2012 in review – a quick stats!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 38,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Thandavam (2012) – Movie Review

Thandavam (2012) seems to be an action thriller coupled with Drama. I’ve been trying to classify the movie just as an Action thriller or even as a Drama, but I fail every time I try categorizing it. It somehow gives a mixture of genres and thus leaving it in its own flavor. It reprehensibly fails to appease the heart which was elevated well high with the hype that it created by the castings – Vikram, Amy Jackson (Madrasapattinam fame…Maranduttiyaa…?) and Anushka.

The movie as a whole did create a commercial sentiment with foreign locales (London), English speaking characters with due subtitles in Tamil, Interpol and a bit of terrorism. But what’s the point in such an effort without any plausible justice to the flavor of the story? Haven’t we witnessed enough revenge plots? There is no offence to the screenplay and cinematography – a perfect centum. But the sanctity of the movie is altogether spoiled with a predictable script. It would have been a classic thriller if more emphasis is given on the uniqueness of the script.

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Movie Review: Ko (2011)

I’ve never been to a Jeeva movie in theatre before, considering his just-another-guy face in the Tamil film industry. Even Jeeva’s ‘Siva Manasula Sakthi (SMS)’ didn’t usher me to the theatre much. Later watching it on the television seemed to be an uber cool successful comedy and sentimental movie.

Something tempted me to give a try to this one KO, is the tag that this movie came with, yea it is ‘K.V.Anand’ and ‘Harris Jayaraj’. Anand has been an awesome cinematographer which you can experience from the movies viz. Ayan, Mudalvan for its rich and colourful camera angles and a successful director for his exceptional and sensational story lined movies Kana Kanden, Ayan . Well, it was the second day show at Devi Cineplex, Chennai, 7.00 PM for the movie ‘KO’. I landed in the complex with a bunch of my friends.

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Movie Review: Madrasapattinam (2010)

A fine mix of old times and the contemporary with the perfect blend of Patriotism and Love gives the delicious meal of the day and that’s what Madrasapattinam is all about!

The story is set in a present day and pre-independence era of India where Amy Wilkinson (Amy Jackson) comes to Chennai during the British rule. Parithi (Arya) who is brought up in a washer man family who is also a professional wrestler happens to meet Amy. Amy gets impressed with his looks and his demeanor. Amy carries with her an age old camera of British times and clicks away everything she sees in her way. She requests Parithi, to tour around Chennai accompanied by Cochin Haneefa, a Brahmin British stooge. She falls in love with Parithi deeply and thus the story is set to revolve around these characters 60 years back to the present.

The movie would have been just another historic documentary if it had followed the normal story line starting from the pre independence to the current time. But the director has brought out the storyline in an interesting fashion by shifting the storyline between the past and the present. The simple concept of flashback was handled with more subtlety. The scene shifts to the pre independence era in a swish of time and shifts back to the current one with due continuation. This makes the movie drift more logically and sticks to the flow.

After watching the movie, I fell in love so much with Chennai more than Amy Jackson. Chennai cannot be depicted more captivating than this. The mount road, Spencers and everything steals the hearts of every Chennaivaasi or Chennaite. The classical look of Chennai is something which we have seen only in the forward mails and in the websites. But to bring those looks to the city in the movie and the efforts behind it is more appreciable. It takes a real effort and talent to depict the city in its old form and to bring back the reality to the audience. The streets and roads of the old Chennai or Madras is well portrayed with the men protesting against the British with Indian flag. The mention of Subash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Kamarajar, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Jinnah brings the memories of our old History text books. But to make the audience perceive the existence of those people in the movie is real challenge. It was really pathetic to see how Chennai has been polluted and the resources were wasted in the long run post independence. The Coovam River which was used as a medium of transport using coracles is now a polluted stinking water body. This movie really brought in the aspects which people have to look back and try to preserve the city’s dignity.

The performances by the actors were really laudable. Nazer speaking about Subash Chandra Bose and people waiting for Kamarajar in the railway station were something which I was finding it difficult to imagine. But still it made a good effect on all of us. Arya has done his part well. A normal Dhobi and a wrestler who is silent, illiterate captivates not only Amy’s heart but all our hearts too. Amy Jackson who is cute and the daughter of Governor General of India pre Independence cherishes her stay in Chennai to every extent. When she thinks of her days spent in Chennai during pre independence, the view of Madras changes from new to old and then back to new. When we see the movie in her view, it really creates more belongingness to the City than the movie.

