When Opinions Are Like________ And Everyone Has One


When Opinions Are Like________ And Everyone Has One

A few years ago, when social media was not yet as ripe as it is today, whenever I finished a book or a movie I liked I couldn’t wait to head to school/college the next day and discuss it with my friends. Sometimes the discussion would be with my area friends and I would head out to their house, call them out, mostly by ringing their door bell and informing their dad/mom whoever happened to open the door that a gang of us friends were waiting in the street for their son and rushing back out to the street before they could stop us and ask us about our marks in the latest exam. And after such hectic efforts to collect a minimum quorum necessary to argue incessantly we would all adjourn to the nearby tea shop or potti kadai (pavement shop) or even the street corner- preferably a brightly lighted on underneath a street lamp –to make out facial expressions when arguing and then finally I would lay out my opinions regarding that book or movie which made me walk all the way up to their homes and then my friends would proceed to offer their candid comments on my taste of movies or books and lay threadbare my other foibles just to pass their time. After such a refreshing talk with alternate viewpoint’s we would all disperse to our respective streets/homes after promising to meet again soon under the same street lamp. And those were simpler times and not that long ago too- and definitely not from the Jurassic or Triassic era if that’s what you are thinking.

Now switch over to the current scenario. Suppose I read a book or saw a movie I liked- say a new author I have recently discovered or a classic film I just happened to download and watch on a boring day. I just have to post that information online on my Facebook and Twitter feed (or instagram a picture while actually doing it) and voila, the opinions fly in even without asking, even before I have finished posting. Friends, strangers, friends turned strangers and strangers turned friends are all actively commenting on my choice of the book/movie, offering me critical analysis of the novelist/director, recommending other unheard works from his/her oeuvre and generally being too helpful in educating me. And that’s just on facebook.

On twitter the situation is even more drastic. Critics and trolls will crawl out of the woodwork where they would have been long in hiding (just following my tweets silently) and treat my posting my opinion on the book/movie as an open invitation to offer their opinion of me, my behavior in my personal life, my opinon of narendra modi and my lifestyle choices. The open forum of twitter where you don’t have the option of “accepting friends” aka facebook makes it even easier to get trolled by anonymous (and some not so anonymous) trolls. The only option would be to either block them (and miss out on all the fun of being called an imperialist/british loving/macaulayputra running dog for preferring English over Hindi as a national language for united India) or in shifting to a protected tweets only mode which is simply like hollering alone in a locked room while the dogs bark outside. Neither of which appeals to my sense of humour. But sadly despite all that vim and vitriol real opinion on real issues never seem to happen on twitter. Everyone seems desperate to show off and impress others with their felicity over the 140-character format. Brevity in words is unfortunately taken to mean paucity of thoughts, original thoughts I mean.

And when all this pseudo-intellectual shit gets heavy on me, I post my opinions on Insta, where people (from world-over) instantly grant me likes and heart me- even if their ‘net connections are so poor that they can’t even see my post which has not yet loaded on their mobile apps and still take the time to comment “good”, “great”, “wonderful”, “fill in any other generic compliment you can think of” just so I would remember and repeat the compliments the next time they post something. An intellectual conversation is never on the cards on insta- unless it’s a post on feminists when you are sure to get more comments than likes as everyone and their aunt have an opinion on feminism.

Anyway the point of this post is that unlike the simpler older times when the discussion was instant (give or take 24 hours) and mostly on topic, the use of social media to solicit opinions on our recent reads/watches mostly leads us off to unexpected areas where we are forced to either update our knowledge after accepting our ignorance of the topic we first posted upon (say on the comparative acting talents of Humphrey Bogart/Grace Kelley/Sidney Poitier) or we are forced to defend our opinions incessantly (like why we like chetan bhagats books despite the man being a mountebank). This ceaseless arguing, for weeks on together (whenever any idiotic stalker goes and likes our old post’s to bring it back up on the TL for further comments and discussions again and again) saps all the thrill and excitement of discovering something new and trying to share it with everyone or at least with our own close circle of like-minded friends. So much so, that nowadays I desist from announcing my excitement at my discoveries online. I prefer to hoard the emotions, gloat over them in private and if filled to overflowing I try to turn down the excitement a notch by writing a blogpost on it, of course with comments disabled for my peace of mind. So, far from social media being a great tool to harness contrary opinions and diverse views, the reality is that it’s the same shit all over again. And this way you don’t even have the pleasure of punching someone in the face when they disagree with you.

