Monday, May 14, 2007

Are we ready for 'Vellithira'?

When a film is launched, my feelings about it are usually easy to describe - I either look forward to it or I have a bad feeling about it. But reading about the next Prakashraj production Vellithira invoked in me what you could call ‘mixed emotions’. It is a remake of the Malayalam superhit Udayanaanu Thaaram with Mohanlal, Meena and Srinivasan and I’m not sure what I think about this film.

There’s absolutely nothing to complain about the film’s crew ofcourse. Prakashraj, as producer, has so far given us little gems like Azhagiya Theeye, Kanda Naal Mudhal and Mozhi (we’ll overlook Poi since that was more a kind of gurudhakshinai!). The film stars Prithviraj, Prakashraj and Gopika and is going to be directed by Viji, who wrote the dialogs for Mozhi (the article mentions that he has worked on other movies too. Anybody know which other movies?).

It’s the film’s story that raises doubts about its viability in Tamil. I saw Udayanaanu Thaaram a while back. Mohanlal stars as an assistant director/writer trying to sell his first script, which he feels is a masterpiece. Srinivasan, his friend and an aspiring actor, cheats him off his script and by casting himself in a film based on the script, becomes a big star. He then tries his best to keep Mohanlal from getting his foot in the door. It was a wonderful film with a very witty script and a wonderful screenplay. Though sober for the most part, it had a hilarious, crowd-pleasing climax that was enjoyable inspite of being inspired by a Hollywood film.

The film’s most noticeable aspect was that it took several swipes and digs at the Malayalam film industry and its heroes. Srinivasan’s character, without really going over-the-top, was used to spoof the stars and their habits. For instance, Mammooty’s lack of dancing skills and his penchant for flashy clothes and sunglasses were pointed out, as was Mohanlal’s own tendency to endorse food products that are then sold with his face prominently displayed on the packages. Other heroes like Suresh Gopi and Dileep weren’t spared either.

Would these kind of jokes, however good-natured they may be, work in Tamil cinema? Tamil cinema fans aren’t known for their sense of humor when it comes to their heroes. Vijay TV’s apology to Vijay’s fans for their spoof on Pokkiri is the latest example of what comes out of fans’ intolerance but there have been a number of instances in the past too. With fans like them, can any of our heroes made fun of in a film? Would a film that makes fun of Rajni, Kamal, Vijay or Ajith manage to have a single run without the screen being torn and attacks being mounted on the director?

The story of Udayanaanu Thaaram is good by itself and can definitely be made into a nice, feel-good entertainer. But it was the satire that elevated the film from just a good film to a real classic. With our fans’ lack of tolerance making the satire impossible, we might have to satisfied with just a good film.

35 Comments:

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Nish said...

I wonder if they will give Satyaraj a cameo, he's the only one with any guts to spoof popular actors.

 
At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Satyaraj ran into a whole lot of criticism for mouthing some dialogs that made a mockery out of Rajini not to long ago(didn't have the patience to look up the link at Indiaglitz! :-).. But he stood his ground and did not apologize (Why should he?)

The egos may be big, but almost all of Satyaraj's films these days are satires that directly throw punches at the quirkiness and weirdness that permeates Tamil cinema through its heroes, heroines, directors and producers.

If done with an acceptable, clear cut, clean approach, this satire attempt by Prakashraj might earn him more laurels. I'm sure as an actor and a business man, he knows all to well where the land mines are and how to sidestep them and still be funny.

As an audience too, we are hypocrites (let's be honest!). If Vijaykanth, Satyaraj and Saratkumar do something (no matter how sincere), we will pinpoint it as being faulty.. but we have different standards for Cheran & Prakashraj.. because there is just something about them (or so we say!)..

It cuts both ways, my friend! :-)

 
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At 11:41 PM, Anonymous vijay said...

Satyaraj cannot be lumped along with dhandams like Vijaykanth and Sarath Kumar. He has had some good performances even in the 80s and has carved a niche for himself. I also enjoy his spoofs and the lighter side of him. Its just that the directors handling those kind of spoof movies in Tamil happen to be incompetent. If Satyaraj could act in a well-directed satire, it would be great(although by now, it would be a tad repetitive). But this Prakashraj movie being in Tamil and knowing our fans and our heroes' thin-skinnedness, Iam not waiting with baited breath.

 
At 11:47 PM, Anonymous vijay said...

Balaji,are you very familiar with Malayalam? If so, would have to envy you a bit. Having to rely on sub-titles or live interpretations of friends, when watching Mallu films suck :-) Mallu and Bengali -2 languages I wished I was familiar with. Missing out on a lot of great cinema due to the language barrier. But atleast I give it a try from time to time.

 
At 12:40 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Balaji,
Viji is one of the best dialogue-writers we've around and a personal favourite!
He was the man behind the sparkling dialogue in Azhagiya Theeye; also, the dialogues of Majaa, Mozhi and Ponniyin Selvan were his.

I was very eagerly looking forward to his directorial debut with Duet movies (it was announced a while back), but was relatively disappointed when I knew that it's going to be a remake.

