Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some questions to Kamal - Dasavatharam

Kamal saar....some questions:

  1. Govind (Scientist) invents bio-weapon. He then sees his lab monkey dying a gory death consuming. He then lectures that we should destroy the weapon. Lives are important. Why dint this wisdom dawn before spnding millions of tax payers money (I pay 35% tax with no economic stimulus returns you see)? May be Govind thought the weapon would be let into paramakudi wells and turn them into instant gobar gas plants to fuel our stoves for suttaplaam and vetha kozhambu
  2. Why did Mallika Sherwat wear a swinsuit in that dance and have a net in the strategic place? Saddists!
  3. Why dint Fletcher get a translator better than mallika, for tamizh? There was MS Bhaskar anyway. Or was she sent here because Delta airlines gave a buy one get one free offer, for tickets?
  4. Has kamal heard of liposuction? If he does not believe in it, I suggest he develops a virus that can remove his excess luggage in his cheeks and thoppai. He looks like ponni raw rice one quintal bag, three of them stacked one above other.
  5. How old is old? Paati kamal is 90 + years made evident by her voice. But she (especially her hands) make me feel she was an undiscovered evolution of Dinosaurs. She even had dry scales in her hand.
  6. Doctor says "Avtar you are alright. Its a medical miracle. The bullet neatly removed your cancer cells. Now its just a formality of Chemotherapy". Sorry, this is not even worth ridiculing. Talk about a lecture from Kamal on saving lives and the doctor pokes needle into all cancer survivors, ridiculing their worst phase of fight against cancer.
  7. How much did Kamal spend for make up? I would spent just 10 kgs of kuttuvilaku brand aatta. The effect would have been better. The left out maavu could have been used to kill the virus. If tata salt can ruin a million dollar virus, why cant chappati maavu do that?
  8. Two FBI agents came to India to chase Fletcher and the bio-weapon. May be they dint finish the ilaneer till the end?
  9. Why did Jayalalitha act in the movie? Was it because the movie dint have a weighttu character?
  10. Karunanidhi and Bush share the dias in Chennai with Kamal. Kamal is a saddist. If not his gibberish is enough, he dons the role of bush, who is the king of gibberish
  11. more questions...saving one...why the hell did an animated butterfly come on screen. Was it a screensaver to tell, the story is inactive for long or was it to say this movie and the thought behind it can be explained only by "chaos theroy"?

Ada pongappa!

