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.


vijay amarnath said...

hi aroop..
your text about "pithamagan"..(its brilliant i can able to read you passion about cinema..
and i chk out your photograph blog.. your visual portrayed skills are good man ..how you capture underwater photography?...
nice to see your other dimension..


R Kamal said...

its a good review, but dont you think its a bit long?

aroop said...

thanks a lot Vijay..thanks for checking my blogs, for the underwater photography..i have used an underwater housing for my digital camera..you can buy it on Ebay..but be very sure it matches your camera specification..let me know if you want some help in the reserch

Thanks Kamal, glad you liked the review..i am sure u know how difficult it is for me to push my self to write about a film..and in order to do that i need to feel very strongly for it..which i felt for Pithamagan..the film is so good that contrary to wht you feel ..i feel i still did injustice by not highlighting the social commantry ..where they metophrically used Chintan as a wild beast and the city as a jungle where though things are differnt and more civilised ..but the people are the same and more dangerous than chintan..i completely forgot to higlight that angel.

Sheetal said...

Your review on pithamagan was too brilliant that there was a lot to read between lines.Gud work...

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