Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Kamal, Kamal, Kamal

The first Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu trailer is available here [thanks Sandya]. Pretty slick but no song clips yet. Can't wait...


Another actor finally dares to tread where so far, only Kamal has. Anupam Kher is apparently playing a dwarf in a Hindi film Jaan-e-Man, starring Salman, Preity and Akshay. Pretty amazing to think that Kamal did the feat more than 15 years ago in Aboorva Sagodharargal.

How Kamal managed to go down to half his size was one of the most sought-after secrets when the movie was released. He did say he would reveal it soon after but never got around to it. I personally think it was a combination of several different techniques. In scenes where he was walking, there was something to hide his legs below his knees like a knee-deep trench, a knee-high-bench, etc. This caused him to kinda glide along rather than walk since he pretty much didn't have knees! In other scenes where he was sitting, being lifted by an elephant, etc., he had an attachment to his knees. So he had to manually lift the artificial leg when he had to cross his legs. Oh well... whatever the technique(s) used, it was a phenomenal achievement.

Aboorva Sagodharargal has long been one of my favorite films. It had a story packed with cliches like separated brothers, a rich girl-poor boy romance, 3 villains, brothers uniting to take revenge, etc. But the story was turned into a fabulous entertainer by a very clever screenplay(my favorite part - Appu killing Nasser with the help of a tiger and Raja doing a puliyaattam) and a hilarious script. The latter made the film really unique in that it is the only film I know that tackles a serious revenge tale in such a comic fashion. If they released a 2-disc dvd set including a digital transfer of the film, interviews and the making-of feature(that includes how Kamal did the dwarf's role), I would be among the first in line to buy it.


Sun TV screened an old Kamal-starrer Ram Lakshman today afternoon. Pretty cheesy flick about Kamal and his trusted elephant going after the bad guys who implicate them in a murder. Took me back to my younger days since I remember seeing it on the big screen when it was released then. Remember thinking it was a great film too.

Got me thinking about other old Kamal flicks I would like to watch again. One that immediately came to mind was Ellaam Inba Mayam. Anybody else remember that one? It had him wear a bunch of disguises. One of them was that of a clumsy, bespectacled guy who had this really big sneeze. His duet with Madhavi went Aasakkiliye Barla Barla... and used to be one of my favorite songs at that time.


At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Kamal came in that dwarf getup to collect the awards after that movie got released. How did he manage to do that? :-)

Seriously, this is one of the best kept secrets in TFM. Am planning to meet PC Sriram some time. Got to ask him this question :-)

At 3:32 AM, Blogger NS said...

Apoorva sagodharargal is a classic... I love crazy mohans dialogues in it... "sir neenga engayo poiteenga sir" remains one of my all time fav comedy tracks in tamil films..:)

At 4:51 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

:-) :-) you made my day!
I have ellam inba mayam on vcd. My all time fave is mmkr. And I would like to see ninaithale inikkum. Vikram is another fave.

Crazy and Kamal make a great combo.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Me too said...

Nice, BB!! Totally agree with you about 'Aboorva Sagodharargal' "turned into a fabulous entertainer by a very clever screenplay(my favorite part - Appu killing Nasser with the help of a tiger and Raja doing a puliyaattam) and a hilarious script"
I used to love that song "nandhaan ungappan da.." as a kid!! BTW, always wanted to know, there was a Rajni movie with an elephant too around that time. Was it during their initial rivalry days?

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Nid said...

kamal is one talent worth watching. Another movie of his i like is Michael mathana Kamarajan. It's so hilarious.

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Arvind Srinivasan said...

Crazy does the trick, guess one they (Kamal & Crazy) see each other's faces, they get so much onto a different plane that by-standers only appreciate tiruppu tiruppu - while so much of the subtle and power-packed punches go unnoticed ! :)

At 8:12 AM, Blogger Vee Cee said...

Oh man! Don't get me started on Aboorva...Its all the little things in that movie.
Next time you see it (I am sure there will be a next time), check out the scene in the police station where Kamal is still in the puli getup. Check out his tail. It keeps moving around like a real animal's.
The initial encounters with Kamal, his gang and Gouthami were just hilllarious. One of my favorite lines is Maylisamy's 'Naan sollalai. Adhey Route-than'.
I remember seeing the movie again in the theater after it became a huge hit and during the interval they showed a clip where Kamal talks about the movie and showed a lot of scenes that were not in the movie - a kinda behind the scenes look. In fact, there was a whole alternate story, where Kanthimathi played Manorama's role and Janakaraj was her drunkard husband. They even showed a song with the Raja character singing a song 'Ammava naan kaalathottu kumbudanum doi'. It was good to see all that, but it is a good thing they changed it to what it eventually became.