The “Mingu Mingu Mingu…Tingu Tingu Tingu” humor sequence in the movie reminds of the age old “Atharibacha” story told by my father.  Cochin Haneefa gives his piece of Humor as well. His irrelevant translation brings in giggles and laughter at appropriate times.

After irritating requests “Ayyaa oru uthavi, nandri sollanum, English la” from the Arya and the group of his friends, the school teacher abides and teaches them the word “Thank you”, and after a struggled attempt to remember the word, even after repeated murmuring of the word “Thank You Thank You Thank You”, a simple jerk on the road created by shallow pit makes them forget the original word and the word takes up the form “Mingu Mingu Mingu”. These were some of the subtle comedy sequences which may go unnoticed if the audience were not so inclined towards the language. Since the teacher tells Arya and the group of his friends that “A B C D” is similar to Tamil “A Aa E Ee..”, Arya corrects him saying it must not be taught as  A B C D”, it must be “A Aae B Bee C Cee…”. The humor quotient was well maintained with Arya similar to that of his sequence in the movie “Sarvam”

Romance and the urge to get independence strikes volatility in Arya’s mind. When the independence was announced he feels happy and when he comes to know that the English people have to leave the country, the only thought that hits his mind is Amy. Love is something which happens in between two hearts and not in between the people. The war of independence and the war of love storms his heart and the lull prevails when he wins both. The romance was well portrayed in spite of it is being in-between the two, who belong to different nationalities. Since the language was the only barrier, Amy succeeds in learning Tamil which was his only language in which he can express and convey his love. Though Parithi couldn’t successfully live with Amy in his life time post independence, he lives peacefully in Amy heart towards the end.

When Amy says, “Maranduttiya…”(Did you forget?) for the first time, when Arya tries to recall the English words to say “What is your name”, it brings in a sheer joy and excitement not only to Arya but to the audience as well. Amy speaks in Tamil after that.

I felt the song sequences were not that much impressive except the “pookkal pookkum tharunam” number. It was more story oriented with patriotism, independence than a music oriented one. This shifts the interest of the audience towards the movie than the songs.

Last but not least, though this movie seemed to be unique and impressive, it had little inheritance of the story and the sequences from the movies Titanic and Lagaan – The patriotic quotient from the movie Lagaan and the Love quotient from the movie Titanic. This was the general observation from the crowd. But as said, no story can be unique and it has to gain inspiration from the stories from the past, this movie stands no deviation to this rule. But, no one can be blamed for this. This story stood unique in its own aspects of cinematography.

Madrasapattinam has a perfect mix of Story, Humor, Love, Patriotism and Chennai. A unique attempt in the Tamil industry which will definitely applauded and will be profoundly honored. A must watch for all Tamil people and those who love Chennai much like me 🙂

A big applause for the director and all those who made this movie a real entertainer! Do watch it in theatres.

Madrasapattinam – A love in Madras and for Madras!!

Love You Chennai!!!!!!

Movie Review: Aayirathil Oruvan (2010)

Aayirathil Oruvan (2010) – Tamil

With an epic camouflaged in a modern script served with technology dessert, Selvaraghavan was able to hold his audience awestruck, with his simply amazing script in AO. A story set in the modern age with reference to an old Tamil history involving Chola and Pandya dynasty. The story starts with a stage play or it is called Therukoothu in southern Tamilnadu, in which the scene depicts the Chola king handovers his son to one of the people of his kingdom to save his successor. The scene shifts to the old 1279 era’s Chola king in his last stage where in they were driven away from their dynasty as it is invaded by Pandyas. Cholas run away to a secret place to conceal them from the Pandyas.

Then the storyline shifts back to the current age where archeologists from India sets out for an expedition to find the whereabouts of the Cholas with the trails left by Pandya warriors. The team lead by Reema Sen and Andrea with Karthi and others set their journey towards the exploration of Chola land, which turns out to be an Indian government aided project. The obstacles they face while travelling towards the destination with the help of an old map in a parchment paper and the encounter with Chola king Parthiban who still exists in a secret village after many islands and traps away sets the story to the audience.

The back score of the movie is really awesome and it sets the ambience for such an ancient story in the modern age. The screenplay definitely stands out as Selva was able to bring out the real essence of the script. It is really a brave attempt in a Tamil cinema which would definitely reap its fruit of hard work and innovation which Tamil audience have never witnessed before.

