Category Archives: Movies

the clarity of passion

the clarity of passion

“What I’m trying to say is, I understand a feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can actually ache in places that you didn’t know you had inside you. And it doesn’t matter how many new haircuts you get or gyms you join or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends. You still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood. And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy? And sometimes you can even convince yourself that (s)he’ll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long ‘all that’ may be, you’ll go somewhere new, and you’ll meet people who’ll make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back; and all those fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted – that would eventually begin to fade.”

[Adapted from the film, "The Holiday". Monologue by Kate Winslet]

Here is the video:

Unnai Pol Oruvan – not exactly

Having read quite a few reviews and after watching the movie twice, I feel the movie is a very good one, but a little below perfection. I am mentioning the points which I noticed in this movie, and not the ones I noticed in the original movie, ‘A Wednesday’.

PROS and CONS:

DIRECTION: Chakri Toleti

  • The movie is well directed, right from the starting scenes where each character is introduced one after the other. The scenes provide a very good character sketch of every person.
  • There are quite a few mistakes in direction. The most important one which I noticed was that the clocks in the WAR room wall were not working. For every scene, they were just reset to an appropriate time. The second hand of the clocks were not moving. This probably shows that there had been retakes, and the clocks therefore were kept at a constant time.
  • When Inspector Arif arrives at Commissioner’s office, two constables wish him “Good Morning”. Sometime later, the reporter says that she received the call from the unknown person (Kamal Haasan) at 12 noon. Arif comes only after this incident happens. Which means, the constables must have wished him”Good Afternoon”.
  • To diffuse the bomb, Kamal Gives the instructions in the following order: Join the blue and red wires and then cut the green wire. But while Mohan Lal conveys the same instruction to the Bomb Squad personnel, he tells it in the reverse order. But the personnel acts according to the original order. While dealing with bombs, the order might probably matter.
  • As far as I know, there is no train that goes from Chennai to Madurai corresponding to the time mentioned in the movie. Probably it was some special train.
  • The TV’s in the WAR room wall show the same video over and over again.
  • The reporter is shown to be a smoker. She is shown holding the cigarette, lighting it, and taking it away from the mouth, in three different scenes. She is never shown ‘really’ smoking. A good one.
  • Instead of bringing in the CM as is the case in the original, here, the CM’s voice has been used, which has turned out to be a really good idea. And also showing the Chief Secretary moving out of the CM’s house is a very good thought, because, the shot has been taken at CM’s residence in Chennai (or probably a replica of the residence,but still, a good idea).
  • Portraying the Chief Secretary as a timid person but trying to hide her fear is really good.
  • It is a bold move to make a movie in Tamil without any songs that break the continuity of the narration.
  • I feel the direction was a bit better in the original hindi movie, ‘A Wednesday’.

MUSIC:

The background score by Shruti Hassan is a let-down. The music starts and ends abruptly, at random places. Music plays a huge role in movies of this genre. they influence the mindset of the audience. From this perspective, the movie lacked a good background score.

STORY:

  • Not much deviation from the original.
  • The incident which Kamal Haasan narrates as the one which affected him, is a bit too gruesome than the incident narrated in the original movie. I feel it was not required.

DIALOGUES:

  • Kamal Haasan has delivered his dialogues very well. But the highlights are areas where he speaks through his actions, without a word spoken.
  • When Mohan Lal becomes too serious about what he is talking, he shifts to Malayalam, and that is very realistic and natural.
  • The reporter mixes pure tamil with colloquial tamil very often. Sometimes, it sounds too odd.
  • Some dialogues, which were very prominent and unique in the original. failed to impress in the tamil version. Sometimes this has been because of the background score. Two such dialogues that come to my mind are: “that(dropout) was by choice” by the hacker, and “I guessed so” by Mohan Lal, when Kamal Haasan says that there are no bombs placed elsewhere.

Overall, a few questions still linger in my mind:

Did the audience get the feel that Kamal Haasan was a common man? In other words, was Kamal Haasan suited for this role? This question needs an answer because, in Tamil Nadu, where Kamal Haasan is worshipped as a hero, it is really tough to find a place in the heart of the audience as a common man. I’d say, Kamal Haasan did justice to his role, but he was just not suited for it. Nazeeruddin Shah was more appealing as a common man, in the original movie (I have this feeling probably because that is the only movie of Nazeeruddin Shah that I’ve seen).

When a movie of such importance is made, with great actors and a greater story, perfection is expected. The better the quality of the movie is, the more the trivial mistakes matter…

slumdog millionaire – should we celebrate the oscars??

Slumdog Millionaire has won the Oscars. And the country is celebrating. But do we have reasons to celebrate ???