 
At 2:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is the name is vellithira or vellithirai?

 
At 4:04 AM, Anonymous Senthil said...

Balaji,

Viji wrote dialogues for Mayavi(Surya starrer) also.

 
At 4:50 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

BB,

It all depends upon who the spoofed actor is. Kamal (who has been spoofed a million times by many) prominently Vivek (probably half his career) either for fun or by purpose and his fans rarely care for this :)

All his fans are mature enough to handle it and more.

P.S I recently saw a movie named *Nayagan* in poster somewhere, my heart went almost for a blast seeing some newbie on the poster.

 
At 4:53 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

I don't know if you have seen Kadavul Paathi Mirugam Paathi in Vijay TV some time back. Lollu sabha is actually nothing. Most actors will stop acting in movies if they see their own movies analyzed :)

 
At 5:20 AM, Blogger Zero said...

Yes, Maayaavi too. (Thanks, Senthil.)
That one, like Majaa, had some good dialogue and neat comedic performances, but the movie itself didn't pass muster.

 
At 6:59 AM, Blogger VThinkTank said...

Until Sivaji Sir Arrives, we can sample movies like Big Who (Periyar) Black God Contractor
(Karuppusamy Kuthagaitharar)

http://sify.com/movies/tamil/review.php?id=14450200&ctid=5&cid=2429

Endavadu Thappu Irundhal Mannikka Vendugiren (Please pardon me if there are any mistakes)

Sorry if you all felt like Major Sundarajan was talking a dialogue

 
At 7:02 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

Got to wait and see how many of them can take a joke. The people behind the movie have great talent and I am looking forward to this one. Saw Udayananu... sometime back and loved the spoofs.

Maayaavi is one of my favorite movies. felt it didn't get its dues.

 
At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Prin said...

Yeah, lookin forward to it!

I read from another source there tryin to include as much cameo appearance as possible and have roped in Shriya, Trisha and Reema sen already!

Keep your mouth open for more..........

 
At 9:09 AM, Anonymous ram said...

i feel this project is not as risky as u think it is...Viji has got great taste and wit and I dont think anyone was offended by any of his jabs at Thamizh cinema in "Azhagiye Theeye" n all...even the intro scene of "Mozhi" had us all smiling...his targets I think will be the stereotypes and the cliches more than scathing attacks on actors...even if he does, I dont think the actors will be hurt coz he does it in a way thats more funny than evil...his line, "Ipo laam Murali kooda kadhal-a solraaru" (Azhagiye Theeye) am sure had Mike Murali nodding in agreement than getting offended!

my favorite joke from azhagiye theeye is this:

"anaachi, idhu period padam"
"aamam, 3 naall thaan shooting!"

 
At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Ram, (the dheergadharsi that I am!), if your fiance reads the last joke that you took time to type, ungalukku poori kattai nichchayam..

Idhellaam ungalukku thevai dhaana? :-)

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous ram said...

sandya, adhenavo seri thaan! in case, I get a seruppadi, I will defn tell u so that u can feel proud of your dheergadharsic abilities!

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Priya said...

I agree with you Sandya.
Ram..that joke was not funny by any miniscule standards. I didnt even notice the joke while watching & actually cant believe you remembered the gross humor.

Minus points for you.

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ram..i am with you on that one. Another fave "kadi" joke (pun unintended) of mine (from Mozhi):
"Naay enge kadichudhu?"
"Modhala Besantnagarala apparam Adayarula"

Kumar

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous ram said...

bbfriends, accept my sincere apologies. didnt mean any offense. it was just one of those double entendres that I found funny...

Sorry, Priya. I should've kept the post decent...

BB, go ahead and delete my comment please...

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Spoofs in tamil movies on specific actors may not have clicked, but the spoofs on cliched scenes in tamil movies have clicked (e.g.: Naatamai, theerpa maathi sollu). So, I think Viji might play it safe and use the cliched heroic scenes for humour.
I saw Udayananu Tharam when it had released. Enjoyed it a lot. Lets see how it translates...

 
At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

now i want to see Udayananu Tharam
badly, I always end up watching the remkaes in the orginal language before it releases in tamil and then end up watching it in tamil once itz realeased and then compare the 2.Movies like pokkiri,chandramukhi- manichitruzu,munna bhai-vasool raja,jeyam,and many others, this will just be one more to join the list.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger skanda said...

this film is also gonna be remade in hindi with Akshay kumar and Anil Kapoor. priyadshan is gonna direct it.

i have so much of Udayanaanu Thaaram, but can never get hold of these movie anywhere in Malaysia. damm it is so hard to find regional indian films here..

 
At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Prin said...

Well....Prithwiraj is having a good old run in Tamil films.

He has 'Velli Thirai', then Vasanth's 'Satham Podathey' and also 'Kanda Naal Mudhal' fame Priya's 'Kannamoochi Yaenada'.

However I still think he will be the Mamooty of the nezt gen........considering his priority remains acting in Malaylam films.

On a more random note, Srikanth's getting married!

 
At 4:47 PM, Anonymous sriram said...

BB,
True UT is not a movie for tamil audience.

