Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pithamagan : a Brilliant exercise in Film Making

Long Back, in a scorching hot afternoon of Delhi, I was a reluctant audience to a seminar on Film theories and Deconstructions..i had better things to do that afternoon and although I love watching films, I just didn’t felt there is anything more that you can dwell deeper into other than the entertainment value, what I never knew was within next two hours my whole perspective towards films is going to crumble to dust and shoved into my face.. the esteemed lecturer started by stating , “ the most entertaining films are the easiest to understand, and since they are so easy, you loose them the moment you walk out of the theater.” And he left it at that.. just showing me one side of the coin, I didn’t even knew till then that there are kind of films that could be otherwise. Films are a medium of entertainment ,are they not, I see life every day, therefore if I pay money and sit in one dark corner of a theater , I prefer to isolate my self from the rest of the world for next 3 hrs and watch something that , I will never get to watch in real life.. that’s exactly how I felt, isn’t that what a film is suppose to do to you, weave a fairytale around you and take away your worries for those 3 blissful hours – Wrong!! thats entertaining cinema at best, responsible cinema- I guess not, if that film has not changed you in anyway by the time it gets over, its pointless and a wasted medium.. entertaining, definitely but Value Driven –absolutely not.. its not that I have something against the escapist cinema, I have been bought up on a staple diet of such films, but once in a while I love watching the multi layered film with a social message , because they are reassuring , telling me-“Son! all is not lost we still exist, outnumbered and lurking in shadows of so called mainstream film, but we are alive.. so have some faith!!” Films communicate to me and I have learned to listen to them.
Also, before I get into more details, I will take a liberty of adding that ever since I have developed a taste for regional and International Cinema , I had been a happier man.. although I don’t know the language, the films communicate more to me than anything coming out of Bombay or Hollywood.

PithaMagan is a film which very cleverly walks a razors edge between the thinking mans Cinema and film for the masses, and succeeds in doing so – The Story is about a Graveyard Caretaker Chitan (Brilliantly portrayed by Vikram) who was born in the graveyard and and was orphaned right away thus leading a feral life, he grows up in the Graveyard devoid of all/any Human contact and and one day ,is forced to walk out and face the ruthless world ..all he has with him are true animal instincts, the films follows him and we watch the proceeding through his POV,its Chintans journey and transition from a wild being to a domesticated one and reverse, the films at times veers away to introduce few more characters and takes a little longer than necessary to establish them.. but that’s allright. The Director( Bala) has done a great job in getting his crew together.. and the performances are just extraordinary ..the subject could have failed miserably in less competent hands but it’s the restrained performance by Vikram (trust me in a part like that, its very easy to ham and go over the top)which makes it work. Its very difficult to describe the character of Chintan as he isn’t mentally challenged but it’s a kind of part where most of the other actors would have slyly rented DVD of Hollywood films(Forrest Gump, Instict etc) and looked for inspiration thus at the end of the day making the part a very synthetic and pretentious one(Rani Mukherjee in Black). Instead Vikram just gets under the skin of Chintan, he takes the character and makes it his own.. when you are looking at the screen, its only Chintan that you see, Vikram just doesn’t exists in the film.
Shakthi(Surya) plays the otherside of the spectrum, and does well to stand up to author baked role of Vikram, all on his own- he is rough, he is loud and foul mouthed street urchin but still likable.. as the film progresses, its shown that with all the minor flaws ,Shakti has got his heart in the right place.. and he is a do gooder , a kind of friend anyone of us would like to have and the film trys to establish this particular fact over and over again (one of the films major flaws) because when a films trys too hard to make a character likable –you pretty much get a hint of how his cookie would crumble. Laila was the surprise package and her arch connects both Chitan and Shakti as her part starts off as a comic relief and ends in one of the most heart wrenching and poignant moment (read: reaction to a death) ever filmed on a Indian Screen.. the film(I know people will hate me if a say this..) also has a vague undercurrent of a Man in love with another Man (I am avoiding the word homosexuality) which has been dealt with utmost profound dignity..
Simaran’s(Playing herself) part starts off well but then turns out to be like a guests who overstays his welcome.. this is the only part that looks forced into the whole narrative of the film.
The Cinematography is wonderful, music of Illyaraja is good and the technical department does well, but it’s a film that belongs to the actor and they have all done a amazing job (incidentally :all the films I have seen of Vikram now he seems to repeat similar role, becoming typecasted which is unfortunate)

