Matthias et Maxime: Xavier Dolan’s wistful tale of friendship, love and crisis

Xavier Dolan and Gabriel D’ Almeida Freitas in a shot from Matthias et Maxime; Cinematography by André Turpin (Image used for review purposes only)

Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan’s new release Matthias et Maxime is an immensely wistful tale of two friends who after sharing a kiss struggle with the new meaning of their relationship and their own identities. Matt in his bright red turtleneck sweater and Max wearing a sky-blue tee lean closer, their lips gently part in expectation and the camera sharply cuts to black; the kiss which has unforeseen consequences for both Matt and Max is unseen by us. What holds the chief interest of writer-director Xavier Dolan is the new meaning that comes sweeping into the friends’ lives evoking a surge of hitherto unrecognized feelings, thereby shaking up the very foundation of their bond. Dolan is moving and beautifully sensitive as the shy and suffering Max who is desperately trying to escape from his present life to find a new quiet in Australia. After the kiss, the film interestingly follows the lives of the two friends separately for their struggles are as different as their lives which are poles apart.

Matt’s life is nearly all settled, pleasant; he works in a law firm and has a fine relationship with his girlfriend. Max’s life, on the other hand, is defined by its disorder, he is someone who has long known suffering, his toil is for survival in a troubled household. Many argue that the part of the film that deals with Max’s traumatised relationship with his mother does not add very well to the film but despite it being a largely redundant sequence that also grows exasperating, it serves to explore what Max’s life is like, revelatory of how and why the aftermath of the kiss is varied for the two friends.

In Matt’s seemingly full life, the new chaos of confusion becomes something so urgent to seek answers for while Max is nearly indifferent after the kiss, not that it didn’t mean anything to him but the pressing issues in his home constantly hinder him from exploring his identity and his intimate relationships. When a young man flirtatiously smiles at Max on the bus, after faltering in hesitation and excitement, Max awkwardly returns the smile but blood begins dripping in his face from the wound his mother inflicted on him in a fight they had moments earlier. Max then pulls up his hood and diverts his gaze out the window. Max’s life doesn’t allow him the calm and emotional space to wallow in newly found feelings as Matt does. Perhaps, Max’s exploration, his adult life is to begin with a renewed energy after his departure to Australia where he will be distant from his familial issues and miseries to finally focus on his self and life.

When Matt (a terrific Gabriel D’ Almeida Freitas) questions why he should be wearing that red sweater before they are to begin shooting the kiss, the young director tells him that the colour is to add contrast, to evoke something Almadovar-esque. In Matthias et Maxime which explores the differences in the travail of two friends with their sexuality and identity, the conflicts are not played out in Almodóvar’s style of flamboyant melodrama or even entirely in the familiar sensational style of Dolan as seen in his earlier features. There is more restraint which calmly and beautifully illustrates the inner inhibitions the characters are grappling with.

The short film Matt and Max star in is called Limbo and it is a brief inquiry in the theme of Who am I? Matthias et Maxime furthers this exploration of Limbo through Matt, his uncertainty and suffering. After the night’s kiss, as everything in the house is still, Matt restlessly shuffles in his bed before going out for a swim early in dawn. Matt’s swim in the chilly blue dawn as he flails in the waters, not knowing what to do, where to go is a visual drama of Matt’s perplexities and this rousing sequence filmed by André Turpin indeed sums up the essence of the film: young men wading through the waters of life, getting lost, drifting far away before they finally return to each other. There is a similar sequence in the later part of the film which builds on this, it is Matt’s run through the city, again after a night’s kiss but this time, it seems Matt is prepared to gather the self-assurance and acceptance to start anew; after the run, he looks gasping at the faint glow of dawn.

There are exhilarating essentially Dolan touches in the movie (Matt’s swim is an instance), especially in a moment of much yearned intimacy between Matt and Max as the aspect ratio changes with the screen assuming a wide rectangular form that signals liberation and a space for the friends to ultimately confront and exchange their feelings, it is the film and characters bracing themselves to focus on what truly matters to them. The moment is tender, sensual, blooming with deeply felt longing and love. Here, after Matt leaves Max, telling him “This isn’t us”, we glimpse at an abandoned, gloomy Max behind the glass panes of a window as it rains outside, he is seen through a rent in the window sheets. His face blurs and the tear in the sheet comes to focus; Matt’s parting in indecision is a wound torn open in Max’s desirous heart.

Matthias et Maxime is an exquisitely graceful film, earnest in its brimming passions as it intimately follows the slow and painful blossom of a friendship into love with its characters going through caged, lonely and confounding phases of struggle before the first flutter of their new winged relationship and embraced identity emerging radiant under the shine of love.

Laurence Anyways: A turbulent romance

Laurence Anyways, Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan’s third feature follows his startling, intimate debut I killed my mother(2009), chronicling the rooted rivalry in a bittersweet mother-son relationship and his charming second picture, Heartbeats(2010) which revels in the irresistible pleasures, absurdity and pain of romantic attractions. The 2012 film plunges deep into the vast wild seas of romance, desperate to test its temper, probe its fathoms of rapture and make sense of its infinite possibilities and limits. The attempt is feverish yet passionate and Laurence Anyways is a haunting and sprawling film spread over a decade (1989-1999) set on a turbulent romance thrust along the throes of a lover’s crucial self-discovery and the couple’s ensuing quest for liberty.

Series of shots of an empty house open the film, a door gently closes- it is the lovers’ dwelling, now abandoned and empty. An immediate feeling of void rises up and the story flowing in the next 2hrs45 mins is that of a searing romance burning this hole, creating this void and the lover’s desperation to water the flames, fill the emptiness before letting go.

In a ravishing introductory sequence, Laurence (a terrific, vibrant Melvil Poupaud) steps out, the veiling smoke slowly dissipating as she walks along the streets in style to the jubilant blasts of music, indifferent to the judgemental and piercing glances of the onlookers. The sequence plays out in slick slow-motion and is colossal as it presents Laurence to us, careful not to reveal her face but the glossy tresses of her hair, her confident figure and the spirit she bears. We immediately cut back a decade ago to Laurence in his cramped, dark kitchen. The striking poise and self-possession are lost in his man’s self. The journey to the Laurence we saw is going to be long, demanding and damaging not merely for him but his lady love too whose notions of identity and liberty get mixed up in Laurence’s struggle. The sharp contrasting cuts and sequences as in this noted initial instance are predominant in the film and this alteration between vibrance and darkness, of frames suggestive of entrapment and freedom with a curious play of colours enable the narrative, spelling out the fate of the central romance, its highs and lows and the eventual doom as the lovers deal with the crisis of identity.

Laurence wants to be a woman, but he is trapped in his man’s body. He wanders along graveyards, pondering over the state of lifelessness he has resigned himself to in all the years of self-deception. He, a poet, relates the state of his suffering with his childhood tale, ‘Head above water.’ He has long held his breath under water to merely emerge a futile, vain victor, fighting against his own self, constantly waging war after war. He confesses it to his fierce and compassionate lover, Fred Blaire (played by the stunning Suzanne Clement) on his 35th birthday. Their romance interestingly unfurls in enclosed spaces- in parked cars, within their homes, they kiss, make lists of things known to diminish their pleasure ranging from eatables such as dark chocolate to serious psychological conditions as latent childhood trauma- all the while the camera moving swiftly from one to the other. There is more delirium in its movements than energy and it resonates strongly with the course of the lovers’ hearts reaching out briefly to the other, drawing back and settling in the self.

Fred is devastated and her torment arises less from Laurence’s transsexuality than in her unavoidable suspicion on the nature of their bond, their romance so far, is it a farce after all? Pained and angered, she remarks that ‘everything must be reinterpreted’ and as Laurence assures her that it is not so, she steps up for him with conviction and sympathy.

In an exquisitely shot dinner scene which comes post Laurence’s embrace of his female identity aided by Fred, their interaction unfolds in singular, separate shots- Laurence clothed in plain red and black, merged with the similar hues of the walls behind him and Fred in a floral dress of white and red, one with her background. They seem to be two individuals from different worlds communicating with each other as the scene sharply exudes the sense of abyss and the nature of the crisis raging between the lovers. In the concluding shot of the scene, we witness them from afar in a distinct circle of light as the world around rests in an impenetrable, immense darkness. Fred’s hope of taking their extraordinary relationship higher and further is the only light they have in a nasty world with its narrow-minded conventions of normalcy. Soon the darkness seeps into their home eating up their hopes of liberty, stressing that they can’t have it all.

