Devil’s Advocate

Nanna nanna nanna naa, nanna nanna nanna naa. If you know what I mean. I’m still humming the song. I’ve been humming the sequence ever since I came out of the theatre, such was its impact. When I thought that no movie could touch Bahubali’s experience this year, this movie broke it. Between the two may be Bahubali might win it for its simplicity but Vikram Vedha is nowhere next to it. But because of few complication, the awesomeness gets a bit less. It’s not all happy faces who come out of the theatre.

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I didn’t think that this movie would be half as awesome as what I experienced. The best part about the directors were, they didn’t try too much to say hidden stories using the title Vikram Vedha. The opening animation out rightly tells that there is going to be a Vikram, there is going to be a Vedhalam. And all the Vikram Vedhalam stories were superbly etched. All the escapades of Vijay Sethupathi were from emotional angle rather than dumb heroism. The first time Madhavan gets into the story for a second, then a minute and then almost till Vedha knocks him out and only in the final scene he does get hold of Vedha in complete confidence. That was the scene where both were in there full powers.

I was thinking this to be another movie like Managaram where they both unite to fight. There is some pleasure when the heroes who fought with each other unite. I thought this is going to be in the lines of that after Agni Natchathiram and Managaram. The last few minutes where they unite and fight were awesome. But the directors took it one notch higher by making it a Mexican standoff. And it was a true Mexican standoff unlike something made just the sake of it.

My favorite part of the movie would be the husband and wife angle of Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath. The independent nature of modern woman and men’s nature of men were superbly done. Much better than what Katru Veliyidai tried to achieve. It was so subtle and sexy. I think Pushkar and Gayathri put all their personal life experience to get a superb matured angle of this relationship. The fact the Shraddha was given a slutty look added to the sexiness of the relationship. Much like how Madhavan does, she’s the kind of girl one wishes to hug tight after a tough fight, what she’d be liking too.

Vijay Sethupathi wins here hands down, this movie is written for Vijay Sethupathi. Madhavan of course does a brilliant job but most of the mass scenes were for Vijay Sethupathi. Also he adds his signature humor to the scenes and makes it even more appreciable. More than all these it’s his subtleness which works brilliantly. In the first interrogation scene he discusses with Madhavan about number of killings he had done. When Madhavan says that he is the lead including the last encounter. Look how he lets out so many emotions. His first emotion is the sadness that his brother was killed, second is he had thought it was Simon who had executed and third, more than the anger it’s disappointment that he has towards Vikram because he hadn’t thought that Vikram would kill an innocent. Even the scene where he escapes from Simon is superbly made. His chemistry generally rocks with his co starts, more than the heroines. The walk after being pushed out of the car tells you all the stories. It feels so good to see an actor who knows what needs to be done. Madhavan gets his due in the Bullet scene. That was built up superbly too, right from the first, giving us a glimpse of Irudhi Sutru feel.

Coming to technical aspect of the film. Music, needless to say was awesome, both in BGM and songs. Picturization too rocked. That Giftu scene where we hear the BGM emerge as song was one of the massest moment of the movie. But special mention has to be given to editing, it was great idea to use top angle shots of the housing board flats to edit scenes, looked like maps of Project IGI. So many movies have been shot in North Madras but nothing used that angle. That gave the necessary classy feel to the movie, much like Departed.

It feels so good to see Pushkar and Gayathri getting their due. For they were the ones who indeed started the Tamil New Wave with Oram Po and Va Quarter Cutting. But it took all these years for them to give such a big hit. It’s no way a film made out of compromise. It’s an intelligent film made in an interesting way. Thinking back its actually confusing who killed whom, which generally doesn’t happen in Tamil cinema. Even if it happens it would be due to loopholes but not due to intelligence. That would be their biggest success of all.

