Midnight Dogs

It is pretty simple. Gautham shouldn’t be expecting any one to like the movie. Sometimes the results that we usually define will not suite certain situations and this is one such movie. When you say you liked the movie, you can only be talking about the attempt and the convincing aspect of the filmmaking rather than the film itself. Nadunisi Naaygal !

Call me spoilt watching every other movie on Netflix, but Gautham’s attempt is no brainer. Split personality is predictable, certain assumptions of the character seemed bookish and infact calling it a thriller seemed too ambitious. But make no mistakes; you have to give it to him only for the format of filmmaking if not for anything else.

Not once you miss the background score – nor does it feel like a documentary. The film’s format has been well chosen and the sound engineering department shines. Note the time when you have a top angle of a compound wall with the police officer trying to scout the house. It starts raining! Well done there!  So is the Cinematography. Manoj’s use of natural ‘looking’ lighting needs no mention. We are never drawn out of the scene by either poor cinematography or its excellence. It fits.

Gautham once again doesn’t mind using a fair amount of English in his dialogues and obviously justified by the urban locality in which the movie happens. Sometimes bookish and predictable but otherwise crisp, it is usual Gautham.  Actors in every role, play it smooth. Sameera, Veera, Swapna Abraham among the few are quite impressive. I just don’t want that Vettaiyadu Vilayadu doctor anymore.  [Remember: I have never seen such a gory murder in my life. That guy]

What really doesn’t work in the technical aspects of the film is its Story. It is not the case of being bad – its just not good enough. Take for instance the relationship of Veera and Sukanya [Sameera] You got to give a little bit of story around his liking from school before he ends up with her. Too much time is taken to bring some basics to Veera and his childhood but little is done to play out or justify his actions because of that. It just happens.  Example: Why doesn’t Meenakshi complain to the police when she is assaulted? Awkward!  That entire part following that, the start of his weird behavior and the whole idea after that seemed too little too quick.

It felt like sequences were being laid out, plugged in dialogues or scenes out of context elsewhere in the narrative only to reveal it later as a surprise. If you say that’s how it is, I would say it isn’t convincing yet. And hey, we do see a bit of Identity in it.

It takes a lot of guts to break a stereotype by rewriting every rule, but you always get only one chance to do it. You do it well, you win. Else you are appreciated but not remembered. Strangely, Gautham will be remembered for his effort, another feather on his cap – but Nadunisi Naygal wont be.  Some other movie that comes along based on NN’s guts will outshine this.

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Kireedom

The Original Kireedom featuring mohanlal had this classic song that has always given me the lump in the throat moment. The original movie was also a blockbuster that cannot be generally described in words. Not sure if it was the acting, the story’s obvious drama or the feel of the 80s – but remained unbeatable. Ajith’s tamil version didnt make it look bad – but was just good enough.

This song was back to my current playlist because of its polished version.

Kanneer Poovinte – Original

Kanneer Poovinte – New

Lyrics
Kanner poovinte kavilil thalodi..eeenam muzhangum pazham paattil mungi
Maruvaakku kelkkaan kaatthu nilkkathe..poothumbiyende maranju
Ende pullorkkudam pole thengi!! ( Kannerppovinte)

Unnikkidavinnu nalkaan amma nenjil paalazhiyenthi
Aaayiram kaineetti ninnu soorya thaapamay thaathante shokham
Vida chollave nimishangalil jalarekhakhal veenalinju
Kadhanangalil thunayaakuvaan veruthe orungunna mounam
(Kanivekumee venmeghavum mizhineerkkinavaay maranju) – original
Doore pullorkkudam (kenurangi)pole thengi.. ( Kannerppovinte)

Oru kunju paattay vithumbee manju pooncholayentho thiranju
Aareyo thedippidanju kaattumorupaadu naalayalanju
poonthennalil ponnOLamaay oru pazhkkireeTam maRanjnu
Kanivekumee venmeghavum mizhineerkkinavaay maranju
(Kadhanangalil thunayaakuvaan veruthe orungunna mounam) – original
Enthe pullorkkudam pole vingi( Kannerppovinte)

He

Its tough being a celebrity. The changes that name and fame can bring you is overwhelming. Take a case where you are regarded as the to-go person at work and being appreciated every single moment. You know how that messes your head. Imagine what 2 Grammy Awards, 2 Academy awards, 4 National Awards, 1 Golden Globe and 1 Bafta – the perfect 10 – among many others, does to you. Nothing, apparently. He just smiles and says there is another powerful being guiding him.