My heart goes out to this film and the fact that even though these kind of films are being made we are still sending out Devdas and Paheli and Eklavya for Oscars.. not that Oscar is a big deal, but why on earth these kind of films are not able to get the kind of exposure they deserve and instead, end up confided in certain region of the country,Yeah, this film would be much better if it was 20 minutes shorter but its a indian film that comes with its idiosyncrasies like every other film out there, I don’t believe in giving points and grading a Film but I can tell you one thing for sure.. its one of the better ones out there to come out that year. Defiantly a must watch.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sye : kicking ass the old fashioned way

With the Check De effect all around ..I thought its about time, I write about something too.. but then everybody has a opinion on Chak de and almost everybody likes it ..there fore it doesn’t makes much sense to me to write about a film which is so popular that people hates to discuss its gray areas forget the blacks (not that there aren’t any)..there is absolutely no doubt that its one of the best film of the year but the only problem with films based on sports is.. you know how its going to end even before it begins and since there had been already so many films made on the same subject that everything you see on screen (esp if you follow the Genre) feels like been there done that.. starting from the fallen hero, his eventual return from his confinement (Keanu Reeves in Replacements),his taking over the most unlikely team of losers or underdogs ..till the final infamous speech in the dressing room during the halftime and the match being decided in the penultimate moment.. people had been comparing Chak De with “The Mighty Ducks” and “Miracle” I seriously pity the Critics these days they don’t even look through the film.. forget doing a bit of research on the source material ..if my memory serves me right Chak de seemed more derivative of a film called “A League of there Own”. Chak De is a good film , if not a great film but I am not here to talk about Chak De..i am writing here to take you on a little trip in the past and talk about a film which might be a lesser known to ardent film watchers like myself

For me the beauty of watching film has always been getting into the film expecting something (not much really) and getting something which is entirely different.. SYE (Telgu ) is one such film (the film must be a popular one in Andhra Pradesh and south of India) but the purpose of me writing about it here is to do my bit and get this film close to the audience it really deserves. Now the director of the film S.S.Rajamauli(its his 2nd film) takes every possible cliché ,every possible formula and puts it into the grind..the film is absolute no brainer but its Entertainment on the Rocks.. let me give you a hint

Two feuding groups in a Arts and Science Collage in Hyderabad (Wings and Claws), One Land Mafia and wannabe MLA eyeing the land that the collage is built on, both the feuding groups join forces for one final showdown with the land Mafia.. throw in few colorful songs in the middle, good looking people (PYT), nice oomph quotient and a comedy track which has nothing to do with the film narrative ..and you have got it all in place..
Its hard to talk about a film like SYE without giving away much, but trust me.. the lesser you know about it , the more you will enjoy it.. its not a Yash Raj and SRK but still manages to deliver a high on adrenalin(read:steroids) ride ,from the word go.. it gave me something I felt was missing in Cinema for a very long time – A great larger than life Villain(you will just love to hate him) and a lovely third act that culminates into a climax which is 45 minutes long!! .. the acting ranges from Campy to good to Histrionics ..but hey !! it’s a formula film that works like a Charm.. Hyderabad is Shot beautifully on Screen and the film flows swiftly.. its connected well and the action is good.. just what you want to view on a laid back Sunday evening.. make sure to have your friends over ,stack your self with enough Pizza and Beer.. and you are in for a fun ride ..go ahead ,have a good time.
(also watch out for the usage of the “F” word without any beeps …whoowww Fuckin Awasome.. ;))

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