The main crux the story lies in the seven traps which ought to be crossed to reach the place where Cholas had lived. They are viz. sea creatures, cannibals, warriors, snakes, hunger, quick sand and a village. Well the story seems to be adopted from various fantasy based stories like that of Vikram Betal, Sindbad the Sailor, Alif Laila and many of them which children would have read in the books. But the story has an ancient-modern stability that the director maintains throughout the movie.

The depiction of Chola history and the kingdom, the people, the old houses takes us to virtually to hundreds of centuries back. You call it a technology effect or the strong story base; it invariably gives a Hollywood touch to the movie.

The Seven Traps

  1. Sea creatures: They resemble an orange glowing lotus leaves which emerge out from the sea and gets stuck to the human body. They emerge from the water when the team of people gets down in the waters near the island, they reach in the night. Since the boat cannot proceed further till the shore of the island, the team had to walk few distance in the water which is still below knee level. Once two or three of the creatures captures a person, he feels extreme irritation and pain in the skin where it gets stuck and makes the person totally impaired. When he drops down, many such creatures engulf him taking him into the sea to his death bed.
  2. Cannibals: These people are encountered by them, once they walk into in the island. There is an entrance to a small village like settlement, where a group of people surrounds them and try to kill them. They look dark, ugly and horrible decorated face (Apocalypto kinda). One can avoid death by not looking into their faces directly. Many are seen to cook humans in the movie. Human legs are protruding out of the cooking pot over a fire, human head will be polished with blood and the inside of it will be extracted and cooked. The horrible scene sends butterflies in our stomach. They speak weird language, which Andrea seems to know and she can talk fluently with the clan leader with black grayish yellow teeth, who likes her very much and want to marry her!
  3. Warriors: These are people who engage in sudden war of fire tipped arrows which kills many of the archeological team who would have deliberately tented in the area after being warned by cannibal clan leader. Thousand of arrows fall from the sky like rain drops and kills many of the people. The team led by Reema Sen and the Officer Azhagam Perumal understand the volume of threat that they are encountering, they engage in gun fire with the red warriors. Reema reminded me of Lara Croft, with her pistols. After mass killing, they burn the carcasses of the warriors and proceed further towards the expedition.
  4. Snakes: They reach a particular place in the forest and as the dusk sets in, they again tent. Andrea being an archeologist, reads Olai chuvadi and predicts that they may be attacked by snakessince it is one of the traps set by Cholas and she was not given due respect as Azhagam thinks being warned about snakes in a forest is dumb and insane. Karthi, Andrea and Reema get separated from the crew during the escape efforts.
  5. Hunger: Yes, after the snake episode, they walk longer miles in the forest, ultimately reaching a vast open sandy desert. Not even a single tree or a water resource would be seen in the finite distance that their vision could reach. They keep walking in hunger and thirst. The desert is vast, sunny, and hot accompanied by sand storms. They have to cross that to reach the next trap which they do not know where and how it is set.
  6. Quick Sand: The three reach a vast open space post desert where the ground is flat and sandy not so loose like that of the desert but thick and hard as a normal sandy roads. Stepping on a particular area may lead to the formation of deep pit which will fill automatically due to the quick sand presence. So if you walk on the sand, in a random place, the ground under your feet will break and you will fall in to the pit and the sand will seal the pit automatically. So the point is to cross the Stonehenge which lies in the center of the vast open ground. They have to cross the quick sand and reach the place after that. The Nataraja Idol shadow which is formed exactly when the sun rises and the rays falls through the Stonehenge to protect them from being drowned in the quick sand, according to some ancient Tamil scripture was a good concept which calls in for appreciations.
  7. Village: This is place where the remaining of the story takes place. Many of them in the village are mad and they abide by the king. They starve and fight for meat like a lunatic. The village is very much ancient and they abide by the king.

Before proceeding further, read this

யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே

and this one too…

குளித்து மணல் கொண்ட கல்லா இளமை!
அளிதோ தானே! யாண்டுண்டு கொல்லோ,
தொடித்தலை விழுத்தண்டு ஊன்றி நடுக்குற்று
இருமிடை மிடைந்த சிலசொல்
பெரு மூதாளரோம் ஆகிய எமக்கே?”

I’m sure many of the Tamil readers reading this, will not be able to understand the whole thing above, except few. That’s how the second half of the movie will be. After the interval, the scenes will be of the Chola people and the village. The language that they speak is very partially decipherable. They speak lucidly in such an accent that, it gives a real feeling of being with the Chola people.