Special Mention: Nalli Curry

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When i took an EL

Posted: August 3, 2017 in Just Like That
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There is some pain which has been troubling me on my right chest, right from throat to stomach. Google said it’s not heart attack. I wanted to confirm as I have been telling everyone that I’d die at 29 and I’d die of heart attack. Two different statements which I wanted to make sure isn’t combining. I had this pain throughout the night the previous day. When I woke up, it took me a guilty few minutes to decide that I’d take leave and I took leave.

The first thought in the morning was what if this condition could be something serious and I have only one more year to live. I’ll turn 29 next year. I have so many plans. Have to trek EBC, complete one more grade in guitar, run 15 km/hr in 15 minutes, and run 5 KM in 20 minutes. All these are my part of agenda for next one year. What if this is a serious ailment and I could not do any of these or even one of these. The idea of quitting job looks to be the only good thing that could happen if I fall sick but rest, it’s scary. I am a person who romanticizes death, much like Woody Allen does. Even though he says that he doesn’t like getting old and that he’s scared of death, you find a sense of elation. It was the same with me too. But to really think what would happen if you’ve been given a timeline to your death, then it’s really scary.

I can’t remember the last time I took an EL just like that. Only seven years prior when I had to exhaust 5.5 days of leave by financial year end, I took leaves without reason, that’s the best thing to do. To get up and decide that you are not going to go to office, feels greater than any achievement. After a guilty few minutes even today I felt the same.

Started off with a tea and took morning walk with Dad, I couldn’t walk as fast as him, asked him to slow down, we went across the street and saw a person selling Cow’s milk which I wanted to buy for a long time. We continued walking straight through the road, I thought of asking him to take the path towards beach but without my telling he somehow went that way, thanks to the greens that we had to buy. While walking in the road to Thiruvanmiyur Beach you can’t see the sand first, only waves and today there was a boat on it and waves were quite high. Sun wasn’t harsh, weather was pleasant. The first glimpse of morning sunlight on water couldn’t have been more pleasant. My heart beat rose. I could have just sat there and watched the waves for a long time but I didn’t insist on it because I had done far too many things within the first few moments of the day, that my parents usually don’t associate with me. I told that I’ll be taking leave, join my dad for morning walk, beach entry. They’d have seriously though that something was wrong if I had wanted to get into the beach as well.

There were so many things running on my mind. Could this pain be due to hypertension, will the doctor ask me to quit my job? Would I be talking to a Psychiatrist? Would it be an awesome guilt free session where I wouldn’t be constantly thinking about money being spent on him?

But all these activities culminated into a wonderful morning. This is how mornings had to be spent, outside, breathing fresh air, not sleepily walking to office bus. Without my knowledge I was walking fast, my dad was falling behind. I felt better.

Coming home I read newspaper (no pleasurable feeling than reading newspaper in the morning), updated blogs, shagged, drank tea, drank cow’ milk, checked if I have Tamasha in my hard disk (which I didn’t), I don’t know what I’ll do for the rest of the day. I’ll be less disciplined, go to doctor and hope it’s nothing serious, play guitar, write review, get guitar mark sheet, want to watch Dunkirk in IMAX and don’t know what. May be brood about how things would get normal tomorrow.

Bloody Mary

Probably the one movie which makes everyone go gasping when asked about. Considered the most unwatchable movie my most, Antichrist was on top priority for quite a long time. I was savoring for the right moment to watch it. But unfortunately watched in mobile. The impact of this movie would have been manifold if I had watched it on big screen, which I know is not possible but at least on a big television.

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Ok so first things first, the opening or the prologue of the movie sets up the movie beautifully, in fact that would be my favorite part. But I didn’t like the scene where Charlotte Gainsburg sees her kid falling from the window at a later part. That was deus ex machina. It should have been either shown or camouflaged. Or was it camouflaged so well that I didn’t notice? I don’t have the habit of going back to the scene and checking what’s right and wrong. That’s not the right thing to do. That’s against my movie watching ethics. The scene where the toddler sees his parents having sex, turns back and smiles should be one of the greatest scenes of mischief. Such brilliance.

