Total Pageviews

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kalaignar’s theory of opportune atheism

This article is a dedication to the connoisseur and founder of a non-religious religion termed opportune atheism. The great soul in question is none other than our “Manbhumighu” Tamil Nadu chief minister Mr.Karunanithi. According to the genius (no pun intended), one can choose to believe or not believe in god with regard to the situation. Hence, you may end up being a theist for 60% of your lifetime and an atheist for the rest of your life in spite of having the “privilege” of calling yourself an atheist during the whole life span.
I can’t help marveling at the power of this philosophy which has worked wonders for “Kalaignar”. God ceased to exist when he was campaigning for the DMK in the open grounds of Tamil Nadu in front of the masses but god sprang back to “life” when Karunanithi was “begging” the self-styled god-man Sai Baba shamelessly to offer financial help to clean up Cooum. He went to the extent of equating Sai Baba to god. Where is the question of comparing someone to god when one believes that god doesn’t exist? Kalaignar was all smiles when his own family members and “wives” fell on the god-man’s feet. Does this man have no convictions? I can’t help feeling bad for this individual because his own family members don’t seem to be having any kind of respect for his opinions.
He allegedly shared the stage with two more spiritual gurus, Mata Amritanandamayi and Sakthi Narayani Amma. Consistency and belief find no place in Kalaignar’s dictionary. Selfish motives and promotion of family interests seem to be his only preferences. It looks like a deliberate attempt to change his image and acquire acceptability amongst theist masses.
While he expects everyone to accept his command over Tamil in spite of the absence of a graduation certificate in Tamil to his name, what prompts him to think that lord Ram couldn’t have been an expert engineer because he didn’t possess a certificate to endorse his prowess. While he chooses to believe in the Tamil legend that Kannagi set the city of Madurai on fire in spite of absence of proof of her prowess in such a mystic art, why does he choose to not believe in Rama’s mastery in engineering?
Karunanithi is entitled to have his way. But what is he trying to achieve by means of mockery of popular beliefs? Has all these years of experience done nothing to instill a feeling of responsibility and respect for others’ feelings in this octogenarian? When is he going to address his own inconsistencies? Tamil poets like Thiruvalluvar, Avvaiyar had no doctorates to their credit! Does that make them lesser mortals? By virtue of possession of a piece of paper which looks inconsequential, does he feel he has become the greatest exponent of Tamil to have ever existed? Is there no end to this seemingly eternal spree of egotism?
The chicken in Karunanithi came to the fore on the thousandth year celebrations of the Brihadeeshwara temple. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated just a few weeks after she visited the temple and took the eastern entrance. Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and Karunanithi’s old buddy, M.G. Ramachandran became sick after taking the same gate and never recovered! This self-confessed rationalist and dispeller of superstitions clandestinely chose to take an alternative entrance. Hats off, sir!
Cho Ramasamy, noted journalist was shrewd enough to note that Kalaignar was wearing a white angavastram instead of the usual yellow one. White angavastrams are known to ward off evil forces and Karunanithi could have possibly acted as per the advice of an astrologer.
I'm not against atheism. It’s personal opinion. But hypocrisy has to be condemned. There should be no two ways about it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three commercial monsters!

After a splash in the pool of realism, which proved to be uncomfortably lengthy and monotonous, Tamil cinema is now testing the waters of the long forgotten (or so we thought) formula flicks. The commercial success and critical acclaim showered on three recently released flicks stand testimony to this fact. Naan Mahaan Alla, Boss (a) Baskaran and Inithu Inithu have cashed in on the sudden surge in the quest for proper entertainers and the evident reason for this trend change seems to be the innumerable and predominantly boring reality-based movies that have been dominating the kollywood arena for a pretty long period of time.

While the above-mentioned movies can be easily be classified under the infinite domain of masala movies, each of them are different in their own way. While NMA was a hardcore action flick, Boss… was a rip-roaring comedy and Inithu… was a true-blue romantic tale that explored the realms of college life poignantly. A sneak peek:

For NMA, a power-packed performance by its lead actor Karthi, who is rapidly emerging as an actor to watch out for, unbelievably crisp editing and a racy screenplay has worked wonders. Karthi, with his fierce eyes, impresses in a not-so-challenging role and also excels in romance (a wonderful chemistry with female lead Kajal warrants mention). The actor was found wanting in the unexplored terrain of romance in his previous venture Paiyya, but he returns with a bang and manages to astonish us with his decent comic-timing too! I’d be failing in my duties if don’t mention the awesome villain gang that have been gruesomely portrayed in NMA. The director deserves special accolades for casting this brutal group, who make the oversized goons we’ve been repeatedly exposed to, look like comedians. Their eyes spit fire and every move of theirs instills cold fear in the viewer’s mind. Jayaprakash, who plays Karthi’s father in the movie, comes up with a classy performance and so does Soori, who gives us the much-needed comic interludes in this exhilarating roller-coaster ride full of chills and thrills. Yuvan’s Iragai pole is an absolute beauty and the sad Dheivam Illai, is a touching number complete with heart-warming lyrics. The background score is decent and so is the cinematography.

