Showing posts with label Tamil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tamil. 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? 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thirudan Police, Comic Revenge

Long long ago (for that matter even now), most of the actors and directors, when they gave interviews as pre-launch publicity, would claim that their film was "different". Just that I have grown up not to believe them.

So when I say that this film is different, please do trust me and, at the same time, don't trust me! Well let me explain it.

The movie is a simple revenge story. Father gets killed and son avenges death by bringing the perpetrators to book. Where this movie differs is in the treatment of the subject. It's different! Just like Yaamirukka Bayamey which very beautifully mixed comedy with horror, Thirudan Police makes you laugh even while the hero is feeling for the death of his father and is extracting the revenge. There is no dilution of either emotion.

The movie is thoroughly enjoyable. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Jigarthanda, fulsome

For those who do not know what Jigarthanda is, here's a little intro. Jil Jil Jigarthanda is a rich milk-based drink that owes its origins to Madurai city. It was apparently popularized by Muslim community, there. It is similar to Falooda though different!

As far as the movie goes, it is anything but similar. Unlike the drink, the movie is not sweet. A little, maybe. But it is certainly rich. It is more similar to the dishes that are served in the legendary messes of Madurai - hot, spicy and rich. Meat served with loads of blood.

The story is about a young movie director being asked to make a gangster movie. In search of an original and true script, he lands in Madurai to find out more about the subject - Assault Sethu. On a side note, Madurai needs some serious PR as its image as a city of goons, rowdies and murders now precedes its otherwise historic and religious glory.

Coming back to the storyline, the young director faces many a difficulties to get acquainted to the gang leader. But when he does, the gang leader readily agrees to share his story. Trouble comes when upon rejection, young director's amour instigates Sethu to don his own role in the movie.

The movie then is about the trial and tribulations of the young director and what he does with the opportunity that is provided to him. One of the most important part in the movie is the dialogue between the young director and the old shopkeeper who also once aspired to be a film director.

The movie is again a testimony of the fresh talent that is now populating Kollywood. Karthik Subburaj has served a different fare after Pizza, which was equally delectable.

I must say that just like Simbu, I don't like Sidharth much. But should admit that he has done some good offbeat movies in the recent past. Though in my opinion he still is a limited actor but is doing well within those limits.

Bobby Simha on the other hand is very impressive. He seems to have taken his role in Neram to a very different level in this movie. He is one of the best talents in Tamil film industry, today.

So is Karunakaran. The comedian is immediately likable.

Lakshmi Menon is good. Must say that this girl proves to the world that one doesn't have to be "beautiful" to be successful in the film industry. She has chosen her movies quite intelligently.

Bottomline? Go watch! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, Possession

This movie will certainly make into the Best Tamil Movies of all times list. Even if it doesn't, it will remain one of the very best that I have watched.

Is it Vijay Sethupathi who is creating such opportunities or is he leveraging them? Whatever be the case, midst the usual hero-oriented flicks, his movies guarantee that we get to watch a flick where story is the central character.

Pannaiyarum Padminiyum is a beautiful portrayal of life of people set in the "other-India". The India where people may not have access to internet and my blog. It is the story of an old Premier Padmini car, and the lives and emotions of people whose lives it touches. The movie is about our love and possessiveness. Even for inanimate objects! But mostly, it celebrates love.

It reminded me of my obsession with our first washing machine that we bought several years ago. After the installation, I sat in front of the machine for the full cycle of washing which usually lasts for an hour. I was so enamored by the rolling of the drum. I mused at detergent in an upper tray mixing with the water that came from the backside of the machine. I loved watching the tumble of  the drum, and the games that the mix of detergent and water played with the cloths. I waited for the final spinning and the machine coming to a halt. You see with automatic washing machines, one has to wait for sometime before the doors can be opened. Those few minutes of waiting felt like eternity. But that wait was worth it as the doors opened to a heady perfume of washing power in the warm misty air.

Now this went on for sometime before I lost interest and found other things to keep me amused.

In the movie though, the old car keeps bonding people and brings more love. The love story of the old couple intertwined with the car is a treat to watch.

