Jun 27, 2007

Lose neck, risk life

When I woke up y'day, I was shocked to see the sad news about the sudden demise of Jeeva, the noted cinematographer-director. First, my deep condolences to his family and friends; may his soul rest in peace. Cardiac arrest at the age of 43? Initially I thought that the extreme weather of Russia was a factor but it is summer there. Now, the reason looks like a combination of stress and lack of fitness.

When the credit started rolling at the end of 'Unnale Unnale', one can see Jeeva directing a few scenes. His appearance was stocky. I was wondering why a reasonably good-looking director, who choses fit and handsome heroes for his movies doesn't take care of his own appearance. Just this monday, I was looking at a recent foto of director Shankar. Sorry to say, but his face is getting unrecognizably swollen as time passes by. I understand that, with age, the skin won't be as tight; but making the neck disappear with a double chin is a bad symptom.

Nowadays, it is getting common for men in India to die of heart attack at an earlier age than women. I have heard the relatives saying "he was so good in his habits - won't even consume tea or coffee". But, they were overweight. Just a cursory look at the remedy for most diseases would reveal the presence of the word 'exercise' in every column. A guy doesn't need an Einstein to tell if he is fat or not; I would say that one just has to stand in front of mirror and look at the neck. If the Adam's apple can't be seen, it is time to exercise and watch out the tasty fried stuff in ur food.

One can't do anything with the hereditary passage of some diseases; but weight is something which is controllable. Prakash Raj, in 'Vyabari' says: "Oruthan ezhaiya pirakkuradhu avan thappu ille; aana avan ezhaiya setha kandippa avan thappu" (It is not one's fault that he is born poor; but it is definitely his fault if he dies poor). On a similar note, I extrapolated it to "Oruthan chinna kuzhandhaiya gundaa vazharradhu thappu ille; aana saagumbodhu gundaa irundha avan thappu" (It is not one's fault that he is nurtured well at the young age as a chubby kid , but it is definitely his mistake if he is fat when he dies).

Jun 24, 2007

Acrimonious Anon's

(Pic adopted from Keyhole)

In the past 10 days, I have observed a drastic increase in the number of 'anonymous' comments in Tamil blogs, mainly due to 'Sivaji' reviews and related news. Some of those who couldn't accept the verdict of the bloggers unfortunately chose to express their protest trying to chagrin the authors. This is true for both the non-fans and the ardent fans of Rajni. This has resulted in quite a bit of distasteful comments and abusive language as well.. This, coming from the educated-and-thus-supposedly-good-mannered people, is disappointing.

If you are a regular reader of 'Rediff', you would have observed a lot of attention devoted to 'Sivaji' in the main page itself, for nearly 3 weeks. Initially there were comments ranging from 'why to cover regional films on the main page' to 'I donno who is Rajni'. As more and more articles started to appear, the comments got derogatory along the lines of northies vs southies. The color, habits, food, languages and films in general were abused to such an extent that they had to be removed by rediff.. but by then the damage was done.

Another relatively new feature in Rediff is 'Spotting the stars'. Those who spotted VIPs from cine industry and cricket, clicked fotos and sent to Rediff with the excitement that their fotos will be published, were made to repent later. Several readers started using expletives, commenting on the appearance of those in the snaps, attacking their region and so on.

All these instances leave a bitter taste in the mouth. These show that it is so easy for us desis to hate each other and show it as well; the anonymity that the internet provides is exploited to the hilt to spit venomous remarks at will. No wonder that, when there is an event that tests our unity, the result often reflects a failure in humanity.

Jun 18, 2007

If I were in Shankar's team..

hmm.. not that he invited me, but I would have at least put forward the ideas in the next para. I can't believe that, despite the involvement of so many directors (Shankar, Balaji Shakthivel, KV Anand, JD and Jerry), many scenes sounded amateurish.. With my miniscule brain's limited cinema knowledge and logic, lemme think:

Rajni's profession: To be able to earn Rs. 200 crore (~$50M) in 20 years, I am sure it is not possible by doing any 'job' in US. When Vadivukkarasi asks him in the car, it is certainly meant to tell 'us' what he did, rite? I donno anything about 'Software Systems Architect'; but that doesn't sound big enough to make one save this much.. A far better option would have been to own a software company, or atleast a unique website portal.. U software people, lemme know if I am wrong.. Is this too much to ask from Sujata, who is a tech geek?

