Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Chandramukhi-Review Scene

Director: kudos for atleast picking a non-revenge drama. Its a horror flick in the most original form--original it is not, so doesnt strike the horror chord. But atleast keeps one interested. Well-paced and well-placed [product placement that is], the film entertains on an overall level. Its but obvious that anybody else apart from Rajnikanth is in negligible roles, and its definitely true.[what did you expect ?]. While if you are prone to saying it, "what the heck" would be uttered about 76 times through the movie, it made for fun and hey, that counts.

Rajnikanth: delivers. He almost seems like a guest star towards the interval, fairly detached from the actual movie. His superstargiri is impactless but obviously necessary for the fans. He smiles, he laughs, he mouths dialogs appropriately and attempts the comedy fairly succesfully.He is noble, loyal and kind-and even patches up with a suspiciously Jayalalithaish character towards the end, therby delivering the much anticipated political message as well. Hallelujah!

Rest of the cast exists--which is more than can be said of a rajni movie. Actors are unapologetically wasted, nasser, vineet, etc. Newcomer nayantara is nothing to write home about.Jyotika delivers a punch towards the end and qualifies for being the second real actor in the movie.

Story: Would've been way better if in the original. Prabhu and Jyotika move to a palace with extended family for a project and the bhoot of chandramukhi haunts the place and its occupants. Rajnikanth as a [ahem] psychologist from AMEEErica attempts to solve the case. Havent seen such a storyline in tamil in a looong time, so its a good change from the "love" and "revenge" theme of the past decade.

As is true of all movies, keep logic aside please. Its an entertainer of the illogical variety, give it the due credit it deserves.

Chandramukhi-Movie Scene

Product placement finally hit tamil movies fullblast. Movie is preceded by ad for Airtel, connecting two vague things like "chandramukhi" and Airtel phones. The host beams happily into the camera and proclaims herself happy as she has Airtel. "And now for the Superstar movie--Chandramukhi!!" she trills while the movie begins. Bunch of engineers in construction van are being attacked by "villains" [notice the quotes. Indicates am clueless of the who,why,what,where of the villains. They pop out for a significant part of the movie]. While obese Hero "prabhu" tries to rush to the rescue, a henchman is smacked in the face by a pair of cheap keds. Camera moves from sole of shoe [size 8] to face of the superstar. Commendable make-up, the senior citizen almost resembles the 45 year old sensation. Background music goes wild, as does the theatre. A guy stands up to throw torn paper at the screen, while self is hoping that the theatre-guys screen the entry shot for a small aarti [its true. Have been there]. Doesnt happen, but shrill whistles continue unabated--screenshot seems frozen for such a moment so that nobody misses a single dialog. After a lengthy minute, the noise dies down. Now Rajnikanth proceeds to single-handedly destroy any memory of "The Matrix". Mr.Anderson is down on his knees, begging for mercy as the superstar flies, freezes and swims in the wind to bash up goons. The spectacular fight ends with the superstar jumping up in the air, freezing, and dusting shoes before landing expertly upright. Hallelujah!

Guy on left takes offense to laughter at fight-"If its crouching tiger hidden dragon everyone will see but not superstar" he sulks. Mom smiles kindly at hurt fan, and looks at me as if to say " Freeze that thought on copycat directors". This, by the way, is fan-dom at its best. There is no sense or logic in the movie--the dialogs, obviously patronizing ["I have heard ravana has 10 brains in 10 heads but superstar has 10 brains in one head"]. Its obscene watching Rajnikanth prace around his grandaughter aged actress. Nobody is allowed decent screen-time and its a VERY souped up version of a perceivably classy mallu movie. But the theatre is elated, logic to hell.After atleast a decade I came out of the theatre with smiling, laughing audience--no matter what the reason, they enjoyed themselves. The incredulousness of the movie,the arguably unfunny comedy--it all bundled into one fun session for the crowd, and hey, one cant argue with a crowd-pleaser. A Rajni movie is guilty-pleasure--you know there is nothing intellectual in there, but you are drawn to it,even if to mock its stupidity as it provides for what isnt very common these days, "entertainment in the true sense".

But how was the movie you ask? hmmm.

