A fan mail…

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images courtesy: wikipedia

I grew up hero-worshipping Kamal Haasan. During my school days, every situation called for a quote from his movies.

But my movie watching hit a lull in the past few years. With my days revolving around my 11-year old’s schedule, it’s really difficult to include a 3 hour movie to my list of drops & pick-ups.

But slowly I’ve been getting back. Having missed a lot of his movies like Vettaiyaadu vilaiyadu, Manamadhan Ambu, Vishwaroopam, etc, I managed to catch Utthama Villain & Papanasam.

I came out of both the movies feeling very depressed.

Papanasam more than Utthama Villain.

A friend had told me he had walked out of Utthama Villain (UV) because he couldn’t take Kamal’s Narscism. And he highly recommended Papanasam because he felt the script was so brilliant and for once, Kamal had put the script before himself.

But I felt the opposite. I kind of enjoyed UV because Kamal delivered what was expected of him. He is one of the best actors in the country & he is larger than life. UV was him accepting that his days of glory are on the wane. Yes, the whole movie was about him and only him. But I quite enjoyed the movie because it had shades of him I had enjoyed during my growing-up years.

Only thing I did not enjoy was his looks. Though he portrayed an ageing actor coming to terms with his own mortality and played more or less a character close to his real age, he looked… how do I put it? Odd. I felt his head was disproportionately big for his body, his eyes were noticeably bulgy and his face has totally lost his charisma.

In Papanasam, he had obviously done a fabulous job. He put the script before him, yes. But he cannot play a common man! (Of course he did play the actual common man in Unnai pol oruvan, but he was a common man with an uncommon plan. He was so regal in every frame).

But here, something about his bulging eyes, strained smile and a latent power didn’t convince me that he was the caring father and husband trying to protect his family. It was as if he was a super hero who was forced to be a normal guy and was not allowed to use his super powers.

Was this the same Kamal who mesmerised me in Nayagan? Is this the same performer who had enthralled me in Salangai Oli?  Is this the same actor who had me in splits in Indran Chandran? Is this the same fabulous actor who portrayed 4 characters so brilliantly in Michael Madan Kama Rajan?

In most of the above mentioned movies, he had played characters on the wrong side of fifty. But how dignifiedly charismatic he had looked as an older man in those movies!

Now that he’s closer to that age in real life, it pains me to see him trying to stubbornly hold on to his fading youth.

After watching Papanasam yesterday, I was surfing the channels morosely late into the night. I chanced upon Nayagan. It was as if someone from above wanted to cheer me up!

What a movie! What a performance! This is the Kamal I used to watch with wide eyes and mouth agape. This is the Kamal Haasan we quoted verbatim.

We got goose bumps when he marched the streets with his fellow-men to teach the seth a lesson. We melted when he falls for Saranya. We wept when he tried to answer his grandson’s unforgettable question in the last scene…

But I just cannot relate this sad caricature of an actor to that legend.

Please Kamal sir, live on as the one and only Velu Nayakkar in our hearts… as upright dancer Balu… as the star-crossed lover Vasu… as chappani… as the dark hero Dilip…

Don’t make us lament your fall as Suyambu or Manoranjan…

Please come back when older, to play weighty roles like Mr. Bachchan.

His in-between Shehenshah days are not for you.

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Endhiran- Movie Review

A few years ago, I had been to a wedding in a popular hotel in the city.  The adjacent banquet hall was also hosting a wedding. But the difference was, the bride was an actor’s daughter.

Not surprisingly, the hotel was packed with fans from the gates almost till the banquet hall, eagerly awaiting their favourite stars’ entries. Every single one of them was armed with their mobile phones, aimed and ready to capture their demi gods.

I had to go down a spiral stair-case to reach my destination. Holding on to my sari dearly, clutching the gift in one hand and making sure my two and a half feet son was holding on to his dad and not  getting stamped upon by eager fans, I went down the steps rather nervously. When I was mid-way, all the cameras started clicking violently and  there was a major commotion. It was all a flurry of  flashes and people brushing past me up the stairs and excited screams of people. As I neared the lower level I saw our own T.R. waving to his fans both sides and climbing up the stairs in style.

Later, on the way back home I shared my amazement with my husband, about how T.R. was still so popular.

“The crowd just went wild, didn’t they?” I asked him. “There was total madness and people literally pushed me off the stairs to get a glimpse of him!”

I lurched forward as he screeched on the brakes. “Get off my car. Take an auto!” he said in an even voice.

“What? Why???” I looked at him in confusion.

