Showing posts with label Kamal Hassan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kamal Hassan. Show all posts

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Kabali, the problem of boxing

I had a very good friend who has disappeared from my life. What remains of her with me today are her thoughts. Her fixation with boxing. Not the sport but the innate tendency to classify people and relationships.

Tamil film industry has traditionally been a duopoly as far as leading actors are concerned. There was MGR and Sivaji dominating the scene before 70s. In the 80s, 90s and maybe early in the millennium it was Kamal and Rajini. It is probably only now that the fan following is fragmented.

While I was growing up, one was either a worshiper of the likable and stylish Rajini or zealous fan of talented Kamal. I belonged to the latter camp. Though with age, I have taken a liking for Rajini.

Rajini movies don't need hype. For producers, he is an investment that never fails. He is a phenomenon. With him, there is nothing else required in the film. The story is very predictable - a man who succeeds against all odds and stands for righteousness. Experiments have usually failed. This is not to say that he is limited au contraire he is a very capable actor. 

Somehow, I think Kabali suffers from the inescapable phenomenon of boxing. While critiques have been critical of the film, the fans filled the social media singing paeans about Rajini's acting skills and the story line. Now, that to me is dichotomy. If I were to ever see a film for acting skills and a different storyline, it would be Kamal's not Rajini's.

By this time, it might appear that a disgruntled Kamal is fan venting out his feelings at the irrefutable truth that Rajini is a much bigger star than his own idol. I assure you, it is not so.

Boxing or stereotyping affects everyone. For example, if Kamal makes a light movie, fans get disappointed feeling that he is wasting his talent and not upping the ante. From Kamal, we expect something different in every movie. Every movie has to be as heavy as Hey Ram or have shape-altering role like Aboorva Sagodargal. So much so that a friend was extremely upset that instead of making a movie on an original script, the actor chose remake Drishyam.

This makes me wonder if stars should stick to what comes easily to them and to the identity that they have instead of venturing into uncharted waters. Even if producers are willing to take a risk, the audience seem to have trouble in accepting any variation.

In my opinion, managing expectations is very important. The mindless publicity blitzkrieg strategy needs to a rethink. Would it have made a difference to Kabali if it was promoted differently? Would the critics and the fans have appreciated this different from the usual Rajini film? 

Friday, July 11, 2014

What's In The Name?

What was the last movie you watched?

Can you recollect the lead character's name? The hero, the heroine or the villain. Chances are, as hard as you may try, you will not be able to remember the name of the characters. 

I had never given any thought about name of the characters until I watched 12 Angry Men, a film that tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant. One of the alibis provided by the defendant is that he had been out watching a movie when the crime was committed. But when questioned, he is not able to recall the names of the characters. When this point is discussed, Henry Fonda, one of the jurors, asks other members if they remembered the names of the characters in movies they watched last. Guess what, no one is able to recall the names! 

Though it is not the absolute truth. For example, I remember Guna or Virumandi, or say Veera, Muthu or Basha. I also remember some villain's name. Gabbar Singh from Sholay or Mugambo from Mr. India. Interestingly, I am not sure if I remember Anil Kapoor or Sridevi's characters' name. But then I can never forget that Hema Malini in Sholay was Basanti. These are probably exceptions! 

But in general, why is it that the names of the characters are forgotten so easily? Are the names of the character not an important element? Why is it that some character names get etched in our memories while others don't even leave a scratch mark in our "hard drives"? Well it maybe a factor of how our nervous system is hard wired. 

Which movie characters' name do you remember? Mention it in the comments. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kolaveri Di: Innovation in Tamil Cinema

Tamil Film industry, just sometime back, was dominated by a family and their media groups. Almost every other movie was either nephew's or elder son's son or the younger one's. As the regime changed, that seemed to have changed.

Thankfully, I am not writing about politics in the industry. In that regime, the marketing of movies was high decibel campaigns in the TV and FM channels belonging to the family. Everything seemed to be just the same.

In that sense, Kolaveri Di is an innovation in movie marketing. Of course, it is a good product if not great. The music is catchy, the lyrics are easy to understand. It is not a Tamil song, just Tamil in thought. Of course, some may say that there is hardly anything in the song, but maybe that is the reason why it is so successful.