William Dafoe was a poor soul. Much like Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut. But he does his job well even though it’s more about Charlotte Gainsburg. Trier’s initial choice seems to have been Eva Green, oh how wonderful it’d have been to have her do this role. Her eyes! The charm in Dreamers and the Sauvé in Casino Royale still is there in my eyes. But the problem would have been that I wouldn’t have been able to hate her as much as I hated Gainsburg. The success of the movie is the brief moment where you sympathize with Gainsburg even after all the torture she does to Dafoe, when she says “don’t leave me”

Rightly named Depression trilogy. This movie fairly does its job. I don’t account it to have pushed me so deep in depression like how Requiem for a dream or Wrekmeister Harmonies or Satan’s Tango or Taste of Cherry did. I felt the jump cuts when they both initially have conversation after their children’s death to be still ambitious.

Ode to Tarkovsky is understandable. There are times he overcomes Tarkovsky’s brilliance but the consistence of a Tarkovskian art is not there. For example consider Stalker, whatever happens in the film happens in the Tarkovskian world, here the transgression is quite evident. The mix of both worlds doesn’t quite match.

There are moments, of course there are, mostly the violent moment works, my favorite would be the disembowelment of fox. That was quite a shocker. Put me aback when I was so keenly watching. But any reference to animals worked in general. Out of sex and violence, I’d rate violence to be classier in this film. I’d rate Betrolucci higher than Trier when it comes to sexual exploration. Kubrick too tried a bit with his Eyes Wide Shut but it was a little too obvious.

Holy Cow

Being a fan of violence on screen, I’ve seen ‘n’ number of violent films and some not so violent films too having violent opening sequences. But the way the opening scene of Cow sets you aback by its cruelty couldn’t be matched to any of the violences in films. The closes that comes is ‘Wild Bunch’, but with Wild Bunch I was able to enjoy the sequence. Here I was completely taken aback.

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Cow is not the film that you generally associate with Iranian cinema. It doesn’t get you teary eyed like how a Children of Heaven or a White Balloon does but the shock it gives leaves you with a profound impact. Of course it’s a sad movie but the sadness is not immediate as half the time you’d be left wondering how to react for a particular sequence.

There are movies which deals with specific characters. Here too the characterization happens but it happens to the entire village, the entire mankind. Let’s look at the first scene I talked about. There is a mentally retarded guy to whom the local mischievous kid and the other children tie to a tree and harass. As much as blinding his eyes with fire. All the while the villagers look at it and laugh but post that scene they complain about the mischievous kid and the nature of people who come from city. Being judgmental at its best.

The same folks would go to any lengths to protect Hassan and again finally laugh at it. Unfortunately we’re one of them too and nothing is going change. And just before the laughs, the best scene of the movie happens. “Move, you animal, move” Irony is Hassan is the only person who doesn’t laugh at the retarded person.

I loved the transition of Hassan from a person to cow. The best part about it is the angle where he loves Hassan by being a cow. I didn’t think of it. We should have seen it coming right from the first, with his dearness to cow. In the very first scene he bathes the cow, he bathes her first and only then pours water over his head. Followed by drying the cow first and using the same towel to wipe himself. Even in the cowshed he eats the grass, seeing cow eating the same. That’s where the doubt arises first and then as expected things happened.

 

Sweet!

For every South Park fan! But I’d have preferred it to be a non-musical. Too many songs were irritating. You can’t really complain though, they have their own way of making films. The film sets the tone within minutes, after a super absurd typical South Parkish song.

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As usual the boys land into some trouble because of their mischief and as usual Kenny dies, only this time he doesn’t really die but resides in hell. Don’t know whether to be happy or sad about it. Kenny dying is pure evil fun so it was when he died here too. Even though a bit sad that I would not able to see him again, it was fun. But when he appeared in hell along with Saddam Hussein and Gandhi and Satan I was disappointed. But the makers did a good use of this ‘Kenny dying’ template.

