Archive for the ‘movies’ category

June 15, 2017

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From you, as I move away
The threads from the knot we made
Wrench my heart, bidding me to stay

Sometimes sadly, sometimes gladly
I unravel them daily
To weave us into our story
Of Love, repeatedly

An inspired translation of Anvita Dutt’s ‘Sahiba‘ from Phillauri.

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Kaatru Veliyidai

April 12, 2017

“The toxic romance that is Kaatru Veliyidai” screamed one review. “Emotional abuse is not love!” grimaced another. A third claimed it was pure poetry and a fourth was gushing about Mani Ratnam embracing fifty and more shades of gray. Bewildered by all this noise, the underwhelming trailer and the overwhelming PR, I was considering giving this movie a miss until better sense prevailed. So I made a day out of it and watched the film on the big screen all by myself. I mean that literally as I was the only one in the movie hall, which therefore enhanced the movie watching experience a thousand fold.

(Spoilers are scattered freely in this review, so if you’ve managed to avoid hearing them so far and want to keep up the good work, please listen to Nallai Allai instead and have an enjoyable day ahead. Otherwise..)

Kaatru Veliyidai is the story of a Mani Ratnam heroine and a Mani Ratnam hero, streaked with gray. This time around, it is the story of Leela, the lovable doctor and VC, the dashing pilot. The first hour of Kaatru Veliyidai is perhaps almost flawless in its introduction of its leads to each other and to us. Leela, the incurable romantic watching the snow flakes descend from the skies as she enters Srinagar while the refrain of Vaan varuvaan wafts in the background. VC, sporting sunglasses and a girlfriend, recklessly and thrillingly driving his automobile, setting the stage for a terrific crash and a meet (which is sort of cute) with Leela, as she gazes into his eyeballs and shines a torch-light into them in the hospital to check if they are responsive.

The hilarious scene with VC (played superbly by Karthi) hobbling out of the hospital quoting Bharathi to his angry girlfriend, as he ditches her while literally using her as a crutch is easily the most well written character revelation scene in the entire movie. Unfortunately, this promising beginning of an enjoyable gray in VC’s character later turns into big blotches of black  and white. (It is interesting and a little disappointing to note that no such attempt has been made to make Mani Ratnam’s heroines less adorable or more complex.)

The course of love initially runs smoothly as the couple euphorically float in the air (in a plane), whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears (again, it’s beautiful to see Mani Ratnam showcase this literally) and transition from referring to each other in third person to using the pronoun “You” (“What does VC think?” “How does Leela feel?” Or maybe I’m reading too much into this and there was simply a secret Malayali script writer lurking in the background). This is the part of the movie where you sit with a big smile on your face, which simply refuses to go away.

The warning bells start ringing when Leela and VC are near a snowstorm and VC does not take kindly to Leela behaving like a five year old and threatens her, instead of treating her like an equal (which in his defence, is a bit hard to do). And things start going from bad to worse on the grim side, and good to great on the nice side. One moment, VC is adorably twirling Leela all around the house going “I can’t hear you say I love you!” and the other moment, he’s twisting her arms condescendingly saying “Women, my dear ..” (you know that sentence can never end well). This is excellent material on paper, but on screen, the idealistic moments shine through but the darker moments are *told* rather than shown to us. For instance, we are informed repeatedly by RJ Balaji that VC is an asshole, and by others that VC only likes himself (On a side note, my biggest grouse with this movie is the casting of RJ Balaji and the amount of screen time his character gets)

The songs are superb and superbly used, but Nallai Allai is my pick of the album and also the best *placed* in the movie. Mani Ratnam uses it as a serenading song sung by VC to woo Leela back after an argument and a clash. VC stands on his car, towering over Leela and passionately announces that she is in fact so much bigger than him. Some exquisite staging there!

Aditi Rao Hydari as Leela is a lovely fit and the dubbing is delectable. Who dubbed for her, I wonder ? Karthi, apart from a pained smirk one too many, is debonair and dashing when he is good and moody and manic when he isn’t. R J Balaji should not have been in the movie, nor his character. KPAC Lalitha as the Nurse and Delhi Ganesh as Leela’s grandfather are wasted in their minuscule roles, though it does feel good to see them on screen (watch out for a lovely photo of Delhi Ganesh in one of the frames). Everyone and everything looks gorgeous, the scenery breath taking, though I wish Aditi had worn more layers of warm clothing.

