Monday, August 08, 2005

Old New(s)

Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has escaped! A year after S.J.Suryah's New minted money at the box-office, the Madras High Court has ordered that the censor certificate given to the film be revoked! Suryah must have had trouble keeping a straight face as he stated that "he respected the court's verdict". In addition to having absolutely no financial effect on him since the film has long ended its theatrical run and has also been sold to the satellite channels, this ruling actually helps keep him in the public eye even as he readies A Aa for release! And we all know how much he likes to be in the public eye.

What is the court doing deciding on things like this anyway? Have all other murder, rape, robbery, land dispute, etc. cases been cleared so that the judicial system now has time to pass judgement on trivial caseslike this? But putting that issue aside, I don't think New deserves this judgement.

New was no classic. In fact, I wouldn't even call it a great film. But it made no bones about what it was - a sex comedy that went for the lowest common denominator. In its defense, the 'sexiness' was mostly from double entendres or the acts of consenting adults. Unlike other movies passing off as family entertainers, it didn't have cheap item numbers or guys taking advantage of unsuspecting middle-aged women. I'm not saying that it wasn't vulgar. It was. What I'm saying is that that goes with the territory. You can't have a gangster movie without violence. And you can't have a sex comedy without sex. So the censor board was right in giving it the 'A' certificate. And revoking it because of someone who found it objectionable makes no sense.

IMO, the films that need to be given a scrubbing down are the ones that are vulgar on the pretext of "just showing what happens in the real world". The most high-profile of these was probably Boys though there were several smaller ones released around the same time. So let me talk a little bit about what irked me so much about Boys.

Though it was just a small segment of the film, the sequences where the boys walk around brushing unaware middle-aged women by taking advantage of the crowds in shops, streets, etc. really disgusted the hell out of me. Yes, I know there are perverts out there doing this but does that mean their acts need to be captured and blown up on screen? And the word 'perverts' is key in the last sentence. Sure we've had movies before where such acts were shown. But the guys indulging in those acts were the villains. The rowdies. The ones who got beat up by the hero or slapped by the heroine or thrashed by passers-by. But the youth doing those things in Boys were the heroes. The guys we were supposed to identify with. As I said before, I am not naive enough to think that guys like that don't exist. But guys like that wouldn't be my friends and I sure don't like to see them on screen.

Boys does have its defenders out there. Leaving out the perverts who actually did those things in real life and so cheered the boys on, the rest are mostly guys who think Shankar was being honest by capturing the 'real' India, gals who (either in India or abroad) travel in cars and shop in sparsely populated mall stores, and the husbands of these gals. I'd like to know if the movie has a single supporter among the women who travel by buses and are groped while shopping in Ranganathan street, and their husbands.

The guys who see New may have laughed at the double entendres, ogled at Simran or been titillated by Kiran. But the guys who see Boys may have been at the busstops and shops the next day, looking for unsuspecting women to grope and molest. That in essence is why I think the latter provided a lot less 'clean and healthy entertainment' than the former.

PS: I know I gave the same rating to both movies. I was talking about a particular aspect of the movies here. The rest of the movie naturally influenced the rating.


At 1:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on, Bhuvan. Completely agree with every thing u had to say.

At 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm eagerly waiting for surya's gajini. in that movie he will be playing a role as one of the 5 richest man in the world...

well,an seems that surya will using his own private jet in Ghajini

its a movie about female stuff!!

however do you think our tamil viewers will be able to accept such movies???Ghajini is said to be an indian movie with a western blend..

we have certainly seen kangalal kaithu sei bombing in the box office

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Chitra said...

I agree with you on the 'Boys' criticism. It's that particular scene that stands out for me from the movie and irks me! Ugh!

I have to admit, I am not much into Tamil movies at all, so I just wanted to ask this. Who the hell is S.J.Suryah? He suddenly seems to be everywhere! Where did he come from? Was he always in the scene? But, boy oh boy, do I hate his hair and teeth! Ugh!

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Gnana Kirukan said...

Infact both movies are total rubbish!! There is another crap director called Selvaraghavan who creates bullshit and expects people to watch his illogical crap!! Maniratnam, Cheran, Bala and Goutham Menon are directors to look forward to!!