Ballelakka song: It suddenly jumps at you, out of nowhere, from inside a pub. Just 1/2 more min. would have been enough to show that Rajni is visiting his native village or 'kuladheivam' and then the song starts. And I am not even mentioning about a couple more days of practice to improve his dance steps.

Shriya wooing technique: Anything else would have better than the whole technique. Who would lock an adult daughter in a house, along with two suspicious strangers? They could have just locked themselves from inside? I know it is a small thing, but makes sense, no?

Bringing the black money out: Did Rajni and Vivek have that kinda power to assemble the auditors, drivers and servants of all the industrial bigwigs under one roof? Foolish to assume that the auditors would succumb to revealing their clients' information if beaten up by some goondas. How about this? Rajni being tech-savvy, writes a super program which enters the PC's of all the industrialists and their auditors, copies all the data and sends him.. By the time Rajni writes such a program, Vivek collects all their address, and by bugging the BSNL's main server, they are able to send the virus to the PC's in those addresses.. An inspiration from the climax of Independence day, but hey, why not introduce this kinda techniques to Tamil audience?

Transfer of hunderds of millions of rupees and dollars: One Muslim 'Bhai' staying in one 'kurukku sandhu' would be able to do such a monumental transaction? As a corollary to my previous point, the money transaction could be completely on-line, from the industrialists' a/c to Rajni's Swiss bank a/c, to his US a/c, and finally to his friends.

Shriya saving Rajni: True, trains will stop if anything 'red' is waved at them.. but Shreya manages to run towards the train, between the rails, holding the thaavani, but still the train manages to stop a few feet in front of her. At that speed, wouldn't the driver have managed to see a man standing mid-track and stop it, anyway? It would have made sense, if Rajni is standing at such a place that the driver can't see him (say, after a turn) and then Shriya is waving red at the train at the linear path, before the curve and makes it stop.

Climax fight: Even if you assume that Suman is storing all his money in that 'auspicious' place, wouldn't it all be in bundles, and stapled? How can they all fly as individual currency, oh, bcos Rajni is fighting? And when the whole floor is filled with 1000's and 500's, why are all the students (esp. the 'capitation fee collecting' kid) catch them mid-air? The whole thing could have been compressed to just the fight by the Mottai boss, which would have been more than enough, without the currency flying effect.

Shankar is known to take care of such minute details usually (e.g., Nasser asks Vikram in 'Anniyan' about where Remo manages to get money to spend a lot for wooing Sada, and Vikram gives a reasonable answer). I think that's what made him stand apart from other directors. God only knows what happened in 'Sivaji'.

Jun 16, 2007


(Pic adopted from The Hindu)

In Gentleman, Shankar invented the concept of 'Fantasy solution' for India's problems, and he continued it in various forms in his subsequent 'odd-numbered' movies - Indian, Mudhalvan and Anniyan - very successfully. After handling a very heavy subject, he usually resorts to lighter themes, as he did in the even numbered movies - Kadhalan, Jeans and Boys. After receiving lot of flak for 'Boys', Shankar had to prove his worth to the critics, and he did that, quite emphatically, IMHO, in 'Anniyan' by toiling hard for almost 2 years and pulling all stops. Then, he had the chance to be a part of the dream combo 'Rajini-Shankar-Rahman-AVM' and he took that offer. In hindsight, he should have done that after taking a break.

If you have been following the news and gossips on the story, and subplots of Sivaji from various sources, most of it is true. He is a multi-millionaire NRI who returns to India to help eradicate poverty by providing free education, medical facilities, etc. to all. An educationalist, Aadiseshan (Suman) feels threatened by Rajini's plans and uses all his connection to stop Rajini's dream projects. The story is pretty much Sivaji vs Aadi, with Sivaji's love on Tamilselvi (Shreya) and Vivek's comedy providing the lighter moments.

This is strictly for Rajini fans only. Usually Rajini becomes inspirationally rich after one song, or after 15 mins. of sequences in the movie, but here, by the time I returned to the seat after the Intermission and settled down, he is a millionaire. Some of the tactics used by him are amateurish, and it appears as if Shankar realized that everything could be overlooked just because it is Rajini doing them. So, the product has very little of Shankar's trademark stamps/innovations, and mostly Rajinisms. It was certainly not as expected, and one gets a feeling that even an ordinary director would have done this or better.

