Sunday, June 25, 2006

Paarijaatham


In my review of Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam, I included Bagyaraj in the list of directors who had been unable to change their styles to suit the tastes of the current generation of viewers. But with Paarijaatham, he makes a strong case for being removed from that list. He has applied his well-known talent at mixing sentiments and humor to a youthful love story and added enough screenplay flourishes to deliver an entertaining film that provides a nice break from the current trend of glamour and violence on the screen.

When Seetha(Seetha) moves into her new house, Sumathi(Saranya), who lives across the street with her ailing father, becomes her servant-maid. Seeing Sumathi’s good nature, Seetha decides in her mind that she would promote her from servant-maid to daughter-in-law. She plans to convey the same to her husband(Prakashraj) and son Sridhar(Prithviraj) when they join her in a few days but things don’t go according to plan.

Almost the entire first half features a story-in-a-story as Prithviraj and Saranya enact a story that Saranya narrates to Seetha. It is an interesting and novel concept though at the end of it we realize that the segment amounts to little more than a filler. Take away the entire episode and the movie is barely affected since the main story essentially starts only after this mini-story ends. But inspite of this, it is not frustrating since the segment manages to be funny and interesting.

The story-in-a-story concept points to cleverness on the part of Bagyaraj, the director. The main story in Paarijaatham is quite serious. There’s a lot of drama but because of the way the characters are placed, it provides little opportunity for romance or humor. But those two, as much as sentiments, are Bagyaraj’s strengths and so he uses the mini-story to provide them both. And it works. Prithiviraj plays the same kind of role that Bagyaraj played in every movie – one where the joke’s usually on him. The self-deprecatory humor in almost every scene leads to a lot of smiles and a few laughs as he falls for Saranya. And since the romance starts off with their engagement, it is rather sweet and avoids the clichés of the usual love-at-first-sight romances.

The second half is a testimony to Bagyaraj’s skills at penning an interesting screenplay. The ending itself is a foregone conclusion and so there is no suspense about where we are going. More important is how we get there and with Bagyaraj at the helm, it is a mostly interesting ride. Inventing a character for himself to take care of the humor, he creates enough roadblocks in the way to the climax but does so without things getting irritating and then removes them cleanly also.

With a wafer-thin story and a predictable ending in hand, Bagyaraj has had to rely on some screenplay innovations to make things interesting. One ofcourse is the aforementioned story-in-a-story technique. Taking a page from Thiruttu Payale’s book, he also employs the technique where a scene is shown first and its conclusion, usually different from what we were led to believe, is shown much later. So some disconnected scenes that give the movie a slightly disjoint feel initially end up proving their worth later.

But there are times when the old-fashioned director in Bagyaraj rears his head. A lot of things are resolved with one of the characters overhearing others talk and this looks artificial and a little too convenient in many places. Subtlety is also lacking throughout with Bagyaraj hammering things(like Saranya’s good nature) home instead of letting his visuals do the talking.

The film is a launching pad for Bagyaraj’s daughter Saranya. She’s not gonna win any acting awards but does a good job considering its her first film. Like most debutantes, she is inhibited and doesn’t let go in many scenes. No such complaints about Prithviraj though. He does the romantic hero role as well he played the villain in Kanaa Kanden and surprisingly, shows a lot of flair for comedy. His flustered expressions play a big part in the laughs generated in the first half. The huge bevy of supporting actors does their parts well and Bagyaraj shows that he retains his knack of eliciting laughs with his dialog delivery alone.

The picturization of song sequences is probably the department where Bagyaraj’s change of style is most evident. All sequences have been picturized aesthetically and have a gloss that was never part of the songs in Bagyaraj’s movies before. The sequence shot in foreign locations and the one shot in the rain really catch the eye.

Paarijaatham - Fragrant.

PS: I wonder if the letter S is a good luck charm for Bagyaraj. Every important character, both in the main story and the mini-story, has his/her name starting with S. This isn’t used to create any confusion like it was in Jery but certainly stands out.

