2 New Reviews
Reviews for Dhaas and A Aa are now available at bbreviews.
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Reviews for Dhaas and A Aa are now available at bbreviews.
Regular bbthots readers should've seen this coming :-)
Saw on Kaps’ blog that it is Kushboo’s birthday today and boy does she need some good wishes! Whoever thought that simply speaking one’s mind would land someone in such hot water?!
Movies like Autograph may have legitimized directors appearing before the camera too instead of simply staying behind it. But A Aa provides the strongest case yet for directors NOT turning into actors. S.J.Suryah before the camera is the biggest(albeit not the only) factor working against making his latest effort difficult to sit through.
Shiva(S.J.Suryah), an investigative reporter and his lover Madhu(Nila) live together. Madhu is unemployed and Shiva is always on the run, working double shifts, so that they can maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Wishing to lessen Shiva's workload, Madhu decides to start a restaurant along with her friend's brother. But Shiva fears that her daily proximity to her partner may lead to something between them and his suspicion leads to a rift between them. Now its upto their memories and thoughts of each other to reunite them.
Any review of A Aa is guaranteed to be spoiler-free since Suryah opens the movie with a monologue of what is essentially a synopsis of the entire movie. I'm not sure who Suryah thinks will be watching his movie but the narration seems way too condescending. A true case of dumbing down the audience. And from his grand declarations during the narration, Suryah truly seems to believe that he is God's gift to Tamil cinema.
Suryah undoubtedly has some good ideas in that mind of his. The brother lusting after his twin brother's wife in Vaali, lovers separated by their own egos in Kushi, a boy trapped in a grown man's mind in New - all these were new ideas. But the way he presents these ideas has unfortunately seen a decline in quality. In A Aa he gives form to the memories/thoughts of the hero and the heroine. It is an idea that is original, looks good on paper and there are a few scenes that point to how the concept could've been interestingly exploited. But the possibilities are hopelessly buried under heaps of over-acting and vulgarity.
Tamil cinema has seen the likes of Ramarajan and Kunal grace the screen. But I would go as far as saying that S.J.Surya in A Aa gives one of the most irritating performances ever by a leading man in Tamil cinema. He waves his arms more than an orchestra conductor, delivers every piece of dialog like he was talking to a deaf man and is more expressive than even Jyothika was in Kushi. He is never still and his body language makes him look like a puppet whose puppetmaster has gone crazy and is pulling his strings at random. It is clear that Nila wasn't chosen for her acting skills. But her inexpressive face and muted body language actually comes as a relief in this movie. Nambiar as the 'leader' of the thoughts(!) and Urvasi as a psychiatrist have cameos.
Suryah might have made himself and Nila live together purely for controversy but the fact does help make their separation believable. Their frequent fights and subsequent makeups help create the picture of an immature couple thrown together before they were ready for the burden of a life together. So the big fight seems believable when it happens.
Tamil cinema is really starved of new ideas with most directors having a "follow the herd" mentality. So Suryah's gimmick of giving form to the characters' thoughts got me interested. Unfortunately, it remains just that - a gimmick. Whats more irritating is that Suryah doesn't follow is own rules when he uses them either. So at one point, these 'forms' are actually able to blow hard enough to create a gust of wind that causes things to topple!. Eventually, their scenes end up looking like poor rip-offs of the scenes in Ghost. The amateurish execution(as when we see a group of 'thoughts' walking around) and cheesy graphics don't help either.
The glamor and double entendres worked in New because the movie was a sex comedy. But they are hopelessly out of place here. As Suryah talks with double entendres(or in many cases, moves his lips wordlessly thanks to the censors) in the middle of a romantic scene , the vulgarity seems heightened and only irritation sets in. What made Suryah proclaim that this movie is for family audiences, I have no idea.
The picturization of the song sequences is overdone too. The melodious Mayilirage... is completely ruined with lame graphics and unsuitable dance movements while its remix, Marangothiye..., physically hurts the eyes with its fast cuts and bright backgrounds. The choreography for the catchy Aararai Kodi... seems a little too chaotic and Suryah's steps, which I appreciated in New's Sakkara Inikkira..., seem forced and ineffective here. Varugiraai... is the only song that actually fits into the movie and its lyrics make a lot sense at the point where it appears.
