Sunday, April 09, 2017

Kaatru Veliyidai

There's one scene in the movie Kaatru Veliyidai where Dr.Nidhi and Dr.Illyaas are in conversation and it translates to "VC is all about VC". That's pretty much the centrepiece of this movie.

VC is an airforce pilot who only cares about what he wants to do in his life. He occupies higher ground and he is always looking down at you, even when he is in love. Every time he smiles, you can see he exudes pride and arrogance. He feels superior, compares himself to God, perhaps even mightier and says that he will kill. You know the term "airs and graces" (the affectation of superiority). That's the "Kaatru" in this movie.

Of course, when there is a movie about someone at the border, there has to be drills and war. With war comes capture and then the whole drama of planning to escape and doing it. Mani Ratnam brings back a bit of Roja here, but leaves the patriotism out for a bit and takes the journey of love. This entire sequence of VC being in Pakistan and escaping to India through Afghanistan introduces us to his life at a slow and steady pace.

Leela has heard enough about VC for years. She grew up listening to stories about this individual who is perhaps compared to a superhuman (in the eyes of her brother). She is besotted. The job in Kashmir is only a reason. 

We all say "opposites attract". This is not the storyline here. This is the story of a girl who is fascinated about a guy, gets to meet him in person and is faced with some serious questions, perhaps a reality check.

Leela is already in love. And VC is just getting started but like I said in the beginning, "VC only likes VC". We get many visions of this during the movie - the registrar office, the single malt challenge, Leela's opinion, pregnancy.. there's plenty. So he finds it difficult to isolate himself from himself. He is caught for his actions. Actions that would have been encouraged and found very normal among a group of alpha males.  

The dysfunctional family is a distraction. Yes, there is a bit of affirmation about VC's character when we get a glimpse of his family but its not important. And merged into that family sequence is a song with a wedding and a lot of colour powder which looked good on screen but made no sense. I haven't been to any wedding where one of the events is like Holi.

When two headstrong individuals meet, there's bound to be a bit of an explosion. VC is controlling but Leela stands her ground. And that's where Mani Ratnam excels. He brings out shades of his women characters from his previous works. He gives them space. He lets them fall madly in love but not lose self respect. Leela may look vulnerable but her displeasure at numerous instances shows that she cannot be taken lightly. Her disapproval of VC, choosing to stand by her decisions, and still being honestly in love with VC is what breaks VC.

Kaatru Veliyidai is not a Breezy Expanse (as suggested by Wikipedia). Its the air of superiority slowly leaving VC after numerous rough patches in his life and how he finds his feet on the ground. Its one man's journey through solitude to find his true calling - a submission to love.

Friday, February 17, 2017

When rahmaniacs get upset

On Thursday 16th Feb 2017, I attended a concert titled "The music of AR Rahman" from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and Charindaa. I have no idea who Charindaa is, so I didn't bother much. I have heard the MSO before, so I was eager to find out what they had in store. To add to the excitement, ARR himself had posted a video that he would be present at the venue. I didn't pay a lot of attention to that video, so I was quite surprised to see him on stage.

Anyway, the concert gave mixed emotions to a lot of people. Why? We expected a lot more and we felt that it was a let down.

First, I was annoyed that the organisers did not attach a program schedule when they sent me the ticket. Gates opened at 6pm and the MSO started on stage only at 8.15pm. In between we were entertained for a less than an hour by two random people on a tabla and guitar singing really boring compositions. Seriously, their music was "not good".

The MSO started with music that was unknown to many - Warriors of Heaven and Earth. I have heard the movie but who wants to see a mandarin movie for ARR (not that much a rahmaniac).

Then we were treated to Lagaan and Mangal Pandey which kept our north Indian friends happy but I was getting really impatient. Then they played music from Roja.

Then MSO went back to playing tracks from 127 Hours, Bose: The Forgotten Hero (that was actually a forgotten movie), Lord of the Rings (stage version) and that's when I totally lost it. They made ground by playing music from Bombay, Enthiran, Kochadaiiyaan and Swades.