“You thought the fans went mad like that for TR? Didn’t you see Rajnikanth coming up the stairs? He brushed against you, for heaven’s sake!”

“WHAT????” I squealed.

“Yes! And he was right there wearing a white kurta, inches away from you, blind bat!”

All I remembered was a flurry of white and lots of men running up.

How did I miss him, I wondered in amazement.

*********

Seeing Endhiran took me back to that day.

Rajnikanth is not  numero uno for nothing. He makes no bones about his age. He’s definitely not handsome in the conventional way.

But his energy and screen presence more than make up for any lack.

My son is not very comfortable watching movies in the theatre. At 6, he’s still terrified of the noise. Last time, after barely settling down in my seat, I had to carry him home sobbing because he was terrified of Nazar’s introductory scene in a movie, thanks to the dramatic (and ear-shattering) music and  wide-angle, tight close-ups!

He came along this time because he’s older now and he’d seen the trailers and loved the fighting.

After 10 minutes into the movie, he turned to me and broke the awed silence in the theatre by asking me rather  loudly, ‘Amma! who is Rajnikanth?” Terrified I may get lynched, I whispered, “Sh… You just saw him. He’s the scientist…”

The three hours we spent in the theatre was gripping to say the least. From the beginning to end there was no slack in the story.  I’m not getting into the story because its been too widely written about.

The movie is illogical in a few places (like how can a machine fall in love??? puleaaase!) but thoroughly entertaining. Every scene is a visual treat.

I’d read reviews about Ash looking really aged in Raavan, but here she was as glamorous as ever and what clothes!

The songs are nothing to write home about (not one is hummable or memorable) but the picturisation and the locations literally took my breath away! Wow!

On the whole it is a must-watch for Rajni fans. And I suppose this is the second film Shankar has actually moved from his oft -repeated Robinhood theme. (Jeans being the first)

The special effects are mind-blowing. Truly international. Danny is uber-cool. And Sujatha’s dialogues are brilliant.

But  I feel the comedy track doesn’t really gel.

My son jumped on to my lap when Danny’s robot tried to kill him. He started screaming “This is scary, Amma! Take me home!! Now!”

When I tried to calm him down and told him I wanted to see the movie, he screamed even louder “You can see it on TV! It’ll come on POGO! Please, Amma!”

A bribe of more Pepsi worked wonders(I know, I know, I’m a bad mother. But what to do? I had no intention walking away from the movie half way through) and in the climax scene, even he was glued to the screen. “Amma, this is so awesome!” he said, wonder-struck as all the Rajni robots joined together in magnificent formations. The snake particularly was big hit with him.

Oh I just loved the evil Rajni! What style! What elan! Nobody could have done this role but him. I couldn’t help clapping and screaming to his manic laughter, much to my son’s disgust.

The climax and the ending were just brilliant. Like I said, the movie did not slack even a bit.

If I ever see him in person again, I may just fall at his feet and yell, “Thalaivaa!!!! Konnutteenga!!

My name is Khan….

I went for this movie with mixed feelings.

First of all, will it live up to the hype that has been created around it?

Will it be too emotional/melodramatic for me?

Or will I sit back and enjoy the usual magic of Shah Rukh all over  again?

Well, the answers are as mixed up as the questions themselves…

The whole movie boils down to just one sentence. (Oft repeated in the movie, of course!)

“My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”

Visually, K Jo has created his magic without his usual lavish sets. Its minimal, but very pleasing to the eye. The camera work is just awesome.

Kajol is a big plus for the movie. I cannot imagine anybody else in this role. Her enthusiasm and fiery emotions are all so infectious.

The storyline, though not the first of its kind, holds you captive for the entire length of the movie… Very poignant in some places, funny in some and really heart-warming in some.

The screen play is brilliant. (A 50ish man next to me kept applauding every time Sharukh delivered a punch.. Though I didn’t look, I heard him sniffing and blowing his nose more than once…)

Having said all that, I must admit  the Shah Rukh fan in me was grossly disappointed.  He was hamming a bit too much, I thought. And there were moments which were so forced. Like the Mama Jenny, for instance. That was a truly WTF moment for me. (Sorry, people! But don’t know how else to put it!)

And I open the Indian Express today, and I saw Bharadwaj Rangan’s review and I just cannot agree with him more. He laments that Karan Johar is forcing himself to do serious, realistic and un-Indian  movies and is losing touch with his usual Indian sentimental extravaganza..