I wish my memories about this movie would take a human form and leave me!
Steve Jobs finally knows what Bill Gates feels like!
Looking back, it is easy to remember life’s big pleasures. The big moments that had a significant impact on our lives and maybe even determined the direction the rest of our lives took. Gaining admission in college. Getting the visa to come to the US. Getting married. Becoming a dad. Getting a promotion. Watching the latest Rajni movie :-) Such moments are imprinted in our minds forever.
But as we enjoy (or look forward to enjoying) these big moments, we tend to forget that life throws up so many little pleasures too. Pleasures that get a raw deal and are usually dismissed rather unfairly as alpa sandhoshangal. So this post is dedicated to these li’l fellas. The things listed here may not have a big impact on my life. But for atleast a few seconds, they make me feel on top of the world. And that makes my day just a li’l bit better…
- See the traffic light turn to green just as I near the intersection so that I don't have to hit the brakes
- See the cutie at work park her car and walk to the door at the exact same time as me so that she smiles and says "Hi"
- Settle down at work to see no new (business) emails / phone messages
- Open up my personal email and see a bunch of comments for my latest post :-)
- Learn after coming to work that all managers are at an offsite meeting for the entire day
- See a car pull out from the spot closest to the mall/theater/office just as I drive up
- Parallel park on the first try
- Spot a customer return a brand-new movie I really wanna see just as I am walking out of the video store empty-handed
- Come to know of someone coming from India just when the current stock of thengappodi is about to run out
- Get a coupon through email for the exact item I’ve been thinking about buying (this happened to me today and I bought this)
- Wake up in the middle of the night, see that it’s just 2 o’clock and that the baby’s fast asleep, and go back to sleep :-)
- Paheli is India’s entry for the Oscars. I saw only about half hour of the film. So I'm not exactly in the position to comment on its selection. It was definitely original and quite colorful though. But my surprise is more on the other contestants for the entry. The Tamil entries were Kaadhal and Sachein. Sachein??!! What in God’s name did the judges find in Sachein that prompted them to even consider it as an entry for the Oscars?
But looking back on the 2005 releases so far, I realized that I would have a hard time picking even one movie as a nominee for any award. 2005’s not exactly been a good year for Tamil films, has it?
- A Aa is supposedly a hit. Who are these viewers that are going to the movie in enough numbers to make it a hit? I am yet to come across even a single positive review of the movie and the comments to this post mirrored my own opinion of it.If New’s success prompted SJS to make A Aa, I shudder to think what this success is going to make him come up with next. The good news is that his next directorial venture(Puli) is with Vijay. So after Kalvanin Kaadhali, we may be spared from seeing him on the screen for a while.
- Ghajini’s advance booking is on the same range as the advance bookings for Chandramukhi and Anniyan. It has a hero who hasn’t had a genuine solo hit (I read somewhere that Kakka Kakka was a hit only in the metros), a new heroine and a director who, inspite of two hits, isn’t exactly a household name. So what has contributed to the advance buzz on the movie? Is it the possibilities afforded by the Memento storyline? Is it the slick promos? Or just good PR?
Whatever the reason, I’ve succumbed to the hype too and am eagerly looking forward to it. All that’s left is to show up at the theater on Friday :-)
- Ghajini’s the first of 4 big releases for Asin. But she apparently has no movies signed after these 4 and the Sify article strangely says that none of the 4 heroes would pair up with her again. Why not? Our heroes are not averse to having the same heroine twice (or more) are they? After all, Vijay’s Aadhi will see him with Trisha for the third time.
The competition between Asin and Nayanthara seems to have spilled over to Andhra too though Nayan seems to have the edge there with movies with top heroes.
- Dhoom 2 is really revving up the star power. Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai are gonna play the bad guys! Quite a casting coup. Aish has played a negative character before but I was pleasantly surprised that Hrithik is not succumbing to the image game and is OK with playing a baddie.
Last week was the official advent of Fall here in the US. That brought back memories of a poem I wrote a few years ago. The inspiration was the tree in our front yard that had performed its annual striptease to mark the season...
