Monday, October 23, 2006

E


Considering that his previous film Iyarkai(which was also his first film) was a love triangle, director Jhananathan has been bold in selecting a heavier, more ambitious and more topical subject for his follow-up feature E. But at the end of the film, after a convoluted screenplay, some uneven characterization and an overblown climax, we feel let down that he has just managed to trivialize the important issue that he selected.

E(Jeeva) lives with his grandmother in the slums, doing anything people ask him to do, as long as the money is right. Jyothi(Nayanthara), a dancer in a hotel, moves into the house opposite his and develops a liking towards him. One of the men who uses E regularly is Dr.Ramakrishna (Ashish Vidyarthi), a popular doctor who helps the poor by offering them free treatment. But in reality, he is developing a virus that could be used as a weapon and performs his research on patients who come to him for treatment.

E sure aims bigger than most Tamil movies as it tackles issues like biological warfare and pharmaceutical companies using the poorer, illiterate masses in the Third World countries as unwitting research subjects. But having picked this topic, it fails to do justice to it. It barely skims the surface of the issue and is frustrating because of that. The duppanguthu songs and the romance and the wisecracks are fine initially. But as the movie proceeds, we expect the issue to take centerstage. Instead, the focus increasingly turns to Jeeva and the movie then becomes about his character and the tough choices he has to make.

Jeeva here is certainly a very interesting protagonist. Along the lines of Tamil cinema heroes recently, he walks on the wrong side of the law and does so without trying to justify it. We are frequently surprised at his actions and behavior be it towards Nayanthara or Pasupathy. His romance with Nayanthara reflects this. The two are interesting characters very different from the usual hero and heroine in Tamil movies and the romance exploits this. While she firmly believes that she can change him, he is unable to change for the sake of love. This naturally leads to fireworks. Though the romance starts off weak, the two then have some very interesting conversations and meetings.

While the trend in Tamil cinema is to produce mostly feel-good films, Jananathan can be applauded for presenting what could be termed a “feel-bad film”. The main theme of patients being unwitting guinea pigs in illegal research is scary enough to make us view every doctor with doubt. The fact that even a few bad apples in the medical profession are enough for the scenario to come true and the truth behind some of Ashish Vidyarthi’s statements make the movie scary. There are individual scenes, like Jeeva’s trip to the morgue, that turn our stomachs with their depiction of the conditions of the place and the treatment meted out to the inhabitants. And on a physical level, there are a couple of close-ups that made me wince and avert my eyes.

We are used to our filmmakers dumbing down any new concepts that they present to the viewers. So the extravagant graphics that show how the drugs work are acceptable. We can even overlook the doctor naming his project with the not-so-subtle title “Project Bio War”! But the characterization of the bad guys could have used a little subtlety. Ashish Vidyarthi is so blatant about his acts that we feel someone so stupid could not have done all this! The movie also stumbles badly when it enters sci-fi territory towards the end. The path to a lab is so futuristic and unreal that it takes away from the realism Jhananathan had strived to bring out so far. And the final scene, with Jeeva smiling at the camera, is possibly the worst way to convey the turn of events, considering the seriousness of the issue.

Jeeva cements his reputation as a dependable performer here. He has become one of those actors who can transform himself into the character and be completely believable. With a disheveled appearance and great body language, he is completely at home as E. There is more “acting” here and he is not as natural as he was in Dishyum but he is definitely impressive. Nayanthara has a tough time fitting in with the other residents of the slum. There were reports she’s lost weight but that must’ve been after this film! She still looks plump and her moves in the Kala Kala… dance remind us of Ghajini. She looks good even sans makeup though. Pasupathy is solid as always in a role that requires him to be immobile a lot of the time. Ashish plays the doctor just as he plays any other villain and the glasses make his job easy. Karunas doesn’t try too hard for laughs and so is tolerable.

25 Comments:

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm interesting... i've agreed with most of your reviews over the website reviews for other movies, so i'll be catching this one with less excitement than before your review. my cousins back in india said that the storyline of E has been quite the craze, and besides the ajith's great performance, varalaaru hasn't lived up to its hype.

