DIRECTED BY BALAJI MOHAN
STARRING: SIDDHARTH NARAYAN, AMALA PAUL, ARJUN, VIGNESH, DHANYA BALAKRISHNA, SHYAM, POOJA, SRI RANJANI, SUREKHA with RAVI RAGHAVENDRA and SURESH
I find it infuriating when a movie tells me what to do. It’s something I’d always take with a bucket load of salt. Please don’t take me wrong when I say that. This isn’t me depriving the director of his freedom, this is me asserting mine. Cinema has been a role model ever since I founded fascination; some of my biggest inspirations have been movie characters. I find strength in such didacticism that coaxes me into an illusion whose impact I’ve been found to feel even when it’s long gone. The song might have ended, but the melody would linger. That’s what Cinema does to me.
Post-Modernism broke this illusion. The intentions are as valid as they’re not, for we live in a world that can’t go around too long with more tilt to it than before. Where the message was considered vital, filmmakers decided not to sugar-coat it. Brechtian theatre, one of the strongest of precursors and possibly the core inspiration for post-modern cinema, was storytelling at its didactic best. Word needed conveyance, where the man found, in his toneless wit and his biased neutrality characteristic of a reporter, an ideal medium to get it across to the audience. He would rather crucify the crowd than put them to sleep and instruct in dream. Anaesthetics were restricted to the Hospital.
Cinema to instruct, Cinema as a medium to reform, Cinema as the single most effective propagandist device. All share the one similarity in that the message conveyed is important. The director earns his credit in only the fact that he’s come up with something that I, as the disciplined viewer, cannot come up with on my own. It’s a tricky situation. It doesn’t mean that I require the film to seduce me with stark originality, I only demand it to have enough so as to earn my respect. I could honour Christopher Nolan not for conceiving ‘Inception’ but for executing it, wherein I wasn’t entirely impressed with how the film visually turned out to be either. Do you see what I’m saying?
So you see, it’s simple. I’d not want to spend two hours on something that I already know. I do not mean this only with reference to the instructional aspect of Cinema. A film as an experience in itself loses some air when you rewind the tapes and watch it back all over again. In some cases, a closer watch makes way for new dimensions, I agree. In others, it’s as redundant as flipping through the pages of a self-help book. Like browsing through a porn catalogue when you know exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a waste of precious time.
What do you say about a self-help work adapted for the screen, then – one that teaches you how to make an omelette when you pride yourself to be a Gourmet Chef, that too? What doesn’t make for a better life better make for an amusing watch at least. Like the Ben Affleck segment in ‘He’s Just not that into You.’ Key here is connection – how much fondness the movie inspires, how effortlessly you get to swap places with characters and how, as a result, you feel as the film provokes them to feel.
'Kaadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi?’ was a fifteen minute short film. It still is the very same fifteen minute movie stretched to about eight times its length. It is unimaginative, lethargic, suffers from an incurable sort of inertia to kick-off into consideration – which is still acceptable for a short film. For a two hour movie, on the other hand, it lacks content. The short film is reverse-engineered with a storyline that could take fifteen more minutes to be resolved. The rest of the hour and a half is wasted in commentary for a film which, ideally, doesn’t require any. Am I the only person to think that, however ingeniously constructed, the idea of a film speaking to the viewer is ridiculous? I’m sick of movies telling me what to feel. Movies, with background music, overwhelming photography and excessive closeness to an undeserving character. Thank God for Ramin Bahrani.
For a movie with a title as good as a generalization; a movie which IS a generalization, considering its characters talk about ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ as opposed to ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ or ‘Me’ and ‘You,’ it is incredibly close-minded, playing to specific characters and situational stereotypes. Parvathy (Amala Paul) is erratic because her parents are in for a divorce. Arun (Siddharth Narayan) plays straight because he’s never had to struggle to earn his worth. Every man who’s seen a war would invariably make it his own. Arun becomes his own Obi-Wan. The force is universal. It needs to be mastered.
I hate those movies that extrapolate an experience to the extent of a worldview. This movie sells it as one. The content is destroyed with explanation which the movie is philanthropic about. There are very few, very rare scenes which show the actual conflict – even lesser still, the affection. We never suffer what they were suffering, we don’t rejoice when the curse is lifted. Neither is there anything remarkable about any of these characters in this systemic plotline that’s sewn together with rags of everyday scenes from the Hollywood Gazette. What ‘Made of Honor’ did with a storyline, this movie accomplishes with a lack thereof. And that they sucked is this unparalleled feat that they both achieved.