Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slick firearm. Blank cartridge.

Okay let me confess.The main or the only reason for watching this movie was 'pester pressure'. Yes, we watched Thuppaki only on the insistence of a very assertive 4.5 yr old! We were very, very reluctant but finally gave in. What's in a watching a movie over a dull weekend anyway.

The only motivating factor was Murugadoss. We felt it might not be an utter trash movie because it is written and directed by Murugadoss of the Ghajini and 7-am Arivi fame. Rightly so. I think he was the only saving grace of what could have been one of those zillion terrorist movies. Haven't Arjun and Vijaykant nabbed all terrorists already? Well there seem to be lots more left for our heroes to single-handedly handle. What else would they do with all their physical prowess and intelligence?
So you have yet another hero-confronting-a-terrorist movie. But quite a few differences though. a) The very puzzled hero doesn't ask the most popular Tamilian monosyllabic existential question, "Yen? yen?" (why? why?) b) There are no fiery Jehad speeches by the 'terraarist' c) We don't even know which country they belong to. Those who aren't familiar with a and b, please refer to the aforementioned Vijaykant/Arjun movies or even Maniratnam's Roja for a better understanding. And oh, the difference  d) is that we have a totally drool-worthy handler of the terrorists.
Vidyut  Wow Jamwal! Amazingly fit, deadly voice and nice teeth. Move over, the tobacco chewing-stubbled terror chiefs of the past. You have a damn good looking competitor who is vain enough to engage in fist fights with anyone giving his ego the slightest pin prick.

Well, this is a script no hero, established or otherwise could have said 'no' to. An extremely brave and intelligent character. Army captain. A great opportunity to
show-off those 'we love our Indian army' sentiments. Maybe Vijay was too tired after all that emoting he did in Kaavalan and Nanban because he really didn't need to open up that facet here at all. And Murugadoss has done quite a bit of thinking for Vijay. I must say the plot is interesting. The twists and turns are all nice. There is a very broad but fair insight into how the terrorist groups actually work. (Alright, I'm not a stickler for logic, esp in movies). Though nothing is unexpected really, the director manages to get your attention. But we would have loved a little more of tension and suspense. You know...nail biting. I think Ghajini had that. The beauty of such movies is that we all know the hero will meet success ultimately but making us wonder how he will do it, taking us through the tension and even making us pray for his success is a director's biggest challenge.

There are a few moments in this movie that made me go "Oh come on". And let me recall..were there any wow moments for me? Yes, the 'group-game' that the hero plays with his batch mates was very well planned out, extremely fast and definitely an edge-of-the-seat moment. At least in recent times I haven't watched a similar scene in Tamil movies. Good job Muruguadoss!

Now to the rest of the cast. The female lead Kajal Agarwal. Female yes but lead, no. Neither does she lead the story nor even the hero anywhere. She is nothing but a pretty prop with an unusual dubbing voice.

Jayaram, an experienced and talented actor again plays a charcter of no significance but for a few mildly funny moments. When the director could indiscriminately get so many fingers chopped, a few of such extra 6th and 7th fingers could have easily been chopped. I am sure this would have lent more brevity and credibility to the story of an Intelligence officer focused on his mission and duty. But then however much intelligent a director might be, he has his commercial limitations too I guess. But I was really disappointed this time around because I thought Muruguadoss was finally one director/writer who allowed the female charcters to take the story in his action movies further - be it Ghajini or 7-am Arivu. Just as a faint connection, the hero's sister contributes just a little bit in Thuppaki. Perhaps she is the only female character who has any importance in the movie even if it is just a 5 min appearance. Similarly all the other characters are just appendages but its still understandable. Why such a treatment for the female lead, especially when you brag about your ideal woman being bold, sporty and 'modern' (whatever that means). Do I smell double standards here? Our leading lady's only mission is to get kissed by her man and she doesn't succeed even in that (sorry for the spoiler here).

Thank God the friend of the hero was played by Satyan and not Mr. Chatterbox 24x7 Santhanam.

The music. The songs are forgettable, except for the catchy Google-google number. I am not against songs in our movies at all. I think that's what sets our Indian movies apart in the scene of world movies. But aren't our movie makers bold enough to do away with 'heroines' and song and dance routines if they don't contribute to the storyline in anyway? Background score has never been Harris Jayaraj's strength.And when are they going to stop using eerie shrieks every time a terrorist or a bad guy is comes on screen. Rahman started it 20 yrs back in Roja and it has stuck on like the ubiquitous mole on a filmy rowdy's cheek. I look forward to the day when someone, someday  will think of something else. Will Rahman or Yuvan or Ilayaraja please contribute?

