Monday, January 29, 2007

A & E

It was sheer coincidence that I saw two movies which had only one letter as their titles.
The first one was Thamizh movie 'E' and the second one was a kannada movie 'A'.
Another coincidence was that both were kind of raw movies. They packed strong punches, sacrificing some aesthetic framemaking appeal or glossy packaging. Both gave a damn about songs or dances, sticking to basics of story telling and highlighting issues. And when it came to asking difficult questions and providing in your face answers, there was no holds barred. 'A' is an older movie made by a maverick(really) maker which many viewers might reject outright, 'E' has some light compromises(couple of mindless songs) to lure some lay viewers into its story web. Similarities highlighted, lets dive into my recollections of both movies. It is not a review. I am not going to say what I didn't like. I will be only highlighting what you may like in these movies. This has largely been my reviewing style as I find something interesting in even the most cliched and stereotyped movies. However it is my duty to say that both these movies are neither cliched nor do they have any stereotypical characters in them. They are quite different from normal(read run of the mill) movies. All I am attempting is to say how. That is not to say that you will like these movies that way I did.

E is the second movie of S.P.Jananathan whose first film "Eyarkai" had won the national award for being the best film in Thamizh in the year 2003. The earler movie told a love story in an eternally transient harbour. The lack of permanence reflected beautifully in the characters and even in the film's climax which was one of the best from Thamizh film industry. In subsequent interviews one got a glimpse of the man behind the director. A communist who studied cinema under the tutelage of B.Lenin, the legendary editor of Thamizh cinema, known well for his boldness in being outspoken apart from his festival rocking short films and parallel movies.
In 'E', he uses a commercial action film format to convey some of his ideals. Interestingly, he uses a character who has no morals or attachments to convey a strong theme of rampant commercialization of medicine field. He highlights hitherto unheard of issues in Thamizh cinema like "Bio war" and "Unethical use of illiterate slum dwellers for dangerous medical research". He has taken utmost care to not let high shounding theme get into a boring communist diatribe against a choicelessly capitalist society. First clever thing he does is to bring in young, energetic and extremely casual Jeeva to play 'E' the villain who turns into a super hero in the crusade against "money hungry" and corrupt medical practicioners(coz it would be a sin to call them as Doctors). I wouldn't like to expose the story too much as it is told with a very intelligent screenplay, clever script , very good art direction and very very hard hitting dialogues and pretty indicting charecterisations. The corrupt sub inspector charecter and the pimp are too raw for anyone to handle. The beautiful(yet regrettable) aspect is that these characters are shown as is. One subtle and highlight scene is when a crime branch inspector barges into the posh house of the corrupt and murderous medical practicioner, he finds that the Sub Inspector knows the ins and outs of the house much better- hinting that the SI has been a regular visitor there. No character is wasted(not even Nayanthara as the failed lover of 'E' or the old lady who takes pity on younger 'e' ). Jeeva as 'E' has got the role of lifetime and has made full use of it. He is a delight to observe and so is Pasupathi as 'Nellai' mani, a revolutionary(or terrorist?), who makes 'E' see the reason for living a life of fight against 'Laaba veri'(profit hungry? no, profit affected) educated people who give a damn for manipulating the illiterate masses (Somewhere I feel that this movie is a study in contrast against the much acclaimed Guru from Mani Ratnam). The film is more effective with the character of Tony essayed effortlessly by Karunas (improving with each film - he made a good impact in Devadhayai Kandaen). Nayanthara is also very effective with a good voice over job done by Saveetha. Last but not the least, Ashish Vidhyarthi in another villain role is very effective, however one hopes that he would voice his own lines in Thamizh one day. All technical efforts are impressive (special mention about Ekambaram for his behind the lens work and Art director for bringing to life a Cheri). Even small characters are well written, like the sister in law of nayanthara, seth who gets cheated by 'E', old lady who has a soft side for 'E', 'Beeda' Ravi who is the local dada, outsourcing some small work to 'E'. and the police constable who has a close contact with petty criminals. The final scenes where police and rival groups fight for a 'dead' body and the police station scenes are really hard hitting. In fact this movie is a real hard hitting one with Nayanthara also getting a couple of punches. There are few things that could have been done better.
  • single dimensional villain character is a pity considering how richly even the smallest characters have been written.
  • Graphics to show some medical concepts could have been done a shade better.
  • Even the lab of the evil doctor - done all in graphics could have been done better.