BB, you and I are probably the only ones who enjoyed Asaikiliye Barla Barla.

At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu-- one of my friends Gopi (not the commenter by the same name) actually managed to take a snap with kamal in NY during the shoot...lucky bugger! he's one celeb whom I cant wait to meet...adhu seri, kadavul-a paakarthu avlo easy illaye...nijamaana kadavula paaka mandaya podanum...kamal-a paaka crazy mohan-ta mokkaya podanum! still trying...! saw him once @ Chennai Lifestyle where I was so tongue-tied (not that he was warm!) that I just got an autograph n left...remember my Aunt shouting, "Hey, kamalu daa!" (avalukku Punnagai mannan kamal nyabagam!)

aboorvaa-- what a classic! here's a review i wrote a few years ago...i think i write better now but anyways, here's the write-up for those interested:

but bb, my favorite A-S moment is the Delhi Ganesh's an awesome set piece...

talking of old Kamal films, I recently added "Ilamai Oonjalaadigirathu" to my kamal collection...I didnt particularly like the film...thot both kamal and rajni were pretty ordinary...but their friendship was portrayed nciely...of course, "enna dee meenaakshi" marakka mudiyumaa?

i feel that "avargall" was one movie from kamal's early days that really gave a glimpse of what he could do, with dedication...ventriloquism, a malayalam tinge in his tamil...there's a gr88 moment in that movie where he elicits a gasp and says, "kaadhal Niraivu kudukkara sandhoshatha vida kaadhal Ninaivu kudukkara sandosham enakku podhum"...the way he utters that line was probably one of the first signs of the great actor in him...i personally like his turn avargall even better than 16-vayadhinile or aboorva raagangall or any of his other acclaimed movies from the 70s...

seri, thanks for getting me started on a Kamal RAMayanam in the morning! more later...:)

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to list all the great Kamal movies is always going to be a tough job, particularly since there are so many good ones worth writing about.

Some of my favourites that I'd certainly like to watch again:
- Varumayin Niram Sigappu
- Oru Kaidhiyin Diary
- Meendum Kokila
- Raaja Parvai
- Guna
- Thevar Magan
- Kuruthipunal
- Mahanadhi
- Nizhal Nijamakirathu
- Salangai Oli etc, etc...

I'm also trying to put together a list of really "bad" Kamal movies, what was he thinking when he did these movies??

- Shankar Lal
- Kadhal Parisu
- Anda Oru Nimidam
- Soorasamharam
- Almost all his Hindi films, except EDKL & Saagar

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ferrari, did not know that. that would've been so cool :)

nithya, forgot to mention it in the review but even 'paramasivan' refers to that track. goes to show how it has stood the test of time :)

munimma, good print? i like both mmkr and NI. but the 2nd half of 'vikram' sucked big time after a fantastic 1st half...

me too, thanx! i didnt watch that song 'naan thaan' but the tune played in the background throughout the rest of the movie and i was trying to figure out what the song was. used to be my fav too...

and that rajni film was 'annai oru aalayam'. quite a coincidence u talking about it. when i first saw the elephant i started recording it since i thot it was 'annai oru aalayam' and i've been wanting to show that to my daughter ever since she saw clips in 'anbulla rajnikanth' :)

nid, welcome. and yeah, he sure is :)

arvind, true. i've said the same thing in many reviews. we laugh so hard at the big jokes that smaller ones(aftershocks!) get lost in the laughter. have to c a film multiple times to enjoy it fully :)

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Munimma said...

reasonably good print.

For some reason, he seems (to me) to be too overwhelming in his recent movies. Like Panchathanthiram which I think would have fared better with a lesser actor. I do hope VV does good!

I have to see Crazy+Kamal's movies a few times before getting all the different levels of humor. MMKR tops this category. Kathala kathala too has some funny between lines.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Raju said...

First on VV, to be honest, Kamal on the trailer looks too fat for the police officer role.. Plz get some tips from Ajith and Rajini, Kamal...

