Imagine a mix of Three Idiots (or Nanban) and Santhosh Subramaniam, with a dash of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya? That’s Don for you. It’s a familiar premise. Chakravarthy (Sivakarthikeyan) aka Don is an unambitious college student. He has a controlling father (Samuthirakani) who is fanatical about marks. Whenever Chakravarthy fails, his father shaves his head — as an act of shame. A perennially stifled Chakravarthy tries hard to break the cycle, but like most Indian students end up in an engineering college — where he tries to figure out what he is good at.
If you think of cops in Tamil cinema, you are bound to hear Duraisingam bellowing, “Ongi adicha ondra ton weight da.” Or, Aaruchamy saying, “Naa police illa porukki.” You might even hear, “Thimiru dhan pudichavan thimiruke pudichavan” in the background. If you’re an ardent fan of Tamil cinema from the 80s, then a montage of Vijaykanth from various films should run in your mind’s eye. In an industry that is obsessed with larger-than-life heroes, the police force is often used to create brash, loud, messengers of justice.
Udanpirappe is Jyothika’s 50th film. Her ‘second innings,’ as she calls it, has been dotted with stories that champion women. More specifically, her films speak of, and for the middle-aged woman, a demographic that is often left out on screen. Tamil cinema rarely engages with middle-aged women, beyond her identity as a wife or a mother. Jyotjika has spoken very candidly about the gender bias in the industry, and her films have been crucial in representing this space.’
However, Udanpirappe is not a female-centric narrative like her earlier films. The film revolves around the bond between Vairavan (Sasikumar) and his sister Mathangi (Jyotika). An ongoing feud between Mathangi’s husband (Samuthirakani) and Vairavan has led to a falling out. While family feuds are no stranger to Tamil cinema, Udanpirappe has an interesting clash of ideologies at the centre. While Vairavan believes in quick justice, even if it means turning vigilante and resorting to violence, his brother-in-law is a stickler for rules. The latter argues that violence will only add fuel to the fire, and can never be the solution. However, Vairavan argues that our snail-paced systems rarely get around to delivering justice. However, Udanpirappe does not explore these contrasting perspectives in detail. It is content to stick to the surface — happy to make an Anniyan out of Vairavan and an Ambi out of his brother-in-law.
Early morning shows are a phenomenon intrinsic to Tamil cinema. But to witness packed houses for multiple shows at 4:45 am, despite mild rains, is a sight that our theatres have been yearning for in a while. For the second time within a month (after Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam), the crowds had set their alarms not just to watch their favourite stars first on the big screen, but also to witness their favourite filmmaker weave his magic. The applause that Vetri Maaran’s name received at the end of Vada Chennai, was such a gratifying sound. Quite exciting times for Tamil cinema, indeed. Continue reading “First impressions of Vada Chennai: A gritty peek into a fascinating world”
It isn’t every day that we come across an album with ten tracks. But when the music is intriguing as Santhosh Narayanan’s, we have no complaints. His music for Vada Chennai can be split into two parts — one, with the gaana-infused folk numbers and the other, with the melodies that might as well be trademarked in his name. With the first part, Santhosh captures the cultural exuberance of North Chennai. However, he balances this with the other part, melodies that consist of an eclectic mosaic of sounds that we have come to expect of him. Put the two together and you get a holistic picture, not just of the film, but of the composer himself. Continue reading “Vada Chennai music review: Santhosh Narayanan captures the vibrant charm of North Chennai”
There are different types of films that stand the test of time. It could either tell us about the era it released — the themes that get made into films, the cinematic language of that period. Take Balachander’s body of work, for example. The veteran filmmaker’s films socio-economic themes reinforce how different ‘mainstream’ was back in the 1970s and 80s. Or they were made ‘ahead of their time’ when the sensibilities of the dominant audience were different. These films find acclaim much after its theatrical run. A film is also remembered for the nostalgic value it holds or by its time-encompassing relevance. And Subramaniyapuram, which released ten years ago on this day, is a rare film that scores high on all counts. Continue reading “The timelessness of Subramaniyapuram”
Subramaniyapuram is a landmark film for several reasons. It gave us a fresh new perspective that dripped with raw emotion. The film also introduced us to the multi-faceted Sasikumar-Samuthirakani duo. For the uninitiated, Subramaniyapuram also inspired Anurag Kashyap to make Gangs of Wasseypur. “It’s ten years of the amazing film that inspired me to GOW #10yearsofsubramaniyapuram,” Kashyap tweeted on Wednesday. Continue reading “10 years of Subramaniyapuram: It is a personal milestone and a target as well, says director Sasikumar”
‘Marangal aada maruthalum kaatru viduvathilai’ (The wind refuses to let the trees alone, even if they refuse to sway to its tunes.) The line seems to be earmarked by Maaran (Bharat Seeni). When we get introduced to the line, we think it is about him. Maaran works as a driver to the usual amalgamation of the politician, rowdy, and businessman, Thuraimugam Thillai. And, Maaran’s girlfriend isn’t okay with him working for Thillai. Maaran stops working for him but Thillai makes sure he doesn’t land a job anywhere else. But as the movie progresses, you see the emotion extend to the other two – Oli (Essaki Bharath) and Auto Siva (Vinoth). They refuse to be bound by their current situations. As Siva says, “Naanga thaguthi ku meeri aasa padla. Thaguthi a valathika than aasapadrom (We are not aspiring for a life that is beyond our means, but rather looking for ways to improve our value.). In short, they are the trees Milton is referring to.