At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

navin new/A ah sjsuryah is diff fm gajini surya...r u confused or did u just digress?
missy sjs was vasanth's(aasai) asst director who got recognised for his own directorial ventures vaalee and kushi:D
i agree with balaji abt BOYS...
and arjuna bingo ur choice is same as mine:)

At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bhuvan, I have to agree with you with too. Boys reminded me very much of American Pie and is ultimately a teen flick. It made no allusions to being a "healthy family entertainer" and so the theme of sex featured heavily. The scenes of the boys brushing past middle-aged women was not that long anyway and shouldn't impact the rest of the movie. Teenage boys with rampaging hormones do think and talk about sex a lot and Shankar simply translated real life onto the big screen. Balaji - If your argument is that this act is typically perpetrated by rowdies & villians, well then kudos to the director for giving us an alternative view. After all, most of us have or have had shades of grey. If you think that this will encourage other boys to go out after the movie and repeat the act, well then we need to rethink the smoking arguement too, don't we? Anyway, the whole things seems blown out of proportion. When I went to see the movie, the whole theatre had a good laugh and most adults I know thought of it as a very amusing and cheeky teen movie. The strange thing is - I don't recall any scene where the girls talk about sex.. and we all know teenage girls talk/think about it atleast half as much as the boys do! Ultimately teenagers are teenagers in any part of the world.. and like Vivek said in the movie - sex is everywhere, on MTV on fashion TV, even on the discovery channel!

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An American Pie type of movie won't create much of a fuss in the West where parents prepare their kids for various proms and dating. "Regular" people in the West have unquestionable access to anything sexual (that includes, going out, meeting a woman and well...). In India, if that were accepted behavior, a movie like Boys wouldn't have made a fuss either (Rajni wouldn't have made his daughters leave the screening of that movie, for instance). Although the people in this Blog are rational (and, more importantly, worldly) enough to look at a movie objectively, the "Boys" on the streets of India may not have that capacity...yet (their parents definitely are not going to sit down and discuss sex education). For all we know, this kid could be preparing for his exams, be coaxed into watching a movie like Boys and then, instead of going back to his books, waddle into the nearest busstop bristling in hormonal frenzy. But then again it might strengthen his resolve to study harder, jumpstart a solid career, travel the world and romance the most beautiful of women.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gopi, you're turning this into a whole West Vs East debate. While people in the western world are undoubtedly more exposed to sex very early on in life, I hate to say that cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai aren't very far behind at all. Western culture has infiltrated Chennai for a good decade now. Boys & gals in Madras are exposed to MTV and a a whole host of Hollywood movies on satellite channels. There has been a massive explosion of beauty parlours and shopping malls. While girls don't go around wearing mini skirts, they sure are looking a lot sexier and wearing a shedload of make up! While in the early 90s, there were not many places to interact with the opposite sex outside of school/college, now there are coffee shops, restaraunts, bowling alleys, shopping malls and EVEN nightclubs! Teenagers these days are interested in having boyfriends and girlfriends and it's also no coincidence that Valentines day has become a big commercial success! While western behaviour may not be entirely acceptable in India, a movie like Boys is certainly a wake up call to many people. I find it ironic that Rajini had to pull his daughters out of the movie while his daughter was busy romancing someone younger (Dhanush).. and rumour has it that she is no shrinking violet either!
And for those arguing it could have prompted many other boys to make their way to busstops - Although the movie Boys did talk about sex, I'm pretty sure that Vivek did administer a messge of hard work and education (in his long monologue scene). Even the 'secret of success' song had a message of inspiration for the youth - Nermaithan vetriyin ragasiyame!

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I was more offended by NEW...dont know-- somehow I didnt react extremely to the "Ranganathan street" sequence in Boys maybe coz it lasted just for a couple of minutes that too during a song sequence...while I dont think I've ever stooped to their levels, my friends and I did laugh at some of the comments the "BOYS" made about girls, passing comments on Spencer's Plaza 'figures,' etc...well, I guess I am conveniently ignoring the scenes with the prostitute, the sequence where they get drunk, etc...but dunno somehow, I did enjoy BOYS...but for New, there was one scene where I said, "enough is enough!" and thats the one where Simran tries to trap Surya with the help of a whistle (!)...more than the sequence itself, I was bothered by the fact that an established actress like Simran acted this way with a third rate creepo like Suryah (I still cant pardon him for the "iduppu" scene in Kushi)...and the long drawn sequence with Kiran as the brahmin maami...New's yet another movie where Brahmins are just caricatures...give me an another Aahaa!

oops, I guess i've digressed quite a bit...!

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

bhuvan, i think i stepped away from any moral highground once i liked New :) and i didn't condemn the film outright. i was condemning only the specific segment i wrote about in detail.

about the violence... i didn't mind it as much simply because i believe most of the violence shown is so unrealistic and comic-book style that it makes the movie enter the realm of fantasy. we don't hear of someone getting killed with leeches or being thrown into a vat of boiling oil after seeing 'anniyan'. but we do hear of women being groped in buses other places everyday. and 'boys' seemed to validate that as they showed the targeted women being blissfully unaware of the boys' pranks. and that is why i think it talked about it in a +ve fashion. they don't get caught or pay for their actions. but that unfortunately is not what happens in real life. the women endure things like this silently for a bunch of reasons.

and no, i dont expect a family movie every time. i was fine with the scenes where the boys go to a prostitute and their sex-laden talks with their girlfriends or the allusions to masturbation and premature ejaculation. none of that offended me. it was just this segment. and for the reasons above.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Me too said...

