Alex Pandiyan: Deeper than you think!

 

When I tweeted this from the theatre after watching the film, someone I know asked me “why do you watch these movies in the first place?” #NyaayamaanaKelvi 

Now that I’ve watched the film, I must say that much of the criticism the film has been getting is unwarranted. I believe it is politically motivated and therefore I take a strong stand to tell you, my reader, that Alex Pandiyan is deeper than you think!

Innovative story line

To begin with, this film has a very ulaga-thiraippadangalil-mudhan-muraiyaaga based story line. Who in the history of Tamil cinema has kidnapped the CM’s daughter? Which CM has got disloyal secretary, commissioner, religious guru etc.? Which heroine in Tamil cinema has falling in love with the kidnapper? Which hero has uyira-panayam-vechu saved the heroine? Many films, you say? Okay. Let me ask you some more questions.

Which heroine has said to the villain, “unakku dhairiyam irundha avar kayatha avuthu vittu adida. Nee ambalai nu othukkaren“? Which hero has toppled a Tata Sumo with an aruvaal? Which mother has ennai thechu kulippaatti uttufied a stranger? Who makes a profession out of allowing his kaalai maadu to mate pasu maadus in the village? Conviced? I thought you’d be. Moving on.

Naatukku thevaiyaana nalla karuthukkal!

You see, we argue time and again that cinema has a great impact on culture. Then we show our people all sorts of nonsense. But Suraj has taken it upon himself (along with the music director, lyricist and every one, of course) to give the perfect advice to a girl who has vayasukku vandhufied and is being publicly paraded. Watch that video and tell me if you don’t agree. I will debate you till my last breath about it!

Maanam kaakkum magaa Annan!

Santhaanam plays the role of a perfect elder brother. He is the role model for the elder brothers of today playing protector, care-taker and provider- all in one. One 70% of the film is about Santhaanam *saving* his three sisters from the predator that is Karthi! At one point, the Amma character only comes to a level where Santhaanam has to protect her.

In the process of this protection, there are many many mutthaana karutthukkal the female future generation of the Tamilnaad is in dire need of! For example, “ponnum pori urundaiyum onnu. Adha badhrama paathukkanum. Namuthu pochu boni aagave aagaadhu.” He adds, “ungala boni panra varaikkum konjam namuthu pogaama irunga ma”.

Life need not have any purpose

While we are all sitting around trying to figure out what is the purpose of our living on the earth, Suraj makes a rather philosophical point in his own absurdist style. He shows in his film that there need not be a purpose for people to enter or exit a film (and by extension, life).

Take that Saravanan’s character for example. He does nothing for the furtherance of the film. In fact, his brother who gets motta adichufied, Prathap Pothan, Milind Soman, Suman, Visu, his wife character, Santhanam’s three sisters and mother, Santhanam, Anushka, Karthi – none of them do anything for the furtherance of the story. And I strongly believe this is Suraj’s way of reiterating what Nietzsche (is believed to have) said: A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

Love knows no boundaries

There is this one last thought I want to leave you with. I believe is my responsibility to detangle Suraaj’s masterfully woven message about love. Love knows no boundaries, love has no reason and love has no logic. Love happens and no one knows why, how, who or even what the fu(k! *Three* *sisters* fall in love with a *stranger* who their mother has saved from the riverside. They love him so much they play (something like) dikkilona in the house with him (along with very many other #haun games).

Then, the CM’s daughter falls in love with a *drunken* *homeless* *nari biriyani eating* *wayward* *on bail* who kidnapped her *for money* because he saves her from dying while she jumps off a cliff. My only regret here is that Prathap Pothen did not have a heroine. That would have been the proverbial last nail on the coffin!

Saguni – will turn in his grave

(Lack of) Direction: Shankar Dayal (Sharma – as Kalaignar TV just called him)

Featuring: Karthi, Santhanam, Pranitha, Prakash Raj, Nasser, Roja, Radhika, Kiran, Kota Srinivasa Rao mattrum palar

Political thriller (was it?)

Our politics begins and ends with electoral politics. So, Boopathi is a cruel-mindless-evil politician (played rather convincingly by Prakash Raj) who doesn’t think twice about murder, theft, inducing riots or even wickedly eliminating competition. There is no good side to him. He is evil and is going to ruin Tamilnadu for his personal benefit.

