Been ages since I did one of those movie-music-list posts. So here we go again.
There are many times when I’ve been totally floored by just one tiny scene in an entire movie, even if the rest of the movie is quite sucky. Some scenes are very poignant, the sort of ‘defining moment’, the sort that make their point very well. Basically these scenes are the ones responsible for dramatic changes in your emotional state, the ones that make your heart stop, or race, or put a smile on your face, or make you wince and squirm, or left you speechless for the rest of the movie and gave you something to talk about to the rest of the world.
- The climax of Siraichaalai/Kalapani: Amrish Puri is the dreaded Afghan jailor in the Andamans who inflicts untold misery on the prisoners. Mohanlal has been wrongly convicted and has to serve a sentence in Kalapani. Prabhu is the revolutionary who tries to escape (and fails) multiple times and so gets the worst of Amrish Puri. Tabu is Mohanlal’s wife, who has contacted a friendly British officer who manages to get a release order for Mohanlal. Prabhu has been shot in an ‘encounter’. Mohanlal is infuriated, and wants to put an end to the brutality inflicted upon all the prisoners. The officer runs in to the prison with the release order. Just then he sees Mohanlal ram an iron rod into Amrish Puri’s throat. He screams a ‘No….’, and crushes the release order he’s holding in his hand.
- The escape scene in Siraichaalai/Kalapani: Elaborate plans have been made and executed by a band of prisoners led by Delhi Ganesh, to escape on a German steamer after blowing up the jail. Everything’s going according to plan. The sticks of dynamite are in place. When they strike matches to light them, it begins to rain.
- The scenes after Aparna and Apu are back home after their wedding in Apur Sansar. It just showed them going about their daily routine. But there was something about the way it was executed that was so poignant, that made their chemistry so palpable. There were no sweet nothings exchanged, there’s hardly any dialogue even. But you still sense the newlyweds-in-bliss feeling, something Mani Ratnam tries hard to achieve, but doesn’t quite get there. Sample: the scenes in Bombay where Manisha Koirala and Arvind Swamy can’t get their hands off each other and at the same time look so ill at ease with each other.
- The scene in Cyanide where all the LTTE militants are seeing their life flash before their eyes while biting the cyanide capsules. That is one point when you actually feel some semblance of pity towards them.
- The one in The Prestige where you see the duplicate drowning, and then you understand how the trick is done.
- In Alaipaayuthey, where you see the opening scenes repeated near the end, after you know Shalini’s suffered an accident, and Madhavan is still unaware of that fact, and he’s teasing, joking, unaware of what is to come…
- The song Kaadhal Sadugudu in Alaipaayuthey. Seems so common, everyday, but the little details are well taken care of, leaving the larger picture to the imagination.
- The last scene in Thiruda Thiruda, where Prashant and Rehman, mercenaries to the core, are each ‘sacrificing’ the girl (Heera Rajagopal) for the other and taking the money as consolation… until she begins to yell at them, asking if they think she is something to be bargained about… and chases them out of the frame. What makes this scene all the more better is that throughout the movie, you are kept guessing as to who likes Heera, and who she likes.
- Panchathanthiram‘s penultimate scene, when all of Kamal’s friends denounce him and leave him, out of fear of their wives, and the doctor telling him right after that his wife might not live. A couple of minutes of torment, when he realizes he’s got it all wrong giving his friends priority over his wife… and then everything resolves itself in true Crazy Mohan style.
- Last scene of Aayutha Ezhuthu where the evil politician Bharathiraja congratulates Surya and his party members on making it to the Legislative Assembly. Now there’s politics, you feel like saying.
- The scene in Anbe Sivam where Madhavan says he’s scared of blood, and almost confesses as to why. He loosens his guard a bit to tell Kamal Haasan that his brother at age ten was hit by a cricket ball and bled to death before they could reach a hospital… he just about lets it slip that it was he who hurled the fatal cork ball, before his guard comes back on and he slips into denial again. Just a brief glimpse of the kid he still is, and then he’s back to being the always-unsatisfied ad-filmmaker.
- The one in Hey Ram after the riots when Kamal Haasan sees his now-dead wife’s (Rani Mukherjee’s) painting on someone else’s wall.
