My Favourite Illayaraja Albums

This is a list of my favourite Illayaraja Albums. I have gone with the dates given by Google and/or Wiki.

Thank you Ram Murali and Baradwaj Rangan for weeding out the non-Illayaraja songs from the list.

16 Vayathinilea (Jan 1977) Sattam En Kaiyil (July 1978) Aval Appadithaan (Oct 1978) Pagalil Oru Iravu (1979) Kalyanaraman (Jan 1979)
Uthiri Pookal (Oct 1979) Moodu Pani (Jan 1980) Ullasa Paravaigal(Mar1980) Johnny (Aug 1980) Nilalgal (Nov 1980)
Meendum Gokila (Jan 1981) Raja Paarvai (Apr 1981) Alaigal Oivathillai (Jul 1981) Panneer Pushpangal (Jul 1981) Tik Tik Tik (Nov 1981)
Moondram Pirai (Feb 1982) Payanangal Mudivathillai (Feb 1982) Kaadhal Ooviyam (Apr 1982) Thaai Mookaambikai (Jun 1982) Sakala Kala Vallavan (Aug 1982)
Gopurangal Saivathillai (Oct 1982) Mann Vaasanai (1983) Salangai Oli (Jun 1983) Munthanai-Mudichu (Jul 1983) Naan Paadum Paadal (Apr 1984)
Thambikku Entha Ooru (Apr 1984) Neengal Kettavai (Jun 1984) Vaithegi Kathirunthal (Jun 1984) Kai Kodukkum Kai (Jun 1984) Nallavanuku Nallavan (Oct 1984)
Poove Poochudava (1985) Kakki Sattai (Mar 1985) Naan Sigappu Manithan (April 1985) Uyartha Ullam (Jul 1985) Mudhal Mariyathai (Aug 1985)
Idhaya Koil (Sep 1985) Padikathavan (Nov 1985) Sindu Bairavi (Nov 1985) Maaveeran (1986) Mr. Bharath (Jan 1986)
Vikram (Jan 1986) Amman Kovil Kizhakale (April 1986) Kadalora Kavidhaigal (July 1986) Mouna Raagam (Aug 1986) Mella Thiranthathu Kathavu (Sept 1986)
Punnagai Mannan (Nov 1986) Paadu Nilavea (1987) Poovili Vasalilea (Jan 1987) Rettai Val Kuruvi (Feb 1987) Velaikaran (March 1987)
Enga Ooru Paatukaran (Apr 1987) Nayagan (July 1987) Manathil Uruthi Vendum (Oct 1987) Uzhavan Magan (Oct 1987) Agni Natchathiram (Apr 1988)
Bommukutti Amma (Apr 1988) Paasa Paravaigal (Apr 1988) Jeeva (Jul 1988) Soorasamhaaram (Jul 1988) Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (Aug 1988)
Dharmathin Thalaivan (Sep 1988) Satya (Sep 1988) Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal (1989) Vetri Vizha (1989) Mounam Samatham (Jan 1989)
Varusham 16 (Feb 1989) Rajadhi Raja (Mar 1989) Aboorva Sagotharargal (Apr 1989) Idhayathai Thirudathey (May 1989) Karagatakaran (Jun 1989)
Maapilai (Oct 1989) Panakkaran (Jan 1990) Keladi Kanmani (Jul 1990) Kizhakku Vaasal (Jul 1990) Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu (Jul 1990)
Chatriyan (Oct 1990) Chinna Gounder (1991) Eeramana Rojave (1991) Idhayam (1991) Karpoora Mullai (1991)
Michael Madana Kamarajan (1991) Vanna Vanna Pookkal( (1991) Dharma Durai (Jan 1991) Gopura Vasalile (Mar 1991) Captain Prabakaran (Apr 1991)
Chinna Thambi (Apr 1991) En Rasavin Manasilea (Apr 1991) Thalapathy (Nov 1991) Guna (Nov 1991) Mannan (Jan 1992)
Chinna Thayee (Feb 1992) Chembaruthi (Apr 1992) Chinnavar (Apr 1992) Naadodi Thendral (Apr 1992) Singaravelan (Apr 1992)
Aavarampoo (June 1992) Devar Magan (Oct 1992) Senthamil Paatu (Oct 1992) Chinna Pasanga Naanga (Nov 1992) Aatma (1993)
Mahanadhi (1993) Marubadiyum (Jan 1993) Walter Vetrivel (Jan 1993) Ejamman (Feb 1993) Aranmanai Kili (Apr 1993)
Ponnumani (Apr 1993) Uzhaipali (Jun 1993) Rajakumaran ( Jan 1994) Sethupathy IPS (Jan 1994) Veera (Apr 1994)
Oru oorula oru Rajakumari (Jan 1995) Mogamull (May 1995) Avatharam (Jun 1995) Siraichalai (Apr 1996 ) Kadhalukku Mariyadhai (Dec 1997)
Bharathi (2000) Hey Ram (Feb 2000) Azhagi (Jan 2002) Virumandi (Jan 2004) Neethaane En Ponvasantham (Dec 2012)

The Loosu Ponnu Thesis

A Loosu Ponnu is a stock character that seems to dominate the Indian movie scene. I was of the opinion that the incidence of Loosu Ponnu characters has increased in the past few years but some people claim that our heroines have always been considerably Loosu. Loosu Ponnu literally means “Crazy Girl” but this stock character is always hyperactive and seems to lack the brain cells to make any sane judgments whatsoever.

