Monday, April 6, 2009


I've been trying to get myself to blog some movie reviews, but just couldn't. Finally realised why: I didn't really have all that much to say about the movies I've watched in the past couple of weeks. So instead of a movie review, here's a snack pack of bite sized reviews :

Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu

Nice movie to watch; there were a number of elements that worked together well. The music was good, and the background score was also pretty decent. Looking forward to more stuff from Selvaganesh. A lot of fun moments in the movie, the tempo doesn't drop much. Casting is pretty good, a lot of new faces. My only qualm is the ending :  It was completely unnecessary and uncalled for. Having a melancholic ending isn't what makes a film good, and judging by the incongruity of this ending I'm guessing that's what the director thought. I don't regret watching it, I had a fun time. But wouldn't watch again.

TN 07 AL 4777 - TAXI

Hope I got the title right, typed that off memory. The random sounding title grabs attention, and I had some expectation for the film. The technical team for the film is very good, and the cut shots don't irritate unlike many recent movies. Vijay Anthony's background score is pretty sufficient for the film's subject. The scripting of the story is pretty weak, though. A lot of the screenplay falls apart due to cliche scenes and dialogues. Characterisation is very poor, and Pasupathy's character is confusing and I have no idea why does some of the things he does. By the end of the movie, it turns into a complete fable. The message is very contrived and irritating.  Heard that it's a remake of a Hindi movie, I have no idea how that movie was. Don't know how a popular movie can be remade and made into this. Completely annoying movie if you ask me.


Pretty nice movie to watch. The production values are good, and there seems to have been a significant budget, judging by the locales. Nowadays I just feel so good when I see a stylish movie that does not have any stupidly annoying cutshots. This multiple cutshot trend is something editor Anthony brought with him, but it's unfortunately something only Anthony can do properly. Most editors who imitate him create irritating sequences that hurt the eye. Even Anthony stumbles in some bad movies with immature cinematographers. Ayan scores in the department of cinematography and editing. The first stunt sequence in Congo is stunning, and is not far from the realism and pacing that u can see in some well made English movies. Harris Jeyaraj's background score is actually good. I can remember enjoying specific scenes, like the scene when the kanakku pillai is being interrogated; the flute piece was awesome. Tamanna's role was unnecessary, and the songs that she brought with her dragged the movie in some places. But I guess the movie would have been too serious without her role. There were some unnecesary double entendres that could have been avoided. The movie seems a bit too long towards the ending. Other than that, this is definitely a movie I don't mind watching again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Abiyum Naanum

I'm somewhat a fan of Radha Mohan's movies. Azhagiya Theeye, Ponniyin Selvan, and of course Mozhi, were all fairly unique ideas, and had entertaining dialogue. Abiyum Naanum continues the trend with a fairly unique premise, but I think the execution could have been better.

The basic premise of a father-daughter relationship is unique; in our Tamil cinema, it's the only permutation of father-mother-son-daughter that hasn't really been touched. There are a lot of cute scenes, especially in the beginning of the movie (before the daughter is older). The hot water scene is funny, and also adds to the plot. The school admissions scenes are a laugh riot, and classic Radhamohan/Viji. The casting is absolutely perfect, with each actor giving his/her best effort into the character. Aishwarya as the mother is the real surprise, with such a commendable performance. Thalaivaasal Vijay's character is a bit random, but he does whatever can be done to justify it.

Comparisons with Mozhi are inevitable, and I think there is a major difference I can see. Mozhi was astounding in the level of depth given to the basic premise. There were so many scenes that made me think, "Ippadi kooda yosika mudiyuma?" The scene in which Prithviraj tells Jyothika that he imagined that she had a voice, and that it's very beautiful, is so subtle in the idea it presents, and is something I would have never thought of without seeing the movie. There are countless scenes like this in Mozhi. In Abiyum Naanum, however, a lot of the plot seems fairly superficial. The emotional nuances I expected weren't there. The one exception is the beautiful scene in which Prakashraj and Aishwarya are talking at night, and Aishwarya appears weak for the first time in the movie.

Vaaranam Aayiram handled a father-son relationship, and Abiyum Naanum handles a father-daughter relationship. The basic conflicts of the plot are definitely different, but I think both movies suffer the same flaw, with Abiyum Naanum being guilty to a larger degree :  Oversimplification. In VA, if you think about it, the father wasn't well characterised. He was just a guy who said, "Go for it, kiddo" whatever the son says. There are fathers who give freedom, but Krishnan's character went a bit overboard in my opinion. Abiyum Naanum is guilty of this oversimplification to a much greater extent. The recurring element of the plot is that the father is constantly worried, and she is constantly correct in her life decisions. Even in VA, the son does mess up a bit, and the father helps him to recover. In Abiyum, the "I know what I'm doing, dad" routine happens way too many times.