17 Comments:

At 2:02 AM, Blogger Bart said...

I somehow felt "Parijatham" was just okay.
- The filler story to fill first half made me feel cheated inspite of the fact that half was handled better than second half.
- The lengthy dialogues (irritating sometimes), use of some archaic words (forgot now after 10 days), oversmartness of some characters (intro scenes of heroine, intro scenes of bhagyaraj himself) were thorns.
- Second half, inspite of the minor twists was dragging as the end was clear
- Half-boiled characters (Person who runs behind heroine and the person who become hero's fiancee)
- the sections like lottery winning cobbler was too predictable and belong to 80s..
- the second half had more the stamp of a Visu than Bhagyaraj. I felt so strongly.
Song picturisation, as you rightly put, is an area where Bhagyaraj has improved leaps and bounds. The screenplay had enough stuff to make you say "it was okay". (I felt you could see Bhagyaraj's acting behind Prithviraj atleast in the first half, very clearly.. though its not a negative)
Overall, could be watched max once (strictly) in whatever be the medium.

 
At 4:11 AM, Blogger raj said...

That thing about picturisation being better could be because of a new assistant. :-)
How can a leopard change his spots? I think when we lionise people like Bhagya, we forget the contribution of assistants

 
At 4:21 AM, Blogger raj said...

actually, Kanaa Kandaen was teh surprise from Prithviraj, a tried and tested hero in mallu-land. The guy has high potential and was touted as the next big thing after M & M in M-land. But many of his movies flopped. I have seen a few, mainly on Asianet and Surya,a nd he seems a very natural actor - he sure has potential to succeed Mohanlal(but not in the rajnikant type movies/persona of mohanlal).
as a natural actor. You can check out movies like Nandanam, Gramaphone, Nakshatra Kannulloru Rajakumaran, Velli Thira etc. Be warned however that none of these movies are worth watchin on other counts(pathetic stories, screenplays etc).
BTW< I am not a Mallu and I am not a Prithiviraj fan. Just happened to watch these movies. I am not even a movie buff :-)

 
At 6:59 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Exactly my thoughts, Balaji. But somehow I missed seeing the Bhagyaraj style of acting in Prithiviraj. He was very impressive and the ease with which he did both the romance & humour portions was particularly very admirable. Other than that, it would have been good if the Madan Bob episode had been avoided which kind of spoilt an otherwise neat entertainer.

 
At 7:04 AM, Blogger kuttichuvaru said...

I too Parijatham cud hav been made better...... the story-in-story was gud until sometime n then I felt it took off too much time of the actual movie.... but, was a gud timepass....

n BTW, prithviraj's name in the movie is Surendar n only in the story-in-story, it is sridhar.... guess u made a mistake there :-)

 
At 7:53 AM, Anonymous ram said...

havent seen this movie as yet but just hope it marks the comeback of Bhagyaraj...looks like its doing reasonably well @ the marquee. hope Bhagyaraj continues to make such neat (from ur review) entertainers....hoping to watch this soon.
amazing how some directors make comebacks like these while for others like R.V. Udayakumar (karka kasadara), it's more like "go-backs!"
makes me appreciate the worth of a Director like K. Balachander who changed his subjects and presentation to the tastes of every generation starting from the 60s till the early 90s, while always presenting subjects ahead of its time ("aboorva raagangall" in '75- i can only say, "WOW!")

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger skanda said...

The entire film is cute and i'm sure it would have been a blockbuster in the early 90s...Bhgyraj should have done the film a little differently...His directional style still belongs to the 80s...But the romance and comedy were nice but the sentimental scenes looks fake...

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Prasanna said...

nice review balaji. Yet to see the film. Guess it wld be a gud one to watch. And u rightly said it abt Baghyaraj? Guess other directors who have been successful in the past but flops in recent times wld have something to learn from him.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, I would put Ramarajan and Bhagyaraj together for the worst hero material that made it big in Tamil cinema.

