Jul 20, 2006

Tamil vs Hindi Cinema: 5. Comedians

Comedy is an important ingredient to an entertaining movie. I can think of very few movies which didnt have a comedy track but still engrossing.. needless to say that they are action-oriented.. like Kaakha Kaakha, Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupadu, Kurudhipunal, Pulan Visaranai and Captain Prabhakaran. With the advent of mega serials, it is easy to confirm the statement that 'It is easy to make one cry but difficult to make one laugh'. Most of the heroes have tried their luck in humorous role and have had varied success. And then, there is another unique sect of stars- comedians, who, either on a separate comedy track or running along with the main story, evoke laughter and help pull crowd to the theaters.
Since the present discussion deals with current cinema (the last 6 years or so), I wouldnt touch upon greats like NSK, Nagesh, Chandrababu et al. in Tamil and Mehmood, Johnie Walker, et al. in Hindi.
Tamil comedians:
Tamil cinema had a rich tradition of comedians.. but in the recent past, it has largely been either Vivek or Vadivelu. Both are my favorites now, but their modus operandi is pretty different. Vivek has an 'urban touch' to him, so I find that urban audience tend to like him more, whereas Vadivelu has the 'rural touch' or 'Madurai masala', so people from B and C centers correlate him more. By and large, they are 'decent' comedians but at times, they get sucked into 'double entendre' jokes, which is not a great humor.
Vivek: He made his debut in the 1989-release 'Pudhupudhu Arthangal' of KB and made an immediate impact as Rahman's assistant. For almost another decade, he was rather quiet, without any memorable role. Coincidentally, that was the period totally dominated by the Koundamani-Senthil duo, sometimes supported by Vadivelu. The turn of the century has been lucky for him, and his unique style of 'funda humor' was very well received by the audience. He has never looked back since. His most memorable movies are Vaali, Minnale, Run, Dhool, Parthiban Kanavu and Anniyan.
Vadivelu: His first movie was 'En rasavin manasile' (1991). He was lucky to picked up early by Kamalhaasan and got a memorable role in 'Thevar magan'. His methods to evoke laughter are his mannerisms, facial expressions, situations in which he is in the 'receiving end', and dialogue delivery. I am glad that his recent release 'Imsai Arasan' is a huge hit.. My favorite movies of his are Thevar magan, Singaravelan, Winner, Giri, Engal Anna and Chandramukhi.
Hindi comedians:
There is only one actor who is truly qualified as a full-time comedian, and, that, is Johnny Lever. He is more of an one-dimensional artist, unfortunately, and lacks the versatility of the tamil comedians discussed above. He, like Vadivelu, doesnt look so pleasing, but has got a few roles to evoke laughter. He has changed his name to sound like the legendary Johnny Walker but there is a huge difference in quality between them. Some movies in which I have liked his comedy are 'Kuch kuch hota hai', 'Kareeb', 'Yes Boss' 'Dulhan hum le jayenge', 'Baadshah', and 'Awara Paagal Deewana'.
Paresh Rawal has changed his career profile from a villain to a nice comedian. I rate him higher than Johnny, becos Paresh is more spontaneous. He has stuck a great chemistry with Priyadarshan to deliver movies like Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul, etc. Unlike the tamil comedians, who can stand their own even in a serious/action movie, Paresh, albeit superbly, acts only in comedy movies. His quality is pretty good, but if you consider him , one also has to consider Kamalhaasan in MMKR to Mumbai Xpress.
So, Tamil comedians score over their Hindi counterparts. The score is, tamil leading Hindi 2-1.
Earlier posts of this series:
I recently watched
a) Wimbledon: A feel-good movie. Though predictable to most part, it has some surprises towards the end. I believe that sports-based movies are trickier to make, bcos people have seen a good action of the sport in TV before.. so they have to be convinced that what they are watching in a movie is in par with what they have seen. When you have 'Wimbledon' as the event, for example, the actors have to play tennis as good as, say, a Sharapova or Federer, to win the title. And, tennis is a 'fast' game. While watching it, the games looked real to me and I felt as if I am watching a LIVE match on TV. Good effort.
b) Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind: An amazing movie with a real tough screenplay.. sort of a sci-fi movie.. Totally non-linear screenplay and only in the end, things fall into place. Good performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. One of the unforgettable movies.
c) Good night and good luck: Somehow I didnt like the movie that much. The actors appeared to be stone-faced and the entertaining parts were hardly any. The 'black-and-white' didnt help either. The event around which the entire movie is based might be of significance to the Americans but I found it hardly strong enough to carry the whole script.
d) Memoirs of a Geisha: This is not one of the typical Japanese/Chinese movies that one expects.. Since I hadn't googled for 'Geisha', I had to patiently wait till the halfway of the movie to know what that means.. The visuals were stunning and the performances were top-notch too. I guess you have to either fall in love with it or dislike it to the core.
e) The Chronicles of Narnia: Pretty much a children's movie.. but, as usual, I enjoyed it. The technical aspects/ visual effects were great. Good story-telling.
f) Mississippi masala: Yeah, old movie but got a chance to watch is just now. It was an interesting movie.. the life and love of a girl of Indian origin who has never been to India. Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhary, Roshan Seth and Sharmila Tagore all deliver powerful performances in this movie with a tricky story.

