Friday, April 15, 2005

Chandramukhi

After months of waiting, yesterday was D-Day as I finally saw Chandramukhi at IMC6 in San Jose. A theater packed with Rajni fans, whistes, applause and hoots for the Superstar's appearance and a few showers of confetti all brought back memories of watching movies in Chennai, apart from reminding me how much I missed it all! The full-length review(with most of this post verbatim) will be online at bbreviews in a couple of days but here are a few thots on the film...

The most obvious aspect of CM is Rajnikanth's eagerness to deliver a hit that will erase all memories of the Baba debacle. The film's story cannot immediately be labelled as a trademark Rajni story(in other words, a story revolving around him!) and so has a wider appeal. He has taken extreme care about his appearance, looking both younger and brighter and is always seen in great outfits. There are also no dialogs with political overtones, he doesn't even smoke and there are very few self-hyping or philosophical lines. But this merging of a woman-centric story and the Rajni image is not always successful. Coming after Baba, CM is definitely a step in the right direction but not as big a step as hoped for.

CM is paced quite erratically. The first half is breezy enough with emphasis on comedy and just hints of something more serious and thrilling down the road. Vadivelu is the butt of jokes on two threads - he is scared of ghosts in the mansion and is eternally suspicious of his wife's attraction for Rajni. Though the latter is a bit crude, both threads are quite funny with Vadivelu's facial expressions and body language right on the mark.

But P.Vasu lets the movie flounder in the second half by not cranking up the pace. The comedy sequences here seem repetitive and unnecessary since they intrude into the main story. It becomes increasingly clear that several of the characters are unnecessary and so scenes with them make us fidget in our seats. Some editing in the hour after the intermission would have gone a long way in making the movie gripping. There is also a twist in the proceedings here but all the pre-release publicity about the movie and the information about the roles played by the stars make this grand revelation by Rajni rather anti-climactic.

I have always thought that climaxes can make or break a movie and CM ends with a bang because of a strong climax. The Ra Ra... song works very well on screen with the lakalaka... bit(uttered by two characters) adding quite an effect. The scenes from the past are captivating with Rajni obviously enjoying himself and the way the main issue is resolved is satisfying.

Rajni's aging is evident only in a few close-ups and a lot of credit for his young(er) look goes to his make-up man and costume designer. His trademark speed is definitely lost but the fact is masked by the simple, light steps(which still look good when coordinated with the group dancers) in the dance sequences and wire-fu techniques in the stunt sequences. Jyothika has worked hard and is good in the meaty role though she seems a little over the top occasionally. Prabhu stays in the sidelines but his emotional performance towards the end evokes guffaws. Nayantara looks homely but not exceptionally pretty. Vadivelu comes up with one of his best performances but Nasser overacts in playing for laughs.

Picturization of songs is average. Apart from the effective Ra Ra..., Annanoda Paattu... is energetically picturized though Vasu should have stuck to picturizing it in the engagement hall(with all men in the visually appealing white dhoti-shirt combination) rather than moving it to the cheesy club setting with all those women. Rajni looks his best in the pleasing Athinthom... though. Even for viewers used to seeing foreign locations in song sequences, the locations(in Turkey) for the Konja Neram... song are breathtaking.

22 Comments:

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Ram.C said...

I received similar reviews from my friends. I think "mumbai express" (tamil) is the winner in this race.

Sachein - Just an hour ago, came out of the theatre. See my comments in my blog. (www.dreamstores.blogspot.com)

 
At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Vijays said...

Balaji - Jovoda 'Bharathanatyam' dance eppadi?

 
At 1:47 PM, Anonymous ram said...

yeah, i was going to ask that 2...how did she dance? for all that hype, i hope it wasnt disappointing...
and, i guess you would give this movie a 2.5 star rating...I am going to check it out next Sunday...

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger iyengarkatz said...

balaji,

thanks for visiting my weblog. i did not think you would be the host of bbreviews.com. i have read your website for quite some time and now your comment on reviews makes more sense to me. cheers.

katz

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

Might not stand up to detailed, expert scrutiny but looked fine as part of the movie. Lacked the grace of a professional dancer ofcourse but for a non-dancer she carried it off well. She has to dance in two ways and IMO, did both well enuf. The theater was quiet during the dance without the snickers and thats usually a good sign!

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Praveen said...

