Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Crying Game

It is pretty amazing that movies are capable of evoking such strong emotions in us. Even as we watch a movie, we know in the back of our minds that the people we are seeing onscreen are working off a script and earning far more than we ever will. We know that every scene we are watching was created after several takes as they struggled to get it right and that once the scene ended, the actors simply wiped off the greasepaint and went about their own lives. But we still become caught up in the lives of these strangers, laughing at their jokes and sharing their sorrows as though we’ve known them all our lives.

Out of those two emotions, happiness and sorrow, the latter is definitely the more surprising one. Laughing at a stranger’s jokes is natural. We laugh at anything that’s funny and it doesn’t matter who’s saying the jokes. But sympathizing with characters who we know to be unreal and who we’ve seen for barely a couple of hours, to the point of shedding tears for them, is really surprising.

While I don’t think I’ve ever cried at a Tamil movie, I have had wet eyes during a few of them. Surprisingly, very few sad or tragic scenes have made me teary-eyed. I think that’s because our directors make it very obvious that they are aiming for our tear ducts. Sentiments are overblown and dwelt upon until the scene’s effectiveness is diluted or completely lost. Ofcourse there have been movies that handled tragedy with grace and subtlety. I remember scenes in Anjali, Idhayathai Thirudaathey, Rhythm, Kutti and a few other movies that were incredibly touching.

On the other hand, I’ve found that happy scenes have the power to make me tear up (I guess these would be tears of happiness or aanandha kanneer!). Scenes that portray genuine affection touch a chord somewhere inside me. The scene where Shoba runs back to Rajni’s side in the climax of Mullum Malarum invariably makes me tear up. And a more recent example would the entire segment where Rajkiran and Saranya enjoy the sunset years of their life in Thavamaai Thavamirundhu. As I said in my review, “I watched the segment with a tear in my eye and a smile on my lips”.

That’s not the case with my wife though. The floodgates are almost always ready to be opened in her eyes. There have been many instances (the climax of Dishyum being a recent case in point) where I would be complaining about the silliness of the scene, only to turn around and find her red-eyed and sobbing uncontrollably. How the same woman can then heartlessly deny my requests for the next electronic gadget is, I guess, one of the great mysteries of life!


At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bb, i tend to totally immerse myself in movies that are serious, sincere, well-intentioned and subtle (in some cases) that yes, i've ended up either teary eyed or totally on the brink of that...my list of moments where i've felt incredibly heavy:

1->10. the prostitution house scene in mahanadhi...this is one scene where I completely break down, looking at Kamal's expression at the kid applying the kumkum on his daughter's forehead...

11. kamal's daughter attaining puberty and visiting him in jail...these two sequences from Mahanadhi just drain out all my emotions in a matter of minutes...

12. romba nalla paiyyan paa nee...Rhythm

13. the "innum 10 naall iruka maateehalaa?" moment in Dhevar Magan

14. the contents of the letter that kutty makes vivek write...and then the way she describes her village w/o even knowing the full address of her house...every time i listen to her say, "inge periamma romba yaesaraange" i just turn off the TV.

15. Mera Baetaa Aaap Ka Baetaa...My son is your son...


16. The scene in Vedham Pudhidhu where Charuhassan pleads to Satyaraj.

and a few more....but i am incredibly sleepy now! so will go hit the sack!

At 12:00 AM, Blogger srijithunni said...

A good post, balaji.!!

Yes, the scenes in Anjali, where the children look in disbelief that their younger sister really brings out those well-hidden tears..

I can also identify with ram`s thoughts here, the scene from Mahanadhi is an absolute crying fest.!!

However Dishyum and Crying!! well that`s a little hard to digest! No wonder you`re bewildered.

With Best Regards,
Srijith Unni.

At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji, very good topic :)

i cant remember too many specific scenes because there r probably too many!

have to agree with ur wife on dishyum's ending - inspite of a very contrived ending, i was in a similar position.

agree with you on TT's sunset yrs sequence - i felt similarly. i thought the music was very powerful in those scenes as well - gradually building up those feelings in us until we get overwhelmed & breakdown.

in the same movie, i was very moved during those scenes where the couple struggle during their initial days in the city, birth of their child etc with no family around to be part of major things like their marriage etc. there was this song during those scenes which was an absolute tearjerker!

in fact i think bgm/songs can greatly enhance the 'movability' of a scene...

a lot of times i imagine more stuff than was ever meant to be portrayed & get moved by my own imagination! :p

also stuff like extreme idealism of any sort usually touches me...

btw, wish u luck for getting ur next tech gadget :)

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Agree with you and most of above. Though its tough even for me to accept, I was soaked with tears watching "Natpukkaga" recently second time on SunTV :)
Whenever a character is steadfast loyal inspite of being at receiving end, forgiving and shows lots of "Perundhanmai", tears knock my eyes in general :)

At 6:29 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

what to say, we are just a melodramatic lot! :-)

PS: I've noticed that I cry more easily now (for such things) than I did before my pregnancies. Wonder if it has anything to do with that!

