanan is a big 'perumai' - it is quite understandable that you may not get the point of the muslim objection. There exists another world - a very normal world like one in which these kudigaara parpanargal live - where people have not drunk the koolaid of 'irreverence towards religion is cool'. In that world  this movie could be offensive. To me the muslim parts of movie sounded true. But I was thinking in the first few scenes 'no brahmin be it in Chennai  or in New York ever talks like that'. Given that I wouldn't be surprised if the Muslims felt the opposite.

I actually thought the religious parts about muslims in the movie was shown in a positive context - that they were basically god-fearing people who have been misled. But who knows how it appears to them -  they may question the presence of religious rituals in these scenes. I was debating as to why Jayalalitha's government managed to create one problem or the other for Kamal Hasan's release and maybe thought of ascribing a political motive to the ban. But part of me thinks they are doing the sensible thing of playing to  vote-bank politics and let the courts handle it. Its a win-win. They can always claim they banned it and are helpless if courts over turn it. Then I was thinking whether Kamal Hasan was this innocent pioneering artist who was facing 'ahead of his times' type issues. But I could not bring myself to believe that. He has repeatedly made fun of and bullied weaker castes of today's society. Life is a jungle and he is an animal getting mangled by other animals. I have no sympathy for him. This movie  has the potential to be interpreted as offensive. I think it gives people enough grey area to hijack it to their own purpose. And that is as ok as kamal hasan being allowed to make this movie. Both views have an equal chance to duke it out in the movie. Just because you don't think religion is important doesn't mean shit. If you are a kudigaara paarpana thaazhi who takes pride in not wearing poonal and think 'freedom of speech' is non-negotiable, I can help you empathize with the muslim objection. Think of your religion as 'freedom of speech'. If you feel offended that someone uses their religious sentiments to infringe on your religion then you know exactly how they feel when you use your religion to infringe on theirs.

Update: Other Vishwaroopam Reviews

1. Amas (who drove 6 hours back & forth from Madras to bangalore to watch this)
2. Harini
3. Maxdavinci
4. SriKrishnan

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

All Squares are rectangles but all rectangles....

While anecdotal evidence is very impressive, one definitely wonders whether empirical evidence will show that at least a significant proportion of rape cases happen minus influence of alcohol.

The recent Dilli case is a starting point. Then you have the Bombay case that says- 

"a young man — who raped a pregnant woman and killed her grand mother-in-law — on the ground that the accused was drunk and not in a normal state of mind."

Then we go back to the famous Sarika Shah case (not a rape but molestation) that changed a lot of things in Tamil Nadu and we read

" the drunken, autorickshaw-borne gang, returning from a Youth Congress meeting in the city, splashed water from sachets on Sarika and her friend Kavitha, who were walking along the road. Going a step further, Hari fell on Sarika who lost balance in the impact and fell, sustaining severe head injuries. "

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Pongal Song

A nostalgia search triggered led to unearthing of a poor print of this song that was shown by DD on every single Pongal day - Thai Pirandhal vazhi pirakkum thangame thangam..". Watching SSR and Raja Sulochana was generally regarded as recipe for proper chinese prison torture stuff . But this song somehow managed to lend hope..

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

When does a movie becomes a Kamalagasan movie?

A country can be called England only when any young boy can dream of growing up and becoming the queen of England [1].

A movie is a Kamal Hassan movie when any ambitious and self-respecting Srinivasa Iyengar, Ramunja Iyengar, Agnihothram Thathacharya, Vemuri Ranga Raghava Iyengar can dream of growing up and becoming an islamic terrorist. That too a terrorist in a jihadi organization that firmly believes in secularism, communism and freedom for women. 

[1] - M*A*S*H