Tamil Movies

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.


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?

K Balachander, Tamil Movies

The Dancer and her Muse

Consider the following story.

A beautiful lady has had deep passionate interest in dance right from when she began walking. She is about 30 year old and has been married to a sweet compassionate man(aged 35) for the past 8 years. Theirs was an arranged marriage. He is a Chartered Accountant and not somebody who is really into the Arts.  He has a knack for the culinary skills, especially exotic milk sweets. He indulges in it as a weekend hobby. Our heroine does not relish his dishes for weight maintenance reasons.

She is a sort of pedant when it comes to the dances and is mostly into the Indian Classical Dances. You can also say that she is quite partial to Barathanatyam. Her skill in her chosen art is positively legendary. Enter an energetic dude who is about 28 years and is a dance teacher in an elementary school.  He challenges her pedantic outlook and argues about the story telling and fluidity that is available in Ballet and the richness of folk dances across the globe. He convinces her that she can grow in her own skill by learning a bit more of the European Dance forms. She admires him for he is so well-learned that he can have any extent of fame, and that he only wants to teach children and be be taught by children. She also begins to admire him physically as he is a dancer and very much in shape.  Soon she gets obsessed with him and finally admits his feelings for him. An affair ensues.

Now Question Time. How much do you think that the three parties of this story be blamed for this affair? Woman vs Husband vs Lover, whose fault is it?

I think it is a fairly straightforward story. The fault should be placed predominantly on the woman and to a lesser extent on the loverboy. But what about the husband? Is he to be blamed too? I am sure that the very idea sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? But this is what happens when the tables are turned. This story is (if you have not guessed it already) the ulta of Sindhu Bairavi.  The dancer is JKB, the Chartered Accountant Husband is Bairavi and the Dance Teacher is Sindhu.  The truth is, people do place a certain extent of blame on Bairavi for not satisfying JKB’s intellectual needs(whatever that may be).  Ok, it may not be as much as we blame Sindhu herself, but a little.  You can think of other stories like Chinna Veedu or Sathi Leelavathy too were the weight-problems of the Wife is seen as the reason why the Husband strays.

My question is basically this. How much of this blame throwing comes from the movie/story/director and how much from the prejudices of the audience themselves? How much of what you see in a movie is actually coming from us, rather than from the screen?

K Balachander, Tamil Movies

K Balachander Movies

I guess I have seen only a few of his movies but they are enough to convince that he was a wonderful director. A few of things that I have often noticed in his movies and only in his movies.

1) He took the high-brow stuff to the middle-brow audience. In “Unnal mudiyum Thambi”, Gemini accuses Kamal of using “Asutha Dhanyasi” for singing to the labourers. But KB did that repeatedly too. He introduced Carnatic Music and made it look less intimidating to the rest of us. Surely the songs that are shown in the sabhas (in Aboorva Raagangal, Sindhu Bairavi or Unnal mudiyum Thambi”) were made easier for an average cine-goer to enjoy, but he also did it without pissing off the real Carnatic people. Rajini’s question to Thengai Srinivasan and the “Enna Samayalo” number also bring out a fun version of this much intimidating art form.

2) The same could be said of the apt use of Bharathiyaar Kavithaigal in his many movies. There is something intimidating about reading poetry, but the use in KB’s movies does a marked service to the audience.

3) KB’s older movies were more about lower middle class and in the 80s and 90s he started to depict the upper middle class too. I think this started around the time he himself had more money than he used to. He neither treated the richer people with contempt in his older movies, nor treated the poorer people as non-entities in his later movies. Like Actress Bama of Bama Vijayam being friendly around the common people next door and the old man who plants plenty of trees in U-M-Thambi. The relationship the domestic help has around their masters is always shown and their personality is always touched upon lightly. For some reason, this is a rare thing in the works of other directors.

4) As an extension of point 3, Sowcar Janaki’s character Meenakshi Doraiswami(MD) is depicted as a socialite. As she herself later says “Enga Party nnu alaiva”. Her quirks like taking a photographer to capture her moments with celebrites are touched upon affectionately but never looked down upon. She is such a loveable personality and surely the only lovable socialite I ever saw in Tamil Cinema. Also, there is a scene where she goes and visits Uma to gift her a saree. Apart from showing that their relationship has gone beyond acting before Thengai Srinivasan and is truly affectionate, it also makes the movie pass the Bechdel Test. Both of them are named characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

5) He also had the habit of never showing certain characters on screen at all. From Irumal Thatha to Malgova Maami’s husband. Such impact these characters have on the story.