As Laurence redefines his own self, engaging in his revolution, his lover is left to despair in solitude. His vital self-consumption pulls them apart and Fred is stifled, forced to make a choice. She goes through a metamorphosis too. In her glorious metaphoric rebirth, she emerges out her clothes, scatters them along the narrow, long passage of their home and steps naked, new into the shower. She sports her flamboyant, free new self in the Cinebal, a wild and fantastic costume party which Dolan curiously states in an interview as something that happens in her own mind. In the shower, Fred discards the handmade pendant Laurence gifted her in their first meet and her mind is troubled by that question he never asked, a concern he never showed as she looked up to Laurence longingly. That unasked question being, ‘What is on your mind?’ He is barely there for her and the dynamics of the relationship ruptures, setting the lovers free in their separate ways. Their freedom reeks of separation and the film disputes their longing by its irony of visually flaunting the couple’s new found liberty in grand, wide shots- Laurence outside his winter cottage and Fred in her new, well-illumined and sprawling home, both finally at harmony with their respective surroundings and neither challenged nor confined by the spaces around them.

In Laurence’s attempt to win Fred back, he resorts to obsessive and dramatic gestures and the lovers once again give it a go, this time retreating to their dream destination, The Isle of Black. We know from earlier that they have always wanted to be there, to visit it once- this symbol of their dreams, of a glimmering promise of what could be. They walk along the streets of this frozen desert with a dreamy resplendent shower of clothes. This colourful rain of clothes is a relic, a ritual from their past when Laurence used to wake her up by dropping on her piles of freshly washed clothes. The dream ruptures soon and nightmares tread menacingly into their paradise bringing with them the darkness once again washing over the screen in the lovers’ ultimate confrontation as they confess overwhelming feelings of their tremendous love and throbbing hate.

“Come down to Earth”, Fred says to Laurence in their awkward, restless meet many years post the episode in their lover’s paradise and Laurence replies, “Listen to yourself, come down to earth? But we flew so high.” He never dismisses the thrall of his love and is content to reside in its grips, never venturing to deal closely with the turbulence existing between them despite acknowledging it. Hence as Fred moves apart, setting up her own life, Laurence continues to resurrect her in his works of fiction as the mysterious A.Z woman, one who is his beginning and end. The passing comment of his during their ‘reunion’ as Fred walks into the bar lit with heavy blue hues references Murphy’s Law and their romance too operates according to its philosophy: ‘Anything that will go wrong will go wrong.’

Existing in the league of movies as Marriage story, Blue Valentine and Before Midnight, Laurence Anyways also original with its unique visual style,more urgent conflict and added delirium (identifiable with Dolan’s penchant for strained relationships and translating their tensions into dashing, sensational visuals) furthers the meditation on the substance of romance itself- how far will love go, how strong can it stand holding the slipping sharp pieces together and at what cost? If the grand price you pay is the self, why battle against the inevitable at all. Romance is often torn between the rare epic immortality expected of it and its more natural and noble ephemeral nature.

(“Love is an ever-fixed mark that looks on the tempests and is never shaken.” – Shakespeare; “There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional”- Albert Camus) Laurence Anyways flames in the heart of this continuing turbulence, in the seemingly absurd yet brutal eternal conflict of romance.

The film’s haunt intensifies in its closure, in the gold-tinted first meet cute of Laurence and Fred, so removed from the delirium prevalent in the film and consumed in an innocent delight. This title-defining scene pronounces all that will define and rupture the relationship from Laurence’s charms, his wink, the butterfly pendant, the start of the lists of things diminishing their pleasure and the ultimate compromise of identity.

“I am Laurence Alia.”

“Laurence, what?”

“It is Laurence anyways.” : this is Laurence supressing his true feminine self in their initial meet, revealing only a part of him, to himself, to her and from here Fred too takes the cue and conjures up an inviolable image of Laurence- one that will haunt him, her, us and their romance.

Bigil : Safe game, Foul play

With the already prevailing roaring Vijay-isms, Atlee assembles a ‘surprisingly’ decent drama, an unabashed fanfare. The flick channelizes its energy from the massive star in hand, and his stardom with the course it initially assumes along this remaining hassle free as its relatively clean writing is filtered only to boost and boast his shine. A pressing protest unfolds in the premises of a college, students are chased off by henchmen in the disguise of cops, the beaten seek refuge in Michael’s den where even a ten-year-old precociously threatens the goons, referring to the might of his Thalapathi. And, there he is, sparkling amidst the firecrackers in his football jersey and lungi, teasing and thrashing every last one of them seeming more relaxed than earlier, his ease palpable and pleasant.

Who is this Michael? The answer is readymade, this time more suggestive, the teaser of a probably distant vision- ‘Yenga Area Vaathiyaaru’. This likening continues in the elaborate introduction to Raayappan who is seen mouthing the lines of the song ‘Enna thaan nadakum nadakatume’ blaring from his black ambassador, distinctly stressing the lines ‘Oru thazhaivan irukiran’. The portrait of the idol MGR also adorns the car of Rayappan who is himself the leader figure to the people of his area as he strives to protect them and enable them lead a better life. His son Michael shall ultimately become the ‘coach’, the mentor.

Michael sports a No.5 jersey, leading a life chequered, torn between his buddies, his love interest and unprecedented deadly attacks. One meta reference among the lot slips in, linking to this man’s pursuit, ‘Baasha Bhai’, someone calls him and closely like how Manickam is not just Manickam but Baasha, Michael’s journey too announces itself, ‘Ennaku innoru peru iruku……..Bigileeey!’ While the former renounces violence aimed at greater good, the latter is pushed out of his dreams and into the heat of gangsterism. The construction to this flashback though not inventive is convenient and fairly convincing provided the nominal level of expectations self-set to enjoy this fanfare better.

As Bigil swings in the air, swift in his game, the placard in the stadium grounds read ‘Aalaporaan Thamizhan’ in bold letters. Later he tells the girls team that it is not for them that they are playing but for their ‘entire state’. Another of these meta references is thrust on Raayapan’s driver who is called ‘Puli’. Not to mention the ‘Kabadi, Kabadi’ music that kicks in as ‘Nessi’ jogs, drawing the mind to Gilli where Vijay also plays a sportsperson and is the one who rescues the hapless Dhanalakshmi from the insane, lustful PrakashRaj. Here too, the role assumed is primally parallel only that there is no Dhanalakshmi but Anita, Gayatri, Vembu and Pandiyamma (On these later since good things first is a better way to go.) These marked nods to the star and his oeuvre maximise the viewer’s level of awareness, reinforcing that it is completely ‘his’ film, conceived solely for him and anything that the tale takes on is only to substantiate the same. Nevertheless, this sort of starstruck writing stays finely on flow as long as its banks on the star.

“Cup mukiyam Bigilu”, Raayapan mentions frequently with passion and it is interesting to note an amusing gig around the crucial cup, a prelude to Michael’s romance. Raayapan’s way of life directly harms Bigil’s dreams and this connection is demonstrated firmly in the course of the football match and Raayapan’s confrontation with Alex in the collector office, both these sequences intercut to create a prime tension. This vow to avenge Alex made simultaneously as Bigil wins the match is what would come to stab their backs, robbing their dreams as the passionate one misses the train to the future, his football bouncing out from its carriages, lying unattended as he picks up the sword.
The wielded sword is abandoned, the vengeance washed away in the rain as passion comes calling, offering a second chance to live one’s dreams.

Amidst the many traditional Vijay-isms the film scores with, it is heartening to acknowledge its assertation of the futility of violence as it cheers not for the fall of Michael’s nemesis but grants him forgiveness so as to not inspire the rage of grudge which destroyed Bigil’s life and dreams. This prestige is what goes amiss when the film shifts to the women’s game. An out and out star entertainer accommodating this plotline within its fanfare space does sound enlightened yet it arrives at such representation only to bank on it the same way it does with its star.

It is reasonable that Bigil is no women empowerment drama or sports film in its core as its promotion campaign largely claims and this is no problem of the film as it does fine by what it primarily is. Yet the way the film banks on its women, their tears and travail merely to suit its own dramatic advantage bears a distressingly minimal dignity.
This is when the decent game that has been considerably safe begins to try scoring in foul terms masqueraded under the soul-stirring Singapenney, its lack of awareness of its ways truly alarming. For one, it refrains from the flesh and blood of the misery, starting from toning down the acid scars of Anita, almost denying to present what it actually might be besides centralising the god-like saviour, the imposition finding itself in a juncture more undermining than uplifting as it chronicles victimhood with no heightened sensitivity. Disturbing body-shaming guised as power-packed motivation of the master, the last-minute mental trick to win the game, adding up as a laughing riot-cum-hoot only intensifies the distress.