This movie could take you into a nostalgic trip of your own. At the end of the movie, I was in tears. The tears of happiness on having watched a good movie. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kalyana Samayal Saadham, Tasty Fare

How many of you had an arranged marriage? How many of you had a love marriage? How many of you had love-cum-arranged marriage? And how many of you had arranged-cum-love marriage? Though this movie is about the last kind, anyone can relate to the movie.

Kalyana Samayal Saadham is a nice cute romantic comedy. It deals with the relatively newer trend of having an "affair" in the period between the engagement and the wedding. Basically, it is similar to what people do when they have a love affair except that here the couple have the blessings of the families. The movie also deals with the taboo subject of premarital sex. There's more, sex in married life and erectile dysfunction. In addition, the pressures of organizing a wedding, the politics and other nitty-gritties. All this served nicely as the food served in banana leaf in South Indian wedding. Not rich but sumptuous and delicious.

If you are married, you will relate to it. If you are not, take this as an easy digest.

Nice to see a big fat South Indian marriage for a change. Though it is not as fat as North Indian marriages, it has its own charm. On a different note, have you noticed that many South Indian weddings have Sangeeth and Mehendi! It is like a South Indian restaurant serving Naan and Paneer Butter Masala

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ivan Vera Mathiri, Etho Mathiri

As there were good reviews and ads publishing an appreciation letter by Superstar Rajinikanth, I decided to watch the movie.

The movie is set in the background of violence instigated by a politician in the law college which results in the death of a student. There is a huge out pour amongst the public. The hero decides to teach a lesson and kidnaps the minister's brother who is out on parole upon surety provided by the minister.

This results in the minister losing his position. Hero releases the brother thereafter. Now, minister's brother seeks a revenge and kidnaps the heroine. The rest of the story is hero's efforts to rescue his fiancé.

I am not sure if the movie is indeed as good as it is claimed in the promotions, though the way the story has been handled is bit different. For one, the hero isn't portrayed as someone who seeks to clean up the society of bad elements. He is inspired to teach the minister a lesson only for one particular incident. Despite knowing that minister's brother is a killer, he doesn't take the law into his own hands. He just kidnaps him and releases him when his objective is met.

But that's that. Bit different. Many elements seem to be force fit and half hearted attempts to satisfy movie goers.

Fantastic? I am not sure. But maybe it is bit vera mathiri (different) in some ways.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pizza 2, Ghosts Demystified

When the movie got over, I thought it was a good movie. Then a natural comparison with Pizza 1 made me feel that maybe it was not as entertaining. Then again after sometime, I thought maybe this was better than the previous edition in many ways. And after some more pondering, I now think this is probably the most intelligent ghost movie that I have ever seen! The best and the most intelligent.

This movie, in a scientific way, explains ghost. Of course,  I have no expertise in the subject and I don't believe in them though I do get scared thinking about them, can't ratify it. But what I can say is that in all the ghost movies that I have seen, in Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood or from other -woods, this probably is the best. Ok, I have said that already. This is a fan of the movie speaking now.

For the story, please go and watch it yourself. For my opinion, read on.

What is ghost? The "scientific" explanation is very nice. As the "exorcist" explains, there is positive energy and negative energy. And that is what it is all about.

What do ghosts want? I am not sure. From the movies that I have seen ghosts' basic profession or occupation is to kill human beings. Bite them, possess them, suck blood, throw them around. They can kill people with a reason or without one. They can also display emotions - possessiveness and vengeance. There can be good ghosts, too. Oh, I forgot, they can be "religious".

How do they look? Gory, of course. They are here to scare us.

Now, this is why I liked Pizza 2. The ghosts have been shown in different light. A totally different philosophy. For an intelligent ghost movie, watch it. For the cheap thrills and almost similar action, watch any other ghost movie. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara, Local Dreams

Vijay Sethupathi has become some sort of phenomenon in Tamil Cine industry. He has built a reputation for acting in off-beat yet commercially successful movies. While Pizza was a thrilling entertainer, Suddu Kavvum was a brilliant black comedy and Naduvula Konjam Pakatha Kannum was refreshing movie that will ever remain in memory.

So naturally I was keen to watch the movie, though initially dejected by some negative feedback.

Story in short. Hmmm. I am just thinking what the story line was. Makes me think if there was any story or if there were too many.

