I recently saw Nadodigal, and after all the hype, was quite disappointed. The film is quite well-made in terms of ambience, but uneasily straddles the line between old-school masala and “new” tamil cinema — and ends up with neither the energy and enthusiasm of the former, nor the rawness and “street cred” of the latter (not to mention that the film’s protagonists, chief among them Sasikumar, are not well adapted as far as the masala-end is concerned.
What I did appreciate about the film — which centers on a band of friends who help a couple elope in the face of fierce parental opposition — was that this was the one film where the “heroes” were the characters who are peripheral in most love stories: the friends, siblings etc. who help the lovers run away from oppressive parents. Nor is any of this costless: in the typical potboiler, one never sees the consequences, be it the violence or the heartache, that accompanies such filmi romances. Nadodigal certainly does not suffer from that problem, but goes too far, draining truth in yielding to the temptation to be maudlin (not to mention that the film’s (un-ironic) representation of the politics of friendship, the violence that such love can itself entail, is highly disturbing; sure, other Tamil films might suffer from the same worldview, but the stakes are higher in the supposedly “realistic” terrain of the “new” Tamil cinema, and there is no escapist hatch one can resort to). I only wish director Samuthikarani had followed his impulse — to do justice to the marginal — through to the end, instead of trying to make a Bigtime movie out of it…
The passage of time does strange things, but not even Marcel Proust could have dreamed it would have this effect. I’ve spent most of the last two decades disliking Salman Khan. I mean, really disliking him, and everything about him: from his wannabe vibe, his faux-Bambi eyes, his breathless dialog-delivery, his weird English accent, and his non-existent acting skills. Needless to say, I wasn’t much convinced by his occasional half-assed attempts to do masala actioners; he was — and there’s no polite way to put this — just too puny for the likes of Garv, especially given that he was playing it straight, as opposed to using the sort of explanatory gimmick Aamir Khan deployed (namely, that he was a raving lunatic) in Ghajini.
But then, a funny thing happened on the way to 2009…
(I wrote this post on my blog, in response to a request by ‘pardesi’ here, and i thought it might be relevant to post on NG based on some discussion of lack of regional language content on NG).
These are memorable songs from Tamil, Telugu & Kannada, which have won National award. It is just a pity that these songs do not get noticed as much as BW songs.
Let me begin with â€œNaadamayaâ€ from Jeevan Chaitra by Late Legendary Kannada Superstar Dr Rajkumar. He was a true superstar who was blessed with a beautiful voice along with unmatched acting talents. He sung most of his songs(for movies). Visuals are not great in the song, just listen to the song even if you do not understand the lyrics.
EXCERPT: “Naan Kadavul (“I Am God”) is the logical terminus of Bala’s concerns, which include a concern with the history of the Tamil masala hero persona (there can be little doubt Bala has cinematic history on the brain; the descent of a godlike star into the masses’ midst is a fleeting motif in Pithamagan, in the person of Simran playing herself in a medley of old film songs; in Naan Kadavul, there is another medley, with people — all beggars, I might add — dressed up as MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, and Rajni, not to mention an ultra-lewd man dressed in drag and cavorting to one of Nayanthara’s dance numbers; for the original video of that “Yammadi” song from Vallavan (2006), feast your eyes on this) . The film’s protagonist Rudra isn’t just godlike, he insists that he is god. And not just any deity, but Kaal Bhairava, the Shiva who stands watch over Kashi. Nothing in the movie suggests that Rudra is deluded, or that he is anything other than the Kaal Bhairava who cut off one of Lord Brahma’s heads in violent demonstration of the futility of the argument between Brahma and Vishnu as to who was the real lord of creation; the correct answer was neither the Creator (Brahma) nor the Preserver (Vishnu), but the Destroyer (Shiva). (Indeed, one of Bhairava’s manifestations is even called Rudra Bhairava; and Rudra is of course also the name of the Vedic storm god, subsequently assimilated into the cult of Shiva.) Bala’s creation of an ambience where the viewer simply accepts this claim as normal where Rudra is concerned, and in a context where most other characters in the film are not so sanguine, is his most creditable achievement.”
[Thanks to GF for pointing me to this trailer. It’s a good trailer â€” the opening shots impart a touch of Hephaestus to Kamal working in his subterranean lairâ€¦couldnâ€™t help but smile at that English accent, that is vintage Kamal ha ha ha. Lal as expected underplays the role relative to Kher â€” thereâ€™s a certain world-weariness to this character, and at times I felt Kher seemed a bit too fresh in â€œA Wednesday” — Qalandar]
“I wanted to shake these bratty SMS-era youngsters by the shoulder and tell them that this story needs this pace â€“ if itâ€™s a slow film, itâ€™s because it isnâ€™t set in a fast world. I wanted to tell them that this was, after all, the 1970s â€“ an India of tonga carts and unsliced loaves of bread and two-rupee notes, and when people had to wait for days to hear from one another, either through letters or the tiresome mechanics of booking a trunk call over staticky communication lines. How easy it was, back then, to lose touch with people, who didnâ€™t leave permanent footprints of their journey through life on, say, Facebook. (Today, you cannot shake off even the friends you want to lose.) It wasnâ€™t unusual to graduate from school or college and have an entire set of people â€“ and along with them, an entire part of your life â€“ vanish into the ether, oftentimes without the comfort of closure. Thatâ€™s the era this film attempts to evoke. When Lenin does not hear from Nadheera for weeks or months, we need to feel the length of this time elapse on screen â€“ and the noonday-lethargy pacing of Pokkisham is very much a part of its design.”
Fifty years into an endlessly fascinating career, hereâ€™s a wish (no, make that a pipe dream) that Kamal Hassan would go back to having fun, being cool.
AUG 23, 2009 â€“ IN THE YEARS I WAS GROWING UP in a balmy nook of Madras â€“ ensconced in an ethos that was part-Peter, part-Pattabhiraman â€“ Kamal Hassan was, quite simply, one of the coolest people on the planet. (At the time, of course, the actor was adored by the mononym of Kamalahasan. The modification in the moniker occurred during the release of Vikram, his lavish Bond fantasia, perhaps owing to his attempts to simultaneously straddle the worlds of Tamil and Hindi cinema. He was trying, in other words, to be part-Pattabhiraman, part-Parminder.) Kamal was cool not because he could act well â€“ as a kid or a young teen, it wasnâ€™t exactly the Method-inflected thesping skills that reached out and grabbed me by the collar of my printed-polyester shirts. He was cool because he embodied an imported-from-the-West panache that few Tamil stars had before him, few Tamil stars possess even today.
An older generation would swear by the devil-may-care swagger that a Sivaji Ganesan brought to his chain-smoking while crooning Yaar andha nilavu in Shanti, with the graceful shrug of the shoulders that drew the arms close to the torso, and with the attendant gesture of the upturned limp wrist, suggesting the futility of fighting fate â€“ but the deliberations behind these mannerisms never held much appeal for me. When, years afterwards, I stumbled into these artifacts of yesteryear cool (primarily through the graces of Oliyum Oliyum), there was always a fourth-wall-shattering distance â€“ the affectations werenâ€™t organic. They needed to be viewed by squinting through a mist of nostalgia and indulgence. The great actor may well have been attempting to mimic an American college-goer from the mid-century, employing exclamations such as â€œswellâ€ and â€œradâ€ and â€œgolly geeâ€ â€“ it just wasnâ€™t our times, it just wasnâ€™t us.