Saturday, September 8, 2012
On surface level, Mugamoodi (Mask), from the acclaimed director Myskkin, sure poses as a bland name for a superhero movie.
Anand (a) Lee (Jiiva) the man, who would adorn the coveted mask in the movie, is a loafer to his father’s eyes & the world which consists of his eye candy girl. But according to him, he is a dreamer who wants to make it big in the world by doing something that would require his complete soul to be involved & not just 9~5 of his time. Ironically his only defense against the society is his love for Kung Fu. When his Master, who he reveres, abstains him from showcasing his talents, all he could do is wear a scarf around his face and break the knuckles of his unworthy opponents. These righteous acts lead him to Gaurav (Nasser) a police officer, one among the many perplex characters in the film. On his trial for safecrackers, Gaurav fills the screen with seriousness and it does feels right when people fear him. Yet, the veteran, who is addressed as a commissioner at times, still has to answers a bunch of younger officers who seem to have more authority than him. The antagonist who is the head of safecracker’s team has an odd characterization as well. He breaks into houses with allegedly hi-tech gadgetry, wearing a mask, only to unmask it in front of his victims, as though it is his real face that they should fear. But the strangest of them all is the Kung Fu master Chandru (Selvaah). He does fit well for a man with an untold past, but whenever he is asked to take the mantle of a Kung Fu master, it feels as though that is his fake identity – one that keeps him functioning in this world.
From these characters and the other unlikely ones (especially Anand’s grandfather scientist), one could sense a pattern of sorts emerge from the way they behave. It is as though when Myskkin wanted to make a super-hero flick, his dystopian characters (the ones that we associate him with in his earlier ventures) decided to wear a mask and fill in for the requisite roles of a super-hero flick. This could well be the real purpose of naming the movie as ‘Mugamoodi’, the mask that Myskkin’s world wears to enter the super-hero world; the point being so extensively explained in the song 'vaayamoodi summa iruda'. As Anand's friends start to sing the song which would advise about his dazed state of mind after love at first sight, Myskkin just lets his hero jump into Swiss alps, ripping away from his roots and make it into a mere romantic number. Unfortunately, though he stands in a picturisque location, his heart still thinks and talks in a way only people in his world do.
For a super-hero movie to stay in our mind, it needs that extra special writing, which Myskkin somehow managed in the first half by borrowing elements from his Hollywood counterparts. Albeit being able to accustom to the 'what if Myskkin's brand of characters were set in a super-hero plot', as the movie moved-on from the build-up phase and stepped into serious 'super-hero' action, I couldn’t stand the travesty. From being an inspired effort, the film became a spoof of the American heroes; especially at the fag-end of the tale where we are confused whether to laugh or shout with anger over the happenings on the screen. Looking back, the warning which Anand’s friends gave him during the 'vaayamoodi summa iruda' song, could actually be for Myskkin, who intentionally deviated from his roots, then on, into a field he couldn’t penetrate.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Director: Trivikram Srinivas
In every mass hero film’s opening shot, as the hero poses in his immaculate signature style, the camera zooms in to capture the gushing zeal of a no-nonsense hero accompanied by an earth shattering buildup of tempo; all for the thundering response it would get theatres all over. Eons have passed and yet we aren’t sure whether the response is for the signature pose or the mere appearance of the mass hero or the wonderful build-up to the fitting coda. But, when Allu Arjun (the mass-hero of Julayi) comes into the frame as suddenly as a dog crossing the street, we are left with none of the three factors to cheer for the mass-hero. However, the past master that he is, Trivikram (director) compensates for that by conjuring an enticing bank robbery as the next scene to show the acumen of our beloved hero.
Julayi, its mass commercial formula notwithstanding, is the story about the clash of intellects. While the protagonist is an impatient youth, who can't wait to climb up the ladder of riches, the antagonist is a self-conceited criminal. While the former tends to bend any rules to achieve his dream, the latter exudes passion for his art of robbery. What binds them together though, is their willpower and unorthodox and yet street smart brain.