1. The love story of Sumar Moonji Kumar and Kumudha. The girl spurns all the moves by the guy. An upset father then reaches out to a local goon to teach the guy a lesson.

2. The love story between Balakrishnan and Renu. A sales executive caught between his nagging girl friend and his irritating boss.

These are the main tracks though not necessarily the only important ones. The other parallel tracks are that of a drunkard man whose wife has just announced that she has become pregnant after long years into their marriage. A painter and patti guy (Tamil) gang who have just murdered a thug. Both of them instigated by the thug's wife. Both of them also vying for her attention.

The movie will keep you entertained till the very last. Though movie has an ensemble of cast, in my opinion, Pasupathy as a local goon with diabetic condition was the best. While Sumar Moonji Kumar and Kumudha's father fight, Pasupathy impresses with his performance as someone who gets low sugar. Hilarious!

You will like the movie for its very Chennai flavor (the slum clearance dwellings, TASMAC bars, local goons) or, if you are diabetic like me, you will see the lighter side of low sugar through Pasupathy. I loved it.

Ganesh Happy! (just like Kumudha Happy at the end!) 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sonna Puriyadu, Parthalum Puriyadu

I believe that some movies are better watched in DVDs, sitting in the comforts of home. These though aren't bad, one shouldn't waste their time or money by going to theater to watch such flicks. This one is one such movie.

The movie isn't that bad, actually. It will make you laugh. Especially, the scenes where Shiva and Blade Shankar dub for Chinese movies. There are other moments were you will burst into laughter. Some twists to keep you engaged, too. But when I came out of the theater, I felt as if I watched some crap movie. The second half drags.

Light, very light entertainer. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kutty Puli, Periya Tala Valee

Periya Tala Valee means big head ache. Well that is what I got after watching this movie.

One expects Sasikumar movies to be neat entertainers which have a good mix of everything for a viewer - action, emotion, comedy, and most importantly a message.

Unfortunately, with everything in this movie the final dish served was completely burnt. Maybe the masala wasn't made properly and wasn't effective. If you have seen Sundarapandian, then maybe you have seen 25% of the movie.

The mother sentiment was too much forced making Kutty Puli very salty.

Felt bit disappointed.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Theeya Velai Sayaanum Kumaru, fiery comedy

It was a laugh riot!

These are good times for Tamil cinema, especially for the comedy genre.

Except for the songs, Sunday C has given a great entertainer and there is never dull moment in the movie.

Sidharth is software professional who has had some bad experience with women(unkind) in his childhood. But having been born in the family where love marriage is the norm he is expected to woo a girl and get married.

He loses his heart to Hansika who joins as a Trainee in the same organization he works for. He faces intensive competition not only from others in the company but also from himself as he is clueless in the matters of heart. Upon his brother-in-law's suggestion he seeks Santhanam's (the hitch doctor) tutelage.

The part where he manages to win over Hansika's love is as interesting as the twist in the story where Santhanam turns against the affair will keep you entertained till the end.

Don't miss it. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sudu Kavvum, honest lessons

It has never been so good for Tamil movies. Marina, Pizza, Neer Paravai, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanum (NKPK). All relatively low budget movies that have excelled in entertaining. Unlike Alex Pandian sort of movie that have a big stars and bigger budgets with pathetic script and storyline, these movies are very intelligently made.

Vijay Sethupathi seems to be really doing a good job in choosing his movies. After Pizza and NKPK, he is back with Sudu Kavvum. But I must say that he is not the only hero of the movie. Everyone in the movie have been given a chance and none of them have failed.

A group of youngsters join Vijay Sethupathi who runs a kidnapping racket. But he has strict principles of "kednapping".

Then there is an upright Minister who has a wayward son.

Due to an enmity with a Minister, a businessman commissions Vijay and his team to kidnap Minister's son. And then a laugh riot ensues.

The Police Inspector, Vijay's Doctor Rowdy brother, Vijay's girlfriend, and Radha Ravi are as impressive as the others.

But the winner in the movie is the Minister's son. Especially, in the climax scenes where he interacts with Radha Ravi.