 
At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Balaji, I'm a little surprised.. but then, I was the one who initially sent you a link to the "E" trailer with the caption "Cheesy good fun".. I didn't think the graphics were much more than "cheesy" anyway. Looks like the film isn't either. But honestly, it looks like "E" will actually do well (looking at what's being said in the media about the film so far!) in the long run. Either way, better to see this kind of film from Jeeva, than anything run-of-the-mill, which might ruin the good streak that he has going for him! :-)

Thanks for the great review, Balaji. Now, I'm looking forward to what you'd think of Vallavan after seeing it coming weekend! :-)

 
At 11:07 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anjali, i read a few reviews too and it looks like this might be 1 of those movies where my opinion differs from most others':) but yes... the storyline definitely has whats needed to capture our imagination :)

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sandya, jeeva's probably the best thing about the movie. nice how he's turned into 1 of those actors whose movies we look forward to because they'll be different...

as i said to anjali, i'm guessing my review will differ from most others. i've noticed that our media goes ga-ga over any movie that does something different. same happened for 'thiruttu payale'. i think i'm excited about the new part too but then i settle down and see how well the movie does what it tried to do. and that was why i wasn't too thrilled about 'thiruttu payale' and was thrilled even less about 'E'!

 
At 1:42 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

Balaji,

You can forgive Jeeva, considering this is his 6th (or 5th) film?.

Can you start another blog as to who made it big with in first 10 films and have maintained the reputation :-) probably very few.

What abt Thalaimagan? (Cheran's story interests me more than Vallavan, Simbu is good but he talks 222 much I hate him :-)

Rgds,
Srivatsan

 
At 6:45 AM, Blogger Me too said...

A bit disappointed with your unenthusiastic review. Guess, it must be b'cos of the big expecatations I(we) have for Jeeva/Jananathan. I cannot but feel Jeeva and his producer father should be to blame for the unrealism as Jhananathan's realistic portrayal was evident in "Iyarkai". Anyway, this is one of those movies(like Kanda naal mudhal)which I would watch inspite of your review!!

"The main theme of patients being unwitting guinea pigs in illegal research is scary enough to make us view every doctor with doubt." - This reminds me of the scare I have for hospitals/doctors reading Robin Cook's books!!

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Vijay said...

Mr. Big mouth Chimp has said that the opening for his film is like that of a Rajni film and if he had been given more time he would have done an even better job
http://sify.com/movies/tamil/interview.php?cid=2408

 
At 7:36 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

I think I would rather catch Dharmapuri first. From the review it sounds like an out and out comedy. Sample this:

"It has a terrific introduction scene aimed at B and C audiences to prove that Captain is invincible. A thug fires a bullet straight at the hero’s chest, the bullet bounces back and hits the gunman injuring him- our hero has a metal plate to protect himself!"

:-)

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger narayanan said...

If you have'nt watched already, do see 'The Constant Gardener' (thats of the same genre and to an extent 'Lord of War' based on a different 'product').

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger srivatsan said...

Vijay,

Good Pick

"It has a terrific introduction scene aimed at B and C audiences to prove that Captain is invincible. A thug fires a bullet straight at the hero’s chest, the bullet bounces back and hits the gunman injuring him- our hero has a metal plate to protect himself!"

:-)

Super appu super.. Idhu Padam..

Captain can be sent to Pakistan to keep Musharaf quiet.. Tamil Naatu Police na summava :)) LOL

Rgds,
Srivats

 
At 4:41 AM, Anonymous leo said...

Godfather Varalaaru is the best of all the Diwali releases.....Thala Naa Summavaa..

 
At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

varalaaru not a gr8 movie but ajith performance s really good n
also the only winner among deepavali releases.

 
At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wanted ajit to comeback with a good movie but varalaaru oh no.
good performance by ajit . i rate it better than vaali.
any way its hit

 
At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ,
I enjoy reading your blog.

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous ram said...

i havent seen the movie as yet but i totally agree with u on jeeva...i think the critical and commercial success of "Raam" has given him the confidence to tackle tricky roles and accept off-beat roles...this augurs well for thamizh cinema...as long as the bharaths and jeevas dont fall into the "i'm the next rajni" trap!

 
At 9:00 AM, Anonymous godfatherofgore said...

Honestly speaking GODFATHER has the best story line. Why? Because it explores a domain never explored before. A passionate dancer who acquires effeminate qualities because of it and coz of his mom is mocked at by everyone. So literally he calls shutters to dance and walking itself so that his son does no become like him. Whereas another son misunderstands him and wants to kill him.

Very racy script and wonderful performance from AJITH.

Your blog seems to be appreciating pretty lame movies that dont even make it to 30 or 50 days . GODFATHER has broken chandramuki and GILLI records.

http://tamil.galatta.com/entertainment/livewire/livewire/id/6376/news/Ajith.html

Anyone can utter crap they want but its ultimately what movie goers like and not stupid and pointless critics who watch films just to criticise... which by in itself is a lame job

 
At 5:48 AM, Anonymous venkat said...

hi blogger balaji i know u r neutral guy but many in your blog r anti ajith so just to make their herat burn i got this
Ultimate Star Ajith Kumar once again proved that he is the opening king of the box-office. His recently released Varalaaru (Godfather) earned 10.2 crores in the first two days.