With such an alluring concept, Trivikram starts off as a crazy entertainer with some wonderful witty lines thrown in - dialogues have always been Trivikram's strong hold. Unfortunately, as the game progresses, the dialogues become its own shackle in the incoherent script. Where there should be riveting action & pertinent lines, there is exorbitant action & brimming lines. Not just there; from the songs & their dance sequences to the overzealous comic relief portions till the exaggerated de-glamorization of Ileana (the love interest alias dream girl), every other ingredient thinks itself as the talking point of the film and eventually irritate us.
The problem with Julayi, is not the lack of idea, it is the over-abundance of it without proper packaging – a pre-requisite for these kinds of movies. It is easy to say Julayi isn’t a good movie, but with enthralling set-pieces springing up now & then it becomes really hard to lose hope on the movie; albeit these highpoints aren't promising enough to say the movie is fairly engaging. Eventually, Julayi true to its name turns out to be an aimless wanderer, meandering over a lot of wonderful things for the sake of being a masala caper, but ends up being a poorly mixed cocktail.
This review was written for Wogma.
This review was written for Wogma.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Director: Narayan Nagendra Rao
In the very beginning of the movie, an aspiring filmmaker gets money from a big-shot under one condition that he makes his aide (an old hefty guy) the hero of the film. Rejecting the offer, the protagonist comes to a coffee shop from where the story kicks off. At the end of the 2 hours long movie, I felt, with great potential to be the decade’s best unintentional comedy, had the film-maker went on to make the film with that aide, the director of Maali Pozhuthin Mayakathile would have spared us from the insipid tale of romance. For a film that is set in CCD where one would at least expect a cappuccino, the director takes a bean that is neither roasted nor dried out, brews it with rain water that floods the screen and serves with a teaspoon of salt.
Sometimes we make few decisions based on certain information. Many a times, they backfire; one such being my decision to watch Maalai Pozhudin Mayakathiley. I could go on blotting this page with negativity about the movie but I didn’t choose this film to do precisely that. There were concrete reasons that drew me to the silver screen. The symphony of the scintillating tracks by Achu & textbook beauty shoots of Gopi that looked glamorous in the teasers did appease the peeved mind. Though they occupy 1/4th of the time space, song sequences alone can never make a poorly made film tolerable.
Maalai Pozhudin Mayakathiley is another example that unique concept alone can never carry a film to the podium; in this case not even to the cafeteria of the stadium.
This review was written for Wogma
This review was written for Wogma
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Director: Chakri Toleti
When you have a successful franchise in your hand that had survived three decades of viewership, any maker would want to expand the frontiers. While his counterpart in the Don series moved forward with the story, the Ultimate Star of tamil films decided to tread on a different path, that of going back in time to tell the genesis story of David Billa (the tamil version of Don). While an origin story usually stresses on the formative days of the titular character, with Billa, the urge to see the history of the much revered Don surmounts thanks to the insufficient material available on the reclusive gangster.
But five minutes into the movie, with the best dialogue of the trailer wasted terribly, I suspected dreadful times await me. As it happened, after 2 long hours, Billa-2 stood as a testament that any film, no matter how good a star you have in it, how tech-savvy & creative technicians you involve in it, will only be as good as the creative vision of the director at the helm of affairs.
The problem I had with Billa-2 is not that it couldn’t justify the hunger for violence of the protagonist; we have after all welcomed many a maniacs who just want the world to burn. I didn’t even mind the fact that the film was monotonously only about the escalation of a rampant man. Hell, I could even tolerate a plump hero whip and win over his masculine enemies in a jiffy. But the issue really was about the convincing factor deployed in it. You really can’t make an action movie with the action sequences being its weakest link. From the opening sequence fight, till the much talked about helicopter fight scene, nowhere was the violent rage that seeps out of David Billa’s face could fill the screen space. As a result we are only able to see computer generated blood bursting out of the cadaver even before the knife touches it.
