Monday, September 12, 2005

Thotti Jaya


Thotti Jaya is an example of what happens when a director more comfortable directing romances tries his hand at directing an actioner. The film flows strongly and smoothly when the focus is on romance. But once the focus shifts to action, its sputters and struggles to keep our interest.

'Thotti' Jaya is the only name Jayachandran(Simbhu) goes by. Orphaned as a baby, he learned quite early that he could hit people (and hit 'em well) and that people were willing to pay good money for that. So he is now a goon of Seena Thaana(Pradeep Rawat), the biggest dada in Chennai. Forced to go into hiding to avoid the repercussions of a case, he goes to Calcutta, runs into Brinda(Gopika) and ends up escorting her back to Kanyakumari. The trip makes them both develop feelings for each other but problems crop up that make him go against his own boss.

For the first half, Thotti Jaya is a masala film. The introduction songs of Simbhu and Gopika confirm that. But it is a masala film without any masala touches. It has songs but no item numbers. It has romance but no duets, in foreign locations or otherwise. It has stunts but no special-effects-aided superhuman moves. And it has no comedy. These aspects, or rather, the lack of these aspects, make it a rather unique masala film pre-intermission. It is consistently involving, introduces likeable characters and fashions their interactions in a believable manner.

Director Durai proved in Mugavari(and to a lesser extent in Kaadhal Sadugudu) that fashioning a sweet and believable romance was his strength and he confirms that here. Thotti Jaya's romance is one of the best romances I remember seeing in a masala film. Though the basic circumstances, the timing and the reasons are the same as in Gilli, the romance here is even more believable. The way Simbhu and Gopika behave is very credible and in line with their characters. They hardly speak a few words to each other but the way Simbhu understands her requirements and does the needful is very sweet. And Gopika's reactions are measured and never over-the-top(her glance at Simbhu and her body language when she comes out of the restroom in the train look so natural) . So the feelings they experience at the end of the journey are very believable and the way the feelings are haltingly conveyed is very nice.

Durai is completely out of his league in the second half though. With romance out of the way and the battle between Simbhu and Pradeep now gaining top priority, he struggles to move the story forward. The movie is reduced to a series of sequences of Simbhu and Gopika running to a new place and fighting with the rowdies at that place. And many of those elements that were missing in the first half find their way into the movie too. So we get an item number, a folksy duet that sticks out like a sore thumb and unnecessary characters. These elements may go unnoticed usually but after a first half that was very different, the presence of these is more than a little irritating.

There are a few places(like the way Simbhu fashions his escape from the terrace of an apartment complex) that the movie shows signs of some cleverness. But those are too few and too far apart to rescue the film. It sinks under the weight of the one-too-many stunts and other unnecessary distractions. In retrospect, what the second half needed was a director like Dharani who mixed brain and brawn equally in similar situations in movies like Dhill, Dhool and Gilli.

Bearded Simbhu looks scarily like his dad in many scenes. But he confirms that Manmadhan wasn't just a flash in the pan when it comes to performing a role realistically. There is no finger-swishing and no punch dialogs here either. He is very restrained and lets his hands do the talking. Gopika spends most of the movie looking scared and running away from the bad guys. But she does do that well. Her sore point is obviously dancing. Pradeep Rawat is unnecessarily loud and gets on the nerves(he could've taken some pointers from Kanaa Kanden's Prithviraj). And his get up makes him look like the bhootham in those old Vittalacharya movies!

The movie has one song(Gopika's group song) that wasn't part of the soundtrack but it isn't anything special. On the other hand, I don't think Yaaridamum... appeared in the film. Uyire En Uyire... is picturized pleasingly and plays in the background instead of being picturized as a conventional duet. The cinematography matches the serious mood of the movie. Black and other dark colors dominate the palette and the atmosphere is gritty.

First half - Vetri Jaya
Second half - Vetti Jaya

17 Comments:

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous GP said...

Adhukkulle parthacha? mmm.. naan parthadhukku appuram padikkirenn..