If this is the makers’ idea of dedication to women, only my angst and apologies I can spare. The next time a decision is made to represent a woman’s struggle for dreams onscreen, may it be recognised that it demands more than mere sympathy, and may the call for genuine empathy and dignity be taken.
Bigil is hence, all game as a dedication to the fans but quite a foul in its tribute to women.

Kaithi: A sharp, blazing action thriller, fiery in its spirit and pursuit

A stone-cold night gradually dissolves into the grips of darkness. A longing, a mistake, a conquest, a chase and a captive are tied as one with the winding night, their fates and course intertwined by chance and by destiny. Picking these fine logs of potential stories, carefully mounting them on the ground, arranging each log in an impeccable order, Lokesh Kanagaraj fuels them the prompt amount, breathing fire into their midst. The wood then cracks open in the fire, their enormous flames spreading intense heat, fuming in the dark as the tension ruling this hour of the night emerges palpable.

This ignition is no small feat, it is demanding for it requires an eye, a vision for choosing and setting up the right and a resolve to wade through the chilly night bearing a heavy torch that will provide adequate heat and light as one heads towards the dawn. This massively entertaining and masterfully crafted action thriller grows wild and fiery as it storms through this tense night propelled by its solid writing and a sharp, powerful direction that exploits and elevates its mass hero premise to an optimal level.

The film devotes the energy of its elaborate initial moments to effectively constructing the core of all its conflicts, establishing its elements in and around, towards a meaty plot build up that pulls the viewer into the heart of its tensity and starting from here, it never lets go off its strong hold. With the story and its central character device taking an upper hand to accommodate a star, he fits in bearing the bestowed strength and his very own formidability channelizing the vitality into the core of the fire. An ancient British modelled police office, 840 crores worth of drugs, an unseen master criminal, his network of gangsters, drugged police officers, one Kaithi to the rescue. We sit up as the chase kicks in.

The titanic quality, its exclusive solidity and suspense found in the pivotal character Dilli aren’t just limited to him. It adds up to Adaikalam, the chief smuggler and in a heartening way, this streak of heroism is visible in Napolean (played movingly by George Maryan).

The fine touch of mystery adds to the might of Dilli rendering him almost angelic besides laying the ground for a potent prequel. He it seems is a god-send in the form of a tramp, a saviour and a seeker of vengeance whose stories known and sides seen are few while those that remain unfamiliar and unseen loom excitingly large. We hear of him prior seeing him. True to all mass openings. However, here we are told that this man possesses no identification documents and never looks into one’s eye as he is being addressed.

As Bejoy, the cop cries for help, we head to Dilli, the saviour to be seated inside the jeep, soaked in shadows, a distant white light shining between him and Bejoy. Dilli isn’t ready to help for he has other emotional commitments to attend to yet he gives in to the threats and promises of the police officer. The efforts at humanising Dilli bring an inclusive sentimental quotient to the tale yet also hint at the larger riddle around his entire redemption relating to the Thiruvilayadal of the Lord.

The dimensions of his character, his stories and pursuit all blend in extensively well and with no intrusions to credibility even sans this undercurrent. Yet with the Vibuthi smeared over his forehead, sacred pearls around his neck, an attire of faded saffron, it is told Dilli is out on a pilgrimage and with his quest, the second-guessing begins, a pilgrimage or a hunt? The devouring of a bucket’s biriyani and meat, slipping into a trance like state with every mouthful, the music throbbing as he sucks at the bones are strongly suggestive of an unfolding hunt as the guardian angel begins to soothe an infinite hunger.

The widely and distinctly used god’s point of view as the truck trails down the dark, deserted roads and as men clash in their attempts to kill Dilli substantiate that all of them constitute a part of something larger, beyond their control and comprehension. They are devices in the playground of life and the chequered floor of the police office does hint at the same- the chess of life. Even the name Dilli is itself of an old English derivation meaning ‘idol’ or ‘god’.

In a conversation ‘Kamatchi’ points out that Dilli must have missed out so much on what is currently happening in the world and Dilli’s retort bears a strong relevance to our current discourse, he goes- “Jail enna Sevagraguthulaya Iruku? Unnakum ennakum oru sevaru thaan vithyaasam.” It is a wall that separates Kamatchi and him, not any cosmic components and this wall might be very well of a mental or spiritual construct. The predominant presence of fire emanating heat and light adding to the ethos of the restless night offer a viable scope for evidencing this intriguing interpretation of the god-like nature to Dilli, the prisoner who frees the trapped. As long as he is with them, no harm shall befall.

As these men take refuge in the hills, Dilli prays out aloud to Lord Shiva and Kaamatchi tells him that they are cornered, ‘Malai ah suthi aal nikuraanga.’ The henchmen while stating Dilli’s vigour says, ‘Arul vantha maari aadraan.’ He acts as if he is possessed by a divine force. When Kaamtchi tells Dilli that he doesn’t believe in god, Dilli funnily remarks, ‘Oru Naal Nambuva.’ With the murder of a young boy, the idol penchant around his neck drops off and is held to dearly as the only memento.

This vividly constructed angelic feature enhances the essence and effect of the usual hero tropes, especially in the resurrection scene where a stabbed Dilli rises back to life when a lovingly bought present is crushed to dust. He is literally given all transcendental power and his exercise of the same within the film’s solid premise both enthrals and entertains. The culmination of all this raging energy in the rapid, flaming RudhraDhandav with the Gatling is an ultimate hoot and with Napolean beside, this is an indomitable heroic duo.
The writing and execution of these thrilling action sequences throughout stand as a work of utter brilliance, an intriguing instance is the first confrontation in the forest as Dilli hears Amudha’s voice the first time. At the very instant, he also realises that they are being attacked. His iris dilates, the shock and emotion wresting in the tender space as the trunks of the trees shatter the glass panes of the speeding truck, its sharp green shards filling the muddy floor. Dilli gets out then slow and in style, the leaves rising up in the dust, his cuffed hands tucking his dhoti and his modest slippers levelling the ground, walking through the shards. Later he tells that when he heard his daughter’s voice the first time, his heart was shattered (alike the truck’s glass panes) ‘Manasu Udanjupochu’, he heaves.

The style and substance found here keep rising to a striking scale in all that which follows.The mystique to the Kaithi prolongs as he walks through the highway road on the new serene morning with his Amudha. Maybe there was something more than what occurred to Viji, something that he wouldn’t tell us now.

We shall never know, we don’t need to as this power packed film, prior fading on the wide screens stirs our intrigue in its staunch final touches, promising a towering return.

Asuran – A soul wrenching chronicle of the genesis and course of a certain ‘necessitated monstrosity’

Asuran – A soul wrenching chronicle of the genesis and course of a certain ‘necessitated monstrosity’ in a downtrodden yet nearly divine man.

Divinity and monstrosity- these terms when strung together carry such paradox that it gets all perplexing and absurd, how can a monstrous aspect be in line with a sense of divinity? Before we go on, let it be highlighted that the aspects of these two statures addressed here are on human levels, where we find them often muddled, one battling the other in the lands of the mind, in cases of rarity, coexisting in a hard-earned peace.

The film besides presenting questions and laments to which the answers even today remain only partially known, resolves the query of this polarity along its fathoms to a keenly balanced degree that refrains rightly from glorifying all bloodshed but at the very same time, in a stroke of brilliance, forges an understanding of the essentiality of such a deed. To err is to human, to forgive is to divine. Sivasaami has been in the two places (his forgiveness though comes from a forced, grounded space) in extension of the implications of this old adage only that he hasn’t erred, neither has his son. They are wronged as they challenge the bounds of the horrendous status quo in their villages. The only place they go utterly wrong is standing up for their rights, their land, their life, propelled by the heat within. Who knew that the fire itself will burn them all alive.

The title Asuran is suggestive of this duality- what is it referring to, the divine or the monster? Both, indeed, it stands for Sivasaami whose very name evidences it. His sons are Murugan, Chidambaram, his wife Pachai Amma and he lovingly calls out to his daughter – ‘Thaayi! (My mother). Intrigued by the attributions of the title and its rootedness in the tale, the mind wishes to engage further in this duality- of the godly and the ghastly. The term ‘Asura’ is said to have appeared first in the Vedas denoting a human or a divine leader. Here, through the representation of Sivasaami, is the plight of oppressed portrayed in a way both powerful and poignant. He gradually grows into a leader figure of a sort in the eyes of his young son- a leader from whose bloodshed and bruises, lessons are learnt.