First of all, true that the court ruling on 'New' appears to be a big joke now!!

Even I donot understand how '7GRC' was any different from 'Boys'. And what message does the success of 'New' send the film industry? That cheap comedies and vulgarity sells! Ah, thats what our Simbus and Vijays are waiting for!!

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

missy, as rekhs pointed out he directed vaali, kushi and new. so he is one of those rare directors who's had 3 hits in a row...

skanda, i have seen a few song sequences from telugu films that lend strength to your statement that their films r more vulgar :)

arjuna, i agree on your list of 4 directors whose movies i look forward to. but i can't diss SJS or Selvaraghavan. i think SJS has some very interesting ideas while Selvaraghavan's screenplays r amazing.

jagz, yes it was a small segment but when i saw the movie, it really disgusted me. and i knew the 'smoking' thing would come up. the diff is... when a guy smokes when he sees his hero smoking, he is screwing up himself. but when a guy gropes a woman after seeing 'boys' he is affecting someone else.

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said, bb.

can't agree with you better. i hate 'boys' for the sake of glorifying perversion on screen

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

jagz, u're right about the sexual revolution in chennai on all counts. the changes have been quite obvious on each of my trips back to Madras. i guess my grouse is that shankar could've shown the revolution without the offending segment.

bhuvan, not sure how long u've lived in denmark. but i was in India when my mom and sisters used to travel on buses and complain about stuff like this. i guess that made this personal and made me hate it so much.

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've seen changes in the big cities although there hasn't been much of a change in Madurai. But anyone who thinks that the changes are not inspired by the influence of western society is deluding himself in every way. We now have our own versions of dating, Valentine's day (or rather a subset of it), etc. Am I upset about all these changes? No way. That's how things evolve. My point is thrusting...a movie like Boys with those specific segments may be too early or too much for some people. I guess a lot of people won't appreciate the impact of such scenes unless their mother or sister were "assaulted" in some way. Sorry if that sounded a little too cold. I know. Those who want to grope are going to grope but this movie might make them believe that their actions are "actually normal".

At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, I see where you are coming from since you have some personal issues from this. But apart from that, I didnt find that scene any more offensive than Tikilona or coupling or other such scenes in Gentleman. Its just that it was presented in an in-your-face irreverent fashion like never before and that made the conservative in you a little uncomfortable.And probably you watched it with your family(?), if so I can perfectly understand. But I am not sure if that one scene led you to condemn the movie overall. That would be a bit too much.

"But the youth doing those things in Boys were the heroes. The guys we were supposed to identify with."

Maybe not. Heros do dumb things too on screen. You cant identify yourself with everything heros do on screen. The Boys are shown as carefree, reckless, bordering on stupidity earlier on and then as responsible guys who work hard to come up.Maybe you could identify with one of the Boys in the second half. (As an aside,How many 50-year olds watching NetrikaNN would want to identify with father Rajni's character? :-)) No clear villians or heros in Boys. And the movie didnt validate any of the Boys acts earlier on nor did it have a tone of condemnation, in my opinion. It was just presentyed as it is. Pusing the envelope a bit, sure.And its just one of the Boys who is shown to be that way. You have a choice to identify with Sidhdharth who seems to be shy even with the prostitute.

"but when a guy gropes a woman after seeing 'boys' he is affecting someone else."

So if someone kills a corrupt policeman tomorrow and blames it on Anniyan or Indian's inspiration, is that OK? There's no end to this logic.

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vijay, funny u should mention Netrikann...i was watching the movie last weekend...BB, here;s a question for you (others may answer this too but I want to ask this crazy Rajni fanatic):

Did you think the older Rajni character in Netrikann was really one who would rape someone? he seemed to be a playboy kinda guy (in the first half-- theeraadha vilayaattu pillai song, etc) where the girl/lady(!) would be a willing participant in their "activities." kinda couldnt digest the fact that he would turn into a "villainous" guy even when pushed to the brink of insanity by his son...

At 10:25 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

bhuvan, exactly! there r enuf of those incidents happening already. i thot the scenes would lead to more guys indulging in the same behavior since the movie showed the boys doing all that and getting off scot-free. it was almost a tutorial!

vijay, yes the tikilona scene was offensive. but to reiterate what i said earlier, the girl there was a willing participant. what irked me about 'boys' was that the women were shown as being unaware of what the boys were indulging in. thats what i felt would encourage more such acts.
no, i didn't condemn the movie cos of the 1 segment. i had other problems with it but the segment did make me shave off, say, half a star.
i wouldn't wanna identify with them but i was afraid others would... and i did consider the fact that they never pay for their acts(in this segment) kinda subtle validation...
and killing the policeman wouldn't be OK either. but as u yourself write, there is a big IF and we r talking about tomorrow i.e. the future. the boys' acts r about something that happens now. that was the reason for my post.

ram, i think the willingness of the participants in the first half is what made him seem like a playboy rather than a villain. but when he met someone who wasn't as willing, he became a villain.