I may risk losing some bbreviews readers with this post but I think I've finally found the best reviewer of Indian(Tamil and Hindi) movies on the web. I've seen Bharadwaj Rangan's name on Zero's and Munimma's blogrolls earlier but bloghopped to his site only today. And I'm hooked. He has a great writing style and his reviews are fair, gramatically correct, very humorous and have a real nice flow. Real classy stuff. To see what I mean, check out his reviews of Chandramukhi & Mumbai Express and Oru Naal Oru Kavavu & Anniyan and his very insightful interview/article on Shankar. Makes me wish he reviewed more Tamil movies.
Unscramble the 4 words(no plurals) and enter in the boxes below. Now select only the circled letters and unscramble them to answer the question at the bottom.
Longtime readers may remember that the CEO of an an online Indian movies sale and rental website contacted me regarding using my reviews from bbreviews on the site. The site MyPicks is now online.
Thot I’d escape this tag but 2 people(Raju, Mitr) tagged me. So here goes…
Things I say the most:
Just had let it out after watching(or rather, enduring) the first half of A Aa yesterday. What the hell was SJS thinking?!
Though not quite matching the (dubious) record set by Anniyan, Surya's eagerly anticipated Ghajini has been postponed a few times already. It has now been cleared by the censors and it looks like it might finally make it to the theaters on September 29. The censor board members "appreciated its racy and slick presentation" and those who saw the film(wonder who they are!) are "raving about it and Surya's performance". Lets hope the film ends this rather long drought of really good Tamil movies.
As you all probably know, Kollywood’s self-appointed captain Vijayakanth finally took the plunge into politics last week. He launched his new party in Madurai on September 14 with the unfurling of its flag and returned to Chennai yesterday to a rousing reception.Following the usual algorithm for party-naming in TN politics, he threw together unavoidable buzzwords like Dravida and Kazhagam to come up with the rather generic but familiar-sounding name of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam(DMDK) for his party.
Politics and cinema have been inseparable bedfellows in TamilNadu ever since Anna, Karunanidhi and MGR realized the power of cinema and decided to exploit it to further their political careers. The biggest crossover success was ofcourse MGR. His carefully-cultivated do-gooder image in cinema made him the darling of the masses and helped transform him into an unbeatable politician. Even before Iruvar’s thinly-veiled take on his life, I was aware of the myth of MGR through stories my dad narrated about him. His questioning of party accounts that led to the DMK split; his leading a procession to the governor’s office; his election victory while in the hospital (quite possibly the only instance where a candidate won an election without campaigning in person) – truly stuff that legends are made of.
The man might be dead but his name isn't. To date, any politician worth his salt tries to associate himself with MGR. Even Vijayakanth apparently entered the Madurai arena in the same van that MGR himself campaigned in during the 70s and 80s. Our current CM Jayalalitha too made it by latching herself tightly onto MGR’s wagon both literally and figuratively (remember her on his hearse?). I always wonder how many of the voters still simply vote for the irattai ilai rather than for her. She could probably be called a legend too since she has her share of stories. But unlike the stories about MGR, the ones about her usually invoke irritation rather than awe or admiration.
But the list of failures is much longer – Sivaji, Bagyaraj, Ramarajan, T.Rajendar. All made much-publicised attempts at politics and failed. There have also been the occasional S.V.Sekhar or Revathi contesting the election as independents. But the list of political aspirants from the cine-field only seems to be growing longer. Every election we see news about actors joining all political parties. And any popular actor is immediately asked about his "interest in politics" in every interview.
What is it that has made actors, automatic politicians-in-waiting? In many cases, it looks like a case of simply following the career path laid down by MGR, naively hoping for the same kind of success. Politics has now turned into the default next step for actors who are approaching the twilight of their careers. There is also the unwillingness to let go of the limelight that cinema provides them. These are people used to being fawned over, written about and mobbed when in public. So anonymity and isolation are not concepts they will be comfortable with. Being successful in politics will keep them in the public eye and unlike cinema, they could be politicians right until they take their last breath. There is always the hope that some actors enter politics out of a a genuine intent to do good; to leave their mark on history in a more permanent way than what is afforded by cinema.