In his own words,

‘I hope he returns to chronicling the lives and loves of people, leaving issue-oriented narratives to directors more suited to dour message-movies seeking to rehabilitate a world stricken with ills. Come on, Mr. Johar, be yourself. Raise a hand and repeat: “My name is Karan, and I am not a therapist.”’

I do too, Mr. Bharadwaj, I really do.

Rabne Bana De Jodi – Movie Review

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This movie is actually a cliche’d, regular love story. A bit of Mouna Ragam, if you ask me.  The story can be summed up in a single line.

Wife realises that her boring, average, middle-class husband is the man of her dreams.

But what makes the movie so watchable to me, is Shah Rukh Khan. His sheer screen presence creates magic. 

Shah Rukh as Raj is a bit over the top, yes, but he creates a powerful contrast to the boring Surinder. 

Anoushka Sharma is perfect for the role. Simple, beautiful and at the same time, has a girl-next-door look. Lovely clothes too.

The third most important character in this movie is the city of Amritsar itself. Its almost like the city has a life of its own. Ravi K Chandran’s work  is just brilliant.

The downside is the movie drags in parts. Especially the Sumo wrestler scene was so unnecessary.

And Shah Rukh’s efforts to look the part of an average man-on-the-street is a bit overdone.  Instead of blending in, he stands out, more like a fancy dress. And the grotesque close-ups don’t help either.

But I walked out of the theater with a smile. A feel good movie from the king of Bollywood.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Like snuggling with a favourite book with a hot cup of tea on a rainy afternoon…

Movie Review – Drona

I read a rave review of this movie in the Sunday Express and had great expectations.

I was not totally disappointed though. The graphics and production value is much higher than the average Indian film. No rough cut-out surrounding the flying characters, no obviously super-imposed figure against a starry/cloudy sky and definitely no morphing of a character into another with bright light.

The movie is good too, if you don’t mind watching a full fantasy story a la Paheli style.

Aditya, is an orphan left with strangers who ill-treat him. But he does not know his illustrious heritage. The story has its base in Hindu Mythology.

Amrita, the nectar of everlasting life, is guarded by generations of Dronas for centuries. Asuras try to capture it all the while in various avataars according to the era they’re in.

How this new age Drona realises his powers and fights evil with a luscious body-guard by his side, is the story.

Its like watching a desi mix of Harry Potter, Spiderman and Matrix.

But the adaptation is definitely a good one. Its good to see rich Indian mytholgical stories put to good use, at last!

Abishek Bachchan has done a great job. So has Priyanka Chopra.

But why did they have to cast Jaya Bahchan? It is so cliched to have a real mom as the reel mom!

And one more jarring note is the wimpish spoilt brat who makes life miserable for Drona in the beginning of the movie. Why did he have to bear a strong resemblance to Shar Rukh Khan?  I’m sure there are more mature ways to handle competition.

And KK ruined his great acting by drawing inspiration from Jack Nicholson from Batman .

The special effects are outstanding. The sand-image of his forefathers is just brilliant.

The art direction is fab too. Would have been better if they ‘d cut down on the sequins.

And what I also liked is that they don’t specify any location. It starts off in a London-kind-of-place and goes to a palace in Rajastan (I think).  Rocky cliffs,  oceans, deserts and many such landscapes offer great backdrops for all the fights with evil, black-hooded men. The ras-pur is a great example for art and special effects. A Wild-West train chase complete with a horse is worth a mention.

I would have enjoyed the movie more if they’d not dragged the second half so much. And had cut down on the songs. None of the songs gelled with the story.

Bottom line: A fantastic visual treat if you leave your logic at home and overlook the obvious reference to the Hollywood movies mentioned above.

Movie Review – Dasavataram

I was actually excited about watching Dasavataram on the first day of its release. Especially when NDTV, Times Now & Headlines Today carried non-stop hype about the film yesterday. Someone told me NDTV had given it a 4 out of 5.

I used to be an ardent fan of Kamal Hasan till I saw Hey Ram!

My faith in him fell rapidly after watching the movie. There’s a noble thought somewhere in the movie, but was lost completely in the portrayal of Kamal as a gift to Indian cinema…

“He should stop with just acting”, I thought. And with Panchatantram, Tenali, etc he did seem to make a come-back with just acting.

But Dasavataram? A total three-hour torture! Why can’t someone tell Kamal to retire from the movies? He’s totally lost it! Maybe, just maybe the movie’d been watchable if the 10 avatars had been played by 10 different people. There’d been a cohesive story, at least.