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am on the crying bandwagon with your wife Balaji... I hate it and sometimes I get angry at myself for crying but I figure since it's still in the comforts of my own home, it's not too bad... never cried in a theatre no matter how sappy the movie was though...

but you know I was wondering what the ulterior motive of this post was and then bam the last line explained it all... So what latest request that she so 'cold-heartedly' rejected? Athaiy pattiyum neenga post pannungo ..lol..( I'm mean I'll certainly read it)

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Good post Balaji but would have been better if you had listed some more instances that have made you cry :)

Ram, whole-heartedly agree with the 2 scenes in Mahanadhi, with me crying more harder for the scene in the jail. No matter, how many times I see the movie, I still cry during those 2 scenes.

Thavamai Thavam Irundhu was the latest movie which made me cry. Other movies which have done it for me in the past - Sethu (when Abitha visits him in the mental asylum and she goes before he can talk to her), Bharathi Kannamma and Mullum Malarum, of course.

I am sure many of us used to cry very easily during our teens (I cried during the scene when Thalaivar's pants is pulled down in Dharma Durai and when Kamal gives the ring back to Roopini in Aboorva Sagodhargal) but that has come down gradually as we have grown up. Thus, proving that those movies which still can make us cry are obviosuly more powerful.

Ada neenga vera Balaji, ungalukkaavadhu electronic gadget. I have seen friends who had to face the "Permission Denied" board even for buying a 10$ T-Shirt :)

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Vee Cee said...

yenna bb, yendha situation-a yeppadi handle panradhunnu theriyalaiyaa??
next time when you go to Best Buy, take your wife along with you. when you get near said electronic gadget, look at it with an expression that your son would have while looking at a very expensive gift that you have refused because you absolutely cannot afford to buy. make sure wife sees it. then walk away with an expression that conveys something along the lines of 'man. how cruel fate can be'.
P.S. in your case, it helps if your store of choice is indeed Best Buy. that way, you can look at the name of the store and for added effect, throw in an expression which also conveys the irony of the situation involving your's and the store's initials.
konjam kashtamnaa sollunga. idhukkaaga Kamal saara kooptudalaam!! :-)

At 8:06 AM, Blogger zrini (srini, ஸ்ரீநி, வாசு, சீனு, சீனி etc.) said...

i too have wondered about this; the power of tamil movies have in touching the chords... like deepa i have noticed idealism moves me.. and of course the sorrow and happiness.. your post made me think again and i have a strange input this time: the movies give you the safety of opening up your emotions because though you can feel tons of compassion, one doesn't need to do anything about it? in real life, if i were to share the sorrow of a stranger or even somebody who i know, it means that i have to do something about it, act on it and it creates complexity (like when we see the roadside accident and we have to be at work, what do we do?).. so in real life, we do lock up such emotions and nip it in the bud with philosophies that say it isn't practical etc. but the movies give us a sandbox in which we can open up... what do you think?

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

samsaram oru minsaram is the only movie i can think of that i really did cry at, talk about the ordinary misery of human life.

but in another vein, my eyes welled up at the scene in kalidasa where muthuraman says of course i trust you to his wife and his queen says of course i know that, and dying muthuraman says you and i are truly understood each other. sob, sob. it is one of the rare romantic scenes in thamizh cinema, and i think i'd rubberstamp any gadget purchase happily in the 5 seconds right after that scene.

(dishyum was a bore, and that guy's hook nose just disturbed me.)

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, I too am guilty of puzhinju puzhinju azhuthufied movie watching. I remember crying at DDLJ when Amrish Puri says "Jao Simran Jao".. i'd cut college and watched it at Kasi theatre with my friends and saw all 14 pairs of eyes on my left and right completely abandon Kajol and SRK and instead stare at me while I uninhibitedly sobbed my heart out at the terribly loud and over the top climax!