Whatever the reason, Vijayakanth has proved to be a man of his word. It will be interesting to see if he manages to find the success that has eluded other actor-turned-politicians of recent times.
PS: While on the topic of actor-turned-politicians, Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced that he is gonna run for the second term as Governor of California. So he IS gonna be back!
I'd read somewhere that Trisha had acted in Jodi before her 'official' first film Lesaa Lesaa and finally got the chance to confirm it today. They showed Jodi on Sun TV today and Trisha does have a small role as one of Simran's friends. She looked a bit chubbier and had way less makeup than the Trisha we know today(after all, she was just the heroine's friend!). But quite a difference that made.
Reviews for Oru Kallooriyin Kadhai and Thotti Jaya are online at bbreviews.
One of the earliest word games I was exposed to(and soon became addicted to) was the Jumble. It appeared in the Sunday magazine of Indian Express and was the primary reason that our Hindu-addicted household bought the Sunday edition of IE. Imagine my joy when I subscribed to the San Jose Mercury News here and found that they carry a Jumble puzzle everyday! With all news now available online, that is the only aspect of the print edition that I miss since I stopped the subscription.
PS1: If you do find this interesting enough to play, could you jot down a quick comment saying so? Thanks.
PS2: No answers in comments maybe until Monday so as not to spoil the fun for others? Email bbalaji [at] sbcglobal [dot] net for hints/solution confirmation :-)
Ajith's Tirupathi had its launch at AVM studios. The biggest surprise was the chief guest - Ajith's arch-rival Vijay.
It looks like Vijay and Ajith are finally stopping letting their reel life rivalry spill over into real life. I've complained in the past about the battle waged by the two through dialogs and songs in their respective movies. And I don't recall seeing the two of them together at any movie launch or award function either. But Vijay giving up the title Tirupathi to Ajith and Perarasu, the director of Vijay's Tiruppaachi and upcoming Sivakasi, directing Tirupathi seem to indicate a thawing in their relationship. The two posed together like lifelong friends at the poojai. Now lets hope that this friendship extends onscreen too and they both stop taking childish potshots at one another.
PS1: The film's heroine is Sadha(sigh!) and she was there too but IMO, Shalini looks more like a heroine.
PS2: What's it with Ajith and his sunglasses? He was wearing them at the Paramasivan poojai too though both these poojais happened indoors.
Jeeva's film E(first Hindi D, then A Aa and now E. Looks like the current fad is to use letters as movie titles!) was also launched the same day. The producer, naturally, is Jeeva's dad R.B.Choudhary.
Surprisingly, this seems to be the most well-attended of the three launches. Guess R.B.Choudhary's clout was the reason for that. Kamal was the chief guest and both Ajith and Vijay made it too. I also spotted Sarathkumar & Radhika, Simbhu, Srikanth, K.S.Ravikumar, S.J.Suryah, Jeeva and Sibi apart from the film's heroine Nayanthara and cast members Vivek and Prakashraj.
My niece has recently joined Satyabhama Engineering College and my parents accompanied her mother to the college for the first day/orientation. Their description of the environment at the college surprised me no end. I’m not sure how many of the other colleges follow the same rules but I for one am glad I’m not enrolled there. The rules make it sound like a college in one of those dictatorial, futuristic societies we see in sci-fi movies.
Sunday was Kavya's birthday party and needless to say, she was tremendously excited. She rushed to open the door as the first of our friends walked in. And peeking at their hands she asked "Did you bring a gift?" Sure it was good for a laugh but the question captures the essence of the most loveable and adorable aspect of kids - their innocence. But somewhere along the way, as we grow up, we lose that. Sigh...
The iPod line has a new baby! Apple unveiled the iPod Nano a couple of days ago. The Nano is thinner(supposedly pencil-thin @ 0.27 inches) and sleeker than its predecessors and its battery lasts upto 14 hours. It can display the color art for the currently-playing album and can carry photos too. It comes in 2GB($199) and 4GB($249) models.
A good director can bring out the best in any actor and a good actor delivers his best irrespective of the director. But it is undeniable that some actors and directors share a chemistry that associates them closest with each other and drives both of them to give their best. Rediff has taken a look at some popular director-actor pairs in Hollywood. Here are a few pairs from Tamil cinema over the years.