Push and pull, pull and push. The film swings as Leela sways towards and away from VC, almost losing her balance in the dance of Life. But then she realizes that explanations, rationales, reasons, opinions, fears ….don’t matter. At the end of the day, she needs to ask herself and VC just one question. “Yes or no?”  It takes seven years and a journey across seven hills and seas (and a prison break) for VC to give her his answer. But Kaatru Veliyidai leaves you with the question that it never finished answering. What do you say to Love if it is not tempered with Respect ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I try

February 11, 2016

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A story the breeze brings
A story it sings
Of love and lovers
With the voice of flowers
I think I can still perceive
The quiet song that it weaves
If I try

A beautiful sight
Were the stars yesternight
I think I can still see
Them twinkling down at me
In today’s daylight
If I try

Drops of paint dripping colour
In my brush, I discover
I think I can still tinge
My blank canvas with a picture
If I try

Twig by twig
A nest of dreams
I think I can still build
If I but try

Mistranslations of Amitabh Bhattacharya’s Mahek Bhi from Aiyaa 

OK Kanmani

May 27, 2015

(Spoilers alert and er.. long post ahead)

I finally got around to watching OK Kanmani. With no great expectations, but with no apprehensions either. It’s a very comfortable feeling, when you *know* that the movie you’re about to watch is going to be … pleasant.

You’ve got a charming couple, who meet, then meet up and then move in together and into the house of another charming older couple. You have PC Sreeram’s Bombay for scenic background, ARR’s frothy and light soundtrack, and all the goodness of past Mani Ratnam’s romantic scenes put through the blender and refreshingly served. All this, the trailers tell you. What they don’t spell out is the wistfulness in Tara’s smile and the catch in Adi’s voice.

There’s really very little drama in this young couple’s lives imposed on by others. Sure, you’ve got the dramatic and very rich mother of the bride who knows the police commissioner, you’ve got the scene with the show-down between Adi’s sister in law and Tara. Hell, Adi and Tara in fact meet across platforms when Tara is threatening to jump in front of an incoming train. But then you realize these moments are of absolutely no significance.

Instead the couple build up the drama all by themselves. Adi, literally, for he is a video game developer. Anyway, for a pair of romantics stifled under masks of cynicism waiting to see who rips the mask off first, this is certainly not a tall order.

There are several beautiful moments as their relationship blossoms. When early on, Tara goes outside her office to meet a waiting Adi to go to a coffee house, he hops on to his bike and waits for her to get on. She hesitates a bit, taken aback. He smiles and asks “Should I walk alongside with you with the bike then ?”. She laughs and climbs on. And the camera zips to the next scene, where they are having coffee. The big deal is not the bike ride, the big deal is making that decision to take a bike ride. With a stranger.

The scene in Ahmedabad when she opens up to Adi about her childhood. Apart from Nithya Menen being simply spectacular (and she is), the scene is a marvel because it shows us why Tara does not want to feel vulnerable, ever, whilst showing us how she is slowly becoming vulnerable !

The train ride when Adi wants to leave Tara in her hostel before he has a change of heart. When he says so, she teasingly repeatedly asks “And then what” and draws  out a .. well, gets him to say a few words before he uses humour to disguise his feelings.

When they watch Ganapathy Uncle tell Bhavani Aunty that she has Alzheimer’s through the almost closed door. Bhavani asks her silent husband “One day, will I forget you also Ganapathy ?”. Adi, distraught, walks away from the scene while Tara looks on wonderingly, hearing perhaps herself in Bhavani’s question.

The conversation Tara and Adi have with their eyes in the party celebrating Adi’s US job offer. Well, not really a conversation, but just a “We both know that this is coming to an end” realization, before they go their separate ways, Adi to the US to become the next big thing in the video gaming world, Tara to Paris to her architecture school.

They make a pact, saying they will not let these last days they have together be drowned in tears or farewells, but simply race through them, sleepless amidst rollicking laughter. The crescendo builds as they build meaningless castles in the air to the tune of Threera .. trying hard not to see the elephant in the room. But this plaster of temporary happiness develops cracks through which the angst about parting creeps in.

We see them querulous, angry, and angsty (the dialogues are so reminiscent of the Madhavan-Simran car scene in Kannathil Muthamittal when they are searching for their daughter who has run away) And it all comes to a boil when Bhavani Aunty wanders away in the rain one evening. The couple, while anxiously searching for her, finally confront their own feelings and the movie ends with one beautiful proposal by Adi (Dulquer just stole all the hearts there)

Really, the only fault I find is with the usage of songs. Brilliantly shot in themselves,  they don’t however really fit into the movie as well as they should have. And Chitra’s “Malargal Kaeten” which just resounds with wistfulness, the beginning of which is … thrown away in a scene early on. Not at all what I had imagined in my mind. However it gets beautifully used later on between Ganapathy and Bhavani,  And also you have the delicious Bhavamulona floating around Adi and Tara in the streets of Bombay. Big win.

Sure, it is a light weight movie. But it is one enjoyable light weight movie. With amazing actors.

April 7, 2015

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Though you were but a stranger
Heart and heart, you strung together
Now that there’s none more dear
My hand in yours, hold, won’t you ?
So that this world will know too

– A translation of Kaun Mera from Special 26
(You can find another lovely translation here)

 

April 4, 2015

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For flowers I asked
And a forest you grew
For water I asked
And elixir you brewed
For what should I ask
That you become mine too ?