Poi was'nt that bad. Atleast it was'nt as ridiculous as parthale paravasam.

 
At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have the same feelings BB.

Of these, I personally feel that only Vijay seems inflated with an ego that is beyond his talents. Yes, he has the fanbase, but I think if Suntv had done the same spoof, he wouldn't have had the guts to question them. Ajith too, was once popular for his ego, but today is very grounded. Of the big stars, neither Rajni and Kamal take these things seriously.

As far as fans are concerned, I think that both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are sadly full of pathetic fans who see themselves as the ideal heros(or pokiri heros) that they truly are not in life. So they will feel it is a personal insult.

-kajan

 
At 10:48 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

nish, thats a good point about satyaraj. but i felt the way he went about spoofing other actors was loud and/or mean-spirited. thats probably why he didn't come to my mind when thinking of 'vellithira' :)

sandya, "as an actor and a business man, he knows all to well where the land mines are" - very nicely put. he is also one of the popular and well-liked actors and that will probably help him too...

vijay, i think satyaraj needs to be reined in by a good director to deliver a mild but funny spoof.

and yes, i know malayalam quite well. but i still think the 90s were the golden period for mallu films.

zero/senthil, thanx for the info :)

anon, the sify article said 'vellithira' and so i wrote it the same way. but that sounds like a mallu word and so i'm guessing that its 'vellithirai'.

srivatsan, vivek has spoofed rajni quite a bit also. but his(and other comedians') routines always came off as mimicry or imitation rather than making fun of the actors. so i don't think it falls in the same category.

ram, agreed. but the thing is that those jabs at stereotypes and cliches have already been done. might still be funny but will lack freshness. i was just wondering if our fans would take digs(even if good-natured) at their hero in a sportive fashion.

 
At 2:46 AM, Blogger S.Ganesh Kumar said...

I saw the Youtube video of 'Bakery'.I liked both Bakery and Pokiri.The problem in 'Bakery' was that even the fans' taste was made fun of!(For eg.,first a fight,audience gets bored,then insert a song,again bored,put some sentiment/romance,again a song,story moves nowhere and again a comedy-track in betweeen!)
See Anniyan(Onion) too was spoofed.But Vikram fans were not offended for it did not offend Vkram's 'image'(As he may not do an Anniyan prformance once again.)
In this case,Vijay's formula is being made fun of.
Nevertheless,I enjoyed it because the jokes were vulgar.These fans must go to the orkut to know the way some heroes' manliness itself is made fun of!These guys(LolluSabha) do some harmless comedy.
I'm a great fan of Sivaji Ganesan ,but I did not feel offended when Vivek spoofed the 'court scene' of Parasakthi in some 'Amman picture'.That's because a hero has one style.But if someone else imitates it,it makes us laugh because they do not sem to be as good as the way the hero does it.So we must take it ike that and enjoy both the film and its spoof.(Provided the film is good and spoof is not vulgar, which Lollu Sabha is not,I can tell.)

 
At 3:51 AM, Blogger S.Ganesh Kumar said...

Balaji,
I respect you for one reason.Though
you've many non-Rajini and anti-Rajini fans(Like me!),you behave in a rather gentlemanly manner.
Even if there are others oppose your review strongly,you speak to them in a respectable manner.Hats off!
You're the ideal 'Democratic cine-buff'!
Go ahead and inspire a thousand!

 
At 3:52 AM, Blogger S.Ganesh Kumar said...

//Though you've many non-Rajini and anti-Rajini fans(Like me!),you behave in a rather gentlemanly manner.//
I mean they comment frequently in your blog and you respond in dignified manner towards them.

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Nish said...

I still think they should have atleast one scene where they ask Satyaraj to act as Periyar and he says (in his lollu style ala Mahanadigan):

"Ayyaiyo, naan oru Youth hero maa"

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Prin said...

Mahanadigan........what a fine film.

I can still hear the way the directors tell Sathyaraj their stories and how he liked the one where he was a baby. And the supposed song with Trisha, 'Duppata Duppata' in Dubai.

Lol

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous ram said...

"i like tamil nadu very much because ingey thaan veliyoor kaaranku koyil katraango...ulloor kaarana serupaala adikraango...so I like tamil nadu very much!"

- Satyaraj in Mahanadigan. one good reason why he's a nakkal mannan!

 
At 8:39 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

bart, i too have a feeling that thats what viji's gonna do. may not be fresh though since he himself did it a li'l bit in 'azhagiya theeye'.

anon, i do that too and then i find that the remake can never match up to the original :)

kajan, i'm still not sure if its the heroes who r upset and instigate their fans or if the fans feel that an insult to their hero is an insult to themselves :)

ganesh, thanx :)

 
At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Nish said...

Balaji, its a mix of both, dont you think? Anyone who has seen the Pokkiri spoof will know how it exposed Vijay's over-acting style perfectly. It poked fun of how the 'formula' was used over and over again in his movies. The guy playing Vijay did a fantastic job. Behindwoods very slightly hinted that it might be S.A Chandrashekar who was behind the outburst against Lollu Sabha.

 

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