Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review time - Kaakkaa muttai

There are certain movies which are a delight to watch and are even more delightful to write about. Any one who watched Kaakkaa muttai ( Crow's egg) would want to write about it and go ga-ga all about the movie. Its that kind of movie that wants you to relish writing about it as much as watching it.

Ennathaan chandelier strewn five star, seven star hotels and restaurants ponaalum, nothing beats the romance of a candle light dinner illaya. At times, the simplest form of anything charms everyone. Fact that, as compared against big budget releases with mega production values, this movie standa heads and shoulders above them in box office collections is a phenomenon in itself. Touted as an art movie, for its mere mistake that it won a bunch of awards in international circuits before its release in TN, it donned the obvious yet unwanted image of being a sob story or emotional knocker ala other movies which are based on the life of slum people. The same kind of happiness that one gets by watching his favourite team wins can be cherished by looking at the success of this movie.

If there is a list of ten most beautiful things in the world, smile of children would rank right on top of it. The movie poster carries not one, but two kids smiling and smiling big they are. You wouldnt know the reason behind that smile. Nor is it noticable in a marquee scene in the movie. But, when you finish watching the movie, you realize the reason behind that smile. It has shades of innocence, mission accomplished gratification, sense of victory and above all satisfaction with a tinge of pride.

Storywise its pretty simple. A pizza shop comes up on the place of what was a playground for slum children. Lookint at Simbu, the actor, trying out a slice of Pizza, two kids take up fancy to it and make it their mission to have a pizza. How they go about earning money for it and what are the obstacles they face in their mission forms the story. They do succesd in their mission, but the realization that dawns after tasting the pizza tells many an untold ending for the movie. You can call the script brilliant, intelligent, emotional, funny with as realistic a premise as possible and every single one of the adjective is justifiable. It has multiple layers as well, with something for everyone. A slight dig at globalization, insensitive media, corrupt politicos, corporate greed, callousness towards public space, apathy towards slum dwellers and above all misconceptions about their psyche. Every single scene is so well thought out that it feels a compelling watch multiple times. Best part about the movie being that, despite all the inherent negativity, it oozes with positivity and is pretty heartening a watch.

Kudos to those two kids, the elder one for bringing out the azhukku paiyyan in our nearest slum and the younger one who is the darling of the movie. He looks so cute and genuine and funny and honest as a kid. Having been forced on a steady supply of reality shows exploiting innocence in kids, its really refreshing to see kids being kids on screen in a really long time. I loved the stylish way the younger one says."hi..my name is kaakka muttai. naan chinnna kaakka muttai..ivan peria kaakka muttai". Human relations are such a complex subject that, you can make reams and reams of storylines based on them. The interwoven equation between the paati with heart of gold and her love for the kuttipaiyans, her relation with her daughter in law, their pet quarrels and respect for each other, the love for her jailed husband despite his misgivings, a dad's love for his kids, despite not being able to see them in person, a kids fantasy for cellphone innocently ranking it above their dad's release, everything stands out spectacularly in such a small frame. Songs are also unhampering to the watching experience. The crowning glory of the movie is the final dialog when the kids say that the dosai prepared by their paatti is far better than the pizza was simply wow. Couldn't resist clapping :)

Gils verdict: Please watch it. You will enjoy it for sure.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review time - OK kanmani

A while back i had posted a review about this movie which i hadnt seen at that time and had mentioned that it was a comment on the lifestyle prescribed by the story rather than on the movie itself. Now that i've seen that movie, after numerous pauses and breaks, padatha pathiyum oru naalu vaarthai post panalaamnu thaan :)

Shabbba....innuma mudialaaa...was the feeling when the movie was nearing climax, if at all it had one!! Motha padamum name roll scrollerla vara cartoon solliduthu. Rest of the scenes are mere fillers. Romantic stories are mostly fantasies where the cutest looking heroine falls for the hottest guy. The kind of conversations they've are possible only in la la land. Kandathum Kaadhal ok. Kondathum Koodal is stretching the non existent logical thread a wee bit too far. Even in Romedy now movies, they take a while before jumping into bed. A commitment phobic couple starts a live in relation on a rented accomodation, run by a ultra committed elderly couple and finally end up getting married. Ashtey storylu.

