Friday, December 24, 2010

Manmadhan Ambu: Hits the bull’s eye

Appeared in expresso, the daily supplement of The New Indian Express on Tuesday, 28th December 2010

Movies scripted by Kamalhaasan have always provided fodder for the grey cells. When a potent mix of humour along with a strong subject comes your way, which is what K S Ravikumar's latest directorial, Manmadhan Ambu (Cupid's arrow) is, rest assured that you have an entertainer.
Ambujakshi (Trisha), a successful actress who believes in long-lasting relationships, is engaged to Madanagopal (Madhavan), a leading businessman and a mama's boy, who is wary about her conduct with other actors and suspects her fidelity, leading to their breakup. Madan now deploys Major Mannar (Kamalhaasan) to spy on her. He travels in the same cruise liner that she and her friend Deepa (Sangeetha), a divorcee, do and gives constant updates about her activities, under the agreement that the medical expenses of Rajan (Ramesh Aravind), a cancer patient, are fully borne by him. A series of twists and turns, mostly rip-roaring, in the second half that also include Malayalam actors Manju Pillai and Kunjan, leave the viewers clutching at their bellies.
Certain dialogues between Deepa and Ambujakshi and Madan and Mannar about male and feminine stereotypes respectively give the impression that the director had sought inspiration from the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus!
Ambujakshi, as an ambitious woman, is reminiscent of Jessie, Trisha's character in Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya, and deserves special mention. It is not too often that a heroine, that too in a Tamil movie, criticises the film industry for running after fair-skinned ladies having little diction over Tamil.
The sequences in which Madan talks about life and women to Sriman (in a cameo) and over the phone to Mannar about his suspicions in drunken stupor are hilarious. Manmadhan..., however, takes time to position itself as a comedy movie (only by the second half). Kamalhaasan, needless to say, puts in an impressive performance, as does Sangeeetha.
Devi Sriprasad's music score, for a change, blends with the movie and is pleasant on the ears.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A looking glass on the urban milieu

Bharatiraja’s Sighappu Rojakkal (Red Rose in Hindi), starring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi in the lead, is primarily remembered for its urban setting, as it was then a refreshing change from the rural background in his earlier movies, 16 Vayadhinile and Kizhakke Pogum Rayil. The wheel has now come a full circle with director Sasikumar (whose first film, the critically-acclaimed Subramaniapuram, was ensconced in rustic Tamil Nadu) adopting Chennai as the canvas for his latest offering, Easan, a movie that begins as a love story and slowly morphs into an thriller.
Wealth or an urban background in a typical Indian movie has and continues to be strongly associated with evil and loose morals. A rich person in a typical Indian film is either the villain or at least has shades of evil, while the poor are, invariably, epitomes of virtue. Easan, unfortunately, not only wears such stereotypes on its sleeve, but also champions for it. However, the director ensures that he has an effective and a convincing explanation for the same with his portrayal of seedy discotheques and pubs and women of the city.
Another striking feature about the movie is that it does not rest on the shoulders of a selected few cast members. We have Cheliyan (Vaibhav) (whose character is a far cry from that in Goa, his earlier outing), his corrupt politician father Deivanayagam (A L Alagappan), and Sangaiah (Samudrakani), the Assistant Commissioner, in a meaty role. Characters flit in and out as the movie undergoes its twists and turns. It is to Sasikumar’s credit that such characters are well defined and not there as mere time-fillers. Watch
out for the character of Shivraj Hegde (a Vijay Mallya look-alike).
James Vasanthan’s music score fails to evoke any pleasant memories, as it did with Kangal Irendal from Subramaniapuram.