The Vadakooran family, the one from the northern town who wield power in the village enjoy and exploit their lordly privileges. They are the ones who take the control of conducting the temple festivals there, we hear from a man as he expresses his concern over them having to sit with the family of Sivasaami to resolve a conflict. People like Sivasaami aren’t considered to be these vain ruthless men’s equals, hence his dismay. They are taken to be slaves who become the nemesis as they erupt in the face of brutality they are being subjected to. Sivasaami is clearly an opponent to these men of power.

Vetrimaaran’s sturdy oeuvre teems with his inclination to explore how the larger level of violence dictated by the terms of politics and dimensions of the society interferes with and infects the lives of the innocent. In his first, provoked by Ravi, Prabhu turns Polladhavan. This is Vetrimaaran’s second film with a title referencing a quality of the protagonist rather than the setting as in Aadukalam, VadaChennai and Visaaranai where the setting affects the people, pushing them to the extremes. In Asuran, like in Polladhavan, it is largely about the world pulling out something from within the people of the tale, something right out of their gut. The tension of the push and pull adds more downright grit to the film which is built on the broader themes of casteism and its many horrific holds over the society.

Asuran is based on Poomani’s raw and rustic novel, Vekkai. Deriving its skeleton from the novel, Asuran fleshes out a meaty and fierce retelling which is definitely more of a thrill than a disappointment unlike the estimation of Vetrimaaran who says in a recent interview that people who loved the novel might not like the film.

‘Avan Avanuku Nelam Iruntha yen Paadu pattu kedapane’. Land is the basic property, a fundamental entitlement, the possession of which shall determine if one shall be his own master or another’s slave.
The root conflict of Asuran is the one over land which stands as the symbol of the people’s very being and identity. It is only befitting that the title in strong blood red spreads over the parched land, its cracks from lack of moisture running through the surface like veins. Contrary is the following reflection of the beauteous moon in the dark waters of the stream. The sly movement of Sivasaami splinters the image of the blissful moon. Perhaps on another night, Sivasaami and Chidambaram would have looked up to the sky admiring the shine of the moon. This is one of the very few images of peace in the film, one that brims with a sort of serenity sharply incongruous to all the rest which follows for in them the warmth of the colours is subdued and the inherent intense heat, the ‘vekkai’ is left to drip- the sweat of scorching heat drained of all colours.

The first blast of colour arrives in the form of Murugan dressed in a flamboyant orange tinted golden. In the dry lands devoid of many hopes, insidiously devoured by greed, he is innocent and filled with come what may daring. In this crucial role, Teejay is almost there yet an added substance and spirit could have definitely helped. The sync of the dubbing misses the point of precision in various instances disturbing the degree of immersion in the intense tale.

Moving on, past these in the way, we see that Murugan is set to get married and the melody of his mind’s happy hums is pleasantly overwhelming. The family returns to their wrecked home, strong despite half broken, merry yet not, resonating with the actual state of theirs in a perpetual danger of basic rights being harassed. Their strength of will covers them- their 3 acres is the only land not under the control of the vadakooran in the entire area. The price they are pushed to pay for retaining their rightful possession is intolerable.
Nee naayi poiruchenu varutha padra, naan naayoda pochenu aaruthal patukren says Sivasaami whose pain and rage are brilliantly shouldered by Dhanush. Sivasaami is emaciated, wilting as he bears the weight of agony, the force of which seems to pull him down to the ground. The sheer pressure of it has grown over him that when he rises amidst the dust and heat with a velkambu, it is such a moment of power as if at that instant he had been possessed by a greater force as the thunderous beats boom like passionate chants invoking the descent of an angered god over the man. He draws such incredible energy from the roots of his very rage which strikes as emerging from the place of divine intervention. The fruits of this rage and interventions had only borne agony.

‘Ippadithaan namma veetu pasanga ellarum aambalai aaganum polirukku’. Perhaps, this is how our boys are destined to become men. Sivasaami who speaks of this dismal coming-of-age has had a journey similar to that of his 16 -year old son who sets out to seek justice for his brother’s death in his own way. The same kind of horrid maturation rooted in a rebellious fit of violence has pushed Sivasaami into what he is today. While Vetrimaaran states that Asuran is the journey of the boy to the father than with the father, it emerges essentially as the journey of the father- of Sivasaami.

Sivasaami initially is unaware of what part he constitutes in his village. The learning comes hard. In the early meetings over the land dispute in the village, we see Sivasaami outside the door, he is literally an outsider in his levels of understanding of the travail of his people. In a subsequent meeting championed by the social activist- lawyer played by Prakash Raj and Sivasaami’s brother Murugan (after whom Sivasaami has named his first son), Sivasaami is seen along the side-lines exuberantly applauding as the empowering speech ends. He is no longer an outsider in any levels of awareness, he is a part of the comradeship united in the spirit to fight for their rights.

The deprivation of colours is relatively starker in this portion, of course, it is the flashback but these are also times when matters were starting to get worse, in the eyes of Sivasaami. It appears to be set in the late fifties, post-independence for the present course of the tale is set in the late 70s. The dominant forms of hues are exuded from the people themselves who retain warmth- Sivasaami and his lover in particular.
In a romantic scene that will go down the memory, Sivasaami wishes to gift her something and he wants it to be perfectly fine, suitable and comfortable for her. He annoys the vendor with all his adorable specifications.

It is something for her little feet. He wants for her not silver anklets chiming as she gracefully hovers around but a Serrupu, a slipper to ensure that her soft feet stay safe from the pricks of the thorn. If deadly electric fences and conflicts over the control of land determine the course of the present disaster, thorns and slippers suffice to emphasise the horrors of an era gone by, its barbaric ruins still left to linger. The spirit of Sivasaami is on fire. As the thick blood splashes all over his face, he is trapped in a place of demonic anger, his body heaving, eyes wide open, his entire body burning with rage. In the next instant, we see Sivasaami’s old weary face through which runs the exhaustion from this previous moment of the distressing past that hasn’t after all distanced itself from him. It has tired him, all that panting, panic and pain. Despite numerous washes, the stains of the blood won’t leave and now they are scars that run deep. He doesn’t want the same scars for his kids.

Vetrimaaran uproots us (his actors and the tremendously powerful crew come to his aid, sharing the weight) and situates us amidst the vekkai of Asuran, in the scape of its suffering, the burn of its wounds and the cries for justice. The horror of the abuse is right on the face, not for us to merely see and pass by, but feel for as we fidget in the seats, our ease challenged with the terror and tremors of torment spreading through our bodies and sinking into the skin.

With the decaying torso, its flesh turned black, all life severed and the grieving devastated family are we left for it is essential that we be a part of their grief, witnessing the unjust perpetrated on them so that when moments of monstrosity arise, we shall be aware that it is not just the glorious good winning over evil but something more , driven by a brute pursuit of self served justice than mere vengeance. In the lines of the film, it is essentially telling us, ‘Neethi ethuvenna indru neeyum kooridu, aadhi ethuvenna konjam neeyum thedi odidu.'( Tell me now of what is justice here; Go run, find for yourself what began this all!)

In the final moments of the film reminiscent of Pariyerum Perumal and Thevar Magan (provided the similitude in their themes and the way of resolution) Sivasaami tells Chidambaram that education is their only source of empowerment. The family has indeed remained steadfast in sending the kids to the school as evident in varied points yet these ultimate words would have been equipped with substantiality had Murugan been shown in the path of making something out of education, perhaps, like going to college. These words of Sivasaami nevertheless ring with sad truths and regrets over inability to channelize the will to fight into a potent and productive force. The rains pour as the family has finally and painfully arrived at the verge of closure. These showers which evoke a sense of catharsis following the scorching heat also entail a deep yearning. The mother tells her man to stay for some more time prior leaving, all of this leads the mind to the words of a novelist named Marguerite, “Stormy skies, says Ernesto. He grieved for them. Summer rain. Childhood.”

The heart hopes that after all these years post that wide warm smile underlined by an inescapable poignancy, the life of Sivasaami and his family appears to be what it is in the poster- the couple picture which forms the icon of the review. This is a portrait from a happy future, a buoyant Sivasaami in posh suit, seated majestically with his gritty gorgeous wife behind, clad in silk. Perhaps, this portrait is adorning the walls of Chidambaram’s house and his sister’s who are probably in the respected strata of the society, taken all the way there by the power of education. This is the hope of the future that shall be free from the heat of the past.

Dear Comrade – A moving ode to comrades and comradeship

Dear Comrade – A journey that is emotionally overwhelming in a gently poetic and powerful sense.