First scenela heroine attempts suicide. Ennada matter paatha, ex-lover was into her for her money and athunala manasu udanju she attempts tharkolai. I guess intha mathiri oru padam nadikka accept pannathu kooda reasona irukalam. ARR claimed he used fillers for the hit song "Mental Manadhil" without waiting for Vairamuthu, in his absence. Probably Mani did the same with the screen play. Without waiting for a story to form, he signed up, yuppy looking Dulquer and yummy looking Nithya Menon. Did a few candid shots of them roaming Mumbai rain drenched on  bike and jeep. Suddenly realises he needs someone to do the senti scenes and ropes in Prakash raj and Leela Samson. Guess Leela's character, suffering from alzheimer, is reminiscent of how Mani felt while making the movie. Paathi neram she gets lost in Mumbai traffic only to be rescued by the lead pair. Kadisila they run out of areas for her to get lost or probably Nithya Menon would've said the same to Mani and the movie ends in subam with the lead pair getting married. Dulquer looks hyper in every single romantic scene, probably the carryover effect of signing up for a Mani movie. But looks confused towards the end as to is this what he signed up for!! Prakash raj paavam...has that "baaeee" look all throughout, wondering naan paatukka sivanaynu thaanda irunthen..enna edhuku ithula maati udreenga.

ARR-Mani combo usually strikes big time in songs and are mostly visually stunning if not arresting. Intha padathula you dont even realise when they come and when they go, but the movie goes on forever. May be to over repent for showing pre marital "matter" scenes as an acceptable practice amongst youths, Mani makes the commitment phobic couple, not just marry, but also have 2 kids in the end. Just to avoid any further damage to the image market of the lead pair, all these happens in cartoon form.

Mothathula, enna solla varaanganna, kalyanathuku munnadi enna venaa aattam podalam. Kalyanamaya venaamnu kooda sollalam..matter pannalam. Kadisila samsara sagathula vizhunthu thaan aganum enbathay kathai surukkam.

Gils verdict: Vijay tvla poatta paaka try pannunga, unless no other good movie is playing parallel on other channels.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A subject's predicate

Of the few subjects that i really liked in my school days, history topped the chart followed by Tamil. To read about wars and battles and stories of valour courage and wealth, it was refreshing a change from the other dull subjects which were primed for competition. Be it any board, no one bothers about  your score on these two subjects. Infact, if you score less on these two as compared to maths and sciences, you are right on track to achieve your life's ambition of securing top honours in public exam. History na "hi" story ..apdinu enjoy panni padikalam. Little did i realize then how true that anagram was. With every change in government, history the subject, is under constant assault. Each ruling party wanting to project their own leaders as the ones who won freedom for India, students are forever in confusion. More than a plus b whole square formulae, more than bivalent chemical bonding involving molecular and molar mass, more than inertia,mass, momentum riddles, i felt very close with reality when studying history. With passing years, it helped in forming perspectives. It helped in strengthening point of view scenarios which showed same situation in different lights. It helped in understanding the mistakes made before.

The marketing genius of America is evident from the fact that, when i went to chimney rock, i was shocked at the level of commercialization of what they called as their history. For a country which is a little over 3 centuries old, they do cry a lot about history. It was nothing but a rock with a lift carved in, with the stars n stripes flag perched on top of it. And it had also featured in a movie or two and the rock as such was barely a century old!! They were charging about 25$ entry fee for this nothing place and guess what..they even had souvenir shop selling tshirts and goodies!! I was stumped by the creative genius behind that setup who can sell a 100 year rock with a flag on it as a tourist attraction. That Pullyaar kovil at the end of my street is 3 centuries old, probably been there before American independence and ketpaar atru is in a dilapidated shape. Somehow there is a general public hatred or negligence for anything of historic value in India is my opinion. There are so many artefacts which would be considered as treasures by westeners are lying un-protected and uncared for in our country. Till the time panjaloga idols are stolen and sold abroad, no one realizes their worth. People shamelessly steal bricks and stone from temples that are thousands of years old to build their home.

