This is one of the two allegedly up-market watch-this-film-if-you-want-to-be-known-as-intelligent films I watched last weekend (the other one is Dhobi Ghat and that’s coming very soon here). For now, it’s just Mannaar, MadanaGopal and Ambujaakshi!
This is a Kamal Haasan film. Kamal Hassan has written the story, screenplay and dialogues for this film, making it for at an audience of a different league (at least, reportedly).Well, it must have been. For I wasn’t so awed at it, to say the least. let’s delve in.
There is comedy. Some fantastic lines. The film is around and about stereotypical suspecting fiances, cruel mothers of these fiances, divorced friends, bed-ridden partners and their tear-stricken wives.
Ambu (played rather un-annoyingly by Trisha, for her own good) is an independent successful woman of today who speaks ‘Anglo-Tamil’ (as she herself calls it) for acceptance and writes (or reads or whatever) Tamil poetry in her free time. She loves the man in her life but can’t particularly give up her career for him. They all talk about her being smart and sharp and all, I wonder what makes them think so. Throughout the film, she is so beautifully led by the people around her!
Major Mannaar (the Kamal Hassan who looks far from the charming self) ‘lies’ to his boss to save his friend’s life and the whole film is a comedy of lies. It is so predictable what this man would say (may be not so much) and do (for sure) next. You just know what’s going to happen next. As an ex-army man, a current detective, a widower, a French speaking widower, as Kamal Haasan..where is the charm, I say?
Madana Gopal (a drunk Madhavan who makes me think he accepted this film only because it was Kamal’s) is after his girlfriend’s life in sheer suspicion. Under the able guidance of his mother (who is the vamp, by the way), he hires a detective to spy on his girlfriend. Fantastic! But he sits in front of the TV and watches what’s called ‘emotional atyachar’ and passes crass comments about it. He is totally drunk for a good part of the film and after a point, isn’t funny anymore!
Deepa (played by Sangeetha, whose children are named Bhagirathi and Vishwanathan, in traditional Indian ways, but are called “bags” and “Vish” anyway!) has some of the best lines in the film. But the climax scene of getting drunk and “loving” Madan is totally tasteless! The young boy being told untrue things about his mother in the toilet…Nah! I’ll pass that!
Kunju Kurup and Manju Kurup practically speak Malayalam throughout the film. Why, may I ask? Oh yes, they are Malayalis! Too bad that the audiences (like me) don’t know Malayalam.
I don’t even want to talk about Ramesh Aravind and Urvashi in the film. Totally wasted!
Most certainly, the film is not all bad. It was indeed an entertaining watch and a lot of things must have contributed to that. For a start, Kamal Haasan has written some brilliant lines. From whatever little I recall, Deepa in a scene says “the matrimony was lousy. But the alimony was super”, summing her character up, all in one line (It’s not a judgement I am passsing)!
Some poignant lines of irony “Enakku cleara oru vazhi theiryudhu ma” [I see a clear way ahead] in a scene where Mannaar has walked in to a dead end and “nadutheruvula ukkandirukken” [I am sitting in the middle of the road] in a scene where he is literally sitting in the middle of the road.
In a scene, he says (something to the effect of), “Thappu panravangalukku thimiru kattupudi aagaadhu. Aana nermaiyaanavangalukku thimir than veli” [For people who are making mistakes, arrogance is not affordable. For the honest, arrogance is the protective fence]. Such an interesting thought that (certainly may have been said before. But I first heard it from him)!
“Ellaathayum vida veeramaana vishayam ahimsai. Idhu enakku modhallaye thrinjirundha naan ivlo kolaigal panni irukkave maaten” [Non-violence is the purest expression of valour. Had I known this before, I’d never have killed all the people I did (as an Army Major).] : A political statement about military and defence after all the ones about capital punishment, socialism, religion among others.
The song that’s shot backwards is a commendable effort as a song and as a narration technique. It’s a story told in less that 5 minutes and told so effectively that I know more from the song than from the whole film, I guess.
In the end, it’s the lines that make me want to watch the film again. I perhaps will when the DVD is out. But what scares me most is having to go through the last hour of badly executed Crazy Mohan like comedy! Chaos that isn’t particularly tickling. It’s a very interesting watch! It’s not one bit a rib tickling comedy! May be it wasn’t meant to be!
P.S: There is one other thing that has been ringing in my head. The brand positioning of Fortis Hospitals in the film. There are logos, references and all sorts of ways to tell the audience about Fortis in almost all hospital scenes (Ramesh Arvind’s and Kamal’s wife’s). Awesome! I know now that Fortis does Chemotherapy! But, have they noticed that throughout the film Urvashi cries that the doctor’s wouldn’t operate on Ramesh Aravind (sorry for not remembering character names) if they were not given apparently huge sums of money. I think of Fortis as money making machines with absolutely no regard for human life! Is it just me? Or is it really brand positioning gone awfully wrong?