In the jungle, my path I lost
And a way, you sent to me
In the darkness my sight I lost,
And the sun, you sent to me
What should I lose
That will send you to me ?

In the chasm, I was sinking
When to the peak, you raised me
In the floods, I was drowning
When to the shore, you brought me
Tell me, what should I do
That will somehow take me to you ?

– Translation of Vairamuthu’s Malargal Kaeten from Oh Kadhal Kanmani

Andaz

April 2, 2015

(Spoilers ahead) What a train wreck of what started out to be a really decent movie. Aaaaah. What a waste of some really nice performances and well written characters except for the last fifteen or so minutes.

Andaz tries to explore what happens when a bond which ties two people together looks different at either end. Dilip and Nina (Dilip and Nargis) meet when Nina’s horse is behaving a tad unreasonably. Though it doesn’t end all that well for the horse, the two strike up a camaraderie which blossoms into a trusting friendship for one and tender love for the other.

Joined by her friend Sheela (a lovely Cuckoo!), the trio have a very pleasant time singing songs, playing tennis and enjoying life. Nina’s father, made uneasy by her easy friendship and implicit trust in someone essentially a stranger, cautions her to be a little more … guarded. Lest she send out wrong signals to Dilip and to the society at large.

Nina finds her father’s warning a trifle ridiculous and is very sure there can be no possible misinterpretations of her feelings and actions. There is a very beautiful scene between father and daughter capturing the naivety and innocence of Nina, and the tender regard her father has for her, when he gives in to her wishes and invites Dilip to her birthday bash.

Circumstances throw Dilip and Nina even closer to each other in a very short span of time, till there comes a point when she depends on him completely. It is he who sort of brings her to life again after the death of her father. And she goes as far as making him a partner in running her father’s business. Meanwhile, Dilip has fallen completely in love with Nina. He has, in his thoughts, linked his future with Nina and completely gives up any plans of his own and falls in line with Nina’s suggestions and stays on in her town.

Enter Rajan, Nina’s beau and love of her life, away previously for sometime in London. Obviously this comes as a shock to Dilip, owning to the fact that Nina never tells him of Rajan’s existence. However Rajan knows all about Dilip. Which is extremely natural, I think. Dilip, being a man in love has ignored/misread any passing reference to Rajan. And as Nina says laughingly on being questioned by Dilip “Are you my girlfriend that I moon over and tell you about my love life”. Probably she never thought how close to her Dilip would become.

Rajan and Nina get married very soon after Rajan comes back to town. Dilip, in a daze, feigns headaches for some time and then decides to go away once and for all. And when Nina cross-questions him, he reveals his love. She is upset, tries to get him to take back his words and when he refuses, storms back inside, her head swirling in fear of what people might say at Dilip’s sudden departure and how Rajan might react. One who didn’t give a damn of what people might think of her, is now suddenly crushingly aware of the power of a few poisonous words. (Dilip, being a gentleman decides to stay on and forlornly sings love songs and refuses to marry Sheela.)

More than everything else, she seems to fear her own feelings. She imagines a stern Dilip needling her to peruse her unconscious feelings for him, and has nightmares of her husband and Dilip shooting each other while she watches on mutely.

Rajan, needless to say is a little worried by Nina’s jumpy behavior and her refusal to go back to the city. She has made him move to a smaller town and stay there. And he is a little perturbed about Dilip’s refusal to marry Sheela and that little nagging question turns up in the corner of his mind. However life goes on, and Rajan and Nina are blessed with a baby daughter. Time flies and the couple  moves back to the city with their toddler.

And Dilip meets a reluctant Nina at her child’s birthday party, wanting to tell her that he’s really going away for good this time. A nervous and highly strung Nina becomes even more so, when the power fails and in the darkness pleads with Dilip to not bother her anymore or disrupt her peaceful life with Rajan and her baby.

The lights come back on and she sees Dilip at the other end of the room. *Gasp*, she has just told all to Rajan, who’s hurt, angry and very very suspicious. What will happen ? How will it all end ?

Not very well, I’m afraid. Remember Nina’s nightmare about the two men in her life shooting each other ? Probably that might have been a nicer ending than what the movie has in store.

The movie’s solution is to make Rajan hit Dilip in the head and turn him from a decent reasonable and thoroughly dependable man into someone deranged and insane and to get Nina to kill him when he ..er confronts her and even tries to attack. (By the way, Nina seems to have zero feelings for Dilip after her husband nearly kills him. She seems to mainly want him to live so that he can clear her name and reunite her with her husband. Poor Dilip) Then Nina, after giving a speech which seems to boil down to saying “Women, it’s all your fault for being so free and smiling at every man who comes around” is hung to death. Bleagh.