On the hindsight, with wonderful punch lines and some well-intended scenes that ebb out of the crevice, like a much needed crest after a long trough, Billa-2 did have it moments now and then, making me wonder why the writers couldn’t be more diligent in the work. Had the creators understood that taking the audience to the coda is as important as the coda itself, Billa-2 sure would have been an adrenaline pumping movie. Unfortunately at its present form, Billa-2 is nothing more than the 2 hours stretched version of its 2 minutes trailer with 1 hour 48 minutes of boredom. If at all the film answers something, it tells an origin story where a plump Ajith walks all the way to become the trim & fit Billa in the 2007 film.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
When SS Rajamouli announced that he is going to make a revenge saga of a housefly and that too not on the lines of Bug’s life, I was appalled to say the least. Now how can a tiny insect attempt to kill a man? Even if he had chosen the blood sucking mosquito as his protagonist there could be some plausibility to the idea. But this is from the director who convinced everyone south of vindhyas of a warrior who could fight and win over 100 soldiers at a time. SS Rajamouli the director with the Midas touch sure must have known what he was doing. The end result is a buzzy little creature called Eega (House-fly) that could give bumblebee a run for its honey at being audaciously capable of doing the impossible.
In its screen time of 2 ¼ hours, Eega not just defies almost all laws of nature, but also breaks tons of clichés associated with a masala film while proudly being one. For one, though the title role of Eega is the star of the film, the film relies primarily on its antagonist’s angst against the petite fly, portrayed menacingly by Sudeep (known to the hindi audience through Phoonk). Notwithstanding the fact that his role is modeled on the character Raghuveer (from Magadheera – another Rajamouli film) Sudeep is able to infuse a different persona which effectively evokes sympathy for computer generated Fly. While Sudeep gets to be a livewire, Samantha unlike the heroines in a superhero/masala film gets to be more than the trusted aide to the efficacious fly. This is a far cry from the heroines of the director’s previous films, who were deployed mainly to paint the screen with voyeurism. (Rajamouli is the man behind the original version of now successful Rowdy Rathore).
For a movie that revolves around three principle characters, SS Rajamouli should be applauded for intelligently intertwining their actions which tests one another’s strengths and weaknesses, to move the plot forward. But for a movie that is targeting all ages, it is unabashedly gory, a point that parents of toddlers should think over before taking them to the silver screen. Not only that, the glorified-immature romance that play out in the first few minutes of the film lurks us back to the films in 80s, where men were loafers pursuing the job of wooing the heroine.
These slight glitches apart, SS Rajamouli can be proud of creating a fantasy film without compromising on the indian sensibilities, that is going to make film lovers throughout the world turn their attention towards India and indian cinema. In line with the famous tamil saying, SS Rajamouli & his Eega have certainly proved that ‘Vallavanukku pullum ayudham’ (even a grass is a weapon for the victor).
Thursday, June 7, 2012
In the film world or in any writing industry, anything that needs to be conveyed starts off with an idea. This idea creates a spark which makes it to grow into a full-fledged story. When this story captures the imagination of the people involved, the plot and the characters that are driving them are subsequently developed and enhanced to magnify the impact that the one liner had on the creator. Coming out after watching Vazaku En:18/9, I realized how miserably the movie has failed to rise above the synopsis that it started out with.
With a plot line similar to that of the movie ‘Ram’, VE18/9 opens up as a crime thriller with a boy being the prime accused. As he gets prodded by the interrogating officer about his life, the boy begins to recount his trials and tribulations up till the day he is brought for interrogation. Like any scared boy would tremble before a police officer and plead for innocence, the protagonist keeps reminding the audience through the voice over about the hardship & injustice he had to face at various walk of his life. When something is reiterated countless time, it is human tendency to question the very nature of its existence. This intention grows manifold when the plot is that of a crime thriller and the story is being told to a police officer. But with a gem of a character at display, when Balaji Shakthivel chooses to paint layer after layer of purity, the treatment becomes enduring and uncalled for to say the least. Sure there could be reasons for emphasizing the innocence of the boy so as to mentally prepare the audience for the events that would happen at the end. But the sole purpose of a crime thriller is lost when you are moving away from the genre and start campaigning for the boy from the very first frame. Apart from these layers that keep painting the protagonist as whiter than white amongst the black background he dwells in, the body held camera used in the close up scenes and the background score, that could easily topple the bgms of tamil serial as the most drab bgm in recent time, successfully attenuate the desired effect that was intended.
