Sunday, January 22, 2012

On Scholarly Debates with Roommates

While studying in grad school, roommates tend to spend extraordinary amount of time discussing and arguing about the vettiest of topics. These arguments tended to be very intense, created so much tension and anger causing the said roommates to not speak to each other for days together. And the topic of discussion was usually the most worthless topic on the planet.

I was reminded of one such discussion that happened 12 years ago. This was around the time the movie Alaipayuthey got released. In our apartmment corridor there were 3 houses packed close to each other. There were a total of 16-17 people in this little thamizh ghetto. And the discussion started the way such discussions usually start - innocuously at about 8PM or so.

My roommate Xinu (nicknamed after the Operating System) observed that the site of Shalini accident was mentioned as Nelson Manickkam Road. But we could all clearly see Cozee restaurant in the background. Manirathnam had obviously shot the scene in Beasant Nagar. Xinu was totally pissed off at that goof-up. According to him that flaw killed the entire credibility of the scene. Leading him to believe that the critical accident scene in the movie was completely destroyed thereby significantly weakening the movie's believability.

One the other hand :-) I felt some other aspect of the accident scene was what killed the believability. My criticism went thus. Madhavan was supposed to receive shalini in the railway station. That is why he comes directly to the railway station, waits in the stairs for sometime and then goes straight to the railway platform and waits for shalini there. This meant that Shalini was used to Madhavan picking her up everyday inside the railway station. But if you remember the way that scene played out; Shalini comes to station by train, gets off and goes straight to Nelson Manickkam road without waiting for Madhavan. And she walks arbitrarily/purposelessly on the side of the road (This is where she gets pleasantly surprised to meet her sister Swarnamalya who happens to be dating the Hyundai company works manager Raghuraman. And then she crosses the road lost in thought and meets with car accident). There is no reason offered as to why she did not wait for Madhavan inside the train station.

Now why would she not wait for Madhavan in the railway station? The accident would have never happened had she waited. It goes completely against the plot of the situation. She knows he is coming to pick her up. Yet in order to contrive this accident scene Manirathnam ignores that assumption and deliberately shows her walking outside on the road. This is a critical logal flaw. Cozee restaurant being in Nelson Manickam road is easily explained. Its a fictional place in a fictional movie. Cozee isn't known to people outside of Chennai. In this fictional story Manirathnam could've easily claimed that the Cozee sardar opened another branch in Nelson Manickam road. But having Shalini walk out of the station goes against the self-created logic of the movie.

I felt that my criticism was more valid and wanted the group of friends assembled to firmly establish the fact that this flaw was what made the scene less believable. Xinu on the other hand was clearly trying his best to make a case that Cozee restaurant must be held as the reason why that scene was less credible. And we argued for 7 straight hours. Late into the night. Tempers flared. Insults exchanged. And we were stuck on this topic for the next few days until we were distracted by the next huge fight on whether a roommate called ChisBeer was run out or not.

The beauty of pointlessness in having pointless discussions and trying to bring out tightly woven analogies with nuanced logic was what defined a vetti boy. I miss those days.


Manojh said...

"This meant that Shalini was used to Madhavan picking her up everyday inside the railway station"
- How did you conclude this? I believe Madhavan was so excited to convey the news about the contract that he thought he could catch her coming right out of the station and maybe pick her up on the day.

The most illogical scene I thought was Madhavan's akka's (what I assume as) "valaikappu" when she is already having a kid.

Anonymous said...

What manoj says is right,how did u conclude,i also thought he was so excited & wanted to share it with her,so he goes there to pick up.Such things happend in every1's life.

I said...

That valakaapu with a kid already; totally unpardonable for Mani Ratnam to overlook. Also Princeton does not have a medical school as Karthik Kumar claims.

I don't follow your logic about the station pick-up. I thought Madhavan did not pick up Shalini every day but made an exception that one day as he was eager to meet her.

Anonymous said...

Manojh, I think that scene was beaten to death by many ppl on the net.. Its madhavan's Anni and the 'valaikappu/seemandham' can be done to every child though its not common practice..

Hawkeye said...

i find it even more hard to blieve that a guy just doing a surprise visit will stay in station for hours together as if expeting that she *should* meet him. for surprise visit people will wait 20 mins or so and then escape. here he is shocked that she isnt in anyof the trains.

no no. objecion overruled.

Anonymous said...

Which version of the movie did you watch? Madhavan steps out of the railway station to search for Shalini at his house, then visits her mother before returning to railway station. There is also the Yalpanam scene where he is shown as wandering everywhere to search for her. You sound like nothing less than a narcissist.