Mani could re-learn about segmenting the market. Despite the fact that the channel chosen by the Kolaveri team was Internet, it certainly was first aimed for Tamilians. The sales team includes Super Star's daughter &  son-in-law, and Kamal Hasan's daughter, faces that every Tamilian recognizes and adores. The song has successfully managed to cross the chasm of cultural barrier and has become a phenomenon.

As a Tamilian, it does feel proud that the song is a national favorite. And, of course, we might in the coming days, see more innovations in film marketing as Kolaveri Di has set a new benchmark in promoting movies. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kamal Hassan: Self Obssessed?

Women have very strong opinions. Especially, the erudite.

Here is this lady at office, fanatically devoted to Rajinikanth, who commented that Kamal is narcissistic (not the exact words). She accused him of occupying every frame in the movies that he acts. In particular, she referred to Dasavatharam. It is very difficult to refute this statement.

But after spending a little time over this accusation of hers, I realized that Indian film industry is all about the male actor. Make no mistake, I mean the lead male actor. So what's wrong in Kamal hogging the screen, I thought? Then I began to think more and I realized that contrary to the popular opinion held by anti-Kamal group, the legend is probably the only actor of that stature to share the screen with various actors. Unlike movies of Rajini or any other actor for that matter, Kamal's movies provide ample space for his co-actors, in fact, quite often they steal the thunder.

  • Sathi Leelavathi: The movie about extra-marital affair was a super duper hit. If you remember, the lead in the movie is not even another male actor but it is Kalpana, not a typical heroine material, if I may say so. But what was path breaking was that Kamal paired with Kovai Sarala, a comedian! I remember it caused a bit of an uproar that Kamal. Can any other actor even think about it?
  • Magalir Mattum: Like the previous movie, Magalir Mattum was also his home production. The movie is about sexual harassment in office set up. Three women (Revathy, Urvashi and Rohini) gang-up against their conniving boss (played by Nasser). Kamal does make an appearance in the movie but only for a brief period and that too towards the end. It was certainly the female trio and Nasser who carry the movie through.
  • Kurudi Punnal: A remake of Govind Nihlani's Drohkaal, the movie was known for Arjun and Nasser's performance. In fact, Gowthami is still remembered for a particular scene where she persuades a naxal to not harass Arjun's daughter by 'offering herself'. Was numbed. Kamal, if you think about it, took a rather weaker role for himself. A character that compromises.
  • Tenali: This movie is remembered as much for Kamal's Sri Lankan Tamil as for Jairam who plays the role of a hassled doctor.
  • Anbey Sivam: This is certainly a Kamal movie but honestly I think there was enough meat from Nasser and Madhavan. 
  • Virumandi has Pasupathi and Abhirami dazzle. Madhavan is the lead in Kamal's home production - Nala Damayanthi. And this is not a recent phenomenon. Ages ago, Sathyaraj was the protagonist in Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupadu, a Rajkamal productions.
And those listed above is not the comprehensive list of movies where Kamal shared the screen equally with other actors, big or small. Further, women always have a great opportunity to perform in his movies. If you would remember Revathy in Devar Magan.

I believe that Kamal has a penchant for talent. He has always promoted those who have potential. I think he is a strong believer in casting for the role.

During schoold days, my friend Manoj made a comment that hurt me quite a bit. He said that women who act in Kamal's movies have a shorter life span on the screen, meaning they flop after that. For a long time, I believed it. But now I realize that there is a strong reason for it. Most heroes have female leads who are rather young and novice in the field of acting. They are chosen for the glamour quotient. On the other hand, Kamal's heroines are high up in their learning curve. High on acting prowess and less on baby doll quotient. Manoj, what do you have to say now? :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Kamal Hassan An Atheist Iyengar?

Those who have read a previous post of mine know, by now, that I am a Kamal fan.

It is quite well know that he is an atheist. For those who have seen Anbey Sivam, which is probably Kamal's best movie, would have noticed this. There is one particular scene where Kamal revisits the place where the accident, which changes his life, takes place. Because he is the only one who survives in the accident, people gather and take 'aarthi'. Kamal rubs away the 'tilak' as soon as it is applied.