The movie claims to depict passion and love and the courage to succeed in life despite all odds. But for a viewer, the more lasting impression out of the movie will be a disturbingly bad image of India. The movie shows the slums, unjust police, unethical reality show hosts, poverty, cruelty and miserable living conditions. Is that all India is all about?People believe what they see, even though it might be just a movie. What would a tourist, who has never visited India, think of this great country?

There is nothing to feel good about, in this movie... for an Indian

Movies are considered to be a platform to showcase the world about its diversity. And what has been shown in the movie is not the true India. This movie seems to have been aiming only at the awards, and not at people’s hearts. We must not fall for it.

Many Indian movies have scenes that are shot in foreign countries. How many of those Indian movies show the darker side of those countries? It is agreed that not all foreign countries have slums and not all countries suffer from poverty and unemployment in a very large scale. But every place has its darker side. The grass is never greener on the other side. And still we tend to seek the beauty in these foreign countries while we go there for a movie shoot. We probably should try something. Make a movie about the distasteful of the British, probably some huge national problem that their country is facing. And screen the movie in Britain theatres. And then expect it to be well received and sweep their box office. Will that happen?? This really is something to think about.

There is a difference between an Indian narrating the national problems in a movie and a foreigner doing the same. It would have been acceptable had these issues been depicted in a movie made by an Indian. This is because, only a true Indian can experience the spirit of India. Only a true Indian can share the suffering of a fellow citizen. Only a true Indian can live the life of an Indian and be proud of its varied culture. Any sensible Indian will agree that India is not what has been shown in the movie and it definitely is not a correct and complete picture of India.

Slumdog Millionaire claims to have extolled the ‘Spirit of Mumbai’. Has it really?? A British movie, made by a foreign director, with the lead role played by a person who has not visited India and who had had a tough time speaking with an Indian accent… I still am not able to comprehend how these foreigners claim to have experienced the Indian way of life in just a few months.

India has loyal policemen and soldiers who are ever willing to lay down their lives for the nation. India has really good talent and excellent reality shows. India has places with scenic beauty. India is trying hard to alleviate poverty. India has a comparatively good economy considering the fact that the rest of the world is feeling the heat. India has a varied culture and good people. But, will we get an opportunity again to tell the world, “Hey, this is what India is… ” ?…

naan kadavul – the effect on me

After I came out of the theatre, it took some time for me to get back to the real world…or the reel one ?? We are sitting in front of our computers, probably in an air conditioned room, typing swiftly on our keyboards. This virtual world is what we christen ourselves as reality. And we require movies like “Naan Kadavul” to show us what is real, what the world is facing and how humans suffer. And when the movie thrusts so much truth into our eyes in a short span of time, we just are not able to accept it.

Naan Kadavul
Naan Kadavul

Aghoris … Have never heard of them before. The whole sight of them, their voice and demeanor gives me a shudder, even though I am just watching them on a huge screen, in a cinema. Humans who consider themselves God. They decide who goes to hell and who goes to heaven… One should never ask a question whether these are true. We will just end up losing the meaning of truth. And the definition of God. Everyone has God within. We decide….Hmmm…No. I’ll probably stop trying to explain things to my own self. Probably the movie was shot to leave such thoughts lingering in our minds as loose threads.

The poor and handicapped beggars and their mafia leaders… Well, it is just another piece of reality. Next time we give beggars any money, we will be thinking twice about whom the money will be converging to. And it is more shocking than saddening to see money measured by weight. And humans being bought and sold. Has humanity completely disappeared from the face of the earth? The important point to be noted is that they too have love. The beggars live like a close-knit family. They show affection.

A mixed feeling is what has been created by the visuals in the movie. We sometimes feel it is better not to know the truth rather than lamenting after knowing it.

Now about the ‘movie’ part of ‘Naan Kadavul’. When most movies that are released nowadays spin the same yarn over and over again, the boldness of director Bala to come up with such an idea and to make a movie out of it must bbe appreciated. No commercial elements at all. There are some humorous dialogues scattered around, which only partially succeed in distracting the viewer and preventing him from receding into a state of shock or disbelief or fear or whatever he might be going through.

But then, the movie seems incomplete. One can feel a discontinuity in the screenplay. Something seems missing. The director has tried to have a story as a backbone. But we are often tempted to ask “Why?”. We dont ask “Why” when Vijay leaps 200 feet. We dont ask “Why” when Dhanush fells a bunch of thugs. We dont ask “Why” when science is defied. But we ask the question here. That probably is because, we can sense the director’s attempts to sprinkle fiction into facts, and not the other way round. The effort nevertheless, must be lauded.

The aghori character was brilliantly portrayed by Arya. I initially could not believe that Arya was capable of such acting. A real hard work from his part. And he seems to have mastered “Shirshasana”.

