Sunday, April 15, 2007

Maayakkannadi: A Spell Cast Wrong

What to expect:
1. Cheran as urban youth. Who wants to go boling and eat pissa with his gaerlfrend. But they are 'yezhai' lovers unable to afford pissa after bike gets punture and maama takes mamool.

2. Cheran changing before the camera, revealing his diaper-like underpants. Though this scene happens in the background, the sheer imagery shocks you with its lucid irony. Though he's urban youth, he still wears lungi tied up as diaper inside his pants. Whatta statement: You can take villager to the city but you can't take him outside his pants.

3. Cheran as style icon. He plays a hair-stylist at upmarket salon. See pics for proof. His yezhai lover/gaerlfrend is also hair-stylist and together, they make-out in changing rooms at Shoppers Stop. If you spot him wearing sleeveless, beware of gross sights... or what he has up his (missing) sleeve.

4. Cheran as Superstar wannabe. Yes, he borders on blasphemy insinuating that to become Superstar you just need to learn to chuck the cigarette into your mouth. Just because Boobman Sarath Kumar (not seen Pachaikili Muthucharam yet?) tells him anyone, including him, can become an actor.

5. Cheran as break-dancer. Oh, there's this one minute long shot of Cheran dancing that's supposedly choreographed to bring the roof down. It surely does. God bless Ilaiyaraja. It is a kickass track nonetheless.

6. Cheran indulging in more obscenities in the pretext of duets. The comic above is self-explanatory in that regard. Also, Cheran doing kaamedy. Intentionally and otherwise.

7. If you are going for the night show at Rohini complex like I did, the interval break happens at 12.20 a.m. And Cheran finally decides to get to the point around 2 a.m.

8. Radha Ravi's two minute long monologue in the end that delivers the message of the movie. Very effective. Saving grace of the film. Oh yes, even the actor playing Cheran's workaholic roomie is quite good. One of the rare credible performances in the film.

9. Anti-rich propaganda: All rich people are evil rapists or ganja smugglers. All good rich people call themselves poor because they struggled to make it.

10. Guest appearances: Malavika, Sarath Kumar, Arya, Director Raj Kapur, Balachander's office, Cheran's armpit...

What went wrong:
1. Cheran as actor. What was he thinking when he cast himself? There are so many scenes with the mirror in the film. Did he bother looking into it just once?
No doubt he did a decent job in Autograph as an actor but here he should've gone in for a younger actor like Bharath. The movie would've at least been watchable and probably even effective.

2. Cheran as director. It is time he stopped being indulgent and realised economy of scenes. With merciless editing, this might have been a fine film, with a different actor in the lead, of course.

3. Cheran as casting director. It is not essential to pack your film with ugly people just to give it a realistic feel. I wouldn't mind unattractive actors as long as they are effective in their roles. The guy playing wannabe rapist couldn't even act to save his balls. And did you really direct that scene, Cheran? Ham-fest!

4. Cheran as dialogue writer. There are some very good lines in the film no doubt but there are some equally corny ones too borrowed from Nayakan-rejects. And that actor playing Nayakan, I assume, is the producer. Can't imagine any other reason he was cast for the role.

5. Navya working overtime. She seems to be a talented actress but here, she goes way over the top. Or maybe it was Cheran pushing her for an award-winning performance.

What works:
1. Ilaiyaraja.

2. Ilaiyaraja.

3. Ilaiyaraja.

(Even if he insists on singing most of the songs himself these days)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Provoked: Or Don't let your wife beat you to it.

For Abhishek's wedding gift, we heard good old Jag made this beautiful movie previously titled: Back-Fire (Tag line: Beat Your Wife But Hide The Candle.)

Yes, the ultimate male fantasy. What would we not do to watch Aishwarya Rai get bitch slapped. That too, in a movie by the Jerry Bruckheimer of porn.

For the benefit of fruitbaskets reading this, here's a quick refresher on Jag Mundra. Now, this is the guy who got Helen Broadie to show her body in 'Moonsoon' [If you are at work or in the presence of the faint-hearted elderly, open that link at your own risk]. More recently, Jag was creative enough to let Laila Rouass (nope, I'm not making up these names) jump into bed with Rahul Khanna to lighten the mood and have a little fun in the middle of a film about gang-rape that ended with Nandita Das complaining about the use of a body double.

What joy it would be. To see Aishwarya in the porn filmmaker's latest attempt at critical acclaim.

So much lipsmacking potential all in one movie.

But hey, hold your monkey here a second. Don't let your expectations rise too much, the movie is a let down. The Four Letter Review for the film would go: KLPD. Yes, or KLPRR or KLPIB as you know it... (RR being Road Roller and IB being Iron Box!)

Aishwarya Rai proves her class (third to be precise) in a film with porn movie extras clearly demonstrating that they can, on any given day, do a better job acting than she ever can with her clothes on.

Everytime she went over the top with her annoying shrieks, me and a friend were rooting for Naveen Andrews, who plays the husband. "Bring it on man... Slap the bitch... YES... YES... YES!!" These were the best parts of the movie. We wanted cheerleaders around the hall, sink deeper into the seats and dig into the popcorn. Bliss! If only our Censors were more relenting.

But then, we discovered Jag has changed his preferences. No bare, sizzling Laila Rouass. Just a unbearably gross, sizzled Andrews's, thanks to squirrel-brained Aishwarya having grown up watching one of Jag's previous works called: "Burning passion: Candle with Care". The kinky woman sets his pants on fire.

'Provoked' is Jag's attempt to do a Deepa Mehta sort of a trilogy. Many years ago, he made a film on flesh trade called 'Kamla'. Then he got interested in gang-rape and made 'Bawander' and now another exciting idea. Wife-beating. If Deepa can do 'Fire,' he could come up with his own feminist statement: "Back-Fire." But the mistake he makes here is that he doesn't give people what they walk into the theatre to watch his movies for.

Now, a Jag Mundra film without porn is like Saravana Bhavan without masala dosa, right?

Alright, I am exaggerating a bit.

The movie isn't that bad nor is Aishwarya. She is actually half-decent when she shuts the fuck up in prison and talks only when required to. Thankfully, we are not Dhoomed again to hear her go "Are you, like, checking me out, like?"

Also Madhu Ambat's cinematography shows us an Aishwarya who looks fine with no make-up whatsoever. Having said that, the movie is a bore. Especially, when Jag decides to do a Princess Diaries in prison and gets her a makeover. Here's the thing, Jag: If you think you're going to switch camps and start making chick flicks, Sorry mate. The chicks don't like it either. Stick to your soft porn. You manage to make it interesting with the babes and guns thrown in. Apparently, even Tarantino digs that kinda stuff.

Naveen Andrews, Miranda Richardson and Robbie Coltrane are the only actors who seem to know what they are doing in the film. Strangely, even Nandita Das is found wanting. She turns out to be animated in the company of the firang natural actors. Or maybe, after her previous outing with Jag, she just signed up for sweet revenge.

Maybe she was the one who was 'Provoked'.

Anyways, it's good that Jag made something that will hopefully provoke Little B to beat her regularly.

Also, I hope he hides the candle.