I must mention here about the lyrics. While watching the movie, I guessed the Google song lyricist must be Madan Karky. Back home, Google told me it was Karky indeed. But then there are two songs which have deliberately (for the sake of a remake?) used Hindi words liberally. Looks like someone has just picked up Hindi words at random and peppered not one but two songs with such nonsense words. One song has a sardarji sitting somewhere close to Mumbai singing a line like "tootak tootak", "balle balle".
And then after a wee bit of a romantic scene, cut to a hilly place in the north-east and a bunch of girls break into a chorus that says "Lo hogayi teri, lo hogayi teri, wah re wah". Lo hogayi teri can translate into mumbayya hindi as "teri to waat lag gayi"!! (Now don't ask me to translate that one.)
The theme music, though 'inspired' by some good Arabic number, sounded quite okay.

Another seemingly obvious thing in this movie is that it is ready to be remade into Hindi. With so many English and Hindi dialogues mouthed, ahem..is Vijay looking towards the north? Tell, tell?

I know its not fair to just diss a movie in the comfort of one's living room. But then I feel saddened. In my opinion both Murugadoss and Vijay are capable of much more. Here's my little wishlist: Though he has been working only on action-movies, I somehow feel Murugadoss might be good at dishing out something romantic with a dash of comedy. The funny moments are actually sweet, simple and decent in his movies I have seen so far and completely free of the comedy track burden. And then, Vijay. I think he did a much better job in Kaavalan and even Nanban. I know someone has to write something really, really different for him.
Mr Vijay, I am sure you can try flexing those facial muscles for a change. Now that you have really worked on your looks and complexion, it might not be difficult at all. Don't worry about your fans. They will like you either way. I am sure you are as brave in real life as in your movies. Come on take the challenge. I know you have now become an expert at fixing your own broken bones as easily as fixing a rubic cube, yet we would love to watch at least one movie of yours without a single dishum-dishum scene.

PS: The 4.5 yr old whose pestering we succumbed to, slid into a peaceful slumber as soon as all the songs were done and the movie got into a serious mode. Mission accomplished!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I wonder

Ever thought why people say "I DON'T KNOW" when they actually want to say "SORRY. I DON'T AGREE"?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To be(long) or not to be(long)

Courtesy: Google images
A sense of trepidation. Heart beating slightly faster than usual. Questions buzzing in the mind. "Am I over-reacting?" "Am I doing the right thing?" "Will people think I am a snob?" "What difference is it going to make if only I do it?"

But then I always wanted to do it and I did it. No matter what. It might not be a big thing for others but it was a big move for me.


I have always been against the concept of fire crackers for the simple reason that they are a huge waste of money. That feeling started get stronger as I started seeing people buy crackers for 1000s of Rupees...5000-10000. At one stage of life I would think "Aha! Imagine the amount of ______ I can buy for this kind of money!" Fill the blank with clothes, music and books depending on whatever phase of life I was in :)
I then moved on to a phase where I started thinking 10000 Rupees is annual income for so many Indians..is it okay to just burn it all up?

The other reason I hated crackers was for all the noise they make. Shake up babies, old people and the
weak-hearted ones like me, break window panes and even shake the room, even if it was for a
nano-second. As such there is so much bombing going on all over the world. Do we really need this too? The more innocent sparklers, flower-pots and the zameen-chakkars are still better.

Then came the case of using child-labour. They say it's all banned now and they just don't use child labour anymore but we don't know for sure.

And now my biggest concern is pollution. Noise pollution and pollution of the atmosphere. Why do we have to add to the existing burden on Earth?

Okay all this might sound fair enough to read and talk about. But let me tell you by my experience. Actually putting this into practice is one hell of a tough one. First you have to deal with yourself. Have the utmost conviction. You will be faced with a lot of questions from within and others as well. Worst is this. "Oh you aren't bursting fire-crackers? Oh my God! But what about the baby? How can you deny her the pleasure?" I then have to explain myself. "The crackers are there. The kiddo is enjoying with the father. Its just me who's decided to stay away." "C'mon, what difference is it going to make? Don't deny yourself. Just go ahead and enjoy yourself." And I was like, "Hmm..oh...you know..still..." After the difficult conversation ended, I got thinking "Could they be right?" But then I stuck to my guns (pun unintended) and said NO. (I know you people are sensing a lot of confusion. Yes, I'm not hiding it. It was there - briefly though.)

Diwali evening: I suddenly found myself alone at home for a good 30 minutes. Initially,  I suddenly felt alone. Hubby and baby didn't force/beg me to join them.
I then switched off the TV, switched off all lights, lit up small earthen diyas, played some nice devotional music online. It was beautiful, surreal. I got ready to spend some good time with myself. And before I could even  start, the father and the daughter come barging into the house, making a lot of noise, turn on the TV to find a fav. movie playing and that's it!! :) I suddenly became this TV mummy grinning affectionately and rolling her eyes at the same time!

Anyway, my present state of mind is this. Successfully stayed away - thanks to my supportive family. But now what? Do I tell them to stop bursting fire crackers too? No way! My opinion is just mine. The other adults have theirs. The kid will form hers. I am not an activist. I cannot spread messages. I can explain myself if required. I can only follow what I strongly believe in. That's about it.