Sunday, November 06, 2005

Majaa


To me, the word that best describes Majaa is 'ordinary'. It has all ingredients, like romance, comedy, sentiments and fights, that go towards making a masala movie. But none of these are done to the point of being arresting. That might work for a small movie with modest ambitions. But when you have a popular hero and a movie that is accompanied by a bit of hype, the blandness just doesn't cut it. Ofcourse, since it has all the ingredients and a capable cast that doesn't make a mess of them, Majaa is entertaining. But just barely.

Govindan(Manivannan) and his two adopted sons Aadhi(Pasupathy) and Madhi(Vikram), are now reformed thieves, determined to earn an honest living in another village. But when their lorry breaks down halfway, they are forced to stay in the house of Chidambaram(Vijayakumar), who is buried under a mountain of debts. Aadhi and Madhi go about freeing Chidambaram from the clutches of Kaalinga Raayar(Murali). Aadhi falls for Chidambaram's daughter Selvi(Anu Prabhakar) while Raayar's daughter Seetha(Asin) falls for Madhi.

The film has a hero easy to root for, a charming heroine and a good supporting cast. But inspite of this it fails to get cracking since all aspects of it are muted. Its romance is limited since Vikram is, as far I could see, never in love with Asin and she falls for him for all the wrong reasons. Its comedy is never sustained enough to result in any funny sequences of substantial length. It only raises a few chuckles because of Pasupathy, his broken English and his behavior around Anu Prabhakar. Its sentiments are light and mostly treated with a comic touch. And its fights, barring a couple at the end, are ho-hum. Put them together and you should get an idea of why the movie doesn't really rise above the ordinary as a whole.

Though quite predictable and rather simplistic, the film's story has enough meat to keep the movie moving. The comedy, sentiments and romance keep us engaged since they usually occur in quick succession. So though they are individually weak, none of them last long enough to make us bored. As a result, very few scenes seem to run on for longer than necessary and Majaa manages to keep the viewer engaged.

Majaa completely lacks what I like to call high points. These are sequences, usually in masala movies, that raise our adrenaline and get us involved a bit more in the film. So even if the rest of the movie is ordinary, the movie keeps moving forward on the energy of these scenes(the pre-intermission scene in Baasha, the subway fight in Run and the election booth sequence in Dhool would be some examples). Majaa, on the other hand, flows at a steady pace with no real highs, be it in the romance, the comedy or the fights. Watching it is like driving a car on cruise control. You can sit back and relax but there is a real danger that you might fall asleep at the wheel!

Majaa might have let go of chances of raising both the comedy and the sentiment quotient by starting too late in the lives of its characters. When we first meet Manivannan and his two sons, they are reformed and we then learn of their closeness through bits of dialog scattered throughout the film. But the few scenes of their lives as thieves during the Podhumadaa Saami... song late in the film are very funny and give a hint of what could have been. A segment on their 'pre-reformed' lives might have given the movie a funny start, apart from providing a more solid foundation for their bonding.

Vikram is rough and tough throughout, getting almost no chance for romance. Pasupathy is the surprise package and almost the life of the movie. He makes us push aside his villainous face and image and smile and root for his shy romance to be a success. His expressive face suits comedy just as well as it suited villainy and full credit goes to Kamal for first finding him and then uncovering a new facet of his talent. Asin looks very pretty in most scenes(loose hair suits her much better than a ponytail or other tied-up hairstyles) but after a fiery start(where she gets to whack Vikram on the back), is relegated to the sidelines. Inspite of trying hard, Biju Menon's face just isn't able to convey the menace required to be an effective villain. Vadivelu raises a few chuckles and Murali seems uncomfortable initially before his character changes around.