So tell me dear readers, do you like to post your opinions on social media when something new excites you? Or do you just want to pick up a phone, call a friend and talk it out with them? Which is your choice of poison?

 

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My Top -5 – Underrated Tamil Films On The Theme Of Love Failure.


My Top -5 – Underrated Tamil Films On The Theme Of Love Failure.

Inspired by blogger Sylvianism’s post on top romance films of Tamil cinema, I wanted to write my own list. Here are a few gems which might not have made the mainstream blockbuster lists but still work in an understated way.

  • Paneer Pushpangal- this being the season of paneer, how could I resist starting off this post without paneer? Released in 1981 this was P.Vasu’s first directorial- much before china thambi and chandramukhi. The title paneer pusphangal refers to lotus flowers but the hidden meaning of the title is the early morning dew on the lotus flowers which evaporates with the full dawn as a metaphor for first love which disappears with the onslaught of reality. The story which deals with the budding of love in school kids of a boarding school in Ooty and is full of hilarious takes on hostel life in boarding schools and still resonates with those who have spent some part of their lives away from home eating terrible hostel food and pining for attention/affection even when surrounded all around by friends. The romance is such a natural expression of kids in that terrible teen years when your heart yearns for affection and gets a crush on whoever shows even the tiniest bit of affection. The lead actor suresh and his group of friends capture the slice of life of teen years in a poignant way. Not to forget the sketch of the wise and understanding teacher played, rather underplayed by pratap pothen in his trademark style. And true to style the movie ends in love failure as so often happens in real life. The songs are especial highlights of the movie- who can forget kodaikala katraey? Definitely this is one movie for the discerning types.

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  • Ninaivellam Nithya – again, an 80’s era film with love as the main theme and all the characters revolving around it. This again ends in a tragedy but is all the more sweeter for it as the entire movie seems geared up to play out the almost impossible happy ending when it comes to a pairing between two widely divergent individuals status wise. The hero is a rich kid, the heroine is a tribal and not only do they have the temerity to fall in love but they end up eloping and dying in the climax. A very young karthick and viji a debutante would have lived the roles of the star crossed lovers. Every casting choice was perfect and natural and the highlight of the movie are the songs which still make one get goosebumps. You can even consider this the breakout movie of singer SPB as the songs Pannivilum malarvanam and neethane endhan pon vasandham (yes, the original of the movie with the same title by Gautham menon) are still being played in many impromptu jam sessions and karaoke nights.

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  • Kadhal Kondein- I am partial to selvaraghhavan romances- I have no hesitation in accepting it. I thought long and hard about 7-g rainbow colony- another doomed romance with haunting songs before picking this one simply because with 7-g selva had perfected his craft and knew all the ways to tug at heartstrings but this one was raw romance with nary a thought of the box office acceptability. Danush burst on to the scene with this movie and gave us a glimpse of what he could do if left unfettered and in proper hands but sadly the image trap has consumed the actor in danush in recent times. The theme of unrequited love might be the same but the way that selva builds up danush’s character as the innocent friend who is used as a go-between of two lovers who naturally gets tempted and falls in love himself and the way that the heroine is the most matured character of all and handles the inappropriate love with parts compassion and parts exasperation makes beautiful watching. You can’t beat selvaraghavan when it comes to showing love from a feminine point of view.

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  • Parthiban Kanavu – this is a little gem for those who missed out when it was first released. The lead actor srikanth is in love with a woman but marries her lookalike who is totally opposite to his expectations. Rather than being disappointed, depressed or ending up in divorce the hero starts appreciating the new woman in his life. For a movie about post marital love it’s surprisingly subtle about the way in which the wife’s character starts growing up in her husband’s affection and ends up gaining his love even after he meets his original lover. Sneha literally owns this film in a dual role with both women affecting the hero in different ways. The movie which starts off with the love failure ends up showing marital success as the hero is mature enough to realize that what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts.