Being a big fan of Cartman, I expected a better show from him too. He wasn’t as evil as I thought and neither were his deeds. Almost every famous instance in the movie were made into a song including m’kay by professor Mackey. But my favorite was the first song in theatres by Terrance and Philip.

I don’t know why the makers wanted to get a MPAA rating for this one. South Park is known for its R rating. It’s as important as the title cards itself. Good that they didn’t get one.

I don’t have much to write about the movie. I’m not sure how non fans could watch this movie. For some reason I feel like rating this film. I’d give a 3.5/5 for this one.

Better than the Best

The greatest story ever told, War of the Worlds and numerous other headlines came to my mind, because all I could think of while writing about Mahabharatam is how much of adjectives I’m going to use. It’s been two days since I finished but the climax and how Mahabharatam is such an anti-war agenda still doesn’t go out of my mind. One can’t really write a review of Mahabharatam, none can.

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Even though an abridged version, first time I feel the clichéd saying of ‘books better than movies’ to be cent percent true. And reading it in Tamil has its own advantage. All I saw in serials and all I knew about Mahabharatam was war and only war. May be a bit of drama too. But only after reading the book, I could understand that how much of life stories are in it. If you read Mahabharatam you’ve got the purpose of your life. It tells about various aspects of life, highs, lows, romance, lust, vengeance etc. etc. An art work can make you feel happy, sad or induce any type of emotions but Mahabharatam is one book which will make you come in acceptance with your life. That’s the most important aspect out of all.

The start of the book had various stories, before the actual Pandavas Vs Gowravars story started. Abridged version is not really the way to read the pre stories or the start of Mahabharatam because the characters don’t get etched in your mind, only the stories do. It was same for me too. I remember the stories more than who were involved in it.

The second phase, the war phase, when I started reading, I thought what could differently happen over eighteen days. It’s going to be the same flesh and blood story. In a way it was, but in lot many ways it was not. We all know about Krishna’s Leelai in the war but a lot many things too happen apart from it. For me the most depressing event was when Dharaman was made to lie about Ashwathaman’s death. One couldn’t get sadder than the moment one loses their passion. For Dharman, honesty is his trademark and he was asked to forgo it. What worse could happen?

Dharman’s character is what affected the most. When Pandava’s children die in the end and he laments about how needless the war was, how unnecessary the throne would look like etc. It really makes you understand how rotten everything is in the world and you are going to be disappointed no matter what.

Icing in the cake was when each of them go to heaven with Dharman being the last with a dog accompanying him. Karma telling how a ‘dharmam vellum’ through dog was epic. I’m not a pet person but that one sequence got me respect for dogs.

P.S: The re(view) was for Rajaji’s Mahabharatam

 

High on Life

“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”

Trainspotting (1996)

There are movies and then there is Trainspotting. Anyone who has slightest amount of inclination towards anything illegal would love the movie to the core. And mind it, it’s not a cheap movie. There are a lot of other movies which guarantee fun. American Pie, Handover etc. They are epic in their own terms but this one is of different league all together. The purposelessness of trainspotting has to be rewritten only by God.

Like the initial quote I can keep on quoting the whole movie and publish it as review but my most favourite would be, “We took morphine, diamorphine, cyclizine, codeine, temazepam, nitrazepam, phenobarbitone, sodium amytal, dextropropoxyphene, methadone, nalbuphine, pethidine, pentazocine, buprenorphine, dextromoramide, chlormethiazole. The streets are awash with drugs you can have for unhappiness and pain, and we took them all. Fuck it, we would have injected vitamin C if only they’d made it illegal.”

The strength of the movie lies in its nonchalance. The pointlessness of the characters. You see a baby stoned to death in one scene. That’s the most horrific moment of the movie, may be one of the most horrific movie scenes ever made but they you see the Sick-Boy getting ready for his next shot and in turn shooting the child’s mom with another one. That’s how you think as a stoner. Generally the drugs do the thinking and coffee does the writing they say. Here both the thinking and writing were done by drugs it seems.