Chandramukhi-Theatre Scene

Southiedom is totally fun--absolutely love the trip to local saravanabhavan and immersing self in total tamil chatter [vennai, aapu, soooper all inclusive]. Guy could never get why, but put that down to his innate MBCTness [Mumbai Born Confused Tamilian--the chembur/Matunga variety who are basically neither here nor there]. Waiting for a Rajni flick in the theatre was no 4 AM wedding, but hey, i dont complain.

So here i am, waiting patiently in what could be called a line only in amoebaland. Mom alternates between reading tamil magazine and identifying people by city-names [a "poda vennai" dialog instantly brought "madras" to her lips, while the mention of "nadu center"earned the speaker a smug "coimbatore" tag]. The guy melts into his blackberry, scanning even junk mail for want of anything to do. The show is to start half-hour late, informs the theatre-manager, prompting a shrill-seeti [whistle] from a dangerously delirious guy. Good-natured laughing immediately follows while i triumphantly look at guy as if to say "see, the fun begins now". Bespectacled uncle, grandkid in tow complains "Whaat is this saar.I thought heeyar atleast movies will start on time". He turns around hoping someone listened, i give him a small smile that indicates i heard him [so dont repeat your complaint again] but small enough so he doesnt think of me as too friendly. Uncle doesnt get the hint: "so much time they take" he adds at a lower decibel, helpfully. "Yes yes" amma jostles her way in. "Phew!" i say, thankfully, trying to squeeze out so that "god knows when in the past we must've been neighbors" chennaites could proceed when mom does the inevitable, introduces me. "This is my daughter,she lives in Fremont"-i almost except a "say hello to uncle" but thankfully mom realizes i am capable of such actions. Guy smirks from my left, and i give him a dirtylook. As his smirk continues, i do what is only right. "And this is my husband, uncle" i gleefully state. Guy gives me a sour look while nodding hello. I havent had enough. "He knows a lot of people in Cisco" i proclaim sadistically. Uncle has just mentioned his "wonly son" working in Cisco and guy hates the presupmtion by parents that cisco will contain only one indian, their child, who every other indian would automatically know.

As uncle enthusiastically describes his son [tall, about 5' 6" with spectacles. he is very popular among his friends at Cisco. Every day or other someone comes to meet him at home, he adds helpfully] Mom nods happily at well-connected son-in-law while guy mumbles something about the friggin' size of Cisco. I peer at posters of telugu and tamil flicks and flyers of uncoming events when manager proclaims doors open. Stampede ensues, with someone screaming "jaragandi jaragandi" in manner of tirupati temple. Nobody laughs, everyone holding to their loved ones as they stumble, plot and scheme for seats together. walking among empty popcorn wrappers and spilt tea, i secure three bright spots on the 10th row. comfortably far from teh screen, but probably still decibelly overwhelmed due to speakers nearby. "Oh boy!" i exclaim joyously, "its gonna start!". Guy starts for the restroom while i land a firm hand on his wrist-"how can you go NOW? What if you miss Rajni's entry scene?" i ask horrified. Guy looks equally horrified, but for different reasons and sit, resigned on chair.

The hall darkens...loud whistles erupt...and the movie begins....

Friday, April 01, 2005

Someone's On My Shoulder

Massach [short for the untypeable state MA] sat firmly on the right shoulder, looking appropriately bored, even though the meeting hadnt even started. Snow-shovel was placed lazily by his side, dangling from my shoulder."Gosh, you are rather heavy" i remarked, shifting my weight a bit to balance the well-padded massach. Moving a bored eyeball towards me [well, both actually. but i dont particularly like massach and the spookier he sounds, the better for me],"duh! its still winter here aint it?" he asked in manner of trying to explain to an idiotic child. To be fair, massach had all reasons to be rude. He had been pulled out of shovel-the-frontyard activities to participate in a meeting with self, massach and soon to be ex-state, california who was yet to arrive. CA sauntered in, clad in an aloha shirt and fairly skimpy shorts even for a guy. "Aloha" he trilled prettily, sitting daintily on the empty left shoulder, light as a feather and tanned to boot [really, he had tan leather boots]. Massach groaned, "Identity crisis" he spouted venomously, "still in denial for the hawaii rejection CA?" he asked, grinning. I muttered something inaudible even to self, hoping the topic didnt balloon and take away all attention i am supposed to get. Everyone knew CA had the hots for hawaii.Hawaii, well, couldnt care less. There was nothing CA could give her, giving her no incentive to move closer to the mainland. She had the beaches, the palm trees and the cocktails-on-the-beachfront. CA was after all, a wannabe hawaii. CA was heartbroken, refusing to let go of Hawaii memories and still insisting CA was the land of sunshine, surfboards and golden beaches. EVeryone knew he went to a tanning saloon every month near LA to get the golden look, but hey, who are we to complain?