Let me list a few characters that seem to qualify and then we shall see what unifies them.

Illustrative Examples

Savithri in Kai Koduttha Dheivam

Savithri in Kai Koduttha Dheivam The first example strangely does not glorify the Loosu Ponnu. It is dangerous to be a Loosu Ponnu and that is what the movie seems to highlight. She is described as “Paarvaiyilea Kumariyamma, Pazhakathilea Kuzhanthaiyamma, Aayirathil Orithiamma Nee”* and that is the absolute definition of a Loosu Ponnu. Their mental age is much lower than their real age. The story is as follows. Sivaji Ganesan and SSR are friends. There is a marriage proposal for Sivaji and SSR opposes it with all his might. The big reveal is that the bride Savitri has a reputation as a “Bad Girl”.

This in Indian Culture is euphemism for “Not a Virgin”. “Kicks puppies/kittens” or “Steals jewelry from friends” or “Does not pull strangers out of quicksand” are all acceptable actions in our culture. Not being a virgin or even having had a boyfriend is the greatest sin a woman can commit and this is what our “pure” Loosu Ponnu has a reputation for.

So how did such a pure girl come to have this reputation? Turns out she saw a man (M.R.Radha) attempting suicide. She stops him. He confesses to her that he feels this is a shorter route to die than die of hunger (as that is what he is undergoing at the moment). She offers him some money to have a meal. He glibly talks her into parting with her money every day. She thinks she is saving a life. However, his plan is sinister. He gradually starts taking money with an aura of entitlement. She does not see through it, she is too short-sighted and naïve to see his plan. He ensures that a few gossipy key characters see that she is jumping to his tunes and then one day approaches her with a proposal of marriage. If she does not marry him, he will spoil her Image. She says nobody will believe him as she is a nice person and the world happens to know this. He says (and it turns out he is right) that the world will prefer a dirty lie from a man than the truth from a woman. He proceeds to inform the aforementioned gossipy characters that she is of …mmm… bad character.

The story ends with her being shunned by one and all and finally she dies crying. There is some guff about SSR being her loving doting brother who hates her after her reputation is soiled. (Some brother.) I see this movie as a deconstruction of the Loosu Ponnu trope even before the trope became famous. Isn’t that weird? The movie is about how good sense and knowing what people are like is not optional for a woman, and how having childlike innocence just means you are the easiest picking for the creepiest of people around. And this holds true even if subsequent movies glorify the Loosu Ponnu.

Sridevi in Moondram Pirai

Balu Mahendra wanted to explore the child-woman. So before he proceeded to show her in sickening-sweet-baby-talking-hot-girl character, he gave her an appropriate bump in her head. Sridevi’s character during her sane times is subdued. You can see that in the song Vaanengum Thanga Vinmeengal. Also, this movie is not really a 2.5 hour excuse to make us see Sridevi acting like a baby. There is much more to this movie. However, that is beyond the scope of this post.

But this movie remains a prime example of a story of an elegant woman who is pretty much a child at heart for most of the movie. Also, the scene where she tells him that she was planning to run away from the brothel (while being clueless about what is going to do next or where she is going to go) is an extremely chilling reminder of how vulnerable child-women are to the whims of real adults.

Amala in Agni Natchathiram

I have often doubted whether Amala in Agni Natchathiram does indeed qualify as a Loosu Ponnu. I mean, she sticks a lighted cigarette in her jeans pocket and says things like “Oru Eli, Rendu Eli…Anjali” to introduce herself. Apart from a few niggles, she is alright. No?

I can’t think of an instance where she puts herself or anyone else in danger due to sheer brainlessness. I do not feel she exudes that all important vulnerability. With most Loosu Ponnus, we are not sure if they would have the sense to find their way back home when faced with a “Take Diversion” sign on the road. This cluelessness is missing in Amala.

Genelia in Santhosh Subramaniam

Somehow, Genelia is used as the most common example for this entire trope. Is it because her face seems to suit the character in an exceptional manner? When Genelia (character name: Hasini) wants to have ice cream in the middle of the night, she will summon Jayam Ravi with a mere “Accio Santhosh”, and he stands before her. Genelia believes that if you hit your head against someone else’s head, you must do it once more, else you risk sprouting horns. Hasini is the stuff of legends.

A quote from Baradwaj Rangan’s Review“In Santhosh Subramaniam, Jayam Ravi gets his date with the stunt coordinator when his girlfriend Hasini (Genelia) is harassed at her college by a bunch of rowdy students. Had our hero simply charged at them and reduced them to a heap of bruised bodies, this bit wouldn’t have grated so, but what makes things worse is the subsequent revelation that these supposed bad elements are Hasini’s friends, who didn’t mean anything by their teasing. (This is clearly some kind of college that exists only in the fantasies of horny adolescent males, where it’s entirely appropriate to comment lewdly on the delectable proportions of women-friends’ physical assets.) “

Abithakuchalambal in Sethu

She believes you can make peacock feathers spawn by keeping them inside your notebook. Sethu the college rowdy instantly falls for her. Further explanation unnecessary.

The Prankster Variation

A Loosu Ponnu is different from a prankster even if she shares a few of her characteristics with the clear cut Loosus. The reason I don’t consider a prankster a Loosu-Proper is because they do their daredevilry deliberately.

Usually the story highlights that their family life isn’t all that it should be. Amala in Karpoora Mullai is a bastard child who has lived in hostels all her life. Revathy in Arangetra Velai is actually using a Loosu persona deliberately to con people. Nirosha’s parents in Agni Natcharthiram are divorced. I am not sure about Madhubala in Azhagan. Does she have some issues too?