I've always felt Vikram has a very poor dress sense for song sequences and the first dress he wears for the Solli Tharavaa... sequence has to be the worst so far. The sad part is that that is the stand out part of the otherwise unimaginatively picturised duet. Chee Chee...'s clean picturization belies the sensuous nature of the song's lyrics. In fact the movie on the whole is one of the cleanest in recent times and is the first movie I remember in a while where the heroine and even the item number actress(Sindhu Tolani, who joins Vikram for Thai Maasam...) don't expose their navels! Hey Pangaali...'s picturization manages to match the high energy of the song itself.

There are quite a few fights but the standout is the fight between Vikram and Pasupathy in the mud. Both actors seem to have done most of it without stunt doubles and it shows on screen. The climactic fight is also well mounted though it seems to go on for too long.

Majaa is rather saadhaa!

26 Comments:

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey bb,

once again totally concur with ur review .. saw it over the weekend and this is what i told my family - majaa : majaa illai ..

@run

 
At 5:55 PM, Anonymous ram said...

dey bittu naaye, "majaa: majaa illai" -- nee enna Sun TV reporter-aa! sudup man, sudup...

 
At 7:18 PM, Blogger srivat said...

Good review. I too felt that the movie is ordinary.I haven't seen the original malayalam movie. Gives me a feeling the director was sticking to the same script.Had he made some changes to it, with tamil viewers in mind this would've been more enjoyable.

 
At 7:34 PM, Blogger skanda said...

what did Vikram find in the original that he desperately wanted to make it in tamil...i had high hopes that it would be another "friends" . "engal anna" or "tenkasi patanam"..which were some good remakes of malayalam comedies...

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger still_figuring_out said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

aye ram who is that daak voice .. sonadhu rongu idhulla songaa ?? sud up man sud up ..


btw asin only 6 - 7 scenes in the movie & a couple of songs .. a big let down after ghajini ..

@run

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Balaji, your review was just what I thought. There were no high points, Pasupathi stole the show, Vikram was ordinary and so on.
The movie seriously lacked stuff in the second half.. Actually, it had ended after the second scene in second half when everyone agrees on Vikram marrying Asin. Then the villain character putting in his attendance saying "I also received some paycheck, sir" was stupidity. but the director had senses not to prolong the inevitable for long (second half runs totally for around 45 min).
Uppu chappilladha majaa..

 
At 9:46 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

@run, i did think of that closing line. but thot it was too easy :) but it does fit the movie perfectly :)

asin fared better than she did in 'sivakasi' though!

srivat, i havent seen the original either but i'm sure a few changes have been made for Tamil. i know there's something missing from the film but this is 1 of those films where its tough to pinpoint exactly whats wrong :)

skanda, my thots exactly. i think the original must've been more of a comedy. the director must have increased the action to suit vikram and ended up shortchanging both the action and the comedy.

still, as i always says, reviews r going to be subjective :)

 
At 9:54 PM, Blogger Ram.C said...

agree... the movie was very ordinary... nothing much extra ordinary...

 
At 12:43 AM, Blogger skanda said...

i think that "Majaa" in the first place had no story to speak off..also there is no point of conflick in the film...

 
At 3:41 AM, Blogger Rajesh said...

I hope people involved in the film
did not do their home work well.
Otherwise they would brought the
film with much more comedy than the
original malayalam film...

Yes..the director must have messed
up with Stubborn character of vikram with comedy..

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger Me too said...

"full credit goes to Kamal for first finding him(Pasupathy)" - Pulahaangidham, sir!!!

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger Rishi said...

hi Balaji,

I think Pasupathy from naser group. I seen him in Naser film before Vitumandi as a English Policeman in naser Film. (oops forgot that film name... in which he acts as a revolutionist).

In that he played a short but Good role.

 
At 6:16 AM, Anonymous b a l a j i said...

Had a feeling that the sentiment scenes in the second half were a bit overdone. Who would want to see brothers quarelling, ppl weeping and sentiment songs in a so-called comedy movie.

In addition to pretty ordinary songs, their placement in the second half was irritating.