Wish the history syllabus is revamped to include marvels about our own art and architecture rather than dabbling on renaissance and crap. Not that it should not be learnt, but when we have even richer and more ancient heritage that can fill up several volumes of books, why not give preference to learn them better and in detail than about cultures which were not even formed when ours were in the decline. By the time my kid takes up studies i wish i could locate some authentic sources of history for them to learn and cherish and enjoy. I wish they take pride in being associated with a culture that is several millenia old and learn about it more in detail. If they could become archaeologists or some historians i would be all the more happy :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Invisible invaders

Avvvv...epdilaam title vachu kadaiya oatta vendirukku.

Trigger for this post originated from "Great zoo of China" book by Matthew Reilly - an author who is a shameless masala story writer. All his novels will have adrenalin pumping action sequences and even nukes can't kill his lead characters..seriously!!! Two chapters into the novel it was clear that its a cheap take on Jurassic park. Replace dinosaus with dragon the rest of the story fills by itself. Infact, in the QnA section at the end, he himself had confessed the same and had pointed out how different his novel is from Crichton's version by highlighting the variance. To his credit, he was openly critical about China and its policies and was never ambiguous in his remarks. One such remark triggered the cue for this post - the reason why China would be the right country to form the dragon zoo and his justifications.

Its common knowledge that whatever US does China wants to do it, cheaper if not better. They hosted the costliest ever olympics with a spectacle that would awe the aliens. Chinese are the equivalent of brute force algorithm, who can get things done, without any heed to the consequences. Its this singular point of China trying to play catchup with US that was the sole noteworthy aspect about that otherwise mokka book. For a country that is already displacing US from the game of economic throne, why would it still be viewed with doubt and suspicion by the whole world? Russia for all its nuke might, failed to compete successfully against the Americans. They matched them spy for spy, even went oneup on space race. Still lagged behind on one area - promotion. Americans, if not anything are world leaders in marketing and sales. Else how can one explain an operating system that was nothing better than a trial version beta software, sold world over and customers became real time testers of that software. Gates gate crashed into IT induestry through his Windows sheerly by the strength of his marketing and sales team. Like a smitten fan, China relentlessly follow the American model and they've taken notes on where the Russians failed. The PR arm of PLA is as strong if not stronger than its standing army.

Situated several thousands of miles away, separated by every single ocean and mountain, without firing a single shot or setting a soldier on loose, Americans have invaded every single inhabited land scape with their culture. What was Vada Paav to common man was rebranded as Burger and knowingly they were sold a dummy. Worst being Jumbo king chains, aping the Big M, patenting the same old paav. Had they came up with the idea prior to MacDee setting foot in Mumbai, it would've been a fight to finish. For a country that is half filled with immigrants, they teach the world fashion. If size zero is proclaimed the in thing, the rest of the fashionistas starve themselves to death. Vellaiya iruakaravan poi solla maattaannu not just us, the entire world believes. For China or India (with luck and pluck) to displace America as the superpower, its not enough if we steal their jobs or become the manufacturing hub or build more planes and ships and nukes or consume more electricity or the least of all make high budget movies. Rather than following every single thing they do, these two should take only leaf from their book - marketing. With civilizations aging from stone age till present, there is not a thing that India or China hasnt seen that a 300 year old country has. Having a higher GDP is temporary, but making a mark in world stage and creating the belief that we mean business..well..with right amount of confidence and cunning, its easily doable.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Close encounters of the alien kind

The sky blinked.