The other major simplification was the mapillai's character. The scene in which Trisha describes all the good things he does is, I think, the greatest weakness in the movie. At that point, the movie shifts from something every father relates to, to a usual movie fantasy. No character is that perfect, and the fact that he is so perfect weakens the basic plot. The point to be made is not that all daughters always make the best decision in the world! The point is that, even if they might make mistakes, parents should allow them the freedom to do what they want. The plot would have been stronger if the mapillai had not been Punjabi, and had been a normal guy with some flaws. Instead, the father has been turned into a xenophobic idiot who is just superficially judging him, and deep inside he is a very nice guy. This severely weakens the plot, and turns all the characters into caricatures. I know that cinema is all about exaggeration. Without it, a lifetime cannot be captured in 2 hours. But the film maker must always keep in mind that the larger the exaggeration, the more you are separating the movie from the viewers, and the less they can relate to it. 

If the second half of the plot had been handled more sensitively and realistically, this may have been one of the really good movies of the year. It has a good premise, and some very good performances. The entertainment quotient is there, as is usual in Radha Mohan's movies. So do watch it if you haven't, but I don't think this is a movie I'll watch a second time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Overlooked Songs

Most of us are partial to one particular composer, or a very small number. We await the upcoming projects of these composers eagerly, and are entirely composed by their music. For me, this includes A.R. Rahman, Harris Jeyaraj and to some extent Yuvan Shankar Raja. But we often ignore some composers completely, as we feel they have nothing of interest to offer us. I almost always completely ignore composers like Imaan or Vijay Anthony, as their music never clicked with me that much. However, even such composers have come up with a few gems, and I thought I will list a few such songs that come to mind for each composer:

[I'm not going to include A.R. Rahman, Yuvan, and Ilayaraaja in this list as there are just too many such songs]

Azhagiya Asura - Whistle
Thavan Ondru - ABCD

Vijay Anthony
Roja Poovin - By2/Iruvar Mattum
Suppose Unnai - Sukran

Devi Sri Prasad
Thanthirane - Mayavi
Jalsa - Villu (Tamil) /Jalsa (Telugu)

Premji Amaren
Hesarina - Nannusire (Kannada)
Neenu Nanagaagi - Nannusire (Kannada)

Ramesh Vinayagam
Nenje Thullipo - University
Hollywood - Jerry

Jana Gana Mana - February 14

Theradi Veethiyil - Run
Kanden Kanden - Pirivom Santhipom

Deepak Dev
Needhana - Sadhu Mirandal

Etho Nadakuthu - Parijatham
Oh Nenje - Sivi

G.V. Prakash
Dhaiyare Dhaiya - Vellithirai
Kallil Aadum - Ananda Thaandavam

Karthik Raja
Saravanabava - Kadhala Kadhala
Kalkona Udhatukaari - Oru Ponnu Oru Paiyan

Alaigalin Osai - Rameshwaram

Note : I made a conscious attempt to avoid songs most people already know about. ie Listing Dharan's Unnai Kandane or Vidhyasagar's Kaatrin Mozhi or Ramesh Vinayagam's Vizhigalin Aruginil is pretty pointless, since you probably already know these songs. My point in this post was to highlight songs that went unnoticed, but carry merit.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fly, You Fools!

Haha, I got consolation on the Fly, You Fools caption contest!

Saturday, February 28, 2009


In the year 2020...

On the set of another reality show...

Host: Welcome back to Ungalil Yaar Adutha Kalaimamani! All the competitors have finished their performances, and it is time for the judges to reveal this week's winner and elimination.

Guest judge Jeeva : I would like to come onto the stage.

Other judges : Aarambichutaanya... Intha guest judges stage-ukku ponaale elimination illanu artham..

Jeeva : All of you danced very well. The elimination is... erm... Master, I feel very bad, let's just give the Kalaimamani to all 8 of them!

Host : Wow, all 8 of them have been awarded the Kalaimamani! This isn't a simple achievement, contestants, only 3 million people have gotten it before!

In a school compound...

Student A : Dei, I've been selected as the Role Model student for 3rd Grade!

Student B : Che, all I got was a Kalaimamani!

Student A : Aiyo paavam, how could they do that to you?

Student B : I don't know, I think it's because I didn't hand in some assignments. Romba avamaanama irukuda. Everyone's making fun of me, they're writing my name on all the toilet walls!

Student A : I really feel bad for you man...

On a poster on the road...

"Vote for me! I promise you sweeping reforms! Not only that, if I win, I promise that each household will get a Kalaimamani! Veetukku oru Kalaimamani! I can feel the pain of the common man, that he does not have a Kalaimamani. If you vote for me, I will make the Kalaimamani award available at your nearest Ration Kadai!"

On the news...

News anchor : A new twist in the Kalaimamani awards this year; the number of awards given out this year has fallen compared to last year, to a lowly 9500! This is the first time in years that the number of awards has fallen below 10,000. The announcement was met with riots in the streets and the burning of buses. The Chief Minister commented upon the decision.

Chief Minister : We have tried our best to hand out awards despite the current crisis. We were unable to find any people in Tamil Nadu who have yet to get the award, and have resorted to bringing in immigrants just so that we can award them. I'm pleased to announce that Kumari Paris Hilton has agreed to take up Indian citizenship, and that she is in this year's award list.

Opposition Leader : This is injustice! When there are so many poor people in our slums, how can he give the Kalaimamani to other citizens! Is the Chief Minister blind to their needs! Doesn't he know they crave the award too!