 
At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the film is turning out to be a damp squib at the box-office whereas sivakasi is turning out to be a super hit........

http://sify.com/movies/tamil/fullstory.php?id=13978481

kadavule...........

 
At 8:39 AM, Blogger Raju said...

Exactly my thoughts on several points you mentioned (Vikaram's dress, Pasupathi the real surprise and the Kamal connection, Asin's whack).. Paavam Asin.. A rather forgettable Diwali.. no wonder why Trisha backed off from Majaa.

 
At 10:07 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

looks like deepavali movies are all going 'busuuu'

BTW need your inputs on my audio blog thanks in advance

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger vee-jay said...

Here is the guy who designed Vikram's costumes!!!!

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

Bart, thanx! villain appearing for paycheck is OK. ivlo chappunu oru villain was the bigger problem :)

me too, ella article-leyum rajni pathi oru line will always catch my eye. seems the same way with kamal for u :)

rishi, yep, u're right. the movie was 'maayan'. my mistake. the role in 'virumaandi' was so well done that i forgot his role before :)

vee-jay, hadnt seen that article b4. and the dress in the pic is the exact 1 i was complaining about!! devuda devuda...

 
At 1:16 PM, Anonymous ram said...

gosssssssh, vikram's dress-sense has gone way too wacky...bb, did u know that rekhs actually worked with vikram for his costumes for sethu? wonder what she has to say for this ridiculous choice of costume by vikram!

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

Balaji- was hoping to see your review sooner,since you saw the movie on Saturday. To go with public opinion, most of your thoughts on the movie are right on track. This is the first Asin movie i am watching-just another pretty face and Vikram's costumes were outrageous, did change my scary impression on Virumandi's Pasupathi..overall majaa rombave satharanam thaan.

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

I don't know about you, Balaji, but for once, Krishna and I concurred on how much we liked the film. It was funny when it needed to be, senti when that was important and tried to provide enough of everything as possible.

I guess, we were ready to laugh and take it easy... and "Majaa" was just right for us!.. We laughed and felt quite pleased with what we saw.. Surely, "Majaa" may not be a classic for you, it's not classic by my measure either.. but it's good, clean entertainment..

It doesn't ridicule its audience or think of itself too highly.. given today's tamil cinema, that's a lot to expect from a tamil movie..

As history always repeats itself, good movies never do well at the box office.. may very well be the case with "Majaa" as well. Did you read the small bit at sify.com today?..

Vikram-ukku chinna sarukkal... (by box office standards) he'll come out smelling like a rose after this one.. He always does..

Maybe he shouldn't have done Anniyan to begin with.. His next film raised people expectations to gargantuan proportions unnecessarily, giving very little space for originality or creativity (or even a little space to do an "ordinarily" funny comedy!..) Poor Vikram!..

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

Ok...

Asin & Vikram match doesnt look good.. samethign with Asin & Vijay.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, yep. i found his costumes in 'arul' to be pretty bad but this one beat even those! yeah, i think she's mentioned it. next time inga vandhaa ketturuvom :)

mitr, enna kindalaa?! :) with 2 kids and a wife who doesnt like me sitting in front of the computer, review nethu pottadhe jaasthi :)

sandhya, have to say i'm surprised. it was clean entertainment sure. but i felt the movie just lacked energy. it was too low-key and had no real standout moments. i didnt laugh loud at any of the comedy scenes and felt the senti scenes were rushed since they didn't want them to intrude in a comedy flick.

merino, vikram and asin aren't together long enuf to see if the pair looks good!! :)

 
At 11:52 PM, Blogger Arun said...

Sudhish Kamat's comments in the Hindu points out Vikram's dilemma in doing character roles without entirely shedding his hero image. Made sense. The comedy, mostly sublime, is the best part, as you said. Especially, the inclusion of humour in the potentially sentimental and serious parts, like the scene where Murali takes Vikram aside after the theft sequence and asks him to close the door.

 
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