But this looks like its just a movie to showcase the various make-up tricks Kamal is capable of. And believe me, it varies from comical (Kamal as George Bush?! What’s he trying to say? I’m still on the floor laughing!) to  downright scary. The Iyengar old lady is made to like one of the scary witches we see in horror flicks… (incidentally a classmate of mine used to scare us with a rubber witch-mask which was very similar to Kamal’s old-lady get-up)

And someone tell me why, but why Kamal’s head looks so disproportionately big to his body in most of his Avatars?

And so many characters are forced, just so the avatars add up to 10. Justification of the title!

But if at all I have one good thing I have to say about the movie, its his avatar as Balram Naidu. We can see a bit of the old Kamal in that character. His Telugu accented Tamil is just too funny!

But Kamal as Dhaler Mehndi who’s cured of cancer by a stray bullet?!!!

Kamal as the white guy -( ex CIA who’s now on the other side of the law) with a huge head?

The 8 feet Kamal who just cannot get a decent word out of his mouth because the mask is obviously limiting his lip movements?

Again, Kamal as George Bush?

And George Bush who’s clue-less about NA CL, which is actually common salt?

The lovely Asin who does nothing but screech her dialogues and get on your nerves?

The never-ending car chases? (Make that train chases, bus chases & helicopter chases)

The Tsunami which makes its appearnace so timely to save the world? (yes, you heard me, save the world. Although a few thousands get wiped out in the process, it saves millions)

Give me a break!!

This movie has been shot with the sole purpose of feeding Kamal’s ego and nothing else.

You can sit through the whole movie and still like it, only if you love him unconditionally…

I liked Shivaji anyday better, simply beacuse it delivered what you expected. It did not have pretenses or claim to be anything cerebral. Just a simple commercial flick, where Rajnikanth did what was expected of him with style…

Jodhaa Akbhar

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Extravagance. That’s what this movie is all about.

But then the story is about one of the greatest Mughal emperors, known for his splendor.

So extravagance justified.

A fantastically crafted movie, this is another one of Ashutosh Gowrikar’s efforts to inspire patriotism.

Packaged with history and romance, the movie lives up to all the hype.

And talk about eye candies! And they’ve have actually attempted to act. In Hrithik’s case, his performance is effortless and laudable.

But though Ash looks stunning, I feel Tabu would have brought in more life to the character.

Akbhar is portrayed to have been striving to unite Hindus & Muslims…

A sensitive king who checks the Mughal atrocities in the battlefield…

A just king who wanders among his subjects in disguise to feel their pulse…

A courageous king who prefers to face his enemy one to one to avoid bloodshed…

An emperor who dreams of a united Hindustan…

Got me thinking, maybe India could do with monarchy!

Imagine…

No booth-capturing.

No bribes to anybody.

No corruption.

But then, no freedom of expression either!

Anyway, on the downside, the movies is too long.

The dialogues are so urdu-fied, its difficult to follow in some places.

But on the whole a visual treat (except for the battle scenes. Found them too gory).

Definitely worth watching.

I am going again. (Just to look at Hrithik! 😉 )

Om Shanti Om!

omshantiom.jpgSaw OSO finally on sunday! I’m not saying anything that KA or maami didn’t say. Here’s my two-bit.

Loved the movie. Laughed non-stop. Good fun. The second half was not that bad. It was much more bearable than I thought.

Favourite bits: Tiger fight. Shah Rukh’s dig at Tamil. Akshay Kumar. Abhishek. Manoj Kumar. And more!

Verdict: Going for it again. And Shah Rukh, You’re King! I totally forgive you for Swades… (Though a great movie, he pulled it down by keeping a morose face throughout)

Tragedy!

I wanted to collect the OSO tickets I’d booked online today and was informed that the tickets have been booked for 20th Nov…

That was 4 days ago! Why am I such a ***@##$?!! What a waste of money! 9 tickets with all the norukku theeni….

More fodder for my better half and all my friends to poke fun till I die… After they forgive me for getting them all excited about a saturday night movie after so long, that is…

Can u imagine, I refused to take my son for 2 birthday parties (of the same guys who r coming for the movie) today & tomorrow, coz  I didn’t want my son to catch any infection & ruin my plans..

How dumb can I get?

Enakku kudhuthu vaichathu avvlothan… 😦

Finally!

Booked tickets for OSO at last, for saturday evening!! It was pretty cool to book online and order all the pop corn too! Shall review it  this weekend, maybe! Just keeping my fingers crossed that my son  doesn’t ruin the plan by falling ill!  Started a runny nose today 😦