Hawkeye said...


i think you are reacting with lot of 'feelings' because you have got it completely wrong.

i remember all scenes where jayasudha appears. jayasudha is a terrific 'figure'. madhavan goes to visit her only after he spends excessive time in railway station and after a few flshbacks.

Anonymous said...

yalpanam scenea. is the anonymous confusing with kannathil mutthamittal.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

i think that anon guy is talking about 'evano oruvan vaasikkiran' song which happens in the flashback..

Hawkeye, On second thoughts, I think Maddy doesn't pick up Shalini from the station everyday.. In an earlier scene, Maddy had to wait for her to return from work to open the door... Another scene, Shalini comes home early and is seen talking to Maddy's friend (anju or someone) while Maddy comes back from work.. So they both work on different schedules completely...

Maddy left work early that day to convey the good news and surprise shalini that they got the naidu-gaaru project.. Shalini is taking her regular route by train and comes out of the station to walk home when she sees swarnamalya (not sure if that was shown as if Swarna waiting there intentionally or not)..When swarna tells Shalini that it was Maddy who was responsible for this, Shalini wants to see Maddy badly and apologize to him and crosses the road when she meets with the accident.. As for Maddy being at the station, he knows that she takes the train everyday and waits for her.. After a few trains he checks with the hospital staff to see if she had left.. and then starts checking with shalini's friends and then at her mom's place etc..

Hawkeye said...


you make certain valid points. really these were all discussed in the arguments we had at that time. so i am painfully aware of the weak points associated with my criticism.

the point of the post was about the trivial details roommates spend time arguing upon. the intention was not to re-open the debate. i was just messing around with the other anon.

p.s; though i still think the cozee flaw is not as bad as this one. its hard to believe someone would go to suburban railway station without both arties having an underatdning on time/place of meeting - just to share some news. trying to meet some1 in nungambakkam railway station randomly is not a sensible thing at all.

Anonymous said...

Got your point on the purpose of the post.. You are making me watch the movie again with ur post to verify a few things..

Btw, Early in the movie, Maddy is confronted by a traffic cop and is diverted due to an accident.. I guess you have to assume that it was the same accident that Shalini got involved with....So Maddy checked the house first (not shown in the movie) , then comes to the station hangs around for sometime there... I think the whole premise of that scene was both being desperate to see the other person as soon as possible.. May be the reference prior to the Snehidhane song ( indha 30 seconds kku 2 hours wait pannuven) was meant for this scene as well.. :)

As for Princeton Med school reference, there is a MD/Phd program in Princeton university along with Robert Wood johnson hopsital... Again our group as discussed this vetti topic as well :)

Hawkeye said...

/* I guess you have to assume that it was the same accident that Shalini got involved with....So Maddy checked the house first (not shown in the movie) , */

how can you assume maddy checked the house first? adhukku evidence'a illaye?

Manojh said...

I was reminded of another vetti but konjam serious controversy among our group once
- Who is the girl that Shakthi thinks Karthik is having an affair with - random girl or Poorni?

Arguments for
It should be random girl because:
- Poorni can never do that to Shakti
- Shakti will never suspect Poorni
- Shakti doesn't see the face of the girl Karthik hugs in an earlier scene

It should be Poorni because:
- Shakthi sees the face of the girl Karthik hugs
- Shakthi pretends not-hearing when Poorni calls her out just the scene before the accident.
- When Poorni does meet Shakthi, she asks "enkittendhu odi oliyiria enna"?

Anonymous said...

It certainly is nelson manickam road subway superimposed with Cozee junction pedestrian crossing..

There's no evidence in the movie that Maddy checked the house first but if he's spending 2.5 hrs at the station it probably is understood that he already knows she's not in the house.. Its shown later in the movie that he goes to the house again to see if she's there.. All I'm saying is its probably nitpicking a small thing and terming it as big flaw..

I said...

"Masters in Ophthalmology at Princeton University." That just can't be. Also did anyone else think "Yay..9 kodi" was a little over the top for a start-up company based in Madras?

SathyaRam said...


While what you say is possibly right, you can also look at it in other perspective

a. Shalini used to wait in the stairs when there was good relationship with Madhavan but with the dispute they are having she is no longer wanting to wait
b. Madhavan now thinks all problems in the world solved (money,sister marriage) and so just assumes that he can give a surprise by waiting in the place they used to wait earlier

So there is nothing wrong in Madhavan waiting with happiness all over his face and Shalini with sober face trying to get out of station on her own. You have to also understand that the communication between them was poor at that time.
So you can interpret it like that also.