AS: My favorite was Delhi Ganesh murder, with all the gizmo techniques and Kamal singing 'Ambu vitta kaamanukkum jey".. Also, Janakaraj linking Raja-Ambu-Villu-Paattu.. so unforgettable.. (Oh.. Ram has mentioned that).. :-)

Ram Laxman - When I was a kid, I used to be scared of fights.. it was a horror to me. For the first time, I saw, as Aparna said, 'Naanda ungappanda' song which was a fight + song.. Loved it as a kid.. Somehow missed Ellam Inbamayam..

At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: raju's comment; for ur reading pleasure, here's what janakaraj says:

sammandham, pudichitten...ambula body, body-la ambu...ambu edhulaendhu varum...vill...vill-a yaaru vechurupaan, raaja...paatu, villu...villupaatu--duet...cover panniten...maximum cover panniten!

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


vaenduthalukkaaga elaarum keezh thirupathi laendhu mael thirupathi varaikkum nadandhu ponaa, neenge veembukaaga mael thirupathi laendhu keezh thirupathi varaikkum odi pogara case yaa!

sometimes i wonder if u pass these comments for the heck of it...or if u sincerely n passionately mean it, then i'd be interested in hearing your detailed analysis on classics (aboorva in this case) that you dismiss and trash that you glorify...

At 3:53 PM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...


Kamal in Aboorva Sagodhargal was cool, manorama-janakaraj and the constable samandham combo has been one of the best comedy scenes ever in tamil cinema.

It is indeed a well kept secret as to how dwarf Kamal was created.

Am not able to connect with Ellam Inba Mayam and the song.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Arvind Srinivasan said...

every one of my umpteenth viewing, i catch a new missed-out joke - i qualify for a PhD in MMKR - if i may say that - what a pleasure to do one on that movie ! :-) (dreaming...) - "en kanavaellam paazha pocha" :P

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

coincidentally i saw aboorva sagodhargal last night and i think "fun in its mediocre way" is exactly right -- some of the scenes are great but the story-telling is so creaky, the scenes are talky, the art direction/costumes are tacky.

nayagan is possibly the most overrated movie in the history of cinema, the naturalistic acting clashes wildly with the ham-fisted dialogue/story/direction, the last reel is rushed, nasser and karthika are wasted, the hagiography is an insult to the viewer's intelligence, the ilayaraja-sung song hurt my ears, i could hate on and on.

jevya (laila-hater, manirathnam-hater, kamal fan)

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sila nerangallil Sila manidhargall...!

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yoaw BB (enna mariyaadha idikkithey-nu paakathey annaatha),

inge sile peroda rathha kodhippa jaasthi aakittu, onnumey theriyaadha madhiri SBC office-la kuppa kotriye yaa...unne nikka vechu...venaam suda elaam venaam...apram "mrs. bb" varutha paduvaango...nikka vechu oru odhai kudukkanum!

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

vc, definitely don't remember seeing something like what u say they screened during the interval. probably cos i saw the film during the 1st few days itself. but kanthimathi in manorama's role? not sure that would've worked as well. the 'ayyo ayyo ayyayayayo' routine was hilarious.

ram, true. the delhi ganesh murder was an awesome set piece. and had some great lines (thirukkural, moonu ilai, etc.) i was talking more on the lines of the screenplay. the whole puli connection was just incredibly creative - seeing appu with a tail, the sneeze coinciding with a roar and then culminating in the puliyattam. sheer brilliance!

yes he was truly terrific in 'avargal'. his array of expressions in junior... is enuf proof of that. not sure if i'd rate that above 16V though. thats another all-time fav for me :)

rajesh, yep. thats gonna be a long list. when i talked about 'ellam inba mayam' i was remembering a movie i enjoyed then but havent seen since. i've seen many of his older movies on tv, tape, dvd, etc. but EIM was 1 which i dont think i've seen since i saw it on the big screen

raju, theevira kamal rasigar saying he looks fat?! but yeah it IS true. looks fat when he's walking down in the police dress...