Make no mistake, its equally tough being his fan. If he brings in quality to his work and lifestyle – he demands the same from his fan. You are morally not allowed to be harsh, arguing or hate anything among others like Appreciate others work, give credit to your team, be humble and such. One often finds themselves being invited to debate/argue or even provide an opinion citing a so called failure of his – a perspective. Ability to resist and keep smiling – in his words “choose love” defines his quality fans. Yes, Quality and we all try. Show me atleast one who hasnt changed because of him – love or hate.

Questioning his capabilities on his music have long been put to rest, comparison with other music directors is out of question, predicting the end of a career seems silly these days. So where does this man go? More hearts.

I was once challenged on the fact if he is a Composer or a Mere Arranger. I said, Whatever – i enjoy his music, makes peace in my heart. As his worldspace ads often quote – “There is so much to hear”. He made me appreciate Ilaiyaraja. Otherwise i wouldnt know to recognize a Bass Slap that accompanies a flute in VaVa Va Kanna Va – Velaikaran before the charanam or the Multiple arrangements in Thendral Vandhu Ennai Thodum. For that Matter, even MS Viswanathan’s music. So much so that I even realized Rahman has a good number of Sahana compositions to his credit – i’m in love with that raaga. Things originated from there -in reverse.

Tell me if it isnt impressive that a musician not only makes you like his music but every other music out there – because there is no good or bad. Its just what you can tune your ears to and what you cannot. He tuned your ears.

I’ve long confessed that had this man not lived during our times – i may have been a different person. Its a gift that every generation gets to see an example rise above the rest and impact our lives in the most simplest form. Like it or not, Hate him or criticize him – he not only changed Indian music and its impact for ever. He changed(s) hearts, lives and thoughts.

A dream for every director, a wonder for every accomplished musician, an enviable asset for every accomplished composer, a thalaivar for every fan, a perfect father for his kids, an amazing husband for his wife and a good kid for his mom – on this day, we pray may he have a strong back to climb the mountain.

Piranthanaal Vazhthukkal, a r rahman !

Kannadasan

I’ve always loved good poetry. I also believed that poetry cannot always become the lyric for a song. This song has been in my mind for sometime and found the time only couple of weeks back to dig deep. What a way to play with words !

(TMS)பார்த்தேன் சிரித்தேன் பக்கத்தில் அழைத்தேன்
அன்று உன்னை தேன் என நான் நினைத்தேன்
அந்த மலை தேன் இதுவென மலைத்தேன் .

(PS)பார்த்தேன் சிரித்தேன் பக்கம் வர துடித்தேன்
அன்று உனை தேன் என நான் நினைத்தேன்
அந்த மலை தேன் இவரென மலைத்தேன் .

(TMS)கொடித்தேன் இனியங்கள் குடித்தேன் – என
ஒரு படி தேன் பார்வையில் குடித்தேன்
துளிர் தேன் சிந்தாமல் களித்தேன்
ஒரு துளிர் தேன் சிந்தாமல் களித்தேன்
கைகளில் அணைத்தேன் அழகினை ரசித்தேன்

(PS)மலர் தென் போல் நானும் மலர்ந்தேன்
உனக்கென வளர்ந்தேன் பருவத்தில் மணந்தேன்
எடுத்தேன் கொடுத்தேன் சுவைத்தேன்
இனி தேன் இல்லாதபடி கதை முடித்தேன்

(TMS) நிலவுக்கு நிலவு சுகம் பெற நினைந்தேன்
உலகத்தை நான் இன்று மறந்தேன்

(PS) உலகத்தை மறந்தேன்
உறக்கத்தை மறந்தேன்
உன்னுடன் நான் ஒன்று கலந்தேன்

Non, je ne regrette rien

Eames: Did they come here to sleep?
Thin Man: No, They come here to be woken up. Dream has become their reality! Who are you to say, otherwise?

Found this song sometime back – and now this is the one I wake up to.