ARR got on stage and played music from The Hundred Foot Journey for about 2 mins. Personally I thought that movie didn't have great music. So I wasn't impressed.

I think a good percentage of the audience lost it and started calling out Rahman as he was predominantly backstage. This didn't go well with the MSO conductor and he got annoyed. The calling went reached a level when he replied "If you behave well, he will be back". I could sense from his voice that he was pretty pissed. The MSO was not receiving the respect they'd usually get in live concerts.

Finally, they finished with Slumdog Millionaire. I was hoping that at least in this, ARR would sing the Jai Ho piece that he sang in the original but he didn't. An Australian opera singer did his best but wasn't impressive at all. In between, there was a tribute to Indian composers, which was really good (because they played the intro from Muthu, which was brilliant!). And then there was a tribute to Indian Beauties. It was utter nonsense and didn't warrant any presence in a music concert. Also, Indian Beauties featured only female lead actors from Bombay/Delhi which made it even more ridiculous. The madras emotion had already kicked in at the beginning. It took MSO more than 25 minutes to play a Tamil song from ARR's discography and then this beauty feature took it to the rock bottom.

Overall, this concert was average. I think MSO picked music that they can play. They didn't pick anything they'd be really challenged to learn or impress the audience. 

The organisers did the worst false marketing, just to boost ticket sales. I think they should have given some idea to people, considering that the entire Indian population of Melbourne is going to turn up when you say "Music of AR Rahman".

The rahmaniac in everyone got aroused almost instantly. People were annoyed and disinterested. I know its not good behaviour but hey! Its a minimum of 50 dollars per ticket.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Poem: The Runner

mornings or afternoons
opening that door
sitting across at a diagonal view
he sees her
imagining she did too
or maybe just imagining

large monitors
cover his gaze
past those walls
he wants to talk
shy as a butterfly
he just does not

she is away
in a new land
far far away
chasing her dream
running with passion

tired and jet lagged
sleepless and unsettled
she writes innocently
a 2am email
perhaps unusual
how he sees it

delighted he feels
dreaming the impossible
wishing it were
a reason beyond reason

nervous and impatient
he waits for hours
screen refresh
screen refresh
days and nights
with wishes not despair
another 2am moment
never does arrive

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Middle Class

She wakes up. Starts cooking and in parallel, dresses up her son for school. Off he goes. She packs a box of lunch for her husband while he gets ready for work. She hears him complain that he is getting late. That's "ALL" she hears from him. Then she goes to work. They get home in the evening. She makes dinner. They all eat and go to bed. He is in the mood. So he has sex. She doesn't seem to enjoy it. She is aware that their son who is sleeping less than two feet from them might wake up and you know what next. But he continues to arrive.

Its their middle class life. She goes to work and he goes to work. That's what they all do. A one bedroom apartment with very minimal privacy has its own boundaries but he is not bothered. He just wants it. He gets it. He gets it every day. He doesn't care about what she wants. That's how he imagined life should be.

One evening, his phone rings. An unknown caller. She questions. He brushes it off. She realizes. He is cheating on her.

She wants to give it back. She decides to cheat.

In between, there is also a reference to the great poet Bharathiyar and his thoughts on women. On how he wanted women to be what they want to be; on how they should carve a path for themselves and not be dependent on a man; on empowering women.

This was a short film. When I finished seeing this, I had many thoughts going on in my mind.

What makes a marriage work? Is it equally distributed commitment from two people? In the case of an imbalance, is it okay for one person to give more?

Deception or infidelity is just wrong. Doesn't matter who. If he does it, does it mean that she has the right to retaliate and do something similar? How does that work?

What if 'she' gets a call from an unknown caller? Let's say we let Bharathiyar's dream version of women to choose what they want to do, and let them find romance outside of their relationship. What if he finds out, but he doesn't think that he needs to take revenge. How does that play out?

We are a high class society who have enough problems at our own class, where women are slightly ahead of the men in these familial circumstances. And we dramatize/empathize about middle class and low class.