 
At 3:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji
1.No Item numbers in the first half.?
There were 2 Item songs in the movie.I think one was the "thotta power" song and other was "yaari singari" .(Maybe the former didnt have one Item gal,but still the song was shot with the bar dancers)

2.What about the theme music?The one that plays with the intro of simbhu.Wasnt that fantastic.?

3.The BGM was very strong,songs not so good.

Some common thoughts that I agree,good performances,the movie reminded me a lot of gilli and the romance was quite good.

Sumant

 
At 7:16 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

Looks like after the over-rated pathetic "Run" which somehow ran in theaters, one of the recent masala trends seem to be for the hero to drag his heroine and run throughout the film, with songs placed at regular intervals.ennikku dhaan originala think paNNUvaangaLo theriyala

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous GP said...

Balaji, you have been tagged by me. Pl. check my recent post.

 
At 9:10 AM, Anonymous ram said...

bb, am yet to check out thotti jaya but am sooooo disappointed that yaaridamum... doesnt feature in the movie...i've gone completely bonkers over that song...uyire en uyire too...but andha song enakku pitham pidichiduthu...

Durai's Mugavari, though a little flawed, is one of my all-time favs...thanks to Balakumaran's dialogues and the performances...yep, the romance in Mugavari was a delight...esp. the "kaettuchaa" sequence...and the b'day wish...will look fwd to thotti jaya with guarded optimism :)

btw, where's rekhs, our Tamil Cine Lyrics guide?!

 
At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Gopi said...

vijay said...

"ennikku dhaan originala think paNNUvaangaLo theriyala"

I doubt if any of these movies will be remembered 10 years down the road. I mean I might still buy a Mouna Raagam, Sindu Bairavi or an Autograph DVD 10 years down the road but would I buy a Gilli or a "Tub" Jaya DVD? Me thinks not. But many years ago when Rajnikanth was making his first movies, a lot of people might have felt about his movies the way I feel about Vijay's movies today. (Did I just counter myself there?).

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

balaji,
you have been taged by me and Gp....check my blog to see....

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sumant, 'thotta powerda' is kinda an intro song for simbhu and so i didnt consider that an item number. i consider item number to be a song sung by someone who's in the movie just for that song. 'jaari singaari' was an item number but thats in the 2nd half.
and yes, BGM and theme music were defly good.

vijay, i loved 'run' and didnt think it was overrated at all. and u're right, it was defly a trendsetter for these kinda movies.

gopi, i think the screenplay has the power to overcome any lack of originality in the story. i do own 'run' and 'gilli' dvds but will not be buying 'tub jaya' for sure :)

mitr/gp, already saw the tag(adhaan unga blogs daily padikkirene:-) just been too lazy to get to it :) will do so soon...

 
At 8:03 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

Balaji, surprised you liked Run. It was an early 80s kind of story(if you can call that a story)with a one-dimensional non-thinking villian who has no reasons for his actions. Madhavan's "thayirsaadham" face works against his action hero image which he tried to develop. A couple of songs were good. "Run"'s success is as inexplicable as "Chinnathambi's in the early 90s. namma janangaLukke veLichcham. I remember you saying that you watched Chinnathambi recently and thought the movie had dated and looked silly. Same would apply with Run.These are just temporary successes or flukes.
I agree with Gopi, Run is already forgotten by most, I dont think anybody will watch the DVD even next year leave alone 10 years from now :-)It is definitely not an example of good cinema.

"But many years ago when Rajnikanth was making his first movies, a lot of people might have felt about his movies the way I feel about Vijay's movies today."
the difference is Rajni was original at that time.He developed an unique style. He didnt ape anyone in his earlier years. Vijay has abolutely nothing original right now. If I start writing about that guy apparam vaayila edhaavadhu vandhuda pogudhu, I better stop now.

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger Ram.C said...

the last two lines had summed up the movie

 
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At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi!! do you know the name of the dancers in "yaari singarri"

 
At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read » »

 

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