Super star Rajinikanth’s Chandramukhi earned 8.9 crores, Illayathalapathy Vijay’s Ghilli grossed 7.6 crores in 3 days.

Ajith has starred in three different roles in this movie for the first time in his career. Director K.S. Ravikumar has presented this movie in his own style to the Tamil audience.

The big plus for the movie is the music, by young genius A.R. Rahman.

Click here to read the exclusive review of this movie.


http://tamil.galatta.com/entertainment/livewire/livewire/id/6376/news/Ajith.html

 
At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Ravi said...

Ajith's films usually get a good opening, but we'll have to see if it can sustain good collections for an extended period of time.

 
At 6:29 AM, Anonymous venkat said...

i ve no doubt godfather ll be a blockbuster.
ya ajith films always get good opening but this one not only it ll sustain but break all the records.
the story n music s average but ajit's amazing performance ll make it a blockbuster.
dont get surprised if ajith gets national award .

 
At 9:59 PM, Anonymous raj said...

Well, it seems like the basic plot point of God Father is that "Girl insults you?Rape her". What a progressive, positive message.
Ofcourse, the fans of Ajith will hail GodFather as a masterpiece. But it is indeed revealing that Tamil movies have sunk so low that a movie with such a plot should be the biggest success among Diwali releases.
Vijay, in this milieu, how do you expect heroines to come with performances like in the 80's? I think the rules are different now for heroines - basically, glamour rules the roost - heroines are there for probabnly ogling at, fondling bedding or as in this case, raping. Where is the scope for acting?

 
At 7:29 AM, Anonymous venkat said...

since u people hate ajith that s what u ll make out of godfather.
godfather s all about a a man who s effiminate from his childhood because of his mother .
So the man sacrifices everything even walking n confines himself to wheel chair so that his son s not effected because of hi feminine behaviour.

tirupati carried a message of free medical treatment during delivery.
none of u talked abt it .
So whenever an ajith movie with voilence ll release u ll suddenly change ur taste to message oriented n meaningful movies n voilence free movies ???
n if a decent movie like ji s released u ll say the movie lacks content .
come on guys .

 
At 7:29 AM, Anonymous venkat said...

since u people hate ajith that s what u ll make out of godfather.
godfather s all about a a man who s effiminate from his childhood because of his mother .
So the man sacrifices everything even walking n confines himself to wheel chair so that his son s not effected because of hi feminine behaviour.

tirupati carried a message of free medical treatment during delivery.
none of u talked abt it .
So whenever an ajith movie with voilence ll release u ll suddenly change ur taste to message oriented n meaningful movies n voilence free movies ???
n if a decent movie like ji s released u ll say the movie lacks content .
come on guys .

 
At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so ll u say plot of guna,sethu n kadal kondein was to kidnap a girl torture her n make her admit that u love someone.

 
At 11:14 PM, Anonymous raj said...

Dont know about Guna since I havent watched it but Sethu and Kaadhal Kondein were pretty regressive in terms of handling women, notwithstanding the other merits of the movie, especially Sethu.
Venkat, free-ya vidu mame. I have not much love/hate for Ajith or for that matter Vijay/Simbu etc. My opinion was only on GodFather and that too, based on the reviews - I havent watched the movie. It's just an opinion - just chill, boy, and if that makes you happy, let me state that Vijay is a moron whose movies are regressive and anti-women by default. That's my opinion any way.

As for Ji, good intentions do not a good movie make, if you understand that. But yes I would take it anyday over such a storyline as I read about Godfather.

 
At 11:12 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Balaji, saw "E" yesterday. Agree with your review completely. What could've been a 3 star movie dumbed down to 2 stars. The screenplay, direction seems totally lost in the last 45 mins. Jeeva telling nayan he will change for the sake of love, then karunas fighting with jeeva and saying he will do big damage to jeeva, same by nayan and everyone doing the opposite in the very next scenes..
The doctor's character was not well-established (weak foundation and superficial build-up) that it never registered as a purposeful character. Pasupathi's character could've been more forceful so that Jeeva turning towards good cause in the end would've been more convincing. The side characters (beeda Ravi, sub-inspector) were also lacking purpose and force. A good start confused / miffed and lost towards the end.

 

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