I guess A.R.Murugadass must have heard me speak somewhere-for he has borrowed my message “that you cant trust those Chi-coms” and made it into a full length movie……jokes apart lets get into the nitty-gritty.
Surya stars as Bodhidharma, the Indian (tamil?) monk who went to China to spread the good word about Budhhism and also as Aravind , a descendant and a circus-artiste. The first twenty minutes showing the Bodhidharma story has a Discovery-channel feel to it and the audience was restless waiting for the real movie to start….must have reminded them of the old habit of compulsorily showing NDFC films before the main show. Its tough to showcase an entire movie’s worth of story in twenty minutes and it would have better if ARM had just used rolling credits to explain the pre-story (like Star Wars) and move on to present times. But instead we get to see a half-baked plotline about a viral disease in china killing lakhs and the news spreading to India (in the pre-internet times) and Bodhi’s mother asking him to go and cure those poor chinese peasants….and the funniest part is the village Nanyi Boddhi gets to eventually, (after a 3 year overland? journey…who the heck travelled overland in those days..when there was a perfectly feasible searoute..which chinese had been using for ages to get to india?) and to get back to the story…those poor Nanyi villagers havent heard that there is a disease going around china, which even Surya has heard in Kanchipuram (is that what they mean by the title 7th vision?…that ability to log on to the world wide web with just a mind connection?). Surya before he departs writes a book about his knowledge which in the end plays absolutely no role in the movie..wonder why they wasted a reel showing it? Anyway after Surya shows off his healing skill and later his fighting skills, the chinese thank him as they usually do- by poisoning him, burying his body and making him a god..the laughing budhha.
And then the story moves to the present….a Circus artiste, a pole dancer, a street dancer, an animal caretaker and a highly educated yuppie- all rolled into one – being captivated by an evil researcher at first sight and pursuing her only to find that the tables have been turned and she was the one who was doing all the pursuing. When will our directors learn to go the whole hog and let go of the hero’s image issue? Have you ever met any circus artiste who is so fluent in english and acts like a software professional? Most circus artistes are trained from childhood at the circus and rarely know the world outside…but you cant show a hero like that, do you? Even if that gullibility would have suited the story, there is an image to think of, right?
And then he finds out that he was duped- he doesnt react much, doesnt show any anger or hatred- its as if he knows he is finally going to get the girl-its all a big inside joke. And he goes along with Shrutis proposal to regain his Genetic Memory(?)…thats a joke again….and it would take an entire post to point out the flaws in that theory…let me just point out that according to the story, Aravind’s DNA is a 80% match of Bodhi’s and when he is bombarded with radiation (hulk-effect?) he regains the knowledge hidden there….but let me remind you that the genetic difference between a human and chimp is 97% (the remaining 3% is all that makes us human) and if Genetic memory is regained through regression…Surya should have turned into a monkey and not Bodhi…
For all the hype about the movie….we get to see a poor job done by Surya, the lead actor. He seems to have been infected by the “Jothika-effect”- that overacting is also acting….considering that she is his wife, it was inevitable I guess…..if you are going to make a different movie, you should have the guts to go all out and make it and not worry about your image…like what Ajith did in Mankatha. Here Surya falls in between two stools, trying to balance his limited repertoire of expressions with an awesomely fine-tuned body. If he could have just retained the Bodhi look…beard an all…the rest of the movie would have turned out so much better.
And then we get to the heroine(or villian-1)…Shruti Hasan does a neat job (with her limited skills) of a scientist who would go to any extent to get her thesis done and emigrate (escape) to foreign countries based on it. She gets to speak a lot of dialogues about the history of Tamils which feels so strange, given that she is not a typical Tamilian-looker. And she also gets to cuss a bit, which is a first for a Tamil film.
And then the main villian- Dong li- a monk, who was trained at Shaolin temple and who goes around killing people with his hypnotic looks…well, this is a film, so you gotta believe it. The actor whoever he is, seems to have misunderstood that to look menacing- you just need to sneer at people. Halfway through the movie, I was wondering if Prakash Raj could have made a more convincing villian if you had just slanted his eyebrows a bit…because Dong Li, the martial arts expert, having trained in kung-fu since childhood, rarely uses it and all that lack of practice shows in the climax, when a half comatose surya, beats the crap out of him with a few remembered moves from his DNA and a little dust-storm he creates with his mind.
And finally the music…..well, it sucks- no second thoughts. Harris took the money and gave ARM a lemon. Well, on second thoughts, it was my money dudes, your money,our money- the 2-G spectrum money looted from all of us- which went into the making of this movie…so we were the ones who didnt get our money’s worth.
An average movie…which might just might regain the money it spent by clever marketing and hype appealing to Tamilian pride. Are tamils so innocent that they will beleive anything if it appeals to their “lost” grandeur? There is an whole industry thriving on it (on the web especially)- glorifying the lost Kadal-konda Then- Madurai, Kumari-kandam and other lost Sangams, that it was just a matter of time, before someone had the brainwave to make money out of it. 7th sense may just be the beginning of this.
One final thought: As people know, my mothers side of the family is from Kanchi- so I am a half-Pallava myself- and my maternal grandmother used to say that the Pandya people (people from around Madurai) were good with their tongue (speech) while the Kanchi people (the Pallavas) were very good with their hands (doers, instead of talkers). Strangely, after so many years, she has been proved prophetic…..my girlfriends seem to agree with her statement about the hands (my hands on their…)…so genetic memory must exist somewhere in me too?