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  • Ullam Ketkumey – a movie about a group of friends all of whom have love failures? I see you shaking your head and saying no way José. But this movie is not just about love, it’s about friendship, it’s about ambition, it’s about making clear headed choices in life and about redemption after love failure. There are a lot of romances in the movie- arya’s, poojas, shyams, laila’s- everyone ends up falling for one another as so often happens in close knit college buddies groups. But the movie doesn’t stop with the usual romance scenes or love failure songs. It shows life beyond love failure when people have the guts to pick themselves up and go onto succeed in other spheres of life even when romance has failed them. The scene where pooja walks into aryas room on the eve of his wedding and the scene where shyam at last realizes Laila’s love after being oblivious to it throughout the entire movie are quite heart tugging. The songs are just so and so, but the story more than makes up for the music.

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The Other contenders –

Although there were many other contenders for the top 5 love failure movies, I didn’t want to go with the usual suspects like vinnaiy thandi varuvaya and premam which you would be hard pressed to find anyone in tamilnadu who has not watched or has an opinion on. Rather I wanted to showcase a few which no one would have seen or heard off before as my recommendations to watch. I give thanks to my friend sylvian Patrick for the blog prompt for this post and also to raj tv channel which by repeated telecast of all these movies has made me appreciate and become a fan of these little know gems. There is life after love and there is always another love failure movie to watch on Raj TV. Happy Valentine ’s Day folks.

A Round-Up Of My TV Show Recommendations


A Round-Up Of My TV Show Recommendations

Blandings2

So the newest season of Game of thrones has started off as expected – John Snow has been brought back to life which was pretty much anticipated and eagerly awaited for, the only question being how he would he resurrected from the dead. Episode 2 has revealed that his spirit had escaped into his direwolf Snow as his body was being stabbed multiple times and from there it returned back to his human body when the Red Woman, Melisandre the sorceress of the Light-cult, worked her magic on his wounds. The other character, the only other character we sympathize with and hope to see survive the Game Of Thrones, Daenerys is well on her way to acquiring her promised bridal gift- the entire dothraki nation to rally behind her cause. Just to recall, Khal Drogo, he who was prophesied to be the father of the stallion which rules the world and hence always fucked daenerys from behind (like a stallion?), had promised the use of the dothraki hordes against the westeros as a marriage gift to daenerys to regain her throne, but as he unfortunately dropped off dead and daenerys couldn’t hold on to what was left of the khals army she had to go and recruit eunuch warriors and mercenaries who all proved inadequate to the upcoming campaign against the might of the seven kingdoms across the dothraki sea to finally put a Targaryen on the throne.

Another interesting show I regularly watch, the latest season (season 3) of Penny Dreadful has got off to a kick-ass beginning as well. Count Dracula, the main villain is back on the show after disappearing for most of last season leaving the field open to minor witches and monsters and he has finally hooked up with Renfield, his future nemesis Dr. Seward’s confidential secretary. And Adam, the Frankenstein’s monster at last lives up to his name by twisting off the head of a ten year old child before walking back to england all the way from the arctic where he was marooned on a sunken ship bound in the ice field, at the end of last season. And the protagonist of the show Miss. Ives played by the delectable Eva Green, has at last got out of the stupor of a broken heart and is out and about, ready to face up all the evils of the night which haunt 1880’s London, most of whom she has had sex with in the previous two seasons. All in all the show promises to send more than a few heartbeats racing (and i don’t mean just in the horror sense) this season as well.

pennydreadful

I have also finished watching the entire season 1 of the latest BBC adaptation of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I have to admit that I cant wait too long for season 2 to start. The TV show has added a new interpretation to the traditional story by making sure that although played by the same character, Robert Jekyll’s alter ego Hyde is shown in a delightful new avatar of understated villainy instead of the usual over the top villainous antics we are used to seeing in previous adaptations. The show again has ended in a flaming season finale and we cant wait long enough to see Robert Jekyll get up and show his other side in season 2.