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"vijay, yes the tikilona scene was offensive. but to reiterate what i said earlier, the girl there was a willing participant."

well what about the scenes in NetrikaNN where Rajni uses his fancy glasses, without the other woman knowing it. even in Gentleman there is a scene where she bends over and GoundamaNi makes a comment looking at her cleavage while she is unaware of it.If I think more there would be many such instances.

"and killing the policeman wouldn't be OK either. but as u yourself write, there is a big IF and we r talking about tomorrow'

No, I didnt emphasize on IF. And tomorrow doesnt mean the distant future . I just used it in the regular sense. Havent you heard numerous stories of people taking justice in their own hands? Revenge killings? Anniyan would only validate such acts if you think Boys would validate the acts that you mentioned- "Namma Vikrame kola paNraar, naama paNNa enna". Same with Thatha Kamal in Indian. For his stupid acts he should have been shown killed at the end of the movie. Instead he is sort of glorified and his acts validated and he escapes.Since its done against criminals we tend to excuse it. Its just our mindset.
We expect Shankar to include a scene where the kids's father chides him for doing what he did. And then we would all have felt more comfortable psychologically :-)

(However, I am not arguing that scene was essential for Boys)

At 4:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure that comparing Anniyan/Indian and Boys is fair. Trying to change society by doing what Vikram/Kamal do requires discipline, resourcefulness and tremendous drive even though Vikram or Kamal's actions may not be technically legal. No wonder a lot of people won't attempt to do what Vikram or Kamal do...because 1) you cannot slack off once you put things into motion and 2) it just is too much work. But what the young 'uns do in Boys is fueled by hormones only. It requires a different sort of discipline...the kind of discipline needed to not do something (like not eating ice cream everyday...heh) Also I don't see how parents can chide their kids if they do not know what their kids are up to. Maybe they would if they spot 'em in action. Yes, Shankar could have portrayed that. It is possible that he wanted to portray those kids as realizing the impact of their behavior on their own (without parental involvement) or merely distract them from such behavior (by making them pop stars and giving them "responsibility") but didn't do a convincing job of it.

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

vijay, now we're going into individual scenes! i don't think any of the scenes in recent memory turned me off as much as this segment in 'boys' did. as u talk about specific scenes, i think i can kinda see why i wasn't offended as much by these. the 'netrikkann' scene was pure fantasy. we sure don't have x-ray glasses. and as for the scene in 'gentleman', this is a girl who was wearing a low-neck dress. i think gals who knowingly wear such a dress are aware of what would happen when they bend :)
in 'boys', it was a combination of several factors - the boys were the heroes, the women were everyday women, the women were unaware, the boys didn't pay for their actions, etc. - that resulted in my disgust...

At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok guys look bout manmadhan all rite.I know for u about the hero killin a gurl who has more than one boyfriend dun sound logic but think if u got a girlfriend and lies by having another one?will u be hurt?or u still will say double standard

At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with u.I mean u don't understand that its time we face the fact that no one in this world is 1005perfect on moral basis.Wht is shown in all movies that the hero is a 100% nice guy and all that is plain rubbish. U said that u should relate urself to the hero's. how can any damn person relate to the hero when they all r just stupid fictional characters. this is the problem with tamil cinema.a very few good realistic movies come in and that too are rejected by ppl like u.All ur statements make no sense AT ALL.i mean the movie totally explains the fact abt adolescence in boys.and ur looking at only one point of view.if the guys in the movie were really so pervert minded,then why didnt they go forward with the prostitue.u get my point.its time that we all grow up and make realistic cinema,and stop the stupid shit abt heros being the goody goody guys and villains being the bad dude.i mean none of these characters can be related with us.and my last point is that by banning nay movie..we all are making a fool of ourselves in front of bollywood.i mean this is art...and art comes under freedom of expression.everyone has the right to make his or her views.

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deepika, I dont think you get the point here. Groping a women is a far WORSE crime than going to a prostitute. in fact its prosecutable under Indian penal code and can carry upto 5 years in prison.

Only a women who has been groped can tell u how one feels. So the problem here is not that they showed sexuality. They have showed much more viloent crimes like rape and murder before. The problem is that it shows it in a positive light. Imagine a hero being a serial killer or a serial rapist and then escaping scot free. Serial groping is as bad.

Yes teenagers do feel urges but in a civilized society such acts of perversion are not legal. Seeing their heroes commit the same on screen might inspire teenagers and also make them think that such sort of behaviour is justificable.

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