The opening shot of the film is quite a badass one in relation to its entirety – a man pissing in an old restroom, lit in hues of yellow. We see his profile through a door . The man is quite hurt. In the broken mirror is reflected his wounded face brimming with agony. Bobby, we shortly learn his name is beyond pained that he couldn’t reach his lost love, get a word to her and from her . In his despair and desperation, he moves from one trapped surrounding to another in the initial few minutes : first, the restroom where his phone accidentally breaks raging him all the more. His friends, his comrades come for the aid, resolving the escalated conflict; the next is when he tries calling her from an yellow STD booth. He just couldn’t get to her. He screams aloud, unleashes his pain and breaks the glass.His comrades again get him out. Bobby Sobers up as a truck passes close them threatening to run over. He is startled but there is a lot more .His first meet with Lilly was indeed an accidental one and so will be the second.
The wrecked phone receiver hangs in his hands as he rides with his friends in a bike. He isn’t coming towards us but moving away, perhaps from his present and previous self as we hear / feel the voice over coupled with a very stirring background score carrying the same pain and its wails, ‘Why is it that love which gives so much joy when it arrives leaves us with so much pain when it is gone? ‘ He says his life was so different until he met ( or we wonder, left) Lilly.
The title appears : Dear Comrade

All this emotionally convinces us that this is about a man who reflects on his lost love and seeks to reunite. The break up triggers no self destruction as in Arjun Reddy where an impulsive man loses his lady love. Here, it is a remarkable self discovery that rebels against the destruction of one’s individual self. Dear Comrade surprises and fulfils in abundance for it is not merely Bobby’s reflection and reformation but Lilly’s journey towards her dreams with a lot more prevailing above , around and beneath their streak of love.

Bobby’s reminiscence arrives first taking us back in time . The vast seas and bright morning of the land seem silent, calm but the musical roar hits the sky echoing a spirit of empowerment. A group of students robustly driven by rebelliousness rush to protest against the fee hike in college , Bobby leading them all . Registration of this tendency to protest , raise the voice and fight accompanied by rageous impulsiveness is crucial for it is to be channelized into an incredible strength to build and provide. Dear Comrade makes a humble statement that your fight ,your rebellion need not be political or national , it ought to be be for what you love -for your dreams. Lilly says to Bobby that our fight has to happen within us ,not outside. It is these fights they have got to face and win.
Bobby is the grandson of Comrade Suryam. He is the guiding sunlight of Bobby. Comrade Suryam is dressed in white, not in red and he is surprisingly pacific than preachy, letting us know that rebellion and comradeship aren’t defined by rage but what we love and how far we go to fight for it, together.

In the first accidental meet with Lilly, Bobby stumbles as she crosses his path and he falls off the road. These simple events add up beautifully and easily on themselves – for instance, as an extension of the above scene in this lovely long movie, it is in the absence of Lilly and the pain inflicted by it that Bobby gets to the right path in life while the promising presence and perseverant support extended by Bobby enable Lilly brave her bruises ,come back and pursue the road of her ambitions. They both say at different points in the film that their paths are different. Indeed ,they are yet they converge in the tremendous support one extends for the other ( spiritually even in cases of no physical presence) instilling in the other the courage to continue despite crushing odds.

A buoyant friendship lays the foundation of their bond which gifted by the innocence of age gradually builds into love that is held in esteemed regard and treated with the same. It is Lilly’s dreams, her intrepid naughtiness and innate courage that pulls Bobby. He even tells her that she isn’t as beautiful as her sister on whom Bobby was once infatuated. The bond between Jaya, Bobby and Lilly subtly highlights the charming naivety of adolescent infatuation and the benevolent nobleness of complicated adult love.

Lilly goes about asking ,what does a comrade mean? She gets vague, ridiculous answers until Comrade Suryam tells her that it is how we refer to the ones who stand with us ,for us and by us, supporting us and our dreams. Cut to : Bobby playing cricket. He looks up at Lilly as she watches the game from the terrace. They are still friends. Later, post the bloom of love, Bobby tells Lilly that he wants not to be her lover but her comrade -Let me be your comrade.
We now know in delighting certainty that Dear Comrade isn’t a tale of romance .It is a moving tale of comradeship albeit the devotion of its initial half to the breeze and rains of love , building the base of what is to come in its depths. It soars beyond the rains of love and seeks the shine of comradeship.

Lilly tries urging Bobby to dispense his rage for the better . She fails but her spiritual presence in Bobby’s mind throughout his travel heals him as much as the sounds of nature .He records the experience of both, taping it in his spirit.
Bobby and Lilly are now changed people. In his case occurs a channelization while in hers a distortion.Bobby is now who Lilly hoped him to be – patient, prudent, insightful than impulsive. His reformation is the growth of the seeds she sowed. Now, it is bearing fruit, extending shade. A glow of enlightenment is spread in revived Bobby’s face which was once clouded by the trace of an impending storm. The visage reflects the cleansed spirit and peace in the heart. The emotion opposed to this holds Lilly in an unseen cage she builds for herself pushed by the inherent, invisible and almost invincible prejudices of the society.
Her attitude and attire have lost their original sense of freedom. She earlier wanders gracefully in skirts . Presently when Bobby suddenly takes her out, she grabs her dupatta before she sets to leave and we get to know why. She mostly is resorted to her house , rarely venturing out and only with Bobby. She yearns to be beside him , his warmth as the only part of her erstwhile and spirited self is retained in him. She seeks solace in whatever is left of her in Bobby . It is in it and him she gathers the strength to rage beyond the ruins of the odds.
It is not that the ones devoid of such strength are weak, they are but wounded , broken and need a heal. They need a hand of promise with no pity to pull themselves together, raise and fight like never before. To grab the hold of that hand is itself a feat . Dear Comrade understands and embraces this sort of an hurt and tends to it with respect, empathy and care . It denies chances to place Lilly in the pitiful holds of victimhood but lets us see her pain and wish her the will for triumph. Some of us are too hurt to fight. A healing might not mean a cure. Bobby heals Lilly while his comradeship cures her. The disease of imposed self destruction and vanquish of dreams is what we are talking about.
As the cure is complete, the bruises are proudly shouldered as scars of honour . Our comrade stands beside , saying not a word , giving only a brief content smile. Although Dear Comrade is more about the struggle than the triumph, it manages to disseminate this satisfying warmth of the victory and regaining of self. Statements bearing generalisations are profusely used in this discourse for Bobby tells us it is not only the story of Lilly and him but also us , the dreamers, the aspirers and our beloved comrades.

In a larger and profound level, it is in Lilly’s journey that Dear Comrade roots itself and its soul.
Vijay Devarakonda excels as Bobby with his emotionally rooted and veracious portrayal that allows us the fortune to arrive at the soul of the character. Rashmika enables Lilly blossom with all life , the withering and resurrection also are equally enchanting, authentic and hence affecting. The Kali like moment ( Kali: 2017 Malayalam movie)closer to the end where the anger of one transfers to the other is the return of the shed spirit. I wish the verbal discourse that follows had been as powerful as this, giving the rhetoric a more poetic touch.
The emotionally entwined music empowers , empathises and enhances the core of the feeling the scenes seek to plant and nurture. The rhythm, the sound of the film’s melodies and melancholy will now on bring back instantly to our hearts Bobby, Lilly their comradeship besides the flash of memories about our very own struggles and enabling comrades.
Dear Comrade is a journey. The different phases it assumes in the pursuit of its destiny are hence not matters of serious concern.
The more time I spend with these people, the more I get to know them, their lives and the more their hurts affect me and their triumph delights.The length of the movie helps strike an enhanced resonance with the characters giving us scope for our reminiscences and own reassurances.
Journeys matter as much as the destinations do and at times , even more, so do the ones who accompany us in our journeys . This is to all those Dear Comrades.

Dear Comrade – A moving ode to comrades and comradeship.

The Rains of 7 G

The Rains of 7G Rainbow Colony

Rains and sunshine gift the sky with a spectrum of seven colours- the rainbow. Rainbows are formed by the reflection, refraction and dispersion of the sunrays through the droplets of rain. The rains in Selvaraghavan’s 2004 film 7 G rainbow colony embrace the rays of sun through its drops and result in a rainbow that is hued, haunting and heart breaking. The formation of the rainbow here surprisingly follows the same patterns of the natural phenomenon – initially occurs the reflection, then refraction and finally dispersion.