Anonymous said...

Manojh, thats a valid argument as well...

Taking the Random girl case cos:
The scenes leading up to the accident i.e, september maadham song where shakthi is by herself
and the argument the night before between karthik and shakthi makes you believe
that she's lost in some thoughts and hence doesnt really hear anyone calling her.. Again its not
shown as if she's trying to run or hide from someone... Mani doesn't show anywhere else that
Shakthi is doubting Poorni or ignoring her.. Also, if Shakthi did see Poorni and Karthik hugging
each other, how come she missed out Raghuram who was also in the frame??

The Raj said...

Alaipayudhe as a film had bigger problems besides mini-bloopers like these. Even for vetti arguments you could choose better films to nitpick on trivialities, like say an Iruvar or Nayagan.

Rosh said...

:-) Amazing. The pointlessness of all this is absolutely mind boggling!!

Sreekrishnan said...

Oh Alaaipayuthey had a lot of problems. As people pointed out Princeton Medical and Valakaappu. But Point 2 was defeated when my mom pointed out that it is acceptable to do it 2nd time at some places primarily because the in-laws feels so. Sometimes the parents sometimes the in-laws.

Ill come to this in a bit, But the other scene was when she confesses her marriage. Was totally not required. You have 100 ways to steer clear of it as the original intention of dressing her up was "akka vandhadha kedukkadhey". So she could easily talked about her need to complete her medical and will think about it later. It feels like you actually don't have a point - they don't happen but they made it happen. And Mom finding out Thaali seems too much as well coz later, she does not bother wearing it.

If you argue that - thats how a person quickly thinks (which my roommate argued) i would use the same logic here.

Madhavan and Shalini were not in good terms then. Madhavan is happy and wants to share some great news with her - and decides to meet her directly. It is never assumed he would pick her up - though he knows she uses the train. So he goes there around the same time she is out and attempts to meet her there hoping to convey the news and say take her out or something. Infact, Madhavan never picked her up earlier. Established when she sees Madhavan with Swarnamalya when a train passes by (She could have waited for the train to pass by to see who the other lady was - if she was suspecting - which any one would do - different topic).

Shalini - not expecting this to be a better day - as usual walks out to meet her sister this time .. probably in the same side Madhavan met her once. Accident.

I think that part seems a lot justified.

But your point was a pointless argument - and i get that :P

PS: as much as you'd like to say Manirathnam . he is Mani Ratnam

Hawkeye said...

saw the first 20 minutes the second dialog in the movie is shakthi's friend meeting madhavan at 5:30PM on the stairs of railway station and asking him "enna shakthi kaaga wait panriya?". Then madhavan waits until nightfall, calls up hospital to inquire why she is late and they reply "avanga 5 manikke kilambittangale innum varaliya"

he doesnt go home, hasn't gone home checked and come (no evidence for that) and the familiar way in which her frnd asks him means he picks her up everyday otherwise he wudnt wait for such a long time and be surprised that she hasnt shown up.

Hawkeye said...

and if you see the movie saathiya(story/screenplay mani rathnam)

the same scene has the girl asking vivek oberoi - as soon as he enters the station - "kyon suhani ka intezar" to which vivek replies "haan hamesha ki tarah" (like always).

all this theory about the visit to train station being a one-off thing to convey happy news is BS

I am a ComplexNumber said...

Hilarious nostalgic post...sooper

Random: Xinu, that name has been stigmatized / screwed up by Manmadhan movie...
You dont miss those days...I think you digitized it on this blog :)

I am a ComplexNumber said...

Love is blind...It is not is magical...:)

It is a love story...So Manirathnam intended this mistake to happen...:)

So i dont know what the argument is...

Just to prove this point, Madhavan partnered with Gautam in Minnale...

I dont know what more you need to be convinced...:)

Sreekrishnan said...

Ok, before i make you go mad about my comments one last time. :)

That comment from Shakthi's friend need not establish the reasoning behind waiting. Just a Guess. And of course, Madhavan never knew a way by which she would return he waits - why? He sight adichified her there and knows her route from then.

Remember a scene where Shalini comes back from work when Madhavan is working and mentions to him that her father is ill.

So the friends question is easily a guess as well as much as it can establish the process. Shalini was not always picked up by Madhavan.

Hindi part - messes that dialogue !

And Maniratnam famously allows you to guess why and what like many directors who allow you to guess with no right answer to that.

Why did he do that? is always the question of turning points in a mani film. Think about it :)