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Dickensian

Dickensian season 1 has ended in BBC one, leaving a half hour void in my night time TV schedule. For those not familiar with the series it is an adaptation of all the Charles dickens novels in an amalgamation where all the various characters interact with one another in un-looked for ways. We are shown the beginnings of Miss. Havisham’s hatred for men with the love affair which caused it ( from Great Expectations) along with the death of Jacob Marley and the coming into fortune of his sole partner Ebenezer Scrooge ( from A Christmas Carol) and Fagin and gang, the likes of the Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes and Nancy (of Oliver Twist) who are suspected of killing Marley on behalf of Scrooge – all in all an interesting mish mash of characters and situations all intertwined together.

So to fill up my half an hour nostalgia tv show slot I have recently started binge-watching Blanding’s, the show based on the P.G. Wodehouse novels of the same name. The antics of the Earl of Emsworth and his price pig the Empress of Blandings have been hilariously brought alive on TV for the first time. Throw in Aunt Connie, Emsworth’s sister and Freddie Threepwood his son and an assortment of wodehousian favorite characters like Sir Roderick Glossop, who keep dropping in and out of the show, you have a crackerjack of a comedy masterpiece crammed inside half an hour. Highly recommended for a last show before bed night time slot to leave you with a pleasant smile on your face as you sleep.

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The last show i want to talk about is the BBC adaptation of the sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice novel -Death Comes To Pemberley. The book which was a gripping whodunit murder mystery solved by Elizabeth Bennet of the Pride book had me salivating at the opportunity of watching a TV adaptation. And it didnt disappoint as it stuck pretty much to the template of the book. But if there was one thing which soured my pleasure of the TV adaptation it was the casting. Every character was aptly cast except for the lead one, the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. If you remember reading Pride and Prejudice you would remember that Miss Elizabeth Bennet was a saucy little beauty who made not only the proud Mr.Darcy fall madly in love, but also carries on a brief fling with the much experienced ( in a ladies way) man about town – George Wickham the eventual villain of the novel. But the tv show has erred erroneously in casting an ugly old hag has elizabeth bennet. Granted its been a few years since her wedding and she is now the mother of a five year old child, but i cant help thinking that elizabeth would still be a milf oozing sexuality and not such an ugly old has been especially after remembering Keira Knightley in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. God only knows what the makers were thinking when they cast the characters. Maybe they were looking to make it on a low budget and this waas all they could afford to hire? I leave it to you dear readers.

Oscar So white


Oscar So white

Oscar-Awards

 

I am sure that everyone will recognize the trending hashtag of “Yo, Oscars So White” that I don’t need to elaborate further on the topic of the title except to say that the comedian Chris Rock’s jokes on the hashtag are now more popular than the original movie nominations for which the hash-tag was coined. For all the flak that this years Oscar nominations have received for being an all-white affair, the fact is (according to me at least) there were no outstanding performances or movies by non-white actors which demanded to be recognized and any other way of being nominated would be purely race-patronizing. With one exception.

And thats Samuel L Jacksons performance as the civil war era bounty hunter in Hateful Eight, where amidst a mix of solid performers he stands out once, not for his profanity count, but for the authenticity which he brings to the embittered war veteran’s role. Hence myy vote for best actor this year goes to Sam Jackson who narrowly beats , yet another nuanced performance by Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies. The problem with Tom Hanks is he slides so effortlessly into the storyline, so much so that he self effaces himself into the background and we fail to recognized a virtuoso performance when we see one concentrating more on the ebb and flow and all the drama of the movie. If there is a lifetime achievement Oscar for the best portrayal of an everyday common man then Tom Hanks is a shoo-in for it.

For the best picture Oscar my vote goes to the outstanding drama of the year- In The Heart Of The Sea. For once Chris Hemsworth does not dominate the movie but lets the story take over the character. It also helps that he doesn’t flaunt his biceps wielding that gigantic hammer unlike his Thor avatar. The movie is a gripping retelling of the familiar Moby Dick tale with the parts usually left out added in for once.  The sense of doom which manifests itself right early on in the movie, the taut screenplay, the recreation of the old style whale hunting and the eerie second half filled with gut churning scenes of survival in the ocean while cannibalizing the shipwrecked comrades sitting beside, deserves the award for being the best movie of the year.