Thats when I decided that I must cut out this weepy habit of mine. But Kutti was a film that made me cry long after the credits had rolled. But the emotions were very different this time round.. it was tears of anger and helplessness at stark reality...

At 11:49 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...


This is a girl thing-crying at the movies, be it for sentimental dialogues, or a touching moment or a heart moving climax, women, especially, the ones who appear tough on the outside, have known to shed tears at the movies. My grandmom, mom and I are no exceptions to this. There have been very few movies where i haven't shed a few drops and blown my nose, sometimes even after the movie has just ended and the lights are on, i am wiping my tears away.

Indeed, women are a sentimental lot!

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Since you mention crying, I have to tell you the famed adventure of Sandya, Krishna, VK & Sunita going to see "Khamoshi" as newlyweds. We are in the front rows of the theater, from left to right, Sandya, Krishna, Sunita & VK in that order. There is a very powerful scene where Nana Patekar throws Manisha out of the house when he finds out she is pregnant before marriage. Manisha lets out a huge cry, intermittently mixed with dialogues. Dialogue-cry-dialogue-cry.. you get the picture. Krishna was in tears and I could hear the sniffles out loud. He is a very sensitive person and here was Manisha who were very genuine.. Sunita is sitting in between VK & Krishna, saw Krishna sniffling and letting tears flow, turned over the right side and saw her husband, VK.. what was he doing? Laughing out loud at Manisha.. Why?.. 1) He doesn't understand one word of Hindi. 2) He was listening to the dialogue-cry-dialogue-cry uniform sound progression and analyzing how uniformly the sounds were coming out of Manisha's mouth and laughing out loud at her..

Poor Sunita.. she didn't know what to do.. whether to cry or laugh.. I will never forget this Khamoshi visit ever, because I was the one who spent most of my time laughing at the other three folks, especially at Sunita's helplessness.

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

more from my list:

Sethu -- "Seththaadaa Poytaan? Varuvaan daa...avan varuvaan daa" (Sriman in the bar)

Anjali -- "naan endha jenmathula ena paavam panneno, nee ipdi kashta padra"

Piriyamaana Thozhi -- "Enakku Une vitaa vera yaarume ila Ashok" (Sridevi to Maddy b4 she leaves the house)

Mugavari -- "Sridhar, ungaluku Music epdiyo...apdi thaan enakku neenge..."

Aahaa -- Banupriya's and Raghuvaran's lines in climax.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, i knew many readers would list 'mahanadhi'. though it was real touching i've never cried at it. i think the reason is that though i found the scenes real sad, i always also admired the actor kamal. so the full impact of the scene never sunk in.

srijith, i've always had a soft corner for kids movies and 'anjali' never fails to make me cry...

deepa, good point on the role of the bgm in these scenes. silence is probably better during sad scenes. but the bgm is an integral part of the 'happy' scenes. like in 'mullum malarum'. the buildup as the whole town walks in the marriage procession before shobha rushes back to rajni is a real emotional rollercoaster...

bart, 'natpukkaga'? am really surprised :) i thot that was 1 of those movies that was loud and never subtle. so it never affected me...

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7G Rainbow Colony - the scenes where Ravi Krishna gives his father the Hero Honda letter till the part where his father goes out and buys the milk. Best and most emotional scene in the movie.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Rajesh Thiagarajan said...

I have tears in my eyes everytime I watch the "Muundraam Pirai" climax. A Classic IMO.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Pradeep said...

Kizhakku vaasal - This scene always makes my eyes wet.Karthiks dialogues with that 'thee pandham' after beating up the guys who caused the death of Manorama. What an actor !!
Aboorva sagodharargal - As filbert pointed out then kamal-roopini register office scene. BGM was absolutely great in that scene.
Thavamai Thavamirundhu- Many scenes. Watch Rajkirans expression when the police says that his elder son has been arrested visiting a prostitue.
Mahanadhi- many scenes. I will come back to normal after hearing Suganya's shoutings :-)
Edhirneechal - When Nagesh was accused of some theft.
Kaadhal - Climax
Mullum Malarum - When shobha runs towards Rajini. Ayoo !! namakku younger sister illayennu varuthapadavecha scene.
Ghajini - :-) Not very sentimental..but when Asin gets killed and the sound effects while the iron rod hits her head..'tangggg' sound..oops..thats sympathetic.
Raajaparvai - the dialogues between kamal and the handicapped girl who wishes to get married to kamal.