The tragic tale of love begins with the reflection of Kathir as he recollects his past . The name Kathir means the rays of sun. He reflects in the rain on the path of his love story with Anitha who isn’t merely the rainstorm of his life, she is the sky herself. The first time Kathir sees her ,it is against the backdrop of a clear blue sky as the mounting music conveys her angelic self .Accordingly, she is widely clad in blue and white in the film . In notable instances, she is orange and red with rage and green with disgust. She is the birthplace of rains, sunshine and the rainbow. In the first rain of the film, Kathir revisits her memories as he drives through the downpour.

Memories of her face, smile and times spent together flash as sudden lightning amid the rainfall. She is gone and the reminiscences are filled with pain. As a defense mechanism, individuals develop a tendency to repress such pain provoking recollections and elude being drenched and drained by them. The people in the street do the same – they escape the rain and seek shelter. Kathir rides through such a deserted road and rain, he embraces his drive. The onlookers seem surprised and their perplex is brilliantly committed by master Selvaraghavan as Yuvan exemplifies the soul of Kathir’s insanity. Remember, Kathir is the ray of sunshine and it is a path through the droplets of rain that will lead him to colours. Kathir walks into his office, wet and filled with the memories of Anitha which seeps into him and soaks his core.

The echoes of their relationship occupy him throughout the day and all that he is looking forward to is a reunion with his fantasized form of her fallen self. While Kathir heed no repression, he takes denial as his defense. He is incapable of denying her existence with him. A few years ago… 7/G is empty and so is Kathir ‘s life.

The first thing a few people tend to condemn early in the morning is the blazing heat of the sun which keeps going in its fixed direction of desire turning a deaf ear to these rants.

Kathir remains ignorant of such condemnations from his father and gets on per his will. The rays of sun are also filled with particles of dust and dirt in the air . These substances when refined and refracted through rain drops lead to many hues. Perversions and recklessness are the particles of dust in him which get bent as plentiful love and purpose power his potential. New tenants come to live in 7/G and a new force enters the life of Kathir. The monsoon begins.

With the second rain in the season, Kathir moves to refraction. In Physics, refraction essentially denotes a variation in the direction of a wave as it passes from one medium to another. It also includes the bending of light. Kathir moves towards this transformation gradually and the drizzle that begins it occurs in the rain which finds its place in Kan pesum Vaarthaigal.

Kathir starts moving from his medium to that of Anitha’s and is redeemed of his reckless ways. As he sings the bruises of his heart ,arrives the rain chasing the celebrating folks who want none of their festive costumes and happy make -over to be washed off in the rain but what mask does Kathir wear? None can stand his heat.

He lets the pain within escape as he dances in the rain. He is there back at Anitha’s place after she hits him with her footwear as he accidentally touches her inappropriately in an attempt to propose his love for her . The frequency of those who turn up in the face of such humiliation is almost zero. Kathir is the only one . He is sole one who also faces the rain. He doesn’t stop. He seeks pleasure and liberation in the rain as he grooves sans grace to Yuvan’s melody that mixes with a sense of melancholy and festivity, the same way he seeks the love and acceptance of Anitha despite her disgust for him and the lack of gentleness and sophistication in his approach .In this phase, the sunrays penetrate further into the droplets of rain. The place in which Anita holds Kathir in her heart furthers too and she lets it take course.The phenomenon lasts in the few following rains before dispersion occurs finally.

The subsequent rain pours as Kathir fights the goons sent by Kishore. The sky resists an invading interruption and the sunrays fight it as the baffled sky looks on. Post the fight, as the rain prolongs, Kathir enlightens Anitha on his love for her and what a waste her life would be if she marries Kishore. He even moves to seek her pardon.

He stands there in the rain talking to her as she listens on sporting an umbrella. She still is hesitant to accept him .The sky is no wet and heavy but is constantly witnessing the showers and its embraces of the sunrays. When Kathir later tells Anitha that she is afraid she might fall for him, the lady breaks out in laughter and reinforces her superiority. She is above him , she looks down on him as he looks up on her. Kathir’s rants of love that he feels alike flying high in the sky whenever she is in his vicinity provide delightful evidences of interpretations of Anitha as the sky. In her ,he flies ,faces the rains and sees the rainbows.

In the following rain, the refraction is complete when Anitha implores Kathir to complete his studies and establish a security for their future. Anitha tells Kathir to meet her in the terrace by 5.am and in the midst of their meeting begins the rain which wakes the sleeping boys who flee in an instant of the shower. This is the only rain in the film where Kathir doesn’t face the shower. He is shielded by Anitha and he bends. He initially struggles, suffocates and is firm that he is useless. Her push and confession of love aids him in the discovery of his own self. It guides him into the next phase. The father no longer complains ,the sun is calm and he remains grateful to the gracious guarding clouds.

The sky eventually comes crashing down on his head. The separated lovers elope for a night to the hill station – an elevation that is closer to the sky where clouds of mists fill the chill . The clouds come down to meet the raised ground in the hills and there Kathir makes love to Anitha. Poet Maya Angelou remarks , Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Anitha tries being Kathir’s rainbow that night ,little did she know the colours will concentrate his life after her fall.

Extreme heat in the course of Summer that follows the days of monsoon own the might to trigger rains out of the blue. In consequence to the heat of friction between the couple, occurs the fall of the angel in a note that is unfortunate and unexpected.

Denial seeps into Kathir who is closer towards emerging out of the raindrops. The presence of Anitha dressed in pristine white fills his awareness. In his failed efforts to kill himself, Kathir is rescued by a group of Christian sisters who comfort him against the backdrop of the sky .

His divine, his Anitha, the Christ of his life is resurrected in his perception. He meets his revived form of her . She talks him out of suicide and they exchange words and kisses of love . Her angelic influence, divine love persists and dusts off the dirt in the rugged ray of sun. The sea and the sky meet behind them. The sun rises from that zone of meet which exists beyond our visibility and Kathir rises from the same horizon of sunrise which is afar our abilities of sight and perception from the shore.

The final rain wets Kathir as Anitha walks with her umbrella. Kathir’s pain and broken self is rinsed in the rain. The dispersion occurs as he moves away from sanity and towards the force of sanctity and love – Anitha. He is high above and is truly flying as she blends as one with him .From the dispersion emerges the rainbow of the many colours of love and painful memories.

The actual shape of a rainbow isn’t semi-circular but circular and the circle is visible only from greater heights. Kathir who is high above in the clouds sees it – vivid and clear while others catch only a glimpse of the half as they remain rested on the ground. In his flight from sanity ,he sees and confronts Anitha but the others can never and ever will. VIB G YOR are the seven colours that make up the rainbow. Note that G lies in the middle . The love story of Anitha and Kathir brutally ends in the midpoint before meeting a fascinating life of forever in the mortal locality of 7 G Rainbow Colony. Rains do stop abruptly as they begin. The closing frame moves from Kathir and his conversation with the part she leaves and extends high towards the beach street and the dark sky. The sun has set. Tears seep in ,the blue melody doesn’t comfort, it rips off the heart, furthers the wound as the heart heaves and Kathir heals.

The rains of 7 G and its rainbows will warm and break our hearts . I hear thunders announcing the next rain’s arrival and I present here the recollection of a poem that will promptly conclude this piece of admiration,

Rains and love, come with full force ,
Affect everything in the way ,
And leave,
Taking everything with it !

Article By : Mirra

All that glitters is not gold

Kalank

Since its release,Kalank has been bestowed with hate and a pinch of love.Here are a few thoughts on the movie.