French
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
C’est payé, balayé, oublié
Je me fous du passé

Avec mes souvenirs, j’ai allumé le feu
Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs, je n’ai plus besoin d’eux
Balayées les amours, avec leurs trémolos
Balayées pour toujours, je repars à zéro

Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Car ma vie car mes joies
Aujourd’hui, ça commence avec toi

English
“No, nothing at all
I do not regret anything at all (x2)
Either the good that has been done to me
or the evil
everything is equal to me
no, nothing at all, no…
everything is paid, swept away, forgotten
I don’t care about the past!
With my memories I lit the fire
My pains, my pleasures,
I don’t need them anymore
My love stories are swept away
with their tremolos (the repetition of a single or double tone rapidly)
swept away for ever
I’m starting on new bases
no, nothing at all etc…
Because my life, my happiness, today everything begins with you!”

Va

Oram Po is a classic to me. It elevated the style of drama to a new level. Gayatri Pushkar very clearly stayed away from cliches [yeah, i couldnt help] or escapes the second movie syndrome and brings us this yet another must-have-dvd movie Va Quarter Cutting. At the very least, this is Tamil Nadu’s best Harold and Kumar style movie. Make no mistakes, the idea of 2 people trying to do a silly thing and ending up in problem is all you can think of as similarity but the movie has got its moments. Fantastic Cinematography by Nirav Shah, that you almost wish the colors were real and your brain contains a photoshop program that can automatically change the view of the world, that colorful.

Heard of  a S.Ve. Classic “Vanaja oda katha oru soga katha. Vanaja inga irukka, ava purushan Dubai la irukkan, Avalavuthaan katha”. Thats about it !

What makes the movie click are the characters and its characterization. Before you castigate me for sounding like Raja Sen or this Rajeev Masand, let me tell you – its true. Take for example “Stupid Saro”. This is a person who failed 12th that she is worried she’d never progress in life if she cannot complete her school. Her concern and point of any interest, any time is centered around her necessity to pass 12th or study more. So much so that she enters a disco walks upto a DJ and asks if she had to study or complete 12th to do such cool stuff. Same is the case with Ice Kuchi guy [Better version of Ice Cream]  who sells liquor in the black market. She tries to drum up her confidence after attempting [and saved, obviously] to commit what they call the “Self Suicide”.

That brings me to the dialogues. Intended to sound “Mokka” [for the lack of real equivalent in English] and yet not irritate you. Somewhere Gayatri Pushkar show brilliance and slap it with Shiva’s voice/acting – you get “Deiyva Mokka” but funny. There is a scene where Lekha walks up to Shiva and asks “Ey, Dubai pogarthukku badhila enna kalyanam pannikariya” to which Shiva responds “Ey, Abhasagunama paesadhey”. Sheer brilliance, I say. Wonder what Kumararaja [Dialogues Oram Po and Director Aaranya Kandam] would have come up for this.

Finally the actors: S P Charan, Shiva, Lekha Washington, John Vijay. They all understand Va Quarter Cutting so well that they form the pivot and soul of the movie. I am almost sure that I wouldnt want anybody in those roles but these. So much so that “Super Saro” with Lekha washington becomes my Desktop Wallpaper.

Go watch VA. Its just how 3 people roam around and spend time in the city doing nothing. Just like the days you used to with your friends.

PS: Thediye Thediya was a lift from Lenka’s The Show – [@Lavsmohan]. But the picturization is something I’ve never seen. Beautiful !

PS2: Title Credits are something to watch out. Very well done.

PS3: I think SI Singari is HOT !

Endhiran

It’s easy to make a Sci Fi these days. It is not a big deal that we are equipped enough to use good graphics. Almost everyone does it. But to plug in the Rajnikanth phenomenon is tough. Shankar does it. The industry that gave Man Vasanai and Malayoor Mambattiyan brings a Sci Fi – that talks about neural schema, Andro Humanoid, Vision Bleach, Robo Sapiens, Robotic formation and what not. Bharathiraaja may have cringed and called it the western influence on Indian Culture, just like Ilaiyaraja did when Rahman came up with Roja. Fact is he won Oscars, Grammy and Golden Globe. Shankar’s Endhiran isnt Oscar worthy. It isnt even good enough to be called the Original – Path breaking Sci Fi. But as Rajnikanth puts it, more movies may come, you have more movies in the past – but its the first of its kind in Indian cinema, done convincingly and that too with the Rajnikanth experience.

The other Bachan may have rejected a Villain Role in this movie fearing his popularity as a Villain. Rajnikanth feasts on it. To an average mind with absolutely no science know-how, this still caters. Albert theatre will go wild on seeing the Chellatha Scene and when Rajnikanth finds the Black sheep. The urban sense-making-middle-class will appreciate the reality  when Vaseegaran runs away from a fight and give credits to the Robot doing the ‘Original Rajni’ stunts because it is explained scientifically.