Which brings me to the subject of Leonardo Di Caprio and The Revenant for lets face it- if Leo di capro wasn’t fronting the movie there wouldn’t even be a whisper about it being an Oscar contender. It doesn’t matter whether Leo grunts, growls, eats raw meat or rolls about naked in the snow- the movie is one long yawn filled disaster of a disaster movie. I wish the academy would give Leo di caprio an honorary best actor award and get it out of the way so such movies wouldn’t be inflicted on an unsuspecting public and  he wouldn’t be tempted in future to try to do anything, anything to get that statute.  After watching the entire movie of revenant in one sitting the only conclusion I could come to was that how did this script pass through all the safeguards and get made while better stories are probably languishing without attracting attention? Are studios willing to bankroll such frivolous efforts merely to pander to a stars Oscar dreams? And why does it matter to Leo so much? Questions which don’t have any easy answers I guess.

So thats my line up for this years performances, whats yours?

Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review.


Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review

Director:  J.J. Abrams   Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford.

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The new Star Wars movie, the J.J.Abrams directed latest installment of the Star Wars franchise raised a lot of new hopes but ultimately failed to measure up to standards. Leastwise to my standards. I believe that the excessive hype pre-release raised up expectation to such a fever pitch that the resultant movie on screen turned out to be an anti-climatic finish. Anyway the duty of a good reviewer is take the good with the bad and thankfully in this instance its not all bad, but good in patches. The best scene of this movie comes a half an hour after the movie begins when Harrison Ford playing Han Solo enters with Chewbacca inside his old Correlian freighter The Millenium Falcon. Till then the movie is all yawn worthy and suddenly with Han Solo’s entry the screenplay picks up or it seems so due to Harrison Fords imposing screen presence. And that shows up the biggest Achilles heel of this movie- casting disaster. Casting relatively unknown actors in important starring roles is a welcome step, but only if they have the acting chops to pull it off. In this case they dont. I am not sure why with such a big budget film they too the risk of it all imploding spectacularly with such a casting disaster and I can only think of two reasons- either there was a pressure on the producers to be politically correct by casting an african american and a woman as the main protagonists in complete antithesis of the usual hollywood white anglosaxon male domination or they believed that with the power of the star wars franchise actors didnt matter and anybody, any  robot faced cipher could just coast along in a crucial part and people would still be cheering in the theatres with the memories of the original trilogies making them view everything in a nostalgic haze.

Anyway to get back to the story, the film opens with the exact same scene as the original star wars- an important secret, a secret vital to the success of the rebel alliance, is hidden inside a droid named BB-8 – a cute adaptation from the hit movie Wall-E (in tribute?) and the droid’s owner is captured by the First Order, the evil successor of the old Sith Empire. The droid is rescued by a spare parts scavenger called Rey who then teams up with a reformed storm trooper called Fen, a character who channels his inner Chris Rock (and fails pathetically to) in an effort to play the comic side kick to Rey’s warrior woman. Together they end up escaping in an old abandoned spaceship which turns out to be the iconic Millenium Falcon and in search of which Han solo soon turns up. From then on its a Harrison Ford show as he takes over the search for the missing Luke Skywalker the last of the Jedi who alone can defeat the evil First Order and its dark side adherents. The film ends on a poignant note, with Han Solo’s death at his son Ben Solo’s hand, for Ben solo is the new Sith apprentice to the Chairman of the First Order. And Luke Skywalker is discovered standing amidst the ruins of the deserted Jedi temple as the credits roll promising more films to come in the future.

Director Abrams does a fair job by not going overboard with special effects but keeping the CGI scenes at the same level of technicality as the original trilogy which somehow makes it all believable. And by giving the best lines of the movie to the old pair of Han Solo and Princess Leia he shows he knows the pulse of the audience and satisfies the fan boys. Now if only he had stuck his foot down with the studio and the casting director what seems to be a fair movie would have become a good movie. A good storyline, excellent special effects let down by bad acting is what we feel as we the movie ends.

