Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mayakkam Enna: Binds the Viewer in a Trance

Mayakkam Enna, a captivating love story

Bolstered by sterling performances by actors Dhanush and Richa Gangopadhyay, Mayakkam Enna (What’s the dizziness) – a romantic drama directed by Dhanush’s brother Selvaragavan – is a movie that comes out with flying colours on all counts.

Mayakkam...’s biggest pluses are its ability to sustain the viewer’s interest well into the second half (although it does get a bit predictable by then) a pellucid first-half and a background score by G V Prakash Kumar that gels with the movie. The story is woven so expertly that you would forgiven for being lulled into thinking that this is not your usual, hard-hitting movie that Selvaragavan so specialises in, when, bang... a string of surprises bombard the viewer.


Wielding the lens is becoming the wannabe profession of Kollywood’s heroes, amply demonstrated by Jeeva in Ko. So does Karthik (Dhanush), an orphan and a freelance wildlife photographer who dreams of making it big in National Geographic or Discovery channel – thereby satisfying the director’s first thumb rule that the hero ought to be the underdog. Hence, unleashed upon us is a motley of images similar to the one that appears during the title credits of Ko. Yamini (Richa), an ad executive, is the girlfriend of Sunder, one of Karthik’s friends. The two share the coldest of vibes when they meet the first time (a la 7/G rainbow colony); they meet again, and again, and she falls in love with him, juxtaposing Karthik in a difficult situation. He yields eventually and the two get married, and it is here that a twist is introduced, which when given away in this column would amount to the biggest travesty of all time!

The dialogues are powerful, loaded with humour, sarcasm and emotion. Sample this: Karthik when slapped by Yamini for a caustic remark tells his friend that the chicken in his biryani seems to be rather stale; when, later, one of Karthik’s friends makes an indecent proposal to Yamini, she suggests that he look for a wife and not that of someone else. Scenes such as a pregnant Yamini cleaning the floor where she had almost bled to death, are, err hard-hitting to say the least.

It is true that Dhanush has always reserved his best for his brother’s movies, but it is hard to ignore how much he has matured as an actor. By oozing expressions with ease, he is the bedrock for the movie. The surprise package of the movie, however, has to be Richa’s performance, not to mention Sunder Ramu’s supporting role.

This does not mean that the movie is without its share of aberrations. With the first half sweeping viewers of their feet with its brilliance, the second half, in comparison, seems a tad inferior. The train of sequences where one of Karthik’s photographs gets noticed everywhere seems so contrived and protracted, that the viewer may be willing to bet he had seen it coming a mile ago.

Go ahead, watch it. Mayakkam Enna is a movie you would not mind spending your money on.

by Rajagopalan Venkataraman

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Song That Sent India on a Murderous Rage!

Shall I aim for a Grammy next? Actor Dhanush strikes a pose while recording for the song Why This Kolaveri, Di?

If SMSs and online status updates carry quirky messages such as ‘cow-u, cow-u, holy cow-u, I want you here now-u’, you can blame it on the actor-music director duo of Dhanush and Anirudh Ravichander, the people behind the hit song Why This Kolaveri, Di.

Bangalore: Outlandish as it may seem, you would hardly expect the singer of a chartbuster that is doing the rounds in social networking sites to completely play down the phenomenon. But, actor Dhanush - better known as the son-in-law of Superstar Rajinikanth - who is also the singer of the latest internet sensation that is Why This Kolaveri, Di (which approximates to, why this murderous rage, girl), chooses to do exactly that. "We cannot plan such things. It was an honest effort," he insists.
The actor says he does not know why he had to zero upon the word kolaveri as the catchphrase for the song. "We do not know why. We think the concept is new,” says Dhanush, who had recently won the best actor national award for his performance in the Tamil movie Aadukalam. He details that he was keen on using common English words, such as ‘holy cow’, which anyone can understand to enable that connect with the listener.

Unsurprisingly, the composer of the song, Anirudh Ravichander, too, is elated; in his own words, he is on Cloud number 9. "Not in my wildest dreams did I expect such a huge hit, that too with my very first song." He adds that Aishwarya Dhanush – with whom his association dates back to two years, when he used to compose music for her short films – explained that the situation demanded a song that deals with love failure. “In 10 minutes I was ready with a tune and in about 20 minutes, Dhanush with the lyrics.”

When asked whether there was any personal experience behind the song, as the lyrics are intended to convey a sense of pathos, Dhanush laughs and adds, "No, no, not at all."

Anirudh adds that he looks forward to the remainder of the album, which comprises 10 tracks. Why... has generated a lot of expectations, and I want to meet them in the album, he says. Dhanush, however, has a different view: "I am not afraid that the song will create huge expectations about my upcoming releases. It is only the song that should supplement the movie, not the other way round." His latest movie, Mayakkam Enna, got released on Friday, while the movie in which Why... features, 3, is expected to be released soon.

The actor sums up the song in a nutshell, "Raw, untrained singers are aplenty, just as songs about love failure are. Why... is one such song featuring a raw singer."

Take a bow, Dhanush, Anirudh, for being at your candid best!

An anatomy of an internet viral

Why..., it turns out, was actually a behind-the-scenes shoot for the song that also features Dhanush’s wife Aishwarya, actor Kamal Hasan’s daughter Shruti and debutant music director Anirudh Ravichander. The song’s pan-Indian appeal is startling indeed, and can be attributed to the following factors: its eclectic mix of English lyrics with a Tamil drawl, the accompanying “kuthu” beats with the hint of a piano interlude, and the matter-of-fact filming of the video.
A rough version of the song, says Anirudh, was leaked on to the internet. "Tracking the person who had done so is a difficult process, but we managed to.” However, the response to the song was so overwhelming that he adds he would have thanked that person instead, while knowing that the leak could have actually backfired upon them!
Karthikeyan R, a software engineer at an IT firm in Bangalore, says: "The simple lyrics and catchy beats in the song had me hooked to Why... I am willing to overlook the fact that the English dished out in the song was not grammatically correct."
Echoing Karthikeyan’s views is Aashish Solanki, founder designer of a city-based online brand strategy organisation. He concurs that he found an instant connect with the song, despite not understanding Tamil. "The tune was awesome and I was attracted to it instantly." The unconventional lyrics, he says, struck a chord in him. "The mishmash of genres in the song is reflective of the typical Indian mindset," Solanki adds. "With TV no longer being the mass-media, it is inevitable that people switch to social networking sites for advertising."
Enter social networking sites, and you need what is known as a "talking point", which, according to Rishabh Malhotra, founding partner of a city-based men's lifestyle website, was inherent in the song. The song had catchy tune and beats, similar to what an earlier chartbuster, Bhaag DKBose, from the movie Delhi Belly, had, he elucidates. "Such websites provide one-one and one-many connectivity, offering outreach to millions."
Refusing that the song became a hit because its lyrics comprised slang English, he says that there is only a limit up to which marketers can promote a song, beyond which the song needs to sell itself.