The Fatal Disease Variation

One day my uncle walked into the room when I was watching a Loosu Ponnu movie. In a couple of minutes he said, “Wow, what positive girlish enthusiasm! I am sure she will kick the bucket by the climax of this story”. I said “WHAT!” and he said that these hyper-excited enthu-cutlets** always had a fatal disease tucked away somewhere. He was right. Nadhiya in Poove Poochoodava is not particularly Loosu and I am pretty sure that it is Revathy he was talking about. Fatal disease movies trended in the late eighties and my memory is not all it should be. Girija of Geethanjali who prances around in the rain when sporting a deadly disease qualifies (IMO).

The Ones Who Are Naïve But Not Loosu

Naivety is not the same as being a Loosu. I don’t think anyone is too confused about this. But I will cite a few examples to clarify my stance.

Suhasini as Arukaani in Gopurangal Saivathillai is a naïve village belle. Some of her actions earn the disgust and wrath of her husband. But his prejudices and beautism (rather than her craziness) are the reasons for him dumping her. Curiously, the naïve village belle character (that is, the Arukaani stereotype) is often used in television soaps and milked for drama. These characters often break all Loosu records previously set by movies. Arukaanis of the television world are known to wash their husbands’ laptops and dry them in the sun; their evil mothers-in-law are known to be able to talk them into this. Go figure.

Meena as Solaiyamma in En Rasavin Manasile looks like a frightened colt and her character is not developed beyond this for most of the movie. Considering that they marry her off to Rajkiran, I am not surprised she is so frightened. She may not be a strong pudhumai penn+ as envisioned by Barathiyaar, but the extent of her naivety is not for show. It is an integral part of the movie.

What about Heera in Thiruda Thiruda? I do not recall much about her character. Does she qualify?

Sridevi in Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari is a celestial being who does not know the ways of mortals. She acts clueless, and you would think she has every reason to act so. This conceit allows us to gape at Sridevi dressed up in the attire of Goddesses every so often, while also looking at her (almost permanent) vacuous, surprised expression. I have to admit that if there is one woman I am fine with being a Loosu, it is Sridevi. It is because she can turn around and look completely reassured and divine the next minute, and only some women can pull that off. The current breed of Loosu Ponnu cannot really achieve this.

My favorite example of Non-Loosu Naivety remains Sridevi as Mayilu in 16 Vayathinilea. She falls for a charming sweet talking doctor (veterinarian?), but she knows better than to let him take advantage of her. She is a naïve teenager who grows into a wise woman. It may seem that the movie punishes her for her initial choice, though that is just one way to look at this. It also explores the desire in a young teenaged girl.

Ditto Pagalil Oru Iravu. But, mmmmm, she just met the guy.

Examples From English Novels And Sitcoms

Please feel free to include examples from all languages and mediums. I shall stick to what I know.
The standard Mills and Boon heroine is not an intelligent creature. We will discuss these wonderful creatures and the men they choose as their soul mates in detail, sometime in the future in a separate thread. But there are two very important Loosus in the idealized girl romance genre. Surprisingly, they are not from the Mills and Boon or Harlequin Romance novels. They are Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele.

I have not read either book as I get short of breath with all the anger that is generated within me when I do try. These two women do not like to think sensibly, and any topic other than “the guy” is off-limits to them. I cannot describe just how annoying this is. Let us leave this here, shall we? Thanks.

Wodehouse uses more than a fair share of Loosus of both sexes and all age groups. You can sit and marvel at every Loosu he throws our way. We all know why Madeline Bassett walks away with the honors. She believes that (1) Stars are God’s daisy chains, (2) Rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the fairy queen, and (3) Every time a fairy blows its wee nose, a baby is born.

Are Luna Lovegood and Professor Trelawney of Potterverse not Loosus? They believe several strange things that Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonagall have no patience for.

Two and a Half Men is an excuse to show different types of women and how Charlie Harper gets to have …mm… relationships with pretty much all of them. Most All of them are Loosus. But the ones to come out on top are Rose and Kandi. American sitcoms are a veritable mine of Loosu Ponnus. As sitcoms are essentially about crazy people, this observation doesn’t surprise me. The men and children are no different in how crazy they are. I choose not to list all the Loosus I have seen. Moving on.

So Why Are So Many Of Our Heroines Loosu?

I can’t say for sure. But here are a few things that I have been thinking about.

Is gender reversal possible?

Are Loosu Ponnus similar to the Chinna Thambi type simpletons where the man is of a similar disposition? I think both Prabhu and Karthik have had their share of simpleton characters. Kamal’s Chappani character in 16 Vayathinilea qualifies too. However, please note the following:

  1. The men are not growing progressively Loosu with each passing movie.
  2. The number of movies featuring this kind of man had a slight increase after the success of Chinna Thambi and Kilakku Vaasal, but dwindled after a short period of time (or as we like to say these days, they weren’t trending for long).
  3. Have you heard of women going ga-ga over characters who are a variants of Mr.Bean? These simpleton movies may work because of a few reasons. I do not think women find these men inherently sexy.

Are men really that attracted to insanity?