But over the last few months, since the launch of Dasavathaaram to be exact, a thought has been recurring in my mind. I have been forced to wonder whether Kamal is in fact an atheist or is he making it up? Or he is an atheist but has not been able to break the Iyengar upbringing? Or maybe I have become too cynical. Now, I do understand that this wondering of mine is of no use to the society and it is unwanted in a world which already has enough complexities. Still, let me make my case.

In Dasavathaaram, one of the roles that Kamal Hassan dons is of Rangarajan Nambi, a staunch Iyengar (Vaishnavite Brahmins), in Chidambaram (near) Tanjore ruled by Kulothunga Chola II, a fanatic Saivite. Kulothunga intends to get rid of Vishnu's idol from the Big Temple. Angered by Rangarajan's resistance, the King gets him tied to Vishnu's idol and drowns him in the Bay of Bengal. A lot of cruelty is committed upon him as he is taken to the sea.

I cannot ascertain the historical veracity of this event. It could have happened or it may be Kamal's figment of imagination, he is one of the story writers. Do watch the movie, I loved it.

Now after watching the movie, it occurred to me that Kamal Hassan, despite his claims of being an atheist, seems to be using a lot of God in his movies. And then I mulled over this thought, it occurred to me that Kamal may actually be still an Iyengar at heart. And consciously or otherwise, he seems to demean Saivites.

Another movie of Kamal Hassan, which is one of my all time favourite comedy flick, is Kadhala Kadhala. Now, an important role in this movie is played by MS Viswanathan, legendary Music Director. In the movie he is a Lord Murugan devotee. The scenes where he dreams about Murugan are funny, not glorifying. In fact, there is a song with Prabhu Deva and Kamal as Lord Murugan. Lord Murugan is a Saivite God. In fact, He is the younger son of Lord Siva himself. Blimey!

No, it doesn't stop there. Pammal K Sambandam, the movie based on which the super sexy but extraordinary flop Kambhakth Ishq was made. This time direct dig on Lord Siva. In the movie, Kamal plays the role of a stunt master and a side actor. In a particular scene, he dons the role of Lord Siva. Do watch it, you may get my point.

Then coming back to Anbey Sivam, again, the negative role played by Nasser is of a staunch Saivite. But then Kamal himself plays the role of a Saivite with a name Nalla Sivam. So it's not the best example.

All these make me seriously doubt Kamal's claims. But after a point, my wondering became introspection. I am an Iyer, Saivite Brahmin. Now, agnostic tending to atheism. I think I have already jumped to the other side of the wall! But then, despite all the disbelief, I still, jokingly or otherwise, say that I am an Iyer. I would be lying if I say that I don't feel proud about being one. Or for that matter, I do feel Hindu, deep down. No, I am not the Right-Wing, types! The point I am trying to make is that despite claiming to be an atheist, I haven't broken away from religious shackles, yet. But then India is a religious country. Irrespective of which religion, we are brought up with a strong grounding in religion.

So, it can be overlooked that Kamal cannot do away with what he has imbibed in his DNA. But then is he actually taking a dig at Shiva and glorifying Vishnu? Could it be Mohan 'Crazy' Rangachari, who was the script and dialogue writer for Kadhala Kadhala and Pammal K Sambandham, behind this portrayal? Oh God, he also wrote the story of Dasavathaaram along with Kamal!

Blimey, Kamal, please, prove me wrong!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tragedies I Avoid!

It was 1982, I was only about 5. I was already a Kamal Hassan fan. I still remember that evening when I watched Moondram Pirai which was later dubbed and release in Hindi as Sadma. I was disturbed. I couldn't digest Kamal's transformation in the climax. After returning home, I kept asking my dad if Kamal would get well. I dreamt about it for the next two days and finally fell sick. I didn't go to school for a week but Kamal went on to win a National Award!

Now after so many years, I still don't have the courage to get myself to watch the climax. In fact, I avoid the movie all together. No, the movie is brilliant. Sridevi is fantastic. But it is Kamal. Interestingly, he has a very subdued and subtle role till the very end. But that one scene in the end, he shows what he is capable of. And I hate that part.

The other movie that I avoid watching is Ek Duuje Ke Liye, a Hindi movie directed by K. Balachander, starring Kamal Haasan, Rati Agnihotri. It was a remake of the Telugu movie Mano Charithra. Ah, there's Kamal again.

Is it the bitter end? Or is it the actors to whom we get 'attached' to?

Is there a tragedy that you don't like to watch?