Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Myshkin - The Next Gautham Menon?

When a director makes us sit up and take notice with an explosive debut, his next film will definitely be eagerly anticipated. That's the case with Myshkin, who made heads turn with the surprise hit Chithiram Pesudhadi. After a couple of false starts(he was supposed to make a film Nandhalala with Ravi Krishna as hero), he finally announced his next film Aaruvadhu Sinam, once again with Chithiram Pesudhadi hero Narain in the lead. Narain plays an encounter specialist in the film.

Any film about an encounter specialist invariably brings Kaakka Kaakka to mind. Gautham Menon's slick, stylish and violent film has become firmly entrenched in our minds with respect to encounter specialists and so it was no surprise that I thought back to it when I saw the news about Aaruvadhu Sinam. But as I thought about the 2 films and their directors, I noticed a lot of other similarities and thought I'd list them (admittedly, I'm stretching things a bit with some of these but hey, this is Tamil cinema after all :-).

Gautham's first film(Minnale) was about a rowdy(Madhavan) who held on to a big secret after falling in love.
Myshkin's first film(Chithiram Pesudhadi) was about a rowdy(Narain) who held on to a big secret after falling in love.

Gautham introduced a heroine(Reema Sen) from another language(Bengali?) in his first film.
Myshkin introduced a heroine(Bhavana) from another language(Malayalam) in his first film.

Gautham introduced a new music director(Harris Jayaraj) in his first film.
Myshkin introduced a new music director(Sundar C.Babu) in his first film.

Though Minnale had a good soundtrack, one song(Vaseegaraa...), sung by a singer('Bombay' Jayasree) famous in another genre, became a super hit.
Though Chithiram Pesudhadi had a good soundtrack, one song(Vaazha Meenukkum...), sung by a singer('Gana' Ulaganathan) famous in another genre, became a super hit.

Gautham's second film(Kaakka Kaakka) was about an encounter specialist.
Myshkin's second film(Aaruvadhu Sinam) is going to be about an encounter specialist.

Kaakka Kaakka had an item number by Ramya Krishnan.
According to Myshkin, Aaruvadhu Sinam will have an item number by a famous actress.
Could all of these be coincidences? Or is there something guiding these 2 directors along very similar career paths? If Aaruvadhu Sinam becomes a blockbuster and turns Narain into a heartthrob, then that would be really something!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rajni Update

Sivaji - 100 Days!

[Pic Courtesy Rajinifans.com]

Thalaivar's Sivaji is a bonafide blockbuster and has completed 100 days in a record 102 theaters. A special 100th day show was screened in Fremont here in the Bay Area and yours truly celebrated the big day by attending it - marking my third viewing of the film (thre(e)peatu!) on the big screen.

Once again proving Rajni's popularity and the film's repeat viewability, the screening had a sizeable crowd - definitely more than most films garner on their first show on a Friday night! Hot and very tasty Mysore paakku welcomed the viewers before the show. During the intermission, a cake - with Sivaji - The Boss - 100th day written in icing - was cut and distributed in the lobby while on the screen, the San Jose preview show celebrations as well as a compilation of other release features were shown. Free audio CDs and posters of the film were also given away. So it was a small but fun celebration.

My feelings about the film in the third viewing pretty much echoed my thoughts during the second viewing a couple of months ago. I enjoyed the comedy in the first half and Rajni's style in the second. I've seen Oru Koodai Sunlight... and Adhiradikkaaran... like a zillion times on YouTube but the effect doesn't come close to seeing them on the big screen. And Mottai Boss rocks!


Tirupathi Visit

[Pic Courtesy Rajinifans.com]

Rajni prayed at Tirupathi, no doubt thankful for the amazing success of Sivaji. He previously prayed at the temple 3 days before Sivaji released.


Best Actor!

Rajni was recently awarded the Tamil Nadu State Best Actor award for 2005 for his performance in Chandramukhi. Chandramukhi also won the Best Film award and earned Jo the best actress award. Meanwhile, the film finally completed its theatrical run after 891 straight days - a record I'm sure will stand for a long, long time.


Friday, September 21, 2007

4 New Reviews

Reviews for Thottaal Poo Malarum, Pallikkoodam, Ammuvaagiya Naan and Satham Podaathey are now online @ bbreviews.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Satham Podaathey

Director Vasanth has had a wildly inconsistent career with some memorable classics interpersed with some equally unmemorable duds. As the flops began to outnumber the hits, he took a self-imposed long break and is now back with Satham Podaathey, a thriller. But hopes that the break served to rejuvenate him and sharpen his directorial skills are in vain. Satham Podaathey is a weak thriller with a predictable story with the only bright spots being the performances of its three leads.