At least to the onlookers that's how it looked. It was as if a ferry wheel had gone horizontal in space with serial lights abound. Some of the colours emanating from the light source didn't even had any names in known human history. It drew all kinds of crowd of onlookers, those who were spooked with curiosity, adventure, thrill and sheer fear of what's going to happen next. Science station call desks were ringing non stop and all government agencies were on high alert. The space craft hovered across the continents and decided to send their alien representative to make an assessment of which country to make the landing. After a short while the representatives gathered back with their feedback.

The alien that went to America had a transporter software malfunction and it landed in a movie theatre. It was surprised to find that the Americans had already predicted its arrival and had in fact made a movie out of it!! That alien character in the movie had a weird hairdo and bulging eyes and was looking nothing like their clan. It went to lady Gaga show, had the shock of its life and nearly fainted looking at her wardrobe. Some of the Americans were more weird than any of the life forms it had met in other planets. In fact, it learned more about their culture and land from Americans, who for some reasons were so fond of aliens. Then it went to the famed area 51 which was a secret place known to everyone in America. When it landed, the immigration official handed a form which had several categories for alien listed in it, which confirmed its belief that USA is already taken over by aliens.

The alien that went to China got arrested and couldn't reach out to the mother ship. All possible modes of communication were blocked and the state news agency Xinhua carried a 4 line article on a possible American spy trying to create trouble.

The alien that went to Russia went missing and was believed to be in Siberian labour camp. While the rumour in Moscow was that Putin has taken the alien as hostage and is discussing deal with the mother ship that the aliens should agree to erect a statue of Putin in alien garb and to give a written statement that he is the greatest, which would be promptly snubbed by the western media.

The alien that went to Europe got lost in translation. It took a short nap on Eurostar and whenever it woke up it was in a different country. It came back astounded that a country that is no bigger than few streets cobbled together was once the empire of the world!! It rushed back to the mother ship with this critical information.

The alien that landed in middle east was stoned to death for not sporting a beard.

The aliens in the mother ship, were eagerly awaiting the return of the one that went to India. It didn't come for a long time. While there was a debate about launching a possible rescue mission, one of the aliens secretly released the news about missing alien to India media. Rest was history. The leading English channels all ran twitter campaigns as to how in the current government, aliens and minorities of any form are insecure. There were candle light vigils, news hour debates and some even went to the extent of ordering for a CBI enquiry, which scared the heck out of the aliens who were marvelling at the super powers bestowed with CBI!!! The entire charade went for 2 days and the moment India Bangladesh cricket series began, everything were forgotten. The aliens cursing themselves, re-sent the rescue team who found the missing alien happily residing in Lutyens lane in New Delhi. When enquired, it said the residing MP had taken bribe and has given his residence for rent to the alien. It had even got  Aadhar card and had opened bank account for gas subsidy. It suggested fellow aliens to settle in India, open a new party and contest in next general elections.

Satyameva Jayate.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Review time - DeMonte colony

What is the definition of a standard horror thriller movie?

Bunch of friends, including a couple, who in all probability will be the lead pair. There will be one haughty and arrogant character who would be forever at odds with a meek one of the group. No one would know why such an arrogant ass whom no one likes sticks to the group, yet he would be the last but one person to die in the end. There would be an annoying female who would be there just to bring up the glam quotient in the movie and to die in the most horrible and inventive of ways. There would be one mysterious personality who would be forever carrying some dubba secret, only to reveal it in the end and die or incase if he is the lead character would outwit the ghost, only to be killed by a screaming truck as the name rolls begin on the screen. And yes, there would be rain. Somehow, its not a horror movie, if not copious amount of precipitation happens, either in the form of rain or blood or sweat or whatever else you are thinking. Peilaam summerla winterla varaathu pola. Needless to say after all this build up that, DeMonte colony breaks every single one of the cliché mentioned above.