These small could have beens apart, the movie is a good one, thorughly enjoyable. With this movie, S.P.Jananathan has well and truly arrived in thamizh cinema scene with a mission. The movie's screenplay and editing is marvellous. Even small things have been properly taken care and the way one scene wafts into other with decent pace is a good indicator of the time, effort and thought that has gone into this section of the movie.

If you want me to spare all this detail and tell in 3 words, I would say "Dont Miss it".


'A' is a film made by the maverick Upendra. It was released a decade back and was a rage among men in Karnataka. In a strictly "men only" movie, Upendra has simply put gone crazy with the scenes songs and screenplay and off course a little mad with his acting as well. Still the movie is a fun to watch for its intensity and raw nature.

The film opens with a mad man escaping an asylum and going to a temple. He holds a gun in his hand and casually dethrones Ganesha and drops the idol in the temple well. He then sits in Ganesha's place and asks the poojari to perform pooja to him. That done hse goes about his mission of eliminating wrong people and giving comfort to good, poor people. He says "I am God and God is great" and goes on a shooting spree. However all of this is actually an incomplete movie titled 'A'. The rest of the actual movie is on how the movie is made completely by the hero cum director who is halted in the process by the heroine cum vamp(?) who turns out the other way around in the end(?). Confused? well see the movie for yourself to know what happens in the end and who is who.

Only assurance in the film is that it gets really straight forward when it comes to dialogues or making statements on things like love or chastity. That way it was ruthlessly true. One stand out scene is where the Upendra walks talking to himself in a drunken stupor as to how great indian culture, heritage, soil and intellect is, when he is interrupted by the sight of some goons chasing a young girl and he completes it with the dialogue " India is great, but Indians are not great" . A very true statement indeed.

There is nothing much to rave about the technical aspects or other things. One stand out thing is the movie in its totality and probably that says something. The heroine (or the vamp?) chandni has acted well, while Upendra as the actor cum director, probably essaying himself is really enjoyable. It is not great acting, but still enjoyably thoroughly. As far as songs go, I went bonkers at SPB energetically singing "Maari kannu hoori myaage".

As I said in the outset, women will not like the movie as the hero is not good looking and women are not shown in particularly good light. This movie might well be mistaken for a misogynist's commentary on love, women and society. The screenplay goes from point x to point y, from movie to movie within movie in an energetic and intelligent manner (Intelligent within the borders of modiocrity that mark acting and camera work).

All said and done, I will take this "Raw" film on a sunday afternoon. Again "Dont miss it" if you are a man(;-))))


Blogger Sridhar(mutRupuLLi) said...

Upendra is a pretty crazy guy....I have not seem A...but isn't he the guy who made movies titled..Z, H2O.....etc.....
Is he any good...somehow he has never inspired me to go and see his movies....
BTW somehow from wha you have written about A, I think Satyaraj's Adavadi is remake of this movie....i dont' i am guessing...there was some problem with Ganesha statue regards this movie....Any ideas?

10:36 AM  
Blogger V.P.Jaiganesh said...

hi sridhar,
Uppi is not a great actor, but a whacky director. He is not a great director, but someone who wants to film some fringe thoughts and ideas which other directors would avoid. His films are crass in their visual appeal and watching segments might convince you that the film or the director or both are no good. However if you watch it as a whole , something will connect and it would create a guilty appeal in you. This is what I felt after watching A and Sssh. There are million defects in the movie, but I feel that they are deliberately left there to irritate ppl used to seeing flawless, but unorginal scripts. As far as the ganesha controversy goes, no wonder there was controversy as the mad man in the film within film takes ganesha and drops into the temple well and sits in the place where ganesha was sitting. This apart, almost every film of his(directed by him) had one controversial element or the other (Om had real rowdies acting in it, ssh had a reel director acting the role of a real director who regularly used double meaning dialogues and H2O was on cauvery water problem).
Sathyaraj's adavadi is a remake of Upendra, I am told by my driver. It is a story of a Director who has no false pretensions of what love is. I am planning to see Upendra soon. I will write about it once I have seen it.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous shyam said...

man.. u r really jobless :-)

nice blog btw ;)

5:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home