EIM had kamal wear a bunch of disguises to take revenge on the the villain. very entertaining.

bhuvan, true. making of chandramukhi recently was quite interesting. but even that, though it was released as a vcd in india, didnt make it to the dvd.

and i do like 'indran chandran' too(though not even close to how much i like AS). tough to make a character truly despicable when an actor u like is playing him but kamal managed to do it as the mayor.

siva, don't remember the film as well as u do. i just remember a couple of the disguises kamal wore :(

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

bhuvan, i can understand someone who ONLY likes movies like kutti, sethu, veedu, etc. to not like AS. but when u love movies like 'annamalai', 'muthu', etc.(both my favorites too), how can u not like AS? i believe they fall in the same category - entertainingly done masala. sure they r cliched(revenge in AS, get-ric-thro-restaurants in 'annamalai') but their strength lies in the fact that they made it seem fresh. and thats due to the screenplay.

looks like u didnt like the 2nd half of AS. they give a great reason for appu turning psycho. the plots r silly because the movie is aimed at family audiences and it not a film for violence-lovers. i thot it did a great(and very unique) job of not letting go of the sense of fun inspite of turning into a revenge drama. and i loved the way the storylines intersected. the ambu, the puli, gouthami as jaishankar's daughter, etc. all signs of a very creative screenplay. i personally don't think there was a single unnecessary sequence(in my definition, thats a sequence fast forward in repeat viewings) in that film considering its story. and it never lost momentum either :)

in fact i would say AS would stand up better in world cinema than even 'nayakan'. the latter was definitely copied. but i think AS is completely original. In execution even if not in story.

ram, email thaampa sbc. don't work there :)

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprised nobody has mentioned Pushpak/Pesum Padam. Has a few gross scenes which turned some people off, but one of the most innovative efforts. And the movie is superb. The sequences with the beggar, and the ending are the standouts IMO.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

prakash, andha ending was unforgettable...kamal andha beggar sethadha paathu manam maarardhu was an example of fine emotional insight on the director's part...also loved the scene in the shop where kamal "approves" of amala's choice of earrings...lovely scene that just showed how much expert directors and actors could do without dialogues...

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh really! where do u work? just curious...

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Bhuvan what are you trying to say. . Please keep it short. Please dont ramble on, I tend to forget what your trying to point out at the end of your essaying.May be we need a song or 2 in there to keep readers interested or maybe even some focus.

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bhuvan, nee nallavanaa...kettavanaa....? enakku therliye paaaaaaaa!

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, "international" cinema paakravangalukku elaam thamizh cinema oru periya matteraa...bhuvan, "nee aadu, idhu un veedu!" (indian)

btw, anbe sivam patriya thaangalin karuthu ennavo?

At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bhuvan, I don't think this is the forum to argue the merits and demerits of Tamil/Bollywood/Hollywood/World cinema.

I have only a couple things to say:

1) I have seen people eat, and swear by certain types of cheese, which I could swear smell like s..t!

I can appreciate it is an acquired taste, maybe I'll start loving it after a while.

But I will be wise enough not to try and make my mom eat it, or try to convince her that idli-vada-sambar is not good enough as a daily meal :)

2) 'A wise man among fools is a fool among wise men'. So maybe Tamil movies are crap, but you are in the midst of Tamil movie fans. Like a Galileo, maybe you'll be vindicated years from now. But for now ...

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bhuvan, Anbe Sivam-um pidikaaathaa...kadavule...are u in Southern California by any chance?! looks like u do respect Kamal the actor, after all...which is a consolation! btw, edho international films-nu romba solreengaley...i'd be interested in knowing the actors/actresses that u'd rate >er than kamal, if there're any...coz i will categorically state that i've not seen an actor who can quite match his skill, versatility and screen presence...on a scale of 1 to Kamal, i'd rate De Niro as 9...

thaangalin karuthu ennavo?

btw, prakash, indha madhiri arguments-a yaen discourage panreenge...indha bb annana paarunge...vaikkol mela vathi pottiya thooki poattutu, "kolutheekangadaa"-nu sollitu, silent-a vedikka paakraaru paaru!

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

from your list...
on "my" scale:

russell crowe- 9
de niro- 9
pacino- 8.5
freeman- 9.5
chris cooper- 7.5
jean reno - ?
denzel - 9.5
foster- 8.5
streep- 9.5
kidman - 8

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, but even morgan freeman, probably the one actor that i admire nearly as much as i admire kamal...avarukkey 9.5 thaan! but freeman's voice is one thing that just captivates me no end...his voiceover for Shawshank was incredible...

denzel-- Hurricane onnu porum enakku...he turned in an astonishingly powerful performance in that one...that one line, "hate put me in; love's gonna bust me out"...been like 4 yrs since i've seen that one...but andha powerful eyes marakkave mudiyaadhu...

but ivanga elaarumey oru chinna kadavul thaan...kadavulukkey kadavul among actors Iyengarvaall thaan!