Pooja was exceptional. Her role was a tough one. She was asked to wear opaque lens. She was really blind when she was acting. And that probably is the reason why the emotions are perfect. She looks small and thin in the movie, which has suited her character. Our heart really goes out to her character.

Overall, the movie has touched so many emotions. It has made us to sit back and think. It has changed our perspective of the world.

We see so much suffering around us. Wild superstitions, poverty, hunger, illiteracy, exploitation…an endless list. Tears ? Probably. What else ?? We just return to our worlds. We know we can try to change these. But are we going to try??

chaos in dasavathaaram

Maybe this is the first time a movie is based on a famous theory. And since I anticipated this even before watching the movie, it was even more interesting as each scene convinced me that the functioning of the whole world is based on chaos theory. Clearly, the movie Dasavathaaram has made people turn pages in various books and study chaos. I did that too.

a timepass example:
Think of this.
Someone sometime in the distance past planted a sapling. The sapling grows and becomes a huge tree after many years. There is a dry twig in the tree. It falls down. A few miles apart, there is a bird. It wants to build a nest. The bird picks up the twig and takes it to a suitable place and builds a nest. The bird then lays eggs. There is a naughty boy who tries to get those eggs. He throws a stone. The stone misses and hits a small water pipe in a nearby house. The house owner sees the water leak and spends some time mending it. As a result, he starts late to office. He misses the last bus which he generally takes. And then he comes to know that the bus he missed met with an accident……. I’ll stop here.

my attempt on explaining chaos:
What exactly is chaos?
The definition goes thus: “Chaos theory attempts to explain the fact that complex and unpredictable results can and will occur in systems that are sensitive to their initial conditions”

This definition can be decrypted by telling that every event occurring around us has got some significance. What significance? No one would know until the event becomes noticeable and significant by itself. Every single event that happens in this world has a significance.

Suppose a series of events result in a final state. If even one of the events does not happen, there MIGHT have been a completely different final state. The word, “might” is important because we just cannot predict what would happen. Consider the example above. Even if one of the events had not occurred, it would have cost that person his life.

Nature is the best example for chaos theory. Everything that happens in nature might be seemingly unrelated, but they do have some relation. And nature is unpredictable. How many would have believed that the spray bottles ( deodorants, etc. ) that were being manufactured a few years before would actually contribute to the hole in ozone layer ???

The most important point in chaos theory is that the events occurring are NOT random. They just dont happen without any cause or reason. Everything follows a pattern. It is just that no one can know what the pattern is. You cannot predict the future.

dasavathaaram:

How can chaos theory be related to the events in dasavathaaram ? .

Let us start from the longest possible chain of events: Had there not been the cholas, there would not have been that temple in that area. The place would not have been a heritage place, as Vincent pointed out while arguing against the sand mafia. Vincent “might” not have come to the place at all. Govind and Andal might not have had the chance to escape from them. They would not have stolen the lorry. The collision with the van would not have happened. The Muslim lady would not have been injured. They might not have gone to the hospital. And then they might not have got the freezer box…. Now you can understand the chain which continues further. This is just a single example among many.

To clearly show that there is a connection between the 12th century and the 21st century, the huge stone idol that was thrown into the waters in the past, washes ashore. The tsunami which killed many people also helped in saving millions from the mass destruction due to the bio weapon which would have caused devastation on a far greater scale. And the tsunami is due to the movements of the tectonic plates that were formed millions of years ago.

Moreover, the stone idol is rempved from the temple in the 12th century….The idol of perumal lands on a mound of sand at the same place in the 21st century ( exactly before intermission ) and both the stone idol of 12th century and the idol of 21st century are close by at the end of the movie. Now, is this coincidence ???

No one who watches the movie would fail to notice the butterfly. Of what significance is a butterfly to this kamal movie ??? It is just that the movie tries to explain “the butterfly effect”. Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist studied various patterns in weather. Using a few mathematical equations, he saw a particular sequence in the weather pattern and forecast. Another day, he tried to analyse the weather using the same set of equation but a slightly ( very very slightly ) different value. Though he did not expect the same pattern, he expected a somewhat similar pattern. But what he found was a completely different pattern. He concluded that the weather is unpredictable. These observations were the foundations for chaos theory. Lorenz published a paper in which he says that, “the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in China could, in fact, actually effect weather patterns in New York City, thousands of miles away”. Thus it came to be called as “the butterfly effect”. And hence you see a butterfly in the movie. We see the butterfly in the beginning of the movie and at the end, which just suggests that all the patterns however unpredictable they were, really connected themselves from the beginning of the story to the end.

The story begins with the stone idol and ends with the same. Kamal and Asin get separated at the beginning and they join together at the end. They hold hands on the same idol.

