Monday, February 23, 2009

The Curious Case of Slumdog Millionaire

But seriously, how many of you thought the movie was good? These are some of the reasons why I think SDM won so many Oscars.. and why I do not have a high opinion of the movie.
  • People's desire to feel optimistic. A heartwarming rags to riches love story during times of financial trouble? It is bound to do well. But cinematic excellence that deserved 8 Oscars? Maybe not. I would have certainly liked this movie more, if he had not 'won' in either love or the game show. That would have been more realistic... if 'realism' is what was appreaciated in the movie. 
  • Overblown references. To answer a questions like "What is Rama's weapon of choice?"... you really dont have to go to your childhood, where your mother was killed by 'Rama' activists to get than answer? All you have to do remember is the Dussera or the Diwali celebrations that happen every year. Such things looked very contrived to me. Almost as if the author of the book wanted the answer to reference to something innately shocking. 
  • Since I have watched other Boyle movies, and liked them, and man have I tripped on AR Rahman songs! This movie was below par... Boyle has done miles better with Trainspotting and even The Beach. And Rahman has done millions of light years better. So there is the average fanboy cynicism... Oh yeah ? You think THIS is good ? Wait till you watch / listen to his earlier works. Weak. I know. But what the hell !!
  • Pet peeve that there were other movies released this year that deserved the oscars more than the 'Bollywood Realism' that was SDM. The Curious Case of Button, was frankly better in everything except music. Plus, SDM was too partisan to deserve 8. It just proved that Hollywood is the same as Bollywood. In everything except special effects. 

I am not the person who would say this movie showed India in poor light, or that it was offensive to Indian sentiments. The last thing the movie did was make fun of, or offend Indians. I feel after watching the Beach and Trainspotting, it was Danny Boyle who was making fun of Hollywood... for their idea of what 'good movies' are. 

Monday, February 09, 2009

Movie Review - Naan Kadavul

Bala is at it again. Shocking you with horrendous visuals and outlandish characters. He does not attempt to sell those characters... but he has this sense of arrogance about presenting it. This is what i created... watch it if you want. If I was to sum up the movie in a line... I would say, This is the best dark comedy to come out of Kollywood till date, about an entire village being unable to comprehend the workings of the Sadhu in their midst.

Naan Kadavul has a typical 'Bala' character as the main guy. An aghori who thinks / knows he is God, and is completely justified in becoming the destroyer at times he deems necessary. A mental makeup found in visionaries and terrorists alike. You might argue that pretty much that is what Vijay or Arjun think in all their movies. You are correct in one sense. The difference is that for this guy, that is not the most appealing characteristic. Nor is it glorified as hero-like. This guy smokes dope in front of his parents, and even asks a policeman for a toke... not because he is degenerate. He does anything just because he wants to do it. Not because he thinks it is right. The only thing he does which he thinks is right is to kill... as Kaal Bhairav... the solitary reaper. 

Bala, and the script writer have worked significantly on the lead character... and there was one more incident, which differentiates our man from any one depicted... ever in the history of Tamil cinema. The kind of rejoinder when his mother gives him the usual Thamizh amma bullshit on keeping him inside the womb for 10 months. His repartee to the guilt tripping dialogue was just so unique and pithy. Lengthy dialogues are not needed to say profound things... you know. 

The supporting cast is the life of this movie. It is very tough to present distress / difficulties in a humorous way. Cynicism helps, but there is a thin line between being cynical and being condescending. Bala, in this movie has tread that line... and has come out tops. He presents probably the best dark comedy based on a beggar community in movie history, and does not sound insensitive in doing so. But what I felt was that he could have avoided shocking us with those visuals. But then it is Bala to do that. You know you are getting it when you watch his movie. 

Arya was a sort of a disappointment. He looks the part... an arrogant well built Sadhu. But lacks the intensity in expressions. His eye looks blank... luminous eyes do not mean they are expressive. There is no ferocity, nor is there conviction. Most of the times it is just a blank stare which is supposed to frighten us. The girl too is insufficient. Her mannerisms are too dramatic, and lacks consistency. 

Music was not great, and could have done some more in setting the mood for the movie. There is no poignant tune that runs through the movie, and it sounds hackneyed and in bits and pieces. Well then the movie was made over 3 eyars. Anyone would have lost the thread during that time. 

It has been a long time since I laughed out aloud in a theatre. The last time I could, it was for Vasool Raja. Naan Kadavul also tickled me, especially in the second half. The "in your face" presentation sets in, and you learn to enjoy the movie. First part shock, second part humour. Funny movie.