Doesn’t the very thought depress you? As far as the men I know personally go, not even a single one has admitted to liking a Loosu Ponnu over a sane woman. But they often soften visibly when it comes to women making crazy decisions. I can see that they feel protective about the woman. Are men lying? Nope. Men do not lie to us when they say they like/warm up to one type of woman. This is largely unconscious. But this phenomenon exists (and persists). Here are a few more points to think over:

  1. Not all men are attracted to the same type of women. There are few men who are just as irritated about this trend as most women are.
  2. Why should any man be attracted to only one sort of woman? Isn’t this question more suited to a multiple choice format? Well, yes, I agree. However, with the exception of GVM, no hero and/or director is making his heroinesprogressively more elegant. Not many directors apart from KB portrayed their heroines as self-sufficient. The presence of such a large number of Loosu Ponnus in so many different flavours shows us that many men are attracted to such women.
  3. We are talking about emotional intelligence only and not I.Q, and definitely not about high educational qualifications that a woman may have. Let us refrain from conflating the two…for now.
  4. There are some women who consciously channel their inner child to tap into this potential. I tend to feel they are making a HUGE mistake. Men warm up only to cute, young Loosu Ponnus. As they grow older, real women whodo this consciously get a rude shock. With each passing year, the effect of their carefully cultivated charm seems to fail. I have seen the look on some men’s faces when they see middle aged women indulging in baby-speak.
  5. I have met more than a reasonable share of Loosu Ponnus, but I do not want to bring too many personal anecdotes into the fray. Suffice to say I am not a fan of the trope.
  6. Now, why would any man tell me to my face that he prefers child-like women? He must be able to see I am not a fan of this trait and would naturally play along with me. So men not admitting in my little private interviews is not apoint for or against the desirability of such women anyway.
  7. Moe and Dojikko are a few cross cultural examples to prove that this trope reigns in Japaneseculture too.

The science behind this

Since I do not want to bore you too much with the science behind this, let me highlight a few points.

  1. There is a concept termed neoteny in evolutionary science. This means that humans possess the look and certain characteristics of baby apes. The baby ape looks morehumanlike in the above picture, though the reverse is actually true. Humans are more baby-ape-like.
  2. We also have a longer childhood than most mammals. Other mammals spend about 10% of their lives as eager-to-learn young ones. We spend close to one-third of our lives just learning to be adults. This is because our brainhas that much to learn. Our brains retain a certain plasticity for longer. This is an important in order to ensure a constant learning curve. Neoteny has been our species’ ticket to fame. Even after about 21 years, some characteristics continue. Humans never outgrow the juvenile ape stage. Our skin remains relatively hairless.
  3. Women are even more neotenous than men. (This may not mean that the learning curve of women is in any way better than men, but what do I know? Haha.) When the male and female of any species are quite different from each other, sexual dimorphism is at play, this is very pronounced in birds like peacocks.Heightened neoteny is noticed in the female of our species. Secondary sexual characteristics like smoother babyish skin, a voice that is more similar to teenaged boys than grown men. This means that there has been a significant selection pressure during human evolution that made men prize juvenile characteristics in the women they chose to mate with. Sexual dimorphism in physical characteristics may have spilled over to behavioral characteristics, and selection pressure might have been significant here too.

KEY:

*Paarvaiyilea Kumariyamma, Pazhakathilea Kuzhanthaiyamma, Aayirathil Orithiamma Nee: A woman to look at/ A child to play with/ You, lady, are one in a thousand

**Enthu-cutlet: Hyper active/ overly enthusiastic (slang)

+Pudhumai penn: New age woman

Edited by Anu Srini

 

Thanga Magan – Review

Dear Hema DeSouza,

I did not quite get what sort of person you are in this movie Thanga Magan. A guy seems to stalk you in the local temple and when he asks your name in the marketplace, you seemed to be pissed. I feel the same about stalking.

Many men think that saying, “I have often seen you in the local bus stop” suddenly entitles them to ask your personal details and suddenly “be your friend”. I did not like the way you said “En pinala every week ethana per suthuraanga theriyuma?” But overall, the point is right. You can’t go around being the girl friend of every guy who wants to be your boyfriend. Sometimes the answer is a “No”.

Sometimes the answer can be a “Yes”, I know that. Sometimes the answer can be a “Maybe”, after all we can’t decide this in a day. But did that guy saying“Ivalo azhagana ponnukku thimiru iruntha thappu illa”impress you so much? As far as pick-up lines go, it is a definite dud. But to each her own as they say.

But here is the thing. You go to a discotheque with your best friend and a couple of guys. I assume you know the guys well? Ok. Your stalker has stalked you till this night club. He is staring at you. You yourself phrase it as “Kannu Edukaama Paakura“. So it is only nautral that your male friend confronts the stalker, right? You suddenly claim the stalker is your friend? If he had been a friend, he would have come and greeted you and introduced himself to your male friends too. That is what guys who are worth their salt do.

And then, you see what happens with your own eyes. The policeman stops your male companion for driving under the influence. Your stalker walks up to the policeman who seems to be in first name basis with the stalker.  The stalker is also under the influence. He says something to the policeman. The policeman seems to retain your male companions. Your stalker gives you a lift. You abandon your male companions and your best friend and straddle the bike without a second thought. If your male companions are taken to the lock up or something, your best friend is at the mercy of another confirmed stalker. W.T.F.

You drink orance juice in the club but ask your friend (No point in calling him a stalker any longer) to buy you drinks? Maybe you think drinking in nightclubs is riskier? You would have had a better choice of drinks in the nightclub. Whatever. Your Choice. Your way of proposing to the guy was a bit of an eye-roll for me. But let is agree to disagree. The places you two made out seemed to make suspension of disbelief almost impossible. People do make out in cinema theatres or so I have heard. But it would have been more sensible if you got a room. I know you are young and wanted to scratch the itch. But did you and your BF ever talk?