Ratnavel(Nitin Sathya), who is now impotent as a result of excessive drinking earlier, hides his condition and weds Banu(Padmapriya). The truth about his past comes out soon enough but Banu is unwilling to divorce him since he convinces her that his impotency was a cruel stroke of fate and a surprise to him too. But once she learns about the real source of his problem and his deliberate hiding of it from her, she splits up from him. Ravichandran(Prithviraj), a software programmer who works with Banu's brother, is ready to give her a new life. But Ratnavel comes back into her life and wants her back.

The story of a psychotic ex-husband coming back to 'reclaim' his wife is pretty familiar to us (while Julia Roberts' Sleeping with the Enemy probably served as the inspiration most movies with this story, Ajith's AvaL VaruvaaLa is the film I was reminded of the most). Satham Podaathey traverses the same story arc with a heroine on the run, a hero ready to offer a new life to the troubled heroine and the ex-husband turning up at the most inopportune time. Once Nitin Sathya's character is revealed, we know exactly how the movie is going to proceed and Vasanth, unfortunately, doesn't surprise us at any point.

The three key characters are all shaped up pretty well. We learn about Nitin Sathya way before Padmapriya and her family and that helps her gain our sympathy. Her refusal to divorce him initially and her act of adopting a baby are all touches designed to make us like her so that she gains our sympathy later. And it works. At the same time, Nitin Sathya's reactions to these showcase him as a really cruel and cunning psychotic individual. And Prithviraj's kind acts and mature approach to wooing Padmapriya make him almost too good to be true. There are no shades of gray in any of these characters. We want Prithviraj and Padmapriya to get together and live happily without Nitin's interference and that kind of identification is necessary for a thriller to work.

Nitin Satya's plan is quite devious and the matter-of-fact way in which he deals with Padmapriya makes him seem real cold and sinister. But Vasanth handles the whole thing in a rather superficial manner and doesn't give a lot of importance to the logistics behind his plan. A lot of things need to be in place for the plan to work as shown but they are just not touched upon (for instance, apart from working in the Railways and being a hockey coach, Nitin also has to be a skilled carpenter, electrician and audio engineer!). So the tension and the suspense - key ingredients for a thriller to work - are completely absent.

The climax is disappointingly low-key. Granted it is realistic and so in keeping with the serious nature of the proceedings so far. But Vasanth should have made it atleast a wee bit more crowd-pleasing even if it was at the expense of a little bit of realism (the way he did in superb fashion in Aasai, where inspite of the climax being in Poornam Viswanathan's hands, the background of the Rama Navami festival elevated it to a tension-filled level). The climax here has one surprising moment but the rest of it is just too dull.

Its been awhile since such a good soundtrack has been massacred so badly on screen. Every single song by Yuvan Shankar Raja has been picturized in a way that will make viewers skip the song even when listening to them later, afraid that listening to them will bring back memories of the picturization! Badly placed and unimaginatively picturized, they are capable of making even non-smokers take up smoking just so they could leave the theater! Kaadhal Enbadhaa... and Endha Kudhiraiyil... are ofcourse the easiest targets since they are item numbers. But even Azhagukutti Chellam..., which serves as Prithviraj's introduction and is shown as a montage of clips of him playing with babies, is a disappointment.

Prithviraj admirably sidestepped being typecast as a sophisticated, classy villain after his superb debut in Kanaa Kanden but if his last few films are anything to go by, he is now typecast in another kind of role - the soft-spoken, subtly humorous loverboy! He plays the same role he played in Mozhi, gradually charming Padmapriya with his good looks, good heart and good jokes. But admittedly, there are few actors who can carry off the role as well as him. His conversations with her contain a lot of laughs mainly due to his dialog delivery. Padmapriya is one of those actresses who looks good when presented in a simple fashion rather than under a lot of make-up. She delivers a solid performance and is impressive. Nitin Sathya makes a nice transformation to a psycho from his usual humorous roles. He gets the 'wolf-in-sheep's-clothing' portion of his character just right and brings out his psychotic nature well inspite of not talking much.

The film's editor definitely needs to cut down on his caffeine. Vasanth seems to have been under the mistaken impression that quick editing is all that's needed to give the film a stylish look. So even ordinary scenes, like the one where Prithviraj and Padmapriya are talking on the beach, are presented with quick cuts that have different camera angles and it really hurts our eyes. The movie does look good and a couple of ideas (like the offscreen domestic violence) and angles are quite nifty but the numerous edits simply give us a headache.