At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come everyone missed "Azhagi"?

Shanmugam seeing Dhanam for the first time in the city, her son has been wounded in an accident and she sobs uncontrollably seeing him. Raja's classic background score and Thangar's screenplay can bring out tears even from stone hearted men.

Secondly when Shanmugam along with Dhanam joins her son in a school. The teacher asks for her son's name and she say's "Bala Shanmugam" and looks down. The background score, the lead actor's performances and the direction make it such a poignant moment. When Dhanam asks her son to fall at Shanmugam's feet, he raises him and kisses him on both cheeks.. Man I had tears like never before.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pradeep, glad you mentioned that tender scene in Raja Paarvai...that movie was full of such sweet moments...do u remember this scene where a kid in the orphanage wishes Kamal on his b'day? The performances and BGM were brilliant in that one...adhula Kamal would say to the kid (after being insulted by Madhavi's Dad and Bro), "Evlo piriyamaa irukku paarunge maa, kayalvizhi. Kuzhandhaingalode manasu periyavangalukku varaadhunge." a very poignant line illustrating the simple innocence of kids...

among Malayalam movies, I watched Kamal Hassan's "Chanakyan" (*ing Kamal, Jayaram, Thilakan and a very young Urmila Matondkar). in that movie, there's a scene where Kamal's family lose their dignity outside a police station...Kamal's expressions in that scene show us why he's like the GOD of Acting, at least for me, he is!

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

munimma, women turn into an emotional lot during pregnancies. maybe this is like a hangover thing :)

sivajini, i think she's cried in the theater too :)

filbert, i think the movies i listed brought me to tears in 1 scene or the other :)

and u're right on us crying more when we were young. as we grow, we become more cynical, more analytical, etc. so the ones that make us cry even now r the truly powerful ones :)

vc, been married for more than 8 yrs now. u think i wouldn't have tried all those things? :) but nice catch on the Best Buy initials :)

srini, interesting take. but that means u put a lot of thought into it. i dont think that happens in the theater. we cry without thinking about whether we can do something about it or not.

i think the reason is that the good movies manage to create characters we start to care about. within 3 hrs, we get to know a lot about them and so we get affected by tragedies that affect them.

anon, lol. so i'm guessing u guys own a copy of 'kalidasa' and hubby suggests u guys watch it quite often? :)

shwetha, those r exactly the emotions we get on watching 'kutti'. and though little is shown on screen, our mind imagines the horrors awaiting her and thats worse than what they could've shown...

mitr, yes! but the really good and touching movies can turn guys into a sentimental lot too :)

sandya, guess its clear who the more sentimental one is in ur family :)

ram, as always, i'm amazed at ur memory when it comes to lines of dialog from movies...

anon, wasnt brought to tears in 7GR but the relationship between ravikrishna and vijayan was definitely the best one in the film and portrayed with great subtlety...

rajesh, i was surprised nobody else mentioned it. but like 'mahanadhi', thats another film where admiration of kamal's acting prowess prevents the full impact of the scene for me...

pradeep, agree with most of ur choices. though i thot the loudest part of 'kaadhal' was its climax. then again, it was probably sandhya's acting that made it feel like that. if i think about it, it is a very sentimental and touching ending :)

anon, the list could be quite long if we mentioned scenes in all the movies. i guess people just listed movies from the top of their heads. and its clear 'azhagi' is in the top of ur list :)

babs, the title did come from that movie. and yeah, i've seen it and been surprised by it :)

malayalam movies definitely r more emotional for me because of the realism they maintain. 2 movies i always cry at r 'bharatham' and 'pavithram'. the scene where lakshmi says she believes mohanlal in the former and the climax in the latter always make me tear up...

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Visithra said...

i tear up occasionally at sad endings in tamil movies but only once for an english one cant remember which though

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprise, no one actually cried at any point of time during Nayakan or Pithamagan?? My taps went open from the start of Saranya's and Surya's deaths [respectively] continued through the rest of the movie and didn't cease to flow till late into the night. :]

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprise, no one actually cried at any point of time during Nayakan or Pithamagan?? My taps went open from the start of Saranya's and Surya's deaths [respectively] continued through the rest of the movie and didn't cease to flow till late into the night. :]

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi how about in the movie Manmadan when Simbu (acting as twin brothers) commits suicide. Simbu was marvellous in his acting also the dialogues "No body commits suicide when ones mother or father passes away but only lovers will give their lives for love ..... super

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