But the first time you tried to talk did not sit well with the dude, did it? I felt so sorry for you. I felt sorry for him too. He really was bewildered when you after disagreeing to live with his parents, agreed to live with Aravind’s mom. You really should have explained your stance better. I have attached a letter of what you should/could have told him. I also believe that you should have told Aravind yourself that you used to be Thamizh’s girl.  Anyway, your ship seems to have sailed even before you ever had a chance. But that is life. Life is more than just marriage. I wish you the very best in life. I also wish that you start getting along with your husband.

With Love,

Rahini D

 

~~~~~

 

Dear Thamizh,

We had a bad break up and we never talked much after that. Now I find that I am marrying your first cousin. Not only am I am going to marry him, I am going to live with him in the house he currently lives. If you remember, we had a huge row after I said my dream was to have a nuclear family. In fact, I remember that you could never warm up to me after that incident. I was always eyed with suspicion after that and the negative vibes soon broke our relationship to pieces.

I just thought I would explain my stance. My mother and my paternal grandmother are very different people. You know my parents live in Chennai. My paternal grandparents live in London. My father and I have learnt to be different people in Chennai and different people in London. The rules of housekeeping followed by my Amma and Granny are so different and I am proud of both their housekeeping skills. It is the distance and space that gave both the women

their happiness and their freedom. Each is the queen of her space. Surely, you realised that I was Anglo-Indian before we ever talked right? You also know that my Amma is a brahmin. Surely you understand that living day in an day out with your parents in such a small house would have had its disadvantages? If I lived with you in your house, your parents would have had to have cotton wool in their ears to avoid hearing us making out. It is THAT small a house.

I will be living with Aravind’s Mom. I talked about my desire for nuclear family to my mother. She understands. But she said that as Seetha-Amma is a widow and living alone would be too difficult for her and that it was a spacious house and I would not feel too difficult to have my own personal space. I was willing to relent.

Please don’t think that I am dissing you for having a small house. I am not. I really thought that renting another small house in the neighbourhood would not have been difficult and well within our budget. I had it all chalked out. It would not have inconvenienced your parents much either. They would had each others company and would have enjoyed their old age together. My grandparents did. I am an only child and that is how my parents will live after I get married. That is what all birds do after their chicks fledge. I did not expect an out of the ordinary, cruel thing. I did think it through. If only you had been willing to listen. If only we had a relationship that went beyond making out. If only things had worked out. But they didn’t.

Oh well. I saw the girl you are going to marry. Nice girl. Just your type. All the best.

Regards,

Hema DeSouz

~~~~~

Dear Yamuna Thamizh,

Well, there is no point talking to someone else’s wet dream. But still there is one thing I just had to tell.  Your Anni probably ear marked that cup of coffee for her husband as he wanted extra sugar or something. Do not judge your family members so soon.

In the unlikely event that you do exist. I wish you the very best in life.