Karthi, Reema & Andrea finally reach the place where Cholas had lived after crossing all the traps. But unfortunately as it said that, many of them who came in search for this place are lost and never return. The mystery unravels here for us as why is it so. All three will be happy to have located the place. The remnants of the Chola dynasty are seen in front of our eyes. The utensils, idols are found to be available in the streets amidst the dilapidated houses and buildings. There prevails a sudden silence and the air flows in the remnant buildings. The air flowing in and out of the old broken statues situated in the streets creates a high decibel sound which makes them quiver out of pain and suffering, bleeding in nose and mouth. Ultimately they lose their mind and they go mad running in a targetless direction towards some place where they get captive with the village people.

Over exposure to infra red rays causes heat. But in the movie, over exposure of Reema Sen, who is already hot makes the audience edge the seat. She plays her part well. The modern city girl who suddenly speaks ancient Tamil, and performs blood sacrifice rituals in the second half of the story, makes us flummoxed. Her brilliant performance is really an icing in the cake for the AO. The “Govinda Govinda” song sequence and the English track in between gives a feeling of Hollywood music video. She reminded me of the Rihanna and Beyonce at times in the song sequence. It gives an eerie and paranormal flavor to the music. Andrea has very less role in the movie. She has performed equally well, but the there wasn’t much performance from her side as she was silent mostly.

The war tactics, usage of weapons, large boulder thrower etc are something which Tollywood has never witnessed in these days. The scene in which the Reema and the Chola king Parthiban sitting in the throne of the king in a big round amphitheatre, like that of the roman colosseum, witness an age old fight of a mass human fighter who has this big body and has a huge heavy spherical rock attached to a thick long chain which can reach the circumference of the theatre. The lunatics are forced to fight with the big man who constantly levitates the heavy mass of rock and throws it in a direction where a group of lunatic humans are assembled. The rock hits few of them killing mercilessly with blood and flesh splashing into the rock. Our hero fights with him, killing him and winning the duel and he becomes an important subject of the clan.

The Chola King Parthiban has done his role flamboyantly well. His introduction is just another awesome flick from a Hollywood movie. But whatever it is, he simply scores in his performance. He fits the role well. The ancient Tamil in his tongue flows lucidly and has his humor touch here and there. “Linga Darisanam kandu…” dialog will be something which cannot be missed by someone who knows a bit of Tamil in depth. Hats Off to you Parthiban. You always give a humor touch to everything. We loved you as a Chola king!

How can we miss Karthi? Yea, he is as usual casual, humorous and smiling. In his recent movies, he has been portrayed as one filthy, country side, dirty macho man, speaking begrimed language in a contaminated accent. This movie is not an exception as well for him. He plays a coolie who has been hired to help in the expedition. He confronts Reema and Andrea with his naughty mischievous actions, “Kalyananam panna ungala than..pannikanum…”. Later his frown stare at Reema and an affectionate stare on Andrea, facilitates the movie to run interestingly smooth. An extra piece of chicken for Andrea, is an extra piece of chicken for us too!

The movie ends with the death of the king & Karthi running away with a king’s small boy inorder to protect him from the Reema, Azhagam Perumal and others who turned out to be the Pandya successors who were in an expedition to reclaim the lost idol from the Chola king, thus saving at least one the Chola dynasty, indirectly sending us the message that the Chola people and their successors still exists in today’s modern world.

This movie gives a perfect blend of Hollywood series 300, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, Avatar, Mummy, Apocalypto and many other series. Well no story is unique as every story is an outcome of inspiration derived from some other series. I’m sure this one will be a hit in Tamil. This is a must watch movie for those who would expect something different from the kuthu paattu, sentimental cries, action fights, mass heroism, college romance. A completely different approach and try by the director for the Tamil Industry.

There are many scenes in which the so called objectionable and ‘bad’ words are used very perspicuously that suffers a mute. Andrea and Reema involve in wordy duel commenting about their bosoms and using the F word and many other words which is lost in the editing during the censoring. Hmmm…….

Hope the movie finds its place in the box office!

P.S: One thing which keeps nudging me was the use of iPhone by the officer, in the island min-gua near Vietnam. Well I was thinking about which network works well in such an isolated island with strong signal reception! I was wondering about my Airtel connection which sets itself to “No Service” mode 100 kilometers outside the city limits.

Ayirathil Oruvan – All is well!

My Rating: ●●●●● (4/5)