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

prakash, i definitely welcome discussions on tamil cinema here. in fact, such discussions, even more than my posts, r what make the blog interesting. and its a credit to the readers here that all discussions so far have remained decent and good-hearted :)

and yes, i was 1 of those who was turned off by the gross scenes in 'pesum padam'. but i do see that the grossness contributed to creating situations where the characters didn't need to talk. it was an amazing piece of cinema. it was one of the upcoming reviews on bbreviews' 'movie of the month' b4 i discontinued it :)

bhuvan, understand your frustration on some of kamal's movies. but is there a single actor, including ones on your list, who has not had duds on their resume? just look at de niro's recent list of movies!! an actor is only as good as his director. so it would be unfair to ask kamal to team up with someone like manirathnam every time to come up with a 'nayagan'.

ram, to come up with an actor i consider on par with kamal, u can look a lot closer to home :)

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I said this isn't the forum, I didn't mean to imply that Balaji doesn't like it. I just think this is a topic better suited for a live debate. In this forum, it's a little difficult to stay on top of who's saying what. But since we started (and today's a holiday here), here we go ...

Kamal first. I can take both sides of the table.

Yeah, of late, he mostly hams. And he tends to show up in every frame of his movies, and nobody else gets a decent role. He's got to have the last word in all his movies. The way he ogles his heroines is a turnoff. The way he rips off others' movies without bothering to acknowledge it, and then passes off as a genius irks me.

On the other hand, when you make an earnest movie like 'Anbe Sivam' and it flops, and a crappy movie like 'Gemini' becomes a superhit ... it takes a lot of willpower to not throw in the towel. That's the one biggest reason I admire Kamal.

There may be a few better actors, but you have to admire Kamal for his sheer versatility. A Russell Crowe or Denzel is good, but they get $20 million to just act! They get a nice, bound screenplay. I don't think they can explain the thought process behind the music track of 'Beautiful Mind' or 'Hurricane'. I could go on. Point is, we don't have the budget or skills to make Hollywood-scale movies. So Kamal make does with what he has. He'll go abroad to learn makeup tricks, he'll arrange for the latest camera equipment, he'll try to introduce anime-type sequences, he'll ghost direct, he'll get involved in the music etc etc. Can't think of anybody else who can do so many things, so effectively.

I think an actor's shelf life is fairly small. A few years back, I thought Tom Hanks was the best actor. Now, I can barely stand him, and think it's between Russell Crowe and Denzel. In a few years, after a few movies, I am sure I'll think they suck. So if we think Kamal isn't that great an actor, part of the reason is we have seen him do the same stuff in hundreds of movies before. It is impossible for an actor to act in 100's of movies, and still continue to amaze.

I am waiting for the day when Kamal realizes he looks old on the screen, and turns full time director. I think we can expect some gems then, ripoff or otherwise.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for Tamil vs Hollywood vs world, yeah, most Tamil movies suck. But is it really that different in Hollywood?

Take away the higher production values, slick effects etc (a function of the budget), and 95% of Hollywood movies is crap. Same with Bollywood. There's maybe 4-5 must-see movies from Hollywood every year, maybe just 1-2 from Tamil. The difference is that some of the Hollywood crap is at least watchable, Tamil movie crap is totally unwatchable.

As far as world cinema is concerned, I really don't know. For the most part, I've loved the ones I've seen, but I see a Chinese/French/Japanese movie because somebody has recommended it. So I am probably seeing the best of that country. Also, the 10-15 Japanese films I've seen were made over the last 50-60 years. I think I can handpick 10 Tamil films over the same period to wow just about anybody.

Yeah, Tamil movies are mostly the same story over and over again (and thanks to Balaji, I know which ones aren't :>). I have mixed feelings on this. End of the day, this is a business, and you have to know your audience. So does it make sense to try something different like 'Iyarkai' (which I liked) and have it flop, or just make a brainless movie like 'Gemini' which is guaranteed money-back? In other words, is Vijay the smarter guy or is Kamal?


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