With Love,

Rahini D

~~~~~

Dear Radhika Sarathkumar,

You are one terrific actress. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Love and Kisses,

Rahini D

Neethaanea En Ponvasantham – 2

Please read the first part here

The College Days

So they meet in some inter-collegiate meet. He sings a song from Ninaivellam Nithya and she later declares that she was “Galli” from that moment on. It was a sweet touch and all that but I am not good at discussing sweet touches and we shall pass over lightly over them.

So they meet and this time Nithya has grown. Not only has she grown enough to wear pretty green sarees during fashion shows, she also during her elocution competition declares (and I paraphrase) that “If you love someone, a second chance is the best gift you give them and sometimes it is the best gift you can give yourself“. This is not all impressive elocution talk either, she willingly and gracefully hands over her phone number and is open to a reconciliation.

Here Santhanam realises that he was paid a hefty sum to be funny and throws a few one-liners about “intha ponunga ellam”. Let us not waste time over all that. The only thing important thing here is that Varun is willing to sing an Illayaraja song to floor the girl and Nithya is willing to be floored by a song that Varun sings. It is apparently not his voice that does it to her. It is the fact that he bothered to choose a song from Ninaivellam Nithya

Their first date as adults again was great to watch. He begins with an apology and she says bygones can be bygones, the next sentence he asks about Dinesh (the SPL). Nithya is still in contact with him and Varun is still slightly pissed off about it. He wants to show that he has female friends too. “Divya is fine too and I often talk”, he says. But Nithya has contact with Divya too and does not buy the lie for a nanosecond. But she lets it go.

So they start seeing each other and she has a lot of money that she can throw away without showing any account. So she drops him in college every day, considers it “Quality Time” and could not care less about the petrol cost. She pretends to have lost her mobile phone and gives it to him for more talk at night. This is a time when mobile phones were a sign of luxury. Varun needs to go to the toilet to attend her call as he has to share his living space with his brothers. But Nithya has no problem about who spends the money now. She buys him a shirt and dolls him up and gets all dreamy eyed when he wears that shirt. In all this, one thing is apparent. She believes strongly that if there is enough love, money is a non-issue.

The thing about Nithya is that she is ever idealistic. As a child she had idealist notions of her guy friend spending all the time with her, as a teenager about the guy footing the dating bills, and as a young woman of 20 she has idealist notions about her love conquering the financial chasm. She is now so rich that when she plans to tour abroad and Varun jokes that he wants to tag along. Nithya seems to have seriously considered doing so. She says if it wasn’t for her sister, she would have taken Varun along. This is not completely believable. I strongly believe that this is the type of movie in which suspension of disbelief is everything. Nithya is not a girl who is not answerable to her parents at all. She just someone who takes advantage of daddy’s deep pocket.

Varun for his part is no passive recepticle for her affections either, he does take her out, thrown parties and shower her with affection.

There are intimate moments too and they seem mutual and without the usual fuss. It is good to see intimacy in a tamil movie without the resultant pregnancy threat drama. It also exists without any fanservice and titilation. It just is. That is a huge plus in this movie (IMO).

The Main Split

Nithya is an Arts student and Varun is an engineering student and so she finishes undergraduation a year before him. She has only one plan. To keep seeing this dude. Nothing else. She is a go-getter. Now that she has gone and got it, she knows not what to do with him and herself until they reach proper marriageable age. This is where SHE is in life when she goes to tour the world.

Varun’s brother falls for a collegue and the parents go to formally met the girl and her parents only to have their middle-class status thrown at their face. And something clear and distinct changes in Varun. He wants to become rich and earn back the self respect his parents deserve. These things happening in a close but low-key family is well written. The father is loving but is no great achiever and the brother had struggled for years to find a job. Even in this current job, he does not seem to have great scope of improvement. So if the family is to rise above middle class existence then it would be because of Varun and he is suddenly painfully aware of it. This is where HE is in life when she comes back after the world tour.

Things happen all of a sudden. She is back and he is not excited enough, he does not spend time with her, he refuses to drive her brand new car. The little things are shown so beautifully. In fact, he car now seems to annoy him. He asks how he can drive what is her car? That it is not right.

This part is my most favourite part of the movie. It is actually Varun who breaks up with Nithya. He is probably thinking that Nithya’s dad is even more likely to hurt his parents then that other girl’s dad. He is probably thinking that having a girl friend is likely to slow him down. Whatever he thinks, he breaks up silently. He withdraws affection, attenion, time spent with her etc. He does it in such a way that she finally loses her cool and breaks up with him. Verbally. The thing is, I have seen these passive-aggressive breakups happen around me. It is what cowards do. Just be unavailable, let the relationship take its downward spiral and then sing soup songs.

And Nithya isn’t without her issues either. In her over-enthu romancing, she is now only a shadow of her previous self. This girl who used to top the class in academics and co-curriculars is now a nobody who wants to accompany her BF to Kozhikode and do something when her boyfriend is in college. I believe that even without Varun’s sudden ambitions, Nithya’s total lack of life beyond Varun would have driven the relationship to saturation point.

There was also a lot attention of detail, like Varun using a condescending tone when encouraging Nithya to find a career and she shooting back that she was the class-topper, remember? A small detail that presented itself to me during second viewing is that Varun asks Nithya that if she is sooo surprised that he is leaving Chennai to pursue his education, then did she expect him to fail? She says no, she expected him to pass but did not really think of the next step. But maybe Varun has a slight low-esteem about Nithya getting higher marks than him too.

But whatever is the case, Nithya breaks up the relationship again. But as I said before, I feel that passive-aggressive Varun already did it in his own way, Nitya just does the honours.

To be continued. ..

Neethaanea En Ponvasantham – 1

NEPV is a rather unique movie IMO, but loads of people see it otherwise. When I told a friend that I was going to write about NEPV as it was a favorite, his amusing response was “If you look closely it is just like GVM’s older movies. He just altered a few things here and there and gave”. He might as well have told “If you notice REALLY closely, apples are very often red” 😀 But then again, in all probability he wanted to be as polite as possible and this is the most polite response he could muster for I have heard that the movie gives most people a throbbing headache.