VE18/9 isn’t just about one story. As I got relieved when the boy was dismissed after the hearing, a girl comes to the officer offering another story about the same case. It is the story of a girl whose adolescent whims and aspirations gets her trapped under the charm of a guileful boy. Unlike in the previous story, the girl doesn’t narrate the happenings to a great extent. When the boy offers her to come over for a chat in coffee shop, Balaji Shakthivel doesn’t use voice over to convey the girl’s thoughts; he doesn’t use her facial expressions as well. Instead he lets the girl rub her finger over the handle bar of her cycle to tell her hesitation and when she presses the handle one last time with pressure and removes her hand, we understand she has decided to give him a try. Such deftness throughout a film, displayed for a fleeting minute by Balaji here, has what made great filmmakers to be what they are now. Though Balaji doesn’t out do his best cinematic scene there on in the girl’s story, the subtlety and control he shows with the way the girl handles the betrayal, how she approaches her mother and the much needed positivity she brings to the screen is something to be proud of. With such understanding & skill in playwriting it puzzles me why Balaji resorts to imbecile level of writing in most of the 1st half and with the way he portrayed the rich boy’s family.
Apart from all the negativities which kept deriding the film, when I came out after watching VE18/9 the one thing that haunted me was the content in itself. Like the powerful look of the poor girl which made the attendant let her stay on to be with her lover even after other inmates were forced to leave, a strong intent is a resilient force which will easily outwit all the mockers and reach for the softest spot in the heart.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
As the powerful role of Zoya (Ishaqzaade) is becoming the talk of the town, a brief analogy between Zoya & Muthazhagu (Paruthiveeran).
Ishaqzaade is probably the most women centric film to have come out from the commercial stable. Similar to how people associate good cinematography with flashy - oscillating shots that stands outside of the film rather than be integrated to it, women centric roles are recognized only when the protagonist bring about violence is screen. Muthazhagu (in Paruthiveeran) was recognized as a great women centric role not because that the character stood up to Paruthi in the aftermath of the interval block, but for the climactic battle & the vehement tenaciousness it portrayed to signify the love for Paruthi in the confrontation scene between Muthazhagu & her parents. Yet here is a film (and a role) which doesn’t go over the top to emphasize the stubbornness of Zoya.
Baring the opening block that acts merely as a gimmick, Zoya like any women of today, faces threats from all & sundry in the form of subjugation & constant reminder that she is after all a woman. A Muthazhagu would have snarled at the person who had tried to boss her. But Zoya lets the opponent to still be at large while she stands firms in her point aided by the air of confidence that oozes out of her. It isn’t Zoya’s weakness that she is better accessible than Muthazhagu who had confined her life only to Paruthiveeran. Because, while Muthuzhagu is an audience’s delight, modeled to cuts short people with her quirkiness & nails her point across the board, Zoya is modeled to be a challenging debater who lets you speak as well. True to that point, Zoya at every point in her life remains unfazed by all the negativity surrounding her. That doesn’t mean she is all tightened within. She is a girl, when insulted by a guy, gets into a jeep & guns him down using a pistol that she bought by selling her jewels. Her grip over the world is so intoxicating that we would have forgotten that this movie is primarily a love story, if not for the wonderful preluding sequence for the enchanting song - ‘Paresham’. Akin to the catch phrase of the song, Zoya is troubled by the unheralded entry of a guy into a territory, she never realized existed. Though perturbed & angered by the forceful events, she remains composed & that is where Parineeta Chopra who lives the life of Zoya scores the most, displaying those mixed emotions with élan.
Even though Priyamani & her Muthazhagu will always be appreciated for the woman power they brought on screen, they couldn’t overshadow a male dominated script which won the hero, star status instantaneously. But with Ishaqzaade, a film centered on & around the life of Zoya, commercial cinema finally has got a strong women centric film that doesn’t ask for its leading leady to be differently abled to showcase her deftness.