Offlate, tamil movie directors have taken a fancy for horror comedy which are basically comedy movies for 3/4th the time only to have an emotional flashback and mandatory pei dance where the lead character kills the villain and then subam card is shown with a hint of possible sequel, depending upon the box office collections. Firstly, kudos to the director of Demonte colony for breaking this trend and coming up with an out and out horror thriller. When I was watching the movie, the only thing that stuck me scene after scene into the climax was, how the heck he would've narrated the story!!!! WOW. Unpredictable is hardly the word to define. Guess, the screenplay crew would've sat down and written all possible combinations, chosen the most generic option possible and framed every single second of it in opposite!! Its unimaginably original. Unwaveringly faithful to the theme and is unabashedly creative!! It runs just over 2 hours time and majority of the movie happens within a room!! Over 3/4th of the movie involves just 3 people talking terror stricken to each other within that room!! There was only one song in the movie that too comes right at the beginning when the characters were getting established. Rain makes a mandatory appearance, as per horror movie norms, but more as a character.

I've begun to like Arulnithi for his sheer knack of choosing his scripts. Coming from the DMK stables, he always carries the prejudice of many. But barring his first 2 movies, almost all his movies have been noteworthy and stand out scripts. Be it Mounaguru or Oru kanniyum Moonu kalavaniyum, his effort shines. He appears really psyched and scared and so are the other three folks which brings authenticity to the proceedings. The strength of the story is in its originality where I believe, even the actors appear unaware of what happens next. There is a hint of things to happen and it changes and there is a twist which is again climaxed by another and it goes on and on. It spooks the thrill out of the audience not knowing how it will end. The anti-climax is the best and only possible result for such a movie where the ghost wins in the end and of course everyone dies gruesomely. Had the movie been trimmed by few more minutes and made bit more racy by avoiding repeat of same scenes, it would've been an fantastic one. This is probably the best horror thriller for 2015 with a long way to go till the year to end.

Gils verdict: Must for horror movie buffs. A really spooky one in tamil in a long long time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Tale of two Countries

If at all there was ever a movie made with countries formation as subject, these two would give any of Manmohan Desai's seperated at birth stories a run for their bollywood money.

Both the countries were born out of bloodshed and partition. Almost at around same time.
Both the countries are surrounded by oil rich nations while in a cruel luck of fate they barely have any source of Crude in their own land.
Both countries have been involved in so many wars since formation. While one has been victorious in almost all its wars, the other has officially never been declared a winner.
Both are involved in proxy war with their neighbours.
While one of them is officially branded a terrorist state by international community unanimously, the other, despite following a similar approach towards fellow nations, has often been pardoned by the world community, if not by heart, atleast in letter.
Both share generous patronage of Uncle Sam.
Both are forever prone to terror attacks and strikes.
While both had clandestine nuke programs, one was forced its hand by its neighbour while the other is about to experience the same. Will be interesting to note its reaction.
Both the countries are ruled by hardwingers from both flanks.
Finally, both are not secular nations, with both their religions often at epicenter of havoc and chaos and their religions couldnt be at any farther a distance in a religious spectrum. Guess what, even with their cultures being poles apart, the people of both countries, with their long flowing beards and skull caps, are almost similar in their attire and getup.

Welcome to Israel and Pakistan - the enfant terrible twins of world politics. In past 6 decades or ever since their formation, hardly has a year gone by without a mention about either of these two, but rarely for the right reasons. There similarities couldnt be anymore striking than their differences. If holocaust claimed 7 mill. Jews throw in a mill. more who were killed due to various other wars and terror acts, the partition of '47 claimed several times that count and several more mill. are left unaccounted for. Probably, in the chronological order of human devastations, partition of '47 would be the bloodiest, even more than both the world wars put together.

While the world community always views the misdeeds of Israel with a touchpoint to holocaust, Pak never had that advantage with its only leverage being the dragon country, forever trying to contain the sleeping elephant.

Their history couldnt be any more similar alongside their geographies. But the future of world as a community is hanging by the mere thread of the sanity of these two. They are those powerkegs which can destroy the world, yet at the same time, contribute towards THE most cohesive world body if their differences can be put aside. For the concept of One world to survive, these two younsgter countries should mature fast in their approach towards their neighbours and push for peace rather than trigger.