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!