What doesn’t work for the movie is the air of deceit that runs through certain scenes in the movie: the characterization of Karthi and his dad for instance. They seem to be too nice to exist! Though the stunts look believable, the idea of Karthi single-handedly spelling doom for the four villains in the climax seems a little high-handed. This thought receives a pat on the back and a logical justification after the preceding scene, where the youth effortlessly maul the formidable allies of Karthi, who happen to be one of the top goons in the city! The romance is sweet, but looks totally fake- the clich├ęd heroine introduction scene and the subsequent characterization re-ascertain this fact! But the director seems to have compromised on these factors as a result of donning the robes of commercial cinema. And I guess he can be excused on the grounds of inexperience and his unquestionable promise. He also deserves a special mention for making a mockery of all superstitious directors, who give a “divine” start to their movie with the camera zeroing in on a popular temple and sound of bells hurting our ears, by kicking off the campaign with a rape scene. Hats off!

Calling Boss… the boss of all comedies that have released in the recent past wouldn’t be an understatement. After Saroja, this is the first movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at any point of time. Every time you sit up and start expecting a serious scene to crop up, the director deceives you, much to your delight. Santhanam is the hero of the movie and Arya is happy to play second fiddle. The young and boisterous actor continues to impress with his choice of roles and doesn’t mind taking the backseat if a nice script comes by. He’s been proving it time and again by essaying roles like he did in Pattiyal, Arinthum Ariyamalum, Parugu, Ulllam Ketkume etc… After Oram Po, which surprisingly bombed at the box-office, Arya takes up a full length comedy and hits the bull’s eye this time around.

Santhanam, who seems to be an ardent fan of Koundamani, is closely following the legend’s footsteps and is making rapid strides with every movie. His punchy lines and comical timing are totally impeccable and his expressions and intonations are enormously enchanting. Nayanthara, as always, is a big letdown. The director seems to have deliberately modeled the character artistes like the ones we get to see in our daily soaps and the experiment pays off brilliantly. The Nanbaen Da dialogue is a tremendous hit with the masses and the continual digs that Arya and Santhanam take, at the superstar and themselves, bring the house down every time. The music, by Raja jr. is a big disappointment. But the bgm during Nayantara’s intro scene strikes a chord with the audience. All the other technical aspects fade into oblivion as Santhanam and Arya steal the limelight for most of the time, though one feels the editing could have been a tad better. The movie sags towards the beginning of the 2nd half but picks up speed after a brief interim. Jeeva impresses with a catchy guest appearance and the movie ends on a feel good note as expected. Hearty congrats to the team for coming up with a classy comedy for the entire family.

Inithu Inithu, a Prakash Raj venture has been raising eyebrows right from the day of its launch for two reasons: one, Prakash Raj, the actor, is absent and two, it is a remake of the highly successful Telugu movie, Happy days. Prakash Raj, known for the quality of his production ventures, comes up with a poetically presented love story set in the backdrop of an engineering college. The director impresses with a very decent portrayal of college life unlike sub-standard Tamil movies where college scenes usually involve students making fun of teachers and teachers being depicted as idiots. Ragging, hostel life, love, lust, seniors, teachers, students etc… have been handled in a very mature way and the realistic performances, strong characterization and breezy screenplay take the movie past the finish line comfortably. The scenes featuring the ultra-glam English professor, the t20 match played between the juniors and seniors are unwanted aberrations. The fact that all college love stories don’t end happily has also been given due respect and is one of the many tweakings in the script that deserve a special mention. Costume design deserves a special mention for keeping vulgarity at bay. Our costume designers oft take college based scripts as an excuse to showcase skimpily clad female artistes and thankfully, Inithu… doesn’t feature such immature compromises. The costumes are vibrant, decent and realistic at the same time, a rarity in cinema now-a-days. Cinematography is another highlight and the lush green VIT campus is captured vividly in the movie. Music is average and the lyrics (Vairamuthu), gratifying. A classy campus tale artistically captured!

By dismissing such innovative ventures as Masala or commercial flicks, I think we’re doing grave injustice to the makers’ talent. After all, cinema is all about getting the economics right and walking home with deeper pockets. We also need to appreciate good cinema packaged in the commercial format instead of blindly endorsing sub-standard gore that we encounter in the name of realism.