One fails to imagine how this movie would have made sense if Kamal had agreed and prays to thank the Chellaatha that Shahrukh never agreed to this.

For someone who grew up watching Rajnikanth movie and considers Thalapthi to be Rajnikanth’s best till date – this movie still demands repeat audience for it is more enjoyable the second time.

Even if Marans benefitted from the Yellow Shawl cover he somewhere emerges to be one of those prides of TN just because he invested a couple of hundred cr. to showcase the Sci-Fi Rajni. He now enjoys the privilege Panchu Arunachalam or K Balachander enjoys in the name of Rajnikanth. One wonders what AVM Saravanan is thinking now.

At the end of the day, even if the Fly Over fight and few other moments dragged the movie – one is happy that the movie is a feast which had a paavakka kootu as well. Feast because of Rajni, Rathnavelu, A R Rahman, StanWinston, Shankar to name a few.

But the same person is also disappointed that there was no separate ‘tribute’ slide for Sujatha Rangarajan – the ‘Rangusky’ – when the movie started.

Nevertheless, this movie will stay in the hearts of an Average Thamizhan as Engal Iniya Endhira.

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The Last Fall

You are about to fall off a cliff. You are hoping that she will lend a hand to save you. She points to a rope, just in case. Do you try the rope or wait for the hand?

Who breaks the trust first? She thinks the rope seems a better option. Would you be then thinking why she let you go or do you not care, reach for the rope and break the trust?

It doesn’t matter, does it?

You are falling ..

Will I die falling or will I be able to reach the rope just in time? The hand seems far off, nearly impossible to hold on.

I take a look down and find that the depth seems less killing than wondering why she’d let me go. I grant her last wish – I’d rather fall watching her try than to cling on the rope to watch her, watch me attempt.

Inhaling one of the last breath, the last few beats – that my ear seem to listen to exclusively, picturing her one last time, I let myself go. The silence seems great – finally my heart is at peace.

Strange !

I fell, hoping this to be the last time.

Unhooked

The curtains had changed, shoe stand and wardrobe empty, devoid of soft toys that once made the room feel like a Hallmark showroom – today, it feels different. This was not the room she had grown up all these years. Just like a bird wanting to fly but happy to return to the cage, she loved her cage – once. Today this is more of a vacation, a retreat and a palace of nostalgia as she sees every single crack in the room. She remembered one crack at the south end of the room near the Cupboard. A place where she sat when she had to study History which means -enjoy your free time. This crack apparently hid her secret collection of chocolate wrappers. She cut open the crack today yet again and found 4 or 5 still there. Obviously Mom hadn’t noticed it, yet.

Ah, a ‘Dairy Milk’ wrapper!

The one that she is proud to call it the first purchase from her savings. Quickly pocketing it, she still finds her childish enthusiasm intact.

Happy days.

As she stood in the queue for her Visa appointment at the Delhi consulate, a strange feel descends. A feel of a nomad. America was never her destination, but somehow it has grown to be a routine – a location that makes you yearn for a home.

Is that still true?

It’s been 3 years since she left home and nothing seems the same. People seemed to wait for her and like her. Somewhere she is important and everyone wants a piece of her. Gone are those days when she was happily ignored for Nithya’s achievements. When ignorance was a blessing in disguise helping her to do anything unnoticed. Today she is the cynosure of all eyes – after Nithya’s marriage.

She has grown too much to be an American for her own good and bad, yet had to be approved by one to enter the country. The most assuring fact in a foreign land is the idea of a home waiting to take anything, anytime. She still has one -name sake. She doesn’t own the place anymore like she once used to. It’s now decorated and made to her comfort, just like those 5 star hotels do. You enjoy it, love it – but cannot own it.

Neither does Chicago feel the same. An apartment that overlooks the skyline is great, enjoy it, love it – but never like the house that built her emotions.

She waited for her number in the counter, wondering if leaving her home for a long time – a mistake?  As the Visa officer approved her Visa to work in US, she wondered if the rules of a place being called ‘home’ had an exception. After all Vairamuthu had said “VidhiVilakkillatha Vidhiyum illa”.* Reading too much into it perhaps?