Our verdict- just passable and worth a single watch. Or better wait for the DVD.

Crimson Peak- Film Review


 Crimson Peak

[Directed by : Guillermo del Toro  Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain ]

crimson-peak

Guillermo Del Toro along with Alfonso Cuaron and Roberto Rodriguez remains my favorite directors far more than crowd pleaser like say a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg or even a Quentin Tarantino. I have made my view clear, more times than I can count on this blog, that I dislike too clever by half film making like Nolan does and just don’t get the point of trying the audiences patience in the name of re-inventing genres. If you want to reinvent genres there is no better example than and you can quote me on this, the new sherlock Holmes series directed by Guy Ritchie. For a guy who made something like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to go onto make Sherlock Holmes is the definitive example of reinvention. Anyway tongue-in-cheek aside, Del Toro’s latest Gothic thriller Crimson Peak sticks to all the tropes of a successful goth mystery and makes a eminently watchable movie. There are no surprises here, no multiple climaxes with multiple viewpoints,no characters spoofing off dark, angst-ridden dialogues, in fact there is nothing that is out of place in a clichéd goth movie and yet, and yet, the movie hits the sweet spot of a perfect goth-genre thriller. Much of the credit for this should go to the perfect casting – especially the hero, Tom Hiddleston, the actor last seen smiling sinisterly as Thor’s brother Loki in the mindless froth that was Thor-2, a series killer of a movie if ever there was one. What a fine character actor like Tom Hiddleston was doing in such a movie like Thor makes the mind baffle, but maybe being in such a froth helps refine the acting chops I guess. In the way of, if I can be Loki for a couple of films, then the paycheck means I can act to my hearts content in better and more meaningful movies for the rest of my life.

Anyway to get back to the movie, crimson peak starts off as a conventional ghost film but set in 1887.  A young girl Edith Cushing, played later on by the fragile looking Mia Wasikowska, goes to her mothers funeral and later that night she gets a visit from the just buried mother. The revenant warns her to beware of crimson peak but does not offer any further detailed explanations before disappearing. Cue to twenty years or so later and the little girl is now all grown up and is a serious aspiring writer. On one of her numerous attempts to get the manuscript of, get this, ghost stories she has written published, she runs into an impoverished aristocrat from England, Sir Thomas Sharpe, who is on a funding raising tour of new york to finance his recent invention of an automatic clay mining engine. Naturally he charms the skirts of the heroine who despite the stern warnings of her father proceeds to fall head over heels in love with the dark brooding hero played by Tom Hiddleston who makes his noble poverty despite his baronetcy his major attracting point besides dancing the waltz like a pro. The fly in the ointment- the heroines father is soon dispatched off by a mysterious hand and the couple now united in matrimony fly back to the ancestral seat of the baronet, called naturally, wait for it, Crimson Peak.

Thrown in an old creaking mansion half exposed to the elements, a senile half crazy retainer of the family who seems to know a lot of buried secrets, an always snowing weather which sets the scene for premeditated crime and a brooding spinster sister of the hero, played with panache by Jessica Chastain, who show signs of too much possessiveness, read, psycho-level possessiveness and you have the perfect atmosphere for a kick ass gothic noir thriller. Not to mention, ghost after ghost after ghost who keep appearing to the heroine alone begging her to flee the mansion before she gets chopped up like them and you have the right build up to the climax. The last half is when it all comes together when the heroine investigates and finds out the gore filled past of her husband and the basement filled with the dead bodies of his previous wives. As she is about to become the latest occupant of the basement she is saved by her longtime beau and once rejected suitor who has expressly traveled down from America to expose the sisterinlaw as the murderess of her father and who in turn almost becomes the latest casualty.  The end is a bloody girl on girl action when the heroine Edith faces off against her sister in law Lucille Sharpe, for the right to sleep with her husband who happens, just happens, to come in the middle of the two ladies and gets conveniently killed.

Now it woudnt be far for me to give any more spoilers away and I suggest you watch the movie when and if it releases in india or get your hands on a DVD if you happen to visit Ritchie Street, like I did. Happy watching.