Like the say in poster ‘Hollywood come in… your time is up”. That’s one more added point to like the movie. It’s Brit and it’s awesome. Some of the shite dialogues they talk couldn’t be written by us even if we go for Veta English class for 10 years. That scene especially where they get off the train and prepare for walk. That ‘lowest of lowest’ dialogue. That’s where the movie stands apart. Anyone who had got high and got restless to get high the next time could identify with that scene.

Life isn’t a melody

Art has no limits. Look how all, movies could be made. When thinking whether a movie could be made within a van for the entire duration, it looks impossible. Even though it happens in a specific place, it’s much different than courtroom drama. Thanks to the familiarity, courtroom dramas are easily conceivable. We know the structure and format, so it could be designed accordingly but a film like Eshtebak isn’t like this. You need to have both firsthand information and reasonable level of artistry within you. That’s why it interests you right from the first frame.

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The film starts with a couple of journalists being arrested during a procession. A sequence of events unfolds and we get to see what all happens within the circumstances.

Having not watched Egyptian movies much, this movie was both interesting and enlightening. What’s best is it would have worked for any other region as well, as it depicts human lives more than Egyptian lives. The way humans will be humans gets proved at every point.

When a foreigner is inside police van, they pelt stones. When a Muslim demonstrates outside, they curse. When a lady wants to go to loo, everyone units for her. When someone takes videos, they all protest. When they are in distress, they all laugh for a joke and also let the same people take video. And all end up being consumed by people who become zombies in the end. In this process, makes us to exhibit all type of emotions.

The film had a number of standout scenes. Everything I said above would be included in that. But if I had to point out one, it would be the scene where they all try to get some air. Even the most organized of groups wouldn’t do it this perfect. But a group which includes foreigners, brothers and others do it with such precision that you ought to take a bow. That bow is for execution. For the idea, let’s not even talk about it. Poocho math.

The film had a curious making. There was a reporting voice which was overlapping what was said in the movie. Don’t know whether it was a mistake or that’s how the movie was made. That voice over didn’t have any subs. That’s why the doubt. Anyways it was fun.

 

Spell Grandeur, Spell Baahubali

When was the last time the whole nation celebrated a movie without saying it’s yours, it’s ours or without any guilt. I don’t remember any. Baahubali was one such film, which spelt grandeur in each and every scene.

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Having watched Baahubali 1 out of compulsion but still to have liked it, its sequel, Baahubali 2’s trailers too didn’t impress me much. But in theatres there wasn’t a single moment of lag, the movie was lengthy, I could feel it but never for a second did I want to end it. I don’t think any director in recent time has got hold of people’s pulse like this. Also to how prolifically to use the canvas. If it was big, it was big for a reason.

Pseudo intellects want to of course read atomic physics side by side while watching the movie like how a thesis on space technology would be necessary to watch a Nolan film. I don’t know why people want answers when the questions are this interesting. The very first scene had a newborn being taken above water by a lady who was almost dead, with the music and tension, it gave me goose bumps, if it didn’t work for you, it’s never going to work for you post that, it’s even waste of time to watch the second part.

Rajamouli wins it with the title card itself, it’s clear how much effort he has put in that. It carries the whole story of first part. As soon as the title card ends and Sathyaraj’s voice start and you are instantly hooked, Ramya Krishnan’s feet adorned by flowers, showing the love of people, son coming to the rescue and like how. I don’t think any movie post MGR era had perfected the Amma sentiment like this. You call it perfection because it’s not cringe worthy, rather when Ramya Krishnan smiles at Prabhas, you actually like it.

Scene after scene, frame after frame, it was awe inspiring, from the chariot to elephant to bow to songs to Anushka to attitude to the interval block. Everything was awe inspiring. Interval block, of all, was the most fabulous scene in the entire movie. When the stones vibrate and the sound increases from people to soldier to elephant, it was nothing but brilliant. The whole theatre was shaking. It was like falling from the tip of the roller coaster where you understand the complete meaning of gravity. That’s how powerful Rajamouli has scripted Baahubali.