Coming to Prithviraj, he is an awesome actor. I saw only a few of his films, but in them, he was very natural. His first film was Nandanam(2002) and he was only 19 years old then(he looks much older than his age). He acted very naturally and had great screen presence, though the film was heroine-oriented. And he was great as a womanizer in Swapnakodu.

I think he experimented too much with roles. That would be okay in the Mallu industry of the 80s, but not in this age. He acted as a father of a 5 year old girl when he was barely 20. I guess people can't fathom that kind of stuff. Wish him best of luck. Mallu industry needs good looking talented youngsters who can probably force Mammooty to do films that ban his dancing:-)

-Kajan

 
At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1.Hero spoke with Mamooty accent.
2.His mannerisms somehow reminded me of rajni and vijay
3.Mayiru-Uriyu Joke was symbolic
4.Sharanya B somehow resembles Mumtaj,dont get me wrong..antha siripu is kinda kinky..lol
5.Music director gets thumbs up
6.Kinda Visu's schema in the second half

-lankasri priyan

 
At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was an ok movie only. But certainly a lot better than the violent gruesome vulgar crap nowadays available for tamil movie watchers. The movie felt too old fashioned and there were too many coincidences and people over hearing stuff. Prithviraj overacted in the first half and in the second half he had nothing much to do. Saranya was likeable. Overall it was a timepass only.

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

bart, looks like we noticed the same things about the movie - the standalone mini-story, the end being clear, etc. but overall looks like i liked it more than u.

raj, yes it sure could be. there r a lot of assistant directors who go on to become directors themselves. so if there really is a good asst. director to bagyaraj, we'll probably hear about him soon :)

filbert, i forgot to mention the climax. u're right. the whole segment with madan bob spoilt the otherwise clean nature of the film... and it was stretched too long also.

kuttichuvaru, oops... i guess all the 'S' names confused me :)

ram, bagyaraj took a wrong step with 'sokkathangam' where his style didnt gel with vijayakanth's. but he's bounced back with this. hope its success makes him make more such films...

 
At 12:37 AM, Blogger Kaps said...

i couldn't stand the voices of prithviraj and saranya. saranya needs to lose weight and improve on her acting.

 
At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally got to see the film.

It is alright, and I am starting to wonder if we are getting satisfied with average films due to the lack of, well, above average films:-)

Everyone knows the story. Definitely, the flashback, starting the romance with engagement right off were appealing. But I felt the flashback episode was stretched too long. Especially, since it has nothing at all to do with the main story, except that Seetha reveals her intentions afterwards. The second half had lots of twists, but failed to generate as much entertainment.

Prithviraj is, as was said, very good in his role. Contrary to what others said, I think his mallu accent didn't come out too much. With Mamooty, it's very obvious. And actually, his voice is pretty good, when compared to say Bhagyaraj:-) I kept wondering how he was once a hero with that voice!

Saranya needs to learn to act freely. For a newcomer, she was good, but one expects better performance from an actress who uses her own voice to dub.

Music, I wasn't too fond of, simply because it doesn't stay in the mind. But onscreen, the song picturization was what held my interest.

Didn't like Bhagyaraj taking over second half with his own role. He could have saved us some pain. There are better comedians out there.

BTW, I totally agree with whoever said that Prithviraj reminded them of Bhagyaraj. And now I finally know who Vijay copies in comedy scenes (GILLI!)! Prithviraj's dialogue delivery and facial expressions must have been dictated by Bhagyaraj word per expression. I guess he purposely went overboard, and it worked for the first half. But hopefully, he doesn't follow up with the same kind of roles.

-kajan

 
At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Vikram said...

Long time reader

First time commenter

I think the first half is not just a filler, I think Bhagyaraj used it to make us emotionally attached to the lead pair. Without that, I think you would not feel strongly that the two should get back together.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger ranganathan said...

first time visiting your home...and started with fragrance...!!

good attempt...
all the very best!!!

 
At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just the same the film 10 times just for the sake of saranya bhagyaraj... she is simply awesome...
but pity me... she is choosing very few films... i simply loved her....

 

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