Jul 9, 2006

Eeking result out of rain-affected matches

First, hearty congratulations to our Indian team for the series win in WIndies !! Though WIndies are not a major force any longer, that we could win despite the absence of Sachin, augers well for the team. A sore point, though, was that it could have easily been 3-0, or atleast, 2-0 for sure in our favor. The second test was so badly affected, but still we came just 3 wickets short of a win. If I get a powerful role in ICC, I would implement the rule that, if and when in a test match atleast 30 overs are lost due to rain/bad light, the teams' performance would be computed in terms of % and, if the difference is more than 50%, then the team with higher % wins; otherwise it would be a draw.

Let us take the second test at St. Lucia as a case study. Everyone would agree that, had India got just another session (or 30 overs), we could have taken the remaining 3 WI wickets and won by an innings.. My logistic is based on the following:

a) A team requires 20 wickets to win a match. And, it requires atleast one run more than what the other team got. So, the % of wickets and the % of runs have to be given equal weightage. In a scale of 100 (%), wickets and run share 50% each.
b) The lowest completed innings of a team is that team's 100% effort. Using that, its other innings score and the score(s) of the other team, the batting percentile out of 50 would be calculated.
c) The number of wickets would be divided by 20 and the percentage be taken. If a team declares, that is its problem. It would still be considered to have lost 10 wickets, since that innings is 'complete'.

The scores of the second test were as follows: India 588/8 d; WI 215 and 294/7.
WIndies' completed score of 215 is their 100% effort, though they bettered it in the second innings. Thus, their batting score is (215+245)/215 x 1/2 x 50, which is 59.2 %. They got 10 Indian wickets, which is 50% of wickets, so, wickets' contribution is 50/2 = 25%. Total percentage is 59.2 + 25 = 84.2 %.
India's mammoth score ensured that their batting percentile would be very high.. that is 518/215 x 50, which is 120.5. They got 17 of WIndies wickets, which is 85%, so wickets' contribution is 42.5%. Total is 163 %.
Now, the difference in the performanes between the teams is 79% - higher than the stipulated 50% and so India wins..
The introduction of this new rule doesnt rule out the possibility of draws.. so, a draw is still inevitable if a) less than 30 overs are lost in a match or b) both teams score huge in the first innings, or c) the two teams run close.. like what happened in the first match.. The difference was only 3.5%; and only some 15 odd overs could not be bowled..

MPS (Movie Post-Script):
The movies I saw recently -
1) Mitr, My friend : Thorougly enjoyed watching it. For some reason, I thought this movie was about the male protagonist having a second affair so I didnt wanna watch it. When I eventually did, I was amazed at how close it was to my fiction story. May be Revathy and me think alike.. :-)

2) Troy: A visual treat. Homer's Iliad picturized in such a grand, spectacular manner..

3) Schindler's List: Managed to watch it at last, after over 10 years of wish.. Living in an area rich of Jewish population, the movie touched me more than it would have, had I seen it last year.

4) Hotel Rwanda: Truly an African version of Schindler's list.. How easily racism can convert man into an animal..

5) Thamizhan: Surprised to see that the seeds of 'Anniyan' were long ago sowed in this one.. and add to it the presently publicized 'Right to Information' (RTI) act.. the director deserved kudos.. except for the romantic aspect and the villain of the movie.

6) Fanaa: Could have been a nice romantic flick but the director messed up with the terrorist angle and the cinematic cliches of the second half.. Beautiful locales and nice songs..