News Anchor : In a new twist of events, Sandhana Kadathal Veerappan has been posthumously awarded the newly created Kolai-mamani award. Having appeared on TV more than any of the stars receiving the Kalaimamani, he truly deserves the award!


If you guys don't know what I'm talking abt, check this out. The award is becoming a joke, and an insult. As Vinith pointed out, if they are giving the award to both Kanja Karuppu and Saroja Devi, they might as well go on to give it to J.K. Ritheesh!

And about the first scenario, those who saw Ungalil Yaar Adutha Prabhudeva last week will know what I'm talking about. This "no elimination" nonsense is getting on my nerves. The only situation for no elimination is when everyobody is so good that you can't decide. If two idiots screwed up, and you can't decide who to eliminate, eliminate both!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I saw the movie over a week ago, and read the script online a few days ago. This is the second movie script I have read after watching the movie, and it is quite a different experience. It consists of way more than dialogues; the scriptwriters write their descriptions like novelists, and bring life to the inner emotions that are not spoken. I guess this makes it easier for the director and the actors to connect to the writer's intention. If you haven't done so yet, check out It has a nice collection of full movie scripts, and it is quite enjoyable to read the script of a movie you just watched.

As for the movie itself, it was enjoyable to watch, though the movie is far from perfect. I liked the performance of Julia Ormond as Daisy's daughter; she looked very natural (and surprisingly young) in the role. The flow of the script is good, without any excessively slow portions. 

Brad Pitt did a decent job, though I didn't think it was very memorable. His personality stayed pretty much the same throughout. His characterisation was quite weak; I think the writers just left his characterisation as "guy who ages backwards". But how about who he is as a person? We never get to know. There was an interesting lead about how he grew up seeing death around him, but the issue is never fleshed out to show how that makes him who he is.  

Cate Blanchett's performance is significantly more impressive, as is her character. Daisy shows a wonderful range of personality changes as she ages, going from a carefree girl in her 20s to a tired woman in her 30s to a dignified lady in the later parts of the movie. Because the writers weren't distracted by a basic premise like they were for Benjamin, they have fleshed her character out so well.

The main feeling I got in the movie is one of lost potential. There were a lot of things that started to develop and were dropped halfway. The clock that ages backwards was a symbol that could have been used more, and the link to Benjamin's life should have been a lot tighter, more than just "both go backwards". I still don't know what the hummingbird is supposed to represent in the movie. Like I mentioned earlier, Benjamin's characterisation is poor, which is a pity. With such a bizarre character trait, a lot more aspects of his personality could have been fully explored. There is a message of "Live life to the fullest" in the movie, but I could never see how that tied in with Benjamin's bizarre character trait. True, he learnt that from the people he saw in life, and those parts do tie together nicely. But why would he have not learnt these exact things if he had aged properly? At the end of the movie, he sounds like an old man who has seen life, which is what he is. But why does he sound like any other old man? How did aging backwards change his view? What was the point of the fundamental premise of the movie, if it is irrelevant to the conclusion? There, to me, lies the basic problem of the movie.

I did enjoy the movie, but not as much I had hoped to. The movie tried to provoke me, or teach me a message of living life, but it didn't quite connect with me. I have yet to watch Slumdog Millionaire, the other big Oscar movie. Need to catch it sometime soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ilayaraaja vs A.R. Rahman

There has been a very interesting discussion ongoing about Ilayaraaja and A.R. Rahman on two blogs I respect deeply, Suresh's Yours Musically, and Emjay's 7swara.

I have said much of what I feel in the comments pages of these posts, I just wish to reproduce here one of my comments to another blog post on Emjay's blog.

I, too, am speechless at the level of pure "aathanggam" evidenced by the search queries. 

I agree with all that people say about Ilayaraaja's talent and legacy, and I understand the silent pain that he hasn't been recognised internationally.

But at a time like this when an Indian has won the Oscars, two at one go, it is surely a moment for pure awe and pride. When Abinav Bindra won the Gold at the Olympics, nobody asked "Why didn't P.T. Usha win in 1984? The swim team trains so many times a week, why haven't they been recognised?". When he won, we were all proud of him and felt a sense of awe and wonderment at the achievement. But when Rahman won the Oscars, the fact that the first thought of some people is to search for these terms on the net is plainly disgusting. 

Raaja-vai veriyoda rasippathu veru, Rahman-ai veriyodu veruppathu veru. The two are not the same, and the latter is quite a sad state of affairs. Just my opinion.

I think there is a clear distinction to be made between a person who likes a certain composer and a person who hates all other composers actively. Feeling bad that your idol doesn't have recognition is one thing. Getting angry and indignant when another composer gets an award is closer to the behaviour of an extremist/crazed fanatic than to that of a fan or music lover.

Not all music is equal, and (to quote Orwell) some are more equal than others. Some people like Rahman, some like Ilayaraaja. Some enjoy the western rap interludes of Yuvan, some like the smooth pop feel of Harris, some enjoy the gaana of Deva. There is nothing wrong with that; if art wasn't subjective, it would lose its beauty. But please, let's get this hatred out of the way.