 

Katthi Vs Tropic Thunder…Which Is The Real Spoof On The Audience?


Katthi Vs Tropic Thunder…Which Is The Real Spoof On The Audience?

Kathi

So last weekend I spent watching two movies back to back- the Tamil film kathhi starring actor Vijay and the English film Tropic Thunder starring Ben stiller. The reason I watched them one after the other immediately is because they both run on a single topic- the second one being a spoof on the first. And the theme if you haven’t guessed it by now is “action stars Oscar aspirations”. Now I know that’s a mouthful but nevertheless that’s the theme of this post. Now we all know – in fact its never been a secret – that be it Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood- some big stars – action stars especially often have unfulfilled fantasies of turning thespians and giving in the performance of their lives- acting chops wise- to earn the adulation of carping critics and be recognized winners of the best actor awards rather than the most popular actor awards. This fever (or madness) more or less affects almost all big stars at one time or the other in their career- be it Schwarzenegger with his Kindergarten Cop, Stallone with any of his non-Rocky movies, Statham with his non-Transporter movies and even Jackie Chan with the Jaden smith starring Karate Kid.

What these stars seem not to realize is that the audiences come to watch their films precisely because they have a well defined sensibility of giving what the audience wants and not to watch pure acting or method acting or the ten hankies were drenched with tears kinda acting. And when the star becomes too trippy for his own good and forgets the audience and decides to satisfy only his critics he ends up doing a disaster movie of epic proportions which falls flat between two stools satisfying neither – the audience nor the critics. After all if the star had movable facial muscles he wouldn’t be doing slam-bang action movies right from the start of his career would he? Audiences know the stars limits – their acting talents or lack thereof and still turn up to watch their movies for other things and so it’s quite tragic when the stars themselves don’t know their limitations or forget it in their ego-filled trips and choose awards over their audiences.

tropic thunder

This aspect of the ego-trips stars take to end up in disaster is showcased in one of the greatest spoof-movies Hollywood made- Tropic Thunder where Ben Stiller spoofs this Oscar mania in a movie-within- a movie called “Simple Jack” wherein he tries to show off his acting abilities to get that elusive Oscar award which is nevertheless denied to him for being , wait for it, too realistic a portrayal of retard…and as Robert Downey Jr advises him in a pivotal scene in the movie- never go full retard man, they don’t like it-  which advice is apt for all these action stars- never go full actor man- they don’t like it. This extreme limits to which actors go to be recognized by critics and peers as a, well an “actor” in inverted caps is what lifts Tropic Thunder from your average spoof movie into far higher realms. Every time you watch the film you get to see layers and layers peeled off the hides of action stars who want “respectablity”. The movie ends very poignantly with a message- “know yourself man, know who you are and stay true to yourself”. Which advice is eminently applicable to actor vijay and director murugadoss and the entire katthi team.

When you go to watch a vijay movie you have certain expectations- the bare basic expectation of being entertained for the next two hours being the most primary one. But with Katthi the actor or maybe the director has forgotten this basic commandment and moved into award territory. They have taken a worthwhile issue and using a faulty screenplay which sags and drags for a large part of the movie and a wholly cinematic ending involving the hero fighting 50 bad guys etc have managed to shake the audience faith in the vijay “genre” formula. I am not saying that vijay shoudnt act in such films- after all as an individual its his right to decide the movies he is gonna make but as a member of the pay for tickets and watch in theatre public, I for one will hesitate to watch a vijay movie in the future without reading all the reviews- because now I know that it may or not be a typical vijay movie and can even be a preachy- social issues-artsy movie starring vijay as one of the characters.

This dimnishing of the stars “star valsue” for want of a better term is what saddens me as a vijay fan and and as a fan of potboiler mass masala movies. If even vijay can compromise for the critics sake what hope is there for the average movie fan like me who expects and demands a non-intellectual “no-issues only entertainment” movie with the mandatory 3 duets and 4 fights screenplay? Or maybe I should just stick to watching Telugu movies henceforth- at least Mahesh Babu and Pawan Kalyan will never betray their fans like this. Or wait for the next Ben Stiller movie with bated breath – for there’s an actor who knows himself.