“I think you will miss your room a lot, right” remarked her dad. She wasn’t sure, But “Yes appa – how can I forget you peeping through the doors to check if I am still studying.” A good hearty laugh, but that was a reality check. Once upon a time ‘the empire’ of Her Majesty – just a cage of memories now.

Business Class was a pleasure, the comfort was assuring. “Please feel home here” comforted the air hostess Maya.

‘Yeah right, I will – why not?’

As she walked past immigration – the officer distractingly chuckled with a sparkle in his eye “Welcome home”.

‘What.. really?’,  

Yeah sure – Vairamuthu was right somewhere.

*There isnt a rule without an exception.

Banyan Tree’s Short Story Competition

Mystery of ten heads

Have you ever solved a quadratic equation starting from the answer and stunned your teacher. She knows that you solved it the unintended way but still have to give it to you for the guts of trying it and actually making it look perfectly solved. Mani ratnam does that with Ramayan in Raavanan. Similarities apart where the movie weakens is the connect between characters that you usually see in Mani Ratnam’s movie. Not that it is bad, but its just not enough. There is so much happening in terms of the events in story that it requires great cinematography, perfect editing and a great music score to move it along with fine acting, which it does but somewhere overshadows the Mani Ratanam touch.

That said, never- for a second underestimate the movie. Its a visual spectacle, very well shot and for almost every second you are wondering how the hell they did that. The story essentially is what you knew as Ramayan “attempted” from Raavanan’s perspective. Characters of Veeraiyya, Dev and Raagini are untied, loosely defined and left that way. They are built only to the level of requirement and left to your imagination as to what goes through their head by the means of events actions and dialogues. Starts half way – un-defines everything you thought [read – the first half] and leaves it that way. Maniratnam once quite famously said ‘you don’t have to tie up a knot of the character and close it in the end to finish a movie. If you capture the time frame of that person you just leave it there ..‘ when he finished Aayitha Ezhuthu. True to it – he leaves us with Rahman questioning the life of Veera.

The only challenge Vikram faces [in the tamil version] is the stunts and blending with location. The role, the eccentricity and the portrayal is something he knows how to perform even when he is sleeping. He just gets a different canvas. Aishwarya, surprisingly [for me] is appreciable for her efforts and man, she’s got great eyes. And was that Rohini? Prithviraj is Arvindswamy of today – he perfectly fits Dev and has no problem carrying out that role.

Rahman these days converted from subtle background scores to “right there with you” types. It literally pulls you along and Whatte Brilliance was that – with Kattu Chirikki ! Oh, I loved it ! Santhosh Sivan needs no mention and my words do no justice to his frames. It has to be seen to be believed. Properly choosen colors like shades of Black and green throughout with Reds and Oranges for the costumes along with some Grey for the background in high contrast. Usuals of Mani, lighting is very natural and subtle. Sometimes there was too much contrast or lighting – may be – that made look real stunts a bit CGI. Especially – the Bridge fight. 50 % of those who watched in the theater with me decided it was graphic while the making of the movie showed it was real. Of course, not to forget the stunts themselves – Mani Ratnam’s stunts are usually subtle and quick but for Thalapathy’s Intro fight, but this time they are more pronounced and Pithamagan’ish.

The movie isn’t consistently paced. Builds the characters slowly, flows the search quickly and captures emotions steadily. You just have to conclude its one way of showing a drama. The cohesion that Maniratnam brings in his screenplay seems to be executed with a mediocrity. Its probably the heavy content. At times it fails -badly, like the army build up in the climax to use AK 47. For heaven sakes it sprays bullets and you cannot point and shoot. Keda Kari shows a North Indian temple and a village – why ? The nativity went for a toss there. Sujatha is sorely missed in the dialogues department. Suhasini, you are clearly not matching Mani’s script !

If you have read the prologue – you know that Mani Ratnam just questions who Raavanan is, what does it mean when you look at the ‘so called good’ from the ‘so called evil’ perspective – and leaves us pondering the same. You are not given answers and you will call this movie bad if you went looking for answers ! After all there is no fixed definition for what a movie should show.

It feels apt sometimes that the movie named Raavanan does have 10 heads and a thousand voices.

PS: there can be absolutely no one who can match the titling done in Mani Ratnam movies. Clearly, unbeatable.

Hindi Update: Hindi has the nativity that Tamil version misses and the Dialogue though very mediocre works in Hindi. Abhishek is no match for Vikram. Vikram is awesome in Hindi and so his language is. Suhasini, please don’t write dialogues here on.