Dasavatharam - Kamal in a Vijayakanth Starrer

I was never comfortable about Indian movies that took gimmicks as the USP. They can never make them to perfection like hollywood, nor can they leave out song-dance-fight-sentiment sequences.
I was hoping Kamal would never do such a film loaded with irritating gimmicks stretching his physical endurance to the limit. He has done that, in good style and very little substance.
The movie starts with 17th century Shivite-Vaishnavite ideological tussle with Kamal as the Vaishnavite protogonist who would kill himself than acknowledge Shiva as the supreme God. He gets crucified in the style of Jesus (save us) and gets sunk into the ocean along with the statue of Narayana. What makes me wonder is why this episode is needed? Is it all to say that Lord Narayana created tsunami 3 centuries later to save us from biowar? Or is it to show that Kamal has a muscular physique and he has a fetish to flex his biceps even as he lifts his hands to reach out to god?
Besides all these, the song sequence that lead to the immersion of the statue and the way the ocean has been created in graphics, does make us sit up and expect stunning visuals all through the movie. You will not be disappointed on this account (saving the last tsunami scenes).
The movie cuts forward to the present day USA where Govind (Kamal) works as a bio-scientist creating biological weapons. You may please avoid asking questions like "Why is Govind working as a bio-weapon scientist, when he does not believe in killing lives?". No stakeholder of the movie seems to care. The movie has a USA portion, there is Mallika sherawat, Kamal, car chases etc. Who has time to think about stichting holes in the story line?
So Govind develops this weapon and the owner of this venture funded lab decides to trade it with know who it is. Govind promptly removes the weapon (an NVS pattanam mooku podi sized dabba, which carries a deadly virus) to a safe (or thats what he thinks) place.
The next half hour of the movie is about swanky cars, fast chases, helicopter combing and some stylish encounters typical to hollywood. In the process we get introduced to the conman "Fletcher" (Kamal again) who brings loads of gore within minutes of settling down in the screen. (You are better off bending down to pick up your pop corn than witnessing the jigsaw style killing of the japanese wife of Govind's friend).
While you still wonder why an American could not have been hired for this role, the movie shifts base to India, where the bioweapon has been transported to. (accidentally in a cargo flight). Much to our relief, Govind encounters a gult supercop (Balram Naidu) who mistakes him for a terrorist that came with the cargo flight. This gult role a class act of Kamal. Strengthened with Crazy Mohan dialogues, the scenes involving Balram, Fletcher (who has followed Govind to india) and Govind set the floor on a laughter spiral. Kamal's role as a Andal's (asin) paati is another highlight of the movie. Kamal pulls off the 90 year old's voice modulation and amazingly, even the withered physique...
The bioweapon which gets to India as a cargo delivery, gets delivered to Andal's paati in Chidambaram. The weapon, through a sequence of rip roaring comic events get into the Narayana idol which is on a procession in the street. The rest of the movie is all about where the weapon travels and how the entire cast camps at Chidambaram to get the weapon. Its hard to reason out why Avtar singh (Kamal again) decides to come to Chidambaram for his live concert. He probably knows a thing or two about crowding metros and second rung cities being the growth drivers? Whatever! Jeyapradha is his wife (Kamal will never get enough of her I guess).
We also dont understand why the 7 ft muslim and his family (nagesh, KR Vijaya) were needed there, nor do we understand what Kamal tries to convey through Santhanam-Dalit leader Vincent (Kamal again) stand off. The kanyakumari-Trivandrum fishermen dialect could not have been delivered better. Vincent's body language, dialogue delivery and make up are sure case studies in their respective areas.
After a protracted chase laced with some amazing stunts and entertaining crazy mohan-esque climax chases, Govind, Fletcher,Balram naidu and the Japanese Kung Fu brother of the slain japanese girl all meet up in the skating rink in besant nagar beach (all trying to take possession of the weapon).
At this point, since we were all given liberal dosage of intolerably foolish and sub-standard logic and turn of events, we dint bother to check if indeed "Sodium Chloride" (Salt) is the solution to de-activate bio-weapon. We give in to believe that it is the case. Thats the only way we can end bio-war and the war on human kind (Dasavatharam-the movie).
What 10 avatars of Kamal (including that of Bush) cannot achieve, Lord Narayana achieves by creating Tsunami and heaps millions of gallons of NaCl (kadal thanni ba!) on the bio weapon.
When we think the movie should have ended, Govind goes into the lecture of atheism and picks a caricatured (courtesy: sriram, for this thought) iyengar girl's unrefined ways of proving God's existence, to prove his point that God indeed does not exist or even if he does, he is not better than bio-terrorists.
Firstly, Kamal should understand he is not a thought leader in the areas of existence or lack of god.
Secondly, even if he does believe he is, we are not there to pay for his movies to get his sermons..We are there to watch a movie. Period
Thirdly, when choosing some contrived stories with choppy execution (which he admits by bringing chaos theory unnecassarily to support to disjoint script) he should have spent less effort and donned just one role (that of the scientist) and should have left the rest of the roles for actors who have their real skins and acting flavors than pasting tons of plaster of paris and looking like disfigured ghost for most parts.
Better it would have been if Kamal had decided to direct the movie and let Vijaykanth act as the scientist. We would not have had much expectation and we would even have not minded if the cargo plane landed in Afganisthan instead of Chennai. Vijaykanth has made these things possible and believable in all his blockbusters.
No! As an afterthought, Vijaykanth as an old paati would have been the worst thing, even more dangerous than the bio weapon itself!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vadai, Avial, Vazhakkai and a sumptuous serving of memories