With all the staggering spectacle and glitter,the tale manages to stand distinctly at its surface,offering a very few glimpses at its soul and source.
A girl in red flaunts her freedom with the flying kites in the vast dry deserts , an other is drawn to the open gates of death ,her husband -a lone man in the dark is faced with a rebellion,a gorgeous mid aged courtesan hides all her pain in the illumination of music and dance while her abandoned child ,the reckless and revengeful Zafar forges hate with a fire – a blacksmith manufacturing swords – weapons that are used to manifest hate – killing lives ,wounding and is also a tool of defense .Zafar’s revenge is his defense against all the humiliation he has confronted.The lives of these souls are sewed into one with love and hate.
Kalank is in essence a travel from hatred to love that records the pain and perils in the minacious path.A sense of destruction begins it all -largely, self-destruction.Satya’s encounter with Roop commences as one of force and obligation.Satya who is dying destructs the ties of her happiness assuring her heart with the hope of leaving behind joy in her husband,Dev’s life.Roop, bound to responsibilities in her family nods yes to a marriage with Dev ,thereby destroying any further scope for her willful future .Roop’s intro song was splendid but not adequately vital since we get less establishment of Roop’s roots of affection towards her family in relation to her delightful dance of freedom. Zafar’s rage of vengeance forms the foundation of his primarily perfidious romance with Roop.
The root cause of the threatening fates troubling these romances rests in an earlier tainted one filled with regrets than relishes ,one that is spoken of heavily but with less heart.The progression of these passionate stories are set in a nation that is falling apart,ripped off ruthlessly by hate.
There are two nations,two communities and two emotions at war.The clash of the initial two meet a defeated unfortunate end, devoid of all peace while the latter musters up a streak of warmth despite the loss with its illumination of love’s eternity.
Zafar ,is the initial source of hate and its symbol forging the weapon of destruction in the fire- the flames that form the background of his first meet with Roop, taking the centre of the tryst- a fire of revenge.The fire then is found in the corner space when the redeeming Zafar meets his half brother.The fire he lights passes on as a dreadful rebellion ,spreading beyond his control , burning down Husnabad in the heat of hate.
Interestingly,Roop meets Zafar in the Dusshera day and the narration of it is interspersed with the retelling of Ram- Sita’s love,Ravaan’s abduction of Sita and his defeat.How paradoxically parallel is this epic in relation to the modestly fine drama? Roop is married to Dev – a bond not made of love like that amid Ram and Sita but of a forced choice.Ram confines Sita from crossing the circle in the forest to ensure her safety while the Chaudhary household restrains Roop from entering Hira Mandi to avoid any revisitation of a stealthy erstwhile romance.If the deer acts as bait luring Sita,Begum’s instantly affecting and enthralling music allures Roop.
Sita crosses her confines and falls a prey to the lust of Raavan who takes her captive to his kingdom.Roop steps beyond the restrictions and into Hira Mandi ,falling a prey to love .She falls in love with the captor and steps willingly into his world.She intimidates the desirer of ruin with her plentiful and helpless love.The captor is no villain but only the vile in him is, the source of which is not significantly soulful ,thus helping merely in the formation of superficial account.
The hate within him that tarnishes the love flees but the one that he spreads chases him .Here,Kalank registers how the fire of destruction is sourced from an individual’s angst.This aspect is relatively prominent than the drama’s take on the misery of mistakes. Zafar’s manipulations,motivated by his intent to destroy a father who would grant him no regard and legitimacy fuels a rebellion but is that single spark of ignition adequate to enrage an entire community is a reasonable doubt.The reasons for the riots extend beyond that of Zafar – the causes the film doesn’t bother to delve into.The portrayal of a particular community to be perpetrators of hate is a dangerous and unhealthy depiction.
Is the tragic amour of Roop and Zafar a parallel to the painful Partition of India is a question that enables gathering interesting interpretations.I couldn’t stop drawing connects ,closer to the climax ,between Zafar – the abandoned child and the forsaken Kashmir which suffered (and continues to suffer) the brutal brunt of Partition.Did India reach out to Zafar holding on to a Dev? *Deep breath*
Zafar is torn amidst the place of his birth and growth – amidst love and hate.
What could he do when he confronted his Brutus,the one he cultivated? Zafar did breed hate and met his ruin(Well,Kashmir is a regrettable ,massive and irreversible collateral damage)
Let me not get too entangled in political and mythical parallels for they don’t make sense beyond a point ( alike the film!)
The music that captivates Roop allures us the same way and its efficient usage in certain points of the narration is an enhancer- infact,the only one.
Besides all these that Kalank presents ,what it doesn’t is a sense of a profound connect despite the scope offered by the extent of its time and scale.The spectacular expanse doesn’t shield the substantial emptiness.Is an extensive bull fight essential to elevate the intrepidity and insensitivity of Zafar? Anyways, I would like to believe he was fighting his spirit animal.The closure following the fate of the romances is a touch of collateral beauty preserving the eternity of love.
Kalank- the lengthy and sightly elucidation of the power of love and perils of hate can in all means be compared to its Dev.
Dev looks sophisticated , striking but is staright faced,rigid and hence lacks life.
You can see him and be interested,but not know him with an intimacy that might intrigue you.He is indeed a nice man but as Roop remarks , being nice isn’t enough.
Kalank – would neither take you to its depths nor abandon you in the periphery!
Afterall,All that glitters is not gold!

Superdeluxe – A Beautifuck that is beyond brilliant and contenting


In the Disco of life set to trip with the brisky beats of Lahiri and The “Rajas”,arrives the dancer – the Super Deluxe ,dressed in significant shades of blue and orange grooving to the tunes in magnetic movements resulting in a fusion that is fun, fascinating and whip-smart! One among the abundant delights in Super Deluxe lies in discovering what it is ultimately about and how it goes about the same beneath the buzzing airplane.

A character in the film – the amusing and catty Gaaji who is nicknamed after lust and signifies the same remarks while watching an erotic flick,” First frame le padam arambichiduchu da!”- The film begins right in frame one.Well, similarly, Kumararaja establishes his film’s grip right in frame one and with his titanic brilliance ,he retains the same in each and every frame and the elements in any individual frame contribute in one way or many to the story, structure and philosophy of this mega marvel which is an idiosyncratic instance that highlights what a well-built,well-made and well-structured film the amalgamation of intriguing and intelligent storytellers( four writers),technicians and performers can result in making one go Aaaga! instantly and incessantly.
Kumararaja knows his destination.He knows the game and all its rules.He seems to know them so well that he can play anyway he wants to, mending and bending the rules.In his second,the drive is not via a single road but in many filled with turns at the right places towards which acceleration remains at a steady and smart space for the driver here is a badass!The journey and the destination mutually enhance the effect of the experience of the other.
Super Deluxe traces the day in the lives of its characters that enables them discover and arrive at terms with love, acceptance,faith,lust,life and the beyond!The philosophy that packs them goes deep while the path that leads to it is delightful, profound and built with a dedicated amount of attention to details.
Vaembu strives to cure the perils of the havoc she unexpectedly becomes responsible for .Mughil provides shade to her(their)escape for she is his wife! He showers all that he has held in him – pain and philosophies;hatred and helplessness; concern and condemn.
Every character deserves a description ending in an exclamatory mark! Such is their sort and substance! Manickam ,the gem sculpts himself to Shilpa! Dhanasekaran believes himself to be Arputham – the wonder!Post the connect they share, these two men undergo a transformation and cut ties with their families.While the former chooses a new sexuality,the other discovers a new religion.In the reunion with their respective families,acceptance and rationalisation of faith follows.All the world is a stage and in it Leela – the mother and the dreamer ‘plays’ her distinct roles in the real and the fictional world .It is a beauty when she defies the derogation associated in what she does and adds a dignity to it.The boys are a remarkable discovery and addition who actually get to shoulder the crazily awesome theme music.
Talking of Gaaji’s mates,Thooyavan is the one with a petty amount of purity in him.Paaldappa!Well,cats do love milk! Mohan is the disgusted son and Soori is a striking side explaining why he was named that way.Since it is a Kumararaja film,it is right to say that it is the name which explains what an individual is.We have a Don named after the ruthless ruler of Africa – Idi Amin.
Nomenclature is merely one among the bunch of keys with which Kumararaja unlocks the doors towards a rich and radiant cinema.As an extension of the note on details,every shot,every sound,every colour and every light serve a purpose,a mood and a spirit.Every hint and hit lies before us and the greater we take in ,the richer the experience becomes! The scenes go on with individuals interacting while in the background ,the TV is playing or a song is heard.These are no mere background noises – they do have a story to tell – stories that substantiate the subplots.At times ,they tell us what happened and at times,about what will.
A question at the divine forces is an important aspect of this film and in a chance that Kumararaja gets with a space in a school wall that is committed in the frame,there is a Thirukural that goes :
Theivathaan Aaaga thenninum Muyarchithaan
Meivaruthak kooli tharum
Your faith and moving prayers in God might not provide you rewards but your own efforts will.This is just an instance of the intelligent use of space throughout the film.The director trusts our senses more than we do.He wants you to know everything and enjoy the film as much as he doesn’t want anyone to question the logic of his work and mock it.
Kumararaja’s glamorous aesthetics reveal themselves vibrantly in the way he has painted the world of Super Deluxe in shades of orange, blue and bits of red which highlight the issues of the ‘sexes’ and the the aspect of nature that connects them – sex.Shilpa is clad in a saree of orange and blue denoting the baffled genders within her battling to give her an identity.Joti wears a dark orange displaying femininity that features a love which endures and accepts.
Mughil wears a dark blue colored pull-over with a red shirt within while Vaembu is dressed in a shirt of red with a grey and blue mixed top within.This marks the substance beneath the individuals – the femininity beneath the masculinity and vice versa.
Yuvan’s musical genius blends with the director’s for the latter seems to be a master in utilising the tools of cinema to equip and elevate his film.
Attempts as intelligent and intriguing as Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe gain more power when astute and acclaimed actors come on board. Blessed should we be to own actors with such a sensibility and yearning ranging from Vijya Sethupathi,Samantha,Ramya Krishna,Gayatri,Mysskin to the the entire lot.These actors have did an infallible job with a great amount of passion and grit.
The film comes with a soul of its own besides the style and sensibility prevalent in it.It explores gender dynamics,comments on the system of the society ,ventures into lust,talks simplistic science,debates and reasons with our belief systems and questions our faith in God and religion .It connects the dots in our Arthamatra but unathamaaana – meaningless yet beautiful lives and reveals to us the secret of life – Vaazhvin Ragasiyam!
The characters here are attempting an escape either from fear or humiliation or sexuality or faith.With the resolution,the characters haven’t just escaped,they are enhanced and relieved in this sphere of the universe where the system actually sucks and life tends to follow a pattern.
As the doors of love open after the ding – dong,the sounds of church bells fill in stating there is no greater religion than love.All we hope is that life remains sweet and delighting as the Super Deluxe ice creams and the start of this sole life begins in a playful note!
Super Deluxe which chronicles this all in its crazy style is amusing and astounding; engaging and exciting;brisk and brilliant!
It emerges beyond the hype and wait ; it is a Creative Glory! A beautifuck! It leaves us with a question of pride – Yen? Tharamaana directors- na America la matum than irupaangala? ( Why? Is America the only place for quality directors?)
Kumararaja might be quite modest and state as Thooyavan hums in the film.- Naan kavingyanum illa! Nalla Rasiganum illa!- I am no poet , neither am I a great fan!
Well,he is both and beyond it as well – he is a force to be cherished and celebrated! Hope the force favours us with a fortune by heeding to our requests for more of his films.
Tamil Cinema! May you be with the force!

Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raaniyum- Romance of rage and love that records a remarkably raw Self – ‘Real’isation

A passionate chase of the heart for its spade,a bloody brutal blade that cuts open veins leaving the beating heart bleeding whatever be the nature of the touch.How can the sharp edged icy steel distinguish embrace and a threat for it was forged that way! Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raaniyum is a story of that heart and the blade.

The journey unfolds with the words of Socrates:”The hottest love has the coldest end”,the temperatures of the heat and the cold here lie within the people ( largely,the man here) and not in the emotion itself.
The quest sets itself in motion with Gautham’s questions on ‘ Why we hate and hurt a person we love the most? What in Earth is responsible for such a madness? ‘ and spirals out the same not with answers but with basic bases beneath, behind and beyond the emotionally and mentally charged query.
As he attends the call of love,the end befalls and you could just feel the heat and beat of it .There is no Hello!or a Hi!, just the ringtone pausing with the pick up . I wasn’t genuinely bothered that moment about the remarkable network strength in the snow touched mountains as there could not have been a more appropriate and affecting way to conclude the story for you know that this tale will continue to own its twists ,turns , temerity and tenderness.
We have a reckless brute in relationship with a loving girl,the star in his sky and an almost angelic figure .The ‘almost’ is to be addressed for she has her own prudence and thresholds coexisting with passionate pursuits of love.
In Kaatru Veliyidai ( one of the films this one pays homage to ) we had a self centered impetuous VC with a troubled familial affliction ( with regards to his father) redeeming his ways in his search for the footprints of the showered self less love.Here too, we have an egomaniacal young man,nearly a rogue who owns a troubled bond with his mother who chooses an other marriage when he was just a kid.He just can’t empathize with her essential reasons while his father who caused the chaos actually did.
Gautham can’t stand that abandon which insidiously fuels his insecure and violent self.He is more vulnerable than vain .The course of romance here is no tale of the rageous man’s redemption.Instead ,it is his arrival at Self -‘Real’isation.
Gautham doesn’t ever say ‘ I love you’ to Tara even once in the film while she voices and means the same multiple times throughout.When love takes birth in him ,his escape is the only form of an elevated expression and that is his way of uttering those three mystical words – “I love you!”
This film is being widely associated with Arjun Reddy -the parallel here is the similar shades of rebellion and violence we find in the interior of the diverse men whose few fundamentals happen to coincide.Arjun Reddy ! He was concrete ,yes – impulsive but was a rebel not without a cause.He was a neurosurgeon ! Here,Gautham is a ruin who doesn’t seem to be doing anything worthwhile in his life .Arjun Reddy follows the path of Devdas portraying the perils of breakup following a passionate and powerful love.In Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raaniyum,Gautham( ‘the toxic male’) falls in love only towards the final with the assumed reunion offering reinforcement to the dawned realisation.We can, however, state that the points parenting these two films might be neighbours.
The first glimpse you get of Gautham post the racy reminiscence set with Sam C.S’ monstrous ‘Yey Sandaali!’ is him laughing at the climax scene of Nadodigal where Sasikumar chides the ” lovers” for depriving the amour of its essence- this scene fundamentally amounts to a condemn on taking sacrificers for granted – the same ‘taking for granted ‘ is what Gautham does remaining blind and wild to it.
The three friends ,an amusing addition are playing ‘cards’ beside him in the meanwhile where amidst other hilarious highlights, MaKaPa remarks that film reviewing will one day become a government job! Just wondering what will ensue in the office every Friday!
The comic relief is fortunately no dilution .It is weaved to add a layer – a friend’s love life travels in parallel to that of Gautham’s in levels tried and kept funny. The innately prejudiced views his friends share over the matter enters his self and distributes disturbances within ,amplifying his turbulence and temper , thereby, enabling the subplot turn an interesting commercial add that is not wasted.
The romance travels through the routine Modhal to Kaadhal route ( Hatred to Love) but the hatred which follows love is the highlight as it rests on regions raw and real.
When we await all that is distinct and strong, the usual hero saves heroine template makes its way and the constructed coincidental meets add up to their bond.These are very ordinary situations but a significant sum of the same are packed with elements of surprise and even shock with the presence of The King of Spades and the Queen of Hearts who are at diverse spheres of the spectrum – sometimes ,too far and sometimes ,too close.
It all appears to get quite extreme with Gautham at places but by then you are convinced on where it is coming from- his already weird wilderness.This man continues wearing sunglasses nearly all the while – a shield , distancing him from the world around , colouring his vision and view over his life and peers .Well, even the coolers don’t seem capable of calming his heat.The words he mouth are nowhere poetic and strategic – it is all straight and stark. He is the ‘Ispade’ – The Flawed Rage ! In certain zones ,the concept he underlines overpowers the character he shoulders.
Tara is an embodiment of the sparks of love that fights and never gives up – it is a love that is tempest and tender.Her love for him can be summed up as Ranjit Jeyakodi points out ,in the lines from Cigarettes After Sex : “I’m just gonna keep on loving you coz it is the only thing I wanna do!”

Questions do arise when she seems incapable of confessing her love interest to her parents but isn’t that something most struggle with – postponing confessions to merely garner momentary convenience.

The story is substantiated with certain scenarios and styles of striking sort amidst which the bouncy ‘Yae Kadavuley’ doesn’t seem anywhere essential to pass on the rage as the demon clearly is not the woman but the core within .The drama in Tara’s dad is pretty forced too.
In this formidable forum,Harish Kalyan establishes himself as an actor who is not merely an eye candy but soul food.
The standout in Tara is strangely that voice of hers.Shilpa Manjunath is vulnerable and strong – at the same time despite the amateur traces in a few demanding bits.
At one instance in the tale, the conversation between Gautham and Tara seems to be the one actually occurring between Love and Rage with the former asking the latter whether he will extend love post departure? ( A question to which Love’s own answer would be a loud Of course!) Rage replies, powered with passion ,” Konnuduven!” – I will Kill you! Rage nears that range with separation ,only to return and realise the wreck and warmth of love and yes,himself!
Spade is the heart reversed – not just in shape but substance. He is the Rage,The Spade and she ,the love,the heart!
With love embracing rage and rage staging its resistance to it,the card play turns out to be war – raw and real.The victory however favours both The King and The Queen . The warriors bleed and so do they realise and rise.
The trouble in the reception of this rage is that the plausibility to arrive in a middle ground in perceiving this riveting game of cards is quite low.You will either abhor it or adore it with reasons of your own , sufficient to validate both stands.