Balaji,
Super review :)

As for the cast, I felt they were all there - Nasser, Malavika, Vadivelu's wife etc etc to carry on with the jokes. So I guess they serve some purpose. But Nasser was quite irritating as u rightly pointed out!

The Akilandeshwari character I guess could have been used as a distractor, helping in making the supsense more gripping. Just a though though :)

 
At 3:01 AM, Anonymous Maverick said...

Nice blog you got here. Am a classmate of your bro in D.G.Vaishnav, Chennai. Knew about your bbreviews earlier and I used to wonder how you manage your time for all these stuff. And now, this blog!! Just wondering if it is 24 per day there or more?

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

praveen, thanx for visiting.

maverick, thanx for visiting. have always found that my time expands to fill up the things I have to do :) But it'll definitely be a challenge keeping all this up once the second baby comes. As always, I'll cross that bridge when i come to it :)

 
At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Aries said...

We can also safely say that CM was not as bad as some previous attempts to remake Malayalam movies
Engiruntho Vanthaan [Vandhanam],
Seenu[Bharatham] to name a couple. Both Mohanlal starers. (was P Vasu part of both as well ?)

But CM, to me, is more than a "remake". Beyond a certain point, I felt it was an "ee adichaan copy". P Vasu has been unimaginably unoriginal.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

aries, yes CM was definitely better than other Malayalam remakes though the recent 'London'(from 'Kaakkaakkuyil') was not bad. I thot that was even more of an "ee adichaan" copy than CM!

'Seenu' was definitely P.Vasu though I'm not sure about 'Engirundho Vandhaan'.
btw EV was a remake of 'Chitram' and not 'Vandhanam'. I remember 'Vandhanam' was remade in Telugu with Nagarjun and Amala and then dubbed into Tamil.

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Aries said...

Oh yeah...stand corrected. It was Chithram. [ Finger slippu...] Thanks Balaji

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous mani said...

CM-excellent movie
saw it 5 times
it was a pure entertainer!!!
after kadhal movie i am watching another good movie.JOthika acting was excellent mind blowing!!!
i liked the last climax it was superb!!
"LAKALAKA"="KALAKAL!!!"


sachin-director tried to redo kushi but failed miserably in story/screenplay and the occasional smoke was irritating.
i had high hopes on Jeeva but he was a let down(except few scenes.)

MX- i was hoping to get another good comedy like thenali,avvai shanmugi,PKS,anbe sivam etc but this one was below average very bore.kamal cud hav asked mouli or crazy for writing dialogues.

 
At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess none of the guys who posted views have seen ManiChitraThazhu in Malayalam. It was a classic. MohanLal, Suresh Gopi, Shobhana (wow!), Nedumudi, Innocent and Thilakan were just out of this world in acting. The comedy as well as the music, with the special Tamil songs really blew your mind away.
After seeing Chandramukhi, I thought Baba was much better and Rajni should have stopped acting after Padayappa.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger bhuvan said...

Oh well, I just caught up with the film and found it to be as lacking and disappointing as BABA, despite being on the whole more spirited.

The use of CGI, as per se with Tamil films, was ridiculous and unintentionally funny, whereas the fourth-wall-breaking meta-narrative moments of Rajni paying tribute to Sivaji and making references to his long career were quite crowd-pleasing.

The story had too many characters, was too drawn-out and plain boring, whereas the song sequences added some much needed energy to the proceedings. Jyothika was better than usual, but that ain't saying much. Everyone else, except for Vadivelu and the unexpectedly hilarious Nassar, was on autopilot.

This could've been a contender, especially given the vitality of its best sequence: Devuda, Devuda. Someone write a story like MUTHU or ANNAMALAI for Rajni. Please!

 
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At 1:23 AM, Blogger Akshay Shah said...

Ace review Balajibhai! I loved CHANDRAMUKHI! I've heard the Malayalam version with Mohanlal is just as good, though ofcourse in a completely different vein as it's a much more serious and dark movie.

The last 45 minutes was spellbinding...

My review here

http://aakshayshah.blogspot.com/2007/02/akshay-shah-reviews-chandramukhi-tamil.html

BTW the movie is being remade in Hindi by remake specialist Priyadarshan titled BHOOL BHULAIYA with Akshay Kumar in the lead. Link to poster below. Talented actress Vidya Balan(PARINEETA, EKLAVYA, LRM) plays Jyothikas role.

http://aakshayshah.blogspot.com/2007/04/exclusive-first-look-bhool-bhulaiya.html

A.Shah

 
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