The movie is a great dark comedy that portrays the current affairs. Loved it. Kudos to the entire team. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pizza, good toppings and cheesy

We don't get to see many Tamil movies of this genre. The movie is about a pizza delivery boy and his girl friend. During one of his delivery routines, the boy ends up at a home where strange occurrences take place. Supernatural occurrences!

Though he manages to escape from that house, he finds that his girl friend has vanished without a trace. His boss and colleagues try to help him. In the process, they find some mysteries about him.

The movie scares you, intrigues and entertains. There are many twists in the movie till the very end. Pizza a movie has many toppings (psychological thriller, ghost and crime) and is spicy, but on a thin crust. Nice watch, you will feel entertained.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Simbu Tries To Remake

No no, I am not referring to Osthe, the Dabang remake. Simbu is trying a new brand image for himself.

But before that you must know that I do not like him despite the fact that there is nothing personal. I am purely prejudiced.

Back in late 90s and early 2000s, Internet and Email were still uncommon. After creating many email ids with different service providers, I zeroed in on an address that became my identity. My email id used to be "gunduganesh" @ whatever. Gundu here meaning fat which is to indicate that I am quite a healthy person. The email id did become popular. At many a times, people at office and other places did start referring to me as Gundu. Now they were not rude just that they did like the id so much. Despite the fact that I never took offence, it did irk me now and then.

Naru, who is sort of a guru to me, at one time suggested that I should change my email id. He said that while it was good for someone to laugh at himself, it would certainly be bad for my image as I grew up in life. But it took me couple of years from then to actually change my email id. And then slowly my association with the word Gundu also declined. Though there are still very close friends who would refer to me by that name.

The bottom line is that it may be quite easy to create a brand equity for yourself through the easiest possible leverages but it is more difficult to change once your brand equity is established.

Simbu became Simbu because as a child artist his father decided to use it instead of Silambarasan. And he did manage to get popularity with that name. Also, as he was young and did imitate Super Star, he became Little Super Star.

With age, you realize that what is an advantage at a certain point may not necessarily be so at a different period. So, Simbu needs a different identity now at a stage when the competition is much for "mature and serious".

So with Osthe, Simbu has also undertaken a marketing campaign to change his brand name from Simbu to STR and from Little Super Star to Young Super Star. So you can take part in quizzes, "get used" to the name that Simbu wants to be recognized as and win movie tickets to his remake movie.

Would be interesting to see how long before we get used to Simbu's new name and title. There certainly is a lesson for others to look ahead and decide now. Easy, as Simbu has realized, is not always the best! 

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. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Imitable and Inimitables

The other day a friend and I were having a conversation about actors and their style. He said that he liked Gemini Ganesan. For those who don't know, Gemini Ganesan was a romantic hero, both in reel and real.

I was a bit taken aback.

Now usually in Tamil Nadu if someone is asked who was their favorite actor, the reply is usually one of the top two in that generation. Say in my dad's generation one would have said either MGR or Shivaji. In my generation, it was either Kamal or Rajini. Then maybe it was Vijay or Ajith. Of course now, there is plenty to chose from. There are so many heroes that we may have to segment and then decide the top stars in each category. Now that makes a topic for another post.

I quizzed my friend why he liked the Kadhal Mannan.

He said that Gemini is probably one of those few stars who cannot be imitated. He wasn't an acting genius, but did manage to become the character. Have you come across anyone who can mimic him? I haven't.

Am not saying that Gemini excelled in method acting. In my opinion, he didn't have any exceptional skills and he also never tried different roles. But then Rajini and MGR are no different. Gemini, as my friend put it, fitted into the characters he portrayed. His movies revolved around the story and not on the character.

I have from that day onwards started appreciating Gemini. He is a rare breed, inimitable. In an industry where personal brand has become far more important than the characters, Gemini was like the clay that could be molded to suit the requirements.

In the present day, I think Jeeva and Dhanush are probably more Gemini than the other actors. The former more than the latter. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Easan of our times

If this was just another revenge movie, we could have just written it off. It has nothing spectacular. In fact, the revenge part itself comes quite late in the movie.

But then this is M Sasikumar's movie.