We often see movies about a super-rich woman and a normal middle class man. It is almost a cliché. Taking a whole list of examples can be done sometime later but  Aayirathil Oruvan (MGR is a slave, JJ is a princess) or  Kadhalan (Prabu Deva’s dad is a police constable and Nagma’s dad is the governor of TN) are a few examples. But most of these movies do not actually deal with what exactly happens in a romance where the people are in two different classes financially. Sure, Kadhal deals with how the parents of the girl can track down the couple who have eloped and Abborva Sagodharargalhumorously deals with how Goutami mistakes a mechanic as a person with too many foreign cars and VIP deals with Prabhu Deva cheating Simran and feeling guilty as he does so. But for the most part these are cinematic situations. Of course,Kadhal is a true story. But even then, it is not about the conflict between the couple themselves that causes all the trouble but external forces with give the trouble.  Naan Admai Illai is a movie that does deal with the internal conflict but even here Rajni and Sridevi do get along well after falling in love. It is Sridevi’s parents that give all the trouble. NEPV is rather different. This is a movie that exploits a common scenario and shows how two perfectly normal people can face turmoil in their relationship if one of them has normal middle class money problems and the other one does not even understand that money can create problems.

Let us see the different conflicts they face and often it is based on the financial realities of the two families in strict chronological order. I will admit at the onset that many will consider this “over-analyzing”. But then again, there is a certain kick in over-analyzing that only other over-analyzers can understand 😀

Childhood

The Childhood section of NEPV is mercifully short. They are neighbors who bump into each other and then start being playmates. They enjoy the time spent together and he visits her at her place at times. He even lunches there at times. Soon he starts to prefer Cricket and she is mighty offended. I believe there should not be too many “moments” in the childhood phase and it should seem natural. It does.

One thing I like about this section is that she goes to her father with her troubles and cries her heart out. This is a subtle scene that shows that she is daddy’s girl. He is not an absent father who does not connect with this daughter, yet. He soon will be as they become richer as we shall see.

At this point, she (and her family) may be richer than Varun. But the difference is not too high. It soon is and they move to a posher neighborhood.

Tenth Standard Tuitions

I like it that the next stop is a tuition center. Teenagers from reasonably different backgrounds may meet in tuition centers, so rich school girls and middle class school boys of the same age can meet in this scenario. It feels natural.

What also feels natural is the way these girls act around a “Cute” guy. They talk about him, they giggle, they conspire to walk down the aisle (under the pretext that they left the Physics book in the car) just to take one more quick look at him, they argue with their friends on his behalf (“You’ve known me for 4 years, you don’t know him at all but you are on his side just because he is cute?”), they get all excited about him. Typical Girl Talk. Not many movies get girl-talk right. This one does.

I am not a fan of Nithya’s overreaction to seeing Varun again. She gets all teary-eyed and all that. I could not empathize with her here at all. But that is a minor point.  There is a scene here in which a girl says “Ok Fine, he isn’t the type of guy who buys you coffee”, She replies “He is the type of guy who’d make you buy coffee”. What does this mean? They were just 8 years old when their friendship began. Does this mean that she was already getting pocket money from her parents and was in the position to buy and share stuff with him and that she was already offended that he never reciprocated? Or maybe she was just being a little mean with no reason at all. We can’t know for sure. But that is who real relationships and real conversations are like. You’d never know for sure.

But soon they start talking. Here is a small scene that explains why they are in talking terms again. It is implied that he tried to show her his answer sheet in some test (without being asked to) and gets caught. He tells the invigilator that he was asking for the answer from her *. He apologizes for the trouble and for the childhood slight too. She forgives with a smile and all is well.

He offers to buys her Tea. She goes and tells her friends excitedly, “He is buying”. Yes, it does seem at this point that it is very important to Nithya (at this point) that Varun buy her simple things like Tea. She orders some samosa too. He is concerned about his pocket money. But she immediately offers to pay for it. “I ordered, I will pay”. It now appears that Nithya does not want Varun to pay. She only wants him to want to pay. She seems a sweet girl with idealised notions about men footing the bills. But already “Money” has started to rear its ugly head.

This is even more apparent in the scene in which Varun is excited and happy about going to Yercaud and shocked that she is cool about going to Australia. His parents have a lifetime ambition to go to Singapore and she is going to Australia for the 2 months between 10th std and 11th std.  He is now acutely aware about Nithya being out of his league (in certain ways)

11th and 12th

Varun joins the upscale school that Nithya attends for his 11th and 12th. They totally enjoy each other’s presence and the relationship actually has a start at this time. This is the time were the real problems and insecurities start. Nithya is made the Head Girl and Varun is disappointed. He is not just disappointed, he is visibly disappointed. Nithya bothers to ask the Princi why this is so. The answer is clear, he is a new student and joined the school only in +1 as opposed to other guys who have been in the school from 6th. This really is how Head Boys and Head Girls are decided in schools. So again, it rings true. But Varun fumes and says that it is meant for Show-offs. I liked Nithya’s reaction here. She asks why he cannot even pretend to be happy about her success. It totally sucks when someone you hold close to your heart refuses to be happy about a huge success in your life. If the tables are turned, it is easy to see Nithya celebrating the fact that her BF is the Head Boy. This is something that important to love stories, it should be unique to the couple but still all too familiar to the rest of us. This movie nails such small disappointments clearly.

The next fight is bigger. Varun is waiting for Nithya, she is not aware that he is waiting for her. She is doing some stage decoration with the Head Boy and a few other volunteers. Varun comes and throws his weight about. He accuses of having flirted with the Head Boy (avan sollura mokka jokeuku sirikira) and ignoring him. But that is not all. When Dinesh offers to leave the stage area to give them some privacy, Varun says “Nee enna romba decenta? Ava enakkaga veliya varuva”. Nithya points out the problem in the very next line, he had displayed signs that imply that Nithya is Varun’s possession and that obedience is taken for granted especially if some jealousy is visible. At the same time he is asking for two things, “Prove that I am more important than your Head Girl duties”, “Prove in front of the other guy that you obey me implicitly”. He gives her an ultimatum. The direction she walks will prove the decision she is taking regarding their relationship. But Nithya is in no mood for such wishy washy symbolic breakup. She walks up to him and breaks up the relationship to his face, “Ithu avalothaan”. Of all the heroines GVM ever introduced, Nitya is the clearly the most admirable (based on what I choose to admire in women, of course)

