Sunday, April 15, 2012

A placebo entertainer

Published in City Express, the daily supplement of The New Indian Express, Bangalore on April 16, 2012

A rehash of the director’s earlier hits, Oru kal ou kannadi bears no novelty and entertains, albeit partly

And we thought recycling allegorically referred to only leftover-dependant lazy cooks or music composers with little care for copyright issues. Joining the bandwagon is director Rajesh with Oru kal oru kannadi (a stone, a looking glass), which reprises – and ends in a reprisal of – his earlier hits Siva Manasula Sakthi and Boss Engira Baskaran. 

An etymology analysis would reveal that the kal and kannadi of the movie’s title – probably inspired by a song of the same name from Siva Manasula Sakthi – refer to the sexes from Mars and Venus respectively; one needs no nuclear scientist to infer that this is a love caper.

OKOK opens to Saravana (Udhayanidhi Stalin, grandson of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi) and his friend Partha (Santhanam) setting out to Pondicherry to kidnap a woman from a marriage hall. In a flashback we are led through a love plot between Saravana and Meera (Hansika Motwani). Its love at first sight for Saravana following his serendipitous encounter with her at a traffic junction; he falls for her fair-skinned and plump looks – yes, you read it right (can’t we have a course correction on notions of beauty?).

From then on, it’s all about Saravana attempting to woo her, punctuated by comic interludes with his friend Partha (Santhanam), who in addition to helping Saravana has a love to pursue of his own.

One feels that the lead pair could have done with a good dose of chemistry. Sequences such as the relation between Saravana and his mother and Saravana and Partha have many parallels with the director’s earlier ventures. Santhanam – donning the role of almost a second hero, a la Koundamani – brings the roof down with his constant one-liners. He virtually shoulders the movie and makes it for easy viewing.

What could have been one of OKOK’s pluses, and was in the director’s earlier ventures, becomes an irritant thanks to incessant repetition. Dialogues that tend to get serious end in hilarity – not wrong, as long as it is not overdone to the extent of the viewer predicting its outcome a mile before.

The songs save for Venam machan... and Kaadhal oru butterfly... lack freshness and are eerily reminiscent of Harris Jayaraj’s earlier hits. Was he woken up in the dead of the night and asked to compose them?

by Rajagopalan Venkataraman

Monday, April 2, 2012

From Kolaveri to Kola-Weary

A novel love story that we should have had...
Boy, this movie did send expectations soaring into the upper echelons of the atmosphere first with the involvement of the progeny of screen idols Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan in it and then the phenomenal success of the soundtrack Why This Kolaveri Di. However, the movie, 3, a love story that transforms into a thriller, fulfills some of them and punctures some too.

A funereal opening scene is followed by a rich-boy-meets-not-so-rich girl scene; love blossoms faster than the setting of quick-dry cement, culminating in a marriage. Shades of Thulluvadho Ilamai and Alaipayuthey are impossible to miss in this almost fresh portrayal of adolescent love, punctuated by hilarious sequences and brief dialogues. Aided by a crisp narrative and flashbacks that segue into the present – a la Mani Ratnam’s Aayutha Ezuthu – this is also the best part of the movie.

Expectantly, the matrimony soon encounters choppy waters. The viewer is bombarded with medical terms and explanations about mental disorders planting the first signs of boredom, when the proceedings start meandering. One feels that the director has tried to convey the implications of such revelations, when emotions spiral out of control, as the past merges with the present – in a leisurely manner. The difference is even starker given the breezy first half. Nonetheless, good performances from Dhanush – who seems to be in his element – and Sunder Ramu, who reprise roles similar to that in their earlier outing, Mayakkam Enna, and Shruti Hassan, shore up the latter half. Credit must be given to the director for exploring a novel theme, which suffers due to poor script-writing, not to mention the free-fall to logic at times.

Prabhu, Siva Karthikeyan and Rohini, appear in small roles that carry impact.

And yes, the song Why This Kolaveri Di appears in the movie in a setting far-removed from its YouTube counterpart.

Wish that the movie’s title had a more obvious reference to its storyline.

by Rajagopalan Venkataraman