6) When he made a mistake, he was willing to acknowledge it. He had the lovers commit sucide in “Ek Duuje Ke Liye’ but started the story of a failed suicide attempt in Punnagai Mannan and argued against suicide as best as he could. Later he made Vaanamea Ellai to analyse the topic more deeply. It was a preachy movie. Still.

I am planning to watch a few more of his movies and know about him better. For what is the use in complaining about popular tamil directors do not do justice to their subject matter, if you do not sit watch the ones who did a terrific job during their time?



Tamil Movies

Mouna Raagam vs Raja Rani

One day when I was watching Mouna Raagam as a teenager, I heard my mother remark “But when Revathy plays all these pranks on her Anna and Anni, she is basically a sad soup girl?” I defended the movie saying that of course a person need not be moping all the time just because they have a personal secret. In fact, it becomes her that she goes on with her life seemingly normal inspite of it all”. But from then on, I actually saw Mouna Raagam a little differently. I removed Karthik’s character from the story in my mind and realised that the story stood very well with out this extra attachment(No offense to Karthik here, really).

So imagine my happiness when I realised that that is how Mani Ratnam intended it in the first place? It was just Revathy’s unwillingness to marry a stranger and face the unknown in the name of tradition. And who can blame her?

I then started having one major problem with the story. This being the fact that Mohan marries her after she expressly informs him of her desire of not wanting to marry him. That is seriously a crappy thing to do. I realise that the story can not happen without this particular flaw. And for this reason I am willing to let it go.

Years went on and then came in Raja Rani. It gained popularity as the “Pudhu Mouna Raagam”. I can not tell you how much this pisses me off for Raja Rani is nothing like MRaagam in what makes it a true classic. Take a few points.

Why do they get married?

Mohan marries Revathy because he truly believes that this girl is the one for him. Her personality seems to contrast against his more sober demeanor and he really digs that. He believes that after a few ackward initial days, they will be fine as a couple. He seems to be happy (initially) to marry this ball of fire. He is a believer.

Yes, Revathy marries Mohan as there is family pressure, father’s health, younger sisters etc etc. But then she also marries him because the guy did not take no for answer. She does warn him that she is not marriage material. She does not bait him deliberately, she gets captured into this trap by her circumstances. She is a sceptic.

Arya and Nayanthara marry each other for good old “I want to change my FB status to ‘married’ and I do not give a damn whose life I will be screwing up in my mission” reasons. They come across as horribly shallow people.

How do they decide to deal with it?

The way Mohan and Revathy decide to deal with the situation is very true to life. She asks for a divorce and it is not just to spite him. She really wants her old life back and she is willing to go for it. She has to remain in the house for the rest of the time and she wants to be polite until the divorce comes through.

He gives her a different room to live in and does not use favours from her like accepting her coffee as he should not get used to her presence. He consiously decides to not be polite to her parents as he believes that it will help her in being accepted back into her old home. They thaw eventually to each other and that is the main part of the story. It is a believable story.

Arya and Nayanthara hate each other from the word go. They do not for a moment think “I married this person for selfish reason. But what is going on in my spouse’s brain?” for one nano-second. They both share a same thought “I hate you for being my spouse”. They sleep on the same bed and there is zero reason why this should be so. There must be a guest room in such a big apartment. One of them can opt for that. When a friend asks about the prossibility of a divorce, Nayan says that she will never contemplate that as it might kill her father. But if she continues to pull a long face with Arya all the time, then it is equalent of begging for a divorce, right? Neither of them have personalities that have been thought through.

Why do they fall in love?

Mohan falls for her personality that is so in contast to his own, the way she is lively and daring in her own girlish way. Revathy falls for him as she sees his calmness in dealing with the problem, the way he accepts her decision stoically and without blame throwing and for considering small long term implications like deliberately being rude to her father and taking the blame of divorce on himself.

Both Nayan and Arya decide they have fallen in love with the spouse just because the other person used to have a BF/GF. Is that not lame?

Arya already knew that she was in love with someone as she used the other name in the marriage vows.  Why did he act as if he was glad about that? Does that mean he wanted the wedding to be called off? Will his parents not find another bride then? What is the point, really?

If you liked this movie can you explain why?