The movie is different. It mirrors the current times. Politics, Crime, Business, Youth...The nexus between these elements. The movie provides a snapshot of the happenings. I felt I was reading newspaper. The movie starts with an "accident" scene, reminiscence of Stephanie Aduwo incident. There are many more which may remind you of an incident or the other.

It may appear that the movie meanders aimlessly but then as I said it is a portrayal of our times. I did like the the movie, though not for its main plot.

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? :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Rajinikanth Is A Superstar?

That Rajinikanth can still command a salary more than any other Indian star can only imagine and that in the recent past his movies evoke strong interest across the nation and many other countries, despite being a Tamil film hero, is pretty intriguing. As a Tamilian, I do feel very proud about that.

I have been a Kamal Hassan fan since I was a kid. I have had fights with my mother, classmates and cousins over who is a bigger/better hero. There would be extreme excitement and nervousness during every Diwali and Pongal to figure out whose movie would be a bigger hit. And most of the times, I would end up with bitterness, as the dark skinned and ugly hero would romp the box office.

Rajini to his fans is demigod.

Interestingly, some ignorant lady tweeted saying that Rajinikanth is only about style and smoking. Or something to that effect. In fact, to many, and even to me for a long time, Rajini was all about style. He has a very weird way of doing things. Whether it was wearing glasses or smoking a cigarette or just a simple walk, his style element has become legendary.

He cannot dance. His range of emotions is limited. Most importantly, as I said earlier, he is anything but good looking. He doesn't even possess a well built body, a must for all the new age actors. Then what is it that makes Rajini a phenomenon?

  • The vacant spot: Before the Rajini-Kamal era, it was MGR-Shivaji period. Quintessentially, while one entertains the masses, the other takes up the cudgels for performance.  Kamal and Rajini were fighting for the dominance till a point came when consolidation of turf became inevitable. And it was during this period that the two stars decided to chart out a different course for each other. With a grounding in the film industry, Kamal naturally filled in for Shivaji Ganesan. And Rajini became the mass hero. But just as Kamal is different from Shivaji, Rajini is completely different from MGR.
  • The style element: There is no denying that style was and is Rajini's differentiating factor. I would be only look stupid if I even elaborate further on this. I have, despite my devotion for Kamal, always attempted Rajini stunts, often failing in it. I especially love the cigarette flick and wearing the glasses. In an industry that has always been crowded with many aspiring for the glamour and fame, his signature styles helped him establish and make a mark for himself.
  • The look: It has often been said that people like Rajinikanth resembles the common man, hence the masses love him. They are able to relate to him, it is often said. Well, it does sound true. But then, MGR was anything but dark. While I don't think it is incorrect, I cannot agree with it completely.
Long time back, when I was servicing Lason India, the then President of the company, Mr. Pradeep Nevatia, said that the more a person grows up the ladder, the more one has to be humble. He went on to explain that a person reaches the top because there are many supporting from below. Losing humbleness, is akin to kicking the very ladder in which one is standing. In Rajini's case, the glamour and fame never got into his head. Rajini's fans hold him in respectful veneration. He is very approachable. I can vouch for it, myself.

While what I have pointed out certainly contributed to his success, I think it is his own story that people like. It's well known that Rajini's is that of rags to riches. He was a bus conductor who, through dedication, perseverance and hard work, grew to stardom. People relate to him, because he is one of them. Not just in real life, but also on the screen. His movies are always, almost always, about a humble poor man who through hardwork and struggle succeeds. It is a recurrent theme. Dharma Durai, Padikadavan, Panakkaran, Velaikaran, Veera, Muthu, Annamalai, Arunachalam, Basha, Padayappa and Sivaji. There may be slight differences but at the core is the story of struggle and success.

Rajini is not a superstar because of his acting skills. He is, because he is a symbol for an ordinary man. He gives hope. He represents struggle. He is a beacon of light for those who want to succeed. In Public Relations, there is a concept called perception reality dissonance. In Rajini's reel and real life, there is just no dissonance. And that makes him the phenomenon, that he is!

Coming this from a die hard Kamal fan, means a lot! :)

PS: A note to Ilaya Thalapathi Vijay and Simbu. You may fancy occupying the space that Rajini might vacate. And I think you are already imitating him. Remember you can easily copy what he does on the screen. But it would be better if you learn more from the true self.

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!