My wife made 'vadai' today!
Its a big deal in a Tamil Brahmin's family, if you make vadai and it does not taste like adai. With liberal dose of vengayam and paruppu, it was definitely relish-worthy. I climbed on it and flew to those days when festivals in our house in munneerpallam revolved around 'vadai'.
Be it pillayar chaturthi or devasam, vadai is always an integral part of our full course lunch. Paatiku moonu manike muzhippu vandhirum. By 3 30 the entire thinnai, azhi and vasal will be filled with maakkolam (tradtional indian rangoli art made with liquid rice flour). Amma will take over from here and the rigor will begin with 'vadaikkaraikadhu'. For a family of 10 people mixie was never really an option. So she always resorted to 'aatukkal'.
Ambi is an integral part of every festival day kitchen. Ambi will always tak the mantle at the aatukkal. Based on his mood and hurry to get back to home, he may invariably pour more water. I still can hear my mom yelling "Kadangaran...thanniya vaari vitrukan paaru...mudiyadhu na naane panirpen'. I wont forget Ambi for life. My playmate, my chauffer, my entertainer and our servant who is actually an extended family member who is better than most biological relatives of mine. God bless him with good death and relief from his painful last days...
Coming it all starts with vadaiku araikardhu and then vadai idradhu which is again a complicated art of laying the vadai in shape on a plastic sheet to give it the shape. In our iyer aam, we never rally figured this out. Vadai always was a skinny cousin to ones you get in hotels..
Nalla naal na enga athla moor kozhambu, vazhakkai podimas, avial, pachidi, kichidi ilama sapadu nadakadhu. However watery the moor kozhambu may turn out to be, thanks to joint family, it was still a must.
Even as a kid I figured out that the vadai made in our houses were not authentic as 'non -achaaram' vadai which had crisp periphery and roasted onions.
But my cousins and elders alike, liked the vadai and they circle around amma keeping an update of various stages...arachacha? thatiyacha? ethna yedu poirukku? nanna vandhirka?
Perimma oru vullal potukalama...
Moochu kaatama eduthindu kollaila poi sapdungo...paatiku therinja kathuva...
After finishing all houses, vadhyar will come to our house at 11 Am. Ambi (this is my dad) enga? ipothan vaaykaluku porikar appa? 5 nimishathla vanduruvar?
I remember appa with hair spread in all directions, smell of hamam, poverty of his mini-skirtish towel and the soap boxed inside his mug and the washed underwear and baniyan...
Dei raju engada ponan...koopdu avana...
An adhoc mental attendance of chitappas and athais will run through everyone's mind and they send me out to fetch them all for the boojai...
I remember appa turning to me and nodding when he says "vidhya balam..thathaiva...deiva balam..thataiva.." just to make sure I understand that I study well and he is doing his due by putting a recommendation to God.
Reflecting back, I did study well, earn well too. But life isnt that charming as it is in munneerpallam.
So ipdiya pannandu mani aaydum...
Samiku neivedhyam panniacha?
Perimma vadai eduthukalama?
Edukalaaam eduthkalam..with a tired sounding drawl from my amma, to the questions asked by Sriram and Karthick (cousins)..
Appa, Chitappa, Sriram, Karthik plunder the vadai..2 in hands, 3 already gone in...
At 1 amma would go "Dei appa engada...ippideee ovoru aathuka poi okaandunda ena panradhu...naangalam kaaalelendhu aduklaylaye iruka mudiyama...nerathuku sapta thane naangalum konjam kan asara mudiyum? Poi appa enga nu paaruda?"
In that summer veyyil, reluctant to step out, I would ask "Engamma popi pakardhu"
"Kazhuthai ketta kuttichevar. Raman aathla than irupar...ilena thozhu la irupar"
By the time I come back with him, Ponnamma (our servant maid) would have brought her trademark crispy onion vadai from her house. If you think good food is heaven, that vadai is right at the alter in the heaven.
Right in the center of pichumani iyer's rezhi, which hosted the likes of kanchi kamakoti century back, we would relish non-aachaaram (who cares) vadai in dozens...
By this time amma and chithi would have laid the vazhai elai..Amma kizhinjurku...kizhinja vera elai potukoyenda...
Elaya maati podu...ethana tharava solradhu...nuni valadhu pakkam...
vazhakka vendam...avail vandam...
pottu sapdra elam...chumma adhu vendam idhu vendam nu...this is appa..
vadaiave saptundrundha poruma... nalla sapda vendama (chitappa)...
Ipdiya we celebrate a festival...with lots of expectations, toil, competition for good food, advice, prayers and abundance of life...
Like they say life comes a full circle...dishing out its crispy events, spicy encounters, hurtingly hot experiences, melting the vadai ponnamma makes...

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