Shankar's presence is seen in all the song sequences. They are different; pretty cool. Before going into the theater, I was thinking "the first half would be a typical Rajini movie and the second half, a Shankar movie". Unfortunately, it isn't. Only that, the pace post-intermission is higher than the first half. Rajini-Shreya chemistry was probably among the weakest Rajini had in his recent movies. The wooing methods and the origin of love between them are less than inspirational, sometimes becoming downright irritating. Shreya's refusal to accept Rajini would compete with Vijayakumar's reasoning and adamance shown in 'Mudhalvan'.

One also gets the feeling that even the vigilante theme in Sivaji is a linear combination of Shankar's previous movies, and of some others who tried to copy him. So, you get the 'Free education and eradication of child labor' from Gentleman, 'Dishonest governance and bureaucracy' from Indian, 'Corrupt, selfish and regressive politicians' from Mudhalvan, 'Income-tax violation and bribery' from Anniyan, and some scenes reminding of Murugadoss' movies like 'Stalin'. One really wishes that this is the last attempt by Shankar on vigilance and 'social reformation by dreaming big - of the hero'. In the end, when it is shown that India joins G10, it is all deja-vu..
  • The music stall fight - yeah, no one has shown a fight scene in a music stall, but, was that really necessary? And the villains run away after being 'hit' by guitars a few times.. LOL..
  • The 'hawala' technique of money exchange - very amateurish. The 'genius' of Shankar, Sujata, Balaji Sakthivel and co. could come up to only this?
  • The location of Suman's money - a big joke; as if it had only one purpose which eventually gets fulfilled.
  • Suman's reasons for being worried about Rajini is another joke; this is not 1992, with only 50 Engg. and medical colleges, Mr. Shankar, there are over 200 now!
  • Goutham showed 'Exit 13A' for Newark airport in VV.. so Shankar decided to show 'Exit 14 A to D'.. Giggles all around..
  • Building a university is one thing; running it successfully, that too without collecting fees or donation is another.. Where are the logistics, when he is investing everything to just build it?
With all the hype notwithstanding, the movie is just for your eyes and heart only.. Don't try to dissect it or look for logic, like I did.. After all, it is a Rajini movie. ;)

Jun 8, 2007

Why I love U2

Unnale Unnale, that is.. :)

(Pic adopted from Dinamalar)

* The songs rock.. all of them.. Esp. 'June ponaal'.. superb dance and picturization.
* It has got rich looks - Nice locales, good cinematography.
* Its urban feel.
* Totally youthful... probably one of the rarest with over 95% screen time occupied by actors below 30. Raju Sundaram is the only 30+ guy.
* I absolutely loved Tanisha's role.. Many people had trouble accepting her playing cupid, while at the same time falling in love with Vinay. I felt that, being the 'happy-go-lucky' gal she was, all she wanted was her love to be happy always. She knew that she can be an excellent match for him, but since he was still longing for Sada, she would help him trying his best to woo her back. This, she despite knowing that Sada and Vinay can never get along.
* Tanisha proposing to Vinay was something new to Tamil cinema. She was genuinely in love with him, so her awareness of Vinay's on-off relationship with Sada didn't prevent her from confessing her love to him. It came along genuinely, I felt.
* There were many sweet moments - when Vinay tries hard to control his temptation to turn back and look at a girl passing by but then he does, and the girl shows mocking face and moves away; Vinay and Tanisha's first meet in flight; the discussions on man vs woman and the simple, emotion-free but nevertheless strong climax.
* Hardly any tears are shed..
* The casual friendship and conversation throughout the film. Ever since 'Before Sunrise', I look forward to good, if not brilliant conversations in movies; U2 had quite nice ones.
* Welcome, Vinay! For a newcomer, he was excellent as the harmless flirt. Looks most promising among the heroes introduced by Jeeva.

PS: Managed to get a ticket for the Shankar's movie releasing this friday.. ;) 4:30 PM show.. After finding the first two days completely booked, I was surprised to find the sudden availability when I checked y'day.. mins. after I booked, the tickets were sold out.. :) Why not any thursday show in NJ? :(