- Hey Ram when Vasundhara Das is singing Vaishnav Jan To when Kamal Haasan comes for the bride-seeing. She chooses a very high pitch, and her mother (played by Hema Malini) is worried whether she’ll go off key when she hits the high notes. She hits the high notes, doesn’t go offkey. Hema Malini sighs. Vasundhara looks back and gives a smile of achievement while continuing to sing. What I liked about this scene was the very perfect Iyengarish touch to it. Guess that would have to have been achieved, considering most if not all of those cast in that scene, and in the following scene of Kamal’s and Vasundhara’s wedding, were Iyengar – Hema Malini, Vasundhara Das, Vaali, Kamal Haasan, YG Mahendran.. and a few others whose names I’ve forgotten. The best touch was when a wedding guest scolds the naadaswaram player – ‘Seevadi-ya chappindirukkadaeL’… the total busybody touch.
- In The Holiday, when Kate Winslet realizes that she’s recently acquired some… gumption.
- In Keladi Kanmani, when Ramesh Arvind is rather dissed with his girlfriend for not turning up for their date on his birthday, and vents out his frustrations. She patiently hears him out, before calmly telling him that that was when she fainted, and found out after a doctor’s visit that she’s not going to live much longer.
- Balram Naidu’s intro scene in Dasaavatharam. He exudes Gultness with every atom of his being – right from accent to ringtone.
- The ‘Ek gaon mein ek kisan rehta tha’ scene from Indru pei naalai vaa. I don’t think I need to elaborate any more, because words won’t bring the magic of the scene to those who haven’t watched it, and for those who have, I don’t need to say anything further.
- I forget the name of this movie, but remember everything else about it rather well. It was produced by Sun TV, and it starred Radhika. She played a very Indian not-very-educated housewife in UK, whose husband left her for someone else, and she is left all alone, with two daughters to take care of. Vikram (of Anniyan fame) was her Indian neighbor who gave her moral support. She tells hims she doesn’t understand why her younger daughter has resumed bedwetting. He appears to share her perplexity, but just as soon as the child is fast asleep in another room, he gently asks her if she cries in front of her children. When she nods, he very politely, caringly says not to, because her children would lose their courage and begin to feel insecure. And casts a lingering look before he leaves. [Aside: This one was where Vikram looked and sounded his best IMO. Yuppie glasses, polite demeanor, formal clothes, guy-next-door appeal, and being the soothing foil to Radhika's helplessness... where the hell is this part of him gone? All he does now is some shite porikki role.]
- Madhavan and Geetu Mohandas in Nala Damayanti, in the third-to-last scene where they are telling the folks at the immigration office why they are in love and want to get married. Maybe this is not what happens in an interview for Australian citizenship, but who cares when they are spouting such sweet dialogues.
- The entire movie Avvai Shanmughi aka Chachi 420. Where do I start? Where do I end? The Hindi version wasn’t so awesome, but the Tamil one is IMO Crazy Mohan’s magnum opus. Such a well-crafted script, appealing to different people at different levels… And I haven’t seen another flick with the Iyer aspect so well-portrayed without the slightest hint of stereotyping or disdain. I can only put a few samples here.
- Manivannan’s love-at-first-sight on seeing Kamal in disguise. The otherwise roughshod man turning into a lovesick guy who reads between the lines when a flower falls on him, or when (s)he holds his hand
- Kamal’s deft gestures – One second he’s gesturing to his daughter on how to tune the video, and when he senses other eyes on him, he switches so deftly to gesturing his daughter to come to him. And when he’s instructing Nasser on what to say, he makes his fierce nods so impossible to tell from an innocent turn of the body when he’s feeding his daughter.
- The scene where Gemini Ganesan is giving wads of cash to Nagesh, supposing he’s Shanmughi’s husband. So rife with pun and double entendre.. it needs to be watched to be appreciated.
- Basically, the whole absurdity of so many men vying for an aged lady well past her prime, and so many women doubting her character being one of the underlying themes, and how well this has been treated by the scriptwriter, so well that you’ll believe it… this is what makes the movie what it is.
You might have noticed bulk of the movies here are Tamil. Understandable, considering it’s my mother tongue, and that I frequent Tamil movie channels more than others. But virtually no Bollywood movie makes it here. That was one thing that surprised me, too, considering I watch a good number of Bollywood movies too. Guess it is because most of those I’ve watched are from the ’90s, when thoughtful movies had become totally nonexistent. No single scene in a Hindi movie has warmed the cockles of my heart or made my brain cells go ‘Aha!’, or showed me a new emotion – which I’d not already seen in Tamil or Kannada or English movies, or least of all made me marvel at the well-made-ness of the scene. They might be entertaining, but thought-provoking… naaaaaah, not unless you count thoughts like “Why the hell am I even watching this?”.