 to be continued…

One tight slap – that is all it takes

More than a couple of folks have requested me to write about ‘Veiled BDSM in Tamil Movies’. Let me say that I want to just call it good old slapping for in most Tamil movies it does not go way beyond this. What was really obvious is that I don’t remember much. So it isn’t going to be all as comprehensive as a TVTropes list. But then, TVTropes Lists are what they are as they have multiple contributors. So please feel free to pitch in your own examples and make the examples grow.

The Grade A Slap: This is the most romantic of slaps. Man slaps woman, she laughs, he laughs, song, dance. I believe Barathiraja movies had a significant set of these instances. However, memory escapes me. Help.

The Grade B Slap: This does not make her fall for him immediately. She broods. Significantly on how manly he is. Goes all out to marry him. Example 1: Mannan Example 2: I feel Amman Koil Kizhakalea where Vijaykanth ties a Thaali around Radha’s neck is a very similar scenario. Somehow I feel it qualifies. Example 3: Whipping in Maaveeran.

The Grade C Slap: This slap is delivered by an older actor to his wife. It is implied that he should have done this long back.

Example 1: Manathil Uruthi Vendum. Suhasini meets the parents of the groom (the swarasyamaana writer dude). The mother (in law) seems strict but positive about her son marrying a divorcee. The father (in law) does not seem to give two hoots about it anyway. Suhasini donates a kidney to her Ex and the lady wants to call the whole thing off. Cue, one tight slap from her husband to put her in her place. All is well.

Example 2: No idea about the movies name, however I remember it to be a Visu (or Visu type) movie. The woman is a tyrant and keeps torturing everyone around. At the last scene after all hell had broken loose she tells her husband this. “It is all your fault. I did fault #1, appovea chappunu oru arai, would I have continued? I did fault #2, appovea chappunu oru arai, would I have continued? I did fault #3, appovea chappunu oru arai, would I have continued? You never hit me. Now tell me whose fault is it?” At the end of which he obligingly renders the “Chappunu oru arai”.

TV Tropes just aces with the following very interesting Articles.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapePortrayedAsRedemption http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RomanticizedAbuse http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MillsAndBoonProse (This is not related to BDSM. But you really have to read Dave Barry’s Parody version given in the Literature section 😉 )

Un Samayal Araiyil

This movie is a love story between Prakash Raj who is in his mid 40s and Sneha who is in her mid 30s. What should have been a simple heartfelt romance was destroyed in the second half by a comedy of errors involving a younger boy and girl who are in their early 20s.

Synopsis

Prakash Raj is constantly cajoled to get married by his colleague(Aishwarya), his friend (Elango Kumaravel) and his cook (Thambi Ramaiah). All three of them appear to be unattached past their prime too. On Sneha’s side we see Urvashi who runs a Beauty Parlour and an effeminate boy who works at the Beauty Parlour. Urvashi’s husband lives in Dubai. A wrongly number situation introduces Sneha and Prakash Raj to each other and they start with a fight but eventually find loads of common ground to share.

But when it is time for each other to meet, they send a younger person each.  Sneha sends a 21 year old roommate and Prakash Raj sends his nephew who is also about that age. The two introduce themselves with Sneha’s and Prakash Raj’s name and so a huge confusion ensues.

My Own Thoughts

1) On both sides, people keep asking them to settle down. But as I mentioned, Elango Kumaravel, Thambi Ramaiah, Aiswarya and the boy who works in the Beauty Parlour are all unattached people too. It appears that we need to bother only about Prakash Raj being unmarried and not about Thambi Ramaiah who seems unmarried. This is apparently because Prakash Raj is the hero of the story. This happens in all movies, of course. We are told that we are to be concerned about Rajinikanth’s love life and not about Janakaraj’s love life and we obediantly do just that. This is an age old tradition. But in this movie it seems very out of place. It is because the movie’s theme itself the love life of the very ordinary uncle next door. So we look at all the ordinary uncles the story introduces to us.

2) Sneha’s life is even more pathetic. Not a single sentence is ever uttered by her friends without bringing her age or marital status into the topic. But why do they keep talking about the importance of a woman being married in front of an effeminate boy? Does any one consider him a man with feelings at all? Does his marital status and the fact that effeminate boys in India have it real rough matter to these people at all? And it is movies like this that are applauded for bringing in LGBT people into the story as real people with feeings. It is one thing that nobody teases or abuses him. But everyone implies that marriage is the highest form of existence. He himself admits that being alone forever is very difficult. The whole thing has not been thought through. It was insensitive.

3) Apart from this, Urvashi does not talk a single sentence about her husband who lives in Dubai. How long has he been there? When are they going to be together again? What are their plans? What is the level of intimacy is this long distance relationship? Does Urvashi love her husband? Nothing matters. She is a married woman as she once had a wedding day. That is all that matters. She is not even shown making a single phone call to her husband (in this world of Skype). Contrast this with Malgova Maami in Kalki and her husband who was in Jail. I guess we need a separate post to discuss that very interesting man who was so present in the movie inspite of being so absent. But then again we are not supposed to be worried unduly about Urvashi or Aishwarya whose marital status is not discussed at all. The story commands us to be bothered only about Sneha. She is the only one who matters here.

4) Sneha’s sensitivity to sentences like “You are still beautiful” is quite understandable. Many women have such problems of doubts regarding their looks but if the movie really wants sympathy then we need a woman with understandably real issues in looks. How about choosing a dark or fat actress to play the part? The movie starts with Sneha’s interest in Dosais so the movie would have worked wonderfully well with a plumb cute 30s-40s actress. Perhaps Kushboo. Even Aishwarya who is very much a part of the cast would have worked well. Urvashi would have too. But they need to cast ultra glamourous Sneha to play the part. Sneha will gets 100s of proposals if she updated TamilMatrimony.com. I could not sympathise with the movie at all.

5) The younger couple were a damn waste of time. They could have spent more time in points 1 to 4 and also more on cooking, eating in restaurants, cookery shows etc. Moreover such confusions need masters like Crazy Mohan to do it credit. Again the movie aparently had cold feet about showing non-glamourous people all the time and shows two pretty faces as if giving icecream. If I wanted to watch a pretty face movie, I would have chosen a Tammanah movie in the first place. Right?