I didn’t remember any scene from part one, but it didn’t affect my movie watching experience even one bit. This movie would have worked wonders even for people who had not watched part one. But I don’t think there would have been anyone like that.

I didn’t like Prabhas in the first movie, he was trying so hard. When Rana got introduced taming a bull, that was screen presence, not Prabhas with Siva Linga, in fact, how in a country where we play national anthem and four videos for the ‘benefit’ of us before the movie and any small disagreement from the norm becomes an issue, I don’t know how people didn’t make an issue out of that where a hero breaks an idol and keeps somewhere else. Good for us.

But in the second half Prabhas has such command. You shout as if you should for your local hero. Anushka on the other hand gives one of her best performance, completely understanding the character and delivering it. Her attitude mixed with aggression was a treat to watch. Also satisfies feminists by walking over the shoulder of Prabhas.

Good that Tamannaah was spared of any antics in the film but I’d have really liked to have Rana some more role. See how effortlessly he shows his villainy, the scene where he asks his dad to stop talking in court, till the right moment. Every scene except for the shout in climax works brilliantly in favor of him.

Why Kattappa killed Baahulabi was the question in everyone’s mind, but even if that had been revealed, not even a single soul would have got disappointed while watching the movie.

 

 

 

 

Aval Oru Thodarkathai

I know that anyone who has seen ‘Aval Oru Thodarkathai’ is going to be reminded of it hugely while watching Meghe Dhaka Tara. It has a similar setting. Though Aval Oru Thodarkathai came a good fourteen years later this movie, as a Tamilian I’m more used to Aval Oru Thodarkathai, thus I wasn’t overwhelmed with Meghe Dhaka Tara.

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Here Neeta (Supriya Choudhury) is a self-sacrificing women as opposed to a relentless Kavitha in Aval Oru Thodarkathai. Kavitha sacrifices in her own way too but Neeta is the one who’d immediately evoke sympathy from us. Supriya’s face doesn’t go out of my mind still. Such a brilliant actor. Even the very few time she seem to be having fun you know within yourself that something bad is going to happen to her eventually.

Lets see how cruel her family members were to her. First we hear a person practicing along the river coast, her brother, Shankar (Anil Chattopadhyay). That was an extended scene, the first thing which happens in the movie is Neeta being asked for money. Till the end it’s the same. Curiously, this movie doesn’t start with Neeta but rather with his brother Shankar. Shankar is the first man whom we get introduced to, who asks Neeta, money to shave from four anna to eight anna to a rupee. Neeta doesn’t have any problem giving it to him, in fact she’s happy, every time she said that he’s going to become a big star, I was cringing.

Next comes her younger brother and sister. Typical young people who don’t study and wants money for sports and sister who wants yet another saree to look good. All at the cost of her sister who couldn’t even afford to stich her sandal.  Her mom who curses people for wasting Neeta’s money and dad is the only one who doesn’t talk about her money. But in the next chapter when she gives money to her mother and she gives back five rupees as pocket money, only then we get to know how villainous she could be. So it’s all rotten for Neetu.

Then there is this guy, Sanat (Niranjan Ray), who is called Sanu, I don’t know whether that’s the Bengali way of pronouncing it like Vikram to Bikram. Of all he’s the most wretched guy. When he gets to the younger sister Gita (Gita Ghatak). I could only remember the dialogue which Kavitha says, “Mudhir kanniya vida elam vidhavai better nu nenachitingala.” Perfect! Also Gita looks very similar to Neeta, those wide eyes and round face. I thought they both were real sisters but I guess it’s typical Bengal face which was the similarity.

I didn’t expect Shankar to become big in the end, I loved the phase where Neetu gets TB and resorts herself inside the room, the rain in the end where truly overwhelming. If not, if only I had not watched Aval Oru Thodarkadhai, this experience would have been brilliant.