"So whats all this shing-a-din about?"he trilled, ignoring Massach. He sipped a badly made pinacolada while adjusting the sunglasses and relaxing back on my now aching shoulder. "Well" i cleared my throat, "As you both know, I had informed people yesterday I was moving out of CA and into Massach. I just wanted to make sure you were ok with this". I looked warily at CA, very well known for his "expressions of emotions" that could run for as long as a Dr.Phil show."yeah i heard it on the state-vine" he said nonchalantly, "sure, no problem!". I was hoping this was another in-denial state of CA. I was after all, a golden adopted child of CA, pretending the sun and the sand was perfect while all the time i was wondering why it was too much like pune, weather-wise. But CA couldnt care less, only too glad to let a pseudo-californian mess his purist CA race. After all, i wasnt exactly roaming around in shorts or skimpy bikinis. Nor did I consider surfing a sport. I was doing nothing to appreciate what CA had to offer, in his opinion, which he stated in no uncertain terms. So I was free to trot around to any state as i please. "Damn!" i thought, "This was supposed to be a farewell, not a happy relief discussion". I turned towards Massach, who was now comfortably pretending to snore disdainfully. "Umm Massach?" I called out. I personally thought self qualified pretty well to be a Bostonian. As my grandmom often claimed, while making onionless veggies for dinner, "we were pure brahmins" [therby foregoing tasty seasonings like garlic and onion] and well, everyone knows of the Boston Brahmins. "Do i have a choice here?" he asked, visibly unhappy about another "what is a snow shovel? you mean i have to pick at the car before driving it?" case out of extremist CA."Well, you dont you know" I muttered. "I did specify yesterday I was moving out April end. Am even looking for movers!" I say brightly."yeah, whatever" Massach says uncharacteristically pulling out vocab from CA.

"Here is your entry test" Massach says, as if everyone would be aware of it. Sealed with a firm Harvard logo, it looked like 24 pounder, with plenty of space for writing down answers. "Entry test?" i mutter, the same way i muttered "DMV Test?" to the official like i was born to bypass tests. "Its needed, you know" he says, offering a 20 minute oral exam alternative instead. I take it, hell, am an adopted californian, can talk my way through anything no? Or atleast fill my sentences with "like, you know" till am expected to stop talking. "Red Soxs is..." Massach asks, one eyebrow raised. "passe of course" i say proudly. I stand up full length to show him my bright blue knee length polka-dotted socks. "Beat this" i say proudly. Massach groans visibly while CA looks around for the recycling bin and does stress-exercises for the 7th digit on palm. "There is an option here you know" Massach says, putting the question paper down firmly. "Whazzat?" asks CA, obviously upset i dont recycle my cans and very much glad i am leaving. "Well you could tell the truth" Massach says severely. "To whom" i ask, nervous to have been caught. "To the DSSers thats who!" Massach roars. "You arent moving nowhere are you? Liar liar pants on fire. April fool's day joke is all that you had in mind"! he takes a swig out of CA's almost empty pinacolada and takes quick short breaths. "Umm" i grin stupidly. "It did work, no?" i ask glad to get this off my mind. "You claimed i suck" CA sulked.

Curtains close on sulking CA, pinacolada discovering and liking Massach and stupidly grinning self.

CA rocks guys. Thats the truth. Happy April Fools day :-)

Pleased as punch [yep resh. I still dont get why punch is pleased but it sounds nice dont it]