One victim of this politician’s pursuit of personal benefit is Kamalakannan (Karthi, the hero) who wants to retain *his* property and stall the construction of an underground subway/ underpass. There is an explanation about how he has been wronged. But in essence, this is the *struggle* of a man who refuses to let go of his *personal property* for infrastructure development of the state.

From there, he uses his brains, sends Santhaanam to jail, manipulates a saamiyaar, starts wearing glasses, becomes a *king maker* and establishes the *right* rule *for the people*.

Common man at politicians’ mercy

Like every other political film that Tamil cinema makes (Dhool, Ko etc. being examples), the common man (of course not the hero, you dud) is always at the mercy of these high and mighty politicians. Saguni, being the story of a *king maker* only accentuates the lack of public participation in *king making*. With this being very close to real life, I don’t know if it (the realistic representation in the film, I mean) is a good thing or bad.

Women power

This is the most bothersome part of the film for me (it is a feminist’s blog. What exactly were you expecting?) The film has unnecessarily many female characters – but I am going to bring up each of them and discuss (of course).

The eye candy lot

There is Sridevi (the hero is named Kamal, you see?) who dances in foreign locations, looks pretty, uses the hero to protect her against miscreants but later ignores him on instructions of her mother. We could have done without her. But you see, the film is all talk about her (love) – so one number heroine has to be shoved on us. And on the hero in the last scene.

Then there is Anushka and Andrea just to hype up our hero (Oh-my-god-he-is-so-desirable)! Even Rajini Appadurai (Santhaanam, as you’d have guessed) has a *jodi* who ignores him when he is a driver but is impressed with him when he becomes the Mayor’s PA (the job that he got on the recommendation of Kamal who has the Mayor on speed dial. There is no hint that he is even qualified for the job. Anyway, the woman isn’t looking for any such thing, is she now?)

The family lot

The atthai (Roja) is a selfish woman who takes her share of property and leaves for the city when the others in her family are giving away everything they have for *feeding* the poor. She uses her nephew (?) as a driver and throws him out when the job is done.

Devadharshini appears in one scene and weeps for the death of her parents (though plays no role in avenging or even seeking justice for it).

Then the political lot

There is this role played by Kiran – an ambitious woman who wants to make it big in politics. She is dressed in sexy sarees and appears as Boopathi’s set up. She displays no intelligence, finesse, political ability or even just independent thinking. She is Boopathi’s puppet, just sometimes being an annoying woman who could be eliminated (which Boopathi attempts later in the film).

There is Ramani Akka (so much for Radhika playing this role) who goes from idli kadai to kandhu vaddi vasool rani to Mayor. If you’re convinced that is a common woman’s guide to an empire, hear me out. She makes no decision on her own – she is asked to contest in elections by Kamalakannan and she does so. He plans her election campaign and gives her the *out-of-the-box idea* of distributing cricket bats to voters’ children (as bribe, of course). He stops her while she is about to withdraw her candidature in return for money. She is also a puppet. She is mightier because she is the hero’s puppet. That is all. Kamal, however, goes as far as to use her for his personal benefit (of saving his house, #youremember). She becomes the Mayor because the Mayorship this tenure is *reserved* for a *woman* and she is the only woman councillor in Chennai. She implements his plans to demolish the property that may belong to the CM. So on and so forth.

In short

~      The first half is unnecessary – so is most of the second half.

~      There is no logic to most of what happens in the film nor there is any meaning.

~      Santhanam is funny – Karthi not so much (there is a scene where he says “thanni, kanni, su….” and waits only to complete that with soodhu. Sigh).

~      (Personal) good wins over evil

~      People dump money on Saamiyaars even if they were sitting around smoking beedi

~      Political thriller, my foot!

Further reading

I hear from people very often that my reviews tend to be biased and (unreasonably) negative. So, I’ve decided to also put up some links from other reviewers. Here are some other reviews I read today. Will update when blog reviews come up.

Pavithra Srinivasan – Rediff

Bharadwaj Rangan – The Hindu

Romal M Singh – DNA (positive review. lol)