The movie has no confusion in it. Everything is simple. The storytelling could not have been any simpler. And the story keeps the audience guessing the next event, the next scene, the climax and more. This itself is a testimony that the makers of Dasavathaaram have succeeded in explaining the theory of chaos.

Also read my article on dasavathaaram demystified

dasavathaaram demystified

I have never seen Sathyam crowded at 8 in the morning, eager to watch a movie. Moreover, the whole crowd had tickets that were booked in advance, yet they come more than one hour before the screening. I have never seen the whole crowd wait and watch the movie till the last frame ends. All this and more in Dasavathaaram.

the genius:

Take ten different prime numbers. I claim that the ten roles of kamal in the movie are like these ten prime numbers. Each role of kamal is unique in its own way, much similar to the ten primes. Similar to the primes having one common factor (1), the ten roles have one common feature, the genius of kamal.

chaos theory:

The movie is based on a very famous theory called “chaos theory”. The simplest description would be “the butterfly effect”, which states that the fluttering wings of a butterfly in China can cause great changes in weather conditions in New York, which is thousands of miles away. And you can also see a butterfly in the movie when kamal explains the chaos theory in a scene. Basically, an event might seem trivial, but it might cause great effects elsewhere. Life can never be absolutely systematic, life cannot be described by a pattern. But life is not random either. Occurrence of every event has a reason, with nearly impossible predictability.

The clash between saivites and vaishnavites in the 12th century and the sunken statue need not be the direct cause for the tsunami in 21st century. But, that incident might have triggered a series of effects which ultimately led to the tsunami. Dasavathaaram tries to explain the subtle concept of chaos theory using ten delicate strands of sub-stories perfectly handled and woven together to form a perfect masterpiece. We can also notice that Andal in 21st century trips over the same stone on which Kodhai bangs her head in the 12th century. The thaali that Kodhai flings at Kulothunga Chozhan also falls on this stone statue.

the connection:

The important feature in the movie is that every part of the movie is linked with each other. It was Kulothunga Chozhan in 12th century and it was the sand mafia in the 21st century. And the place is the same.

In the 12th century, Rangaraja Nambi is devoted to God but Kodhai pleads to kamal telling that it is not wrong to chant a different mantra, for the benefit of oneself and one’s family. In the 21st century, it is the opposite. Andal is devoted to God but Govindraj is not.

In the 12th century, Rangaraja Nambi tries to save the idol from being removed. He also is tied to the idol. In the 21st century, Andal tries to save the idol from being taken away or mishandled.

perfection:

If a film can be called “perfect” in all aspects, the pick would be Dasavathaaram. The perfectionist in Kamal is evident in every scene. One very intricate detail, the microphone held by Avatar Singh while performing, proves this fact. The birds flying away just before tsunami also must be noted.

technology:

The technology in Indian cinema might be similar to that of Hollywood cinema ten years before, but Dasavathaaram has proved this notion wrong. The whole first half and most of the second half had some great shots and camera work. Especially the fight scenes, the car chase, with sparks from the flat tyres and so on.

dialogues:

Dialogues in the movie are powerful at places where they ought to be powerful and humorous where they ought to be so. One dialogue really caught my attention: “You are the south side of the north side facing horse…”. Dialogues like “Remember Hiroshima … Remember Pearl Harbor” really sends a message ringing in our minds. Wordplay is used in many places, as evident in “Terrific Scientist or Scientific Terrorist…”.

religions:

We find that in the movie, kamal appears as a Hindu, Muslim, Christian and a Sikh. Probably to spread the message that the purpose of all religions is to show the people the path to divinity, which is single. One very touching scene is where Krishnaveni paati considers Vincent as her own son who died years before, and gives vent to all her feelings. Caste or color does not distinguish a person. It is one’s character that does.

graphics:

More efforts could have been made towards the graphics part, which stood as an odd man out amidst some excellent shots and technology. Especially, the piercing of hooks on Nambi seemed too artificial. Same is the case with certain parts in the tsunami scene. The graphics is too good when compared to the graphics in other tamil movies, but for Dasavathaaram, they were not as expected. And all the science that I have studied never taught me that one can see virus through binoculars.

For those who come to watch this movie expecting commercial elements and not the story, this might look like an unsolved puzzle. The key to understanding this movie and its intricate details, one must understand oneself. Those who cannot understand the movie must not claim that the movie is a stupid one. Those who say that the movie has no story must realize that no other movie made till date has packed so much story and details in three hours. A lot of research and thinking has gone into the movie, apart from the devoted effort for two years. This is a movie to be remembered.

Also read my article on chaos in dasavathaaram

V for vendetta

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

( dialogue from a famous movie, V for Vendetta. It is grammatically correct and makes sense too)